HELLO, ANYONE OUT THERE….Sounds of crickets meeting my ears…Um, I have no words for my extreme tardiness besides how sorry I am. Writers block sucks bad!

I want to give a HUGE thank you to my darling Beta! Yuki Sakura-Chan! She's my girl and I HEART her immensely! She polishes each chapter up to shine just for you!

It should be clear by now that I don't own anything...but it sure does own me!

Since it has been so long I'll give you a brief play by play: On the very eve of Bella's engagement to sweaty Michael, Edward sweeps her away (well they run away together because Edward's brothers had a run in with the law) The fate of the Cullen brothers are unknown at this time. Emmett was shot; James and Jasper had taken off like Edward. Edward and Bella stopped in the woods where Edward found them some new clothes to get rid of the bloodstained ones that they had on. Once all cleaned up they made their way into a new town for the night. Edward knew a lady that owned an Inn and fangled them a few rooms for the night.

Last Chapter:

"I meant what I said downstairs," he said as we walked.

"About?"

"About you bein' a Cullen," he said softly.

My steps faltered for a moment. "Oh," I breathed out.

"It's something we need to talk about," he said with a grin, pullin' me to a stop. "But not right now, right now we have to face Katie."

*~*~*~*BS&CB*~*~*~*

I gripped his hand as we walked down the stairs together; I wasn't too worried though since my strange talk with Ms. Katie in my room. She seemed to be pacified that I was here on my own terms not against my will.

Edward seemed to know where he was goin' as he steered us down a dark hallway into a brightly lighted dining area that was set up with a few mismatched tables and chairs.

"You know Ms. Katie pretty well," I pointed out softly.

A small smile graced his features for a moment. "We've been stayin' here on and off since I was just a lad. We never given her any trouble and makes sure we have a warm dinner and a soft bed when we come through town."

"Do me a favor though," he says pullin' me to a stop. "Don't mention Emmett being shot and all. Me showin' up with you; unmarried and without a chaperone is probably pressin' the limit of patience she has. If she thought I was runnin' from something, I don't know if we'd be safe stayin' here."

"Okay," I agreed. I could see what he was tryin' to say, plus it was better not to implicate Ms. Katie any further into this mess.

He swiftly brought our entwined hands to his face and placed a soft kiss on my knuckles. "I love you so, Bella."

"I love you, too, I reply softly.

"And I love y'all, too. But I would love to feed you more," Ms. Katie's voice breaks into our conversation from the arched doorway that must led into the dining room. By the cheerful smile on her face, I had to guess she hadn't heard what Edward and I were talkin' about before she interrupted us.

Edward tugged me forward, followin' behind Ms. Katie into the softly lit room.

"I scrounged up some left over's from supper earlier," she said directin' us to a small table by a window. "I got it in the oven warmin' up; I'll go grab it for y'all."

"Can I help with anything?" I asked as Edward pulled out a chair for me.

"Not a thing," she said with a warm smile. "You've had a journey; I'm sure and need the rest. It should only take me a moment plus I have my granddaughter, Laurie-Ann, here to help."

She gave Edward a slightly pointed look before turnin' to head out of the room; I turned to Edward just in time to see him wipe a grimace from his face.

Before I could ask what that was about, a petite blonde girl slipped out of the kitchen. Her shiny hair hangin' loosely down her back and the blue in her gingham dress makin' her dark blue eyes sparkle.

"Edward," she just about squealed almost spillin' the glasses of water that she was carryin'.

"Laurie-Ann," he replied in a stiff voice. "Let me introduce my fiancée, Isabella."

At his words her body stiffened and her sparkly eyes blazed as she turned to look at me.

"Fiancée?" she asked in confusion. Hurt lacin' her tone.

"Yes" he said simply as he reached out to hold my hand that was restin' on the table top.

"Y'all gettin' married?" she asked in disbelief.

"That is what fiancée means," he said with a chuckle that sounded forced. My stomach dropped to my feet, I couldn't help but feel like there was more to the story then I knew. Was this girl someone that had been special to him at one time?

"But you said that you'd never marry," she said boldly. I couldn't believe that she felt that she could speak so freely. Not only were we guests here but I was just introduced as his fiancée.

"I guess I just hadn't met the right person yet," he answered her in a hard tone.

She seemed to bristle at his words, her whole body tensin' as she slapped our glasses down onto the table, water sloshin' out of the top and saturating the linen table cloth under them.

"My gram will be out in a minute," she said briskly, turnin' on her heel and rushin' out of the room.

We sat in a strained silence for a moment, Edward gripin' my hand tightly in his.

When it became obvious that he wasn't going to offer any further explanation, I decided that it probably wasn't worth being very upset over. She had obviously at one point in time made her intentions towards him clear and he didn't return those feelin's. He was sittin' here with me, wantin' to marry me; I couldn't find it in myself to be too worried about her or her intentions.

Peace filled me then and I said a silent thank you prayer to the Lord above for easin' my fears.

"I'm sorry about that," he finally said after a few more moments.

"It's okay," I said, givin' him a gentle smile which he returned with one of his own.

"Alright, my dears, I have food," Ms. Katie's said steppin' back into the dinin' space. "I'll leave y'all with the first course and get the second prepared to come on out. Laurie-Ann retired to her room for the evenin', silly girl is havin' a fit of the vapors."

She rolled her blue eyes as she set food laden plates on the table in front of us. "If you ask me these fits are more in her head then actually happenin'."

After settin' both plates down, she turned back towards the kitchen. "I'll go grab the roast and then we can have a talk."

I breathed in the delicious food in front of me, cut up vegetables, corn bread and mashed potatoes. I didn't realize how hungry I was until I had food in front of me.

My stomach rumbled loudly, which earned a chuckle from Edward. "I'm sure you're starved," he said pickin' up his fork. "A ride can take it out of you."

I nodded my head in agreement as I picked up my own utensil. Just as Edward was about to dig into his potatoes I couldn't help but stop him.

"We have to say Grace," I said quietly.

"Oh, yes, of course," he stuttered out. I gave him a small, understanding smile as I bowed my head.

"Dear Father, who art in Heaven please bless this food that has been set before us. Bless the fields that the wheat was harvested from and the gardens that produced the vegetables. Please Lord, also bless our families, the ones that have gone before us and the ones that are still here. Please keep careful watch on the hurt or down trodden," I wanted to pray directly for Emmett, but with Edward's warnin' still fresh in my mind, I added him silently in my head. "Bless us all Father, Amen."

"Amen," Edward said gruffly as he squeezed my fingers between his.

"You've got yourself a good girl here," Ms. Katie said from the doorway. "Lovin' the Lord is an amazin' thing."

"Thank you, ma'am," Edward said with a smile. "I know how lucky I am."

Warmth spread through me at his words.

"And don't your forget it," She said with a boisterous laugh. "Now here is the roast all warmed up."

She set a large platter onto the table top before she pulled out a chair opposite us and sat down.

"I hope y'all don't mind if I join you," she asked once she was settled.

"Of course not, Ms. Katie, it would be an honor," Edward said turnin' on the charm.

"Hush you," she said with a laugh. "I've already eaten but I thought this would give us a chance to talk."

"Of course," Edward said settin' his fork down. "What would you like to know?"

"How's the family, Edward?" She asked after a moment.

"Everyone is doin' good. James is up to no good as usual," he said with a cheeky grin that earned a chuckle from Ms. Katie. "Jasper met a nice young lady and is close to settling' down himself and Emmett.."

He paused there, takin' a deep breath. "Emmett and his new bride Rosalie are hopin' to be with child by this fall."

"A baby," Ms. Katie chortled, her whole face lighting up with glee. "Well I'll be, that there is very fine news."

Edward held a smile on his face the whole time, but I could see the turmoil and anxiety in his eyes. Not knowing the fate of Emmett had to be takin' a toll on him.

"It sure is," he forced out before startin' to eat again. Big fork full of food made it into his mouth durin' the silence that followed.

"And how about you, Isabella?" she asked, turnin' her all knowin' eyes onto me.

"Me?" I choked out in surprise.

"How's about your family?"

Fear clenched my stomach, I wasn't sure if I could lie all that well, it wasn't something I was use to doin'.

"My mama's dead, passed on when I was just a wee girl. I was raised by my Pa along with my younger brother, Benjamin and sister, Abigail," I said truthfully, it almost hurt to say their names. The image of sweet Abby's face and how alone she must feel without me nagged at my heart.

"I'm sorry to hear about your Mama, mine passed on when I was a young girl, too. Tis a tragedy to face this world without a Mama," she said softly lookin' off into the distance before she focused on me again. "Your Pa a good man?"

Her question confused me for a second, like she was tryin' to ask something without askin' it.

"Yes he is. He always did right by us and tried to do what he thought was the best for our lives. Even when things were tough for him, he made sure that we were taken care of," I answered in a shaky voice, tears threatening my eyes. I hoped one day that he would be able to forgive me for all of this.

"That's good, child. A lot of men turn to the drink when they loss their loved one, tis hard for a man to raise up his children right on his own," she said with a knowing look in her eyes. "But that doesn't explain why y'all are without a chaperone."

I shifted my eyes to Edward, because I wasn't quite sure how to answer that one.

"That's an easy explanation," he said settin' his fork down. "Bella only has her Pa and siblings, no other family to speak of and mine aren't much to speak of either."

He chuckled slightly there, Ms. Katie joining him.

"I got a job offer on the coast, workin' on the docks. I thought I would have more time get everything worked out but I got a telegram three days ago telling me that the job was only mine if I could make it in a week's time. I went straight to Bella's Pa and pleaded my case, he saw that my intentions were true and granted us the permission to travel alone together, trusting that we will get married as soon as we are settled," the lie slipped so easily from his lips that I almost found myself believing him.

"Hmm," she said thoughtfully, leanin' back in her chair until cricked under her weight. "I guess that makes sense. Do y'all have a place to stay there?"

"The dock boss is allowin' Bella to stay with him and his kin until we are wed, I'll be bunking in the men quarters at the docks."

"Sounds like y'all have a sound plan, I can see why Bella's pa is allowin' y'all to travel alone," she said, seemingly pleased with Edward's story. "I'll let you two finish up your supper, dawn comes too early and you two looked whipped."

She lifted her large frame out of her chair rather gracefully. "Head up to bed once y'all are finished, I'll clean up here."

With that said she turned on her heel and headed towards the kitchen.

"Well besides you, Edward. I would like a word alone if that suits you?"

"Of course, Ma'am," he replied in his smooth voice, not an ounce of concern showing in his tone. Unlike my body which had to be vibrating with it.

"Eat up, food's gonna get cold," she chided before disappearing through the doorway.

"Do you think she suspects anything?" I asked quietly.

"I don't think so," he said in a whisper. "She'll tell me if she does."

With that said we finished eating in a comfortable silence, the only sounds to be heard was Ms. Katie's humming comin' from the kitchen and the scraps of our forks as we cleared our plates.

Ms. Katie must have known when the last bite was taken because she came bustling' out of the kitchen right when Edward finished eatin'.

"I'll clean up here with Edward's help. Why don't you head up to bed, Isabella," Ms. Katie said as she started clearin' the table of dishes. "I laid out a night gown on your bed for you, it might be a tad big but should work for the night."

"Thank you, Ma'am," I said standin' with the help of Edward. His fingers gently stroked the inside of my elbow before lettin' it go. "But I really should help you."

I felt guilty not doin' my normal share of work.

"Nonsense, Sweetie," she chided as she worked. "Edward and I got this, plus you look about dead on your feet."

Her words weren't a lie. The day had seemed to finally catch up to now that my belly was fed. Between bein' tired and the guilt I was feelin' at leavin' my family behind, I was moments from sleep.

"Go on and get a good night sleep, my Love," Edward said from my side. "We have a long journey ahead of us tomorrow and I need you fully rested and ready to go."

It seemed that everyone was in agreement about me headin' to bed, who was I to fight them.

"Alright then," I said with a sleepy yawn. "Thank you for the lovely dinner, Ms. Katie."

She answered with a smile and a nod as she took the first load of dinnerware into the kitchen.

"I'll see you in the mornin'," Edward said comin' to stand in front of me, his fingers comin' up to brush some hair from the side of face. "I love you so much."

"I love you, too," I said earnestly.

His hand cupped my cheek gently as he leaned in and pressed his lips against mine in a sweet kiss. For a moment I forgot where we were and what we had done. I felt safe and loved.

Not more than a moment passed before the sound of Ms. Katie's chuckles broke us apart. I felt my ears and cheeks heat up with a blush at bein' caught. But she didn't say anything, just went back to cleanin' up the supper mess.

"Well, good night," I mumbled awkwardly before hurrying from the room.

"Good night, Isabella," Ms. Katie called from behind me as I swept through the doorway.

I easily found my way back to the room Ms. Katie had showed me earlier, thankfully with no run ins with Laurie Ann. One interaction with her today was enough for me.

True to her word, Ms. Katie had laid out a night gown for me and it didn't take me long to shed my stolen dress and pull on the cotton slip. With weariness of the day hangin' on me like a wet dress on the line, I turned down the lantern and slipped into the surprisingly comfortable bed.

With nothin' but the quiet to accompany me, the realization that I was sleepin' alone for the first time since Abby was just a baby hit me hard and I couldn't stop the tears that started to fall. The thought of my little sister layin' in our bed at home alone about broke my heart. I rolled over onto my stomach and buried my face in my pillow to muffle the sound of my sobs. I didn't want to take the chance that Ms. Katie would come by and hear me.

After I had cried myself all out of tears, I rolled back over and stared at the ceiling in the dim light that came from under the doorway. No good would come from cryin' and carryin' on. I would miss my family and I loved them all so much but I had made my choice, the same choice I would make right now even with all this sorrow in my heart. The life I would have lived in Forks would have been safe and comfortable, surrounded by my family and married to Michael but it wouldn't have been much of a life at all.

With that thought securely tucked into my head, I closed my eyes and said my nightly prayers and this time I included not only my family but Edwards also. I hoped that they were all safe and we would be reunited soon.

But it was Edward that filled my thoughts as I drifted off to sleep, his green eyes, sweet smile and the way his lips felt against mine.

Well we all knew she would have some guilt about leaving…right? I am so glad that you decided to stick with me and not jump ship at my long absence. I love you all! Until next time (which will be soon, promise)- Symphiann