-3- Totally Worth It

Nearly every time I'd seen my girl over the first week of school, Newton had been right by her side. Mike was becoming a nuisance, one that needed to be contained. He'd even approached me and tried to threaten me to stay away from Bella. I had almost punched him for that one. Luckily, I got myself under control before I did anything too stupid. I was able to fire a couple of zingers his way, though. That was a plus.

I'd kind of been disappointed when mine and Bella's name game ended way too soon. I'd known her name for years, ever since I first met Chief Swan, but I enjoyed how her little face would light up each time she said my name, as if every chance to rub my face in her knowledge was some sort of small victory. Plus, I just liked the sound of her saying my name. It did things to me that I couldn't even begin to describe.

After my disastrous attempt to pick her up for school, I failed her again when I screwed up our date. I'd had the best evening planned, but of course, nothing worked out how I'd wanted. Carlisle had straight up told me I should make an effort to get to know her, but I still felt ridiculous showing up at her home early that morning only to be turned away. I could already tell my girl was fiercely independent, though, so I tried not to take her refusal personally. I did feel like a jerk when I hid behind my cocky attitude. It was a coping mechanism I knew all too well.

Her unwillingness to let me take her to school was just the beginning of my horrific day. I'd fooled myself into thinking things would get better when I realized we had first period together. She even seemed a bit jealous when she mentioned Rose. That just about made up for her rudeness. She would be a tough shell to crack, of that I had no doubt. The challenge appealed to me way more than it probably should have. Then lunch rolled around and I got to see firsthand how much me being close to her affected my beautiful girl. I leaned in to whisper in her ear and delighted in her reaction. The goose bumps that pebbled her soft skin begged to be touched, and I couldn't resist doing just that.

I knew how people saw me. Those that weren't scared shitless were cautiously intrigued. The girls stared at me, trying to hide their drool behind facades of indifference. It was my armor, storming around the school as if I were ten feet tall and bulletproof. For the first times in years, I actually felt like I might really be just that. My beautiful girl's blushes and forced indifference gave me the confidence I had been only faking before. How she could cause such strange responses in me, I would likely never know, but I was okay with that. I was too happy, for the first time in forever, to give a shit about the hows or whys. It just was, and I was going to ride it out for as long as possible.

I couldn't help smiling after I'd weaseled my way into their beach trip. Mike was still pretty shaken up after our encounter earlier in the week, so he hadn't even tried to protest when I told him I was coming along. Ben and I were actually decent friends, so I knew he and Angela wouldn't mind riding with me. Only my beautiful girl had an issue with it.

That was about the time my day went to shit. Gorgeous lectured me almost non-stop throughout Biology. She had ample opportunity since it was a day we were working on a lab assignment in pairs. Then I walked out of my last class to find I had a flat tire. When I went to put on the spare tire, I realized it, too, was flat. I looked around the vacant parking lot and sighed. The one day Rose didn't ride with me, I could have used her help. She would have figured out a way to make one of the tires drivable, at least well enough to get us to the nearby gas station. Showing up to Bella's house late and in a foul mood certainly didn't help matters. I couldn't even think about the rest of the things that led to me letting down my beautiful girl…again.

The only thing that could bring a smile to my face was her attire. She opened the door all fiery tiger, wearing the funniest pair of pajama bottoms. They had pink flamingos all over the black background. Plus, they hung low on her hips, which was an added bonus. She clearly wasn't amused by my response, however, so I decided to change tactics. Despite my shitty day, I was determined to have some quality time with my gorgeous girl. So, I opted to say as little as possible and tried not to overstay my welcome. Luckily, she didn't push me for an explanation for either my poor attitude or my over an hour late arrival.

I sat silently as she picked out the movies we watched. I didn't complain when she chose a chick-flick. When the second movie ended, I bid her ado and headed home with the knowledge that I would get to see her again the next morning making me feel a bit lighter. I was much calmer after getting to spend several hours in her presence.

That Saturday was a mixture of bliss and torture. I was surprised it took my beautiful girl so long to figure out my devious scheme to get more alone time with her. The look on Bella's face when she realized I'd purposely gone the longest route possible to pick up the others was priceless. Yeah, I'd gone to her house first, and then taken roundabout ways to Angela's then Ben's in order to stretch out my time with her in my car. Having her sitting next to me was so worth any potential retribution. I could practically feel the warmth of her blush, and it intoxicated me. Not even those ogres in La Push could knock me down from this high.

Then her "oldest and dearest friend" Jake had to show up and pour a cold bucket of water all over my fun. Despite her pain, watching my girl punch that jackass was the highlight of my day. He certainly deserved it for making fun of her. For such a great friend, he sure was being a jerk. It ended up prolonging my time with gorgeous, though. Plus, it gave me a chance to kick his annoying ass. I'd take Carlisle's obvious disdain over my actions any day if it meant I got to be closer to my beautiful girl. He thought my instant devotion was unhealthy, but I couldn't see it as anything other than right, meant to be. Besides, he wasn't aware of how I'd been pining over her since we first moved to Forks. He had no idea how much she meant to me or that my feelings had been building up over time only to grow even stronger upon meeting my gorgeous girl. Corny, maybe, but I wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth. No fucking way.

When Carlisle called me into his office a day later, I had a sinking feeling I knew what he wanted to talk about. He rarely asked me to join him in there, and when he did, it was usually to discuss things I didn't want to hear. The last time was after I'd gotten into a fight with that asshole, Paul, in La Push. The guy had been talking trash about Rose, and then he'd started throwing out slurs about my mom. There was no way he could have known the true impact of his taunting, but that didn't stop my anger from bubbling out of control.

Carlisle had told me I was lucky I hadn't turned eighteen yet. I probably would have ended up in jail if I had been. I was pretty sure Chief Swan had intervened on my behalf after I told him what triggered me to attack the behemoth. I still couldn't believe I'd been able to do so much damage to a guy at least twice my size. Anger was a powerful weapon, I supposed.

I'd been surprised that his friends hadn't jumped me the moment they saw me on the beach the day before. I was pretty sure the Chief had something to do with that too. He probably told them to leave me be. He'd been very welcoming when we'd moved into town, going so far as to let me know I could come to him if I needed anything. I'd liked him immediately, and I'd admired the pictures he had up of his daughter as well. It was almost embarrassing how many times I came up with excuses to go over there after that first time. I was hooked on my brown-eyed girl long before I'd ever met her. Getting the chance to actually get to know her was so much better than I ever dreamed it would be.

"Have you thought any more about telling Bella about your parents' deaths?" Carlisle's eyes gave away how hesitant he was about broaching this subject. I felt bad that he thought he couldn't talk to me about these things. He, of all people, had every right to talk about them.

"I have, yes, I just don't know how to start that conversation, you know?"

"I can see how that would be difficult, but you seem to really care about her, and I'm worried about how she'll handle your behavior should it get to be too much for her. I know you've come a long way, but reading that police report has done a number on you. I can tell. Maybe you should consider seeing a counselor again, Edward. It's helped in the past."

"I'm fine," I gritted out, trying not to get mad when I knew he was just looking out for me.

"You've said that before. Last time I ended up having to go pick you up from the police department. The time before that, I had to physically separate you from Emmett. What if you lash out and Bella is hurt in the process?"

"I wouldn't hurt her. Ever. Plus, you're the one who encouraged me to get to know her, remember? You thought she would be good for me."

"I still think that, as long as you take care of you first. Edward, just think about it, okay? That's all I ask."

"Whatever, I will."

He was right, of course. He always was. I just didn't want to admit that to myself or him. It had only been three months since I was given those damn police reports, since I learned my dad had been alive and was forced to watch what that bastard had done to my mom. He probably had even seen me try to help her. I couldn't even imagine how helpless he'd felt. Life in prison wasn't punishment enough for the bastard who'd taken my family away from me. What was worse was there were no answers as to why. Maybe if I at least knew why that man had singled out my family to torture in such a way, I could find closure. But he refused to talk. Even though he'd ended up confessing to killing my parents, he never said why. It kept me up at night. It triggered nightmares on a regular basis. Bella was like a balm that soothed my wounds. Deep down I knew that probably wasn't exactly healthy, but I was too selfish to give up the way she made me feel.

Disclaimer: I claim no ownership to SM's creations...

A/N: Since I didn't have this one finished in time to post last week, I decided not to break it in half but rather give you the whole thing at once. I hope that's okay with everyone :-)

Writtenbyabdex is a wonderful devil's advocate and helped me through this one when it wasn't cooperating at all. She's the bestest!

Thanks everyone for reading, reviewing and being awesome.

I still have a few more outtakes up my sleeve and one futuretake that I'm working on...make sure to let me know if there's anything you would like to see from E's POV or included in their future, and I'll see what I can do!

Much love,