I know it's been a long time but I've been focusing on College and I've had a lot to do on that front! I apologize for the long time without updates but I want to reinforce what I've always said: I will finish all the stories I start, it's really a matter of when. So even when I'm a long time without updating, I won't give up on the story!

Now, I hope you enjoy this chapter and be assured that the next one will come and it won't take as long as this one. I'll try to post it before my exams start in a couple of weeks since I've already started it.

Thank you for those who are sticking with me and this story. You rock! ;D

A special thanks for my beta Adri1577 who not only helped me with the grammatical aspect of the chapter but also pushed me to write it!

REVIEW, please :D

Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns The Twilight series! The rest is mine! Don't steal! It's not polite!

Before, in 'Awakened'

"She's fine, Edward. Her vitals are back to normal. She's just tired." He concluded.

"But she's not warm enough, and her heart beats slowly." Edward argued back nervously.

"That's normal for her. She'll be okay, Edward." Carlisle reassured. "She'll be fine."

"Good! That's… good." Edward sighed. Ever since this girl had arrived to town, he had thought, said and done things that he had never imagined he would. There were moments when he wasn't even aware of what he was doing… it was all instinct. He only knew he couldn't lose her.

Chapter 5

"Carlisle… What's happening? Why is she still unconscious?"

"I don't know, Edward! Let her have some rest and stop worrying." Carlisle replied calmly.

"I wish I could!" Edward replied exasperated.

"If you have super hearing, why are you yelling at each other?" Bella groaned from the couch. "And what's with all the light?"She asked, squinting her eyes.

"You're okay…" Edward breathed relieved.

"No… my head is going to explode, and I hurt all over." Someone lessened the intensity of the light, and when they spoke again, their voices were considerably lower.

"Would you like some water?" Carlisle asked softly.

"No, it won't do anything… I need… I need… damn it!" Bella cursed at her inability to keep her eyes open. It wasn't enough that she could barely move, she couldn't even look at her surroundings. Being so weak and vulnerable in the presence of so many vampires was not a smart move.

"What do you need? I can get it!" Edward said. How endearing, Bella thought acidly. They were all being very nice… she wondered how long it will last.

"My bag… I need my bag! In my car…" In a flash Edward was gone and returned holding a small brown leather backpack.

Bella struggled to sit on the couch, refusing any help and groaning, as her sore muscles complained. What she wouldn't give to be in her house, alone, safe, in a world that she knew; instead of these vampires' house, surrounded by them, all looking at her. What a nightmare!

She couldn't remember a moment in her life when she had felt so vulnerable and lost. Before the war she had her family's unwavering support and protection, and after they were gone, she learned to rely on herself and stay away from danger. It wasn't cowardice; it was self-preservation and appreciation for what her parents, and possibly her brothers, had given up for her: their lives. And here she was putting it all in jeopardy… Why hadn't she stayed at home? Right now she would be with her parents again, wherever their spirits were…

"Whatever you're thinking, Isabella, stop right there!" Carlisle said. "I know that look; I've seen it more times than I would like to count and an outcome different than this one is not acceptable. Are we clear?"

"Easy for you to say." Bella grumbled, going through her backpack. Even her clothes felt uncomfortable against her sensitive skin. Finally, she found the small jar she was looking for. The next step was to get up, but as she tried to pull the blanket away and move her legs to the edge of the couch, Edward spoke.

"Where are you going?"

"I'm assuming you have a kitchen with a stove where I can make some tea out of these." Bella replied dryly, dangling the jar with small white leaves in front of his nose.

"Nonsense, dear. I'll make that tea for you. You don't look very good."

"I'm perfectly capable of making my own tea…" Bella grumbled and made another move to get up from the couch, but Edward's hands came to rest on her shoulders and pushed her back down.

"Esme will make that for you; you need to rest." Carlisle said, as Esme reached for the jar and Bella reluctantly gave it away.

"Any specific instructions?"

"Just make sure the water boils. Thanks." She added awkwardly.

"Of course. I'll be right back." She looks so motherly, Bella thought, letting herself lean back against the couch and closing her eyes. Was it possible that they were worried and just wanted to help her?

"See, it wasn't that hard…" Alice commented.

"Of course not… I'm just choking on my dignity!" Bella replied glaring at Carlisle.

"Proud creature that you are…"

"Nobody's perfect!" Bella had never been the best judge of characters, but she knew danger when she saw it, and so far the Cullens hadn't given her any reason not to trust them. She had offered them her dagger and begged them to kill her, and they stood firm on their promise. And if they were going to call the Volturi, they would have done so when she first visited them instead of risking her leaving. On the other hand, she had been on her own for so long that she no longer trusted her instincts when it came to others, much less vampires.

"Are you feeling okay?" Edward asked again. Bella pried her eyes open once again and found him leaning over her with worry in his eyes.

He was handsome, Bella admitted to herself, a bit too pale but it wasn't as if she could brag a lot… she wasn't exactly a miss-tan. But he had come for her, even though he knew nothing about what was going on; and that, Bella decided, mattered a lot, more than she would ever be willing to concede. Still, keeping her guard up was the smartest thing to do.

"I'll be fine." They were making her uncomfortable with the staring, and she was desperate to get away. "Do you think I can have a shower?"

"Of course. I'm sure it'll help with the soreness of your muscles. Alice, could you get Bella some fresh clothes? Something made of cotton and large." Carlisle said. Alice wasn't happy with Carlisle's requirements for Bella's clothes but went to find something.

Bella managed to set her feet on the ground and pushed herself up, but the minute she was on her feet, her head swam, and she found that her balance was more than a bit off. Before she could fall back on the couch, Edward slid his arm around her waist and held her up. "I'll help you to the bathroom; you're not very steady on your feet." Bella wanted to refuse his help, but making a fool of herself by falling on the way seemed worse than accepting his help.

He supported practically her whole weight but made sure it wasn't noticeable. Proud as she was, she wouldn't want to look weak, which was why Edward hadn't just swept her off her feet and carried her the whole way to the bathroom, as he wanted to.

Once they reached the bathroom, Edward made her sit on a small bench near the tub and started a bath for her.

"I figured a bath would be softer than a shower on your skin. Carlisle said it was a little sensitive. I'll be outside if you need anything."

"Thank you." Finally alone! Bella thought. She wasn't used to being in the same room with so many people looking and expecting something from her. Bella discarded her sweated clothes and got into the tub. The water was a little warmer than it could have been, but her muscles were so tense that Bella let it be, and it felt very good.

A few minutes later, Alice came in. "I must say it was very difficult to find clothes that covered Carlisle's requirements. You're taller than me, so my clothes wouldn't do, and Rosalie and Esme don't own any large clothes because even if they wanted, I wouldn't allow it! Still I was able to find these pajama shorts from Esme and this button-up shirt from Edward. Now, don't fall asleep in there! Your tea is almost ready." She was too chirpy… the strangest thing was that Jasper seemed to be the exact opposite.

"I'll be out soon." Alice nodded and left. Bella really didn't want to leave… She felt safer in the warm bathroom than in the living room where everybody stared at her as if she was about to sprout a third arm or go on a rampant killing spree, which given the way she'd been acting, wouldn't be very unreasonable. Still, killing wasn't something she enjoyed doing; in fact, she had such an aversion to it that she was capable of it only if her life, or someone she loved, was threatened.

The bath had done a lot to improve her mood and her aches, so Bella decided it was time to face the Cullens again. The clothes Alice had provided were comfortable enough, especially Edward's button-up; somehow his scent comforted her in a way nothing else had been able to, ever since she lost her family.

When Bella exited the bathroom, Edward was there waiting for her. "Esme has your tea ready. Do you need help?"

"I don't think so."

She looked better, Edward concluded, but he could tell by the careful way she walked that she was still in pain. Once again he suppressed the need to pick her up and carry her back; she'd never accept it. If only he could understand what was going on! He'd tried to pick up from Carlisle's mind what was happening, but anything concerning her was fuzzy or simply wasn't there, just like it had happened when he had tried to find out how she looked on her first day in high school. Was it possible that she was doing it? Could she have such a defense mechanism?

The more he watched and learned things about her, the more she fascinated him. There was just something about her presence that calmed him. Such a difference from when he had first seen her in school; there was no rushed frenzy, no desperate need for her blood, just calm and peacefulness.

Again under everyone's stares Bella lost whatever peace she had assimilated during her bath.

"Can someone open a window or a door or something?" Bella asked nervously. She was feeling slightly claustrophobic, even though the house was open enough. Before she had finished, Alice had already opened one of the big glass panels that lead directly to the woods at the back of the house. The night air brushed lightly against her skin, and she didn't feel so imprisoned anymore; it was like she could breathe again.

Esme handed her the tea and Bella started sipping it. It burned her throat and tasted horribly; unfortunately, that was exactly how it had to be. As her mother said, medicines weren't meant to taste good but to make you feel better, and in this case this tea was the only thing that could give her back her energy.

"Are you feeling better?" Esme asked.

"Yes, thank you. I'll be leaving soon." Bella answered politely.

"That wasn't what I meant at all, dear."

"You are not going anywhere, at least not tonight." Carlisle declared.

"What?" Bella hissed.

"I think it's perfectly reasonable. You're not strong enough to defend yourself, yet. It would be really foolish of us to let you go before we know you are completely all right." Edward agreed, seating on the opposite side of the couch where she was. He had not just said that! Bella turned her glare to Edward who faced her head on.

"I don't know who died and made you the king of everything, but I sure as hell won't take orders from any of you! And I'm not sure you're the best ones to watch out for my safety." The lack of trust in them was present in every single word of that sentence. Bella had relied on herself for a long time and the first time she gave that up surely won't be with a group of vampires.

"It wasn't an order, and if we wanted to kill you, we could have done so already, several times." Carlisle reasoned. She'd be difficult to handle. She'd fight everything they said and refuse any help they wanted to provide because somehow she was still finding a way to go back to her peaceful and lonely existence. However, deep down, she had to know that wasn't possible.

"How do I know that once I wake up the Volturi won't be here to take me?"

"They won't!" Edward's voice held so much determination that not even Bella dared to not believe him. And it irked her because she hadn't spent more than an hour with him, and she already trusted him. "You'll be perfectly safe." Carlisle threw her a pointed look as if daring her to question Edward.

"I guess I don't have a choice. Do I?" If she wasn't feeling so tired and sleepy, she wouldn't have agreed to it, Bella said to herself. The tea was already making effect, forcing her body to shut down so that it could heal properly.

"You'll always have a choice." Edward said softly. Everybody always had a choice.

"Sure…" Bella sighed; if only that was true. Was this how it was going to be for the rest of her life? He'd say everything with so much certainty that she would accept it and trust him blindly, even when she didn't want it?

As much as she wanted to fight it, it was impossible to keep her eyes open any longer. She couldn't believe she was about to fall into a deep state of sleep in a house full of vampires. Vegetarian vampires whom the Quileutes trusted to a point, who had helped her even when she'd been nothing but unsympathetic, and who hadn't killed her or called the Volturi even when they had a chance, her conscience reasoned. Damn it! She hated the rationality that sleep always brought on to her. She didn't want to be reasonable; she just wanted to go back to what she was, before she came to Forks, before Edward and the Cullens and everything that had complicated her plans for her life. Yes, Edward was a big bump on the carefully laid road of her life.

"Do you want a bed? It would be more comfortable than the couch." Edward suggested.

"No! I'm fine." She yawned. Why did he have to be so nice?

When she fell asleep, Edward pushed her from her sitting position to the side of the couch, so that she was lying on it instead, drew the blanket over her and settled on the ground leaning against the couch, by her feet. The urge to stay near her was too strong to be fought, Edward decided, and he was a bit tired of fighting at the time. Besides, she was asleep now and couldn't complain; he smiled at that thought. She was decided and proud, strong, but even she had to succumb to sleep.

Sleeping, without the worry, the tiredness and the barely concealed fear in her face, she was back to being the sweet creature he had looked at the first time. Now he knew there was a lot more to her than a pretty face and a mysterious mind, but that still didn't explain the sudden surge of feelings that coursed through him. What was she and what was she doing to him? Why was it that he no longer felt the desperate need to taste her blood? The desire was there, buried under layers of confusion and doubts, but it was so much more easily controlled than the first time. Why? Why? Why?

"Is someone going to explain to me, what she is and what happened here tonight?" Edward finally asked.

"About what happened tonight, I'm afraid that even the little I know I can't tell." Carlisle offered.

"Why not?" Emmett asked.

"Because I promised Bella I wouldn't. Besides, what I know would only bring more questions that I won't be able to answer. She needs some time and we have to give it to her." If they pressured her too much, she might try to run and that wouldn't be good for her or for Edward.

"Fine. What about her? What is she?" Edward questioned.

Alice set on relaying everything they had learned from Carlisle and Bella to Edward with excitement in her eyes. She was already imagining Bella as a part of their family and she couldn't be happier about it. Sure Bella was a bit afraid of them, but maybe with time she would learn to trust them, and Alice didn't need her visions to know that Edward would have a huge part in that approximation, or at least Alice hopped so.

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