To those who have been with this story from the beginning, thank you for hanging on. To those who have left me encouraging words to continue on, this update is for you, and I dedicate every chapter after this, to you as well.

Astrid – thank you for being the rock in my shoe that just wouldn't go away. This story wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for you. Keep your head up, and remember, you deserve so much better.

Thank you, Tracy, for being awesome. Tony Stewart is currently in a box being shipped to your house ;)

I encourage you to reread the last chapter. This takes place immediately after the ball.

Bella's POV

The rest of the night blurred into one magical evening. Kisses were stolen in the dark corners of the tent and I felt like Cinderella dancing with Prince Charming. Unfortunately, the ball ended and my pumpkin turned carriage was a race car speeding into the darkness of the night.

After spending more than enough time saying goodnight on my doorstep, I couldn't help but waltz through my front door holding onto the emerald crested mask that now sat dutifully on my nightstand. It was one magical evening that I will never forget.

I stripped walking from my bedroom to the bathroom, allowing my dress to fall to the floor, bra on a random chair, and my panties on the floor in the bathroom. Goosebumps covered my skin as warm water burst through my showerhead. As I washed away the soreness of my muscles, I was thrown back into reality. For a lack of better words, my "Spidey" senses kicked in and I froze to the spot.

My house alarm never beeped when I came home tonight.

Relax, Bella, you probably never turned it on when you left.

I quickly finished my shower and swallowed my paranoia while throwing on some clothes. Grabbing my phone off the night stand, I booked it to the front door, checking my messages as I go. The alarm was disarmed, confirming that I never turned it on. I need to be more diligent about that.

I flipped the switch in my bedroom, lights sparked to life and I gasped in fear of what I saw. My closet door was thrown open, the contents thrown everywhere. My bed was a complete mess, the invitation to the ball sat squarely on a pillow, and Edward's mask?


A thump in my bathroom paralyzed me. The smell of dark spices filled my room causing my eyes to water. I put a hand over my mouth to drown out my voiceless cry. The severity of what was happening right now gripped me in fear.

Jacob was in my home.

A dark shadow moved in my peripheral vision, growing bigger within the bathroom light. Images of the night I told Jacob to move out came rushing back to me; pushing me up against the wall, trying to rekindle what was. I knew he wouldn't have done anything to me that night. He had a reputation to protect – but here? He was a monster looking for his prey.

A loud commotion caused me to turn around, the familiar face of Jacob's friend stood at the end of my hallway.
"Jake, I got her, she's in the hallway!" I dropped my phone and backed up against the wall holding my hands out to warn off the man walking towards me.
"There you are." Jacob's smug face was in front of mine, his sweaty hands on my arms.
"Get off of me." I pushed him with all my force and ran as fast as I could out of my house.
"You bitch! Get back here! Sam, don't stand there, go after her!"

Tears streamed down my face, causing me to trip and fall on the last step of my stairs. I landed with a loud thud on the wooden floor, my left wrist aching with intense pain. I've never thought I would find myself in a situation where I was afraid of someone I trusted so much, someone I once loved. Now I was scared for my life, and the front door was too far away.

Sam's strong arms grabbed a hold of my waist, hauling me off the floor and onto the stairs. I managed to wriggle free and kick whatever I could, hoping to strike some part of him that would cause him to fall away from me. I succeed the moment Jacob's familiar footing came running. His brown eyes locked with mine the moment I threw open my front door.

My teeth chattered uncontrollably as the night air pierced my skin. An unseen darkness threatened to engulf me while tears streamed down my face. It was impossible to make out the lone light that shown in the distance, but my feet pounded the pavement as I ran for my life.

Panic nipped at my heels as my tears turned into sobbing. I could barely make out Edward's porch as I stumbled onto it. I crawled to his door, pounding with as much force as I could muster. In one moment, my perfect night turned into the worst nightmare I could have imagined. All at once, the darkness I've been running from engulfed me. I was in the middle of a full blown panic attack. I could barely hear the confused voice calling out my name. All I could feel were strong arms picking me off the ground carrying me into the light.

My eyes closed of their own accord. The brightness was overwhelming and the darkness I've always associated with my father's death pulled me under. Images from my darkest days following his accident crashed into my mind.

I was drowning in my fear, and the voice calling my name kept my heart beating, but I'm not sure it could keep me alive.

I woke up to the sound of unfamiliar voices, red and blue lights flashed behind the closed curtain. The realization of what happened to me caused me to shout out in panic. In an instant, Edward's green eyes were in front of mine, trying to calm me down.
"How long was I out for?" I cursed to myself silently. Blacking out was my go-to when I couldn't handle my fear, and in this case, my past. Running from my past always leads me to darkness. Always.
"Not long." That answer scares me, but the fact that it's still dark out gives me hope. "I called the police once I pieced together what happened. I know you might not want to, but you must give them your statement while it's still fresh in your mind." Edward swooped down to pick me off the couch and gently placed me on my feet.
"Just as long as you don't leave my side."
"I have no plans on leaving."

I sat in Edward's living room, surrounded by the voices that woke me up. I gave the detectives' a play by play of what happened the moment I walked into my home after the ball. I told them how much I trusted Jacob with my life when I lived in Forks, how he was my life - until the day my life flipped upside down. I didn't know Jacob after that, and even to this day I still don't know that Jacob, and I don't want to.

Being trapped by my emotions was no longer an option for me. I needed my breakthrough, even if that meant putting someone in jail. As much as it pained me, I took the short walk back to my house with the cops and pointed to all the spots where our confrontation went down. I could see Edward out of the corner of my eye shaking his head. His lips would flatten out and I knew he was fighting the urge to speak his mind about this whole ordeal.

My bedroom was still a mess, but the canvas hanging above my bed was still in place. I gently removed it to see the safe in the wall untouched. Opening it, I pulled out a small box and gave it to the detective. "This is everything you will need to find Jacob. Keep it, I don't want it back. I'm done with him, so done." That box contained our relationship in a nutshell. Engagement photos and little trinkets that linked us together; a small part of me hoped the fire that died inside of me would rekindle for him, but that was not going to happen now.
"Thank you, Ms. Swan. I believe you gave us enough information to find him. My team is going to take a few photos and then we'll be out of your hair. Do you have a place you can stay tonight? There's always a small chance he could come back and we don't want to chance you getting hurt again." I was in a daze, who will I stay with? I don't know anyone around here.
"Yes, she'll stay with me," to my surprise, Edward spoke up, "I'll make sure she stays safe."
"Perfect, I have your contact information and we'll stay in touch."

I stood in the corner of my bedroom, watching as strangers combed through my belonging, looking for what, I don't know. The moment they left, was the moment I realize moving forward was going to be harder than I thought.

Tears stained my face as Edward pulled me into his arms. We stood like this for God knows how long, but I felt safe in his arms.

That was all that mattered in this moment.

The next morning I welcomed the smell of bacon wafting through the open door of Edward's bedroom. After we left my house last night with my stuff, he insisted that I sleep in his room. I objected as much as I could, until he picked me up and placed me in the middle of his massive bed. His silk sheets felt cool against my skin, and it smelled just like him. I couldn't say no to that.

"Breakfast is served, my lady." Edward waltzed into the bedroom carrying a tray and placed it across my lap. The bacon I smelled earlier sat next to a pile of waffles and fresh fruit.
"This looks delicious, thank you, but I would rather eat at a table. No need to get crumbs on these silk sheets" I looked up to him, only to burst out laughing. "What in the world are you wearing?" Edward looked down and pointed at his apron, it was a naked butler wearing a bowtie and apron around his waist.
"What, this old thing? I'm a messy cook, and it would hurt having hot food splash onto my real hard rock abs." He shot me this panty melting smile and winked, before moving the tray to a nearby table.

It was amazing how at ease I felt with Edward. You'd think that with the way my last relationship went, I would be guarded, but I wasn't. Breakfast was delicious and by the late afternoon, we sat on his back patio munching on finger food while sipping some fancy cocktail.

"This is absolutely delicious, what is it?" He winked, and bared that dazzling smile again. I wonder if he does it just make a rise out of me? But before my mind went there, my cell phone rang and Angela's familiar face popped up on my screen. "Excuse me, I should take this."
"No problem let me get you a refill." I watched as he retreated back into his house. I decided to walk down into the yard to take the call. She's probably calling to get more details about last night. I barely told her anything, and the more privacy I had, the more I could tell her.

"Hey, Ang."
"Please tell me you're alright?"
"Yes, relax I'm fine."
"Good… I'm in Forks, by the way…" She added this as an afterthought, like it wasn't a big deal or anything.
"Edward called me after you barely gave me any details on what happened last night after the ball."
"Wait, why did he call?"
"Didn't he tell you?" I turned around from where I was standing and gave Edward a cold stare. He smiled like everything was okay and raised his glass to me. He was becoming one mysterious person.
"Apparently not, or I wouldn't be asking you. Wait, how did he get your number?"
"Did you forget who his sister is? Alice was at my doorstep last night before you even sent me a text. Edward has a friend of a friend who did some investigating and she gave me all the stuff and basically picked me up and threw me into my car so I could deliver everything to the police in Forks."
"Wow." I was completely speechless.
"Yeah, wow. You wouldn't believe what the investigator uncovered. It looks like Jacob left Forks shortly after you did. I don't even want to tell you where he's been, but the records are not good." I could feel the panic start to rise within me. "The Chief of Police here managed to talk some sense into the leaders of the Quileute tribe. It was hard, but they're working with us now. They're trying to lure Jacob back to Forks." All this information was overwhelming and I found myself sitting on a huge rock overlooking a small pond filled with koi. "You're quiet."
"Sorry, it's just. Wow. Edward did all this? It's all too much to take in."
"I know, but Bella, without his help, none of this would be happening, and you know that." I knew what she was saying was the truth. "Look, I got to go. I'll keep you posted."
"Thanks, Ang, for everything."

It was hard to comprehend what just happened. My childhood best-friend was in Forks, taking care of a situation that happened only mere hours ago, all because of Edward, who two weeks ago, I never knew existed. My emotions were all over the place, I was ecstatic, and yet scared to death. It seems too easy that this is over.

Over will be Jacob behind bars.

I returned to where Edward was sitting and figured I should just jump ship and tell him everything. "Why didn't you tell me?" I'm in awe, especially since Edward barely knows me.

"You looked too peaceful in your sleep. I knew that if I woke you, you'd stay up the rest of the night worrying."

He was right, "You have no idea how many sleepless nights I've had since I've moved into this area." I took a long sip of the intoxicating cocktail he made, allowing the alcohol to loosen me up a bit. "You'd think that someone I trusted with my life wouldn't be the one haunting me in my dreams. But he is, and I find myself at fault."

"Bella, no, don't put this on you."

"No, Edward. I was the one who ended the relationship between us. We were the perfect couple, everyone envied us and we were on the road to the perfect life together. I was going to marry my best-friend." Edward didn't say anything, but I could tell this bit of news took him off guard. Another long sip, more burning of the alcohol, more confessions. "The night Jacob proposed to me, my world came crashing down. I lost the one thing in my life that tied me to Forks." I wasn't ready to tell him about my father – that was personal. "And after that, I was dead to this world. I barely lived, going to work, school and home was all I did. Jacob barely noticed. He would yell at me for not being 'the Bella he fell in love with'. He became violent and abusive." Edward fidgeted, trying to hide the anger that came over him. "About a year later, I got sick and tired of it and told Jacob to move out. That was my turning point. I wanted to live again, and not have him in my life. He no longer cared about me the way he used to. I was just, there. It's hard not to blame myself for this, but I do."

"But if it wasn't for the fact that this just happened, you wouldn't be sitting here with me today, Bella. Things work in a mysterious way. Sometimes you have to go through something that flips your world upside down to get where you need to be in life. In most cases, situations like that will make you stronger. Don't let what happen last night scare you back into hiding. You moved on, and he clearly didn't. Don't live in fear with the mind games he's playing. I'm here for you Bella, and if you let me, I'll continue to be here for you."

"But why are you doing this for me?"

"Because you deserve it." His gaze met mine, and the electricity I felt last night at the ball returned. "Now c'mon, I'm absolutely freezing, and you must be too." Actually, I wasn't. I found myself extremely hot, and it wasn't because I was bundled up, it was because I found myself wanting Edward. Wanting him more than just in the friend department, but in the area I haven't been satisfied in over a year. My sexual desire was returning, and being locked up in a house with him for the rest of the evening wasn't going to help this new old feeling.

About two hours later, we found ourselves lying together on his oversized couch watching some comedy show I lost interested in after the first episode. His arms encircled me, while my head lay on his chest. His fingers… God, those fingers kept drawing patterns on my back causing me to break out into goosebumps, which Edward mistake for being cold.

"Stay with me," he whispered, "Stay one more night."

"Only if you promise me you won't wear that ridiculous apron again when you make me breakfast in the morning." His bellow laugh turned into a fit of coughs.

"Are you okay?"

"Yes, especially since you're here with me." He pulled me up and kissed me passionately, his hands running up and down my back, slipping underneath my shirt to feel my cool skin. The overwhelming urge to straddle his hips took me off guard and I reluctantly pulled away. It's the alcohol making you feel like this, Bella, you're not that type of girl. I laid my head back on Edward's chest, syncing my heartbeat with his. I've never more relaxed than what I am now, and I never thought I would even consider falling for another guy… but I am. I'm falling hard.