Disclaimer: I am not Stephanie Meyer. I do not own Twilight.

Chapter Eighteen

Bella's POV

I sniffled harshly as I laid on the couch, flipping through channels to try and find something decent to watch. A box of tissues was beside me, untouched. Charlie seemed to think tissues and soup fixed everything. He wasn't entirely wrong about the soup, though my stomach had rolled restlessly for a few minutes, making me wonder if I was going to have to race to the bathroom.

Only I would manage to get the flu in the middle of spring.

I looked longingly at the phone, wondering if Paul would come keep me company. Maybe even rub my feet.

Our relationship had almost returned to normal after my poorly thought-out dive off the cliffs. Paul was as attentive as ever, constantly stopping by or encouraging me to make the drive to La Push. I had only been home for a week, but I had seen him every day. He even came over one night while Charlie was working the night shift and stayed with me. Of course, Charlie thought he'd slept on the couch, but it was impossible for either of us to fall asleep in the same house without being together.

Rachel had returned to school for her Master's Degree, making things much easier on the both of us. Paul hadn't seen her since he spent that entire week trying to force himself to at least tolerate her. He was worse than I was whenever somebody brought her up, growling threateningly and pulling me close to his side. Each time he did it, a little thrill went through me. He was mine and that bitch was never going to take him away from me.

The pack had been extremely apologetic about keeping the imprint from me, but I had simply waved them off. I understood why they had lied to me and was even a little grateful for it. If Paul had told me about it sooner, it would've created a week or more of doubt and insecurity on my part while Paul spent almost all of his time around Rachel, trying to figure out what was going on with the imprint. Granted, finding out the way I didn't wasn't ideal, but it was still better than finding out about the imprint right away. Paul was able to answer most of my questions and there was no doubt for either of us that he, in any way, shape, or form, cared for the girl the way he cared for me.

I realized I was still flipping through the channels and stopped, happily surprised when I found myself watching a televised version of Pride and Prejudice.

I was only a third of the way through the movie when Charlie came in, back from work.

"Hey, Dad," I greeted, not moving from my spot.

"Bells. There's a letter here for you," Charlie told me, coming into the living room.

"From who?" I asked, sitting up and frowning in confusion.

"Don't know. Why don't you open it and find out?" Charlie suggested, slightly sarcastic as he handed me the letter.

"Ha-ha. Very funny," I mock glared at him.

He chuckled as he walked into the kitchen, the fridge opening and closing a moment later.

I opened the envelope, surprised to find it was from the community college I had been taking classes in. Reading over the letter quickly, I squealed in delight before jumping off the couch.

"I'm going to La Push, Dad! Be back later," I called, throwing on a pair of shoes and a light jacket before darting out the door.

Paul's POV

I flicked through the channels on TV, bored out of my mind with nothing to do. Sam sat in the armchair beside me, reading over the paper since I couldn't decide on what to watch. Jared and Kim were sitting on the loveseat in a heavy lip-lock. Only Jacob was paying attention to my relentless surfing.

"Will you just pick something already?" Jacob growled.

"Shut up," I bit back, unwilling to listen to him whine.

I still hadn't forgiven him for letting it slip that I'd imprinted on Rachel. It had taken Bella over two weeks to get over the cold she'd caught by jumping off the cliff. Even now, she wasn't completely over it. When we'd spoken on the phone a few hours ago, she'd claimed to have a headache "the size of Texas". It would've been amusing if not for the pain clearly lacing her voice. I was more worried than I let on about her, but she seemed confident that it was just the last stretch of her cold.

"Ugh! Give me the damn thing," Jacob groaned, lunging for the remote.

I shoved him back, growling in warning when he moved to fight me for it. Sam sighed heavily, already used to the tension between me and the baby alpha. Jared and Kim didn't even bother to stop their make-out session.

"Oh, for the love of Pete! Take it outside if you're going to have a pissing contest," Emily snapped as she came into the living room.

She strode across the room, snatching the remote out of my hand and turning on some chick-flick movie before settling down on Sam's lap. Kim broke away from Jared, giving an excited "ooh" when she saw the movie on screen.

I huffed, resigned to watching the mushy mess of romance with my pack. It wouldn't be so bad if Bella was around. At least then I could maybe sneak in some moves.

As if my thoughts had conjured her, the sound of her truck roaring down the road assaulted my ears. I jumped eagerly from the couch, racing outside to meet her. Before the truck could creak to a stop, I had the door opened and her in my arms, breathing deeply of her unique scent.

"EEK! Guess what!" Bella squealed when I put her down.

"What?" I asked, smiling at her enthusiasm.

It was a refreshing change after the dreary way she'd been acting the past few weeks.

Instead of offering an answer, she pulled out of piece of paper and thrust it into my hands. Still smiling, I looked down to see a letter congratulating her on completely the requirements for her diploma.

"I've officially graduated!" Bella cheered, throwing her arms around my neck.

"That's great, Swan," I grinned, holding her close.

"I'm so excited. I've already talked to Charlie about colleges. The community college I took the classes at has already accepted my application, but Charlie wanted me to send out a few more. I'm thinking I'd rather stay with this one, though. I mean, I already know a lot of the professors I would be working with from all the emails I've had to send. Plus, I can take a lot of the classes online, which means I don't have to travel much. I've looked into their English department and it's supposed to be really good. Obviously not the best, but still really good. I'm thinking about maybe majoring in English Lit. I think I'd be good at that, don't you?" Bella babbled quickly in her excitement.

"I think you'd be great at it," I chuckled, kissing her temple.

She pulled back, her brown eyes sparkling as she looked into my own. My chest gave a violent tug as her fingers reached up to thread through my hair.

"I love you. You know that, right?" Bella asked, rubbing her nose against mine.

"I know. I love you, too," I smiled softly.

"I've missed you these past few days," Bella pouted.

"We saw each other every day, Swan," I pointed out with a grin.

"Yeah, but I miss spending all day with you," Bella sighed.

I leaned away from her slightly to look into her eyes. Was she trying to tell me something? Or was she just letting me know she had missed me? I couldn't tell, but I knew what I wanted.

I wanted us together all day and all night. I wanted to wake up to her bright smile and fall asleep to her gentle breathing. I wanted to cook dinner with her and clean the house with her.

I wanted to be with her.

"Swan… I don't really have much to offer you, but… I want you to move in with me," I told her, taking hold of her hands in mine.

She stared up at me, her eyes wide and I began to feel nervous when she didn't respond.

"I mean… we wouldn't have to move in right away. And you can think about it, of course. Take all the time you need. I just… I miss you when you aren't with me and my wolf… he worries about you constantly. My house isn't very big. It was my parents, but it's mine now. We could fix it up any way you want… I just want to make you happy, Bella," I finished quietly, silently pleading that she would agree.

She started at my use of her first name, something I almost never did, but I wanted her to know I was serious about this. About us.

"Paul… of course I'll move in with you. But…" Bella trailed off, giving me an impish grin.

"But what?" I asked, slightly afraid.

"You have to tell Charlie," Bella laughed, dragging me towards the house.

"What? Swan, no! He'll shoot me for sure," I insisted, only partially kidding.

"No, he won't. I'll protect you," Bella assured me, moving to kiss me briefly.

"Promise?" I asked.

"Promise," Bella winked as we walked in to tell the pack our good news.

As Kim and Emily surrounded Bella, smiling and squealing in congratulations, Sam and Jared slapped me on the back. Only Jacob was sullen about it, but neither I nor Bella paid him any mind. We were finally going to be happy and no immature pup was going to ruin that for us.

"This calls for a celebration," Jared said, throwing an arm around mine and Bella's shoulders.

"Bonfire?" Bella asked, smirking slightly.

"Definitely! What do you say, Sam? Let's throw these two crazy kids a house warming party," Jared grinned, laughing at his own joke.

"Only if you promise not to make that joke ever again," Sam groaned, pulling Emily close.

"Deal," Jared sighed disappointedly.

"Come on, Bella. Kim. Let's get some food together," Emily ordered, leading us into the kitchen.

The bonfire later that day was filled with laughter as we sat around, sharing stories and throwing food at each other. Bella sat under my arm, she and Emily teasing Kim mercilessly about getting caught going at it like bunnies by Jared's mom. I laughed as Jared blushed, clearly uncomfortable with the way the conversation had gone. Sam watched it all with a smile, Emily perched on his lap. Even Jacob was laughing at Jared's rendition of the events.

With Bella leaning into my chest, my arms wrapped around her waist, surrounded by our pack, things seemed to just click into place. Bella would move in with me and the shack that was my house would become a home.

Life was almost perfect and Bella was totally, completely, mine.