Merry Christmas, Everyone! Yes I know it's been far too long since I last updated and I know I was naughty and didn't reply to all of your wonderful reviews. But I promise that I read them all and loved each of them. As for the time line…real life has thrown some nasty curve balls at me and all I can say is that I am sorry and I promise I am getting the chapters to you as fast as I can. Hopefully the chapter makes up for the wait time.

Thank you to My-Bella and Hope4More for all you do to help me get these chapters to you. I'd send you Rob and Gilles for Christmas if I could!

Thank you to NoelleSeven for the pics of Edward and Bella in their scrubs.


Disclaimer:

All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Stephenie Meyer owns anything and everything relating to Twilight and its characters. No copyright infringement is intended.

The original aspects of this story—all of the original characters, plot, names, nicknames are all the property of the author—eternally addicted. Unauthorized use of such material is plagiarism. In simple terms—it's theft. I am in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise mentioned in this story. No reproduction, downloading, copying, reposting, or any other kind of redistribution of this story or its contents is permitted without my express written authorization.


September 13, 2011

*{Bella}*

I was a nervous mess. I'd only been able to set it aside for a short time yesterday when Al and Sky had surprised me with a birthday cake and presents to celebrate me turning nineteen today. The distraction may have been short lived, but for the couple of hours they had entertained me I had thoroughly enjoyed their company. We'd had a great time chatting as we ate some cake and I loved the gifts they had gotten me.

Al had given me a new outfit and a gift certificate for a day at her favorite spa. And when Al gave you a new outfit she included everything—the whole outfit, shoes, or in this case boots, and a purse too. Sky had given me a cute t-shirt with the saying, 'Be Nice... Nurses call the Shots' on it, which I would be changing into after my lab class today since we were required to wear scrubs on lab days.

I was never more grateful than today that Sky and I had most all of the same classes. I was unable to concentrate on anything other than seeing Edward this evening. I was pretty sure that I wouldn't be retaining anything that was being taught by any of my teachers today and that the information was just flying right through my head like I had no brain at all. Thankfully I would be able to get any notes or assignment information I missed from Sky.

As the day wore on, my ability to even sit still became a challenge. I was constantly fidgeting in my seat, tapping my pen on my desk, chewing on my pen cap or checking the time on my watch, my phone or the clock on the wall to see if one of them would tell me the time was moving faster than it felt. Despite my attempts to will the hands of time to move more quickly, it continued to tick by at a painstakingly slow pace and trying to focus on my lab class became near impossible.

"Here, let me do it," Sky whispered, holding her hand out for the glass slide I held in my shaking hand. I was having trouble placing it in the right spot under the microscope due to my state of nervousness.

"Thanks," I muttered softly, setting the small rectangle of glass into her hand.

"Don't worry. I've got you covered today," she assured me. "I know you've got your mind on other things."

I only had a half hour left to get through but it seemed like years at this point. I was hopeful that things would go well with Edward this evening, but a part of me was still scared it could all still fall apart. The way that he'd held me, and the energy I still felt flowing between us when we were close to each other, along with the way it still magnified when we touched, gave me cause to believe it would all work out. I was also hopeful that him having overheard the argument between my mother and I would help as well. However knowing how important honesty was to him, there was this voice in my head that kept asking if all of that would be enough for him to be able to move past my so-called lie.

By the time I'd changed and left with Alice to be dropped off at the pizza place Edward had asked me to meet him at, I was ready to come unraveled by my nerves until Alice started chattering non-stop about the guy she had met Saturday night at the ball.

"He's so handsome, Bell. I have never seen a man so gorgeous in all my life. His eyes are so beautiful and I love the way he has this small amount of facial hair framing his mouth and jaw. It's so damn sexy," she squealed. "And his smile…Oh my God, Bell, his smile just about killed me. I felt like I was floating on a cloud when he danced with me," she said, following it with a wistful sigh.

I glanced at her and giggled at the star-struck, dreamy look she had on her face.

Curious about this guy that had seemingly swept my best friend off her feet, I asked, "Oh really?" She nodded rapidly with an ear splitting, toothy smile on her face. "Does this Prince Charming have a name? And why didn't you tell me about him yesterday?"

"He does and I wanted to make sure he called me like he said he would before I started gushing about him. I wasn't sure if he was as taken with me as I was him, but I am fairly certain he is now since he asked me to go out with him this weekend. Plus I just didn't feel right blabbing about all my happiness when I know you are still hurting."

"Hey," I said to her when she came to a stop in front of the pizza place. "You know you don't ever have to hide your happiness from me. I am thrilled for you whether or not things work out between me and Edward."

"I know, but there's one more little thing I need to tell you about him." The serious look on her face and tone in her voice had me concerned now.

"Unless you are going to tell me it's Edward, which I am nearly one hundred percent sure you're not, then I don't know what you could possibly tell me about him that has you so worried. So spill it."

"Well what if I said he was Rose's brother and Edward's cousin?"

I took a second to process what she'd said and while I was surprised by her admission, I'd never hold it against her. "Then I'd tell you I'm happy for you."

"I just didn't want you to feel weird or whatever on the off chance things don't work out between you and Edward even though I know they are going to. I didn't want you to feel like you couldn't be around me if Jasper was with me if that were the case. But like I said I know things will work out." She had rambled the words out so fast I was lucky to have caught all of what she'd said. Good thing I was used to it.

"That will never ever, ever happen," I promised her.

"You're the best, Bell," she said leaning over and giving me a hug. Sitting back up she ordered, "Now go in there and get your guy back."

"Here goes nothing. Wish me luck," I mumbled as I got out of her Barbie-pink Volkswagen Beetle her parents had given her for graduation.

She could have had just about any car in the world—they'd have gotten her a Barbie-pink Porsche if she had asked for it. However she had asked for a Beetle and she'd gotten one. It was just another way in which her parents were so great. I wouldn't go so far to say that she was spoiled, but her parents actually listened to what she wanted and cared enough to give it to her if they felt the situation warranted it.

"Good luck, Bell. It will all work out. I just know it," she told me confidently. "Call me if you need me to come get you."

I nodded and shut the door to her car.

Turning to face the pizza place, I sucked in a long breath of air and blew it back out before taking my first step towards the door. Walking in, I spotted Edward immediately sitting in a booth that was in a corner directly across from the door.

"Hi," he said, giving me a slightly one-sided, soft smile as I placed my backpack down on the bench across from him and sat down in the booth. I'd thought about sitting next to him, and honestly that's where I would have loved to be, but I thought this way we would be able to see each other better as we talked.

"Hi," I returned, forcing down the nerves still gnawing at me.

"You hungry? Thirsty?" he asked.

"Um…sure."

He waved his hand and motioned for a waitress to come over to us. I instantly recognized her as Angela, the RA for my dorm building.

"Oh hey, Bella," she said with a smile while pulling her order pad out of the pocket of her apron. "What can I get for you guys?"

"I'll have a Mountain Dew and…" I looked over to Edward and asked, "What do you like on your pizza?"

"Anything but anchovies," he replied to me before telling Angela he'd have a Dr. Pepper to drink. Turning his attention back to me he then asked, "What about you?"

"Oh, no anchovies for me and no black olives or mushrooms either. Otherwise I'm good with anything else."

"Okay then," Edward said looking up to Angela. "How about a large deluxe loaded with everything except anchovies, mushrooms and black olives."

"You got it. I'll be right back with your drinks," she said and left.

"You know her?" he asked after she dropped off our drinks.

"Angela?" I asked before taking a sip of my soda.

He nodded while taking a drink of his too.

"Yeah she's the RA in my residence hall."

"Which hall would that be?" He had a cross between a hopeful yet hesitant look on his face like he wasn't sure whether or not I'd tell him, making me see I wasn't the only one nervous about the talk we were about to have.

"Meyer. I'm in Meyer Hall on the fourth floor."

"I did the dorm thing my freshman year, but didn't care for it much. I guess I just like my own room at home better. Besides it's close enough that I really don't need to be in the dorms."

"I remember you telling me that over the summer. I live close enough too, but no way was I staying at home," I told him.

"Yeah, I…uh…can't imagine you'd want to after what I heard the other night. Bella, I'm still stunned by what I heard…I just don't understand how a mother could say those things to her own child. I'm so sorry," he said softly but sincerely, gazing over at me as he raised his glass for another drink of soda.

"I'm not gonna lie and say it didn't hurt," I said, seeing him stiffen just slightly when I'd said the word 'lie'. "But it's also not anything I'm not used to hearing from her."

"Doesn't make it right," he stated, reaching over and taking my hand in his.

"Nope. But that's my mom. She only worries about what makes her happy."

Edward sighed and shook his head back and forth. "So…" he said just as Angela appeared with our pizza. He continued once she turned to walk away. "Along with several things my parents have pointed out to me and after what I heard the other night, I can see how wrong I was to accuse you of not telling me who you really were as some sort of political scheme to help your father. I'm truly sorry for that. I can't even begin to tell you how sorry I am for that. But, Bella, I still don't understand why you couldn't tell me. Why you wouldn't tell me…trust me enough." The tone in his voice wasn't harsh, but it wasn't that smooth velvety sound that had always melted my insides either. It was much crisper and very direct, as was the expression on his face.

He certainly wasn't wasting any time getting to the reason we were there. Not that I could blame him. We both needed to get through this so we could either fix things or let go and move on. I watched as he appeared to be waiting for me to begin while taking a huge bite out of his slice of pizza.

I picked at the piece on my plate. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to eat after all, but I did manage a couple pieces of the pepperoni off it before I started to talk. "First let me start by saying that I wanted to tell you. I wanted very much to tell you and I nearly did the night I told you I lived here in Baltimore. But I got scared."

"Scared? Why?" He seemed very surprised by my admission. I guess the snarky girl he'd met on the airplane might have given off the appearance that nothing scared her, but that was very far from the truth. Up until that point my worst fear had been the possibility of my parents finding out where I was going. But that paled tremendously to the idea of Edward never wanting anything to do with me again.

"Well let me backtrack a little and tell you that I didn't really lie about my last name. I only edited it a bit and didn't use the whole thing. My full name is Isabella Marie Hale Swan."

"Okay, but why?" he replied, waiting for me to explain more.

I took a bite of my pizza, chewing it slowly as I contemplated the best way to tell him everything.

"As I told you over the summer I've never felt like I fit in with my parents. I've never really felt like I belonged in their world. When my mother was my age, she took off across the country to Washington State and went to college there. She wanted to get as far away from her parents as she could."

"Is that what she was talking about the other night when she said she defied her parents too?"

"Yes. They wanted her to stay here and become the prim and proper debutant like my mother was trying to mold me into. My grandfather had a husband picked out for her and was planning her life for her in order to help his own agendas along. But she refused and took off. While she was in college she met my father who was from a very small town on the Northwest peninsula. He was only able to attend college because of the football scholarship he'd received. From what she's told me they were blissfully happy and planning to marry once they graduated and were counting on my father being drafted into the NFL."

"I'm guessing that didn't happen."

"Nope."

"Why not?"

"He sustained a severe injury to his knee and was never able to play again after that."

"Ahh. So what happened after that?" he inquired.

"Well then they were hit with a series of events that led my mother to calling her father and begging him to help them. First since my father was unable to play football any longer he was told that after that year he'd no longer receive his scholarship. That was a death sentence to his college education. Then my mom found out she was pregnant with me.

"My dad told her he loved her and that he'd find a way to provide for her and their baby. So they came up with the plan for my mother to quit school as well at the end of the semester and they'd move back to his hometown where he was sure his parents would help in any way they could and he'd find a job to take care of them.

"So that's what they did. But then things didn't work out as they had hoped. My dad wasn't able to find a job that paid enough for them to get by on and my mom, having never worked a day in her life, couldn't hack the waitressing job she had taken."

"So that's when she called your grandfather for help?"

"Yes."

"How does that play into you not telling me about your last name?"

"I'm getting there. I know it might seem like I'm telling you things that are irrelevant, but to me they aren't."

"Okay," he replied.

I finished off the slice of pizza I was eating and then took a long swig of my soda, while Edward got started on his third piece. He'd been eating as I talked.

"My grandparents were livid when Renee, my mother, called them and told them all that had happened. My grandfather told her that the only way he'd agree to help them was if her and my father both agreed to do things exactly as he told them, no exceptions."

"So basically let him run their lives."

"Yes. He demanded absolute control over them. And because of that, they have expected the same thing of me. That's why my mother thinks that I am just rebelling like she did and that I will go groveling back to her just like she did with my grandfather. But she's wrong. I will just as soon be homeless on the streets than to ask her for anything ever again."

"What are you going to do?" he asked, concern overcoming his face. "I heard her tell you that she won't even pay for the rest of your schooling."

"No she won't, even though from what I've heard my grandfather was paying for hers while she was there. I have a few ideas that I am working on and hopefully one of them works out."

"That's very brave of you," he told me.

"I refuse to give up on my dreams, on what I want," I said to him, looking him right in the eye, hoping he understood the double meaning behind my words. "Do you remember when I told you over the summer how my mother's idea of helping people was to write a check and then forget about it?"

"Yes. I remember everything you've told me, Bella."

"What I didn't tell you was that my parents had no idea where I was this summer until the other night. Because of their views and ideas on helping others, I knew they'd do everything within their power to prevent me from going to the DR."

"And you didn't want them to do that?"

"No I didn't. I wanted to be there this summer to help those people, Edward. That was my only reason for going. I've stayed so far removed from my father's political career that I had no idea you were in any way related to whoever his opponent was. In fact I had been paying so little attention to it that I didn't even know who he was running against."

"Just how were you going to vote then if you were so uninformed?" he asked curiously.

"Because I was determined to vote for whoever his opponent was regardless of who it was, because the one thing I did know about my father was that he was willing to promise the voters whatever he had to in order to win. And after living with him all of my life, I knew that his beliefs were not ones I wanted to back up. His and my mother's answer to everything has always been money. Throw money at it and things will go how you want them too. So unless whoever he was running against was some kind of complete monster, he had already won my vote."

"I see," he said, his eyebrows scrunching together as he contemplated all I'd said.

There were still things to say so I dove right back in, needing to get it all out. "Getting back to my name, because of their beliefs and knowing they'd do all that they could to prevent me from volunteering this summer, when I registered with the Red Cross, I left off the last part of my name. I am not going to say how or from who, but I was able to get a second passport and other documentation that I needed to volunteer by using a copy of my original birth certificate."

"Wait? I don't understand. What do you mean your original birth certificate? How would you do that unless…"

"Unless my last name wasn't Swan yet at the time I was born."

"I don't understand. Weren't your parents married when you were born?"

"No. Due to some pretty serious complications my mom began having while pregnant with me, she was put on bed rest and wasn't allowed to travel across the country until after I was born. At that time because they weren't married, my mother had to give me her last name."

"Hale," he murmured.

"Yeah. Once they were able to move here, my grandfather drummed up the story that my parents had married back in Washington and that I was a honeymoon baby. He said they'd had a simple wedding ceremony and that because they were so thrilled for Renee and Charles they wanted to throw them the wedding they should have gotten in the first place. What all my grandfather's snooty friends didn't know was that, that wedding they witnessed was the actual real thing. They later paid to have Swan added to my last name. But at my grandfather's insistence they had it added on, instead of having it changed."

"That's some story," Edward said, slumping back in his seat. Removing his hand from mine, he ran them both through his hair, before his fingers tightened on the messy strands and he leaned his head forward in thought.

"It is," I agreed. "And I know it might be somewhat hard to believe. But I promise you, Edward, everything I am telling you is the absolute truth. Everything I've ever told you about me is the truth. Keeping my last name from you is the only thing I have ever been dishonest with you about and I can't tell you how sorry I am for not telling you. I used the last name Hale so that it would be harder for my parents to track me down if they did somehow find out that I was not sitting on the beach in Acapulco with the rest of my graduating class like I was supposed to be.

"The only one who was aware of my whereabouts was Al. My fear was that if they found out, they'd either find a way to drag me home or that my father would bring a huge media entourage to the DR and turn what I was doing into a political ploy for himself. To use the good I was doing to help himself. I couldn't allow that to happen. Don't you see I was trying to prevent exactly what you accused me of from happening?"

"But why didn't you feel you could trust me with the truth. I thought that we had been growing pretty close, Bella, and even if you couldn't tell me at first, I still don't get why you couldn't later on."

And there was exactly what I'd been afraid of. Even after everything I had told him, it still came back to that one thing.

"Can you answer me that, Bella? I can see why you didn't want you parents to know. Why you used only part of your last name. But why couldn't you tell me? Me, Bella? You slept in my arms all those nights and yet never told me who you really were."

I could see the hurt in his eyes and hear it in his voice. It now had me wondering if no matter how he felt about me if he'd ever be able to move past what I'd done.

Tears began welling in my eyes and a lump forming in my throat. "Because of who you were, who you knew, was the reason at first," I whispered in a shaky voice.

"What do you mean? You said you didn't know my uncle was running against your father," he snapped. His voice had suddenly taken on an accusatory tone.

"No not because of your uncle," I clarified. "Because of your dad. Think about it from my perspective, Edward. Carlisle works for the Red Cross. At first I didn't tell you because I was petrified that you might tell him and he'd feel obligated to report me to Peter and I'd be accused of committing fraud and sent home."

"You say at first. Does that mean your reason changed?"

"Yes. Once we began growing closer, once I began falling for you and I'd gotten to know your parents…Saw how wonderful and caring they were, I was not only afraid that you'd reject me because I'd lied to you, more than anything I didn't want to hurt you or lose you. But I also had the fear of your father feeling obligated to inform Peter and that frightened me. Sure there was a big chance that you and your parents would have understood and would have never said a word. But I would have never asked you or your parents to lie for me, Edward. I could never ask that of you. I would never jeopardize any of you like that. If my parents had somehow gotten wind of my whereabouts, they would have been on the first plane to the DR and it would have all come out. I couldn't risk any of you being caught keeping my secret. I cared, still care, far too much for all of you to do that." The tears were now flowing freely down my face. "I don't know what else to say to you other than I am so, so very sorry and I hope that you can forgive me."

"I want to," he said hoarsely, his own emotions threatening to overwhelm him. "It's…it's a lot to take in." He sat silently for a few minutes pinching the bridge of his nose, hardly even breathing until he let out a long sigh and said," You've given me a lot of information to digest. A lot to think about."

"I understand. And I don't expect you to decide right now. Take all the time you need. In the meantime I won't bother you or try to contact you in any way," I told him. I then dug in my purse and found a pen and a piece of paper. "Here," I said, after I jotted down my phone number. "I want you to know that no matter what happens I will always treasure the time we had together this summer. I will never forget it. I care so much about you, but if you decide to end things, even though it's not what I want, I will respect your choice. When you're ready, no matter what you decide, here's my number."

"Thanks, and I promise you'll be the first to know what I decide," he assured me.

"I'm just gonna go call Al and have her come get me," I told him standing up and grabbing my purse and backpack.

I was halfway to the door when I heard him call out my name. "Bella." I turned around to see him throwing some money down on the table to cover our food and then come my way. "Don't call your friend. I can take you back to your dorm."

"Are you sure? She's expecting me to call her anyways. It's really not a big deal."

"I'm sure."

I nodded and let him lead me outside. He pointed to the orange jeep and then opened the door for me. Neither of us said anything along the way. It wasn't like I had to give him directions since he already knew his way around the hospital and campus grounds very well.

I didn't know where things would go from here, but did get one little shred of hope when I went to get out of his jeep and he started to lean towards me like he wanted to kiss me or give me a hug. Unfortunately he pulled back and instead just softly told me goodbye, along with the promise to call me when he had his answer.

Shutting the door to his jeep, I turned to make my way up to my building. Just as I reached the first step leading to the walkway, I heard Edward call my name, causing me to spin back around. "Happy Birthday," he said with a soft smile on his face.

"You remembered," I said, surprised that he had. It made my hopes soar that he had.

"Of course I did."

He glanced down at his steering wheel as a moment of awkward silence overcame us both. It was as if there was so much more that he wanted to say, but for whatever reason was holding back. And given all I'd just told him I could understand his reluctance to say too much right now.

"Well I better get inside," I said saving us both.

"Goodnight, Bella."

"Goodnight, Edward."

I watched for a second as he drove off before heading up to my room. It was a waiting game now. That's all I could do besides hope and pray he came to the answer I wanted him to. Until then I would wait.

September 15, 2011

"Isabella Marie, you better open this door now!" Al ordered as she pounded on my locked bedroom door.

My success in avoiding Al and Skylar for the past two days was about to run out. Our busy class schedules had helped me in doing so, but not any longer.

Both of them had been waiting for me when I returned from talking to Edward on Tuesday night. However, neither of them had pressed me for information when I told them I wasn't ready to talk about it yet. I let them know things hadn't gone badly, but I had also told them that was all I wanted to say right then. Though I could see they were both eying me carefully, watching for any telltale signs that I was putting up a front or ready to fall to pieces, they didn't protest and gave me the space I needed to digest my own feelings over what had happened.

Even though she had, I knew Al's patience would end sooner rather than later and it looked like it had reached that point today.

I pulled myself up out of the oversized bean bag chair I'd been sitting in by the window in my room, taking notes on the chapter I had to read for one of my classes and walked over to the door.

Leaning against the wall next to the door I decided to mess with her a bit. "Can't you just give me one more day? Tomorrow is Friday, one more day, Al." I couldn't help smiling while I tried to sound authentic as I whined and teased her. "Please," I added, dragging the word out for good measure.

"Nope, times up. Now unlock this door or I'll go convince Angela to do it for me."

She would too. I had no doubts about that.

My smile grew wider thinking about her telling Angela some out of this world story to get her way. I knew she would make good on her threat. In fact I was certain there wasn't anything short of being physically removed from the building and being permanently banned from it that was going to get Al away from my door today. I allowed a few moments to pass, pretending that I was still hesitating on letting her in, before I tried to put on a straight face as I first turned the lock and then the knob on the door to let her in.

"I was this close to going to get Angela," she said holding up her thumb and finger with barely enough space between them to tell they weren't touching.

"Guess it's a good thing I opened the door when I did, huh?" I said, before I started snickering at her.

"You brat," she huffed at me. "You were standing there on the other side of the door messing with me, weren't you?"

"Mm…maybe." A huge smile spread across my face.

"I would have so done it, you know."

"Oh I do. But come on, you can't tell me you wouldn't have messed with me if our situations were reversed."

"Mm…maybe," she returned with her own smile, plopping down on my bed.

"So, as you can see I'm still alive and not drowning in my own tears," I said, getting to why she was here.

"And just why is that?" she asked.

"What do you mean why is that? Do you want to see me crying my eyes out? I'd think you'd be thrilled."

"Of course I don't want to see you crying. And I know when you got home the other night you said things hadn't gone badly, but what exactly does that mean? Did he understand why you kept your last name a secret? Is he still pissed at you? What happened? You have to give me some answers here," she demanded.

"Well…I wouldn't say he's pissed at me anymore. But I'm not sure if he's going to be able to move past me keeping my real last name from him either."

"Why not?" she asked. She had a stunned look on her face as if to say there was just no other option for Edward. That she totally expected him to move past my blunder and that to her that was the only thing that would be acceptable.

Yes, if only the great and powerful Mary Alice Brandon could wave a magic wand and rule the world.

"Because I hurt him, Al. I don't even think it's even about the fact I didn't use my full last name anymore. He told me he understood why I had done that."

"Then what is it?"

"I think it's more about the fact that I didn't trust him enough to tell him. He's hurt by it. He believes our relationship had grown to a point where I should have told him even if I had kept it from everyone else. He's still hurt that I didn't tell him. I could see it in his eyes, Al. I really, really hurt him and I just don't know if he will be able to let that go."

"He will," she stated with all the confidence in the world, like she had some crystal ball she had seen into.

"I wish I could be as sure as you are. But I just don't know," I admitted to her. "I tried to make him understand I couldn't tell him because I'd never put him in a position to have to lie for me, but I just don't know if that will be enough."

"I do. It's simple really," she claimed while placing both her hands on my arms and looking me right in the eye. "He loves you and because of that he will forgive you."

Blinking away the tears that were forming, I turned my gaze down to my hands that were toying with the zipper on my fleece jacket, I whispered, "What if it's not enough. What if he does love me, but it's not enough."

"Oh, honey," she pulled me into her arms and hugged me tightly when she saw me swipe away a few tears. "It will be okay. From what Rose has told me, he nearly knocked his friend Emmett on his ass for saying how hot he thought you were before he knew who you were. And maybe you didn't notice, but the look of relief on his face when he found out 'Al' was a girl…Bella that boy…er…man has it for you bad. He is head over heels in love with you. He'll come around."

"I so hope you're right," I said hugging her back. She really was the best friend in the world.

"I am, and as my reward you are going out with me next Saturday night. You never got to properly celebrate your birthday and Saturday is Rose's birthday so her parents have rented a private room at that dance club Eclipse, and she's invited you, me and Sky."

"You're forgetting one thing," I told her.

"What? And don't tell me it's that I don't know if I'm right yet, so I don't get my reward yet," she insisted with a giggle.

"Well that then that's two things," I teased. "But the main one is that we aren't twenty-one. How are we going to get into that club?"

"Well first of all, the bar side of the club is split from the dance floor side. Second, they allow under twenty-ones in the dance club side of the place. And third, Rose's father has worked out a deal with the club where everyone in her party has to have their hand stamped. They do this normally, but they are using a special one for those in her party. There's one color for those old enough to drink and another color for those underage. If you don't have a stamp, you have to leave, which is their normal protocol anyway."

"I don't know, Al…if it's her party, won't Edward be there?"

"So what if he is. Let him see you out having a good time and see what he's missing out on. Come on. Come with us, hang out and have fun. You so need this, Bell."

"Fine," I groaned and gave in to her. She was right. I hadn't really done much for fun lately and it would be good to get out. Plus, even if I weren't with him, it would be good to see Edward. Maybe seeing me would help him make up his mind.

"Yay! We are going to have so much fun. You'll see."

"We better. Now, I have to finish my homework. Are you staying to work on yours or what?"

"Nope, I have to head home, but I'll be over tomorrow night to see if we need to go shopping this weekend for something for you to wear next Saturday."

"Al," I whined.

"Love you," she chirped and popped up and headed out the door before I could protest any more.

September 16, 2011

Reaching over to shut off my alarm clock, I quickly buried my face into my pillow to shield my tired eyes against the bright morning sun that was filling my room. I hadn't gotten much sleep last night and right now the last thing I wanted to do was drag my sleepy body from between the soft sheets of my bed. I'd woken up in the middle of the night after dreaming about Edward and had been unable to go back to sleep. It wasn't that it was a bad dream, quite the opposite actually, given the fact that I'd dreamt he had been waiting for me after my last class today and had told me that he'd forgiven me. He had gone on to say he loved me and never wanted to be away from me again. Then just before his lips could reach mine, in what I was sure would be a toe curling kiss, my bladder decided to scream at me to be emptied. For the next hour or so afterwards I had tossed from one side to the other, trying to shut my brain off and stop my lips from tingling at the memory of what it felt like to be kissed by Edward.

Frustrated over my ability to fall back to sleep, I had groaned much louder than I had meant to and Sky had heard me from the kitchen where she was up getting a snack. Seems she had been unable to sleep too, but her insomnia was from nerves over an anatomy test we had today. So thinking that I was having a bad dream or was upset, she knocked on my door to check on me and we had ended up chatting about my talk with Edward and going dancing on Saturday with Al. It had been close to three in the morning by the time she was heading back to her room to try and get some sleep.

Finally prying one eye open I glanced at my clock, seeing I had been procrastinating for fifteen minutes now. That meant it was eight-fifteen and I had to hurry to get to class by nine. Luckily I wouldn't have to think about what to wear today. We had been instructed to wear our scrubs today since we'd be going on a tour of the hospital after our anatomy test.

"You up?" Sky called from the hall.

"Yeah, hopping in the shower real quick. I'll be reading in twenty," I replied fighting back a yawn.

"Me too."

After hurrying through my shower, I dried off and made my way over my closet for my clothes. It was a little cool out today so grabbed a shirt to wear under my scrub top and then I finished getting dressed. They might not be the most attractive things to wear, but what hospital scrubs lacked in style, they more than made up for in comfort. Not having enough time to really do anything with my hair, I dried it just enough with the hair dryer so that it wasn't dripping all over me and then pulled it back into a ponytail. I then applied a little makeup and slipped on my sneakers and grabbed my backpack.

I met Skylar in the kitchen as I scrounged for a granola bar to scarf down on the way to class and we both laughed when we saw that we had both eaten the same thing and had fixed our hair the same way.

"You nervous?" she asked as she pulled open the door to my car. We took turns driving from our dorm room to the nursing school building and this week was mine.

"A little," I told her. Tests weren't something that usually freaked me out. But Sky had explained to me she was one of those people who could know the information backwards and forwards and she still panicked when it came time to be tested over it. "I think I'm more nervous about the hospital tour than I am the test."

"Why?" she asked.

"I don't know. I guess maybe because everyone will know we are the newbies and they'll all be looking at us like we're some sort of lab rat or something," I told her.

"Yeah, I guess that makes sense. At least it's Friday though."

"Yep. Thank goodness for that," I said with a sigh as I pulled into my assigned spot on the nursing school parking lot.

From there on the rest of the day went by quickly. It was just after two in the afternoon when the twenty or so of us in our group lined up to begin our tour.

It began in the surgery section, with our teacher filling us in on the different departments we'd be doing rotations in before graduation. Sky and I just rolled our eyes at each other when a couple of the girls were having a hard time accepting the fact that they'd have to do a rotation in surgery, whether they wanted to or not. They thought it was gross, which had me wondering what the hell they were doing in nursing school in the first place.

We followed along through all the different departments until we came to our last stop. The ER. This was where I wanted to be. I found the commotion and chaos that could go on in an emergency room to be thrilling and exciting and where I could best put my desire to help those who needed it to work. While I didn't have anything against being a floor nurse, and my second choice would be a labor and delivery nurse, there was just something about the action and critical care that went on in the ER that made it more of what I wanted to do. I also knew that having good ER skills as a nurse would be very handy for any future volunteer work I would do.

Exiting the elevator we went down the short hall and rounded a corner to find ourselves at the emergency room nurses' station.

"Ladies, please direct your attention to the patient information board on the back wall," our teacher said, pulling all of our attention away from the group of med students getting instructions from a couple of doctors. "Here you will see a very critical tool we rely on to keep the ER running smoothly. It may not seem like much compared to all of the high tech equipment we use on a daily basis, but it is pertinent in allowing our patients to be treated in a timely manner.

"One of the chief complaints that is always associated with being seen in an ER is the amount of time it takes to actually be seen. Here at Hopkins, we strive for excellence and keeping the information board up-to-date helps make sure we can do that. I am going to ask you to listen to Doctors Carter and Ross as they explain the importance of the board to their group of med students."

I was listening as the two doctors explained the different columns on the huge dry erase board. Dr. Carter introduced himself to us and began to explain what each of the columns on the board was for. From left to right he told us they were for listing the room number, patient name, why they were there, the time they arrived and the doctor that had been assigned to each patient. I was trying to pay attention, but I couldn't help notice that one of the med students seemed very familiar to me. The way he stood, the width of his shoulders and even the color of his hair seemed familiar to me, but it was hard to tell since he had a rather short haircut, buzzed close to his head.

"Sky," I said whispering to her as softly as I could to get her attention.

"What?" she whispered back.

Leaning over closer to her, I softly replied, "See that guy up there? The tall one with the really short hair?"

Standing on her tip-toes to look over and around the girl in front of her, she looked at me and nodded then shrugged her shoulders and mouthed the word "so" to me.

"I swear I know him," I told her.

"How?" she asked.

"I don't know. There's just something about him," I said, while glancing back up at him, wishing he'd turn even slightly so I could look at more than the back of his head.

As I did, the guy moved to scratch the back of his head and that's when I saw it. I'd know that watch anywhere after seeing it on him every day for most of the summer.

"Shit," I muttered.

"What?" Sky asked, trying to see what I was focused on.

"It's Edward."

A snort shot out of her just before she said, "Look, Bella, I know you miss the guy and all, but I think you've lost your mind. That guy doesn't have Edward's hair."

I was fighting between being embarrassed and grateful when Sky's snort caused everyone to turn around and look at her.

"Is there a problem, Miss…" Dr. Ross asked

However all I heard of her response was something about her sneezing too hard, because my eyes were locked with Edward's green ones. If I was reading the emotion dancing in his eyes, he was happy to see me. And when his lips curved up into my favorite smile when the doctor ordered us all to focus our attentions back to the patient info board, I was pretty certain that I had been right.

What the hell happened to his hair?

The doctor continued to talk for a short while longer. How long I didn't know as I had been completely lost in watching Edward. I could have stared at him all day. That strong, angular jaw of his, the way the layer of stubble covered it, the way his tongue briefly swept across his bottom lip, making me remember what it was like to kiss those lips, and the way his Adam's apple bobbed in his throat when he swallowed. He was so incredibly handsome and sexy and I'd be totally lying if I tried to deny the fact that I was anything other than thoroughly mesmerized by him. Of course the way his lips were twitching ever so slightly, showing he was fighting the urge to smile, I was convinced he knew my eyes were glued on him and that he was loving every minute of it.

Being pulled abruptly from my dazzled by Edward daze by one of the doctors' deep voices, I was sad when the group of med students were instructed to move on to their next stop. I so badly wanted to be able to talk to Edward and ask him if he'd given any thought to our conversation from a few days ago or if he'd made any decision about the status of our relationship. I'd have to continue to wait for now and hope that he wanted things to work out as much as I did. His positive reaction to seeing me had given me some much needed encouragement, and my heart soared with even more hope when he was just about out of my sight and he turned his head, looking right at me, giving me a quick flash of that smile again and winked at me.

"I saw that," Sky told me as we were also instructed to move on. "He so still has it bad for you, Bella. It was written all over his face."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. I'd be willing to bet you hear from him very soon," she insisted.

"I sure hope so. Wait…" I stopped instantly where I was and grabbed her arm to stop her too as what she'd just said sunk in. "Who are you and where did my roommate go?" I asked her completely stunned by her sudden change of heart where Edward was concerned.

"What?"

"Why are you so suddenly so sure of his feelings for me? Do you know something I don't know? Has Al been talking to him behind my back?" I had rambled the questions at her so quickly I had sounded like Al.

"No I don't know anything, and let's just say that right now, right this minute, I believe he truly cares for you. He genuinely looks happy to see you and appears to have enjoyed the attention you gave him."

"Oh, okay, but why just right now, right this minute?" Please don't let her start pushing Luke on me again.

"Because he still has to pull his head out of his ass and make things right with you, and until he does that, I won't be one hundred percent Team Edward."

The skeptical part of me understood exactly what Sky meant about Edward needing to make good on the feelings he claimed to have for me, while the other part took all of the positive signs and let them keep me holding on. But no matter how tightly I held on to hope it was getting harder and harder to wait. Harder and harder not to second guess everything as the time went by.

Despite being hard, waiting was still all I could do for now. It had only been four days, which even though they had felt more like four years, wasn't very long. But while I was willing to give Edward the time he needed to come to terms with everything I'd told him on Monday, I wasn't willing to wait forever. Sooner or later he was going to have to make a decision and like it or not, we'd both have to live with whatever that choice was.


So…anyone catch my shout out to my all-time favorite television show, ER? And how many of us remember the first time Rob shaved his hair off and we were all like, what the hell? I know I do.

Don't forget to check out the pics on my blog, especially if you want to see Stretch in his scrubs.

I promise to get the next chapter to you as soon as I can.

I can't wait to hear from you. I hope all of you have a very Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year!

EA