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Not sure if Bella wanted to leave right away or stay here for a while longer, I said," We can head over to the library right away or hang out here for a bit. Whatever you want to do is fine with me." With her hand still clasped securely in mine, I tugged Bella down on the couch with me and pulled her close, as I waited for her reply. It was as if I couldn't get her close enough to me. I didn't want there to be any space between us, even if I knew I had to behave myself and control the urges that wanted to take over.

A few minutes ago as we'd lain hidden away, kissing on my bed, it hadn't taken long for me to know I needed to get her out of my room. I'd barely been able to hang on to some sort of sanity and keep us from going further than we should after the heated kisses we'd shared. My body had been screaming at me to ravish her, but I knew we weren't close to being ready for that even when her hand had clawed at my shirt for leverage as she'd hitched her leg up over mine and pressed herself against me towards the end of our make-out session, telling me her body had been screaming the same thing at her.

I was burning with desire for her; she affected me more than anyone ever had before and on a much deeper level. Waiting until the time was right for us to make love wouldn't be easy, it would be pure torture, but I knew it would be worth it. Bella deserved her first time to be a beautiful experience that she'd never forget and if I was lucky enough to be her first I'd make sure it was. She deserved to be treated like a princess, to be shown what an incredible person she was, especially after the way her parents have treated her. It still baffled me, completely blew my mind, how they could just blow her off, shuck their responsibility to their child, and cut ties with her. Yes, when the time came for Bella and I to make love for the first time—and I knew we'd get there eventually because I had no intention of ever letting her go again—it'd be a special, meaningful experience for us both. One she wouldn't regret.

But not now, not yet. It was too soon. We still needed to work through rebuilding our relationship. We needed to rebuild our trust in one another and be more secure in our relationship. And that didn't mean I felt as if we didn't have trust now or any security at all in where things stood between us. We obviously trusted our feelings enough to want to be together despite the issues that had arisen to drive us apart. But we needed more time to form a more solid relationship between us. Besides it was simply too soon period. We just got back together and I'd never want her to have any reason at all to think that sex was the reason for that, because it absolutely wasn't.

Now that we were back in the living room it was much easier to behave, although I didn't think I'd ever get enough of kissing her. Kissing Bella was sweeter than cotton candy and I didn't think I'd ever get my fill.

"I shouldn't need any more than about an hour at the library, so you decide. How much research do you have to do?" she asked, passing the decision off to me.

"I might need a little more time than that. Do you mind being there with me?" I asked hoping she didn't. "I can take you home and go back if you want."

I ran my fingers through her hair, threading them through the soft strands repeatedly as I waited for her answer, hoping she could hear me chanting in my head as I silently begged her to stay with me.

She smiled softly and nodded before backing her response with her words. "Edward, I want to spend as much time as we can together. I've missed you so much. If you need to be there longer, that's fine. I'll just keep working too."

"Are you sure?"

"Definitely. I might only need about an hour to do the research I need, but I can keep working. Besides it'd be stupid for you to stop in the middle of your research and take me home, only to go back and have to start all over again. So please, don't worry about it."

"Well then it's settled."

"Sounds good." Bella then leaned forward and snatched the remote off the table as if she'd read my mind and had known that was what I was going to do next. "What's on?" she asked as she began flipping through the channels.

"If you give me the remote, I'll see what I can find," I suggested.

"No way, buddy. You'll probably put it on some sports channel and then refuse to change it." She grinned widely as she quickly tossed the remote into her hand furthest away from me as I attempted to snatch it from her.

"Nice. Where'd you learn that move?" I leaned forward to try and kiss her, thinking maybe I could distract her long enough to grab the remote.

"Watching Al and her sister fight over the remote at her house." She leaned back, totally seeing through my guise. "Think you're slick huh, Cullen?" She smirked and wagged her finger at me as she playfully chastised me.

"Can't blame a guy for trying." I chuckled and gave up. "So how old is her sister and have you ever joined in?" I asked, curious if she just sat back and watched the two sisters battle it out or if she took sides and joined in. I wondered if she would automatically take her best friend's side or if she'd ever teamed up with Alice's sister?

As feisty as Alice appeared to be just from the short amount of time I'd spent around her, I couldn't imagine she'd quit or give in until she'd gotten her way. And imagining that her sister could be even feistier than she was, was a scary thought. Bella was spunky and she had a sarcastic side of her that I actually loved, but she didn't have the utter stubbornness and the have to have her way mentality that Alice seemed to have. It made me hope for Jasper's sake that he never pissed her off, because I had a feeling Alice would be the one to come out on top in any argument they'd have.

"Once in a while I did. Others I just sat back and watched. On occasion they could get pretty vicious, ending with them rolling around on the floor like a tamer version of one of those cage fights. There was one time their mom had to break them apart and ground them both."

"Really? Guess that was a bummer for you since you had to then go home."

"Nope," she said and giggled. "Their mom handed me the remote and told me since I was the only one acting my age, I was more than welcome to stay and watch whatever I wanted."

"That's great. Did you?"

"Yep," she replied as she flipped through a few more channels, finally leaving it on some cooking show I'd never seen before.

And she thought guys were cliché on what they always watched.

We settled into comfortable positions with her nestled up against my side and her head resting on me. Unable to resist the urge to play with her hair, my fingers found themselves tangled in her long strands again.

It wasn't but maybe fifteen, twenty minutes later when I heard soft snores coming from her and looked down to see she was sleeping. I closed my eyes not wanting to move, feeling a bit tired myself, and was just starting to doze off when I heard the click of the front door opening and closing.

"Hey. How'd your day with Bella go?" my mom asked, sitting her purse down on the counter.

"Shhh," I said at the same time I motioned to a sleeping Bella on the couch next to me.

"Oh, sorry," my mom replied softly. "Did you guys have a good day?"

"We did." I couldn't fight the smile that spread across my face as I slowly got up without waking Bella. I followed my mom over to the kitchen area where I filled her in on our day so far as I helped her put away the groceries she'd bought.

When I was finished telling her, she hugged me and said, "If you hadn't told me, I'd be able to see things are good by the smile on your face and the twinkle in your eyes. It's good to see you happy again."

"It feels good too, Mom. I love her and I'm just glad that I didn't mess things up too badly."

"I know you do. Just remember honesty and communication are the keys."

"I will," I told her.

I would too. If I had my way, nothing would ever come between Bella and me again.

Thinking I could make good use of my time while Bella napped, I started to head down to the jeep and grab my backpack so I could get a start on my homework.

"Shoot," I heard my mom grumble from the kitchen.

"You okay, Mom?" I called before going any further down the stairs.

When she didn't reply right away, I made my way back to the kitchen.


"I'm fine. I just realized I should have gotten some something at the store," she told me as she kept digging though the fridge. "I swore I had some eggs in here."

"You did. Dad and I had them for breakfast. I was up early unable to go back to sleep and he fixed them for us before he left for the hospital," I confessed.

"So anxious to start your day with Bella you couldn't sleep, huh?"

"Yes I was." I chuckled, knowing there was no point in denying the obvious. "Do you need me to go get you some more?"

"Would you please?" she asked.

"Sure. If Bella wakes up just tell her I'll be right back."

"I will. You're acting like she's going to disappear," she accused.

"I am not."

At least I didn't think I was. Was I?

"Besides if she does happen to wake up, I'm sure I can entertain her for a few minutes while you're gone," she assured me. "Now go on. Get out of here so you can get back to her."

"Yes, ma'am," I replied and turned to get on my way.

Nearly a half hour later I was on my way up the stairs to the main level of our condo when I was stopped dead in my tracks by what sounded like my girlfriend crying. Unable to move as I heard her sobs, I stood there listening, worried about what she could be so upset over.

Had she changed her mind? Did she regret us getting back together?

"No. She wouldn't do that," I whispered to myself so softly I barely heard the words. But even as I told myself it couldn't be true, my feet remained glued to the steps and my ears tuned in perfectly to her voice.

With her next sentence though, I knew exactly why she was crying. "I…I just don't understand. How can Edward love me so much in such a short time when my own parents don't? How can people I've barely known for more than a few months, you and Carlisle, care so much for me when my own parents have for all intents and purposes, abandoned me? I just wish I could understand," Bella cried.

Did she not understand how truly wonderful she was?

How the hell had she and my mother gotten on this topic? I had a hard time believing my mother would just bring it up. So had Bella?

"Oh, Bella, honey," I heard my mother coo in a soft soothing tone. "You had a horrible dream, dear, and now it's got you all frazzled."

"Damn it," I muttered under my breath, internally kicking myself hearing that Bella had, had a nightmare about her parents and I hadn't been there for her.

"But it felt so real. It was so vivid," Bella said. "My parents just kept taunting me, telling me I was nothing and that no one would ever want me and that I'd go crying back to them or I'd be all alone the rest of my life."

Hearing her in so much pain made me want to rip her parents' heads off.

"You look at me right now, Isabella. It isn't just Edward who loves you. Carlisle and I have come to love you as well. You might not realize it now, but I have a very strong feeling you and Edward are going to be together for a very long time to come. We will all be here for you, to help you through whatever life throws at you. And now that Carlisle has made amends with his family, I am sure they will love you too once they get to know you. In fact I've heard that my niece and nephew are both very fond of you already. You will have people around you. You're a part of our family now and we take care of those we love."

"Thank you, Esme. That means so much to me. Edward is lucky to have such an amazing and loving mother," Bella said in a soft shaky voice.

"You're welcome. Just don't ever forget it," my mother ordered her in a stern yet loving way.

"I won't. I promise."

"Good. Now why don't you go take a few minutes and freshen up in the bathroom? I'm sure Edward will be back soon."

"Okay," Bella agreed.

After listening for the sound of Bella's footsteps to get far enough away, I made my way upstairs. I'd no sooner taken one step into the living room when my mother turned from where she was sitting on the couch and asked as she stood up, "How long were you listening?"


I had barely even opened my mouth to ask her how she knew, when she replied, "I've had enough practice listening to you sneak in and out of this house with Emmett, that I know every sound that door makes no matter how slight it might be. It's called mother's hearing; you'll greatly appreciate it one day when it's your wife who has it."

I shook my head back and forth, smiling, knowing there was no point in even trying to deny it.

"Well?" she asked. "We've only got so much time before Bella comes out of the bathroom."

"The part where she was talking about how she doesn't understand why we care—love her so much and her own parents don't."

"Thought that's when I heard you come in." She smiled knowingly at me as she nodded and continued. "Then let me quickly fill you in on the rest. She woke up crying out the word no over and over in her sleep. My guess is she was trying to deny in her dream what her parents were telling her."

"Yeah I heard her mention that. I'd like to give them both a piece of my mind. I'm just as confused over it as she is, Mom. How do I help her get past this, see what a beautiful person she is on the inside and out?" I asked, hoping she could provide me with some insight on the situation.

"Well for starters you need to be honest with her about what you heard and even this conversation we are having now. You can't afford any secrets from her, not that you'd keep any, mind you. I'm just being thorough here."

"I get what you mean."

"Not now, but later when you're alone, talk to her, tell her what you heard and so on. I suspect the turmoil and emotional roller coaster she's been on over what's happened between the two of you, your reunion, and her attempt to deal with the drama of what her parents have done is finally catching up with her. She is going to need the support of everyone around her, but I believe she is going to need yours the most, Son."

I nodded in agreement, knowing I'd be there for Bella in any way, shape, or form she needed me to be.

"Let her talk about how she feels, let her get her emotions out in whatever way is beneficial to her, as long as you don't think it's harmful to her. Not that I think Bella is any sort of threat to herself, because I don't. I believe if everyone around her, who loves and cares about her, rallies around her and shows her how good of a person she really is, she'll pull through this just fine. It's just going to take her some time to come to terms with and work through the slew of emotions she's dealing with."

"Makes sense," I told her. "And I'll be there for her however she needs me to be and as much as she needs me to be."

"I knew you would be." She took a couple of steps towards me to close the gap between us and pulled me into a warm hug. "One more thing, Edward," she said, taking a step back, placing her hand firmly on my arm. "I don't know how far the physical side of things has gotten with you and Bella, but now is not the time to be pressing her for more."

"I would nev—" She raised her hand cutting me off before I could finish.

"Didn't think you would. But I do know all about things getting out of hand when you don't mean for them too. She needs some time to work through this first. You will both know when the time is right if it hasn't gone that far yet."

"It hasn't."

"I don't need details or specifics. You're both adults capable of making decisions about that sort of thing on your own. I'd just hate to see her use the physical aspect of things to try and sooth the hurt she's feeling and later have regrets."

"I understand, Mom."

"I knew you would. Now why don't you go check on her?"

I nodded again and after giving my mom another hug and thanking her, I headed down the hall towards the bathroom.

When I reached the bathroom door, I found it opened enough to see Bella's reflection in the mirror. I watched as she splashed some water on her face and dried it off. Afterwards she pulled an elastic band from her wrist and used her fingers to comb her hair back, securing it into a ponytail.

I nudged the door open a little further and slipped into the small space quietly. "It doesn't matter what you do, you're still beautiful." I removed her hand from the long strand of hair she was fussing over and tucked it back behind her ear. "What?" I asked when she looked at me like I was crazy.

"Nothing," she mumbled as she shook her head.

"Look at me, Bella," I demanded softly as I cupped her face with both my hands and gently forced her to do as I had asked. When she had her gaze locked with mine, I continued. "I know you've been through a lot lately—the blowout with your mom, and what happened between us, and I can see that it has you doubting everything about yourself. You might not believe it right now, but I promise you one day you will look in the mirror and you will see what I do. You will see what Alice, Skylar, my parents, and probably lots of other people see."

"And just what is that?" she asked.

"An incredibly smart, beautiful, young woman. One who is not only beautiful on the outside, but one who is even more beautiful on the inside. You have such a caring, loving and compassionate heart, Bella. Don't let your parents' faults project onto you how you feel about yourself. Whatever issues they have or whatever fucked up ideas they have in their heads about how you should live your life or who you should be is just that—theirs. No one else's. The rest of us see and know the real you. The person you want to be, and she's amazing and incredible and I'm damn lucky to have a second chance with her."

"Do you really mean that?"

I stared at her in shock for a second. But when I saw the questions in her eyes, the need for me to reassure her I wasn't going to vanish on her again, it really hit me that with all she had been through and the way I'd initially reacted to finding out who she was, her dream, and all the emotions of us just beginning to put our relationship back together, that it was completely understandable why she'd still question things.

"Yes I do, Bella. I'm not going anywhere, not unless you send me away. And even then I don't know if I could walk away from you again. I'm here for the long haul. I love you and I mean that. I will be here for you and so will your friends. But more importantly than what I or anyone else believes, you need to believe it. Can you do that? And not for me, or anyone else. Can you do that for you, Bella?"

"I want to," she replied with sincerity. "I used to be so confident and so sure of who I was and what I wanted. I want to be that person again."

"Then that's half the battle, baby." I leaned down and kissed her lips softly. "You can do this. You can shake this monkey that your parents have dumped on your back and move past it. You've got me, my parents and all your friends around you to help you through it. We all love you and are going to be there for you. Okay?"


I pulled her to me and held her tightly, wrapped in my arms, hoping it allowed her to feel the strength of my love for her and feel secure. After a few moments I kissed the top of her head and asked, "You ready to head on over to the library now?"

"Yeah, but I have a question for you first." I felt her tug on my hand, stopping me from moving away from her.

"You can ask me anything, Bright Eyes."

"Did your mom tell you about my dream?"

"Yes and no."

"What do you mean?"

I sighed and told her, "I was going to wait and talk to you about this later, but I guess we can just do it now. But not here in the bathroom. Come on." I gripped her hand tighter and led her to my room.

Once there we sat down on my bed facing each other. I grasped both her hands in mine as she searched my face for answers with her big brown eyes. Not wanting to worry her, I dove right in, "On my way up the stairs after I went to the store for my mom, I heard you crying. It equally surprised and worried me and before I realized what I was doing, I was standing there listening to the conversation you were having with my mom."

"Worried? You were worried but yet you stood there listening? I'm not sure I understand why, Edward."

"Yes. But I wasn't just worried for the obvious reason, which would be, why is my girlfriend crying," I explained.

"Then why?" The puzzled look on her face told me I was only confusing her more so I needed to just say what I had to say and get it over with.

"For a second…a very brief moment, I thought maybe you had changed your mind about us. That you were regretting giving us a second go at things."

I watched as her facial expression changed while she mulled over my admission. Her features changed from the look of curiosity she had worn as she listened to what I'd said, to one with her eyebrows scrunched together tightly in thought, to a soft smile as she shook her head back and forth a little and then gazed up at me.

"What?" I asked not sure what to make of her reaction. "You have to tell me what's going on in that head of yours because I can't read you at all right now," I requested. "Your reaction isn't anything at all how I imagined it might be."

"Just what were you expecting? Did you think I'd run off screaming at you for eavesdropping on my conversation with your mother?" She had a slight hint of sarcasm in her voice and in the look on her face too. I could only hope that this was the vibrant, snarky girl I'd met on the plane back in June coming out to play, and that she wasn't really pissed at me.

Though she'd kinda have every right to be since I did listen when I technically shouldn't have.

"Um, maybe something like that. To be honest I wasn't really sure. I just hoped that you'd give me the chance to explain and then understand why I did. I can usually get a better read on what you're thinking and right now…well I've got nothing."

"Is it usually that easy?"


"To read my emotions."

"A lot of the time yeah."

"Hmm, I didn't think I was that transparent."

"Well actually you're not. But I spent a lot of time watching you back on the island trying to figure you out. Even before we acknowledged our feelings, it was next to impossible for me to keep my eyes off of you. Your eyes are very telling, Miss Swan. You know, windows to the soul and all that."

"Huh," she said with a shrug of her shoulders. "I guess maybe we just might be quite the pair, Mr. Cullen."

"I tend to think we are, but what is it that has you saying that right now?" I was completely intrigued by what she might be thinking. One thing I had definitely learned about Bella in the short time I'd known her was that she could be utterly and completely unpredictable. It was one of the things I loved about her too. She wasn't like anyone I had ever known.

"You said you heard what your mom and I were talking about right?"


"So then you know I had a not so nice dream about my mother while I was sleeping."

I nodded.

"Well one of the things she said to me in my dream was that I wasn't good enough for you and that your family would never accept me as being good enough for you. So I guess we both have similar doubts and fears since you were worried I had changed my mind."

She pulled her bottom lip in her mouth and chewed on it nervously, then looked down and toyed with the hem of her shirt.

This time I knew exactly what she was thinking. She was allowing herself to wallow in her mother's words and I had to put a stop to it now. "Bella, look at me please," I ordered softly. She hesitated for a second but then did as I'd asked. "I can understand how upsetting your dream must have been. But I can guarantee you with one hundred percent accuracy that your mother's words are nothing, and mean nothing. They are so far from the truth, it's…it's insane.

"Bella, my parents love and adore you. And you already know how Rose and Jasper feel, they care about you too, not that it matters to me how any of them feel. I love you and that's all that matters—that's what's important. Sure I'd be upset if my parents didn't care for you the way they do, but it doesn't matter because they do care for you. And I am sure that once my aunt, uncle and grandmother meet you, they will love you too. Heck my uncle thinks it's a hoot about us. He thinks its total irony that a Cullen male has fallen for the opposing team's daughter and he has sincere respect for you for standing up to your parents and not cowering to their demands. He says that, that right there makes you worth being with and he can't wait to meet you. So you see, Bright Eyes, you have absolutely nothing to worry about where my family is concerned. I want you to put those fears aside and not let them get to you. There's no need for that. Can you do that for me, Bright Eyes?" I asked reaching up and caressing her cheek.

She closed her eyes and leaned into my touch. "I promise to try. But you have to too," she insisted as she opened her eyes and locked them on mine. "You can't go around worrying that I'm going to change my mind about you if you don't want me to doubt whether or not I'm good enough for you."

"You're right. And time will help us with that, Bella. We are only just beginning to put things back together for us. As time goes on, I believe we will lose any doubts that either of us have. We will gain trust, comfort, and security in our relationship," I told her.

"I guess until then we will just have to remind each other of why we're together in the first place."

"And why is that?" I asked, teasing her.

"Because I love you."

"And I love you too." I leaned closer to her and caught her lips with mine in a kiss to back up my words.

When we finally broke apart, I asked her if she was then ready to head to the library. She nodded she was and I took her hand in mine and we headed out to say goodbye to my mom before we left.

I had a feeling that this wouldn't be the last time her mother's words would haunt her, but I knew for certain that I'd be there to squash them down every time and remind Bella of just how much I loved her. But for now she seemed content with our pact to help remind each other when either of us had doubts. I made a promise to myself right then and there to never let her down again and I intended to keep it.

Hi everyone. I know my updates have been slow with this story. In fact I've never taken this long inbetween chapters ever before when posting a story. I know it can be frustrating, but I have had some huge changes to my life over the last several months. I've gotten divorced, dealt with a crazy ex and had to find a new home for my daughter and myself. We are finally moving into our new home over the next several days and I am confident that once that takes place I will have lot less stress in my life and be able to write more often which will allow me to post more often. Again I apologize, as a reader of fanfiction myself, I do know how frustrating it can be when you are waiting for that next chapter to post.

Thanks so much for being the wonderful understanding readers you are and for sticking with me. I hope you enjoyed the chapter.

Thanks for reading. Can't wait to hear what ya thought.

See ya next time.