Bella couldn't pinpoint what wasn't right, but she knew that something wasn't. And it worried her. Edward was in his studio all the time, every night, normally a good thing, but she was beginning to miss him, every night.
She felt selfish for it; after all, he was doing his work, following his passion. And it was not as if they never saw each other. He took her out for dinner, and they went to the British Museum and met with Rosalie and Emmett one afternoon.
Rosalie was pleasant and charming, but Bella noticed some kind of tension between her and Edward. When she later remarked on it, Edward played it down, claiming that Rosalie was probably stressed out from her job.
Bella was worried, and she was weary, constantly on edge, waiting for – for what? It was as if a thunderstorm had been predicted, and everyone was anxiously expecting the first raindrops.
Nervousness had always made her lose her appetite, and it wasn't two weeks until she'd lost six pounds.
"You're getting thin," Leah remarked.
They were sitting on a stretch of sand by the south bank of the Thames, watching people make sand sculptures. The afternoon sun was low, warming their backs.
"I'm not," Bella replied. Looking at her best friend's stern expression, she frowned. "It's nothing," she added.
Leah raised her eyebrows, staring at Bella from dark, almost black eyes.
"Yeah." Bella shrugged.
"What about that dog you and Edward wanted to get?"
"We postponed it 'til after the trip to Wales. I mean, we're leaving in a week, and we wouldn't want to confuse it with such a fast change of location."
"Hmm, you're probably right."
Leah slipped out of her flip-flops and painted a circle into the sand with her big toe.
"So, your school's over, right?"
"Yes. I'm going to work for Jasper on Thursday and Friday, but after that, I'm free! I can't wait to get to the sea."
"Mmm, I envy you," Leah said.
Bella leant into her friend's arm and kissed her cheek.
"Maybe we could go to Brighton when I'm back, what do you think? Just you and me, no boys allowed? We could stay at a b&b for a couple of nights…"
Leah's expression lit up.
"That would be nice," she smiled.
"Maybe we could even take my nosy little sister," Bella mused. "If we can distract her from redecorating my old flat, that is…"
"I'm going to look something up," Leah said, still smiling. She kissed Bella's cheek.
"It mustn't be too expensive though," her friend said. "I'm going to have to save up some money for the new dog!"
Leah lifted one eyebrow.
"Bella, isn't Edward quite wealthy? Like, insanely so?"
"Maybe," Bella insisted. "But if it's going to be our dog, I'm going to take over half the responsibility, you know."
Leah knew how stubborn her friend was, and just nodded her head.
When Bella returned home two hours later – after Leah had practically made her eat a bowl of soup – Edward was shacked up in his studio, and Bella spent another evening on her own.
It was high time they got away from the city.
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PS: I know some of you are wondering, and I can finally tell you that there will be 23 more chapters.