Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight.

Warning: This is not beta'd, all mistakes are my own because I'm too lazy to check over everything and spell check only does so much.


Just before the bell rang and just as I resigned myself to my fate of going over to Emmett's house for tutoring; the teachers' phone rang. The conversation lasted only last maybe a minute, but from what little I could hear; I knew it was a message for me.

"Your dad is here to pick you up Bella; he's at the front office." The teacher told me as she put the phone down.

The bell rang barely a second later and I felt a huge relief. Now I don't have to go over to the Cullen's house and risk getting in trouble with Charlie.

"Okay." I told the teacher then put my attention on a pouting Emmett. "I guess I can't go over today." I said with fake sadness.

"Well, maybe you can come over later? You know, after you do whatever it is that your dad needs you for." Emmett suggested as I finished packing up my stuff; if I make Charlie wait too long he'll get mad.

"I don't think I'll be able to Emmett. Whenever Charlie picks me up it's usually because we have plans for the whole afternoon and evening." I said as I started to walk away with Emmett right behind me.

He only ever picks me up when he has plans to have his friends over and need to get the place cleaned and cook enough food for all of them. There has to be some sort of sports game on this evening. I just hope they don't trash the place like they did last time. It took me all night to get everything cleaned up after Charlie and his friends. I don't want to have to pull an all-nighter on a school night again.

I can't risk Charlie getting a call from the school saying that I fell asleep during class. It's happened once before and Charlie got so mad. I don't want to go through that again. After Charlie was done 'reminding me' to not fall asleep during school, I had no choice but to stay home from school or risk having people ask questions that Charlie doesn't want them to. It actually worked out for Charlie that time because then he got to play the perfect parent. From the school's point of view I stayed home the next couple days to get caught up on some lack of sleep. Staying home for the couple days in combination with the extended weekend from some random holiday allowed all my bruises on my face to heal.

"Aw, I was looking forward to hanging out with you." Emmett said with a pout as we walked through the halls towards the front office.

I shot him a side-ways glance towards him in confusion.

"Hang out? I thought we were going to study?" I asked.

"Um, well yeah; that's what I meant. But of course if we happened to have fun and stuff while studying or even just finish studying early and just like watched T.V. or played video games or something; that would have been cool." Emmett said a little sheepishly.

Instead of commenting about what he said; I chose to ignore it and try to just get him to leave me alone before we get to the office. Charlie doesn't like to see me hanging around other people, so if Charlie sees me with Emmett, then I can get in trouble. Plus, Emmett saying, in a round-about way, that he wants to hang out with me is just not believable. No one wants to hang out with me.

"Well, I'll see you tomorrow Emmett, I'm sure you've got to go tell your sister that our study session is off." I said.

"Oh, yeah, I guess I do. So, I'll see you tomorrow then?" Emmett asked as soon as I saw the front office; thankfully there aren't any windows that would allow Charlie to see me with Emmett.

"Well, we do have the same class; so we will." I said, not bothering to register or even really understand the look that crossed his face that briefly resembled hurt.

Fortunately, Emmett took the hint and instead of following me into the office went off in another direction. At least this is one less thing I have to worry about Charlie being mad at me for; it's not my fault Emmett keeps trying to be my friend.

I found Charlie talking with the frost desk receptionist Mrs. Cope. They seemed to be having a fun conversation and I hate to interrupt it, especially since Charlie doesn't like it when I interrupt him, but I have to. I have to let him know I'm here and let him know that he doesn't have to wait for me anymore.

"I'm here." I said as I walked up, careful not to call him Dad or Charlie.

He doesn't like me calling him Dad except when I have to in front of others, but it just feels awkward to me. I once called him Charlie in front of others and he got very mad about it once we were alone.

"Oh! That was fast." Mrs. Cope said, sounding surprised.

Her comment actually made me smile. I thought it actually took me a little longer than normal to get here because of Emmett. But with Mrs. Cope's comment, hopefully Charlie won't think that. Plus, Charlie normally gets me in the middle of class when all my stuff is unpacked for class. This time it was the end, so I was practically already packed and ready to go anyways.

Playing the perfect parent, Charlie turned his attention from Mrs. Cope to me. He gave me a smile that, to me at least, screamed fake.

"Hey Bells, I thought I would surprise and take you out early to relax." Charlie said with his smile.

From the look on Mrs. Cope's face, she clearly thought what Charlie is doing is very thoughtful. I however, wish he wouldn't do this.

"Thanks." I said with what I hoped passed as happiness.

"It was a pleasure talking to you Mrs. Cope; it's always a good feeling to know that someone is keeping an eye on my little girl here." Charlie said as he started to walk away.

"Have a good afternoon you two." Mrs. Cope said after us, to which I replied with a meek 'you also'.

Once the doors closed behind us, Charlie's pace picked up; apparently he wants to get home quickly. The front office is right next to the student parking lot. But since Charlie parked up front, I didn't have to walk by all the students with Charlie to get to his police cruiser. What I wasn't expecting, is the Cullen's parked right up front (with really nice looking cars I might add), right in view of me and Charlie. I honestly expected Emmett to wave to me or something; he just seems like that kind of person. Instead though, they all just stared at us. The one with messy bed head, I had learned his name is Edward, glared at Charlie, while the others looked at me with expressions I can't read.

Once we got to the cruiser, I put my backpack on the floor of the passenger seat and quickly buckled myself in; I don't want to make Charlie wait for me. As soon as Charlie closed his door, he pulled away from the curb and headed home. Charlie didn't bother putting his seat belt on; he feels that since he's the Police Chief that only drives his cruiser, he doesn't have to worry about getting pulled over, getting a ticket or even getting in an accident.

"I'm having some guys from work over to watch a game. I expect the house to be perfect and pizza and drinks to be ready. I already got the beer." Charlie said.

I thought that's what would be happening. So Charlie will just drop me off at home to start cleaning then he'll go back to work to finish off his day probably doing some paperwork. After I clean, or maybe once I get the majority/downstairs done, I'll go to the store and get the drinks and some chips and stuff. Then when I get home I'll clean some more, order some pizza for the guys. I'll set all the chips out, while eating some of course because I'm starving, and put all the drinks on ice. Once that's done, I'll lock myself in my room for the rest of the night.

The rest of the ride was silent until we reached our house. With a mumbled 'here', Charlie tossed me some cash for the food. I grabbed the cash, my backpack and left the car quickly to go start cleaning. I'll just have to do what homework I have tomorrow before school, during lunch and any free time I manage to find.

Once I finished the downstairs and the bathroom (we only have one upstairs), it was time for me to go the grocery store to keep on schedule for later this evening when everyone came over. This time for the trip, I emptied my backpack so that I can take it with me. It's easier to carry the drinks and food home if I can put the heavier stuff in my backpack; it also actually lets me be able to carry it all home.

Sine I'm on a time limit, I wasted no time in walking quickly to the store and walking inside it. Since this is a small town, the cashier knows that I sometimes bring my backpack with me to take home groceries, with the explanation that I like the walk of course, so I just put my backpack next them and started my shopping.

It wasn't until I was I blindly walking down the chip isle, looking for Charlie's favorite chips when I was pulled out of my world by bumping into someone hard and cold and falling on my butt. The basket I was carrying that held the soda and other things I'm getting fell a lot more gracefully to the floor next to me. I couldn't help but send a little glare at it since not a single thing fell out of it.

"I'm sorry dear, I didn't see you there." A familiar voice said.

Looking up from the basket, I found myself looking into a pair of golden eyes. I seem to be developing a habit of literally running into her.

"I'm sorry; I wasn't paying attention where I was going… again. Mrs. Cullen right?" I asked as I started to stand.

"It's just Esme dear and it's alright. You're not hurt right?" Esme asked as she actually started to help me.

I'm so not used to getting help when I fall that I almost lost my balance again. I'm used to people just laughing if I fall or just moving around me. I don't ever remember anyone helping me up, it's kind of nice.

"Yeah, I'm fine. I didn't hurt you did I?" I asked; I was the one that ran into her after all… even though I'm the one that ended up on the floor.

"I'm fine, thank you for asking." Esme said once I was standing.

When she didn't take her hand away from my arm after helping me, I awkwardly moved backwards a little to get out of her grip. I thought I saw a brief flare of hurt cross her face, but I have to be wrong. First I think I upset Emmett and now Esme? I really hope I'm just seeing things, because I'm really not doing anything to hurt them; not anything that I would think would hurt them at least.

"Were you looking for something; maybe I can help you?" Esme asked me before I could try and escape what I feel is an awkward situation with a stranger.

Luckily before things get any more awkward, I found the chips I was looking for just out of the corner of my eye. I grabbed them, picked up my insanely heavy basket and gave Esme a polite smile.

"I'm good, this was the last thing I was looking for, thanks though." I said, thankful that I now have an escape route.

"Well that's good. Let's go get checked out then, I happen to be done shopping as well." Esme said with a smile, making mine turn to a slight frown.

Just behind Esme I see she has a grocery cart with just a couple items in it. Can she really be done shopping? If so, why would she get a car to hold all of three things?

"Um, sure." I said hesitantly; I guess I'm not getting away from her just yet.

I turned and started to make my way to the front to check out and Esme followed right behind me.

"Having a party?" Esme asked.

"I guess." I answered after a little moment of hesitation of thinking of what to say.

I don't want to lie to her, but I don't want Charlie to look bad either. So, giving an answer that doesn't really answer her question seems like the best option. Thinking of the right answer also made sure that we got to the cashier, so our conversation ended.

Once I paid and the cashier started on Esme's purchases, I started packing my backpack. I'll have to walk quickly because of this little delay. I have everything timed to the minute and me running into to Esme was not planned for.

"Are you walking home with all that?" Esme asked as I started walking out.

A quick glance told me that Esme is leaving also; her check out ended just as I finished packing. Can't I get a break? All I want is to be left alone and get home to get everything ready so that Charlie won't get mad at me. That's not asking much.

"Yeah, I can't drive." I said, not slowing down at all or even looking at her. I don't want to seem rude, but I am in a hurry.

"Let me give you a ride then dear, I would hate to see you carry all those things home when I'm perfectly capable of giving you a ride." Esme said.

I opened my mouth to decline, like I should. But with the time restraint I have right now, getting a ride home would actually put me back on schedule. It's almost as if this was planned out because it works so well.

If I accept and Charlie finds out, then he'll be mad; he'll be really mad. But, he'll also be mad if I'm late with getting everything ready for his party and he gets embarrassed in front of his friends.

"If you really don't mind, I would like that." I said, finally deciding on what I hope will be the lesser of two evils.

It's not guaranteed that Charlie will find out Esme gave me a ride, it's just a risk. It is guaranteed though, if I don't have everything ready for the party. I just have to cross my fingers and hope for the best.

Normally I wouldn't just accept a ride from a random stranger, but something about Esme makes me trust her; even though I really don't want to. I can't see her ever doing any harm to anyone. I don't know why I think that when I've barely had an actual conversation with her, but I do.

"For you dear, I would never mind. I'm parked right here." Esme said as she started to lead me to her car. Making me jump and tense, Esme put her hand on the small of my back to help lead me to her car. I really don't like people touching me; it usually always just leads to pain, so I quickly got out of reach of her hand.

It's the same nice looking car I saw the other day. Well, I heard Dr. Cullen, her husband, is a doctor so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that they have nice vehicles. I did see her kids' cars today also when I left, they looked very nice also; so of course Esme would drive a nice car.

Esme put her bag in the backseat of the car and I put my stuff of the passenger floor. I buckled up, as is the safe thing to do and waited for Esme. Unlike Charlie, Esme buckled up before even starting the car.

The whole car ride was silent except for me giving directions to my house. When we got there, I quickly opened the door while grabbing my things and said thank you to Esme. Naturally, since I haven't tripped that much today it seems, I literally fell out of the car. Thankfully I didn't fall on my face and I was actually able to catch myself. I closed the door, after assuring Esme that I'm fine and made my way to start cleaning the house.


I got everything done in time. I was even able to steal some chips while I set up so I'm not that hungry anymore… well, at least compared to how hungry I normally am. When Charlie and his friends got here, I made sure to stay in my room. I was actually able to get most of my homework done before I started getting too tired to stay awake. The only thing left is stuff I can do during lunch, so no big deal.

Just as I started to drift off, I heard Charlie start to thump his way upstairs. I guess the game is over; it didn't last as long as I thought it would have. Charlie's bedroom is at the very beginning of the hall, so when I didn't hear his door and his footsteps get closer to me, I decided that maybe he decided to take a shower at night instead of going straight to bed.

But he never does that.

I felt fear sink into me instantly. I sat straight up in what I call my bed, though is actually just a bunch of Charlie's old blankets that he decided he didn't like anymore and gave to me. With wide eyes I kept my eyes on my door. It could be that he just has to use the bathroom; that's a very big possibility.

My door flew open so harshly that I thought it might have put a hole in the wall. It took all sorts of will power that I didn't know I had to not scream. The look on Charlie's face is one pure rage; I've seen this face before and I don't like it.

I try my best to cower into the corner where my mock bed is.

"Did you think I wouldn't find out?" Charlie yelled as he stalked towards me.

I barely noticed my head shaking 'no' because of all the fear I'm feeling; it's almost like an unconscious action. It's I know the answer that Charlie wants so I automatically give it. I know better than to answer verbally. I pull my legs up to my chest and hug them to me; almost as if, if I make myself smaller; what's about to happen won't hurt as much.

"What have I told you about talking with strangers? Not only did you talk to one, but you also let them give you a ride? What if they saw something? Do you want to leave me? You know you can't survive out there on your own; you ungrateful bitch!" Charlie yelled as he got even closer to me.

My eyes went wider with realization. Charlie somehow found out about Esme giving me a ride home. I didn't even see a patrol car on the way home; at least I don't think did. How did he find out?

The last thing I remember before my mind went into auto-pilot was a giant fist swinging my way.