Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of Stephenie Meyer. This is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of Twilight. No copyright infringement is intended.

Here it is!

Thanks to A JASPER FOR ME for pre-reading.

Chapter 11

"Going somewhere?"

Bella whirled around to find Renée standing at the top of the stairs wearing jeans and a flannel shirt. She was a bit taken aback by her mother's appearance. She didn't think she had ever seen her in jeans before. She wore very little makeup and her hair hung down to her back in loose curls instead of being perfectly styled. She looked years younger.

"Um … yeah," she said, furrowing her brows. "I have some things to do."

"Work?" Renée slowly descended the stairs. She had an odd look in her eye Isabella couldn't identify.

"Yeah, work," Bella answered, trying her best to keep her voice even. She didn't want to sound guilty. She was also curious about her mother's state of dress but refrained from asking. It was probably due to something stupid.

"Well have a good day then," she said simply after looking Bella over carefully. She seemed to have more to say but was refraining.

"I will," Bella said, turning back around and reaching for the doorknob. She really wanted to get going. The house was starting to feel stifling. She felt like she was slowly losing her mind.

"And tell Mrs. Newton I said hello. It's been ages since I've seen her."

"I will," she repeated before hastily opening the door and slipping outside.

What the hell was that about? Bella hoped her mother hadn't suspected anything and was just being weird as usual. She quickly made her way to her car, throwing her backpack in the back seat before driving away.

When she arrived at the small clearing that led to the path to Edward's home, she sat inside her car debating her next move. She arrived back from her trip to Connecticut two days before and after the dreaded trip, she really wanted her friend back. She wondered how he would react when she arrived. Would he ask her to leave? Would he be mad? She didn't know but she was willing to try. Especially after meeting him at the supermarket.

Taking a deep breath, she grabbed her backpack and slipped out of the car. She slung the bag over her shoulder and quickly headed toward the trees. After the usually lengthy walk, she found herself in front of Edward's cabin.

She knocked on the door and found no response. She wondered if he was even home. She really needed to get his number. The walk to his house was too long to show up at an empty house.

She turned away from the door with a heavy sigh, prepared to go to the library instead since she couldn't go home. She heard a dog bark just as she stepped of the porch. It seemed to be coming from the other side of the cabin. Following the barking, she found Edward and Shadow lounging under the shade of a tree. She couldn't be happier to see them.

As she slowly headed towards them, Shadow began to wag his tail happily. This alerted Edward of someone's arrival and his head turned in her direction.

"Alice?" his voice sounded confused. Her heart fell at the mention of the name. She wanted to know what Alice was to him. She was hoping she was family.

"No, it's just me," she said quietly.

His mouth lifted into a breathtaking smile. Bella noticed his entire face would light up when he smiled. It was a sight to behold and she found herself smiling along with him.

"How was Connecticut?" he asked.

"It could have been worse," she answered as she sank down next to him in the shade. "How was the show?"

"It was good," he shrugged, uprooting a handful of grass.

"I wish I could have come," she sighed. "It would have been a lot better than having to listen to James' pompous ass of a father. I'm so glad it was only two days. One more day and I might have started beating him with my shoe."

"There's always next show," he smiled. "I take it you didn't enjoy Yale too much then."

"I might have enjoyed it more if my parents and James' parents weren't there. The campus was very beautiful and there were lots of bearable people. I just don't see myself there."

"Where do you see yourself then?" He sounded genuinely curious. It felt nice to have someone ask her what she wanted.

"I loved Yale's campus, it was very beautiful but I don't feel like I should go there. I don't know if I just feel that way because of my dad's persistence and I'm trying to be rebellious and hardheaded. I just see myself at a very small school. Maybe somewhere in the middle of nowhere," she laughed.

"Then why not go somewhere like that?"

"My father would never allow it," she grumbled in frustration. "It's so frustrating. I think I'm starting to hate the man. He doesn't listen to me. He doesn't listen to anybody. He just expects people to bend to his will. I don't think I can take it anymore. I can't wait to get out of his house. College will be my escape."

They were quiet for a few minutes as her words sank in. She grabbed her backpack and pulled out her textbook to do some of her assigned reading. "It's nice out today," she observed. "We better enjoy this weather while it lasts. Soon we won't be able to sit out here without freezing our asses off."

"Yeah," he sighed, leaning back against the tree. "I'm surprised it's not raining. This is rare weather for this place."

"It is. It seems like it rains more here than back in Seattle," Bella sighed longingly. She missed some things about the city. "When is your next show?"

"I don't know," he sighed. "I don't do them often. I'm just getting back into the swing of things. Performing is still a bit hard for me. Especially on the piano."

"Well whenever you're playing again, let me know. I want to come. I really enjoyed it last time."

Something occurred to her then. "Remember James, my date from Port Angeles? The one that went to Connecticut with my family?"

"I didn't meet him," his voice sounded a bit off and his body was rigid. "Why?"

"I think he has a boyfriend."

"You mean he's …" he trailed off.

"Yeah, and I agreed to pretend to be his girlfriend to get our parents off our backs. His parents are probably worse than mine." She recounted the conversation she had with James and their agreement.

Edward was quiet for a while after she finished talking. "While I'm sure you both have good intentions, I don't think it's a good idea. An arrangement like that can't possibly end well."

"I know, I know," she said. "It's stupid and childish and cowardly, but you don't know my dad and his is probably worse. I figured we could help each other out."

"I don't know your dads but I've known people like them. It's best to just communicate what you want. You don't want this to backfire. Why are you even helping him? I thought you hated the guy."

"I do," she insisted. James was a pompous asshole but she understood how he felt.

"Well, if he's too afraid to come out, that's his problem. Don't let him use you."

"I'm using him too," she reminded him. "And why do you even care?"

"You're my girlfriend remember?" he smirked teasingly.

"What happened to that being childish?" she asked.

"Quiet," he growled playfully. "Don't question me."

"You're so weird," she laughed.

"Thanks," he said, stretching his arms above his head. "My leg is starting to get a little stiff." He reached forward and rubbed his right leg and his face contorted in discomfort.

"Are you okay?" she asked worriedly. He looked like he was in serious pain.

"I'm fine," he said huskily as he got up. "Want to take a walk with me? I need to stretch my legs."

"Okay." Bella shut her book, throwing it next to her and getting up. She couldn't concentrate on reading anyway. He stiffly shuffled away towards the river and she followed after him. "Is something wrong with your leg?"

"Yep," he grunted, but gave no further explanation. She decided to not press the case. She didn't want to enter uncomfortable territory.

They walked slowly along the edge of the river, enjoying the rare beauty of the day. Bella couldn't stop looking at him. Everything he did seemed to give her a fluttering feeling in her stomach. As they walked, she took the time to carefully observe his features. She realized she never really looked at him. He had the most beautiful green eyes and his pouty lips were pursed together, indicating he was in deep thought.

She noticed a faint scar across his cheek and wondered if it was related to the state he was currently in. She never noticed it before.

"Why do you keep coming back?" he asked suddenly.

She thought about that for a moment. Why did she come back? "I don't know."

"I didn't think you would come back," he murmured. "I told you not to."

"Neither did I," she said. "What was it that bothered you so much you asked me to leave? Did I say something?"

"It was … it's complicated," he answered. "It wasn't really your fault. It was my fault and I really don't want to get into that right now. Maybe someday I will tell you."

"Okay," she said. "Someday." That was good enough for her. They slipped into comfortable silence as they continued with their stroll.

"Your father reminds me of my father," he said, breaking the silence. "He wanted to control every part of my life too. He was a well-respected doctor in Chicago; that's where I'm from."

She gave him a strange look. This was the first time he ever told her anything personal.

"When I was growing up, he would always tell me I would follow in his footsteps and become a doctor like him. I was supposed to continue the legacy. His father was a doctor and his father before that. I got into a great college as a pre-med student and after my freshman year, I realized how much I hated it. The passion just wasn't there. I always had a love for music and art growing up and I considered doing something like that instead. When I told my father about my plans, he was livid. He threatened to cut me off. He even blamed it on my girlfriend at the time. He was so disappointed in me and I didn't want to disappoint him at all so I stuck with it. I got good grades, I graduated with honors, did well on my MCAT's and I got into medical school."

Edward brought his hand up to his face. "I never made it though."

Bella didn't have to ask why. She knew it had to do with his blindness. She wanted to reach over and take his hand in hers or hug him but she refrained.

Edward took a calming breath and squeezed his eyes shut. "I still regret not doing what I wanted. If I did she wouldn't have …" he trailed off. "Do what you want to do, Bella. It's your future, not his."

She slowly reached over and took his hand in hers. He immediately stiffened and stopped walking. They've never really touched before.

"I'm sorry," she said quickly, trying to let go but he kept a firm grasp on her hand.

"No," he whispered. "Don't apologize."

For the person that asked, Bella is eighteen and Edward is twenty-five. (AN A/7/13 -Sorry that was a miscalculation on my part. He's 27)

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