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 guys!

There are lots of things happening here.

This is the longest chapter I've written for this story.

Chapter 18

Renée was sitting in the living room when Bella got home that night. Bella checked her watch and silently hoped Renée wasn't waiting to talk about the lateness of her arrival.

"Sweetheart, I need to talk to you about something."

"What is it, Mom?" she asked, plopping down next to her mother on the couch. Renée seemed nervous as she fidgeted and wrung her hands together.

"Do you like it here?" She took one of Bella's hands in hers and gave it a gentle squeeze.

"Yeah," Bella said with a shrug. "I don't mind it here."

"Good." Renée looked up as if she was searching in the walls for the words that needed to be said. She seemed to be deep in thought. "Have you spoken with Charles since you have been here at all?"

"No. I haven't." She wondered where Renée was going with that line of questioning. She wanted to take her hand back.

"Me neither," she said. "We're not exactly on speaking terms but I think the two of you could be. Wouldn't you like to be at a point where you can just spend a week over there and a weekend here or a week here and a weekend over there?"

She wore a bright grin and looked imploringly into Bella's eyes waiting for a reaction. When she did not get one, a frown crossed her face.

"Don't get me wrong," Renée said defensively, letting go of Bella's hand and raising both of hers. "Phillip and I love having you here, sweetheart; but I don't think you should hold a grudge against your father. He loves you and you should forgive him. I know what went on between us had a huge effect on you and I hate myself for that. I just want the two of you to make up."

"I understand where you're coming from," Bella said. "I don't hate Dad. We just had our disagreements. A lot of them."

"Well, I think it's time you let it go. Both of you." She crossed her legs and placed her clasped hands in her lap. "Don't worry. I've come up with the perfect idea."

Bella started to get nervous at the thought of Renée's idea. If she knew anything about her mother, it was that her ideas could get extreme. "What is it?"

"I think you should spend Thanksgiving and the weekend with him while Phillip and I are away in Portland. It would be the perfect opportunity for you to make up. What do you say? Doesn't that sound nice? Wouldn't you love seeing your father again?" She brushed a stray lock of Bella's hair behind her ear. "I bet he misses you. I know Charles. You mean a lot to him and he loves you. He loves having you around and he wants you around. It would be nice if you could … be around. Besides, think of how it would look for Charles to have lost both his daughter and his wife."

Bella was at a loss for words. She didn't know what to say. She opened her mouth to speak but no words came out. She knew what was off with Renée's suggestion, but she couldn't bring herself to think it. She refused to believe her mother would be that desperate and blind.

"You know," Renée continued when Bella didn't respond. "When you were little, you and Charles always used to be in your own little world talking and doing something or the other. I used to feel a little left out but it was nice to see how much you looked up to him. He would always tell you about all the great things he wanted you to be." She gave Bella a sad smile. "It was nice. Don't you miss that at all?"

"I don't really remember it that way," Bella said with a humorless chuckle. "I guess it was different for an onlooker."

"Sweetie, I –"

"Look Mom," Bella finally said. She couldn't take anymore. "I'll go. It's fine. Whatever."

"Good," Renée said happily. She gave Bella a little tap on the knee and promptly stood up. "Well-" she looked at her watch. "Phillip and I have dinner plans tonight. I'm sure you don't mind being alone. You always liked being by yourself. You're like Charles in that way. The two of you are so much alike."

Bella forced out a smile that looked more like a grimace.

"I made you a sandwich," Renée said gesturing towards the kitchen. "You can take it back to your room if you'd like. I'm sure you probably want to get some studying done. You have to keep those grades high."

"Thanks, Mom." Her voice was tight and her eyes prickled as she held back tears of anger.

"You're welcome, sweetheart," she said sweetly. "I have to go get ready. Phillip is keeping our dinner location a secret from me. He said he has a big surprise."

Bella watched as Renée all but skipped down the hall to her bedroom. She seemed to be in such a happy and carefree mood. It was a change from the empty person she had been before.

~VC~

"I hate her," Bella spat bitterly. She really didn't, but saying it seemed to make her feel better somehow.

"Don't say things like that," Edward said, giving he shoulder a squeeze. They were seated on his couch listening to music. Edward's arm was slung over her shoulders and her head rested on his shoulder. His scent was surprisingly calming. It was the smell of the woods, cigarettes and black coffee.

"I do," she argued. "I hate them both so much. Why is she doing this to me?" She lifted her head and looked up at his expression. "I'm not going to his house."

"Bella –" he started.

She knew this meant he was going to try to argue. She pulled away from him and slid forward placing her elbow on her bouncing knee. The anger and bitterness she felt was intoxicating. She could almost taste it in her mouth. "No, don't Bella me. I don't want to spend Thanksgiving and the entire weekend over there. I won't do it. I'm coming over Thursday morning and that's final. The only reason my mom is forcing me to go is because …" she stopped herself before she could say the words out loud. Her heart would literally shatter in half if it were true.

"And what happens when your mother finds out you didn't go?"

"I don't care and she doesn't either. She just felt bad because she's going off with Phillip and leaving me behind so she's trying to push me to fix my relationship with Charles. I'm not going over there. I know I said I forgave him but I guess I didn't." She threw her hand up in the air in exasperation. "I should have told her there was no freaking way I was going anywhere. I can't believe I was such a coward."

"Did you always call your dad by his first name?" he asked in an almost disapproving tone.

Is that all he got out of what I just said, she thought with a roll of her eyes. "I do now." She crossed her arms with a huff and leaned back into the couch.

They sat in comfortable silence for a few minutes before Bella remembered some other news she had to share with Edward. "Ooh," she reached towards the coffee table and dug through her papers. "I finally decided what I want to do for Thursday. I need some input first though."

He nodded and waited for her to continue.

"Do you have any allergies?"

"None that I know of."

"Thank goodness," she said. "Do you like breakfast foods?"

"Uh … sure?"

"Great! What do you want for breakfast? Waffles or pancakes?"

"Waffles."

She placed the notepad back on the coffee table. "I've decided we're having chicken instead of turkey too. Sound good?"

"Sounds great," he grinned wrapping his arms around her as she sat back into them.

"I'm so excited," she said leaning in to place a chaste kiss on his lips.

~VC~

Bella woke to her mother running around like a headless chicken on Wednesday morning. She and Phillip were planning on driving down to Portland. It was a five hour drive and they planned to leave later that morning.

"Sweetheart, are you sure you don't need a ride to your dad's?" Renée asked coming out of her bedroom as Bella passed. Bella looked over her mother who wore a pink robe, fluffy slippers and her hair perfectly styled. "You can pack your bag now and I can take you before I leave."

"Mom, I have school," Bella said trying not to roll her eyes. She crossed her arms and leaned against the opposite wall knowing her mother would have more to say.

"Oh, that's right," Renée said slapping her palm against her forehead. "I completely forgot about that. My mind is all over the place right now. Phillip went out to get a few things and I only have a couple of hours to prepare myself." She took a deep breath and ran a hand through her hair. "I'm meeting his parents, Bella. I haven't had to meet parents since … well, a long time ago."

"Don't worry Mom," Bella said. "Angela is giving me a ride." Renée's car was currently at the mechanic's due to her vey reckless driving. "And I'm sure Phillip's parents will love you. You're a great person."

"Thanks, sweetheart. That means a lot coming from you," Renée said in a loud voice as she went back into her bedroom. "Call me when you get there, okay?"

"Yeah, Mom ." She rolled her eyes this time. Renée probably wouldn't notice if she called or not. Her mind will definitely be too occupied.

"Sweetheart, can you do me a huge favor and make some breakfast for all three of us?" Renée reappeared in the doorway. "Remember those pancakes you used to make? What do you call them again?"

"Ricotta Pancakes."

"That's right," she said snapping her fingers. "Thanks a lot, Bella. Phillip is going to love them."

Bella sighed and made her way toward the kitchen. She had about an hour and a half before she had to be at school so that would give her time to drain the ricotta. She wasn't usually up this early but Renée's noisiness woke her.

Her mother behaved a lot more carefree these days. When she was with her father, she was more refined but it was probably only because that was what was expected of her. Now that she was with Phillip, it seemed like she felt the need to act like she was twenty-one again. The only plus side was that she stayed out of Bella's business a lot more. She had less time to sit around and do nothing all day.

She turned on her iPod and quickly found some of Edward's music he had his friend Jasper record for her. She moved blithely around the kitchen gathering and mixing her ingredients. She thought of Edward as she swayed to the sound of the piano. Time didn't seem to exist.

As she was flipping the last pancake, she heard a kitchen stool move behind her. She spun around to find Phillip staring blankly at her.

"Morning," she said in what she believed was her politest tone. She didn't want to piss him off. Although, he seemed to get that way often without any help from her.

"Morning," he mumbled coolly before fishing out his phone. He seemed annoyed about something but she didn't feel comfortable enough or care enough to ask.

"The pancakes are finished in case you wanted any," she said. Her voice sounded awkward to her ears. "It's one of Renée's favorites."

"Why do you call her that?" he asked looking up from his phone and leaning forward on his elbows.

"What? Renée?" She felt a strong wave of annoyance build up. Who the hell did Phillip think he was?

"It's as if you have no respect," he muttered in a disgusted tone as his upper lip drew up and his nose wrinkled. He mumbled something under his breath she couldn't hear.

She was about to respond to his remark when her mother whirled into the kitchen still wearing her robe. "I smell pancakes," she sang. "Please tell me there's lemon curd."

"Here it is," Bella said unenthusiastically holding out a small bowl to her.

"Thanks, sweetheart." She grabbed the bowl and turned towards Phillip with a bright smile. "Babe, you are going to love this. Bella's pancakes are absolutely heavenly. She has talent in the kitchen. She is great to have around. When you taste this, you're going to wish she cooked for us more."

"We'll see," he said with a tight-lipped smile.

Bella spent the rest of breakfast time feeling extremely angry and uncomfortable and Renée seemed to be none the wiser.

~VC~

Bella arrived at Edward's cabin sometime after eight that evening. She raised her hand and rapped quickly on the door. A few seconds later, the door flung open and revealed a very annoyed looking Edward. His breathing was heavy, and his jaw and fists were clenched. He looked like he was about to explode any second by how red he was in the face.

" Edward," she squeaked.

"Bella? What are you doing here?" Edward asked in his deep husky voice. He seemed to calm down a bit.

She suddenly felt silly standing on his doorstep with her bags in hand. "I … uh … thought we could start our holiday early?" She wanted to kick herself for not waiting 'til morning.

He sighed. "Well come on in then. It's cold out."

She stepped in ahead of him and made her way down the narrow hallway toward the dimly lit living room.

"Did your mom leave early?" He stood at the edge of the hall facing her.

"Yeah, they left this morning," She answered suddenly feeling nervous. "I was going to come here straight after school, but I had some last minute stuff to do at school then I needed to go home and pack a bag and then go to the store and then … yeah."

He chuckled and shook his head. "You sound nervous." He took a step forward.

"Do I?" she gulped.

"You do," he stated. "Why is that?"

"I don't know," she said taking a deep breath. "I guess I'm afraid of looking silly. You must think I'm …"

"Why are you afraid of that?" he asked stroking his beard thoughtfully. "Are you wearing a clown costume I don't know about?"

"I showed up at your house in the middle of the night, Edward. It must be surprising for you and probably even unwelcome," she said. "Maybe I should go. I can call Angela back."

"Why? You're already here," he said. "What's the point of showing up and then leaving? Now you're being silly. You are welcome here any time. You're my … Bella." He seemed fidgety all of a sudden and Bella didn't miss his hesitation. What was she to him? Just a friend? Something more?

"You're right I should just stop it," she said running a hand through her hair. "I should probably put away the stuff I brought for tomorrow. You have almost everything I need already but I needed a few extra things."

She grabbed the bag with the things she picked up from the store and headed towards the kitchen leaving Edward standing in the living room with a smirk on his face. She made quick work of putting the things away before skipping out of the kitchen to find Edward.

"I only have one bedroom," he said as she emerged from the kitchen. "I guess you can have my bedroom."

"Oh no Edward, I don't want to put you out," she protested.

"I insist." His voice was firm and his tone final. He crossed his arms and leaned against the back of the couch.

"Okay," she said with a timid smile. "I made some hot chocolate. Would you like some?"

"That sounds great," he said with a small smile.

They settled in front of the fireplace with their mugs in hand and Shadow curled up next to them.

"My mom is gone until Sunday night," Bella said, taking a sip of hot chocolate. "Is it okay for me to stay until then?"

"You're not going to your dad's, huh?"

"Nope. I promised you Thanksgiving first and right now I like you a lot more than my dad. You're a lot less stressful."

"You can stay," he smiled. "I will enjoy the company."

"Do you ever get lonely here?" she asked looking around the simple but homey room.

"Sometimes," he said quietly, scratching at his beard. "Especially since I don't speak to my family. I occasionally see Alice and Jasper and sometimes Emmett and the guys, but I don't interact with anybody else." He reached next to him and patted Shadow. "You're lucky I let you in my house," he said with a chuckle. "I kept wondering why you kept coming back every time. I'm not exactly the friendliest person."

"You're right about that," she laughed. "You were so grumpy. You still are but it's less extreme because we've warmed up to each other." She scooted closer as she said this, resting her head on his shoulder.

"Probably," he shrugged lightly. "I just like being on my own I guess."

"It's probably better than being around a bunch of people that don't care. People suck. I would know."

He chuckled and shook his head at her words. "You know, I didn't think you'd really come."

"Why? I said I was going to." She moved forward to her knees as she tried to study his facial expression better.

"You don't seem like the type to be rebellious enough to disobey." His tone was teasing. "But how would I know about what type of person you are. You could be a sixty-year-old serial killer for all I know."

"Believe me, I'm not." She leaned a little closer. "Besides, I think your friends would have told you."

"I don't know," he said with a smirk. "They could have been trying to be polite. They have my feelings to consider you know."

"I'm starting to get offended by how convinced you are that I'm an old lady," she said crossing her arms. "You really need to learn a thing or two about how to talk to women."

"Don't worry. I know enough." They were both quit for a moment and all they could hear was the burning embers and each other's breathing.

"This seems like something we should be doing around Christmastime," she said gesturing to her mug. "We used to do this at home when I was younger."

"What?" he asked sounding confused.

"Drinking hot chocolate around a fire."

"We can do this anytime we want," he scoffed playfully. "I thought we were starting new traditions. Besides, it's fucking cold outside."

"It is." Walking to his house felt like torture to her since she didn't wear a proper coat. She wrapped her arms around her middle and stared up at his face. She felt like she could stare at him all day. He was just so interesting to look at and she could stare as much as she liked without feeling the need to look away out of awkwardness or politeness.

"You ready for bed?" he asked suddenly.

"Yeah, I guess so but … I feel really bad for making you give up your bed. I can take the couch instead." She looked towards the couch and it didn't seem very comfortable for sleeping.

"It's fine Bella," he said reaching out next to him to find the coffee table with the tips of his fingers. When his fingers finally connected with it, he placed his palm at the top and picked up his cup with his other hand, gently bringing it towards the table.

"Well, how about we share then?" she suggested.

"Share?" he asked furrowing his brow. "A bed? Together?"

"Yeah, why not?" she asked with a light shrug of her shoulders. "I trust you. Don't you trust me?"

"That's why you're here isn't it?" he asked with a shocked expression.

"What?" She suddenly felt embarrassed and was prepared to start apologizing when he interrupted.

"You're trying to kill me," he smirked. "Fatten me up and then off me. Everyday I'm getting more and more convinced you're a serial murderer."

"Oh be quiet," she said lightly swatting his chest. "Come on let's go to bed." She felt her stomach flutter as she spoke the words.

What did you think of Renée trying to mend things between Bella and her dad?

Thanks for reading!

Next Chapter is Thanksgiving Day. I wonder what these two will be up too.

Review please!