Rating: T

Word Count: 9,244

Pairings: Bella and Edward (Cannon)

Music prompt: Sugarland, Want to

Picture Prompt: 24, Farm in the review mirror

Summary: Can city-girl, Bella Swan, and cowboy, Edward Cullen, ever met in the middle and agree on anything related to Dwyer Lake Ranch? Or will it blow up in their faces, before it even has a chance to grow? What will it take for these two individuals to make dreams come true?

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended and this was just for fun...

Home, not Home, Home

Through the side mirror of her car, Bella watched as the main house of the ranch slowly shrank and faded into nothing behind the low cloud of dust. Part of her hoped that he would notice her leaving and come running after her, but just as she had figured, he didn't.

She steered the car to the right, catching the black line of asphalt, headed towards town. It was the quickest route to get away from him and disappear. As she approached the final lengths of fencing separating her from her life at the ranch and her voyage ahead, Bella was surprised to see her horse, Charlie, waiting for her.

He was bouncing wildly, up and down, rearing back on his hind legs and shaking his mane, as if begging her to stop, but she didn't. She couldn't stop. She didn't know if she would still have the strength to leave if she did. The pain in her chest increased as she watched the stallion's display of aggression. She had to look away. Fleetingly, she wondered if all the commotion Charlie was raising alerted Edward to the fact that she had left without saying goodbye.

"Get out of that stall, woman. Are you crazy?" Edward yelled at her. She and Edward hadn't yet gotten passed their initial meeting. It seemed like everything she did was wrong, not that she cared, in his eyes. In his eyes she was just some city girl her uncle had taken pity on during the last days of his life.

"What?" she asked, confused about what she had done wrong this time, not that she cared. He was so frustrating.

"That crazy ass horse doesn't let anyone get close to him. He never has and never will. Why Phil just didn't put a bullet in his head the day he was born is beyond me."

What Edward had failed to realize at the time was Charlie had been calm before he had shown up, but now that Edward was yelling at her, yet again, Charlie had started flipping his ears in all directions, showing his teeth, biting at the air, and rearing up on his hind legs.

As Bella looked between the man standing on the outside of the fence and the horse next to her that had gone from calm to fight mode, she couldn't put the pieces together. There was no crazy horse; it was just Charlie.

Her eyes grew wide as fear gripped her, rooting her where she stood, as she watched Charlie rear up next to her. Instead of running like someone with common sense would have, she raised her arms to protect her head, preparing for the impact she was sure to come. But when the impact came it wasn't the forceful blows upon her head as she had anticipated.

Everything happened in a blur. First was a collision from the side and then impact with the hard ground steeling her breath away. She could hear Charlie's neighs, his screams of distress, and the pounding of his hooves as he beat the ground, stirring up dust. Then there was the pulling on her body as she was bounced and slammed against the hard ground and Edward's body as he rolled them to safety, out of the stall, and away from Charlie.

Bella looked into the hardened green depths of Edward's eyes, as he stared back into hers. His face may have been impossible to read, but the anger he spoke with wasn't. He was angry at her, again.

"Don't move. I think you hit your head?"

Bella swallowed hard, trying to determine whether or not she had actually hit her head, when a small drop of blood dripped from Edward's hair and landed on her forehead.

"I'm not the one that's hurt, Edward," she spoke in fear. "You're bleeding."

Instantly, the weight that had pinned her to the ground was gone, as Edward jumped and stood.

"I'm fine!" Edward yelled as he walked away, cursing and rambling under his breath, "crazy fucking horse..."


Bella stopped the car as she crested the last hill before the interstate. She had to. She couldn't see past the tears. She had to admit that the tears were from sadness, not anger. She had tried, every way she could think of, but nothing worked. In fact, things only seemed to get worse between Edward and her.

Bella walked out of the house with a picnic basket in her hands. Edward hadn't spoken to her since he'd protected her from Charlie. She was trying but he wasn't making it easy. Edward worked hard and Bella knew that, so she made some ice tea and sandwiches as a peace offering.

Renee had always said, "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach" not that she wanted his heart, but she didn't want to fight all the time either.

She approached the barn cautiously, nervous how Edward would react to the meal, thought it wasn't much.

"Edward...Edward, are you up there?"she called out. Edward hadn't spoken directly to her, but mentioned in passing, that the fresh bales of hay needed to be stored before the rain came or they would be ruined.

"Edward, I brought you some lunch," she announced. She could hear him moving around in the rafters above, so she waited for a reply. But after several minutes of not receiving one, she decided that she'd leave the meal on the barrel next to where the tack for the horses was stored.

"Well, I guess I'll just leave it here, next to the tack... and saddles. Whenever you're ready, it'll be here," she said, hesitatingly. She really wished he would acknowledge her presence. He was here for the two years, whether she liked it or not.

Hearing some scuffling and Edward's voice, she looked up hopefully.

"Shit...Bella, watch out," he yelled out angrily, falling to the loft floor as the rope slide from his hand. He watched helplessly as the bale of hay fell towards the floor. There was nothing he could do except let it fall and pray she was out of the way when it hit.

At Edward's words, Bella quickly moved back safely into the tact room, watching the brick of hay fall to the ground, landing and bouncing before it settled. She heard Edward groan in what sounded like pain.

"Edward, are you okay?" she called out, moving quickly towards the stairs. Edward stood at the edge of the loft just as Bella reached the ladder prepared to climb to his aid.

"Get out!" he yelled at her. He was always pushing her away. It hurt her, knowing he was never going to give her a chance, and her fear turned to anger.

"You did that on purpose, didn't you?" she yelled back at him, looking where he stood. He pulled on his hair in frustration.

"Ugh..." he ground out. The woman below was going to drive him to an early grave. She wouldn't stay away and she was nothing but a distraction.

Tears welled in her eyes. Angry tears.

"Fuck you, Edward Cullen. You're nothing more than an overgrown bully," she retorted and instantly fled the building. Edward Cullen would never see her cry—and her mom was wrong.

As she ran from the building in a blinding rage, movement caught her attention. Tied to the fence post was Edward's horse Aro. Bella ran up to him, released the reins, and pulled the white dabbled mustang away from where he was tethered.

The only thing running through Bella's head was that she had to get away. She had to find some place to think, and she couldn't do it there with Edward around.

She wasn't the best rider, but she could get herself into a saddle, and once she was there, she and Aro tore off across the opened pasture, towards the mountains.

Back at the barn, Edward was trying his best to calm down. He didn't understand why he always seemed to be yelling at Bella. She wasn't a bad person. She just wasn't a country girl, and it wasn't that she didn't try, because she did. Even he had to admit that. She just seemed to get in his way much more than necessary.

It wasn't her fault Charlie had managed to get the best of him again. In fact, if he was willing to admit it, the whole situation could have been avoided if he hadn't reacted in anger. If he had just held his tongue, instead of yelling, he would have noticed that Charlie was standing calmly next to her. The horse had even nudged her playfully, trying to get her attention, but Edward had recognized that later, after it was too late.

When Edward had calmed down and finished storing the bales of hay, he climbed down the ladder ready to splash water from the trough onto his heated skin. It wasn't that moving hay was hard work. It was tedious, and the hay stuck to his sweaty skin.

Pulling the leather gloves from his hands, Edward walked to the tack shop. He noticed the basket sitting on the barrel where Bella had left it. It was mid-afternoon and he had to admit that he was hungry.

Edward retrieved a sandwich from the basket and took a bite as he sat on the bench. He looked over at the stall Charlie was housed in, noticing how restless the beast appeared as Edward chewed his second and third mouthful.

"I guess I should go and apologize, shouldn't I?" he asked Charlie. Charlie stilled, looked at Edward, and pinning his ears back before shaking his head and moving away. Edward shrugged his shoulders. "Crazy fucking animal." And continued to eat his sandwich.

"Phil should have put you out of your misery before he died," Edward told Charlie as he started his second sandwich. Charlie just kept looking at him as if irritated or frustrated. Edward shook his head at the horse and stood. He needed to apologize, and right then was as good of time as any. At least he wouldn't have to deal with her horse trying to get his attention anymore.

"Bella, I'm sorry," Edward said as he knocked on the door for the third time. He was getting frustrated and felt like some pussy-whipped teenager begging a girl for a second chance.

"Fine, be like that. Doesn't matter to me anyhow. I'm heading out to the south pasture to mend fences," he announced before storming back the way he had come.

The overall situation with Bella wasn't working. Edward had never been so frustrated.

"Phil, if I had not of given you my word, I don't care who she is, I would be gone. But I owe you, not her, but after our deal is complete, I'm out of here. I promised you two years, and you're not getting one more day than that."


This wasn't the same hill where Edward had found her, or sunrise, but it was still a beautiful sunrise, as bittersweet as her memory of that night was. Instinctively, Bella rubbed her arm where she had broken it six months prior, noticing the change in the texture of her hands after working the ranch. It had been a clean break and healed just like the doctors had said it would. But the doctor told her she would always feel a twinge of pain every now and again.

Edward stormed away from the house. If Bella continued to ignore him, he was going to ignore her. He was the master of ignoring things, and people. As he moved towards the bunk house, he glanced over to where he had tethered Aro, thinking how he should have removed the horse's saddle earlier. He hadn't planned on being so long storing hay and should have been working on the fence line hours ago.

Brought up short, Edward realized Aro wasn't there.

"What in the world?" Edward knew he had tied a good knot. He learned that lesson a long time ago. Flashes of Phil laughing at him as he chased a much younger Aro across the property his first summer at the ranch brought him to a momentary stand still.

Distracted with the memories of Phil, Edward approached the spot he had left his horse. Edward looked around; Aro had to be close by. It wasn't until he noticed the odd shaped footprints that he began to think something was amiss. The footprints had been constructed from tennis shoes. Edward didn't wear tennis shoes while on horseback or while he worked the ranch. He only wore boots.

Bella on the other hand...

His thoughts where cut short as Charlie reared up and screamed a warming, creating a scene. Edward looked between the house and Charlie as his blood ran cold.

"She wouldn't...Fuck, she would!" Edward said to no one in particular as he dashed for the house. This time he didn't knock before throwing the door open.

"Bella?" But Edward's search came up just as empty as the quiet answered his question.

"Stupid, stupid woman! Wait till I get my hands on her! What the hell was she thinking?" Edward ran faster towards the stables as their heated conversation replayed his angry words.

Charlie reared and neighed as Edward entered the barn, grabbing a blanket and bridle from the tack room. He hated riding Whiskey, but Whiskey was sure footed and used to the land that encompassed the ranch.

Charlie continued his aggressive nature, spooking the horse and making it impossible for Edward to coax the gray work horse from his stall. Edward yelled and cursed as his anger and frustration levels overflowed.

"I don't know which one of you is crazier, you fucking glue factory. If Bella gets hurt out there before I find her, I'm putting the bullet in you, myself-"

Edward had more threats running through his head but he couldn't force them pass his lips. He could only stare at Charlie, who was now quiet, his head hung low. His head was twisted to the side just enough that Edward was sure the horse was looking at him, and when Edward looked at Charlie's ears, they were pointed in his direction. Interested or listening, Edward wasn't sure.

No one had been able to saddle, let alone ride, Charlie in the last four years. Phil was the only one besides Bella that could get close to him. And yet, here Charlie was acting as if he was willing to help.

"This better not be a joke," Edward whispered slowly approaching Charlie with a blanket and bridle. Charlie raised and lowered his head watching closely as Edward approached. Edward dropped the blanket to the ground while handling the bridle. He couldn't remember the last time Charlie had accepted a bridle. Was it four years ago? Or five? Where was Phil when you needed him? Never mind.

"Okay, Charlie, here we go," Edward said calmly, letting out the breath he was holding. Edward raised the bridle up, opening the straps and buckles wide. From his body language, Edward could tell Charlie was nervous.

"Deep breath. You can do this," he encouraged himself and the horse. Edward didn't move or attempt to force the bridle into place but waited for Charlie to make the next move. And Charlie did, after sighing loudly. After the bridle was in place, Edward slowly tossed the stripped wool blanket across Charlie's back pulling it forward over his withers.

It wasn't until Edward tried to place a saddle on Charlie that there was trouble. Charlie didn't bolt in fear, though the edges of white around his eyes told Edward otherwise. Charlie simply moved away or sidestepped, eyeing Edward the whole time. The horse was trusting Edward but not the saddle.

"You're damn lucky I know how to ride bareback, but I swear... if you throw me, bite me, or anything else... it's not to late too shoot you."

Charlie hoofed the ground as if agreeing with the terms.

Edward dropped the saddle and stroked Charlie's neck, or crest, as he prepared himself mount a very nervous Charlie. Edward felt the same. Sure, Edward had worked and trained with Charlie as a yearling (and even when he was a colt) but Phil was the only one, up to this point, that had ever mounted and then actually rode him short distances.

Both the riders and creatures nerves settled as Charlie moved one leg forward, then another and another until they were out of the barn. Edward looked at the sky, a habit that had formed eight years ago. The sun was dropping below the tops of trees, letting him know they only had a few hours of daylight left. Three at the most.

Edward wasn't sure how many miles Aro and Bella had traveled or where to continue looking as darkness surrounded him. He had to relax and trust that Charlie knew where he was going. Being out here in the trees when it was this dark was just plain stupid. And when they finally did find Bella, he was going to make sure she knew how stupid she had been and what it was, exactly, she had risked with her stupidity.

Edward noticed instantly when Charlie froze mid-gait and his ears pricked around but relaxed when Charlie blew out and nickered. He hoped they were close to finding Bella. It was late and both he and Charlie were exhausted.

It was a cracking of branches or leaves that brought Charlie to a halt again just before Edward saw something white. It could have been the moonlight reflecting off a rock or maybe some water; he couldn't tell for sure. Edward was forced to dismount when Charlie refused to move.

Stumbling forward, Edward made his way closer to whatever it was.

"Aro," he whispered in relief walking closer. Aro was nervous but Edward didn't know that. So, when Edward cleared a nearby tree, Aro took flight leaving Edward afoot.

"Ugh, crazy fucking horse," Edward growled out as Charlie rushed past, following after Aro.

Now, Edward was stranded, making it impossible to find Bella. That woman was going to be the death of him. Why he indentured himself to Phil, just so he could go to school, was the stupidest thing he could have done. Did Phil's death null and void their arrangement? He wished it did, but it didn't.

But if Aro was there, that meant only one thing. Bella couldn't be that far away, he hoped.

"Bella!" Edward called out over and over as he moved. He hadn't been this far from the ranch house in years. "Bella!"

Edward listened closely to the world around him as he paused to listen, hoping for a clue in what direction to move, when he heard a noise. Recognizing the sound and the direction of the sobbing, Edward took off running.

"Bella," Edward hollered as he broke through the trees into a clearing at the top of the hill.


Bella's mind drifted back to the nightmare that could have been a beginning of something powerful between them. Even though Edward was angry, he'd taken care of her, ensuring her safety first. For one brief moment, a year in the making, Edward was approachable. He even acted as if he had truly cared about her, but it was all a lie, a set up.

It was well after dark when she realized she was lost. She didn't know what direction to go to get back home and Aro was being difficult. She tried to spur him on in one direction, and he kept trying to go back the way they had just traveled.

Bella was too exhausted to pay attention and started to drift in and out of consciousness. Coyotes howled in the distance bringing Bella out of the fog she had drifted into. The howling continued, startling Aro, causing him to jump in retreat throwing a bewildered Bella from the saddle, the ground breaking her fall and arm just above the wrist.

When Bella screamed out in pain, Aro bolted in fear, leaving his rider behind.

Bella rolled around on the ground screaming in pain. She only wanted Edward's horse to come back-not run away.

After she was screamed out, Bella felt the desire to just give up. She shivered and shook as the temperature outside dropped.

"You really thought this one through, didn't you, Bella," she said. "Now what?" she asked herself. If there was one redeeming quality about Bella, it was her ability to look ahead, create a plan, and then follow through with it.

"It's dark, you're alone, you're hurt, and nobody knows where the fuck you are," Bella whispered to herself. Looking around Bella noticed the moonlight streaking through the trees.

"I need to find a spot where someone can find me, a clearing or... or something," she continued. Pulling herself together she managed to find the perfect spot with the aid of the moon. Her feet hurt when she sat in the open field.

It was colder and her body trembled. She rubbed her arm fighting the pain radiating from it. She needed warmth but had no clue what to do, so she sobbed.

The night was was filled with strange noises but Bella could hear everything. And everything heightened her fear. Trying to calm herself, she held her arm across her middle and rocked back and forth.

Her eyes widened fearfully as an owl taunted her from behind. She prayed the howling from the coyote' would stay away. She prayed someone would realize she was missing. She even cursed the day her Uncle had lured her to Colorado. And then she cursed herself for being angry with Edward.

"Morning will be here soon enough... you can figure out what to do then," Bella chanted over and over. "Everything is going to be fine," she ordered as she sobbed.

When Bella heard her name, her body twisted and she took in a shadowed form moving towards her.

"Edward," she called out in relief as his silhouette broke through the trees, then she started sobbing again. The pain in her arm increased when she tried to move.

"Are you okay?" Edward asked, kneeling next to her.

"I think it's broken," Bella cried out in reply, shaking her head. She didn't care how Edward had found her, only that he had.

Edward dropped the pack he'd grabbed when he'd realized what Bella had done. Phil had taught him that on his first day. "Always be prepared because you just never know. It's not like we live in the city, son." Using the knife sheathed to his belt Edward cut apart a pillowcase he'd kept in his pack. "A pillowcase can serve more than once purpose," he heard Phil say before shaking the old man's voice from his head.

Edward inhaled deeply, as he used his roughed fingers and hands to inspect Bella's tender arm, feeling an electrical pulse. Bella was probably right. Her arm was broken, but Edward didn't tell her that. Instead he used the strips of cloth to create a sling and then fastened her arm to her body so she couldn't jar or move it.

"You're freezing and it's still a few hours until morning. We'll stay here until it's light and then figure out what to do," Edward spoke, leaving no room for discussion. He removed his jacket and wrapped it tightly around his broken girl and forced her to lie down.

He covered them with a silver emergency blanket to help keep them warm.

"Try to get some rest," he said, pulling her closer to him, letting her use one of his arm as a pillow and using the other to protect her form. He hoped she'd listen to him for a change because one of them needed to get some sleep.

"Won't you be cold?" Bella asked, tugging at his jacket.

"I never get cold," he lied.

They both laid there, wide awake. Edward breathed in her strawberry scented hair, while Bella felt the heat radiate off him, slowly warming her being.

They remained still, watching the sunrise as it brought new light to their darkened world.

Their quiet bubbles was broken with the sounds of cracking twigs and leaves.

"Bella," Edward whispered.

"I hear it," she whispered back.

"Stay here while I check it out." Edward released her from the hold he'd maintained throughout the night as they laid together. Instantly, he was cold and there was something missing. Disconcerting emotions washed over him and it wasn't something he'd ever felt. The feelings it stirred were unfamiliar. Protective maybe?

As Bella's fears began to surface, Edward's return kept her from drowning. "Edward's return" was truly a sight to behold.

With a set of reins in each hand, Edward led Aro and Charlie towards her.

Her knight, in worn out blue jeans and a white Stetson hat.


Bella put the car into gear, pushing the gas. She didn't even say goodbye to her friends at the dinner when she stopped in Georgetown for fuel before continuing on.

Unfortunately, that didn't mean her presence went unnoticed.

"Hey, Bella! What brings you into town?" Emmett asked as he approached. He had just filled his police cruiser up and was headed to work. He hadn't expected to see her until the following week when she journeyed to town to collect the first real guests for the ranch. "New unexpected vacationers?"

"Bella?" Emmett asked, concerned, when her shoulders slumped. After placing a hand on her shoulder Emmett's eyes were wide in disbelieve as the two came face-to-face.

"I'm sorry, Emmett," Bella began. Emmett pulled Bella into a bear hug, shushing her. But before he could even attempt to get more details from his distraught friend, she broke their bond and pulled away.

"I can't...I'm going back to New York. Make sure Alice still helps out at the ranch. Edward's going to need it."

"But... Why?" Emmett asked, confused and in disbelief. Bella had worked too hard for to long...

"I don't belong here! I never did!" she yelled, climbing into her car and escaping more interrogation. Emmett was too stunned at react at first. What the hell happened? Edward! And then he was angry. If anyone belonged there, it was Bella Swan-Dwyer. Then realization came and sadness. She didn't know that her Uncle Phil was actually her biological father—and he was bound by the law, not to tell. He stood in place watching as her car disappeared from sight.

First it was the morning, then it was the evening, then a full day, a week, then almost a month, and Edward was still unable to reach Bella. He'd called and called, but each time her voice mail answered. Edward was beyond livid. Some with Bella, but mostly himself. He couldn't figure out what he had said that set her off this time. She was so unpredictable.

"What the fuck, Edward! What did you do to Bella this time?" Emmett screamed, dragging out the word this. He didn't even allow Edward the courtesy of a hello as he approached the bunk house.

"Fuck you, Emmett," Edward joked back, not realizing that Emmett was serious. "Who pissed in your Wheaties this morning?" Edward continued oblivious.

"They were tears, not piss! And for your information...Those tears where Bella's."

When Emmett mentioned Bella and tears, Edward sobered up.

"What are you talking about?" Edward asked. "Bella's still asleep in the house!"

"Are you sure?" Emmett asked. There was no way Edward could be that numb. "Where's her car, you dip shit. She's not asleep. She went back to New York! And from the look on her face this morning, she isn't coming back. What the fuck did you do?"

"I didn't do anything," Edward snapped.

"Well then..I guess that explains everything! Doesn't it?" Emmett finished off before leaving Edward to his own devices. He didn't have it in him to deal with Edward and his stupidity any longer.

Edward dropped the letter Bella had left, detailing what would be expected by guests during their stay, back on the table and pulled his hair. What was he going to do? Everything... everything Bella had worked for over the last eighteen months was going to go up in flames. The next day marked a mile-stone. Twenty executives were arriving for a leadership retreat. It was going to be a full house. Edward had no clue what he was going to do.

He knew Bella had been quiet for a few days. He figured she was contemplating the party that was showing up following day, not leaving.

It wasn't until he talked to Alice that he'd remembered his passing remarks as he watched Bella train with Charlie. Edward had decided to give Bella a chance and teach her the things that Phil had taught him. Bella didn't know it, but Edward wasn't a cowboy when he'd first come to the ranch, even though he had grown up locally.

"Phil, what are you up to? Just some kid, my ass. And to think she thought you were her Uncle," Edward mumbled under his breath. He had his arms folded, resting over the top rung of the training corral, his chin nestled over the padding of his arms. His foot was kicked up on the bottom rung of the fence as he imagined talking to Phil, while watching Bella build her relationship with Charlie inside the ring.

Edward hadn't realized that Bella had heard him. He'd finally put the pieces together himself. Watching her train Charlie, was like watching Phil all over again, only shorter... and definitely female. Bella Swan wasn't just some kid, but his kid—Isabella Swan-Dwyer. Edward couldn't believe it had taken him so long to figure it out. Now, he understood why Phil seemed sad Bella had decided to stay in New York every summer instead of visiting Phil and the ranch.


Edward remained behind instead of chasing after her immediately, like he had wanted to. He couldn't let her dreams go up in flames. He didn't know when it had happened, but it had. Her dreams had become his, and it was going to take everything he had, and then some, to bring their dreams to fruition.

After that, he'd make his move. Then he would go to New York and bring her back, kicking and screaming if necessary. But a month was a long time to wait.

"You're nuts, you know that, don't you?" Edward said frustrated.

"It will work! I know it will!" Bella said defensively. "I've done the research, the math. I even got the bank to back my business plan. This will work!

"This is so going to fail. This is a Colorado working dude ranch, not some high and mighty pampered guest hotel."

"You watch, listen, and learn, Bucko." Bella was too angry to continue. Who was Edward Cullen to tell her what would and wouldn't work; nobody.

"Fine by me. I'll watch you fail, listen to you cry, and learn that you do not belong here. When it's all said and done, you'll run back to where ever it was that you came from with your tail between your legs. Then we'll see who's laughing. And then when my two years is up, I'm out of here, because there will be nothing left of the ranch, or Phil, because the bank will own everything.


With Alice's and Emmett's help, Edward worked from sun up to sun down. He put on his most charming smile every morning and took it off every night.

Even the small community pulled together and helped.

Esme Johnson, the local school bus drive, offered her services.

Every Friday that month, she waited in town for the weary travelers to arrive and escorted them to the ranch. She laughed and giggled as the passengers loaded the aging school bus, shocked and surprised.

"Welcome to Georgetown," she would greet. Then she would pull the lever shutting the glass doors. By the time they reached the ranch, Edward was amazed at the smiling faces that stepped off the bus singing.

"The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round...Thank you Ms. Johnson...Sorry, Esme. See you Monday morning..."

If only Bella were here to see it. With that thought, Edward put his mask back in place, adjusted his Stetson, and stepped out of the shadows.

"Welcome to the Dwyer Lake Ranch. I'm sure y'all are tired and hungry. So, if y'all will grab your bags, I'll show you to your quarters where you can freshen up before dinner."


"Edward, it's been almost six weeks," Alice whined. She missed her friend Bella and wanted her home almost as much as Edward did. "You still haven't found her?"

"Alice, it was a month before I could leave to find Bella, and it took me a week to drive New York, so technically, it's only been one. And no, I haven't found her, yet," Edward replied. "Who knew New York was so big?" Edward injected, trying to change the subject.

"By the way, how are things back at the ranch?" Edward asked. Edward already knew that he couldn't find more capable hands than Jasper's to leave the ranch in if he had tried.

"They're um... good. Jasper's doing a great job for you and Bella," Alice said. Edward could once again hear the lighthearted girl he'd grown up with and laughed at the not-so-sly tone of her voice. Maybe, once he and Bella returned, she and Jasper had a chance at a future.

"Thank you, Edward. You have no idea how nice things are, getting to know him again after all this time."

"I'm glad things are working out for you, Jasper, and the ranch. I love you, Alice, but I have a mission to accomplish. I'll be back as soon as I can." Edward waited until Alice said thank you and good-bye before he hung up.

He still wondered why Alice thanked him when they spoke. Getting Jasper back to the ranch wasn't his idea.

"Hey, Jasper. How long are you back in town for?" Edward asked his old friend as he took a seat next to him at the diner. It was just another day trip into town from the ranch.

"That's still to be determined," Jasper said flatly, never taking his eyes off the dark haired waitress at the other end of the counter.

"Ah...I see," Edward said, noticing Alice pretending to fill salt shakers. "Anything I can do to help?"

"Actually, I think there is. Want some company for the ride back to the ranch?" Jasper asked, finally looking at Edward.

Edward glanced across the room at Alice and shrugged.

"Sure, why not. Anytime you're ready," he replied, draining his coffee cup and plopping his hat back on his head. Edward was curious as to what Jasper wanted. No better time like the present, he thought to himself.

Once the tires hit the pavement, Jasper wouldn't shut up. Edward realized just how much Jasper had stuffed and hidden over the last four years. He hated his job, he wanted to make things right with Alice, and he wanted to come home. But he couldn't do that without a plan.

The bank was "footing the bill" for his trip to Georgetown until he could locate his client's Power of Attorney, who was now in default of her agreement and could be forfeiting her inheritance as well.

Suspicion stirred deep in Edward's gut. It couldn't be? Fuck, it had to be.

"That's wouldn't be Isabella Swan, would it?" Edward just needed confirmation.

"Um, yeah. How'd you guess?" Jasper asked, perplexed when Edward finally reacted.

"Fuck, I swear when I get my hands on her... " he said, leaving the obvious threat hanging.

"Do you know where she is?"

"Yes... and no," Edward admitted, defeated.

"Edward, you don't understand. If she doesn't come back, she'll lose everything. So-"

"Oh, she's coming back, all right. As soon as I can find someone to run the ranch for me."

Edward hit the brakes and looked at Jasper. Jasper wore the biggest fucking grin this side of the Rocky Mountains. They both knew what needed to be done.

The next Friday Edward was almost to New York when the local school bus pulled up to the house and unloaded the passengers.

"Welcome to... "Jasper's voice rang out Edward's standard greeting. He was sporting an old Civil War officer's hat instead of Edward's white Stetson.
"Hey, Emmett," Edward greeted before he replied to Emmett's question about whether he'd found Bella yet or not. "No, it's not going so good," Edward spoke in frustration. He was sitting in his truck parked outside of a Wal-mart somewhere in New York City.

"No, she hasn't contacted her mother, at least that's what her mother said," he started to explain, but how did one explain Renee, the woman that was supposed to love and care for Bella. "Man, Emmett... if that was my momma, I'd get the hell out of Dodge too. That woman is as mean as they come."

"Mrs. Swan gave me a a few names but... Emmett, it's like Bella just disappeared into thin air."

"Who's knocking on my door like some raving maniac?" Renee yelled from behind the door.

"Mrs. Swan, my name is Edward, Edward Cullen. I need to talk to Bella."

"Well, Bella doesn't live here," she yelled back through the door.

"Do you know where I can find her?"

"She moved to some podunk town in Colorado. You want to see her, go there!"

"Mrs. Swan, please, Bella hasn't been at the Dwyer Lake Ranch in over a month."

Edward turned to leave when he heard the locks of the twisting from inside. When the door finally opened, an older version of Bella, minus Phil's features, stood there eyeing Edward head to toe.

"Oh great. Now I have rednecks coming to my door." Her disdain for him or anything country was clearly written on her face, and Edward felt the urge to step back. Bella's mother was barely covered in a silky robe, and it was obvious that she'd been drinking. Reflexively, he wrinkled his nose as the smell of booze assaulted him.

"I already told you, she isn't here. If she's not in Colorado, I don't know where the fuck she is. Try getting a hold of her ex Tyler, or that blonde bimbo she use to run with, Rosalie."

"Ma'am as you can obviously see, I'm not from around here. Could you be more specific?" Edward asked.

"Tyler Crowley and Rosalie King, or Hale, or whatever she goes by these days. Look them up in the phone book," Renee spat as she stepped back from the door. "And when you find her, tell her Sam finally left me, and she's dead to me. I don't have a daughter." Then the door was closed with a loud ringing of wood colliding with wood.

At least Edward had a few new leads, but more importantly, he once again had hope. ~~~HnHH~~~

"The names? Um..." Edward stuttered, caught off guard by Emmett's question. He quickly searched the dash of his truck for the piece of paper he'd written the names on.

"Rosalie King or Hale and Tyler Crowley," Edward finished once he had found his note. He would have asked about spelling but Renee had slammed the door in his face.

"Give me a few days," Emmett said, pausing to look around his desk. "I'll see what I can find out from my end."

"Thanks, Emmett, but isn't that like breaking the law... or something."

"Not if I file a missing person's report or slap a warrant out for her arrest, it's not."

"Okay," Edward said, drawing out the word and shaking his head. "But you know Bella's gonna flip if you do something like that, right?"

"At this point, Edward, I don't care what kind of tantrum she throws. Can't be any worse than running away, now can it?"

Edward could hear the emotion in his friend's voice. He'd known Emmett too many years to miss it, and he knew just how protective his friend could be.

"I'll wait for your call then. And Emmett... thanks, man, I owe you one."

Three young men stumbled from the bonfire, the two younger men dragging a very drunk Emmett. If Emmett got caught drunk again, he would be suspended from the football team. And if he was suspended, he would lose the football scholarship they had been out celebrating.

"Edward, I think we need to find smaller friends." Jasper snickered as he and Edward pulled and pushed the passed out linebacker into the bed of his truck.

"Hey, we'd do the same if it was you," Edward commented as they finally got Emmett's feet adjusted so they could close the tailgate.

"Yeah, maybe. But you guys wouldn't have gotten a hernia tossing me into the back of a truck." Jasper laughed, freeing the truck keys from the from pocket of Emmett's jeans.

"Let's just hope his mamma doesn't find out about this. If she finds out, he won't need a scholarship because he'll be dead." Both boys laughed as they settled into the cab of the truck.

"Well," Jasper said, weighing the choices. "Should we take the high road, or the low road." One road was well traveled, smooth, and led to the highway. The other road was filled with ruts and took forever to get back.

"The low road," Edward commented, slapping Jasper on the back. "Maybe someone will learn his lesson about drinking and making us clean up the mess."

"Hell with that! We'll drive him home; he can clean up his own messes."


Edward tried to put himself in Bella's shoes, being form the big city. But it wasn't like Bella had never been to the country before. But why would she have felt so overwhelmed?

How did someone get into someone else's mind? With nothing else do to, Edward decided he'd go to Central Park and try to see things from Bella's perspective. Maybe... just maybe, he'd feel a little closer to her and not so lost.

As Edward strolled deeper into the park, he noticed the contrast of the grass, concrete, and asphalt trails. He watched people flock to the wide open areas and relax, taking in the day's sunshine.

He concentrated on the older people and couples sitting at park benches feeding birds day old bread and connecting with something the that would help answer his questions.

Deeper into the park, Edward followed the squeals and screams of children's laughter. Setting within round concrete curbs and elaborate metal fencing was a large frog statue, water pulsing skyward from its back and falling down like rain, covering the expanse of the fountain.

Standing behind the people surrounding the fountain, Edward watched as children of all shapes and sizes raced back and forth under the umbrella of water, laughing and simply being children.

As the smile tugged at the edges of Edward's lips, he understood why Bella had shown him pictures as he remembering one of their first fights.

"What do you mean, you don't get it?" Bella asked as Edward looked at the picture she had handed him.

"Why in the hell would you bring a 'piece of the city' to a natural rural area like Dwyer Lake? I thought that's what you were trying to get them away from. Exposing those big city snobs to something more natural, beautiful."

"It's not like I'm trying to recreate Central Park or something. Jesus, Edward, it's just a fountain, a centerpiece so to speak. It's just so different here. I don't want them to feel completely lost and overwhelmed."

"It isn't? You don't? Oh wait, Bella. It's an abomination, that's what that thing is! An abomination. If you want the city so bad, why don't you just go back?Ow! What the fuck was that for?" Edward asked, blocking the things that were suddenly flying across the room."Stop throwing shit at me! Ow! Damn it, woman-"

"Out, get out! Get the fuck out of my house!" she screamed with an emphasis on my. "And stay out!" she ordered, standing in the door way.

"You're crazy... You know that right?"

"And you're... you're just an ass, Edward Cullen," she screamed, slamming the door.

Outside, Edward smiled, rubbing his chest where the book she threw had hit as he walked away.

"At least she got one thing right. I am an ass," he mused lightheartedly. Edward was starting to enjoy getting Bella riled up more than he should. "And she has one hell of an arm for a girl," he laughed, moving on.

Eventually, Bella shoved her drawings into the bottom of a box and then placed the box in the back of a closet she never used. Bella didn't speak to Edward for a week after that. And then when she did, it was short and business related. ~~~HnHH~~~
It's not that Edward was a stranger to big city living. He'd attended collage in Houston, Texas for four years. He just wasn't used to feeling closed in like he did as he drove through the metropolitan area called Manhattan. He wondered how Bella had survived growing up there living in the shadows of inanimate cold buildings and never really seeing the sun, moon or stars. For Edward, New York City was like a living death of sorts.

He wondered if Bella took any comfort in the contrast of home compared to New York, because he didn't. There was too much concrete, and too many people, and you couldn't see the stars.

"Bella, what are you doing out here this time of night?" Edward asked, sitting on the ground and joining Bella as she gazed at the stars. Somehow, after the last fight they'd had, they had come to some sort of silent truce.

"That's Orion over there... and that's the big dipper... and the little dipper is right there. She said, lying on her back and pointing up at the sky. "It's not that I've haven't seen the stars before, I just don't remember them being so big," she finished and fell into silent wonder of how magnificent the heavens were.

"That's Draco, the dragon, over there and right there next to that big bright one there is-"

"Aquarius," Bella spoke, filling in the title, smiling. Edward looked at Bella and noticed her smirk.

"Know it all," he said playfully.

"So, you finally agree with me?"

Edward and Bella laughed before slipping back into a comfortable silence watching the stars, together.

But Edward was watching more than the stars. He was watching the woman next to him watch the stars, and now that he was paying attention, he saw her. He saw the naive little girl locked in a woman's body. He saw the woman who was greedy for the things around her, not the flashy lights or the night life of the city. ~~~HnHH~~~

"Hey, Edward, I found an address for Rosalie King," Emmett greeted days later. He and Edward had been friends far too long to worry about hellos and goodbyes.

Emmett's timing couldn't have been better. Edward had started losing hope he'd ever find Bella. Edward scribbled the address on his hand, vowing not to wash it, because he couldn't find a scrap of paper that wasn't filled with scribbles already.

"Thanks, Emmett. I'm on it," he said, hitting end on his phone and reaching for the map in the glove box. After a few minutes of searching the map, he verified where he was located and plotted a route to the address written on his hand.

After thirty minutes of driving in city traffic. Edward parked his truck and deposited two dollars in the parking meter. Surely an hour was plenty of time.

Edward was crestfallen as he entered the building. Even though what he found was every man's wet-dream, it wasn't the apartment building that he had hoped for. From the outside, it didn't have the appearance of a mechanic's shop, but that's what it was. How could this be an address for Rosalie King? Edward thought back to the day before as he arrived at Tyler Crowley's apartment. "Excuse me. Is this where Tyler Crowley lives?" Edward asked the young woman who had answered the door. "It is. How can I help you?" she answered Edward, looking at him like he was from outer space. "I'm trying to find his ex, Bella Swan. Do you know if he's heard from her?" "You mean the mousey brunette that left him for some stupid town that even God hasn't heard of? No, we haven't and don't want to. But you can thank her for me. Tyler is wonderful, her loss. Have a good day and don't come back." Edward stood there, blinking at the closed door. What was it with people slamming doors in his face? ~~~HnHH~~~
A few hours later, Edward watched as his new friend, Rosalie, paused at the restaurant door. He couldn't allow her to get away; she was the last link he had to Bella. He thought back over initial meeting and the conversation they had just shared while they ate a filling lunch.
"Not from around here are you?" a woman said from behind the counter, grabbing his attention. She was tall, wearing a dirty set of coveralls and a golf cap that covered her head and ears while chewing a piece of gum or candy. A strip of dark black hair fell to the side of her oil smudged face, framing it. He noticed her blue eyes as she tucked the exposed hair behind her ear.

"No, ma'am, I am not," Edward said not adding the part that he'd shoot himself if he had been. Her laugh might have been genuine but Edward could feel his temper edge higher despite the musical tone.

"No, no, no. You're supposed to reply, here's your sign, cowboy," she said motioning up and down with her hands. Her gesture was meant to say, look at yourself.

"Is there a manager that can help me?" he asked, irritated that the woman was making fun of him. "I'm trying to locate Rosalie King." He didn't have time to chat or hangout or make small talk. He was on a mission.

"Who's asking?" she inquired, still chewing her gum. "You a cop?"

"No ma'am, I'm not a cop. My name is Edward Cullen, and I need Rosalie's help to find a missing friend of ours."

"And who's your missing friend?" she asked suspiciously before interjecting her own brand of sarcasm. "Or was he a love interest that ran away because you acted like a baboon?" she asked in an accusing tone.

"Her name is Bella Swan. Can you help me locate Rosalie King, or not?" Edward asked, trying to remain cordial. At least I don't look or act like a grease monkey, he thought appraising the woman before him, or know the difference between a ratchet and a screw driver. But Edward would bite his own tongue off if she could help.
"Maybe, give me a few minutes," the woman said before turning and walking away. Edward wasn't sure what to make of her. Was she really going to help or leave him standing here like a fool? He let their meeting play in his thoughts as he analyzed the stand offish woman. Was she going to be just like the other woman he had met in New York so far?

Edward watched as the woman returned, wiggling her fingers, a common invitation to follow, as she sauntered past and out the door. Edward was confused but followed. As they walked through the throngs of people, Edward started to wonder if it was a good idea to follow a strange woman down the busy sidewalk. Who was this blonde... and then it clicked as Renee's words replayed, bimbo, Rosalie King.

Edward followed as Rosalie led the way without a word to a restaurant, just a short distance away. It wasn't until he had a fresh cup of coffee sitting before him that she broke the silence.

"So, Cowboy," she started, then took a sip from her cup. "How can I help you?"

"Well, Ms. King-"

"Don't call me that..." she spat. "Rosalie, please, just Rosalie," she corrected.

"Sorry," Edward said taking a deep breath. Her warning was loud and clear. He needed to tread lightly. "I need to find Bella so I can take her back home."

"Home? Bella hasn't had a home in years. Besides, what makes you think she'd leave with you? What makes you so special?"

Edward let the questions roll around in his head, contemplating each one seriously before he answered.

"One, Bella does have a home but New York City isn't it. Two, once I get my hands on her, she doesn't have a choice. And three... nothing, absolutely nothing makes me special."

They talked for hours. As strange as Rosalie was, Edward felt like he'd just found a long lost friend. When Rosalie demanded the whole story, he gave it to her much to his own surprise. He never expected to open up to anyone, other than Bella, about how he felt.

"So, you love her then?"

"I didn't say that. I said I might have feelings for her," Edward corrected.

"Bella doesn't need another douche in her life. Feelings will not get you what you want...or need. It doesn't matter anyway because it sounds like love to me." Rosalie's voice sounded wistfully.

"You big city people sure throw that word around a lot," Edward accused.

"Maybe we do...Maybe we don't, but at least we use it, unlike some people. I dare you to say it. I dare you to think about Bella and see how the word feels coming off your tongue,"



Edward thought about it during a long drawn out silence.

"So, what if I do?"

"Say it," Rosalie challenged. "Chicken shit," Rosalie said with disgust when Edward refused. "You don't deserve her. I'm out of here. You're on your own. And call your dogs off. If Bella doesn't want to see you, I'm sure as hell not helping you."

Rosalie grabbed her purse, pushed herself from the booth and stormed toward the door.
Just as Rosalie forced herself to open the door and leave the restaurant, Edward stopped her in defeated. Rosalie tensed on instinct from his touch as he grabbed her arm but forced herself to relax and locked eyes with him.

"I love her. I love Bella Swan. I'm in love with your best friend. Please, help me?" he begged.
"Come on, Cowboy, we need a plan."

"Would you stop calling me that? I have a name you know."

"Whatever, Cow—boy," Rosalie said, laughing when Edward rolled his eyes and looked away.