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.

The characters and events in this story are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. No part of this fiction may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the author's prior approval.

Chapter 7

Cheer Me Up.

To kick the writer's block, I'm writing this chapter in some Edward and some Bella POV.


I let out a heavy, frustrated sigh after hanging up my cell phone and placing it onto the table in front of me. My head dropped into my palms and I attempted to focus on anything other than what was angering me at that moment.

"Are you okay, sweetheart?" My mother was suddenly behind me, her loving hands massaging my shoulders, gently forcing my tense muscles to relax under her touch. I sighed and crossed my arms on the table in front of me.

"It's about Bella." I whispered as she moved to sit down beside me.

"Are you two having an argument?" She inquired, busying her hands by straightening the placemat that was still in front of me, and the centerpiece that she had placed in the middle of the table for the holiday. It all looked fantastic…it just wasn't quite whole without Bella sitting across from me. I shook my head to answer my mother's question. She frowned but nodded. "Was Bella hurt?"

"Not physically." I muttered, clenching my fists into angry balls.

"I'm afraid I don't understand." She was honest. I let my head rest on my folded arms then, but flipped my face around so that I could see her. She instinctively ran her hands through my messy hair. I couldn't help but smile. Both she and Bella did that when they were trying to comfort me. She pulled her hand back and her frown deepened. "You're smiling now. I really don't understand."

"Sorry…Bella does that too…whenever I'm upset." I clarified and she nodded knowingly. "You know, Ma," I began talking then, feeling ready to explain my problem to her. "While I was over at her house this afternoon, I learned a lot about her and a lot about what she's like in her natural habitat." I smirked. Bella belonged in the kitchen, and I meant that in the least sexist way I could. Cooking was her calling. Mom asked what I meant, interrupting my proud thoughts. "Like the fact that you and her have very much in common."

"We do?"

"Yes. She reminds me of you." I tried to explain and Mom just laughed, tossing her head back.

"Should I be worried that your girlfriend reminds you of your mother, baby?"

"Gross! Not like that!" I laughed, sitting up then. "I just meant that the way that she was in the kitchen. She knew that place upside down and backwards. She hasn't lived there that long, but she was such a natural. She would ask me for help with little things but smack the back of my hand when I tried to snatch some small bites. She would hum while she washed dishes and danced the place like it was her stage. It was the cutest thing I have ever seen.

"She made that sweet potato casserole that you always make and let me taste everything before her. She taught me small things about cooking and told me about how she first learned to cook. I had fun while cooking with her. We cooked an entire Thanksgiving feast in less than four hours together. The only problem was that I didn't get to stay and eat it with her."

"Is that why you're so sad right now? You miss her?" Mom asked, her voice a strange combination between happy and confused.

"No. I mean, I miss her, yeah…but that's not the problem." I glanced at her before looking down at my hands. "She was cooking the feast for her mother. She was hoping that Renee would finally eat something she cooked and that she'd approve."

"Oh. Renee was rude?"

"Bella sat at the dinner table for nearly three hours, waiting on Renee, and then called her to see what was up. Renee laughed and made fun of her before hanging up and not coming home." I grew angrier with each word and my voice showed it. Mom began rubbing my back supportively.

"She really wanted them to eat with her."

"She was trying so hard." I moaned, rubbing my eyes. "She ended up going to Charlie's, where everyone is in bed now, and eating some of their leftovers because the meal she cooked was cold."

"That's it." Mom stood up then, surprising me.

"What?" I cocked my head to the side, my curiosity getting the better of me. Mom walked over to where she kept her planner and pulled it out, flipping viciously through the pages of it. "Mom, what is it?"

"I'm making a phone call." She told me and my brow furrowed.


"I heard he's got a girlfriend." Jane's harpy voice was the first one I heard as students began trickling in before lunch. I watched as she glanced pointedly at me, her ice blue eyes creeping me out. The way that she only half opened her eyes was probably supposed to be seductive too. I grimaced and walked over to begin writing on the board. She walked over and leaned awkwardly against the wall. "The word around the block is that you're seeing someone, Mr. Cullen."

"The word around the block is none of your business." I all but snapped and stepped back from her. I was afraid she'd spray some of her venom on me while she talked. I didn't feel like catching an STD or something, so I kept on walking away.

"I just wanted to let you know that there's no way that some skank is good enough for you. You can always do better." She looked up at me, through her artificial eyelashes and I cringed. I had no idea what the idiotic high schoolers saw in this girl, other than her money and her father's job.

That was all they saw. That and one other thing. Never mind.

"I just wanted to let you know that despite the fact that it's none of your business, the girl I am seeing is not a skank. She's incredibly classy and probably one of the most beautiful girls I have ever had the pleasure of knowing." I smirked fakely at her and her brow pinched together, but only for a second. I was sure that she was putting too much strain on her Botoxed face. Bella had more class in her pinky toe than Jane Volturi did in her entire existence. "I think you should go have a seat now."

"I'm only telling you what I think, Mr. Cullen." She pouted then and I rolled my eyes before going back to my seat.

As I sat down, the door opened. I didn't need to look up to know exactly who was entering my class. I could sense her from across the planet, if I had to. I slowly looked up, trying not to appear crazy as I did. Bella's dark brown eyes were already locked on me. I watched as they drifted to Jane, who was still pestering me on my left. She raised her eyebrows at me and I shrugged.

I didn't even glance at Jane, who was still yapping, as I watched Bella walk to me. She was wearing her midnight blue skirt and white, button-down blouse. The blouse had single, navy blue stripes going down beside the buttons and alone the seams. Her hair was pulled into a loose, curly ponytail and was tied up with a red ribbon. Her tights were white and she wore red flats on her feet. I knew for a fact that I had never paid so much attention to what anyone wore, but Bella looked absolutely stunning. The uniforms weren't typically flattering…but when Bella wore it…

She was sexy.

She eyed Jane warily before winking at me and walking over to take a seat. I sighed and shook my head, going back to the little freak in front of me. Jane, unlike Bella, was not fun to look at in the uniform. She bought it in a size too small when she was already sickly thin anyway. Her bust was sticking out where she didn't button the top up enough while her butt was hanging out of the skirt that she had hiked up way too high. I nearly gagged and looked away quickly. I didn't want to give her the wrong impression and make her think I was checking her out.

"All I'm saying is that I'm completely open to all different types of tutoring." She spoke in what sounded like an attempt to purr but actually sounded like a train wreck.

The bell rang then and I physically relaxed.

"Go to lunch, Miss Volturi." I muttered and she huffed, stomped her foot – which was clad in a way too high heel – and ran off with her little group of friends.

"I genuinely felt sorry for you while watching that conversation." She giggled and I groaned, letting my head hit the desk.

"I don't even want to talk about it." I spoke into the desk, my voice being muffled.

"Poor baby. Having to talk to the wicked witch." She cooed, running her hand over my hair. I looked up at her, letting my chin rest on the desk.

"It's torture." I gave her my best pout but she just brushed her hand over my face, making me laugh.

"What are we doing today, teach?" She plopped into the chair that I kept across from my desk and pulled out her lunch box. I raised my eyebrows when I realized that all she had brought was cold-cuts. She followed my eyes, realized what I was confused about, and laughed. I smiled at the sight of her tossing her head back, her tinkling laugh filling the quiet room. "You've never eaten turkey cold-cuts after Thanksgiving?"

I shook my head. I was speechless with this girl. She handed me my sandwich and motioned for me to go ahead and try it.

"I thought it was the best part. Almost better than the original meal." She shrugged biting into her sandwich again. I warily unwrapped my own and took a large bite. One half of me was unsure about the leftover turkey being eaten cold while the other half trusted her taste and cooking expertise.

As soon as I swallowed the first bite, I knew that I could definitely trust my girl when it came to food. The sandwich was the best sandwich that I had ever gotten to eat. I hummed happily and she immediately brightened, pleased with the fact that I liked another thing that she made for me. I doubted I would ever not like something she cooked.

"How have I missed out on this all of my life?" I asked her and she chuckled.

"I don't know. What do you normally do with your leftover turkey?"

"Eat it like I did on Thanksgiving?" I pretty much questioned and she raised her eyebrows. That was not the answer that she was looking for.

"Touché." She finally shrugged and I winked.

"I like yours better though." I purposefully took another large bite again.

"You never answered my question." She finally said as she got halfway through her sandwich. "What are we working on today?"

"We're going to prepare for the Christmas Concert." I told her nonchalantly and she gasped again.

"Christmas Concert?" She seemed to choke, her cheeks turning bright red.

"Yes. The band will play. The choir will sing. And three students from this class will perform a solo as well." I told her and her face paled. I wasn't sure what to say to her or why she was so freaked out. She performed in front of our class and me all the time. Maybe she was afraid of not getting a solo. "You'll probably get one. I'm ninety-nine percent sure you'll qualify."

"I can't sing in front of all of those people!" She cried and my jaw dropped.

"Why the hell not? You're the best we've got!" I asked her, keeping my voice low. She blushed furiously, her eyes downcast. I sighed softly, realizing that the hint of stage fright that she showed when school started was only the beginning of her performing fears. " have incredible talent. You have to perform."

"What if I fuck it up?" She hissed. I knew she was upset because she didn't typically use strong language unless she was genuinely freaked out. I, on the other hand, was genuinely surprised that she was so freaked out. I thought she would love to have a solo. I was shaking my head before she was even done asking.

"You are not going to mess anything up. I'm choosing you for a reason." I rubbed my neck, nervously massaging my stiff muscles. She was stressing me out so much lately and now she was informing me that she didn't want to sing at the second biggest concert of the year. The biggest one was going to be in May and I was counting on her for that one. "Bella, you're one of the best singers and performers I've ever met. You'd be fantastic at the concert."

"I don't know, Edward."

"Why don't we just plan it out first, and then you can tell me whether or not you think you can do what we set up?" I asked and she sighed, nodding. I could see the inner turmoil that she was experiencing all over her face. Her normally porcelain skin appeared slightly green then, worrying me even more. "Are you okay, Bella?"

"I'm sorry." She squeaked. "Just nervous."

"You'll have lots of time to relax this Saturday…on our date." I winked at her and she did a complete one-eighty, her face beaming at the mention of our date. I knew that she'd be excited to go out. "I've got just about all of the details planned out. I'm counting on it being the best date you've ever gone on."

"Now that you've said that, I am too." She was bouncing in her seat, her chocolate eyes shining with a renewed excitement. "Where are we going?"

"That's for me to know and you to find out." I smirked and her brow furrowed.

"Come on, Edward. That's not fair!" She whined like a toddler, crossed her arms, and leaned back in her seat. I laughed lightly and shrugged. I knew that she would love the date and I wasn't going to ruin her surprise. I was going to make the experience as fun for her as possible, if it was the last thing I did.

"You'll be thankful I kept it secret. Trust me." I told her the truth.

"If you insist."

"I do." I grinned cheekily, watching as my girl rolled her eyes and went back to eating from her bowl of grapes.


I woke up to the sound of knocking on my door. I prayed that it wasn't Edward. He had told me that he'd be picking me up for our date at eleven and it was only nine-thirty. I crept into the kitchen and peaked out the side window. Confusion swept through me when I found Esme standing out on my front steps. It was cold out, so I ran over to quickly let her into the house.

"Esme!" I greeted her and she chuckled, stepping inside and locking the door behind her.

"I'm here to help prepare you for your day out."

"How long are we going to be gone?" I asked curiously. Edward wouldn't even tell me that much.

"You are staying at our house tonight because you won't be getting back in until late." She told me quickly and my jaw dropped. Edward wasn't going to inform me that our date was going to be a sleepover? What did he expect me to wear? Esme grabbed my wrist and dragged me back to my room. "My son sent me to dress you. He said it's a surprise and that I'm not to tell you about the date."

"Lovely." I pouted. Leave it to Edward to think things through, even to the tiniest of detail.

"You'll enjoy it though," she said, quickly backtracking. "I promise."

"I hope so." I began grabbing towels. "I'm going to quickly shower. You can go through my clothes and do what you need to do."

"Okay." She smiled softly. "Remember to relax. Today is going to be stress free for you two. No worrying or fretting."

"Of course." I called back, shutting the bathroom door behind me.

I didn't waste time getting in the shower and getting out. I scrubbed my hair and conditioned it twice, wanting it to be extra soft. I also quickly shaved anything that needed shaved, just in case, and found myself scrubbing my entire body in the freesia shampoo that Edward loved so much. As a last touch, I scrubbed my face and brushed my teeth. When I was done, I shut the water off and dried myself as quickly as possible. I felt rushed because I knew that Esme was waiting for me in my room. On that note, I tied a towel very tightly around my body and walked out to find out what she was going to have me wear.

"What's with the coat and stuff?" I eyed the coat, mittens, thick tights, scarf, and hat. "Are we going to be outside?"

"You'll see. I promise you've got enough. You're taking your packed bag in the car, just in case." She held up a bag filled with clothes. "I'd grab your toiletries for the night over."

"Got 'em." I held up my small bag and she gladly packed it into the duffel bag.

"Good. Let's do your hair and makeup." She led me over to the chair in my bathroom and had me sit in it, keeping my towel securely wrapped around me. I relaxed as she pulled out a blow dryer and began blowing my hair so that it was a natural wave. When she finished, she turned me around and began applying my makeup.

I could tell, just while she applied it, that she was keeping it light. At one point she was explaining to me what all of the different makeup things were. I raised my eyebrows when she told me she was using her nice, BareMinerals makeup. I had heard the name and seen the brand through my mother. It wasn't the kind of makeup that my Step Mother could have ever afforded. I wouldn't argue with the fact that it was the lightest makeup I had ever worn.

"Isn't that stuff…like…really expensive?" I asked.

"Maybe. I'm a doctor, I'm married to a doctor, and we're both very comfortable financially. I hate to say it so black and white, but money is no object for me." She explained and I nodded. I was perfectly aware of how loaded she and Carlisle were. Not that I would have ever commented on it. "If you marry in, you'll never worry about a thing again."

"Don't say that." I whispered, letting my eyes open. She was staring at me, her perfectly waxed eyebrows pinching together. I sighed, sitting up straighter. "You can't say stuff like that. I've never once looked at you guys for your money. My mother has money. If I was after the big bucks, I'd ditch you and continue to travel with her and Phil. If…if I were to ever marry into your family, it would be because I love all of you. Because I can't imagine spending a single day of the rest of my life without Edward in it. Not because I'd be more than financially secure."

"No! Of course not! I didn't mean to imply that, Bella. I know you and I know you aren't like that." She shook her head fast, her eyes wide with shock. "Bella, sweetheart, I know you're not like that. Of course not."

"I just wanted to make that clear." I relaxed into my seat. "Because you guys are family to me and I don't want anyone doubting that. Had somebody overheard you saying that…it just wouldn't be right."

"You're right." She smoothed over the top of my hair with her hands before picking her makeup tools back up. "And I want to remind you that we love you like family too. I don't know whether you and Edward have officially told each other or not, but-"

"We haven't." I added, my cheeks heating up. "I know I love him, and if you tell him that I will personally flush all of your makeup down the toilet!" I pointed at her and she gave me a hearty laugh in response. "I'm just not ready to scare him off."

"Oh please. He's probably just waiting for you to say it because he doesn't want to freak you out." She laughed again and I shrugged, letting her finish up the final touches on my eye makeup.

"I'm not risking it." I spoke under my breath.

"Bella, look at me." She tapped my shoulder and my eyes snapped open. She was closer to me, her hands resting firmly on my shoulders. I waited patiently as she seemed to be gathering her words. "Bella…I know you're both new at this…but what is love without risks? You cannot be in love if you're not able to take risks."

"You guys are everything to me. If things went wrong…if we split up." I spoke the words through a thick throat. Even my body didn't want to speak about such a dark idea. I couldn't picture my life without the Cullens. Once they were there, they were there for good.

"Just think about what I said, honey. You don't have to go confessing your eternal love today…but I want you to be aware that you're not the only scared one in this little thing you guys are doing." She told me sternly and I nodded quickly. I wasn't sure what to make of her words – whether I was supposed to actually act on them or simply be aware of them. Esme had to have everything figured out first and she had to leave the rest of us in the dust.

Without saying another word, she turned me around so that I could see my reflection in the mirror. I smiled. I was still undressed, but my hair rested just a few inches above my elbows and my makeup was done up real light. I looked pretty. A slow, soft smile began to appear on my face and Esme giggled when she realized that I was seriously pleased with the look. I almost looked as though I belonged with Edward.

"Let me get your clothes." She murmured and then disappeared for a moment. When she came back, she handed me my outfit and then disappeared out the door again, closing it behind her.

I frowned at the sight of the underwear that she had provided. They were pretty, sure, but they weren't something that I normally wore. I noticed that they still had tags on them, only someone, Esme, had torn off the price labels on them. It was a bra and panty set, in Edward's favorite midnight blue, lacy, and my exact size. I put them on, deciding to ignore how much snooping Esme had probably done to figure out what sizes I wore.

I then proceeded to put on the black tights that she had given me. They were thicker than most tights that I wore, thicker than leggings. That indicated to me that we were going somewhere cold. I shook my head as I put on the snug, long sleeved, black dress. It had a scoop neck and was even thicker than the tights that I had donned. The dresses' bodice and sleeves wrapped my skin smoothly but snugly. The bottom half of it flared out a bit, but not so much that it was awkward looking. It was cute. I added the scarf last. It was red and green, but more red than green. I felt rather festive as I walked out to meet Esme in my room.

"Oh! You look dazzling." She giggled. "One more touch."

I watched as she pulled another necklace and earrings out.

"Esme, no…I don't want to lose your jewelry!" I had no doubt in my mind that her jewelry was all completely authentic and expensive, and probably meaningful in some way. The necklace was on a simple, silver chain and had an emerald, multi-faceted teardrop hanging delicately from it. The earrings were just tiny, emerald studs. They matched the thin, green plaid on the scarf. "They're beautiful, but what if I lose these?"

"Bella, I trust you." She laughed, brushed my hair over my shoulder, and then put all of the jewelry on.

"I don't." I muttered, fingering the small necklace.

"You'll be fine." She slid my red flats towards me. "There's extra socks and stuff in your bag. You'll understand when you get there."

"Great." I flipped my coat over my arm and stuck the mittens and hat in the pocket. I wanted to dress warmly, but I knew that if I stood inside while wearing my coat and stuff, I would adjust to the heat and that they wouldn't do me any good outside.

I made Esme coffee and we chatted for twenty minutes before Edward arrived. When he did, he knocked on the door. I smiled at her before excusing myself to let him in. He had arrived at eleven on the dot.

"Trying to brown-nose me?" I winked and he laughed, pulling a bouquet from behind his back. I recognized the flowers easily, as Sue had worked as a part-time florist and taught me a lot about them during the one summer that I stayed with her and my dad. The bunch included Anemones, which meant unfading love, Asters, which meant simple love, red Carnations, which represented an aching love, Calia Lillies, beauty, some Baby's Breath, for the innocence in our love, and finally a single red rose. That also meant love. I wasn't sure if he had thought about it so thoroughly, so I didn't let on that I knew so much about the flowers.

"Are you okay?" Edward asked and I found myself lifting my hands to my mouth. I nodded, my vision blurring with tears. "Shit! I made you cry already?"

"No! I just…thank you!" I laughed, brushing my thumbs on my lower eyelids, keeping the tears at bay, and quickly took the bouquet. "Your mother's in the kitchen. Let's go put these in a vase."

"You look simply dashing, honey!" Esme spoke and I finally looked at Edward. He was wearing nice, dark-wash jeans and a green, long sleeved shirt. He wore a black coat over the shirt and his hair was tousled wildly on top of his head. He did look dashing. He looked perfect.

"Thanks, Ma." He kissed her cheek as I filled a glass vase with water and put the flowers in them.

"Honey, did you tell Bella why you picked each of the flowers?" She patted his back and his cheeks instantly turned pink.

"I wondered if you knew the meaning behind these." I spoke up, breathing in the bouquet's sweet scent. "Sue used to work as a part time florist." I explained and Edward's eyes widened. "I kind of know a lot about flowers."

"So, I don't have to explain each one?" He asked and I shrugged.

"I think I got the message."

I didn't hang around to keep chatting as I rushed the flowers back to my room. I wasn't leaving them out. Just in case Renee had forgotten something and flew in at random. I didn't need her hurting my first real present from Edward. When I walked back in, Edward had picked up my coat and was waiting on me to slip into it. I thanked him graciously and carefully stuck my arms into the sleeves, stepping away from him as I got situated. He casually ran his hands down my arms before handing me the dark green, almost black, gloves that he had removed from the pockets.

"Thank you." I smiled, slipping them on and slipping my phone in my pocket. Esme handed me the matching hat. I slipped it on as well, letting it cover my ears.

"Ready to go?" Edward asked and I nodded excitedly.

"Goodbye," Esme spoke, leaning up to kiss Edward on the cheek. Just before I turned to follow him to the door, she pulled me into a hug and planted a kiss on my forehead. "Have a good time, Bella. Try not to think too much."

"Thank you, Esme." I agreed and then rushed to catch up with Edward, who was holding the front door open for us. Esme went out and straight to her Jeep. I followed Edward to his Volvo, where he gallantly held my door open for me.

"Thanks." I repeated, climbing in and turning on the heat for him. He closed my door and ran around, climbing in next to me. I took my gloves and hat off while we were in the car.

He flipped on the Relient K Christmas album and began humming along. As we drove out of Port Angeles, the humming turned to singing. I couldn't help but sing along with him. As my voice grew, I stuck my hand in the middle and grabbed his. He squeezed it reassuringly and grinned widely at me, not stopping his song. I felt genuinely happy as we sped towards Olympia.

My phone began ringing and Edward turned the radio down so that it was low. I felt my eyes widen when I realized it was my dad. I had told him that I was spending the weekend alone, before I left his house and knew about the date, and that he could call me whenever he wanted. I even offered for him to drop by if he had time. I glanced nervously at Edward, who nodded knowingly as I clicked the answer button and put it on speaker.


"Hey, Bella. You said you would be bored today, so I thought I would give you a call while I filled out paperwork." My dad's gruff voice came from the other end.

"You didn't have to call me if you're busy." I told him and he laughed.

"Nah, I've got plenty of time." He blew it off and I cursed mentally.


"Are you alright, Bella?" Charlie's voice suddenly grew suspicious.

"I'm perfect." I answered honestly.

"What are you doing?" He asked more specifically and I bit my lip. Edward whispered a solution to me and I nodded.

"I'm going shopping, in Olympia, with Esme Cullen."

"Really?" He sounded surprised.

"Yeah…she was off today but the boys weren't and asked if I would mind giving her company." I added onto the lie and I could tell that Charlie had bought it. Hook, line, and sinker. "Sorry…I know I told you I was going to be laying around all day. Her call was pretty last minute."

"No. Don't let me bother you. Have fun with her and tell her I said thank you." He told me and I felt a bit guilty for leaving him out of the loop. He was being way too nice about me and Esme, and I knew that he was happy that I was bonding with some female figure.

"I will. Sorry for not being able to talk. I'll call you tomorrow for sure." I told him and he laughed. "I love you, Dad."

"I love you too." He sighed heavily. "Be good and keep your seatbelt on."

"Always." I said before the line went dead. I let out a relieved sigh as I shoved the phone back into my pocket. I then turned to Edward. "Sorry for the interruption. I told him, last weekend, that he could call me on the weekend because I wouldn't be doing anything. I forgot to call him and tell him that I was going to be doing something though."

"Don't even worry about it." He shook his head and I smiled thankfully. Edward was way too kind.

"Where are we going?" I finally asked.

"First, we're going to lunch. Then we're going to the main part of our date. Then we'll drop by my house to get my things, and then on to my parent's house." He explained and I thanked him. That wasn't as much detail as I wanted, but it was the most I was getting.

We pulled into the parking lot of a fancy, Mexican restaurant. Edward went around and helped me out, holding my hand the entire walk in. It was very nice, especially a place that had a 'Taco Tuesday' sign out front. There was a hostess, who seemed a bit too into Edward as she led us to our reserved table. I tried not to hiss at her as she seated us and gave us our menus…with her back turned to me.

"What can I get you?" She asked Edward and I cleared my throat, surprising myself. She turned to face me, her eyebrows raised. "Sorry. I'll ask your sister first."

"I'm not his sister. I'm his girlfriend. I'll have a Coke. Thanks."

"We only serve Pepsi products here." She sneered and I narrowed my eyes at her.

"Same difference."

She grumbled something about it not being the same thing as she turned back to Edward. He asked for a Pepsi and then some privacy while we looked over the menus. As soon as she was gone, Edward snorted and gave me a look. I gaped at him, only spurring his laughter on. I couldn't believe he was laughing at me. It wasn't my fault that he was so attractive and that all of the girls flocked blindly to him.

When the girl returned, I ordered two tacos and some pinto beans. Edward got a weird, burrito combo. The girl winked at him as she walked away and he all but sneered at her as she did. I couldn't help but laugh at his face. He was getting completely annoyed with her quickly, and that only helped ease me because I was already pissed off at the nutbag.

We got our food and the girl didn't bother us again until we left. We chatted quietly as we ate. The restaurant was fairly busy and there was an open floor in the middle of the tables. I noticed Edward glancing towards it a few times and I couldn't help but grow skeptical of him. I didn't know what he had up his sleeve, nor did I trust him. The music that was playing lightly in the background grew in volume as we finished our meals. Edward stood and walked around to me, held out his hand, and asked me to dance.

I was shocked.

"D-dance? Edward…nobody's dancing." My eyes scanned the room. Not a single person was even standing.

"I wasn't asking the rest of the room to dance with me." He winked. "You don't know anybody here, Bella. We're not being judged here. Dane with me."

"Fine…" I sighed, taking my scarf off. I had taken the gloves, hat, and coat off when we arrived. It was a rather snug restaurant. Despite the cold weather outside, the room was in no way cool.

Edward led me to the middle of the dance floor, took my left hand into his, and wrapped his other arm tightly around my waist. The song that was playing was very upbeat and had no lyrics. It reminded me of a Natasha Bedingfield song I had heard once. The song fit our situation oddly well. As our pace picked up, I found myself singing the words to Edward. He beamed at me, most likely happy to see me let go a little.

"You get me out of my seat. It's like I've been in bed for a week. I've been slippin' 'n' slidin' all over the place, and nobody cares. And I'm such a disgrace. You get me out of my mood, that's something only you can do, 'cause I feel like I'm home when I'm in your arms. And that's why I need you to..." I picked my voice up at the chorus, moving us in quick circles. "Cheer me up. Come on dance with me. And you take my hand. Cheer me up. Even if we're the only ones dancing. Cheer me up. Please, won't you cheer me up? Even if we're the only ones dancing."

I noticed two other couples, one of them being a cute, Hispanic, elderly couple joined us on the floor then. Edward twirled me, forcing me to sing louder during the chorus. For the others who were dancing, of course.

I also may have been having a little bit too much fun pretending to be in a musical.

"Give me a reason to smile, the kind that will last for a while. Like only you know how. Make it okay now. You got your ways to make this girl's day. It's the magic that's in your touch; it makes everything mean so much. The poetry in your eyes is enough in itself to take me to a high...whooo... you gotta cheer me up!" I giggled before beginning the second chorus. "Cheer me up. Come on dance with me. And you take my hand. Cheer me up. Even if we're the only ones dancing. Cheer me up. Please, won't you cheer me up? Even if we're the only ones dancing."

Edward did one of those things where he took both of my hands and flipped us around. I laughed and pulled us back close, wrapping my arms tightly around his torso as he swayed us back and forth.

"You turn my frown upside down. My smile's lost 'n' found when you are around. You turn my frown upside down. My smile's lost 'n' found when you are around." I pressed a kiss onto Edward's cheek before continuing. "Cheer me up. Come on dance with me. And you take my hand. Cheer me up. Even if we're the only ones dancing. Cheer me up. Please, won't you cheer me up? Even if we're the only ones dancing."

He buried his face in my neck and I leaned into his embrace, letting him be close for a moment. My voice softened, but not so much that the others couldn't hear me.

"Only you got the magic, only you got the key to my heart. To my heart, yeah. Only you got the magic, only you got the way to my heart. Even if were the only ones dancing! I've been last in line forever; I want a part of it. Even just a little bit. Happiness can last forever; I want a part of it. Even just a little bit. Even if we're the only ones dancing." The music stopped before I could finish, as I had started singing after the song started, but I sang the last line anyway. "If happiness can last forever. I want a part of it. Even just a little bit. Even if we're the only ones dancing."

When I stopped singing, the music shut off and Edward lifted his head to kiss me on the forehead. The other four couples, two more had joined, and then some of the other diners clapped for us. I giggled and hid my bashful face in Edward's chest. He waived at the others before leading us back to our seats.

"Have a drink." He passed me his Pepsi, I had already finished mine. "Your face is bright red."

"I'm not winded…just embarrassed." I giggled, peeking through my hair and noticing that everyone else had slowly returned to their food. "I got all High School Musical. I didn't think that happened in real life."

"High school what?" Edward asked me, laughing and I shrugged.

"I guess it's a little ahead of your time. I'm probably a little too old to make references to it too. It's a Disney movie that came out a few years ago. Clara is obsessed with it." I explained and he nodded, a constant grin on his face. "It's a movie, and now a trilogy, where these kids are in high school and they just sing. The title is pretty much all there is to it."

"Sounds cute." He teased and I rolled my eyes.

"Not it doesn't." I pushed his empty cup back to him. "Sorry."

"Don't apologize." He shrugged. "Ready to hit the road?"

I glanced at my phone. It was after three already. I nodded and followed as Edward paid for our lunch and led me to his car. Before we went outside, I stopped to put my scarf and then gloves on. Edward was pushing my hat down on my head, making sure to stretch it down over my eyes, when the older couple from earlier approached us. I had to pull the hat off and redo it, but I was laughing too much to care.

"You have a beautiful voice!" The woman praised me, patting my cheek. I blushed and glanced at Edward.

'That's what I'm always telling her. I'm trying to convince her to take a solo in her school's Christmas concert that's coming up." Edward told them and my smile turned to a glower. I noticed that he didn't say, 'our school's'.

"Oh! Yes! And you two should dance in it!"

"I can't dance." I burst out laughing. "But thank you."

"I'm not joking." He shrugged. "That was a very nice performance. Kaure and I haven't danced like that in years!"

"Bella tends to bring out the happiness in people," Edward spoke, wrapping his arm around my shoulders and kissing the top of my hat-covered head.

"Please. Edward brings out the child in me." I giggled.

"That's how I felt about Gustavo." The woman, Kaure, smiled and patted her husband's bigger belly. I smiled softly at them, praying that I could be as happy as them when I was their age.

"We have a second half of our date to catch, but I'm happy that we got to meet." Edward nodded towards the couple and then shook Gustavo's hand.

"Us as well! You're a beautiful girl with a beautiful talent! Please, for me, sing at that Christmas concert!"

"I can't say no to you." I spoke honestly, my smile growing.

When Edward and I finally got back on the road, he didn't turn the music back on. We talked about the concert and what it would entail. He explained that I had three song slots to fill during the show and that they should be winter or Christmas related. I was still slightly uneasy towards the idea of having to perform in front of the whole school, parents, and, of course, my own parents. I had forgotten about my stage fright while performing in class because I had gotten so used to the, 'it's only you and Edward,' state of mind.

"Penny for your thoughts?" Edward asked. I wondered how long it had been since I had actually spoken to him.

"Just trying to figure out how I'm supposed to be okay with singing in front of so many people." I spoke with an undertone, attempting to sound a little bit more secure. He had no idea. The butterflies in my stomach were going wild, and I knew that if I didn't get over things, I would feel that way until the concert was over.

"So, repeatedly telling you that you have talent isn't going to cut it, huh?" He asked and I shot him a look. He sighed and looked back towards the road. "Bella…what do you do in class that makes it so easy?"

"It's never so easy. It's only easy when it's just you and me. So, in class, I pretend we're the only ones in the room. It helps." I explained and he nodded.

"And you can't do that for the concert?"

"I'm just afraid it won't work with so many people. Will I be able to forget everyone else in the room?" I asked and he looked at me, nodding with understanding in his green eyes. That was why I didn't mind singing with him. He understood me.

"Did you forget everyone while we were dancing?"

"Yes, but I think the proximity between you and I had something to do with that." I told him and he just nodded, humming with thought.

That was when we pulled into the parking lot. I looked up and felt my eyes widen at the sight of an outdoor, public skating rink. Edward was unbuckling his seatbelt and putting his hat and gloves on. I just gaped at him, unable to make sense of things. He brought me skating? I wondered, for a moment, if he was really that much of an idiot. I couldn't skate. I could barely walk on a flat, dry surface in regular shoes without breaking my neck. Edward seemed to sense my trepidation and stopped to look at me.

"You'll be fine. You can hang onto me." He got really close and breathed the words at me. I sighed softly and nodded. I should have argued, but all I could do was be dazzled by him and go with it. I grabbed the socks and legwarmers that Esme had packed for me. Edward was waiting patiently next to me. As soon as I had everything, I linked my arm with his and followed him to the skate checkout.

"What's your size?" The creepy guy at the counter leaned forward, speaking with a perverted undertone. His eyes lingered on me and I felt my eyes widen. I had no idea if there was an actual innuendo to what he had said, or if his tone was all he needed. Edward cleared his throat, stepped in front of me, and gave the weirdo both of our sizes. He sneered at Edward but did as he asked, grabbing two pairs of skates.

"Thanks." Edward all but spat, grabbed my arm, and pretty much dragged me to one of the benches where we could put our skates on our feet.

"I never want to hear you make fun of me for being jealous ever again!" I laughed as he knelt in front of me and began pulling my flats off.

I slipped my leg warmers onto my legs and let him put the skates on. He laced and tied them quickly before doing his own from the ground. I stared at the weird looking shoes for a while, zoning out as he finished up. I was overwhelmingly nervous about joining the crowd in the rink. I had never skated before and just picturing myself on the ice made me want to cry.

"Ready to hit the ice?" Edward stood, looking all too capable on his skates as he walked to the wall. I didn't budge. He walked back over and held out his arms. I gripped them the best I could while wearing mittens and he carefully pulled me to my feet. When I moved to take a step, I stumbled quickly and he yanked me to his chest. I gasped and closed my eyes, waiting for the fall. He leaned in to whisper in my ear. "I've got you."

"You can't hold onto me forever." I spoke, slightly out of breath from the moment of panic.

"As long as you'll have me, I think I will." He winked and I glowered at him, but followed him out and onto the rink anyway.

We scooted onto a bit of the rink that wasn't very crowded. Edward had me wait by the wall while he gave me examples on how to actually skate. I watched as he pushed his feet forward on to the ice and kept his arms locked to his sides as he did so. When he returned to me, he had me do it while keeping my hands on the wall and his hands on my waist. It took me at least twenty minutes to figure out what to do with my feet, and even then I was barely inching along.

"You're getting it." He exclaimed and I glared at him. I knew he wasn't being sarcastic with me, but he should have been.

"Edward, this is hard." I whined and he laughed.

"Just keep trying. Move a little faster. A little farther." He motioned and I nodded, pushing my feet a bit further with each step. I was moving a little bit faster.

"Can I hold onto you now?" I asked once we were steadily making our way around the side of the rink.

The other skaters zoomed past us, their speed and grace completely out of my league. I tried not to focus on them, but rather the beautiful man who was holding his arms out to me. I pushed off of the wall and drifted into his arms. He wrapped his arms around my waist as we steadied again, and then moved so that only one was around me. We continued to slowly skate around at that point. There was nothing graceful about the way that we trudged around the sides, away from everyone else.

After about an hour of chatting and moving, I began to feel more comfortable in my skates. Edward had loosened his grip to a more comfortable stance, and I was wanting to move a little bit quicker.

"Can I try on my own?" I asked and he laughed but nodded.

"Let's move so that we're holding hands, and if you feel ready, we'll let go." He explained and I nodded excitedly.

We separated enough so that we were holding hands. I stumbled but was able to catch my balance quickly.

"Remember, before we let go, it's like running." He told me and I thought of all of our cross country practices. I didn't tell him that I disagreed one hundred percent, because running wasn't slippery or freaky, but rather just nodded in acknowledgement. As my hand slipped from his, he laughed. "You can do this."

"I think I can." I nodded, moving a little faster. He quickened his snail-pace to keep up. It didn't take long for us both to be gliding around the rink. I was surprised by how quickly I had gotten used to it. I hadn't actually fallen once. That thought led to a confidence and speed boost.

"You're doing great!" Edward laughed at me as he breezed by me, his hands behind his head and a smirk on his face. We were winding through people at that point, and I couldn't believe that he was relaxed enough to go backwards. He turned around and then tossed over his shoulder. "See if you can catch me!"

He sped up immensely, disappearing into the crowd. I raised my eyebrows but took the challenge without thinking much. I picked up my stride, making each of my legs' movements longer and smoother. I could see him then, just small glimpses of his head between others. He had taken off his hat and it was impossible to miss his wild hair.

"Edward!" I laughed, pushing through and around, growing out of breath from the mixture of laughing and running.

I wasn't as close to him as I wanted to be when I began to go too fast. I wasn't able to gain control of my legs, but I had to keep them close to me because I was still in the crowd. I let out a frantic cry and shoved my arms out in hopes to catch the bit of balance that I had been going on. When that didn't happen, my foot got caught on something. It knocked my legs from underneath me and the action shoved me towards the ground. My head hit the ice with a smack, my hat and hair keeping the hit from being as sharp as it could have been.

While on the ground, I could see everyone's razor sharp skates zooming past me. I naturally pulled my legs and arms in, keeping my hands by my face in hopes to protect it. I was still sliding across the ice, getting knocked around. I finally slowed to a stop facing the other way. My eyes, which I had closed unknowingly, slipped open and I realized that people were just going around me. A scream bubbled up in my lungs when one person didn't see me and was headed straight for me.

In my panic, I didn't notice somebody grabbing my ankle from outside of the crowd and yanking it. I slid towards whoever had pulled me to the middle of the rink, missing the careless skater's blades by a fraction of a second. I didn't realize that I was bawling until Edward pulled my body into his lap and brushed my tangled hair out of my face, cooing and asking me if I was okay.

"Edward…" I sobbed, looking up.

"Bella? Did you get hit? Are you okay?" He searched my body for any injuries. I shook my head, which ached a bit with the motion.

"I think I hit my head." I moaned, rubbing my temple that hit the ice.

"It looks a bit swollen." He murmured, shaking his head. "I'm so sorry. That was idiotic of me. Let's get you home."

"I don't want to go home!" I cried out and his eyes widened.

"I meant to my house and Carlisle's…" He clarified after realizing that I was picturing my house when he said that. Not his. My heart picked up when I realized that he considered his home to be mind. "We need to make sure you don't have a concussion."

"Right…" I sniffled, nodding very gently. Edward got to his knees and helped me up, carefully leading me towards the exit. I waited, with my head down, while Edward returned our skates and retrieved my skates. I put them on, watching him cautiously as he put his shoes on. He looked upset and that only made me angry. Angry at myself for ruining our date.

"Come on," he spoke softly, pulling me carefully into his side and leading me to his car. I held him tightly and leaned up to kiss him on the cheek before climbing into the passenger side. He quietly closed the door and went around to the driver's side.

Ten minutes into the hour long drive home, I realized that he was really upset. He hadn't uttered a word since we left the rink and wore a constant mask of anger on his face. I couldn't place what he was angry about though. It sucked that our date had gone wrong, but I certainly wasn't mad. We had fun while it lasted, we were together, and that was all that really mattered to me. I wondered if he felt the same way. And based on his reaction, he probably did not.

I let my sore head rest on the cool window and barely noticed when new tears began forming. I was so zoned out, trying to figure out why Edward was mad, that I didn't notice much during the first half hour of our car ride. Edward glanced at me and did a sudden double take, his eyes widening for unknown reasons. I glanced back at him, but didn't focus too hard.

"Are you crying?" He asked and my bottom lip began quivering, only giving me away that much more. "Does your head hurt that much? Should I take you to the ER?"

I just shook my head. His brow furrowed before his jaw slackened.

"Bella…I'm sorry things didn't go well. We can reschedule or something, I guess." He shrugged and I didn't make any movement towards answering him. He didn't sound all that thrilled about a second date. I should have known that this was just a regular first date. I had assumed that having a relationship before the date would change the standards. I pursed my lips, preventing them from letting any noises escape, and looked back out the window. He sighed. "You're still crying. I'm sorry for being a jerk."

I frowned and looked at him. My voice was thick when I finally spoke. "When were you a jerk?"

"I shouldn't have pushed you so hard. It was your first time skating. You had no business going that fast, much less going that fast in a crowd." He explained and I shook my head. When I didn't responded he groaned. "Talk to me, Bella."

"I should say the same to you." I sniffled.

"I'm talking!" He argued, his eyes surprised when they looked at me.

"Why are you mad?" I asked him, my cries becoming vocal. "I told you I couldn't skate. All we had to do was go out for lunch or something, and then it would have been fine. It's not my fault."

"Of course it's not your fault!" He turned, slowing the car on the nearly empty highway. He seemed to be paying more attention to me than he was to the road. His eyes looked to be in a sudden panic, and I couldn't make out the exact emotions swirling behind them. "Bella, do you really think that I'm mad at you?"

"I ruined our first date." I blubbered and he groaned.

"No, you did not. I shouldn't have let you go while we were skating. Not that far. I was responsible for forcing you into skating, I was responsible for anything that happened to you. I'm definitely not mad at you, I'm not upset in the least, but I am mad at myself. I took you out and you were almost seriously injured. Only now you're only slightly injured." He explained, shaking his head.

"It's not your fault either…" I added. "I knew what I could and couldn't do…I was just caught up in the moment. Like you. Things happen…and things happen to me constantly."

"I disagree." He murmured.

"You can drop me off at my house, if you want." I whispered, my voice a light croak. His eyes narrowed.

"Why the hell would I do that, Bella?"

"I don't know…I just figured you'd want a break for the day." I pulled my hat off and ran my hand through my hair. The hat wasn't helping with my headache and the car was warm enough for me to not wear it and be comfortable.

"A break?" He asked flatly and I nodded slowly.

"You're also…you're also not obligated to take me out again." I spoke even lower, my heart aching so much at the thought of him leaving that I wanted to start crying again.

"Not obligated? I didn't realize this was an obligation." He muttered and I shrugged. I wasn't sure what it was to him. I knew he liked me, he had done enough for me to prove that he wanted to know me better, but I wasn't sure how he felt about the train wreck first date. That was just a small insight towards a life with me. I was a danger magnet just asking for trouble. He didn't need all of that unnecessary drama. He pulled me from my reverie by speaking again. "Bella…"

"Wh-what?" I asked and he held his hand out. I slipped my hand into it. I had already removed my gloves. He rubbed the back of my hand with his thumb as we drove, his face showing that he was thinking.

"Bella…I went out with you today because I wanted to. Not for any other possible reason. I eat lunch with you every day, hang out with you after school, and talk to you on the phone until one of us falls asleep because I want to. You're really the only person that I ever want to be around this much and I still feel like we don't spend enough time together." He squeezed my hand and pulled it all the way to his lips before letting both of them sit on the center console. "I bring you to spend time with my parents and make sure I'm the first person to help you when something happens because I need to. Not because I'm obligated and certainly not because I feel obligated."

"I know we're best friends…I just wonder sometimes." I pulled his hand to my face and leaned into his palm before turning to kiss it. "I'm sorry for not trusting you like I should have."

"And I'm sorry for not giving you enough reason to trust me."

"Don't be." I sighed, putting our hands back in the middle. "How about we both just move past this?"

"That sounds perfect. Also, you are coming home with me tonight and the two of us are going to go out again very soon."


"It'll be a much safer date too, I promise." He winked and I giggled, glancing out the window.

We were just on the outskirts of Forks. We drove to his house, where he grabbed the bag that he had already packed and then led me back out to his car. We got to his parents' house shortly after, and Edward surprised me by parking in the garage. I had never been in their massive garage and I couldn't help but be surprised by the size. It held several nice cars, including Esme's Jeep, Carlisle's Mercedes, another fancy one that looked nicer than both of those, and then another Mercedes. I let out a low whistle.

"My parents have a thing for cars." Edward explained and I nodded. I was aware.

"It's nicer in this garage than it is in my entire house." I murmured and he laughed, shaking his head.

"Hush. You live in a lovely house."

"I know, but look at this place! I knew Esme was one for decorating…but the garage?"

"I know. It's all my mother's doings." He shrugged. "Ready to go inside?"

"Sure." I climbed out and he pouted.

"I was going to get your door for you!"

"I'm fine." I giggled and grabbed my bag from the back seat. "I am capable of doing small things without you. I did all of them on my own before I knew you."

"And I have to make up for all of those years that nobody was chivalrous with you!" He explained, tossing his bag over his shoulder and meeting me on the other side of the car. I leaned up against the side of it, crossing my arms.

"You don't have to be so chivalrous all the time." I told him and he chuckled, stepping toward me.


"No." I shook my head, ignoring the ache that presided in my temple.

I grabbed him by the collar of his coat and pulled him down to me. He grinned wickedly, his eyes finding mine for only a moment. They closed instantly when I pressed my lips to his, kissing him strongly. I was trying to portray the feelings of relief and love, the words that I wasn't ready to say out loud. He chuckled into my lips and didn't end the kiss.

My arms tightened around his neck and he lifted me onto the back of the car, pressing our bodies tightly together. I felt his tongue glide lightly along my upper lip and I opened my mouth, allowing both of our tongues to touch. We continued to make out until we were panting and our hands were roaming all over each other. I wondered briefly if that could be considered a makeup make out session after our tiny fight.

Edward's lips pulled away from mine and he began kissing along my jaw, down my neck, and across my exposed collarbone. I breathed heavily, grabbing at his thick, soft hair. I continued to massage his scalp as his lips explored the skin between my neckline and lips. He slid the shoulder of my dress over and kissed his way over, where he began sucking on the skin there, most likely leaving a mark. I moaned softly and clung to him.

Of course, the door opened then, and in walked Esme. She gasped loudly and the door slammed closed as she backed into the house again. My face turned what I'm sure was the brightest shade of red that it had ever been as Edward pulled away and attempted to straighten himself out.

"Shit, I'm sorry." He breathed, his voice husky as he buttoned the bottom two buttons of his shirt. I had unbuttoned them while trying to feel him up. The thought only made my face grow hotter. I straightened my dress out and put my scarf back on, covering most of my flushed skin as I did so.

"Do I look okay?" I asked softly and he nodded, running his fingers through my hair, combing it out a little.

"You look beautiful, as always." He said and I giggled. My eyes drifted to the door.

"I can't believe Esme walked in on us."

"I know." Edward shook his head. "She probably heard us pull in and wanted to know what was taking so long. Leave it to my mother to forget how most dates end."

"Okay. Let's go." I stood, picked up my discarded bag and accessories, and then followed him into the house. Esme was standing at the counter, giggling away as we walked in and began placing our things on the table.

"I'm sorry! I heard you guys pull in, but when you spent twenty minutes out there, I got genuinely worried! I hadn't realized you two were so…physical already. Otherwise I would have understood!" She laughed and we shook our heads. She glanced between the two of us as her laughter stopped. We didn't say anything but rather just stood there. Her eyes stopped on me, of course, before her expression of hilarity turned into worry. "Are you alright?"

"Just a little embarrassed…" I explained and she shook her head, stood, and ran over. I was confused until she brushed my hair out of the way and began checking out the swelling lump on my temple, where I had hit the ice.

"What on Earth did you do?" She gasped, pressing her fingers lightly into both sides of my head. I cringed because of the pain and she shook her head.

"I was going a little bit too fast and I fell…and landed on my head, on the ice." I explained and she shook her head.

"You could have a concussion! You two should have been in here, getting this checked out, as soon as possible!" She scolded and I shrugged.

"It didn't hurt that bad and we had to discuss some things."

"Didn't hurt that bad? You have a knot the size of a golf ball on your head, Isabella." She reprimanded. She then proceeded to wrap her arm around my waist and begin leading me to the other room. "Come on. Let's go make sure your brain isn't bleeding."

"Not funny, Mother." Edward all but growled, sitting down beside me on the couch.

"I'm not joking." She handed me a ponytail. "Pull your hair back, honey."

I did as I was instructed while Esme collected her things. Edward took my hand while she did her checkup. I waited patiently as she checked my breathing and my heart rate. She murmured something about it being a little fast, but when Edward squeezed my hand it began racing again, and she had her answer. She checked my pulse on my wrist and my reflexes before going through a series of random questions.

"Sing the alphabet backwards, please." She asked and my eyes widened. I shot Edward a glance before looking back at her and swallowing.

"I can't do that without a concussion."

"Fine. Days of the week backwards."

"Starting on which day?" I questioned and Edward snorted beside me.

"Don't be difficult." She glowered at me and I giggled.

"Sunday, Saturday, Friday, Thursday, Wednesday, Tuesday, and Monday. It starts over there."

"What day is it now?"


"What color is the sky?"

"Gray." I shot back and she gave me a questioning look. "In Forks, I mean."

"I'll take that." She nodded, muttering something about me being as 'witty' as usual. "Does your head, or anything else, hurt?"

"Not really. It hurts when you touch it, and it hurt during the car ride over, but stopped eventually."

"Well," she spoke but interrupted herself by pulling out her penlight and checking my dilation. After finishing, she stuck the pen in her pocket and put her hands on her hips. "It doesn't look like a concussion, so I'll give you some Tylenol and let you participate in the rest of today's activities. But if it starts bothering you, tell someone immediately. Concussions are nothing to mess around with."

"I've had a few in my time. I know how they feel and they hurt a hell of a lot more than this." I told her and she nodded. She'd seen my medical file.

"Could you try to be a little bit less, I don't know, blasé about this whole thing?" Edward asked, pulling me into his side. I cuddled into his embrace and shook my head, kissing his bicep as I did so. I wasn't just acting calm. I was genuinely fine and didn't have any reason to be worried. I had spent the day out with my wonderful boyfriend and was going to end the day in with his family. I had no reason to be upset.

"What did your mother mean about 'tonight's activities'?" I asked him and he laughed.

"You'll see. Let's go change into pajamas. You'll know soon enough." He patted my back and I stood, leading him to the stairs. I waited beside them while Edward retrieved our bags.

Edward and I went upstairs and changed. I pulled out a pair of pajamas and went to the bathroom to put them on. It was one of my school t-shirts and a pair of navy-blue and purple plaid pajama pants. Edward was wearing the same cross country shirt as me, only his pants were navy-blue and black. Esme had coordinated our outfits, once again, not that I was going to argue. I kept my hair down and left my mascara on, while most of my eye shadow had disappeared. We walked, hand in hand, to the living room. The curiosity was eating at me. I was dying to know what the rest of our date entailed.

"Come and get your hot chocolate!" Esme called from the kitchen. "Carlisle's upstairs, putting his pajamas on."

"Hot cocoa?" I grinned, taking a mug. Esme nodded.

"What are we doing again, Ma?" Edward asked teasingly and Esme grinned, looking at me.

"We're decorating the Christmas tree tonight!" She smiled and I felt my jaw drop. I looked at Edward with big, excited eyes. I had told him a few times that I had never gotten any opportunities to decorate a tree. Renee wasn't into it and I was never in town with Charlie around Christmas. If going out on the first half of our date was exciting, then the second half was utterly mind-blowing. I giggled and clapped my hands, hopping up and down gleefully. Esme laughed and Edward pulled me into his side, pressing his lips to my uninjured temple. "I was hoping you'd be happy!"

"Happy doesn't even cover it!" I exclaimed. "I've always wanted to decorate a tree. This is perfect!"

"I'm glad you like the surprise." Edward kissed the top of my head.

"I love it!" I gripped my hot cocoa and ran off to the living room. The two of them laughed but followed me, not trying to talk down my excitement.

Carlisle was already in the living room and had put together the tree. He was wrapping it with lights, preparing it for the decorations. I set my hot cocoa down and walked over to look at their boxes of decorations. Carlisle looked up at me and grinned, but his grin faltered a few moments later. I frowned, wondering what was wrong.

"Are you okay?"

"I already checked it out. No concussion. No problems. Bella has been instructed to warn us if she notices any pain or problems." Esme appeared on his other side, pulling the garland out of the box. "Our son thought it would be a good idea to race Bella on the ice, despite it being her first time skating. Ever."

"Edward." Carlisle gave him a chastising look and Edward shrugged.

"Bella and I already talked about it. It was stupid of me, but we can't change what happened."

"You know, I can make my own decisions. I was being stupid too." I glowered at him and he shrugged.

"I still don't like you nearly breaking your head under my watch." He grumbled but continued to pull ornaments from the box. I walked over to his side and looked at the one he was holding. It was gold, flat, shaped like baby booties, and had 'Edward's First Christmas' and '1990' carved into it. I ran my thumb over it, unable to contain myself. It was precious.

"This is the cutest ornament I've ever seen." I stated and Esme laughed.

"I thought everyone had one of these. They're pretty standard." Edward told me and I felt my brow furrow.

My parents were barely seventeen on my first Christmas. I doubted that they had gotten an ornament like that. If they had, they didn't show it to me. I simply shrugged and reached for another one, not wanting to talk about it. The ornament that I pulled out was a baby picture of Edward, inside of a glass ornament. I held it up next to his head, drawing comparisons, and giggled. Edward snatched it from me and looked at it, his eyes dancing.

"I really need to see some baby pictures of you." He told me. "You've seen plenty of me."

"There aren't many. Renee was never big on documenting anything until she married Phil. Even then, she didn't exactly want to photograph me." I told him softly, placing the delicate ornament on the tree. "Charlie took as many as he could. He's technologically inept and also didn't have much money for a camera up until Clara was born."

"That's sad." Edward's brow furrowed.

"It just teaches me what to do and what not to do with any of my future children."

"I hope our kids look like you. With your brown hair and eyes, and pretty complexion." Edward spoke, seeming to not be thinking about what he was saying. As soon as the words were out, his eyes widened and I felt my eyebrows raise.

"Look like me? Are you kidding?" I laughed, trying to ease his obviously nervous face. "Our children damn well better look like you."

"So you've thought about it too?" He asked me and I shrugged.

"Not totally. It's passed through my mind, but not so thoroughly." I explained and he almost seemed to grow sadder then. I quickly backtracked. "It's sweet that you've thought about it. Very reassuring."


"Yeah." I nodded and he smiled at me, leaned in, and gently pressed his forehead to mine. There was a flash beside us and I turned to see Esme holding her phone camera up.

"I'm sorry, but that was the sweetest thing ever." Esme squealed, messing with her phone before turning it so that we could see the LED touch screen. The photo was of Edward and I, obviously, our faces dark from the shadows that the colorful lights in the tree behind us cast on us. Our foreheads were pressed together and our sparkling eyes were staring into one another. It really was a sweet photo. I grinned.

"Can you send that to me?" I asked her and she nodded. I gave her my number, which she added to her contacts, before sending both Edward and I the photo.

We continued to decorate the tree together. I wasn't sure that I had ever been as happy as I was in that moment. I was decorating a Christmas tree with a family that I loved more than anything and I was completely included. Esme turned on some Christmas music, which Edward and I danced around to together. The tree was almost done, and glowing beautifully in their white living room. The colored lights shone bright, colorful light all around the room, making it prettier than it had ever been. I stood there, in total awe of the place.

"Bella, wanna put the tree on top?" Edward asked excitedly and Carlilse cleared his throat.

"That's usually your mother's job, Edward." He whispered, as if I couldn't hear them. My face burned up.

"I don't have to-" I began to talk but Esme cut me off by scolding her husband.

"I think Bella can take over just fine this year." She hip checked her husband and handed me the golden star that they wanted me to place on top of the tree. I rubbed my neck nervously, eying the abnormally tall tree. Edward appeared beside me.

"Need some help?"

"I'm kind of short." I squeaked and he laughed, nodded and then knelt down. My brow furrowed when he patted his shoulder and told me to stand in between his bent knees. I shook my head no. "Edward, I'm a one-hundred-fifteen pound person. You can't lift me on your shoulder."

"Humor me." He winked and I sighed, stepping into the spot that he wanted me and letting my bottom rest on his shoulder. He gripped my legs and then hoisted me up. I let out a yelp, but got a grip on him and the star, preparing myself to reach up and put it on the tree. I slipped the object onto the very point of the tree and then let Edward lower me to my feet. When I was at his side again, I wrapped my arms tightly around him and he kissed the top of my head. He whispered into my hair. "It's perfect, baby."

"It is." I agreed, admiring the tree as a whole.

"Thank you so much for coming over and spending this time with us, Bella!" Esme sighed after several moments of silence. I nodded, walking over to hug the woman.

"Thank you for inviting me. You made my life," I told her, telling the truth.

"Oh, please. We love having you here." She patted my cheeks and then went over to her husband, who was closing boxes.

"We can move these tomorrow." He left them stacked by the garage door. Edward agreed, crept up behind me, and wrapped his long arms around my waist and let his chin rest on my shoulder. I tilted my head to the side and let my head relax against his. "You two ought to be going to bed too. Esme and I have an early shift, but that doesn't mean you two should spend the day sleeping."

"Of course not." I nodded in agreement. I wanted to stay up all night with Edward, but I knew better than that.

"Show Bella to the guest room and let her get comfortable." Carlisle added before wishing us a goodnight and going upstairs. Esme followed him, whispering something in his ear as the two of them started up the stairs.

I turned around in Edward's arms and then broke away from him.

"Lead the way." I gestured towards the staircase and Edward nodded, stepping ahead of me and going on up.

Edward grabbed my things from his room and showed me around the guest bedroom. When he was done, he kissed me on the lips and then disappeared into the hallway. I sighed and went to lay down. The bed was big and fluffy, but it wasn't the same because it was cold and didn't smell like Edward. I didn't want to annoy anyone, so I just got under the covers and forced myself to fall asleep.

I hadn't been sleeping for long when the tossing and turning began. All of the movement was a result of a nightmare. In the dream I was walking down the hallways of my school. There were a lot of people standing around, laughing wildly at something. It didn't take me long to realize that they were laughing at me. I began running and ran straight for the exit. I used both of my arms when I attempted to yank the double doors open and realized that not only were they locked, but they were just handles on a wall that looked like a door. The people began closing in on me. I saw my attacker, Jane, Jacob, Lauren, Heidi, and Jessica, my mother, Phil, and most of anyone who had ever bothered me.

They were closing in one me quickly, their taunts growing louder and echoing in my brain. I leaned up against the door, covered my ears, and let out a shrill scream. Nothing was blocking out their voices. Right as they began to draw back their fists and legs, ready to attack me, I lurched forward and awoke in the darkness. I was in the Cullen's guest room and the sound of somebody screeching was muffled by my hands over my ears. When the door slammed open, and in ran Carlisle, I realized that the screamer was myself.

"Bella? Bella! What's wrong? What's happened?" He asked, his voice frantic as he tried to pull my hands from my ears. I finally found the piece of my mind that allowed me to loosen my stiff fingers but I couldn't get my body out of the wound up ball that it had formed.

"C-Carlisle?" I screamed, barely able to make out the word myself, through the ripping sound that was coming from my lungs and throat.

"Shh. It's alright. I'm here and I've got ya'…" He sighed after he realized that I had been having a nightmare. He pulled me over so that I was pressed tightly into his side. My body was still wrapped up in a tense ball, and he wrapped himself around me. My cries only softened a tiny bit but I was slowly beginning to come back to my mind. He sighed. "It was only a dream, Bella. You had a nightmare."

"It wasn't…" I sobbed and he shook his head.

"Yes it was. You were sleeping."

"But it wasn't just a dream!" I bawled, gripping his shirt tightly. HE was already dressed for work, which meant that it was very early in the morning. "They were there, making fun of me and laughing at me. I couldn't breathe and I couldn't get out…"

"Who was?" He asked and I shook my head.

I mumbled 'everyone' into his chest and he sighed.

"The kids at school?" He clarified, sounding genuinely upset.

"And my mom…and whoever attacked me that one night." I whimpered at the thought. "They were embarrassing me and they were going to kill me."

"Oh, honey…" He spoke sweetly and I hugged him tighter. I was relishing in the moment. I was close with my dad, but our relationship was more of a friendship than a father-daughter type. I loved my father, with all of my heart, but I needed a real, sit-down, strong hug once every so often. He rocked me back and forth, shushing me softly. "You don't need to be worrying about that in my house. We all love you very much and we would never judge you. Especially so immaturely as to make fun of you."

"Thank you…" I croaked softly and he sighed.

"I have to head to work, Bella."

"I'm sorry." I pulled away suddenly, swiping miserably at my eyes.

"But I don't want you alone right now…" He frowned and I mirrored his face. I didn't want to be alone.

"I'll be okay." I lied. If I was sleeping in that bed, I wasn't going to go back to sleep.

"No. You should go climb into bed with Edward. You don't need to stay up the rest of the night." He squeezed my bicep comfortingly before rubbing it soothingly. I was completely thrilled on the inside, but kept calm on the outside.

"Okay…I'll see you this evening?"

"You're staying for Sunday dinner?" He cocked his head to the side and I nodded. The three of them had dinner together every single Sunday. Earlier in the school year Edward had made such a big deal about it being family, private time. I had been completely honored when he invited me to spend my Sunday evening with them.

"Edward asked me to stay while we ate lunch."

"I'm glad he did." He told me, his voice showing nothing but genuine honesty. That was the first time that Carlisle had ever honestly and clearly said that he was happy to have me in their lives.

"Me too." I nodded.

He stood and held out his arm, which I linked my own with, and the both of us walked quietly to Edward's room. He let me go in on my own and closed the door behind me. I crept towards Edward in the darkness, my tired eyes struggling to adjust, even in the moonlight. When I reached his bed, I felt around and then climbed sleepily into it, sniffling periodically.

"Huh?" Edward rolled over suddenly, his eyes not even opening half and inch as he tried to find me in the darkness.

"Edward?" I whispered and his eyes shot open, his green irises appearing black in the shadows.

"Bella? Wha's wrong?" He yawned and I scooted into his side. He hugged me tightly and closely.

"I had a nightmare. Carlisle and Esme are leaving and sent me in here. I hope you don't mind."

"Of course I don't mine." He shot back and scooted so that he was facing me better. "Turn around." I didn't hesitate to do what he asked. Once I was facing away, Edward scooted up so that he was spooning me. It was comfortable for me, but I had heard plenty of time that it wasn't the most fun sleeping position for guys. "Just sleep, my love."

"You don't have to hold me like this." I giggled and then yawned loudly.

"I want to." He whispered into my neck, sending a shiver down my spine, before kissing the exposed skin and relaxing. I decided not to argue with him and quickly fell asleep in his arms, dreaming of nothing but happy times with Edward.

Author's Note:

It's 3am on my birthday but I had to update. The Cullens really got to know some more about Bella in this chapter. They also went on their first official, disastrous, date. Don't worry, the fluffy Christmas chapter is next and I promise it will be long and happy. Review! It's my birthday!

*Reviews are better than make out sessions with Edward up against the Volvo.