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Chapter 5 My Goodbyes

I woke up feeling comfortable and well-rested. Actually I don't remember the last time I slept this well or was this relaxed, I felt like I had spent the entire night wrapped up in a warm cocoon. For a brief moment I was happy and everything was right with the world, and then everything that transpired last night came crushing back to me, it wasn't a bad dream or a bad joke, it was all very real.

Well, I guess crying your heart out till you pass out from exhaustion helps you sleep like a baby. On the plus side, I might have discovered the cure to insomnia. Having your heart crushed.

As I slowly came back to consciousness, it became painfully clear that the warm, soft comfortable mattress, I was hugging tightly, wasn't a mattress, it was a body. My fingers traveled from the hipbone, slowly tracing the soft skin until the rib cage and stopped as soon as they reached the soft underside of her breast, squeezing lightly to check if they were real, if this was real too.

Soon my eyes flew open at the bizarre realization of what I was doing and to whom. This was the very first time I was touching breasts, well the very first time I was touching someone else's breasts. I had made it my purpose the few times I mated with Bella to not touch her in any intimate way as if by doing so I was punishing her, although the real reason was that I simply didn't know how to touch her, or please her. Despite my being a girl I knew next to nothing about bringing pleasure to a girl, or better a woman. Maybe she was lucky she had male parts too, if she didn't there was no way she would have enjoyed our mating, because there was no way I was going to touch her down there. I haven't even looked at her fully when she was naked.

It was an odd sensation, touching her breasts and not as weird as I would have thought originally, although the sight of my hand on a breast was foreign and pretty weird. Her breasts were smooth, or maybe it's the bra she is wearing that is smooth, firm, round and much bigger than the palm of my hand. I felt a pang of jealously, because in comparison mine were small. Too small!

I seriously hope they are not done growing yet. Technically I am still a teenager, I am eighteen almost nineteen, but I'm still in my teens. It's possible I'll get a late growth spurt, and gain a cup size and a few inches too. Late growth sprouts, that's a thing right? I'm sure I read it somewhere.

I just don't want to spend the rest of my life lacking in comparison to Bella, in any way. When people look at us, especially the wolves from her pack I want them to see someone who is good enough for their Alpha and not someone who is lacking.

Then it was like a switch came on, I realized what I was doing and froze hoping that I didn't wake her up with my ministrations. I lay still and focused on her heartbeat which luckily was slow and steady. After last night and what she may or may not have heard this wasn't how I wanted her to wake up. Or was it? Maybe sex could help put me out of the difficult position I found myself in. I briefly recalled one of my mated friends saying she loved fighting with her wife because of all the make-up sex.

I'm not sure if we are currently fighting thought. I mean do you cuddle with a person when you are fighting? Or do you stick around them while they cry their eyes out? Or do you carry them to bed and undress them when they are too tired to move? I don't think so!

Who are you kidding Mary-Alice? She was just waiting for us to calm down and now that we have it's open season!

Unless I burst into tears again? And fall even more in the eyes of my Alpha and mate? This is all a waste of time. I should be thinking of ways to save face, not embarrass myself further. Although she must already think I am a weakling… Can I sink any lower at this point? I feel like I'm at the bottom already.

Thinking about it my best bet is if Bella fell in a deep coma! Spontaneous sleep coma! Happens every day…

I just… I didn't want her to wake up at all. I was afraid and confused. Did I wish she heard everything? Yes and no. In both cases I'll have a lot of explaining to do, which wasn't something I was neither used, nor comfortable doing.

If she heard, at least, I won't have to repeat any of last night's conversation and she will know that despite it all, I was faithful. Although she might be mad at me because of the things I said and Jasper's life will probably be in jeopardy.

At the same time I wanted that particular conversation to have been private, but then if she hasn't heard any of it and simply woke up and found me there crying and Jasper's being the only recent scent around me she might assume I was being unfaithful, all of which will result to her being furious with me for ignoring her and Jasper's life will once again be in jeopardy. At least that's what I would think, if the tables were turned, meeting your ex in the woods in the middle of the night was just screaming affair. It was so ridiculously clear now in the bright light of day. Where the hell was my common sense last night when I needed it?

And more importantly what the hell do I do now?

I am too ashamed to face her, this is the second time I broke out in tears in front of her and my flight or fight instinct was screaming at me to run for the hills and avoid the confrontation, or maybe it was my wolf that was terrified because I displeased her alpha and showed weakness in front of her again, my plans to at least earn a little respect were far gone.

So that's what I planned to do, flee to my house, the Alpha house. I doubt she'll confront me there in front of my family. I'll also buy myself some time to think of a way to explain myself and keep the sorry excuse of a best friend alive. Why? Oh, why did my best friend have to be so prone to life threatening idiocy?

I know I am in this situation because of him and even thought I was still hurting from what he said to me last night, I just can't stand the idea of him being hurt or worse killed. He had to live to apologize and beg for my forgiveness. Despite the pain he caused me I know this isn't really him, he was just lasing out because he was hurt and I won't let that offending word be the last one I heard from him. I also hoped that the light of morning brought him clarity too and maybe he will be at the Alpha house, so we can depart on better terms this time.

I slowly removed myself from her arms, careful not to stir and wake her, but as luck would have it as soon as I moved to my side of the bed, I met two very confused green eyes. I froze like a deer caught in headlights. She didn't look mad, maybe a little tired like she had little to no sleep at all and then her brain seemed to catch up with my trying to sneak away and she looked a little hurt, but it was gone as fast as it came and replaced by a frown.

"Um.. What time is it?" My throat felt dry, this was the worst scenario. Why does the worst keep happening? I seriously need a break.

"Good morning." She groaned as she stretched her hand searching the night stand for her phone. "Almost twelve."

"What time are we supposed to hit the road?" I swallowed audibly, I had to keep her talking about something else, but it was a futile attempt on my part. We had a long drive ahead of us and I doubt I could feign being asleep the whole time. Or could I?

"Five hours ago, but you looked tired after last night and I didn't want to wake you up so early." She slowly moved and sat at the foot of the bed, picking discarded clothes off the floor and folding them, while I was stunned staring at her well built back. I couldn't change the subject now that she brought up last night, she obviously wants to talk about it. Or maybe I could, it was too generic, maybe I could somehow distract her. Come on brain! Think something!

That's when I noticed the scars on her back; it was an old wound that didn't heal right, or was way too deep and left a scar like that behind, or maybe both. It looked like someone clawed her from the right shoulder blade all the way to the left hip. It was actually hard not to see, I wonder why I didn't notice it earlier.

"What happened to your back?" I frowned at the wound, the more I looked the more obvious it became that it must have been very deep.

"Nothing." I didn't miss the momentary pause in her actions.

"It doesn't look like nothing to me." I found myself crawling on all fours on the bed, to get closer and examine the wound more thoroughly.

"It's just a scratch from a fight." She shivered and stopped what she was doing, as I moved her hair over her shoulder and traced it gently with my fingers. In some places it was still a little pink, meaning it wasn't even that old. Maybe a few months? And by the width between each claw I'd guess that whoever did this to her, attacked while she was still in her human skin.

"This isn't just a scratch Bella. Who did this to you?" I asked curious now. There was a story behind the scar and I was going to get it.

"Another werewolf." She shrugged trying to dismiss the whole thing again, but I wasn't having it.

"And you turned human during a fight? Or you want to tell me that you didn't sense a wolf standing right behind you ready to attack?" I tried to irk her just a little bit by implying that her skills were questionable, to get her to tell me the whole story.

She sighed audibly. "You are not letting it go, are you?"

"No, I'm just trying to know you a little better." I kept caressing her back, which might have been a little bit of overkill, but I felt her muscles relax after a minute. I was honestly curious and I was successfully turning her attention away from me. So what's the harm?

"Alright then." I felt her lean a little more to my touch. "As you know I'm the new Alpha of our pack. Our previous leader was killed in an accident six months ago, and since I was his first Beta and favorite for next Alpha, the majority of the council voted for me, bar a few that had voted for my co Beta, Jacob."

"So you were made Alpha?"

"Yes, but Jacob felt that he was stronger and the decision wasn't just. So after a couple of months he pulled out the old rules and issued a challenge against me."

"To the death?" She nodded and I gasped in horror. "That's ridiculous! We've involved beyond killing one another." It was one of those age old barbaric notions that ceased to exist with the passing of times. Or not as it seems.

"I know, I'm against it, but it was still within his rights." She said matter of fact.

"What happened then?" I couldn't see the look on her face, but I felt the muscles in her back tensed.

"I won."

"Did you… Did you kill him?" I whispered, afraid to find out. The idea that Bella might have killed someone was making my gut twist. I know Alphas sometimes are forced to kill, my own father had killed plenty, but since Bella is so young and new at this I had hoped that she hasn't done that, and she would refrain from doing it the future too. We were both part of a younger generation, it was up to us to try and change all those anachronistic ideas of the past.

"I beat him fair and square; he submitted and offered his neck, so I could break it, but… I couldn't. I am many things, but I won't be a killer unless I have to. I went against every instinct I had, but my first move as Alpha was to turn human and announce to the council my decision to spare him and that the death penalty wouldn't and shouldn't be enforced not now and not in the future." A weight lifted from my chest at her words.

"You did the right thing." I felt an odd sensation; I think I was proud of her. She could have taken the easy way out and kill, but instead she faced the council and stood up for what she believed.

"Jacob didn't think so or I guess his pride was hurt and he didn't want to live knowing that he lost, or he was trying to provoke me so I would end his life. I'll never know… But with whatever strength he had left, he clawed at me and then he passed out." She sounded hurt, betrayed maybe?

And who wouldn't be! She basically saved his life and he back-stabbed her figuratively and literally. I wanted to offer some comfort, I wanted to hug her but I was too self conscious, we were both still in our underwear and on the bed. Instead I chose to keep her talking.

"What happened next? Did you banish him from the pack?"

She shook her head for no. "He left on his own. We've been… pack mates for years. I even offered him Beta but he refused saying he wasn't going to stick around and grovel in front of me, he was too bitter and said things he didn't mean, so after he healed from our fight he was gone."

"And everything's ok with the pack now? The council, Jacob's supporters, they didn't give you any trouble?"

"No, everything is fine. Pack mentality runs through our veins and the stronger wolf is the leader, we all accept that. I proved myself in front of everyone and they are all at peace with the result."

"Are you at peace?" I asked softly and she barely nodded.

I felt like there was more to the story with Jacob, like she cared for him, deeply. Well, of course she cared for him, they were co Betas and probably lived in the same house for years. But I didn't know how to ask for more, not without sounding insecure or jealous, and I didn't want to push her. It was obviously a sensitive matter, so I let it go for now.

Silence stretched between us and I felt a little awkward still caressing her back, but she made no move to leave until her phone started to ring.

"We need to go." She said after a very short conversation on the phone and then started putting on her clothes hastily. "Your father wants to see you off, before he attends his other business." I barely caught myself before I rolled my eyes. Of course, because seeing off his youngest daughter is just business too. Ten minutes later we were dressed and heading to the Alpha house. That's when realization hit me.

This is it.

This is the last time I'm walking this path. I took one last look at the forest behind my house, willing time to stop. How can I live anywhere, but here? My mind couldn't comprehend that yet. I belong here, this is my land. I froze just outside my house, staring blankly at my back yard as countless memories floated thought my mind. I was born here, I grew up here, and I was planning my life in this small community of ours. I wanted to get married and have children here, show them the forest and teach all its tricks and secrets to my puppies. As it turned out they were just empty dreams, I was leaving in a matter of minutes with Bella. With a stranger. Sure, I knew a little more about her now, but there was still nothing between us. No passion, no great love, no friendship. Nothing!

"I'm sorry." She whispered as if she could tell what I was thinking.

I had to shallow hard and blink some tears away before I could answer her. "Not your fault." I whispered back and moved ahead of her and into my house. I had to hear it too, it wasn't her fault. None of this was her fault. I couldn't live my life resenting her.

But it was his fault, that's what my mind screamed as soon as I came face to face with the man that brought me to this word. My father. He was waiting for us in the hallway, he merely nodded at me and then drew Bella away from me and into the living room to talk about whatever, without me. So much for seeing me off…

It's not like I expected him to give me a bear hug and start crying, but a little attention for once, would have been a nice surprise. I pursed my lips, but I didn't get to wallow in self pity for long. I was pulled into a half embrace by Charlotte, who for once was anything but calm and collected.

I couldn't help but smile affectionately at the woman as she fussed over me, pulling me towards the kitchen and speaking at once about too many subjects. She made me all types of breakfast and packed it in a bag, and she wanted to know if I needed anything else, so she could make that too. I didn't have the will to tell her that my stomach was tied in knots and I probably wouldn't eat anything at all. Then she gave me goodbyes from various pack members and friends that came to see me off, but since I was too lazy to get up early my father had luckily shooed them away, I was barely going to manage saying goodbye to the three people I considered family, I don't think I could handle any more, not without breaking down again. She mentioned something about a lot of them bringing me gifts, that she packed and put in Bella's truck with my other boxes and then made me promise to call and thank them.

I gave up trying to keep up with her meaningless chatter after a while and instead I looked at her face memorizing it and this moment. She was always a bit distant, that's just how she was, I never blamed her for it, I knew she was best friends with my mother and seeing everyday was just a painful reminder of her absence. But now I finally got to see the mask slip, even if it was just this once.

"Mary Alice are you even listening to me?" she fake scolded me to draw my attention back to what she was saying, but not before I noticed that her eyes were red and puffy, she had been crying.

Instead of answering her I just moved and hugged her tightly. "I'll miss you so much."

"I can't believe how fast you grew up! It feels like yesterday that you were just a puppy." Her voice cracked up a little bit at the end. "Just because you are moving away doesn't mean we'll lose contact! I'm expecting regular phone calls from you and if you need anything, anything at all, never hesitate to call here, alright?" I nodded against her shoulder and breathed in her comforting scent. "We'll visit as soon as we can, you'll always be part of our family."

"I know, I'm sure we will visit too, as soon as possible." Charlotte drew back from our long hug, looking anywhere but me, trying to hold back tears, when the door opened and her mate walked in, smiling lovingly at us.

"I'm going to put the food I packed for you two in the truck." She blurred out, and left me with him, but not before I caught a tear trailing down her cheek.

"She is going soft." I chuckled at my own comment and blinked the tears in my eyes away, one would think that after last night I wouldn't have any left, but no! They were right there waiting for a chance to spill.

"She is just worried about you, and she didn't get any sleep last night." He sighed. "Neither of us did."

"Please don't tell me about your night-time activities, walking in on you two once was enough trauma for a life time." I scrunched my nose in disgust, at the horrible memory.

"Nah, we were just talking about you and what we'll miss more. For me it's a tie between your nonstop talking, your using of all the hot water and your phone hogging." I hit his arm playfully.

"Yeah, because living with you, was a piece of cake." He chuckled and pulled me in a half embrace.

"The house will be empty without you." He whispered in my hair and kissed the top of my head.

"I love you too, Peter." I leaned in and inhaled his scent again, for the last time. "I don't know how I'll manage without the two of you looking out for me."

"You are a better wolf than you give yourself credit puppy. Just… be careful and show them your teeth." He drew back and looked me in the eye. I could see that he wanted to say something more but he hesitated.

"What is it?"

"What happened last night Alice? Between you and Jasper?" he whispered, so no one could overhear.

"Nothing." I bit on my lower lip nervously as Peter gave me the cut the crap look. Did he know too?

"So you have nothing to do with him being in the hospital?" he asked again and my eyes almost popped out from the shock.

"He is where? Is he ok?" I asked anxiously. How could he end up in the hospital? "Why didn't anybody tell me this? He is my best friend!" I glared at Peter for deliberately holding back the information.

"Um… Yes he is fine, he just has a broken jaw." He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "So you didn't know anything about that?"

"Do I look like I know?" I sighed, relieved that Jasper was ok. He was an ass to me last night, but that didn't mean that I wished him harm. The contrary, I still cared and it hurt to know that he was in pain.

"Wait, when did this happen? And how?" It wasn't an easy task for a wolf to get hurt and last time I saw him he was fine, bar the slap I gave him, which of course couldn't have caused a broken jaw.

"Late last night, his mom called me. I went to see him early this morning and he said, well he wrote, because it will take him a while to talk again, that he fell."

"He fell? And broke his jaw to the point of no talking?" I raised a skeptical eyebrow.

"The doctor says it's a pretty bad break and I don't buy it either, that's why I asked you if you knew anything about it. In my experience his jaw would look like that only if he fell on someone's fist. Repeatedly." He gave me a somewhat meaningful look and I froze.

Could…Bella… No! Who else would have reason to do something like that? It had to be her… Oh my God! She heard everything and she hurt Jasper, because of that! That has to be it. I can't believe she did that!

Peter waved his hand in front of my face to get me to focus. "Hey, don't worry about it, it's not that major. He will be fine I promise I'll take better care of him from now on." He reassured me.

"Alice?" Before I could think of saying anything else to Peter, I heard my father call me from the hallway and walked blindly towards him. Anger building up inside me with every step and this time it wasn't directed at him.

"She is waiting in the car." He eyed me worriedly, probably due to my murderous expression and I quickly pulled out a fake smile. Not that he would know the difference.

We stared awkwardly at each other for a minute, before he decided to make it more awkward by giving me a hug. Luckily it was a very brief one. I didn't hate the man, he is my father and no matter what I'll always care for him, but our relationship has reached a point where I think it was wise for us to no longer live together.

"You will be fine with her, just remember what we talked about." He gave me a meaningful look and patted me on the back. I merely nodded and whispered a good bye, before I walked out the door without looking back again. I couldn't stare at any of them any longer. It was becoming too painful.

To be honest it was easier this way, all I had to do was take deep breaths and focus on my anger towards Bella, or else I'd break out in tears for the fourth time in two days.

Bella looked oblivious to my turmoil, she was sitting in the bulbous of a red Chevy truck, drumming her fingers rhythmically to the beat of an old rock song on the stirring wheel. The car looked taken care, even thought it was clear that it was an old model, maybe from the 70s. I marched over to her and slammed the door closed as soon as I was in, she looked at me in surprise and then started the truck, giving me worried glances now and then, without asking anything.

"Jasper is in the hospital." I said finally when it didn't look like she was going to say anything, and then glared at her. I couldn't look anywhere but her right now, I couldn't watch as she was driving away from my home. Away from all I held dear.

"What happened?" she asked feigning interest, but my eyes were glued to her face, she didn't look surprised any more, instead she looked calm and collected.

"He has a broken jaw. Someone broke it." I accused her, because I knew it was her.

She nodded. "Perhaps now he will be more careful of what he says and does." I guess she is not even going to try and deny it, or act the least bit remorseful.

I growled in response and she raised one dark challenging eyebrow. "You know very well, that given the situation it was within my rights to kill him on the spot and no one in your pack would bat an eye. The only reason he is still alive is because I didn't want you to deal with a funeral so close to our wedding." She was right, if it had been my father in her position Jasper would be dead. I knew that, but I wasn't ready to let go yet. Right now anger was my life line, keeping me from drowning in sorrow.

"Well you shouldn't have done anything. I dealt with him just fine! And why were you in the woods anyway? Were you spying on me?" I raised my voice, which might have been a mistake on my part, because I could feel her irritation growing and her lip twitched as she tried to keep a passive look on her face.

"I was in the woods, because your idiot friend followed me to the cabin, the coward wanted to be sure I was asleep before he made his advances on you, so I humored him and feigned going to bed early to see what he had in mind. And I hardly call what you did as dealing with someone, you basically gave him the green light by agreeing to meet him." I briefly noted that she was driving way over the speed limit.

I sighed and dropped my voice a little, I didn't want her irritation to cause us an accident. "So… you were there the whole time, you heard everything?"

She just nodded, keeping her eyes on the road.

"Why didn't you stop me then? From going to meet him." If only she had stopped me I'd be saved from so much pain, Jasper and I wouldn't have fought and he wouldn't have called me a whore and he probably wouldn't be in the hospital right now.

"I was curious. I wanted to see if you'd run or cheat, given the opportunity." So she let the whole thing play out to test me? I was in pain, because it was all just a big fat joke to her. Well of course, what did you expect Alice? That she'd magically start caring? I mean nothing to her. Maybe I should be grateful for the slight interest she was showing now, because a year from now she'd probably not care if I live or die.

"You should be happy then, I did neither." I said my voice laced with sarcasm.

"Oh yes, overjoyed." I was surprised she responded with the same tone. "I'm torn actually, I don't know what I should be happier about. The fact that he is the most important member of the pack for you, even thought he ceased being part of your pack two days ago, or that my mate is in love with someone else." I was still angry, and sad but I had to bite my tongue at her words. It was pretty clear that she was hurt by what I had said, and I didn't know how to respond.

"I can't just turn off my feelings, I'm human." I whispered softly, almost apologetically. I wasn't thinking about her last night, any pain my words might have caused her wasn't intentional. "And frankly you shouldn't be listening in on my private conversations." Because as I thought about it, I didn't do an anything wrong, yes the place and time of my meeting was questionable, but I shut down all advances and the same conversation could have happened over the phone, or this morning. It all came down to the fact that she spied on me.

"Are you seriously blaming me for last night?" she asked incredulously.

"Yes! You should have intervened when I left the Alpha house and since you didn't you don't get to be mad at me for what you overheard." She shook her head in disbelief?

"Fine, I'm the bad guy!" She sighed. "But even if I intervened at any time last night, I would still be the bad guy, who didn't trust you enough and didn't give you a chance to privately say goodbye to your best friend. No?" she raised an eyebrow again, and I bit my tongue, because she was right again.

Damn it! I am ninety nine percent sure, I would have blamed her then too. I know I am putting her in a lose/lose situation and it's not fair, but to my defense the whole situation wasn't fair to any of us, least of all me.

I didn't know what to say after that. So, instead of answering I turned to stare out the window, it was safe to look out now. We were far enough for me to not associate the area with my home anymore.

The silence between us, was broken after a minute when her phone started ringing. I was relieved with the distraction, the atmosphere in the car felt full of tension.

"Hey, Em!" she sounded glad to hear from whoever this Em was. What kind of name is Em anyway? I tried to look like I wasn't paying attention to the conversation, even thought it was hard not to, since we were in such a closed space.

"No, no. We've actually just left, we won't make it back tonight." She paused for a while, listening. I couldn't hear what the other person was saying, but I was guessing this Em to be a guy, because his voice was pretty deep and loud.

"I know, but I don't want you guys to wait up for us. So, we'll stop at a hotel for the night and I'm guessing we'll be there tomorrow around noon." She paused again.

"Everything ok over there?" she asked, her voice changing from light to one with more authority. I guess it was her Alpha tone? Surprisingly she hasn't used it on me once, yet.

"Good. Can you check on Rosalie for me? She called me yesterday afternoon, she was upset, started calling me names and now she won't pick up." I tried not to visually react at the conversation I was overhearing. So yesterday she was being weird because she fought with Rosalie when I was asleep.


Or not, Rosalie was probably angry that I, Royce's little sister would not only be joining her pack, but I would be sharing the same house with her since I was the Alpha's mate. So Roy's theory that Rosalie would let bygones be bygones was definitely wrong, she still held a grudge despite the decade that passed by.

Of course I had to wait and see how she will treat me in person, but the situation wasn't very promising for me. I was curious if that happened would Bella even notice, or care? And would she defend me or just allow her Beta to mistreat me.

I sighed as quietly as I could, because Bella was off the phone and no longer distracted. I knew very well whose side she'd be on. Not mine. I can only hope that whatever had them at odds didn't involve me. I mean there are so many reasons for a Beta to be mad at her Alpha, right? Yeah, especially the day after said Alpha's wedding.

Suddenly another thought popped up in my head that gave me a small heart attack. What if Rosalie wasn't upset with Bella being mated to me but with Bella being mated? What if they were lovers? The logical part of my brain registered that since Rosalie was closer to Royce's age she was probably mated by now.

However, I clearly remembered Bella's words from the previous morning. Sometimes our lives hold moments of great disappointment. Chances are I am that disappointment for her, just like she is mine.

And if not Rosalie, then Bella might have been with someone else within her pack. I was a fool! I never asked her if she loved someone, partially because I didn't want to know and partially because I didn't care at the time, but now I had no idea what situation I was walking into. What if she kept seeing someone behind my back? I would be the laughing stock of the whole pack, even more so if that someone was living in the same house with me.

Bella was a ridiculously attractive woman and she clearly was a powerful wolf, since she was the Alpha, chances are she'll have multiple others swooning at her every word. She obviously had taken advantage of her sexual appeal, because from what little I knew from my friends that mated with wolves our age, their first time hurt because their mates were too eager and inexperienced and couldn't control themselves enough to make it pleasurable for both of them.

So it was clear that my first time with Bella wasn't her first time at all. She clearly knew what she was doing, and even paused while inside me to let me adjust. Which begs the question, how many have there been before me? And even worse how many will there be after?

Ten hours of none stop driving and thinking later, I found myself curled in bed, in a motel in the middle of nowhere. Bella left half an hour ago to go bring us some food from the fast food across the street and had yet to return. Maybe she used the time away from me to call Rosalie or someone else from the pack that she cared for.

Whatever, she was gone way too long and for some reason I didn't want her to find me awake when she came back, so I curled up in a small ball and feigned being asleep. I didn't want to deal with the tense atmosphere anymore and call me stubborn but I wasn't going to be the one to break the silence, despite the million of questions I wanted to ask her.

Although the silence between us, during the long drive, wasn't exactly awkward and didn't seem to faze her, it was agonizing for me. Especially, with the dark turn that my thoughts had taken. My mind was spinning in circles, Bella seemed to want to make our relationship work for the sake of her pack, but there was still doubt in me. One moment I was sure she'd be a respectful mate and the next I was sure she wouldn't. I didn't know her well enough to trust her after all.

Also the fact that she didn't say something, anything, to me for a whole ten hours while she could feel my distress, because I knew she felt it, was really off putting. All she ever did was sneak a few peeks when she thought I wouldn't notice. Oh and she asked once if I wanted to stop for lunch, at which I just shook my head for no.

I heard keys at the door and I put a little more effort into taking slow deep breaths to look more convincing. I heard her shut the door and then pause; I guess she spotted my sleeping form. She sighed, but I couldn't tell if it was from relief or annoyance and it bothered me. She either was glad she didn't have to deal with me any longer or annoyed because… well I didn't know why she would be annoyed.

I heard more shuffling as she put down what I guessed to be many bags of food, and I immediately regretted my course of action as I was assaulted with the smell of various foods. I hadn't eaten all day and my mouth watered at the mere thought of it.

Damn it! Now I hope she tries to wake me up, but lady luck was clearly once more against me.

I heard her move around quietly in the room and then come up to my side of the bed. I got hopeful then, thinking she was about to call me out on my fake sleeping or shake me a little to wake me, but instead she covered me up with a blanket.


Well… not really. She was actually being really sweet and considerate, covering me up, being quiet and all that and I would have really appreciated it if I wasn't famished. Now thought it felt more like a punishment. God, if she started eating without me, I was going to scream.

Fortunately she didn't, after a minute I felt the other side of the bed dip as she laid down next to me and sighed yet again. This time it was clearly a melancholic sigh. I was torn, I wanted to just turn around and ask her if she was ok, or if we were going to eat at last, anything really, to show her that I was offering a truce, sort of. But at the same time I was too stubborn to give up just like that, after more than ten hours of complete silence. I didn't want to lose, because the whole thing was a power play and she clearly had the upper hand since she was my Alpha. Before I could make up my mind on what to do, I heard a light buzzing coming from behind me.

"Hello." Bella whispered into her phone.

"Yes, yes everything is fine Esme don't worry. She is just sleeping, and I don't want to wake her." She sounded happy talking to this woman, because it just had to be another woman calling her in the middle of the night.

"Yeah, we stopped almost half an hour ago." I briefly wondered if I was about to bear witness to their secret love phone call. Maybe I should cough or something? Spying on her wasn't really my style, but then again she was talking in front of me and had no problem overhearing my conversations, why should I respect her privacy when she clearly didn't respect mine?

"Umm…" she sounded nervous and I wondered what was it that this Esme wanted to know. "We skipped lunch, but only because I thought we could have a hefty dinner." Huh?

"Well… I went out to buy some food, but when I came back she was sleeping. So, no, but it's ok! We'll just eat it all in the morning." I couldn't see Bella, but from her tone I imagined her biting her lip nervously, which was completely out of character for her and I almost turned around to see if I was right. From what I gathered it sounded as if Esme was scolding Bella for not eating properly?

"Of course I am." She paused briefly. "I'm not having a feast by myself, knowing that my mate went to bed hungry!" She sounded insulted at the suggestion of eating without me and I found myself relaxing at her words. Thank God she wasn't going to eat right next to me.

"I know." She groaned and I started to wonder if Esme was her mother. Why didn't she call her mom then? "To be safe, could you cook double portions for us tomorrow?"

"Yeah, we'll definitely be there for lunch. Do you mind making steaks? It's Alice's favorite." If I was at ease with her thoughtfulness before now I was about to go aaawww, if I wasn't pretending to be asleep of course.

"I don't know… Massed potatoes I guess and fried ones, and that thing you make with the beans and the rice. Yes that one! Oh can you make your famous chocolate pie too?"

"Oh come on!" she whined a little. "Alice loves chocolate and I love pie, it's perfect!"

"Thank you, Esme! I owe you big time for this." I was about to drool with the all the food talk, that actually made me look forward to tomorrow.

"No, no! No barbecue or cook out! And make sure to tell the others, no one is staying over for lunch or dinner. I know you love feeding us all, but having the whole pack there, while knowing no one will only make Alice feel intimidated, I want to give her a chance to get used to the four of us first." I don't know what it was about her. Her voice? Her authority? Her concern? Maybe a mix of those, but without knowing it or talking to me she made me feel calm and safe. It was like all my worries of the past few hours had evaporated. Granted I was worried because she wasn't talking to me, but still.

"She is...nice?" she asked unsure and then sighed. "I just met her, what more do you want me to tell you?" Esme was asking about me. If I was in my wolf skin, this would be the moment my ears would prick up. I was eager to hear what Bella thought of me.

"Fine!" She groaned giving up. "With a first assessment she seems… well nice and good." I haven't been on my best behavior around her, but I guess she was being kind by not sharing that. "Maybe a little too stubborn at times and kind of pampered." Pampered? I barely held myself from snorting. "But she has a fire in her, I don't know what it is yet. She has a strong backbone, but she is also sensitive. Sometimes she is shy, she has good manners and she is very smart. I'm sure she will fit right in with us and you'll love her." I was genuinely surprised by what Bella thought of me, it was all generally good. Of course she could be saying all that to make sure my pack members didn't hate me, so my joining the pack wouldn't be too forced.

"Well… at the risk of sounding biased since I'm talking about my mate, I think she is going to put Rose to shame. She is very beautiful, stunning actually." At her last words, my stupid heart decided to start beating really fast and basically give away that I was awake. And judging by the sudden movement of what I guessed was her turning to stare a hole in my head, I guess she pretty much figured it out.

"I've got to go now, Esme. I'll see you tomorrow." She whispered quickly and hung up.

"Alice?" she spoke louder this time and cleared her throat.

"Hm?" I took my time, pretending to wake up, pulling all the necessary stops, from stretching to rubbing my eyes and then yawning a little.

Bella didn't look convinced, she had one eyebrow raised and her lips were in a tight line. She didn't look mad thought, that I had intentionally overheard her conversation, it was more of a who-are-you-trying-to-fool expression.

"Sorry, you took a while to get back." I apologized for the fake sleeping and she nodded accepting my weak excuse, but not really buying it.

She got up smoothly and retrieved all the bags from the table and brought them to the bed. We dug in the food in silence, only it wasn't suffocating or awkward this time, it was more of a I'm too hungry to utter a word silence and the food is surprisingly good even though we are in the middle of nowhere.

It was only when my belly was about to burst and there were barely any scraps of food left in front of us that I decided to offer a peace treaty by engaging in casual conversation as she cleared everything off the bed. "So I'm nice huh?"

"Who's spying now?" she gave me a half smirk and I rolled my eyes as I curled back to my pillow. After the day I just had I could drift off in a second now that my belly was full.

"I haven't been that nice to you." I said with a hint of regret.

"I expected worse." She sat back on the bed facing me again, but now it was my turn to raise a questioning eyebrow.

"Like what?" I asked jokingly. I haven't been the most pleasant company since we met.

"Kicking and screaming and definitely some throwing of things at my face." Her smirk was telling me she was only joking.

"Hey!" I nudged her playfully. "I'm not that immature."

"I know." She paused, her smile withering. "I thought you knew what your pack planned for us. I didn't know you found out about our wedding the very day it happened."

"Would it had changed things, had you known before?" I asked curiously.

"Of course!" She looked a little insulted. "I couldn't have stopped it, but I could have bought you some time to get used to the idea."

"I think my father's point was to have none of that." She tried to say something, but I interrupted her. "Do you think I'm a whore?"

She laughed humorlessly and shook her head for no. "He was thinking with the wrong head when he said that."

I blushed at what she was implying and pressed on unsure. "But I enjoyed it. Us. Being together." I felt my face light up even more at the confession and stared at the foot of the bed.

"Isn't that the point of mating though? Both parties enjoying themselves?" She asked brushing some hair out of my face to cox me to look up to her again.

I wanted to say that the point was to enjoy mating with someone you loved, but I didn't know how she'd take it. So I just nodded to keep the temporary truce that we had fallen into and stared back at the gentle green eyes that bore into mine.

"Can you promise me something?" I asked hoping what I wanted wouldn't be too much. "Tomorrow will you.. Can you not leave my side? I..I'm not afraid or anything." I tried not to sound needy, but my voice cracked awkwardly anyway. "But you are all I have."

"I'll be by your side. Always." Somehow I felt she was talking for more than just tomorrow. I nodded absentmindedly and let my brain finally shut off as I curled closer to the warm body next to me as sleep finally took over.

Honestly I have lost my will to write for Bellice, I don't know if it shows in this chapter, but it felt like pulling teeth writing the end. I'm not sure what will happen to my stories, I want to finish them, but my muse is failing me for now.

Reviews are always appreciated and as always feel free to point out mistakes!