62.

"Well, that was fun. What's next, Bella?"

i'm not sure how to answer Emmett's question

because i hadn't given next any thought

i was focused on never

and how i hoped to feel when Tanya got hers

her last

which feels good...

but not as good i wanted it to

and hoped it would

because my father is still dead

her being too didn't change that

doesn't

or make it hurt any less

or make me feel any less responsible

for a choice i made a long time ago

the day Edward Cullen walked into the school cafeteria

walked… HA!

he strutted

and with that strut put a fork in me

and took all of my choices away

my ability to make sensible ones

and responsible

and self-preserving

though i'm as preserved as preserved gets now…

i'm a fricking jar of Smuckers

an unopened jar

which suddenly gives me my answer "I don't know… but I think maybe it's forever."

and Edward's smile tells me it was the right one

and makes me wish we were alone

eating pie

and preserves

which distracts me of course

along with the heat

that's not coming from The Great Denali Fire

and not a secret perhaps

because Rose chuckles

and mutters a "God help you, little brother…"

before a tiny little bell rings

and gets everyone's attention "I think we should talk about how Bella did. Our gifted Bella."

gifted?

me?

that's funny

and the first time anyone has ever used those two words in the same sentence

or together at all

in any combination

so "Are you making fun of me?" i ask her

because it's occurred to me that her using them meant to do just that

and i don't really think that's funny

or nice

and since i was considering turning over a new nice leaf

it makes me mad that she's trying not to let me "Because if you are–"

"I'm not. I'm singing your praises, if anything. Because what you did… Bella, do you have any idea how amazing that was?"

"How amazing what was?" i ask

because i don't know what she's talking about

"You not letting Kate hurt Edward."

oh that "That's not amazing, that's love."

i said the words without thinking

because i'd never have to think about that

loving Edward…

even when i wanted to hate him

and hurt him

i loved him more than anything

i mean DUH…

but i don't think he knew that

because i don't think he'd be smiling so big now if he did

if he was sure

like i am that i like his big sure-now smile

that i want to keep on his sure-is-and-always-was pretty face "You had me at the sex strut, virtue boy."

me and the rest of the girl world

and maybe even the boy

not that most of them would ever admit it…

but i know the truth

that Edward Cullen is no ordinary boy

no one would be willing to kill for him if he was

or have the power to turn a glitch into a gift

like i did before i did the other

simply because– "You really do love me."

yeah Edward

that

DUH