Thank you to Pipi 96, AnneCullen, hanna111, and Night4. You guys are lovely. Thank you, also, to everyone else for reviewing! I hope you continue to enjoy the story.


She leaned against me as I drove, her head resting on my shoulder, her legs curled up beside her as she dozed. She was warm now, but when I'd found her, sitting by the side of the road, she'd been trembling from the cold, her hands shaking, her body curled up as if to ward off the chill of the wind, and the thin sweater she wore did little to protect her. "Why isn't she wearing a coat? Where's her truck!?' I'd seen her in Alice's vision as I'd pulled a new outfit on, lacing up the tennis shoes and locating my backpack in the corner of the room. She ran from the house in front of my eyes, and although Alice had been able to hide whatever had caused her to be so upset, she hadn't been able to hide this…Bella racing toward the border with no coat, her expression pained and frightened…what had Billy done? I knew it was Billy…it had to be. Jacob was almost unfailingly kind to her, and Billy was the one with the problem with us.

I'd left the house without saying anything to Carlisle or Esme who'd watched me with some concern, and in a few seconds I was speeding down the driveway, wondering what on earth had caused her to flee the house. 'Did he hurt her?' That thought, above everything, had unnerved me, and I knew that if it were true…if he had threatened her or injured her in some way…I would kill him. I had found myself getting angry at the very idea. 'How dare he lay a hand on her! How dare he hurt her!? He…he…might not have done anything to her.' I had to remind myself lest my imagination run away with me. 'For all I know, she fought with Jacob.' I sighted, shaking my head at myself, and glanced down at the dozing girl beside me, her deep breaths letting me know that she wasn't quite asleep.

I wished she would tell me what was troubling her…then maybe I could do something! But she was adamant….she didn't want to talk about it. Or she couldn't. Either way, I didn't know what to do. Peter had warned me to back off…to just be there for her, and Jasper seemed to agree, but it was difficult. I wanted to make her problems go away…to help her. She could live with us…I'd love to have her move in. So would Carlisle and Esme. And my brothers and sisters…even Rosalie was making an effort. She planned on saying 'hello' this morning, a monumental effort I was sure. But the thought of being able to hold her every night…to be the one to wake her in the mornings…she would never want for anything with us…

"Bella? We're here." I murmured, rubbing her arm and kissing her hair as I pulled into the parking lot.

"I'm awake." She mumbled, stretching out a little beside me, and then curling up beside me once more. I chuckled softly, pulling into a parking spot close to the front so she wouldn't have to walk far in the cold. Around us, other students were arriving, some glancing toward my car and others just walking by, ignoring us. The people of Forks knew we were dating….they were getting used to the idea, thankfully. Jessica, the girl who'd been trying to get Bella to speak with her, but who'd had no luck thus far, paused where she was walking beside Angela, her thoughts on Bella.

'I still don't get it…what does he see in her? I mean, I guess she's kind of pretty….' I grimaced a little, irritated at her skeptical thoughts. As if she could understand…..

'Man, does he have to drive her to school every morning? What does she see in that freak?' Ah, Mike Newton. I would most certainly not miss Mike Newton. 'Well…at least I have gym class with her! Oh, and the dance is coming up! I'll bet she'd rather go with me than Cullen! I'll see…' The thought of Bella dancing with the vile Mike Newton, his arms around her, her head against his shoulder, had me seeing red for a moment, and I told myself to calm down. I'd never had any experience with jealousy…but this…this made the emotion quite clear to me. It would kill me to see her with another man. I doubted that she would want to go with a dance to him….she usually dealt with Mike with an air of forced patience, although she was never rude. She listened when he spoke, smiling and humming along, but I could always tell that she was bored. I wondered if he ever suspected the kindness that kept her listening to him. "Bella, we should go inside." I reminded her softly. "You have to wake up."

"I'm awake." She repeated, not moving.

"Really?" I asked with a small smile.

"Mhm. Awake."

"So you're ready to go inside?"

"Yeah." Her voice trailed off, dropping in volume as she pulled the jacked around her more closely. I let the car run, leaning back and keeping an arm around her, and rubbed her back, making her sigh happily. Her skin was warm from the heater, but she seemed perfectly comfortable. I glanced at the clock. We still had a couple of minutes before we needed to get to class…I could let her rest for a few more minutes. I had to admit, it worried me how tired she was in the mornings, although school did start quite early for humans. I knew that she'd slept through the night…I'd been on the phone with her all night. But she'd not been getting enough sleep recently, which had caused her to feel so badly a few days ago. It had Carlisle and Esme both worried, and they both believed it was her grief that was contributing to her trouble sleeping.

Emmett's jeep pulled into the parking lot, puling me from my thoughts and speeding through the lot. It squealed to a stop in the spot next to us, but Bella didn't stir. Emmett leapt out of the jeep on our side, grinning as he quietly opened the door, and before I could reprimand him, he reached in and grabbed her sides gently, running his fingers over her ribs, and she screamed, a startled laugh escaping as she writhed on the seat. She kicked out at him, her foot hitting his chest uselessly, and I had to laugh, reaching around and batting Emmett's arms away. She curled back up in my arms, glaring at him, her cheeks red, and I laughed aloud with Emmett. Jasper and Alice approached, grinning as well, and even Rosalie was smiling.

"Morning Bella." He greeted her belatedly, crossing his arms and leaning in the doorway, and she bristled, pulling her feet in and cowering against me while I wrapped an arm around he, still chuckling. He reached out a hand then, his smile friendly and apologetic. She sighed, sitting up.

"Morning." She grumbled, taking his offered hand and letting him help her out of the car and to her feet. In an instant, I was out of the car as well, my backpack on my back, hers in my hand, and I joined my family. Emmett hugged her quickly, letting Alice have a turn next, and Bella stared at Rosalie in shock for a second when my sister said hello, making Jasper snort in amusement before looking at her more closely.

"Bella, where's your coat?" He wondered, obviously recognizing my coat wrapped around her, and glanced up at me, his thoughts concerned.

"I, um…I forgot it." She laughed casually, crossing her arms and looking sheepish, and I could tell that she hoped they would buy it, but Jasper wasn't fooled.

'She forgot a coat?' He asked me silently in concern, but I shook my head, shrugging my shoulders, letting him know quietly that I knew just as much as he did. Emmett looked concerned as well, and he glanced between us, keeping a hand on Bella's shoulder. 'Is she okay?' I nodded a little.

"I think so…I'll tell you about it later." He nodded, smiling at Bella when she glanced up at him.

"So you're staying with us tonight?" Alice confirmed with an excited smile, and Bella's nod only had Jasper and Emmett looking more concerned, while Rosalie just looked confused. "Great! I can't wait….we're going to…" Emmett moved over a bit, and I put an arm around Bella, leading her toward the school, not wanting her to get cold.

"Let's get inside." I suggested, cutting my sister off and making her stick her tongue out at me. But she agreed, walking with us as we headed for the school building.

"What's going on?" Jasper wanted to know, walking closely at my side, Alice's hand in his.

"No idea. She was waiting for me at the border without a coat…or her truck." His eyes narrowed and his thoughts were still confused and concerned. "She was upset and she asked if she could stay at our house tonight. Alice won't tell me what's going on." He glanced over at Alice who was chatting with Bella, her eyes bright as she told Bella all about the clothes she'd gotten for her and the nail polish that would look best with them. Bella, on the other hand, listened with a bored smile, her mind obviously drifting. "I think she's having trouble with Billy." He frowned at that, his thoughts moving toward anger at the man.

"What kind of trouble?" Emmett wanted to know, but I just shrugged. "Want us to take care of it?" He asked with a grin that matched Jasper's, but I just smiled a little, shaking my head.

"She's not in any danger…I think she's just having a hard time….since her father. She was upset with him last night as well."

"It doesn't seem like her to start trouble." Jasper pointed out, and I nodded.

"No…it doesn't. Which makes me think Billy is starting it."

"Jacob?" Emmett suggested as we entered the building, stepping aside and letting Bella and I go through first, Alice at her side, and then followed with Jasper.

"I doubt it. Jacob's been very kind to her…and supportive of us. I don't think he would want to fight with her. I believe he misses his sisters…they moved away quite a while ago…after the death of their mother. He sees Bella as a kind of…. substitute, I suppose. He treats her like a sister. He's not one to cause trouble either."

"Anything we can do?" Emmett wondered.

"She won't talk about it." Our conversation was cut off when we came to the lobby of the school.

"See you Bella." Emmett rubbed her head, messing up her hair and making her sigh, but she smiled nonetheless, waving to him and Rosalie who said goodbye as well. Jasper did something to her emotions, making her smile softly, and he closed his eyes for a moment. In his mind, I could almost feel the emotions she pushed back at him…happiness, fondness, family love….gratitude….all warm and comfortable. They made his eyes soften as he smiled, taking in the positive emotions, and his hand rested on her shoulder briefly before he turned with Alice, who kissed her cheek, then mind, and they strode away toward their respective classes.

My first class was on the other side of the school, so I began to lead her toward her English classroom, stopping her when she started to shrug out of my coat. "Keep it." I insisted. "You'll have to walk outside later…" She let me fasten it around her once more, my hands on her shoulders as we stood outside of her English classroom, and she watched me curiously. I wanted to ask her one last time to talk to me…to confide in me. I wanted to beg her, to plead with her. Wouldn't she please let me help? But I'd done enough of that…I wasn't willing to drive her away. "I'll see you after class." I told her instead, kissing her forehead, then turning, going to my own classroom, regretting the fact that I only had one class with her.


I would wait for Edward to go hunting…. surely he would have to go sometime, although I didn't know how often he needed to hunt, but he'd told me that when they were in school around humans so often, they had to hunt more. So I would just find out when he was going…or maybe ask Alice. She seemed to be adept at keeping things from Edward. And then I would tell Billy that I would meet with the lawyer, and then I could do whatever I needed to do, and it would all be over…not that I had any idea what exactly I had to do. Maybe I could just get the number from Billy and call the guy. He'd been my dad's lawyer apparently.

I just wanted it all to be over. I could just sell the house…but did I want to sell the house? Would I ever live in it? Could I bear the thought of someone else living there? The questions were too much for me…I didn't know. I knew that my dad was dead. I knew that I could never go to that house without remembering that night….that night when I'd woken to find my father's dead eyes staring at me, his head against the steering wheel…that night when Emmett and Edward had saved me, when Carlisle had knelt beside me, holding my hand and reassuring me…that night when I'd lost one family and been adopted into another.

"Miss Swan?" I jerked to attention, looking up at my mildly irritated English teacher sheepishly.

"Sorry." I mumbled, giving him my attention once more.

"I asked you to open to page 52 and read the first paragraph." With a quiet sigh, I did so, opening the novel and reading aloud, not recognizing where in the plot of The Great Gatsby we were…mostly because I hadn't done the reading. "Now, given the events covered in last nights reading, do you believe that Nick Carraway was right in his previous description of Gatsby?" The question, aimed at me, hung in the air as I sat sheepishly, staring down at my desk, and after a long minute, he crossed his arms. "Since Miss. Swan apparently didn't feel the need to do the assigned reading, what about the rest of you?" Angela raised her hand, giving me an apologetic smile, and I smiled at her reassuringly, letting her know I didn't blame her.

I let my mind drift again, going to Billy this time. 'I really shouldn't have stormed out like that.' I scolded myself, embarrassed after the fact. 'I could have just tried to talk to him…to explain that I didn't know what to do.' But it wasn't in my nature to admit to someone, especially a man that I barely knew who was giving me a place to stay, that I didn't know how to do something…that I needed help. And what if he couldn't help me, or what if he called Renee! I couldn't let her get involved. She'd been distraught enough when she'd learned about Charlie…when she'd called me at the hospital, it had been nearly impossible to reassure her, to convince her that I was okay…that she didn't need to drop everything and come out here. Because I knew she would. And Phil would too…they wouldn't be bothered at all. But I couldn't ask that of her. Phil needed to get signed and she was looking for a new job and I couldn't interrupt their lives like this. Besides, I was sure Renee wouldn't know what to do either…I'd just have to worry about taking care of her as well as myself…and keeping all of this from Edward.

Leah's suggestion came back to me. If I needed help, why not ask Edward? Or Carlisle or Esme? Any one of them…minus Rosalie, would probably be happy to help. Surely one of them knew something about law. It wouldn't be intimidating to ask Emmett…or Alice. Or even Jasper, if I thought about it. But I knew I wouldn't be able to bring myself to do it…to admit to them how scared and confused and…lost I was. Even if they were all going to be my family one day, even if they had trusted me with the biggest secret they had, probably endangering their wellbeing on some level, even….

"Now, the question I'd like you all to address in your essay: was Gatsby great? If so, in what way? What did Fitzgerald mean by 'greatness' in this age? If not, what was he? And how is 'great' being used here? Five pages, double spaced, due Friday." The bell rang as my classmates furiously scribbled out the assignment, and we all stood, pulling our bags over our shoulders. "Miss Swan, I'd like a word please."

I flinched a little, placing my bag back on the desk. Angela gathered her things, turning to me. "I'll save you a seat in history." She promised quietly, turning and heading out the door where I got a glimpse of Edward before the teacher shut the door.

He sighed, walking over to his desk across from where I stood beside mine, crossing his arms. "I understand you've been through a great deal these past few weeks, Miss Swan." He began, and instantly my eyes dropped to the floor and I worked to shut him out. If he started talking about how strong I was, or how sorry he was, then I would lose it, and I really wanted to avoid crying at school…it was bad enough in front of other people at home, or at Edward's. It was unimaginable in front of a teacher. "And I know that it must be very difficult for you to be at a new school in the middle of the semester after such a…tragic event." I didn't answer. Instead I bit my inner lip as hard as I could until I tasted the slight, metallic hint of blood. "However, that does not excuse you from doing your assignments. If you believe that you will be unable to keep up with the class, perhaps you should see about taking more time off. Otherwise, I'll expect you to have the essay completed on Friday just like everyone else. In addition, I'd like a page on symbolism in The Great Gatsby. Tomorrow. Thank you."

I nodded, beyond relieved that I wouldn't have to listen to a speech on how sorry he was or how he'd known my father personally, etc. I threw my backpack over my shoulder and stepped into the hallway, offering a mildly concerned Edward a smile that he hesitantly returned. "Everything okay?" He wondered, glancing at the teacher now sitting at his desk, and I nodded, stepping closer and putting my arms around him.

"Fine." He didn't question me further, putting his arms around me instead and kissing me briefly, then led me toward my next class. We ran into Emmett and Rosalie, and Emmett took a minute to mess my hair up again, grinning when I tried to dodge away, and Rosalie…smiled at me. And waved when she walked away, hand in hand with Emmett who reached down to kiss her hair as they strode down the hall.

"Is Rosalie okay?" I murmured, hoping they were out of hearing range, and Edward chuckled, putting an arm around me as we stepped toward the door to my history class.

"She's fine." He assured me with a grin, kissing me once more, then turned to go to his own class. As I sat beside Angela, I couldn't help but lament the fact that I only had one class with Edward.

"Hey Bella!" I glanced up from my algebra book as Tyler dropped into the seat beside me. This was also one of the classes I didn't have with Angela, so Tyler was usually my partner…although I wasn't too bad at math. On my other side, Jessica and Lauren were listening in.

"Oh…hi Tyler." I smiled at him, my chin on my fist. The teacher was still messing with her papers and folders, and if experience meant anything, then class probably wouldn't start for another five minutes or so.

"So…you know that dance is coming up…"

"Dance?" I frowned for a minute, then remembered. "Oh the spring dance?"

"Yeah…the girl's choice dance. They're having it in the gym, but the food's usually good, and we had fun last year."


"Well, I was just wondering if maybe you wanted to go."

I lifted an eyebrow. "Um….go?"

"Yeah…I mean, if you maybe wanted to go…together."

"Tyler…." I glanced around, wondering if this was supposed to be a joke. "First of all, isn't the girl supposed to do the asking?"

"Well, yeah. I guess I was wondering if you wanted to ask me." He grinned, sitting back confidently, his arms crossed, his smile wide.

"Second…you know I'm dating Edward Cullen, right?"

He seemed a little sheepish now, glancing around. "I mean…I heard…" I'd just kissed Edward in the hallway a few seconds ago…surely people knew we were dating. "I just thought…" He shrugged, trailing off. "So no?"

"No." I told him decisively, rolling my eyes a little. He grinned, shrugging.

"Hey it's cool. There's always prom." My eyes widened and I turned to tell him that I certainly wouldn't be going to prom, and especially not with him, when the teacher stood, switching on the overhead projector. Seething a little at his nonchalant grin, I pulled out my notebook, trying to keep my mind on math.


I couldn't believe it…. couldn't believe he'd had the nerve! And then, after she told him! She told him that she was dating me! His thoughts were smug, patient. 'I'll just ask her after they break up.' After we broke up! What was…who did…why did he…

"Don't break the desk, kid." I glanced over at Emmett who was staring ahead in amusement, his smirk barely noticeable. The teacher didn't even look up when he spoke…only I could hear my brother's quiet warning. "What's wrong with you?"

"Tyler asked her to the dance."

"Thought it was supposed to be girl's choice." He remarked mildly, his amused thoughts giving him away.

"You think this is funny?"

"Did she say yes?"

"No!" I glanced around when I nearly spoke too loudly.

"Then yeah. I think it's funny. Never saw you so worked up about a stupid dance."

"Mike's going to ask her next." I grumbled, able to hear his thoughts easily.

"Bet she's mad." Emmett chuckled under his breath. I had to smile a bit…she seemed rather irritated. But under the irritation, there was something else. Sadness? Was she sad that she couldn't go? Did she think I didn't want to go? Or that I did? Was she going to ask me because she was afraid I'd be disappointed if she didn't? Or was she going to keep quiet because she was afraid I wouldn't want to go? Emmett looked amused again and I glared at him.

'For god's sake, Ed. Just tell her you want to go with her. If she doesn't want to go, then stay in. Have a date night. Make it special. Have sex with her. You're both virgins…trust me, it's fun.' I glared at him, knowing that there was nothing I could do to him while in the middle of the classroom. Judging by his grin, he'd known that before thinking it. 'I don't care either way. Just calm down. You already knew those guys liked her.'

"She's upset." I tried to defend myself, catching Mike in the act of planning out his proposal.

"Which probably has nothing to do with a stupid high school dance. Chill."

"What if she…" I could tell by his thoughts that Emmett was no longer listening, and I rolled my eyes at his unhelpfulness.

But my question was still unanswered. What if she said yes one day? What if she decided that this wasn't the life she wanted? She'd said yes to me…but what if, one day, she realized what she was giving up. Or what if, like Rosalie, she looked back on all the experiences she hadn't been able to have, and regretted her choice. Or worse, resented me for it? Should I not have given in so easily to Alice's insistence that she would be happy? Her visions were subjective. Should I try to convince her to stay human? 'No…I can't. I'm too selfish.' I realized, the thought causing me some shame. I couldn't bear the thought of convincing her to die one day. I certainly couldn't live without her. 'I'll just have to give her every human experience I can…I don't want her to miss anything because of me…' So that meant, I would have to find a way to take her to the stupid high school dance…and maybe kill Mike Newton.


Edward wasn't happy. As soon as I stepped into the hallway, I could see it in the way his jaw was clenched, his eyes narrow as they looked past me into the classroom where Tyler was gathering his things. 'He's jealous.' I realized, but the thought only made me more tired. I didn't care about this stupid high school dance, or the guy asking me to go…or Edward's jealousy at the moment. He put his arm around me, smiling a little, and kissing me for longer than usual before walking with me to the cafeteria. I kept quiet, irritated with men in general for making my life more difficult. 'That's not fair.' I told myself sternly. I was tired and cranky and irritated, but I loved Edward. He was a guy…surely he got jealous and angry sometimes. I would probably be upset if some girl asked Edward to go to the high school dance…which sounded so cliché that I wanted to roll my eyes. Still, it seemed like such a stupid, insignificant thing compared to everything else I had to deal with…compared to how much I was dreading the phone call I would have to make, to facing my dead father's home….to going into my childhood bedroom and remembering once again that my father was dead and that, in a way, I still blamed myself.

Edward insisted on buying my lunch, something I only halfheartedly argued about. With Edward, I had a feeling I would have to pick my battles. As we approached the table where the rest of the family already sat, Alice looked up at me sympathetically, then quickly shifted her expression to one of innocence when Edward stared at her. I eyed the pieces of chicken on my tray with little interest, biting halfheartedly into an apple instead, while Edward still seemed upset. He only looked more upset when Mike Newton entered the crowded cafeteria, and I had a good idea of why. Apparently Mike wasn't the only one who wanted to go with me to the dance. Angela had informed me earlier that Lauren was waiting for an opportunity to ask Tyler and Jessica had already asked Mike and he'd not given her an answer yet, and I had only rolled my eyes, informing her that I had no intention of going regardless.

On top of everything else, I didn't care to deal with Edward's pointless jealousy. So I didn't. Instead, I ignored him. Pointedly. But he was the only one at the table who didn't even seem to notice my attitude. Emmett and Jasper were giving me strange looks, glancing over at Edward who seemed to be concentrating on something…probably the thoughts of either Mike or Tyler. Rosalie was speaking quietly to Alice, and the two of them were throwing glances at the table where Angela, Lauren, Jessica, Mike, and Tyler were sitting. With a sigh, I took another bite of my apple, pulling out The Great Gatsby, and trying to find some symbols.


The human…Bella, stood from the table as the bell rang, taking her tray to the trash and then heading to the door, not waiting for Edward who seemed lost in thought as he walked. Jasper and Emmett were debating, wondering what was wrong, and once again, Alice was lost in the future. She wanted to convince Bella to ask Edward to the dance. Edward was obviously jealous…and wanted Bella to ask him to the dance. And Bella was obviously thinking about more important things…although what those were, I couldn't be sure.

Bella broke away from our group, heading for the bathroom, and I followed, ignoring Emmett's questioning gaze. I had promised to make an effort to get to know the human. This was as good a time as any. I entered the mostly empty bathroom and found Bella leaning against the far sink, washing her hands, her eyes gazing absently down at the running water. 'What am I doing? What do I even say to her? I've never even spoken to her! Well…not really. Effort! I'm making an effort. For Edward. And Emmett. And Carlisle. Certainly not for her…what do I care about the human?' But my thoughts were growing oddly defensive as I watched her tiredly dry her hands, not seeming to notice my presence as the other girls exited the stalls, washing their own hands and leaving in a fraction of the time it was taking her.

She was upset about something. I didn't know what it was…maybe only Alice did. Maybe it was her father still, or something about her mother, or maybe Billy. I wasn't especially close to Carlisle…or not as close as he'd like. But the thought of him dying, of watching him die.…of never seeing him again, made my throat close up in near panic. I couldn't imagine it…couldn't imagine the effect it would have on our family. I couldn't understand how Bella was feeling, but if it was anything like the grief I felt just imagining losing my adoptive father, then I knew it must still be incredibly hard for her. 'Why do I care?' Part of my brain still asked. 'Why does it matter to me if she's hurting?' The callous question was asked halfheartedly as I realized that I did care…after seeing how happy she made Edward…how happy she made everyone, I realized that I couldn't help but care…couldn't help but wonder what all of the fuss was about. 'Well, she's as good as family now I suppose. Better get used to it. I'm not happy about it.' I told myself firmly. 'She's not my sister or my new best friend or anything. I still think she's crazy. But I should probably try to help her.'

She was still drying her hands when the bell rang, and I approached her, clearing my throat softly. The human glanced up at me, meeting my eyes with her own dark brown ones, the apparent exhaustion surprising me. I'd heard of humans suffering from depression…heck, vampires suffered from it too…I certainly had. Wasn't constant exhaustion a symptom? I didn't plan on asking her…but I decided to talk to Carlisle about it. 'He'll be happy to see me taking an interest in the family pet.' The thought lacked the usual malice, I realized with some surprise. "Hey." I greeted her before any more almost friendly thoughts could escape.

"Hi Rosalie." She seemed wary…her eyes glancing around the bathroom, and I thought about baring my teeth at her, just for fun.

'Maybe not the right time….' I thought with some amusement. "Are you alright?" That question hadn't come out quite as formal as I'd hoped…there was a little too much real sympathy in there for my taste.


"Liar." I told her with a smirk, feeling a little more comfortable. "And a terrible one at that. I hope you don't have any aspirations for the theatre." A reluctant smile tugged at her lips. "Would you like to…talk?" She lifted an eyebrow and now I was the one smiling. "Would you like to…sit in silence in the women's bathroom?" She laughed a little at that, the gratitude in her eyes unnerving me. 'I haven't even done anything.' 'You offered to sit with her.' I sighed at the inner debate. "Come on." I jerked my head towards the door. "I don't feel like sitting through the rest of school. Let's go home." I have no idea what prompted me to say that. I mean…I did have the keys to Emmett's jeep. Everyone could fit in Edward's car. It wasn't really a question of everyone getting home…it was a question of me being alone with this girl. There was no one at the house. Carlisle and Esme were out together, as were Peter and Charlotte. Alice would probably keep everyone at school so that we could have 'bonding time.' But what was I supposed to say? How could I make the girl feel better?

She followed me out the door, her silent surprise obvious on her face. It wasn't difficult to leave…we just walked out the front doors. I knew that Edward was probably searching the school for her, skipping in and out of everyone's mind to find her. I focused on chemistry, the course I was supposed to be in, letting my thoughts drift to my closet until we reached the jeep. I helped the girl climb into the passenger seat, then sat in the driver's seat, not really thinking about what I was doing. Keeping Edward out of my mind was easy when I pretended to think about clothes and engines all the time.

"Why are you doing this?" I glanced over when the girl suddenly spoke, staring at me warily, as though she hadn't thought about what she was doing either. "You don't…I mean…." I grinned at the road, driving just slowly enough that we wouldn't get caught. I wasn't a mind reader or a psychic. I wouldn't be able to tell if any policemen were nearby, waiting for speeders…or kids playing hooky.

"I don't like you?" I supplied with some amusement. The girl had nerve, I could give her that. "Isn't it obvious? I'm getting you alone so that I can enjoy my meal in peace." I grinned at her, showing her my teeth, but she only lifted an eyebrow, looking more amused than worried.

"Right. Well I guess this is the end." She shrugged carelessly, leaning back against the seat, and I snorted.

'Finally. Someone who gets sarcasm.' Edward would have been horrified had he been in the car with us. But Bella seemed a little more at ease. "I don't dislike you." I said suddenly, needing to let her know. Because I didn't…not really. "I…" I had her full attention now, her obviously intelligent mind working behind her eyes, probably trying to figure out what my problem was. "I don't agree with the decision you're making…giving up your life…giving up your humanity. I think…you're making the wrong decision, being with Edward. And not because I don't think you love him….I think you're giving up too much." As I said the words, I knew that it wasn't my choice…that I hadn't had one, but that didn't mean I could make hers for her. And I didn't intend to. It was probably out of my hands, regardless of how I felt. Everyone loved her so much…they didn't seem to care that she was giving up her humanity. "You're just so young…" I thought of my own youth, of the dreams I'd had. A baby…all I'd really wanted before meeting Emmett.

A warm, soft hand hesitantly touched mine on the steering wheel, and I turned to find her eyeing me sadly, as though she somehow knew…she didn't ask me to explain myself, and it occurred to me that this girl had a talent for comfort…a talent for listening and being sympathetic. She was like Carlisle, who could smile so kindly, and hold you so gently, that you felt like he could solve all your problems, like he could keep you safe. 'Why? Why is this girl so quick to comfort me when she's obviously in pain herself.'

"Edward didn't tell me your story." She told me softly, and it didn't sound like she was prying…it sounded like she was apologizing…apologizing that she didn't understand what was causing me pain…apologizing for not knowing how to help.

'Stop.' I ordered myself sharply. 'This isn't why I brought her here.' As we were, I realized, in the driveway to our house…my house. "It's long and sad. I don't want to bore you." She didn't claim that she wouldn't be bored…didn't ask for more information. She just nodded, pulling her hand away. 'She can't ask for comfort but she sure knows how to give it.' The thought was disturbing in a way as I watched her jump down from the jeep, leading her into the house and then into the living room where I paused. 'Well…what now?'

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed the chapter. I wasn't sure about my portrayal of Rosalie...I never am...but I'm especially unsure now...regardless, I hope it's not awful.