Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, Stephanie Meyers does. However, I do own this plot and storyline. I also own my own original characters.

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Chapter 15: Wild Hearts and Dreams

EPOV

I wake in a cold sweat, the nightmare making me nauseous by how real it all seemed. It's been a week since the bar incident with Jane. Garrett took all the information he had obtained to the sheriff, who in turn, presented it to the county judge. Not only was an order of protection issued against Jane, but also a warrant was issued for Jane and the Call brothers. There is only one problem, no one can find them.

Bella is offering up a reward to anyone who knows their whereabouts. But, it's as if they just fell off the face of the earth. From what Garrett told us, they had a Seattle police officer go question the Aro's about their daughter. Of course, they said that they didn't even know where she is or that she had even been in Texas.

They'll have to come out of hiding eventually, but I'm not gonna worry about it today. Today, I'm taking Bella on our first date and I hope that she'll let me have a second one afterwards.

I'm lost in my own thoughts as I make breakfast and just about jump out of my skin when I feel a hand on my arm.

"Hey," Bella asks softly, concern lacing her voice, "you wanna talk about it?"

"Just haven't been sleeping very well," I answer evasively.

"My daddy always said," she starts with a small smile, "that you should never start a relationship with secrets. If you can't tell your other half the truth and let them help carry the burden, then there's no use being in the relationship."

I think about what she said and I know that she's right. I do want to have a relationship with her, and I definitely know how much honesty and communication is important. I take a deep breath and turn to give Bella all of my attention. "I've been having nightmares and I can't go back to sleep afterwards. They just seem so real."

"That's understandable with everything that's been going on," she said with a comforting voice. "You're gonna have to remember that you're not alone in this. We're all here to help."

Bella reaches up on her toes, placing a soft kiss to my cheek before turning to go wake Cassie for breakfast. I finish cooking and the next thing I know, little arms are wrapping around my leg. I look down, smiling, and see two sleepy blues eyes staring up at me.

"Morning, baby girl," I greet softly. "You want some juice?"

"Yeah," Cassie whispers. "No sad."

"How can I be sad when I get to see your pretty smile in the morning?" I ask, reaching down to tickle her. "Let's find your cup and get you some orange juice and breakfast."

As everyone is sitting in the dining room eating breakfast, Emmett clears his throat, glancing at a glassy-eyed Rose before he speaks. "Um, yesterday Rose and I were approved to be foster parents for Heidi."

The dining room explodes in joy, tears, and congratulations before he can continue.

"Wait, wait," Rose bellows above the noise, and everyone settles down. "Our goal is to adopt her, but there are a few kinks we have to work out first before we can continue the paperwork."

"What kinks?" my mother asks, wiping the tears from her eyes.

"Um … it's," Rose hesitates, looking down at her plate. "We have to find a place to live. They won't let us bring her into a mansion with twenty people." Rose quickly looks over to Bella, "Their words, not mine. She's in a delicate state mentally and needs a calm, quiet, smaller home to escape to." Emmett gently grabs a hold of her hand as she takes a deep breath, "Sorry, this isn't coming out right."

"Actually, you explained it perfectly," Bella interjects. "And it's also completely understandable."

I notice Bella and Jessica share a look and then Jessica nods her head, tears gathering in her eyes.

"You and Emmett can have my house," Bella states with a sad smile. "Um, I haven't been there in years, so I've got no clue what needs to be done to it. If we all pitch in, we could probably have it ready by next week."

"I'm confused," Emmett blurts out. "Aren't we living in your house now?"

Bella laughs humorlessly, but Jessica is the one to explain. "Bella and Mike had a house here on the ranch before he died. It's sat empty for the last six years."

"No, Bella," Rose starts, but Bella is quick to cut her off.

"Yes," Bella states in a nonsense tone. "It's just sittin' there." Bella's face softens and she gently puts her palm down onto the table. "Please, put it to good use before it rots away. Please, take the house." Bella shakes her head slowly, "I'll never live there. Actually, I don't think I ever really lived there to begin with.

"When Cassie and I came home from the hospital after she was born, we moved into this house with my dad. My old house has three bedrooms, lots of windows, and there's even a fenced backyard," Bella explains, her mood lightening as she speaks.

"Bella." Emmett sighs, the emotion in his voice can't be missed. "You're a wonderful woman. Thank you so much for doing this for us."

"Just remember." She smirks at him, lightening the mood. "I still expect you at dinner. We'll just have a new family member to feed."

Cassie pats her mother's arm to get her attention, "What's up, baby girl?" Bella asks her softly.

"Get Edi?" Cassie whispers looking up at her mother. "Here?"

"Yeah, cool huh?" Bella asks her excitedly. "Would you like Heidi to come live on the ranch with Em and Rose?"

"Yeah." Cassie smiles at her mother. "Me pay?"

"Yeppers, y'all can play together all the time now," Bella answers, making Cassie smile. Her whole face lights up with a huge smile and her eyes go wide with excitement.

"They're in the same class, right?" Rose asks, wiping a tear from her cheek.

"Yeah," Bella answers with a smirk. "And they've been known to get into mischief together as well."

"Ain't nothin' new 'round here," Jake blurts out. "We all get into a little mischief every now and then."

"All right," Alice bellows, clapping her hand together. "Bella, Edward, and Seth, you need to get your pups outside. We have puppy training class in ten minutes."

"No can do," I answer, her eyes narrowing. "Jasper's gonna take Lleu 'cause I gotta take care of something else this morning."

"Whatever." Alice shoots me a sly smile. "Jasper, have your nephew outside in ten. I'm going to go set-up."

I get Lleu and his leash, handing them both to Jasper, before heading to Jessica and Seth's house. I opted to use their kitchen to prepare the picnic lunch I'm making for Bella for our date. Seth's already there, hooking Luke's leash onto his collar, and making his way over to meet Alice.

"It's all yours, man," Seth states, holding the door open for me. "By the way, I think it's great what you're doin' for her."

"Thanks," I answer a little nervously. "I just hope she gives me a chance."

"She will," he comforts with a slap to my shoulder as he walks out the door.

I hurry and get to work on the food, letting my mind wander a bit. Cooking has always been a great stress reliever for me; it's very methodical. I quickly rinse the quinoa so that I can cook it and add it to the mushroom salad that I'm going to stuff in yellow bell peppers. While the fried chicken is cooking, I'm able to whip together the vegan potato salad, strawberry lemonade, and fruit with yogurt dip that I've planned for dessert.

I must have really been lost in my thoughts because I jump when Jessica sets a saddlebag on the counter. "Damn, Edward. Didn't you hear me come in?" she asks, looking at me with concerned eyes.

"No," I sigh out. "Just a little jumpy, I guess."

"Well, let me help you pack all this up," she states. I can tell that she doesn't believe my lame excuse. "Eric is saddlin' your horses now."

We hurry and get the bag packed. Jessica takes it to the barn where the horses are waiting while I go get Bella. I walk in the house and can hear laughter coming from the living room so I head in there. Cassie is playing with the pups. Well, she is fussing at them in her own language as they run around trying to get her dolls.

I just shake my head at their antics as I walk over and whisper in Bella's ear. "Would you mind joining me for lunch?"

She looks up at me a little startled. "Sure," she answers quietly, getting up from the chair and kissing her daughter's temple. Sarah just waves her off, knowing she's fixing to ask her to watch Cassie.

As I take her hand and walk her out of the house toward the barn, she gets a confused look on her face. "Where ya takin' me?"

"You're just gonna have to wait and see." I smirk, leading her into the barn where both of our horses are saddled and waiting for us.

"We're going riding?" she exclaims, her voice full of excitement.

"We are," I state. "Hop on or we're gonna be late for our reservation."

She narrows her eyes, glaring at me, as she skillfully mounts her horse. We ride side by side down the trail leading to the meadow by the pond that Billy showed me last week. When we're close to the clearing, I take the lead so I can dismount and help her down. Really, I think I just need to touch her because her touch calms me and I'm a nervous shit right now.

As I reach to help her, she grabs my hand. "You need to calm down. It's just you and me. We know each other."

"Sorry," I mumble, reaching for the picnic basket and blanket. "Just wanna make sure everything's perfect."

"And it will be," she comforts, grabbing my hand and leading us further into the clearing, closer to the pond. "How did ya find my favorite place?"

"Um, Billy showed it to me," I answer hesitantly, not wanting her to be upset that I invaded her special spot.

"It's beautiful, isn't it?" she asks, twirling around as I lay the blanket out. "Cassie and I come here sometimes, just to get away. I'm glad you picked it for our first date, just makes it all the more special."

And just like that, all my nerves are gone. She's twirling and smiling and I can't help the smile that spreads across my face at how utterly blissful she looks.

"Come sit before you make yourself dizzy, pretty girl," I tell her as I start setting out the food.

We sit and look out over the pond as we enjoy the lunch I prepared. I get a little embarrassed by her praises of how wonderful everything tastes.

"Tell me something no one else knows about Bella Swan," I encourage, wanting to get to know everything about her.

"Hmm, let's see," she states thoughtfully. "I'm not sure if no one else knows or not, but when I need to get my thoughts in order, I go outside at night and talk to my parents. It helps talkin' through your thoughts sometimes, and I feel closer to them when I do it."

"That's understandable," I agree wholeheartedly. "Sometimes just voicing your thoughts out loud helps you understand them."

"Your turn," she giggles, lightening the tensions from talking about her parents.

"Let me think," I reply. "I bartended at night when I was in culinary school so I that would have extra spending money and didn't have to rely on my parents so much."

"And they never found out?" she inquires.

"Nope," I proclaim. "They would've felt bad or been disappointed that I didn't come to them first.

"Now, tell me five things you want to do, that you haven't had a chance to experience yet?" I question hoping to learn more about her dreams.

"Like a bucket list?" she challenges.

"I don't really like to call it a bucket list, but yeah, something like that," I reply, glaring playfully as she giggles.

"Okay, okay." She sobers and sits up straight. "I wanna go divin' off the coast of Australia. Um … salmon fishin' in Alaska." She nods her head, as if she is agreeing with her own statement. "My dad always wanted to go, but we didn't get a chance."

Bella takes a deep breath and plays with the hem on her shirt. "Okay, three more. Let's see." Her head quickly snaps up, looking me in the eyes. "Oh! I wanna take Cassie to see the Northern Lights; we'd both love that. Go on a safari." She gives me a pointed look. "And I mean a real one. One where you're up close with the animals."

Her enthusiasm is overwhelming at all the things that she wants to experience. Bella's head drops back, exposing her neck as she looks up to the cloudless sky. "Last one. Damn, there's so much I want to experience." Her focus is brought back to me and her hand makes its way back to the hem on her shirt. "It's hard to pick just five. Zip lining. Yeah, I wanna go zip lining in the Amazon," she finishes, throw her hands in the air as if she just made a touchdown. She turns to smirk at me. "Out with it, mister. What are your five things to experience?"

"I guess I'm not as adventurous as you," I smirk back at her. "Although, all of yours sound really cool. Well, I want to learn how to surf. I love the water and always thought the surfers looked so cool out there on the waves. Another thing that I want to do is to sleep under the stars." I give her a pointed look. "And, I don't mean passed out drunk on a beach somewhere, either. Like, I really want to stargaze until I fall asleep." I take a deep breath as I think through my next couple of experiences. "Go whale watching and swim with dolphins in the wild, not in a tank at SeaWorld. I wanna learn how to scuba dive so that I can actually swim with the dolphins. And one more would be to experience Carnival in Rio de Janeiro," I finish as she sits there quietly.

"Edward," she whispers. "Those all sound amazing. Don't ever think they're not as adventurous or excitin' as mine. It's who you experience them with that make them memorable."

We continue to share tales of our lives with each other until I notice she's starting to get tired.

"One more thing from my list, and then we need to head back so that you can get outta the heat and rest," I tell her, helping her stand from the blanket.

"And what would that be?" she pries, never letting go of my hand.

"Can I kiss you?" I blurt out, not even knowing where the confidence came from.

"You better make it good if you're gonna mark it off the list," she sasses.

As soon as my lips touch hers, it's like home. The passion between us is undeniable. If I hadn't already fallen, I believe deep in my soul that I just did. She tastes like the sweetest wine made from the purest grapes ever grown. I will never be able to get enough.

"Wow," she whispers as the kiss ends, but I never release her from my embrace. "That was one helluva kiss."

"And if you allow me to take you on a second date, you might get another one," I state playfully, kissing the tip of her nose.

"I think a second date is in order." She smirks, shoving me playfully and bending over to retrieve the blanket. "Now get me back home, Casanova."

That week, we do have a second date, and a third. It's also becoming increasingly hard to keep my hands and lips off her. However, we're gonna take it slow and get to know each other. However, one thing I know for certain, I've fallen in love with Bella Swan.

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