Beta'd by HollettLA :)

Secrets & Wishes

Only a diner is open at five in the morning the day after.

I spot Jasper and Emmett, both looking awful, and join them in their booth. It's a pre-dawn breakfast with sweatpants and sullen expressions. Emotional and physical exhaustion.

I don't look any better. Numb and all cried out, I'd pulled on a pair of jeans, a hoodie, and definitely no makeup. It was Jasper who'd asked me to breakfast with him and Emmett, and I need a breather. Edward's asleep anyway.

A waitress comes over to pour us coffee. "Are you ready to order?"

I'm not hungry, so I go with a side order of toast while the guys order pancakes and bacon.

"So…" It's the first word uttered, and it's Jasper.

I blow out a breath and lean back, sticking my hands in the hoodie's front pocket. It's Edward's.

"Sorry I didn't respond to your text, Bella." Emmett runs a hand over his head and fidgets with a packet of Splenda. "I couldn't deal with anything last night."

I lift a shoulder, understanding. "I'm sorry this happened to you. I wish I'd known. Rose…" I shake my head as remnants of anger resurface. "If I'd known, I wouldn't have…"

That hurts. And I don't know what to do. Rose has been so nice, so sweet. More mature than ever, and just…just normal.

Emmett shakes his head. "Don't worry about it, hon."

Of course I'll worry about it.

"What about you?" I nudge Jasper with my elbow. "That was quite the revelation."

He slumps back and rubs his jaw tiredly. "I fucked up."

Emmett eyes him. "What happens now?"

Jasper chuckles humorlessly. "I get divorced, and my parents disown me. I kept my sexuality hidden for a reason."

"I'm sorry." My words are useless, no matter how true they are. Infidelity is inexcusable to me, regardless. What Edward and I did in Seattle, what Jasper and Ben have been doing… They're dick moves. Edward and me more so than Jasper and Ben, in my opinion. They have a lot more to lose, and they were partly pressured into hiding—from their parents, at least. They should've been honest with Alice and Angela.

How Alice chose to reveal everything is another matter… Right now, I can't muster much sympathy for her.

"God, last night sucked." I rub my temples, memories from everything going down yesterday haunting me. "First and last reunion for me."

"Amen," Jasper mutters. "I'm glad you were spared yesterday—or somewhat spared."

My turn to chuckle without mirth. "At least until I discovered my parents aren't actually my parents."

"What the fuck?" Emmett frowns.

I wave it off. Bottom line, my childhood was amazing; I'm one of the lucky ones. I don't feel comfortable complaining about the secrecy and betrayal with a man who was sexually assaulted and a man who's felt the need to hide who he is.

"I'll get over it, but yeah. Kate took it upon herself to let me know my dad is actually my uncle, and then Edward told me Charlie and Kate's older sister gave birth to me." Now that I say it out loud, it's bizarre, and I can only shake my head. "Good times."

"Jesus." Jasper shakes his head too. There's very little else we can do. It's all one big clusterfuck. "I don't know what to say."

"I don't know about you guys, but I'm ready to leave Washington behind," Emmett murmurs. "Start fresh somewhere else."

I don't reply, because I can't picture it. The concept of starting fresh seems naïve to me. Wherever we go, we're bringing the past with us.

"I hope you stay," I offer softly. "If there's one thing I learned last night—well, other than…a whole lot—it's that we can pick our friends as well as our family." I peer up at Jasper next to me. "Maybe your parents will be dickheads who won't see you anymore, and I can't imagine that pain. But if there's anything I can help with, I'm here. Same with you, Emmett." I look to Emmett again. "I came back to Forks because this is home. This is where I want to build my life, and building implies creating, right? I choose who to spend my life with. Whether it's Edward by my side, or maybe a future neighbor in either of you. Friends, family—those lines can blur."

"They chose you, Isabella."

"They chose you, Isabella."

I draw a shaky breath as I remember Edward whispering in my hair. Mom and Dad…Renee and Charlie…they chose me. They created a family with me.

The hurt is too fresh to move past, but even I can't ignore logic. Fear holds us back sometimes. We get scared and make things worse. We try to forget, and we don't tell people when we should.

"Well, aren't you a little motivational speaker this morning." Jasper smiles ruefully before turning to Emmett. "She's right, though. I guess…if we surround ourselves with good people, we'll move past this eventually."

Emmett nods pensively. "Maybe. I don't know. I can't see it right now."

No one can fault him for that. Last night, everyone learned about Emmett. And he holds a very official position in Forks. There's going to be reminders everywhere.

"Maybe a break?" I suggest. "All I'm saying is, don't let anyone—or anything—run you out of town. If you move permanently, it'll be because you want it."

Our breakfast arrives, leaving us with a comfortable silence for a few minutes. I think I want to take a break too. Before I face Mom, I want to let the dust settle.

"Why the fuck did she have to say all that in front of everyone?" Emmett grits his teeth, then lets out a sigh. "She only made it worse."


"What I don't understand is why she called Rose so often," I say. "She went with us when Rose and I needed clothes for the reunion."

"She was digging for information." Jasper picks at his food. "That's what she does. She probably wanted to get a sense of what Rose is like today."

I push my plate away from me. I don't want to defend Rose—I'm not ready—so I say nothing.

"I thought I was over it," Emmett says quietly. "Then she moved back, and… I don't know."

I take a breath, wanting to say one thing at least. "This doesn't excuse what she did, but for what it's worth, I don't believe she's a person who would tell you to just get over it today. She's…I don't know how to put it, but I think she carries a lot of guilt. Last night, she could've fled the room in a second. Instead, she stood there and took it. Everyone stared at her, and she let them."

Jasper hums. "We always did wonder why she stayed married to that douchebag."

"Royce?" I tilt my head.

He nods. "You know Rose's mom likes to talk." No one in Forks doesn't know that. "Word is, Royce got rough with her."

Guilt would lead her to believe she deserved the treatment. God, that's fucking horrible. And completely the wrong way to seek redemption. The only one she owes penance to is Emmett.

"We were seventeen," Emmett says. "What the fuck am I supposed to do about this now? I don't want her in my life, but she was a kid—"

"Don't do that, hon," I tell him. "I don't care if you were twelve or twenty. Don't minimize what happened." I pause as I take a sip of my coffee. "Have you talked to a professional?"

He shakes his head.

"Maybe you should, man," Jasper murmurs. "After last night, I reckon we all need therapy."

I snort softly.

Outside, the sky is turning a glowing orange.

Emmett's watching the horizon too. "I think I'm gonna go see my cousin in Texas for a while. Dale's always on my case about visiting, and I haven't met his family yet. He just had twin boys."

I think that sounds like a good idea.

"I'll do the counseling too," he adds. "I should've done that years ago."

I'm relieved.

The waitress comes over again. "Refills, anyone?"

"Can I see the menu again, please?" I ask. "I'd like to bring something with me back to the hotel." Edward's going to be awake when I get there. "What about you, Jasper? You wanna bring breakfast to your darling wife?"

"I don't think they serve divorce papers here."

Emmett chuckles, and I muster a small grin.

"Good thing you're a lawyer. Silver lining, right?" Emmett smirks.

Jasper huffs. "I don't practice family law, jackass."

Emmett shrugs.

"Maybe what you should be practicing is music," I note and sip my coffee. "Just sayin'."

Jasper sighs, running a hand through his curly hair. "There's a lot I should be doing."

"Not too late," Emmett points out. "Are you and Ben gonna be official?"

At that, Jasper shifts in his seat, and his expression thaws. If I didn't know any better, I'd say he's uncomfortable in a kinda cute way. "Yeah, he said we should finally buy a house together."

"Aww." I cling to that. I need something good to come from the shitshow last night. Maybe it's coming out of the closet. Works for me. "I feel awful for Angela, though."

Jasper winces. "Me too. Fuck. This is gonna blow."

Emmett clears his throat. "That's what he said."

I cover my inappropriate laugh behind a cough.


"I smell coffee, and you were gone," Edward grumbles sleepily.

"Observant man, Mr. Cullen." I sneak under the covers and cuddle up against his warm body. I kiss the spot between his shoulder blades.

"Cold girl, Miss Swan."

Yeah, but my feet like the warmth of his calves plenty.

He yawns and rolls over to gather me close. "Where were you?"

"I had breakfast with Emmett and Jasper." I yawn because his set mine off.

"Oh? How are they doing?"

"At the moment, not very good." I let his comfort wash over me, and I revel in it. "I think they'll be fine, though."

"That's good." He tucks a piece of hair behind my ear, then lifts my chin. "I'm more worried about you. How are you feeling?"

The anxiety in my chest makes the answer easy. "Hurt." But seeing him, Edward, and being with him, makes the rest just as simple. "I'll get past it eventually. Mom and Dad were scared, and we're human. We fuck up, right?"

"That we do," he murmurs.

"I think I'll cry about it a lot in the months to come." I feel the need to warn him. The notion that Mom and Dad aren't mine in that sense is going to take time to recover from. It's possible I'm still in shock, I don't know. How does one react to news like this?

"I'll be there every step of the way, baby."

I sigh contentedly and squeeze his middle tightly. "So…since you tease me about the eye mask, can I tease you about joining the Secrets and Wishes tradition?"

He rumbles a sleepy chuckle and squeezes me back. "I was hoping you'd forget that part."

I peer up at him and use his bicep as my pillow.

His gaze softens, and his morning scruff glints in the sun peeking through the blinds. "To be honest, I've joined every year. Not sure why. Sometimes it feels good getting things off my chest."

I hum. It doesn't escape me that the focus last night was solely on secrets, but I'm more interested in Edward's wishes.

"What did you wish for?"

He touches my cheek. "The year you graduated, I wished for the courage you displayed. To go after dreams and goals." He kisses my nose. "Last spring, I wished for another encounter with you."

My eyes flash to his. "Really?"


I smile. "What are you going to wish for next spring?"

His mouth tugs up too. "Not a damn thing, my darling. Wishes won't get me anywhere." Oh. Well, that's a good point, I guess. "I'm done wishing. I'm going to work instead. First of all, I'm going to put in a formal request that we end the Secrets and Wishes tradition at Forks High."

I giggle at that. "Probably a good idea."

"Indeed." He kisses my forehead next. "Then I'm going to spend the rest of my life being the best man and father I can be. I don't want to disappoint myself again."

I quirk a grin. "A man with a plan, huh?"

"A man with a plan," he confirms. "That means complete honesty."

"Thank God." I don't think I can handle more secrecy.


One perk of having a boyfriend who's friends with your mother is that he can talk to her on my behalf. I'm not ready yet, and Edward and I want to indulge and spend some more time alone in Port Angeles. So he calls her and asks if it's all right we pick up the boys tonight, and she says it's more than okay.

Then I ask Edward out on the most unsexy date in history.

"Well, when you put it that way, how can I resist?" he drawls.

And we end up shopping for school supplies. School starts Thursday, and Masen and Anthony need stuff.

"We need to figure out how to get home too," I say as we cross the street. Staples is waiting for me, and my Visa is gonna be on fire.

"No need," he replies. "I spoke to Carlisle while you were in the shower, and he wanted to get away from the city for a bit. We'll have dinner with him at seven, then he'll drive us home."

"Okay, cool." I thread our fingers together because now I can. "Where's he going to sleep?"

"Funnily enough, he declined the offer to take my bedroom," he mentions. "I think that means he's sleeping at Renee's."

"Interesting." I smirk a little.

We cross the parking lot and enter the store where I move toward the carts.

"We could go with baskets instead," Edward interjects.

"You haven't seen me shop for school supplies before. Trust me, honey, we need a cart."

He frowns, first at our linked hands, then at the carts. "Fine, but I'll drive it. I want to enjoy this." He gives my hand a squeeze.

I smile and reach up to kiss him. "Now who's the adorable one?"

"You." He grabs a cart and drives it with one hand, and he's only mildly annoyed whenever I dart off to get something from the shelves.

I go nuts for pens and take time to pick out two backpacks, but Edward takes the cake when choosing lunch boxes. He stands there hemming and hawing for a solid twenty minutes. In the meantime, I call in sick at the clinic, meaning I'm postponing my clients unless they're urgent.

"You'll have to face Renee at some point, honey."

"I know," I mumble, scrolling through my phone.

"Is there anything other than the fact that they didn't tell you?" he wonders. "It's a big deal, of course. I'm only curious if there's more to it."

"It's just…bizarre." I lean against the cart while he inspects a lunch box with soccer players on it. I love that he's trying to get to know Masen better. "It feels less, almost. Less real."

"That's what I feared." He puts the lunch box back. "Let me ask you this, then. If we—and I hope we do—become a family one day—"

I make a happy, startled noise because I'm a dork.

He kisses my goofy smile.

"Pay attention, little girl," he growls playfully. Um, how can I pay attention when he does that? Sexy bastard. "If—hell, when—we become a family, is James Masen's father more than me? Will you be less of a mother to Anthony than Kate?"

I swallow, equally hopeful and sad. I see his point, and I would never rank James higher. He's a lousy excuse for a father, who clearly cares more about a new promotion than checking in with Masen. And Kate…don't get me started. She doesn't give two shits even when they live in the same town.

"You're right," I answer quietly. "It's wrong of me to say my parents are less real because of this."

In the end, I have to ask myself if it matters. Biology doesn't make people parents. It hurt to learn about this, yes, but when I compare it to everything my parents have done for me…?

I release a breath, deflating. It's a matter of accepting and moving on. I'll work on it.

"Tell me your thoughts, sweetheart." He traps me against the cart, gripping the handlebar on each side of me. "I don't like it when you're sad."

I manage a weak smile as I peer up at him. "Just promise me we'll stay honest. I know they'd never do anything to hurt me, but the surprise is a nasty one. I don't want to live through it again—or put someone else through it."

"You have my word," he murmurs. "Full disclosure. If we adopt your nonexistent sibling's child, we'll tell him or her sooner."

"You're not funny." Yet, I'm struggling not to chuckle.

"I'm a little funny." He leans down, our noses touching. "Kidding aside—and in the interest of full disclosure—is it possible to fall in love in a couple months?"

I suck in a breath, my pulse skyrocketing. "Yes," I whisper, sure of it.

He smiles softly and brushes his lips to mine. "I thought so," he whispers back. "I love you so very much, Isabella."

I close my eyes and kiss him deeper, and I repeat his words to me over and over. "I love you too. More than I can describe."