Chapter 2

"How... how do you know it's Jacob?" I asked Edward who was still holding me bridal-style, growling against me.

"I can't see who's calling," Alice explained with a grimace. "Only the wolves are hidden from me."

Carlisle went to pick up, and I ordered Edward to put me down. I wasn't a child, and I wouldn't hide. He obeyed me unhappily, but I glared at him. I could at least handle myself.

"Carlisle Cullen speaking."

I wouldn't be able to hear anything with my human ears, but Carlisle switched on the loudspeaker for me. I shot him a grateful smile as a deep and agitated voice resonated around the room.

"Yes, um... This is Billy Black."

"Good day to you, Mr Black," Carlisle said, the epitome of politeness. "How may I help you?"

"I got a call from Charlie this morning. It appears that you took Bella away with you, without his consent," Billy said menacingly.

"I'm afraid you are mistaken," Carlisle answered very calmly, ignoring my outraged gasp. "We went to fetch Bella after she phoned my son. She was the one who wanted to leave. Then we nursed her wounds."

"Wounds?" Billy sounded surprised. "What wounds?"

"Didn't Charlie tell you that he hit Bella this morning? That she fell in their kitchen? That she was bleeding from her temple? That she has bruised ribs and a concussion?"

"No,"Billy admitted after a few seconds, his voice a little subdued. "Charlie didn't tell me any of this. He only told me that he slapped Bella."

"That alone would have justified her desire to leave," Carlisle stated firmly. "But as it is, she asked us to come and get her. As you know, she's eighteen, and makes her own choices. Now she's here, as she wishes, and we'll take care of her."

"Jacob wants to talk to her," Billy said, unimpressed, clearly not believing a word. I snorted in disgust, earning incredulous looks from around me. Where was old, shy Bella? I dimly wondered.

"It's up to Bella," Carlisle said, glancing at me, and I nodded, bracing myself. I might as well deal with him now, and be left well alone afterwards, when everything was out in the open. I walked to Carlisle, but Edward passed me in a blur and grabbed the phone.

"I'll deal with him, love," he said imperiously, scowling at the phone.

But I wasn't going to have any of that. My anger boiled in my veins, and I really tried to keep it within, but God, was it hard! I'd had enough of people treating me like I were a five-year old and stealing my decisions. And I wouldn't take bullshit from anyone anymore, not even Edward.

"Pass me the phone," I ordered him calmly, keeping my temper in check, for now. "I need to talk to Jake."

"Edward..." Jasper murmured in warning, watching me with wide eyes.

"Bella, love," he protested, "you're in no condition to do this. Please let me..."

"Don't you dare make my decisions for me, Edward Anthony Cullen!" I scowled, voice raised. "Enough already! I live my life, and I alone decide how to handle it! No one else will deprive me of this! Not anymore! Now give me the damn phone!"

He gaped at me, astounded, but handed me the phone with an apologetic smile and remorseful eyes. I wrenched it from his hand and took a deep breath. "Jake?"

"Bella," Jacob's voice rose around me, reminding me of bittersweet memories. "Are you okay?"

"What's it to you?" I asked with a curt voice. "I thought you didn't want us to be friends."

The silence was deafening. I had successfully stunned seven vampires and one werewolf, possibly more. Way to go, Bella! I cheered myself.

"Bella, I..." Jake sounded a little lost. Ha. "Well, I... I was worried about you. You being whisked away from Charlie, and..."

"Have you heard what Carlisle just told Billy?" I cut him impatiently. "It was my decision to leave, Jake. And I don't have to answer to anybody about it."

"Is it true? Did Charlie hit you?"

The concern in his voice was real, but it didn't affect me. Something had changed since this morning. I had changed. I had decided not to take anyone's crap anymore, and pull my own weight.

"Not that it should matter to you, but yes, he did. And right now, I just want this conversation to be over so I can go lie down on a comfortable couch with my family around me."

"Bella, don't... Please, Bella, you don't have to be with the bl... with the Cullens. I... We can take care of you here. I want to see you."

He couldn't help himself, I thought grimly. He would never take the hint. And what a nerve he had! I had to make myself clearer. And within me, something snapped. Like a switch flicked by my emotions. Enough, I thought. No more moping or too-trusting Bella. On the couch, Jasper was panting, obviously trying to deal with my anger, and the rest of the Cullens were staring at me like I had grown a second head.

"Like you took care of me these past three weeks?" I scoffed, laughing humorlessly. "Where were you, then, Jake? Too busy running in the woods on all fours? Where were you when I needed my friend? You removed yourself from my life, Jake. You decided that we couldn't be friends anymore. If you don't accept that I can be happy with the love of my life, then so be it."

"Bella," he pleaded, but with a tense voice, his temper rising too. "I... I didn't remove myself from your life. But I can't... I don't..."

"No, apparently you can't," I snorted again derisively. "You can't get past your prejudices against vampires. Well, too bad, Jacob! I'll be one of them someday."

"Don't... Bella, crap! Please don't make hasty decisions! I... I'm here for you, Bella."

"You're not here for me anymore, Jake, that's a pile of crap! I can never reach you. Not that it matters now. What should have I done this morning, then, when I was lying on my bed, bleeding and passing out? Wait for three more weeks for you to honor me with your presence?"

"You could've called me!" he finally exploded in anger. "I would've run to you! But you didn't call!"

I was in a frenzy now, and the Cullens flinched when I started to yell. "I didn't call? That's rich, coming from you! If I remember correctly, I've been trying to call you for the last three weeks, leaving you countless messages, and you haven't answered or called me back, not once! And now you demand to see me? Now you're interested in what is happening to me? You thought that after your last stunt with the bike I would trust you again? Well, go to hell, Jake! I don't have anything more to say to you!"

"Bells, please..." he tried, but I cut him, fed up.

"Don't call me 'Bells'! Only one person had that right, and he lost it this morning when he hit me!"

"Bella, please hear me out! You can't... Charlie... He's your father. You have to forgive him. You have to forgive me."

'Oh, 'I have to forgive', have I?" I seethed, pulling at my hair in my rage, under the flabbergasted looks of the Cullens. "Not a fucking chance, Jake! It's too late! You can't play my better side to your advantage anymore! And you can't tell me what I have to do, Jacob William Black! I'm done with Charlie, and I'm done with you!"

A moment of silence stretched, then his subdued voice rose again, carrying a world of hurt. I didn't care. My heart had been trampled enough. "Where is the girl that could forgive everything, then, even her boyfriend when he broke her?"

Trying to guilt-trap me, not the best strategy in my riled-up state. "That girl died this morning," I said with a steeled voice, conveying my seriousness. "She bled almost all of her blood out when the love of her life left her, she was left empty yet again when her best friend abandoned her when he turned into a werewolf, and again when he couldn't accept seeing her having her life back, and then she died under the blows of her father. She's no more, Jacob. So don't look out for her."

"Is that it, then?" he asked dejectedly after a few seconds. "You'll become a vampire, and we'll have to... kill you..."

"You can try," I said indifferently, ignoring Carlisle's and Edward's alarmed stares. "But I care enough for you and your friends so that I hope you won't attack us, Jake. We'll leave you alone. Stay away, and no harm done. We'll leave soon, anyway, after I graduate. But if you attack us, then face the consequences. I'll side with my family, no matter what. And we outnumber you."

An even longer silence.

"You truly are one of them."

His voice broke. I didn't care. I had nothing more to say. "Goodbye, Jake. Thank you for having been such a good friend. Take care."

And I hung up. Exhaling a huge breath, I ran my hands over my face. I needed space, away from the golden eyes surrounding me. I needed to calm down, and think.

"Bella?" Edward asked hesitantly. I lowered my hands and stared at him. He looked awed and scared at the same time, but I couldn't deal with him right now. My anger was too high, and I was pissed at him.

"What?" I asked testily.

"Bella, love," he said, taken aback, "do you want to go lie down?"

"No," I snapped, turning my gaze towards the large bay doors facing Esme's garden. "I need some fresh air."

"Okay," he said, interrupting the silence thick as maple syrup. "Do you want me to...?"

"Alone, Edward!" I yelled before stomping outside in a rage.

I dimly heard Alice's and Jasper's voices behind me, but I didn't care what they saw or felt. I was beside myself. The feeling was peculiar, and not really enjoyable. It was as if I was observing from somewhere in my brain a stranger using my body, watching with horror and helplessness the moves and hearing the words. I didn't control anything. My vision was tinted red. I was beyond mad.

I didn't know at what exact point I regained control over my body, but somehow I felt myself back in my shoes again. I was walking in the forest, but the river was ten yards away from me, so I wasn't lost. I stopped, made my way to the river, and sat heavily on a rock at the edge of the water, watching the sun slowly sinking behind the tall trees. What have I done? I wondered.

Old Bella, shy, selfless Bella, never could've pulled a stunt like that. She cared too much about people. But that was the crux of the matter. New Bella couldn't let herself get trampled again. I had truly and thoroughly changed. I changed when Edward left me, I realized. The first blow on my windshield. And Jacob betrayed me, our friendship, twice. And Charlie's betrayal of trust was the last and final straw. I couldn't shoulder random people's needs on top of my own anymore. I only wanted to take care of the ones who truly mattered to me. The ones who were there for me.

And Edward was there for me. He had suffered as much as I had when he left me, and I had forgiven him with all my heart. The Cullens were there for me too. They'd welcomed me as one of them. They'd accepted to change me. They wanted me to live with them from now on. Those were the people that mattered to me. And I would take care of them.

But my Dad... he had betrayed me so deeply. He didn't accept my forgiving Edward, doing his best to keep us apart. And then he harmed me. Never had he raised his hand on me before. And that was making the whole thing even worse. He was mad at me for being an adult and living the life I'd chosen. He even – I still seethed at that one – disguised reality by not telling the Quileutes about the blow and my injuries, telling them that the Cullens had kidnapped me. And that I couldn't forgive. The blow was an accident, I knew it. But Charlie had betrayed my trust. I couldn't go on with him like nothing happened after that. I wasn't one of his possessions, to be dealt with as he saw fit. I was Bella, his daughter, with feelings and wishes of her own.

And Jake... My heart bled a little, but I had mourned his loss. We were enemies now, for him. Me, I still hoped that we could be civil with the pack and avoid bloodshed, but I didn't keep my hopes up. Those wolves could be quite stubborn. Just like me.

I spent a long time by the river, my cheeks wet and cold from all the tears that just wouldn't stop, and I started to shiver as the sunset tinted the air around me with an orange glow. I had to go back. I wanted a hot bath, a hot chocolate and maybe some waffles, and I wanted Edward. I regretted having snapped at him, but I had needed the time away from him, to regain my bearings. I was in charge of my life, so I had to start dealing with the bad things on my own. I wouldn't be sheltered anymore.

Bless Alice, I thought, when suddenly a rustle of wind alerted me of a vampire's presence behind me. And I recognized his scent immediately.

"I'm sorry, Edward," I told him calmly, feeling the exhaustion coming down on me. "I didn't mean to snap at you. But I needed time."

"I understand, love," he simply said, his velvet voice soothing me like nobody else could. He went to sit beside me, then put a thick vest on my shoulders – one of his, I noted with delight as I inhaled his delicious scent – and tentatively took my hand. "Jesus, you're freezing, Bella."

"I didn't feel the cold until a few minutes ago," I told him truthfully, turning around at last to face him.

His beautiful eyes were filled with love, concern and remorse, and as he opened his mouth, I knew I didn't want to hear his apology. "Please, Edward, don't say anything. Tomorrow."

He closed his mouth, nodded, then enveloped me in his strong arms. I melted into his chest, letting some last tears fall, then grabbed his neck. He leaned forward, and our lips met. It was heaven, I thought as his lips molded mine, his tongue gently caressing my lower lip. He pulled back to shower me with soft kisses on my jaw, neck and cheeks. I pecked his firm jaw too, and gasped as he kissed the soft spot under my ear, making me moan. He stopped, then, and hugged me against him.

"I love you, Bella," he said simply, his voice appeasing me. "So much. I am more sorry than you can imagine."

"I love you, Edward. We'll talk about all this crap tomorrow. But please, now I want to go home."

He gave me his fabulous crooked smile then. "Is the Cullen house your home now, love?" he asked with his eyes sparkling.

"Wherever you are is my home, Edward," I told him sincerely.

He dove on my lips again, and this time he wasn't as cautious as before. Tentatively, his tongue seeked mine, and soon they danced against each other, and I moaned again. It felt so good! But too soon he pulled away. "Careful with my teeth, love."

"What happens happen, Edward," I said seriously, locking eyes with him. "I won't back down from having a good time with you for such a trivial thing. If I'm changed, then so be it. I would never regret becoming a vampire under such circumstances, as long as it's you who's changing me."

He was upset, I could see it, so I put a finger on his lips. "We'll talk about it soon, too. Could you...?"

"I'll take you home," he offered me, getting me to my feet then turning his back on me to help me piggyback-ride him. "Somebody told me they'll have a cup of hot chocolate and some waffles ready when we come back."

"Gotta love Alice," I sighed in bliss, making him chuckle as he took off, ghosting silently through the forest.

I enjoyed the five minutes of the run, safely tucked in Edward's vest and pressed against his large back, the wind rustling past me. I had closed my eyes, enjoying the flying feeling, and when he stopped it was too soon. "We're here, love."

I disentangled myself from him, and noticed that we were back in the living room. All the vampires were there, but they simply acknowledged me with a smile before resuming their activities. And for that I was truly grateful. The last thing I wanted was to be the focus of attention, even from my family.

Edward led me to the couch, next to Emmett who was playing a video game with Jasper. On the coffee table in front of me, a large cup of hot chocolate, complete with marshmallows, was steaming, and four waffles were waiting for me. I lathered them with maple syrup, then dug in. Edward was gently rubbing my back while I ate, and soon I felt warmed and relaxed.

As I ate the last bit of waffle and drained my cup, Emmett heaved a fake sigh. "At last you're done, little sis! The smell was horrible."

"Get used to it, brother bear," I teased him lightly, making him beam in response. "I eat at least three times a day, and believe me, some things smell much worse than waffles and chocolate, even for me."

He dropped his game controller and grabbed me, hugging me against his broad chest. "Brother bear," he mused, "I think I like that."

"Well, you are. You're big, you're strong, you're loud, you're protective and you like bears so much you eat them," I shrugged, grinning from ear to ear. "And you're my brother."

His booming laugh echoed all around us as he got up and spinned me around. I had to giggle at his enthusiasm. "We'll have so much fun, little sis!" he told me, golden eyes twinkling with mischief and affection. "While you're still human you'll be quite a challenge, but we'll have more fun then."

"Is it because of my clumsiness?" I asked wryly as he set me down on the couch again, next to Edward.

"Yes, and also because you're simply funny."

He ruffled my hair and I pushed him away, chuckling. On the other couch, Jasper was smiling warmly at me, and Rosalie sent me a tentative smile over her magazine, which I gladly returned. In the corner, Alice was working on her computers, and she called me out. "Bella? Do you prefer going to Port Angeles tomorrow, or do you want to order online?"

"Tomorrow, please, Alice," I sighed, exhaustion creeping back down on me. I melted against Edward, and he put his arm around me. I could sleep like that, I thought dimly.

"Do you still want a bath, Bella?" he asked me softly, kissing my hair.

"No," I shook my head, leaning on him even more, my eyes closing in spite of myself.

"I'll take you upstairs." And two seconds later, I was on my bed. He left, giving me time to put my pajamas on, which were ready on the bed for me – thanks Alice again! – and came back when I was safely tucked under the blankets after a human minute. He lay on the covers and took me in his arms. It was heaven. I felt safe and loved.

"Remind me why I didn't come here the second I turned eighteen?" I asked him sleepily, inhaling his delicious scent.

He chuckled. "Charlie would've shot me."

"Oh, yeah, good point," I sighed, my heart heavy. "A moot point, now, though."

"Bella, love," he said in my ear, caressing me tenderly. "Don't worry now. You're here, and we're together. I'm not leaving you. This is your house now, if it is what you want. You're not alone, my Bella. Never again will you be alone."

"I want to be with you, Edward," I whispered, my eyes closed. "Always."

"Always and forever," he vowed, kissing me on the cheek.

"Can I ask you something?"

"Anything, love."

"Could you..." I blushed, my need and my shyness battling in my head. To hell with being shy! I thought then. "Could you come under the covers, please? And put your hands on my ribs and my cheek?"

All afternoon I hadn't felt the ache so much, but now it was on full force, making me wince.

"I'll be right back," he said, and he was gone. I didn't have long to wait, though, as five seconds later he was back, clad in warm pajamas, and carrying a bottle of water and, bless him, more painkillers.

"I love you," I told him gratefully as he helped me sitting up and gave me the pills and water.

"And I love you," he said as I swallowed the medication and half the bottle.

"I haven't thanked Esme for the meal," I said as he gently eased me back on the pillow, tucking the blankets around us.

"You just have," he smiled, and from a floor down Esme's voice reached me. "You're very welcome, dear."

"It's so weird," I yawned, snuggling against Edward's chest as he turned on his side and very carefully put his hands on my bruises, making me sigh in relief.

"You'll get used to the lack of privacy," he told me kindly, peppering me with light kisses, "and everybody will give you as much as they can."

"I love this bed," I said suddenly, my thoughts rambling wildly. "It's so comfortable. I don't want to change."

"You don't have to."

"Then don't buy me another set of furniture, please. I really like this one. I love my bedroom as it is." My bedroom. I loved the sound of that.

"Okay, love", he indulged me. "We'll just buy you a matching desk, then, and all the things you need."

"Edward," I said, thinking about the money, "we'll have to talk tomorrow."

"Yes, love. But not tonight. You didn't sleep last night."

"I slept two hours," I countered him faintly.

"And you need a lot more. Sleep, my love. We'll have eternity to talk."

I smiled at that, and snuggled even more as he started to hum my lullaby. I fell asleep within seconds.

I'd been afraid I would have terrible nightmares after yesterday's events, but I slept like a rock in his arms. And when I opened my eyes, I noticed with surprise that we were still in the same position than last night, his hands still on my bruises. My heart swelled. He truly loved me, I knew it, but those caring gestures told me so much.

"Hi," I said, my voice croaked with sleep.

"Good morning, love," he said, carefully removing his hands and cradling my face before kissing me. I forgot my name. I forgot everything. When he kissed me like that, I wasn't anything but a puddle of goo. I reciprocated, of course, and soon he had to pull away, chuckling at my enthusiasm.

"Mmmh, I could get used to this," he smiled, kissing my neck, making me shiver in desire.

"Me too," I sighed in bliss, my hands in his hair. "I love waking up next to you."

"I love you."

We kissed and cuddled for a few moments, but soon I heard an impatient knock on the door, and Edward groaned. "Good morning, Bella! Get up, we need to hit the road in an hour!" Alice chirped gleefully, her energy draining me at lightspeed.

"Give me a few moments, Alice, it's Sunday," I grunted, burying my head in Edward's chest.

"Nope, nope, nope! We're on a schedule! And by the way, do you want French toast or pancakes with your bacon?"

"Scrambled eggs and brown toast," I muttered, just to annoy her. But of course, she was unfazed.

"Esme is already on it. You have ten minutes!"

I heard her bouncing steps fading away, and groaned again, yawning widely. "Must be nice to have such pent-up energy," I mused, grabbing Edward's pajamas.

"Not so nice for us around her," he faked a sigh, "who have to endure all her craziness. You'll soon see."

"I knew there was a reason I didn't live here until now," I joked, and was relieved to see that he grinned at me. The heavy talk would be for later, I decided.

I sat up, wincing slightly because of my aching ribs, and Edward called Carlisle. In less than a second, he was sitting next to me, a kind smile on his face.

"Good morning, Bella. Did you sleep well?"

"Very well, Carlisle, thank you," I assured him honestly. "My head doesn't hurt anymore, only my ribs."

"That's good," he nodded, exchanging a glance with Edward who looked at ease. At least he wasn't upset anymore.

"I see that the bruise on your cheek has faded a lot," Carlisle went on, examining my head closely. "Edward's coldness helped."

"Yes, thank you Edward," I told him gratefully. He only beamed at me.

"I would like to examine you, Bella," Carlisle said, looking straight at me. "May I?"

I nodded, and Edward got up and went to the window, facing outwards. I was grateful he didn't leave, but relieved that he gave me some privacy. I tried not to think about what he would see in Carlisle's mind. I gingerly got out of my top, glad that I had kept my bra on, and Carlisle bent on my bruise. He very carefully touched it, and I couldn't help my wince.

"You're healing," he told me reassuringly, "but it'll take two weeks, at least."

"On the bright side, I'll be excused from PE for two weeks at least. Maybe my doctor could stretch it to a month?" I asked him hopefully.

He and Edward laughed, and from two floors below I could hear Emmett's booming laugh too. Then Carlisle turned his gaze to the bruise on my arm. He frowned.

"What is it, Carlisle?" I asked him. He sighed a little, and in front of the window Edward growled faintly.

"Bella, your father must have squeezed your arm quite strongly," the doctor said, eyebrows knitted. "Does it hurt when you raise it?"

"I don't know," I admitted, and tried. I stopped immediately when I reached shoulder level, and winced in pain.

"I thought so," Carlisle said, mildly preoccupied. "Sadly, I can't really do anything about it either, except give you some ointment. You're forbidden to use your left arm for anything for three days, Bella. You'll heal faster this way."

"Okay," I nodded, subdued. The day wasn't starting so great anymore. Carlisle rose to his feet and smiled down at me.

"Don't worry, you'll be right as rain in no time. And don't forget that we're here for you, Bella. You can ask us anything."

"Thanks, Carlisle," I told him earnestly. And then he surprised me. He bent forward, and kissed my forehead, in a very fatherly gesture. I was moved beyond words.

"Take care of you, sweet child," he murmured before leaving.

I tried very hard not to dissolve into tears, and only half-succeeded. By the time Edward calmed me, I was a mess, and welcomed a hot shower. Of course, when we went down for breakfast, Esme hugged me too, reiterating her kind words and her motherly affection. She even had delayed making breakfast in order for me to eat while the food was fresh and warm. I was becoming spoiled fast.

No sooner had I scraped my plate clean that Alice bounded in the kitchen. "It's time!"

"Alice," I sighed, putting my head on my hand, elbow on the table. "Why do we have to go again?"

"We have to go pick up your new desk," she trilled happily, sinking in the chair next to mine, ignoring Edward's glare. "I've already bought it to match your furniture. And your new laptop, and..."

"No clothes," I warned her, shooting daggers at her nauseating bouncing.

"It's all taken care of already," she quickly dismissed with a wave of her hand. Meaning, she had ordered everything online, and we were just picking it up. Marvelous.

"Why do I have to go if you took care of everything?" I whined, sinking my head on the table, Edward softly patting my hair in a comforting gesture.

"I can't see what you want for your walls," she confessed sourly, and I couldn't help my smirk. So she wasn't that perfect, after all. "We can't keep those ugly abstract things, and you have such an eclectic taste! But I promise, Bella, it's the only thing that you'll have to choose. I already purchased all your favorite toiletries and some new towels."

"Thanks so much, Alice," I said, not putting any weight in the sarcasm. In truth, I was grateful for what she was doing, even if I had rather spent the day at the Cullens', curled up on a sofa with a good book and Edward playing piano.

"You can have that this afternoon," she promised me, and one look at Edward told me he had seen my wish in Alice's vision, and he agreed wholeheartedly. "Now let's go!"

"Who's coming?" I asked, curious.

"Carlisle's working, and Esme has some gardening planned," she told me while helping me on my feet. "Emmett and Jasper are going for the desk. It would be suspicious if I was the one lifting the thing with my pinkie." I giggled, and she grinned. "That's the spirit! So that leaves Edward, Rose, you and me to go fetch all the things."

"If it's all right with you, Bella," Rosalie said, appearing next to Alice in the kitchen and looking a little embarrassed. I wasn't even surprised. I was used to their speed and their appearing out of thin air.

"It's great, Rosalie," I told her earnestly. "Thank you for doing all this for me."

She waved a hand, and smiled. I smiled in return, and Edward's shoulders relaxed. I knew that things were tense between him and Rosalie, because of me, so I hoped that our easing relationship would ease theirs.

"Have a nice time, dear," Esme said as she took care of the dishes and china. "Will you eat lunch in Port Angeles?"

"Yes, I think so," I said, getting an approving nod of Edward. "And tonight I'd like to cook, Esme, if possible."

"Oh, you don't have to, dear," she said affectionately. "It's my pleasure."

"I know, and I'm very lucky to have you. But I'd like to..." I eyed Edward nervously, and he gave me an encouraging smile. "I'd like to teach Edward some of my recipes."

I blushed furiously, not voicing my thoughts. My falling apart with Charlie had risen an awful lot of questions and issues, one of them about my future. I clearly remembered Edward asking me to marry him in exchange of him changing me, and I still hadn't answered him. But now, I was more open to the idea. And I didn't know when, how or where, but I knew I was going to say yes someday. And in the meantime, I wanted him to take care of me. Cooking for me was only one of the things on the list, but it would mean so much to me.

Alice, Esme and Rosalie fawned over us, and Edward only smiled, his golden eyes smoldering, his crooked smile dazzling. "It would be my pleasure, love," he said, his velvet voice caressing me. "God knows I can't cook, so it would be a nice change for you to teach me something. And I'm happy to see that you're ready to be taken care of, love."

"Thanks," I told him, running to him and circling his waist, burying my face in his sweater.

"Mom," he said lightly, "Bella and I will cook tonight."

"Just don't mess with my kitchen, Edward," she pretended to scold. "I know Bella will do a perfect job, but I don't really trust you around vegetables and meat."

Edward grimaced at the thought, making me laugh. He was repulsed by human food. He must really love me to accept to cook for me. I swooned a little.

"Well, let's go!" Alice reminded us, and ushered us to the garage. Emmett and Jasper joined us, and soon got in the Jeep, which would carry the desk, with Alice and Rosalie. Edward and I took the Volvo. My Chevy truck was parked next to it, and I stared at it with mixed feelings.

"What is it, love?" Edward asked me, pulling out of the garage behind Emmett.

"It's just..." I didn't know how to tell him, but I had to. So much had changed. And I trusted him. More than anybody else, and with my life. He literally held my life in his hands every day. Surely I could voice my thoughts out for him? "I was thinking about my truck."

"What about it?" he inquired patiently.

"I... I don't really want to drive it anymore," I confessed sadly.

He shot me an astonished look, but soon a spark of understanding lit his eyes up. "Is it because your father bought it for you? Or because of Jacob?"

"Both," I sighed, running a hand through my hair. I couldn't stand the memories that my truck brought forward.

He stayed silent for a few moments, his hand holding mine, and I watched the landscape fly by. Edward's speed had long since ceased to be a concern, so I knew we would be in Port Angeles in less than fifteen minutes. Finally he opened his mouth. "Would you be okay if I bought you another car?"

My eyes flew to him, and he was looking at me with a very serious expression on his face. I knew he wanted what was best for me, and to please me in any way he could, but this... "Edward, I have issues with you spending money on me."

"Bella," he squeezed my hand, turning his head to look at the road. "Please, love. You're my life. My whole life. I'm nothing without you. Money is nothing for me. And I know you don't love me for my money. I have accumulated quite a lot on my own since 1918, not to mention the family's wealth, and I've been lonely for all this time. Now I have you, and I want to please you. I want to make your life easier. Please, my love. It would mean so much to me!"

I had rarely heard him begging like that, and it melted my heart. I leaned on his shoulder, and he softly kissed my hair. "Okay, Edward. I accept, but I forbid you to go crazy on me! And no sports car!"

"Your choice, always," he vowed, beaming at me, his eyes radiating happiness. "And I'll make a transfer to your account today, for your everyday purchases. That way you won't have to ask me or anyone for money for simple things like movie tickets or clothes or books."

I nodded uneasily, but knew that it was inevitable. And if one day I was to marry this man – heaven help me! – then I'd better start getting used to accepting money.

We made it to Port Angeles in comfortable silence, not wanting to dwell on bad things for now, postponing our talk. I followed Alice and Rosalie meekly, Edward flanking me, as they went into the shops to retrieve the numerous bags waiting for me. Emmett and Jasper were off to the furniture store and would take the desk and its chair back, so Alice and Rosalie would ride with us when we went home.

We spent little time in the decorating store, as I found a theme for my bedroom almost immediately. The mountains. Huge snow-capped peaks that I dreamed to go exploring, covered in primal forests full of wildlife. Mountains that evoked hunting trips and a near future. Soon we left with five framed photos, and I was smiling happily.

"You've got good taste when you want it, Bella," Alice praised me, as she, Edward and Rosalie carried everything. I had succeeded in convincing them that I could carry one frame with my good arm. Lucky me. "Now your room will be absolutely perfect! And I can't wait for our slumber parties!"

"Don't forget that we still have homework to do on school nights, Alice", I reminded her as we passed a flashy boutique with hip-hop music blaring. "I need to sleep sometimes."

"We'll help you, of course!" she said dismissively. "We'll spend every day and every night together, we won't let you down like that!"

"It's going to be strange," I said with a smile, "but I'm happy to go living with you guys."

"What?!" someone screeched a few feet away from me, making me jump just as Edward started to growl quietly. "Bella? You're going to live with the Cullens?!"

I turned around, and sure enough, in front of me was my least favorite gossip of Forks High, Jessica Stanley. Even worse, she was flanked by Lauren Mallory, whose nose was wrinkled in my direction, as if I smelled bad. The cat's out of the bag, I thought, not minding quite as much as I should have. In fact, I opted for honesty. The rumors would start spreading right away anyway.

"Hi, Jess," I said politely, shooting a warning glance at Edward who was still growling silently, rigid beside me. "Yes, I'm living with the Cullens from now on."

"How so?" she asked disbelievingly. "You're living with your dad!"

"We had a... disagreement," I said with a clipped tone, and I noticed that she and Lauren were eyeing my bruised cheek. Crap. "But the Cullens offered me to stay with them."

"That's... unexpected," she said grudgingly, her eyes roaming over Alice and Rosalie before landing on Edward, who looked pissed. I so wouldn't want to know these harpies' thoughts right now. My poor Edward.

"And why would the Cullens take you in their home?" Lauren sneered, her unpleasant voice making me bristle. "Is it because your dad threw you out of his house? So you're homeless now?"

My anger was boiling again, and I saw that I wasn't the only one pissed now. Alice's mouth was opening, no doubt preparing a withering retort, but I beat her. I wanted to handle this.

"No, I'm not homeless and my dad didn't throw me out," I said calmly, surprising myself. "I'm going to live with the Cullens because Edward and I are engaged."