55 followers, I can't believe it. Thanks to everyone who has checked this story out. I hope you like it, this chapter is around 7 pages and roughly 2800 words. Sudden inspiration hit me at eleven o'clock tonight, probably because I have to get up early tomorrow morning. Anyways. . .

Chapter 10

Bella's POV

"Will you forgive my soul

when you're too wise to trust me

and too old to care?"

"Can I ask you something?" I wait till he nods his consent. "And I want a real answer," if Edward is the only one who still has an opposition towards my change, I deserve a real answer.

He nods, clearly weary.

"What are you so afraid of, Edward?" I asked him, desperate to understand.

"Bella-" he sighs before his eyes meet mine.

I can tell he wants to avoid this so I interject. "You say you love me and you want to be with me. . . Well, I want to be with you, forever. Your forever, not just mine. I can make that choice for myself." I tell him.

"It's not that simple." He urges me to understand, but I don't. "Your soul, Bella. I don't want to damn you." He growls. "When Carlisle changed me-" I cut him off.

"Don't blame your self-hatred on your Father, Edward. You've both told me that it was Elizabeth who begged him to change you. You're pinning the blame for your personal beliefs on the only person left, Carlisle doesn't deserve that," I say with as much conviction as I can put into my words. "And why would your mother beg him to save you if she thought she was damning you? She wouldn't. Stop being a stubborn jackass."

"Bella. . ." He trailed off, getting frustrated.

"No. You have a wonderful, giant family that most people dream of. Your tomorrow is always guaranteed. Your life could be a hell of a lot worse. You should be thanking Carlisle for all he's done for you, Edward. 'Cause I know if it was me I would have thrown you out on your ass a long time ago." I tell him. "Don't place the blame of your personal demons on your Father's shoulders. Tough shit if this isn't the life you wanted, take what you have and be grateful. Do you think this is how I wanted my life to go? There was nothing more I wanted than to be with you and your family forever and you didn't even give me a choice. You should be thanking Carlisle instead of being such an ass."

"I never wanted to damn you. I still am at war inside over that." Edward says.

"You say you don't have a soul, you don't want to damn me to this existence. . . Have you ever thought how that made Carlisle feel?" I pause briefly for my words to settle.

I know it bothers Carlisle, he said as much at my dreaded birthday, but it wasn't his fault. He shouldn't feel guilty because whether Edward believes it or not, he isn't damned to this existence. How can you think that when you have your mate? If Edward died in 1918 like he was supposed to, we would have never been together. I wouldn't know the love of my life.

"You and Carlisle both said your Mother, Elizabeth, was the one who begged him to save you in any way he could. In a way, only he could. If you have lingering anger it shouldn't be at Carlisle. . . Rosalie's. . . That makes sense, not that I agree but I can see where she's coming from I guess. She says no one voted 'no' for her, but someone voted for you. Your Mother voted for you." Though I don't agree with Rosalie, I can't say I wouldn't feel the same if I were in her situation. Though the end of her human life was violent and chaotic, Edward's wasn't.

He sighs softly, the noise almost silent if I hadn't been next to him.

I turn when I feel a hand on my shoulder from behind, surprised because I had forgotten Carlisle was there. "Thank you, Bella. Sincerely."

I smile back, blush on my face. "I didn't say anything that wasn't true, Carlisle."

"Your words mean a great deal to me, Sweetheart." He kisses the top of my head before continuing toward Esme in the kitchen.

I turn my attention back to my stubborn mate, "either way, Edward, I think you should be easier on your Father. He wanted to help you in the only way he could, and the life he gave you is something to dream of." My words couldn't be more sincere. "Regardless though, you aren't getting out of this. You want me to prove that you have a soul. Prove to me that you don't. You can't." I stared intensely into his eyes, refusing to look away.

"I can't. You're right. I love you, Bella. I'm selfish enough to want you every second of forever, I've never wanted anything more." He runs a hand through his unruly hair. "I understand what you're saying, and you have a good argument, I've been thinking this way for the last century, Bella. I'm trying."

"I know. I love you, too." I lean forward and touch my lips to his. He had valued my humanity more than my happiness. He hadn't understood that I would rather have one happy day with him than a lifetime without him. . . but I think he's starting t see things from my perspective, or at least where I'm coming from. One conversation won't change his twentieth century morals, but it was a start.

"Do you want more than my word?" Without removing his eyes from my face he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small velvet box. "Marry me, Isabella Swan."

I feel my eyes go wide. His proposal in my room the night we came back from Italy was theoretical, I could push it out of my mind. Now he has a ring, a tangible connection to his binding words.

He rolls his eyes at my expression. "You're killing my ego here, Love. You do know you already agreed last week."

"I-" I don't know what to say. "Neither a ring or marriage are a promise of forever."

"It is in my time."

"Not today."

"Ignore the preconceived, deeply ingrained motions in your mind. Do you want to be with me forever?"

"I can think of something more binding than a wedding ring, Edward."

He smirks, raising an eyebrow to prompt my response.

I force myself to breathe normally, to calm myself down, and rein in my scattered thoughts. What am I afraid of? What is the worst thing that could happen? The answer that pops into my head startles me: Living apart. Not being with Edward.

And just like that, I have my answer. I know I already agreed, and I meant it then, but something about this feels more real, definitive.

"I can't promise a day but I know one day I will marry you, Edward Cullen," I promise, crossing my heart for show.

He shakes his head with a smirk, taking my left hand from where it was resting on my lap. With the grace only he could possess he slides the band onto my finger, kissing my hand before letting it go for me to see. He's smiling, the happiness at finally getting a diamond on my finger almost tangible in the air around him. "What do you think?"

I look down at the decent-sized emerald diamond on a thin rose gold band, two smaller Asscher-shaped diamonds flanking each 's gorgeous and also completely ridiculous. "It's beautiful."

His hand is holding mine again, his thumb tracing small circles on my palm. "Before you say that it is too much, I know. It is but it didn't cost me anything."

"Your 'anything' or an average person's 'anything', Edward?" When you have billions in the bank, a million doesn't seem like anything.

He laughs. "A normal person's, I swear."

"Did you and Emmett rob a jewelry store or something because I would have to give you points for creativity." I tease, my smile mirroring his.

"No, though I'll keep that in mind for our anniversaries." He teases back. "The diamonds are from a piece of my Mother's jewelry that Carlisle kept for me all these years. The bigger diamond was from her wedding ring to my Father. It was passed down on her Mother's side for generations. The smaller two are from a pair of earrings."

"I love it, Edward."

"The band is from Esme and Carlisle's first wedding ring. It had gotten damaged at one point so we had it melted down and made for this."


He nods.

"You know there's no way we could convince anyone that a teenager had the money to buy this, right?" I point out as I cuddle into his side.

"Bella, I just want you to come into this life with no regrets, I want Charlie to see you graduate. I want you to enjoy and savor this time you have left as a human," he sighs. "Even though you'll be a teenager forever, it won't feel like it does now."

"I'm not much of a fan of how my human life is going right now, in case you haven't noticed."

"It'll get better."

I roll my eyes at him. "Is this an 'Alice saw it' or more of a 'wishful thinking' type thing?"

He smirks. "A little of both, maybe."

"Well, I appreciate the sentiment."

Our blissful bubble of silence is broken when Emmett and Jasper come downstairs. Emmett has a hand over his eyes, "everybody decent?"

"Fuck off, Emmett," Edward tells him.

I can't help but to laugh at their antics, I can't see ever being tired of moments like this. I stop short when I notice the abundance of boards Jasper and Emmett are each carrying. I turn to Edward, "am I hallucinating or are they actually playing some game involving twenty chess boards?"

"Yeah, you must be hallucinating," Emmett called back. "There's only sixteen, Bella."

"I don't want to know," I told him, wrapping the blanket tighter around me like a cocoon as I burrowed into Edward's side.

"I'm glad you asked! Jasper and I came up with this game in the late 60s. Edward and Alice cheat so they're not allowed to play. Come over, we'll teach you how to play. It's awesome."

"What's the story there?" I asked Edward quietly.

"Emmett and Jasper?" He chuckled.

I nodded.

"They made it up. Most of the pieces are from chess, but regular chess gets boring after a while, so they went out one day and bought more chessboards, set them up in the living room, dumped out all the pieces, along with some from Monopoly and I think some from checkers. In this version, there are a few pieces from Jumanji and I think some of them are from Sorry. . ."

I laughed when he chuckled softly.

"They spent three days making up rules and fighting. . . they won't play with me anymore. . . the mind-reading thing." I could understand that. "They won't play with Alice either, although sometimes Jasper will give in and let her play. But she always wins." He paused his story, reaching over and moving a strand of hair from my face with a smile. "They'll teach you." He promised, handing me the bottle of water I was reaching for.

"Is that a promise or a threat?"

"A little of both if I'm being honest."

"I'd never figure it out." I laughed, taking another bite. "I can never even win regular chess."

"We can practice some time, although, fair warning, even I couldn't beat Jasper if I couldn't read his mind. I'm not sure he's ever lost a game to anyone but me."

"And Alice," Jasper admitted. "Rose beat me once. Emmett, though, he's lost to everyone."

"Shut up, Asshole."

"Boys." Esme scolded half-heartedly.

I turned to Edward. "How does mind-reading help you win?"

"I can see the moves he'll make."

"No, I get that. I mean, like even if you know his plan, he could change it instantly after you move." I clarify.

"Jasper's a soldier, he plans ahead."

"Well if he only sticks to one course of action no matter what's in front of him then I'm not surprised the South lost the war." I can't say it seriously, the last few words coming through a laugh.

There is a pregnant pause in the room then everyone was laughing.

"Damn who would have thought Bella would be the best shit-talker?" Emmett adds.

I feel my face redden. "I didn't mean it like that." I turn to Jasper to apologize.

Jasper shakes his head with a smile. "Don't apologize, Bells. You have to take credit for a burn like that."

"Come on, we'll show you how to play. You don't have anything else to do."

"Just leave me here to die, Emmett."

Jasper chuckles. "You sound like Edward."

"You guys only want me to play because it'll be easy to beat me."

"And?" Emmett asked, not denying it.

Dad shakes his head from where he sits on the end of the couch, clearly amused, before going back to reading.

I watch as Emmett leaves the game to go into the closet where they keep the board games. He comes out with a book bigger than a dictionary. He tosses it in my direction but Edward thankfully catches it before it hit me.

"Really?" Edward asked with a growl. "You couldn't have handed it to her?"

"Gotta get back to the game before Jasper has a chance to cheat."

I take the book from Edward's hand, cautiously curious. "What is this?" I ask Edward. It's heavier than it looked.

"The rule book. Ignore them, Bella, they have too much free time on their hands."

"Checkmate. And you just lost the game." Jasper leans back, his hands threaded behind his head.

Emmett curses, crushing the monopoly hotel piece Jasper used to win.

Rosalie walks over to Emmett, looking at the game over his shoulder as she kissed his neck. She pulled away when he turned to meet her lips with his own. "I'll salvage your poor honor, Babe." She assures him, taking his seat as Jasper resets the game.

"Alright, for Emmett's dignity." Jasper invited with a grin, gesturing for her to go first.

"She said honor." Emmett snapped, crossing his arms. Rose and Jasper snorted.

"We all know what she really meant," Jasper assured him, watching as Rosalie considered the board for a long moment, then moved her first piece.

I notice the sun sinking below the horizon and hate that I have to leave but it's best I don't push Charlie any further than absolutely necessary. "I should head back to Charlie's." I point out and Edward nods.

"Take the rule book," Emmett tells me, his eyes not moving from the board.

"She's not taking the book," Edward replies for me.

I stumble over my feet as I stand and Edward catches me. I didn't notice Esme leave but she comes back with a dish covered in tinfoil. "For dinner tonight."

"You know you don't have to do all this for me, though I really appreciate it. Thank you." I tell her after she handed the dish to Edward and pulled me into her arms, kissing the top of my head.

"It's no trouble at all, Sweetheart." She assures me.

When she steps back Carlisle takes her place. "Will we see you tomorrow?"

"I don't know. I have to work all afternoon and close. Mike's parents are going to Seattle for a date night." I tell him.

"You're always welcome over here, Honey," he says and I know he can tell how much his words mean to me.

I reach for Edward after our round of goodbyes when I remember the reason for the added weight on my left hand. "I don't want to take it off but I can't go home wearing this." I point out. "I don't want Charlie to test your claim of being bulletproof tonight."

Esme reaches back at Carlisle as he hands her something small, I can't tell what it is, though. "This is from your Father and I," Esme starts, her hand reaching for mine as she deposits a cool object in my palm. "For now, it's a good alternative."

Her words barely register. I realize it's a necklace chain that matches the color of the band. I take off the ring carefully and hand it back to Esme who easily slips it on the chain. "Turn around," she urges and I do.

I move my hair to the side as her fingers close the small clasp. I look down and smile, my fingers tracing the delicate chain to where it rests just under my shirt perfectly.

"Thank you."

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