My New Life is @quirkyalone98
Chapter 14

Biologically speaking, all our senses are always actively working. Our perception of the world depends on the information collected through our senses and sent to our brains.

Even so, we don't always consciously or actively notice everything. For example, breathing. We breathe air non-stop unconsciously. It's involuntary. We go on with our lives unbothered until we smell something off or unfamiliar that triggers a response. We become selective in the things that we notice. Usually, it's the things that are out of place.

Ever since my transformation, my senses became enhanced . More acute.

But that's just it. Just because my senses became more sensitive, it doesn't mean I'm suddenly aware of everything occurring around me. It's no different from before my body transformation.

It's only when I'm actively focusing and concentrating on my senses to work at their full potential that made me see things clearly at a distance; hear things from a further range than humanly possible; smell and filter through many scents within a wide area; and more sensitive with the things I touch and taste.

Naturally, even without paying close attention, you would immediately notice the things in close proximity. That's why the moment she was close enough, and additionally the shifters' reactions, I became fully aware of her presence.

But still!

I'm embarrassed at myself to say the least.

Was I that too preoccupied that I didn't even notice her?

I mean her of all people?

Although, it's not like I expected to see her here of all places. And I guess unlike the shifters, their scents don't register to me as fiends so I'm not as wary.

[It's alright, lass. Your awareness of your surroundings will naturally develop in time. That's why we're practicing with each of your senses and slowly letting you get used to them. We want to avoid what happened last time when you fainted in school.]

It is kind of a hard thing to get used too. I'm not exactly the most observant when it comes to my surroundings.

[HAHAHAHA. Explains why you seem to trip on yourself a lot, lass.]

HEY!

[It is admirable that you're being serious about your training but don't push yourself too hard.]

I know I know. I've just been feeling paranoid ever since that night.

Whoever it was that was stalking me and Edward that night, they could come back anytime. I have a strange feeling they would.

My embarrassment aside...

I shifted my gaze towards her, taking in her appearance.

I had to bite my lip to hide a laugh at how out of place she looked with her get up. She was wearing a dark blue long-sleeved chiffon shirt, half tucked in a pair of dark washed jeans. She wore a pair of black gloves on both hands. Looking down, she was wearing a pair of black low heeled ankle boots that dug into the sand. To complete the look, she held a black umbrella she was slowly twirling in her hands.

I looked back and forth between her and the pack. The air was thick with tension and hostility. It made me nervous and helpless, not sure what to do at the moment.

"What the fuck are you doing here, leech?!" one of the pack members shouted.

"How original," Rosalie muttered with a sneer.

Even with the pair of sunglasses on, I could tell she was looking back at the pack with the same intense glare they were all throwing at her. She reached out to pull up her sunglasses and rested them on top of her head. With that out of the way, her beautiful face was now in full view, her perfect features distorted into a deepening frown as her eyes scanned the pack.

I caught the pack's surprised expression as they stared at her.

I laughed to myself.

Her beauty is quite...distracting. Terrifyingly so. It can even captivate her enemies.

Is it just me or do they look angrier than before? Mad they lost themselves for a moment over how pretty she is?

I mean...it's completely understandable. Hilarious even. I see it everyday at school.

My amusement aside, I'm getting ticked off over a bunch of hulked up men staring down at a lone woman even if said woman was a vampire. Feeling a sense of protectiveness wash over me, I obstructed their view as I walked up to stand in front of her.

"So uhh what brings you here?" I asked her.


The house has been restless from preparing for the guest they're having for dinner. I could hear and see all of them shuffling and moving about inside the house.

I don't see how this is a good idea.

Inviting a human into our home is just stupid. I can tell Carlisle was hesitant to agree but he gave in to Emmett, Alice, and (even fucking) Edward's plea to invite her over. Carlisle then said it's a good way to form friendly relations with the human.

As if that's necessary.

It's just a human…

...who maybe knows what we are.

I sigh.

To make sure nothing bad happens, Carlisle made us all hunt early in the morning. And even refilled our stock of blood bags in the freezer.

But is that really enough?

I admit. Her blood...was something else. It was in a different league of its own compared to all the human blood I've come across all these years. I take pride in my self-control, only second to that of Carlisle's. But her blood...

At least in school, the mix of scents manages to mask it to a certain degree.

And by a certain degree, I mean not so much.

Yes. Even hundreds of other human blood can't completely mask her smell. It's that prominent, I can almost always smell it wherever I go.

God. Can't the human just keep still?

It's as if wherever she went, her smell would leave its mark. And it lingered long enough that I could always manage to take a whiff of her scent mixed in with the air.

It's frustrating.

And maddening.

I could just stop breathing altogether. But then people will eventually notice.

Sucks to be me.

But for sure it sucks harder for Edward. Even I pity him.

I can tell he's been having a hard time ever since the human appeared. Carlisle's pretty sure she's his singer which meant his reaction to her blood was stronger than ours. Fuck. That's got to be saying something considering even I get affected by her blood. And yet, he still chooses to endure hanging around the human like some sort of masochist. And now, he's been hunting more frequently.

But admittedly, that's also true for all of us.

They just had to befriend the human with the most tempting blood.

Sigh.

Since Emmett had gone out to patrol, I have no one to bother. So here I was lying comfortably on the couch and flipping through a book, feeling rather content in my current position. Once in a while, I could feel Esme's burning gaze on me but I chose to ignore it. Avoiding her gaze is easy when I've got mine focused on my book.

However...

Alice was getting on my nerves and more annoying as the time ticked.

"She still hasn't replied to my text messages. And yes, I've also tried calling but it won't connect."

"What if something bad happened?"

"What if she got into some sort of trouble?"

Even Carlisle shared her worries and walked to his office to make a quick call.

The incessant sound of her footsteps wandering about the living room was hard to ignore. Even Jasper couldn't completely calm her down with his powers.

"Oh my god. What if she got into an accident again?!"

Bella. Bella. Bella. Fucking Bella.

With my patience run thin, I slammed my book close and placed it back on the shelf. I trudged my feet in the direction of the hallway leading towards the door. I quickly got my car keys hanging on the wall.

"Where are you going, Rose?" Esme asked me, coming out from the kitchen.

"Out," I answered, as I put on my boots.

I hear Alice gasp from the living room. Next thing I knew, she was standing beside Esme with a big grin on her face.

Ugh.

"And by out she means the beach!" Alice said.

She was smirking. I can tell even without looking.

"You're going to the beach? It's not your turn yet, is it?" Esme asked in confusion.

"It's not," I answered shortly.

She was about to ask again but then it finally dawned on her. We shared a look.

"Please try not to stir trouble over there, dear."

"Not making that promise," I scoffed.

"Rose," she said pointedly.

"Fine. I won't," I groaned.

Esme's expression eased.

"Unless provoked," I quickly added.

Shaking her head, she sighed at me and gave me a hug.

"I trust you," she said close to my ear. "Have a nice trip."

I scoffed once more.

"Nice trip? More like a hassle. Still can't understand why you've all agreed to invite her over," I muttered.

"Now be nice, Rose. It is her birthday after all."

"Nice? Yet another promise I'm not making."

Esme gave me a defeated smile and pulled me in again to give a quick kiss on my cheek.

"Just make sure to be back in time for dinner. I wouldn't want to serve her cold food."

I hummed in reply.

"Wait!" Alice called out to me as I held the door open. She quickly walked up to me and whispered into my ear (which was of no use considering the house is full of vampires).

Once she told me the favor she wanted to ask, I couldn't help but frown at her.

"Pleeeaaasee, Rose."

She stuck out her bottom lip into an exaggerated pout as she looked up at me.

I sighed.

"Fine."

"You're the best sister ever!" she exclaimed as she pulled me into a hug.

I rolled my eyes at her.

"I'm only the 'best' because I'm your only sister," I mumbled.

"Oh! Don't forget to bring an umbrella," Esme rushed to say and came back in a blink of an eye, an umbrella in hand.

I reached for it and quickly left for the garage.

I tell myself I'm doing this solely because Alice kept yapping 'Bella this' and 'Bella that'. It was getting really annoying. The faster the human gets here, the sooner they'll all calm down.

As I stirred my way across town, Alice's earlier worries ran through my mind. The thought of Bella Swan being involved in some sort of trouble wasn't such a stretch given her streak of misfortune.

I stepped on the gas pedal.

I squinted and knit my brows together as the sun's rays glared at me through my windshield. I glared right back through my sunglasses, cursing at it to quickly disappear in the horizon. It was the right decision to bring an umbrella along.

It took me less than an hour to arrive. I slowed down my driving and parked. I let my eyes scan the area and saw a familiar motorcycle parked (…and was that a balloon?) as I got out of my car. Not long after, my eyes met with Bella's other friends who were visibly surprised to see me.

They eyed me curiously.

I clicked my tongue as I brought out my umbrella. They became visibly shocked when they saw me walking in their direction. I stopped a few feet away, enough that they could hear me as I spoke.

"Where is she?"

I didn't have to clarify who I meant.

One of them, I recall was named Angela, approached me hesitantly. I remember she's one of the more tolerable humans in school. I kept my face neutral as she quickly told me about Bella who insisted on staying on the beach to talk to her friend. She also told her about several dangerous-looking guys.

I frowned.

The information didn't sit well with me. Memories I've long since buried flash through my mind. I unconsciously clench my jaw and my grip on my umbrella tighter.

It seems Alice was right to worry.

"Then why did you leave her then?" I snapped.

"I know. I feel bad for leaving just like that too but she insisted we go first. But believe me, we were actually planning on going back for her just as you came," she answered.

She sounded sincere.

"I see," I responded in a clipped tone.

I was itching to leave. I wanted to walk away and run but the other humans were still here.

"So what are you doing here? Why are you looking for Bella?" a familiar annoying voice suddenly asked me. Jessica Stanley. Of course.

"I'm here to pick her up," I answered shortly.

I ignored the surprised stares they gave me. I can tell they wanted to ask more but they didn't dare to ask as my cold mask did its job to deter any more questions. I wanted to end this conversation as I was getting impatient as the seconds ticked by.

"You can go back first," I told them. "I'll take care of things from here."

The human called Mike wanted to protest but I shut him up with a glare. They looked at each other, worry etched on their faces, clearly reluctant to just leave. They argued among themselves. I heard the others needed to go home before it gets too dark and they still needed to drop off the others. Angela came forward and spoke to me again.

"Look. I'm not really sure why I'm saying this, but call it a gut feeling," she said. "I trust you," she said seriously as she looked me dead in the eye.

I raised a brow at that.

This was certainly a first.

Especially coming from a human.

"Okay."

She beamed at me.

"Then you should hurry then. There's absolutely something wrong with those guys."

I was reminded once again.

I nodded.

"And please tell Bella to call or text us right away."

"I'll pass it on," I replied.

"Thank you, Rosalie."

Hearing that left me dumbfounded.

I nodded, nonetheless.

They left her bag with her clothes with me.

They asked me once again if it was really alright to leave it to me. Somehow, it didn't irk me in the least that they were being insistent and didn't leave right away. It showed how much they cared for the human, more than I expected considering she's just a new addition to their little group.

Wait. Why am I feeling glad for the human?

Once they were out of sight, I ran with inhuman speed following the directions they told me. I didn't care that sand got into my boots or that light was hitting my skin directly as I hurried. It's not like I could run fast with my umbrella wide open without ruining it. I prayed that the few humans on the beach didn't notice me. The sun was still there. Still bright enough for people to notice.

I felt relieved once I zeroed in on her a few meters away.

But my mood immediately darkened at the unmistakable smell of dogs mixed in the air.

I saw the human talking with one of them, rubbing his hair with her hand. He appeared bashful in front of the human as he spoke in return.

The pack of mutts noticed my presence as I slowed down into a walking pace towards them. Their leader scowled at me. I could see the dogs about ready to pounce but he gestured at them to stay back.

This situation was annoying.

I thought this was going to be a quick pick me up. Guess not.

I swore on Bella Swan's dumb luck.

I laughed hysterically in my mind.

Isn't this literally throwing myself at the wolves?

Despite Carlisle's assurance about this whole arrangement with the wolves, I couldn't help but feel slight nervousness. I've never found myself in such close proximity with a pack of wolves before. Both sides have naturally avoided each other, staying within our borders, except for the brief introduction we had a year ago when we came into town.

"What's taking so long, Swan?"

I could tell she was startled as she quickly turned around to face me. As she did, one of the dogs came forward.

My body tensed, preparing myself for a possible attack. I was outnumbered.

Once again I remind myself that the deal was still on so they can't carelessly attack me and also...

I made a quick glance at the human.

They wouldn't carelessly attack me openly with her around, I thought to myself. With her here, I am somewhat reassured they won't try anything. I can't believe I'm thanking the human for this.

"What are you doing here, pale face?!" he yelled at me.

I gave a snort.

"How original," I muttered.

Surprisingly, the human got in between our field of view. I could tell she was concerned.

For me.

"What are you doing here?" the human was the one to ask this time.

"You weren't answering any of Alice's texts and calls," I answered. "I came to see what's taking so long."

"Oh. Sorry about that. I got my phone wet so I turned it off," I explained. "And...I was just trying to catch up with a friend."

I didn't have to ask who because said friend had approached us and pulled Bella to his side.

"Get the hell away from Bella!" he yelled to my face.

"Hey! You're being rude!" Bella exclaimed and even slapped his arm in protest.

He flinched and rubbed at where she hit him. Odd. Or was he acting?

"You should stay away from her , Bella. From all of them," he warned her, his tone a bit more gentle.

"How many times do I have to tell you, Jake," she said in exasperation. "They're my friends."

At those words, my lips couldn't help but quirk up into a smirk. This taunted him, staring daggers my way.

The pack was confused and angry. They stared disapprovingly towards Bella's way.

"Friends? With a bloodsu-?"

"Shhhh!"

"She must be crazy."

"Are you sure she isn't one of them?"

I heard the pack murmur amongst themselves. Their leader cleared his throat to get their attention.

"Enough," Sam said in his low voice. He then turned his gaze towards the two of us, particularly at me. "You! Get out of here."

This Jake in front of us turned back with his eyes wide.

"Sam, we can't just let Bella go with her ," he protested.

The alpha glowered at him. He gestured for him to come closer.

"Remember what the chief said," Sam said loud enough for the whole pack to hear. The dogs quieted down. The next words he directed towards the Jake boy. "And more importantly, your friend over there cannot be involved. Look behind you Jacob. Unlike you, they're still having a lot more trouble with their... condition . They need to leave. Now ."

He stayed silent and didn't argue anymore.

Their alpha glanced at me and gestured for us to go.

"Move," I said to the human.

She wouldn't budge. I followed her gaze. The protesting mutt from earlier was looking pitiful, looking reluctant to see the human go.

I sighed.

I hesitated before taking a step closer and placing a gloved hand on her arm.

"Let's go, Swan."

She snapped her attention to me, eyes widening as her face came mere inches away from mine.

Cue her blush.

I'm well aware of the effect I have on people. Not to brag, but it's gotten me all sorts of annoying attention over the decades. Even before my undead life, I had many flatterers but I found it burdensome despite how vain I was then. But somehow, I wasn't displeased with her reaction.

It's actually cu-NOPE.

"Ah...yeah," she mumbled, quickly looking away.

She turned her head a few times to look back at the pitiful dog. He looked like a kicked puppy who's master was about to leave.

Heh. How dramatic.

He switched his gaze on to me. He glanced down to my hand wrapped around the human's arm and frowned at me. I returned it with a smirk, further inciting his hostility towards me.


We reached the parking area where my bike was parked as well as her car.

"Ummm..."

She turned her head around to face me.

"Can I uh...have my arm back?" I gestured to her hand on my arm that I hadn't let go since we left the beach.

She quickly removed her hand and backed away from me as if she just got burned.

Ooookay…

"Do you mind if I change first before we leave?"

"Make it quick."

She handed me my bag and I grabbed the spare dried clothes I packed with me. As I was about to wear it over my swimsuit, she stopped me by holding onto my shirt.

"Are you seriously putting on dried clothes over your wet swimsuit?" she asked with a quirk of her brow.

My brows wrinkled.

"It's not like I can change out here," I retorted.

She huffed.

She walked over to her car and unlocked it with her car keys. She then opened the back passenger door.

"Get in. Do it quickly."

I stared wide in surprise. Just as I approached I hesitated and stopped.

"Are you sure? I might get your car wet."

I was reluctant to step in because my swimsuit was damp and my hair was still fairly wet, I could still feel water dripping down my back.

Despite the few times we've exchanged words, it's quite obvious to me that Rosalie cares a great deal towards her cars. And yet, the next words that came out of her lips surprised me again.

"It's just water. It'll dry."

I still hesitated.

She rolled her eyes at me.

"Then lay down your towel on the seats," she suggested. "Just get in and change quickly. We don't have all day, Swan."

"Okay okay," I quickly replied as I heard the impatient tone in her voice.

"The windows are tinted dark enough so you don't have to worry."

I flashed a grateful smile.

"Thanks."

"But first…," she whipped out her phone from her pocket and pointed the camera at me. "Alice says 'Hi'."


I leaned my back against the passenger door to act as an extra blockage as I eyed the few people leaving the beach and into their respective vehicles.

I heard the rustling of clothes behind me.

The image of bare pale flesh suddenly flashed through my mind making me pause.

Suddenly, my phone screen lit up in my hand and I unlocked it. It revealed a 'thank you' message from Alice for the photo I just sent her. I couldn't help but get a glimpse of said photo.

My thumb hovered over the screen.

I tapped on the photo, the image taking over my screen.

The sky had already gotten darker, the clouds covering the once blue sky turned into a red orange hue. Her body was partly illuminated on one side by the setting sun, her usual pale skin turned a bronze color. She had one arm raised, her hand combing through her damp hair. Then there were her eyes. They turned a light warm amber color as they reflected what sunlight was peaking over the horizon.

I stared at the candid shot.

She looked good.

Amazing even.

She wasn't that fond of the human but she wasn't going to lie to herself and deny her praise. Her body was toned, lean muscles in all the right places. Her muscles were defined enough that it wasn't necessary for her to flex to make them obvious. She's heard a thing or two over lunch because Emmett kept teasing Bella that their coach was literally begging her because he wanted to recruit her.

Looking at it in person, she can only say that the human won't have too much trouble in the dating scene. She may have heard Alice giggling about a boy pining after the human.

She felt an unfamiliar sensation in her chest.

As I eyed the picture, I also couldn't help but snort at the shocked expression on her face. My lips curled up into a grin as I remember the way she protested and ran up to me fast to get my phone. Of course, I quickly hid it in - not my pocket - my bra, daring her to try.

Her jaw went slack as her gaze dropped to my chest and looked at me with disbelief.

I arched a brow in return as I gestured for her to get into the backseat of my car. She huffed as she did, glaring at me as she closed the door shut with force.

One point for Hale.


Once I took off my helmet, I looked up at the large house in awe. The house had large windows all over so you could see a nice view of the interior from the outside.

"So this is La Casa Cullen," I said with a whistle.

I had second thoughts when I drove away from the main highway and into a dirt road leading towards the forest. It felt like something out of a B-rated horror movie where I'm lured into the forest only to get murdered shortly afterwards. Nevertheless, I followed Rosalie's car.

The front door suddenly swung open, revealing a grinning Alice who immediately ran up to me.

"You're here!"

I was immediately engulfed in a hug. Two hugs to be precise as Emmett's large frame came trudging forward and wrapping his arms around both of us. Over Emmett's shoulder, I saw Esme by the doorway, smiling softly at us. I did a small wave which she returned.

When we finally broke away from our group hug, Alice took my hand excitedly and began dragging me towards the house.

"Alice, wait!"

She did and shot me a curious look.

"Umm...I was just going to ask, do I just leave my bike here?" I asked.

"Oh! Rose, dear. Would you kindly show Bella the garage," Esme called out into the house.

Rosalie appeared next to Esme a few seconds later with a frown on her face.

So she was already inside.

"Why can't I show her?" Emmett asked.

"Well, it was Rosalie's job to lead her here. She should have waited for our guest of honor to arrive and do the hospitable thing and offer our garage."

I saw Rosalie's frown deepen as she glanced at Esme who only raised a challenging eyebrow.

"It's not my fault she drives so slow," Rosalie quipped. "It took us almost twice the time it took for me to drive down to the beach."

"Hey! I was driving at a reasonable speed," I defended. "I should be the one complaining on how you were driving that fast through a mountain."

From what I've seen, I was glad I wasn't sitting in the passenger seat. I might have lost my lunch.

Emmett snorted.

"Slowpoke," he said to me.

"I did wonder what took you so long."

I looked at the both of them in disbelief.

"What? You drive like that too?"

They both shrugged.

"You crazy speed demons," I couldn't help but say. "I am never riding with any of you," I emphasized which earned me a couple of chuckles.


"You can park here and place your helmet on that table," Rosalie told me.

I nodded absentmindedly as I took in the interior. Their garage was large, housing all sorts of cars, cars aside from the ones I've seen them drive to school.

I knew they were rich but they're fucking loaded as fuck.

My curiosity piqued when I saw one covered with a tarp in the far corner. My view was blocked as Rosalie stepped in front of me.

"Are you done snooping?"

"Uh...sorry. Just...wow. This place is wow."

"You can gawk all you want just don't touch anything. I don't want you breaking anything in here."

"I'll keep my hands to myself," I replied, placing my hands in my pockets.

She then walked away to go push a button mounted on the wall that made the garage doors close.

Looking over her shoulder, she looked at me, still standing on the same spot. I took that as a sign for me to follow her. She led me to a short hallway adjoining the garage to the rest of the house. At the end was a door where she stopped and turned around to face me.

"This is your last warning," she said. Her voice lacked its usual icy tone. "Whatever it is that you know, it should be enough to tell you it's not a good idea to be around us."

"I don't-"

"Don't even bother denying it," she said with a sigh. "For the life of me, I don't get why you'd be so willing to to enter a house full of... us ."

"..."

"Won't you turn back?"

I could almost hear her pleading.

I studied her face.

There was something there. Concern. Fear.

"This is me asking you nicely," she added.

She's right. This is the nicest Rosalie has ever spoken to her so far. No biting snarky remark. No rolling of eyes. She's speaking to me. Actually speaking to me in a way that told me she wanted me to listen.

And I am listening.

"I…"

I can understand them wanting to keep themselves a secret. I was keeping a secret of my own.

But then I thought about Alice, Emmett, and Edward. Even Jasper had been trying with me. Carlisle and Esme had been kind as well. Admittedly, I do feel guilty because I had ulterior motives at the beginning when I approached them. I wanted to see if they were harmful. To me.

But they've proven otherwise and even offered me their friendship. And I found myself liking them back.

Sure there were Angela and the gang and I appreciate how much they welcomed me into their group. And yet, I felt myself still feeling lonely. The fact that I couldn't share this big secret of mine to them made me feel alone. I could tell them but they'd never understand. They'd won't even believe me. I could show them proof but that will just scare them away.

Meanwhile the Cullens, now they were different.

They understood what it's like to keep yourself a secret.

They wouldn't be scared of me…

Right?

I'm sure they wouldn't…

Right?

[I'm sorry I can't answer that for you, lass.]

But I'm willing to take the risk just like what they did by befriending me...even though they don't know what I am...yet.

That's why, towards what Rosalie is asking me...

"I can't."

Suddenly, the door swung open behind her.


Dinner with the human went off without a hitch and by that I mean not a single drop of blood was shed. Thank god.

I watched as she scarfed down through the food on the table much to Esme's delight and the others' amazement.

I watched as they fawned over her, laughing along to bad jokes and stories of the many many accidents of one Bella Swan.

I watched as she didn't comment on how none of us have touched our food.

Afterwards, they brought her to the living room to present her with their gifts. The human tried to decline but Esme would have none of it and pushed her own present into her hands. The others followed, delighted when they saw the human perk up as she opened all her presents one by one.

And so I watched, feeling like the outsider.

I felt guilt bubbling inside me, avoiding my siblings' gaze during dinner especially Alice. I'm sure she heard. All of them heard. Here they were, enjoying the company of this human and yet not long ago I was trying to drive a wedge between them.

I drank the whole glass of (blood diluted in) wine in my hand (something I insisted on having), my mouth becoming full of it's bitter taste. As I pulled my head down from downing my drink, I saw them all looking my way. I was about to ask what it was they were staring at but then I realized the human had gotten through all of her presents.

Sighing, I placed my empty glass on the nearest table.

"Come along, Swan."

"Umm…"

She looked at me hesitantly and then at the others. Surprisingly, it was Alice who nudged her forward and told her to follow me.

Once again, we found ourselves in the garage. I led her towards the corner and stood in front of the only one that was covered with a tarp. I grabbed the tarp and was about to uncover what was underneath but I stopped.

"Swan?"

"Yeah?"

"About earlier...I-"

"It's fine, Rosalie."

My brows furrowed as I stared at her questioningly.

"I understand," she spoke again.

"Do you really?"

"I do. And my answer won't change."

"There's really nothing I can do to change that answer?"

"Well...you could try," she replied with a cheeky grin. "But that would mean you'll have to go through Alice and Jasper, Emmett, and Edward."

I arched a brow.

"'Alice and Jasper'?"

"I'm sure Jasper would do anything to protect Alice. They're like a buy 1 get 1 deal."

"And you're so confident about that?"

"Weirdly enough, they like keeping me around which is very nice of them."

"You're right. They are weird."

That got a chuckle out of her.

"And what about you?"

"What about me?"

"Are you weird too?"

Brown and golden eyes locked.

Am I?

I cut our conversation there as I pulled off the tarp with one swift pull. It revealed her truck I've successfully restored in all it's previous glory. I couldn't help the satisfaction I felt at the way her jaw dropped.

She turned her gaze towards me.

"You...you did all this?"

"I did."

"Holy shit."

"Esme doesn't appreciate swearing in the house."

"I'll swear in my head then because I don't think I can stop."

I rolled my eyes.

"You can go inside if you want."

And so she did.

After a few minutes, she came back out. I watched in amusement as she opened her mouth then closing it back again a couple of times. She then stepped towards me, her arms raising but immediately stilled and returned them back to her sides.

"I want to hug you so much right now," she said much to my shock. "But you did say earlier I can't touch anything here and I guess that includes you? But you did say I can gawk...well I'm gawking. Because this-," she gestured to her truck. "-is fuc-dging amazing. You're amazing. And fudge I'm so- I could literally fudging cry and I won't even be embarrassed about it. I'm so ugh...what's that word? Something...the opposite of sad…fudge my brain isn't functioning. What's that damn word..."

This is the first time I've ever seen her this...expressive. To me.

I had to stifle a laugh from the many times I've heard the word 'fudge' come out of her mouth. Then again, I can hear my siblings laughing on my behalf.

"Happy?"

"YES! That's it. Happy! Thank you so much for what you did to her."

"It was a nice project I admit."

Someone groaned.

"Ugh. I can't believe this. I sa- knew this would happen but it doesn't stop me from feeling jealous," Alice sulked as she approached us. "You just fixed one hunk of junk and you literally have her licking at your feet."

"But Alice, look at it!"

Bella all but skipped as she hugged her truck.

Alice scrunched up her nose and glared at me.

"So unfair."

The rest of the family were present as well, seeing Bella gush and sing me praises. This was the first time I've ever seen Edward and Emmett give me jealous glances.

I ignored them as my attention was focused on her. I wasn't expecting this big of a reaction. Compliments weren't foreign to me. But it's the sincerity in her words, though a bit exaggerated, that got to me. This is the first in a long time that I did anything and received praise outside my family.

I wasn't used to it.

"Enough. I've heard you the first time."

"One 'thank you' just wasn't enough."

"It's just a truck."

"That you spent hours of your time working on," she added. "And just in time for my birthday too. That can't be a coincidence."

"I…"

"Just accept the compliments, sister," Edward interjected.

"Told ya she'd do an amazing job," Emmett said to Bella. He then patted me on the back. "Best mechanic in the world."

"That she is," Esme added.

"I certainly know my way around when it comes to my patients, but when it comes to cars, we all look up to Rosalie," Carlisle spoke.

And with that, the evening ended on a high note as I gave the keys to her. She grinned at me widely and promised to pay me back as soon as possible.

"No need."

"But-"

"It's your present."

And an apology.

"It's a bit much for a present, don't you think? I can't just take this for free," she said, giving the keys back to me.

"Isn't that the point of this day?"

"I wasn't expecting you'd give me a present."

I scoffed.

I didn't either.

"No! No…I mean I didn't expect to get presents from any of you. I'm sure I've mentioned it before that you didn't have to bother."

"You didn't really expect we wouldn't, did you? Especially Alice," Edward said. "She'll take any excuse to go shopping."

That earned a laugh from everyone. Alice just shrugged, not even denying it.

She still had the keys held towards me.

I sighed.

I took the keys and placed it back on her palm. Holding her hand in mine, I then curled her fingers around the keys using my other hand. I heard her quick inhale as she stared up at me, visibly startled.

"Happy Birthday, Bella."

"Th-thanks."

It was the second time I've seen her face turn red today. Redder even.

"Aww she's blushing!"

"Hahahaha the Rosalie Effect never fails. Oh shit-"

"Language," Esme scolded Emmett.

"-Jasper, why don't we uhh...go play some video games."


The following week...

Bella was gone.

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