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The Twilight Saga 2: New Moon: Page 80
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If you're staying in your teens forever, then so am I."
He thought for a minute. "All right. Forget time limits. If you want me to be the one��then you'll just have
to meet one condition."
"Condition?" My voice went flat. "What condition?"
His eyes were cautious��he spoke slowly. "Marry me first."
I stared at him, waiting�� "Okay. What's the punch line?"
He sighed. "You're wounding my ego, Bella. I just proposed to you, and you think it's a joke."
"Edward, please be serious."
"I am one hundred percent serious." He gazed at me with no hint of humor in his face.
"Oh, c'mon," I said, an edge of hysteria in my voice. "I'm only eighteen."
"Well, I'm nearly a hundred and ten. It's time I settled down."
I looked away, out the dark window, trying to control the panic before it gave me away.
"Look, marriage isn't exactly that high on my list of priorities, you know? It was sort of the kiss of death for Renee and Charlie."
"Interesting choice of words."
"You know what I mean."
He inhaled deeply. "Please don't tell me that you're afraid of the commitment," his voice was disbelieving, and I understood what he meant.
"That's not it exactly," I hedged. "I'm�� afraid of Renee. She has some really intense opinions on getting married before you're thirty."
"Because she'd rather you became one of the eternal damned than get married." He laughed darkly.
"You think you're joking."
"Bella, if you compare the level of commitment between a marital union as opposed to bartering your soul in exchange for an eternity as a vampire��" He shook his head. "If you're not brave enough to marry me, then��"
"Well," I interrupted. "What if I did? What if I told you to take me to Vegas now? Would I be a vampire in three days?"
He smiled, his teeth flashing in the dark. "Sure," he said, calling my bluff. "I'll get my car."
"Dammit." I muttered. "I'll give you eighteen months."
"No deal," he said, grinning. "I like this condition."
"Fine. I'll have Carlisle do it when I graduate."
"If that's what you really want." He shrugged, and his smile became absolutely angelic.
"You're impossible," I groaned. "A monster."
He chuckled. "Is that why you won't marry me?"
I groaned again.
He leaned toward me; his night-dark eyes melted and smoldered and shattered my concentration. " Please, Bella?" he breathed.
I forgot how to breathe for a moment. When I recovered, I shook my head quickly, trying to clear my suddenly clouded mind.
"Would this have gone better if I d had time to get a ring.'"
"No! No rings!" I very nearly snouted.
"Now you've done it," he whispered.
"Charlie's getting up; I'd better leave," Edward said with resignation.
My heart stopped beating.
He gauged my expression for a second. "Would it be childish of me to hide in your closet, then?"
"No," I whispered eagerly. "Stay. Please."
Edward smiled and disappeared.
I seethed in the darkness as I waited for Charlie to check on me. Edward knew exactly what he was doing, and I was willing to bet that all the injured surprise was part of the ploy. Of course, I still had the Carlisle option, but now that I knew there was a chance that Edward would change me himself, I wanted it bad. He was such a cheater.
My door cracked open.
"Oh, hey, Bella." He sounded embarrassed at getting caught. "I didn't know you were awake."
"Yeah. I've just been waiting ior you to wake up so I could take a shower." I started to get up.
"Hold on," Charlie said, flipping the light on. I blinked in the sudden brightness, and carefully kept my eyes away from the closet. "Let's talk for a minute first."
I couldn't control my grimace. I'd forgotten to ask Alice for a good excuse.
"You know you're in trouble."
"Yeah, I know."
"I just about went crazy these last three days. I come home from Harry's funeral, and you're gone. Jacob could only tell me that you'd run off with Alice Cullen, and that he thought you were in trouble. You didn't leave me a number, and you didn't call. I didn't know where you were or when��or if��you were coming back. Do you have any idea how�� how��" He couldn't finish the sentence. He sucked in a sharp breath and moved on. "Can you give me one reason why I shouldn't ship you off to Jacksonville this second?"
My eyes narrowed. So it was going to be threats, was it? Two could play at that game. I sat up, pulling the quilt around me. "Because I won't go."
"Now just one minute, young lady��"
"Look, Dad, I accept complete responsibility for my actions, and you have the right to ground me for as long as you want. I will also do all the chores and laundry and dishes until you think I've learned my lesson. And I guess you're within your rights if you want to kick me out, too��but that won't make me to go to Florida."
His face turned bright red. He took a few deep breaths before he answered.
"Would you like to explain where you've been?"
Oh, crap. "There was�� an emergency."
He raised his eyebrows in expectation of my brilliant explanation.
I filled my cheeks with air and then blew it out noisily. "I don't know what to tell you, Dad. It was mostly a misunderstanding. He said, she said. It got out of hand."
He waited with a distrustful expression.
"See, Alice told Rosalie about me jumping off the cliff��" I was scrambling frantically to make this work, to keep it as close to the truth as possible so that my inability to lie convincingly would not undermine the excuse, but before I could go on, Charlie's expression reminded me that he didn't know arything about thecliff.
Major oops. As if I wasn't already toast.
"I guess I didn't tell you about that," I choked out. "It was nothing. Just messing around, swimming with Jake. Anyway, Rosalie told Edward, and he was upset. She sort of accidentally made it sound like I wa? trying to kill myself or something. He wouldn't answer his phone, so Alice dragged me to�� L.A., to explain in person." I shrugged, desperately hoping that he would not be so distracted by my slip that he'd miss the brilliant explanation I'd provided.
Charlie's face was frozen. "Were you trying to kill yourself, Bella?"
"No, of course not. Just having fun with Jake. Cliff diving. The La Push kids do it all the time. Like I said, nothing."
Charlie's face heated up��from frozen to hot with fury. "What's it to Edward Cullen anyway?" he barked. "All this time, he's just left you dangling without a word��"
I interrupted him. "Another misunderstanding."
His face flushed again. "So is he back then?"
"I'm not sure what the exact plan is. I think they all are."
He shook his head, the vein in his forehead pulsing. "I want you to stay away from him, Bella. I don't trust him. He's rotten for you. I won't let him mess you up like that again."
"Fine," I said curtly.
Charlie rocked back onto his heels. "Oh." He scrambled for a second, exhaling loudly in surprise. "I thought you were going to be difficult."
"I am." I stared straight into his eyes. "I meant, 'Fine, I'll move out.'"
His eyes bulged; his face turned puce. My resolve wavered as I started to worry about his health. He was no younger than Harry��
"Dad, I don't want to move out," I said in a softer tone. "I love you. I know you're worried, but you need to trust me on this. And you're going to have to ease up on Edward if you want me to stay. Do you want me to live here or not?"
"That's not fair, Bella. You know I want you to stay."
"Then be nice to Edward, because he's going to be where I am." I said it with confidence. The conviction of my epiphany was still strong.
"Not under my roof," Charlie stormed.
I sighed a heavy sigh. "Look, I'm not going to give you any more ultimatums tonight��or I guess it's this morning. Just think about it for a few days, okay? But keep in mind that Edward and I are sort of a package deal."
"Think it over," I insisted. "And while you're doing that, could you give me some privacy? I really need a shower."
Charlie's face was a strange shade of purple, but he left, slamming the door behind him. I heard him stomp furiously down the stairs.
I threw off my quilt, and Edward was already there, sitting in the rocking chair as if he d been present through the whole conversation.
"Sorry about that," I whispered.
"It's not as if I don't deserve far worse," he murmured. "Don't start anything with Charlie over me, please. "
"Don't worry about it," I breathed as I gathered up my bathroom things and a set of clean clothes. "I will start exactly as much as is necessary, and no more than that. Or are you trying to tell me I have nowhere to go?" I widened my eyes with false alarm.
"You'd move in with a house full of vampires?"
"That's probably the safest place for someone like me. Besides��" I grinned. "If Charlie kicks me out, then there's no need for a graduation deadline, is there?"
His jaw tightened.
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