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A pound of flesh

Prologue Isabella Swan sat cross-legged, enjoying the feel of the Egyptian cotton sheets that were pulled taut and creaseless across the four-poster bed of Suite 227 of the Mandarin Hotel, New York. She sat, smiling, watching with rapt, adoring nine year old eyes as her father stood in front of a large vertical mirror, trying to fathom how to fasten the black silk tie that was hanging uncooperatively around his neck. He sighed in frustration and rolled his eyes at the reflection of his daughter, who giggled and grinned back widely. Usually his wife would assist him in matters such as a defiant tie but she was five hours away in D.C attending a breast cancer awareness event; a cause that she had been an avid supporter of since she had lost her older sister to the appalling disease not ten years before. He couldn't begrudge her need to be there but it didn't stop him from missing her. Just recently they had been more like ships passing in the night as opposed to husband and wife. He longed to have more than one night with her without the stress of an upcoming flight or an event hanging over them as they made love or simply held one another. But alas, a politician's life was filled with responsibilities that took him away from his family, which was why he had asked Isabella to join him on this particular trip. Senator Charles Swan was known in the political world for two things; a ruthless determination and utter humility. Many admired him for walking such a fine line between two such opposing character traits, others saw him as a walking contradiction but neither bothered Senator Swan because another characteristic he possessed, that lay silent but entirely present under his cool faade was that he took no bullshit. From anyone. And God help anyone who tried to shovel any his way. He finally won his battle against the tie from hell and spun around, arms out wide, to face his daughter. "So, Bells, what do you think?" "Handsome," she chimed with a loud clap. "Always am," he replied with a wink, before walking towards the phone that was ringing from its position on the night stand by the bed. "Yes," he answered quickly. "Senator, your car is waiting," replied the young blonde from the hotel front desk. "Thank you," he said with a smile. "Ok," he continued towards his daughter as he replaced the receiver. "You ready, baby?" "Yep," Isabella answered, jumping from the bed and straightening her pastel blue dress down past her knees.

"You excited?" he asked as he placed a loving hand on her shoulder. She nodded and twisted so that she could wrap her arms around her Daddy's waist. He was her hero. He was her cuddly giant who always saved the cherry from the bottom of his cherry ice cream sundaes. Who still tucked her in when he could and read her 'Walter the lazy Mouse,' even though she knew, that if the girls at school ever found out, she would be taunted and laughed at for certain. But that didn't stop Daddy from doing it. He would do anything for her, she knew. She knew because he told her repeatedly. "Anything for my beauty,' he would say and he meant it. If Charles Swan's wife was his world then Isabella was the sun that warmed it. He basked in her glow and spark, which was as much he as it was her mother. He glanced out of the limousine window to see the tall skyscrapers slowly become smaller more destitute buildings that were covered in graffiti that was as beautiful as it was misplaced. It deserved to be in an art museum somewhere. He smiled as he thought back to the days when he would leave his signature CS in bright green and black around the town that he lived in. He was warned and fined twice but it never stopped him. He was rebellious and he reveled in it. Growing up in a low class neighborhood where drugs and crime were rife he had to do something to keep him off the path that was so inevitable for so many others. The car came to a slow stop outside a large whitewash building that looked like a large precious gem amidst the other dirty walls of the surrounding neighborhood and, ironically enough, that was exactly what it was in Senator Swan's eyes. It was his gem. The Bronx Helping Hand Shelter was a four-year labor of love for him. His idea had been to build and open a place for people with little or no medical insurance, particularly families, the homeless and the hungry. Once there, the users could cook their own meals, were given access to medicines and volunteer doctors and also Internet access to help them find work or to simply learn a skill in using a computer. All the workers at the shelter were volunteers and the letters of recommendation from them all had been unprecedented. The Senator's idea was obviously something that struck a chord in many others, far and wide. People were limited to staying at the shelter for a maximum of seven days but Senator Swan was determined to change that. He knew, with a heavy heart and a frustrated soul that there was a lot of political red tape to get through before that happened. But he would. He had to. He knew without doubt that, had there been a place like the Helping Hand Shelter for him and his own mother, when he was Isabella's age, their lives would have been a damn sight easier. His one wish at that moment was that his mother was still alive to see what he had achieved. "Let's go, sweetie," he said to Isabella, taking her hand and slipping out of the car door that was being held open by Agent Billy Ephraim, Charles's favorite and most trusted bodyguard. "Thank you, Billy," he said with a nod. "Of course, Sir," he replied in kind. The grand opening of the shelter had been three months earlier but Senator Swan wanted to make sure that all was running as it should have been and that any earlier kinks had been ironed out. He was happily assured as he walked around, led by Hannah Crest the shelter manager. He held

Isabella's hand tightly and pointed out all the elements that would make so many people's lives easier. "What do you think, Bells?" he asked with a small smile. "It's wonderful," she answered as she ran her hand over the keyboard of one of the new Mac computers that were bolted to the wooden desks "Do you help all these people?" She motioned towards the dozen or so men, women and children that were scattered around the room, reading, eating and talking. "I try," he answered honestly. "You're their hero too," Isabella mused almost to herself. Senator Swan couldn't help but laugh and flush gently at his daughter's compliment. He walked towards her and crouched so that he was eye-level with her. "It's important to help people, Bells. We are very lucky but that wasn't always so for me." "When you were little?" she asked, running her index finger across his moustache. "That's right," he replied with a smile that made his eyes crinkle. "We need to make sure that we give back, Bells. Do you understand, baby?" She frowned slightly but nodded. "How can I help?" she asked firmly. She knew she had to do something. She just wasn't sure, at nine years old, what that could be. "Well, when you're a little older and you've gone to college, you can do whatever you want." "Whatever I want?" He nodded and tucked her hair behind her ear. "Of course, sweetheart; A doctor, a teacher, a nurse" "A teacher," she repeated with wide eyes. Senator Swan laughed again. "Yeah, baby. You could teach in a school, helping people." "Helping like you," Isabella said softly. She could be a hero like Daddy and that thought alone excited her like nothing else. "I will. I promise. I'll help," she swore without a hint of dishonesty. "That's great, Bella," her father replied, knowing that she ant every word. "I'd be so proud of you. Even more than I am already." The words hit Isabella's ears and her immediate reaction was to throw her arms around his neck and squeeze. Her father hugged her back and rubbed his palm down the back of her hair and took a deep breath of her precious scent. He knew his daughter was destined for greatness and through helping others he knew she would achieve it. He and his family led a charmed life that he had worked hard to attain, but it was vitally important to him that his daughter gave something back. He had done his utmost to teach her right and he prayed daily that some part of her had taken his words to heed.

"I love you," he whispered as he cupped her face and kissed her forehead. "You can be all you want to be, Isabella." "I want to be like you, helping people," she answered determinedly. "And so you shall be," he promised her. The father daughter duo spent three more hours talking and learning more about the people who used and volunteered at the shelter. Isabella was fascinated by the way in which people gravitated towards her father. He was commanding but approachable and everyone he met thanked him and wished him well. Yes, Isabella wanted to be like her father and being a teacher would be just the way to do it. She wanted to make him proud and she wanted to help people just like he did. Yes she was decided she would make her Daddy proud. "Ok, Bells," he said with a wide smile. "I don't know about you," he whispered. "But I'm hungry and I know a great sandwich place around the corner. How about it, baby, you and me?" Isabella bit her lip and nodded eagerly. Senator Swan said his goodbyes, thanking everyone for their hard work and promised that he would be back to once again check on his gem. The shelter, he decided, was looking excellent and, although there was more work to be done, he was pleased with what he saw. He made a note on his Blackberry to speak to his assistant about finding a supplier for thicker blankets for the beds and larger pans for the kitchens. The cool evening air hit the two of them as they approached the car, while Agent Ephraim held the door open for them. "Thanks, Billy, but I'm taking my daughter here for a Mr. Hess sandwich." Agent Ephraim smiled gently and nodded, "Very good, Sir." He closed the car door and made to escort them down the street. "Stay here," Senator Swan said with a shrug. "It's only a block down." "Senator," Agent Ephraim protested. "Please," he assured him. "We'll be fine, really." He clapped a hand to the agent's large, broad shoulder. "Take a load off." He grabbed Isabella's hand and began towards the world famous sandwich shop. Agent Ephraim clenched his teeth. He could still make out the pair of them as they walked across the street but he became extremely uneasy when they disappeared around the corner. He slammed his palms against his hips and sighed in exasperation. This wasn't the first time that this had happened but orders were orders and Senator Swan was a determined and stubborn son of a bitch. He paced and adjusted his earpiece once again. He knew the Senator had a panic alarm but not being with him filled him with anxiety. It was his job to protect the Senator after all.

Senator Swan however was oblivious to the worries of his bodyguard as he sat down with his daughter and began tucking into the best cheese steak sandwich outside of Philadelphia. Isabella ate hers with enthusiasm while smiling at a young girl who glanced over with a look of recognition on his face. The shop was empty but for the three of them, not that Senator Swan was concerned. The area may have had a poor reputation for crime and violence but he was confident that he was safe with his daughter as they ate. Besides, after living in the areas he had growing up, he would like to see anyone try something against him or his daughter. He may have been wearing a thousand dollar suit and Prada loafers but his knuckles and street sense were worth more than those combined. Isabella continued to regale her father with her dreams of the future and how she saw herself in a classroom, teaching and helping in any way she could. Her enthusiasm and fortitude warmed his soul more than he could express, especially since he knew that she got it all from him. Daddy's girl, his wife would sigh repeatedly. They finished their sandwiches and set off back onto the street, Isabella's hand placed firmly in her father's tight grip. The grip however suddenly became painful as they passed a dark, piss soaked alleyway from which slunk four young men with knives and guns in the waistbands of their dirty, ripped jeans. Senator Swan couldn't see the weapons but, like a sixth sense that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end, he knew they were there. He quickened his pace so much that Isabella was almost jogging to keep up. "Daddy," she whispered in panic as she glanced up to see a tightness in his jaw that she had never seen before. It scared her. "Shh," he soothed as he pulled her across the street, heading for a streetlight, while fumbling for his panic alarm in his pants pocket. "Just listen to me ok, baby? Stay calm. Do exactly what I say. Do you understand me? Exactly what I say." Isabella nodded and chanced a glance behind them, seeing that the four young men were keeping up with her father stride for stride, watching, stalking like wild animals. She wanted to cry. She didn't exactly know why but the emotion seemed to bubble in her stomach before starting to move up her body to her throat. Senator Swan cursed as he continued to pat himself down for the panic alarm. He knew it was somewhere. His fingers eventually found it in his right breast pocket and he felt a wave of calm over take him as he pressed it. The calm was quickly over taken when something hard and blunt hit the back of his knees, sending him sprawling onto the floor, taking his daughter with him. "Give me your fucking wallet," the first guy hissed before hitting him again across his lower back. Isabella screamed in horror as she watched the baseball bat connect with her father, sending the air out of his body in a loud gust. "Shut the fuck up, bitch!" Isabella didn't know where the voice came from nor did she see the direction at which the hand came that struck her hard across the face, sending her skidding across the sidewalk. "Don't you fucking touch her!"

Senator Swan had suddenly dissolved into the sidewalk leaving only Charlie Swan, project and ghetto resident in his place, breathless and seething and ready to take on the four motherfuckers for touching his precious beauty. With unknown strength he made it to his feet and launched himself at the wide eyed kid who had struck her. There were fists and palms and even bites that rained back down on him. His head throbbed and there was the faint taste of iron in the back of his throat as he fought a desperate, losing battle. But all he could think about was his Isabella. "Run!" he cried to his daughter, unable to see where she was or if they had her, through the barricade of bodies that surrounded him. "Run, Isabella. Please just fucking run!" He groaned in agony as another fist met the side of his head. Isabella was struck cold by the pleading in her father's voice so much so that she was frozen solid to the concrete that she had met after being hit. Tears ran down her face and an animalistic cry erupted from her throat. "Daddy!" "Isabella," Charlie gurgled as his knees hit the floor, his eyes blurring with blood, sweat and tears. "Please, baby." Isabella made to move towards him to help her hero but her arm was suddenly being pulled hard in the opposite direction. She breathed in slight relief, expecting to see Agent Ephraim holding her but was stunned to see a person not much taller than her, wearing a dirty, black hoodie, dragging her violently away from where her father was being beaten. "No," she screamed loudly as the stranger dragged her faster, "Daddy! Daddy!" "Keep moving!" the stranger hissed from under his cap and hood. "We have to get away from them. They'll kill your ass! Move!" "I can't," Isabella sobbed. "My Dad" The stranger didn't stop to listen as the adrenaline pumped through him and instead pulled her into the doorway of an abandoned building two blocks from where the resounding and terrifying sound of gunfire filled the air. Isabella screamed and yanked her hand hard from her rescuers grip. She began running back in the direction of the attack but was wrestled to the floor by strong and firm hands that pinned her down from behind. They both landed on the sidewalk with a resounding thud. Isabella continued to scream from under the stranger who was determined not to let her go. She may have been a spoilt little rich girl, he thought, but she was far too pretty to be left to the fuckers that were no doubt killing her poor bastard of a father. He wouldn't normally involve himself for fear of becoming the gangs target but this time was different. Something inside told him to help the dark haired girl in the blue dress, something that would not relent or shut the fuck up. "Stay here," he breathed heavily into her hair as she wriggled beneath him. "You can't go back dammit. He told you to run for Christ's sake."

Isabella fought more against him but soon felt her body become heavy and exhausted, her cries and screams had now changed to wracked sobs that stuttered into the concrete under her forehead before she felt the weight on top of her disappear and two hands lift her, pulling her into the freezing doorway of the same abandoned building. She slumped against the body next to her and mewed in pain into the musty smelling fabric of his hoodie. She needed to get to her Daddy. She needed to see that he was ok. He had to be ok. He was her hero, powerful, commanding and strong. He had to be all right. An arm around her shoulder and a cold hand against her cheek was her undoing as she wilted further against the body of her unknown rescuer. She may have stayed that way for hours, she may have even fallen asleep because the next thing she knew she was being carried by a police officer towards an ambulance. She opened her eyes as wide as they would go from all the crying she had done, only to see the exhausted face of Agent Ephraim surrounded by a sea of red and blue flashing lights. The expression, that would haunt her for the rest of her life, told her, unequivocally, that her Daddy, the hero, would not be tucking her in later that night. Chapter One: Strangers in the Night "Fear follows crime, and is its punishment." ~ Voltaire "Number," Officer Bishop, growled loudly at the tall, lean, bronze haired inmate standing in front of him. It was a Friday. It was a Friday and five minutes after clocking off. Mrs. Bishop was going to be pissed. Fuck Officer Bishop ran an impatient, calloused hand over the back of his neck and exhaled. Being the punctual, no nonsense guy that he was, the fact that the asshole before him was still not responding and was, instead, staring at him with a huge smirk on his punk ass face, sent a wave of irritation crashing over him. "Number," he repeated through gritted teeth. He squeezed the pen in his right hand, wishing to hell that it was Punk Ass's skinny little neck. The smirk on Punk Ass's face grew wider and his eyes blazed with a defiance that Officer Bishop, with twenty-five years correctional service, was neither new to nor tolerated. He sighed and gave Punk Ass a chillingly meager smile. "Listen asshole," he said in a low dangerous voice that worked like a knife to the throat on the other inmates in his charge. "It's very simple. You give me your number, I put it on this form, and then I get to go home."

Punk Ass didn't respond, but reveled silently in the dark, threatening undertones of Officer Bishop's voice. "You don't," he continued. "Then my wife gets pissed, and I have to explain to her that some cocky punk ass, who thought himself above answering simple questions, kept me waiting over a six-digit number. Then she'll get more pissed and shout about cocky punk asses and the fact that her and my tax dollars are what keep fuckers like you in three meals a day and blue overalls." Punk Ass raised his right eyebrow in agreement. How ironic, he thought, that him keeping Officer Bishop later than his assigned shift meant that he would, in turn, pay extra tax on the overtime he had built, ensuring that there would definitely be a breakfast waiting for his overall wearing, punk ass in the morning. Officer Bishop took the widening smirk personally and gripped the end of his baton. In twenty-five years, he had never used it, but right then, he was not above laying the little bastard out if it meant a quiet night with the wife. "One more time," he fumed, spitting slightly through his tight lips, "number." His patience was wearing thin, and Punk Ass knew it as he glanced at the fist around the top of the baton. He breathed long and loud down his nose. Any other day he would have been ready for the fat bastard to take a shot. He would have, quite happily, taken the beating with the smile still plastered over his face, but the more he thought about it the more he realized he wasn't in the mood. "061901," he answered coolly, unable to resist a small wink as he did. After throwing the cocky little shit a glare that would have rendered any lesser man dead on the spot, Officer Bishop wrote the number down on the form on the desk in front of him. He swiveled around on his wheeled chair and passed it to the young blonde admin assistant who had been watching the entire exchange with intrigue. How, she thought, how the hell did a creature so beautiful end up in a place like this? She allowed her eyes to roam up and down 061901 one more time, imagining the pleasures that hid beneath the blue overalls, before inputting the same six digits into her computer. The owner of the six digits watched as she typed the number that had been his adopted name for the past nine months and knew, even before she hit the return key, what details would show up on the screen. He smiled to himself as he caught her looking at him again. Look all you want, darlin' It wasn't that he was proud of the list of crimes and misdemeanors that would no doubt fill up at least two full screens - far from it - but it did however give him a sense of self which was something that he had been searching most of his twenty-seven years for. He was still searching for itfor somethingand until he found it, that list, was all he had. "Fuck it," he muttered quietly under his breath. He was sick of fucking thinking about it.

The sound of paper ripping from an ancient printer brought him back to the moment. The appreciative blonde-haired woman handed the sheet back to Officer Bishop, sucking suggestively on the end of her pen while she eye fucked 061901 into oblivion. If only, he thought, smirking back at her knowingly. A blowjob right now would be just the shit he needed to clear his head. Pun fucking intended. Either that or a cigarette. He licked his lips in anticipation for both. "Well," Officer Bishop said with a long breath. He raised his eyebrows, as he looked at the paper, in a way that was neither surprised nor satisfied. "It appears your stay with us stretches for another fifteen long months." The cocky punk ass didn't respond to the Officer's sarcastic remark, other than to look smug as shit. Parole motherfucker Fucking justice. Where the hell was the justice? That's what Officer Bishop wanted to know. He snorted at the lack of reaction and the complete injustice of it all, stamping the form a little harder than normal. He held it out for Punk Ass to take which he did with a quick hand. "I'm sure I'll see you before you leave us," he said aloud, surprised that this was the first time he had met Punk Ass. "But to be safe, just know that I'll make sure to keep your cell vacant. Just in case you desire another vacation at Casa de Arthur Kill, Staten Island. Ok, Cullen?" Cullen looked up from the sheet in front of him and smiled widely. "Don't tease me," he answered roughly before winking at Blondie and heading past the pair of them, opening a large plastic, white door with a slap from the palm of his hand. Blondie sighed, and ignored the look of distaste that Officer Bishop shot her. The room Cullen entered was small, sterile and reeked of confessions. It made him uncomfortable. Not that he would ever show it. Fuck that He walked with purpose and arrogance towards a large, ape of a man who was sitting behind a single, cheap wooden table, glancing dismissively at the guard standing at the door at the other end of the room. The designer glasses and tailored suit that the man behind the desk wore made him look important, well read, and intimidating; three things that Garrett Volture had worked a long time to establish. He looked up slowly as a stamped piece of paper floated down in front of him to see a young man that reminded him so much of his old self that it made his mouth dry. "Edward," Garrett said, licking his lips with an arid tongue. "It's so good to see you. Please, take a seat."

Edward pushed his hands into the pockets of his overalls and dropped ungracefully into the offered seat. Garrett was the only person he knew that called him by his first name. Everyone else, even his best friend, called him Cullen. Garrett had been insistent about it. He saw it as a way of building relationships with the inmates he counseled and, after two weeks, Cullen had relented. Not for just any fucker, he had told Garrett "Gotta smoke?" Cullen asked, looking everywhere but at the man his question was directed at. "Sure," Garrett replied, smiling at the routine the two of them had built up over the past nine months and the numerous stretches of detention that Edward had done before that. He flung a pack of Camels and a pack of matches onto the table and watched as long, pale fingers grappled anxiously with the wrapper. It was two days since Cullen had had a cigarette. Two fucking days. Fuck, he was desperate. As he inhaled the thick, lush smoke, for one split second, all was right with the world. He slumped further into his seat, and took another long, much needed drag. Jesus Christ, it felt good. "Better?" Garrett asked with a knowing smile. "Fuck loads," he replied, blowing the smoke back at him. Garrett resisted the urge to waft the smoke away from his face, knowing that the gesture would only make Edward do it more. He had learned that the hard way about Edward Cullen. Any sign of weakness or irritation and Edward would grip onto it with the tenacity of a terrier. It was a defense mechanism. They had discussed it in one of the first sessions the two of them had had. A mechanism so finely executed that Edward, instead of defensive and feeble, came across as strong, dominating, and admittedly scary as fuck. But Garrett Volture, having seventeen years experience as a corrections councilor, was not scared of the twenty-seven year old smoker in front of him. He was in awe of him. He pulled a document file at least seven inches thick from his briefcase and opened it up, flicking nonchalantly through the numerous reports, court statements and testimonials that described Edward as being a 'menace to society,' 'a strong willed character' and 'an intelligent individual who lacks the self confidence enough to assert it and channel it correctly.' Edward had not appreciated the last comment one bit and Garrett still had the chip in his front tooth to prove it. Edward Anthony Masen Cullen had so much potential - that he channeled in completely the wrong way - that it amazed and infuriated Garrett Volture in equal measure. He was exceedingly intelligent, good-looking, and fiercely loyal to the people who he cared about, but he just couldn't seem to find a path that didn't lead to either serving time or ending up in hospital. It was incredible how he had managed to live to the age he had considering his past misdemeanors. Theft, robbery, drug possession, grand theft auto, vandalism, handling a dangerous weapon; the list

went on and on, and the fact that he ran with one of the most dangerous and notorious gangs in New York wasn't even mentioned in that particular file. Garrett turned the final page and wrote the date at the top of the blank piece of paper before pressing record on the small digital voice recorder that was sitting between them. "Session sixty-four, Edward Cullen, inmate number 061901," Garrett began in a monotonous voice. "How are you today, Edward?" he asked, genuinely interested. "Peachy fucking keen," he replied, stubbing his cigarette out while lighting another. He was certainly feeling better after his smoke that was for damn certain. "Good," Garrett retorted, writing a small note on his page. It seemed that Edward was in a tranquil mood. Maybe the nicotine had helped after all. Garrett had never been one to bribe the other inmates he counseled, he never saw the need, but Edward had changed that. Garrett gave cigarettes and Edward talked. It was a silent agreement, but it was more than Garrett could ever have hoped for from the otherwise 'difficult' man. "So, your release date came through yesterday," he continued. "How are you feeling about that?" Cullen raised an incredulous eyebrow. He felt nothing. How the hell was he meant to feel? It wasn't like he'd never had a release date before. Come on, Garrett. You can do better than that Garrett rolled his eyes in acceptance of his stupid question and carried on. "Ok," he conceded. "I was in a meeting yesterday regarding your enrollment into a couple of classes here at the facility." Cullen rolled his eyes this time. If only the fuckers would leave his education alone. He was a smart guy. Unbeknownst to them, he read Shakespeare and listened to classical music. He didn't need a bunch of Harvard and Yale graduate fat cats telling him that he needed to study. He was a grown ass man for fuck's sake. The brain cells that he did have left after all the pot that he'd smoked and alcohol he'd drunk were in fine working order, and it pissed him off no end that the idiots didn't see it. He'd had six different tutors while he had been a guest at the King Court Juvenile Detention Centre when he was seventeen. Six. In four months. He smiled to himself. Maybe Garrett was right. Maybe he did have a problem with authority. Yeah, no fucking shit, he thought angrily - authority and tight faced English professors who preached about shit they knew nothing about "Edward, it's important that you do things to challenge yourself while you are in here." The only things he had challenged over the past nine months were the guards and Garrett's patience. Cullen blew the smoke he had just inhaled down his nose like a dragon, and licked his lips in agitation. Garrett noticed the change in him immediately and cursed himself inwardly; carrying on the conversation as if the atmosphere hadn't shifted to one with a palpable tension. "There are a few optionsEnglish literature, Philosophy, Sociology" He cleared his throat. "All led by fine, upstanding, intelligent tutors" Cullen watched as Garrett's hands twisted in on themselves slightly.

"Who?" Cullen asked carefully, praying to God that it wasn't the stupid bitch that had tried to tell him that, reading Dickens would help improve his character. He'd laughed in her face and then torn pages from 'Great Expectations,' throwing them with glee into the trash can. "My character is just fucking fine," he had told her as she grabbed her bags and stormed out of the room. She had been tutor number four. "Well," Garrett said, exhaling slightly with relief. "I explained to Mr. Newton and the other education specialists that you had hadproblems with the tutors that you had previously." Nicely put "But I assured the them all that you are much different than the seventeen year old high school drop out you use to be. Right?" Cullen didn't answer but simply cast a skeptical glance towards his councilor letting the 'drop-out' comment slide. Fucking great, Cullen thought to himself, I get rid of a century old Dickens lover only to be faced with a 'fine, upstanding' literary geek with thick-rimmed glasses and halitosis. He stopped himself. Actually that might be fun. He began to run images through his head of the torment he could bring to a person such as that. "How do you feel about this, Edward?" Garrett asked steepling his hands under his chin. "What would you like to study?" "Whatever," he shrugged noncommittally, silently tossing up the choice between Literature and Philosophy. "I just wish these sycophantic academics would leave me the fuck alone." Amen to that, Garrett thought to himself but raised his eyebrows and nodded gently in agreement. "It's all part of the conditions for the chance of early parole, Edward, you know that. No matter who your family is, you need to show progression in your rehabilitation, and if taking a couple of classes while you're here does that then you have to take it with both hands." Cullen did know that and it pissed him off. Court, detention centers, and prison were old news to him and, he had to admit, he was getting bored with the law institution as a damn whole. He wasn't thinking of reforming completely. Fuck that He was young and needed a good time, which usually meant that laws were broken, but he wanted his freedom for a bit longer than the twelve-month stretch between this incarceration and the last. Plus, he wanted to add to that list on Blondie's computer screen. "I want it longer than my Johnson," he had told his first ever councilor. He would just have to be more careful about how he did it. He thought briefly if terrorizing tutors was a misdemeanor or a felony. "You're father called me yesterday." Garrett's words not only broke the silence but fractured the tenuous grasp Cullen had on his patience after Garrett mentioned the first 'F-word' - family - he grit his teeth at the mere thought.There goes my good fucking mood, Garrett, ten points to you, asshole.

"And," he snarled. "What does he want, a fucking medal?" His leg began bouncing up and down under the table in earnest. He sucked on the cigarette hard, dragging the smoke into his lungs with a loud hiss. Garrett, noticed this, shook his head, and sighed. "He was calling to see how you were. He cares about you." "The only things that prick cares about, is his cock and the next place he'll get to stick it. He doesn't give a shit about me. Got it?" Cullen fumed, glaring daggers at Garrett and grabbing quickly at the pack of Camels while simultaneously throwing his old one in the ashtray, never bothering to stub it out. He knew it wasn't Garrett's fault. Hell, after the initial relationship testing that he put every new person through, which included name-calling, aggression, and general assholery on an epic scale, Garrett had proved to be a cool guy. Cullen would never tell him to his face, but he had a lot of time for him, and the time he had spent with him had been tolerable bordering on enjoyable. Still, the mention of his family and his father in the space of five fucking minutes, erased a lot of the cool he had allowed Garrett to establish. "Well," Garrett conceded. "He wanted to know if he could visit you on Monday." Cullen shook his head vigorously, "Jake's coming." "Edward-" "I said Jake's coming," he repeated through clenched teeth, noticing that the guard by the door had shifted his position slightly. Garrett sighed and pulled his glasses from his face slowly. "Edward, you don't need reminding that Jake is the main reason we know each other so well." He gestured with his hand at the space between them. "You need to be careful. He's notgood for you." That was putting it mildly. Jake Black was like a disease, infecting everyone around him with bitterness and anger Edward included. Garrett had tried to convince Edward of this repeatedly with very little effect. "And what the fuck would you know?" Cullen erupted, slamming his palm on the table, making the wood groan under the force. He hid his annoyance at the fact that Garrett never flinched. "You think because we've spent time 'talking' that you have the right to say shit like that?" "No," Garrett soothed in a calm tone, keeping his eyes firmly on Edward. "That's not what I think at all-" "Well, good," he interrupted, "because it doesn't." He lit another cigarette and took a long pull, staring at Garrett over the burning embers. "I know he's your best friend," Garrett said after a moment of tense silence. "Yeah," Cullen agreed with a sharp nod. "He is. So, keep your thoughts to your fucking self."

He was sick of Garrett's preachy shit about Jake. He really had no clue that it would take a fuck load more than a couple of lectures to make him turn his back on his boy. None whatsoever. The two of them had been through too much shit for some dick with a badge and a suit to change anything. Jake had always had his back and Cullen was damn sure he'd always have his. "Fair enough," Garrett said with a resigned nod. He didn't see the point in arguing when Edward was in a mood such as that, but he would keep trying to convince him of Jake's poison at another time, even if it fell on deaf ears. He placed his glasses back on his nose and picked up his pen writing quickly in the folder so that Edward couldn't see. His words were simple yet concise. 'He still hates the world.' =PoF= The world that Garrett spoke of was one that Isabella Swan found shadowed and oppressive. Even asleep, as she was that following Sunday night, the world around her seemed claustrophobic and riddled with doubt. Her small hands gripped the sheets of her double bed, twisting in desperation. Her eyes clenched and her jaw tightened as her head pressed into the soft pillows under it. Her spine was as straight as an arrow and flickered with electrical charges that made her feet shift in her sleep as she ran down a shadowed ally way. Stop. A small sob rose from her throat as she tossed and turned, trapped in a never-ending slide show of a night that happened nearly sixteen years before. "Please," she whispered into the darkness. She knew, however, even as she slept, that no one would come to help her, to save her from the four faceless men that chased her as she ran through wet sand towards her father; no one but the unknown, dark figure that held her and comforted her in the moonlight of her dreams. Isabella also knew that even if she opened her eyes that the pain would still be there, even if the visions were not. And that was the last thought that flooded her brain and her tear filled eyes, as she shot up into a sitting position, screaming, sweating, and breathless. She exhaled awkwardly through a rough throat and brushed the well-known tears away with the back of her hand, trying to calm her body by taking deep breaths. She gazed around at her bedroom. A place that should have been comforting and safe but, because of the darkness, made her feel even more alone than she did in the light of day. It had been a while since she had woken in such a way. At least two weeks, but the feeling that met her as she had opened her eyes to the blackness was still achingly familiar. She shook her head and cupped her hands to her face in annoyance. "Fuck," she muttered into her palms and clenched her eyes closed. Her doctor had told her not to stop taking her sleeping pills all at once and to, instead, lower the dose gradually. Isabella had dismissed her advice, determined to make it through one night without the aid of chemicals. It seemed her determination was wasted. She beat her fist down into the mattress and

groaned in frustration, leaning over towards her bedside table, flicking on the lamp. As much as she wanted it to, the light didn't help ease the panic, fear, and utter helplessness that her nightmares brought her. You're safe, her subconscious screamed. "I know," she whispered aloud, but even as she said the words, she knew that she would never ever feel truly safe from what she had experienced and her father would still be dead. With a defeated sigh, she lifted herself from her bed and wandered towards her en suite bathroom, flinching at the brightness of the lights. She glanced at her reflection in the mirror and frowned. She looked tired and drawn. With her index finger, she traced the dark circles under her right eye, and then her left, before running her hand through her hair that hung lank and dry at the sides of her thin face. Her mother had told her that she was too skinny, the last time they had met for lunch, but Isabella had once again dismissed her words as the usual mother talk. However, as she looked at herself more closely, she realized that she was looking too thin, maybe unhealthily so. Pushing that particular thought away for another day and a more reasonable hour, she opened the mirrored cabinet and pulled out the bottle of pills that she had been resolute in quitting. She didn't have a problem, she just wished for a night where she didn't have to depend on fucking medicine to help her sleep. And it wasn't even as if the pills helped all that much. They just simply numbed the pain making it slightly easier to rest. She smiled sardonically at the two blue capsules that landed in her open palm, and threw the bottle angrily back onto the shelf, slamming the mirrored door shut, hard enough to make it shake. She flicked the light off and made her way across her bare wood floor, back to bed. She had realized a long time ago that there was no bed big enough, no sleep deep enough with or without pills for her to escape her nightmares. They'd been imprinted on her, ingrained, part of who she was, and, try as she might, she knew she would never be rid of them. All the pills, therapy, and acceptance in the world would never erase the darkness and grief within her and, as a result, she had grown into a woman who was fiery, passionate, and strong-minded. It was, as her family and closest friends understood; a safe way of keeping other people at arm's length; hiding her despair and fear behind a quick wit and sharp tongue. She sipped from the water that she religiously kept by her bed and swallowed the pills down hard. It isn't real, she told herself silently. It had been nearly sixteen years ago - and now it was visions, smells and sounds that haunted her. She slumped back down against her feather pillows and sighed. Would it ever get better? Easier? She had no clue. All she did know and all that she had to focus on, since it happened, was the fact that the sun rising would mean a new day and with that new day surely, for Isabella Swan, it meant a new start. =PoF= "You didn't sleep last night, did you?" Jamie asked with a sigh as he placed the triple espresso in front of Isabella.

He didn't need her coffee order to know it; he could see the dark circles under her usually bright brown eyes. Her shoulders were slumped and she looked too damn skinny. She was still beautiful, but she looked like she needed a good meal. Isabella rolled her eyes at him and shrugged. "I tried," she replied, shaking the packet of Sweet N Low in between the index finger and thumb of her right hand. "Which means you didn't," he countered with a shake of his head as he sat, which made Isabella's stomach clench. She hated that he knew her so well. "Why didn't you call me?" he asked incredulously. He despised the idea of her being on her own before such an important day. He had offered to stay the night with her in the spare room, of course but she had told him it was unnecessary. He had bitten his tongue and said no more about it. As a result, his sleep had been disturbed and sporadic as he lay worrying about her. Isabella exhaled loudly. "Jamie, it was three in the morning. Why would I call you?" "Because I'm yourfriend and I care about you, especially with you taking this new job." He ended his sentence quietly, knowing that it was bound to cause a reaction from the woman sitting across from him. Isabella glared, just as he expected and bit the inside of her mouth. "Don't start," she warned. Jamie held his hands up in surrender. "Who's starting?" he offered with a small smirk, noting the spark behind the chocolate of her eyes. Isabella smirked back at his handsome face, making Jamie relax back into his seat. She stirred the thin wooden stick around in her cup leaning her elbows forward on the table between them. "This job" she started with a long breath after a comfortable silence. "Is important to you, I know," Jamie interrupted with a nod. "I justI want you to be safe, Bells." She flinched inwardly at the nickname that was synonymous with her father. Jamie had always used it too, ever since they were kids, but after her night of inescapable dreams, it was hard to hear in the light of day. "I will be," she murmured, feeling the ball of anxiety drop like a lead weight into her empty stomach. Jamie moved his hand and rested it on top of hers, wrapping his fingers so they rested in her palm. "Bells, you have a lot coming up in the next few months." Isabella took in a deep breath and dropped her eyes from her friend's to the cup in her free hand. "A new job, the hearingthe anniversary. I just" Jamie paused wanting nothing more than to tell her how he really felt, how that, after knowing her his whole life, he wanted to be with her in every way that he could be but the moment was not this one.

He would - as he had done for the past twenty years - wait for the perfect moment to tell Isabella Swan that he loved her. That he was in love with her. "Just know that I'm here, ok?" he pleaded, dropping his head so that he could catch her eye. I'll always be here, Bells Isabella tried to smile but she knew it came off as more as a grimace. She was aware that Jamie's feelings ran deeper than hers did for him, and she did, in truth, love him very much, but not in the way that he deserved. "I know," she whispered. "Thank you." She lifted her thumb and ran it over the top of his hand. "Thank you for everything." Her large brown eyes met his crystal blue ones. "You're welcome," he replied with a wink that made her smile more genuine. "Anything you need, you got it." He lifted their entwined hands and kissed the smooth skin of her knuckle. Isabella knew she shouldn't, and that it was totally unfair to her best friend, but she reveled in the feel of his touch. It was comforting, calming, and familiar, and she clung unashamedly to anything like that. "And good luck for today," he murmured through an anxious throat as he ran a hand through his short blonde hair. "You're gonna be great." He knew she would be. She was too determined to be anything but. She was her father's daughter after all. She smiled and nodded before releasing a long anxious breath. She hoped he was right because the truth was she was fucking terrified. Jamie knew this from the tension that he could see running through her jaw. To anyone else who didn't know her as well as he did, however, she looked utterly composed. It was a defensive trait, that she had down perfectly, but Jamie knew the signs well and it broke his heart. "Has your mom called?" he asked as he sipped his Cherry Mocha. He had a sweet tooth and didn't give a shit what people thought about it, embracing it wholeheartedly, even if Isabella did find it hilariously funny. Isabella rolled her eyes and sighed dramatically. "About four times last night alone," she answered. Jamie couldn't help but snigger. "She's worried, Bells. That's all. You know she means well." "Mmhm," Isabella replied, utterly unconvinced. She loved her mother but she was just about ready to change all her numbers and every lock in her house if she didn't ease off. "Between her, you, and Leah, my head is about ready to explode!" She cupped her temples jokingly and crossed her eyes making Jamie laugh louder. He couldn't help but feel relieved that she was joking on such a significant morning. This was the Isabella who made his heart soar the highest. "Well," he exhaled with a shake of his head. "My sister is a pain in the ass so just ignore her." He waved his hand dismissively and winked. Isabella laughed with him. She adored Leah too but she had to agree with him. She also 'meant well' but had been relentless with her texts and phone calls of concern over the past week, driving Isabella crazy.

"I told her I'll tell her all about it when I see her on Wednesday," she added, tracing her finger around the rim of her cup. "Tennis?" Jamie asked with a knowing glance. "Yeah," Isabella answered quickly with wide eyes. "It's war. The bitch kicked my ass last week!" "I heard," Jamie spluttered into his drink. Isabella narrowed her stare and threw a napkin at him. "Watch it, Damon," she warned quietly. Jamie pulled an invisible zipper across his mouth and smiled at her. The use of his surname was warning enough for him. He knew she was playing but he also knew of her temper and fuck if he was about to mess with it. She may have appeared small and delicate on the outside, but on the inside, there was a fire that, once stoked, could turn into a raging inferno. It had been dormant for years, with small flickers here and there, but nothing like it used to be. He had to admit to himself that he missed it. It was one of the things he loved most about her. "Come on," Isabella sighed, standing from her seat and breaking Jamie from his thoughts. "Let's get this show on the road." They finished their respective drinks as they always did every Monday morning, at the same coffee shop they had frequented since college, before making their way out and, after a brief kiss on the cheek, went their separate ways - he downtown and she towards her first day at her new job as English Literature tutor, at Arthur Kill Correctional Facility, Staten Island. Chapter 2: Decisions "Commit a crime, and the earth is made of glass."~ Ralph Waldo Emerson Isabella seated herself heavily into the driving seat of her Mini Cooper S outside the Belmont apartment building, where she lived, in the centre of Soho, and took a deep breath. She had decided to drive to her new place of work for the first couple of weeks to allow herself some quiet time. It would take at least an hour in traffic but that hour was, for her, a precious window of preparation and reflection, two things that she felt were vitally important in her dealing with her new job. She ran her palms around the steering wheel slowly before inserting the key in the ignition. She would be fine - she knew she would be - and dammit if she wasn't fucking determined to succeed. She understood Jamie's concerns, of course, as well as her mother'sand Leah's. She was going to be tutoring men who had committed crimes ranging from armed robbery to drug offenses to vandalism. But despite the words of caution from the people she loved, she knew, without doubt, that it was what she wanted to do. Deep inside her, a sworn promise itched at her soul and would not go away. It had been there for the better part of sixteen years. It had been there the day she graduated from high school and started college and was still prevalent the day that she graduated with her English Literature major. Her mother had been so proud.

Teaching was what Isabella had wanted to do since she was nine years old and she had loved every second of it. She had traveled to London and China, teaching in private, exceptional schools that made her fall in love with the job more and more. She made friends, experienced other cultures and built enriching relationships that would never be broken, but she knew, deep down, that the $2,000 a semester facilities that she worked in, was not abiding by the promise she had made. Yes, she was educating intelligent, hard working children but they were not the kind of individuals that she knew she was meant to help. "We have to give back, Bells," her father had said and so the choice was made. She had considered taking a job at an inner city school but again that option did not scratch the relentless itch. Working in a prison alongside criminals was what quelled it. She had to be nearer to her fears, closer to understanding them and coping better with them. She hated her fear; she hated the root of it and was prepared and ready to face it head on. She was terrified about what she would see and encounter and her therapist had been allsorts of anxious about her decision, asking over and over if she was happy with her choice, if she thought it was the right choice for her and why. Isabella answered as she always did with candor and passion. It was her choice to make - no one else's and whatever the outcome, she would live with it because she knew what it would have meant to her father. As with everything in Isabella's life, once the decision was made there was no going back. The only comfort she took from the route she had chosen for herself was that her father would no doubt be proud of her and that was the thought that accompanied her, along with the blaring rock music from her stereo, as she drove steadily towards Arthur Kill. The building was as she expected. Tall look out towers surrounded by wreaths of vicious barbed wire fencing, guards on patrol with dogs and an interrogation from the officer at the car lot entrance. "I'm Isabella Swan. I'm here for an appointment with Mike Newton," she said as the officer eyed her and the inside of her car with a suspicious glare. "ID and appointment sheet," he barked, making her jump slightly before rifling through her bag for her driving license and letter that she had printed off her computer that morning. She handed them both to the guard and sat back in her seat, feeling her palms sweat against the leather at the sides of her thighs. "One moment," he offered as he disappeared back into his little office hut to no doubt make a phone call. Isabella blew out a long breath through her lips and began playing an unidentifiable beat with her hands against the steering wheel. Breathe, Bells. Just breathe. He was back within two minutes, handing her back her license and sheet, directing her through the gates towards the left of the morose looking building, telling her that Mr. Newton would be waiting for her at the reception desk.

"Thank you," she murmured with a weak smile to which he simply dipped his hat. She drove through, glancing over to her left to see inmates playing basketball behind a huge metal fence, their blue overalls tied at the waist leaving some of them in white t-shirts and others barechested in the hot July sunshine. She couldn't help but notice how ordinary they looked as they played. She wasn't exactly sure what she had expected them to be doing or even what they would look like but the men she saw looked normal enough. She parked up, ran a nervous hand through her hair and picked up the black, leather bound case that Jamie had bought her for her first teaching job in London. She slid her cell out of the front pocket and smiled when she saw a text from him. You'll be great. Be safe. Call me later. J x She sent him a quick reply promising she would, flicked it on silent and got out of the car, locking it with a click of the fob. The walk to the front entrance seemed miles long, especially when she heard the distinct sound of wolf whistles and catcalls originating from the basketball court that she had found so standard. Yes, she thought, they were just regular men. She dropped her head slightly, hurried her step and grabbed the handle of the large door like a lifeline, practically falling through the damn thing. Cursing and pushing her hair back with a flustered hand, she was greeted by a small humored cough. She looked up to see Mike Newton, a man of about thirty-five, dressed in a grey pinstripe suit. His dark blonde hair was spiked within an inch of its life but his face was round and retained some of his youth, a fact that Newton was proud of, especially since he standing looking at the beautiful brunette who had just tripped through the door. "Miss Swan," he said as he extended his hand for her to take. Isabella tried to compose herself by running her free palm down her knee length charcoal skirt before shaking his hand firmly. Fucking heels "Mr. Newton." The firmness of her grip did not surprise Mike Newton. He knew whose daughter she was. The one thing that did surprise him however was the idea that a girl such as she, with all her opportunities, beauty and wealth, would want to work in place such as Arthur Kill. Her resume had been outstanding as had been the references that accompanied it. She was a good teacher, of that there was no doubt, but her lack of prison experience troubled him. She would have to prove herself and fast. Her looks, of course, could also be a problem. He had heard the reaction of the inmates as she walked across the lot. He did however agree with them unreservedly. He chanced another look at her long, pale legs and the black heels they disappeared into. She was a fine looking young woman. He had thought so from the first time they had met at her interview. After handing her an ID badge he led her towards his office and watched her as she took her seat quickly, opposite him across his desk. "So, you found us ok?" he asked trying to break the ice as he swiveled his chair around to look at her.

She smiled and nodded holding back the most obvious answer to his obvious question "Good." He cleared his throat and fingered the pen that was lying on the mahogany desk. Mike Newton wasn't one for small talk, even if the speaking partner was a hot brunette who - he couldn't help but imagine - would look insane spread out all over his desk. "So," he began, clearing his throat and shifting in his leather chair, trying like hell to ease the ache in his groin. "Today will be all about settling you in and showing you around, giving you a lay of the land and of course introducing you to the men that you will be tutoring." Isabella swallowed hard but hid it well. She pulled her BlackBerry from her case and began to make notes. Organization was of paramount importance to Isabella Swan. Jamie said that she was definitely OCD which, after disputing vehemently, she was beginning to agree with more and more. "The rules within the facility, as you know, for every tutor," Mr. Newton continued. "Is that there will be no more than six inmates in your classes at any one time. Any more than that and it poses a safety risk." He wondered if his words would have any effect on her but he saw none. Isabella disguised the panic within herself well. I'm fine, she repeated silently to herself. She had read and signed a contract that explained the security and safety aspects of the job; a contract that both her mother and Jamie had gone over with a fine toothcomb, much to her annoyance. "And as previously discussed, there will be a guard assigned to each of your classes; you will be given a security pass and a code for the doors that you will use most frequently." She nodded again and glanced from him to the window behind him, seeing fields and trees that wouldn't have looked out of place in a farm magazine. It seemed an odd paradox to her; the freedom and the incarceration. "Do you have any questions before I show you around?" he asked, steepling his hands under his chin, noticing her eyes wander past him to the outside. "I was wondering about the curriculum that I would be using," she answered as her gaze snapped back to his. "Are there any stipulations? Anything I should know about what I can teach and what I can't?" Mr. Newton shook his head. "I received your syllabus proposition and it appears to be fine." In fact, it was exceedingly impressive. "As previously discussed, the curriculum is yours to do with as you wish. As long as it sticks to the national structure and it meets the learning needs of everyone, I have no problem with what you do with them." "And what about the ability levels of theinmates?" She stumbled annoyingly over the last word of her question simply because she wasn't sure if it was the right word to use. She assumed it was, considering he had used it first. "I received the email with their ability records attached but I was wondering if there had been any changes?"

"Not so far," he answered with a shake of his head. "There is always the chance of a late entry into any class but so far the records, for yours, are still the same. I'll obviously let you know if and when that alters in any way." Isabella was relieved, as she had worked tirelessly on her original curriculum to make sure the levels of her students were met. She was meticulous in her work and it was one of the main reasons she had been hired so quickly. "Anything else?" he asked with a small smile. "No, I don't think so," she answered with a shake of her head. "You'll do fine, Miss Swan. I know this must seem very daunting to you but believe me, we wouldn't have hired you if we had any doubts." She appreciated his confidence and allowed herself to take a deep calming breath. Mr. Newton slapped his hands to his thighs before standing up and gesturing for Isabella to walk towards the door. "Shall we?" he asked with a smile. She nodded and made her way out into the corridor. She followed him once again, taking in the sterile walls, thick security glass doors and bars that reminded her constantly of where she was. She had never been more appreciative of air conditioning as she was when they left the sweltering hallway and made their way into a large room that was set out like a normal school staff room. Tables, chairs and a coffee percolator were all in attendance, as well as some banal, old style magazines and newspapers. "You can use this room to plan, chill, vent, whatever," Mr. Newton joked as he pushed his hands into his pants pockets. "All the other tutors do, so feel free to join them." A small, black haired girl with dark rimmed glasses approached them with a wide smile from across the room. "This is Angela Weber," Mr. Newton said while gesturing between the two. "Angela, this is Isabella Swan, the new Lit tutor." "A pleasure," Angela smiled as she shook Isabella's hand. "Likewise," she replied honestly, taking in the comfortable shoes, baggy pants and Henley shirt that Angela wore. "Angela is one of our tutor assistants, specializing in Special Educational Needs with focus on English and Philosophy and she'll be able to answer any questions that you have about your inmates. She'll also be present for all your classes to aid you in anyway she can." "That's great," Isabella said with a breath of relief. "I appreciate any help you can give me." "Well, I can't promise all the answers but I will do my best to make this easier for you and for the students." Angela had always been modest. She was exceedingly good at her job for the simple reason that she spoke to the inmates as people and not animals like Mike Newton did. As good as he was at his job; his megalomaniacal streak irritated the shit out of her.

Because of her attitude the inmates gravitated to her. Newton found it almost ridiculous that she waxed lyrical about respect and reform but he couldn't deny that she made his life a damn sight easier, helping him out of a couple of heated moments with certain incarcerated individuals who had found his arrogance as fuck annoying as she did. Isabella was still standing before Angela, surprised at her use of the word students when Mr. Newton had used the word inmates every time they had spoken of the men she would tutor. Angela's attitude to the job was noticeably different to his and Isabella found herself liking it. If it was one thing that concerned her most about the job, it was seeing the inmates as people and not the beast like fuckers that a dark, furious part of her wanted to. These men aren't the same, she told herself, replaying the words of her therapist. They weren't the men she hated. They weren't there that night. She couldn't allow herself to tar them with the same brush. Yes, they had committed their crimes but they were paying for them. They were paying their debts, just as she was. They aren't the same she repeated silently. She knew better than that. It would just take time. Mr. Newton and Angela showed her more of the facility, including her classroom that was a one windowed, two-door, space that Isabella noticed had a panic line running around every wall. There was an interactive board but no computer. She had been told that she could use her laptop whenever she needed and that 'tech' would hook her up on request. "So, as I'm sure Mike has explained, I've set up a meet with the students that you will be tutoring," Angela said softly as they walked down another colorless corridor towards a large security door. "Yes," Isabella replied as she followed them both through it. "I think it's a good idea to make introductions, just so the students aren't taken off guard by a new face. Routine is paramount to these men. That's all they have while they are here and sometimes a new face can be upsetting for them." Isabella took another breath that shook out of her when Angela's hand touched her forearm. "You'll be fine. They'll like you, I can tell already. And believe me; the guys in your class are great. I helped with the list. I wouldn't give you any assholes." She laughed lightly making Isabella relax further. "Ok," she murmured as she tucked her hair behind her ears. "Just be yourself. They can smell bullshit a mile off." Isabella suppressed a laugh as Angela's eyes flickered towards Mr. Newton as the word bullshit passed her lips. Yes, she thought, she and Angela were going to get along just fine. They seated themselves at one side of a large, white plastic table upon which Angela placed four folders, each with a name tag and a number.

"These are your students," she said happily. "All of them are serving different sentences for crimes ranging from armed robbery, drug abuse violations, grand theft auto, burglary, and vandalism." She pointed at a folder every time she mentioned an offense. Isabella recognized the names from the class list she had been emailed and found she was immediately anxious to read what their folders had to say about them. "Our first meet should be here any minute." Angela glanced at her watch as the door opened and Isabella was faced with the largest man she had ever seen. He was at least six-five with shoulders that would put Atlas to shame. Upon his head was a mass of curls that framed a cherubic face that wouldn't look out of place on a five year old. His chest was wide and solid, and the cuffs around his wrists, Isabella thought, looked utterly futile and pathetic should he show the strength that was no doubt present in his mammoth arms. Angela stood and smiled at the giant. "Emmett," she said warmly as the guard at Emmett's side ushered him to his seat and un-cuffed him. "What's up, Angie Pange?" he retorted, offering his fist for her to bump which she did with gusto. "Same old, same old," she replied with a shrug, "Can't complain." "Can't or won't," he asked with a wink. Isabella couldn't help but notice Mr. Newton's eye roll at the exchange but found she smiled in spite of it. Emmett threw a narrowed eyed stare at Newton, who shifted slightly in his seat. Yeah, motherfucker, Emmett thought to himself, you pussy assed bitch. "S'up, Newt?" he asked with a backward tilt of his head, noticing that the expensive suit had been brought out for a Summer airing. "Nice pinstripe." "Thank you, Emmett," he replied in a flat monotone, wrapped up in a forced smile. His face belied the annoyance and aggravation he held for inmate 091324. He was a cocky son of a bitch and Newton hated that he was afraid of him, but Christ, he was a big fucker. "And who the fuck is this delicious specimen?" Emmett asked with a wink in Isabella's direction. His eyes roamed up and down her but weirdly she didn't feel uncomfortable. Something about the sparkle in his eye made her believe that it was his way of introducing himself. There was no malice in his eyes, only light and mischief. "Emmett," Angela warned with a small smirk on her lips. "What?" he asked with a face so innocent that Isabella couldn't help but smile. "This is your new Literature tutor Miss Swan. Miss Swan, this is Emmett McCarty." "The one and only, baby," he finished for her while nodding and smiling at Isabella. He noticed a slight blush on her cheeks and grinned. Oh, she's a cutey

"So, you teach, huh?" Isabella cleared her throat. "I do," she answered. "Well, that's fucking excellent. I thought all you tutor types had to be, ya know," he shrugged with a sniff, "fugly bastards with buck teeth?" Isabella laughed lightly and pressed her hands to her thighs. "I'm not so sure about that," she offered. "I do," he answered quickly. "But you" he whistled. "I think Lit just became my fave fucking subject. Nice goin' Newt!" "Emmett," he warned from under his brow. "Pssshhh," Emmett replied with a wave of his palm and nothing else in Newton's direction. "So, Miss Swan" He leaned his elbows onto the table between them. "Seeing as you just became my fave tutor of my new fave subject, you need anything or anyone gives you shit," he pointed to his large chest. "You come to me, ok?" Isabella paused, taking in the expression on his face for any indication that he was bullshitting her. She saw none. "Ok," she smiled back at him, ignoring Mr. Newton's exasperated exhale and the overwhelming urge he had to suddenly crush the bastard's wind pipe with his boot. "Sweet," he replied with a nod and a slap of his palm on the table, before sitting back in his seat. She was cool. Angela smiled at him and winked knowingly. If Ange vouched for her then, he knew, Miss Swan had to be golden, it was just a shame that all the other supposed intelligent tutors weren't as such. Emmett McCarty had a lot of patience - considering his size and criminal history - but if it was one thing that grated on his damn nerves; one thing that made his fists clench and his teeth grind, it was snobby, arrogant people. Mike Newton was a case in fucking point. He hated that asshole, as did pretty much every fucker in the facility. He glanced at the smarmy fuck one last time and rejoiced inwardly when he saw him drop his eyes from his quickly. That's right bitch. Who's Papa Bear? Emmett was and Newton knew it. Emmett stayed for no more than five minutes after the initial introduction and once he was escorted out, Angela went on to explain that he was serving time for grand theft auto. "He loves his cars," she said with a small smile. "He's extremely intelligent when it comes to machines but struggles with dyslexia. He tries hard but gets frustrated but I think, being his new 'fave tutor,' you shouldn't have any problems." Isabella smiled and made a note on her class list about Emmett's needs. Angela handed her a piece of his work so that she could see his ability for herself before the next student came in.

His name was Sam Uley and was serving time for drug violations. He was a small, quiet character of about twenty-one; the complete polar opposite of the giant who had just left but he seemed pleasant enough. He said very little but his eyes spoke volumes. His dark russet skin was flawless and his hair hung shoulder length behind his ears. He was polite and smiled meekly at Isabella every time she spoke to him. She reminded him of his girl back home and he knew instantly that he was going to like being in her class. "Do you like to poetry, Miss Swan?" he asked her gently as he fingered the middle popper button of his overalls. I expect she likes Dickinson and Rossetti, he mused silently. Isabella smiled and nodded. "I do. Very much," she answered. "Do you?" Sam smiled wistfully, "Very much. 'Beauty be not caused - It is'" Isabella smiled wider. "You like Emily Dickinson?" Sam nodded and felt his cheeks burn. "I do." "Me too," Isabella confessed. "She's one of my favorites." She breathed, glancing down at the table before looking back at Sam who seemed to be silently congratulating himself about something. "'Hope is the thing with feathers,'" she murmured softly, feeling the tightening in her chest at the words of a poem that her father loved. "'That perches in the soul,'" Sam uttered without hesitation. "'And sings the tune without the words'" Isabella continued. "'And never stopsat all.'" Sam glanced up at her and smiled again. The twinkle in his eye covered his entire pupil. Isabella laughed lightly. "Well, Sam, let's hope so." "Yes, Miss Swan," he agreed. His smile was wider and his step was a lot lighter as he left the room. "Sam is actually an English graduate," Angela said once he had left. Isabella gaped at her even though her words did not really surprise her. "What is he doing in my class?" she asked in panic. Angela smiled and waved her off. "He loves to write and he's exceptionally good at it. But he doesn't like the other students to know so, keep it to yourself. Other tutors in the past have struggled to get him to open up. That's the most I've heard Sam say in a long time." She winked at Isabella and moved to the next folder. Quil Embry was twenty-three and was serving time for burglary. He was definitely a cocky little shit and he didn't hold back his asshole charm from Isabella, telling her he'd make sure he dropped his pen on the floor just for her. Isabella wasn't sure what he had meant until she saw him checking out her ass as she leaned over to retrieve a new pen from her case.

She would have to keep an eye on him. Maybe Emmett could help her out. She smiled to herself. They were two minutes into talking to Tyler Crowley, Isabella's final student, when a flustered looking guard entered the room. "I'm sorry to interrupt, Mr. Newton," he said, a little out of breath. "But we have a situation in study room forty-three." He pointed over his shoulder with his thumb. "Who?" Newton asked as he rose from his seat. "Cullen," the guard replied with an exasperated sigh. "Fuck's sake," Newton murmured. He didn't need that little shit causing him problems today. He threw a daggered glare at Crowley who had begun laughing quietly into his chest. "I'll be back," he said to Isabella and Angela who smiled knowingly at the expression on Newton's face. "Take your time," Angela answered, not looking up from the file in front of her but unable to keep the smug smile from her face. Newton huffed and followed the guard out into the corridor. Isabella looked between Angela and Tyler as they continued to snigger and chuckle. "Cullen?" Isabella asked quietly with a cocked eyebrow. Tyler Crowley snorted loudly into his hand. "She ain't met Cullen yet?" he asked Angela incredulously while pointing a thumb in Isabella's direction. "Oh, I'm sure she will," she replied with a wink, leaving Isabella three parts alarmed, confused and utterly intrigued. =PoF= Cullen was sitting in the seat that he had been shoved in twenty minutes before, leg bouncing earnestly while biting the inside of his bottom lip. His head throbbed with the blood that pounded through it mixed with the adrenaline that gave him a natural high. He glared at the guard who was standing by the door with his arms crossed over his chest. "What the fuck are you looking at?" he snarled at him. Guard Casto shrugged and raised one eyebrow. Punk Ass dick, he thought to himself, always fucking drama with this kid. I'm getting too old for this shit. He sighed in relief when the door opened, allowing Newton and Head Guard Yorkie into the room. "Fucking A," Cullen grumbled to himself. Just let that Newton asshole say something to me today. He'll be breathing through his right nut if he so much as looks at me wrong.

Newton placed his hands on his hips and exhaled. "What's going on, Cullen?" he asked after a moment in as calm a tone as he could manage. He knew from their pastmeetings that he was an erratic fucker who had a temper that could boil water. "Fuck all," he replied with a smirk. His leg became still and his whole demeanor changed to one of dangerous quiet. Newton eyed him nervously. Shit "Cullen, Guard Foster says that you assaulted your Philosophy tutor," Yorkie interrupted. Yeah, he fucking would have said that "I didn't assault him," Edward snapped. "I didn't touch the fucking idiot." "He begs to differ," Yorkie retorted. "He can beg all he fucking wants. I didn't touch him!" Newton sighed, holding a hand up to Yorkie to stop him from biting back and pulled out the chair opposite Cullen so he could sit down. "Look, Cullen, just explain to me what happened." He leaned forwards, resting his elbows on his knees. Cullen moaned in annoyance and rolled his eyes at his attempts at coercion. He remained quiet for a couple of minutes before giving in to the deafening silence and expectation that filled the room. "He was spouting a fuck load of shit about society and some of its 'individuals.'" He highlighted his disdain by motioning quotation marks with his fingers. "And he pissed me off. I said I wanted to leave and he said I couldn't." "And," Newton encouraged, even though he knew exactly what had gone on from seeing the video clip of the confrontation. "So, I pushed my chair at him." Cullen shrugged, staring Newton down - daring him to say something cocky and self righteous. This was what it was like every time the two men were in a room together. Cullen would stare and Newton would stare right back. It was a test of wills, they both knew, but Cullen felt safe in the knowledge that he had won each encounter they had had so far and would fucking win this one too. Newton was a prick - everyone thought so - and Cullen despised the fact that the cunt thought he was better than everyone else because he wore a fancy pinstripe suit. But as a wise man once said; a suit does not a man make. Newton sat back in his seat and leaned his forearm on the table next to him, keeping his eyes firmly on Cullen's, even though he was desperate to look away. But like a snake and his prey his eyes were fixed. He wasn't entirely sure which part he would play in that scenario.

What Cullen had described was exactly what he had seen on the security video clip which Yorkie hadn't. He hadn't assaulted Mr. Banner but he hadn't simply 'pushed' the chair either. The dent in the wall would vouch for that shit. "Cullen," he sighed, dropping his eyes from the white hot stare across the table. "You can't keep behaving this way just because you disagree with what your tutor says." He was sick to the back teeth of the little fucker acting like a petulant teenager whenever someone said something he didn't agree with. "I have a right to say how I feel," Cullen retorted. "Yes, you do," Newton agreed even though the words tasted like ass on his tongue. If he had his way the whole lot of them would be gagged and tied to the chairs just so his life was made easier. "But you can't throw chairs at people either. There are rules. You know this." "Whatever," Cullen mumbled, kicking the leg of the table. Newton dropped his voice and eyed Cullen once more. "Garrett assured me that you were going to behave. That is one condition of you doing these classes that I will not back down on." He pointed at Cullen and immediately regretted it. Cullen's eyes met Newton's in such a way that Newton couldn't help but swallow hard. There was so much fire behind the green of them that he almost expected to be fried on the spot. "Well, that's one thing we have in common, isn't it?" Cullen growled. "Neither of us backs down for shit." Newton cleared his throat and exhaled down his nose. Shitkicker. His fear annoyed the hell out of him. He was older than him and wiser too. There was no reason to fear him. He sighed and dropped his head to the right in an utterly patronizing way, fighting back the only way he knew how. Hit the fucker where it hurt. "You will be escorted back to your cell where you will be kept for the next twenty four hours. No exceptions." "I have a friend visit this afternoon," Cullen warned him, feeling his blood start to boil when he saw the look of satisfaction that crossed Newton's face. "And it will be rescheduled," Newton retorted. The chains that held Cullen's hands and the guards around him were certainly tested as he lunged at Newton to smack the shit out of his smug bitch face. He got close too, his finger tips whispering across the lapel of the expensive pinstripe. Newton stumbled back against Yorkie, feeling the panic build in his chest. "You fuck!" Cullen yelled as the guards restrained him back in his seat. He got one visit a week and it had been three since his last one, from his cousin Jasper, which was strained to say the very fucking least. It stung and Newton fucking knew it. He hadn't seen Jake for two months and although he would never admit it, he needed to see a familiar face.

He had been looking forward to seeing his friend and finding out what shit he had been up to, and that he was still looking after his 'baby'. Jake was the only motherfucker on the planet that Cullen would let near the 'love of his life.' He gave up his struggle, knowing that it was fruitless and that it was simply wasting energy that he didn't have and slumped into his seat never taking his eyes from Mike Newton as he slunk like a coward from the room. It's on fucker =PoF= Isabella picked up her cell and pressed the green button with a smile. "Hey," she sang down the receiver as she pressed the lock on the key fob for her car. "Hey you, how did it go?" Jamie asked as he climbed the steps of the subway. "It wentreally good. I think," she replied with a small smile. She had to admit to herself that she felt a hundred times better now that she had met her students and had made an ally in Angela. "That's great," he answered as he stood at the edge of the kerb, trying to flag a damn cab. "Look I'm not far from you and it's been a hell of a day. How about dinner? My treat and you can tell me all about it." "Sure," she answered as she climbed into the elevator of her building. "Come over and we'll order in. Is that ok?" "I'll be there in ten," Jamie said with a smile. Isabella had time to change into sweats, put her hair up and have a cup of Chinese herbal tea before Jamie arrived at her door with pizza. She smiled at his choice of cheese and tomato with added onion her favorite. They situated themselves on her chocolate leather couch in front of the TV and ate comfortably. "So," Jamie encouraged as he took a sip of his beer. "Tell me. You said it went well?" Isabella nodded and tucked her legs underneath herself. "Yeah, it did. My new boss iswhatever but I met my assistant Angela who seems great. She introduced me to all my students and they all appeared to be fine. There is one guy Emmett who was veryfriendly." She couldn't help but smile to herself as she thought of the giant who was probably her 'fave' student already next to Sam. Jamie felt his stomach tighten slightly at her use of the word friendly - hoping to fuck that it wasn't a euphemism for something else - but was puzzled to shit that she then smiled. "What do you mean friendly?" he asked quietly as he shifted in his seat so he could face her. "He was justfriendly. He's in for grand theft auto and is apparently a genius when it comes to all types of machines. He has dyslexia and he's definitely a character." "Right," Jamie said still confused. "So, there was no trouble, no problems?"

"No," she shook her head as she sipped her wine. "Well, apart from Quil who I'm sure will try to be a handful but he's harmless - all mouth. And there was a situation with a guy named Cullen." Isabella felt herself relax as she spoke about her students feeling more and more confident about the day and her upcoming first week. Emmett was definitely going to be interesting and Sam Uleyshe reminded herself quietly to take him her Emily Dickinson anthology to read. "Who?" Jamie asked trying hard to keep the concern from his voice as all the names she rhymed off started to fumble in his head. She didn't answer. "Bells, what did this Quil say?" he asked quickly. Isabella looked at him in surprise, losing herself in her thoughts as she was known to do. "Nothing, really, I think he has a thing for asses," she answered with a smirk and a roll of her eyes. Oh, fucking does he? "Is that right?" Jamie grumbled into the neck of his beer bottle. "Yeah," she retorted, noticing his protective expression. "He's just young and cocky." "And there was asituation?" Isabella shrugged. "I'm not sure what happened but Mr. Newton had to leave to go and deal with it and he did not look happy. Angela said I would meet 'Cullen' soon enough, whatever the hell that means." Jamie returned her smile but couldn't seem to swallow down the lump of anxiety that had suddenly wedged itself firmly into his stomach. He was worried. He couldn't fucking help it. He loved Isabella and hated to think of her in any risky situation. He knew that he was being possessive and stupid to think that she wouldn't be protected from the fuckers behind bars but he still felt utterly stressed out. "Hey," she said suddenly when she noticed the frown that had appeared gradually above Jamie's eyes. He looked at her in surprise. "Stop it," she ordered, dropping her chin to her chest while still looking at him. "Stop what?" he asked innocently. "Stop thinking whatever it is that you're thinking." He exhaled and grimaced, pulling his tie from around his neck and throwing it over the back of the couch, "Bells-" "No," she interrupted him. "Shit, Jay, I thought we'd gotten past this." She slapped her palm to her leg in frustration. "I know," he breathed, dropping his head in shame. He needed to have more faith in her, he knew. "It's just"

"Just what?" she interrupted again; her eyes wide in annoyance while the fire licked at her irises. Shit, she is definitely mad. "You're worried?" she continued rhetorically. "I know you are but I was fine. I am fine. I'm actually the most fine I've felt in a while." "I know but" "I felt like I actually achieved something today, Jamie," she confessed quietly. "There was one studentSam who quoted fucking Dickinson at me. The Hope poem, Jay, like he had it written there right in front of him" she exhaled and dropped further back into her seat. That stopped him in his tracks. Charles loved that poem. He looked at her face and breathed in deeply. Dammit she is beautiful. She dropped her eyes from his almost as if she could read his mind and shifted back in her seat. He copied the movement, moving towards her, placing his beer on the table in front of them. "Talk to me," he urged, suddenly feeling like a shit friend. She didn't answer and instead sipped from her wine glass. "Isabella, please," he begged, moving closer still. "I'm sorry for being a dick. I really am but I," he paused when her eyes met his. "I care for you and I want you to be safe. That's all. I'm thrilled that you did well, and that you enjoyed it, truly I am. But don't get mad at me for worrying about my best friend." She dropped her shoulders in defeat at his words and smiled meekly at him. "I'm not mad, Jamie. And I love that you care so much. I care about you too." His heart stuttered at her words. "But I'm doing this," she whispered determinedly. "I have to. I made a promise. You know that." He did know. She had told him about it the morning they woke up in bed together when they were seventeen. He swallowed at the memory pushing his desires down into his stomach, praying they wouldn't get as far as his cock. It was the first time they had slept together but it wasn't the last, although they never spoke about it ever. It hurt but he didn't push her. He was there when she needed him, as he had promised and it had been left at that. "I'm doing this for him too," she sighed. "I owe it to him." She never said her father's name or even used the term Dad. It still upset her too much. Jamie tried to understand the debt that she seemed to feel that she owed him and he supported her as much as he could but fuck if she hadn't made it hard with this decision. He placed his hand on her knee and squeezed gently. "You took a big step today, Bells, I know he'd be proud of you." She nodded with her eyes on his hand. "Yeah," she croaked. "I hope so." "Come here," he said softly, opening his arms for her.

She hesitated for a moment before snuggling into his side and reveling in his warmth as he wrapped himself around her, kissing her hair softly. She loved him very much and appreciated his protectiveness more than she dared to admit, but theirs was a strange relationship. They had been through a lot together but had never taken the step to actually be together exclusively - not that both of their mothers wouldn't fucking love that idea. He was her Jamie, he was tender, soft and caring and that, for now, was enough She knew she was a selfish bitch but she couldn't help it. She needed him and she knew that he needed her too and as long as that was fact, nothing would change. Other things in her life were changing and she hoped that he would stick with her through them. It was going to be a difficult transition into her new job and she'd need him more than ever. Jamie rubbed his palm down her bare arm, trying to relax her. He loved the feel of having her so near to him, even if it did make him a masochistic son of a bitch. He couldn't help it. The feel of her warmth, her skin, and her smell made him feel whole. She was his best friend and the woman that he had loved since he was twelve and they had shared their first kiss together. He would have to be supportive of her choice because the thought of the alternative terrified him. He couldn't be without her. He had lived as her best friend, part time lover and confidante but never anything more. It was a difficult balancing act but he was used to it. Isabella had demons that kept her walls up and, even though he knew she told him everything, the wall around her heart never relented for him. She just wouldn't let him in like that. He had resigned himself to the chance that the walls would never crumble and as hard as that was to accept he also knew that he would much rather have her snuggled into his side with her walls up than not in his life at all. =PoF= Cullen lay on his back, hands behind his head, staring at the cracks that ran down the centre of the ceiling above his cell. He had calmed down since watching Newton strut his cocky bitch ass out of the room after telling him he couldn't have his friend visit. He would bide his time. Newton would pay for today - of that, Cullen was damn certain. The sounds of B wing had ebbed in the last twenty minutes since the lights had been dimmed and, as he did every night, he allowed himself to drift back in time to memories that were a fuckton better than the present and the place he was now stuck in. He closed his eyes and sighed as he thought back to nights out with Jake and his crew, laughing and causing trouble around the streets of New York, cruising down to Brooklyn and the Bronx. The taste of beer in Battery Park, and the smooth sensation of cigarette smoke as it drifted down his throat. The feeling of having a woman in his arms, moving, grinding, warm, soft, wet, and smelling like.sweet fruit. Fuck, it had been so long. He shifted his hips at the thought. "Peaches," he whispered to himself as the visions appeared behind his closed eyelids. Dark wavy hair that smelled of peaches, warm and fresh under his nose, in his face, all around him. He saved that particular memory for nights, such as this one - in a darkness that seemed to last forever - because he knew - as he had for nearly sixteen years - the thought of peaches, chocolate hair, and blue dresses, never failed to send him into a relaxed, dreamless sleep.

Chapter 3: Introductions "Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending." ~ Maria Robinson Cullen woke having slept soundly; a fact that surprised him. He had, he thought, maybe worn himself out with all his plotting against Mike fucking Newton. He had smiled to himself, as he took his morning piss, about all the things he'd love to do to the motherfucker. The shit head really had no idea who he was messing with. He was to stay in his cell until four two fucking hours to go - which was when his twenty-four hour punishment was over. Garrett had been to see him earlier with a rescheduled friend visit for Jake and a disappointed look on his face, which made Cullen's insides clench. Garrett had hated rearranging the meeting, knowing that Jake Black was no good for Edward - but he did it anyway. The phone call to one Carlisle Cullen had been the kicker however. Even though Carlisle's words had been accepting of his son's rejection, the tone in his voice told Garrett a completely different story. He was devastated, it was clear and, being a father himself, it infuriated Garrett that Edward couldn't see it; instead seeing his father as someone other, than a man that cared deeply for his son and his well being. Carlisle Cullen hadn't seen his only child for over a year and it tore him to pieces. Edward and he had always had a tenuous relationship. They were far too alike and Edward blamed him for things that he never allowed Carlisle to explain fully. He was too hot headed like his damned mother and it was with that comment and a slammed door that Carlisle had left his son's apartment fifteen months before, without another word, hearing about his most recent arrest through a neighbour. Part of him understood why Edward hated him so much - he was damn sure not going to win any father of the year awards - but he still hoped for some kind of reconciliation and that's exactly what he told Garrett. Garrett had tried to be as reassuring as he could be but he knew he was talking complete shit. Edward only wanted to see Jake. Garrett knew, even if Edward didn't say it, that he missed his friend and Garrett wanted to do all he could to help him. He was fond of the kid and hated seeing him so morose. He had, in their more recent meetings, tried to dial back on the more invasive questions into Edward's thoughts about his father and the rest of his family but, like the stubborn fool he was, he wasn't going to stop completely. Cullen had - as much as he tried to deny it - appreciated Garrett's gesture, given how he had been so fucking verbose about his thoughts on Jake and once again he kicked himself for acting like an asshole with his councillor. He just couldn't seem to switch his cocky shit mouth off. "So, I take it we don't like Philosophy?" Garrett had said with a small smirk. Cullen smirked back. "You could say that." Garrett nodded towards his shoes and rubbed the back of his neck. "Thanks for the shit storm from Mike Newton, by the way. I owe you big time for that." Newton had barged into his office, the day before, acting like King Dick and demanding that Garrett speak to Cullen and warn him that he was walking on thin ice.

"It's your job to talk to him about shit like this," he had yelled with an accusatory finger in his direction. "So do your job and talk to him! He can't keep behaving like this; I don't give a fuck who his connections are!" It had taken all of the calming exercises that Garrett had learned in his twenty-plus years as a councillor to stop himself from grabbing the prick and smashing his face into the desk between them. "I'll see what I can do," he had growled back, clenching the arms of his chair, wishing to all hell that it was Newton's neck. He had stormed back out of the office, muttering something about agoddamn incident report before slamming the door behind him so hard that it made the pictures of Garrett's wife and daughter shake across the wall. "Cock," Garrett murmured under his breath at the memory. "About that," Cullen mumbled, feeling like just that for causing the trouble that Garrett found himself in because of his behaviour, "My bad." It wasn't a full apology but fuck if that was the closest Garrett would get from Edward Cullen. "Yes, it is," Garrett agreed with a nod before slapping his hands to his hips. "Jeez, Edward, you're better than that." Cullen sighed despondently and pulled his knees up to his chest as he remained sitting on his bed. "The guy was talking shit, Garrett. He deserved it." "Well, whatever your reasons, you have a lot of making up to do." "Oh yeah?" Cullen asked raising an eyebrow at his councillor. "Yeah," Garrett answered back quickly, not in the mood for his assholery. "I've enrolled you for Literature. I know you like to read." He gestured to the shelves on the right wall of the cell that were littered with battered copies of texts even he hadn't heard of. "And the tutor is a woman so...maybe there won't be as much...hostility." "Hostility?" Cullen repeated with a small smile. "You know what I mean, Edward," Garrett snapped back. "You promised you'd try, so prove to me you are. I had to kiss that son of a ..." he bit his tongue and glanced around himself quickly. "I had to speak nice to Newton to let him give you another chance so don't tell me I've wasted my time here." Cullen sighed and sat forward, running his hands through the chaos on his head. It was a sign of stress that Garrett rarely saw and it concerned him. He watched the young man for a moment, wanting so much to see what was going on inside his complex head. For all of his showboating, Edward Cullen did have chinks in his armour. They weren't shown often but when they were it was uncomfortable for all involved. "You'll do fine, Edward," Garrett said quietly, moving a step closer towards him on the bed. The guard behind him shifted too. "Yeah," Cullen muttered, into his chest. He looked up and smiled slightly. "We'll see, won't we?"

He couldn't explain it not that he wanted to - but even after his long ass sleep he was still feeling tired. The walls had started to close around him ever so slightly and it was making his head feel heavy. Nineteen hours locked in one room could do that to a man even him. "Wednesday morning," Garrett said with an encouraging nod. "The tutor is a Miss Swan. She's very good. We won't have time for a meet with her sotry to be" He struggled to find the right word. "Just try, ok?" Cullen laughed with an exhale hard down his nose and nodded. "Ok," he mimicked, holding up three fingers, "Scout's honour." Garrett smirked at the gesture as he turned to leave the cell. "And just to be safe," he muttered with a quick look back over his shoulder towards Cullen. "I've made sure all the chairs in that particular classroom have been bolted to the fucking floor." Cullen couldn't help but laugh loudly at his councillor's language. He had only ever heard Garrett curse once before and that was when Cullen's fist had connected with his jaw during one of their first sessions. "Good thinking, G," he had called after him, before the guard shut the door of his cell, leaving him alone once again. =PoF= The final two hours of his punishment crept by at a snail's pace with Cullen almost knocking the guard the fuck off his feet when he finally opened the cell to let him out. He stretched his arms back and cracked his neck loudly as he walked quickly towards the yard where he knew everyone would be chilling, as they did every Tuesday afternoon, before and after dinner. He stepped out into the burning sun, blinking erratically as his eyes got used to the brightness. "Son of a bitch," he muttered as he rubbed his face. "Yo, Cullen!" The booming voice came from across the basketball court and Cullen found himself smiling at as it ricocheted relentlessly around him. "McCarty," he answered as he wandered towards the giant man who had called him. Emmett was sweating like a bitch in heat after playing basketball for the past hour, revelling in the burn through his body that happened when he elbowed, shoved and cursed at the other fuckers on the court. It was as close as he could get to the rush of adrenaline that he missed so much when he boosted a 'sexy lady' with an eight litre engine and leather seats. "Where ya been fucker?" McCarty asked with a wide smile and a slap against Cullen's shoulder that made him wobble on his feet. "I've missed your punk ass face." "Give me a smoke and I'll tell you all about it," Cullen answered with a smirk, wincing internally at the force at which his hand had connected with him. Fucking Emmett...

Emmett pulled a cigarette from his pocket and flicked Cullen a match as they made their way across to a small seating area at the back of the court. "Move!" Emmett barked at the two men who were already seated. Cullen snorted as he watched the two pussies scatter like leaves at the sound of Emmett's voice. He sat down as soon as they vacated the bench and slumped, closing his eyes slowly as the sun beat down on him and the smoke whispered from between his lips. "So, what gives? You been busy jerking off since yesterday?" Emmett laughed and lit his own cigarette, moaning as he breathed the smoke in. "If only," Cullen replied as he watched the basketball game resume without Emmett. "No, it was Newton." "Fucker," Emmett murmured with a shake of his head. He really hated that asshole... "Agreed," Cullen replied as he blew the smoke from his lungs. "I had a slight 'disagreement' with one of the tutors and the shit head put me on twenty-four hour punishment." "Fucker," Emmett repeated and Cullen nodded turning towards him. "It's on, Emmett. I shit you not." Emmett saw the look of determination in Cullen's eyes, bumped his fist and smirked with his cigarette dangling from his mouth. "Better believe it baby," he acquiesced enthusiastically with a wink. He would have Cullen's back. They had known each other a lot of years both inside and outside detention and it was the least he could fucking do. Cullen had been there for Emmett on a couple of occasions on the outside, saving his ass both times. Yeah, if Cullen needed him, he would be there, especially if it meant getting that Newton prick and wiping the smile of his butt ugly face. They both turned quickly - their heads snapping with a sharpness only achieved by long sentences of incarceration with fuckers who could be sly and quick - when they heard a loud bout of whistles and jeers from the court. Emmett snorted and smiled. "Talking of tutors," he muttered as he cocked a satisfied eyebrow. Cullen followed his stare across the court and through the fencing, to see a small brunette with the tightest ass he had ever seen, wrapped in a black, knee length pencil skirt, scuttling quickly across the car lot towards a sweet Mini Cooper. Her pale legs looked awesome as they disappeared into a pair of black heeled shoes that, even from Cullen's viewpoint, screamed hard sex. Fuck me... "Who the fuck is that?" he asked, trying to hide the fact that he was craning his neck to see past the other inmates who were milling around the fence like kids at a zoo, blocking his view.Bastards... "That is Miss Swan," Emmett answered with a slow sigh as he leaned his elbows back on the table behind him and crossed his legs at the ankles, "The new Lit tutor. She's cool actually. I had my first session with her today."

Cullen's head spun back around towards him as he blew out his smoke. "You take Lit?" he asked incredulously. "Yeah," Emmett answered quickly. "What the fuck of it?" His shoulders rose in defence making him look even bigger. Cullen recoiled slightly in his seat. "Nothing, man," Cullen surrendered with a shrug. He turned back to see the soft-topped Mini whizz past the fence and out towards the exit. "Shit," he mumbled. "Agreed," Emmett replied, flicking his cigarette across the yard towards Quil Embry who narrowed his eyes in response. Cullen and Emmett laughed together. They hated Quil Embry. He was a cocky assed motherfucker who didn't know his place, which was on the floor along with the cigarette bud Emmett had discarded. "Well, at least that's a plus," Cullen muttered as he put his cigarette out on the bench beside him. "What?" Emmett asked with a frown. "The tutor..." he waved his hand towards where the Mini had disappeared. "Miss..." "Swan," Emmett finished for him. "Yeah, Miss Swan," he acknowledged. "That's one good thing about me doing Lit." Emmett chuckled. "You're doing Lit?" "Yeah," Cullen answered with a roll of his eyes. "Garrett wants me to prove to the powers that be that I can 'improve' myself inside. Some shit about how it could help towards an early parole. I'm not holding my breath." "Sounds like a croc to me," Emmett said with a frown. "Agreed," Cullen replied before leaning back to continue watching the basketball players that had, like him, long forgotten the small brunette in the sweet Mini Cooper. =PoF= Isabella threw her bag down by the front door with a long breath, along with her keys that she placed in a china bowl. She was anal about where her belongings went and liked to keep everything meticulously clean and just so. It was her way of keeping order in her life, or so her therapist kept telling her. Jamie called it OCD, much to her annoyance. She walked over to play the answer machine while flicking through the mail that she had received and immediately heard her mother's voice come through the speaker. "I'm assuming you're still alive and well, even though I haven't heard a peep from you since yesterday. I hope you haven't forgotten that you are coming to the house this evening for dinner. If you aren't here by seven, I'll be sending Phil out with a search party. Bye." Isabella rolled her eyes and pressed call back on her phone, leaving it on speaker as she walked over to her tropical fish tank and sprinkled fish food across the smooth water, smiling as they came to the surface and puckered and kissed at the flakes.

"Isabella?" her mother's anxious voice filled her living room. "Yes, Mom, it's me. I'm alive, I'm safe and I'll be at the house prompt for seven so cancel the damn search party!" She heard her mother huff and click her tongue in response. "Very funny young lady," she chastised. "I'm allowed to worry, Isabella. I am your mother after all." "I know, I know. I've just been really busy." It was the truth and honestly she could have done without having to have dinner with her mother after the day she had just had. She had woken up late after being up half the night having the same dream repeatedly. She'd tried to go another night without her pills and had done nothing but regret it as soon as her head hit the pillow. It was a new dream this time however. There were no faceless men or wet sand but her father was still there. He kept whispering something to her over and over and try as she might she just couldn't get near enough to hear him. That was when the hooded stranger came and pulled her back from him as he had done all those years before. He was still a stranger to her - both in and out of her dreams - after apparently disappearing without a trace from the doorway of the building he had held her in as she cried for her Daddy. She truly believed that the police and her mother thought her fucking insane when she tried to describe what had happened; that a hooded unknown had pulled her from seeing her father beaten to death. All she knew was that he was definitely male and that he couldn't have been much older than she was. But he was never found and unsurprisingly, no one had seen anything. Regardless, he was still there in her subconscious every night, desperately pulling and dragging her to safety. After waking up twenty minutes after her alarm and having the quickest shower in history, she had managed to make it to Arthur Kill with five minutes to spare before her first class. She was all over the place, forgetting her book for Sam and unable to do the lesson she had planned because the fucking connection in her room from her laptop to the interactive board was shot to shit. She tried her hardest to think on her feet in front of the two technicians, one guard, Angela Weber, Mike Newton and four prison inmates, before inspiration struck her. "Ok," she had breathed, running her hands through her hair. "Let's try some word association to begin." "Word a-what?" Quil laughed from his seat in the second row, next to Sam Uley. "Association, fuck wit," Emmett grumbled from his seat next to the wall that appeared to be straining against his large back that was leaning against it. "What's that?" Tyler asked with a small frown. "Word association," she repeated, "When we associate one word with another."

She pulled her magic marker from her case and wrote the same sentence on the white board as Mike Newton and the two technicians wandered quietly out of the door. "I still don't get it," Tyler said, slouching into his seat. "Yeah, Miss S, I'm with Tyler on this one," Emmett said with an apologetic shrug. Isabella smiled. "Emmett, if I said the word car to you what word would you think of?" "Hot," he replied with a rise and drop of his right shoulder. "Why?" Isabella asked taking a step towards him. He bit the inside of his mouth and exhaled down his nose. He was really thinking about it and Isabella couldn't help but feel excited by it. "Because when a car engine runs it gets hot and when I hear the engine of a car I get hot. The fucking sound of a GT 500 has to be the sexiest sound in the world." He grinned and winked at her making her smile back. "Great answer," she whispered. She turned from him slowly and wrote the word car and hot on the board, connecting them with a small line. "Tyler, when I say the word hot, what word do you think of?" Isabella heard Quil mutter something that sounded suspiciously like 'Miss Swan's ass' but had no time to ask before Emmett launched a pencil at him with such speed that it lodged itself into the chair behind him. Lucky fucker The guard made to move towards Emmett but Isabella shook her head and eyed him quickly. She would handle it. She had to. "Tyler," she repeated, ignoring the looks of death that were being shot from Emmett towards Quil at the back of the room. She hoped the little shit was petrified. "Sun?" Tyler asked nervously. "Perfect," Isabella praised, writing it on the board. "Sam," she continued. "What word associates with sun?" "Moon," he answered quietly with a quick glance in her direction. She smiled at him and nodded. "Quil," she said sharply, "Keeping your eyes on my face and off my ass." His eyes snapped up as Tyler hid a laugh behind his fist. "What word do you associate with moon?" Isabella had to admit she even surprised herself and she could see on the look of the other people in the room, including Angela, that they were shocked as shit too. "Um" Quil shifted in his seat and glanced at everyone around him, trying his hardest not to look embarrassed.

Isabella suddenly felt guilty. "When you think of the moon, Quil, what else do you think of?" "Stars?" he muttered down towards his chest. "Perfect," she answered, writing it quickly. "Gentlemen, what you have just done here is called, word association. When we think of one word, a million and one other words can come into your head. For example, if I think of the word red, I think of love, passion, fireblood." She tucked her hair behind her ear. "It's about thinking outside of the box, thinking further than the one word on the page." She looked at the five faces in front of her to see a flash of understanding glance across all of them before she handed each of them an A4 notebook. "On the first page on the top line I want you to write a word that means a lot to you. So, Emmett, if you want to write the word car, be my guest." He grinned back at her and nodded. "And then what I want you to do is list all the other words that you can associate with that. Hot, gas, leather" "Miss S," he teased with a loud gust through his lips "You're gonna have to stop before I get tooum.excited" He glanced down at his crotch and wiggled his eyebrows. She really had no fucking idea what those words did to him. Even Sam laughed at that comment as Isabella rolled her eyes at the giant man. "Get on with it, McCarty," she replied poking the page as she smiled at Angela. "Yes, Ma'am," he answered. She had gone around the rest of the room, seeing what the others had come up with, clicking her tongue at Quil's choice of 'sex' and smiling like a fool at Sam's choice of 'hope.' "I'm sorry if this is too...simplistic for you, Sam," she said quietly as she crouched at the side of him. He shook his head and smiled gently, his eyes dancing, "Its fine, Miss Swan. I like things like this." "Ok," she replied, glancing at his association list to see words such as Mom, September 12 and forgiveness. "September 12?" she asked, running her index finger under his cursive writing. He nodded and breathed deeply. "It was the day my daughter was born," he answered quietly. "I see," she replied, hiding the surprise in her voice. "And she gives you hope?" "She's the only hope I have of being a better person." His eyes flashed with a determination that made all the hairs on Isabella's body stand on end. She decided right then, that she really did like Sam Uley. Isabella tried to explain this to her mother and her partner Phil at dinner later that night but they just didn't seem to understand at all. She tried to explain what she felt when Sam had written such words; about the surge of adrenaline, that only a teacher knows when their students show understanding of a subject. But her mother simply scoffed. She tried to hide it from her daughter but Isabella knew her too well. Phil had, as always, thrown her a sympathetic look across the dining table.

Her mother, as much as Isabella loved her and tried to understand her point of view, was still extremely prejudiced about criminals and what should be done with them. In truth, Renee Swan had nearly had a damn coronary the day that her only child - and only living connection to her late husband - told her that she wanted to work in a prison. How on earth could she want to be near those animals? It made no never mind to Renee whether it was drugs or murder; they were all the same to her, all evil and they all deserved just punishment. The thought of Isabella being near them, let alone teaching and helping them terrified her. Her baby girl thrown to the lions just like her husband. Did she not understand what could happen to her? Did she not see how dangerous a job it was? Isabella had tried to reason with her mother, explaining that she would be safe and that, as hard as it was to understand, they weren't the same men that had killed the man they both adored. After her therapy sessions, where she had discussed the same fears, it had surprised Isabella at how easy the words came off her tongue. Maybe it was going to be easier than she imagined? No, she wasn't that naive but the feeling of ease that had swept through her when she had seen her students do the work she had set, stayed with her through the tense dinner. She had left early, knowing she had that same work to read and grade before she had the class, the following morning. Once through her front door, she kicked off her shoes and wandered over to the answer machine that was flashing and pressed play, before making her way into the kitchen and grabbing the bottle of white wine that had been in her fridge chilling perfectly. She was definitely ready for a drink, almost anxiously so. "Miss Swan, it's Mike here...Mike Newton..." "No shit," she muttered as she pulled the cork from the bottle with a resounding pop. "I hope your day went well...apart from the obvious..." He laughed nervously and Isabella rolled her eyes as she poured her wine into a large glass that Leah had bought her for Christmas. "Tech have assured me that the problems this morning will not happen again...um...so, I just wanted to give you a heads up that a new inmate will be joining your class tomorrow...um, he's...difficult but I'm sure you'll be just fine. I'll explain in the morning...um, have a good evening. Bye." Isabella stared at the answer phone and blinked. A new inmate? Difficult? She just knew that the easiness of the first day's class had been a onetime thing. Fucking typical. "Cheers, Mr. Newton," she muttered sarcastically as she grabbed the papers from her case and sat down cross legged on her sofa, glass of wine still firmly in hand. "Hey, Bells, it's Jay. I hope today went as you hoped. I was...well, I was thinkin' of ya so...I'm at Maloney's so come for a drink if you want...Victoria's here...If not...I'll speak to you soon. Bye."

She sighed and sipped her drink. She had to give Jamie credit for trying to be supportive. After her small outburst the night before, he had promised that he would be there for her while being as encouraging and understanding as he could be. She knew, as she had fallen asleep on him, that he meant it. She could always rely on him, which was why his lack of faith in her had stung initially. He cared about her and that was fine but she needed him to understand why she was doing what she was doing. "Hey, Swan! You, me, tomorrow, tennis, me kicking your ass! Sound good? Thought so! Call me!" She laughed lightly into her glass. Leah, Jamie's sister was a force to be reckoned with, that was for damn sure. She'd been that way all her life, pushing Isabella to take risks and be daring, especially after the death of her father. At first she had resisted, not wanting to do anything but grieve but Leah had pushed relentlessly for her to leave her room and be the child that she was, instead of the adult who tried to get her mother to open up and talk about her loss. Theirs was a competitive relationship that she loved. Yes, Leah could be hard to take in large doses but her heart, like her brother's, was definitely in the right place. The three of them had travelled through school together, travelled the world together and been there for each other through everything. It was a comfortable friendship triangle to be a part of, even if Leah had pestered her about putting her brother 'out of his misery.' But that wasn't going to happen any time soon even with the history Isabella and Jamie had. She wasn't ready for that with anyone. She had to focus on her job and a relationship just wouldn't help her do that. Besides, Jamie had said Victoria was at the bar with him, maybe they would give it another go? She pushed those particular thoughts away quickly and placed her glass on the table in front of her, settling herself down to read what her new students had written. =PoF= The next morning was better. The dreams had stayed away for one night courtesy of the half a bottle of Californian White that Isabella had finished as she read through the pieces of work from her new class. To say that she was stunned by what she had read would have been an understatement. She was enthralled, bewildered and completely ecstatic. She had asked them to write a couple of paragraphs, or more, if they felt they could, about the words they had chosen during their word association session. Emmett had written enthusiastically about the first car that he boosted and what he felt like when he did it. His dyslexia was apparent but the fervour with which he wrote was undeniable. He likened his love of cars to sex and drugs - an addiction to quell an overwhelming urge written in such a passionate way that the subject matter seemed irrelevant. He was funny and fanatical about his machines and it came in streams through his writing. Sam's was exceptional and had Isabella in tears as she read of his love for his 'girl' and daughter. The hope that the unassuming man had in his heart for his child was borderline inspirational and Isabella couldn't help but think of her father and his hopes for her before he died. She skipped into the staff room of Arthur Kill and poured herself a coffee, eager to get to the next session with her class.

"You look like you had a good night." Angela's voice penetrated Isabella's morning bubble with a small laugh. "I did," she answered as she dropped some milk into her cup. "Angela, that work they did was exceptionally good." Angela smiled knowingly and nodded. "I know. They try so damned hard; especially when they like their tutor." Isabella flushed slightly, not sure that she had much to do with it considering they had only had one session. They continued to discuss the class, with Emmett and Sam being the most prevalent students throughout the conversation as Isabella explained what they had both written. "I hope McCarty's not giving you trouble," Mr Newton said firmly, entering their conversation with no introduction which pissed Isabella off more than she expected. He is such a smarmy ass "Um, no, actually he's been great. Really responsive and he produced some really great work for me yesterday." A flash of either annoyance or surprise crossed Mr. Newton's face at Isabella's words but it was gone as quickly as it appeared. "That's great," he deadpanned. Before Isabella could respond with a 'you bet your smarmy ass it is,' he clutched her elbow and manoeuvred her away from Angela to the other side of the room. "So, your new inmate" he began, releasing her arm slowly. "Student," Isabella corrected, crossing her arms over her chest. Newton eyed her carefully. He couldn't have lost her to the Weber and reform crowd already? "Yes, well, your new student will be in attendance as soon as your class starts." Isabella bristled at his sarcasm. He was obviously having a bad morning and she was, for some reason, in the line of fire of it. She took a deep breath and brought out a wide smile. "That's great," she responded. "What's the student's name?" "Cullen," he replied quickly, incensed by the smile and watched as Isabella frowned slightly in recognition of the name. She remembered Angela's words about meeting him eventually. Well, she thought wryly, I guess eventually arrived. "And is that all the information I get?" She could feel herself getting even more annoyed by his petulant and somewhat aggressive manner. "His folder is in my office." He ran a hand across his chin and exhaled. He was having a shiteous morning and the folder that belonged to one epic asshole was not on his list of priorities. "I'll...um, I'll get it to you."

"Great," she answered before turning on her heel and walking back to Angela who had been eavesdropping on the entire exchange with amusement. "Let's go," Isabella said with a smile as she grabbed her coffee and bag and made her way across the staff room towards her class. =PoF= All of her students filtered in, just as they had the day before, each one of them chattering and looking decidedly light. "Good morning, everyone," Isabella smiled as she fixed up her laptop while they took their seats, sighing in relief when the connection worked first time through her interactive board. "Morning, Miss S," Emmett answered with a huge yawn and a slap of his chest. "And may I say how nice you look today?" "You may," she answered with a playful warning look. "You look nice," he responded quickly before giving her a wide closed lip smile. "Thank you, Emmett," she replied, unable to hide her own grin. She handed out their previous days work and gave them a couple of minutes to read her comments on them. "What does 'not entirely appropriate' mean?" Quil asked from his seat at the back of the class. Isabella grimaced and approached him. "It means, Quil that I don't really want to read about every one of your conquests or the marks you gave them out of ten, including" She whipped the paper from his desk to find the offending sentence. "The blow job was fucking awesome." At this Quil barked a huge laugh that echoed around the room while flicking his fingers in joy. He stopped fairly quickly when he realised no-one else found him as funny as he obviously did. "You're a fucking idiot," Tyler muttered from his seat. "Fuck you, Crowley," Quil retorted, kicking the back of Tyler's chair. "Hey," Isabella said as calmly as she could, feeling the panic rise inside her. "The fuck you say?" Tyler bit back, making to stand from his seat. "Hey," she repeated louder, the panic engulfing her throat as she held an open palm towards each of the men. Before Isabella could fathom what the hell was going on, she was standing in the middle of Emmett, Tyler and Quil, all of them shouting obscenities, insults and pointed fingers at each other while Officer Morgan tried to get in between them, with Angela, calling to her to move back. But she couldn't.

The panic was there, pounding around her head as she tried to breathe and remain calm, remembering the anxiety breathing exercises that he therapist had given her. She closed her eyes, clenched her fists and took in a deep breath. "HEY!" Everyone immediately went quiet and looked at her in absolute fucking shock as her yell bounced around the room. Emmett, who was standing at her right side; trying his best to get in front of her to shield her from whatever shit was about to fly, blinked in disbelief. Well fuck, the small swan has a voice The awed silence lasted all of two minutes before the door of the classroom flew open and Mike Newton strode in with a face like thunder. "What the hell is going on here?" he yelled as he slammed his hands to his hips. The group surrounding Isabella slowly began to disperse as two officers appeared in the doorway. Isabella took another shaky breath and rubbed her palms down her black trousers. She cleared her throat and turned to her boss with as genuine a smile as she could muster. "Nothing to worry about, Mr. Newton, just a differing of opinion." She walked towards him slowly, clasping her sweating hands at her stomach. "As you can see they're all fine now. Aren't you, Quil?" She levelled a look at him that would have turned him to salt, had she had the ability. He nodded sharply and bit the inside of his mouth before glaring at the back of Tyler's head. Newton eyed the room carefully. She was good at bullshitting, that he had to admit, but from the sounds that he heard before he entered the room, he knew she was out of her depth and it was only her second day of teaching. He didn't want her to have a hard time and quit but he couldn't stand the thought of her being on 'their' side. She worked for him, not them and the fact that she had called them 'students' and not inmates only forty-eight hours in, had made his teeth clench. He breathed heavily down his nose and cleared his throat. "Well," he began with a glance at each inmate. "I'd like to bring in your new student." He turned his head back towards the door, "Cullen?" Cullen had been standing in the corridor with Officer West, grinning and listening to Newton try to assert what piss ass authority he thought he had. He pushed from his place against the wall and wandered into the room, dragging his feet with every step. The first thing he noticed was Emmett across the room, acknowledging him with a nod and a smirk which he returned arrogantly seeing as all eyes were on him. He then glanced around quickly, yet nonchalantly at the other guys in the class, trying to discern where he came in the pecking order. He was almost always at the top but he forever made it a point to check first. In this case, Emmett ruled the roost just. He sneered when he took in the other shit poke faces. Tyler could be cocky but he knew his place and Sam was as quiet as a mouse no problems there. Quil Embry however...he narrowed his eyes at the little fucker and smirked further when he noticed he slumped down into his seat under his gaze. That's right, bitch...

A annoyed feminine cough was what pulled him from his visual tormenting of the little bastard. He looked from Quil slowly towards the origin of the noise, finding the delectable Miss Swan, arms crossed over her chest, eying him in a way that made his hackles immediately rise and his fists clench. She, like every other fucker not in blue overalls, thought she was better than him. He didn't have to be a mind reader to know it. And she may have hid it well behind her sexy blouse and heels but she was just like them. They were all the same. He leaned his weight casually onto his right foot and stared right back at her. Bring it, Miss S... "Cullen, this is Miss Swan. Miss Swan, this is Edward Cullen." "Just Cullen," he spat, keeping his glare firmly on Isabella. Newton knew better than to use his first name for fuck's sake. Newton cleared his throat and rolled his eyes in Isabella's direction. "Cullen," he sighed, trying to appease him. "Well, it's nice to meet you, Cullen," Isabella said with a cocked eyebrow. She had seen the way that he had taken in the other students in her class and she didn't like it. He was obviously an arrogant jerk who saw himself above everyone in her class including her and she was immediately irritated by it. This was her classroom not his. Her hostility surprised her but the adrenaline was still pumping through her body after the almost fight and the last thing she needed was a cocky fucker like Cullen adding to it. No matter how good looking he was... "Yeah, whatever," he muttered back with an obvious eye roll, unable to resist letting his line of sight dance quickly over the delicate curves of Isabella's chest and hips that - he had to admit - were pretty fucking hot. "Take a seat," she bit back, unable to hold her irritation any longer. His stare met hers once again as her tone slipped down his already tense back. He narrowed his eyes infinitesimally and Isabella could have sworn that he almost snarled. But she stood firm, keeping grounded, not moving an inch and shit if she didn't look hot as fuck doing it. Emmett and Newton's eyes locked for a tenth of a second as that very thought shot between them. It was Angela's voice that broke the strange electric atmosphere of aggression, annoyance and arousal that filled the room. "Here, Cullen," she said in a soft voice, ideal for defusing highly anxious situations. "Sit here." She motioned towards the seat closest to him. Cullen, as loath as he was to break his gaze with the hot-bitch teacher, took a deep breath through his nose, making his nostrils flare and moved slowly towards the seat that Angela was offering. His breath seemed to shudder out of him as his green irises dropped from the wide chocolate ones that flickered with fire. "Well," Newton croaked, slipping his hands in his pockets, not entirely sure what had just occurred. "Any problems...you know where I am."

He gave Isabella a tight-lipped smile that she barely noticed and left the room followed by the two other officers, after they had un-cuffed Cullen. She seemed unable to tear her eyes from the conceited ass sitting in her classroom. He was fine to look at with his messy hair, broad shoulders, two days worth of stubble and long legs that stuck out from underneath the desk but his attitude made him ugly, bitter and sharp around the edges. She lifted her eyebrows, suddenly realising that she was frowning at him. He didn't notice however as his eyes was firmly locked on the desk in front of him. He didn't want to look at her; as easy as she was on the eye. He was too fucking angry. And what made him even more fucking mad was that he had no fucking clue why! She had asked him to sit so fucking what but it was the way in which she'd asked him; completely curt, determined and seemingly unafraid of him. That shit just would not fucking do. At. All. Isabella took a quiet second to compose herself, dropping her stare from Cullen and focusing on the other six people in front of her. She started her computer up with the activity that she wanted them to undertake, explaining it quickly and clearly and within five minutes they had their heads down and were on task. It appeared that the altercation had been forgotten or had, at the very least, made everyone calmer. She walked with purpose towards Cullen's desk and placed an A4 book in front of him. He never moved or looked up to acknowledge her request for him to place his name on the front of it, even if the rest of his body was achingly aware of her presence in front of him. "Cullen," she said again, feeling her annoyance creep up her spine as her patience dwindled into her stomach. "Could you please write your name on the front of this booklet?" She noticed the corners of his mouth twitch slightly. Oh no, asshole... "Is something funny?" she asked through clenched teeth, unable to control the rage that was boiling with no rhyme or reason deep inside her. His eyes snapped to hers, bright green and furious but he never said a word. She pulled a pen from the pocket of her pants and held it out for him. "Is this what you need?" She could have sworn that his eyes softened slightly around the pupils but it was a change so minute that she shook the thought away immediately. He raised his hand slowly and took the pen from her, allowing the tip of his finger to catch the side of her knuckle as he did. His smirk became a knowing smile as he clicked the pen and wrote his name as she had asked. Not entirely immune, he congratulated himself as he noticed the sharp dip of her chest as she breathed quickly. She felt it. Isabella felt the contact holy fuck did she feel the contact but she tried her hardest to hide it. She tried to hide the burning jolt of heat that shot from the tip of her finger deep into the pit of her stomach and she was convinced she hid the gasp of air that she took and remained upright; a feat she was insanely proud of. What the fuck was that?

She watched as he wrote his desired name across the top of the booklet, throwing the pen down and sighing heavily and sarcastically as he sat back in his seat. He looked like he owned the place and Isabella had no doubt in her mind that the man in front of her thought exactly that. There was a dangerous wall around him that screamed no entry and as she continued taking in the new addition to her class she realised, she didn't give a shit. "I know you are slightly behind having just joined us today but I'm sure you'll catch up no problem." She tried to speak civilly but the words sounded so wrong in her head. They sounded false and insincere and she knew that, in the place she was, that was a risky combination. Cullen looked up at her, his face belying any emotion or thought about what she had just said, so she continued regardless, explaining the word association task that the class had done twenty-four hours before. "So, you can start with that," she muttered while running a hand through her hair which, Cullen noted, was a combination of several shades of brunette. "Write a word that means something to you and then all the words that associate with that." Still nothing. She bit her tongue and placed her hands on her hips. "Once you do that you can write about why that word is important to you." She saw him sneer and sit back even further in his seat. "I'm sorry," she fumed. "Is there a problem?" He looked up at her, his face strong, sculpted, beautiful and terrifying. "Do you think I'm stupid?" he asked in a quiet monotone voice that sent chills down her back. She blinked at him in response. "No," she answered defiantly. "Why?" He snorted and ran a hand through his own hair. "It's a little bitbasicwouldn't you say, Miss Swan?" She felt her jaw tighten at his words, cursing Mike Newton for not giving her Cullen's folder to look over. Even so, no matter how intelligent he assumed himself to be, his entire attitude made her want to rip the smug ass smile off of his pretty little face. "Well, Cullen," she sighed in response. "All roads to every answer start with the basics." "Nice," he retorted while raising his eyebrows in a way that Isabella could only determine as patronizing as shit. "Read that little gem in a fortune cookie, did ya?" She slammed her hands down on the desk in front of him and glared as hard as she could. There was no way the little bastard was going to make a mockery out of her father's philosophies. "No, I didn't," she hissed in return. "So, shut your mouth and do what I ask. Otherwise," she nodded towards the exit. "There's the door. Don't let it hit you on your smart ass as you leave."

Well, fuck me Cullen sat for all of five seconds wondering who the fuck Miss Swan thought she was talking to and why the fuck his cock was hard as rock, before he sat up straight in his chair, leaning closer to her, feeling her hot breath on his cheek. He was gleefully aware of the fact that she jumped slightly at his quick movement, but was equally dumbstruck by the huge wave of lust that crashed over him as he stared at her wide, enraged eyes and open mouth that moved slowly but determinedly with every breath that left her. What he could do to silence those plump, pink, self righteous lipsfuck "Watch your fucking mouth," he seethed through clenched teeth, undeniably aware that the guard behind her had shifted towards them. "No, Cullen," she replied as her stare burned into his. "You watch yours. This is my class, not yours so do what I ask or leave. The choice is yours." Before Cullen could retort, or even drag his traitor eyes from her tits, she had walked away from him towards Emmett who had been watching the entire pissing contest with rapture. He never, for one moment, thought that Miss Swan had that lioness inside her and damn if she hadn't picked the most volatile fucker in the room to test herself on. He watched as Cullen's mouth opened and closed a few times behind Miss Swan, his face a picture of complete and utter shock before he blew a quick, irate breath out of his mouth and slumped back in his seat. That shit also had to be a first. Had he been a betting man and in the past he had most definitely dabbled Emmett would have had Cullen storming out of the room in record time, or at least ripping some shit up. But no he was still there and all the furniture in the room was still as it was when he entered. Had Cullen met his match in the little swan before him? He sniggered into the back of his hand in disbelief. Isabella ignored Cullen for the next fifty minutes as best as she could - which he was more than happy about -glancing at him occasionally to see him sitting like King Punk every time that she did. She hadn't seen him even attempt to do what she asked but a part of her was somewhat satisfied that he hadn't actually left. She had no idea where her bravery or stupidity had come from. Maybe it was the way Newton had addressed her earlier or she was still feeding off of the anger that had crashed between Quil and Tyler. She had no idea; the only thing she did know was that there was something about Cullen that set her on edge. If she wasn't feeling so fucking angry she might have enjoyed the feelings of adrenaline andlife that was flooding her veins. She spoke to each of her students about their work and was just finishing off her closing plenary as the officers came to collect their inmates. It had been a long fucking hour and Isabella couldn't help but notice the ripple of relief that moved through her.

"Laters, Miss S," Emmett chimed as he followed Tyler out of the door followed by a tall bronze haired asshole who pushed past her and everyone else with no regard whatsoever. "Yeah, see you later," she answered, feeling her fists clench at her sides as she watched the retreating figure of Cullen disappear down the corridor. She fumed inwardly as the white hot heat, from his arm brushing against hers, smouldered up towards her neck and shoulder. The door shut behind them all, leaving her and Angela alone. Isabella sank back against her desk and exhaled heavily, dropping her chin to her chest, suddenly feeling very tired. "Are you ok?" Angela asked as she collected her notes and approached her. She didn't know what else to say after seeing the small brunette take on, not only a potential fight but Edward Cullen to boot. Isabella laughed sarcastically and rubbed her face with her palms. "Yeah," she answered. "I'm fine." Angela moved closer and reached a hand to her shoulder. "You did good," she praised, "Real good. He tested you and you passed." Isabella smiled and winced all at the same time. "He's an asshole." "No doubt," Angela replied with a small snort. "But it's his thing. You were great." "Thank you," Isabella responded, not really believing what she was being told. "No problem. See you tomorrow?" Angela thought it best to say it as a question just to be sure. Isabella looked at her, determination prevalent in her large eyes. "Yes, you will," she answered. She wasn't going to let some punk ass, know-it-all stop her from doing what she had to. "Great," Angela replied, exhaling in relief. She couldn't give up so early. She could see the resolve in the woman before her and no matter what was driving it she knew that Isabella Swan could be a fucking amazing tutor at the facility. "Have a good rest of the day," she offered before she left the room and Isabella to her thoughts. Isabella glanced around the room for a couple of minutes, rubbing her arm gingerly over the spot that was still tingling, contemplating the events of what was surely the longest hour of her life, before she began collecting the A4 booklets of her students. She placed the pile down on the front table along with their pens before looking reluctantly at the last booklet that was placed on the desk in the font row where Cullen had sat. She sighed as she stared at it, gnawing on her bottom lip in frustration. What the hell was it about Cullen that had her so fucking wired? Why had she snapped that way? Quil was an asshole and she hadn't behaved that way with him. This wasn't hershe had acted stupidly, dangerously but Cullen had immediately made her sotensehotalive After an age of internal chastising and debate, she approached the booklet as a soldier would an undetonated bomb and cautiously turned it around opening up to the first page. Her eyes widened and her breath caught as she read the word that meant so much to the man that had conjured so much from her in such a short space of time.

With four letters, she knew that there was a lot more to Cullen than the punk ass fucker who had stoked so aggressively at the fire within her. The four letters simply spelled debt. Chapter 4: Cause and Effect "He, who does not prevent a crime when he can, encourages it." ~ Seneca Leah Damon ran like hell from one side of the tennis court to the other, gasping, panting and suddenly feeling like she was playing Centre Court at Wimbledon against Serena Williams and not her best friend Isabella Swan. There was something definitely up. The way that Isabella was smashing the tennis balls back at her, left, right and centre was bordering on violent and fuck if she wasn't already becoming tired just one set in. She ran down the left side of the court to receive a shit hot back hand that Isabella had hammered from the base line and cursed loudly as her return found nothing but the net between them. Leah dropped her palms and racket to her knees and took a deep breath. She was a bad fucking loser and this all new tennis superstar she was faced with, was an unwelcome addition to her game plan. "You ok?" Isabella asked as she stalked towards the net, not even feeling slightly satisfied that she was whipping ass due to the knot of indistinguishable emotions that was lodged in her stomach. Leah held up her hand and nodded. "Yeah, I'm great, how about you, McEnroe?" Isabella had to smile at that. "I'm good," she replied, using the end of her racket handle to scratch the side of her face. "Oh that, girl, is for damn fucking certain," Leah replied as she stretched back to her full height. "What's up?" Isabella frowned, having no clue what Leah was referring to. "What?" "Something's different," she gestured around the court as if that was enough to explain the meaning behind her statement. "What is it?" Isabella put a hand to her hip and smirked. "So, because I'm winning something has to be up?" Leah scoffed and bent down to retrieve the tennis ball at her feet. "Whatever, Swan." She threw the ball at her friend, "Your serve." An hour, two scuffed knees and a barrage of curses later and a defeated Leah and an indifferent Isabella made their way to the showers of the Upper East Side tennis club that they frequented every Wednesday evening. It may have been a little more pretentious than Isabella liked but she enjoyed playing and hanging out with Leah who preferred the lavish surroundings of the club especially the showers that were, in her opinion, awesome. It also helped that her uncle owned the place. While she showered, Isabella allowed herself to go back to reflecting on the day that she had had before she met her friend unable to focus on much else other than a six foot two, bronzed haired asshat that had sauntered into her classroom with a superiority and danger that made her skin break out into goose flesh.

She still hadn't decided if that particular reaction was through anger, fear or something else that she had been musing over since he had barged past her and down the corridor at the end of their session. She was still frustrated by Cullen, or Edward Anthony Cullen as his file had told her. Newton had finally given her the fucking thing as she was leaving for the day a fat lot of good it did her then. He had apologised for its lateness, muttering something about Jess and her bullshit whatever the hell that meant leaving her to briefly peruse the file before she met with Leah. What she read hadn't surprised her. He was the poster boy for rebellious deviants and bad asses the world over. He was twenty-six and since the age of fifteen, he had been in detention centres or incarceration of some description at least six months out of every twelve. He had dropped out of school at seventeen which was impressive considering his lack of attendance and his GPA had been above average excelling in sports and English - listing Salinger, Hemmingway and Selby Jr as his favourite writers. There was very little written about his past or his family - being his academic folder - listing only a Mr. Carlisle Cullen as his next of kin. He was intelligent, a fact that he had made clear with his comments about her class and how 'basic' he found the work that she had asked him to do. He was above it as far as he was concerned and that was what had riled Isabella more than anything. How dare he behave like he was better than everyone else in her class including her? How dare he behave so aggressively and so intimidating? She knew that she could have him and his punk ass removed from her classroom; to make a point that she was in charge not him. But then he would have won and she would have lost - not just in a battle of wills against a prick inmate; she would have lost against the fucks who stole her father away too. Giving up and running away or ignoring the issue would not do for Isabella Swan. She would fight fire with fire; she would not be defeated by him and it vexed her that he had even tried. "Asshole," she muttered to herself as she rubbed hard at her hair with the blue towel in her hands as she remembered his snarl when he had faced off with her across his desk. "Who's an asshole?" Leah asked as she sprayed her under arms with deodorant. Isabella looked up in surprise, halting the assault on her hair. "Oh, just a new student of mine," she offered dismissively, folding the towel slowly and pushing it into her bag. "And why is he an asshole? Save for the obvious criminal charges." Isabella smiled tightly as she fastened her bracelet around her wrist. Leah wasn't as prejudice towards her job choice as Isabella's mother but her comment still irritated her. Besides, Isabella had decided, Cullen could not use his criminality to behave like a complete dick. She would not allow it. "He just..." she shrugged and exhaled loudly in exasperation, feeling her temper start to fray as she remembered the conceited jerk and his belittling attitude. She remembered the fire and disdain in his eyes and the tone with which he addressed her. She felt her insides start to boil, spinning around to glare at her friend. "He just came into my room like fucking King Ass, making me and my other students feel intimidated and then told me he thought that the work I had asked him to complete was basic which, fine, yes, it is but it was just an introductory activity for us to get to know one another, ya know, so

I can see what makes them tick but noooo not Cullen with his fucking...chiselled jaw and...his...his green eyes and scruffy hair that just...Oh, it's far too fucking 'basic' for him..." Isabella couldn't seem to rein in the vitriolic hatred that was suddenly spewing from her mouth. Leah crossed her arms slowly across her chest as she continued to watch her friend move her hands around at such speed with her descriptions, she feared she would eventually take off into space. "And he tells me to watch my mouth..." Isabella continued with a scoff, utterly oblivious to Leah's amused expression. "I mean, Leah, come on...ME!" She laughed without humour. "He's a fucking asshole, who thinks he is bigger and better than everyone else but let me tell you..." She thrust a finger into her own chest. "I am not backing down for anything! Not for that shit, not for anyone!" Isabella threw her hoodie on as a ferocity of epic proportions bubbled like lava through her veins once more, grabbed her bag and stormed to the exit with Leah's speechless eyes still glued to her every move. "You comin'?" she snapped, making Leah stifle a laugh. "You're not gonna kill me, right?" she asked cautiously with a small grin as she lifted her palms up subserviently. Isabella rolled her eyes and charged through the door with Leah laughing and running up to catch her. They made their way silently to the restaurant of the club, sitting in their usual seat and ordering from the same waiter. Isabella however ordered a different drink, almost demanding a dirty vodka Martini from the somewhat stunned barman. "So, this guy...Cullen...? He left a lasting impression, I take it?" Leah smiled as she watched Isabella tug the green olive viciously from the tooth pick that had been placed in her glass. Isabella grunted and took a long ass sip of her drink. Two days into her new job and she was already drinking more than she usually did. Fan-fucking-tastic. "Bells, seriously, what the hell happened?" Leah asked with a much more concerned tone. She had never, in all the time she had known Isabella, seen her behave or react in the ways that she was and had been doing since they met three hours before. Her body language was completely different; defensive in an aggressive way almost like a tiger stalking its prey and the fire behind her eyes was breathtaking. Leah had to admit, Isabella's wrath was definitely a good look on her. Isabella told her friend, in detail, about the day and how it had started; from Mike 'Smug-Shit' Newton snapping at her, to the almost fight, to the moment that Cullen had entered the classroom and practically pissed his superiority all over the damn place. This Leah had to laugh at. "So, you have him removed," she offered with a slight shrug. "It'll be fine. Show him who's boss." She clenched her fist and drummed it on the table in supportive determination. Isabella shook her head. "I can't" she retorted quickly. "It will have the opposite effect. It'll show the other students and Mike fucking Newton that I can't cope with him." She continued to shake her head. "No," she muttered through a tight jaw. "I have to stand up to him, no matter how much of an asshole he is."

She slammed her now empty Martini glass down on the table and stabbed at a defenceless tomato that was seated on the top of her salad. "He'll regret he crossed me, Leah," she murmured around the fruit after she'd tossed it into her mouth. "I guarantee it." =PoF= It may or may not have made Isabella feel better, had she known that Cullen had also done nothing but fume over their first encounter and ruminate seriously over the ways in which he could make her life hell. The fucking bitch had made an enemy that was for damn certain. He was still utterly fucking amazed that she had spoken to him that way and said the words to him that she had. He ran his hands through his hair for the millionth time that afternoon. I mean, honestly, who the fuck did she think she was? No one ever spoke that way to Cullen. No. One. Ever. Miss Swan could just thank her lucky fucking stars that she was a woman and that there were guards with mace and batons in the immediate vicinity. He wasn't so much of a fucker that he would ever raise a hand to a woman but fuck it all to hell if Miss Swan hadn't pushed him in that direction. All day he had been unable to rid himself of the rage that she had sparked in him, the absolute fury at being spoken to in such a way and unbelievably and more infuriating than all of that shit combined, was the wild lust that had shaken his entire body. It was almost like an electric current had shot from her to him and back again as she had spat her words in his direction. Her heavy breaths and her venomous tone made his cock harder than titanium, making him want to fuck her all over his desk and hers until she knew how he expected to be treated. She'd be damn sure not to forget after he'd had his way with her. He was seething at himself for thinking those things about a woman he had met for all of fifty-five minutes. Yeah, she was hot, any red-blooded male could see that shit; with her long dark hair, full pink lips, tight ass and killer rack - but that was beside the point. It was the weakness that infuriated him above all else. The desire to slam into her pussy (and/or mouth) had been so unexpected that it had caught his ass off guard and - in a place such as Arthur Kill - that was some dangerous shit. He had to have his wits about him at all times and couldn't allow himself to lose his cock-driven mind in some smart-ass bitch that thought she was above him because she had a teaching certificate. So. Fucking. What? He scoffed to himself as he was lead by one officer towards the visit room.

Miss Swan was a snotty, self righteous bitch who needed to learn and fast that he would not tolerate her speaking and acting so fucking...unafraid of him. He rubbed the bridge of his nose as he remembered the look on her face as she had hissed at him like a goddamn snake. There was not an inch of fear or a spark of anything that would suggest that she was intimidated by him. She had burned with energy so fierce he had been able to practically taste it in the air between them. She wasn't scared of him and she stood up to him, making his cock stand up for her...and he hated her for it. He'd even done what she'd asked from him and written the one word that he lived every day by not that she'd understand that shit, let alone have experience of it anyway. He followed the officer into a small room that was divided into two halves by a huge thick piece of glass that was separated into ten small booths, each with its own individual phone that was hooked up to the wall. He was escorted to his own chair between two other inmates, where he slumped and watched the door on the other side like a hawk, sighing as he continued to muse and scheme. The other thing that had irritated him about Miss Swan was the fact that the other guys in the class seemed to like her even Emmett. The large fucker had laughed and smirked as Cullen had fumed and spat his incredulity out as they sat down for a cigarette before lunch. "Who the fuck does she think she is?" he had snapped, kicking at the wooden leg of the bench that Emmett was draped over. "I mean...does she have any idea who she is fucking with?" Emmett shrugged but the smart ass look was still plastered over his face. "She's a tough one," he conceded as he blew the smoke through his lips. He was still highly amused by the entire exchange between Miss S and Cullen- liking the whole thing to the biblical story of David and Goliath (and Cullen was damn sure not Goliath). He chuckled to himself. "Whatever," Cullen growled as he had slammed onto the seat next to him. "She needs to watch herself." Emmett eyed him curiously. "And what exactly should she watch?" Cullen couldn't deny that he was unprepared for the almost protective tone in Emmett's voice and the hint of warning in his eye. "She just needs to have some fucking respect," Cullen answered as he - ironically enough - flicked his cigarette butt at the back of one of the officers on duty. "Mmhm," Emmett hummed with a cocked eyebrow. "Well, like my daddy always said; it takes respect to earn it." Cullen frowned hard at the man beside him. "You expect me to respect some tight assed little bitch, who was probably born with a silver fucking spoon in her mouth and hasn't had to want for fucking anything since that same day?" "It couldn't hurt," Emmett answered with a nonchalant shrug, not a stranger to Cullen's preaching about 'silver spoons' and the like. He had an issue with money an issue that Emmett never raised further with him. Cullen snorted and shook his head. There was no way he was going to show Miss Swan respect after the way she had spoken to him - even if it had made his dick weep. He had leaned his elbows on his

knees and cupped his face in his palms, breathing heavily as the memory of her voice reverberated around his head. "So," Emmett said, breaking the silent moment, "Tight assed, huh?" Cullen couldn't help the laugh that erupted from his chest. Trust fucking McCarty to latch onto that one tiny part of everything that he had just said. He dropped his hands between his knees and nodded with a smirk. "Oh yeah," he muttered as the image of Miss Swan's ass flashed before him; pert, peachy and aching for his hand across it. He flinched when Emmett slapped him against his right shoulder blade. "That's one for the spank-bank my good man," he offered with a wink. Damn fucking straight, Cullen had thought to himself. He was disturbed from his thoughts by the door he had been staring at for five fucking minutes as it flew open and the visitors were brought in. He felt himself relax when he spotted Jake at the back, intimidating the officers and exciting the women with his height, narrow eyed stare and arms filled with tattoos. Cullen had known Jake since he was a kid and knew better than anyone that his ammo was to appear menacing even before he uttered a fucking word. It was an act that he had down to perfection and the effects were clear as day on the faces of the guard staff. He tilted his head in Cullen's direction which Cullen mirrored before he picked up the phone, waiting for Jake to do the same. "Cullen," he said with a grin and a nod as he seated himself, placing the phone between his ear and shoulder as he shook off his jacket. "Black," he replied, noticing the glaze of his eyes. He was fucking high and he was in a goddamn prison...fucking idiot... "You look like fucking shit, man. What gives?" Jake grinned widely and gestured through the glass towards Cullen's appearance. Cullen rolled his eyes. "Yeah, you'd think with the pool, sauna and five star meals they're feeding me I'd look better, right?" Jake held up his palms and smiled. "Point taken," he said with a laugh. He was, in truth, surprised at just how shitty Cullen did look. His hair was a fucking disaster but that wasn't anything fucking new. He had lost weight and he had dark rings under his eyes that made him look even more fucking brooding. He needed a shave and from the looks of it a stiff drink and an equally stiff fucking. "So, why am here now when I was meant to be here two fucking days ago?" Jake asked with a shrug. Cullen dropped his chin slightly and glared as he thought back to Newton and the look on his cunt face when he'd taken his visit away from him. Jake noticed the darkening of Cullen's features and immediately knew what or more who had been the problem.

"The fucker sure as shit doesn't learn," he stated, dropping his voice slightly and glancing surreptitiously towards the officers behind him. "It would seem not," Cullen replied through gritted teeth. "Well, maybe he needs a small reminder?" Jake pondered out loud with a dangerous glint in his eye. Cullen nodded, knowing that that was all the confirmation that Jake needed, and sighed. "So, how are things?" "Good," Jake replied little too quickly. Cullen cocked an eyebrow that demanded truth from his friend. "Really, man, everything's cool. I haven't heard from Aro or any of his cronies for a few weeks so it's all good." Jake sat back nonchalantly, running a hand through his hair. Cullen allowed himself to breathe a small sigh of relief. As intimidating, feared and hard ass as Jake Black was, even he was afraid of Aro and his Volturi bastards. He would never show it hence the blas reaction but the two men knew that there was plenty to be afraid of. The Volturi were the reason that Cullen was on one side of the glass and Jake was on the other - but that, in Cullen's eyes, was fine. He simply saw his time as payment. "How is everyone?" Cullen asked, pushing his anxieties and concerns to one side. "Excellent," Jake answered. "Siobhan and her bitches keep asking when you'll be out so they can get their claws into you again." He smirked and shook his head. "I swear they're panting for you, man. There'll be no shortage of desperate pussy for you when you get out, I promise you that shit." Cullen sniggered and rubbed his hand across his cheek, ignoring the image of Miss Swan on her knees in front of him, that flittered behind his eyelids. Fuck-hot bitch... "Seth's his usual butt-fuck self," Jake continued. "And the rest of the guys are running everything as they should be. The only thing missing is you." He pointed his index finger while clicking his thumb, like the trigger of a gun. And whose fucking fault is that...? "Yeah," Cullen murmured rubbing the back of his neck with his palm. "I've been trying to do stuff that will get me out sooner. My parole officer comes next week..." he paused and shrugged. "We'll see." Cullen wasn't completely convinced that the news would be good, what with his chair incident and his meeting with Miss Swan - he could but hope. "What kind of stuff?" Jake asked. "Blowing other prisoners doesn't count, Cullen," he laughed as Cullen flipped him off." "You'd fucking know, right?" "Touch," Jake conceded. "No, I've...I've been enrolled in a class," Cullen muttered, feeling slightly embarrassed by the words as they left his mouth.

"Oh yeah," Jake asked with a laugh, "Cooking, pottery, gardening?" "English Literature," Cullen interrupted him, feeling his patience start to dwindle. Jake was annoying as shit when he was high at the best of times, let alone when he was free to smoke that shit when Cullen wasn't. He could have murdered a goddamn blunt. "Wow," Jake said with an impressed expression. "Shakespeare and all that shit, huh?" "Yeah, something like that," Cullen agreed, avoiding Jake's stare. "The teacher's a fucking bitch," h growled towards his lap. Jake raised his eyebrows in question. "A Miss Swan," Cullen continued, feeling his hackles rise as he said her name, "Thinks she's fucking God's gift to all things educational." "Ugly to boot?" Jake laughed. "Not exactly," Cullen muttered, thinking briefly about Miss Swan's hair. "She just doesn't know when to shut her pretty little mouth." "Want me to send a message?" Jake asked darkly. "It can be done." Cullen's eyes met his friends and saw nothing but loyalty and resolve wrapped up in a ferocity that was formidable. Cullen had no doubt that, had he said the words, Jake would have left the facility and made sure that Miss Swan heard loud and clear that Cullen was not to be fucked with. But as Cullen thought about it, the more he realised, he didn't want that. The woman was a fucking pain in his ass no doubt - but he didn't think she deserved to be approached in any way. He remembered briefly the warning in Emmett's words and shook his head, never taking his eyes off of Jake. "No," he said firmly. "I'll deal with it." =PoF= The following morning, after several cups of coffee and many more deep breaths, Isabella began setting up her classroom for the session. She had started to feel slightly better once she had unloaded her frustrations and anger onto Leah. It seemed that with venting she had begun to see the situation a little more objectively. Cullen was an asshole of that there was no doubt but - she had conceded - he was in a highly tense, anxious and emotional environment and her snapping and demanding him to do what she wanted was not going to make him any less uncooperative. In fairness he had attempted the task that she had asked him to, not only surprising the hell out of her but leaving her speechless with the word that he had chosen. Isabella knew without doubt that it was the exact same word she would have chosen too. It was going to be hard as hell but she had decided that she was at least going to try with Cullen. She was going to try to ignore his eye rolls, unimpressed huffs and his overall patronising attitude. She ran

her hands through her hair and glared at his empty seat, imagining his slouch and penetrating stare yeah, this shit was going to be fucking hard. Because of her eagerness to get the morning out of the way as quickly as humanly possible she was almost pacing the front of the room, like a cornered lioness, when the inmates were suddenly escorted in, led by Tyler who threw a large smile and wink in her direction. "Good morning, Tyler," she said with smile and a nod. He was followed, in single file, by Quil who muttered a half-assed 'morning,' Sam who smiled and waved with the tips of his fingers and Emmett who bowed and winked. She turned from laughing at Emmett and immediately felt her breath catch in her throat and her heart start to stutter in her chest as Cullen strode dominantly into the room, ignoring Isabella entirely and pushing Quil out of the way to get to his seat not that Isabella minded that all that much. The fire under her skin started to burn in earnest and she quickly realised that she was biting the inside of her mouth trying with all her might to not knock the arrogant look that was plastered across his face. Her pupils dilated and spread across her irises as the irrational anger and heat that she had apparently quelled with her hypothesising and promise to try, reared instantly as their eyes locked for a split second; emerald against onyx. Cullen watched Miss Swan as her skin flushed slightly and her lip became wedged firmly between her teeth. He watched as she skimmed her palms down her sides to her hips and watched as the hair she pushed from her face, dripped down her back like a chocolate river. He remained still enraptured by her movements but desperate to adjust himself, to relieve the pressure that was being placed on his cock by his overall pants. This is fucking ridiculous... "Well," Isabella croaked as she made her way to her desk. "I'm glad we are all here." Cullen managed to hold back the smart assed retort when he picked up on her emphasis of 'all.' Did the bitch really think I wouldn't come back? Did she think that I was too chicken shit? In truth, all Cullen had thought about was getting back into Miss Swan's class and showing her who was fucking boss. After Jake had left he had taken some time to think about how he was going to do just that without causing problems with his parole. He had been unsuccessful which in turn made him hate the bitch even more. He just wished his fucking dick would receive the memo already. Isabella distributed the A4 booklets and gave pens out to everyone before handing each of them a piece of paper with a poem printed on it. Cullen scoffed when he recognised the words and pushed it across his desk, not even willing to give it the time of day. He was so above this shit it was untrue. He was convinced she was trying to drive him insane on fucking purpose. "So, today we are going to start our poetry study which we will do for the next week before we start our Shakespeare play." Isabella rested her backside against her desk, still feeling her skin prickle but managing to keep her eyes off of the man sitting to her right. She had seen his reaction to the poem and had managed to stay quiet; biting her lip so hard she almost drew blood. She focused on getting her words out and not on the desire she had to glare at him or scowl or some other equally immature and inappropriate gesture she ruled the line under sticking her tongue out at him.

"I'd like to start by asking what you all know about poetry." Isabella gestured to everyone with open arms. The room remained silent. Emmett looked at the ceiling as if the answer was written there, while Tyler and Quil looked at her as if she had grown three heads. Sam kept his eyes on the desk in front of him, happy to keep quiet after the fiasco of yesterday's session. He hated confrontations. After an uncomfortable silence that Cullen thought was seriously going to kill him, Tyler slowly raised his hand, meeting Isabella's eyes with trepidation. "They can rhyme?" he asked cautiously. "They can, absolutely," she answered with a smile. "Just like the poem we will be studying, but that's not always the case." "They're always about pansy ass, pussy shit like love," Emmett moaned from his seat. Cullen smirked and looked over at him, diverting his eyes from Miss Swan, who he just knew was going to say something pretentious and self righteous - until he heard her laugh - and they flew the fuck back at her with the speed of metal to a magnet. ...the fuck? "That is true in some cases, Emmett, but not in this one," Isabella replied with a shake of her head as she continued to smile at him. "Would I do that to you," she pressed her palm to her chest, "give you pansy ass, pussy shit?" Emmett laughed loudly along with Tyler and Quil and raised his eyebrows in surprise. This was however nothing compared to the look of absolute fucking shock on Cullen's face. The fact that she had just uttered the word 'pussy' without balking or blushing or getting girly in any way made the hairs on his body stand on end and his cock twitch. He cleared his throat and rubbed his hand down his face in frustration. This woman was a goddamn enigma of epic, pain in the ass, proportions. "For fuck's sake," he muttered into his palms, feeling utterly perplexed by her and the reactions that were careening around his body. Isabella's head snapped towards him, her blood bubbling under her skin. "I'm sorry, Cullen, I didn't catch that." Her tone and sass slipped up his spine like an iced finger tip, making him shiver with...what the hell was that...? He dropped his hands to the desk and shot her a daggered glare that made Isabella's heart rate spike. "I said for fuck's sake," he repeated, annunciating every word as if she was fucking stupid which Cullen thought she was if she really wanted to start on him again this morning. Isabella continued to stare angrily at him and crossed her arms slowly over her chest, chanting silently at herself to calm down. "Is that right?" "Yep," he replied, popping the 'p' with enthusiasm.

"Hmm," Isabella hummed. "And may I ask why you feel the need to say that?" Only if you say pussy again... "You may," he retorted sarcastically as he leaned his forearm on the back of his chair and turned towards her. Isabella bit her tongue and blinked very slowly at him, knowing that she was playing right into his hands. And playing she was. Cullen was just waiting for the fuse to hit the powder. "Why did you say 'for fuck's sake'?" she asked through gritted teeth, the blood thundering around her head. Jesus...pussy and fuck...? Cullen took a deep breath through his nose and let it out oh so fucking slowly, loving the fact that she was almost shaking in anger as he took his sweet time. "Just...because," he answered with a shrug. He stared at her fuck hot bitch face and smiled his best panty wetting grin, hoping that it drove her to distraction. He wanted to see her fuse blow, he wanted to see her go fucking postal on him yeah, he was masochistic that way. They stared at each other, the electric rage between them almost visible against the bland white walls of the room. Everyone else around them, including Angela and Officer West, were lost in the moment, looking between the two of them, waiting for one to break. Like a car wreck; it was impossible to look away. Cullen was seconds from declaring victory on the whole fucking occasion after two minutes due to the fact that Miss Swan still hadn't reacted, when his ears were suddenly accosted by a loud laugh that originated from...fuck me...Miss Swan. She was almost buckled over in half as she laughed loud coughs of hilarity and small snorts that she tried to smother with the back of her hand. Tears filled her eyes as she giggled and barked out her laughter that was irritatingly contagious, making everyone else in the room (save for Cullen) sniggering and chuckling too. Cullen glanced around in utter confusion to see everyone else smiling at Miss Swan which tripled the frustration, fury and annoyance as quick as a bullet from a gun. Fuck this shit... He slammed his hand down, hard enough to split the cheap ass wood on the desk and shoved his chair back with such force that it moved the desk behind it. The whole room became silent except for Isabella's deep breaths that she was taking to try and calm her. She wiped the laughter tears from under her eyes with her finger tips and looked up towards Cullen. He was seething; that shit was pretty clear but Jesus if he didn't look fucking magnificent doing it. He waited until she had finally gotten a hold of her crazy ass self and took a deep breath.

"Something fucking funny?" he growled before shooting a glare at Officer West who had moved from his spot by the door. "Yes," Isabella answered, reining her hysterics in with lightning speed. "Something is very fucking funny." The fact that the smile on her face disappeared in an instant alerted Cullen to the fact that Miss Swan going postal, was not altogether impossible. She slammed the papers she was holding down on her own desk and placed her hands on her hips. "Care to share that shit?" Cullen continued taking a tentative step forwards, "Because I don't appreciate being left out of a joke that was obviously fucking hysterical." He gestured his hand towards Quil whose face dropped the minute their gazes met. He was intimidating her students again making Isabella twitch with anger. "You," she murmured through tight lips. "What?" Cullen asked with a confused frown. "You, Cullen, are who is funny," Isabella continued, her glare literally scorching through his clothes. Angela made to move from her seat but was held fast by a hand on her wrist that belonged to Emmett who shook his head no, when she cocked an eyebrow in question. She exhaled and looked back at Cullen who looked like he was just about ready to kill a motherfucker and shit if that wasn't the literal truth. He clenched his fists and gritted his teeth as he glowered at Isabella, fucking livid that he was in two minds as to whether he wanted to slap the bitch or fuck her until she screamed his name. "You were laughing at me?" he seethed, each word dripping with rage as it left his mouth. "That's right," she replied defiantly, feeling a thrill run through her when she noticed his eyes narrow at her words. "I was. Because, Cullen," she pointed at him, "you are one funny guy." Cullen blinked in disbelief. Is this woman for real...? "And how the fuck did you come to that conclusion, Miss Swan?" he snarled loudly, making everyone in the room flinch. "Come on now, Cullen," Officer West murmured softly as he glanced quickly at Isabella, utterly confused by the tiny woman and her apparent death wish. "Well, just listen to yourself," Isabella replied, ignoring the officer completely. "You think you're so above all this but when I actually ask you a question the best you can come up with is 'Just...because...' What the hell do you think this is sixth grade?" Her voice got gradually louder as she got to the end of her rant, as she struggled to keep her temper in check. Cullen threw an irate hand through the hair on his head and took a deep breath, allowing her question to filter through his brain, each word she had uttered, burning him from the inside like drops of acid. "I've said it before," Cullen muttered, dropping his eyes to the floor in an effort to cool himself. "And I'll say it again. Watch. Your. Fucking. Mouth."

Isabella smirked at his attempts to scare and intimidate her and took a step towards him, showing that she was neither. "And like I said before. You. Watch. Yours." Her defiant smirk and the way her eyes danced at him as she moved towards him were what flipped the switch on Cullen's fury. He put his hands under the edge of the desk in front of him and flung it hard towards the wall with an almighty roar, the sound of the wood hitting the plastic covered brick, echoing around the room like a death toll Everyone who had been sitting were immediately on their feet, with Officer West, grabbing his baton and lunging towards Cullen before he got closer to Isabella who was glued to the spot behind a psyched up Emmett. This was the shit Emmett was talking about. Not that he wanted to see Miss S in danger, far from it. He jus seemed to understand that Cullen as unhinged as his moods were wouldn't intentionally hurt her. Something in the way his jaw tensed and his eyes danced made him think that as with many things with Cullen it was all for show. Isabella watched in alarm around Emmett's shoulder as Cullen tried to grab at the chair he had been sitting on, being stopped by Officer West, who threw him against the wall. Two more officers were suddenly in the room called by the panic alarm that had been hit by Angela - and were upon him in a second. Isabella flinched as she heard Cullen's grunts and curses when they pushed and pummelled him hard while cuffing him. "Ah...fucker, that's my fucking wrist!" he yelled into the face of one of the officers, before being slammed into the wall again, face first. Isabella watched in shock as the officer twisted his wrist further with a sadistic smile on his face, making Cullen groan in pain. That shit was just not fair...or right... "Hey!" she cried out, whipping under Emmett's arm, past Tyler, Sam and a laughing Quil and storming over to the rabble of breathless and angry men. Cullen, whose left cheek was pressed into the wall, eyed Miss Swan furiously as she put her hands back on her hips and scowled at the fuck wit who had tried to snap the bone in his wrist. "I saw that," she fumed, pointing towards Cullen's cuffs. "You don't need to hurt him like that. It's unnecessary." "Oh, Miss Swan, it's very necessary," the officer retorted with a hard voice that came from beating little fuckers like Cullen up for over a decade. "You need to keep them in check, see," he continued, pulling Cullen into an upright position. Cullen groaned as he did, feeling a dull ache in his left side which he knew came from the baton that crashed into him there. Isabella gasped when she noticed a ring of blood that outlined his left nostril which had begun to run down his lip. "He's bleeding!" "He's fine," the asshole guard barked with wide eyes. He pulled Cullen along with another guard but was halted by Isabella's hand on his chest.

"Wait!" She paused for a quick second before going to her purse and retrieving a pack of tissues. She pulled one out and walked back towards Cullen whose face read a million and one different things. The most prevalent at that point being 'What. The. Fuck?' He started to protest as her hand moved towards his face. "You don't need to fucking..." "Shut up and let me help you," Isabella hissed with a finality and insistence that shut Cullen's mouth with a snap. He took a deep breath, holding back his retort, as the tissue in her hand swiped at the blood because, if he was honest, he didn't want fucking blood all over him. He kept his eyes firmly on Isabella's face and the look of resolve that lay there. Yeah, she is a stubborn one, he'd give her that. Andfucking beautiful... He let his eyes move slowly around her face from her hairline to her eyes that seemed softer somehow. The fire was still there, of that Cullen was damn fucking sure, only now it looked like it smouldered instead of blazed. He wasn't sure which he preferred more but he knew, without doubt, that both made his cock twitch and his heart beat like a goddamn Daytona racer. His eyes continued to travel down her nose and to her mouth. He smirked when he saw her start to bite her lip as she moved the tissue past his own, to his chin where the blood had run, intrigued and frustrated to all hell that he didn't know what she was thinking. She wiped gently but determinedly until he looked a damn sight better than he had done after the officers had manhandled him so aggressively. Yes, he was a conceited prick but he hadn't deserved their treatment. She looked intently around his face and noticed a mark starting to appear on his cheek. The speed at which she pulled her hand away from him surprised Cullen to shit, but not as much as the urge to touch his face had been for Isabella. She cleared her throat of her stupidity and dropped her eyes from his. "All done," she muttered quietly as she wiped a spot of blood that had landed on her thumb. Cullen frowned down at her, suddenly feeling exceedingly pissed that she was neither looking at him nor snapping at his ass. Her timid side apparently angered him. He opened his mouth to say something smart about it but the words seemed to stick in his throat. Instead he rolled his eyes in her direction and scoffed. "Whatever," he muttered before the three guards marched him past her and out of the classroom. Isabella sighed as she watched their retreating forms and threw the bloodied tissue hard into the trash can. =PoF= Mike Newton's head the following morning felt like it had been stamped on by a stiletto wearing elephant. He was stressed and needed a fucking vacation. The stress was mainly from work. Dealing with fucking idiots like Edward Cullen and running the education department as it should be was tough but it was definitely not being helped by the cold shouldered silence that he was receiving from his wife.

He had no clue what her fucking problem was and try as he might; he couldn't coax it from her either. They hadn't had slept together in two weeks and Newton was convinced his dick was just about ready to drop off in search of a more exciting sex life. He had whacked off in the shower every day. Trying to relieve some of the tension by picturing Isabella Swan and he locked in a cell with nothing but each other to keep warm. It worked like a charm every time, so much so in fact that he had locked his office door that previous afternoon and thought about it again which was unheard of for him. He had been in a mellow, relaxed state until he had received a call that Cullen had gone fucking nuts again in Miss Swan's class. The guy had a serious problem; especially if he thought he would be achieving early parole when he behaved like a fucking thug. He was confined and his councillor was called. Newton didn't need that shit; out of sight out of mind. He dressed for work as he did every morning, sliding into another new suit that he thought offset the blue in his eyes nicely. He smiled at himself in the mirror and tweaked the piece of hair that was gelled rock hard at the front of his head. Yeah, he still had it... His wife, Jessica, had already left for the day, leaving him cold buttered toast and tepid coffee for his breakfast. He pushed the toast into the trash and poured the coffee away with annoyance, grumbling to himself about why she even bothered her ass. He'd grab something on the way to work like he always did anyway. He picked up his briefcase and keys and walked out of the front door after setting the house alarm, closing his eyes gently against the hot New York sun. He opened them back up as he skipped down the six steps of his Brownstone before skidding to an abrupt halt when he laid eyes on his car, or rather, what was left of his car. How the hell the alarm hadn't gone off he had no clue, let alone how the fuck no one had seen anything and alerted him to it. He looked in a daze up and down his street to see one small ginger cat strut indifferently towards him up the sidewalk. He dropped his chin and let his gaze come back to his Mercedesand the shattered glass, smeared black paint, buckled metal and wheel arches that were nowwithout wheels; feeling his eyes sting with fury. He'd only had the car for three fucking months bought new after his last car was stolen and found burnt out and abandoned two days later behind a warehouse in Queens... He flipped his phone open slowly and dialled 911. Today was going to be a long fucking day. Chapter 5: Truce noun 1. a suspension of hostilities for a specified period of time by mutual agreement of the warring parties; cease-fire; armistice. 2 .an agreement or treaty establishing this. 3. a temporary respite, as from trouble or pain.

Isabella rolled over and shut the alarm off before it even turned on. She was wide awake and had been for over an hour. She rolled back into the position she had been lying in for that duration of time and with a grimace and a deep laboured breath, while analysing the swirls of paint that covered her bedroom ceiling, continued to contemplate the events of the previous twenty-four hours To say that she was confused would have been a gross understatement. Even though there were definite elements of the confused about her, it wasn't a big enough word to describe what and how she was feeling. Discombobulated was a longer, bigger word but again it just didn't fit. Isabella had been running words mostly adjectives through her head, trying to find one that would sum up the torrent of...whatever it was that was driving her damn near distraction. She felt lost, angry, frustrated and completely exhausted and that was only the tip of the proverbial emotional iceberg. She had tossed and turned all night (thankfully without her nightmares) thinking, cogitating and deliberating about what her next move would be in order to correct the clusterfuck that was her relationship with her student, Cullen. But even with eight hours of rumination she was still no closer to knowing what the best course of action was. The one thing that she was sure about was the fact that the second lesson with Cullen had been a complete fucking disaster - and that was putting it mildly. She had tried to be calm God how she'd tried but it just wasn't enough. She had still managed to become totally enraged by him and his Idon't-give-a-flying-fuck attitude. If Isabella had been a betting woman she would have bet her entire fortune that she and Cullen could have spent longer than fifteen minutes in a room together without one of them bleeding or screaming at the other. She breathed a sigh of relief that her father's gambling tendencies had not been genetic. It had, she mused, started well, until he made some asshole comment about the work and she had been unable to keep her shit together. She felt as though he had a remote control that was tuned into her adrenal gland and that every time he spoke or moved or did fucking anything; he was affecting that in some way. The feeling of utter helplessness against her own emotions when she was near him was something that terrified and excited Isabella in equal measure. The people closest to her knew that being in control of all aspects of her life was one thing that Isabella was always adamant about. Having experienced what she had through the loss of her father and having no control over the whole tragic episode, she had become exceptionally determined and at her very worst, stubborn as hell. Cullen, it seemed, had the key to that very part of her and she wanted it back. She had no idea what it was about him that made her so on edge so not in control. He was, after all, just like the other four men that she taught. Well, that wasn't exactly true; he was a lot more combative and exceedingly more aggressive and she winced at the thought he was a lot more attractive too. She had tried to not see him in any other way than her student (and a criminal one at that) but it was hard to ignore the height, hard edges and beauty of the man who drove her crazy. His face was that of a sculpture; chiselled and defined, from his high forehead, to his cheek bones, all the way to his jaw that could cut through glass. He oozed strength and masculinity and Isabella could no longer deny that that aspect of Cullen was starting to affect her more and more. The overwhelming urge to touch the bruise that was forming on his cheek from where it had met the wall had shocked the hell out of her.

She suddenly seemed to have no power over her hand or its intentions as it had started to move towards his face just under his eye, where his bone jutted out in all its sculptured glory. She wanted to ease the redness of it through her finger tips and sooth the ache that she just knew was burning under his skin, but she couldn't. She wouldn't. She ran the same finger tips across her clammy forehead as she remembered the way he had looked at her when she had offered to help clean the blood that was running down his face. She could see that he was disgusted at first. And then, through her touch and sassy response to his manly bullshit, he seemed to realise that she was just trying to help. And that's all she had been doing. At least that's what she kept telling herself. She had focused hard on wiping the blood away - watching the swiping motion of the tissue - but she had felt every movement he had made as she did. Every time he took a breath and it whispered across her hand under his nose, she swallowed and every time his mouth twitched into one of his smart ass smirks she felt her lungs squeeze and her heart slam against her rib cage. He was such an asshole... With a gasp, Isabella realised that the warmth that had appeared in her stomach from her memories had spread between her legs, making her flesh tingle and twitch inside and out. With her head pressed into her pillow, she closed her eyes and bit her lip, trying to calm her body down. But the more she tried, the more she remembered the feel of his eyes on her face as she cleaned him. Jesus, it was almost as if they burned a trail of scorching white heat wherever they landed on her body, making her breathless and undeniably wet. Just as she was at that moment. She groaned and clenched her eyes tighter, desperate to ignore the desire to touch herself and release the pressure that was building with light speed between her thighs. Isabella hated him for it. She hated the person she became when she was near him. She hated the lack of control that she felt, she even hated that she cared enough to help him when he was bloody and she fucking hated that he could make her wetter than she had ever been in her life, even when he wasn't in the same fucking room! She rubbed her palms down her face and groaned into her skin. She knew better than to get involved in any way - other than professional - with any person that she taught; man, woman or child. She knew that she loved her job too much to put it in any kind of jeopardy by examining these reactions any more than was entirely necessary. She was an adult professional and no one, not even Cullen could make her forget that. Isabella ran her hands through her hair until they were behind her head and sighed long and deep, because the truth was, no matter what she tried to convince herself of, there was still oneundeniable certainty. She simply could not overlook the fact that she liked the feel of Cullen's eyes on her.

She liked the way that he looked at her while she was cleaning him. She liked the feel of his stare when she pissed him off and she liked the fire behind the green that seemed to become an all out inferno when she called him out on his bullshit. Maybe she was sadistic but there was no denying that Cullen was at his most beautiful when he was furious. His rage seemed to make his skin glow and the frown lines - that Isabella imagined were indentations caused by his hatred for everything around him - dissolved, leaving his face serene and flawless. He was, in those moments, the most breathtaking creature she had ever seen and it frightened her to death. As scared as she was when he had flung the table at the wall during her class, she had been unable to tear her eyes from him, watching with fascination as the beast inside him roared in anger. It was a sound that made her ribs vibrate and her pupils dilate. He was animalistic and for that brief time utterly un-caged and that thought alone made parts of Isabella's body come alive in spectacular fashion. Maybe that was why she had disliked the guard's treatment of him so much? Maybe he was meant to be unleashed in that way? Isabella had to admit to herself that it was the side of Cullen that she desired and detested with equal fervour. But no matter what her body thought of the matter, Isabella knew with her head that the guard twisting his wrist was completely uncalled for. Cullen hadn't deserved that. And she would tell Mike Newton that very thing when she got to work But for whatever reason, Mike Newton was not at work when she got there, so instead, feeling a little disheartened and still a lot confused, Isabella began setting up her classroom for the next session, trying her hardest not to think about whether Cullen would even turn up or if he was even allowed to. She pulled at the hem of her blouse in frustration as she realised the part of her that wanted him in her classroom far outweighed the part that didn't and cursed out loudly in irritation. "Wrong side of the bed this morning?" Angela's voice floated from the doorway clearing Isabella's head for all of five seconds before the battle within it started again in earnest. She smiled gently and raised her eyebrows, unable to articulate correctly why she was cursing to an empty room. It didn't matter to Angela that Isabella couldn't explain why she looked so flustered and tired. She knew what or rather who the reason was because he was looking exactly the same. He just hid it slightly better. Angela had seen Cullen when she had been called by Mike Newton to sit in, as witness (along with Garrett) on the discussion of his future in any or all of Miss Swan's lessons. Cullen, as expected, said very little and simply snarled and grunted responses when it was decided that he would be removed permanently from Miss Swan's lessons and all others until he learned to "keep his temper." Angela had rolled her eyes at Newton's words, knowing full well that there was no way in hell that Cullen could promise such a thing. For fuck's sake the man had been to more anger therapy sessions than she had had hot meals and there was still no difference in him. He was a live wire, a hot-head - pick your clich but Angela knew beneath it all he wasn't a bad guy. He made stupid fucking choices but he wasn't a bad person and if she was honest the way that he acted with Isabella was unlike anything she had seen from him before. He was angry and aggressive, of course, that was his ammo. But underneath that, she had seen glints of something else...the way he looked at Isabella...Angela couldn't help but hope that one day a man would look at her in that way.

Ice and fire...passion and fury... Isabella, who was oblivious to Angela's views on her and Cullen's interactions, had been more than a little pissed that she had not been asked to sit in on the meeting, but Newton had told her not to worry and that he would 'handle' it. She had eyed him suspiciously, aggravated by his condescending and lecherous hand on her shoulder and begrudgingly agreed. It may have been a bad idea to be in the same room with Cullen so soon after he had thrown a table across her room anyway, even if a part o her wanted to be. "So how did it go?" Isabella asked quickly, seeing that they had five minutes before her students were brought in. She would much rather be prepared if Cullen would be attending. Her body's reactions to him could be slightly more controlled if she was anticipating his presence. She smiled sarcastically to herself. Who the fuck are you kidding, Swan? The guy has the map and instruction manual of every button in your body... "He's been removed," Angela answered plainly while placing her bag on her seat. "Newton told him that his temper is out of control and that he is a danger to himself and others." Isabella winced at the words. She knew as well as Angela did that Cullen didn't really pose too much of a danger. If anything, it was his danger that seemed to draw Isabella in...Because shewas drawn in by him...she couldn't deny that anymore. "Shit," she muttered towards her feet, while feeling strangely disappointed. "How did he take it?" Angela gave her a meagre smile. "As Cullen always does; a few curses and a growl." Isabella couldn't help but smile back at that, picturing him doing exactly that while sitting in her classroom. Angela cleared her throat and took a step towards her. "This is going to affect his parole," she said softly with regret. Isabella's eyebrows lifted in suprise. She didn't even know he'd been considered for it. Angela went on to explain how Cullen had been enrolled in her classes to prove to the courts that he could make improvements in his rehabilitation and that he could 'better' himself inside. Isabella found that particular phrasing offensive in the extreme. Of course the guy was a difficult pain in the ass but it wouldn't hurt if he wasn't treated the way he was by the guards and Mike Newton, she thought. Maybe then they would see some improvement in him? Maybe if she hadn't baited him...? She suddenly felt a sharp pang of guilt. She was there to teach and help and nurture and all she had done was rile and potentially affect her student's parole. She had behaved utterly unprofessional in the way se had goaded and provoked him. She herself the teacher, the one who was meant to diffuse and calm - was causing problems with her inability to keep her head around Cullen. She shook her head at her own stupidity and recklessness and gripped the edge of the table that she was leaning against. She realised she needed to pull herself together quick and do something more positive. "When is his parole up for review?" Isabella asked, crossing her arms slowly over her chest.

Angela looked at her for a beat, considering the change of light in her eyes before she answered, "His parole officer comes in next week but his review with the board..." she shrugged, "End of the summer?" Isabella's new found need to work with Cullen instead of against him while arguing and aggravating surprised Isabella. She had known him all of two days, spoken maybe a dozen words to him, mostly through gritted teeth and rage, but still, she knew, deep down - somewhere in her stomach - that there was something about him, something more, something that set him apart from the other students in her class. Something that called to her in a way she had never experienced. He was stubborn as a mule, frustrating as all hell and had a self righteousness that would force any sane person to drink. But in spite of all that, Isabella had the overwhelming desire to put things right; to help. That was her debt after all. Isabella nodded in resolve and ran a determined hand through her hair. "What?" Angela asked with a smile, seeing the spark in Isabella's eyes that had been dull when she first entered the room. "What are you thinking?" Isabella smiled in response, feeling her own fortitude and tenacity rise to the surface of her now hot skin. "I'm thinking," she started with a small smirk, "that Mr Cullen is just going have to start dealing with being around me more often." =PoF= "Harder!" Cullen grunted. "I said harder you fucking pussy. I didn't feel a fucking thing!" Cullen grunted again, louder this time as his curled up fist slammed hard into the red protective shield that the prison's gym officer, Alec Parker, was holding in front of his chest. "Fuck's sake my three year old hits harder than that shit and she's a girl! Again!" Cullen's eyes clenched and his knuckles turned the same shade of white as the bandages around them as, with a terrifying roar, he began pummelling the shield with everything that he had inside of him. The hate, anger, desire, need, frustration and want burst from him through his fists with such force that Alec found himself walking backwards. This was what he wanted to see... After thirty seconds, Cullen's bare arms began to slow as the adrenaline and burn began through his inked shoulders, down his equally patterned biceps and into his forearms that screamed under the relentless pounding that they were receiving. He gasped, groaned and panted and almost kissed Parker's ugly ass face when he told him he was done. He loved the work out. It was the only part of his anger management that he really enjoyed. The in house shrink had suggested that Parker work with Cullen after one of his notorious tantrums, to try and vent some of the tension that he was feeling. It worked somewhat but still couldn't be beaten by

the euphoric glow after a good fuck which, Cullen realised more and more, he was goddamn desperate for. Who with exactly, was a bone of contention that Cullen had been chomping on for over twenty-four hours. He slumped against the blue mat that he had been standing on and lay on his back, feeling his chest rise and fall like a fucking trampoline. He really needed to quit fucking smoking. His knuckles smarted and his face throbbed from where the fat fucker guard had smashed him into the wall during Miss Swan's class. He was drenched with sweat and could feel it running under him like a gross snail line. Even without a t-shirt on, Parker's workouts made his entire body steam. "You did good," Alec muttered, peering over Cullen's limp body holding out a bottle of water. "You nearly fucking killed me," Cullen replied dryly, taking it from him with a shaking hand. He groaned as he sat up, feeling his muscles protest immediately and downed half of the bottle in three giant gulps, dribbling some down his back in an attempt to ease the heat. "Jesus, Parker, I think I've aged fifty fucking years." Cullen rubbed his neck for effect. Parker simply rolled his eyes sarcastically and signed and dated the session sheet on his clipboard that needed to be given to the shrink. "You need to quit fucking smoking," Parker grumbled as he clicked the end of his pen and slid it back into his pocket. Cullen laughed and nodded in agreement. "You pushed hard though," Parker continued, knowing that he was about to enter dangerous territory, "More than usual. Something on your mind?" Parker and Cullen had built up a fairly straightforward relationship over the seven months that they had been working together. Cullen respected Parker's no bullshit attitude and he liked the way he demanded more from him without being a pussy about it like Mike fucking Newton. Plus, he kept him fit. But Cullen wasn't entirely convinced that he could tell him what he wanted to know. He scoffed inwardly because Jesus fuck if even he knew what he could say to describe the carnival that was currently taking place inside his head. His last session with Miss Swan had been a fucking nightmare at best. He had lost his shit with her because she was acting like a fucking know-it-all-prissy-righteous-bitch. As. Per. Fucking. Usual. He clenched his teeth at the memory; Parker, noticing the tension in his jaw immediately and bristled slightly at the potential blow back he was about to receive, but Cullen was too oblivious to his trainer's worries and was entirely too busy mulling over what had occurred. He was truthfully amazed that it was only a table that he had thrown against the wall when Miss Swan had done what she had because he honestly wanted to rip the entire fucking room to pieces. She had fucking laughed at him. Laughed. At. Him.

He had never in his life been so angry, so completely filled with rage that the only way for it to manifest itself was to pick up the table and hurl it as hard as he could. In retrospect it was a fucking dumb idea but he had had no control of himself at all. He knew that it would lead to a serious conversation with Garrett and he would pull out his fucking 'I'm disappointed' hat and wear it all day long which he had. And he knew that Newton would have something prick-like to say but truthfully, Cullen really couldn't have given two flying fucks about what he thought or said. The one thing that did bother him however and had been since he walked from Newton's office after the 'incident meeting,' was the fact that he had been banned from Miss Swan's lessons indefinitely. He wasn't allowed near her or her lessons in fact and for some reason, that was not sitting well with him. The irony was not lost on him at all. He had bitched and moaned about being enrolled in a class. He had complained and kicked up a fuss with Garrett, Newton and his parole officer but it had had no effect. Yet, here he was, confused as all hell because a part of him wanted to be in her class, listening to her wax lyrical about poetry and shit that he already knew. He wanted to sit in his seat at the front of her class and stare at her, trying to intimidate her. Fuck, he'd even go so far as to have her shout at him again because shit if that wasn't the hottest thing ever. Miss Swan was well and truly inside his head and he wasn't sure whether to be truly disturbed or delighted by it. He hardly knew her, had hardly spoken to her, yet he couldn't get her face or more irritatingly her laugh out of his head. For something that had made him act like a complete fucking psycho her laugh was undeniably...nice. He huffed and supped the last dregs of his water out of the bottle before launching it towards the garbage can where it landed with a crash. "Nothing important," he muttered, avoiding Parker's gaze. Parker frowned, hesitatingly slightly before taking a step towards Cullen and sitting down next to him on the mat with a thump. This was unchartered territory for the two men and the uncomfortable expression on Cullen's face said it all. "I heard about your...episodein Miss Swan's class," Parker offered diplomatically. Cullen's face immediately went grave with Parker practically seeing the hackles rise on his back. He held up his hands in peace. "Hey, man, no judgement here." Cullen took a breath and dropped his eyes from Parker's quickly before he saw the uneasiness there. He leaned over and grabbed the t-shirt that he had dragged off of himself only fifteen minutes into their session and used it to rub his face and chest before exhaling loudly down his nose. Parker waited. "It's just," Cullen began, having no clue what he was about to say. "Straight off, I don't give a shit about these fucking lessons. I mean, I'm not stupid, I read shit and I know what I know butI have to do them for my parole." Parker remained quiet, silently amazed that Cullen was even talking to him, let alone about the topic at hand. Cullen appreciated his quiet. "But this woman" He stopped himself quickly, wanting nothing more than to bite his own fucking tongue off. Parker noticed the pinch in Cullen's face so didn't ask him to continue.

"I don't know," Cullen finished quietly, more to himself than to the man sitting to his right. It was the most honest and best explanation he could give because he didn't know. He didn't know why he wanted to be back in Miss Swan's class. He didn't know why she made him feel the way he did, all rage and passion and he didn't know why she had cleaned him when he was bleeding. The one thing he did know was that he liked it. He liked her doing it and he liked her being so close to him. It had given him a chance to look at her properly. She was beautiful, he couldn't deny that shit. He had seen many beautiful women and been with even more but there was something different about Miss Swan's beauty. She was natural, wore hardly any make-up and he was damn sure her tits were what God had given her. He'd thought about touching them... His mind it seemed was still being ruled by his cock and Miss Swan's apparent libido voodoo shit. He realised at that moment that he had been hard almost the entire time he was near her.That was fucked up. The one thing that did puzzle him the most however was why she would want to help him in the first place. He had to admit, he had been nothing but a complete and utter asshole punk the whole hour and twenty minutes that they had been in each others company. (He refused to acknowledge the fact that he knew the exact time scale.) Why the hell had she acted that way, cleaning him and shouting at the guard; not that he didn't appreciate that shit? He just couldn't figure her out but he was almost insane with wanting the opportunity to do so. But, he fumed silently; the table incident had put a stop to that. He was mad at himself for allowing her to affect him in that way but mostly he was mad that he had responded in such a way. His parole officer was going to be pissed. Parker watched with sympathetic and incredulous eyes as Cullen fell back onto the mat with a curse and a moan of complete frustration. =PoF= Mike Newton threw his briefcase down on his desk hard while keeping his phone glued to his ear. "I don't give a shit!" he yelled, feeling the vein in his forehead expand. "I want to know what I can do to prove that it was Cullen's fuckers that did it!" Private Investigator Joseph Jenks sighed in exasperation and ran his palm down the bare back of his wife as she slept off their morning lovemaking at his side. She had such beautiful, soft skin. "Watch what you say over the phone, accusations at this point are worthless. Calm the fuck down, Newton," he grumbled. Newton pinched the bridge of his nose. "Calm down? Calm down? The bastards have destroyed two $40,000 cars in as many months! Do your job and find out who's behind it and then maybe, just maybe I'll calm down!" He went to slam the phone down then remembered quickly that he was talking on his cell. His thumb almost cracked the screen as he pressed the end call before throwing it so that it span awkwardly across his desk before slamming against his computer. A timid knock on the door made his head snap up, "What!"

The pale face of his assistant poked through the small gap between the door and the frame, her blue eyes etched with trepidation. "Um...I have Miss Swan here to see you if you have a moment?" Newton straightened up immediately, cleared his throat and adjusted his tie. "Yeah, send her in," he replied quickly with a wave of his hand. At last something to brighten up his fucked up morning. Isabella walked past Newton's assistant, sending her a sympathetic look that she had to put up with his grouchy, smarmy ass day in and day out. She nodded knowingly in response and set off back to her desk where she was determined to hide for the rest of the afternoon. "Good morning, Miss Swan," Newton offered as Isabella walked towards his desk, gesturing towards the chair at the other side of his desk. He watched as she sat down and crossed her legs, feeling his cheeks tinge pink when he remembered the fantasy of those same legs wrapped around him that he had while he was in the shower that morning. He'd cum like a fucking freight train "Good morning," she replied. "Is everything ok?" she asked as she took in his slightly ruffled appearance. Newton once again straightened his tie and checked the sleeves of his shirt before he took his own seat, "Oh yeah, yeah just some...car trouble this morning." His smile was tight and it didn't reach his eyes. There was a pause while Isabella nodded slowly, knowing there was something more while Newton stared right back offering nothing else. "So," he said while patting his palms on the desk. "What can I do for you?" "Well," Isabella started with a hand through her hair. She was slightly nervous about her proposal to Newton but she knew what she had to do to achieve the outcome that she wanted. "I heard that the incident with Cullen yesterday could affect his application for early parole." "There's no could about it," Newton answered brusquely, making a mental note to ask Angela why she thought to divulge that piece of information. "He's not going anywhere for the next nine months." Something in his tone - a pleasure, maybe - set Isabella on edge. "Yes," she countered, keeping her tone as pleasant as possible. "Well, I understand that he has a meeting with his parole officer next week." "Monday," Newton nodded confused as to why that would interest her. Where the hell is she going with this? "And I also understand that it isn't just good behaviour that can affect the decision of the parole committee when they meet in September." Isabella's eyebrow cocked when she saw the look of surprise that washed over Newton's face. Yes, I've been doing my homework... He sat forward in his seat and rested his elbows on the desk deciding that being frank with her would be the only way of finding out what she wanted. His gut told him that he wasn't going to like it one bit. "Miss Swan, where are you going with this?"

Isabella didn't miss a beat. "I have taken the liberty of setting up a meeting with Cullen's corrections councillor, Garrett Volture this afternoon and would very much like to speak with his parole officer when she arrives on Monday. I know either yourself or Garrett can arrange that for me..." Newton held a hand up to stop her becoming impatient as he was known to do. What. The. Fuck? "I'm sorry but I have to ask again. Where are you going with this, Miss Swan?" Isabella swallowed and sat herself forward too. "I want to tutor Cullen," she answered determinedly. For a moment Newton looked utterly perplexed. "You did," he countered slyly, "and he has been removed because it's apparent to everyone that you two don't get on." Isabella ignored the slight sting in his tone and pushed on. "That may be so but I can't help feeling that I maybe wasn't as...patient as I should have been with him." She knew it was an understatement but Newton didn't. He simply thought she was completely bat shit crazy. Isabella carried on regardless. "I want to help him in any way I can. I also know that he has been banned from all other subjects too so his options are minimal." Fucking Angela and her fat mouth, Newton seethed. Isabella noticed the red tips of his ears as he clasped his hands under his chin. "I think that if I can get Cullen on a one to one," she continued. "Then the chances of him going off will significantly reduce." Isabella had considered this particular point in detail before she entered Newton's office. The fact that Cullen intimidated her students was one of the reasons that she lost her shit with him. If it was just the two of them then that would surely make things better, right? Jesus, I hope so Newton slumped back in his chair and rubbed his eyes with the tips of his fingers. He was utterly lost and mystified and really had no idea what the hell Isabella thought she was doing. "Miss Swan," he muttered quickly. "Just to clarify here," Isabella nodded, ignoring the patronising undertones as Newton pressed his index finger to his desk. "You want to tutor Cullen...on a one to one...because you want to help him with his application for early parole?" Isabella paused for a moment letting his words sink in, making sure that she had covered everything. She nodded and smiled when she realised she had. Newton stared at her incredulously. Why the hell does she want to do this? Cullen is an asshole punk who almost carved an Isabella Swan shape in her own classroom wall when his temper hit. What would possess her to be in a room on a one to one with him? He shook his head firmly. "I can't allow it," he stated with finality. It was unfortunate for Newton that the word 'can't' was not part of Isabella's vocabulary especially when she wanted something. "Hmm," she mused, chewing on the inside of her mouth with irritation. "Can I ask why?"

Newton bit his tongue at her sassy tone, knowing that she could very well hand him his ass on a plate but that was overshadowed by the fact that she was attempting to do that in his own office, making his blood start to boil. He smirked sardonically and straightened his shoulders. "I cannot authorise you to be put in a room with Cullen alone..." "There would be a guard," she interrupted quickly. Newton exhaled in annoyance at the silly little girl in front of him. "Splitting hairs aside, Miss Swan, you have been hired by the facility to teach a group of inmates during an allotted time. On a timetable. Not to work as a one to one tutor." He lifted his hands to the heavens in mock sympathy. "It's not in your contract and the facility can't afford to pay you extra for this." Isabella smiled at Newton but it was in no way a pleasant one. She knew he would take this angle and knew without doubt that it made no difference whatsoever to her whether she got paid to do the job or not. As a rule, she never spoke about her wealth, as in the past it had made people uncomfortable, but with Mike Newton, it wouldn't bother her one iota whether he got uncomfortable or not. "Mr Newton," she began with a wry tone and an unwavering stare that made him shift uneasily in his seat. "You and I both know that the money side of things isn't an issue." It may have been bordering on conceited when put that way but Isabella was tired of playing Newton's petty, I-amomnipotent game. "I'm not doing this for the money," she spat at him, hiding it behind a tight lipped smile. I have to do it Newton sat back in his seat so that it swung backwards then forwards like a goddamn Weeble. He observed the woman in front of him seriously. If she wasn't doing it for the money then whatwas she doing it for? He had it on good authority that she and Cullen, had done nothing but bicker and fight, the entire time they were in each others presence. What made him so special that she would use her spare time to 'help' him? Because, as Newton thought about it more, he would be damned if she was doing this shit on his time if at all. "I have to admit I'm puzzled here, Miss Swan," he said after a tense moment of silence. "You seemed to detest each other on sight. What exactly would you be doing this for? What would yoube getting out of it?" She tried to ignore the sarcasm and insinuation in his voice and folded her hands together on her lap. "I am a teacher so by definition my job is to teach. That's all I want to do. Cullen obviously finds it difficult to be in a classroom environment with other students so the only solution is to take him out of it." Her glare became fierce. "I believe I can help him and his learning will be all I will get out of it." Newton held back his eye roll. "Besides," Isabella continued, deciding to hit his pride. "If he gets granted his early parole, won't that make your life easier?" She knew that he and Cullen had a worse relationship than she did and she also know from small tid-bits of information from Angela that Cullen's attitude drove him up the wall. Newton smirked as the same thought passed through his own head before muttering, "If only," as he thought about the ton of mangled Mercedes metal that was now sitting in the police impound. He

rubbed his hands down his face and sighed. "I still have to say no, Miss Swan. It just raises too many questions and the extra guard time" "Yes," Isabella snapped, feeling her patience storm out of the door she had entered not ten minutes before. "Talking of guards, has the guard who assaulted Cullen been reprimanded in any way?" Newton bit back a curse and kept his eyes firmly on Isabella's. Fuck. "Assaulted?" He asked, knowing exactly what and who she was referring to. "Yes," Isabella replied, narrowing her eyes at the guilt on his face. "He twisted Cullen's wrist in a purely aggressive way. It was completely unnecessary and utterly antagonistic. I was shocked." She sat wide eyed with a hand on her chest to signify (only slightly embellished) the shock she felt. She may have been pushing it but she wanted Newton to receive the message loud and clear. She knew that nothing had been done about it, even though it would have been caught on the security cameras from her classroom. "I see," Newton murmured through gritted teeth. "Well, of course we do not tolerate any violence against any inmate at Arthur Kill. I will look into it." "Good," Isabella replied without moving her lips. The gloves were off Isabella knew as well as Newton did that she had big friends in very high political places and that it would only take one phone call for those same friends to be all over Newton's ass. He cleared his throat and pursed his lips. Clever girl "If I agree to this," he offered with disdain and a dismissive wave of his hand, whole ignoring the invisible noose that Isabella had begun to tie around his neck. "What makes you think that Cullen will even go for it? He is known to be a stubborn pain in the ass as you well know." Isabella smiled slightly at that. "I'm sure if you let me talk to him about it and let him see that I am only trying to help then he may see past his pride and accept it. If not," she shrugged. "I won't mention it again. You have my word." "And this is done on your own time. No payment," Newton reinforced with an index finger pointed at Isabella. "Absolutely," she agreed, wanting nothing more than to rip said finger from its socket. "And I'll give you a schedule so that you can arrange the guard. Preferably not the one who assaulted my student?" She added on quickly. Newton heard her final warning and glowered, "Fine." "Great," Isabella smiled with a clap of her palms onto her thighs. "I'm meeting with Garrett at two. Can I have access to Cullen? I'd like this cleared up before I leave for the weekend, before his parole officer comes on Monday." Anything else? Newton huffed and folded his arms in front of his chest. "Have them radio me down and I'll see he gets to you."

Isabella nodded and walked towards his office door. "Thanks, Mr. Newton," she said with a sugary sweet smile that made Newton's teeth ache before she left, closing the door hard behind her. Swan 1 Newton 0 =PoF= Later that afternoon, Garrett Volture listened with rapt attention to the pretty brunette sitting across from him as she relayed her proposal to him in detail. He was exceedingly intrigued when he had gotten a call at his office requesting a meet with Miss Isabella Swan. His first instinct of course was that she wanted to log a complaint against Edward and his behaviour - and he wouldn't have blamed her - so it was a slight understatement to say that he was shocked as hell when she told him that she wanted to tutor him in order to help his parole application. Even though Garrett wasn't wholly convince that it would make much of a difference - knowing the self righteous prigs who ran the parole board - the passion and determination in the small woman before him made him agree with her plan entirely. Whether Edward would go for it was another matter altogether. His temper was always getting him into shit that Garrett had to get him out of and the incident with the table was no exception. Being banned from lessons was a huge blow to the parole application so he was all for hugging Miss Swan to death when she had offered to help. "I have to say I'm amazed Mike Newton went for this," Garrett smiled as he sipped from his coffee cup, grimacing at the shitty taste of the machine filtered mixture. Isabella laughed lightly. "Well, let's just say I know how the game is played." Garrett's eyes and grin widened, liking Miss Swan more and more. It was about time Newton was put in his place. "Is that so?" he asked rhetorically with a nod. Isabella nodded in answer behind her own cup and said no more about it. She should have felt guilty for playing the guard card but in truth, Isabella was proud of herself. Newton was showing himself to be a complete slime ball and Isabella wasn't above reminding him of her contacts just to keep him in place. Her father had always taught her to be modest about their stature and connections but she knew without doubt that he would have supported her game plan 100%. She was doing what she had promised him; she was helping. The door to the bland, airless room they were seated in opened quickly and a resigned looking Cullen appeared, followed by two guards and a severely pissed looking Newton. "Hi, Edward," Garrett offered as he stood, surprising Isabella with the use of his first name. She remembered him being exceedingly sensitive about it when Newton had used it. "Hey," he muttered with a breath before his eyes swept slowly over to Isabella. She felt the heat in her cheeks almost immediately as she shifted under his intense gaze. "Miss Swan," he offered with a cocked eyebrow, his demeanour changing lightning fast. Fuck, he's such a cocky ass

She inhaled through her nose to gain back her equilibrium and cocked an eyebrow back, "Cullen, would you please take a seat?" He observed her defensive stance and smirked feeling his body react in the only way it seemed to around her. She looked good, he had to admit, but then she always did. Why the fuck she insisted on wearing those ass hugging skirts however he had no fucking clue. He was sure she was sent from his own personal hell to torment him. This woman drove him fucking crazy but made his cock harder than he'd ever known. Some fucker somewhere definitely had a sick sense of humour. He slammed down in his seat and smiled at Garrett while wiggling his fingers in a give-me-what-Iwant gesture that Isabella could only smile at. Garrett pulled out a box of cigarettes and threw them on the table. Cullen pulled one out quickly, smelling the nicotine immediately. He placed it to his lips, lit it and sucked in the smoke with a slow hiss while closing his eyes in complete ecstasy. Isabella meanwhile was contemplating all the ways she could make sure he did that exact same thing every time they had a session. It was without doubt the sexiest fucking thing she had ever seen in her life. She swallowed hard as she watched him open his eyes slowly and blow the smoke back out between his lips, then down his nose. How the hell did he make smoking look so damn erotic? Sweet Jesus She realised suddenly that the room had gone quiet and that everyone, including Cullen, was staring at her and waiting for her to take her seat. She apologised with an embarrassed dip of her chin and sat down next to Garrett, running her hands against her thighs. Cullen watched her curiously. It was the first time he'd ever seen her not on point and he was convinced that her cheeks were a lot pinker than they usually were. Was she just checking me out? "You've got ten minutes," Newton barked in aggravation as he headed towards the door with wide strides and louder feet. "We might not be done in ten minutes," Isabella retorted sharply. She was so tired of his ordering people about. "We'll radio you when we're done." She kept her eyes on her hands on the table in front of her. Newton stopped dead in his tracks and put one hand on his hip while rubbing his forehead with the other. This woman was really pushing her fucking luck he thought but instead replied, "Fine," before striding out of the room grumbling profanities under his breath. Garrett and Cullen exchanged impressed and smug looks respectively before turning back to the petite brunette before them. Cullen was happy as shit that she stood up to Newton and his asshole tendencies, if not a little jealous that he was getting a tongue lashing and he wasn't. His brow furrowed at the utterly senselessness of that thought. "So, is someone gonna put me out of my misery and tell me why the fuck I'm here?" he asked as he looked between Miss Swan and Garrett. Garrett eyed him and his language disapprovingly before gesturing to Miss Swan to talk. Isabella found that she was suddenly a little tongue tied and had to clear her throat a couple of times to undo it. Cullen waited patiently as she did, somewhat enthralled by her apparent unease. "Well, I think it's safe to say that your attending my lessons hasn't really worked out that well," she offered, keeping her eyes firmly on Cullen's and not on the small piece of ink that she had noticed peeking from under the arm of his t-shirt. He scoffed and looked to Garrett. "Yeah, no shit, lady."

"Edward," Garrett warned with a curl of his lip. Cullen rolled his eyes and gestured for Miss Swan to continue with a lift of his left elbow that was lying across his chest as he finished his cigarette. "I understand, Cullen that you have a parole committee meeting at the beginning of September?" He nodded and then shrugged, "Yeah, so?" Isabella bit her tongue at his sharp tone, keeping her stare firm and unwavering; a fact that made Cullen's fingers twitch. "And I also know that your participation in my lessons was to help with your application towards said parole committee meeting." Cullen huffed out the last of the smoke in his lungs and extinguished the cigarette in the ashtray with three very deliberate and sharp drops of his hand. He continued to stare at the woman in front of him as he slumped back into his seat while grappling for another smoke. "In fucking English," he said finally, hiding his smirk as he saw the fire burst inside Miss Swan's mahogany eyes.There she is "Edward" Garrett began before Isabella put a hand on his arm to stop him. She leaned forward, giving Cullen a fucking awesome view of those very real tits and gritted her teeth. Keep calm "In fucking English," she snarled, inwardly rolling her eyes at herself and her apparent Cullen induced Tourettes. "I am offering to tutor you on a one to one basis so that you can apply to the committee for early parole even though you insist on acting like a complete asshole, even when people are trying to help you." Well, fuck me Garrett stared in amazement at the little spitfire sitting to his right as Cullen let his eyes roam down the curves of her face and chest in fascination as a red heat flashed across her skin. Fuck she is sexyand irritating as all hell He found himself licking his lips as the silence continued and Isabella found that she suddenly wanted to do it for him; to lick his lips, his mouth, his fuck awesome jawWhat. The. Hell? She stood quickly from her seat, scraping it hard against the sterile linoleum of the floor before it fell back with a loud clatter. She looked at it momentarily, not moving to pick it back up and instead grabbed at her bag quickly, dropping it twice before she got a hold on it. Garrett stood with her as she struggled with it in her flustered state. "Miss Swan?" he asked in concern, entirely flummoxed by her behaviour. The strong assertive young woman that had come in the room was now completely absent and the change was as unnerving as it was unexpected. "This was a stupid idea," Isabella offered finally, keeping her eyes on the bag she was trying to fasten and not the two men in front of her. "It's obvious that I was under a misapprehensionI thought thatI thought that weI" She allowed her eyes to meet Cullen's and felt her breath catch at the look of absolute raw sex that oozed from them as he whispered something under his breath. Her pussy purred and clenched, making her back straighten and her knees shake. She had to get out of there and away from Cullen and his ink, face and PunkAss stare. Fuck, I can feel his eyes on mewhat was I thinking?

"I'm sorry," she muttered quietly before flinging her bag over her shoulder and starting for the door. "Miss Swan." She froze at the sound of Cullen's voice and the fact that it no longer held any hint of malice, aggression or sarcasm. It was soft almostpleading? She took a deep breath, closed her eyes with a furrowed brow and tried to collect herself. She turned when she felt confident that her mask was appropriately fitted once again to see him standing from his seat, his finger tips dancing elegantly along the edge of the table in front of him. "Yes?" she asked in a voice a million times weaker than what she had needed. Cullen looked back at her, his face hard but thoughtful. His eyes seemed to hold something that was entirely too much for her to even think about at that moment. It was something powerful, questioning and desperate in its intensity and Isabella found herself completely at its mercy. I can't breathe Cullen's firm right hand through his hair broke the moment, making even Garrett exhale in relief. "Iumfuck, look I I appreciate that," Cullen stammered uncomfortably, his eyes flitting around the room at everything except Miss Swan. Yeah, I'm a pussy Isabella was sure that the sound of her mouth popping open echoed around the room. Her eyes flickered to Garrett who looked equally speechless and about ready to faint from shock. "Umyeah, sure" she began, waving her hand in frustration at her own verbal ineptitude. "It was a stupid" "No," he interrupted her sharply. Her glare returned as his tone smacked her around the face, clearing her brain haze for one split second. Cullen couldn't help but smirk. "It wasn't stupid," he countered before she could snap back. "It was a good idea." Isabella nodded slowly, watching his face carefully for any sign that he was yanking her chain but was struck dumb when she saw nothing of the sort. "I think" Cullen began, glancing quickly at Garrett for assistance. He was fucking shit at asking forhelpshit, even thinking the word made him want to spit fucking nails. Garrett sensed his discomfort immediately and at once felt protective of him. "Edward," he coaxed. "Are you saying that youwant Miss Swan to tutor you?" He asked it slowly almost as he would talk to his six year old daughter, but it didn't irritate Cullen like it normally would because this was an entirely abnormal fucking situation. Cullen nodded minutely and dropped his eyes to the table, reaching for the cigarettes and pulling one out as if his life depended on it. He sparked it and sucked on it for all it was worth, wanting the moment just to fuck off already. Why is everyone so fucking quiet? "Well, ok," Garrett whispered, before turning towards Miss Swan who was still looking a little frayed around the edges. "Miss Swan?" Isabella's eyes snapped to Garrett at the sound of her name and cleared her throat. Now here was a fucking dilemma. It was so much easier for her to accept that Cullen would be an arrogant, conceited

prick so that she didn't have to tutor him but thisthis was a whole new ball game. Cullen's quiet, almost self-conscious stance made her chest squeeze. She likened it to seeing a wild animal after it had been in captivity for a time; magnificent but heart breaking in its unnaturalness. "So," she said softly, taking a timid step back towards the table. "We're going to do this?" She needed the clarification just for her own sanity. "I said so didn't I?" Cullen growled through a fog of smoke that curled effortlessly into the air around him. Well actuallybut Isabella held her tongue. She found herself smiling slightly and rubbed a somewhat weary hand across her forehead. "Ok then," she said finally, feeling ten parts ecstatic and ninety parts terrified. "Umsolet's talk about a schedule." She nodded towards Garret who bent down quickly to retrieve her chair and sat down, pulling out her diary, so that they could do just that. =PoF= Twenty minutes later and with her diary filled with the times that worked for her and Cullen to meet every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday Isabella stood once again from the table, making sure that her chair stayed upright. She held her hand out to Garrett and he took it, shaking it enthusiastically. "Thank you, Isabella," he said softly with a face filled with gratitude. "We'll talk more I'm sure." "Absolutely," she replied with a smile. She glanced at Cullen who was suddenly looking at her with an expression of disbelief. His green eyes were as wide as she had ever seen them and his mouth was agape, showing the pink tip of his tongue. She pretended to ignore it, assuming that he was pissed about something - for a change - and simply nodded towards him. "See you Monday," she murmured before turning and heading out the door. Garrett spun on his heel back to Edward with a huge ass smile on his face. "Edward, this is great!" he enthused while clapping his hands together. "This is really great, right?" Cullen remained mute, his eyes still fixed on the door thatshehad gone through. "Edward?" Garrett repeated, sliding his hands into his pockets. "Edward, are you?" "What did you call her?" Cullen croaked through an arid throat. His heart was beating so hard that his ear drums felt ready to burst. "What?" Garrett asked in confusion. "What did you just call Miss Swan?" Garrett shrugged and frowned. "I called her Isabella. Why? That is her name, right?" He glanced worriedly at the guard, suddenly panicking that he had just called her by a wrong name. The guard, thankfully, nodded an affirmative, easing his alarm instantly. He looked back at Edward who was now as white as a sheet and breathing so hard it was audible around the room.

"Edward, are you alright?" He asked, the concern prevalent in the councillor's voice. But Cullen was very fucking far from alright. He pushed his chair back without saying a word and dropped his head like a lead weight towards his knees. It couldn't be. There was no fucking way. She couldn't be her. No. What were the odds? The chance was minute. He hated this womandidn't he? No. He didn't. She was helping himLike he helped her. No. He grabbed at his hair in disbelief. It couldn't fucking possibly beher Unbeknown to Cullen his whole tirade had been entirely spoken, making Garrett drop to his knees in front of him pleading with him to stop the verbal vomit that was erupting from his mouth. "Who, Edward?" he urged, recognising the signs of a panic attack through the laboured breaths and white sheen that was covering Edward's face. "Edward, talk to me. Who are you talking about?" Unthinkingly he grasped Edward's shoulder to try and calm him down, but Cullen was too far gone to care. "It can't be," Cullen answered towards the floor, his voice laced with shock. "Who? Miss Swan?" Garrett asked in puzzlement. "No," Cullen replied. "She's not Miss Swanshe'sfuckshe's" "Who?" Garrett asked in exasperation, tightening his grip on Edward's shoulder. Cullen finally looked up at his councillor, his expression enough to make Garrett gasp. Long gone was the strong, arrogant, virile man of Edward Anthony Cullen and in his place was a scared shitless eleven year old that was desperate for someone to love him. Cullen swallowed hard, took a deep breath to steady himself and spoke the words he never thought he'd ever say since a horrific dark night fifteen year before. "She's my Peaches." Chapter 6: Revelation 'She's my Peaches.' Garret stared at the dishevelled and breathless young man in front of him having no clue as to what or who he was talking about. His eyes tried to search the wide, erratic green ones that he was looking into for some sort of answer, as he sat on his haunches in front of Edward, but all he saw was disbelief, laced with something else that he had never seen on Edward Cullen before. Fear. What he had to be fearful of, he had no idea but he knew that he was beyond unnerved by the utterly uncharacteristic reactions coming off of him in waves. His hand was still clamped onto Edward's shoulder, half for his comfort and half for his own before turning to the guard who was standing and watching the entire moment with intrigue. Officer Medway hadn't heard what Cullen had said but seeing the usually foul-mouthed punk in such a state was altogetherodd. "Can you go and call for a facility medic, please?" Garrett murmured to him quickly, urging the guard to hurry with an abrupt nod of his head towards the door.

"I'm not supposed to leave" Medway began but was halted immediately by Garrett bellowing 'NOW!' which was accompanied by a look of incredulity and fury. Officer Medway had worked with Garrett Volture for a lot of years and had never seen him or heard him address a fellow colleague in such a way. Needless to say he moved towards the door while simultaneously grabbing his radio, with much more haste than he had originally intended. Garrett turned back towards Edward, knowing that they had little time alone before the medic arrived. He rubbed his hand down his shoulder until he was clutching his bicep and squeezed it as reassuringly as he could, trying to hide his concern behind a tight smile. "Edward. Edward, can you hear me?" he said as calmly as he could while Edward gasped for air. His fucking lungs just felt too fucking small and dammit if his heart wasn't slamming against his ribs hard enough to break them. He tried to answer Garrett to tell him that he didn't want a fucking medic he just wanted to get out of the room before the walls closed in on him completely. He dropped his head when the words wouldn't come and clutched the lapel of Garrett's jacket, scrunching the wool in his palm, willing his whole body to calm but infuriatingly, the more he tried to slow his breathing the more his lungs closed up. He grunted in panic when his throat shrank as he swallowed and dropped his forehead against his councillor's shoulder. Get me out of here, Garrettfor fuck's sakeget me out =PoF= "Harderoh God, fuck me harder!" "Not God, baby, just me," Jake Black grinned, as he gripped the slim calves that were resting against his shoulders and began pounding into the wet pussy he was buried in. Fuck, he needed this "Oh yes, Jake, oh fuck, give me that cock!" Jake watched Siobhan's hair splay like a giant black puddle across his pillow while her back arched as she began clenching around him, milking him in such a way that with three more, deep, hard thrusts, he exploded into her with a loud grunt. He collapsed onto her, panting and gasping into her neck, smiling into the sweat that had collected by her collar bone. "Holy shit, Black," Siobhan gasped as her legs flopped back down to the bed. She placed a hand between her breasts and felt her heart as it raced under her hot skin. It had been a while since she had found herself in Jake Black's bed and as she felt her body return to earth she couldn't really understand why. He may have been a complete asshole but damn he was an amazing fuck. "Right back at ya, Sweetness," Jake replied as he lifted from her and removed himself from her body with a hiss. He pulled the condom off his cock and threw it in the trash before tossing a towel towards the woman still panting and splayed across his bed. Siobhan was fucking nice to look at and she gave head like a fucking vacuum but that's where their relationship ended. She was a sure thing and the arrangement worked for the pair of them but she wasn't who he wantedhe frowned into the toilet basin while he pissed as his train of thought started entering dangerous territory

He shook his head to shake the feelings off, flushed the john and washed his hands before walking his naked ass back into his room. He smiled when he saw that Siobhan was already half dressed, fastening her bra before pulling on her blouse. She knew the score and it pleased him that there were no emotional hurdles between them. He didn't need that shit. He picked up his jeans and slipped them on, going commando - as underwear just pissed him off. He pulled out his packet of cigarettes and lit one. It may have been clich but he loved a smoke after a good lay. Siobhan smiled at him sweetly and fluffed up her hair as she meandered past him towards her purse that was sitting on his side table. She pulled out her cell, scrolling through the messages that she had received while she was being boned to within an inch of her life. "I gotta go," Siobhan said casually as she threw it back into the depths of her bag. She turned back to Jake who was leaning nonchalantly against the wall behind her and let her index finger sneak down the centre of his chest. "Thanks again, Handsome," she purred before kissing the side of his mouth softly. "I'm sure I'll see you soon." "I'm sure you will," he replied with a smile and a gust of smoke down his nose. She grinned up at him and with one last flick of her hair she left. Jake smirked to himself, put out his cigarette and went back to the bathroom to wash off the scent of sex and pussy that covered nearly every inch of his skin. An hour later and he was sitting in the office of his auto body shop rifling through the receipts of the day's takings. Black's had been his father's shop that he had built from scratch while raising Jake single-handedly after Jake's mother had been killed in a car wreck. It had been far from easy for Jacob Black Senior, being a single parent while trying to run a popular business in the centre of Brooklyn but he had done it with a determination alongside a shrewd business sense that his son had inherited entirely. Jake had willingly picked up the mantle of running the shop from his father who, after a valiant fight, had succumbed to the cancer that had ravaged his body for two years. That was three years ago and as much as Jake shrugged off questions about how he was dealing, deep down he still missed his father like hell. "How are the books looking, Boss?" Jake looked up from the papers in front of him to see Seth poking his head around the office door with a wide grin. "Yeah, they're ok," Jake answered noncommittally, glancing quickly at his employee and then back at the figures on his desk. The truth was however that even with the shop doing as well as it was and with all the new business that was coming in he was barely making it even. He slumped back in his seat, noticing that Seth had left and ran an agitated hand through his hair. Swinging his chair from side to side he let his eyes slide over to the window that looked out into the shop. He watched as his three employees moved around a red hot Corvette and a kick ass Mustang and sighed hard. There was no way that he could lay off anyone else. He had already hired and fired three mechanics in the last six months to try and save money, finding loopholes so that he could have them work without paying them. It was a fucking asshole thing to do, he knew and he also knew that his father would

have been totally disappointed in him and would have quite happily kicked his ass from one side of Brooklyn borough to the other. That thought made his lip twitch He rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands in frustration. One thing that he was sure of was that he couldn't let his father's shop be taken by Aro and his fuckers, no matter what he owed him. He had promised his father that he would look after his life's business to pass on to his own son - if he ever had one - and his son and so on. It was a Black business and it would always stay that way. He would be damned if he would break his promise to his own blood through his over zealous gambling and drug habit (even if he had curtailed the latter a fuck load). He was still dealing. There was no way that he could or wanted to stop that sweet business enterprise. He'd been dealing since he was fourteen - starting out with Cullen when they began running errands for Aro - and he had continued, building his own drug empire that left other small time dealers banging on his door in desperation for hits and loans. It had brought him the bills and the women and he was unashamed about the fact that he revelled in the power being the second biggest dealer in the area brought him. But, he thought wryly, the power was not what he needed right now. He slammed his hands down onto the desk in frustration, grabbing the receipts and stormed from the office into the shop. "Paul!" he called over the loud rock music that was pounding from the speakers that were spread around the building. "Seth, turn that shit the fuck down, man, I can barely hear myself fucking think!" The music dropped in volume almost immediately as Paul, Jake's longest serving employee, jogged over to him, wiping oil from his hands with a dirty rag. "What's up boss?" he asked, flinging the rag at Seth's head. "Take these," Jake said simply, handing Paul the wad of receipts along with an unmarked brown envelope he pulled from his jeans pocket and the keys to his BMW. Paul looked at his boss knowingly, "Same address?" he asked quietly. Jake exhaled and nodded without saying a word, keeping his eyes on Paul's as he did. Paul raised his eyebrows in understanding, grabbed his jacket quickly and walked out of the shop. =PoF= The following Saturday found Isabella sitting alone in the middle of a palatial garden of one of the biggest houses in the Hamptons. She sighed despondently and sipped on her champagne slowly; wanting nothing more than to finish it one chug and then do the same with the entire bottle. She glanced to her right to see all of New York's high society gossiping and acting perfectly around her and smirked to her self about what kind of reaction that type of behaviour would conjure. Maybe champagne wouldn't cut it. Maybe jello shots would be better? She hated these types of gatherings. Hated them. They made her skin crawl and her teeth grind. The pretension was like a bad case of hives that made her skin itch but, she was there for her friends and family and that was what mattered most. "Isabella!"

She turned gradually and smiled at Sue Damon who was approaching her quickly with outstretched arms. Isabella placed her champagne flute on the table and stood to meet her embrace. "Oh, darling, it's so good to see you," Sue cooed as she cupped Isabella's face. "I swear my girl you get more and more beautiful every time I see you." Isabella blushed and smiled as best she could at the compliment. "Congratulations, Sue," she replied quickly. "Oh thank you," Sue offered with a huge roll of her blue eyes. "Thirty years of marriage definitely deserves congratulations. Putting up with my husband for thirty seconds, never mind thirty years is a feat of which I'm exceedingly proud of." She laughed then, a high tinkling sound that Isabella could only join in with. "Have you seen my son anywhere?" she asked, glancing around Isabella as though she had Jamie tucked in either her dress or her purse. "No, I haven't," she answered with a shake of her headand a slight snarl. The bastard said he'd stay with me and hide me from these wretched creatures and he hasn't even come to say hello yet "Funny," Sue murmured with a glint in her eye that made Isabella's stomach twist with the knowledge of what was coming. "You two are always joined at the hip; always in each others pockets." She winked then and Isabella smiled back as best she could. Sue and Renee were anything but discreet when it came to airing their opinions about where Isabella and Jamie's relationship should go which was, as far as they were concerned, straight up the aisle followed by 2.4 children. Renee classed Jamie as a 'safe option' being 'from good money' and was forever probing Isabella for information about their relationship. Isabella always laughed it off with the sarcastic remark 'and who said romance was dead', but it didn't take any of the awkwardness out of it when the subject was brought up especially if Jamie was there too. Sue's grip on Isabella's shoulder tightened and her eyes grew darker. "Your mother tells me that you had an incident at theprison, the other day." Isabella almost laughed at the sombreness of her tone. "Umyeah," she replied while stifling a smirk. "It was something and nothing, just a hot tempered student." A hot tempered, irrational, asshole, muscular, sexy, inked student who drives me fucking insane Sue clicked her tongue in disgust and shook her head. "You are so very brave, Isabella. You're taking your life in your hands everyday that you are there with thosethose animals." Isabella resisted the urge to roll her eyes at the narrow-mindedness of the woman in front of her. She loved Sue like an aunt but shit if she wasn't one prejudiced, snobby bitch at times. "Yes, well, I'm tutoring the same student on a one to one basis now so" "Oh good gracious," Sue interrupted with a dramatic hand to her mouth. "Is that even safe?" Biting her tongue Isabella replied, "Of course."

Sue cupped Isabella's face again and smiled a large motherly smile. "Just be careful, Isabella. You're mother wouldn't survive if she lost you too." And just what was missing from the daya side order of fucking guilt "Ah, there's my boy!" Sue chimed as she spotted Jamie over Isabella's shoulder. Isabella sighed in relief that the subject of her job had been dropped for the moment. She'd already had about enough from her mother earlier that morning. Sue pulled her son towards her and kissed him, leaving a huge red lipstick mark across the blonde stubble on his right cheek. "Sorry," Jamie muttered, glancing quickly at Isabella while hugging his mother tightly. "Where have you been, darling?" Sue asked, pulling at the lapels of his jacket and smoothing the fabric down his shoulders. He rolled his eyes and pulled an eek face at Isabella as his mother clucked over him. Isabella giggled into her champagne flute. Mama's boy "I got held up but I'm here now and you look beautiful. Congratulations." He smiled widely, disarming his mother instantly and making Isabella laugh louder in the process. "Well thank you," Sue smiled back at him. "Get a drink and make sure you see your father." She patted his chest, kissed Isabella's cheek and wandered towards a crowd of women who were wearing enough flower print between them that they were almost camouflaged against the gardens. "Held up, huh?" Isabella smirked as Jamie snatched her flute from her hand and downed what was left in it which he followed with a loud gasp. "And what's her name?" Jamie coughed slightly on the alcohol he had just swallowed and glanced sheepishly towards Isabella. He knew it was fucking ridiculous to feel guilty about having a woman in his bed. He and Isabella were only friends - as much as he wanted more - but he still found it hard to shake off. "Umit wasVictoria," he muttered towards his shoes while rubbing the back of his neck. Shit. Isabella raised her eyebrows in surprise. "Oh," she breathed with a slow nod. "And this was agood idea?" Jamie shrugged and continued to avoid her gaze. "Who the fuck knows," he answered with a sigh and a wry smile. He finally met her eyes and leaned heavily against the table they were standing next to. "It was justone of those things, Bells, a goodbye fuck or ahow ya been doing fuckI don't know" Isabella held her hands up in surrender. "Hey no need to explain yourself or your fucks to me," she said with a shake of her head. But Jamie wasn't convinced. He cocked an eyebrow at her waiting for the inevitable onslaught. And in 321 "Just as long as the bitch knows that if she hurts you again I will have to get kung fu ninja on her ass Kill Bill style."

Jamie laughed lightly and nodded. "I'll let her know," he said unable to tear his gaze from the bright light that seemed to be flickering in the depths of her eyes. It had been a few days since he had seen her and he had to admit that she looked different. She seemed moreconfident? More sassy? He couldn't put his finger on it but it was definitely a good look on her. She was positively glowing. "What?" she asked as she fidgeted under his stare. "What's new with you?" he asked as he reached for two more glasses of champagne from a passing waiter. His mother went all out when it came to celebrations and even though it didn't bother him that much, he knew that it drove Isabella up the wall. "Umnot much," Isabella murmured into her glass. "Not much isn't nothing, Bells," Jamie pressed with a smile. "What's going on?" Isabella took a deep breath and bit the inside of her lip. She hated that she felt nervous about telling her family and friends about her job. It was annoying and completely unnecessary. She knew they reacted the way they did because they cared but hell; a little caring could go a long way, especially after her mother, Sue and Leah had all expressed their 'concern.' "I'mumI'm taking on a student at the facility on a one to one basis." She said it quickly; keeping her eyes on Jamie's the entire time waiting to pounce at any sign of argument or annoyance on his face. She didn't need to hear anymore about how 'stupid' or 'reckless' she was being, least of all from Jamie. Jamie knew this from the tightness of her mouth so purposefully hid his panic. "Oh," he responded, hiding his grimace behind his glass as he took a large sip. "This was part of your contract?" He knew it wasn't as he had read the fucking thing about thirty times when she had received it but he simply couldn't understand why she would put herself forward for this. It was bad enough that she was in a classroom with five of these assholes let alone just one. Didn't that situation just scream fucking dangerous to her? Was she completely without any sense of self preservation? "No," Isabella snapped. "It wasn't. I offered to help Cullen off of my own back." And I wish everyone would just back. The. Fuck. Off Jamie narrowed his eyes at the name, knowing that he had heard it somewhere before. "Cullen?" he asked. "When have I heard that name?" Fuck. Isabella kept her eyes on the waiter nearest to them, hopelessly aware that Jamie was putting the pieces together while she continued to dodge his question. Jamie shuffled through his memory, knowing that he had heard her say the name Cullen on at least two previous occasions. Thenbingo "Jesus Christ, Isabella, was that the fucking idiot who threw a table at you?" Jamie roared, making everyone that was standing near them stop talking and look at them with gasps of shock. Isabella felt her cheeks turn nuclear under their judgemental stares and shot daggers towards Jamie who responded in kind.

"Are you fucking insane?" he hissed, moving his head closer to hers as he pulled her by her arm towards the back of the garden out of the hearing range of all the nosey old coots who were watching them with whispers and expressions of alarm. Isabella pulled her arm away in anger. "No, I'm not," she spat. "Don't talk to me like a fucking child, Jay!" Jamie stepped back from her in surprise. It was very unlike Isabella to curse; especially at him. He watched as she rubbed her forearm where he had grabbed her and winced as he thought about how tightly he had held her. He hadn't meant to but Christ he was just so fucking worried about her. Didn't she see that? "I didn't mean to hurt you," he muttered remorsefully, moving his hand towards her but dropped it like he had been burned when she pulled away from him. He exhaled, trying to ignore the sting of hurt in his chest and rubbed his face as the silence continued and the look of thunder grew across Isabella's face. She was livid. "Isabella, talk to me" he pleaded from under his lashes. "Look, I'm sorr-" "Sorry?" Isabella growled through her teeth. She laughed without humour. "How dare you speak to me like that, Jamie? Who the hell do you think you are?" "I'm your best friend and I love you," he countered sharply with his hands on his hips. Let's cut the bullshit. "I worry about you and I can't believe that you would" "What? Make decisions for myself? Heaven forbid, right?" She mirrored his pose, fire licking every inch of her as she became more enraged. She was so fucking tired of having to explain herself to the people who should just shut the fuck up and be there to support her. Was it really too much to ask? Jamie dropped his head and placed an index finger to his temple. "I know that you have the need to do this, Bells. I get it; really I do. But you've gotta take care of yourself." "I am!" she retorted in exasperation, her hands slapping her thighs in temper. "It's everyone else that is driving me fucking crazy; you, Leah, Mom, your mom!" The only person who would understand would be my father Jamie lifted his hands to try and calm her but it just seemed to have the opposite effect, making her eyes flash and her nostrils flare. She shoved an index finger hard into his chest. "And as my best friend who loves me then you should respect my decisions and know that I am more than capable of taking care of myself!" "Ok," he soothed, utterly blown away by the rage inside the woman before him. It had been a long ass time since he had seen her so wired. "Ok, Bells, I'm sorry. Shit, calm down." Isabella scoffed and flicked her hair over her shoulder as she turned from him. Jamie was reaching for her as she span back to face him, her eyes blazing. "And for your information," she seethed. "He didn't throw a table at me. He threw it at the wall." Before he could respond in any way she had stormed away from him across the gardens towards the house, leaving him utterly speechless.

=PoF= Daddy! Daddy! "Edward?" Keep moving! We have to get away from them. They'll kill your ass! Move! "Edward. Can you open your eyes for me?" I can'tMy Dad Dark. Cold. Gunshots. Warmth. Peaches "Ed-" The doctor's words stuck in his throat as Cullen lunged up from the clinic bed into a sitting position, wide eyed and panting. He looked around himself, almost frantic and jumped slightly when a hand touched his arm. He turned to see Garrett standing next to the bed with a sympathetic smile etched across his face. It was one Cullen had never seen before and it instantly made him uneasy. He swallowed hard, trying like hell to coat his throat that felt like fucking sand paper. "Where the fuck am I?" he croaked to Garrett as he tried to catch his breath. He looked around the room at the white wash walls and the surprised faces against them. A doctor and two guards "You're in the facility clinic, Edward," the doctor answered even though his question hadn't been directed at him. "It's Cullen and who the fuck was talking to you, Doc?" he snapped, making the doctor flinch before taking a step backwards. "Edward," Garrett said softly, waiting for Edward to face him before continuing. "You had a panic attack." Cullen looked at his councillor as if he had just asked him to donate his body to medical science. "Says who?" he coughed with a laugh and a raised eyebrow. "Says me," the doctor interjected timidly with his right hand raised slightly like he was in fucking school. "Whatever," Cullen responded, before swinging his legs to the right so that they were hanging off the bed. "Where are my shoes? I need to get out of here." "I'm afraid that's not possible" the doctor began. "I wasn't fucking asking!" Cullen yelled, feeling his head pound instantly from way down deep inside his brain. It felt like his ear drums were pulled tight enough to split and there were definitely little black dots that were hovering and dancing in his periphery. He scrunched his eyes tight for one split second to

gain his bearings and felt him self lean slightly forward. Garrett saw this and placed his hands gently on his shoulders to push him back. "You need to calm down, Edward," he murmured, "Just relax. You've been out for a day. You need to take it easy." Cullen grasped the bridge of his nose to try and ease the throbbing in the front of his skull and took a deep breath. He'd never felt anything like it. It was like a goddamn circus had taken up residence in between his ears and was having allsorts of fucking fun and dammit all to hell if he didn't feel completely drained. He couldn't even resist as Garrett pushed him back slowly until Cullen was sitting comfortably against the pillows on the bed. He exhaled and frowned at the fuckers standing and staring him. "Does your head hurt?" the doctor asked quietly. Cullen dropped his hand and glared hard at the man with a stethoscope around his neck but found that he was too fucking exhausted to come up with any witty shit. He simply nodded and became fascinated with the piece of fabric that was hanging from the bottom of his white t-shirt. "I'll go and get some more pain killers," Doc muttered and scurried out of the room like a cockroach in a spotlight. Cullen was surprised to see that the two guards also left the room, glancing nervously at Garrett as they did. "Well, fuck, at least I can still clear a room," Cullen muttered towards his chest. Garrett smiled slightly and pushed his hands into his pockets. "We need to talk, Edward," he said softy. "About what?" Cullen answered, far too quickly for his councillor's liking. Garrett dropped his chin and eyed Cullen with a cocked eyebrow. Please "You know what," he replied with a slow nod making Cullen huff and drop his head back against the bed. He was entirely too fucking confused, tired and truthfully still in a state of complete shock to talk aboutwell, fucking anything, least of all the huge motherfucking revelation that had hit him around the head like a damn wrecking ball. Peachesit was herthe girl he had dreamed about for fifteen yearsthe girl he had saved "Edward?" Garrett pushed gingerly as he watched a look of pain cross his face. "It's confidential if that's what you're worrying about?" "I'm not worried about fucking anything, Garrett! I just have nothing to say. Goddamn it." Cullen slapped his hands down at his sides and fisted the bed sheets wanting to tear them into small strips so that they matched the feeling that was vibrating through his chest. The sound of a chair being pulled across the floor towards his bed reminded Cullen that Garrett was a stubborn and tenacious son of a bitch who wasn't about to let him off lightly without some kind of explanation.

Garrett took a deep breath and leaned his elbows on the side of the bed. "Edward, we've known each other a lot of years. We've talked, we've argued, we've sat in silence but I swear to God boy you've never scared me as much as you did yesterday." Cullen's eyes flew to Garrett's tired ones to see only truth behind his words. His words made Cullen feel strange. He didn't give a shit about other people's thoughts or feelings usually but knowing that Garrett had been worried made Cullen feelguilty? "Yeah, well," he murmured with a shrug, looking at the ceiling while clenching his teeth. "I'm fine." Leave it, Garrett, pleaseI can't "Edwardwho's Peaches?" Garrett saw the tremor that travelled across Cullen's chest, making his breathing stutter and the paleness returned like a wave to his handsome face. Garrett knew he had to be careful. Cullen's temper was highly flammable of that there was no doubt but what concerned him more was that he would have another panic attack. He wasn't sure he could cope with seeing that again. Holding Edward Cullen as he shook, cried and passed out in his arms was something that would stay with him for along time. 'Help me' he had pleaded and gasped and Garrett had felt nothing but helplessness. He hadn't slept and he was determined to find out what had caused such a reaction in the man that he had counselled for the better part of a decade. "No-one important," Cullen said in a whisper. "So Peaches is a person?" he confirmed. Fuck. "Garrett, please," he groaned. "Just fucking leave it?" he said calmly. He said it as a question, soft and quiet, hoping beyond hope that the desperation that laced his voice was enough to put a stop to Garrett's persistence. Surprise crossed Garrett's eyes at his tone and the evenness of his words and Cullen knew at once that he had dodged the bullet for the time being. He just didn't have the energy or the inclination to try and explain something or someone that he had thought about every day since he was eleven years old. He had to get his own head out of his ass before he could do that. He had to get his own head out of his ass before Monday when he had his English Literature session. A one to one session with her. With Miss Swan. With Peaches =PoF= His hands moved slowly, exquisitely down my body.

Oh Godso soft They set my entire body on fire as they moved across my ribs; over my stomach to the tops of my thighs where they spread me wide open for him. I gasped as he growled against the inside of my leg. Jesusso, so close to where I need you He licked my skin; his tongue rough and moist. Closer stillplease, for the love of God touch me there Yes! He moved his head towards my wet flesh. I'm so wet for you. Can you feel it? Can you smell it? It's all for you "You want me?" he whispered as his finger trailed white heat above my clit. "No," I gasped. "I need you." "Miss S?" His hands were so soft "Miss S?" His tongue "Hey!" Isabella's head shot up from the papers on her desk to see Emmett and the rest of her class looking at her in puzzlement at the fact that their normally conscientious, focused tutor was apparently without clarity of speech or hearing. "Umwhat?" she stuttered as she ran a hand through her hair, trying to calm herself from the visions of the dream she had had the past two nights. "Do you want this work to be finished for tomorrow?" Emmett said with a knowing smirk. "Or did you just wanna just keep fantasising about my fine ass?" Angela nudged the giant beside her but couldn't hold back her small smile. Isabella saw this and heard the chuckles from around the room, feeling her cheeks heat instantly. "I mean, Miss S, that's fine with me," Emmett continued with a wiggle of his large eyebrows. "You can fantasise all you want, Honey. I know I'm fuck hot." The laughter continued as Emmett pressed a finger to his ass and let out a hiss, leaving Isabella still mute and a little mortified. Fuck, she needed to get a gripeven if the dream was a vast improvement on her normal terrifying ones.

"For tomorrow, Emmett," she said quickly, trying to sound nonchalant about being caught openly imagining a faceless man and his angel hands. She had no idea who it was that conjured such lust from her as she slept her eyes were always closed to him. The whole dream was an olfactory carnival. His smell was masculine, sour and musky and, mixed with hers produced a sweet, fruity scent that wrecked her. And that was before he spoke. His voicehot damn, his voice was like silk draped sex. He growled and licked and made her beg. Never had Isabella needed touch as much as she neededhis.And even after two nights, he was still to touch her where she needed, leaving her frustrated and wound as tight as a spring the following mornings. She purposefully spent the rest of the session moving from one student to another, keeping her mind off of her dream and more importantly the fact that she was to have her first session with Cullen. The last thing she needed was to have her head elsewhere when confronted by him. She needed all her wits about her to dish back the shit that he shovelled her way in copious amounts. She hadn't given herself time to really consider their last meeting alongside Garrett on Friday. Her reaction to his smoking and the ways in which his eyes had travelled over her spelled nothing but trouble. She had decided it best for all involved to push it down deep and lock it away. So she had. She had to be professional at all times. Her job was to teach, not to ogle and forget her dues and with her class dismissed and her bag over her arm she repeated this mantra determinedly all the way to that very same room she had left him three days before, where she knew he would be waiting. She smiled at the guard who opened the door for her and after seeing that he was sitting lazily in his seat behind a wooden table, walked with purpose towards him. "Good afternoon," she said quickly as she pulled out his books and the papers that she needed for the hour. She looked up at him after two minutes when he still hadn't responded, to see that his eyes were trained to the floor and his thumbs were whizzing around one another on his lap. She cleared her throat loudly and raised an eyebrow in annoyance. Cullen lifted his head slowly, holding his breath and allowed him self to look at the woman standing, hip cocked, sassiness in full effect, in front of him. He smirked up at her and let the air out between his lips slowly. "Good afternoon, Miss Swan," he answered in a long drawl that almost made him sound like he had been drinking. Isabella frowned slightly at the look of calm that was covering his face and the lack of smart ass response. He was usually so tightly wound, so arrogant and sneering that the difference stunned her momentarily. Little did she know that it was taking all of Cullen's willpower to not high tail it like a pussy ass bitch out of the room so that he could obsess some more about what he now knew about Miss Isabella Swan - just like he had been doing for two days straight. "Ok," Isabella continued, pushing her hair behind her ears before pulling a chair up on her side of the table. "So, we're going to do exactly what the class has been doing so that you don't fall behind." Cullen watched her intensely, taking all of her in.

He watched her movements and the expressions that rippled over her face, trying to see the young girl that he remembered like a photograph in his memory. Isabella shifted in her seat as she continued to explain what they would be doing in their sessions. She could feel his eyes on her and once again found herself pleased by it. His stare was like a hot finger pressed to cold skin, trailing patterns across her body, melting everything in its path. "This," she said suddenly, slamming a piece of paper down in front of him, snapping her self and Cullen from their thoughts, "is the poem we will be looking at." Her aggressive, no shit tone instantly made Cullen's dick hard and he groaned softly under his breath. Sweet Jesus, woman, what are you doing to me? He tried to ignore the pulse between his legs and leaned forward slightly to read the title on the top of the page. "Tichborne's Elegy?" he muttered with zero enthusiasm. "Yes," Isabella said through tight lips. "What of it?" "Do those motherfuckers in that class of yours even know who Chidiock Ticborne is?" Isabella kept her face straight even though she almost fell off of her chair at the fact that he knew the full name of the poet. She glanced down at the paper quickly. No, it wasn't written there "They do now," she answered as evenly as she could while she pulled the lid off of her pen. "And what do you know about him or his poetry?" she countered, feeling her patience slip. She couldn't allow her self to falter here. Cullen smirked again as he saw the challenge in her eyes. He focused on that and not the sensation of the heat that was coming from her knee near his, under the table. He chose however not to move his leg away. Masochistic fuck "I know enough," he replied, crossing his arms across his chest. Try me, Peaches Isabella snapped her eyes from the ink that once again peeked from under his t-shirt sleeve and sat back in her chair. "Please," she offered with an open palm. "Regale me." "Regale you?" he scoffed. Where the hell did this woman get her vocabulary? Isabella nodded slowly as a barrage of fairly gratuitous images clouded Cullen's mind. He cleared his throat and shifted in his seat, willing them away as she watched him intently. "Well, let me see," he pondered, looking towards the ceiling, giving Isabella a full view of his jaw. Focus, Swan for God's sakeShe swallowed hard. But Cullen had already seen her reaction and to say that he was happy about it would have been a huge motherfucking understatement. He lifted his right hand and rubbed his chin. Isabella listened to the sound of his stubble rubbing against his palm and fisted her own hands tightly in her lap.

"He was born in Southampton, England in 1558," he started, his eyes still glued to the ceiling. "In 1586 he took part in the Babington Plot to murder Queen Elizabeth and replace her with the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots. But they were shit out of luck. He was arrested and was eventually hung, drawn and quartered." He sat forward, stifling a laugh at the fact that Isabella's mouth was wide the fuck open in shock. He continued, feeling his ego grow, along with his dick that was painfully hard. "This poem is the poem that he wrote while he was awaiting his execution." He took a slow, leisurely breath. "Kind of inappropriate to be studying this in a prison, don't you think, Miss Swan?" But Isabella was lost. She was utterly dumbstruck by the knowledge that he had. Utterly dumbstruck and somewhat turned on. She knew he was intelligent - she had read it in his file - butfuck. This was something else. The man in front of her was intelligent and educated in an entirely seductive way and she was floored by him. "You like your history?" she asked quietly, amazed that her voice worked at all. Cullen shrugged. "It's ok." He kept his eyes on hers. "I prefer English Literature." He allowed his answer to settle between them, staring at his tutor, allowing him self a quick glance at her chest as he did. It didn't go unnoticed. "So, tell me about the poem," she encouraged, wanting nothing more than to hear his voice explain it to her, even though she knew it inside out and back to front. "He uses paradox and antithesis," he answered without missing a beat. He trailed his finger across the page in front of him, "Opposites and contradictions." Like you, Isabella thought. "He does it to highlight the tragedy of what he's going through. Which, when you think about it, is fucking stupid, wouldn't you say?" "Why would you say that?" Isabella asked, enthralled, intrigued, hypnotised and desperate to hear more. She sat forward, placing her forearms on the table between them, the guard standing behind her, forgotten. Cullen laughed lightly and shook his head. "He made his mistakes so he has to pay the price." His debt. "You sound like you know something about that," Isabella murmured, unknowingly thinking the exact same thing. Cullen raised his eyebrows sarcastically and glanced around the room with wide eyes. Well fucking, duh! Isabella shook her head slightly, clearing the fog that had seemingly overtaken her entire brain. "I meanI knowyou're paying for yourmistakes. But he was so young, too young to die. Don't you sympathise with Tichborne in some way?" "Sympathise?" Cullen asked to which Isabella nodded. "No," he answered firmly, "Envy? Yes."

His answer was nothing like what Isabella expected to hear from him. "Why do you envy him?" she asked softly. Cullen leaned forward, matching Isabella's pose. He kept his eyes firmly on the table between them, knowing without doubt that his train of thought would leave him completely if he looked at her. "The fact that he's about to die," he muttered. "He begins to see things much more clearly. He has focus, clarity." He raised his eyes slowly to Isabella's. "I envy him that." "You want clarity?" Isabella asked in nothing more than a whisper; afraid to break whatever the moment was that suddenly surrounded her. Cullen smiled in such a way that Isabella's heart raced. "Wanting and needing are two very different things, Miss Swan," he answered. "I need clarity. I need focus." And then he stared at her because fuck if there wasn't anything else he could do or say at that moment. He knew that, finding out who she was, was the first step to him having any kind of focus in his life for fucking years. And even though he talked about Tichborne like he knew what the fuck he was talking about, it was only with his Peaches sitting in front of him, that he truly understood his own need for it. "Peaches," he whispered as he took every inch of her face in. The dark hair that had engulfed him as he threw her to the ground as she had fought against him to get back to her father and the eyes that had cried the biggest tears he had ever seen. "What?" she asked unable to hear him over the thundering of the blood in her ears. "What did you say, Cullen?" And just like that the moment was gone. She saw his eyes change, his posture shift and it was broken. As if he had just woken from a dream, Cullen sat up straight and looked around him, glaring at the guard before slumping back in his seat with a huge exhale. "But, you know," he muttered, grabbing the cigarette that Garrett had given him in an effort to keep him calm for Isabella, out of his pocket and lit it. His arrogant sneer and barrier right back up as he blew his smoke at her. "What the fuck do I know, right? You're the fucking genius teacher." A small voice in the back of his head screamed and shouted at him for being such a fucking asshole as he watched her face change from calm to furious in seconds. But it was ok, he told him self, he could cope with her anger. Anger was good. It was all the other bullshit that scared him to death. Isabella could feel her blood boil. He was such a fucking prick. He was playing with her and she had fallen for it. She had actually, for one brief moment, thought that he meant the words that he was spouting and wasn't being the conceited fuck that was now sitting before her. "Yeah," she snapped in response to his statement. "I am and as such I want you to do these activities." She slammed another piece of paper in front of him that was covered in questions and tasks. "I'm sure with all your worldly knowledge you won't have a problem, right?" She glared at him, almost daring him to say something back, to refuse. He didn't.

Instead he picked up the pen that she had dropped unceremoniously on the table between them and began doing what she had asked because, as she sat staring at him with her rage and beauty, Cullen knew that he would have done anything she had asked of him. Anything at all. Chapter 7: Connections A criminal is a person with predatory instincts without sufficient capital to form a corporation. ~ Howard Scott Aro Bartollini was a shrewd and intimidating business man. For the better part of twenty years he had commanded the biggest drug empire in New York State and as such was one of the most feared and paradoxically respected individuals in the country. He commanded reverence and thought little of disposing of anyone who crossed his path without it. He had murdered many - a fact which he neither gloated nor mulled over - knowing undoubtedly that to keep his business and his place within the country's most revered criminals, he would continue to do so. He had much to protect: his family, his reputation and his empire respectively. Aro's wife Jane was the quiet power behind him. She was not involved with neither did she comment on her husband's dealings, choosing instead to support him in other ways whenever she could, choosing to give him counsel only when he sought it from her which, as he got older, was happening more and more. She was happy to give him advice and quietly loved the fact that her powerful husband relied on her point of view and advice above anyone else's. She loved her husband deeply and knew that his asking for her wisdom was his way of requiting that love in the most passionate of ways. She placed her hand on his cheek and smiled at him as they lay together, sweaty and spent from their morning fuck. They had been married for twenty-three years and their desire and need for each other had not waned one little bit. He could still make her body sing for him every time he touched her. From the first time they were intimate when she was sixteen to the present day, she knew without doubt that her body belonged to her husband so completely; she would surely die without his touch. Aro placed his hand over his wife's and turned his face so that he could place soft kiss on her palm. She hummed at the feel of his lips against her skin and moved closer to him, lifting her leg so that her thigh rested against his stomach. He chuckled to himself and rubbed his hand down her calf. "I have to get up, Janey." He smiled. "I cannot have you seducing me again." He was only half serious because in truth he would have liked nothing more than to ravage the beautiful creature in his arms, but he had a business to run and with that came responsibilities. Jane pouted and moved to kiss his lips. He kissed her back, feeling himself grow hard as she moaned quietly into his mouth. "Dear God, woman," he grumbled as he pushed her back and leaned over her, pushing himself against her thigh. "You are dangerous in the extreme." He smiled down at her before kissing her again; long languid kisses that made Jane's legs open up to take her husband inside of her again. He pushed into her with a long, low groan.

Fuck the responsibilities... An hour later and Aro was sitting in his office, listening to his number one, Marcus, as he explained the details of a shipment of blow that would be arriving in the next twenty-four hours. All hands were called in and all ears were to the ground, watching and waiting for any sign of police knowledge. Aro had contacts on the inside who gave him invaluable information about what the law knew and didn't. He had also called in a lot of favours on the street to make sure that the shipment arrived without a hitch. "Everything is going to plan, Sir." Marcus smiled at his boss, confident that the words he said were true. Aro nodded slowly. "I want updates," he muttered as he steepled his hands under his chin. "Of course, Sir," Marcus replied, "Up to the minute." His head whipped around and his hand automatically went to his gun as a loud knock at the door reverberated around the room. Aro smiled at Marcus's reaction, "Come in." The door opened slowly and Caius, Marcus's number one, walked in. "I'm sorry to interrupt but I have Paul Ashman here to see you." Aro nodded and looked back at Marcus. "You're on top of this, Marcus. I'm proud of you. Don't let me down. Tell Ashman he can come in." Marcus stood up and dipped his head. "Of course, thank you, Sir." He walked to the door and followed Caius out of it to find Paul Ashman standing looking like he was about ready to puke. Pussy... "He'll see you now," he said firmly, gesturing towards Aro's office with his right hand. Paul swallowed and ran his sweating palms down his overalls. He hated this bit, even if he had been doing it for the better part of a year. He walked as confidently as he could towards Aro's desk, pulling the envelope and the receipts that Jake had given him from his back pocket and placed them slowly onto the desk between them, hopelessly aware of Caius's presence at the back of him. "July's take," he said, cursing himself as his voice shook. "And the shop receipts." "So it would seem," Aro replied, sliding the documents to his side. He opened the envelope and saw the money inside of it, glancing quickly at Paul before emptying it out onto the table. Caius moved around the desk so that he was standing at Aro's side and once his boss gave the signal he began counting the money out for him. The silence as this was done was deafening and made Paul even more anxious to get the fuck out of dodge. Aro watched Paul's face knowing that he had plenty to be nervous about. If the amount in the envelope was even one dollar under what was agreed then it would be Paul who paid for his boss's mistake. Jake Black was a slippery little fucker and Aro wanted nothing more than to fire a bullet at point blank range right between his fucking eyes. He knew however that if he did that then there would be no one left to pay his debt. Maybe Cullen would, he mused quietly to himself, but he was the asshole with the smarts that Black was seriously lacking. Plus his ass was currently rotting in prison. "Fifteen, Sir," Caius said after what Paul was sure was a full year of time that had lapsed.

"You're sure?" Aro asked his eyes still on Paul. "Yes, Sir, I checked it twice for you." "Excellent. Take it to Marcus to put in the safe." Caius took the envelope and the receipts and made his way out of the office leaving Paul as he shifted from one foot to the other. "Tell your boss that the final amount still stands and that the interest grows every week." Aro pulled a cigar out of his top drawer and snipped off the end with a resounding slice from the cutter. Paul flinched as the end of the cigar bounced across the desk while Aro smirked. It was all about the psychological with these bastards... Paul nodded quickly, unable to make his mouth work. "Um...yeah, he...he knows," he stuttered finally, pushing his hands into his pockets. "Yeah," Aro agreed with a tone of disdain. "What a shame he didn't know that before he thought with his cock instead of his brain, huh?" Aro could feel the blood pounding in his ears as the words left his mouth. "Yes, Sir," Paul muttered. "Stop kissing my ass," Aro spat, "And get the fuck out." Paul turned quickly on his heel and almost ran to the door, yanking it open and colliding with a small soft body that groaned at the impact. Paul regained his equilibrium and stood up; apologising profusely as he held onto the forearms of the woman that he had bumped into. His verbal tirade came to a grinding halt when he realised who it was. "Paul," she whispered, her dark eyes widening as she looked at him. "Vanessa," he replied, feeling his forehead start to sweat in panic. Her brow furrowed in confusion. "What are you...? Is Jake...?" "Nessie?" Aro's voice boomed through the door laced with a wide smile. "Come in here, sweetheart." Paul moved around Vanessa as best as he could, giving her a wide berth while ignoring her questions. He turned from her, moving quickly towards the front door, silently cursing Jake and his stupid fucking choices. =PoF= Isabella narrowed her eyes and tucked her knees up to her chest while simultaneously turning the TV volume up as far as it would go. The incessant knocking at her front door had been driving her fucking crazy for the past ten minutes but she was determined she wasn't giving in. She had too much on her mind to deal with any overly protective bullshit. "Isabella!" Jamie shouted through the door as the theme song to American Idol echoed through the wood. "Isabella, open the door please!" He had to apologise to her face to face. She had been ignoring his calls and his texts since she had stormed out of his mother's house during the anniversary party and her silence was driving him

beyond distraction. He continued to slam his fist against her door even though it had started to hurt like a bitch. "Bells, please!" he begged. "Just let me apologise face to fa-..." he stopped speaking immediately as the door flew open to show Isabella looking fucking furious. "What?" she snapped. "What do you want, Jamie? You're here to tell me how to live my life? To tell me what decisions to make?" Jamie shook his head, wincing at the venom in her tone and exhaled. "No, not at all. Please, can I come in?" Isabella stared at him for a moment, knowing that she couldn't shut the door in his face (as much as she wanted to). She huffed in annoyance and walked from the door, back towards the sofa. She threw herself down angrily, shooting Jamie a look of death as he slinked into her apartment and made his way towards her. He stood at the side of the sofa for a couple of minutes fingering the leather of the cushion nearest to him before he spoke. "Look, I'm sorry, Bells," he muttered, looking from her profile back to the TV that was still blaring loudly. Isabella kept her eyes on the set and ignored him. She was too fucking angry to deal with his bullshit. Jamie had never seen her look so fierce. Even at the party she hadn't been as mad as she clearly was as she sat on the couch. But even so, Jamie's patience was wearing thin. He knew he had to apologise and dammit if she would fucking hear him do it. He leaned over the arm of the sofa and grabbed the remote. He pointed it at the TV and turned it off before throwing it back down next to Isabella who was staring at him as though she was about to remove every limb from his body with her bare hands. "What the fuck?" she seethed. "You can't just do things like that, Jamie!" "I need you to listen to me!" he retorted with his palms out towards her. He fucking hated fighting with her. It didn't happen often but when it did it was always truly heinous. "Fine!" she snapped. "Say your piece." She turned to look at him while crossing her arms across her chest, glaring at him as hard as she could. "Bells," he started with a defeated sigh. "I'm sorry about what I said and did on Saturday. I really am. I know that you needed me to be there to support you and I wasn't and I feel like a complete asshole." Isabella continued to stare at him as he began to shift from one foot to the other. He dropped his eyes and looked at his hands that were twisting in on themselves. "I want you to know that from now on" He looked back up at her. "I won't say anything about your job." Isabella scoffed and rolled her eyes at him. "No really," he insisted with a quick drop of his chin. "I've thought about it all weekend and I realise that you need a friend, not someone who is going to question what you do all the time." He pushed his hands into his coat pockets and shrugged. "So I won't. You have my word." He did know it and he knew that the more he pushed and showed his concern in the only way he knew how to with Isabella, the more he was going to push her away. He couldn't let that happen. She was too important to him.

Isabella looked at him, waiting for the punch line. If it was one thing she knew for certain about Jamie Damon it was that he found it incredibly difficult to stay the fuck out of what didn't concern him. But similarly, she also knew that when he gave his word he meant it. She lifted an index finger towards him. "Not one word, Jamie. I mean it. If you utter one condescending remark about how I need to be careful or about how I am putting myself in danger, I will personally remove your head with your nine-iron. I shit you not." Jamie held onto the small smirk that was threatening to break out across his face. "Understood," he replied. He watched as her finger returned to her lap and looked at her from under his lashes. "Am I forgiven?" Isabella rolled her eyes again and patted the sofa next to her with a little more force than Jamie thought was entirely necessary. He shook his coat off and sat down next to her before Isabella's hand met his chest with a resounding smack. "Holy fuck, Bells," he gasped almost bending in two. "I told you I was sorry!" "That was for touching my TV. No-one fucks with it when Simon Cowell is on." He coughed out a laugh while rubbing his chest as she picked up the remote and turned it back on. Her mouth was seriously becoming dirtier. "Did you get a text from Alice?" Jamie asked when the first lot of commercials came on. He followed Isabella into the kitchen where she started rifling through her freezer. "Yeah, I did," she answered, pulling out a pint of Ben and Jerry's. "She called me earlier. It'll be so cool to have her back in the city. I didn't realise how much I've missed her until she said she was coming back." Alice Brandon was Isabella's best friend from college. They had both studied Literature and teaching and had graduated and taught together in London for a year. Alice had, for the past, two years been working in Texas where she lived with her boyfriend Jasper. Jasper, who worked for a telecommunications company, had recently been promoted and had accepted a job in the city meaning that they were both moving back. Alice had secured a supply post at an all-girls school until she found permanent work. Isabella was truly excited that she would have her friend back in town. She knew above all people that Alice would understand her need to teach at the prison. Alice and she had very few secrets and if she was honest, Isabella couldn't wait to tell her about the joband Cullen. "Well, we should get together this weekend," Jamie said as he took the spoon that Isabella was holding out for him. "We could go get food, have a few drinks. It'll be cool." "Sounds good," Isabella answered. She sat back down on the sofa and watched as Jamie moved his feet to rest on the coffee table. "Hey!" she practically yelled, making Jamie jump and almost choke on his spoonful of Cherry Choc Delight. "What?" he asked incredulously, watching in puzzlement as she pulled a stack of papers from where he was about to place his heels. "This is my student's work. It doesn't need your feet all over it." She placed the papers down on the other side of the table and exhaled.

"Sorry," Jamie muttered, glancing at the work out of the side of his eye. He noticed the name on the top line immediately. Cullen. He felt his chest squeeze tightly. That name again "So, how did your first one on one session go?" he asked gingerly, keeping his eyes on the screen. "You know with um...Cullen, is it?" Isabella eyed him cautiously and prayed that the skin on her face didn't give her away. "Itum, it went well," she answered nonchalantly. The truth was she had enjoyed every second of it, even when Cullen had acted his usual asshole self. It had to be said however that for the most part he had behaved himself and Isabella had been unable to hide her awe at his knowledge and insight into the work that she had given to him; work that he had completed with no argument. "Oh yeah?" Jamie asked with a cocked eyebrow. "So, no...trouble?" "Jamie," Isabella warned with her spoon half way to her mouth. "I'm making conversation, Bells, chill out," Jamie retorted quickly with wide innocent eyes. This not getting involved shit is gonna fucking kill me... Isabella sighed loudly. "Yes, it went great. No, there were no problems. He was very well behaved for the most part." "The most part?" Jamie echoed while scooping some more ice cream from the pot between them. "Yeah," Isabella answered with a small nod. "He can be a complete asshole." She looked between Jamie, the TV and the spoon in her hand before continuing firmly; unable to keep her words inside of her. "He hates authority - mine in particular - and has had a temper tantrum every time that we have met!" Jamie watched as her cheeks flushed slightly and her hands whirred about as she spoke as though the words couldn't come out fast enough. She lifted herself from the sofa and turned towards him, plopping herself back down as she continued. "The thing that annoys the shit out of me the most though is that he is so fucking intelligent it's absurd!" Jamie tilted his head back in understanding, holding onto the sarcastic comment that was just dying to slip through his lips. "I mean, look at this," Isabella urged as she picked up Cullen's work and practically threw it at him, "His answers, the depth that he goes into...and his knowledge? Oh my God...he just knewstuff!" Jamie glanced over the work in front of him, not really taking it in before looking up at Isabella quickly when she was suddenly silent. "What is it?" he asked softly, placing the work back on the table. Isabella's face had lost its excited pink glow and was all at once paler and without the spark that had been so present ten seconds before. Jamie loved that spark and had missed it for so long. It was so good to see her so full of life.

"It's just..." She took a deep breath as she swirled her spoon in the ice cream tub, but Isabella couldn't finish her sentence because she knew that Jamie wouldn't understand. Hell, she barely understood herself! All she knew was that above the anger that had raged within her when Cullen's punk ass attitude had appeared during their session, there was a tinge of something else. She felt hurt by it. She truthfully thought that they had made leeway in their relationship but he had managed to burst that with one dickhead remark and it had stung. She knew that it wasn't going to be easy but dammit she thought he'd at least meet her half way. "Just what, Bells?" Jamie asked softly, cupping her shoulder in his palm. "Nothing," she answered quietly with a small shrug. She looked up at him to see that he didn't believe the word that had just fallen from her lips. "It's nothing, Jay. I'm good, honestly." And then she smiled at him; a tight smile that held no real happiness, making Jamie even more concerned and more determined than ever to find out just who the hell this Cullen guy was. =PoF= The following afternoon found Garrett Volture tapping his pen impatiently on the desk in front of him while he watched the cigarette smoke as it travelled down Edward's nose, hitting his chest and bouncing elegantly back into the air around them. Edward had barely said five words since he had entered the sterile room forty minutes before and Garrett's patience was staring to run thin. "So, Charlotte is coming in on Thursday of next week to talk to you about the parole board meeting," Garrett said in one long exhalation. Cullen's eyes lifted to his councillor, instantly seeing the aggravation that etched his face. "Great," he offered. Garrett rolled his eyes. "Yes, it is. But, Edward, do you know what would be even greater?" Cullen shrugged. "What would be really great right now would be for you to stop acting like a child and talk to me about what happened last week!" Cullen kept his gaze on Garrett and flicked the ash off of the end of his cigarette. "Don't talk to me like that," he warned as his right eye twitched in annoyance. He knew that Garrett wanted answers and in truth, Cullen wanted to give them to him but he just didn't know how. He was still trying to get his own head around the fact that Peaches was no longer a girl he saved one night but was a walking, talking beautiful woman that just happened to be his personal tutor. Fuck's sake, he thought, you couldn't write this shit Garrett threw his pen down on the table and slammed himself back in his seat. "Don't give me that, Edward. I deserve to know why you reacted that way! Why did you have a panic attack and why did the doctor have to give you a sedative to knock your ass out for almost eighteen hours?"

Cullen drew in a long breath through his nose. Ordinarily Garrett's tone and attitude would have caused him to have a complete and utter bitch fit but the truth was, Cullen was too damn tired. He hadn't been sleeping. Since he had woken from his sedative induced blackness and realised who Miss Swan was he had been unable to rest. He had tossed and turned on his uncomfortable as shit cot bed while images of the night he had saved her, flashed through his head like a goddamn flick book. For so long the images had lulled him to a peaceful sleep but nowall they did was keep him awake. All she did was keep him a-fucking-wake. "I just" Cullen started, bringing Garrett forward in his seat slightly. "I just remembered something from a long time ago." Garrett placed his forearms slowly onto the table between them and pleaded with his eyes for Edward to continue. After five minutes he had still offered nothing more. Garrett exhaled, feeing mentally exhausted. He would get it out of him, he just had to bide his time. He had already driven his wife Kate crazy over the weekend as he talked none stop about an inmate that had collapsed in a state of panic. (He had kept all the main details confidential, although it killed him that he couldn't tell her.) "Fair enough," Garrett said as he lifted his hands in the air. "So tell me how your session with Miss Swan went." And there it was. The tightening in Edward's face. Garrett couldn't decide whether the whole panic attack had been brought on by or was something to do with the pretty teacher but he continued to chide himself for being so moronic. Seriously, they had been in classes a full week before the attack with Edward's only problem being that he couldn't keep his smart ass mouth shut. Garrett couldn't imagine what had changed. "It was ok, I guess," Edward answered with a nonchalant shrug and a quick glance at the clock to see how long it would be until his next meeting with her. One hour. He looked back at Garrett who was watching him intently. It immediately rubbed his shit the wrong fucking way. "I didn't throw anything if that's what you're fucking worried about!" he snapped, extinguishing his cigarette with a hard slam of his fingers into the ashtray. For fuck's sake he all of a sudden felt like he was in a fucking zoo being watched by snot covered kids. He didn't like it one bit. "Look, I'm doing what I was fucking told to do," he continued with a slap of his palm against his thighs and an agitated hand through his hair. "Shit, I even smiled at the pretentious bitch," he snarled, feeling a twist of guilt in his stomach as the word passed his lips. "Just leave me to do what the fuck I need to do to get this damn parole and everything will be just fucking peachy, ok?" He grabbed anxiously for another smoke. Garrett smiled gently as he watched him. "Peachy," he muttered as he picked up his pen.

"The fuck you say?" Edward hissed as he narrowed his eyes at his councillor. No fucking way was he happy about Garrett saying what he had in the tone that he had. The fucker knew shit all about him or his Peaches. "Nothing," Garrett replied, keeping his eyes on his papers as he placed them into his briefcase. "Well, fucking keep it that way," Edward growled, as he felt his fists clench and his pulse quicken while his leg began tapping up and down like fucking crazy. Garrett noticed this immediately and knew instantly that he needed to back off or change the subject. "Well, maybe we'll leave it for today?" he offered as he clipped his case shut. "Yeah, maybe," Cullen echoed with a sarcastic tone and a raised eyebrow. "I wouldn't want you to be late for Miss Swan," Garrett added as he pulled his jacket from the back of his seat. Cullen rolled his eyes and sucked on the cigarette between his lips. Garrett offered him three more before he placed the pack in his pocket. Cullen looked like he needed them and if it kept him from losing his temper with the poor girl then Garrett was all for it. "I'll see you Friday," Garrett said as he turned towards the door. "Whatever," Cullen muttered, feeling his body start to tense as he looked at the clock again. Forty-five minutes. =PoF= Fifty-five minutes later and Isabella was hurrying down the corridor towards the session room. She had met Garrett briefly on the corridor and had lost herself in the conversation with him about Cullen's parole officer and her upcoming visit. Garrett had tried to be optimistic with Isabella but deep down he was still to be convinced that her one on one sessions with Edward would make a whole lot of difference. It couldn't hurt though, right? Isabella herself was nervous about the entire parole situation and was silently praying that Cullen would behave for the foreseeable future so that there would be no reason why he couldn't be released early. As arrogant and as big of a prick as he was, Isabella knew that he wanted it. Why would he have agreed to the sessions if he didn't? She smiled at the guard on the door and walked in, pushing her hair back from her face to see Cullen standing in the far corner of the room, fisting his hands together with a droopy, almost finished cigarette dangling from his lips. His face was hard and, much to Isabella's dread became even harder when he looked at her. He pulled the cigarette violently from his lips, making the ash fall to the floor and glared at her. "Oh," he sneered. "And there was me, thinking that you were too fucking busy to keep an appointment." What the fuck is she playing at, keeping my ass waiting? What other things does she have to do than be with me for our session?

Isabella exhaled and placed her bag onto the table. She held her tongue hearing Angela's words echo around her head about routine and it being vitally important to the inmates. "I'm sorry," she said firmly as she watched him stride across the room from one side to the other like a caged lion. He was stunning. "I would have been here on time but I met Garrett on the way here and-..." "What?" Cullen yelled, making Isabella jump and the guard by the door reach a hand quickly to the baton on his waist band. Isabella looked back at Cullen curiously. "What?" She echoed calmly, having no idea why he was so angry. "And what the fuck did he say to you, huh?" Cullen cried, feeling his heart pound in his chest as he took a giant step towards her. What if he's said something to her about my panic attack? What if he had mentioned Peaches? Cullen had nearly dropped himself in it when he had muttered that word to her on their session the day before. How hard would it be for Garrett to do the same? No, Garrett wouldn't do that...would he? He didn't know who or what Peaches was... Isabella crossed her arms over her chest and looked up at him, her eyes taking in the look of anger and agitation that was rippling across his face. His green eyes were wide and almost...panicked? "We just talked about your parole officer coming next week, that's all," Isabella replied calmly with a shrug. "He wanted me to talk to her about our sessions. He thinks it will help your application if I'm involved directly." She watched as the fire in his eyes dimmed slightly and his strong, broad chest began to slow with the breaths that he was taking. He swallowed hard and Isabella found herself unable to pull her stare from his Adam's apple as it bobbed at the front of his throat. I wonder if it tastes like an apple...? She cleared her own throat and shook her head slightly of the inappropriate thought that had just entered her head. "So again, Cullen, I apologise. I'm here now so we can get to work." She dropped her arms to her sides, trying to appear none defensive and gestured slowly to the chair by the table. Cullen watched her, letting his stare roam across her face, taking her in. It felt like fucking forever since he had seen her and it bothered him enormously as to why he cared so fucking much after just twenty-four hours. He ran another hand through his hair and finally moved to his chair, sitting slowly but purposefully. He needed to get a grip on the damn situation. She already had so much power over him and he had to try and slow it. He knew he couldn't stop it because fuck, she was Peaches so by definition she would always have a hold over him but he needed to keep it on his terms at all times.

"So, what exciting shit have you got for me today, Miss Swan?" he asked as he slumped further into his chair. Be a prick, be the punk ass she knows so well... "Because I have to tell you, I am on the edge of my fucking seat in excitement," he deadpanned. Isabella however ignored his language as well as his tone even though they sliced up her spine like a cold finger, and pulled her resources out of her bag. "We're staying with Tichborne for now. I wanted to go over the work that you did for me yesterday." "Great," Cullen responded dryly, pulling his last cigarette from his pocket. He clicked at the guard to bring him a match, which he did with his tongue placed firmly between his teeth. Cocky little fucker... Cullen inhaled the smoke deeply before starting to exhale but stopped abruptly when he noticed that Miss Swan was moving her chair around to his side of the tablethe fuck? He stared at her in shock as she sat down, crossed her bare fucking legs and began sorting through the papers in front of her. She paused when she couldn't take his eyes on her any longer. "What?" she asked incredulously. With the cigarette still hanging in awe from his mouth, he glanced down at her, at the space between them and then at the space she had left at the other side of the table. "Oh please," she scoffed in understanding. "What are you afraid of, that you'll catch teacher germs?" She rolled her eyes and looked back at the table. The truth was that she wanted to talk to Cullen in depth about his answers and sitting next to him would make that easier. As she noticed the incredulity on his face however she suddenly considered that it was maybe not the best idea she had ever had and began to shift uncomfortably in her seat while glancing at the oblivious guard. Cullen smirked at her response and pulled the smoke from his lips. "No, I'm not worried about that shit," he replied with a shake of his head. "I'm just surprised." "Surprised?" Isabella asked with a furrowed brow. "Why would you be surprised?" He shrugged and scratched his left forearm with the thumb of his right hand. "I'm surprised at how well you hide your fear." Her eyes narrowed and he noticed her small pink tongue flick out against her bottom lip. He held his breath as he felt his cock harden even further against his thigh. Fucking perfect. He grimaced. "I'm not scared of you," Isabella stated firmly, her eyes never leaving his. He smirked and the visual of him doing so started doing funny things to her body. "Oh, Miss Swan, you really shouldn't have said that," Cullen retorted in a voice low enough that it made Isabella's ribs vibrate. She looked at him for a beat, taking in his dark stare and his wry smile before she sat back in her seat and crossed her arms, unknowingly pushing her chest up and making it look all sorts of fucking

awesome from where Cullen was sitting. He rubbed his eyebrow with his index finger and dragged his eyes away from the tits in question. "And why should I be scared of you?" Isabella asked with a hint of mockery in her voice. Her position as top dog at that moment was quickly erased when Cullen moved forward in his seat towards her, breathing smoke down his nose in a way that it parted seductively as it hit his top lip. Isabella felt her breathing speed up and found herself blinking rapidly until he stopped so that his face was only a foot away from hers. He was beautiful. "You should be scared, Peaches," he murmured. He said it so quietly that his lips barely moved. "I am a dangerous criminal," he continued. "I'm a bad man. I have done things that would make your pretty little head spin and you being this close," he gestured with his chin between them. "Well, let's just say," his eyes met hers. "It just makes me want to be a bad man all over again." Sweet fucking Christ Isabella exhaled hard before swallowing in the same way. She was left so off balance that the fact that he had called her Peaches didn't even register with her. Cullen smiled to himself and sat back in his seat. He looked at the guard who had taken a step towards them and narrowed his stare, warning his uniform wearing ass to back the fuck off. Yeah, he had called her Peaches but what the fuck of it? She didn't know what the hell it meant and maybe, just maybe, him calling her by that name, would help keep his ass firmly on top of the clusterfuck that was the current situation. I can but fucking hope "I take it you liked my work, huh?" he asked in a conceited tone, holding back the urge to look at the expression of shock that he knew was still covering her entire face. Instead he looked through the comments that she had made on his writings. "It'sI, umyeah, itwhat?" Isabella croaked through her desert throat when her brain had finally rebooted and she was once again back in the room. "I said you liked this shit," Cullen replied, still not looking at her but secretly giving himself a huge fucking chest bump for the reaction that he had gotten from her. Yeah, I'm the shithard cocks are nothing compared to incoherency, Miss Swan Cullen had to admit to himself that she was still fucking hot when she was practically mute but he still preferred her fire. "So are we doing some fucking work today or what?" he snapped at her, bringing her back to Earth with a huge motherfucking bump. "Yeah, ok, give me a goddamn minute," Isabella answered curtly as she used the excuse of looking for a pen while she gathered her wits from around her fucking ankles. She cleared her throat and pulled the papers towards herself while leaning forward, placing her arm only half an inch from Cullen's.

They both felt thething: buzz, crackle, fizz, hum. Whatever it was, it was there in all its confusing glory, flickering between them like bees around honey and stinging the skin in a way that was, for Isabella, altogether too pleasurable. She managed to keep her arm in that position for about sixty seconds before she had to move it away from him. "You talk here about his use of metaphor," Isabella said as evenly as she could. "Why do you think he uses so many? You never explained that." "He does it because he's feeling sorry for his own ass," Cullen answered quickly. "He's frustrated and full of regret which is just bullshit." Isabella couldn't help but smile at his expressions. He was intelligent and wrote fluently but dammit if he couldn't articulate without cursing at least once a sentence. "Why is it bullshit? He regrets his decisions-" "But that's just it," Cullen interrupted. "Why regret something that he wanted to do? The only shit this fucker regrets is that his ass got caught." He patted his pockets and huffed in aggravation when he realised that he was out of smokes. "I mean, look how many times he uses 'I' or 'My'," he continued with a finger pressed hard against the paper that the poem was written on. "He's a self absorbed motherfucker who laments about how he hasn't achieved shit in his life." Isabella's eyes widened at his use of the word 'laments'. "Yes he does, but isn't that the tragedy of his situation? The fact that he is about to die at the age of twenty-eight and won't have a chance to achieve all he wants." Cullen scoffed and folded his arms across his chest. "He should have thought about that before he tried to kill the fucking monarch." His tone was hard and it made Isabella flinch. He was getting mad and something told her that it wasn't because of the poem that they were discussing. She wasn't even sure that they were even discussing that anymore. She sighed and decided on a new approach. "Ok, how about things you like about the poem? You said yesterday that you envy his clarity. Where do you see that?" Cullen bit the inside of his mouth in annoyance. He wasn't sure what had made him feel that way. Maybe it was the poem and the fact that he felt that it was his life that had been written in three fucking stanzas or maybe it was the way that Miss Swan was actually interested in his point of view. She was listening so intently to him and for some reason it unnerved the shit out of him. "Yeah," he replied after a moment of silence. "His clarity of life is the only thing that he has going for him. He realises that he's achieved fuck all in his twenty-eight years." He sighed. "It's fairly ironic that he wrote a fucking masterpiece the night before his death though, right?" He looked up to Isabella and cocked an eyebrow as he waited for her to respond but before she could even think of a reply the sound of her cell phone ringing in her bag shattered the moment. "Shit!" she exclaimed as she pulled her bag across the table.

The guard eyed her angrily. "You're not allowed cell phone devices in here, Miss Swan," he growled. "I know," she snapped back at him, making Cullen smirk. "But this is my own time so I put it in my bag from my locker. I wasn't thinking obviously." She frowned at the name on the screen and debated with herself for all of two seconds before she stood and walked to the other side of the room to answer it. "Jamie," she hissed quietly although it wasn't quiet enough for Cullen not to hear. "I'm working what is it?" "Shit, Bells, I forgot. I'm sorry, I thought you'd be finishedshit, II was just making sure we were still good for tonight?" "Yeah, we are," she answered while glancing back quickly at Cullen who was staring right back at her with a look so full of venom that it took her breath away. "Bells?" "Yeah, yeah, I'll meet you at seven," she answered quickly before hanging up and turning her cell off. She stood for a moment looking at the phone in her hands before she started walking back to her seat. She couldn't even begin to describe the feeling that was sitting hard and weighty in her stomach. Guilt? Anger? "I'm sorry about that," she mumbled as she threw the phone into her bag. Even before she could look back at Cullen he was on his feet and moving towards the door, holding his wrists out for the guard to cuff. "Yeah, well I'm done here," he growled. Isabella looked at him in alarm. "But we have forty minutes left-" "I don't give a fuck. I said I'm done," Cullen retorted in a voice so dangerously calm that it made all the hairs on Isabella's body stand on end. The guard looked at Isabella and shrugged before placing the cuffs on Cullen's wrists and radioing for the guard outside the door to come in. Isabella stood, feeling utterly impotent, trying to think of something to say before he left. "II'll," she stuttered as Cullen turned away from her. "Cullen," she said. The earnestness in her voice surprised even her. He turned his head to the side slowly, his profile in full Roman effect. He kept his eyes trained on the floor, not daring one bit to look back at her. "I'll see you on Thursday," she muttered as the door opened and the assisting guard walked in, gripping Cullen's right elbow. He didn't answer but simply dipped his chin in what Isabella hoped was a nod of agreement. The guards led him out the door and as it closed behind the trio, Isabella slumped down in her seat, engulfed by the silence while having no fucking clue what the hell had just happened.

8: Conflicted Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves. ~ Abraham Lincoln Cullen could feel the blood pounding in his ears. It echoed and reverberated around his skull, seemingly increasing the sounds of everything else around him, making him wince and flinch into himself. The thunderous way in which the guard's feet met the sterile floor of the prison ward made his eyes close momentarily. The crunch and creak of the fabric of his bitch ass uniform as he moved his flabby arms and dumpy legs, to the continuous clank and clatter of the metal that was around Cullen's wrists and waist; all of it. It was all too much. He stood, silent and vacant as shit poke face guard, Number One, un-cuffed him, once he was back in his cell. The guard eyed him suspiciously with tight lips and a shrug before closing the cell door, apparently flummoxed by the almost subdued aura that now surrounded Cullen. But subdued was a word that was so far off from describing Cullen at that moment that had he been a mind reader and heard the guard's thoughts, he would have laughed his punk ass off and then smashed the stupid motherfucker's face into the bars that had been between them. Because that was really how he was feeling. He wanted to smash, hurt, throw, kick, punch, maim and rip. Hell, he would spit, bite and scratch like a pussy bitch if it would only take away the huge ball of fucking hate and anger that was sitting like a lead fucking weight in the centre of his chest. He stood and stared out into the hallway of Block 17, trying to regain some type of normal, human perspective on the situation. He closed his eyes and breathed. He clenched his fists and dropped his forehead against the cold metal bar in front of him. She was with someone. 'Peaches' was no longer his. He swallowed and gritted his teeth, making his jaw flex and crunch under his ears as the cold of the metal bar tried its hardest to permeate the hot flesh of Cullen's face. It was, Cullen thought quickly, completely and utterly fucking ridiculous to even begin to think that she wouldn't be with anyone. Shit, the woman was fucking beautiful, anyone and everyone could see that. She was smart, passionate, funny, hell she stood up to his ass and without any glimmer of fear in her eyes which he found an incredible turn on. She was bound to appeal to men all over the damn place and that was ignoring the fact that until a week ago she had no idea that Cullen existed or even that they shared such an intense connection after one night fifteen years before. No, Cullen thought to himself as he rotated his body until the back of his head was resting on the bars; he had no claim on her, no excuse to feel such primal possessiveness over her, even if she was his Peaches. But then she would always be that to him. He exhaled hard and dropped his chin to his chest, feeling entirely dejected and more lost than he ever thought possible. He would have to let her go. He could only just function knowing who she was while being stuck in the one place he thought she would keep him out of. Let alone having the knowledge that, potentially, she went home toJamie every time she left is side. It embarrassed him and enraged him in equal measure, that she saw him as a punk ass criminal (which of course he was) and not the man that had saved her from an

almost certain death. Did she even remember? And if she had, had she told anyone about the boy that had held her for two hours in a door way while she cried? Did it fucking matter? He was in prison and she was out there and even when he did get out, there was no way on fucking Earth that she would want anything to do with him. She was too good for him. Plus, she taught him out of pity, not because she liked being near him because fuck, why would she like being near a fucking lousy assed criminal. No, he seethed at himself as he strode over to the table that held the Tichborne critique novel that he had take from the prison library the day before, he would just put a stop to the hold that she had on him. Enough was enough. But, even as the novel slammed hard against the white wash wall of his four-by-eight cell with a resounding bang, and even as Cullen dropped his full weight face down onto his bed, all he could think about and all he could see at the back of his eyelids was the look in her eyes, twenty minutes before, when he told her he was leaving. =PoF= Isabella threw her bags down even before she had shut her apartment door, which she did by using the heel of her shoe. Her car keys followed, thrown down with a sharp huff and an agitated and somewhat perplexed hand through her hair. What the fuck had happened? She had no idea what had occurred to make Cullen leave the way that he had. The session had been going so well. They had talked like two civilised human beings. Shit, she had even sat next to him (which she was still amazed at herself for). What the hell had changed between the conversations about metaphor in Tichborne's Elegy and the moment Cullen had decided that he was leaving? She kicked off her heels and stormed through her apartment towards the bathroom, pulling her blouse out of her skirt as she did, having no clue what the hell Cullen's problem was. She had to be honest with her self, his mood swings were giving her whiplash and additionally were on the verge of becoming downright boring. It must take up so much of his time and effort to act like such a complete prick all the time! He must be fucking exhausted. After stripping down, she stepped into the shower, groaning loudly as the water hit her at the nape of the neck, massaging the huge ball of tension that she had developed since staring her job at Arthur Kill. She let her thoughts drift to her time at the facility, more specifically her time with a certain Edward Cullen. Isabella was not ignorant. She knew that her own behaviour, in terms of her interaction with Cullen was borderline unprofessional. Her behaviour management with him was lax at best and she held onto her own temper around him by the skin of her teeth. She had tried so hard during this particular session though. She had tried to build bridges, even lay a fucking foundation for a bridge and he had, it seemed, been willing for her to do it. Until he left forty minutes early with no reason why. He didn't even look me in the eye.

She grimaced as she washed her hair before pushing her face under the water, trying her hardest to forget the clusterfuck of the day and focus on the night ahead. An hour and a half later and she was walking into Leah's favourite Italian restaurant in SoHo to be greeted by the girl herself. Isabella stifled a laugh as she looked at what her friend was wearing. A huge, flashing 25 badge covered the left breast of her cream blouse which was accompanied by a pink sash that said quite clearly, if the badge wasn't enough, that she was in fact the birthday girl. "Bells, you made it," Leah laughed as she hugged her friend and led her to a private room that her parents had no doubt booked especially for her. "Of course, I wouldn't miss it," Isabella replied before handing Leah a card and present. Leah squealed quietly when she looked down at the silver wrapping paper of the box in her hands. "Thanks," she beamed. "Can I open it?" "Well, it is your birthday," Isabella laughed back at her as she placed her purse down on the dark wood bar. She glanced around quickly to see Leah's parents, friends from college and Leah's work and Jamie sitting in the corner of the room withwas that Victoria? "I didn't know he was bringing her," Leah muttered in an annoyed voice, her eyes trained on the envelope in her hands that she opened with the nail of her thumb. She had felt rather than seen Isabella tense up when she saw who her asshole brother was with. Isabella rolled her eyes and shrugged. "Whatever," she sighed and ordered a Martini with extra olives. As far as she was concerned Jamie could do what he wanted in terms of his love life, even if he was a fucking idiot for taking Victoria back. There was no love lost between herself and Victoria but that was only because of the way the bitch had treated Jamie during their two year relationship. She had messed him around, played games with him and left him, with his head wedged firmly up his ass. Isabella had called Victoria up and threatened her to stay away from her friend or it would be her foot wedged up her bony ass. Victoria had tried to accuse Isabella of harassment which Isabella had found just about the funniest thing that she had ever heard. Yeah, there was definitely no love lost, for sure. "Isabella," Jamie said softly at her side as she placed her glass back down on the bar. She turned to him and smiled, giving him her left cheek to kiss. "You look great," he offered, gesturing to the black and red wrap dress that she was wearing. In truth she looked sexy as hell but he wasn't about to air that particular thought. "Thanks," she replied. "You too." He looked exceedingly handsome in a black button down with the sleeves rolled up and the top two buttons undone. The dark blue distressed jeans and dark brown boots finished the effortless look perfectly. Isabella knew that her best friend was good looking. Hell, many who had met him had called him 'hot' or 'sexy' and, dressed how he was, she could definitely see why. Jamie fiddled with the hem of his shirt and smiled. He was nervous and they both knew the reason why. That very reason was still sitting in the corner of the room glaring at Isabella like a hawk over the rim of her champagne flute. Isabella chuckled and shook her head.

"She's glaring, right?" Jamie asked, leaning his forearms on the bar. "Oh, yeah," Isabella replied. "I'm amazed I don't have holes burned into my damn forehead." Jamie snorted and closed his eyes for a second. "Nothing changes," he conceded. "What are you?" she started in exasperation before changing her mind quickly. "You know what, Jamie, never mind," Isabella murmured with a large sip of her drink. Jamie watched her face pinch and immediately felt like a complete prick. He knew that Victoria was no good for him and it made him feel like shit that Isabella was disappointed in him. He just couldn't explain the fact that the red-haired girl behind him had a hold over him that was almost as powerful as the one that Isabella had. Victoria was beautiful, sexy, smart, and the sex was fucking incredible but she could, in truth, be an utter bitch. They had spent the best part of the past forty-eight hours in bed together (he'd called in sick at work something he never did and would never tell Isabella) and as a result, he had found it impossible not to invite her to his little sister's birthday party. Leah was pissed as soon as the couple walked through the door, hand-in-hand. He wanted nothing more than to tell Isabella not to worry about him and his fragile heart but he knew that that would be a huge lie. "I know what I'm doing, Bells," he said gently, his large blue eyes, finding everything but her face to rest upon. The cocked eyebrow that met his statement told him that his best friend saw right through his bullshit. He laughed lightly and rubbed his hands down his stubbled face. Isabella watched him and couldn't help but rub her palm down his back to comfort him. He was going to get hurt again, she just knew it, but she didn't want to lecture him. She'd done it before and yethere he waswith heragain. Jamie hummed in appreciation at the feel of her warmth against his shoulder blade and winked at her. "I'm sorry about calling you at work today, Bells," he said quietly as he stood to his full height of sixone. "I honestly forgot that you stayed later on a Tuesday. I didn't get you into trouble did I?" Isabella rolled her eyes while shaking her head and was just about to chastise him for calling her during her session when she froze. Cullen. He had left after she had received Jamie's call. Why the hell would he have done that? Yes, it was unprofessional of her to answer her phone but hell, did it warrant his reaction? He had looked so angry, so venomous when she had looked at him as she spoke to Jamie... "Isabella?" Leah's voice brought her back to the moment. She turned to her friend, blinking back the image of Cullen's enraged stare. Leah was standing with the black, peep-toe Gucci pumps that Isabella had bought for her birthday, clutched to her chest as though they were the answer to life itself. "Thesetheyoh God, they are so pretty!" She flung her arms around Isabella and kissed her cheek hard. "Thank you, thank you!" Isabella and Jamie laughed at the goo-goo eyes that Leah was making over the shoes that she held and looked at each other knowingly as she took off around the room to show everyone.

"Nice, Bells," Jamie scoffed, "Like she needs another pair of damn shoes." "Easy, Damon," Isabella warned with narrowed eyes and a waggle of her index finger. "Those are $1,200 Gucci babies. Have some respect!" Jamie held his hands up in mock surrender, chuckling at Isabella's tone before putting them back into his pockets. "So," he continued as he gestured for the bar man to grab him a bottle of beer. "Were you in class when I rang?" Isabella glanced at him quickly before looking down at her own shoes. "No," she answered quietly. "Well, I was...I was tutoring Cullen." "Ah," Jamie replied with a nod of his head, trying like hell to ignore the flash of light that passed across her face as she said that damned name. She was such an open book. "I'm sorry again, Bells," he offered truthfully. He didn't want her to get in trouble. Isabella shrugged. "No biggy. I just had an irate inmate on my hands." She looked up at Jamie to see the colour drain from his face. "I'm kidding," she snickered. "It was fine." It may have only been a half truth but Isabella had no idea how to explain what had happened after Jamie had called her. "Fuck, Bells," Jamie exhaled, clutching his chest. "That wasn't fucking funny!" "It was funny," Isabella countered firmly. "Maybe it'll teach you not to call me at work unless your head is hanging off." "Understood," he replied with a wry smile. He glanced back over at Victoria and saw she was looking more than a little bored and a lot pissed that he was still standing talking to Isabella. He exhaled loudly and bit the inside of his mouth. He turned back to Isabella who looked at him sympathetically. It ripped him in two that she did that. "I'd better" he trailed off and threw his thumb over his shoulder. Isabella nodded and gave him a tight-lipped smile. "Yeah, you better had. I'm just waiting for her head to start spinning three-sixty." Jamie frowned at her gently but couldn't, for the life of him, hold back the small smile that crossed his lips as he turned and walked back towards the red-haired woman that would never be a match for the brunette he had just left standing at the bar. =PoF= Two days later found Isabella back in front of her normal class, laughing at Emmett as he waxed lyrical about 'the dumb-fuck-Shakespeare,' and his 'stupid pussy language.' "I mean," he cried loudly. "Why the fuck can't he just say that Shylock was pissed instead of spouting all this shit with 'thou', 'thee' and the rest of it?" He looked at his teacher with wide expectant eyes. "You actually want me to answer that, Emmett?" she asked with a small giggle.

"Shit, yeah, Miss S!" he hollered. "Why is he talking about ewes and 'woolly breeders' and who the fuck is 'Jacob'?" Isabella gestured with her hands in a 'T' shape for him to stop and calm down. She had only given the class the first Act of The Merchant of Venice but it appeared to have been too much too soon. Even with background context and detailed character sheets, the entire class appeared lost. Emmett slammed back in his seat and huffed dramatically. It pissed him off no end that he felt completely confused by the stupid words that were in front of him. "Ok," Isabella sighed, placing her copy of the text face down on her desk. "Maybe we're going a little fast." A collective mummer of affirmatives and curses wafted around the room. All except for Sam, who sat, enthralled in the language on the page in front of him. He loved Shakespeare. Isabella smiled at him quickly before focusing back on the entire class. "So, you all understand that Shylock, the loan shark, is a Jew, yes?" Isabella asked and was greeted with a round of slow nods. "Ok, and from the context material that I gave you, what do we understand about the religion of the time in England?" "They were all Christian," Sam murmured, with his face still engrossed in the pages before him. "Absolutely, Sam and what were people's thoughts on none practicing Christians at that time? For example, how did everyone see Shylock and the fact that he is a Jew?" "He would have been discriminated against. That's why he's so" He glanced at Emmett, "Pissed." Emmett blinked rapidly back at Sam. "Holy shit, Sammy, did you just try to be funny?" The class laughed, including Sam who shrugged nonchalantly at Emmett's jesting. "Quil," Isabella said loudly. "Ma'am," he responded with a sly wink. "What's your favourite ice cream flavour?" He bit the inside of his mouth and glanced at the ceiling, "Umstrawberry?" "Fucking gay," Tyler muttered under his breath, which garnered a stern look from Isabella. Tyler immediately looked remorseful and dropped his chin to his chest with downcast eyes. The relationships that Isabella was building with each individual student were becoming more and more evident with each session. She felt more in control and more respected which was a damn good feeling. "Ok, so Quil, imagine that you are Shylock and you live in a world where you love strawberry ice cream but everyone else around you loves chocolate. Everyone. No-one else likes strawberry and they diss and say hateful things to you constantly because of it: every day, all day, for your whole life." "Shouldn't be too hard to imagine people hating your guts, hey Quil?" Emmett said with a grin as he stretched his mammoth arms into the air above his head. Quil flipped him the finger under his desk out of Isabella's sight.

"But now imagine that the ice cream works like cash," Isabella continued. "Imagine, Emmett, that you are Antonio and that all the chocolate ice cream you have is worth about $20 but the strawberry that Quil has is worth $1000. How does that change his position in society?" Emmett frowned towards Isabella and then at a smug looking Quil. "I'd say give me some of that fucking strawberry ice cream!" "Exactly," Isabella said. "But you and all your chocolate loving buddies have dissed and cussed Quil and his love of strawberry. How would he feel if you asked for some of it?" "I'd say get fucked!" Quil laughed as he slapped his thigh heartily. "Which is why, when Antonio approaches Shylock for a loan, Shylock is so...pissed," Isabella concluded. "Because Antonio cussed Shylock for being" Emmet paused, "a Jew, but still asked him for money?" "Bingo," Isabella beamed back at him. "Two-faced motherfucker," Tyler muttered with a shake of his head. All the faces in front of her suddenly lit up in understanding. She breathed a sigh of relief and once more picked up her text. "Let's try again shall we? The Merchant of Venice, Act One." =PoF= Later that afternoon under the burning July sun Emmett and Cullen sat side by side in their normal spot, smoking and watching the basketball game that was becoming somewhat heated. Cullen snorted loudly as Liam O'Reilly barged into Quil, leaving him sprawling across the asphalt "Dick," Emmett muttered, with a shake of his head. "Agreed," Cullen conceded with a smirk and a drag of his smoke. Cullen blew the smoke out of his lungs slowly, cherishing the relaxing sensation that washed over him every time that he sparked up. He had hardly slept the past two nights and his patience and tolerance for all things Arthur Kill were at an all time low. He hadn't really wanted to be sociable but he had a lot of time for Emmett and couldn't refuse the offer of a smoke. His mind was still twisted in on itself as it had been since the abrupt ending of his session with Peaches, with him only coming to one, definite conclusion. He had to stop seeing her. It wasn't doing him or his mental state any good. He would talk to Garrett and work something out before his parole officer meeting. He had to. He'd already had a talk with Newton about stopping the classes and he would broach the subject with his councillor during their meeting which was scheduled for the next day. He didn't care what it meant for his application for early release, he simply couldn't continue the way that he was.

He was learning slowly but surely that the fact that Peaches saw him behind bars - as a social reject, as an unlawful citizen, as a criminal - had been crushing his soul gradually and torturously every day since he had realised who she was. The truth was, was that she was just about the only good thing that he had done in his life and to wake up in his shithole cell and be constantly reminded of the epic fuck ups of his life while she was there, was just too much to take. It was confusing and depressing as hell. He felt suffocated and lifeless and he once again found himself rubbing his hand across his chest to ease the ache that had resided there since his Tuesday session. "So, Cullen, how are your Lit sessions going?" Emmett asked as blas as he could. In truth Emmett was fucking itching to find out how the two of them had been coping being in such close proximity to each other. Fuck me, I bet it's like the clash of the fucking Titans. He smiled to himself as he thought about Miss. S laying Cullen out on his ass with one hand behind her back and a Shakespearean novel in the other. Cullen cleared his throat and flicked his cigarette across the yard. He wanted to tell Emmett that he had decided to stop attending the classes that he had had enough, but that would only lead to more questions and Cullen had neither the time nor the inclination to even think of excuses to satisfy them. Oh yeah, Emmett, it turns out that Miss Swan is actually Peaches, the girl who's life I saved fifteen years ago and has had a place in my soul ever sinceYeah, no fucking way "They've gone ok so far," he answered quickly as he leaned back against the wooden bench table. "Well, when she's not being an uptight bitch," he added for effect. The words felt like shit on his tongue but hell, image was everything. Emmett smirked and cocked an eyebrow at him and his pale, drawn face. He looked tired as fuck. "She's not that bad, man," he offered. "Fuck, she's the first tutor that I've had that has actually taught me something. I mean, shit, we've been doing Shakespeare and I have actually liked it." He laughed loudly and widened his eyes at the absurdity of his own words. "Shakespeare, huh?" Cullen asked through closed lips. "Yeah, The Merchant of Venice," Emmett said, silently pleased with himself that he had remembered the title of the fucking thing. Cullen's head snapped toward the large man at his side. "You're shitting me?" he almost shouted. Emmett frowned and looked quickly around himself, "No. Why?" Cullen clenched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes. The Merchant of Venice, he museda debt to be paid in a pound of fleshfucking perfect, Peachesfucking perfect. "No reason," he answered after a moment, laughing humourlessly into his palms that he rubbed down his face. His next sarcastic comment was halted by the basket ball that slammed into his side, hard leaving him slightly winded. He was on his feet in seconds, glaring around the court that had become almost

silent. He looked down at the ball that was still spinning on its side at his feet and bent down to pick it up. He lifted it wordlessly and held it up in question. Which motherfucker needs killing? Emmett sat silently in his seat, waiting for the inevitable explosion of wrath that was almost visible on Cullen's face. He leaned forward, ready to jump in when the fireworks went off. After an age, Tyler Crowley stepped forward looking horrendously nauseous and doubly guilty, his eyes flickering from Cullen, to the ball in his hand and back again. Shit! "Mymy bad, Cullen," he croaked as he stepped closer to the potential psychopath before him. "I hit the ball in defence and...I didn't mean for you to...fuck, man I'm sorry." Tyler continued to stammer and shift his weight from foot to foot suddenly feeling light headed at the thought of the impending shit storm that was about to crash over him, but Cullen's attention had been drawn to the car lot on the other side of the cage he found himself in and the prize that rested at the other side of it. Peaches, was standing at her car, pulling something from the trunk. Leaning over into the small car, she was wearing another tight, sexy as all hell, grey skirt with a black blouse and tall heels which made her legs look long, lean and just about good enough to suck on. Cullen swallowed hard as a familiar throb began down his body. He continued to watch her, transfixed as she turned from her Mini Cooper back towards the facility with a large bag in her hand. The sun, that was burning the asphalt, caught her hair in such a way that, for one split second, she looked like an angel with a brunette halo. She was fucking beautiful. Tyler chanced a moment to look over his shoulder towards whatever had caught Cullen's attention and smirked as he caught the back of Miss Swan's ass as it disappeared into the main building door. "Fuck yeah," he murmured before biting his lip. Bitch had a fine ass. "'Scuse me?" Cullen growled through teeth that were pressed together hard enough that they could have bent steel. There was no way in hell that the shit head before him was stupid enough to make a comment on his Peaches, let alone look at her the way that he just had. The man had a serious fucking death wish. "What did you just say?" he asked in a calm as death voice that made even Emmett shift in his seat. Tyler looked at Cullen in confusion, frowning at the expression on Cullen's face. "I...I was just..." He pointed over his shoulder. "Miss Swan and..." "Miss Swan and...fucking what?" Cullen seethed, dropping the basket ball so that it bounced twice and rolled to the feet of Sam who looked down at it in surprise from his seat on the adjacent bench where he had been engrossed in a book. Tyler meanwhile was trying like hell to find an answer in his head that wouldn't result in his face being pummelled. He had no idea why Cullen was reacting the way he was but the look in his eyes was murderous and fucking terrifying. They were so dark against his pale skin that he looked un-human, predatory, and ready to draw blood.

"II" Tyler continued, becoming lost in a sea of words and panic. He looked quickly in alarm at Emmett whose eyes were fixed on Cullen as he took a slow step towards the motherfucker in front of him. If shit was going to go down, it was Cullen he'd need to hold back first, of that there was no doubt. Emmett had never seen him look so dangerous. "You like the look of her do you?" Cullen asked his voice still so low that it was almost a rumble in his chest. Tyler took a tentative step back, his breath leaving his chest in quick heaves that hurt his throat. He swallowed and tried to speak but his voice, like his so called buddies, had fucked off and left him alone to fight the mad man looming over him. "She's" Tyler managed. "She's what?" Cullen asked, cocking his head slightly to the right. "Come on, Tyler. What were you thinking just now about Miss Swan?" Fuck! "She'sshe's nice," he whimpered, knowing for a fact that should he say that he thought she had an ass that would be awesome to spank, that he would be breathing through a tube for the rest of his life. He knew it and Cullen knew it. But, unlike Tyler, Cullen couldn't see reason or even begin to be rational. He couldn't see anything through the fog of rage that surrounded him. He had seen it in Tyler's face that he wanted his Peaches and didn't need to be a fucking mind reader to know what kind of dirty, perverted thoughts he had had about her. Mine! The blood was once again coursing through his veins like a tsunami as he heard the echo of Peaches' voice as she had spoken into the phone. Jamie. He had herand Cullen didn't and there was fuck all he could do about it. Tyler, on the other hand, fantasised about her, wanted her, and was standing just a foot away from him. Unlucky fuck. And as quick as that thought entered his head, Cullen had pulled his right fist back and slammed it square into Tyler's face. The satisfying crunch of his nose was immediately muted by the shouts of encouragement from the other inmates, mingled with the whistles and stampeding feet of the guards who had been oblivious to the entire exchange between the two men for the whole sixty seconds that it had lasted. Tyler hit the floor like a lead weight, crying out and clutching his face as his eyes streamed, but was barely conscious of the fact that he was no longer vertical before Cullen was on him again, punching, kicking and grabbing in such a way that Tyler was convinced he had grown extra arms and legs just to spite him. Cullen was relentless. He had no control over his body at that point. He simply let the fury, ache and disgust in him self take over. Emmett was up on his feet by this point, gripping Cullen by the waist, trying to heave him away while shouting for him to calm his stupid, aggressive ass down before the whole lot of them ended up in solitary. He pulled and lifted with everything he had. Cullen, who was lost in the adrenaline and pain in his fists, managed a couple more kicks at Tyler, before he relented to the giant man's strength and the hurt in his soul and collapsed, entirely defeated against his chest as the guards descended.

=PoF= "What do you mean he's not attending?" Isabella asked, unable to hide the annoyance and irritation in her voice as she stood, arms folded, glaring at Mike Newton who was sitting in the leather backed chair behind his large wooden desk. Isabella had been called to him fifteen minutes before her allotted session with Cullen, to be told that her student had been involved in some type of altercation and wouldn't be able to go to attend her sessionsindefinitely. "What kind of altercation?" Isabella continued, allowing Newton no time to answer her first question. "I mean" She paused. "Is he ok?" Her voice softened as the words left her mouth. She couldn't deny that she was worried that he had gotten hurt. Why else would he be unable to study with her for an indefinite amount of time? How hurt was he? "He is fine," Newton scoffed, picking up a pen from his desk and playing with it between his index fingers. "The other guynot so much." That was putting it lightly. Tyler Crowley was left with a broken nose, a fractured jaw and bruised ribs. He was a mess and would be in the clinic for a good week at least. "Tyler Crowley will also be missing from your regular timetable for a time. I'll keep you posted on when that will change." Isabella dropped her hands to her sides. "Wait. What? Tyler and Cullen? What the hell went on today?" Newton looked at the expression on Isabella's face and saw not only annoyance at his evasiveness but also worry. She was actually worried about those two losers. Fuck's sake. He cleared his throat, resigned to the fact that he was going to have to be honest with her and leaned forward in his chair. "Cullen decided that he would take some of his pent up anger out of poor Tyler's pretty little face today in the yard. As a result he has been remanded in solitary for forty-eight hours and then will be cautioned and moved to another block where he is less likely to find any trouble." Newton could but hope. Isabella frowned, putting the fact that Cullen had pummelled another man at the back of her mind to think about later. "But that doesn't explain why he won't be in any of my lessons next week. You said he wouldn't be attending indefinitely." "Yes," Newton answered quickly with a sharp nod. "Cullen and I had a talk yesterday about your sessions and he has decided that he no longer wants to partake in them. He was very succinct about it." Understatement, Newton thought dryly. Cullen had practically demanded his civil rights to be taken out of the one-to-one lessons. Newton was even more surprised that Cullen had asked to speak to him first and not his dickhead councillor Garrett Volture. It was clear that Cullen was upset about something and as much as Newton wanted to close his eyes to it, he couldn't help but think that it had something to do with the beautiful woman standing in his office. Isabella listened to the words that Newton spoke and let them saturate her mind. She couldn't understand why she then suddenly felt breathless and weak on her feet, "Wh-what?"

Newton smiled sardonically at the way her face scrunched in confusion. "Cullen was adamant that he no longer wants to take English Literature" "But his parole," Isabella interrupted with outstretched palms. "He's doing it so that he can get early parole." Newton didn't hide his amusement at that particular statement. "Miss Swan, after today's outburst, he wouldn't be able to get parole if he chanted one hundred Hail Mary's in Latin and took to hand rearing cute baby chicks." Isabella ignored his facetious tone, biting her tongue, hard, but failed dismally at stopping her eyes from narrowing at the prick sitting in front of her. "He doesn't want to do them anymore," Newton said firmly when he noticed this. "He's obviously not made for the world of Literature." He shrugged ignorantly and leaned back in his seat. Isabella was convinced that he saw it as a fucking throne. "For your information, Mr Newton," she said as evenly as she could after taking a deep calming breath. "Cullen is an extremely intelligent and gifted individual whose knowledge of Literature is exemplary." Newton smirked. "Is that so?" he asked with patronising a tilt of his head. "Yes," Isabella retorted, hardly moving her mouth. "And if you spoke to him and treated him like a human being instead of an animal then you might just see it for yourself." Newton was immediately incensed. "You will watch your tone, Miss Swan," he snapped. "You may not like it, but I am your superior and you will treat me with the respect that that title deserves." Isabella closed her mouth quickly and dropped her eyes to the floor, utterly bewildered by the fact that tears were stinging the back of them. She took a long breath through her nose and swallowed. "I'm sorry," she muttered, lifting her eyes slowly, hoping beyond hope that he couldn't see the emotion that she was holding back. "You're right. That was completely out of line and I apologise." Newton watched her, trying to catch her in a bullshit lie but found that she seemed sincere enough. He nodded slowly. "Apology accepted," he retorted quietly. He pressed his palms to the desk between them and sighed. After a couple of moments of tense silence he was just about ready to tear his hair out. "Look," he murmured. "I understand that you feel some sort of" He waved his hand dismissively. "You care for the inmates" "Students," Isabella interjected softly. "Yes," Newton said with an exasperated breath. "But they are what they are, Miss Swan. They are criminals. They have turned their back on the values and morals of society, flicked them the finger and lived their lives bringing pain and misery to everyone around them. They are here because of that. They forfeited their freedom so that they could get high, rob an old lady of her last savings or steal a car because it gives them a thrill." Isabella tried to understand what he was saying. She above all people knew what it was like to be on the receiving end of someone who had turned their back on morals and integrity to instead choose a

life of causing others hurt and pain. But her students were in a different league than the men who stole her father away. They had been pure evil. Her students were misguided. She could be seen as being ignorant herself but she knew malevolence when she saw it and there was not a hint of it in the men she taught. Especially Cullen. She felt her chest tighten again inexplicably. "Do you understand what I'm saying, Miss Swan?" Newton asked with a dip of his chin as he watched her face shimmer with a hundred different emotions. She nodded silently in response. "Good," he answered. "Once again, I'm sorry about Cullen. He is unpredictable but on the brighter side you'll at least have more time on your hands." He smiled but Isabella didn't return it. She couldn't help but mull over the reasons why Cullen would suddenly want to stop meeting with her. They had just started to get along. They were communicating better. She had seen such glimmers of brilliance and his temper had been so much more controlled. What the hell had changed? Why did he not want to spend time with her anymore and why the hell did that sting so damn much? She dropped her shoulders and looked back at Newton who was eying her expectantly. "I'll see you in the morning," she offered before turning around and leaving the stuffy office and its equally stuffy occupant. Isabella grabbed her bags from the staff room and strode out of the building towards her car, glancing quickly at the inmates that were hanging out on the courts and yard. Her thoughts immediately went to Cullen and how he was doing. Was he in pain? How did he cope in solitary? She instantly felt guilty, knowing that he had in an apparently unprovoked attack left Tyler in a hell of a state. And more to the point why the fuck did she care so damned much? She threw her bags into the trunk and slammed it shut before dropping herself heavily into the driver's seat. There was more to this, there had to be. She just couldn't seem to fathom why Cullen had behaved the way he had: leaving her in anger and then beating a man to a pulp. He was desperate for early parole, any fool could see that. None of it made any sense. She pushed her hands through her hair and cursed her self and her stubborn, tenacious nature. She needed answers and she knew that there was only one man that could give them to her. After a couple of minutes consideration, she flipped open her phone and scrolled through her phone book before pressing call. "Hello?" The voice answered on the third ring. "Hello, Garrett, this is Isabella Swan. Are you free to talk? It's about Cullen." Chapter 9: Mercy If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. ~ William Blake Garrett Volture was thirteen when he broke the law for the very first time.

He was dared, by his best friend Kyle, to steal a dirty magazine that they had both been eying in fascination since it had appeared, five days before, on the top shelf of the small shop that they frequented every day as they walked home from school. It was a glossy and glorious affair of bright reds and blues, with a picture of the most incredible woman Garrett and Kyle had ever seen emblazoned on the front cover. She (in his mind, Garrett had named her Tina) was lounging across a haystack - strawberry blonde hair cascading around her head wearing tiny denim shorts and a blue and red plaid shirt that was about three sizes too small for her. As a result, Tina's boobs spilled gloriously over the top of it. And, if that wasn't enough to stir the testosterone of two horny thirteen year old boys, then the fact that she was - with plump, luscious lips - sucking on an ear of corn, just about finished them both off. The vision had, for both boys, been a well used source of masturbatory release on many occasions in those five days. Garrett had always been tall for his age. At the age of ten he was already over five feet ten and at the age of thirteen he was half an inch shy of six feet. This fact had always been a pain in the ass for Garrett. He got called names: 'Giraffe' and 'Bean-Pole' being the two most commonly used and he frequently wished and prayed that he would stop growing, just long enough for his friends to catch up so that he would no longer be referred to as the 'lanky freak'. But, from the day that magazine appeared and Tina was brought into his life, he had praised every deity he could think of for the gift of height. The top shelf, that was such a taboo, was no match for Garrett Volture. He and Kyle came up with the plan on how to steal Tina while they were sitting in their Physics class. It was a simple enough arrangement; Kyle would distract Mr. Aziz, the shop owner, long enough for Garrett to take the magazine and place it on his book bag. They would run back to Garrett's house (as his parent's would still be at work) and the two of them would ogle over Tina and her luscious lips and boobs to their heart's delight. Yes, it was a great plan! As discussed in detail, Kyle entered the shop first, keeping clear from the magazine racks as to avoid any immediate suspicion from Mr. Aziz. Garrett watched surreptitiously through the glass door as his friend wandered along the chip and dip aisle before sauntering into the shop as cool and as calm as he could. His heart was in his throat and weirdly, it wasn't because he knew he was about to break the law. It was because finally she, Tina, would be his. He felt the familiar stirrings of desire in his stomach as he walked nonchalantly towards her, gazing at her lips and boobs before swallowing audibly in anticipation. He listened to Kyle as he chattered on at Mr. Aziz about the 'damn Science project' that he was working on and glanced around himself nervously. There was no one near him. There was no one around. It was now or never. He looked at the magazine, Tina urging him on with her large blue eyes and, before he could stop himself, he had grabbed it, quickly rolling it as he did and had pushed it forcefully into his bag. He almost gasped in relief when he looked to see that apparently he had done it without anybody noticing. Success! Operation 'Steal-Tina' was complete. He cleared his throat to communicate to Kyle that the egg was in the nest and walked calmly towards the door. And that's when the shit hit the fan. Apparently, unbeknown to the two highly sexed youths, Mr. Aziz had been more than a little aware of the duo's fixation with the top shelf of his shop and had, in his wisdom, installed a camera. He had done so just to keep an eye on them, to make sure that they didn't take innocent gazing to the level

of touching or reading. He was hopelessly aware of their young age and even more aware that the dark haired boy was tall enough to reach and take whichever magazine he wanted. As Garrett's hand had touched the cold metal of the door push, Mr. Aziz called down the aisle. "Are you going to pay for that?" Now at this point Garrett had one of three options. One escape with his Tina, run like a motherfucker and never look back, leaving Kyle to take the heat. Two turn and look as innocent as he could and act dumb to the entire thing or three pull it out of his bag, put Tina back and hope to shit that Mr. Aziz would accept whatever apology he could come up with before he called his parents. It took him around thirty seconds to make his mind up. He got as far as the next street before two police officers cornered him, sweating and frantic and grasping his book bag to his chest as though it was his actual heart that was tucked between his school books. It certainly felt that way when they took it away from him. He had never been as mortified as he had been when the police officer took him home after delivering a severely pissed Kyle at his own door. Garrett's parent's, his mother especially, were utterly astonished that their youngest and most promisingly academic son could want to look at 'filthy porn.' Garrett had rolled his eyes at that particular comment from his mother. He was a thirteen year old boy of course he wanted to look at fucking boobs and filth. He had been sent to his room after a lecture from his mother about respecting women and behaving accordingly. His father had stood at her side, nodding but silent, looking at Garrett as though he felt sorry for him. It didn't help Garrett's embarrassment that his hero-worshipped father felt that way about him. A day later, after coming home from school Garrett discovered a brown paper bag and a note tucked under his pillow. Garrett was bemused by the note that simply read; Keep this between you and me, Son. Enjoy. Dad. Enclosed in the brown paper bag was the glossy magazine with Tina smiling seductively up at him. He had been euphoric. This story had been relayed many times over the years (even on Garrett's wedding day) and was the sole reason that Kate Volture, Garrett's wife, was sitting on top of her husband, riding him like her life depended on it. She was wearing a child's red and blue plaid shirt that almost cut off her breath, with an ear of corn tucked into the hair on her head that was an utter mess from her husband's manic hands grappling through it when she had gone down on him twenty minutes before. Garrett held her hips tightly as she moved over him, completely enraptured by the woman that engulfed every inch of him. Tina had been his fantasy until he went to college and met his wife. From the moment he saw her walking across campus with her books pressed to her chest, he knew that Kate embodied everything that he would ever want or need. She was fucking spectacular then and she was even more so as she moved above him. And her tits? Christ al-fucking-mighty they were magnificent. They were spilling over the plaid in a way that was both teasing and hot as hell. Garrett couldn't help but palm them, hard.

Kate leaned her head back, her light blonde hair skimming Garrett's legs and rested her hands on his thighs behind her as he began to thrust. She groaned and moaned loudly in a way that Garrett knew only too well. "Come on, Katie," Garrett panted as he drove up into her perfect heat. "Give it up. Cum for me." She clenched her bright blue eyes shut and shook her head. Defiant. Garrett grinned. Fucking sexy. Without taking himself out of her, Garrett grabbed Kate around the waist, sat up and flipped them over so that he was on top of her. Taking his wife's breath away, he lifted her legs onto his shoulders and began pounding into her the way that he knew she fucking loved. She screamed out immediately and gripped onto his shoulders as she came hard around him, clenching and wet, drawing his own orgasm from deep within his stomach. He cried out for her, spent and sweating, before dropping his head into the crook of her neck. "Jesus, Katie," he grunted into her skin while placing soft kisses across her collarbone. "You're incredible." Kate laughed gently from underneath her husband, loving the feel of him so heavy and strong above her. She ran her hands into his black hair and kissed his temple. "You're not so bad yourself, Cowboy," she answered, smiling into his lips as he groaned at her words, "Happy anniversary." "You too, sweet girl," he murmured, their lips still together. He cupped her face and nuzzled her nose. "I love you." The words, to Garrett, seemed exceedingly inadequate in explaining to his wife how he felt about her. She was everything to him and had been since he met her eighteen years before at college. They had been married for fifteen years and had one daughter, Irina, who was nine. They had struggled for children when they first married, with Kate suffering three miscarriages. Finally, after two years of IVF and heart ache they had been successful and Irina came into their lives. Garrett never knew just how much a father could love his daughter. She was beautiful, smart and had him wrapped snugly around her little finger. He adored her. "I love you too," Kate replied, before kissing him again. At thirty-six, Garrett Volture could happily say that he was perfectly content with his lot. After he and his wife had made love twice more, once in the shower and once on the kitchen floor (just because they had the house to themselves and could), they curled up together on the sofa and settled in to watch some old movies that they both loved. The phone ringing was as unexpected as it was an inconvenience. Garrett had cursed and grumbled as he unravelled himself from his wife. This shit had better be good. It had been Mike Newton, calling to tell him about Edward's indiscretion. Garrett had clenched his teeth and his eyes as he seriously considered all of the ways in which he could kill the little greeneyed bastard with his bare hands. Indiscretion! What the fuck was he playing at? Edward knew that

his parole was coming up and he suddenly decides to assault a fellow inmate? Fucking genius, Edward! Newton had explained about Edward's solitary stint and his eventual move to a different block that would, in Newton's eyes, keep Edward out of trouble. Garrett doubted that 100%. If the stupid prick couldn't keep his fists to himself a week before his parole officer meeting, he was damn sure he wouldn't do it just because he was on a different block. He kept these opinions to himself however, knowing that Newton would only contradict everything that Garrett said. He was a little fuck-wit that way. "What's wrong, Sweetie?" Kate asked as Garrett crawled back against her on the sofa. "Edward," he muttered into her hair as he closed his eyes and breathed her in. Kate nodded in understanding. She knew very little about the inmates that Garrett dealt with but she knew about Edward and the headaches that he had given her husband since he had become his councillor. Kate didn't push Garrett any further, knowing that ultimately he would tell her anything he needed to when he was ready. He always did. She simply kissed his hair and rubbed his back in comfort. He was almost asleep when the phone rang two hours later. Kate tried to reach for it but he stopped her, knowing that if it was the facility they would want to speak to him directly. "Hello?" he answered with a thick throat. I should have unplugged the fucking thing. "Hello, Garrett? This is Isabella Swan. Are you free to talk? It's about Cullen" Garrett was immediately on point. Shit, what now? "Um...hey, Miss Swan. Yeah, what can I do for you?" Isabella sighed at the end of the phone, willing the tears that were threatening to fall to just stay where they were. She was angry and entirely confused about her conversation with Newton and felt a sting deep in her stomach that she couldn't identify. "I'm not sure if you know about what happened today...?" "Yes," Garrett informed her with a sigh. "I know what happened." Isabella shook her head despondently down the phone. "I just don't understand why he would do that," she said incredulously while lifting and dropping her shoulders in confusion. "And thento say that he doesn't want to see me anymore..." She trailed off slowly, wishing immediately that she had chosen her words a lot more carefully. But Garrett wasn't worried about her choice of vocabulary. "I'm sorry, Miss Swan," Garrett said with a furrowed brow. "What was that about him not wanting to see you?" Isabella ran a hand through her hair and exhaled again. "He's told Newton that he wants to stop our sessions..."

Garrett didn't let her continue. "He's done what?" he practically bellowed down the phone, making Kate sit up in surprise. Isabella replaced the phone closer to her ear once he had lowered his volume and repeated what Mike had told her about Cullen not wanting to do Literature anymore. As she said the words again, she noticed how they tasted utterly wrong in her mouth. This wasn't right; she thought to herself, there is something more. Garrett clenched the bridge of his nose and exhaled. "Are you still at the facility?" he asked while looking at Kate who was still sitting on the sofa. "Yes," Isabella answered softly as she looked back at the looming building, wondering how Cullen was doing in his solitary confinement. "Ok, Miss Swan, I'm going to give you an address of a coffee shop where I'll meet you in about thirty minutes." His eyes pleaded with his wife to understand. She dropped her eyes from his with a resigned smile which made his heart clench. "I can't stay too long but I'd prefer to talk to you in person," he added quickly, trying to catch Kate's gaze. "No problem," Isabella replied. "I really appreciate this, Garrett." After relaying the address and replacing the phone in its cradle, Garrett scooped Kate up into his arms and kissed her passionately. "I'm sorry, Katie, but I have to do this," he muttered against her cheek as she clung to his neck. "Tell me you understand, baby?" After a brief moment she nodded slowly. "I understand, Garrett. Go and do what you need to." She sat back and cupped his face. "Just remember that you have your wife at home waiting for you, so don't be long." "I won't," Garrett answered with a determined shake of his head. "I promise." =PoF= Isabella sat with her full fat latte, drumming her fingers on the light wooden table waiting for Garrett who was already ten minutes late. The door suddenly swung open, not thirty seconds later, allowing a slightly breathless Garrett in. He immediately saw Isabella and waved before making his way over to her. "I'm so sorry," he apologised as he pulled out the chair opposite her. He considered telling her a lie about why he was late instead of the truth that his wife was a seduction master but instead he motioned quickly for the waitress and requested a black coffee. Isabella thought Garrett a handsome man when he wore his suit to work but he cut an equally fine figure in dark jeans and a deep red polo shirt. He looked relaxed but there was a hint of tension around the corners of his dark brown eyes and his mouth. "So," he sighed as he turned back to her. "Explain to me what the hell Edward said to Newton."

Isabella shook her head and shrugged. "I only know what he told me and that was that Cullen no longer wanted to do Literature. No reasons, no explanations. I have no idea what has caused this or what the hell happened between our last session and..." She stopped abruptly, dropping her eyes to the table between them. Shit! Garrett frowned, knowing instantly that he was missing something. "Miss Swan?" he asked, lowering his chin and voice simultaneously. "Isabella, please," she said with a soft smile. Garrett nodded. "Isabella," he repeated. "You were saying something about your last session?" He gestured for her to continue with a small wave of his hand. Isabella exhaled and sat back in her seat and fingered the rim of her large cup. The waitress brought Garrett's coffee over and Isabella used the twenty seconds it took to reign herself in. She was suddenly feeling all sorts of anxious and uncomfortable in her skin as she felt Garrett's stare, waiting for her to give her an answer. The sensation was irritating and made Isabella feel out of control. She rubbed her hands across her hair and sighed, willing the emotions to fuck off already. "The session was going well," she started after taking a sip from her latte. "He was communicative; he knew the work so well, giving insightful answers. He's so intelligent, he...he was calm, playful almost and then..." Garrett looked at the petite brunette in front of him, realising that she looked altogether too small and fragile and suddenly felt her confusion. She had been working hard with Edward and had, for the first time, been able to start chipping away at the huge fucking wall that surrounded Edward and his feelings. The word playful surprised him. He had never seen Edward 'playful' before and he wondered fleetingly what she had done to garner that kind of reaction from him. "Then I got a phone call," Isabella finished. Garrett cocked an eyebrow in intrigue. "A phone call," he repeated slowly, making sure that he heard her right. Isabella nodded and gave him a wry smile. I know, right. "Do you mind me asking who the caller was?" "No," she answered immediately. "It was my friend Jamie asking me whether I was attending his sister's birthday party." Garrett furrowed his brow further and leaned his forearms on the edge of the table. The fact that he said nothing, told Isabella that he was as perplexed as she was with Cullen's behaviour. She continued by telling him what he had done and said, leaving out the description of the hollow feeling that had appeared inside her once he had left the room. "From what I was told he was fine until his 'altercation' with Quil," Garrett mused aloud as he gazed at the wall behind Isabella, trying to fathom why Edward had behaved in such a way. Edward had never been the same since the day that he had collapsed and passed out. It was terrifying for Garrett to have seen such a strong man become so weak in a matter of seconds. He had, on the occasions that he and Edward had met since, tried to coax an explanation from him; something to

justify why he had turned the colour of wheat and blacked out for a day, but it was all fruitless. He had secretly hoped that Edward would open up to Isabella but that too now looked futile. He was at a loss. He rubbed his hands down his face and sighed. "Newton said that he won't get his parole now," Isabella murmured from behind the rim of her cup. "Is that true?" Garrett's expression made Isabella's heart lurch. He lifted his shoulders in an I-don't-know gesture before shaking his head. "Charlotte, his parole officer, is pretty cool. She knows what Edward can be like but she doesn't excuse it. She doesn't stand for bullshit which this clearly is. His parole board meeting won't be for another six weeks after meeting with her initially but..." He shook his head again. "I have no idea how he is going to make this up if he isn't willing to attend your lessons." He slapped his hands down loudly on the wood in frustration, making the spoons and cups on their table shake and rattle, drawing nosey looks from the two old ladies seated at the neighbouring table. "I don't either," Isabella conceded, ignoring the busy bodies to her right. "I have to admit, I was a little pissed that he didn't talk to me about whatever was bothering him or even speak to you." She raised her eyebrows towards the ceiling and nodded towards Garrett who smiled tightly in agreement. They both sat, pondering the best course of action to take when Garrett spoke quietly. "There is something more to this," he said, keeping his stare fixed on his hands that encircled his cup of now nearly cold coffee. Isabella leaned forward quickly. "I know what you mean," she said in a stage whisper. "I know he can be an A1 prick but this is just...it's not him." Isabella knew that her knowledge of what Cullen was was limited to around five hours of interaction but still, it all felt off. "You're right. It isn't," Garrett agreed. "He hasn't been right since..." His eyes flickered up to Isabella's and he immediately bit the inside of his mouth. Fuck! "Since what?" Isabella asked curiously. She straight away felt uneasy by the look in Garrett's eye that was equalled by her interest that had peaked massively. Garrett cleared his throat and ran the pad of his thumb along his bottom lip. "It...um, he was..." Garrett stuttered, wondering what the hell he was meant to say to her about what had happened when Edward had collapsed. He really wasn't meant to say anything inmate confidentiality but as he looked at the inquisitive girl in front of him as she worried her own lip, he couldn't help but feel that telling her could only aid the situation. "There was an incident," he began, "The day that you met with him about the extra sessions." Isabella stayed quiet waiting for him to continue. "You have to understand, Isabella, that this information cannot be shared." He placed the side of his palm against the edge of the table with every word, driving the point home as best as he could.

She nodded fervently, "Of course. I understand." "Well, that day," Garrett took a deep breath and held it for two seconds, "He passed out after you left." Isabella's right hand was suddenly covering her mouth. "He mumbled a ton of incoherent garbage and hit the floor," Garrett continued. "The doctor had to sedate him after he had diagnosed a huge panic attack. He was out for eighteen hours straight. Stupid ass gave me a fucking heart attack." Garrett smiled but the speed of it made it clear that it wasn't genuine. "Was he ok?" Isabella asked in a small voice. "He said he was but..." Garrett tugged at the neck of his shirt and grunted in annoyance. "He won't open up to me. Don't get me wrong, Edward's never been the most loquacious of people but he's so closed off about the whole thing." He finally met Isabella's gaze. "I honestly thought that he might have opened up to you about it." A very unladylike snort erupted from Isabella making Garrett's eyes widen in surprise and her cheeks burn instantly. She straightened her blouse and shook her head of the mortified feeling that bubbled in her stomach. "Why the hell would you think that?" "I don't know," Garrett answered honestly. "I just thought, what with you not standing for his shit he might...you know...respect you enough to tell you." "The only thing that my not standing for his BS opens up is his temper," Isabella said with an embarrassed smile. "I admit he has opened up minutely in terms of his work but anything else is a lost cause." Garrett rubbed his temples with the tips of his fingers and closed his eyes. He was desperate for a solution but short of forcing Edward to take Isabella's lessons there was no way around it. He dropped his hands, defeated, onto the table and exhaled down his nose. "There's no way to change this is there?" Isabella asked gently. Garrett simply shook his head. "I could always make him," she continued with a small smile. Garrett laughed lightly and raised his eyebrows in agreement. "Yeah," he answered. "That would be just peachy." Isabella laughed but instantly found that she was alone with it. Garrett was looking at her strangely, as though she had just landed in her seat from the ceiling and was covered in blue fish scales. "What?" she asked nervously with a hand through her hair, checking for stray sticking up bits. "Isabella," he said firmly as he sat forward in his seat, his eyes alight with excitement. "Have you ever heard Edward use the term Peaches?" Isabella frowned at him in confusion. "Peaches?" she asked with a cocked eyebrow. Garrett nodded solemnly, telling her that he was entirely serious.

Isabella scratched at her forehead as she thought back to her sessions with Cullen and whether she had heard him say Peaches or not. She shook her head despondently. "I can't recall it," she answered in a frustrated tone. She truly couldn't remember. Maybe because you were too busy staring at his eyes, jaw, chest, arms "I'm sorry," she muttered while cursing herself silently. "It's ok," Garrett answered as he waved off her apology. "It was worth a shot. It probably means nothing." He knew that wasn't at all true but didn't want Isabella mentioning it to anyone else. Not that he thought she would but he had to be sure. Isabella took in Garrett's defeated posture and was at once determined to shake some sense into Cullen and his punk ass attitude. "Look, Garrett," she said pointedly. "Is there any way we can speak to Cullen before Charlotte comes in next week?" "I have my meeting with him tomorrow as normal," he answered as he rubbed the back of his neck with his palm. "How would you feel if I came in with you?" she asked tentatively. "I know it's a confidential meeting," she stopped him with her palms up, "But I could come in, say my piece and leave." "What would you say?" Garrett asked. His tone suggested that he thought her idea pointless but Isabella ignored it as her brain began working. "I'll think of something," she assured him. "Justlet me try? I'm sure I can change his mind." The blush in her cheeks and the twinkle in her large doe eyes made Garrett believe her completely. =PoF= After the first twenty four hours, Cullen decided that he didn't mind solitary as much as he used to. He lay on his cot - where he had been since he was thrown into the hovel of a cell by two assholes with batons and mace - thinking about his Peaches and what she was doing, while trying his damnedest to keep the name Jamie as far away as humanly fucking possible from his imaginings. He thought back to when he had seen her at her car just before he had handed Tyler his ass on a plate. He smiled at the memory. It would be the last time the motherfucker thought or looked at Peaches that way. He closed his eyes and saw her behind his eyelids, hair blowing in the wind, lightened by the sun. She was so beautiful. Her body was curvaceous, not skinny and bony like the bitches back in Brooklyn. She had such fan-fucking-tastic tits, that he had a hard time keeping his eyes away from them when they were together, while simultaneously imagining the colour of her nipples. Her round hips ached to be grabbed and gripped, while her ass deserved its own fucking National Anthem. Seriously, that shit was fucking poetic. The curve of her ass lead down to legs that would look awesome wrapped around either his neck or waist.

He had also decided, during his solitary, that he wasn't choosy when it came to his sexual fantasies about Peaches: on all fours, missionary, her on top, sideways, back ways he really didn't give a shit and neither did his dick that was once again hard as a fucking rock for her. He removed one of his hands from behind his head and rubbed is palm slowly but firmly along his cock that was pressing against the inside of his overalls. It had been a few days since he had last jerked off, what with his head behind entirely up his ass, and he at once felt desperate for release. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He imagined being in a room, alone with Peaches. It would be their room; their study room but there would be no guards, no security cameras. She would be talking about The Merchant of Venice or some other bullshit that he would have a hard time concentrating on, all because of the way her lips moved and puckered when she talked. Cullen wasn't big on kissing he did it but it wasn't a necessity to him when he was with a woman (his cock was all they would beg for anyway.) Peaches however had a mouth that just fucking ached to be kissed. Fuck, it demanded to be nibbled, licked and sucked too but he had to start slowly. He would catch her unawares, slowly stroking her bare thigh with the outside of his index finger. (Peaches always wore short skirts in his fantasies.) She would pretend that she hadn't noticed but the change in her voice as she talked would tell him that she felt the electricity as it passed from him to her and it would tell him that she ached for him in the same ways. Cullen pushed his hand into his overalls and gasped as his hand wrapped around his cock. He was rock hard and weeping just at the thought of touching her leg. Fuck, this won't take long. With that thought at the forefront of his mind, he and Peaches were now both naked save for her high heels, which he couldn't help but moan about as he imagined the feeling of them nipping into his ass as he drove into her with her seated on the table and him between her legs. He wouldn't be gentle with her. He would fuck her. He would fuck her so hard. She would forget the name Jamie and all it stood for. He would make her scream, cry and breathless and she would be so wet that he would slide in and out of her with no resistance at all. Fuck, it would be heaven. "Fuck," he grunted as his fist moved faster along himself, edging closer to his release. He imagined biting her shoulder and the feeling of her nails in his back as he thrust harder still. She would cry out his name and throw her head back so that he could lick and graze his teeth across her soft skin before delving his nose into her long, brown hair. Sweet fruit "Peaches," he groaned as he came hard into his hand, sweating and panting and even more desperate to have her. He lay on his back, trying to gain his breath before grabbing a tissue and cleaning himself up. Just as it happened every other time that he imagined fucking Peaches, he immediately felt fucking disgusted with him self. She deserved better than him. She deserved better than being fucked like a slut on a wooden table in a prison study room not that he didn't think for one minute, that she wouldn't look fucking spectacular while they did it. He was nowhere near what she deserved. He couldn't even imagine being gentle with her when she was so clearly small and fragile. He was such a fucking dick.

He dropped himself back onto his cot and rubbed his hands down his face in frustration. Nearly two and a half days had passed since he had last seen her, spoken to her, been in her presence and she was still the most prevalent thing on his mind. She haunted him, as she had for fifteen years only now she was real. He could see her so clearly in his head whereas before she had simply been a faceless body that kept him warm and peaceful at night. She was a fucking curse that now kept him hard and awake but, even so, he still couldn't bring himself to hate her. She had tried with him, even after he had been a punk ass with her. She had encouraged him and that was a rare thing in places such as Arthur Kill. Inmates, Cullen knew, were all too often utterly discouraged to do anything. He wondered how she reacted when Newton had told her about his not wanting to see her anymore. Had she been mad, happy, surprised? He had no clue. The only thing he did know was that since Tuesday's lesson he had missed her like fucking crazy. =PoF= Cullen entered the councillor's room the following day with a headache and tired eyes. Garrett immediately noticed the dark circles under them and the sallow look of his usually clear skin. He seemed to have aged so much in a single week. Cullen slumped into his seat, his vacant eyes scanning the table for his smokes. He looked up at Garrett who patted the pockets of his suit jacket and pants before he began rifling through his briefcase. "Shit," he muttered as he sat back up in his seat with a guilty expression on his face. "II forgot the cigarettes, Edward. I'm so sorry." Cullen stared at him incredulously. "Well, fucking perfect," he snarled. "I'm sorry," Garrett repeated with apologetic open palms. "Whatever," Cullen responded, while crossing his arms over his chest and pouting like a petulant child. He was in no sort of mood to deal with Garrett today, especially without the support of fucking nicotine. Cullen knew that Garrett would have been told about Tyler and the fact that he was no longer seeing Miss Swan. He was sure to give him both barrels and Cullen was just not. In. The. Mood. "Ok," Garrett said with a sigh as he pressed play on the silver recorder as he did at the beginning of all their sessions. And like all of their sessions, he repeated Cullen's full name and inmate number. It was so goddamn monotonous. "How are you, Edward?" Cullen eyed him cautiously and smirked scornfully. "I beg your pardon?" "How are you?" Garrett repeated without missing a beat, his voice even and his stare determined. Ok, not the words I was expecting

Cullen looked around himself as though he was looking for a Punk'd camera or for Ashton Kutcher to come strolling through the door. He slowly looked back at Garrett who was still sitting, staring back at him, with no hint of joking in his eyes. Cullen choked out a sardonic laugh and shook his head. "I'm fucking perfect, G, fucking perfect." He didn't know what kind of game his councillor was playing but he was willing to play along for the sake of a quiet life. "That's great, Edward," Garrett responded levelly as he wrote a note in Cullen's file. "Is it?" Garrett looked up. "I think so," he answered. "It's always good to know that you're doing well." Cullen cocked an eyebrow, feeling the irritation start to weave its way up the centre of his chest. "Mmhm," he retorted through tight lips. "So, anything new to report?" Cullen slammed his hands on the desk between them, making the guard flinch for his baton. Garrett however didn't move a muscle and simply let the left side of his mouth raise in a knowing smirk. Tantrum all you want "Cut the fucking shit, Garrett," Cullen growled. "I know that you know what went down this week, so don't sit there looking all fucking blas when you're just dying to tear my fucking head off!" Garrett reacted in seconds. "You're right," he snapped back, shifting forward in his seat so quickly that it took Cullen by surprise. "I do want to rip your fucking head off. I have never met a more inconsiderate, selfish, self absorbed prick in all my life; and I work in prisons!" Cullen's mouth opened and closed like a goldfish as he let Garrett's words sink into his exhausted brain. "You knew that Charlotte was coming next week and yet you still put another inmate in the clinic and then to add insult to serious fucking injury you quit Miss Swan's lessons. Are you fucking stupid?" Cullen would ordinarily snap back at Garrett about respect and speaking to him appropriately but he was too fucking dumbstruck to respond. Garrett had never spoken to him in that way and he had to admit, it was fairly fucking intimidating. "I'm not stupid," Cullen mumbled as he sat back in his seat, resting his hands on his thighs. "Oh, I beg to differ!" "I don't give a shit!" "Well, you should!"

Cullen was fuming. His anger coursed through his body like lightning though water and made his vision blurry. "You have no fucking idea what you're talking about," he seethed. "Is that so?" Garrett asked with a tilt of his head. "Well, Mr Cullen please feel free to enlighten me." He sat back in his seat and got comfortable as he waited for Edward's response. Cullen stared at him cautiously. He was either very, very clever or very, very stupid and it infuriated Cullen that he didn't know which it was. "Tyler had it coming," he answered vaguely. "He said shit he shouldn't. End of." "And Isabella?" Cullen froze at the sound of her name. He felt his hands sweat and his heart race and his right leg started bouncing in earnest. "Tell me, Edward," Garrett continued. "Why have you stopped doing Isabella's sessions?" There was the name again Cullen shook his head and grunted in response. Words had completely left him. He simply stared at his councillor and he stared right back. Neither man was for backing down but Garrett had the overwhelming feeling that he had the upper hand. The way that Edward had reacted to Isabella's name was astonishing. It seemed to have so much power over him. His whole face changed. It was only slight, but knowing Edward the way that he did, Garrett noticed it instantly. His pupils dilated and he licked his lips as though he was unexpectedly very thirsty. He didn't have time to ponder why any further, when the door behind him opened suddenly and he watched with intrigue as Edward's eyes widen even further as Isabella walked into the room. Holy mother of fuck Cullen's heart was just about ready to burst from his chest as Peaches strolled into the room looking as usual like sex incarnate. Her hair was up in a tight twist that left her long slender neck on show. She wore a short sleeved red blouse and black pants that came to her ankles. Even that part of her body looked good enough to fucking eat. Cullen gaped at her as she sauntered in until she reached Garrett's side. Once there she crossed her arms over her chest and stared back at him as though she too wanted to rip his head off. He would be happy for her to do it. He was a fucking idiot. Garrett was right. How he ever thought that he could just quit cold turkey from his Peaches, he had no idea. He was insane. She was his drug now and he needed regular fixes of that shit, no matter how brief or chaste. She was under his skin and he liked it. "So," Isabella said softly. She looked at Cullen and was shocked at his bedraggled appearance. He looked so tired and completely lost. She couldn't deny that she just wanted to hug him better and try and ease whatever was bothering him in some way.

"So," Cullen countered with a cocked eyebrow and glanced between the two of them. "What is this; an intervention?" "Something like that," Isabella answered with a quick nod. "Great," Cullen smiled at her sarcastically. Isabella ignored it and continued with why she was there. "I wanted to peak to you myself. You know, I have manners like that." Cullen smirked at her tone even though his chest tightened at her accusatory words. She didn't pause long for breath. "I'd like to know why you have decided that you no longer want to take my Literature lessons." Cullen instantly evaded her stare, feeling her eyes as they travelled down his body and around his face. They left pimpled flesh in their wake and he was once again flooded with the need to take her. "Cullen?" she asked, dropping her chin to her chest. "What?" he answered softer than he had intended. His eyes met hers and he swallowed. "Why do you want to stop our sessions? Have I done something wrong?" Cullen exhaled loudly down his nose and shook his head. He fidgeted in his seat and once again cursed Garrett for forgetting his smokes. Fucker. He picked at the edge of the table with his dirty thumb nail and chewed on the inside of his bottom lip. Their stares burned into him and the sound of their patient waiting thundered in his ears. "Can we just move on from this shit!" he cried as he grappled a hand through his hair. Isabella noticed that his tone wasn't aggressive but more pleading and felt her stomach lurch for him. She reached into the pocket on the ass of her pants and pulled out a twenty deck of Marlboro. She threw them onto the table so that they skidded towards Cullen. His eyes snapped from the smokes to Peaches and back again. How the fuck? She smiled gently and shrugged. "I figured you'd need one." He grabbed at the packet, knocking one out quickly and taking a light from the guard. He waited until after he had inhaled and then blown the smoke out twice before he muttered a quick, "Thanks," in Peaches direction. "You're welcome," she answered. "So, now will you tell me why you want to stop the sessions?" He looked at her a beat longer than he really wanted but found that his eyes seemed to be glued to her and the earnest and concerned glint in her eyes. She really cared He shrugged and took a huge drag. "It's just not worth it," he answered through a cloud of smoke. Isabella watched it, enraptured by the way it spread around him, like a Grecian God upon his cloud.

He was beautiful enough to be a God (maybe Zeus with his thunder and lightning bolts?) It was just a shame he acted like one 24/7. "Excuse me?" Isabella said as she leaned over with her knuckles on the table. Don't look at her tits, don't look at her tits "I said; it isn't worth it." Cullen repeated his words slowly as though talking to a child. "You mean you're not worth it," Isabella countered. "What?" Cullen snapped. "You meant to say that you think that you are not worth doing these lessons with me. That's what you meant, wasn't it?" "No," Cullen answered instantly, even though he could feel his body burning under her gaze. "Yes, you did," she argued. Before he could respond she continued ardently, "You think that you are not worthy of taking these lessons because you are so used to people telling you that you are worthless and that you shouldn't do anything because you would never amount to much." "What the fuck do?" "But you are worth it, Cullen," Isabella interrupted quickly. Her eyes locked with his, fire and heat and so full of passion it took his breath away. "You should do these lessons. And you shouldn't do it just because it'll help with your parole, you should do it for you; to prove to certain fuckers in here that you are better than what they think." Cullen's cock hardened to an almost unbearable level as the word fuckers slipped from her perfect lips. Jesus Christ what I would do to you, woman He may have groaned deep in his chest. Isabella was referring to Newton, of course. His words about the inmates had stayed with her since she had left his office the previous day. He was such a short sighted sonofabitch that he couldn't see past the end of his ugly ass nose. "Is that right?" Cullen asked, his voice barely audible. Isabella nodded. "Yes." She moved slightly so that her hand rested over his. The heat and the charge that shot through both of them were exquisite and made two pairs of lungs squeeze and twist. Isabella glanced down at their hands together and then returned her gaze to Cullen's. "Consider this: That in the course of justice none of us Should see salvation. We do pray for mercy, And that same prayer doth teach us all to render The deeds of mercy."

Cullen couldn't help but smile at the words that she uttered. Ordinarily he would have called anyone who quoted Shakespeare ver batim; a pretentious prick. But the way that the words fell from her: full of urgency and truth, he couldn't help but look at her in awe. He knew what she was saying as the words of Portia from the Merchant of Venice danced around him. He was worthy of mercy, of being accepted as a person and not just an asshole even though he woked that angle best. He could be different. He could change and she had faith in him. He had never felt so full of life. She slowly took her hand from his and stood to her full height. Keeping her eyes on Cullen she spoke to Garrett. "I'll speak to you soon, Garrett." "Thank you, Isabella," he replied, utterly dumbstruck by what had just occurred. He made a mental note to revise his Shakespeare knowledge. Isabella turned and headed towards the door that was opened by the guard on duty. As she reached it Cullen stood from his seat. "Miss Swan," he called loudly. She turned to look at him, allowing her eyes to take his full form in. "Yes, Cullen?" Cullen smirked at her playful tone. "See you Monday." Chapter 10: Transparent A lie has speed, but truth has endurance ~ Edgar J. Mohn Alice Brandon had always been an intelligent individual as well as being disturbingly intuitive. From a very early age her mother and father had noticed facets of her personality that were 'different' from other children that Alice socialised with. She was mature on an almost unnatural level; telling her father at the age of four that she wanted to be a teacher so that she could, 'make a difference.' Alice had flown through all her schools with the ease of any child prodigy: acing all exams and contests while leading numerous clubs and any social event she could become involved in. She was one of life's organisers and revelled in the planning process that only a job in teaching could satisfy after college. She had been one of, if not the, most favoured teachers at St Mary's Private School of Austin, Texas and the day that she had left, she had been inundated with presents, flowers and well wishes from parents, students and colleagues alike. She was certainly going to be missed. She was devastated about leaving but the truth was she would have followed Jasper Whitlock to Outer Mongolia had he asked her and New York wasn't really that far away (or so she told herself). Jasper was her everything; her other half, her best friend and she knew unequivocally that they would be together forever. Her intuition told her so and she trusted that above anything and everything else in her life. The couple had met under circumstances that many would consider normal; although the speed at which they had consummated the relationship (two hours later) and the swiftness at which they declared their love to each other (two days later) would, to some be considered hasty at best. But

neither Jasper nor Alice cared. It was what they both wanted and didn't give a shit about anybody else's opinion. Alice had, one summer afternoon, been in her local coffee shop in the centre of London, drinking her favourite hot chocolate and reading Hemmingway, when a blonde haired Adonis had walked through the doors. He was tall, slender and wore a suit that hugged his body in places that sent Alice's heart racing. Every head had turned; male and female and everyone thought one thing beautiful. Alice had stared at the beautiful man as he wandered to the counter and ordered a cappuccino in the sexiest Texan drawl she had ever heard. The young girl behind the counter had blushed seven shades of red and dropped a cup and spoon as she hurriedly put his order together. Before she realised or could even question what was happening, Alice was on her feet walking towards him. Never had she approached a man in such a way. Sure, she was confident when it came to the opposite sex but that was always with an alcoholic drink in her hand that had been preceded by several others. She waited for him to collect his drink and pay before touching his elbow gently to get his attention. He turned around and their eyes met. And they had been together ever since. Alice had followed Jasper from London to Washington State to Texas to New York and she had never been happier, especially now that there was a large Princess cut diamond residing on a very important finger of her left hand. Not that she wouldn't have been happy without it, but the ring symbolised everything that she had with her fianc: love, trust, friendship and wholeness. Jasper had been waiting to propose for some time, planning an exceedingly romantic night out with dinner and a midnight walk but, like many things in his and Alice's relationship, it had happened far more organically. Over breakfast in their kitchen on a lazy Sunday morning of all times and places was where it had happened. Alice had made French toast with orange juice, freshly squeezed, just the way that Jasper loved. He had looked at the woman before him as she gave him his breakfast and once again reflected on what a lucky fucker he really was. Alice was gorgeous, sensitive, honest and caring. He had never known a woman like her; and he'd had his fair share. She was everything he would or could ever need and he knew at that exact instant that the moment was perfect. So, dressed in only his plaid boxer shorts and with a smile as wide as the Hoover Dam, Jasper Whitlock had gotten down on one knee and asked Alice Brandon to be his wife, two and a half years to the date that they had first met. The pair didn't lift from the kitchen floor for the next hour. If Alice had been honest, she had had a feeling that it would happen. Something told her in the way that he had smiled at her and kissed her good morning that something big was afoot. Her intuition was once again right on the money. She was going to be Jasper Whitlock's wife and she couldn't wait. The excitement bubbled through her body and ran down her arm as she knocked firmly on Isabella's apartment door. She adored Isabella. She was a great friend and they had shared many drunken, crazy nights together over the years. Distance had kept them physically apart but they were still firm

friends, calling each other regularly to catch up and gossip. Alice hadn't told Isabella about the proposal, wanting to wait for them to be face to face when she did. Isabella opened the door and clapped her hands loudly while bouncing on the balls of her feet. Alice flung herself at her and they swayed like a metronome from side to side as they both squealed and laughed through their reunion. "God it's so good to see you," Isabella smiled into her friend's shoulder. "I know," Alice replied, tightening her hold. "It's been too fucking long, Swanface!" Isabella laughed and stood back from her taking in her appearance. Fabulously styled as always, Alice looked the same, a little sharper around the edges but her eyes and her crazy hair reaffirmed that Alice Brandon was still the same girl she bunked with during college. "You look great," Isabella offered as she closed the door and gestured for Alice to enter the apartment. But Alice didn't move, instead she stood stock still, looking at her friend in a way that made the hairs on Isabella's body stand up all at once. "What?" Isabella asked with wide eyes. "Why are you looking at me like that?" "Something's different about you," Alice muttered quietly as she raised an eyebrow towards her friend. Isabella looked normal enough. Her hair was longer and she had definitely lost weight but there was a glow to her that Alice couldn't ignore. Isabella had always been beautiful, devastatingly so, but this was something more. This, Alice decided, was something inside of Isabella. "What's his name?" she said quickly with a determined stare, knowing deep in her stomach that she was on the right track. Isabella's mouth popped open and closed so many times she started to look like a goldfish. "Wh-what?" she stammered with a shake of her head, "Who?" "You're different," Alice repeated while narrowing her eyes, "And you look the same on the outside so it must be something inside. So, what gives?" She cocked her hip and placed her hand on it. Isabella had to concede that, even after all these years, it was still intimidating as hell. "You're fucking crazy," Isabella retorted with a small snort. "Move your ass." Alice smiled gently at Isabella's index finger as it pointed towards the couch and slowly obeyed. "Just making an observation," she replied with her palms up in defence. "Mmhm," Isabella hummed sceptically as she wandered towards the kitchen. "What can I get you to drink?" "Coffee is fine, thank you."

"Still milky and sweet?" "Oh yeah," Alice removed her small cream jacket and laid it along the back of the couch. "Your apartment is gorgeous, Bells," she said as she began wandering around the living room, taking in the art on the walls and the tasteful pallet of dark browns, bright blues and deep wood that Isabella had chosen. "Thanks," Isabella called from the kitchen. "I feel it's more like home these days." She appeared a moment later with two large mugs and handed one to Alice who followed her to the couch where they both sat with a sigh. "It's so great to have you closer again, Al," Isabella beamed as she sipped from her mug. "I know," Alice answered while squeezing her shoulders together. "Of all the places to get his promotion, huh?" "Well, not exactly," Alice said with a wide smile. "Peter, Jasper's brother, runs the office here and he really wanted family around so it was a little..." "Nepotistic?" Isabella laughed. "Yeah, something like that!" Alice laughed with her. "But it is so great to be in New York again. I didn't realise how much I missed it." "It missed you too, Girl," Isabella smiled as she rubbed Alice's arm. They spent the next hour reminiscing and laughing as though it was simply days and not years, that the two of them had been together in the same room. There was calmness and a feeling of freedom that always settled around the two women when they were together, allowing them to discuss outlandish subjects that ranged from politics to the female orgasm. "So, tell me about the prison," Alice said as Isabella handed her another coffee. She noticed the look of excitement that washed over her brown eyes but decided to leave that to be mulled over later. "It's..." Isabella paused and ran her hands through her hair. She knew that there was no danger with Alice. Alice would accept all that Isabella did with no lecture about safety or making the wrong decision and Isabella at once felt relaxed. "It's like nothing I ever imagined." Alice grinned, "How so? Tell me." Isabella then picked up her hair and twisted it at her neck before letting it fall down her shoulders and back. "The students are amazing. At first I was so scared and uncertain but now...I couldn't imagine doing anything else." Isabella stared towards the large window behind Alice that looked out over Soho and smiled gently to herself. Alice observed her for a moment, realising that she had never seen Isabella look as alive as she did at that moment. "That's great, Bells," she said honestly.

Isabella nodded. "And I'm doing one-on-one sessions too that areinteresting to say the least." Alice smiled as the excitement once again surrounded the chocolate of Isabella's eyes. Her cheeks flushed slightly and her top teeth worried her bottom lip. It was fantastic to see her friend look so animate and Alice at once decided that she had to find out what the cause was. Isabella continued telling Alice about her classes mentioning no names explaining the hair raising moments that she'd had at the start and the awesome thank-fuck-they-finally-understand-what-I'mtalking-about moments too. "You look happy, Bells," Alice stated sincerely after a silent moment. "And damn if it's not a good look on you." Isabella flushed and shrugged. "It's a good feeling to finally be doing something that just" She glanced at Alice, "Feels right." "Papa Swan would be proud, Isabella," Alice said softly with a wink. Alice knew all about Isabella's desire to adhere to the promise that she had made to her father all those years ago. After losing her own mother to leukaemia at the age of fifteen, Alice understood and respected Isabella's need to follow through on her word as she herself was searching everyday to make sure that she followed her own mother's wish for her daughter to 'be happy.' "I think so," Isabella agreed as she ran her index finger around the rim of her mug. "I'm helping, Alice and it feels really good." "Awesome," Alice replied, knocking her mug to Isabella's. It was at that moment that Isabella finally noticed the fucking gorgeous sparkling diamond that rested against Alice's pale skin. She almost dropped her mug and spat out her coffee as she tried to grab at her friend's fingers to get a closer look. "Holy Christ!" she exclaimed as she eyed the precious stone in awe. She looked back up at Alice to see her blushing and looking so in love it would have been bordering on nauseating if Isabella hadn't been so shocked. "Oh. My. God. ALICE!" Isabella pulled her friend towards her and squeezed the life out of her as they squealed some more. It was safe to say that Alice always brought out Isabella's more girly side. "When, where, how...WHAT?" Alice laughed and twirled the diamond around her finger before explaining Jasper's proposal and the hour on the kitchen floor afterwards. They were planning on a Christmas wedding and Isabella teared up when she was asked to be a bridesmaid. She accepted of course. She'd never been a bridesmaid before. "I am so happy for you," Isabella said as she let her finger tip ghost over the diamond once more. It was so, so beautiful. "Thank you. He's just..." she shrugged to excuse her lack of words to describe the man that meant so much to her. "He's my Jasper." "Well, I can't wait to finally meet him," Isabella said as she pushed her hair back. She had seen pictures of Jasper and spoken to him on the phone but they had never actually met.

"He'll be at the restaurant tonight and um, I hope you don't mind, but we invited Peter too." "Of course I don't mind," Isabella smiled with a shake of her head. "I knew you wouldn't," Alice conceded. "He's just gotten divorced and Jasper's determined to get him 'back out there.'" She rolled her eyes as she used her fingers to indicate quotation marks. "He's a great guy, really nice and very handsome." It took Isabella a moment to recognise the tone in Alice's voice. "Oh no, no, no," she exclaimed with her hands up. "I don't need a man at the moment." "If you say so," Alice answered with a wiggle of her eyebrows. "How long has it been, Bells, seriously?" Isabella flushed as the image of her reoccurring dream flashed across her vision. Hands, fingers, tongues... "That's beside the point, Alice," she retorted as she lifted from the sofa, trying her hardest to ignore her friend's eyes on the back of her head and the deep throb that had started between her legs as it always did when she let her mind wander to her mystery dream caller. The dreams had, over the past few nights, become a lot more vivid and seemed to last for hours. The previous afternoon, when she had gotten home after her meeting with Garrett and Cullen, she had fallen asleep on the couch and had had the most intense dream yet. He was all over her, covering her body with his own but still not touching her in the places she was desperate for him. He hovered, rubbed and caressed, licked, nibbled and drove her fucking insane but he never entered her...anywhere. She pleaded with him, grabbing at his strong shoulders, pulling him down onto her but he resisted every time. He didn't even kiss her. It was an erotic, seduction that left her breathless, wet and using her vibrator more than she ever had. She'd even stopped putting it back in her drawer when she was finished with it, just in case her libido decided to rear up again as it was want to do when she thought of him. He has so much power over me... Alice left shortly after the brief sex discussion to go and get herself ready for the night ahead. They were all meeting in a small French Bistro in Soho before going for drinks at another bar. It had been a while since Isabella had been out around the city and she was excited even more so with Alice with her. She showered and picked out anude coloured, silk mini dress that she teamed with a small leather jacket. She put the top half of her hair up so that it was away from her face and let the rest fall to her shoulders. She admired herself in the full length mirror of her bedroom and smiled. Alice had taught her well and tonight was just what she needed; a celebration of sorts. As she left her apartment and made her way down the street Isabella couldn't help but let her mind wander to Cullen and the epic victory that she had had with him. He had changed his mind and decided that he did want to attend her classes and she couldn't deny the feeling of euphoria that came with that knowledge. Garrett had not been convinced that her plan would work, especially when she mentioned that he should not give him any cigarettes when they started the session. It had been a gamble but it had paid off. Isabella had wanted Cullen to understand that she saw more in him than the Mike Newton's of the world and that she had confidence in him. The Portia quote had come out of nowhere but it had had the desired effect and she couldn't be happier.

The one thing that she hadn't stopped thinking about during the twenty-four hours since she had left Cullen was the feeling that had coursed through her when their hands had met on the table between them. It had taken all of her strength to hide the intense feeling that shot up her arm like a bullet when their flesh met. It was heat white heat that made her skin burn almost to the point of blistering. Her heart rate increased and her breath had caught in her throat. Isabella had never experienced anything like it. And, as she had looked into Cullen's beautiful green eyes, she recognised that he hadn't either. She couldn't explain why she had touched him in the first place. She knew that it was a dangerous thing to do what with Garrett and a guard in the room but it felt like the right thing to do. Cullen needed comforting; convincing and touching him would help do that. Touching him was...nice. In fact it was more than nice, the throb that had appeared between her legs and the ache in her stomach would attest to that but Isabella knew that no matter what her body's reaction was to Cullen she had to keep her head on straight. She was his tutor and he was her student and it would be like that always. Well, she mused without stopping for mental breath, at least until he is released. Her pace faltered slightly as that thought penetrated her mind and then sank deep into her chest. Stupid, Isabella, stupid and very fucking dangerous... She wasn't looking where she was going as she silently chastised herself when she suddenly walked smack into a huge body that was standing in the middle of the street. Isabella regained her balance and looked up to see a huge man with short black hair and dark skin, like a Native American, that was littered with tattoos on the arms that held her so that she didn't fall. He was built like a goddamn barn and had the whitest teeth she had ever seen. "I'm sorry," she mumbled as she side stepped him with a blush. He was very good looking and the black t-shirt that he wore clung to every muscle in his chest. "No problem, Beautiful," came the reply from the stranger who pulled a cigarette out of his leather jacket pocket and lit it with a flick of his lighter. He smiled around the filter tip and winked at her as she tucked her hair behind her ears. Isabella nodded in response to the compliment and carried on down the street towards Manger. Alice was leaning on the bar of the bistro and waved erratically at Isabella as she entered. She was standing next to a tall, blonde haired guy who was wearing dark blue jeans and a cream button down shirt. He also had deep blue eyes that seemed to sparkle. He grinned widely at her as she approached. "At last we meet, Isabella," he said as he offered a hand to her. "I'm Jasper." Isabella smiled at Alice and then back at Jasper as she gave him her hand. She gasped in surprise as he bent to kiss the back of it. "A pleasure," he drawled making Isabella and Alice swoon. "It certainly is," Isabella replied laughing as Alice's warning elbow met her left rib. "Congratulations on your engagement." Jasper smiled and winked at Alice. "Well, the sooner she's officially mine, the sooner I can relax," he said as he sipped from his glass. "What would you like to drink?"

"Martini, please," Isabella answered before turning slightly to Alice and smirking before mouthing an 'Oh my God!' He was dashing, handsome, polite and was exceedingly sexy. Isabella was ecstatic for her friend and couldn't help but smile at her in excitement. "Sorry I'm late. Traffic was fucking terrible and the cab driver was an ass and..." Isabella turned to where the voice of complaint was coming from to see a head of dark blonde hair that was erratic and almost dirty looking. Isabella thought instantly of someone else whose hair was not entirely dissimilar in style but a lot more effortless and...sexy? The man stood to his full height, towering over Isabella and Alice, who was still standing at her side, and smiled gently at them both before turning his attention to Jasper who slapped him on the back. "Pete, just in time," Jasper called before handing him a bottle of beer and Isabella her Martini. "Bells, this is Peter, Jasper's brother," Alice offered with her hand between the two of them. "Pete, this is my best friend, Isabella." Isabella looked at Peter and smiled. "Hi," she said as she held out her hand, "Nice to meet you." Peter stooped and took her hand, placing a soft kiss on the back of it just like his brother had. "Likewise I'm sure," he replied with a dashing smile. He was very attractive. He had broad shoulders that were covered in a black short sleeved button down, that was open at the neck, showing a black string that hung down under it. His arms were tanned and strong looking which matched his face that was angular and masculine. He looked like Jasper but seemed to be rougher around the edges. The stubble on his chin and cheeks took the boyish looks away that Jasper seemed to work so easily. Isabella took in his appearance as conspicuously as she could while sipping her Martini. He had all the traits that she usually went for in terms of looks and if he was as nice as his manners he would be golden, but there was something that just didn't sit right with her. It was an uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach that had become stronger when Peter had smiled at her with the left side of his mouth. It was so familiar it was unnerving. "Shall we get a table?" Alice asked bringing Isabella back to the room. "Yeah, we should. Jamie text before," she exhaled in annoyance, fucking Victoria, "He can't make it and Leah is working." "On a Saturday?" Alice asked incredulously. "Mmhm," Isabella answered with a roll of her eyes. They took their seats, with Jasper and Peter both holding out the girls chairs, and began perusing the menus. "So what do you do, Isabella?" Peter asked quietly after he had caught her eye.

She was exceedingly beautiful and the dress she was wearing was so tasteful and sexy he could barely contain his enjoyment while he looked at her. It was the first time since his ex-wife that he had felt a sexual attraction of such magnitude. "I'm a teacher," she answered with a small nod, "English Literature." "Like Alice," he offered to which Isabella nodded again. "We met in college," Alice added from across the table. "That's great," Peter said with a smile. "So, what school do you teach at?" "Well," Isabella said before laughing lightly. "I'm actually teaching at a prison." Peter looked at her with raised eyebrows. Maybe not as small and fragile as she looks... "Wow," he said as he sat back in his seat. "That must take some patience." "That it does," Isabella replied with a wide smile. Patience and cigarettes... "I really enjoy it," she added quickly. "You're brave," Jasper interjected. Isabella turned to him expecting to see a look of condescension but was surprised to see an expression of intrigue. There was nothing judgemental in his tone either and Isabella quietly cursed herself for jumping to the wrong conclusion. "Thank you," she replied, dipping her head to hide her blush. "But, without being a martyr, I simply see it as doing something good; giving something back." The three people around the table watched Isabella as she shrugged gently before continuing, "I know they are criminals but they were people once andI try and get as much of that person out of them as I can." Isabella's mind once again travelled back to Arthur Kill and to one person in particular, wondering whether he was thinking about Monday afternoon as she was. Alice smiled at the look on her friend's face before glancing back at her menu. The meal was excellent and the company was even better. Peter, Isabella found, was a very funny guy. He asked questions and listened attentively to the answers that she gave but it was easy for Peter to do so. She was as smart as she was beautiful and she seemed to glow when she spoke about something that she loved, which Peter learned were her friends, her family and her job respectively. He was entranced by her and decided, as he finished his dessert, that he would offer her his phone number. Peter Whitlock definitely wanted to see Isabella again. =PoF= Monday morning for Edward Cullen couldn't come fast enough and he was sure to take out all his latent energy out on the punching bag that Alec held in front of him. He was finally out of solitary and had been moved to a new cell three blocks down from his original. He wasn't exactly sure why he had been moved but he wasn't about to argue. As long as his ass had a bed and a john he really couldn't have given a shit.

"Come on, Cullen," Alec called from around the red leather of the bag. "Hit the fucking thing and stop tickling it!" "That's what she said," Cullen grunted with a smile before he began slamming his fists into it. The release felt fantastic and his muscles flexed and pulled and screamed under the pressure. "Fuck me, Cullen did you just make a lewd joke?" Alec smirked as Cullen began hitting harder and harder so that the sweat dripped from the tips of his hair. "That's gotta be a first. Did you get laid since the last time I saw you?" "Fuck off!" Cullen panted again, unable to hide the small smile on his lips as he punched faster. "I'll fuck off when I see some damn energy and effort! Now come on!" With a roar, Cullen began pummelling and driving him self into the punch bag with a mixture of short, hard jabs and long punches that stretched his entire arm. It was easy to conjure up an image to make it happen. In days gone by it would change from Aro's ugly ass face, to his father, to Mike Newton, but today it was all about Jamie; even though he had no idea what the motherfucker looked like. He imagined a pretty ass boy with his hands on his Peaches and the fury exploded into his fists. At least it was better that Tyler's fucking face, he thought to himself. After fifty press-ups, as many sit-ups and some rope work, Cullen was officially fucked and desperate for a shower. He was seeing Peaches in less than two hours and he had to admit; he was looking forward to it. He was still reeling from the way that she had sauntered into his session with Garrett to lay the law down in her own way: determined, passionate and sexy as all hell. She'd definitely struck a chord with him, of that there was no doubt. The way she seemed to know exactly what to say to him did funny things to his chest and when he had touched his handfuck meit was like being touched by a damn lightning bolt. Garrett had, weirdly, remained very quiet for the rest of the session, once Peaches had left the room, which had unsettled Cullen somewhat; that prick was never quiet for no reason and he at once considered that Garrett knew more about him and Peaches than he originally thought. He was a nosey, tenacious bastard after all. But Cullen let it go and simply let Garrett think whatever he wanted about what had happened in the ten minutes that Isabella Swan was in the room. He'd mentioned that he would speak to Newton about his're-enrolment.' Cullen would have paid cold hard cash to see that shit. He could only imagine that Newton had a damn conniption. Prick. "So, do I get a gold star and a big ass smiley face today, Alec?" he asked as he rubbed is bare chest with his towel before taking a huge gulp of his water. Alec rolled his eyes and flipped him the bird making Cullen laugh out loud. It was as unexpected for him as it was for Alec. It was a rarity to see Cullen smile let alone laugh out loud. Alec looked at him for a moment, noticing that he seemed a lot more relaxed. The tension in his jaw and shoulders was still there but it had lessened and Alec knew that it had very little to do with the workout he'd just had. "You did well," Alec said finally as he clicked his pen and signed Cullen's form. "Maybe you can lay off beating other inmates to a pulp for a while, huh?" This time it was Cullen who rolled his eyes and flipped the finger before he was taken to the showers by the guard on duty. As was normal when Cullen thought about any aspect of Peaches, he was hard by the time he entered the shower room. He simply thanked every fucker he ever knew that he was alone, otherwise there would have been plenty to fucking explain, had his hard cock been witnessed

by another inmate. He washed quickly, determined to ignore the ache in his balls and was back in his cell, watching the clock within a half hour. He had been allowed to the prison library on Sunday afternoon. Newton hadn't hesitated, knowing Cullen's penchant for books. Cullen had immediately found a copy of The Merchant of Veniceand some analytical studies on the text which he proceeded to read from cover to cover through the night. He had read the play before and knew the characters and the storyline but once he was finished he knew he was ready for anything that his Peaches threw at him. He smiled gently at the thought. He was sitting at the table of their usual room when she entered on time looking stunning. Her hair was down today and a soft wave had appeared in the sections that framed her face. As much as he loved her hair, he loved seeing her face more and he was at once annoyed that it was partially covered. He crossed his arms over his chest to stop the urge he had to suddenly push it behind her ears out of the way. "Good afternoon," she said with a slow smile as she placed her bag on the table. "Good afternoon, Miss Swan. How are you today?" Isabella looked up at him in surprise and halted her movement. She looked quickly at the guard and then back at Cullen. "UmI'm well, and yourself?" "Oh, I'm great," he answered with a smirk. Now that you're here Isabella eyed him carefully. He was sitting as he normally did, all cool, arrogant and oozing sex but he seemed different in some way; mischievous maybe? The white t-shirt that was facility standard, hugged his body and tightened on the tops of his biceps. The ink that Isabella had noticed from their very first meeting was a lot more visible today but she was still unable to make out what exactly it was. All she knew was that tattoos on biceps were fast becoming her most favourite thing. "So, today we start our Shakespeare play," she said as she lifted all her resources from her bag and placed them in order on the table between them. Cullen thought her OCD and perfection traits were at the very least fucking adorable and at the very most irritating as shit. "Goodie," he replied as he leaned his forearms onto the edge of the table. Isabella couldn't help but smile and shake her head at him. She reached back into her bag and pulled out a pack of Marlboro which she threw at his chest. "Shut up," she said playfully at his look of surprise as the smokes landed on the table. He smirked and pulled one out. He placed it between his lips and nodded. "Yes Ma'am." Once the cigarette was lit, Isabella once again moved her chair around to Cullen's side of the table. He was a little more prepared for it this time but it didn't stop the pulses of desire that shot through his body as she crossed her legs. She had fucking great legs Isabella wasn't as worried about Cullen's reaction to her close proximity having done it before, she was however concerned about her own reactions to it. She liked being closer to him, but not in the ways that she liked being closer to her other students. This was different and it petrified and excited her in waves that were uncontrollable and confusing as hell. He smelled good too. A citrus smell that was entirely masculine wafted aimlessly between the plumes of smoke that he blew out of his mouth and down his nose.

"The Merchant of Venice," she said as she placed he play in front of him. "Tell me what you know." She rested her cheek in her palm and looked at him. A small smile crossed his mouth around his cigarette and the green in his eyes seemed to lighten as their gazes met. She knew that it was pointless to pretend like he knew shit all about the damn thing. Hell, he probably knew more about it than she did. "Set in Italy, it's classed as a comedy but many believe it was a tragedy due to the treatment of the main character Shylock," he offered as he picked up the book and thumbed through it carefully. "Who's Shylock?" Isabella asked softly. Cullen ignored the irritation that whispered across his back at her words, knowing that she wasn't trying to be patronising she was trying to help him. "Shylock is the loan shark who just happens to be a Jew in a predominantly Christian Shakespearean society. Unlucky fucker." Isabella laughed lightly at his wording. "I guess so. I'm interested though," she continued. Of course you are, Peaches. "Why do you say it's a tragedy? What is tragic about Shylock?" "He's classed as a villain because of his religion" "He's classed as a villain because of his demands for payment of a loan," Isabella interrupted. "Bullshit," Cullen continued firmly with an index finger pressed into the centre of the book. "The demands he makes are fair." Isabella raised her eyebrows at his statement. "Really? So, his demanding a pound of flesh to pay off a monetary debt, is fair?" Cullen looked at her and exhaled down his nose. She had no idea how relevant her words were to him and the life he lived. He moved towards her slightly as he put his smoke out in the ashtray between them. "If you can't pay a debt, you shouldn't give your word," he muttered. He let his eyes roam over her face slowly, cursing the piece of hair that hid her left cheek. "His call for a pound of flesh may sound macabre but the way he is reviled because of his religion is even more so. He is vilified because of his faith, his demand simply reinforces it. His demand is expected because of the prejudice of the narrowminded motherfuckers around him." His fingers twitched on his thigh, desperate to move her hair away from her face so that he could see all of her. He imagined briefly what it would feel like between his fingers. Isabella stared at the man before her, utterly blown away by what he had just said. She knew only too well what paying a debt was like. Her pound of flesh was what led her to be sitting with him in the first place. And, as fucking dangerous and insane as it was, she suddenly realised that she couldn't imagine being anywhere else. "You know a lot about debt?" she whispered, unable to make her voice work properly as her stomach tightened and her heart started racing at her realisation He nodded. "I do," he answered. "Do you?"

She nodded. He knew she did. He knew that her passion and determination came from her father and one way or another he was part of the reason that she was here with him. Cullen allowed himself to think about how he was also the reason that she was sitting with him. He had saved her. "I know what it's like to give your word to someone," Isabella said softly after a moment. Her eyes rested on the play that was opened at Shylock's most infamous speech that, unbeknown to her, Cullen knew almost word for word. "I know what it's like to pay that word off because you have no other choice but to see it through because you love that person so much it would be a tragedy if you didn't." And that's when it happened. Cullen couldn't help it. It was almost as if his body was working of its own accord, drawn to her, desperate for her touch. She just looked so fucking sad and he at once wanted to make her feel better. His hand moved slowly towards her hair before he tucked it gently behind her ear. Isabella could barely breathe as she felt his fingertips dance at the back of her ear at the line of her jaw. The entire movement must have lasted all of ten seconds but it felt, to both of them, like it lasted hours. The guard by the door cleared his throat gently, secretly enraptured by the couple before him and completely jealous of the attraction and sexual tension that surrounded them like a goddamn bubble. Isabella instantly sat back in her seat as the sound permeated said bubble and rubbed her hand down the piece of skin that was burning from Cullen's touch. Cullen was equally stunned and rubbed his fingertips down his thigh to ease the heat that resided there. It feels the same; it's the same heat "I'mshit," he mumbled as he grappled for another cigarette. "I shouldn't havefuck" He continued to mutter around his smoke as he lit it and inhaled three times in quick succession. Isabella watched him, completely bowled over by his obvious embarrassment over his actions. "You justyou looked upset, ya know andfuck itI shouldn't" "Cullen," she said gently, placing a hand on his shoulder. He stopped his grumblings immediately and his eyes shot to hers, cigarette dangling from his mouth. "It's alright," she murmured with a small smile. "I appreciated it. Thank you." In fact Isabella more than appreciated it. She had liked it more than she should have. His touchthe way that her body set on firethe dark look in his eyesall of it just felt so right and so goddamn good. Cullen swallowed and blinked. I need you "Yeah," he offered. "Yeah, whatevercool" Isabella released his shoulder after giving it a reassuring squeeze and pulled the book closer to her self. "Shall we continue?" "Fuck yeah," Cullen groaned as he rubbed his palms down his face. "Bring on that Shakespeare shit, Peaches, I'm all kinds of fucking ready for it." Isabella paused. Her heart rate increased and her brow furrowed in recognition. Slowly, as not to cause him any more alarm she looked up at Cullen. She smiled gently and shrugged her left shoulder.

"Peaches?" she asked with a dip of her chin. "Where does that come from?" Cullen's stomach dropped into the soles of his shoes but he hid it like a champ. "It's um" he fingered the cigarette packet and exhaled a laugh. "I dunnowhy does it offend you?" Isabella watched his nervous movements carefully. "No, it doesn't offend me," she replied honestly. "I was just curious as to why you used that word in particular." He slammed back in his seat, pulling on his smoke. "I can just call you Miss Swan if you prefer?" he said as nonchalantly as he could. Isabella was silent for a few seconds as she pondered his question. It may have been her imagination but there seemed to be so much more behind it. "No," she replied finally. "You can call me Peaches." Cullen smirked and ran a hand through his erratic hair. "On one condition," Isabella continued. Cullen looked up at her, the smirk growing across the right side of his face. He is so sexy "What's the condition?" he asked with a playful glint in his beautiful eyes. Isabella took a deep breath and folded her arms across her chest. "You can call me Peaches if" "If what?" "if I can call you Edward." Cullen stared at her, praying to God that the hard on that had appeared in zero six seconds at the sound of her saying his name, was not visible through his overalls. "Iumthat's aI'm not sureonly Garrett calls me that," he stammered as he threw his cigarette into the ashtray before grabbing another. "I know," Isabella said sincerely. She wanted to use his first name. She had since she had met him. She truly believed that it would help them connect better. More personal and less formal. She also had to admot to herself that she found his name incredibly sexy not unlike the rest of him. "I'm notI meanfuck's sake," Cullen continued as both hands found his hair. He would do anything for her. He was resigned to the fact that he would let her call him 'Prick' for the rest of his days but his first name? That was a stretch, not simply because the sound of her saying it made him want to rip off her clothes, spread her across the table and fuck the living shit out of her. His cock twitched once again just in case the message hadn't reached his brain yet. "Ok, ok," Isabella conceded suddenly concerned over the tension that was enveloping him. "I get it. It's ok." He was obviously, for some reason, struggling with the idea of it. Maybe he didn't want them to be less formal, but surely his touching her hair contradicted that?

"Cullen it'll be. It's fine," she said softly, her hand once again touching him. This time it was his right shoulder blade that feltfucking spectacular under her small hand. It was large and solid and moved under his skin as he sat up to look at her. "II know it might be weirdbut everyone calls me Cullen and I" "It's ok," Isabella repeated. "Hey look, it could be worse I could have wanted to call you Eddie!" Cullen froze for a moment before he barked out a laugh that was matched by Isabella's snort and giggle. "Ah man," Cullen said though his laughter and palms that were covering his mouth. "That shit I just wrong." Isabella nodded. "That it is," she agreed. He was breathtaking when he laughed. His whole face lit up and his eyes crinkled in such a way that they almost disappeared. He was captivating. After they had both caught their breath and had regained some sort of composure they carried on with analysing the text. Isabella had put together some discussion pints that elicited heated debates between the two of them which they both enjoyed more than they both should have. It was twentyfive minutes after their allocated time when Isabella noticed the clock. "Shit," she cursed catching Cullen by surprise. "It's late." Cullen glanced at the clock and smiled. He hadn't even noticed that they had run over. "Yeah," he replied casually. "Time flies when you're having fun, right?" Isabella blushed when she caught the wink that he sent her way. Cullen felt braver when it came to being more open with her. He wanted her to see that he could be what she needed, wanted and even of he was still stuck in the shit hole of Arthur Kill, he would use their time together wisely. She saw his potential and had told him that, she had put herself out there and it was now his turn to reciprocate. He watched as she put all her things away quickly. "You umyou got a heavy date or something?" he asked as he rubbed his index finger across his eyebrow. Isabella blanched slightly "Oh no," she answered quickly with a vigorous shake of her head. "II don'tnoI don't have a date." She cursed her self for stumbling over her own words. "I'mII'm singleI" She shut her mouth immediately, having no clue why the fuck she felt it necessary to divulge that little piece of information. She closed her eyes briefly before heading towards the door. Cullen could barely hide the elation in his voice at what he had just heard. "Hey, Miss Swan," he called with a wide smile. "II enjoyed today." Isabella's smile mirrored his. "Me too," she answered. "Oh and Cullen," she said as she turned back to him as the guard opened the door. "The name's Peaches." Chapter 11: Best Behaviour There is no pillow so soft as a clear conscience French Proverb Isabella walked into her apartment feeling as though she was stepping on clouds. Her face hurt from the smile that had resided there since she had vacated Arthur Kill and she had found herself humming a tune that she didn't recognise but found it suited her mood perfectly.

She felt...different, looser, less tense and clearer headed than she had in days. The session had gone so well with Cullen. He was like a different person. She felt more connected to him than she ever had done and she felt ecstatic because of it. She had reached out to him a he had met her half way with no anger, no arrogance and had, much to Isabella's shock, dropped the armour that he gripped to himself unashamedly. Isabella threw her bag, her shoes and keys haphazardly around the apartment which was completely out of character for her and almost skipped to the kitchen where she opened the fridge and pulled out a well chilled bottle of California white wine. "Perfect," she muttered with a smile as she grabbed for a glass and proceeded to pull the cork free. She sipped it slowly once it was poured and hummed in approval as the cold sweetness slipped down her throat. It had been a good day. "Peaches," she whispered to herself with a shake of her head as she took another taste and smiled into the glass as she remembered the look on his face as she left. After placing a glazed lamb chop under the grill for her dinner, she wandered over to her answer machine that was flashing and pressed play. "First message; Isabella, it's your mother. If you could give me a call, please, just so I know that you are..." Isabella pressed delete without thinking twice. She didn't need her mother's patronizing tone ruining her good mood. She rolled her eyes and drank from her glass. "Second message; Hey Bells, its Alice. Hope you had a good day. Saturday was great...you and Peter seemed to get on well...he was asking about you, mmhm, anyway, I'll see you some time during the week. Give me a call. Toodles." Isabella laughed and shook her head. It was true. She and Peter had gotten on well. They had talked all night about random things to do with each other. She had learned that he was the CEO of the leading telecommunications company in the United States and he loved his job. He also loved his brother too and waxed lyrical about how happy he was that Jasper would be working with him. He was newly divorced, as Isabella knew from what Alice had told her, but they diverted from that particular conversation as best as they could. The smile on his face had grown huge however when he talked about his son, Henry, who was four. He looked great when he smiled. "Third message; Hey...um, Isabella, it's Peter..." Isabella stopped slicing the potato in her hand and stared at the machine in shock. "...I hope you're well? I, um...well, Alice gave me your number I hope that was ok? Um...I was wondering...I know its late notice, but I was wondering if you would..." There was a momentary pause with a lot of shuffling and muffled words. Isabella was sure she heard him curse under his breath. She found herself smiling.

"...yeah, so, I'm an idiot who can't speak to a beautiful woman's goddamn answer machine...however I can't quit now...Isabella, I was wondering if you would like to meet for a drink tonight or...whenever or...you're probably busy...yeah, so, shit...you have my card. Give me a call. Bye." Isabella laughed lightly as the disconnected tone rang from the machine. She continued to cut the potato in her hand slowly, her eyes flickering back to the machine at three second intervals. It had obviously taken a lot for him to call that was obvious from his stuttering and cursing, which she had to admit was adorable as hell. She placed her knife down on the board and wiped her hands slowly on the towel at her side. She was suddenly at odds with herself and she wasn't exactly sure why. Peter was a really nice guy. He was funny, attentive and he was definitely easy on the eye. Alice had mentioned that he had asked about her and they had seemed to connect well while they were at dinner. Isabella bit her lip as she walked over to her bag and pulled out her wallet that contained the card that Peter had given to her at the end of the night. She had accepted it with a blush before he had kissed her hand goodbye and she had, truthfully, not thought about it since. But as she stood there, with the card in her hand and the phone at the back of her, Isabella began to consider what would happen if she took Peter up on his offer. It had been a long time since she had been on a date with anyone. Her last date was when she got back to New York from London: a son of one of her mother's friends. He was nice enough and they went on four dates that Isabella had enjoyed. There had even been some heavy petting that Isabella knew he had enjoyed immensely. She hadn't slept with him however. She liked him but not that much. As much as Leah tried to convince her, she was not about to use the guy just to 'get her rocks off.' She tapped the card against her knuckle and bit her lip as she glanced back at the phone. Maybe it was too late to call him? Maybe he had plans now? Maybe you're a pussy? Isabella ran her hands through her hair and sighed. He made the move to call. The least she could do was call him back. She picked up the phone and walked over to the couch where she sat down cross legged and once again paused. "Get a grip," she muttered to herself. "He's just a guy." Just notthe guy She frowned to herself as that very strange thought swept her brain and began dialling the number from the card. It rang three times before he picked up. "Hello, Peter Whitlock speaking." "Umhey, Peter, it's me, it'sit's Isabella." She clenched her eyes shut and smacked her forehead with the ball of her hand as she stuttered over her words. Peter at once sat up in his leather desk chair and ran a hand through his short blonde hair. Fuck, she called

"Hi," he said lamely, rolling his eyes at himself. "I mean its good to hear from you." He loosened his tie even more and unbuttoned his top shirt button. It had been a long time since he had gotten so excited about a woman calling him. Even though the divorce had only been finalised in the last month, he and his wife had been living separate lives for at least eighteen before that, during which time he had been with one woman who he had used primarily for sex. She was attractive and discreet and it worked well for both of them. It was a shitty thing to do, Peter knew, but she had known the score. He was always straight with her. He had been in the middle of a divorce. He wasn't ready for anything more at that point. Was he ready now? He knew he definitely wouldn't use Isabella in that way. There was something different about her. "Yeah," Isabella replied. "Well, I thought I'd better return your call after you left me that message on my machine." She tried to hide the smile in her voice but failed miserably. Peter smiled back but cringed as he did. "Yeah, about that," he began as he rubbed his chin. "I have to tell you right off the bat; I cannot talk to answer machines for shit. I really and truly suck at it. It's a family curse. Ask Jasper." Isabella laughed. "I'll make sure to ask him next time I see him. And really, Peter, it wasn't that bad." She paused. "Well, no maybe it was that bad." Peter laughed back and tried to ignore the headiness that he felt at the sound of her saying his name. "I apologise profusely," he offered. "What can I do to make it up to you?" Isabella bit her lip and narrowed her eyes as the words suddenly became stuck in her throat. "UmI don't know," she answered as she fingered the couch cushion. "Maybe we couldgo for that drink you were talking about?" Peter clenched his teeth and fisted the air gently. "That sounds good, Isabella," he replied with a grin. "When are you free? Just name a time and a place and I'll see what I can do." "You mentioned tonight," Isabella murmured. "But if it's too late for you" "No, no, tonight is fine," Peter interrupted her quickly. Tonight is perfect "I finish about six, so shall we say seven?" "Seven sounds great," Isabella agreed with a nod, even though she knew that he couldn't see her. They organised a place to meet, said their goodbyes and hung up. After eating her dinner faster than normal and having a shower where she shaved everywhere that needed it, Isabella was placing her money, keys and lip gloss into her clutch bag when there was a knock on the door. She frowned slightly at the sound before glancing through the peep hole. "Well fuck, he is alive," she muttered sarcastically as she opened the door to Jamie who was leaning casually against the door jamb. "Give me a break, Bells, I wa-" He stopped quickly when he looked at her outfit.

Jesus she looks good "You look great," he offered, looking her up and down. "You got a date or something?" "Yeah, I do," she answered quickly before leaving the door and turning back into the apartment to finish packing her clutch bag. Jamie followed her in slowly. "YouYou have a date?" he asked carefully as he shut the door. "I do," she retorted without hesitation. "With who?" The words came out slightly sharper than Jamie intended but shit, he was just so surprised. Not that he should be because Isabella was fucking beautiful but damn, it had been a while since there was a guy on the scene (other than him of course.) Jealousy is a disgusting emotion, James Fuck you, Mom "With Peter," Isabella replied quickly being intentionally vague. "Who's Peter?" "Jasper's brother." "Jasper has a brother?" "Yeah, he's a really nice guy too. Of course you would have known that had you come to dinner on Saturday." And now the real reason she's so pissed "I am sorry about that, Bells," Jamie said earnestly. "But I had promised Victoria that I'd take her" "You know what Jay," Isabella snapped, not even interested in hearing his excuses. "I don't care what you promised Victoria. I get it that you're back together and I'm" She exhaled. "No, I'm not going to lie and say I'm happy for you because I'm not, but seriously, to bail on Alice like that" She pointed at him with her index finger. "You're lucky I have a dress on, if not I would kick your ass right now." Jamie nodded and looked sheepishly down at his feet. "I know, Bells. I called her to apologise and she was fine honestly." "That's because she's too nice to say otherwise," she retorted with a glare that made him wince. He'd promised himself that he wouldn't do this again; abandon his friends when Vicky was on the scene but it was so hard when she was so persuasive andnaked. I'm a prick

"Look, I'm running late," Isabella said sharply as she headed towards the door, pushing past Jamie with her shoulder. "Yeah sure, Bells, sorry," he mumbled as he followed her out into the hallway and watched her lock up. "Where are you meeting? Can I walk you?" Isabella looked at him as though he had grown an extra head. "I don't think I need a chaperone, Jamie, its 2010 not 1910!" Jamie held his hands up in front of his chest. "Ok, ok, I was just asking. I worry you know." "Yeah, I know," Isabella muttered, trying her hardest to stay mad at him even though he was looking at her with large eyes and a slight pout. Fucking cheat They left the apartment and made their way onto the street where Jamie proceeded to walk with Isabella, even though she had told him not too. She kept her mouth shut however, not wanting to get herself worked up before meeting Peter. It was too warm as it was without her losing her temper with her stupid, unthinking, over-protective friend. "So, what are the intentions of this?" "Peter," Isabella finished for him with a roll of her eyes and a huff. "Yeah Peter. I mean, what does he do?" "He works for the same company as Jasper. He's actually the CEO." Jamie whistled and smirked at the daggers that Isabella shot him from the corner of her eye. Isabella knew that he was being deliberately facetious. "Sounds good, Bells," he added as they crossed the street. "So, how old is he?" "Thirty-four." "Older guy, huh? He must have baggage." Isabella ignored him and simply tightened her grip on her clutch bag. "So, is he married?" Isabella stopped as she stepped onto the sidewalk and span around to face the man at her side. "What the fuck, Jamie?" she snarled as she slapped her palms to her thighs. Jamie looked around himself feigning ignorance and shrugged. "What?" "What is this all about?" She pointed her newly painted index finger nail into his chest. "And don't tell me it's because you worry about me or because you care about me because - just recently- you haven't given two shits about anyone but yourself!" "Bells," he muttered as he took a step towards her. "That's not true."

"Isn't it?" "No, of course not." "So, when did you last speak to Leah?" Isabella crossed her arms over her chest. Jamie rolled his eyes and exhaled quickly. It had been a week since he had spoken to his sister. "Do you even know how things are going with me and work at the moment?" She placed her hands on her hips and cocked an eyebrow. "Isabella, I've had stuff going on too," he replied, losing his temper slightly. He hated that she could be so fucking self righteous. "What? Victoria?" Isabella snapped. "Yeah," he bit back quickly. "So fucking what?" The venom in his voice surprised Isabella but she didn't back down. She was too full of every emotion she could think of to calm down and approach the situation maturely. Jamie was simply sick of having to defend his relationship with Victoria. She made him feel good and he had loved her at one point. Whether he could again remained to be seen but he was willing to try. "You know what, Isabella?" Jamie said sardonically before turning away from her. "Forget it ok? Enjoy your date." He waved two his hand dismissively behind him and dropped his head. Isabella watched as he walked the way they had just come from before disappearing around the corner. She at once felt a pang of guilt and sadness. It had been a long time since she and Jamie had had cross words but she knew that since Victoria had been back on the scene it was more a case of when not if. She sighed, cursed quietly to herself and carried on towards Piccolo's. Peter was leaning against the bar of Piccolo's, gnawing on the inside of his thumb cuticle. He was so pissed with himself for being nervous. He had been on dates before. Yeah, fifteen years ago, Buddy There was nothing to be worried about. He was a good looking guy and he earned a fucking fortune. He was a great catch or so Jasper had told him when Peter had called him for some moral support before meeting with Isabella. He took a large gulp from his bottle of beer and glanced once more at his watch. "I'm sorry I'm late." He nearly dropped his beer on the floor as Isabella's voice drifted over him. "Hey!" He smiled widely as he turned to her. She looked fucking gorgeous in a short sleeved, black top and grey, silk shorts. His eyes wandered down her legs that were finished off in a pair of heels that just begged to be worshipped.

Peter Whitlock fucking loved heels. "You look incredible," he croaked and blinked quickly as his face began to burn. Isabella smiled and tucked her hair behind her ear. "Thank you. You look great too." That was an understatement. He looked extremely sexy in dark wash, vintage jeans and a white open neck shirt. Isabella looked impressed when she noticed the dark brown shoes on his feet. His hair was once again messy without looking teased and was finished with a pair of Police shades that rested on his head. He was, this time, clean shaven and Isabella agreed with herself that it was definitely a good look on him. His eyes were also still as piercing as she remembered. "What can I get you to drink?" he asked as he pulled his wallet from his back pocket. "UmMartini, thank you." He smiled and turned back to the bar to order their drinks. While his back was turned, Isabella quickly pulled out her cell phone and sent a quick text that read: J, I'm sorry. I know you have stuff on too. Thank you for caring. Bells. X. She hated any kinds of tension between the two of them and she prayed that her words were enough. Jamie rarely lost his temper and she hoped that there wasn't something bad that was going on between him and his...girlfriend. If she hurts him again I'll kill her... Isabella and Peter decided that they would sit in the yard at the back of the bar so that they could enjoy the last of the day's heat. Peter considered putting his hand on the small of her back but didn't, deciding almost immediately that it was too soon for such a bold move, even for him. The asphalt smelled of the sun's rays and the seats that they chose were pleasantly warm against their clothes. Isabella was taking a sip of her Martini when Peter began talking. "Does that make up for the car crash of a message that I left on your machine?" He nodded towards the drink. Isabella laughed and sat back. "It definitely wins you back some cool points." Peter smiled wider and mopped his brow in mock relief making Isabella laugh. "Cool points," he repeated with a shake of his head. "I'm not sure I've ever had cool points." "First time for everything," Isabella remarked quickly. Peter liked her wit immensely. She had a fire about her that was inspiring. He would have imagined her, if she were not a teacher, to have been a litigator who would each lowly defence lawyers like himself for breakfast. She was fierce and sassy and it excited Peter more than he cared to admit. The fact that she was a teacher surprised him. She was clearly a woman of spirit and a classroom seemed too enclosed a job for someone such as her. Granted, he had only known her for a few hours but Peter Whitlock prided himself on having instincts about people. That's why he was so fucking good at his job and had become the youngest CEO in WCS Communications history within six years of working there.

"So, tell me about your day," Peter said as he leaned his forearms on the table between them. "It was a good day," she replied quickly with a smile that lit her whole face up. Peter gestured with his hand for her to continue. "I had my normal class and they were great as they always are. I feel like we've made some real progress together and it's a really good feeling." "That's great," Peter offered. "I bet you're fantastic at your job." He rolled his eyes at the cheesiness of his line but Isabella simply chuckled. "I love my job for sure," she said as she drew her finger up the stem of her glass. "I tutor a one on one session every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and today wasa great one." She found a smile emerge across her face as she thought back to her time with Cullen and the bridges they had built during their time together. Her eyes flicked up to Peter who was looking at her curiously. She shifted in her seat and bit her lip suddenly feeling extremely conscious of herself. "Something you want to share?" he asked as he picked up his bottle of beer. She laughed lightly and ran a hand through her hair. "Umthe guy that I tutorhe can be very difficult. He's one of life's bad boys if you will. But he has a softer side and he's finally beginning to embrace it. It's just really good to see." Peter saw the sparkle in her eyes as she spoke. She looked excited. If Peter had thought more about it he may have even said that the look on her face was lustful but he didn't allow himself to ponder that for a second longer than he needed to. "It must be a good feeling to finally break through with guys like that?" he offered as he sat back in his seat. She nodded slowly. "It is," she agreed. There was that look again. Peter sighed and decided to change the subject. They talked for two hours. Isabella asked about Peter's son and his own hobbies, learning that he loved surfing and rock climbing. She laughed loudly when he told her that she should accompany him on his next climb. He asked her about her love of books and found himself leaning forward as she explained why Hemmingway was her favourite writer and Rossetti was her favourite poet. Peter couldn't help but find her intelligence and passion sexy as hell. Being the gentleman that he was, Peter offered to walk Isabella home. She tried to resist his charm but found that she wasn't quite ready for the night to end so it was just before eleven when they stopped outside the Belmont building of Isabella's apartment. "This is me," Isabella said as she pulled her key out of her bag. Peter nodded and looked up at the building while pushing his hands into his pockets. He glanced back down at the woman before him and was suddenly overwhelmed with the desire to kiss her.

"I had a really good time," he said instead after clearing his throat. "Me too," she replied honestly. She noticed that he was looking at her mouth and was at once extremely nervous. An unsettled feeling, which was not unlike anxiety rested in her stomach. She tried her hardest to ignore it, putting it down to nothing more than too many Martinis. "So," Peter continued awkwardly. "Can I call you again some time?" Isabella smiled and nodded. "Sure. I'd like that." "Me too," Peter answered, laughing nervously. He rubbed his hands down his face after another moments silence and grunted. "Ah man, I suck at this stuff." Isabella laughed too, grateful for the ease in tension that surrounded them both. "You're doing good," she said with a small smile. "Thanks," he replied dryly. "But I'm not sure you'd be saying that if you knew how much I wanted to kiss you right now." Isabella's smile faltered slightly and her breath caught in her throat. "Umwell Iyeah, I don't know" Peter laughed, relieved as hell that she seemed as nervous as he was. "It's ok, Isabella," he said softly and took her right hand. He pressed his lips gently to the back of it, keeping his eyes on hers. Isabella's stomach flipped slightly but the ball of anxiety remained. "Good night," he whispered as he stood back up and released her hand. "Good night, Peter," she answered. She smiled at him again before turning slowly to enter her building. Peter watched as she disappeared into the lobby and exhaled loudly. He shook out his arms and stretched, all of a sudden feeling energised and awake. He set off down the street and pulled his cell out of his pocket, pressing two for speed dial. "How did it go?" the voice on the other end answered after two rings. "It was great, Jazz. She's beautiful. I really want to see her again." =PoF= Isabella awoke the following morning feeling tired, breathless and emotionally drained. Her night had been filled with terrible nightmares that made her toss and turn until, finally at three AM; she had given up and taken a couple of her sleeping pills. She had been doing so well without them until now and she was at once incensed that her fucking brain was incapable of switching off for one more night.

She had a very hot shower and poured herself a cup of strong coffee before filling herself with a large bowl of cereal. All the while, she found that her mind returned to the dream that had been on a repeat cycle from the moment her head had hit the pillow. It had been the same night fifteen years before but she was an adult watching the same events unfold. She saw herself, nine years old, and sprawled across the sidewalk as the group of animals descended on her father. She had taken a tentative step towards the group as she tried to shout at them to leave him alone but as was usual in her dreams; she had no voice. She approached the group quickly, watching helplessly as they pounded, kicked and pummelled the man in a suit. They were vicious, callous and relentless; beating him with fists and bats that connected with his body with sickening precision. That was when the man had looked up at her and what she saw had taken her breath away. It wasn't her father that was on the floor having the life beaten out of him. It was Cullen. She had screamed as she saw him: battered, bruised and bleeding from every orifice on his beautiful face. She tried to push the men away so that he had a fighting chance but her arm was caught in a strong, powerful grip. She turned to see her father, flanked by Jamie and Peter, dragging her away from Cullen as he called to her for help. "Peaches, help me! Help me, please!" By the third time she had had the dream she was sobbing uncontrollably and the pills were her only salvation. She closed her eyes and sipped her coffee as the sound of his voice reverberated around her skull once again. He had pleaded with her. He had begged and she had been unable to do anything for him. She didn't need Freud to tell her what this particular dream meant. She wasn't helping him. =PoF= She found that she was distant and disengaged the entire day, once she arrived for her morning lesson. She even found herself apologising to Angela for snapping at her for moving a resource that she needed for her class. "What side of whose bed did you wake up on, Miss S?" Emmett had snorted with a grin, making Isabella snap her head in his direction. The look she gave him was enough to turn a lesser man to salt. "Whoa, whoa," he protested while he hid, as best as he could, behind Angela's shoulder. "I was just kidding!" Isabella ran a hand through her hair and took a deep breath. "I'm sorry," she murmured. "I...had a bad night's sleep." She smiled apologetically at her class. "I love my sleep."

Emmett smiled back at her and nodded in acceptance of her apology. Sam wrote a small note for her and dropped it in her hand as she passed. She unfolded it and smiled wryly at the aptness of words she read: 'O sleep, O gentle sleep, Nature's soft nurse, how have I frightened thee, that thou no more will weigh my eyelids down, and steep my senses in forgetfulness?' "That's so right it's almost scary, Sam," she whispered to him to which he simply nodded and smiled back. He wasn't trying to be smart assed by quoting Henry VI and his eyes showed nothing but sympathy for his tutor which made Isabella's heart clench in gratitude. Sam knew all too well what it felt like to wish for sleep so that the brain could forget and rest. "Bad night's sleep, huh?" Angela questioned as the class filed out at the end of the hour. "Is that like...a euphemism?" She laughed and wiggled her eyebrows. Isabella rolled her eyes and stuffed her resources back into her bag. "No, Angela, it's not," she retorted sharply. "It means I had a shitty night's sleep because of some fucking...horrendous, God awful nightmare that was...it was...he...it was just..." She stopped talking and tried to regain her breath. Her heart was pounding and her head throbbed from being so tired. She leaned her hands on her desk and breathed deeply through her nose and out through her mouth, willing the pain to ease. Angela's hand was immediately on her shoulder trying to calm her down. "Hey, Isabella, I'm sorry." Angela cursed herself for what she had said and apologised again. "Don't apologise," Isabella said with a meek smile. "I've been a heinous bitch this morning and I shouldn't have taken my lack of sleep out on you." She stood back up and exhaled. "I'm sorry." Angela smiled back at her and shook her head. "It's fine, honestly. That nightmare must have been pretty vivid. You went pale for a second there, Girl. Do you want to talk about it?" Isabella paused for a moment. Did she want to talk about it? Would she be able to tell Angela about her dream without having to tell her why she dreamt of a group of men beating someone to death and that it was a latent memory of the night her father was savagely murdered? She contemplated it quickly before shaking her head. "No, I'm good. But thank you." "Ok," Angela said seemingly dissatisfied with Isabella's inability to open up. "Well, I'll see you tomorrow. Say hi to Cullen for me." Isabella's stomach flipped at the sound of his name which made her head ache even worse. All she could see and hear was the blood and the scream for help that erupted from him. She wasn't sure how she was going to cope with seeing him. It was always a strange sensation to have a dream about someone and then see them in the cold, hard light of day, least of all when the dream was that they had been killed by savages. She took a seat in the staff room and pulled out her cell to find a text message from Jamie.

Hey, Bells. I'm sorry too. I'm an asshole. I hope your date went well. Call me later. J x She smiled at the screen in relief and typed a quick message telling him that she would and that the date went fine. It wasn't a lie, she had enjoyed herself. She was just still annoyed with herself after the whole kissing Peter debacle. A charming, handsome, funny guy had told her that he wanted to kiss her and all she could do was stand, looking like an idiot while remaining entirely mute. "Fucking moron," she muttered to herself as she sent the text. She had no idea why she had behaved in such a way. Peter was obviously nervous too and it had obviously taken guts for him to say what he had and yet when he had told her that he wanted to kiss her she had frozen up. She couldn't understand it. She liked him and she wanted him to kiss her but there was something deep inside her that stopped her from allowing him to. "It was only the first date," she continued to mutter to herself. "Will there be a second?" Isabella looked up to see Garrett smiling down at her. "Hey," she said quickly and stood to meet him. "How are you?" "Good," he replied quickly. He didn't ask her how she was as he took in the dark circles under her eyes. That was enough to tell him that she was tired. "I just wanted to let you know that Edward's parole officer, Charlotte will be here at eleven on Thursday." "Great, great and I'm still ok to be present?" "Absolutely," he answered quickly. "That boy needs as much help as he can get." Isabella felt the blood once again run from her face at his words and she gripped the sofa arm to hold herself up. "Help me please!" Garrett looked at her in concern. "Are you ok, Isabella?" "Mmhm," she answered as she swayed slightly from side to side, trying to ignore the feeling of nausea that swept over her like a tsunami. "You don't look it," Garrett countered. "Sit down, please." She did as he asked, dropping her face into her hands and moaning as the throb in her head began again in earnest. The words echoed over and over while the images of her dream flickered behind her eyelids like an old movie stuck on repeat. Garrett watched the small woman at his side with a furrowed brow. She looked awful and her breathing seemed laboured almost as if she was finding it difficult to do so.

"Isabella," he murmured. "Forgive me for saying so and it may be none of my business but you really don't look well enough to be here. Maybe you should go home?" Isabella shook her head that was still resting in her palms. "I can't," she replied. "I have Cullen in two hours." Her throat closed around his name. "Peaches, help me" "Forget Edward, Isabella. If you're ill, go home. Don't be a martyr." Garrett's tone suddenly sounded fatherly and it was as much a comfort to Isabella as it was upsetting. She blinked back her tears and dropped her hands. She sat back slowly in her seat and exhaled heavily. Garrett moved closer to her and smiled gently when their eyes met. "Do you want to talk about it?" he asked quietly. There was no one else in the room but he knew that people were a lot more likely to open up if a soft, calming, quiet voice was used. Isabella closed her eyes and swallowed hard. "II just didn't sleep too good last night," she offered. Garrett remained quiet, knowing that there was more for her to say. He sat back against the couch and waited. Isabella began playing with the hem of the top that she was wearing and kept her eyes on her hands as she did. "I had a nightmare," she began. "I've had it beforebut there were.elementsthat were different this time and itit wasit was fucking horrible." Her voice shook at the end of her sentence. "It kept me awake for most of the night and I can't stop thinking about it." She rubbed her face and sighed in defeat. "Nightmares are funny things," Garrett offered. "If they are vivid enough they can affect people for days." "Great," Isabella snorted sarcastically. "The thing you have to remember, Isabella, is that they are not real. They may contain the most horrific images one can imagine but you always, always remember they. Are. Not. Real." But it had been realthe only difference was the victim "I know," she said softly. "I know that but" She glanced up at Garrett. His face held no judgement, no expectation and she suddenly wanted to open up to him. "It was based on amemory that I haveabout my father." Garrett's head lifted in understanding. Shit. Of course he knew who her father was and what had happened to the poor bastard. It had been on the TV and in the newspapers for months afterwards. As he knew it, she had witnessed the entire thing. He immediately felt protective of her and gently placed a hand on her shoulder. "I'm sorry, Isabella," he said sincerely. "Yeah," she replied quietly. "I guess sometimes nightmares are more real than you realise, huh?"

She laughed but it didn't fit the moment, sounding more like a groan of anguish. She felt cold inside and out and a strange craving for her bed overtook her. She needed to sleep. She needed to let her brain rest. "Look," Garrett continued. "Go home. I'll explain to Edward that you've gone home sick and you can relax. Try and rest and come back bright eyed and bushy tailed tomorrow." She shook her head slowly. "No," she said firmly. "If I'm going home, I need to tell Cullen myself." Garrett looked at the determination on her face and didn't argue. He had witnessed something between the two of them when she had convinced Edward to take part in her sessions and he knew that whatever it was was more important than him or his working relationship with Edward. They had connected on some level and he was both fascinated and concerned by it. He just prayed to God that Isabella Swan was as smart as she seemed to be. "He's in the middle of his training session with Alec," Garrett offered. "Do you want me to take you down?" "Sure," she replied with a small smile. "Thank you, Garrett. I really appreciate this." "No problem." He stood and offered his hand for her. She took it and wobbled on her feet. She had never felt as light headed as she did at that moment. "How are you getting home?" Garrett asked as he felt her clutch his suit jacket sleeve to stop herself from stumbling. "I'm driving," she answered with a puzzled expression. "Oh no you're not, I'll take you. You can't drive like this. I couldn't let you drive like this with a clear conscience." Isabella opened her mouth to protest but the look in Garrett's eyes told her otherwise. "I suppose I could get the ferry tomorrow," she murmured as they began walking down the corridor. "Yes, I suppose you could," he replied with an agreeable nod. =PoF= Cullen meanwhile was just about ready to kill a motherfucker with his bare hands. A feat that would've been totally doable had his hands not been aching like goddamn hell as he held his entire body weight from the metal bar that Alec had recently dubbed Cullen's 'new best friend.' Best friend my felony committing ass "Ten more seconds," Alec called from his cosy place on the floor. Cross legged and grinning like a fucking asshole, it was clear that he loved every second of Cullen's suffering. "Yousaid ten seconds.fuckingthirty seconds ago," Cullen panted.

The burn in his arms was excruciating and his biceps were practically screaming. He was sure that the dove that was tattooed on his right arm was just about ready to take flight and find a more comfy abode. Not that Cullen would have blamed it. His trainer shrugged and smiled widely. "FuckAlecgive me a breakuh!" He pulled himself up higher, feeling his shoulders creak and groan in protest. His chest muscles were pulled taught and his temples throbbed with the pressure. "Nearly there," Alec mused as he casually glanced at his watch. Fucker "Fivefourthreetwoonehalfok, you're good." Cullen let go immediately and landed with a thump on the mat below him. "Youson of a bitch," Cullen groaned as he writhed on the floor. "Hey now, my mother is a good woman. We'll have less of that talk." Cullen couldn't help but smile. The extra gym sessions were allocated after his 'altercation' with Tyler (who was still in the clinic). They were meant to calm him further and he had to admit they had been working. Or maybe it's something to do with Peaches His session with her the day before had been nothing short of fucking awesome. They had touched briefly but it had happened. Cullen feared that now he had touched her he would find it almost impossible to keep his hands to himself. He looked down at his palms and saw that they were red and sweating. Nice But the defining moment for Cullen had been when she had allowed him to call her Peaches. He had nearly thrown himself across the room and slammed her against the wall just so he could show her his appreciation at the gesture. And that shit was after she had confessed that she was single. Yeah, it had been a good fucking day all around. Alec handed him a bottle of water and shook his head patronisingly as Cullen glared up at him. It was on the tip of Cullen's tongue to say something lewd or gross about his trainer's mother when a guard appeared at the door way stopping the words from falling. "Garrett Volture is here to speak to Cullen," he said as he waved a dismissive hand in Cullen's direction. Alec glanced at Cullen and raised his eyebrows in question to which Cullen simply shrugged in response. "Show him in," Alec replied with an equally dismissive hand before turning back to Cullen who was looking equally mystified. "What the fuck have you done now?" he asked with a smile.

"I haven't done anything," Cullen answered with a shrug. He turned slowly and his heart thumped in his bare chest as he noticed Peaches walking behind Garrett. He stood quickly and took a couple of steps towards her but stopped abruptly when he noticed the look on her face. She was still fucking gorgeous but her eyes looked so sad and tired. She was pale too. Her skin had lost its ever present sparkle and her shoulders drooped as though she were carrying the weight of the world on them. "What the fuck has happened?" he snapped, looking directly at Peaches who avoided his gaze by looking down at her feet and shifting from one to the other. He would kill any motherfucker who had hurt her. "Nothing's happened," Garrett answered quickly, holding his hands up in defence. He turned so that Isabella was no longer hidden behind him. "Isabella isn't feeling too well" "What's wrong?" Cullen interrupted, still staring at her, desperate for her to look at him. She bit her lip and pushed her hair back, finally allowing her eyes to meet his. When they did the ball of emotion that she had pushed down deep into her stomach since she had woken that morning suddenly reared up through her body. She closed her eyes momentarily to try and gain her bearings and felt a strong hand grab her forearm as she swayed once again. She opened them, expecting to see Garrett but instead saw Cullen looking down at her with an expression that was locked somewhere between anger and concern. She looked between his hand and his face and then towards Garrett and Cullen's trainer to see that they had moved away from them slightly and were conversing quietly while stealing glances in their direction. "Peaches," Cullen murmured so only she could hear. "What's wrong? Why are you here? We have a session in an hour." Isabella took a deep breath and tried to focus on his hand on her arm and not the fact that he was bare-chested, wearing only a pair of loose fitting shorts that were hanging precariously low on his hips. She let her eyes wander over his sweating body until they were at his arms and she could finally take in the tattoos that were etched over the tops of his shoulders and down each bicep to the crook of his elbow of his left. They were beautiful. He was beautiful. Cullen shifted under her gaze. It burned into him and made him feel everything at once. He had never felt more exposed. Isabella looked up at his face and took a deep breath. There were no bruises, no bleeding but she couldn't shake the images that had become almost etched into her eyelids. "I'm not feeling very well," she whispered. "II didn't sleep well last nightI hadand I feel a little sick" "Are you ill?" he asked quietly but firmly. His brow furrowed and the grip on her arm tightened slightly.

"No," she answered with a shake of her head. "ICullen, I have to cancel our session. Garrett is going to take me homeandI'm so sorry" Her voice caught on the last words and her eyes filled with tears. Cullen's heart tore in two as he saw her struggle to maintain herself. He was so used to seeing her strong and sassy that seeing her so small and fragile just made him want to take care of her. He wanted so much to hold her and kiss away whatever was wrong but he knew he couldn't. "It's ok," he said finally as he released her arm. "If you're unwell then youum, well you should be at home and not here withwith me." He tried to sound accepting but he had found that their time together was the only thing that helped him get his sorry ass up in a morning. At least she's here now dipshit "I want to be," she whispered. "I want tohelpbutI" "Go home," Cullen ordered with a dip of his head so that he could catch her eye. "I'll be fine without Bill Shakespeare for one fucking day. I'm sure I'll survive." He smiled with the left side of his mouth and Isabella found herself smiling back. "I am sorry," she repeated honestly. She wanted nothing more than to stay and talk with him about Shakespeare for the next couple of hours but her head was filled with so much that she was finding it hard to focus on anything. "So you keep saying," Cullen replied. "But there's no need to be. Go and rest. You look like you need it." He smirked even more as her eyes widened at his words. "Well thanks a lot," she retorted sharply as she crossed her arms across her chest. Ah, there's my Peaches He laughed lightly. "I'll see you on Thursday, Miss Swan." "You will. I'll be here when you meet Charlotte, ok?" He nodded and breathed a sigh of relief. He wasn't looking forward to his parole officer's meeting but Peaches being there would make it a fuckton easier. She calmed him so much. "Ok," he answered. He smiled again and turned back to retrieve his towel from the floor. He glanced at Garrett who nodded in acknowledgement and watched as he walked out with his Peaches at his side. "Everything copasetic?" Alec asked as he wandered back over. "Yeah," Cullen replied as he rubbed the towel down his face. He threw it down to the ground when he was done and growled as he gripped at his hair. "Alec," he said in a tone that defied disagreement. "I think its time for the fucking punching bag."

=PoF= The conversation in Garrett's car was limited at best. Isabella allowed herself to snooze gently as he drove her home. She felt a million times better after having spoken to Cullen but it had been so strange seeing him after having her dream. It had been even stranger having to speak to him while he was half naked. Dammit he was so beautiful She rubbed he eyes and sighed. "You ok over there?" Garrett asked as he turned down Isabella's street. "Yeah," she answered. "I'm good. I really appreciate all this, Garrett. Thank you." "No problem," he replied with a shrug. "So Edward was ok?" Isabella nodded. "He seemed to be. He actually took it better than I expected." "Yeah me too," Garrett murmured to himself, too low for Isabella to hear. "You seem to be getting through to him which is fantastic." "I hope so." "You are. He seems a lot morecomfortable with you now." Garrett parked the car and turned off the engine. He turned in his seat so that he was facing her. "May I say something that may sound a littleforward?" Isabella swallowed loudly, "Umsure?" "I think what you have achieved with Edward in such a short time is great, I really do." "But" Isabella finished for him. "But nothing," he countered with a shake of his head. "I am all for Edward behaving like a regular human being for as long as possible." Isabella laughed gently and rubbed her temple. "I just hope you don't forget that he can be volatile andchangeable." Garrett struggled for the right words. "I just don't want you to get tooinvolved." Isabella stared at Garrett for a long time, shocked and a little pissed at what he had just said. "And you're not involved?" she asked with a cocked eyebrow. "Of course I'm involved," Garrett said softly, noticing the tension in Isabella's face. "I care about Edward but I have known him a lot longer than you have and I am pretty sure my skin is a lot thicker than yours." "My skin is thick enough," she retorted as she grabbed for the door handle.

"Isabella," Garrett protested, stopping her from getting out of the car. "I don't mean to upset you or offend you its justI've seen the way you are with him and the way he is with youits different andpeople notice things" "Notice what?" Isabella asked with a hint of panic in her voice. "Justbe aware, ok?" Garrett said cryptically. Isabella frowned but nodded. Her head was too far up her own ass to try and start deciphering what the hell he was talking about. "Ok," she replied with a sigh. "Thank you again for today." "No problem," he said with a smile. "See you Thursday." Isabella nodded and got out of the car. She walked quickly across the street to her apartment building and once she took the elevator up to her floor she hurriedly retrieved her key from her bag. Once inside her apartment she went straight to the en suite and headed for the mirrored cabinet that held her pills. Just once more "Fuck," she muttered to herself as she opened it up and pulled out the infamous bottle of blue pills. She shook two into her hand and slapped them to her mouth without taking a drink. She stripped down to her bra and panties as she made her way to bed and crawled under the covers. It was only when she knew that she was safe in bed and that there was no one else around that she let the ball of emotion escape. A loud wailing sob erupted from her mouth as she cried into her pillow and fisted at the sheets of her bed. Her chest heaved and her tears ran freely as she remembered the look on Cullen's face in her dream which then flickered to the actual night and the cries and shouts of her father as he was killed in front of her. "Daddy," she sobbed as she wrapped her arms around herself. "I'm so sorry. I'mI'm trying so hard to helpbut I can't" Her thoughts then travelled back to Cullen and the sessions that they had had together. Was it really only three weeks that they had known one another? Was Garrett right when he said that they were different together? She was so confused and so scared that she wasn't living up to what she had promised her father the night that he had died. She had to try harder but she was beginning to feel that she didn't have the energy. The will was there but her fears for failure were more so. As she drifted off into a deep sleep Isabella began to realise that her pound of flesh was suddenly starting to feel extremely heavy
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Chapter 12: The Possibilities "What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise" ~ Oscar Wilde Isabella's sleep had been disturbed at best. She had tossed and turned for the majority of the night. Her eyes couldn't seem to find rest but then neither could her head or her heart. Each part of her was busy in its own way. Her head ran through continuous images of her father, Jamie, Peter and more confusing of all, Cullen. She found herself, alone, back on the street where her father died, running towards a bright light that moved further away from her the harder and faster she ran. Then she was in her classroom, surrounded by her students, Peter and Jamie. All of them were talking at her at once with no decipherable words hitting her ears. The study room where she met Cullen was next, where he sat, mute and unmoving even though she was screaming at him to talk to her before she opened her eyes in panic and found that she was still in her bed. She would try to stay awake before she could fight it no longer. She would close her eyes and the sequence would start all over again. At six that morning Isabella finally gave up trying to sleep. Her head felt like it had been stuffed with cotton and her eyes stung from lack of rest. Groaning and inwardly cursing herself, she picked up her cell from the bed side table and dialled Arthur Kill. She had never had a sick day in the three years that she had been teaching but there was no way that she could move from her sanctuary. Luckily, Mike Newton hadn't arrived at the facility so it was his ever sympathetic secretary who she spoke to and explained that she would not be in for her morning class. "You sound terrible, dear," she said softly. "You get some sleep and make sure you eat something stodgy. My husband always makes me something stodgy when I'm sick." Isabella thanked her for her concern and her culinary remedies and ended the call before turning her cell phone off. She threw it back on the side and snuggled further under her comforter desperate for peace and respite. Alice Brandon however had other ideas. By the time eleven AM arrived and Isabella still hadn't turned on her cell phone or called her back, she was standing, food and coffee in hand while she hammered the wood of the apartment door with her other. She knew that there was something wrong. She knew that Isabella had been on a date with Peter and she was yet to call her and tell her how it had gone. Yes, there was something definitely wrong. She was just about to call the cops to break into Isabella's apartment when she finally heard the locks being moved from inside. Isabella grimaced and leaned heavily against the door as she opened it slightly. She was wrapped in a black wool blanket and was wearing pink thermal socks even though the temperature outside was ready to hit ninety. "I brought sustenance," Alice offered as she held up the bags of food and drink. "I don't want..." Isabella started but was stopped by Alice pushing past her with a large huff and an eye roll. "Whatever, Bells, you look like death warmed up and your cell is turned off. That tells me you need stodge, coffee and a shoulder to cry on, so, here I am."

She opened her arms wide with a smile that matched before turning gracefully and walked towards Isabella's bedroom. She placed the food and coffee (that was luckily in a holder) in the centre of the bed and patted the comforter as she looked at Isabella's incredulous face. "Come on, Swanface," she offered with a smaller, more sympathetic smile. "Humour me." Isabella rolled her eyes good naturedly and walked around the side of the bed, shuffling onto it with a long exhale. It wasn't that she was ungrateful for Alice's determination, it was more the fact that her friend was so determined that she knew that she would have to tell her everything that had been going on with her and that prospect scared the ever loving shit out of her. She was barely aware of what the hell was going on in her own mind herself, let alone having to try to explain it to someone else. Alice pulled out napkins and two huge breakfast burritos that smelled heavenly. Isabella could practically hear her hips groan in protest but she wasn't about to deny herself calories on this particular day. She took it from Alice eagerly and sat cross legged while Alice did the same at the side of her. They began eating their calorific brunch in relative silence that was punctuated by moans of satisfaction and happiness. The coffee was also just what Isabella needed and she drank it down as if her life depended on it. Caffeine at this point was her new best friend. Alice finished her food first and sat back against the headboard of the bed and watched her friend as she finished her own. Isabella looked tired. No, it was more than that. It was a look of exhaustion with a hint of defeat and that was something that Alice had never seen on Isabella before. She was always such a strong and resolute individual: which was why the two women gravitated to each other so much. But currently, Isabella looked anything but. "Better?" Alice asked once Isabella had finished her food. She nodded and hummed in response. "Tons," she replied with a grin, before shifting up to the headboard. Alice sighed and tried to look at Isabella as sincerely as she could. "Look, Bells, I know that there is stuff going on with you." Isabella dropped her eyes to her hands that were fisting eagerly into the sheet of her bed. She still felt so cold. "You have never had a sick day; you had a date with Peter and never called me to tell me how it went. You look exhausted so you're obviously not sleeping and you're wrapped up in that comforter as though it were the depth of winter." Alice gestured to her friend with a wave of her hand. "I don't want to pry, I don't, but I'm worried about you, Girl." She tucked a piece of hair that had come loose from Isabella's clip behind her ear and rubbed the top of her arm. "You know you can talk to me about anything, right?" Isabella nodded, not convinced that her voice would hold out if she were to start talking. "Ok, good." They remained sitting in silence for fifteen minutes before Isabella started talking.

"You're right, I'm not sleeping," she croaked with a shake of her head. "I'm even back on my pills." She shook her head in annoyance. "I tried coming off of them but...the nightmares I have are..." She paused and rubbed her forehead with the palm of her hand. "You have nightmares?" Alice asked softly, "About your dad?" "Sometimes," Isabella replied with a nod. "But recently they are about...everything." Alice stayed quiet while she watched her friend struggle with what she was comfortable telling her. "My date with Peter went great," she offered with a genuine smile. "He's funny, attentive, handsome..." "Sexy accent," Alice interrupted with a nudge of Isabella's shoulder. Isabella laughed lightly and raised her eyebrows in agreement. "We talked and had a good laugh. He even walked me home." "Southern gentleman," Alice smiled, knowing that Jasper would have done exactly the same. The Whitlock boys were from good, well mannered stock and Isabella would be crazy to pass up an opportunity with Peter. Now that his divorce had come through he was, once again, an eligible bachelor and Alice for one knew that there were plenty of women across Manhattan Island who were ready to sink their perfectly manicured claws into his eligible ass. "He said that he...wanted to kiss me," Isabella said in no more than a whisper. Ordinarily Alice would have clapped and squealed and asked about tongue action but the look on Isabella's face stopped her cold. "But you didn't," Alice concluded with a shake of her head. "No," Isabella replied. Saying it out loud it sounded fucking ridiculous. Peter was a great guy and she was definitely attracted to him, there was just something that stopped her and she couldn't for the life of her figure out what it was. "I like him," she added eagerly. "I do, it's just..." She exhaled in frustration and raised her eyes to the heavens. Alice shuffled closer to her and took her hand in her own. "It's early days, Bells," she said encouragingly. "No one was expecting shit hot smooches and passionate fucking on the first date." They both laughed and the darkness of the room lifted momentarily. "Me and my damn principles," Isabella added with a wry smile. Alice laughed again before adding seriously, "Just take it slow and see what happens."

Isabella nodded and ran her free hand through her hair that felt dirty from the night sweats that she had endured over the past seven hours. "He was in my nightmare," Isabella said quickly before glancing up at her friend. Alice looked back at her with a puzzled look on her face. "Peter?" she clarified with a dip of her chin to which Isabella nodded in response. "After the date, I dreamt that I was back where my father got attacked." She took a deep breath and squeezed Alice's hand without even realising it. "I saw the same men, in the same place, doing the same things that they did that night but..." "You're ok, Bells," Alice murmured gently. "It wasn't my dad that they were hurting. It was one of my students." Isabella felt her throat close as the sound of his pleading echoed around her skull once more. "They were hurting him?" Alice asked. "Yes," Isabella answered immediately, the terror still detectable in her tone. "They were killing him," she continued. "And I tried to get to him but my father, Jamie...and Peter dragged me away from him. He was screaming for help, Alice, and I couldn't do anything...I was helpless...I was so fucking helpless, just like I was that night...and I know it means that I'm not helping Cullen and...Christ...he's so clever and sensitive...and he deserves to get out of that shit hole but...I don't know what I can do to help and my promise is broken to my dad and...I'm sorry...I...I'm so fucking sorry..." She collapsed against Alice's shoulder, sobbing and heaving for breath. Alice was utterly distraught at seeing her friend in such pain and held her tightly as she cried frightened, desperate tears into her shirt. It had been a long, long time since she had seen Isabella cry about her father and it was just as unsettling as it had been the one other time it had happened. "I feel so lost," Isabella muttered from her resting place in Alice's lap. Alice was stroking her hair gently, in an attempt to calm her down. "Isabella," she said softly. "Who's Cullen?" Isabella exhaled as a familiar twist in her stomach occurred. It was gone as quickly as it arrived. "He's the inmate that I do one to one sessions with. He was the one in my dream." Alice frowned gently, knowing that the name was familiar to her. "And why do you think you aren't helping him?" Isabella sat up. Her eyes were all bloodshot and the side of her cheek was red from leaning against Alice's leg. "My dream, Alice," she offered with open palms. "I couldn't help him. I couldn't stop the men from killing him. Come on, Dr Freud, tell me you see that!" Alice remained silent as she mulled over Isabella's theory.

"Possibly, Bells, but why would your father drag you away from him? Surely your dad would want you to help him?" Isabella opened her mouth to protest but nothing came out. She hadn't thought of that aspect of the dream. Why had it been her father? Jamie was fairly self explanatory; he was forever showing his dislike for Isabella's job choice and Peter...? Maybe he was just there because he was the last person she saw before she slept? She grimaced and shrugged as Alice logicality seeped into her head. "I don't know," she conceded, feeling even more lost as her dream explanation evaporated in front of her. "You said this Cullen is clever?" Alice said as she watched Isabella's face fall. "Yeah, he is," she answered, unable to keep the small smile from tugging at the corners of her mouth. Her mouth suddenly went dry when she remembered how he had looked in the gym when she had last seen him: Masculine, strong and sexy as hell. She cleared her throat and her eyes darted to Alice's in the hopes that her blush wasn't too noticeable on her cheeks. Unlucky for her it was. Alice crossed her arms over her chest and mused over that while Isabella continued talking about the sessions that she had had with him, the ups and the down and the parole meeting that was so crucial. "Seeing him in my dream though, Alice, and hearing him scream for me to help him..." She paused and blew a long breath out between her pursed lips. "I just couldn't face seeing him...or face being at the facility today." She felt Alice nod at the side of her. "I need to figure out what I'm doing wrong or...what I'm meant to be doing or..." She groaned in frustration and slapped her hands to her thighs. "I don't know. I just needed a day to regroup." "That's allowed, Isabella," Alice smiled. "But, Honey, when do you think you're doing anything wrong?" Isabella looked at her blankly. "You said your class is really engaged and that your relationship with Cullen has improved. Maybe you're doing everything right? Maybe you don't have to change a Goddamn thing?" And maybe you like this Cullen guy a little more than you should...? Isabella slumped against the headboard once again and once again contemplated that she was, in terms of figuring anything out, right back at square one. "Bells, we both know that your father, wherever he is, is so fucking proud of you and what you are doing." Isabella gave a small smile and felt a tear run down her right cheek as she nodded. She knew what Alice was saying was true; deep down in her gut. "You are doing everything that you said you would. You are following through on your promise and making a difference; giving back like you said you would."

"I'm trying," Isabella whispered determinedly. "I really am and I know that this is just a dip in the road but...fuck...it came out of nowhere." She rubbed her hands down her face and rested her chin on her knee. "Do you still write to him?" Alice was referring to the notebook that Isabella's therapist had given to her on her first therapy session twelve years ago. Isabella had resisted therapy for three years before she finally gave in to her mother's pleadings. Isabella's therapist had explained that, in writing to her father, she would vent her grief in a productive way instead of becoming angry and bitter, which was, admittedly, what Isabella had started to become. It had helped in its own way. Growing up and always as she sat in Battery Park, she had told her father about school, college, and her friends. She told him about how Jamie had tried to kiss her when she was eleven and that she had punched him in the face in response and she had even told him when she had gotten drunk with Leah on her seventeenth birthday. But Isabella hadn't used it for a long time. She shook her head regretfully. "Not for a while." "Well," Alice broached carefully. "Maybe it's time you did? Maybe that might help; give you some clarity and help you to organise everything that's going on in that pretty little head of yours?" Isabella rubbed her hands down her knees and sighed. "Maybe you're right." =PoF= Cullen was anxious. He was anxious and nervous and fuck, where the hell was Peaches? He was sitting in a nicer room than what he was used to alongside Garrett and his rat faced attorney. Charlotte, his parole officer, was due in fifteen minutes and Peaches still hadn't arrived. She was definitely in; Garrett had told him so when he had asked as nonchalantly as he could of her whereabouts. He had been told by Emmett that she had been off sick the day before which had left him restless all fucking day. He wanted to ask Garrett if Isabella was well again but he thought better of it when Garrett had eyed him in a way that made him nervous. She had looked so exhausted and worn when he had last seen her and he hoped that she was now feeling better. Not having their session had made Tuesday drag like hell. He was sure his anxiety wouldn't have been as bad if he had been allowed a fucking cigarette but he had been told that it was prohibited in that particular part of the building. What a croc, he had thought to himself. Mike Newton was just causing him unnecessary stress like he always fucking did. Cunt. The door of the room opened suddenly and Cullen's leg ceased its bouncing immediately as he saw Peaches enter with a small smile in his direction. She looked fucking stunning in a pale blue blouse and a black pencil skirt. Her hair was up in a loose twist and Cullen immediately wanted to unfasten it and then grab a handful, just so he could smell it. He groaned in annoyance when his dick perked up, wanting a piece of the hair porn action. "I'm sorry I'm late," she said softly in Garrett's direction while glancing at Cullen surreptitiously.

He caught the look and smiled to himself. Garrett cleared his throat at the side of him and Cullen's face dropped instantly. Shit. Cullen knew that Garrett was aware of there being 'something'between the two of them and he had continually asked about Peaches and who or what it was, ever since his stupid ass had passed the fuck out. Cullen knew that, being the tenacious little bastard that Garrett was, it wouldn't be long before he would start to put the pieces together. In the mean time, he would have to be more careful. He knew that he had been a lot calmer around her. His temper had, where Peaches was concerned, been under control and as positive as a thing as that was, it could also prove to be very dangerous. With that thought, he slouched in his seat, averting his eyes from Peaches and went to work, picking at the cuticle on his right thumb. Fuck me, I need a smoke... As if on goddamn cue, Mike-jerk-off-Newton entered the room followed by Charlotte. She was an attractive woman of about thirty-seven, with long auburn hair that rested just under her shoulder blades in carefully constructed waves. She was wearing a power suit today knowing that she was dealing with Cullen and all that that implied but she was happily surprised to see another woman in the room as she entered. Strength in numbers... It wasn't that Charlotte was an extreme feminist, she was happily married with two children, but she knew what the prison environments could be like for women like her and the young, petite girl who smiled quickly at her. Mike Newton began by making the introductions, which Charlotte considered unnecessary considering that she knew everyone else in the room. Cullen, as he usually did, seemingly ignored her apart from a small chin dip and a raise eyebrow. "And this is Miss Swan, Cullen's tutor," Mike said with a wide smile between the women. Fucker... Asshole... Isabella and Cullen both thought respectively and simultaneously. "A pleasure," Charlotte said honestly as they shook hands. "Garrett's told me a lot about you and the work that you have been doing with Cullen." Isabella smiled sheepishly at Garrett, feeling her cheeks warm as she thought back to their previous conversation about her relationship with Cullen. "Yeah," she answered as she turned back to Charlotte. "He's worked hard." I am hard, Cullen thought with a small smile to himself as he decimated the skin on his thumb. "Well, that's great," Charlotte replied before walking over to the table where she placed her bag and pulled out all the necessary papers that she needed. She took a seat opposite her client and began writing at the top of the application form. "How are you?" she asked Cullen. "You look well." "I'm just dandy," he answered in his usual blas, cocky tone.

Charlotte bit her lip at his response and decided to quickly get down to why she was there. "I have here a request for early parole from your councillor, which has also been signed by Mr. Newton, Mr. Yorkie and your lawyer." She held up the form in question and looked at Cullen until his eyes met hers. "Now, the parole board doesn't meet for another six weeks so that gives us plenty of time for you to shape up and give the board reason for releasing you early." Cullen bristled at her patronising tone and sat forward in his seat. "And what exactly do I need to shape up?" he snarled. Garrett shifted in his chair, as did Isabella who was silently praying that he didn't lose his shit. That was the last thing that he needed. Charlotte's eyes never left Cullen's. She was used to his intimidating techniques and she was not in the mood for it. "I have evidence here," she stated while she held up another form. "That you have assaulted another inmate recently, resulting in him being put in the clinic" "He's out now," Isabella interrupted without even realising that she was going to speak. She sat back in her seat as Charlotte's stern gaze met hers. "Sorry," she muttered. Cullen cocked an eyebrow in Isabella's direction but she ignored it by dropping her chin and fisting her hands in her lap. She couldn't understand why she was so on edge. Charlotte turned back to the details in front of her. "You have shown aggressive behaviour towards other inmates, staff including Miss Swan and Mr. Newton and have threatened guards while in their charge." "That's because one of the fuckers assaulted my ass," Cullen fumed. "Nearly broke my goddamn wrist!" "That was amisunderstanding," Newton interjected with a nervous stammer. "What the fuck ever," Edward growled. "Edward," Garrett warned gently with an imperceptible shake of his head. Yeah, take his side, Edward thought with a huge eye roll. Why the fuck not? "Well, I'll be sure to look into that," Charlotte assured Cullen as much to Newton's annoyance - she made a note in her diary to do exactly that. "But regardless," she continued as she lifted her head. "You have far more negatives than positives at this point." Cullen shrugged as though he didn't give a damn but he knew that he wasn't fooling anyone. "The question is; what are you doing to counteract theseunseemly incidents?" Isabella glared at Newton as he quietly muttered 'unseemly' with a shake of his head. He really is a dickhead

"As you know," Garrett said after a moment of tense silence during which Cullen pretended that the sole of is right shoe was the most fascinating item on the fucking planet. "Edward has been working with Miss Swan on a three day timetable where he has been studying English Literature." "Yes, I do know this," Charlotte answered. She looked quickly at Isabella who was looking a lot more confident now that she knew Cullen's temper was on a leash. "How have the sessions been, Miss Swan?" Isabella fought the urge to look at Cullen and instead smiled gently. "They have been excellent. Cullen has worked well. He is engaged and he has many insightful ideas about the topics that we have discussed." Charlotte nodded and made a quick note. "I understand that Cullen and yourself had a couple ofshall we say, run-ins when you first started." Isabella crossed her legs and swallowed. "That's correct," she replied. "But not anymore?" "No," she said firmly. "Cullen and I have come to an understanding in terms of his conduct during the sessions." She chanced a look at him and blinked when she saw that he was looking right at her with a small smirk at the corner of his mouth. It was terribly sexy and terribly distracting. "Cullen's attitude has been positive and cooperative," she concluded as she looked quickly back at Charlotte. "It's clear that he wants to learn and do well." She cringed inwardly as she spoke, liking her last sentence to that of an end of year report card comment. Charlotte however hadn't seemed to notice. She continued to write before she laced her fingers together on the table in front of her. "That's great, Cullen," she said with a nod. "But?" he and Garrett said in unison. "But the board aren't stupid. They are aware that you attending these sessions with Miss Swan could be your sneaky way of simply scoring points with them." "With all due respect," Garrett interrupted. "But isn't that the point?" "Yes, of course," Charlotte concurred. "But Cullen needs to show dedication. He needs to show that he's not just doing it because he has to. He has to show that he's doing it because he wants to and sees everything that he learns as useful in the long term." She turned to Cullen. "That's what parole is all about, Cullen; long term." "How long term are we talking?" Cullen's lawyer asked as he scribbled on a yellow note pad that was balanced precariously on his left knee. Charlotte sat back and exhaled. "If he is granted parole in six weeks, that would mean that he is released eight months early, so" "Twelve months," the lawyer finished for her. Charlotte nodded. "With the first nine being monitored closely by my self, another assigned parole officer and Garrett, should he wish to continue with his meetings post-parole."

Garrett nodded but didn't answer either way. He knew however that he did want to keep seeing Edward. The kid was a law unto himself and a part of him felt responsible for keeping him on the right track. "So, do we keep doing the sessionspost-parole?" Isabella asked gingerly with a hand gesturing towards the space between herself and Cullen. "That would definitely be something to consider," Charlotte replied. "It would show the board that you are dedicated and serious about your rehabilitation, but you need to discuss that between yourselves and decide before the meeting." Cullen glanced at Peaches out of the corner of his eye to see a determined expression form across her beautiful face. He suddenly had a weird feeling in the pit of his stomach at the prospect of continuing to see her once he was released. Even if it was because the parole board deemed it 'necessary', he couldn't help the excitement that bubbled up. He had thought fleetingly about what it would mean to see her when he wasn't surrounded by fucking bars and it made him feel both panicked and exhilarated. No guards, cameras or time limitsfuck me, the possibilities are endless Isabella was feeling equally conflicted as she let Charlotte's words seep into her brain. Seeing Cullen outside of Arthur Kill would be a strange experience, she was sure, but what also struck her was that she was sure she wanted to help him in any way she could and there was no doubt in her mind that she would agree to the sessions continuing, if his parole deemed it. She had, after Alice had left the night before, pulled out her notebook and had begun to write. At first the words stuck, due to the tears that flowed, but eventually they came just as fast as the salt water hit the paper. As she had read back what she had confided in the pages, two hour later, she was unable to ignore that number of times that Cullen's name appeared. It unsettled her at first but the more she thought about it, the more she realised that there was a reason for it and that that reason was simply that she was determined to help him as much as she could. Her pound of flesh would be repaid. Her dream could just fuck off "Is there anything you would like to ask or add, Cullen?" Charlotte asked as she clicked the tip of her Mont Blanc. Cullen cleared his throat and sat forward in his seat. "If um, if IMiss Swandecide to continue with the sessions when I'm releasedwe do those for how long? I mean, do we do them for-fucking-ever?" Isabella couldn't help the small smile that tugged at the corners of her mouth. She caught Garrett's eye as he did the same and shook his head in affectionate exasperation. Charlotte laughed lightly and shook her head. "At the end of your initial nine months of monitoring, you will meet again with the board and the situation will be reviewed. If Miss Swan doesagree then she will have to keep rigorous notes, detailing what you have studied and what the outcomes are as well as meeting with the board to explain them." "That's not a problem," Isabella added quickly but firmly.

"I'm pleased to hear it," Charlotte retorted before turning back to Cullen. "But you know that there will be other terms to meet which will be decided in six weeks." Cullen nodded with a wry smile, knowing that the usual bi-weekly drug tests and curfews would be implemented. Fuck "If that is all" Charlotte trailed off. Cullen nodded. "Good. Garrett if I could have a word and Mr. Hughes, we'll speak soon." Cullen's lawyer grunted an affirmative and stood with her. Isabella watched as Mr. Hughes shook Newton's and Garrett's hands before speaking quickly but quietly with Cullen who immediately looked incensed by whatever it was that he was talking about. She frowned at his expression but turned back to Newton. "I may as well walk back with Cullen to the session room," she said as she picked up her bag. She noticed his narrowed eyes and paused, "If that's ok? I mean, I have no classes and I'm up to date with planning and" "It's a little early," he said as he glanced arrogantly at his watch. Isabella stared at him with an expression that screamed: yeah, and? He exhaled and cleared his throat in aggravation. "I guess it isn't a problem." "Thank you," she muttered as she pulled the bag further up her arm. Newton sighed and walked towards the door where he ushered in two guards. Charlotte approached Isabella and held out a beautiful cream business card. "Here are me contact details," she said as Isabella took it from her. "If you could let me know as soon as you have come to a decision about the sessions, I would appreciate it." "Um, sureno problem," Isabella answered as she tapped the card to her index finger. "I want to help in any way I can." Charlotte smiled slightly and glanced at Cullen who was being lead towards the door by the two guards. "I can see that," she replied as she turned back to Isabella. "He needs as many friends as he can get at this point." "Yeah," Isabella muttered. "We'll speak soon I'm sure," Charlotte added before turning on her heel and following Garrett out into the corridor. Isabella glanced back down at the card in her hand and exhaled in determination. Yes, she thought, she was definitely going to help all she could. =PoF=

Cullen was sitting in his usual spot behind the table, ready to start smoking his goddamn overalls, when Isabella walked in. "Please, for the love of all that is fucking holy, tell me that you have some" "Cigarettes," Isabella smiled as she held them up in her hand. "Here ya go, Champ," she said with a small laugh as she threw them at him. "Fuck yes," he groaned as he pulled them open and grabbed at one quickly. Isabella ignored the strange sensation in her stomach that occurred at the sound and continued pulling out all her resources. She watched as discreetly as she could as Cullen inhaled the smoke, closed his eyes and breathed it down his nose. He did it twice more before he looked back at her. "Thanks," he murmured through a smoky haze. "No problem," she replied quickly with a shake of her head. "You looked like you were ready for one the entire time we were in that other room." "Yeah, no fucking shit," he retorted, "Fucking Newton." Isabella smiled and bit her lip, knowing that her response would be picked up, not only by the guard, but by the cameras and their small red flashing lights. "So," Cullen said in a much calmer tone. "What's on the agenda for today, Peaches?" Isabella's smile grew a little wider before she cleared her throat and moved around to his side of the table. She glanced quickly at the guard but he appeared unworried by her proximity to his inmate. After Garrett's words to her about people noticing the way her and Cullen behaved around each other, she was even more aware of how she herself acted while she was in his company. She flattened out the text of The Merchant of Venice in front of him and sat back with her own. "I wanted to have a look at this particular speech," she said as she motioned to the page. "You mentioned it last session and I was interested to hear your interpretation of it." Cullen looked down at the book and smiled wryly, "This speech? How fucking predictable." Isabella glared at him and huffed while crossing her arms over her chest. "Predictable or not," she growled. "It's an important part of the play and I want to hear what you think of it. But maybe your answer will be just as predictable as my speech choice." Cullen looked at her with a cocked eyebrow. Motherfucking touch "Ok, Peaches," he said dryly as he sat back in his seat. "I'll bite. What do you want to know?" She looked down at Act III Scene I of the play and shrugged just as Cullen would have. "Whatever," she answered nonchalantly. "Amaze me." "Don't tempt me," he muttered as he blew out the last of what was left of his cigarette and extinguished it in the ashtray.

"What?" "Nothin'," he answered quickly. "Fine," he sighed in boredom. "The speech is spoken by Shylock." "Wow," Isabella added sardonically with wide eyes. "Shakespeare scholars the world over will be peeing themselves in excitement at your amazing insight!" Cullen couldn't help the smirk that graced his face at her sarcasm. She was at her most sexy when she was that way. "Ok, Teach," he replied cockily as he copied her pose. "'I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge. The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.'" Isabella's mouth popped open as she listened to him quote the entire speech without looking once at the page in front of him. Hearing him speak Shakespeare's words was without doubt one of the most erotic things she had ever witnessed. His tone changed to one of almost reverence as he spoke and his eyes burned with a passion that Shylock would have no doubt conveyed to the courts as he expressed is anger at the wrong doing that had befallen him. "Impressed?" Cullen smirked as he reached for another smoke. "Somewhat," Isabella croaked nonchalantly as she tried her hardest to remain composed. "But you still haven't answered my question." Cullen laughed lightly and raised his eyebrows. Clever Peachestenacioussexy "It's mainly about revenge," he said seriously. "He's understandably pissed about the way that he has been treated because of his religion and he vows to match the 'villainy' with his own. Only his 'villainy' will be a lot fucking worse. Shylock's a bad ass motherfucker." "So, does that excuse Solanio and Salarino's treatment of him? He's a bad ass motherfucker, surely he deserves everything that comes to him?" Cullen scoffed. "They're only treating him that way because they are narrow minded shits who see nothing but a label on Shylock. Jew, for them, means evil." "So, you think they are anti-Semitic?" "Oh come on," Cullen grumbled. "Give me a fucking break. The anti-Semitism is fucking blatant but that's not the most important aspect of the playor speech." "It's not?" "No," Cullen replied firmly sitting forward in his seat. Isabella felt her face beam as she watched him begin to get passionate about what he was discussing. He was borderline magnificent when he was so focused.

"Shylock says, 'If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die?' He's making the point that no matter his religion or label or what the fuck ever, he is human just like the bastards that have treated him like shit. People everywhere, every day; make judgments about others because of their color, religion, background, race, sexual preferencecriminal history." He glanced up at Peaches as he spoke his last two words. "The world is a shitty fucking place, Peaches and it was then too. Shylock is the only one in the entire play with the balls to make a point about it. The irony that the supposed unintelligent, evil, uneducated Jew has such bravery is what makes the shit important. The fact that he's a Jew is simply a plot device, Peaches: Anti-Semitism or any other form of prejudice." He exhaled and rubbed his chin with the palm of his hand. "Shakespeare could have made him a goddamn inmate at Arthur Kill if such a place existed then." Isabella couldn't pull her eyes from him as he leaned his elbows on the table and finished his cigarette. His passion about the subject was clearly deep-rooted. She wondered briefly what prejudice he had encountered to make him sympathize with the character so much. Had he been treated a certain way because of his time in prison? She hoped not but she was instantly embarrassed when she remembered her own initial thoughts about all the inmatesincluding Cullen. "You sympathize with him," she said softly to which he nodded. He slumped back in his seat, grazing the back of his hand against her knee as he did. He wasn't sure whether it had been intentional or not but dammit her skin felt fucking incredible. He didn't notice that the breath had caught in her throat at the contact. "People think he's barbaric because he promises revenge but at the end of the day who can blame him. If they have labeled him as such, why shouldn't he live up to it?" "He could have surprised people," Isabella answered, noticing a definite change in the tone of the discussion. "He could have behaved differently, calmly and shown that he is agood person." You could show how good you are Cullen looked deep into her eyes and shook his head gently. "It doesn't work that way," he murmured, "If the shoe fitsor the label." He pointed to himself. "Criminalthere's no amount of good that erases that shit. It's easier to live up to people's expectations than try to change them." Isabella frowned. "So, why are you here and why have I said that I'll help you to get parole and put up with your grumpy, cocky assed shit for another nine months?" Cullen smiled briefly at her insinuations before shrugging. "I don't know, Peaches. Why did you?" Isabella looked back at him for a long time before dropping her yes back to the text in her hand. "I have my reasons," she replied eventually. "Your own pound of flesh, huh?" Her head snapped up at his words but he was busy playing with the cigarette box in front of him. He took a deep breath before speaking again.

"And I'm here becauseI want to be." He turned back to her slowly to see the effect his words had had on her and was surprised to see soft brown eyes and a small smile. "I'm glad," she replied gently as she tucked a lose hair behind her ear. He nodded slowly, wanting nothing more than to do that himself, and turned back to the cigarette box. "Did you really mean it?" he asked, trying to hide the hope in his voice. "Did I mean what?" "That you'llwe'll carry on our sessions." He kept his eyes on his hands but he felt her shift next to him. "Yes," she answered with a determined tone. "I want to help in any way I can." Cullen's mouth twitched as he looked back at her. "Why?" Isabella smiled back at him. "Because, Cullen, I'm a glutton for fucking punishment." Cullen barked out a laugh that eased the tension that had started to once again surround them. "Fair enough, Miss Swan," he replied as he slapped a hand to his thigh. "For a moment I thought it was because you just wanted to be near my hot ass without guards and cameras butyou knowwhatever," he deadpanned with his hands up in mock understanding. Isabella cupped her palms to her cheeks. "I am so transparent," she retorted dryly. She couldn't help but laugh at Cullen's small snort. "Now shut up and do this work." She pushed a sheet in front of him that contained specific questions about the speech along with a pen. "Yes ma'am," Cullen replied with a wink that set parts of Isabella's body into a small frenzy. No guards or cameras, she mused as she watched him start writing. She let her eyes explore him from the sexy chaos on his head to the sharpness of his stubbled jaw and felt her cheeks warm immediately as her mind began to wander. Fuck me, the possibilities are endless Chapter 13: Complications Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated ~ Confucius It had been three weeks since Jake Black had sent Paul to Aro's place with an envelope filled with fucking cash and the receipts from the shops takings. Three weeks since Paul had come back looking as white as a goddamn ghost and three weeks since Jake had heard a name uttered that still sent pangs of pain through his entire body even after nearly a year of not hearing it. At least, he hadn't heard it since Jake exhaled in annoyance, determined to stop his brain from wandering in that particular direction, and took a much needed gulp from the glass of bourbon that he had been nursing in his hand ever since he had entered the night club thirty minutes before. It was hot and strong as it slipped down his

throat and, with two more large mouthfuls, it was empty. He slammed the glass down on the bar and eyed the barman for another. He was feeling punchy. He had been for three weeks. It was all Paul's fucking fault. No, he thought as he bit the inside of his mouth, it was that motherfucker Aro's fault. For too long he had had Jake over a barrel and it was starting to get really fucking boring. Jake had good friends, loyal acquaintances and he knew a lot of hard faced motherfuckers that owed him a lot of favours but that all equalled exactly dick when faced with Aro Bartollini and his band of merry men. And that was before Jake even factored in the amount that he owed the bastard. Jake Black was a drug dealer. He had made a name for himself and was respected in the large circle to which he lavished his plethora of narcotics. He made a lot of money too but that was before.everythingand before Aro started taking 70% of everything that Jake made: body shop and drug money. It wasn't that Jake was now hard up; far from it. He still had enough to live in a sweet pad, have nice clothes and bitches hanging from his arms and dick, but it wasn't enough to get out of the bind that Aro held him in or enough to get what he really and truly wanted Her. He slammed down his empty glass once again, feeling Paul's eyes burning into the side of his head. He ignored him and kept his eyes on the glass that the barman filled before leaving the already half empty bottle at Jake's side. "Stop it," Paul muttered loud enough for Jake to hear over the music as he sipped his own drink. "Stop what?" Jake snarled with a sardonic smile. "You know what," Paul replied firmly as his eyes snapped to the bottle and then back to Jake's face. "Getting fucked off of your face is not what you need right now." Jake turned towards his friend and leaned against the bar. "And what the fuck would you know about what I need right now?" he snarled before grinning and pouring another glass. He liked Paul, he had known him for a lot of years but he didn't know when to keep his mouth shut. Cullen would understand if he were here "I know that getting shit faced in Aro's club while his fucking Storm Trooper cronies are staring over here, looking like they wanna rip your cock from your body, is not the best idea, Jake," Paul replied while glancing surreptitiously over Jake's shoulder. Jake frowned and turned to where Paul's eyes were set. Sure enough, Aro's favourite jerking partner, Marcus, was standing, glaring at the two of them over the top of a crowd of people with his arms crossed over his chest like he was fucking God. Jake smiled widely at him and waved by wiggling the tips of his fingers in his direction. "Motherfucker," he hissed through his teeth as he continued to smile at Marcus's narrowed eyes. "Jake, you're" Jake turned back to Paul to see him shaking his head, seemingly at a loss for words.

"What?" he snapped. "What am I, Paul?" "Nothing," Paul muttered, really not in the mood for one of Jake's tantrums and pissing contests with a guy with a gun in his waistband. "No really," Jake baited, moving closer to Paul. "I'd like to know what you were gonna say to me." "Jake," Paul warned with a flash of his eyes. "Chill the fuck out." Jake smirked darkly and pushed Paul's shoulder making him spill his drink on the bar. Paul immediately saw red. He wasn't afraid of Jake the way that others were afraid of him. He knew that it had been a bad idea to join Jake for a drink after seeing him and the mood he had been stuck in for the past few weeks. Paul knew that he would likely get a punch in the jaw for his outburst, but rather him than the huge fucker behind Jake who was nowfuckwalking towards them with a glint in his eye "What's going on here, Black?" Marcus said as condescendingly as he could once he had reached them. Paul bit his tongue and exhaled hard down his nose. Fucking great Jake's stare left Paul's and immediately met the fucker's standing to his right. "None of your fucking business, monkey boy," he growled quickly. He looked around Marcus as though looking for someone. "Don't you have a dick to suck somewhere?" Marcus laughed a deep sarcastic laugh that made Paul swallow and wish for a hole to appear in the floor underneath his shifting feet. "Oh, Black, you have no idea how much business it is of mine that you are in Aro's club about to start a hair pulling contest with your little bitch here." "Fuck you, Marcus," Paul bit back with a shake of his head. "Yeah, you'd like that wouldn't you, you little faggot?" Marcus replied while taking a step towards him. Jake straightened up and stepped in front of Marcus, so close that their chests were almost touching. "What is your fucking problem?" Jake asked with a furrowed brow. "You are my fucking problem," he answered with an index finger in his face. "Cullen's ass is rotting in jail and the sooner you fall face first off a cliff the fucking better." "Not many cliffs in Brooklyn," Jake answered with a mocking shrug of his shoulders. "Sorry about that." "Well, then maybe a bullet between the eyes might work better?" Marcus sniffed with a twitch of his hand towards his holster. Aro would kill his ass if he did anything to Black, let alone in the middle of his own fucking club but Marcus could practically taste the overwhelming need he had to just end the smarmy little bastard. Jake gritted his teeth and felt his fists clench at Marcus's words and expression but before he could swing for the fat fuck a small hand was pressing against his chest. "Gentlemen, gentlemen," Siobhan purred as she stepped between them. "This isn't very cordial now, is it?"

She looked between the two men who were still glaring daggers at one another and huffed at their lack of attention. "Now," she pouted with a shimmy of her hips. "Is one of you going to buy my fine ass a drink?" Jake nodded slowly at Marcus; his jaw flexing in angerit's on fuckerbefore he turned his face towards Siobhan. He glanced down to see that she was wearing a small black dress that was so understatedly sexy that it screamed hard fucking. He smirked and rubbed his palm down her curves. "I'll get you a drink, baby. What do you want?" Siobhan smiled and bit her lip coyly. Jake frowned slightly at her expression. Siobhan was never coy. "Grey Goose would be just fine, thank you, Jake," she answered as she fingered the centre of his chest. "Whatever," Marcus muttered with a slight snort. "Fuck you later, Black," he muttered before walking forcefully towards the back of the club, pushing unsuspecting dancers and drinkers out of the way as he did. "Later, Sweet pea," Jake shouted at his back before turning with a small smile to Siobhan who was rolling her eyes: all coyness gone. "Christ, Black," she moaned as she shuffled her small ass onto his forgotten bar stool. "Pick the toughest fucker in the place and antagonise him why don't ya?" Jake laughed and shrugged, garnering a disbelieving stare from Paul. He ignored it and ordered Siobhan's drink. "So, what the fuck is up with the lip biting, flirty shit?" he asked after he'd sipped from his glass. "Not that I'm against it but you know I'm a sure fucking thing." Siobhan laughed and lifted her drink. "Marcus has been wanting in my panties ever since he first saw me and I told him to take a hike. I knew it would drive him crazy that I was flirting with you." Jake shook his head and laughed lightly. "Fucking women," he murmured, "Most dangerous creatures on the planet." Siobhan lifted her glass and chinked both Paul's and Jake's in agreement. "So, what the hell brought you here tonight?" Siobhan asked with a perfectly arched eyebrow. Paul scoffed at the side of her as Jake shot daggers at him. "I just wanted a drink," Jake answered quickly. "I was also hoping for some good company but," he glanced at Paul again, "I can't have everything I guess." With that comment poking ruthlessly at his already frayed temper, Paul dropped his glass onto the bar and threw a twenty down alongside it. "I'm outta here," he muttered. He kissed Siobhan lightly on the cheek, "Nice to see you." "You too, Paul," she answered with a slight frown.

"Jake," he snapped as he walked past him. Jake sighed and grabbed his friend's elbow. "Look," he started, averting his eyes from Paul's. He was fuck awful at apologies or admitting he was in the wrong but he couldn't have Paul leave on bad terms. "I know I'm prick," he stated honestly. "Yeah," Paul answered sharply. "You are." Jake smiled and nodded resignedly. "Thanks for coming." The heat in Paul's eyes dimmed slightly as he saw the slight flickers of true remorse dance across Jake's face. "I'll see you tomorrow," he said gently before tuning back to Siobhan. "Make sure he keeps his hands to himself and his damned mouth shut." Siobhan laughed and nodded. "I'll do my utmost." Paul clapped his hand on Jake's large shoulder and moved through the crowds towards the exit. Jake leaned heavily against the bar and looked down at his feet. Siobhan watched him for a moment. She had never seen him look so desolate. He was usually so virile, so full of life and smart ass comments but nowhe just looked lost. "Hey Jake," she said as brightly as she could with a seductive purr at the end of his name. "What do you say to leaving this shit hole and going back to my place?" She smiled sexily. "I'm sure I could make you feel better." Jake smiled back but it wasn't the full on mega watt, sex covered one that Siobhan was used to. "Sure," he answered with a slow nod. "You don't have to," Siobhan assured him with no hint of bitterness. She knew where their relationship was situated and it was fine with her. She liked Jake and his cock but that was the end of it. "I know," he replied with a wink. He threw an obscene amount of money onto the bar and held his hand out for Siobhan to help her step down from the stool. He led her through the dancing, grinding, sweating bodies towards the main doors of the establishment that were - as usual - surrounded by huge fuckers in expensive suits. Jake ignored their stares and muttered jibes and, with his hand still firmly in Siobhan's, they exited the club and made their way to a waiting cab. They didn't speak during the entire trip until the cab stopped outside Siobhan's apartment and Jake thanked and paid the driver. Siobhan had barely put her purse and keys on the table by the door inside her apartment when she was suddenly pushed against the wall face first with Jake's full weight against her back. She gasped and moaned, with her cheek against the chocolate paint as his hands grappled at her dress, pushing it up and pulling her panties down. His palms were frantic against her but she loved it. Jake fought with his belt and button fly with one hand while he stroked her quickly between her legs. He moaned. She was so wet. She always was for him. He ripped the condom wrapper with his teeth and rolled it home quickly, desperate to feel. He knocked her knees apart with his own and grabbed her hips before guiding his cock to where they were now both panting with need. Jake needed this. Fuck. He just needed it to forget. But, even as he slid into the tight warmth of Siobhan's pussy, filling her to the hilt, all he could think of was the

way she had felt around him when they had been together. He groaned but it wasn't in pleasure. His eyes clenched shut and his grip on the woman he was buried in tightened. He thrust hard and deep in anxious frustration, making Siobhan cry out loudly as she held onto the wall as best as she could as Jake pummelled her into a sweet oblivion. =PoF= Isabella sat, twisting the leather handle of her briefcase nervously around her right index finger. She didn't know why she was so nervous. Maybe it was the strong smell of furniture polish of the office waiting area that she was sitting in or the way the receptionist kept giving her strange lingering looks, but she was beginning to feel a little anxious and a lot out of her depth. What am I doing here? It might not even be enough? What if she thinks its shit? Oh fuck She was brought from her nervous and self-deprecating inner monologue by the same receptionist calling her name. "Mrs Clegg will see you now," she murmured haughtily while her eyes flickered to the office door behind her. "Thanks," Isabella replied sweetly with a flash of her eyes. Pompous bitch Isabella knocked lightly on the door before pushing it open to see Charlotte rising from her seat with a warm smile. The two women had seemingly struck up an unorthodox relationship in the three weeks since they had initially met at Cullen's parole meeting at Arthur Kill. They spoke regularly on the phone about Cullen's behaviour and conduct during their sessions as well as what Isabella's plans were in terms of her lessons for Cullen, post-parole, and the ways in which she was planning to present them to the parole board. Charlotte had been happily surprised by the tenacity and determination that Isabella displayed when they spoke. It was clear that Isabella was resolute in her desire to help Cullen achieve parole and although it was something that Charlotte thought of regularly, she never asked Isabella where the drive came from. She knew of Isabella's family and past of course, but said no more about it. She simply admired it and hoped that it was enough to convince the board that Cullen should be released early. She shook Isabella's hand and gestured for her to sit. "Thank you for coming," she said with another smile. "No problem," Isabella replied as he sat down and pulled her bag open. "I brought the plans that you asked for." Isabella laid out a beautifully presented, three inch thick bound booklet on Charlotte's desk and swallowed loudly. Shit, I hope this is right Charlotte smiled and laughed lightly in surprise as she stared at the booklet before lifting it and opening up the first pages. Inside were lesson plans and resources of all descriptions, appendices, foot notes and a long term syllabus that featured Shakespeare, Donne, Rossetti, Dickens and Hemmingway. Charlotte was quiet for a while which freaked Isabella out even more. She grabbed for the pack of Tic Tacs out of her jacket pocket and threw two into her mouth as she watched Charlotte peruse the plan in front of her.

What if it's not enough? Fuck. Isabella threw a hand through her hair and cleared her throat. She had to be honest; if the plan wasn't enough she may have just cried and screamed bloody murder after all the work that she had put into it. Her social life had been practically none existent for the two weeks that she had been working on it. The only person she had seen regularly was Alice who had been a complete fucking life saver and helped her with the overall syllabus and text choices. As thanks she had agreed to go to a dinner party that she and Jasper were holding at their new house. Tonight. Peter is going to be there "Isabella," Charlotte said slowly, interrupting her train of thought. Shit, she hates it "Mmhm," Isabella replied as she swallowed her two Tic Tacs, whole. "This is extraordinarily detailed." Isabella paused for a moment. "And that'sbad?" Charlotte laughed. "On the contrary this is excellent and if it doesn't convince the board that you are going to be working Cullen exceptionally hard then I don't know what will." Isabella laughed in response, praying to every deity in the world that her cheeks hadn't pinked up too much at Charlotte's words. Working Cullen 'exceptionally hard' wasa.nice.image She crossed her legs and smiled tightly, cursing herself and the improper thoughts of her student that had been skulking around her brain for a while. Dangerous, dangerous, dangerous "I hope so," she offered finally. "I worked hard on it. I've also emailed a copy to Garrett and Mr Hughes, Cullen's lawyer." "Superb," Charlotte smiled. "I will forward this to the head of the board this afternoon." "What happens then?" Isabella asked quickly. "I mean, do we hear anything back?" Charlotte shook her head, "Unfortunately not. We'll not know what their thoughts are until the day of the meeting which has been confirmed as" She lifted a piece of paper at the back of her desk, "September 13th." Isabella blinked in surprise at the date and took a deep breath. "I have also been forwarding all your session details as well as Garrett's." Charlotte paused and sat back in her seat. "It seems that Cullen has been behaving just recently which is a good thing." "Yeah," Isabella agreed with a smile. "He's been so communicative and focused during our sessions. He really has been working hard and giving his ideas which are so informed and" She trailed off when she noticed Charlotte's expression. "Sorry," Isabella muttered.

Charlotte held a hand up. "Not at all," she laughed. "Your passion foryour workis inspiring. I can see why Cullen works so hard." And why he looks at you the way he does... "Yeah," Isabella muttered, suddenly feeling inexplicably proud of what she had achieved with Cullen and how much work he had been producing. "His intelligence is as overwhelming as it is surprising." Charlotte nodded slowly and steepled her hands under her chin, "He had a first rate educationwell, until he took the road to criminality." Charlotte shook her head in confusion. Even after all her years as a parole officer she still found it hard to understand why some of her clients did what they did; especially someone like Cullen with his family background. While Charlotte pondered this, Isabella let the information about Cullen's educational past float around her overactive brain for a while. It was hardly surprising to her when she considered his knowledge and insight in regards to the work that she had given him. He was always opinionated but there was more to it than that. There was a spark within him that seemed to come alight when he spoke about certain aspects of literature or specific characters. That was when Isabella was most content during their sessions together: when he was engaged and passionate. Charlotte smiled gently to herself as she watched Isabella's face take an almost serene like expression. Wherever she was, she was very happy there. "Thank you again for coming in, Isabella," Charlotte said softly as she sat forward in her seat in an attempt to catch her eye. Isabella's eyes snapped to Charlotte's and she at once felt her cheeks explode with heat. "Umsure," she said as she cleared her throat. "I'm glad thatthat the plan is what you want." She stood from her seat slowly and pulled her bag over her arm. "It's outstanding" Charlotte replied with a wide smile. "Mr Cullen has a lot to thank you for." "We'll see," Isabella muttered with a hint of hope at the back of her words. "I'll speak to you soon." She offered her hand to Charlotte which she shook firmly. "You will, Isabella. Keep up the great work with Cullen." Isabella smiled and nodded quickly. "I will." =PoF= Peter adjusted his shirt, and his hair, and his belt. He was nervous as shit. "Dude," Jasper said with a wry smile. "You look nervous as shit." Peter rolled his eyes and sipped from his bottle of beer. It was the first time that he was going to see Isabella after their not so disastrous first date. Yes, he had let his mouth run away with him by confessing that he wanted to kiss the hell out of her but it could have been much, much worse. Her reaction to his verbal vomit had been to stammer beautifully but she looked more flattered and embarrassed than sickened at the thought and that to Peter had to be a plus. Maybe tonight would be the night?

"Leave him alone," Alice chided Jasper with a shoulder nudge as she placed the salad on the side. She smiled warmly at Peter and scrunched her shoulders like the little match maker she was. Peter exhaled while making a strange grumbling, strangled sound that made Jasper snort with laughter. "Chill out, man," Jasper offered with a hand on his brother's shoulder. "It'll be fine." Peter was about to reply with some smart assed comment but was interrupted by a knock at the door. He swallowed his beer hard and ran a hand through his hair again quickly while Alice hurried past him to answer it. He heard voices and laughter before turning to see a blonde haired guy and an attractive red haired girl walk into the kitchen followed by Isabella who lookedamazingfuck! He watched as she handed Alice a bottle of red wine and smiled softly when her gaze met his. "Peter Whitlock," Alice said with a hand on his elbow. His eyes never left Isabella's as she started making the introductions. "This is James Damon and Victoria Ford." "It's Jamie," Jamie grumbled with a cocked eyebrow at Alice. She smiled sweetly in return. Peter shook Jamie's hand, noticing a slight tightening around his own as they did, "Nice to meet you." "Same," Jamie answered and watched as he shook Victoria's too, sizing up the guy who had taken Isabella on a date. He knew he was a hypocritical fucker for feeling even slightly jealous being with Victoria and all but he couldn't help it. Under the stronger feelings that he had for Isabella he cared for her deeply and with that came a sense of duty to protect her from ass wipes that Peter (potentially) could be. He frowned slightly when he realised that the guy before him actually looked pretty decent. Isabella held the eye roll that was threatening to happen as she watched Victoria smile widely at Peter and tell him how nice it was to meet him. Isabella knew she had been brought up better than the petty immature way in which she was currently feeling but the bitch was as fake as the Fendi bag that she was clutching to her chest like a fucking life line. It had been bad enough sharing a cab with her and Jamie but she had promised both Jamie and herself that she would try to be nice. At this point she was beginning to think that that particular promise was easier said than done. The girl just rubbed Isabella up the wrong way. It was that simple. "Isabella," Peter said quietly as he took a step towards her. "Peter," she replied and held her breath as he leaned down and placed a soft kiss on her right cheek. "You look beautiful," he continued as he let his gaze wander over her. Isabella was surprised that it didn't make her feel uncomfortable but rather warm on the inside. "Thank you," she said as she rubbed her palms down the sides of her Stella McCartney dress. "You look good too." Peter smiled and shrugged one shoulder, feigning arrogance, which made Isabella laugh lightly. The truth was he did look really, really good. He had on dark wash jeans and a long sleeved, black button down shirt with the top three buttons undone. He was clean shaven again and his hair was subtly messy. Safe.

Everyone was given a drink and the conversation flowed politely before Alice and Jasper ushered everyone from the kitchen to the dining room where Alice had spared no expense in making it look stunningly pretty. The theme was Asian which had no one noticed Alice's oriental style dress - could be seen in the pink orchids and bamboo that were placed in the centre of the table that was also covered in gold cloth. "You didn't give me chop sticks, right, Alice?" Isabella asked in panic as Peter held her chair out for her. "No," Alice replied with a small laugh. "You get a fork." "She barely manages with that," Jamie added with a wide smile. Isabella shot him a dark look before thanking Peter for holding her seat. "Maybe you shouldn't be thanking me," he said with a concerned expression. "Why?" she asked, puzzled. "Well, I may regret my decision to sit next to you if you struggle using simple cutlery." The seriousness of his face made Isabella laugh out loud. Peter laughed with her, relieved that his joke had seemingly worked to break the ice. She looked wonderful when she laughed. Isabella found that she laughed for a lot of the night, as Jasper and Peter regaled the table with stories from their youth before she, Alice and Jamie told stories of theirs. She blushed crimson when Alice spoke of their drunken nights out in college and denied fervently when she was accused of skinny dipping in the college fountain. "I'd have paid to have seen that shit," Jamie snorted into his beer. "Me too," Peter mumbled eagerly at Isabella's side as he placed a vegetable roll into his mouth. Isabella ignored the dark look that Victoria had thrown Jamie and stared at Peter in surprise. "What?" he mumbled around his food with wide, innocent eyes. Isabella smirked and flicked her hair over her shoulder. "Well, it never happened," she denied again. Peter didn't miss the sparkle in her eye as she said it. "I don't believe that for a second," he countered with a shake of his head. "Is that so?" "Absolutely." Isabella laughed and sipped her drink. Peter was, admittedly, sexy as hell when he was playful. She felt relaxed with him; as though there was no pressure or even that she had known him for longer than the few hours that they actually had. There was a familiarity with him that was comforting. Was she attracted to him? Yes. Yes, she was.

She swallowed her drink and watched him as he talked with Victoria across the table. He was handsome: very handsome, funny, sensitive and smelled great. He ticked all the boxes that Isabella kept in her head when meeting guys (not that it happened often) but there was somethingoff? Something she couldn't put her finger on No. Peter was good. Peter was safe. Safe. Safe. Safe "Isabella?" She looked from Peter to Alice who was smiling at her with her chopsticks frozen in mid air. "Yeah?" "I asked you, how did the meeting with Charlotte go?" Isabella smiled. "Great," she answered. "I think she really likes it. She said that it was 'outstanding' and that it would go far in helping the board make their decision. So, fingers crossed." She crossed her fingers and Alice mirrored it. "Did I miss something?" Jamie asked with a furrowed brow. "The syllabus and lesson plans for Cullen," Isabella answered. "I presented them to his parole officer, Charlotte today." Jamie nodded in understanding. That damn syllabus was the reason that he had hardly seen her for the past two weeks. He was seriously not happy about her continuing on with her sessions with the infamous Cullen outside of the prison but he knew that in regards to trying to talk her out of it, he didn't have a leg to fucking stand on. He had promised to be there for her and be as understanding as he could be but damn if it was hard holding his fucking tongue. He smiled as he felt Victoria's hand slip into his under the table and leaned over to place a gentle kiss on her temple. He, like Isabella, was oblivious to the silent, panicked communication that was passing across the table between Peter and Jasper. Peter blinked in question. Could it be? "UmIsabella, honey," Jasper said calmly with a smile. "Which prison did you say you worked at again?" "Arthur Kill," she replied without hesitation. Peter licked his lips and exhaled down his nose as he glanced at his brother. Fuck! Jasper shook his head infinitesimally but was enough to warn Peter from saying anything else. Now was notthe time for that shit to be broached. "And you work with" Jasper trailed off. "Cullen," Isabella finished for him.

"That's an odd name," Peter said innocently as he smiled at Isabella. She smiled in return. "Edward Cullen. But he prefers just Cullen." Peter took a large gulp from his glass of water. "We study Literature together," Isabella continued. "Well, I actually work with a lot of students but I have one to one sessions with Cullen and will hopefully continue them when he gets early parole." She crossed her fingers again and laughed as Alice did the same. "You didn't mention that, baby," Jasper muttered to Alice as she sipped from her drink. "I was sure I did," his fiance answered. She frowned at him in question when she saw the tension in his jaw but he smiled at her and shook his head in dismissal. Alice promised herself she would ask him about it later. "Do you do Shakespeare?" Peter asked calmly as he turned to the beautiful woman at his side. "We do," she replied. "Currently The Merchant of Venice, my particular favourite." "A pound of flesh?" Peter asked with a raised eyebrow. "The very same," Isabella answered. "Well," Peter continued as he placed his forearm on the back of Isabella's chair. "We all have one." Isabella looked at him in surprise but he simply smiled back, his eyes gentle and honest. "That we do." The meal, for Alice, was a complete success. She disliked Victoria pretty much on sight but it was nice seeing Jamie. He hadn't changed a bit. He was still an adorable smart mouthed son of a bitch. She just couldn't understand why he was with the girl he was. She knew that nothing would ever develop further between him and Isabella but Victoria just seemed to be bad news. Isabella had told her all about the infamous red head but she had put her tone and annoyance down to slight jealousy on Isabella's part but damn if she wasn't right about her. Admittedly, Victoria had been exceedingly conversational and polite but there was something about her that Alice just couldn't put her finger on. Peter and Isabella on the other hand were a complete win, which was confirmed when Peter offered Isabella a ride home. Alice had been concerned about Isabella since the day that she had found her in her apartment, falling to pieces over a nightmare that she had had. They had talked for hours that morning and the name Cullen had come up frequently. Alice knew that Isabella loved her job but it was also clear to her that she was getting emotionally involved with her student and that spelled trouble. She had jumped at the chance to help her with the syllabus and the plan. Even though it was for Cullen and his impending parole meeting, she knew that the more focused on the plan that Isabella was, the less focused she would be on thinking about Cullen and the dream that had broken her so much. She just hoped that she had been focused on something else for long enough. Peter, she hoped, was something else for her friend to focus on. They were both great people and Alice knew that they were fairly perfect for each other. If only Isabella would open herself up long enough to see it herself.

Feeling fairly pleased with himself, Peter held his car door open for Isabella and watched glancing quickly at her bare legs as she climbed in. He hurried around the car and slid in himself, starting the car up and putting it in gear with only a smile in Isabella's direction. "You have good taste in music," Isabella noted as the CD changed from one high-quality song to another. "Umthanks," Peter replied. "I love music but I don't get to indulge it much, other than when I'm in the car." He looked at her for a moment as she hummed along with the music coming from his stereo and sneakily turned it down so that he could hear more of her voice. They spent the rest of the twenty minute car journey this way; comfortably happy to share the silence once the music stopped. Peter put the car into park and turned off the engine when they reached the outside of Isabella's building. Isabella slowly unclipped her belt and reached for her purse from the foot well. "Thank you," she said as she tucked her hair behind her ear. She felt nervous and her stomach felt heavy. She cleared her throat to try and push the odd sensation away. It's Peter. Peter is safe. "No problem," Peter replied before clearing his own throat. "I had a good time." "Me too," Isabella answered honestly. She met his gaze and smiled gently. Peter smiled back. "It was great to see you again." Isabella nodded. "It was," she agreed. It had been nice seeing Peter. Did she want to see him again? Yes. Maybe? She looked up at him and her breath caught in her throat. His eyes were determined, dark and sexy as hell and the only other sound in the car as well as her heart thumping was the sound of the leather seat creak as he slowly leaned towards her. She didn't move. She wasn't sure that she could. The juxtaposing feeling of wanting to bolt but also wanting to stay exactly where she was, sent a shiver up her back. Peter stopped with his face only two inches from hers. His own heart was thumping in his chest and had he not had his wits about him, he may have laughed out loud at his own ridiculousness. Grow the fuck up, Whitlock. Kiss the girl! "Isabella," he murmured before seeing no rejection in her body language or expression leaned closer until his lips finally found hers. Isabella stayed still as their mouths moulded. It feltsoftwarmnice After a moment of stillness, Peter cupped her left cheek before opening his mouth slightly which, much to his excitement, Isabella reciprocated by opening hers. She tasted sweet and smelled even better and, as he deepened the kiss further, he realised he hadn't been as hard as he was in that moment since the first time he had ever had sex. Jesus Christ, this woman

Isabella began to lose herself in the sensation of kissing Peter and was as surprised as he was when she moaned softly when their tongues touched. Her hand found the back of his head and she shuffled closer to him on her seat. The sound of the leather creaking added to the highly sexed atmosphere that filled the car. The feeling in her stomach twisted but she fought to ignore it. She hadn't kissed anyone in so long. Why should she deny herself this? Who was she denying herself for? Peter hummed as Isabella's tongue rubbed his and he sucked its tip before she withdrew it from his mouth. It was without doubt the hottest kiss he had ever experienced and had he allowed himself, he would have had little problem in pulling her onto his lap and burying himself as deep as he could inside of her. Patience. His hand dropped slowly from her cheek and rubbed down her bare arm as they moved together, synchronised with their heads moving from one side, before changing slowly to the other. His hand met her knee and he moaned deep in the back of his throat at the feel of her soft skin. You're pushing it, Whitlock His palm rubbed gently across the skin of her knee before moving slowly up the outside of her thigh. Isabella tensed slightly but moaned again when his finger tips danced under the hem of her skirt which sent another shot of want up Peter's cock. He was holding on to his gentlemanly virtues by the skin of his teeth and he hissed loudly when Isabella's nails scratched his scalp as his hand travelled further up her thigh. He wanted to touch her, feel herfuck, he wanted to taste her. He managed to loosen his lips from hers for one split second so that he could clear his head of the overwhelming lust that was filling his brain and groaned her name in both want and mercy. "Isabella." He leaned his forehead against hers. "We either need to stop right now orJesus, I want you so much." Isabella blinked at his words and leaned back from him, seeing the lust and truth of his words on his entire face. The heavy breaths that she was taking and the moisture and heat between her legs told her that she wanted him too but tonight was not the night. It had been so long andthe feeling in her stomachshe grunted in annoyance under her breath. Fuck you, you fucking feeling She had only known Peter a total of ten hours and although he was one of the nicest most genuine men she had ever met, she wasn't about to lose herself in a night of crazy fucking. That wasn't her. She hadn't had a man in her bed for a long, long time but that wasn't an excuse to be wanton. "I think we should slow down," she said finally as she moved back in her seat slightly. Peter didn't know whether to laugh or cry. "Yeah," he agreed a little begrudgingly. He would never ever force any woman to do anything that they didn't want to but goddamnIsabella wasn't just any woman. He exhaled in what sounded like relief and shifted back in his own seat, discreetly pressing his crotch, willing the ache to dissipate. He rubbed his hands down his face and chuckled into his palms.

"What's funny?" Isabella asked with a cocked eyebrow. "Nothing," he answered as he looked back at her. "I justI feel a little relieved." Isabella tried to hold back the slight feeling of rejection that stung her chest but failed miserably. "No! No!" Peter almost yelled when he saw her face drop. "Christ, Isabella, I didn't mean it like that." Isabella was confused. "Then what did you mean?" Peter sighed and gently placed his palm over hers that were lying on her lap. "I think I've made it pretty clear that I like you. A lot." Isabella blushed slightly and dropped her eyes from his. "It's been a while since I wasintimate with anyone other than my wife and" He laughed in embarrassment when Isabella looked back up at him. "I'm a little nervous aboutbeing with you andpleasing you." The heat in Isabella's face hit nuclear but she found herself giggling quietly. Peter saw her smiling face and couldn't help but join her. "Pathetic, right?" he asked in between coughs of laughter. "Not at all," she answered as she calmed herself. "It's sensitive andsexy." Peter's eyes widened slightly at her words and dammit all to hell his hard on was back with a vengeance. "Sexy?" he asked with raised eyebrows. Isabella nodded. "But I know what you mean," she said softly. "It's beena while for me tooand I think thatmaybe we should take things slowly?" She asked it as a question because, had he been an ass to her suggestion she knew that the niceties would come to an abrupt halt. But of course he wasn't an ass. Instead he smiled and lifted her hand to his mouth He planted a soft kiss on her knuckle and nodded. "Slowly works for me," he agreed. He was surprised at the honesty behind his own statement. He wanted this woman on a level he had never encountered but if she wanted to take things slow he would do it. "Good." Isabella pulled the handle the car door. "Goodnight Peter." "Goodnight Isabella." He watched as she climbed out of the car and walked through the doors of her building before she disappeared into the elevators at the back of the lobby. Once she was out of sight he dropped his head back onto the rest of his seat and groaned with a mixture of pleasure and pain. The ache in his cock was still phenomenally prevalent and he shifted from side to side to try and ease it with little success.

"Fuck," he muttered as he started the car and set of towards home a little faster than was legally allowed. He knew that he had promised to take things slowly with Isabella but that sure as shit didn't mean that he couldn't jerk off like hell in the mean time. =PoF= I can't see him. I can never see him but I can feel him near me. Smell him. I can feel his breath on my neck as he begins to speak. "You need me don't you?" "Fuck yes." "Say it." "I need you." "I can't hear you." "I need you, please." "I still can't hear you." "Fuck! I need you! Please!" "Where do you need me?" "Fucking everywhere." "Be. More. Specific." "On me. In me. Over me. Please." "But you think I'm dangerous." Fuck. "Didn't you say that I was dangerous?" "II" "And if I'm dangerous maybe it's better if we didn't do this." I grapple out for him, clawing in desperation. "NO! Oh God, no! II need you!" Fuck, I need to feel him. Please. "You want safe."

"NO!" Oh God just be inside me. "I'm dangerous." "I don't care! I don't fucking care!" "You don't care? You don't want safe?" "NO! I need you. I want you." "How much?" "So much. I ache for you." "You ache?" "Christ you have no idea." "Show me where." I push my hands down my body and gasp as my own fingers meet my clit. He growls and the sound makes my back arch off of the bed. "Fuck, you're so wet for me." "Always." "In that case." I moan as I feel his body crawl over mine and his weight press deliciously onto me. I moan and grab at his broad shoulders. I feel his cock tease my pussy. "Now! I can't wait!" I arch and grind my hips, gasping as he slips the tip of himself into me. Finally. "So tight. So wet." "More." "Do you still ache?" "Yes. More." He pushes further. Finally. Oh. My. God. Finally. His mouth is at my ear. "Peaches."

I freeze for a second before a guttural moan leaves me as he pushes himself all the way inside of me. He fills me. Goddamn does he fill me. Every inch. And with every move his hips make the more my ache disappears. "Dangerous never felt so good, huh?" "So good." "Say it, Peaches." "I" "I need to hear it." "I" "Say it. OUT LOUD!" "Oh God!" "SAY IT!" "Oh fuck, CULLEN!" The sound of the name that she had yelled at the height of her orgasm was still reverberating around the furniture of her bedroom as Isabella shot up out of her bed, her fingers still on her pussy that was soaked and throbbing in the aftermath of her release. She pulled her hands from her panties and grasped her chest that was just about ready to explode. Panting, she looked around herself, confused, dazed and knowing unequivocally that she was totally and utterly fucked. Chapter 14: Light at the End "It's choice-not chance-that determines your destiny." ~ Michellee Jean Nidetch "Fucker!" "Cock!" "Motherfucker!" "Cocksucker!" "Shithead! "Shithouse!" "Bitch!" Cullen paused immediately and stood slowly from his stooped position, halting the basketball by grasping it in one large hand. He pushed his sweat soaked hair from his forehead with the other and

cocked a puzzled eyebrow above narrowed eyes at Emmett who was panting with gritted teeth and red cheeks, eyeing the basketball like a dog with a prime rib steak. Cullen watched him for at least twenty seconds before realisation passed over the big fuck's face and he shrugged his shoulders in confusion. "What the fuck you waiting for?" he growled, standing a little straighter. "Did you just call me bitch?" Cullen asked as he crossed his arms over his chest. Emmett stood to his full height and glared back at him. He sniffed and glanced around at the two other inmates who had been playing the fast paced - almost violent - game of basketball for the past forty minutes, who had both begun to shift uneasily from one foot to another before levelling his stare back at Cullen. "Yeah," he answered, jutting his chin out in defiance. "I did. So fucking what?" Cullen frowned and then smirked. "Just checking," he replied before launching the basketball over Emmett's head to his partner Greg who caught it and threw it, like a goddamn pro, through the hoop, winning the game by two. "COME ON!" Cullen roared with clenched fists as he ran over to Greg and grabbed him roughly around the neck before rubbing his knuckles a little too vigorously over the fucker's head, "MY MAN!" "You fuckin' cheat!" Emmett yelled with a pointed finger. "Youyou fucking cheated!" Cullen laughed and shook his head as he released a relieved Greg. "Losing without dignity or grace is not attractive, McCarty," he commented as he sauntered cockily towards him. "Yeah?" Emmett questioned with his tongue planted in the right side of his mouth. "Well, Cullen, I may not have dignity or grace but I sure as hell have a fist for your face and a foot for your cheating fucking ass." Cullen stopped mid step, caught the glint in Emmett's eye and within seconds was running like a bat out of hell across the court as Emmett lunged his two hundred plus frame in his direction. "Come here you fucking pussy!" Emmett cried as he chased Cullen's skinny ass around the tables and incredulous looking inmates and guards. Cullen panted as he weaved and ducked from the ape's grasp, unable to keep the huge fucking smile off of his face. Emmett the motherfucking loser. Cough. Christ, I need to quit fucking smoking! His overwhelming happiness and smug satisfaction was halted abruptly when he realised that he had nowhere else to go and was facing a brick wall with an equally huge human one gaining quickly on him. Fuck. He spun around to face his pursuer and plead surrender, to feel every inch of air that was in his lungs leave him in a huge gust and a loud strangled groan, as Emmett ploughed hard into him.Ribs! Emmett grabbed him in a head lock before Cullen could even blink or protest and was dragged back, groaning and digging his heels in, to the centre of the yard where even the guards were laughing and jeering at the punk ass that was cursing through an almost crushed wind pipe.

"Emmett," Cullen gasped as he grabbed at the tree trunk forearm that was around his neck. He knew that Emmett would never hurt him but the power that he felt around his neck was humbling to say the very fucking least. "I'm sorry, what?" Emmett asked loudly as he leaned his head closer to Cullen's. "I don't speak 'cheating fucker.' You'll have to speak clearer." Cullen couldn't help but let out a choked bark of a laugh. "Emmett," he pleaded as he gripped his wrist with his long fingers. "Man, please! I'mdammit, fuck, Emmett, I'm sorry!" Emmett smiled and winked at the crowd that had gathered and released the scrawny neck that had been resting comfortably in the crook of his arm. He made sure that Cullen didn't fall or stumble as he did and smirked when Cullen stood up straight, rubbing at his collarbone and right ear. "Cunt," Cullen muttered as the crowd dispersed disappointedly when they realised that it was really all in good fun and that no-one's ass was going to get handed to anyone. Emmett snorted. "Cheat" "Touch," Cullen conceded with a wry smile. "Yo, Miss S!" Emmett suddenly boomed, making Cullen jump and roll his eyes. He turned around to see Peaches, looking beautiful as always, walking from her car - half hidden by a huge bag - towards the main entrance, waving discreetly towards Emmett who was doing the complete opposite of discreet with his arms and hands. Cullen let the right side of his mouth rise in a small smile in her direction and frowned gently when she dropped her head and scurried on her way. Shit. Cullen couldn't help but rub his stomach slightly as a twinge ofsomething made its presence known. It had happened a few times just recently. Emmett sighed and dropped his arms to his side. "What was that about?" he asked when he noticed Cullen's face. It almost looked as though the fucker had been chewing the shit out of a damn lemon. Cullen shrugged in response. "You got me," he answered nonchalantly with a little more concern in his voice than he really wanted Emmett to notice. He looked up to see Emmett staring at him, waiting for an explanation. Cullen exhaled and rubbed his face before waking over to their regular seat and pulling out the cigarette he had snagged from Greg's pocket as they had tussled. He lit his smoke, inhaled, held it and then exhaled with a shake of his head. "She's been weird for a couple of weeks," he confessed, nodding towards the car lot. "Miss Swan?" Emmett clarified to which Cullen nodded and passed the smoke over to him. Cullen had tried to ignore Peaches' behaviour but it had been getting progressively harder with each session that they had together. It had started not long after the initial parole meeting with Charlotte. She had come into the session room, barely looking or speaking to him for the entire hour that they had together. Strangely, Cullen hadn't pushed the issue, sensing that it was something that he maybe didn't want to know about. "Do you think it has something to do with your parole?" Emmett asked as he passed the cigarette back.

Cullen swallowed and once again feigned indifference with a shrug, even though the truth was that he was petrified that that was the reason behind herdistancefrom him. Maybe she was regretting agreeing to tutor him outside of the facility? Maybe she wanted to pull out but didn't know how to? Cullen was no stranger to being let down but fuck, could Peaches really be like that? He had mulled the possibilities over and over but had been unable to verbalise them to her. What if she answered with what he thought she would? He hated the feeling of powerlessness that she brought to him. It wasn't even the thought of not being granted parole even though that would suck fat fucking ass- it was more to do with the fact that he wouldn't have a legitimate reason to see his Peaches outside of Arthur Kill. He cleared his throat and blew the smoke down his nose in a huff of annoyance, knowing that the circle he was going in, inside his head, would not change one fucking iota until he said something to her. "Just ask her, Cullen," Emmett offered, as he looked out towards the fields at the back of the facility. Cullen snorted and shook his head. If only it was that fucking easy, "Yeah sure, Emmett." Emmett looked at him. He looked seriously fucking troubled. Emmett wasn't stupid and had heard some whispers of something around the cells about Cullen and the delectable Miss Swan but he had never been one for idle gossip so had stayed his ass the hell out of that shit. Seeing the face of the motherfucker next to him now however, there may have been some truth to the 'Beauty and the Social Beast' label that had been doing the rounds. He clicked his tongue in Cullen's direction, garnering his attention and smirked. "Pussy," he murmured. Fact. "What the fuck ever," Cullen retorted, dragging the last of the smoke for all it was worth into his lungs before blowing it into Emmett's smug bitch face, "Loser." There the fucker is. Emmett's booming laughter lifted the moment and his palm slamming into Cullen's back in jest ensured his determination to confront her that very afternoon. But, fuck it all to fucking Satan's fucking orgy party - because that's where Cullen's ass was winding up - if she wasn't wearing the sexiest grey pencil skirt and white silk blouse when she walked into the session room five hours later, making all the coherent thoughts and blood in his head run in one very specific direction on his body. And, fuck me sideways, I can see her bra. Again. Her ass was resplendent and her legs? Fuck. Three words came to his mind when he looked at themhips or neckbecause those were the only two places on his own body that Cullen could ever think of them being wrapped around. And cue cock twitch. It annoyed Cullen to the depths of forever and beyond that he was still unable to control his desire around her. Yes, she was beautiful and sexy as all hell but that was hardly a new fucking development. He had even tried to curtail the self loving in an attempt to stop sexualising her in his own mind but fuck it, she didn't fucking help matters! Her clothes, her hair, her face, her sass, all of it just made him want her more. At this point it would be really fucking helpful if she would just wake up looking and acting entirely fucking different.

No. No, he didn't want that shit. He exhaled and mumbled something profane under his breath as Isabella dropped the resources and Cullen's smokes onto the table between them. "Something wrong?" she asked with a quick glance in his direction. Your ass, legs, face Cullen chuckled into his hands and shook his head, "Nothing at all, Miss Swan." He waved his hand at her. "Carry on." She frowned at him for a moment, curious as to his seeming frustration about something, but couldn't help but feel slightly relieved that he wasn't looking directly at her. Ever since she had hadthedream and the subsequent one after it andumthe one after that one she had been officially in hell. They were a damn sight better than the nightmares that she hadn't had in the two weeks since the dirty ones had started but shit in many ways they were just as worse! How the hell could she have such erotic, sexy, mind blowing dream sex with a man that she had known for a little over two months? And what the hell was she going to do about the fact that she was to continue seeing him for at least another nine months potentially outside of the guarded, well monitored, keep-your-hands-to-yourself-and-we'll get-along-fine environment of Arthur Kill? Not that she would ever dream of putting herself or Cullen in a position such as that. No fucking way. She was still his tutor and he was her student. She was in a trusted position and she wouldn't jeopardise what she had worked so hard to build. Yes, he was a very attractive man and the danger element wassomething that all women gravitated to but she wasn't stupid. It would only ever be the dream version of Edward Cullen that entered her or her bed at night. She felt her cheeks blush scarlet at that thought and tried her damnedest to hide her face in the bag that was in front of her. Cullen cupped his face in his hands and watched her almost bury herself inside the Mary Poppins freak show bag that she had brought with her. He sighed and reached out for the smokes that she had brought, asking for a light from the guard who was looking equally concerned that the tiny brunette was going to end up ass over tit inside the cavernous monstrosity in front of her. "Peaches," Cullen muttered around the filter of the smoke that was resting on his bottom lip. His name for her had stuck well and he used it fairly liberally. Deep down he was fucking stoked that she let him get away with it without questioning how or why. "Mmhm?" came the mumbled reply from the dark depths. "What the fuck are you doing?" Isabella froze and sighed as she rose slowly from the bag and gave a small, embarrassed smile, "Justum, looking for something." Cullen smirked. "What, Jimmy Hoffa's neck tie?" He snorted and raised his eyebrows at the guard who hid his laugh behind his right hand. Isabella narrowed her eyes at the two of them and huffed in annoyance. "No, smart ass," she responded icily. I was hiding my red cherry cheeks from you

She pulled out her chair that was next to him as she now did every session and laid Cullen's work out in front of the two of them. She took a deep breath before explaining the comments that she had given him and asking questions that had been raised in his answers. They were still very much involved in 'The Merchant of Venice,' which had surprised Isabella. She had been convinced that Cullen would want to move on from it quickly but he continued to expand his ideas and find new avenues and aspects of the play to discuss with her. Isabella loved their discussions. They still became heated at times, but that was what was fun about them. They argued over Shylock and whether or not he was a sympathetic character for three sessions straight and debated thoroughly whether there were homoerotic undertones of the relationship between Antonio and Bassanio. Cullen had been very much on the yes side of the fence. "Fags," he had murmured petulantly while Isabella had smirked behind a disapproving look. "You say here that the character of Portia is the most intelligent character in the play but you don't explain why," Isabella said as she read over Cullen's work while he watched her tuck her hair behind her ear. Isabella could feel his eyes on her and licked her lips as her throat once again went dry. "Could youumcould you explain?" she stammered as she sat back in her seat, putting some distance between the two of them while averting her stare from his. Cullen couldn't help but get aggravated by the movement. She was fucking doing it again. "Why do you do that?" he blurted before he realised what he was saying. Shit. Isabella looked surprised and confused. "I'm sorry?" You may as well keep going, fuck wit "That," he repeated, pointing at the way she was sitting. "Why did you move away like that?" Cullen suddenly realised that he not only sounded like a petulant teenager but also utterly inappropriate. His eyes widened slightly when after a few seconds she hadn't answered. "Forget it," he murmured as he pulled his work closer towards him. "No," Isabella said firmly as she placed her hand on the same piece of work. Cullen's eyes met hers. They were so beautifully green. "What did you mean, Cullen?" He sighed and mumbled again as he grabbed the pack of smokes and inhaled the smoke deeply after it had been lit. Isabella waited patiently, knowing that, with Cullen, sometimes time was all he needed for him to open up. "Are you wigging out because of my parole?" he snapped through a haze of smoke. His question shocked the hell out of her but he didn't give her time to respond. "Because, truthfully, I would much rather you just be honest with me and tell me now before next week. I mean, fuck, I don't wanna be standing there in front of those smug fuckers all hopeful and shit for you to turn around and say that you ain't gonna see this shit through because ofwhatever." He pulled on the cigarette and watched her face as it changed beautifully from surprise, to annoyance, to a small smile. Isabella blinked at the man in front of her and opened her mouth to speak but nothing came out.

How could he think that she would wig out on him? Hadn't she proved her commitment to his case and parole with all the work that she had been doing with him? And more to the point who the hell in their right mind uses the fucking term wig anyway? "Wigging out?" she questioned with a cocked eyebrow and sly smile. "Did you saywigging out?" Cullen felt his cheeks heat slightly and shifted in her seat, "Yeahso? Don't deflect, Miss Swan." Her smile grew. "Oh, I wouldn't dream of deflecting, Mr Cullen." Yeah, Cullen thought. Sexy. As. Fuck. Her smile lasted for a few seconds before it dropped slightly in worry andguilt? "Why do you think that I wouldn't see this through? What gave you the impression that I didn't want to help you get parole?" Her voice was quiet but firm. She really wanted to know and that scared him a little. He shrugged, feeling a little stupid and a lot hot. "I don't know. Shit, you just seemdifferentlike you're worried about something orfucking nervous. I didn't know whether it was the thought of carrying on with our sessions that had you freaking out." He hid the hurt in his voice well but his eyes defied him as they dropped quickly to the table. He had noticed her distance. He had noticed that she was different with him because of the dreams that he had been having. She suddenly didn't know whether to feel flattered or terrified that he noticed at all. She swallowed down her panic and moved closer to him. "Cullen," she said as reassuringly as she could while fighting the overwhelming feeling inside of her that told her to touch his stubbled jaw to ease him. "I'm here for the long haul. I really want to help you get parole and I want to keep our sessions going." Cullen let his eyes meet hers slowly. She smiled and nodded as further proof that her words were true. "I'm sorry if I have made you doubt that." Cullen's stomach twisted gently again at her apology. He wasn't used to apologies and they made him uncomfortable. He began to shake his head in disagreement of her obvious remorse but she held her hand up. "No, Cullen, I mean it." He watched her as she took a deep breath and moved still closer to him. "I'm sorry if you thought I would let you down. I won't. My word is all I have but I assure you that you can count on it 100%." Isabella was surprised at the fervour of her own words but knew in her heart that she meant every one of them. Pound of flesh or not, she was going to help Cullen and no-one could change that. It took a moment for Cullen to re-find his voice. "OK," he croaked, entirely blown away by her and her promise.

Isabella smiled gently and sat back in her seat, satisfied that he believed her. They both sat quietly for a few moments allowing an unknown atmosphere to settle around them. Even though it was different to what usually surrounded the pair, neither one of them found it uncomfortable. "Are you very nervous about next week?" Isabella asked eventually after watching him put his cigarette out. He shook his head and shrugged one shoulder. "It's not like I haven't done it before." Isabella held her eye roll and nodded. "It's my first time," she offered. Cullen laughed lightly. "You'll do fine," he said with a slight wink. "Just think Portia and you'll be great." "The most intelligent character in 'The Merchant of Venice' as says Cullen." Isabella said, strangely aware of the flirty undertones of her voice. "Well, she did save Shylock," Cullen responded, only half meaning to say that shit out loud. The metaphor was not lost on Isabella. She knew that Cullen saw himself as less because of his life choices much like people saw Shylock as less because of his religion. The comparison was tenuous but to Cullen, Isabella knew, it was very real. "That she did," Isabella agreed quietly as her eyes left his and landed on his work. "If we're talking characters in literature I'm not sure that Portia is the right one for me to be compared to." "Oh no?" Cullen asked as he crossed his arms over his chest, showing the edges of the ink under his tshirt. "Who were you thinking then? The Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland? Hecate from Macbeth?" He clicked his fingers as inspiration hit him. "The Ice Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe?" Isabella ignored his jibes about her being a witch or a homicidal Queen and instead grabbed her pen and began to make a fake shopping list. "No," she deadpanned as she wrote. "But thanks for reminding me what I need from the storeaxe, cauldron and Turkish Delight." Cullen couldn't help but laugh at her as she glared sarcastically at him before throwing the pen at his chest. "OK, OK," he said in between small chuckles that made his whole face light up. "Seriously, who would you choose?" Isabella took a deep breath and began to draw invisible circles on the table with the tip of her index finger. "That's easy," she replied. "I would want to be Walter, the lazy mouse." Cullen look slightly puzzled. "Not a velvteen rabbit or a spider named Charlotte?" Isabella laughed gently and shook her head. "No. The girls at school used to read those but for meit was always Walter." She turned towards Cullen slightly. "Do you know the story?"

He did, vaguely, but Peaches looked so animated that he couldn't help but shake his head in the hopes that she would continue talking about it. "Walter was a very lazy mouse." She began as though she had heard the story so many times she could tell it without turning a page. "He was so lazy that he would never get up for school or go out with his family or play with his friends and soon they all forget about him. His family move away one day while Walter is asleep." Cullen slumped slightly in his chair, finding the sound of her voice lull him into a relaxed and calm place that he hated to admit that he liked a little too much. "He decides to look for his family," Isabella continued. "He meets many creatures on his travels, including frogs who can't read or write. Walter tries to teach them but because he missed so much school through sleep, he can't remember how to." Isabella's face suddenly took on a sad, faraway look that made Cullen sit forward in his seat. "Peaches," he practically whispered. Her eyes slowly came back to the room but they were now tinged with a sadness that made Cullen feel utterly helpless and as a result angry at himself. "My dad" Isabella continued after a moment through a thick throat. "He used to read it to me when I was a little girl." Cullen's heart slammed in his chest and he took in a ragged breath as an image of that night fifteen years ago flashed before his eyes. Holy shit. That was why she said what she did that nightthat's what she saidit was the damn story "Yeah?" he managed to which she nodded in reply. "He used to do the voices andhe made the scary and sad bitsnot so scary and sad." Cullen swallowed hard and folded his arms on the table in front of him, closer still to the woman at his side. "He soundshe sounds like a good guy." A small flicker of a smile crossed her face at his words. "He was," Isabella agreed. "He would say that no matter what the obstacles, if I was determined like Walter, I could do anything I put my mind to." Isabella felt the familiar prick of tears at the back of her eyes and was suddenly mortified that she had said so much and was now on the verge of tears. She coughed and sniffed to hide the emotion and ran both her hands through her hair, desperate to shake off the unwanted feelings of loss. "And did you?" Cullen asked, taking her by surprise. She stopped her movements and nervously laid her hands on her lap. "Did I what?" "Did you do whatever it was you put your mind to no matter what the obstacles?"

Isabella smiled and dipped her chin, looking embarrassed. "I'm here aren't I?" Cullen smiled and nodded. "Yes, you are," he agreed. And thank fuck for that He noticed her eyes go to the wall behind him and cursed under his breath. Times up. Cullen watched - trying to feign indifference but silently mad as hell that she had to go - as she started to pack up her belongings into the Tardis bag and blew smoke out from between his lips while shaking his head in awe. That fucking thing could have sunk the Titanic for fuck's sake. "I might have a look for that book in the prison library, you know," he said casually as she dropped her pens into said bag. "Do you think Arthur Kill library would stock children's literature or is that just wrong on a few levels?" Isabella suppressed a smile. "Shit," he continued, slapping his palm to his forehead. "What the fuck am I talking about? Emmett probably has it hidden under his pillow to read on those cold lonely nights. I'll ask him." At this, Isabella had to laugh out loud for the image of Emmett McCarty sitting in bed reading Walter the lazy mouse was just too funny for words. Cullen smiled too at the sound that echoed around him. He loved watching her smile and laugh. She looked at her most beautiful and least self conscious. "In all seriousness," she said as she pulled her bag onto her shoulder. "If you do find a copywould you let me know? I lost mine." The heartbreak on her face was clear to see, even to the guard who promised himself silently that he would hunt The Strand bookshop high and low that very night. "I will," Cullen answered sincerely. Isabella smiled and turned towards the door. "Hey Cullen," she called as the guard unlocked the door for her. "Yeah?" he called back. "Thanks for today." He smiled to himself and slumped back in his seat as the door closed slowly behind her. "Any time, Peaches," he whispered to the empty room. =PoF= The nervous energy that filled the room that Isabella was standing in a week later was almost visible around her. "It's going to be fine," Garrett said to no-one in particular. Isabella looked at him to see him looking far too calm and collected as did Mr Hughes who simply looked inconvenienced. He kept glancing at

his watch at regular thirty second intervals that annoyed the hell out if Isabella every time. You're being paid you fucking idiot! The door to the room opened suddenly and Charlotte walked in, followed by Mike Newton who had pulled out the pinstripe suit for his day in the spotlight. "Ten minutes," Charlotte said quickly. "How is he?" Isabella asked before she could stop herself. Charlotte smiled. "He's Cullen," she replied as she placed her bag on the chair nearest to her. Isabella smiled back. "His psyche exam was fine as we all knew it would be and his address and employment have already been verified by the board. Because Cullen's sentence was less than four years the speed at which the decision is made is much quicker. None of us may even have to speak, Isabella. It's looking like it'll be a no-brainer." Charlotte nodded in assurance but it didn't do much to settle the carnival that was taking place in Isabella's chest. "OK," Isabella muttered just as her phone buzzed in her jacket pocket. She pulled it out to see a message from Peter. She hadn't seen him since their a-little-too-hot-forwords kiss, as he had been away with work. This had, much to her confusion, relieved Isabella. She wasn't sure how she would react to seeing him after the kiss that had apparently initiated a dream about a sexy inmate and his dirty mouth. She felt her cheeks heat and cleared her throat as she read the text. Happy birthday, Isabella. See you later. Peter. x She smiled and felt her stomach do some sort of odd flip slash lurch as she read the words. And the kiss at the end? That was new. She was going out for dinner with everyone for her birthday and he was obviously invited. She just hoped it wasn't going to be weird. She didn't need any more weird in her life. Weird was in full supply thank you very much. But what if he wanted another kiss? "You alright?" Garrett asked as he sidled up next to her with a small smile, interrupting her inner debate. Isabella pushed her phone back into her pocket and nodded. "Yeah," she answered. "I just hope the board make the right decision today. It would certainly be a nice birthday present." Garrett raised his eyebrows at her. "It's your birthday?" Isabella grimaced slightly at her own verbal vomit and smiled. "Yeah," she answered.

"Well, I that case I hope even more that the result is what we all want." Garrett smiled again and Isabella returned it with a small sigh. There was a knock at the door and a young man of about twenty peeked his head around the edge of it. "The board are ready for you." "Here we go," Charlotte said as she straightened her skirt and held her hand in front of her to allow Isabella to take the lead. The room that they all walked into was nothing like what Isabella had imagined. She had obviously watched far too many episodes of CSI or Law and Order because the room was far too unassuming and plain. The board consisted of five very bored looking individuals who were seated behind a large table that was covered in papers and glasses of water. Cullen was standing, handcuffed, in front of them, shadowed by a guard to his right. She noticed him glance around himself, his eyes seemingly searching for someone or something. Eventually his eyes rested on her and a small smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. Isabella smiled back and wave discreetly with the tips of her fingers to which he nodded in reply. He turned from her, lifting his chin towards the board and took a deep breath. "Could you please state your full name for the record?" A man of about sixty years of age with grey hair and cigarette stained fingers asked as he stared at Cullen. "Edward Anthony Masen Cullen," he replied in a monotone voice. He hated his fucking name "May the record also show that this is Mr Cullen's first parole request and that the dossier has been in hand for two weeks." The man gestured to a stack of papers that were laid out on front of him. "You may all be seated." Everyone took their seats with Charlotte and Mr Hughes seated closest to Cullen. Isabella fisted her hands in her lap and took a deep breath. "Mr Cullen," the man continued. "My name is Roger Fields and I am head of this parole board. In an attempt to decide whether to deny or grant parole, the board have reviewed the details of your crime, your conduct in the facility, witness testimony as well as character references and accounts from your warden Mr Newton, your lawyer Mr Hughes, parole officer, councillor and tutor Miss Isabella Swan." Cullen remained stoic even though his chest seemed to expand at the mention of Isabella and her part in his potential release. Fuck, please say yeslet me out of this place Roger Fields continued, "There are a couple of serious tickets that have been highlighted by Mr Newton that have caused a little bit of apprehension for the board." Cullen held his eye roll and his breath as did the small brunette who was seated twenty feet to his right. "Aggressive behaviour towards the staff of the facility and another inmate, which resulted in his being placed in the clinic for a week. These are obvious causes for concern, Mr Cullen, would you not agree?" Cullen kept his eyes on the man before him, neither moving nor offering any answer.

Roger Fields exhaled, unsurprised and flicked open the folder in front of him. "However, we have also reviewed the testimonies of the people that work closest with you. They suggest that despite your penchant for attitude towards authority you have made progress in terms of your conduct and outlook, post your original release date." Roger Fields glanced over the page before him, adjusting the glasses at the end of his nose. "You have participated in regular anger management counselling, as well as your meetings with Garrett Volture and have more recently taken part in some literature lessons that you have stated that you want to continue should your parole be granted?" "Yes, Sir," Cullen answered through a dry throat. "Is it something you truly want to continue, Mr Cullen?" "Most definitely, Sir," Cullen replied. Roger Fields lifted his eyebrows and nodded. "According to Miss Swan's testimony, you seem to work hard and despite your previous discretions you seem to have pulled your socks up pardon the expression." Roger Fields turned to the woman at his side and whispered something to which she nodded in response. "Your employment and address have both been verified, Mr Cullen," he offered while folding his hands on the desk on front of him. Isabella thought her heart was just about ready to burst from her chest. "As the parole board for the district of New York, case number 202012 we have decided to grant inmate 061901 parole with effect from September 14." Isabella couldn't help but grab Garrett's forearm in relief while she watched Cullen's head drop slightly. She saw the corner of his mouth rise as he closed his eyes. "You will sign a parole licence with the conditions of your parole that you will adhere to for the duration of your parole which is nine months from tomorrow's date with further rehabilitation for a further three. You will continue with your parole meetings on a regular basis, with the option of seeing Mr Volture - which the board suggests you do - as well as your literature sessions with Miss Swan." "Regular drug tests, random home visits and travel stipulations will be in place," Roger Fields added as he read from a sheet of paper in front of him. "As a side note, Mr Cullen," he continued as he removed his glasses from his face. "You have an extraordinary network of people behind you and much of this decision was made due to the words that they have said about you. You have much to thank them for. With that being said, you are clearly an intelligent individual, Edward, who continues to make the wrong decisions when faced with choices. I hope that the board's decision will not be wasted on more wrong decisions, Mr Cullen and that we will not grow to regret our choice." "No, Sir," Cullen responded. "Thank you, Sir." "Good luck, Mr Cullen," Roger Fields concluded before ordering the guard to take Cullen from the room.

Isabella watched disappointedly as the guard walked Cullen through a door at the other side of the room. "It's ok," Garrett said with a wry smile as he looked at her face. "Newton has him in the session room. That's where we're going now." His smile grew as Isabella blushed and started towards the door he was gesturing to. Cullen was pacing the room, biting on the side of his thumb as Isabella, Garrett, Mr Hughes, Charlotte and Mike Newton entered. His face lit momentarily before he dropped his hand from his mouth. "Peaches," he breathed. "Yeah?" "Please, tell me you have some smokes with you?" Isabella blinked quickly at him before snorting with laughter. "Sure," she answered as she pulled the pack from her bag. He smiled back and walked towards her, taking the cigarette that she offered. Their eyes met frequently and shyly. "Congratulations," she offered, not really sure if it was the correct sentiment to use. "Thanks," he replied as he blew smoke down his nose, "Thanks to all of you." He looked at Garrett before turning his gaze to Charlotte. "So, my ass leaves here tomorrow?" Charlotte smiled as Mr Hughes moved to the table in the centre of the room and placed an extremely official document on the top of it. "We need to go through the parole license, Mr Cullen," he said as he pulled a pen from his jacket pocket and sat down with a stern glare. Cullen held his tongue at the old bastard who was clearly trying to piss the fuck all over his parade. Garrett clapped a hand to his shoulder to distract him and smiled. "Well done, Edward," he said. "I knew you could do it." "Thanks, G," he replied with a nod and averted gaze. "I'll see you tomorrow?" "I'll be here with bells on." He walked then, past Isabella and towards the door that was being held by Newton, "Great birthday present, right?" Isabella smiled and nodded before turning back to Cullen who was suddenly looking angry as all hell. "What?" she asked quickly with wide eyes. "It's your fucking birthday?" he growled. Isabella raised her eyebrows in surprise at his tone. "Yes," she replied a little curtly. "Why?" "Why didn't you fucking say anything? I didn't even" he stopped his words quickly, his lips making a slapping sound as he did.

What the fuck could I have done? I couldn't exactly nip out to the store and buy her a fucking birthday cake "There were more important things going on today, Cullen," Isabella countered with a slight eye roll. "Bullshit," he muttered feeling frustrated and weirdly inadequate. "You should have said something." "Well, I have now, so no need to get pissy," Isabella said in jest as she knocked his elbow with her knuckle. "Besides, if you really are upset that I didn't tell you, you can buy me something awesome when you get out of here tomorrow." She smiled and winked gently before walking towards Garrett and the door. She turned to see a small smile playing across his face and sighed in relief that she had managed to calm him. His reaction was not at all what she had expected from him but she was happy that she could make a joke out of it. Why was he so pissed that she hadn't mentioned her birthday? Isabella hated birthdays. Hated. Them. They were simply a reminder that she was getting older as well as an even bigger reminder that her father was still not there with her. It was morbid and selfish to think of it like that but hell, it was her birthday. At least she now had something positive to focus on. Cullen was being released and she had something to do with that. It was a good feeling and she was suddenly looking forward to her birthday party. "Garrett, man," Cullen called just as Isabella slipped out of the door. "Can I speak to you for a minute?" Garrett grinned and moved back into the room. Isabella smiled once more at Cullen for the last time in his prison issue overalls and left to go home. =PoF= "He got parole?" Alice said loudly with a wide smile. Isabella nodded and sipped from her wine glass. "Yeah," she answered. "I honestly thought that the guy was going to deny it butfuck, it was so nerve wracking!" "So, when do your sessions start?" "I don't know," Isabella replied. "I'll find out tomorrow I guess. I've already contacted the library on Fifth and 42nd to reserve the reading room." "Well, that's great news, Bells," Alice said as she lifted her glass. "Isn't it, Jazz?" Alice nudged Jasper who was looking anywhere but at the two women who were talking across the restaurant table. He didn't reply but stood from his seat. "Peter's here," he said quickly as his brother wandered towards the table with much to Isabella's embarrassment a card and a beautifully wrapped present. "Hi guys," he said when he reached them. He shook Jasper's hand and kissed Alice on the cheek before turning to Isabella who looked utterly ravishing in a red dress.

"Happy birthday," he said as he laid the gift in front of her. He leaned down and kissed the side of her mouth gently. The warmth of his lips felt good against hers and Isabella turned her head towards his slightly which made Peter euphoric inside. She glanced down at the gift on the table and sighed. "You didn't have to" "Nonsense," he interrupted her as he placed his jacket on the back of the seat next to her. "Besides, it isn't anything amazing. It was just something that made me think of you when I saw it in San Francisco." Alice bit her lip at the sweetness of her brother-in-law and watched as Isabella's face lit up like July 4th. "Open it, please," Peter said gently, pushing it closer to her. Isabella - feeling all eyes on her - started ripping at the deep purple paper to find a large transparent box which contained what looked like a snow globe. She looked at Peter who smiled lightly and then proceeded to remove the lid and pull the globe out. He twisted it in his hand quickly and set it on the table. Instead of snow flakes falling around the miniature Golden Gate Bridge were millions of small stars and bit of crystal that glittered as it caught the light. "Peter, that's gorgeous," Alice gasped as she watched the globe, transfixed. "It is," Isabella agreed. She looked at Peter and smiled in gratitude. "Thank you." "You're welcome," he replied and moved to kiss her cheek again which he did softly, allowing his lips to linger a little longer than would normally be deemed appropriate. "But why did you think of me when you saw this?" she asked as he pulled away. "Isn't it obvious?" Peter countered with a grin. Isabella pouted slightly and shook her head. Peter laughed. "I thought of you because" he shook the globe again and whispered in her ear. "It sparkles like you do." Isabella's breath stuttered while she swallowed hard at his words. Dammit. Peter's breath was warm against her neck and sent small shivers down her back. He smiled softly and let his index finger run across her wrist. He remembered her words about going slow but he had missed her while he had been travelling. He didn't realise just how much until he had seen her through the restaurant window and immediately thought of the kiss in his car. "Thank you," Isabella repeated with a slight husk to her voice. "My pleasure," Peter replied as he let his eyes take her in. Yeah, he thought wryly, slow is my least favourite fucking word Jamie and Leah arrived a few moments later with presents. It was the first time that Leah had met Peter and her eyes and not so discreet smiles at Isabella told her that she thought he was nice which was confirmed by her comment in the bathroom later that night that he was 'fucking gorgeous.' And Isabella had to agree.

He was once again a pleasure to be around and she decided quickly that she liked it when his finger would graze her arm or his hand would lightly catch the skin of her back as he rested it on the back of her chair. She liked the warm feeling that settled in her stomach when their eyes met and she liked the sound of his laugh and the way he said her name. But there was stillsomething. She was attracted to the guy. Hell, what wasn't there to be attracted to? But a few times she had shifted uncomfortably in her seat because the feeling, that had been so prevalent in Peter's car as they kissed, suddenly made an obscene come back in the middle of her birthday dinner. What the fuck is up with that? It was indefinable but there it was; sitting in her stomach like a damn rock: hard and unmoving. Isabella fought to ignore it and by the time dessert arrived it had lessened but had in no way disappeared. "Are you alright?" Alice asked quietly underneath the banter around the table. Isabella nodded. "Fine," she answered with a smile. And she wasn't lying. Not totally. "Happy birthday, Bells," Jamie offered as they all stood on the sidewalk outside of the restaurant once their dinner had been finished and had been paid for after much argument by Jasper and Peter. He hugged her warmly to his chest and sighed. Isabella squeezed him back. She missed her best friend; even if he was a dickhead. "Come over for dinner," Isabella said with a threatening tone. "I'll make meat balls." Jamie smiled and nodded, "Yes, Ma'am." She kissed Leah who whispered something grotesque about Peter's anatomy and hugged and kissed Jasper and Alice who winked conspiratorially at both Isabella and Peter who laughed and shook his head at his sister-in-laws relentlessness. The couple stood on the sidewalk, neither uncomfortable nor knowing what to do next. "Can I give you a lift?" he asked, pointing towards his car. "Sure," she replied after she had carefully considered the bags she had to carry should she walk the twelve blocks back to her apartment. "Did you enjoy you're trip?" she asked him as he started the engine. He laughed and cocked an eyebrow. "It was work. No matter where you are in the world if you have to work it's never good." Isabella laughed. "I guess." She mused for a quick moment. "I bet it wouldn't be too bad if it wasIndia or the Maldives, the Caribbean?" Peter chuckled as he glanced quickly at her triumphant face, "Touch," he conceded with a dip of his chin. "It was good," he continued. "I thought of you."

Isabella looked down at her hands until the car came to a slow stop. She glanced up at Peter to see him smiling gently at her. "Too fast?" he asked with apologetic eyes. "No," she answered quietly with a slow shake of her head. "Good," he replied in relief. "You look wonderful tonight, Isabella. Your birthday suits you." She ran her hands down her dress and sighed. "Thank you. I had a good day," she said wistfully. It had been a good day. Cullen being granted parole, dinner with friendsPeter. She looked back at the man in question and bit her lip. "It was good to see you, Peter," she said, instantly feeling guilty that she hadn't returned his sentiment. She had thought of him - fleetingly - but for some reason she didn't want to share that with him. "I'm glad," he offered, feeling a slight twinge of panic slither across his chest. Could she be going cold after he had been away for such a short time? Fuck! "Isabella," he said softly. "Would it be ok for us to have dinner next week? I feel that with me being away that maybe we need to have justI don't knowyou and I time? Is that alright?" "That sounds good," she answered without a second thought. It was her choice to make and the damn 'rock feeling' could just get lost somewhere else! There was no need for it! "Great," Peter said eagerly. "How about I call you over the weekend and we'll make arrangements then?" "Sure." Peter grinned and exhaled while Isabella unclipped her seat belt. She looked up at him and before he could say a word she was kissing his lips softly. It was nowhere near the fire of the last one but it was hot enough. She pulled away before there was any chance of his deepening it. But, for Peter, that was fine. He would go at whatever pace she wanted. "Goodnight," Isabella said as she slid back across her seat towards the car door. "Goodnight," Peter answered with a small smile as he once again watched her disappear into the foyer of the apartment building. Isabella was still in a slight state of shock that she had initiated the kiss as she stumbled across the lobby and at first didn't hear Fred on the welcome desk as he called her name. I kissed him. I kissed him. Wow! Screw you, feeling! "Miss Swan!" Fred waved at her to catch her attention before she reached the elevators. "Miss Swan!" Isabella looked up at the bald waving man as it occurred to her that he was talking to her. "Yes, Fred?" she asked as she walked over to him.

"Good evening, Miss Swan, I have a package for you that was delivered earlier this afternoon." He pulled out a square parcel that was wrapped neatly in brown paper, from under the desk. "I didn't catch the man's name but he said it was important to get this to you." Isabella eyed the package carefully. "Thank you, Fred." She climbed into the elevator and once at her floor, made her way sluggishly towards her apartment. She threw everything down on the sofa and kicked off her shoes, immediately in need of sweat pants and apple juice, in whatever order she found them in. In sweat pants, hoodie and with a huge glass of apple juice she seated herself cross-legged on her sofa and switched on the TV. Her cell phone chimed as her recording of American Idol began. She cursed and reached for it from her purse that was situated under the mysterious brown parcel which she placed on her knee as she pressed receive call on her blasted cell. No-one interrupted Simon Cowell! She glanced quickly at the name before putting it to her ear. "Unless this is a very naked Channing Tatum with a hard on he has no idea what to do with I'm hanging up!" "Did you make out?" Leah's voice was excited and high pitched. "With Channing Tatum? Fuck, Girl, I can only dream!" "With Peter you facetious bitch!" Isabella laughed. "That is none of your business, Damon!" "You so did, you slut!" Isabella laughed again. "I did not!" "Liar!" "We didn't make out, Leah." "Was there lip action of any description?" Isabella remained quiet but smiled into the receiver. "I knew it!" She snorted and leaned back against the cushions of her couch. "Goodnight Leah!" "I will get details from you, Swan." Isabella didn't doubt her. "Goodnight Leah." "Goodnight." She threw her phone back at her side and pressed play once more on her remote.

She smiled lightly to herself and Leah's reaction to Peter. He was a great catch, Isabella knew and she was proud of herself that she had made a move on him. Her confusion about the feelings she was having were obviously clear to Peter and for that Isabella was annoyed. Peter was a nice, safe guy and there was no way that she was going to let a stupid rock in her stomach stop her from having something that could, potentially, be incredible. She deserved some happiness. She sighed and reached for her apple juice to hear a light thud come from between her feet. She looked down to see the brown paper square that Fred had given her, looking back her. "What are you?" she asked quietly as she picked it up and slowly but surely began tearing the paper open. The gasp of air that left her when she realised what it was, was loud and unexpected. She stared though tear-filled eyes at the 1987 first edition copy of 'Walter the lazy mouse' that was sitting in her hands. "No wayhow?" She flipped it over and read the familiar blurb before running her fingers reverently over the immaculate illustrations on the front cover. "Oh God." She opened it up and her eyes immediately went to the small message that was scrawled neatly in black on the back of the front cover. Peaches, Here's to achieving anything you put your mind to, no matter what the obstacles. Happy birthday. Cullen. Chapter 15: Freedom "Man is free at the moment he wishes to be." Voltaire Cullen had barely slept. He was pumped, and excited, and much like a small child on Christmas morning. At seven AM, on the morning of his release, he was busy packing up his books and other inconsequential belongings into a pathetically small box with an enthusiasm that garnered perplexed looks from the guards who were just about to end their night shift. Cullen couldn't have given a flying fuck about them however. He had more pressing matters at hand. Like the fact that he was leaving the shit-hole that had been his place of residence for the past eleven months. Fuck yes!

The sheet of paper, that stated that he had officially been granted parole, was now his most treasured possession and - at regular intervals - he would open it up and re-read it, just to make sure that that shit hadn't changed in any way. It hadn't. The wide smile on his face was still present and correct as he entered the food hall for breakfast an hour later. Emmett smirked as Cullen sat down next to him, rolling his eyes at the smug bastard's expression. "If you're here to gloat, you can just fuck off," Emmett said with a small smile and an elbow in Cullen's ribs. Cullen widened his eyes in mock hurt. "Me? Gloat? Would I ever do something so childish and inappropriate?" "Yes!" Emmett replied with a snort which Cullen conceded with a shrug of his shoulders. "What can I say?" he asked as he pushed a forkful of egg into his mouth. "I'm a free assed motherfucker and it feels good!" He elongated the word good and winked at the whole table. "Cock," Emmett muttered with a shake of his head and a suppressed laugh. He sat up straighter and slapped Cullen on the back. "I'm happy for ya. No bullshit." Cullen's cocky demeanour dropped instantly along with his fork and he held his hand out for Emmett which he took and shook firmly. "Thanks man," he said with a dip of his chin. "You make sure you give me a call when you get your own sheet of freedom, right?" "Fuck yeah, Cullen. You're first on my list, brother." Emmett smiled widely. His parole board hearing had been pencilled in for six weeks time. He was hopeful. As he had told his parole officer, he had been a 'well-behaved little car thief.' "Damn straight," Cullen replied with a smile. "There are some hot little V12 engines round my neighbourhood that have your name written all over them." "Cullen," Emmett warned before adding sarcastically, "You're making me hard." Cullen laughed before he slapped Emmett's shoulder. "Take care, man," he said more seriously to which Emmett dipped his head and bumped Cullen's fist. Cullen saluted the rest of the table with both of his middle fingers and a grin - which they all laughed at - before he made his way back to his cell to change and grab his stuff. Cullen's civilian clothes were what he had been brought into the facility wearing eleven months before. Cullen couldn't help but feel smug as shit to see that the grey Ramones t-shirt was now tight across his arms and chest from all the gym work that he had done with Alec. He smiled and shook his head as he pulled at the sleeves to give his biceps a little more room. "I'll be damned," he muttered before he pulled on his dark wash jeans and his black boots. Denim and cheap cotton had never felt so fucking good.

"You nearly ready?" Cullen turned with a smile to see Garrett leaning against the open door of his cell with an equally happy face. "Pretty much," Cullen replied as he fastened his brown leather belt around the waist of his jeans. "When can I go?" Garrett looked at his watch and cocked an eyebrow. "Doors open in ten minutes. We're just waiting on Newton." "Fan-fucking-tastic," Cullen muttered as he looked around his cell to see if he had left anything he shouldn't have. Satisfied that he hadn't, he picked up his box and pulled it to his chest. He exhaled and stretched his neck in impatience. "So," Garrett started with a long sigh as he took a step towards Cullen, while pushing his hands into his pockets. "I delivered your littlegiftto Isabella." Cullen avoided his councillor's gaze for as long as he could. "Great," he replied nonchalantly. "There was enough cash?" Garrett nodded. "More than enough and I wrote exactly what you asked me to." Cullen nodded, feeling his stomach do a goddamn somersault as he thought about Peaches receiving the copy of Walter the Lazy Mouse. He wondered if she liked it. He wondered if she thought it too much or too cheesy. He had no idea. "I have to ask," Garrett continued as he inspected the toe of his right shoe. "What?" Cullen snapped. Shitshitshit. Garrett smiled to himself before looking up at the young man in front of him. They both knew that there was a peach coloured elephant in the room but Garrett didn't want to cause any drama on Cullen's release day. No. What Cullen had had Garrett write on the inside of the book? That shit would be saved for a later date. "I just wanted to know how the hell you managed to find a place that sold the book on such short notice," he finished with wide, innocent eyes and a shrug. Cullen seemed to exhale in relief and shuffled the box closer to his chest. He shrugged. "Peac-she, IsabellaMiss Swan hadumwell, shit, she mentioned it during one of our sessions so Ium, Ilooked it up on the internet in the library. I was going to get it once I was out but when she mentioned that it was her birthday" He glanced up, looking bashful as Garrett caught his eye. "It's not a big fucking deal, man, stop looking at me like that." Garrett watched as Cullen shifted from one foot to the other, looking altogether uncomfortable as all fuck. And he was. Garrett quickly held his palms up in surrender. "Hey, I didn't say a word. I thought it was a great gift: very thoughtful." Cullen eyed him warily, "Really?"

"Really," Garrett replied honestly with a sharp nod. "I bet she really liked it." Cullen's stomach twisted again. He fucking hoped so. It was the least he could do for her after all that she had done and put up with from him. "Inmate 061901," Newton called as he sauntered into the doorway of Cullen's cell. He smiled tightly at both of the men and cleared his throat as though the thought of Cullen leaving his facility was literally hard to fucking swallow. "I'm here to escort you off the premises," he finished as he pulled at the cuffs of the white shirt he was wearing under a dark navy blazer. "Goodie," Cullen murmured with a sardonic glare at Newton. It didn't escape his attention that Garrett was smirking behind his right hand. Cullen followed Newton, a guard and Garrett towards the back entrance of the facility, where he signed one more release form and received yet another copy of his parole conditions. "How many of these does one person fucking need?" he asked incredulously as he pushed the piece of paper into the depths of his box that was resting on the front desk. "Well," Newton retorted with a tight lipped smile while he clicked the top of his pen. "We all know how forgetful you can be when it comes to rules, Cullen." Cullen picked up his box and glared daggers at his warden. "It was a rhetorical question, dick wad." Newton's eyes widened in anger, "What did-...?" Garrett stepped in between the two men quickly. "Come on now, Edward," he almost pleaded, "Time to go." He pushed gently on Cullen's right shoulder, guiding him towards the exit. Cullen kept his stare on Mike Newton for as long as humanly possible before he allowed Garrett to walk him to the door. Later bitch The sun was hot even at just after nine in the morning and once the door was opened and they stepped into the car lot, Cullen immediately closed his eyes and lifted his face to it. He took a deep breath and sighed. "That shit good?" Garrett chuckled at his side. "Fuck yeah," Cullen answered. He opened his eyes slowly and began rummaging in his box. It took him a few minutes of cursing and muttering before he found his shades and placed them onto his face. "Now I'm fucking ready," he said with a wide smile at his councillor. Garrett laughed and rubbed his chin. He looked across the very far side of the lot to see a familiar, large, black haired figure leaning arrogantly against the front passenger door of a very hot vehicle, smoking a cigarette. Garrett exhaled and shook his head minutely in exasperation. "Is that Jake?" he asked quietly with a nod in Black's direction.

"Don't start," Cullen warned with a lowered chin and raised eyebrows. "He's here to pick me up because I sure as shit ain't walking home." Garrett scoffed and slammed his hands to his hips. "Well, it's a definite conflict of interest to have Jacob Black come and pick you up when he's the damn reason" "Look!" Cullen stopped Garrett's tirade dead in its tracks; his voice louder than he maybe initially intended. "This is my release day. I'm finally free of this fuck awful place and I'm currently in a good fucking mood. Please, don't piss on my parade with your holier than thou bullshit, G. I've had my fill." Cullen's voice was firm but there was an underlying tone that was almost pleading with Garrett not to ruin his moment. Garrett sighed and raised his eyebrows in understanding. As much as he detested Jake Black he didn't want Edward to leave the facility with there being bad blood between them. "Fine," he answered without moving his mouth, "Fine." "Ok," Cullen countered before clearing his throat at the awkwardness. "So, I'll see you Friday?" "Yeah," Garrett replied, "Your place at six. Don't forget." He waggled his finger in mocking of Newton's words. Cullen smirked and shook his head. "Like that's even possible with the six fucking pieces of paper I have to remind me." Garrett laughed lightly. He raised his hand timidly and patted Edward on his shoulder. "Take care, Edward." "Sure," Cullen replied, holding his box higher up his chest. "I'll see ya." With one last smile he began walking towards Jake. The motherfucker was grinning like an idiot that Cullen couldn't help but return. "What's up fucker?" Jake drawled around a plume of smoke that wafted from his mouth. Cullen smiled and shrugged. "Not much; just released from prison, ya know." Jake smirked, "Same old, same old, huh?" "You know it." Cullen placed his box on the hood of the car and shook Jake's hand before they hugged with a slap of the back. "It's good to see your ugly ass face," he said as he took the smoke Jake was offering. "Yeah, same, dude. Was that Volture?" Cullen nodded as he flipped open his lighter and leaned against the car next to Jake as he inhaled slowly. "Giving you shit?" Cullen nodded again.

"Well, hell, bro, at least that shit is over with." Jake slapped Cullen's back, hard. "Yeah," Cullen answered as he blew smoke down his nose. He fucking hoped so. "Cullen!" The two men looked up to see a small brunette walking and waving hesitantly across the car lot towards them. "Who the fuck is that?" Jake asked as he pulled his own shades down until they were resting at the edge of his nose. "Umno-one," Cullen answered quickly. "Hold this a minute." He handed Jake his half smoked cigarette and began jogging between the cars over to his Peaches. He didn't need Jake standing ogling her while they spoke. That shit was just unnecessary. "Hey," he breathed as he came to a stand still in front of her. She looked incredible as always and even better with the sun shining on her hair. Fuck, I need a fucking testosterone shot or something "Hey," Isabella replied, trying her hardest not to notice how tight Cullen's t-shirt was or how low his jeans were on his hips. "I'm sorry," she began, glancing behind him towards the tall, dark skinned man. "I, umI know you probably want to get going butum" she stuttered and shifted from one foot to the other. She had been planning what she wanted to say to him from the minute that she had opened the amazing present that he had given to her for her birthday, but now that he was standing in front of her- with mirrored Ray Bans on - all thought and reason seemed to seep slowly from her brain. Dammit. "It's no problem," Cullen replied as he pulled the shades off and tucked them in the neck of his t-shirt. "What's up?" She smiled and coughed out a laugh as she clenched her right knuckles in her left hand, making them crack. "Ium, wellI got your present, the giftshit, the book and II just wanted toI just wanted to say thank you. It was" She bit her lip hard as the same wave of emotion that came every time she thought about the story crashed over her. "Did you like it?" Cullen asked nervously as he slipped the tips of his fingers into the pockets of his jeans. Isabella's eyes widened slightly. "Like it?" she repeated with a slow shake of her head. "II loved it. It was perfect and extremely thoughtful. Thank you." Cullen suddenly felt very uncomfortable and rocked back on his heels slightly. "Well, you knowyou, umyou said you had lost yours andwell, now you have one." Yeah, way to state the fucking obvious, you fucking idiot. He closed his eyes briefly and shook his head at his dumb ass remark.

"Yeah," Isabella repeated quietly. "Anyway thank you again. I read some last night andit was wonderful." Cullen couldn't help but smile slightly wider at the expression on her face. She looked so happy andpeaceful. "Good. You're welcome, Peaches," he said just as quietly. Isabella smiled back. "I also wanted to give you this." She reached into her pocket and pulled out a small card that was covered in numbers. "Our first session is scheduled for Monday at four at the library on 47th." "Yeah, I got the memo," he answered with a wry smile and a roll of his eyes. Isabella laughed nervously. What the fuck is wrong with me? "YeahI, umwell, here is my cell number and mymy home number in case, well, in case you can't make it or you're gonna be late orwhatever." She waved her hand dismissively. "I don't knowbut I just thoughtyou should have some way of being able to contact me so" She handed Cullen the card as though it were a live grenade and stepped back from him. Cullen watched her face carefully. Was she blushing? "Yeah, that's a damn good idea. Thanks," he said as evenly as he could before he pushed the card into the back pocket of his jeans. "So," Isabella continued as she slapped her palms gently against the tops of her thighs. "I'll see you then?" "Sure," he answered with a nod. Her apparent flustering made him equally unsettled. He had never seen her sonot together. It was unnerving but cute as fuck. "Good," she added as she took another step back from him. "I'll let you get going. Have a good weekend." He saluted with two lazy fingers at his temple. "You too," he replied as he watched her smile bashfully and then turn and walk quickly back towards the facility. Once she was through the door and out of sight, he ran his hands through his too long hair and exhaled. "Fuck," he muttered under his breath. Whatever had just happened was completely bizarre. Peaches was normally so in control. He relied on her control to keep himself calm and grounded. Their sessions would sure as shit not work if they continued to behave that way with each other. It was worse than fucking junior high. Maybe the whole tutoring thing was going to be an utter bust. He sighed in annoyance and put his shades back on. Jake was still grinning like a goddamn Cheshire cat as Cullen walked back towards the car. "Something you wanna share?" he asked with a wiggle of his eyebrows.

"No," Cullen snapped back. He suddenly realised how protective he sounded and laughed quickly to try and hide his inexplicable annoyance at his friend's innuendo. "No," he repeated softly with a hand through his hair. "I mean, she's just a Lit tutor, that's all." "Tutor, huh?" Jake asked as he glanced back at the door that Miss Lit tutor had disappeared through. "Well, fuck, she could tutor me any time with that ass." Cullen held his tongue and smiled tightly while keeping his eyes on the handle of the car door. "Really, I hadn't noticed." Jake snorted, laughed loudly and pulled his car keys from his pocket. "That settles it, brother. We need to get your ass fucking laid." This, Cullen had to laugh at and agree with wholeheartedly. He needed to get his dick wet and relax: clear his mind of all this bullshit. He was a free man and he was ready to enjoy every minute of it. =PoF= Cullen had never ever been a home bird. He had, for much of his teens - and before he was so well versed in the laws of New York State - been shifted quickly and frustratingly from one wretched place to another. If it wasn't from one boarding school to another equally pretentious and boring as fuck boarding school, he would - usually after coming to blows with his father - crash on friend's sofas or floors. He was used to not feeling comfortable staying in one place. That's just the way his life was: unsettled. So he was more than a little surprised when he was hit with an overwhelming sense of relief as he pushed the key into the lock of his loft apartment on the corner of Greenwich and Jay in the Tribeca district of New York. He pushed the door open and took a moment just to allow the smells of the place to wash over him before he felt Jake nudge his back gently. "You planning on going in there?" he said with a smirk. "Yeah. Sorry, man," Cullen muttered as he took a step into the apartment and closed the door behind Jake who was carrying his box of shit. Cullen threw his keys onto the small table that was placed by his front door and stood surveying the place that he had walked out of almost a year before. It hadn't changed at all and it smelled and felt just the same. Jake had arranged a cleaner to visit once a week, while Cullen was inside, to clean and make sure that everything was just so. Jake was more than aware of Cullen's OCD tendencies but also wanted to do something for his friend while he did his time. Jake placed the box on the top of the breakfast bar and sighed. "The place looks good, right?" Cullen smiled and nodded. "Yeah, it does. Thanks." "Hey, no problem," he held his hands up before moving quickly around to the large double stainless steel fridge.

He opened it to show a plethora of alcohol. "Surprise," he said with a chuckle. "Just for you my friend," he added as he pulled out two bottles of beer and handed one to an amused looking Cullen. "To your freedom," Jake said solemnly as the necks of their beers touched and they both took a giant gulp. Cullen had never been happier that alcohol was not prohibited as part of his parole conditions; especially at eleven in the morning. He belched loudly in appreciation and grinned at Jake. "I fucking needed that." The pair laughed and Jake spared no time in retrieving another two. "So, Cullen, free man extraordinaire, what's the plan for the rest of the day?" Cullen sipped his second beer thoughtfully and looked around him self again, seemingly surprised to find that he was standing in his own apartment with his best friend and a cold beer in his hand. "Well, I need a goddamn shower," he said as he lifted his left arm up and smelled his pit, "A hair cut and a good fucking sleep in my own huge ass bed." Jake rolled his eyes and snorted. "And who said rock and roll was fucking dead?" he deadpanned. "Jesus, Cullen, is that the best you can come up with?" "No," he shook his head and his face became serious. "I want to see my baby." Jake smiled with the left side of his mouth and nodded slowly. "Is she ok?" Cullen asked quietly. "Have you looked after her?" "She's fucking beautiful and yes, I looked after her as if she were my own." Cullen placed his bottle of beer down on the breakfast bar. "Take me to her," he said earnestly. He followed Jake as he left the apartment and proceeded to almost gallop down the stairs of the building towards the private garage that was situated in its belly. Jake flicked a switch which flooded the space with light and Cullen gasped when he saw his pride and joy; looking so fucking spectacular she took his breath away. "Well hello, beautiful," he whispered as he slowly walked towards his baby. He held his breath as he reached out and let the tips of his fingers touch the leather seat of the Harley Davidson Sportster and swallowed hard as he grasped the handle bars. It had been too fucking long. Jake whistled and as Cullen turned, he threw the Harley's keys at him which he caught against his chest. "She looks fucking awesome, Jake. Thank you." "No problem," Jake replied with a wide smile. "She's had an oil change and a polish. I did it myself of course; I wouldn't let those fucking greasy pawed dogs at the body shop anywhere near her as much as Paul fucking whined."

Cullen laughed and brushed his knuckles across the engine as reverently as he was able. He hadn't realised up until that moment just how much he had missed riding his bike. His Kala. He was immediately struck with the luscious image of his Peaches straddling his bike with her knees tight against his own ribs as they rode to the coast; holding onto him with her small hands as he pushed the bike hard and fast. Fuck, yes. He discreetly adjusted himself and stood from his crouched position at the side of Kala, once more letting his hands glide over her metal. "I'll see your fine ass later," he promised her before he walked back over to Jake and back up the stairs of the building. "Ok, man, well I have things to see and people to do," Jake smiled as he stood at Cullen's apartment door. "I'll be back later with food and pussy." Cullen rolled his eyes playfully, garnering a thump against his left arm. "About seven ok?" Jake asked with a knowing smile. If there were two things that Edward Cullen couldn't resist it was food and women. Sometimes together. "Sounds good," Cullen answered. He held out his hand for Jake which he took. They looked at each other for a moment, a silent understanding passing between the two men. "It is good to have ya home, man," Jake muttered as he released Cullen's hand. "See ya later." Cullen watched Jake disappear down the stairs and walked back into his apartment. He closed the door and leaned against it with a loud sigh while rubbing his palms down his face. He couldn't decide how he was feeling at that moment. He couldn't deny how fucking good it felt to be home but at the same time he also felt slightly redundant. What was he to do? He pushed himself off of the door and grabbed his box from the breakfast bar. He threw himself and the box onto his chocolate leather couch and pulled the lid off of it. It was mostly books that he pulled out, many that had helped him escape from the shit hole just with a turn of each page. He stopped when he came to his copy of 'The Merchant of Venice' and smiled. Without his permission his mind instantly went to Peaches: wondering what she was doing at that moment. He glanced at the clock on the wall ah, she would be in class with Emmett and company. He was at once struck with a weird feeling in his stomach as he thought of missing out on her teachings and passion. He frowned down at the text in his hands in confusion and threw it back in the box. "Get a grip you fucking idiot," he murmured angrily at himself before he pulled another beer from the fridge and made his way to his bedroom and the en suite. It wasn't like he wouldn't have Peaches all to him self come Monday evening anyway; lucky motherfucker that he was. He stripped of his clothes and made his was way into the shower, smiling contentedly at the three power shower heads that started thrusting water against his body hard enough to make his skin move. It sure beat the hell out of Arthur Kill's shitty fucking amenities. He realised quickly that he didn't have anything in the bathroom other than a bar of soap that he began rubbing over himself in an attempt to wash all remnants of the past eleven months from his body and mind. And yet, even as he tried to clear his mind, it continued to return to a small, sassy brunette. He grumbled an expletive as his cock hardened once again.

He had tried his damnedest to stop jerking off to images of his Peaches not least because it was almost fucking impossible to whack off in a prison cell without worrying about some pervy bastard seeing. But he also didn't want to sexualise Peaches that way. He snorted loudly and listened to it echo off the white and black tiles of the bathroom walls. As he'd come to understand, trying not to sexualise Isabella Swan was kinda like trying to braid fog: utterly pointless. She was the sexiest fucking creature he had ever seen and, whether she knew it or not, he couldn't help but let his imagination place her in certain situationsand positions. Right now, she was standing in his shower, naked and ready for him. He immediately grasped his cock and began moving his hand along it, gripping tightly and twisting his wrist as he reached the tip. His head dropped back and he made sure he remained upright with his other palm against the shower wall. She would drop to her knees and take him in his mouth. Fuck, yeah she would know how to work her mouth on a cock. Sucking, licking and grasping his balls in her small hands. Her big, brown eyes would look up at him as she hollowed out her cheeks and she would hum around his shaft. "Jesus," he hissed as his cock twitched in his palm at the thought. As was always the case when Cullen jerked off with Peaches in mind, he managed to last all of two fucking minutes. He thumped his fist against the wall and groaned as he came in four long streams that disappeared down the plug hole and left him gasping for breath. He stood under the hot water for a couple more moments, allowing it to relax his body further before hitting the water off and wrapping a towel around his waist. Once dressed in a pair of dark jeans and his Beastie Boys 'Get off my Dick' t-shirt, he grabbed his wallet from his bedside drawer, checking the cash that he had left inside it and made his way out of his apartment. As much as he wanted to take Kala for a spin, he decided to walk, wanting to feel the freedom that was now his. He walked the few blocks to the subway and then headed uptown to the barbers that he had used since he was a smaller version of the dickhead that he currently was. "Well, if it isn't Master Cullen!" A bellowing accented voice exploded around the room as Culen closed the door behind him. Cullen smiled at George the owner of Franco's Barbers and held out his hand which the large Italian took in his giant paw. "It's good to see you my boy. How are you?" "I'm good, George, how about yourself?" Cullen asked as he removed his shades and his jacket and took a seat in his favourite spot next to the window of the shop. "Business is good, I'm still married to the most beautiful woman in the world and my heart is still beating hard. I am one happy man." George grinned widely at Cullen in the mirror on the wall and after wiping his hands and serving the one customer that was standing and waiting patiently he clapped his hands onto Cullen's shoulders. "What can I do for you today?" Cullen grimaced as he ran his fingers through the fucking monstrous chaos that adorned his head. "I need you to work your clipper magic on this shit, George." George laughed and pulled out the clippers in question along with a black comb.

"Short back and sides and a trim on top?" he asked as he squirted water across Cullen's hair. "Perfecto," Cullen answered as he shifted in his seat to get comfortable. "Your father was in here a few days ago," George said as he began moving the clippers up the back of Cullen's neck. Cullen remained quiet but took a deep breath. "He never mentioned that you were back in the area." Yeah, and why the fuck would he? "I just got back today," Cullen answered instead. He glanced at George in the mirror, "Business trip, you know how it is." George smiled and nodded his head. Yes, he knew exactly what kind of 'business trip' Cullen was talking about. Once Cullen was successfully shorn and had paid George and promised to see him again soon, he made his way to the nearest phone shop where he bought a new iPhone. He had had one before he was put inside but it had met a cruel but swift death over the side of the Brooklyn Bridge one night before his arrest. There had been way too many items and contacts on that phone for it to have fallen into any law abiding hands. Fuck that shit. Once he had bought some of the more mundane items for his apartment including shower gel he made his way back to his apartment, feeling more content and a little more comfortable in his own skin. He wasted no time in hooking his new phone up to his laptop and making sure that it was ready to go. He was so busy loading a shit load of songs onto the fucking thing that he almost didn't notice the light that was flashing on his answering machine. "Goddamn it Jake," he muttered to himself as he walked over to it and pressed play. The fucker was always leaving random messages on his machine. It was kinda his thing. "You have three new messagesfirst messageUm, Edward, it's um, it's your Dad, I know you were released today, Garret called and I just wanted to-" Cullen slammed his hand down on the delete button and growled deep in his chest as something sharp and uncomfortable twisted right in its centre. He grabbed his pack of cigarettes out of his jeans pocket and lit one, inhaling that shit for all it was worth. Fucking Garrett. "Second messageYo, Cullen, my man, you're out getting some tail already? That's my motherfucker. We'll be over later. Jake said seven. See you then." Cullen exhaled his smoke and allowed himself to smile. Ben was another of Cullen's close friends. It would be good to see him. "Third messageEdward, its Jasper. I heard that you got out today which is, umgreat andwell, I know you didn't want to talk about it but the papers really need signing so if you can-" "Fuck you," Cullen snapped as he once again punched the delete button. He didn't need that dick on his case on his first day out.

He threw the end of his smoke into the ashtray on the table next to his laptop and dropped onto the sofa with his forearm tight across his eyes. He'd been out a total of he checked his watch six fucking hours and already it had started. Hearing from his father was one thing but dammit did Jasper really have to call so fucking soon? Give a guy a chance to breathe for fuck's sake! He looked down at his phone that was still loading music and quickly set an alarm on it for six. He needed to sleep and to just forget everything for a few sweet hours. He took a deep breath and stared up at the tall cream ceiling. It wasn't long before sleep rescued him. =PoF= At five minutes before seven and just as Cullen was pushing the last of the books that he had taken from Arthur Kill on his bookshelf in alphabetical order no less the door to his apartment was suddenly being beaten to within an inch of its life. "Hold the fuck on," he called as he unlocked it and opened it to find at least fifteen people, headed by Jake, standing smiling at him with crates, kegs and bottles of alcohol. "There he is," Jake called with a wide smile as Cullen left the door open to allow everyone to enter. He received handshakes from the guys and kisses and hugs from the women, some of which he knew well some in the Biblical sense and some that he knew he should recognise but really fucking didn't. Music was put on and everyone eased into the party at Cullen's place, just like old times. Ben arrived with another group of fifteen or so bodies and practically dry humped Cullen in his own quirky way. "Its good to fucking see you!" Ben cried as he embraced him once again. He was slightly high and Cullen couldn't help but feel slightly fucking jealous. Jake noticed Cullen's expression and hesitantly pulled out a small bag of powder from his jeans pocket. Cullen looked at it resting in his friend's palm and, after the fleeting desire to grab it and run had rushed through him, shook his head minutely. "I can't man," he said as he sipped his beer in frustration. "You know the bastards will be calling me for a test next week." Jake nodded and put the bag back away for safe keeping. "My bad, man." "It's ok. Thanks for the offer. I could do with some of that shit believe me." The smell of pot that was wafting around his apartment was enough to drive him crazy by itself. Jake watched as Cullen rolled his neck and finished his drink. He knew there was something else up from the tapping of his foot to the way he wasn't even giving the shit hot red head who was eye fucking the life out of him the time of day. "My fucking father called," Cullen blurted out as he slammed the empty bottle on the side. Ah, so that's what's up. Jake didn't react but simply nodded. There was never anything to say in terms of Cullen's relationship with his father. It was strained at best and Jake had learned long ago that it was just best to let Cullen vent as much as possible. Advice was never a good idea and was always returned with venom.

"I don't even know why he fucking bothers," Cullen added as he pulled out another beer. "Did you speak to him?" Jake asked tentatively to which Cullen shook his head. "He left a message on the machine." "Delete it?" "Yeah." Jake reached behind himself and pulled out two shot glasses which he proceeded to fill with tequila. "Well, hell, man I think that shit deserves a drink." Cullen laughed sarcastically but was at once touched by his friend's way of taking his mind off the shit which was exactly what he needed. They touched glasses and slammed their shots back, wincing and grimacing as the tequila travelled to their stomachs. "Where's mine?" Cullen turned to see Siobhan, curling herself against Jake. She was hot as fuck always had been and he knew that Jake had been hitting it for a while. He knew it wasn't just Siobhan's looks that Jake gravitated to. Although it had been a long time ago, and it had only happened once, Cullen knew that Siobhan had some skills in the bedroom department. "How are you, Cullen?" she purred as she placed a gentle kiss on his cheek. "I'm good, Siobhan. You're looking well." He let his eyes wander down her and winked when his gaze met hers. "Not too bad yourself," she replied as she did the same thing. "Have you met my friends?" He turned to see a small blonde and leggy brunette with drinks in their hands and smiles on their faces. "This is Emily and Rebecca," Siobhan continued as she pointed from one to the other. Emily flicked her blonde hair over her shoulder before holding her hand out for Cullen to shake. "Nice to meet you," he said as he shook her hand and smiled at her in a way he knew would make her panties knot between her legs. "Likewise I'm sure," she answered before she sucked on the straw that was placed in her glass. Cullen smirked at the overtly sexual gesture but couldn't deny that his cock was suddenly eager to get in on the straw sucking action. He was male after all. The foursome stood, drank and smoked. The anecdotes about past nights out started in earnest and Cullen found him self relaxing more and more. It felt good to have his friends around him. This is what he had missed most when he had been inside.

When Emily leaned into his side he didn't mind it. In fact he almost welcomed it. It had been a long time since he had been with a woman and he missed the sensations and sounds that happened during a good fuck. She was hot too and had a mouth that he had no doubt would look fantastic wrapped around his dick; especially with the sparkling juicy shit she kept putting on it. He pushed his hand behind her and let the tips of his fingers dance across the bare skin above her tight black jeans. She was soft, of course and he at once imagined what her skin felt like all over her body. He smiled down at her when she pushed her hand into the back pocket of his jeans and squeezed his ass. She frowned momentarily and pulled out a small card that Cullen had forgotten about. He snatched it from her and pushed it into his front pocket. "Sorry," she whispered in his ear. "I didn't mean to snoop." "No problem," he said quickly as he stood up from leaning against her. "Excuse me a minute." He left his bottle on the side and walked towards his bedroom. Everyone knew that his room was out of bounds during their get-togethers so he didn't stop to knock or wait in case there were naked bodies which of course there weren't. Damn good job too. He pulled the card back out of his pocket as well as his phone and placed him self at the edge of his bed. It took him all of two seconds to decide to do what he had thought about the minute that Emily had found the card with Peaches number. It wasn't too late to text her. It was barely midnight and it was Friday night after all. Fuck it. Hey. It's Cullen. This is my cell number. I thought you might need it. Just in case. He read it a couple of times, wondering if it sounded right not that he knew what the fuck would sound wrong - before he typed in her cell number and pressed send. (He saved her number, under the name Peaches, naturally.) He tapped the phone against his knuckles and sighed. He wasn't sure why he felt the way he did about texting his Peaches. She had given him her number, it was only right that she should have his too. He had to quit with the over analysing shit, he was driving him self crazy. The sound of his cell beeping with an incoming text frightened the shit out of him. He laughed at him self and looked at the phone. Peaches. Thanks that was nice of you. It's good to know I have a way of contacting you. Just in case. Cullen smiled. The beer in his system made him feel brave. No worries. As long as you know you can't use this for any booty calls and/or sexting. I don't do that shit. He pressed send wondering whether she would appreciate the joke or not. Shit, maybe she would be really offended.

"Fuck," he muttered as he began writing out another text. His thumbs paused as his phone beeped again. Peaches. Dammit. Well, it's a good job you told me. I wouldn't want to make you uncomfortable or anything. He laughed lightly and shook his head. She appreciated it. Of course she did. No problem. I'm glad we cleared that up. Me too. Otherwise it may have been really embarrassing. Have a good weekend. See you Monday. You too. He waited a couple of minutes but she didn't reply. He pushed the phone back in his pocket and let himself fall back onto his bed with a loud grunt. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply. What was it going to be like being with her outside of the prison? He had no idea but he did know that he was looking forward to it maybe more than he should have been. The knock at his bedroom door was too light to be Jake. "Yeah?" Cullen called as he looked towards it. Emily popped her head around the side of the door and smiled when she saw that he was on the bed, his t-shirt riding up his stomach just slightly. Cullen smiled back as his pants grew tight. "I'm sorry if I'm interrupting but I wondered if you wanted somecompany?" She said the word company in a way that meant so much more. "Company sounds fucking great," he said as he motioned for her to come in the room with his index finger. He tried like hell to keep the expression on his face as neutral as he could when Rebecca walked in slowly behind her and closed and locked his bedroom door. Well, fuck. "What do they say about three's a crowd?" he said evenly as he lifted himself up onto his forearms. "I have no idea," Emily said as she grazed her hands slowly over Rebecca's ass while keeping her eyes on Cullen. Sweet Jesus. "Me either," Cullen croaked. He pointed at Rebecca. "You. Take your panties off and sit over there." He directed her to a large chair that was in the corner of the room facing his bed. There was a momentary pause where the two girls debated silently what to do but all three of them knew what they were there for. Eventually Rebecca smiled sexily before she pushed up her skirt and did what he had asked. Once she was sitting he turned his attention back to Emily. "Take your clothes off but leave your panties on."

Her eyes widened at his directness but fuck if it wasn't sexy as hell, just like he was. She pulled her t-shirt over her head and Cullen swallowed hard when he saw she was wearing no bra. Her tits were nice. He'd seen better but shit they would do after eleven months in the lock up. She unfastened her jeans and stepped out of them, leaving her wearing nothing but a pair of short type panties that showed the bottom of her ass. And it was a nice fucking ass. "Come here," he ordered. She walked over to him and stood between his legs. "Take mine off." He gestured to his jeans and cocked an eyebrow when she hesitated slightly. She bent down and began undoing his belt. He lifted his hips from the bed as she pulled them off and threw them to the side. He smiled when she licked her lips at the tent he was pitching in his boxers. "If you see it, you have to kiss it," he said deeply. It hadn't escaped his attention that Rebecca was almost craning her neck from her seat in the corner to see what she was missing. "That's what I want," Emily said breathily. "In that case, its all yours," he replied. He lifted again as she pulled down his boxers and bit his tongue when she all but gasped at what she found. He was well endowed, and he was in no way modest about knowing what to do with what he had been given. He knew how to fuck good and it was a rare occurrence for a woman to leave his bed unsatisfied. However, tonight he didn't want to give, he wanted to take and the woman before him was nothing but fucking willing. She knelt down before him while she stroked a finger up the underside of his cock making him take a deep breath and he watched anxiously as her lush lips connected softly with the tip. He was just about to tell her to do more when after a minute she did exactly that. She sucked him and twisted her tongue around him. His head fell back as she did it again. "That's it," he hissed. "Fuck, that's it." Cullen looked over at Rebecca and smiled. "You like watching?" he asked. She nodded with her eyes trained on her friend as her head bobbed up and down along his dick. "Does it make you wet?" he asked as he looked down between her legs. She nodded again and without any further instruction placed her fingers on her pussy and began moving them slowly. "Shit," he murmured as he watched her.

His eyes became hooded and for a brief moment the brunette sitting fingering her self looked a little like another brunette that he would fucking love to see fingering herself. Holy fuck. He moaned at the thought. The girl on his cock took his noise as encouragement and began to suck harder and deeper. Cullen looked down at her and smiled. She was loving it. Her blue eyes were wide and fixed on his as her tongue began to work its magic up and down his shaft. "You like sucking cock?" he asked becoming slightly breathless. She hummed in response and the girl in the corner moaned along with her. He gripped the side of her head and guided her a little faster. His orgasm was sitting on the periphery of his stomach and he needed it to start moving quicker. "Touch yourself," he gasped as his dick touched the back of her throat. She moaned around him as she pushed her hand into her panties. "That's it. You filthy girl." She moaned again. What was it with these girls a fucking dirty talk? He looked over once more at the brunette whose mouth was now wide open while her hand stroked herself as if her life depended on it. He narrowed his eyes again as he watched her. Yeah, he could see her. Peaches. Fuck, she would look so fucking good touching her self like that. His cock twitched and he groaned. He began to thrust his hips into the blonde's mouth and thanked fuck that her gag reflex was above normal. He needed to cum. Fucking Christ he needed to cum. "Harder," he gasped through gritted teeth. "Suck my cock harder." His words obviously did the trick for the brunette as she cried out and began bucking her hips against the two fingers that were buried deep inside herself. "Yeah," Cullen moaned as he watched. Peaches, would cum so hard for him. "Fuck yeah." He would make her scream so loud, "Fucking shit!" He groaned loudly as he came in the blonde's throat in three long hot streams that she swallowed like a fucking champ. She came as he did, gasping and moaning around his twitching dick It wasn't the hardest orgasm he had ever had but shit it felt good to finally have someone else participating. He dropped back on the bed and took a couple of deep breaths. He smiled and chuckled when he heard the two girls suddenly start giggling. "Well, ladies," he said as he sat up and reached for his jeans with a wiggle of his eyebrows. "I have to say that wasthat was the best company I've had for a while." They giggled more. He reached down and grabbed Rebecca's panties off of the floor. He walked over to her and leaned down placing a soft kiss on her cheek as he put them in her lap. "Thanks for the show," he said with an arrogant smirk. "Thank you," she replied as she stroked her hand down his chest.

He stood up and watched as the blonde sauntered over to him and reached up to kiss his lips. He turned his face at the last moment and slapped her ass making her yelp. "You have one killer mouth, sweetheart," he murmured at the side of her neck. He grinned as she shivered against him. He fastened his jeans and then his belt before clapping his hands together. "What do you two say to some more tequila?" They both smiled widely and nodded. He turned and unlocked his door. "I'll get on that while you two dirty girls get dressed." He winked at them and walked out of his room to a few whistles and cheers which he answered with his middle fingers. Yeah, he thought with a smile. Freedom, right then, was fucking good. Chapter 16: Lines in the Sand Security is when everything is settled. When nothing can happen to you. Security is the denial of life.Germaine Greer Renee Swan was a complex woman. Many who didn't know her personally considered her aloof, arrogant and somewhat standoffish but no one, not even those who disliked her, could deny her strength. When her husband - Senator Charles Swan - had been ruthlessly murdered by seven thugs high on whatever it was they had managed to take that fateful night, she had remained stoic, calm and strong while in the public domain. She received offers of condolence from voters, strangers and many of her husband's colleagues with a smile and a nod of thanks. Everyone marveled at her strength and togetherness after such a terrible loss. But inside, deep down where no one could see, Renee Swan had been dying. Inside herself she felt as though her entire heart had been ripped from her chest leaving only a gaping hole that could not be filled by words of sympathy or touches from loved ones. Charles Swan had been her everything. He was everything to Renee and when she was told that her husband had died; beaten so violently that his brain had bled causing a massive stroke, she had contemplated taking her own life just to be with him: An easy, selfish and desperate way out. That was at her lowest point. How could she possible go on living when the only man she had ever loved; ever been intimate with was no longer at her side? It was a question that for so long had no rational or easy answer. For weeks after his death and the resulting state funeral and services that took place, Renee took to the bed that she had shared with her husband - her Charlie - and cried. She had screamed, shouted, thrown things, hit things, hit herself and still the pain remained. The hole was wide and deep and nothing could staunch the flow of grief that poured from it every time her eyes opened and she realized that Charlie was still dead. Nothing of course, except her daughter.

Her little Isabella, who had witnessed the murder of her precious father, who was silent and pale and desperate for her own mother to give her words that, would pull her from the grief that was consuming her so entirely. Renee knew that she had been selfish in her own sorrow. She knew that her little girl needed her and by Christ she needed her too, but the harsh truth was, was that Renee could barely look at her darling Isabella, without seeing her husband, in everything that she did. Every movement, mannerism, look that her daughter gave was so much her husband that, for a long time, Renee could only spend small amounts of time in her company. DNA, it seemed, was as cruel as it was fascinating. It broke Renee's already ruptured heart further and contributed in Isabella's belief that her Mommy blamed her for the death of her hero worshipped Daddy. She should have stopped those bad men. If that stranger hadn't been there she may have been able to. The anguished 'what-if's' of a nine year old girl who wanted nothing more than to see her father walk through the door with a pack of Oreo's that the two of them would finish along with a pint of milk in front of the TV. He only ate the middle part which was fine with Isabella who lived for the cookie part. After counsel from professionals and family, Renee slowly began to realize what she was doing to her own child. And it hurt. She was devastated when she heard Isabella's thoughts about Renee's blame and the fact that all she wanted was her mother to hold her. Once the guilt and acceptance for her actions tapered, Renee realized how lucky she was that she still had her daughter at all and that no matter how much she tried to ignore the horrendous image; she had come close to losing her too. She would be forever grateful for whatever divine intervention occurred for keeping her baby safe. She had a beautiful, brown haired, wide eyed, living, breathing connection to her cherished husband and she would always treasure and protect that, no matter what the cost, for the rest of her life. Renee's life mission however had been difficult. As well as looking just like her father, Isabella had inherited his determined pigheadedness. She was stubborn to a fault and once decided on something she could never be swayed. Renee couldn't hide her utter dismay and panic when her daughter had called to tell her that she was taking a job in a prison, and the argument that followed it was the worst they had ever had. Renee knew that in her attempts at keeping her - now fully grown - daughter safe was bordering on smothering, but dammit, did she not see the risk that she was taking? Every time that the two women had seen each other since Isabella's decision to work at Arthur Kill, there had been an underlying tension between the two of them, with Isabella refusing to back down or listen to reason. As much as it pained Renee to see her daughter dismiss her worries so easily, she couldn't help but take comfort in the spirit of her husband that shone from their daughter. No matter how much sleep she lost over her daughter's choices, she knew that wherever Charlie was that he would have been so proud of his Bells. "Mom, you look like your suffering from trapped gas," Isabella pointed out as she took a sip from her glass of wine. "What's up?" Leah, who was sitting at Isabella's side on Renee's large suede couch, giggled into her own glass as she saw the daggers shoot from Renee's eyes. "I was just thinking, Isabella. No need to be crude."

Isabella smiled at her mother who couldn't help but smile a little back in return. It was Friday night and as was tradition once a month - while Phil was at his poker game - Isabella stayed the night at her mom's. She had invited Leah to keep the conversation light. As much as Isabella loved her mother, the conversation could at times become slightly terse. Leah's verbose nature was a sure fire way of assuring that didn't happen. "So, Leah," Renee said as she tucked her legs underneath herself while cradling her own wine glass. "How's work?" Isabella sat and listened to her friend tell her mother all about her job, and how she was enjoying life in the property development fast lane. She knew that her own career would be given a wide berth and honestly, that shit was fine with her. She didn't want to explain herself again and defend her choices AGAIN. The conversation was boring and unnecessary. "And how is Jamie? I haven't seen him in a while," Renee asked softly. Leah shrugged her shoulders and rolled her eyes. "He's all loved up so none of us ever see him nowadays." Renee's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "Loved up?" she repeated as she glanced at Isabella. "But I thought thatwell, I thought" Isabella laughed and shook her head at her mother's stammering. She knew exactly what she had thought. "Jamie and I are friends, Mom, nothing more. I know you and his mom had already bought outfits for the wedding you both hoped for but no. Sorry." Leah laughed again at Renee's slightly disappointed expression. "Well, you can't blame me for trying. He is a handsome young man from such a good family and the two of you were always so close." Isabella immediately glared at Leah so that nothing stupid came out of her friend's lax mouth. It would just be Isabella's luck that Leah would mention something about just how close she and Jamie had gotten when they were younger. Leah smiled mischievously into her glass but didn't say anything more. "I know you're desperate for grandkids, Mom, but can we hold off just a little longer?" Isabella said with a smile. Renee laughed lightly. "Oh, Darling, as much as I would love grandchildren, I just want you to be happy and with someone who will look after you and love you." "Someone like Peter," Leah blurted out, shielding herself quickly with her elbow as Isabella launched a cushion at her. "Bitch," Isabella hissed with narrowed eyes that only made Leah laugh more. "Peter?" Renee asked with a grin. "Who's Peter? Isabella?" Isabella groaned and rubbed her hand across her forehead. She really didn't want to have this conversation, least of all with her own mother.

"Peter Whitlock, thirty-two, CEO of WCS Communications, tall, sandy blonde hair with an ass that won't quit," Leah continued. Renee couldn't help but giggle at her daughter's face as it suddenly turned a deep shade of puce. "Leah Damon, learn when to shut the fuck up!" Isabella cried with open, incredulous arms. "Isabella Marie!" Renee chastised with wide eyes. "What?" "Language!" "Well," she grumbled like a five year old as she shrank back into the sofa clutching her wine like a life line. "Oh, come on, Bells. He is a great looking guy and he's really sweet," Leah said as she nudged her friend's knee before describing the present that he had bought Isabella for her birthday to Renee, in finite detail. "Is he yourboyfriend?" Renee asked tentatively. "Yes." "No." Leah and Isabella spoke at the same time. Isabella took a deep breath wile narrowing her eyes at her best friend. "He's just a friend, Mom. He wants more and I'm dealing with that." "Teasing the poor guy to death more like," Leah laughed. "Ok, seriously," Isabella warned with a pointed finger. "I will kill you." She was only half joking because the truth was that she knew that she had been teasing Peter a little and she was embarrassed by it. She never behaved that way with men. They had shared one heated kiss and another chaste but equally stomach warming one. There was a connection there for sure and Isabella did like him. She just wasn't sure what it was that she was waiting for. There was hesitancy a damn rock in her stomach - that continually appeared when she was with him and it annoyed her more than she let on. Why couldn't things be easy? Why couldn't things be natural? She'd had a natural, easy relationship with Jamie and every other man that she came into contact with, romantically or other wise. Isabella's brain was suddenly accosted by a vision of bronze hair and deep green eyes, wrapped in a tight t-shirt and low riding jeans. Fuck. Why did it have to be the Ramones? She fuckingloved the Ramones. All she wanted to do was thank him for the amazingly thoughtful birthday present that he had given her and she had ended up stammering like a fucking idiot. It was a train wreck. Yeah, that wasn't easy or natural. She swallowed her wine down quickly as she tried to focus back on what her mother was saying. "Well, I'm sure that he's lovely, Bells," Renee offered nonchalantly but secretly excited that her daughter was in fact dating. "When are you seeing him again?"

Isabella cleared her throat and avoided her mother's gaze. "Tomorrow," she answered as she tucked her hair behind her ears. "He'sum he's cooking me dinner." Renee and Leah exchanged knowing swooning glances that Isabella did her best to ignore. "A man that can cook is a man you want to keep," Renee said with a small smile that both warmed and clenched at Isabella's heart. Her dad had loved to cook. Phil did too. Maybe that was why her mother loved him? No. She loved him for many more reasons than that. Renee no longer felt guilty about thinking of Charlie now that she had Phil in her life. She loved Phil very much but she would also never stop loving her husband. She had never married Phil even after seven years of being together - and that was fine for the two of them. They were together, partners and, as just to prove what a great man he was, Phil never pushed the issue. He loved her and being with her was enough. He never felt as though he was living in a dead man's shadow but he also knew that there was a part of Renee's heart that, no matter how much he wanted it, would never belong to him. Two bottles of wine and a DVD later and Renee, who was feeling a little squiffy, excused herself to bed. "Goodnight," she whispered as she hugged her daughter to her chest at the bottom of the stairs. "Goodnight," Isabella answered with a smile as she breathed in her mother's scent. "I love you," Renee said quietly into Isabella's neck. Isabella held her a little tighter. "I love you too, Mom," she replied. "And I only want what's best for you." "I know," Isabella answered as she rubbed her palm gently across her mother's shoulder blades. "But I'm fine." She stepped back, holding Renee's hands. "I'm great, really." She leaned in and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "Ok, Bells," Renee murmured as she tapped her thumb against her daughter's chin. "Goodnight Leah," she called before she turned and made her way to bed. Isabella exhaled loudly and dropped into the chair that her mother had been sitting in and began twirling the diamond earring in her right ear that her mother and Phil had given her for her birthday. "She ok?" Leah asked as she gestured with the wine bottle towards Isabella's half empty glass. "Yeah," she replied as she nodded for more alcohol. "I just think she's had a couple too many glasses." Leah skimmed the pad of her thumb around the rim of her glass and stole a quick look at her friend.

"Do you think she's thinking about theanniversary?" Isabella kept her eyes on the TV screen as she took a small sip of her drink. "I don't know," she answered quietly, "Maybe." She knew that her mother would of course be thinking about the anniversary of her father's death. How could she not? It was four weeks away and was drifting ever closer like a black storm cloud on the horizon. Sixteen years this year. Isabella sighed and ran a hand through her hair. Could it really be that long ago since she had seen or touched or heard her father? It seemed to have gone by in a blink: A painfully sad blink. Leah cursed herself for the morose expression that now adorned her best friend's face. Think Leah, think. "Ok," she said loudly as inspiration hit her, making Isabella jump slightly. "Phil still has his Playstation, right?" Isabella furrowed her brow in confusion at the conversation shift. "Yeah, I think so." "Ok, you and me, Swan. American Idol!" Isabella groaned. "Leah!" "No! No excuses. You and me, let's go. Every bum note and you drink some." She clapped her hands and wiggled her hips like a puppy waiting for a ball to be thrown. Isabella couldn't help but laugh. "Fine," she surrendered with a smile. "But I am not doing Whitney!" Of course, she ended up doing Whitney and bummed every second note. If the prize was given for effort however, Isabella would have won fair and square. An hour later and at almost midnight the two women were standing on the couch, singing The Killers 'Mr. Brightside' at the top of their lungs. It was just fortunate that the house was big enough that they didn't disturb Renee and that she had no close neighbors to wake. They collapsed onto the couch as the last note ended in a tangle of limbs and a cacophony of laughter. It felt so good to laugh, Isabella thought to herself as she watched Leah pour the last of the wine into their glasses. "So, are you gonna bone Peter tomorrow, or what?" Leah asked with a completely straight face. "Leah!" Isabella groaned as she reached for her glass at the same time that her cell phone vibrated in her pocket. "Bone? That is an insanely disturbing and exceedingly personal question and the answer is, of course, no comment." "Boning Peter is disturbing?" she snorted incredulously. "No comment," Isabella muttered with a small smile as she looked at her cell.

"You are so gonna bone," Leah sniggered into her glass. "OH!" Isabella was more than a little surprised to see a text message from an unknown number that once she had read the text apparently belonged to one Edward Cullen. Holy shit "What?" Leah asked. "Who is it? Is it Peter?" She clambered over to Isabella's side and frowned when she saw just a cell number and no name above the text. "It'sum, it's" Isabella looked up at her fiend then back down at the phone in her hand. "It's Cullen." "The inmate guy?" Leah asked with a wary tone. "How the fuck did some criminal get your number?" Isabella rolled her eyes. "I gave it to him you ass in case he needed to get hold of me regarding our sessions! And he isn't just some 'inmate guy'he was released today." Leah eyed her friend carefully. Even through a haze of red wine she could see something different in the way Isabella's face relaxed and looked brighter as she began answering the text. She exhaled down her nose and watched. She raised her eyebrows when a large smile covered Isabella's face and a light blush covered her cheeks. "Oh, hell, no, Isabella!" she cried with a slap of her palms to her thighs. "You cannot have the hots for your criminal student!" Isabella's head snapped up to her friends. "I don't have the hots for him! For God's sake, Leah, grow up." "Oh no?" Leah asked with a sarcastic smirk. "So what's with the blush and the girly giggling shit?" Isabella's finger tips went immediately to her cheeks. Sure enough they were warm. But fuck that could have been the wine! Maybe? "Red wine," Isabella muttered with a shrug. "Bullshit," Leah retorted. Isabella sent her last message back to Cullen and threw her phone back on the table. "Ok," she snapped. "Explain, why is it bullshit?" Her tone was firm and defensive indicating to Leah that she had clearly hit a nerve. "It's bullshit because you're my best friend and I know how you operate." Isabella dropped her chin to her chest. She couldn't argue with that and the wine was making it impossible to even try. Her phone buzzed once more. A text. From Cullen. You too.

Isabella felt the smile before it had even appeared across her face as she read it. She heard Leah sigh at the side of her. Yeah, Isabella knew she was in dangerous and shitty territory. "Bells, talk to me?" Leah said softly. "There's nothing to say," Isabella replied with her eyes on the phone in her hand. "I think there is," Leah persisted as she crossed her arms over her chest. It was Isabella's turn to sigh and be honest with her friend. And herself. "It's just a small crush, Leah," she said quietly. There, she had admitted it. She had a crush on Edward Cullen. "Fuck," she added as she rubbed her forehead as Leah's unnatural silence continued. "What else do you want me to say?" Leah shook her head. "I don't want you to say anything, sweetie. I just need to know that you understand the consequences of-" "I know," Isabella interrupted with an exasperated tone and an equally pissed hand through her hair. "I'm not stupid, Leah. I know where the lines are and I will not cross them." "Ok," Leah said with a slow nod of her head. She felt slightly comforted by the fervor in Isabella's words. "Ok." "I'll get over it," Isabella said more to herself than to the concerned girl at her side. "It'sit's stupid, I know and dangerous andfucking stupid." She lifted her glass and necked the last of the wine within it. It was so fucking stupid and not simply because she was the teacher and he was her student (how clich). Edward Cullen was from a different world. He was different species to her and not because of his criminal past, although that was definitely a factor. He was angry and arrogant, aggressive, violent and cocky. He was everything that she should run away, screaming from. But, she couldn't deny that he was equally, intelligent, sensitive, caring, funny and beautiful. He is so fucking beautiful Leah snuggled closer to Isabella's side and hugged her gently. "Bad boy syndrome," she said with a smile that Isabella returned. "Can I ask you something?" Leah hedged gently. Isabella scoffed, "Why the hell not?" "Is thishe is he why you getdefensivewhen we talk about Peter?" Isabella sat for a moment, allowing Leah's words to sink slowly into her brain. Was Cullen why she couldn't allow herself to have an easy and natural relationship with Peter?

Was he why she felt a rock in her stomach every time she tried to move her relationship with him forward? Fuck. She really was fucking stupid. She took a deep breath and looked at Leah who needed no words to confirm her suspicions. Leah simply hugged her friend and let the revelation rest into her bones. Maybe it was the wine? Maybe it was the fact that she had been thinking about her father's anniversary? Or maybe it was the fact that Cullen had given her the most thoughtful, most precious gift she had ever received in the form of the book, 'Walter the Lazy Mouse'? Whatever the reason, the tears began falling slowly from Isabella's eyes. She cried silently into Leah's shoulder for a long while until her eyes were dry and her resolve was set. She sat up slowly, wiping her nose on her sleeve, and looked at Leah determinedly. "Ok. Enough is enough," she said as she rubbed her palms down her now blotchy face. "I need to grow up and stop acting like a fucking teenager with their first damn crush." Leah smiled at the almost truth of Isabella's words. "I'm a professional for fuck's sake!" She poked her index finger into her chest. "Yes, you are," Leah countered with a supportive fist pump in the air. "I need to get a fucking grip, stop swooning after a guy that is a complete fantasy and would be no fucking good for me and focus on what is real and what would be." Leah smiled wider and nodded. "That's my girl," she said as she tucked Isabella's hair behind her ear. "So, what's the plan of action, Swanface?" Isabella laughed and stood from the sofa. "The plan of action is to get my ass to bed because I have a date tomorrow night and I need to look fucking spectacular!" =PoF= Nineteen hours later and Isabella wasn't feeling as inspired or determined as she might have been had she had two bottle of red wine inside her. She was nervous, anxious and had rung the door bell of Peter's brownstone twice and he still hadn't answered. She glanced down at her watch. He definitely said seven and it was five after. She adjusted the strap on her left shoulder and clasped her clutch bag to her chest. "What do I do?" she muttered as she looked up and down the quiet street trying to find the answer to her problem. Cell phone. Call him. She was just about to open her bag when there was a shuffling and a bang from the other side of the door before it opened to show a very flustered but exceedingly handsome looking Peter Whitlock.

"Shit, I'm sorry, darlin'," he gasped as he shook his head. "I'm so sorry. I was blending some tomatoes and oil and the fucking thing slipped and went everywhere and I had to change my clothes and wash the shit out of my hair and" He stopped his rant as Isabella started giggling. He looked at her and smiled. She was fucking gorgeous. He couldn't help but laugh with her. "Good evening, Isabella," he said after taking a deep breath and standing up straight. "You look amazing. Would you like to come in?" He opened the door wide and gestured with his hand towards the entryway. "If you dare," he laughed. Isabella laughed behind her hand and nodded. "I'd love to," she managed and stepped into the house. It was stunning. Deep mahogany floors with cream and light green on the walls gave it a homey feel. It had benefited from the touches of a feminine hand but the tone was essentially masculine. "Please, come through," Peter said as he directed Isabella towards the back of the house towards the kitchen where his epic culinary disaster had taken place. "This place is beautiful, Peter," she said as she took in the steel and wood around her. It was a huge space and she at once thought about cooking in it herself. "Thank you," Peter replied as he pulled a bottle of white wine from the fridge. "My ex-wife wasn't much of a cook but I love it. So, I got first dibs." He smiled at her and gestured with the bottle towards her, making sure it was what she liked. "Please," she answered in reference to the wine as she placed her bag onto the island in the centre of the kitchen. "I love to cook too," she confessed. "Really?" Peter asked as he popped the cork from the bottle. "Yeah," she continued with a small laugh. "I'm not very good at it but I always think that I'll get points for trying." Peter laughed back and nodded. He picked up the two full glasses and walked towards her. He handed her, her glass and chinked his against it. "To you," he said softly. "Thank you." She watched as he took a sip of his drink and let her eyes wander down his body. He was wearing a loose fitting dark brown button down shirt with a white t-shirt that poked from under the second button that was undone. He had on a pair of black jeans and his feet were bare. He noticed where she was looking and shifted in embarrassment at his naked toes. "Sorry," he said before he cleared his throat. "The sauce went fucking everywhere. I may not be able to wear those socks again." Isabella laughed again. "It's fine. You should be comfortable in your own home."

"Well, I want my guests to be too, so, feel free to take off your shoes or whatever." Peter snapped his mouth shut quickly when he realized what he had said. Shit. "I didn't mean that the way it sounded, Isabella, shit," he said with a grimace. "Oh? That's a shame," Isabella answered immediately as she sipped from her glass, keeping her eyes on the floor and his wiggling feet. Peter swallowed hard and his eyes widened. Well, damn. "Why don't Ium, take you on a tour of the house?" he said as he placed his glass on the side. "Sounds great," Isabella answered, finally meeting his gaze. She was feeling slightly better, calmer and definitely perkier and the rock was nowhere to be seen praise Jesus! Peter placed his hand at the small of her back and Isabella found that she liked it. He led her through to the living room where there were many pictures of Peter's son Henry gracing both the walls and the shelves. She took her time to look at them closely. They were mostly in black and white and the ones she liked best were the ones that had both Henry and Peter in them. Peter watched enraptured as Isabella wandered around the room. Her hair was up and he decided quickly that he loved the curve of her neck and the shape of her upper back. He allowed himself to wonder what her skin would taste like there. "He's very much like you," Isabella said as she replaced one particular picture of Peter and his son back on the table it was seated on. Peter smiled and pushed his hands into his pockets. "He's a lot like his mother too," he said with a sigh. "Hot tempered and argumentative. But the good looks he gets from me, sure." Isabella smiled at the softness of his tone and followed Peter up the stairs where he showed her the huge bathroom and four bedrooms that lay there. Once back in the kitchen and with a replenished glass of wine and a seat, it was Isabella's turn to watch Peter, as he began preparing their meal. She watched him as he moved gracefully and confidently from one side of the room to the other, never missing a beat in the conversation and always asking questions about her: Her favorite holidays and why, her fondest memories of school. He asked about her friends and her mom and what gifts they had given her for her birthday. He was genuinely interested and it made Isabella feel warm inside. She stood and walked over to the side where he was neatly cutting up a stick of celery on the chopping board. "Can I help?" she asked as she watched him. He smiled and shook his head. "No, Isabella. Please, relax. It'll be ready in around twenty minutes. Is that ok?" He looked up at her from his chopping and instantly their eyes met. She noticed his eyes drop to her mouth and bit her lower lip in nervous response. Peter blinked and placed the knife down before wiping his hands on the towel that he had thrown over his shoulder as he worked. He turned to face Isabella and cleared his throat.

"Have I told you how incredible you look tonight?" he asked quietly as he looked down at her dress once more. It was sexy and seductive in an utterly implicit way which simply exacerbated the effect a million times over. "Yes," Isabella answered as she leaned back against the granite work top as Peter took a slow, cautious step towards her. He didn't want to frighten the beautiful creature he had in his house. He stood in front of her and placed his hands lightly on her shoulders. "Is this ok?" he asked to which Isabella nodded. He moved his hands gently to cup her small face. His palms were soft against her skin as his thumbs ghosted over the apples of her cheeks. She found herself leaning into his hold which Peter was ecstatic about. "Isabella," he all but croaked. "May I kiss you?" Isabella unconsciously licked her lips before replying, "Yes." Peter smiled a little as his stomach twisted at her words and leaned down; keeping his eyes on hers, as their lips gently touched. Isabella closed her eyes and breathed down her nose as the warmth of his mouth settled into her skin. The kiss started innocent enough, slight pressure and softness, before Isabella opened her mouth slightly, eliciting a small moan from Peter. He deepened the kiss instantly, hopelessly aware that he had to follow her lead. She had told him that she wanted to take it slow and he was more than willing but Christ he wanted her. Isabella moved her hands to Peter's neck and pulled him closer until he was pressing her against the kitchen top. He was ridiculously hard and he shifted his hips away from her so that he wasn't making a point of it as much as he fucking wanted to. Isabella felt him move and without thinking, pushed her hips out towards him to feel what she knew he was hiding. This time they both moaned as his cock rubbed against her stomach. The kiss suddenly became much more heated. Peter pushed his tongue into Isabella's mouth and licked and sucked, leaving her breathless and very hot. She gripped the hair at the nape of his neck and gave as good as she got with the kiss, nipping at his lips and tongue while rubbing up against him like a cat. Peter's hands traveled down her back to her ass which he squeezed and massaged with the tips of his fingers, hitching her dress up as he did. Isabella moaned into his mouth, feeling the heat pool between her legs as he did it again. Fuck that's hot "Is that good? Do you like that?" Peter gasped between kisses to which Isabella groaned and nodded in response, never breaking the connection their lips had made. At the sound Peter bent his knees slightly so that he could grab Isabella's thigh and pulled it up to his waist, holding her with his chest so that she remained steady. He let his hand wander up the bare skin of the underside of her leg, smiling as he felt goose flesh all over. She was so fucking soft and warm. Jesus.

She ground against him again and grunted when she felt his jean covered cock rub her just above where she was starting to really fucking need it. Let yourself go, Bells, Leah had said. And she planned to. That was until she felt Peter grip her waist tightly, holding her away from his body and pull his mouth back too. He pressed his forehead against hers with his eyes closed and his chest rising and dropping with the sheer power that it took not to fuck the life out of her on top his granite work tops. Isabella opened her eyes slowly in confusion and laid her hands on either side of his waist. "Isabella," he whispered before licking his lips and swallowing. "As God is my witness, I want nothing more than to keep going, right here, right now. Fuck, darlin' I want to." Isabella breathed in deeply at the sound of his gruff drawl. "But this isn't taking things slowly," he said as he pulled his head back and looked down at her. "Isn't that what you wanted?" Isabella stared up at the breathless, sexy man in front of her and felt her chest twist. She had said that and as much as she thought throwing her self into whatever it was that was between the two of them it wasn't right. They both knew it. It was too fast. She avoided his eyes before smiling resignedly. "It is what I want," she breathed as she looked up at him, feeling a little embarrassed about her brazen behavior. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't hav-" Peter's face scowled instantly. "Whoa, whoa, don't you dare apologize." He cupped the left side of her face. "I'm as much to blame as you." He looked down almost sheepishly at his hand holding her thigh and let her foot lower slowly back to the floor. "You're just hard to resist," he said with a deep breath as he kissed her forehead and took a step back. Isabella laughed lightly as she adjusted her dress. "You too," she murmured making Peter smile. He ran a hand through his hair and sighed. "Let's have dinner, have a couple more drinks and talk. Nice and slow. Ok?" "Sounds good," she replied with a smile. And that's what they did. The conversation for a small amount of time after the whole, grinding leg incident - as Isabella called it in her mind - was a little forced, but once Peter served dinner the two of them once again found that they could talk about pretty much anything without many awkward silences. The food was delicious and Isabella complimented the chef numerous times throughout the meal. Once they had finished the exquisite dessert of chocolate and mint mousse and after Isabella had insisted on helping with the clearing up, they made their way into the living room where Peter offered to give her a foot massage. "No funny business. Scout's honor," he promised as he sat at the opposite end of the sofa and lifted her feet onto his lap.

As sensual and as good as his hands felt on the bottom of her feet, Isabella didn't feel the urge to do anything more. She watched him as he rubbed and squeezed her feet in his palms and knew that in that moment it was enough. She had instantly ignored the sting of rejection that had threatened when Peter had pulled away, knowing that what he was saying was right. They had come close to crossing a line and they had managed to pull back. Peter had pulled them both back because Peter was a good guy. Peter was safe. =PoF= "So, how did you two leave it?" "We kissed goodnight and planned to see each other again soon," Isabella answered into her cell as she climbed up the steps at the front of the library the following Monday afternoon. "And how do you feel about that?" Leah asked cautiously. "I feel fine about it," Isabella replied nonchalantly as she reached the top and stopped. She took a quick breath. "He's a great guy." "Yeah, he is and he obviously cares about you to stop what sounds like a fuck hot kitchen grind." Isabella laughed and felt her cheeks warm, "Yeah." "You ok, Bells?" Leah asked, hearing the faraway tone in her friend's voice. "Mmhm, I've just gotten to the library so I have to go." "The library, huh? Is he there yet?" Leah asked softly. Isabella felt her stomach do a flip-flop and cursed it immediately. "I don't know. I told him where to meet me when I texted him yesterday but he didn't reply." "Well, I hope it goes well. Do your teacher thing and you'll be fine. It's just a stupid crush remember." Isabella laughed nervously, while glancing around herself and nodded into the phone. "I know. Speak to you later." She ended the call and after rubbing her hands down her skirt and pulling her bag up onto her shoulder, she made her way into the library. She walked towards the grand welcome desk and smiled at Mrs. Cope who had worked at the library for decades. She was there the day that the Charles Swan reading room was opened after his passing. "Good afternoon, Isabella," she said as she pushed her glasses up her small nose. Her whole face wrinkled when she smiled. "Good afternoon, Mrs. Cope. You're looking well." The old lady blushed and waved her hand dismissively. "You're here to use the reading room?" she asked as she flicked through the papers on her desk. "I am," Isabella replied. "I have booked it indefinitely for these days at these times."

"Yes," Mrs. Cope muttered as she took the paper from Isabella's hand. "Ah, here we are, Dear." She handed her the sign in sheet which was empty. Cullen had obviously not arrived. Isabella signed her name and looked back at the entryway of the library. "When my student gets here can you tell him to come straight through once he's signed in?" "Of course," Mrs. Cope replied with her wrinkles in full effect. Isabella made her way through the immaculate building towards the reading room that had been constructed as part of her father's wishes in his will. Isabella had always loved to read and he had wanted to create somewhere that not only she, but other people, could go, to be still with a book and lose themselves in the pages that they read. His plan was to do it before his fiftieth birthday which he never saw. Isabella dropped her bags down onto one of the large oak tables and sat down. She pulled out all her resources ready for Cullen so that they could get straight into the work. She didn't want to dilly dally about. She got flustered enough in his presence. Once that was done she crossed her legs and waited. Her foot tapped the leg of the table and she suddenly realized that she was biting her thumb nail a habit that she hadn't revisited since she was a teenager. She moaned and rubbed her forehead at the thought. Fifteen minutes passed and she was still alone. Alone but fucking pissed. "Where the fuck is he?" she hissed as she checked her phone for any missed messages or texts. There were none. She tapped the screen of her phone against her knuckle and bit the inside of her mouth in annoyance. She should have known that he'd let her down. He was a newly released criminal who had his wild oats to sew. Why the hell would he waste time with her even if it was part of the conditions of his parole? She was stupid to even think that he meant it when he said he wanted to keep their sessions going. Jackass! Another fifteen minutes passed and with a huff and a string of quietly spoken expletives, she began to pack her things away. Fuck him. If he didn't want to take it seriously then why should she give a shit? A hand on her shoulder made her scream and whirl around to be faced with the man himself. "Shit! Don't fucking scream!" Cullen urged with his palms out towards her in surrender. "It's only me." She gripped her palm to her chest to calm her pounding heart and took a deep breath. "Fuck's sake you scared me to death." "I gathered," he replied as he discreetly looked her up and down. Hair down. Check. Tight top. Check. Pencil skirt with heels. Check. Hard on. Check. He grumbled in his chest and ran a hand through his hair. A hand which, Isabella noticed was covered in oil. In fact, most of his body was covered in oil.

She took a moment to look at him from head to toe. His hair was shorter; he'd obviously made a trip to the barbers but it was it's usual chaotic self. His face, well, his face was his face: epically beautiful. But that too had a smearing of oil across his right cheek and through his left eyebrow. His t-shirt which was a black Strokes affair was tight and dirty and his jeans, Isabella could only assume, used to be blue denim. "What the hell happened to you?" Cullen smirked as he watched her eyes wander over him. He liked the way it felt. "I had a fight with a V8 engine and lost," he replied with a grin. "That's why my ass is late." The cocky look on his face reminded Isabella that she was pissed at him. She stood up straight and flicked her hair over her shoulder. "Yes, you are late," she growled. "So, the session is cancelled." She spun back around to continue throwing her resources back in her bag. Cullen laughed briefly and then realized she wasn't yanking his chain. "Are you fucking kidding me?" he asked as he watched her as she banged her shit about. "No," Isabella snapped, not turning back to him. "I am not fucking kidding you. You are late and I am not here for shits and giggles while you fuck around with your V8 toys and don't even text or call to let me know!" Cullen, utterly incensed, grabbed the top of her arm and spun her around to face him. She gasped at the livid expression on his flawless face. "Hey," he barked with his nose only inches from hers. "Stop fucking bitching and throwing shit for a minute and calm the fuck down." She breathed in his scent. It was deep, rich, smoky, musky and metallic and made parts of her body tingle in a way that made her breathless. "Get. Off. Me," she ordered through gritted teeth. Cullen looked down quickly at his hand on her arm and let go immediately. "Sor-sorry," he muttered, even though his eyes were still thunderous. Isabella watched him as he ran his hands through his hair. "Look, don't leave ok. Just let me fucking explain before you go fucking postal on me." She exhaled down her nose heavily and crossed her arms over her chest, "Fine. Explain." Cullen narrowed his eyes at her tone but she just stared right back at him. She was shit hot sexy when she was angry. He couldn't deny that shit. It just was. As usual he didn't know whether to shake some sense into her or fuck her senseless. Decisions, decisions "As stated in my parole," he started through tight lips. "My job is working at a body shop that my friend owns." He gestured sarcastically towards the oil that was all over his clothes. "I started back today and he was having trouble with the engine on a Corvette. I offered to help just before I left and it went to shit. I would have called or texted you, Miss Swan, but I was busy making sure that two hundred pound engine parts weren't falling onto the heads of my fucking co-workers."

He mirrored her pose and waited for her response with a cocked eyebrow. So fucking there Isabella looked right back at him and considered what he had said. He looked so masculine and strong, standing in his dirty clothes with a days worth of stubble. He oozed carnal sex and feral beauty. When he had gripped her arm, he hadn't hurt her, but the sizzle of his hands on her was hard to fucking ignore. She couldn't ignore it because it was still there; buzzing deep inside her in places only he could reach. Just a crush, Isabella She dropped her arms and sighed as she scratched her left temple. She evaded his glare and shrugged. "Fine. Whatever," she muttered. "I'm sorry. What?" Cullen asked as he bent down slightly so that he was eye level with her. "I said fine. Let's get on with it," she bit back. "Can we get on, please?" She gestured abruptly towards the chair on the other side of the table. Cullen tapped his foot in annoyance before walking around to where she wanted him. He dropped his bag and himself into the chair and opened it to pull out the snack he had grabbed from the shop by his work. He was fucking starving. Isabella watched surreptitiously as he pulled out a large packet of Oreo cookies and placed them on the table. "You're not allowed to eat in here" she said firmly. "And?" He looked around the room to see it was only the two of them. "Are you gonna tell on me?" he challenged her through his ridiculously long eyelashes. Isabella simply rolled her eyes and sat down with a thump into her chair. "Just don't make a mess." "Yes, Ma'am," he answered as he pulled out a cookie, pulled it apart and licked the middle cream centre like it was well, the middle part of a fucking Oreo cookie. He fucking loved Oreo cookies. Isabella couldn't tear her eyes away from his tongue as it flicked up, down and around, leaving no white visible anywhere. Holy shit I am not wet. I am not wet Isabella cleared her throat and pushed her papers towards him as he put the two cookie parts back together and rested them carefully on a napkin that he had also retrieved from his bag. He perused the paper in front of him before he noticed how quiet she was. He looked up at her to see her staring at the remains of his Oreo. He glanced between them numerous times with awry smile. "What, Peaches? You want my cookie?" he asked with a grin. "Youum, you onlyyou only eat the inside?" she stammered. He shrugged. "Yeah," he answered. "I don't really care for the rest of it. You're free to have the side I haven't had my fucking tongue all over." Although I'd rather have my tongue all over/in/on you

"No," Isabella answered quickly with a shake of her head. "I'm good. Thank you." Cullen nodded, and wondered why her face looked the way it did: almost faraway and sad. "Well, the offer's there," he said brightly, trying to change it back to the beautiful expression he liked the best. "And don't worry, I won't tell either." Isabella smiled and tapped the papers between them. "Tell me what you know about this poem." He glanced down at it and smiled. "Well, well, Peaches, you make me blush. This is quite a change from Tichborne's Elegy." Isabella smirked slightly and waved her hand for him to continue. "The Flea by Donne, is an example of his using a usually insignificant action: killing a flea, and turning it into a sexually deviant metaphor." "Sexually deviant?" Isabella questioned. Cullen dropped his chin to his chest slightly and smiled. "Don't get coy with me, Peaches. You know as well as I do that the poem is about Donne wanting to fuck his mistress out of wed lock." Isabella crossed her legs as the word 'fuck' rolled off his lips. She was sure he did that shit on purpose. She had heard him say it many, many times before, but when used in its correct context, it was a damn sight more powerful. "Care to elaborate?" she said as evenly as she could but Cullen had already noticed the blush that was creeping up her neck. "Well, at the time this poem was written, fucking out of wed lock was social taboo. When Donne talks of the blood that the flea has taken from both him and his mistress he is clearly talking about bodily fluids being shared." "Hmm," Isabella mused, keeping her eyes on the poem. Why the fuck did she choose this poem? "Hmm?" Cullen asked as he shifted his chair closer to his Peaches. "Is that an 'I agree with everything you just said, Cullen' hmm or a 'You have no fucking clue what you're talking about,' hmm?" It's a say fuck and bodily fluids again kind of hmm "No, no, you're absolutely right," Isabella said quickly as her hair fell across her face, shielding her from his eyes that she could feel were looking straight into her. Dangerous, Bells Cullen frowned. He didn't like it when she was closed off from him. He had thought that they would be far more open with each other once he was out. But it seemed, like he had feared after the fucking car lot debacle, they were back at square one. Without taking a moment to think about what he was doing and without the fear of having guards around them, he pushed her hair behind her ear and lifted her face to his by putting his fingers under her chin.

"Peaches," he murmured. "Where are you?" he asked quietly with nothing but concern in his eyes. Isabella swallowed and stared at the green of his irises, wondering what it would be like to swim in them. "I'm here," she whispered. With you and I want to be and I shouldn't Cullen shook his head. "No you're not." He rubbed her chin gently with the tip of his thumb. "You're miles away." He knew her. They both knew that much. "I wasum, I was just thinkingum, I know there's a critique on this poem in this room." She pulled her chin gently from his fingers and made to stand up. "I'll go and find it. Why don't youum, make some notes on your copy so we can discuss them when I get back." She pushed her chair back and hurriedly walked towards the shelves she knew held all the Literature and critical works of each of them. Her heels clicked against the hard wood floor, echoing off the tall book shelves and high walls. Cullen watched her go as he slumped back in his seat, having no clue what the fuck just happened. He picked up another Oreo and began to lick. Had he done too much with the hair, chin thing? He was fucked if he knew. He didn't want her to think he was taking advantage of the no guard, no camera situation; not that he hadn't thought about that shit since the minute he had woken up that morning with a hard on that could have stopped a goddamn freight train. Whacking off in the shower was becoming tedious. Three Oreos later, and she still wasn't back. He checked the time on his phone and sighed. "Fuck this," he grumbled as he stood from his chair, shoved his hands in his pockets and wandered in the direction that she had disappeared in. "Peaches?" he said in a stage whisper as he looked down each aisle in search of her. He had checked four of the motherfuckers before he finally found her, standing on a two wrung ladder, reaching for a book on the highest shelf. He walked up to her, slowly and quietly, his eyes level with the back of her calves. He couldn't help but lick her lips at the sight of the soft creamy skin. Who the fuck needs Oreos? Peaches hadn't noticed him standing there, leaning against the shelves, tracing the curve of her leg with his pupils. His hand twitched of its own volition and before he had any comprehension of what he was doing he was reaching out to stroke the back of her knee with the back of his index and middle finger. "Cullen!" He jumped like a bitch at her voice but then quickly righted himself as Peaches wobbled on the step and slipped back, grabbing at the books as she did. He clutched at her waist, grazing the underside of her tits as he made sure that she didn't hit the floor, murmuring a low fuck as he did. She landed against his hard chest, as a loud 'oomf' came from it as his back his the opposite book shelf.

"Shit," he groaned as he stretched his back and felt it crack. "Jesus Cullen, that's twice today you've scared the hell out of me!" Isabella moaned as she stepped gingerly away from the confines of the large hands around her waist and the feel of him against her back. "Yeah, don't mention it," he grumbled. "I just saved your fucking life." He pointed to the steps and then to her while rubbing the bottom of his spine that had knocked against the bastard shelf. Isabella tried not to notice the muscles that he showed as he did. "Yeah," she muttered. "Thanks for that." "No problem," he replied as he stepped towards her. "Are you ok?" She had taken a step back from him, which they both noticed and both ignored, although Cullen's frown gave his distaste for the movement away completely. He leaned towards her, placing the flat of his palm against the spines of the books at the left side of her face. He could smell her hair. Peaches. "Are you ok?" he repeated slowly. She nodded and licked her lips. "Yesum, thank you." Cullen smiled as he felt his cock twitch at the sight of her small tongue. "Anytime Peaches," he whispered back. "Are you ok, Miss Swan?" Both Cullen and Isabella jumped at the sound of Mrs. Cope's voice and both blinked quickly at how close they had been standing to one another. Isabella's chest at once felt cold. "Yes, I'm fine," she replied as she looked from Cullen back to the old lady who was eying the six-foottwo Adonis with much younger eyes. "I heard a scream," she uttered as she adjusted her glasses. "Yeah," Cullen interrupted. "That was me. I saw a spider. Fucking huge it was." He showed her with his hands in a wide circle. Isabella held back a smile but failed miserably. "I'm terrified of the bastards. Isabella saved me." He flashed her, his trade mark smile to seal the deal - teeth fully showing and everything -but the small librarian didn't look at all impressed, least of all with the language she was hearing. "Well, as long as you're ok?" "I'm fine, thank you, Mrs. Cope," Isabella assured her. The old lady took one more disapproving but amorous look at Cullen before disappearing back towards her desk. Isabella creased into giggles that Cullen couldn't help but enjoy. He laughed too as he watched her small nose crease up and emit a small snort.

"Spiders," she managed, once she caught her breath. "What?" he asked as he leaned against the book shelf next to her. "I hate the fuckers." Isabella looked at him and shook her head. "You're one on your own Mr. Cullen." He smiled back at her and winked. They looked at each other for a small moment, seemingly lost in their own thoughts, before Isabella slapped the large book she had grappled from the shelf into Cullen's stomach. "Fuck!" he groaned. "Here," she said with a wry smile. "Let's find out more about your 'deviant sexual metaphors.'" Cullen laughed as he watched her fine ass walk away. "I thought you'd never fucking ask," he muttered before following quickly after her. Chapter 17: A Paradox Do what you will, this world's a fiction and is made up of contradiction.William Blake "Fuck it!" Cullen looked up from the screwed up carburetor in his hand with a cocked eyebrow to see Jake kicking the tire rim of the blue V6 Mustang he had been working on and cursing at for the past hour. "Whoa, whoa, man, chill out. We don't hit ladies," Cullen said with a smirk as he walked towards him, while wiping his grease covered hands on a white rag that he pulled from his pocket. "What's up?" Jake threw his hands through his hair and bit his tongue. He was just about ready to pull his lighter from his jeans and set the fucking thing alight. "This fucking piece of crap," he hissed, gesturing towards the car. Cullen's eyes widened in mock horror and he quickly placed his palms against the driver's door of the vehicle. "Don't listen, baby," he whispered to the car. "He doesn't mean it." Jake shook his head and rolled his eyes. "Whatever man, I'm fucking done." Cullen frowned at his friend and leaned his forearm on the car roof. "You're done?" he asked in a baiting tone. "You give up so easy?" "No. I don't give up easy," Jake snapped back, taking Cullen by surprise. "I just can'tthe fucking thing is still idling high andfor fuck's sake, Seth, turn that fucking shit down!" Jake bellowed with a pointed finger across the shop towards Seth who scurried quickly to the stereo in the corner of the room. He turned the Foo Fighters down to a dull roar. A travesty, he thought to himself.

Cullen had kept his stare on Jake for the entire exchange, knowing that there was more to Jake's bitching and apparent PMS than the fuck awesome sounds of Dave Grohl. Jake ignored Cullen's 'all knowing' look by dropping his chin to his chest and exhaling loudly. He turned from him and opened a can of Coke that he proceeded to gulp down. Once it was finished he turned back to his friend and leaned against the wall before sliding down it. He took another deep breath and let his eyes meet Cullen's briefly before explaining quietly, "My blood sugar is low, man. Sorry." Jake had been diagnosed with Hypoglycemia when he was a kid. He managed to keep his blood sugars on a fairly normal level but he was a cranky son of a bitch when they dropped. Cullen reached begrudgingly into his back pocket and retrieved his bag of mini Oreos, throwing them at Jake's chest who looked down at them and smiled. "You sure?" he asked as he shook the bag of delights. "Yeah," Cullen grumbled. "Eat them quickly before I change my fucking mind you grumpy fucker." Jake laughed lightly and opened them. He put one in his mouth and hummed in pleasure. He offered the bag to Cullen who couldn't help but take two for himself. "So, what else is up?" Cullen asked after a moment of Oreo centre appreciative silence. Jake once again averted his eyes from Cullen who huffed down his nose and crossed his arms over his chest. "Since when do we keep secrets, Jake?" he asked in a low tone. "I don't have any secrets," Jake answered firmly with a shake of his head. "You know all there is to know." "Oh, really?" Cullen countered in a way that told Jake he was close to flipping his shit. "So, if I know everything, when exactly were you going to tell me that you owe Aro even more now and that Paul is currently at the bastard's house with your shop takings, blow takings, receipts" "That's not a secret, Cullen," Jake argued. "You knew all about that." "Yeah, I did, but I didn't know that the fucker now has you over an even bigger barrel than he had before I got put inside!" Jake closed his mouth quickly before he said something stupid. He knew that Cullen was right. He should have told him about the change in amount but that would mean admitting that he wasn't that good a poker player. "Fuck, man," Cullen sighed. "70%? How the fuck have you kept the shop afloat?" Jake looked back at Cullen in shock. How the hell did he know so much? He blinked as realization hit him. "Paul," he hissed. "I should put my foot in his mouth. That'll stop him from fucking talking." "Don't blame Paul. He's worried about you," Cullen warned. "He only told me what I asked and what you should have told me already. What the fuck possessed you to take Aro on in a goddamn poker match?"

"I was trying to win back some of the money to pay him," he answered with slight embarrassment. He sighed and looked up at Cullen. "It's all good, dude," he said with a half smile and a shrug that was supposed to look nonchalant. "It's under control. The shop is fine." Cullen wasn't buying it. He narrowed his eyes and cocked his head to the side. "Is this to do with Vanes-?" "Don't!" Jake shot back with fire in his eyes and clenched fists. He was on his feet quicker than Cullen could even blink. Cullen immediately stood to his full height in preparation for anything that Jake could potentially give. They hadn't fought physically since they were kids but that didn't mean shit. Jake took a deep breath and let it go gradually, taking in Cullen's defensive stance. He didn't want to fight his best friend but fuck, Cullen knew better than to talk about her. "Justjust don't, man, ok?" Jake breathed as he closed his eyes for a second to regain his composure. Cullen nodded slowly. He knew that bringing her name up would cause a reaction but hell if he was shocked as shit to see it first hand. Paul had told Cullen that he had literally 'bumped' into Vanessa on his last visit to Aro's and that, when he had mentioned it to Jake, he had proceeded to go on a three day bender of drink, drugs and women. As much as Jake gave off the impression that he was a tough motherfucker, Cullen knew that deep inside he was still hurting. Jake slid slowly back down the wall, landing with a loud thump. He cupped the sides of his temples in his palms. "Look," Cullen murmured as he moved to sit on the floor at Jake's side. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to cause shit by talking about her. But you need to be honest with me." He gave Jake a pointed look which Jake accepted with a slow nod. Honesty had always been so important to the friendship that they had built over the years: Honesty and trust. "You know that I can help you with the money side of" He trailed off as he saw Jake shake his head. "No, Cullen. I don't want your money." "It's not my money," Cullen bit back as he ran his hands through his hair, "Its Masen money." Jake continued to shake his head. "Whatever, I'm not taking any more from you, man. You've already given too much. I already owe you for last time and then you doing the time that wasn't even" He trailed off as the guilt teased his neck. "Jesus you're working here for nothing." "I don't need you to pay me," Cullen muttered. "I have money and it keeps the parole fuckers happy thinking that I'm working for a living. Plus, I love it. I love working on these fuck hot automobiles." He smiled as he slid his hand across the curve of the Mustang's fender. "I know, but I still feel like a greedy ass motherfucker," Jake replied as he tilted his head back against the wall. "If the shoe fits," Cullen deadpanned, earning a very hard elbow into his ribs. He laughed and rubbed his side.

"But seriously, Jake," he continued with no humor in his voice, "The offer's there, ok?" Jake looked at Cullen and nodded. "Thanks, man." They shook hands firmly before Cullen jumped up and leaned over to examine the engine of the Mustang. "So, what's the problem with her?" he asked as he began tinkering with the head gasket before checking the spark plugs. Jake stood and stretched. "She's idling really high. I've checked everything butI don't know. Maybe I missed something?" He rubbed his hand across the back of his neck, feeling the tension from lack of sleep. "Did you check the idle air control?" Cullen asked without looking up, his hands disappearing into the depths of the car's engine. Jake scoffed loudly and rolled his eyes. "Of course, that was the first fucking thing I checked." He watched Cullen work for no more than a minute, betting silently with himself that he wouldn't be able to fix the fucking thing. "Start her up," Cullen said as he stood up straight. Jake looked at him for a beat with a confused expression. "Start her up," Cullen repeated with a wry smile. Jake narrowed his eyes, grumbled under his breath and moved to turn the key in the ignition. Sure enough, the engine purred to life, the altimeter sitting at perfect RPMs. Cullen slammed the hood down and wiped his finger prints off of the sexy metallic blue. "How the fuck?" Jake muttered as he turned the car off. Cullen laughed. "Idle air control. Easily missed." "But I checked the fucking air control!" Jake urged with open palms towards the car as though the inanimate object had planned his embarrassment all along. Cullen clapped his hand onto Jake's shoulder. "You're welcome," he said before heading towards the coffee maker at the back of the shop. He laughed lightly as Jake continued to curse and explain to no-one in particular that he had in fact checked the idle air control and he would never have made such a rookie mistake. He felt his cell phone vibrate in his pocket as he picked up his cup of coffee and pulled it out of his pocket. Peaches. Try not to be late again.

Cullen looked at the clock on the wall to see that it was three fifteen. Less than one hour. He smiled and sipped his drink as he text her back. I wouldn't dare. And he was only half kidding. He had been more than a little fucking surprised at her reaction to his tardiness at their first session, two days previous. She had looked ready to rip his fucking head off and piss down his neck. He could kind of see where she was coming from but shit, she had a temper. Not that he was one to fucking talk. The session after the whole stern talking to, falling of ladder debacle had gone pretty well. They had discussed Donne in detail and not just The Flea (which Cullen was still ecstatic about her choosing. There was nothing better than seeing her cheeks tinge pink when he said words like 'fuck', 'sexual deviant' and 'bodily fluids.') They talked about his other works too, only noticing that they were the only two left in the library when the old battle axe, Mrs. Cope, came to tell them that security were locking up. It was strange how time passed so quickly when he was with Peaches. It seemed so easy to be with her. He loved her sass and passion. It made him remember his own passion for the written word that he thought was long forgotten. He loved talking to her about the writer's word choices and the intricacies of it all. In fact, he loved talking to her period. Talking to her and nowtouching her. He couldn't help but think about how soft her hair was when he pushed it behind her ear or the silkiness of her skin at the back of her knee. Would her skin be that soft all over? He cleared his throat and shook his head of the gratuitous image of her wrapped around him as he pounded her against the book shelves. Sweet Jesus. The point, he decided, was that he wanted more. Sitting and discussing the poem with her was great. It was what they met for after all, but Cullen couldn't help but wonder what it would be like just to have an every day conversation with her. The day that she had spoken about her father and the book that he read to her was one of the best days that he had had while he was inside. He truly felt that he had gotten a glimpse of the Isabella Swan that existed outside of Arthur Kill and, now that he was outside too, he wanted very much to see more of her. He wondered what her reaction would be if he asked her some more personal questions. Only questions about her likes and dislikes, not like her bra size or anything; although he had wondered about that shit too. They looked like they would fit in his hands quite nicely. He groaned under his breath as his cock twitched in agreement. Fucking woman. His body still seemed to find it impossible to settle down when he was around her hell, even when he wasn't around her and he thought about her, his body was up and at 'em, so to speak. He had known from the minute that he met her before he even knew who she was - that he wanted her. Of course, of that there was no doubt and as much as he would love to suggest that they just get fucking down to it, he knew that she wasn't that type of girl. At least he fucking hoped she wasn't. He was fairly certain that, should he hear of any man treating her that way, he would have no problem with fucking. Their. Shit. Up.

His possessiveness could be a problem. He snorted into his coffee cup. Mine. Besides, he continued to ponder; maybe she wouldn't even want him that way? "Cullen?" He came from his inner musings and turned to Seth who was motioning towards the entrance of the body shop. "There's a guy here to see you, man." "Who?" Cullen asked putting his coffee down and walking towards him. Seth shrugged. "No clue. He just said he needed to talk to you urgently." Cullen rolled his eyes. "Don't they all," he muttered. He stopped mid-stride when he saw who it was that was waiting for him, shifting from foot to foot, in a suit that must have cost at least two thousand dollars. Cullen cursed under his breath and rubbed his palm down his face in aggravation. "Peter," he murmured as he walked towards him. Peter nodded and took a deep breath. "Cullen." There was a moment of silence as the two men observed one another. It had been a long time since they had talked, let alone been in the same place at the same time. Impatient and as volatile as always; Cullen was the first to break. "What the fuck are you doing here?" he asked with incredulous eyes and an exasperated shake of his head. "You've not been returning any of the calls that either Jasper or myself have made to you," Peter answered matter-of-factly. His calm tone and arrogant gait annoyed the shit out of Cullen. "So what," he retorted. "You fucks can't bully me on the phone so you decide to come down and do it in person?" Peter sighed and dropped his shoulders slightly. "We're not bullying you, Cullen. These papers need signing." Cullen pulled out his smokes from his back pocket and lit one, taking a huge drag that he breathed down his nose. He pointed at Peter with the cigarette still between his fingers. "Those papers were drawn up, without my consent, as a way of shifting me out of the picture. That, my friend, is fucking bullying: Underhand, arrogant, fucking bullying, but bullying nonetheless."

"Cullen," Peter groaned in annoyance as he rubbed the bridge of his own nose. "You don't want anything to do with the company. You've said that time and time again and yet when we offer you a way out you dig your fucking heels in and say no." Peter, for one, was sick of the to-ing and fucking fro-ing. Cullen immediately saw through his bullshit. "No. You're offering me a way out because the Whitlock's are scared fucking shitless that WCS share holders will find out that your company owner is a fucking criminal." Cullen pulled on the cigarette, eying the man before him, knowing from the expression on his face that he was right. Peter ran his hand through his hair and took a breath. "Cullen," he said quietly taking a step towards him. "We're family" Say what now? Cullen's eyes blazed. "Don't play the fucking family card with me, Peter!" he snarled as he flicked his smoke, just missing the side of Peter's left arm. "You weren't my fucking family when I was doing my times in prison so don't pretend that you give a shit now that I'm out!" Peter held his hands up in submission. "Ok, ok. I get it," he cried over Cullen's ranting. "No," Cullen continued while taking a step towards him, clearing the space left between them. "You don't get it. We may be related but that does not mean that I would not think twice about laying your ass the fuck out, right here and now, just on general goddamn principle." Peter refused to back down, even when Cullen was almost nose to nose with him. He was an intimidating fucker but he could be too. "That wouldn't be too good for your parole now would it?" he asked, keeping his voice as even as he could. It was a low blow, he knew, but he wasn't scared of Edward Cullen. "Fuck you," Cullen hissed. The two men stared at each other, neither one blinking or stepping back. Should a passer by have seen them they would have thought nothing of maybe walking around them in a circle with a board that read 'Round 1.' "We ok here?" Peter's eyes flickered over Cullen's shoulder towards Jake who was standing, leaning against the wall of the building with his arms crossed over his chest like some fucking parolee body guard. Peter held his eye roll. "Yeah," Cullen answered, still never taking his eyes from Peter's face. "We're great. Peter was just leaving."

Peter smirked slightly at the warning in Cullen's tone. So predictable. Cullen was always thinking with his fists instead of his brain, even when they were kids he was the same way. He exhaled in resignation. "Think about what I said, Cullen," he said softly. "We'll be in touch." "Can't wait," Cullen retorted quickly. "Jake," Peter offered with a nod towards the wannabe body guard. Jake winked and grinned in response. Peter smiled at his cockiness and shook his head as he jogged back across the street to get into his car. Cullen watched the car pull away and turned towards Jake with a face like thunder. "What the fuck was he doing here?" Jake asked with raised eyebrows. "They still trying to buy you out?" Cullen nodded and slumped against the wall next to him, groaning as he did. "What did you say?" "I told him to go fuck himself," Cullen replied with a shrug. Jake bumped his shoulder and smiled. "That's my boy." Cullen cracked a small smile. He stood for a couple of minutes, allowing his body to calm down and his adrenaline levels to drop. Fucking family. What the hell did Peter Whitlock know about being family? They were all the same the Whitlock's: money and power driven. All they cared about was getting their hands on his money and having more power and, as much as Cullen despised every cent that entered his Swiss bank account every month, he wasn't about to just slink off like some badly behaved black sheep, just because the Whitlock's wanted him too. Fuck that. He was just about to close his eyes, with his head lolling back against the wall, as his breathing leveled out, when he was suddenly upright, wide eyed and frantic and scaring Jake Black to death. "Shit!" Cullen exclaimed as looked around him self as though he was looking for something. "What time is it?" Jake took a moment to realize he had been asked a question before looking at his watch in panic. "Its 3:45, man, why? Where's the fucking fire?" "Fuck!" Cullen cried, running full speed back into the shop and grabbing his bag and keys. "I'm fucking late! Fuck! I'm motherfucking late!"

He pulled on his leather jacket, shades and his black beanie hat, dodging Seth as he did and ran back out of the shop, past Jake and towards Kala. Jake was still looking utterly perplexed. "My session," Cullen called, noticing the vacant look on his friend's face, as he pulled on his helmet and threw his leg over the bike. "I'm fucking late and I said I wouldn't be! I told her I wouldn't be!" "Oh," Jake replied in understanding as he watched Cullen reverse the rumbling bike onto the road with his feet, "The sexy tutor?" He laughed as Cullen flicked him the finger before revving the Harley and speeding off down the street like a bat out of hell. =PoF= Isabella was drumming her nails on the library table in annoyance while wondering why the fuck she thought that Cullen meant it when he said that he would be on time. Oh yes, she realized, because she was fucking stupid. That was why. She was stupid for thinking he would be on time. She was stupid for looking forward to their time together and resenting him for cutting it short. She was stupid for taking time to reapply a little lip glass and mascara before she reached the library and she was fucking stupid for hoping that he was covered in oil again. "So fucking stupid," she mumbled to herself as she reached into her bag and pulled out the copy of 'Walter the Lazy Mouse' that he had bought her for her birthday. She re-read the note that he had written and sighed. 'No matter what the obstacles' Well, she thought dryly, the biggest fucking obstacle right now was the fact that the guy would be late to his own fucking funeral. She closed the book and glanced at the clock once again. Four-ten. She sighed and shook her head. She waited thirty minutes last session. She would wait twenty this time. She picked up her phone checking for any messages or missed calls. She smiled sardonically at her reflection as it looked back at her from the blank screen. Of course there were no messages. "Fucking stupid," she mumbled again. She ran her hands through her hair and heaved a sigh. Slumping down into her seat she allowed her mind to wander back to their first session. After his ass had eventually turned up, they hadmanaged to get quite a lot of work done; even if she had regretted choosing the poem she had. She had filled out her form for Charlotte to forward onto the parole board, detailing what they had covered. Of course she had left out the fact that he had pushed her hair back and touched her chin, as well as grabbing her after she fell off the ladder, grazing her boobs in the process and holding her against his strong, muscular chest "Dammit, Isabella," she cursed her self as she felt her cheeks burn at the memory.

She dropped her forehead to her forearms on the table top and began muttering to herself. "It's a stupid crush. Get your head out of your ass. He's just a guy. He's a guy who is a criminal, who has done countless bad things and countless women along the way. Get. A. Fucking. Grip. Just because he is pretty does not mean that you-" "Who's pretty?" Oh. Holy. Fuck. Cullen's soft dulcet tones echoed around the room, freezing Isabella for a moment, before she grabbed the composure that was slinking down her chair and out of the door and sat up very, very slowly, terrified to turn around and see his face. "Mymy shoes," she answered quickly as she pushed her foot out from under the table and twisted it around so that Cullen could see the gun metal grey Gucci pump that adorned it. "Aren't they pretty?" she asked as she felt her heart race. She continued to keep her eyes off of him as she tried to calm herself. How much had he heard? Fuckfuckfuck Cullen cocked an eyebrow but still allowed his eyes to rake over the foot, ankle and leg that she was showing him. Because hell, to ignore it after the pretty lady had asked would be just bad fucking manners. Lickable, suckable, around my waistable "Umthey're not really my style but yeahgreat," he replied in a puzzled tone while eying her warily. He placed his bike helmet onto the table. What the hell had she been mumbling about? Isabella closed her eyes in utter mortification as he walked around her to his seat, gathering her wits from around her ankles and clearing her throat of the cry of embarrassment that was blocking it. "So," he said as he pulled off his jacket and placed it on the back of his seat. He grimaced slightly. "I know I'm late. And I know I said I wouldn't be. Soshit, sorry." "Yes," she answered sharply. "You are late. Again." He tried to smile to soften her a little but she looked away before it had time to take effect. She knew his game. Fuck it. "I know you have stuff that you need to do, Cullen," Isabella continued in a more serious tone as she reached into her bag for a pen. "But so do I and you being late constantly is just not going to work. We've lost fifteen minutes already." He scoffed slightly but stopped it when she threw him a look that would have rendered him dead on the spot had she so wished it. He gulped and pushed down the aggravation her tone had caused that was rising slowly in his chest. "Look, I apologized ok," he said pointedly with his hands palm up on the table between them. "But give me a fucking break here, Peaches. It's only our second session. I'm still trying to find my groove and shit with everything. It won't be like this forever justI'm trying, ok? Lay off a motherfucker."

Isabella looked at him. His face was softer, more vulnerable maybe. Maybe it was the beanie, which admittedly looked fairly spectacular sitting on his head. She frowned gently at him. "What happened?" she asked suddenly. Cullen sat back slightly in surprise at her question. "What?" "Well, why were you late? You lookdifferent. What happened?" He inhaled through his nose and smiled at her. He shook his head and shrugged before rubbing his neck. "There was afamily issue I had to deal with and I lost track of time. Simple as." Isabella nodded. "A family issue? Is everything ok?" The concern in her voice made his stomach tighten like he'd done a number of crunches. It was strange and came from nowhere. He suddenly felt a little off balance. "Umyeah, everything's fine," he replied uncomfortably, as his eyes darted around the table and away from Peaches' gaze. "Can we get on now?" Isabella noticed the tension start to creep back into his jaw and silently cursed herself. Why did she have to ask? She knew why she had. Who the fuck was she kidding? The truth was, she barely knew the man sitting before her and honestly it had started to concern her. She was lusting after him, having impure thoughts and dreams about him, yet all she knew about him was that he had done time for what she had no clue - he had a good education and he worked in a body shop. The fact that he smoked and looked fucking amazing in jeans and Ray Bans was inconsequential knowledge at this point. Althoughdamn. "I see you came straight from work again," she noted with a tip of her head towards his red White Stripes t-shirt that was covered in oil. Cullen looked down at himself and laughed, "Umyeah. I get covered in the fucking stuff." He wiped half heartedly at the stains making Isabella smile. "We can't all look like you, you know," he muttered as he glanced at her from under his lashes. Isabella paused for a second as she pushed his work towards him. "Look like me?" she asked as she looked down quickly at her green v-neck button down sweater and grey skirt. "What do you mean?" She was suddenly very self conscious. Cullen smirked as he pulled the papers towards himself. He had noticed that she had a little more shine to her lips but didn't allow himself to look at them for long. Sitting with a hard-on for long periods of time was not good. That shit was just fucking uncomfortable.

"I don't mean anything, Peaches," he replied nonchalantly. "So, what's on the agenda for today, more sexual deviancy?" Isabella took a deep breath and felt her chest constrict in annoyance at his cockiness. She should have been used to his shit by now but he was playing with her and not in a good way. "We're staying with Donne," she huffed as she slammed her notes down, making Cullen sit up a little straighter. "Tell me what you know about this poem?" She dug around in her bag after asking her question about 'To His Mistress Going To Bed', wishing like hell that there was a bat in it which she could use to smack Cullen around the head with. When Cullen hadn't replied for a few moments she looked up at him from the notes in front of her. What she saw surprised her. He was looking at his own copy with a confused look on his face, scratching his head so that his beanie moved from side to side. "Cullen?" He lifted his head and then shook it slowly. His expression seemedashamed? He cleared his throat. "I, umI don'tI don't know this one." Isabella blinked three times in rapid succession. Cullen sat back in his seat and crossed his arms over himself. A frown appeared over his eyes and his jaw moved as he clenched his teeth. "Oh," she replied like a fucking idiot. "WellCullen, that's ok." He rolled his eyes and smacked his jean pockets for a smoke before he remembered where he was and that lighting a cigarette may not be the best fucking idea. "What's wrong?" Isabella asked, leaning forward so that her arm was reaching over to him. "I need a fucking cigarette," he groaned as he rubbed his face. He stopped trying to pull the skin from his bones when he heard a chair scrape across the wooden floor. He looked to see Peaches standing with an expectant look on her face. "What?" he snapped even though he didn't mean to. Isabella ignored it however and tapped her hand against the back of her chair. "If you need a smoke let's go outside and have a smoke." Cullen narrowed his eyes. "But you don't smoke." Isabella put her hands on her hips in irritation and took two steps towards the door. "I like to watch," she replied sardonically. "Come on." Cullen observed her for a moment, wondering if she was playing with him, before he got up and followed her with heavy feet.

Outside of the library, in the warm sunshine, he found Peaches standing by the 'smoking point' alongside other social lepers of the smoking persuasion. He stared at her, waiting for her to say something smart, but instead she simply gestured with her hand for him to spark up. He smiled wryly and did as she asked, pulling on the thing for all it was worth. He slumped against the wall and watched as Peaches mirrored the action at the side of him. He caught a waft of her perfume as she did and closed his eyes briefly at the sweetness of it. "It's ok, you know," she said softly, keeping her eyes on her feet. "What is?" he asked as he flicked the ash onto the floor. "The fact that you don't know the poem," Isabella answered. "It's a good thing actually." Cullen exhaled a long plume of smoke followed by four rings. "And how do you figure that?" Isabella laughed gently and looked up at him. She was small, he thought. The top of her head only came to the tip of his shoulder. How had he not noticed that before? "Cullen, every poem or piece of work that we have looked at since we started doing these sessions over two months ago, you have known inside and out. You make me feel a little inadequate sometimes." She said it with a smile even though it was the truth. She couldn't be mad though. Cullen's intelligence and insight was what made her job worthwhile. He snorted a little and shook his head at her statement. "You, Miss Swan, are anything but inadequate." Isabella felt her cheeks warm at his words and the way in which he said them. There was sincerity behind them and it made her feel strange. How could he be such a fucking ass one minute and charming as hell the next? This guy could give a girl serious fucking whiplash. "Regardless," she muttered with a dismissive wave of her hand. "We can work through this one together. Sure, it'll be different but different isn't always bad." Cullen looked down at her to see her gazing out at the passing people and traffic. Her hair once again caught the light and the reds and gold shone within it. This, he decided, was the Isabella Swan he wanted to know more about. "What made you want to become a teacher?" he asked quickly, unable to stop the words as they passed his tongue. Her head snapped towards him, her big brown eyes seemingly shocked as hell and wary. Shit, had he asked the wrong thing? "Sorry," he mumbled around his cigarette. "I didn't mean to pry. It's none of my fucking business." "No," Isabella croaked with a hand through her hair. "No, it's fine. You just surprised me, is all." Cullen looked down at his own feet, waiting patiently for her to answer.

"My dad," she said finally. Ah, hence the look of surprise Cullen continued to wait. "He um, well, before he died, I um, made a promise to him." He looked at her from the corner of his eye to see her biting her lip and looking up at the sky. She looked beautiful. Isabella took a deep breath, gathering her thoughts and memories of the night she had promised her Daddy that she would make him proud and give something back. "He always taught me that it was important to give back, to not take anything for granted. I loved reading. I loved writing and becoming a teacher just seemed toignite something in me." She glanced at him sheepishly. "Sounds corny as shit, right?" He smiled but shook his head. "There's nothing wrong with passion, Peaches." He was surprised at the huskiness of his own voice as he spoke. She smiled in return before looking back out across the city. "Did youI mean, before prisondid you want tobe anything?" Cullen chuckled at her cautious wording and crossed his legs at the ankles as he put out his smoke and flicked it to the side. "There was a time when I wanted to be a doctor," he answered slowly. He'd never told anyone that. Isabella looked at him in utter astonishment, "A doctor?" Cullen smirked at her expression and nodded, "Yeah, a surgeon actually." He held out his hands in front of himself. "I'm good with my hands." He wiggled his fingers while Isabella ignored the fluttering deep inside her stomach. "Is that why you work in the body shop because you like working with your hands?" she asked curiously. "Nah," he replied with a crinkle of his nose as he put his hands back into his pockets. "Apart from doing it to help a friend out, I do that because I fucking love engines. I love the power and the way they operate. Taking it all apart, seeing how it works and then putting it all back together; that's what I love about it, Peaches." He closed his eyes and sighed. "The sound they make can be pretty awesome too." He smiled to himself as he remembered the first time he heard Kala as he blasted her to New Jersey one hot summer afternoon. Her engine had been so loud he had been able to feel it in his bones.

"You're right," Isabella whispered as she watched his face relax and settle into the beautiful image she had begun to know so well. "I usually am," Cullen answered with a wiggle of his eyebrows as he opened his eyes and looked back at her, "But about what in particular?" She smiled. "There is nothing wrong with passion." Cullen smirked and looked back at her, seemingly unable to say anything that wouldn't sound fucking stupid or trite. He liked hearing her use his words. It erased the feeling of inadequacy that had crept up his back when he realized he didn't know the poem that they were going to study. Peaches had calmed him; reassured him and given him what he needed. It was like she caredabout his feelings. A strange feeling suddenly bubbled in his stomach as he continued to take in the contours of Peaches' face. It felt like it did when he was hungry, a grumble, slightly uncomfortable but easily dealt with. This, he started to understand however didn't appear to be something he could deal with easily. He was hungry but not in the normal give me a bag of Oreos and I'm good to go - sense. He was hungry for the woman standing at his side. He sucked in a breath when he was unexpectedly struck with the overwhelming urge to kiss her. Fuck. "What?" Peaches asked as she saw the color start to drain from Cullen's face and his eyes darken. "Are you ok?" He cleared his throat and looked away from her quickly, gripping the bridge of his nose. Fucking shit. "Do you want another smoke?" she asked moving closer to him as he bent his knees slightly. He looked a little ill. "Yeah," he replied shakily, once again pulling out his pack of Marlboro. He kept his eyes from Peaches, feeling the urge rise through his body. This is not good. Cullen didn't just kiss women. He did that shit when he had to but women usually kissed him. Usually, they begged. What. The. Hell? He had wanted to fuck Peaches since he had first seen her; but kiss her? That had never even crossed his mind. Until now. Fucking, fucking shit. Isabella, utterly perplexed, leaned back against the wall, watching Cullen surreptitiously from the corner of her eye as he sucked on his cigarette as though his life depended on it. He appeared so shaken, nervous even. He looked like she'd never seen him.

"So, um" she shrugged to herself as she tried to find the right words to change the atmosphere that had settled around them on the steps of the library. "Whatum, do you like to do when you're notyou knowgetting covered in oil?" She laughed a little and then felt her face warm up at the fucking absurdity of her question. What the fuck was she asking him that for? She palmed her face and mumbled an expletive to herself, feeling Cullen shift at her side. Why couldn't it be easy and natural? Cullen stared at her as she rubbed her forehead, unable to hold his smile back. He felt his body calm. Her obvious discomfort seemed to ease his considerably. Not in a sadistic way, but simply because he understood what she was feeling. Something was going on between them and he didn't have a fucking clue what it was. He didn't even know if he liked it all that much. "I like to play guitar," he answered eventually, his voice back to its even confidence. Isabella lifted her head at his words but remained quiet. "I like to ride my bike. Watch TV. Drink," he smiled at her and tilted his head modestly. "Nothing exciting." "You have a bike?" she asked with a cocked eyebrow which he mimicked, making her smile. Of course, she suddenly remembered, he had a helmet with him today. "Yes," he replied in a soft voice that sounded like a caress, "My baby." Isabella laughed and shook her. Boys and their toys, "Favorite TV program?" "CSI. The New York version," he deadpanned and then broke into ironic laughter which Isabella joined. "Not Prison Break?" Isabella thought, instantly slapping her hand hard to her mouth when she realized she had actually said it out loud. Shit! Cullen widened his eyes and snorted. "Holy fuck, Peaches, did you just make a joke about my incarceration?" She swallowed and fisted her hands together in absolute panic. "I am so fucking sorry, Cullen," she apologized wholeheartedly. She put a hand on her heart. "I would never, and I do mean never, ever make a joke that wouldI mean, I didn't think before I opened my mouth and.It was utterly inappropriatefuck, I am so sor-" She stopped her rant when she noticed Cullen's shoulders were shaking and his face was almost red with the effort it took not to laugh in her face. "You fucking bastard," she said as she shoved his chest hard. Cullen immediately exploded with laughter, buckling in the middle as she continued to chastise him. "That wasn't funny!" She yelled as the other smokers looked at the pair of them in complete shock and confusion. "I thought you were really pissed!" Isabella continued, ignoring the murmurs and whispers at her side.

Cullen took a breath in between his chuckles and wiped at the laughter tears at the corners of his eyes for dramatic effect. "Oh Peaches," he breathed with a shake of his head as he continued to shake with amusement. "That was the funniest fucking thing I've seen in a long time." "Well, I'm glad I amuse you," Isabella huffed as she crossed her arms over her chest. Cullen didn't take her sulk seriously when he saw the corner of her mouth twitch when he nudged her shoulder playfully with his own. Isabella couldn't help it. The sound of Cullen's laughter seemed to dissolve her from the inside out. A crush "We should go back in," she said quietly, not really wanting to. Cullen nodded, feeling the exact same way. Isabella pushed from the wall and started for the library doors. Cullen followed behind to see a large guy with an even larger bag, smack hard into Isabella, sending her small body flying. Cullen quickly grabbed her waist and pulled her upright against him before she tumbled completely. "Jesus," she muttered in anger at the man as her hand found Cullen's forearm around her. "Fucking watch it," the asshole sneered as he continued without a second glance muttering under his breath, "Blind bitch." Cullen saw red. Oh hell no motherfucker. Before Isabella could stop him, Cullen had taken three huge strides and had grabbed the asshole's wrist in such a way that the asshole spun around, wincing at the horrific pain that shot up his large arm. "What the fuck, man?" he exclaimed as he tried to pull from Cullen's grasp. "Cullen," Isabella called as she approached his side. Cullen ignored her and simply twisted the asshole's arm further. "You're gonna break my fucking wrist!" "And I will," Cullen growled, "if your fat fucking ass doesn't apologize to this lady." The low, even timbre of Cullen's voice screamed danger and sent chills up the asshole's back. "Cullen, I'm fine. It was an accident," Isabella continued nervously. She looked down at the wrist in his hand, knowing that it wouldn't be long before the inevitable snap rang around them. She couldn't believe how fucking scary Cullen looked. His back was poker straight and his stare was so intense she was surprised that he hadn't burnt holes into the guy's face. This was the Cullen she had first met: alpha, strong and lethal. He was terrifyingly magnificent. The asshole opened his mouth but no sound emerged. "Apologize," Cullen ordered through lips that barely moved.

"I'm sorry," Asshole gasped but Cullen kept his grip. Isabella's eyes widened. "Cullen he apologized. Let him go." Cullen smirked at the fear in the asshole's eyes before - squeezing once more for good measure - he released him. The asshole stumbled back, clutching his wrist to his chest. Isabella saw the redness of his skin immediately. "I'm sorry," she muttered to the man as he grappled for his bag that he had dropped on the floor. He picked it up and moved quickly away from her and the fucking psycho at her side. Isabella spun around, glaring at Cullen whose eyes still hadn't moved from the fat bastard who had pushed his Peaches. "What the fuck was that?" she hissed, poking him in the chest; surprising him with the force of it. Before he could answer she had stormed off back towards the reading room. By the time he had reached her she was throwing her belongings around the table, a look of fury on her face. "What are you doing?" he asked, his voice still low, as he scratched his forearm. She couldn't be mad at him for defending her! Could she? She didn't answer him as she threw herself down onto her chair. "Are you mad?" he asked incredulously with his palms open at his sides. "We have work to do," she snapped as she slammed a hand down onto his copy of the poem. Cullen felt his annoyance rear up and crossed his arms over himself. "I asked you a question," he spat. "Yes, I'm fucking mad," she shot back in a low hiss that, despite her best efforts, echoed around them. "Why?" "Why?" "Yes. Why are you mad?" Cullen repeated slowly as though she was stupid. Her ingratitude made his skin crawl while her temper made his dick harder than titanium. Isabella clenched her fists and spoke through gritted teeth. "I'm mad because you just nearly broke a man's wrist in the middle of the fucking library because you're an idiot who seems to have forgotten his dumb fucking ass is on parole and can't keep his fucking temper." She watched as the fire behind Cullen's pupils erupted once again into an all out inferno and, before she could take another breath or realize that he was furious, he was leaning over her, his hands gripping the rests of the seat she was sitting in, trapping her against the leather at her back. She leaned away from him but he simply moved closer. His breath was heavy and hot across her neck. She felt her eyes roll slightly as the smell of nicotine and something that was inherently and undeniably Cullen, wafted over her.

"Have you quite finished?" he seethed, his eyes boring into hers. Beautiful, brown and wide, she never blinked. "Yes," she retorted with a slight sassy dip of her head. "Well then, let me tell you something about my dumb ass. I don't like fat fucks like that touching things that don't fucking belong to them." Belong? Isabella opened her mouth but Cullen stopped her by continuing. "You're ungrateful ass would have been smeared across the library floor had I not caught you, and that cunt back there will now think twice about treating any woman that way again, so don't fucking bitch to me about shit that I should and shouldn't do. You're my tutor not my fucking keeper. Get that shit right, right now." His body heaved with the breathes he was taking and the rage that was still flying through his veins. Isabella watched as his nostrils flared and his tongue wet his bottom lip. She wanted to suck on it. Cullen saw the flash in her eyes and felt his heart kick up a gear. He looked at her mouth, lingering on the pucker in the middle of it. He wondered what it would taste like. "Are you afraid?" he asked quietly; dangerously. Isabella swallowed. Was she afraid of him? Maybe. Did she think that he would hurt her? No. She shook her head and Cullen smirked. A light feeling that felt suspiciously like relief slipped down his back "You should be," he said as he looked down again at her mouth unknowingly making her pussy weep. "You have no idea what I'm capable of." His dick twitched at the thought of what he could do to her. His gaze almost shifted to the table at their side but, he thought wryly, that would be pushing it. Isabella gasped softly at the double meaning behind his words but managed to keep control. She couldn't allow herself to fawn and behave like a harlot around him. She knew better. "When you're done with yourthreats," she mumbled through an almost blocked throat, "We have work to do." Cullen's smirk remained as he gradually released the chair and stood up straight. He glanced at the flush on Peaches' chest and immediately worried that he had frightened her. He didn't let himself worry about it for long however. Hell, maybe it was a good thing that he did? He couldn't let her forget that he was a bad man even if he wished - for her sake - that he wasn't. He took his seat, took a breath and reached for the poem while Isabella adjusted her top and ran a hand through her hair. Her heart was pounding. "Read through it," she said with authority clear in her voice. All playfulness had gone and Cullen couldn't help but feel annoyed at him self for being the cause of it. "Highlight the lines, phrases, words that you like and we'll discuss it once you're done."

He didn't acknowledge that he had heard her but began doing what she had asked. Isabella let her gaze wander over him once more. He was beautiful but under that was something dark and dangerous and she had to keep remembering that. She was utterly thrown by the man before her. How could he go from being so charming, so funny, to almost breaking a man and behaving like an animal? She was so fucking confused and disappointed in the feelings that were ransacking her body as she watched him. She had never felt desire like it. It was hot, fiery lust that seemed to rush through her veins like lava and as much as she tried to extinguish it, the hotter it burned. She looked at his mouth. For one split second she truly thought that he was going to kiss her and by Christ she would have let him do it. And more. "Stupid," she muttered to herself again. After fifteen minutes of tense silence that was only broken by the sound of Cullen's pen sliding across the paper, he sat up and looked at Peaches. "Finished?" she asked to which he nodded. "So, what are your thoughts?" Cullen exhaled and cracked the middle finger of his left hand with his thumb. "It's about lust," he answered, keeping his eyes on the page. Trust her to choose this shit "Ok," Isabella answered, shifting her chair closer to his. "What about lust?" "Lust for his mistress," he explained. "He uses metaphors and likens his mistresses body to discovering new land," he indicated his view by half heartedly pointing at the poem with his finger. "He usesum, hyperbolereligious imagery by comparing sex to 'angels' and 'heaven'." Cullen rolled his eyes slightly. When the fuck was sex ever that way? "He wants to conquer her virgin body like the men who conquer virgin lands." He looked up at Peaches and blinked leisurely. "He wants to discover her." Isabella, through a haze of her own lust, smiled at his intellect and the fact that he knew so much so quickly. This was the Cullen she wanted more of. This was the Cullen that she dreamed about and liked. Her soft expression caught Cullen off guard. He blinked again before he exhaled down his nose. The light feeling in his body returned and he smiled back at her. "Look," he said gently as he sat forward in his seat. "Can we start over? Just forget that that shit happened and justyou know, be us?" The way that he said 'us' made Isabella's body smolder. She nodded slowly. "Sure," she replied in a whisper.

"Ok," he muttered. He allowed himself a split second to revel in the fact that the tension between them had once again changed. The heaviness of the fiery anger between them was almost oppressive. Fighting with her, as sex