Chapter Forty-Eight: Confessions and Explorations

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Chapter Forty-Eight: Confessions and Explorations

Bella had been home from La Push for over an hour by the time I ghosted across her yard and through her open window. Her back to me, her shoulders hunched, she sat on her bed, cross-legged, earbuds in as she listened to Linkin Park on the iPod she had finally accepted from me.

Bella only listened to Linkin Park when she was upset, when she wanted to drown her thoughts.

This wasn't a good sign.

She hadn't noticed my presence yet, and I didn't alert her right away; instead, I seated myself soundlessly in her rocking chair. From this vantage point, with her back still to me, I could just glimpse her profile. As she listened to the loud, angry music, her hand crept up to scrub away another tear from her pale cheek.

I was no Jasper, but even I could sense her sorrow tonight. She must be regretting the harsh words she had spoken to Jacob. I had been more than a little surprised at her low blow regarding his age—she had called him a child, after all—and such cruel words in an unusually harsh tone were very unlike Bella.

Above all else, Bella wanted the people she loved to be happy, no matter the personal cost to herself. Her absolute, pure unselfishness was one of the many things I loved about her.

But I also recognized that her own well-being was at the bottom of her priorities. She cared for both of her parents as if she were the adult and they the children. Only seventeen, she cleaned their houses, shopped for and cooked their meals, even balanced their checkbooks so that they could spend their time doing the activities they enjoyed.

Bella also cared for her friends. She gently discouraged the persistent attentions of the male students of Forks High, dismissing her own charms as she seemed to puzzle over their crushes. Bella kindly skirted around Mike Newton's insistent flirting and endless requests for dates, not wanting to encourage him, yet she was simply too kind-hearted to discourage him permanently; she saw how crushing such a blow would be to his fragile ego. She was also perceptive enough to sense Jessica's hidden hypocrisy, yet Bella still treated her with the utmost kindness. Despite Lauren's barely-concealed malice, Bella still regarded her kindly as well. Bella's only truly worthy friend was Angela Weber, a friendship I encouraged as Angela's thoughts were among the kindest I had ever experienced. And Bella somehow ranked her wants and desires below each of her friends' needs; she was always there for them, no matter how some of them (i.e., the males) tried to take advantage of her kind heart. She always saw the best in everyone.

I sighed. Then there was Jacob, her friend from childhood. Why had she refused him so rudely tonight? It just wasn't like Bella to be deliberately unkind, even cruel. Such behavior was the antithesis of who she was.

We would have to talk about this tonight, but I had to be careful not to let on that I had followed her this evening in order to listen in on the happenings in the Black home. Although I was not the least bit ashamed of my stalker-like behavior as I had committed these acts in order to protect her, I also knew that Bella would not see this evening from my perspective.

As she wiped away yet another tear, I gently cleared my throat from my seat in her rocking chair, trying not to startle her. At the familiar sound, Bella spun around on her bed, wreaking havoc on her quilt and almost falling to the floor in her astonishment at my sudden and silent appearance. Breathing hard, she placed one delicate hand over her pounding heart, her mouth hanging slightly agape.

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