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No longer distracted by the bulge in Edward's jeans, she tried to straighten out her robe. "I'll be right there!" she called out, hoping Esme heard her. She ran into the laundry room, managed to find some cut off shorts, and pulled them on along with a bra.

She used the time to clear her head. The faux story of her troubles away from her home replayed in her head. She had to make sure she didn't contradict herself. It was hard to lie to those she cared about, but if she wanted to stay alive and keep them safe, she had little choice in the matter. She still hadn't decided what to tell Edward. The man had her twisted up.

She pasted a pretty little smile on her face, hoping that dancing would be a plausible excuse for her flushed appearance. She could do little about the bird's nest Edward created with his hands but to finger comb it. She took a deep breath, composed herself and pulled the door open.

"Esme!" she said, and the woman in question immediately pulled her into her arms. Bella welcomed her warmth, despite the five-alarm fire in the kitchen only minutes before. It had been far too long since she felt an inkling of a mother's love.

"I thought something horrible happened to you."

"I left you a note," Bella tried to reason. Esme would have none of it.

"You left your purse here!"

"My license was with me, the one I had in that purse was an old one I thought I lost." Bella instantly came up with a plausible explanation, cursing herself for not grabbing it. "That's the curse of having too many cute purses and wallets." That part was true, at least. It was one of her indulgences in her past life and one that she tried to curb in her new one, with little success.

"But you wouldn't answer your calls!"

"I lost my phone and decided to change my number since it wasn't local," Bella stated, leading the distressed woman toward her kitchen. "Why don't you have a seat? I have a pot of coffee brewing now."

"Where's my son?" Esme asked as she followed Bella. "Has he said anything to you? Was he rude? He wasn't exactly happy to see that you left."

"He hasn't said much," Bella answered honestly. "But he apologized for leaving without a word."

Esme's eyes lit up and a smile spread, leaning forward to whisper. "Personally, I think he deserves it if you don't forgive him immediately. Play a little hard to get."

Bella hid her cringe and her red cheeks with her hair and turned away to grab a few things from one of her cabinets.

"I'll go check on him," Esme said, dropping her purse on the kitchen island.

"Don't," Bella said, holding up her hand. "He wasn't in the most talkative moods earlier."

"Oh no, he's angry."

"I hadn't called and I worried you," she said, hating how easily the lies fell from her lips. "Not sure, but maybe working for a bit will calm him down."

Esme agreed, and sat in one of the tall chairs and chatted for a few minutes with her. "Are you going to explain where you went so suddenly?"

Bella sighed and had to look away from Esme. There was so much affection and concern on her face. "There was a family emergency."

"I thought you didn't have any family."

That was true, but she already had the lie poised on her tongue. "That's true, but I meant, my best friend. She was like a sister to me. She passed recently, and I had to go sign some paperwork. Her old house sold."

Angela was dead because of her, but there was no way Bella could tell Esme that. The house that her only true friend left her had sold; that wasn't a lie, except that the sale happened months before. She left for another reason. One she couldn't divulge to the incredible woman in her kitchen.

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