Chapter 8

Her father returned about a week later and she was the first to greet him, throwing herself quite literally into his arms causing him to stumble backwards. The rest of the family had heard the door open and his grunt as she hit him at full forced and soon the whole family was gathered around, kissing and hugging him tightly.

'King Aro came to see me,' he told them as they were eating dinner and Isabella tensed. 'He told me the only reason he was letting me go was because his son had implored him to.'

The whole family looked surprised, even Isabella, though she could feel a smile creeping up on her face.

'I though you said the prince was a jerk, Izzy,' Rosalie remembered and Isabella looked up at her disinterestedly.

'Maybe he had a change of heart,' she muttered and Rosalie gasped.

'No!' she yelped. "You boy problem was about him!'

Everyone's heads swivelled to Isabella in surprised waiting for her to confirm or deny what Rosalie had said. Her face burned.

'I don't know what you're talking about Rose,' she replied but her blush had given her away.

'Izzy?' her father asked and she looked up into his blue eyes knowing she couldn't and shouldn't lie to him about this. She sighed heavily.

'Fine,' she complained, placing her knife and fork on the table. She pursed her lips and ran her tongue along the back of her teeth as she thought what to tell them. 'He loves me, Daddy, and I return that love.'

They all looked at her and she wondered what they were thinking, her face was still burning with their gazes. Her mother's sigh broken the silence.

'Oh, Izzy,' she said softly obviously understanding how her youngest must be feeling right now. A boy loved her and she loved him but she couldn't be with him because of his status. Her daughter avoided everyone's gaze - she was more a suffer in silence type.

'When's the wedding, Rose?' Isabella asked diagonally across table to her elder sister but she shook her head.

'No way, Izzy, we're talking about you right now,' Rosalie replied in her typical "I'm your elder sister, listen to me" voice. She was truly screwed if Rosalie wasn't going to take attention away from her. 'What were you thinking?'

'Rose,' Esmerelle warned softly.

'You must have known that could have only end badly!' Rosalie continued as though their mother hadn't spoken. 'You're supposed to be the clever one here, the logical one, the one who doesn't jump into things with thinking them through - where was your head?'

Jasper placed a hand on Isabella's under back, 'leave her alone, Rose. She was happy.'

Isabella looked at her father to see if she decipher from his eyes what he thought of this new bit of information but they were unfathomable. He reached out a hand for her and she placed her on in it allowing him to squeeze it gently.

Rosalie was ranting still.

'That's enough, Rose,' he said calmly. 'I'm sure Izzy had her reasons, like you said, she doesn't just jump into things.'

Isabella smiled up at her father as Rosalie closer her mouth, he gave her a soft smile but a look that job her that he wanted a word about this later. Dinner continued smoothly after that. Rosalie told them that she and Emmett wanted to get married in the summer soon after Isabella finished her exams. In fact, she and Emmett had spoken a great deal about the wedding. She wanted Isabella to be her maid of honour, which had resulted in Isabella hugging her and gushing in happiness. They wanted to have it in the family church which of course was agreed to without comment and she wanted them to all have dinner together before the wedding. This caused a bit more of a problem - anything that involved food always caused problems.

They stayed up late that night, trying to savour as much time with Carlisle as they could but eventually they fell back into their old ways. Her family still didn't understand what she had held for Alec but they let it go. They could see the pain not having him was causing her but she distracted herself: spent more time with her father than she had before, "making up for lost time" she said; she took up painting and learnt that she had inherited her mother's talent; taught her to play the piano; she immersed herself in books of other lands escaping into them whenever she had a spare minute so her brain couldn't wonder; and helped Rosalie as much as possible with the wedding. She never had a spare minute anymore and when she did she filled it instantly. The rest of the Cullen's were worried about her, worried that if she kept this up she would never be able to get over the prince but they couldn't find a way to help her.

Months passed and she passed her exams with flying colours - having transferred most of her time over to revision - she was a clever girl anyway and with all the preparation finished top of her year. She was proud of herself as was everyone for her but still her eyes didn't hold the same sparkle.

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