The Twilight Saga

5 years after Breaking Dawn: Edward and Bella enroll in college courses at Dartmouth once Renesme is fully grown. Now that he is a husband and a father, Edward is no longer content to hold onto his previous assertions that vampires are automatically damned. He chooses to study theology, delving into the spiritual mysteries that Carlisle accepts so readily, looking for answers to his own questions and fears of the future.

A second story is intertwined with the first involving an "Anne of Green Gables-inspired" romance between Jacob and Renesme and her search for the meaning of love. They experience their own growing pains as their relationship evolves.

The Volturi launch a new attack on the Cullens, with the goal of capturing and turning as many of the ‘talented’ family as possible. And it isn't until Bella is snatched away by something much darker than himself, that Edward must really rely on the faith he once shunned.

Hope you like it! Please comment! I appreciate your help and support!

Here is a guide to where to find the chapters:

Page 1 - Chp. 1-14
Page 3 - Chp 15-16
Page 5 - Chp 17
Page 6 - Chp 18-19
Page 8 - Chp. 20
Page 12- Chp. 21
Page 17- Chp. 22-23
Page 21- Chp. 24-25
Page 26- Chp. 26-27
Page 33 - Chp. 27-29

I found Nessie lying on the grass in the sun with a book, her dark silky curls splayed out like a chocolate river around her. I reached out and pulled one of the springy curls.

“Owch!” She cried, her chestnut eyes flashing.

“Whatya reading?”

She wrinkled her nose at me and then beckoned me to her. She touched my hand and she allowed me to see what was happening in the story, the characters were wearing nineteen hundreds outfits and the scenery looked like Prince Edward Island. Nessie’s gift of projecting her thoughts into my head was definitely better than reading the book myself!

“Hey, Is that Anne of Green Gables?” I asked.
She nodded.
“What a total chick novel!” I laughed. “ So what do you think of Gilbert, the guy Anne grows up with? Do you think she’ll marry him?” I asked teasingly.

“I don’t know” she replied, “I haven’t gotten to the end, but I don’t think so. He irks her. I mean - he is just like a brother to her. How can you fall in love with a guy who was around when you were practically toilet training??” She rolled her eyes.

I suddenly became cold, which is hard for me to do since my temp usually runs a regular 108.9 degrees. I sat in shock for a moment. Ness was describing us. I mean I had been there when she was born for crying out loud. However, I never aged, not as long as I was regularly changing into my wolf form and back again. She however, was aging quickly. After just 5 years of life she was nearly full grown, with the look of a 15 or 16 year old. She was a one of a kind half human, half vampire. Well, nearly one of a kind. There were only a few others like her in the world. I loved her like nothing else mattered. But what did she feel about me? Was I really just like a brother to her?

“Renesme!” A call from Nessie’s mother Bella, and my best friend, interrupted my thoughts.

“Race ya” Ness challenged, throwing her book aside. We sprinted to the cottage her mom and dad, Edward, lived in.

“Beat ya!” Ness yelled with a smile as she opened the door. I was too preoccupied to really run my best right now.

“We are going to have a family meeting if you don’t mind”, said Edward, eyeing me.

“Jacob’s family, too”, said Nessie. Bella nodded her assent.

We all sat down as Edward pulled out a packet of papers.

“As you know, Bella and I were accepted at Dartmouth College a few year back, but then you came along”, he said looking at Nessie.

“We’ve honestly overstayed our time in Forks. Your granddad Carlise should be looking over thirty by now and he still looks the same 23 years old he did when we came here 10 years ago. There have been several staff at the hospital with growing concerns about it. The rest of us are in the same situation – except we all still look like teenagers. We feel it is finally time for us to move on – to college.”

“What about me?”, Nessie asked, suddenly concerned.

“You will be going to college too. We had thought to enroll you in a high school but realize you would be so incredibly bored it wouldn’t be worth it. I took some of the essays you had written in homeschool and sent in an application for you.” He paused, judging her reaction. “You were accepted, of course.”

“Where?”, Nessie beamed.

“Dartmouth”. was the reply.

My world started spinning. That was clear on the other side of the United States. New Hampshire??? Could they move any further without going to another country??? What about me! I couldn’t leave the pack. Was this another tactic to loose me? I suddenly got up and stormed out the door.

“What’s gotten into him?” said the melodic voice of Renesme.

Chp 2 Jacob

I sat in our favorite spot, overlooking the cliffs, the beach and the ocean. All of my time
with Nessie was spinning through my head. The brighter-than-sun smile on her two year old face when I gave her “wolf rides”, her tinkling laugh as she grasped my fur and I ran with her for miles.

Her five year old mischievous face when she watched at me from the corner of her eye to judge my reaction when she ran and jumped off the high cliff into the ocean. How we splashed around at the bottom of the cliff, exhilarated, making faces at each other under the water.

The way her kitten like face looked at me when she had once climbed too far up a spruce tree and did not think she could get down. Then the trust in her eyes when she leaped into my arms.

The hours I spent tutoring her in her schoolwork at the Cullens house, though, really she ended up tutoring me. “No Jacob,” she would say, her 8 year old voice sounding more like an adult, “The answer is 469. You forgot to multiply first, then add.”

The thousands of walks along LaPush beach, building extravagant sand castles and having water fights. Her shrill screams of delight when I would chase her and tickle her mercilessly.

I loved her with all my being. I awoke every morning with only her on my mind and slept every night with the vision of her before me. But now that she had developed and matured into nearly a woman, only two years younger, physically speaking, than I was, I wanted more. I wanted her forever. I wanted her physically – ever fiber in my being cried out for it. I wanted her to love me as I loved her.

Just then Nessie placed her hand on my back, and warm shivers ran up my spine. In my mind I saw my face from her perspective and saw the sadness and grief in it. The picture changed and she showed me my face just hours earlier when we were teasing and talking about her book, my face full of delight and adoration.

“No, Nessie,” I murmured, “It is not so simple as that. I can’t help the way I feel right now. I feel like I am losing you.” Then I turned to her, my mind made up to let her know how I truly felt.

“Ness-“, I started, taking her hand, on one knee before her looking up at her face. “I love you. I want you to be my wi-“

She withdrew her hand, looked away and turned her body to the side. “No, Jacob,” she said, “Please don’t say anything more. I don’t want things to change between us.”

“So you truly do not love me?” I faltered.

“No, I do love you Jacob, but not the way you want.”

“Do you think you would ever change your mind?” I whispered.

She looked out over my head to the place where the ocean met the sky, her eyes moist and wistful. “No, I can’t promise anything, Jacob. I have dreams and things I want to see and accomplish. I want to see diamond sunburst and marble halls. Find my Romeo and be swept off my feet. Those things can’t happen here” she said disdainfully. “I will always love Forks, I will always love this place, but I can’t stay here forever. I’m still searching.”

My face fell as she walked away and I felt acid wash down my insides.

Pulsing with anguish, I phased into my wolf form and ran into the darkness of the wet, verdant forest. Why was this happening to me? She was my imprint. I had spent thousands of moments from her earliest days adoring and cherishing her! How could she reject me? I couldn’t just let her go! She belonged to me! I slowed my run as I padded up to the stream running across my path. I lowered my head to see my reflection in the water.

As I studied myself, I saw selfishness and greed written all over my face. I wanted Ness to make me happy. Would she truly be content away from me? Probably could be. I had made her mother pretty miserable in the past. I sighed, but it came out like a whimper. I folded my paws under my torso and lowered my head to the soft, mossy ground.

Time to think about doing something right. What was right anyway? Ensuring Renesme was happy. Taking her by force, sulking, whining or demanding were all out. They would only serve to manipulate her emotions resulting in her resentment of me. Following her would only frustrate her. She did not want someone who reminded her of a brother following her around like a lost puppy. The reflection I saw in the water resembled just that, a dog with a solitary tear running down its cheek. I sighed or rather whimpered again. I knew what love had to do. I had to let her go.

Chp 3 Bella

The three of us, Edward, Renesme, and I, were walking down the steps of McNutt Hall of Admissions with our class schedules. We had just arrived in Hanover, New Hampshire. The fall weather was crisp and invigorating, the leaves were just beginning to turn. It was a cloudy, overcast day, so we were able to move about freely outside.

Carlisle had taken a position as a professor of medicine at Dartmouth. I knew he would be a great teacher. With his experience, the students here were really going to benefit. Alice and Rosalie had found employment working in fashion and design nearby. Jasper and Emmet had taken positions as junior park rangers for the vast forest that surrounded the outskirts of Dartmouth College.

I tried not to think about Jacob. His face at the airport was almost too much to bear when he saw us all taking off. I promised him we would visit but that did not seem to console him much.

Renesme was undecided on a major, but was taking 5 languages, including Spanish and Portuguese, since she loved to communicate. She often felt handicapped when she was not allowed to use her special gift of communicating with her mind with humans. She hoped learning more languages would help. I had chosen literature as a major, since I still loved to read and could do so much more quickly and retaining much more than I ever had before I became one of the Cullens. Edward’s choice surprised me. I thought he might choose music or medicine, but it turned out he already had two degrees in medicine and several in music. This time he had chosen to study theology.

“So you are still worrying about your soul?” I asked Edward regarding his choice of major, a crease of concern coming across my face.

“I suppose you could say that”, he replied not meeting my gaze.

“How can you be so concerned?” I half –laughed, “We are immortal, after all”

Edward became serious then, like a heavy weight was on his shoulders. “I have been thinking about this quite a bit.” He paused, not sure how to go on.

“We do not die as easily and as quickly as human, but we can die.” Emotion flashed across his face. “Do you not remember Irina? How she was killed nearly instantaneously before our eyes? Or what of Bree, the newborn who only lived as an ‘immortal’ only a few weeks at most?”

“Yes, but the Volturi did that.” I argued. “We stay far away and we have no reason to worry.”

“No,” Edward stood his ground. “Even if we stay away, we always will live with the fear that they will come back. I saw in Aro’s thoughts how much he wanted you, wanted Alice. I saw how Caius wanted to destroy Renesme. They are afraid of what we have, our family and our way of life. They feel threatened that we, and others like the Denali, can live without the bloodlust they have. They resent our close ties. They want to annihilate that.”

“No, Edward. Please stop you are scaring Renesme”

“What I am saying is true. And she is of age. She needs to know.” Then he deliberated a moment. “I too am responsible for taking the life of so-called immortals as well.”

“What? If you mean James and Victoria, how can you be sorry about that?” I raised my voice.

“No, my love”, his voice softened, his golden eyes glowing. “I will never be sorry about stopping them. But there was always the chance that I or one of my family could’ve been the one to lose the fight.”

“So you need to find out what happens after this life?” I said gently, realizing that there was no stopping Edward once he decided on something.

“Yes, and I want to make sure it will be with you” He stopped on the steps there and reached out to grasp my hand in his left and Renesme’s in his right, his angelic face nearly glowing with determination.

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Is this a new one?????
Ok, so I'm just getting started and so far I really like what I'm reading. I feel so sad for Jake. I hope he gets another chance at happiness...
Is this the continuation of " The Search" ?
Chp. 4 Renesme

I flopped on my bed, my laptop open. I still had nearly twenty pages left to write for my mid quarter project – all in Russian. I traced the pattern on the lavendar bedspread that grandma Esme had made for me. It had only been four weeks since school started, but it seemed like an eternity. My parents allowed me to room on campus with human roommates. My dormitory, named LaCasa, was for Spanish majors and we were only allowed to speak in Spanish when in the house. As easy as languages came for me, it was tiresome to speak all the time. It was so much easier to touch someone and show them what I meant by using my “gift”. I grimaced. What was the use of having a gift you couldn’t even use?? I knew, however, that if I did use it I really freaked people out. Once I was concentrating on one of my essays and Stacy came up behind me and put her hand on my shoulder - then screamed. Later she said she was experiencing de ja vu, but I knew the truth. She had seen my thoughts.

This was by and far the most humans I had ever been around in my entire life. Other than Grampa Charlie and the few LaPush folks like Emily, Sue or Billy, I spent my time with only vampires and werewolves. Thinking of Billy makes me think of Jacob. Well, pretty much everything makes me think of Jake. Even the food. Right now I am so sick of human food, especially cafeteria food! I miss hunting with Jacob, spending time with Jacob, joking with Jacob, swimming with Jacob… I have never been surrounded by so many people and yet so alone.

I have been invited to countless parties, meals, dancing – it’s like people look at me and then won’t leave me alone. It’s flattering, but I rarely have time to myself. The boys here are especially attentive. If I had a dollar for how many times I’ve been asked if I want to go get a drink…. I laughed at the thought.. I’ve been sent flowers, candy, and even received a few marriage proposals. But though some suitors seemed romantic and dashing at first, I could tell they really weren’t interested in me, only the idea of me. Not like my Jacob. He is, to borrow the phrase from Anne of Green Gables, a kindred spirit. Someone who understands me. Someone with whom I can be myself. Oh Jacob, how I miss you so much. In my mind’s eye I saw his smile like the sun and his tanned arms picking me up and then I saw him phase into a wolf and let me climb on his back and nestle my face in his fur and run with me through the forest.
Just then my cell phone rang.

“Jake, its you! How did you – ?”

“Nessie, I don’t want to sound vain, but were you thinking of me just now?”
“Well, yes” I answered, amazed. “How did you know?”

“I just saw your pictures in my head. Me as a wolf. You on my back. Do you think it is possible for us to communicate long distance without touching?”

“I-I don’t know. I didn’t think that was possible”

“Well, what were you doing just now that made it work?”

Missing him terribly. But I didn’t want to say that. So I answered, “I’m not sure, but maybe I could try it again with you on the phone. Tell me when you see something.”

I then imagined the two of us walking along the cliffs and then holding hands and jumping off into the crystal clear water. And then we started swimming…

“I see us jumping off the cliffs!” He yelled, his voice full of joy. “Oh, now I don’t see anything”

“Oops. I lost my concentration when you called out there just now. It’s kind of hard to keep the focus up. Sorry”

“Oh don’t be sorry” I could hear the smile in his voice, “You can try again whenever you feel up to it.” He paused. “You know I was thinking about you, too. Did you check your mail today by chance?”

“No, not yet, but I can right now if you want…Ok I am walking down to the lobby …I am opening the mailbox….Oh there is a package in here. I guess it is from you, right?…OK I am opening it…. Wow! ”

Inside was a candy apple red ipod, several ornately carved wooden hair clips with nature motifs, and a silver bracelet with a tiny, perfect, carved wooden wolf dangling off the chain.

“Oh Jacob, these are so beautiful.”

“I slaved for hours whittling and carving for you! You should see the calluses I got from holding the knife”

“Did you carve the ipod, too?”

“Ha! No, but I did put all our favorite songs on there, about 50 hours worth. Figured you would need some study music”

“Wow, thanks so much. I was missing you so much. This really helps.”

We talked some more and then reluctantly we hung up. I started to open the other mail as I walked back up to my room, when I saw the letter. I nearly did a back flip when I read it, but Senorita Carmen was starting to come down the hallway. I grabbed my phone and dialed Jake back.

“Guess what? You’ll never guess!! Oh I am so excited!!”

Chp. 5 Jacob

My face fell as we hung up the phone for the second time. I guess I would have to cancel the plane tickets I purchased to make a surprise visit to Ness next week. She would be gone by then. I would be angry - except that she sounded so happy. And that is what is most important to me. I am not going to give up, but I will give her the space she needs. Only this amount of space seems too great to bear! Venezuela. She was accepted to the Amazon study abroad program. Even though it was only for three weeks, she had now doubled the distance between us, as if the first 3,000 miles apart weren’t far enough. As I thought these words, my stomach tightened and I crumpled face down into my bed.
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gosh! miss Lisa ever! you are so talented!
ooh good! i like your writing. keep going!
Chp 6. Bella

We were sitting with our Ancient Greek literature study group in the Thayer Hall Food Court. Edward had insisted that we have at least one class together and this was perfect – religious literature! Although, I still preferred my classic romances, it was worth it to be in the same class as Edward. The professor had assigned us a group project comparing and analyzing Greek manuscripts. Nicole and Jim were discussing Homer’s Illiad - but I was watching Edward. His face was intent, but not on the conversation in front of us. I could tell he was listening to the thoughts of a petite, short-haired blonde girl sitting by herself at the next table. My eyes followed his to see her bent over her plate of food, hands folded, lips moving slightly. She was praying.

“So do you remember from the lecture the difference between the Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus?” asked Nicole, jarring me from my preoccupation.

“Um, Oh”, I stuttered looking at her, recovering quickly, “The Codex Sinaiticus was the only complete New Testament where the Vaticanus is not quite complete, both date to about 350 A.D .”

Edward looked at me smiling. “If you would excuse us, Nicole, Jim, we need to go now. We have class in 10 minutes”

“We’ll try and get together again to work on this project”, I chimed.

As soon as we were away, I turned to him. “Just what were you doing staring at that blonde girl!” I said, my voice rising.

“I was intrigued by what she was thinking. She has recently been diagnosed with cancer. A very malignant kind that kills rapidly. Yet, she was thanking God! Thanking Him! She had no fear in her mind. She actually seemed excited about the prospect of death.” He was suddenly silent.

I was growing tired of these religious moments with Edward. We walked on in silence until our paths diverged to our respective seven ’o’clock classes.

Chp 7 Edward

I walked down the spartan corridor of Reed Hall, the Comparative Literature building, to room 106. My class had let out early, but Bella’s professor was still pontificating on the finer points of Japanese Haiku. I caught Bella’s eye and smiled. I sensed she was disturbed by my comments earlier at the Food Court and I wanted to explain myself. When we were safely out and walking hand in hand along the tree-lined sidewalk, I confessed.

“Bella, I just don’t feel satisfied.”

Her eyes widened, then a crease came across her brow.

“Please let me explain.” I did not want Bella to take this the wrong way. I did not want her to feel that she was to blame for my lack of satisfaction. On the contrary, no one could satisfy me like she did. I guided her over to the wrought iron bench under the shadow of the tall, stately Baker Clock Tower.

“You see, I have everything already”, I said, taking both her hands in mine. “I have more than enough money, fast cars, decades of education. I’ve traveled the world, have the most wonderful, loving family, -even a daughter I never thought would be possible. And far, far more than any of that, I found you, Bella, my perfect match. You satisfy me – you are everything I spent the last century looking for- but please don’t take this as an affront, but now that I have even you, I still can’t help this feeling of discontent. That there is something more I need.”

“And what do you think that is?,” she asked quietly.

“I am not sure,” I wavered. “But I’ve been reading some C.S Lewis, and he is starting to make a great deal of sense to me. He writes, ‘If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning; just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning’”

A smile now played on my lips as I looked into Bella’s golden eyes. “Well, what do you make of it? Have I really gone mad? ”

She was thoughtful for a moment. “I think I see what you are saying. You wouldn’t have this desire in you to search unless there really was something there.” Now she smiled in return. “I hope you find what you are searching for” She paused a moment, meeting my eyes, “And I hope to find it with you.”
Chp. 8 Edward

We left the Clock Tower and walked west toward home. I dreaded this walk. Not because I had to walk at a human pace and not because cars were not allowed on campus. I hated it because we had to walk down fraternity row. At this time of the evening with the fall weather not yet cold enough to keep the frat boys inside, we were hit with the stares and even worse, the thoughts of these red-blooded college men.

Human males could never get used to the allure of my Bella, my wife. Nor could I. Not that she didn’t attract attention before as a human. I knew full well her draw on the teenage boys from her first entrance at Forks High School. But ever since she was changed, she was even more tempting to the male species. As we walked down Webster Avenue past the Greek houses, it was all I could do to contain myself. Seeing their lecherous eyes appraise my wife; hearing their thoughts linger on all the parts of her body that were for my eyes only. I placed one arm protectively across her shoulder, as if that were enough to keep the battery of lustful thoughts off of her. Then I realized she already had her own shield for that, as she fortunately could not hear their thoughts. Still I desired to protect her anyway, no matter how futile. She was mine.

We walked as quickly as we could without drawing attention. I was trying my best to drown the din of wanton musings and control my over-protective anger at the same time – when I stopped short.

Bella looked up at me sharply, confusion clouding her face, as if to say “Why are we stopping?”
“Someone wants to speak to us,” I whispered. We both looked in the direction of a familiar student, well familiar to me, he was in my Tuesday/Thursday History of Zen Buddism class. His thoughts were unfamiliar, however, since there were so many in the lecture hall and I didn’t sit near him. He approached us tentatively, descending the wooden steps of the porch of the Sigma Theta Epsilon House.

“Hello!”, he called, his face open and friendly, with a smattering of freckles across his nose. “I’m Kevin”, he said offering out his hand to me. “I see you all the time in Zen class - and walking by here every evening.” He didn’t seem to react to my cold hand when he shook it.

“I’m Edward and this is my wife, Bella”

“Pleased to meet you, Bella” he said, shaking her hand gently. If only he knew she wasn’t as breakable as she looked! I let him shake her hand because his thoughts were so pure, so kind. He was concerned that we did not have any friends on campus. He had noticed that no one talked to me or sat by me in class. He always saw us hurrying along the street by his house, never with anyone else. He did think that Bella was beautiful, but the thought stopped at just that, no more.

“Well, I suppose you are probably in a hurry somewhere, but we are having brats and metts out back. There’s plenty on the grill. We’re also playing a Trivia game, and judging by your performance in our class, I would love to have you on my team.” He smiled contagiously.

I smiled back. “Well, we have eaten already, Kevin, but we might join you for Trivia. Bella, what do you think?”

“I’m game”, she replied politely, her eyes looking at me as if to say “What’s all this about?”

This was the first time anyone on campus had ever spoken to us without provocation. The Greek Lit project group was required, so that didn’t count. No one else in a solid month had even dared come near us. We were cold, pale, alien beings in this university of warm-blooded youthfulness. I was so intrigued by Kevin’s boldness that I had to accept his offer. I was curious about his thoughts.
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Chp. 9 Bella

Not sure why Edward was accepting this invitation into a frat house, I followed him to the porch and through the front door, my curiosity piqued. We entered a typical college living room. A faded, secondhand couch, a ripped, out-of-syle plaid easy chair and multiple empty soda cans made up the décor of the otherwise plain room. We exited out back through the tiny kitchen into the back porch and yard. A group of students were playing volleyball towards the back of the yard while others were gathered around the food. The grill was smoking filling the air with the sizzling smell of brats and metts, A large table held chips, dips, cookies, and drinks. To the right on the expansive back porch was the Trivia game set up. They had a laptop hooked up to a projector that was focused on an old white sheet hanging from the roof of the porch. Tables were set up in groups of four around the makeshift move screen. I scanned the crowd. I recognized a few faces from my literature classes, one of them waved shyly at me. Then a petite, short-haired blonde girl came up to me.

“Hello, I’m Holly” she said, “I see Kevin picked you two up off the street” She smiled infectiously. It was then I realized that she was the same girl that Edward had been staring at in the Food Court, the one with cancer. Her face had fine, perfect features, and her hair was just like Alice’s, short and spiky. She even had dark circles under her eyes, like Alice, but that was most likely due to her illness. In addition to her enthusiastic mannerisms, she could’ve passed as Alice’s sister, only blonde. I felt instantly comfortable around her.

We chatted a bit. Her major was astrophysics and she hailed from Arizona. I told her about growing up in Phoenix and then moving to Washington. She was easy to talk to and a good listener. After a while, we sat down on two white plastic chairs and surveyed the activities of the party in a comfortable silence. She reminded me of my friend Angela Weber from Forks, then. She never felt the need to fill a silence with chatter. This was nice.

Just then Kevin waved us over to the empty table around the trivia screen. Edward, Holly and I sat down and the game began. We won the game, but not by much. The other teams were pretty good. I could tell Edward was enjoying himself. By using the computer to generate the questions, he had no way of knowing the right answer for sure. The only advantage he had was that he could read the thoughts of his competitors. This made the victory a little sweeter for him since he was not forced to cheat as it were.

We were heartily congratulated by all the other teams and repeatedly invited to come back next week. I had never felt so accepted and welcomed anywhere before other than with the Cullens.

Edward and I ran home under the cover of darkness now, so no one noticed how fast we were running. He gave me a boisterous kiss when we got to the door of the house he had bought for us here in Hanover. I had not seen him in such high spirits in awhile. He unlocked the door and whisked me away to our bedroom. If this was the result of playing Trivia at frat houses, I’d be a regular attendee.

---- ------------------------------------
Chp. 10 Bella
After that night, we started a tradition of playing Trivia every Friday at the Sigma Theta Epsilon house. As usual we were greeted warmly by everyone, offered food and drinks a million times, and seemed to be accepted without fear or suspicion. Edward kept going back because he was intrigued by the thoughts of those around us.
“Why are they so accepting? Why don’t they fear? Why do they even care about us?” He would wonder aloud to me.

I heard him talk often to Kevin about spiritual things. At first, I thought it was just because they were both religion majors, but then I sensed it was really because Edward kept asking so many questions. How can a good God allow evil to happen? What do you think happens after we die? Don’t all religions teach basically the same thing?

Kevin and some of the other guys would get really into the discussion. They had some very strong opinions, but I never felt they judged Edward for his. Quite the opposite. They actually seemed as eager to listen as to speak. And I had to admit, some of the answers they gave to Edward’s questions really made more sense than I expected.

One night we stayed late and most of the regular partygoers had gone home. A cool evening breeze was blowing, signaling that fall was beginning to turn into winter. Kevin, Holly, Edward and I were still sitting around our Trivia table reveling in yet another undefeated game night, the faint porch light illuminating our faces.

Holly’s face was not as animated as it once was. The circles under her eyes had grown darker, her hair thinner. All the effects of the cancer treatments, I was sure. Yet her spirit still seemed so full of life. She was always offering to lend a hand to someone else even when she needed to be taking care of herself. She was always encouraging, even when she was most likely under a heavier burden. Suddenly a question popped out of my mouth I didn’t mean to ask.

“What makes you so different from the other students on this campus?” Oops. It was too late to take it back. I glanced at Edward, wondering how these two would take my question.

“I suppose we could ask you the same question,” Kevin answered with his typical contagious smile, making me feel at ease.

Holly shot Kevin a look I couldn’t interpret, then looked me eye-to-eye with a little smile. She said two words I never thought I would hear in the university as part of the answer. She just looked back at me and said, “Jesus Christ.”

“Oh, I understand,” I said, but not really understanding, “I know so many of you study religion and go to church.”

“No, Bella,” Holly said gently, “I didn’t say religion or church made me different. I said the person of Jesus Christ.”

I must’ve looked shocked, because the next instant I felt Edward elbowing me. I carefully composed my face and smiled, embarrassed.

“Bella, I hope you don’t think we’re nuts,” Kevin interjected, “But this is something I’ve really thought about and researched quite a bit. I used to believe it was all fairy tales. But then again, some fairy tales can turn out to be true.”

I must’ve looked shocked again, but recovered more quickly this time. What Kevin said couldn’t have been more true! If anyone knew about fairy tales coming true, it would be me.

Just then Kevin slipped something out of his coat pocket. It was a small leather bound book. He handed it to Edward.

“I just thought you might like to have this. It is the Old and New Testament manuscripts, all written in the original Hebrew and Greek.” He smiled then, “I figured with your uncanny ability to read ancient languages fluently you might enjoy this!”

Edward looked pleasantly surprised, even though I knew he had to have known about this little gift. “Thanks,” he said simply, slipping the book into the pocket of his own coat. “I think I’ll do a little research of my own.”

Chp. 11 Ness

The plane was soaring over the blue and green waters of the Atlantic. I could make out the lush, tropical landscape of Venezuela. I was getting excited. There were so many firsts. First time leaving the country. First time to study abroad. First time away from family. First time for _____. I wasn’t sure what was ahead. And I liked it. As we exited the plane, the hot, humid air hit me with a stifling blast and was shocking in contrast to the cool air conditioning of the plane. Island music was being played by a live steel drum band as we entered the concourse. Stacy, my roommate, peered around my shoulder.

“Who’s that incredibly hot-?” she asked, her question fading off as her mouth hung open, staring at the young man with the impossibly rich, dark brown skin. He was wearing a crisp linen shirt, open at the top revealing a smooth sinuous chest. He was holding an exquisite bouquet of tropical orchids and a sign that read “Renesme”.

Now it was my turn for my jaw to drop. His eyes, the color of warm teak, met mine and something like a fire began to smolder deep inside me.


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