I cooked this morning, frying up some eggs - too hungry to do anything more elaborate. Impatient, I flipped them onto a plate after just a few minutes.

"Since when do you eat eggs sunny-side up?" he asked.

"Since now."

"Do you know how many eggs you've gone through in the last week?" He pulled the trash bin out from under the sink - it was full of empty blue cartons.

"Weird," I said after swallowing a scorching bite. "This place is messing with my appetite." And my dreams, and my already dubious balance. "But I like it here. Well probably have to leave soon, though, won't we, to make it to Dartmouth in time? Wow, I guess we need to find a place to live and stuff, too."

He sat down next to me. "You can give up the college pretense now - you've gotten what you wanted. And we didn't agree to a deal, so there are no strings attached."

I snorted. "It wasn't a pretense, Edward. I don't spend my free time plotting like some people do. What can we do to wear Bella out today?" I said in a poor impression of his voice. He laughed, unashamed. "I really do want a little more time being human." I leaned over to run my hand across his bare chest. "I have not had enough."

He gave me a dubious look. "For this?" he asked, catching my hand as it moved down his stomach. "Sex was the key all along?" He rolled his eyes. "Why didn't i think of that?" he muttered sarcastically. "I could have saved myself a lot of arguments."

I laughed. "Yeah, probably."

"You are so human," he said again.

"I know."

A hint of a smile pulled at his lips. "We're going to Dartmouth? Really?"

"I'll probably fail out in one semester."

"I'll tutor you." The smile was wide now. "You're going to love college."

"Do you think we can find an apartment this late?"

He grimaced, looking guilty. "Well, we sort of already have a house there. You know, just in case."

"You bought a house?"

"Real estate is a good investment."

I raised one eyebrow and then let it go. "So we're ready, then."

"I'll have to see if we can keep your 'before' car for a little longer___"

"Yes, heaven forbid I not be protected from tanks."

He grinned.

"How much longer can we stay?" I asked.

"We're fine on time. A few more weeks, if you want. And then we can visit Charlie before we go to New Hampshire. We could spend Christmas with Renee___"

His words painted a very happy immediate future, one free of pain for everyone involved. The Jacob-drawer, all but forgotten, rattled, and i amended the thought - for almost everyone.

This wasn't getting any easier. Now that I'd discovered exactly how good being human could be, it was tempting to let my plans drift. Eighteen or nineteen, nineteen or twenty... Did it really matter? I wouldn't change so much in a year. And being human with Edward... The choice got trickier every day.

"A few weeks," I agreed. And then, because there never seemed to be enough time, I added, "So I was thinking - you know what I was saying about practice before?"

He laughed. "Can you hold on to that thought? I hear a boat. The cleaning crew must be here."

He wanted me to hold on to that thought. So did that mean he was not going to give me any more trouble about practicing? I smiled.

"Let me explain the mess in the white room to Gustavo, and then we can go out. There's a place in the jungle on the south - "

"I don't want to go out. i am not hiking all over the island today. I want to stay here and watch a movie."

He pursed his lips, trying not to laugh at my disgruntled tone. "All right, whatever you'd like. Why don't you pick one out while I get the door?"

"I didn't hear a knock."

He cocked his head to the side, listening. A half second later, a faint, timid rap on the door sounded. He grinned and turned for the hallway.

I wandered over to the shelves under the big TV and started scanning through the titles. It was hard to decide where to begin. They had more DVDs than a rental store.

I could hear Edward's low, velvet voice as he came back down the hall, conversing fluidly in what I assumed was perfect Portuguese. Another, harsher, human voice answered in the same tongue.

Edward led them into the room, pointing toward the kitchen on his way. The two Brazilians looked incredibly short and dark next to him. One was a round man, the other a slight female, both their faces creased with lines. Edward gestured to me with a proud smile, and I heard my name mixed in with a flurry of unfamiliar words. I flushed a little as I thought of the downy mess in the white room, which they would soon encounter. The little man smiled at me politely.

But the tiny coffee-skinned woman didn't smile. She stared at me with a mixture of shock, worry, and most of all, wide-eyed fear. Before I could react, Edward motioned for them to follow him toward the chicken coop, and they were gone.

When he reappeared, he was alone. He walked swiftly to my side and wrapped his arms around me.

"What's with her?" I whispered urgently, remembering her panicked expression.

He shrugged, unperturbed. "Kaure's part Ticuna Indian. She was raised to be more superstitious - or you could call it more aware - than those who live in the modern world. She suspects what I am, or close enough." He still didn't sound worried. "They have their own legends here. The Libishomen - a blood-drinking demon who preys exclusively on beautiful women." He leered at me.

Beautiful women only? Well, that was kind of flattering.

"She looked terrified," I said.