"Well, that's kind of where I was heading with this?." And then Charlie's face stretched into an unexpected eye-crinkling grin; for a second he looked twenty years younger.
I saw a dim glimmer of possibility in that smile, but I proceeded slowly. "I'm confused, Dad. Are we talking about Jacob, or Edward, or me being grounded?"
The grin flashed again. "Sort of all three."
"And how do they relate?" I asked, cautious.
"Okay." He sighed, raising his hands as if in surrender. "So I'm thinking maybe you deserve a parole for good behavior. For a teenager, you're surprisingly non-whiney."
My voice and eyebrows shot up. "Seriously? I'm free?"
Where was this coming from? I'd been positive I would be under house arrest until I actually moved out, and Edward hadn't picked up any wavering in Charlie's thoughts?.
Charlie held up one finger. "Conditionally."
The enthusiasm vanished. "Fantastic," I groaned.
"Bella, this is more of a request than a demand, okay? You're free. But I'm hoping you'll use that freedom?judiciously."
"What does that mean?"
He sighed again. "I know you're satisfied to spend all your time with Edward?" "I spend time with Alice, too," I interjected. Edward's sister had no hours of visitation; she came and went as she pleased. Charlie was putty in her capable hands. "That's true," he said. "But you have other friends besides the Cullens, Bella. Or you used to."
We stared at each other for a long moment. " When was the last time you spoke to Angela Weber?" he threw at me.
"Friday at lunch," I answered immediately. Before Edward's return, my school friends had polarized into two groups. I liked to think of those groups as good vs. evil. Us and them worked, too. The good guys were Angela, her steady boyfriend Ben Cheney, and Mike Newton; these three had all very generously forgiven me for going crazy when Edward left. Lauren Mallory was the evil core of the them side, and almost everyone else, including my first friend in Forks, Jessica Stanley, seemed content to go along with her anti-Bella agenda.
With Edward back at school, the dividing line had become even more distinct. Edward's return had taken its toll on Mike's friendship, but Angela was unswervingly loyal, and Ben followed her lead. Despite the natural aversion most humans felt toward the Cullens, Angela sat dutifully beside Alice every day at lunch. After a few weeks, Angela even looked comfortable there. It was difficult not to be charmed by the Cullens?once one gave them the chance to be charming.