"Outside of school?" Charlie asked, calling my attention back. "I haven't seen anyone outside of school, Dad. Grounded, remember? And Angela has a boyfriend, too. She's always with Ben. If I'm really free," I added, heavy on the skepticism, "maybe we could double." "Okay. But then?" He hesitated. "You and Jake used to be joined at the hip, and now?" I cut him off. "Can you get to the point, Dad? What's your condition?exactly?" "I don't think you should dump all your other friends for your boyfriend, Bella," he said in a stern voice. "It's not nice, and I think your life would be better balanced if you kept some other people in it. What happened last September?" I flinched. "Well," he said defensively. "If you'd had more of a life outside of Edward Cullen, it might not have been like that." "It would have been exactly like that," I muttered. "Maybe, maybe not." "The point?" I reminded him. "Use your new freedom to see your other friends, too. Keep it balanced." I nodded slowly. "Balance is good. Do I have specific time quotas to fill, though?" He made a face, but shook his head. "I don't want to make this complicated. Just don't forget about your friends?particularly Jacob." It took me a moment to find the right words. "Jacob might be?difficult." "The Blacks are practically family, Bella" he said, stern and fatherly again. "And Jacob has been a very, very good friend to you." "I know that." "Don't you miss him at all?" Charlie asked, frustrated. My throat suddenly felt swollen; I had to clear it twice before I answered. "Yes, I do miss him," I admitted, still looking down. "I miss him a lot." "Then why is it difficult?"
It wasn't something I was at liberty to explain. It was against the rules for normal people?human people like me and Charlie?to know about the clandestine world full of myths and monsters that existed secretly around us. I knew all about that world?and I was in no small amount of trouble as a result. I wasn't about to get Charlie in the same trouble.
"With Jacob there is?a conflict," I said slowly. "A conflict about the friendship thing, I mean. Friendship doesn't always seem to be enough for Jake." I wound my excuse out of details that were true but insignificant, hardly crucial compared to the fact that Jacob's werewolf pack bitterly hated Edward's vampire family?and therefore me, too, as I fully intended to join that family. It just wasn't something I could work out with him in a note, and he wouldn't answer my calls. But my plan to deal with the werewolf in person had definitely not gone over will with the vampires.