“Good morning to you too, Mick Jagger,” Emma joked. They both were head over heelsfor basketball although Emma’s passion for the sport had been transmitted to Nateand whatever his best friend did, Nate could do just as well.“I’ll take the risk. What would be a birthday without my ‘happy birthday’?Besides, if I didn’t do it I’d actually have to spend money on a present!” Natelaughed, enjoying messing around with the newly 17-year-old.“That hurts,” said Emma, putting on a fake hurt tone.“Deal with it, Liz,” the boy told her. “I’ll pick you up in a half hour, beready.”“Sure thing, Hawk,” she murmured as she hang up.She walked down the stairs and found her mum making strawberry pancakes. Herfavorite.“Happy birthday, sweetheart,” the 38-year-old said, hugging her daughter.“Morning, mum,” Emma greeted as she broke free from her mum’s grip and sat on oneof the stalls of the American style kitchen.“I know it’s your birthday and I am not trying to criticize, I am merrily pointingout…” babbled the mother, looking pointedly at her clothes.“Mom,” interrupted the teenager, knowing perfectly what her mum was going to say.“I love this t-shirt and I think it is perfect for my birthday. I know how muchyou hate basketball and I know you’ve got a good reason but…”However, Emma’s words died out as a last minute informative came on and a pictureof Edward Masen appeared on the kitchen TV screen. Emma smiled to see her idol onthe screen and Bella concentrated on the pancake, which she was throwing in theair and catching; anything to keep her mind of that man.“This morning, at the latest press conference offered by the Los Angelesbasketball team, we were informed of startling news by the spokesperson of theteam,” spoke the journalist. Emma had all her senses put on the informative andBella couldn’t help but listen to the words of the spokeswoman. “,Edward Masen inthe picture and thought to be one of the best players in the century, wasannounced to be retired.”The woman continued speaking but the words were unheard by both women. Bella, whowas about to catch a pancake which she had thrown up in the air, dropped thesaucepan and stared at her daughter’s eyes; he had finally done it, he had finallycompletely lost it.“He’s thirty eight! He’s amazing! Why the bloody hell is he quitting?” shouted aninfuriated Emma, expecting to be told of by her mother by the bad language. ButBella hadn’t heard a word; she had managed to keep her mind far from her husbandfor the last 17 years, she had kept it all locked up in a room inside her head,she had convinced herself that night that what she was doing was right, she hadnever dared to think of contradicting herself but now there was no job, now therewasn’t nothing in the middle, now there was just Edward, there was just Bella andthat little secret that only she knew the whole truth about. That secret that, forthe first time in her life, she was regretting to have kept.