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Table of Contents
Preface.............................................................................................. 1 Chapter 1..........................................................................................2 Chapter 2..........................................................................................5 Chapter 3........................................................................................10 Chapter 4........................................................................................12 Chapter 5........................................................................................15 Chapter 6........................................................................................19 Chapter 7........................................................................................24 Chapter 8........................................................................................28 Chapter 9........................................................................................33 Chapter 10..................................................................................... 37 Chapter 11..................................................................................... 41 Chapter 12..................................................................................... 46 Chapter 13..................................................................................... 50 Chapter 14..................................................................................... 55
I know what anyone would expect out of a story like ours. Well, let me tell you, that is not us. This is not the story of a boy and girl that grew up together, best friends, where the boy makes a vow to protect the girl. If you were to tell that to us we'd laugh our butts off. But the story of our friendship, of our bond is quirky and weird. And it is full of humor and drama and just plain awesomeness. This is the story of Edward and Bella. This is our story. This is not a love story, though we do love each other. This is not a glorified Harlequin novel that the intellectual in me despises though from time to time enjoys a worn and forgotten copy found wrapped in paper at the bottom of one of my friends' bookcases. Our back story is plain and simple: We grew together, to be honest I don't really know how we met. I just know that I cannot think back to my childhood without Edward's goofy face in it. I guess our moms were friends, or met at a park when we were babies. Who knows... Who cares... I'm the only child of only children. Grandparents long gone. At the age of ten I learned what it is to be all alone in this world, as all my past, and all my hope of some sort of tangible history went down a hill on a dark rainy night. It was hard. I won't trivialize it. But I want you to see with my eyes, to understand even more what this friendship has meant to me. I was taken in by Edward's parents, Esme and Carlisle. I thank my lucky stars for them. Their family is my family, and yet is not. A few months before I was born Esme had Edward and Emmet. The joke is that they are too far to resemble twins. Not only physicaly but personality wise they couldn't be further apart. Esme jokes that Edward and I are more twins than her own sons, and when she talks about her tiwns, people that don't know us that well assume that it is indeed Edward and I the ones that shared Esme's womb. I love Emmet as well, he is by all menas my brother, but we don't have the same connection Edward and I do. I feel bad because more than once he gets left outside of our world, but yet again, he was always the extrovert. Carlisle told me once they were happy about me being so close to Edward. They were worried about his shyness. I can't think of him as shy, he's no Emmet, but he is confident and outgoing, Carlisle said that that was me bringing that out in him. I was glad to hear that, I always thought he had gotten the crappy end on this bargain. Edward and I are best friends but yet more, we are like sibling and yet not quite. We are about to graduate form high school. Just about to dive head on our adult years, and this is our year of discovery. This is the story that I want to share. Of how this amazing and terrifying world can be perceived, seized by us, by someone like us.
6:00 am. Alarm goes off. I hate Mondays. And who wouldn't? I look back to the dormant figure next to me. He's a good sleeper and I hate him for it. And I love that he can fall asleep so easily and stay asleep. Not me, every night is the same battle, the same dread of my mind running amok, taking me where I don't want to be taken. That is why he is on my bed. There is nothing sexual, nothing romantic about it. It is plain survival. Since I was ten, when I knew the vertigo of standing before the edge of the world, we found the solution was sneaking into each other's rooms. And now, nightmares at bay, it's plain custom. We don't know any other way. This is our routine, this is our reality. Our parents (his parents actually) knew and chose to look the other way. And now I don't know if its a well known secret, something that is just the way it is and no one mentions it. Or if it's just a distant memory for them, a funny and incredible sad memory of a tormented past. I look at him, placidly asleep. And I smile, not because of his looks, though I know he is good looking, but I don't see him that way. I truly hate comparisons of beauty with greek and roman deities. He makes me smile because he exists, because he helps me define myself. He is the other side of me. Not in a cheesy creepy Cruisesque "You complete me" kind of way. But enough of this internal monologue. It's a downer. I know. And yet I'm not a tragic one. Not so much of a "I'm only happy when it rains" very Shirley Manson kind of way. Though there is some of that in me. I just like observing life. I'm a sucker for discovering everyone else's secrets, their personal universes. And I'll give an arm and a leg, heck! my first born, for the dark humor in every day life. "Bella... You are over thinking again." The voice of a not so much sleeping beauty brings me back. He's right. "Wow, not yet 6:05 and we are already sharing wisdom Captain Stating-the-Obvious." I said with a glare. "Always a pleasure to fight alongside you Sarcasm Girl" "I guess we should get up and get ready if we want to make it on time" "On time on the first day of school? That will be a first." He looked at me quizzically, knowing it was out of character. "I know. But you heard Esme and Carlisle last night. I guess you lose car privileges if we keep up our shit, their words not mine." "Ouch... Wait! What was your punishment? I only heard bout mine" "Put up with you without a car" "I guess that is fair" "I don't really". We sat at the cafeteria table that Emmet and our friends Alice, Jasper and Rosalie were sitting at. Emmet and Rosalie were together, as Alice and Jasper were. They were cool, but sometimes Edward and I need to get away from all the syrupy love expressions. "Hey guys we didn't expect to see you in today. Don't you always ditch first day of school?" said Alice "Yeah, well Carlisle laid the law. He said he would be calling the school every hour to make sure we were here the entire day. He said senior year must be taken seriously. " Edward shared with our friends "And if he catches us ditching Edward loses the volvo" I added smiling. "I guess then you will be putting up with all the moaning and bitching, right Bella?" said Rosalie "Yeah. I guess if you think about it I get the worse part of it. So anyways, now that we are staying 2
the whole day, we get the pleasure of seeing all your moppy faces since you are not sucking face all day or whatever you guys did for the entire summer." I loved making fun of our friends, so intent and dramatic about their high school romances. "And what is it that the two of you did this summer that is so more important that whatever we did?" Asked Jasper. "Dude it was rad! " said Edward "We put together our band" "You too goofing around blasting chords through your amps in the basement the whole summer does not a band make" answered Emmet. He hated our noise, he actually attempted to build a case against us stating that it broke his concentration when he worked out. We are not ready to let him off the hook for that one yet. "Hey! Watch it! Or you won't be invited when we open for the Stones" I said as I noticed the posters on the wall. They were about the preparation for the Shakespeare Festival "Oh shit not this crap again" "Well, I guess we could participate and open all these pubescent minds" said Edward noticing what I was referring to. "Ah, you two can't do what you did last year" Said Alice. She had been so mortified of our little stunt. "What are you talking about? It was wicked!" Replied Edward "A gore version of the final scene in Hamlet? The whole first row was drench in red corn syrup by the time you two were done! " Alice was really ticked off about that one, since she was sitting in that first row. "And wasn't that better than all the Romeo and Juliet scenes we were subjected to? Talk about lack of creativity, how many times do you have to watch the kiss scene?" I tried to reason with her. "And, What about Lauren's version, when has a catatonic person french kiss?" Everyone at the table was laughing remembering it. "Yeah, that was getting a little soft core porn" Said Rosalie. "Do not forget those poor souls whose idea of Romeo and Juliet was only the Leonardo DiCaprio version. But I must admit that the 'Young hearts run free' musical number was the highlight of the night, even if Mr. Anderson cut it short for being inappropiate." Added Edward "Must I remind you two morons that Emmet and I did a piece of Romeo and Juliet on that festival?" Said Rosalie "You did, but I still speak to you guys because you were original enough to do the scene where they meet." I said to what Edward added: "It was priceless to see Emmet reciting Shakespeare! " We were all laughing by now. "You guys are retarded!" Said Emmet as the bell rang. "Adios dudes, we have Spanish now" I said as Edward and I headed for our class. That night was one of those odd nights when neither I nor Edward made it to the other's bed. I had been reading until late, past that witching hour that I so dread. Only three things were able to keep my mind from falling: Edward, reading and watching TV until the wee hours. Oh yes, I know my infomercials well. At the breakfast table Edward did not look so fresh. "What's wrong with you? Looks like you didn't rest much." Esme asked him. He looked at me a little upset. "I tossed and turned the entire night. I seemed to have misplaced my favorite pillow. " He replied to his worried mother. "How can you lose a pillow hun?" Esme asked "Bella stole it." 3
Crap. He was going to make it difficult for me. "Sorry Eds, I took it 'cause my leg was sore and I wanted to prop it up. I didn't know it was your favorite. Thought you had plenty." "No worries, Bells. Just don't take IT again. You can have others you know I'm a beast of habits." "Aren't we all." We had grown so accustomed to it. And it wasn't such an overproduction to sneak in, afterall we shared a jack and jill bathroom. When I came to live with them the only room available shared the bathroom with Edward's. I think they thought they would close up the access to it from both rooms and open it up from the hallway. But then again I was waking up at 3 in the morning screaming my lungs off. Being the closest one, Edward would find me first. Esme and Carlisle got used to me falling back to sleep next to him. Somehow we kept it going. I don't wake up screaming anymore, now, we talk about music and movies, we teach each other chords and riffs with our guitars, or just read side by side. He knows I just need to know that I am not alone. Often, during the night we use each other as pillows. I cringe at the concept of cuddling, since that is not what we do. We see it much more like animals sleeping in a pack, sort of a protection device, sticking to your own kind. We had issues with being too vulnerable, Edward knew that my mind couldn't be trusted alone, without it running wild, overthinking. He didn't have too much of night fears, I guess. At least none that were not dependant of me. I imagine that a nightly dose of panic screaming from the orphan next door wouldn't sit well with a ten year old boy. He has nightmares about that, about not getting to me on time. That's how he calls it. I don't know why Emmet grew through it unscathed, maybe because he did not have to sleep in a room so close to mine, or because he is a deeper sleeper. Now, it's something almost comical, if my best friend wakes up confused, he pats around until he knows where I am, and holds on to a limb. Since I turn so much in the bed, most times it is my foot. He jokes about it and says that that way I won't be able to escape. I've gotten used to the feeling of sleeping bolted down, with Edwards hand tight around my ankle. My own human ball and chain.
That day at lunch Edward and I sat outside on the grass to people watch. The voyeur in me liked witnessing other people's lives. I especially liked watching their romantic interactions. There was something morbid about that. We made it fun by ad libbing for comedic purposes. Today we had been watching redhead girl whose name I never can really remember, Stacy, Lacy who knows, maybe it's something completely different, perhaps Johanna. She was one of our favorites. She was interesting enough, and even though we were far away to be able to listen to her conversation, her body language spoke in detail. She had been participating in this courting kind of dance that is highschool romance with a jock neither of us could stand. "Oh look at that here she comes, excited much?" Said Edward as we watched her approach the jock who was standing next to his friends. "Get ready for the make-out-a-thon. Wait, did he just brushed her off?" I noted as we saw him barely acknowledge her presence. "He did... See I told you they totally did it last week!" Edward had pointed out to me how it was easy to tell when a girl was getting some. I thought he was a pig, but I guess he was right. "The bastard! Totally unexpected that the resident jock of our generation who happens to change girlfriends as often as socks would dump the girl after having sex, amazing!" I may not be able to tell with that conviction if someone was being sexually active, but the outcome of their liaison was far from unexpected. "Admit Bella you are hot for him right now. " "Yeah, would totally do him right here to get that A-list treatment of his." I chuckled "Fuck, For that I'll do him myself." We were laughing our asses off by then. "See, that's totally why I don't have sex" I let out. "But you will eventually" "No, I won't, I'll be the spinster aunt of yours and Emmet's kids. They will love me." "Who told you I'll let your near my kids? " "Ouch. Very funny Cullen, very funny..." We laughed and critiziced a lot the courting habits of our generation, but truth to be told I worried. I dreaded all that drama. I had had enough. All that day I pondered over it. Later in class, I started thinking. Pretty much all my life I had dreaded milestones, every new age, came with changes that treatened the comfort of finally feeling like I had gotten used to living in my own skin. I guess partly because of that reason I loved being so close to Edward, living every new age with him made it so much easier. I smiled fondly remembering my first kiss, he was curious and proposed the deal to me, if I help him know what the fuss it was about what all the other boys were doing he'd shared all his video game cheats. I made a good deal since I was curious as well, and got the cheats pretty much for free. He was very happy, he didn't see what the fuss was at all. I was glad my first kiss was done, and that it hadn't been a traumatizing experience. I remember also one day when we were talking about first kisses with friends, Alice was not so fond of hers, the kid caught her off guard and shoved his tongue in. She said it felt like being licked by a cat. I was pleased to think I had avoided that kind of awkwardess, I hate that feeling. Right then and there I got my epiphany, my solution. I grinned looking into the space and Edward threw a pencil at me "What are you thinking about Bells?" "I'll tell you later, I think I may have had the best idea ever." --------5
"I much rather get it over with" I announced to Edward "I thought girls were suposed to fantasize with romance and shit..." He said with a smile. He was enjoying this. "Since when have I done things like the other girls" "Dude, you are right" He admitted more seriously than what the situation called for just to annoy me. "Seriously... And anyways what is so romantic about waiting until I'm in college and losing it at a frat party with a douche bag that might as well be a date rapist? Or with the weird goth guy that manages to write something remotely decent in my Creative Writing class?" "Do you fantasize with a frat boy?!" "Dude, you are so not paying attention." "I am, it's just that that was a very odd image." He said as he rolled his eyes trying to picture the situation I had described. "Well stop imagining me having sex" "You so wish" He said giving me a wicked smile. "You're an idiot. So anyways, what about you?" "What about what?" "I mean, Have you thought about that?" "Bella. I am a man" He looked at me not believing I could actually believe he didn't think about sex at all. "A man of almost 18 and still a virgin" "Look who's talking" "Hey. I'm a girl, I'm not expected to be too experienced." "Mom and Dad must be so proud of you" Esme had given me the talk while Carlisle took the boys camping and gave it to them. I wonder if they got the same I did, about waiting for the right person. Esme hadn't said marriage, she was more open-minded than other moms I knew. But what she had told me was to wait for someone who cared about me and that I cared about. "You deserve to experience it with someone who loves you kiddo" were her precise words. I smiled thinking that was exactly what I was trying to do. Though Esme would probably tell me that I was twisting her words, if she knew about this. "And that brings us back to my worries about getting to college..." "Immaculate?" He cut me off. "Exactly. But we were talking about you. I see you falling for the first Malibu Barbie you meet in college. She puts out, you, being so incredibly starved of a way to relieve your sexual needs, think that that must be love and ten years down the line, Barbie and you have two point five kids, the house in the 'burbs and a dog, and a very very non existant sex life." "Where are you while I'm not getting laid in the 'burbs" Said Edward amused. "Well, after frat and/or goth boys..." "And/or?! You really turned slutty in college" "Hey, don't interrupt me... After frat OR goth boy, I pulled myself together and ended up as the new feminist writer icon with my best selling, and emasculating I might say, novel slash manifesto against men." "How Valerie Solanas of you..." "Yeah... I might be lesbian by then too." i added to make him laugh. "And now I know what I will be masturbating to when Barbie and I no longer do it." We lost it by then. "Don't you love that we can have this kind of friendship?" 6
"I love you alright." "I love you too you big dufus" I said to him. "So remind me again why we are conmiserating on our crappy future sex lives?... Hey wait, How come your crappy sex life gets you to be a succesful writer, and mine only takes me to the suburbs?" It was rather sweet, how sometimes it took him a little while to figure out the full the extend of what I said. "Hey, it's your own damn fault for having sex with Malibu Barbie in the first place, yes it was all fun and games in the beggining, especially when she invited her roomate Candy to join you. While it's not like frat boy or goth boy were that amazing. So my success only answers to the cosmic law of karma." "Okay, okay... So tell me about why are we tracing our future sex lives and their downfall again". He said with a quizzical look. "I was trying to make a point about why we have to have sex before college." "WE have to? As you and me?" He smiled enjoying too much to put me on the spot. "Don't be ridiculous, that is not what I was saying... Though wait... You may be onto something" "Bella, I was joking." "Bear with me for a second." I said as an idea brewed in my mind. "Dude, I did not know you thought about me in that way" "Be serious, of course I don't think about you in that way. Just as you don't think about me in that way either. See, what I'm thinking is that I want to do my share of... experimenting in a controlled and safe way. I really don't want my memories of my first time to be with someone that I'll end up hating, and I certainly don't want to regret it. Let's just entertain this idea for a second. You'll never hate me right?" "Of course not" We could joke a lot, though we were sure what we felt for each other, and just about how far we would go to avoid the other one pain. We just didn't have to put those feelings in words. "And I'm pretty sure that we'll always be best friends" "Ouch Bella, pretty sure?" "Definitely sure. Better?" "Yeah" "Well, that, plus the fact that we don't have the whole romance thing to fuck it up could actually make this work. And it's not like we are lusting for each other." I said with a serious look on my face. "Ah... I think you actually need that part." "Well, I'm not that disgusting looking, right?" "Not at all." "Well then that won't be a turn off then. I know that it may be awkward though" I said as I realized I was soliciting my best friend right then and there. "That could actually help the experimenting part, self discovery and other stuff" He said, and for a minute I thought that I may have had sold him the idea. "Yeah, exactly, it can be more of a controlled situation. So you are starting to see my point." "Yeah, I think I can" He said looking down. "I don't want to bend your arm" "Dude... It's sex... Who needs arm bending?" His smile was back as he looked up to look at me. And so, somehow I had convinced him. Oddly enough, one we had made up our minds we didn't need to discuss it much. We had made a monumental decision amidst jokes and observations of our generation and yet felt calm, almost relieved. We didn't over think it. Not a lot to plan ahead. The only real question was about being safe, and given that I had started using the patch to regulate me took that 7
off our minds. We settled to try that very night. We didn't want to have time to back out. -------There were no romantic preparations. No candles, no rose petals, no enticing lingerie. With nothing but the moonlight trough the window (we were afraid of light taking away the courage). We touched and explored, driven by the thirst, the itch, the burn, to know, to feel. My cd player happened to be playing "All the young dudes". Eerie coincidence. That glam rock song was a hymn for the end of an era. It was the end of an era for us as well. We were willingly going to the end, like cattle to the slaughter. Like Adam and Eve we were about to taste the fruit of knowledge, good and evil, and like them we did not know what it would entail. Blindfold about to fall from out eyes. Innocence about to be lost. I thought about my analogy and ponder about the first man and woman, and how it really suited us. when they laid together it was very likely not about love, but more of a scientific experiment, giving in animal instincts, seeing where that would take them. All wrapped in the perfect and controlled environment of paradise. Our mating wasn't romantic, but it was sweet and true. It was us. Humor trying to mask the clumsiness and inexperience. In the dark he had approached me as I sat on my bed. Slowly he sat in front of me. We had chosen not to plan it too much, not to talk it out. The only premise was to explore, to let the primal drive of our bodies lead the way. We were to not feel too shy about experimenting. His body was there for me to know the geography of the male lands. Mine for him to satisfy every curiosity, to answer every question he may had. The first interest was texture. Eager, his hands slid over my skin, indiscriminately they touched every surface of my body. I was resting mine on his chest, realizing how hard it was, while his came up to my shoulders and rested on the straps of my tank top. Slowly he pushed one to the side, and then the other. He felt the unencumbered skin now, going back and forth, and a little to the front, to the top swells of my still covered breasts. With this I went to the buttons of his pajama top and undid them and took it off. Mimicking his movement I touched his chest. The smooth skin became coarse with the texture of his hair, not too much to make me feel disgusted, but enough to prove to me that he was a man and not boy. His index finger rested now on the edge of my top, and lazily pulled a little touching the smooth skin of my breast, a little more every so often, sending small shocks through my body, and starting a new warm and moist feeling in my core. Once in a while, his finger would brush one of my nipples, and I could feel them tense and contract, along with silent gasps that I wasn't sure came from my mouth or his. After a while of this slow torture, he grew impatient. His hands went to my sides and held on to the ends of my top and swiftly pulled it off me. I was now exposed to him, though the veil of night enveloped me. I knew he could barely make out my forms in he dark, but the breeze on my breasts made me feel so vulnerable. He placed his hands on my sides and slid them up, to rest just under my breasts. and then so lovingly he cupped them. He touched me as if I were to break. He raised his palms against my nipples, and slowly rotated them, as if he was letting my peaks trace patterns on his palms. I never felt so womanly before. It was fogging my brain thinking that the flesh he was caressing had never been felt before, and now he was claiming it as his. I threw my head back, arching myself to force a more direct contact with his hands, and using my arms behind me as support. He took advantage of this and placed one hand on my back to hold me in place and slowly pushed me back, while he got on his knees and tilted forward. He then placed his right hand on the mattress to hold his weight while his left had keeping me hovering on the bed, arched and offering my breasts to him. His mouth caught the offering as he tasted me. I let out a moan, no longer able to suppress it. He slowly lowered us until we were both lying on my bed. He tasted and sucked and gently bit, his hands 8
now massaging my bottom. I caressed his back and played with his bronze curls, excited and ashamed of how much I enjoyed the torture of his mouth on my nipple. Next thing I noticed, my pajama bottoms were sliding down, as he lifted me slightly to take them off. I raised my leg and got it under the waistband of his, and pull them down, to where my other foot could help take them off. I could feel him now hard and moist against my belly, and I blushed in the dark realizing that he was now bare. I had only my underwear on now and he was playfully getting his hands under it, massaging my buttocks and teasing me as he slide them to my front, just touching the sensitive skin there. After a while, he just took them off in one decisive motion. We were now in the nude, nothing between us. He held me tight and just rubbed slowly to let every inch of our bodies feel the warmth of flesh on flesh. He was playing with the friction of my breasts against his flat and hard chest. He was getting ready. As Edward positioned himself against me I felt anxious and awkward, but relieved to be with someone I could trust. My biggest worry was not so much the physical thing about to happen but the emotional implications. I went to by humor shield to protect me. "You are not going to get all sappy on me right?" I said with a pathetic smile. "No. Bella.. I mean. Have you changed your mind?" I broke the spell and he seemed confused. "No way dude, this was my idea. But by all means if this is going to make you cry or hinder your plans to join a seminary, we can call it off." I bluffed "Bella, are you buying time?" He said seeing through me. "Of course I am buying time, You are the one with the pointy thing, and my thing is sealed shut, you tell me who has the short end of the stick here. I just need you to give me a little distraction from the very inminent pain I'm about to feel. I'm not a chicken, I can take it, I just don't like the anticipation. " I blurted out. "Agh Bella..." I could hear his frustration and felt him eager against me, hot and ready. And so he did give me a distraction. I didn't see it coming. In one swift movement his mouth was on mine. His kiss was hungry and it distracted me from everything else. Until he swiftly entered me. The pain made me break the kiss. I could see panic in his face. Shit. I was scaring him "It's okay just give me a minute" I manage to say to him. He kissed me again, now in a sweeter way, it both calmed me and took my mind from the subduing pain in my now open threshold. Before we knew it we had found our rhythm. I was now full. Open and speared. There was a new feeling in me that embarrassed me. A sort of pride on his hardness, on his eagerness to penetrate me. A part of me felt proud on how ready he was, on his masculinity reassured with the force he used to drive into me, on how he took me. I was enjoying how he was fucking me. I had admitted it to myself. I liked how Edward was fucking me. It was not love making. It was plain fucking. And by all means it seemed that my best friend was enjoying it too. There were no professions of love. No lustful promises of eternal love that could fade away with the diminishing aftershocks of an orgasm. We loved each other alright. No one could have a friendship like ours and not love each other, but to rush that love into a romantic one would have been to plummet from a higher ground. We did not make love. And we did not become lovers to get our relationship to a new level. We did this to quench the curiosity, the intrigue, the pubescent desire, the newly awaken and discovered need to know how our bodies worked, what made us tick. And we also did this because we were chicken shits. At least I knew I was, because I was not brave enough to dive head first in love, I needed my controlled space, I wanted to experience as much as I could, but with my best friend, not because I had a crush on him (I didn't) but because with him I could feel safe. It didn't take long. It was not glamorous like in the movies, no all night love making, no fireworks, no mind blowing orgasms. It was awkward and unexperienced. It was short and sweet buy it was 9
satisfaying. And when it was over we didn't say another word. He went to the bathroom and retrieved a damp towel and lovingly cleaned me up. The deed was done. We went to sleep and I wonder, as I fell asleep, if we'd be the same people when we wake.
"Bella, Bella, wake up!" I woke up to a fully dressed Edward shaking me. I had dreaded morning for what it would mean. I feared that it would be awkward or worse, that we would have a heart to heart about what had happened, or pretended that it was nothing at all. But seeing his face as usual, I was certain that things were the same. I felt we could still be us, and that we shouldn't pretend nothing had happened. "Aren't you post-coital happy?" I said smiling and squinting my eyes. "Yeah. You don't look too scarred for life either. Actually I must say you had a very peaceful sleep." "Well thank you. I guess." "Oh no. Thank you" He said with a wicked smile. "Hit the shower Swan, we need to make it on time. Carlisle said the volvo threat was good for the whole week." "Nice. Nothing spells success like going to school freshly deflowered." He chuckled. "And so Forks High Purity Club loses two more members." "Tragic. Anyways. Give me some privacy. I'll be downstairs in 20." "Okay. See you then." -------The day went by as usual and I was glad that nothing had seemed to change. I had not turned into the damsel in distress waiting for Edward to saved her. I looked at him and saw my friend and not a boy I had a crush on. I did wonder if Edward's theory of how easy it is to spot sexual gratification in a girl the morning after. I knew he was full of shit and knowing Edward, I knew that the trick was on convincing us women of it, to make us blush and give it all away. I was better than that, and he knew it. During biology though my mind started to wonder and I came to the realization that my best friend's DNA was still roaming free in me. Weird. I looked at him and thought that there were no longer secrets, not forbidden places in each other. And I started wondering what it would be like at night. Would he come to my bed or was it the end of us spending our nights together? He did come to my bed that night. And every night for the next few weeks. This was something new and mysterious that we were more than willing to explore. It was less awkward than that first night, and it was different. He didn't kiss me again, we had set an unspoken rule about kissing, somehow it was too intimate to share. I could look into his eyes in the dark while he penetrated me, but I could not stand the idea of us kissing, it made me feel too vulnerable, too exposed. It was almost ironic. And also, kissing seemed so romantic, it felt too hypocritical. We spent countless nights exploring, feeling, probing, tasting. we were now, well versed on how to play each others bodies. He knew how to come to my bed and embrace me from behind, snaking his hands under my tank top, tenderly brushing my breasts. I liked the way my body molded to his, and very lightly rubbed my backside against him. I could always make him gasp. He would place his lips on the nape of my head and make me shiver, alternating the massage of my breast with his left hand with the rubbing of my ass with his right. Before long clothes had been pulled and shifted, we no longer waited for full nudity, it was more practical to just get them out of the way. I found out, though I never shared it with him, that this made me more aroused, the idea of not being completely nude, of him just exposing certain areas, of knowing that it was nothing but sex, not rushed, but secret and kinky. He no longer asked for permission before entering me. I always liked that first penetration, the sensation of being full, and then he would find his tempo, I could not name the feeling, but there was something about the feeling of being taken, tamed somehow. It was no longer possible to ignore that we were man and woman. For the first time I fully realized how strong he was, now that he could flip 11
us quite easily, he made me feel weightless the way he maneuvered me. Unable to quiet our moans of release with kisses I would bury my mouth on his shoulder, now a little bruised from a couple times I've bitten him, unable to control the powerful explosion in my core. Feeling him pour himself inside of me. Hours later in school, we may not talk about it, but I still feel his warmth inside. I walk the hallways of school knowing that he's been inside me, that he has left traces in my body of him. I wonder if he can smell himself on my, if like me he has flashes our encounters, if he feels the tingling I feel inside sometimes when I remember. If his mind betrays him suddenly and thinks of me as his woman rather than his friend. In the back of my mind there is a dread: I've done something terrible. I got us in this terrible hell, that we won't be able to scape. That things have been changed, that I've killed something pure. But I know I don't want to stop. I can't tell what is going on, what this means, I don't want to think about it, I don't want to analyze my feelings. I don't want to accept the fact that we can not keep this up. But I'll keep waiting for him in my bed, or going to his. I cannot stop it. I'm not strong enough for now. I'm enjoying our explorations, my explorations of him, but mostly I think, I enjoy getting to know myself.
I walked out of my English class and headed to the cafeteria. I couldn't help but grin after Mrs. Bennett told me that I was strictly forbidden to participate in this year's Shakespeare festival and to please pass the message along to my stepbrother. As per her expressed request we were not allowed to take her class together, I think she said something about the "evil twins" being bad for her nerves. My work here was done. I noticed that Alice and Rosalie were already seated at our usual table. "What up dolls?" "Hey Bells, figured out how to give Shakespeare buffs a bigger and better shock this year?" Asked Rosalie looking up to me. "No can do. I've been banned from the festival. Actually I can't wait to tell Edward about it. Have you seem him?" "I saw him earlier with Emmet and Jasper, they were heading out to the bleachers." Said Alice "That is strange. He didn't tell me we'd be watching the soaps today." "The soaps?" Asked Rosalie confused. "Little teen drama we've been watching." "You probably don't wanna know about that Rose." Added Alice. "So Rose, what did my idiotic brother do for you to keep him in the doghouse?" "Did he tell you?! I'm going to kill Emmet! No offense Bells" "None taken. Got a spare brother. But no, he didn't tell me. He did tell Edward I think, but the bastard hasn't cracked yet. He's been moping around though. And his appettite is not the same. Esme is worried. His daily ten thousand calories are not going to eat themselves you know?" "I can't believe you haven't told me either Rose!" Said Alice truly shocked. I know that Rose confides more in her. Probably the fact that I live in the same house as Emmet does the trick, though maybe slightly more that I'm a blabber mouth that cannot keep a pice of juicy information from Edward. "Well... my parents kinda caught us... in a compromising situation... I knew my parents were coming, but Emmet convinced me that we had time" She was visibly embarrassed, while Alice and I were desperately trying to avoid laughing at the mental picture. "You... didn't have enough time to... redress?" Asked Alice "Well... It was very impromptu and it took me a little bit to gather everything. When they opened the door I only had a bra on and my pants halfway up." "What about Emmet?" "Boxers and a T-shirt half on over his head." We were now openly laughing. "Skirts and elastic bands...And no underwear... That's the only way to go to make a quick getaway." I said taking a bite from the sandwich I packed for lunch. Both sets of eyes were now burning me with a half suspicious, half scared look. "Bella?" "I'm just a girl with common sense." That seemed to placate them. Alice broke the silence "Here come the guys" I looked up to see the three of them walking along some jocks, including the one who had dumped redhead Lacy-Stacy a few weeks ago. It always amazed me the mobility my best friend had in high school demographics. He wasn't part of any particular clique unless you considered our friendship a clique in itself. I guess the fact that he was somewhat good looking gave him a free pass to be visible to 13
the "beautiful" people of our school. Emmet and Rosalie were well liked by them, but they preferred to hang out with us. Alice was perceived more as a kooky character and Jasper was seen the same by association. You could say that we were more down to earth normal people that tended to group but we all had very different personalities and tastes. I was the resident freak with my jeans, vintage t-shirts and combat boots, I think Edward called my style "punk-chic". I think from outside we were perceived as in-breeders because Emmet, Edward and I were technically siblings and there were two couples in our group, plus what was known as the unnatural symbiosis of Edward and me. Emmet sat down loudly on the long bench getting me out of my long mental rambling. Jasper was chastely kissing Alice while Edward was stealing the other half of my sandwich from my bag. "Hey, watch it Ed! I may live in your house, but I'm not your mom. Pack your own sandwich!" "You know mine are not half as good as yours." He said giving me his full-charm smile hoping it would work with me. "That doesn't work with me and you know it." I said taking back what was left of my sandwich. "Have news for you my dear Hamlet. We were banned from the festival." "Forever?" He said proud "Dunno. Mrs. Bennett only mentioned this year's, though we can only hope." "That one is going in the scrapbook. Carlisle will be so proud." "Hey Rose, we could do something together for this year now that these two are not going to be sullying the Cullen last name." Said a hopeful Emmet trying to get into Rosalie's good graces, and I figured her pants as well. "I'm not technically a Cullen." I said. "Well, you kind of are a honoris causa one." Added Edward "Anyways. I saw you three with the athletic lesser minds. What's up with that?" I asked to the three of them, but more worried of what Edward had to do with the jocks. "Sean invited us to a party this weekend. The rents are not in town, so they are going to have a kegger." Said Jasper. "A kegger? That sounds refined. You are not actually considering going, right Eds?" "Dunno. Maybe... There is not a lot to do this weekend." I could not believe he was actually entertaining the idea. I gave him an incredulous look. "No... way... I hadn't realized it... You are so going to pledge in college... I can't believe you are going greek on me." Edward laughed at the idea. "Who knows... I may end up a frat boy." He said with a crooked smile that said more to me that to anyone else on the table. "Talk about self-fullfiling prophecies..." "I KNOW for a fact that you have a thing for frat boys, so don't act all high and mighty" "Anyone has any idea of what these two are talking about?" Asked Rosalie trying to follow out conversation. "Nope. But I gave up long ago trying to follow the siamese twins' train of thought." Said Alice "You try living with them." Was all Emmet said. "I am shocked about this turn of events Edward." I said faking concern. "Don't get your knickers in a bunch." he said. "Just wanted to be a little more like your frat boy" "You have nothing on Chad. He really has a knack about getting freshmen girls to pass out." "Chad, huh?" He said smiling "Oh... He... is... dreamy" I said while I gather my things as the bell ring called the cattle back to our stables. Later that day we were driving home in Edward's old volvo. He was quite proud of that car. It had been Carlisle's and he took a lot of care of it. You have to respect my legal guardian, he truly believed 14
on rewards solely based on hard work. He made Edward save and pay him half the current value of the car, which was not a lot being many years old, but it was still steep for Edward. He said there was no way any of his children (including me) would own new cars while in high school. Emmet wasn't that thrilled either, but opted to find his own car, Esme's old minivan did not go with his style. So he has his own beat up jeep, which he also paid half price for. I chose not to get a car, since Edward is always so happy to drive, and I prefer to let my mind wonder while we're riding. But I was not exempt from the working and saving, Carlisle made me save an equivalent amount and we put it in my college fund. "So... are you mad at me?" Edward broke the silence. "Nope. Why?" "About the whole kegger thing." "Well, I don't mind where you go, it just seemed out of character to me, you know, since we really don't like what's-his-face?" "Sean?" "Yeah..." "I dunno. I wouldn't want him to be my best friend. Though I don't see why not to go. Jasper and Emmet really want to, and I thought it wouldn't be bad to spend some time with the guys." "Wow... So now I'm not one of the guys" "Bella... You are certainly NOT a guy... Anyways, I must know..." He said without peeling his eyes from the road. "So you get into my pants and now I'm too girlie to spend time with?" "Don't be ridiculous... You know that if I need a guy's or a girl's opinion I always come to you first." "I guess that you do need some testosterone from time to time. Just don't get too smug." "I did pop your cherry." He said grinning wickedly. "Aren't you proud..."
"I did pop your cherry." He said grinning wickedly. "Aren't you proud..." "As a matter of fact I am." "Well I took your virginity and I'm not prancing around and bragging. Am I?" I said looking directly at him. "You did knocked out a couple of things from your 'Things to do before getting to college' list though." "Let's see... Losing virginity... Checked... Helping Edward lose his... Checked... And who knows, maybe if you pledge next fall, I can check 'Sleeping with a frat boy.'" "I thought you were looking forward Chad." "I'll never sleep with one of your fraternity brothers, don’t worry." "I guess that'll make Claude happy." "Who is Claude again?" "Goth boy." "Nice one dude!" "My pleasure." "So what sort of things did I help you check on your own list, kind sir?" "Well, I guess the same ones. Not to mention I got away with the coveted 'I got into Bella -I think men are scum- Swan’s pants'." "Yeah. Lot of people queuing for that one." By now we had arrived home. Esme and Carlisle's cars where already parked at the house while Emmet's jeep was missing, since he had gone to drop off Rosalie. When we went inside I could hear Esme working in the kitchen. "Honey, we're home!" "Hey Bells, hey Ed! Dad is in his study and Emmet is not here yet. Go do some homework or at least pretend to while I'm done with this and then we can have dinner." "Want to jam?" Said Edward looking at me. "Are the Beatles British?" We went to the basement; Esme had kindly let us cover the walls with egg cartons for the acoustics. I grabbed my electro acoustic guitar and started playing some chords; while Edward soon started improvising a melody with his. We really enjoyed just doing this, letting the music lead away. Most of the times we would have to stop and laugh because we'd end up playing something familiar, and me. being the one with the mind that stored all kind of random information would recognize that we had been plagiarizing someone else's music. But sometimes, in very special occasions, we'd find ourselves making something truly unique. The beauty of it, I found, was that we were never writing chords down, never recording it. The beauty was in the fugacity of all. Edward really had a knack for the sweetest, most harmonious melodies. Not just average saccharine ballads, but something that pulled you with a feeling of familiarity, and then completely blew you away because it had taken you in a complete different direction. I liked my friend's mind for the very same reason, I'd be sure what way it was going but then, he'd take me somewhere completely different. After jamming for a while we started playing a song we had been working on, we were in our grunge period and had been working on Pearl Jam's "Black". I liked songs that started slow and clean and then got all dirtied up (that’s the technical term I gave the phenomenon), there is something cathartic about screaming on the top of you lungs. I was fully into the last verses, singing my heart out 16
with eyes closed about the firm belief that a lost love would be a star in somebody else's sky when, abruptly, my guitar went silent. "What the hell?!" I said opening my eyes as Edward was doing the same. Emmet's smiling face was there in front of us holding the unplugged cables of our guitars. "Emmet you idiot, don't ever mess with the guitars" Yelled Edward "Well you two were too into it to hear me. Mom says food is ready. And by the way. That actually sounded good. " "Thanks Em" We went upstairs to find Esme and Carlisle already at the table. I gave him a loud kiss on the cheek and sat next to him. "Hey Carlisle!" I said with an overacted sweetness. "No. You cannot go and whatever you and Edward are thinking about forget about it." He said in a preemptive strike "What? You hurt my feelings" I said feigning hurt. "Oh, the wonders of having a daughter" He said smiling. I really enjoyed playing like that with Carlisle. It really hurt not having Charlie anymore, but it was nice to pretend to be a child again and have him treat me differently than the boys. "Anyways...Emmet tells me the Shakespeare festival will be gore-free this year. Are you two proud to be banned from school grounds on that night?" "If you ask me, we could have done way much better this year." Said Edward "Well, I guess for us is better if you two don't get yourselves expelled. What are you going to do that night. We are still going if Emmet acts again." Said Esme. "Don't worry about us Esme, I'm sure we'll find something to do." I said reassuringly. "That actually worries me." "And you haven't even heard the boys' plans for the weekend." I said wickedly as I tried to get them into trouble. They were not happy with me. "What are you planning to do?" Said Carlisle. "Ah... Nothing especial..." Said Emmet "Oh come on Em, tell him about that get together." I said mischievously. "Some people from school are getting together at Sean Lake's house." Said Edward "Okay..." Said Carlisle perceiving that something wasn't completely being disclosed. "You're taking Bella." "What?!" Said the three of us at the same time. This surely had backfired. "But... but... I don't want to go... I wasn't invited." I pleaded. "If you don't go, they don't go. I think if you are there these two are going to behave, or at least they'll be worried about you being okay. Ah! And I'm checking all your breaths when you get home to make sure no one comes home drunk." We were all visibly upset. "Nice going Bella..." Said Emmet. "Shut up." I replied. "Okay, that's enough. You'll do what your father said. Now, eat!" Chimed in Esme. After dinner I was in my room doing homework when Edward came in. "Hey..." "Hey... I'm sorry about that I just wanted to mess with you both." "No problem. I guess you're coming now." "Oh no... I REALLY don't want to go." "Well, Bells. You have no choice. Two against one. And anyways I think Alice and Rose are coming 17
too. You could really use some girl time with them." "But why, if I have you for that?" I said messing with him. "Yeah... That was really smart. You should definitely go to an Ivy League School." "Sorry... Couldn't help myself. I guess I'll do the whole girlie thing. Though I'm not going to get suckered into the whole cinderella-make-up thing that Alice will try to pull. It's going to be business as usual for me." "Well, that girl can still dream about making you look like a girl." "Ouch" "You know what I mean. I'm going to see Jasper. I'll tell Alice to start getting her make-up ready." He smiled as he left my room. "Traitor!" ------I fell asleep alone that night thinking about the economical systems I was reading for class and trying to avoid thinking about what Edward and I had been doing on our spare time. Our relationship hadn't been suffering. We were still close and talked about everything. Nothing was taboo, not even our little experiment. Yet there was something that was getting heavier and heavier in my mind, but I couldn't quite define it. That vertigo grew deeper in my sleep, and unable to control it got me up from my sleep forcefully. It was very weird; I woke up with the imperative to run, to flee. I was propelled from the bed to start running, my mind still asleep. And just as fast as I went up I went down with a thud, something had kept me attached to the bed. "Agh!" I complained quietly. "Are you okay?" Said a deep voice. My left foot was still on the bed while the rest of me was sprawled next to it on the floor. My eyes opened and my mind suddenly awoke to the sight and smell of shaggy carpet. 'What was I doing here?' "Bella? What are you doing on the floor?" I could now see Edward when I looked up, his hand still clutching my ankle. "Damn it Edward. You are holding my ankle again. I guess I was sleep walking... Or better yet, I intended to sleep run." He chuckled quietly. "I didn't feel you lay down." "You were out when I came in. I couldn't sleep. Get over here" He said as he extended his hand and helped me up and back on my bed. "You okay?" "Yeah. Just a little shaken. I guess I was having a very lively dream." "You've been a little restless lately. Nightmares?" His voice was concerned. "No. Not that I know of. Just a little anxiety. But I don't know why." "Come here." He said as he held me close to him. His hand tracing circles on my back trying to sooth me. I breathed in his smell, my face against his t-shirt. He smelled like a man. I really couldn't call it anything else. Men had that smell that could be bad and nice at the same time. It was familiar and calming. I had my hand around him and soon it had gotten under his shirt. I lazily moved it back and forth over his abdomen and all the way to his back. That part of his body, I had found out, was extremely soft. I played a little with the coarseness of the trail of hair that ran from his navel down. I heard him gasp. That brought me back to my senses. I had not realized what I was doing. I t wasn't my intention to start something. 18
I was awaking the lion. That was now a pivotal second where I had to make up my mind of where to go next. His hands were under my top touching chastely my back. He wasn't forcing anything, still waiting to see if I was trying to say more with my touch, but I could sense his eagerness. I felt generous and continued touching, giving him a green light. My fingers were now over his hip bone, that land on the male body that I discovered, had a certain femininity to it. Such a contradiction, being so close to the all mighty source of manliness and yet so vulnerable at my touch. He was now sighing sweetly. His arms now held me tighter, pulling me closer, forcing me to feel small and delicate enveloped in his body. His feet were rubbing up and down my legs, shifting my pants, uncovering a little skin here and there of my shins. We kept touching and caressing ever so slowly. Slower than ever before, rush free. Soon clothes were pushed, taken off. I felt my body prepare with anticipation. It didn't matter who we were, what we were, nothing but a female body getting ready to receive, to envelope, to be bigger and stronger. "Are you ready for me?" He breathed low in my ear. I just nodded as I open myself to him. Such a sweet surrender. My legs locked around him, keeping him close, keeping him safe. By know he knew what to expect, how to proceed. He was well versed on the power of the moonlight, the rocking of the tide. I knew him. I knew him well. I had been learning how to make him moan, and groan and sigh. Such a complex labor love was. A full body score to read and play. Tensing, relaxing, staying still and moving everywhere. Symphony of sound and silence. He picked up his tempo, my hips were dancing to it. In the dark he came to me as I came to him. Spent. Exhausted we stayed embraced. My feet rubbing against his, trying to get buried under. "Your feet are cold... You feet are always cold." He said. I peeled myself from him and started to dress myself. "Are you okay?" "Yes... I am... I just... Do you mind if I sleep alone tonight." He sat up and looked for his clothes. "Okay... I don't mind... Is something wrong?" "No... I just think I want to be alone tonight. I'm not mad." "Whatever you need." He said getting ready and up. I had no idea what had prompted me to ask for space. I just knew I needed it.
Friday morning. 6:00 am. The alarm went off. I woke up feeling restless, with an unknown feeling stuck in my throat. I looked at myself on the mirror not liking what I saw. It was going to be a self-loathing day. I went to my closet and pulled jeans and a t-shirt, then opened my underwear drawer and got out a cotton set, the most comfortable I could find knowing I was not going to be comfortable at all. I went in the bathroom closing the door behind me, the other door was ajar, I peaked in and noticed Edward was still asleep. I closed that door as well trying not to wake him. I wasn’t ready to face him yet. I stepped into the shower, hot water scalding my back wanting to clear the black cloud over me, I didn’t want it to follow me anymore. I heard knocking on the door. "Hey Bells, Are you going to take long?" "No... Ten minutes tops!" I yelled. I went back to my melancholy. Before long I was done and ready to get out. I wrapped the towel around me and stepped out. I looked at the steam-stained mirror while I brushed my hair as I noticed Edward coming in. He stood right behind me. "Feeling okay Bells?" He said looking concerned. "Yup. I'm fine. Just a little melancholic. But don't worry I'm fine." "Okay then, I'll take a quick shower." In an automatic motion he placed a hand on my shoulder and quickly kissed the back of my head. It was a fleeting moment but I felt a wave inside. "I'll finish getting ready in my room. See you in a bit." I finished dressing and put my hair in a pony tail, I really wasn't in the mood to try to deal with it. I went downstairs and found Emmet getting his breakfast ready. "Up before everyone else, I'm impressed Em" "Morning Bella, cereal?" "Yes please" I said taciturnly. "What's wrong sunshine, you don't seem your usual today. Where is the firecracker I call my de facto sister?" "Neh... Dunno... Might be PMsing" I said knowing it would make Emmet cringe. "Bella, please... I'm not Edward..." "Yeah... That boy is way too comfortable with my womanly cycle." "I think the two of you are probably in sync." He made me laugh and pulled me away from my moodiness. "Very funny Emmet." Said Edward having heard the end of our conversation. "Cereal?" I said passing along the box that Emmet had given me a few minutes before. "Yes please. So today is the aforementioned party right?" "Yipee..." I said chewing and crunching loudly on purpose. "Shit. Now not only we have to bring you, you are going to be all PMS bitchy" Said Emmet. "Keep it up and I'll make you buy my tampons Em. Okay, okay. I already said I'll go. And I'm sorry I tried to put you on the spot last night. I promise I'll be good Em. No making you uncomfortable, not making a scene, and not sulking in a corner, happy?" "Add to it, not calling anyone a moron or a slut, or anything else that might be condescending. And I don't want to threat anyone because your sharp mouth got you in trouble. Okay?" "Okay DAD! Anyways, I made a deal with Ed. I'm going to go with Alice and Rose, and I will try to be normal." "You are going to get ready with them?" Emmet sounded incredulous. "She'll actually let Alice do her make-up" Edward said smiling. Emmet smiled as well. 20
"You two enjoy this way too much. Alright let's get to school." "I'll see you both there, I'll go pick up Rosalie. We should decide what we're doing at lunch time." Said Emmet heading to the door. On the ride to school Edward was silent. I worried when he didn't talk to me, it usually meant that I was in trouble. "You're not mad, right?" "What do you mean?" "Ah... About last night?" "Ah... You mean about using and kicking me out." He was now grinning. "Right... I'm sorry about using your body... But I really respect you... Really" I said trying to sound like a guy. He laughed. "Bells... I'm not mad... I'm... concerned?" "Listen... I don't know what's going on... I just... Needed a little space." "Don't worry... I won't punish you withholding sex." He was now enjoying this way too much. "I think you give yourself way too much credit." "Gotta have a good self-esteem you know?" "Okay, lover boy, just get us to school." Everything was right in my universe again. I wanted to believe that. Though I knew that my anxiety was still lingering somewhere, despite Em and Edward thinking it was PMS. I knew for sure it wasn't that. At lunch we were all sitting outside, it was a nice sunny day. "So, what's the plan for tonight?" Asked Alice. "You girls should get all dolled-up and see us at Sean's." Said Emmet. "You're coming Bella?!" Said Alice surprised. "Way to make me feel loved Alice." "I'm just surprised. Happily surprised." I could see her wicked thought starting to form. "Hold it missy. You are not changing me." I said with a stern look. "Glad to know you're coming along Bella. But I know that this is not exactly your cup of tea. What prompted the change of heart?" "Carlisle's evil plan." Said Edward "Apparently Bella will be the little caustic ball and chain that will keep us out of trouble tonight." "Who's keeping Bella out of trouble though?" Said Jasper. "Ouch. My self-esteem is just getting better and better." I said. "Wait. You are getting the full Alice treatment. I get it now." Jasper added. I could see Alice eyes sparkling. "Stop it Alice. I want to look like me." "Oh, she promised me she'll let you do her make-up." Added my best friend, though that title seemed a little loose right now. "Make-up, hair, dress and heels." Said Alice "Oh no! I'm wearing jeans and a t-shirt. My own boots, and no puffy hair." I countered. "Make-up and dress, nice shoes." "Forget the dress. I'll throw in a nice top from MY OWN wardrobe." "If you promise to wear your good jeans, boots that don't require the combat qualifier and thrown in a manicure from Rose you got yourself a deal." "Okay... You are a tough negotiator Miss." "That's my girl" Said Jasper. 21
"Okay then, so we'll go directly from school to Bella's and we'll see you all at Lake's house. You boys should get ready at Jasper's so you don't peak." Directed Rosalie. This was going to be a drag. For me at least. A few hours later I was sitting in front of the mirror, with Alice curling my hair and Rose taking care of my nails. "Bella! Your nails are awful and you have blisters and scabs on your fingers." Complained Rose "That's the steep price my mistress demands for her wonders." I said cryptically "She means playing the guitar make her fingers bleed." Explained Alice. "Well, I'll do my best." She said challenged. "No worries. Claude is not into flawless manicures." "Claude?" "Future lover from college. Pale, very pale, slightly cute, very tormented goth boy... Edward named him you know?" "Were you smoking something when he named him?" "No... Just foretelling our future love lives." "And what is Edward’s, I'm intrigued." "Malibu Barbie. Very hot, very California. Not that bright though. She slept with Claude though, crushed my heart. But don't tell Edward he doesn't know yet. The poor thing." "You are one freaky chick Bella. But I really like you." Said Alice looking at me through the mirror. "Well, despite the two of you wanting my charming self to go away, subjecting me to this modern day torture and trying to mold me into a stereotyped standard of beauty, I really dig you guys." "One day that tongue is going to get you in trouble you now?" "Oh it has... It already has..." ------The outcome of my grooming wasn't bad. It wasn't bad at all. I still looked like myself: I was wearing an Alice and Rosalie approved top that came from Esme's closet, since nothing in mine was up to standard. It was nice but quirky. It had character; it was black and very 20's, very flapper style. I was wearing boots. The most feminine ones they could find, again from Esme’s closet, since all my footwear deserved the “combat” qualifier. And Alice had made my make-up dark, slightly goth with smoky eyes, I guessed inspired by the whole Claude conversation. Them in turn, were lovely, too mainstream for my taste, but lovely. We arrived at Lake's house. I couldn’t believe I knew his name now. And we could see Emmet and Edward's cars already there. We were greeted by a noisy crowd, formed by a lot of jocks, a lot the school's snobby beautiful girls and a few of what I called down to earth folk. I was probably going to be the only freak. I knew I would be tolerated because of my Cullen kin though. We made our way in as we could since it was pretty packed. And spotted the boys standing near the keg. Emmet seemed to have beer in his hand. He was going to be so busted. "Pretty ladies." Said Jasper greeting us. "You clean up well Swan" Said Emmet to me. "You not so much Cullen" We were all kissing on the cheek. And then I got to Edward. "Hey you." I said as I leaned in to greet him. "You look good." He said as he placed his hand on my hip and kissed my cheek. I felt a little unbalanced by the closeness. His hand was firm on my hip and for a second made me remember the same firmness and confidence that he used when we were intimate. It scared me a little, first time being confused about our roles and places. He seemed to sense it as well, as he looked into my eyes for a little longer than usual. I let go and 22
moved to stand next to him, leaning against a tall table. "Goth boy would be all worked up" He said pointing at my make-up. "Yeah, you noticed it too. Alice got inspired. I told her about Claude so she did her fashion version of goth." "it suits you" "Well thank you." I had started noticing something new amidst the noise and hordes of people. Some sort of energy between us, that intensified when our skins touched. I felt a sudden vertigo. Something was changing. I wondered what it was and guessed that the spark of our nightly activities was starting to seep into our everyday life. I was scared shitless. I was deep in my thoughts when he headed some place else, to get pass us he brushed against me and I felt a range of things he had made me feel the previous nights. I realized with panic my anxiety had been traveling south and I felt it now palpitating under my belly. I realized then the true name of the sensation. It was desire. Laced with something else, something warm and silly. I forced myself away from that thought. "You want to dance Bella?" Rosalie had pulled me from my thoughts. "Ah... Sure, why not?" I said and followed her. Music was not so bad, something that sounded latin, easy to follow, and lots of people were dancing as well, so I didn't feel too much on display. I let my worries fly away while I closed my eyes and moved to the rhythm. Soon something pulled me back, a pair of hands around my waist. It incensed me and I turned around, ready to break my promise to Emmet. But I found Edward holding me instead of the drunk jock I had suspected. He was looking at me intensely, and I liked it. We danced for a while and I felt like I was dancing on the edge. My self-preservation mode urging me to flee, my body and my heart urging me to stay. After a while I let go, and said I needed to get some water. I went into a bathroom and splashed my face. I looked at me in the mirror and decided I was not yet ready to name my emotions. I dried my face and made sure my make-up was still fine. Going back I saw Edward dancing with a blonde girl, she was being quite forward and whispering things in his ear. I felt a pang. I needed to get air so I went out. Outside it was calm, there was a small patio slightly enclosed by shrubs and flower beds, I sat down on a chair and looked at nothing in particular. "There you are! I've been looking for you everywhere. You know I need to know where you are or Carlisle will be mad." "Sorry I'm always your punishment." I said icily "What is that supposed to mean?" "Nothing... Just I'm sorry you always get stuck taking care of me and getting in trouble on my behalf." “That’s bullshit…” He said visibly upset "You know what your problem is Bella?" "No, but please enlighten me Edward" I said acidly. "Your problem is that all our lives you have thought that I'm this spineless boy that does exactly what you tell him to do. And please spare me the whole crap about what a bad influence you have been on my life" We were going to have to show our hands now. "I just think that you didn't need the screaming orphan next door, you didn't need to feel the responsibility of taking care of me, of saving me, and god knows that it's not in you to be out and loud..." "Cut the crap, I may be a little more reserved than you and maybe I am drawn by your colorfulness and personality, but my life has never been about just drifting towards you" 23
We were silent for a while. "Who was she? She seemed... nice" I finally said "Who?" "The girl you were dancing with" "Ah... Ashley." "You surely looked like you were having fun." And I was already regretting saying that. "She started dancing next to me while you were away" "She was doing more than dancing next to you, she was telling you things on your ear, all over you" My blood was starting to boil. "Is this what I think it is?" "This is nothing. You can do whatever you want to do with whomever you want to, just don't come to my bed when someone else got you all worked up. I won't be used like that." I was clamming up. Full protection mode. "Is this what you think of me? I can see now how low I am in your eyes." Disappointment was now palpable in his voice. "This is just very complicated. I had not foreseen this contingency." "What contingency?" "Feeling... territorial..." He was lightly laughing. "What's so funny? "Why do you think I put my hand on your hip when you arrived? And then why I had to come and hold you when you were dancing? I saw how guys were looking at you." "You didn't like them looking at your little sister that way?" "No Bella... I didn't like them looking at my woman that way."
"You didn't like them looking at your little sister that way?" "No Bella... I didn't like them looking at my woman that way." That one was heavy and he said it without looking at me. I felt the full force of what we had agreed upon: what was supposed to be no strings attached implied a lot more than what we had thought. "We always had issues about people coming in between." I said. "Yes. I can't be with you the way we do and not feel like you belong to me. " He was now looking directly at me. I was feeling so confused I was lightheaded, not sure where I wanted this to go. What were we agreeing on? That we were capable of jealousy? That this arrangement was a mistake? That we were morphing into something else? Or was it just the beginning of the end? "I guess it's safe to say this is no longer an experiment" "You got that right." We were silent for a few minutes. There was something in my throat that just wouldn't let anything come out. I was lost for words. "Are you going to say anything at all?" His voice had now a tangible frustration. "Edward! Bella!" Jasper's voice broke the tension. "We're here!" Said Edward. "Hey guys. Just wanted to tell you that Carlisle wants you guys back NOW." "What happened?" I said somewhat relieved to shift the focus. "Well, Emmet was having fun, so he tried calling Carlisle and telling him that he was staying with me. Carlisle, not having been born yesterday, said no, and that he wants the three of you back within 15 minutes. Ah! He also said that breath check is still on and that if any of you drank alcohol he better not be seeing that person driving home." You got to admire Emmet's courage... Or his stupidity. "Is he drunk?" I asked "Not at all. He only had that one beer. He actually wanted to have another one, so that's why he called." "How we gestated together eludes me." "Okay, so I guess we have to get going. Wait. What are we going to do with driving?" I said. "Jasper, can you go with Alice and Rosalie?" asked Edward. "Yes" "Then, Bella, you drive my car and I'll drive Emmet's jeep" We got up and walked back inside to fetch Emmet. Edward looked back to me for a second and said: "You know Bella. For being the most intelligent person I know after mom and dad. You can be really dense sometimes." Harsh. But true. Dense and more than anything: a coward. I followed Edward and Emmet on the Volvo and as we approached the house I could see Carlisle and Esme at the door. This was going to be interesting. Carlisle did make us breath on him. You have to give it to him, he is a man of conviction. Emmet actually tried to pull the lame sucking in instead of blowing out. Carlisle caught him and made him do the full sobriety test. He only had the one beer so he was fully capable of doing anything, and probably even driven without a problem, but we all knew better, Carlisle was a surgeon after all and got to perform emergency surgery on pretty gruesome drunk-related accidents. They were glad that Emmet hadn't drank more than a beer and commended us for being safe, but that didn't get Emmet out of losing his jeep privileges and having now an earlier curfew. 25
I went to sleep unable to face Edward. I didn't know where we were standing. My anxiety was back plus a new heavy feeling of guiltiness. I tossed and turned unable to sleep. I was avoiding him as I was avoiding myself. I was terrified. My mind started going to the dark side, anxiety was setting in and I knew I was going to have a panic attack. I needed Edward. I walked through the bathroom and I could hear him quietly playing his guitar. As I opened the door his silhouette was visible on his armchair, guitar in hand. I slowly approached until I was right in from of him and couldn't tell if he had seen me or not. it was dark. My right palm sat on the strings silencing the guitar. "Bella.." It was all he said. I gently took the guitar away, and replace it, filling the void with my own body. "Just hold me" "You are trembling." "Just make me stop thinking." I said and he did. I knew that we needed to talk but right now I needed him to stop me from falling down the rabbit hole. A truce had to be called. Everything put on hold to save me from my madness. He knew I needed to get out of my mind, of all words. So he spoke with his hands, and I replied with mine. I was straddling him on his armchair, his lips on my neck. My left arm snaking around to his back and my right under his arm and hooked over his left shoulder. The left shoulder that I clutched as a saving board to keep me afloat. The piece of him where I could bury my face, ashamed of what I made us do, ashamed that I enjoyed this so much; the shoulder I could hold on to because it was the place reserved for best friends to cry upon, but instead I would use it to muffle my sounds when I violently came. "Bella..." he said between moans. I could tell he wanted to ask something, while his strong arms eased my body up and down on him. "Do you think about ... this... me... during... the day?" He had asked something that I was not entirely sure I wanted to answer, not just to him, but to myself as well. As always, I used humor to protect me. "Says the man... screwing... my brains… out..." I said out of breath. "Am I?" He said smiling crookedly. "Edward..." "Bella... Answer me." "I... do..." He forced my face to face his, and between the shadows of his room I could see his intense eyes. "I think about it... About you... About being… inside of you... During... the day... when you get… too close to me... I don't want... anyone else... here." 'Here' he said as he kissed the skin on my neck. "I don't want... anyone else... either." It was all I could say. His voice, his words, had sent me past the point of no return, I arched my head as it hit me, as he caught my nipple in his mouth and spilt deep inside of me. -----The weekend had been very family-oriented. Carlisle was taking any opportunity to lecture us on having common sense and waiting to be more mature before facing adult experiences we may think we were prepared for, but actually we weren’t. All was obviously directed at Emmet but of course it was a good chance for him to give the three of us a lesson, a very democratic lecturing. His words, however, had a very different meaning to me, I felt I deserved the whole speech since I had made Edward and I dive into a situation that, as I had started to accept, had no chance of being sustainable. We were at a 26
fork and I was terrified about the possible options. We weren’t having time to really discuss what had happened, what had been happening or what we had said out in Sean Lake’s patio. Carlisle and Esme had taken the three of us in a series of errandsslash-family-activities: from going to the mall to get us all new clothes (slightly more feminine for me and formal shirts and slacks for the guys as Carlisle was adamant about the picture perfect family) to the mother of all grocery shops (I think we now had Kirkland non-perishables to last us ‘till kingdom came.) We had every meal that weekend at the table, all together, no tv, laptop, cell phone, Ipod, you name any other technological gadget, all banned. Nothing but good old family time. Both nights neither of us visited the other, I stared at the ceiling thinking that maybe for the first time I had no idea what was going on in Edward’s mind. Monday morning came and since Emmet couldn’t drive we were all silent in the Volvo. Every attempt to a conversation would lead us to a halt. “Edward, you shouldn’t have taken this road, we’re going to be late.” Said Emmet impatiently “I know where I’m going and this is my car.” “Yes, but my way is so much better.” “You just take another way because you normally pick up Rosalie, and since we are not picking her up, your way would be just a ridiculous detour” “How is Rose getting to school today Em?” I said trying to defuse an arising argument. “She’s driving her own car and will be doing so until I’m not grounded.” He mentioned with disappointment. “So you’re not coming home with her?” “No. To make matters worse Carlisle called her parents to let them know I was being grounded and couldn’t pick her up, and of course her parents shared what had happened with…” “Your little indiscretion?” I cut him off. “Rose told you? Or was this chatty Kathy?” “She did, but to be honest I kind of tricked it out of her. I’d high five you but getting caught like that made you lose serious points.” I said trying to cheer him up. “You are just making fun of me because you don’t have a chance at being in the same situation. I don’t see any gentleman callers ringing our bell.” Edward was laughing. He enjoyed this way too much. “Well, Emmet, that is none of your business. And to be fair, for me to be in your same situation they would not be gentlemen nor would they be ringing the bell.” -----After our Spanish class Edward pulled me aside and I could see that my period of grace was coming to an end. “So you’re just going to pretend nothing happened?” “No, I’m not pretending nothing happened. I’m trying to avoid facing the consequences of what happened, which is very different. And anyway, I don’t think this the time nor the place to talk about it” I was trying to make my point and at the same time avoid anyone else figuring out what we were talking about. Edward walked pulling me gently by the arm, heading towards a semi-secluded area outside. “Well, with Emmet around all the time it’s hard to find the right time and place.” “I know… I’m just… scared.” “Yeah… Tell me something new.” “I don’t want to lose you, okay?… I don’t want our friendship to go away.” “Bella… It’s not going away…” He looked sad. “I know… And you know… I’m not delusional… I know this situation can't be sustained forever. I 27
know that our… arrangement had an expiration date… But somehow this morphed into something else, and I don’t know where to go from here.” “I know… I feel the same. I know that I’ve been feeling things that … I shouldn’t be feeling about my best friend.” “Or your somewhat sister.” He laughed quietly. “Yeah… That is quite creepy. Let’s not think about it anymore please.” “Sorry.” “I know… The good old shield.” This man knew me way too well. “Listen, you are still my best friend, and I can talk and laugh with you, and I want to play the guitar and make fun of all the rest of the mortal souls. But then… I can’t pretend that sometimes I have this very primal, Neanderthal almost, claim over you. And it just gets so confusing, it already was confusing before everything…. We had that ‘us against the world’ kind of thing and it just made me feel so comfortable. Too comfortable actually… Maybe that’s why I never tried to have something with a girl.” I forced myself to ask what I dreaded, but since he had opened his soul to me I felt I had to reciprocate. “What do we do now?” “I don’t know… I feel like we have to let this progress naturally. I can’t force this. I just don’t want to fuck it up.” “Can we be our regular selves?”“Of course” He was smiling now. It was going to be okay. “And… the rest?” “I don’t know… let it flow naturally… Listen Bella… I’m not going to pretend it didn’t happen, and definitely I won’t pretend I don’t like touching you… Being with you. But that can’t be a chore, an errand or an experiment any more.” “I agree.” “Okay, then, let’s go grab lunch, before the others send a search party.” We started walking towards the cafeteria. “By the way I heard about Barbie cheating on me. I can't believe it. And with Claude." He said to lighten the mood. "Alice told you huh? “Yeah, she did… She and Rose think you’re on Ritalin, you know?” “What did you say?” I asked with a smile. “That you are just naturally insane… Anyways the kids are going to be devastated.” "You have good kids though. They’ll understand.” "What about yours?” "Mine? Oh, goth boy and I didn't have any” "Really? not an Edgard, Allan and Poe Goth running around? I think you should definitely reproduce. "Yeah, why? I’m not particularly the image of maternity.” "I beg to differ. I think you'd be a great mom” "Oh, I don't think so” "Sure, maybe not your playdate-ballet-soccer mom. But you'll make a good one. You’ve done well with Emmet and me.” "I love the Edgar Allan Poe inspired names by the way. Great touch. I'm hoping Poe is a girl of course.” "Oh no... It should be Lenore... That's a good Edgar Allan Poe inspired name for a girl." "Nevermore?" I asked grinning. “Nevermore.”
The game we have been playing, since declaring our experiment lost, had been long and complicated. Rules were made up as we went, instinct leading the way. It seemed like the two sides to our relationship had been slowly contaminating each other. Weeks went by while we played this slow and wicked game. At night, we no longer played the part of explorers conquering a new land, nor we were in a scientific study of the mating rituals of men and women. We were no longer bullshitting each other with those roles. Our encounters were now sporadic, but spontaneous and openly enjoyed. We were enjoying this transitional stage, taking forever to take a new step. Such an exquisite and cruel torture. We had acknowledged we were lovers in daylight, when we were alone or if no one was looking, with brushed kissed on the back of my neck as he walked by me on his way to the fridge and long conversations about music and books while I molded my body to his, laying on the floor of the family room in front of a neglected tv. And at night, in bed, we were friends again, talking about silly stuff and making jokes. “Are we 'friends with benefits'? Because I really don’t like the term.” I said. “What do you prefer then, 'sex buddies'?” He said with a smile. “That’s even worse” “Don’t name it then, that cheapens it.” “I guess we have entered no-name land now.” “I’ll tell you who we are. I am your friend, and the person that knows you best.” He said confidently “Oh, do you?” I asked daringly. “Want me to prove it?” He countered as he sat up. “Behold my superpower woman.” And he closed his eyes and leaned on me, making me tingle. “You have a freckle right here” He said placing a finger on my upper lip. “Am I supposed to be impressed by that?” “Wait woman. I’m not done… And here” He said trailing his hand down to the base of my neck. He then gently pushed my body to its side, until I was lying on my stomach. “There is a small constellation here” His fingers tracing circles on the right side of my upper back, just below my shoulder. “And here” he said with a kiss on the base of my back. “Two very sexy moons rest over here on your left cheek” he marked with another kiss on my bum, making me blush. “By now, you are blushing.” “You are cheating” “No, I am not.” Cockiness was filling his face . “Now, if we continue our expedition, there is one freckle here on the back of your left leg and a funny one on your right heel. Now we turn you around and we get to my second favorite here on your right hip. And we end on my personal favorite... Right here… the lonely satellite of your left nipple.” He said with a quick kiss, and then sitting up facing me as he opened his eyes. “How did I do?” I was speechless “That good huh?” His face was now inches away from my face. “How long have you been preparing that?” I asked 29
“Oh, A lifetime, Swan. A lifetime.“ “How am I not surprised your favorite is the one on my breast?” “Well, you might be surprised, but it’s not the breast that makes it my favorite. Though, it is a very nice breast. It’s because it’s the closest one to your heart… I used to think that freckle represented me you know? The person closest to you.” He probably saw the confusion and fear on my face. “Don’t give me that look Bells. I’ve known that freckle since you were flat as a board and did not require a top to go into a pool. So forgive me for feeling a little attached to it. It’s kind of mine. Let goth and frat boys get the twins on your bum. This one is mine.” After his sweet and weird monologue he lied down next to me and hugged me tight, his head rested on that spot he had just, as a New World explorer, claimed as his own, while I played gently with his messy hair and drifted smiling into sleep. I was suddenly awaken by knocking on my door and realized with horror that Edward was still asleep with his head over my chest. Cherub-like innocence in his nakedness. There was the knocking again and in pure panic I shook Edward awake. “Wha-” I silenced him with my hand on his mouth.“Shhh someone is at the door. So get up and get out!” “Bella?” I could hear Emmet outside my door as Edward was frantically picking up his clothes “Ah… Hmmm … Just a second Em! I’m just putting on something a little more decent.” “Bella? If you want I can go talk with Edward instead, I don’t want to bother you.” “No! I mean don’t wake him up, or… he’ll be cranky in the morning.” I said as I saw Edward jump to our shared bathroom. “Sorry about that” I said opening the door dressed with the sweatshirt I had been wearing earlier and Edward’s pajama bottoms “Sorry about it Bella, but I really need to talk. Do you mind? … Hey, are those Edward’s pj’s? They look a little too big for you.” “Ah… They’re … roomier… you know… I’ve been… a little bloated… with PMS and all” “Bella spare me the details. Oh and you better not wear my clothes when you have your … womanly stuff going on.” “Okay I promise… By the way, what do you do when Rose has her period, run for the hills?” “I’m not that bad you know. I just rather not talk about it okay?” "Alright Em, I won’t tease you. So what can I help you with?” “Well, It’s about Rose… I kind of have been on the doghouse. I thought I could use a girl’s advice.” “And you came to me?” I said in shock “Yeah… I’m kind of desperate” “Em, get the hell out!” I said faking anger. “Hey, you started it!” He had obviously bought it. “But I’m the only one that can make fun of me. I’m self-deprecating okay?” “You let Edward make fun of you.” He countered. “Well, he kind of earned the right. Anyways, what do you need to know, from a girl’s point of view?” “You know about the whole punishment for the beer, and the..” “Getting caught in flagrante delicto?” “You sure have a knack to make stuff sound less scandalous.” “I know. I’m your regular spin doctor.” “Anyways, Rose has been kind of frustrated. You know… She doesn’t have a lot of patience with me. “ 30
“Well maybe you need to think about the repercussions that your actions have on her. “ “What do you mean?” Said Emmet truly intrigued. “Like getting yourself grounded affects how often she sees you now, and for what I heard she kind of was nervous about getting caught but you were able to persuade her.“ “I see.” “I think us girls only want to feel like you guys think about us and listen to us. It’s not rocket science Em. Girls think too much and guys don’t think enough. We are always trying to figure out what you think, what you mean and hoping you’ll figure out what we want without us telling you. And you, of course, would much rather get simple and direct information of what we want and what makes us happy or not.” I finished my rant. “Wow. That’s an eye opener. Is that how you feel Bells?” “Oh no. I’m one of the dudes. I just went through some of Alice and Rose’s Cosmos while they were doing my hair one day.” “Admit it Swan. I think under all the attitude there is just a regular girl.” “Bite me Em” I said jokingly, but wondering if he was right. “Hey, what’s with all the noise, can you two keep it down?” We heard Edward say as he came through the bathroom, feigning sleepiness by rubbing his eyes. “Are those my pants? What’s with chicks stealing guys’ clothes? Buy your own damn men’s clothes if you like them so much.” He said pointing at my lower half and continuing with the charade. Oh he was going to get in trouble. “Well, it can be sexy you know?” said Emmet “I like when Rose wears my shirt and nothing more…” He seemed to ponder for a second and added: “Of course it's not the same thing when it's your sister wearing your clothes. So I get you bro.” “Okay you two, get the f… out of here.” I said tired of being the butt of their jokes. “You are really about to get your period. I’m out.” Said Emmet as he left a highly amused Edward staring at my annoyed self. ----The following morning we were all in the Volvo heading towards school, as it was now our habit. Car rides with Emmet were difficult, but they seem to be almost over, as his punishment was about to be lifted. His presence in the car, though welcomed, messed with our normal rhythm. Our conversations didn’t quite get the speed of our witticisms and sarcastic remarks. But despite all we loved him. “Are you okay? You have been quiet lately” Said Edward as turning briefly to look at me. “I’ve noticed too Bella.” Added Emmet from the backseat. “Nah… I just feel tired. I think I didn’t sleep too well. Or maybe it was because of you two morons keeping me up last night.” “It wasn’t that long. And besides, you been kind of off for a bit longer” Emmet replied. “Maybe you have mono, you haven’t been kissing anyone, have you?” “No, Emmet, I haven’t been kissing anyone lately.” That one was true. Besides that one kiss that Edward had used as a distraction, there were no other kisses, not to mention the one from when we were kids, if you could call that transaction a kiss. I realized that in our changing relationship that one thing was missing. We seemed to have been doing everything out of order. But I didn’t want to force that. Our premise had been spontaneity. ‘If it hadn’t happened by then it was because the time was not right’ I thought. There were kisses everywhere else though, just not on the lips. “I think I might be PMSing…” I said with my Emmet trumping card, trying to veer away the conversation. 31
“Oh man! Chicks are always doing that! It’s like a never ending cycle!” “Emmet. It definitely is a never ending cycle.” Said Edward with a smile looking back at our brother on the rear view mirror. “But you have been PMSing for what now? A few weeks? How long does that last, since you seem to be moody for so long.” Emmet was catching up. “How do you tell the difference between normal Bella and moody Bella bro? I can’t really see the difference. Maybe that’s why it seems so long.” Said Edward teasing me. “Why is it that when a girl is anything but sunny and perky it has to be her hormones, PMSing or having her period?” I said ticked off. “That’s some chauvinistic shit… And for your information Em, I just tell you it is PMS all the time because I know that’ll get you to drop the issue. Now, I don’t want to hear anything else until we get to school.” I said pointing my finger to both. “That means we are allowed to tease you at school?” Asked Edward without peeling his eyes from the road. “Shut it Cullen!” -------Later that day, as we approached our friends’ lunch table we could see they were having a lively discussion. They seemed to be having fun, which poked our interest. I sat down next to Alice, who turned around to point to both Edward and me and said: "...And of course Bella and Edward were each other firsts." That stopped me dead on my tracks. We were busted and would have to confess. Panicking, I felt Edward stiffen next to me. How had they figured it out? Had Emmet realized what had been going on last night? He couldn’t have just blurted it out to everyone else without confronting us first, would he? Was Alice the one who noticed? Could anyone really tell just by looking at us? I started mumbling and was about to spill everything when Edward jumped in. "What were you guys talking about?" He was going far and beyond to fake nonchalance. "First kisses" Said Jasper “You have missed some really funny stories.” That one was close. "We were laughing at how pathetic they all were… They’re only funny now in retrospect... Yours of course is kind of boring." Said Rose. "Sorry we don't fulfill your expectations." I said. "Are we going out for dinner after everything?" Asked Emmet changing the conversation. "Where are we going?" Said Edward looking at Emmet. "Ah, you are not going anywhere, remember? Banned for the festival." Alice quickly answered beating Emmet to it. "That stupid thing is not until a couple of weeks, what? Is there rehearsals or something? I was not aware the ban included preparations." I said taking a sip from a bottle of water. "No Bella. The festival is tonight." Alice informed me. As I almost choked on my water. "That can't be, I'm sure I would have noticed..." "Ah… Do you own a calendar?" Said my friend amused. "Okay, I've been a little distracted." "I think you have been more than distracted, you also have been sleepy and a little moody." What was with everyone thinking I was moody? "Thank you. That was sweet... I have been crampy, okay... So I should be getting my period very soon and then I'll go back to my charming old self, and stop bothering all of you.” They all laughed and went back to their plans, while I pondered on where time had gone. During class I kept thinking about my time confusion and started getting worried. I had been so distracted with figuring out Edward and me, and avoiding anyone else finding out, that I hadn't been 32
paying attention. And then, of course, as Emmet had stated, I was having the longest PMS in the history of the world. With dread I started counting days in my head until I got to a shocking realization. It couldn't be, I had had cramps, and had been spotting... I was on the patch... Most days anyways... Oh boy, vertigo was setting in. After class I must had been very out of it. Walking aimlessly like a zombie, listing in my head the number of things that made my theory insane. "Hey, you're not waiting for me now?... Is the honeymoon over?” Said Edward holding on to my arm and giving me his most playful smile. "Ah... no... Just have something in my mind..." "You seem to have been doing that a lot… So you have any ideas what we can do to entertain ourselves tonight, since everyone will be busy...” He said to me as we approached his car. This time we were alone, since Emmet had last rehearsal of his Shakespeare scene. "Oh... I have an idea...” I said as I got in the Volvo and closed the door gently. Edward started driving home while I sat there silent looking out the window. "So… Are you going to share your plans? Or do I have to guess? You need to need to give me a clue.” Boy did I ever. "We’ll we are going to need to stop at the pharmacy"I said. "Condoms?” He said partly joking, partly wishing. “Is that supposed to be a joke? We don’t even use them anyways…” That being the reason of my present preoccupation. "Okay then.. What is it then? Pads, tampons? That seems to match your current mood much better.” And strike two. “No Edward…” I said so annoyed that I just blurted it out “What I need is a pregnancy test, happy?” I guess he wasn’t. Since he hit the brakes so abruptly that I knew the next day we’d be regretting it with whiplash pain. I hoped that was the only thing we’d be regretting.
So there I was looking at the little plastic stick in my hand, impatient to know if I was to be punished for my abominable stupidity. Sitting on my bed across from me, staring at me with a perfect poker face was Edward. I paced around my room and thought. We had just been figuring out where we stood. And now who knew where that was going. I didn’t want to consider the implications of the possible outcome of our little experiment. No. No diminutives. I can’t think of any sort of diminutives. Nothing small, little, nor tiny. “Survey says?” He said breaking the silence and my train of thought. I sighed. It was time to man up and look. I looked down and I saw it. I must have been staring at this thing for a long time since I suddenly felt myself be tightly held. We were slowly swaying and he was kissing the back of my head. Was I still looking the thing? Completely fixated on the fortune it revealed? He already knew, he could see it over my shoulder. “I’m pregnant.” I said. And I couldn’t find a witty thing to say to save my life. “Bella?! Edward?! Carlisle and I are just about to head out to the festival to go see Emmett. If you get hungry there’s lasagna in the-“ And there Esme was, at my door, speechless. Nice picture we probably made : her son embracing me from behind, his face buried in my hair and me holding a very obvious pregnancy test. “Bella… What… Is… Is it… a pregnancy test?” This day has just gone from bad to worse. “Ah… Would you… believe me… if I told you it was a… thermometer?” I said trying desperately to lighten the mood and sucking royally at it. “Well, are you planning on putting that on your mouth?...” She said very slightly amused, mainly concerned and superbly shocked. “Oh Bella…” She was now approaching us, slowly. And then something else clicked in her mind, stopping her dead in her tracks. The whole picture suddenly made sense and fit perfectly together, like those stupid thousand-piece puzzles with nothing but blue-sky pieces when after much frustration you get a break. “The two of you?” Was all she said. Worse and worse… We nodded like little scared kids that had gotten caught breaking mom’s generation to generation passed priced family heirloom. Broken, irreparably, forever in pieces. “How did this happen?” Such an accustomed regally useless question us humans keep asking in times like this, I thought. “No wonder why you’re pregnant if the person that gave you ‘the talk’ is asking how.” Uttered pathetically my partner in crime. It was Edward’s turn to be a smart ass. 34
“You… do not… take… this… lightly… young man! I raised you better than this. I raised you both better than this!” And she was now mostly mad. “Esme!, We’re going to be late!” Carlisle’s voice was coming from downstairs. …and worse and worse… Esme breathed deeply. “Okay. We’re going downstairs to talk to your father.” …and worse. I looked around for a dog to come and piss on me now. -----"Carlisle... It was my idea. I'm so sorry. I know I betrayed your and Esme's trust. I'm..." I was now crying like a baby. We were all now in the living room. Carlisle and Esme sitting side to side, while we sat in front of them, guilty and humbled. We were close, but we were not touching. As I cried I remembered Emmett’s words, and I thought that he was probably right, deep inside I wasn’t made of steel, I was just a simple girl, now crying her eyes out when facing adversity. "You really think I believe for a second that this was just your idea?” Carlisle said. "Bella honey, I can assure you that you did not corrupt Edward into this. I hate to break it to you but any hot-blooded seventeen-year-old boy would jump to the opportunity... of… personal exploration... whatever you want to call it. And believe me. I'm sure the idea had crossed his mind already." I felt the proverbial divine light fall on me. Was Carlisle right? I turned to look at Edward. "You thought about it?" Nothing in my voice but surprise. He nodded and looked down embarrassed. "Dude! That is so wicked! If I wasn't the knocked up chick in question I would totally high five you right now!" Edward chuckled and gave his crooked smile. My heart calmed down. The bond wasn’t broken. "Bella..." It was all Esme could mutter. I knew she had given up on me. And yet I think she still loved my humor. "We don't hate any of you, we are a little disappointed. We worry on what this will mean for your lives, your futures. We will support you in your decisions, and even though you are throwing yourselves into situations that are way more mature than your years, our only hope is that you can rise above, and are still able to enjoy your youth, face your responsibilities and set the foundation for a bright future." Carlisle meant well, but sometimes he could be so serious. He continued. "I know that you think you know more than I give you credit for, but later, with life experiences, you will see what I mean. And given what you are getting yourselves into, I think it will be sooner rather than later.” "So what do you want to do?" Esme finally asked. Edward just looked at me, and reached for my hand. He had just conceded to whatever I was going to say. Even if he didn’t know what it was, or if he’d like it. He looked at his parents and said: “We love each other.” I looked at him as he said it. We did love each other, but I couldn’t tell what was what he meant. Sure I loved him, but did I love him? Did he? “We know you do” Esme said. “And your plans?” "I...hmmm… I'm all pro choice and everything... But… I can't... Knowing that I came unexpected... Knowing my parents could have chosen differently... They were so young… I can't..." 35
Where had words gone? I didn’t seem to catch them lately. "We understand Bella" Esme said as she came running to my side, and held me. I took a few moments to sob on her motherly embrace. I gathered myself and let go. I got up and paced, and finally, standing away from the three of them, my guard distancing safely I said what I was feeling deepest in me, what I was the most ashamed of. "And ... I don't know how to say this without feeling like an ungrateful bitch. But... I feel… I feel like this is my only flesh and blood … You are my family, but I can't let go... I can't give away of..." I was crying by know. I didn't need to say anything else. Esme had her arms around me again, this time, unwilling to let me go. "I know honey. I know. But you are our daughter. We loved you like a daughter before you came to us. And since then, you’ve been nothing but our daughter. Please understand that. And we will support you, all of you.” Carlisle and Edward had gotten up and were standing a few steps away from us unable to intervene, to enter in that women’s world. Those were the last words. It was an understanding. It affected them, and yet, it had been all my decision to make. The front door suddenly opened and Emmet, Rosalie, Alice and Jasper just barged in. Our brother and Rosalie were still in their medieval costumes. “Hey guys! We decided to come to get you instead of going out for dinner…” Emmett’s voice died down as they all suddenly took in the eerie coldness of the room. The living tableau they were staring at started to make sense.: My red eyes, Esme’s embrace, everybody’s concerned looks. They knew something was wrong. “What is going on?” Said Emmett visibly scared. “Well. We are not going to keep any secrets. This family has nothing to be ashamed. So I think you guys should tell Emmett… And everybody else.” Decided Carlisle. All eyes were on me. I had to let it out. “I’m pregnant Em” It was all I could say. “What?” You could see the surprise and confusion in his face, and then a touch of sadness. I did not know how to say the rest. Kindly Edward said it for me. Just by simply coming to my side and holding my hand. I looked at him and he looked at me. And suddenly everyone knew. “Oh my god!” Said Rose very quietly. “Edward?” Said Emmett. “Oh Bella” Alice said. Jasper was silent, giving us our space. He motioned to Alice to leave the house. She quickly came to me and gave me a hug and said that everything was going to be okay. And they left. The cat was now out of the bag. Rosalie looked uncertain, I could sense that she felt like an intruder in our family drama. She then moved trying to leave, but Emmett held on to her hand firmly. I noticed and thought, abandoning my worries for a moment, that it was such a sweet and loving silent request for support. I prompted me to speak. “Rose, please, stay. It’s okay.” I sniffled and got myself together. I smiled pathetically. “So… what’s the game plan?” Asked Emmett. “Well…” Answered Carlisle. “Our main concern is to be sure first. Though I highly doubt we’re wrong. Tomorrow you two are coming with me for a blood test.” “Edward needs a blood test too?” Emmet asked. “No, but they’re in this together.” Was Carlisle’s solomonic decision. “Our priority will be, obviously, that Bella is healthy and safe.” 36
“And now, I think we should all go to bed.” Said Esme “Bella, let’s go to your room.” That night Esme slept with me. We had talked until late but she had been careful to let me lead the way. She did not ask questions about us, but patiently waited for me to disclose only what I was ready to say. I told her it had started out of curiosity and then we were somewhere new and unknown. We were still trying to figure it out. She just kissed my forehead and said: “I’ll be rooting for you kiddo.”
The next day Emmett left for school while we followed Carlisle’s car to the hospital. Soon enough we had confirmation to what we all knew too well. Carlisle gave me a quick check-up and said he’d set up an appointment with an OB/GYN. And sent us on our way to school. School. I didn’t know how that was going to go. Esme had called ahead and said we’d be coming in late. We waited in the car until the end of the period so it wouldn’t be so noticeable when we arrived. I was thankful for not having to enter a class in progress, especially since we were both in that class. With the bell ring I knew I was out of time. I had to go and face my real world. We had been sitting in silence in the car. We hadn’t really talked. Sighing Edward got out and walked around to open the door for me. “Are you ready?” He said. “I don’t think so.” “It’s going to be okay.” And with that he took my hand and started walking. I was surprised, unsure of being like this in the open. “There is no need to hide it anymore.” He said noting my apprehension. So we walked hand in hand. And slowly, my courage resurfaced, I was not alone. As we passed people I could see them look at us. During class I even thought I could hear our classmates whisper our names. I couldn’t wait for lunch to come so I could go to our friends. I desperately needed some sort of normalcy. But time passed torturously slow. When lunch finally came we found the rest of the gang at the table. I felt their eyes focus on us holding hands, and I knew I was blushing, not sure if it was in response to our open affection or for the fact they knew what we had been doing, what we had done. I could see in Emmett’s eyes a slight anger as they were fixed on Edward’s. Of all the people on the table Emmett was the one I felt the most embarrassed facing. Perhaps it was because I knew he’d be thinking of what had been happening just mere feet from his own room. And because I could see now how much I loved him as a brother. All jokes aside, he was my brother. “Hey there Bella? How are you?” Asked Rosalie forcing the group trying to pretend everything was okay. “Oh… fine… considering.” I could play this game as well. “So… This… is new… For us at least…” Alice finally asked what they were all thinking. I stared at them blankly, unsure of what to say. Jasper and Emmett were silent, tension very tangible. “This is ridiculous” Said Rose “Okay, you guys go somewhere else, we want to talk and you obviously have no idea what to say.” She said firmly. “You too Edward.” Alice added“But…” “But nothing. Go.” Said Rose. “It’s okay.” I said. I could see the three of them leaving the cafeteria. “Okay… Let me have it.” I said turning back to face them. I needed them to yell at me. I knew I deserved it. But they didn’t yell. “Bella, since when?” Asked Alice. 38
“Ah… Pretty much since the beginning of the year?” “I can’t believe we didn’t see it coming. I can’t believe you have been secretly dating.” She continued. “Oh… Right…” She could see I was hiding something. “What do you mean? This… You weren’t dating secretly?” Asked Rose intrigued. “Well. It wasn’t technically dating…” Oh crap. How do I explain this? “Bella!” They both yelled in unison. “I know… I already hate myself. Look I can’t explain to you two how this exactly happened. It was… I don’t know… curiosity… It just happened and then… We just didn’t stop.” “So it was just sex then?!” Alice was truly shocked. “No! It wasn’t, but I don’t know what it is now okay?” My eyes had started to well up again, when I noticed people looking at me. Shit. “So… Seems like we’ve been putting up a show. People were looking at us when we arrived” “Ah… Bella…” Rose looked worried. “I think she should know.” Alice told her. “Know what?” Rose started talking: “Well… Seems like someone saw the two of you at the pharmacy going through pregnancy tests. And then since the two of you were absent this morning…” “And then of course you were holding hands. So pretty much everybody is speculating if you are pregnant.” Alice finished informing me. “Well, that explains why people are looking at me like I’m the queen of the damned… Anyways… It’s not like I wasn’t already in the freak side.” “Well, do not forget that you are the weird chick that was knocked up by her ‘brother’ “ Alice said gesturing quotation marks with her fingers as she said the word ‘brother’. “Ouch.” A smile started creeping in. And soon I started laughing. Seemed like suddenly I was ready to get all the building tension out by laughing at the ridiculousness of my situation. My laugh grew and grew as Rose and Alice joined me. “I cannot believe you Bella… All this time… I can’t believe we didn’t’ catch you guys.” Said Rose between laughs. “Well… As a matter of fact, Emmett kind of did. Edward barely made it out my room that night.” “And you had the audacity to laugh at me and Emmett getting caught!” We laughed some more. And I was thankful for the release this was for me. “So besides the obvious worry. What’s going up with you guys?” Asked now Alice getting back to serious matters.“Well… We haven’t really had time to talk” “You mean you haven’t talked since last night?” Asked Alice with surprise. “Actually we never talked since I took the test.” “You have not talked to Edward about the fact you are pregnant with his baby?” “Hmmm, no.” I said embarrassed as I look down. “Well, what are you doing speaking with us instead? You two should be talking. Now, go find him.” Commanded Rosalie. I nodded and got up to look for Edward. As I exited the cafeteria I made a small stop in the rest 39
room. While I was in the stall I heard some girls come in and started talking. “Can you believe it?” “She’s always been a freak. I’m not surprised she got in trouble.” “Do you believe what they say? That it’s Edward’s?” “Those two have been friends forever, though I really don’t see why he is her friend. And then of course the Cullens took her in when her parents died. I don’t believe for a second that it’s his. I think he’s just doing the gentleman thing and covering for her.” I was now feeling lightheaded. “So who do you think it was?” “Who knows, someone weird like her.” That was it. I couldn’t stay and listen anymore. I needed air. My mouth was salty and I feared I was going to be sick. But I could not stay in that bathroom. It was small and the air was stale. I left the stall slamming the door and going past their surprised faces. As I opened the door I realized one of the girls was Ashley, the blonde that had danced with Edward and Lake’s house. About was a million years ago. Of course she would want Edward to be with my just out of pity. As I walked through the hallways the looks I was getting and the people pretending not to look started taking a toll on me. I felt my cheeks burn, with the salty acid of my tears. I saw Edward on the other side of the hallway, visibly upset. He saw me and started walking faster towards me. For a second I thought we might collide with the force and speed we were walking. Instead I turned and took an adjacent hallway that lead outside to a secluded grassy area. “Bella!” I could hear him calling me. I did not want to stop. Suddenly his arm strongly held on to my arm. “Where are you going?” I notice in his voice a little anger. “I just need to get away okay?!” I was now raising my voice. “I’ll go with you then. okay?” “No, you can’t. I need to be alone” “And don’t you think we need to talk?” What about? It’s pretty clear that I’ve fucked up!” “What about?” He repeated my words incredulous. “I cannot believe you! I’ll tell you what about: What about what is going to happen with us? What about the fact that I’m in love with you and that you’re in love with me? What about the fact that you’re carrying my child? Don’t I deserve at least to talk about it?” “I know I got us into this mess, Okay? But right now I can’t deal with all of this.” “With what? Why are you shutting me out?!” We were both yelling now. I was surprised we didn’t have an audience; fortunately we had made it away from everyone else. “Well no one is shunning you in the cross-section of society that is high school! Don't you think I hear what they say? About what a freak I am and that, as always, you are cleaning up my mess? They are saying that you are pretending to be the father and be with me to protect me…. No one is judging you!” “What? “Yes, I heard Ashley, that girl you danced with before, talk in the bathroom with some other girl.” “Well I don’t fucking care about what people say!” He was very mad by now. “All those people are wrong. Do you really think that all our lives I've been forced to protect you? To pick up after you? And for what you’re saying right now, I'm not sure if you are accusing me of not being there for you or 40
being there too much.” I stayed silent. Couldn’t think what else to say. “You know what? This time I’m not going the one trying to convince you. If you so want to be alone, then I’ll grant you your wish.” And then he left. Why did I have to open my mouth all the time and have the verbal diarrhea spillage? More often than what I wanted to admit I would regret my words right as I was uttering them. I could see myself almost as an outer body experience wanting to slap my mouth shut. But I’d never stop talking. Oh how I let the venom pour. ‘What are you doing you idiot?’ Kept going in my mind. See, I know what to say to hurt somebody, and sometimes I so needed my words to make that someone bleed. Today it had been Edward the one I wanted to bleed. I was thinking this while I walked through the hallways of school, lunch break almost over. People around me stared and gossiped, as they moved away from me. Just a little while before that had hurt me so much, and yet it didn’t matter anymore. I hated myself for what I had said to Edward. I wanted so much to suffer to vindicate myself for my actions earlier that I thought I very well deserved the stigma that my scarlet letter was placing upon me. I saw Alice and Rose by their lockers so I headed towards them. “Well, hey there Moses” Said Rose, referring to people moving away of me and talking. “Taking your people to the promised land?” “Well, if by my people you mean me and the unborn, then yes.” “Actually I think your people count is now up to three” Said Alice pointing behind me. I looked back and I saw the Red Sea part again, this time around somebody else. I could not believe probability would allow for some other knocked up teen wander our school. I smiled at the idea of proposing a club though. Then I saw who it was. Edward. I could see he had taken his button shirt off and left only his white undershirt. There was something written on it but I couldn't quite read it. He saw me and kept getting closer and closer, his eyes fixed on me. Once he was close enough I was able to read his shirt and I felt my respiration stop. It looked like he had taken a sharpie and handwritten something on it. It read: ‘Look at me. I'm pregnant too’ This guy was going to kill me. I frantically looked for a witty thing to say. I couldn't think of anything good. Trying to hide my nervousness though I said: "That was ballsy Cul-“ I was not allowed to finish. Oh no. He was not going to take any prisoners. His hands flew at me with decision, one anchored my waist and the other took firmly my face as he shut me up with his mouth. He was changing the game making sure there was no way back. He was burning his bridges. He surely didn't want a way back. 41
And now, as he was kissing me, I was finally sure. I didn’t want a way back either.
Edward kissed me. For real. Not for curiosity… Not to distract me… Although, I suspected he did it in part to shut me up. But mostly just for the sake of kissing me. I have always hated the romantic moments at the end of movies where the guy does his larger-thanlife grand gesture and the camera pans out. It’s so fake. What happens after? Edward’s gesture was very close to one of those, and yet I totally fell for it. Mostly because it felt real. There weren’t people clapping and whistling. No romantic music nor a lame last line like ‘You had me at hello’ or ‘Just remember who said it first’. The only people that really cared about the kiss where Alice and Rosalie, and they were witnessing it quite overwhelmed. The grand gesture hadn’t been performed for an audience. That grand gesture had been for me and only for me. After it he just held my hand and walked me out of school. We got in the Volvo and drove for while, his hand resting on my leg from time to time. “You have a stupid grin on your face.” He said turning to face me. “Well, you are one to talk. Yours is equally stupid.” I hadn’t checked mine, but he really looked silly. Was that what happiness looked like? “Then, I guess it was a good idea to ditch the rest of the day.” “Carlisle is not going to be happy.” “Well… He can’t get angrier.” “What are you talking about? He was so supportive.” Carlisle and Esme had really been supportive last night. I had been so scared, almost convinced that they’d be kicking me out. I heard him chuckle. What was that for? “Ah… Supportive of you maybe… Carlisle kind of read me the riot act.” “Sorry about that.” “Don’t worry… I had it coming.” “So, where are we going?” “Just about here.” He said parking in a secluded viewpoint. “And what are we going to do here?” I said raising an eyebrow. “Well, here… We are going to finally talk.” He said getting on the back seat and pulling me towards him, until I was straddling his lap. “And then I’m going to kiss you a little more.” “What do you want to talk about?” I said amused. “Well… First of all… I want to say it properly: I love you… Now, you go…” “Now you go?!” I didn’t know if I should be mad or laugh. “Yeah. I’ve said it. Now you say it.” “What if I don’t want to say? What if I don’t love you? Have thought about it Mr. Cocky?” 43
“You totally love me and you now it, you just don’t want to admit it because you are a coward.” “Isn’t it the gentleman thing to say: ‘I don’t expect you to say anything back. I just wanted you to know’?” “Boy, deep down you really like romance novels, don’t you Swan? And anyways who said I was a gentleman?” “You are impossible.” “Well, you are one to talk. You are the most stubborn person I know. “ “Agh… Okay… I do love you, you big baby” “Good. And now that brings us to the second topic.” “Ah… Yeah…” “We really fuck it up, didn’t we?” He said looking intently at me. “Yes indeed.” “Can I… touch you?” “Well… You never asked for permission before.” “I mean… here.” He said placing his palm on my stomach. “Wow, this is really weird.” “You tell me” He looked up again. “Sorry I knocked you up” “None taken. Though I kind of was there too.” “Oh, that was you?” He said wickedly. “Idiot.” I said playfully knocking his head to the side. “Now that you mention it, I do remember you there.” “Ah… So what now?” “Well, now I think I’d like to kiss my girlfriend” “Do I know her?” “Smart ass… Girlfriend, friend, lover, partner, comrade, common-law-wife, mate, woman… You take your pick. It’s just semantics…” And with that he proceeded to make up for lost time by kissing me. That afternoon we went home, and he made love to me for the first time. *** Some days later we were riding to school in Emmett’s jeep. As it turned out, Edward lost car privileges, so we were back riding all together. “Ouch, Emmett, watch the potholes.” I yelled at Emmett. “Bella, this is a jeep, it’s intended for rough terrain.” “Well, I’m not.” I replied. “I told you should have taken the Volvo” Came Edward’s voice from the backseat. “Well, this is my car.” “Yes, but now we have to ride all here.” Said Edward. “And whose fault was that?” “Geez Emmett, good to know my precarious situation is such a concern of yours.” I said as I glared at him. “Are you kidding me, didn’t Edward tell you I kicked his ass?” He said taking his eyes from the road to give me an incredulous look. “You kicked his ass?!” I said loudly. “Hey, I’m here you know?! And you did not kick my ass. You only tried to.” 44
“How did I not know this?” “I don’t necessarily tell you everything.” Edward answered me. “That attitude is no not going to make you win points with me Cullen.” “Can you call him some normal term of endearment for Pete’s sake? That is my last name as well, and knowing that this is some weird foreplay ritual between you two, it really creeps me out.” “And what kind of terms of endearment do you suggest?” I asked Emmett. “I don’t know, love, dear, sweetheart, honey? I don’t care.” “Those are really lame Emmett. But anyways, I cannot believe you tried to kick Edward’s ass. You really did it for me?” “Yes, he was definitely trying to protect your honor.” “Emmett…” I was touched. “Don’t make fun of me Bella!” “I don’t want to make fun of you, this is almost making me cry!” “Well, despite the unholy things that you two have done, I do consider you my little sister.” “I love you brother bear.” “I love you freaky sis.” As he said it we pulled up at Rosalie’s house. She had been waiting for us already. I quickly climbed in the back with Edward while Rosalie hopped on the front. Emmett had prohibited us to ride in the backseat together if no one else was on the front with him. He said there was no way he’d be driving us around while we made out. “Hey Edward, hey Bella! Hey baby” Greeted us Rosalie as she gave Emmett a kiss on the lips. “See that is a normal term of endearment” “Well, it’s not like we can use that, right now.” Said Edward. “Talk about a sore spot.” I added. “Whoops. Sorry guys!” “No problem Rose.” “Well, now that I think about it there is something else you guys owe me for.” “And that is?” “Carlisle gave me ‘the talk’ again” “He did?” “Yeah. He said that apparently it didn’t do you any good Edward. So I got a refresher.” The four of us were laughing loudly now. *** “I just noticed that November 30th is around the corner.” Said Alice was addressing all of us around the lunch table. “So is December 1st, but thank you for the update Alice.” I said making fun of the randomness of her comment. Everyone on the table started laughing. “That really hurts my feelings Swan.” Said Edward kissing me lightly. “Why?!” “It’s our birthday, remember? Your dear brother and this dufus you’ve been doing will turning 18, thank you very much.” Informed me Emmett. “I actually haven’t been doing him lately but that’s none of your beeswax.” I said in response. “Thank you for sharing details of our intimate life, Swan.” “Whatever, Cullen.” I said annoyed. 45
“So what are you getting for Edward Bella? Though now thanks to you we all know what he needs.” Asked Alice. “Bite me Alice.” Replied Edward. “I’m supposed to get you something?” I said turning to see him. “Carrying your genetic material is not enough? And believe me, just by looking at yours and Emmett’s heads I should probably be exempt of buying a Christmas present as well.” That thought was actually quite scary. “You still need to get me a present.” Said Emmett. “I guess I do. You did try to kick Edward’s ass for me so I owe you.” “You tried to do what?” Yelled Alice and Rosalie. “Okay, I think enough people know about this now.” Edward informed me. “What are you talking about? No one had ever fought for me, I’m flattered.” “Oh, I have fought for you Swan. I just had to fight you.” He said with all his charm. “So what was it with the ass kicking?” Asked Rosalie. “Nothing, Emmett just tried to kick Edward’s ass, you know, for taking Bella’s innocence and all.” Said Jasper. “You so deserved it” Emmett added looking straight to Edward. “I think we’ve already solved that issue.” “So what are we going to do for a party then?” Asked Alice. “You are not going to let that go, are you?” I asked. “Do you even know me Bella?” *** Later that day Rosalie and Alice were with me in my bedroom. “Come on Bella, we have to plan something big.” Said Alice. “I’m really not into the big overproduction of a party you know.” “Come on Bella, it’s our boyfriends’ birthday.” Added Rosalie. “Once again, not my thing. And anyways, I don’t think Carlisle would be very appreciative of me or Edward having a huge celebration.” “But it’s not Emmett’s fault!” “We’ll you plan something then!” “Pregnancy is so not making you sweeter.” “Fine… Whatever, though here is the deal: I won’t be coming out of a cake, or singing ‘Happy birthday’ dressed as Marilyn Monroe, or even wearing a d-“ I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my abdomen that knocked all the air out f my lungs. “Ahh!” I yelled as I collapsed. “Bella? Bella!” I could hear their voices though my eyes were wide shut. “Bella what’s going on?” “I’m just… in a lot of pain right now.” I said as they moved me to my bed. “Where does it hurt?” Rose asked “My abdomen” Alice lifted my t-shirt a little. “Rose…. Look at this”. “What is it…?” I asked panicking. “You’re bruised…” “Call Edward, now! And Carlisle!” I said as vertigo was taking over.
*** They had yelled for Edward and everyone else. Before long I was taken to the hospital while I was in the backseat lying partly on Edward’s lap while he held on tight to me. The pain had subsided somewhat, but I knew something was very wrong. I could feel a little wetness, which I guessed would be blood. Soon enough I was in the ER with Carlisle and a nurse checking the bruising under my belly button. Carlisle’s hands touched my abdomen for a while and then, after asking Esme and Edward to leave, he gave me a vaginal exam. “Bella-” I cut him off. “Can you call Edward back in before telling me?” “Of course, are you sure?” “Yes.” He went briefly outside and then came back with Edward who came to stand next to me and held my hand. It made me sad to see the panic in his eyes. Esme stood by the door. “Bella, honey. This doesn’t look too good. We’re going to do an ultrasound to be sure, but I think the fetus is unviable.” Said Carlisle. “How can you know that, just like that?” I asked trying to keep my voice from breaking. “The bruise under the bellybutton. That is a sign. I think it’s an ectopic pregnancy. The implantation may have happened in the fallopian tube, and it is impossible to carry it to term. You are also bleeding profusely and your pain. Even if it is not ectopic, I think the odds are pretty slim. If it is ectopic indeed, if we don’t do anything it can be very dangerous for-“ I cut to the chase. “I need an abortion?” “No… We’ll treat you with methrotrexate. It’ll stop the growth and your body will take of the rest. We caught it early, so I think you won’t be needing surgery, though we’ll keep you for observation.” I could see Esme at the door with her hands over her mouth, Edward was looking at the floor and Carlisle’s jaw looked very tense. I was eerily calm. Numb. “I’m very sorry honey. Now, we’ll let you two alone.” He said as he went out holding Esme’s waist, who in return leaned slightly on him. “I guess I need to get you a present after all…” I said looking at Edward. “Oh Bella…” And he broke down burying his head on my lap and holding me tight. I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen him cry.
It is a fallacy to think that the time can stand still when tragedy strikes. That the world crumbles with each one of our personal fatalities. The world still spins, newspapers get delivered, and someone still has to come into a hospital room and mop the floor despite the sad sad faces of the people inside it. The baby I hadn't assimilated was growing inside of me yet, had already a death sentence. My body already realizing this, had already started its damage control. It had partially ruptured, which caused the bruising. The ultrasound had been extremely harsh, seeing something alive that was doomed to die. I was lucky. So I was told, since the internal bleeding had ceased, only a small clot was showing and there was no visible damage to my tube, and therefore wouldn't be requiring surgery. It wouldn't diminish my possibilities to get pregnant again later, they said. I really didn't care about that. Esme had been by my side, clutching the silver locket she always wore around her neck. She always did that when things were rough. Edward hadn’t left my side. After that time that he broke down on my lap he hadn’t cried anymore. I didn't cry at all. My eyes were dry and yet everybody else's had been not. Two days later I was home. On the third I went back to school. Before that fateful night I had tried not to think about it. I had been still enjoying the amazing first stage of a relationship and consciously tried to push back the fact that I was pregnant. I never talked to the baby, and I never made plans. I had resented instead being pregnant and most of the times I had tried to ignore the fact. And it had been something so tiny. Not even seven weeks altogether. How could I cry? I didn’t deserve to cry. And yet, a handful of nights, alone in my bed, or when I was under the shower, my hands had traveled down to rest on my non-existent belly. It had given me a stupid smile thinking that I had Edward's baby growing in me. Such a lame and romantic idea. We were teenagers, this had been a huge mistake, and yet, I had a tangible piece of him in me. The night I got home I went to my room, Edward following behind. Once there he held me tight. "How are you feeling?" He said. "I'm okay. Not cramping anymore." "That is good." I stood on my tippy toes to kiss him, so gentle and sweet. "I've missed you." He said. At school rumors were running wild with me missing a couple of days. I heard things like I had gone to have an abortion, that I was still pregnant, that I had never been pregnant at all, and my personal favorite: that I had runaway with some guy and since he had left me I had come back. I didn't care anymore what they were saying. I didn't bother to set the record straight. I didn't want to be treated as if I was made of glass. "Hey Bella, how are you?" Said Alice when she saw me getting to the place were she and Rosalie were standing. "I'm fine now. So, what are we going to do for the party." 48
"I thought there wasn't going to be a party." Said Rosalie "Of course there is going to be a party, like you said, our boyfriends don't turn eighteen everyday." I said committed to my enthusiasm. "Emmett and Edward called it off." Alice informed me. "Why? Who died?" I said thinking that I could show them that I was okay. I could laugh about it. There was a very uncomfortable silence. My effort had backfired. "Ah... Too soon for you guys?" "Isn't it for you?" Alice looked almost teary-eyed. "Listen, it was real for me for like… a week. I'm not happy about it. But I just want to go back to my life. I don't want to dwell on it." I tried to make them see. "Okay then." Was all Alice could say. "And I think the party should be back on. Though my rules still apply. I won't be in any way performing, unless it is playing the guitar with Edward. And no, I won't be wearing a dress." I smiled. Somebody had to smile. "Are you sure Bella?" Said Rose. "Yes I'm sure. I'll even convince Emmett and Edward." “Okay then.” “So where are we having this thing?” “My parents will be out of town that day. We could have a few friends there.” Rosalie offered. “Sounds like a plan.” I said. Convincing Emmett hadn’t been difficult, he looked truly happy to see me excited about something. The tough one to crack had been Edward. "I really think we shouldn't have the party." "Why?” I asked him. “ Well, you just were in the hospital and there was a baby and then there was none." He said as if he were trying to make me see something I was unable to. Like I didn’t know what had happened. But I knew well what had happened. I knew it better than anyone else. Why couldn’t anyone see that? "I just can't dwell on that forever okay?" I said slightly angered. "I don't want you to dwell on it, but have you dealt with it?" His voice also raising. "What is there to deal with it? I can't be heartbroken for something I didn't want in the first place. I'd be a hypocrite.” I finally let out. “Oh Bella… You don’t have to feel guilty…” “I don’t feel guilty. Actually I don’t feel anything about it right now.” "You haven't cried at all." He said matter-of-factly. "I can't believe you are doing this. What do you want from me?! Do you want me to break down and lose it? Would you have preferred that I pulled away from you and believe that the only thing that got us together was the responsibility of a baby that suddenly is gone? The one thing you hate about me the most is that I push you away. Well today I'm not pushing you away. I'm trying to give us a chance, I'm trying to be normal!” "Okay... This is getting out of hand. I don't want to fight.” Him not wanting to fight with me just angered me more. But for everybody’s sake I tried to calm down. "I don't want to fight either. I just want us, all of us to be able to go back. I still want to be a teenager. Can we do that?” “Yes we can do that.” He said quietly. “Just promise me something… Actually I'll tell you what you can give me for my birthday.” And as he said this he reached for me and pulled me to an embrace. 49
"I'm not doing a striptease for you.” I said jokingly. "Hmmm, no I didn't mean that... Though now you have planted that in my head... Thank you very much. What I mean is, promise me that when you are ready to cry you'll come to me.” He was setting a deadline I never wanted to get to. "I won't cry.” "Just promise me.” "I rather give you the striptease.” "Can you just promise me Swan?” He was getting frustrated with me, but the kind I liked, for a moment we were back to our silly arguments, trying to decide who was the most stubborn. "Okay... But you are not getting that striptease now.” I finally said. "I'll live.” A week later we had the party at Rosalie’s. Everything had turned out great. And I felt great feeling like I was contributing to people being happy and getting back to their old selves. I had even let Rose and Alice do my hair, make-up and nails for the party, I had chosen my own clothes, but I went out of my way to try to look more feminine. I thought I could shoot two birds with the same stone, or rather three. They’d be happy and I maybe Edward would get a kick out it as well. But I did not wear a dress… I wasn’t feeling quite that generous. Alice and Rose were proud of their work. Especially when Edward came to greet me with a huge smile on his face. “You look great tonight.” “Happy Birthday” “It is now… You know what this reminds me of?” He said as he planted little kisses along my face, his firm hands preventing me form getting away, though I didn’t want to go. “Of what?” I asked. “You kind of remind me of how you looked at Lake’s party.” “I do?” I said smiling. “Yes. And you know what I want to do?”“What do you want to do?” I said raising an eyebrow “Well… That… But more than anything I want to dance with you again, but this time I won’t just feel like I want everyone to know you belong to me. This time, I can really show everyone that you indeed belong to me.” “I do belong to you. And you belong to me.” “I must certainly do.” He said looking into my eyes. Convincing me of his words. “I know another way you can prove I’m yours.” I really just wanted to spend some time with him apart from everybody else. “Yeah? What is that?” Edward asked. “Come upstairs with me.” His look was completely the opposite of what I had expected. Instead of the wicked grin he looked worried and incredibly sad. He let go of me and just caressed my face and pushed a lock of my hair behind my ear. “Wow… I’m really that disgusting, huh?” “You are far from disgusting?” I could see his eyes avoiding my gaze. “Then what are you afraid of?” “I don’t know if you are ready.” He said looking down. “I’m not necessarily offering sex okay? Just come upstairs with me.” I was pleading now. Couldn’t he realize I was pleading? 50
And so we went to the second story. We came into Rosalie’s room and we sat in a couch. I was the one being more forward as I started hungrily kissing him. He let me take the lead and just leaned back as I climbed on to him. After I while, I perceived his lack of participation and I broke the kiss to stare at him. “What?!” I yelled frustrated. “What do you mean?” He was playing to be naïve. “I mean where are you?” “I’m right here.” “Well you are certainly not with me” I said climbing down his lap and standing up. I started pacing around trying to calm myself. “It’s not that… I’m just… afraid it’s too soon.” “Too soon for you?” I asked knowing already what I knew he was thinking. But needing him to say it. “No… I think it is too soon for you.” “My body is fine.” “Your body is not what I’m worried about just now.” “I wished it was my body you worried about now to be perfectly honest.” “I know you too well. You are hiding away from your feelings.” He said. “When is everyone just going to let go? I am not made of glass. As a matter of fact, I am very far from being fragile. I was fragile before. But I am fine now… You could hit me with your best shot. There is nothing to break.” I said icily. He looked down. This was angering me. “I cannot believe it. You really only wanted me as long as I was having your child.” I said pouring my venom. I wanted him to react. I wanted him to explode and fight me. “Don’t be stupid.” “Well, I can’t even stop that right? I’m just so stupid.” He just wasn’t taking the bait. “You are far from stupid. But this, this is getting stupid. You know for a fact that it was not the pregnancy that got us together.” “Well, I do know that, but then why am I feeling so lonely here?” “Because I don’t think you have processed this yet. Because you joke about it like it was nothing!” He finally exploded. “You have no idea what that meant to me.” That one I meant. “I do. And I know that is the reason why you are shielding yourself from feeling.” “You know what? It may be your birthday and all… But you are not my favorite person right now.” I said as I left. I went straight home and ran into Carlisle and Esme. They were sitting in the family room when I arrived. “Bella? Are you okay?” Esme asked. “Yes I am.” “Is the party over? It seems so early.” Said Carlisle. “No. I just had to come home. I’m sorry. Edward and I had a fight.” “Is everything okay?” I sensed Esme’s preoccupation. “Yes it is. It was something stupid.” I didn’t want them to worry. But I felt like it was far from stupid. “I’m just going to go upstairs.” I said. 51
“Okay honey. Yell if you need something.” Esme said, still looking worried. “Will do.” I said as I went up the stairs. ‘Could it really be me who had been wrong all along?’ I thought as I went. I felt like a caged lion in my room. I needed air. So I grabbed my coat and a blanket and I head to the upper deck that faced our backyard. I sat down and put the blanket over me. There was beautiful full moon. I stared into it as I thought. Why couldn’t I cry?
I sat on the deck for a while staring into the full moon until Esme came and sat next to me. "Hey there kiddo." She said burying herself under my blanket. "Hey Esme." I said avoiding her gaze, fearful of her reading my thoughts through my eyes. But she kept looking straight into the woods at the back of the house directly into a tree that had become a landmark of our childhood. "I love that tree. I remember all of you guys climbing up and down, and falling a few times." "Got the scars to prove it. It was an awesome tree to climb." I said smiling fondly of the memories. "I planted it when we bought this house, you know?" "Wow, so that tree is older than me. That is impressive." "I know, twenty years. I remember thinking that it would be my family tree. And it has. Here drink some water." She said as she handing me the water bottle she had been drinking from. "Thanks." "Listen, I want to tell you something… The boys don't quite know about this… But I want to share it with you." "Shoot." "I lost one too." I looked at her in disbelief but she was avoiding my gaze and I wasn’t sure if she was guarding my feelings or hers. "When?" I said with a shaky voice. "You guys were toddlers, two I think. Not old enough to remember. Anyways, I lost it." The last part was rushed, trying to brush away any hint of emotion. I knew that pathetic tactic. "How far along were you?" Was all I was able to say, it hurt a lot still to say it directly. "Ah... About six months." "Esme! Oh my god, I'm so sorry..." Six months. I was trying to deal with something that had just existed for six weeks, not all of them acknowledged by me. Six months seemed like hell. "Hey! Listen to me. I didn't bring this up for me." She said while clutching her silver locket and turning to face me. "The time difference doesn't make a difference. Not for us." "I want you to know that I know how you feel… That someone understands... Fathers… They lose a lot and hurt too, but they don't know how this feels. I want you to know that the burn… The pit in the stomach... The guilt... All of those things you may not find a way to let Edward know about... I've felt them too." This woman was truly amazing, she named all the things I could not. Exactly what I was feeling, or that I had been trying to push deep down, the very first things I hadn't been able to share with Edward, what I had kept from him. “How?” “Well, everything was fine, and then one day my baby just died. Choked with the cord. They said that there was no way to know. Carlisle felt so bad, being a doctor and all. But I guess it was fate, right?” “Was it a boy or a girl?” “Ah… A girl.” “I’m so sorry.” “I had wanted a girl you know. I had the boys and I envied your mom a little, all the cute outfits she 53
used to put on you.” “She had a major pink fetish. That’s probably why I turned out like this.” “She did have a thing about you wearing pink, you did look cute though. Of course later you found out you could say no. You’ve always been quite stubborn.” I smiled thinking about Renee, I’d gladly wear all the pink in the world to have her back. “What happened to her?” “We cremated her. Most of her ashes are there.” She said pointing at the tree. “I dug up to expose the roots, and I mixed her there. I wanted her in my family tree.” “Most of them?” I said trying to understand what she had just said. “I took a pinch of her ashes and put them here, in my locket.” I understood right then, why she had always grabbed it whenever things got complicated. I understood now why she held on to it when we heard about my own loss. “Why didn't you have more?” “At first it was hard. I didn't want to feel like we were trying to replace her. But eventually we tried. It just never happened.” “I guess you were supposed to have just two. “ “No Bella. I got my third when you came along. I may not have bore you, but you are mine. Get it through that thick skull of yours. You are a Cullen alright.” I hugged her. “Now. I know what people will tell you. ‘At the end it was for the best’, ‘Timing was not perfect’, ‘You are both so young.’ But that is bullshit. See, no one is going to say the right thing. Not even me. This may be the wrong thing as well. But the thing I want you to remember is that this was real. It happened. No matter how it came to be, how you and Edward got together. It was not a dream Bella. Don't let anyone take that away from you. And that bond existed. Don’t forget that kiddo.” We heard some noises from inside the house. “I think the boys are back. I’m coming in, are you staying here longer?” “Just a few minutes.” “Okay. When you are ready. Love you.” She said as she hugged me and I hugged her back. “I love you too. You have no idea.” I said as she went in. I looked at the tree Esme had planted. All those years climbing on it. All those years Esme saw us playing at that tree, probably thinking of the one that wasn’t there. All those years I was a motherless child while she was the counterpart: the mother that had lost a daughter. It suddenly hit me. She was right. No matter how wrong, how out of time, how inconvenient, how brief it had been. It had been real. I could not pretend it hadn’t. I could feel the flood coming. I went inside as fast as I could, looking for him. I slammed his door open without knocking; he was facing away from me, his shirt half off his body. He heard me and turned around. I didn’t give him time to say anything, to do anything. “I’m ready.” I said and I ran out. I went down the stairs fast heading for the backdoor. I had just enough time. Not one second could be spared to make sure he was behind. I went out and past Esme’s tree as I ran into the wooded area behind our house. It was cold outside and as I ran I felt the cold wind against my face. The wind felt icy on my cheeks. Was I crying already? I could hear him catching up with me. I let myself fall down on my hands and knees letting it all out with a deep and painful groan. I cried. 54
I more than cried: I wailed. It wasn’t pretty: I cried with a force that came from my gut. I cried until fire spread violently from my lungs out and burned my throat. I pushed it out of my body, an instinct almost ancient taking over. My face was so close to the ground that the smell of wet soil flooded my nostrils. My hands open and my fingers digging in the ground. I cried for the baby I had barely known and lost. I cried because I didn’t know how much I had loved it. I cried because, although unconventionally, it had been made with love. I cried because I had had hopes I didn’t want to admit to myself. I cried for me, for my lost baby and for my dead mother. And I cried for Esme and her own loss. And finally, I cried for the misery that had brought the both of us together, sadly and thankfully. Once the crying was so raw and fiery that it had dried me up inside, until it was just sad moans and a feeling of choking, I felt his hands on my back, enveloping me and pulling me back against his chest. And he rocked me, holding me tight, until I felt at peace.
“I’m ready” I heard her say and then she just ran out. I knew she was heading out because she had her coat on, and her nature had always been to flee. I grabbed my coat and my keys and ran as fast as I could trying to catch up. I saw her going to the backyard and I went for her. I was getting closer when we went to the woods behind the house and she suddenly collapsed. She went down to her hands and knees and then I heard it: a primal howl piercing the night. And it also pierced my heart. It was so painful and sad. I stopped. I stayed outside, afraid to intervene, afraid to enter a forbidden place where she was and I could never get her. Her sounds were raw and deep and I just let her get it out. I was just standing there while she broke down in a million pieces. It broke my heart, but I had to let her, I’d just had to do my best to put her back together, hopeful I would be able to do so. I slowly approached her. Her body rocked back and forth, it was so powerful and instinctive. And after a while I was able to pull her to me, to hold her and not let go. I pulled her close and buried my face in her hair. And we stayed like that for a long time, until I was able to feel her heartbeat ease against my chest. After a while we were able to speak, we were able to say all that we couldn’t say before.
“Thank you” He said. 55
“What for?” “For giving me what I really wanted for my birthday.” I barely smiled. “But I didn’t do it for you” I had to admit. It was true, it had been for me, and just for me. “I know. And that’s actually what I wanted.” “So what do we do now?” I asked. “We could talk.” “And finally say what we were too afraid to say?” “That’s a start.” It took me a few minutes to gather my courage. “I felt guilty. I felt it was my fault.” It was finally out. “You didn’t will the baby to die, you know?” “I know. But I felt… I feel rotten… I feel like I turn everything I touch into misery.” “I’m not turning into anything. I’m still here.” He said forcing me to face him and placing his hand on his chest right over his heart. “You don’t regret anything?” I asked fearful. “I don’t. Not at all.” We were silent for a few moments until he spoke again. “Want to know something I never told you?” “Of course.” “I liked the idea of my baby growing in you.” He said looking down at my abdomen and placing his palm on it, just like he had done before. I felt a single tear come down my cheek, but it was quickly rubbed off with his thumb when he looked back at me. “I didn’t mean to hurt you.” “It’s okay. I think we need to say these things. And, for what is worth, I liked thinking that your baby was growing inside me. A couple of times it made me smile like a moron. It was lame.” I said smiling. That made him smile and he quickly kissed me. “I'll tell you another secret: That won't be the only time you carry my children.” “Children?” I said surprised. “With our track record you think it'll be only one?” I smiled. His face suddenly went somber and my heart skipped. “You always say that you have no flesh and blood attachment anywhere… You can't say that anymore... It was also my blood you bled.” There were no words to say after that, and so, I let my lips speak for me. “It won't be anytime soon, but it will happen” He said after the kiss, resting his forehead on mine. “What do we do now?” I said. “Walk with me” He said pulling me up. “It’s a nice full moon.” We walked around hand in hand for a while, with only the moonlight to shine our path. “I’m sorry.” I said. “What for?” “Ruining your birthday party.” “Who told you ruined it. I had a lovely time. Met this cute blonde from California after you left.” I playfully pushed him away from me. But he pushed back with more force until he had me against a tree. 56
“This feels much better.” He said as he pushed his body against me, his knee forcing my legs slightly apart. “It does.” I agreed “I’ve missed you. Can you tell?” He said as he rubbed his hardness against me. “Hmmm... I know… I’ve missed you too.” “Last time I had you was the day after we found out.” “The day you kissed me.” I said remembering it fondly. “It’s been long.” “Well, it’s not easy with Carlisle’s random bed checks.” “You’d think that with the hours he has at the hospital he’d need his sleep.” He said. “He did say his house wasn’t going to be known as the place where teen sex is condoned.” I added. “I guess it’s not such a bad thing to make me yearn for you.” “It just makes us more like normal teens trying to sneak in lovemaking.” “Anyways, college is not that far away.” “You know he is going to make us stay in separate dorms right?” “I know. We were just very spoiled sleeping together every night.” “We were.” I agreed. “You what?” He said looking at our surroundings. “We’re not under Carlisle’s roof right now.” “No Edward!” I said mostly horrified, and slightly intrigued by the idea. “I won’t do it outdoors. What happened to you deciding that yearning was a good thing anyways?” “I’m only human. But now who’s the prude?” “It’s very cold!” I said trying to convince him. “It’s my birthday after all.” “It’s barely your birthday anymore. And I thought I had already given you what you wanted.” “Oh, I don’t think you’ll ever give me enough of what I want.” He said grinning. He alternated staring at me and kissing me passionately as coercion methods. “Let’s go inside. I promise to sneak into your room.” I said in defeat. “You’ll risk Carlisle’s checks?” His voice sounded quite amused. “You’ll just have to be quick. That is not a problem for you is it?” I said trying to get back at him. “You are going to get in trouble Swan.” “And what are you going to do about it?” “Oh, you’ll see.” He said as we headed back to the house.
It had been so easy to go back. Sneaking into each other rooms had almost felt like years before when we would still worry about getting caught. Though, of course, back then it had been completely innocent. This night it hadn't been innocent at all, as it hadn’t been for a full night of sleep either: It had to be brief, and the purpose had not been sleeping at all. It is funny to think about it: during our experiment, we hadn't worried at all about getting caught. We were so used to it that it was second nature. But this night we had the thrill and the desperation of long-lost lovers that had just reunited, even if it hadn't been that long. But it felt like ages. We'd had to contain ourselves coming in the house, and spending time with the family. Esme and Carlisle were happy to know that our silly spat was settled. It hadn’t been a fight at all, but what happened in the woods was intimate and private, no one else’s business but ours. We hanged out in the kitchen yearning to touch, careful not to start something that couldn't be continued right away, and yet not staying too far apart to stir suspicion. I waited eagerly in my bed having gone upstairs earlier. In the dark I listed for the sounds of every door closing, and everyone turning in. I had closed my eyes in anticipation, in desperation for him to come to me, but I knew that I had to wait at least a couple of hours. He was so close and yet so far away. And in the middle of my desperation, somehow I fell asleep, my treacherous body was exhausted, spent after letting go. "This is a serious blow to my ego you know?" Were the words I woke up to, they felt warm against the back of my head and somehow managed to wrap around my body. "Hmmm... You are here." I said smiling, without opening my eyes, savoring the sensation of him all around me, holding me tight. "You are absolutely way overdressed for this birthday party." He said as his index finger lazily tugged at the elastic band of my pants. "Tough luck. It hasn't been your birthday for a few hours now." "Don't I get a belated birthday celebration?” "I'll send you a card." I said trying to get a reaction out of him. "You are a sadist. Okay, I'm going back to my own bed." He let go of me and shifted pushing himself off my bed. "Don't you dare." I said sternly. That was all the incentive he needed, soon enough, he had pulled me underneath him, kissing and caressing everywhere. He had made a point of me being overdressed, and yet he had not done anything about it, he was enjoying teasing me. "We don't have time for this." I said. "Desperate much?" He said lifting an eyebrow. "Are you looking forward giving Carlisle a show? Along with a heart attack?" “As you wish.” He said as he started pulling my clothes off. Quickly enough they littered my floor, and I became quite aware of my nudity and the fact that he still had his on. He stared at me silently making me nervous, so much that I felt myself blushing. "Expecting someone else?” I said trying to make me feel more empowered… And failing miserably. 58
"Again with the sarcasm?" "Well, given how long you've been staring I'm afraid you are having second thoughts.” "Does this feel like I'm having second thoughts?" And with that he rubbed against me. "Point taken." I said blushing more. “You are blushing. You do know we’ve done this before right?” “I hate that you make me this vulnerable.” I said in defeat. “And I love it.” “Stop staring at me.” "Why? I like staring. I don't know if I have even told you this. But you are damn beautiful.” He said as he trapped my mouth with his. I tugged at his shirt taking it off, and going after his pants right after. “And you are mine.” He stated. "Possessive much?" "Of you." He said sliding into me and pushing me into oblivion. We hadn’t come to the grassy area from where we loved to watch people in a very long time, I guess it’s safe to say that we had caught ourselves living instead of just being spectators, but the next day it just felt right to go back. “I can’t stand the guy. I really don’t understand why no one can see through him.” I said as once more we saw Sean Lake repeat the same clichéd romantic tactics we had witnessed many times before. “Well maybe some of those girls actually want the Lake treatment. And I don’t know… they probably think they’ll be the ones changing his ways.” Said Edward playing devil’s advocate. “Dude, you are such a chick. Have you been reading Alice’s romance novels? Sometimes I wonder why I let you get on top of me.” “It’s because you love me.” He said leaning in for a kiss “And anyways, last night I proved to you that I’m so not a chick.” He said with a wicked smile. I regretted my words; I had walked into that one. “Yeah, yeah... So what’s up with you defending Lake? You’re his friend now?” “Not at all… I mean… I still don’t like the guy. I can’t forget though that your hatred of him and guys like him got you to me…” “Give it up Cullen! Quit the romantic crap! You totally thought about thanking him for indirectly making me give you some.” I said seeing right through him. He laughed loudly at that one. “It’ll be my demise how well you can read me… But anyways, as I was saying, regarding Lake, the one thing I really hate about the guy is how he looks at you.” “Like I’m the Antichrist?” I said with a proud smile. “No. That I can live with.” “Ass” “You can’t honestly tell me you haven’t noticed how he looks at you. The bastard wants you. I much rather him continue doing the rounds with all the other girls.” He said with a hint of exasperation. “What are you talking about?” I said truly at lost. “At his party?... I was ready to punch him” “You have to be kidding me. Lake? Me?” I said trying to remember, that night had been memorable to me, but none of my memories were remotely associated to Lake. This was completely new, and I couldn’t suppress a faint smile with the boost my ego was getting. “I can’t believe you are getting smug about this. Think whatever you like but I’m not letting you out of my sight if he’s around.” He said pulling me close until my back was against his chest. “Thank you for the vow of trust. Like I’d go for the jerk.” I said feigning hurt but flattered to hear him jealous of me. 59
“I know you won’t. I just don’t want him anywhere near you. Scratch that. I don’t want any other guy near you.” “You really have it bad for me.” I said. “What can I say? I really have a thing for the Antichrist.” He said nuzzling my neck. I closed my eyes and laughed enjoying the attention, and completely missing our friends approaching us. “Well, well. It’s great to see you laughing, and calling each other the Antichrist. I guess everything is back to normal.” Said Alice getting us back to the world. “Not calling each other, Swan is the Antichrist.” Said Edward without letting go of me. “Yeah? Well then you are the Antichrist’s lover.” I said pulling away and trying to look annoyed. “So what’s going on with your dangerous liaison?” Said Jasper. “Jasper!, I’m impressed… A de Laclos reference. Good one.” I said. “Not only the two of you can make obscure cultural references you know? I can read too. You two really can be snobby.” Jasper replied. “What are you guys talking about?” Asked Emmett completely at lost. “Les liaisons dangereuses, the book?” I said trying to clue him in. “Dangerous liaisons, the movie?” Chipped in Edward. “Cruel intentions sweetie.” Said Rosalie without taking her eyes from the slices of apple she was eating, as we all laughed at Emmett. “Ah, I get it.” Said Emmett pointing at the both of us, putting together visibly the abject implications of Jasper’s reference to us. “Anyway…” I said. “Jasper your stock just went up in my book” “Not in mine, you lost big points when you interrupted us at Lake’s party.” Said Edward. “What are you talking about?” I asked “I was about to kiss you when this idiot showed up.” “I remember! I knew something was going on, there was so much tension when I arrived.” Said Jasper. “So anyways, are you guys going to tell us how your unholy union came to be?” Asked Alice. “Easy. I seduced Edward.” I sated matter-of-factly. “You did not seduce me.” He quickly added. “What are you talking about dude? It was most definitely my idea.” “You may have brought it up, but that was far from seductive.” He said looking at me. “What was it then?” Asked Rose now putting aside her apple slices and paying attention. “She proposed an experiment. It was more of business proposal.” Answered Edward. “For real?” Jasper asked. “I cannot believe you are saying this.” I said flabbergasted. “Yeah, she said that going to college without … experimenting first, would warrant us crappy love lives. I, for example, could end up sexually frustrated in the suburbs.” Said Edward quite happy to volunteer the information, with all the intention of embarrassing me. “That’s mean.” Said Emmett. “So what was Bella’s doomed sexual future without the experimentation?” Asked Alice. “She would end up a man hater feminist writer… With a lesbian lover.” He quickly answered. “Sorry to say it bro, but I think she did seduce you with that mental image.” Emmett said grinning. “Thank you!” I said triumphal. He looked at me nodding slightly, trying to let me know I’d be regretting that later. I guessed I’d have to suffer the consequences. “I cannot believe you guys… To actually go through with that... So awkward.” Rose said. “She almost changed her mind” Edward added. 60
“You wouldn’t dare” I said looking directly at him knowing what he was about to disclose. “Watch me.” He said defiantly. “What did you do?” Jasper asked. “I distracted her with a kiss.” “Edward you are such a pig.” Alice said looking at him disgusted. “She did not complain.” He said smiling. “I wasn’t going to change my mind. I was nervous… And I did enjoy myself.” I said defending him. It may had been embarrassing to say it, but I didn’t want them to think of Edward of having taken advantage of me. “You two seem to have your groove back. That’s good. School’s environment was threatening implosion with the sarcasm imbalance and all.” Said Rose. “Yeah. I’m back. Dealt with my shit. I know somebody has to be cynical critic of our generation.” I said acknowledging that I had healed in my own way, avoiding the touchy-feely stuff. “Well, I’m sorry to say but you did miss an awesome party last night.” Said Rose. “What are you talking about? You and Emmett disappeared for almost the whole night!” Yelled Alice. “Alice!” Rose admonished her blushing. “Hey, I’m not complaining. I got a great birthday celebration. Unlike my dear brother here” Emmet said patting Edward’s back. “A gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell, but I did not go… uncelebrated.” He answered with a proud smile. “Ah… Didn’t you spend the night talking with that blonde guy from San Diego?” Asked Alice. “Cute blonde huh?” I said dumfounded at misled me the night before. “I did not lie to you. I just didn’t go into details.” “Interesting how that little omission contributed into you guilt tripping me into… celebrating you.” “Well it was a belated celebration and quite a quick one if I may add.” He was now taunting me. “And whose fault was that? I remember being at Rose’s bedroom all too willing to celebrate you senseless.” I hit that one right back at him. “Okay that’s it. I cannot keep hearing about celebrations. I will not be able to go to Hallmark with an innocent mind anymore.” Said Jasper. “Don’t worry honey, we can celebrate later.” Said Alice giving him a seductive look. “Dude, we were in Rose’s bedroom after you!” Added Emmett thinking of the implications of my previous comment. “Relax Em! There was no celebration there, the celebration was held in my own bedroom. And with that I declare the use of the euphemism dead.” I replied reassuring him. “Wait, isn’t dad making sure you two don’t sleep together anymore?” He asked us both. “Hence the quick reference before.” Answered Edward making me smile. “I guess those are the perils of keeping it all in the family.” Said Jasper with a deadpan look. “Jasper!” We all yelled with disgust. “And in that note we’re out of here. See you guys!” Said Edward taking my hand and walking towards our classroom. “Do you mind not really getting the opportunity to branch out, romantically speaking?” He asked me as we walked away. “What are you talking about?” I asked. “Well, our friendship, as sickly close as we were, kind of determined us ending up together. I don’t know… I was thinking about that.” “I guess I have thought about that as well, but also I think that I’m happy with were we ended up.” I 61
said and then added: “I know we’ve done everything out of order but, if you think about it, once you take all the romantic aspects of a relationship out, with time… Making it as a couple actually comes down to if you still enjoy spending time with the other person, you know?” I said. “Best bet is to end up being best friends then?” He asked. “Yup. So I guess for that we’re covered.” “I really think we are.” He said smiling back. “Even if we end up sexless in the suburbs?” I teased. “I guess we’ll just have to make the most of our time until we move there.” He said with a huge grin. “I love you Cullen” “I love you Swan.” That evening I was once again looking at Esme’s tree, though this time I was out there in the backyard running my hands over it and thinking about Edward and me. I can't say I had foreseen us ending up where we were when I first thought about our little arrangement. I can honestly say, though, that my little attempt at avoiding the normal progression of growing and wising up completely backfired. I had been so afraid of living, making mistakes and facing the consequences. Consequences that could threat what was safe and familiar. I had always hated the anticipation of change. That fear had warranted me a distraction kiss after all. But at the end, the experiment had triggered life and maturity. It forced us to grow up faster than we had planned. We made it through despite it all. And now, I think I'm enjoying the change, I actually look forward to the next phase of our lives, though Edward says that what I actually enjoy is the idea of unencumbered sexcapades. He is not at all subtle. In a few months we'll be in college, and we already have a few rules: he's not to pledge to any fraternity, nor I will be attending any Greek parties. He's also taking Creative Writing with me and I am sure going to keep an eye for any blonde from California… Girl or boy… But I also dread. I dread a date to come, eerily coincidental with the start of college. A date that would have been monumental. A reminder of things that never were. He'll be by my side, and I know I'll probably will do my share of crying. Who knows? Maybe this time I won't need to be in the woods… What I know for sure is that along the roots of this tree in our backyard, with long-ago mixed soil and ashes, lays a piece of paper with only one word written on it. I did this on my own, as it is something of mine, and mine alone. I have no regrets, no guiltiness of keeping this from him. One single word that is mantra, prayer, epitaph, and desperate hope: ‘Nevermore.’
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