Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 436

Copyright Page

This book was automatically created by FLAG on June 2nd, 2013, based on content retrieved from http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5077053/. The content in this book is copyrighted by MBella or their authorised agent(s). All rights are reserved except where explicitly stated otherwise. This story was first published on May 21st, 2009, and was last updated on February 6th, 2010. Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated - please email any bugs, problems, feature requests etc. to flag@erayd.net.

Table of Contents
Summary 1. Chapter 1 2. Chapter 2 3. Chapter 3 4. Chapter 4 5. Chapter 5 6. Chapter 6 7. Chapter 7 8. Chapter 8 9. Chapter 9 10. Chapter 10 11. Chapter 11 12. Chapter 12 13. Chapter 13 14. Chapter 14 15. Chapter 15 16. Chapter 16 17. Chapter 17 18. Chapter 18 19. Chapter 19 20. Chapter 20 21. Chapter 21 22. Chapter 22 23. Chapter 23 24. Chapter 24 25. Chapter 25 26. Chapter 26 27. Chapter 27 28. Chapter 28
-3-

29. Chapter 29 30. Chapter 30 Epi 31. Outtake 1

-4-

Summary
Edward is the star quarterback. Bella is the coach's daughter. Falling in love is always bittersweet, but what happens after a tragedy tears them apart and then fate throws them together years later?

-5-

Chapter 1
Hello and welcome! This is my first ff and I have been having a great time writing it for you all. There are a few things you need to know before you start. One: I changed the descriptions of Edward and Bella in this fic. It might be hard for some of you to get used to. I promise you it doesn't take away from the story, if it bothers you terribly just change the descriptions back in your head. :) Two: Edward and Bella do grow up in this fic. That will happen later. Other than that...I hope you enjoy the story. Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight. I own all the football knowledge. :)

BPOV Just twenty more minutes. I silently watched the round clock hanging over Mrs. Jenkins desk. History class was dragging on and on. My eyes wandered over to the window where I could see the red orange leaves rustling amongst the branches. "Hey Swan," Mike Newton hissed behind me. I turned my head slightly without looking at him and raised a questioning eyebrow. "Tell Coach I'll be ten minutes late to practice," he smirked silently and leaned forward on his elbows almost tipping his desk over, "I need to walk Jessica home first." I rolled my eyes upward and turned back toward the front of the class. I was used to guys like Mike bugging me during class. I was Coach Swan's daughter and that made the players think they could use me as a messenger. Nevermind that my father usually dismissed anything I had to say. He mearly let me hang out with the team as the stat recorder. During practices I was lucky if he said two words to me. Football was my Dad's life and I think with each passing day he was resenting more and more that he only had a daughter and not a son. The shrill of the bell jerked my mind back to attention and I snapped my binder shut and thrust it into my backpack. "Just tell him for me okay?" Mike pleaded as he
-6-

passed my desk. I glanced up at him and nodded slightly. "Thanks Swan." And he bolted out the door making wisecracks with the other guys jostling them in his hurry to catch up to Jessica. I slung my backpack over my shoulder and headed for the door. In front of me I could hear two of my classmates Tina and Rebecca jabbering animatedly. I pushed a lock of hair out of my eyes and behind my ear as I trudged behind them. "He's new?" Tina was asking her red hair cascading down her back in soft waves. "Yeah, he just transferred over from Sterling, he's in my Math class and just gorgeous!" Rebecca's voice was almost a squeal. "Rumor has it Jessica looked ready to sink her claws into him." I raised my head slightly wondering what was going to happen to Mike and his plans, Jessica was Fork's High beauty queen and most sought after girl. It was only fitting that she and Mike, the varsity quarterback would lend up together. "No way," Tina said in amazement her hands waving frantically in front of her face, "what about Mike? What's this guy's name anyways?" "Edward Cullen." Rebecca's voice drew out the name Edward with a longing sigh. I shook my head and rounded the corner away from Tina and Rebecca and all their giggles. I didn't have time to listen to anymore of their nonsense. I could see my Dad already on the football field looking pretty angry. I threw my backpack down by the bleachers and zipped my hoodie up all the way to chase out the chill that always seemed to linger over the wide green grass. Most of the players were already suited up and ready for practice. I grabbed my clipboard from the player's bench and jogged over to the field. "Dad," I muttered as I reached his side, "Mike is going to be late" My Dad turned away from me oblivious to my words, "Whitlock!" he shouted walking over to Jasper Whitlock our wide receiver, "where the hell is Newton?" Jasper shifted nervously his hands clutching the football, "I don't know Coach," he shrugged his broad shoulders, "maybe he is still in the locker room."
-7-

My Dad's eyes narrowed and flashed angrily, "How are we suppose to run the goddam plays without our quarterback!" I shifted the clipboard to my other hand as I tried to get into my Dad's view, "Dad," I tried again, "Mike is going to be late" My Dad finally focused on me, his rage clearly showing. "I am sick of that boy flaking off acting like this team doesn't matter!" he turned and walked away from Jasper and I still muttering angrily to himself. "Goodson! Bring me our second string Quarterback, call Percy to the field." My Dad yelled over to the assistant coach who was putting all the helmets in a row on the grass. "Coach, Percy is out for the season, he broke his ankle last week on that skateboard accident remember?" My Dad blinked rapidly and I knew he hadn't even remembered that Dale Percy had fallen off his skateboard last week and broke his ankle even though it had been the talk of the school all week long. My Dad huffed and muttered something foul under his breath, he began stalking off the field, Coach Goodson hurried after him. "Charlie!" he called after my Dad, "We have a new guy here today, he wants to try out for the team, he looks sharp Charlie" his voice trailed off as my Dad turned to face him. "Well where is he!" My Dad spread his hands around looking exasperated, "Where's Mr. Sharp?" Coach Goodson looked up past my Dad and right over to me. "He's right here," he said pointing right at me, "standing behind Bella." Behind me? I turned and nearly collided with the prettiest darkest brown eyes I had ever seen. The figure in front of me shifted and he met my gaze. I felt my breath hitch, he was the most gorgeous thing I had ever seen. His skin was a golden bronze and his eyes big as silver dollars. He looked down at me and gave me a lazy crooked smile that showed the two cutest dimples in his cheeks. I was memorized for a minute just blinking at him stupidly until he reached up with his right hand and pushed back his black hair that had fallen over his eyes. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed how the muscles rippled in his arm and how his skin almost seemed to sparkle in the sunlight. I finally broke the gaze and looked down onto the grass. "s'cuse me." The beautiful figure moved around me and jogged lightly over to where my Dad and Coach Goodson stood. I tried not to follow him with my eyes but
-8-

failed miserably. Coach Goodson had tossed a football into those big bronze hands and was pointing to Jasper across the field. I watched how those long fingers gripped the football with ease, and as if it was effortless as breathing, those hands, those dimples, that jet black hair had the football sailing into the air across the field in a perfect spiral. We all watched it soar through the air in amazement. Jasper caught it easily he looked back and forth in disbelief at the distance the ball had covered and jogged over tossing the football back to this gorgeous creature. "Nice throw." He said with a hint of surprise. "Thanks." The gorgeous creature replied his voice deep and velvety. My Dad's raised eyebrows and hint of sparkle in his eyes told me he was impressed. He pushed Coach Goodson out of his way and he almost skipped over to where the boy stood. "What's your name son?" my Dad asked with a smile. "Edward Cullen... sir." Edward reached out his hand to my Dad who took his handshake with enthusiasm. I knew Edward had just scored brownie points with my manner loving father. "Welcome to Forks's High football team son."

EPOV My day had sucked royally. I spent the entire morning arguing with the office secretary at Fork's High about my schedule, or lack of it. "Your records were never sent by your last school." The secretary narrowed her eyes at me as if it was my fault the records never made it to her precious desk, "we don't know where to place you." I stared back at the older lady getting madder with each passing minute. "I don't know where my records are, Sterling High was supposed to send them over," I began again for the fifteenth time, "but I am a Senior." The secretary began typing something into her computer ignoring my words. After three more minutes of tense silence she printed out a paper and handed it across the counter to me.

-9-

"Here is a tentative schedule." She said in a tiff, "when your records arrive we can place you permanently." She spun away from me in her chair and I knew our conversation was over. I spent the next ten minutes looking for my math class. When I had finally found it class had already been in session for a while, so when I entered the entire class stopped and stared at me. I walked confidently over to the instructor and gave him my schedule. The girls sitting in the front row began whispering furiously to each other. I offered them a crooked smile and a small wink in which they immediately dissolved into quiet giggles. I rolled my eyes upward, were the girls here going to be that easy too? "Edward Cullen welcome to Geometry." My instructor waved his right hand over to an empty spot a few rows behind the giggly girls. "You can sit there." I sighed heavily; I had taken Geometry when I was a freshman at Sterling. I should be in Calculus. I walked over to the empty seat and looked out the window. Beyond the metal fence I could see the football field. I watched a P.E. class jog around the track. I couldn't wait until I was out on that field. I had talked to assistant Coach Goodson yesterday and he had let me throw the football around. I knew he was impressed with my arm because he had told me to show up today at practice and talk to Coach Swan. I looked back at the clock, about twenty minutes left; I hoped I wouldn't be stuck in Geometry tomorrow. I made a mental note to ask my Mom to call Sterling and figure out what happened to my records. Something hit my shoe with a small bounce. I glanced down to see a glittery pink pen with a small feather attached to the end. I reached down and picked it up looking around me for the owner. The girl in front of me turned around to face me. She was pretty in a superficial kind of way, her blond hair hung straight down her back, her eyes were a vivid shade of blue, and her lips a painted pink, just like her pen. "You have my pen." She smiled leaning forward, her elbows rested on my desk giving me an outright view down the front of her pink sweater. She tilted her head and cocked an eyebrow at me, "see anything you like?" I smiled lazily at her enjoying the view. I slid the pen across the desk until it was less than two inches away from her chest and looked back up at her. "See anything you like?" I repeated her question. Her smile got wider and she reached over and picked up her pen.
- 10 -

"Yes I do." She let the feather of her pen trace down her behind her ear to the bottom of her neck until she stopped at the silver heart necklace she wore. "Thanks for my pen." She said. "Jessica!" our instructor called out loudly and the girl in front of me spun around quickly. He frowned at her. "I'm sorry Mr. Pearson," her voice rueful, "I dropped my pen and Edward was so nice to pick it up for me." "Very well" Mr. Pearson sighed, "Please pay attention Jessica, we have a quiz tomorrow." He turned back to the whiteboard and began writing again. I fixed my focus on the whiteboard but wasn't really paying attention. While I enjoyed the show Jessica gave me I knew her kind. Many of the cheerleaders at Sterling were the same way, eager to please, but attached themselves like leeches if you weren't careful. Despite being the first string Varsity quarterback for Sterling since I was a Sophomore in high school I never allowed myself to date them, my game was my true love and I didn't have the slightest interest in those silly girls and their giggles. Over the years I had found it was easy to impress them. The raise of my eyebrow, a crooked smile, a wink, all usually gave me the same reaction; these girls were easily conquered. I had yet to meet a girl that didn't at least blush when I smiled at her. The shrill of the bell jerked me back from my musings. I grabbed my backpack and stood up. "Bye Edward." Jessica turned around smiling looking up at me through her eyelashes. I winked at her and made my way past her giggle, past the rows of desks and out the door. I was glad that class was over. By the end of the day I was itching to get out on the football field. I walked across the grass over the player's bench. I threw my backpack down looking around for Coach Goodson. He was in an animated discussion with who I assumed to be Coach Swan. Coach Swan looked pissed, his arms were failing wildly above him as he yelled, and he was a big man, probably a star player in his time. I decided not to approach them just yet as I didn't want to get caught in the middle of whatever had ticked off the coach. I noticed the small figure standing next to him. At first I thought it was just a really small guy but then the figure turned slightly and I could see wisps of long hair peeking out from this really oversized hoodie she wore. I couldn't make out
- 11 -

her face but wondered what a girl was doing on the field next to the coach. Girls weren't usually allowed on the field during any practices as most coaches did not like the players distracted but I noticed that not one player on the field gave her any notice. Coach Goodson scanned the field rapidly and finally rested his eyes on me. He brought up his hand slightly to call me over. I began walking slowly across the field not really wanting to get into the screaming match. I paused slightly behind the hooded girl. "He's right here," he said pointing right at me, "standing behind Bella." The girl in the hood spun around and my eyes locked onto the deepest blackest eyes I had ever seen. Her eyelashes fluttered slightly as she stared at me. Her mouth was slightly open and the sunlight bounced off the wisps of jet black hair that peeked out from her hoodie. I felt my heart start to race and wondered what her hair looked like under that hood, I had a sudden urge to push the hood back down off her head and I immediately dismissed it. Trying to take control of the situation I offered her a lazy smile. She didn't smile back, she didn't giggle, she didn't do anything but blink at me with something that looked like an annoyed expression on her face. I felt a bit taken back and ran my fingers through my hair nervously. "s'cuse me." I brushed past her trying to get myself in check. I mentally shook her off and jogged over to Coach Goodson. Coach Goodson wasted no time; he tossed a football into my hands before Coach Swan could say anything. He pointed out the wide receiver that was standing across the field close to the ten yard line, "That's Whitlock our WR, do you think you can hit him?" I nodded and gripped the football. Taking a quick breath I looked over at Coach Swan who had his hands on his hips watching me. I took a small side step and twisted my hips slightly. I snapped my thumb down and let my fingers roll off the ball; it sailed out of my hands across the field and into Whitlock's hands with ease. Whitlock looked surprised. He jogged over to me and tossed me the football. "Nice throw." He complimented. "Thanks." I nodded. Suddenly Coach Swan was looming over me. "What's your name son?" he seemed in a much better mood now. Edward Cullen... sir." I answered still a bit intimidated by this large man, I extended my hand in greeting. Coach Swan's eyes gleamed and he shook my hand
- 12 -

with much enthusiasm. "Welcome to Fork's High Football Team son."

Hope you decide to stick with the story and keep reading! I think you'll be happy you did! :) For those of you who are reeling from the descriptions changes go to my profile page...I explain why I did it. Feel free to review or send me a message anytime!

- 13 -

Chapter 2
Welcome back! Anyone want to get to know E and B a little better? :) Well today we will. The first few chapters are short and sweet, later on they will get longer...much longer. :) Enjoy! Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight. I own all the football knowledge. :)

BPOV By lunchtime everyone in school was talking about Edward Cullen like he was some kind of God. I had never seen Mike so angry. My Dad had benched him for being late and told him he wouldn't start Friday's game. I secretly guessed he wanted to start Edward so this gave him the perfect excuse. I normally avoided the deafening crowd in the cafeteria but today I headed that way to grab a bottle of water from the vending machine. Our school had five vending machines jammed in a tiny corner of the cafeteria that everyone always seemed to be crowding around. I patiently waited my turn jingling the quarters in my jacket pocket. Some of the football players blasted past the doors their loud voices mixing in with the chaos of the students that were already eating. "Whitlock! Toss it here!" Jones was yelling walking backwards his hands in the air. He stopped only inches away from me. "Go far man!" Jasper began to bounce a bit on his toes. He let the ball fly through the air. Suddenly Jones lost his footing, he fell backwards landing on his backside with a loud thump. I turned slightly trying to get out of the way of Jones' feet before he ended up kicking me in the stomach. I didn't notice the football heading right toward me until
- 14 -

I saw one of the girls across from me gasp and grimace slightly. My eyes focused on the flying ball in front of me. The world slowed down as I raised my arm, my eyes scrunching shut, to shield my face from the impact that I knew was coming. Before I could scream two large arms were suddenly around my waist spinning me around. With a loud OMPH! I lost my footing and felt my head snap back. The sensation of falling made me reach out wildly for something to grip onto and my fingers closed around the muscular limbs that were holding me. I felt the wind being knocked out of me and I gasped for air. My back was pressed up against the vending machine and I couldn't see anything but the darkness of the figure who had grabbed me. I took two big shaky breaths as my focus cleared. I became aware of a hard muscular body pressed against mine. I breathed in again this time my senses alert to my savior's warm sun kissed smell. I felt his panting breath on my cheek as he loosened his grip slightly and I slowly raised my head. "Are you alright?" his deep velvety voice filtered through my clouded brain. I found myself once again looking into those chocolate brown eyes. I could still feel his arms wrapped around me and my heart began to race. Edward Cullen was holding me in his arms. "Are you hurt?" he asked again his eyes searching mine. I shook my head indicating nothing was hurt except for my pride. I shifted slightly and again felt his arms lessen their grip around me yet he still didn't let me go. "I'm okay," I finally managed to squeak out. The realization that my nails were digging into his arms hit me and I jerked my hands away as if I had touched fire. The crowd that was around us slowly began to lose interest. Whitlock and the rest of the players had hightailed it out of the cafeteria to avoid getting in trouble. Without warning Edward suddenly released me from his hold his gaze never leaving mine. He leaned one hand against the vending machine behind me; his forehead only inches away from mine. I had to remind myself to breathe. "I'm glad you're okay," his eyes burned into mine, he reached up with his free hand and moved my bangs out of my eyes and tucked them behind my ear. My skin tingled at his touch and my waist, suddenly empty of his arms, ached. "Thank you." My voice was no louder than a whisper. I broke my gaze from his and looked down at my hands.
- 15 -

"You're welcome." Edward stepped away from me; he ran his fingers through that gorgeous messy hair of his and sighed. I stole another glance at him as the distance between us increased, the look in his eyes tugged at my heart. There was a hint of sadness there that I hadn't noticed before. Something was missing and I felt a sudden surge of panic as he slowly turned to walk away from me. "Wait!" my voice sounded shaky to my own ears, I pushed away from the vending machine and took a step towards him. Edward paused tilting his head slightly in my direction. I drew in a nervous breath and raised my eyes to meet his, his big brown eyes locked onto mine. I felt myself getting lost in them and struggled with myself to regain my composure. With all the courage I could muster I held out my hand to him shyly and smiled. "Thank you for rescuing me." I said warmly, "My name is Bella." His face lit up and he smiled back at me. The dimples in his cheeks were ever so striking and I hoped that the heat I felt in my face wasn't showing. "I know," his voice was so smooth, so warm, "I'm Edward." I felt his hand envelope mine and like his voice his hand was so soft, I felt warm and safe standing there. Then he did something no other man had ever done with me before. He raised my hand to his lips and I felt the tiniest whisper of a kiss brush across the back of my hand. Before my brain could register what had just happened he was gone and the vending machines began to get crowded again.

EPOV There was no way I was going to let the football hit Bella in the face. I was already annoyed at Whitlock and Jones for acting like stuck up jerks in every single one of my classes that by lunchtime my head was pounding. I had just walked in the cafeteria and headed to the vending machines when some girl next to me gasped and raised her hand to cover her mouth. I turned my head to see what had made her looked so shocked and my heart sank. All I could see was Bella's long black hair, the frightened look on her face, and her arm being raised as she tried to protect herself. The idiot Whitlock had thrown the ball hard and I knew it was going to hurt badly if it struck her.

- 16 -

My instincts took over and I sprinted over to her. I grabbed her around her waist and twisted both of us around into the vending machines away from the football's path. I could feel Bella's hands gripping my forearms tightly her mouth forming a silent scream. Her head snapped back and she gasped. I was pressed against her sandwiching her between myself and the vending machine behind her. Her face was in my chest and I could feel her breathing heavily. I tightened my arms around her even though I already knew she was safe, my body suddenly becoming very aware that it could feel every inch of her against me. My breathing mirrored hers but for different reasons, reasons I couldn't yet begin to figure out. I felt her gasp once again and I loosened my grip reluctant to let her go. I looked down at the top of her head, her hair smelled heavenly a mixture of flowers and candy. I closed my eyes and breathed in her scent. I felt her head move back away from my chest as she raised her chin up to look at me. "Are you alright?" I managed to ask before getting lost inside those amazing black eyes. My heart thudded in my chest, she didn't answer. "Are you hurt?" I was suddenly overcome with worry when she just stared at me not answering; she just blinked and looked frightened. I searched her face quickly for any signs that she might be hurt. I loosened my grip around her waist further afraid that I was hurting her. Finally she spoke, "I'm okay." Then something flashed in her eyes, I couldn't read it, and she jerked her hands off my arms so fast as if touching me repulsed her. I immediately let her go feeling rejected but not wanting to leave her. I leaned my hand against the vending machine behind her head hating the space that was already between us. My eyes wandered over her taking in every inch of her features. She was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. Her eyes were jet black making them stand out from any girl I had ever met. Her lips were full, her black hair hung down almost to her waist in soft waves. My hand itched to reach up and stroke her cheek; I knew I couldn't do that without being slapped so I did the next best thing. I reached out and pushed her hair off of her face and tucked it behind her ear. I let my fingers brush her cheek on purpose, her skin was amazingly soft. "I'm glad you're okay." I stared into her eyes willing her to look at me. "Thank you." Her voice was a soft whisper. She blinked at me then tore her eyes away looking down.
- 17 -

Defeated I backed away, she didn't like me at all, she couldn't even look at me. I dragged my hand through my hair and sighed. I was angry at myself, angry that I was letting a girl get to me that way she was. I wasn't going to let this happen, I was Edward Cullen, girls threw themselves at me every day. I didn't need this. "You're welcome." I turned away from her trying to force my brain to forget about this girl, forget that my heart felt as if it was being squeezed inside my chest. Willing the anger to take control I took a step towards the doors when I heard her voice again. "Wait!" I paused, every inch of my body wanting to turn to her. I tilted my head and slowly letting my eyes rest on hers. Then she was suddenly holding out her hand to me thanking me, telling me her name, smiling at me. Her smile sent a wave of electricity coursing through me. It was contagious and I lost my train of thought, and I knew I was grinning back at her like a damm fool. "I know," I reached out for her hand, "I'm Edward." Her hand was so dainty and soft. My hand was able to wrap around hers easily and suddenly I was acting on impulse, not thinking, not being cautious, I brought her hand up pressing my lips ever so slightly to the back of her hand. Her skin felt warm and soft against my mouth, I felt my brain go fuzzy and I knew I had better get the hell out of there before she threw me on my ass. Without another word I left. I was still grinning when I reached the football field later that afternoon. Flowers and candy, that's what she smelled like and it was still lingering in my mind as I put my helmet on and headed for the rest of the players that we surrounding Coach Swan. I scanned the field quickly looking for her as I jogged towards Coach. I finally spotted her ten yards away looking down at her clipboard. She was concentrating scribbling something down onto her paper. Her hoodie drawn up over her head again, my fingers flexed with the same urge I had gotten the other day, wanting to pull that hood down and let her hair free. As if she could sense my stare she looked up, her eyes locking into mine. I didn't turn away; I couldn't make myself turn away even if I had wanted to. Then I saw it, just a glimmer of a smile making those gorgeous lips of her turn up ever so slightly, the air escaped my lungs with a soft whoosh. I knew she couldn't see my face behind my helmet so I raised my hand a little just to let her know I had seen her, thankful
- 18 -

that she couldn't see my goofy grin that had taken over my face. Her smile widened a bit and she brought up her right hand quickly in greeting. The shrill sound of Coach Swan's whistle jerked me back to attention and I finally focused on my teammates. Coach Swan began discussing with us a new offensive strategy that he and Coach Gibson had come up with. His words captured my interest and for the next few hours my world consisted of running plays, getting good coverage, and hitting all my targets. Before dismissing us for the day Coach Swan complemented our center, Ricky Holden, for keeping the defensive line away from me. I noticed that Holden and I had some sort of unspoken communication thing going on and he was able to snap the ball and block for me with ease. When practice was over I jogged over to the benches, Bella was sitting down on the far end going over her papers. The rest of team goofed off at table that held our water bottles, no one acknowledged her. Curious to what she did with her time on the field and feeling confident after a good practice and her greeting earlier, I removed my helmet and sat down a few feet away from her. "Hey." I smiled at her. She looked up at me from her clipboard; she had been lost in thought, her pen resting on her bottom lip. I stared at her lips they were so full and moist, my throat tightened, and I felt myself losing some of my aplomb. "Great practice," she suddenly broke into a smile, "you have excellent handling skills, your release is quick and you can step up in the pocket and deliver the ball on time" I stared at her dumbfounded. Bella kept talking. "You hit Whitlock 85% of the time, you know if you delay your timing by another second or two and tighten up your stance I bet your numbers will go up to the 90's." I blinked rapidly. I am sure my mouth was hanging open and I could only nod in response. Bella smirked and I could see she was trying to stifle a laugh. "You have a quick set up as a drop back passer, and when your feet are set, you can really drive the ball into just about any spot on the field." She added half laughing her eyes crinkling in merriment. "Ummmthanks?" I cocked my head to the side and raised an eyebrow. Then finally able to get a handle on my thoughts I added, "How do you know all that?"
- 19 -

"My Dad," she began still smiling at me her face instantly lit up and I could see that she was quite animated and at ease, "loves football, he lives for it. I was born knowing football." I continued to stare at her, my heart rate increasing with every word she said, I found her football talk sexy as hell and I knew at that moment I was screwed.

So what do you all think so far? I am always happy to hear from you!

- 20 -

Chapter 3
Reviews are welcome! I appreciate all feedback. I am just setting the stage for lots of lemony goodness to come, be patient. :) Enjoy! Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight. I own all the football knowledge. :)

BPOV I am late! My alarm clock decided to die this morning and I had rushed around my room throwing on my clothes and brushing my teeth before running down my front steps and practically jumping over our gate. I flung open the door to Mr. Banner's room. Luckily first period hadn't started yet and Mr. Banner was standing by his desk talking to some of my classmates. I hurriedly headed over to my desk and nearly tripped over myself when I saw none other than Edward Cullen sitting in the desk next to mine. He hadn't seen me; he was looking down scribbling absentmindedly on a piece of paper in front of him, his hair falling over his eyes. What is he doing in AP Calculus? I wondered to myself. The jocks never took advanced placement courses, they stuck to the easy stuff that they could slide by without ruining their GPA's and risk not getting to play. He looked up startled to see me when I slipped into the seat next to him. I gave him a small smile. "Hi." I greeted him, trying to be friendly, after all I had nearly left him speechless yesterday afternoon when football practice was over. Remembering the look on his face when he realized I knew "football talk" made me chuckle to myself. "Hey." He managed to nod. He stared at me for a second as if he wanted to say more but then decided against it and remained silent, his pencil motionless in his hand.
- 21 -

I suddenly felt embarrassed by his lack of response and reached down to grab my binder out of my backpack. Maybe Edward didn't like girls who knew about sports, maybe he preferred the cheerleader type instead. The air brained, big boobed, over flirtatious cheerleader type like Jessica Stanely, I thought to myself sarcastically. It figured someone as gorgeous as him would only go for someone like her. "What are you doing in Calculus?" Edward's words registered in my brain. I narrowed my eyes still looking down into my binder. Was he insulting me? Taking a huge breath, I looked right at him. "I belong in AP Calculus." My words were defiant almost a challenge. "What are you doing in Calculus?" He looked almost frightened at my words then his eyes began to sparkle and he broke into a sly smile. "I belong here," he pushed his hair back off his eyes and placed his chin in his hand, his head turned to look at me, "right here in Calculus, next to you." My breath hitched at his words but I didn't have a chance to answer. Mr. Banner had begun his morning lecture. With each passing minute I grew more and more aware of Edward Cullen sitting next to me and less and less aware of the properties of natural logarithms. I realized that I had never really seen Edward off the football field so watching him sit next to me was agonizing. He sat lazily in his seat and every time he moved the muscles in his arm rippled. Out of the corner of my eye I watched how he listened intently to Mr. Banner discuss determining the slope of a line. I noticed how he drummed his fingers on his desk flexing his knuckles every now and then. I wanted so badly to reach out and touch those gorgeous hands. I remembered how those fingers had wrapped around mine when he shook my hand and how they gripped a football with just the right amount of pressure. I shivered mentally trying to escape getting lost in those flashbacks. Without warning Edward suddenly stretched out his arms behind him. He shifted in his seat slightly and brought his arms up behind his head, rested them there for a second, then brought them down again resting one arm on the back of my chair. I stiffened sitting straight up my body completely aware that his arm was right behind me. There was no way I heard anything else Mr. Banner was saying for the rest of the period, he might as well been speaking Chinese. I fought to keep my breathing steady my entire body tense.
- 22 -

That's when I felt it, ever so faint, a soft gentle stroke against my hair. Edward was touching my hair. I remained perfectly still not sure if I should acknowledge his touch, not sure how to react. His soft touches lasted for a few minutes longer; I could feel my back wanting to arch against his hand in the worst way. My internal struggle continued until his hand finally stopped. I took in a shaky breath and nearly lost it when he leaned his entire body close to mine and turned his face to my ear. "Will you be on the field on Friday night?" his voice was a low whisper. Afraid of my voice betraying me I simply nodded. "Will you watch me play?" His warm breath against my ear made my skin tingle. I nodded again not sure how much more I could take before I made a complete fool of myself by flinging into his arms. "I'm looking forward to that." He finally pulled back and turned his attention once again to Mr. Banner. Edward continued to stroke my hair, ever so lightly, for the remainder of first period. By the time class ended I was an emotional mess, my brain trying to make sense of it all. When the bell finally rang I hastily grabbed my binder throwing it in my backpack avoiding Edward's eyes at all costs. Edward was taking his time twirling his pencil in his hand watching me with those chocolate brown eyes. I could feel his gaze burning into my skin. Flustered I dropped my pencil in my flurry to shove everything in my backpack; it bounced twice off the floor landing at Edward's feet.

EPOV I reached down and grabbed her pencil scooping it up in one swift motion. I held it out to her offering her a crooked smile. "Thank you." She smiled reaching out and taking her pencil. I noticed how her hand trembled and wondered if she felt the same electrical jolt I did when our hands touched. I nodded in reply and watched her walk out of the room. I had been taken by surprise when I looked up and saw Bella standing there next
- 23 -

to me, but she had smiled and said hi before sitting down. My transcripts had finally been sent over to Forks High and my permanent class schedule now included my correct classes. I had become rattled at seeing Bella and my brain froze. I managed to get out a "hey" before the fog took over and I desperately tried to think of something witty to say. I said the first thing that had come to my mind and instantly regretted it. "What are you doing in Calculus?" Immediately I wanted to take back to words. Stupid stupididiot! I saw her expression change and knew that I had pissed her off. When she looked at me her eyes held a challenge, I had insulted her intelligence, but hell she was hot when she was pissed. Her breasts heaved and her bottom lip thrust out as she clearly made it known that she belonged here in Calculus. It was that minute I felt something snap inside me. Mine. I had to make her mine. There was no way I could let this beauty, mi reina, get away. I decided right that instant to turn on the Cullen charm that had worked on every single female before her. I met her challenge declaring that I too belonged in Calculus, with her. Her eyes had widened at my words but she didn't answer instead she turned her attention to Mr. Banner and his lecture. I don't think I heard one word Mr. Banner had said during his lecture, all I could think about was that I had the most breathtaking view sitting right next to me. After ten minutes or so of torture I knew I had to reach out and grab a handful of that glistening black hair hanging down the back of Bella's chair. It took me all of 30 seconds to figure out a way to get my hand into her hair without the entire class noticing. I pretended to stretch my arms behind my head but instead of bringing both hands back to my desk I lazily left one arm extended on the back of her chair. I'm not even sure she noticed but I thought she sat up a bit straighter. I really didn't want her to smack me or cause a scene so as discreetly as I could, I let my fingers gently graze down the long strands feeling the silkiness flow across my palm. I continued to stroke her hair ever so softly for the next few minutes until I had gathered enough courage to lean over and talk to her. I whispered in her ear if she was going to watch me play Friday night trying to hint that I wanted her there. She wouldn't look at me only nod her head making me sigh with frustration. How was I going to make this jewel talk to me? Much to my delight Bella was in all of my AP classes though she only sat next to me in Calculus. I spent much of the day watching her, how she twirled a piece of hair round and round during English, how she would scratch her temple when she
- 24 -

was deep in thought during Chemistry, and the way she would furrow her brows in concentration during History. I nearly fell out of my chair in History when she wrapped those luscious lips around the tip of her pen while listening to the lecture, her pink lips forming a perfect "O," and when she popped her pen out of her mouth I felt my crotch tighten painfully. Down boy! When the last bell rang we all spilled into the hallway, everyone eager to get off the school grounds. I waited until Bella gathered up her things and slung her backpack over her shoulder. I followed behind her noticing that she had taken out a letter from her back pocket and was reading it as she headed for the football field. I picked up my pace; she turned to look at me in surprise when I fell into place next to her. "Secret Admirer?" I asked cocking my head towards the letter in her hand, hating the jealous possessive feeling that had taken control over my brain. Bella gave me a shy smile and I swore I saw her blush; she shook her head slowly at me. "No, this is from my best friend Alice." Her voice soft, "Alice is a freshman at Penn State." I raised my eyebrows in admiration, "Penn State? Wow." "She got a full scholarship, she is majoring in Communications." Bella folded up her letter and shoved it back into her pocket. "You must miss her." I though I saw a bit of sadness in those beautiful black eyes. "I do," she admitted, "but as long as I keep my grades up I should be heading there myself." "Really?" I almost stopped in mid step feeling an intense amount of pride for my girl, mi reina. We had reached the stadium and I knew I had to leave to go get dressed for practice. "She'll be here Friday," Bella added just before I entered the boy's locker room, "for homecoming." She gave me a small wave and headed for the football field. I
- 25 -

stood at the door of the locker room watching her leave. Friday was Homecoming, I turned to go inside to change, I needed to make this a Homecoming Bella would never forget.

Anyone remember their first Homecoming dance? :) What was the best thing about it? Who wants to share?

- 26 -

Chapter 4
Thanks for all the Sweet reviews! Keep em coming! I welcome both good and bad, don't worry. Let's go to the homecoming game! LOL Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight, I own all the football knowledge. :)

EPOV Newton was pissed at me, I mean really pissed. His anger only intensified with each passing day and by Friday he was ready to explode. Coach had benched him for tonight's game so he had to stew all week long watching me practice in his place. It didn't help any that his girlfriend kept throwing herself at me every chance she got whether she was with him or not. "Cullen!" Newton slammed my locker door shut getting right in my face. "What the hell Newton!" I narrowed my eyes at him. I had a good two inches in height over him so it was easy not to be intimidated. "You need to stay the hell away from my girl!" Newton growled fisting his hands at his sides. I snorted in response, "I think you need to talk to your girl about that." I raised my eyebrows knowingly. Mike huffed angrily and I had to stifle the urge to laugh right in his face. Of all the girls in this school Jessica Stanley would be the last one I would go after. "Just stay the hell away," Newton warned, "and you better watch your back on the field." A red haze surrounded my vision at his words, trying to threaten me over Jessica was one thing, but messing with my game was a whole nother issue. "Back off Newton!" I hissed, taking a step towards him, my eyes masked with fury, "you should spend more time figuring out how keep your girland your jersey."
- 27 -

I pushed past him, slamming my shoulder into his, and headed for the field. I had less than two hours before game time and I knew I shouldn't let Newton get to me. By the time the team ran out onto the field the entire stadium was packed full. The noise from the crowd was deafening. There were signs and banners waving everywhere. When our team made their appearance the entire stadium was on its feet cheering loudly. Running out to the fifty yard for a quick warm up drill I scanned the edge of the field quickly knowing exactly what I was looking for, Mi Reina. I finally spotted her standing near the team bench next to a shorter dark haired girl. I only let my eyes rest on her for a minute but knowing that she was there on the sidelines gave me the rush of adrenaline that I needed to focus on my game. The game was intense, it wasn't just a game, it was a war. It took the opposing team, Jackson High, less than three minutes to put 7 points on the scoreboard. Our offense was finally able to take the field and the announcer broadcasted my name over the speaker as I ran out from the sidelines. "Ladies and Gentlemen Edward Cullen quarterback for Forks, number 8." The crowd roared and the stadium vibrated with excitement. As soon as the ball snapped into my hands I fell into a comfortable and familiar stance. I sprang into action connecting with Whitlock for a first down of 15 yards. I was concentrating so hard the noise from the crowds faded into the background and I could only hear my heart pounding in my chest. The announcer continued to dictate each play over the speakers. "With Edward Cullen now in as quarterback, Fork's is moving the ball down the field. Cullen and Whitlock connected on a 22-yard pass to put Fork High inside the 20-yard line." "Cullen with a good cross field pass to Harvey Jones for another Fork first down. It was impressive for Cullen who scrambled left and threw across his body to the right." "Touchdown, Forks High! Cullen does a good job on play action to hide the football and hit Jasper Whitlock for the score. Whitlock went above Jackson High's free safety to make the catch. With the score the Forks High ties Jackson High 7-7." The fervent pitch never let up, the game continued score for score until the last
- 28 -

minute. It seemed like everyone in the bleachers were up on their feet stomping and cheering. The school band burst into a spirited rendition of Fork's school song. The scoreboard read 28-28, we had possession of the ball and this would be our last chance to put points on the board. "Ricky Holden breaks a tackle at the line of scrimmage to keep the drive moving for Forks High." My mind was racing and I knew I had less than a minute to score. I felt the snap from Holden and ran back searching the field for Whitlock. "Cullen pumps short to hit Whitlock for a first and goal!" I could see Coach Swan gripping his clipboard as he watched us in our final huddle of the game. My eyes scanned across the row of my teammates standing on the sidelines, they all seemed paralyzed in their spots. Finally at the end of the line I saw Bella. She looked as beautiful as ever. Her hood was down and her black hair was flying wildly around her. Her eyes sparkled with excitement, her body bouncing up and down; she had her hands clasped together in nervous anticipation. I called the play and we lined up. We all knew it was now or never, we had run out of time. "Cullen attempts a 3-step drop tosses the ball to Whitlock. And it's good! Whitlock avoids Jackson High's defenders, he scrambles to the right. Touchdown! Forks High! And there's the final buzzer, this game is over ladies and gentlemen!" The entire stadium erupted in ear-splitting cheers. As we ran back to the sidelines Coach Swan and the rest of the team swarmed around us. The cheerleaders jumped down from their platform, whooping and screaming, joining in on the team's celebration. I fought through the crowd around me; there was only one person I wanted to celebrate with. I unsnapped my helmet and tossed it onto the nearest bench. Every which way I turned there was another guy wanting to congratulate me and slap me on my ass. Finally I saw her. She was standing behind the throng of players at the edge of the grass. She was looking right at me, her eyes wide and shining. When my eyes locked onto hers she broke into a wide smile and mouthed, "Amazing" My breath hitched. No, she was amazing and I was only two feet away from her
- 29 -

now, I took another step towards her when one more person got in my way, blocking my view. "Edward! You won! How exciting!" Jessica Stanley had flung her arms around my neck and seemed to be hanging there for dear life. "Thanks." I reached behind me and grabbed her arms trying to unclasp them. She only held on harder. "Are you going to the homecoming dance?" she gave me a seductive smile looking at me through her lashes, "will you take me?" I shook my head at her, finally unclasping her arms from around me, she was in my way and I wanted her off of me now. "Pleaseeeeee" Jessica half begged, half whined. I was getting annoyed now. She bit down on her bottom lip, and then ran her finger up my arm, "I'll make it worth your while." I stepped back and shrugged, "I have other plans, sorry." I made my way around Jessica, my eyes going back to where Bella was standing but she was gone.

BPOV Alice arrived Thursday night and headed straight for my house. We had been best friends ever since we started Kindergarten together. I had gotten picked on at recess by some boys and stood crying by the swings. Alice had stormed over pushed the boys onto the floor and walked with me over to the bathrooms. We were inseparable ever since, even when she was able to skip a grade in 6th and go right on to 7th. Alice was everything I wasn't, she was petite and beyond gorgeous with deep green eyes, short choppy black hair, perfect figure. Boys flocked to her like moths to a flame ignoring me like an old discarded shoebox. She was also a genius, smart as a whip, and was accepted to all the colleges she had applied to. She chose Penn State because they had offered her a full scholarship; she knew exactly what she was going to do with her communications degree, we had mapped out our plan years ago. We were going to be strong independent women in a world that was made for
- 30 -

men; and we were going to break that world wide open. "Bella!" Alice squealed bounding through the door to my bedroom. "It's so good to be home!" She skipped over to my bed and threw herself across it. I threw a pillow at her just for fun and plopped down on the bed next to her. "Are you coming to the homecoming game with me tomorrow?" I asked her my fingers playing with the fringe on my pillow. "Of course!" She bounced up into a sitting position. "How's the team doing?" "Pretty good," I smoothed out my comforter as I talked, "we're 8 and 1 so far." "I can't believe Newton has been able to carry you guys this far." Alice shook her head in disbelief. "Mike isn't playing tomorrow," I avoided Alice's eyes and began inspecting a nonexistent spot on my comforter, "we have a new guy." "New?" "Yeah, since Percy broke his leg Dad had to fill his spot." I added casually. I didn't want to mention Edward just yet. "Hmmm" Alice raised her eyebrows eyeing me suspiciously. "and this new guy might be called?" "I think its Edward or something like that." I dismissed her question with a wave of my hand getting up from the bed and walking over to the window. "Uh huh, yeah." Alice voiced knowingly dragging her eyes upward, but she let the subject drop for the time being, she got up and headed to my closet, "so what are you wearing to the homecoming dance?" "Umjeans?" I shrugged my shoulders. "Bella! Not jeans! Come on there has to be something in here you can wear." Alice had returned to her old self and began shuffling through my clothes. The entire school was buzzing with Homecoming excitement the next day. Even I had to admit I was pretty excited about getting to watch Edward play a real game.
- 31 -

By 4 o'clock I was out on the football field getting ready for the game even though it wasn't scheduled to start until 6. I avoided my Dad at all costs. I learned at a very young age to stay out of his way on game day. He turned into a crazy version of Mike Ditka from the minute he woke up until he went to bed at night. I had never seen a crowd so worked up as I did that night. The noise was vehement and overwhelming. Throughout the entire game I felt like I was working overtime scribbling furiously the stats for each player, but there was always a gentle tugging at my heart making me look for Edward. Edward played amazing! Not to mention he looked amazing in those tight black football pants that seemed like they were painted on him. The final minutes of the game were so fierce. My heart was thrashing in my chest in anticipation, my hands clasped together tightly. I wanted so badly to win, to see Edward win. When I watched Edward do a 3 step drop and toss the ball to Whitlock, I just knew at that second he had the game in the bag. He had played with such a high level of determination and concentration oblivious to the crowd around him; I knew that one day he would belong to that special breed of elite players. Chaos erupted when the game was over; the players were all on a high, slapping each other on their behinds. I shook my head smiling at their actions knowing high school football and butt slapping have gone together like hand in glove. I noticed to my right that Jasper has scooped up Alice and was swinging her around in a big bear hug and she was hugging him back laughing, her head thrown back in delight. I raised my eyebrows at their display; I would have to ask her about that later on. I saw Edward then; he had flung his helmet onto a bench and was looking around the sidelines. He was surrounded by his teammates congratulating him. I watched him silently, proudly, admiring his form. His eyes suddenly locked onto mine and the intense pride I felt for him overtook me, he was amazing. I broke into a smile and I said it out loud. "Amazing" I swore he was walking towards me, I was ready to throw my arms around him and let him know just how amazing I thought he really was when I saw Jessica Stanley spring in front of him. She squealed and flung her arms around those incredible shoulders. My world came crashing down back to reality, the reality that there would always be a Jessica Stanley waiting on the sidelines to pounce on guys
- 32 -

like Edward Cullen, I didn't stand a chance. "Bella!" Alice bounded over to me her face flush with excitement. I tore my eyes away from Edward and Jessica, "Isn't this so exciting!" "Bella? Are you okay?" The laughter in Alice's voice had gone and was replaced with a curious tone. "Yes!" I answered a little too brightly, "this is the most exciting night of my life!" I had to let the sarcasm pass through my voice. Alice frowned at me. She didn't quite understand. "Bella, come on, we have to get ready for the dance!" She tugged at my hand pulling me away from the mass of people, away from Edward. We walked toward the gates leading out to the parking lot. I was suddenly overcome with dread; I didn't want to go to the homecoming dance.

Anyone wanna review today? :)

- 33 -

Chapter 5
And we're off to the dance! Have you all been able to get past the descriptions of EC and BS? Keep the reviews coming. The more reviews I get the faster I write. (Hint hint). Check out the link I posted in my profile for a pic of Bella's homecoming dress. You need to copy and paste it in your browser. Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight. I own all the football knowledge.

BPOV I had to listen to Alice go on and on about Jasper Whitlock the entire time we were getting ready for the dance. I tried to be excited for her but my heart just wasn't in it. "Boy has he grown up," Alice chattered as she stood behind me a large curling iron in her hand. She had insisted that I needed to curl my hair in order for my dress to have the full effect. I was too downhearted to protest so I conceded, letting her guide me to my vanity chair. I watched her babble on and on through the reflection in the mirror. "He's going to be at the dance." She wrapped a large section of my hair around the barrel of the iron, "he told me to save a dance for him." Alice stepped back and admired her work. "I can't believe this is the same guy who used to pull my hair in 5th grade." She shook her head smiling, grabbing one more section of my hair that apparently didn't meet her strict curl standards. Her mention of hair pulling roused the memory of Edward in Calculus class, my mind swirled with the recollection of how his hands felt as he gently fingered the back of my hair. I felt my heart lurch and I placed my hands on the vanity and stood up. "Alice are you done yet?" my eyes implored her to stop.
- 34 -

"Yes," she stuttered at my abrupt interruption, "Bella, what's wrong? Ever since the end of the football game you've been moping around." I sighed, wanting to tell her everything, but at the same time wanting to tell her nothing. "Nothing's wrong," I shook my head, "except I am afraid I am going to pop out of this dress." I swung my arms around and placed them on my hips giving her an exasperated look. Alice had chosen a dress from my closet that I had never worn before. The dress had been a gift from Alice's sister-in-law, Rosalie, for my seventeenth birthday and was something I would have never bought for myself. It was really very pretty and I felt way out of my league with it on. Someone as cute and bouncy as Alice could pull this off in a snap. It was a soft blue A line strapless dress; the bust had pretty lace ruffles that gathered in the front. A large sash wrapped around the waist, and the body of the dress had five delicate tiers of tulle and lace falling into soft swirls around my knees. "It fits you like a glove." Alice grinned wickedly at me, "ain't nothing popping out of that dress!" I sighed again wishing I could crawl back into my hoodie and jeans and spend the rest of the evening lying in bed with my laptop. "One more thing," Alice reached for the bottle of Pink Sugar I had on my vanity and gave us both a spritz. "Okay, come on let's go." Alice grabbed her bag off the bed and pushed me out the door. The school auditorium had been transformed into a winter wonderland with small white lights twinkling everywhere. There were several round tables draped with flowing silver tablecloths each top adorned with a single white candlestick placed in a clear crystal holder. White and silver streamers hung across the ceiling giving the room a more elegant appearance. Alice and I walked slowly through the entrance our eyes sweeping over the room in awe. "It's beautiful." Alice whispered and suddenly broke into a large smile when her
- 35 -

eyes rested on Jasper Whitlock. I could see from the look on her face she was smitten. Jasper wasted no time appearing at her side. He bowed before her and swept out one hand towards the dance floor. "Would you like to dance princess?" he proposed, holding his other hand out to her, the affection in his voice apparent. Alice was infatuated instantly, she laughed, the angelic pitch of her voice mesmerizing Jasper who stared at her with lovesick puppy dog eyes, she allowed him to take her hand and whisk her off onto the dance floor. I stood there for a second longer watching them go off hand in hand, my eyes wandered over to the large white floral arrangement that stood next to the refreshment table. My gaze lingered on the silver and white twigs twirling and intertwining with each other through the flowers, the tiny lights that were wrapped around them blinked off and on. As my eyes rose to the top of the arrangement, they focused on the figure standing beside it, the twigs and twinkling lights casting small shadows on his face. Edward was watching me, I felt his eyes move over my body and rest on my face. I sucked in my breath, holding it. That gentle tugging at my heart returned more forceful than before. I was suddenly afraid, and more nervous than I had ever been in my seventeen years, there had never been anyone like Edward in my life before, and there he was standing by the flowers, with the most intent look on his face. He looked oh so gorgeous dressed in black trousers, a charcoal grey dress shirt, and a black skinny tie. He started walking towards me with long purposeful strides covering the distance between us in just a few steps. He stopped when he was just a few feet away, never taking his eyes off of me; he slid his hands in his trouser pockets and cocked his head to the side. Then he smiled. His smile lit up his whole face, and those dimplesmaking him look so vunerable and so damn sexy at the same time. He stood there waiting, his eyes asking me an unknown question. I recognized in an instant that I would have to take that first step towards him, he needed that from me. Without any more hesitation I finally gave in to the longing that surrounded my heart and with shaky legs I took that first step.
- 36 -

Walking towards him, my hands trembling slightly, I smiled back, trying to get my heart rate in check. When I reached him he didn't say a word, he just held out one hand to me. I looked down at his hand and back up to his eyes. His eyes searched mine, he was still smiling at me but I saw a hunger behind that smile, as if he were yearning for something more. I placed my hand in his; he closed his fingers around mine tightly, and began leading me out to the dance floor. When we reached an empty corner Edward turned to face me. He pulled me up against him sliding his arms around my waist looking down at me. He leaned his face close to mine, his cheek brushing my ear, he whispered, "Amazing."

EPOV I spent the first fifteen minutes spying on the entrance of the auditorium waiting and hoping Bella would show up. I already imagined at least five different scenarios regarding what she might be thinking about me after her disappearance from the football game, none ended with a favorable outcome. The darkened room gave me plenty of opportunity to stay hidden among the shadows, away from the claws of Jessica Stanley and a few more females from Forks High student body who had watched me play and were suddenly very interested in talking to me. I just hoped my luck would not run out. Then Bella walked in. She had come with the same girl who had been standing next to her during the football game, but I didn't really pay her any attention. I couldn't take my eyes off of Bella. Bella was a sight to behold, she looked magnificent. She was wearing a blue dress that showed off her shoulders and legs. I have to admit I am a leg man, long lean legs like hers were my weakness, and tonight my weakness would get the best of me. Her hair was flowing free in large curls around her face and down her back, my fingers itched to plunge themselves into all that beauty.

- 37 -

I let out a low groan and ran my hand through my hair; there was no way I was going to be able to stay away from her tonight. I stood by a ridiculously large floral arrangement that had all these freaky branches sticking out of it. Someone had tried to make it look "Wintery" by throwing a bunch of blinking lights on it, but failed, in my opinion. I watched with amused interest when Whitlock decided to make a fool of himself over who I assumed to be Alice, Bella's best friend that she had talked about the other day. I watched Whitlock and Alice walk away leaving my girl, Reina, standing there all alone. I fought back to urge to just walk right up to her, scoop her up, and carry her away. Bella saw me then, her eyes locked onto mine. I clung to her gaze, not wavering, not moving, just watching. My eyes swept over her one last time and the same intense feeling that I had during the game washed over me, It was now or never, I had run out of time, I needed to score. I pushed away from the flowers and started walking towards her. When I was two feet away I stopped. One thing held me back; I needed to know that she wanted me too. That all this wasn't just my imagination, that this was real. I didn't want to scare her so I smiled. And waited. It took her only seconds to understand. She walked toward me and smiled back. I took her hand in mine and led her over the dance floor; pulling her into my arms, there was only one thing I wanted to say to her. "Amazing" I breathed into her ear, wanting to nuzzle her neck in the worst way. "You look amazing." I felt Bella take in a shaky breath and she pulled back from me slightly, so that she could see my face.
- 38 -

She smiled, her eyes shining brighter than all the damm blinking lights in the room. "Thank you," she spoke, "so do you." We didn't say anything else to each other for the rest of the song, just held each other, moving slowly to the soft pulsing sounds of the music. It felt heavenly to have her arms around my neck; I could feel her soft sweet breaths on my cheek. My hands were longing to touch the smooth supple skin of her shoulders and arms. I breathed in her scent, she smelled like flowers and candy again, so delicious. She sighed softly in my arms; her fingers began to stroke the back of my neck in the most tantalizing way. I fought against the urge to go all caveman like on her and grind my hips into her soft flesh, instead I pulled her tighter against me allowing myself to nestle my face into the crook of her neck. I didn't want the song to end. It would be too soon, I wanted to stand this way with her forever. As the last notes faded away I inhaled one last breath of her exquisite scent, getting lost in the sensations of this enchanting being in my arms. The auditorium was soon filled with the booming beats of the latest rap song, ending the bewitching atmosphere that had surrounded us. Bella pulled back away from me. She glanced around the room nervously and then back to me. "UmEdwardI don't usually dance to this" she spread out her arms around her, her cheeks bright pink. "Me neither." I grabbed her hand, "come on." I walked over the exit leading her out to the school courtyard, guiding her to the benches that were used by the students during breaks. We sat down; I kept her hand in mine, not wanting to lose the connection between us. "So," I looked into those deep black eyes, "did you like the game?"
- 39 -

Her eyes lit up and she smiled. "That was one of the most exciting games I have ever seen." Her voice vibrating with enthusiasm, "Your stance was perfect." I chuckled softly at her praise, wanting to hug her and tell her that coming from her that was the best compliment I had ever heard. "Do you know you completed 42 of 53 passes for 496 yards and 5 touchdowns?" I could hear the admiration in her words. "And Whitlock ran 12 times for 180 yards and 4 touchdowns." "180?" I whistled softly impressed, "Whitlock has some legs on him." Bella giggled comfortably, "I think Alice will agree." "How bad does she have it?" I laughed along with Bella enjoying the night breeze. "Bad." Bella shook her head from side to side in amusement, the moonlight bouncing off those sumptuous curls. We grinned at each other, relaxing in one another's company. Our conversation continued over the next few hours, we were in our own little cocoon, I relished in getting to know her better. Bella had covered her face with her hands, "I can't believe you like the San Francisco 49ers." She shook her head back and forth in disbelief. I laughed heartily, "I can't believe you like the Dallas Cowboys." I feigned disgust wrinkling my nose at her. She hissed and pushed her shoulder into mine, smiling, pretending to be offended. We couldn't have been on more opposite sides of NFL football team rivals. "Joe Montana is like one of the best quarterbacks of all time." I continued poking fun at her. Bella grimaced, "Montana liked to whine," she leaned toward me in mock seriousness, "Troy Aikman, now there's a quarterback."
- 40 -

I couldn't help but feel a little jealous at her words. It didn't matter that Troy Aikman was now 42 years old with 3 kids; I could hear the idolization in her tone. "My Dad used to play for them." Her words jerked me to attention. "For the Cowboys? Really?" My eyes widened in disbelief, "Who's your Dad?" Bella looked at me startled, and then puzzled, her mouth open, she shook her head at me slowly. "Charlie Swan." She stated in a half whisper. I froze. "Coach Swan?" I stared at her dumbly, "your name is Bella Swan?" "Yes," Visions of Coach Swan screaming angrily, his hands flying in the air, during practices flooded my mind. I swallowed hard. As if Bella could see my thoughts she suddenly burst into laughter throwing her head back. She placed her hand on my knee, "Don't worry, he doesn't bite." I refrained from telling her about her father's secret locker room nickname, Crazy Mike Ditka, which was given to him by my teammates. "He's really a softie at heart," her affection showing in her eyes, "he got to play 2 years pro ball until he blew his knee out. The Cowboys were good to him, they let him stay on the roster one more year in hopes that he would recover but he was never the same, we left Texas after that and moved here when I turned two." "He's from Texas?" I raised my eyebrows. "Yes, University of Texas is his alma mater, he's a longhorn." Bella continued, "He still has tons of friends from there." "Wow." I breathed, my head swirled trying to process all this information. "He wants me to go to college there but I don't want to." Bella shook her head,
- 41 -

"His shoes are too big to fill there, I am going to Penn State instead. Alice and I have a plan, we're going to" "Bella! There you are! I've been looking all over for you!" Bella and I both jumped in our seats, it was her friend Alice with Whitlock not far behind her. Alice narrowed her eyes at me, "Who's this?" she questioned Bella gesturing at me. "This is Edward Cullen." Bella stood up smoothing out her dress awkwardly. I rose alongside her. "Edward? AhEdward. The Edward Cullen. " Alice grinned knowingly at the both of us bouncing up and down on her tiptoes. Bella shifted nervously from one foot to another. "Nice to meet you Edward." Alice curtsied and extended her hand. I smiled at her already liking her peppy personality. "Same here." I shook her hand with enthusiasm. Not missing a beat Alice turned to Bella. "Bella we have to go, the dance is over and Papa Charlie will have our heads if we miss curfew." Bella shot me an alarming glance; we had spent the entire dance talking and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Just a quick shout out to all of you who are reading and reviewing...Thank you so much!

- 42 -

Chapter 6
Thanks for all the feedback! I know I had a lot of "football talk" in Chap 5, I promise you that you will need that information for future reference. (Hint). Please keep the reviews coming! Check out the link on my profile page for a pic of the marble football. :) Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight; I own all the football knowledge.

BPOV I was a nervous wreck walking into Calculus Monday morning. Edward was already in his seat looking as gorgeous as ever. I had spent the weekend obsessing over what Monday was going to bring. There was no denying what I felt in my heart but I was still hesitant to come right out and think that Edward felt the same way. I knew what I wanted, and that was Edward, but wanting and getting are two different things. Trying to act as normal as possible I slid into my seat. Edward was watching me, a sparkle in those beautiful brown eyes. "Morning Bella." He ran his hand through his tousled hair and smiled at me. There were those dimples again. "HiummGood Morning." I was already sounding like an idiot; his voice was sending little tingling sensations up and down my arms. I hastily grabbed my pencil out of my backpack, avoiding Edwards's eyes. He didn't seem to notice. "You look beautiful." He placed his chin in his hand and turned to look at me his eyes sincere. My breath hitched, my head snapped in his direction. No one had ever called me beautiful before, much less someone as amazing as Edward. I didn't know what to say. "Thank you?" my answer came out sounding more like a question.
- 43 -

I shook my head an apologetic smile on my face. My mind was racing a million miles a minute. "I'm sorry," I said trying to collect my thoughts, "thank you, you are so sweet" Edward leaned towards me his eyes searching mine. "Todos los dias cierro mis ojos y te imagino junto a mi." My heart began beating frantically, I was instantly captivated, whatever he had just said made me want to climb out of my chair and onto his lap. My hands itched to stroke his strong jaw line, to grasp the hair behind his head and crush his mouth to mine. I was gripping my pencil so hard it snapped in half at his comment. Edward's eyes widened in amusement at the broken pencil in my hand and he chuckled softly. "Wanna borrow a pencil?" he held out his pencil to me, I could see he was trying not to laugh. I blushed furiously looking down at my binder shaking my head. Mr. Banner began talking, his voice commanding us all to attention. "Wait for me after practice?" Edward's eyes were still on me, his question sounding more like a request. Holding my breath, I turned to look at him, he was smiling. There was no way I could turn down those dimples. I nodded. "Okay." I returned his smile with my own shaky one, hoping I didn't look like a complete dork. His smile brightened and he ran those magnificent hands through his hair once more. The rest of the day flew by in an ardent daze. Throughout the day, my emotions ran from high to low within seconds of each other. I found myself stealing glances at Edward during my classes wondering with incredulity why he was interested in me and fear too, that this was all a dream and I would wake up any instant now back to reality. Sometimes I would catch him looking at me, and he would smile or wink at me making me flustered all over again. Edward was a picture of perfection and I was betting he had plenty of girlfriends
- 44 -

before; the thought of anyone kissing those flawless chiseled lips drove me wild with unwarranted jealousy. This was all so new to me, and I wished with a passion that Alice were still here to give me advice. She had left last night and I never did get a chance to tell her about Edward and how I felt about him. I was regretting that now. It wasn't like I had gobs of experience with guys. I had only dated a few times, mostly because of Alice's insistence, and all of those dates led to nowhere. Most of us had grown up together and have been classmates since Kindergarten so the boys all felt like brothers to me. Of course being Coach Swan's daughter did not help at all either, almost every guy in school had witnessed at least one of my Dad's angry charades at one time or another and there was no way they wanted to be the recipient of his wrath by dating his daughter. In fact, I couldn't ever remember ever feeling this way about anyone before, and I struggled enormously trying to sort it all out in my head. I was mentally exhausted by the end of the day, a complete basket case by the time football practice was over. I sat anxiously on the player's benches waiting for Edward to return from the boys locker room. What if he had forgotten he asked me to wait for him? What if just wanted to ask me some inane question about Calculus? A million jumbled questions floated through my head. I saw him walk out with Jasper and Ricky just then, the three of them were laughing and exchanging some silly cool guy handshake. My fingers picked at my jeans, I was suddenly apprehensive, my eyes shot around me nervously wishing for something to hide behind. Edward scanned the field quickly and walked away from the guys. He called out to them that he would see them tomorrow. He headed my way with that adorable crooked smile on his face. My heart fluttered wildly. "Bella," he sat down beside me, his shoulder touching mine. His hair was still wet from his shower and I could see little drops of water glistening with the sunlight. "I'm glad you waited." I smiled timidly, my cheeks red, wishing just for once I could be more like Jessica Stanely and less like Bella Swan, why couldn't I just throw my arms around him like she did, just tell him exactly what I felt?
- 45 -

"I wanted to give you this." He held out his hand to me. I looked curiously at the smooth white stone sitting in the palm of his hand. Picking it up I realized it was in the shape of a football. It was a beautiful Penn State marble-like stone football. The Penn State logo and small football laces on it were formed with exquisite cultured stones. It shone brightly in the sun with a pearlescent finish. I gasped as he placed it in my hand. "It's beautiful! Thank you!" "I saw it and thought of you." Edward nudged his shoulder into mine, his head was tilted down, his nose almost touching my shoulder, his eyes looking up at me through those long eyelashes, he was smiling. I couldn't hold it in any longer I threw my arms around him pulling him close to me.

EPOV When I walked out of the boys locker room after practice I was nervous as all hell. We had just gotten out of the showers and I don't even know what the hell Whitlock and Holden were laughing about as they snorted and snickered over some idiotic joke. I laughed along with them, feigning humor, as we extended our hands forward punching each others fists. I started scanning the field with apprehension, it looked completely empty. What if Bella wasn't here, what if she didn't want to meet me after all, what if I had just been dreaming in Calculus when I thought I saw her eyes hold a hint of sparkle as she fumbled through her apology to me when I called her beautiful. I saw her then, a lone figure, sitting on the team bench her hands resting on her knees. My heart soared, she was waiting for me. I dismissed myself from the guys with a quick bye and headed over to Bella. I had completely given in to my desire to capture this beautiful creature and had even resorted to speaking Spanish to her. My Mom, Esme had always told me that a woman could never resist when a man spoke a foreign language to her, and from judging by the way Bella's eyes got all wide and flustered making her snap her pencil in half, I completely believed her. Who knew it would work so damn well.

- 46 -

My hand closed around the heavy marble football in my pocket. I had seen it days ago sitting under a glass box at a cosignment shop my Mom loved to frequent. The minute I laid eyes on it I thought of Reina telling me where she would go to college one day and how proud I felt of her, I purchased it in an instant. I had planned on giving it to her on Homecoming night but the moment never felt right, so it had stayed in my pocket the entire night. I was actually grateful for that this morning when it gave me an excuse to ask her to wait for me after practice. I made my way over to her hoping she couldn't see how jittery I was feeling. I knew I had that big goofy grin on my face again, feeling like a bumbling idiot, I sat down next to her deliberately letting our shoulders touch. "Bella, I'm glad you waited." I watched her face carefully, she looked like she was struggling to say something but gave me a shy smile instead. I nervously fingered the football in my pocket; I wasn't sure what else to say so I pulled my hand out and extended it to her. "I wanted to give you this." What I didn't tell her was, that the second I had seen it, all I could think about was her deep black eyes, her soft flowing hair, those perfect rose lips, or how every time I looked at her my heart would throb desperately in my chest. She looked at it questionably, and then upon realizing what it was, she gasped. "Thank you! It's beautiful!" Her delight bubbled over making her bounce a little in her seat. Feeling embarrassed and a little elated at her response I nearly placed my forehead against her shoulder. I didn't want her to see the color I felt rising to my face. I was trying to hide a bit. "I saw it and thought of you." Without moving my head I let my eyes look up into hers, what I saw made my heart pound rapidly; she had the most piercing look in her eyes. They were filled with bold determination and something else, I wasn't quite sure. Suddenly her arms were wrapped around me pulling me to her chest. You know in those books, those mushy books girls love to read, where you see rainbows and stars and all that shit when your with that perfect person, yeah well I
- 47 -

saw all sorts of rainbows and shit right at that moment. My senses went into overdrive and I slid my arms around her waist pulling her closer to me. Bella had nuzzled her face into the crook of my neck; her breaths making little tingling jolts run up and down my spine as I breathed in her delicious scent. My hormones took over when I felt her arms tighten around my shoulders; I turned my head into her cheek and started trailing small butterfly kisses along her jawbone. I let my lips brush over her smooth creamy skin caressing down her neck and up behind her ear. She shivered slightly and let out a small sigh, I continued a slow tantalizing pace to her collarbone and then up again to her cheek, this time I didn't stop, I kept moving until my lips finally met hers. With as much control as I could muster I brushed across her lower lip with mine, slowly back and forth finally feeling the sweet softness of her mouth. I slid one hand up her arm, then her shoulder until it reached her face. With the backs of my fingers I traced the outline of her eyebrow down to the curve of her cheekbone. I opened my mouth slightly allowing the tip my tongue to reach out and gently lick the length of her bottom lip, her lips parted and she let out a small whimper. Slowly I grasped her bottom lip between mine sucking softly, losing myself in her sweetness. When she took my top lip between hers I couldn't hold it in any longer, with a low groan I brought my hand up behind her head pulling her mouth to mine. I dragged my tongue across her bottom lip, she didn't hesitate but moaned softly, and darted her tongue out to meet mine. I pressed closer to her, letting my tongue explore the inside of her heavenly mouth, her breathing quickened, I felt her fisting her hand into my hair urgently. Her tongue met mine once again, this time more forceful, more insistent, it massaged mine eliciting another half groan, half growl from my throat. "Edward," she panted her lips still pressed against mine, "we should stop." I knew she was right, I was already aware of the painful bulge in my jeans aching to be free from its confines, but I still didn't want to let her go. I pulled back slowly giving her small tender kisses along her lips and finally leaned my forehead on hers. We both opened our eyes the intimacy of our embrace still intact. When my breathing placated and my hormones were in check I allowed myself to pull back
- 48 -

from her. I took her hand in mine tracing small lazy circles in the palm her hand with my finger, "Miss Isabella." I brought her hand up to my mouth, placing a kiss on her palm, "would you like to have lunch with me tomorrow?" I brought the back of her hand up to my cheek and nuzzled against it. Bella chuckled softly hers eyes meeting mine still shining with desire. She nodded once, her eyes traveling down to my mouth and back up to my eyes. She slowly licked her bottom lip watching me almost expectantly. I leaned my face into hers once more feeling her sigh into my lips for the last time that afternoon.

Who remembers their first kiss? How sweet was it? :) Anyone want to review today?

- 49 -

Chapter 7
Thank you for all the nice reviews! I hope you are enjoying the story so far. Get ready because the next few chapters are going to take us for a ride. :) Enjoy! Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight, I own all the football knowledge.

BPOV Jessica and her friend Ashley didn't know I was just about to come out of the girl's restroom stall when they walked in. My hand froze on the door latch; I heard Jessica's annoying laugh echoing around the restroom. "Hey did you hear about Edward Cullen?" Ashley was well known for spreading rumors and gossip all over school. "No, what about him?" The pitch in Jessica's voice suddenly went high. "Word is out that he has a girlfriend." The disappointed tone Ashley's voice made me smile to myself. Damn right he has a girlfriend! "No way! Who?" Jessica sounded annoyed now. "I don't know," I could almost picture Ashley and Jessica huddled together over the sink with worried faces. I fought back the urge to snicker. "I overheard Jasper talking to Ricky yesterday. He was saying something about Edward taking a huge risk in going out with this girl." I frowned. A huge risk? My head tilted in confusion, maybe they weren't talking about me after all? "Oh come on!" The exasperation in Jessica's voice rose over the sounds of the water running from the faucet. "I can take on anyone who tries to get in the way of me and my man!"
- 50 -

My fists clenched in anger as they laughed again, the door closing behind them. I walked out of the stall still seeing red. What in the hell were they talking about? Why would it be such a huge risk for Edward to date me? Unless of course, Edward was dating someone else? I lathered up my hands at the sink still lost in thought. The last few days had been heavenly, starting from the minute I walked into Calculus and ending when Edward and I would sit after football practice on the team bench laughing and talking to each other. My body tingled as I recalled the evenings spent on that bench. We would sit there together until the last hint of sunlight would fade away. I always looked forward to those final minutes when Edward would take me in his arms and kiss me goodbye. With each passing day our kisses grew more and more impassioned, even I was afraid of them sometimes. They would always start out soft, and full of sweet whispering strokes that would make my stomach do flip flops. Eventually those flip flops would turn into a deep burning desire that would encompass everything else; the heat would creep slowly over my body making each and every nerve cry out. I would always pull him closer to me, and it was never close enough. Edward's kisses were nothing like I had ever experienced before. It was almost like a magical dance, beautiful, soft, slowand then as our bodies became acquainted with one another, something inside me would change. I wouldn't be shy, awkward Bella anymore; I was bravebold, and it almost frightened me. It was just the way he would slowly move his lips over mine with the sweetest spine tingling feather-like brushes. His hands would slide leisurely over my shoulders, down my arms, and finally finding my waist, his fingers igniting hot trails over my skin. He would pull me close to him so that our bodies touched, grazing his hands lazily up and down my back, his mouth would open and his tongue would dart out to meet mine, I always had to fight back the whimper that would grow deep in my throat the instant out tongues met. It was almost torture when he would take my lower lip, and with the lightest of caresses he would nibble and suck, pulling gently. It was always that point that I would lose all sense of sanity, my mind would betray me and let my body take over. I would hungrily take his top lip between my own trying to recreate the same feelings for him, those same feelings that were engulfing me. My hands would snake up the back of his neck; I would let my nails lightly graze his golden skin until they found their way to his disheveled hair. The feel of his hair in my hand would only arouse me more and I without realizing it, I would sink my fingers deep into those messy locks, pulling him, closer to me. Edward would always let out a deep low groan
- 51 -

when I did that and it would excite me further, motivating me to push farther, kiss deeper, touch longer. I found myself longing for Edward to touch me in ways and places no one had ever touched me before. No one had ever explained to me how much someone's kiss or touch could make me feel. That burning in the pit of my stomach could only be sated one way, one way that I always thought I would save for marriage, or at least engagement, but those nights on the bench would always make me forget that. I could only imagine the frustration Edward must have been feeling as well. He never pressed me for more but I could see it in his eyes, that aching yearning, and feel it in his hands when they trembled as he stroked my face and hair. It was getting harder and harder to pull back and stop and I knew deep in my heart that I wanted him to be the first one, the only one; I would give my heart and body to. That afternoon when the football field had cleared and Edward and I were the only ones remaining, sitting on our bench, the stadium silent, the cool air swirling softly around us, we started talking about the future, the future that we had each created in our minds, for ourselves, years and years ago. "I want to play pro ball one day." Edward had confessed shyly, clearly embarrassed by his words. His eyes left mine and he looked over the field lost in his thought. "Not sure if I am good enough." He continued to stare out into the field. The low tones of his voice made me want to hold him in my arms and tell him that I thought he was way beyond good enough. "I think you definitely will play pro ball one day" I said with absolute conviction, "And I truly believed with all my heart, without a doubt, that one day you will be running out onto a stadium packed with thousands of people all there just to see you play." He smiled at me then, and grabbed my hand in his playing with my fingers as we watched the sun begin its decent beyond the clouds. He brought my hand up to his lips, "If I do play pro ball would you stand there, in the stadium, to watch me play?" there was that crooked smile again, and those dimples!
- 52 -

"Of course!" I nodded, "I wouldn't miss it for the world." My mind instantly conjured up the image of me standing on the sidelines amidst a sea of screaming people, watching Edward play. "Would you wear my jersey?" he asked sliding his arms around my waist pulling me closer to him. He slowly brushed his lips over mine in the softest of caresses. I nodded once and closed my eyes getting lost in the wondrous feeling of Edward's lips on mine. "As my wife?" he whispered against my mouth, his lips still brushing back and forth against mine. My breath hitched. Stunned, I opened my eyes blinking rapidly, had I heard right? Edward leaned his forehead to mine, his eyes wide open studying my own. Yes! My heart cried out as my eyes searched his in wonder. Not being able to find the words to say what I was feeling I reached up to him with a trembling hand and let my fingers slowly trace along his jaw line, that familiar burning sensation in my stomach escalating to new heights. I slid my hand behind his head pulling his face close to mine. Fiercely I drove my tongue into his mouth with a strangled cry; I poured my entire heart and all the love I felt for him into that kiss hoping he could feel what I was trying to say. Edward responded readily, he opened his mouth to mine and crushed me against him with an intensity that I had never felt before. Both of his hands cupped my face holding me against him desperately. I battled with his tongue pushing against him with as much force as I could; wanting him to know the effect he was having on me. He brought both hands down to my neck and collarbone stroking them intimately with his thumbs. It was just the way his hands felt on my skin, and his mouth on mine, I nearly lost it, and a low groan erupted from my throat. His palms opened against my collarbones, and slowly slid down over the front of my blouse. I let out a small gasp, his hands skimmed lightly over my breasts back and forth in the most excruciating way. This was nothing like I had ever felt before, in no way, shape, or form had anyone ever been this close to me. Edward continued kissing me, I could feel the warmth of his body next to mine, and when he finally closed his hands over my breasts squeezing them, he let out the lowest, sexiest moan I had ever heard.

- 53 -

EPOV I was acting like a starving man in front of a buffet table. Bella was kissing me in a way she had never kissed me before and it was sending me into oblivion. Her kiss was telling me everything I needed to know. She would be out there in the stadium to see me play; she would be wearing my jersey and yelling for me on the sidelines, she would be my wife. My hands continued to fondle her breasts through the outside of her blouse, squeezing, kneading, and rubbing as my mind lost all control over my actions. I wanted her. I had always wanted her, from the first minute I had set my eyes on her in this very football field; I knew she was the Reina for me. She was my queen. While I may have had a reputation for being a ladies' man in all honesty I had only slept with one girl before. It was not at all romantic. I had been out drinking with my former teammates at the old abandoned drive in. We were goofing off climbing on top of some old rusted cars all while throwing back shot after shot. Some of the cheerleaders had shown up and were quickly offered drinks. In no time everyone was buzzing. One of the girls, Tanya, drunkenly made her way over to me. She pulled me inside one of the old cars and plopped herself onto my lap. We ended up fucking that very night. That's simply what it was, fucking, no love, no passion, no connection, just two bodies using each other. I don't even remember how it felt, but I do remember it took me months to get rid of Tanya. I vowed never to drink again after that night. Now here I was, holding this exquisite creature in my arms. Touching her, feeling her soft firm breasts in my hands making me moan with desire. My heart feeling like it was going to burst any minute now. The painful bulge throbbing in my jeans only fueled my passion further as I plunged my tongue into her mouth over and over again. But then something made me stop, this girl was different. She wasn't Tanya or even remotely close to anything like that, this girl was specialand it was crystal clear in my mind as I pulled my hands away slowly letting them linger on her waist. I let my kisses cease faintly until I was simply brushing her lips with mine. I leaned my forehead to hers still breathing heavily. Slowly she opened her eyes. "Hi." I smiled softly. "Hi." She whispered. "I hope you're okay with" I gestured down at her breasts with my eyes, "I'm sorry, I should have asked first."
- 54 -

"No," Bella shook her head with conviction, "don't be sorry, I wanted you to do it" She continued to stare into my eyes and softly licked her lips. "Bella I" my voice trailed off. I was unsure how to go about telling her exactly how I felt about her. Bella stopped me. She placed her small delicate fingers over my lips. "Edward." She frowned slightly, her eyes holding a hint of fear, "do you have a girlfriend?" I pulled away from her instantly. Blinking at her I shook my head in disbelief. "What? No." "That's not why you stopped?" Bella's voice was so soft it was barely audible. "No, BellaI don't know where you got that from, but I do not have a girlfriend," I took her hand in mine trying to clear my head, "but I do want one." I let my gaze return to her eyes. "You do?" She smiled slightly. Absentmindedly, she tossed her hair out of her face with the sexiest swing ever. I watched those gorgeous black locks flow over her shoulder. Mesmerized, I swallowed hard. "Bella, would you be my girl? My Reina?" I asked her my hands trembling slightly. I had never asked anyone to be my girl before; I never wanted anyone to be my girl before. But that was before I had set eyes on Bella. She had possessed me in every way possible and I knew I could not go one more day without her. Bella's face broke into a sparkling smile, causing me to do the same; she bounced lightly in her seat. "Yes." She nodded. With a small giggle she brought her face close to my own and gently brushed her lips across mine. I began to pull her close to me, trying to deepen the kiss but she held me back and placed her palm on my chest. I immediately stopped. I didn't want her to think I was some damn hormonal idiot just trying to cop a feel.
- 55 -

"Edward, I have to tell you something. Iuh never done this before." She gestured down the front of her blouse with her eyes and back up at me apprehensively. "I'm not sure what I am supposed to be doing." I stared at her suddenly understanding the significance of her statement. Bella was telling me that I was the first one to touch her that way. I was the one she decided to give that gift to. Her nervous admission sent a fresh wave of desire wash over me, and I leaned my face closer to hers capturing her lips with mine. "Thank you." I whispered, holding her close to me. "I've never done this before either." And I hadn't, despite the fact I had fucked Tanya, I never actually touched her intimately. We hadn't even removed our clothing, I had my jeans unzipped and Tanya had hiked up her skirt and we went to town. We were done in less than 15 minutes. That entire drunken night with Tanya didn't even hold a candle to what I was feeling right now. We spent the last remaining minutes in complete silence watching the darkness take over the field. I knew the dynamics of our relationship were changing at that very moment, and I hoped with all my heart it would all work out like we wanted it to.

I know some of you are wondering about the tragedy that is suppose to happen. It will happen...later...keep reading. :)

- 56 -

Chapter 8
Thank you for being so patient, as your reward a little bit of shameless smut. :) Hope you enjoy it. I will be away all of next week on vacation so the next chapter may take a couple of weeks. Sorry about that. Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight, I own all the football knowledge.

EPOV "Cullen!" Whitlock poked his head around the corner of the boy's locker room gesturing at me with a wave of his hand. I looked up at him from tying my cleats, "What's up?" "Coach wants to talk to you in his office." My throat tightened uncomfortably at Whitlock's words. I nodded once looking back down quickly to the laces of my cleats. So far Bella and I had managed to go this long without Coach Swan finding out that I was dating his daughter. The guys, Jasper and Holden, had already cornered me weeks ago warning me of what happened to each and every guy that tried to date his daughter, it was not pretty. Apparently Bella did not have many suitors here at Forks High and those who did manage to get a date with her eventually faced the wrath of Crazy Mike Ditka. I finished lacing my cleats and slowly made my way over to Coach Swan's office. Taking a deep breath to steady my nerves I opened the door. Coach Swan was sitting in his large black leather office chair talking on the phone. His chair was turned away from the door; he was looking out one of the large windows all while talking animatedly. "No problem, thanks Larry. I call you back in a couple of days, looking forward to seeing you Friday." Coach spun around in his chair finally noticing me, he gestured at me to sit down.
- 57 -

My eyes swept over the chairs in the office and I deliberately picked the chair closest to the door. Who knew if I would have to make a run for it. "Cullen," Coach's deep voice sounded harsher than normal. I tried not to wince but noticed I had pressed my back as far into my chair as it would go, "I need to talk to you, man to man." Damn! This wasn't going to be good. "Yes sir." I tried not to sound like 13 year old girl but I was pretty sure I was going to lend up screaming and running out of the office in fear. "Cullen, what are your plans?" Coach narrowed his eyes at me, he picked up his letter opener that had been lying casually or carefully planned on his desk. I tried to swallow but my mouth was completely dry. I wondered briefly if death by a letter opener would be painful. "My plans sir?" I was just trying to bide myself some time. My hands were clutching the arm rests of my chair in a death grip. Someone would have to come and pry my hands off with a vise after I was dead. "Cullen," Coach pointed the letter opener directly at me. I nearly pissed in my pants at that moment. Coach knewhe knew and now I was toast. He would forbid me from dating his daughter or else I would never leave this office and my remains wouldn't be found until the spring. "Your plans" he continued, my eyes never wavered from the letter opener now waving wildly above Coach's head, "have you thought about playing ball in college?" "I swear we haven't done anything!" the words were out of my mouth in a desperate cry before my brain could register what he just said. Coach looked at me warily and sighed. He placed the letter opener back on his desk. "College Cullenwould. you. like. to. play. football. in. college?" His words were carefully punctuated with slight pauses as if he were talking to a 5 year old. I blinked, and nearly pissed my pants again. "College?" I whispered.
- 58 -

Coach sighed again and placed both his hands on his desk. "Yes College, my good friend Larry Johnson is a recruiter for Penn State, it seems his team has heard about you and is interested in watching you play Friday." Coach stood up from his desk his hands still resting on the surface he stressed his words carefully; "Penn State Cullen, one of the top ten football colleges in the U.S." It dawned on me then what Coach was talking about. My ears couldn't believe what they were hearing but my brain kept screaming Penn State, Bella, us, together. Coach had finally given up on me probably thinking I was a lost cause. "Cullen!" he snapped, "Look alert! I told Johnson you will start Friday and most likely play the whole game. It's the last game of the season. Don't disappoint me." My body jerked to attention and I jumped out of my chair. "Penn State sirthank you sir" I stuttered fumbling over my chair, my feet, the air. Coach was already ignoring me, "Finish suiting up and get your butt out on the field, we don't have a minute to waste!" he barked turning away from me. He didn't have to ask me twice, I was out that door so fast. I was on a virtual high running out onto the field that afternoon, my brain raced with all the possibilities my future might hold. What could be more perfect than playing football for Penn State with my girl, mi reina, by my side. That vision of Bella wearing my jersey cheering me on in the sidelines was this close to becoming a reality. I searched for her quickly my eyes grazing over the benches in one swift motion. She was standing at the far end of the benches looking across the field watching her father yell angrily at our kicker, one hand on her hip, the other shielding her eyes from the sun. She was a vision to behold and I felt my heart begin to beat faster, I couldn't wait to tell her a recruiter was going to come and watch me play. Most high school players could only fantasize about this happening to them; this was going to make all our dreams come true. She saw me then and broke into a wide smile. My heart skipped a beat at the sparkle I saw in her eyes, I wanted to run right to her, scoop her up in arms and swing her around and around. I wanted to watch her throw back her head and laugh with delight, I wanted to kiss her until we were both breathless, I wanted to make love to her.
- 59 -

BPOV My Dad was on another tirade, this time poor Jimmy Marshall our kicker, was the object of my Dad's angry words. I shook my head at him and made a mental note to try and talk to him later at home. Sometimes these episodes were totally unnecessary; I noticed the tirades often seemed their worst during this time of the year. Every December my Dad would sink into some sort of funk and take it out on his players, but I knew the real reason. It was December when my Mother Renee walked out on us. Two years ago, right before Christmas, my Dad and I didn't have a clue, she just got up in the middle of the night and left. For two weeks after that we were both out of our minds with worry thinking the worst had happened to her. Then one day a package was delivered to our door. It was for my father, I will never forget the look on his face when he opened it. Inside were divorce papers. Apparently my Mother was fine, living out in Florida, and wanted a divorce. I watched my friendly happy Dad scream and cry in rage. It was the first time I had ever seen him cry. Watching him fueled my anger and disgust I felt for my Mother at that second. The first year she tried to call me a couple of times but I refused to take her calls. I returned every single letter she sent to me unopened, and when a huge box was delivered on my birthday I marched right back to the Post Office and scribbled Return to Sender on it. Eventually the calls and letters and packages stopped coming, I guess she figured it out that I wanted nothing to do with her. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Edward emerge from behind the gate, he was running towards Jasper and Holden. There was something different about the way Edward ran out onto the football field, almost as if he were running on air. I watched him run, shielding my eyes from the sun. When his eyes caught mine I broke into a smile. There should be a law about how gorgeous one person could be. He hadn't put his helmet on yet so the sunlight was bouncing off that irresistible messy hair of his. Plus there is something about the way Edward looked in his uniform, those football pants showing off that perfect tush of his, the way his shoulder pads let his half jersey ride up on his hips. I could almost imagine feeling those rock hard abs underneath my fingertips. I watched the team practice for the next two hours. I noticed that my Dad seemed to be hovering over Edward more than usual. It finally became clear when Mike stalked off the field as soon as practice was over, flinging his helmet to the ground in anger. I guessed my Dad was going to let Edward start the last game of the
- 60 -

season. If anyone deserved to start, Edward did. He played with such a passion, nothing else mattered when he was on that field. His entire being was focused on that football and his teammates. The other guys noticed this, so whenever Edward was in control as quarterback the rest of the players would rise to the occasion. It was easy to see that Edward brought out the best in this team. Finally it was just the two of us, sitting side by side on our bench, watching the sun make its decent into the night sky. The minute we were alone Edward turned to me excitement flashing in his eyes. "I'm going to Penn State!" My eyebrows shot up in surprise, "Whawhat?" I shook my head. Edward quickly corrected himself, "No, wait, I might be going to Penn State." His voice sounded a bit more composed. Before I could open my mouth to answer he hurriedly went on, "There's a recruiter who is coming to see my play Friday. He is from Penn State, his name is Larry or something, Coach is letting me start and probably play the entire game. If he likes what he sees I might be accepted into Penn State to play ball!" A recruiter was coming to see my Edward play. I watched how his eyes grew brighter and brighter as he spoke. An immense swell of pride filled my soul, and I couldn't help but throw my arms around him. "Oh my God! Edward! That is just wonderful!" He hugged me back and I could feel the excitement vibrating throughout him. I pressed him against me tighter. Suddenly his hands were roaming everywhere and his lips captured mine fiercely. I opened my mouth to his kiss and moaned, those hands of his instantly igniting a fire that grabbed a hold of my body. Only Edward could do this to me, and I hummed against him, welcoming his tongue with my own. The palms of his hands rested on my breasts, he slowly brushed across them making small circles against my nipples, they stiffened instantly at his touch. I whimpered slightly shifting my body, giving his hands easier access.
- 61 -

He let out a low growl against my mouth. His hands slid down until they were at my waist, he fingered the waistband of my jeans with his thumbs. He began to pull at my blouse ugently until it became untucked from my jeans. He let out another groan when his fingers brushed against the skin of my bare stomach. I kissed him harder, driving my tongue into his mouth with as much force as I could. His fingers began their ascent up my body exploring every inch of skin along the way. My body trembled involuntarily at his touch. He paused upon reaching the underwire of my bra, with this thumbs he stroked the area underneath my bra hesitantly, tenderly, questionly. I continued the lascivious kiss my hand fisting in his hair. I tugged roughly, Edward hissed hotly into my mouth. He dipped his fingers below the underwire and suddenly I could feel his bare hands cupping my breasts. I gasped against him, and when his thumbs brushed over my nipples I gasped again. I kept waiting for my brain send me that flashing red light, stop, stop, at least slow down, but it never came. I wanted this, if felt right. Our bodies molded together perfectly. Edward's hands continued to embrace and caress my breasts, his lips never leaving mine. I moaned lightly wanting to make him feel what I was feeling. I let my free hand slide down his chest feeling the muscles rippling through the fabric of his t-shirt. I slid my hand below his t-shirt fingering every muscle in his stomach. I mimicked his earlier actions and let my fingers linger at the waistband of his jeans. A brief flicker of uncertainly flashed across my brain. What was the right way to do this again? I hesitated for a second, just a second, when Edward suddenly plunged his tongue into mouth and gripped my breasts tighter with a passionate moan. I lost it then, and while not quite having the nerve to go underneath his waistband I let my open palm cup his jeans pressing my hand against his erection. He hissed against me and pushed his hips into my hand. That was all the encouragement I needed. I rubbed my hand up and down, over and over, feeling him swell beneath me. Edward let out a small grunt and pushed his hips against my hand again. I rubbed harder suddenly aware of the power that my hand held, literally. The knowledge of realizing that I was inflicting all these grunts and hisses out of him fueled my need to do more. I let my hand stroke upward one last time and traveled back up to his waistband. Edward frowned slightly letting out a protesting hum against my lips at the loss of
- 62 -

my hand. Without hesitation I dipped my hand inside his jeans, inside his boxers until my fingers finally found what they were looking for.

EPOV Bella had me by my balls, and I do mean that literally. I groaned when the back of her fingertips brushed slightly over the length of my dick, I was so far gone at that moment. I shouldn't be letting her do this, I shouldn't be doing this! This wasn't the place to be doing this, mi reina, deserved better, but her kiss tasted so sweet, her breasts so soft against my hands, and when she flipped her hand around and wrapped those silky fingers around me any reservations I had at the moment vanished. I continued to kiss her in a lust filled daze. She just felt so damn good moaning and writhing against my lips and hands. I let my thumbs press into her nipples inflicting another gasp out of her throat. My hips bucked involuntarily into her hand at the sound, she conceded by giving my dick a full stroke pulling lightly causing my hands to quiver. With a low growl my hands pushed her down onto the bench so that she was lying across it. Slowly I lowered myself on top of her. I released her breast with my right hand so that I could support most of my weight with my palm placed against the bench. Bella continued to moan and gasp beneath me with one hand wrapped around my dick and the other pressed against my lower back pulling me closer to her. I broke away from her lips and began traveling down the side of her neck leaving a trail of small kisses tasting her sweet skin along the way. Her blouse and bra had ridden up over her breasts leaving them exposed and absolutely perfect. I lowered my head further my kisses navigating down her collarbone and further still until my lips reached the blossoming swell of her breast. I gazed up at her through hooded eyes mentally asking for permission before I went any further. Her eyes locked onto mine full of heavy desire letting me know that she was mine, that she trusted me with her heart and her body. It was that look, that and a soft breeze that flowed across the field swirling around us causing a few stray wisps of Bella's hair to fly across her face, that I was suddenly jolted back into reality.
- 63 -

Bella didn't deserve to be taken like this, here on a bench out in the open. She deserved better, far better. She deserved the world and it dawned on me that I wanted to give it to her. I wanted her first time, our first time, to be filled with love, passion, and privacy. I wanted to be able to fall asleep in each other's arms afterwards and wake up with her by my side curled up in my arms. I wanted to make love to her over and over again not worrying about getting caught. I wanted it to be perfect. With a newfound determination I pulled away from her, lifting myself back into sitting position. Carefully I pulled her blouse down covering her back up. Sighing, I ran my hands through my hair and then gently laid my hand on her wrist tapping it slightly. She let go of me immediately and brought herself up to sitting position also. Her eyes looked up at me in question. "Bella," my eyes desperately searched hers begging her to understand, "I don't want to do this here." She pressed her swollen pink lips together at my words but remained silent. "You deserve better." I took her hand in mine placing a kiss in her palm, "I want to give you better." Her eyes watered and she blinked twice. "I want it to be perfect," I pulled her towards me cradling her in a hug; "I don't want to have sex with you. I want to make love with you." She let out a small sob against my shoulder and then lifted her head up pressing her lips against my neck. I held her tightly against me rubbing my hands up and down her back in soft gentle strokes. "Thank you," She finally whispered, her lips still pressed to my neck, "Thank you for being so wonderful." I kissed the top of her head and gave her one last squeeze. "Come on, let's get you home." We both stood up, I watched her silently as she adjusted her clothing. When she was finished I took her hand in mine and led her over to the parking lot. I opened the door to my Volvo letting her slide inside. I walked around quickly to the driver's side and climbed in. I put the key in the
- 64 -

ignition and brought the car to life. I grabbed her hand giving her a warm smile. She smiled back at me, squeezing my hand. We drove off without another word, neither of us noticing the lone figure hidden in the shadows of the bleachers watching us.

- 65 -

Chapter 9
Thanks for all the reviews. Keep em coming. I am on a roll right now so the next chap should be up shortly. Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight, I own all the football knowledge. :)

EPOV "Edward." My father peered at me unhappily from across his desk. He called me into his study when I got home from practice. I hated meetings with my father in his study; they always consisted of us going round and round in circles over the same conversation and always left me feeling like shit afterwards. "Coach Swan called me this afternoon." I watched my father place his hands neatly on his desk, I would never be able to understand how those hands could save people's lives every day, offering people a new lease on life, yet those hands belonged to a man who would do everything in his power to hold me back. "He mentioned something about a recruiter coming to watch you play?" He raised his brows at me in question. I didn't answer, I hadn't told him about the recruiter for this very reason. My father sighed and shook his head at me. "Why didn't you tell me Edward?" I shrugged, "It doesn't matter." "Of course it matters; this is a great accomplishment for you. It will look great on your application to Stanford." He was doing it again and I had enough of it. "I'm not going to Stanford," I stared right into his eyes, "I'm going to Penn State if the recruiter accepts me."
- 66 -

My father narrowed his eyes at me,he unclasped his hands and gripped the edge of his desk, "And just how are you planning to pay for that?" I shrugged again, not really having an answer. "Edward," my father began again, "we've already been through thisyour mother and I have told you the only college we are willing to pay for is Stanford on the condition you enroll in the medical program. Any other college and you will have to pay your own way; we will not support a nonproductive career." The sting of my father's words left a lump in my throat the size of a baseball, I didn't answer, I had given up answering months ago. I remember the first time I actually argued with him proclaiming that a professional football career was not something I wanted to do based on a whim, I truly loved the game and I was good at it, I wanted to at least have a chance. But he would hear none of that and when he realized I wasn't going to budge he finally gave me the ultimatum, he would only pay for my college education if I went to Stanford University and majored in medicine, no other college or major would be considered. I was supposed to follow his footsteps and be the next Dr. Cullen, successful in every way possible, but of course, deeply unhappy. I rebelled at his demands that night, my brain desperately searching for ways around my Father's words. I fought with him bitterly until the tears threatened to spill over, I did want to go to college, but I did not want to be a doctor, that was my Father's dream, not mine. Over the last few months the idea of being recruited briefly flashed across my mind, and now here it was a reality, something no one, not even my Father, could take away from me. "May I be excused?" I spoke in a monotonous tone not wanting him to know how much his words hurt. "Edward" my Father's grew soft, "your Mother and I love you very much, we only want what's best for you" his words trailed off when I stood up. I simply nodded at him and began towards the door. "Edward" he spoke again, I hesitated at the doorway, my hand gripping the doorknob. "Is there a young lady in your life?" I froze; there was no way I wanted to let him know about Bella. I could only imagine how he would try and control that too.
- 67 -

"No sir." I didn't turn around to face him; he would be able to see the deceit in my eyes. I heard my Father sigh heavily, "If there is, your Mother and I would love to meet her." Without another word I pulled open the door and made my way down the hall avoiding the next ambush I knew was coming. There was only one thing keeping me going at that moment, Bella, and all my plans for my future, our future.

Coach Swan never pushed me as hard as he did during our last practice of the season. He spent every minute of our final four hour practice barking in my ear, making me feel worse than I already was. "Come on Cullen! What the hell was that throw all about?! Do you want to throw like a girl tomorrow night in front of Johnson?" he sneered at me. I gripped the football he tossed to me tightly, and attempted a 30 yard pass to Whitlock. The ball spun out of control and landed up about ten yards away from the target. "Damn Cullen! What the hell did I ever see in you!" I winced. The harsh tone of Coach's voice was breaking my concentration and I was feeling completely out of control. "Do a reverse play instead!" Coach flung his hat to the floor in anger, "Do it right this time!" Whitlock ran up to me tossing the ball in my direction with a look of concern on his face. In fact all the players had that same look, everyone except Newton. I attempted a reverse flea flicker play next which failed miserably, both Whitlock and I were out of sync leaving the ball to fly through the air and bounce down the field out of bounds. "When did this league turn into pee wee football? Where the fuck are my players?!" Coach bellowed. We all blanched at his words.
- 68 -

Coach turned to our assistant coach, his hands on his hips. "Gibson, take over, see if you can get these guy's noses out of their asses, and let me know when you do!" Coach Gibson quickly herded us into a huddle and began offering words of encouragement as Coach Swan stalked off the field. I had been avoiding Bella's eyes the entire practice mostly due to the sheer embarrassment I was feeling at being screamed at by her father, but I finally allowed myself to steal a glance in her direction once her Dad was off the field. Her face held a sympathetic worried look making her beautiful eyes haunted with anguish. She offered me a small apologetic smile as her eyes locked onto mine making me feel like a failure. I sighed and ran my fingers through my hair, at this rate I had might as well kiss Penn State goodbye.

BPOV I was feeling terrible for Edward during practice. My Dad was totally riding on him and I couldn't understand why he kept it up knowing that it was causing Edward to lose his concentration. With each passing minute I found myself getting angrier and angrier at my Dad. I nearly flung my clipboard at him when he told Edward he was throwing like a girl, and when he started swearing I knew he would have to leave the field soon to cool down. I could see Edward struggling to keep his composure but I knew my Dad's words stung. We didn't have our usual date on the bench that night. My Dad kept the players on the field for four hours so the sky was already dark when he finally let them go. I was disappointed of course, but told myself that it was better that way so Edward could get all the rest he needed for tomorrow's game. The sad look he gave me when he said goodbye tore at my heart and I wanted to fling my arms around him and tell him it would be okay, but my Dad was still looming over all the players barking orders at them to get a good night's sleep, and not eat anything heavy, so all we could do was say goodnight to each other. When we got home my Dad snatched up the mail that had been placed in our front door mail slot and pounded up the stairs to his room, slamming the door behind him. I left him alone and busied myself in the kitchen trying to throw together a quick dinner for the both of us at this late hour. Deciding on spaghetti, I grabbed a pot and filled it with water. While the spaghetti boiled I finished up a few worksheets that
- 69 -

needed to be turned in the next day. Finally, as I was pouring the sauce over the pasta my father made his reappearance at the foot of the stairs. His face still held a scowl and I quickly placed his plate down on the table. I turned to him in mock cheerfulness. "Dinner's ready." I smiled My Dad huffed and walked over to his chair. Before sitting down he threw a small stack of mail in my direction, "That came for you." I glanced down at the magazines and envelopes, my eyes catching Alice's handwriting on one of them. "Thanks." I scooped up my mail and placed it on the empty chair next to me. We both began eating in silence. Finally after a few minutes my Dad picked up his glass and took a long drink of the ice tea I had poured him. "Bella, my friend Larry Johnson will in town this weekend. He invited me to go fishing with him and a couple of other friends on his new boat docked down at the lake, I told him I would go." He took another drink of his tea. I looked up and nodded, my Dad hardly ever did anything fun with his friends so I knew this would really do him some good. Last year he had come home from his fishing trip refreshed and full of good spirits making him much easier to get along with. He picked up his fork, "I called Mrs. Cartwright to come down and stay with you overnight." I nearly choked on my spaghetti. "What?" I stuttered. I think the last time I saw Mrs. Cartwright was when I was fourteen. My Dad gave me a half shrug, "I can't let you stay here alone. You're my little girl; I won't be able to check on you since there isn't any phone signal in the middle of the lake. " I stared at him in disbelief, blinking at his sudden onset of parental concern.
- 70 -

"Dad, I'm not a baby, I can stay home by myself." I shook my head at him. "I just don't feel good leaving you for two nights Bella." My Dad wiped his chin with his napkin, looking at me with sad eyes. "I'll be fine," I assured him, "I have all these magazines to read and my lit essay is due Monday so I need to finish over the weekend." I could see he still wasn't convinced, I kept up my chattering before he got that no way in hell look on his face, "Look, maybe Alice will make it down this weekend," I shuffled through my mail sitting on the chair next to me grabbing an envelope, "she wrote to me, maybe she is coming home." My Dad sighed and pushed his plate away from him, he looked up at me with the saddest expression I had seen in a long time. "Bella." He closed his eyes for a couple of seconds his hands rubbing his temples; the air around us was thick with tension. "I know" he opened his eyes, his features dead serious, "I know you are a responsible young lady. I know you are old enough to stay here alone, I trust you, will you at least check in with Mrs. Cartwright in the evenings?" I nodded once and watched him push his chair back from the table; he looked down at me once more his eyes still held a troubled look. "Thanks for dinner; I think I turn in early." "You're welcome." I stood and began clearing the table, "Good Night Dad."

I knew Edward was nervous the next morning when I walked into Calculus. He also looked tired, so so tired. "Hi." I slid into the desk next to him. He gave me a weak grin and reached over and squeezed my hand. "Hey."

- 71 -

"Are you okay?" my eyes searched his face, something was off and I didn't know what. "I'm okay, just tired, and nervous." He half laughed but I could tell his heart wasn't in it. I pulled out my book and passed my homework forward all while watching Edward out of the corner of my eye. I knew better than to press him to talk to me right now, he gazed absentmindedly out the window while Mr. Banner began his morning lecture. My mind spun, ignoring Mr. Banner's words, I could only focus on Edward's dejected appearance, did my Dad's words last night affect him that much? Desperate to make him feel better I reached below our desks and placed my hand on his knee. He jerked his head away from the window and turned to me; I offered him a shy smile and squeezed his knee letting him know that he was never far from my heart. He placed his free hand over my own and squeezed back, there it was, just a hint of a sparkle in those chocolate brown eyes of his sending a tingling jolt up my spine. My actions seemed to shake him out of his funk and by lunchtime he was almost back to his normal self as we sat in his Volvo munching on apples and sharing a bag of chips. "Bella," Edward's irresistible voice lured me to attention. "Thank you," he smiled affectionately at me, "thank you for being there for me this morning." I watched those dimples return to his face for the first time all day; my heart floundered in my chest. I held back the urge to grab him in a passionate kiss. Instead I smiled back warmly and grabbed his hand. I intertwined our fingers bringing his hand onto my lap. "I'll always be here for you." I whispered tilting my head to the side. My hair fell over my shoulder at my movements partially covering my cheek as I spoke. With his free hand Edward reached out and pushed my hair behind my ear, he let his hand open up behind my head and slowly he guided me towards him. When his face was less than an inch away from mine he stopped, his eyes watching mine hungrily. How I wanted to kiss those lips, to pull myself into him and kiss him. I leaned into his body closing the distance between us. He let his bottom lip brush across my own in the most alluring way.
- 72 -

"Reina." He whispered before his mouth closed over mine. There was so much feeling between us at that moment, Edward wasn't just kissing me with his mouth, he was kissing me with his entire soul. His kisses traveled everywhere over my cheeks, my eyes, my neck. He made his way back to my mouth; ever so softly he took my lower lip between his teeth biting down gently. I quivered from his touch, a low moan escaping my throat.

EPOV I never knew I could feel this way about someone before. Bella's moans were intoxicating; my hand clutched the back of her head against me unwilling to let her go. I needed her, in the worst way. I didn't want to lose her, lose this ever. I continued to brush my lips against hers kissing her softly until we heard the bell ring. I let her go reluctantly, pulling my head away from hers. "You can't be late." I whispered. She mewled softy in my arms and placed a final kiss on my cheek before breaking away from me. She smiled, her black eyes sparkling as the sunlight danced over them. I watched her grab her bag from the backseat and sling it over her shoulder. She blew a final kiss at me and headed across the campus toward her class. Grabbing my own backpack I headed in the opposite direction finally feeling in better spirits than I had been in the last 12 hours. I rounded the corner and up the stairs, trying to get my mind psyched for the game. "What do you think Coach is going to do to you when he finds out you're screwing his daughter?" I knew it was Newton; I could spot that nasal drone of his instantly. I debated on ignoring him but feared that the students around us would pick up on his words. "Fuck off Newton." I tried to brush him off. "What's the matter Cullen? You sound pissed, does that mean you haven't gotten into her pants yet?" Newton's laugh echoed down the hall. I pivoted around to face him, I wanted to rip that smug expression off his face and shove it down his throat.
- 73 -

"Coach is going to find out you know," Newton drawled on, narrowing his eyes at me, "it's all over school about you and Bella. What do you see in that B anyways?" The red haze that surrounded my brain exploded at Newton's words and without even realizing it my backpack was on the floor and I had Newton shoved up against the hallway wall. "Shut the fuck up," I hissed using every ounce of self control I could find. I knew what Newton was trying to do. He wanted me to punch him, it would get me suspended. The recruiter would have no one to watch play but him, "You don't know shit!" I pushed away from him hard making his head slam into the concrete wall. Without another word I grabbed my backpack from the floor and stomped away still seething. The foul mood that I had been in all day returned with a vengeance making my body hurt and my head heavy. It was still there when I ran out onto the field that afternoon. I tried to channel it into determination as I started calling the plays in the huddle. Coach Swan continued to shout and glare at me the entire first quarter, I ignored it as much as I could. I kept reminding myslef that my entire future was riding on my plays, Holden was totally protecting my ass on the field, giving me all the time I needed to throw the ball, and Whitlock was a lightning bolt zigzagging all over the far end, opening himself up as much as possible so my throws could reach him easily. Both guys had my back, I owed them big-time. After I had thrown my fourth touchdown I knew I was in my element and the atmosphere around us relaxed. We were ahead 28-7, I continued to play hard and encouraged my teammates to do the same. The crowd vibrated with a thunderous roar as I threw a 60 yard touchdown to Whitlock in the final seconds of the game. The burden I had carried all day finally lifted from my shoulders, Holden and Whitlock were whooping and slapping my back, Coach was finally smiling standing next to who I hoped was Johnson the recruiter. He gestured me over to them with a wave of his hand. I slipped my helmet off and jogged over to them. "Cullen, this is Larry Johnson." I immediately offered my hand in greeting, "Honor to meet you sir." Johnson was a big man, at least 6'5" and strong too, when he shook my hand I could feel my circulation being cut off from his grip.
- 74 -

"Edward Cullenvery impressive out on that field young man." His hearty voice matched his size and I felt more at ease upon hearing his praise. "Thank you sir." I couldn't help but grin. "Penn State will be getting in touch with you soon." He replied with a nod of his head which I could tell was a dismissal, Coach noticed it too. "Hit the locker room Cullen, I'll be there shortly." I jogged across the field my eyes searching silently for Bella; she was standing alone smiling at me, radiating happiness, three fingers pressed against her lips. I winked at her as I ran past heading for the locker room. She laughed, clapping her hands together and giving me a thumbs up sign. My heart soared as I flew into the locker room on a high. "Way to go Cullen!" "Great Game Cullen!" The guys were all slapping me on my ass congratulating me. "Party tonight! My house Cullen!" Whitlock threw me a towel and winked, "Bring your girl." I grinned at him, catching the towel with one hand. "Whitlock has the best fuckin parties, my friend," Holden pulled his jersey up over his head and started fiddling with his shoulder pads, "no coach, no parents" I raised my eyebrows and grinned even more. "Lots of hot chicks, booze, and food" Holden suddenly chuckled at his own words, "well just booze and food for you my friend, you already have a hot chick." I laughed feeling surrounded by friends for the first time since I started Forks High. "We'll be there."

- 75 -

Yes, that's right...time to party! :)

- 76 -

Chapter 10
Whew! This chapter was harder than I thought. Please check out my profile for the link to the video of Alica Keys song "No One." It just seemed so fitting for these two. If you ever want to smell like Bella, Amazon sells Pink Sugar. Enjoy!

EPOV My jaw nearly hit the floor when I saw Bella step outside of her house. I'd gone to pick her up for the party, I was nervous as all hell thinking this was finally it, I was going to let coach Swan know I was dating his daughter, but Bella came out before I could make it up the steps to her door. With a wave of her hand she informed me that her Dad had gone fishing with some friends so he wasn't home. I hardly heard her; she was wearing a short cornflower floaty blue skirt that made her legs look amazing. She paired it with an ivory cropped sweater that had these tiny button going down the front, I instantly imagined myself making my way towards her slowly unbuttoning each tiny button revealing the prize underneath, my fingers twitched at my sides and I shifted slightly uncomfortable. Trying to shake the fantasy, I whistled softly raising my eyebrows in appreciation; she flushed and wrapped her arms around her own waist. "Courtesy of Alice." She shook her head with a half smirk, "Alice likes to buy things in my size, send them to me claim they were too big for her she can't return themblah blah blah" I chuckled lightly, "Alice has good taste." Bella spun around laughing, modeling her look, her hair flying over her shoulders. I felt my pulse quicken watching her curls bounce around her face. Oblivious to my sudden swell of desire, she stepped towards me and stood on her tiptoes giving me a kiss on my cheek. When I caught a whiff of her perfume the flowers and candy sent my hormones into overdrive. I groaned inwardly at my lack of restraint. I caught the back of her arm as she was turning to the passenger's side of the Volvo and pulled her back into my arms. She raised her eyebrows at me and
- 77 -

giggled, the soft tinkling sounds of her voice sent a jolt right to my groin. I kissed her hungrily, passionately, letting myself lose control for just a minute. My hand ran down her back as she kissed me back, opening her mouth to mine with a low moan of her own. I allowed my hand to travel down further until it landed on the curve of her bottom. I squeezed roughly pulling her upward against my erection. "Edward," she gasped into my mouth, "the party?" "Hmmm?" I murmured pretending not to hear, I didn't want to let her go. I squeezed her again loving the way she fit perfectly into my hand. She smiled against me and wrapped one hand around the back of my head. Pulling me hard against her lips, she pushed her tongue into my mouth sliding it over my own. She thrust her tongue into me two or three time until I swore I was seeing stars, before I could squeeze her against me once more she suddenly broke away and slapped me on my ass playfully. "Edward Cullen," she mock scolded me placing her hands on her hips, "you behave right this instant!" I smiled wickedly at her and reached for her again, she laughed and ducked out of my reach skipping over to the passenger's door and quickly opening it. Laughing along, I followed behind her and slid my hands around her waist, her back pressing against my chest. I nuzzled the back of her neck feeling the silkiness of her hair on my cheek. "The party?" she whispered. I nodded against her, "let's go to the party." Whitlock's house was packed full when Bella and I walked in through the front door. I took her hand as we made our way through the sea of chattering bodies. It was impossible to hear anything other than the booming music that played over the stereo system. My eyes swept over the room seeing both familiar and unfamiliar faces as I looked for Whitlock. "Cullen!" Holden was standing in front of me yelling, thrusting a bottle of beer into my hands, "Good to see you man!" He smiled warmly at Bella who was looking a little shell shocked at the crowd and noise around her, "Bella."
- 78 -

She gave him a shy smile and squeezed my hand nervously at the same time. "Where's Whitlock?" I shouted trying to make my voice heard over the noise, shaking my head at the bottle, and pushing it back into his hands. "He's upstairs in his room, on the phone." Holden half hollered half gestured raising his eyes up the staircase. He looked down at the bottle I had put back in his hands, "anything for the lady?" he gestured at Bella. She shook her head declining immediately. "Not thirsty yet?" he shrugged his shoulders at us with a half smile. "I don't drink man." I shook my head, a brief vision of my drunken night with Tanya flashed across my mind, I never wanted to relive that. "Cool." Holden held up the bottle gesturing in a "cheers" style with it, he took a large swing from it; he turned to Bella, "Whitlock is talking to your friend Alice." "Alice?" "He's been calling her every night." Holden rolled his eyes, "He's really into her." Bella smiled, clearly amused at Holden's confession. From across the room I spotted Newton pushing his way through the crowd towards us an empty beer bottle in his hand. I could feel the anger rising at the sight of his cocky grin plastered across his face. "Cullen" he drawled drunkenly, glaring at me, he turned quickly to Bella his eyes sweeping over her body appreciatively, "well well well, looks like Coach let the Golden Boy date his daughter after all." I stiffened at his comments as Bella frowned at him in confusion. I took a step forward shielding Bella from his view, I didn't like the way he was looking at her, I stared down my nose at him daring him with my eyes to continue to act like an ass. He rolled his eyes at me and turned towards Holden. "We need more beer out back." He slurred. Holden shot me a knowing glance and grabbed Newton by the arm. He steered him through the crowd and out to the backyard.
- 79 -

BPOV The whole macho thing that just passed between Mike and Edward was not only confusing but annoying as well. I tugged on Edward's hand pulling him away from the retreating figures of Ricky and Mike. I could see out of the corner of my eye Jessica plopped on our placekicker's lap laughing hysterically as Jimmy threw down a shot and licked up the salt that was strategically placed on her neck. I couldn't understand why everyone thought Jasper's parties were the best thing ever? The noise was overwhelming I couldn't even hear myself think, much less hear anyone else. There was nothing fun about watching a bunch of drunken teenagers fall all over themselves. I felt ridiculous and completely out of place. I let Edward lead me out pass the throng of people out to the front patio. We settled ourselves into a pretty floral swing tucked away in the corner. There were only a few other couples out there lost in their own worlds so nobody really noticed us. Edward and I chatted quietly for a while about mundane things, calculus, homework, and the beautiful night weather. As the evening passed I noticed that the other couples had disappeared leaving just Edward and I out on the porch looking up at the stars. The deafening sounds of the music suddenly quieted down and the first few strains of Alicia Keys' No One floated through the air. "Oh, I love this song." I admitted still starring up at the sky. The stars were sparkling in full force this evening or maybe it was just the fact that I was sitting here with Edward snuggled in his arms feeling this was the most perfect moment ever. I was wrong. The cool air floated around us rustling the last of the leaves that were left on the trees. The moon was full and bright casting pretty shimmers of light onto the ground. Edward smiled and turned to me. "Come on." He stood up from the swing taking both of my hands in his helping me up. He led me down the porch steps and onto the grass. Pulling me into his arms, he nestled his head in the crook of my neck. We didn't move, just stood there, holding each other listening to the stunning voice of Alicia Keys. We couldn't have picked a more perfect song to stand there in the dark under the stars while the madhouse of a party went on in full blast behind us. The feel of Edward's entire length pressed against mine began to ignite that slow
- 80 -

burning flame inside me. I slid my hand across his shoulder to the back of his neck and pulled him closer. He hummed softly into my neck casting small goose bumps along my skin. I felt him turn his head and place tiny kisses along my collarbone. "You smell so good." He whispered sliding his hand behind my head and stroking my hair, "you feel so good." I could feel his arousal straining between us, he shifted slightly, stroking my arm and placing his free hand on my lower back. He raised his head somewhat and placed a small kiss on my ear. "Reina." He breathed, and suddenly I knew, I knew that I was in love with Edward, I had always been in love with him, and I would always be in love with him. Slowly I pulled my head back from him looking deep into his eyes; I wanted to tell him what I was feeling, what he was making me feel. I wanted to be with him forever, and I wanted forever to start tonight. His eyes searched mine in the most intense way. Although I knew it was only seconds, it felt like hours that we stood there staring at each other, all the unspoken love we felt passing through us. "Home." I whispered not breaking my gaze. I didn't need to say anything else, he knew what I was asking, he knew the step we were about to take. As the last strains of the song finished, he led me off the grass, past the driveway, to the sidewalk where he had parked his car. He opened the passenger door for me and I slid in. We made the five minute drive in complete silence. He pulled into my driveway and turned off the headlights. Taking the keys out of the ignition he turned and looked at me, the expression on his face a mixture of fear and desire. "Bella," he said quietly, "are you sure?" "Yes." I had never been so sure about anything in my entire life. Edward looked up towards my front door and back at me, "your Dad?" "Is fishing," I shifted in my seat turning to him, "he won't be back until Sunday night." He nodded, the keys clinked together softly in his trembling hand, I closed my hand over his. "Edward?" I leaned closer to him.
- 81 -

"Hmm?" his voice shook slightly. "Come inside."

EPOV Bella sounded so sure of herself, and here I was feeling like a confused son of a bitch. There were so many things I wanted to talk to her about. I wanted to tell her that every time I heard the sound of her voice my heart would skip a beat, and that her eyes sparkled like diamonds even in the moonlight, or that no one (as the song Bella and I danced to at the party) could get in the way of what I felt for her. I wanted to tell her that I was in love with her but I couldn't find my voice, instead I let her lead me inside her house, up the stairs and over to her bedroom. When I stepped inside her room I could see all the things I loved so much about her. Along the far wall was a large bookshelf completely filled with books, on her desk she had her calculus book open next to her notebook, her pencil and calculator lying neatly by its side. The black hoodie she wore to every single football practice hung on a hook next to her door. Taking me by my hand she led me in front of her vanity, my eyes passed over the large hairbrush, a small wooden jewelry box, and a single bottle of perfume. "Candy and flowers." I didn't realize I had said that out loud until she paused midstep and turned to smile at me. "Candy?" "And flowers," I finished reaching for the perfume bottle, "you always smell so good." A smile spread across her face as she watched me inspect the bottle. "Pink Sugar?" I turned the bottle around in my hands. "Alice bought that for me for my birthday." I placed it back on her vanity watching her reflection in the mirror. Her eyes locked onto mine, my breath caught in my throat, there was no denying the feelings coursing through me. I finally let down the last of the barriers that had been keeping
- 82 -

me in check all this time. I moved away from the vanity and closed the distance between in us in a few short steps. "Bella I" I was trying to say the words, my hand stroked down her cheek, my thumb lingering on her lips, "I" I felt my voice cracking as I slid my other hand around her waist pulling her close to me. "I know" her lips captured mine as she kissed me softly, "I know" she said again. I felt her body pressing into mine, one of her hands wrapped around my neck, the other pressed against my chest. With a low moan I held on to her tighter letting my mouth close over hers. She tasted so sweet her tongue circling mine. Her body relaxed in my arms and together we lowered ourselves into sitting position on her bed. I pulled her close to me, my hands sliding down her to her hips, past her skirt and landing on her thigh. She moaned lightly her hands brushing against my cheek. Her skin felt like silk beneath my fingertips. I hooked my hand underneath her knee and brought her leg up so that it was resting on top of mine. My mind was racing a million miles a minute as my hands explored the soft flesh of her thigh, the urge to roll her onto her back and lower myself on top of her was overwhelming and I had to keep reminding myself to slow down. My hand roamed over and then under her thigh where it brushed against the edge of the soft material of her panties. I let my fingers pass over the material a few times resisting the urge to rip them away from her body. My dick strained against my jeans throbbing with desire. Bella's soft moaning sounds broke through my thoughts, my fingers found the tiny buttons on her sweater my hands trembling slightly as I unclasped them one by one. Bella leaned back from me, she let me slide her sweater off her shoulders, looking up at me with her dark wide eyes. She was wearing a white bra with a tiny satin bow in the center; her breasts rose and fell with her breathing, her mouth was slightly open, and her eyes were watching me carefully. I felt my own breath escape me when her hands rose behind her back, unclasped her bra, pulling the straps off her shoulders and letting it fall to the floor. Rising from the bed, her thumbs slid behind the elastic waistband of her skirt and she slowly lowered it passed her hips and finally stepping out of it. Her white cotton panties sported the same single white satin bow in the center, I drew in a shaky breath, Bella was a sight to behold and I felt a hazy lust filled cloud fill my brain.
- 83 -

She stood there in front of me letting my eyes wash over her body, I reached out for her, and she took a step forward, letting my hands rest on her hips I placed a small kiss on her stomach just above her panties. Her hands tangled themselves in my hair as she pressed my head to her skin. I raised my head, my mouth placing small kisses up her stomach and then finally closed around her breasts. "Edward" she whispered half gasping arching her back. My heart was pounding wildly, still sitting on her bed, my own hands found the end of my shirt and I yanked it over my head in one swift motion looking up at her. I watched her gaze travel down my chest and stomach. With a tentative hand she reached out and touched the center of my chest with her fingertips sliding her fingers downward until they met the waist band of my jeans. Her touch sent a fresh jolt of desire course through me, with a low growl I rose. My fingers fumbled a bit, fighting with the button on my jeans, I willed my hands to be steady, and finally I had the jeans off, kicking my legs free of them, I pulled her close to me again. Her bare skin made contact with mine throwing my brain into overdrive. Lowering my head to hers in another lust filled kiss, I allowed my hands roam freely over her body. Her skin was warm and moist. My hands cupped her bottom squeezing gently, she whimpered into my lips, pressing herself against me harder. My hand slid around her hip until it reached her entrance, even through her panties I could feel she was wet. Her breath hitched as my fingers stroked her gently, her body writhed against me. Her hand closed around the back of my head, holding my mouth in place with hers. I slipped my hand underneath her panties, cupping her, feeling the heat of my girl, mi reina, in my hand. I groaned as she gasped at my touch, I was spellbound, her skin hot beneath my fingertips. Carefully I slid one finger across the passage of her entrance. She was slick, ready for me; her tongue plunged into my mouth with a desperate cry as I fingered her. I allowed one, two fingers to enter her, her walls closed around me urging me in further. I pumped my fingers in and out of her gently. Suddenly I felt her hand reach down, before my brain could register what was happening, her hand was underneath my boxers wrapped around my dick. She pumped me twice and I instinctively pushed my hips against her a low growl erupting from my throat. She continued to stroke me, my own breath coming in short sharp grunts. With my free hand I grasped the elastic of her panties and slid them down past her knees. Mimicking my actions she did the same to my boxers. I growled again,
- 84 -

pulling my head back away from her. At the loss of my lips Bella began kissing my neck with a small whimper. I allowed myself to look down between us, what I saw was my undoing; my fingers were still inside her pumping into her soft folds, her hand still wrapped around my dick stroking me. I curled my finger against her instinctively, her back arched and she moaned. I knew I couldn't wait any longer. My hands left her body only for a second, she gasped at the loss of my fingers, and I scooped her up urgently and laid her down on the bed. Her face full of desire and her curls spilling onto the pillow beneath her nearly sent me into oblivion. I lowered myself on top of her feeling her moist warm skin underneath mine. My erection was at her entrance, she shifted her hips with a small gasp when she felt the tip of me against her. Slowly, with all the control I could muster, I pushed forward watching her face carefully. One inch, then two, her eyes grew wide and her mouth opened, "Edward." Her back arched, I slid back out carefully, "Ed..Edward," she gasped when I pushed in again. "Amor" I whispered staring into her eyes straining against the urge to enter her in one hard thrust, "Te Amo." I slid into her again, "Te Amo." And then I was completely inside of her, her eyes fluttered closed for a second her breath catching in her throat at the small shot of pain I could see passing through her body. I stopped moving, remaining completely still, it nearly killed me knowing I was causing her pain, I leaned down slowly kissing her lips, eyes, cheeks, necktrying to take the pain away. Her eyes opened slowly searching mine; she slid her hand down my shoulder and back, her nails scraping against my skin. Together we moved until our moans grew more urgent, our actions more frantic. I knew I wasn't going to last much longer, desperately I grabbed her free hand, entwining my fingers with her own. She never stopped looking at me and I never tore my eyes away from hers, not even when she let out a small cry and I felt her walls convulsing around me, or when I cried out her name as I spilled into her. We laid there for the longest time afterwards; I had rolled us onto our sides, still joined together. My hand lazily stroking her back in small caresses, her face was nestled against my chest. Her breathing eventually slowed to even steady breaths, I looked down at her sleeping face, her curls spilling across her shoulder ending around my stomach. "Te Amo," I whispered one last time, stroking her hair, "I love you." I closed my eyes allowing sleep to fall over me, still holding Bella in my arms.
- 85 -

Please please please press that little green button and review!I would love to know what you think!

- 86 -

Chapter 11
I wish I could give you all a great big hug for all the wonderful reviews! Here's a virtual hug for you! (((HUG))) You all made my day! Things are going to turn now so make sure you fasten your seat belts! Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight. I own all the football knowledge. :)

The waves made small lapping sounds as they splashed up against the boat. Silver light from the first break of dawn cast large shadows across the bow. The men sat on oversized captain chairs surrounded by fishing gear. Charlie sighed heavily as he watched the seagulls soar through the salty air. He turned to face his closest friends his eyes tinged with sadness. These men had been through the best and worst times of his life, from the day he set foot in college with them, to the day his wife walked out on him, and he needed them again, now, more than ever. "I'm going to need your help," his hand running across his forehead, the strain apparent in the gruffness of his voice, "from both of you" Both men nodded, their eyes searching their friend's face with concern, the three of them had made a pact back in their college days to always stand by each other, and they were not about to back out on that now

BPOV Waking up in Edward's arms was the most heavenly experience I had ever felt. I stayed completely still; my head was nestled against his chest, listening to his heartbeat as he slept. His arms were still wrapped around my waist, our legs tangled together beneath the sheets. I spread my fingers out across his stomach watching it rise and fall with his breathing, memories of the night before splashed across my mind. Edward unbuttoning my sweater, pushing it off my shouldershis hands on my hips as he kissed my stomach, my breastshis fingers inside of mehim inside of me
- 87 -

Remembering how my body responded to his touch made my skin began to tingle and I had to mentally fight with myself to keep from pressing my body against his as he slept. Edward shifted in his sleep just then, turning his head so that his chin pressed against my forehead. His arms tightened around me instinctively, "Reina" he muttered, I could feel his fingers twitch, "Bella" sighing softly he continued to sleep. I couldn't resist the smile that spread across my face as I nuzzled against him. Even in his sleep he still thought of me. Yet I couldn't hold back that nagging thoughts that lingered in the dark corners of my mind. We had crossed a point of no return; there was no going back now. While I did not regret my decision for one second, it comforted me knowing that I had waited until I was absolutely sure, with no doubts in my heart, that this was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I lay silently, still deep in thought, as small streams of sunlight flickered through the curtains of my room eventually filling every nook and cranny with light. If Edward was accepted to Penn State, and I had no doubt that he would be, how was it going to affect my plans? I hadn't even told him what I was planning on becoming, what I wanted to do with my life. My biggest fear was that he would have a hard time accepting me in a position that was usually reserved for men. The feel of Edwards lips against my forehead broke into my thoughts, I lifted my head up to his slightly. His hand left my waist and slid down my thigh and leg squeezing gently. He didn't say a word, and when I looked up into his chocolate brown eyes I could only see one thing; pure, hot, fervent desire He rolled me onto my back in one swift motion; raising his body above mine, his arms on either side of my head. He stared down at me with smoldering eyes. My heartbeat began to race as small shivers ran up my spine, my body trembled slightly in anticipation of what was about to happen. He brought his head down capturing my lips in a fiery kiss sliding his body up and down my own. I responded readily drawing my arms up around his neck and pulling him down closer to me. His tongue thrust into my mouth and I could feel the tip of his erection strategically placed against me. I pushed my hips up towards his letting him slide between my thighs. He groaned
- 88 -

loudly at the sensation of slipping between my legs. I ran one hand down his back, my nails scraping against him lightly. My fingers rested on his lower back and I pressed down with my palm urging him to enter me, I thrust my hips up again. "Bella" he groaned his lips still attached to mine. "Edwardplease" I whispered, forcing myself upward once more. I didn't have to ask him again, in one uncontrollable thrust he was inside me, the veins pulsing in his forehead as he squeezed his eyes shut. The feeling was indescribable; I felt complete, whole. I dug my nails deeper into his back as he began slow pulsating thrusts; tiny grunts erupted from his throat. My back arched away from the mattress, my breathing rapidly increasing with every push of Edward's body. His hands clutched the sheets tightly near my head and he buried his head in my neck, his back muscles flexed furiously beneath my fingertips. He moved faster now, the burning sensation that began in the core of my stomach traveled throughout my body, every nerve on fire. I kept flexing my body in rhythm with his, trying to meet his every plunge. My mouth opened in a silent gasp and I thrashed my head from side to side as I reached the peak of my climax. "Edward!" I finally cried out, feeling my walls tremble around him. His movements suddenly became frantic as he rocked his body with mine. Suddenly with a passionate cry he came inside of me, still gripping the sheets in his fists. I held him tightly, quietly, waiting for his breathing to slow, my hands rubbing his shoulders gently. After a few seconds he shifted his weight, pulling us both to our sides, his hand pressed against my lower back.

EPOV I don't know what the hell just happened. One minute I was asleep, the next I was wide awake with a raging hard on feeling Bella's entire body next to mine. Her hand was spread across my stomach, and I could feel her long smooth legs tangled up with mine. Her head was angled right under my chin, I was surrounded by her scent,
- 89 -

the urge to be lost inside of her was so overwhelming it consumed any amount of control I may have had. I simply pushed her onto her back and rose above her, angling my body perfectly to hers. The need to feel her, all of her, was so staggering it left me insatiable, thirsting for her in every way possible. My girl, mi reina, was ready for me. She tormented me with every thrust of her hips, letting my dick slide between her thighs. I longed for the warmth I knew I would find being inside her. I could hear the blood rushing in my ears; her name escaped my lips without me realizing it. "Bella" I groaned desperately into her mouth. Exerting every ounce of restraint I could manage, when she moved again, my dick twitching as I felt it slip and slide across her entrance. Then when she pleaded with me to enter her, her voice full of yearning and need, I surrendered myself to her. Pushing forward and entering her in one glorious, mind blowing advance. I could hear her breath hitch as I shut my eyes letting my body revel in the majestic feeling of being completely enveloped by her body. Once I regained my control I moved within her, the slowest sensualist thrusts I could muster. Bella moaned and squirmed beneath me, moving her body with my own. She began meeting my movements, matching my, taunting me, sending me to that pivotal point of no return. I began to move faster. My balls tightened, I buried my head in her neck clutching the bed sheets, knowing I couldn't last much longer. Then I felt it, her walls contracting around me, pulling me in deeper. My name tumbling from her lips as she arched her back in the sexiest way, her breasts pushing into my chest. Beside myself with lust I pounded my body against hers until I came inside her with a strangled cry. She held me tightly, lovingly, the entire time it took for me to calm down, her fingertips running soothingly across my back. Finally as my breathing precipitated and my mind clear once again, I rolled us onto our sides, still holding her close to me. Her eyes searched mine adoringly and she brought her hand up and stroked my cheek.
- 90 -

"Te Amo." She whispered running her thumb over my lips. I shook my head wrapping my arms around her crushing her to my chest with a shuddering sigh, I don't know how I got this lucky but I knew at that moment that I was never going to let this girl go, she understood me, she completed me. The rest of the weekend was one of the best in my life; we spent the remainder of our time together in bliss. Watching movies snuggled together on the sofa, or trying to make cookies in the kitchen in which most of the batter lending up on us instead of the oven, laughing over Bella's reaction to some baby pictures from an old photo album I happened to stumble upon while looking through her DVD collection, and, of course, making love. That crazy overwhelming need to be next to her, to touch her, to be inside her never really went away and I was in a constant battle with my hormones trying to keep them in check throughout the weekend. My heart literally ached if she was not by my side and my hand constantly searched out hers. I knew I had fallen deep and hard for her just by the panic that arose every time I considered the thought of us not going to the same college. I would do anything and everything in my power to ensure that we would be together. By lunchtime on Sunday I knew I had to leave, I helped her clean up all the traces of me being there throughout the house. My heart physically hurt inside my chest knowing in less than an hour I would be gone. I held Bella close to me those last few minutes stroking her hair and breathing in her exquisite scent. She held on tightly to me, her head nestled into my chest. Standing at her doorway I found myself struggling with all that I wanted to say, needed to say. "Bellawhat we've managed to find this weekend, I don't want it to end." She looked up at me with tear filled eyes, stifling back a sob, she shook her head softly, "Neither do I." I took her hand in mine, gently stroking my thumb over the back of her palm, "Te querre para siempre." A single tear glistened on her cheek; I brushed it away pulling her close to me. I kissed her softly on her nose, "It follows with us always."
- 91 -

Bella nodded once, wiping away another tear hastily from her face. She gave me a small smile indicating she would be okay and watched me as I made my way down her front steps over to my Volvo. My resolve to not let anything or anyone come between us strengthening with each step I took.

BPOV That winter calculated to be one of the coldest Winters Forks had ever recorded; it was also the happiest time of my life. Edward and I were together every chance we got, despite the warnings he had gotten from Ricky and Jasper, my Dad took the news exceptionally well. My mind recalled the night I told him about Edward. He simply huffed at me and told me to be careful. "Dad, I need to talk to you about something." We were sitting in the living room on our old oversized sofa watching some variety comedy show. I had been waiting for over two weeks from that fateful weekend when Edward spent the night. "What about?" my Dad never tore his eyes away from the TV screen. "Dad, I'm sort of seeing someone" my Dad's eyes snapped quickly to my own, the TV forgotten. "Who?" "EdwardEdward Cullen." I tried desperately to keep my voice steady but it shook nevertheless. "Cullen?" My Dad blinked at me, his face devoid of any emotion. I nodded once, wishing I could read his thoughts. "Humph!" he grunted turning back to the television, "Cullenjust be careful." Not wanting to press the issue further, I let it drop, and we watched the rest of the show in silence. My Dad never brought it up again, and he while he didn't welcome Edward into our house with open arms, he was always civil in his own reserved way. As spring approached both Edward and I grew more and more anxious, along with the rest of our senior class, as college acceptance letters began pouring in.
- 92 -

Forks' High had erected a large bulletin board taking up an embarrasing portion of our hallway wall with our senior photos and the colleges we were accepted to. The spaces under both Edward's and my name remained blank. I had applied to Penn State along with the University of Florida and University of Utah; all three would lead me in the right direction of my dream. Finally one warm day in March just as I was placing two plates of fish on the dinner table for my Dad and me, he pounded down the stairs in his usual fashion. He tossed the mail that had come addressed to me on the table. A large yellow manila envelope caught my eye. I looked up at my Dad expectantly, and he smiled at me nodding his head, one of the first genuine smiles he had given me in months. "Should I open it?" I breathed softly. "If you don't, I will." My Dad pretended to reach for the envelope causing me to jump up from my chair guarding it from his grasp. Slowly I peeled open the flap, March 10, 2009 Bella Swan 2000 Lenox Drive Forks, WA 98331 Dear Ms. Swan: Congratulations! You have been selected for admission for the Fall 2009 semester at Penn State University! Your academic profile confirms your commitment to personal and educational growth. We are confident you will make a valuable contribution to the University's tradition of scholarship and service. This offer of admission requires that you successfully complete all current course work. You must also make arrangements for our receipt of your final high school transcript recording verification of your
- 93 -

graduation. Enclosed you will find an enrollment contract, along with instructions for accepting our offer of admission and completing the enrollment process. You must submit the enrollment contract on or before May 1, 2009. When you return your form, our Academic Advising Center will contact you and assist you in preparing your spring schedule. I, therefore, encourage an early response. If you are seeking on-campus residence, the enclosed housing application must be returned to the Residence Department. Priority for room assignments is based on the date your housing application is received by the Residence Department. Our initial review of your application has determined that you are not a Pennsylvania resident; you will, therefore, be assessed out-of-state tuition. On behalf of the entire Penn State University community, I extend a warm welcome and best wishes for your success. We appreciate your interest in the University and hope you share our enthusiasm about your future at Penn State. Sincerely, Johnathon Miller Penn State Admissions My hands shook as I reread the letter but finding the words blurring together after the second sentence. Congratulations! You have been selected for admission for the Fall 2009 semester
- 94 -

at Penn State University! I looked up at my Dad in disbelief. "Well!" he exclaimed, but he was grinning, he could read it all over my face. "I'm in!" I exclaimed throwing my hands in the air. "Whoo!" My Dad clapped, he raised his hand offering me a high five. I slapped my hand against his, then ran around the table and gave him a hug. He squeezed me once, chuckling proudly, our fish dinner long forgotten. I reached for the letter again and headed for the stairs, "Dad! I have to call Alice!" I exclaimed with a wave of my hand. "Go on" my Dad chuckled again, "dinner can wait." I grabbed the banister and spun myself around still smiling. "Bella!" He called to me as I bounded up the stairs. "What!" I yelled happily from the top. "I'm proud of you." his voice was simple, but strong and full of pride. "Thanks Dad!" I blew him a kiss and giggled, his fatherly chuckle still echoing around the room. Slamming the bedroom door behind me I reached for my cell phone. My fingers fumbled with elation as I punched in the numbers. It began to ring, a loud chime vibrating in my ear. "Hello?" "Hi!" I squealed into the phone pressing it against my ear, "Guess what!" "What?" "I got in! I just got accepted into Penn State!" I bounced happily on my bed. "Bella!"
- 95 -

"I did it!" I giggled into the phone clutching it tighter, "Edward, I did it! I got in!"

Please Press that little green button and review! I'll thow in another hug for you! (((HUG))) :)

- 96 -

Chapter 12
Whoo! Two chapters in one day! High fives all around! You remebered your seat belts right? Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight. I own all the football knowledge. :)

Mack Brown shifted the papers on his desk in annoyance; these last two weeks had been a living hell in his office. His phone was ringing off the hook every since he got back from the ESPN news conference highlighting the 2009 Longhorn recruits, everyone wanted a piece of him right now, it seemed like all the media was abuzz with who the new star players would be. A white folder caught his eye, his secretary had placed it on his desk last week and he barely had enough time to review it. Opening it up once more, he scanned the stats page quickly his eyes running down the rows of numbers. He liked what he saw, the potential was there. Glancing at the school transcripts he raised his eyebrows in appreciation, wow, he had never seen so many A's in any of his player's grades. Who was this guy anyways, and why hadn't the rest of his staff found this guy on their own? Shaking his head, he stared at the small photo that was attached with a single paper clip to the inside of the folder. Good looking kid, he thought, he would have no problems fitting in here. He wasn't sure what Charlie had in mind, but whatever it was, it wasn't going to hurt his team one bit. His hand lingered on his cell phone for a second, then he slowly moved it away, it wasn't time yet to make the call, soon, but not yet

EPOV I was ecstatic for Bella, and so incredibly proud of her. Penn State was her dream and it was coming true. "Reina," I breathed smiling to myself, thinking of her gorgeous black hair flowing down her back. Bella was never far from my thoughts. She had chattered on and on about how great it was going to be for us, we would live in the dormsshe would
- 97 -

join a sororitya sorority that only dated the football players. "Someone has to keep the cheerleaders off of you!" she exclaimed with a laugh, but I could see the shield of determination in her eyes as well. We continued to make plans, never really allowing ourselves to discuss the alternative. The sun bounced off the windshield of the Volvo as I sprayed it with the water hose. The bucket of soapy water sloshed onto my leg when I accidently bumped it trying to reach the back bumper. Shit. I stared at my wet jeans. I had been swearing a lot more than usual lately. I knew why, I still hadn't heard from Penn State. In fact I hadn't heard from anybody. I had applied to three colleges, none of them being Stanford; I would never give my Father that satisfaction. But now as the acceptance letters began trickling in little by little to the Seniors around me I found myself waiting with batted breath for a letter of my own to reach me. Sighing I soaked the large sponge I had with soapy water and began washing the Volvo. Spring break started tomorrow and Jasper and I had promised our girls we would take them out to La Push for the Senior Campout. I was looking forward to spending a whole night under the stars with my girl; it was getting harder and harder sneaking around trying to find places to spend time alone. You know, quality time alone. We spent most of our evenings at Bella's house pouring over our homework or watching TV. I never dared tried to do more than hold her hand or kiss her on her cheek in front of Coach Swan. For the most part he simply ignored me, offering me a grunt hello, or a wave of his hand goodbye. Coach Swan as a father figure was nothing like Coach Swan on the football field. I could see in his eyes the affection whenever Bella spoke to him, the hard lines around his face growing softer when he answered her questions. I could also see the fierce protectiveness that possessed him whenever I walked through the door. I never doubted, not once, that he would move mountains for her. I never brought Bella to my house. I would never subject her to the pouring eyes of my Father or the over enthusiastic facade of my Mother. It sounded harsh I know. I loved my parents, both of them, really, but they would never be more to me than
- 98 -

two figures wrapped up in their own lives, wants, and needs to bother with mine. Done drying the Volvo I stood back and admired my work. The finish shone brightly and the windows sparkled with the sunlight. Just like my girl, I thought grinning. My attention was cut short by a short figure walking up my driveway. "Beautiful Day today." I turned my head to see Mr. Wells our mail carrier smiling at me. "Hiya, Mr. Wells. It is a beautiful day today." I raised my hand in greeting. "Small stack of mail for your family today." Mr. Wells handed over a small bundle wrapped in two rubber bands. It looked mostly like hospital correspondence for my Father. "Thanks." "Have a great day Edward." Mr. Wells called heading down the sidewalk over to our neighbor's house. Taking the mail inside I plucked off the rubber bands tossing the contents on the coffee table. It was all addressed to my Father. I picked up his newest edition of New England Journal of Medicine and flipped through the pages absentmindedly; a small white envelope fell from its confines and floated onto the floor. A quick glance down made my breathing stop momentarily, the envelope was addressed to me, the return address was stamped with the Penn State logo. I snatched up that envelope as if it was on fire. Not being able to wait one second longer than necessary, I tore open the flap, nearly shredding it to bits with my fingers. My hands fumbled with the neatly folded paper, and I finally managed to smooth it out holding onto it with my forefingers and thumbs. The script was handwritten, formal, cold Penn State University March 20, 2009
- 99 -

Dear Mr. Cullen: Your complete application and supporting documents have been carefully reviewed by the Recruiting Committee on Admissions (Penn State University Recruiting.) The Recruiting Committee, after deliberation, regrets to inform you that you are not among those to whom we can offer a place in our next first year class. We are very sorry that your application did not result in an offer of admission. We hope that you will understand that the large number of applicants, as compared to the number of places in the entering class, makes it impossible for the committee to accept many whom we would like to have as members of our incoming class. I hope that you will be successful in gaining admission to another University and that you will have a productive football/academic career. Sincerely, Larry Johnson My hands shook madly as I read and reread the letter. Trying to swallow the large lump that suddenly formed in my throat, I sank in disbelief onto the extravagant sofa my Mom had purchased last Summer when she was on her redecorating kick. My head sunk into my hands, the letter crumpled, fell to the floor. This wasn't how it was suppose to be! This wasn't how it was suppose to happen! I was still sitting there hours later when I heard my Father' car pull up in the driveway. Springing up from the sofa in a wild leap, my head pounded, I searched the floor in a mad sweep, scooping up letter. I flung myself towards the staircase up to my room, the letter still a wrinkled mess in my hands.

BPOV Spring break was just around the corner and Alice had promised to come home for
- 100 -

her week off. More for Jasper than myself, I teased her mercilessly whenever we talked. I had told her all about Edward through phone calls, emails, and text messages. I left out nothing except for the fact that we were sleeping together. I wanted to keep that my own, at least for now. She giggled and seemed elated, genuinely happy for me. Most of her conversations revolved around Jasper anyhow, even though he called her every day, she still wanted an update from me on how he was behaving. Jasper had proven himself to be a pretty great guy. He was crazy about Alice and made it well known to all the girls at school. He had also proven to be a good and loyal friend to Edward. Both continued to practice with one another even in the off season. I threw my towel into my duffle bag wondering if I should pack my hoodie as well. Wouldn't it be chilly in the night? The bottle of sunscreen tossed carelessly next to my pillow, made me remember to grab my modest one piece swimsuit and place it in my bag. Don't forget to bring your bathing suit! Pushing send on my cell, I reminded Alice in a quick text to remember all the necessities she would need for our camping trip. I shuffled around my room making sure I had everything I needed. My phone vibrated silently alerting me to a new message from Alice. I had set my phone to vibrate shortly after I noticed all of my Dad's annoyed glares if my phone rang when he was around. And it was ringing a lot latelyvibrate seemed better, yes. Packed! A pink bikini for me, a blue one for you! Wink Wink! I quickly punched the letters of my phone in a new text. Alice! I shook my head at the newest article of clothing Alice was trying to squeeze me into. Just the idea of me parading around in a bikini made me shudder with fear, why couldn't Alice find me a nice one piece suit, or better yet, let me wear my own! I zipped my bag shut and placed it in front of my closet. Throwing myself on the bed I let my thoughts linger to Edward. The Penn State marker had been added
- 101 -

under my name on the bulletin board but the space under his still remained empty. I picked at my comforter frowning with worry. We hadn't even discussed the possibility that he might not get accepted to Penn State. I knew he had applied elsewhere but his heart, as well as mine, was set on Penn State. Allowing myself to contemplate the idea of being in two different colleges, I tried to imagine how we would make it work. I would be turning 18 in September, after that who could hold us back in what we wanted to do? What would stop me from driving or hopping on a plane to see him, should he be attending another college. We would make it work, yes, it might not be easy but we could do it. Nothing was going to stop us.

It was almost already hitting 70 degrees when Edward and Jasper pulled up in my driveway that early Saturday. Alice's plane had landed at seven in the morning so we were both up, dressed, and excited when we saw the guys stepping out of car and heading our way. Alice let out a tiny squeal and ran up to Jasper who in turn scooped her up in his arms and twirled her around. Both laughing and basking in each other's presence. Smiling at their cute display of affection I turned to Edward, I hadn't seen him since school let out Friday, my heart doing little flip flops in my chest. He reached for me, pulling me into his arms in a crushing bear hug. He held onto me tightly, taking in a huge breath. I squeezed him back, smiling at his public display of emotion. He pulled back, leaving one hand on my waist and gave me a small kiss on my forehead. "Are you ready?" Something was off, I couldn't read the message in his eyes but I knew, those chocolate brown eyes didn't lie, Edward was hiding something. "Let me grab my bag." I ran back up the steps and grabbed my bag that was placed in the foyer. My Dad padded down the stairs in his slippers, his hair and eyes telling me he had just woken up. He picked up the newspaper I had left on the coffee table and looked up at me.

- 102 -

"Are you leaving already?" He rubbed his hand across the stubble growing on his chin. "I was just about to go wake youto say bye." I skip-hopped a few steps over to him and placed a kiss on his cheek. "There's frozen lasagna in the freezer, just pop it in the microwave for three or four minutes." My Dad nodded twice at my words and gave me a quick squeeze around my shoulders. "Bella, be careful." He patted my hair. "I will! Bye Dad!" I closed the door behind me. We were not the first ones to reach the campground. In fact there were so many people there already, we lent up pitching our tents in the far corner, almost hidden by some large pieces of driftwood that had washed ashore from the ocean. Alice and I giggled at the display of watching Edward and Jasper stumble and flounder around fighting with all the tent poles. Edward even went as far as to search for duct tape he swore he had in the trunk of his car to hold the tent together. Finally with the help of reading the idiotic tent instructions that had to be written by an asshat, we managed to keep our tents erect, providing that a large gust of wind didn't head our way. Lunch consisted of bbq chicken and potato salad, along with a wide variety of fruits and desserts. The Senior class committee had managed to raise a surplus of funds, big enough to sponsor our campout and according to the rumors that were spreading all over school, a lavish prom that was still in the works. Once lunch was over, the boys began a makeshift football game on the sand, prompting the girls to change into their bathing suits and lounge on their towels watching the game and soaking up the rare hot sun over Forks. There was not a towel in the world big enough to cover the color red; I knew I had to be. Hiding inside the tent I was going to share with Alice, in the tiniest bluest bikini I had ever seen. That darn Alice had confisticated my modest one piece out of my duffle bag when it was still in my room leaving me no choice but to wear this, or
- 103 -

else look silly in my shorts and tank while all the other girls were in their suits. "Hot!" is the only thing Alice would say to me inside the tent, a triumphant grin on her face. "I can't go out like this! I feel naked!" I exclaimed looking down at myself, all I could see was pale skin; there was nothing left to the imagination. Alice was ignoring me, peeking outside of our tent, most likely spying on Jasper, who no doubt was showing off his football skills. "Get your butt out there now!" Alice's serious tone made me stop my whining tirade in my tracks; I blinked at her as she approached me. "BellaJessica is out therewith Edward." Sudden panic and anger shot through me making me forget what I was wearing. I pushed open the tent flap and stalked outside, my arms stiff at my sides. My eyes searched quickly for Edward, finding him leaning against some large rocks, in his swim trunks and nothing else, he looked delicious. I could tell I wasn't the only one who thought so. Jessica was perched on a smaller boulder. She rested on her palms, her arms slightly behind her causing her breasts to push out against her body. One of her feet rested on the sand, the other bent upward against the rock. She was wearing a blood red two piece halter style bikini, her bottoms were held together with two extremely thin pieces of string, and they hung so low on her body you could make out the beginnings of a V along her hip bones. She was laughing, looking up at Edward in a worshipful way. But that's not what set me off, what set me off was that Edward was smiling back down at her, that adorable crooked smile that showed off his dimples, that crooked smile that was supposed to be reserved just for me, MY smile! I kept walking towards them, not noticing the stares or catcalls the boys were giving me. Edward heard them though, and so did Jessica. They both turned at the same time to see me heading right for them. Edward pushed himself off that rock so fast I was surprised he didn't fall over. He was blinking at me, his mouth was wide open but no sound came out. Jessica gave me a hateful scowl, her eyes moving up and down my body as she assessed her competition. I wanted nothing more than to sink my hands into all that blond processed hair
- 104 -

and yank down hard! Really really hard! Instead I glanced over at Alice trying not to show the worry on my face, my eyes pleading with hers for direction. Alice's eyes locked with mine, she swung her head in mock model fashion, placed her hands on her hips, and smiled. Then she quickly regained her serious expression and encouraged me to go on, with a wave of her hand. With nothing to lose I took her advice. I locked my eyes to Edward's, breaking into the sexiest smile I thought I knew how. I raised my hands to my hips, spreading my fingertips out over my skin, and cocked my head to the side letting my hair flair out around my head and settling across one shoulder. "Hey!" I said brightly, giving my head a little shake. Edward stood frozen, in fear? Lust? Shock? I didn't know what, but since he didn't tear his eyes away from me, I took it as a positive sign. "It's so beautiful out here," I lifted my chin up slightly, letting the sunlight catch my eyes, "Do you want to go for a walk?" Edward nodded once. He didn't even blink. I had to hold back this delirious bubble of laughter I felt building up in the back of my throat, his mouth was still open and I wondered if I needed to place my fingers under his chin and help him close it. Just then the football the guys were playing with bounced over in our direction. Jasper came running hot on its tail, "Cullen! Throw it here Cullen!" No one was paying him any attention. "Cullen" Jasper saw me then, "CullHoly Heck! Is that Bella!?" he tripped on his own two feet sprawling out on the sand below him stopping right at my toes. Jasper's fall suddenly snapped Edward to attention. He stepped forward putting both his hands on my elbows. "WalkBellayes, come on!" he was pushing me now, his eyes held a wild frantic look which quickly turned to a glare when he looked down at Jasper, and then across to Ricky, and then Mike, and every other male in Forks' Senior class.
- 105 -

He slid my arm through his and walked briskly making me almost run to keep up with him. We headed in the direction of a small patch of trees, away from the group. I turned one last time to look at Alice. She was grinning, ear to ear, and winked at me. I made a mental note to hug her later.

EPOV What the Fuck! Bella was standing in front of me in the tiniest bikini I had ever seen, and it was blue. She knew how much I loved blue on her. I had been talking to Jessica, okay I confess, by reason of insanity, I allowed myself to wallow in the attention she was giving me at the moment. I didn't really see her, you know, in fact I had been having a hard time seeing anything other than that fucking rejection letter from Penn State. I had found a spot away from the rest of the guys and their obnoxious football game. Once the girls started emerging from their tents in their bathing suits, the game got ridiculous and out of hand quickly, as the guys each tried to outdo one another to impress the girls. I had closed my eyes letting the warm sun soothe my aching head when I heard Jessica's rippling laugh as she screamed at one of the guys to stop throwing sand at her. She ran up to rocks where I stood and dusted herself off. "Oh those boys!" she let her long fingernails run down her arm as she pretended to brush sand off of her. I gave her a disinterested look and then turned away hoping she would leave me alone. She didn't. "Edward" her voice hit a new pitch, a sexy, raspy pitch, "do you know how women separate boys from men" I glanced down at her and raised an eyebrow in question; she looked up at me, leaning on her hands throwing her head back, thrusting her chest out. She smiled
- 106 -

wickedly at me, "Want me to tell you?" I shrugged but didn't take my eyes off of her. "They wear their shorts low" her eyes traveled to the waistband of my trunks, up my chest, and then finally rested on my eyes, "really really lowlike yours." She licked her lips still smiling. I grinned at her, I couldn't help it, coming from Jessica it made me want to snicker, that and pull my shorts up. Before I could answer, or even complete a thought, the sounds of whistles and "Whoa!" filled my brain, and then she was in front of me. Her fingers spread out on those creamy soft hips, the sexiest come hither smile on her face, and that hair fucken hell!... that hair swinging around her head landing on her bare shoulder. I was frozen in my spot, and I knew my mouth was hanging open. Bella's mouth was moving and I heard something about walking but all I could see was the sunlight bouncing off those black eyes, that hair glistening down her back as she shook her head and wrinkled her nose at me, and those legs! Miles and miles of long legs. Then to beat it off Whitlock went and threw himself at her feet, literally! Walking! Yeswalking was good! I grabbed Bella by her elbows, afraid to touch her anywhere else really, and tried to steer her in the opposite directing away from the throng of horny guys who were staring at my girl, mine! I glared at all of them, she was my girl, and they had better stay the hell away! Once we were by ourselves, surrounded just by the trees and away from the crowd, I felt the blood return to my head. Bella was leaning against a large smooth flat boulder looking at me with something that looked like amusement. The sight of her, nearly naked, pressed up next to the matte finish of the rock sent a pang of desire right to my dick. We aren't going to Penn State together. The words rang in my head over and over again. A new sensation washed over me and I narrowed my eyes at her.
- 107 -

Still battling with myself, I briskly walked up to her, I wasn't sure if I was angry at her for walking out in next to nothing or angry that she was getting to go to Penn State and I wasn't. Reaching her, I placed both my hands on either side of her head. We didn't speak; I let my hands slide down the stone as I lowered my head to the swell of her breasts. Her breathing hitched as I let my nose trace small circles, on the outside of her suit, around her nipples. Traveling lower still I nipped at her flesh traveling down her stomach, lingering at her belly button for a few seconds and then traveling further down her body. I stopped when my face was level with her entrance, my hands still pressed against the stone. We were going to be apart. Shaking the thought from my head I brought my face forward brushing my nose up and down against the fabric of her bikini bottom. Grabbing the waistband on one side of her hip with my teeth, I pulled down, watching one half slide over her hip. I looked up at her, my eyes dark with craving. She was looking down at me, watching me as I ravished her body. The look in her eyes made my knees feel weak. With a loud growl I stood, I shouldn't do this here I simply pressed her into the stone further, one hand fumbled to lower my waistband under my dick, the other pushed the rest of her bikini bottoms down, then, I buried myself inside her. Fuck! Regret instantly hit me like a ton of bricks; I froze, shutting my eyes trying to escape the reality of what I had just done. But my girl, my reina, didn't get scared; instead, I felt her soft hands on my face stroking my cheek in the most loving way. I'm sorryI'm so sorry I tried to say those words out loud but my body was still frozen in place as I finally stared into her eyes. She didn't push me away, Bella pulled my face to hers in the
- 108 -

sweetest warmest kiss. I let my lips touch hers trying to get a hold of myself. I was going to pull out, apologize for being so rough, so impersonal, for acting like an asshole basically, when a small whimper escaped her throat and she thrust her hips forward into me. The friction of her walls moving around me, her body sliding next to mine, and that whimper that was so loving and full of adoration made my resolve come crashing down around me. I just lost it, burying my head into her shoulder, thrusting into her over and over again. I felt like I couldn't breathe, panting into her skin as I moved. My hands clenched at her side reflexively searching for something to grab onto. Bella's hands found mine and I hung onto them tightly, pulling them up over her head as I plunged into her. A tingling sensation rose up around my balls and I moved faster, grunting with each push, taking me almost to the edge, but not quite. It was Bella's voice calling out my name that sent me over. She whispered my name in the most erotic sexy way it sent a jolt right through my body. I could only choke out a strangled cry as I felt myself releasing into her. My heart felt like it was bursting with emotion, yet when I was able to stop that pang of regret still lingered gripping me like a vise, making me wish I would have had the control to slow down, to show her what I was feeling, instead of just taking her like I did. I felt the soft kiss of her lips against my chest and she hugged me, she fucking hugged me. "I'm so sorry." I whispered into her hair, squeezing her against me trying to erase the guilt that was coursing through me. She stiffened in my arms, not moving, and then slowly backed away from me, her elbow resting on the large stone, her eyes searching my face. "You're sorry?" she questioned, looking at me with confused eyes. I ran my hand down her hair pushing it back behind her ear. "I shouldn't have done that." My thumb stroked her shoulder in small circles. The tears were threatening to fall and I blinked rapidly trying to keep them out. Her eyes narrowed at me and her bottom lip thrust out,
- 109 -

"Edwardwhat the hell are you talking about?" I just shook my head, afraid to answer her. "Don't be sorry," she brought her voice down to small whisper, "don't ever be sorry for loving me."

BPOV The look in Edward's eyes was anything but funny as he walked up to me, we were surrounded by large trees away from the others. I thought we were going to talk, I actually thought he was going to scold me for wearing a bikini, but he didn't, instead without saying a word to me he started kissing my body, teasing me, making my breath come out in short choked gasps. His eyes held certain sadness, one that I couldn't quite understand. He was on his knees now, his palms still pressed against the cold stone behind me. I watched him silently trying to keep from crying out as his lips passed over my skin. When he looked up at me something snapped in his eyes and a different side of him came out, one I hadn't seen before. He yanked at my bikini bottoms with his teeth and rose with a growl. His hands worked quickly and before I knew what was happening he entered me with one quick thrust, taking my breath away. He remained motionless inside of me squeezing his eyes shut. He lifted his head away from me, as he struggled with some unknown battle within him. I brought my hands up to his face, stroking his cheeks, my thumbs running above his eyebrows. He opened his eyes gazing down at me apologetically. I pulled his face down towards mine in a soft kiss, trying to erase any regrets he may have had. He let me brush my lips against his, his brow furrowed as if he were in pain. I moved one hand away from his face up over his shoulder and let it slid down his back feeling his muscles rippling next to me, as I tried to relax him. Still he remained fixed in place causing my body to strain and wither beneath his. The need for him to begin moving within me was so overwhelming I forced my hips up against him, a small whimper escaping my lips. My actions triggered a low growl from his throat and he began moving with
- 110 -

urgent, rough, excruciating thrusts. I gasped as he buried his head in my neck his breath coming in small panting grunts; his hands began desperately searching the area around me for my own. I reached for his hands and he pulled them up over my head fiercely, entwining his fingers with mine. He kept moving quicker now, his body slick with moisture, making my own breathing erratic. The heat that began in the core of my stomach began radiating throughout the rest of my body, crashing over me causing my walls to convulse and contract around him. I arched my back away from the rock, his name escaping my lips in a raw whisper, "Edward." He cried out at the sound of my voice clutching my hands tightly, pushing into me with a few final thrusts. He stood still, breathing heavily for a few seconds and then he released my hands and rested his shoulder on the side of the rock. I slid one hand across his waist and hugged him closer to me, placing a small kiss on his chest. "I'm so sorry." He whispered, his arms squeezing me close. I pulled back slightly shaking my head in disbelief, I never wanted him to be sorry for being with me. "Don't be sorrydon't ever be sorry for loving me." I whispered. He buried his face in my neck, his shoulders shook against me, a large sob escaped him and he pressed his body closer to mine. "I didn't get into Penn State."

- 111 -

Chapter 13
Welcome Back! Me: Seatbelts locked? You: Check! Me: Box of tissues handy in case you need them? You: Check! Me: Fingers posed to hit the review button once you're done reading? You: Double Check! Enjoy! Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight. I own all the football knowledge. :)

BPOV I never thought my heart could hurt so much as it did that night on the campground. When we emerged from trees the sun was just starting to make its decent into the blue waters, leaving a yellow hazy glow in the air. No one said anything to us; they had forgotten we were even there. The boys had made a large bonfire and someone had brought out marshmallows. There was music playing in the background and everyone was having fun. All I could think about was the look in Edward's eyes after he pulled himself away from me. We talked for a long time after that, I tried my best to convince him that it didn't matter where he went to school, we would still find a way to see each other, to be together, but I knew there was something deeper that was making him ache so bad. As the sky darkened, Edward and I sat by the fire, he arms wrapped around me, watching the stars. The laughter and noise around us had quieted down to soft whispers and low tones. There were only a few people left outside when we decided to get some sleep. It had to be close to three in the morning when Edward and I headed to our tents. More than anything I wanted to spend the night asleep in his arms, but Alice and Jasper had already said their goodnights and were each in separate tents, fast
- 112 -

asleep. Or so I thought. I gave Edward a kiss goodnight, my hand on his cheek, my eyes willing him to believe me, to believe in us. He said goodnight but it felt more like goodbye. I went inside my tent; Alice was huddled up in her sleeping bag, her eyes closed. I settled into my own sleeping bag, pulling it up to my chin, when suddenly Alice's head sprang up and she looked right at me. "Are you sleeping with Edward?" Her question caught me by surprise, I shook my head. "No, I'm sleeping here." Alice narrowed her eyes at me, "I don't mean in the same tent," she was clearly exasperated, and pissed, "I mean sex. Are you having sex with Edward?" She stared at me some more. I remained quiet. "Shit! I knew it!" she shook her head at me. "Alice, it's none of your business." The pained expression in her eyes made me regret my words. I hung my head in shame, I felt like a child being scolded by her parent. The atmosphere suddenly closed around me, choking me, making me feel claustrophobic. I couldn't take any more heartache right now. The tears that I had managed to keep bottled up all evening abruptly made their appearance and without warning I was sobbing, my head in my hands. Alice's expression softened and she crawled over to me wrapping her arms around my shoulders. "Bella, it's okay. It's okay to sleep with him if you love him. You do love him don't you?" I nodded into my hands. "You're using protection right?"
- 113 -

Her words echoed in my brain, the choking sensation latching onto me with a renewed force. We hadn't used anything I looked up at Alice, my tear streaked face contorted in a mask of fear and regret. Alice stared at me in disbelief; she could read my face in an instant. "Bella" she breathed, placing her hand on her chest, her eyes pleading with mine, "Please tell me you used protection." Slowly I shook my head. Alice's breath left her body slowly; I could tell she was struggling with herself, probably counting to ten before she ripped into me. "How long?" "About three months." I spoke so softly I could barely hear my own voice. A small gasp escaped Alice's lips. "Bella" she said slowly, "what are you doing? Why?" I shrugged shaking my head, "I don't know, I wasn't thinking about it, I'm not sure." Alice crossed her arms, and I braced myself for the lecture I knew was coming. "Look. I don't care how great Edward is, you cannot afford to get pregnant. From now on you use a condom; you makehim use a condom. Tomorrow we are going to the clinic and get you started on the pill or something." I nodded, silent tears once again streaming down my face. I wished I had been smart enough to talk to her back in December, before the Homecoming dance. Alice grabbed my hand squeezing it, "its okay" she soothed, "it will be fine." "Alice," I choked back another sob, "he didn't get into Penn State." "Oh honey!" She grabbed me in a hug, "I'm so sorry, but BellaBellalook at me." I wiped my eyes at looked up into her face.
- 114 -

"Edward is a smart guy, and a great football player, I am positive he will be accepted into another college." I gave her a small smile, she was right, she was always right. "You'll still see each otherlook at me and youI've managed to come home four times so far this year, and I'm planning to come back the first weekend of May." The first weekend of May? I tilted my head to the side in question. "For the prom" she grinned at me, "Jasper asked me to go with him." I bounced up happily; I had been wallowing in my own problems I hadn't even asked her about Jasper. "Really!" "Yes." She laughed at my reaction. "He really likes you," I clapped my hands together, "He talks about you all the time." "And I really like him too," She smiled softly, giving me a quick squeeze, "come on let's get some sleep, it's almost morning." The white square floor tiles of the clinic were filled with dozens of tiny black scuff marks, there were exactly twenty two marks in the ones that surrounded my chair. I know because I kept my head down the entire time in the lobby waiting for the nurse to call my name. "Miss Swan?" A young woman stood by the folding door, a clipboard in her hand. I stood up and headed to her feeling slightly scared and way nervous. She smiled at me and motioned me to follow her. We walked down a short hallway that led to the individual rooms. She paused outside one of the doors and asked me to stand on the scale that was at the far corner before entering my room. Once inside she took a quick basic overview of my health. She instructed me to remove all my clothing, handing me a white paper gown, and told me she would return shortly with the doctor.
- 115 -

I thought the doctor was a kid when she walked in with the nurse. She looked no older than me, her friendly face, long hair, and thin frame made me think the nurse had brought another patient into my room by accident. But no, she was the doctor, her white coat held a name tag, Dr. Rothschild. "Hello Miss Swan, I'm Dr. Rothschild, how are you today?" she held out her hand in greeting. "Fine, thank you." The paper gown making crinkling sounds underneath me as I shifted to shake her hand. "Wonderful, we're just going to do a quick pap smear and overall checkup to make sure your health is good, and then we'll discuss some different birth control options for you." The tone of her voice was light and airy making me feel a little more at ease. The nurse smiled at me at patted my hand as Dr. Rothschild instructed me to lie down. The entire exam took no more than twenty minutes. While it was a little uncomfortable, it was not painful at all. "And we're all done" Dr. Rothschild smiled at me, she scribbled something down on the clipboard, "you can go ahead and get dressed Miss. Swan, before we discuss birth control I want the nurse to draw some blood for the lab. I'll be back shortly." I nodded; glad the whole thing was over. The nurse let me change before she returned with a small tray that held a large needle and some small plastic tubes. She chatted for a few seconds about the weather while she worked and then told me to go ahead and relax. When she left, both plastic tubes were filled with blood. I sat there staring at the blank walls, I was glad Alice had ordered me to come here. I really didn't know what I was thinking not was doing this sooner. It was one of those times I wished I had a Mother to talk to. Not necessarily my Mother, just a Mother. Everything happened so fast with Edward and my feelings that I felt like my brain just didn't have the chance to process and think things over carefully. I hadn't even told Edward I was coming here; he didn't need another thing to worry about. Swinging my legs back and forth as I sat on the makeshift exam bed I suddenly looked forward to prom and graduation. Even if Edward and I weren't going to the same college, we still had events to go to together. Dr. Rothschild and the nurse reentered the room interrupting my thoughts just
- 116 -

then. I smiled in greeting, placing my hands in my lap. The doctor was holding some papers and pamphlets in her hands as she sat down on the small swivel stool in front of me. The nurse stood silently by her side. "Okay Miss. Swan, there's a few things I would like to discuss with you," she grabbed her pen out of her breast pocket and circled a small group on numbers and letters on one of the papers in her hands, "these are your results from the blood test I had run. During the manual exam your cervix appeared to be softer than normal which is why I ordered the blood test. This number here shows your hCG level in your blood. This number means only one thing Miss Swan, it means you are pregnant."

EPOV I yanked the covers off of my head and looked at my alarm clock. It read 1pm. I groaned and rolled over yanking the covers back on, not wanting to get out of bed. I was still feeling like shit. I shut my eyes tight wishing I could fall back asleep. The whole camping thing played out in my head, I winced as I remembered the way I had pushed Bella into that rock. I had acted so harsh so rough, she should've slapped me, not hugged me. I sighed and pulled the covers back down. Staring at my ceiling I began making mental notes in my head, I would never lose control like that again. I would never grab Bella like that again. I would never take Bella like that again. I swung my legs over the side of my bed and sat up. College or no college, football or no football, I would never disrespect my girl again. I headed for the shower, as the hot spray washed over me I decided that I would call her once I was out and see if she wanted to catch a movie or something later on in the evening. We really had only a few months left together as it was already the end of March. Prom and graduation were basically the only events left. Hopefully we would have all Summer. Once I was out, I dressed quickly throwing on a pair of jeans and t-shirt. I grabbed
- 117 -

my laptop and headed down the stairs, I thought I would hang out on the sofa and browse the web for a while, but when I reached the top of the banister I froze. Looking down the stairs I saw my Mother standing at the front door talking animatedly. The door was wide open and there Bella stood in the frame way her eyes looking unsure and a bit frightened as she talked to my Mom. Her eyes finally noticed my presence at the top of the stairs and my Mother turned her head to see what Bella was looking at. "Oh there's Edward now. Come on down honey, there's a young lady here to see you." I nearly tumbled down the stairs in my haste to close the distance in the least amount of steps as possible. My Mother had turned back to Bella, "How do you know Edward dear?" "We both go to Forks High." "Oh yes, a classmate." "Yes, we have Calculus together and some other classes. I'm his" "Bella is one of my friends Mom." I finally reached my Mother cutting Bella off, ignoring the flash of pain I saw running across Bella's face. Fuck. "That's wonderful; it's so nice to see young lady friends around again. Back in our old house we would have so many visitors for Edward; they would come around nonstop" Thanks Mom," I cut my Mom off this time, placing my laptop down on the foyer table. I stepped in front my Mom angling my body towards the door frame making Bella take a step back, "We'll be back in a while." "Wouldn't you like to stay in?" My Mother looked taken aback at my rush to get out the door, "maybe she would like to stay for dinner?" "No." the words were out of my mouth harshly before I could stop myself, Bella's worried eyes moved back and forth between the exchange my Mother and I were having, "No thanks, Mom," I tried to soften my voice, " we'll just grab something in
- 118 -

town." I brushed past Bella and headed down the steps in a hurry hoping she would take my clue and follow me. She turned slightly watching me in disbelief, and then she looked back at my Mom. "It was nice to meet you Mrs. Cullen." "Same here my dear, please come back soon." I was already in the driver's side of the Volvo my hands gripping the steering wheel tightly. What was she doing here? My knuckles were nearly white by the time Bella slid into the seat next to mine. I didn't say anything to her; I turned on the engine and peeled out of the driveway, the wheels making screeching noises as they rubbed against the pavement. Not even knowing where I was going I found myself pulling in to our old familiar haunt, the football stadium. I was nearly shaking in frustration as I pushed open the door; I had already forgotten my resolve not to lose control. I stalked over to the passenger's door and pulled it open. Bella looked up at me with frightened sad eyes. Despite the turmoil I was feeling the look in her eyes tugged at my heart and I held out my hand to her. We walked over to our bench and sat down. Bella was looking at the floor, her body stiff, and her hands in her lap. I studied her for a few seconds and then looked out over the field. Sighing I ran my fingers through my hair. Why was I so angry? Shaking my head, I turned to look once again back at Bella, she jumped when I placed my hand on her knee. "Bella," I moved my hand away at her reaction and clasped both hands together tightly, "what's going on?' She looked back at me, her lower lip trembling a bit. "Why don't you want me in your house?" I sighed again, rubbing my hands back and forth against each other. "It's not you."
- 119 -

"Then what?" Her voice was shaking. "My parents." She stayed silent waiting for me to continue, looking back down at the ground. "They're not typical parents." I tried to explain. Bella huffed and looked at me in disdain, "Whose parents are?" "They're embarrassing and controlling and my Dad" I hesitated. "Your Dad what?" "He's prettyum rough." I couldn't think of the right word to describe him. "So is mine." She whispered, I could almost hear the rest of her unspoken sentence "and I took you to my house". "My Dad is nowhere near like your Dad." Bella suddenly sprang up from the bench and stood in front of me, anger flashing in her eyes. "Then what is he Edward? What's so horrible about your parents that you won't let me meet them? You obviously had lots of girls over to your old house. Are you just embarrassed of me? Am I not good enough?" I sat there stunned looking up at her. Is that what she thought? That she wasn't good enough? Didn't she realize she was too good to meet my parents? She was so far beyond good enough that I would do anything to keep her from their clutches. "No!" I cried at the incredulity of her outburst, "It's not like that at all." "Well then how is it? Why am I just your friend? Look Edward I know that I'm not the prettiest girl in school, or the most popular, maybe that is what your parents are used to; but you all are going to have to figure out how to deal with it, especially you , becausebecause" her voice trailed off. What the fuck was she talking about? I stood up grabbing her wrists, making her look at me. She was shaking in anger
- 120 -

trying to pull away from me her eyes full of painhurt. "No, noThat's not what I mean! I could care less about my parentsYou're not just my friendyou mean everything to me" "Edward I'm pregnant." Deafening silenced followed her words as they pierced into my brain.

BPOV I wanted to scream. I wanted to kick something and then run away and hide. I just told Edward I was pregnant and all he could do is stand there and stare at me. I don't know what I was expecting when I knocked on Edward's front door, I sure as hell didn't expect the reaction I got from him. I knew he would be surprised to see me there, but I never dreamed he would be so panicked and angry. Ashamed. That's all I could think of standing there on his steps, his Mom looking down at me with amusement, Edward was ashamed of me. That's why he had never taken me to his house. His parents would have laughed at the sight of me. They had no clue Edward even had a girlfriend, I was just his friend. He said it himself. "What did you say?" Edward's words entered my thoughts; he had slowly lowered himself back down to sitting position on the bench. I focused my eyes on him. His eyes looked so hollow, almost as if I were looking at a stranger. "I'm pregnant." He blinked at me. "Are you sure?" "Yes." "You took a test or something?" The flat tone of his voice and emotionless eyes made my throat tighten. "Yes."

- 121 -

He sunk his head into his hands, his fingers fisting into his hair. Letting out a large breath of air he looked up at me again, his eyes still wrought with confusion. "When?" "Today." I was beginning to panic. His voice was so cold, so impersonal. I knelt in front of him and placed my hands on his knees. I searched his eyes with my own for a few seconds, then reached up at touched his cheek. Gently, cautiously at first, but when he leaned his face into my hand and closed his eyes, I knewthat we would somehow make it through all this. "I went to a clinic this morning," I began explaining the morning events, "I went so that I could start myself on birth control. I was just a little too late. The doctor noticed something was different and she ordered a blood test. It came back with a positive reading for pregnancy. I didn't know what to do, I haven't told anyone yet. I had to come find you, I couldn't tell you over the phone. I didn't realize you didn't want your parentsyour Mom" I hesitated, then softly added, "to know me." Edward opened his eyes, and for the first time since our camping trip I saw love there again. "Reina," he pulled me to him, falling to his knees himself, and wrapping his arms around me, "there's nothing more I would love, than to have my parents know you. But there's something you don't understand. My parents, especially my Dad, have dictated everything that's supposed to happen in my life since the day I was born. I mean everythingfrom where I go to school, to what I wear, to what I eat. When I do the things they like, they treat me like a wonderful son, but when I do things that they don't like, or don't approve of, they do everything in their power to stop me. My Dadhe doesn't like me playing football. He thinks it's a waste of time. I'm supposed to go to Stanford, to become a doctor, like him. He wants me to be like him in almost every way, follow his exact footsteps; he told me if I didn't go to Stanford, he wouldn't pay for my college." I listened to him stunned at what I was hearing. What kind of parents treat their kid like that? "I don't even know how I would've paid for Penn State if I had gotten in? Football scholarship maybe? I don't know what I was even thinking, but my Dad was right, I wasn't good enough."
- 122 -

His words tore at my heart and I clutched him closer to me. "They would treat you nice at first," he kept talking, "they always do, but then little by little they would pick you apart. Say hurtful things to you, try and make you leave me." His voice caught in his throat, "I don't want you to leave me." "I would never leave you." I stubbornly brushed away the silent tears that were escaping my eyes. "I don't care what they say." "But you will, in August." "I'll stay." I said shakily, "I'll go where ever you go." "No," he shook his head sadly, "Penn State is your dream." "No." I said with as much conviction as I could find, "You are my dream, you and this baby." I placed my hand on stomach, trying to show him how much this baby meant to me. His eyes traveled down to my hand and he slowly placed his hand over mine. "A baby?" he said in wonder. I nodded, "Our baby." "My baby?" I saw the beginnings of a tiny smile pulling at his lips. "Your baby." I smiled bringing my free hand and placing it over his. He leaned forward and kissed me, his lips brushing over mine softly. I opened my mouth to his tasting the salty sweetness of his skin. There was nothing sexy or erotic about our kiss, just pure sweet emotion. He hugged me close afterwards, his hands stroking my hair. I wanted to bask in that moment forever, the feeling of warmth and strength. I knew that once we left the football field a whole different world was out there waiting for us, one neither of us knew what to do with. When darkness finally fell over the football field I knew we had to go. "Edward." I pushed my hair out of my eyes and turned to look at him.
- 123 -

"Hmmm?" he was holding my hand, playing with my fingers, entwining them with his and then releasing them over and over. "You don't have to come with me if you don't want too, but I need to go home, I need to tell my Dad." His eyes snapped quickly up to mine, his hand clenching against my own. He took a deep breath. "Of course I'll go with you." "Are you sure? It's okay if you don't. I'll be okay." Edward stood, pulling me up to my feet along with him. "Together, juntos, we're in this together. Come on." The drive to my house was in silence, much like the one that fateful night when we first made love, but a different silence, one with much more fear in it. I tried to think of ways I might tell my Dad but my mind was blank. I never once imagined that I would ever be in this position. This stuff happened to other girls, not me. My Dad was sitting in his favorite recliner chair watching some old western show on TV when we walked in the door. He gave us a half glance as we entered the room. "Hi Dad." "Hi Coach." Edward and I sat down on the sofa opposite him. "Hey." My Dad grunted out a greeting, his eyes barely passing over us. We sat there in silence for a moment until I guess my Dad got uncomfortable, he shifted in his chair, his eyes moved away from the TV and rested on us. "Something wrong?" he asked, his eyes going back and forth from my face to Edward's. I gave Edward a quick glance, drew a large breath, and spoke.
- 124 -

"Dad, I need to tell you something. I know you'll probably be mad but you have to know." I fought with everything I had not to cry, "Dad, I need to tell you that" "Bella and I want to get married." Edward's voice was loud and clear as it echoed around the room. I shot him an alarmed glance but it didn't matter my Dad was already standing up looming over us. "What!" he yelled his eyes red with anger, "You want to what!" "We want to get married." Edward stood, looking my Dad right in the eyes, his voice calm. "The hell you do!" my Dad roared, he swung his head to look at me. I stayed silent on the sofa, he studied me for a few seconds and then narrowed his eyes, "Shit! You're pregnant aren't you! Aren't you!" I wanted to stand up to him like Edward was doing but I couldn't, he was my Dad, I was still his little girl. "I'm sorry." I whispered. My Dad turned to Edward his face flaming red, his hands fisted at his sides. I was suddenly afraid of what was going to transpire. "YouGet the hell out of my house!" I stood up, afraid that my Dad was going to hit Edward. I could tell he was doing everything in his power not too. Edward didn't move. My Dad turned to me, "Get him out of here Bella! So help me if you don't get him out of here I am going to do something I will not regret later!" My Dad glared at both of us and then stormed up the stairs, slamming his bedroom door behind him. I sunk onto the sofa sobbing; Edward put his arm around my shoulder and pressed his lips to my hair. He hummed against me softly as I cried. I felt like a failure as a daughter, as a girlfriend, as a person. Time seemed to stand still and when I finally
- 125 -

felt like I had no more tears left I moved back away from Edward. His eyes held such sadness as they searched my face, he brushed away a stray tear with the back of his hand. "Thank you." I gave him a shaky smile, "For telling my Dad you wanted to marry me." He gave me a somber look, "I wasn't kidding when I said that I wanted to marry you." "We can't." "Why not?" I shook my head softly, I couldn't meet his gaze this time. "We can'tI can't" I stared past him to a picture my Dad and I took when I was 11 or so, I still went on fishing trips with him then, we were smiling in that picture, we had gone fishing on his friend's boat. In my entire life I had never disobeyed my dad, never given him any reason for pain or regrets. I just couldn't start now. "I can't hurt him anymore than I already have."

Whew! This was a tough one. Now go on ahead and press that little green button! You know you want to...

- 126 -

Chapter 14
Okay, we're taking a bit of a break from all the tears and angst. They'll be back next chapter. Let's go to the prom! Check out the links in my profile for pics of the dress and flowers. Dont' forget to hit the review button when you're done! See you below! Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight. I own all the football knowledge. :)

BPOV It was the second time in my entire life I had seen my Dad cry. It literally tore my heart in two knowing that I was the cause of it. About an hour after Edward had left my house my Dad returned downstairs. He wouldn't look at me the first few minutes; instead he grabbed the newspaper at sat at the kitchen table. I stayed on the sofa frozen in my spot. Fear of what was going through his head made my heart pound; this was the silence before the storm. I debated on approaching him, wondering if he was going to pretend the whole spectacle never happened. I let myself fantasize for a second that the whole thing never happened and we were just doing our own thing like we always did after dinner. What I wouldn't give to go back in time. It was no use; the tension in my house was so thick you could slice it with a knife. Finally just as I was about to rise from the sofa and face him, he entered the room, the newspaper still in his hand. "Bella," his voice was raw, "are you sure? About the baby?" He stood in front of me, the anger gone from his face; it had been replaced with hurt, deep hurt and sadness. I nodded slowly, wishing a big black hole would suddenly appear and swallow me away.
- 127 -

"Have you been to a doctor?" "Yes, the doctor confirmed it." I kept my voice low and remained as still as possible. My Dad sunk into his recliner a pained expression on his face. "Why Bella?" His voice cracked, a single tear slid down his cheek, "I'd never thought I'd hear this from you. I thought you were more responsible than this. Why'd you throw everything away, your future, for a guy?" I didn't answer, how was I supposed to answer that? I didn't know why I did it; I fell in love. That was really all I knew. I'm not sure if my silence fueled my Dad's anger or he was on a roll, but his tone changed dramatically as he kept talking. "Don't you think I've known what you wanted for your future? That I've been watching you? Ever since you were five and a football was placed in your hands, I've known exactly what you were meant to do. I know all about yours and Alice's plans. Why do you think I let you stand out on that field with me every single day? Why I let you apply to go to a college over 2000 miles away? And now for what? So you can throw it all away over someone you just met less than six months ago?" Tears stung my eyes as I listened to him talk. I always thought he could care less about what I wanted to become, that he didn't even know. "I'm just so fucking sorry I ever let Cullen on the team." He flung his newspaper to the ground and stood up, spinning around on his heels he stormed out of the living room again. I thought I had shed all the tears I had by then but a fresh round had welled up in my eyes and spilled over. I had disappointed him. I had made him cry. Just like my Mom did. I pulled myself up away from the sofa and stumbled up the stairs. Once in my room I flung myself on my bed and finally let the tears fall freely.

EPOV
- 128 -

My life had turned upside down all in a matter of days. I wouldn't know up from down right now even if it bit me in the ass. I rummaged through the refrigerator for the twelfth time in the last half hour looking for nothing in particular, hoping something new would magically appear in the past five minutes from when I last checked. A baby. Bella was going to have a baby. I shook my head at the massive impediment of it all. What the hell was I going to do? How were we going to manage this? Walking out of the kitchen I wandered into the living room and plopped myself in front of the TV hoping it would distract me for a few hours. I was grateful no one was home, thankful for my Dad's crazy hospital hours and my Mom's various charity commitments. I randomly flipped through the channels my mind wandering over to what Bella might be doing. I hated leaving her there the other night with her Dad. Coach Swan was fucking pissed, and he had every right to be. I just hope I had been able to direct most of his anger at me and he would leave Bella alone. Bella was the first and foremost important thing right now, I wasn't even mad when she told me she couldn't marry me, I never really expected her to. I had thought of it on a whim during our drive back to her house. I had blurted it out simply because I couldn't stand the thought of her having to tell her Dad she was pregnant. I felt like it was my fault not hers, I should be the one to take the blame not her. And it had worked, for a few seconds. When Coach Swan got right in my face screaming at me, I didn't even flinch, I kept waiting for that punch though. I sighed and ran my hand through my hair. Everything sure was different now. Football, Penn State, the rejection letterit all seemed like a long long time ago. None of it mattered now. Whatever dreams and plans I had for my future, they were gone now. I had to move forward, put Bella and the baby first. There was something that I was very sure of though, something that I wouldn't take no for an answer. Bella was going to Penn State; there was no way I was going to take that away from her.

- 129 -

I didn't see Bella for the rest of spring break. I texted her every day though, checking up on her, making sure she was okay. I knew that we would see each other once school started up again. I don't know what I was expecting to see when she walked into calculus that Monday morning. My mind had conjured up all kinds of images in my head of what she would look like pregnant but honestly when she slid into the seat next to mine she looked exactly the same. Stunning in fact, her hair was in a ponytail, and she was wearing jeans and a white t-shirt. Her black hoodie hung over her shoulders in a simple fashion. How in the world did this girl ever think she was not pretty is beyond me. She smiled at me, her eyes still a bit swollen from the rough week she must have had to endure. I reached across my desk, not caring who saw, and grabbed her hand. "How are you doing?" I half whispered. "Okay." She squeezed my hand gently. "And your Dad?" She turned her head to look at me, a desperate hopeless look on her face, "he said I could keep seeing you," she paused when I raised my eyebrows in disbelief at her, "on one condition." I cocked my head to side in curiosity. "I have to promise him I will still go to Penn State." I nodded in agreement. At least there was one thing I could count on; both Coach and I would look out for Bella. She shook her head at me, her ponytail falling over her shoulder, "I can't leave you." "You won't." I interrupted her before she could continue, "I'm going with you." Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, as I tossed and turned in bed, a plan began forming in my mind. There wasn't anything stopping me from going with Bella. I wouldn't go to Penn State, a community college would be fine for now, and I would get a job. Something decent that would allow me to get a small apartment,
- 130 -

one that we could all fit in comfortably, all three of us. "What?" "I'll explain it all during lunch." I gave her a quick wink as Mr. Banner began talking. I sat back more relieved than I had been feeling the entire week long. My plan would work, I was sure of it.

BPOV I allowed myself to indulge in Edward's fantasy for just a little bit. He was so excited as he described how it would all work out, I didn't have the heart to interrupt him. He talked as if a huge burden had been lifted off his shoulders. He even sounded excited about going to a community college and getting a job. For those few minutes as he sat next to me speaking, I could almost see it happening; getting home from class and walking into our apartment. Snuggled up on the sofa watching TV, his hand resting on my big pregnant belly. Going to sleep with him every night and waking up in his arms every morning. Looking down into a bassinet and seeing a tiny face with dimples just like his. It sounded like heaven really, but I knew I could never be that selfish and just let him throw away his future because I wasn't smart enough to start on birth control when I should have. I knew that if I allowed that to happen, one day he would look back at all of this and resent me, resent the baby, because in reality we were the only things holding him back. My Dad had given me one more lecture before he let the subject drop. He had come into my room a packet in his hand. It was all the forms I had to fill out for Penn State. The forms were requesting the basic information that they would need from me as a first time student, things like, if I was going to live in the dorms, what kind of food plan did I want, how to apply for a parking sticker. My Dad stood next to my bed, his arms crossed, as I asked him what he wanted me to do with all this. He bluntly gave me his condition, he would not forbid me from seeing Edward, he knew that would be fruitless, but he made me promise him that I would not change my plans to go to college. Tired of all the fighting and tears I gave in to him and he left my room. He hadn't spoken to me again after that, but he did make sure that packet got sent back, in
- 131 -

fact, he mailed it himself. So for the sake of some peace in my life I let Edward believe that I was as excited with his plan as he was, and tried to avoid bringing up the subject again. I really just wanted to enjoy the last six weeks of school with him. Alice couldn't come down to go prom dress shopping with me so we both browsed online, emailing each other back and forth until we had found the perfect dresses. Alice was my rock, my savior. Besides my Dad and Edward, she was the only other person I told. And while she had cried with me, after the initial shock was gone, she was the only one who looked me right in the eyes and congratulated me. She also threatened me saying if I didn't choose her to be the baby's Godmother she would disown me. At least once a day there would be a new email from her with another baby outfit, or baby shoes, or a stroller that she had just stumbled upon online and had to show me. She was having more fun with my pregnancy than I was. So that I would not subject my Dad and Edward through any more awkwardness than necessary I decided to be at Alice's house to get ready for Prom. My Dad knew where I was going and who I was going with, he still didn't talk to me. He gave me a half grunt as a goodbye when I left the house. Alice had flown in Friday night and I was spending the night at her house. We would have all day Saturday to get ready. By Saturday afternoon her room was a total disaster as we strew everything around trying to get ready. I was feeling normal for the first time since all this crap had gone down, downright giddy at the prospect of going to the prom with Edward. I couldn't wait to see what he would be wearing. He had gone with Jasper looking for a tuxedo last weekend. He wouldn't tell me any details when they got back. The theme was called Ballroom Glamour so Alice had made sure every detail from our heads to our toes was oozing with it. "This dress fits you so perfectly Bella." Alice was zipping me up. I smiled at her fighting back a few stray tears that threatened to spill over. I had told myself I wasn't going to cry anymore but lately almost everything was making me cry, even Alice's sweet compliments about my dress. After Alice had emailed me about 30 different dresses I had finally settled on a pretty black and white gown. It was strapless, the bust area solid black with crystals strewn all over it and a white diamond shape stone in the center. The rest of the gown was white sheer material that flowed out to the floor. Along the waist area was
- 132 -

small black floral clusters that were also adorned with crystals, the entire dress was shimmery and sparkly, and I bought some pretty black heels to go with it. I hoped Edward would like it. Alice had fixed my hair into a cute updo, nothing fancy but really elegant. She also made me wear makeup. Not a lot but a little glimmer blush to my cheeks, a pretty glossy lip gloss, and some shimmery eye shadow. "Are you sure this isn't too much?" I questioned, inspecting myself in the mirror. "No, I think it's perfect." Alice dusted my nose with a touch more powder. I inspected myself once again and breaking into a smile, I had to admit I felt really pretty. When seven o'clock finally rolled around Alice and I were bubbling with excitement. When her doorbell rang we scampered across her family room, Alice nearly flung herself into the foyer to answer the door. She paused and took a quick breath before swinging it open. My breath hitched, I couldn't believe my eyes, there stood Edward next to Jasper at the doorway. Both guys were wearing black tuxedos, I may be biased here but Edward totally blew Jasper out of the water. He was downright drop dead gorgeous. His black tuxedo has a bit of shimmer to it, his jacket was held closed with one button, a small bow tie at his neck. His sexy tousled hair just screamed for me to screw him senseless and that is exactly what I wanted to do. In his hands he held a pretty white corsage that had been placed in a small clear plastic box. He stood there smiling broadly at me as Alice let out a small squeal and started chatting away with Jasper, gushing over the corsage he had brought her. I raised my head my eyes meeting his, I felt a bit shy, not sure what to do with myself. I wanted to reach out and just touch him, just to make sure he was real. He cocked his head to the side still smiling that adorable crooked smile, his dimples making me melt all over again. He made his way over to me shaking his head in amusement. "You look absolutely beautiful, stunning" He smiled, his eyes dancing over me with delight.
- 133 -

"Thank you, you're not so bad yourself." I teased. "May I?" he held out the corsage box to me. "Yes." I smiled brightly extending my hand. The corsage was simply amazing. It had all these small white flowers; each of them had a crystal in their center. Surrounding the flowers were tiny feather wisps, sheer ribbon, and small crystal stems. The whole thing was absolutely perfect. He slid it onto my wrist with ease, his hand lingering on mine for a few extra seconds. I smiled up at him and then leaned over to grab the boutonniere I purchased just for him, it was sitting on the coffee table next to the one Alice had bought Jasper. I wasn't sure what to pick when we arrived at the flower shop a few days ago, there were so many flowers to choose from. Alice and I poured over all the books and samples, but then I came across this one, it was beautiful. It reminded me of Edward and I, and everything we stood for. Two single white roses tied together with a small sprig of baby's breath and a few green leaves. Behind the flowers where tiny crystal stems that I knew would sparkle in the darkness. White sheer ribbon adorned the bottom. I purchased it in an instant. Using the pretty stray pin that came with it I pinned it to his jacket, my fingers smoothing over the lapel. I fingered the ribbon one last time straightening the loops when his hands caught mine. He brought both my hands to his lips, my heart fluttering at his affection. We hadn't even made it out the door yet but I already knew that this night was going to be one of the best nights of my life.

EPOV I had never seen anyone as beautiful as Bella was on Prom night. I was expecting her to look as gorgeous as ever but seeing her standing there in her long white gown, her hair all pulled up, the elegance and classic beauty of her features took my breath away. I wanted nothing more to walk right out the door with her and not come back until I made her my wife.
- 134 -

I wanted tonight to be special. I promised myself that tonight it would just be about us, no talk about football, her Dad, college, or my parents. Just us and everything we felt for each other. Jasper and I decided to surprise our girls by renting a white Cadillac DTS limousine. When we stepped outside both girls gasped at the sight of it. The driver had gotten out and was standing by an open door waiting to escort the girls in. "Oh my gosh!" Alice raced right over and slid inside, Jasper following her. Bella stayed frozen in her spot. "Oh." She breathed in awe. "You like it?" I asked sliding her arm through mine walking slowly with her over to the door. The driver smiled at us and stepped aside, letting me escort Bella in his place. "I love it!" she looked up at me happily, her elation was contagious and I chuckled softly at her reaction. We slid into the smooth leather seats; a soft melody was playing on the speakers. A large silver tray was placed over the bar station, tall crystal glasses filled with apple cider sat gently on top. A glass bowl was filled with different fruits, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, and bananas. I offered Bella a glass of apple cider as well as Alice. I placed my arm around Bella's waist bringing her closer to me. She looked up at me and giggled eyes bright with excitement. I placed a small kiss on her nose and gave her a squeeze; I wanted her to remember this as one of the most magical nights of her life. A red carpet greeted each of the prom guests as they entered the walkway, just before the entrance there was a photographer who took our picture. When we reached the photographer we each took our picture as a couple and then asked for one more of the four of us. Once inside it looked straight out of a 50's ballroom, everything around us held a touch of glamour. Gold accents, large centerpieces, mirrors all around. I could tell just by the looks on all the girl's faces that they were impressed, hell, I was pretty impressed myself. At each table a large brass candelabra stood with four taper candles. The candles were surrounded by white carnations. Gold pearls and ribbons hung down from the flowers. Huge black and white posters of 50's pinup girls hung on the wall in large gold frames. Whoever did the decorating they did a hell of a job.
- 135 -

I spent the evening twirling Bella around and around out on the dance floor. I even made her dance to some fast songs with me. At first she fought me but of course once I made puppy dog eyes at her she gave in. "Come on dance with me." I tugged at her arm once more. "Edward, I'm so tired." Bella stalled trying to get out of another fast number. "Come on please" I looked up at her through my lashes my face turned down in a sad smile. She shook her head in mock despair, placing her hand over mine letting me lead her back out to the dance floor. Trying to be funny I spun her around making her head fall back in laughter, I placed my hand on her back and the other on her waist then I dipped her in a grand fashion. Some of our classmates clapped and cheered at our display. Bella blushed with delight looking like she wanted to hide but then surprised me when she gave a small curtsy in front of everyone. I smiled at her proudly swinging her around in arms again; I wanted to show her off to everyone. I wanted to brag, "You see this beauty? She's mine, you can look but you can't touch." The music suddenly changed tune and the first few notes of a slow melody echoed throughout the room. I pulled Bella close to me wrapping my arms around her. She felt absolutely perfect pressed against me; I never wanted to let her go. With the back of my fingertips I traced along the top of her eyebrow and down her cheek. Her eyes sparkled as she sighed into my hand. We danced quietly for a few seconds enjoying the feel of our bodies embracing each other. I nuzzled my head in the crook of her neck breathing in her sweet scent. "Quiero que esta cancin dure para siempre." I whispered, my lips tracing the curve of her ear, "I want this song to last forever." She sucked in her breath and with a shaky voice she answered, "Me too." "I have something for you." I placed a small kiss along her jaw line. "You do?"
- 136 -

"Yes," I reached into my pocket and closed my hand around a small silver bracelet that I had purchased earlier, "well, it's not really for you but" I pulled it out and placed it in her hand. She looked down at her hand, at back up to me in amazement. I had bought a silver baby bracelet. It had a small circle charm that was stamped with baby hands and baby feet. "Oh Edward! It's beautiful!" she gasped and held the bracelet up for a closer look. "It's for our baby." I smiled pulling her close to me again. She hugged me tightly and kissed me on the cheek. "I love it! Thank you so much!" Her voice shook and I could tell she was fighting back the urge to cry. I brushed my cheek lightly back and forth against hers; I didn't want her to cry. I just wanted her to know how much she and the baby meant to me. "I will do anything for you." I whispered lovingly into her ear, "for both of you." She held onto me tightly, a shiver ran though her body and a small moan escaped her, "I don't know how I got so lucky," she spoke in a low husky voice, "how we got so lucky." And I knew she didn't mean me and her, she meant her and the baby. I thought my heart would burst at the force of love I was feeling for her, I clung to her, willing my hands to be steady. "I'm the lucky one." I whispered.

Won't you press that little button and review please! :)

- 137 -

Chapter 15
We meet again! I swear there were so many interruptions this week, it took me longer than usual to finish this chapter. Enjoy! Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight. I own all the football knowledge. :)

EPOV Two days before the end of the school year the Senior class was let out early for Senior Day. We all wandered around campus signing yearbooks, saying goodbye to our teachers, and hanging out with friends. The majority of us met up in the library including Bella and I. We were hanging out by the computers, Bella was talking animatedly to some girls in our Calculus class about graduation and I was browsing the web looking for apartments in Pennsylvania. I couldn't believe some of the prices a one bedroom apartment was going for. Everything was beyond my price range and those rare ones that were decent all wanted huge deposits which I didn't have. I was becoming beyond frustrated, and with each passing day I could see Bella becoming more and more nervous. Feeling a little desperate I quickly closed one browser window and opened another, maybe a studio apartment would work for the time being I didn't notice the man in the suit until he was standing right next to me. In one hand he held a cell phone, in the other, a briefcase. Glancing up from the computer I saw several classmates staring at us with curiosity. The man flipped open his cell phone glanced down into it and then back at me. I frowned wishing he would back up, he was invading my personal space beyond my comfort zone and I didn't like it. "Edward Cullen?" My head snapped back up in his direction at the sound of my name coming from his lips, I could see out of the corner of my eye Bella pausing in mid sentence and looking over at us.
- 138 -

"Yes?" I turned my head slightly and looked up at the man. The man held out his hand to shake mine. I shook his hand in greeting and rose from my seat. "My name is Howard Fisher, I am here in behalf of Mack Brown, may I speak to you in private?" he handed me a small business card. Sudden worry and fear washed over me and I immediately thought something bad had happened to my parents, it was either that or Coach Swan was trying to have me arrested. Mr. Fisher noticed my discomfort right away and brought his palm up in a "stop" fashion. "Please don't worry Mr. Cullen, everything is fine, I would just like to have a few words with you if I may." I nodded quickly glancing over at Bella. Her eyes were wide with fear and I smiled at her to let her know I was alright. Mr. Fisher led me over to one of the small enclosed study rooms in the library. The walls were soundproof but made of glass so everyone was watching us, including Bella and the librarian. "Mr. Cullen, I am not sure if you are familiar with Mr. Mack Brown, please allow me to explain why I am here," he snapped open his briefcase and pulled out a large manila envelope, "Mr. Brown is the head coach for the University of Texas Longhorns football team. He has been tracking your playing for several months now and is extremely interested in offering you a position on his team." My head began to spin at Mr. Fisher's words. I finally peeked down into the small card in my hand. The Orange Longhorn logo was emblazoned on the left hand corner and Howard Fisher's name was written in bold black letters, underneath were the words: Longhorn recruiter My pulse began to quicken. "This offer is not given to just anyone as Mr. Brown is extremely picky about who plays for his team. The Longhorns are four time national champions and only the most elite players are selected to represent our University. Only the most elite, Mr. Cullen, are chosen. Out of those few, only a handful are given what I am about to
- 139 -

offer you." Mr. Fisher reached into his briefcase again and pulled out a huge legal looking packet. He adjusted some of the papers and slid it across the table until it was directly in front of me. "These forms indicate what Mr. Brown and the Longhorns are offering you." With his pen, Mr. Fisher pointed to the first paragraph at the top of the page, "Mack Brown and the University of Texas are offering you a complete scholarship to play for and attend our University. All and every expense will be provided. If you accept you will be staying at the dorms reserved especially for our players with your own room and all furnishings included. You will have complete access to the Longhorn's fitness center which is open on a 24 hour basis. You will have free use of the campus's transportation system including being able to check out one of the 15 private vehicles available to our players. All expenses for your education will be covered including tuition, books, food expenses, school supplies, and tutors. A generous spending allowance will be awarded based on your commitment and loyalty to our team." Mr. Fisher paused letting his words sink in. I remained frozen in my seat, was this some kind of sick joke? "Mr. Cullen? Are you still with me?" I blinked and nodded, I could see the whispering going on in full force behind the glass walls. "You are expected to maintain a C+ average, but by looking at your transcripts and SAT scores I don't believe that will be a problem. " Mr. Fisher moved some papers aside and pointed to another formal looking document. "It is imperative that you decide within the next day or so if you would like to accept Mr. Brown's offer. Training season begins next Monday and there are two quarterback slots to fill. Enclosed in the small envelope is a plane ticket scheduled to leave Sunday morning. Playing for the Longhorns is a year round commitment, you will be expected to eat, breathe, and live Longhorn football. You will receive two weeks off at the end of the season to do as you wish; otherwise you are expected to remain on campus at all times unless there is an emergency."
- 140 -

I squinted my eyes at the papers in front of me, would attending the birth of my baby be considered an emergency? I shook my head hoping to clear the fog surrounding my brain. I looked up at the glass walls and right into Bella's eyes. She was watching me, her arms wrapped around her own waist. Her eyes were masked with worry. There was no way I could leave herright? "My number is on my card, Mr. Cullen, please don't hesitate to call me if you have any questions. I will be expecting your call by Saturday evening, even if you wish to decline the offer." Mr. Fisher rose from his seat and snapped his briefcase shut. He stared right into my eyes his expression deadly serious, "I hope you realize Mr. Cullen, exactly was has been offered to you here today. Longhorn quarterbacks have a 90% guarantee to be drafted into the NFL. This is a complete free ride on us." He picked up his briefcase and walked out of the room. I stared dumbly at the papers in front of me, Mr. Fisher's words still ringing in my ears. This was no joke, right here in front of me was the chance in a lifetime, something I've always dreamed about. Yet I couldn't be excited, the sound of footsteps entering the room broke through the silence. Bella was standing beside me and she slowly picked up one of the papers in her hand. I remained silent knowing that she was reading it. Her hands began shaking after a few seconds and I could hear her breathing as if she had been running. "Oh Edward." She whispered placing her hand on my shoulder. I turned slightly and looked up into her eyes. She was glowing, her skin absolutely radiant, and her black eyes sparkling with pride. A single tear slid down her cheek and she smiled at me. I rose from my chair grabbing her roughly to me in a hug. Her body trembled against mine and she tightened her arms around my shoulders. "You did it." She breathed, "you did it."

BPOV A complete full scholarship, that's what Edward had on the table in front of him. I was so proud of him. Looking over his shoulder at the papers on the table, every single expense you could think of and then some was being taken care of along with
- 141 -

the quarterback position for the University of Texas. This was exactly what he had been waiting for, what he needed. My tears weren't because I was sad, just the opposite, I was so incredibly happy for him. My heart full of love and admiration, he deserved this, every single thing they were offering him, he deserved. He wasn't excited, I could tell, he was torn. Everything he ever dreamed of was sitting on the table in front of him but it was being overshadowed by our situation. I bit down on my bottom lip as I hugged him, regret overflowing throughout me reminding me once again just how bad I had screwed everything up. I had to convince him to accept this, I just had to. I pulled back from his arms and looked back into his eyes my body bracing for the battle I knew I was going to have to fight. "Belladon't." Edward's eyes held a pained expression as he shook his head at me. "I have too," I begged, "You have to do this." "No." his voice grave, his eyes solemn. "You have to." I pushed the hair out of my eyes pleading with him. "I don't want to talk about it anymore." He shoved the chair roughly against the table and stalked out of the library. The entire room fell silent when I stepped back out into the library; I clutched Edward's papers against my chest as I moved past the silent figures. Once outside my eyes scanned the school grounds rapidly trying to figure out which way he had gone. I didn't have to look far; he was leaning against the red brick wall of the math building. His eyes were closed, his chin tilted up as he pressed his head into the wall behind him. My heart lurched at the sight of him struggling, I had finally had enough, it was time for me to own up to my mistakes despite what my heart wanted, I needed to let my brain win. I marched right up to him and pushed the papers into his chest with all the force I could muster. He jerked in surprise his eyes growing wide at my aggressiveness. "Edward!" I hissed narrowing my eyes at him, "stop acting like a prick and just take these papers. You are not going to Penn State with me, I don't need you there.
- 142 -

You need to play football, you belong here." I pointed at the papers he held in his arms, "I am not asking, I'm telling you, you are going to take this offer!" He blinked at me in rapid succession; my words must have stung because his hands shook as he pushed himself away from the wall. "They want me to leave Sunday." He said blankly. I felt my breath escape me in a large whoosh. I had no idea he would have to leave so quickly. Trying to regain my composure I looked across towards the lockers where a group of kids had burst into boisterous laughter. "Sunday will be perfect." I made my voice as low and steady as it would go, my brain chanting over and over in my head, I will not cryI will not cryI will not cry. He studied me for a few seconds longer, his eyes searching my face for answers I knew I didn't have. My heart kept begging me to plead with him to stay. I held my ground, willing my brain to take control. I knew without a doubt that Edward had to go. "I better go pack then." He brushed past me pausing just for a second as our shoulder's touched, "I'll see you tomorrow?" he tilted his head to the side not meeting my eyes. I nodded only once, "Tomorrow." I didn't dare look at him; I knew if I allowed myself to look at him I would not be able to hold back the tears any longer. I watched him walk away feeling like the worst person in the world. Somehow I managed to make it home in one piece. No one was there; I threw my jacket down on the foyer table and headed for the dining room. There was a small yellow folder sitting on the table and I briefly glanced on it as I walked by. It had my name on it. Out of curiosity I opened it, inside was a plane ticket and my new dorm room key from Penn State. A welcome letter outlined the directions and location I was supposed to be at to be picked up from the airport. I picked up the ticket examining it carefully. July 24 was stamped on it. I tossed it back on the table with disinterest. I wanted nothing more than to just go crawl into bed and sleep, pretend this nightmare wasn't happening.

- 143 -

Graduation felt like something out of the Twilight Zone. My body was there but my mind was a million miles away. There was absolutely nothing joyous about this occasion, in fact I felt sick to my stomach through the entire ceremony. Edward stood silently by my side the entire time, he held my hand and didn't let it go until it was time for us to accept our diplomas. When the Principal announced us as the graduated class of 2009 everyone around us erupted into cheers. I stood there quietly watching the chaos around me when suddenly Edward turned to face me. He didn't say anything, just lifted his hand and stroked my cheek softly. My heart began aching all over again at his touch and I raised my own hand placing it over his, I looked up into those chocolate brown eyes knowing he was leaving tomorrow. "Siempre tendr mi corazn." He whispered brushing his lips with mine. Before I could ask him what he meant Jasper and Ricky were upon us whooping and yelling congratulating us both. Edward and I pulled apart letting our friends surround us with their happiness. I watched quietly as Edward's teammates surrounded him, he stood tall and looked at ease smiling happily at their good wishes. He was still a leader, a force to be reckoned with, the University of Texas was going to be very lucky to have him. When it was all over Edward and I opted to skip all the parties that were going on and just went out to dinner. We ate mostly in silence exchanging a few words here and there. Not wanting to end the evening we lent up back where we always seemed to be drawn, we sat on the grass of the empty football field. The sun was setting so a soft hazy yellow glow surrounded the field. Edward had pulled an old blanket from the trunk of his Volvo and spread it out for us. We both laid on our backs watching the sky turn dark and pointing out the first flickerings of the stars to each other. I finally worked up enough nerve to ask him about his flight. "What time does your plane leave?" I asked still staring up into the night sky. "I need to be there by ten, the plane leaves at one." We both turned our heads at the same time to look at each other. Our eyes locked, the moonlight splashed little slivers of light across his eyes. He reached out for me with one hand rolling himself to his side. He wrapped his arm around my waist pulling me closer to him so that our bodies touched. Propping his head up on his elbow he leaned down and kissed me, his lips traveling up my neck and across my
- 144 -

cheek until they finally rested on my mouth. He felt so good, his mouth on mine, his hand around me. I let my heart win this one and I kissed him back with all the emotion I could pour into it. My mouth opened to his and I welcomed his tongue letting it mingle with my own. I pulled on his bottom lip sucking gently. My hands spread out across his chest and I could feel his heart racing as my fingers traveled down his shirt. Edward was kissing me with a passion but he was still holding back, I could tell, his hand never moved from my waist, and his mouth never left mine. I knew this was our last night together and I didn't want to end it like this. I closed my eyes digging deep down inside me for the courage I knew I would need, I slowly grabbed his hand that was resting at my waist. Holding his wrist I slid both our hands down until the palm of his hand rested on my bottom. I pushed into his wrist encouraging him to touch me. He frowned and let out a soft moan against my mouth but didn't pull his hand away. I drove my tongue deeper into his mouth, tangling one of my hands in his hair. I wanted him to want me, I wanted him to pull himself on top of me and make love to me. I wanted it so bad I broke away from his kiss and whispered into his ear. "Make love to me Edward" He didn't answer instead he let out a half moan half whimper and without hesitating he rolled himself on top of me.

EPOV My heart felt like it was breaking in half. In less than 24 hours I was leaving behind the woman I was in love with, the woman who was carrying my child. I had made that call to Mr. Fisher last night letting him know I was accepting his offer. He sounded pleased and told me he would pick me up at the airport tomorrow. This was my last night with Bella. I could feel Bella's soft hands on my face and on my chest as she kissed me. Her body curved against mine perfectly, we were made for each other. I tried to just relish in her kiss and not long for anything more even though my body was already betraying me, but when Bella guided my hand down to the curve of her bottom and left it there all I wanted to do was take her in my arms and bury myself in her softness.
- 145 -

She was kissing me deeper now fisting her hand in my hair. I fought against the urge to grind my hips into hers. I held onto her tighter now wishing just this once I could tell her I loved her. "Make love to me Edward" Her words sent a jolt right up my spine and not being able to wait a second longer I rolled over and raised myself above her. Tears stung the back of my eyes as I captured her mouth with mine, I wanted her to feel what she was doing to me but I didn't want her to know what she was doing to me. I didn't want her to know that I had no fucking idea how I was going to live without seeing her, touching her, smelling her. I let my hands travel over her body. Her pretty summer dress was being held up with two thin straps tied into bows at her shoulders that my fingers easily managed to pull them apart. I kissed her bare shoulders and slowly moved down to her breasts. She gasped and trembled beneath me. My free hand slid up the curve of her leg behind the back of her knee and then up her thigh feeling her silky skin beneath my fingertips. Her hands had found their way under my t-shirt and were running up and down my back. Knowing that we didn't have a lot of time coupled with the fact that I really didn't want to wait any longer, I somehow managed to unzip my pants and position myself at her entrance. Her eyes burned into mine, her mouth slightly open, she could feel me, she was waiting for me. Without breaking her gaze I slowly pushed into her. She drew in a large shaky breath and arched her body upwards to mine. Together we moved, not letting go of each other. With each thrust I could see her getting closer and closer to the edge, I kept up my slow pace, wanting to make this moment last forever. There was nothing rushed, nothing frantic about our actions. It was slow, soft, and sweet. Finally my name escaped her lips in a soft whisper and I could feel her walls tightening around me. Holding nothing back I let myself come with her, my hands fisting the blanket underneath us. The stars continued to flicker in the darkness around us as we sat up. I pulled her close to me, her back leaning against my chest, my hand lingering protectively over her stomach. Bella tilted her head back, resting it on my shoulder, her eyes closed. I kissed the top of her head breathing in the candy and flowers for the last time. "Bella," I whispered against her hair.
- 146 -

"Hmmm?" her voice was soft and she kept her eyes closed. "Mr. Fisher gave me the name of a website; it was made especially for the family of the players. It's supposed to keep you up to date on what we are doing." Bella opened her eyes and tilted her head up a bit more to look at me. "A website?" I nodded. "Thank you." She closed her eyes once again.

The airport was bustling with people as I made my way through the crowd. My luggage had already been checked in so I headed for the terminal. I sighed and looked down at my cell phone checking the time; I still had 30 minutes to spare. I sunk down into one of the empty seats and watched the people go by. I suddenly wished I hadn't told Bella not to come with me here. She had wanted to come with me, to see me off, but at the time I didn't think I could handle it, leaving with her here. But now watching all the people saying goodbye and reuniting with each other made a lump form in my throat. I wanted her here with me now. I shifted my gaze over to the windows. The sky was clear and bright blue, not a cloud in sight. I wondered briefly how hot it would be in Texas. Still staring outside a crazed thought entered my mind, I could still stay, I didn't have to go. I could just get up and walk right out of here and go home, nobody would be the wiser. I glanced around me suspiciously as if the other passengers could read my thoughts. I shifted in my seat, looking down at the ground, actually contemplating my idea when my eyes focused on a pair of feet right in front of my own. Bella was standing right in front of me. My heart leaped, and relief washed over me. Before she could say a word I stood up and crushed her to me in a big bear hug. Despite everything that was happening to us, my girl knew me, she knew me better than I knew myself. "I had to come." She said apologetically, her head resting on my chest. "I couldn't let you go, without saying goodbye." I held her tighter, "Reina, thank you."
- 147 -

"Edward?" she pulled back slightly. I looked down into her eyes, she was smiling. "Don't forget to tighten your stance." She whispered. I chuckled. This was so my fucking girl, talking about football right here in the airport just as were about to leave each other. "I won't." I promised running my hand down her silky curls one last time. "And make sure you plant your feet." I kissed the top of her head. "Feet will be firmly planted." The flight attendant began announcing the rows ready for boarding. It was time for me to go. Bella squeezed me one last time; I kept my arms around her, waiting for the very last second before I let her go. Finally my row was called. I nuzzled my head in her neck one last time. "Siempre tendr mi corazn." Her mouth brushed against the curve of my ear. My heart skipped a beat, "You will always have my heart." My eyes searched hers in wonder; she had somehow figured that out on her own. She kissed me on my cheek. "Google can do many things." She smiled squeezing my hand and letting me go. I walked past the flight attendant and down the tarmac turning to look at her just one more time. She was still smiling and blew me a kiss. With that I rounded the corner and out of sight.

So....what do you think? Any reviews? :) Press that little green button please!

- 148 -

Chapter 16
We meet again! Be warned this chapter is going to mess with your head. Don't forget to review when you're done. Enjoy! Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight. I own all the football knowledge. :)

Mack Brown rose from his chair sighing, he walked over to the window. Peering out into the clear Texas sky he knew this was going to be a gamble. He didn't like it. He turned on his heels and walked over to Howard's office. Howard glanced up quickly from his computer gesturing Mack over with a wave of his hand. "It's almost finished." Mack made his way over to Howard's chair; he stood behind him and focused his eyes on the screen. He raised his eyebrows at what he saw. "You're pretty good." "Thanks," Howard's fingers flew quickly over his keyboard; the screen flickered and ended up on another page. "It was easy once the meds kicked in." Mack let out a low whistle, "Interesting" then he frowned, "Are you sure no one else can see this?" "Unless she gives it out to the entire free world, no I don't believe anyone else will see this." "Let's try to keep it that way, will you? Go ahead and load it." "Sure thing," Howard began typing new commands into the keyboard, "One other thing Mack" Mack turned his head slightly a questioning look in his eyes, "What's that?" "Charlotte needs to be paid."
- 149 -

Mack crossed his arms his features hardening and began heading for the door. "I'll take care of it." Howard nodded slowly, "Why are we doing this again?" Mack sighed deeply, the lines in his forehead more pronounced than before. "Favor for a friend." Was all he said before exiting the room.

BPOV The first three weeks without Edward were the most miserable I had ever spent in my life. My days were long and boring. I spent every waking moment checking my cell phone and pouring over my laptop screen hoping to see an update at the website address Edward had given me. So far the Longhorn's website had proven to be useless since all it contained was a list of the player's names; Edward's name wasn't even on there yet. Still, at least ten times a day I found myself hitting the refresh key. I was leaving to Penn State in exactly a week and a half, I was nervous and I had to admit, a little excited. Edward managed to text me at least twice a day those first two weeks, usually early morning and late at night when he returned back to his dorm from training camp. This last week his texts had slowed down and only came once late at night, I figured he must be getting back exhausted as his texts soon began to say the same thing each evening. Missing you reina, going to try and catch a few zzz's before practice tomorrow. The last two nights he hadn't texted me at all, I had to hold back the panic that threatened to spill over and reassure myself that his entire day and most of the evenings were spent on the field leaving him little time to do anything else but eat and sleep. Sighing I dropped down onto my bed flipping through the pages of a magazine I had bought earlier in the day. I needed something to distract me. The sky was beginning to darken as the sun made its way over the horizon. I shifted uncomfortably to my side. This pregnancy had begun to wreak physical havoc on me, for the last two days I had felt like my body was on pins and needles; I was also
- 150 -

having a terrible time sleeping at night. Not being able to relax I rose from my bed and headed down the stairs to the kitchen. Peering into the fridge I grabbed the last yogurt from the shelf. I peeled off the lid and grabbed a spoon. I walked over to the living room picking up the remote with my free hand. I flipped through the channels and ate my yogurt in bored silence. There was nothing good on television. The yogurt began to give me heartburn after the fifth spoonful so I left it half full on the coffee table. The soapnet channel caught my interest and my hand lingered on the remote as I stared at the screen. I huffed is disdain as yet another leading lady fought with her lover. Despite all the turmoil the characters went through on these soaps the women always got their man in the end. I turned off the TV in disgust and headed back upstairs, my Dad was back on the Forks High football field holding his own training camp for the upcoming school year. I couldn't set foot back on that field even if I had wanted too. The thought of standing out there watching a whole new set of players run around that field, the very field where Edward and I made love, made my heart ache, I didn't think I could ever go back there again. By habit I hit the refresh key on my laptop as I walked by my desk not expecting to see anything new. The screen flickered and blinked and finally became clear. A whole new set of links and information lay before me. Excitedly I sat down in my desk chair and began to read. The home page now contained a welcome statement and various links all leading to different areas regarding Longhorn football. I clicked on the first link. It was a page dedicated to all the staff and players. Each name had their picture, number, and position they played. I scrolled past the coach's names and pictures but slowed down as the player's faces began popping up on my screen. Suddenly there he was. Edward's smiling face looked back at me from the screen. It was just a head shot but he looked adorable. I stared into his eyes trying to decipher his mood. He looked genuinely happy, his dimples were showing and his messy hair was sticking up all over the place. Underneath his picture was his name, Edward Cullen: Quarterback No. 9. I bounced happily in my seat and clicked on another link. This one didn't have a title and the page took a few seconds longer to load than the other. I glanced out the window to the trees impatiently waiting for the screen to finish loading. Finally I could see why it took so long; it seemed to be in a scrapbook fashion. There were various pictures looking like they had been scattered across the screen in snapshot
- 151 -

style. Each picture appeared to be framed and had a little caption below it. It looked like a get together of some kind; there were pictures of the players playing pool, lifting weights, arm wrestling. I scrolled down the page my eyes scanning the pictures quickly looking for Edward. The pictures slowly went from what it looked like a small get together into a full fledged party. Things began looking a little wilder; I noticed the beer cans in the player's hands and sudden presence of females in all the pictures. My heart began to beat a little faster; confused I began to wonder if the link to these pictures was some kind of accident, why would this be a site for the families when it was showing these guys with girls on their laps and beer in their hands? I frowned, peering into the computer screen again. Sudden nausea washed over me causing me to clutch at my stomach with one hand, my knuckles on the other turning white from gripping my desk. Edward didn't drink, why was there a can in his hand? And who was the blond propped up in his lap? I couldn't tear my eyes away from the screen, Edward was sitting next to another player, both were smiling. He held a beer can in one hand the other was wrapped around the waist of a scantily clad stunning blond girl sitting on his lap. She was wearing a black cami and denim short shorts. The girl wasn't looking at the camera; she was smiling down at Edward with a look of pure infatuation all over her face, her long hair hung around her face and partially down Edward's shoulder. There was another picture right below that one. My hands shook and I tried to hold down the hysteria that was welling up inside me. This picture had some other player waving at the camera but that wasn't what I was looking at, in the background I could see clear as day, Edward and the blond girl wrapped up in a tight embrace. Her face was nestled in the crook of his neck, her hands wrapped around his shoulders. He had one hand pressed against her lower back the other tangled up in her hair. His eyes were closed. It was the last picture that made my stomach turn, the girl was in Edward's arms, she was laughing, throwing her head back. Edward was laughing with her, his head pointed downward, his forehead leveled right at her cleavage. I pushed back from my desk frantically, no longer being able to contain the heaves that clutched at my stomach I ran for the bathroom stumbling along my way. I was gripping the sides of the toilet in sheer terror as I emptied the contents of my stomach. When there was nothing left I moved over to the sink and splashed water on my face. Staring at my reflection in the mirror I choked back a sob trying to figure out what was going on. My hair was matted around my face, my eyes red and wild, I didn't know what to do. I wanted to race to my phone and call Edward to ask
- 152 -

him what those pictures were all about, but at the same time I didn't dare, for fear that he would tell me what I didn't want to hear. Instead I called Alice. "Hello?" "Alice? Can you talk?" my voice sounded squeaky to my own ears. "Bella? What's wrong? You sound terrible, do you have a cold?" "Alice," I could feel the hysteria rising up inside me again and I struggled to maintain control, "I don't know what to do." The words came out in a half gasp. "What? Bella, are you okay? What's wrong?" "Edward," I couldn't hold back to sobs that finally burst through, my body shook with them, "There are pictures." "Bella?" Alice's voice tinged on hysteria herself, she didn't know what I was talking about, "What's wrong with Edward? What pictures? Is he okay?" I continued to cry over the phone not being able to answer her. "Bella! Please, Bella, tell meBellatake a deep breath. Is Papa Charlie there?" I could hear her shuffling around what sounded like papers as if she were searching for something, then I heard her typing, "Shit!" she muttered under her breath. "Bella, are you still there?" She had seen them, I could tell by the tone of her voice. "Yes." I managed to gasp between sobs. "Bella, it's the website, right?" I nodded into the phone even though I knew she couldn't see me. She knew what I was talking about now. Alice stayed quiet for a few seconds longer; I could hear her typing again, "Asshole." She muttered.
- 153 -

"Bella, listen to me," her voice was low and grave; I could tell she was trying to contain her anger, "turn off your laptop right now." I sobbed again, I didn't want to get near my laptop, my eyes would lock onto those pictures, I just knew it. I squeezed my eyes shut and with a trembling hand I held down the power button until I heard the laptop click off. "Is it off?" Alice's voice was soft. "Yes." I could feel my body go numb and my brain shut down. I sank down onto my bed, pressing my face onto my pillow. "Bella, I am going to hang up for two minutes and then I am going to call you right back. Promise me you will not move from where you are, and you will answer your phone the second it rings okay?" "Okay." I whispered shutting my eyes. It felt like only seconds before my phone began vibrating. "Yeah?" I didn't bother opening my eyes. "Bella, Papa Charlie is on his way home now. Bella? Are you okay?" "Alice," I squeaked, "Don't hang up." "I won't, I promise." "Bella!" I could hear my Dad storming into the house his footsteps thudding up the stairs, "Bella! Where are you?" My bedroom door flung open and he stood in the door frame with a wild look on his face. Seeing him standing there, my brain flashed back to each and every time my Dad had been there for me. A scraped knee from when I fell off my bike, a cut finger from when I accidently sliced through my hand instead of the vegetables I had been chopping, a broken heart? "Daddy." I sobbed. The expression on his face changed and he came over to my bed sitting down on it. He hugged me letting me cry against him. Picking up my phone he began talking to Alice.
- 154 -

"I'm here now." He stayed quiet for a long time listening, a couple of huffs and grunts breaking the silence. Eventually he said goodbye and hung up. "Bella," he patted my back a bit awkwardly, "Alice will call you later on okay?" I nodded trying to control my breathing to even steady breaths. My Dad paused struggling with himself; finally he frowned and pushed back my hair that was matted around my face. "You're going to be okay Bella." He said with finality, "You're going to get through this; we'll get through this together. We don't need him," he paused, "We'll be fine, just the three of us." I blinked through my tears at his words and tried to swallow the lump in my throat, finally I managed to nod once. "Get some sleep, sweetheart, you need your rest. We'll deal with this in the morning." He pulled my comforter up around my shoulders tucking me in. He walked out of my room flicking the light off behind him but leaving my door open. I could hear him banging around his room and pounding down the stairs obviously in anger. I rolled over and shut my eyes willing my body to rest. Finally after tossing and turning I fell into a fitful sleep. The same nightmare haunted me all night, crashing over me with such a force that I struggled to breathe. I was lost, or thought I was lost, my heart would pound and an awful rushing sound filled my ears. Edward was in my nightmare, I kept trying to call out to him, to make him turn around to face me. When he finally turned, his eyes were hard and cold and his arms were wrapped around the blond girl. It ended the same way, she was laughing at me, her voice high, her eyes wide with loathing. "No!" I would scream over and over again, "No!" I sat up on my bed breathing heavily, it was pitch black, I couldn't see. My eyes shifted wildly around the blackness trying to focus. "No!" I said out loud, a sharp paralyzing pain stabbed through my body, I clutched the sheets around me. Another wave of pain hit me with such a force I gasped and tried pull the covers off. My body felt as if it was on fire and I couldn't move my
- 155 -

arms. Slowly I became aware of the wet sticky feeling along my legs as they trembled uncontrollably. "No." My voice nothing more than a whisper now. I struggled to reach my lamp at my bedside only to have to stop to clutch at my stomach as the pain washed over me again, tripled in force. "Oh!" Something was wrong, something was very very wrong. My cell phone fell to the floor as my hand desperately searched the nightstand for my lamp. I gasped again using all the force I had, nearly knocking the lamp over in order to reach the switch. Light flooded the room, everything was red, bright bright red. All I could hear was the screaming, I didn't even know it was my own voice. I wanted it to stop. The screaming continued to fill my ears. My Dad appeared in my range of focus, he looked terrified. I wanted to ask him what was wrong but that awful screaming wouldn't stop. People were rushing around me now; I could hear an ambulance siren, someone telling me to breathe. I couldn't figure out why the screaming was still going on? I wanted to place my hands over my ears but for some reason I couldn't move my hands. One of the people put a clear plastic mask over my mouth and nose reminding me to take large breaths. Someone gave me a shot and told me it would be okay. I shook my head back and forth trying to get away, I saw my Dad's face again, he was crying but looked so angry at the same time. I wanted to ask him why he was so sad. I wanted to tell him I was sorry, I didn't mean to hurt him. I wanted to close my eyes and go back to sleep. I wanted to forget about this whole nightmare. But mostly, I wanted Edward...

The lights in the room were dim, the machines making small beeping sounds next to me. There were white square tiles on the ceiling with small wavy grey lines going through them. I blinked and tried to swallow, my throat hurt like hell and my mouth was dry, so dry. I turned my head to the side. My Dad was sleeping in the chair next to my bed. I turned to other side; there was Alice asleep in another chair, curled up in a small ball her sweatshirt tucked around her. My mind flashed back to the events that led me here, the pictures, the blond, the
- 156 -

screaming, and the blood, all that red blood. I began frantically looking around the room. I reached for Alice, trying to call out her name, my mouth opened but no sound came out. My frenzied movements awakened both my Dad and Alice; they both jumped up out of their chairs at the same time and hovered over me. My Dad put his hand on my arm, Alice leaned down bringing her face near mine pressing her cheek against the top of my head, they both offered words of comfort in low tones. "It's okay Bella." "We're here Bella." Alice began stroking my hair humming in her soft soothing voice; I looked up into my Dad's face and then Alice. Both looked as if they had aged drastically, large bags under their eyes, their faces heavy with worry. I tried to talk again, "Bababy?" I managed to croak out my hand sliding over to my stomach. My Dad closed his eyes his face contorted in pain, Alice's eyes began to water and I could see her swallowing hard. "AAlice?" I half hissed my eyes pleading with her, begging her to tell me. Slowly she shook her head, "I'm so sorry Bella" She whispered softly, her voice trailing off with a sob. "You lost the baby." I squeezed my eyes shut pressing my head into the pillow, trying to block out her words. This couldn't be happening. "We almost lost you Bella." My Dad's voice was gruff and it caught in his throat, "You've been asleep for two days." The nurse walked in just then and began checking me over. She noticed my agitated state and began speaking quietly to my Dad. I turned to Alice clutching her hand tightly in mine. "Edward?" I whispered my eyes pleading with hers. Alice shook her head at me, "Don't' worry about that now."
- 157 -

"Alice, Edwardhe has to know." I knew in my heart he would come, someone had to tell him. I needed him here with me. "Please Alice." I begged. Alice brushed away her tears angrily and turned her back to my Dad and the nurse so they couldn't see her. She leaned down slightly and looked me straight in the eyes. "Edward knows." She placed her hand on my shoulder, "Papa Charlie called him, he said" she drew in a deep shaky breath, "he said it was for the best, and that he didn't want to see you anymore." I stared at her in disbelief. My heart thudded in my chest. "No." I whispered furiously, "No Alice, that can't be right. Edward wouldn't say that, I know him, he just wouldn't!" "Bella." Alice pressed her fingers into my shoulder, "I called his dorm myself, a girl answered. Edward wouldn't talk to me." Dry heaves wracked through my body and I gasped for air. Alice jumped back alarmed, a frightened yelp escaped her. The nurse and my Dad were at my side immediately. I thrashed around on the hospital bed in despair my mouth opened to scream but not being able to make a sound. Two more nurses rushed into the room. They were all talking rapidly, one injected something into my IV, the other began taking my pulse, and finally the room went black again.

EPOV My head felt like shit when I opened my eyes. My room was dark and cold, the window was wide open the breezes making the blinds rustle noisily. My legs were shaky as I tried to stand, I was in my boxers, I frowned wondering when I had changed. Switching on my light, I hobbled over to the window, slid it shut, and closed the blinds. I sunk down onto the small overstuffed chair in my room running my hands through my hair. I pressed my hands into my temples briefly remembering the pool
- 158 -

game in the rec room with the rest of the players. Someone started an arm wrestling match and beer began being passed around. I remembered being offered a drink but declined and opted for lemonade instead. Things got a little fuzzy after that. More lemonade was given to me, music began blaring over the stereo system, and suddenly girls were everywhere. The guys whooping and laughing around me made the room spin, and I had to sit down. Girls kept sitting on my lap and I kept pushing them off, who were they anyways? A tall blond wouldn't take no for an answer, wrapping her arm around my neck. She had a high pitched laugh that hurt my ears. Someone thrust a beer can in my hand and everything was so blurry and I felt so wired I just didn't care anymore. I didn't even know how I made it back to my room or how long I had been there. I stood up and flipped open my laptop, the bright screen made my head pound harder. I stared at the time, 9:15pm. I moved the cursor over it, July 17th. "Shit." My eyes widened in surprise, it had been two days since the rec room party. I searched my desk for my phone not being able to find it anywhere. "Fuck!" Where the hell was my phone? I grabbed my gym bag in annoyance tossing everything out onto my bed, no phone. I must have left it in the rec room. Still feeling a little uneasy, I sank down onto my bed again. Two daysI had lost two days; Coach Brown was going to be pissed. Sudden apprehension washed over me, I hadn't talked to Bella in two days, she would be worried. I hastily grabbed the room phone and dialed her cell phone number, it rang and rang and then sent me to voicemail. I hung up quickly and redialed her house silently hoping she would answer. "Hello?" Coach Swan's gruff voice sounded tired, I must have woken him up. "Hi Coach, is Bella home?" "No." his voice suddenly changed to a much harsher tone, "No, she is not home. She's out." I frowned into the phone at the hostility which was obviously being directed to me.
- 159 -

"Will she be back soon?" I pushed back my hair with my hand trying to get it off of my face. "No. She won't." something slammed hard in the background, "Edward, I'm only going to say this once so you better listen the fuck up. Bella does not want you to call her again; she wants nothing to do with you anymore. Don't call her, don't write, don't come here, you've done enough don't you think?" What the hell? I was frozen in my spot, my hand gripping the phone at the incredulity of his words. "Excuse me?" my voice sounded foreign to my own ears. "Bella doesn't want to see you anymore! Don't call here!" With that Coach slammed down the phone leaving me in stunned silence. I didn't know what the hell was going on but I was going to find out. With shaky fingers I dialed her cell phone again. This time it rang once and went straight to voicemail. "Bella, its Edward. Are you okay? Is everything okay? Call me back as soon as you get this please. Call my dorm room, I lost my cell. And BellaTe AmoI love you." I kept calling her for hours afterward, I even headed to the rec room to search for my cell phone in hopes that I would find it and maybe a message or two from her, but I had no such luck. I was still awake at 3 in the morning tossing and turning wrought with worry. What if something had happened to her? To the baby? I was up by 5; I went straight to the players rec room more determined than ever to find my phone. I was positive once I found it there would be a message from Bella explaining everything. To my surprise Coach Brown was already there sitting on one of the sofas, deep in thought. He looked up startled to see me but then gestured me over with a wave of his hand. "Cullen, you're up early." "Couldn't sleep." I had sat down beside him but my eyes still wandered around the room searching for my phone.
- 160 -

"Looking for something?" Coach began following my line of vision. "I lost my phone." "Don't worry about that Cullen, we'll get you a new one." I shook my head; I didn't want a new one. Coach Brown shifted in his seat and pushed back his glasses. He turned to look at me. "Cullen, how important is a football career to you?" I sighed heavily, I didn't want to have this conversation right now, my mind was too much of a mess to deal with my consequences of missing two days of practice. "Important." My voice was flat, uncaring. "There's something I have to give you Cullen, but before I do that there's something you need to know, I've been in the position you are now. I had a chance to play pro ball but I blew it, I blew it for a girl, a girl who left me once she found out I didn't make the team. I would do anything if I could take that all back." Coach Brown stared at me almost apologetically, "Don't throw your career away over a girl, Cullen, no matter how you feel about her." He placed a large envelope in my hand, stood up, and walked out of the rec room. I looked down at my hands. It was a telegram, from Forks. I pulled open the flap, a small flash of silver fell out of the envelope and down to the floor, there were only a few words typewritten on the paper, Edward, I've met someone new. I had an abortion. Don't call me.

I stared at the paper in my hands reading the words over and over in disbelief. I had an abortion. A red haze began to fill my head. Don't call me.

- 161 -

I reached down and scooped up the small piece of silver, it was the baby bracelet, the one I had given Bella for our baby on prom night. I stared at it, turning it over in my hand. I've met someone new. I fisted both the paper and bracelet in my hand and stood up. My mind was swimming, racing at a pace that was making me forget to breathe. Coach Swan's awful words earlier suddenly made sense. My blood began to boil. Something snapped inside of me, the Edward that I was before, now gone. Don't throw your career away over a girl, Cullen, no matter how you feel about her. I slammed my shoulder hard on the door of the rec room pushing it open. I started running, across the grass, heading for the track that was on the other side of the field. I had an abortion. I ran and ran, the paper and bracelet still fisted in my hand, the words tumbling over in my head, choking me, infuriating me. She didn't want me anymore. She had found someone else. I ran until my body physically gave out on me and I could run no more. I stood there for the longest time, a lone figure out on that track. I looked up at the sky, pushing down the emotions that were threatening to spill over. I walked slowly towards the showers located in the players club, carefully I slid the bracelet into my pocket, passing a large garbage can I threw the message away. I didn't need it, and I sure as fucking hell didn't need her. The hot spray of the shower washed over my back falling into little streams down my legs. My forehead was pressed against the cold tiles, my hands fisted on either side. I stood there until the water ran cold; wrapping a towel around my waist I went to my locker and changed into my practice uniform. Running out onto the field the hot sun was already beating down on us, my teammates were scattered around me stretching and warming up. I could see Coach Brown following me with his eyes. I ran right up to him. "I'm ready to play Coach..."
- 162 -

BPOV The air was chilly as I walked across campus drawing my hoodie closer to my body and around my head. The leaves that had been yellow just weeks before were now bright orange. Alice would be waiting for me back at our dorm later on for dinner. Football season was already underway and I knew I was lucky to be able to put my foot in door here at such a late notice. I pushed open the door to the Lasch building and stepped inside. The room was bustling with activity, people scurrying about talking and laughing as they worked. The copy machines were whirring at full force, spitting out sheet after sheet of fresh printed paper. I stood quietly for a few seconds taking in the scene before me. This was my chance to make a fresh start, to put the past behind me. A tall handsome dark haired man appeared before me, blocking my view of the room. "Isabella Swan?" I nodded, and he broke into a sparkling smile extending his hand out to me. "My name is Jacob Black, I'm the offensive assistant coach for the running backs here at Penn State. It's a pleasure to have you working here with us."

Are you okay? Still with me? I know, I know, it was tough to read. Hang in there! Reviews? You can yell at me if you want. LOL

- 163 -

Chapter 17
Nothing like writing in the middle of the night to get your blood pumping! Welcome back! Hope you enjoy what's about to transpire. Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight. I own all the football knowledge. :)

BPOV I walked down the hallway my heels making small clicking noises as they tapped against the ceramic floor; I don't know why I let Alice dress me these days. I was a 24 year old grown woman for God's sake, I should be able to dress myself. But nooooo, Alice claimed my fashion sense was beyond repair and I needed to look like the professional I was, so now here I sashayed down the hall wearing a pair of black Oscar de la Renta embroidered pumps that cost a small fortune. I did have to admit they looked pretty amazing with my St. John tweed suit. Normally I wouldn't dress up so much for work but today was the announcement, there were going to be journalists and news crews so I needed to look nice, no I needed to look like a knockout at Alice's insistence. Thankfully my position paid me a salary that allowed my indulgences, or should I say Alice's indulgences. I shook my head to myself with a small smile. We had come far, both Alice and I, in fact we were heading for the home stretch that was really not too far beyond our reach now. I quickly adjusted my silver barrette that was holding up my hair before turning the corner to the conference room. My hair was pulled up in a loose twist with small tendrils framing my face. I still wore very little makeup, none when I was on the field, but today I allowed a touch of powder, some pretty shimmer blush, and tinted moisturizer lip balm. I threw the lip balm in my Prada Cervo Shine satchel bag this morning so that I could touch it up as the day went on. Now handbags I knew, in fact they were my hobby; my closet had an entire shelf reserved for my beauties. Next to Prada, Gucci bags were my favorite. Reaching the wide wooden double doors of the conference room I took a quick breath to calm my nerves. I knew I shouldn't be nervous, I knew this stuff backwards and forward, I could recite it in my sleep. My hands reached out for the large brass handles and I pulled the doors open in one swift motion.
- 164 -

Everyone was standing around the large room mingling. We still had 20 minutes before the announcements were being made. I glanced around me, silently checking off the people I loved. Alice stood in the corner in her Yves Saint Laurent cashmere V-neck black dress and red pumps, she looked stunning, the dress hugging her every curve perfectly. I could tell Michael Jones our Executive Vice President was infatuated with her by the way he stood leaning into her every word, his eyes fixed hers intently. I held in my smile as Alice chatted away lightheartedly gesturing with her hands in front of her, oblivious to Michael's worshipful look. She was our Executive Vice President Brand Management/President of Charities; anything with our logo on it had to be approved by her. Believe me, nothing got by this girl. The huge 4 carat diamond ring on her right hand sparkled brilliantly with every movement she made. She was engaged to Jasper, he had asked her six months ago. They were going to have a winter wedding, her dream wedding, the one she had been planning since she was five. My eyes moved over to my Dad. He was standing next to Harry Sherman, Harry was sitting in one of the large brown leather conference chairs. My Dad leaned over Harry's shoulder as they both inspected some documents. Harry was our specialty coaches, he dealt with the strength and conditioning of our team. My Dad was the special teams' coach, something he had no intention of ever doing but I had convinced him otherwise. I still remembered the day I had burst through the door of our house in excitement when I told him that I had met Matthew Ferrell. His eyes grew wide at my words; they grew even wider when I told him about the special teams' position. He didn't want to leave Forks at first but we both knew there was no way in hell he would turn down that offer. Finally my eyes rested on Jacob Black, he was going to be promoted to head coach today. His back was to me, he stood by one of the large picture windows of the room talking to two of our front office interns. Jacob truly was a gorgeous man, with his dark wavy hair and exquisite brown eyes. His Armani suit had been tailored to fit him to a T. Even through the jacket you could see the outline of every muscle in his arms and legs. Women literally threw themselves at him on a daily basis but Jacob always turned them down, never letting his good looks go to his head. Jacob excelled at what he did, he had done a hell of a job back at Penn State, and it was no surprise to anyone when he was offered a position here in the NFL. A wave of affection washed over me when he turned his head to side and laughed. He was the first person who befriended me back at Penn State, he had shown me the ropes, showed me who the people were that I could count on and who would backstab you.
- 165 -

He stood by and cheered me on as I slowly climbed up the football ladder and openly bragged about my talents to Matthew Farrell our owner which led me to the position I was at now. Jacob turned finally, his eyes locking onto mine; he smiled broadly and excused himself from the interns. He walked over to me briskly holding both hands out once he reached me. "Here she is," he grinned, his voice booming throughout the room. Taking my hands he led me over to the conference table, "our newest offensive coordinator and assistant head coach." The room burst into applause at his words and I laughed, shaking my head at his lack of subtlety. "What about you?" I smiled, "Our newest Head Coach." Jacob laughed and modestly dismissed my words with a wave of his hand. His actions drew the crowd over to table and they all began taking their places, sitting down, ready for the meeting to begin. I glanced over at him one more time; he never ceased to amaze me, just his presence alone commanded authority. Whenever Jacob was around people listened, it was no surprise that he got named head coach just after completing two short years here. "You look stunning." He whispered softly in my ear, pulling out my chair for me. I gave him a tender smile as I sat down. "Thank you." "Are we still on for tonight?" "Of course." I nodded. "Great, I'll pick you up at six." He placed his hand on my shoulder giving it a tiny squeeze before sitting down next to me. My heart warmed at his touch, our friendship meant everything to me and I would forever count my blessings at meeting him. He was always there for me, day or night.
- 166 -

My mind flashed back to the time I was sick with the flu in our college days, he brought me chicken soup up to my dorm room, albeit from a can, but nevertheless chicken soup. Nowadays he was my go to guy, my need an escort at the last minute guy, my best friend besides Alice guy. Deep inside my heart I knew he wanted something more from me, from our relationship. He never pressured me, he never asked me about the demons that had formed a shell around my heart. I don't think he even knew what it was about, what I had lost that scarred me so deep. The most he knew was that it was over a guy, he never asked names, and if Alice had ever told him about it she didn't relay that information to me. So we both kept quiet, never allowing our relationship to go beyond friendship. His brotherly affection always consisted of kisses on the head, squeezes on my arm or shoulder. We only held hands or kissed on the mouth at public events, when the press and media were around. According to the tabloids Jacob and I were a couple, hot and heavy with one another, and for the sake of my personal peace, I wanted it to stay that way. Matthew Ferrell sat at the head of the table. He was the owner and general manager of the Los Angeles Warriors, the team I now called home. Mathew was a self made millionaire and a successful business man in the corporate world here in Los Angeles. He was one of the youngest owners in the NFL at 43 years old. His good looks and charming personality along with his vast knowledge and cutting edge controversial player picks made him a household name in the football social circle. Matthew had an eye for picking small unknown college players and turning them into big stars overnight. When he promoted Jacob to Assistant Head Coach two years ago, together they watched their team rise to become one of the top ten football teams in the NFL. Matthew spoke quietly to Jacob as the last of the press was allowed to enter the room for the meeting. The draft was already underway and so far we had managed to get most of the players we needed. Finally Matthew rose from his chair, the room fell silent. "Thank you all for being here with us today. The Warriors are excited to be revealing our newest Head Coach and Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator. Both have shown not only exceptional coaching skills and brilliant game making strategies, but loyal commitment as well. I am proud and honored to be introducing them to you all today." The press began buzzing softly anticipating the announcements that surely would be a shock to the NFL.
- 167 -

"The newest Head Coach of the Warriors for the 2014 season and beyond is Mr. Jacob Black." Everyone at the table began clapping and Jacob rose from his seat smiling proudly giving a cute solider salute to the press with his hand. "I am also extremely excited to announce the promotion of one of our most innovative and versatile members to Offensive Coordinator and Assistant Head Coach, she will be the first woman in the NFL in this position of leadership since the NFL began in 1922. Please help me welcome Miss. Isabella Swan." There was a split second of stunned silence from the press but then suddenly the room erupted with thunderous clapping. Everyone rose from their chairs; I could see the smiles all around me. I stood up trying not to blush and picked up my hand in greeting. I glanced over at Alice, she was grinning and cheering her arms waving above her head. My Dad whistled loudly, pride spread all across his face. My eyes moved over to Jacob, he was looking down at me smiling with such admiration and love written all over him that I couldn't help but place my hand over his. He leaned forward and placed a sweet kiss on my temple. "Congratulations." He whispered. The conference lasted about an hour as Jacob and I along with the other coaches answered press questions regarding the upcoming season. We pretty much had the entire team rounded out with just a few vacancies left to fill. The press commented if the players had been invited to the team gala being held this evening. Jacob announced that all the players would be attending. Finally when it was all over I excused myself so that I could go home and change for the gala. Walking to the parking garage the valet drove my Audi up to me. Sliding into the leather seat I turned on the radio and drove home smiling, I already knew what I was going to wear tonight, Alice had purchased it last week, and since you already know Alice's taste, then you must know the dress was way to revealing for my taste and just reeked of sex, life was good

Alice turned happily to Jacob after Bella left the conference room. the room was empty now, just the two of them left. "She looks so happy."

- 168 -

"Yes she does." Jacob began picking up the folders that had been left on the conference table, "She deserves it." Alice watched him carefully crossing her arms in front of her, "Jacob, when are you finally going to ask her?" Jacob looked up startled at Alice's words, his brows furrowed into a frown and he let out a soft sigh. "I'm not sure she's ready yet Alice." He shrugged, "I'm not sure if she'll ever be ready." "She loves you Jacob," Alice glanced sadly into Jacob's eyes, "even if she doesn't know it yet." "And I love her," he shook his head his gaze lingering out the picture window, "more than she could ever imagine." "Mr. Black?" one of the front office interns tapped lightly on the door, it had been left ajar after the conference, "I'm sorry to interrupt, but these just came for you." Both Jacob and Alice looked up at the same time; Jacob reached out for the files with one hand. "Thanks Melissa." Standing by the table, Jacob spread out the files before him looking them over quickly. He paused when he reached the last one, picking it up in his hands, a huge smile spread across his face. "What's that?" Alice asked cocking her head to the side in question, her hands on her hips. "We got him" Alice could see Jacob's demeanor change, excitement vibrated throughout him. He fisted one hand, waving it in front of his face in victory. "We got him Alice!" "Who?" Alice walked over to Jacob and lifted the file from his hands; she opened it
- 169 -

curiously, her eyes scanning through the information quickly. "I didn't think we could afford him, he's a free agent, but hell is he going to be great for our team!" Alice's eyes finally fell on the picture, she nearly choked. She looked up at Jacob with a crazed look in her eyes. "I gotta go!" She shoved the file back down on the table and scurried out of the room. Jacob stared after her warily, sighing he picked up the file tucking it away with the others. He would never understand women.

BPOV Jacob and I had to fight through a throng of people just to get into the Hyatt Century Plaza Hotel; the Olympic Ballroom had been reserved just for the Warriors and their guests as we presented the 2014 team to the public. "Miss Swan! How does it feel to be the first female offensive coordinator in the NFL?" one of the reporters called out as Jacob and I squeezed through the crowd. "It feels great!" I called over my shoulder as Jacob slid his arm around my waist and whisked me away from the reporters and into the Plaza. We were escorted by a Hotel bellman over to the Olympic Ballroom. "You look beautiful." Jacob tightened his grip around my waist protectively. "Thank you," I smiled up into his eyes, "You look dangerously handsome yourself, as usual." He chuckled at my words pressing his lips down into my head affectionately. "I'm going to have to fight off the men with a stick after they get a glimpse of you in this dress." He raised his eyebrows knowingly, shaking his head. I laughed looking down at myself and then back up at him, "It's not too much? Do you think?"

- 170 -

"I think it's more of an issue of being too little." He stopped suddenly and pulled me in front of him so that we were face to face, his hands lingered on my arms, "Where'd you get this little number anyways?" "This old thing?" I feigned distaste throwing my hands out around my royal blue Versace jersey wrap dress, "Saks of course." "It's anything but old." Jacob stared down at the deep v of my dress, his eyes running over me appreciatively, "In fact it's downright scandalous." I bit down my giggle that threatened to erupt and placed both hands on the lapels of his suit, "Shall we go inside Mr. Black?" I smoothed out the front of his jacket and straightened up his tie, taking a step back I grabbed his hand in mine. He pulled me close to him for a second in a brief hug and then reluctantly let me go, "Don't stray too far from my side, Miss Swan. I wouldn't want to have to kill anyone tonight." I was still laughing as we walked inside the ballroom. The room was packed beyond belief with more people than I ever imagined, the press was everywhere and flashbulbs immediately went off as Jacob and I made our way over to the main table. Matthew greeted us warmly, urging us to sit down next to him and his wife Melanie. She offered me a glass of champagne and I chatted with her briefly about her daughter, she began telling me about the joys of parenthood and how her daughter Marissa had just turned five and was asking for a pony. I chuckled softly at the sweet innocence of a five year old. Melanie leaned in closer to me a sly smile on her face, her eyes darted over to Jacob and then back at me. "So when are you going to make this handsome young man your husband?" she picked up her champagne glass and took a small sip, "You're both gorgeous, imagine what beautiful babies you two would make." I nearly choked on my drink at her words; Jacob paused in mid conversation with Matthew and glanced over at me curiously. Melanie smiled at my reaction and nodded her champagne glass towards Jacob, "Well, am I close? Do I hear wedding bells in the future?"
- 171 -

Jacob chuckled heartily and placed his hand over mine, "Mrs. Ferrell, while there is nothing more I would love than to make this beautiful woman my wife, she claims she is way too busy with the Warriors right now to be planning a wedding." I gave Jacob a look of thanks as he rescued me once again from an embarrassing situation. I noticed his eyes lingered on mine longer than usual as if he were trying to read my emotions. I looked away quickly feeling a bit uncomfortable at the seriousness of his gaze. Just then the lights dimmed and music filled the room. Matthew rose from his chair gesturing me and Jacob to follow him up to the stage. We stood up pushing back our chairs as more flashbulbs went off. Jacob grabbed my hand tightly in his and I welcomed his presence next to me as we made our way up the stairs to the stage. From across the room my eyes caught a flash of an emerald green gown, Alice had finally arrived. She appeared to be highly agitated as she hurriedly pushed her way through the crowd. Her eyes were sweeping the room frantically until she finally looked up toward the stage where I stood with Jacob and Matthew. Her hands flew to her face in frustration and then she raised her head back up at me with a look that began making me feel very uneasy. Matthew was speaking to the crowd now, thanking everyone for attending. He began the introduction of Jacob as our newest head coach and applause broke out throughout the room. I frowned at Alice, mentally asking her what was wrong. She gestured wildly at me, her hands flying through the air, pointing. She placed one hand over her heart, cocking her head to the side almost apologetically, and then blew me a kiss with both hands. I had no idea what she was trying to tell me but I was sure that it wasn't congratulations or good luck. Matthew was introducing me to the crowd now, while most of the press had already heard earlier today that I was the new offensive coordinator, the players and the rest of the staff did not know. "I am especially proud to announce our newest offensive coordinator and secret weapon to our staff" The crowd chuckled loudly at Matthew's words, but my world was suddenly spinning out of control, there down below in the crowd a few tables away from the stage my eyes had locked onto none other than Edward Cullen. He stared at me with
- 172 -

dark hard eyes, his jaw clenched shut. He sat lazily in his chair, his arm draped over the tall blond woman who sat next to him, his eyes swept over me coolly, his expression one of disgust and slight surprise. My heart lurched at the sight of him, and I felt my throat close up on me. My legs suddenly felt weak, and I wasn't sure if I could stand on my own anymore. Then I remembered, that terrible night in the hospital room, the look on Alice's face when she had to tell me that Edward didn't care anymore, about me or our baby. Sudden rage coursed through my veins and I clutched Jacob's hand tightly. Jacob, merely thinking I was nervous pulled his hand from mine and slid it around my waist in a tight embrace. He held me possessively to his side as the crowd clapped thunderously around us. "Smile Bella." Jacob's voice was soft, he lowered his head slightly; his arm squeezed me once more. Giving Edward one last deathly stare, I tore my eyes away from his. Trembling mildly, I stood up straighter and plastered a fake smile on my face as more flashbulbs flickered in the room. Turning my body towards Jacob's, I placed my free hand across his waist as I posed for the cameras. Jacob glanced down at me in surprise but then quickly recollected himself sliding his other hand across my arm, covering my hand with his. I leaned my body closer to Jacob's, I would not give Edward the satisfaction of seeing me cry, I promised myself years ago that no one would ever hurt me that way again, certainly not Edward fucking Cullen.

EPOV "Mr. Cullen, this is a 3 year 48.5 million deal, no other team is offering this to you." I grunted in disgust, frowning into the phone as my agent babbled on and on. Walking across the penthouse floor over to the gourmet kitchen that was just installed last year, I yanked open the refrigerator harder than usual and grabbed a bottle of water. "This is the money you've been after Mr. Cullen, and the team, hell, the Warriors are expected to win the super bowl within the next two years. Jacob Black is being announced as the new head coach today, and rumor has it that the brains behind the team, Isabella Swan, is taking over the offense." I stiffened instantly at the sound of her name; my fingers gripped the phone in fury.
- 173 -

"I told you Allen," keeping my voice as controlled as possible, "that I don't want to play for the Warriors." "Well the next offer is only 40 million for Houston, but they want you to commit for four years." Allen paused, "Edward," he sighed, "their offer is only good for the next two hours, their gala is tonight and they want you there to introduce you as their first string quarterback." I pushed open the balcony doors and stepped out into the warm air. I knew this day would come, during my years with the Longhorn's I watched silently as a fresh new face took the football world by a storm. And hell she was good. Penn State football rocked off the charts a year after she made the staff, and when the Warriors managed to capture her they called her the brains behind the team. I would not be fucking surprised at all if she made offensive coordinator tonight. The media and tabloids loved her, her beauty and friendly personality made her completely personable and down to earth; they didn't know that behind that lovable faade lived a cold heartless bitch. I shook my head in desperation, could I really do this? I knew I wasn't happy playing for the Raiders. Their management sucked big time and all the fucking backstabbing that went on behind closed doors did not allow me to trust anyone. I really wanted out of there. I had been beyond excited when they first drafted me my senior year at Texas, and I kid you not, I worked my ass off for them only to be disappointed in my coaches and teammates over and over again. "Allen, call Mr. Ferrell and tell him I accept their offer." I turned and made my way back inside the living room crossing down the carpeted stairs and into my bedroom, I walked into my obscenely large closet, switching on the light, my eyes began searching for my tuxedo, "And call Charlotte, tell her to be ready by six." Sighing I placed my tuxedo on my bed and headed for a quick shower. The hot spray eased my aching muscles, lifting my head back letting the water run across my face; I clenched my fists in a tight ball. This woman had haunted my thoughts and dreams for six long years but there was no way in hell I was going to let her know that.

The Hyatt Century Plaza Hotel looked like it was being devoured by ESPN. After picking up Charlotte, once we arrived at our destination, my driver had to swerve through the crowds of reporters that spilled out onto the street as they eagerly tried
- 174 -

to photograph each and every player arriving at the gala. Charlotte chatted excitedly by my side as I escorted her to our table. I completely ignored her babbling, guiding her by the elbow past the chaos, while she was stunning to look at and made a perfect companion who was always ready for me at a moment's notice, she was not very bright, and her high pitched laugh still hurt my ears. Even though I tried not to, my eyes swept over the room secretly searching Bella out. I hadn't laid eyes on her in six years, although I had seen her picture in many a tabloid, I was curious to see the expression on her face when she would finally see me again. She hadn't arrived yet, I could tell just by the anticipation that was buzzing throughout the room. The media was on its toes, cameras posed at the doors just waiting for her to arrive. I played with my champagne glass feigning boredom; there was no need to look so eager. Finally a large ripple swept through the crowd and a million and one flashbulbs went off. I glanced casually at the entrance, there she stood smiling happily. She was standing next to Jacob Black, he had his arm around her waist possessively, looking down at her with an expression on his face I knew only all too well. I watched her carefully out of the corner of my eye as she was led over to Matthew Ferrell's table. Trying to keep my heart rate in check I didn't even notice how hard my hand was shaking until I felt the wetness of the champagne spilling onto the back of my hand. Even though I hated her I couldn't deny that she still looked breathtakingly beautiful. Her black eyes still sparkled like diamonds, and her dress hugged her every curve. She had more curves now too, her breasts rounder, her hips and bottom in such perfect proportion that she could put any supermodel to shame. Her black hair was shorter now; it fell just below her shoulders. I could feel my crotch tightening just looking at it swing around her head and face as she laughed. The royal blue color of the fabric of her dress made her skin glow, looking like porcelain, and those shoes, hell, those were fuck me shoes, no other words for them. Ferrell was standing up now and I watched with great interest as the three of them made their way up to the stage. Bella's body swaying sexily with every step she took. My mind flashed back to the nights when that body withered under mine, her longing moans filling my ears. I mentally shook my head trying to clear it of those thoughts. Her name was being announced and thunderous applause broke out,
- 175 -

echoing loudly throughout the room, but I didn't hear any of it, she had finally seen me. Her eyes locked onto mine widening in surprise. I stared back at her coolly, almost in disgust. I could see her reaching out frantically and clutching the hand of Black. My curiosity peaked; she truly didn't know I was going to be there, I guess she hadn't heard yet then. I wanted to smirk at her, if she was shaken up now I could only imagine the look that would cross her face when Ferrell announced the newest quarterback for the Warriors. But she didn't stay shaken up long enough for me to find out, within seconds her eyes narrowed giving me a drop dead look. She slid those glorious hands around Black and leaned her body into his, smiling brightly, posing for the cameras. The media loved it and more flashes flooded the room. Ferrell was talking again, his booming voice commanding everyone to attention. The room fell silent once again. I straightened up in my chair in antcipation, listening to his words. "Before I step away I am extremely excited to announce the newest member of the Warrior family. Today we were able to sign Edward Cullen to a three year contract as our first string quarterback. Please help me give a round of applause to Mr. Cullen." I rose from my chair not taking my eyes off of Bella, a smug grin plastered across my face. She had turned white as a ghost, and being the prick that I am, I turned and leaned down capturing Charlotte's lips with my own as cheers and whistles flew across the room, more flashes went off. I lazily gave the crowd my trademark crooked smile cocking my head to the side. When I finally allowed my eyes to return to hers she was looking at me with nothing less than cold ugly hatred written all over her face. You better believe it bitch, I wanted to wrap my fingers around that pretty little neck, Edward Cullen was back.

That's right, he's back, and things are going to get hotter than ever around here...anyone have a fan? :) Reviews are always welcome, I grin like a fool everytime I see a new one! LOL

- 176 -

Chapter 18
Welcome Back! Thanks for all the wonderful reviews for the last two chapters. You really made my day! Happy Reading! Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight. I own all the football knowledge. :)

BPOV I stood in my stadium office up near the skyboxes. Dawn was barely breaking through, filling the stadium with dark shadows. My shoulder leaned against the wall sized window as I stared down onto the field below, my arms wrapped around my own waist. The room was still dark, quiet, with almost an eerie feel to it. I hadn't bothered to turn on the lights. I could see the maintenance personnel getting the stadium ready for the start of training camp. They were carefully looking over the turf making sure everything was in place. The coaches were due to arrive in an hour and players in two. My arms tightened around my own waist, the playersthat's what had driven me up here at this ungodly hour, making me pace endlessly back home in my apartment until I decided to just get out of there. I was going to have to face Edward today, and I was dreading it. The Gala had been bad enough, when Matthew had announced Edward as the new Warrior's quarterback I literally thought I was going to be sick. No one on staff had even hinted that we were considering acquiring Edward for our team. I would have been bluntly against it. He was a free agent which meant he was open to the highest bidder. Jacob had told me later, completely unaware of my turmoil, that we had been able to acquire him because the wide receiver we were bidding for, who was also a free agent, had declined our offer and had decided to accept an offer from San Francisco. I almost laughed at the irony of it all. San Francisco had been Edward's favorite team so long ago. The memory of my teenage days flooded my brain forcing me to relive that fateful Homecoming night where we had sat for hours talking, dreaming, and falling in love. I shook my head trying to clear my thoughts. Edward had never fallen in love with me, never once during our entire relationship had he ever actually said he loved me,
- 177 -

at least in a language I understood. I was just some silly conquest to him, one whom he managed to get pregnant and for some God forsaken reason felt obligated to me. Once there was nothing tying us together any longer, he had freed himself to move on. I had come to these conclusions years ago, my brain trying to rationalize his actions, trying to find a way to live with all of this, and it had made sense. We both belonged in the same football circles; I had heard his name over and over in the six years we were apart. The Longhorn's had won two more championships under his quarterback reign, he made All American and got to play in the Rose Bowl. His achievements were well known and well publicized, his agent was good, and his endorsements for Gatorade and Nike were only the tip of the iceberg. When he moved to the Raiders he took California by the storm. His superb playing and incredible good looks made him a regular in all the tabloids. He had escorted Vanessa Hudgens to the Golden Globe awards last year and was rumored to be in a torrid affair with 29 year old Megan Fox. Pictures of the both of them frolicking in the Hawaiian Islands caused a bit of an uproar as Fox had once claimed that she was only attracted to older men, thus putting both of them in the limelight for months thereafter. I had known from the start that he wouldn't like the Raider's franchise, the owner and coaches did not get along and made no effort to hide it. The players were all about fame and fortune with no true love for the game. I knew Edward would hate it there. If anything remained the same it was his dedication to his game. No matter who, when, or where the Raiders were playing Edward always played with extreme dedication and professionalism. Despite all the hurt and pain he had caused me, every time I saw him play a tiny glimmer of admiration and pride still rose in my chest. So here I stood, trying to swallow the lump in my throat at the impending kismet that was sure to follow today's practice. The first coach's meeting after the Gala had been difficult to digest. Every single coach was beyond elated at having Edward on the team, even Jacob, which led me to believe Alice hadn't told him anything. In fact the only ones who seemed to express my own sentiments were Alice and my Dad. My Dad looked downright stricken at the prospect of having Edward on our team. He excused himself from the meeting early, claiming a headache. I watched him leave the room worriedly, for weeks after I had my miscarriage; he had seemed a different person. His demeanor had changed and he hovered over me watching my every move, jumping every time the telephone rang, going everywhere with me. He had removed every trace of Edward from my bedroom. By the time I had arrived
- 178 -

home from the hospital a new cell phone had been placed by my nightstand, Edward's number no longer stored. The Longhorn website was erased from my laptop, and any mementos that I had of Edward in my room were gone. The look on his face was always the same. Sadness, anger, regret, and fear, I always believed that he blamed himself for letting this happen to me simply because he let Edward on his team. Finally, he encouraged me to keep living, to attend Penn State as I had planned. And the rest, they say, is history. Voices drifted down the hallway, I checked my watch, it was time for the coaches meeting.

Alice fell into step next to me once the meeting was over. We headed for the elevator that would take us down to the turf. The players were already on the field stretching. My heart was pounding furiously, and I wasn't sure I was going to be able to do this. "Bellaare you sure you're going to be okay?" Alice spoke quietly not wanting to attract attention. I nodded once, "Of course Alice," I said with false bravado, "why shouldn't I be?" Alice looked at me questionably, raising her eyebrows, "You know why" her voice trailed off. I dismissed her words with a wave of my hand. "That was so long ago. I'm not a kid anymore, I am a grown woman. I can handle myself." I'm not sure who I was trying to convince more, her or me. When we reached the entrance tunnel; I looked out into the field. There amiss the wide green grass in the sea of orange and black uniforms stood Edward. I could still spot his form in an instant. He was in the perfect quarterback stance, his feet planted firmly on the ground, his hand wrapped around the football with the same grip it had once wrapped around me. He let the football soar through the air, and soar it did, 2530 yards until it fell easily into the hands of our Wide Receiver. He placed his hands on his hips and watched the receiver zig zag through the players
- 179 -

heading for the end zone. I had to fight with myself to control my breathing, he still looked magnificent in his football uniform, I had forgotten how thrilling it was to watch him play. Alice gave me a quick hug, "At least you never looked as good as you did at the Gala and even now when that bastard is going to have to look you in the eyes today," her eyes narrowed as she watched Edward bend down and pick up another football, "don't forget, you are the boss now Bella." She turned and headed across the opposite end of the field towards the parking lot. I smiled to myself, at Alice's advice I was wearing my 7 for all Mankind jeans and an Oscar de la Renta silk blouse. Pride and common sense made me want to look my best without being revealing. My Burberry flat heeled boots went with this outfit perfectly without making me look overdressed or out of place. I wore my hair up in a simple pony tail, so I wouldn't look like I was trying too hard, which I was. With my head held high I made my way over to the sidelines next to Jacob. He glanced down at me when I fell into place next to him; his face broke into a wide smile. "Bella," he slid his arm around my waist squeezing me next to him, "are you ready to start the new season?" Smiling, I stood on my tiptoes and gave him a quick peck on the cheek. He released me and pointed out to the field, "Look, there's Cullen. Have you seen the way he throws? He's connecting with every target he lays eyes on." I nodded, not looking in Edward's direction. Yes, I knew just how well he connected with every target, too well. "Cullen!" Jacob's yell made me freeze in mid-thought. Jacob was gesturing Edward over. Edward whipped his head around at the sound of his name being called. He looked over in our direction; his helmet was over his head so I couldn't read his expression. He hesitated for just a second and then jogged over to where we stood.
- 180 -

Edward stopped right in front of Jacob and pulled his helmet off over his head with ease, despite my brain barking out strict directions to my body ordering it to remain in control; my treacherous heart did flip flops when he ran his fingers through his hair. He didn't look at me, only at Jacob. "Coach?" his voice was still smooth, still warm. I wanted to squeeze my eyes shut and block out the emotions that were coursing through me, he left youmy brain repeated over and over againhe left youyou and the baby Jacob extended his hand in greeting, "Cullen, it's a pleasure to have you on our team, I'd like you to meet Isabella Swan, I'm sure you've heard all about her, you two will be working very closely with one another." Edward shook Jacob's hand and nodded simply, he glanced over at me, his eyes locked onto mine. I could tell he was trying to read me, wondering what he should do. The second I looked into those chocolate brown eyes I remembered how they captivated me, engulfed me against my own violation. I struggled with myself for a second and then with an air of authority I held out my hand, my gaze not wavering, challenging him to act any different. His hand shot out and completely covered mine; his grip was strong, rough, and electrifying. "Coach." Was all he said. "Cullen." I pulled my hand away as quickly as I could. He stared at me a second longer and then turned back to Jacob. Jacob smiled breezily at both of us. "Bella, why don't you introduce Cullen to Richard," he pointed to our offensive line coach who was standing ten yards down from us, "I need to discuss some plays with Marshall." He nodded at Edward, gave my hand a squeeze, and made his way around us.
- 181 -

"And don't forget, your Sports Illustrated interview is tomorrow." I watched Jacob's retreating figure pushing down the panic that was bubbling up inside me. I looked back at Edward, he was staring at me callously, his eyes hard. Tearing my eyes away from his, I turned abruptly and began walking away, not caring if he followed me or not. "Richard!" I called out, trying to reach him as quickly as I could. Edward was behind me, right behind me, I could feel the heat radiating off of him. Reaching Richard I spoke as quickly as I could. "This is Cullen," I gestured my hand flippantly at Edward; "he's all yours." Without looking at Edward again I briskly walked across the field still trembling with anger.

EPOV I was beyond fucking pissed at the way Bella stalked away and dismissed me as if I were an insignificant piece of shit. I tried my damndest to get her out of my mind after the Gala. But seeing her there on that stage the other night had opened a floodgate of memories, painful memories. I had spent the entire weekend in my penthouse reliving those events over and over again. They surrounded me, infuriated me, made me try to search for answers all over again. As the years had gone by I had come to my own conclusions as to why Bella had decided to do what she did. I tortured myself for months after she had her abortion, telling myself if I had just done something different, said something different, given her more of myself, she would have kept the baby. Finally, because I just couldn't keep living the way I was, I simply decided that she was just a frightened 18 year old girl alone and pregnant, she probably figured we'd never see each other again and panicked. Despite what I thought she had felt for me, she must not have really cared all that much and stuck with me because she didn't know what else to do. Before running out onto that field today, I had promised myself that I would remain cool and cordial towards her, and yet when Black called me over to them, my heart had begun hammering wildly in my chest. I still wanted to hate her, but as
- 182 -

hard as I tried, I couldn't. The second she stepped foot on that field I was mesmerized all over again, I wasn't 24 anymore, I was 18 and still tripping over myself trying to impress her. I had been watching her out of the corner of my eye as soon as she had walked out onto the turf. Once I laid eyes on her it took me a good ten seconds to regain my composure, she looked hot as hell in these tight fitting jeans that hugged her ass, and some kind of flowy blouse that only showed her arms but looked just as provocative on her as if she were wearing a low cut dress. And the hairfuckthe hair, it was all pulled back into a single pony tail, just like the one she wore back in high school, making her look like a school girl all over again. When she extended her hand to me I tried to see it as some sort of truce, the soft touch of her hand in mine sent a shock down my spine, but she had pulled her hand away so fast and had looked so disgusted, I couldn't help but feel the anger rising in me. I spent the rest of practice avoiding her, but with each passing minute the anger grew. Every time she threw her head back and laughed at whatever Black was telling her, I would find myself gripping the football tighter. When she put her hand on Black's arm and leaned into him, I was seeing red, but when Black smiled warmly down at her and kissed the top of her head, I totally missed the hut count and lent up being pummeled by the defense. By the time we went back to the locker room I was seething. Madder at myself more than anything else, I was still letting her get to me. Black came in while we were all showering and told us to hustle; there would be a quick meeting in five minutes before we broke for the evening. I honestly didn't mean to do itbut when I saw the look on Bella's face as I walked to the front of the shower room I was secretly glad I did. I hadn't bothered to put a towel around my waist after the shower. I truly expected just Black would be conducting the meeting so I simply walked out to my locker completely in the buff. It was common practice back at the Raider's to walk around naked after showering; they were all a bunch of cocky pricks anyhow. Bella stood just a few feet away her arms crossed; she was holding a friendly conversation with our kicker, asking him about his family. I almost froze when I saw her but that anger was still coursing through me so I strode right in front her, a little swagger to my walk. I could see her eyes wash over me quickly and her mouth dropped open, she paused in the middle of her conversation. "Hell Cullen! Put some clothes on!" one of my teammates came over and stood
- 183 -

beside me, "Coach Swan is in here you know." I just shrugged and turned my back to her, taking my sweet time going through my things before getting dressed. I could almost feel her eyes burning into my ass. "It's not anything she hasn't seen before." I muttered under my breath. By the time I turned around again I was pulling my t-shirt over my head. Bella was glaring at me but quickly looked away when she noticed my gaze. I wanted to smirk at her, point one for team Edward.

I was in the middle of watching TV back at the Penthouse when my agent called. Sighing I picked up the receiver, Allen was always an overeager son of a bitch, but he was the best, and I only settled for the best these days. "Mr. Cullen, I have good news." Allen's voice was chipper than usual. "What's up Allen?" I grabbed the remote and turned down the volume on my surround sound system. "Remember that spread Sports Illustrated wanted you for?" "Yeah." "The new face of the Warriors, they have it scheduled for tomorrow at seven." "Tomorrow?" I absentmindedly began flipping through the channels on the TV. "Yes, I'll have your driver pick you up at six." "Sure thing, thanks." I flipped back to the previous channel to continue watching the movie but not really watching it. I had been on the cover of sports magazines before but never Sports Illustrated, I was pretty excited.

I was getting annoyed with the makeup lady who kept trying to drape herself all over me. I was standing in the middle of the wardrobe room in nothing but these
- 184 -

orange and black mesh shorts, Warrior shorts, they had been specially made for the photo shoot. When she walked into the room, the makeup lady took one look at me and almost fuckin' squealed. She was chewing this ridiculously large piece of pink gum and kept popping it while she talked. It got worse when she started putting this oily substance on my chest and arms. "You're supposed to shine Mr. Cullen." She popped her gum again and ran her fingers down my arms in a suggestive manner. I didn't answer her, I figured out long ago the best way to get out of these unwanted advances was to ignore them. Allen stuck his head in the doorway, "Three minutes, come on Mr. Cullen." I turned, grateful for the chance to escape this gum popping mess in front of me. "Thank you." I gave her a half glance and strode out of the door. Allen chuckled at me as we walked down the corridor to the photo set up area. "Did she give you her number?" he asked, shaking his head at me. "Yes," I shot him a warning look, "she tried to shove it down my shorts." Allen snickered. I glared. It was a good thing I actually liked the bastard or else I would have gotten rid of his ass a long time ago. "Oh, before I forget, you're not the only one doing the photo shoot." We had just turned the corner and I could see people milling about, a photographer was issuing instructions to whoever was sitting in the hot seat. I couldn't see who yet, the huge umbrella lights were blocking my view. "Just a little more to leftthat's itokay now grip it tighter. There you go." Allen pointed over to the umbrellas, "The new faces of the Warriors," he grinned at me, "the hot new faces of the Warriors, just wait till you see her."
- 185 -

I think he kept on talking but I no longer heard a word he said, I could finally see who the photographer was talking too, all I could hear was the sound of my blood rushing to my head. I froze right in my tracks. There in the spotlight was Bella, all dolled up in this naughty hot for teacher look. She was straddling a small swivel stool in this tight black skirt; it was being forced up high around her thighs due to the position she was sitting in. Her long smooth legs were spread wide apart on either side of the stool; her high heels planted firmly on the ground. Right in the middle, pressed against her crotch was a football. She was gripping it tightly; those perfect slender fingers wrapped around the laces much like the way they once wrapped around my dick. The tip of the football stopped right under those perfect full breasts. She wore a crisp white button down silky blouse, the first four buttons undone so you could just catch a peek of the lacy black bra she wore underneath. Her hair was piled high on her head, small wisps falling loose around her face. "Didn't I tell you." Allen gave me a poke in the ribs jolting me out of my stupefied state. Before I could reply he cleared his throat loudly and gestured me to follow him. Both the photographer and Bella noticed me at the same time. Bella sprang up out of the stool so fast the football fell to the floor, the photographer began fiddling with his camera equipment, but welcomed me at the same time. "Mr. Cullen! A pleasure to have you with us today. I'll be right with you." He turned back to Bella, "Miss Swan, I think we need maybe one or two more shots left." "Mr. Miller," Bella suddenly looked very ill at ease, her eyes moving quickly over my bare torso and then back to the photographer, "Are you sure that's necessary? Obviously your next client is here." Mr. Miller looked up at Bella without saying anything, then he turned to look at me, tilting his head to the side as if were contemplating a thought, then back to Bella. "Why don't we try one with both of you. Jenny?" He gestured at his assistant who quickly jumped up, scurried around him and over to me. "Mr. Miller" Bella began again warily, slowly backing away from the set, "I don't
- 186 -

think" But Mr. Miller wouldn't have any of it, and I didn't argue with him, I was rather enjoying watching Bella squirm. I let the assistant lead me over to where Bella stood. "Okay Mr. Cullen, why don't you have a seat on the stool." Mr. Miller wasted no time getting us into position. "Miss Swan, go ahead and stand next to Mr. Cullen," Bella gave out a tiny sigh of surrender and moved closer to me. My head was leveled right at her breasts. I swallowed hard and averted my eyes. "Hmmm" Mr. Miller was already looking into the camera, "Okay Miss Swan, take your right leg and place it on the stoolno not theremore to the middlethe middleright between Mr. Cullen's legs." Shit! I groaned inwardly, Bella wouldn't look at me, but that high heeled leg was right in front of my fuckin' face, taunting me, teasing me. I could smell her hot sweet scent, it surrounded me. I wanted to shut my eyes before I did something I would regret. "Greatokay Mr. Cullen can you twist your upper body towards hers a bityesjust like thatnow with your left, no your right handgo ahead and put it around under her kneenot on top, underthere you go." Mr. Miller was fuckin' trying to kill me, I just knew it. Bella was taking these tiny short little breaths, looking everywhere but down. Her skin was hot underneath my fingers and I was doing everything in my power not to run my hand up that silky leg. "Miss. Swan can you put your right hand on Mr. Cullen's shouldergo aheadyour whole palm, not just your fingertipsthere you go" Bella's hand slid tensely over my shoulder, her touch was light at first, but as Mr. Miller continued to guide her she finally pressed her palm against my skin. The pressure of her hand made me break out into a sweat and I was really glad I had all this oily shit all over me. "Okaygood" the camera went off a few times, "I just want to add a little bit more drama" Mr. Miller had no fuckin' clue just how close the drama really was.
- 187 -

"Can you both stare at each other? No smilingjust seriousMiss. SwanMiss. Swanjust look right in his eyesyou can tilt you head downa little moreokay now look in his eyeshis eyes Miss. Swan, not his nose" I think we both finally gave in at the same time. Our eyes locked, my hand was underneath her knee, her hand was gripping my shoulder, a tiny shiver ran down my back. I was getting lost in those eyes again, somewhere inside me was that 18 year old idiot who desperately wanted to kiss her. More flashes went off as Mr. Miller took his pictures. "Okay don't moveJenny? Can you go over to Miss. Swan? Jenny?" Mr. Miller looked up quickly, his assistant wasn't in her spot, he shook his head and gave a little huff, "Mr. Cullen, can you do me a favor, can you reach up and take out the pin that holding up Miss. Swan's hair, I'm thinking it would look better down." He didn't have to ask me twice, Bella opened her mouth to protest I assume, but my free hand was already buried into that glorious mane, setting it free, watching it tumble down around her face. The pin bounced off the floor with a small clink. Mr. Miller's camera was snapping at a rapid pace. I kept my eyes locked on hers; she blinked once, snapped her mouth close, and stared down at me at first questionably and then furiously. "Mr. Miller," she spun her head around to face him, "I think I'm quite done." She pulled her leg away from my grasp, swooped down to pick up her hair pin, and twirled around walking off the set, her ass swaying in that tight little black skirt with every step she took.

Anyone want to show me some love and review...

- 188 -

Chapter 19
Welcome back! Sorry for the delay, last week was finals week and I got behind. As my apology, an extra long chapter for you. :) Song of the day: I Still Believe by Brenda Starr Enjoy! Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight. I own all the football knowledge. :)

BPOV Groaning, I tossed the Sports Illustrated magazine down onto the coffee table in despair. I rose from my sofa and walked over to my stereo switching it on. That damn photo shoot had been haunting me like crazy these last few weeks and now the magazine was out in circulation. It was just my luck; it got put out one week before the first game of the NFL season. Mine and Edward's picture was plastered all over the front cover and inside too. I was not going to hear the end of it, I just knew it. What made it worse was the terrible ache I felt in my heart after leaving the studio that day. I pressed my eyes closed and tilted my head up to the ceiling trying to forget the pictures, forget the photo shoot had ever happened, forget how my heart had jumped when Edward put his hand on my leg. Our faces were only inches away from each other and Mr. Miller had forced me to look into Edward's eyes, those eyes, Mr. Miller had no clue how those eyes captivated me, making me long to lose myself in them again. Mr. Miller was good at his job; he had managed to capture a truly intense picture that reeked of sex appeal and was surely going to get the tabloids wagging. Edward was sitting straight up on the stool, I was standing by his left side, and my high heeled leg placed less than an inch away from his crotch, my knee almost reaching his chin. His bare torso was turned angled toward me and his right hand was wrapped underneath my knee. My fingers were gripping his shoulder tightly; the muscles in his broad shoulders tensed so firmly you could almost see the pressure marks of my fingers. We were starring at each other with nothing less than a lustful look on both of our faces; his eyes were hooded, dark looking right into
- 189 -

mine. My head was tilted down to his, my eyes wide and round, my hair falling loose around my face. The title screamed in large letters across the top, The Hot New Faces of the Warriors! I don't even know how I managed to act normal back on the field; I avoided Edward at all costs, only talking to him when I absolutely had to. The words we did exchange were short, blunt, and to the point. I helped him and the rest of the offensive line learn some new maneuvers that we were going to try out on Sunday. Edward seemed to appear interested in my plays and mastered the runs on the first try. I tried my best to keep my emotions out of my voice as I guided him, and the others, through the plays. "Owens, you were a second off on the snap." I stood in the center of the offensive line pointing out a few imperfections, "Cullen, tighten up your stance. Marshall, you shifted two seconds too soon." "Sure thing Coach." The usual venomous tone in Edward's voice was gone, which left me a little rattled. I slipped up once and the words "Great pass Cullen," escaped my lips which startled a surprise smile out of him, making my heart skip a beat. Three short knocks on my door jolted me out of my musings. Giving the offending magazine one last glare; I walked past the coffee table over to the door. It was Jacob, looking gorgeous as ever, but madder than hell. "What's the meaning of this?" He strode past me and into my apartment. The frown on his face was clearly directed at me. In his hand he held a bundle of magazines which he was waving madly in front of him. Knowing what he was upset about, I shrugged trying to act nonchalant, "Just the dumb interview." Jacob wasn't buying it. "Apparently it's not just the interview. Your interview was actually fantastic," he noticed my own copy on the coffee table and bent to scoop it up; "It's the front cover that has me worried, it seems you're Cullen's next target, at least according to this trash." He flung down the other magazines he held in his hand. There splashed across the front covers of National Enquirer, Star, and The Globe
- 190 -

was my picture, and Edward's. Beside's our photo shoot spread there were other pictures of us separately but photoshopped to look like we were meeting each other at various places. The headlines blazed, "Gorgeous New Coach Falls for Hot Quarterback." "NFL Coach Romance on the Outs as Swan Steps Out with Quarterback." "Warrior's Head Coach ready to Fire Quarterback." I grabbed one of the magazines scanning it in disbelief. I looked up at Jacob at loss for words. "It wasn't my idea, I tried to say no," I stuttered, trying to defended myself; "Mr. Miller the photographer wouldn't listen to me, he insisted I pose that way." Jacob watched me very carefully, his eyes washing over my face skeptically. "Since when do you let other people tell you what to do?" "Jacob, what was I suppose to do? Embarrass myself? Embarrass EdCullen?" "I don't give a rat's ass if Cullen gets embarrassed, in fact, I'd rather prefer it that way than letting the entire free world see his hand on your thigh." Jacob sunk into the sofa; he looked up at me, dejection written all over his face. "You didn't even tell me after your shoot, the photographer had you pose this way." "Jacob" I walked over and sat down next to him taking his hand in mine, "It was no big deal. It was just a picture. Cullen and I had no intention of taking one together; Mr. Miller thought it was a good idea. There was, and is, absolutely nothing happening between us." Jacob's gaze swept across the coffee table and he glared at the magazine, he picked it up slowly studying the cover shoot carefully. "I don't like the way he is looking at you." He said softly, "And I definitely don't like the way his hand is on your leg." Jacob turned to look at me, his expression softened as he stared into my eyes. "Isabella" he sighed, "The media, the tabloids, everyone has been thinking we've been together all these years, don't you think it's about time we made it real?" He brought his hand up and gently brushed it down the side of my face. I watched
- 191 -

him as he brought his face closer to mine until I could feel his breath on my lips. I fought desperately with myself to keep from pushing him away. Jacob was good, kind, and loyal, just the type of man I should be with. The kind of man I should be in love with. He would never hurt me, never leave me, never make me feel as if I were anything less than perfect. Still, as he brushed his lips across mine the red lights flashed wildly in my head and I could feel the panic bubbling up inside of me. "Bella?" he whispered still lightly kissing me. I wasn't responding to him, I was still battling my inner turmoil. "Are you okay?" Jacob pulled back slightly and searched my eyes with his. I looked at him, really looked at him. I could have a future with him. I could be happy. I could let this happenno I would let this happen. Taking in a silent breath I forced myself to reach up and lightly trace my fingers down his jaw line. He drew in a quick breath at my touch and I could feel his jaw tighten. His eyes grew darker and I knew he wanted to kiss me again, still he fought it, he wanted me to kiss him, I knew that. He didn't tear his eyes away from mine as I struggled to take the biggest leap in the last six years of my life. Despite my heart not being in it, I brought my face closer to his and allowed my lips to open slightly against his. Slowly, softly I kissed him, hoping he wouldn't be able to tell what was really in my heart. Jacob finally closed his eyes and let out a low moan against me. His mouth opened to mine urgently and his hand found its way behind my head and tangled into my hair. I nearly froze when I felt his hand moving in my hair. Flashes of Edward's kisses and hands in my hair shot through my head. I wanted to cry, I could feel the tears stinging the back of my eyes. Wrought with anguish I knew I didn't want to do this, not with Jacob. He kept kissing me, tilting his head to the side to be closer to me. His tongue thrust intensely into my mouth over and over again, yet he was still gentle, still loving. Then suddenly without warning new images flew into my head, the image of Edward in a tight embrace with a blonde, the cold hard look in his eyes the night of the gala, the way he gallantly swooped down and kissed his date in front of thousands of people. Something snapped inside my head and anger fueled me. I wrapped one arm around Jacob's neck pulling him closer, opening my mouth wider to his, encouraging him, enticing him. I slid my tongue into his mouth brushing it against his. Our tongues battled with one another as our kiss deepened. He groaned, and slid his free hand around my waist pulling me to him. My hands trembled as he ran his hand up my back and I was afraid he was going to want more, to do more than just kiss. I wasn't ready for that, not yet.
- 192 -

I pulled back tearing my lips away from his, trying to contain my thoughts and fight back the apprehension that surrounded me. Jacob placed both his hands on either side of my face. His breathing erratic as his thumbs stroked across my eyebrows. His eyes searched mine rapidly as if he were trying to read my mind. Finally he slid his hands down to my shoulders and let out a soft sigh. He closed his eyes for a second as if he were gathering up courage and then looked at me once more. "Isabella, I love you. I want to marry you." He ran his fingers down my arms and took both my hands in his. "Will you marry me?" I stopped breathing, feeling the walls closing in around me, the red flashing lights returning in my head with renewed force. Jacob deserved better than this, better than a woman who didn't know who she wanted, who couldn't give him, in return, all the love he was giving her. But as I looked into those sad eyes I knew I couldn't hurt him, he was my best friend after all. "Yes." I half whispered. And finally accepting it in my head as being real, I gave him a shy smile, "Yes." I said with more conviction. Jacob broke into a wide grin and grabbed me in a huge hug. "I love you." He said out loud, his voice full of emotion, "I love you Isabella." I could only nod into his chest.

The locker room was hopping Sunday morning, it was Gameday! Each guy had his own method of getting ready. Some players would put on their headphones and rock out to their favorite tunes while studying playbooks. Others would begin to make the transformation from a mild mannered Clark Kent type of character into a raging maniac. Some players would joke around while others became deadly serious. Once the players had all studied the playbook, stretched, and grazed with their fellow linemen out on the field, they all made it back to the locker room and began the struggle to put their jerseys over their shoulder pads. Now this sounds like a simple process. But for an offensive lineman it is anything but simple. You see nothing puts the fear in the minds of an O-Lineman more than being grabbed by the defensive lineman. Because once the defense gets a hold of you...put a fork in you, you're done. It doesn't matter much in the running game but the passing game is
- 193 -

where it makes a big difference. So our linemen go to extraordinary lengths so they cannot be grabbed, including using rubbing alcohol, two way tape, and a trip to the dry sauna. Really, you don't want to know The other coaches and I made our rounds visiting each of the players and made sure the guys were good to go for the game. Once everything was in order and all the guys were dressed we got them all together to discuss the last minute changes we had made to the game plan. We did this to eliminate mistakes out on the field. Two minutes before the start of the game the officials made their quick walk through of the locker room. Giving us the all clear, Jacob stood commanding the room to attention. He briefly spoke to our team captains telling them what they should do if we won the coin toss or which goal they should defend if we lost. His last words were the key points that we would need in order to win the game. No dumb penalties, eliminate turnovers, how many yards the guys should rush for. Finally he summed up his speech reminding them to finish strong and believe that no matter what happens out on the field we would find a way to win in the end. A quick prayer with the team chaplain followed Jacob's speech. My head had been bowed during the prayer but I could sense someone staring at me, once the chaplain said Amen I looked up and my eyes locked on to Edward's. He had been staring at me throughout the entire prayer. He stood a few rows back from where I was. He looked tall, powerful, and just electrifying in his uniform. I wanted to break the gaze but for some reason I just couldn't. The look in Edward's eyes wasn't the usual harsh cold detached look; in fact he was looking at me with soft smile around his lips, his eyes twinkling a bit. He was holding his helmet in his hand and I swore he nodded at me slightly before pulling it over his head. I blinked and looked down quickly collecting my thoughts, and then brought my head back up to his. Edward wasn't looking at me anymore, some of the players had begun whooping and screaming, "Let's Kill Em!" and were all jostling one another. I shifted my gaze over to Jacob. He stood leaning against one of the large pillars his arms crossed in front of him just watching me. I tore my eyes away quickly from his, feeling my face grow hot. I wondered if he had seen the exchange between Edward and me, based on the annoyed look on his face, I was betting he had. We ran out onto the field surrounded by 70,000 screaming people. The noise was thunderous and overwhelming. My first initial moments were nerve-wracking as I tried to keep my game face on. The offensive line was already looking at me for instruction. We had won the coin toss. Glancing down at my clipboard to refresh my memory I started barking out the first set of plays we were going to use. As I adjusted my headset I could see Jacob
- 194 -

talking to Edward, his hand on Edward's shoulder as he instructed him on the rush we were going to use first. Edward was listening intently his head nodding in agreement with whatever Jacob was telling him. Jacob thumped on his helmet and started clapping and pointing, yelling encouragement to Edward and the rest of the offensive line. Edward pointed jubilantly at Jacob in return as he jogged a few steps backward, right before he turned around, his head tilted in my direction, we were only a few feet apart, he was still going backwards when he smiled and winked at me, then he turned around and ran over to the huddle. I saw it plain as day. My breath hitched and I could feel a tingling sensation run down my spine. Trying to shake the confusion that surrounded me I focused on the hut count. The ball was snapped at two and Edward took three steps back before passing the ball to our running back. The play moved us 8 yards down the line and the crowd screamed wildly. I clutched my clipboard closer to my body, the excitement was contagious, and I felt, for those first few minutes, like the Bella I used to be, standing out on the sidelines bouncing with enthusiasm, watching Edward play. Two minutes before the end of third quarter I could sense we were losing some of our momentum. Our running back was tired, as well as our wide receiver. We were behind by three points and we really couldn't afford to lose our concentration now. I watched with bated breath as Edward struggled with his teammates trying to psych them up. Frustration showed clearly in his body movements as they all lined up for the next play, the offensive line was misreading his signals I could tell. He attempted a pass that went out of bounds. The buzzer sounded the end of third quarter and the beginning of fourth. The players on the sidelines around me began their fourth quarter chant. The Warriors were well known for their fourth quarter ritual in the NFL. It started some years ago by players who were trying to motivate the offense to make a fourth quarter comeback, the quarterback lent up throwing a Hail Mary in that game leading them to victory and the ritual stuck. So now all around me the players pounded their hands onto their laps, then clapped twice all while chanting "WarriorsWarriorsWarriors" During our home games the fans always got involved and soon the entire stadium was shaking with booming voices yelling our name. This was always my favorite part of the game. While I couldn't chant and clap along with them, it wouldn't look good for a coach to do that, I always chanted along in my head. It took Edward only three seconds to connect with our wide receiver, giving us another first down. If we could manage another two or three plays we would make it
- 195 -

to the end zone for a fourth quarter comeback. The coaches shifted down the sideline following the offense; we stopped near the thirty yard line. Jacob was barking out orders to Edward through his headset, I could see Edward, his head tilted slightly, listening attentively. Edward leaned down in the huddle, he was standing directly across from me, I could see his mouth moving as he relayed the play to the guys. Edward lined up behind the center and began the hut count. I could tell instantly by the second hut the players were out of sync. They began shifting a second too late. Edward fell a step back and tried to scramble to the right, over by where we were all standing. Jacob was yelling at our WR telling him to move further down. The defense saw their opportunity to break through the line and there, right smack in front of me, two of the biggest guys from the New York Giants trounced on top of Edward pulling him down into the sidelines before he could release the ball. One of them grabbed onto his facemask and yanked hard while the other had rammed right into his stomach twisting his body in the opposite direction from where his head was going. I could hear the awful cracking sound of Edward's helmet as it hit the ground. The crowd roared angrily around me yelling at the refs to throw a flag down. Jacob was stalking down the sideline yelling at the WR. Some of the players who had been standing next to me formed a half circle around Edward looking down at him shouting and pointing for the team physician. Edward wasn't moving. Terror gripped me as I saw our kicker kneel down and place his hand on Edward's shoulder. The team physician was making his way through the players, and the stadium had fallen silent. Edward's eyes were closed, his hands loose at his sides. I tried desperately to tell if his chest was rising and falling to make sure he was still breathing. The awful cracking sound still ringing in my ears. The physician knelt next to Edward putting his hands on his neck and unsnapping the facemask strap from under his chin. Not being able to take it any longer I pushed past the few players who were in front of me and knelt down next to the physician. Coaches aren't allowed on the field when a player gets hurt, but Edward wasn't on the field, he was spread out on the sideline. The physician was calling out Edward's name, trying to make him respond. Relief washed over me when I saw Edward's chest rise, he was breathing at least. My relief was short lived though, when the physician called his name a third time and still no response. "Cullen!" he shouted into Edward's ear, "Can you hear me Cullen!"
- 196 -

The physician's fingers pressed into Edward's neck and shoulder again. "Cullen!" he kept repeating. And then under his breath, "Shit." That scared me more than anything. I swallowed hard and placed my hand on Edward's chest, leaning forward, I lowered my face so that it was right in front of his. "Cullen?" I said softly as first, and then louder, "Cullen? Are you okay?" Still nothingmy heart began to race. "Cullen!" I begged, my voice breaking, my hand gripped his jersey tighter,"Edwardplease!" His eyes fluttered open, they held a glazed look, and began wildly searching mine. "Edward," I brought my voice down, "Can you hear me Edward?" I kept my eyes locked on his, my head blocking his line of vision so that he could only see me. He blinked in rapid succession and finally his eyes focused on my face. "Reina?" his voice was barely a whisper. I nodded, my mind swirling at the sound of his voice, at the term he called me, "It's okay Edward, you're okay." He raised his hand slightly as if he were trying to touch my face. I could see out of the corner of my eye a stretcher being brought over with the medic team. I reached up and took his hand with both of mine. "You're going to be okay. The doctor is here. Just stay still." "Reina," he blinked again and drew a shaky breath; "my head hurts like hell." "Don't move Edward. They're going to take you for x-rays." "No." His hand gripped mine tighter, "No." "Don't worry," I tried to keep the hysteria out of my voice, "You'll be fine."
- 197 -

The physician was pushing me out of the way now and the medic team surrounded him, putting a neck brace on him to prevent further injury, and carefully lifting him onto the stretcher. I watched silently biting down on my lower lip as they wheeled him away. The crowd clapped emotionally for him making me fight back my tears even more. Jacob had already prepped our second string quarterback and was now focused back on the game. We won our first game of the season 28 to 24 but I really didn't care.

EPOV "Are you sure you don't want me to do anything about those tabloids? I mean The Globe was pretty tame but the National Enquirer went so much to say that Jacob Black was going to fire you for going after his girl." Allen was chatting at a rapid pace and I shifted the receiver of my phone to my other ear, still half asleep. He had called me before the sun even came up for God's sake, all to tell me that the Sports Illustrated issue has been released, which I already knew, and that the tabloids were having a field day with the cover picture, which I didn't know. "Allen, don't even bother. Nobody believes that shit anyways." I sat up in my bed and glanced down at my nightstand where the magazine lay, the picture of me and Bella looked back at me, taunting me. I could feel my dick twitch just remembering how Bella's hair fell loose around her face when Mr. Miller snapped that picture. "Are you absolutely positive? We could sue them you know." "Don't get all sue happy on me Allen." I kicked back the covers on my king sized bed, "besides it's just a couple of pictures, no big deal." "Let's just hope Mr. Black doesn't think it's a big deal, after all Ms. Swan is dating him." Allen's voice suddenly began to annoy me. "I don't give a fuck what Black thinks." I rolled over to my side picking up the magazine studying it, "and honestly Allen, I don't think Coach Swan is dating him."
- 198 -

"Oh really?" Allen's voiced perked up, "What makes you say that?" I shrugged into the phone, I really didn't know what made me say that, it was just a feeling I had. Something I picked up just by watching them on the field. I had no doubt Black wanted Bella, that I could see fucking clear, but there was something in the way that Bella always held herself at an arms distance from him. The way she would position her body so even thought it was near his, it was not really his, she was not really his. "I don't know Allen," I sighed heavily, "I'm just saying, that's all." "Alright Mr. Cullen," I could hear Allen shuffling around in the background, "I'll call you later on if anything else turns up." "Okay, thanks Allen." Still holding the phone in my left hand I continued to study the magazine in my right, I had to admit that picture of Bella and I looked fucking hot. We were both looking at each other like we wanted to rip our clothes off any second now. Curiosity got the better of me and I dialed downstairs to the bellman of my apartment complex. It rang twice before being answered. "Hello?" "Eric, this is Mr. Cullen from the penthouse. Could you please arrange to send up copies of the National Enquirer and The Globe right away?" "National Enquirer and The Globe sir?" "Yes Eric, and any other magazine that has my picture on it." "Of course, right away sir." "Thanks Eric." Fifteen minutes later I was sitting with my legs crossed on top of my bed surrounded by an array of magazines all claiming that Bella and I were having some sort of steamy affair. My laughter echoed throughout my bedroom as I read yet another blazing headline, Gorgeous New Coach Falls for Hot Quarterback. If only they really knew. I shook my head slowly, my eyes sweeping over the various pictures of Bella looking like she was entering a hotel, apparently to be meeting me.
- 199 -

I frowned slightly, I would never take her to a shitty place like that, hell, if she were going to be meeting me I would bring her here, to mypenthouse, to my bed. I clenched the magazine harder in my hand, what was I thinking? Why in the hell was she still getting to me this way? My eyes fell on her picture again, God she was gorgeous. Sighing I tossed the magazine back onto the bed; I leaned back against the headboard and closed my eyes. Our first game was Sunday and I had spent the entire week at practice working with Bella and the offensive line. While it had been awkward at first I eventually stopped looking at her as the girl who had broken my heart, to the woman who knew damn well what she was talking about, I was really blown away with how good she actually was at her job. It seemed as if she were shifting away from her hostility towards me as well. In the middle of a practice she actually praised me. It wasn't much, just three little words, "Great Pass Cullen." But it was the way she said it, the change in the pitch of her voice, the way her eyes turned upward to my face, that took me by surprised and sent my heart leaping up to my throat, filling me with excitemementjoyhope? I just grinned back at her like a lovesick fool. I left the magazines on my bed and got up heading for the shower, there was no point in trying to get any more sleep now. Gameday is always chaotic in the NFL, the players either get cocky and act like asses, or fall completely silent like zombies. I always strived to go the zombie route but more often than not I am an ass. It is just something about knowing there was going to be thousands of people waiting for you, screaming your name, worshiping you, that made most guys think they are God's gift to mankind, me included. The second Bella stepped into the locker room I could feel my demeanor change. She looked so beautiful and flushed in her tan khaki pants and black tee shirt with the orange Warriors logo on the front, I didn't fight it, instead I went with it. Her hair was pulled back in a low ponytail with a few loose tendrils framing her face. Her Warriors windbreaker was draped over one arm and her clipboard, she held, in the other. Letting the last of my anger fade away I observed her silently as the team chaplain led us in team prayer. I know I should have been praying for a win but instead I was praying for something else, just watching Bella, not caring if anyone noticed me. Her eyes locked with mine the second the prayer was over as if she had known all along that I was looking at her. Those black sparkling eyes made my heart
- 200 -

accelerate, and for some reason I wanted to let her know that. I didn't break our gaze; I just about smiled at her. Then without thinking about it, I gave her a quick nod and slid my helmet on. Her eyes widened just for a second, then she looked down. The guys began shoving each other hollering for victory, forcing my mind back on the game. Seconds after kickoff Black was barking a rushing order into my ear. I was roaring to go; he tapped me on my helmet and pointed at me. "You're the man Cullen!" I pointed back, that's right I was, and he better not forget it. The overwhelming urge to look at Bella before I turned around and headed out onto the field won out, and my cocky ass self grinned and winked at her. I ran out onto the field on a high I hadn't had in six long years.

The last thing I remember was feeling upset, my center was off on the hut count. Our guard was shifting too late, and my wide receiver was cutting short too soon making me scramble over to the sidelines. Two blue and white jerseys were suddenly in my face and my world went black. I was back, lying in my bed, Bella was moving up and down my entire length moaning slightly. The feeling was amazing, I wanted to reach up and grab her hips to pull her closer to me but I couldn't find the strength. I strained and fought with my body trying to lift it upward, trying to bury myself in her. Bella was asking if I was okay, "Are you okay?" her voice was faint, far away. Still she rotated her hips, arching her back gasping. She wanted meshe was begging me "Edward please!" The sound of her voice drifted past my ears invading my senses. The dull roar of the crowd filled my head, making it pound. I struggled to open my eyes. I could see her face, inches away from mine, her hair hanging over one shoulder. She had stopped moving, I didn't want her to stop moving.

- 201 -

"Reina?" Please don't stopI fought with my body, willing it to move, trying to shake the pounding from my head. Please keep going "You're going to be okay." I think I told her my head was hurting, that's why I couldn't move, couldn't make love to her properly. She was mad, I could hear it in her voice, it sounded almost hysterical. "Don't move Edward." But I couldn't stop struggling, my heart ached for herneeded her. And then she was gone from my sight, a bunch of men surrounded me, whisked me away from her. My head continued to pound and I felt powerless to stop it. I squeezed my eyes shut trying to block out the noise, knowing at that second... Fourth quarter had just started

"The x-ray showed all clear Mr. Cullen. No concussion, no visible damage. You basically got the wind knocked out of you." The team physician stood by my makeshift hospital bed back in the medical room of the stadium. "Thanks." I shifted the ice pack that was resting on my head and leaned further back onto the bed. My head still hurt like hell, as well as the rest of my body. "You shouldn't practice for a few days but I'm pretty sure you'll be released to play for next Sunday." I gave him a quick nod being careful not to move my head too much. He scribbled something down on his clipboard and handed me a small paper. "Prescription for the pain, we already gave you a shot so you should feel better in about 20 minutes. Call me if you start to feel worse." He turned and left the room. I closed my eyes trying to remember the sack and
- 202 -

wondered briefly if I had fumbled the ball in the process. I could hear rambunctious cheering going on in the next rooms, I strained to make out the voices. Was the game over already? The door behind me opened gently and tapping of soft footsteps entered the room. Bella's form appeared beside my bed. Her eyes held a tired worried look. I gave her a sheepish smile suddenly feeling self conscious with this damn ice pack on my head. "How are you feeling?" she asked soberly. "Like shit." I tried to joke. She winced slightly at my words and I was instantly filled with regret, "Okay," I remedied, "not too bad." Her eyes washed over my form as if she were checking for more injuries, and then back up resting on my face. "The doctor says there's no concussion." I added helpfully, "I should be fine for next Sunday." She nodded quietly, probably mentally accessing if I should play next Sunday. I tried to sit up straighter to show her I was fine, but the pounding prevented me from lifting my head. "Don't." Bella raised her hand, and for a second I thought she was going to place it on my chest, but she didn't, instead she lowered it back down and let it rest of the side rail of the bed. My pulse quickened at the thought of her touching me. Disappointment filled me when she didn't. I was in too much pain to fight her; I just nodded slightly and let my body go limp back against the bed. "I'm glad you're okay." Her voice fell to a soft whisper. I looked up into her eyes; they held a look, a look I hadn't seen since I was 18. More rambunctious laughter floated down the hall, Bella turned her head slightly towards the noise as if she were getting ready to leave. Anxiety surrounded me, I didn't want her to leave. "Did we win?" I tried to keep the conversation flowing.
- 203 -

"Yes, 28 to 24. Brenton managed to move the ball the last 20 yards to the end zone." I stared at her hand on the bed rail fighting the urge to grab it in mine. "That's great." She took a slow step back letting her hand fall away from to rail down to her side. "I better let you rest." Her eyes searched mine carefully for a few seconds before she added, "you don't rememberyour head must hurt badtry and rest." She turned and walked out of the room leaving me to the quiet confines of the colorless walls and tremulous emotions.

Next up...Alice's wedding...see you there! Reviews?

- 204 -

Chapter 20
The Wedding of the Century. Get your Kleenex ready... Song of the dayHere and Now by Luther Vandross Enjoy! Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight. I own all the football knowledge. :)

BPOV I slowly helped Alice place her veil on top of her head, careful not to disturb the perfectly placed curls that were framed around her face. We were standing in front of a large mirror getting ready for the wedding of the century. Alice was marrying Jasper today. It was just us two in the bridal room; Alice had opted not to have any bridesmaids, just a maid of honor. I slid the last bobby pin into her hair and fluffed the veil behind her. She looked back at me through my reflection in the mirror, her eyes shining with emotion. "There, it's perfect." I placed my hand on her shoulder smiling at her, "You look beautiful." Alice spun around and faced me throwing her arms around me in delight. "Thank you Bella. I can't believe this day is finally happening." Alice had spent months going over every single detail of this wedding. Every item from her four thousand dollar designer wedding gown to the intricate monogram of the napkins that were going to be used on the tables was inspected with a fine toothed comb before passing the "Alice test." I watched her walk across the room and scoop up her bouquet. She looked elegant, and regal, and radiated of happiness.
- 205 -

Her diamond ring sparkled brilliantly, reflecting small rays of light all around her. My eyes slid down to my left hand. Jacob had given me a ring last night. It was not an ordinary diamond engagement ring but a heirloom engagement ring that had been his great great grandmothers and was passed down from generation to generation. It was not flashy by any means and the diamonds did not have many cuts to them so they did not sparkle like the more modern diamond rings, but it was sturdy and dependable, just like Jacob. I smoothed down my bridesmaid dress with my hands trying to push last night's events out of my mind. Jacob and I had gone out to dinner. It was not a romantic dinner or anything; we were actually discussing ways to control our opponent's defense for our upcoming game. We were scheduled to play the Dallas Cowboys the following Sunday, Dallas had the number one defense in the NFL so we knew we were going to be in for a fight. And there, right in the middle of us scribbling plays on our dinner napkins, Jacob pushed a small black velvet box across the table stopping it right in front of me. It had been quite a while since his proposal and I had secretly begun hoping he had forgotten all about it. But of course, my luck would never allow that to happen, and I had to force myself to smile and act excited to be accepting a ring from him. "Are you ready to get this show on the road ladies?" Alice's father peeked his head through the doorway. It was time

EPOV The church was filled, almost overflowing, with people all waiting to see Alice and Jasper get married. I didn't want to come to this wedding. I seriously considered pretending to be sick so that I wouldn't have to go. I understood, for media appearances, the entire Warrior family was coming together to see our Vice President of Brand Management get married, but honestly, I didn't want to pretend to make nice with Alice and Jasper. Alice hated my fucking guts and made no effort to hide it. The minute we came
- 206 -

face to face out on the field she gave me this deathly stare, her tiny frame rigid with anger. When I made no effort to acknowledge her, she flipped her head around, rolling her eyes, and stalked off. I really wanted to grab her by the arm and shake her, ask her why the hell she was pissed off at me when it had been her best friend who hurt me, who had gotten rid of our baby. But I didn'tI was too proud; I didn't want her to know that I was still thinking about those days. Didn't want her to know they were still haunting me. There was one person from my past that did talk to me though. Bella's father, Coach Swan, and it wasn't pleasant. I had gone out on the field a few hours early for practice one morning, wanting to throw a few balls before anyone showed up. I didn't see Coach Swan there until he was almost in front of me. "Cullen, I want to talk to you." Coach Swan's voice was rough, dripping with animosity. I looked over at him, and upon hearing his tone of voice I completely ignored him. I had nothing to say to the man anyways. "You stay away from Bella, you hear me. She wants nothing to do with you." His voice was dangerously low. My head snapped in his direction and I took a menacing step forward. "And I want nothing to do with her" I spat. "Good." He looked around him quickly and then right back into my eyes, "cause if I find out you are talking to my daughter about anything besides football you're going to suffer a lot more than just a sack on the sidelines" Fury, red and hot, burst through my body. "I have no intention of talking at all to your precious daughter" I clenched my fists getting closer to him, looking down at him. I wasn't 18 anymore, he didn't scare me one bit, "and if you ever threaten me again I will own and buryyou..." Coach Swan shifted his eyes away from mine for a second, taking a hesitant step
- 207 -

back. "Don't fuck with me Cullen." His voice was still threatening but his body leaned away from me. I suddenly saw him for what he really was, a tired old man who was just trying to protect his daughter. He no longer intimidated me, no longer held any power over me. I relaxed my hands at my sides and bent down to pick up another football. "I'm through fucking Swans Charlie" I didn't bother looking at him any longer and let the football soar out of my hands across the field. Coach Swan hadn't spoken another word to me after that. A small rustle ran through the church jerking me to attention, the swell of organ music filled the room. Every head turned towards the huge wooden double doors awaiting the entrance of the bridal party. Finally the doors opened. I involuntarily sucked in my breath. There stood Bella. Her eyes were all bright and radiant, a soft shy smile at her lips. A lump formed in my throat as she took her first step. Tiny white flowers were nestled among her glistening black curls. Her ice blue strapless gown hugged her bodice tightly and then flowed gracefully down all around her, stopping just above her silver heels. She was holding a small bouquet of blue and white flowers with silver ribbon entwined all around it. She began making her way down the aisle, her dress flowing around her in a sea of blue, making her skin glow. My imagination went into overdrive and I envisioned, for a second, that I was the one standing at the front of the church proudly watching her walk down the aisle towards me, as my bride. Her eyes swept over my own just as she was passing me. The impact of her eyes on mine sent my head spinning and my heart into a flurry. I could feel my hand digging into the wooden base of the church pew. Her head tilted slightly and her face suddenly broke into a sparkling smile.
- 208 -

I gripped the pew tightershe was smiling...at me.

BPOV I was holding my bouquet in a death grip as I made my way down the aisle. A million eyes were on me making me feel extremely self conscious. I took small, perfect, uniform steps as the music swelled, filling the church with a romantic melody, Alice would be proud. I focused my gaze straight ahead as I passed each church pew. Out of the corner of my eye a head full of messy black hair captured my attention and not being able to fight it, I tilted my head in that direction. Edward was here looking absolutely handsome. He stood tall and noble in his dark navy suit, one hand resting on the base of the pew, the other in his trouser pocket. His eyes were beaming as he watched me go by. My heart and mind drifted briefly, on their own accord, fantasizing that this were my wedding day, and that I was walking down the aisle to meet him. I could still hear his soft whisper float through my head, "Reina?" The way his hand had gripped mine tightly when I told him the doctor was going to take him for x-rays. My heart battled furiously with my brain right there in the middle of the churchright there as I walked down the aisleright therein front of Edward. My heart won. I could feel my mouth turn upward, and like a burst of sunshine, I gave Edward the most heartfelt smile I could muster. He looked bewildered at first, but then, even though I didn't quite understand why it was happening, or how we had gotten here to this point, he smiled back. Not just any smile, but one that spread across his entire faceone that showed
- 209 -

those perfect white teeth and adorable dimplesone that held that lopsided grin that made my heart do flip flopsthat smilemy smile.

EPOV I was falling again. I knew it; it completely enthralled and infuriated me at the same time. That beautiful haughty goddess that I once loved to distraction, stood up at the altar, her hair spilling over her shoulders and down her back like a silken waterfall, once a girlnow a woman, was still able to break through those carefully placed barriers I had put up around me, and imprison my heart. I sat there, oblivious to the world around me, watching herstudying her. Her eyes would occasionally sweep over the room and rest on mine. Her face was soft, relaxed, and full of bright glimmering hope. An inner war raged through me, could I dare do this again? Could I even find it somewhere in my heart to push out those painful memories and sleepless nights and let Bella once again posses me? She leaned over then, and took Alice's bouquet as the Priest began the vows. My eyes traveled from the Priest, to Alice and Jasper, and then finally rested on Bella. She was looking down at the flowers that filled her hands. She brought both bouquets closer to her body, lifted her head, and looked directly at me. Those beautiful black eyes pierced into my soul and surrounded me with emotions that I thought I would never feel again "I, Alice, take you Jasper, to be my husband, my partner in life, and my one true love. I will cherish our union and love you more each day than I did the day before. I will trust you and respect you, laugh with you and cry with you, loving you faithfully through good times and bad, regardless of the obstacles we may face together. I give you my hand, my heart, and my love, from this day forward for as long as we both shall live. This is my solemn vow" My heart began to ache in a funny way as I listened to the words, never taking my eyes off of Bella.

- 210 -

BPOV Whatever had taken hold of my heart now felt a thousand times stronger as I stood next to my best friend, my gaze never leaving Edward's face, listening to Alice pledge her love to Jasper. The world around me faded into the walls until it felt like Edward and I were the only two left in the room. Our eyes were riveted on one another, surrounded by beautiful flowers, enchanting music, and loving words. The intense burning expression on his face and the way his eyes searched mine left me breathless. I was rooted in my spot, unable to move. My heart swirled, drifted, and floated, on those promised, unspoken whispers of Edward's eyes. "I, Jasper, choose you, Alice, as my everything. I vow to love you through sickness and health, through the good and the bad, through richer and poorer. You are everything I need, and at this moment I know that all my prayers have been answered and that all of my dreams have come true. This is the moment I have waited my whole life for. I promise to give you my all and I know that I could not ask for more from you. I love you and always will. This is my solemn vow" Time stood stilllingering heavenly in the amorous atmosphere around me. I basked in it...in the smell of the small flowers of the bouquets, the glowing lights of the candles, the loving caress of Edward's eyes, but it was over all too soon. The church erupted in cheers as the Priest pronounced Alice and Jasper, husband and wife. Alice bounced happily as I returned her bouquet to her and watched her blissfully walk back down the aisle with Jasper at her side. I walked behind them casting one more glance in Edward's direction, he was still watching me steadily, sending tiny shivers of anticipation throughout my body. The crowd swarmed all around us offering congratulations to the newlywed couple. I stood attentively at Alice's side like a good maid of honor. We were then whisked away in a limousine to a small garden hidden past the outskirts of town where we took, what felt like, a gazillion pictures.
- 211 -

When it felt like I couldn't smile a second longer the photographer announced he was done and we headed to the fairytale location where reception was going to be held. Alice had chosen Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel for her party. Situated right on the edge of the Pacific Ocean with its sun streaked lobby and balmy palm trees it reeked of high class Hollywood glamour. Walking into the private Lavande that overlooked the ocean, Alice and Jasper were instantly greeted with congratulatory cheers and applause. I hung back slightly leaving them to the limelight. My eyes surveyed the area around me. Huge chandeliers hung from the ceiling. Wall scones adorned the walls with soft flickering light. An entire wall was made of glass and offered an amazing view of the ocean down below. I searched the sea of faces, hoping to catch a glimpse of that messy black hair again, but there were too many people around us. It was impossible to see past the area right in front of my face, much less further down the room. The overpriced wedding coordinator that Alice had hired specifically for the reception quickly made his way over to us and ushered us all to the head table. I took my seat on the right side of Alice; Jasper was seated at her left. Jacob finally appeared in my line of vision smiling and full of good spirits; Alice had promised him he could sit at our table with me, he leaned over and gave Alice a hug and shook Jasper's hand. Moving to my side, he slid into the seat next to mine and brought his face close for a kiss. Panic coursed through my veins at the possibility of Edward catching our exchange, guilt washed over me when I turned my head at the last second pretending that something had caught my eye, entangling me in a web of my own emotions. Jacob pressed a kiss to my cheek instead, unaware of my reluctance to return his affections. "You look beautiful." He whispered in my ear before he pulled away smiling. Like clockwork, caterers appeared out of nowhere and began placing elegant dishes of food before us. While everything looked absolutely delicious I had no appetite and pushed the food around my plate with my fork. Jacob chatted happily by my side praising the food and exemplary service. I didn't dare seek out Edward with Jacob by my side. The evening wore on slowly.
- 212 -

The cake had been cut, and the first dance had been danced. Before I knew it, it was time to catch the bridal bouquet and Alice had grabbed my hand practically dragging me out to the floor leaving me amidst a sea of desperate, edgy maidens that could put any linebacker to shame at their aggressiveness. I was being jostled by hands and elbows as the throng of women all pushed for the best spot up near the front. Wavy blonde hair swept in front of me, her high pitched laughter ringing in my ears, her face looked vaguely familiar and I tried to place where I had seen her before. In order to avoid the pushing, I fell back, letting them all cut in front of me. I was already wearing an engagement ring; I didn't need anything else to bind me to a wedding I didn't want in the first place. Alice stood on a chair, her back to us, Jasper below her, holding her at the waist. At the count of three Alice was suppose to toss the bouquet, the women all lurched forward, their arms outstretched. But Alice was a smart cookie and waited a heartbeat after three before she flung those flowers with all her might. They soared over all the women's screaming faces and landed, plop, right into my hands. I looked down at the flowers in disbelief and back up at Alice who was giggling like a maniac giving me a thumbs up sign. The crazed eyes of bouquet missing damsels were all focused on me, filling me with a sense of dread. I turned on my heels ready to sprint out of the room if necessary when Jasper announced it was time to throw the garter. The women, no longer interested in my flowers, turned and began clearing the floor for all of Los Angeles's most eligible bachelors. That's when I finally saw Edward. He was out on the floor, his teammates all around him. His eyes danced with merriment as the entire offensive line stood in front of him in mock football formation. Laughter broke throughout the room at the sight and then quickly turned to hoots and whistles as Jasper took over the show, making a huge production of ducking underneath Alice's wedding gown in search of the prized garter.
- 213 -

Once he emerged, red faced and grinning, prize in hand, the men quickly began shoving each other, yelling for Jasper to throw it their way. Jasper was as bad as Alice. He threw it on the count of two instead of three, catching the men off guard. One bronze arm shot up over the sea of heads and grasped the garter tightly in a closed fist. Edward danced out everyone's reach in true quarterback fashion, the garter nestled safely behind the protection of his folded arm. Alice shot me a quick apologetic look before Jasper whisked her away, as the wedding photographer descended upon me, guiding me over to where Edward stood, for a picture. Only I wasn't upset, I was actually delighted at the prospect of standing next to Edward, holding the bridal bouquet in my hands. The photographer gestured at Edward, indicating that he wanted Edward to put his arm around my waist. Edward's hand slowlydeliberately slid across the small of my back before resting on my hip, leaving a hot tingling trail along the way, radiating and burning into my side. He tightened his grip around me as we both smiled for the camera and seemed hesitant to release me once the picture had been taken. We both turned to look at each other once the photographer had thanked us and went on his way in search of the bride and groom.

EPOV "Would you like to dance?" I let my hand sweep across the air towards the dance floor, my eyes never leaving Bella's face. I was taking a gamblecrossing that imaginary line that had been drawn between us since the night of the Gala. Bella watched me carefully, cautiously, before giving me a delicate smile and nodding once.
- 214 -

My hand itched to grab hers as I led her out to the middle of the gleaming wooden floor, but I held back from taking it, not sure of where I stood in her heart. A slow pulsing harmony began filling the room; I turned to face her, my heart beating wildly in my chest, I finally extended my hand to her. Her eyes fell down to my outstretched hand and back up to my pleading eyes. She hesitated for just a second, a mixture of emotions flashing across that beautiful face, and then, as the walls crumbled around us, she walked right into my arms. The minute her body pressed against mine and those arms slid down my head and around my neck, I was gone, gliding back to a time where my world was absolute whole and perfect. I let my hands skim down her spine and rest on her lower back. I lowered my head, letting my nose bury into those silken curls breathing in her familiar scent. Her cheek lay firmly against my chest, her hands lingering on the back of my head. Our eyes drifted close at the same time, our breathing leveling out, our bodies completely reacquainted, and in tune, with one another. Somewhere when the song had reached its crescendo and the chorus had begun I pulled her tighter against me and finally had the courage to speak. "Do you remember," I whispered achingly along the curve of her ear, my voice catching in my throat, "how this used to feel?" Bella moved her head back and studied my face, her lower lip trembled, her hand tightened into my neck. I searched her eyes in desperation, trying to read her emotions. "What happened to us?" My eyes implored hers for answersanswers to those questions that had tormented me for so long. Why?...Why did you hurt me so bad?...Why did you hurt our baby?...Why didn't you love me anymore? Her wide black eyes glistened with unshed tears and she choked back a sob, slowly she shook her head, her hair tumbling around her bare shoulders in soft waves.

- 215 -

BPOV Every fiber of my being was screaming out to be held in Edward's arms as he swept his hand in front of him asking me if I would like to dance. I followed him out onto the floor my knees shaking with every step I took. He turned and held out his hand to me as the music rippled all around us. I watched the lines of his upturned hand in ragged fear knowing that the minute I put my hand in his, whatever barriers I had left around my heart, would be gone. But the look in his eyes was too overwhelming to resist and my heart achingly cried out for his touch, so without further hesitation I walked back to where I belongedwhere I had always belongedwrapped up perfectly in Edward's warm embrace. His hands floated down my back in a gentle caress before sliding around my waist and pulling me close to him. Almost desperately I slid my hands down the back of his head and curled my fingers around his neck, unable to resist the urge to feel his hair beneath my fingertips again. For those first few seconds we managed to shut out the world, even though it continued to spin all around us, we had found, just a little bit of heaven. As the music rose, lifting us higher along its peak, I felt Edward's warm breath on my ear. "Do you remember," his voice was painfully raw, and thick with emotion, "how this used to feel?" My mind spun, making me dizzy with need. I knew exactly how this used to feel. I had never forgotten itit still kept me awake at nightfilling me with longing and regret. I pulled my head back and saw nothing but desperation in those chocolate brown eyes. I clutched him closer to me, wanting more than anything to take away the pain etched into that beautiful face. "What happened to us?" he begged, and all those years of pent up emotions and repressed pain bubbled up to the surface threatening to spill over.
- 216 -

I wanted to grab him and beg him Why?Why did you run off with the first girl you saw in Texas?Why didn't you come home when I lost your baby?Why didn't you want me anymore?...Why didn't you love me anymore? I choked back sob and shook my head at him. Where did he want me start? I drew in a shaky breath and looked deep into those tormented eyes ready to tell him everything. Neither of us was aware that Jacob had stalked across the dance floor and was looming over us until I felt the pressure of his hand gripping my shoulder and pulling me gently away from Edward's arms. "May I?" Jacob's voice was cool; his eyes hard, as he stood face to face with Edward, "I haven't had a chance to dance with my fiance yet." Edward stiffened instantly in my arms, his jaw clenched, his hands falling limply to his sides. He took a step back pulling away from me sharply. His eyes shot down to my left hand resting on the tell tale ring that I suddenly wanted to yank off my finger as panic ensued me. I was losing himI felt itand it terrified me.

EPOV You've been a fool! My brain screamed at me as I stared into Black's challenging eyes. She's just been playing you... My eyes fell on the ring Bella wore on her left hand. I immediately pulled up the wall around me, my body rigid, my face devoid of emotion. She doesn't love youshe never loved you! "Of course," my words were harddeliberatebiting "We're finished here
- 217 -

anyways." Without another glance in her direction I turned around and strode off the dance floor. Anguish filled my entire being; my body shook with it, as I walked over to the large glass wall. My eyes swept around the room, searching. I needed to get the hell out of here. I spotted her finally, she was holding a champange glass in one hand as she made her way towards me... "There you are! I've been looking for you." she said.

BPOV I watched Edward walk away from me his words still stinging in my ears. "We're finished here anyways." Jacob, obviously pleased with himself, tried to gather me up into his arms. I fought valiantly with my tears, my body stiff with grief. Go after him! My heart screamed. I pushed my way around Jacob and took a step forward. "Bella?" Jacob's voice was low and questioning. I ignored him, looking past the crowd of dancers, trying desperately to follow Edward with my eyes. I took another step, I could see him now, he was standing isolated and alone by the glass wall, the waves rose and crashed on the rocks behind him. He still loves you. My heart called out to me. He still wants you. Desolation surrounded me, this was going to end tonightwhether I won or lost...Edward was going to know how I still felt about him. "Bella wait." Jacob's voice rang behind me. Still, I stumbled on, not bothering to turn around.
- 218 -

Edward couldn't see me coming; his head was turned in the other direction, his eyes washing over the crowd. That's when I saw her; she walked up to him, placed her hand on his arm. Her long blonde hair fell in waves down her back, she said something to him and then tilted her head back laughing. My stomach turned, I froze. That's where I knew her from The memory of the website pictures flashed brightly in my head. Her head tilted back, Edwards face leveled right at her breasts. Laughing The bile rose in my throat and I dug my fingers into my arms. He couldn't have brought her herehe wouldn't be so cruel I spun around wildly gasping for air. My eyes fell on Jacob who was frozen in his spot watching me, confused and bewildered. I turned towards the beautiful carved wooden doors, lurching myself forward, pushing them open with all my might and tumbling out into the darkness, sobs wracking my entire body.

EPOV Charlotte's high pitched laugh stung my ears as she threw her head back and laughed at something she saw across the room that apparently amused her. I pulled my arm away from her roughly, and briskly began walking away. "Let's get out of here." My voice was filled with hostility which she immediately recognized and became the obedient little companion that Allen paid her very well for. I wasn't going to bring Charlotte; she had missed the wedding ceremony due to another engagement but made it to the reception, a bit late. Allen thought it would be good for the media to see me out with a date, so that ridiculous publicity that surrounded the photo shoot would die down.
- 219 -

I met Charlotte back in Texas while I was still playing for the Longhorns, she was one of the few girls Coach Brown allowed in the rec room, one of the few there who didn't throw herself at me. Those months after I had lost Bella she would sit with me, late at night in the rec room, listening to me rant and grieve her eyes tinged with sadness, empathy, and even guiltwhich I never figured out. I pushed my way out the doors, stepping out into the dark night. My lungs filled with cold, brisk, air; my heart heavy. Why fate was playing this cruel game with me I would never understand

Sigh...almost...maybe next chapter...;) Reviews? Don't hold back...

- 220 -

Chapter 21
Good to see you again! Hope you enjoy the chapter. :) Enjoy! Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight. I own all the football knowledge. :)

"I'm telling you, I don't want to do it anymore." Mack Brown stared at the open folder resting on his desk. He rubbed his forehead with the palm of his hand trying to shake that uneasy feeling that suddenly surrounded him. "This is the last time, I promise you" "What the hell do you have against him anyways?" "It's personal." "He's gonna come after our asses when he finds out." "He's not going to find outI'm taking care of that." "Charlie" Mack pushed back his chair and stood up resting the phone in the crook of his neck, "Cullen's not a kid anymoreyou're playing with fire." "I'll take that risk, don't worry about it." Charlie hung up the phone leaning against the side of his Cadillac in his garage. He rubbed his hand up and down his arm deep in thought; the tingling sensation that had been bothering him all morning was getting worse. I must have slept on it wrong. He thought to himself frowning. Turning around he picked up the small polishing cloth and began making small circles on the hood of his car. Cullen was finally going to be out of their lives now.

EPOV "What the hell are you talking about Allen?"


- 221 -

"I take it you haven't seen the paper?" The apprehension in Allen's voice rang loud and clear through the phone. I was beyond pissed. Furious in fact. I had been holed up in my penthouse all weekend long wallowing in my own fucking misery. I had no desire or patience to be strung along any further with whatever shit Allen was talking about. "I haven't even left my goddamn bedroom in all weekend much less read the paper, this is our bye week Allen, remember?" Allen gave a little huff through the phone. I could hear him shuffling things around in the background. "I think you better." Grunting, I stalked down the carpeted steps into my living room and headed for the foyer. Flinging open the door with more force than necessary I looked down on the floor, my eyes searching for the Los Angeles Times. Two large bundles lay neatly below. Plucking them both up in one swoop, I slammed the door behind me and headed back into the living room. I quickly unfolded them both scanning the headlines for some kind of fucking catastrophe that would make Allen call and bitch at me. "Deadly Citrus Disease Threatens StateState to join San Bernardino County Corruption probeL.A. County Judges Share Pain by Taking a Voluntary Wage Cut" I read off the headlines aimlessly, chuckling sarcastically at the last one. "The Sports Page Edward" I flung the newspaper sections around me recklessly until my eyes finally rested on the Sports section. NFL Leading Quarterback Cullen Past Drug Use Shakes Up the Warriors What the fuck? I gaped at the words springing out in front of me in bold black letters.
- 222 -

"What the fuck is this?" I demanded into the phone, shaking my head in disbelief. "I was hoping you would tell me." "Past drug use?" I pushed the paper away from me and stood up pacing back and forth in front of my sofa, "I've never done any fucking drugs." "Are you sure? There are rumors that pictures are floating around." "What? Where did you hear that?" "One of my guys is looking into that, I'm not sure if it's true or not." "Allen" My voice was deadly serious, "I've never done any fucking drugs. Whoever is claiming that I have, is fucking lying." "Not even with the Raiders? Or the Longhorns?" "Never." "Alright," Allen sighed into the phone, "I'm on itI'll let you know what I can find out about the source. I've already talked to Black on the phone. I won't be able to talk to Swan until she gets back." I frowned into the phone. "Gets back? Where'd she go?" "You haven't heard? Her Dad had a heart attack. It's pretty bad. She went back to her hometown to pick up some legal or financial papers or something like that. I don't know when she's coming back. I'm sure as soon as possible...to be with her Dad. He's at Cedars-Sinai." "Really?" I walked over to one of the large picture windows that overlooked the city, mentally fighting back the pang of concern for Bella's well being. "I hadn't heard about that, when did it happen?" "The day after their Vice President of brand management got married. Didn't you go to that wedding? How was it?" "Fucking fabulous." I muttered, shutting my eyes and pressing my forehead against the cold hard glass.
- 223 -

BPOV The flight back to Forks was long and stressful. I was living in another nightmare. The day after Alice's wedding, as I lay in my bed sobbing over all that I had lost, I received a frantic phone call from my Dad's housekeeper. My Dad had been out fiddling in his garage when he suffered a massive heart attack sending him to the hospital by ambulance. He was still in critical condition and of course as my luck would have it, most of his legal papers were back at our house in Forks. In order for me to be able to make any major medical or financial decisions for his care I needed the power of attorney papers that had been drawn up years ago, back when I was still in college. Thankfully I knew where he kept them in his old bedroom. Being the old fashioned guy that he was, everything important was kept in a small black lock box hidden in the back of his closet. I pulled the rental car into the driveway and turned off the ignition. I sat silently in the driver's seat my hands gripping the steering wheel in despair. Nothing was going right in my life. Not with Edwardnot with Jacoband now, not with my Dad. I didn't know what I was going to do if I lost my Dad. He was all I had, besides Alice, but she was a married woman now. Taking a deep breath, I pushed open the door and headed up the walkway. Might as well get this over with as quickly as possible. The inside of the house was cold and dusty. We never came here to stay anymore, my Dad would come once a year with his friends to go fishing, and they usually spent one night here at the house. Still, my Dad never wanted to sell it. I think it held a lot of sentimental value to him. I tossed my purse onto the covered sofa and trudged up the stairs. I passed my old bedroom door pausing slightly. Everything was still in the same place it had been back when I was still in High School. I stared at my bed trying to swallow the lump that had formed in my throat. That bedI shook my head sadly, it seemed that bed was the culmination of my entire life. From the first time I made love to Edward to the moment I lost his baby, it was all therein that bed. Nothing else, before or after, seemed to matter.
- 224 -

None of my accomplishments, not even my career could fill that empty hole. Sighing, I closed the door and turned away. There was no use in pondering it any longer. It was over between Edward and me, whatever it was that we stumbled on six years ago no longer existed, it was gone forever. I twisted the doorknob to my Dad's room and walked inside. Just standing there, surrounded by his things made me worry all over again for his health. The doctors told me it was going to be touch and go for a while. There was also the possibility of him never fully recovering. I walked over to the closet and slid the doors open. I had to move this old suitcase out of the way before I got to the box. The suitcase weighed a ton as I heaved it over to the side. Curious to what my Dad had in there I pulled the zipper open. Inside, in small neat bundles, were hundreds and hundreds of letters. I picked one up turning it over in my hands. Written in dainty feminine script was my Dad's name. I grabbed a few morethey were all addressed to my Dad. I dug through the piles wondering who my Dad had been corresponding with all this time. The envelopes were all open so I gently pulled the small piece of paper out of one of them, unfolding it. Charlie, An entire year has gone by. Why won't you let me see Isabella? How is she doing? Does she miss me at all? Do you even talk to her about me? She is my life Charlie and it is killing me that you won't let me see her. She's going to turn seventeen on Tuesday, she needs her Mother. I understand why you won't let me in your life but please let me be there for my baby. I love her. Please Charlie, can I call her on Tuesday? Just to wish her a Happy Birthday? I promise I won't tell her what happened. I love you,

With shaking hands I read the words over again. My Mother was begging my Dad if she could call me. I shuffled some of the letters around.

- 225 -

My own name written on some of them caught my eye. I tugged one out from underneath the piles, it was also unsealed. I pulled it open. Bella, You're graduating from High School today. I'm so sorry I can't be there to watch you. I want you to know that no matter what, I love you and think of you every day of my life. I know that you think I deserted you, just walked out of your life, but my heart has always been with you. I know you will become a strong independent woman and I hope with all my heart you will find joy and love. True love only comes once in a lifetime, if it ever happens to you baby, grab it and hang onto it with all you have, never let it go. Don't lose what I lost. I love you,

Confusion and pain swirled around me. I searched through the suitcase some more. There were so many letters. More than half were with my name on them. I choked back a sob; I always thought she had given up on me. I know I returned those first few letters and packages from her when she had run off. I had been hurt and angry and wanted to hurt her in return. When the letters stopped coming I thought she had finally gotten tired of tryinghad given up. Looking around at the sea of letters scattered all around me I realized she had never given up on me, or my Dad. She had always loved us. Why had my Dad kept this from me? All this timewhat else did he keep from me? Feeling like I was suddenly living in a dream I shoved them all back in the suitcase, brushing away the stray tears that slid down my face. I pulled on the black box, sliding it out. It took me a few minutes of fighting with the key before I got it open. I quickly checked through the papers making sure they were all there. I needed to hurry if I wanted to catch the early flight back home. Walking down the steps from the house my eyes fell to a tall regal looking woman standing on the edge of the sidewalk staring at me. Her short wavy hair fell to her shoulders, a large leather purse was hanging from her arm, and I noticed she held a handful of papers in one hand. I continued down the path and over to the trunk of the car placing the box down.
- 226 -

The woman made no effort to conceal her blatant glare. Feeling uneasy I glanced at her over my shoulder wondering if I knew her from somewhere. Maybe she knew I was a Warrior Coach and hated the Warriors, I got that sometimes. She wasn't moving so finally I turned around and took a couple of steps towards her. "Can I help you with something?" my voice was friendly and polite. Her brown eyes narrowed at me, she didn't say a word. I cocked my head to the side questionably. Waiting. Looking back into her face an uneasy feeling washed over me. Those eyesbeautiful chocolate brown eyesI would recognize those eyes anywhere. A sudden jolt of anxiety swept through my body. "Mrs. Cullen?" She nodded slightly and took a step towards me. "I read that you came back to Forks. I heard about your father." Her voice was cold, her posture rigid. I didn't know what to say so I just nodded my head. "Do you have a minute?" she asked glancing over at my car. "II have a flight to catch." I stuttered, backing away. I didn't want to talk to her. I had no idea why she would want to even converse with me. "It's about my son." The tone of her voice indicated that I was going to have to take a minute to talk to her whether I liked it or not. I shifted in place and sighed. Mentally I threw up my hands giving in, everything in my life was in shambles already, what worse could happen...right? "Please" I swept my hand up towards the front door, "come in."
- 227 -

Her eyes darted around the living room as I led her over to one of the sofas. I pulled back the white sheet that had been draped over it, and tossed it aside. "Please sit down Mrs. Cullen. How can I help you?" "I've come...hoping to appeal to you," she stared right into my eyes, "to leave my son alone." Her hand thrust out and she shoved some pictures towards me. I looked down startled, floating down from her hands onto the coffee table were two pictures, magazine clippings, to be exact. One was the Sports Illustrated photo spread, the other I hadn't seen before today. It was the picture Edward and I had taken at Alice's wedding. I picked it up slowly, trying my best not to cry, we were smiling in that picture. We both looked nervoushappyhopeful I guess some magazine had done an article on Alice's wedding, including us in the pictures. I looked up at Edward's mother trying to control my grief. "Leave him alone?" I shook my head, not understanding. "Miss SwanDespite what you may think, I am well aware of yours and my son's pastI understand you two have to work togetherbut please stay away from him. You nearly killed him before, and I won't stand by and idly watch you walk back into his life now and tear him to pieces again." The incredulity of her words stunned me, then filled me with anger and frustration. "I beg your pardon?" I said stiffly. "I don't know why he wants anything to do with you reallyyou murdered his baby rather than have it interfere with your precious life." Pain and rage coursed through my body, slashing at me like a thousand knives.
- 228 -

"How dare you say a thing like that to me! I miscarried!" "You had an abortion." Her voice was filled with venom, "you had an abortion when you were five months pregnant, then sent Edward a letter. A letter! After it was all done." I clenched my teeth at the hurt I had kept bottled up inside me for so long, but it couldn't be contained any longer. It exploded from me, aiming at the mother of the man who had caused all my suffering. "I never sent him any such thing! My father called him from the hospital after I miscarried, and your precious son never bothered to call meto come see me!" Tears leaped to my eyes making my vision blurry. "Don't play games with me!" Edward's mother suddenly shouted, "I know Edward came to see you, because I saw him!" Her words made my breath escape me with a large whoosh. "Hehe came back to see me?" Something strange and sweet burst into bloom in my heart and just as abruptly, it died. "That's a lie." I said flatly, "I don't know why he came back, but it wasn't to see me, because he didn't do it." "No he didn't see you," his mother said furiously, "and you know why he didn't see you, you had your father kick him off your doorstep!" I stared, open mouthed, as Edward's mother raged on. "I swear to God I don't know how you could have done something like that! When you murdered your baby he was wild with grief, but when you wouldn't let him see you it nearly killed him." I scarcely heard what she was sayingalarm bells were ringing loudly in my head. You had your father kick him off your doorstep! My brain frantically backtracked to that fateful night when I had lost the baby. My Dad words running through my head loud and clear
- 229 -

We don't need him, we'll be finejust the three of us And then back in the hospital "Edward knows." Alice had said to me. "Papa Charlie called him; he saidhe said it was for the best, and that he didn't want to see you anymore." My memory went over it again and again We don't need him, we'll be finejust the three of us Papa Charlie called him You had your father kick him off your doorstep! He wouldn'tHe couldn't "If my father kicked him out it was because of the pictures on the website!" I cried fighting against the anguishagainst the possibility of what my brain was thinking. "What pictures?" his mother jerked her head at me, "What are you talking about?" "The Longhorn website pictures!" the tears were falling freely now as I rambled on, "the one that was put up for the familyhe was drinkingthere was another girlhe was with herat the wedding!" Edward's mother placed her hand hotly on the sofa cushion leaning towards me. "What girl? What wedding? I think we both know Edward doesn't drink. You don't know what you're talking about! I know there was a Longhorn websiteI saw itI never saw any picturesany girl!" "That's a lie! There were lots of pictures! It was some kind of party! It was on that website!" I cried wiping at my tears. "Miss Swan" her voice strained, "I saw that websitethere were no such picturesMr. Mack Brown called me himself and gave me that website address. He said the address he had given Edward was wronghe told me that himself." Mr. Mack BrownThe bells were truly clanging nowMack Brown was one of my Dad's best friendsmy Dad used to be a Longhornthose pictures came from a Longhorn websiteThe address Mack Brown had given Edward was wrongbut it
- 230 -

had worked for meOnly Alice and I had seen those picturesit was because I had given Alice the website address myselfEdward didn't drinknever dranksomething was wrong here "My best friend told me that my Dad had called Edwardto tell him about my miscarriage" My mind was racing as the words tumbled out, "she said that Edward told my Dad it was for the best and that he didn't want to see me anymore She called his dorm herselfa girl answered She said Edward didn't want to talk to her" "Edward had been sick for two days" his mother was looking at me differently now, "at least that's what I was toldwith the fluMr. Brown called me upasked me if I had the Longhorn website addresshe gave it to metold me Edward had been sickhe said he was taking care of himgiving him some medicinetold me not to worry about himsaid there was someone taking care of him at his dorm..." She looked down at her hands, her voice now skeptical. "When I called his dorm to check on him, a girl also answered, told me her namebut I've forgotten it nowshe said Edward was sleepingbut that he was okaythe next thing I know five days later he was flying through our door in the middle of the nightwild with griefhe had driven, driven all the way homeusing one of those Longhorn cars for the playershe went to your house the next dayyour father wouldn't let him see youtold him you had found someone else who you wanted to be withthat the baby was gone." My mind spun furiously, afraid to believe herafraid not to believe her. "Mrs. Cullendid Edward really come to see me?" "You know he did" but the look in her eyes said differently, like she had the nagging premonition that I didn't know anything about any of this. "Mrs. Cullen," My voice was shaking terribly now, "Do you happen to remember when Edward came home?" "It was so long ago" she paused trying to think, "I think it was July 21st or 22nd, something like that. In the middle of summer." My brain worked furiously, trying to figure out the math "I was in the hospital for two weeks," I said softly, "I was very sickI was still in
- 231 -

the hospital on the 21st and the 22nd. I didn't get out until sometime around the 27th, near the end of the month. There was no way I was at home during that time." "Miss Swan," She was blinking back tears, her voice shook, "do you remember what you saw in those pictures?" "A party?" I closed my eyes, the pictures still vivid and clear, "in some kind of game roomthere was a pool tableguys arm wrestlingthen there were girlslots of girlsand beerEdward was holding a canthere was a blond girl on his lap...in another they were hugginglaughing in another one." "And Edward looked drunk?" I nodded silently. His mother shook her head sadly, "I can't imagine whyEdward hated drinking hated it." The room spun uncontrollably around me. My mind trying to wrap itself around what I was hearing, what I was realizing. The whole thingPenn StateLarry Johnson, my Dad's other best friendthe rejection letterthe sudden appearance of Mack Brown's offerthe websitethe pictureseverythingall the way up to the suitcase full of my mother's letters. "It was my Dad" I whispered. The reality of saying those words out loud hit me like a ton of bricks, shock flowed through my body, and regret made me bury my head in my hands sobbing. Regret for those anguished lonely months after my miscarriage, and all the years of suppressed pain at Edward's desertion that followed them. But most of all, I was filled with sorrow, deep, fresh, heart wrenching sorrow for my lost baby and for Edward and me, the victims of my Dad's manipulation. It tore at me, ravaged my heart and sent hot tears pouring out of my eyes and down my cheeks. "Mrs. CullenI didn't have an abortion!" I cried, "I swear I didn't! I never sent Edward any letter! It was my DadIt had to have been my Dad!"
- 232 -

Edward's mother suddenly sprang forward and pulled me into her arms, holding me in a tight embrace. "I may be a fool to believe you," she whispered as tears fell from her eyes, "but I do." She held my tightly as I wept into her arms, wept for the first time in someone's arms since I lost the baby. "I'm sorry!" I cried over and over again, "I'm so sorry!" She held me what seemed like forever as a lifetime of grief escaped me. The room was nearly dark when I finally pulled away. I sat frozen, almost zombie like on the sofa, still in shock over the discoveries of the afternoon. Edward's mother watched me carefully for a few seconds in silence then reached inside her bag. She placed a small white handkerchief into my hands, for my eyes. "Thank you Mrs. Cullen" "Please, call me Esme." Her eyes were so warm and looked so much like Edward's, it felt so good to be close to her. "There's something else I have to show you." She said softly, she reached into her bag again pulling out a small box. "I found this under Edward's mattress about a year after he left for college. I was changing the bedding and accidently came across it." She placed it carefully in my hand, placing her own hand over it. "Edward's father and I made a lot of mistakes when Edward was youngerwe know that nowwe know we were wrongbut you see Bellawe were so afraid of losing himand in the endwe lost him anywaysEdward doesn't talk to us much anymore." She pulled her hand away and placed it back gently in her own lap. I stared up into her eyes recognizing her own pain, her own torment. Carefully I opened the small box. Nestled inside was another pictureit was one of me and Edward standing on a red carpet, arms around each other, smiling happilyit was our prom picture. My eyes fell back to the box, and there underneath the picture was a small silver braceletthe bracelet Edward had given
- 233 -

me on prom night for our baby. Numb with pain, I clutched the bracelet in my fist, closed my eyes, and brought my hands up to my heart. "Where did he get this?" I whispered brokenly. "It came with the letter you said you didn't send." Her voice matched mine. I shook my head wondering if the grief was ever going to end. "My Dad must have took this out of my roomjust like everything elseit was all gone when I came back from the hospitalall gone." I choked out at the betrayal of my Dad's actions. Esme sniffled and gently patted my hand. "Bella," she tilted her head at me, "I'm so sorry." I looked back up into her eyes, those beautiful eyes, suddenly knowing exactly what I had to do. "I need to see Edward." The look in Esme's eyes told me that she was in complete agreement. "And then, "I said as a huge weight finally lifted from my shoulders, setting me free,"I need to have a little chat with my Dad" "Bella" Esme's eyes sparkled and she placed her hand over mine, "Would you like to come over for dinner"

Esme smiled and reached for her husband's hand. They stood at the doorway, as they watched Bella sleep, curled up peacefully beneath the blankets in Edward's old bed. "I'm surprised she accepted your offer to spend the night." Carlisle looked down at his wife's face. Her features were soft and finally worry free. "She couldn't get a flight out tonight; I couldn't let her stay all by herself in that
- 234 -

house. Not after what we found out." "Edward's going to go ballistic when he hears what happened." Carlisle shook his head, he glanced once more at the sleeping goddess his son had once been so madly in love with, "She really gets under his skin doesn't she" "Yes she does" Esme smiled gently pulling her husband away from the door, "she's the only one who ever has"

EPOV I was still madder than hell the next day. The rumor of my supposed drug use was all over the media; my phone had been ringing off the hook all day. I was really getting tired of this shit and didn't know how much more I could take. Bella hadn't returned from Forks yet, she missed practice, and despite how angry I was, I missed her "Sodid you find anything out?" "No, not yetbut I am getting the feeling it's closer to home than we think." "Stay on it Allen." "I willoh and Edwardthe caterers will be there to set up at noon. Is the penthouse ready, or do you need housekeeping to show up too?" "What?" "For the Promise Foundation charity event, remember?" "Fuck." I muttered. "You didn't remember? They're all going to be there at 7." "Yeah, yeahI remember." I ran my hand through my hair in annoyance. "Edward, don't screw it uptwo million dollars are riding on this event, some of the biggest names in the NFL are going to be there."

- 235 -

"I won't," I headed for my bedroom glancing around gloomily, I had forgottenit had been scheduled months ago, and I didn't want to host it anymore. "Charlotte can't make this one," Allen continued, "Do you want me to call Angela instead?" "Fuck no." I shuddered into the phone, "I'll do this one solo." "Okaylet me know if you change your mind." "Yeah." "I'll see you tonight." I sunk down onto my bed and buried my head in my hands. The downward direction my life was spiraling filled me with torment and I sure as hell didn't want to top it off with Angela. I had tried onceyears agoAllen had arranged for Angela to accompany me to a NFL eventI had seen Bella's picture in the paper that dayshe looked so beautiful and happyit sent me into a bitter furorI had let Angela drape herself all over me that nightI even went back with her to her place after it was over, trying to shake the anguish from my beingbut the minute Angela began kissing metouching meI felt sickrepulsedand I had to get out of there. I never touched another woman againit was uselessthere was no other woman out there for meI knew thatI was bound to itbound to her. I pushed myself off the bed and headed for my hot tub. Hoping the water would be able to wash away my feelings of despairmy feelings of lonenessthis was the way my life was going to beI just had to learn to accept it

Almost there everyone...almost there... Reviews? How do you imagine the reunion? ;)

- 236 -

Chapter 22
Welcome back! It's great to see you again! Hope I haven't made you wait too long. This is one long chapter...be warned...but should be worth it. :) Inspirations for this chapter: Missing You by John Waite and writer Judith McNaught. Thank you! Enjoy! See you down below... Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight. I own all the football knowledge. :)

EPOV The penthouse was packed full by the time 8pm rolled around for the Promise Foundation charity event. Two years ago I was approached by the American Cancer Society. We formed a partnership to help raise funds for children with Cancer. We named it the Promise Foundation, every year I was required to host a gathering that would include some of the top names in the NFL along with the families of children who were battling this terrible disease. Last year we managed to raise 1.2 million dollars, this year we were aiming for 2 million. A glass of apple cider in my hand, I stood over near the double doors that led to the kitchen watching the people mill about and mingle with one another. While I was glad that I was able to raise money for this cause, my heart really wasn't in it tonight, and I couldn't wait until it was over. Allen walked up to me and stood by my side. He remained quiet for a few minutes as we watched the crowd. "You know Mr. Cullen," he raised his glass to his lips, he didn't look at me, "you are the host of this party; you should be out there with your guests." I shrugged slightly, "Nobody gives a fuck Allen, they don't even know who I am."
- 237 -

"Everybody knows who you are." "They all think I'm a drug user." I frowned, my voice full of sarcasm. "No they don'tIt hasn't been proven yet." "Yet?" "It will never be proven Edward," Allen sighed, "sorry, my mistake. Besides no one is going to mention it tonight, the media here have all been warned, if they even make one remark about the drugs they are going to be kicked out of here." I remained silent not bothering to answer Allen, he might be sorry but I knew I was right. I could feel itthe entire room thought I was a drug usersome of the parents even steered their kids around me trying to avoid me as much as possible. And minglingI've never been good at mingling. I just fucking avoided it. I didn't mind giving an autograph or two, here and there, but socializing was not my thing. Just then a small ripple of excitement flew through the crowd. This was the third time it happened. The first was when Dan Marino stepped into the room, the second when Emmitt Smith came in, and now I was curious to see who had arrived. I kept my eyes riveted to the foyer waiting to see who was going to pass through, I could hear the echoes of "Oh My Gosh!" and "It's the coach!" I cocked my head to the side trying to see past the crowd that had gathered around the mystery person, visions of Jimmy Johnson and Mike Shanahan flew through my head. Finally the crowd thinned out. I sucked in my breathmy glass suspended halfway to my mouththere stood a very beautifulvery bewildered Bella Swan.

BPOV It took all my willpower not to race over to Edward's place as soon as my plane touched down. I forced myself to go home to shower and freshen up. I carefully picked out my clothes choosing a pair of dressy black slacks and pretty blue silky
- 238 -

sleeveless blouse. I left my hair down allowing it to flow in soft waves around my face. I really wanted to look my best. I had used the time on the flight home to try and think about exactly how I intended to tell Edward the truth. From the look of contempt on his face when he walked away from me at Alice's wedding I completely expected him to not believe me, in fact, I was betting that he was going to slam the door on my face the minute he saw me at his doorstep. But I was itching to tell himit was driving me crazy. What if it doesn't make one bit of difference? The small voice in the back of my head warned me. I shook it off, even if Edward felt nothing for me any longer, having this all out in the open would help us at least be friends. We would be able to put the past behind us and move onwe would be able to have a decent conversationbe able to be in the same room without wanting to kill each otherwe would be able to work together without it being so awkward. Yes, friendsif nothing elsewe would be friends. My hands shook slightly as I rode the private elevator to the Penthouse. I was grateful that the bellman simply ushered me in without bothering to check the contact list of guests who had permission to go up, I wasn't sure how I would have gotten around that one. I took a deep breath to steady my nerves when I reached the large steel door to Edward's penthouse. With a timid hand I rang the buzzer. And waited No one answered. I rang the buzzer again. This time the door swung open. I looked up into the eyes of what appeared to be a doormanor a waiter. He was dressed in black pants, a white button down pressed shirt, and black vest. He didn't say anything to me but simply stepped aside to let me enter.
- 239 -

I was a bit dumbstruck at the fact that Edward employed people to answer his door but I was even more stunned when I passed the foyer and a huge crowd surrounded me. "Oh My Gosh!" "It's the Warrior Coach!" "Look its Coach Swan!" The words tumbled around me as I tried to collect my thoughts. I had just walked into some kind of party. I glanced around me uneasily; Edward wasn't going to like this. I took a few small steps forward trying to find someone I recognized. "Coach Swan, It's a pleasure to meet you." I turned slightly and looked up into the eyes of one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. Dan Marino held out his hand to me offering me a friendly smile. I must have looked beyond star struck because he gave a small chuckle and reached for my immobile hand and shook it. "I think it's great that you and Cullen are working with the American Cancer Society. This money is really going to help the kids. Just look at them over there; they are so excited to be here they are practically jumping up and down." My eyes traveled over to a small group of delighted youngsters all surrounding Troy Aikman, and then over to a group of Warrior players talking to Brett Favre and signing autographs for another group of kids. "Umyes, thanks Mr. Marino." I looked back up at Dan still a bit in a daze. "Call me Dan." He smiled, "It was nice meeting you." I smiled politely and nodded, "an honor to meet you as well." I watched Dan walk away and then let my eyes sweep across the room. Edward's penthouse was truly magnificent. Gleaming cherry wooden floors spread throughout the room. The walls were a beautiful sage color with bold black accents. Exquisite art hung on the walls, and two large picture windows were draped with gorgeous silky luxurious drapes. The drapes were pulled open offering a breathtaking view of the night skyline. I noticed that the moon was full and bright and that the stars peeked out from the
- 240 -

darkness. I took a few more steps and turned slowly all the way around, soaking it all in, trying to memorize every single detail of how Edward lived. "Coach Swan," a tape recorder was suddenly thrust into my face, "How do you feel about the Warriors being seven and two so far?" I looked up startled to see a young reporter talking rapidly. "I'm pretty confident that we will continue to rise up to the occasion and perform well." I answered automatically, my coach brain taking over my stunned one. "And when did you become involved with Mr. Cullen?" My eyes grew wide at his blatant question. "I beg your pardon?" I stuttered. "With the Promise Foundation? Mr. Cullen's charity work for children battling cancer?" "Oh, I uhof coursethe Promise Foundation. Yes, the Warriors are proud to support Mr. Cullen and all our player's charity works." So that's what this wasEdward's charity fundraiser. "And Mr. Cullen's past? Do you support that as well?" The reporter glanced around him quickly and then turned back to me. I frowned, "Mr. Cullen's past? I'm not sure what you mean by that." The reporter pushed his tape recorder closer to me and took a step forward. An uneasy feeling washed over me, I didn't take my eyes off the tape recorder. "The speculation" the reporter lowered his voice, "what's your personal stand on it?" "I think it's time for you to leave," a low deep intimidating voice warned over the reporter's shoulder.
- 241 -

The reporter spun around and I looked up sharply. "You've already been warned," Edward's voice was dangerously pensive and I could see the anger flashing in his eyes, "so I suggest you leave quietly or be thrown out publically." Apprehension shot through me, he wanted me to leave, just like I thought. "My apologies Mr. Cullen," the reporter's voice broke through my thoughts surrounding me with even more confusion, "I will see myself out." Edward watched him walk away in silence and then turned to look at me. "What the hell are you doing here?" he demanded in a low voice, his head tilted down. I stood there frozen not sure how to answer.

EPOV Now I was fucking pissed. Not only was I going to have to deal with fucking reporters all trying to get dirt on me, I was going to have to deal with Bella who was standing in the middle of this mess looking up at me with this innocent wounded look on her face. I narrowed my eyes at her, "What the hell are you doing here?" I kept my voice low so that no one around us could hear. "I'm sorry"she stuttered, "I didn't know you were having a party. I needed to tell you somethingI didn't realize" "This isn't a party." I cut her off, trying not to growl, "It's a fundraiser, for charity, and you need to go now." She blinked at me, her big black eyes starting to glisten, I tore my eyes away from hers and looked over her head, trying to block out that look and the way it was making my heart skip.

- 242 -

"Of course." She whispered looking down at her hands, "I'm sorry I interrupted, I'll come back another time." "Don't bother," I kept my face emotionless, "I have no interest in anything you have to say." She didn't answer, just then a small boy appeared at her side, he tugged at her pants trying to get her attention. Bella looked down at him in surprise her mouth opening slightly. "I watch all your games." The boy said shyly, "Can I get your autograph?" She shot me a troubled glance before squatting down to the boy's level. "Hi," she smiled brightly at him, "What's your name?" "David." "Well hi David, are you a Warrior fan?" The boy nodded happily. I stood there silently watching the exchange, fighting with every fiber of my being not to become entranced by her presence her smileher voice. "It's wonderful to meet you David; I would love to give you an autograph." She took the small book from the David's hands and carefully signed her name. David watched her completely mesmerized, I felt like sympathizing with him, patting him on the back and saying, Yup buddy, I know how you feel. David finally tore his eyes away from Bella and looked up at me. "Edward Cullen," he said in an excited voice, "I saw you play last Sunday, you beat the Eagles." I smiled at him and nodded. "Will you sign my book too please?" "Of course buddy," I knelt beside Bella, she was watching me her eyes soft and admiring, I tried not to look at her as I took the book from her hands and scribbled
- 243 -

my name. "Thanks!" David skipped happily away from us clutching his book to his chest. I turned to look at Bella, "I think you were leaving." The harshness in my voice was deliberate as I rose back to my feet. I turned to walk away and nearly collided into Allen. "This is great Mr. Cullen. You actually got Swan here. You're going to pass 2 million for sure tonight." "Miss Swan is just leaving." I shot Bella a warning glance as she rose next to me. "You're kidding right?" Allen suddenly looked worried, "she can't leave, I just promised like five families a picture with her, and the press is thinking she is the hostess, this is totally going to help your image." I glared at Allen trying not to explode at him. He ignored me and turned to Bella. "You'll stay right?" he nodded his head at Bella, "for the Warriors? You'll stay?" Bella turned slowly and looked right into my eyes, "I'll stay" she said softly, a small smile playing at her lips, "I'll stay for Mr. Cullen." My heart stopped beating as I looked into her eyes, I was momentarily speechless at her words, at the way she said them. I tried valiantly to shake them off. Finally I shrugged at her, "Suit yourself." Both Allen and Bella watched me walk away from them with an air of indifference. Inside I was seething, I was angrier at myself because despite acting like a prick, I desperately wanted her to stay. For the next hour I stood, seethed, and watched as Bella enchanted and wowed the crowd. Her laugh floated through the air surrounding my senses, her eyes
- 244 -

sparkled as she moved from one child to the next, and her smile lit up the room wherever she went. She would look over her shoulder often, her eyes catching my own. Every time our eyes would meet she would smile at me, this sweet innocent loving smile, and every time I would fight vigorously with myself not to smile back. But it was wearing me down, my body ached to go stand next to her, to smile back at her. She was so close I wanted to reach out and touch her, make sure she was really herestanding in my penthouse mingling with my guests just as a real hostess would do. The thought filled my heart with such significance and meaning it nearly overwhelmed me. I sighed to myself, why was I continuing to fight this ridiculous war with her? If I called it off, we could both go our own ways without any more regrets. I had lovedI had lostshe belonged to Black nowit was time for me to grow up. Finally resolving to let goto let her go, I grabbed two glasses of apple cider and walked over to her side. She was chatting happily with a family, her hair falling over one shoulder. "Would you like a drink?" I offered her a glass. She looked at me with the oddest expression on her face, and then looked down at the glass I offered her as if it were a coiled snake. "What's that?" "It's cider." I tried not to let my annoyance pass through my voice. "Cider? Is that what you're drinking?" "Yes, would you like some?" She nodded slightly and took the glass carefully from my hands. I sighed inwardly; this was going to be harder than I thought. As the evening wore on I found myself finally relaxing, Bella was no longer acting all jumpy at my side, in fact, she fell right into place next to me. We moved around the room together, she was getting the attention and admiration from everyone she encountered.
- 245 -

Hell, she was even impressing the big guys like Jerry Jones and Al Davis. I couldn't help but feel proud, downright pompous. This was how I always imagined it would bewith Bella at my sidethe world at our feet. Towards the end of the evening we found ourselves talking quietly with a young family. The parents had to be only a couple of years older than us; they had two kids, one boy and one girl. Their son was had leukemia, he had been fighting it for over two years. His mom described her son's illness, how the chemotherapy treatments had caused him to lose all his hair and that it was just finally growing back, how he had missed Christmas one year due to being so sick in the hospital, and when she talked about how grateful they were because her son had finally gone into remission, Bella clutched my arm, tears forming in her eyes. I let her hold on to me as the mom continued talking, letting myself enjoy the feeling of Bella's touch. It was the first time since we set eyes on each other again that she reached out for me, and it set my mind spinning and made my heart pound. "He's so excited to meet you." The mom was smiling at us, "This here is Jonah, he just turned four." We both looked down into these large wide brown eyes of Jonah, Bella crouched down and leaned over and scooped him up in her arms. She gave him a wide smile and pretended to tickle him. He giggled happily and buried his head in her neck. I lowered myself down next to her, Bella turned to smile at me, her eyes sparkling. Without any hesitation I found myself smiling back, sliding my hand across the small of her back and ruffling Jonah's hair at the same time. Bella didn't move away from me, just the opposite, she leaned closer to me, her shoulder resting against my own...

Allen stood in the corner of the bar watching Edward and Swan mingle with the guests. He raised his eyebrows slightly when Swan knelt down scooping up a small child and placing him on her lap giving him a gentle tickle. The child giggled loudly and buried his head in her shoulder. Allen glanced over at Edward who stood by her side. His eyes widened in surprise; Edward was looking down at Swan in a way he had never seen him look before.
- 246 -

In fact Edward's entire demeanor had changed the minute Swan walked through that front door. After a brief initial wave of hostility from Edward, which Allen wasn't sure about, something fell over him, Edward's eyes had grown softer, he smiled more, and most of all he finally looked and acted as if he really belonged here, as the host of this soiree and not just as an invited, bored guest. Over the years as Edward rose to the top of the NFL, Allen never could put his finger on what was off about Edward. No matter how many touchdowns he scored, how many endorsements he captured, or how many women Allen set him up with, there was always this impermeable wall around him that no one seemed to be able to break through. That is until tonightbecause here Allen stood, his drink frozen and forgotten in his hand, as he watched Edward kneel besides Swan and place his hand on the small of her back, the other hand he ruffled the child's hair. Both Swan and Edward looked at each other and smiled. Allen chuckledIsabella Swanhe decided with satisfied amusementwas exactly what Edward Cullen needed

BPOV I watched proudly as Edward scooped Jonah up from my arms and swung him around. The small boy squealed happily and settled comfortably in the crook of Edwards arm. Edward was smiling, a real genuine smile. He gently gave Jonah back to his mother. "Thank you so much for coming tonight Mr. and Mrs. Thomas, my agent will be in touch with you, I would be honored if you would accept season tickets for the rest of the Warrior's games." The family nodded happily hugging their son close to them. I tried to swallow the lump in my throat as I watched Edward talk to them with ease. I was finally feeling a peace around me, and enormous pridepride at this wonderful strong man at my side. He allowed me to enter his penthouse, to completely crash his party, to stand next to me and talk with his guests all while still believing that I had aborted his child and wanted to rid myself of himand still he smiled at metouched meall with kindness and compassion.

- 247 -

Edward glanced down at me once more and smiled. I beamed back at him, my heart swelling with affection. Slowly the last of the guests filtered out, leaving just Edward, me and his agent, Allen Winters standing by the wet bar. A throng of caterers spread out around us cleaning up discarded glasses and dishes. I could sense that Edward was wondering what I was still doing here, but Allen looked as happy as a clam, chatting away. "I think we surpassed the 2 million mark Edward, did you see Dan Snyder here? And I nearly fell out of my chair when Pat Bowlen shook hands with Al Davis." He chuckled and then fell silent his eyes moving back and forth between Edward and me. A knowing look flashed across his face, he placed his glass down on the bar and rose. "Well errit's lateI better get goingI'll call you tomorrow Edward, to give you the final numbers" his eyes washed over us again, "I'll call you tomorrow night." He added knowingly. I tried not to blush at what he was insinuatingat the heat that was coursing through my body at mere thought of Edward and I that way again. "Anytime is fine Allen." Edward's voice held a warning. "Of course" Allen quickly amended, "I'll call you as soon I know." As soon as he was gone Edward turned to look at me, his eyes burned into mine, his face a mixture of curiosity and something else that looked remotely like desire. I turned toward the bar and grabbed a pitcher of water. "Would you like something?" I asked trying my best not spill the water with my trembling hand.

EPOV YouI wanted to answer her as desire began to roar through my entire bodyI
- 248 -

would like you. I wanted to reach out and drag her into my bedto shove my hands into the rumpled silk of her hair and join my famished body with hers. I wanted to feel her hands on meto bury myself inside her and make her moan for me. "Water will be fine thank you." I turned slightly trying to hide my arousal. I stared out window blankly caught between fury and disbelief, despite everything that happened in the past she could still do this to me. If all I felt for her was lust, I could probably forgive myself, but I couldn't forgive this sudden hopeless yearning to be a part of her againto be loved by her. A treacherous thought entered my mind...perhaps if I could have her just one more timethen maybe I could quench this thirst I had for her and get her completely out of my system. Fuck. I was insane to even consider sleeping with her again. "Here you go." She said softly handing me a small crystal glass. "Thank you." "You're welcome." Neither of us looked at each other, instead we both faced the window looking down onto the city below us. The shrill of the phone made us both jump at the same time. "Excuse me." I placed my glass down and walked over to the phone, picking it up from its cradle and bringing it to my ear, "Hello?" "Hello, this Jeffry Owens, I'm trying to reach Allen Winters, he's not answering his cell phonehe told me I would be able to find him at this number." "Allen just left." I turned slightly and watched Bella silently walk across the penthouse floor over to the door of my bedroom, she paused her hand resting on the doorknob.
- 249 -

"Oh, I'm sorry for disturbing you, Mr. Winters told me as soon as I heard who leaked the rumor of the drug use regarding Edward Cullen, I was supposed to call him immediately." I instantly became captivated and turned away from Bella, keeping my voice down. "This is Mr. Cullen, Jeffry, you can tell me, I'll make sure Allen hears about it." "Mr. Cullen" there was a long pause, "Uhof coursewell it seems to be that the rumor started with Mack Brown" My mind swirled crazily, "What?" "Mack Brownthe coach of the Texas Longhorns" "Yes I know who Mack Brown iswhy would he start a rumor saying I took drugs? "Well it came from Mr. Brown but he wasn't the one who released it to the press." "Well who did?" "Mr. SwanCharlie Swan." I spun around furiously my eyes searching out Bella; rage exploded throughout me, of course that's why she was here. She must have known about this all along, fuck, she could even be in on it. She must have come running here to keep me from killing her father. That damn bastard had already threatened me that he would ruin me and now he was actually acting on it. I slammed the phone down on its cradle and stalked towards my bedroom. Bella was standing in the middle of my room near the foot of my bed looking down at it deep in thought; it sent a jolt of angry desire coursing through me. I was fucking pissedat myself. I marched over to her and grabbed the back of her arm. "It's time for you to get out of here." I spat, using every ounce of self control not to physically drag her across my penthouse and throw her out.
- 250 -

Bella gasped and looked up at me her eyes full shock and fear. "What? Stop. Please." She cried.

BPOV The second I stepped into Edward's bedroom I was in awe. It was exactly how I imagined it would be. Bold, masculine, and full of strength. He had an enormous king sized cherry wood bed covered with a simple but expensive white comforter. The furniture coordinated with the bed and there was a large overstuffed leather reading chair in one corner. I frowned slightly cocking my head to the side, nowhere in his entire place had I seen any one of his awards or accomplishments. It was almost as if he wasn't even proud of who he was and what he had achieved in his career. Perhaps I would ask him about that laterafter I had told him about the baby. I was jerked out of my thoughts when I felt Edward's rough grip on my arm, he spun me around to face him. "It's time for you to get out of here." His voice was hard and cold. I looked up at him gasping in surprise at his voice and the rough way he held me. "What? Stop. Please." I begged. He stood in front of me, his eyes narrow, his jaw clenched. I didn't know what had caused him to suddenly act this way but in my panic and desperation I knew I had to tell him nownow before it was too late. "EdwardI need to tell you somethingplease listen to me" I held out my hand and tried to take a step back. My palm rested on his chest as I struggled with him to free my other arm from his grip. His grip loosened almost immediately, his eyes shot down to my hand resting against him, and then back up to my face. The expression on his face changed from one of fury to one of angry desire, his eyes began to mock me, and slowly, sensually
- 251 -

he began rubbing his hand up and down my arm. "Go ahead and talk, love, I'm hanging onto your every word" his voice was smooth, too smooth. Alarm rang through my head as I watched him, his eyes hooded and dark. I pushed back the panic and confusion that was surrounding medrawing a quick shaky breath I launched into my carefully rehearsed speech that I had worked on during my long flight home. "Yesterday, I went back to Forks, back to my old houseI had to go get some papers" "I already know that." He interrupted, his eyes hard, his hand continuing to slide up and down my arm. My throat tightened at his words. "Well what you don't know is that your mom came overand wewell we had a fight." "My momI seewell I find that a little hard to believe." His voice dripped with sarcasm. "My mother wouldn't give you the time of day" I blinked at him uncertainly, "Wellshe did" I was acutely aware that Edward's hand was still lingering on my arm making me fumble with my words, "sheshe wanted me to stay away from youaccused me of destroying our baby and destroying your life. II didn't know what she was talking about at first." "I'm sure it was her fault for not making herself clear enough" he mocked. "Stop talking to me in the condescending way," I pleaded, my eyes imploring his, "I'm trying to make you understand what happened!" "I'm sorry." Edward cocked his head to the side, his eyes narrowed and his hand stopped moving, "What is that you want me to understand?" "Edward, I didn't have an abortionI had a miscarriage, not an abortion. A miscarriage." My eyes searched his for some sign of reaction. There was none, he didn't even blink. "A miscarriageI see." His eyes fell to my lips and his hand slid once again up my arm. I stared up into his eyes, they were still hard and cold. His fingers traveled
- 252 -

roughly across my shoulder, near my neck, causing goose bumps along my skin. "So beautiful" he whispered his voice low and husky. "You always were so damned beautiful" I stood there stunned. I heard his words but they didn't match the look in his eyes or the tone of his voice. My eyes washed over him wearily, not certain to what he was thinking, unable to believe that he had heard and accepted my explanation so easily and calmly without any reaction. "So beautiful" he repeated, his hand tightening around my neck, "but such a liar !" Before my brain could process his words, his mouth swooped down, capturing my lips in a kiss of brute force. His fingers shoved their way into my hair and twisted, forcing my head back and holding me captive as his tongue drove brashly into my mouth. The kiss was intended to punish meI knew thathe wanted me to fight him, to struggle, and for a second I froze. Sudden fear took a hold of my brain screaming at me to push him away, but I knew in my heart that I at least had to try, so I wrapped my arms around his neck, pressing my body to his, and kissed him back with all the gentleness and compassion I could find, trying to convince him through my kiss, that I spoke the truth. My response made Edward stiffen in shock, his entire body became hard and rigid, for a second I thought he was going to shove me away, instead a low groan escaped from Edward's throat, and before I knew what was happening he gathered me up into his arms and kissed me slowly, passionately, making my head spin and my body melt. Our kiss deepened dramatically, Edward's mouth moved urgently, persuasively, on mine. His tongue mingled with my own, his lips parting pushing against mine almost painfully, urgently. His fingers dug into my waist. I could feel his erection burning into my thigh. When he finally lifted his head, the room spun dizzily around me. I took in a deep breath, trying to steady my nerves, I didn't even catch the meaning of his next words.
- 253 -

"Are you using birth control? Before we get into bed? I want to be positive there won't be another child from this encounteror another abortion." Stunned, I lurched back, staring up at him in disbelief. He hadn't believed me. "Abortion!" I choked out, shaking my head, "Didn't you hear what I just said? I had a miscarriage" "Damn you, quit lying to me!" he took a menacing step forward, his voice that had been husky just moments before, now brittle and harsh. "NoYou have to listenplease" "I don't want to talk anymore" his hands shot out and he grabbed me roughly. His mouth captured mine in a stony kiss. Panic coursed through my veins. This wasn't going the way I had imagined, none of this was going right. I needed to get out of here. I fought with every fiber of my being, pulling my mouth away from his, using all the strength I could muster. He tightened his grip on my arm, his eyes narrowed; he wasn't going to let me go. "No!" I cried, shoving my hands against his chest, pushing away from him, trying to bury my face against his shirt. His hand clamped hard against the back of my head as if he intended to force my head up again, I kept fighting, every nerve of my body on the edge, shoving his hands away as hard as I could, I tore out of his grasp. "I didn't have an abortionI didn't!" I cried backing up a step. My eyes wildly searched his face. My chest rose and fell in sharp shallow breaths, gone was the carefully rehearsed speech I had planned, and in its place came a wave of anguished, broken words. "I had a miscarriage, and I nearly died. I swear Edward! I'm not lying! I had a miscarriage! I was in the hospital for two weeks!" Edward's eyes washed over me a mixture of savage contempt. His hands fisted at his side, his breathing erratic. "Apparently notsince you had time to write me such a nice telegramand have
- 254 -

your father kick me out of your house." I blinked rapidly trying to process his wordsapparently Edward had gone over this in his mind and arrived at his own logical, if erroneous, conclusions. Nothing I said or did was going to make any difference. The realization of this was shattering; I backed up slowly until the back of my legs reached the edge of his bed, the tears spilled from my eyes, he wasn't going to believe meyet the ache that filled my heart refused to let me give up. Tell himit beggedjust tell him the truth "Oh, please," my voice broke, "please listen to me. I hemorrhaged, and I lost our baby. Alice told me my dad had called you, to tell you what happened I never imagined he wouldn't tell you the truth, or stop you from seeing me, but that's what your mother said he did" The tears that I had been fighting with broke loose, "I thought I was in love with you! I wanted you with me in the hospitalI never found anyone else!" My voice broke, "I waited for you to come back Edwardbut you never did!" I bent my head burying my face in my hands. My shoulders jerked with sobs that I couldn't hold in any longer. The room became deadly silent, the only sounds that could be heard were my own anguished cries; finally I raised my eyes to Edwards. His wounded chocolate brown eyes were staring at me wide open, his hand gripping the bed post so hard his knuckles were white. "Edward" I whispered achingly, my eyes pleading with his, "wewe had a baby boy"

EPOV "Oh, my God!" I groaned as realization hit me with full force. I pulled Bella into my arms, "Oh God!" Bella clung to me, her arms found their way around my neck and she buried her head in my chest.

- 255 -

"II named him Masen, your middle name." My mind raced, I hardly heard a word she was saying; I was being tormented with the image of Bella lying in a hospital bed, hurt and alonewaiting in vain for me. "Please no." I pleaded with fate, squeezing my eyes shut, "This can't be happening" I clutched Bella tighter to me, rubbing my jaw against her hair. "Please no." "I couldn't go to his funeral," Bella's voice barely a whisper, her fingers tightening against the back of my neck, "because I was too weak." The agony when she mentioned a funeral made my stomach turn, "Oh Christ!" I groaned, holding her tighter. My hands rubbed small circles across her back, trying to take away all the pain that she must have been carrying inside of her all this time. Bella lifted her tear streaked face to mine; her eyes begging me for reassurance. When I stared into those haunted black eyes my heart ached, I wanted nothing more than to erase the past and start over. "I told my dad to be sure Mason had dozens of flowers at his funeral. I told him they had to white and yellow carnations. He said he sent them, lots of them. II don't know any more if he really sent them" "He sent them!" I promised her fiercely. "I promise you, he sent them." "I couldn'tcouldn't stand it if Masen didn't have any flowers at his funeral" "Oh, please, Reina," I whispered brokenly, my own voice anguished and raw, "Please don't. No more." Bella looked up into my tear filled eyes; slowly she reached up and laid her fingers on my cheek. Her eyes soft, her touch light. "Don't cry," she whispered to me, as her own tears fell unchecked, "It's all over now. I talked to your mom and she told me the truth. That's why I came hereyou seeI had to tell you what really happened. I had to ask you to forgive me" I closed my eyes and tilted my head up to the ceiling trying to shut out all the pain that swirled around me. "Forgive you?" my voice was a ragged raw whisper; I shook my head slowly, "For
- 256 -

what?" "For hating you all these years" I could hear the anguish and regret in her voice, it tore at me, made my heart ache with such an intense sharp pain I could hardly breathe. I forced my eyes open and looked down into her big black eyes. "You couldn't possible have hated me as much as I hate myself at this moment." I hung my head at her, filled with deep regret. Bella clutched me closer to her, leaning her face into my chest, tightening her arms around me. "It's over. Don't think about it." She said softly. But I couldn't stop thinking about itit overwhelmed me, filled my entire being with torment. "Was it painfulwhenwhen it happened?" My voice broke as images of Bella doubled over in pain, flashed through my mind.

BPOV Standing in the warmth of Edward's arms, I wanted to tell him again not to think about it anymore, but then it dawned on me that he wanted me to share with him now the events that would have been his right to share with me long ago. And at the same time, he was giving me the chance to turn to him for the comfort that I had once wished so badly for. I slowly realized, even nowsix years latermy heart still ached for that. I felt the gently strokes of Edward's hand on my back and neck and suddenly, I wasn't twenty four anymore, I was eighteen and madly in love with him. And he was my strengthmy securityand my hope. "I was sleeping when it started," I began quietly, my hands flexing nervously, "A nightmare woke me upI felt strangeI tried to turn on the lampwhen I finally got the lamp onI looked downthe blankets were soaked with my blood, I
- 257 -

screamed..." I could feel Edward's body shake against me; still I made myself go on. "The pains were overwhelming, I saw my father at the doorwayhe looked terrifiedthen an ambulance cameI remember them carrying me out of the house on a stretchersomeone gave me a shot." I drew a shuddering breath not sure if I could continue without crying. Edward's hand drifted down my spine, he held me closely against his body, and I found the courage to finish. "The next thing I remember was the sound of beeping machines, there was a machine monitoring my heartbeats. It was daylight, and my father and Alice were there. I tried to ask them about the babyAlice told metold me I had lost the baby. I begged herbegged her to tell youI knew you would comeshe told me you already knewthat my father had already called youyou didn't want to comethat it was for the best" His body stiffened and he gripped me tighter. "I blacked out againthe next time I opened my eyes the doctor was there" fresh tears flooded my eyes, "the doctor told me that I had a baby boy and that everything medically possible had been done to save him, but he couldn't be savedbecause he cametoo early." My voice sounded far away as I was capitulated back into time at the memory. "The doctor asked me what I wanted to do, he was asking me about a funeralif I wanted the baby to have a name. I didn't want to make those decisions by myself. I begged my dad to call youbegged him. My dad got upset; he said I couldn't count on youthat you didn't want to be here. Soso I forced myself to make the decisions. I named him Mason because I thought you would like that. I told my father to buy Masen flowers, and that I wanted all the cards to say "We loved you." Edward's voice was broken and raw when he whispered softly, "Thank youthank you Reina." "And I promise you, Reina" He continued, his hands pulling me closer, "that if I had known what happened, nothing on this earth could have stopped me from being with youfrom seeing you, helping you"
- 258 -

His voice was so full of naked pain I tried to ease the regret that I knew surrounded him, "You couldn't have helped me." Edward's body stiffened again, "I couldn't?" I shook my head slowly, "The hospital was doing everything possible to help me, just as they had tried to help Masen. There wasn't anything you could have done to help" Relief that everything was now out in the open washed over me, giving me enough courage so that with shaky hands I took it a step further. "You see, despite what I had written on the cards with the flowers, I knew deep in my heart how you really felt about the babyand about me." "Tell me" he said gruffly, his eyes bore deep into mine, "How did I really feel?" I hesitated, unsure if I should continue, taken aback by his tone. I tried to smile, tried to show him that I wasn't trying to be insulting. "The answer to that is as obvious now, as it was then; you were stuck with both of us. You slept with a silly virgin who didn't have enough sense to use birth control and look what happened." "What happened Bella?" Edward demanded his eyes searching mine. "What happened?" I threw up my hands glancing around the room with abandon, "You know what happened, I gave you the glad news and you had to stand by my side by the side of a girl you didn't want." "Didn't want?" he exploded, his harsh voice in complete opposite of the meaning of his next words. "I've wanted you every day of my godforsaken life." I stared up into his eyeshypnotizeduncertainjoyousshattered

EPOV Bella was looking up at me completely frozen, her eyes wide with awe. My heart thumped wildly in my chest; there were only inches between us. I lowered my head, bringing it down near her ear.
- 259 -

"And you were wrong about something else too." I kept my voice low, and raised my hand to gently stroke her cheek. "If I'd been able to see you in the hospital, I could have helped you." Bella's voice shook so badly I could hardly hear her, "How?" she said softly. "Like this" I whispered, my hand still resting on her face, I turned my head towards hers, letting my lips gently brush across her cheek. Bella's eyes filled with tears as she watched me, her breath catching in her throat. "And like this" I moved my mouth along her temple and towards her eyes, gently placing small kisses along her eyebrows. Her eyes drifted close and something that sounded like a longing sigh escaped her lips. "I'd have taken you home from the hospital with me, and held you in my armslike this" I promised achingly, pulling her against me, holding her close, letting her feel my entire body pressed against hers, my breath brushing along the curve of her ear. Bella let out a soft whimper, turning her head just slightly. The minute I caught whiff of her scent again I was a man possessed, and every fiber of my being ached for her. "And when you felt well enough," I vowed, "We'd have made love again, and later, if you wanted me to, I'd have given you another baby"

BPOV Edward didn't say "like this" but when he slowly lowered me backward onto his bed and followed me down, I knew that's what he meant. Even though I knew it was wrong, I let him take off my blouse and unfasten my slacks. Even though I knew that I could never have another baby, I let him dreamlet myself dreamthat just this onceall of this was reality and the past was only a dream we could've changed. My heart wanted this desperately, it ached for it, but that tiny voice of reason in the back of my mind warned me it was a mistake. "This is wrong" I whispered softly, Edward was leaning over me, the muscles on his bare chest and arms flexing as he slowly lowered himself next to me.
- 260 -

EPOV "This is right." I said fiercely and finally my lips were on hers. I could smell the flowers and candy again; it filled my senses, making me wild with need. The sweetness of her mouth against mine, sent my head spinning, and my hands trembled as they brushed down her cheek. I let my fingers glide down her neck, and over her breasts, closing my palms over them. Bella gasped softly, her hands on my shoulders, her nails sliding down my back. I tore my mouth away from hers, and she moaned quietly at the loss of my lips. I traveled up towards her ear, feeling the silkiness of her skin, a small shiver ran through her body, and finally I made my way down her neck, my mouth finally closing over her breasts. Her body arched off the mattress, her hands gripping me tightly to her. My right hand slid down her stomach, feeling every new curve she possessed beneath my fingertips. Bella writhed against me, and when I finally slid my fingers along her entrance, my name tumbled softly from her lips. My heart thundered and my body throbbed until my entire being was shaking as I shifted on top of her. Gone was my hazy hope of prolonging this unbelievable, momentous joining. All that mattered was being a part of her again. My hands clenched the sheets of my bed as I held myself above her, my eyes squeezed shut as I pressed against her entrance, slowly allowing myself inside her, easing into her an inch at a time. I fought desperately against the overpowering need to bury myself inside her. My control began to slip when Bella raised her hips to mine, and again when she slid her hands down the front of my chest then up around my shoulders resting on the small of my back, pressing me down, urging me into her. It was gone when I opened my eyes as she whispered my name again, that beautiful face that had haunted my dreams for six long years was inches away from me, her face was flushed with desire, her hair spilling over my pillow. Bella chose that exact moment slide her fingers through my hair and raise her hips again, "Please, Edward," she whispered. The arousing shift of her hips, the feel of her hands on me, and the sound of my name falling from her lips tore a silent groan from me, and I drove into her, plunging again and again, not stopping until we were both wild with wanting, trying
- 261 -

to reach for it togetherfinding it at the exact same momenthands clasped with one anotherexploding together. "Reina." I cried still thrusting, still wanting to spill six years of yearning into her, still overwhelmed with that same incredible urge to make her mine, and she held me tightly to her, until her body began to react again, her walls convulsing around me. I collapsed against her, my skin hot next to hers, my breathing labored. I moved us both to our sides, bringing her with me, my arm around her back, my fingers still entwined in her hair. Silentfloatingstill intimately joined with her, I let my hand run up and down her back, reveling in the sensation of being wrapped up inside her, the feel of her body pressed against mine. I closed my eyes, savoring it, filled with awe for all the things Bella was and for all the things she made me want to be. Six years ago I'd been cheated of heaven; I found it again tonight and there was nothing on this earth that I wouldn't do to avoid losing it again. Then...I had nothing to offer her except myself; now...I could give her the worldand myself. I felt her breathing even out next to me and I realized she was falling asleep. I smiled slightly to myself, a little embarrassed by my lack of control that had worn us both out so completely and so quickly. I'll let her sleep for an hourI thought to myself. Then I would wake her up and make love to her more properly and thoroughly. After that we would talk. We were going to have to make plans. I expected she might be hesitant to break off her engagement to Black on the strength of one evening in bed with me, but I knew that I could convince her of the honest truth We were meant to be togetherwe had always been meant to be together

Reviews? Come on...don't be shy...

- 262 -

Chapter 23
Hey Everyone! Hope you all are doing well! Fanfiction is acting up. It won't let me upload, I've been fighting with it since yesterday. I think I found a way around it though. Enjoy! Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight. I own all the football knowledge. :)

BPOV The room was pitch black when I opened my eyes. I remained completely still, trying to focus, disoriented with where I was. I blinked trying to see past the darkness in front of me, I could make out tiny slivers of light peeking through these two large picture windows I was facing. Finally my eyes adjusted to the dark, then suddenly I knew I was here in Edward's penthousehere in his roomhere in his bed And it felt so sogoodmy back was pressed against his chest; his arms were wrapped tightly around me, his right hand draped protectively over my breast. I could feel his entire length along my backside his leg resting over mine. He was asleep, I could tell by his breathing. My heartbeat quickened as I remembered last night's events. I had finally told Edward the truth and he had believed me. He had forgiven me. He had pulled me into his arms and cried with me. It had been beautiful, poignant, and sincere. But what happened afterward was filling me with shame. I should have never slept with Edward. There were still so many unanswered questions
- 263 -

Sleeping with Edward is what had gotten me into this mess in the first placeI should know better. Unwillingly, I carefully extracted myself from his arms. I pulled up into sitting position, leaning my back against the heavy wooden headboard. Looking down, I stared at Edward's sleeping face. Even in the dark, he looked like an adorable little boy, all curled up with the blankets tucked around his chin, his long eyelashes fanning out across his cheek. Unable to resist the urge, I gently brushed the hair away from his forehead, letting my fingers linger in his messy locks. He shifted slightly at my touch, letting out a small sigh, but he didn't wake up. I sat there for the longest time, trying to sort out the emotions coursing through me, the confusion that still surrounded me. There was one nagging question that I had avoided mentioning last night because I was really afraid of the answer. Terrified, in fact. I didn't ask him about the blondeor the picturesbecause no matter how I looked at it, the fact remained that he had been drunk that nightand the blonde was realhe must have been dating her all this timehe had taken her to Alice's wedding. He still associated with her; she must mean something to him. And JacobI sighed heavily, closing my eyes. Jacobhow on earth was I going to explain all of this to him? He was never going to forgive me. What kind of woman was I? Engaged to one man and sleeping with another? I was also angryangrier than I had ever been in my entire lifeat my dad. My dad was really lucky he was laid up in a hospital bed right now because if he wasn't I would probably put him there myself. But more than anything I really just wanted to know whywhy did he do this to me? What was it that possessed him to control and manipulate two innocent people's lives? I was planning on asking him just that later on today.
- 264 -

But first I knew I needed to leave. I shouldn't be here. Edward's personal life did not include me in it; he was used to glamorous, beautiful, rich womenexperienced womenwomen who knew exactly what to do in bednot someone like me definitely not someone like me. I swung my legs over the side of the bed carefully. I leaned forward looking down into the darkness for my discarded clothing. My bra had to be down there somewhere Just as I was bending forth, a warm hand gently pressed against my bare back. "Bella?" Edward's voice was soft, almost a whisper. I straightened up instantly, my skin tingling at his touch. Trying to find some courage, I turned my head to the side, but not looking right at him. "Yes?" "What are you doing?" He slid his hand downward, stopping at the small of my back. "I thinkI should go nowI better go now." My words sounded funny to my own ears. "Bella" he voice was so low, but so full of emotion, "Don'tdon't gonot yet." The tone of his voice tore at my heart and I finally turned completely around to face him. We could barely see each other in the darkness, but I was grateful for that, I knew that if I had to look in his eyes I would be completely lost. "EdwardI'm sorryI know you were only trying to comfort mebut it shouldn't have happenedI know thatI'm sorry." His body rose up from the bed and he scooted over closer to me, "No Reina," he brought his hand up and touched my cheek, "What happened tonight should have happened six years ago, and it wasn't about comfortit was never about comfort." My heart fluttered at his touch and at the sweetness of his words, just as it had always done.
- 265 -

I allowed myself that moment of weakness and leaned my face into his hand. I closed my eyes, wishing for once, that neither of us had to carry around all this ridiculous emotional baggage. He leaned closer to me; I could feel his warm breath on my cheek. The brush of his lips on mine was unbelievably wonderful, and so sweet. He slid his hands around my waist, bringing my body closer to his, pulling me down next to him. And I followed him down, relishing in the sweetness of his kiss, the warmth of his arms, the security of his strength. But unlike last night, I couldn't get the blonde out of my headthe thought lingeredcrashed through my braintortured mehad he held her like this? Touched her like this? Made love to her like this? I pulled back from him as the images overwhelmed me. I placed my hand on his face, just letting it rest theretrying to find the way to let him know that while my heart wanted this, my brain couldn't let go of the past so easily. "I can't" I said softly, willing him to understand, "I'm sorry EdwardI just can't." His arm was still around my waist, he didn't let me go. Instead, he reached behind him and flicked on the small lamp that was beside his bed. Hazy light flooded the room; it was faint, casting shadows along the walls and across our faces. Edward turned back to look at me. His eyes were sincere as they searched mine. "Because of Black?" Was all he said. Not knowing how to answer that, I simply used it as an excuse and nodded. His hand tightened slightly around my waist for a second and then slowly, he let me go. "I understand." He kept his eyes on mine the entire time. Feeling awful that I was lying to him, but grateful that I wouldn't have to go into further explanation, I turned and slid off his bed carefully.
- 266 -

Now that I could see, I found my rumpled clothing easily and hastily put it on, knowing full well that Edward was watching me silently the entire time I was dressing. Finally done, I turned to face him. I wanted to tell him that I was so confused, that I wanted to be with him more than anything, but I couldn't forget how bad it hurt to see those pictures or watch how that girl had hung onto his arm at Alice's wedding. How she was so incredibly stunning and he was so gorgeous and they both looked so perfect together, that it literally ripped my heart in two to know that the entire world probably thought so too. Instead, I sort of picked up my hand and gave him a nervous smile. "I guess I'll see you Sunday?" I kept my voice light trying to salvage the last of my self-respect. He just nodded. I turned and walked over to the door. Just as my hand twisted the knob his voice broke through the silence. "I'm not giving up Reina" his voice was strong bolddetermined, "on youon usyou tell Black I said that. I'm not giving up this time"

EPOV "Allen, dammit, wake up and answer the phone!" I barked into the receiver, arguing with his answering machine. "I know you're home" I warned, "I need my driver out here now!" Finally I heard the click; he had picked up the line. "Who's this?" "It's me, Edward. I need my driver out to the penthouse now." "Edward? What theIt's not even five in the morning?"
- 267 -

"I don't give a fuck what time it is" "What's wrong? Is Swan there?" "No, she left." "Left?" there was a long pause, "ohyou let her go huh?" "FuckI didn't let her goI'm going after her Allen!" "Your driver will be right there!" the line went dead.

Leaning my head against the leather seat I closed my eyes trying to figure out exactly how I was going to accomplish this. Despite the overwhelming urge to keep Bella in bed with me, I knew better than to force her or seduce her into staying in it. Bella was smart, successful, brilliant, but carefulvery very careful. I could tell that by the way she managed her football strategies. She took risks out on the field but only careful calculated risksrisks where the rewards were almost always guaranteed and the chances of failure were slight. The last time she took a risk with me, all hell had broken loose in her life, there were no rewardsit was no wonder why she was in such a hurry to get away from me now. If she took a risk with me again this timefailure probably seemed like a given to herbut the rewardsI shook my head smilingthe rewards would be out of this world. But in order for me to make this work I had to plan flawlessly, that meant letting her leave my place, letting her go back to Black, and fuck, even letting her bastard of a father live, when I wanted nothing more than to march right into that hospital and make Bella an orphan. What I really needed was timetime to show her exactly how I felt about herexactly what she meant to mehow good we were togethertimeI desperately needed timeand didn't have much of it. I had no idea when Bella and Black were planning to get married, but I hoped I still had at least a month leftor
- 268 -

twoor ten So when I walked into my lawyer's office at six am that Saturday morning, I knew two thingsOne, I was going to get my wayeven if I had to fuck everybody over to get it. And twoBella wasn't going to like one bit of it

BPOV I sunk into my sofa throwing my head back, my arm covering my eyes. I had just pushed play on my answering machine and there were fivefive messages from Jacob. The first one was fine, simple, he was just checking up on me wondering if I had gotten in yet from my flight. The second one his voice held a note of concern, he asked if my plane had been delayed and to please call him back as soon as possible. The third one he was extremely worried. He wanted to know if I was alright, if my dad was alright. He had called the airport and knew my plane had landed already. The last two were almost identical. He was frantic and was pleading with me to please call him right away. He had checked the hospital and knew I wasn't with my dad. He had no idea where I was. He just wanted to know if I was still alive. I groaned in despair. What the hell was I going to tell him? I rose from my seat and headed for my bedroom. I would call him, later, after my shower. I was stopped halfway to my room by a pounding at my door. I turned and backtracked through my living room and opened the door. It was Jacob. "Bella! Are you okay?" He brushed his way past me, looking around the room, "Is everything okay? Where were you? I've been calling you all night!" His eyes washed over me worriedly, taking in my bedraggled state.
- 269 -

I shook my head, "I'm fine. I've been just fine. I was tired after my flight. I was sleeping." He nodded but I noticed his eyes skeptically observing my disheveled clothing and messy hair. "You must have been really tired not to have heard your phone." "I was" I agreed with him, "I was totally exhausted." "Mm hmmwellI'm glad you're okay." He pulled me to him and hugged me. My body stiffened at his touch. "Why don't you go freshen up, and I'll take you out to breakfast. We need to go over a few things before our next game. We also need to figure out what we are going to tell the press about Cullen." "What?" My eyes snapped up to his at the sound of Edward's name. "Breakfast? Aren't you hungry?" "Uhsure, give me a minute." My mind swirled as I washed my face. I threw on a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt, and pulled my hair back into a single pony tail. I had no idea what Jacob was talking about regarding Edward, but I hoped it was just about football. At the small caf just a few blocks away from where I lived, Jacob and I sat in the corner, it was nearly empty at this early hour, the round wooden tables still had their chairs resting upside down on them. Jacob ate with gusto and talked about our next game plan. I pushed my food around on my plate and pretended to listen. I wanted to ask him about the press and Edward, what he had mentioned earlier, but I didn't dare bring it up. Finally just as he was finishing up, he placed his fork down on his plate and looked at me. "We also need to be on the same page when the press talks to us about Cullen." His eyes searched mine carefully.
- 270 -

I nodded, trying not to act too interested. "What about Cullen? What's the press interested in? Is this about his fundraiser?" I asked flippantly. Jacob cocked his head to the side, his coffee cup suspended halfway to his mouth, "You don't know? Didn't his agent call you?" "Who? You mean Allen Winters? He didn't tell me anything when I sawHe didn't call me." I deliberately avoided looking at Jacob. "Well, he called me. Plus it was all over the papers anyways, and now there are pictures on the internet." "What happened?" I could feel my chest tightening. Picturespictures of what? "Cullen took drugs. He's a drug user." Oh hell no "That's insane." I gave Jacob a miffed look and shook my head, my voice louder than normal, "You can't believe that crap. Edward doesn't do drugs." "Apparently Edward does do that crapand there is proof that Edward did that crap." Jacob's voice changed harshly stressing Edward's name, his eyes glared at me. But I didn't care "What proof!" I demanded, placing both my hands flat on the table, "Show me!" "If I had a computer I would show you, but I don't have one with me." He threw up his hands clearly exasperated, " It's pictures of him and some ditzy blonde girl at some partyhis eyes are all glazed overthere are more pictures of him passed out next to a table that has cocaine on it." My mind spunditzy blonde girlparty "I don't believe you!" I said, but I did believe him.
- 271 -

"What are you getting so worked up about?" Jacob narrowed his eyes at me, "when Laken tested positive for drugs last season you could've cared less." "Laken was only second string" I was grasping at straws here, "plus we wanted him off the team anyways." "Well maybe we should consider getting rid of Cullen." The words rang sharply through the air. "We would be idiots to do that." I retorted angrily, "He's the best thing that's ever happened to meusthe Warriors," I quickly corrected. Jacob leaned back into his chair, crossing his arms, his eyes bore into mine; I could tell he was fuming, waiting until he cooled down before talking to me again. I looked out the window, suddenly wanting to get out of there. "Is that why you were at his place last night?" My eyes shot over to Jacob in surprise, my mouth opened but no sound came out. "Yes I know where you wereYou were at his charity fundraiserI saw it in the paperIt was the last place I'd thought you'd bebut it's beginning to make sense now." I just shook my head at him, "It's not what you think" "I have a feeling it's exactly what I thinkand you know whatI don't want to talk about itI don't want to know why you were over thereor what you were talking aboutor what you were doingall I want to know is if we are still getting married?" I could feel my face grow hot, Jacob already suspected it, and as my punishment, I couldn't even explain myself. Couldn't ask for forgiveness, he had already judged me. "Yes," I said quietly, "we're still getting married." "Then that's all I need to know." He rose from his chair stiffly, "Come on, let's get out of here." He walked me all the way up to my apartment but didn't come inside. He lingered
- 272 -

at the doorway after I opened it. I started to walk in, when he didn't follow me, I turned to look at him questionably. "I better go." His eyes looked angry, he leaned his shoulder on the door frame, "If you see Cullen before I dotell him I said I don't give a damn who he isI'm not letting him have you." He turned and stalked down the hall. I closed the door behind me and rested my forehead against it shutting my eyes. What on earth was happening with my life? Not being able to suppress the curiosity any longer I headed over to my desk and turned on my laptop. Once it was running I googled Edward Cullen. The exact same nausea that had fallen over me at eighteen washed over me again when my eyes fell on the screen images. It was those pictures. The same ones that had haunted me for six years. They were back. Only now there were headlines claiming Edward was doing drugs in those pictures, not just drinking, but drugs. And there were new pictures too, ones I hadn't seen before, they were from the same Longhorn party, he was passed out, his body leaning over a chair next to a table where two straight rows of cocaine were neatly lined up on the glass. I shut my eyes, my hand gripping the desk so tightly that my fingers hurt. Only I didn't feel that pain, the only pain I felt was the one in my heart. This couldn't be happeningnot again. I pushed away from my desk and headed to the shower. There was only one person I wanted to talk to now. And that was my dad.

It was after lunch when I finally made it to the hospital.


- 273 -

My dad was sitting up in bed, reading the newspaper when I walked in. The second he saw me, he pushed the paper down off the side of the bed and leaned his head back against the pillows closing his eyes and sighing. But I wasn't having any of that "I need to talk to you." "Oh Bella," he opened his eyes and looked at me, his voice low and weak, "I didn't see you come in." "How are you feeling?" I went over to his side and purposely picked up the newspaper, placing it back on his lap. "Not too good," he didn't look down at the paper, "I'm really tired." "Well I'll let you rest in a bit, first I need to talk to you about something." My dad stared at me, probably trying to mentally guess how angry I was. "Okay," he said softly, "what about?" "It's about Edward Cullen." I said trying to keep my voice from shaking. "Cullen?" he huffed, "I don't want to talk about Cullen," his voice was harsh, no longer softor weak. "Well I do" I leaned closer to him, holding on to the bed rail. "Cullen's on his way to being a washed up quarterback now that all his shit is catching up to him." My dad spread the newspapers around him until he found the sports section, he waved it in front of my face, "Did you see this?" he demanded, "the guy's a drug addict." I had to physically hold myself back from yanking the paper right out of his hands. "I think we both know he is no such thing!" I tried not to sound hysterical. My dad narrowed his eyes at me. "Have you been talking to Cullen?"
- 274 -

"Yesyes I have. And I found some things out, things that I didn't know before, until now." "What did he tell you?" My dad demanded, his paper forgotten. "I know everything," I narrowed my eyes at him, "I know what you did to him...and me." "He's a liar," my dad nearly roared, "you can't possibly believe anything he's said to you. After what he did to you! Whatever he told you is a lie!" "I think the only who is lying is you." I kept my voice in careful control, "in fact, I know the only one lying is you." My dad gave out a small grunt and stared at me right in the eyes, "You listen to me carefully Bella, let me tell you what he told me out on the football field only weeks ago, he said if I ever got in his way again, he would own and bury me, and the best way for him to do that would be through you. But I'll be dammed if I let that bastard walk back into your life again. Don't listen to him Bella, he doesn't want you he wants to get back at me!" His words swirled around me, making me dizzy. "Just answer me one thing" my voice shook, "Did you have anything to do with those pictures on the Longhorn website six years ago? The one's I saw on my computer, that nightthe night of my miscarriage?" "No." "And you have nothing to do with the pictures that are floating around on the internet right now?" "What?" his eyes snapped up to mine, "what did you say?" "Edward's pictureson the internetit's those same ones that I saw years ago, when he still played for the Longhorns." "They're on the internet?" I nodded watching his face carefully, trying to see if he was deceiving me. His eyes fell on the paper again for a few silent seconds, and then back at me.
- 275 -

"I have nothing to do with any damn pictures. I just had a heart attack goddammit!" I stared at him stubbornly, not believing him, "You're not lying to me?" "I already told youI'm not lying." "Okay fine" I turned to walk away, "If you're not going to tell me the truth I'm just going to leave" "Isabella" My dad's voice held a warning, "Stay the hell away from CullenHe's not who you think he ishe never was" I spun around when I reached the door, my eyes flashing at him in anger, "I know exactly who Edward Cullen is!" I pointed my finger at him, my voice rising, "It's you who I don't know anymore!" My dad just stared at me frozen in shock, but I was on a roll. I took one step towards him, my body trembling in anger, "When the truth comes outand I know it willyou better be ready to apologize to himbecause if you don't, I promise you, you will spend the rest of your life in a nursing home, old and alone!" My fingernails were digging into my own palms as my fury rose. "Now I know why my mother left you! What I can't understand is why she would ever want to come back!" Finally spent of all my pent up emotions, I turned around again and fled out the door.

EPOV The sky was overcast when we ran out onto the field Sunday. It looked like it was going to rain. It was the tenth game of the season and we were this close to making the playoffs. The stadium was packed full, the media swarming everywhere.
- 276 -

I hadn't had a chance to talk to Bella, she was avoiding me. She didn't even look at me in the locker room. And Blackhellhe was fucking pissed beyond belief. He didn't hide it either. He prowled around the locker room barking out orders to all the guys, but he didn't dare come near me. I just stood there with my arms folded in front of me watching him. That probably pissed him off more, his eyes threw daggers at me from across the room, and I threw them right back. He grabbed Bella's hand right before we were about to run out of the tunnel, and I think he did that on purpose because they were standing right in front of me. She looked up at him in surprise and then glanced over her shoulder at me wearily. She didn't yank her hand away like I wanted her too. Which pissed me off. The thought had struck me sometime earlier in the day that Bella might actually be sleeping with Black. I mean she was engaged to the guy, which meant she probably was sleeping with him. Just the idea of them in bed together, his hands on her, had sent me fuming and I ran eight miles on the treadmill before even being able to think clearly again. But the second the announcer introduced the Warriors to the crowd, she pulled her hand from his and started running out, which gave me a bit of smug satisfaction. My plan was in motion now; my lawyer was geared up for what was about to be the biggest fight of my life, it would only be a matter of time before Bella found out. I needed to be ready because the shit was really going to hit the fan then The Redskins had won the coin toss so they had possession of the ball first. I watched as they moved the ball 7 yards on their first two downs. I knew we needed to win this game today, if we wanted to clinch our division, we needed to win. I made my way through the sidelines stopping just slightly behind Bella. She hadn't seen me; she was completely focused on the game, yelling at the defense to move together.
- 277 -

I stood there silently for a second, pride filling my entire soul at this gorgeous vixen in front of me. Smiling, I shifted and took a step forward so that I was standing right next to her. She glanced over at me quickly and then did a double take when she realized it was me. She noticed my smile and offered me a quick shy one of her own in return. "Watch," I said to her, nodding my head in the direction of the game, "it's third down and three, the defense is going to sack Campbell." Her eyes followed my line of sight and like magic, our defensive tackle broke through the line, his arms wrapped around Campbell's legs tightly, pulling him down to the ground. Bella turned back to me in delighted surprise, "How did you know that?" I leaned my head closer to hers, my mouth just inches away from her ear. I could see over the top of her head that Black was noticing our exchange; he was glaring, stalking his way across the sideline, heading towards us. "I just know" I let my lips brush the top of her ear, "I know a lot of thingskeep watchingyou'll seethe next play is for you." I pulled my head back and looked right into her eyes, she was looking up at me in wonder, her eyes wide. Black was almost upon us now. I reached down and squeezed her hand quickly and gave her a crooked smile before turning around and running out onto the field. Black wanted me to start with a rushing play, I knew that, but I had other plans I called the play standing in the middle of the huddle. The offensive line all lined up in shotgun formation. On the second snap we sprang into action, I pumped-faked left, and then pivoted to my right. I saw my WR, Drason, exactly where he should be, I threw the football with all my might, as hard as I could throw. It soared through the air, the crowd gasped, it was almost too short, Drason turned slightly and reached out, he caught the ball, trapping it against his right hip at the fifteen yard line. The crowd roared wildly and Drason took off like a shot, sprinting like the devil
- 278 -

himself was after him, zig zagging through the defense. He ran into the end zone pumping the ball over his head in victory. Yes! I raised my fist in front of my face, giving a silent prayer of thanks that it had worked. Then I turned to look at Bella. She was standing there stunned, her mouth open, her eyes just sparkling as she looked at me. I grinned and pointed at her, reminding her that the touchdown was for her. Her smile broke across her entire face and she threw her head back and laughed. I laughed too and jogged over to her. I slid my helmet off, still grinning. "Has anyone ever told you..." Bella turned to me smiling, her hands on her hips, her voice bubbling over with excitement, "Just how amazing you are?" "Just one" I answered her, knowing full well that my smile was giving away what I was feeling for her in front of the entire stadium, I bumped my shoulder playfully with hers, "and she's pretty amazing herself"

Don't give up on them yet! You all know how quarterbacks always get their way... :) Reviews? Pretty please...

- 279 -

Chapter 24
Hey everyone! It's good to be back! I had three sick kids all last week so this chap took me forever! I'm probably showing my age but go find Micheal Bolton's Missing You Now...especially during E's last point of view. ;) Enjoy! Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight. I own all the football knowledge. :)

BPOV "Isabella Swanyou better have a damn good answer for this!" I was in my skybox office at the stadium going over some paperwork that I had gotten behind on. No actually I was daydreamingabout Edward. I looked up from my desk in surprise. There stood Alice, one hand on her hip, the other clutching a newspaper. "Alice! I didn't know you were back. How was the honeymoon?" "Don't Alice meWhat were you doing at Cullen's place the other night?" Her voice was full of disapproval, she held the entertainment section of the paper in her hand, "I'm not even gone two weeks and the press has you all tied up with Cullenyou were at his penthouse? Why on earth did you go there?" "Alice" I stood up from my chair nervously, "Keep your voice downcome here," I gestured her over, "But close the door first." Alice paused, her eyes changing from anger to confusion. She turned slightly shutting the door behind her. "Bellawhat's going on?"
- 280 -

"Alice, will you promise to be completely honest with me?" I walked up to her grabbing her hand and pulling her down onto the small sofa in the corner of my office. "Of course. Is something wrong? How is Papa Charlie? Is he okay?" "He's still being monitored closelyhe's on shaky groundhe's going to need more surgeryI talked to the doctor yesterday, they're not letting him watch anymore games on televisionhe's not suppose to get agitated, his heart is still too weak." I pressed my lips together trying to shut out the guilt I felt every time I thought about the last time I talked to my dad. "That doesn't sound good." "But this isn't about my dadAliceit's about Edward." Alice frowned at me, "Are we going to let that bastard go? I read about the drugsIs that why you went over there?" I shook my head at her, "No, we're not letting him goThat's not why I was there." I sighed heavily. "Alice I need you to try and remember the night of my miscarriage for medo you remember what you told me about Edward?" "Your miscarriage? Are you sure you want to talk about that Bella? Did Edward say something to you about that? Do I need to go kick his ass?" "No," I gave Alice a half smile, mentally picturing her trying to stand up to Edward, "Forget that for a second will you? I want you to try to remember what you told me that night in the hospital. Do you remember that I asked you to tell Edward, and you told me that my dad had already called him?" Alice nodded quietly. "Did you actually see my dad call him?" "Nohe went out to the hallway to make the phone callswhy?" "Alicewhat did my dad do that nightwhat did he tell you?"
- 281 -

Alice tilted her head to the side in thought, she focused her eyes on the large Warrior poster I had hanging on the wall. "Well he was furiousand really scaredas soon as we knew you had lost the baby, I remember telling him that Edward should know what happenedand he just totally went offsaying that he didn't want Edward anywhere near youthat he ruined your lifeI wasn't sure what he was talking aboutbut then he went into the hallwaywhen he came back, he said he had talked to Edwardand that Edward didn't want to come see youthat he thought the miscarriage was for the best." "And you believed him?" "Well" Alice looked at the floor for a quick second, "ActuallyI didn't at firstthere was something off about Papa Charlie that nightI thought he was just so afraid of losing youyou still hadn't woken upor that if Edward showed up it would hurt you too muchI mean we had just found out that Edward was cheating on youso I called Edward's dorm myselfI never got to talk to Edwardsome girl answered his phoneI was pissed because here you were in the hospital and he had a freaking girl in his dorm room!" "Alicewhat did the girl say?" Alice frowned at me, "Why? What does it matter? Why are we talking about this now?" "Just tell me please" I begged, my eyes pleading with hers. "Well she didn't say muchI asked her if Edward was thereshe said yesI told her who I was and if I could talk to himI heard her say something like Edward, a girl named Alice wants to talk to youI couldn't hear his answerbut then she told me that Edward didn't want to talk to me." Alice shrugged her shoulders, "and that's pretty much it, I just hung up." I stared at her in silence, digesting her words. She watched me in confusion, trying to figure out where I was going with this. "Alice" I said softly, "Edward never knew about my miscarriage" "What do you mean he never knewof course he knew" her voice trailed off as she looked into my eyes.
- 282 -

"My dad never called him that night" I took a deep breath and began telling her everything, "he liedto meyouand Edward." Alice frowned shaking her head. "He never called Edward, Alice. He just told us he did, but he never did it. He sent Edward a note insteadpretending to be metelling him I had an abortiontelling him I didn't want to see him anymore." Alice's eyes grew wide as she listened to me. "All this time AliceEdward never knewall this timehe thought I had gotten rid of the baby on purpose" "How do you know all this? Did Papa Charlie tell you this?" I shook my head, "NoI ran into Edward's mother back in Forkssheshe told me." "Does Edward know?" Slowly I nodded. "Oh Wow," she breathed softly, "what did he do? What did he say?" I looked down at the floor contemplating on whether to tell her or not. "I went to see himhehe didn't believe me at firstbut thenhe realized I was telling the truthand he forgave me." Alice blinked, "and then?" she questioned raising one eyebrow at me. "And then" I avoided her eyes, my voice trailed off and I shrugged. "Bella" Alice was starting to breathe a little fasterI knew what she was guessing "You didn'tyou knowtell me you didn't." I bit down on my lower lip; I could feel the heat spreading across my face. "Why is it that you are the most careful girl on this planet, Isabella Swan, except when it comes to Edward Cullen?" she shook her head at me.
- 283 -

"I don't know Aliceit's like every time I am around himI just lose all control." "I don't think control is the only thing you lost to him." She sighed heavily, "WellWas it at least every bit as good as you remembered it to be?" she threw up her hands, probably mentally giving up on me, and laughed. "Better" was all I could say, laughing with her. But her expression went back to seriousness once our laughter faded away. "Bella, has Edward talked to Papa Charlie yet?" "Nowe didn't really discuss my dadI don't think he wants to talk to my dad." I pushed my hair behind my earI hadn't even thought about it. "Bella," Alice's voice was tinged with alarm, "I realize you probably know him better than I do butthe Edward Cullen I know wouldn't stay quietthe Edward Cullen I know would be after bloodrevenge" An uneasy feeling washed over meAlice was rightEdward was probably furious. "He wouldn't do anything to hurt me" my voice trailed off softly. "Would he?" The sober tone of Alice's voice sent a shiver down my spine. A sharp knock at my door jerked both Alice and I to attention. "Miss Swan?" "Yes?" "This came for you." My office assistant, Lori, walked into the room and handed me a large brown package. "Thank you." I looked down into my hands, Seth Clearwater Attorney At Law, was typed in bold black letters on the top left corner.
- 284 -

Frowning I pulled open the package, my eyes scanned over the documents quickly. "I can't believe this" I gasped softly. "What? What is it?" Alice leaned forward trying to see. I sprang up from my seat and scrambled for the phone. "Lori, this is Bella, can you get me our lawyer, Eric Yorkie, on the phone right away please." I turned away from the phone and looked into Alice's eyes as fear washed over me, "You were right Alice, this is from Edward," my hand trembled, "he's going after my dad..."

EPOV Seth Clearwater had a reputation for being a hardnosed attorney, which is what I initially thought I wanted, but now standing here in his office waiting for Bella and Eric Yorkie to show up, I was having my doubts. I wanted Seth to convince Bella that there was no other way but I didn't want her to be pummeled by him. Seth sat behind his obscenely large wooden desk, his glasses pushed up high against his nose. He really didn't need those glasses to see, he said they made him look more "attorney" like. I had already talked to him about how I wanted everything to be done. He assured me that it would go off without a hitch. He already knew Eric Yorkie, the lawyer that represented the Warriors, and he wasn't worried about him at all. I walked over to the small conference table on the opposite side of Seth's office. A small stack of legal papers sat next to a large vase of yellow lilies. I wondered briefly if Bella would like the flowers, she probably wouldn't even notice them once Seth started talking. I ran my hand through my hair in apprehension. I knew I could really lose her over thisI mean everything was riding on this meetingeverything. "Mr. Yorkie and Miss Swan have arrived Mr. Clearwater."
- 285 -

Seth's secretary stood at the doorway. "Shall I let them in?" "Please do, Ms. Chase, Mr. Cullen and I are ready for them." As quickly as I could, I collected my thoughts and turned away from the flowers. I smoothed down the front of my suit jacket and tried to look serious and determined, leaning slightly against the table. Mr. Yorkie and Bella appeared at the doorway. The look on Bella's face could only mean one thing; she was pissedthat and scaredher eyes swept across the room quickly before they fell on me. I wanted to walk up to her and wrap my arms around her. To reassure her that whatever happened in this room today, it was only because of what I still felt for her, nothing else, but I knew if I told her the truth she would be able to walk right out of here and out of my life for good. "Miss Swan, please come in, have a seat. Ericit's good to see you againhow have you been?" Seth ushered them both in with a wave of his hand, talking to them as if they were old friends. He took Mr. Yorkie's hand in his, shaking it heartily. "Seth," Mr. Yorkie looked a bit perplexed at Seth's hospitality, "Good to see you too." "How's the wife and kids?" Seth was really laying it on thick now. Bella was looking around the room tensely, as if she expected someone to jump out at her any second now. "MaryBeth is just fine, and so are the kids." Mr. Yorkie eyed Seth with one eyebrow raised, "and I'm sure you and Mr. Cullen didn't call us down here just to chat about the familyYou mind telling us what this is all about?" "Of course, why don't we make ourselves comfortable over here at the table. Miss Swan would you like something to drink?" Seth gestured behind him over to the bar, "Eric?" Bella shook her head slightly and sat down next to Mr. Yorkie. Both her hands were clasped together tightly in front of her. I could see Mr. Yorkie beginning to get impatient.
- 286 -

"Why don't we just skip all the formalities Seth," he tilted his head to the side and leaned forward on the table, "Miss Swan and I are fine; we don't need anything to drink." "Alright then" Seth glanced over at me and I nodded slightly letting him know that it was okay for him to start. "Basically what we have here is a lawsuitagainst Charlie Swan, among others." Bella's eyes were fixed on Seth as he began talking, they grew wider and wider as he went on. "For defamationlibel and slander, and manipulation of the college recruiting system. Mr. Swan released false statements, attacks on Mr. Cullen's professional character, without justification or any lawful excuse, both by mouth, in print, and on the internet with the intention to injure Mr. Cullen's reputation. Mr. Swan's actions have exposed Mr. Cullen to public contempt, hatred, and ridicule." Mr. Yorkie seemed unnerved by Seth's words, he leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms, "That's quite an accusation Seth," he raised his eyebrows, "but just how do you plan to prove that? Whatever Mr. Swan said about your client would have to have been with reckless disregard or actual malice for this charge to stick." "That is not going to be a problem; in fact, it's come out in recent light that Mr. Swan has repeatedly made false statements about Mr. Cullen on more than one occasion, going as far back as six years ago." "Is that so?" Mr. Yorkie pressed his lips together and nodded, I could tell he didn't believe a word Seth was saying, "And just how does your client know this?" "Well it came directly from Miss. Swan herself." Seth went in for the kill. Mr. Yorkie nearly fell out of his chair. Bella whipped her head around at me so fast, her mouth opened in surprise. Seth continued on without missing a beatI could tell he was beginning to enjoy this. "Miss Swan has recently made it known to my client that six years ago Mr. Swan went to great lengths to keep importantvaluable information from Mr. Cullen, information that may have changed his life."
- 287 -

"That's just personal." Mr. Yorkie cut Seth off, but not before giving Bella an alarmed glance. He shook his head, "That has nothing to do with defamation." "Agreed" Seth nodded putting one hand down on the table, "but it sets the stageshows exactly what kind of great lengths Mr. Swan was willing to go through to inflict malice on Mr. Cullen. It has also come to light that Mr. Swan and Mr. Brown of the Texas Longhorns not only manipulated the college football recruiting system, but deliberately drugged Mr. Cullen with a form of Benzodiazepines, and took pictures of this event with the intent to do harm to Mr. Cullen's career ." Seth paused letting the words sink in. Mr. Yorkie was sitting rigid in his chair, his eyes glowering at Seth. Bella had turned completely pale; she was staring down at the table, utterly in shock. "But" Seth continued, "Mr. Cullen is willing to throw the entire lawsuit out on one condition" Bella jerked her head back up to Seth and then over to me. Her eyes were so full of fear, it tore at me, I was glad she couldn't see how hard my hand was gripping my knee under the table. "One condition?" Mr. Yorkie glanced over at Bella and then back at Seth. "It's quite simple really" Seth waved his hand in the air as if it were a magic wand, "Mr. Cullen wants your client to commit to six dates with himthree publicthree private." Mr. Yorkie's mouth dropped open. "He what!" We all turned to look at Bella at the same time, her eyes flashed wildly around the room and then settled on me, "You what? You can't do this!" I remained silent, my eyes pleading with hers to understand. "Oh come on Seth" Mr. Yorkie picked up his hand trying to regain his composure; his eyes shifted uneasily back and forth between myself and Seth, I could tell he was unsurenervous, "That's ridiculous. Besides, how in the hell are you planning on proving Charlie Swanor Mack Brownor whoeverdrugged Mr. Cullen? You're verging on criminal here." "I have a witness who knows exactly what happened." Seth relaxed back in his chair and clasped both hands behind his head.
- 288 -

Mr. Yorkie looked around the room in frustration, "A witnessreallywell where is he?" "She." Seth rose from his chair and walked casually over to his desk. He picked up his phone and brought it to his ear. "Ms. Chase, could you send her in please. Thank you." Five seconds later Charlotte walked into the room.

BPOV "This is Charlotte Peters." Mr. Clearwater announced. The room was spinning all around me. My nails were digging into my palms so bad I was sure they were bleeding. She was here in the roomherthe blondeand her name was Charlotte. I didn't think I could take anymore of this. By the look on Edward's face I knew he was dead serious about pursuing those allegations against my dad. We all watched Charlotte in silence, the only sound that could be heard was the light drumming of Eric's fingers on the table. I had called Eric Yorkie in desperation, he was the lawyer for the Warriors, the only lawyer I knew, and I had begged him to help me today. Eric had told me not to say a word during the entire meetingto let him handle itand I didI wasup until Mr. Clearwater had announced that Edward wanted six dates with me. My mind couldn't wrap itself around that one and I just blurted out the words of surprise simply because I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Both Edward and Mr. Clearwater rose from their chairs when Charlotte walked in. It made my stomach turn to be in the same room with her. She didn't look at me, or Ericshe just walked silently over to Mr. Clearwater and took the free chair next to him. It only added to my confusion why she wasn't sitting
- 289 -

next to Edward. Did he really blatantly want her to know that he was trying to blackmail me into six dates with him? Eric eyed the three figures across from us carefully, he was trying to read them, I could tell. I knew this whole thing was throwing him for a loop. "Well?" Eric tilted his head to the side waiting for Mr. Clearwater to speak. I wanted to just stand up and walk right out of that room. I didn't want to hear another word out of Mr. Clearwater's mouth, and I most definitely did not want to hear anything that Charlotte had to say. "Charlotte Peters attended the University of Texas with Mr. Cullen." Mr. Clearwater began. I wanted to roll my eyes. "She was there the evening that Mr. Cullen was drugged." Eric frowned at Mr. Clearwater, "So she was therethat doesn't prove anything." Mr. Clearwater turned to Charlotte. "Can you tell us Miss. Peters, how you know that Mr. Cullen was drugged?" Charlotte looked over at Edward nervously and then she turned and directly spoke to me. "I know that Mack Brown drugged Mr. Cullen for Charlie Swan the night of the partysomething was put into Mr. Cullen's lemonade Mr. Brown wanted pictures of Mr. Cullen, and had me pose for them...I know all this because Mack Brown paid me to do it." I didn't moveI knew if I moved one inch the hysteria that was welling up inside of me would burst loose. Charlotte didn't take her eyes off of me, "I'm sorry." She said quietly, "I had no idea at first why Mr. Brown wanted me to do thisit came out laterlater when I accidently overheard his phone conversation with your father." The room fell silent. We were all frozen in our spots. I could hear Eric suck in his breath next to me, Edward's eyes remained fixed on my face. My brain knew what it
- 290 -

had just heard but somehow the reality of her words hadn't sunk in yet. Charlotte tore her eyes away from mine and looked down at the table. I just sat there not movingnot blinkingjust staringat both Mr. Clearwater and Edward, unable to form a single thought. Finally Mr. Clearwater let out a small cough and thanked Charlotte. He escorted her out of the room quietly and then returned to the table, pulling out his chair. His action set everyone in motion at the same time. Overcome with alarm, I rose quickly, pushing myself away from the table with a small gasp; I had to get out of here. Eric looked over at me startled and rose along side of me. Edward placed his palm on the table as he stood; he slowly shook his head no at me, his eyes burning into mine. We all hesitated. "So what is it you want again?" Eric made a face that was a cross between a grimace and confusion. "Six datesthree privatethree public." Mr. Clearwater didn't move his head, but his eyes went back and forth from Eric to me. "Six dates?" Eric brought his hand up to his forehead and tapped on it, he shook his head slowly as if he couldn't believe it, "Your client wants six dates with Miss. Swan, and if he doesn't get them then" his voice trailed off. "Then I will file the lawsuit and, or criminal charges against Charlie Swan first thing in the morning." Mr. Clearwater raised his eyebrows and gave a half shrug as if this sort of arrangement happened everyday in his office. The room kept spinningdespite everything I had told Edward about my miscarriage, everything that happened that night at his penthousenone of it seemed to matter to himmy dad was rightEdward was just using me to get back at my dadhe didn't want mehe wanted to drill it into my dad that he held all the cards and he could do as he pleased with our lives I guess the hysteria was finally too much for me because I snapped at the absurdity of it all. "Are you all insane?" The shrill in my voice broke through the room, I looked over
- 291 -

at Mr. Clearwater, "Do you know how insane this sounds? Do you even realize what he's doing?" I pointed to Edward. Mr. Clearwater didn't answer. I turned to Edward, "What are you trying to prove? You're using everything I told you against me. Have you forgotten that I am engaged? I can't go out with you in public! Are you trying to humiliate Jacob?" "Black is just going to have to back off." Edward slid both his hands in his trouser pockets and stared back at me his jaw clenched his face devoid of emotion. I shook my head in disbelief, "And if I don't play along with your little gamethen what" I snapped at him, narrowing my eyes, "you go after my dadis that it? He just had a heart attack! He's in the hospital for God's sake! He's having surgery next weekAre you trying to kill him?" Edward remained silent. I turned to Eric, "Can they really do this?" I pleaded, "Can they really go after my dad?" Eric gave me a worried look, he glanced over at Mr. Clearwater and then back to me. Slowly he nodded his head. I turned away from him and glared at Edward. Mr. Clearwater reached over and placed his hand the papers that were sitting on the table. He pushed them towards me. I fought valiantly against the tears that threatened to fall; I brought my head back up bravely and looked right into Edward's eyes. "I'm never going to forgive you for this." I grabbed the pen that was sitting on top of the papers and scribbled my name on the bottom. I flung the pen back down onto the table and turned to Eric. "I need to get out of here."

EPOV I watched in silence as Bella hurled the pen across the table and stormed out of
- 292 -

the room. I had to physically fight with myself not to call out to herto go after her. Slowly I exhaled; it was the first easy breath I had taken all morning. I nearly called the whole thing off when I saw the look on her face as Charlotte walked into the room. The pain that haunted Bella's beautiful black eyes, when she recognized Charlotte, was so clear and vivid it nearly sent me to my knees. But it was Charlotte that had been the final piece to this puzzle. When Allen called me up and told me that my picture was all over the internet, I never expected to see Charlotte in those pictures with me. I was floored at firstcouldn't believe what I was looking at. I went to see Charlotte at her place and demanded answers. I could tell she was frightened, but at that point I really didn't give a fuck. She told me everything. How she met Mack Brown through the Longhorn Leaders program and the athletic department. He befriended her and some of her friends not long after. At first he only hired her to make appearances with some of the more wild, troublemaking players, trying to clean up their image, make them look more down to earth. At first, she didn't know why he asked her to take all these pictures with me at that party. She initially thought I was just drunk, wild, another troublemakershe suspected that I wasn't drunk when Mack told her to take care of me for the next two days back at my dorm room. She had been frightened because I wouldn't wake up. She went to Mack's office to tell him to get me a doctor, and that's when she heard him talking about me to Charlie Swan. Afraid of getting kicked out of college and reassuring herself that those pictures were only to make my ex-girlfriend jealous, she kept quiet, and later when she finally figured out the whole truth she kept quiet out of shame and guilt. She followed me and my career every step of the wayeasing her conscious through my success. When I finally got it all out of her, she promised me she would do whatever I asked her to, and I asked her to do this Seth gathered up his papers in neat pile not looking at me. I just stood there my hands in my pockets, looking out past the window to the street at all the cars whizzing by, trying to shove the regret down someplace inside of me so it couldn't
- 293 -

reach my heart. "I think" Seth said quietly, taking off his glasses, "It's going to take a lot more than six dates to get your young woman back" I turned to look at him, hoping beyond hope that he was wrong. "She looked awfully pissed." He added. I raised my eyebrows and nodded, agreeing with him, then looked back out the window. "But I can see why you're going through all this trouble" he clicked the top his pen, closing it, "she's even more beautiful in person than she is in the magazines." I gave out a small chuckle. "I'm surprised she didn't call your bluff." I jerked my head in his direction, taken aback by his words. "What?" Seth shrugged. "If Miss. Swan and Eric had just watched you instead of listening intently to every word I said, they would have realized in about a minute that you never had any intention of following through with any of thisam I right?" He stared at me, his voice was casual, he kept talking "Even if she had told you to go to hell and walked right out of this office without signing anything, I would be ripping up these papers right nowright here" Seth gave me a wry smile, "because it's obvious Mr. Cullenit was written all over your faceyou love hertherefore you would rather live your life without her rather than hurt her."

BPOV I was still in shock as I headed to Jacob's office. I knew I couldn't keep this from him any longer. Once the media got a hold of this, it was going to turn into a three ring circus.

- 294 -

I was also crushedI simply couldn't believe that Edward would do this to methat he would use everything I had told him about the baby and my dad against meit was almost as if the man who had cried with me and comforted me back at the penthouse didn't exist anymoremaybe he never existedmaybe all along all he cared about was revenge. I was also finding it hard to believe this Charlotte personbut my gut was telling me that she wasn't lyingand if she wasn't lying then that meant Edward really had to be pissed offand really out for bloodmy dad's bloodand like my dad had told me earlierwhat better way for Edward to get back at my dad than through me. Not really sure how I was going to do this I hesitated outside Jacob's door trying to find some kind of lighthearted way to ease into it. We had been on shaky ground, Jacob and I, ever since Edward's charity fundraiser Jacob had become more distant towards me. Desolation washed over meI hadn't been a very good friend to Jacob lately, and definitely a horrible girlfriend I already knew I could never love him the way he deserved to be loved. He deserved the worldand the perfect woman to go along with itit just wasn't meI wasn't good enough for him and I knew that I would have to let him know that sooner than later. Stilldespite how I had been acting towards him, he remained true loyal friendhe had always been there for meand I was sad to be losing him. "Come on in! The door's open!" he called out when I knocked on the door. He was sitting in his leather office chair, reviewing our previous game on the big flat screen TV that hung on the far side of the wall. We had clinched our division, we were going to the playoffs, it was time for Jacob to show everyone what he was made of. "Hey." I smiled walking over to him and perching lightly at the edge of the table. "Hey." He glanced up from the TV, "I was looking for you earlier. Were you at the hospital?" "No," I shook my head at him, my eyes moving over to the TV and then back to him, "I was at a meetingdo you have a minute?" "Sure." He grabbed the remote off the table and hit pause. The screen froze on
- 295 -

Edward; his arm held high behind him, the football grasped securely in his hand, he was just about to throw the ball. I turned my head away from the screen, twisting my body around so that I wouldn't be able to see it as I talked to Jacob. "I don't recall anything about a meeting?" Jacob cocked his head to the side looking up at me, "Did I miss something important?" "Jacob," I took a deep breath, "the meeting wasn't about footballit was about meand CullenEdward Cullen." Jacob stared at me, the light easy smile that had been on his face just seconds before vanished. He didn't say anything to me, just waited for me to continue. "Six years ago I got pregnant," I began, Jacob frowned at me. "What does that have to do with Cullen? Besides I thought you told me once, you couldn't get pregnant. Something happened to you; the doctor said you couldn't have children." I nodded, "I can't get pregnant nowbut six years agoI couldand I didand it was" my voice began to shake and I gripped the table to try and steady myself, "It was Edward Cullen's baby." "What?" Jacob was looking at me in disbelief. "I was only eighteen" I wanted Jacob to understand as quickly as possible, "Edward was the quarterback for my dad's high school team. We started datingone thing led to anotherand I came out pregnant" Jacob's shoulders went rigid, and his hands clenched into two fists. I kept on talking, trying to finish before he exploded. "Edward got accepted to Texas Universityhe left right after our high school graduationmy dad hated himhe wanted him out of my lifehe had his best friend, Mack Brown, drug Edwardand take picturesthose pictures that you saw on the internetthose are the ones Mack Brown tookonly I never knew thatI thought that Edward was cheating on meit upset meand then" I closed my eyes briefly; I didn't want to see Jacob's face when I told him the next part.
- 296 -

"I lost the baby, Jacob, I had a miscarriageI was in the hospitalmy dadinstead of telling Edward what really happenedhe sent Edward a letterpretending to be mesaying that I had an abortion and I didn't want to see him anymore." I opened my eyes. Jacob was looking at me a mixture of pain and sympathy etched into his features. "We never saw each other againuntil the night of the Galaand even then we didn't know what my dad had done." "Bella" Jacob's voice trailed off, he got up from his chair and stood next to me, he took my hand in his, "II'm sorry" I gave him a small smile, "No, I'm sorrysorry I didn't tell you any of this before." "But you know the truth nowand so does Cullen?" Jacob tilted his head in question. "YesEdward knows the truth" "He must be furioushe must want to kill your dad" he added softly, shaking his head. "He does" my voice broke, "he's trying tohe's going to file a lawsuit against my dadand I can't let that happenit would just kill my dadhis heart" I shook my head fighting against the tears, "I know what my dad did was awfuland I hate him for itbut he's still my dadand Edward won't stophe wouldn't stop unless Iunless I" "Unless you what?" Jacob frowned, his eyes searching mine questionably. I looked up at him, "Unless I agreed todatehim." "What the hell!" Jacob sprang back from me, his face redder than I had ever seen it before, "You what! He what!" I buried my face in my hands, "He's just trying to humiliate meto get back at my dadto rub it in his face." Jacob gave out a grunt and started for the door.
- 297 -

"I'll be dammed if I let that bastard get away with this!" He turned around to look at me when he reached the door, his eyes flashed in anger, "I knew it from the minute I set eyes on him that he wanted a piece of you and he's intending to get it any way he can." The door slammed behind him. My eyes traveled over to the TV screen, Edward still frozen in place. I stared at the immobile figure for the longest time, my eyes searching his face. "What are you trying to do Edward?" I whispered.

EPOV I knew the second I set foot on the football field that day that all hell was going to break loose. Our last game of the season was this weekend, we had clinched our divisionguaranteed a spot in the playoffs. The Warrior name was all over the sports pages and ESPN. Everyone was watching us closely. The tension that hung over the football field was so thick it was hard to see straight much less run a decent practice session. That combined with the fact that Bella was completely ignoring me, and Black had yet to show up, all added to the ticking time bomb. I stood in the middle of the field, throwing pass after pass, but my mind wasn't really on football. Bella stood at the sidelines surrounded by reporters and cameramen. This was the only practice they were allowed to attend and they were all trying to get the scoop before time ran out. The offensive line all huddled around me as I called a rushing play. It wasn't your ordinary rushing play, the ball was going to be carried by our tight end, which doesn't always happen and is suppose to throw the defense off track. We ran the play twice, each time our tight end got the ball successfully and managed to move the ball at least 6 yards down the field. I was too busy at the line to see that Black had arrived on the turf; I did notice that more cameramen had shown up on the sidelines and seemed to be filming us, so I was startled when I heard Black shouting at me to run a passing play. I snapped my head in his direction; his eyes were resting right on me, dark and angry. I could
- 298 -

feel the heat spread throughout my body at the tone of his voice and the way he was looking at me. We got into formation, but I was already unhinged, instead of the passing play I called a running play, just to spite him. I don't even remember the fucking count; the defense had me down on the ground in no time. I was flat on my back looking up at the sky, shaking my head, trying to snap out of it. "What the hell was that all about?" Black had stalked onto the field and leaned over me. The cameraman hot on his tail, he was filming everything. Before I could answer Black reached down and grabbed a hold of my facemask, yanking my head up roughly off the ground. "Fuck Cullenyou listen to meyou are not the one who calls the plays on this teamI doyou're not the one who'll take this team to the playoffs I will" his eyes narrowed, "And you're not the one who is going to marry herI am!" Fury, red and hot burst within me. Without thinking I reached up and grabbed the collar of his shirt jerking him down so that his face was level to my helmet. "Get the fuck off of me." I growled, "You don't know shit about meand if you knew her, you would know that all you're doing right now is pissing her off." Black spun his head around at my words towards Bella. She was standing over by our punter, her hands on her hips, her hair whipping around her face with the wind, glaring at the both of us. Black looked up at the cameraman in angry silence, then he shoved my head back down onto the ground, letting go of my facemask. "Run the fucking play again Cullen." Was all he said. He didn't mess with me anymore but the damage was already done, I could tell. The news reporters were all huddled together near the fifteen yard line whispering back and forth. The cameramen were right in my face, and Black's too, trying to catch our every expression. I was so wound up by the end of practice I thought I was going to have to kill someone. I was so fucking glad when practice was over and I was back in the locker room standing under the hot spray, letting it wash over my shoulders, taking some
- 299 -

of the tension away with it. I stayed there for the longest time, until everyone else was gone. Silently I got dressed and headed out down through the tunnel, slinging my bag over my shoulder. It was already dark out. The moonlight cast a yellow glow along the ground and across the bleachers. Walking past the ten yard line I noticed a lone figure leaning against the large cement wall that surrounded the seats. I sucked in my breath at the sightit was Bellashe stood completely stillher head tilted up towards the skyher arms were crossed in front of herher eyes closed. She looked so incredibly beautiful with the moonlight bouncing off that gorgeous wavy hair, I couldn't help but whisper her name. "Reina?" I said softly. Bella's eyes popped wide open and she whipped her head around in my direction, gasping softly. "What are you doing here?" she huffed, her eyes narrowed, "I don't want to talk to you." The overwhelming urge to go up to herto touch herwashed over me, and I tossed my bag down to the floor and closed the distance between us in four short steps. I struggled with myself when I reached her, "What are you doing out here this late?" What I really wanted to say was I'm so sorry for hurting you, for scaring youplease forgive me I mimicked the way she was standing so that my own back pressed against the wall, I could feel the cold of the cement seeping through my shirt. She gave out a half grunt and turned her head away from me, "Nothingwaiting for Alice" she gestured with her head up to the skyboxes. A small light flickered behind the glass of Alice's office. "Just get out of here." "I can't" I whispered softly closing my eyesI can't leave youeven if I wanted
- 300 -

toeven when I wanted toI couldn'teverleaveyou. "Why?" I could hear the pleading in her voice and I knew she wasn't asking me why I couldn't leave. I opened my eyes; her head was still tilted upward, her eyes were still closed. Slowly, quietly, I pushed myself off from the wall and stood in front of herI placed my right hand against the cement, less than an inch away from her head. As if she could sense my nearness, her eyes flew open and her breath hitched. Our eyes lockedI leaned my face into hersher eyes grew widerbut I didn't kiss herinstead I let my cheek brush against hersmy face ghosted down into the crook of her neckand then up towards her ear She was breathing in short erratic breaths. "Don't you remember why" I whispered achingly into the crook of her ear, my lips barely touching her skin, "Because I already told you Siempre tendr mi corazn." "Don't." She picked her palm up, but she didn't touch me. I kept goingletting my lips brush across her cheekpulling my head slowly back until my mouth was directly in front of hers. I lingered theremy body on firemy eyes burning into hers I tilted my head slightly and leaned in "I said don't." Her lower lip trembled, she turned her head away, squeezing her eyes shut, and pushed me back with both hands. Instead of stepping back like she wanted me too, I leaned my free hand on the other side of her head and tilted my head down so that my forehead fell against her shoulder "If you let me hold you" I pleaded softly, her sweet scent surrounding my senses, "I'll give you a playoff win" I moved my body closer to hers, "And if you let me kiss youI'll give you a Superbowl win
- 301 -

"But if you let me make love to you" I paused and turned my head into the crook of her neck. Bella drew in a deep, shaky breath, "The playoffs and the Superbowl" her voice was shrill, "What more could you possibly give me?" "Yo te dara todo el mundo." I promised quietly, "I'd give you the worldand meI come with itit's a package deal" I pulled my head back and gave her a gentle kiss on her nosepushing myself off the wall with my both my hands I stepped back. Bella was looking up at me, her eyes wide and shining. I gave her a half smile and reached down, grabbing my bag and tossing it over my shoulder, "Think about it" I cocked my head to the side and winked at her, then slowly I turned away and walked past the tunnel out towards the parking lotleaving Bellaand my heartbehind me

The first date is next...and heads are gonna roll! LOL ;) Any reviews for me today???

- 302 -

Chapter 25
I'm back! I have nothing to say except... Let the fun stuff begin! LOL Enjoy! Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight. I own all the football knowledge. :)

EPOV I watched in silence as the screen flickered with the news conference the NFL was having in lieu of my apparent drug use. Both Black and Bella were up on the platform taking and answering questions from the press. Black stood on the platform with this smug arrogant look on his face, his eyes shifting annoyingly from one reporter to the next. Bella looked completely serious, and maybe a bit frightened by the crowd, but she stood straight and tall, bravely looking them all in the eyes, which made me swell with pride and smile. I wasn't allowed to attend, but Allen was there, and he was going to release a statement. I watched in fascination and dread because I knew Black wouldn't defend me. My only hope was that he knew that he needed to look out for his team and the Warrior name, so hopefully he wouldn't bash me too much. "Are you planning on suspending Cullen from playing in the playoffs?" the press shouted questions to the stage. Black paused for a second, which was a mistake because the press started buzzing right away, he had slight frown on his face, he didn't answer until Bella turned her head, looking at him in exasperation. Finally he spoke. "Discipline for violations of the law relating to use, possession, acquisition, sale, or distribution of substances of abuse, or conspiracy to do so, will remain at the discretion of the Commissioner."
- 303 -

"So does that mean Cullen was caught in possession of a substance?" the reporters were going to try and make this something it wasn't and I hoped both Bella and Black knew that. Black looked momentarily speechless at the question, but I swore I saw a brief flash of anger pass over Bella's face and she spoke up. "Neither the Warriors, nor the league office have any such reports that Mr. Cullen has ever taken any substances. The independent medical advisors who administer the tests notify in writing the teams whose players tested positive in the NFL. Mr. Cullen is not one of them. Unfortunately, rumors about eligible players, including rumors about drug abuse, begin to circulate every year at this time. Many of these rumors are circulated for self-serving reasons and they are terribly unfair to the players and their families." Her voice was strongtoughand challenging, she almost glared at the reporters. I kept on smiling and turned the volume up with my remote. "Has Cullen agreed to a drug test? Is he currently being tested right now?" Black shook his head but Bella turned her head sharply in the direction of the reporter who had asked the question and began talking before Black had a chance to answer. "Seven to 10 of the players on each NFL team are randomly tested each week during the season for steroids and other drugs. That means there will be 12,000 tests each season, up from the current 10,000. The Warriors have not requested Mr. Cullen to take a drug test, nor will we be doing so in the future." Black glanced down at her, his expression half irritated, half proud. I gripped the remote a little tighter. It was the half proud look I was worried about. I knew Black was in love with herand I knew why tooBella was the ideal woman. She was classically beautifulflawlessloyal and kindyet fierce and unattainable when angeredwickedly intelligentoff and on the field. But most of all, she was ethereal, an incomparable being who really didn't realize the powerful hold she had on men. All 53 Warriors would move mountains for her,
- 304 -

me included, and not once during the entire season, did I see any indication that she was ever really aware of that. "What about the claims surrounding Cullen and Coach Swan, are they in a romantic relationship or not?" I was immediately jerked to attention at the next question. Bella's eyes grew wide, she opened her mouth to answer but Black held up his hand. He stepped forward, getting closer to the microphone, partially covering Bella's face from the cameras; he snorted, choked, and then huffed "Those allegations are simply ridiculous and completely false. Miss Swan and I are engaged to be married at the end of the season. Miss Swan and Cullen work together, nothing more." I glared at the TV, that bastard knew what he was doing, he covered Bella's face on purpose, no one could see her reaction to his words. "So the video that was released of you and Cullen going at it at practice, that wasn't about Coach Swan?" Black gave the reporter a withering stare. "I know angry words were exchanged. Cullen and I were just settling some differences that's all." I wanted to reach through the screen and wipe that self-righteous look right off his face. Allen came out last to make our statement. He stood rigid, making eye contact with the reporters, his voice strong and authoritative. "It has been reported on an internet site that my client, Edward Cullen, reportedly abused drugs and engaged in inappropriate behavior. The report cited unnamed sources including a college and NFL team. Neither Mr. Cullen nor our office has received any notification of any positive test on any banned or illegal substance. In addition, we have been informed by several of our NFL contacts that they have not been notified of any drug abuse reports, therefore, the NFL will not be taking these allegations seriously and neither should the public." Then he got a twinkle in his eye that only I would recognize,
- 305 -

"As for the reports that claim Mr. Cullen and Coach Swan are in a romantic relationshipwellMr. Cullen does not wish to comment on thatyet." I smirked at the screen, mentally telling myself to give him a raise. Allen finally knew the whole story. Not being able to hold it in any longer I found myself confiding in him a few days ago. We were at his office going over the statement he was going to make today. "Okay so that should wrap it up then." Allen had announced, "are you sure you don't want to just come right out and put Charlie Swan and Mack Brown in the hot seat?" "No. Absolutely not." Allen eyed me suspiciously, "Absolutely not hmmn? You must really like her don't you?" I leaned forward in my chair, unable to contain my eagerness to tell someone. "Can I tell you something Allen?" "Sure. Fire away." "I met Isabella Swan when I was eighteen." Allen raised his eyebrows, "Really? I didn't know that, how'd you meet?" "In high schoolwe didn't just meetshe was my girlfriend." "What?" Allen seemed at loss for words. He shook his head, "I don't get ityou guys don't act like you've known each other before." "That's because it didn't end very well" "What happened?" "She got pregnant" Allen's mouth dropped open. "But her dad, Charlie Swan, hated me. When I left for college he arranged with his
- 306 -

buddy, Mack Brown, to take those pictures of me. Bella thought I cheated on herand then she lost the baby." I paused closing my eyes silently; remember that night in my penthouse when I found out. "Shit." Allen whispered. "I got a telegram from Bella telling me that she had gotten an abortion and didn't want to see me anymore. Only she didn't send it, Charlie Swan did, I was a fool to believe ita part of me didn't believe itI went back home, tried to see herher dad kicked me off their propertytold me the baby was gone and she was with someone elseI just leftI didn't know what to doI was only a kid." "Edward" Allen's voice trailed off, he shook his head slowly in disbelief. "So that's how it endedall this time she thought I left herand all this time I thought she had gotten rid of our baby on purposeeven when I signed with the Warriors I still didn't know the truth." "When did you find out?" "Remember that night of the fundraiser?" Allen cocked his head to the side and suddenly his eyes lit up, "Oh, yeahI remember ityou looked furious at her for being there" "She told me what really happened that night." I struggled for a second, not knowing how to tell him the rest, "We both realized some thingsand I realized that" My voice trailed off. "And you realized that" Allen prompted me. "I realized that my feelings for her haven't changed," I finally let it all out, "And I think her feelings for me are the same. And I gotta fucking try" I threw up my hands, "We got cheated out of our chance six years agoand I don't want to be cheated out of it again this time." "So you're going after her" I nodded. "But she's engaged to Black."
- 307 -

I kept nodding. Allen watched me in silence his head tilted to the side; he blinked once and nodded back. "Well then" he stood up, and in all seriousness he said to me, "We just have to kick his ass." His statement startled a laugh out of me. I got up from my chair and paced in front of the sofa, running my hand through my hair. A fresh wave of nervousness washed over me, I was going to Bella's apartment tomorrow evening and I actually had some questions for her about Black. Even though she probably wouldn't want to talk about it, I couldn't shake the feeling that her engagement to him wasn't about love, but something else, and I wanted to know what. Seth had arranged the date with Bella; she still wasn't speaking to me. She had tried to talk her way out of it saying she was completely buried in paperwork and the playoffs, but at my insistence, Seth convinced her that the first date would be completely private and not interfere with her work. I decided that I would take over some dinner, and my playbook so that I could work alongside of her. Despite the incredible urge to touch her and hold her, I also had this ravenous yearning to know her again, to find out what her life had been like in those six years we were apart. I wasn't going to fucking hold back anymoreI was done holding back

BPOV I rearranged the pillows on my sofa with shaky hands for the third time today. Edward was due at my apartment in less than fifteen minutes and I was a nervous wreck. Everything in my life felt like a mess, but my apartment was immaculate sparklingbecause I had cleaned everything twice in my antsy state, trying to get a hold of myself. The evening on the football field with Edward replayed over and over in my head all week long. That was the last time I had talked to him, and it still made my heart
- 308 -

skip when I thought of it. The soft ache of Edward's voicethe way his face felt next to minehis warm breath on my cheekand those lipsso closeyet so far away. I felt a flash of heat radiating along my skin and I shook my head trying to escape itI had wanted to reach out to himto run my fingers over his mouth and feel his lips on mineand when he whispered that he wanted to give me the worldI just meltedlostI couldn't fight him anymorebut he didn't keep tryinghe just kissed my nose and walked away. My eyes wandered over to the oval clock sitting on my desk, 6:48, it blinked. I walked over to my side table and picked up a small silver picture frame. It was a picture of Jacob and I, back at Penn State, in front of my dorm. I fingered it gently, wondering if I should put it away or leave it out. Leave it out I decided stubbornly, I wasn't going to go out of my way and try and make Edward comfortable here. The more uncomfortable he was, the sooner he would leave. I wiped the palms of my hands on my jeans nervously, looking down at myself I had to fight the urge to race to my bedroom and put on something nicer. I purposely chose jeans and a plain pink cami. Over that, I threw on a grey cardigan sweater. My goal was plainthe plainer the better. I wore no makeup and tossed my hair into a loose, messy bun on top of my head. I almost cringed looking in the mirror; I looked like I was 12. I wanted Edward to take one look at me and turn on his heels in the opposite direction. You're lying.a small voice in the back of my head whispered at meyou don't want him to leave. I frowned at my reflection, arguing with myselfhe isn't here for youhe's here to get back at your dad But that small voice kept fighting me backNo he's notand deep down inside you know ityou're just afraid The chimes of the doorbell jerked me away from my mirror, I whirled around in a fit of panic, but it was too late to change nowto do anything nowanything but open the door. He was leaning against the doorframe when I swung it open. He lifted his head up, those chocolate brown eyes twinkled as they washed over me, he chuckled softly, his dimples showing, as if he knew exactly what I had been trying to
- 309 -

accomplish. "You look" his eyes locked onto mine, "just beautiful" I fought with the butterflies that were fluttering wildly in my stomach. "You hungry?" he cocked his head to the side and lifted his hand to show me the large white bag he was carrying. I opened the door wider to let him in, knowing that my face was probably bright pink. Silently I cursed myselfI should've worn makeup to cover up all the blushing I was apparently going to be doing. I stood slightly behind Edward watching as he slowly entered my apartment. He placed the bag and a leather binder down absentmindedly on my foyer table as his gaze traveled across the room. His eyes swept across the fireplace, over the mantle and then onto my framed college diploma I had hanging on the far wall. His body turned slightly, his eyes falling to my desk. He walked silently until he reached it; his fingertips lingered on my laptop for a few seconds and then he reached out and plucked a book from its resting place near the corner. His hand ran down the spine and then he turned to look at me. "You still like to read?" He was smiling. Not a hundred percent sure of what he was doing I gave him what probably looked like a confused frightened nod. "We canwe can eat over here." I gestured with my hand over to the small round dining table that I hardly ever used. We both moved towards the table at the same time, hastily, I grabbed the bag of food and placed it down. His eyes moved up to my face and he smiled at me again, not being able to help it, I smiled shyly back. "Let me get some dishes." I turned away hating myself for feeling so foolish, like a schoolgirl again. "Need some help?" "I got it." I escaped to my kitchen and took in a deep breath. I fiddled with the plates and silverware, taking longer than I should have, trying to regain my
- 310 -

composure. I nearly jumped out of my skin when I turned to head back to the table only to see Edward standing by my pantry his eyes watching my every move. "Are you sure you don't want me" his voice was warm, his eyes searching mine; he took two steps forward, "to help you?" "It's okay." I managed to squeak out; I raised my hands to show him I already had everything, "all done." He let out a small chuckle at my voice and gestured with one hand for me to pass him. Back at the table I somehow managed to serve us both without making a complete fool of myself. While our initial conversation was awkward, Edward's familiar affectionate tone eventually put me at ease and soon we were talking with one another, falling into that casual carefree stance that had brought us so close, such a long time ago. "And since Alice forgot to book the hotel we lent up camping all night in front of the stadiumin the carjust us twofreezing our butts off." I smiled. Edward's short bark of laughter filled the room; his eyes were all lit up. He looked so animated and happy that it was contagious and I laughed along with him. "Sometime around 3am Alice decided she needed to use the restroom, of course there were none aroundshe almost cried." "I can't believe you went through all that trouble just to watch the Cowboys play." His eyes danced merrily. "I didyou should have seen Alice, she was so mad at me because I made her sleep in the car...and no place to relieve herself." I giggled, "But I would have done anything just to get to watch them play." "Did they win at least?" "They sure did." I put my fork down, "21 to 7, I still remember it. Romo threw for 353 yards and three touchdowns." Edward kept smiling at me; he had his chin propped up under his hand, his head
- 311 -

tilted to the side as he listened, his eyes fixed steadily on mine. He looked so handsome sitting across from me; I felt my heart skip a beat as my eyes rested on his. "This is nice." He said softly. And it was niceso very nice I could feel the heat begin creeping up my face. I pushed myself away from the table and stood, hoping my knees wouldn't give. "Thank you for dinner" I started hesitantly, looking everywhere but him, "But I have a lot of work to do" "Of course," he rose also, "So do I." "Whawhat?" I turned my head in surprise. "Well, we won't win the playoffs unless I study the plays right?" His eyes twinkled, causing my heart to beat a little faster. "You're going to study here?" My voice wavered. "I can't think of any other place I'd rather study at." I was afraid to move from the table. "Where do you usually do your work at?" his eyes moved past my dining room, sweeping over the living area. "On the floor," the words were out of me before I had a chance to think about it, "In front of the fireplace." His gaze lingered on the fireplace and when he turned to look at me his eyes held something deeper to them. "It looks like the perfect spot." he walked over to the flickering flames and peered into them, I turned and went over to my desk grabbing my clipboard and pen. When I reached him he was holding a picture in his hands. "Is this you?"
- 312 -

"Yes it is" I glanced at the wooden frame and then settled down comfortably on the floor, "That's me when I was 14, with my mother." "Your mother?" Edward put the picture down and went over to grab his playbook from my foyer table. He sat down across from me, his feet almost touching mine, but not quite. "Yes, I do have one of those," I joked halfheartedly, "I came across it just recently, from my old house, I thought I'd put it up here." "Your mother is beautiful," he said quietly, "I can see where you get your looks from, lord knows it isn't from your dad." I chuckled at his words, "Thank youI think." "What happened to your mother?" his playbook was resting on his lap, unopened. "One night when I was sixteen my mom left," I held my pen motionless in my hand, suddenly, I wanted to share with him everything that had been haunting me about my mother, "she was home one nightand gone the next. I never knew why she leftI thought she hated me and my dadI got a few letters from herbut I sent them backI was angry." Edward was watching me quietly, the orange glow of the fireplace made his eyes seem lighter than normal. "Now I wish I had opened thembecausethe letterstheythey stopped comingand I thought that she had given up on meforgotten mebut she hadn'tshe never stopped tryingshe had been writing to me all alongI found some old letters from her that my dad had hidden from me." I paused, unsure if I should be telling this to Edward, worried that it would be another thing he would try to use against me later. But his eyes never hardened, even at the mention of my dad. "I'm sorry," his voice was soft, "I didn't know" The soothing tone of Edward's words comforted me, "I just can't figure out why my dad never let her come back to see me..." I could feel my voice beginning to break, "why he was so awful to us" I looked desperately into Edward's eyes, "to all of us?"
- 313 -

EPOV My heart lurched at the sight in front of me. I wanted nothing more than to reach over and cradle Bella in my arms, to give her that love and support that her damn father could never give her. "Parents are just screwed up sometimes." I held her gaze; trying to take away some of the pain that I knew surrounded her. "Mine were just as bad as yours." I offered, "My father didn't talk to me for three years after I left for college, and even nowwe hardly say two words to each other." Bella's eyes widened at my words, empathy and compassion flickered across her face. I gave her a half shrug trying to let her know that it didn't bother me so much anymore, even though it did. "And my motherI know she triesbut she's so wrapped up in my father and her own lifeshe doesn't have time for me." My fingers made small circles on the leather cover of my playbook. "They still love you" Bella's voice was low, but sincere. "If they do" I answered, "They sure have a funny way of showing it." "No, they doyour momshe's so proud of youI saw it in her eyes, and heard it in her voice when she talked about you" Bella leaned a bit forward, that familiar determined spirit made her eyes glow. I stared her in wonder, still full of awe for all the things she was. Bella had been through hell and back, fuck, she was still going through hell thanks to that idiot she called her father, yet here she was trying to comfort me, trying to convince me, that my parents loved me. She looked down at her clipboard then, and gave out a small sigh. "I'm sorry" she kept staring down and shook her head, "I shouldn't have said anythingforget I said anything" "Reina?" Her head snapped up, her eyes full of sadness, "Let's just work Edwardplease?"
- 314 -

I remained silent and nodded, not wanting to push her any further. We sat there quietly for the next twenty minutes. Bella worked on her papers furiously, scribbling down line after line of whatever was crossing her mindmeI opened my playbookglanced down at the first playand then fixed my attention on Bellawatching her with a mixture of intense pride and curiosity. She was oblivious to my stare, the fire cast a heavenly glow around her face, a few loose strands of her hair came loose and she absentmindedly tucked them behind her ear. I smiled to myself, reminded of the look on her face as she opened the door. I knew the second I set eyes on her, exactly what she was trying to do, her face flushed and makeup free, her hair twisted back haphazardly on her head, her clothes casualshe was trying to downplay herselfmake herself look unattractivewhat she didn't realize was that no matter what she didshe still took my breath awaybecause all I saw was gorgeous, flawless, glowing skinwild black tendrils falling around her head, begging to be touchedand perfect feminine curves, being hugged by those tight jeans and fitted sweaterevery inch of her beckoned meand I was dying to give in. A little after nine my curiosity got the best of me, I had to know what she was writingas the minutes ticked by I kept finding it harder and harder to believe she was a professional football coach and not a school girl sitting across from me doing her homework. "What are you working on?" I asked quietly, studying her form. Instead of saying calculus or history like my brain half expected her to say, she said, "I'm working on the scripts from a film study I did this morningI'm trying to outline all the aspects of the Dolphinstrying to figure out the best way to attack themand how to defend against them." I kept watching her, captivated with the sparkle in her eyes and the way she sat up straighter, her voice strong and sure. "Our Wednesday practice is going to be devoted to first and second downs onlyThursday we'll concentrate on third downs and blitz'sFriday is short yardage, goal line, two minute, and red zone." "I hope Black knows how lucky he is" the words were out of my mouth before I even realized I said them. Bella looked up at me in surprise and then back down at her papers.
- 315 -

"Jacob and I arewellwere both lucky." "Are you?" I pressed, "Are you really lucky?" "Edward" her voiced faded away and she looked up at the ceiling struggling with herself, "You have to understandJacob was there for me every time I needed someonehe picked me up when I was downhe stood by mekept pushing me to keep chasing after my dreamhe's never stoppedhe's been the best friend I could ever ask for" "Is that why you're marrying him?" I carefully kept the sarcasm out of my voice. "Noand yes." She sighed, "There's more to it than that." "Do you love him?" I couldn't hold it back anymore. "Of course." "Are you in love with him?" I was holding my playbook in a death grip, afraid of her answer. She frowned at me, and tilted her head to the side sadly, she didn't answer my question. I shoved the playbook aside and moved closer to her, my knees resting on the floor next to her own. "Does he make you feel" my eyes burned into hers, "the way I used to make you feel?" Her mouth opened and a small sound, like a whimper, escaped her. I leaned forward on my hands, my face leveled to hers; I could feel her breath across my lips. "Do you let him touch you" I shifted my body closer to hers, "they way I touched you?" I tilted my head down, brushing my nose against her own, "Or make love to you" her breathing was more erratic now, "the way I made love to you?" I whispered achingly, those beautiful black eyes were completely locked onto mine; she didn't even blink, "because it would drive me crazy" I let my cheek graze against hers, "if you told me he touches youand it would destroy me..." I pulled my head back slowly, "if he's made love to you..." I didn't let her answerI didn't want to know her answer. All I wanted was to feel
- 316 -

her lips on mine, and I captured her mouth in the sweetest most alluring kiss I could give her. And she responded, for those first few seconds her mouth opened to mine. I slid my tongue along her lower lip and then moved to her upper lip. Her mouth felt so soft. She closed her eyes, tilting her chin up. I kissed her again and again, pulling back gently each time, until finally, my hand wrapped around the back of her head and I pressed her to me, deepening our kiss, letting my tongue mingle with hers. I knew at that second, that no matter what anybody did, or what anybody saidshe was still mineand I loved herwith my entire heartI loved her. My hand traveled down from the back of her head to her cheek, and then lower still, my fingers tracing along her neck. Her eyes flew open, and she picked up her hand placing it on my shoulder, "No Edward, don't," she pulled her head back, turning away from me, "Please don't." I stopped kissing her but kept my face right next to hers. "Sooner or later Reina, you're going to have to stop being afraid" I kept my voice low, "You're going to have to believe in usand you're going to have to let him go. It's not lostwhat we used to haveit's still hereit's always been here." She turned to look at me then, her chest rising and falling with every breath she took. "I always believed in youand I want to believe in us" her voice shook, "but there's so much hurtand so much pain" her voice trailed off. "And we'll get through it all" I promised softly, "but it won't happen if you keep fighting it." She looked down into her lap, and let her hand slide off my shoulder. "I don't know how" she whispered. I studied her silently, knowing that whatever inner battle she was fighting with, it was one she was going to have to overcome on her own. "But" She lifted her head, her eyes met mine, "I'm willing to try"
- 317 -

Her words sent relief coursing through me, and finally for the first time in six years, my heart felt like my own again. "I know it's hard," I leaned back and ran my hand through my hair, "and you need timeI'm willing to give you thatwe'll talk more Wednesday." Her eyes shot down quickly, and then back up to me, "UmmWednesdayI meant to talk to you about that" she gave me an apologetic look and I knew what was coming, I held up my hand, trying not to sound harsh. "You can't back out of it." She shook her head rapidly, "I'm not trying tohonestbut it's Alice's birthdaywe're all suppose to go out to dinnerI can't miss itcould we please just meet up there?" I could hear the pleading in her voice and the way those eyes were looking at me probably clouded my better judgment. "I guess that would be okay." "Thank you" the relief was apparent in her voice, "but I need to tell youJacob is going to be there" I frowned. She straightened up quickly and placed her hand on my arm, "I'm going to talk to himI promise you I ambut pleasenot before the playoffsand not on Alice's birthday." I stared at her trying to figure out if she really meant it, or if she was just trying to appease me. I could feel the battle wage inside of me, my brain warning me not to trust her, my heart begging me to believe her. I finally understood what her own conflict was all about; we had both spent so long hating each otherso long not trusting each otherand it had beentoo long. I nodded in agreement, and rose, picking up my playbook. I knew we both needed to think She walked with me over to her door but before she opened it, she turned to face me. The look in her eyes held a hard don't fucking argue with me look, "And Edwardon Wednesday" she placed one hand on her hipand I could see it therethe Bella I used to knowI pushed down the surprise at hearing that
- 318 -

familiar tone again, her eyes narrowed a bit, "bring your friend CharlotteI want to talk to her"

BPOV Alice was really skeptical about Edward and Charlotte coming to her birthday dinnershe was afraid her big day was going to be ruined. I kept promising her that nothing crazy was going to happen, but even I had my doubts. Jacob was deeply unhappyeven though we hadn't talkedeven though I was still wearing his ringhe already knewand it was clear as mud that he was not going to take this lightly. The restaurant Alice had chosen was beautiful, elegant, and perfectjust like her. It was only going to be us six, so I hoped that we would all manage to arrive, eat, and then leave, unscathed. The waiter looked extremely excited to have us all sitting at the same table. His eyes darted back and forth from Jacob to Edward as he took our drink order, and when he returned, he kept looking at his watch nervously, it made me slightly uneasy. I really really hoped that Jacob and Edward would manage, for a couple of hours, to put aside their angerand act like adults. I should have known the second Jacob ordered a whiskey sour that things were going to go downhill fast. "This is beautiful Bella! Thank you!" Alice was admiring the Prada bag I had gotten her for her birthday; her fingers stroked the leather affectionately. Jasper's eyes were on Alice, he was still every bit infatuated with her as he was back in high school, and it was cute to watch. Jacob sat stiffly by my side, his eyes darkhis drink held tightly in his hands. He didn't say a word. Edward was leaning back in his chair, his arms crossed. He watched with a disinterested frown as Alice ohhed and ahhhed over her new purse. Charlotte looked stricken, and incredibly uncomfortable, which made me secretly
- 319 -

glad. I had plans for her, later She had her hands clasped together tightly and her eyes darted from one person to the next. Alice began the whole thing over again when she opened Jasper's gift, which was a beautiful platinum and diamond heart Tiffany key. Jacob ordered another whiskeyEdward yawnedand Charlotte began fiddling with her napkin. It was almost comical, and I had to bite back this delirious bubble of maniacal laughter that threatened to burst out of me. By the time our food arrived Jacob had polished off four whiskeys and was working on his fifth. Alice shot me a worried look, but then smiled brightly trying to lighten the mood. "Bella Who are you going to root for if both the Warriors and the Cowboys make it to the Superbowl?" Jasper's laugh sounded like something from a cartoonCharlotte choked on her waterand Edward gave me a half hearted smile. Before I could answer Jacob sloppily placed his hand over mine. "Bella's a Warrior girll" Jacob turned and glared at Edward, we could barely understand him, he was slurring so bad, "She's loyal to her teammand to mee." Edward raised one eyebrow at him but remained silent. I tried to divert the conversation. "I'd be rooting for the Warriors of course," I smiled at Alice, "But I might have a pretty blue and silver star in my pocket." I winked at her. Edward chuckled at my words, which set Jacob off on another tirade "Do you rememmber Belllathe night before our veryy first game against the Cowboyssyou were so nervoussyou made me spspend the night at your apartment" Alice coughed loudlyEdward frowned and placed his hand heavily on the table making his fork clatter noisily against his plateJasper shoveled more of his food into his mouthCharlotte remained quiet. "Andd do you remember howw we celebrated when we wonn?" Jacob let out this evil laugh and downed the rest of his drink in one gulp.
- 320 -

I wanted to clasp my hand to my forehead and shake my headthis was getting ridiculous. I put my hand on Jacob's arm, trying to divert him. "Jacob" I shook my head slightly at him. He looked at my hand with glazed eyes and then smirked, he turned back to Edward, "Do youu know how she likess to celebrate, Cullen? What she likess to do after a victoryy?" "Jacob!" I said more sharply. I was getting annoyed. Edward's jaw was clenched and he was gripping his fork in a way that I didn't like. "Shee celebrated with mee a lot" he continued, ignoring me, "I wass the first one to take her to a professional football gameeI wass the first one to take her to buyy a carI wass the first one to take her to herr new apartment," he sneered, "What about youu Cullendid youu ever take anythingg" He was hardly making any sense now, I was pissed, I needed to get him out of hereI tugged at his sleeve trying to make him to look at me. Edward leaned forward hotly in his seat, his eyes shooting daggers at Jacob, "Yes, I took something" he snapped, "I took her virginity." I whipped my head around to face himAlice gaspedJasper snortedand Charlotte glaredat Edward. "Why you" Jacob rose wobbly and picked up his arm swinging wildly at Edward. Edward rose at the same time, his fist shot out hitting Jacob squarely in the eye. Jacob swung again and I tried to throw my arm out to stop him, Edward literally reached out and grabbed a hold onto Jacob's shirt, yanking him over and across the table. Jacob's hand flared crazily above him, and the buttons of his sleeve got stuck in my hair, pulling it out of the carefully placed pins I had been wearing. Flashes of light went off all around us as the men connected yet once again, and all I could hear were Alice's screams, and Jasper's shouts of encouragement to Edward. Jacob was still trying to hit Edward, and nearly hit Alice in the process. Edward took one last swing and all I could see was a blur of Jacob as he fell past me. We were surrounded by a throng of photographers all trying to take as many
- 321 -

pictures as they could. I looked around me wildly and then squatted down to check on Jacob; he was out cold on the floor. Alice was now screaming above me something like, "Oh my God! This can't be happening!" Jasper was arguing with a photographer, telling him to back off and whatnot. Charlotte looked like she was crying, but I didn't pay her much attention. Just then, Edward's strong arms were around me, pulling me up. I struggled in his grip, trying to get him to let go, but he wasn't looking at me, he was shouting at Jasper. "Whitlock! Get the girls out of here now!" He used his body to shield me from the photographers and at the same time to push me towards Jasper. Jasper instantly responded to Edward's request and he looped his arm through mine and he grabbed Alice's hand dragging us both out of the restaurant to his SUV. Charlotte seemed to have vanished as she wasn't in my line of vision at alland in that brief momentas I was being shoved into this oversized vehicle...being manhandled by Jasperand photographed by perfect strangersI was bummedbecause I hadn't used this insane opportunity to punch Charlotte's lights out Alice was breathing heavily in the backseat next to me; Jasper was driving like a maniac, shouting at the other drivers to get the hell out of his way. Alice's eyes met mine, her new purse was hanging crazily off one shoulder, her pretty Tiffany Key looped over one ear. We stared at each other in silence for a few seconds and then, both of us overcome with the hilarity of it all, burst out laughing. "Look at youuu!" I gasped between fits of giggles. "Me! Look at youuu!" Alice held her hand over her mouth as she tried to unsuccessfully to contain her laughter. "What about mee?" I looked down still laughing, checking my clothing. "Not there" Alice shook her head gleefully, "There." She pointed to my head. She rummaged through her bag and produced a small compact mirror.
- 322 -

I peered into it, my eyes widening at my reflection, and I burst into a new set of giggles. "Please tell me my hair did not look like that in the restaurant." I said with mock horror. Alice snorted and nodded. Jasper then made a deranged sharp turn right, sending me crashing into Alice, I could hear the horns of the other vehicles honking like crazy. "Alice" I tried to straighten myself up, "maybe we should go back for Jacob" Alice huffed and flung her head around, "That idiot got what he deserved for ruining my birthday" then her eyes got all animated, "Bella! I can't believe how Edward managed to stay so calm in the beginning...he was so awesomeI mean Jacob was rubbing it right in his facebut he didn't go all ape shit on himI would havehe was awesomeand then how he took controland everybody listenedhe was soso." "Awesome?" I giggled helpfully. Alice smirked at me and grabbed my hand, "Now I know why you could never say no to himthat man reeks of power" I chuckled loudly and leaned back onto the seat, one hand in Alice's grasp, the other holding onto to the door handle for balance, as Jasper careened through another red light, You're right AliceI thought to myselfEdward was absolutely awesome

Charlotte pushed her way past the double doors and down the large hallwayshe stopped when she reached number 142. She wasn't sure if this was the right place but she knew she had to try She tapped lightly on the door, straining her ear for sound coming from inside the apartment. Her pulse quickened rapidly when she heard the shuffling of feet, and finally, the door swung open. "What are you doing here?"

- 323 -

"You left this behind at the restaurant." She thrust her hand out and looked up into Jacob's piercing brown eyes. He looked down into her open hand; his cell phone lay neatly in her palm. "Thanks." He grabbed it from her hand and started to close the door. "Can Ican I talk to you for a minute?" Jacob's head throbbed painfully, all he wanted to do was go back inside his apartment and lie down in the dark. But Charlotte's voice was soft and full of sadness, and it somehow tugged at Jacob's heart. He wasn't sure if he should even bother with listening to anything she had to say thoughshe was one of Cullen's girlsand he had had enough of Cullen for one night. "Only if you can do it quick because I have a nasty headache." He walked away from the door not bothering to welcome her in. Charlotte closed the door softly behind her and followed Jacob quietly to his huge oversized sofa he had in his living area. The room was dark, the blinds on his windows were shut tightly. Jacob sunk down onto the sofa and grabbed his ice pack that he had left lying on the arm rest, he leaned his head back against the sofa and placed the ice pack over his swollen eye. "Go ahead and talk." He muttered. Charlotte sat timidly next to him, not really sure where to start. "I think" she began, "you and mewe're really alike you know." "I don't think so" Jacob kept his eyes closed; suddenly wishing he hadn't let her in. "Yeswe arewe're both in love with people who don't love us back." Her voice was more firm, and she drew a quick breath before she continued. "I watched you tonightyouJacob Blackand you know what I sawI saw a wildly successfulincredibly intelligentdrop dead gorgeous man pinning after a girl who doesn't want youand it just about killed mebecause you want to know what else I saw"
- 324 -

Jacob opened his eyes and raised his head slightly; he finally took a good hard look at the beautiful blonde woman sitting across from him. He searched her eyes carefullytrying to see what she was getting at. "I saw myselfwhat I must be looking liketo everyonefor six long years" her eyes filled with tears and she stared almost longingly into Jacob's eyes. Jacob gave out a tiny grunt, "Well then welcome to the clubI would offer you a drink but I can't get the fuck up off this sofa anymore without throwing up." Charlotte placed her hand on his knee and laughed. Amazingly Jacob felt a sudden jolt shooting up his back at her touch and the sweet sound of her voice. "What's your name again?" he asked sitting straight up and absentmindedly pushing the ice pack off the sofa, it fell to the floor with soft thump. "CharlotteCharlotte Peters." She gave him a sparkling smile and held out her hand, "It's an honor to meet the head coach of the Warriors." Jacob placed his hand in hers, her skin was incredibly soft, he closed his fingers around her hand and looked up into her radiant blue eyes, "Charlottewhat a pretty name."

EPOV "Edward Cullen! What the fuck just happened! My phone is ringing off the hookthere's media camped outside my placethe playoffs are this Saturdaythis Saturday! What the hell did you do?" I finally burst out laughing at the panicked tone of Allen's voice and chaos that was sure going to begin tomorrow. "Allendo you agree that I pay you very well?" I asked, knowing full well my laughter could be heard through my voice. "Yes, shit, why?" "Because for the next three days this mess is all yoursI've got to go see BellaI'll talk to you laterokaybye." And I hung up on him

- 325 -

We're heading for the home stretch now everyone! Hope I made you giggle a little bit... :) Anyone want to review today?

______________________________________________________________________________________ __________

- 326 -

Chapter 26
We meet again! Hope you all have been well. Our ride isn't finished yet folks. Enjoy! Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight. I own all the football knowledge. :)

BPOV Black and Cullen Settling Their Differences The big black headline mocked me from the Sports section. I winced and turned away trying to avoid looking at the newspaper, and failing miserably. Underneath the caption was a huge blown up picture of Jacob and Edward exchanging punches. Both men looked furious at each other. I switched on the TV hoping it would distract me from the impending doom I knew lay ahead. I had left the channel on ESPN the night before so I was immediately bombarded with more sports coverage. "And in additional entertaining sports news" Chris Berman's smiling face came on over the screen, "Looks like Edward Cullen, quarterback for the Warriors, is as talented off the field as well as onhe was spotted last night at Traxx Restaurant in downtown Los Angeles dining with Coach's Jacob Black, Isabella Swan, and friendsrumors have been surfacing that Cullen and Swan have been getting more than a little friendly with each other latelyand when punches began to flywell, one can only guess why" I was instantly mortified when there splashed across the screen were pictures of Alice's birthday brawl. In one of them you could easily see Edward's fist connecting with Jacob's face. I was trying to get in the middle of them, my arm flaring out. Dishes were flying crazily over the table. I had an expression of horror on my face and my hair was sticking straight up in this insane mad scientist look. Chris Fowler, the other ESPN announcer, chuckled loudly in the background, "Well if you put your money on Cullenyou wonbut gorgeous Swan didn't stick around long enough to congratulate the winnershe hightailed it out of there along
- 327 -

with her coworker and friend Alice Whitlock" "Probably to the hair salon" both men snickered. "Should make for an interesting playoff game on Saturday" Berman raised his eyebrows. "My guess is more people are going to be tuning in to watch the action on the sidelines not on the football field." Their laughter filled the room and I hit the off button on my remote in despair. How on earth was I going to hold my head up at practice today? I walked over to my side table and picked up the phone. I was awash with guilt and had to call Jacob to see how he was doing. After last night's events I hoped he had made it home safely and didn't have a huge hangover today. "Hello?" A woman's sleepy voice answered, taking me by surprise. I frowned into the phone. "Oh, I'm sorryI must have the wrong numberI'm looking for Jacob Black" "Nothis is ithold onI'll get him" Her voice sounded vaguely familiarI could feel the room begin to spin. "Wawaitwho is this?" "I'm Charlottebut you're looking for Jacob right? Here he is" "Hello?" Jacob's voice sounded as if he had just woken up. "Jacob?" I asked hesitantly. "Yeah? Who's this?" he mumbled. "This is Bellaare you in bed? With Charlotte?" My voice was tingeing on delirium.
- 328 -

"Bella! Oh my Godhold on." I blinked blankly at the wall in front of mewhat the heck was going on? "Jerk." I whispered. SlowlycarefullyI placed the phone back on its cradle. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. I didn't think I could handle hearing anything Jacob had to say to me right now. The phone began ringing immediately, I stared at it numbly. Just then my doorbell rang, causing me to jump a little. I ignored the phone and headed to my front door. I was still in shockshock at hearing Charlotte's voice answer Jacob's phone. Wondering how she ended up at his place. But most of all, I was in shock at the fact that I wasn't even the remotest bit jealous or madat least not like I should be I swung my door open still preoccupied with my thoughts. At first the only thing I saw were flowerslots and lots of flowerspink roses, white carnations, big yellow lilies, and purple iris's all bundled up in this huge bouquetthe flowers moved down out of the doorway and there stood Edward with a sheepish look on his face. My eyes widened, I had to laughthen I put on this stern face. "You!" I pointed to him, "Get in here!" He raised his eyebrows at me, a small smile playing at his lips. He thrust the flowers out to me as he stepped inside my apartment. "How are you this morning?" I chuckled sarcastically at his question, placing my hands on my hips, "I'm pretty sure I am living in an alternative universethanks to you" I took the flowers from his outstretched hands and headed for my kitchen to find a vase for them. Edward chuckled softly, following me, pretending to wince at my words, "I know" "Just months ago I was living a nice quiet lifea dignified lifeI went out to restaurants and ate peaceful dinnersnow I go to restaurants and get into brawls!" I placed the vase down on my dining table and spun around to look at him.
- 329 -

"I know" Edward said again, pressing his lips together to keep from laughing. "My picture is plastered all over the newspaper and all over television! Did you watch ESPN this morning? Did you see my hair? They are making fun of me!" I stalked back over to my living area, frowning at my bookcase, throwing up my hands, and turning around to face him. Edward took a step closer to me, his shoulders shaking slightly with mirth. "I have to go to practice today and face everybodywhat are the other coaches going to think! My world has gone completely crazy! And Jacobyesterday I was so concerned about him passed out on the floor, but right now, if I had known, I would have stomped on him with both feet!" Edward's laughter echoed throughout my apartment, he reached for me and slid his hands around my waist. "Why would you do that?" his eyes danced happily over my own. I finally laughed with him, letting my hand rest on his arm, "Why! Because I called him this morning and caught him in bedwith your friendwith Charlotte!" "What? Charlotte? Really? I thought she would have better taste than that" Edward snickered, and I hit his arm in mock offense. "What did you do?" Edward laughed, tightening his arms around me. "I hung up on himafter I called him a jerk!" "Good girl" he chuckled again, "You have to get even" I laughed against him, "I can't...I don't have anybody to get into bed with" my voice trailed off as I realized what I had just said out loud. I was suddenly aware of Edward's strong grip around my waist, and the proximity of his body to mine. "Yes you do" a mischievous smiled played at his lips, his hands flexed at my side, "you can get into bed with me." "Um" I tried to back away, extract myself from his arms, I looked around nervously, "I don't think that's a good idea."
- 330 -

"Why not?" his smile remained but I could tell he was serious. His head tilted down so that his face was only inches away from mine. He let me take small steps backwards, but he moved with me, I was so flustered that I didn't even realize what was happening until I was backed up against my bookcase with nowhere else to go. My palms were pressed flat behind me, I kept trying to joke, "Getting even isn't all that's it's cracked up to be" "I think it is" his mouth brushed against mine ever so lightly and his right hand moved from my waist and ran slowly up my back. "EdEdward" I began timidly, not really sure of what I was going to say. "Yes Reina?" his voice was already low and husky, and his hand had found its way into my hair, entwining his fingers through my curls, he let out a soft groan. "I'm not sureI don't think we should" but I had already lost my train of thought, the only thing I wanted to do was sink my hands into that dazzling messy hair and pull him to me. I reached up with both hands, sliding them up behind his neck and then higher still, until my fingers were wrapped securely in his locks. I stood up on my tiptoes to reach him and when I did, my nose bumped against his. He wasted no time, tilting his head to the side and moving his mouth persuasively over mine. I pulled him closer to me, running my fingers through his hair. His mouth opened and I whimpered against him when his tongue darted out to touch my own. He thrust his tongue over and over into my mouth, sliding it hotly over mine; one of his hands tightened into my hair, the other went solidly around my waist. He groaned loudly and pulled my body roughly towards him, I could feel his erection swelling through his jeans, rubbing and burning into my hip. He slid his hand down from my waist and hooked his hand underneath my thigh bringing my leg up around him, pushing his body between my legs, bracing me up against my bookcase, letting me feel him, all of him I moaned, my hands sliding down from his hair onto his shoulders. My fingers dug into those broad shoulders with such urgency, and I kissed him harder, pulling on his lower lip, trying to let him know what he was doing to me. "Reina" he groaned against my mouth, "tell me what you want babybecause I know what I want"
- 331 -

His words filtered through my brain making me catch my breath, and I blinked at him. Suddenly I needed to know exactly what he did wantfrom menot just right nowbut forever. "Edward" I didn't move my mouth away from his, but I brought my hand over from his shoulder and placed it gently on his chest, "What do you want?" My breathing was rapid, and I'm sure if he looked hard enough he would have been able to see the fear in my eyeshis own eyes opened slightly, they were dark and hooded as he looked at me. "You" he mumbled against my lips, trying to kiss me again, his hand tightened around my thigh, "I want you." "And when you have me" my voice trembled a bit, "Then what? Game over?" He frozestopping in mid-kiss to really open his eyes and look at me. His hand slowly released my thigh and slid back to my waist. He tilted his head to the side, his eyes washing over my face in worry, as if he really wasn't sure what I was getting at. "This isn't a game" He took a step back and ran his hand through his hair, frowning slightly, he moved close to me again and took my face in his hands, "I know that's what it might look likeI'm sorrybut for methis is real." I tried to shake my head at him, "And when you get tired of me" I whispered, finding it hard to believe that he would ever be satisfied with just me, giving in to all my fears that had been surrounding me since I first set eyes on him again. "Tired of you?" he blinked at me in disbelief, "Wha" he shook his head, lowering his hands, "What are you talking about?" "Look" I started nervously, pulling my hands away from him and rubbing my palms against my jeans in apprehension, "once those six dates are overyou're going to move onI mean, I know that alreadyyou're used to glamorous sexy womenmovie stars" I added offhandedly with a wave of my hand. He just stood there frozen in place staring at me. I looked around the room awkwardly and bit down on my lower lip thinking that I must be right since he had nothing to say to me. "It's okay" I shrugged, "I understandthis is just to get back at my dadonce it's over you can go back to dating all those other women" I slowly slid along the
- 332 -

bookcase trying to find my way around him, but he wouldn't move, in fact, he was starting to look really angry. "I can't compete with themand you've been with dozens of themMegan Fox Vanessa Hudgensprobably slept with all of them" my voice trailed off and I avoided looking at Edward's face, I didn't want to have to look into those eyes when he confirmed my worst fears. "Bella" Edward's voice was dangerously low and pensive, he stepped closer to me, one hand closed around my lower arm, the other, under my chin, forcing me to look up at him, "Whatthefuckare you talking aboutI don't know what the hell you are sayingthere are no other womenthose girlsthose movie starsthey were not datesthey were publicity stunts put together by my agent" I just blinked at himfighting with my fears of inadequacy and at the same time struggling with relief because of his words. "Thisis not to get back at your dadI know that's what you thinkand I let you believe thatbut it's notand I assure you I have not slept with dozens of women" his eyes burned into mine, he was dead serious, "I haven't slept with anyone ReinaI haven't slept with anyonebut you." "Not even Charlotte?" I whispered, my heart pounding at his words, at the way he was saying them. "Charlotte?" he grimaced, "Nonever." His hand left my chin and slid up my arm. He pulled me to him, "It's only been you it's always been just you" he buried his head in the crook of my neck and I could feel his lips brush across my collarbone. I slid my arms around him and clutched him close to me, unable to believe that finally, after all these years; fate might actually be nice to me for once. "What about you" his voice was low and thick, he didn't move away from my neck, almost as if he were hiding there, "did yousleep with anyone? With Black?" I felt like laughing hysterically at his questionhow could he even consider the possibility of me sleeping with anyonemepainfully shy mewho was afraid to even kiss a manhis body stiffened slightly when I didn't answer him right away. "There was this one guy" I began softly. I could feel Edward's fingers digging
- 333 -

into my back, "He used to be the quarterbackfor theRaiders..." Edward's breath hitched and he tried to pull his head back but I held onto him tightlynot letting him move. "His stance was always perfecthe's perfect" I whispered into his ear, "And his throwing armso impressivehe plays just amazing" I turned my face into him, letting my cheek rest against his. "He's the quarterback for the Warriors nowand I'm pretty sure he's going to win the playoffsso himyeahhe's been the only one I've slept withhe's always been the only one" Slowly I let him go and he pulled back from me, he leaned his forehead to mine, those mesmerizing beautiful chocolate brown eyes just gleamed at me. His arms tightened around my waist, his palms spread out against my back. I could feel his breath on my lips, and the way his chest rose and fell told me that his heart was beating just as hard and rapid as my own. His hand moved up near my face, and with his finger, he traced along the outline of my eyebrow and down my cheek. He held me quietly for the longest time, his eyes locked onto mine, and we knewwe both knewthat we had waited six long years for this day. And when he kissed me for the second time that day, it wasn't a kiss of hurried urgencyor unknown passionit was a kiss of absolute certaintyof a promised futureand all that it could bring. His mouth felt incredibly soft and moved ever so gently over mine. His lips traveled from my mouth to my cheek and jaw, trailing down my neck and then back up again at this slow wonderful pace. I could feel his hands stroking my hair, brushing it away from my face and sliding down the back of my head over and over again as if he could never get enough of feeling itof feeling me There was still more to be saidmore we needed to discussbut for the time being, standing there in my apartment, next to my bookcaseour arms wrapped around each otherour hearts finally finding their way home againall was perfect in my world. The sharp chime of Edward's cell phone interrupted us; Edward gave out a small grunt and ignored it. It stopped ringing after a few seconds but not even a minute later it began chiming again. Edward sighed and pulled it out of his back pocket. He glanced down at it in annoyance and started to put it away, but then did a double
- 334 -

take at it. "Excuse me." He apologized to me. He flipped open the phone and brought it to his ear. "What is it Allen?" His voice clearly upset at being interrupted. "What? Say that again?" his head tilted slightly and I could see his eyes get round with worry. I could sense something was not right. He kept talking, his voice growing rougher and harsher after every pause. "I don't give a fuck how it's going to make me lookDo you know what this is going to do to her?" His eyes washed over me and I knew that whatever was happening it had to do with both of us.

EPOV "Edward, you need to get over here right now" the tone of Allen's voice was serious. To serious. "What's wrong?" I asked glancing over at Bella who was watching me with wide eyes. "The media is diggingthey're finding outif they haven't alreadyeverything your pastBella's pastthe babysome of your old high school classmates are talkingabout rumors that Bella was pregnant with your child back thenand that you left herEntertainment Tonight is already doing a story on itthey called me earlier trying to get me to talk" "Fuck." I whispered, Bella's hand clutched the bookcase behind her tightly, she didn't move her eyes off me. "It's going to make you look like a real dick." "I don't give a fuck how it's going to make me lookDo you know what this is going to do to her?" "I knowIt's really going to hurt her careershe plays with the big boys Edward,
- 335 -

I know thatthe NFL isn't going to take this lightlythey're going to eat her alive for looking so foolishthey're going to use this against her because she is a woman." "She's worked too hard to get where she is without some idiots, who don't know the real fucking story, trying to drag her down." "I know Edwardyou don't have to tell me that." "We need to stop it Allenfrom getting out." "I don't know if that's possibleI thinkit's too lateI have a feeling Mack Brown is going to breakI think he's going to talkever since the press conference everyone has been watching the Texas Longhorns with bated breathjust waiting for him to trip upBrown is under pressure and he knows it" "Are you sure? Maybe that's not such a bad thing" "As long as Charlie Swan is calling the shotsit's not going to be in your favor." "Shit." "You better warn her." "I willI'll meet you in an hour." I looked over at Bella, her eyes masked with worry, her hair in wild waves around her shoulders, still tousled from my fingers earlier. I didn't want to have to tell her all this now, not now when we had finally been able to break through so many barriers and I was so fucking glad that she was trusting me again. But it was still fragilewhat we had managed to overcome this morningand I was afraid that the slightest thing could still tear us apart. "What's wrong?" Bella took a step towards me, pushing herself away from the bookcase. I sighed and said a silent prayer that however this thing played out in the media, we would still be able to stand together and see it through the end. "It was Allenhe told me that the mediathe pressthey're finding out the truthabout us. They've already started diggingthey know we went to high school
- 336 -

together. They've found people we went to school withthey are getting them to talkIt's basically only a matter of time before they find out you got pregnantwith my child." Bella's eyes grew wide and she sucked in her breath rapidly, bringing her hand to her mouth. "They're going to spin this in the worst possible wayjust to make it more excitingI'm going to be the jerk that left you behindand you're going to be" I paused, not wanting to actually contemplate the idea of what the media was going to do to Bella. "And I'm going to be the poor, feeble, stupid girl who let herself get pregnant" she shook her head and looked up at the ceiling, "I can just see it nowafter all these yearsdespite everything I've doneeverything I've accomplishedall the NFL is going to see is that I'm a powerless weak woman for letting a guy take advantage of meand it will just get worse when they realize that I'm taking you backand they're going to wonder if I'm still capable of doing my job" I watched her silently, knowing that she was probably right. "I'm going to lose everythingeverything" she threw her hands up and laughed scornfully. I stood there unsure, worried, at how this was going to affect her...affect us. "My dad sure knew what he was doing all those years ago didn't he?" Her eyes narrowed, " Almost like he could see the futurelet me screw up my daughter's life nowso that I can keep screwing it up whenever the hell I feel like it later" Bella was angryI mean really fucking angryI had never seen her this angry before. "Well you know what Edward" she looked around her wildly and then stalked over to her recliner and snatched up a large red purse that had been resting there, "I think it's time to have a little talk with my dad. I have been the sweet, nice, obedient daughter long enoughthis is going to end now!" She stopped right in front of me, her eyes flashing with animosity, "And I imagine that you might have a few things to tell him yourself tooso do you want to drive? Or should I?"
- 337 -

My eyes widened in surpriseI had to stop myself from laughing out loudthis womanthis gorgeous, smart, fierce woman was not going to back downshe wasn't going to hideshe was going to fight backfight back for mewith me So I just grabbed herright therein the middle of her living roomwith her mad as helland kissed her, shoving my hands into her hair and holding her against me. Telling myself over and over what my heart always knewI loved her. She relaxed, her body molded to mine and she kissed me back, closing her eyes. She was warm and soft and sweet, and I wished for a minute that none of this shit had gone down so that I could have taken her to bed and shown her how much I loved her. She ran her left hand up through my hair and a small flash caught my eye, it was her engagement ring. I pulled back slightly and lowered my head so that my eyes were level to hers. "When are you going to get rid of that thing?" I raised my eyebrows and gestured to her hand with my head. She looked at me questionably, and then looked at her hand, taking a second to figure out what I was talking about. She spread out her fingers in front of her face, inspecting her ring, and looking back up at me, tilting her head to the side. I grinned at her, trying to lighten her mood. "Because it's as ugly as hell." Her body jerked with a stifled laugh and I could see her bite down on her lip to keep from laughing. "It's a heirloom" she stuttered, "it's timelessclassic" "It's ugly." She slumped against me laughing, "Yesyes it isI knownow come on." She headed for her front door, pausing by her foyer table; she turned slightly and slipped the ring off her finger tossing it into a small glass bowl, she smiled at me and then grabbed the door handle and swung it open, gesturing at me to follow her out.
- 338 -

The hospital room was smaller than I imagined it to be. Bella walked in with strong, purposeful strides, tossing her bag down onto a metal chair that was squeezed into a tiny corner. Charlie Swan did not look so dangerous or formidable at all, lying in his hospital bed. In fact he looked like a sick little old man in his hospital gown, his head resting on his pillow, his hands folded in front of him. A small machine stood by his bedside beeping quietly, taking measure of his heart rate. He looked surprised as hell to see Bella walk into the room, but the look on his face when he laid eyes on me didn't let me forget what kind of man lived inside that shell. "What the fuck are you doing here?" he glared at me and then turned to Bella, "Get him out of here." Bella ignored him and walked up to the side of his bed. Her eyes washed over him and her hand gripped the bed rail. Despite how angry she was I could tell she was worried about himand it tore at mebecause no matter whathe was her fatherand she loved himjust like I loved my parentseven though they were lousy. She lowered her head down and spoke in clear, emotionless words. "Do you love me? I am your daughter, do you love me?" "WhaWhat the hell are you talking about? What kind of question is that?" "Just tell medo you love me? Have you ever loved me?" "Of course I do!" he looked wildly around him and then rested his eyes on me, "What have you been telling her?" "Never mind him" she warned moving her head, blocking his view of me, "look at melisten carefullyif you love meat allyou have to tell the truthyou have to tell them what you didthe newspapers, televisionthey all know what happened to me when I was a teenagerit's going to be all over the streets probably by the end of the dayFerrel isn't going to like itthe commissioner isn't going to like itit's going to hurt the Warriorsit's going to hurt Edwardand it's going to hurt meI'm asking you right nowright hereto tell them the truth."
- 339 -

Charlie shook his head furiously at her, "I don't know what the hell you are talking about," he growled, "Tell them what? I didn't do anything." "Just tell them!" Bella cried out loudly, banging her hand down on the bed rail, "For once! Just tell the truth! Don't you even know the truth anymore? Tell them how you got your idiot friends to recruit Edwardto take him away from meyou would think that would be enough no? Of course not! You had to take it furtheryou had to drug himhave Mack Brown take pictures of himand then lie! Lie to both of us! Why did you do that! Why did you make me think that he was cheating on me? Do you know what that did to me! I lost my baby because of you!" Her breathing was erratic and silent tears were falling down her face, I wanted to go up next to her and hold her, but I knew she needed to do this on her own. Charlie just laid there frozen in shock, his eyes following her words in fury and disbelief. His hands gripped his blanket so hard I was sure he was going to rip it in half. "And then you told him I had an abortion! An abortion! How could you do that! And your little plan workedI hated Edwardthat's what you wanted right? For me to hate himwell I didfor six years I hated him!" Charlie was shaking his head no, his mouth was open but he wasn't talking. Bella stopped then and took in a huge breath, she calmed down a bit, but her eyes never wavered from her father's face. "You never imagined I would find out the truth, did you? You thought nobody would find out. But I didand now, so is everyone elseand everything I've worked so hard forI'm going to lose itall of itbecause of you." "They're not going to care! They're not going to fucking care! The NFL isn't going to care that some idiot got you pregnant and then cheated on you when you were eighteen!" Charlie exploded waving his hand in front of his face. "Oh yes they are!" Bella fought back, "because I am a womandoing a man's joband no matter how good I am at it, all they are going to see is that I was weak weak and dumb because I'm taking back a man who got me pregnant and then dumped meand if I was weak thenthey are going to think I am weak nowand in no way able to handle my jobworking with fifty two men!" "What!" Charlie's eyes flashed angrily back and forth between me and Bella. He threw back his blankets and tried to sit up. The small machine next to him was beeping like crazy. "You're taking him back!"
- 340 -

He didn't seem to care about anything else she had said except that she was going to be with me. "Why?" he turned to look at her, his voice shaking in anger, "After what he did to you" Bella's eyes grew wide at his words, her shoulders sagged slightly. "You're never going to admit it, are you?" She pointed at me; "He didn't do anything to me" she turned back to her father, "You did." "I didn't do anything dammit!" She turned to look at me, her eyes filled with tears; she shook her head at me. She was done, tired, she didn't want to be here any longer. "Isabella" he spat out, he was glaring at her, "If you walk out of here with him don't bother coming back!" Bella walked over to the foot of his hospital bed, she paused, her hand lingering over the covers by his feet. "Why do I have to choose dad?" I could barely hear her, she spoke so soft. "Why couldn't I have him and you? Why can't I love you both? What's so wrong about that?" Her voice broke and she brushed past me holding back a sob, she grabbed her bag as she flew out the door. I watched her leave and then turned to Charlie. I wanted to beat the shit out of him and ask him what his fucking problem was with me, but I didn'tinstead I said "I'll never understand whybut she loves you." Charlie wouldn't look at me, he just grunted, staring out the window. "And even though you're probably too fucked up to ever see ityour daughter is brilliant, talented, and determined as hell to succeed." His eyes landed on me then, they narrowed, his hand clutched the bed rail tightly.
- 341 -

I took a step toward him and leaned down slightly, making sure he was looking right at me. "And I love herif you don't stand up for herI willthere is no fucking way I am going to let you hurt her ever againI don't care what your fucking problem isI don't care what you think about mebut you aren't going to hurt hershe isn't going to lose anythingbut youyou are going to lose everythingI promise you that." His gaze never wavered, and for a second I thought he was going to say something, but he didn't. I left him there, lying in his bed, and walked out of the room. I glanced around quickly down the hallway trying to guess which way Bella might have gone when a woman, who had been sitting in a small bench along the hallway, stood up, right in front of me. "Are you Edward Cullen?" she asked. I nodded once and immediately looked past her, not interested in carrying a conversation with a fan or anyone else for that matter. The woman moved rapidly out of my way as if she understood that I was in a hurry. "I saw you on television," she said quickly, "Isabellashe went that way," she pointed down the hall, "Tell her not to give upshe's very lucky to have you." My eyes shot down quickly to her face...at her words, but she had already turned and was walking down the hall in the opposite direction. I dismissed her in my haste to find Bella. Once I turned the corner I spotted her sitting in the far end of the hall, her head buried in her hands. My mind starting spinning thenCharlie Swan wasn't going to breakthere was no way in hell I was going to let Bella take the fall for thisthat left me with only one other personMack Brown. I took my phone out and searched my contacts list. "Seth Clearwater's office, how may I help you?" "Ms. Chase, this is Edward Cullen, I need to speak to Seth right away please."
- 342 -

"Of course Mr. Cullen, let me transfer you." Seth's voice was animated when he answered. "Edward, how are you? How are those dates coming along with your pretty young woman?" "Seth," I didn't even bother answering him, "Do you remember what I had you dig up on Mack Brown?" "Uhyeah sureI have it here in your file, why?" "I'm going to need itand I'm going to need you to make a phone call to Mack Brown." "Are you sure? I thought you weren't go to go down that route?" "I've changed my mind." "Okay, no problem. I'll take care of it." "Thanks. It needs to get done today." "Today? What's the rush?" "Have you seen the news yet?" "No why?" "Listen to it carefully, when they start talking about sportsfootballthen you'll know why." "Edwardis there something I should know?" "Yes," I muttered, Bella had looked up and saw me talking. I started towards her, "Just know that when all this shit gets out, Charlie Swan is behind the whole thing."

Charlie Swan was still furious fifteen minutes later, he was furious that Bella had walked out on him, he was furious that Cullen had the balls to stand up to him, and he was especially furious that this damn heart rate machine was still beeping like
- 343 -

crazy. He pushed it away angrily, wishing it would shut up. He stuck his hand down underneath the hospital bed searching. Those dimwit nurses thought they could get him to stop watching TV by hiding the remote under the bed, but he had found it easily, and had been watching TV secretly with the volume low for days now, despite his doctor's orders. He jabbed his thumb on the small black buttons with more force than needed. The television sprang to life and he hit the channel up button repeatedly until the screen fell on FOX Sports. Almost immediately the reporters began talking about Edward Cullen and Bella Swan. His eyes widened as the screen displayed pictures of Cullen and Jacob Black in some kind of fistfight at a restaurant. How long had Bella been seeing Cullen? He thought to himself. How long had she known the truth? The whole truth? "It's come to light that Isabella Swan might not be the secret weapon the Warriors want after all" the journalist droned on and on. "Really?" another asked, "Why not?" "Looks like she's not as formidable as they thoughtshe was easily manipulated by Edward Cullen when she was eighteenand now at twenty four she's not really the wiser" "What are the Warriors saying about that?" "Nothing yetbut I imagine they are going to let her go once the season is over. This is really going to put a strain on the playoffs this Saturday..." Charlie groaned and leaned his head back into his pillow. Bella had been rightthey were going to rip her to shreds over thisand it was all Cullen's faultif he had just stayed away Sharp, quick, footsteps coming down the hall made him jerk upright and scramble to turn of the television before the nurses walked in and caught him. He was so busy shoving the remote under his covers he didn't even look up when the footsteps entered his room. "Well well wellit looks like Charlie Swan hasn't changed one bit"
- 344 -

Charlie's head jerked around in surprise at the familiar voicea voice that had haunted him for eight years. His eyes washed over the figure in front on him, she was just as beautiful as he remembered her. Silky, wavy brown hair that fell across her shoulders, perfect petite figure with curves in all the right places, and those eyesgorgeous, sparkling, black eyeswhat had attracted him to her twenty six years ago. "What are you doing here?" he hardly recognized his own voice, it shook so badly. She walked over to his bedside and plopped herself right down on his bed, right next to him. She was so close that he could smell her familiar flowery scent, her pretty manicured hands rested in front of her, and she tilted her head to the side and looked right into his eyes. "I think it's time you and I had a little talkYou managed to drive me away eight years agoand I let youbut you're doing it againonly this time to your daughterour daughterand I won't let this happen to herI can't let this happen to her" Charlie stared at her trying not to become mesmerized by her voice all over again. "You don't know what you're talking about Renee." He answered gruffly, he was more in control of his voice nowthe shock was wearing offand he rememberedremembered everything that she had done to himand his vow, that he had made to himselfshe wasn't going to hurt him again

Anyone want to take a stab at what might happen next? :) Your reviews are like little bursts of sunshine in my email box. :) Hope to see you sooner than later!

- 345 -

Chapter 27
Hey! It's good to be back! Sorry I took so long, but your reward for waiting patiently is somewhere down below...wink... Song of the day She's Everything by Brad Paisley Enjoy! Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight. I own all the football knowledge.

You can give 110% all you want, praise the Lord for the successful completion of a fade route and use the word "defense" as a verb, but the only clich in football that matters because it's actually true is that you can't win without a good quarterback. Especially in the playoffs "Get out of here Renee. I have nothing to say to you." Renee looked over at Charlie sitting up in his hospital bed, he looked fragile and broken, and she wondered if it was too late to try and make him understand. But she had come all this wayand her daughterher beautiful, gifted daughterneeded her, she would not turn her back on her nowshe had done that eight years agoshe wouldn't do it again. "Charlie" Renee placed her hand on top of the blankets near Charlie's knees, "You might have nothing to say to mebut there are some things I need to say to you. I've been sitting outside this hospital room for three days now, and it's time we talked." Charlie could feel the pressure of Renee's hand on his leg; his heart began pounding, making him all the more furious at himself. He wouldn't look at her, and fixed his eyes on the heart rate machine next to him. It was still beeping like crazy and he hoped Renee wouldn't figure out why. "Go back to Floridato Phil! That's why you left in the first place! Isn't it!" Charlie spat out. Renee let out a wry laugh that was a cross between amusement and despondencyshe wasn't sure whywhy Charlie still though she was with Phil.
- 346 -

"No CharlieThat's not why I leftPhilPhil was the catalyst in why our relationship ended, but not the reason, the reason was a buildup of 19 years of inadequacy that I feltabout myself." Charlie turned his head sharply and stared into the pools of her dark eyes, his hand tightened around the rail of his bed, while his first instinct was to tell her he didn't believe a fucking word she said, his gut was telling him that she spoke the truththe whole truth. "And I'll tell you whybut first you have to agreethat I have nothing to lose by telling you the truthI've already lost everythingso there is no reason for me to lieis there?" Charlie grunted in response, his eyes flickering over hers, she was rightshe had nothing to lose being here today, and he nodded slightly. "Do you remember?" Renee's voice was soft; her eyes held nothing but kindnessand sentimentsentiment of a love lost"When we first met in Texas? We were in collegeyou were the big shot quarterback for the Longhorns and I was" she let out a small laugh, "I wasnotquite that popularand I couldn't believe that you would ever be interested in methe klutzy, bookworm girlbut somehow you were. And when you asked me outand we started datingall I could think of was how incredibly lucky I wasand fear, that one day you would get tired of me, and all those wonderful days I spent with you would just be memoriesI always knew that your jock friends told you to get rid of meI didn't fit in with your crowd." Unknowingly, Charlie tilted his head to the side, her voice had captivated him again, and those eyesthose dark eyesthey had always been his downfall. He remembered what Larry and Mack had told him about Renee, they teased him endlessly for picking a girl who was completely opposite of him, but he never cared, never listened to them, that sweet innocent shy girl in college had entranced him, and he would have moved heaven and earth to keep her with him. "I didn't know anything about your worldabout sportsabout footballI was always buried in a book, and before I knew itwe were married, and you were playing professional balland all the other player's wivesthey knew the gameI didn'tthey always knew exactly what to dowhat to saywhat to wearwhat was importanthow to handle themselvesbut I never did." She leaned closer to Charlie, trying to see if there was anything leftanything left for her. "And maybe that might seem insignificant, but I could see it in your eyes the let
- 347 -

down and disappointmentevery time we went out to eventsand every time you came home from a gamethe pain about something that you loved with your whole heart, that you could never share with mebecause I didn't understand. But thenyou got hurtand we moved awayand started a familyand I thought, for that brief frame of time, that it would all be okaythat you would forget about the game and concentrate on uson our lives togetherbut I should have known betterI should have know the second you placed a football in Isabella's handsthat you could never forget." Renee paused keeping her eyes locked onto Charlie's. And for a fleeting moment she saw in those eyes, the eyes of a man she loved for twenty six years, a range of emotions gliding across his rough, masculine features. It gave her the strength to continue. "So I decidedeven though it was probably already too lateto be the wife you deserved, finallyI wanted to surprise youI asked Phil, the Coach for Fork's neighboring team, if he would teach me about the gameand he did, at firstdo you remember a few weeks before I left? That big rivalry game between you and Phil? The one you won? Do you remember that I sat therein the bleachersfor the whole thing? And after you wondo you remember what I said?" Charlie was suddenly capitulating back into timehe did rememberhe had always thought that she had wanted to go to that game because Phil was going to be thereuntil now. Renee had come bounding down the stairs, flushed and excited, just minutes before he and Bella were leaving for the high school stadium. Fork's High was going to play Bogachiel Highthey were rivalshad always been rivalsPhil had been the Coach at Bogachel for 5 years at the time, and he had managed to beat Charlie every single yearbut this day was differentRenee who had never shown an interest in the game before, was suddenly dying to goit had taken him by surprisebut she had satproudlyup in the bleacherscheering Fork's High onand after they had wonshe flew down the bleachers and threw herself into his armsshe hugged him tightly, and whispered into his ear "CongratulationsI'm so proud of youbut you should have told your quarterback that at the start of fourth quarter, the defense for the other team was reading his plays and blitzing." He had been stunned immobile at her words and could only blink at her in amazementshe looked radiant and glowing next to him. She giggled and smiled brightly, her hand resting on his armbut before he could ask her howwhereor
- 348 -

when she had learned all thishis team surrounded himwhooping and holleringwhisking him away on their victory high. Renee threw up her hands in defeat, causing Charlie's hospital bed to bounce slightly. "I should have told you that nightwhat Phil had been teaching mebut I was too excited to give away my little secretit was just the look in your eyesthe way you looked at me with such surprise and awe, it was so addicting that I wanted to learn moremore, so that you would keep looking at me that wayall I ever wanted to do was impress you and make you proud of me" Charlie could only blinkhis mind was swimminghis hands were trembling, he had never really cared that she didn't know about the gamehe had alwaysalways been proud of her. He had fallen in love with her because of who she wasnot what she could becomeand it tore at his heart that she had thought, all this time, that she needed to impress him. This woman sitting before him had impressed him every day of their lives together and then she nearly destroyed himhe had loved her beyond life itself, and she had shattered him. "I saw you" his voice shook, "on the benchwith Philthe same way I saw Bella with Cullen! You are both alike, throwing yourselves at the first guy that comes along. Bellashe's just like you!" Renee shook her head sadly, "What you saw with me and Phil was not what you think. Yesthat was me, on the benchonly I wasn't a willing participantI was fighting him offyou didn't stay long enough to realize that. When I asked Phil to keep teaching meI guess he thought I was interested in himor he was trying to get back at you for beating him on the football field that nightI told him to stophe wouldn't take no for an answerhe attacked me andI fought back." Charlie froze at her words, "You're lying" he whispered. Renee placed her hand on the bed rail near Charlie's. "No," she said softly, she blinked back her tears, "I'm not lyingwe already went over that didn't weyou already agreed that I have nothing to lose by telling you the truth" She tilted her head sadly; her hair fell over one shoulder. Charlie watched the brown waves cascade around her, his stomach twisting in the worst way possible. "When I tried to explain to youyou were so angryyou wouldn't listenyou raged on and on, accusing me of all these horrible thingsbut the thing that hurt
- 349 -

the most, and you probably don't even rememberwasn't that you thought I was cheating on youor destroying our familywhat hurt the most was when you told me that I was never good enough for youor for our daughterthat I had never been good enough" A few silent tears escaped her eyes, "Your words ripped through my heart, throwing my inadequacy, and all my fears, right back in my face, and I believed youbecause what you said was trueI was never good enough for youI would never be good enough for youso I leftbut not before I threatened PhilI told him he had to leavemove away from Fork'sfrom youor else I would file a sexual harassment charge against himhe couldn't risk thatnot if he wanted to keep working with kids. I had to get him away from youI didn't want you to have to look at his face ever again." The ringing in Charlie's ears was crashing all around him; alarm rang through every nerve in his body. Renee shifted on the bed slightly, and carefully placed her hand over his. "Ever since our daughter started college I've been watching and reading about her. I was sitting right outside this door when she came in here; I heard every word she told you in this hospital room. What you did to herand to Edward Cullen, is unforgivable. Charlie, since I've been gone, you've spent all these years punishing Bella for misdeeds you thought I had doneyou've been pushing her awaybecause of meand she can't take it anymore." Charlie shook his head furiously, unwilling to believe that all these yearsall these wasted years, he had been living under false pretenses. "No" his voice didn't even sound like his own anymore, "Bella was going to run off with himwith Cullen. She was pregnantand I wanted him goneI had to get rid of him!" Renee kept staring at him, pain flashed across her beautiful black eyes. "Mack and Larry, they helped me. I just wanted to get rid of him, Renee," his voice broke, "but Mack overdid it with the picturesand Bellasheshe lost the baby." Charlie buried his face in his hands, his voice ragged. "I didn't want her to lose the baby. I thought we would be okay, the three of ushermeand the babyI was going to help herthat way, she wouldn't leave
- 350 -

me too." Renee watched him carefully; her heart ached for both him and her daughter, while she longed to ease his pain, she knew he needed to face the truth. "Isabella she wasn't leaving youshe would never leave youbecause she's nothing like meand she's everything like youshe is strongindependentself assuredutterly devoted to the game she lovesand to the people who love her" Charlie watched as Renee tucked her hair behind her ear. His heart felt squeezed beyond belief, and he knew that every word she was saying was true. Renee paused; she sat straight up and grasped Charlie's hand tightly in her own. "She is doing what Ishould have doneshe is fighting backfighting for the man she lovesyou taught her thatto keep fightingto never give updon't you see you raised her exactly rightshe is a beautiful, gifted, amazing womanand that quarterbackthe one you think she is making a mistake withI think you knowknow how wrong you areI thinkwhen you look at himyou see yourself and it's killing youbecause he is getting the chance that you were never able to have"

JB: Welcome to Fox's NFL AFC Divisional Championship Playoff Game between the Los Angeles Warriors and the Miami Dolphins. I'm Joe Buck along with Troy Aikman and Pam Oliver. We're in for an exciting match today. The Dolphins traveling to Los Angeles this week to take on the Warriors. The Dolphins enter this week's game having won 14 of their last 16 regular season games. The Warriors offense has gained more yards than any other NFL team thanks to newcomer quarterback Edward Cullen, and the Dolphins defense has allowed fewer yards than any other club. It's going to be an entertaining affair. Troy what do you think about today's game? TA: I certainly can appreciate what the Warriors have been able to accomplish this season, you know, having been through it myself and knowing how difficult it is to do. The thing that has been most impressive to me is the fact that this is a team that has gotten better in a lot of areas; Cullen impresses me more and more after each game. JB: Yes, and despite all the hoopla surrounding the Coach's Black, Swan, and the
- 351 -

quarterback Cullen, the Warriors have managed to keep their heads up, and team strong. TA: They sure have. It's going to be interesting to watch Cullen play today. He has got to be under more pressure than usual. JB: Well considering everything that's being said about him right nowI heard Mack Brown is going to release a statement sometime this weekend. TA: Hopefully he'll be able to clear up some of the rumors surrounding this team. They've gotten some bad publicity in the last few days, and I, for one, will be sad if they decide to let Isabella Swan go, she's been a great asset to the Warrior franchise, and to the building of this team. JB: It's going to be a tough one for the Commissioner to handle; currently, there are no rules in the NFL about coaches dating the players since there has never been a female coach before. TA: I'm sure they'll be revising that for the next season. JB: Let's go ahead and focus on the field, I see the Warriors running out of the tunnel now

BPOV I kept my eyes fastened straight ahead as I ran out of the tunnel and onto the field. The crowd was roaring wildly around me, and it seemed as if every single camera lens was focused on my face. I tried my best to put everything out of my mind except for the game that we were going to play today, but it wasn't easy. Edward had surprised me yesterday and it had been replaying in my mind over and over since then. I had done something that was a little bit out of the ordinary for me, and it had the potential to make Edward really angry, but I realized it needed to be done. I didn't scan the skyboxes but I knew they were up there, watching I wasn't expecting to see Edward before the playoff game, so I was caught off guard when less than an hour after I had gotten home from practice Friday evening, my phone rang.
- 352 -

It was Edward, informing me that he was coming to kidnap me in twenty minutes and that I couldn't ask any questions. Not being able to resist the enthusiasm I heard in his voice, I just laughed and asked him if I was going to be in any more brawls so that I could call my bodyguards Jasper and Alice. When I slid into the seat next to him, Edward smiled cheerfully at me with a twinkle in his eye. "What brings you here, Mr. Cullen?" I asked, smiling back at him. "I still have three dates left." Was all he said. Something that had been nagging me about that caused me to ask my next question. "I've been meaning to ask you," I turned to look at him, my hands resting on my lap, "Why did you pick six dates? I mean you had the upper hand at that meeting, why didn't you pick ten or twenty or something? Why only six?" Edward didn't take his eyes off the road, his hands rubbed and flexed against the steering wheel, I swore he was blushing; he looked almost embarrassed, I don't think I had ever seen him embarrassed before, and this new-found expression on his face was completely adorable. "I realized I could have picked a hundred if I wanted too, but I knew that if you felt nothing for me anymore, than all the dates in the world wouldn't have mattered, and I wanted a number that meant somethingso I picked sixone date for every year we were apart." I watched him completely in awe, my heart swelling in my chest at the significance of his words. I reached over and took his hand off the steering wheel and entwined it in mine. He looked over at me, a mixture of surprise and happiness running across his face. "So where might we be going?" I tilted my head at him and smiled, bouncing just a little bit in my seat. "You'll see" he winked at me. It didn't take us more than fifteen minutes to reach our destination, the parking
- 353 -

lot was full of cars and there were clusters of people walking about. "Is this a high school?" I asked looking out the window, "What are we doing here?" Edward didn't answer me, "Here put this on." He held out a plain black baseball cap to me, "You don't want anyone to recognize you." I looked up at him in confusion. "What?" "Come on." He placed a similar cap on his own head and pushed open the car door, "I come here every Friday, and you're going to love it." He walked around the car and over to my side, he opened my door for me, holding out his hand. I placed my hand in his, looking up at him a mixture to bewilderment and anticipation. I had no idea what was up his sleeve. We walked along the throng of people until we reached the main gate of a large high school stadium. Edward paid for both of us and led me along the pathway until we reached the bleachers. I walked alongside him, my hand in his, taking in the oh so familiar Friday night high school football scene. The place was buzzing with excitement. The smell of popcorn and hotdogs floated through the air. Scattered among the bleachers were a mixture of parents, students, and faculty. The school band sat on the far right playing boisterous, lively music. The cheerleaders stood on large platforms in front of the bleachers cheering wildly. We climbed up a few rows until Edward found a suitable, out of the way spot, and sat down. He patted the spot next to him, grinning up at me. I sat next to him still a bit stunned. He slid his arm around my waist, pulling me just a little bit closer to him, and then focused his gaze to the field. I watched to people around me silently for a few minutes, remembering what seemed like a lifetime ago, that innocent span of time that I once lived. I turned to Edward, tugging a bit on his hand.
- 354 -

"We're going to watch a football game?" I asked. He looked at me with sparkling, animated eyes, and nodded. "We're going to watch a real football game." And I knew exactly what he meantevery single person that sat on these bleachers was here because someone they loved was playingand every single player who was out there on that field was there because they loved the gamethey were playing for each othernot for famenot for moneynot for their coachesbut for each other. Edward was right, this was real. I smiled happily at him and settled comfortably, as well as one could get, on the wooden bleacher. And there we sat, for two hours, and yelledand cheeredand clappedand watched an incredibly exciting, completely sensationalfootball game. No one paid us any attention. Everyone was focused on the game. It felt so good to get away for those few hours and pretend that everything was just perfect in my world. I could see that Edward felt the same. It was almost more fun to watch Edward, and for a while that's all I did. He cheered on the players enthusiastically, his eyes bright, his body relaxed. He would turn and grin at me after every great pass or rushing play, and as the night went on, the swelling in my heart grew and grew. And it hit me at that moment, what my heart had already figured out at eighteenthat I was in love with himthat I would always be in love with him. And it was time for me to show him that When the game finally ended the family and friends of the players all swarmed down onto the field congratulating the winners. Edward and I didn't move, we sat silently and watched. I noticed that Edward was staring intently down at the young quarterback. I looked over at the field to see what captured his interest. A man and a woman had surrounded the boy. I could tell they must be his parents. The woman hugged her son tightly and the man clapped his son on his back, you could see they were both so very proud of their son. The boy was grinning and basking in his parent's love. His parents stepped back slightly when a pretty young
- 355 -

girl walked up them, she clapped brightly and gave the boy a quick hug and kiss on the cheek. He hugged her back tightly and let her go, he looked back at his parents and took the girl's hand in his; they all began walking off the field together. I looked back at Edward; he was completely motionless watching them, his expression somber, almost wishful. I had to swallow the lump that had formed in my throat, this wonderful man had done so much for me already, he had made me feel loved, and safe, and cared for, and now I wanted to make him feel the same. Which is what prompted me to make that phone call when I got back to my apartmentand the flight arrangements. The referee indicated the start of the game, pulling me back from my musings I watched Edward run out onto the field. He looked fearless and confident as he commanded his offensive line. I knew that deep inside the pressure to perform had to be tremendous, everyone was still talking about us, plus the Commissioner had requested to speak to me. Edward was really worried about that, even though I told him not to think about it. I already knew what I was going to doand no one was going to stop me. Jacob stood a few feet away from me on the sidelines. He was surrounded by our players talking to them in urgency. His eyes caught mine and he smiled and nodded at me. Charlotte was probably waiting for him back at his place. They had both come over to my apartment to talk to me, nervous and apologetic, and amazingly, all I wanted to do was wish them well. I could see it in Jacob's eyes, something different in the way he looked at Charlotte, and I realized he had never, ever, looked at me that way. Jacob still wasn't fond of Edward, but he was able to push all that aside and work with him on a professional level for the last practice. Edward had responded with equal courtesy. For that, I was glad. The game progressed. It was tight, a real battle. I knew that the Dolphins wouldn't be easy to beat, but I also knew that the Warriors possessed the skills needed to beat them, mainly Edward. And he shone, throughout the game, no matter what was happening, he played above and beyond my expectations. His level of concentration was so relentless that it showed, without a doubt, the entire game was a symphony of controlled chaos in
- 356 -

which every player had to play his part perfectly. And perfectly was how Edward played. Fourth quarter proved to be our challenge; we were down by four, thirty seven seconds left on the clock, ball on the opposing team's forty yard line. A field goal was not going to save usonly a touchdown would do. It was second and seven; we basically had time for possibly a couple more plays, but most likely just one, before the clock ran out. We were out of timeouts, so everything that was going on out there on the field was all hanging on Edward. We were sixty yards away from the end zone. The Dolphin's defense was just roaring, and stopping our running backs cold. Edward cocked his head to the side listening to Jacob through his helmet. I had no idea what Jacob was telling him, but when Edward nodded his head, I figured they had agreed on something. Edward's eyes locked onto mine at the last second. I pushed down the apprehension that surrounded me and brought my fingers to my lips. Without anyone noticing I lowered my hand, blowing him a kiss of good luck, and he smiledno he grinnedand turned back to his teammates. Everything we had learned with one another during our practices all came together in those few final seconds. The silent hut count worked, Edward's quick drop back worked, the wide receiver ran a cross pattern that worked, and our running back's fake run worked. The explosion at the line of scrimmage was ferocious as the huge linemen collided with one another. All I could see was the peripheral blur of angular motion as our receivers raced downfield and the cornerbacks for the Dolphins locked onto them. At the center of the storm stood Edward, scanning the field, needing his big guys up front to keep those inhumanly fast and strong defensive linemen off him for just half a second more, until our receiver came free, and he then he spotted him, his arm flung back and he hurled a tight spiral, 60 feet downfield into a target surrounded by opposing team members, and the receiver leaped into the air, stretching out his arms, everything else in the world stopped. We all watched with bated breath as the rotation of the football flew through the air in what seemed like slow motion. The screams around us were ear splitting, and even though one defensive line man had pulled Edward down to the ground, he bounced back up to watch as our receiver caught it and held on to the ball tightly.
- 357 -

The safety, whose body seemed to be made out of ironwood and whose mind had no conscience, smashed into him like a baseball bat. But our receiver didn't care, and neither did the crowd, for he was already in the end zone, raising the ball above his head in victory. The noise of the crowd pierced through my brain, every single person was on their feet in fits of wild exhilaration. Jacob had run out onto the field and the team surrounded him, helmets raised above them jubilantly. I watched silently, with proud eyes, as the team I loved proved to the entire United States that we were going to the Super Bowl. That's when I felt his strong arms around me, picking me up off the floor, and swinging me around jovially. He had tossed his helmet down to the floor, dirt and sweat smeared across his face, he was laughinghappytruly, genuinely, happy, and I did what I should have done all those years ago when he was walking up to me after our high school homecoming football game win, I flung my arms around him, not caring anymore what anybody thought, and pulled his head to mine, kissing him with all the yearning, pride, and love that I felt for him. Because he was mineand I loved him.

EPOV Nothing matterednot my teammates that were surrounding me, yelling and hooting, or the cameras that were shoved right in my face, or the ninety thousand people that were watchingI flung my helmet down, not caring where it fell, and scooped Bella up in my arms. She was the only one I wanted to celebrate with. Her face lit up as I swung her around and the sound of her laugh was sweeter than all the cheering going on in the entire stadium. I was holding her in my arms, and just like I promised her, I had given her a playoff win. I was going to place her back down on the ground when she wrapped her arms around my neck, pulling my face down to hers, and suddenly I was the recipient of the hottest, most inviting kiss she had ever given me. That kiss was sending tingling sensations all through my entire body, and I gathered her in my arms, never wanting Bella to stop kissing me.

- 358 -

She hugged me tightly against her for a moment longer and then finally released me. I kept my arms around her, not wanting to let her go, but she smiled at me proudly and waved her hand around her to the crowd. "Go on" she said nodding, her eyes bright and glowing, "They're all expecting you out there" She could see the reluctance on my face so she squeezed my hand, "I'll be right here" she promised, "I'll wait for you." It felt like hours even though it was probably only one, that reporter after reporter wanted to talk to the players about the game. They talked about the strategies, the touchdowns, the yardage and the penalties, and on and on Finally their interest in the players waned and they surrounded Black, already focusing on the Super Bowl ahead of us. My eyes scanned the field to the spot where I had left Bella, my mind already swirling with the recollection of her kiss. I wanted to find more of where that came from. You could have knocked me over with a fucking feather when I caught sight of her talking brightly with two people who looked remotely like my parents. All three of them turned around to face me as I made my way over to where they stood. Bella looked up at me with tentative eyes and took a step forward; she smiled and held out her hand to me. I wasn't sure whether to be angry or just annoyed, but what she said to me washed all that away in a matter of seconds. "I wasn't lucky in the parent department," she whispered quietly, holding tightly to my hand and staring up into my eyes, "but you were, and still are. They're here Edwardnot just because I asked them tobut because they love you, and they are proud of you." I watched her beautiful black eyes begging me to understand. I tore my gaze away from her and looked over at my parents. They looked nervousunsure. My eyes met my mom's and all those years of wishing for acceptance and encouragement fell over me, I smiled at her, almost shyly. I guess that was all my mom needed to see because she sprang forward, her arms
- 359 -

outstretched, and she held me the same way I remembered being held by her when I was just a little boy. "Edward," her hands were on either side of my face now, and even though I was towering over her, she still held me firmly, the way a parent possessively holds onto their child, "you played so outstanding. I was yelling during the entire fourth period." I chuckled softly at her words, as my dad shook his head and rolled his eyes in the background. He smiled at me and came over to my side. "You've done good son," he placed his hand on my back, and looked over at Bella and then back at me, "in everything you have accomplished. Your mother and I are real proud of you." "Thanksmomdad." I looked at my parents on either side of me and then back to Bella. She was beaming at me. I held out my hand to her and she took it. Standing on her tiptoes she pressed a quick kiss to my cheek and turned to my parents. "Mr. and Mrs. Cullen," she smiled at them, "Would you like to have dinner with us?" My mom nodded lovingly, and placed her hand on Bella's arm. "That sounds delightful. Carlisle and I would be honored, but call me Esme dear, I thought we've already been over that." Bella's enchanted laugh floated through the air, "Of courseI'm sorry, Esme." Bella turned to face me after closing the door of her apartment behind her. Her eyes washed over me nervously as if she expected me to be angry at herbut I could never be angry with herI knew that what she had done must have taken an incredible amount of courage. My parents had just left to their hotel with promises of visiting us again before their flight out. They were also beyond excited at getting to go to the Super Bowl game, and my mom had made me promise to get her a Warriors tee shirt that she could wear to the game. I took a few steps closer to Bella and held out my hand to her. Her eyes fell down
- 360 -

to my hand and then back up to my face, she smiled and reached for me, relief spread across her features. "No one has ever done anything like that for me before." I said softly, wrapping my hand around hers and pulling her close to me. She slid her arms around me and hugged me tightly, pressing her cheek firmly to my chest. "If you're willing to let me," she whispered against me, "I'd like to keep doing everything for you." I lowered my head and captured her mouth in the sweetest, softest kiss. Her body responded to mine instantly; she molded herself to me, her hands sliding down over my shoulders, her palms resting on my chest. My arms slid around her waist pulling her closer to me. I slid one hand up her back and tangled my fingers into her glorious curls, feeling the silkiness across my palm. Still she kept kissing me, pressing herself harder against me. One hand gliding up around my shoulder, the other she fisted my shirt and pulled me down to her. Her tongue danced and played over my own, teasing my senses, making me groan and push my hips against hers. She held onto me tightly, encouraging me to explore her heavenly mouth. The feel of her hands and mouth on me was sending me into a frenzy, I don't think I had ever felt her this urgent before, and the sensations were making my body throb with need. She pulled her head back smiling slightly, giving me a small kiss on my nose. "Umm Edward" her finger seductively traced my lower lip, I was completely dazed and had a raging hard on. "Yeah?" was all I could really manage to stutter. "I want to try somethingif you don't mind" her voice was coy, her eyes held a bit of a flirtatious look to them that was completely wiping me of any sane thought, "I've never done it before but I read about it, in a magazine." I lowered my face into the crook of her neck, not really hearing what she was
- 361 -

saying, and even though my voice was muffled, I could hear the arousal in it, "You can do anything you want Reina." She giggled softly; probably knowing full well what she was fucking doing to me, and pushed me back with both hands. "You need to come over here then." She gestured me over with her index finger, and walked over to her sofa. I followed her like a lovesick puppy, eager to wrap my arms around her again. "Right here," she said softly, positioning me in front of her sofa, "now stand still." I looked down at her, my body completely on fire, resisting the urge to just grab her and throw her down onto the sofa myself, and take her. Instead, I held my breath as her gaze fell down to my chest and she began unbuttoning my shirtslowlycarefullyone button at a time, and it was driving me crazy. She didn't take my shirt off though; it hung down on my shoulders, open. She bit down on her bottom lip and ran her fingers down my chest and across my stomach. Her fingers lingered, stroking softly back and forth by the buttons on my jeans, and she looked up at me smiling. I couldn't even smile back, I was too far gone. She gave out this self satisfied chuckle and quickly refocused her gaze down to my jeans. Her fingers made quick work of unfastening all five buttons and I had to suppress a groan when she yanked my jeans down to my ankles. "Hmmm" she whispered, "almost" And before I could complete a sane thought, my boxers were following down the same path my jeans had just traveled, and she was pushing me down into sitting position on her sofa. She hovered over me, placing both her hands on either side of my head and leveled her face to mine. "Are you ready?" she giggled softly, the tip of her nose creating small circles around my own. I was more than fucking readyand I grabbed her ass trying to pull her down on me, not caring that she was fully clothed. She laughed, "Nonot yet Edwardkeep your hands to yourself" she shook her head and her hair fell over her shoulders, creating a curtain around both of our faces.
- 362 -

I grunted in response and shook my head no at her, grabbing her ass more firmly in my hand. She leaned in and opened her mouth over mine, running her tongue lightly over my lips, "Here" she whispered taking my hand from her ass and guiding it up, "You can put your hands here." She shoved my hand into her hair and broke her lips away from mine, placing small feather light kisses along my jaw and neck. I tightened my hand into the softness of her hair, lowering my head, trying to get her to look up at me again. She didn'tinstead, her head traveled downpast my neckdownlingering on my collarboneher hands left the sofa and moved to my chest, scraping her nails on my skin. Her kisses went lower stillI could feel her soft mouth trailing down my stomachmy dick throbbing right underneath her chin. When I looked down at her, she was on her kneesright between my legsher warm breath made my dick twitch, and suddenly all I could feel was her hot, wet mouth completely enveloping meit made my breath hitch and my hips arch up off the sofa. She placed both hands on my thighs and pushed me back down as her mouth slowly moved along the shaft of my dick, the suction her lips created was overwhelming and I nearly came right there. She moaned softly pulling her head back, swirling her tongue around the head of my dick then slowly moving back down, taking my entire length back into her mouth. My free hand found its way into her hair and I leaned my head back onto the sofa and shut my eyes trying to force my mind on somethinganythingbesides these incredible sensations Bella was giving me. She kept moving, sometimes taking me in an inch at a time, sometimes moving over me at a faster pace, pulling on me lightly. Her hand traveled down to cup and fondle my balls, and when she did that, a cross between a grunt and a moan escaped me. "Reina" I was nearly panting, "If you don't stop that I'm going to" my voice trailed off as she hummed against me, I could feel my balls tightening, "ummm" "You're going to what?" she teased, the feel of her mouth moving around my dick while she talked made me gasp, and I could feel my hands moving on their own accord, pressing against the back of her head, guiding her back down. She giggled,
- 363 -

and wrapped her hand around the base of my dick which sent another tremor shooting through it and straight up my back, I swear if she wasn't fucking holding me down with one hand, my ass would have been so far off that sofa. I flung my head back as far into the sofa as it would go, clenching my teeth, as her tongue licked the entire underside of my dick, "This is what I get for falling in love with a NFL coach," I muttered trying my dammest to keep from coming, "I should have known a coach would want to call all the shots" She froze beneath me, and my hands immediately increased their pressure on her head, urging her down. But she didn't keep going, her mouth pulled off of my dick with a soft pop, she rose up on her knees, tossing her hair back and looking right at me. I still felt her hand wrapped around the base of my dick and my body was literally screaming for release. "PleaseReina" I gasped, my body withering against her hand. "Whatwhat did you say?" her voice floated through my befuddled senses and I realized at that second what I had said out loud. A brief wave of panic ensued me, maybe I shouldn't have said anything about love, maybe it was too early for that. "Youlove me?" her voice was soft, I opened my eyes and looked down at her, her deep black eyes were tinged with shock. I struggled to say something profound, but my brain was refusing to work, "What the hell do you think this is all about?" my voice was still thick with lust. She rose higher still, one hand on my shoulder, the other still holding my dick, her face was right in front of mine, her eyes dark and wide. "You don't know how long I've waited to hear you say that." She whispered, her voice trembling, she pressed her cheek to my own, her skin felt soft, her breath on my ear. I could feel her hand tightening around me as she said, "I love you EdwardI've always loved you." The sound of her voice, and those words coming from her lips, words I had waited what felt like my whole life for, sent my body over the edge. I jerked and shuddered
- 364 -

against her, coming in what felt like the strongest release I had ever experienced. Her free hand went around my neck and she held me tightly, pressing me to her, whispering over and over in my ear that she loved me. And when my body finally relaxed, and my breathing evened outI realized that I had come not by any fancy technique or exaggerated movementbut by wordsher words

Charlie and Renee watched the small hospital tv screen as the crowd surrounded players in the Warriors triumphant win over the Dolphins. Charlie peeked out of the corner of his eye at Renee, he wouldn't admit it to her, but he was glad that she was still there. That she hadn't stormed out of his hospital room in anger the other day, she had stayed with him, until nightfall, and returned the next morning, bringing him the newspaper and a small stack of magazines. Charlie returned his attention to screen in front of him. The game had been close, Charlie thought, but Black and Bella had done all the right things. Hell, even Cullen had done the right things. Renee's soft gasp next to him made Charlie jerk his over in her direction and then immediately back to the television set. There was Cullen, swinging Bella around. Her head fell back and she was laughing, she looked absolutely radiant. Charlie frowned, not because Cullen's hands were around his daughter, or even that Cullen had leaned down and was kissing herbut because he began to wonderwhen was the last time he had seen his daughter look this happyhe couldn't rememberit had been too long. "She loves him." Renee's soft voice broke through his thoughts. Charlie finally had to nod his head in agreement, and he let out a soft sigh. Renee placed her hand over Charlie's, her plane was scheduled to leave the next day, and while she didn't really want to leave, Charlie gave her no indication that he wanted her to stay. "Renee," his voice was gruff, but his eyes said otherwise, he didn't move his hand away from hers, "somewhere in my bag is a cell phonewould you mind getting it for meI need to make a callto MackBrownthere's something we need to do"
- 365 -

Whew! So...what do you think? I'm sitting at the edge of my seat waiting to hear from you. :D

- 366 -

Chapter 28
Hi Everyone! First, I have to thank you all so much for all those wonderful reviews. I am always so happy to hear from you! I have really enjoyed sharing my story with you all. If everything goes that way I am thinking, I believe there is only one more chapter left and the epilogue. Song of the day is Love Is by Vanessa Williams and Brian McKnight, copy and paste it into your browserit is perfect! Don't forget to take out the spaces. http :// www . you tube .com / watch?v=Pz9gpxsgaj0 So here's hoping that the next two chapters knock your socks off! :) Enjoy! Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight. I own all the football knowledge.

Love breaks the chains. Love aches for every one of us. Love takes the tears and the painand it turns it into the beauty that remains

"They're making me talkI have until Sunday to say something or else they're going to go after my job." The strain in Mack's voice could easily be heard through the line. "He's pulling out all the stops, I know, I've already talked to Goodell. He told me he spoke to Isabella earlier today. I can't believe what she is planning to do. We need to make this public before she does. The media is having field day with it already." "I knew this was going to happen. I saw the playoff game Charlie. Cullen's in love with her and he's fucking pissed at me. I'm going to lose my job over this." "Don't worry Mack; you won't lose your job, I have plans to discuss this with
- 367 -

Dodds. I'll take the full responsibility." "Charlie, do you remember our last game together with the Longhorns?" "Yeah, why?" "Remember what we said back in the locker room with Larry?" "With Larry? No. What?" "Doesn't matter where we go, or how bad it might get, we'll always stick together. I got your back Charlie." Charlie felt a strange tightening in his throat. "And I got yours." Was all he could get out. Renee watched Charlie carefully, her hands clasped tightly in her lap. She hoped with all her heart he was going to do the right thing. Charlie turned to look at her then, overwhelmed with that familiar feeling he used to get back in his college days, the feeling to capture this beautiful woman in front of him, to make her his. He turned his head slightly, trying to get himself under control. "Renee, Mack will be flying in tonight to meet me here since I can't leave this fucerrdamn hospital." Renee smiled slightly at his words, her eyes soft. "I heard... I'm proud of you Charlie." Charlie felt his breath escape him. That was all she needed to say, that she was proud of him, and his heart began hammering in his chest. "ReneeI" he was almost stuttering, he took a deep breath before he started talking again, "I know you don't care for Mack, but" he looked into those deep black eyes starting to feel lost, "but can you stay? I'd like for you to hear what we're going to discuss." Renee felt her heart jump at his words. She wanted to stay, with her whole heart she wanted to staybut she knew she couldn't make it easy for him. He had a lot of issues that he needed to deal with and people he needed to make amends with.
- 368 -

These things he needed to do on his own. "I'm sorry Charlie," she leaned closer to him, "but my plane leaves in four hours. I won't be able to be here." "You're leaving?" Charlie didn't like hearing those words. He knew she wouldn't stay forever but it still took him by surprise that she was leaving already. He couldn't suppress the panic that was consuming him at the thought of doing everything he needed to do, without herof continuing to live his lifewithout her. "Stay" he could hear the begging in his voice and he didn't care, "pleasestay. We could talk some more. And I could call Bella; I know she would love to see you." He was using any reason he could get his hands on to keep her with him, and he knew it. Renee's eyes went wide. "Bella" she breathed, her voice trembled, "Bella wouldn't want to see me. I can only imagine what she thinks of me." "Please," Charlie begged some more, "just a few more days. I know Bella would want to see you. You don't have to stay at a hotel; you can stay at my place. It's not far from here" his voice trailed off. It was useless, he could see it on her face, she wasn't going to stay. He was going to lose heragain. But then he saw something flicker in those gorgeous eyes, and she smiled at him. Her smile lit up her face and his too. "Okay." She said, and Charlie couldn't believe what he was hearing, "But just for a few more daysand then I have to leave." Charlie nodded. Inside he was thinking she didn't have to do anything, she could stay with him forever. But that was a battle he would fight later, right now, she had agreed to stay, here, with him. And that meant more to him than he could ever imagine. It sent his heart soaring. He couldn't remember the last time he had felt like this. "Alright Mr. Swan," the bubbly nurse who was assigned to him walked into the room, her footsteps tapping lightly against the tile, "it's time for you take your walk. You need to build up your strengthdoctor's orders. Come on, I only have ten
- 369 -

minutes to walk with you unless you'd like youruh" the nurse glanced over at Renee, unsure exactly what to call her, she had seen her here for the last few days but still wasn't sure what she was to Mr. Swan. "Wife." Charlie could hear his voice strong and clear, he was staring right into Renee's eyes, "this is my wife, Mrs. Renee Swanand if she doesn't mindI'd like her to walk with me."

BPOV Walking into Roger Goodell's office was one of the most nerve-wracking things I have ever done. I had flown into New York this morning for my meeting with the NFL Commissioner and was literally exhausted, both physically and emotionally. The kiss Edward and I had exchanged during the playoff game was playing repeatedly on every television station discussing the Super Bowl. I knew it was only going to add further tension to the shaky ground I was standing on. The Warriors had two weeks to prepare for the Super Bowl, and as of right now I didn't even know if I would be out on that field come Super Bowl Sunday. Edward had wanted to come with me and I was dead set against it. He had pushed and argued with me all day yesterday, but I wouldn't budge. First, he was extremely busy with all the Super Bowl activities that were going on, and second, he needed to be out on the field for practice with the team. Besides, I knew he only wanted to be there to take care of me and defend my actions, or worse, try to take to the complete blame all by himself, and there was no way I was going to let that happen. This was my doingmy responsibility. My dad had done enough harm to Edward already, I was not about to add to it. I had arrived ten minutes early expecting to wait until our scheduled appointment, but to my surprise, the Commissioner's secretary ushered me right into his office, almost as if he couldn't wait to start ripping into me, I guess. The room was small, I always imagined that someone as powerful as Roger Goodell would have this enormous office, but it was just the opposite. A small wooden desk was angled in the corner. Two leather chairs sat opposite it. A pretty
- 370 -

gold framed mirror hung on the far wall with a tiny buffet table underneath it. The two windows overlooked the city were framed with simple ivory blinds. I glanced around me trying not to look so nervous. Apparently Goodell was not a flashy guy at all. "Miss Swan, thank you for meeting with me, please come in and have a seat." Goodell's voice was sincere and professional. I guess it was supposed to put me at ease but I was too wound up to relax. "Thank you Mr. Goodell." I sat carefully on one of the leather chairs and placed my hands in my lap waiting for him to begin. "Miss Swan," Goodell cleared his throat and looked directly at me, "Are you aware of why I called this meeting with you?" I took a second to clear my head, I was a professionalI could do this. "I believe, Mr. Goodell, that this meeting was called because of my relationship with Edward Cullen. Both in my past and my present." I stared right back at him not wavering. He raised his eyebrows at me, I guess he was expecting me to hem and haw about it, but I was through with that, Edward belonged to me and I was not going to deny it to anyone. "Miss. Swan, your relationship with Mr. Cullen has put us in a bit of a dilemma. You see, since you are the first female coach the NFL has ever had, there are no guidelines for me to follow regarding your behavior." "I don't see how my behavior, as you call it, has anything to do with my coaching abilities." I kept my voice firm and my eyes steady. "You realize I have to make sure the NFL lives up to its name. I oversee all of the league's business units, including media properties, marketing and sales, stadium development and strategic planning. We cannot not address the issues before us. The media would make a mockery of us, of our players, of our sponsors, and of our name. I have already scheduled a press conference for tomorrow morning in regards to your situation; I am just giving you the courtesy of knowing the outcome beforehand." I lost some of my poise then, Goodell had already made his decision, this meeting
- 371 -

was not intended for me to defend or explain myself, this meeting was simply for him to tell me what my punishment was going to be. Feeling somewhat defeated I remained silent. What else could I say really? I was just about to nod and give in, when the door to his office suddenly flew open. Both Goodell and I jumped in our seats, turning our heads in the direction of the door. There stood Seth Clearwater in all his glory, Goodell's secretary right on his heels. "I'm sorry Mr. Goodell, I tried to stop him. Mr. Clearwater insists he is Miss. Swan's attorney and he should be present for this meeting." She apologized. Goodell looked stunned for a second, and then held up his hand. "That's quite alright Ms. Bell, thank you." I sat frozen in my seat. Seth Clearwater was not my lawyer. Seth Clearwater was Edward's lawyer. I realized at that moment what was about to transpire. "I apologize for my late arrival," Seth unbuttoned his coat and made his way to the empty seat next to mine. "My plane was delayed." He held out his hand to Goodell and shook it heartily; he turned to look at me before sitting down, "Miss. Swan." He smiled warmly at me and gave me a small wink. I nearly choked. "Mr. Clearwater." I managed to get out. "Now" Seth began in this intimidating businesslike voice sitting straight up in his chair and pushing back his glasses. "What brings us all here today?" "We were just about to discuss the repercussions of Miss Swan's and Mr. Cullen's relationship that I will be announcing tomorrow at my press conference." "Repercussions. Really? And what might those be?" "Well" Goodell suddenly seemed really ill at ease, "As the NFL commissioner it is my responsibility to make sure Miss. Swan realizes why she will be fined one hundred thousand dollars and suspended for the next 4 games for violating the NFL's personal and ethical conduct policy. Miss. Swan must recognize that the NFL
- 372 -

does not allow much room for such behavior off the field. As a coach she was to conduct herself to the highest standards of honesty, professionalism, and sportsmanship. By hiding her past and current relationship with Mr. Cullen, publically denying it, and then flaunting it all over the media, is detrimental to the best interests of her team and to our league." I nearly gasped at the words coming out of Goodell's mouth. Suspended for 4 gamesI would miss the Super Bowl, it was the only game I cared about. Seth sat rigidly in his seat, listening intently to every word; his face was devoid of any expression. A true poker face. He could probably get rich playing cards. Finally after a few silent seconds he leaned forward in his chair and placed one hand on Goodell's desk. "It seems that this meeting is a bit premature don't you think Mr. Goodell?" he nodded his head almost mockingly as if he was expecting Goodell to start nodding with him. Goodell was really taken aback by Seth's straightforwardness; he sort of sucked in his breath at Seth's words, not answering right away. "I believe the NFL should address these types of issues right away." "Is that so?" Seth leaned back into his chair, "The same way the NFL addressedlet's sayNew England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick? Or Minnesota's former coach Mike Tice?" Goodell clasped his hands together tightly and frowned. "Those were separate issues that were dealt with soundly." "You are right, they were. Both separate issuesand dealt with soundly. Neither which held a 4 day suspension; in fact if I remember correctly, there was no suspensionat all." Seth narrowed his eyes at Goodell. "Bill Belichick was fined far more than one hundred thousand dollars." Goodell was not going to back down so easily. "He was fined five hundred thousand dollars for spying and obtaining the signals of his opposing teams. His own team, the Patriots, would have had to forfeit their first round draft pick only if they had made the playoffs, which they didn't, so they lost nothing. And that was for an infraction far worse that Miss. Swan's."
- 373 -

Goodell said nothing but I could tell he was fuming. I glanced over at Seth; he was far more relaxed now and looked as if he were thoroughly enjoying himself. Where did Edward find this guy? Seth gave a contented sigh and continued. "Minnesota head coach Mike Tice was investigated by the NFL for heading up and profiting from a Super Bowl ticket-scalping operation within the Vikings organization in 2005. Mr. Tice sold his super bowl tickets for a profit which he pocketed. A $100,000 fine was levied against him, nothing else, no suspension." "Mike Tice was fired." Goodell frowned. "Agreed. But not for the ticket scalping, he was fired in 2006 because of a disappointing 9-7 season with the Vikings, they were a trendy preseason pick to go to the Super Bowl, but they missed the playoffs." I could tell that no matter what Goodell had to say, Seth would have more to counter it. "So Mr. Goodell, would you like to rethink your chastisement? Or perhaps Miss. Swan and I should hold our own press conference after yours?" Goodell looked stumped, his face a mixture of anger and shock. "I still have to hold the press conference." He shook his head. "I'm sure you do," Seth tapped his fingers on his briefcase, "But it's what you are going to say that we're interested in." Goodell sighed, he rubbed his hand across his forehead, "Fine, no suspension. But you realize that the NFL can't employ them both if they are going to be involved in a relationship. We cannot have our coaches involved with the players, it's just not professional. It has to be one or the other; I've already begun the process of revising the policies regarding both the coaches and the players for the upcoming season." "We'll talk about that when it happens." Seth didn't even blink. Even though I knew Goodell was backed into a corner now, he wouldn't be stuck there forever; he was always going to be after me. Or Edward. I couldn't let that happen. "You don't have to worry about that." I rose from my seat, "Neither of you." I turned to Goodell, "I will pay my fine, and coach the Super Bowl game. After that I
- 374 -

am resigning from my position, effective immediately." Both men froze. I looked right into Goodell's eyes, "The NFL will leave Edward Cullen alone. Will not pursue this any further, because I am sure his lawyer, Mr. Clearwater here, would be more than happy to continue meeting with you." Goodell's eyes traveled from mine to Seth's rapidly, he thought perhaps we were playing him. I placed my hand on his desk. "I'll have my resignation sent to your office, and to Matt Ferrell's office, by tomorrow evening." Seth didn't say a word; he rose with me and followed me out of Goodell's office, down to the lobby. When we exited the elevators he paused and turned to me. "You don't have to resign." His eyes held a worried look, his brows furrowed. I smiled at him, "Yes, I do." "Mr. Cullen's not going to like this." He shook his head. "You leave Mr. Cullen to me." I tilted my head to the side and winked at him. He seemed surprised at the complacency on my face. "You realize you've just gave up your job Miss. Swan?" Seth was beyond perplexed now. I shrugged, "It's just a job," I glanced down at my watch, I was suddenly eager to catch my plane and head back to San Diego, back to Edward, "But what I've wonis far more important to meand that Mr. Clearwater, is what I am going to tell Mr. Cullen. As for the NFLwellthey can justfuck off."

EPOV Athletes are known to be superstitious creatures. I am not exempt from that category, but right now I am breaking one of the most deadly superstitions ever for an NFL player. My teammates would kill me if they saw what I was looking atand Blackhe would definitely kick my ass if he found out I was talking to Jostens, but you see, I had found out he was the one involved in the design this year, in the event
- 375 -

of a win, so I had to at least try to catch a peek, see what I could discover. If all went well then I could live out this fantasy that had played in my head over and over again since I was eighteen. The Jostens' representative was nearly jumping up and down in front of me and I had to swear him to secrecy, promise him tickets to the Super Bowl, an autographed jersey, and get thiscall his girlfriend on her cell phone and say "Hi." Tsk tskwho knew I would stoop so low. But I did it all anyways. And I walked out of there happier than I had been in, what felt like fucking forever. I checked my phone, it was only noon, Bella would still be in her meeting with the Commissioner. I tried to argue with her yesterday, telling her I wanted to go with her, but she was too smart to let me. She could see right through me, and knew if the Commissioner threatened her I would either beat the shit out of him or try to take complete blame for our situation. So I sent the next best thingI sent Seth Clearwater after her, which let me breathe easier. Seth had already talked to Mack Brown, and I say talked but really mean threatened his ass. Brown had to either spill or get sued and lose his job. Looks like he is going the spill route. Smart man. I watched the hustle and bustle around me as the tourists wandered the sidewalks taking in the sights. Super Bowl week tends to bring over-hype, over-analysis; over-scrutiny and generally over-everything, the Warriors didn't have to travel far for it. The attention of sports fans from around the world were completely focused on, at least this year, Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego. There was a mind boggling, dizzying variety of events going on throughout the city leading up to the big game, and I was in the middle of it all. This was my last free evening, the rest of the week the entire team was booked for events, appearances, and of course practice, so I wanted to spend it with Bella, just the two of us. The Warriors were staying at Se San Diego Hotel which was ridiculously indulgent, but perfect for a romantic evening in. There were four players to a room but Bella had a suite all