Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 222


Story: Shadowboxer Storylink: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4905129/1/ Category: Twilight Author: nobloodnofoul Last updated: 01/21/2010 Status: Complete Content: Chapter 1 to 21 of 21 chapters Source: FanFiction.net Summary: Edward is an underground fighter using the ring as an outlet for his pent-up rage. Bella is a college dropout running from her
complicated past. Their paths collide when Edward is beaten and left for dead. Rated M for LEMONS. CANON PAIRINGS. AH. OOC.

*Chapter 1*: Because You Needed Me

CHAPTER 1 BPOV BECAUSE YOU NEEDED ME Once my lover, now my friend. What a cruel thing to pretend. What a cunning way to condescend. Once my lover, now my friend.
Oh, you creep up like the clouds. And you set my soul to ease. Then you let your love abound. And you bring me to my knees.

Oh, its evil, babe, the way you let your grace enrapture me. When, well, you know, Id be insane To ever let that dirty game recapture me. You made me a shadowboxer, baby. I wanna be ready for what you do. I been swinging all around me. cause I don't know when you're gonna make your move.
Oh, your gaze is dangerous. And you fill your space so sweet. If I let you get too close, You'll set your spell on me. So, darlin, I just wanna say. Just in case I don't come through.

I was on to every play. I just wanted you. But, oh, its so evil, my love, The way you've no reverence to my concern. So, Ill be sure to stay wary of you, love, To save the pain of once my flame and twice my burn. You made me a shadowboxer, baby. I wanna be ready for what you do. I been swinging all around me. cause I don't know when you're gonna make your move.
-Shadowboxer by Fiona Apple JUNE 20th

My fingers shook as I cut the engine off. I felt around on the seat for my knapsack and quickly dug into the front pocket for the key card that Emmett provided me with. I took in a deep breath and hoped like hell if I got caught I wouldn't get into trouble. I was dead tired and in dire need of some sleep. Stealing the last of my reserve I yanked roughly on the door handle and propelled myself out of the humid cab. Quickly I locked the door and slammed it shut then took off across the parking lot. It was muggy outside and a dense fog was settling over the city. It was much too early for anyone to be here. I glanced down at my watch to check the time. It was 2AM. That meant that I could get a decent three hours in before people started to show up. I opened the back door and slid in silently. I swiped my car through the reader and entered into the employee lounge. Eyeballing the couch appreciatively I made my way to it and plopped down.

God, it feels good to just stretch out.

After a few moments however I soon realized that while it might be hot outside it was fucking freezing in here. I reluctantly rose and went in search of the thermostat. After about ten minutes of fruitless hunting I gave up and began looking for a blanket.

You're in a gym retard, there are no blankets.

Then I realized there were probably fresh towels in the locker rooms. I could use one of those. They looked big enough when Emmett showed me around the laundry room this morning. I made my way down the hall and into the main annex of the gym. It was empty. The gym was 24 hours but it was pretty much desolate after 1AM. The locker room door was heavy and stained around the metal hand guard.

Pushing it open slowly I let my eyes adjust to the dim lighting. The walls in here were a grimy sea-foam green color. The lockers were beat-up and the gray paint was flaking and cracking off of them. As I neared the first row of lockers and benches I felt the hairs on the back of my neck start to rise. Something wasn't right in here. My shoulders began to tense and I slowed my already snail like pace. As I came closer to the corner my breathing became shallower. Something really wasn't right in here. Then I spotted him. The bronze shock of hair contrasted greatly in the dim florescent lighting. He was lying on his stomach with his right arm stretched out in front of him as if he were reaching for something. His face was turned to the side at an odd angle and there was blood all over him. There was a duffle bag sitting open on the bench next to him with clothes and towels spilling out. I rushed to his side and took in his shirtless state. The paleness of his skin was amplified in the lighting and caused the bruises over his body to stand out abnormally.

He must have been dressing when someone attacked him.

I ran my hands over his back and then up his extended arm. He groaned and I pulled my hand away. He felt warm and tingly, like there was a current just humming under his flesh. His back was littered with baseball size bruises. "Are you alright?" He didn't answer me but made to push himself up off the concrete floor. Before he got very far his elbows gave out and he fell back down. I groaned then, because that shit just looked painful. "Sir, can you tell me your name? Can you tell me what happened?"

Of course, no answer.
It took a lot of my strength to roll him over but when I did I almost fainted. There was just too much blood. Jesus, he was cut up everywhere. Nasty thick bruises were forming on his ribs and chest. He had them ribboning around his shoulders and neck. His left eye was swollen almost completely shut and a deep gash over the eyebrow with another cut on the apple of his cheek. Small cuts about an inch long were sporadically placed around his torso. His mouth was caked with blood and I had a feeling he might have knocked a few teethe loose or at least cut up the inside of his mouth. His lower lip was plump and split in two places.

Jesus, somebody did a number on you buddy.

I leaned down and placed my ear next to his nose and mouth and listened to his breathing. Then I checked his pulse. He was breathing fine, maybe a little shallow and rough but his lungs seemed to be okay. His pulse was steady and strong. I looked over and saw a black shirt lying on the bench over the duffel. Snatching it and smelling it I decided it was clean. I rocked forward onto my knees and slipped my arms under his and around to his back.

Damn, you're heavy.

With all the strength I could possibly muster I pulled him up into a sitting position and managed to get the shirt on him. He groaned again and one of his arms snaked around my waist. "Hey? Can you hear me?" I asked softly. I was right next to his ear and I'm sure his head was going to be pounding after the beating it took. "What happened?" He was wheezing and I knew that had to hurt. "I don't know. I just found you like this. Can you tell me your name?" "Edward." "Alright Edward, lets get you out of here and put back together." "No hospital." "But you need help" "No. No hospital." He was losing volume in his voice and I knew it wouldn't be long until he was unconscious again. I had to act fast. With whatever strength the adrenaline was giving me I slid my arms securely under his arm pits and tried to lift with my legs and not my back. He was rock solid weight on me. I felt him try to rise with me and was thankful for that. As soon as he was standing we fell back against the lockers and he hissed in pain. "Sorry" I murmured. With one arm I reached out to his duffel bag and with the other I held him against the lockers. I stuffed his belongings into the bag haphazardly and zipped it halfway closed. I slung the bag over my shoulder and as gently as I could, leaned him against me. We made it all the way out of the locker room and into the annex before he needed a break. I stopped for a moment and his knees buckled slightly. I gave him a few seconds before I started to move us forward again. As we neared the back of the building where the parking lot was accessible I wondered if he drove here or walked. There was no way he was going to drive himself home. So as we left the gym I steered him toward my truck and leaned him against the passenger side while I fished for my keys. Once the door was open I had to practically toss him inside. He seemed to wake up a little and lifted his legs up and onto the floorboards. I threw his bag into the bed of the truck and raced over to my side. Once in the driver's seat he slid down and laid

his head on my lap. I froze for a moment before starting the truck up and backing out of the lot. "Where do you live?"

"Hey, Edward? C'mon I need to know where you live." "593 Bakers St uhh in the Brandon Apartments, ummm number 23." He moaned his way through the entire thing while nuzzling into my lap. Thankfully he was mashing the good side of his face into my thigh. I felt really bad for him. I nodded, not knowing at all where that was. I would have to stop and ask for directions. He was in no shape to be giving them.

Jesus, its 3 in the morning there's no one to ask.

I drove down the street and spied a lit up sign for a 24 hour drug store. I quickly pulled into the lot and grabbed my wallet from under the bench before gently getting out of the car making sure to let his head down onto the seat softly. He sighed and shifted slightly. I left the truck running for him and ran into the store. Not knowing if he had anything at his apartment for tending to wounds I found the first aid isle and grabbed gauze, a huge tube of off brand Neosporin, some hydrogen peroxide, and some tape. I also found a box of gauze band-aids in assorted sizes along with some butterfly strips and a small suture kit. It would take half of all the money I had left to pay for it but I couldn't take the chance that he didn't have the supplies at his apartment. I paid for the items and asked the woman at the counter if she could point me in the direction of Bakers St. She kindly gave me directions and I was soon out of the store and approaching the truck. I noticed he had sat up and leaned against the passenger side door of the cab. I hopped in and set the bag of supplies down on the floorboards and put the truck in reverse. He groaned when the truck jerked into life and slid back down to rest his head on my lap. I fidgeted slightly but pushed those feelings aside.

The man's severely injured for Christ's sake and you're getting giddy from his head in your lap?
Bakers St. was easy to find and I silently said a prayer for the woman in the drug store. Once I was parked in front of the building I had to think about how I was going to get him up there. Realizing that it was probably better to just dive right in and work the kinks out along the way I grabbed the bag of medical provisions and sat him straight up so that it would be easier to get him out of the truck. He swayed but remained upright. Once out of the truck I locked the driver's side door and grabbed his duffel out of the bed and stuffed the drugstore bag inside. I slung it over my shoulder and proceeded to open his door. He spilled out of the cab so fast I only had time to catch him with my torso. Quickly, I slung his arm around my shoulders and maneuvered his legs around so he could slide out. He toppled hard at first and I feared he would take us both down onto the sidewalk but he quickly regained composure and weakly leaned against me. In a swift motion I locked the door, pulled him away from the truck and kicked the door shut while juggling him and the bag. "Do you have your keys?" His head lolled back and his eyes fluttered for a moment before he reached his dangled hand around to his pockets. I already knew they were empty. Sighing heavily I leaned him on the building and swung the duffel around to dig into it. I felt around and finally found the jeans he must have been wearing into the gym. The keys were attached to a belt loop by a carabineer. Unsnapping them I worked my way through three keys before I found the correct one and finally had the door open. Awkwardly we both made our way through the door where we came into the foyer. I looked at the brass plate on the wall to our right and saw that room 23 was on the second floor of the building. My eyes narrowed at the stairs and then relief hit me when I saw the elevator. We trudged toward it and I jammed my thumb on the 'up' arrow. In his state his arm tightened around my neck and I felt a chill go up my back. When the elevator dinged he jumped and his eyes snapped open. He looked startled for a moment. Realizing his location he slumped back against me so I had to readjust him before he sent us both falling. After what seemed like an eternity on the elevator we finally made it to his door where it only took me two tries to get the right key. The apartment was pitch dark and I fumbled for a switch. I felt sweaty and achy already. It seemed the adrenaline was wearing off now. With no time to really familiarize myself with the surroundings I found my prize and the entranceway was lit enough for me to see into the living room and part of the kitchen. The duffel bag was quickly discarded and we stumbled forward together. After a brief round of 'eni meani minie moe' I led us down the right side of the apartment and into what was thankfully the master bedroom. I made a beeline for the bathroom and flicked the light on before setting him down on the toilet seat. He slumped back onto the seat. He was out again. I swiftly made my way back to the duffel and grabbed the entire thing hauling it into the bathroom with me. There I fished out the plastic bag that held my goodies. When I was done setting everything out of the counter I gingerly leaned him forward and pulled off his shirt. It was like picking up a sleeping cat. He was spilling everywhere and groaning.

Sorry, but it's got to be done.

I debated on taking his jeans off and then decided I might as well be thorough however when I reached his boxers I determined that that was thorough enough. His upper thighs had baseball size bruises on them. The contusions on his abdomen and neck were already turning shades of dark burgundy red. I knew these were the freshest ones. He also had greenish brown bruises littered here and there. They were older.

How many fights do you get into buddy?

I started by wetting a towel and wiping down his body. He would moan or hiss occasionally but otherwise remain silent. I found a bag of cotton balls and some Q-tips and went to work with the hydrogen peroxide. Once done I began to apply the ointment to his cuts. They were superficial and not deep at all. Only two required a bandage. I took in his appearance little by little now that I had a chance and he was a fine specimen. I didn't have much time to dwell on the finer points of his body however. He was extremely pail. He was sporting an eight pack and broad shoulders. He wasn't crazy built but his muscles were cut sharp. I notices the way his deltoids cut sharply into his triceps. His pecks looked smooth and pillowed but when I rubbed the cream over them they were rock solid. When I finished with his torso I leaned him forward and applied the salve to his back scratches.

Now I needed to fix up his head. I grabbed another wash cloth and wet it with warm water. As I leaned over him and began to gingerly wipe his face his hands shot up and grabbed me around my ribs. I froze and held stock still until he made another move. After about thirty seconds of stillness I began to move the towel over his cut brow. His face scrunched up but he never opened his eyes or moved his hands. He kept a steady pressure on me and didn't squeeze too hard. I felt that hum of current again but pushed it aside. I had a task and I was going to accomplish it. Once the dried blood was wiped away I grabbed the hydrogen peroxide and made sure to douse the cut on his cheek thoroughly and then patted it dry. The butterflies worked great on it. The one on his eyebrow was going to need to be stitched. I repeated the cleansing process on it and turned to the suture kit I had procured. Reading the directions over at least five times I removed the items and then thought better of doing it here like this. I assumed the position to pick him up and he again helped me raise him. I staggered a little then gained my balance. After what seemed like three turn rounds and almost dropping him twice I got him to the bed and had him under the covers. He sighed deeply and I couldn't help but smirk at his satisfaction. His breathing leveled out and I realized I had been staring at his face for almost a full minute. He really was breathtaking. His hair reminds me of a frayed copper wire. Shuffling back to the bathroom I snatch up the suture kit and settle myself down next to him on the large bed. The bedside lamp is enough to see by. His mouth had parted slightly and despite the swollen eye and cut up face he was beautiful. I was as gentle as possible with the stitching and made sure to keep her rows as straight as possible. Once I was done I tied it off and snipped the thread. Smiling at my handiwork I softly slid off the bed and made to clean up the bloody mess in the bathroom. After some digging I found a bottle of Aleve and set it next to the bed. I couldn't help but look at him a little while he slept. Jesus he was pretty.

Can guys be pretty? Yes, yes they can and he is so pretty.

I sighed and my hand seemed to reach out of its own accord towards his hair. I snatched it back before it could reach its destination.

He's asleep, he won't notice if you touch his hair. You know you want to. It looks so damn soft. Just one pass though it. Just one and we won't do it again.
My hand was already stretched back out toward him and as soon as my fingers weaved into his auburn locks I was stunned.

Mmmmm, it is as soft as it looks.

He hummed sleepily and rolled onto his side leaning into my touch and I yanked my hand back as if it were burned. I backed away from the bed and turned to leave the room before I did something else creepy.

Do I stay or do I leave now? He seems alright. He should be fine. But what if he doesn't know what happened to him? What if he freaks out when he can't figure out what happened to him? I'll just stay until he wakes up and I have a chance to explain what happened. Then I'll leave and it will be over. Jesus, I'm getting tired.
Before I hadn't had a chance to view his apartment however now looking at it, it was really nice. Come to think of it, the outside looked damn nice too. It was a two bedroom apartment from the looks of things with an open floor plan. It was pristine clean. There was a baby grand piano in the back corner of the living room, a black leather couch in the center which was fronted with a glass and rough iron coffee table. A large flat screen TV mounted to the wall was the only decoration besides the low shelving beneath it with assorted electronics on it. Against the back wall of the living room there was a sophisticated looking stereo and shelves upon shelves of CD's and vinyl records. The back wall of the apartment held large windows with billowy curtains. As I neared the kitchen I smelled something sour. When I saw the sink I understood why. There were dishes piled up to the point where they spilled out onto the counter tops. To Go boxes dominated the island. It was such a shame too because all the appliances looked new. All stainless steel and shiny. The stove didn't look like it had ever been used. There was a blender in the corner that seemed to be cultivating a new breed of mold. It was almost tied with the cup ofwell something that was wedged between the toaster and microwave. Without anything else to do I rolled my shoulders back and popped open his dishwasher noting that it smelled like plastic still and didn't seem to have ever had a load of dishes passed through it. I glanced around under the cabinets and found some Cascade that was conveniently brand new with the safety seal still on it. The sponges and brillo pads were still in the wrapping too. Before long I had whittled the mess down to nothing and listened with envy as the dishwasher made next to no noise as it ran. Upon further digging into this strange mans, I mean Edward's, apartment I found the trash bags and proceeded to chuck all the Styrofoam boxes. I opened his fridge and began to toss all the old fruits and veggies that seemed to be melting away in it. Once done with that I quietly tiptoed out of his apartment and down the hall to the garbage shoot. When I made my way back in I heard him shuffling around in the bedroom. Glancing at the hall clock I realized it was only five in the morning. It seemed like it should have been so much later.

Did it really only take two hours to get him back here and cleaned up?
I padded into the bedroom and noticed he had rolled over onto his other side. He was almost fetal under the comforter when I came near him. I tucked the blankets up around his body. After assuring myself that he had slept on his own for years now and more than likely wouldn't be rolling off the bed anytime soon I left for the living room. I had no idea when he would be awake but I decided he would need to eat when he did so I planned on leaving for the grocers around six. I sat back on his couch intending to wait for six to roll around when I caught sight of the books littered underneath the coffee table. I began to flip through one when I lost track of time and had to dash out of the apartment. The grocers was nearly deserted and the poor kid who was manning the counter looked as if he were going to pass out any second or at least fall back asleep as soon as I left. I chuckled at him while I grabbed a small basket and he smiled sheepishly at me. I started pulling items off the shelf and soon enough I had enough for a decent breakfast: a loaf of bread, a half gallon of milk, butter, eggs, cheese, side of bacon, carton of OJ. I paid for my things and left quietly. The sun was starting to mark the skyline and I frowned at the frizzy wisps of hair that floated into my vision.

I must look like hell.

By the time I made it back it was seven and I was starting to get lightheaded with fatigue. There was no way I was going to be able to make it through the day without a nap. Sighing, I entered the apartment silently and placed my goods on the kitchen countertop and sorted through them. I placed all the cold things in the fridge and put together a small bag of ice wrapped in a dishtowel before I began my journey into his bedroom. The more time I spent in this apartment the more I felt out of place. This wasn't my home, these weren't my things, that wasn't my kitchen, and this wasn't my bedroom I was walking towards. This man that I didn't even really know could have done any number of things. He could have been the first to attack someone else. He could hurt people. He could be a crazy lunatic. But I was committed to taking care of him so I would. I could see the room better now that sunlight was peeking around the thick forest green curtains. Funny how I hadn't noticed those before. I took in the surroundings of the room in better detail now that I wasn't worrying about him bleeding to death. The bed was a king with a large wrought iron headboard and footboard. I already knew the sheets were as soft as they looked. The room was just as simply furnished as the rest of the apartment and I assume that says a lot about this person. A long dark dresser lined the wall opposite the bed and a cushioned bench rested against the base of the bed. I crept up to the side of the bed and saw his sleeping face lying pressed into the pillow. His eye didn't seem to be too bad anymore. Much of the swelling had actually gone down since I washed it but it was still oddly puffy. I knew the cold compress would likely wake him but it was better to start it now than later when the swelling returned with a vengeance. I sat as daintily as I could beside him and reached over to lightly press the bundle of ice against his eye. He groaned and shifted but only slightly before stilling. I sat like that until the ice melted completely and I had to get more. He was so pretty. I mean he was handsome and good-looking, dashing, attractive, charming, brawny, exquisite, immaculate, strapping. And he was masculine. But in all my life I have never met a man I would call pretty and that's just what he was. He had this beauty about him. On my third bag of ice I noticed it was getting to be around nine o clock and his swelling was down to a reasonable level. From what I could see he should be able to open his eye some.

I should wake him soon. I need to be at work at 2.

I unloaded the dishwasher and placed put everything away guessing at their locations then preceded onto breakfast. I fixed up the eggs with the cheese, fried up the bacon, and toasted the bread lightly, spreading it with butter. I opted to pour a glass of orange juice and milk and if he didn't like either I would drink it. I couldn't find anything to use as a tray so I balanced the plate fork and glasses precariously and cautiously made my way to him. He was sprawled out now with his arms above his head and one of his legs bend up. He had the pillow mashed over his face. I grinned.

Seems like someone's feeling better.

I set the food down on the nightstand along with the glasses. He stirred slightly then again resumed his soft snores. I reached out and softly shook his shoulder.

After a few more useless shakes I grabbed the pillow and pulled it off his head. He grumbled but didn't wake up. I walked over to the window and threw the curtains open. I heard a hiss behind me.

That should do it.

"What the hell" "Well, good morning to you too." He looked confused as to why a woman was standing in his bedroom. Cautiously he lifted his bed sheets and looked down at his state of dress. I stifled a giggled and walked over to him with my hands held up in surrender. He looked at me like I was going to kill him. I smiled at him and pointed at the plate of food beside him. He looked at it strangely. "It's not poisoned. Promise." "Who are you and what are you doing in my apartment?" "What do you remember?" "Um" He rubbed the back of his neck and winced. His hand gingerly touched his face and he looked up at me startled. "I was at the gym. I just finished my training for the night. In the locker room" "Do you know who beat you up?" His face went from shock to pissed so fast I actually flinched a little. He stared down at his clenched fists then seemed to remember I was in the room. His head snapped up and he looked at me with the greenest damn eyes I had ever seen. He seemed to have settled back to shock. I smirked at him and handed him the plate of food. He looked at it dumbly before lifting the fork and eating a bite of the eggs. After the first tentative bite he dove into and cleaned the plate in less than five minutes. I chuckled at him and gestured toward the two glasses beside him and the Aleve.

"I didn't know if you prefer juice or milk so I brought both. I'll drink whatever you don't want." He grabbed the milk and Aleve. I took the juice and sipped on it while he downed three pills and finished the milk. I sat down next to him on the bed and took the plate and glass from him to set them back on the table. He watched every movement I made with measure. I started to feel a little self conscience about my appearance in front of this male god. He had the shit beat out of him and he makes it look like he's going in for a photo shoot. I wanted to bitch about it but stuffed those feelings down.

Make sure he is okay and go. Just check him over and tell him what happened and leave.
"I found you in the locker rooms this morning. You told me where you lived and I brought you back here and cleaned you up. Before you ask, nothing happened other than bandaging. I left your underwear on and I saw nothing. The only thing I think you have to worry about is that eye. I stitched up your eyebrow and I'm sorry if it's not the best work in the world but it's the best I could do." "Why didn't you take me to the hospital?" His voice had a hard edge to it. He seemed peeved at my presence. "You told me not to. You were veryadamant about 'no hospitals'." He had the decency to look sheepish at that and his voice was kind when he spoke next. "Thank you. For everything, I don't know how to repay you for what you've done." "I don't expect you to. Now that you're okay I'll be going unless you need anything. I have to go to work today." "Why were you in the locker rooms?" "I work at the gym." "No you don't." "I'm sorry?" "We'll I'm there everyday. I've never seen you before." "That's because I start today. Emmett showed me around yesterday." "Oh." "Yeah so.Look I don't have any sort of hidden agenda here so I'm going to go. I didn't take anything from your apartment. Clearly, you know where I work so its not like you won't be able to find me in case something appears to be missing. I'm really sorry about what happened and I hope that whoever did this to you gets what's coming to them." I stood to leave and he grabbed my arm.

There's that humming again.

"Wait do you have to go now?" "No, I suppose I don't. Did you need something else?" "Well now that you put it like that, no I don't. You've already done so much. I just wanted to talk to you. It seems like you have spent a good amount of time with me and I have no idea who you are. What's your name?" "Bella." "Edward." "I know." He smiled so I sat back down on the bed facing him. He leaned back against the headboard and just stared at me with this strange grin on his face. Normally I would be nervous about someone openly staring and smiling at me however I couldn't feel any unease around him. It just seemed like something he did. The grin turned into a smug smile and I realized I was staring openly back at him. As if it were timed my face flamed and I looked down at my lap. "What time do you have to be at the gym?" "Two." "Plenty of time for us to get to know each other then." "Umwhy?" "I would think it would be appropriate for me to want to get to know the woman that saved my life." "I didn't save your life. You would have been fine there. It would have probably sucked a lot to wake up on a cold, disgusting, locker room, floor but

you would have survived. You don't strike me as the wilting flower type." He chuckled and then grimaced while clutching his side. I felt for him. He composed himself quickly enough and shrugged it off as if it were a normal occurrence to be in pain like that. "Will you do me a favor though?" He quirked an eyebrow at me and I shrugged my shoulders. "Since I saved your life an all" "Alright, what is it?" "Will you promise to stay in bed and take it easy for a day? I know you said you go to the gym everyday but honestly there is no way you should be going anywhere today." "I'll consent to your promise on one condition." "What?" "You come back here after work and talk to me some more." Well that was rather blunt. No beating around a bush on that one. He seemed so sure of himself when he made the statement. "Why?" "Because I enjoy your company. Do you have other plans?" "No, not at all, I just don't understand why you would want me to come back." "Why did you help me in the gym? Like you said, I would have been fine." "Because you needed me." The answer popped out of my mouth before I could filter it and I grabbed the dishes quickly to rush out of the room. I rinsed them off in the sink and placed them in the dishwasher. I heard his heavy steps on the hardwood floors and he came into the kitchen. He had put on a pair of grey sweats but didn't put on a shirt. I gaped at his chest. Jesus he wasamazing. I had no other word to supplement the feel I was getting in the pit of my stomach. The way his abs flexed as he took a step. The way his pecs and shoulder muscles flexed when he moved his arms. Jesus I felt like I was molesting him by just looking. "You didn't have to clean my kitchen. Jesus, I feel horrible now. Not only do you drag my sorry ass back here and fix me up you cleaned up my kitchen." "It really isn't a big deal. I just have a clean kitchen complex. I apologize if I overstepped any boundaries by cleaning up. I really do have to get to work now." "You can use the bathroom to clean up if you want I don't mind. It's the least I could do for you." Actually getting clean sounded amazing and I couldn't very well make myself feel guilty about it. Technically it was kinda his fault I got all sweaty and dirty. I smiled brightly at him and nodded my head. "Thank you. I'll be quick I promise." "Please, take your time." He smiled back at me and padded out into the living room. I went out to my truck and dug my own duffle bag out from under the bench and tossed it over my shoulder. I needed to do laundry soon. I gripped the bag and took the stairs instead of the elevator. Once inside I shuffled into the bathroom and locked the door. I stared at the shower with what I'm sure was a look that said I wanted to rape it. I stripped down hastily and stepped under the spray. It was heaven. I hadn't had a real shower in days. I sighed and proceeded to wash myself as thoroughly as possible. The shower seemed to relax me and wake me up at the same time and for that I was grateful. Once I was done I changed into a pair of comfy jeans and an old t-shirt. Emmett had gym employee shirts for me anyway so it really didn't matter. I stuffed my toiletries back into the duffel and headed out to say goodbye to Edward. He was still on the couch watching TV. At my appearance he sat up and waved me over. I stood awkwardly next to him and he seemed just as uncomfortable as I did which made me feel better about the whole thing. "So you'll come back when you're done at the gym?" "Will you stay here and rest today?" "Yes." "Then, yes." A full out smile lit his face and I beat down the fifteen year old girl inside of me so she wouldn't squeal. I smiled back at him, perhaps a little late but I managed to get it out and began to back towards the door. With every step back I took he took one forward. I felt the doorknob press into my hip

and jumped. He chuckled at me and I blushed. "Well, umm. Do you need me to bring anything when I come later on tonight?" "Nope, just you." I nodded and ducked my head before turning and flying out the door. I heard his laughter fading down the hall as I flew down the stairs. There was something about him. Something I couldn't put my finger on but something told me that he wanted more than just some chit chat later on. yes?no?maybe so?

*Chapter 2*: Converting Anger into Love

Lyrics are from The First Taste Fiona Apple and are bold and italicized.

Regular italics are thoughts.



I lie in an early bed Thinking late thoughts Waiting for the black To replace my blue

I made it to the gym thirty minutes early which made me do a little happy dance at being on time. Emmett was all grins and smiles when he tossed me five gray shirts with 'The Ring' emblazoned on the backside. I couldn't help but smile back at him. He was just so infectious. I decided to leave out the incident I encountered this morning. If Edward wanted him to know he could tell him. It wasn't my business really.

But you want it to be.

My drive to the gym was internally eventful. I couldn't get Edward out of my head. He wasinteresting.

Yes, interesting. That's the word. Don't you mean smoking hot?
I had to roll my eyes at myself on that one.

Smoking hot? Really? Literature major, and 'smoking hot' is what you come up with? What happened to all those adjectives from earlier?
My mind kept replaying the whole encounter from the time he woke up to the time I left. At the time he was hurt and I had failed to realize his physical appearance however after he was conscious I started to pick up on the things I had missed before. The way he stalked toward me with that look of mischief in his eyes. The way he looked at me when I came out into the living area. Of course he would be looking at me like that, he saw me ogling him in the kitchen. He probably saw the effect he had on me. Stupid, sexy beat up, jerk. I was reading too far into things. I knew that, during the entire thought process of Edward I knew I was reading much too far into it. I wanted to see something and that was dangerous. I couldn't afford to get into anything with anyone. He was grateful for my help. That's all. I have no way of interpreting his behavior because I don't know him. Again the last thought I had when leaving the apartment building came back to me. He wants more than chit chat. What does he want? Sex? I wanted to scream by the time I reached the gym parking lot. Honestly, I knew I wasn't bad looking. I was just average. Not ugly but not pretty. I was justme. Brown hair, brown eyes, deathly pale and justaverage. Nothing remarkable about my appearance and honestly I preferred it that way. I hated being the center of attention. I liked blending it. And at the same time I felt like I wanted him to notice me for anything other than what I was. I wanted to be special to someone. Even if I couldn't afford it.

But attracting attention is what got you into this mess in the first place remember?
I sighed at myself and went to work on the tasks that Emmett had given me. By four I had swept the annex, vacuumed the offices and windexed all the windows. The gym was in full swing when I had arrived and the steady flow of patrons had not ceased quite yet. I was in the middle of collecting the trash in the locker rooms when I heard them come in. "I wonder if Masen will show today." "Nah, man we beat his ass good last night. I bet he's in the hospital. I know he had to have some internal bleeding going on after the punches I threw." "No one said anything about finding him in here. His shit was gone when I was here this morning too." "You came in this morning?" "Yeah, I was getting kinda nervous about the whole thing. I made it in around eight. His shit was gone and I know if someone found him in here they would have been talking about it. The thing was his car was still in the lot." "No shit. He probably walked home. I mean, I don't think he lives far." "I don't know man, but seriously, what if he is up. What if he tells someone it was us?" "Nah, he won't say shit. Masen's not a tattle tale. He's got too big of an ego to say anything about getting the shit beat out of him." "But if he is okay, he'll want to get back at us"

"And we beat his ass last night, he can't take us both." "Oh, yeah, that makes me feel loads better, 'cause we're together all the time. Shit, this was a bad idea. He's going to get us back. Fuck, I shouldn't have let you talk me into this." "Whatever Tyler, you know what King said. He needed it done. Stop being a pussy. Masen's not going to say shit and he's not going to be in any shape for the upcoming match. We did our job." I heard a locker slam shut, snapping me out of my stupor, and by the time I could make my brain function again all I could see was red.

They had ganged up on him. They came after him on purpose.

I felt the bile rise up my throat and the urge to wretch was powerful. My knuckles were aching around the plastic bag in my hands. The trash. I was taking out the trash. But I couldn't just let it go. In my mind all I could process was that this was an injustice. It had hit closer to me because I had picked him up off the floor. I had cleaned his wounds. I had cared for him. I knew how badly it hurt. In the back of my mind I scoffed at them. Internal bleeding? He was banged up sure, and that lack on his eye was pretty deep but he would have been fine on his own. They should have done a better job if they wanted him to be out of commission. The 'better judgment' part of my brain was still MIA when I rounded the corner and made my presence known. I saw to men standing there. It was just us in the locker rooms. One was tall with dirty blonde hair. He was pretty scrawny compared to Edward and in my mind I at least had the decency to be rueful in the fact that I was now comparing other men to him. The other had dark brown hair and was just as gangly. I was suddenly struck by the thought that these two men were able to beat Edward up. They looked strong sure, but Edward looked like he would surely have been able to take them. Then I remembered the cuts over Edwards back and his face. They must have used something else besides their fists. I'm sure I looked pissed. I could feel the heat rising to me face and for once it wasn't from embarrassment but from anger. Pure rage was flowing through me. I stalked over to them and rolled my shoulders back before I began my rant. "You! It was you two who did that to him! You pathetic cowards! How could you? What the hell did he do to you? Huh? You left him here bleeding! Oh, and by the way, he's fine! And I'm sure when he finds you later he'll be returning the favor! It's pretty fucking pathetic that you both had to gang up on him. You should be ashamed of yourselves!" They looked stricken and I felt a surge of satisfaction lick at my nerves. Good. The dark haired one had the decency to look scared. The blonde just looked pissed and a little worried.

Cats out of the bag now, fucker. You're going down.

"And just what are you going to do about it sweetheart?" The blonde one was really asking for it. "I'm going to go inform my boss that there are two shit faced cowards in the locker rooms who just admitted to beating the hell out of another one of his customers. I'm going to tell him exactly what I heard and then I'm going to tell Edward exactly what I heard." The dark haired fucker just started to back away towards the door. The blonde on the other hand began to advance on me. That's when my 'better judgment' kicked into overdrive from its sleeping state and told me to get the fuck out of there and fast. I backed up and hit the trash can.

Shit, I'm cornered.

"Lock the door Tyler, I think we need to teach this little peach a lesson. I have just the thing too. I'm going to teach you exactly how to use that dirty little mouth of yours." This was not good. Not good at all. He grabbed my arm and yanked me hard. I got a sick feeling in my stomach and immediately my mind when to Phil and the reasons why I had left my mother without an explanation of my departure. I landed roughly against the bench and brought my left hand up to hit him but he was faster than I was. Honestly, I doubted it would have done much but it was worth a shot. He was gripping me tightly and I knew I should at least have the smarts to scream. But the sound was stuck in my throat. The pressure was caught just beneath my vocal box, refusing to come out. The malicious look in his eyes was a far cry from the look Edward had given me when I left his morning and again in the midst of all of this I was thinking of Edward. His eyes. "Hold her arms Tyler." The little shit was smart enough to hesitate before complying. I actually felt a little sorry for him. He really didn't seem like he wanted to do these things. He seemed genuinely remorseful. But he did participate and my pity was wiped away. I felt the tears start to build up and cursed myself for this show of weakness. This was not happening. This cannot be happening. They could not be doing this, not after hurting him. "Mike, let's go. Let's just leave right now. This is getting out of hand. She's a girl, man!" "Fuck that, she needs a lesson taught to her. Now you listen to me you little bitch. What happened last night is none of your fucking business and you aren't going to breathe a word of it to anyone. I'm going to show you how you should use that pretty little mouth and trust me when I say it has

nothing to do with speaking and everything to do with sucking." He reached into his shorts and pulled out his erection while grabbing a fistful of my hair. How sick do you have to be to get off on doing shit like this? My tears were coming harder now and I briefly thought of how stupid he was being.

Did he honestly think he could shove that thing in my mouth and not get it bitten off? Really?
Before I could find out if he was there was banging on the locker room door. That's when the scream finally made itself known. And I screamed, bloody fucking murder. I saw the wood splinter around the dead bolt as Emmett came hurtling into the room with a blonde man right behind him. There were onlookers standing out around the door watching the show. Tyler released my arms so fast I slid off the bench and hit the floor hard. My hip was going to smart for that later. Mike couldn't get his pants up before Emmett punched him in the face. The blonde man snatched me up off the floor and held me to his chest. I was beyond the point of caring. He was safe and that was all I cared about. He was stopping the men who beat Edward, and from hurting me so I buried myself into him and shook. His lanky arms wrapped around my torso and pulled me back against the lockers shielding me from what was happening around me. I heard people shouting but for the life of me I couldn't make sense out of any of it. I realized in a split second that I was being childish. I had just stood up for someone else and now I was cowering away from it. Nothing even really happened to me. Putting my 'brave face' back on I pushed myself off of my savior and furiously wiped my tears away. The man who was holding me tried to grab me again and usher me out of the room but I resisted his efforts and shook my head. I took in the scene around me and saw that Emmett had decked Mike into unconsciousness while Tyler was being held against the lockers by two other men I didn't know. Emmett stood over Mike, his shoulder heaving and a deadly look on his face. He turned to Tyler so fast my eyes crossed trying to follow the movement. "What the fuck were you thinking? In my fucking gym? Are you out of your fucking mind?" I suddenly felt the words bubbling up and out of me before I could sensor them. Traumatic experiences made verbal filters disappear apparently. "They beat Edward. They ganged up on him last night and left him here. I over heard them saying that they beat him up last night and left him here." Emmett turned his raging eyes at me and I flinched. His look softened and he was in front of me in two long strides. "Are you okay? Jesus, your arms are bruising already." It was as if my words didn't even register with him. "I'm fine. I knew I should have told you about this when I came in. I mean that I found Edward in here this morning, but I didn't think it was my place to say anything." "Wait, you found Edward in here this morning?" There it is, now he's with me. "Yeah, he was passed out right over there. He was bleeding and cut up pretty bad." The blonde man was rifling through the duffel bags on the bench and in his impatience he flipped them over and emptied them out. I heard a metal clanking and it brought my attention to him immediately. On the ground was a large set of brass knuckles. Now that just pissed me off. Not only did they gang up on him they didn't fight fair. That's what made those cuts. It make sense, they were so consistent. Slimy, ass-faced mother fuckers. I turned my gaze onto Tyler. He looked so pale I thought he was going to just fade into the gray lockers behind him. Emmett looked like he was going to shit a cow. Mike was regaining consciousness.

I would stay down if I were you.

Emmett's voice was controlled when he spoke but the malice that laced them made me shiver. "Jasper, take her to the office and make sure she's okay. I'll be in, in a minute." Suddenly I was being steered out of the locker room and down the hallway into the back offices by the man I know knew was Jasper. As the locker room door shut I heard Tyler begging. "You said you found Edward in the locker rooms this morning. Where is he now?" "He's at his apartment. I took him there when I found him. I cleaned him up and made sure he was okay before I left." "What were his injuries, can you tell me?" "Um, yeah. His left eye was swollen up pretty badly and he had a gash over the eyebrow. There were bruises over his ribs and in some spots he had cuts. They were all the same size and now that I know they were using those brass knuckles it makes sense. I can't believe I didn't think of that before. He didn't have trouble breathing. His nose didn't look like it had been hit at all. He had bruises around his shoulders and neck. Those were the worst." Jasper's eyes were boring into my own and I felt uncomfortable under his gaze. He looked pissed and while I knew he wasn't angry at me it still made me feel like something was my fault. He was emitting rage and I could feel it rolling off him. I averted my gaze and stared intently at my shoes. "Look, I know I should have said something to Emmett this morning about finding him, but I honestly thought it wasn't any of my business and I didn't

know if Edward wanted anyone to know so I" "I understand why you didn't say anything. I'm not upset with you at all. Thank you for helping him. You didn't have to do that. Now, I want you to tell me what you heard them say in the locker rooms." His voice was kind so I looked up at him and he seemed to have softened down. "Okay. Um, well I didn't know what they were talking about at first so I didn't pay much attention until I heard the blonde one, Mike, say that he beat someone in there last night so bad that he was probably in the hospital. I realized it was Edward. They said something about how he wasn't going to be able to fight in an upcoming match. He was bragging about him having internal bleeding. I know he didn't, I mean, he wasn't spitting up blood or anything and there wasn't any bad swelling on him that indicated otherwise. I got so pissed off I just went off on them. They didn't know I was there. Then Mike said he was going to teach me a lesson about talking shit. Oh! And they mentioned something about a king telling them to do that." "Shit. Are you sure? You heard them say King?" "Yeah, why?" "Uh, nothing. Look I'm sure Emmett's going to give you the rest of the day off so why don't you just go home and gets some rest. I'm sure after all that shit that went down you're a little frazzled. Do you need anything?" "No, I'm alright and honestly I need the hours so I would rather stay for the rest of the day." "Like hell you're staying you're going home." Emmett had entered the room. His normally loud boisterous voice was low and threatening and Jasper gave him a reprimanding look. Emmett sighed and shook his head with what I'm sure was an attempt to shake himself of his anger. "I'm sorry, Bella. Look I would rather you went home. I'll even pay you for the rest of the day. If you want you can have tomorrow off as well. I am so sorry about" "Emmett, really, I'm fine. Nothing happened in there. You arrived just in the nick of time. I don't need the day off and I will be here tomorrow." "No, you're taking the rest of the day off. That's final. I'll concede to have you back tomorrow but for today you are going home. Despite the fact that they didn't get very far, they still hurt you. You need some time to sort through this. I need to know that you are going to be okay." His voice was so sincere that for the second time today I thought I might cry. No one had ever spoken to me like that before. Suddenly I realized there was a lot more to Emmett than just his large muscles and little boy behavior. He was a sweet guy underneath everything. I launched myself at him quickly and he hugged me hard. Under normal circumstances I liked my space and don't really do the whole hugging thing but under the conditions I needed the hug and it seemed that Emmett did too. I heard Jasper clear his throat behind us and Emmett slowly placed me back down on the ground. I hadn't realized that he had lifted me up. I smiled at him, all watery and sniffling. He brushed the tears off my face and kissed my forehead. "Go home, sleep, relax and come back tomorrow. If you have any problems, if anyone bothers you, call me right away, do you understand me? Don't try anything on your own." I giggled at his mock stern tone and nodded my head. His face broke out into a smile and he stepped back to look at Jasper. I turned at hugged Jasper because I was obviously still feeling generous today with affection. He hugged me back gently but securely. "Thank you for helping me back there. It means a lot to me." I whispered into his chest. "Hey, anyone would have done the same." His voice was just as soft and I heard the southern lilt of his accent wash over my razzed nerves. He really was a soothing person when he wanted to be. "No, they wouldn't." I smiled up at him and backed away. "Thank you both. Edward wanted me to check back with him when I got off work so I guess I'll go over there and see if he's alright." They looked at each other for a moment before staring back at me blankly. Suddenly I felt the heat rise to my face.

Did I say something wrong?

"I mean, if you don't think that's a good idea then I won't bother him. I figure he's probably resting so maybe it isn't a good idea" "No, no if he asked you back you should go. He needs someone to take care of his sorry ass anyway. Just tell him to call us and let us know how he is. He should have done so already." Jasper reassured me. "Okay, well I'll see you guys tomorrow I guess." I exited the office and crossed the annex. Guys all around the room stopped to look at me and my blush betrayed me yet again. I made it to my truck in record time and hopped into the cab. It was hot out today and the muggy weather began to frizz my hair out quickly. Sighing I started the truck up and blasted the AC. After a few moments of driving my insecurity decided to make an appearance and I doubted whether or not I should go back and check on Edward or not. It was this horrible feeling of supposed rejection that coursed through me.

What if he slams the door shut in my face? What if he regrets asking me back? What if he doesn't like me and he just feels obligated to take an interest in the person who helped him out?

I was dizzy with questions on my adequacy by the time I pulled up to his apartment. The words 'average' and 'plain' running through my head. While sitting in the cab and letting the cold air dissipate around me I checked my appearance in the rearview mirror and popped a piece of gum in my mouth. I sat in the truck for at least fifteen minutes before I mustered enough courage to get out and walk up to the building.

The worst that could happen is he could slam the door shut in your face. Seriously, it's not like you have anywhere else to go at this point. The highlight of your day is going to be sleeping in your truck. Just give it a chance.
Every step up to the second floor seemed to get heavier and heavier the higher I got and by the time I was in front of his door I started to panic again. Jesus, you're 21 not 12. This is not middle school. I knocked timidly and hoped that he wouldn't hear it. That way I could leave and pretend that this never happened. However my plan didn't work out quite like I had hoped because the door whipped open a few seconds later to reveal my current emotional tormentor. And he was geared to torment. At first I was shocked at how quickly the door opened. Then I was shocked at the half naked man standing in front of me in nothing but a towel.

SMOKIN' HOT! Shut up and buy a thesaurus!

I gulped and stepped back. He seemed just as surprised to see me as I was him. He had a toothbrush hanging out of his mouth, one hand on the doorknob and the other holding the towel around his waist. We were just standing there, shocked at each other.

5 second.
Still just standing. Still shocked.

8 seconds.
His jaw closed. I looked down at the floor

10 seconds.
I felt his hand trace over my arm.

13 seconds.
I looked up into his eyes. He looked pissed.

15 seconds.
I was yanked into the apartment. I do not struggle in your web Because it was my aim to get caught I heard the door kick shut behind me as I was ushered into the living room. He stomped into the kitchen and I heard the faucet run before he returned with the clean toothbrush still in his hand. "What the hell happened to you, Bella?" His voice was harsh and accusatory. I looked at him strangely for a second. How the hell did he know something happened? Then I saw him boring holes into my arms and looked down to see what had caught his attention. Jesus, Emmett was right, I was bruising already. There were red blotches all over my pail skin and my left forearm was darkening in the shape of a hand. Edward took three steps toward me and stopped just close enough to brush his fingers over my arm. He stared intently at the marks and I didn't know exactly what to say. My voice was lost again somewhere in my throat. It was afraid to come out and embarrass me. So I did the next best thing. I shook my head. He looked up at me for a moment and his eyes pierced into me. He really looked pissed off. Today was turning out to be a doozy. I was exhausted mentally and physically. As if by realizing that little tid-bit of information, my voice returned to me and my gaping mouth had a purpose. "Nothing happened. I just had a little run in. I'm fine. I got off work early and thought I would come visit you for a minute like you asked. You know make sure you were keeping up your part of the bargain." My attempt at humor failed and his frown seemed to deepen. Even in his sullen state he still looked damn good. He just put his hands on his hips and darted his eyes from my arms to my eyes as if trying to determine the truth of my words from the physical evidence. "What kind of 'run in'?" I was being childish when I refused to answer. So he prodded again "Bella?"

"It was nothing alright? It's over now, I'm here. So what exactly are you planning on doing with me?" The verbal diarrhea poured out of my mouth before I could contain it and I blushed at the double entendre of my words. He just smirked at me and held up one finger in a gesture for me to give him a moment. I nodded and he walked past me into his bedroom. Abruptly, I had a dire fascination with the water drops that were littered on his back and glistening in the sunlight. Damn, his back looks good. A moment later he retuned wearing a pair of jeans and a black wife beater that accentuated his muscular arms. The hem pooled around his waist and I just knew underneath that shirt that those jeans were hanging low enough to show his lean hips and that happy trail to joy land. "I wanted to talk to you about what happened this morning but right now I want you to tell me what the hell happened to your arms. Don't give me anymore 'run in' bullshit either." Okay, while it's awfully sweet that he is worried about my well being, I really didn't like the tone of voice. So I bristled. "Look, I appreciate the concern but I'm fine and what is done is done so there is no reason for you to be concerned with it." He glared at me and I could see the muscles in his shoulders and neck strain. I heard his breathing draw out as he pinched the bridge of his nose and squeeze his eyes shut. My anger began to bubble out as well. He was treating me like a child who got caught doing something wrong. And I was about to tell him so when he spoke first. "You were at the gym today?" "Yes, I told you earlier I work there now." This line of questioning was redundant but before I could ask him why the hell he was asking me something he already knew, it clicked in my head as he reached for the phone on his sofa table. He smiled a sweet smile at me and pushed the buttons without looking at them. I opened my mouth to speak, to object or maybe distract him but he was already speaking into the receiver. "Emmett? Hey, it's Edward. Yeah, hey Bella, the girl whowhat? I'm fine. Did she now? Uh huh. Yea I knew it was them. She's here now. They what? Wait, slow down, what? Are you fucking kidding me?" I cringed. Surely this was the part where Emmett told him about the confrontation in the locker rooms. Edward's eyes snapped up to my face and he glared at me hard. Then his eyes went to my arms and I had to admit he really was frightening when he was mad. I backed up until I hit the door frame to the kitchen. He uh huh'd and yeah'd a few more times before he bid Emmett a goodbye and when the beep of the phone informed me that he was disconnected I cringed again. Lightly, he tossed the phone onto the couch and advanced toward me. "Is that was you consider a 'run in'? Jesus, Emmett said Mike was about to fucking rape you in there! What the hell is wrong with you? 'Run in' my ass!" "He wasn't going to rape me he was going to stick" Okay so that clearly was going to make things worse. By judging the paling on his face it already did. "Look, I'm sorrythatthat was uncalled for and I'm fine, really. I don't want to argue about this with you. I'm not a child and I'm certainly not your responsibility so please stop acting that way. I just came to see if you were okay and you are so I'm going to go now." If at all possible he seemed to just get angrier. I couldn't move away from the door jamb if I wanted to. His gaze had pinned me into place and would not allow any movement whatsoever. This increased agitation only fueled my anger at the injustice of being treated like a baby. For once in my life I was not going to run away from this. I was not going to allow another man to make me feel like less than I really was. My chin jutted out and I glared right back at him. But daddy longlegs, I feel that I'm finally growing weary Of waiting to be consumed by you He seemed to take these actions as a gauntlet being thrown down because he started his advance on me. If he wanted to intimidate me into being quiet he was doing a damn good job of things. I wasn't intimidated per se, but the mixture of his demanding presence and his scent wafting over me did the job of shutting me the hell up. He smelled spicy.

Like cinnamon. His hair looks like cinnamon. He has such amazing hair. And his chest looks so yummy.
At the descriptive word 'yummy' my mind snapped back to attention and I resumed my glare. Now I was just pissed that he had that affect on me. "Here, let me check out your cuts, I'm sure you can't see the ones on your back. And I should probably rinse out your eyebrow again with that peroxide." While the statement was made to be pacifying it came out a little harsher than I had intended. "Uh, Uh. No, you are going to tell me what happened. Everything. Then you're going to let me look you over." His voice was demanding, controlling, deep and soft all at the same time. His shoulders caved forward and his hands clenched into fists as he stalked toward me slowly as if he were savoring my squirming. "You already know what happened. I'm fine. No blood or open wounds on my body. Maybe you got hit harder on the head than you thought. I'm pretty sure I've reiterated that fact enough." At this he bristled and I smirked at the small victory I was handed for getting under his skin for a change. He took his last step and towered over me. I felt his minty breath wash over my face and in my nervousness I swallowed my gum. Thankfully I didn't choke on it but I'm sure my eyes widened on the feel of it sliding down my throat.

He leaned his head down and bent his knees until he was eye level with me. He still looked angry with me but he seemed to be reining it in. I inhaled sharply because honestly his smell and presence was just befuddling the fuck out of me and I was struggling to understand why the hell he had this effect on me now of all times.

Why couldn't I realize I was physically attracted to him earlier? When I would have had time to devise some sort of plan against such attacks.
I again thought back to how his presence had invaded my thoughts earlier on in the day when I was confronted with Mike and Tyler in the gym and how his actions had stayed with me even then in those moments of distress. Never have I ever had anyone own this much power over my thoughts. And with that realization the pissed off air around us changed and suddenly electricity was crackling around me. Around us. A thick emotion was being conveyed between the breadth of space linking our faces and as I discovered the change it seemed he did as well because suddenly the irritation and impatience in his eyes melted away and determination shone through. His arms rose up and one hand braced the molding around the door jamb while the other he placed palm flat against my head. It was so close to my head that if I turned to my right my nose would brush it. His eyes watched my face intently as he leaned forward and kissed me lightly. Give me the first taste, let it begin heaven cannot wait forever darling, My eyes slipped shut of their own accord and I froze. Suddenly, as if a rubber band had snapped I pressed just as softly against him. Then the dam broke and his hands palmed my face while I felt him press his mouth against mine fully and roughly. My arms whipped up to grasp his neck softly. At least somewhere in my mind I realized that he was injured. Soon I felt his tongue licking at my upper lip and my body disregarded my mind's screaming protests because I fucking wanted this to happen more than I wanted to breathe. I opened my mouth to him and suddenly our anger was back and I wanted to dominate in this game of will. He seemed to want it just as much as I did. It was heated and needy and rough and soft all at once. His knee separated my legs while his hip ground into my center and I felt the delicious friction appeasing my desires. I wrapped my arms around his neck and pressed myself closer to him. My chest mashed into his and his left hand drifted down to press at the small of my back seeming to want me closer to him as well. His right hand threaded into my hair and pulled my head to the side where he began to leave hot kisses down my neck. The sucking and licking was driving me crazy. Panting and moaning like a sex deprived teenager I gripped onto him harder. My hands slid down his chest and he hissed when I put pressure over some of his injured areas. When I reached the hem of his shirt I slipped them under and ran over his abs softly before running them back up, taking the shirt with them. He pulled away and yanked the shirt off himself and quickly resumed his attack on my mouth. I moaned and he slid his hands under my shirt to cup my breasts. While I was sure I still had some form of reason to be able to stop this before it got out of hand he squeezed firmly and his hip gyrated into my core once more, effectively eliminating anything inside me that wanted this to stop before I was completely satisfied. Because sweet Jesus I needed the release now and he was going to give it to me. Just start the chase I'll let you win but you must make the endeavor I writhed against his thigh and he took it as a good sign because my shirt was deftly pulled over my head and suddenly his mouth had latched onto my nipple over the cloth cup of my bra. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I knew I should have been concerned with the fact that I was wearing a plain white bra and that was not at all sexy but I just couldn't make sense of that right now. I was just eternally grateful for the shower this morning where I was able to shave the stubble off my armpits and legs. I threw my head back only to have it thud against the wall. I couldn't even pretend to be embarrassed about it though because as if it were a indication to him he grabbed my thighs firmly in his hands and hoisted me up around his torso, never taking his mouth off my chest. As my body lifted against his I felt his arousal against me. My arms wrapped around his shoulders in an effort to stay pressed against him. He trailed up to my shoulder and grunted into the skin there as he turned and stalked toward the bedroom. Oh, your love gives me a heart contusion Adagio breezes fill my skin with sudden red Your hungry flirt borders intrusion When the bed came into my view it was as if I was slapped and the sudden realization of what we were about to do hit me full force. My voice was breathless as I spoke. "Wait, are you sure this is good idea, you're hurt." He dropped me on the bed and pulled the straps of my bra down while settling himself between my legs. As his lips came into contact with my collar bone he murmured against my skin. "Do you want to stop?" He was just as breathless as I was. "No, but" "I don't either. I want you, right now." And that was the queue for my rational mind to shut the fuck up and just let it go. I moaned when his mouth found my pulse point and sucked. And damn did he suck hard. His hands snaked around my back and found the clasp on my bra, neatly unhooking it and pulling the offending garment off me. My breath stuttered when the cool air hit my chest and my nipples puckered harder. He placed his hands on my ribs and leaned back to look down at what he had revealed. I sucked in a breath and watched his face for his reaction. His eyes were half lidded and just as lust filled as I'm sure mine own were.

"Jesus." And that was all he said before descending upon my breasts and lavishing attention on the aching tips. My back arched and I pressed myself closer to him while gripping onto his sleek mop of hair. He ground into me and I was quickly gasping for more.

Christ, what the hell was happening to me? I'm building memories On things we have not said Full is not heavy as empty, not nearly my love, not nearly my love, not nearly. EPOV
When I woke up this morning and saw her standing in front of my window I was confused. When I looked down at myself in only my boxers I was really confused. Then when she handed me a plate of food I thought I might actually go to the hospital to have my head checked. When I remember what had happened the night before I felt the anger licking my insides and quickly pushed it down. She helped me; there was no reason to show my anger in front of her. I ate the food and honestly it was fucking tasty. She explained to me how she had gotten me back into my apartment and tended to me when I was passed out and I felt like shit for questioning why she didn't take me to the hospital. I was glad she didn't but still it seemed like something a normal person would have done. I should have known even in a semi-conscious state I would have told her not to take me there. Then when she said she had to leave I panicked. I wanted her to stay. Why? I had no idea, just that I needed her to stay. Honestly, I had never felt that way about anyone before so when she asked me to do her a favor and stay in bed today and take it easy I felt the ice around my heart melt at her concern and used the request in my favor at having her come back. It seemed that fate had picked today of all days for her to rescue me from my life. Today I was 26. And as the only gift to myself I was bold in asking her to come back when she was done with work. Just when I thought I couldn't want to get to know this woman anymore than I already did she went ahead and made another crack at my walls when she told me she helped me because I needed her. Normally I would have scoffed at any statement that said I was weak but the way she said itthe softness of her voice when she let it slip, and she did let it slip because her face flamed and she scurried off to the kitchen with my empty plate, the softness told me she didn't think I was weak. That her motivation to help me was because she was genuinely a caring person. She would have helped anyone in that situation. I offered her my bathroom and she gratefully accepted. I was thankful for that because honestly the fact that she had cleaned my fucking nasty ass kitchen was astounding.

Who the hell is this girl? Why the hell am I lucky enough to be in her presence?
While she was getting cleaned up I flipped on the TV and thought back on what the hell happened the night before and quickly dismissed the thoughts because I didn't want to get worked up before she left and scare her. She was nervous when it came time to leave and she seemed to want a certain distance between us at all times and that's when I realized that I had the same effect on her that she had on me. I couldn't stop my laughter when she was so damn adorable and raced down the hall as if to get away from the big bad wolf. My shower smelled like strawberries. It felt good to smell her in there; it was soothing. It made it like I wasn't alone under the pounding spray. The heat of the water loosened my sore muscles and made the bruises feel a lot better. I hadn't expected her so early and I opened the door to find her standing there awkwardly while my eyes honed in onto the bruises on her arms. I was so focused on them and the fact that I knew they hadn't been there this morning; I left the poor girl standing outside my door for some time before pulling her into the apartment. Her denial at telling me what happened to her pissed me off. She could help me but not the other way around? And who the hell leaves bruises on a girl like that? She was too small and fragile to hurt; intentionally or not. As she continued to deflect my questions I studied the bruises and noticed the familiar shape of a hand surfacing. Its presence was fueling my fire. It dawned on me that if she got into something at the gym Emmett would know. She gawked at me while I dialed the gym's number so I smiled at her because I was winning this little fight and once I assured Emmett that I wasn't going to die anytime soon he filled me in on what happened to Bella. The powerful urge to hit something overcame me and I had to grit my teeth in order to assuage the feeling to chuck the phone at the wall. After I hung up I advanced on her. She was hiding things from me already and the kicker is that if I were her I would have done the same exact damn thing because I really didn't like people thinking I couldn't handle myself. But frankly she couldn't handle herself and if Emmett and Jasper had not stepped in when they did she might not be here now. And that pissed me off. So as we verbally sparred and glared each other down; I found myself closing the distance between us because while she was infuriating she was so damn beautiful when she was pissed off. I knew exactly why she was pissed. I was treating her like a child and truthfully she was acting like one. But once I had her pinned against the wall I wasn't angry anymore. I wanted her. I needed to have her. To own that fire in her eyes and possess it because it was possessing me. And these thoughts all bring me to the present where I am lying between her legs and grasping the heavenly weight of her breasts in my hands as I give them the attention they rightfully deserve. The urge to own her, every inch, to mark her, taste her, have her was overwhelming. It narrowed down my world into basic instincts. My skin was tingling with arousal and I was harder than I had ever been. The need for her was something so foreign and wonderful because I had never had the want to own anyone like I wanted to own her. She was pulling me into her slowly, inch by inch and I

willing went into it with my eyes wide open because it felt so fucking good to just want this. Was this happening much too fast? Yes. Was I sure about everything concerning this decision to couple myself with her? No. But did it matter so much as long as she wanted it too? Did it matter if it felt so right? Her moans were spurring me on so I reached my hand down between us to palm her sex and I moaned in response when I felt the heat just fucking radiating. I plunged my tongue into her mouth and again felt the need to dominate her soft flesh. My fingers found the button on her jeans and yanked roughly until it came undone. The zipper seemed to undo itself from my forceful actions and I slipped my hand under her panties to feel the hot wetness there.

Jesus, she's ready for me.

I ground my cock against her thigh and shuddered at her moan of approval. I needed her now. Right now. Nothing was going to abate this feeling except her. Leaned back and tugged her jeans down along with the purple panties while she kicked off her shoes and just about died at the sight of her naked on my bed. She was flawless. And while I was enjoying my view of her flushed and panting on my comforter she reached forward and hooked her fingers into my jeans and kissed down my battered abdomen. Her fingers nimbly undoing the button and I hissed when she slowly dragged the zipper down. It was a glaring contrast to how quickly she yanked the clothing off me and I had to smile at the look on her face when she saw my dick. Now I'm not conceited but after years of changing in the presence of other men in locker rooms I have learned that I have nothing to worry about in the comparison department. Before I could do anything else her hot mouth descended around me and my head dropped back while my hands found purchase in her hair. Her tongue was swirling and licking while her hand pumped what she couldn't fit.

Fucking Christ she was going to kill me.

It was too much and I needed to be inside of her. If I wasn't soon I was going to put doubts on my endurance and that was not acceptable. So I gently pulled her head back and she dropped her hands off my ass. She looked hurt that I had stopped her. Growling, I grabbed her hips and pushed her back on the bed, kissing her roughly. She needed to know that I wanted her. She moaned as my cock rubbed against her wet folds and I pushed against her heated flesh rubbing the length of it harshly into her. Then reality set in and I abruptly stopped my movements and cursed. "Fuck I don't have any condoms." "I got a shot." "What?" "Birth control shot. I got one." "Oh."

Alrighty then.
Her small hand reached between us and grasped onto me trying to guide me into her and I snatched her wrist gently pulling it up beside her head as I lifted my hips and aligned the tip against her entrance. I looked into her eyes.

Last chance to back out sweetheart.

With the approval in her eyes I pushed forward slowly and with each inch of my cock sliding forward to fill her, my head dropped lower onto her shoulder because fuck she was tight. Once I was in I really didn't want to move despite the fact that my body was begging for the friction. Her whimper was enough to urge me on and I started out at a slow pace, pumping into the sweet bit of heaven I had managed to find. My lips were inches from her rosy nipple and I took it into my mouth, biting on it only to sooth it with my tongue which eliciting a sweet sound from her. Each thrust granted me a new moan or gasp. Each time I ground our hips together granting that precious roughness against her clit. Each lick and bite bought me a squeeze of her slick walls or tiny hands gripping on my back. Her grunts and whimpers grew louder as I sped up my pace. "Please, more. Harder. Please." She was begging me to love her harder and God be damned if I was going to deny her. Because, truthfully I was really falling hard for her. So I slid my hands down to her knees and gripped her tightly before just fucking plowing into her. The cries coming from her were causing my resolve to slip and I felt my muscles tightening in wait of release but I had to hold out I had to feel her coming around me. I needed it. It was part of the possessing process. I kissed her hard and swallowed her moans into my body. There were too many sensations at once. Her hands scratching at my back; her thighs gripping my hips and her lips at my throat, the feeling of her softness around me; so pliable against my hardness. She was so soft everywhere. Her breasts bouncing with every thrust. I was going to come soon and I needed her to come from this. I needed to have that power. "Come for me baby. I need to feel you come." I begged her right back. She gasped and then it happened. She fucking moaned my name and it was all over and I prayed to whatever deity might have been listening that as I shot my load she was coming too.

"Oh Edward." And I felt it. Glaringly through my own orgasm she clamped down on me and her walls began milking for everything I had. She chanted my name softly next to my ear. If it was possibly I came harder. My name, coming from her lips, as she came on my cock. I shoved my face into her neck and shuddered as the last few strokes of my orgasm filtered through me. We lay there panting and despite the protesting my muscles were doing, I couldn't stop touching her even as my sexual need was fulfilled I still felt like I needed to have her. To just tuck her into me as far as I could get her and not let go. These urges were consuming me to a point of ridiculousness. My hands rubbed up and down her thighs then up her hips and skimmed the sides of her breasts. I wasn't quite ready to pull out of her but since I was going soft I did. I rolled us over and pulled the comforter up over our damp bodies. She felt so small lying against me. Suddenly I felt like a brute. Jesus, I really did just fucking plow into her. "Are you okay?" "Mmm, more than okay. Are you alright? How is your stomach and shoulders?" "I'm fine. Don't worry about me. Are you sure you're alright? I was really fucking rough with you." She snorted and nuzzled her head into my shoulder. I turned toward her and wrapped my arms around her. After a few moments she was asleep and I wasn't far behind her. Give me the first taste, let it begin Heaven cannot wait forever darling, Just start the chase I'll let you win, But you must make the endeavor

A/N: Yeah, so they have known each other for like 24 hours and they hop into bed with each other. I know tons of you are probably going 'WFT
mate?' well it has a purpose I promise. I have this whole thing planned out. Really it just shows the compulsiveness of this relationship. There will be backlash from all of this and that was the point. And honestly...if you had only known Edward for 24 hours and you had already seen him practically naked wouldn't you jump his bones? As well in my opinion, people end up having sex with each other much quicker these days in real life than in these stories. Seriously, one night stands happen in a matter of hours. At least they have a whole day under their belt. I'm just being realistic. While people preach about waiting, they never really want to. Or do. Yeah, so I've got this whole story planned out down the last chapter. Which is MIA to me. I have no idea how to end this bitch. Hope the lemon was good enough. First one and all.

Just a few things here so I don't end up disappointing anyone. Edward will not cheat on Bella. (No cheating at all. Jealousy yes, cheating no.) Important things for future reference. The day Bella found Edward at the gym was his birthday Bella is homeless. Yeah, she is broke and got no home and very little money. Some character traits/flaws that are important Bella is stubborn, detached from affection, and sexually repressed. Edward is controlling, introverted, lonely, and very very angry at the world. If you don't see these traits glaringly it's because they're different when they are around each other however they will start to come out in the story. Let me know if you liked it.

*Chapter 3*: Getting To Know You

A/N: Alright so I'm not terribly happy with this chapter. Srsly. But each time I went back to make it better or fix it, I just couldn't. I even re-wrote the bitch.twice. I mean it really covers all the major emotions and points I wanted to make but it seems like I just barely scraped by doing only that. There was just something about the whole scene that didn't want to come to me. I might end up rewriting it. So if you don't really like it, meh I'm not thrilled either. It is quite possibly very repetitive in POV. Also mid sentence I had a hit of slight brilliance and started another freaking outline of a story which honestly comprised about four hours of my time due to research and an obsessive inquiry into legends. No worries I will finish this story before I write another one. I don't like to multi-project. Also I apologize for the delay. Some of my favorite fics happened to update and I had to have my happy time. Oh and P.S: If you think Bella's being a whiney bitch. She is. CHAPTER 3 EPOV BPOV GETTING TO KNOW YOU
Mexico - Cake I had a match, But she had a lighter, I had a flame, But she had a fire, I was bright, But she was much brighter, I was high, But she was the sky, Oh, Baby, I was bound, For Mexico, Oh, Baby, I was bound, To let you go, I don't know much about, Cinco De Mayo, I'm never sure, What it's all about, But I said I want you, And you don't believe me, You said you want me, But I've got my doubts, Oh, Baby, I was bound, For Mexico, Oh, Baby, I was bound, To let you go, I had a match, But she had a lighter, I had a flame, But she had a fire, I was bright, But she was much brighter, I was high, But she was the sky, Oh, Baby, I was bound, For Mexico, Oh, Baby, I was bound, To let you go

June 21 BPOV
It was dark in the bedroom when I woke up. I was pressed beneath Edward in the most delicious way. His torso laid halfway over my own while his left arm rested beneath my head; the right one wrapped around my waist. As his head rested against my shoulder and his face pressed into my neck and I could feel his breathing fan over my chest. I shifted my legs beneath his sheets relishing in the softness of them. The movement caused him to stir and he tossed his leg over my thighs as if to hold them down; to hold me to him. I smiled and sighed happily. As my state of awareness grew I thought about what we had been doing before we passed out and all of a sudden the happiness burned away into completecompletedamn no emotion could label this feeling. I was freaking the fuck out. Suddenly, I wanted nothing more than to be far, far away from the situation, no matter how giddy it made me feel. Feelings like this were what ruined me. I was placing sole blame on Edward.

No, that's wrong, you did this too, you jumped into bed right along with him. You shut your mouth and kissed him right back so don't go blaming awesome sex on him. Well I mean technically speaking he is the reason it was awesome, but you asked for it!
Shit, now my inner monologue was in on this and I never wanted to shut my conscious up so bad. Yeah, it was right, I did this too but damn it, it was easier to just place the blame on him.

Just like you placed the whole Phil thing onto Renee. You ran away from that and look where it got you.
But now was not time to think about what Phil had done. Right now it was time to think about what I had done. I had just had sex with someone I didn't even really know.

Not true, you know his name, where he lives, that he prefers boxers over briefs and that he is fucking hot. You know what his face look like when he
And on that note we are moving onto something different because I clearly can't be thinking of that when I'm naked and caved into his body. Sighing heavily I shut my eyes tight and moved through the fact that I had royally fucked myself into something complicated again, and the fact that I needed to do some damage control. What the hell was I thinking? Oh, yeahshut up and live in the moment. Right. And I had to admit it was liberating not to be so damn calculated in my thoughts and actions.

And emotions too, don't forget about us.

Edward's sleep induced grunt and momentary cuddle jogged me out of my thoughts for a moment and propelled me into reality. I leaned my face back and peeked down at his blissed out face and I had to smile 'cause he really was damn adorable.

And safe. Don't forget you feel safe.

Apparently I was forgetting a lot of things. But it wasn't that I was forgetting it, it was that I wasn't realizing it in the most intentional way possible. I didn't want to know. Because knowing something and then losing it is what makes things hard in the end. Bliss really was ignorance and I was all for being ignorant. While I was mulling over the reality of my lonely existence I realized that I really did feel safe. Security was a fleeting feeling in my life. The only other times I could recall this feeling was when I was much younger, before Charlie and Renee had split up and it was so nostalgic knowing that I could pin point that time. Somehow Edward had managed to reduce me into a puddling mess of doubts and affirmations all at the same time and not even know it. Internally, I knew that there were added hormones coursing through me, because of the sex I just had, and they were more than partially to blame. I realized the clingy Bella was coming to the surface just waiting to rear her ugly head. But would it be so bad to want a connection to someone? Would this play out for the good? Would he wake up and still want me here? That line of inquiring soon brought me to a huge question mark. Do I leave before he wakes up?

No, because that's running again retard. You need to stop running! We have been over this. It's a dead horse. Just stop with the insecurity, suck it up, and enjoy being like this.
Now I was just feeling shitty because even to myself I felt like I was trying to regret this. I didn't however and it was frightening how I didn't. The first time I had ever had sex it was planned. Down to the T. I regretted the shit out of that. Not because it was bad, it really wasn't. Nothing at all compared to the romp I just had but not bad. I regretted it because it was so calculated. There was no emotion behind it, not on my part anyway, it was just fucking. It was getting my virginity out of the way. And I felt bad because I knew I had used him. I had used Mitch in the worst way but it was how he didn't fault me for it in the end that was the killer. He understood even when he wanted more. And I had learned that in the real world, romances like my books didn't exist. There was only sex and no love. Renee left Charlie, Phil tried to cheat on Renee and I was stuck in the middle of everything just watching it all go down. Running away from Renee to Charlie because of Phil then from Charlie to Renee because of Sue only to run from Renee again because of Phil not to mention from Phil. My mind was spinning with all the running.

So stop running. This is a good thing. He is a good thing. You can feel it.
And I could. He was the exterior of everything bad however on the inside he made this whole thing feel good. And safe. My heart was on overdrive at the conclusions I had made in all my internal rambling. He was safe. He was rough and mysterious, he was dark and plaguing but in all of it he was safe. And once my mind matched the two it was set. And I was fucked because if he woke up and realized he had made a mistake by being with me I was going to have another mini breakdown. And I didn't even have a place to have it in. Crying for hours in your truck was just unacceptable with all those windows. So with the parting thoughts of how well I was doing with just blazing through this whole ordeal I decided to just keep on doing that. Blazing right through it. Because I needed to just let go and be for once. I needed to stop overanalyzing myself and what I was doing. It was eating away at me and dragging me down into monotony and unhappiness. This whole aversion to being touched and handled was detrimental to the whole snuggling thing and I was definitely becoming a fan of it. I felt safe here in this man's arms. I felt like I had a chance at a fictional kinda relationship. 'Lizzy and Darcy' like love. 'Cathy and Heathcliff' like love. Except without the whole unrequited until death bit. Hopefully. It might actually be possible to find it. It was shining through somewhere in this whole mess and I needed to find it. I had to, because if I didn't, I was going to forever lose faith in love altogether. And I was afraid of that more than anything.

While I thought about how safe this felt I understood how I could get past everything if only I could feel this way forever. Living with the guilt of Renee and Phil was consuming a little bit of me every second and I needed this to make it better. I needed to reassure myself that Phil was wrong and I was right. And I needed justification that leaving without an explanation to my mother was for a reason. Because honestly I was a coward. I knew I should have told her everything but would she have believed me? No, she would have taken his side. Just like she took his side when she married him. Putting my own selfish wants before others was going to need to start happening to. I wanted. I wanted to be wanted but not by just anyone. I wanted Edward to want me.

He wanted you this afternoon. He had you this afternoon.

Perhaps I should have played it coy. I should have stopped him and made him work for it. But honestly, two years without sex is a long time once you've had it and Edward is sex on a stick. So I can't blame myself all on that part. He was throwing himself at me as much as I was him. Throughout all this I knew it wasn't just a sex thing with him. He didn't even have condoms in his apartment. There was nothing in his place that said he was a man whore. No alcohol in the kitchen, no wine glasses in the mess of dishes. No extra toothbrushes in his bathroom. I wasn't sure if there were any sure signs I was supposed to be looking for but he just didn't strike me as that type. I was at ease when I was with him. He wanted me here. He invited me back and he was genuinely concerned for me. He threw a fit about the incident at the gym and while he was being extremely condescending about the whole thing I enjoyed someone else worrying over me. It was a double whammy of consideration after Emmett and Jasper had practically declared their brotherhood over me. What the hell is going on with these people? Maybe it was the gym, it seems to be the only tying factor. I deserved to be cared for. I knew that deep down I really did need to be but I was never granted that luxury. I was always the caretaker; never the cared for. And while I enjoyed making other people comfortable and happy I needed it too damn it and Edward was someone who could provide that. If he wanted to. Jesus, what if he doesn't want me? I'm placing all this faith and weight on someone who might not even want me. Oh my God. I literally just spent probably thirty minutes thinking over something and reasoning it and it hasn't even really happened yet.

Desperate, much? Aren't you supposed to be encouraging this behavior? I keep you on your toes.
Once again Edward squeezes me to him and I feel all those insecurities melt away because he was holding onto me like a life preserve even in his sleep. I knew that subconsciously he cared because if he didn't he would have rolled over hours ago instead of holding me.

Don't guys not like cuddling after sex?

I'm enjoying this. I will stop over thinking this. I will snuggle into him and forget the world exists. I deserve that much. If I wake up and he wants me gone, I'll go. But I hope for sake of my sanity and my heart that he doesn't. I hope he holds onto me with all he's worth.

So, we had sex. And it waswow. I mean, really, I knew her for a day and we had sex but wow. Those legs, her hair, and sweet Jesus her eyes. The way the small of her back met up with the swell of her hip, that dip that just begged to be kissed and touched.

Oh, you have it bad. Not once in that did you bring up her tits or her ass. Sucker.
Huh. I didn't, did I? Looking down at her face I realized that she really is beautiful. I had noticed it earlier but while she was asleep and her guard was down she was so peaceful. She wasn't the kind of girl that you ogled for her private areas. Her chest and rear were deliciously nice however not the point. She was the girl who drew you in with other things. Like her voice when she begged you for it harder. and how it calms me instantly when I'm feeling angry. yeah that too. She is amazing. And all too quickly my mind was reeling with things like holding hands while we walked down the beach, picking out china patterns, and arguing over where we would be going on our mandatory date night. Holy shit. What the hell is wrong with me?

Are you worried because you thought about it or because you liked thinking about it? Or are you scared because you like the idea of doing those things? Or maybe it's that you're thinking specifically about doing them with her and not in general. Oh and lying wont work here; I always know the truth. Consider these rhetorical questions.
Well damn. I was falling here. I didn't need a picture drawn for me. Really I could think it back to when I woke up to her thrusting breakfast at me. When she was taking care of me. God only knows I haven't had anyone take care of me for years. The closest I got to anyone caring for me was when Jasper forced me into icing down my bruises and stitched up my cuts. But she did it without knowing me. She cared for me and didn't know a

damn thing about me. And just with that thought I was thrown into a tangent about how unsafe it was for her to be doing things like that. I would need to put a stop to that quickly.

Controlling already eh?

Ignoring that train of thought I turned my attention back to the woman in my arms. Would she want to be with someone like me? She didn't strike me as the one night stand sort of girl. I didn't know anything about her but I wanted to. I cared for her intensely already. The fact that she had enough power over me to want sex was proof enough of my attraction. But was it worth the risk of emotional heartbreak if things got to hard for her too fast. There are so many facets of this life that she might not be willing to enter into. Could I trust her with knowing what it is I do? She didn't seem like someone who would run to the police. I had no answer to any of these questions and the one person who could answer them was lying peacefully in my arms. Fighting was never something I thought about doing. I was angry and sometimes violent with my things but never with people. When I had met Emmett after leaving home he seemed to be the answer to all my problems. I could work at the gym, make a living, and have an outlet for all the pent up rage I possessed. I was an angry motherfucker then, and I still am now but when she walked into my apartment and we started our whole dance leading up to the finale I realized while I was pissed at her not telling me who had hurt her I was controlling the rage. I was tamping it down for her. I didn't want her to see or know what it was I was capable of. I was afraid of scaring her. I was afraid of hurting her. And then she herself seemed to just calm me down. Her voice, her caring, was slowly soothing the anger down. Numbing the rage into something else completely: Desire, Lust, Want.

She's worth the risk you know.

Yeah, I know. She feels like home. How fucking sentimental is that? I might not know what her answers will be and I might not know how she will react to this whole situation but I had to try. In the eight years since I had left home I had never once felt this way about anyone and I would be damned if I was going to let this go without a fight. Because honestly, fighting is the only thing I know how to do. And well. At least this time I would be fighting to keep something good. Something good for me. With that last thought bouncing around in my head I felt her shifting beneath me. Then I realized I was probably crushing her under my leg. Shifting my weight off of her she sighed and rolled into me and I had to hold her there. I watched her face as she relaxed back into me and I couldn't help the grin of victory on mine.

Seriously, try not to fuck this up.

It seemed like I had just shut my eyes for a second but when I woke up again I saw that almost two hours had gone by. Bella was still wrapped up in my arms and we hadn't moved all that much. After about a minute of watching her, her eyes fluttered open and all the previous planning on how I was going to woe this girl to stay with me flew out the window. She had rendered me speechless literally in the blink of an eye. So I say the first thing that comes to my mind. "Hi." "Um, hi. What time is it?" "Around 5:30 in the morning. Did you sleep well?" "Yeahyou?" "Best sleep ever." "Look, I don't want you to think I do this kind of thing all the timeI don't know what came over me yesterday. And I don't want to make this anymore awkward than it is so I'll just get my things and go." Then she started to get up.

Okay, so right now is where it's probably a good idea to say something assbag.
"I don't want you to go." She stopped and turned to look at me. I realized then that I had grabbed onto her arm. Her eyes bore into my own as if she was trying to figure out how serious I was. "Please, don't go. Ican we just talk?" She looked surprised so I bit back a chuckle. Then she sat back and leaned against the pillows watching me like I was going to eat her.

Not a bad idea

"What do you want to talk about?"

"Well, tell me about yourself. Are you originally from Chicago? How old are you? Are you in school? Why did you decide to work at The Ring? What's your last name? What" "Whoa, whoa. Few at a time. Um, I'm from a little town called Forks in Washington state. I'm 21. I'm not in school right now. And I saw Emmett's ad in the paper so I asked for a job and my last name is Swan." "Why did you move here to Chicago?" "Well, um. It's a long story." "I've got time." She started to pull back a little and I knew I was losing her. She was withdrawing and I would need to tuck that line of questioning away for later. Something about her reason to move here had her scared. "Sorry, forget it. Um, are you hungry?" "Wait, I just answered you're questions. What about you?" "Well, I was born here in Chicago. I'm 26 and I'm a ring fighter of sorts. And my last name is Masen." "Of sorts?" "It's complicated." "Uh hu. You mean illegal. Underground fighting." I was a little shocked. How had she figured that out? "It doesn't take a genius to put it together. I mean really, you're beat up, you have old bruises, those guys in at the gym earlier said something about how you would miss an upcoming match because their boss told them to beat you up. So from that I can conclude that you are a ring fighter, because you have a match, and that it's illegal, because in a real match someone wouldn't be beating you up to keep you out of it. They only do shit like that when they have money riding on it and the whole betting on fights thing being illegal Also you're hands are too scarred up to box and those bruises look too much like knuckles and knees. You kick fight too don't you?" By the time she had finished her Sherlock Holmes speech I was a little dazed. I wanted to kiss her for being so damn sexysmart and yell at her for making connections that could get her into trouble because honestly there was a lot more going on than a few guys just throwing down a couple hundred dollars on two guys fighting. And there sure as hell was more to the matches than just no gloves and kicking. "Yeah, it's something like that." "Look, I won't say anything. You're secrets safe with me." "How about some food?" "Alright. There's still some stuff to make breakfast with in the fridge. How do you like your eggs?" "I can do it." "Um, no offense but the state of your kitchen, before I got to it, says otherwise. There were at least three plates of burnt food just molding in there." "Ouch, well at least let me help." "Can you pour juice?" By that time I was pulling my boxers on and rolling my eyes at her. She had grabbed her underwear and yanked them on while looking around for her shirt. I tossed her the black wife beater from earlier and she looked at it strangely for a moment before shrugging her shoulders and putting it on. Those little purple panties were going to be the death of me. We both padded out into the living room where I clicked on the TV and followed her into the kitchen. She moved fluidly, pulling things from the fridge and firing up the stove. She was quick and efficient with everything. Soon there was a plate of eggs, toast, bacon, and a glass of milk sitting before me and I heard my stomach grumbling at me to hurry the hell up and dive in but I waited until she had fixed her own plate and joined me at the bar. We sat in silence at we ate. It wasn't uncomfortable but I was dying to hear to talk again. As soon as she put her fork down and pushed the plate away I stood and grabbed her dish along with my own and took them to the kitchen. I washed them off and stuck them in the dishwater then gave her a shit eating grin in some attempt to show her I wasn't a complete slob. She laughed and shook her head and I grinned harder. She was beautiful. I couldn't help myself when I rushed at her and picked her up quickly carrying her back into the bedroom and plopped her down onto the bed. She squealed and kicked her legs playfully. I lay down beside her and propped myself up on an elbow so that I could look down at her flushed face. She was still smiling at me. "I really like you." That seemed to take her by surprise for a moment but she composed herself quickly.

"I really like you too." "I want to thank you for helping me and I want you to know that I don't do things like this either." I said motioning between us. She nodded and continued to look at me. "I guess what I'm saying is, is that I really like you, I didn't just want a one time thing, and I want to get to know you. If you want that too that is." I stopped the rambling before it got too embarrassing but she was still smiling at me; her eyes twinkling in the dim lighting of my room. "I don't want it to be a tone time thing either and I would like to get to know you as well."

Well now that that's out of the way. Aren't you both just sweet? Now we can go get some animal crackers and take a nap before story time.
Before I knew it we had set ourselves off on a massive game of 20 questions. Colors, foods, books, music, and movies were pulled out onto the floor. Favorite moments, worst moments, embarrassing moments. Everything I could think to ask her was pouring out at an alarming rate and I was fascinated with her. She was amazing. Her facial expressions ranging from blushing at embarrassment, to her nose scrunching up when she talked about her hatred of all things pretzels, how her eyes lit up when she talked about her favorite books and how the dreamy expression came over her when she spoke of what bands she eventually wanted to see in concert. She was just too good. I started to realize as the time went on that I was engaging her in conversation. I was actually interested in what she had to say. I hadn't been interested to hear a damn thing anyone had to say since high school. I bantered with her, we argued but I wasn't angry, merely amused at her ferocity of how she defended her way of thinking. We shared the same interests in music and I was impressed by how well read she was. Her view and take on some things astounded me. Seeing things through her eyes was so different from the take that I had but I was considering her thoughts with reason. She had points I couldn't argue against. "So how did you get into fighting?" "Well, when I was 19 I had somewhat of a falling out with my family. I had anger issues then and I didn't deal with them well. I never hurt anyone. I justargued and yelled and did stupid things like drink all night and eventually started into drugs. When Carlisle, my stepfather found out he threatened to have me checked into rehab. I got angry one night and destroyed the house. I broke everything I could get my hands on and left. Eventually after about three weeks I was homeless and starving. Jasper, my trainer, found me with the shit beaten out of me behind a restaurant. I had been mugged but I had no money or valuables for them to steal so they just beat the hell out of me and left me there. Jasper was working as a bartender at the time and took me to his place, which is two floors above us by the way, and fixed me up. He helped me get a job bussing tables and I started to go to the gym with him at night. After a few weeks of working out Emmett and Jasper both approached me with the idea of fighting. I was good in the ring when sparring and they thought I had potential. The thing was, I was still really angry about everything so it was a great way for me to kinda let it all out. After a while I was making a pretty good name for myself and the matches were getting more intense. I was making a couple grand at first then ten grand, twentyso I quit my job working at the restaurant and dove into training full time. Jasper gets a cut of the money and so does Emmett." She looked pensive for a moment at all that I had told her. I watched her face intently, looking for the moment she would pull away from me. She didn't however she just reached her hand up and traced around the stitching in my eyebrow before leaning up and kissing it. "I'm sorry about your parents but I'm glad you found Jasper and Emmett, even if they did get you into fighting." "So what about you? Earlier, when I asked why you were here in Chicago you never answered me." She seemed to withdraw from me again and I felt that flare of anger well up. I just told her something I considered private and she had issues telling me why she was in a city? But before I could throw a fit about it she sucked in a deep breath and dove right into her answer. "When I was seven my parents got divorced. Charlie, my father, is the police chief in Forks. My mother, Renee, she's kind of a free spirit so to speak. When they split I went with my mother to live in Arizona. Renee remarried when I was 16 to a guy named Phil. He's a minor league baseball player. I knew Renee wanted to go with him when he had all his away games but she stayed with me because she felt like she had to. So I told her I would move back with Charlie. I never told her the real reasons I had for leaving because I knew she would have disagreed. Anyway, I lived with Charlie for about a year before he remarried. So at that point I decided to give them their space. I moved to Florida with my mom before I had to start school. Things got kinda crazy with school, Renee said I was taking things too seriously and running myself into the ground and so the summer before I was supposed to graduate mom offered to let me come on the road with the team. Phil was all for it. Anyway, things got kinda complicated and when they were at a game in Milwaukee I left. I mean I got a ticket and road the bus here and one thing led to another and I got a job at The Ring." When she was done I had a whole new round of questions to ask but the look on her face said she was done talking about it. There was an aversion to this person Phil that I couldn't shake. She seemed bitter about him. Whether it was because he was the reason she had to leave her mother or there was something else going on I had no idea. But I was going to find out.

"So where are you staying?" "Uh, I have a place." And suddenly it was nine o'clock, our second round of 20 questions was officially over and I hadn't even realized time had gone by that quickly. She yawned and stretched, giving me a nice view of her stomach. She was swimming in my undershirt but damn if it didn't look good on her.

I wonder what else I could get her into. Oooo, the baseball jersey! The striped button down. No, no I got it. Nothing but your sparring shorts. The blue ones. HOT.
I willed my libido away and offered her the shower again. Cause damn if I didn't like it smelling like her when she left. Then I realized she had to work and I had no clue when. So I crept toward the bathroom door and cracked it open enough to speak through. "When do you have to be at the gym?" "Um, eleven. What time is it now?" Glancing at the clock I turned and tried not to look at the reflection of the shower in the mirror. I didn't know if I should curse or bless the fogged glass doors. "It's nine thirty. I'll get a shower after you and we can leave together." Before she could respond I shut the door and walked back into the living room to give her some privacy. A few moments later she walked out wearing her jeans and a towel around her top. "Umm, can I borrow a shirt? My other one smells." Her nose scrunched up so fucking cute and I chuckled at her. "Sure, the dresser in the closet has some t shirts in them, help yourself." "Okay." The look on her face was priceless. She probably figured I would pick one for her but honestly I wanted to know which one she would choose for herself. I sidestepped her and got into the shower, leaving the door wide open in case she needed to use the sink or anything while I was in. I got out later and dressed noticing that she wasn't in the bedroom and I'll admit I cheated a little in the closet trying to figure out what shirt she had taken. Eventually I gave up and walked into the living room to find that she was not in there either. She was in the kitchen starting the dishwasher when I found her and I stopped short when I saw what she was wearing. My grey and black vans shirt. My favorite fucking shirt. She had it tied loosely in a knot at the small of her back and she had rolled up the sleeves so that it fit her better. I wanted to be pissed. I wanted to tell her to take it off and pick another one but fuck me she looked hot in that shirt. Her tiny waist swathed in the material. I walked up behind her and placed my hands on her hips and she jumped. She smelled so damn good. I hoped like hell that the shirt smelled like her later. I would never wash that fucking thing again.

You're turning into a girl.

So to rescue my manly bearings I kissed her neck and sucked the soft spot behind her ear. She moaned and I felt the heat rising to her skin. My thumbs brushed her hips and slipped under the hem of the shirt to rub the skin there. She's so warm and soft. "You ready to head to the gym?" I asked her against the flesh of her neck. "I am, you're staying here." What? I'm sorry did she just tell me what to do? Huh. She did. "I'm going with you. Before you say anything, I won't touch a piece of equipment I need to speak with Emmett and Jazz. But I am going to start back to training next week." She sighed knowing she had been defeated and nodded her head. I looked down and saw her hands clenched around the counter edge. My feisty little kitten how I loved her, claws and all. Just the fact that I was already defending my actions and providing excuses to her was comical. I was really falling for this girl. I was being accountable to her. After a collection of keys, wallet, and sunglasses we made our way down to her truck. It was an interesting vehicle to say the least. I felt like I was actually riding on the engine itself when we set off. She smiled at me apologetically and I shrugged. I wasn't snobby about it. It might not be anything like the Volvo but I wasn't going to hold it against her. It sure as fuck beat walking and while I wasn't thrilled that she drove it I wasn't going to look down on her for it. She needed a safe vehicle though. Maybe if things go right I can buy her one in a few months. Something sleek and small. No, an SUV. She would need to be safe in it not fast.

Okay, I'm going to stop your right there 'cause you need to pull your head out of your heart and get it in the game right now. You won't get to 'a few months from now' if you don't stop this. Obsessive pondering of buying vehicles and lusting thoughts of her in your favorite shirt. Seriously get a grip before you freak her the fuck out.
I leaned my head against the window and rolled my eyes at myself. Jekyll, Hyde complex much? At the neighborhood slowly transgressed into businesses I began to feel a little tension ease into me. The farther away we got from the apartment I started to feel the aggression build. We were leaving the safety of privacy and entering into the fucked up world that I had managed to get myself stuck in. I was going to walk into that gym in a

few moments with Bella and have to deal with the shit storm and it was pissing me off. She didn't need to deal with that shit. I didn't need to deal with that shit. And with those concurring thoughts I realized that we would have to deal with it together. It made me feel marginally better however I was still pissy about it. Once we arrived I had to physically force myself out of the truck and when I was out and the door was shut I raced to her side and took her hand. She seemed put off by this but at that point I didn't give a damn. I needed the physical contact to help tamp down this feeling of dread. As if by entering the gym the past nights events would be erased and I would never get them back. Also the knowledge that by holding her hand when we went it I would be nipping in the bud any advancement toward Bella caused me to grip her hand just a little tighter. I wasn't being cocky but any asshole who attended this gym knew in some form that I was not to be fucked with and by association neither was Bella. Marking her as mine through a simple enough gesture like holding her hand was all I was going to grant myself at this point. The gyms air conditioning was cut and the fans were going full blast. I steered us to Emmett's office and she didn't complain. We were greeted by Jasper. "Well, well, well, look who decided to grace us with his presence." "Shut the hell up. I felt like shit. I'm here now. Where's shit face?" "Emmett's making rounds and schmoozing with customers. How's the eye doing?" He came around the desk and peered at my face with a critical eye. Assessing whether or not I would be in condition to fight soon no doubt. "It's just peachy keen. Bella here does a much better job of stitching than your sorry ass." I squeezed her hand and she blushed. Jasper's attention was drawn to our entwined fingers and his eyebrow shot so high I thought it had left his face. He looked at me hard and I shrugged. My business with my girl. He shook his head and Emmett waltzed in, loud as ever. "Edward! My man! Seriously, nice to see you. The way Bella was talking yesterday I thought you would be in bed for another few days." I turned to Bella with raised eyebrows and she blushed harder, suddenly fascinated with the corner of the desk. I leaned in close to her ear so that only she could hear me, "You didn't seem to think that way yesterday afternoon." Then she shocked the shit out of me by smiling sweetly and responding without missing a beat. "Actually I did plan on keeping you in bed for another few days." Emmett's laughter rang out and I realized our exchange was caught. The office was too small for us not have been heard. Jasper smirked, obviously amused. "It seems we have finally found the one thing that can distract sullen Cullen from his prize." "Sorry to disappoint you boys but I'm still as focused as ever. The prize has just changed and I must say it is much more appealing." I directed my statement to Jasper but looked at Bella. "Well this conversation seems to be going nowhere fast so I'm going to get started on my chores for today. You promised" "I won't do a thing but talk." She smiled and relaxed. Waving at the guys she exited the office. I turned to Emmett and my gaze hardened. "Where is Mike?" "He's gone, banned from the gym as well as Tyler but not before I taught them both how to fight fair. I know for a fact that they won't be in any shape to make their handlers any money." His answer was expected but it did nothing to make me feel any better about not getting my own shots in. I seethed and slunk down into the cheap vinyl chair in front of Emmett's desk. Jasper's cool demeanor was pissing me off as well. He leaned against the desk and was still silently appraising me. "What?" I asked him. Perhaps a little too harshly. "She's good for you." "Shut the hell up Jasper. I'm not talking about it." "Fine, but you do know whatever happens in your social life affects your fighting. I need to know that this, whatever you have going with her, isn't going to be a negative thing. I don't think it is right now, but be careful. The number one thing that can ruin a good fighter is a woman, I should know. And I like Bella. So don't fuck it up."

My glare went soft and I had to admit he was right. From what I knew of Jasper's past he had first hand experience to how badly a woman could fuck you up when it came to fighting. I nodded my appreciation at him for his words and went back to sulking. "I'm back to training next week." "Good. I'm putting together a routine right now. I want us to concentrate on your speed and upper cuts." I sighed and leaned back in my chair. It was irrational how badly I wanted Bella back in the room. It was absurd how I needed to have that contact after only knowing her two days. It was ridiculous how she had me wrapped around her finger. It was fucking amazing how good all of those things made me feel. And I was fucked, because Jasper was right. Bella Swan had the power to fuck me royally.

Another freaking A/N: Cause a got a question about this

Tanya, Jessica, and Lauren do not make an appearance in this fic. Well, maybe Jessica or Lauren...or both...and it will be brief like only a few lines brief. But no Tanya. I still dislike her enough to leave her out altogether cause I would hate for an unnecessary character death. And it would be ridiculously painful and drawn out. Like she was crushed by Edward's piano when he was moving out of his apartment b/c they had to lower it out of a window and the cables snapped. But she didn't die on impact and she was coherent until she died of internal bleeding which happened to take about a year. Yeah, I should stick to people just living. But shit, that means I could still pull off the piano thing and just leave the bitch alive. I mean really, I know that Tanya wasn't bad in Twilight but you just want to hate her So yea, no Tanya. Perhaps a little Lauren and Jess. Perhaps. Oh and no Angela either. I mean I like Angela, but she has no space here. So yeah, that is all on that. Also on a completely different note, I plan on updating at least once a week. Perhaps twice. And the next few chapters will be shorter because they pertain mostly to the building of plot. Even if I do enjoy mindless fluff, sweaty-half-naked-aggressive Edward and lemons this does have a purpose. I can't really remember what that purpose is right now because I'm kinda spacing on the sweaty naked aggressive Edward bit. So I'm going to end this right here... and uhyeah.think some more. ;) Leave me some love.

*Chapter 4*: Winnings, Deflections, and Declarations

CHAPTER 4 EPOV WINNINGS, DEFLECTIONS, AND DECLARATIONS The Way Things Are Fiona Apple I wouldn't know what to do with another chance If you gave it to me I couldn't take the embrace of a real romance It'd race right through me
I'm much better off the way things are Much much better off, better by far, by far I wouldn't know what to say to a gentle voice It'd roll right past me

And if you chalk it up you'll see I don't really have a choice So don't even ask me
I'm much better off, the way things are Much much better off, better by far So keep on calling me names, keep on, keep on And Ill keep kicking the crap till its gone If you keep on killing, you could get me to settle And as soon as I settle, I bet Ill be Able to move on

How can I fight, when were on the same side How can I fight beside you
So keep on calling me names, keep on, keep on And Ill keep kicking the crap till its gone If you keep on killing, you could get me to settle And as soon as I settle, I bet Ill be Able to move on So keep on calling me names, keep on, keep on And Ill keep kicking the crap till its gone If you keep on killing, you could get me to settle And as soon as I settle, I bet Ill be Able to move on

After a few more awkwardly intense moments of silence in the office with Jasper he left to go do whatever it is he does when he isn't breathing down my neck about carbs and focus. I sat morosely in the chair waiting for Emmett to grace me with his presence. While I was moving into my wonderful fantasy world where Bella was currently giving me a sinful view of all her glorious womanly bits and doing a rather provocative dance while using the desk as a damn lucky prop, Emmett decided to ruin any chance at figuring out if she indeed could drop it like it was hot. I groaned and rubbed my face because this was getting out of hand. He just grinned at me and smirked. Damn it all to hell with these know it all bastards and their suggestive looks. I swear to God, the moment Emmett mentions monkey sex I was going to punch something. "So the monkey sex is that good huh?"

Fuck it all to hell.

"Emmett" Growling usually stopped him. "Whatever man, it's nice to see a post coital glow on someone." "You actually know what 'post coital' is?" "I have to; I sport the look after every match. Those number waving hussies always like it rough." I shuttered thinking about the bikini clad girls who announced the rounds at the matches. They were stacked but seriously rough around the edges.

One too many hits off the crack pipe.

"You're set for a match next month." The tone of his voice was pensive, cautious almost. I quirked an eyebrow; Emmett was doubting the outcome and I had to feel shifty about that. He never doubted my winning. "Who?" "James." Shit. That pompous prick was a thorn in my side. We had sparred on occasion and it always ended up getting too serious. He played dirty. Of course a lot of guys played dirty but with James, winning was everything and so the dirty tactics got taken to a whole new level. He was calculated in his process and I often dreaded the day I would have to fight him in the ring. He would pull out all the stops if there was money on the line. I cringed and peered over to Emmett grave face. He was no more than likely remember all the shitty hits James had taken in the practice matches we had. "What's the take?" "Well, 175 on the winnings and 50 on the count." "Why the hell so much?" "This match up has been buzzing for a while now, I'm sure you know that. Lots of big rollers coming out to see the two golden boys go at it. They've even employed sponsors for this gig. I'm assuming Royce wants this to be a big match." I groaned. Dammit, that meant there was more than just a single winning on this. James would want to make a good damn impression if there were sponsors involved. Me? I didn't give a shit. I fought for a living not for the glory. "I've already submitted our terms. Jasper isn't happy about this but I think you can take him. We just need to get you ready for the shit shots he's going to take." Shit shots my ass. He was going to kick me when I was down. I nodded at him and he nodded back at me in silent agreement. Neither of us was happy about this but in a twisted sort of way it had to happen. It was eventual, I knew that and so did he. James and I fighting was bound to happen sooner or later and it just so happen to be sooner. "So what's the DL on you and the new help?" "Exactly that. The DL. That you are not privileged to knowing and don't go harassing her about it either. I don't need her running from this before it gets to being anything. Don't grill her on it and don't bring it up or so help me I'll be practicing my right hooks on your pretty, boyish face." No matter how hard I tried to contain my composure I had to grin at his beaming smile. He just nodded at me and I knew from the red rising to his face he was trying so hard to bite back an inappropriate comment.

Emmett rose and clasped my shoulder before walking around me and out of the office. Jasper breezed in and they shared some sort of look. I rolled my eyes. I hate that shit. "Edward. I assume that Emmett told you about the match." "Yeah, I'm all a tingle with the knowledge." "I don't like it. James isn't a fair fighter. If you want to pull out I won't give you shit for it. Hell, if I were you I would pull out before I got killed." Part of me wanted to agree and the other part that wielded a club and sported a fur leotard wanted to laugh in his face. I shook my head instead and set my eyes on the cup holder on Emmett's desk. I could see Jasper shaking his head out of the corner of my eye and resisted the urge to snort. "Edward, this isn't like the others. He wants this too much. I think we should bow out and live to fight another day." "No. I'm doing this." "You know James is the one who proposed the match. Not King. James wanted this. He is chomping at the bit for a shot at you and I don't know about you but I have a feeling he has something up his sleeve. He won't lose and he wants this too much. He's making it personal and you know what that means." I did know what that meant but I couldn't back down. Perhaps it was the testosterone induced high I was on from being with Bella the night before. Perhaps it was the perspective that I had newly required from being with her. Maybe it was a twisted attempt at protecting her from shitbags like James. That by eradicating this world one asshole at a time she would be safer. And maybe I was just a prideful motherfucker who didn't want to admit that there was someone out there who packed a harder punch that I did. Whatever it was I wasn't going to back down in this. My rational mind was MIA and I was thinking solely on centuries of holding open doors, laying jackets in puddles, and paying for dinner while coming home to an apron, pearl necklaces, and vacuuming. Jasper sighed and nodded at me once. He knew. He was in my position once.

"So, what's this development with Bella?" "Jesus, you and Emmett are becoming gossiping little women. Let me make this clear. None. Of. Your. Fucking. Business. When I start crying in between my sit ups I'll spill my soul to you, until that day comes just leave it alone." "Alright, well I'll save my spiel on breaking down the whole thing for now but I just want you to know, I think she's good for you. You walked in this morning looking fresh for having the shit beat out of you. I understand you want to keep this under wraps for her sake. Just don't fuck it up. She's a nice girl. I like her and so does Emmett. She took a huge risk yesterday morning for your ass and she almost got herself hurt. She cares about you enough to do that. And while you're my boy and all I will not hesitate to put you in your place if you do hurt her over some stupid shit. I know you Edward and she isn't like the other girls. She's complicated and skittish. I just hope you know what you're getting yourself into. It's going to take patience to work something out with her and I know you aren't one for pacing yourself when you want something."

So much for saving the spiel.

I nodded at him with as much respect I could muster. I might not like the protective air was taking over Bella but I sure as hell understood it. In a way I was appreciative over it because it meant that there was someone else out there who was going to watch over her. That he agreed that she was good for me was nice to know too. I wouldn't have to fight him on the whole thing. Which was saying a lot because we spent two weeks head to head over the fact that I was not going to give up eating pizza. Dieting and training be damned. "I understandand I appreciate it. She's special to me Jasper. I feelout of sorts because of this whole thing and how fast it's going but it's like I need to know her. I need to figure this out and I don't knowI care. I mean I really care about her. It's really scary, and I can't believe I'm going on about this right now, but I need this to work. I need to make this work out. You're right she is skittish and I'm not the best one to be helping her but she makes me feel okay. I don't feel angry with her. I don't feel like I'm just in the motion of things. She's a reason Jasper. She's a reason to do the things I do. I feel like I'm not making any sense here but I want to. I want to be the one who takes care of her. I want to be responsible for her. I want to fuck I want so many things now because of her." He looked semi stunned for a moment. It was possibly the most I had ever talked to him about my feelings and I was feeling a little unsettled at the Oprah moment we just had. Dammit, now I was becoming a gossiping old woman. "Well, that's uh.huh. I'm happy for you man. Just don't fuck it up. I'll be watching and if you do I'll kick your sorry ass." "If I fuck it up, I'll kick my sorry ass and you can take care of the rest." "Good. Now let's go before we start braiding each others hair and giggling. I'm drawing a line here." Laughing we shared a rough hand shake and the classic manly shoulder hug before exiting the cramped office. I waiting around and talked with Jasper and Emmett about started back to training the following week. I inwardly sighed at all the fucking work I was going to have to do to get ready for this fight. While the odds of winning in the ring against James were fifty-fifty at this point I had a bad feeling about the whole thing. Jasper's comment on how James had something up his sleeve was gnawing at me because he was right. James didn't fight fair and the possibilities of what he had in store were terrifying. Those thoughts were dismissed when I took to watching Bella sweep the floors and fight with the mop and bucket. Grinning on the bleachers I realized that this woman was worth all the punches in the world. I could take James. I had to. I would take his self perception down a notch and prove to myself I could be the man that Bella needed. I could be that man in the ring and out of the ring. I was up to the challenge. At that moment Bella looked up at me and smiled.

Definitely worth it.

A/N: Yeah, so two updates so soon. It's not nearly as long as the other chapters and I'm not backing down from those. The deal here is, is that this chapter and the next will be shorter. Around chapter six things will pick up in the length department. So bear with me. I have the outline done this way for a reason. I honestly need a break from the 7-8 thousand word thing. It's going to be on and off long and short until Chapter 11. That bitch is going to enormous.

Leave me some love.

*Chapter 5*: Mi Casa, Su Casa

I don't understand about complimentary colors And what they say Side by side they both get bright Together they both get gray But he's been pretty much yellow And I've been crying blue But all I can see is Red, red, red, red, red now What am I to do I don't understand about Diamonds and why men buy them What's so impressive about a diamond Except the mining And it's dangerous work Trying to get to you too And I think if I didn't have to Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill myself doing it Maybe I would glisten so much for you I've been watching all the time And I still can't find the track And I wanna know is it okay Is it just fine Was it my fault Is it my lack I don't understand about The weather outside The harbinger to the words Somebody lied There's solace a bit for submitting To the fitfully cryptically true What's happened has happened What's coming is already on its way With a role for me to play I don't understand I'll never understand But I'm trying to understand There's nothing else I can do

The weeks that passed after the day Bella and I had first walked into The Ring together were nothing short of incredible. We hadn't explored our physical relationship since the first time we were together and I was alright with that. Getting to know her was so much better. I honestly didn't want to push her too far with that. I wanted there to be more. Something told me having sex all the time would hinder that whole 'I don't really want you for your body but for your mind' thing.

You're such a woman. You might want to check to see if your ballsack hasn't migrated to your chest. Bitch.
We had dinner almost ever night and I became spoiled on her home cooked meals. Bella could cook. Jasper bitched endlessly about all the points on how bad the food was for me until Bella brought him a leftover batch of her spaghetti and he shut the fuck up. I took to coming into the gym earlier and earlier these days. First, I needed to work off all the food that I was taking in and secondly, I needed to work up for this tiff I was going to get into with James. This morning was no different. Bella had the day off and I wondered what she was doing. It peeved me to no end that she hadn't invited me over to her place yet. Whatever the reason she had behind it, it bothered me. Whether she was ashamed of how small it was or the fact that she didn't trust me to know where she lived I didn't know. When I brought it up she just answered with "You're place is much nicer and I would rather be here than there anyway." I didn't push it because I wanted her to open up to me on her own time but damn if it wasn't starting to sting a little. I pulled into the lot and saw Bella's truck sitting in the farthest corner. It was always here when I came to the gym and Emmett had mentioned it was

because she lived pretty close and didn't have parking where she was staying. I had been irritated thinking of her walking home from the gym but I knew to keep my mouth shut. I was however, very close to trailing her home after work just to make sure she got there okay. And maybe just to find out where she was staying. Glancing at the clock on the dash I realized I had fifteen minutes 'til 5, and so I leaned back in the seat and took a deep breath. No reason to walk in there any earlier than I had to. A movement at Bella's truck caught my eye so I sat up and squinted at the cab. There it was again. Someone was inside Bella's truck. What the fuck? I exited my car silently and stalked over to the cab when my breath caught in my throat.

Oh fuck no.
There she was, curled up under a blanket and drooling over a sweatshirt she had bundled into a makeshift pillow. She was sleeping in her truck. Beyond pissed I yanked the door open and glared down at her. She shifted but stayed asleep. This pissed me off even more. Not only was the door not locked but she didn't even hear me open the damn thing. I cleared my throat. Nothing. Suddenly my anger had no limit and I grabbed both her arms firmly and pulled her out of the truck. She shrieked and started to thrash around but I wasn't backing down and honestly she had nothing on me. She was at best 120 soaking wet and had a problem opening a can of tomato sauce. I shut the door with my foot and swung her up in my arms. She kept kicking and shoving. "What the hell are you doing?" "What the hell are you doing? Sleeping in your truck? Are you out of your damn mind? You didn't even lock the door! The windows were cracked! Do you want to get killed?" I opened the door to the Volvo and threw her down into the seat. I slammed the door shut and before she could make a move, I hit the locks. I turned back to her truck and yanked the duffel bag out from under the seat before rolling up the windows and locking the doors. I turned back to the Volvo and saw her pouting in the front seat. I let out a dark chuckle and slid into the driver seat; chucking her bag into the back. I started my rant as soon as the car was in motion. "You want to explain this to me?" "No." "Wrong answer." "I don't owe you an explanation." "Yes, you do." "No, I don't" "Look, I'm not playing this game with you. I want answers right fucking now. You have been sleeping in your truck haven't you? You don't have an apartment. You've been lying to me every night when you leave." "Technically I never lied. I told you I had 'a place.' I just never specified that it was my truck. Where the hell are you taking me?" "Back to my apartment; where you will be staying." "Are you asking me to move in with you?" I huffed and rolled my eyes because her attempt at sarcastic humor was really rubbing me the wrong way. If I weren't so fucking mad at her right now I would probably kiss her for that comment. "No, I'm telling you, you are going to be staying in an apartment and it just happens to be mine. You are not sleeping in your truck. And yeah, you did lie. You should have told me you didn't have a place to go. I mean, really, what did you think? That I wouldn't understand? Jesus, Bella, do you know what could have happened to you?" My voice had steadily increased in volume and I finally realized the one thing that Bella's calm couldn't fix - my anger at her lack of self-preservation. She stewed in the seat next to me and we slipped into silence. Every second I spent thinking about her face lying asleep on that truck bench was fueling my fire. How could she lie to me like that? She fucking lied. And I understood why she had lied. I did. But fuck, she could have been hurt. She could have been raped or killed or fuck, both! To think of her sleeping in that cab all night long. It hurt that she didn't trust me enough to tell me. But then I realized it wasn't that she didn't trust me. She was ashamed. And then I felt like an ass for being so angry with her. I didn't, however, feel bad enough to stop. The car came to a sudden halt in front of my apartment and I flew out of the car, grabbing her bag and walking up the steps. It didn't take long to realize she was still standing on the sidewalk, arms crossed, and just looking pissed. I rolled my eyes and walked to her, grabbing her arm and hauling her into the building. She wasn't fighting me but she wasn't going along with me either. She was going to make this shit difficult. Two flights of dead weight, difficult.

Jamming the keys into the locks I threw open the door and yanked her in. "This is your apartment now, too. If you want, I'll take the couch and you can have the bed. You are not sleeping in that truck anymore. This bullshit is going to stop. You are going to stop lying too and you are going to stop being so fucking flippant about your safety." She was glaring at me and if I wasn't so pissed I might have flinched away from her. She was pretty intimidating for her size. "I appreciate the concern dad but I'm not staying here. I can't afford to pay for the rent and I'm not freeloading off of anyone. Give me my fucking bag and drop it. I'm not a little girl and I'm sure as hell not your responsibility. Get over your little power trip and stop acting like you own me because you don't." "One, you are my responsibility, whether you like it or not. The minute you picked me up off that floor, you became my responsibility. The second Mike fucked with you and proved that you can't take care of yourself, you became my responsibility. Two, you're right, I don't own you but for some fucked up reason you own me. So with that, I'm not backing down off this. You're staying here and that's the end of this discussion." She stared at me with wide eyes. Still pissed but shocked. I cringed when I realized what I had just let slip. That was probably a little too intense of a statement no matter how honest it had been. Apparently, being pissed off at Bella made my mental filter fizzle away. I was on my way to crazy obsessive territory and with how stubborn she was, I knew I was pressing all the wrong buttons. She sucked in a big breath and shook her head. I waited for the onslaught of shit she was going to spew at me. My hands were on my hips and I shifted from foot to foot. I might be pissed at her but I was trying so damn hard to push that down right now. She had some kind of fight in her. And I waitedbecause if I knew my girl at all she didn't let shit like this go. "Alright. But I'm going to start paying rent as soon as I can afford to. I'll be buying the groceries and helping with utilities. And I didn't lie." So that was unexpected. I didn't know what to say. I had prepared for angry rebuttals, not agreement. Well, shit; there go the rest of my arguments. I opened my mouth a few times but only managed to curtly nod at her. Suddenly it was awkward. What the hell do I do now? "As for the sleeping arrangements, I wouldn't be opposed to sharing the bed." And just like that, all the anger, resentment, and awkwardness melted away and I smiled at her. She was looking shyly at the floor with her hands clasped awkwardly at her sides.

Just like that.

Stepping forward, I folded her into my chest and heaved a huge breath; expelling the rest of my tension. Having her in my arms tended to do that. She sniffled and I tightened my hold on her. "What's wrong?" "I didn't mean to lie. I didn't think about it at the time and I hope you don't think I would lie to you. I just didn't want you to know, so I avoided the whole thing."

Aw hell. You're an asshole Masen.

"I don't think you're a liar. Yeah, you did lie about not having a place but I understand why you did it. Justdon't do that again. If there is something going on, tell me. I'm here for you. I would think I've proven by now that I'm interested and I'm willing to make an effort for you." "You have. I justI didn't want you to know. I'm so sorry if you think I did it to hurt you. I just didn't want you to worry. I want you to know I can take care of myself. I can. I'm not a charity case and I knew when you found out, this is what you were going to do. I don't want to take advantage of your kindness." At this I snorted. "Kindness? Try selfishness. I get to wake up with you and go to sleep with you everyday. Trust me this is more for me than for you. The feeling I get when you have to leave every night is terrible. I'm eliminating that. Honestly, if you'd had a place to live, I would still be trying to get you to stay here with me." Her giggle made me feel better about yelling at her earlier. Marginally. I was elated to feel the lightness come back to us so quickly.

Well now she's staying here. What next smarty pants? Shit. Bwahahahaha(serious face) you're fucked. BPOV
In light of certain developments it seems I now have a place to stay. Also in that same light I seem to be living with the sweetest asshole I've ever met. Really, who throws someone in their car and kidnaps them? No matter how homeless they are. Homeless. Wow, that soundssad.

Sigh. I'm so glad you realize this now.

The following two weeks after Edward's forced domicile on me were intense to say the least. All those times when people tell you that you only really know someone after you've lived with them arecompletely true. Edward really was a conundrum. I mean he freaked out if a toothbrush wasn't upright in the holder but didn't give two shits about the toothpaste cap being left off and running all over the counter. He was obsessed with certain articles of clothing, no matter how much he denied it. He hates it when I chew on the caps and don't put them back on the pens when I'm done. They don't ever fit back anyway. He cares nothing about the state of the kitchen and literally eye-fucks that baby grand even though he never touches it. And I discovered he had an office; it was small but functional. While he appreciates my cooking, he offers to make dinner or breakfast a lot. I never trust him to, but they're sweet offers anyway. I do the laundry. He bitches. I wash the dishes. He bitches. I dust. He bitches. I iron his dress shirts. He bitches. I've even taken to folding his undies. He bitched about that, too! I've managed to snag the only man in Chicago who doesn't like to be cared for. It's comical really. I actually think I do these things now just too see how red his face will get and how hard he'll purse his lips before stomping off to do God knows what. He's hot when he's pissed. Wonder what he would do if he figured out I did it on purpose?

Do it. Tell him and keep doing it!

We have settled into a routine of sorts. He leaves for the gym at five and I stay in bed. He kisses me before he leaves. I feel like June Cleaver. I wake up around eight and start my daily routine of scouring the house for general dirtiness. When satisfied there isn't any, I shower, make breakfast and leave for work at eleven unless I have to go in at two. I muddle my way through work and try desperately not to think about a sweaty Edward somewhere in the same building. I should get paid for just doing that. It's fucking hard.

You know, according to R. Kelly there's nothing wrong with a little bump and grind.
The sex thing has not happened again since the first night. That fact was depressing. Now it just pisses me off. I feel kinda weird sleeping in the same bed with him and not getting his last workout of the day. He's hot. I'm kinda not. I mean, I'm no Repunzel but I'm sure as hell no ogre. Today would be no different I was sure of that. Same routine and no sex.

Since when do you think like a man? Seriously, be happy he doesn't just want you for your booty.
Then stop mentioning R. Kelly and bumping and grinding. It's disrupting my concentration.

I don't see nothing wrong (nothing wrong) With a little bump and grind!
Go to hell. After the first day back to the gym and despite the fact that he wasn't training, his demeanor seemed to change. He became more pensive when I asked him about his upcoming match. There was something he was keeping from me. Jasper and Emmett would mention it occasionally but as soon as they realized I was anywhere near earshot they would stop. Snippets of a person named James, fighting dirty, and 'EMS response times' seemed to grab my attention. EMS? Really? I tried to ask in subtle ways but Edward would clam up tighter than a tipsy nun caught after curfew. I knew in my gut there was something big about this match. I felt like a little kid being lied to about where babies came from. From what I did see of Edward in the gym, he was really good. I had nothing to compare him to and I might have been biased but he seemed fast and light on his feet.

Hahahahaha. Alright, really, that one was too easy so I'm going to be nice and just not say anything.
I grumbled to myself on the way to the supply closet for the leather polish and box of wipes. Emmett had an unhealthy obsession with the faux leather corner posts on their ring. The damn thing was pretty ratty but it still held its vibrant red and blue colors. I was mandated to polish it daily with leather cleaner - preserving what it had left of its dignity, I'm sure. The mat was disassembled today and I was sure it was because of the leg that kept breaking. The whole ring seemed lopsided, so they were fixing it constantly. The posts were leaning against the only wall free of bleachers or doors; I cautiously made my way to them. Dodging guys throwing punches and practicing form, I finally made my way to my prize. Two poles down, two to go and then the rope guards. I'm assuming, because I'm naturally slow to catch myself, I would be naturally slow at seeing horrible things that are about to happen to me. I wish it were true that time slowed down and every detail was noticeable when I'm about to get hurt but this is not the case. If it were, I might be able to catch myself in time. It seems, however, that time actually speeds up to an alarming rate where everything is a blur and I finally seem to grip reality when I'm already bleeding or maimed. This was the case now. I didn't know what had happened, only that I was lying on my back with something very big and very sweaty lying on top of me. My eye was shooting daggers into my brain and my arm was twisted painfully underneath me. The sweaty heavy thing was not moving. I was becoming alarmed.

One, Two, Three, Four.seriously get upFive, Six, Seven

And then the weight was gone only to be replaced by yelling, shuffling and.crunching? Was I crunching? Was I crying? What the fuck just happened?

My fingers squeezed underneath me and painfully recoiled when they felt the excruciating stings of sharp plastic. I was still holding onto the bottle of leather cleaner. I felt the oily rag in my hand but it was starting to get numb. My lungs burned as they fought for the air that had been knocked out of me. I was roughly lifted off the floor and placed on the closest patch of bleacher seating available where my eye began to painfully throb and I was vaguely aware of Edward being somewhere in the room. He does have that effect on people. Or maybe it's just me who feels the tingles When I looked down I was confronted with blood. Lots of it. Apparently, that fucking bottle of cleaner was made of plastic hard enough to shatter. My shirt was spotted in the dark viscous matter. I tipped my head back and tried not to look at it. Not particularly squeamish over blood but it did seem to make the throbbing that much more real. Emmett was cupping my face in his hands and saying something. What, I have no idea because there was this low base humming in my ears. That can't be good, right?

You just got KO'ed homie! Okay so I know I already used one but I have to do this. WELCOME TO THE THUNDERDOME BITCH. 'Kay, I'm better now. Oh and good luck with that shiner. It's going to suck.
What? I was staring at Emmett trying to make heads or tails of what he was saying when I saw a shock of copper hair from behind his ear. I leaned over a fraction only to have Emmett re-steady me. It still wasn't fast enough for me to miss Edward pummeling a guy against the walls next to those stupid cushioned poles. What the hell did I miss here? Noises were starting to bleed into my brain and that's the exact moment I realized I wanted the silence to stay because it was fucking loud in here. Whatever was causing that amazing low buzzing needed to come back before I hunted it down throttled it for leaving me in my dire state. I shook my head carefully at Emmett and pushed my good, greasy hand at his shoulder. He seemed confused for a moment before rocking back on his heels and then I saw something that was startling. Jasper was yanking on Edward's shoulders (to no avail) as he punched an unknown man in the stomach repeatedly. The man's head was leaning on Edward's shoulder and lolling around. He looked unconsciousdrunk possibly. I watched for what could have been hours because as fate would have it, after I was hurt, everything started to slow down. Jesus, Edward looked feral. Every muscle was stretched taunt and he seemed dazed himself. The precision of his punches and the focus of his hits were impressive. If I didn't feel so damn bad about that guy getting the shit beat out of him, I would probably be droolingout of my panties. The muscles in Edwards back were twitching tightly with every pull and push of his fist. I could see his thighs straining as he leaned his weight forward, trapping the man against the wall. His hair was falling into his eyes but that didn't seem to deter him from knowing exactly where to throw the most effective hooks. With the stinging pain of my eye and hand rushing me back into reality, pieces of what just happened began to fall into place. Unknown man was the sweaty heavy weight. The yelling was Edward.

Bravo! The next Nancy Drew ladies and gentlemen!

No-name man spit up blood "Emmett, stop him." I could barely force the words out of my parched mouth but I knew he heard me. He nodded his head after a second and leaped up with what I considered rather good agility for someone that big and propelled himself at Edward's back. Between Emmett and Jasper, they managed to get him off. No-name man fell to the floor and some other guys picked him up and hauled him off to die or get fixed, I don't really know. Edward stood stock still against Emmett's side, his breathing labored and his stance predatory; his head bowed low as he looked up through his lashes, his shoulders hunched and his knees slightly bent. He watched as they drug the unconscious man away. Where ever they're taking that guy, I hope it was another country. Thought was moving away from me and I really wanted to go to sleep. I very carefully leaned down on the side body that wasn't bleeding and closed my eyes although I'm sure it was really just a crash landing onto the scarred wooden plank. I didn't even care about the plastic in my hand anymore and that was saying something 'cause I'm sure that cleaner isn't good when rubbed into open flesh. Vaguely aware of being picked up and sort of coherent for the car ride, while a little lucid when we entered the apartment, I was finally settled onto the toilet in the bathroom and briefly thought of the irony of this situation. Haven't we done this before? "Bella? Bella, sweetie can you hear me?" That was Jasper. Sweet, caring, lovely Jasper who takes such good care of my Edward. Where is Edward? Oh, that must be the continuous yelling. Yeah, that's Edward. I don't think his face has ever been that red before. White splotches were scattered throughout the red. He was really flushed. It was so cute. "Huh? Jasper, you know what? You're my second favorite guy. Really, but don't tell Emmett. I like Emmett but you're second and he's third." "Shit, I think she has a concussion."

I wish he wouldn't say shit like that because it makes Edward yell louder and that makes my head hurt more. "Conshushon? I'm cool. I just fell. Again. No biggie." "No that asshole tackled you! He could have broken your arm or your leg, or Jesus you could have cracked your fucking head open on that floor!" "There's no bleeding coming from her head but she needs a hospital for her hand." Edward was yelling again and he was doing it really close to my head. Ouch. "Hey! Shhhhh, too loud there, baby. I mean, I like it when we get loud but Jesus, cool it. By the way, why haven't we gotten loud again? I mean lazy. I mean sex. Why haven't we get gotten sex? Do you not like my girly parts anymore?" "She needs to go to the hospital." Jasper reiterated. "No! No doctors. Please? They smell like plastic and needles." Jasper smirked at me while Edward rolled his eyes. I was being ganged up on "You're going to the hospital." Edward was ordering me around. It was aggravating and kinda hot.

Oh, Hell. Regroup! Get it together! We have a goal! We have a purpose!

"You didn't go to the hospital and you were passed out on the floor. You're a hypigrit. Hypocrite." Dammit, I was hurting my case here and I knew it. But I hated hospitals. I mean really hated them. I spent a lot of time there as a kid and when you're equilibrium sucks as bad as mine there seems to be a reoccurring theme of stitches and needles. I mean really, why can't tetanus shots last forever? My internal monologue rolled its eyes. It knew I was losing too. Edward glared at me and I noticed the cuts on his knuckles.

Attention span of a gnat

"Jesus, Edward! Jasper, look at his hands! He" "has had worse but right now you're my priority. Tell me Bella how do you feel? What hurts?" "My heart?" Cause I wanted Edward to want my nibbly bits. "Seriously?" He seemed honestly concerned "No." Yes. He sighed and shook his head. I felt like Charlie was about to tell me I couldn't really go to the movies with Eric because he got a speeding ticket the week before. Fucking Forks, fucking five miles over the speed limit. Thank God for tickets though 'cause I really didn't want to go out with him, he had greasy hair that he tried to hide behind all that gel and

Alright get in the game here, because right now, you're actually talking out loud and I think Edward's about to have an aneurism.
Oops. "Okay, so I might need to go to the hospital." And with that we were off! And I mean off, cause Edward picked me up so fast I felt the urge to vomit.

Yeah, that's classy. Thanks for taking care of me sweetie! *barf*

The ride was making me feel light headed. Although I'm sure that had less to do with the actual car ride and more to do with the fact that I bled out at least a quart of blood. It was like someone pressed the pause button for a moment and then we were at the hospital when fast forward went into 3x. The throbbing in my eye was taking a back burner to the intense burning in my hand. I cringed when the doctor entered my cubical/curtain cave. The sanitary paper wrap under my ass was crinkling and every damn crunch pissed me off. I felt infectious. Edward hovered over me with one hand on my back and the other one grasping the forearm of my injured hand. He seemed to be muttering things about killing, motherfucking cunt bags, and impaling. I wasn't sure but I think it had something to do with No-name man at the gym and me. I however wanted to apply them to the doctor currently prodding my palm as he was 'uh-hu-ing', 'mhmm-ing', and generally being one of those know-it-all dickwads who don't say shit to you about what they're discovering.

One more prod with that cotton ball, mister, and I'm twitching a slap at your face.
I would have rolled my eyes if one of them wasn't trying to simultaneously burrow into my brain while swell itself out of its lid. Words like throbbing, banging, squeezing, stinging, burning, and aching were running through my mind before I realized that the doctor was ordering an x-ray. Suddenly dollar signs started to pervade my senses and I realized I had no way to pay for this visit.

"Uh, I'm actually feeling a lot better. Can I just go home, take a Motrin and sleep it off?" The omniscient doctor looked like I just told him I could shit starfish. "Ms. Swan, you very likely have a concussion. You need stitching on your hand. I would advise you stay right where you are and let us do our job." I felt Edward's fingertips dig into my back. I don't know if it was because the good doctor seemed to get snappy with me or because he was upset that I was being difficult. Either way that shit was getting old. I'm hurt enough here. I shrugged in a vain attempt at detaching his hand which probably ended up with me looking like a little kid physically throwing a fit. It didn't work.

After forty-five minutes, posing for two x-rays, making idle conversation with a nurse older than Methuselah and pointedly ignoring Edward, I was allowed to leave. No concussion, no fucking narcotics, just a white gauze patch over my eye and five neat little stitches under my thumb. Oh, and a pissed off Edward to boot.

Because I clearly asked to get pummeled. Asshole.

He smirked at me, rather triumphantly when he paid my bill. I would be pissed about that later. Right now it hurts too much. It's too bad I'm in love with him or I could really learn to hate his ass.

What? Aw, shit. I woke up with a splitting headache and Edward's nose centimeters from my own. I would have jerked my head back if I could but every inch of my body didn't want to co-operate. His eyes were wide and I could just see the wheels turning. I shouldn't have tried to laugh but it was too fucking funny. He looked startled and confused and just worried about what to do now. Like a first time babysitter who just realized the Pampers bag doesn't have instructions. I could only imagine his overactive mind playing out all the scenarios that might arise after I awoke. He jumped up and grabbed a glass of water off the night stand, sloshing it around and losing some of it on his pillow, as well as what seemed to be two pills.

Come to mamma!
Downing the pills and the water, I leaned back into the awesomeness that is Edward's bed and just vegged. He was attentive and tender the entire day. I could only recall the hilarity of the scolding he got from Jasper when we returned to the apartment with a smirk. It was funny as all hell watching Jasper talk to him like that and to see Edward actually look pennant for his douchbaggery, because that is exactly what all that unnecessary yelling wasdouchbaggery. I really didn't care about the content he was spewing only the volume at which it had been coming out. For all I know he was telling me that Martians had landed and we were all going to die from toxic inhalation of alien gas. But today, he was quiet and polite. Being so sweet to get whatever I wanted. By five I was feeling much better. He iced my face and stroked my cheek while we watched movies and he babied me. I loved every second of it.

I should get hit more often.

"Don't you have training?" "Jasper gave me a few days off." "When is your match?" "I think I should get more ice." "I think you should stop being a mamby pamby and tell me when your fight is." "Next week, Saturday." "See, now that wasn't so hard was it? Who are we fighting?" "I am fighting a guy named James." The answers he was giving me were short and curt. I was irritating him but he was humoring me. Pissy Edward is really cute. "Whatever, you know what I meant. What do you get when you win? Do you get a big, shiny belt?" "One hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars. And no, no belt." "Holy shit! Do you get that much every time you fight?"

"No, that's just what the stakes on winning are up to this time. The count is fifty thousand." "Count?" "If I lose. I get fifty thousand, if I lose. One hundred and seventy-five if I win." "You get money if you lose?" He laughed at me. Boxing vocabulary, know-it-all, Bastard. "If there wasn't some kind of pay off no one would want to do this. It kinda helps to stave off cheating too. If there is some sort of compensation for getting your ass handed to you, then you're less likely to try and take the competition out before the fight." "But they still tried to take you out before the fight." "That's because the asshole I'm fighting Saturday doesn't think he can beat me fairly. Now I think it's time you get into bed. You've been up for a while." "Stop mothering me. I still want to talk." "Well I don't. I'm going to bed and you're coming with me." "Ugh, whatever."

Happy dance! He said you're coming with him...

Stop singing in my head. He lifted me easily and I sank into his chest. I might be irritated about being shushed and put to bed but that didn't mean I couldn't enjoy the finer points of Edward's manhandling. He fed me more pills then tucked me in and spooned up next to me; careful to stay a respectable distance from my eye and mindful of the placement of my hand. I dreamt of Edward, EMS, and money falling out of the gym's ceiling while people counted to ten.

A/N: So just a few things...

I happened to be watching a Priceline commercial when mamby pamby made its way in there. Damn Shatner...so yeah. Sorry. Also I felt a little snarky while I was writing this up so that's probably why Bella has a little more bite I don't do shout-outs. Srsly. I don't. I feel like I leave people out and then its just favoritism With that said

CheddahCheddah, Cheddah, Cheddah... can I have your babies?

No, really though, will you go to the Prom with me? I promise no car accidentsor hospital visitscross my heart

Severe love for Cheddah and her Beta-ing of this chapter. She is the Dom of my out of control commas and frequent uses of the words honestly and however (and I'm sure more). Also, thank you, for the encouragement needed to put aside my fear of clich hell when it comes to being
homeless and getting in a tiff with unknown assholes. And for putting up with multiple random emails all with updated edits of this chaptercause I couldn't just leave it aloneso yeah, thanks for that. Officially you are my Grammar Jesus. Oh and for realizing my major character blunder with Mike. Yeah, still feeling retarded on that oneOh! and for the whole Fightward thing. You have no idea how amazing I feel that I got a special -ward name. Srslyadded it to my Word doc. Dictionary Cause its just wrong for it to have a squiggly under it. And I need to wrap this up cause I'm one step away from buy a broken heart necklace and mailing you the BF side to my F I'M ON T'D! Much love to LucyLu and the girlies over at Twilighted who pimped my whore of a fic out. Muchas gracias! Do I make a banner now or some sort of avatar thingy? I'm not quite sure what appropriate Twilight fan-fic etiquette requires me to do. Do I wait for a certain amount of reviews or chapters before that step? Bah. So yeah, here's the linkage for that cause I was instructed to do soI really hope this shows up when I postif it don't work let me know via PM right. http:/www(dot)twilighted(dot)net/forum/viewtopic(dot)php?f=44&t=2984&p=320137#p320137

Anyway! Thank you so much! Alright now that, that's over with :::shakes off squishy face::: Getting some flack about how my summary isn't that invitingshould I change it? I'm not so good with summaries. They're my kryptonite. Next chapter isheavyfor lack of a better word. Srsly. Srsly. (cause i just like saying that.) Leave me some love.

*Chapter 6*: Oh No You Didn't

Chapter 6 EPOV Oh No You Didn't Think Twice - Eve6 Breathing in lightning Tonight's for fighting I feel the hurt so physical Think twice before you touch my girl Come around I'll let you feel the burn Think twice before you touch my girl Come around come around no more Think twice before you touch my girl Come around I'll let you feel the burn Think twice before you touch my girl Come around no more EPOV
Bella had nodded off a few minutes ago. I kept time with her breathing and when I was sure she had finally gone under, I propped myself up on my elbow and looked down at her. Her features were both defined and softand so delicate.

Either grow some tits or start taking some 'roids. This mix-n- match of sappy sweet and caveman are giving me whip lash.
I traced a finger over the apple of her cheek. She was getting a nice shiner. The angry shading was like spilling red ink on a white canvas. She was still very swollen, her eyelid puffed out and her lashes spread oddly. I could feel the fury rising up inside me. It was a reminder of how quickly things can go wrong.

I was sweating like a whore in church on Sunday. Jasper's ugly face was peering over his gloves at me and I deflected another hit to the ribs. He pivoted and took another shot only to hit my forearm. I was keeping pretty good form. I made some more blocks and deflected his kicks and then he signaled for me to take a break before sparring. It was typical warm up shit. Sit-ups then practice jabs, push-ups then practice hooks, lunges then practice kicks, and chin-ups then blocking drills. After that came the sparring; the fun stuff. I pulled off my shirt and reached for a new bottle of water and a towel. My shorts were thankfully not plastered to my legs yet but they were getting there. I walked out into the annex and immediately caught sight of Bella. She was on the other side of the gym wiping down the ring posts; her delicious little ass waving around in the air. Rallying my self control I turned toward the blue mats that were laid out in place of the ring to get warmed up only to have my traitor eyes wander back to Bella. I watched her rub the cloth up and down over the worn red post. Her arms were fully extended and the soft definition of her muscles flexed gently as she applied pressure I groaned and leaned back against the wall just watching her and trying desperately not to pitch a tent. Jasper was chatting away with, who I suppose, was the bastard I was going to spar with. My eyes were narrowed in on Bella so tightly, I didn't notice the fucktard backing toward her while sparring with another asshole. Suddenly, his elbow came back and connected with her face and my legs were abruptly moving the rest of my body towards them. I watched in morbid horror as he lost his footing, fell back and landed on her. Her head bounced off the floor once, and only once, before she was prone. He was only on her for a few seconds before I yanked him up by his shirt. One glance over my shoulder at the blood splattered on the floor around her and I was detached. I braced my forearm against the fucker's throat and just let go. I could feel my knuckles cutting against his ribs; the rough stinging as sweat mingled with blood and the wrap's abrasive material rubbed against them. My legs were straining to rise up and knee the bastard. I felt a strange resistance on my neck and shoulders. This was not tolerable. I knew outside of my head that I was calling him every name in the book I could think of just to get my point across. Nonsensical sentiments of how I was going to fuck him up while my fist made good on those promises. He shuttered beneath me and the blood weakly spit from his mouth, sprinkling my bare shoulder. Then the resistance was tripled and I was aware of Emmett's usually sunny face, glaring at me in concern. I watched as they dragged the man away, just itching to rush him, break that elbow off his body and feed it to him. I finally focused on what was happening around me and I could see Jasper racing past. And then there was Bella- her face swollen and already reddening; her hand gushing blood. She lay on the bench so stiffly and still my heart stuttered for a moment in the middle of its racing and I couldn't find the instinct to breathe anywhere. Jasper's hands were on her neck and face, brushing the hair away and checking her eye. He reached into his pocket and took out a roll of soft

gauze and sports tape. Yanking something out of her hand he quickly wound the gauze around her palm and taped it up.
Now, I know Jasper is on our side here, but really, this has got to stop. Go get her and take care of her.

When I finally reached her, Jasper backed up and if this whole situation wasn't eating me alive, I would have laughed when he stumbled. Her limp body swung easily into my arms and I glanced up at Emmett. He whipped his head around and started to wave the gym members back. Jasper walked ahead of me opening doors and my car keys from somewhere. For the first time in two years someone else drove the Volvo and I sat in the back. We arrived at my place in record time. I carried her up the stairs and into the apartment thinking back a few weeks to when she had done the same for me. If at all possible, I felt myself more enraged about her being hurt. She seemed to come to in the bathroom when I set her down. Jasper cast worried looks at me so I glared at him.
"Look, I think you should just let me take a look at her. You're shakin' pretty hard man and your hands are kinda cut up. Just let me check her

over." After a few seconds of debating I relinquished her shoulders and let Jasper do his thing. If there was one person in the world I trusted it would be Jasper. When Bella finally came to she looked drunk. I knew from first hand experience that her dazed behavior was thanks to a hard hit to the head .I couldn't help but fume in the background of her and Jasper's exchange. Each slurred word that came from her mouth made me want to hunt that bastard down and ensure his internal organs were busted open. By the time she was done proclaiming that I didn't want her sexually and Jasper knew more than I would like for him to about us, she decided she did indeed need to be seen by a doctor. It was funny, because it didn't matter if she knew it or not, she was going. The emergency room visit was fun too. I kept getting these looks from the nurses and the doctor - like I was the asshole that hit her. She ignored me for most of the visit and when she asked if she could go home and just sleep it off, I knew exactly why. She knew she couldn't pay for the xrays. But seriously, we were already there and this was already going to be expensive. I was glad to pay when we left. I mean, after my whole rant on taking care of her, I wasn't about to not pay. Money was no object anymore, not really. I sacrificed my face and body for the money in my bank account. The least it could do was pay for her to get fixed up. For all that she did for meit was worth ten times the amount. I felt pleased and pissed off all that the same time. I might have been a hypocrite when I made her go to the hospital, but she was a hypocrite when it came to letting other people care for her.
The urges of hostility had been deadened by the fact that she was okay but it seemed at times like these, when I couldn't see her eyes or hear her voice, it would begin to bubble up again. The whole bathroom incident had been playing in my head on repeat all night. I wanted to tell her that I did want her. I wanted her badly but I felt so ass backwards with everything that had already happened, I didn't know what to do. I was close to losing my control before I found out she didn't have a place to stay. It seemed that whole fiasco set us back in the physical progression of our relationship; in my mind at least. I wanted her to feel secure with me. I could sense the underlying tension radiating off her. She was just waiting for the let down. I didn't know how else to convince her that I was game for this. I wanted this. I wanted her.

Okay, I'm going to just let you think on that a minute and see if you figure it out yourself
Jesus, I'm an ass. Of course she feels that way! I haven't touched her in over two weeks. Cuddling and making out was not the same as sex. She thought I didn't find her attractive anymore. "Do you not like my girly parts anymore?" Yeah, I'm an asshole. A stupid, fucking, asshole. Groaning, I fell back onto my pillow and ran a hand through my hair.

Now, you have the problem. Solution it.

Well, clearly there is only one way to fix this. But I can't go sexin' her up when she's like this. Can I? No. I can't.

I have to make it special. I have to really show her that I want her; leave no doubt in her mind that she drives me fucking crazy. I have to fix this. I'm not really the candles and rose petals type of guy. What the hell do I do? I've never needed to do anything like this before. Romantic evenings just seemed redundant to me when all the two people really want is to just jump into bed and go at it like bunnies.

Hello? I thought we were done being stupid.

I need a plan. I need romance. I need something that says 'You are the hottest woman I have ever seen and that one time we did have sex was so amazing that I can't stop thinking about it, but I'm too emotionally inept to find the right balance between fucking your brains out and showing you that I want you to stay around forever.' I need something like that. Do they make Hallmarks like that? I could just get a blank one and write it in there


(A week later)

Light sensations ghosted over my bare hips. Edward is awakeI was aware that it was still dark in the bedroom. My eyes peeked open to see the alarm clock reading 11:30. It had only been a few hours since we climbed into bed. I notice the bathroom light was on, casting dim light into the room. I craned my neck around and peered into Edward's green eyes. They were hooded and dilated. My breath caught; afraid to make any move that would snap him out of this.

Please, please, please let this mean what I think this means.
His fingers continued their path back and forth below my bellybutton, slowly easing lower and lower toward the waistband of my panties. He leaned forward and pressed his lips against mine so softly I almost didn't feel the contact, then his fingers dipped below the fabric and I was made acutely aware of just how wet I was. Damn wet dreams. His moan against my mouth paired with his fingers parting my folds revved me into action. I reached up and took a hold of his neck, slanting my lips over his and kissed him hard.

Finally! Getting some damn action!

I felt his hard length pressing into my hip bone as he began to grind it against me. God damn did I want this but something wasn't right. Something was nagging at me to stop, assess the situation, and then proceed. "Wait.wait. You're match is tomorrow. Are you sure we should be doing this?" "Do you wanna wait until after the fight? I don't know if I'm going to be up for this for a while after that." His voice was husky as he spoke against my shoulder. Then in one swift movement, his fingers left my panties and yanked my/his shirt over my head and tossed it off to the side.

Well there you go negative Nancy. Now shut the hell up and let's do this shit.
He returned to his previous attentions and I swallowed hard, trying not to think of him being hurt tomorrow night. Once back in my panties, his fingers moved up and down my heat, not entering me; teasing me. My legs were shaking in no time and right before I was about to snap at him to just do ithe did. He slipped two fingers in and started slow motions, curving them just right and making me pant. God, he is way too good at that. "I want you to know that it has been hell these past few weeks to see you, touch you, and not do this." Gah, how can he form words right now? "I love your 'girly parts' and tonight I'm going to show you just how much I want them; just how much I want you." Jesus Tap-dancing Christ.

Code Blue! Code Blue! We need responses, Stat!

"Unnnngh. That feels so good."

We're flat-lining here!

"Shhh, let me take care of everything. Let me make you feel good, baby." There are no words. There are only fingers and hands and did he just call me 'baby'? Oh, he just found a nipplewith his mouth. I arched into him and he slipped his other arm under my back; wrapping it around my waist to hold me still. Those miraculous fingers of his were slowly unraveling me into a hot mess. He was trailing open mouthed kisses and licks up to my neck. I felt like I was in a tiny box and the walls were Edward. Embarrassingly enough he didn't really need to shush me, I couldn't have formed a thought verbally if I'd tried. He picked up his pace and pressed the flat pad of his thumb against my clit and started to rub slow circles over it. I was dangerously close to coming. "Come on. Come for me. You're so beautiful, Bella. So fucking, beautiful." And just because he asked so nicely, I did. I came. All over those glorious fingers. I bucked and moaned and clawed at his neck and shoulders. Dropping my ass back down onto the mattress I realized that this was just the beginning of his plans. His knee came up and spread my legs; settling himself between them. I was buzzing with anticipation for him but I didn't feel what I wanted to feel. He held himself up and away from me. I arched and writhed but still nothing. "Now, now. I'm not done with you yet." He slid down, kissing his way between my breasts while nuzzling my painfully hard nipples with his nose and breathing in deeply. It was far too erotic, watching his eyes flutter shut when he did so. He pressed kisses along my stomach and licked my bellybutton. Before long my lust educed brain realized what he was going after. Oh God, not that, anything but that!

Anything but that? No, anything but 'don't stop'. How often have you thought about his head between your legs?

Sure enough his arms slid under my thighs and gripped my wrists, effectively keeping me still. I felt his hot breath against the damp cloth of my panties and shuttered. Holy shit. I looked down and saw him staring right back at me. His eyes, half mast, as he pressed his nose against my clit and softly rubbed it. I was panting hard now and I'm sure I looked desperate. My eyes flickered to his jaw as it slowly lowered and his tongue came out to lick over my panties. My head dropped back onto the pillows and my chest jutted out. If this is what I get for waiting, I would wait forever. He made slow, agonizing licks against me while his nose burrowed into my clit and I knew I was in trouble. When he added the vibrations of a growl, I cried out. He released my wrists and whipped up, grasping the waistband of my panties and ripping them down. They joined my shirt. He was back down in a flash, pressing his forearms against my spread thighs and breathing harshly against me. "I want you, Bella. I need you. Do you believe me?" All I could do was nod. Lust overdrive was an understatement. "Tell me Bella, tell me you believe me." "II believeoh God, I believe you. Please, I believe you!" His tongue wasoh fuck I have no words to describe it. Soft, rough, firm and probing. Those are all words. He worked his mouth like his fingers: magically. Alternating between long rough passes and thrusts into my pussy; he avoided my clit with skill. My hands went to the back of his head and pulled him up, trying to get him to just lick it. Just lick it please God, I need it. I felt his lips around me finally and came close to just wailing. Delicious torture. That's what this was. He was torturing me. One second his face was planted against me and the next, gone. My eyes snapped open and I threw my head down looking for him. He was kneeling between my legs, his hands gripping my thighs and looking at me. His eyes moving slowly from my slick heat, up my stomach, lingering on my breasts and then they met my eyes. "You are worth so much more than I could ever give you." He fell over me, catching himself before our bodies met, his palms flat down on either side of my head. I was in full blown savage mode. I would, without a doubt, come back to his words later and figure out what they meant but for right now I wanted that in there and now. I grabbed his neck and pulled him down to me and I readily ignored the stinging coming from my stitching, kissing him for all I was worth as my legs wrapped around his waist. It was pathetic, the whimpering, the grinding, the animalistic way I was practically begging for him. But fuck, it had been weeks and I was made to think about this for all that time. All those days in the gym, watching him, half naked and sweating. All those nights curled up with him. Every morning feeling his hard cock pressed against my ass only to have him roll over and get in the shower to do what I'd wanted to do so badly. It was too much. The culmination of weeks of sexual tension and frustration was radiating off me. I was going to get this and he was going to give it to me. And he knew what I wanted. He knew exactly what I needed. Pulling away he looked down at me. "I'm going to show you, Bella. I'm going to make sure you know exactly how much I love every inch of your body and just how hard it was to restrain myself." Before I could sort through that statement to save for later, I felt his shaft slide over my wet entrance. Once, twice, and the third time the tip pressed against me. He was smirking at me; his arms locked on either side of my head. With every inch that slid in his smirk faltered and his cocky demeanor was replaced with hunger. His eyes were hard and the muscles on his shoulders flexed. When he was buried to the hilt and I was successfully at his mercy, only then did he look away. His eyes darted down to where we were joined and he groaned. Instinctively, I bucked my hips up and heard him hiss. "Fuck, it's too much. You're too much." He groaned. I'm still curious to know how he can talk while I'm having trouble breathing which should be an automatic bodily function. His hips began doing wonderful things while my hands gripped his biceps feeling just how hard he was as he ground into me. Nothing would ever be as good as this. Nothing would ever feel this right. I was quickly losing touch with reality and focusing all my attention on the goings-on between my legs. Sweet, tormenting thrusts. He face dipped low to capture my left nipple in his mouth and bite down gently. Gasping, I threaded my fingers into his hair and held him there.

Never, ever let him leave this spot. It is your new mission in life.
I clenched around him involuntarily and he shuttered above me, moaning into my flesh. Despite the primitive actions and the absurd noises coming from me, this whole experience felt like more. I felt the emotions coming from every touch, every tender movement. He was loving me. He was showing me how much he cared for me. I would tell him; I would tell him how I felt. But right now didn't quite seem like the right moment. Declaring your undying devotion in the throws of passion was never a good idea. As it turned out, right now wasn't the right moment for anything but flying into a state of oblivion. He was pulling me farther and farther into him while concurrently seeping into me. He was everywhere - in my head, in my heart, inside meeverywhere. I felt my head start to tingle and realized I had stopped breathing in my efforts to focus all my attention into his actions. So I sucked in a huge breath and moaned when he gripped my right knee and raised it up, tucking it under his elbow. He sank deeper into me hitting that sweet spot. I released his head and instead decided to grasp at his shoulders in an attempt to ground myself from this floating feeling.

His grunts matched his thrusts and hearing how much he was enjoying brought me closer to the end. My own voice was whimpering pathetically as my head rolled back onto the pillows. I had to hold out. This had to last. I wanted this feeling to go on forever. "God, Bella, you feel sofuckso good. It's so good." My eyes rolled back of their own volition. I was panting into his hear and moaning his name. He grunted in response, leaned back gripping my knees, sliding his hands up my thighs to my ankles and yanked me down roughly. He pulled my legs up and my calves pressed into his shoulders. I gulped and fucking shrieked when he drove himself back in. My torso arched as my hands blindly sought the grip I needed in the sheets beside me. His hands had a firm hold of my hips as he drove into me at an insane pace. My head thrashed on the sheets. "I want you, dammit! I want all of you! Fuck, no one makes me feel this way. Come Bella. Come for me. Fuck, I want to feel you come! Come for me baby, come for me, come for me, come for me" "Harder, please harder! Edward, oh, fuck, I'm so close. I'm" I let go. I had no choice but to let go. My insides were freezing and melting, convulsing and burning around him. It was close to being painful. My fingernails dug into his forearms and my heels dug into his shoulders as I came around him. He slid my legs down again and kissed my neck. After a few more powerful thrusts, I felt the hot heat of him spilling into me. His whimpered sob was muffled in my neck. We lay like that for a few moments, staying connected to one another and calming our breathing. When he was soft inside me he pulled out and yanked me into his chest. "I want you Bella. And I want you to know that I feel so much for you. I justI've never been the kind of person who knew how to say these things. I'm not the most romantic guy and I will no doubt fuck things up but I'll always show you how much I want you. I'll spend the rest of my life showing you how much I care if that's what it will take." "Thank you. I I know you mean it and I'm sorry if it seems like I'm asking for too much too soon. I'm happy to just be here with you. I I'm falling in love with you." His face was suspiciously neutral and I felt the shivers of panic course through me. It was too soon to tell him that. It was too fucking fast for him. How the hell do I backpedal from this? "I can't say it back. I want to. I...feel strongly for you. I know that I want you in every way. But I can't say that to you. Not right now." I nodded because I understood. He'd said it all. He feels strongly, he wants me in every way, but he just can't say it. I understand. And I will not over think this right now. He wants me and for right now, that's enough. A/N: puff puff pass. srsly. i went through like two packs of smokes on that one. So, I hope everyone likes the lemon. And I hope this clears up any ?'s as to what happened with Bella and her shiner. And yea, Fightward has some emotional issues where he just cant say it back. I know. hate me all you wanna. This was supposed to be a heavy chapter...but alas plans have changed next chapter will be the heavy shizza. kk? alright so i love everyone who reviews. i do i love you all. i thank you all. no matter what the hell you say i appreciate it for realz. with that being said. please please please check out this link... for my peace of mind. and for every other author on this site just check it out. really.

just remove the (dot)'s and put in .'s and go. srsly. read it, then review. Leave me some love...

*Chapter 7*: I Know Down and Out

Disclaimer/Warning: I am not responsible for any bodily harm that comes from this chapter. I am not responsible for the hotness that is Fightward. I am not responsible for swooning, sniffling, and/or any emotional outburst due to angst. Oh, and I'm not Stephanie Meyer. I don't own Twilight or any of its characters.but I do own Fightward.BWAHAHAHAHAHA. CHAPTER 6 EPOV BPOV I KNOW/ DOWN AND OUT
I Know Fiona Apple

So be it, I'm your crowbar If that's what I am so far Until you get out of this mess And I will pretend That I don't know of your sins Until you are ready to confess But all the time, all the time I'll know, I'll know And you can use my skin To bury secrets in And I will settle you down And at my own suggestion, I will ask no questions While I do my thing in the background But all the time, all the time I'll know, I'll know Baby-I can't help you out, while she's still around So for the time being, I'm being patient And amidst this bitterness If you'll consider this-even if it don't make sense All the time-give it time And when the crowd becomes your burden And you've early closed your curtains, I'll wait by the backstage door While you try to find the lines to speak your mind And pry it open, hoping for an encore
EPOV I woke up around 10:30 feeling pretty damn good about myself. Bella was all smiles and giggles for the most part. Her face was just glowing and I wanted to hunt down my 'two week ago self' and tell him to find her and take her right then. We lay in bed for almost an hour; piddling with each other. It was so normal and peaceful. I felt like my chest was swollen up inside and it was constricting my breathing but in the best way. Her hair fanned out across the pillow as I kissed her, her small hands holding onto me, and her eyes glittering in the morning light. It was like this warm soft blanket was wrapped around my insides. She was consuming me at an alarming rate and I was loving every second of it. Her smile made me smile. I learned every ticklish spot and every sensitive patch of skin. She radiated cleanness and white andlove. Curling up with her under the covers was a new sensation for me. Just cuddling and laughing really is all it's cracked up to be. Being like this with her really made me think about the rest of my life. I knew when I'd started fighting, that it wouldn't be forever. I would eventually have to move on to other things. I wanted to do something like Jasper. I wanted to help guys like me find an outlet for their anger. I wanted to help someone else achieve that victory on the mat that I had felt. Training really was something that interested me. I was fascinated with the process of creating a fighter. And fighters were created not born. However much I wanted to get out of the career path I was in now, nothing paid as well as fighting and I had more freedom between matches to do whatever I wanted - which to be honest wasn't much but train. Was it worth the change in salary? Fight for the big bucks and risk not coming home one night or play it safe and protg? Bella deserved the security of knowing I would be here for her. She didn't need to be paranoid that I was going to get beat into a coma. But at the same time, I could afford to give her all the things she wants and deserves by continuing to fight. I could keep her comfortable despite how much she hates being a 'kept woman'. I could make sure she was set in case something did happen to me.

I'm sorry, but how long have you been in this relationship? Like a month? What the hell is wrong with you? This is the kinda shit you think about like after a year not a month. Stop being obsessive.

It was hard for me to think about going into the ring tonight and fighting James. I wanted to shake this feeling of utter dread but it kept clinging and nagging at me. There weren't many ways for him to get the upper hand without dirty fighting. I was prepared to take all the rabbit punches and elbows he was willing to dish but something was telling me there was going to be more. There was going to be more to this than just a few stray uppercuts to my throat and some knees to my groin. It was fights like this that made me want a referee. I stretched, feeling damn good despite the soreness in my legs. One would think that with all the training I did, having sex wouldn't be so strenuous.

We need to add last night's performance to the workout schedule. For training purposes, of course.
Last night might not have been pure romance but it was the only way I knew how to show her. I thought all week about flowers, picnics and romantic evenings. I thought about buying her something but then quickly threw that idea away. Bella couldn't be bought. I already knew that. And last night it seemed like I was running out of time to show her how I felt. Then it just hit me. Just give her what she wants. It didn't hurt that I really wanted it, too. I felt shitty not being able to tell her I loved her back. I wanted to; it was right on the tip of my tongue. I know I love her. But it would make it so much more difficult for me to go in there today and do what I had to do. She had to know. After I told her that she owned me, I thought it would be pretty clear to her that I was invested in thisin us. Admittedly, the intensity of my feelings towards her was freaking me out a little. Or a lot. The way she had me wrapped around her finger was refreshing in a worrisome way. I enjoyed being accountable to her. It was nice to feel like I belonged to someone. And she was perfect for me. Her beauty, her fire, her dry humor that always managed to make me smile. She could put me in my place verbally any day and it was thrilling to know that I could have an actual conversation with her, that I could debate with her in the car. It meant something. She was full of opinions and ideas and I found myself hooked on anything and everything she had to say. The little everyday things she would do that I'd never noticed about anyone before caused me to zone out. Her stumbling and blushing weren't irritating like I would have thought; they were endearing. She didn't fault herself for those traits; she embraced them and worked around them. It just proved how much more determined she was to survive in the world.

Shove a tampon in it and move on already.

Bella snapped me out of my thoughts with a shove. I looked up to her beaming smile and grinned back at her. She was naked and walking backwards to the bathroom with a look of evilness plastered all over her face. I wanted to comment that it probably wasn't a good idea for her not to watch where she was going but quickly thought better of it. Once she was in the bathroom, she turned and jumped in the shower. I heard the water running, then the spray flip on. I was out of the bed in two seconds and sprinting towards the shower stall. No way was I missing out on this. I had weeks to make up for. BPOV I was on cloud nine this morning. Waking up post coital with Edward is an experience that no one should be without. It's too bad I won't let that happen. We cuddled and played around for almost an hour. Then we had sex in the shower. Hot, hot sex in the shower. And I learned from repetition, that Edward liked to talk dirty. I giggled when he got shampoo in his eye and downright laughed when he hit his head on the showerhead when he tried to wash his eye out. He growled at me and threw my loofah over the glass doors and into the sink. We splashed water and washed each otherwhich almost led to more shower sex. Unfortunately, I was getting pruney and we had to get out. As soon as we left the bathroom and began to dress, it seemed we both realized what today was. I threw on a pair of jeans and a red tank top. I felt so nauseous that I couldn't eat lunch. Edward had a power bar. We sort of just stood at the kitchen island looking at anything but each other for almost fifteen minutes. I loaded the dishwasher and started it, trying to regain some sort of normalcy. "What time do we have to be there?" "I have to be there at seven." "We will be there at seven." "I don't want you there, Bella." "I need to be there. Don't you want me cheering you on in the front row?" I was trying to interject any kind of humor I could into this very unfunny conversation. "I don't want you there. You know why I don't want you there. I don't want you to see that happening. I know if it were you, I couldn't do it." "Well it's not me, it's you, and I have to be there. I have to see what happens. I'm going whether you like it or not." He sighed and nodded his head, still looking intently at the countertop and rubbing his finger over a chipped tile. I nodded, mostly to myself for the small victory I had achieved. He wasn't going to get rid of me that easily. I was going to be at that match if I had to run there. Wherever there is "So where is it?" "It's at The Ring. Which is unusual, because Emmett hates having matches there; he gets paranoid about cops showing up and arresting him."

"So why have they decided to have it there tonight?" "Not sure. I think it might have something to do with King." "Who is King? I keep hearing everyone talking about him." "King iswell he's" He sighed, frustrated and gripped the edge of the counter, leaning back and staring at the ceiling. I waited patiently for him to collect his thoughts and continue while thinking of things to say to him if he didn't. "King is one of the big boys in the Chicago scene. He has his hand in tons of things. He gambles away his trust fund and his father's money. Horses, cards, sports, and in the past two years he has been frequenting the fighting circles. He was doing the whole boxing thing but I assume got bored of all the rules that got in the way of fixing the fights to his liking. King is the reason why I have been making as much as I am right now. When he came onto the scene, he also brought along his high-roller friends. He has connections all over the country. The only reason Emmett puts up with his irritating ass is because of all the money he throws down on these matches. I'm not the only fighter under Emmett's belt. And King seems to be in this phase right now where he himself has been obtaining fighters. James being one of them. So James has King backing him on this fight." "So he's like what Emmett is to youto James?" "Sort of. Emmett is my friend. King is using James to make himself money and James is using King to get ahead in the social circles he wants to belong in. I'm not in this for the glory that James wants. I'm just trying to make a living. It might be cavalier to say so but it's the truth." "Why are Jasper and Emmett so worried about this fight? They seem to think something bad is going to happen." His face froze into a blank mask for a moment and he smoothly slid his hand over the beveled edges of the tiles in front of him. "Jasper and Emmett are worried because they know that James is an intense fighter. He has a lot of drive and he is going to be tough to beat." I wanted to shout 'Bullshit!' but I knew better and just nodded at him instead. He huffed some and gripped the counter edge to lean himself back. My eyes wandered from those stellar fingers up to his muscular shoulders which had me trying to contain the drool from becoming noticeable. I cleared my throat and put down the hand towel I was wringing the threads out of. "So what do you need to do before the fight?" "Well, I usually go for a walk then I head over to the arena and warm up for about two hours, then spend an hour just relaxing before the actual fight." "Okay, well I don't want to get in the way of your warm-up stuff, so I'll just hang out here I guess and read or clean." He looked at me for a moment, like he was trying to see something in my eyes or face. I blinked and he looked away. "Would you want to come on my walk with me? I walk up to Oz Park and usually stroll around." "I don't want to interfere with your routine or relaxing or-" "I want you to come." And when said it like that, I slipped on my shoes and walked out the door with him. He held my hand and we walked in silence. It was still hot but with the shade from the buildings and the breeze, it felt good. It took us almost an hour to get there at the rate we'd been going but Edward didn't seem to mind and I had a feeling it wasn't supposed to be a fast pace anyway. We entered the park at the east entrance and I noticed the three sandy mounds at the corners of the field. Tall lights were littered around the edges of the trees. It looked as if baseball was played here. Suddenly I thought about Phil and had to tamp down the panic.

Don't be ridiculous. They don't know where you are and Phil has no reason to show up here of all places. Not to mention, you are holding hands with a ring fighter right now. Edward wouldn't let anything happen to you.
I breathed out calmly and Edward squeezed my hand with a questioning look on his face. I grinned at him and he smiled back. He didn't buy it for one second but he let it go and I was grateful for that. It was a bright day and out here in the cool shade, everything seemed normal and perfect. We were just two people taking a stroll in the park with not a care in the world. Edward's countenance was sending out waves of tension. We walked along the cement path between the huge oak trees and I watched as Edward's face was hit with patches of light that made their way down from between the foliage. He was wearing faded jeans that fit loosely on him, sagging low on his waist and a gray t-shirt with Henley written on the front. He stared straight ahead and if he hadn't had a death grip on my hand, I would have thought he had forgotten I was there. He didn't seem relaxed at all. In fact, he seemed to be terrified of wherever it was we were walking towards. I reached up with my other hand and stroked his arm while leaning into his side. He released my hand and wrapped his arm around my shoulders keeping that same firm grip on me. I noticed how our strides matched up and we walked together quite well. I had a feeling that had more to do with Edward keeping my pace rather than my natural grace. Soon the path started to clear out and off to our left was a small picnic area that had been landscaped. I paused and then led us over to a bench. He sat with his back against the table and settled me on his lap. I leaned my head down and pressed my face into his neck, kissing him there and nuzzling his jaw. He wrapped his arms around me and kissed my head softly. He sighed heavily, so I peeked up at his face to see him staring off in front of us. Glaring, really. I turned my head and saw the bright neon sign through the trees. It took me a second to realize what it was and how it pertained to this little field trip. Lincoln Park Hospital.

Instantly, I felt ill. "If I get hurt and I need to be taken somewhere, that's where they'll take me. Jasper knows a doctor in the ER who is good about keeping things like this quiet, so we go there. If anything happens to me, I have talked to Emmett about what to do. I want you to promise me that you will continue to stay at the apartment and not do anything rash." I was stunned. I was speechless. I was surprised. I was mad. I was so goddamned mad, I felt the red haze start to close in on my vision. "Edward Masen, you listen to me. You are going to get in that ring tonight and you are going to kick that asshole's ass. You hear me? I will not hear you talking like this! You are going to be fine! I am going to be fine! We are both going to be fine!" Unfortunately, my angry tirade soon turned into a mess of tears and he began rocking me and murmuring how sorry he was that he upset me. It only made the sobs come harder and I felt so stupid for making this worse. "I'm sorry. I don't know what came over me. I justI don't want to hear you talk like that. You're the strongest person I know and I know you'll win this fight." That was a boldfaced lie. He was the strongest person I knew; I was freaking out that he was going to get hurt and I was going to have to drive from The Ring to the hospital in what would be utter freak out mode but saying that was not proactive right now, so I lied. Hearing the hushed whispers from Emmett and Jasper were starting to get to me. I had this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. Woman's intuition was kicking into overdrive. I suddenly felt like any moment, I was going to turn the corner and find him on the ground again.

Edward can do this. He will be fine. I will take care of him and everything will be fine.
I repeated that mantra over and over again to myself; as if somehow the words would materialize into a giant club and kill whoever this guy James was. We sat on the bench for a little longer. Edward seemed to relax a little and on our way back to the apartment he stopped to look out over the baseball field. I saw a small smile play at his lips as he looked down at me. "My dad used to play with me with I was little. It was the only thing we ever really did together. I stopped playing when I left home." He said quietly. I nodded my head and carefully placed this information in my 'Edward's Past" mental file. He likes baseball. Oh the irony. I smiled, perhaps a little tightly and we continued on walking down the street and back to the apartment. Once back in the air conditioning, I went to the bathroom leaving the light off and ran a cool washcloth over my chest and neck, trying to swipe as much sweat off as possible. Edward's hand covered my own. I looked up at him in the mirror and he took the towel from my hand and rubbed it over my neck and shoulders. We were silent, just standing there. He kissed my shoulders and my neck gently. I did not want to cry but it was hard when he was being so sweet. He set the wet cloth down in the sink and spun me around, lifting me up and setting me on the counter. Placing himself between my legs he braced his hands on either side of my hips and leaned his head down on my shoulder. I wrapped my arms around his broad shoulders and rested my own head against his neck. "I don't want you there tonight." "I'm going. You can't tell me what to do." He sighed and I felt his hot breath run down my arm. My skin was getting warm and damp again from his body heat. I felt his hands lift up and settle on my waist, his thumbs pressing into the bones there. "You mean the world to me, you know?" "I know. You mean the world to me, too. I'm going to be there for you tonight. This is apart of who you are. I accept that. Just try and accept that this is who I am. I have to be there, Edward." He nodded and placed a kiss below my ear. I leaned back and looked into his eyes. The only light in the bathroom was coming from the bedroom sunlight. The door was wide open and casting a shadow on the right side of his face. He looked pained. I smoothed my hand over his brows hoping to ease the tension there. His eyelids dropped and he exhaled in a shuddering breath. My fingertips found the raised indention of his cut, where I had stitched him up so many weeks ago. It seemed like so much longer. We stayed like that for a few moments before he pulled away from me. It was sad how the foot of distance between us felt like a mile. I could see it in the way he was standing, the way his face slackened and his shoulders were set. He was detaching himself from me. He was pushing me away right now. Making this situation devoid of any emotion, to make it that much easier to do what he was about to do. I knew I should have been doing the same but I couldn't stand it. He was the first good thing to happen to me in years and I couldn't stand the thought of losing him, even for a few hours. "Don't do that. Don't. I can't stand that. Please, don't shut me out." His blank mast stayed in place before I saw his eyes soften and his jaw unlock. I wonder if he thought he was that good at hiding his feelings. He kinda sucked at it. Or maybe it just seemed that way to me because I had been around him almost 24/7 for over a month. He reached up and stroked my cheek, leaned forward and kissed me on the lips softly. I kissed him back and he pulled away, walking out of the bathroom and leaving me to wonder if that kiss was an 'I'm sorry but have to' or an 'I'm sorry, I won't do it again.' I clenched my teeth in irritation. I'm almost positive that was an 'I'm sorry but I have to.' Tamping down the urge actually growl out loud, I hopped off the counter and sauntered into the living room to plop down on the couch.

He'd better not be thinking of ways to trick me out of going to the fight. He soon walked out of his office toting a small duffel bag. I glanced up at him from my book, the one I wasn't really reading and smiled at him. I think I looked constipated though, so I stopped trying to force it. He leaned over and kissed my forehead. "I'm going to head down to there now and start my warm-ups. I'll see you before I go in?" "You know I'll be there." He smiled at me and walked out the door. Once the locks were in place and I heard the Volvo pulling away, I really felt the walls closing in on me in the apartment. I wanted to leave and go with him to his warm-ups but he hadn't invited me and I didn't know if that was something he had to do alone. Showing up unannounced might put me in on a shit list somewhere. The phone rang suddenly and I almost jumped out of my skin. "Hello?" "Hey, it's Jasper." "Oh, hey Jas. Edward just left to go to the gym." "Yeah, that's what I was afraid of. They've changed the local. It's not going down at The Ring anymore. It's going to happen at a building across the street from Belmont Harbor. I'll try him on his cell again." "Hey, what's the address?" "You're going?" "Ummm, yeah?" "Oh. I just didn't think Edward would allow you to go." "Allow me?" "That's not how I meant that and you know it. These fights are not a good place for someone like you Bella. Edward will obviously be preoccupied as well as Emmett and me. There is no way we can watch over you at the same time. We will take good care of Edward." Choosing to overlook his 'someone like you' comment, I tried to put as much civility into my voice as possible. It didn't really help though. "That's sweet Jasper, really, my vagina thanks you for all the thoughtfulness but I'm going. You can't stop me and neither can Edward. He knows that. So give me the damn address." "215 West Roscoe St. The building is the biggest on the street. It looks scary as hell, too. You can't miss it." "Like scary big orhorror movie scary?" "Like straight up Texas Chainsaw Massacre scary." "Great. That would be the most clichd place to have one of these fights, tooI'll be there a little before seven. That is when the fight starts right, at seven?" "Yep, seven. See you there, darlin'." "Bye Jasper." I put the phone back on the cradle and grabbed the map under the coffee table. Finally finding the harbor Jasper spoke of, I located West Roscoe St. and made notes on how I was going to get there. Didn't seem farand looking at it, I was morbidly relieved to see it was pretty close to the hospital that Edward and I had seen today. Just thinking those thoughts made me feel like a traitor. I looked up at the clock and noticed it was already after five. Jumping up, I headed for the bedroom and quickly showered. I couldn't help but smile, thinking about the activities Edward and I had been partaking in here earlier. I dressed in my only pair of nice jeans and a nice black top. I tried fixing my hair and gave up on styling it, deciding that the best I could do was a pony tail then I glared at the tiny make up bag for about ten seconds before I just globed on some lip gloss and called myself done. By the time I was done getting ready, it was about six-fifteen and I was sure I would need extra time to get there in case I got lost. Hopping in to the truck, it roared to life and I chugged down the street. I was lucky enough to only get turned around twice before I saw the monstrosity that Jasper was talking about. It looked like an old factory or warehouse. It seemed out of place in this neighborhood. I pulled in near the street, ensuring that I had a way out and that even if anyone parked around me, I could still just pull forward and leave. I exited the cab and walked carefully to where I saw three large men standing around an entrance and smoking. "Um, I'm here to watch the fight." "And who might you be pretty thing?" "UmmmI just want to know where to go inside"

"Why don't you stay out here with us for a bit?" The only one speaking to me was a tall dark haired man. He had dark tanned skin and was just as big as Edward. He leaned forward and reached out a hand to grab at my hair. "I'm Jacob. I'm James' trainer. He's fighting tonight you know? My boy is going to win for sure." I opened my mouth to tell him to fuck off when another voice did it for me. "Stop fucking with Masen's girl." I looked up and saw Emmett's face looming over them. I smiled at him gratefully and walked between the men. They stared me down and glared at Emmett. He just smiled back at them sweetly and threw an arm over my shoulder, leading me toward another door. "What are you, her owner?" Jacob asked. "Watch it Black, you wouldn't want to give Masen a reason would you?" Emmett turned his attention to me. "I was waiting for you to show up. Jasper said you might not know where to come inside." "Thanks. I appreciate it. How is he?" "He's good, but he always is." I smiled at him and he grinned back at me. We were trying to be strong for each other and it made me die a little inside knowing that. Something told me we both knew what was going to happen tonight. "What is this place?" "It used to be an old factory. From what I've heard, they used to make staplers. King's father owns the building so we should be okay. But on the off chance that the cops do show up here, I want you to stick close to me and Jasper, okay? We'll make sure you get out, alright?" I stifled a giggle at the relief in Emmett's voice. Edward was right, he is paranoid. I felt that prickle of fear hit me again when I saw the mat in the center of the room. The ring being used here was much nicer than the one at Emmett's gym. It looked almost brand new and lacked the gray scuffs in the center of the white canvas that I had come to see at The Ring. There were two rows of metal chairs directly around the arena and metal bleachers behind them. All the stuff looked new. Following Emmett, I started to really feel out of place here. I wasn't sure if it had to do with the reason I was here or the place itself. As we were approaching a hallway that looked to be heading toward offices, someone flicked on more of the over head lighting and the place illuminated brightly. I squinted my eyes against the sudden light and almost bumped into Emmett when I jumped. Emmett opened a door halfway down the hallway and I saw Edward leaning against a desk. I felt my insides melt when I saw him. He was wearing a pair of red shorts and nothing else; the waistband was thick and wide, hugging him around his abs tightly. He had on a pair of black flip-flops and his ankles and feet were taped up. Jasper was currently taping up his left hand. He looked up at me and grinned. Jasper rolled his eyes and hit his fists with the flat of his palm. They nodded at each other and I stepped into the room and stayed in the corner, giving them room to do their thing. Edward held his hand out to me and I went to him, glad to have contact with him. He wrapped his arms around me and I leaned against him as he leaned back on the desk. Jasper just had to go and ruin the moment. "Alright, now just remember what we went over during training. Watch the rabbits, the kidney punches and definitely watch for his liver punches you know how much James favors them. Remember that you are faster than he is and you're better at blocking, so use that to your advantage. In the sparring you two have done in the past, I've noticed that he gets a little hot headed around the second round so make sure you save up your energy for that one, it should be his downfall and - " His pep talk was interrupted by a knock at the door. Emmett furrowed his brows and opened the door. "Thirty minutes until they announce." "We got it." That rock in my stomach really needed to stop bouncing around. Jasper continued speaking to him while helping him put on his thin black gloves. They had a pitiful amount of padding over the knuckles and looked more like mittens with the tops cut off. "Anyway, we're going twelve rounds in this one. Try to save your energy for the first round and lay into him heavy on the second. We'll regroup on the third if we get there and then hopefully never see the fourth but I think we might be in this 'til the tenth or eleventh round." Edward nodded and squeezed me tightly before releasing me and we filed out of the room. I sat in a corner chair right behind Emmett and Jasper's spot at Edward's corner. There were people all over the place and in the short amount of time we were in the office, the place exploded with rich people. I looked at some of the arm candy around me and felt so shitty wearing jeans. Sucking it up, I realized I was here for Edward and he didn't care if I was wearing a sack. I focused in on his face as he jumped and shook his arms around. He was so fucking hot. I sighed and then mentally slapped myself because he was about to get hit multiple times. Emmett rubbed down his shoulders and neck while Jasper shoved a clear rubber mouth guard into his mouth. He then grabbed a Gatorade water bottle and handed it to

Edward. He tossed it back and took a few gulps. I was a little out of it as I watched his throat muscles moving and his back arching drank. I had it bad. Edward raised his head and found my eyes instantly. I smiled at him and he walked over to me. When I stood he took my neck in one hand, roughly wrapped the other around my waist and kissed me hard. He kissed me very, very, very hard. I almost bit my lip. It didn't stop it from being one of the best fucking kisses of my life but the desperation, the fear behind the kiss floored me. I felt the heat rise to my face when I realized we were still in a crowded room waiting and I was making out with a half-naked Edward. When he finally pulled away, we were both breathing hard and panting. He leaned his head against mine and spoke. "Please leave. Wait in the parking lot; I don't care if you don't go home. I can't do this if you're watching, Bella. Please? I won't be able to think straight if I know you're right here. For me, just wait outside. It will all be over soon and we can move on." The urgency he used when he spoke made me feel guilty. I didn't want to be the reason he got hurt. Tears welled up in my eyes and I looked away, trying desperately to hide the emotions there. I didn't want him to see my fear. "Okay, I'll leave. But so help me God, Edward, you'd better be walking out of here later. You have to come back to me." "Shhhh. Nothing could keep me away from you. Nothing. Now, run, Bella. Run and wait for me." A short burly man stepped out into the center of the ring and began announcing the fight. I held my breath and Edward turned to enter the canvas. "In this corner we have Edward Masen! Twenty-six years old, one hundred and ninety-five pounds, all American fighter! He has won his last five bouts! His strengths are speed, agility and stamina! I give you Masen, ladies and gentlemen!" The voice took on a playful tone, like he was at the carnival introducing the clowns or elephants. Edward stared at the canvas as the man spoke and didn't acknowledge the crowd cheering. Many of the women in the crowd began to leer at him. "In this corner we have James Hunter! Twenty-five years old, one hundred and ninety pounds, Aussie - American fighter! He has won his last three bouts! His strengths are his stamina, power and determination! Hunter, everyone!" James was nothing like I had imagined he would be. He was built up much like Edward but with tanned skin and honey blonde hair. His black shorts were identical to Edwards. He looked really sweet actually and I had to do a double take. His facial features were boyish and soft. Edward turned his steely glare on me, so I did what he asked of me. I turned and made my way down the crowded isle. There were men standing everywhere, packed into the room trying to see what was going on. They all held similar pink slips of paper, which I assume was proof of whoever they bet on. Suddenly, my stomach heaved and I felt sick. All these people were trying to make a dime off of Edward's pain. All these people don't care about what happens to him after the fight. They only want one thing. I found the doors to the side lot that I had parked in and took in a huge gulp of fresh air. I felt like shit for being out here when he was in there. I crouched down against the brick wall and rocked back on my heels. Taking in gulp after gulp of hair and trying not to vomit.

You know what you have to do. You know why. He needs you. He might not say it now, but he needs you. He owns you.
I pulled what I had left of my resolve and strength out of the reserves and stood up, shaking like a leaf but standing. I re-entered the building and I made it all the way to the far wall before I had to catch my breath. I was in a darker corner and when I turned around I could see the ring clearly. A man in a pinstriped suit was walking in and people gave him a large berth. A striking blonde in a red dress was sidled up next to him. She looked bored and pissed off. They sat down in the front row.

He must be King.
Before I could study him for much longer the bell dinged signaling the fifth round and my eyes snapped to Edward's predatory frame. I couldn't move, I could barely breathe. I clutched my fists to my chest and watched as he took to the mat. James came forward and they bumped fists. James smiled and the sickness in my stomach grew ten fold. They started off bouncing and circling each other. The four minute round lasted forever and two minutes into it, neither of them had yet to land a hit. Edward made first contact and delivered a right jab to James' face. James sneered at him and they continued their circling. In an instant, everything just snapped and they were throwing wild punches at each other. They were kicking and swinging and dodging. I couldn't keep up. When the round ended, Edward was pulled back by Emmett. Jacob snatched at James, forcing him to retreat to his corner. Emmett handed Edward his water bottle and he took a few swigs before standing again and focusing on James. Inside the room, there was wild cheering, yelling, screaming and aimless chatter. Somehow out of the abyss of it all, I heard someone say 'Eddie Boy' and I looked around to find its owner. That voice was familiar Mike stood only twelve feet from me talking with a dark haired man. My brows furrowed and I eased back and closer to them. "Did you do it?" asked the dark haired man. He had a slight French accent and he sounded annoyed. "Yeah, I did it. Good thing they had this thing moved here or I would never have gotten in." "King figured as much. How much did you use?" "The whole thing."

"What? Are you serious? Shit. You were only supposed to use a fourth, at most half. He's going to drop like a fucking Rhino now." "What the fuck? All you told me to do was pour the shit in his water bottles. You do realize that if any of them had seen me they would know exactly who did this shit right?" "It won't matter, that shit only comes up on a special type of blood screening. They would have to be looking for it. Hopefully, James can make it look like he just sucker punched the asshole and we wont have to worry about it." "So what does that shit do to you anyway?" "It's ummm. well it's like a barbiturate infused with nitrous oxide and amyl nitrate. Basically, it's going to fuck him up and make him crash." "Doesn't this seem kinda shitty though? I mean, I thought James was supposed to be better than Eddie. I didn't think he'd need this shit to win." "That's because James doesn't know it's going down. Well, he sort of knows. He knows there's a possibility of it happening. King is the one who wanted it done. He has too much money riding on James to chance him losing." I didn't need to hear anymore, I had heard enough. I looked up to see the Ring Girl coming off the ring with a sign signaling the sixth round was starting and Edward standing up to get back in the match. I saw him sway slightly and shake his head. He put his arms up in a defensive move and stumbled to his left.

Nono no no no no no.
I pushed my way through the crowd. I got closed in and pushed back. I'm pretty sure I was even groped a few times on the way. I jumped, trying to catch a glimpse of the ring and where I was going exactly. The crowd split open for a few seconds and suddenly I saw Edward, glistening with sweat, his legs shaking, his breathing harsh and he was looking right at me. I could see the confusion and anguish in his eyes. Then the people around me swallowed me again and my vision of Edward was lost. When I finally made my way out into the clearing of the front seats, I saw Edward falling onto the mat and at the same time Jasper threw the towel out over the ropes and jumped into the ring.

Jasper threw in the towel. It's over.

Edward was lying on the mat, blood seeping from his mouth and James frowning down at his prone figure. I wanted to scream. I wanted to kick and scratch and rail. But all I could do was slide my belly onto the canvas and pull myself toward him. I rolled him into my arms and held onto him tightly. Jasper was by my side instantly. Emmett was shouting around and waving his arms. I couldn't hear anything. The volume was way down and everything outside of and around me and Edward was a blur. My vision raked over his body and I noticed the redness and swelling coming from his ribs and arms. His cheekbone was swelling and his left eye was puffy, his lower lip was bloody and red. I ran my thumb over his lips and then I drifted my hand lower to place it over his chest and felt his heart beating wildly. His eyes were fluttering quickly and he was moaning. Tears were streaming down my face and I was aware of the crowd going wild. Everyone was running and yelling, some trying to get on the canvas; others trying to leave. Women were shrieking and the doors were groaning as people tried to find exits. Soon we were the only ones left in the whole place besides James, Jacob and a few of their friends. Emmett and Jasper grabbed Edward and hauled him off the mat. I followed but stopped before the door. I turned around and saw James watching us leave, a towel in his hands. The one Jasper had thrown into the ring. With all the confidence I could muster in my five foot three body, I stalked up to him and looked him in the eyes. He stared blankly at me for a moment before my hand came up and slapped him across the face. I hit him hard enough to turn his head but nothing more. He turned back to look at me and I glared hard at him before snatching the towel out of his hand. "He's better than you. And you proved it tonight when you had to drug him to win. You are pathetic." I spun on my heel and stormed out of there. Those damn traitorous tears were giving me away despite my rigid posture and my head held high. I made it outside before retching against my truck. I yanked open the rusting door and got in; heading toward the hospital that Edward had showed me. I felt emotionally numb and exhausted. I barely saw the traffic lights or the other drivers. My tears were coming in earnest now but I had yet to let loose a sob. Gripping the wheel tightly, I pulled into the parking lot and saw Emmett's Jeep parked near the ER entrance. I sucked in a shaky breath and willed myself to calm down and go inside. But the longer I sat there, the harder it was to get out. Getting out of the truck meant going inside and seeing him like that. It meant coming to terms with losing him. I looked over at the passenger seat and saw the bloody towel crumpled up in a heap. I picked it up and pressed a clean spot to my face and breathed it in. Edward's sweat and scent were all over it. That spicy sweetness that I loved. I cried into the towel and used it to wipe my face down. I had to go inside. I had to tell them what I had heard. I had to help him. I had to make this better. I had to. No matter how badly I wanted to sit here, close my eyes and pretend today never happened, I had to be what he needed me to be.

I'm coming, Edward. I'm coming.

I slid out of the truck and walked into the hospital to find the man that owned me, heart and soul. It was funny how well he had used that word. Owned. I smiled weakly and walked through the sliding doors, walking up to the front desk. "Hi, I need to find an Edward Masen. He was just brought in a moment ago."

I'm here, Edward. And I'm never going to leave you again.

And if it gets too late, for me to wait For you to find you love me, and tell me so It's ok, Don't need to say it
(I know)

A/N: So I'm hoping that you enjoyed thatbut not because he got hurt
Anywho. Yeah I hafta hand out the props where they're deserved

Cheddah, my partner in crime who beta's for me. She's the shizzle for rizzle. LucyLu, I'm so so sorry about that. I know you've been freaking the fuck out for like the past three days. I'm sorry. ButI mean at least it's out of the way.kindaI mean I kinda left it with a cliffywhich I didn't even realize until this secondhuh.
All those sweet chickies over at the T'd forum who make me smile while I'm banging my face on the keyboard trying to get what's in my head into Word. And thanks to all the sweeties who reviewed! I try to answer as many as I can and I apologize if you don't get a response! But I love you all and I hope you enjoyed this chapter. If you got any questions feel free to hit up the T'd forum or send me a message and I will do my best to answer you! Just...dont ask me about whats going to happen...i have no clue. Leave me some love...

*Chapter 8*: You Fall, I Fall, We All Fall Hard

Please, Please, Please Fiona Apple Please, please, please No more melodies They lack impact, they're petty They've been made up already Please, please, please No more maladies I'm so tired of crying You'd think I was a siren But me and everybody's on the sad, same team And You can hear our sad brains screaming: Give us something familiar Something similar to what we know already That will keep us steady Steady, steady going nowhere Please, please, please No apologies At best they buy you time Till you next step out of line Please, please, please No more remedies My method is uncertain It's mess, but it's working And maybe if you'd try it out You won't like it when you're crying out Give us something familiar Something similar to what we know already That will keep us steady Steady, steady, steady, steady Steady, going nowhere

The woman at the front desk eyed me suspiciously. I smiled at her but I'm sure it looked as forced as it felt. "And what relation do you have to Mr. Masen?" "I'm his " "Bella!" I turned to see Jasper and Emmett jogging towards me. They didn't look too upset and I felt a small bit of tension disappear. Emmett reached me and pulled me into his arms; I felt like a sardine in a can. The physical contact brought back the tears and I sniffled loudly against his chest. He rubbed my head and made soothing noises. I felt Jasper's cool hand against my arm and looked over at him. He smiled weakly and nodded his head. "Mike was at the match. He was talking to another man in the back of the room. They said they put something in his water to make him go down." Emmett's body froze momentarily underneath me, and then began shaking as he muttered a curse into my hair. Jasper clutched my arm and pulled me away from Emmett. "I want you to tell me exactly what you heard. Leave nothing out." "Umwell, I heard someone saying 'Eddie Boy' and the voice sounded really familiar so I looked around for the face. I saw Mike. He was standing with a dark haired guy in the back who asked him if he had done what he was told. Then the other guy asked him how much he used and so Mike told him "all of it" and then the other guy got pissed off, saying that it was too much. Mike told him that he was lucky they moved the match there

'cause he wouldn't have gotten in at The Ring. The other guy said that's how King planned it. Mike asked him what was in all that stuff and he said it was some kind of drug that could only show up on a certain kind of test. Oh and he said that James may or may not have known about the whole thing." Emmett's eyes were glittering dark and his fists were clenched at his sides. Jasper's lips were pursed into a line and he glared at me. "I tried to get to you but as soon as I made it out of the crowd he was already down. I'm so sorry guys." "No one is upset with you Bella. We know you tried. He's going to be okay. He didn't take any serious blows but right now he's going into shock and they are trying to stabilize him." Jasper's soothing voice washed over me and I relaxed into his embrace. "You have to tell someone. They have to help him." My emotions were ragged again and I didn't know if it was possible to feel anymore tired and wide awake as I did right then. Jasper passed me to Emmett and then took off down to hall, where I'd hoped he was going to inform Edward's doctor about what I had told him. "How you feeling kiddo?" "Don't call me kiddo. And I'm freaking out. He can't die Emmett. What they saidabout using too muchwhat if" "Edward's strong. He is in top physical shape. I won't lie and say he's going to just bounce right back but he is going to make it and he will be just fine. They're going to fix him up." It was weird, this soft side to Emmett. He was gentle and calming and I was sucked into his kind gestures. I rested my head on his broad chest and let out the breath that I had been holding. My face felt swollen and my nose was no longer considered an airway. Jasper rounded the corner, lightly out of breath, and approached us. "The doctor is going to run some Tox screens on him right now. They'll find out whatever he was drugged with and go from there. They finally wheeled him out of the wreck room and have him stable in the ICU. They're denying visitors until tomorrow." My knees went weak and Emmett braced me against him. I gripped his arms but it was feeble at best. Jasper's soothing touch on my back alerted me to his proximity. I took a deep breath and pushed away from Emmett. I stood on my own, straightening my back and lifting my chin. I had to be strong for Edward. I had to do whatever it was he needed me to do. "I'll run you back to Edward's place Bella. You can get cleaned up and we'll pick you up on our way back to the hospital. Okay?" I nodded at Emmett and hesitated, looking over at the woman behind the desk. "They know to notify us if anything happens, Bella." I looked at Jasper with doubt in my eyes but acquiesced anyway and let them lead me out of the hospital. Emmett shuffled me into the back of the Jeep and Jasper slid into the passenger seat. The ride to the apartment building was silent and tense. We got out of the Jeep and I stopped when they followed me into the foyer. Going up those stairs without Edward seemed wrong. It felt as if I were taking a step out of turn, without him. Swallowing hard, I climbed the stairs and made it into the apartment before breaking down. I slid down the door, sobbing until my head pounded and I had no means of breathing through my nose anymore. Snot and tears ran down my face and congealed on my hands. I thought the comforting smell of Edward's things would make me feel better but they just reminded me of him being alone in that ICU room. With that in mind, a fire was lit under my ass and I ran into the bathroom, refusing to linger on any memories.

I am going to stop saying goodbye to someone who is still here. He is still here and everything is going to be okay.
I yanked the handle in the shower stall and stripped as the steam filled the room. Jumping under the spray, I quickly showered and toweled off. I walked into the closet and did my best to ignore the way his smell was strongest there. I didn't even want to think about lying down on the bed. I tossed on a pair of jeans and one of Edward's old T-shirts. Grabbing an empty duffel bag, I started collecting some of his things. Jeans, shirt, boxers, socks, shoes, undershirtcan't forget his undershirtand a few clothes for me. I wandered into the bathroom again and gathered his shampoo and conditioner, shaving products, and a few towels. The ones at the hospital sucked. I didn't wait for Emmett or Jasper. I skipped down the stairs, taking them as quickly as possible without breaking my neck and bolted out the front door. It took Edward and me almost an hour to get to the park at a slow walk. I made it there in fifteen minutes running. After needing five minutes to catch my breath, I entered the lobby again and I walked up to a different woman at the reception counter. "I'm here for Edward Masen. I know they said he's in the ICU and that he isn't allowed visitors but I was wondering if you could let me know when they are letting him have them" "What's your name ma'am?" "Isabella Swan. I'm Edward's girlfriend." "Alright, well if you want to leave me with a number where I can reach you" "Oh no, that won't be necessary. I'll be right over there."

She just blinked, so I smiled at her and walked over to a seriously abused bench and sat down. Two hours later I woke up to someone shaking my shoulder. "Jasper, I'm not leaving." "I'm not telling you to. But Emmett and I are going downstairs for something to eat and you're coming with us." I groaned and let him to pull me up and drag me down the hallway. I caught a whiff of the familiar smell of a hospital cafeteria. Burnt coffee and tuna. My stomach found it appealing, growling. Jasper smirked at me and Emmett was already in the line pulling things down onto his tray.

I settled for a chicken salad and bottle of pineapple juice. Jasper went the Emmett route, piling on an assortment of random food. Mostly dessert. "Have you heard anything?" I was fifty-fifty on really wanting to know the answer to that question. "His heart rate is stable. They're moving him out of the ICU and into a regular room in a few hours. They uhthey have him in an induced coma." It's one of those moments where you half expect the world to kinda bump off its axis and go hurling into the sun. One of those things where you expect time to slow down until its crawling so you can have those extra precious moments to figure out why you can't move or think. But nothing like that happened. The dull chatter in the cafeteria continued. Jasper still looked at me like I was going to cut his throat and Emmett was still shoveling food in his mouth at a rate that would choke a mortal man. I blinked, my loaded fork frozen inches away from my mouth, which was wide open. "His body needs time to recover from the drugs. If they wake him up now, they don't know how his heart will take the stress. They also found out what was put in his water. It was a drug cocktail of Amytal, Tranxene, and Percocet. There were at least five other drug compounds identified but I can't remember their names and the doctor said those were the ones that really hurt him. Basically, the gist of this is that his heart is really weak; they have to keep him in this coma until it's strong enough to take the stress of the withdrawal while he's conscience. He might have a heart attack if they wake him up now." Suddenly the salad in front of me seemed disgusting and all I wanted was to find Mike Newton and take a baseball bat to his skull. "What are we going to do about this?" "I don't know but I do know that right now we need to focus on Edward's recovery. Then we can form some sort of plan to handle King and his actions." I nodded. Jasper seemed to understand that I wasn't going to finish my salad and took it with his discarded food and threw them away. I resumed my perch on that stupid uncomfortable bench and waited. Three days. He was in a coma for three days. They allowed no visitors at all during that time, however as soon as they took him off the drug IV and let his body awaken on its own, we were allowed in to see him. I was currently standing outside the door and listening attentively as his doctor spoke of what they expected of his recovery. "Like I said, I don't expect him to wake up today. We only just took him off the benzodiazepines a few minutes ago and it usually takes a whole twenty-four hours to achieve any kind of lucidity. I will allow you visitation, so long as you keep the noise to a minimum and don't try to wake him at all. When he does wake up, there will be obvious side effects from the narcotics in his system. He will be confused, sensitive to light, and he can hallucinate. He might not make any sense if he talks." I nodded my head quickly and wanted to yell at him to just let us in the damn room. He gave us all a stern look and turned the doorknob, letting the door swing open and gestured for us to enter. My breathing stopped and I clutched my stomach when I saw him. He was so pale. The gauzy blankets lay around him, thickly guarding his body from the chill of the room. Despite the frigid temperature and the blankets, he was sweating. My hand went out, of its own accord, and swept the hair from his face. He had an oxygen tube looped under his nose and various lines leading from his arms and from under the blankets. His face was red and bruised but no longer swollen, and his eyelids were purple and green hued. Tears traveled down my face. "I'm so sorry Edward. I was too late to help you." Emmett's large hand pulled my arm away from Edward's face and he wrapped me up in a hug. "Hey, he's fine. He's going to be okay. And when he gets the 'all clear' from the doc we're going to kick James' sorry ass and give King something to really cry about. You have to be strong for him, Bella. We all have to. Edward did this because it's what he does. We're just going to have to be here for him. He wouldn't want you to blame yourself for something you didn't do." I leaned into Emmett and nodded against his shoulder. I settled down in the hard plastic bucket seat next to Edward's bed and scooped up his hand. It was swollen but none of his fingers were broken or bandaged. I kissed his fingers and laid my head down on his forearm. It felt good to touch him, to feel his solidness under my cheek and hear his breathing. The hours passed in silence. Emmett and Jasper came and went. I slept in the chair. I used the small bathroom off to the side and didn't leave when

the doctor came in to check his vitals. Around three in the morning the doctor came in and cleared his throat. "I would tell you to leave but I'm under the impression that would do more damage than repair." I simply looked up at him. My eyes felt dry and my throat sore. I couldn't even muster the energy at that point to nod at him. "He's going to be alright. I'm not going to tell you that he'll just miraculously wake up and be okay again but with the proper care and some time, he will be just fine. They say that talking to people when they're out like thisthey say it helps." He placed a hand on my shoulder as I turned to look back at Edward's slack face. His hand dropped and I heard the door shut as he left. "UmSo I don't know what to say right now. I miss you. I miss you so much it's not even funny. I don't know how you managed to turn my world upside down in such a short amount of time but you did. II don't take back what I said the other night. I love you Edward. I love you so fucking much and it's scaring the shit out of me. Everyone keeps saying you'll be fine and I hope you don't make liars out of them. I'm trying so hard right now to be strong for you Edward. I want you to come back and be okay again. I won't lie, I'm so selfish. I want you to come back because I need you. I need you to make this okay again. I haven'tfelt this way in a long time and I need you to bring that back okay? Please just wake up and let me see those eyes and that smile. I'll do anything for that. Jasper and Emmett are here, too. Well, not in this room right now but they're in the hospital and they're waiting for you to wake up just like I am. We all miss you. I, umI don't know what else to tell you other than I love you and that I can't breathe without you here, so please come back for me. Come back and make it all okay again. I know you love me too and it's okay that you can't say it. I know what you're going to do when you wake up and I want to tell you now, when you can't say anything back to me, that I'm not going anywhere. This is just something that I have to accept about you and what you do. But I want you to knowthat I love you and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to be with you. I've never said this much to anyone before and I feel really silly right now saying it to someone who might not be able to hear me but I guess that's just one more thing that you got me to do that no one else has. Come back Edward. Wake up. Please, please wake upYou said you made all these arrangements with Emmett but I don't want arrangements, I want only want you" The tears won out in the end and I felt my throat constrict with a sob. I laid my head down on the sheet beside his arm and pressed my face into the stiff cotton. He has to wake up. He just has to. I can't do this without him. It took two days. Two long days for him to wake up. And when he did, I was fucking sleeping. The first thing I realized when my eyes decided to cooperate with the rest of my waking mind was that it was very bright where I was. And before I even opened them, I heard Emmett's boisterous voice. "I think she's waking up! Dude, she's been here the entire time. She wouldn't leave. Jasper and I had to force her to eat!" "Shut the fuck up Emmett and for Christ's sake tone it down, there are other sick people in this hospital who don't want to know about our business." Jasper hissed at him. I felt the soft pads of Edward's fingers stroking my cheek and became aware of the odd angle at which I was laying. I felt my leg asleep underneath me, pinned between my ass and the chair. My torso was laying half on the bed, half off and my left arm was under my head which was turned to the right at a severe angle. I felt the drool seeping out of my mouth and then a second later the blush creeping up my neck and over my face. I glanced up and turned around to see Edward lying propped up on three pillows. The bed had been raised up some so that he could see around the room easily. I must have looked retarded sitting there staring at him with my mouth hanging open and drool coming out one side. He chuckled at me and smoothed my hair back before wiping away my spit with his thumb. I blushed harder and looked down but not for very long. I couldn't keep my eyes off his. I looked at him and smiled. He took my hand in his and squeezed it. When he spoke his voice was hoarse. "Emmett told me what happened. You could have gotten hurt if they knew you were eavesdropping." "I umI didn't mean-" "I thought I told you to leave before the fight started." "I couldn't stay out there, Edward. I had to know what was happening." He looked sternly at me for a moment but I couldn't find it in me to care. He was awake. He was okay. He came back to me. I grinned at him and his shoulders slumped as he smiled back at me.

Score! We won!
"Ugh, you two make my teeth hurt." I looked over at Emmett and giggled at his scrunched up face. "Shut your face McCarty." I giggled harder at Edward's raspy reply. "How long have you been awake?" "Half an hour, maybe. You need to go home and get some sleep."

"Um, I'm sorry but I've been waiting here for five days for you get up. DAYS, Edward. I'm not leaving now that what I have been waiting for has finally happened. How do you feel? Do we need to go get the doctor?" "We've already told the nursing staff that Edward's awake. The doctor should be in here when he has a moment." Jasper informed. "I want a re-match." All three of us turned to look at Edward. I felt as if I should rub my eyes and pinch myself just to be sure this wasn't a nightmare. "Uh, no. That's not a good idea." "I agree. That's the worst idea I've ever heard." I glanced at Emmett with appreciation. At least I had someone else in my corner. "I think if that's what you want then that's what we'll do." My appreciation shifted to malice as I glared at Jasper. Traitor. "I don't care what any of you think. I'm getting a re-match, with or without your support and I'm going to beat James. I can't let this go." I was confused and kinda pissed off. Did he want to leave me? Did he want to die? "Emmett, we've known each other for years. Make the call. I want a re-match." "Alright. I don't like it, but I'll do it." Edward nodded and Jasper stared out the window. "We will need proper time to train and get you back to where you were before this. You'll need weeks of rehab for your heart and lungs then another month or two of endurance and stamina training." Jasper murmured, almost to himself. Was I in the Twilight Zone? The world really did get knocked off its axis. I should get up and check to see how close we are to the sun; we should be headed right for it. What the hell is going on? "Youare sitting in a hospital bed, after you just woke up from a medically induced comayou're heart is fucked from those drugsand you want to schedule a re-match?" Edward looked at me blankly for a moment before answering. "Yes." "Are you out of your fucking mind? Do you have any ideaany idea what we went through watching you, waiting for you to wake up? And now, just to twist the knife while it's still fresh, you say you want to do this again?" "I don't expect you to understand. I have to do this. I'm not going to sit here and lick my wounds while that asshole gloats about a false win. I am better than him. I know I am. I'm going to do this my way." "You are better than him. Yeah, we all know that. But he drugged your water this time. What happens next? A car bomb? He sends four guys to beat your ass before the match, instead of just the two? 'Cause I got news for you sweetheart, it's not just James, it's that rich fucker King who is in on this, too." "Don't you think I know that? Do you think I get my ass beat because I like it? Do you think I want to do this for the rest of my life? No! I don't! But I have to because I have bills to pay! I have rent and a car payment! I have you! I have to take care of you!" The verbal slap to the face hit me hard and I stared at him, wide-eyed. He seriously did not just say that. Tell me I'm hearing things. Tell me he did not just make me an obligation. I shook my head to try and clear it but nothing worked. I couldn't wrap my head around it. "Bella, that's not what I meant. I didn't mean it like that. I just, I want to take care of yo-" "Stop. You know what? Just stop. I can't do this right now. Here's a bag of clothes and your bathroom stuff. I can't be here right now. I'm sorry, Edward, but I refuse to be that kind of woman. I can'tI'm sorry you think that way. I can't be here right now. I'll check on you later." "Bella, wait, please let me just explain" But I was already down the hall and bee-lining for the door. I had to get out of here. This place was suffocating me. Fresh air. I looked out over the lot and saw my truck still in the same spot as it was when I first came here; the night he was first brought in. I walked slowly until I reached the cab and pulled the keys out of my pocket. Sliding onto the old worn bench seat, I leaned my head against the steering wheel and tried to cry. I tried to let it out but it wouldn't come. A streak of white caught my eyes and I looked down to see that damn towel marring my world. The blood had dried on it and when I picked it up, it was stiff and hard. I rubbed it between my hands then threw it back down on the bench before cranking up the truck and leaving the hospital and what I thought was my whole world. It's not that I was angry about his decision to fight again. I knew that was inevitable. It was what he did and I had accepted that. It was that he was willingly engaging the same asshole and his gang of shady friends that put him in this situation in the first place. Did he honestly have no concern over how we would feel about this? Of course Jasper would be behind him. Of course he would. Emmett at least had enough brains in him to realize this was stupid. Five days. Five long days of hearing doctors talk about brain damage, heart problems and kidney failure. Five long fucking days of not knowing a damn thing and he wants to jump back in the ring with this asshole. He was being selfish. He was being selfish and prideful and not

thinking about the consequences. Of how this choice, this decision was affecting those around him.
He fights to make money so that he can take care of me? What kind of garbage is that? And what do I do now? What does he want from me? What does he want me to say?

Hey thanks for sacrificing your body baby. When you're brain dead and in a coma, I'll be out spending all your money just like you wanted.
Ugh! If I wanted to deal with clueless assholes, I would have stayed with Renee and Phil. I couldn't decide what pissed me off more - the fact that he was instigating a re-match or the fact that he claims to be fighting for me. There were so many shades of fucked up in this whole thing. He was fighting before he ever met me. He continues to fight even though he has tons of money saved up. He could go to college, get a degree, and make a decent living for himself. But no, he fights. And if he is fighting for me why can't he just.not fight because I don't like it? Is that so much to ask for?

Apparently so.
I looked down at my feet and tapped them idly on the bench below me. I had managed to go a whopping two blocks before circling the truck and parking at Oz Park. I sat in the same spot that Edward had brought me to and stared at the neon hospital sign. I had never felt this emotionally invested in someone and now that I am, the guy turns out to be clinically retarded. Rolling my eyes, I leaned back and took a deep breath, slowly exhaling. I have two options. I can suck it up, go back in there and tell him that I support him in this because I love him. Or I can grab my shit and leave town.

Option A: face your fears and prove you love him. Option B: be a coward and run away. Again.
Well, when you say it like that I huffed the entire walk back to the truck and practically idled back into the hospital parking lot. It had been close to four hours now and the sun was setting behind the generators off to the side of the building. I tried to calm my breathing as I made my way down the hall and to his room. Emmett had gone but Jasper was sitting in my vacated chair and his head was bowed down next to Edward's as they talked intensely, probably forming some sort of plan for this fight. When I entered the room, Edward looked up at me with a remorseful look on his face. Jasper turned and gave me the stink eye. I arched an eyebrow at him in defiance and didn't bother to say anything to him as he rose from the chair and left the room. Asshole. "Look, before you say anything - if you're going to do thisI support you. But don't you dare say that you're doing it for me. I refuse to be the reason that you do this. I won't let you put that on my shoulders. You do this because it's what you want to do. I am not an obligation. You are not obligated to take care of me. I can take care of myself. So if you're going to do this rematch, then fine, I'm behind you. I'll help you train if you want. But don't make me the reason for this stupidity." He took a calming breath and looked at his hands. The large plastic sleeve over his index finger, connecting him to the heart monitor, tapped against his palm. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said those things earlier. And you're right. I don't do this for you. I do it for me. But I also do it because I want to be able to take care of you. I've never had anyone to take care of before. I've never had anyone I cared enough about to want to take care of before. This is new for me Bella. I don't know how to tell you what I'm feeling. I'm angry most of the time. I'm full of thispent up energy. But when I'm with you, I calm down. I can focus. I make choices now with you in mind. I don't want to be selfish; I want to think of you and your needs. I want to take care of you. I know you can take care of yourself. I won't delude myself into thinking that you need me. But I want you to need me. I need you. I need you so much. I know you don't like me fighting. I don't like the risk either but it's what I do best. It's what I am now. This probably isn't coming out right" "No, no its perfect and I understand where you're coming from but you can't use me as an excuse. Do this for you. I understand the need to have a fair fight, really I do. You have to start treating me like an equal. I can't be this little woman in your eyes. I can't be some dependant. It's not who I am." He shifted and peeked up at me through his lashes and I almost caved and went to him but I had to stand my ground. He sighed and looked up at the ceiling before speaking again. "Look, if you want, if things start to get too intense, I'll back out okay? I'll stop doing this and find other work. Justdon't leave and I'll make the best effort to treat you like you deserve." My insides melted because he honestly treated me better than I deserved. I went over to him and sat down on the edge of the bed facing him. He pulled me closer and wrapped me in his arms. I snuggled into his neck, breathing deeply. Underneath the smell of his hospital gown and the antiseptic was Edward. "Thank you for bringing me my things." "Whatever, just kiss me." He laughed and kissed me chastely but I wanted more. I sucked his lower lip into my mouth and he moaned before opening up to slip me his tongue. We made out like teenagers on his hospital bed and then I snuggled up next to him on the tiny mattress.

"Edward?" "Yes?" "If you ever do this to me again, I'll kick your ass." "If I ever do this to you again, I'll let you." "Good; I don't think I would be able to do it without your help." He chuckled against my shoulder and pressed a kiss to the nape of my neck. "Sleep, my Bella. We get to go home tomorrow." I grinned and before I knew it, I was asleep. It felt good to have his arms around me again. A/N: Ah, so see, I'm not so mean. Edward was only out for a whole chapter. Srsly, I could have drug that shit out for like three chapters but no I love you all enough to not put you in pain. Alas, he has issues. Bella is distancing herself from Edward during his coma time. She's warring right now with Edward, his views on her, and her views on him and what he does. We will figure out what happens with this whole rematch thing a majiggy next chapter. Also my beta will not be here next weekend. I usually post on Fridays.so I'm going to shoot for an early post and if I'm feeling really inspired (not distracting myself at the t'd board.) then I might post two. Yay! Anyways, it's going to be a while until the rematch so don't go getting all upset about it. We got chapter and chapters to go till then. Again I have to make my T'd shout out to the wonderfully funny chickadee's over at the SB thread. They have saved me from many nights of not wanting to finish this chapter. Hahaha. Oh me. So yeah, cheddah (my kick ass beta), lucylu, dawn, gav, aspen.yeah all you bitches and ho's.i love yaalways have. -nbnf Oh and you know Leave me some love

*Chapter 9*: Reprecussions and Threats


CHAPTER 9 REPRECUSSIONS AND THREATS You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison My Chemical Romance
In the middle of a gun fight... In the center of a restaurant... They say, "Come with your arms raised high!" Well, they're never gonna get me, Like a bullet through a flock of doves...

To wage this war against your faith in me, Your life...will never be the same. On your mother's eyes, say a prayer...say a prayer! [Chorus]
Now, but I can't And I don't know How we're just two men as God had made us, Well, I can't...well, I can!

Too much, too late, or just not enough of this Pain in my heart for your dying wish, I'll kiss your lips again.
They all cheat at cards and the checkers are lost, My cellmate's a killer, they make me do push-ups (in drag) But nobody cares if you're losing yourself...am I losing myself? Well, I miss my mom, Will they give me the chair, Or lethal injection, or swing from a rope if you dare; Ah, nobody knows...all the trouble I've seen!

To your room... What they ask of you Will make you want to say, "So long..." Well, I don't remember, Why remember...YOU? Do you have the keys to the hotel? 'Cause I'm gonna string this motherfucker on fire! (FIRE!)

Life is but a dream for the dead, And well I, I won't go down by myself, But I'll go down with my friends.
Now now now now... (I can't explain) Now now now... (I can't complain) Now now, yeah!

The shit storm began two days after I got out of the hospital. Two fucking days of peace and quiet before the drama had to start up again. Bella spoiled me, as usual. I either lounged on the couch or lay in bed. She would snuggle with me and we'd watch movies or she'd read to me. I loved hearing her read her favorite books. She always started reading with a slight influx in her voice but once she got into the book, her voice would change and become more passionate - reflecting the emotions of the characters. She cooked and baked like a madwoman; I had a lot of fun watching her flit around the kitchen, mixing and cursing. She ended up with more ingredients on her pants than in the bowls but the final product was always amazing, and I ate as if were my last meal on death row. I was taking advantage of this grace period; I could eat whatever I wanted and gain as much weight without caring. Jasper's gonna shit a brick when I step on a scale in a few weeks. I snickered at that thought and Bella looked up at me from the crook of my arm. We were currently lounging on the couch, mid-afternoon, and just being together. The apartment was silent and I felt calmed by her steady breathing against my chest. It sucked asshole that we couldn't have sex. The doctor explicitly forbade any activities that would raise my heart rate.

Cock-blocking bastard.
I ran my fingers through her hair and hummed in contentment. Her nails scratched over my stomach in lazy patterns and I smiled up at the ceiling. I

could do this. I am doing this. This is good. I like this. Another snicker escaped me and Bella raised an eyebrow. "What?" "You're my girlfriend." "Uh, yeah, I guess I am." "You're my girlfriend." She laughed and patted my stomach. "Yes, Edward, and you are my boyfriend." I was trying really hard not to giggle like a little girl.

I give up. You don't have balls anymore. Your testosterone has been switched to estrogen and at any moment, your Adam's Apple is going to disappear. We can officially start wearing Bella's panties while we're at it.
"Bella Swan is my girlfriend." "You can say it any way you want but it means the same thing. What has gotten into you? Do I need to take you off those pain pills?" "Oh shut up. We haven't even gotten the script filled. I'm allowed to be happy about this. Stop killing my buzz." "Your buzz?" "Yes, my 'Bella Swan is my girlfriend' buzzzzzz." "You got hit too hard on the head, didn't you?" "Shut the hell up. I'muhh.I'm.what's the word girls use when they like someone and they freak out about it?" "Being stupid?" I glared at her in mock anger. She giggled and I wouldn't have been able to stop the grin on my face with duct tape and superglue. "What's the word, Bella?" "I don't know. I've never needed to use it." "What about now, do you need to use it now?" "Maybe; but if I did, I wouldn't tell you. It would be my word first." "You're claiming words now?" "Yeah, I am. Edward Masen 'fighter extraordinaire' might be my boyfriend, but Bella Swan is the queen of diction and she can claim words. Especially ones you don't know." "I know what the word is, I just can't remember it." "You lose then." "I don't loseyou're kinda stressing me out right now. Just tell me the fucking word." "Oh, that's low. Bring up the whole stress thing. Asshole. Fine, I'll tell you the word. It's " Three loud, obnoxious knocks against my door interrupted us. I sighed in frustration and tried get up, only to have Bella shove me back down on the couch and go to the door. My jaw snapped shut just as I was about to tell her she to make sure and look through the peep hole first; something told me that wouldn't go over too well. I heard the door open and Emmett's loud, annoying voice filtered into the apartment. I sat up on the couch, rubbed my eyes with the palms of my hands and groaned.

Too fucking early for this shit.

"Edward! My man! How's the old noggin doin'?" I cringed at his excessively sharp voice. "Not so hot right now with all your yelling." "Sorry. So, I came to tell you that I've talked to King's people." "And?"

"King is denying any knowledge of rigging the fight. He relays his condolences and has agreed to a re-match. Oh, and he cut the check for our 50 G's." Jasper stated. I looked over my shoulder to see him lounging against the wall behind the sofa. Looking all smug at Bella. I gritted my teeth. His hostility was pissing me off. Yeah, she was pissed about it but dammit, it wasn't his place. "Watch yourself, Jasper." He looked at me with raised eyebrows for a moment before sighing and nodding at me. I turned my attention back to the coffee table and rubbed my temples. I was getting a migraine now. This afternoon was quickly becoming shot all to hell. Bella came up and rubbed my shoulders softly. "Do you want me to get your script filled?" "Um, yeah do you mind?" "No, not at all; I'll go now and it won't take me longer than an hour." She kissed my neck and grabbed her wallet before starting for the door. "Take the Volvo!" "No!" I rolled my eyes, grinning at her stubbornness as I leaned back against the cushions on the couch, wanting to find out what really happened with King. "Dude, you let her drive the Volvo?" "Well, Emmett, I'm trying. But she won't do it. She has some kind of sick love for that rusted piece of shit she calls transportation." "Hey, if that thing were fixed up, it would be awesome. It's a classic!" "Whatever. So, tell me what really happened." Emmett fell into the armchair across from me and huffed before starting. "I called King and asked for a meeting. He told me to come over to his 'office' at the marina this morning at 9. When I got there, James was training with that asshole, Jacob. I informed King that we knew of the rigging and he denied knowledge of the drugs. He was excited about the prospect of a re-match. We have roughly two months to get you into shape. But that's not the bad part. The thing isJames had a word with me. He's not too happy with King and his tampering. He actually wants to win fairly. He also wanted me to deliver a message to you." "What Emmett?" I was getting impatient. "He saidand I quote 'Tell Eddie that his little lady is a firecracker and that when I wipe the canvas with him, I'll be claiming the real prize.' Dude, he's kindaobsessing over Bella. I don't know what happened after the fight the other night but he looked.crazy." I took a deep breath. This was not good. James was obsessive. The fact that he was envisioning Bella as a prize was not good. James did whatever he could to get what he wanted. This was not optional. I knew that if I did somehow manage to lose this rematch, Emmett and Jasper would have my back where Bella was concerned but they were only two men and James had King on his side. No, this was not good at all. "She is not a trophy to be won. She's mine. This is bullshit." Jasper, always the calm one, interjected. "We would never let anyone hurt Bella. Despite the problem I have with her attitude right now - " "Which you need to rectify on your own. Bella has every right to feel the way she does. Your asshole behavior is pissing me off." "despite that, you know we would protect her if anything happened to you -" "So you and Emmett are going to take on James, King, and all of Humpy Dumpty's Men? I think not. The only way this works is if James looses. You know this. The only peace of mind I have right now is knowing that he won't do a damn thing until after the match. If she's a prize, he'll wait 'til he thinks he deserves it." "What's the plan of action then?" Emmett asked. He was watching mine and Jasper's exchange like a tennis match with a gasoline soaked ball and flaming rackets. "We do what we always do. We train. I prepare. I need to make sure I'm ready for whatever James has to throw at me. And we don't mention this to Bella; she doesn't need the stress right now." Jasper threw down a yellow envelope. I didn't need to open and count it to know there was thirty-thousand dollars inside. "We start training in two weeks. Light work - nothing hard, just getting your heart used to the rhythm of things again. I'll go over the schedule with you

sometime later this week." I nodded at Jasper and Emmett stood to leave. "Jasperdrop the stupid shit with Bella. We're over it; you are, too." He gave me a strange look before shrugging his shoulders and turning to leave. A few minutes later, Bella was back home and prancing into the living room, effectively lightening my mood. I went from pissy and disgruntled to vibrating with happiness. She tossed a bag of pills on the coffee table and plopped down next to me. I pulled her onto my lap and leaned back down on the couch, trying to lay us the way we had been earlier but she was squirming too much for me to do that without hurting her. "What the hell?" "You're tickling me." "Really?" "Don't Edward. I really don't wanna do this right now. I'm serious." "You're serious?" "Edward!" I curled my fingers into the soft flesh of her hips and stomach and was rewarded with a giggle and high pitched squeal. Her face flushed as she tried not to kick and thrash around. I laughed and wrapped my arms around her, holding her over me tightly. We caught our breath and I rubbed my hand over her stomach, underneath the shirt. "Bella?" "Yeah?" "Did anything happen after the fight with you and James?" I felt the vibration of her groan against my shoulder and tilted my head, looking down at her. "What happened?" I was not amused. She should have told me if there was an altercation. She mumbled into my arm and I didn't make out anything she said. "What?" "I said, I might have yelled at him andthenslappedhim." "Wait, what was the last part?" "I said, I might have yelled at him and then slapped him." "You what?" I sat up on the couch and she slid down to rest on my lap. I wasat a loss. What the hell? "I was upset! He cheated! I knew he cheated! I mean, you were lying there on the mat and then Emmett and Jasper had to carry you out! You had blood coming out of your mouth! And I was scared and angry and I didn't mean to hit him I justI meanI just did. I was so madPlease don't be mad at me." "Does James know that you know about the tampering?" "Umwellyeah, I think so." "Shit. Bella.fuckyou shouldn't have done that. You reallydammit Bella, what the hell is wrong with you?" "Well I mean, Emmett told King about it and so that means that Jasper and I would obviously know. It's not like it hasn't been talked about." "Yes, but it would make sense that you mentioning it right there after the match means that you know it was done. They're going toyou might not be safe now. Fuck. Bella, you should have told me about this sooner. You should have come to me with this. This changes a lot of shit." She looked crestfallen; so upset that I was mad at her. I swallowed hard, trying my damndest to not be mad at her. She was upset and irrational. Hell, I would be too if it were her so I can understand that - but fuck if she didn't just put a target on her forehead and don a shirt that says 'Easy Kill'. I grabbed her up and held her close.

"Look, I understand, I do. I know why you did it but you have to think before you do shit like this. You keep getting yourself into trouble when you get upset and I can't lose you right now. So justif anything happens - anything else at all, you have to tell me. Okay?" "Okay, I will. I promise." "Alright. I'm not mad at you, okay? I'm justthis is going to be problematic. You're going to have to be careful and watch out for people now." She nodded and we laid back down, her back to my chest and my arms around her rib cage. My head was spinning with thoughts. That explained the 'firecracker' comment James had made. That explained his sudden interest in Bella. He found her brass appealing. Hell, so did I but shit, this was bad. This just turned James' obsession into a cemented thing. He wanted to take me out and teach Bella a lesson. I knew exactly what was going on in his warped head. Fucker always wanted whatever I had and this made shit ten times worse. Bella jarred me out of my thoughts. "Let me up so I can get you a glass of water for your medicine." "I feel better now; I don't need to take it." "Are you sure? You looked kinda out of it earlier" "That was earlier when I was being annoyed by Emmett and Jasper, now I'm alone with you and I don't need it." She rolled over onto her stomach and faced me, looping her arms around my shoulders and running her hands through my hair. I groaned and pushed my head into her fingers until she started to scratch. I resisted the urge to shake my leg. "Uh huh, whatever you say. Just let me know when you need a pill and I'll get it for you." I grunted and reached a hand out for the remote, fumbling with the buttons until it turned on. It was sad that I couldn't even find the power button when she scratched my scalp. We laid there for a few hours, laughing at the jokes and yelling at the stupid stuff. Her toes wiggled between my calves and her breasts pressed into my ribs. I really needed to find that doctor and kill him. No sex for two weeks was a stupid fucking idea. Regardless of how horny I felt, I was getting sleepy laying here and felt my eyes lulling shut just as there was a sharp tapping echoing in the apartment.

One guess as to who that belongs to

I groaned and tightened my hold on Bella; burying my face into her neck. "Edward, let me up. I have to get the door." "No, she'll go away." "She?" "Yes, Alice will go away. I'll write her a check for rent later." "Oh, well here, let's just do it now." I grumbled when she moved over me to stand and crossed my arms over my chest to pout. She will have to learn the hard way about Alice. Ugh, she'll be here forever when she sees Bella. I heard the locks turn and pricked my ears to hear what was going to be said. "Hello." Bella, ever the polite one. "Um, who are you?" Alice, ever the blunt one. "I'm Bella, you must be Alice. Come in, please. I'll get Edward." I heard Alice's heels clicking on the floor before she hit the rug and had to lock my muscles to prevent myself from burrowing into the couch and pretending she didn't exist. "Hello, Alice." "Edward dear, is there some reason why I haven't met Bella yet?" "Yes, there is a really good reason why you haven't met Bella yet." "And" "Because I want her to stay around." She huffed and I saw her come around the couch, arms crossed and hair going everywhere. She tapped her foot and I noticed the exceptionally bright color of her purple shirt. It made my eyes hurt. I reached over onto the coffee table for the envelope that Emmett left here earlier and pulled out the rent that I owed her for the next six months,

feeling far too lazy to find my checkbook. "Here, now go away. I'm tired and ailing and I need to my nurse to give me a sponge bath." "That's just wrong. And now I'm ignoring you. Nasty ass. So, Bella, how long have you and Edward been together?" "Um, a few weeks I guess." "Three months next week." I interjected. Alice looked between us and that evil conniving grin spread across her face. Shit. "So Bella, I was wondering if you wanted to go out sometime and have a girl's day? There aren't many women in the building around my age who like to do stuff like that and I promise we would have fun. We can go shopping, and get our nails done, and oh, you have to let me fix your hair! It's so pretty but you could use some layers and-" "She's perfect just how she is, Alice. Don't do this right now. Sorry, Bella, she thinks she's my mother. Alice, you have my rent. Go hound the other tenants." "I'm ignoring you Edward and I didn't hear Bella complaining." "You didn't hear her agreeing either." I countered. "Please? Say you'll come shopping with me?" Oh no, it was the face. The face that got me and Emmett to help her move that stupid couch up four flights of stairs. The face that got me to fix her sink and the face that convinced me to paint her living room that horrid orange color. It was the face of doom and Bella didn't stand a chance. I thought for a moment about tackling Alice before she could unleash it fully, then I thought about shielding Bella's eyes but I already knew it was too late. The shine and gloss was already covering those gray irises and her lashes were already batting away. It wasn't long before the pout came out and her shoulder started to shake a little. She was good. And like clockwork, Bella fidgeted and looked down.

Too late, baby, she's got you.

"Ummmwell I don't mind going with you but I'm not much of a shopper and I already have everything I needso, I mean I can go with you just don't expect me to really get anything." I did a double take. She just confounded Alice. I felt the grin spread across my face. Alice got her way but not all her way. But my victory was quickly stolen. Evil troll. "Bellano offensebut it kinda looks like you need some help. I mean, those jeans look like they've seen better days and you're wearing a 'Ring' tshirt. Sweetheart, you need some color in your life." I sat up and leaned back against the sofa and looked at Bella. I mean I really looked at what she was wearing. Come to think of it, she always did wear the same thing. I've only ever seen her in a few different pairs of jeans and some t-shirts. I scrunched down my eyebrows in concentration and then whipped my head over to the corner of the foyer where our shoes were sitting. I had three pairs of tennis shoes and some sandals against the wall. There was only one pair of sneakers that were Bella's. How did I miss this? I shot up off the couch and marched into the closet. I could feel Bella and Alice hot on my heels. I walked right into the closet and pulled open the dresser that I had cleared out for her. The one in the bedroom was big enough for all my clothes that didn't need hanging anyway. The first drawer I yanked open contained four pairs of jeans folded up on the left and a pile of shirts on the right. I shut it and moved on to the drawer above it. It was full of panties, bras, socks, and undershirts. Then I went down to the third drawer. Empty. The fourth. Empty. The bottom drawerempty. I felt really stupid, and I was getting angry. I whipped around looking at the shoe caddy on the floor. Nothing. I glanced up at the hanging clothes around me and saw two sweatshirts and a dress shirt that wasn't mine. I looked over to see Bella's wide eyes as she stood in the closet doorway. "Is that all the clothing you have?" "Um, well I haven't had a chance to get anything else, and I don't really need anything else so" "So, Yes? That's all the clothing you own? What else do you need?" Oh, she's getting pissy now. That little cleft was in between her eyebrows and her cheeks were flushing all splotchy. She was getting really pissed. I wonder if Alice's presence would save me from dying or at the least being horribly maimed. I might need an athletic cup, too. I wonder if I still have one of those. "If I need something, I'll buy it myself. I don't happen to need anything right now." "You don't even have a cell phone. This is ridiculous. You need more clothes and shoesBella how can you only have one pair of shoes? What happens if something happened to them? You need a cell phone. I can't not know where you are.Alice? Alice come here!" And just like that, Alice was squeezing into the closet like there wasn't an extremely pissed off Bella about to have my ass spread out all over the closet walls. She walked behind me as I kept my eyes locked with Bella. Pissed was starting to seem like an understatement. She was livid. I heard the drawers open and Alice gasping. Oh this is going to be good.

"No, no no no no. This is unacceptable. Bella, Edward is right. You need clothes honey child. We need to fix this right away." "No. I am not buying clothes right now. I don't want anymore clothes, I don't want more shoes. I don't fucking want a cell phone. If I want any of those things, I'll get it myself. This is pissing me off right now. I took care of myself for a long time before I met you Edward, and you are acting like an asshole." Okay, so she was angry, understood. And at the rate we were going with how often I was riling her up, it probably would have been a smart idea to stop while I was ahead. Apologize, tell Alice to back-off, and just be glad that I could get away with sneaking things in when she wasn't looking. But my anger was brimming and I hadn't really let any of my aggression out since the fight and I was itching to just fuck with something. So, I wasn't smart. I was stupid. I pushed past her and went into the living room. She followed me out cautiously, knowing I was up to something. I grabbed the manila envelope and pulled out six thousand dollars. Counting it twice and folding it up. "Alice! Get in here!" She came flitting in and stood away from us. I didn't blame her; I wouldn't want to be caught in between the death glares that Bella and I were shooting each other either. I spoke without looking at Alice and to be honest I might have been speaking to her, but I was directing it at Bella. Shoving the money out at her, I felt the wad of bills plucked from my fingers. I knew she had a gleam in her eye; Alice knew what I was doing. "Here's six grand. Get her nice clothes and some shoes. And not all heels either. Get her whatever it is that girls need. Spend it all, I don't care. I'm going to T-mobile and getting you a phone." "Stop it Edward. I swear to God if you do this" "What? What will happen? Jesus, Bella! You need clothes, you need a cell phone. What if something happens to you and you need to call me? What if you get in a wreck or get lost, or hurt? What then? Do you think I could live with myself? I want to take care of you. I know you can do it yourself but dammit I'm trying. I'm trying to do this right. Just let me do this. For my own sanity. You know what? You don't even have to wear the shit you buy. Just buy it, okay?" "No. I appreciate it and it's sweet. I'm not going to deny that. But you're making it seem like I can't buy my own things. I can afford clothes for myself. If I want a phone, I'll save for a phone. I don't need this. You know how I feel about this. You're lucky I managed to put my pride aside and stay here. I don't like money spent on me Edward. You do this andwell I don't know what I'll do but you won't like it." I grit my teeth and shoved the urge to yell at her down. My voice was calm and collected but even I heard the edge in it. "You can go with Alice and help pick out the clothes, or you can sit here and she can do it for you. I will not take no for an answer. You will have more clothes and you will have a cell phone." "I'm not staying here then." And she turned to march into the bedroom. I panicked.

Shit, she called my bluff. Shit fuck dammit.

I sped after her and found her back in the closet, yanking open drawers; her bag lying open on the floor. I snatched it up and threw it out of the closet before spinning her around to look at me. She had tears in her eyes and a bundle of socks clutched to her chest. My chest tightened and I felt my heart pumping into overdrive. I felt like shit for making her cry but I was still pissed at her for being so damn stubborn. "Look, I love that you are independent and I love that you don't want to take advantage of me. I love that you don't expect gifts and expensive things but I hate how stubborn you are. I hate that you won't let me take care of you. I know you can take care of yourself. Trust me when I say I get why you are doing this. I get it. But please, Bella, let me do this. Let me take care of you. I just want you to be safe and happy. You need clothes Bella. This is the stupidest thing for us to be fighting about right now. This isn't some sort of attempt at asserting any superiority over you. At least you make your money honestly. But let me spend my money on something I care about; let me spend it you." The tears in her eyes had long spilled over her rosy cheeks and her lips were quivering as she held in her sobs. I felt shitty. I felt so bad. She was going to leave now. She was still going to leave. This was the turning out to be the worst day ever. But could I let her leave? Could I stand down, take it back and just let it go? No, I couldn't. Bella would stay if it was the last thing I did and my closet was going to be full of dresses and girl shoes and my bathroom was going to have girly smelly things in it and there was going to be high heel shoes that I needed to dodge in the hallway when I came home at night and God be damned if Bella was going to take that away from me. My fury rose another notch at the thought of her leaving over this stupid shit. She was going to get over this right fucking now and just accept what I had to give her. "Bella, baby, please. Please don't leave. Please just let me take care of you. You take care of me. Please? I'm begging you right now Bella." She sniffled and dropped the socks, throwing herself at me. My stomach cramped from my store ribs and I hissed but caught her and held her tightly. She squirmed to get away and started apologizing about hurting me. "No, stop it. Just stop. Let me hold you." She stilled and I squeezed harder. "You'll stay?"

She nodded into my chest. "You'll go with Alice?" She was still and I stiffened before she nodded again, a little less enthusiastically but she did. I sighed out in relief and kissed her forehead. "Thank you." "I'm still going to be pissed about it." "I know but that's okay. I can live with that." She laughed and stepped back, wiping her face and grinning at me. Her sparkling eyes looking up at me and I grinned back at her; happy that this was over now and I had gotten my way.

I win! I win I win I win I win. Yeah, in your face! I win!

"Get cleaned up and be prepared to be out all day. She'll be dragging you everywhere." Bella groaned and tossed her head back in annoyance, so I leaned in and kissed her neck while pressing her into the dresser. "You'll learn to hate the mall in a whole new way, I promise." "So this was really just to torture me?" "Well, no. But uhhh.I do know there's some kind of lingerie store in the mallso if you could stop there, I wouldn't mind." "Watch it Masen or I'll give James a run for his money by beating your ass down." I laughed and we walked out to see Alice sitting in the love seat smirking. "Well! Now that you two have worked that all out, c'mon Bella, we have some damage to do." Bella glared at me and slipped on her tennis shoes. "Oh, and be prepared to say goodbye to those sweetheart. Those need to be donated." Alice said pointing to her Nike's. I laughed again and collapsed on the couch. "Have fun baby! I'll see you when you get home!" Alice drug Bella towards the door while prattling on about where they were going to find the best bargains and styles. "Oh! Bella!" "What Edward?" She was still a little snippy now that she realized she had lost. "Infatuated. I'm infatuated with you!" She rolled her eyes but smiled at me and I knew I had been forgiven. A/N: Okay, so now that we're in a happy place again... Don't get used to it shit's goin down next chapter. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA So who loves Alice? Cause I do. I honestly picture her with a slight southern accent. I mean she was from Bilouxi, Mississippi in the book. You can't really live there and NOT have a slight southern twist. So yeah, she says shizzle like honey child. And if you want to know more about Alice and Bella's shopping trip I'm posting the Outtake over on KO'd by Shadowboxer. Just go to my profile page and click on the outtakes. It's the second out more about Alice, her life and Bella's feelings throughout the whole clothing fiasco. Now for the good stuff. Cheddah, my awesome beta, without her this chapter would suck-ka-ka. She really fixed all that ranting and mumbo jumbo that was floating around everywhere. LucyLu! Darling. You pimp my shizzle out like one of the best. Srsly. Dunno what I would do without you. Gavi, thank you for giving me something to read when i really couldnt write this chapter. Cause I'll be honest I re-read Sin City twice. Hahaha Dawn- fo shizzle my nizzle. We are the awesome ones of the thread. Don't let Cheddah fool you with this. And to everyone else who makes me happy in my panties aspen leaf, saranic, and cullenitis (whose siggy of edward slapping the shit out of jacob

makes me laugh EVERY FUCKING TIME) So yeah, love you all. If you would like to come join the animals in their pen or just watch them play you can visit us here at http:/www(dot)twilighted(dot)net/forum/viewtopic(dot)php?f=44&t=2984&st=0&sk=t&sd=a OH ANOTHER THING We're gonna play Where's Waldo with SB. I keep getting reviews and shizzle saying that my fic is being rec'd out there. And for the life of me I can't find those rec's. I just wanna know where the word is going out. So if you got rec'd this fic from somehwere other than Twilight'd please let me know. just leave me the link or let me know how to find the page. Thanks! oh and you know...

leave me some love...

*Chapter 10*: Free For All Fighting

I'm gonna make a mistakeI'm gonna do it on purpose I'm gonna waste my time Cuz I full as a tick And I scratching at the surface And what I find is mine And when the day is done, and I look back And the fact is I had fun, fumbling around All the advice I shunned, and I ran Where they told me not to run, but I sure Had fun, So I'm gonna fuck it up again I'm gonna do another detour Unpave my path And if you wanna make sense Whatcha looking at me for I'm no good at math And when I find my way back, The fact is I just may stay, or I may not I've acquired quite a taste For a well-made mistake I wanna mistake why cant I make a mistake? I'm always doing what I think I should Almost always doing everybody good Why Do I wanna do right, of course but Do I really wanna feel I'm forced to Answer you, hell no I've acquired quite a taste For a well-made mistake, I wanna Make a mistake, why cant I make a mistake I'm always doing what I think I should Almost always doing everybody good Why

My bathroom smells like the beach threw up in it. There are jars of salt by the bathtub and bottles ofstuff all over the counter. The drawer on her side of the sink has makeup in it. Six thousand dollars worth of clothes are sitting in my closet - shirts and dresses, pants and skirts and high heeled shoes. There are even some lacy things hidden in the bottom drawer of my dresser. She still wears those jeans. She still wears my shirts. She still uses her dollar store shampoo and she managed to hold on to her Nike's. I would be offended if she weren't so fucking cute wearing my shit. Thinking about all this brings me to my sad charade in the kitchen. While Bella was being a pain in the ass about her cell phone and new duds, she was the epitome of perfection in every other way. So after days of being waited on hand and foot with breakfast, lunch, and dinner made from scratch, I thought it would be nice to make something for her Which has led to me burning breakfast this morning. I don't know who I was trying to kid, me or Bella. I ruined the pan, melted two spoons and the spatula as well as broke two plastic mixing bowls. I was on a roll. Pancakes were the Devil's creation anyway. Grunting, I yanked my finger away from the scalding hot pan and watched as the smoke billowed up from the sink while I turned the on the faucet. Oh yeah, grease splatters. Right. I tried my damndest not to slam the pan into the sink. I tried so hard, but I was so pissed off it sounded like I was trying to flatten the fucking thing out.

Shit that probably woke Bella up.

Sure enough, as soon as the smoke dissipated I saw her sleepy form standing in the kitchen entryway. Her hair was fluffed and tangled and my tshirt was wrinkled from the constant burrowing in her sleep. I glanced down and noticed new panties.

Fuck you Doctor Holdman. Fuck you to the fiery pits of hell.
Those fucking panties were purple. Purple. Did she do it on purpose? Fuck me. They were almost like the ones she had on the first timeonly lacierand see throughier. Dammit. I leaned against the counter in a vain attempt at hiding my raging wood because the thoughts of exactly what kind of breakfast I now wanted were getting me excited. I could just imagine throwing her up on the counter top and going to town. Then again, maybe not. Glancing around there wasn't a clean spot of counter space anywhere. Dirty measuring cups and bowls, batter flung everywhere. "Edward, I don't know what the kitchen did to upset you, but I think you both need to call a truce because I honestly don't know who is going to win here." "You are so fucking funny, you know that?" "Who's joking?" I rolled my eyes and pulled her over to me. No use in hiding the hard-on anymore, so I ground it into her ass and grinned when she gasped. "Edward" Ugh, she had to use that warning tone.

I released her and stared at the pan in the sink with disdain. Stupid fucking pan. It lied to me. It was supposed to be stick free with that Teflon shit on it. Liar. I felt Bella's arms wrap around my waist and looked down at her. I can't help but smile at her. It's so sick. "Thank you for trying to make breakfast." I kissed her hair and walked us back into the bedroom. "Get a shower and get dressed, we're going out for food. I'm tired of being cooped up anyway. Then we can go uh, get some more shit for the kitchen; I think I ruined a lot stuff." She snorted and disappeared into the bathroom. I pulled on a pair of jeans and a random shirt from the pile in my drawer. This leads me to another subject of controversy with me and Bella. Bella folds my clothes. She fucking folds my underwear. I swear to God I was living in the Twilight Zone when it came to my closet and dresser now. Clothing that had never been ironed before was suddenly starched and smooth. I never had to wait in my boxers for the laundry loads to get done before I had something to wear. Come to think of it I don't even think I've seen a pile of dirty clothes anywhere. She was sneaky. My socks got folded with their matching partners. It was weird; I always had to search for the matching one. Always. I was dressed in a few minutes and I found my phone, quickly texting Alice and asking her the best place to take Bella for cooking shit. I got a response back immediately. Bella came out in her trusty jeans and a new shirt. It was green and buttoned up, which looked nice on her, but would be better off.

I need to get laid soon. This is fucked up.

We walked down to the Volvo and she got in without complaint. I was enthralled with the view of her breasts from my position above her. I shut the door with a little too much force. I wondered if this obsession with sexing up Bella was coming from the fact that it was a forbidden fruit thing now because of that asshole doctor or if it was because I really wanted it. I mean, it had been years since I'd had sex before Bella. I wasn't a hermit per se, I was just focused. I had to shake these thoughts off. There was no way she was giving it up when there were doctors saying no, this was just torturing myself uselessly. I took her to IHOP for breakfast and glared at her pancakes.

Devil's creation.
"What's wrong with my pancakes? You look like you hate them?" "Nothing. Are you ready to go?" "Where are we going?" "You'll see." "Ugh, I hate that shit." "I know." Grinning from ear to ear, I paid the bill and ushered Bella out of the restaurant and into the Volvo. She looked peeved; it was cute. If it were just me, I would have said fuck it. But Bella liked to cook, so I felt kinda bad for ruining all that stuff. We pulled into the Bed Bath & Beyond

parking lot and I smirked at Bella's wide eyes, internally thanking Alice for her suggestion. We walked into the place and I grabbed a cart before strolling off, Bella following me. Once we got started looking at stuff, I wanted to laugh my ass off. Alice complained for over three hours about how she had to finagle Bella into getting clothes. The fighting and the pushing it took to get her to agree on prices and styles. How she bitched about buying makeup and shoes. But as soon I turn down an isle with metal mixing bowls, it's suddenly Christmas! All the lip biting and gaga-eyes at frying pans and mixers was making me hard again. We had the cart filled up, much to Bella's dismay, and we were in line to check out. This place was absurdly packed for a Thursday afternoon. I pulled Bella in front of the cart's push bar and rested my arms on either side of her. She leaned back against me and put her feet up on the bottom bar. I laughed at her and she bounced. People were staring at us, so I made out with her neck and she giggled. Finally, we made it to the checkout and I ignored the cashier batting her eyes. Bella did not. I snorted at the number written on the receipt then handed it back to her telling her I didn't need it. Bella smiled and we left with more kitchen appliances and pans than I thought I would ever need in my lifetime but the happiness on her face was worth the headache of finding a place for it all once got back to the apartment. Two hours later we were done putting everything away and rearranging the kitchen. We snuggled on the couch as I read one of the Cosmo magazines that Alice had left Bella. Specifically the article on giving good fellatio. I read it out loud and very seriously. It was a hard feat to manage through Bella's laughter. We even took a quiz called 'Is He Interested in You or Your Bod?' Apparently, I was interested in other men. After that, Cosmo went into the trash. At four we were graced by Emmett's signature 'Bang and Yell'. I opened the door to see him dressed up in a suit. Fuck, I forgot about the fight tonight. "We're not going." I made to shut the door but a massive paw slammed against it before I could get it closed all the way. "Nu uh! You're going. We're leaving at seven. The fights at nine. Attendance is mandatory." Groaning, I shut the door and went to tell Bella. "Hey, I gotta go to a fight tonight. I won't even stay the entire time, so I'll be-" My cell phone started ringing; I grabbed it off the coffee table and sighed before answering "What else Emmett? No..NoI'm not being...Fine. Whatever. Yeah, I gotcha." I hung up and breathed deeply. "Do you want to go tonight?" "Of course I do. You know I'd go anywhere with you." Emmett was right. I did want to be a controlling asshole. I did not want her to go. At all. But I knew if she was with me, I had a better shot at taking care of her. I couldn't take the chance that something would happen to her here alone. "Okay, so we're going to a fight tonight. James will be there as will King. I need you to stay close to me tonight, okay? I'm not going to leave you for a second but it's important that you stay right with me. We should just sit and watch the fight and leave but sometimes they do crazy shit andjust stay near me, okay?" She nodded and bit her lip thoughtfully. "Do I have to dress up?" Ooooh. This was good. She had to wear something nice tonight. Score. "Uh, yeah. The girls that come to these fights usually dress up. But I mean, anything you wear looks nice, so I'm sure whatever you had in mind will be fine." I knew she wanted to wear jeans and a nice shirt. I knew it but I also knew that she would feel bad if I went in a suit and she didn't dress up. Ohthis was perfect. I got up as calmly as I could and went into the bedroom to set out my slacks and a dress shirt, and finally opted to wear a coat. I felt Bella's eyes on my back and grinned. She was trapped now. Huffing, she stomped into the closet and I wanted to do a little happy dance so bad. At six thirty Bella had still not emerged from the confines of the bathroom. I didn't see what she took in there only that it looked like a dress. Emmett came clambering into our apartment with Jasper tagging along. "Is she ready?" "Hell if I know. She's been in there for like two hours. I'm thinking about sending in a recovery team." "Does she know we're leaving at seven?" "Yeah, she knows."

"The fight's at The Ring tonight. We gotta represent yo!" Emmett threw out his gangster twang and I laughed at him as Jasper rolled his eyes. "You are so not ghetto." Jasper retorted. "Represent?" We all turned to look at Bella. My eyes were so wide I felt them drying out. She was gorgeous. Her dress was blood red and satin with no straps and stopping just shy of her knees. There was a black sash tied around her waist and her hair was pulled back into a loose twisty thing with pieces falling out. She had a little makeup on and her lashes looked impossibly longer than they already were. I stepped forward and caught her as she teetered on a pair of black pumps. "Thanks." "You lookamazing." She blushed and looked down and fidgeted with a small black purse in her hands. "Alright kids, lets go!" I wrapped her arm around mine and walked her out the door. I opted for the elevator. No use in torturing her on the stairs or myself for that matter. Despite Emmett's pleas that we all take the Jeep, I helped Bella into the Volvo and we drove separately. It was a silent drive as I held her hand in mine. I even used her hand to shift gears just to hear her giggle. When we arrived at The Ring, I parked on the edge of the lot and helped Bella across the uneven asphalt. Once inside the heady, moist atmosphere crushed down on me. My grip tightened on Bella's hand as I was forced into mingling with people I barely knew and hardly cared about. There were only a handful of women in the joint and Bella shyed away from their glares. I tucked her into my side and leaned down to whisper in her ear. "I'll protect you." "I know." She whispered back. For some reason those two words made me feel invincible. I had a purpose and I was important. The urge to puff out my chest and pound on it was staggering. Someone was counting on me and it wasn't just anyone, it was Bella. The feeling left me high on power and importance. I was someone's safety. Bella trusted me. She wrapped her arm around my waist and we were in our own little world. The hazy, smoke filled air swirled around us and the florescent lighting was garish against my eyes. Emmett had invested in a new structure for the canvas platform; however he kept the same old posts. I never wanted to admit it but I did have an attachment to them. They were as old as this place and they just seemed to define everything the annex was - worn, beat up and tattered yet still holding onto that vibrancy that defined it. I looked down at Bella to gauge her reaction to the place. She seemed nervous and edgy and resigned. When she looked up at me and smiled, I knew it was genuine. I grinned back at her and kissed her softly. "We'll leave as soon as we can, okay?" She just nodded and continued to peer out over the mass of bodies that pulsed and pushed against itself. Emmett and Jasper found us soon and we all began to chat casually in a corner. Bella relaxed and started to have fun. As I had promised, I never let her go and always had my hand on her; whether it was resting on the small of her back or holding her hand, I had my fingers on her flesh. Currently, I was rubbing her shoulders as she stood in front of me and engaged Emmett in a battle of wits. Which is a really nice way of saying that Bella was kicking Emmett's ass in a game of 'yo mama.' I laughed frequently at her come backs. She never ceased to amaze me. This girl enjoyed traditional literature, she appreciated classical music, she could cook, clean and was incredibly compassionate, and here she was throwing down with Emmett in a game of 'yo mama'. I really shouldn't have been surprised; she was a smart ass and a half when she wanted to be. She did have a fire for life that was magnetic. Emmett's flustered face was priceless. He kept baiting her even though her retorts were just as quickly fired back. "Oh yeah? Yo mama is so fat she eats Wheat Thicks." "Ugh, Emmett. Please. Yo mama so fat she was floating in the ocean and Spain claimed her for the new world." Of course Bella would bring history and culture into ghetto verbal sparring. "Yo mama so fat when you get on top of her your ears pop!" "Okay let's get off the fat oneshow about.ugly?" "Dude, I got the best one Yo mama so ugly her mom had to be drunk to breast feed her." "Yo mama so ugly I heard that your dad first met her at the pound." "Yo mama so ugly she made an onion cry!" Bella laughed and they continued on. Jasper snorted his beer a few times and I chuckled at their game. I had my arms wrapped around her

stomach, just below her breasts and my chin on her shoulder, holding her close to me. As I pressed a kiss to her neck I heard him. "Edward? I didn't expect to see you here tonight. I thought you would still be recuperating. If I had known you were here, I would have sought you out earlier!" James' mellow voice cut through our little world and I stiffened; gripping Bella to my chest. She squeaked and her hands shot up to grip my forearms. There he stood with a strung out redhead on his arm and two other men standing behind him. I spared Black a glance and noticed his open gawking at Bella's chest. My arm came up around her shoulders and I effectively cut off any view of her cleavage. My eyes rested coldly on James' as we silently appraised each other. "Ah yes, Miss Swan. I believe we have met once before. You left such a striking impression on me. I hope that we might be allowed to get to know one another better in the future." The growl trapped in my chest suddenly burst free and I snarled at him. "Back the fuck off James." I felt Bella shivering against me and I knew instinctually that she was afraid. Of me or James, I had no idea, but she was scared and that pissed me off. Her hands clenched down on my arms in a vice like grip, I felt her nails biting through the layers of my coat and shirt. I tightened my own hold on her fractionally. Thankfully, the anger rising up inside of me was controlled enough to know that I shouldn't hurt her. "Why, Edward is that any way to talk to an old buddy? I was merely making an effort to get to know Miss Swan here. Now, BellaI can call you Bella, right? Good, Bella, I was thinking that perhaps we could go out one night and grab some drinks maybe see a show." "No, thank you for the offer, but I have better things to do with my time than consort with cowards." "Damn Masen, she's got fight in her. I like that. Coward you say? And why might I be a coward?" My fingertips dug into her ribs gently, as a warning. A silent plea for her to keep quiet. She was right, but she was going to seal her fate if she uttered anymore words. It was time to be an asshole and deter James from what he thought she was. "That's enough. Bella, you know better than that. James, I assure you that she meant nothing by it. She was obviously distraught when the match ended; you can understand her dislike of you. It won't happen again will it baby?" I felt her stiffen in my arms but she nodded curtly and I swear her fingernails broke skin under the cloth of my sleeves. I cursed myself internally. I just fucked up. I knew I fucked up. No matter how I tried to choose my words, I sounded like a domineering prick. But if James thought she had been broken, then he would lose a small bit of that interest he had in her. If she was bowing down to my word here, no matter how false the statement and sentiment was, he would understand that she had been obtained and was being controlled. If this situation wasn't so fucking intense, I would laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. Bella owned me, not the other way around. I would gladly do anything she told me to. Her stiff nod was a way to tell me that I had won right now, but I would not win later; not with her. "Understandable. Well, this has been fun but I think we're going to find our seats. This should be an interesting fight, if not entertaining." He turned and his small entourage followed him. Black lingered for a moment and I wanted to roll my eyes at him. "Black, your master's walking away; you should follow him like a good little puppy." He glared at me but said nothing before turning and leaving as well. I took deep breaths and inhaled the smell of Bella's perfume. It was a stark contrast to the dank smells in the room. Fresh and breezy, vanilla and lime, I greedily took her in and felt her grip loosen on my arms. Spinning her around, I gripped her face in my hands and kissed her. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I didn't want to do it, but you can't go challenging him like that. You know I didn't mean it right?" She searched my face and sighed, apparently happy with what she saw. Her lip trembled only a moment before she squared her shoulder and glared at me. I swear to God, I would go a hundred rounds in the ring against Emmett and my hands tied behind my back rather than have to face that glare. "I'm sorry. Please, Bella. I'm sorry." I was pleading with her now. The sex embargo was being lifted on Monday and I would be damned if I wasn't going to be taking her the minute we left the doctors office. Come to think of it, I might be able to blockade myself some goods sooner than that.

This isn't about sex; it's about putting her down in front of her friends. It's about making her feel less than she is. Think with the right head, asshole.
"You know I didn't mean that shit. Bella you are not an object for me to control and I realize that, but I had to diffuse the situation. Jameshestarts little games with people. He's fucking with me through you. I was trying to get him to understand that you aren't what he thinks you are." "And what exactly am I?"

It was the first thing she had said since I started my pathetic rant and I was only grateful for the fact that after James had left, so had Emmett and Jasper. They would never let me live this down. "You arethe smartest, sweetest, craziest woman I have ever met. You are everything I could have ever wanted in someone and you are going to kill me off one day if you keep pissing off very dangerous, psychotic assholes. You mean everything to me Bella and trust me when I say that I didn't mean what I said. I did it to protect you. James is fixating on you and I can't let that continue." Complimenting women was always goodright? She nodded her head solemnly and I wanted to stamp my foot. She didn't get it. She still thinks I'm an asshole.

You are an asshole.

"Look, we don't have time for this here, just follow my lead, try to have a good time and lets get this over with okay? We'll leave right after the tenth round, even if it's not over yet, okay?" She nodded again. Oh, fuck the silent treatment. Fuck that shit to hell. "Bella, please, just let this go and let's have a good time?" But the damage was done and I was leading her to our seats next to Emmett. Jasper always preferred the gallery. The agitation rolling inside me was increasing minute by minute and as the second round came into play my knee was bouncing hard and I was close to just saying fuck it and leaving, however I knew Emmett would fillet me alive if I left early. These things were important to him and mingling helped get support for our cause. I watched James across the platform slinging back drinks and fondling the redhead at his side. She looked like she needed another hit of whatever she was on. By the third round, I had counted six downed glasses of what looked like bourbon and he was swaying in his seat as he joked with Black and his other buddies.

Then that thought made me want to chuckle despite my morose mood and shitty situation with Bella 'cause honestly I wouldn't put it past her to knock my junk when we got home. Home. It was our home. Fuck, I messed up. The skimpy waitresses were prancing around with drinks in their hands and bending over a tad too low to ask if I wanted anything. I got one glass of Vodka and nursed it, only taking one sip and deciding it wasn't worth it. Drunken apologies were never good and I was prepared to grovel once we were alone. I was seriously considering jumping in the ring and finishing off one of the fighters myself just to get this damn thing over with. Suddenly the fight was over. Clairmont landed a jab and head butt that rendered Hawthorne down and out. I cringed when I heard the cracking noise from his final blow and had to wonder if this is what Bella had seen before I was finished off in the last round. It made me slightly nauseous but I couldn't be sure if it was from the slight bit of alcohol in my system or genuine remorse. The room went crazy for a moment and I dropped the glass in my hand in order to yank Bella into my arms. Chairs were thrown back and people began shouting. Emmett stood quickly and I was thankful for his large frame. Whether or not it was his intention, he was keeping people from backing into us.

This is exactly why she should not be here. These people were filthy and disgusting.
I wrapped my arms around her like a cage and folded her into my chest. My shoulders and back were being shoved, so I locked my knees and legs attempting to keep us grounded and stationary through all the jostling. I felt Bella burrow her face into my chest and her arms go around my waist underneath my jacket. I wrapped the flaps of the coat around her sides in an attempt to shield her from the view of all the pissed off drunk fuckers in the room. I leaned down and whispered to her again, trying to calm her nerves. "It will be over soon. They'll all leave to get their money and we can get out of here okay?" She didn't relax though and the hole in the pit of my stomach widened. It was that feeling of impending doom - when you knew you had done something wrong and you knew you were caught. Punishment was on the horizon and it was those calm moments before the storm when your stomach twisted in knots and you felt all clammy and sick. I heard the raucous laughter coming near only a split second before they were standing before us. James and Black seemed to be alone and James was the only merry one. I could see his wild eyes glitter with mirth when he locked his gaze onto mine. "Edward! Great fight huh? It lasted about as long as I thought it would! We should go out and celebrate! C'mon you can bring the little tiger and we can all see what she's made of!" Emmett decided to try and step in on my behalf, which was a good idea, because my only idea of a response was to shove his nose into his skull. "Look James, the fights over. Go collect your winnings and leave." I saw Emmett put a hand on James' shoulder, pushing him back slightly and I cringed when James' eyes shined darkly in the hazy lighting. He shoved Emmett's hand away and took a sloppy step back. Black balanced him quickly then stepped back himself, clearly knowing he was outnumbered if his boss decided to throw down right here. Then the unholy of all unholy things happened. King graced us with his presence. I saw him stumbling towards us and knew immediately that he was

toasted. King was always drunk at these events. A shapely blonde was being drug beside him. His hands biting into her skin in an unforgiving grip. If I didn't have Bella to worry about I would teach him a lesson on how a woman deserves to be treated. "Well! How are my two favorite fighters doing? What's going on? Why so serious? Did someone die?" Bella went rigid in my arms; I tightened my hold on her praying I wasn't suffocating her against my chest but I knew exactly what she wanted to say in response to King's stupidity. "No, we were just leaving." Jasper's soothing voice called over us all. I glanced back and saw him coming towards us with a lazy gait. He had his jacket tossed over his shoulder and his shirt was un-tucked around the suspenders connected to his gray slacks. Jasper was a legend in these circles. He won more consecutive fights than any other fighter around and he was the epitome of calmness. People didn't know how to handle Jasper's cool - it was strange to see the fire in the ring only to see ashes out of it and King always did get wigged out by him. "Well, that's too bad! We should go to the Sound Bar! The club is still open for another few hours and we could all get some drinks, talk about the old days!" Which was funny because King didn't know shit about the 'old days.' King was fresh on this scene, only having been here for about two years now. Truthfully, I didn't know much about the 'old days.' But I didn't really care to either. Emmett politely declined the offer; however King saw it as anything but polite. His face turned red and he shoved the blonde roughly out his grasp causing her to stumble on her shoes. "You think you're so much better than me McCarty? 'Cause you got this piece of shit gym and a second rate fighter? I won last match you fucker! And you know I'll win this next one too and when I do, I'll be sure to buy this shit hole out and take it over." Now with Emmett, you can insult him, his mother, even the great state of Tennessee, where he's from, but you never, ever insult his gym. Because to Emmett, The Ring was like church: sacred. And King had just committed heresy. I saw the ire flame up in his eyes and before he could get a move in, I heard the sharp feminine voice of the blonde next to King. "C'mon, Royce. I'm bored, let's go. It's hot and nasty in here and I want a real drink." She practically simpered at him. Unfortunately, Royce was too drunk to realize what was going on around him and he lashed out at her, screaming profanity after profanity while yanking on her arm and slapping her across the face. Spewing things about knowing her place and never telling him what to do. Before I could manage to do anything, Emmett was on Royce, Jasper was on Emmett and in my haste to help my brothers, I had let go of Bella and didn't know where the hell she ended up. I gripped Emmett's massive arm in my left hand and slung my right arm around his throat as Jasper wedged himself between the two brawling assholes. "You don't fucking treat ladies like that! You fucking piece of shit!" and Emmett went on and on, not making a damn lick of sense after that. But there was plenty use of the word fuck and shit in various degrees. My ear was ringing with his shouts when we were finally able to detain him a good six feet from King's sprawled form. I saw a nice bruise starting to form on his face and blood leaking out of his mouth. I hope he broke some teeth. "Fucking bitch. You're going down McCarty. Fuck you, I own you! I own this whole game! Fuck you and your weak ass fighter and your crazy trainer! Fuck you all!" King had limited men on his side and I gathered from James' lack of appearance now that they weren't so sure about how to effectively takedown three sober professionals. I felt the hair on my neck prickle and turned my head a fraction to see many gym patrons standing off to the side, waiting and ready to see if they were going to be of help. Smirking, I nodded my head towards them. "If you want this gym King, you'll be waiting a long time. I think James knows who the clear victor is in a real fightyou know, since he's left you here on your own." King's eyes darted around and I could see the color draining away from his face, the bruise becoming more prominent against the white pallor of his skin. His friends straightened him up and he held his face as he looked at us. "This isn't over." "You're right. You're still standing, so this is far from over." Emmett's hard words hit home with King and he stormed off, out of the gym and out of harms way. I released my hold on Emmett and turned quickly seeking Bella. She was standing beside the blonde who was mercifully passed out. Her face swelling up now and blood drying under her nose. I went to her and crouched down beside her. "Are you okay?" She looked at me with shock. Yeah, I know there's an unconscious girl lying in front of me, I know I was just in the middle of a fight, but really I have priorities here. "Are you okay?"

My hands skimmed over her arms and I looked her legs over the best I could as she knelt down. She looked alright. I would know better later if she was hurt. "She fainted a few minutes agoshe was confused, asking where she was before she passed out." Emmett's brawny frame came up and looked down at the woman. His huge arms slinging down to lift her up gently. He looked at her face with a deep frown and turned from the crowd of people to leave. I pulled Bella up to me and made for a hasty exit. There was far too much fuckery going on tonight to hang around. God only knows what will happen here next.

A fucking three ring circus of death.

Bella was silent on the drive home. I hated that shit. Silent treatments were the ultimate punishment. Basically because you got nowhere. She didn't wait for me to open her door. She didn't wait for me before entering the apartment herself. She didn't acknowledge me when she stripped down to nothing but the sexiest fucking bra and panties I'd ever seen on her and she ignored me when she went into the bathroom and slammed the door shut. I chucked my jacket, not caring where it landed or if it wrinkled then ripped my shirt out of my waistband, popping the buttons on my cuffs and rolling them up to my elbows. Plopping down on the bed I held my head in my hands and tried to sort this mess out.

Okay, so let's start with the basics shall we?

Okay, Bella's pissed

And I'm an idiot.

Good start. Now why is she pissed?

'Cause I'm an idiot.

We've established that. Try harder fucktard.

She's pissed because I put her down in public and made her seem like she was wrong and James was right. I made her feel like she couldn't handle herself. Which she can'tI mean not against Jamesnot physically.dammit. Apologizing didn't seem like enough right now but shit, she was being so fucking stubborn about it. I mean, I said I was sorry afterwards and I meant it. Why did I have to keep doing this shit? This is exactly why I didn't do relationships. They were fucking complicated and all this fighting was really starting to wear me down. I didn't even have the luxury of being able to stay pissed at her long enough to do any good either. It didn't help that she was right most of the time. Groaning, I leaned back on the mattress and ran my hands through my hair. The water cut off signaling Bella was done with her shower. I rolled over and propped myself up on an elbow when I heard the lock click and the door open. Her hair was hanging in damp strands over her shoulders and a towel was clutched around her body. "Bella" She stopped me with her hand and I held my breath for the 'tell off'. "I don't wanna argue about this anymore. I get it, I do. But don't do it again. I know what I'm doing and I know what I'm saying. I don't need you to censor my words." I just nodded. She was wrong. She didn't know what she was doing and she did need someone to censor her words. She was strong and smart and sarcastic but Bella was reckless when it came to starting shit. She didn't realize that the people she was baiting were not known for their level head and sweet disposition and while I was raised to treat women a certain way, guys like James and King saw women as toys. Just a pair of tits and ass to pass the time. Bella was so much more and she didn't know what would happen when she tested that belief. She didn't realize the severity of that outcome. It was my job to protect her. As a man and as her lover, I had the right to do what I thought was necessary. But actually telling her that was fucking suicide, so I just nodded. She huffed and dropped her towel, effectively confusing me and successfully distracting me from whatever the fuck I was thinking because God damn she was beautiful. Her hips swayed as she walked into the closet and I about died when she bent over to retrieve a pair of hidden underwear from that bottom drawer. My peeping was put to an end as soon as she slung a shirt over her head and flicked out the lights in the bathroom and closet. I was still reclining on the bed and kicked my shoes off, wiggling my toes in these stupid gray socks. Bella stood between my knees and looked down at me pensively. I didn't know what to do so I just stayed put and stared at her. I liked doing that, I couldn't complain. She sighed and reached down to peel off my socks then reached up to undo my belt buckle. I raised an eyebrow and she rolled her eyes at me. "Just stand up and let me help you get undressed. Tonight sucked and I just wanna go to bed."

Grunting, I got up and she undressed me before shoving me into bed and sliding in next to me. "You smell like smoke." "Want me to take a shower?" "No." Then she was straddling me and kissing my neck, my shoulders and her hands were running down my stomach to fondle the elastic band of my boxers. I groaned and dug my fingers into her hair and pulled her up to my mouth. She greeted me eagerly and slipped her tongue into my mouth. I kept her connected to me firmly even as she tried to wiggle out of my grip. She ground down over my erection and moaned into my mouth. One of my hands went to her ass and helped her create that amazing friction. I felt her lift up and slide her hand into my underwear to wrap around my hard length and give me two forceful pumps. Grunting, I bucked my hips into her and she released me quickly before snatching her mouth off my own. She rolled over and curled up onto her side of the bed. "Goodnight, Edward." I lay panting against my pillow, gripping my hair in my hand and looking over at her prone figure. She just did that shit on purpose! Holy fucking hell. My cock twitched against my thigh as if saying, 'Hey, what the fuck?'

You deserved that.

"Goodnight, Bella." AN: So, Edwardwell he fucked up. He made a mistake...he did it on purpose... So I know everyone is likeno sex? Yeah, that sucks huh. But there is hope on the horizon peeps. Limey goodness is on its way next chapter. Just stick with me through the next few chapters cause we're going to be fleshing some things out here and it takes some time. Yeah, so if you can stick through the fuckery in the beginning of the next chappie then you get a little prize at the end. I really can't believe the feedback this has gotten. All you're reviews are going straight to my head fo realz. But enough about the story and onto more important things I hope all those colorful hoors over at the T'd thread caught the essential clothing article that both Edward and Jasper were sporting. Yeah, they're cool. So if anyone wants to come over to the T'd thread for SB and ask some questions or just join in the.well I don't really know what to call it anymore butits something, then feel free to drop us a hello or tell us we're crazy. Cause we are. http:/www(dot)twilighted(dot)net/forum/viewtopic(dot)php?f=44&t=2984&st=0&sk=t&sd=a Cheddah = awesome beta who fixes all my mistakes and tells me when shizzle is too gay to post Gavi = stalker who owns my Panther Lucy = who pimps my shizzle and makes me laugh on T'dmostly at Cheddah Dawn = dude. I don't even know wtf it would be like without youI just don't knowI don't wanna know. Aspen = I want to be your googlecause you find the yummiest pictures of hot half naked men to postSrsly. Saranic = who is always about Fightward and eggin' on Cheddah. I can't do it all on my own. And to all the other wonderful ladies on there who are fuckawesomeyou guys are amazing and a big reason why this fic is continuing to be written no pressure kso you know what this means

Leave Me Some Love

*Chapter 11*: Making Friends Out Of Nothing At All

Fall Out Boy Sugar We're Going Down Am I more than you bargained for yet I've been dying to tell you anything you want to hear Cause that's just who I am this week Lie in the grass, next to the mausoleum I'm just a notch in your bedpost But you're just a line in a song (A notch in your bedpost, but you're just a line in a song) Drop a heart, break a name We're always sleeping in, and sleeping for the wrong team We're going down, down in an earlier round And Sugar, we're going down swinging I'll be your number one with a bullet A loaded God complex, cock it and pull it Is this more than you bargained for yet Oh don't mind me I'm watching you two from the closet Wishing to be the friction in your jeans Isn't it messed up how I'm just dying to be him I'm just a notch in your bedpost But you're just a line in a song (Notch in your bedpost, but you're just a line in a song) Drop a heart, break a name We're always sleeping in, and sleeping for the wrong team We're going down, down in an earlier round And Sugar, we're going down swinging I'll be your number one with a bullet A loaded God complex, cock it and pull it Down, down in an earlier round And Sugar, we're going down swinging I'll be your number one with a bullet A loaded God complex, cock it and pull it We're going down, down in an earlier round (Take aim at myself) And Sugar, we're going down swinging (Take back what you said) I'll be your number one with a bullet (Take aim at myself) A loaded God complex, cock it and pull it We're going down, down (down, down) Down, down (down, down) We're going down, down (down, down) A loaded God complex, cock it and pull it We're going down, down in an earlier round (Take aim at myself) And Sugar, we're going down swinging (Take back what you said) I'll be your number one with a bullet (Take aim at myself) A loaded God complex, cock it and pull it

"What are you doing?" My voice sounded scratchy and foreign to my own ears. "What does it look like I'm doing?" His voice was low and seductive. "Stop. I mean it. I don't like it." I was angry; volatile. "You're lying. I can tell. Just let it happen." Fingertips grazed my neck. I shivered. "Getaway from meI'm not staying here. I'm not doing this. This fucking game of cat and mouse is getting old. What are you going to do

when she catches you?" My voice rose octaves as it carried my threats. Hysteria is like wildfire, it catches so quickly. His deep laugh rumbled against my arm as I backed further away. I was cornered; trapped. My fingers bit into the Formica corner top and my head craned away from his face. He was pushing too far this time. He was too close. This was wrong.
"You mean us?" "There is no us. Please, just stop. You're embarrassing yourself." Fear drops the tempo and tremors begin to show through the bravado.

His only response was another laugh, only softer. I screwed my eyes shut and pushed away from the cheap plastic edge and brushed past him, out of the kitchen. I felt his thick fingertips bite into my upper arm and hold me back. He was going too far. This was not normal. Panic suddenly flooded my limbs and I struggled against his iron grasp. Get away, run away, leave it all. Just go.
"You can't run Bella. This isn't a bad thing, sweetie. This is what we were meant to do. We were meant to be this way. Can't you feel how right this

is? Just touch me, Bella. Show me what you can do." Bile rose in my throat as I felt his erection press into the flesh of my hip. This was disgusting and wrong. His fingers grazed my right breast. Tears welled up in my eyes as I reached up and dug my nails under his hand and released myself from his grasp. I turned to scream, to yell. I turned to tell him that he would never get what he wanted; that he didn't deserve what he had already. That he was a fucked up person and that I wasn't going to let him continue fooling everyone around him. But as I turned, I looked into steel gray eyes, short blonde hair, and boyish features. What the fuck? James sneered at me. But it wasit had been
"You can't run away from me Bella." "What? What the fuck"

My legs seemed to be carrying me away from him but not fast enough. The voice was the same but the face was all wrongIt was all so wrong.
"Renee knows. She hates you now Bella; she knows now what a mistake this all was."

My throat constricted and I gasped for air. I needed air. I needed Edward. Where was Edward? Was he a dream? What the fuck is going on? I turned around and saw Charlie standing at the window by the breakfast nook. He was expressionless; void of any emotion. Suddenly, he turned and walked out of sight. No! I need you! Wait, help me! My hands reached out to open the window. If I could just get the latch open. If I could just slide it up and call out to him. I struggled with the latch and it finally gave way. But the window stayed fixed, closed. Looking down I saw the nails. Scores of them nailed into the sill; crooked, bent and rusted. I looked up and saw Edward glaring at me through the glass.
"You lied to me."

His voice was as clear as a bell despite the thick panes of glass separating us. The air compressed and my body was weighted with tension.
"No, I never lied to you. I triedI just wanted to be strong for you. Please, EdwardI love you." "I don't love you. You're such a child, Bella. Didn't you see it for what it was? Honestly, I needed something, you provided it for me. That's all

there was to it."

"Edward? Please, you don't mean that. Please Edward, I need you. I'm scared and I can't get out of here." Rescue me. Save me. Love me.

PleaseI need you.

"You're not supposed to leave Bella. You made this, remember?"

My hands were suddenly heavy and I looked down to see the hammer in one hand and a fistful of nails in the other. I dropped them quickly as if burned and snapped my eyes back up to Edward's face.
"EdwardnoI didn't want this. Please, help me! You have to help me!" "Why? Bella, you lied. You never told me how fucked up you were. Jesus, she's your mother Bella! How could you?"

And then it wasn't Edward's voice anymore and those weren't his forest eyes but black pits. I knew those eyes; those dilated pupils were forever

burned into my mind. And Edward's auburn locks suddenly shifted and lightened; flattened down into blonde strands that swept over his head. His nose flattened and widened; his skin grew darker. No. No, it's not the same. He isn't the same.
"Why are you doing this to me? Why won't you go away?"

He didn't answer but instead grinned and braced his hands on the window. He yanked once; the nails groaned. He yanked twice; the wood splintered. He yanked a third time and the glass shattered.
My eyes snapped open and I gasped for air. My heart was thudding rapidly in my chest as I tried to regain my balance with reality. It was just a dream. It wasn't real. I turned my head and saw Edward lying next to me asleep. I felt my heart constrict at the sight of him. His forehead rested against my shoulder and his right arm was stretched out towards me. I felt his knuckles resting at my side, as if he was afraid to touch me. I did that. I fucking did that. Last night I was a fucking bitch and I made him feel that way. Fuck. Not only did I take out my aggression on him, but I fucked with his head by using my body. I felt sick. My stomach turned and I sat up slowly. It was a struggle not to bolt out of the bed and run to the toilet. I didn't want to wake him. I didn't want to deal with this yet. Once I was in the safe confines of the bathroom, I heaved what little was in my stomach. As if the physical purge was enough to satiate the emotional one. I leaned against the countertop and held my head in my hands. My brain was three sizes too big for my skull; my mouth was dry and disgusting. I was sweating and my neck felt like it was made of iron. Jesus, I'm too young for this shit. The memories of the dream were fading in my mind and I struggled to seize the events but they were just out of my grasp. I left the bathroom after de-fuzzing my mouth and brushing my hair; it seemed to help some. Padding into the kitchen, I was hit with the strangest feeling of dj vu. Shrugging it off, I started the coffee and made my morning rounds to clean the house. I started the laundry and the dishwasher, dusted the living room and Edward's office, and settled down on the couch to wait for the clothes while drinking my coffee. I wasn't half way through my coffee before a sharp knock was at the door. Pulling myself up, I went to answer and prayed it was something I could handle. "Hey Bella!" "Hi, Alice. What's up?" "Not much, just I heard you went to the fight last nightEmmett mentioned it and wellI know that Jasper" "Ladies!" I turned to the right and saw Emmett jogging down the hall towards us. "Emmett!" "Bella! Alice! Hey, so I need a favor." I cocked my head to the side just as Alice crossed her arms over her chest. I was about to ask what he needed when Alice spoke up. "No, Emmett. I will not wax you again." "Uh, no. And you promised you wouldn't tell anybody about that. Look, I need some girly clothes. Mine are too big." Now I had to say something; that was too good of an opening to resist. "Um, Emmett sweetie, while I know you would be adorable in anything you wear, don't you think drag is a bit much?" He glowered at me and rolled his eyes before leaning against the door frame and pouting. "Look, the girl from last night, Rose, she's in my room and she needs clothes but mine are too big. So if you could just lend me something Bella, I would greatly appreciate it." "Hey! Why are you asking Bella? Why not me? I'm the clothes girl after all!" "Well I would sugar, but Rose is taller and more Bella's size.so I just thought" "Oh shut up monkey face, I get it." "Alright Emmett, how about I grab some things and head up there in a minute. She might need a girlnotyou." Emmett nodded and retreated back up the hallway. I looked back at Alice and gestured for her to come inside.

"I'll go grab something for her real quick. There's coffee in the kitchen if you want anyon second thought, never mind. You don't need it. Edward's still asleep, so I'll be just a second." I grabbed clothes that I thought she might want to wear - a pair of sweats and a t-shirt. I also grabbed a set of underwear that still had the tags on them and put the bra back.

Way bigger than mine.

I didn't bother changing and knew Alice's face would be priceless when I left the apartment in Edward's flannel sleep bottoms and a tank top. I tied my hair up in a loose bun and kissed Edward's sleeping form before softly closing the bedroom door. Just as I had expected, she glared at my pants which only made me giggle. I slipped my phone into the pocket of Edward's pants and felt the heavy weight of it tap against my leg. Alice rolled her eyes and smiled at me as we walked out of the apartment together. I felt a little guilty leaving without telling Edward where I was going, especially after what happened last night. I didn't intend on doing what I didI just did it. I really didn't want to think about any of these things. And I really didn't want to think about how I was going to work through half the shit that was going on with us. I didn't know how it was going to happen or even if we would but I knew that I would tryif he wanted to try.

Avoid, avoid, and avoid some more.

Alice led the way up to Emmett's apartment and we caught him coming out of the door just as we rounded the corner. "She'ssettling. I'm going to go talk to Jasper for a minute. Umjusttread carefully." Well that was rather ominous. I looked over at Alice with a blank stare; she just shrugged and pushed the door open. Taking a deep breath, I followed her and looked around Emmett's apartment. It was rather bereft of furniture besides a large blue futon and a matching recliner. He had a rug thrown over the hard wood floor and his coffee table was wooden. The walls were painted white and his curtains were dark burgundy. It was very plain and sophisticated, and I couldn't help but think that it fit him perfectly. Alice led us down the hallway towards the master bedroom and tapped on the door. We heard a muffled reply that could have been 'Come in' or 'Dog Fin'. I shrugged and we entered the room slowly. There on Emmett's king sized bed was the girl from last night. Her hair was a haystack around her head; her face was red and bruised. Her nose was swollen and she looked miserable still wearing the same dress. Through her blurry eyes, she looked at us, straightened her back and put her hands in lap. "Who are you?" "I'm Alice and this is Bella. We're friends with Emmett. He asked us to come up here and see if you needed any help. Bella brought you a change of clothes." Emmett didn't ask us to help her but I wasn't about to open my mouth. Rose looked mean and I was going to stay securely behind Alice on this one. I stretched out, handing the clothes to her and she took them slowly. Her nose wrinkled at the sweats and I felt an inch tall. Of course she would be expecting something nicer than that. I felt stupid for grabbing them now. "Thank you." I immediately heard the curt tone in her voice and backed away to the corner of the bed, however Alice seemed to take it in stride and sat right next to her and continued to poke the lion with a stick. She didn't seem to feel the blanket of awkwardness that had settled over the room. "SoEmmett says your name is Rose" "Rosalie Hale." "Oh, so should we call you" "No, Rose is fine." I had yet to open my mouth and at the rate this was going, I didn't think I would. Suddenly Emmett came bounding into the room. "How are my favorite girls?" Instantly Rose's face softened and she smiled a little. Emmett threw an arm over my shoulder and sat down next to me. I was very aware of Rose's eyes narrowing in on the gesture.

Run away! Run away! Get out now while the skin is still attached to your face!
I smiled up at Emmett's happy countenance and I hoped it didn't look like the grimace I knew it was. He grinned at me and looked expectantly at Alice and Rose. The glare Rose was throwing my way made me feel sticky. Alice, however, was in complete control of the situation. "Ugh, c'mon Emmett! Let us have some girl time here." He chuckled and got up, raising his hands in a sign of surrender. "I'll be in the living room if you guys need me."

Fucking, Alice. Emmett was the only thing protecting me from having my body dismembered. Shit. Why the hell doesn't she like me? She likes Alice "So, you're the Bella that Emmett keeps going on about?" This question caught me off guard. Emmett talks about me? He talked about me to super blonde? Uhwhy? "Um, I guess so. I've only known him for a few months. He's a great guy though. He looks big and mean, but he's really amazing. Sweetest guy I know." Alice took it upon herself to elaborate for me. I think she knew what was bugging the nice out of Rose. "Well, after Edward. Isn't that right Bella?" She nudged my arm and I felt the heat rising to my cheeks. After last night, Edward might not want me back in the apartment much less calling him the greatest guy I know. "Well, Edward isEdward. Of course he's at the top of my list for everything." Rose visibly relaxed but no smile for me yet. "So Bella is with this Edward dude, who are you with?" The look on Alice's face was priceless. She looked like a goldfish gasping for water. Her eyes got really wide and her mouth worked in silent motion trying to figure out what was going to come out. Then it hit me. This morning when she came over she wanted to talk about Jasper Oh this is too good. This is so good that it dominates over pissy Rose. "Holy shit on an altar! You like Jasper!" I was bouncing on the bed. This was fucking perfect! For the first time since I had known Alice, she blushed and looked down at her hands. Too fucking perfect. Thoughts of the mean cat sitting next to her were lost on me the minute I latched onto this information. Rose? Rose who? "Alice! You do don't you? You like him! Why didn't you tell me the other day?" "Because I don't think he likes me back!" she wailed. I felt bad for pushing it because her eyes got all glassy and Rose leaned away from her like she had the plague. I guess snot would be a bad thing to get on a super model. But with her face all tore up like that I didn't really think she got to play the high card. "Alice, have you ever shown Jasper that you wereinterested?" "Well, Ionce I we talked aboutno." "We'll fix it. Don't worry. I'll help you." "Easy for you to say; you found Edward all beat up and saved his ass. It was easy for you. What the hell am I going to do? Jasper's lived here for almost five years now and we've only ever been friendsI don't know how he could possible like me. Five years, Bella! Five! And nothing! If he liked me, he would have made a move by now." I mulled this over. Jasper was very refined and kept to himself mostly. But it still couldn't hurt to try it. I could do this. I might not be able to help myself on the relationship front but I could help Alice. And if he didn't like her at least she would know. She would be able to move on.

Okay now take that logic and apply it to yourself.

I blinked at the navy blue comforter beneath me and internally groaned. Dammit. I had to go talk to Edward after this. When I looked up, Rose was watching us intently. "So you're with Edward and she likes Jasper. Where is Emmett's girlfriend?" And then it clicked into place. Rose didn't hate me. She thought Emmett liked me. "Rose, Emmett isn't dating anyone. He's single. But last nightthe way he looked at youI don't think that's going to be true for long." She stared at me for a moment and then smiled. She was smiling at me but instead of feeling relieved that she no longer wanted to kill me, I was still afraid. There was something sinister about that smile. "So you can help me and Alice then. You seem to be in on things here." Again, I blinked. This wasnot good. Not only did I know nothing about Rose, I felt more of a protective feeling over Emmett than I did Jasper. Emmett was a smart boy. He has his own business and he does well with people but I was afraid of Rose, and Emmett was such a kind person. Sucking up all the balls I had, I was honest with her. "Look Rose, I don't know you. I would help you, but I don't know you're intentions. I know I sound like his parent right now, but you need to realize that

I care about Emmett. Not like that. He's like a brother to me. So I would have to see who you are before I did anything to help you get with him." The more and more I thought about it, Rose didn't seem too sweet to me. She was with King for Christ's sake. The man that had my Edward drugged. The man that had ordered him to be beaten. I didn't like her at all. Her smile faded and the cold look in her eyes came out once more.

Tough shit, sweetie. You're guilty by association.

Suddenly her face smoothed over into a mask of sadness and she dropped her gaze to her hands. "You have no reason to trust me. I know how it must have looked last night. I justI have made mistakes in my life. Emmett is the first honestly good person I have ever met and I really like him. He risked a lot last night for me and II like him. It's not like I'm here to steal his money or anything" I was on a roll. "Okay, stop right there. Do you think Emmett is dumb enough to let some woman come in here and rip the rug out from under him? No. I'm worried about Emmett. He's a sweet guy and he is easily manipulated with emotions. He's the most generous person I know and what he wants to do with his money is his business but I won't sit here and let you stomp all over his heart. He deserves better than that." Alice looked at me with a curious expression before beaming at me and patting my knee. I knew she was on board with me. She didn't know who Rose was fleeing from.

She was beaten by King. Just like Edward had been. Was my hostility misplaced? Even if it is, I still had to be sure she was going to be good for Emmett. What happened to her last night has nothing to do with Edward and everything to do with Emmett. I had to remember that. She nodded her head at me solemnly and sniffled a little before picking up the clothes I had brought her and looked at me. "Really, thank you." Her tone was sincere as she stood to go into the bathroom. Once the door was shut, my shoulders sagged and I blew out a breath I didn't know I was holding. Alice and I shared a mutual look of apprehension before exiting the bedroom. Emmett jumped up off the couch and grinned at us. "Sowhat do you think?" He was too adorable. "I'm not going to lie, she's pretty Emmett, but you need to watch out. I care about you, so just be careful okay? Take things slow with her." He nodded enthusiastically and a pensive look came over his face.

Too freakin' adorable.

Waving goodbye, Alice and I left the apartment silently. I promised her that I would see her soon and that we would start on a plan to get her into the goods with Jasper. Her eyes lit up like a fucking Christmas tree and then proceeded to wander down the hallway in a daze. I snorted and walked back into the apartment to face my impending doom with Edward. Suddenly all my wonderful ideas of how I handled last night didn't seem so wonderful. Yeah, the silent treatment wasn't entirely intentional; I just didn't know what to say. But the fuckery I executed before bed was. And it was fucked up. I couldn't even recall half the shit I said to him before bed. When I closed the door I heard the faint sounds of the television humming in the living room. Edward was awake. I toed off my shoes and crept into the apartment, trying to figure out where the loudest sounds of inhabitance were coming from. To the right we have the bedroom and to the left we have the kitchen and straight ahead the living room, which was empty. When the shower spray came on, I knew where he was and I chose option two and headed for the kitchen. Breakfast was always a good way to say "Sorry for being an uberbitch last night and fucking with your head by grinding on you, almost giving you a hand job then just going to sleep." Groaning, I ran through my mental list of breakfast items. Something sweet seemed appropriate. I dug out what I needed in the fridge and began cutting things up to make a fruit salad. By the time I was adding in the peaches and grapes, I heard his bare feet padding towards me. I turned to see Edward standing beside the island wearing a pair of jeans and nothing else. His hair was damp and hung low on his head. I could smell the freshness of his shower permeate the room. "Morning." His voice was low and tentative. My heart squeezed again, knowing that he still felt like he was in trouble. "Morning. Hungry?" I tried to keep my voice light and airy. To show him that I wasn't upset; that we didn't have to fight about last night.

"Yeah, whatcha makin?" I handed him a bowl of fruit and reached into the fridge for the tub of yogurt. "Do you want yogurt with it?" He looked at the bowl in his hands and then at the yogurt on the counter before nodding. I pulled open the top and peeled back the plastic safety wrap. His bowl clinked down on the counter and I felt his heat against my back. I sucked in a breath and held perfectly still. "Bellaplease, don't be angry with me. I don't wanna fight about this." I turned and looked up at his eyes. The usual vibrancy was dulled and his eyes almost looked like slate green for a moment. I sighed and wrapped my hands around his waist. Instead of embracing me in return, his hands found purchase on the counter top behind me. I pressed my face into his bare chest and breathed in.

I am such a bitch.
"I'msorry about last night. I was confused and angry. I was angry at you but mostly at myself. I'm not used to being taken care of and I know what you didyou had a reason, a good reason. I'mI feel horrible for how I acted and I know that I have no excuse for what I did, but please understand that I just need time to get used to this." His arms circled around my shoulders and I felt his chin resting over my head. "I want to take care of you. I want to make you happy. But most of all, I have to keep you safe. If anything I do makes you uncomfortable, you gotta tell me Bella. I can't promise to never do it again, but I can promise to talk to you about it. I'm learning this, too. You mean so much to me and I'm trying not to fuck this up. And to be honest, I'm getting kinda tired of having to prove that to you but if it takes me forever, I'll keep saying it."

You are such a fucking snatch. He just keeps getting better and better and you just fuck all this shit up.
I felt the heat of my tears rolling down my face. And I fought the sniffle that was welling up in my sinuses. Edward backed away slightly and I felt his forehead touch mine. "Shit, don't cry. I'm not angry. We're okay. Bella, don't cry; I hate it when you cry."

Emotional retard. Stop fucking crying. Big baby.

I swiped away the moisture from my eyes and smiled at him. A real smile that made me feel really good after all the bullshit. He smiled back down at me and turned quickly to get the rest of the breakfast together. "Okay so how much yo-" Before I could finish my sentence, my hand reached too far and swung too hard knocking the yogurt off the counter and into the sink causing it to fly all over my neck and arms. I stood frozen in my spot and felt the blood rush to my face with a vengeance.

Hahahahaha. Klutz.
"Shit!" I looked around for a dishtowel but didn't see one. Fuck, they're in the wash right now. I felt Edward shaking next to me and I looked up to see his face composed but dancing with humor. He was trying so hard not to laugh at me. "Just let it all out" He began to chuckle but quickly started to laugh hard. I rolled my eyes and glared at him, not controlling my own smile. "Fuck you, Edward. If you were a gentleman, you would help me clean up." The humor died out of him quickly as his eyes snapped up to my face and he took a predatory step towards me.

Ummmm, shit?
It's feeling really hot in here now EPOV I woke up with a slight headache. My face was buried in Bella's pillow and I felt the empty bed before I saw that she was gone. Groaning, I pulled myself up and looked around the bright bedroom for a moment before dragging myself out of bed and into the living room. I flipped on the TV and looked for her. Figuring she ran out to the store, I got in the shower. As I yanked on the spray, I heard the door shut and wondered if she was still pissed. She was pissed last night, would she still be pissed this morning? I scrubbed the smell of smoke and sweat off my body and felt a thousand times better. After pulling on a pair of jeans, I ambled into the living room, hearing her move around in the kitchen. She had her back to me when I first saw her and I took in her appearance with amusement. She was wearing my flannel pants which were easily three times her size and a tank top. Her face looked tense when she finally turned to look at me. After a strained greeting, I decided to just dive right in and apologized, again. I didn't know what else to do. While I was reaching the edge of my rope with her on this topic, I knew I had to hold back on the aggravation one more time. There was a small voice in my head telling me that this was

too important to fuck up because of a short fuse. Once the tears came into play, I was feeling better but simultaneously irritated. Jesus, I felt like shit already, crying was making me feel even worse. When she smiled, I didn't feel as relieved as I thought I would. The tension in my body was still thrumming. I was strung tightly and I didn't know why. Things were okay now weren't they? The yogurt was splattered all over the counters, as well as her neck and shoulders. Laughing, I gripped the edge of the sink and stared at her. It was even in her hair. I looked at one milky glob that was slowly sliding down into her cleavage. The tension in my back stepped up a notch and I knew what needed releasing. "Fuck you, Edward. If you were a gentleman, you would help me clean up." I stopped laughing and looked up at her face. She was flushed and grinning with spots of yogurt all over her. I stepped closer to her trying to gauge her reaction. I would not be denied this. Her smile faltered and her eyes widened fractionally. I grinned and grabbed her waist tightly. The quick breath she sucked in had me feeling high. I dipped my head and licked the yogurt from her chest. Dragging the flat of my tongue up to her collar bones then to her neck, where I nuzzled her ear. "I'll help you clean up but I won't be a gentleman about it." She shivered in my grasp as I pushed her against the counter and lifted her up to sit there. My hands slid under the edge of her top and peeled it up, exposing her skin inch by inch. Once I got it up to her neck I slowed my movements, leaving the shirt covering her eyes and leaned in to lick up the spots of yogurt I could see. Her breathing was erratic and mine was no better. She was too fucking soft for her own good. Once I couldn't see anymore to lick, I pulled the rest of her top off and let it fall to the floor. Trying to slow down my moves, I gripped the edges of the counter again. I leaned my face down to her shoulder and breathed deeply. She smelled so warm. "I want you. Right now. Ihave to have you. Bella, I need this." "But we can'tthe doctor said-" "Fuck, I don't fucking care what he said. I want this. Right. Fucking. Now." I didn't let her argue. I kissed her hard. Her head knocked back against the cabinet but I didn't let that deter me. I pressed harder and stroked my tongue against hers, licking and biting against her softness. Running my tongue over her lower lip and finally releasing the stone edge to grasp her neck and pull her waist forward off the counter. I needed to feel her against me. I pressed my hips into the apex of her thighs and ground against her. Her moan spurred me on and I dipped down to lick at her nipples. She threaded her fingers into my hair and I reached out for the bowl of fruit I had discarded. The first piece I came into contact with I picked up and brought it to her mouth. The peach slice was slippery in my grasp. I traced her lips with the flat end and then leaned in to taste my handy work. Her mouth became insistent on mine and I groaned knowing she wasn't going to stop me. She broke the kiss with a gasp when I traced the cool fruit over her right nipple. Smiling smugly, I bent down to lick up the sticky syrup I had left there. I didn't see her move but I felt the cool drip of the yogurt on my shoulder and whipped up to look at her. She smirked at me and tightened her thighs around my hips before leaning forward and sucking it off my skin. Her fingers were coated in the white cream as she trailed them down my chest and stomach. I stepped back as she hopped off the counter and moved down my body to follow the path her fingertips made with her mouth. Her tongue was fire after the coldness of her hand and I shuddered with anticipation as her fingers nimbly unbuttoned my jeans. I felt the thick material bunch around my ankles before I kicked them off and leaned back against the island. Bella reached up and stuck her hand back in the yogurt container, coating her fingers in the substance before grasping me in her hand and smearing my length. I sucked in a deep breath as I felt her lips wrap around the tip of my cock. She slowly worked her way down licking and sucking to the base. I groaned and dropped my head back. Fuck, I needed this. Looking back down at the sight of her half naked and bobbing over my erection caused a surge of possession to shoot up my spine. I grabbed her hair and pulled her off me. She was panting and flushed as I turned us around and yanked down the flannel bottoms along with her panties. Hmmm, yellow today. Nice. There was a muted clatter and I felt a bulge in the pocket of the flannel. "Edward" "Shut up Bella." The phone I bought her slid out onto the tiled floor and I snatched it up, looking at it curiously. This meant that she had taken it with her. She had left the apartment with the phone. This would have been the first time she had done that and that means I heard her teeth click together and grinned. I ran my hands up her shins, her thighs, her hips, detoured to her arms and over her shoulders then down her chest to cup her breasts. She arched into me as I brushed my thumbs over her nipples. I nudged my thigh between her legs and pinned her against the island while reaching for the bowl of fruit again. This time I got a piece of pineapple. It was firm and slick, dripping juice over my fingers and into my palm. Bella grasped my wrist and brought it to her mouth, licking the juice that was dripping down my arm but not taking the slice. I spread her legs with my knee and dropped down to lick her belly button. She grasped the counter with one hand and fisted the other in my hair before leaning back. I yanked her left leg up and threw it over my shoulder before tracing the slice of pineapple over her already slick folds and around her swollen clit then licked up the sticky mess. She moaned and gripped my hair tighter. I reached up and slid the slice in her mouth. "Hold it, don't eat it." My voice was low and came out much harder than I had intended.

Her eyes were wide and she delicately bit down on the slice, holding it between her lips. My eyes darted back to the apex of her legs before I mashed my face into her. The taste of the pineapple and her sex was amazing. I slid two fingers into her and ran the flat of my tongue over her clit as she reached her climax. When I stood before her, I yanked her forward and gripped her thighs tightly. Her ass was balanced precariously off the edge of the granite top. I leaned in and kissed her neck before whispering. "You drive me fucking crazy, Bella. And last night will the last time I am ever denied." She moaned and I slid into her, not slowly but not quickly. I was deliberate in my movements, careful not to move too fast, not to exert myself too much. My mouth came down on hers and I bit into the fruit she was holding, the juice running in rivulets down her chin and neck before making a trail between her breasts. My hips thrust into her with timed measures. I dominated everything I could. My hands wrapped around her, holding her to me. The sounds of her breathing changed; she was close. "You know what I want, Bella. C'montell me Bella" "Shit, EdwardI'm gonnaFUCK I'm gonna come." I groaned and reached a hand down between our bodies to rub her clit. Four strokes was all it took before her body was clenching around mine. "EdwardI need to feel youplease" And because I knew what she wanted, because she wanted me, in my most primitive form, I shivered and came. I came fucking hard and gave her what she needed. This girl was driving me insane. "BellaI-" "We're okay. I'm sorry for last night. I wasI was wrong and I'm so sorry." "You took your phone with you." She looked up at me and for a moment I thought I had lost her. Her eyes were blank and her features slack but slowly her blush crept up over her and she nodded. "Thank you." "I'm sorry I'm a bitch. I don't know what else to say. Last night was so wrong and I was wrong and I'm not saying that makes you rightbut I was wrongand now I'm just rambling so" My lips tugged up on their own and I let the smile break out on my face. I felt a hundred times better. This was going to be okay. I didn't completely fuck this shit up and she admitted to being wrong, too. So technically, that means that we cancelled each other out and this whole argument can go away now. "Let's get a shower. You're sticky." "Psssh! You're sticky, too. And this all your fault." "I'm sorry? My fault? No sweetheart, I do believe you were the one who took a right hook at the yogurt." "Edward" "I'm done. Let's shower." I popped a slice of pineapple into my mouth and grinned at her. She laughed and I grabbed our clothes off the floor and chucked them in the laundry room before chasing after her. Shower sex here I come

Okay first order of business:

Sin City. Srsly this fic is fuckawesome and it has a rediculously low amount of reviews. so all of you who have read Shadowboxer and are all caught up now...go read Sin City. I cannot continue to write this fic and know that there is an injustice being done by Sin City NOT being read and reviewed. Just wrong. So yeah, go get you some sinward and panther... or i'll stop with the fightward. don't test me. So yeah, go hit up www()fanfiction()net/s/4877388/1/Sin_City She is known as Gavi on the threads and Namariel on FFN. Bizzle's got more alias' than a fuckin spy. also pather is totes mine...so watch your step...cause once she is done with that fic I'm takin Panther/Jasper home. MINE.

and hit up her shit Crosscountry. I LOVE THAT FIC. btw gavi...update that...i need me some desperate edward and model bella. list of fics im into right now that you should also be into
Sin City Crosscountry The Vampire in the Basement Stay

and tons more i cant even think of now. but my inbox creams itself when i get those updates. yeah.
Second Order of Business: I will not be here this weekend (my father is wedding for the fourth time.). I will continue to write on chapter 12. No worries. I'm afraid that I have been knocked off of Friday posting and the chapters are going to get kinda long from this point on. So gimme some time. I cannot believe we are at the halfway marker for SB...so yay! I had some trouble with the progression of this chapter. I re-wrote this bitch at least four times. So amazing thanks to Cheddah, my beta, who is all about telling me that my shit sucks when it does. You can't PAY for that kind of honesty. So yeah. Thank her for the awesomeness... without her this chapter would have sucked asshole and i would have no hair left. Cheddah, you are my grammar rock. now i know everyone has tons of questions about the dream sequence that happened in the beginning...yeah, you gonna have to wait for an explanation on that one. totes sorry for that. but not really. just let it happen. k? if you wanna, go hit up the thread we got running at Twilighted. It's in the AU section of the boards. I love my girls out there, you guys totally rocked my socks off when i had a shitty angsty day and was hating this fucking chapter for its horribleness. All those beautiful girls are the reason this chapter came out at 3am one morning. so thank you guys for everything...especially the hot naked man pics. shudders. Third order of business... Leave Me Some Love...

*Chapter 12*: The Horse and His Carrot

Quick AN: a DIVING BLOCK/PLATFORM is a square platform that competitive swimmers dive from in races. They have handle bars beneath them (that look like a bike's handle bars) for swim competitions featuring backstroke to start off.

A DIVING BOARD is that long board that is springy and such and you have to climb steps to get on just like the ones you see at public pools and
such. Just so there's no confusion later on.

This chapter ended up being over 15,000 words. Crazyness I know. So enjoy the longest chapter I have written yet simply because I'm too stubborn to split it into two and fuck up my outline. Took me long enough right? enjoi "Extraordinary Machine"
I certainly haven't been shopping for any new shoes -AndI certainly haven't been spreading myself around I still only travel by foot and by foot, it's a slow climb, But I'm good at being uncomfortable, so I can't stop changing all the time I notice that my opponent is always on the go -AndWon't go slow, so's not to focus, and I notice He'll hitch a ride with any guide, as long as They go fast from whence he came - But he's no good at being uncomfortable, so He can't stop staying exactly the same If there was a better way to go then it would find me I can't help it, the road just rolls out behind me Be kind to me, or treat me mean I'll make the most of it, I'm an extraordinary machine

I seem to you to seek a new disaster every day You deem me due to clean my view and be at peace and lay I mean to prove I mean to move in my own way, and say, I've been getting along for long before you came into the play
I am the baby of the family, it happens, so

- Everybody cares and wears the sheeps' clothes While they chaperon
Curious, you looking down your nose at me, while you appease - Courteous, to try and help - but let me set your Mind at ease (Chorus) -Do I so worry you, you need to hurry to my side? -It's very kind But it's to no avail; I don't want the bail I promise you, everything will be just fine If there was a better way to go then it would find me I can't help it, the road just rolls out behind me Be kind to me, or treat me mean I'll make the most of it, I'm an extraordinary machine

I started my workout this morning at six. It was now ten and I was beginning to feel the effects of Bella's food and the blatant disregard I have for my weight. It was currently Friday and my last training day of the week. Thank God. Emmett started me out with stretches and a two mile walk, then a five mile run, and now I'm onto weights. I began to let my mind wander as he

motioned for me to sit on the press bench; we were starting with curls. Personally, things are going great. Doctor Holdman let up on the whole 'no exerting physical activities' thing and I was cleared to start back at training. Bella and I celebrated by christening the couch...and then the hallway floor. My right knee was still smarting for that one. Things with Bella were beginning to level out. We were slipping back into a good routine. Since the morning that I found the cell phone in her pocket, I noticed she had been carrying it with her. Of course, I felt relieved that I had a way to contact her in case anything happened but more than that, I was thrilled she was accepting my offer. It showed that I was making some headway with her and we were compromising. Realizing this, I was elated. And slowly but surely, she began to wear the clothes she purchased with Alice. I felt good knowing that I could provide those things for her but I wasn't completely at ease yet. Bella had been losing sleep lately. She would wake up in the middle of the night gasping and while I wanted desperately to hold her and tell her everything was okay - that she was safe, I couldn't. I feigned sleep and listened to her in the bathroom as she took control of her emotions. If she wasn't ready to share with me then I had to be patient; it wasn't as if I was an open book when it came to my problems. I knew that someday I would have to talk to her about my past but for right now, I was mollified to just sit back and enjoy what we have going. I gripped onto the handles of the weight bar tighter and finished my set of curls. Professionally, things were not going so well or at least not exactly as I had planned. Jasper was reluctant to let me back at sparring so soon. I was going through weight training first, then onto reflexes before I would be allowed any contact skill building. I thought it was ridiculous but I wasn't about to doubt Jasper or his instincts when it came to these things. I was having issues with my heart rate and my breathing and that was causing some concern. It's been a week since I started back at training and I've made great improvement with my physically but I've been feeling rather aggressive since I don't have an outlet. Jasper and Emmett are starting to see this. Since the running and drills were getting a little too intense, Emmett suggested that I start pool training. I was not thrilled about it. While I have no problem with water itself, I have always thought that the pool training was a waste of time. The resistance it provides is excellent but speed was never my problem. All in all, I'm feeling extremely irritated with the whole business. Working me until I'm dead tired won't get rid of the rage quite as well as letting me loose in the ring. I looked up at Emmett as he signaled me to get changed for the pool drills.

I fucking hate this shit.

After slinging on my swimming trunks, I stomped into the pool room. It was a large offset annex on the other side of the gym. It was rarely used after Emmett declared it off limits due to all the accidents that seemed to occur. That and he was too cheap to employ a life guard. The room smelled powerfully of chlorine and stung my nose as I inhaled the humid air. Jasper was rolling in the lane ropes and Emmett was fiddling with a boom box on the other side of the pool. I looked around at the baby blue walls and then up at the ceiling to see the sky light boxes. They were dirty with mildew and leaves that had caught and clung to the thick panes; there was minimal lighting coming from them. I draped my towel over the metal bars on the diving board and crossed my arms over my chest. It was petulant but hell if I cared at this point. Jasper came over and gestured toward the shallow water with a sweeping motion of his hand. "We're starting you off easy for the first few laps. Just walk as you normally would from this five foot marker to the one across and back again. Ten laps." Groaning, I crouched down and braced the edge of the pool's cement lip before throwing my legs into the water. It was thankfully lukewarm. I trudged across to the other end and tapped the tile with the five ft mark on it, repeating the trail twenty times to make up my ten laps. "Now, sprint. Twenty laps." Gritting my teeth, I complied. It was much harder and I felt the water pushing against my chest with every step. "Get in the deep end. Ten laps. All arms, no legs." My head was starting to pound, I was so pissed off. When I was done I looked up at Jasper with an irritated glare and he smirked at me. "Okay, bring her out." Emmett hopped off the bleachers and jogged to the doors that lead back to the gym. My eyebrows pulled together as I heard the squeak of the double doors opening. Bella stepped inside with a beach towel wrapped around her frame and her hair pulled up into a ponytail. My lips parted as I saw her toe off her sneakers and drop the towel from her body. She had on a dark green one piece bathing suit. Her eyes were trained on the ground in front of her, and I watched the blush start in her cheeks and spread up to her forehead and down to her chest. Emmett shuffled over in the corner and punched a few buttons on the boom box and music reverberated across the large room. I grinned when I saw her eyes snap over to Emmett and watched him shrug. Queen's Flash came over the waves and I outright laughed. Only Emmett would play Queen for this. "Bella, I need you to sit at lane five's dive platform."

I looked over at Jasper with questioning eyes. She wasn't getting in? Bella did as she was told and sat on the dive block with her legs dangling over the edge. "So, here's the deal. You have another five sets. The faster you get them done, the sooner you're done for the day. First set is free style; the second set is backstroke, the third is breast stroke, the fourth butterfly. The fifth set iswell I'll let you know when you get to it." For some reason, Bella's presence did nothing to make me feel better. Instead, I was pissed off that she was here. Not at her, at her presence. She wasn't undermining my concentration really, but Jasper was a cruel man to do this to me. Every time my head came up for water I caught a glimpse of her legs or her torso. I would breathe in the oxygen my body was desperately begging for as my eyes greedily took in her pale skin. I went through the laps until my body was sore and I was aching. I'm more out of shape than I'd thought. My lungs burned and my eyes were stinging from the water, despite the goggles that I was wearing. My arms felt like wet noodles and my legs felt like hard iron, whereas my head felt like it was compressed into a tiny ball. Both my arms rotated around to touch the wall of the pool and I was finally done. Jasper was crouched down at the corner of the pool where I was tossing my goggles off. "Bella, move to lane ten's dive board. Alright, Edward, let's see how this works out for you. This is your last set. You're going to start with lunges until you hit the deeper water, then your going to use only your arms to pull you to the edge. Once you get there, you tap the edge and move over to lane two. Treading with your arms only back to the shallow end where you'll go back to the lunges till you tap the edge. You're going to repeat this till you get to lane ten. Got it? The sooner you get it done, the sooner you get to Bella and the sooner you're done with today's workout."

Well hot damn.

I pushed my body hard and let the sounds of the music filter into my head. As soon as I hit lane five, I was breathing heavily; at lane seven I was getting pissed off about it. Finally, I hit the deep end of lane ten and pushed myself with everything I had. Once I made it to Bella, I grabbed her legs and yanked her in the water. I heard her yelp before we were both pulled under the water. Instinctively, I gripped her around her ribs and pulled her up for air. She gasped and then started to push me away. I laughed and held her closer, my left hand coming up to grip the handle under the diving block and holding us both above the water's edge. Her arms wrapped around my shoulders and I briefly saw Emmett grabbing the boom box and heading out the door. Jasper had already left. "Hello." My voice was low as I squeezed her against me. She felt delicious. "Hi." Her face flushed again and I chuckled. "So which one of them conned you into this?" "Conned? Psh, I wanted to come. Emmett called, he said you were being difficult."

Difficult? Is that what he's calling it?

"Difficult is one way to put it. I hate the fucking routines they've got me doing. Jasper won't let me back in the ring for sparring." "I think you should be nice. They just want to help you." I grumbled and let go of the bar above us. "Get on my back." She scrambled onto me, her arms wrapping around my neck once more and her legs hooking around my waist. I could feel the heat of her through the bathing suit and it made my stomach clench in anticipation. Once we were in shallow water, she let go of me and pushed herself away. I looked over my shoulder at her; she was smiling sweetly and floating on her back. Dozens of thoughts pushed themselves into my mind, all of which had to do with how I was going to get that bathing suit off her. "Come here, Bella." "No." "BellaI've just had a very hard day, and I want you to come here." "No." I inched closer to her and she deftly moved away like a magnet pushing at a matching end. The irritation I felt now was all at her. "Bella" My voice was low and I almost flinched from the annoyance in it. She noticed and she grinned. I felt the tension rise in my back. "You'll have to catch me first." Before I could answer her, she turned and dove under the water. I watched as her warped form swam under the surface of the ripples and reached the edge of the pool at the deep end. The fact that I was going to have to swim back out there actually made me angry. I pushed off the floor and made my way to the spot where she was waiting. Except she was gone. I looked around the pool to find it empty. Then I felt the water dripping over my head. I looked up to see her standing on the diving board. "Bella, are you sure that's a good idea?" My original anger had been replaced with a little anxiety.

She just narrowed her eyes at me and lowered herself to sit on the edge of the long plank. "Bella that thing is really springy, be careful." I smirked at her and she retaliated by pulling down the strap on her right shoulder. I gaped at her and she raised an eyebrow at me. I pulled myself out of the pool and stalked over to the edge of the diving board. I took the steps slowly, careful not the bounce the board or cause her to fall. Once I reached her, she held up her hand and I slowly pulled her up to stand with me. I pulled down the other strap and spun her so that she was facing the pool and I had my back to it. Falling to my knees on the rough surface, I pulled her suit down to her ankles.

Yeah, right knee is definitely still sore but this is so worth it.
"Lift up your left leg and put it on the bar." I heard her sharply take in a breath as she complied. My eyes sought hers out. I knew that we were in a public place, she could be seen at any second, I wanted to know if she was okay with this. I was sure as shit turned on. "It's cold." Her eyes were apologetic and hooded. She was just as turned on as I was. "Let me fix that." With her leg hitched up, I had a glorious view of...Bella. I stroked her slit with my index finger softly and watched as the tip glistened with her wetness. I parted her gently and brought my fingers up to circle her clit. Her knee shook, which was my cue to brace her. My left arm slipped around her waist and I kissed her stomach before dipping down to lick her clit. Her musky scent was infused with the smell of the chlorine and it reminded of where we were. She moaned and gripped my hair to steady herself. When I was younger and in college, I had never really enjoyed doing this. It wasn't so bad, but it wasn't something I wanted to do. The sounds that Bella made when I did this had me coming back for more. To be able to wind her up like this and then watch her fall even before I was inside her was thrilling. I wouldn't lie and say I did it because I enjoyed the act itself. I enjoyed knowing that I had that control over her body; I had the power to make her come with my mouth. I could feel her getting closer; her hips were quivering and her grunts coming faster. I slipped two fingers inside her slowly and began to thrust them. She bucked and threw her head back. My eyes were lifted to see her breasts flushed and her chin jutting out as she neared her release. When her head dropped back down, I looked into her eyes and I curled my fingers and sucked her clit into my mouth, barely touching my teethe against it. She sucked in a breath and her eyes slammed shut as she came on my hand. I yanked my towel down from the bar and pulled Bella against my chest before laying it down on the green board. I spun her around so that her back faced me and reached up to fondle her breasts. "Get down on all fours." My voice was low and rough. She shuddered and complied, slowly lowering herself down to the towel. I was frozen for a moment just watching her as she waited for my next move. She was so compliant and willing; the exhilaration of dominating her, taking her, owning herpossessing her rose up in me. I would never let anyone else have this. Never. Her ass was propped up and her back dipped down in a sinful curve. I knelt down behind her and tapped the inside of her thighs. She spread her knees farther apart and I groaned. I smoothed my hands over her ass cheeks before gliding them up her back and over her shoulders. When I reached her neck, I slid my right hand into her hair and gripped her gently. She moaned and arched back, the action making my dick twitch. With my left hand I guided myself to her entrance and quickly pushed into her. And at once all the frustration inside me cracked and I gripped her hair tighter, while my left hand steadied her hips. My head fell back as I thrust into her as hard as I could. She felt different in this position; tighter, snug. With each push into her heat, my balls slapping loudly and my hips hitting her ass, I got closer to releasing the tension and frustration. Her moans and grunts egged me on and I needed the control back. I needed to make this about us, not just me. My fingers moved out of her hair and grabbed her shoulder as the hand on her hip slid forward to find her clit. My hips were moving too fast and I tried to slow down to make the journey easier but the loss of friction was so much I couldn't bare it. Bella's hand came up to circle my wrist as she moved my fingers to her center, and I moaned knowing that she wanted it too. Every jerk of my hips caused my fingers to slide over her slick clit and she bucked her hips into mine. "EdwardEdwOh, God, I'mEdward please" The begging got me every fucking time. I felt my balls tightening and my stomach clenching. Fuck, I was going to come. "Bella, come baby. God, I'm so close, you have to come." I could feel the head of my dick throbbing as I tried to hold it in. She was panting, her head dropped down and her wet hair falling out of the tie it was in. My eyes were trained to the point where we were joined. I watched myself sliding in and out of her, her wetness coating my cock. I clamped my eyes closed and willed myself to hold on; she was close, I could feel her legs shaking and her back stiffening. She was almost there and I had to hold out for just a few more moments. I could do this. Without thinking, my eyes opened of their own accord and I looked down to see her round ass red where my hip bones were slamming into it and I released her shoulder, bringing my right hand down over her left cheek. She yelped and moaned. I could feel her tensing even more. I was so

fucking close to coming at that point I almost didn't care if she came or not. The sight of my handprint on her ass cheek was enough to do me in. "Please, Edwarddo it again." And at that moment, I couldn't have loved this girl more if someone paid me to. I raised my hand and slapped her right ass cheek hard. She gasped, moaning as her pussy clamped down around me and I finally let go. I grunted and pumped until I was spent. We stayed there for a moment, regaining our bearings and calming our breathing. She looked over her shoulder at me and smiled. I let out a breath and laughed before pulling out of her. She stood up and I grabbed the towel wrapping it around my waist. She quirked an eyebrow and I shrugged. "You look better naked than I do." Suddenly, I heard the sound of the doors screeching open again. Quickly grabbing Bella, I made to shield her but she was already trying to cover herself and we both went splashing into the water. My eyes shut on the impact of the water but quickly snapped open looking for her. She was right beside me, her hair flowing wildly around her face and her eyes screwed shut. I reached forward and grabbed her arm, hauling her toward me and pulling us both up to the surface. I kept her chest against mine and wiped the water in my eyes before looking to see who the fuck had come in here. Emmett's loud laughter reverberated across the room. I rolled my eyes and clutched Bella closer to me. She squeaked and wrapped her arms around my torso as I pulled us over to the edge so that I could hold onto it while keeping her against me. "What the fuck Emmett?" "Sorry, Jasper sent me in to get you. I'm not to leave without you." "Well you can leave for a moment to let Bella get dressed." "No can do, buddy." Bella stiffened in my arms and I glared angrily at Emmett's smirking face.

"Turn around then." He scoffed at me and crossed his arms over his chest. "I'm not fucking playing around, Emmett. Turn the fuck around so she can get out and get her towel." Emmett huffed and rolled his eyes before turning around and facing the door. I swung Bella up and helped her out of the pool before following her. My own towel was at the bottom of the deep end now and I had no interest in getting it back. I snagged my shorts and pulled them on as Bella quickly ran to her towel on the bleachers and had it secured around her body just as Emmett turned back around. "C'mon you guys, Jaspers just in the other room." I grit my teeth and wrapped my arm around Bella's waist, shooting her a look that screamed how sorry I was. She shrugged but I saw how red her face was. Jasper's blonde head looked up from a stack of sheets he had on a clip board as we entered the small side office across the hall from the pool annex. "I see you got a warm down." I rolled my eyes and Bella turned her face into my chest. Jasper's moods with Bella were putting him on my shit list. One minute she was his favorite person, then the next he treated her like the enemy. My eyes narrowed in on him and he shrugged his shoulders before looking back down at his papers. "We start sparring next Monday. I have three guys lined up for practice. You will start out slow though. I want you to take this and follow it." He handed me a meal plan. I skimmed and nodded. Nothing new. Bella took a peek at it and a pensive look came over her face. "Do you approve?" I teased. She looked up at me with those brown eyes that glimmered some and my teasing stopped. I wasn't sure what it was about this girl that turned me into a giant shield but I wanted nothing more than to gather her up in my arms and hold her. Some kind of pull inside me kept raging that I keep her safe. The need to wrap her up in warm, fuzzy blankets and feed her hot chocolate in front of a roaring fire was utterly ridiculous.

Like that cat from Shrek. Mmmm Pussy in boots

She blinked and turned shyly into my chest again. My eyebrows furrowed and I hugged her to me. She seemed uncomfortable now. It had to be because of Emmett walking in on us. Jasper cleared his throat and I looked back over to see his steel blue eyes regarding me. "As I was saying, you need to follow that. We'll be scaling you in every morning. Starting Monday, along with sparring, you will be increasing your running and we'll be bringing out the punching bags. So be in the mindset for that. Also, you will need to be here at 5:30, training will run until 3. Any questions?" He was increasing my workout times. I had never had to go for ten hours before, never. I wasn't in the mood to ask why. Bella was clearly in a bad situation and I wanted to get her home and the both of us cleaned up. "None. See you bright and early Monday morning." I grinned at him, but it was forced and I think he knew that. My arms were around Bella's shoulders as I practically carried her out of the small office. Just before the door swung closed, I heard Emmett laughing. "Bella! By the way! Nice hand prints!" I desperately wanted to go back in there and ram his head into something sharprepeatedly. But getting her far away from him was the best option. When I looked down, she had her face mashed into my shoulder and I could see that her forehead was a healthy shade of crimson. Chuckling, I released her for a moment to grab her swim suit and both our bags. Once we were set to go, I grabbed her hand and pulled her out the side exit to the parking lot. I looked around for her truck for a brief moment before turning to look at her with question. "Alice dropped me off." Nodding, I led her over to the Volvo and deposited her in the passenger seat before sliding in and racing home. Something about us both needing to shower had me all excited.

I wonder why. September 13 BPOV

The dreaded day of horror is upon me. Like the once a month vile thing that happens to all women, this once a year event has fallen on today's datemy birthday. Cherubs cowered and animals scurried into the safety of thicker woods on this day. My spine tingled in anticipation of what shiteousness was to come my way on this fateful, plaguing date. This day, that almost always held some sort of evil power over me. Today I was twenty-two.

Yay for me! We have the first aide kit ready right?
September thirteenth has always held awful connotations for me, but not for the reasons that one might think. Oh no, I am all about getting presents and eating cake. It's just that since I was five, something horrible always seems to happen on this day. My birthday was like a once a year episode of Final Destination, whether it was my life or my pride Death was seeking, I never knew. I reclined back on the couch and looked at the television, not really comprehending the images or the sounds, but just looking at the scenes on the glossy flat screen is if they held the keys to my existence in them. I let my mind wander to the hell of birthday pasts; the real reasons why I hated this day with a fiery passion. It all started on my fifth birthday when the clown threw up on my cake. It started there because that was the first one I can remember having at all. It was memorable, that's for sure. Thinking back on it now, the clown was probably drunk. At the time it was horrible but now that I think of it, I understand. I would have been sauced too if I had to dress up like that and fall around a bunch of kids and twist up balloons. On my seventh birthday, I was visiting Charlie. He took me fishing. It was fun...until I got finned in the hand and the boat capsized. And it was funny, up until the moment I could feel the bottom of the lake wrapping around my legs. Freaky water plants trying to drown me on my birthday left me with some issues about being in Mother Nature's swimming pool. On my tenth birthday, Renee got me a bike. It had training wheels. I broke my arm after twenty minutes. For my twelfth birthday, my first boyfriend broke up with me. He started dating my best friend, Amanda. My mother bought me a push up bra and had me open it in front of everyone. Seventh grade sucked hard. When I turned sixteen, Renee thought it would be a huge deal.

Sweet sixteen my ass.

She dressed me up in this awful pink dress and sent me to school in it. It was nice but didn't really belong on a sixteen year old; it was far too short and showed off my lack of breasts. I was complemented on it all day long. Whether people were sincere or just being sarcastic, I couldn't care less; I wanted the day to be over. When gym was over and it was time to change back into our regular clothes, I yanked the dress on as quickly as I could.

I made it all the way down the hall to the cafeteria before I noticed the laughing was directed at me. I figured it was just the dress. Yeah, the dress that had failed to make it all the way down over my rear. Everyone at school now knew that I preferred the teenage mutant ninja turtles to regular underwear. When I turned eighteen, my friend Sara thought I should start smoking. I wanted to try it because it seemed like fun and she swore it would relax me and take the edge off. So, I got completely drunk and smoked an entire pack of cigarettes. I spent the rest of the night vomiting. In the morning my throat was so sore from the retching and smoking and my head hurt so bad I couldn't go to school.

Thanks Sara.
For my twentieth birthday Philwell, Phil bought me some rather inappropriate attire. Needless to say, it was an awkward ordeal. One that my mother to this day knows nothing about and I shudder when I think of what that small gray box had contained. And the small but still horrifying events in between those birthdays ranged from food poisoning, chicken pox, breaking my ankle, and all around asshattery that seemed to stem from the celebration of my birth. So while I have nothing against getting gifts and celebrating getting older, it's the connotation that I have for this event. And the fact that this would be the first birthday not shared with my family. Renee wasn't here to be silly and frivolous about cakes and balloons. She wouldn't be here to hug me and tell me no matter what, I was still her little baby. Charlie wasn't here to charm me into fishing or watching a baseball game. Neither would be around with 911 on speed dial, subsequently waiting for my demise at the hands of candles and balloon strings. No one would be rushing me to the hospital as birthday doom loomed over me. It was strange to finally feel as if I were living in this grown up world. I was relieved but also sad to know that I was at this point in my life and that I would have to call for the ambulance myself. For the first time in almost a year, I wondered what Renee was doing. I wondered if she was thinking about today as my birthday or if she had forgotten. If it weren't for the reminder on the calendar she would most likely forget. I know my mother loves me but she was never one for remembering dates. I thought back on the reasons that I left. Would Charlie remember? Would he wonder where to send the card? Or had he already forgotten as well with Sue in the picture? My thoughts lingered on my memories of my parents, and I was a little worried at how I couldn't quite recall their faces. I seemed to be stuck in old photos that I had memorized of them and with that sad recollection, I realized that I had no photos to look at. I had no mementos of my childhood. I had the clothes on my back and the contents of my purse when I left Renee. And not being sentimental enough to carry photos around in my wallet, I was left with just my memories.

Depressing, indeed.
The one tradition that held strong all my birthdays was the candle. There was always just one candle. Renee always said it was because my first birthday was the moment she realized how monumentally important I was to her. I felt a little put out that it took her a whole year to realize that. But it was Renee, and I suppose I should feel happy that she realized it at all. So the one candle became a tradition for me and no matter what my cake looked like or how old I was, there was always one lone flame in the middle. It was always yellow and it was always the one that had a swirly stem. Renee would always stand behind me when it came time to blow it out and say something along the lines of "Make a wish and blow it out honey, or you'll have bad luck all year 'round." Always so superstitious of bad luck, she claimed that blowing out the fire would ensure happiness and good luck. In my later years, I internally scoffed as I blew out the candle with Phil standing right next to me.

Ramming that lit candle in his face would have got me farther.
With a new found sense of determination, I pulled myself off the couch and crept into the kitchen. I was, after all, done with all that bullshit and moving on with my life. My life with Edward. Who was still with Jasper and Emmett, doing God knows what at the ungodly hour. Who the fuck goes over training schedules at 9 o' clock at night? Jasper was really starting to piss me off. He had better be fucking training. Scowling, I thought about all the things he could be doing besides 'working out'. Bastard better be at the gym and not having a happy hour.

We trust Edward. Edward is amazing. Mantra time. Ohmmmm, Edward gives you happy thoughts and orgasms. Ohmmmm, Edward and his enormous cock are our friends. Ohmmmm, Edward has pretty hair and muscle-y arms and a nice ass and he's tall and takes care of you. Ohmmmm, Edward would kick Phil's dirty
You're done now. I shook my head at my own stupid diatribe and began opening cabinets and looking for ingredients, quickly coming to the conclusion that I did not have what it took to make a cake. Taking the easy way out, I snagged the box of brownie mix that I hid in the pantry, preheated the oven, and pulled out the eggs and vegetable oil, resolving myself to make birthday brownies. After mixing the batter and pouring the concoction into a brand spankin' new baking dish, courtesy of Edward 'my big cock caretaker' as my internal monologue liked to call him. Not gonna lie, I haven't seen many dicks in my timemaybe five or so, but Edward has the market cornered on girthand lengthand hardnessand how long did those brownies have to be in the oven?

Longschlongward. You know its true.

A burst of hysteria escaped my lips and I knew I must look insane standing in front of the oven with wild eyes, cackling like a hyena.

Sometimes Prozac seems like a good idea.

When the buzzer sounded, I reached for a dish towel and pulled my chocolate goodness from the rack and set it to cool. I fished around in the drawers for the small box of candles that I had seen. Edward, for some reason had a drawer in the kitchen designated for batteries, post its, pens, and clothes pins, as well as an assortment of odd items that one would never need in a kitchen. I left the drawer with its odd miscellaneous items because it was such an Edward thing to do. It showed that side of his character that I couldn't help but love. I yanked the next drawer open with the spirit of a pirate at a treasure chest and dug for the small white box of waxy sticks. Once I had them, I noticed they were small straight stems of blue candles; much thinner than my traditional yellow ones but much longer. Grinning, I opened the box and plucked one out to go on my brownie. It would stand tall and lean over my brownie, strongly defying the memory of my yellow candle, it's spectral opposite. The irony was not lost on me. Finding something to make fire would be harder. After pillaging the living room, the bedroom and finally Edward's office, I discovered a small book of matches in the bathroom. Why in the bathroom, I have no clue other thanit's Edward. With unnecessary care, I cut out a small square of brownie (with a butter knife, no need to tempt fate) and plunked it down on a tiny plate. I placed the candle off center, at the top right corner. My life was no longer centered anyway. Honestly, lack of family aside, this was quite possibly the best birthday ever. A little depressing sure, but I wasn't embarrassed, confused, or angry. I didn't get any broken bones and there weren't people hovering around me. It was perfect. If only I had Edward here so that we could have some brownie sexbut there's still the rest of the pan and he'd be home later.

Don't forget the ice cream in the freezer. Nothing goes better with a warm brownie than some vanilla ice creamall over his chestand that long schlong he's got.
Another giggle escaped from my lips and I shook my head to clear myself before carefully lighting the match and then my candle. With my luck at birthday's, I had a good chance of lighting my hair on fire. I watched it for a few moments as the blue wax dripped down the straight stem and pursed my lips with resignation. It was too horribly hopeful of me to wish that Edward would be here right now. It was too mean of me to wish for him to walk in at this exact moment to see me blow out this candle because of the conflicting emotions racing in me. One, I never told him it was my birthday and it was bitchy to assume that he would just know. Two, the guilt he would feel over not getting me a gift was shitty. The fact that I didn't really want a gift was another reason and my crazy bi-polarness wouldn't leave me alone to realize that while I didn't want a gift, I still wanted a gift. Rolling my eyes, I surveyed how much wax I had left until my brownie would ignite itself with clinical severity. Gritting my teeth, I shut my eyes tightly and blew out the flame.

I wish that Edward and I get our happy ending. I wish that I had the strength to be honest with him.
My eyes popped open and I looked down at the candle with only centimeters to go before it touched the confection it was planted in. The smoke rose in steady rivulets up towards my face and I inhaled the scent of burnt, cheap wax and wick. I watched the waves of smoke as they filtered up and dissipated. I had always thought that it was a rather pretty thing to watch, even as a child it fascinated me. I would wait each time for the smoke to stop billowing before pulling out the candle. The scent was familiar and different than the smell of a regular candle. It was distinct in my mind as 'birthday candle smell'. It sent a moment of nostalgia through me when I took a big whiff. Twenty two years of blown out candles.

Fucking sentimental over a specific smoke smell. Uh huh. Hey! Can I get a refill on my Prozac script over here? Thanks.
I pulled the small stub of wax from its corner spot on the brownie and laid it down on the counter to cool before tossing it in the trash. My fingers trembled as they picked up the square of brown birthday symbolism and taking a healthy bite, my eyes slipped shut and I tilted my chin up to savor the moment. It was still warm and soft, not quite cooked all the way. Essentially, it was a perfect brownie. I scarfed the rest down and took a chug of milk straight from the carton before cleaning up my birthday mess. I rinsed my mixing bowl and stuck in the wash and left the brownies to cool. Edward would never know anything was different. I baked things all the time. My eye caught the blue stub of wax and I picked up, thinking briefly about keeping it as a memento or not, before my foot stomped down on the pedal and the trash can lid flew up. I tossed it in the trash thinking of how foolish I was becoming with silly things like candles. My mind switched over into its kitchen OCDness as I thought about how I would need to take the trash out tomorrow since it was getting full. Sighing, I surveyed the kitchen and was happy to see there was no evidence whatsoever lingering about. Returning to the couch, I picked up my TV Guide and found a re-run of Gilligan's Island to help me relax. My mind flickered to Edward and I wondered what he must have been doing right at that second. I could see him lounging in Emmett's office with Jasper. All three of them laughing over something stupid or concentrating on formulating another routine or schedule. They could have been talking strategy or how Edward was progressing with his training. I smiled to myself thinking about how concentrated Edward always looked when he was working out and listening to Jasper's low voiced comments and encouragements. He was always so fierce when it came to improving himself. My mind wandered to Emmett calling me and asking me to come up to The Ring with a bathing suit on and a towel. He had said that Edward was being difficult and that I was the only person who could help him. I laughed, realizing the moment he mentioned a pool what exactly my role was going to be and I couldn't deny that it had sent a thrill up my spine knowing what was going to happen. My cheeks flushed thinking about our time on the diving board. My palms were still a little rough from the abrasive lining but it was well worth it. I had never been taken in that position before and it was amazing.

Sooner than I expected my eyes were drooping and I was nearly dead to the world. Before I could no longer hear Ginger's voice, I wondered

Where are you Edward? EPOV

Jasper was going to pay maliciously for this assfuckery. Calling me out to the fucking Ring at seven o' clock at night to go over charts was just being plain assholish. He knew I wanted to be home with Bella tonight. He knew the moment I mentioned how she was feeling off this morning that I was concerned for her. She had a particularly rough nightmare the night before and I was getting sick over not knowing what the fuck was wrong with her. For the first time since we had been sleeping together, she had mumbled in her unconscious. She only uttered three words but they were enough to make my blood run cold. 'Edwardsave me.' Her voice was sleep ravaged but she was clear as a bell and I felt the familiar tug at my chest when I heard her. So brave when she was awake and so fucking vulnerable in her sleep. Why was she dreaming of me? What was I supposed to save her from? Why couldn't she just tell me what was scaring her? My mind ran rampant with scenarios of what could have happened to her that caused her to leave her family at such a young age. Was I so different though? I left for stupid reasons but at the time they had meant everything. My pride was all I had when I walked out of my parents' house and uttered those fate sealing words. "Fuck you both." I muttered under my breath with a tinge of ironic regret. I was so fucking green then. I pressed the gas peddle down harder as my eyes glanced at the clock again. Ten thirty-five. I grit my teeth and thought of all the ways I would fuck Jasper's world up the next time I saw him. He had lured me into his office with promises of only a ten minute chat that subsequently lasted a few hours. I nodded and grunted my understanding when he spieled on about the importance of my diet as he carefully dropped jabs at Bella's cooking and her lack of care for my training progress. So I snapped back, not so subtly, about how she had taken his stupid fucking meal plan and stuck to it faithfully. I was at the end my patience meter when it came to Jasper and his 'hot and cold' routine. He praised Bella as a person and tore her down as my girlfriend. I didn't need to be a fucking psychologist to know where this was all coming from. But Bella was no Maria, and I wasn't going to make his mistake. I knew how I felt about Bella. Uttering those three deadly words was my only defect when it came to my certainty on our relationship. It wasn't like I didn't feel love for her. I did, in massive quantities but saying it out loud was getting harder with every day that I didn't and every moment when I wanted to, when the timing seemed perfect, the words seemed stuck in my throat, refusing to come out. And every time I saw her face fall, just a little, knowing that I was not going to tell her, it crushed me.

Three fucking words and you can't do it. This is the only thing that makes you a man. The fear of commitment.
And it wasn't even commitment. I was committed to Bella. She had me, heart and soul. It was the thought of making the love real and then stealing it away from her that I feared. In a month and half I had the distinct possibility of going into a ring with a sociopath and not coming out again. How could I lay that on her? 'I love you, Bella, now I'm going to get in that ring and I might diebut I love you.' Oh, yeah, that's rich. No pressure or anything. At least by omitting those words I can provide her an out to this situation. I would show her I loved her and never give her the concrete evidence that she needed. So that if I didn't come back to her one day, she was free to write it off as a meaningless relationship. Jasper's issues paled in comparison my mine. I knew that my reasoning was weak at best, but it was the only thing keeping me from walking into Emmett's office and telling him I wasn't coming back. It was the only thing keeping me from really thinking about going back to school and entertaining a real job, a real life, and real security. I wasn't poor by any means. I worked hard, pushing my body to the limits for every dollar that I made and I didn't live a careless life. I saved, by God did I save. But those three words, said out loudthose three words that would make her face glow and her smile blinding were the three words that would steal the sanity right out from under me. I couldn't do it. I was a coward and a selfish fucking asshole for it. She deserved better but could I let her go?

Fuck no.
I would rather die in the ring than let her go. And that is exactly what I was planning on doing. Going until I died. Reasonably, I knew at some point she would confront me about the situation. Okay, so I knew that she wouldn't, she loved me that much. And if it were the other way around, I wouldn't push the topic either. I played her insecurity against her on this subject which only made me more of a fucking douchebag. She wouldn't push me, or weasel a confession of love from me because she knew. She knew I fucking loved her and she knew I would give my left nut for her in a heartbeat. Fuck, she practically carried my balls in her back pocket as it is.

We know. You clearly act as if you are testicle-less.

Finally, I pulled into the only vacant spot in front of the apartment and sprinted up the steps to her. Because that was really where I was going; not home, not to my bed...I was going to her. And it was the most thrilling thing to know that no matter where we were, she would be there. It was that warm fuzzy truth that had conquered the anger inside me. Taking the steps two at a time I finally made it to the door and slowed down, making sure to be as quiet as possible in case she was already asleep. Once inside I heard the faint sounds of 'I Dream of Jennie' coming from the living room. I crept towards the couch slowly and smiled at her

peaceful face. She was sleeping soundly for once and I had no intention of waking her. The throw blanket lay on the floor next to her and her arms were tossed above her head like a child. Her lips parted slightly as she breathed evenly and her lashes fluttered gently against her cheeks. I grinned and watched her for a moment before my stomach growled. I frowned and backed away into the kitchen. As soon as I stepped close to the counter I smelled the chocolate and zeroed in on the brownies left on the stove. It seemed rather odd that she would have made them considering I couldn't have anything sweet. But to rationalize the thought, Bella loved to bake and it wasn't so unreasonable that she would make them. I shrugged to myself and opened the fridge, snagging a protein shake that kinda tasted like strawberries and popped the top. Before it made it to my mouth, I caught the scent of something off. Something slightly stronger than the fudgy smell of the brownies.

I suddenly tensed. Bella never burned anything. She was meticulous when it came to cooking. I peered around the kitchen to detect where the smell might be emitting from only to see clean counter tops and an empty sink. I downed the drink in one chug and walked to the trash can. As my foot came down on the pedal and the top lifted, I stared down expecting to see remnants of a burntsomething, only to see the short blue candle that had been burnt down to nothing. I recognized them immediately. I had purchased them for Emmett's birthday two years ago but never used them. Alice already had a cake for him with sparkling candles to boot. And I had tossed them in the drawer not thinking twice about them again. My fingers delicately picked up the used wax and I rolled it in my fingers, mulling over the intentions it held. I lingered over my internal calendar and accounted for Emmett and Jasper's birthdays. It was impossible for me not to know about Alice's. She made sure the entire building knew she was getting older. That left one person.

I was frozen for a moment staring at the little blue piece of evidence. Surely, I was mistaken. I glanced over at the pan of brownies and walked over to it cautiously, the empty bottle still in my hand and the candle in the other. One square was suspiciously missing. Sucking in a controlled breath, I tossed the candle and the empty drink into the trash before quietly moving into the living room. I looked down at her slumbering form briefly before resolving to snoop where I shouldn't snoop. I snatched her purse from the coffee table and stole away into my office. I felt like a thief. Once I located her wallet, I flipped out her driver's license and peered over it. It was an Arizona license and it took me a moment to locate her birth date however, once I did, those glaring red numbers confirmed my suspicions. My eyes flickered to the desktop calendar and I squeezed my eyes shut. Bella had turned twenty-two today. I gripped the hard plastic card, feeling its sharp edges cutting into my palm, before shoving back into its slot and throwing the wallet into her purse. After placing the offending bag back on the coffee table, I glared down at her. How the fuck could she not say anything? Could I really be angry at her for it? I never fucking asked.

Fuck. I never fucking asked.

Apparently my douchebaggery knew no bounds after all. Wonderful. I shifted my weight from one foot to the other while glancing around the apartment. My hands planted firmly on my hips in an attempt to keep me from breaking something. I was outraged. Pissed beyond belief that I had fucked up so monumentally. Of course she was down this morning, it was her fucking birthday and I didn't say shit. I should have told Jasper to shove this meeting up his ass. On the one fucking day I should have been home, I had left her here by herself. The one fucking day that should have paid attention to her moods and I failed. With a string of profanities under my breath, I snagged my car keys off the hall table and left the apartment, shutting the door as silently as possible. Once in the safety of the Volvo I let out my frustration.on the steering wheel. My palm slammed down repeatedly on the leather ring with force and when I was afraid of damaging it any further, I switched to the dash. I heard the plastic groan under my assault but it didn't crack. Gritting my teeth in the wake of my impotence, I rammed the key into the ignition and cranked it with viciousness. I peeled out of the parking space with the intention ofdoing God knows what. I drove for almost thirty minutes before coming to the conclusion that it wasn't too late to fix this. I could still fix this. As I pulled into the parking lot of an all night grocery store my phone began to vibrate in my coat pocket. I yanked it out and glanced at the screen. Bella's grinning face displayed on the screen and I dropped my head back in aggravation. Finally deciding to answer, I hit the green button and held the phone up to my ear. "Yeah?" I grimaced at the harsh tone of my voice. There was silence for a beat before she spoke. "Edward?" "Yes, Bella?" I breathed out a controlled answer that spoke volumes of my impatience. "Um, I didn't mean tobother you while you're with Jasper but I was just wonderingif you were okay, cause its late and I didn't know. You know, I'm sorry, this was stupid I shouldn't have called. I'm sorry, I'll let you go." I shut my eyes in defeat. If it was possible to make me feel even shittier, I would find the way. "I'm sorry baby, I didn't mean to snap at you. I'll be home in a little bit okay? Just give me another half an hour and I'll be there." "Don't rush yourself, Edward. It's not a big deal, I was just worried that's all."

And my chest constricted as the python of guilt went in for the kill. 'Not a big deal' It was a big fucking deal. "Bella, babyII'll be home soon. Will you try to stay up for me?" "Of course, Edward. Please don't rush home; I'm sure Jasper isn't too thrilled with me stealing you away all the time. I'll let you go now, okay?" Sighing, I nodded, as if she could see me. "Alright, I'll see you in a bit." "Kayum..bye." "Bye." Even her goodbye was plagued with that missing 'I love you.'

Such a fucking tool.

Groaning, I slipped the phone back in my pocket and bolted into the store. I went quickly to the bakery and saw the assortment of cakes. But the more I looked, the more I second guessed getting one. She had made brownieswould buying her cake be wrong now? I settled on a small cake that could reasonably be shared between two people only and zoomed over to the liquor isle. All the wine and champagne seemed too cheap, then I remembered that they probably kept the good stuff locked up front with the smokes. As I made a beeline for the register, I passed a small section of school supplies and skidded to a stop. Without putting too much thought into it, I snatched up three black composition books, the nicest ones they had, and a pack of those stupid Bic pens that she loved to demolish with her teeth. There was a roll of brown wrapping paper on the bottom shelf and I grabbed it too, along with some scissors and tape. It was kinda shitty but it would have to do. It was better than presenting it in a plastic bag. Once at the register, I asked the girl for a bottle of Cristal. I cringed when she asked to see my driver's license, thinking back on my treachery but gladly paid the outrageous price for the bottle. It was worth it. It was all worth it. She bagged the frigid bottle and handed it to me with a wary glance. With my packages secured, I bolted to the car and quickly tore apart the bag with the wrapping paper and the notebooks. It was a frightening hodgepodge of brown paper and tape. I never could remember how to wrap things right. After three attempts to correctly wrap the notebooks and pens, I gave up and just twisted the paper and taped it down like a fucked up sack. After I was out of paper and time, I raced back home, praying that I was doing the right thing. The closer I got to the apartment the more my anxiety rose. Would she see right through me? Would she know that I went through her purse? Would she be angry about it? Was this fixable? By the time I pulled back into the same empty spot, my hands were sweating and I couldn't help but think about how I continued to fail miserably at this whole thing and how many more times I could afford to fuck up before Bella had had enough. While the reasonable side of my mind was telling me that she wasn't going to leave over a forgotten birthday, that I had no knowledge of in the first place, the insecure part of my brain was yelling profanities at me and telling me to just end my own pathetic existence.

Just drink the fucking kool-aid and get it over with.

Grunting, I reached into the back seat for my stash of birthday surprises and walked up the steps to my impending doom. Unlike before, I took the steps one at a time and the farther up I got, gravity seemed to be weighing me down. The situation I was entering into was scary as fuck and I entertained the thought of ditching the shit in the bags and continuing on as if I really didn't know about her birthday, which made me feel even shittier than I already did just for thinking it, if that were at all possible. My hand shook as I fit the key in the lock of the door and I tentatively stepped inside, my eyes darting around in search of Bella. I walked forward into the living room, robotically. I didn't really comprehend anything at this point other than the motions that I knew I had to perform. When I saw her sitting on the couch with a expression on her face I couldn't quite decipher, I felt all the worry rush out of me and the anger resurface. Being angry at Bella felt wrong. No matter what I was upset about, warranted or not, it felt wrong to be anything but happy with her. It threw me out of whack when I felt this way and unlike all the other times I felt frustrated with her actions, this was not a time where I could just fuck the emotions out. I had to tread carefully here and jam the rage back into its loose lidded box. I had to remain in control of this for her sake and my own. She offered me a small smile. She knew something was wrong. I'm sure my expression, whatever it was, had shown her as much. "Happy Birthday." She blanched at my words and quickly ducked her head down, shielding her eyes from me. I felt the red haze flare up momentarily before I kicked it back down.

Always getting so fucking angry at such stupid shit.

"Bellawhy didn't you tell me?" She sniffled a little and shrugged her shoulders. I knew she was close to crying. I could almost smell her tears as if they were tangible flood gates. I sighed and placed the bags on the coffee table before pulling her into my arms and settling down on the couch with her in my lap, where she automatically curled up and pressed her face into my neck. "Bella baby, why didn't you tell me it was your birthday? I should have askedbut you could have told me. I'm so shitty at this whole boyfriend thing." I mumbled the last part under my breath.

I stroked her hair and rubbed her back, showing her that I wasn't angry just confused and tried to convey as much love and care into the gestures and hoped she would notice. "Y-you're not shitty at it. You're...hiccup...the best. How did you find out?" Oh shit. So I figured I could get around this question by just firing off questions at her maybe confusing her into not seeing that I had also partaken in some treachery of my own, because God knows having the discussion about raiding her purse was not something I wanted to do at this moment. My hand paused mid stroke in her hair.

Deflect dammit! The longer you pause the guiltier you look.
"You didn't answer my question." She sniffled and turned her head out from my neck to answer me. "It never came up and I honestly didn't remember until this morning when I saw the calendar. Ikinda hate my birthday so I mean, it's not like I look forward to it or anything. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you feel guilty or keep it a secret or anything." She rambled on and I internally sighed. She had forgotten, too. That made me feel better. "Why don't you like your birthday?" She let out a frantic chuckle that had me slightly worried for her sanity and then sucked in a deep breath. "Oh, well let's see. Clowns throwing up, guys breaking up with me, people seeing my panties, breaking my arm, chicken pox, my mother freaking out, fucking lake grassThis probably doesn't make much sense but I'm cursed when it comes to birthdays. Today I thought I might actually make it till midnight without something happeningI was wrong. You didn't have to get me anything. It's not a big deal." And then the guilt washed over me, fresh and salty in my wounded heart and I squeezed her to me. The guilt was quickly replaced by anger as I let her last words filter into my brain. It was a big fucking deal. My fingers curled into tight fists as I tried to maintain my composure. This is where it was all getting tricky. I had to be understanding; I had to think about why she would not want to celebrate today. It made it easier to relieve the tension I was feeling. Of course there would be something wrong with her memories of birthdays. What person wouldn't mention the date if they actually enjoyed them. I shook my head at this whole situation and placed her back down on the cushions of the seat. She looked at me curiously and I squeezed her knee to let her know that I was okay. I shrugged off my jacket and leaned forward, digging through the bags on the coffee table for my first order of business. I pulled the cake from the box and popped off the clear plastic top setting it gently down on the table. Suddenly, I realized I forgot candles like the dipshit that I am. She wouldn't be upset if I used the blue ones again, right? Jesus, I hope there are twenty two of them in the box. I walked to the kitchen slowly but as soon as I was out of her vision, I raced to the drawer and yanked it open snagging the box and popping the top trying to count the wicks. Fuck, nineteen. Okay so we'll improviseI looked around for something that I could use as three more candles but it was no use, I never got candles. I snagged the matches and hurried back out to the living room, hoping that I got credit for trying and sat back down on the couch. I tried to be discreet about the breath that I was sucking in to help give me to composure not to fuck this up. Bella watched me with wide eyes and I tried to smile at her reassuringly. This was playing out like a scene from a movie where I felt like should be defusing the cake rather than lighting it. I pulled the candles out into my lap and picked up the first one and leaned over to stick it in the middle of the cake when Bella's hand shot out and grabbed my wrist. "No, not in the middleandjust one. I just need one candle." "But" "Please Edward? It's justit's how my mother always did it." That was the end of that. I looked over the round cake and decided to place it up at the right corner where there was more space allotted away from the cursive 'Happy Birthday' and looked over at her for her reaction. The genuine grin caught me by surprise and I found myself smiling back. It gave me the confidence I needed to continue.

See, I can do this, I got this. I can fix things and be all romantic and shit.
I lit the candle and held my breath waiting for her to blow it out. And as the candle burned down, I became concerned. My eyes flickered back to her face and I half expected to see something wrong, however, she was staring at the wax with a look of determination. My eyebrows shot up and I watched with patience as she leaned forward and grabbed my hand. She sucked in a shaky breath and blew out the candle. I made to pluck it from the cake but again, she grabbed my hand and stopped me. "You have to wait for the smoke to stop burning first." I conceded and greedily took in this information for future reference. This was the closest we had ever gotten to discussing anything personal about her past and I wanted to show her that I was okay with learning. I would learn these small things for her and keep to them. We both sat there watching the smoke trailing off the black wick and waiting for it to stop. Once it was done, I looked to her for permission and she nodded. After pulling out the candle, I set it on the coffee table with care and pulled out the bottle of Cristal.

"Edwardthat'sa really expensive bottle of champagne." "Um, the point here is quality notmonetary. So, hold up real quick while I get forks and glasses." She just stared at the gold wrapping around the top of the bottle as I sprinted for the kitchen again and produced two glasses and two forks. I handed her one of each before sitting back down and grabbing the champagne bottle. I had never opened one of these before. Emmett was always the boisterous one at parties and managed to get a hold of the bottle before anyone else. I tore off the golden wrapper and decided it might be best to open this thing in the kitchen and save myself the mess all over the living room. Grabbing Bella's hand, I tugged her into the kitchen and set her up on the island counter top. She watched me with amusement as I looked at the wire cage over the cork. I ignored her and pried it off gently. With the utmost concentration, I twisted the cork and heard the distinct pop as the cork flew out from between my wet fingers and saw the small geyser of foam shoot out just as I turned to direct the flow over the floor and countertop before settling into the sink. A second too late, I registered Bella's yelp of pain and I almost dropped the bottle in my haste to find out what had happened. Setting it down quickly, I turned to see her gripping her shoulder and wincing. "Shit! I'm so sorry, I've never opened one of those beforehere, let me see." I pried her fingers away from the wounded area and saw an angry red dot forming on the soft flesh of her upper arm. The cork must have hit her. "Fuck, Bella, I'm so sorry. Let me get you some ice." "No, no, it's okay." She trailed off in fits of laughter. I was considering her sanity for a moment before joining in and kissing above the angry welt. "I'm sorry." "Don't be. Now my birthday is complete. I can't tell you how worried I was about that. It could have been so much worse. At least we don't have to call for the ambulance." She laughed harder as if there was some inside joke to that statement and I just smiled at her. She looked genuinely happy. Shrugging, I filled our glasses and took us back to couch for the cake. She grinned and we both dug into the icing without bothering to cut pieces. She laughed when I fed her a piece and smeared it on her face and I was paid back with icing smudged over my nose. It was fun and light and much easier now that I knew I wasn't an asshole for not knowing it was her birthday. We were enjoying the time. "When's your birthday, Edward?" "I don't think I should tell you. I should just wait and see if you figure it out." It might have come out sounding dickish because of recent events but the words came out unfiltered before I could stop them. She surprised me though and giggled. "C'mon. Tell me. You know you wanna." She turned those brown eyes on me and pouted a little. Alice should take lessons from her. Bella rarely used the face of doom but when she did, she owned it. "Do you remember the day that you found me in the locker room?" "Of course I do, Edward. I'll never forget that day." Suddenly her mood was pensive and thoughtful. I struggled to right my wrong. "Well, that was my birthday." She gaped at me for a moment before rolling her eyes. "When's your birthday, Edward? Really?" "June 20th. That's my birthday. Really." "And that daythat was June 20th? ...Really?" "Really. And I got the best gift of my entire life." Her eyes misted over and she got all sniffley.

I fucking own being romantic.

And she launched herself into my arms and I held her close with our sugar crusted faces and sticky champagne fingers. "Bella, from now on you will have cake and candles and presents. I don't give a shit how much it pisses you off about the gifts. I'm going to make sure every year you have a happy birthday and I'm going to do my damndest to make sure no one throws up or gets hurt okay?" She giggled into my chest and weights came off me in bounds. "Edward?"

"Yeah, baby?" "Can wewill youmake love to me?"

Freeze. Stop. Re-wind. Back it up. Danger. Proceed with Caution.

"Of course I will. You never have to ask." And with wild thoughts running through my mind, my lack of balls, my utter devotion to this crazy woman, and my uncertain future, I knew that I would tell her that I loved her. I would tell her soon because she risked her heart for me and I was a fucking douchebag for not doing the same.

After I got off the phone with Edward, I was worried. Something bad had happened. He was angry. And I knew enough to know that Edward being angry and difficult wasn't a new thing but it was a cause for concern. I feared that it had something to do with Jasper's new found bipolar hate for me. Scenarios of them fighting cropped up in my head and I nervously tapped my leg waiting for his arrival. I heard the door knob rattle and I tensed waiting for whatever it was that was coming. Of course today couldn't be without any repercussions. Edward breezed in carrying grocery bags and I didn't question it even though I wanted to. "Happy Birthday." And I fucking lost it. I felt the tremor run up my spine and I knew this was going to be bad. He was probably pissed.

Shit, Fuck, shit.

And so I did what I had felt like doing all day long. I cried. And Edward waswell, he was Edward and managed to turn the tables on me yet again. I told him about the candles and he bought me ridiculously expensive champagne. I was delighted to find out my only birthday retribution was a stray cork. We had cake and made a mess on the couch. It was the best fucking birthday ever. And to top things off, Edward was currently carrying me into the bedroomto do naughty things to me.

Best fucking birthday ever.

He laid me down on the comforter and leaned between my bent legs, running his hands up and down my thighs. I thanked my stars for shaving my legs this morning and deciding to wear these shorts to bed. I laid there watching him stroke his hands in a lazy circuit, up the outside of my thighs and down to my knees. My hips squirmed into the fluffy mattress when his fingers came up higher, brushing underneath the cotton of my shorts. "Edward" "Oh no, this is retribution for teasing me." "Ihave neverteased you." He looked at me in disbelief while grinning madly. Slowly, he pulled his hands away and tugged the black polo he was wearing over his head. Inch by delicious inch, his abs came into view, then his pecs, and his glorious shoulders. He tossed the shirt to the floor and reached down to flick open his belt and unbutton his jeans. I licked my lips thinking about it.

Where the fuck are those brownies?

But no sooner had the thought popped into my head, the playfulness left us and we were lost to the gravity. This was different. We both needed the affirmation. We both needed to know that we were each other's everything. And I felt him trying to show me that it was okay for me to need him like this. It was okay for me to let him take the control I wanted to give him. Leaving his erection straining from his boxers, he drug his hands up my calves and over my inner thighs. My breathing hitched and I lay motionless; the venom of his seduction leaving me immobile. I eyed his thick shaft concealed by gray cloth, lying between the heavy ends of his belt, the undone zipper showcasing what I wanted the most. I could clearly see the silhouette of the head and the small stain of pre-cum darkening the tip. His jade eyes were dilated, leaving only a thin ring of green glowing in the blue light of the alarm clock. Fingers connected to hot palms pressed up over my hips and across my stomach to touch my breasts. My heart began to pump in unsteady beats as I arched into his touch, as if the beating muscle were trying to escape to him through my chest. My vocal cords mutinied against me and released low moans of satisfaction. His hands were never awkward or hesitant. He knew what he wanted. The way he completely controlled every second of our unions sent a tremor through my body. He was everything I needed him to me. He took the lead and made me feel what I never thought I could. My head pressed back into the pillows as his hands reached up over my chest and wrapped around the back of my neck, massaging and comforting. His torso bent over my own.

Looming, controlling, loving, needing, giving. He was everything now.

His eyes held a kind of devotion and need that I felt. I released the breath I was holding when his lips pressed down on my neck, slowly sliding up my jaw. He knew what I needed, and he never asked for more than what I was willing to give. He never made me into something I was not. Not here, not where we were at our barest level. My legs pulled shut, holding him close to me and his hands moved from my neck and shoulder to balance himself above me, his face dipping to rest against my neck.

"I need you." My voice was just a whisper. "I know, baby. I need you, too. Let me love you." He mumbled against my skin. It was the closest he had gotten to saying it, and I reveled in the new found feeling. Edward was getting closer to admitting it. He was getting closer to me. We were the same; both needing, both wanting and both willing to give whatever was asked of one another. His hands slid under my waist and pulled me up until I was sitting, my forehead pressed against his sternum. I felt his fingertips flit under the hem of my tank top before he drew it up over my head. Pushing me back against the pillows, he gripped the waistband of my shorts and slid them down along with my panties. I felt the cold air hit my slick thighs and burning pussy. My cheeks flushed in embarrassment and I felt the heat radiate down over my chest. My eyes shot up to Edward's face as he made a strangled noise; his own eyes taking in my naked form and lingering on my blushing breasts. He yanked off his jeans and boxers without looking away and kicked his knees, freeing himself without leaving the area between my legs. My hands lay at my sides, my fingers twitching to touch him. But I wanted him to take what he wanted, how he wanted. "Shit, Bella, there are so many thingsso many wordsnone of them are good enough." "No words, Edward. Just us." He nodded and swallowed thickly before lowering himself down on me and nuzzling my hard nipples. My hands came up and held his face to me. I wanted to keep him safe from everything. I wanted to make all his pain go away. I wanted to take him away from all the fighting and the bloodshed and just take care of him forever. "Bella" I felt him press at my entrance and I affirmed his request by lifting my hips and urging him on. He slid into me easily, moaning as I gasped. He was always so consuming. The feeling of him inside me filling up everything I lacked; he was everywhere all at once. His thrusts were slow and steady. I gripped onto his arms and pulled him closer, wanting the contact. My legs wrapped around his waist, hitching high and holding tight, an arm slid around my waist, holding me close. The proximity of our chests prevented him from pulling out too far and we moved together slowly. He pulled out only inches before sliding back into me. It was enough. It was just enough to give me what I needed and to prolong the experience. Slicked with sweat we shifted and grinded against each other. Our panting and shudders blending into each other. I felt myself getting closer to the edge of that release. That high only he could bring me too. The sounds of his pleasure resonating inside my mind and urging me on to freedom and he knew that I was almost there, just like I knew he was almost there. His hips moved faster, out of rhythm, frantic almost. I tried to match him, to meet him halfway but I was at an awkward angle and he was consuming me. This was the nature of our love; the slow, steady, solid buildup and the reckless, wanting, needing release. I bit my lip and moaned as my walls clamped down around him and he dropped his head to my neck pressing hot, wet kisses there as he groaned and spilled into me. My legs wrapped around him tighter and he knew I wanted him to stay. His hands swept down my sides and I kissed away the sweat on his brow. He murmured words of affection and endearments to me as I regained my composure. My hands stroked his back with comfort and before long he pulled me up and settled us both under the blankets. He reached over and flicked on the bedside lamp before looking down at me for a moment. "I'll be right back okay?" I looked at him in bewilderment before woodenly nodding my head and watching him retreat out of the bedroom. I heard the rustling of plastic before he came loping back into the room, naked and glorious. My eyes lingered up his stomach and over his arms before I noticed he had a mangled brown package in his hands. When I looked at his face he looked sheepish and shy. I had never seen that look before. "What is it, Edward?" "I got you something. It's stupidand not at all what you really deserve but it's the best I could have done on such short noticeand later on I can alwaysjustopen it. And pretend like its wrapped right." I took the package from him delicately and looked at the wrapping job he had done. Compressing my laughter, I slid my nails under the tape and pulled it apart quickly. A pack of pens fell out into my lap and I sifted through the notebooks. "I know how much you like to write stuff down and I figured those other ones you have are all filled up and I noticed you flipping through one looking for space to writeso I was thinking of getting some the other day for you They're just cheap little notebooks and I do plan on getting you something nice to write with but for right now And the pensI know those are your favoritesI won't bitch about you chewing on them anymore." My throat closed up and I blinked back tears. "Fuck, Bella I'm sorry. I'll get nicer oneswhatever you want. It's your birthday" "Stop, please stop. It's perfect. It's actually the most thoughtful gift anyone has ever gotten me."

I chewed on my lip and finally pulled my eyes from the pens to see his face. I threw myself into his arms and squeezed him tightly. "Really, Edward, this is the most thoughtful thing anyone has ever done for me. This has to be the best birthday I have ever had. Thank you." He beamed at me and picked up my gifts, setting them aside on the nightstand and wrapping me up in his arms. The light was turned out and I drifted off to sleep not fearing my dreams anymore.

AN: Ridiculously longjust like this chapterRead this if you have questions or just wanna know what the fuck im thinking what i write this shizzle. If you don't feel like it, eh, its not that important.
Was it too long? I just fucking hate cutting shit down when it's going to fuck with my outline. I'm OCD like that...just lemme know anyone had problems with this being too long... ...I'm under the impression ppl like long chapters...

Alright, I'm going to address this. I don't really want to but I'm going to. So some people don't like Bella and her Miss Independence act. (kelly clarkson's song is close here) Some of you think she should just put aside her feelings and let Edward take care of her. Now, I'm aware that Bella's thoughts and actions might come off a little overbearing but think about the whole picture here. She's 22. (now) and she's barely had time to be an adult. She's grown up with divorced parents and she's thrown herself under the bus for them. Her entire life she's done what she thought was best for her mother and father, never for her. So in this bizzaro world where this man suddenly wants to lavish affections on her, she's thrown off kilter. She doesn't want to be like her mother, who relied on a man to support her. She doesn't want to seem weak in front Edward, she wants to be his equal. Also, it's a defense mechanism. It's the last shield she has to protect herself. By providing for herself she is not responsible to anyone. She doesn't owe anyone anything. Despite that being Edward's intention or not, its how Bella see's it. She doesn't want anything held over her head. okay now that, that's been said. so a few things if you might want to know. the candles. yeah. if you saw the resemblance there yellow and blue are color opposites and she placed the blue candle in the corner (like when a boxer goes to his corner) also Bella's world is different now. She has different people in her life who care about her. She's realizing that the centered normal world that she lived in wasn't so normal. She's okay with being a little off center. whether she did this with realizing it or not she has associated in her mind her allegiance to Edward. Her future with Edward is the blue candle and her past with Renee and Phil is the yellow candle. Edward is afraid of dumb shit. Just like always. This was one character flaw I couldn't get rid of in this fic. It has to be here. He has managed to convince himself that by not saying I love you to Bella it makes it not exist. He's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyding it. The good part of him wants to tell her, but cant so he shows her, the other part is going, fuck telling her, we might die soon. Both sides want to protect Bella. His believes that by keeping the words to himself this will grant her the ability to get over him should he die in the ring. But he isn't being stupid enough to let Bella go and find a better life. He's too selfish for that. They're both too selfish to face their problems. This method of thinking won't last long though. Edward's smart enough to figure his shit out. His problem now will be timing. So, yeah, there was some nice lemony fluff and some fail on the birthday business. And not only was there one lemon...but two. yeah, they're back to doing it like rabbits. Edward's all "oooh baby" and Bella's all "meaningful connection" typical man/woman thing. No one died, there wasn't a house fire and definitely no pot brownies but I like to think it worked itself out. ha, not really. So, this is a catalyst for these two. This is where all the drama is going to start from. The past is rearing its ugly head and making itself known. And Bella is loving the control that Edward is putting out in the bedroom...and in the kitchen...and in the bathroom...and apparently now in public. This will become a big deal later on. The whole sexual control thing that is. Bella's internal monologue made a vengeful comeback in this chapter. She's regaining some of her old self now. I mean if you think about it, you'd lose a little bit of yourself with all this shit going on. So, if you haven't figured that out yet, her inner diatribe is her conscience and kinda like her moral compass. It's those annoying stray thoughts that make you feel stupid when no one is looking and you're making crackpot remarks to yourself about the girls on the magazines in the checkout line at the supermarket. And I almost never hint out what's going on in a chapter so if it helped you understand better, then awesome if it ruined it for you...I'm not sorry. I just felt like these points are important to point out just in case you didn't see them because they'll become more so important in the future and maybe it will show you what I'm trying to get at here with this. if you're bored and looking for some fun and man candy come on down to Twilighted's Shadowboxer forum thread we don't bite...unless you want us to, in which case we are really good at it. i post teasers and drop hints about chapters. generally riling up anyone who wants to know whats going to happen. so, that's about for this installment kiddies, hopefully it wont take me so long to get the next one to you...even tho it too will probably be a doozy, go rest your eyes... tune in next time.

oh and you know... ... Leave Me Some Love...

*Chapter 13*: It's Over

CHAPTER 13 BPOV It's Over. Better Version Of Me Fiona Apple
The nickel dropped When I was on My way beyond The Rubicon What did I do?

And of the games that I can handle None are ones worth the candle What can I do? I'm a frightened, fickle person Fighting, cryin', kickin', cursin' What should I do
Oooh, after all the folderol, And hauling over coals stops What will I do

Can't take a good day without a bad one Don't feel just to smile until I've had one Where did I learn? I make a fuss about a little thing The rhyme is losing to the riddling Where's the turn? I don't want a home, I'd ruin that Home is where my habits have a habitat Why give it term?
Oh, after all the folderol And hauling over coals stops What did I learn I am likely to miss the main event If I stop to cry or complain again So I will keep a deliberate pace Let the damned breeze dry my face

Oh, mister, wait until you see What I'm gonna be I've got a plan, a demand and it just began And if you're right, you'll agree Here's coming a better version of me Here it comes a better version of me Here it comes a better version of me BPOV
Today is Saturday and God, how I love it. Currently, Edward has his head nestled over my chest and is squeezing the ever loving shit out of me in bed. It's about five-ish I think. The last time I looked at a clock was hours ago when Edward had tackled me and we began to do the horizontal tango. Having sex with Edward Masen was the most amazing thing that ever happened in my life. I giggled and he looked up at me with that adorable grin on his face. I smiled back at him and we made goo-goo eyes at each other. My hair was sticking to my neck from the sweat and his face was damp with it as well. We were laying haphazardly on the bed tangled in his feather comforter. Apparently since it was October, it was time to bring it out and Sweet Mother was this thing awesome. It was soft and fluffy and so fucking warm; the butter of all comforters. I snuggled into the mattress and Edward squeezed me tighter, our bodies sticking to each other and the heat from where

we were connected was still generating slickness. I laid my head back and stroked his hair. He hummed and kissed my nipple. I could hear my phone ringing in the living room and knew from the sound it was Alice. She had snooped around in my purse the other day and programmed all my ring tones.

Meddlesome little gnome.

I huffed and Edward whined. I had to laugh at his pout. "It's Alice, I have to answer. She went on her likefourth date with Jasper last night and I think she needs me. I'm shocked it took her this long to call." He groaned and rolled off me. I sprinted into the living room, butt ass naked, and clicked the talk button before it went to voicemail. "Hey!" "Confab, twenty minutes, my place, mandatory." "Alice" But she had already hung up, so I tossed the phone down and grimaced while walking back into the bedroom. "She's making you go up there isn't she?" "Yes. I have twenty minutes or I'm afraid she'll come here" "Go, we can do more of this when you get back." He wiggled his eye brows at me and I had to laugh. He was so fucking cute I just wanted to hug him till he stopped breathing. I turned into the closet and pulled on underwear, jeans, and Edward's Beastie Boys t-shirt. When I re-emerged into the bedroom, he just looked at me with a slack jaw. "Thatis fucking hot. Do not, I repeat, do not let Alice get a hold of that shirt." "Psh, Please Masen. What do you take me for? This shit is now mine." He laughed and shook his head. "You're keeping that shirt on and only that shirt, and I'm going to fuck you on the coffee table when you get back home." I felt goose bumps run up my back and smirked at him. "Promises, Promises." "It's a guarantee. I will have my way, Bella." I walked out of the bedroom giggling and grabbed my phone before walking out the door. I made it to Alice's door and took a deep breath before knocking. It flew open instantly and she yanked me into the apartment. "You were almost late." "Shit Alice, I'm here. What is it?" "Jasper and I had a moment last night." "I'm happy for you but I don't want to know how big Jasper's" "No, not that kind of momentlikewe talked about why he avoided me for like five years and after what he saidI don't blame him. I know I should NOT be repeating this to youbut I have to tell someone something. I wanna tell you cause you're my friend and I don't know Rose but she seems like she would be a bitch about this" "Alice, slow the fuck down and just breath for a minute." She nodded and we sat on the couch together. I liked this. I was a girl, she was a girl, we were having girly moments together. This was something I had never done before. I never had many girlfriends. I liked this. This was normal. "Okay, so what I'm going to tell you has to stay between us. I hate telling you but I'm going to die without someone else to talk to and it has to be you." "Well, thank you Alice. I'm glad you like me so much and feel the need to open up to me instead of thinking of me as your last resort." She rolled here eyes and huffed.

"Okay, so I'm going to give you the watered down versioncause I don't think I could go all in like he did last night and honestlyI feel better just giving you the gist of itmakes me feel like I'm not being a total gossip." I nodded and she nodded back at me. It was strange, like this silent promise or conversation was all in that gesture. I took a calming breath and prepared myself to be supportive. "So, Jasper told me all about how he came to be a fighter and it's such a fucked up story but that's not what I'm going to tell you about. He started fighting and made this name for himself and this was all before he moved in here mind you and anyway so he was doing really well. Then he met this woman named Maria. And this is why I need you. Maria apparently sucked him into this whole relationship that he didn't really want but at the time he felt like he needed to help her. And she was supportive of his fighting because that is what made him happy and shit. Well anyway, so Jasper got set up in this match against this dude named Richards and well he really wanted to fight him cause it was a big take and shit and anyway, Maria told him she didn't want him to fight. And she was living with him at the time in this shitty apartment and practically mooching off him and she didn't work and didn't do shit for him and he said he was always taking care of her. But yeah, so she tells him that she wants him to not fight and when he said he was going to fight anyway she asks him to throw the fight. She said that since he got money for fighting and losing anyway it was still a win-win situation. Well, he told her no. He said he couldn't believe that she would ask him to do that. And he was heartbroken that she would even ask. So the night of the fight, she fucking hit him in the knee. She took a fucking golf club to his knee, Bella. And he couldn't do it. He had to forfeit the fight because he couldn't even walk. But Bella, the worst part is that he found out later that she was really with Richards the whole time. She wasn't like his girlfriend, she fucking worked for the guy who represented him. And so, he tells me that he really liked me but when he met me he had just come out of that relationship. And fuck, I remember the first time we met. He called about the apartment and when he walked upstairs I remember thinking 'Wow, he's so fucking hot and he walks like he's on air.' And like the dumbass I am I go, "Hey, you must be Jasper, you seem really graceful for a tall guy." Cause I'm a fucking moron like that and now that I remember that moment Bella, he looked at me like I was the anti-Christ. I mean at the time I thought I smelled or something, but now that I know what had happenedI must have seemed like a fucking bitch. I didn't know what the hell he did for a living. I mean, I didn't know anything about The Ring or the fighting or his knee. I didn't know shit, Bella. Then he says 'I really thought you were something, you know that? That you were this feisty little ball of energy and you took care of yourself and you worked hard at managing this place.' And I wanted to cry. I got all misty eyed and hugged him and I was like 'Jasper, I would never hurt you like that.' And he looked me dead in the eyes and said 'I know, Sugar. That's why I wanna do this with you.' And he kissed me. Not like a peck on the lips, like he kissed me and it was everything I thought it would be." I just sat there stunned. I was happy for Alice. I felt like shit for Jasper. On top of everything though, the pieces clicked together for me. Jasper's hot and cold behavior towards me that started when Edward woke up in the hospital, his distrust in my intentions toward Edward, all of it made sense now. Jasper saw me as Maria. I was Maria. I was the homeless girl who was weaseling her way into Edward's life and telling him not to fight. I was the enemy. "Bella? Jesus, help me out here." "What. I heard you. I'm justsoaking it all up right now." "Fuck, tell me about it. I've been a wreck all fucking morning. I could hardly sleep. I mean, things are going well but how the fuck do I compete with that? What the hell am I supposed to do to fix this? He doesn't trust me. I know he will in time, but I feel shitty knowing that he was hurt and now it's going to affect us."

It's affecting me too Alice.

"Well, here's the deal, Al. You can't go back in time and change it. You can't erase what happened. You have to just let him into your life and show him that you just...want him. You have to support him in everything and you have to give him the time he needs to realize that he has a good, honest thing in front of him. You're lucky that you have five years of friendship under your belt. He knows what kind of person you are and he knows that you have good intentions. I know that sometimes he might not act that way, but he's going to be defensive. So justplay it by ear and try. That's all I can tell you." She sucked in a deep breath and nodded. She smiled a bit and filled me in on the rest of their night. He took her dancing and then they had dinner. She squealed about how sweet he was and how much of a gentleman he was and how he paid for everything. She talked at length about his accent, what he wore, and his hair (apparently it was god like). I nodded along with her and made appropriate comments until finally she wore herself out and I headed back upstairs. I was still thinking about this. I knew I had to talk to Jasper. I knew this before Alice told me what she did, but now I knew the reasons why and I couldn't say a damn thing. Jasper would know that Alice had told me and I couldn't betray her like that. I had to find a way to let Jasper know that I had every intention of supporting Edward in his decisions to continue fighting. It was going to be hard and I had no fucking clue what I was going to do but I knew I had to something and soon. Edward was getting pissed about Jasper's apparent dislike of me and suddenly I understood that Edward must know about Maria. And he must have known that she was the reason Jasper was acting the way he was. I was stuck. I was stuck between Jasper, Alice, and Edward. I was the bad guy. I was the enemy. I was the pathetic piece of shit who had nothing and if or when Edward decided he didn't want me anymore, I had nothing again. I would go back to my truck. I would without a doubt have to quit working at The Ring. I would have only the clothes on my back and my truck again.

I am the bad guy. I am the villain. I am the woman wielding the proverbial golf club and ruining lives.

When I finally made it to Edward's apartment and let myself in, I was feeling shitty and depressed. The door was unlocked and the TV on. I heard the shower running in the bedroom and smiled.

He's naked in there.

I slipped into the kitchen and pulled the marinating chicken out of the fridge, sticking it in the oven and setting the timer. The rice was done and cooling on the stove before I turned to go check on Edward. I heard the shower shut off as I turned down the lights in the living room. Going to the TV, I put in a movie not paying attention to which one and crept back into the kitchen to get the food on the plates. While I was spooning rice next to the chicken and veggies, I felt Edward's arm wrap around my waist as he nuzzled my neck. I leaned back into him and sighed. He smelled so fucking good when he got out of the shower. Irish Spring, deodorant and spicejust cinnamony spice. Ung. "It smells fucking amazing."

You smell fucking amazing.

"Thank you. You ready to eat?" "I'm starved, are we eating in the living room?" "Yeah, I put on a movie. Wanna get the drinks?" He nodded and grabbed two glasses, filling them with water and following me out into the living room. I set down our plates on the coffee table and he pressed play on the DVD remote. Green letters flashed onto the screen and the comic book pages began to flip. I sighed heavily. I should have paid more attentionwe were watching the Hulk. Again. Edward just grinned at me and I stuck my tongue out at him. After we finished eating, I took our plates into the kitchen and let them soak in the sink, returning to Edward so we could cuddle on the couch. I could take this like a big girl. At least this one had Edward Norton in it. We were halfway into the movie and Bruce and Betty were trying to get it on, but his heart rate began to increase and they had to stop. I turned my head up to Edward and looked at him in the blue light. He was so beautiful. "What are you looking at?" "You." "Like what you see?" "Yes." "Good. I better be the only one you like to see." I snorted. "We're a lot like Bruce and Betty, you know." "Uh, no we're not. We can have sex. I have no issues with my heart rate any longer and I plan on utilizing that fact. In fact, I seem to recall something about you and that coffee table." "I'm serious, just hear me out. Bruce has anger problems. He was made into the Hulk. He didn't want it, it's just the cards he was dealt. You have anger problems and you were made into a fighter. You didn't want to fight but you do because these are the cards you were dealt. And Betty, she just wants to help Bruce control his anger. She understands that the Hulk is apart of Bruce. She wants to help but she doesn't know how." At this point Edward was staring at me so hard I thought I was going to combust but I held my ground. This was how I was easing into things. This was how I handled seriousness without yelling. "BellaI thinkI think that Betty does know how to help the Hulk. I think that without consciously doing it, she does. She makes his life easier. She grants him the stability that he needs. She makes him a whole person and she knows exactly how to calm him down. She'sshe's the peace in a storm of demons and she makes him find himself in all the rage." "Thatmay be true. But ultimately it's Bruce who has to change himself. Betty might help him but he's the one who has to come to terms with his anger. He has to find that peace." "Without Betty there is no peace. Without Betty there is no calm and there is no fucking reason to be calm. Without her there is just chaos and anger. She is what drives him to find the control. She is what drives him to change." His words were harsh and final. They were a warning. "How has the Hulk changed then? He didn't really seem all that angry and out of control anyway. I mean, he knew to save her when the helicopters crashed and he knew not to hurt her when he was in Hulk form. Why is he such a badass then? He had control with her and he only fought when he was provoked. How does she change him?"

"Because she cared enough to find him. She cared enough to take care of him when he was broken after the General tried to blow him up." Before I could make another veiled response, Edward scooped me up and took me into the bedroom. Throwing me down on the bed, he wedged himself between my legs and kissed me hard. "You changed me." And then we were hands and lips and fingers and bodies mashed against bodies. However, before the Hulk had a chance to screw Betty there was a fucking knock at the door. Edward groaned and propped himself up. "What are the fucking odds of us ignoring that and it going away?" I just laughed and pushed him off me. He trudged out into the living room and opened the door. I followed him and saw Jasper breeze into the room. "This better be good man." Jasper surveyed my flushed face with disdain and turned to Edward. "They've set a date for the fight." I sat down on the couch and watched them. Edward had not missed Jasper's appraisal of me and his nostrils flared in annoyance. "Tell me and get out." Jasper glanced back over at me and I shrank away from his penetrating stare. I wasn't angry with him, not after what Alice told me.

You have every right to hate me.

"Don't you fucking look at her. Tell me what you have to say and get out. I'm not in the mood to deal with your shit and I sure as hell won't stand for you treating her like this anymore." Jasper never took his eyes off mine. "December 31st. New Years Eve. Is that okay with you?" I gaped at him. I had no clue what to say. Why was he being like this? Was it because he told Alice his past last night? Were the memories still fresh? "Jasper!" He finally turned to look at Edward. "Edward, I have to say something now. You need to think about your priorities. You need to think about all you have worked for. This is getting in the way. You are not focused on your training; you are not getting your head into this like you should." Jasper's voice was calculated. His words were clear and precise. I shuddered; he was telling the truth. I was distracting Edward and it could cost him dearly in the ring. "Shut the fuck up. Bella is not Maria, god dammit and you will treat her with respect. She has done nothing but put up with your bullshit while slapping a smile on her face and I'm fucking sick and tired of it. Just get the fuck out of my apartment and leave us the fuck alone. I will not say it again. Go away." Edward's voice was low and menacing. He was angry and as I looked at him, he looked nothing like my Edward. I had never seen him so angry before. Not even when he was fighting James did he look like that. I actually felt a shiver of fear go up my spine. "It's so fucking convenient isn't it? That she just happens to start working at The Ring the day that Mike and Tyler leave you for dead? It's so fucking convenient that she was there at what? Three fucking o'clock in the morning to get your ass and patch you up? She didn't take you to the hospital; she didn't do anything like that. She's homeless? She lives with you now? She tells you she doesn't want you to fight this rematch? It's so fucking convenient that they knew where to have Mike go to drug your water? She's the only person who heard that conversation? She didn't say anything until you had all that shit in your system? She couldn't make it up front, my ass! She waited until you drank it all then she told us about it because it didn't finish you off. That was some sweet acting at the hospital too, darlin'. When you wake up she tells you not to fight. She calls you fucking stupid and tells you not to give James what he deserves. Do you not see it?" I cringed because when he said it like that it sounded really bad. I searched Edward's face and I froze. He was going to snap. He was turning that red splotchy color and his fists were balled up tight. I decided to interject before it got out of hand. "Look, Edwardhe's right. I mean, he's not rightI don't want to hurt you and I didn't plan anythingbut I'm a distraction so maybe I should justI don't know stay somewhere else nowand you can train and focus"

Jasper cut me off. "Oh, isn't that just precious. Offer it up and play the sweet innocence. He'll be more distracted without you here. Think I don't know what you're playing at? Make me look like the bad guy for making you leave. Fuck that. I've got your game right now. Edward has been under my wing for years. I have his best interests at hand. You are fucking ruining everything he's worked for. You traipse in here and take care of him and expect him to fucking bow at your feet and do what you say. Tell me, how long did it take you to sink your claws into him? How long before he was tapping that? Huh? Tell me it doesn't sound like you're using him? He buys you clothes and lets you stay here. Who were you fucking to get this gig sweetheart? James? King? Who?" The tears welled up in my eyes because what he was saying was so fucking plausible and Edward was going to believe him. Not only that, I hoped he did. I hoped he'd push me away because I couldn't fucking deal with it anymore. I was hurting him and I was hurting. I was lying to him but not about loving him or helping him or any of the shit Jasper had said but I was lying to him about my past and I felt like shit for it. Jasper took a step toward me and raised his hand to point but before he could say what he wanted to, Edward had thrown him against the wall beside the TV and was hitting him. The cracks and blows making me feel sick. Jasper bent low into a crouch and wrapped his arms around Edward's torso and pushed him back. They both went diving to the ground and Jasper reared back to grab Edward's flying fists. He didn't want to hurt him, just hold him back from doing any damage but the struggle was getting harder and Edward was still managing to lay in a punch or two. He finally dislodged Jasper by clipping his throat. They separated only for a moment before Edward tackled Jasper once more. In my mind I registered my shrieks and my screaming. I could feel the tears streaming down my face. I wanted to stop them but I was afraid. I felt like such a coward. Somewhere in my mind I understood that this was so horribly wrong and it was my fault. My voice was hoarse as I repeated for them to stop 'Please, just stop.' Over and over again I chanted it as if they could hear me. I was frozen in place watching them hit and kick. Finally, Edward threw Jasper off him and they both faced off, breathing heavily and glaring. "She's turned you against us already. Look at what she is doing to us man. Look at us!" "Bella. Is. Not. Maria." The words seemed to make Jasper loose touch and before he could regain his composer, Edward lunged forward and slammed him against the hallway wall. The plaster cracked, forming a dented oval. White dust showered into Edward's hair and over his shoulders while Jasper's face was streaked with it. I lost touch with time and reality as they struggled with each other. They parted once more, panting and glaring at each other. "Is she worth turning your back on us? I found you when you had nothing. I gave you work, I gave you the means to support yourself. I helped you through everything and you're going to throw it away on her? She's using you. Edward, stop this." "She's worth everything. Leave or I will remove you." Jasper shifted his gaze to mine. "Don't. Fucking. Look. At. Her." "You'll destroy him. You already have."

You already have. You're the enemy. You're a liar. You're his downfall.
Edward leapt forward with a growl and gripped Jasper's throat tightly, taking them both down to the ground. Emmett and Alice came through the door suddenly. I glanced at them but shifted back to Edward and Jasper brawling on the floor. Emmett looked on with shock before jumping in to separate them. I couldn't hear whatever he had to say. I couldn't do it. I ran. I exited the apartment and saw the people standing outside their doors all staring and talking to each other. My tears made everything fuzzy and blend together, but I managed to make it down the stairs and out of the building without falling once. I realized too late that I didn't have my purse or keys. I wasn't even wearing shoes. But I was going to be damned if I went back into that apartment.

You'll destroy him.

A sob ripped through me, and I knew I seemed hysterical standing there on the sidewalk looking around me as if I had lost a child. I took off running and the cement beneath my feet hurt and felt amazing at the same time. The pain of it grinding into my heels made me feel better.

Run awayfar, far, away. You need to run nowto stop the hurt.
So I did. I ran until I couldn't run. I ran until I had blisters and the skin on my feet were raw. I ran until I had no breath left and my head hurt from the lack of oxygen. I ran until my legs were sore and my eye sight cleared. I ran until the tears stopped. And when I stopped running, I walked. I walked and walked and my feet hurt so fucking bad, I just knew they were bleeding. I paused when I hit grass and looked down. My toes were almost black with grime and dirt and I could see the redness fading around my heels and

up the sides of my feet. I disregarded the pain and looked back up at my surroundings. I was at Diversey Harbor. I had hit the water. I took slow steps, passing North Pond and crossing four lanes of traffic until I was at the water front. I didn't care how crazy I looked in an over sized Beastie Boys t-shirt, ratty jeans, and bloody bare feet. I sat down at a bench far away from people. I was alone out here. Somewhere in my head I wondered why it was so deserted on a Saturday night. It was getting dark now, and the sun was setting behind me, shadowing the water in front of me. I sat on a bench and looked out at all the small boats docked in lines. They bobbed and glided towards each other then away. Never touching, only drifting; the bumpers hanging around the edges of the hulls, scuffed and worn from years of buffering hits of other boats. Tears tracked down my face fresh and needing release.

Because she cared enough to find him.

A sob broke free.

She cared enough to take care of him when he was broken

I gripped my hair.

Edward, you need to think about your priorities. You need to think about all you have worked for. This is getting in the way.
I bit my lip until I tasted blood.

Bella is not Maria, god dammit

I drew my knees up to my chest.

It's so fucking convenient isn't it?

Another sobit was getting so fucking hard to breath.

You are fucking ruining everything he's worked for.. She's turned you against us already. Look at what she is doing to us man. Look at us! Is she worth turning your back on us?
I began to rock myself. My sobs grew louder, snot slipped down over my mouth; my eyes were swollen and throbbing. Still, I was suffocating. No air, no oxygen; nothing.

She's worth everything.

I cringed into my knees and felt the bile rise up into my throat. I swallowed it down reflexively.

You'll destroy him. You already have.

My toes curled and I shook my head, my hands still fisted in my hair, pulling at the roots. My feet ached against the edge of the bench seat.

You changed me.

I gasped. I greedily sucked in the air around me. I ran. I was gone. I couldn't go back. I had nothing. Everything I was afraid of from the beginning happened. I was alone. My pocket vibrated and I pulled the phone out and saw his face on the screen. I couldn't even process the fact that he was calling me. The picture had me transfixed. I took it a few days ago. We were both in bed and it was early in the morning, his hair was crazy and his eyes justglittered when he smiled. And he smiled that special smile just for me in the morning. So I took his picture as I fiddled with the phone and set it to show whenever he called. I told him 'This is my favorite Edward face and I always wanna see it when you call.' When the picture disappeared, I snapped out of my trance and realized I had not answered. He was gone, I was too late. I shut the phone off and slipped it back into my pocket. I sat on that bench and sobbed. Nowhere to go and no one to run to, I stayed on that bench and cried. It was over.

I didn't need to die to go to hell. She was so damn soft and warm, so sweet and so fucking smart. I was her Hulk and she was my Betty, my peace, my calm, my tranquility. And I had known this for a while but telling her that she was my saving grace had put it all into perspective, the timing was perfect. We were happy and laughing and I just knew. I love her. I'm going to tell her. So after I hauled her into the bedroom and laid her down, I kissed her and held her and I told her that she changed me because she had. She made me better, she made me whole and she gave me a reason. She was the reason I got up in the morning and the reason why breathing was a necessity. She was the reason that the sun rose and the moon glowed, and she was the reason

for anything beautiful in the world because without her light in my life, I wouldn't see the beauty or the calm. I wouldn't have the silence over the anger. I would just be drilling from moment to moment, getting by on the numbness that had settled over my heart years ago. I would be the machine that I was again. It was on the tip of my tongue.

I love you.
And someone had to ruin the moment. But it didn't matter. Because I was so high on the thought of telling her that whatever Jasper had to say wasn't going to ruin it. He would be in and out and then I could cocoon us back in our bed and back into each other and tell her how I felt. I could tell her that my heart would constrict when I touched her. That when I heard her humming, I felt warm inside. And when I woke up and felt her pressed against me, I wanted to weep because it felt so fucking good. I would tell her that she is the center point of my world. That everything revolves around her and I'd give her everything she could ever want. I would be everything she wanted. I would tell her how her smile was the most important thing to me and that I knew I'd loved her for so long but I just couldn't get it out. And that from the moment I saw her in my bedroom, I knew she belonged there.

I love you, Bella.

I wanted to tell her and then make love to her, and tell her over and over again as I made her feel good. I wanted to whisper it to her as she came and then shout it out as I marked her with my own release. But when Jasper cut his eyes at her for looking rumpled, I felt the aggression. I felt the tension and the anger and the irate frustration boiling up to the top. He couldn't fucking let it go. I'd love to say it wasn't his words or his intentions but it was, and as soon as I saw those tears spilling out over her rosy cheeks, I snapped. She would never be sad and she would never cry without vindication. I was not mad. I was not angry. I was fucking furious. I was filled with so much rage and hate that if Emmett hadn't pulled me off of him, I would have fucking fought until one of us was dead. My eyes were clouded and my head filled with incoherent thoughts. Jasperwas no longer my friend. He was no longer my trainer and my confidant. He was the destroyer of my happiness, the harbinger of the death on my calm. My Bella. Emmett's arms were caged around me and Alice was crouched down beside Jasper's hunched form. She checked him over before turning on me. "What the fuck is wrong with you? What the hell is going on here?" "Ask him. Tell her Jaspertell her what you did." She shifted her gaze back to him. I looked around. "Where's Bella?" "I think she went up to my place." Alice explained, not taking her eyes off Jasper. She was probably right. Bella would want to get away from this and I didn't blame her. Actually, I could kiss her for being smart enough to get out before she got hurt. "What did you do, Jasper?" He looked up at me, blood dripping from a split on his eyebrow and his teeth coated thinly in blood. "She's ruined you." Alice stood up, ram rod straight, and Emmett released me. From the tension radiating off his body behind me, I knew Jasper just made one less friend in the room. I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and saw the other tenants in the hallway. Two were brave enough to linger in the doorway, eager to see what the landlady was going to do about this. Alice walked over and slammed the door shut in their faces. I was surprised I didn't hear a thud when it closed. "You're all acting like big fucking children. Bella ran out of here crying" "Of course she did. Her shit got called out. She's fucking using Edward. We don't know shit about her. She could be orchestrating this whole fucking thing under our noses. Do you not agree all that shit is just too fucking convenient?" I shook my head and took a step towards him. Emmett followed me but didn't stop me. He was livid, too. He put two and two together and got 'Jasper made Bella cry.' Jasper had two angles to watch now. "One of us is going to walk away from this, Jasperand one of us is not." He glared at me and spit blood out onto the floor. "Go ahead, Edward. I'm your friend. I'm trying to help you. You aren't thinking clearly about her. You need to look at this objectively. She's been using

you. She baited you. How can you not think that everything that has happened was not orchestrated? It's too perfect, Edward. She's the fucking opponent here." Alice gasped and her eyes were wide with shock. "Youyouhow could you? Did she hear you? Did you tell her that?" "Well you see Alice, Jasper came in here being a dick to Bella. Then he fucking called her a liar and a whore. Then I decided that I had enough and that I was going to shut Jasper up, for the last fucking time, since he doesn't know how to fucking shut his own god damn mouth." Emmett took two steps towards Jasper, a look of disgust on his face. "Jazzman, I can see what you're saying. I can understand it but this is Bella. This is not Maria. When Bella walked in and asked for the job, I knew I was taking a risk hiring her, but she was hungry and poor and just such a sweet kid. You saw her in the hospital waiting for Edward to get up, she was a wreck. She has done whatever you asked of her in accordance to his training. Edward trusts her. She has done nothing but help him and be there for him. Why can't you let him be happy?" "The both of you are sucked into this shitshe-" Emmett's jaw clenched, mine was already rock hard as we both advanced on him. "I swear to fucking God, if you say what I think you're going to say I'll kill you." "Edward, you and Emmett need to back up." Alice murmured. I looked over at her and saw the death glare she had on Jasper. So I backed up, because pissed off Alice is fucking scary. Emmett followed suit and I actually felt a little giddy to see this shit. "I want you to listen to me Jasper and I want you to listen to me real fucking good. I have been in love with you for five fucking years now, watching your every move. And I didn't know shit about your past. I knew nothing about what brought you here or who you were. I knew just what I saw. I knew you, standing in front of me, talking to me now. That is what I know, that is what I love. But not this. Not this angry, hostile, bitter man who is ruining his friendships and breaking down innocent people. This is some other Jasper, some old dark Jasper that I can't even stand to look at. Because of you, Bella is probably upstairs right now crying her fucking eyes out and she doesn't deserve it. Have you spent any time with her? Have you talked to her? No, you just made calculated judgments and said 'fuck whatever my emotional instincts tell me'. If you would listen to what your gut is saying, you would know that you trust her. That she is a good fucking person. Better than all three of you in here. I'm disgusted that I opened up to you last night about myself only to see this sitting before me. I'm going to let you in on a little secret, Jasper Whitlock. Bella would give her life for Edward. She loves him. She's sacrificed her pride by living here and letting him buy her things. She felt fucking sick and guilty for spending that money he gave her but she did it because he asked her too. She cooks and she cleans and she fucking works at the gym. She finds time to go up to The Ring and help him train. Do you fucking chew her out then? No. You act like a pompous prick but you don't say shit. Well, I'm sick of this. I'm sick of you acting like everyone has some ulterior motive." "Alice" The resounding crack of her little hand hitting Jasper square in the mouth made my jaw drop because he stumbled when she hit him.

Alice has potential

She cradled one hand in the other as she glared at him. "You're a fucking asshole." "Jasper, do you know what Bella said to me in the hospital after you left my room?" He didn't acknowledge me, so I continued. "She said, if you decide to do this and fight James again, I'll be behind you but don't make it about me or for me. She said she refused to be my obligation. Do you know how I found out she didn't have a place to go? I found her sleeping in her truck. I forced her into staying here. She never told me. She never wanted to show weakness. She never wanted to burden any of us. But none of this matters really. Not to you. You don't give a shit about her apparently. So let me ask you thisif she was fucking me over, if she was with King or James... did you think doing this was the best idea? Did you think making me choose between the two of you was going to help? Did you think that by her leaving I would be happy? Think about it Jasper." Emmett picked him up and gripped his shoulders. "We're going up to my place and having a nice, long talk." He went without fight and I looked at Alice. "I'll go get Bella."

"No, let me go talk to her for a moment and then I'll send her back down. You're fixing that wall. I'll charge it to Jasper's rent." I chuckled and nodded my head. She loped out of the living room and I sat down on the couch and cradled my head. This was not the right time to tell her I loved her. When she came back down, I would just have to talk to her and explain to her why Jasper did this. I would have to comfort her and tell her that I didn't believe a fucking thing he said. Because I didn't; I knew why Bella was here. I knew her intentions and I knew that she was genuine. I knew she really loved me and I knew that I loved her.

I love you, Bella.

It will have to wait for the next best moment I guess. I sighed and gritted my teeth. I heard the door creak open and looked up to see Alice's panicked face. "She's not there. She not at Emmett's, either." I shot up off the couch and frantically searched for my phone. I hit the numbers with too much force, hitting unnecessary keys as my hands shook. Alice had to take it from me and dial the number before handing it back. Straight to voicemail. "Her truck is still here though" I grabbed my keys off the sofa table and shot out the door. I had to find her, I had to find her and tell her, the right time be damned. She couldn't do this to me now. She couldn't be gone This can't be over.

I'm not sorry for that cliffie. at all. alright, so long time to update. sorry ppls. I had issues with this chapter. at first this was going to be a fluff piece with Alice/Rose/Bella all being girly and talkin...but then as I tried to force that out...it didn't work. So I wrote what I felt like writing. Which means I cut this chapters intended fluff fest and in doing so the next chapter will almost not be a fluffy piece either. at least not completely. so we have fail. Bella has run. Edward gives chase. Jasper is an asshole. but before you leave me a review bashing Jasper...he had valid points. I mean even if he didn't have Maria's past under his belt...srsly, it looks shady on Bella's part. Is Bella a bad guy? Hmmmmmm...interesting question. Who will find Bella? Not who you think. I love my sweeties at the T'd board for Shadowboxer. U bizzles are amazing. So thanks for being so supportive and great. I wanted to thank Cheddah for being the best beta in the world and talking me through my issues with this chapter. Her kind words and praise went a long way in this chapter and helped me to update sooner rather than later. Thank you for being so full of praise and never hesitating to call me out on my shit. You are the reason for so much of this story so thanks. Alright lovies

Leave me some love...

*Chapter 14*: Conscious Confliction & Dirty Confection

Never is a Promise Fiona Apple You'll never see the courage I know Its colors richness wont appear within your view I'll never glow - the way that you glow

Your presence dominates the judgments made on you

But as the scenery grows, I see in different lights The shades and shadows undulate in my perception My feelings swell and stretch; I see from greater heights I understand what I am still too proud to mention - to you You'll say you understand, but you don't understand You'll say you'd never give up seeing eye to eye But never is a promise, and you cant afford to lie You'll never touch - these things that I hold The skin of my emotions lies beneath my own You'll never feel the heat of this soul My fever burns me deeper than I've ever shown - to you

You'll say, don't fear your dreams, its easier than it seems You'll say you'd never let me fall from hopes so high But never is a promise and you cant afford to lie
You'll never live the life that I live I'll never live the life that wakes me in the night You'll never hear the message I give

You'll say it looks as though I might give up this fight

But as the scenery grows, I see in different lights The shades and shadows undulate in my perception My feelings swell and stretch, I see from greater heights I realize what I am now too smart to mention - to you You'll say you understand, you'll never understand I'll say I'll never wake up knowing how or why

I don't know what to believe in, you don't know who I am You'll say I need appeasing when I start to cry But never is a promise and I'll never need a lie BPOV
The thing about depression is that it takes certain aspects of life away and leaves you floundering around in the dark. You see everything but you feel nothing. I've been sitting here forwell, forever. The sun has set and my butt has long since lost its feeling. My feet stung for about an hour or two before I just tuned that out as well. My eyes are swollen and I'm positive there is snot caked on my face. I can still smell Edward on this shirt and it makes my chest squeeze every time I acknowledge that fact. The world was asleep during my minds transition into darkness. I wanted to think about my mother and father. I wanted to think about Edward, and I wanted to remember what it felt like to be happy but I couldn't. There was a block on those memories and the emotions that came with them. Beautiful, numbing solitude is all I feel. Reasonably, I understand that soon I'll be hungry and tired. And eventually, I'll touch on another feeling besides the depression but right now I don't care. I wish I could see the stars but there are dense clouds covering the sky. I am subconsciously aware that it is freezing out here and that might be why I can't feel my feet or fingers. My skin is vibrating with chills and my teeth are ground together in an attempt not to chatter. There is a storm brewing over me. The heavens are clogged with fat, furious clouds ready to let loose their wrath on me. The water is brackish and swelling, leaving the weathered boats to rock and sway, frantically making sure that the bumpers are useful. The wind is blowing, howling at me that my life would invariably never get better. I would be built up in a day like a cardboard Rome and knocked down in an hour by toddler's hands. Faint, misty rain is dropping down over me and I can't think of a more perfect time for it. Between this realization and the wind picking up, I am aware that my solitude has been disrupted. I am no longer alone but I might as well be because the one person I actually want to see is not here.

"I figured I'd find you here." I just nodded and kept my face trained on the boats ahead of me. I would not look at him. I would not see the disappointment on his face. "Edward is worried about you. We'd all thought you went up to Alice's but" He stopped and I felt a warm coat drop around my back. I shut my eyes when he moved in front of me to fasten the buttons. It was too big on me and the warmth from his body heat made my skin prickle from the foreign sensation. When I opened my eyes, I again refused to meet his stare and instead looked out over the black harbor above his head. "Your feet are tore up." I nodded once more and he sighed heavily. My eyes wandered down to his hands as he pulled out a roll of gauze and some sports tape. I idly wondered if he always had that in his pockets or if he just knew he would find me hurt. He pulled one of my feet down off the bench, propped it on his knee and began to wrapping. "How did you find me?" "Well, at first I didn't know that I would. Then I thought, if I were her, what would I do? Your truck was still there so I knew you walked and with everythin' that had happened, I knew you would be away from people. So, I just drove straight down the street 'til I happened upon here and by some instinct I got out and walked." I just sat staring out over his blonde hair as he continued to talk. "I was wrong. II know that there is nothin' I can say that will excuse what I have done to you. I know there is nothin' that I can do that will make this better but I want you to know that I love him too and I'veI've had a hard time since he was in the hospital, dealin' with my past and everything that happened. "Youdid not deserve anything that I said and after speakin' with EmmettI understand things better now. I made a mistake and instead of trustin' what my gut told me, I trusted what my eyes were telling me. I put what little circumstantial evidence I had together and made concrete assumptions. I made you into someone you're not" "But you're wrong Jasper. I am exactly what you think I am. I didn't do those things you said, but I lied to him and I can't fix this. I want to tell him aboutI want to tell him so many things but I'm afraid that if I dohe won't want me anymore." Finally, I lowered my eyes down to his face just as the rain picked up and began to pour over us. I could barely see his face in the yellow light cast from the street lamps. His face was bruised, his lip busted and swollen. I never noticed before how vibrant Jasper's eyes were. They were cobalt blue, slightly dulled by the lack of light but still piercing.

Funny, I always thought they were more of a gray

"I knew when I first met you that you were a good girl, Bella. I know that, even now. The only family I have is Edward and Emmett and I've protected them fiercely for as long as I've known them. Maybe it's the change that I'm afraid of, maybe it's the past; I don't know. But I am sorry for what happened last night and I'm here to take you back. I can't "I won't leave without you. Because I know and I have known that without you there, Edward isn't half the man he was before. I lied to you when I said that he wasn't focused because he is, and I lied when I said you would be the one to destroy him. I almost destroyed him. He found the perfect girl, his one in six billion and I tried to fuck it up for him. Please, darlin', don't let the ranting of a crazy old fool ruin the both of you." Tears streamed down my face because he didn't get it. What he said was the truth. I lied by omission. I lie to myself everyday. "Justlet me go Jasper. I can't go back. I can't face itnot anymore." He hung his head and the rain pelted onto us harder, washing my tears away and matting my hair down. My breath blew out in icy puffs. I was shaking hard now; water seeping into my skin and chilling my bones. "He loves you." I stared at the crown of his head as he pulled my other foot down and wrapped it in the soggy material. The tape barely sticking as he fastened it closed. "He loves you more than anything and if you don't come back, it will kill him. I know Bella. I know what it's like to lose your dream and Edward's dream isn't fightin' and being a winner. It's you. So please, for his sake, come back with me and help me make this right." I gazed into his eyes and saw his sincerity; he believed what he was saying. "Why did you come find me?" "BecauseI could never live with myself if I knew I was the reason for his misery and yours. You may hate me now Bella, but I'll always be here to help you and have your back. I'm an asshole and I make mistakes. I've been unreasonable all my life and afterafter Alice "You see, you and I aren't so different. I know that look in your eyes darlin' and it's fear. I got it too. Not fear of dying but fear of living. Fear of feeling

again. "I don't know what happened to you and I'm not going to act like it was nothin', but I know enough to know that whatever happened to you before you met Edward won't mean a damn thing to that man. He loves who you are now." I choked out a sob and nodded my head as he wrapped his long arms around me and held me tight. "Now, let's get you outta this shit storm and back to your man." I laughed and he picked me up easily, walking me over to his truck. He slid me into the front seat and buckled me up before I could protest. We drove in comfortable silence, and at a particularly long red light I heard him sigh. "You will tell him what you're hiding, right?" I felt my back stiffen and I nodded resolutely. "I'll tell him. I justI need to find the right time, you know? The right way." "Yeah, I understand. Again, I'm sorry for last night. I lost it and I know sorry doesn't cut it but I am, and I want you to know that if you need anything, I'm here." "You didn't even have to say sorry Jasper, there was never anything to forgive." He took my hand and squeezed it and I smiled back at him before we pulled in front of the apartment. I sucked in a huge breath and tried to focus myself. "I can't do it. I can't go back in there." "Yes, you can. Fuck, if I can go back in thereyou can go back in there." "We'll go in together." "Together." He picked me up out of the truck and we went inside out of the rain. Instead of taking the elevator like I thought we would, he carried me up the stairs. I had a feeling he felt like punishing himself so I didn't say anything. I just prayed he wouldn't drop me. We made our way up to Edward's apartment where Alice was busy pacing the floor in the living room. She let out a strangled cry when she saw me. "Oh sweet Jesus! Thank God! Edward has been gone all fucking night! He keeps calling to see if you've come back here! You're soaking wet what the hell happened to your feet? Hell, Bella" She stopped when Jasper, still carrying me, walked past her and followed us into the bathroom. Jasper of course took control of the situation promptly. "Alice, sweetheart, go get me a bowl from the kitchen would you?" She watched him begin to unwrap my feet and then scurried out to get the bowl. "I'm going to clean this up, then you're going to get a hot shower and I'll dress it when you get out, okay?" I nodded dumbly at him, and patiently watched as he took the bowl from Alice and filled it with warm water. He walked over to the medicine cabinet and pulled out a small first aid kit, plucked some ointment from it and a washcloth from the cabinet, before returning to kneel in front of me and wash my feet. It stung when he scrubbed lightly over the soles. He had to dump the water out several times and refill it with fresh water before my feet were clean. I was too tired and drained to care about the irony of him washing my feet. "Okay, shower time. I'll be right outside waiting for you, okay?" Again, I nodded as he backed out of the bathroom and left me alone. I stripped off my wet clothes slowly, making a note to wash Jasper's jacket, and yanked on the water, turning it to just the right temperature before stepping under the spray and shuddering. I washed my hair thoroughly and scrubbed my body until it was bright pink before getting out. Alice had left me a set of my sweats and bless her, one of Edward's shirts on the counter along with panties. I slipped them on and squeezed the excess water from my hair. My reflection in the mirror looked foreign. My face was swollen from crying and while my cheeks were pink and my eyes were red, the rest of me was ash white. I felt thin and pale, and my facial features looked too big for my head. I groaned when I heard the knock at the door. "Come in, Jasper." Before I could see him enter I turned and plopped down on the toilet, refusing to lift my head up for him to see. Silently, he knelt before me and picked up my foot and inspected it. "Christ, Bella."

My head shot up and I looked at Edward. His eyes were red and his hair was flying everywhere, looking more of a dark reddish brown than it's normal bright auburn. He looked older than he usually did. Tentatively, he reached up to touch my cheek. "Bella" "Don't. Please, I'm sorry. I justI couldn't" "Shhhhh" He pulled me into his arms, seating me in his lap on the floor and rocking me. "What happened to your feet?" "I wasn't wearing shoes when I left. I wasn't thinking." "Babywhere did you go?" "Um, to the harbor, I justended up there." He nodded and rocked me, clutching me tightly to his chest and murmuring that I was okay. Slowly, he reached up to the counter and grabbed the tube of antiseptic, gauze, and tape and began to care for my feet.

What the hell is it with the gauze and tape? Am I missing something with this shit here?
Shaking my head, I watched as his long fingers rubbed the cream into my heel and then the balls of my feet where most of the skin had been shredded. I cringed when he hit a soft spot and he kissed my temple in apology. Once he had both of my feet bandaged, he picked me up and carried me to bed, tucking me in before shucking his clothes and climbing in with me. "Don't be mad at Jazz." He sighed heavily before squeezing my back to his chest. "I'm mad at him. I can't be anything else right now. I know Jasper better than he thinks. I won't stay mad at him but for right now, he's lucky I don't put him in the hospital for that little stunt he pulled." I nodded, pacified that there wasn't enough damage done to ruin their friendship. "You're still going to train with him right?" "Yes, Bella. Don't worry about that. Just go to sleep, baby. You've had a long day." I snuggled into the down comforter and he tightened his hold on me before I fell asleep, still holding onto the guilt.

I thread my fingers through her hair softly as the morning light began to filter in through the curtains. Glancing at the clock, it was almost ten in the morning. It's been a week since Jasper had his little episode. A week of Bellanot acting like Bella.

When Alice ran in to tell me that Bella wasn't in the building I panicked. She was gone. My chest constricted to the point where I almost began to hyperventilate and the adrenaline coursed through me like a second source of blood. The only thing in my mind was that she was gone and I panicked. I drove and looked for her on the sidewalks, freaking out more and more as I realized that she could be anywhere and anything could have happened to her. Gasping in short breaths, my vision narrowing to look for her, I was shaking with repressed rage. She couldn't have fucking left. She knows what it would do to me and fuck Jasper, I was going to tell her I love her and now she's gone.
So when Alice called me and told me that Jasper had walked through the door with Bella, I made an illegal U-turn while breaking several other traffic laws getting back to the apartment. As I walked in, I stopped his attempts at an apology with a raised hand. "You brought her back. That's enough for right now. Get out." He just nodded and left. I made my way into the bedroom and I heard the shower cut off. I tried to wait patiently for her to come out. After five minutes, I couldn't wait any longer and knocked. I opened the door and when I saw her feet, my fists clenched in frustration. I wanted to track Jasper down and break his ribs. Instead, I cleaned up her feet, bandaged them and put her to bed. I knew she was tired and frankly, so was I. I resolved internally that it was probably best to tell her that I loved her when we woke up. Except she wasn't there when I woke up, she'd left a note telling me that she went out for groceries. That was how the week started for me. Bella avoided being alone with me at all costs and soon the epic urgency to tell her that I loved her died. She was pulling away from me and I didn't know how to stop it. Today was the first day that I had off and was awake before her. She looked exhausted. I traced my fingertips over the blue shadows under her eyes. She didn't wake up but snuggled deeper into the crook of my arm. In her sleep she clung to me, but when she was awake she avoided me. I sighed and resumed stroking her hair. I would have to talk to her about it today. There was no avoiding it. I had to figure this out before it got out of hand.

After about an hour of dozing, I felt her start to shift and knew she was close to waking up. I looked down just as her eyes fluttered open. "Morning, baby." She blinked at me. "Morning. What time is it?" "Around eleven, I wanna stay in today and just be lazy with you." I could see the discomfort start as she darted her eyes around the room looking for an escape.

Good luck with that one sweetheart.

"Bella, what's wrong? You've been distant all week." "I justI don't knowafter Jaspereverything he saidI just feel..." The realization struck me like fucking lightning. In the week that I had been trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with her and what happened when she left, I'd never thought about what happened before she left. I knew Jasper was wrong but I hadn't told her that. I rolled over her and took her face in my hands. "Bella, baby, God, I'm sorry. Look, what Jasper saidI don'tI don't believe any of that shit. I know you. I know who you are and I know all that bull he was saying was a lie. He was trying to connect the dots to shit that wasn't there. I know you would never do anything like that and he does too but he just gotcrazy for a while. No one really believes those things, alright? Don't pull away from me because of this. Don't think I believe any of that. It's bullshit Bella, and if I thought any of it were true I would not be here right now. You have the best heart I have ever seen, out of all of us you are the best, baby and I know that." Her eyes filled with tears and she had a look of anguish on her face. "Please don't say that." She started to suck in quick breaths and I knew a sob was going to break loose soon. "Please, EdwardI'm not what you think I am. I'm not" "What are you trying to say, Bella? That Jasper was right?" "No! Yes! I mean no! I didn't do those things he said, but I'm not a good person and I will end up hurting youI'm not good for you, Edward." "Fuck that Bella. Fuck that. You're here. I want you here. Do you know what I was like before I met you? Do you know how happy I am now? No, fuck that. Don't let him do that. Don't let anyone make you think that. You are a good person. You are my goodness. You have to see that. Jesus, I can'tI can't even make the words come out" I was fucking pissed off. Releasing her face, I fisted the sheets on either side of her head and breathed deeply. The warm smell of Bella filtered up my nostrils and down into my lungs. I pressed my face against her collarbone and inhaled again. It was calming me down. I could hear her heart beating and her chest shaking with her tears. "Please, stop crying, baby. Please, justGod, don't think that. Don't ever fucking think that. I've done shitty things in my life. I've turned my back on my family and I've been less than honest about getting to where I am. And fuck, some days I do think you deserve better than me but I'm not letting you go. I fucking need you and I know you need me back. We both feel it Bella, I know you feel it too. So don't talk like that. Please, you talking like thatI can't lose you." The panic I felt when she'd left last weekend poured over me as I clutched her to me. I couldn't afford to lose my head right now but it was too hard imagining her gone. Something so fucking amazing was in my life and to just have it gone was making me ill. "EdwardI can'tI don't want to leave" "Then don't. Don't ever leave. Just stay here and whatever happens, whatever upsets you - I'll fix it. I'll make you happy Bella, just give me a chance to and I'll make everything perfect. Just give me some time." "It's not that easy, you can't just make it okay, especially when I'm the one all fucked up" "Jesus, fucking stop it with that shit. There is nothing wrong with you!" I pushed off the bed and grabbed my shirt, yanking it on and stalking out into the living room before turning right back around and walking back into the bedroom.

Didn't think one through did you?

"What the fuck are you afraid of? Me? Us? What? Why do you keep pulling away from me? Just tell me what's going on. I'll wait forever; I'll try for-fucking-ever, just tell me what it is."

Her eyes widened as she stared at me. My outburst had scared her and I felt the chill of remorse going up my back. I shouldn't have yelled but she was frustrating me to no end. I continued on in a softer voice to make amends. "I just, I feel like everything is okay. We're doing so well and then something little happens, something minor and you fall apart. I'm not condemning you for it because I'm the same way. I just want to know what you want me to do. I want to help, I want to be there. Jesus, we never talk about our past. I want to talk about it. I want to know what the fuck happened to you. I want all of you, the good, the bad, the shitty days, the fighting, the PMS all of it. Because I want to love you and I want to be with you. I want to know what is eating you up inside. Let me fix this. Let me make the hurt go away." "Edwardthere are some thingsthat I want to tell you but I just can't right now. I'm trying so hard to figure this out and when I do I'll let you know but right now, I just can't. It's something I have to deal with and when I do figure it out I'll tell you, justdon't push this from me." I looked at her. I stared at her. I tried to see everything I could. Would she leave? Was she going to leave? "Youyou can't leave like that again, Bella. You can't justleave like that. I can't handle that." "I'm sorry." She whispered. I wanted to go and hold her and say that fuck, if she left it was cool; I would deal with that. But I couldn't because I wouldn't be able to deal with it. I would die on the inside. I turned and walked out of the bedroom and into my office to sit down and just think about this shit. Before Bella there wasplain, boring life. There was monotony and detailed structure. Wake up, train, eat, sleep, repeat. And now, there was color and laughter, and fuck there was love. I wanted to tell her I love her but not because I wanted her to stay. I didn't need to make it sound like I wanted to trap her here with me. When I left my parents home over seven years ago I was angry, spiteful, and just plain pissed off at everyone. At my mother for re-marrying. At Carlisle for replacing my father. I was not a Cullen, I was a Masen. And fuck if I was going to just roll over and forget my father like that. I hated them both for it. Everything made me angry. Being poor, being hungry, being lost, being alone; it all pissed me off. Jasper gave me an outlet but it was still there. I didn't belong with my family and now, I have Bella. She's my family and I was losing her. I wasn't angry anymore. I wasn't looking for a way to expel all those frustrations anymore. Bella became my focus and my normalcy. Bella. Bellathe sole of the issue here. She's hiding something, that's clear enough. While there is nothing she could say that would make me want her any less, it's beginning to wear me down. At first, I understood. She couldn't really trust me, so while I wanted to know, I wasn't going to push because I understood. Now, my patience is wearing thin and I'm getting annoyed, which of course pissed me off even more because I didn't want to be annoyed. I wanted to stay in the understanding area.

I leaned forward and cradled my head in my hands while taking deep, slow breaths. I would need to think ahead. I would need to plan. I understood that if I was going to persuade Bella to stay with me I would need to offer her a stable life, a life where the chance of me becoming a vegetable in the hospital was no longer a worry. Knowing that I could not be a fighter forever was not something that was new to me. I knew I would have to do something else with me life soon. I toyed with the idea of going back to school, getting a degree and working some nine to five job. I thought about all the things in life that had mattered to me at some point. Going to law school like my father, being a pianist like Esme wanted me to be. But my hands were no good for the ivory anymore and being a lawyer now seemed tedious. This world was all that I knew. Fighting, training, working my body until I wanted to just drop was all I was good at anymore. I need to make a change; a change that started with making arrangements. I quickly tabulated all the money I had tied up in savings. I could possibly make it two to three years in school without needing to take out a loan, and I knew Bella only had one more semester to graduate. She'd told me she had to drop out because her financial-aid ran out and she couldn't afford another semester's tuition and fees. She could start again next fall while I wrapped up with The Ring, then I could figure out what I wanted to do; becoming a lawyer just didn't hold the same appeal to me that it once had. It was shaping up to be a good plan. Now, I only needed to finagle her into letting me pay her tuition for her last semester.

Celebratory graduation sex is your ultimate goal.

I smirked, liking this plan and its goal. Bella bouncing on my lap while she wore nothing but that stupid cap on her head was firing me up. Glancing at the clock on the desk, I realized I had been holed up in here for almost an hour. I needed to go back out there and do damage control but before I could even stand up the door cracked open and Bella peeked in the office. "Can I come in?" "Of course." She pushed the door open and timidly walked in, setting a plate of breakfast in front of me and a glass of milk. I had flashbacks to the morning I first saw her. "Come here, baby."

I pulled her into my lap and picked up my fork, eating with her cuddled up to me. "Edward, I'm sorry. I want you to know that I want to talk to you about everything, but I just need some more time, you know?" I knew. I understood how things could be complicated and from what I did know of Bella's past, she hadn't had more than six months to deal with whatever she was running from. "When you're ready, I want you to come to me." "I will." The mood seemed lighter. I had her in my arms and things were going back to some semblance of normalcy. "What do you want to do today?" "Um, well here's the thing. I have to go out with Alice, she wants to go shopping with me and Rose." "What for?" "Um, I made her a deal. I would go shopping with her if she let me pick out the costumes." I gulped. This sounded sickly familiar. "Costumes?" "Halloween costumesfor the partyat The Ringthat Emmett is throwing."

"Do I want to know this year's theme?" "It's not so bad." "You sound like Emmett last year." She laughed, hopped off me and ran into the bedroom. Fucking Halloween.

Bella might dress slutty.

Then again, the trick might be better than the treat this year.

October 31
I glanced down at my outfit one more time before looking back in the mirror and snagging my hat off the dresser. I was feeling pretty good in it. Twisting and turning, I looked at my reflection before putting on the fedora and cocking it to the side. Black slacks with off-white pin stripes, a black long sleeved oxford shirt with a white silk tie and white suspenders. I was lookin' fresh. The black fedora had a white ribbon around the crown and all together, I was feeling good about this year's Halloween theme when it came to my side of the get up. Pimps and whores throughout the decades. Of course Emmett was the creator of that idea. Bella chose our costumes and I had yet to see hers. She was still in the bathroomprimping, I guess. I again glanced in the mirror and was impressed with the overall feel of the costume.

If this gives me any idea as to what Bella's going to be wearing, I'm in trouble.
I sighed and sat on the bed, waiting. It's been four months and eleven days since Bella walked into my life. Or 11,491,200 seconds, 191,520 hours, 19 weeks, 133 days. However you wanted to say it. It's been a hell of a time. Just over four months ago, I was a different man. I had different values and a different disposition towards life. I had a short fuse and a bland existence. Just over four months ago, I was someone I never wanted to be again. Ever since Jasper's major fuckup and the argument that Bella and I had, things were looking up. Training was strained at first but after some heavy sparring with Jasper, a few dirty hits, and him basically letting me kick the shit out him, we got back into our normal groove of things. Tonight was about having fun and forgetting our major problems. I got the go ahead from Jasper who said I could get wasted tonight if I felt like it, and I planned on getting both Bella and I sauced before coming home and having amazing drunk sex.

Don't judge me.

Emmett, in true Emmett-style, invited everyone he knew as well as extending an open invitation to the guys who frequented the gym. I had no doubt it would be packed in there tonight. I glanced at the clock on the nightstand, musing over the theme of the night. Pimps and whores. Bella had pointedly refused to be a whore, so she claimed we were doing something a bit 'old-school'. My attention was grabbed when the bathroom door clicked open and then widened to reveal my torment for the night.

Holy. Fucking. Mother. Of. God.

Bella stepped out wearing a charcoal gray flapper dress. Stringy, fringe-y things were shaking everywhere and her hair was pulled up, resting at the nape of her neck and resembling some sort of bob. She had a matching sequined headband on, a long string of white pearls that wrapped around her neck like a choker and hung down to her waist and black shoes that looked dangerously tall. Black, silky stockings went up for miles until my eyes came to the hem of her dress and I swear to god I saw the clip of a garter belt when she shifted. She cleared her throat and I looked up at her face. Blood red lips and smokey eyes, her skin looked luminous. "Um, wow. I uhlet's stay here tonight." I smiled stupidly at her laughter.

I think it's a good idea.

"You look handsome." "Bella, are you wearing garters?" "I'm not telling, and you're not finding out until we get back home." "Dammit. Fine. Aren't you supposed to be a whore?" "I'm a nineteen twenties whore." "Flapper girls weren't whores." "They are tonight." I called a cab and helped her into her coat. We left after I tried, unsuccessfully, to reach my hand up her skirt. The Ring was just as I expected - loud, already packed, and a powder keg ready to explode. I did not relish being her for very long. I checked in our coats and made sure to keep a tight grip on her hand. Through the smoke and strobe lights, I saw there were people all over the place. Women dressed likewell, whores and far too many men with large hats and gold jewelry. Tupac's All Eye's on Me was blaring out of several speakers set up around the annex. "Eddie! Bells!" Turning, we saw Emmett swaying with Rose by his side. He was holding court on the ring's platform where a DJ had set up stand. I laughed when I saw his costume. He wore tore up jeans and a wife beater with holes in it, fake money poking out of his pockets and heavy gold chains around his neck with dollar signs on them. As I got closer, I noticed that his wife beater had "My pimp hand be way strong!" written on it in Sharpie and a black beanie nuggly fit over his head. Rolling my eyes, I caught his hand in the universal man greeting and twirled Bella, showing her off. "Bizzella! You are not dressed like a whore! I demand that you change into something worthy of a pimp's eyes. You will get no business dressed like a prude." He yelled while throwing candy at us. "I'm a nineteen twenties whore, Emmett. This is as racy as we getand don't call me Bizzella." He scoffed but smiled at her. Rose looked around the crowd in slight agitation but she seemed to be having a pretty good time. I didn't know her very well and had hardly spoken a handful of words to her, but Bella seemed to tolerate her so I had nothing to say. She was dressed in a barelythere dark blue dress that hardly covered her ass or her tits. Her blonde hair spilling down her back and her makeup was over done. "Alright, bizzles, we are all here now. The party can officially start up in my hizzouse!" Emmett's loud, boisterous voice echoed even through the bass pumping. Rose rolled her eyes but smiled at him. She must like children. Jasper sauntered up and kissed Bella on the cheek. I glared at him and noticed the brown slacks he was wearing with a plain white t-shirt and brown suspenders. He wore a matching fedora with a red feather. "You look lovely, darlin'." He drawled. I was still glaring at him and he smirked at me.

"Thank you, Jasper." She said but glared at Emmett. Alice came prancing up, carrying two drinks. She was wearing bright red hot pants, a cut-off shirt and red platformed sandals. She and Jasper were channeling Taxi Driver apparently. She handed one of the drinks to Bella, who looked up at me with questioning eyes. "It's cool; I'm drinking, too. We took a cab, remember?" Suddenly the music switched and Shoulder Lean came on. Alice squealed and grabbed both Bella and Rose, towing them over to the dance floor. Bella laughed and I grinned at her as she tossed her hands up and danced with Alice while trying not to spill her drink. Emmett flagged down a girl taking drink orders and got us rounds of vodka. We talked with random gym patrons and some of Emmett's investor buddies who were club hopping and decided to drop by. "How much is this costing you?" I yelled at Emmett over the music. "Did you see the way Rose was dressed? Like I give a shit but honestly, a pretty penny." He answered with a grin. I kept cutting my eyes to Bella on the dance floor, making sure I had her in sight. I would check every time the song changed. By my seventh shot of vodka, she was grinding against Alice to Show Me What You Got. After their third glass of scotch, all three of them were huddled together laughing and dancing to Shwayze's Buzzin'. I watched her as Alice took her to the make shift bar and laughed quietly when she made a face after throwing back a shot. By the second glass of rum and coke, I looked around and couldn't see her at all. Fighting the panic, I craned my head around looking for her pale skin and coffee hair. When I finally caught a glimpse of her, my blood ran cold and my hand shot out to grip Emmett's arm. He stopped mid-sentence to question me. "What the fuck are" But his eyes had found mine and shifted to what I was staring at. I was going to kill him. I was going to fucking rip his god-damned hands off his body and shove them down his throat. There was going to be a closed casket service for Jacob Black.

I was feeling loopy. Alice had pumped me full of alcohol and I was having a fucking blast. We danced and we danced and we laughed and then danced some more. I couldn't dance for shit, but this seemed easy enough. You just moved your hips back and forth and tossed your hands in the air and you were fine. Alice and I had a good time making a show of ourselves. Rose was standoffish at first, but joined in eventually. I couldn't remember the last time I had danced or even been to a party like this. Despite the over abundance of men in the place ogling me, I didn't have any issues. Something told me that had to do with Edward. I felt like wherever I walked in with him, I earned a wide berth. The fact that Alice and Rose were also here with me and had captured the attention of Emmett and Jasper, made us a triple threat to anyone who wanted to cop a feel. I didn't want to admit to my enthusiasm for rap but had a hard time when Rick Ross' Hustlin' came on. Alice sang along with me as we rapped out the lyrics with Rose laughing at us when we declared that we were, in fact, 'the fuckin' boss!' We had our turn to laugh at her though when she sang along to the chorus of Jay-Z's Hard Knock Life. It was really fun being able to just let loose and act stupid with friends. I felt another wave of alcohol and swayed against Rose who shot her hands up and steadied me. "I think you might have had enough." I nodded and she smiled kindly at me. I was really starting to like Rose. She wasn't so bad after all. "I'm going to find Edward. I wanna kiss." She laughed and shook her head. "You do that." I squared my shoulders and spun around to find him. I wanted to kiss dammit and I was going to. The problem now was that after Alice had me running all around with her, I wasn't quite sure where I was in the Annex. It was dark and the strobe lights were confusing me.

Which way to the ring again? Fuck.

I scanned the room hoping for some sort of landmark that would tell me where I was, but that was a no go. I had one option and that was to just walk around until I either found Edward or knew where I was and had a point of reference. Stumbling a bit on the ridiculous shoes I let Alice talk me into wearing, I finally made my way to the bar.

Okay, so from here, Edward should be

Huffing in frustration I turned to the person next to me and tapped their shoulder. "Umm, excuse me, can you tell me which way to the ring? I lost someone." As soon as the words left my mouth and he turned around, I wanted to die. It was James' trainer.

But instead of the normal flight instinct, I stupidly stood there just staring at him. "Bella, right?" I just nodded at him. The one night I decide to drink, shit would just have to happen. I said a silent prayer but the twisting in my gut told me I had just made a very bad mistake. "You know what, never mind. I'm sorry, forget I said anything." I think I slurred. I turned to escape but his hand gently tugged at my wrist and I stumbled backwards.

Stupid fucking shoes. Stupid fucking alcohol.

"Whoa! It seems like you might have had a little too much to drink." "Thank you, Captain Obvious. Now let me go." My words were definitely slurred that time. "Look, I'm sorry. I know you don't like me but I'd like to introduce myself and maybe make up for some of the shitty things James and King have done. I'm Jacob Black." "Shitty? Shitty? Telling people that someone has herpes is shitty. Lying to your friends is shitty. Not leaving a tip at a restaurant is shitty. Beating a man and leaving him for dead is fucked up. Drugging the same man and then sending him in to fight with a sober guy, is just fucking wrong. Shitty? Fuck you." He gaped at me for a moment before looking down. I had not forgotten that he still had my wrist in his hand. "Let. Me. Gooooo." "Just let me apologize. I'm sorry. I didn't mean for anyone to get hurt. I never even knew that shit happened until it was already done." "I don't care. You're friends with those assholes so technically, you're to blame too." "I'm not friends with them. I train James and King pays me. That's it." "Whatever, I don't really want to talk to you." "Please, I just want to be friends." I stared at him. Was he out of his mind? Friends, really? I shook my head and then yanked my hand but he wouldn't let go. "This is getting really old now." Great, now I was whining. He pressed his lips together and thought for a moment. "Look, let me buy you a drink. That's all. Just one drink." "No." "Please, all I'm askin' for is a minute of your time." I stared up into his eyes and sighed. "Fine. One drink. Then I'm fucking gone." He smiled brightly and turned to the bar tender, my wrist still in his hand. "A sunrise for the lady!" The bartender nodded and winked at me before starting in on the drink. I rolled my eyes and yanked on my hand again. "Will you fucking let me go?" "If I do will you promise not to bolt?"

"No." "Then no, I won't let go. I just want a chance to explain myself. I don't like that you don't like me." "Well, no amount of explaining is going to fix that." "I didn't know what they were going to do. I have to keep this job. My dad's hospital bills are killing me. He had a stroke a few years ago and he's in a wheel chair now. I don't expect your sympathy but this pays well. It pays enough that I don't have to send my dad to some shitty home somewhere and I have good hours so I can be with him. Please, I had no idea what they were going to do or I would have stopped them, or warned Emmett." I looked into his pleading eyes and believed him. I was never too trusting of people but he seemed genuinely upset about this and fuck, maybe it was the alcohol but I felt like being generous. "Why are you still with King then?" "I need the money. I won't get paid like this anywhere else. If it weren't for my dad, I would bag groceries. I don't give a shit about what I do. But he's my father." I felt a pang in my chest for him. He didn't seem that old, maybe twenty three and it was sad that he had to take care of his father like that.

The booze are making you emotional.

"Alright, so say I believe you. So what? You're still James' trainer. You were still a dick to me at the fight." "I'm sorry for that, too. I was with some of the other guys and I hate to say this but I act out around them." "Fine. You've made you're apologies." An uncomfortable silence floated around us as I tried to tug my wrist free again. "You look nice." "You lookwhy are you dressed like an Indian?" "Ummm, well. Don't freak out. James is here. He decided to stop in last minute. I'm assuming he went to find your boy and Emmett. I have no control over him, I'm just his fucking lackey." "Fuck. Let me go. I have to find Edward, he might get into a fight." He shook his head and loosened his grip on my wrist but didn't let go. "James is wasted. There is no way he would fight tonight. He's good at talking shit when he's drunk but he's not in any condition to be throwing a punch." "So why are dressed like an Indian?" He looked down and I could see the shame on his face. "James made me. He thought it would be funny. Asshole's been calling me Tonto all fucking night. He's dressed like some Dynasty cowboy. I fucking hate this job and everything that goes along with it." I felt shitty for him. He was made fun of and put down. How did he manage to train James when he was obviously the butt of jokes? "I'm sorry they make fun of you." He shook his head and grinned at me. "Hey, I got to buy a pretty lady a drink tonight, so I can't complain." His eyes twinkled again and he grinned at me. He looked so young. The bartender slid the drink down and Jacob went to hand it to me when it was knocked from his grip. I was pulled back quickly and Jacob's hand tightened down on my wrist causing me to yank forward at the last second. "Drop her hand, now." Edward's gruff voice spoke over my head and I craned my neck to the side to peer up at him. He had shed his blazer but the fedora was still there. We would be having sex with that on later. I was still buzzed and seeing his angled jaw made my attention span dwindle down to seconds. As soon as my wrist was dropped, I slid my arms up around his neck. "I found you! I was looking for you and I got lost. It's really dark in here! I found Jacob and now you found me!" Edward looked down at me and his eyes softened up.

"How much have you had to drink?" "Umm, I dunno? Alice wanted to do lots of shots 'cause Jasper does them and she wants to do them, too." He rolled his eyes and I looked back at his jaw which was right in front of my face. I leaned forward and attached my lips to his throat, moaning at the saltiness of his skin. His arm tightened around my waist and his right hand came up to brace the back of my neck, holding me to him. I smiled and nipped at his skin as his fingers threaded into the hair at the base of my neck. "Black." I pulled away confused. What was black? I was sucking on his neck and he was reciting colors? He was grinning smugly at something over my head.

What the fuck? This is kissy time! Kissy time with ME...look at ME!
Emmett's hulking body edged up next to Edward and Alice, Rose, and Jasper materialized out of the throng of dancing bodies. I felt dizzy when the strobe light began to pulse faster. This shit was turning into some kind of dream sequence and I was not liking it. "Edward. I don't feel good." He looked back down at me and released his grip on my neck to touch my cheek. "You gonna be sick?" "No, my head justfeels weird. My stomach feels fine." He nodded. "Go with Rose and Alice. I need to talk to Black." I stupidly looked back at Jacob and realized that he was the monochrome that Edward was speaking of. "No. I wanna stay here. Hey! He said that James the cowboy was here." "What?" "James is the cowboy and he's Tonto." Edward barked out a laugh and glanced up at Jacob who was rubbing his neck awkwardly. Emmett was peering around the crowd no doubt looking for James. "Is King here as well?" Emmett asked. "No, he isn't and he advised for James to stay away too but you know how he gets." Jacob answered. Edward pulled me into his side and stiffened. I looked up at his face. He looked mean. "Give me a good reason why I shouldn't fuck you up for touching her." "I was apologizing. I didn't mean to offend anyone." "Bella, go with Alice." "She's not a dog. You can't order her around." Jacob sneered. "Bella, go with Alice, now." I huffed and wrapped my arms around his waist. "You said we were going to have a good time tonight. No fighting."

Whiny, Whiny, Whiny...

"She's right, Edward, it's not worth it." Jasper interjected. I preened on his agreement and tried to shoot Edward a satisfied smirk except he was getting that splotchy, red and white, look again.

Quickdistract him!
So, in my drunken haze, which was getting thicker by the minute, I reached down and cupped Edward's dick in my hand. He jumped and his wide eyes looked down at me. I bit my lip and blushed but before I could get too upset about it Outkast's Hey Ya came on and I started to sing and jump next to Edwardwith my handstill on his dick.

You justI didn't mean for you tohahahahahaha.

"My baby don't mess around because she loves me so and this I know for shooo! Uh! But does she really wanna but can't stand to see me walk

out the dooor! Don't try to fight the feelin' cause the thought alone is killing me right nooow! Uh! Thank God for mom and dad for sticking two together cause we don't know hooow...!UH! Heeeeey Yaaaaa!" "Bella, what are you doing?" He was definitely amused. "Distracting you?" Emmett laughed and Jasper snickered while Rose and Alice visibly cringed. So I'm not smooth, so what. He's not splotchy anymore. "I think it's time to take you home, baby. Black, we'll have words about this later. Find youruhh cowboy and leave." Jacob winced and nodded, backing away but before he could blend into the crowd shouting began, freezing us all. "TONTO! Where is my Tonto?" James came swaggering up next to us. He was swaying and laughing wildly. "Tonto! There you are." James was dressed in tight black jeans, black boots, a red shirt with white embroidery, and a black cowboy hat. He had on a fake holster belt with cap guns slung around his narrow hips. Grinning, he slung an arm around Jacob's shoulders and sloshed his beer. "Stop calling me Tonto." Jacob sneered. "Oh hell, get a sense of humor. You are the Tonto to my Clint Eastwood." James slurred. "That makes absolutely no sense. Tonto was with The Lone Ranger, which was stupid because if he had Tonto, he was no longer alone." I could see Jacob loosing his patience. I still felt kinda bad for him. I giggled at Jacob and Edward squeezed me tighter as Cupid's Chokehold came over the speakers. I swayed and sang the first verse to Edward who I could tell was trying not to laugh and ignore me. They were all standing around just staring at each other. Emmett stepped forward to head off the confrontation. I leaned up and went back to sucking on Edward's neck. He smelled like liquor and limes. "Alright, both of you need to leave, this is my party and you weren't invited." James smirked at Emmett but it was quickly dropped when Jasper closed the distance and stood calmly beside him. "I think it would be in your best interest to leave. Now." I actually stopped my wandering eyes to look at Jasper. He really was scary calm. Glancing back at Edward to gauge his reaction to the whole thing, I noticed a nice red hickey on his neck and had to laugh. Good thing everyone was ignoring me. Well everyone but Jacob. I turned and saw him looking at me with sad eyes. "Blackyou're pushing it." Edward's voice pitched low and I got shivers from it. "I wanna go home now, Edward." I swear I tried for it to come out sounding sexy but I think I was leaning more toward whiny and annoying. He looked over at Emmett who nodded in some kind of guy code and they all walked James and Jacob out the door. I trailed behind Edward who had my hand in an iron grip while Alice had my other hand and Rose had hers. We were a human train moving towards the exits. Edward grabbed our coats and began handing them out. He took the time to button me up and kissed my forehead before gripping me firmly to his side once again and ushering us out the door. Everyone else stayed behind and Alice made sure to let me know, very loudly, that she would tell me all about the rest of the night tomorrow. I watched as Edward dialed for a cab, fascinated with his fingers as they cradled the phone to his ear. "Edward" He looked at me with a raised eyebrow as he gave them the address. "I wanna go home and sex you up." His eyes widened and that stupid grin spread over his mouth. "Okay." "Okay? I just told you I wanna sex you up and all I get is an okay? Are you drunk?"

"I'm a little tipsy, yeah." "Will you still be able toperform?" His eyebrows shot up and a frown graced his face. "Bella, darling, I can perform shit faced and blacked out and just for that little comment, I'm going to exaggerate how well I can perform while intoxicated."

I grinned and hopped up and down but stopped after a minute when my shoes pinched. A cab pulled up and Edward all but tossed me inside before giving the driver our destination. While unbuttoning the bottom of my coat, he leaned over to whisper in my ear. "So, are you wearing garters?" "Yes, but I'm not wearing any panties" "Extra fifty if you get us there in five minutes." The cab jerked and we turned down a residential road before swinging back out onto the main. When we arrived at the apartment, Edward threw the cabbie a hundred and hauled me up the steps without looking back. I giggled and laughed as he punched the button on the elevator. Just as the doors slid shut, I was pressed against the cold metal and his lips were on my throat, his hands on my knees, sliding up and up and up "Jesus, you weren't lying." I laughed and palmed his hard cock, stroking softly as I licked his ear. "Mmmm, you taste so good." "Fuck" I was airborne for a moment before I registered my legs wrapped around his waist and his hard-on grinding into my crotch. Edward grasped my neck and angled me so that he could kiss me. We were frantic and needy, pushing and pulling, yanking and grinding. When the doors began to slide open he pulled me back and walked forward, down the hallway before pressing me against the door and fishing in his pocket for the keys. I assaulted his neck and yanked roughly on the silk tie, wanting more ground to cover. The door swung open and we stumbled inside. Edward slammed the door shut and flicked the dead bolt before carrying me into the dark apartment and straight to the bedroom. He dumped me onto the bed and began unbuttoning the rest of the coat before pushing it off my shoulders. I stood and gripped the edges of the dress and pulled it over my head, tossing it behind Edward's back. I was glad for the alcohol induced flush or he would know I was blushing. The black and white lace bra I was wearing was extremely revealing. I felt the cold pearls against my chest and stomach as they slowly swayed and the cool air on my wet thighs. Reaching up, I yanked off the head band and then turned my attention to his clothing. I peeked up at his face and noticed that his eyes were glazed and trained on my breasts. Once his jacket was peeled off and his tie was loosened, he snapped to and crushed me against him. I rubbed my breasts against his chest, desperately fumbling with the buttons needing to feel his skin against mine. He pulled away for a quick moment and grasped the edges of his shirt and yanked it open, thread ripping and buttons flying.

Damn, that was expensive toooh well.

His fingers fisted around his belt and wrenched it free, yanking it hard out of the belt loops before discarding it. I sat on the bed and shimmied forward, making quick work of the button and fly, yanking his pants and boxers down with one movement. As he reached to pull off the hat, I grasped his wrist and shook my head. "Leave it on, please..." He smirked and pushed me back on the bed, crawling over me, kissing my shoulders and rubbing his hands up and down my sides. In a fluid movement, they slid under my back and my bra was sliding down my shoulders. "Jesus, you're beautiful." It was sweet and I really loved him for saying that but I was fucking hornyand justthrobbing for him. That hat was making me fucking impatient. "I need youright now." I panted. He slid into me in one firm stroke and I arched my back, wrapping my legs around him, and moaning. "Please"

"Please what baby? Tell me." "I'mnot playinggames tonight. Just fuck me." Grunting, he grabbed my left leg and hitched it over his shoulder, stroking my stocking clad calf and pulling himself up on his knees. I watched him, that hat cocked to the side and tilted down; hiding his eyes from me. My mind was fuzzy and my eyes drooped so low I could barely see him. His face contorted when the angle changed and before I could encourage him to continue he began drilling into me. Thrust after thrust, harder and faster, my moans progressed to soft screams. Every time I felt him completely inside me, the resistance, and the heat, my breath would hitch and I could feel myself getting closer to coming. "Youwerefuckingamazing.tonight." He punctuated every word with a thrust. "Sogoddamnbeautiful." I groaned and reached forward for him, my leg sliding down his arm, my knee hooked at his elbow. I clutched him to me as my orgasm hit. I cried out his name and rocked my hips wanting to prolong the feeling. I heard him mumbling something into my neck as he came inside me, the velvet edge of the fedora rubbing my ear. "Fuck, that was amazing." He groaned. "I believe you." He laughed and pulled back to rest off his knees between my legs. Slowly, he pulled my shoes off and then my stockings, along with the garter belt before I knocked his hat off his head. After we were tucked into bed, and my body was draped over his, I felt his breathing even out and his hands stilled on my back before I grinned into his chest and closed my own eyes. Tonight was good. I drank, got wasted, danced, and averted disaster, while still getting lucky. Everything was falling into place. Jasper and Edward were getting along, Rose was turning out to be a nice person, Alice and I were still cool and Edward was doing well in training. So why did I feel like something horrible was about to happen?

Oooooooo. dun dun DUN... Bella's women's intuition/spidey senses are going off...uh oh... Okay, so first of all. I know this took a while to update. I'm sorry for that. But I made up for it in length (10k+) and content (you got a lemon...be happy for that, it wasn't planned). NOTE: I AM DISABLING ANONYMOUS REVIEWS. I got some pretty creepy anon reviews. so yeah, my apologies to those who reviewed anonymously and were kind and supportive, but the creepy outweighed the nice. If you're going to be weird...i wanna know who u are... Also.

Don't PM me just to ask for updates. I understand, I do. But sending me a PM asking me why I haven't updated in "sooooooo" long and
demanding an update "right this second" honestly just pisses me off. I can't just pull this shit out of my ass okay? I don't write chapters and then sit on them to make you squirm. I honestly post as soon as I get it back from my beta. Trust me, it's not like I can just whip out over 10K worth of words in an hour. I enjoy writing. I don't like to rush myself because that just makes the chapter shitty. I put lots of thought and effort into every word. alright I'm over that now. So, mystery solved as to who finds Bella. Tons of you were pulling for Rose. I was surprised. Tons of you were thinking it was going to be Jacob, James, or King. I can see that...but wow. Everyone was so fucking worried. I almost felt bad for the cliffie and mind fuck AN from last chapter...almost. Big question now. Is Bella a bad guy? And when is she gonna spill the beans about her past? I'm going to address the "Tanto" thing. My beta says I should just let it go and stand by what I write, well I do, but this might save me time and the issue of having to respond to offended reviews. I stand behind writing it. It wasn't meant to be insulting toward's Native Americans...rather just make James look like a douche. For those of you who don't know...Tanto was a character from The Lone Ranger which was originally a radio series in the 1930's...yeah go figure, which evolved into a television program and then later I believe there were comic books... perhaps you will recall "Hi ho Silver and Away!" yeah, that's what that's from. My dad loves westerns...hence...I know about them. Eh, I'm not too thrilled with them in general. anyway, I really just wanted to use to a pop coulter reference. No offense was meant towards Native Americans.

Reviews...wow. I mean...you guys just...blindsided me with them. I had over 240 reviews...just for this one chapter. And here I was thinking that cliffies were pointless...Jesus...you guys just proved me wrong. Wow. thank you to everyone who reviewed. I started replying in the beginning but when I woke up and had like...120-ish reviews...only to keep climbing...I was overwhelmed. I did read them all and I appreciate every single one I get. I am terribly sorry if you didn't get a response but it was like wading further out into the sea and I'm sure you would all rather I worked on the chapter instead of responding to reviews anyway. I'm so fascinated with seeing how people react to this and how they think the plot will progress. I want to thank anyone and everyone who rec'd this story. Thanks a billion! If you love Fightward...and I think we all do...go check out this cute fic by jezzeria. It's called What In The Ward! It features popular -Wards from different fics. Here is the link...

so yeah, go check that shizzle out and drop her line letting her know you love Fightward. No, Fightward doesn't have an addiction to steroids...it's just fun. I want to give a big wet kiss to all the girls who frequent the SB forum. Cheddah (my super fantastic amazing sweet bitch of a beta), Lucy, Dawn, Aspen, Saranic, Araeo, and Gavi...sigh I love you all for being so fucking supportive and excited when I tease you and mind fuck you. You take my shit and give it right back. So, next update shouldn't be too long in the waiting...drama shall continue... If you liked the chapter, hated it, semi wanted to fuck it... Leave me some love...

*Chapter 15*: You Belong To Me

CHAPTER 15 EPOV YOU BELONG TO ME The Little Things- Danny Elfman
Have you heard the news? Bad things come in twos. But I never knew 'Bout the little things. Every single day Things get in my way. Someone has to pay For the little things. And I'm through with the stories And I'm sick to my shoes. And the walking and the talking, It's got nothing to do with The final solution. It's a box full of tricks. And I'm through with repairs When there's nothing to fix, When there's nothing to fix, When there's nothing to fix, And it all comes down to you. Let the headlines wait, Armies hesitate. I can deal with fate But not the little things. Armageddon may Arrive anyday. I can't get away From the little things. With a pile of cares And a bucket of tears, I could look at the sunlight And I feel no fear. With a mountain of maybes And some Icarus wings, And I'm armed with delusions And one little thing, And that one little thing, And that one little thing, And it all comes down to you.

Have you heard the news? Bad things come in twos.

But I never knew 'Bout the little things.

Every single day Things get in my way.

Someone has to pay For the little things. EPOV My muscles relaxed under the spray of hot water as I scrubbed the sweat and grime off. Today's training had gone well and I was back at my peak. Emmett was thrilled and Jasper was surprised that I had managed to bounce back so quickly. The steam of the shower swirled around me as I washed my hair and quickly rinsed. I was dried, dressed and heading out the door in less than ten minutes. Glancing at the time on my phone, I calculated that I had about forty-five more minutes before Bella got off work and I could drive us both home. I had been training nonstop since the Halloween party. I would leave early in the morning and return home to her already asleep. It had been weeks since we had been able to properly enjoy one another.

That's code for weeks of no sex.

I had major plans with her tonight that included us doing nothing...but each other. I grunted out a hello to a few of the guys filtering out of the annex and turned down the dimly lit hallway to Emmett's office. I entered the small room and saw Jasper perched on the desk; both of them were in the middle of what appeared to be a heated discussion. "Edward...we didn't expect you so soon." I narrowed my eyes at Jasper and turned to look at Emmett. He was generally easier to read. As I suspected, his eyes were trained on the phone in front of him, expertly avoiding my gaze. "Emmett?" "I just found out some news." "Someone spit out already." I ground out. I hated being coddled. "King has put a lot behind this match. He's gone as far as getting people in from New York, LA, and Vegas. They're all flying in to see what King has been going on about. They've sweetened the pot..." "How much?" "Five hundred thousand dollars on the win." His voice was so quiet I almost didn't hear him. My eyes sought out Jasper and he grimly nodded at me. "So, King expects to win. He's not going to put that much money down on James if he didn't think so." I murmured. This time Jasper spoke up. "No, Edward, King's buddies aren't all betting on James. Some are betting on you." My eyebrows shot up and I blew out a quick breath. This was a strange development; King's buddies were betting against him. "Another thing," Emmett started. "...winner is up for a sponsored match in Vegas a year from now. All expenses paid with power to veto the opponent." This put a chink in my plans. I sighed and plopped down into one of the folding chairs in front of his desk. How do I go about explaining to Emmett that I didn't expect to be doing this for another year? How do I tell my best friend that I didn't want to make money for him like this anymore? I knew what he would do. I knew what he would say. Emmett would try to convince me that I had to fight. That fighting was a sure way at making a living for myself. He wouldn't want to let this go. Telling him right now, that my plans had changed in the long run would not only upset Emmett but possibly piss off Jasper. This is what he was afraid of from the beginning with Bella. "Emmett, I just wanna take this one match at a time. I don't even know what I'll be doing a year from now." And as soon as the words came out of my mouth I knew I was wrong. I had just fucked up royally. "What do you mean, 'I don't even know what I'll be doing a year from now'? You'll be fighting. You'll be here training and we'll do what we've been doing for the past shit, what it's been over four years now, hasn't it? Edward, tell me you aren't thinking of quitting? Edward...?" "I just...no I'm not thinking of quitting. I'm just saying, the future is unsure. I'm getting a headache just thinking about this match as it is. I can't do this forever; I have to think of what I will be doing when I'm not going to be able to fight anymore." He nodded and while he was still upset about my comment, he was placated enough not to ask anymore questions. "I guess we can talk about this later. I need to go post the schedule for next week." Emmett rose and squeezed out of the office. Jasper hadn't moved since I had entered the room and I watched him wearily. He sighed and leaned back, sitting straight up and staring at the ceiling, his hands braced on the desk. "When I started fightin', I did it because I didn't have a choice. I couldn't find work doing anything else. I was good at it, I enjoyed the outlet. I made acquaintances. And I made mistakes. Fightin' and being in the ring, made me who I am today. I might have never met Alice, I might have never met you. I fought because I wanted to eat, sleep in a bed, and survive. When the time came that I was stable, I still fought. But day after day, I realized that I had nothing to offer anyone with the life I was living. One day, I woke up and didn't feel like fighting anymore. Then I met you and you needed to fight. You needed to just...let it out. So, I helped you and in doing so I have felt the greatest accomplishment. I have felt satisfied knowing that I helped someone. I think maybe this decision is the smartest thing you could possibly consider. I knew the moment you walked in here that day Bella started working, that she was good for you. You don't have just yourself to think about anymore, Edward. Emmett's a big boy and he might be upset that you wanna get out, but he'll understand. He won't have a choice with Rose on his nuts the way she is. He'll have to come to a decision as well. "Thing is, I see a little bit of myself in you, Edward. If I can get over the anger, the rage - then so can you. You've got better motivation now than I did. There's more to life than having the shit beat out of you, and beating the shit out of someone else. There's more to this world than pushing your body. I should know. "I won't make your decisions for you. Hell, I don't think you expect me to. But I will support whatever you decide to do."

I nodded, a little stunned and a little happy that Jasper was behind me. He grinned and rose fluidly to leave the room. I sat there for a moment longer before realizing that Bella was done working and we could go home and spend the weekend molesting each other. I swiped my duffel bag off the floor and shot out of the office to find Bella. As I neared the annex, I could hear her voice in the distance. "Look, I don't really care what you want. You shouldn't be here. If anyone of them catches you here, they'll beat the shit out of you. You're lucky Edward hasn't had any time off to hunt you down for the little stunt you pulled on Halloween. I don't give a shit about your apologies. Just go away!" I was getting closer now, jogging quickly toward her voice. She was agitated and I had a pretty good idea who she was yelling at. "Look, I just want to make sure you're okay. If anythingI mean if there's something going on, like if you're with Masen because he's holding something over your head then you can tell me. I can help you." "WhayouI.Oh my sweet Jesus, you need to go away now. I can't evenI can't even answer that. I have nothing right now that would make sense to respond withjust go away. You have no idea what you are talking about." "Please, he was ordering you around like a dog. Girls like you don't just meet guys like him over coffee. I can help you, just give me a chance to. If it's money, I have lots saved up" "I'm sorry wait, what did you say...Girls like me? What exactly does that mean? What kind of girl do you think I am? Who made you my keeper? Why do you care what happens to me?" "I...well I mean, I I didn't mean to imply that you're a bad person. I like you. I think you'rewell, I like you." "Oh this is priceless! Really, this is just" I heard her trail off. I was at the edge of the hallway now and I stopped dead in my tracks. Bella was flushed and her hair wildly thrown up in a pony tail. The short sleeves of her t-shirt were pulled up past her shoulders, the hem tied into a knot accentuating her slim waist. The old, worn jeans she had on hugged her ass and flared out. I watched as her face glistened with sweat and her eyes were hard as diamonds.

That's my girl.
Black took a step toward her and lifted his hand, reaching for her face. Before I could move, she slapped it away with wide eyes. "What the fuck do you think you're doing? Don't touch me. This little knight in shining armor thing you got going is really wearing my patience down. I don't need your help and not that it's any of your business, but I'm with Edward because I love him not because he's holding anything over my head. Now, if you're not gone in the next ten seconds I will call someone here to remove you. I'm not playing around." I watched as his lips thinned into a hard line, his jaw flexed, and his shoulders squared. I knew exactly what he was going to do. He was going to try and kiss her. I half wanted to watch her hit him in the face but the other halfthe half was the loin cloth and club, was having none of it. "Black! What the fuck?" Bella's head whipped to the side and she looked at me with relief as I calmly walked toward them. He looked too pissed to be afraid but I knew it was in there. Black was afraid of fighting in general; he was down right terrified to fight me. Ever since I took his boy Sam down last year, he always granted me a wide birth. I watched as he sized up his options and I grabbed Bella around the waist, pulling her into my side. Before he could open his mouth, I cut him off. "Get the fuck out of my gym. This is the last warning you will ever get from me. Talk to her againif you even look at her the wrong way, I'll make sure you and Sam have matching scars." He stood motionless as my words sunk in. The testosterone was pumping in me with fury and combined with the adrenaline from my training, I was in full fledged cock fight mode.

Grabbing her roughly around the waist, I hoisted her up over my shoulder and gave one last hard glare to Jacob before turning around and walking towards the offices. Bella didn't make a sound other than a startled gasp. She knew what this was about and I knew later on, she would give me hell for it. There was no way I was making it back to the apartment without an earful. "Bella, remember what I said. I'll be here if you need someone to treat you like a person." My feet stopped before my mind could come up with a response. I turned around, looking Black with such ire that he flinched. I slowly slid Bella down, placing her gently on her feet. She gripped my waist, silently pleading with me not to fight with him. I grabbed her neck roughly with one hand, her waist with the other and looked at Black's murderous eyes the entire time. With painstaking leisure, I bent my head down and kissed her. My tongue parted her lips and I roughly claimed her mouth. I smirked at Black's clenched fists before I pulled away, throwing Bella over my shoulder again and slapping her ass with a loud thwack. Bella squealed and I grinned darkly at him. "If anyone is the dog in this relationship, it's me." I turned and resumed our journey out of the annex, in desperate need for a private room. Once I was out of his sight, I picked up my pace down the dim corridor. I reached the prep room we used before matches and threw the door open. I dropped my duffel bag and set Bella on the desk, kissing her hard before she could talk. I pawed at her shirt, her waist, the button and fly on her jeans. I needed all of it off. And I needed it off now.

"I need you. I can't wait till we get home." I breathed against her neck. She moaned and lifted her hips once I got the zipper down and I yanked her jeans down to her ankles. They caught at her shoes but it was enough for her legs to spread open and allow me in. It one swift motion, my gym shorts were pulled down and I was thrusting into her. The rickety desk creaked and groaned under our weight, my knees banging against the front at every push into her. My fingertips gripped her hips, pressing into the soft flesh and I wanted to bruise her. I wanted my fingerprints on her body. Harsh breath pushed out through my nose as I plunged into her over and over. I yanked her forward so that her ass was at the edge of the desk, allowing me to go deeper. She was propped up on her elbow with an arm slung around my neck, her face pressed into my chest as she keened and whimpered for more.

Fuck Fuck Fuck. More More More. Mine Mine Mine

I growled and pushed her back down, flat against the desk. Her face was flushed and her hair wild as it came out of the tie. Her eyes were glassy and bright. I watched the blush on her cheeks redden and travel down past the collar of her shirt. I needed to see that blush. I grasped the hem of her shirt and yanked it up roughly. She squirmed and tried to pull it off but I pushed her back down before she could; leaving the shirt bunched under her armpits. I watched as my hand pressed against the flesh of her stomach, my hips still driving into her, I slid it up to cup her breast and knead it. Her head turned to the side as she bit her lip. Despite the quickness of my movements and the overwhelming need to claim her, to reassure myself that I had her, I could still feel her triggers. I could feel her walls begin to flutter and I wanted her to look at me when she came. I released her breast and my hand seemed abnormally large and calloused over her smooth throat, it made me feel powerful, possessive, and fuck it, it made me feel manly. I gripped her gently, still mindful to be careful with her, and turned her head to look at me. She whimpered again and a choked cry came out as she arched into my hand and gripped the edges of the desk. "Look at me when you come. I want you to look at me and I want to hear you say my name. Fuck, you better scream it. Youbelongto me. Bella, look at me!" Her eyes bored into mine and I found the sight of my cock thrusting into her wet folds and my hand over her throat the most erotic thing I had ever seen. She blinked and her breath hitched before she wailed out my name over and over again. I grit my teeth together, waiting her out before I came myself. Just a few more moments and I'll let go. Her orgasm rocked over me and my thrusts became erratic and short. I didn't want to be out of her, I wanted to stay in her forever. The head of my cock throbbed once, twice, and I felt myself spurting into her. "Bellafuckfuckmine. Fuck" Her slick heat pulsing around my cock and her twitching aftershocks of pleasure were making me lightheaded as the blood rushed back to my brain. "Edward" I lifted my head from her chest to look at her with penance. "That wasamazing." I grinned at her wonderment and slid out of her, helping her get her clothes back on. We didn't speak as I grabbed my things and slipped an arm around her waist before walking out of the room. Black was gone from the annex when we exited the building and got into the Volvo. "Edward? Are you okay?" "Yeah, I umI want to say sorrybut I'm not, so I'll settle for asking if you're okay?" "I'm more than okay." I smiled at the giggle in her voice. Grinning like fools, we made our way home.

It's Thanksgiving and I'm so pissed about it, it's not funny. Any other year, I wouldn't care but this year Bella is cooking and I can't have any of it. Jasper's stupid ass keeps prattling on about how he's let it slide that I drank at Halloween and he's let me get by with eating a few unhealthy meals, but tonight I can't have anything but chicken and rice.

So. Not. Fair. Fucking-A.

Bella swears up and down that she'll make me another Thanksgiving meal after the fight but it won't be the same. So here I sit, sulking with my bland chicken and my gay ass rice watching Emmett pile stuffing and turkey that smells amazing onto his plate, watching Alice pass Jasper a bowl full of fluffy mashed potatoes, watching Rose spoon yams onto her plate and Bella set a bowl of green beans down on the table amidst various dishes and the fucking home made cranberry sauce.

So. Not. Fucking. Fair.

Alice opens her loud mouth to say we should all go around and say what we're thankful for before eating and I feel like being a douche and saying that I wished I was thankful for some goddamn Thanksgiving food but it's Bella's first Thanksgiving with us, so I wont ruin it for her. Alice, of course, starts us off.

"Okay, so I'm thankful for Jasper and I'm thankful for all of us being together and for my new friends, Bella and Rose!" I grin despite my morose mood and Jasper clears his throat to follow her example. "Well, I'm thankful for all the food, for everyone's good health and for Alice, of course." I roll my eyes and glare at my chicken once more. Emmett giggles like a little girl before speaking, alerting me to the fuckery ahead. "Alright, so I'm thankful for all this food, obviously. I'm thankful for Rosie over here. I'm thankful for the gym doing so well and I'm thankful for Magnums." Alice's eyebrows furrow and I know she's about to play right into Emmett's hands. "What are Magnums?" Emmett's eyes light up like it's Christmas instead of turkey day and he barks out a laugh before Jasper slaps his head. "Don't worry about it darlin', I'll explain later." Jasper manages to give her a look that makes her forget her question and I snort.

Explain my ass, he's going to show her.

"Um, well I'm thankful for my new friends and a new beginning. And all this food looks great, Bella." Rose's demure response tones us back into what we were doing and I notice it's my turn to say something. "I'm thankful for Bella." I say simply. Alice looks at me and cocks her head. "That's it? Just Bella?" "What more is there?" I know I'm laying it on thick but I'm hoping if I butter Bella up some, she'll let me eat some leftovers and not tell Jasper. Those two were quickly becoming thick as thieves these days. Sure enough as I turn my gaze on her, her eyes are misting up and she smiles all sweet at me.

Score leftovers!
I smile back, suddenly not so upset about my bland chicken and rice. She clears her throat and looks down at her plate. "I'm thankful for Edward and all of you. I never had much of a family before and this is nice. I'm thankful for everyone being in a good place right now and for us all to have this opportunity to be together." There's a silence at the table for a moment before Jasper mutters an 'Amen' and we all dig in. Before long, Bella and I are the only sober ones at the table and everyone is so full, I'm afraid for Jasper's table cloth and the projectile vomit it might see. I helped Bella pack up some containers of food to pass out and we quietly say our 'goodnights' before leaving. Bella managed to get out of Alice's Black Friday scheme, which I found hysterical as they'd battled it out with the face of doom on each other. After I let Bella into our apartment, I shut the door, locked it and took off after her into the kitchen. "C'mon, just one bite. Please? It's not fair, everyone else got some. Jasper would never know." "Edward" "Please, baby? Please?" She sighs and pulls the cap off the container before shoving it at me with a fork. I snatched it and kissed her quickly before shoving my face full of turkey and stuffing. Moaning, I lean back against the counter top to scarf the rest down. "Ohh mahgd, fisis fo ghawd." "What?" She asked while handing me a glass of milk. "I said, Oh my God, this is so good." She smirked and walked out of the kitchen, leaving me to eat what I could before recapping the container and putting it in the fridge. I trailed into the bedroom where she was coming out of the closet in her pajamas. I stripped down to my boxers and we snuggled up in bed. "You do know I'm not going to lie to Jasper if he asks me about the leftovers right?" "Dammit. Bella, who's side are you on here? You would choose Jasper over me?" She giggled and I smiled knowing she would lie for me. She wouldn't let me get into troublewould she? "Bella"

Her giggling increased and she pressed her face into my shoulder.

"Fuck you then. Fine. I don't care, tell him." She started to laugh and kiss my neck. "I won't tattle." "God damn right you won't." She kissed my mouth and I forgot what I was worried about. Breaking away for a moment, I remembered what I was going to tell her. "Hey, let's go shopping tomorrow. It's getting close to Christmas. We can get a tree and ornaments and shit." "You wanna decorate?" "Well, I haven't actually ever had a tree in here and I can't remember the last time I did anything festive. I want us to have a nice Christmas."

Because New Years is going to suck.

"Okay, I'm game for that. You might change your mind tomorrow though; I get crazy looking for the perfect tree." I grinned and kissed her again.

I wouldn't have her any other way.

I woke up with a chill on my shoulders. Peeking down, I saw Bella huddled into my chest with the comforter tucked up to her neck, her face burrowed into my armpit. I forgot to turn the heat on last night when we got home. The curtains were open letting in a bluish-white light. I wrapped my arms around Bella tighter and snuggled into the mattress with her, not going back to sleep but just letting my mind stray until she woke up. It seemed surreal to be thinking about how much my life had changed since she wandered into it. I was actually happy about Christmas this year. I wanted to decorate. I wanted the big dinner and waking up at five to open presents and I wanted to watch our kids tear into wrapping paper.

Kids. I wanted kids. I wanted to make babies with Bella. I wondered what they would look like. Would they have my hair and her eyes? Would we have a boy or a girl first? I wanted to have children with Bella. I wanted to make another human being with her. I wanted the house and the yard with the dog and the weird food cravings. I wanted normal. I wanted stable. I was happy it was Christmas time. "What are you so thoughtful about?" I looked down at her big brown eyes. I had been sucked into the vacuous vortex of future children so deeply that I hadn't even realized she woke up. "Do you ever wanna have kids?" She furrowed her brows at me and sat up. "Um, right now?" "No, not 'right now'. Down the roadeventually. I wanna make babies with you one day." She heaved a sigh and shook her head a little. "To be honest with you, I hadn't really thought about it. I'm not opposed to having children but don't you think we should take this one step at a time first?" And then I realized my mistake. My dumb ass hadn't even told her I was in love with her yet and here I am asking about babies. "Bella" "C'mon! I'm excited about a tree! You said we were going to get a tree!" I grinned and hopped out of bed aiming to split the shower with her. Today was going to be a good day. I was not going to over think anything and if by some chance the right moment to tell her how much I loved her came along, I would say it. I was not going to over think this. We were headed out the door an hour later, bundled up in coats and boots. It had started snowing some time last night and the ground was covered with about an inch of frost. I herded her into the Volvo and we drove down the street to the grocers for a tree. They had nice trees but according to Bella, they didn't have 'The One'. So after three failed grocery store parking lots and two street side vendors, we finally found the perfect tree. It looked just like any other tree. I kept my mouth shut and didn't say a damn thing though. I paid for the tree without a second thought and set it up to be delivered later. No fucking way I was strapping that thing to the Volvo. I draw lines. Bella's exuberance while shopping for ornaments was hysterical. Apparently our tree was going to be burgundy and silver this year, so we were only

allowed to pick ornaments of those two colors. All in all, I was expecting worse but we only spent about five hundred dollars on everything including the tree. Bella tossed in wrapping paper and tape, clear lights, tinsel, garlandsthings I never knew Christmas trees neededlike skirts? By the time we were done, the Volvo's trunk was filled up and we were both laughing for no reason in the parking lot. "Hey, Alice told me about a few places we should look at, wanna go today?" She nodded while biting her lip and I helped her into her seat. The drive wasn't long but traffic was hellacious from all the shopping going on today. I felt a pang of sympathy for Jasper, he wasn't so lucky at getting out of Black Friday with Alice. We strolled around Edgewater's Antique mall for a bit before Bella snagged a few vintage dresses and costume jewelry for Alice and an old pocket stop watch for Jasper along with some old books I didn't catch the titles to. She assured me that he would appreciate them. Bella wanted more antiques, so we went to Lincoln's Antique mall before abandoning it for a walk down the street. Her face was pink from the cold, her eyes bright and clear as we ambled between flustered mothers and children, businessmen trying to make a few holiday purchases while chatting on their cell phones and other couples out just enjoying themselves. It was surreal for me to look at them and know that we looked the same way. I was so fucking lost in love with this girl it wasn't funny. Just having her mitten covered hand in mine sent a thrill up my spine and put a slap happy grin on my face. I found myself subconsciously catering to her, whether it was making sure she walked on the inside of the sidewalk, away from traffic or tucking her into my side when the wind picked up - I was making sure she was okay. The thought of her not being okay was invading my mind and sending me into an irrational panic. What would I do if Bella weren't okay? What would I do if she were hurt? Would I even be able to help her? But wasn't Bella hurt? Wasn't there something holding her back? The nightmares, the mood swings, the detachment from certain things. There was something hurting her, something I couldn't fix unless she told me; if she ever told me. The squeezing in my chest and the way my stomach dropped at the thought made me falter in my steps for a split second. "You okay? You got all quiet all of a sudden." "Yeah, I'm fine. I justI was just thinking. You doin' alright? We can always go back to the Volvo if you're tired of walking." "No, I'm having fun. We haven't really gone for a walk together in a while. Besides, I think that's another antique store over there." I rolled my eyes and followed her into the store. It was mostly books and small knicknacks. "I'm going to go check out the place next door. You okay in here?" "Yeah" I looked at her and snorted. She didn't hear a word I said, her face was buried in some book that was as thick as a bible. "Bella" Her head snapped up and she looked at me expectantly. "I'm going next door. You okay here?" "Yeah, I'll come find you when I'm done." I smiled at her and retreated out into the snow and looked up at the building's sign. 'Yesterday' was painted on the front in whitewash letters. I opened the door and heard a bell jingle. An elderly woman came out of the back and smiled at me. "Hello, dear, can I help you find anything?" "Well, I'm looking for a gift for my girlfriend. It's our first Christmas together and I want to get her something special. Some jewelry maybe? I have no clue." She laughed and motioned for me to follow her. "Tell me about your lady and I'll see what I have that might fit her." "Um, well she's about five foot three or four with brown hair and brown eyes and" "No, dear. Tell me about her." I looked at the woman for a moment before blowing out a breath and looking past her at an old Coca-Cola thermometer on the wall. "She's radiant. She justglows. She's so sweet and caring. She cares for everyone but herself. She's understanding and simple. I mean, she's simple in that she doesn't expect anything from people. She gives and gives and she's so beautiful it hurts sometimes. She has no idea how gorgeous she is. She's so smart but she doesn't give herself the credit she deserves. She loves to read and she's so passionate about everything. She feels for people. She tries to anticipate their needs above her own. She's always sacrificing her happiness for others. She's quiet and shy and reserved. She's got the most amazingly cute blush you've ever seen. She's got fire though. She's got this tough exterior when it comes to people who don't know her but she's such a softy. She's smart as a whip when it comes to responding to people. She can manage to make me laugh when I want to cry and she accepts me for who I am and it's sounbelievable that I found herwellthat she found me. I can't really do her justice. I can't

possiblyaccurately tell you about her. You just have to meet her yourself. " I finally looked down at the older woman to see her smiling at me with tears in her eyes. "What's her name?" "Bellashe's my Bella." I breathed. The woman nodded and turned to go behind a case of jewelry. I looked down into the rows of rings, bracelets, and necklaces not really seeing anything catch my eyes. Before I could tell her this, she slid open the drawer underneath and brought up a flat black tray with an assortment of jewelry on it. The kind of jewelry that didn't belong in a place like this but rather in Tiffany's or Cartier. I gaped at the diamonds and gems in their settings for a moment. She held up a choker, letting the light hit the ruby's before shaking her head and setting it back down. My eyes followed the glittering strand and as it was placed back into the plush black velvet, I looked over and saw it. The perfect gift for Bella. I pointed to it like a moron and the woman laughed a little before pulling it out and holding it up. "Yes, this does seem to fit." "I don't care how much it is." She smiled a little and got out a separate box to place it in before putting the tray back under the shelf. Before I could ask her where I needed to pay, she lifted up one more thing and I think I might have kissed the woman for her thoughtfulness. "It's" "Yes, this one is special. I came across it at an estate auction. The woman who passed away was a friend of mine. I remembered her telling me about this piece. I don't know if the story behind it is true but it stuck with me and I knew when I saw it that I had to get it. "The pearls are called Biwa Pearls. They're from Lake Biwa in Japan. These pearls were harvested in the 1910's. A young Japanese man named Akio from a village called Kyoto worked for the man who was harvesting the pearls. "You see, in order to get the mussels that made the pearls these men had to dive deep into the lake and collect them. They would go down on only one breath of air and the water was ice cold. Many of them died before reaching the surface. Akio was very poor and made little money harvesting the pearls for his master. One day he went down and snatched up two mussels, hiding one in his pocket, he gave the other to his master. Akio learned he could do this over and over and keep pearls for himself and after a while he had hundreds of pearls hidden in a sack. "Akio fell in love, yet it was a forbidden love. The girl he pledged his heart to was the foreman's daughter. She loved him back fiercely and told him that if he sold his pearls they could run away together with that money but before they could, she was wed to another man. Akio made the necklace in hopes that he could pass it along to her and show her that he would still love her. He stranded the pearls together using silk thread. When he went to present her the necklace, her husband became enraged and tore it from her neck. The pearls that were not torn and lost stayed on the silk but there was a gap now and Akio, taking his broken necklace, left only to hear that his beloved died days later by her husband's hands. The necklace was kept in a box for years until Akio died and his possessions were passed along to his friends. A jeweler in the 1950's made this gold clasp where the necklace had been broken. The black pendent in the center is onyx and the gold clasps have thirty two diamonds representing the lost pearls. There are nine strands of pearls, each strand having over a hundred Baroque Biwa pearls sewn onto it. "I have held on to this one piece for years because I felt like it deserved its happy ending." I looked at the necklace and felt the lump rising in my throat. The milky pearls twisted like rope thickly and elegantly, the clasp was simple but eye catching. It was soBella. I just nodded at her stupidly before pulling out my wallet and checkbook. She grinned and nestled the necklace into a large lacquered box with silk lining. Ironically, an Asian styled swan was carved into the top. I sucked in a breath when she told me the total for both items, she assured me that both had their appraisal papers with them. I wrote out the check to her and nodded my thanks. As I left the store, I looked into the bags and noticed two leather bound books. My brows furrowed as I picked one up and noticed that it was blank. The cover was intricately designed in flourishes and gold trim. Grinning, I stuffed it back in the bag and headed back over to the other store where I knew Bella was still reading a book somewhere. Like I had predicted, she had a small stack of books tucked under her arm and a few trinkets in her hands as she looked down, completely engrossed in an old yearbook from the 1940's. "Hey, whatcha lookin at?" Her head popped up and she grinned at me, shoving the books and baubles into my arms and then bouncing up to the counter where a young girl began ringing up the items. I shook my head and smiled at her eagerness as she prattled on about who was to get what gifts and why she thought they would like them. "What did you get?" She started to stick her hands into the dark green plastic bag I held before I yanked it away and smirked at her. "Nu uh! This is going to get wrapped and put under the tree." "Edward.tell me!" I laughed, picked up her other bags and walked out the door with her trailing behind me still whining. "Are you going to tell me what my gifts are?" I asked her. She bit her lip and shook her head. "Good, 'cause even if you did, I still wouldn't tell you what's in this bag."

Her nose wrinkled up in aggravation as she threw herself into the passenger seat. I laughed and tossed the bags into the back before getting in myself and pulling away from the curb. Once back home, we both separated our bags to go wrap. I locked myself in the office while Bella ran into the bedroom to do the same. Seated at my desk, I opened the box with the pearl necklace in it and ran my fingers over the smooth opalescent beads before closing and wrapping it. It turned out better than her birthday gift but still looked pretty bad. The other box was much smaller and I didn't feel like wrapping it. I wanted to present it to her myself and at the right moment. I looked around the room for a suitable hiding place. Bella spent much more time here than I did and she could no doubt stumble upon it in the desk. I glanced up at the bookshelf and smiled. She would never be able to reach it up there. I put the box on the top of the bookshelf where I couldn't even see it at my vantage point and carried my presents out to the living room. Bella emerged a few minutes later with her wrapped presents and we both set them all on the coffee table. Many were made out to Jasper, Alice, and Emmett. I spied one for Rose and was glad that Bella had put both our names on it. There were three packages with my name on them and I had wrapped the journals separately tallying me up to four gifts for her. Around six-thirty the tree arrived and Bella freaked out. After an hour of moving the fucking thing around the living room, she finally settled on leaving it by the windows and we began decorating. My side of this entailed the lights and that's it; apparently I sucked at hanging ornaments. Shrugging, I went back into the office to write out checks for bills and tried to figure out my bank account balance, to no avail. It didn't matter how good I was at keeping receipts and staying on track with my investments, I still sucked at adding and subtracting the numbers without wanting to shoot myself. There were too many expenses and I didn't have the patience to tally them all up. I would need to call the bank when the holidays were over and get an exact number. I peeked into the living room and made sure Bella was still amused with the tree before shutting the door and locking it again. I sat at my desk and pulled out the brochure for Depaul University. They had a good program and it was close to the apartment. I could get my degree and still be close to The Ring. I would be able to stay right where I am and finish up school. I ran my fingers over the glossy pages and tamped down the feeling of unease at being so old and going to college. Rightfully, I knew that people older than myself were in college but it made me think about leaving home. I knew I felt much older than I really was. Twenty six wasn't old by any means but it was a long cry from Bella's twenty two. Funny, how I hadn't even thought of our age difference before, she always seems so much older than she really is. A knock at the door sent me scrambling. I shoved the brochure into the bottom of a drawer and shut it quietly before getting up to answer. Bella stood there worrying her lip and wringing her hands. "I can't reach to put the star on, will you do it?" She handed me the metal star with a coil wound under it. I smiled at her and walked into the living room. I stopped short at the scene in front of me. Bella had turned off all the lights in the living room, leaving only the tree to illuminate the space. The tree was decked out in dark red ribbons, silver glass balls and twinkling lights. The presents were all displayed below it on a burgundy rug that was tied around the tree's base. I hadn't noticed before how sweet and fresh it smelled in here. There was a garland strung up around the window's curtain rods with bows and lights glimmering down the sides as the snow drifted in gentle waves outside. It had been years since I had seen anything like this. I could feel my throat swelling at how much had changed. "Bellawow. It looksamazing." I choked out. She blushed and looked down at the star in my hand. I shook my head to clear it and stepped forward toward the tree, reaching up and placing the star at the top as gently as I could. I felt her warmth against my back as she wrapped her arms around my stomach and settled her head between my shoulder blades. "Thank you. I haven't had a Christmasa real, happy Christmas in years." She murmured into my back. I pulled her hands lose and turned to face her, cupping her face in my hands. "Neither have I and I know this will be the best Christmas I have ever had. Thank you for doing all this." She smiled that Mona Lisa smile and I brought us over to the couch so we could sit and enjoy the tree and the falling snow. We never made it to bed but we were both home. !- /* Style Definitions */ , , {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; fontfamily:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";} page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; msoheader-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} 1 {page:Section1;} AN: Okay, so I ended up combining two chapters and cutting out two lemons. It just ended so sweetly I couldn't ruin it. Sooooo Wanna know what's up with Phil? Wonder when Edward's gonna break out the ILY?

Really need to know what was in the other box that Edward bought in the antique store? Tune in next chappie and the Amazing nbnf will predict the future for you. I'm forewarning all of you. I will not update for probably a week. This next chapter is a monster. There will questions answered and drama ensued as well as some hilarity and fluff. It is the chapter I've been waiting to write since the beginning. So I'm predicting an update around next Friday the 29th. I make no promises though... also as a note. The antique stores that I used are real. Whether or not they really look that way or have those items in them...I don't know, I'm guessing I'm not from Chicago so I'm using creative license on that. A big thank you to Anechka86 for helping me out with Chicago and making the experience a little more real. Hope I didn't disappoint you in this chapter. Now, you all know what to do Leave Me Some Love

*Chapter 16*: Not A Creature Was Stirring

December 25 Christmas Day


Etta James Trust In Me Trust in me in all you do Have the faith I have in you Love will see us through, if only you trust in me Why don't you trust me? Come to me when things go wrong Cling to me daddy and I'll be strong We can get along, we can get along if only you trust in me While there's a moon, a moon on high While there are birds, birds to fly While there is you, you and I can be sure that I love you... Stand beside me, stand beside me all the while Come on daddy face the future, why don't you smile? Trust in me, and I'll be worthy of you Why don't you trust in me in all you do? Have the faith that I have in you And love will see us through, if only you trust in me Why don't you come to me, when things go wrong, cling to me and I'll be strong We can get along, we can get along if only you trust in me...

BPOV Drip. Drip. Drip. My eyebrows furrowed in concentration, trying to discern the noise through deafening silence. Drip. Drip. Drip. Wetness seeped into my clothes. My jeans grew abrasive and heavy against my legs and my shirt started to cling to my sides. I was weightless. Drip. Drip. My arms began to float as the water rose above my chest. Drip. I felt the cool surface of the porcelain against my feet. I blinked and looked down at the shiny faucet. My hair slithered around my neck like wispy vines. I sucked in a shaky breath and looked around the white bathroom. The yellow shower curtain looked so bright. The lime green and white tiling on the floor was pristine. Renee always loved bright colors. Instead of getting out of the tub like I should have, I floated, feeling the water ripple around my face, and stared around at what used to be my bathroom. Before I could register anything else the water in the tub became freezing. I sat up sharply, reaching for the hot water knob and just as it was turning, I heard the door creaking open. My breath caught. Drip. Drip. Drip. I slammed my eyes shut. Drip. Drip. Drip. "Isabella"

The weight of my clothes lifted and I looked down at my nude form.

No. Please, no.

"I've missed you Isabella" A hot hand gripped my shoulder and I thrashed, my hands gripping the sides of the tub as I was being pushed down under the frigid surface. I could barely make out his form through the rippling, sloshing water. "I've missed you so much Isabella"
Please, God, please no more

I can't do this anymore. Please, make it go away.

"Bella!" I shut my eyes and prayed that this time I would stop breathing. Please, just let me stop breathing. I don't want this anymore.
"BELLA!" My eyes popped open and I gasped. Edward had my shoulders in a vice grip as he gently shook me. "Jesus, are you okay? You've been kicking for the past five minutes. I thought you weren't going to wake up." I sucked in the air my lungs were burning for and nodded at him. He watched me warily, still clutching my shoulders. "I'm fine. I just, it was just a bad dream that's all." "It was like someone was trying to kill you." My eyes closed briefly as I fought a shiver. "I'm okay, Edward. It was just a nightmare. I can't even remember it now." He sighed heavily and pulled me to his chest. I prayed he wouldn't ask anymore about it. I breathed in deeply, smelling his skin and musk, allowing it to soothe me. "What time is it?" "Uhhh, four-thirty, why?" "I have to be up at five-thirty anyway, I might as well just get up now." "Wait, what, why? No, it's fucking Christmas; we're sleeping in." "Um, no. You're sleeping in. I'm going to go make breakfast for everyone and then wake your ass up at seven." I watched as his mouth opened and closed a few times in indignation. "I'll bargain with you. What do you want in exchange for staying here with me untilnoonish?" "I want to get up and make everyone breakfast. C'mon Edward, I want to. Go back to sleep and I'll wake you up when it's time to eat, okay?" I slid out of bed and listened as he bitched and whined, kicked the covers and punched the pillows before settling back into bed, on my side. Once I made it into the bathroom and had the door shut and locked, I let out a ragged breath. The dreams were becoming frequent occurrences and they were getting clearer. All those memories that I had worked so hard to shut down were bubbling back up to the surface. I was fighting a losing battle between my conscious and my subconscious. Getting through the day now and not thinking about it was getting hard. I felt myself actually contemplating not telling Edward.

What he doesn't know won't hurt him.

Cringing, I got up quickly and started the shower. The tears would come soon whether or not I wanted them to. I stepped under the scalding spray and winced when the burn settled over my shoulders and breasts. My hair soaked through quick enough and I swallowed thickly trying to combat the waves of emotions running through me. Even now, far away from him, he was still managing to ruin my life. Even now, when I was happy and loved, he managed to crack open the feelings of guilt in me. I sank down against the tiles of the shower and wrapped my arms around my knees, hugging them to my chest and pressing my face into them. I was trying to muffle my sobs as best as I could. My chest shook violently as I clenched my eyes shut and willed it away. No matter how

hard I tried to calm down, it never worked. I was grateful that Edward had never seen me break down like this. The weight of everything was accumulating inside me and I knew I needed to talk to someone. I knew I needed to tell Edward. The fear of his rejection, of his ill opinion of me was enough to cause fresh waves of hysteria. Just imagining the look on his face when I did tell him, if I told him, was jarring to my self imposed silence. The water had cooled to a tolerable warmth, letting me know I had been sitting here too long. I finished my shower and dressed quietly, careful not to wake Edward again. Gathering up our gifts for everyone, I crept out of the apartment. If I knew Alice, she was already up doing something. I was right; she answered the door quickly and pulled me into the apartment. It always made me laugh how she did that; as if by not quickly yanking the person in, they would leave. "You're early." "I couldn't sleep." "Uh huh, and you expect me to believe that Edward just let you out of bedwhatthirty minutes early?" I glared at her and quirked an eyebrow. "You want a breakfast or not?" She huffed and smiled, taking the gifts from me and waving me into the kitchen. I rolled my eyes and began snooping around her fridge and pantry, pulling out everything I would need to make a large breakfast. I worked quickly, quietly mixing the batter for pancakes and waffles and making fluffy eggs, bacon, biscuits and hash browns. And I blushed profusely when slicing up the fruit. By the time seven came around, I knew it was time to go wake up Edward. I set everything out onto the bar buffet-style and left before Alice had a chance to say anything. I passed a grinning Emmett and a grumpy Rosalie on my way to Edward's apartment. I slipped in silently and went straight into the bedroom. He was sprawled on his stomach, one arm reaching over onto my side of the bed, the other tucked under the pillow and his legs stretched out. I watched as his back rose and fell with steady breaths. It comforted me to watch him sleeping. He was so tame and calm this way, such a difference from when he was awake. The feeling of calm that spread from his slumbering form and permeated into me was intense. And knowing he hadn't always been this way, I felt the need to keep him comfortable and safe.

Telling him the truth would be going against such notions.

Gingerly, I threaded my fingers through his hair and lightly scratched his scalp. I heard his low moan and grinned. "Edward, wake up sweetheart." "No, you come to bed." "C'mon, I made breakfast up at Alice's and I have a sure fire way to get around Jasper." His perked up and rolled out of bed, tugging on a shirt and scratching his head before wandering into the bathroom. I waited for him to finish his morning routine while thinking about my plan against Jasper. "What's the plan?" "Just let me take care of it, let's go. I passed Emmett and Rose on the way here and hopefully there'll be breakfast left when get up there." I grabbed his hand and we made our way up to Alice's. Jasper was already there, lounging in the kitchen and eyeing the food on the bar. He saw me and opened his mouth to protest. "Before you say anything, Jasper - the pancakes are whole wheat, the eggs are protein, and there's fruit. And damn, he needs a little starch in his diet, the hash browns were cooked with vegetable oil and not butter." I could see his lips pursing into a thin line and I thought maybe I had over estimated my new found bond with Jasper. "Andit's Christmas." He rolled his eyes and shoved a plate at Edward before stalking off. I grinned and pressed a quick kiss to Edward's cheek before grabbing a plate of my own. We all tucked in and I snuck a few pieces of bacon to Edward when Jasper was too preoccupied with Alice. We giggled and smirked at each other; everyone was having a good time. After we were all fat and happy, Alice declared it time to open presents. It was fun. I was having fun. We all crowded into the living room, Rose and Emmett on the love-seat, Alice and Jasper on the couch and I was perched on Edward's lap in the arm chair. It was like a picture out of a magazine. Alice's tiny tree that was overdecorated, all the hanging lights and festive colors around her house added to the mood and merriment. Emmett turned on the TV and Charlie Brown's Christmas was midway through. I laughed when Emmett and Edward fought over who would open presents first. Alice intervened and said we would all open them at the same time. She handed out the gifts and we all looked around at who got what. It was light and fun and there was laughter and teasing. I had left my gifts to Edward upstairs and I knew that the few things he opened up here might of made him feel like he was losing out, but I couldn't wait to see his face when he got back upstairs to open his gifts. As soon as Emmett was done thanking everyone for his gifts, he grabbed Rose and they made their way out of the apartment. I wondered what had him more excited, the new video games orRose.

I noticed Alice and Jasper off in their own little world, so I nudged Edward and we got up silently and leaving them to their own devices. Once we were back in our own apartment, I pulled Edward to the couch and reached under the tree for his gifts. He gave me a small smile and patted the seat next to him. I handed him the stocking that I had filled for him, waiting to give him his other three gifts. It took a lot of effort on my part to get the gifts I had gotten him. Honestly, it was hard to think of a gift in the first place not to mention actually getting my hands on one of them was hard. In the end, I had gone to Jasper to seek help and he came through with flying colors; I had not expected him to do so well. I watched as he dug through the stocking, laughing at the small items he pulled out. Amidst the candy canes and other candies, I had put two or three stress balls and sports tape along with boxes of sterile gauze. The mirth reflected in his jade eyes made my face flush. It was impossible not to feel the warmth spread through me when he looked like that. After he was done sorting through them he kissed me and turned to grab a gift off the coffee table. "Wait, open all mine first, please?" He smiled again and patiently leaned back against the cushions waiting for me. I could see the excitement in his eyes as I pulled the largest of them forward. It was also the heaviest. I handed it to him and he squinted his eyes at how hefty it was. I was grinning so hard at this point I couldn't contain myself. It was a silly gift but I knew he would appreciate it. He tore off the red paper with relish and popped open the top to reveal my gift to him. His eyebrows furrowed in confusion and I laughed at him. "Flip it over." He took the brick out of the box and flipped it over. On the bottom was a seal of authenticity. His face registered with comprehension and he laughed. I giggled and bit my lip. "Wow. I didn't even know they were selling these things." "Well, I saw an ad for them when we shopping the other day and I had to get it for you." The brick was from Wrigley Field. They had renovated some areas of the stadium and sold off some of the bricks as "pieces of history". As soon as I had seen the ad, I knew it would be a perfect gift for Edward. He loved the Cubs. He lifted the brick a few times and just looked at me with wonderment. I laughed again and took the brick from him, placing it back in the box and setting it on the coffee table. "Okay, so you're ready for this one now." He looked at me with apprehension and took the envelope that I had tied ribbons on. This is the major gift that I hoped he would enjoy. "Merry Christmas, Edward." He tore open the envelope with care and I knew when his eyebrows shot up that he was surprised. "Howthey'rethere's a waiting list" "Jasper apparently knows some peopleI don't know and I didn't ask how he did it. Honestly, I wasn't expecting them to be that nice but Jasper either doesn't do anything halfway or his friend really owed him. Do you like them? You don't have to take me, I know Emmett would love to go." "No! We're going; I'm not wasting this on Emmett!" The season tickets to Wrigley Field came at a hefty price and I willingly paid for it. I had expected infield terrace seating, field box seating at the best, but Jasper came through in high style with dugout seats and I almost kissed him for it. "Shit, Bella, dugout? These had to cost a fortune." "Not really and like I said, Jasper helped me." He swept me up in his arms and squeezed me tightly to his chest. "Thank you, IJesus, thank you. This is awesome!" Elated that he had enjoyed my gift, I laughed at his enthusiasm. "Um, one more thing." "Seriously? There's more?" "Well, this is kindait's not like the others." He watched patiently as I pulled out the small box and handed it to him. I didn't bother wrapping it. It was white and plain, and suddenly I felt it looked more daunting unwrapped. The lack of festive paper made it seem so much more significant.

He took it with a slight tremor in his hand and smiled weakly. I fought the urge to shut my eyes and wait for his reaction. Averting my eyes, I looked at the brick on the coffee table when I heard the lid slide off the box. "Um, what is it?" "It's a pendant. It represents the Archangel Raphael. Um, when I was younger, for a few years I went to Catholic school and I don't really consider myself Catholic or very religious but when I saw this in the antique store, I thought of you. You see, the Archangel Raphael is one of the only three angels ever mentioned in the Bible by name. He um, basically was considered the Angel of Healing. There are old parables that I could tell you and honestly, I don't remember much of them but I do remember that he was the patron saint of bodily harm, illness, and health. He was the patron saint of a lot of things but those were ones that stood out to me. I just thought you might need all the help you can get" He stopped me by placing a gentle kiss on my lips and when he pulled away, he knelt before me on the couch and held the box up to me. I pulled out the chain and watched as the flat round ornament swung heavily before clasping it around his neck. "Thank you, Bella. This means a lot to me." I smiled at him and hoped he really did like it. It was somewhat of a serious gift in light of its reasons. He kissed me again, slowly and softly before releasing me and handing me two wrapped gifts from the pile on the coffee table. I grinned and tore the paper off quickly, gasping at the leather bound journals. They had intricate patterns stamped into the leather and gold accents around the edges. "Edward, they're beautiful! They must have cost" "No, don't worry about that. I only care if you like them." "I love them! They're so pretty. Ithank you. Thank you. Thank you." I punctuated each word with a kiss and soon we were laughing and clutching each other on the couch. "Here, open this one and remember it's Christmas, so no complaining." I felt my stomach drop out at his words. I knew he was going to buy me something ridiculously expensive, but I hadn't wanted to linger on those thoughts for too long. The box was a little larger than the journals in width and about six inches deep. I delicately peeled off the shimmering white paper, and my lips parted at the ornate box beneath. There was an oriental style swan carved into the lid and my eyes began to prickle with tears. "Open it." He whispered. I gently lifted the lid and felt my breath stop. There nestled into the silky fabric were hundreds of pearls. They shimmered in the morning light and I had no other reaction but to just stare at them. "Do you like it? Ithey just seemed to fit you." "IEdwardIt's" He took the box from me gently and I looked up at his warm smile. He took the necklace from the box and fastened it around my neck. The pearls were ice cold against my skin but quickly drew heat from my body. I reached up and gingerly touched the strands with my fingertips. "They look beautiful on you." "Thank you." My voice was reduced to a whisper as the tears slid down over my cheeks. "EdwardI.." "Shhh, I have something else and this one means a lot to me okay, so just wait here." I nodded at him dumbly before unfastening the necklace and putting it back into the box. I felt strange wearing it so lightly; afraid I would break it with one false move. Edward returned with another box that was the size of his palm. It was flat with a bubbled top and I my heart sped up looking at it. He couldn't possibly have. "Just hear me out, okay?" I nodded as he got on his knees in front of me and I felt sick at what he was going to do. "I have been agonizing over this for probably close to months now. Since the moment you walked into my lifewell, since the moment I woke up to you in my life, I have been the happiest I have ever beenever. You have given me so much and in return I feel as if nothing I can give you is ever enough. You have placed your trust in me, your love and your happiness. I want to do the same. I wanted to tell you at the right moment and I think I've been putting so much leverage on the right moment, that I've been missing the whole point of this in the first place and that was to let you know. Bella, I love you. I was afraid when you told me not because I didn't love you back, but because I felt like shit for the person who I was. I was

convinced that I couldn't change myself and that my life was too unstable for you exist in it, but I came to realize that I was no longer that person. From the minute I saw your eyes, I knew I was different man. I wanted to be a different man. So I wanted to give you something in return for all your love, trust, and happiness. I wanted to give you a promise. A promise that one day, I will make you happy and I'll give you the life that you are worthy of. "Ican't do that right now. I can't give you the stability that you deserve but one day I will. I love you. I love you so much I can't think straight about anything else. I promise you right now that I'll love you forever. This is a promise that you have my heart and that I will fight for you until I can't breathe. "The fight is only a few days away. I've had to re-prioritize my life. I made you the sole beneficiary to my will. You are also the executor to my living will..." I leaned forward to refute him but he quickly headed me off before I could even utter a word. "No, Bella, listen to me. If something happens to me, you have to do what you think is right. I trust you, please. I love you and this is what I want." I felt his hands close over my own as he leaned forward to kiss away my tears and when he pulled back, my right hand felt heavy. I looked down and let out a strangled cry. It wasmassive, beautiful, ostentatious, blinding, and just soEdward. The green emeralds were peeking around the diamonds in an intricate pattern as they winked at me. The color reminded me of his eyes. "I'm going to ask you to marry me one day, not today, but one day I will ask." I looked up at him and the tears came in earnest as I launched myself at him. "Promise you'll come back to me, that's all I want. Just promise you'll come back to me. I can'tplease." He made soothing noises and crushed me to his chest as we rocked on the floor between the couch and the coffee table. My body was wedged between his legs and I clawed to get closer to him. I didn't want jewelry or expensive things, I just wanted him to come back to me. "Please, anything, I'll give anything, just come back to me." "I will. I'll come back to you, baby." And with the soothing smells of cinnamon and pine swirling around us, the sunlight shining in through the windows and silhouetting the Christmas tree, I clung to Edward as he held me tightly and we whispered promises of forever to each other before he swung me up into his arms and carried me into the bedroom. I lay on the bed with the foreign, new weight of his ring on my finger and watched as he peeled my plaid pajama bottoms off with my panties. He undressed me so carefully and sweetly, it brought on a few more tears before he undressed himself and lay down with me. He pulled the covers up over us and we snuggled, kissing and touching and just feeling each other. Every swell of muscle and every inch of flesh being caressed and felt. When he finally hovered over and entered me, we both sighed in satisfaction. He was gentle, loving and as I reached my high, I heard him whispering into my ear how much he loved me, how he cherished me and adored me. His pace quickened and he bowed his head into my neck as he found his own release with muffled curses. I smiled and gripped onto his back, holding him to me as he slowly lowered his weight onto my body. "I love you, Bella." "I love you, too." A few moments later he rolled us over and pulled me on top of him before we both fell asleep. I wiped my forehead against the heat in the kitchen and peered into the oven at the turkey that had been cooking for the past five hours. Edward and I had woken up a little after eleven and showered together. It seemed his profession of love made him a tad bit clingy. I wasn't going to complain, it was nice knowing that he felt the same way. Alice had come down to our apartment soon after I first stuck the turkey in to cook. She fawned over the pearls that Edward had bought me and actually squealed when she saw my ring. I took it off before I started cooking, much to Edward's chagrin. I, however, couldn't imagine stuffing a turkey with that thing on my hand. I had a sneaking suspicion I wouldn't get away with not wearing it most of the time. It was a beautiful ring, but it scared the shit out of me and I'd rather just admire it from afarafar in it's box, in a safe, where I technically wouldn't be able to see it.

Commitaphobe, commitaphobe, commitaphobe.

I wasn't afraid of committing to Edward. I was committed to him. I was living with him and I loved him but the ringthe ring meant more. The ring said we were no longer living in the moment. The ring meant promises and future plans. The ring was mocking me. It was saying, "Look what he did, he just laid it all out there and you've already fucked yourself from the beginning." It was a hateful, beautiful, token of love. I sighed heavily and checked the temperature on the turkey. Everything else was done and being kept warm on the stove, so far Christmas dinner was looking good. We had decided to have it here in our apartment since Jasper had Thanksgiving in his place and Alice had Christmas breakfast in hers. That and the fact that I enjoyed cooking here instead of in someone else's kitchen. With thirty minutes left for the turkey, I went about getting plates ready and cleaning up some of the mess I'd made when I felt Edward come into the kitchen. I turned and peeked over my shoulder at him and fought the urge to drool. He had showered and dressed in a pair of jeans and a fitted red button down. I had no idea what the fuck it was about him rolling up those damn sleeves but it made me wanna just pounce on him and grip onto his arms as we had sex.

Um, turkey, in the oven, must check on food.

I snapped my head back around and peered into the oven once more. The little button had popped this time, so I took it out and set it on the cleared spot on the stove. "It smells really good, baby." "Thanks, is everyone here?" "Yeah, Emmett and Rose just got here a few minutes ago. He did a little pre-gaming at his place before coming over." "Oh no, how drunk is he?" "Not drunk, well not yet." I rolled my eyes and handed him the carving knife and fork so that he could make quick work of the bird. He looked at me strangely before taking them out of my hand carefully but before I could move past him, he grabbed a hold of my waist and kissed my forehead. "Thank you." I looked at him in confusion, "For what?" "Forjust being youfor being with me." "You are turning into such a sap, you know that?" "Fuck, Bella. It's Christmas, I don't wanna have to be stern with you later after everyone leaves." "Stern? You don't wanna have to be stern with me? I really hope that's sap code for spank." His eyes lit up and I grinned at him. His fingers dug into my hip as he pulled me forward. I heard the knife and fork hit the counter before I was pressed against the sink. "You're going to get it later." "God, I hope so. Santa promised me nookie." "Santa will die for propositioning you." "Cut the damn bird, Edward." I laughed and pushed him off me, watching his satisfied smirk as I exited the kitchen. Asshole knows exactly how to fluster me. I blew out a deep breath as I walked into the living room. Jasper and Alice were snuggled on the couch watching Miracle on 34th Street. Emmett and Rosalie were sitting on the floor in front of the coffee table amusing themselves. "Dinner's ready." They all turned to look at me with smiles. As they rose to get up, I wandered back into the kitchen to find Edward proudly placing the turkey in the center of the dining room table where we were all going to squish ourselves in at to eat. He beamed at me and I laughed, patting him on the chest as I went to get the rest of the plates and utensils. Soon enough, we were all seated at the table and filling our plates. Jasper grunted in displeasure at the sight of Edward's filled plate and in return, Edward smiled smugly as he unceremoniously dumped a large dollop of mashed potatoes on his plate followed by snagging two rolls. I had done a lot of pleading for Edward so that he could enjoy this meal, and I was torn between scolding him for rubbing it in Jasper's face and smiling myself at how well I had done so that he could have a good time tonight. In my defense, it was my first Christmas with all of them and I did want to see everyone enjoy themselves. I worked hard at cooking all the food and Jasper knew it would make me feel bad if Edward didn't get a chance to enjoy it. "Bella, thisthis is so good. I don't know how I survived on holidays before you got here." Emmett said with his mouth full of food. I laughed because he was the only person I knew who could talk while chewing and still be understood. Years of practice, I'm sure. I smiled shyly at him and ducked my head. I felt Edward's hand rub up my back, move under my hair and settle on my neck, smoothing circles into my muscles. I peeked over and saw him beaming at me with such pride. My face was frozen as I took in the sparkle of his eyes. The pride, the happiness reflected in them caught me off guard. I had never seen anyone look at me that way. Not my mother or my father, not any of the guys I had dated in the past, no one ever looked at me like that. My heart swelled with an unknown feeling and I felt my throat constrict with strange emotions. "I don't know how I survived with her before, period." He murmured low enough that only I heard him. No one had ever been proud of me before and as I came to this realization, it made me so sad. I had cooked family meals before but not once did I ever get more than a 'thank you'. It might be selfish or vain to want the praise, but I still felt the pang of emptiness that my past held for me. I was elated to have it now but slightly morose knowing that I was twenty-two living with my boyfriend, who I had only known for months and he was the one who really appreciated me like this. Emmett's kind words had hit a soft spot I didn't know I had. I suddenly didn't have much of an appetite. Thoughts

of Phil crept up from the back of my head and his leering face pushed at my carefully constructed facade. Why, at this moment, my mind decided to remind me of my silent lie, I have no idea but it made my stomach drop and my mouth go dry. Edward must have seen the panic on my face because his eyes screwed up in confusion and concern. I smiled weakly at him to assuage his worries before I began to force food into my mouth. He didn't buy it for a minute and I shivered when he leaned in toward me. "Will you help me in the kitchen for a second?" I nodded and we both rose to excuse ourselves. Emmett laughed raucously, waggling his eyebrows at us comically before continuing his feeding frenzy. Rose just rolled her eyes and Alice looked on with concern. As soon as we were sequestered away into the kitchen, he wrapped his arms around me and leaned us against the fridge. "What's wrong?" "Nothing, I'm just feeling a little nostalgic, it's Christmas after all." "Bella" I huffed and buried my face in his chest. "No one's ever complimented me like that before. I mean you do it all the time but it's just that, my mother never even said anything like that to me and Charlie was always too oblivious about that kind of thing" "We all appreciate you. You're amazing and there's a reason why you get stuck cooking all the time." I giggled and kissed his neck. "I'm fine, I just don't take the attention very well that's all."

That and thoughts of my perverted, fucked up step-father have been intruding into my subconscious for the past few weeks and it's making me a nervous wreck.
"That's not all that's bothering you though." "Can we talk about this later?" He gave me a patronizing look and kissed me sweetly before we went back out to eat with everyone. I felt a little reserved and tried my best to participate in the conversation but I my memories of past holidays were not as cheery as everyone else's, so I resolved to listen and laugh at their tales. Once everyone was done scraping pie off their plates, we all retreated into the living room to lounge around. Emmett and Jasper were drunk. Alice and Rose were bordering tipsy when they really started knocking back the wine and Edward and I were completely sober, which made everything they said that much funnier. Emmett recounted tales of Christmas pasts from when he was a child. Stories of gag gifts, ruined dinners and trees on fire had us all cracking up. Alice suggested playing 'Never Have I Ever' with full glasses of Pinot Gris. That idea was welcomed until they realized there was only so much wine left. Emmett's boisterous voice loudly boomed over everyone as he declared we were to play Truth or Dare. I argued, profusely. "Emmett that's the stupidest game ever, it's just so clichd. We're not in high school. Why do we have to play a game anyway?" "It's not stupid or clichd and we're playing it. This isn't the usual Truth or Dare, it's Sex Truth or Dare." He retorted. I groaned, this was not what I needed right now at all. Emmett slapped his hands together after depositing his beer on the coffee table and began the rules. "Okay, so the rules are this: all truth questions must be about sex. All dares must pertain to sex. For example a truth question would be 'How many orgasms have you had in one round of sex and with whom.' And for a dare, 'I dare you totake naked picture of yourself and show me'but that one only pertains to the chicks in the room." I rolled my eyes and felt a horrible feeling worming its way into the pit of my stomach. The game started out with Alice getting a truth, then went to Rose who asked Emmett a truth, who then turned on me. I sucked in a breath after laughing at the answer everyone gave and the gnawing in my stomach increased ten fold. "Alright Bellatruth or dare?" I was royally screwed either way so I went with what everyone does when they feel like they're taking the easy way out and picked truth. That's where I fucked up. The dare would have been the smart thing. "Truth." "Alright, lemme think of a good one, give me a second." I smiled feebly at him and burrowed into Edward's side waiting for the inevitable.

"Okay, what was the most awkward sexual experience you have ever had?" Reasonably, I thought about Mitch and how we had, very scientifically, decided to have sex and how mechanical and awkward it had been. We were flailing limbs and bumping head the whole way through. Subconsciously, images of Phil watching me in my bedroom flashed in my mind and the game was over for me. I held stock still and blinked at the glass of tea in my hand before I felt the bile rising in my throat and the tears stinging my eyes.

Run, go, before they see you, run, now.

I shot up off the love seat and tripped quickly into the bedroom, bee-lining for the bathroom. I made it in time to the toilet as my dinner made a second appearance. I was clammy and cold and shaking like I was going through withdrawal. After a few preciously silent moments, I heard the bathroom door squeak open and felt Edward crouching down behind me. He touched my back and I jumped, not prepared for the contact. He rubbed soothing circles into my knotted muscles and pulled me back from the toilet, flushing it and propping me against the wall before settling down next to me. "What happened, Bella?" I shut my eyes against his probing gaze and sucked in a shaky breath before hanging my head. I felt him settle down onto the floor beside me. He was being so patient with me and I couldn't fucking hide this anymore. I didn't want to. I wanted to know now. I needed to know how he would take this. Would he still love me? Why hadn't I just told him before? Now it was going to make things so much worse. But he deserved to know. He needed to know what kind of fucked up person he loved. After all those words earlier about trust and a future, I couldn't lead him on with this any longer. "Edward, II have to tell you something. It'sabout my past, it's the reason why I'm in Chicago. I've wanted to tell you...for so long I've wanted to tell you. I don't know what will happen when I do tell you, but please just let me get this out before you say anything, okay?" I chanced a look at his face and saw confusion and concern. He nodded, encouraging me to go on and I looked back down at my knees before gathering what little strength I had to tell him my defection. AN: first of all yeah it was a cliffie and yes i'll update ASAP just digest this one first and then breathe okay? but in my defense...i updated a day early. wills and living wills...poetic license was used. Generally ,the person being named as executor has to be there to sign stuff...we're gonna pretend in SB world u don't. scary huh? So I'm super psyched! I'm being rec'd on The Perv Pack Smut Shack! Shadowboxer will be rec'd and reviewed tomorrow (Friday)! So go read it and comment and just fawn over the great perviness that is the Perv Pack! wanna see the stones? check out my profile for a look at the necklace and the ring as well as Fightward's new Archangel Raphael pendant. I'm on Twitter. Link on Profile. I'm on Blogger. Link on Profile. Link to the SB thread is also on the Profile page. enjoi.


the copy cat bullshit. the plagiarism...it has to fuckin stop ppl. If it wasn't your story, don't c/p shit. And if you are going to copy someone, give credit where credit is due. Don't act like it's yours. There's an author out there copying fics. (Well, recently there have been several, I'm only talking about one in particular right now.) They're rearranging and rewriting to their tastes. They've been on FFn for a while. They have chosen to include some scenes that were present in SB (cough::pool scene::cough) They also enjoyed SB Bella and Fightward's inner monologue so much they decided to rip that off as well (and SB wasnt the only fic being "borrowed" from although I see the most semblance with the fighting theme, similar scenes and general over all mimicking). The similarities are too much for me to ignore from themes to styles this person has no originality. I won't say too much b/c it's not worth it. What I will say is this:

Enjoy the ride on my coat-tails, I have two other original fics coming out soon and I invite you to use those ideas as well. Cheers to your asshattery, douchbaggery, and over all fuckery.
Now, for those of you who want that update ASAP... Leave Me Some Love...

*Chapter 17*: Not Even A Mouse

CHAPTER 17 EPOV NOT EVEN A MOUSE Windows Fiona Apple I was staring out the window The whole time he was talking to me It was a filthy pane of glass I couldn't get a clear view As he went on and on It wasn't the outside world I could see Just the filthy pane that I was looking through So I had to break the window It just had to be Better that I break the window Than him or her or me I was never focused on just one thing My eyes got fixed when my mind got soft It may looked like I'm concentrated on a very clear view But I'm as good as asleep I bet you didn't know It takes a lot of it away if you do So I had to break the window It just had to be Better that I break the window Than him or her or me Because the fact in fact Whatever's in front of me is covering my view So I can't see what I'm seeing in fact I only see what I'm looking through I had to break the window It just had to be it was in my way Better that I break the window Then forget what I had to say So again I've done the right thing I was never worried about that The answer's always been in clear view But even when the window's clean I still can't see for the fact That when it's clean it's so clear I can't tell what I'm looking through So I had to break the window It just had to be Better that I break the window Than him or her or me I had to break the window It just had to be it was in my way

Better that I break the window Then forget what I had to say Or miss what I should see Or breaking him or her or me EPOV
Of all the times to recall something my mother had said, right now would be the time. My mother loved her adages; she had one for every situation. The one that I should have heeded the most however, had failed to come to mind until the damage was already done.

Think three times before you say something, Edward. Think about how it affects you, think about how it affects the person you are saying it to,

and think about how it affects the situation.

Except in this situation, I had said little and done much. If I had taken the time to think about what my outburst was going to accomplish Alright, well if I'm being honest with myself, there wasn't much thinking going on at all, just unadulterated rage. I pressed my face against the seal of the bathroom door and heard her whimpering. "Bella" Her sniffles stopped for a moment and then I heard her hiccup. "Bella, please baby, come out, or let me in. Please? I'm so sorry. I'm not angry with youI justplease, let me in." I had been out here for an hour trying to gain access into the bathroom. She had flown in there after my colossal loss with reality and had been holed up crying. At least now her sobs had died down into silence for the most part. My heart ached knowing she was in there, probably curled up and hurting, while I was out here and couldn't do a damn thing. When she had gotten done talking and was just sitting there looking so fucking broken and scared, I lost all control. The light in her eyes was dulled from recalling the fucked up reason of why she was here. The killer thing was that had none of that happened to her, she would never have met me. She would not be in Chicago. That made me angry. The need to just find him, break him, kill him, was overwhelming. I hated knowing that when she needed me to be understanding and comforting, I lost my cool but I needed to let that out before I could even think about focusing on her. I had to. My eyes glanced back up at the bed and I sighed, my eyes slipping shut and my head banging back on the bathroom door. "Alright Bellatruth or dare?"

I watched her face in amusement. This was going to either be really good or really bad. I tried to send her an encouraging smile but she never looked at me.
"Truth." "Alright, lemme think of a good one, give me a second."

She smiled at Emmett and I pulled her more securely into my side, letting her know that I was here to protect her if he got out of hand.
"Okay, what was the most awkward sexual experience you have ever had?"

I rolled my eyes at his question and planned on making a smart remark but Bella tensed in my arms and I peeked down at her. Her breaths were coming in shallow gasps and her eyes were glistening with tears. She looked as white as a sheet. Suddenly, she jumped off the loveseat and ran into the bedroom. I glared at Emmett, clenching my jaw. Everyone looked stunned for a moment and Jasper sent me a sad look that made me feel uneasy. I ushered everyone out the door and thanked them before going in search of Bella. The bathroom door was closed so I pushed it open slowly and saw her hunched over the toilet. She had gotten sick and that made my panic jump up a notch. I squatted behind her and touched her back. She flinched but I kept my hand on her, rubbing slow circles on her back. She seemed exhausted, so I pulled her back against me and flushed the toilet, trying to get the smell to dissipate faster. I leaned her back against the wall and sat beside her, not looking at her so she wouldn't feel uncomfortable.
"What happened, Bella?"

I chanced a glance at her and she closed her eyes. She closed herself off from me and sucked in a breath. She looked so upset and conflicted. I was beginning to feel that nasty churn in the pit of my stomach. Something was very wrong.
"Edward, II have to tell you something. It'sabout my past, it's the reason why I'm in Chicago. I've wanted to tell you, for so long I've wanted to

tell you. I don't know what will happen when I do tell you but please just let me get this out before you say anything, okay?" I stalled. I nodded and before she could speak, I picked her up and carried her to the bed. I had no doubt what she had to tell me was going to be big and I would be upset. I could see by the sheer amount of fear on her face that what was about to happen was not going to be good. There was nothing she could say that would make me love her less, but there was plenty she could say that would hurt me. I grabbed her the box of tissues from the nightstand and handed it to her. She wiped her eyes and blew her nose before bending her legs beneath her and blowing out a deep breath.
"I told you about how I came to Chicago because I left my mom and Phil when they were in MilwaukeeI guess the best place to start would be

at the beginning though

"So, when I was seven my parents got divorced and I went to live with Reneemy mother. Things were crazy when we left Forks, and I ended up

skipping third and fourth grade and going straight into fifth. I felt really out of place there. Arizona was so different from Washington and then to

top it off, I was in a class of kids two years older than me.
"I love my mother; she was always so much fun and she was kinda like a kid, we got along great. She was so cool about everything and she

always understood, you know? Anyway, for years it was just us two and she would date occasionally but she never had anything meaningful happen with someone. One day she met Phil. I think I was around twelve or thirteen when she met him. I really liked Phil, he made my mom happy. He played baseball and seemed really stable, so I was okay with him. He was really young though. He was only twenty two and Renee had a good ten years on him.
"He never came around the house much at first but after a few months, he was always there. I mean, no kid wants to think about their parents'

sex life, so I guess when I got up in the morning and Phil was there in his pajamas, I just put it out of my mind and ignored him.
"Anyway, after a year or so of them dating, Phil was almost a permanent fixture in our house, and looking back on it now I can see how early it

started. He would randomly hug me or touch me, and at the time I thought I was just upset because he wasn't my dad. I kinda held onto that hope that Renee and Charlie would get back together.
"Philwas very physical with me then and it made me feel awkward. I avoided my mother and him when I could and I began to resent their

relationship. When I was fifteen, Renee was gone a lot because of her job and she would go out on weekends with her girlfriends. Phil would offer to stay in the house with me.
"The first time I realized that there wasn't something right with Phil was when I caught him watching me sleep. I woke up with this creepy feeling and he was there, beside my bed watching me. I tried to chalk it up to a nightmare but I know he was there. After that, he left me alone for a few

weeks until one night" She took in a shuddering breath and clenched her eyes shut. I didn't like where this was going at all. Looking at her face, twisted in fear and the tears streaming down, was hard. I wanted to pull her into my lap and just comfort her but I knew she needed to get this out. And I had to be quiet because if I did speak, I had no guarantees of what would come out of my mouth. I wasn't angry yet, but I was terrified of what I was learning.
"One night I was getting a bath. I usually prefer showers but in the house my mom bought, my bathroom came with this huge cast iron tub and I

loved it. Renee would buy me bubble bath and stuff and little sponges in the shape of ducksshe was crazy like that. Anyway, it was an strange, rainy day in Phoenix and I wanted to just relax, get a bath and read in my bed all day.
"PhilI heard him come into my room and I called out that I was getting a bath but that I would be out in a minute. I didn't lock my bathroom door because I never needed to beforeI mean, it was my bathroom. "Hehe came into the bathroom and I had just enough time to sit up and cover myself. He just stood there, watching me. And I was so embarrassed and angry that he would walk in like that. He just came over to the tub, bent down and asked if he couldwash me. I was terrified. I

was so scared and embarrassed and I didn't know what to do, so I just told him no and that I wanted him to get out. And the fucked up thing is, he just smiled and stuck his hands in the water before getting up and leaving. I was fifteen. Who the fuck does that to a fifteen year old?" Her chest shook with a silent sob and my hands were clenched so hard they were going numb. My face was a mask devoid of emotion; I had to maintain my control.
"A few months laterPhil proposed and they were married quickly. I mean, quickly. There wasn't really even a ceremony, they just went to the

courthouse and got the certificate and did it. After about a year, Phil was still doing small things here and there, like touching me or rubbing against me when he would walk by. I was so jumpy in my own home. Renee and him, they fought a lot and I knew it was because of his job. He got signed and had to go to away games a lot and she wanted to go with him. Renee didn't have much confidence in herself and I think she was convinced he would cheat on her if she wasn't there. That's when I made the decision to go live with Charlie.
"Charlie was so happy that I moved in with him. He went out and bought all this new stuff for my room. I was happy there. Charlie was dating this

woman named Sue. Sue's husband was a good friend of Charlie's and he died of a heart attack. He asked Charlie to look after Sue when he was in the hospital, and I know it wasn't what Charlie intended to happen but they fell in love, you know? I was happy for them and Sue is such a nice woman. Charlie and Sue got married right after I graduated high school. I felt horrible that they couldn't enjoy their new marriage with a seventeen year-old kid in the house, so I told Charlie that I had decided to go to college in Florida.
"Mom and Phil had moved there when Phil got traded to the Mariners. Charlie was upset but I knew he was happy to have the time with Sue."

She stopped and blew her nose. I watched with shallow breaths as she picked at the tissue and drew her knees to her chest. I was aching for her.
"The night that I came back, Phil was gone playing in an away game. He was supposed to be back the following week, and Renee and I actually

had time to just be us again. For a whole week it was nice to just be with my mom and not have to worry about avoiding Phil or what he was going to do. I almost forgot he was coming back." She chuckled darkly and ripped the tissue in half, twisting it in her hands and swallowing harshly. My fingers flexed against the comforter on the bed and I sucked in a deep breath with her.
"It was a Saturday night. Renee had gone out with her friends and I expected her to stay over at Ellen's house; she usually did when she got

drunk. Renee wasn't a bad drunk, she just didn't want to be like that around me. She would get crazy and she rarely ever drank but on the weekends anyway.

"Phil was supposed to come back the next day. I wasn't expecting him so when I heard the front door shut, I thought Renee had come home

after all and just ignored it and fell back asleep. I don't know how much longer it was but I woke upto Phil touching my face. He was stroking my neckandhe just left after that. I tried to tell myself I was dreaming again. That I was just upset that he was coming back the next day and it was my imagination running wild, but when I woke up he was there in the kitchen and asked me if I had slept well.
"Over the next few weeks I was busy with school. I went to a community college, so I stayed home with Renee. I couldn't afford the housing and I

didn't think it was necessary anyway. Things got really weird after a while. I caught Phil in my room one afternoon touching my panties and digging through my drawers. He just smiled and left when I asked him what he was doing. It was that smile. It was so fucking creepy. I didn't know what to do. Renee loves him. I couldn't ruin that for her, you know? I didn't know what to do" Her eyes watered and tears spilled down over her red, flushed cheeks. Her shoulders shook and she hunched over hugging her legs tightly.
"He took it too far. He took it too far."

I couldn't help myself, I wrapped my arms around her and pulled her close.
"It wasn't your fault, Bella." "No, it'sI'm not done"

My eyes squeezed shut because, fuck, I knew it was going to get worse and I didn't want to hear it. I didn't want to hear how some sadistic freak had hurt her. I didn't want to know. But I had to know. I had to listen and I had to help her. We had to work through this.
"Tell me baby. It's okay, we'll figure this out just tell me what happened." "I tried to avoid them both. I tried to stay away as much as possible. I didn't want to hurt Renee. She didn't deserve to be hurt again. He came

into my room one night and he touched me. He touched myhe touched everywhere and I cried. I pushed him off but he wouldn't stop and he just kept fucking smiling.
"A few days after that, when Renee had left for work, I got up thinking the house was empty. I went into the kitchen to make something to eat

quickly before I went to class and Phil cornered me. He pinned me up against the fridge and I could feel himhe was hard and he was pressing it into me and telling me that I asked for it. That I was always teasing him and that he knew about what I wanted and he was going to give it to me. I was so scared and I just kept thinking 'Oh God, Renee is going to find out and she is going hate me.' And he touched me and I got excited. I didn't want to but he was rubbing me and I gotI couldn't stop it. I hate myself so much for it. I didn't want him to touch me like that, I didn't want to respond to it but I did. God, I'm such a horrible person" It was physical pain going through me. My teeth were clenched so tight and my fists were balled up around her. I was fucking murderous.
Fucking keep it together. Be there for her. Listen, comfort, love. "He wanted me to tie him up. He said he fantasized about me tying him to the bed and spanking him. He said he knew I would like it rough and

he was going toteach mehow to please him. After that day in the kitchenwhenever Renee wasn't around, he would find a way to corner me or grab me, and he would tell me about how he pictured medoing things to himtouching him and" I rocked her and breathed deeply. No, this was not happening. No one could hurt her, she was too good, too clean to defile like this. No one would hurt her like this. The part that hurt the most was I could see the sweet nave Bella in her teen years, so happy and laughing and just being a kid and I could imagine the light dying in her eyes. The terror on her face as someone stole it from her. There is a very special place in hell for Phil and I would make sure he made it to his reservation.
"Things got really bad when I turned nineteen though. My friend Mitchhe kinda knew what was going on, although I never said anything about

it. I would stay over at his house a lot and he was a good friend. This is going to sound kind of stupid. Mitch, he wasn't really the most popular guy in the world and he was a few years older than me, he was liketwenty-two when I was nineteen, and anyway we were both virgins and we decided to just get it out of the way. I was teased a lot for being so young and in college and I was almost done with school and I wanted to just live, you know? So, we decided as friends that we would sleep together. It was awful." She laughed a little. It was strained and raspy but it alleviated the stress I was feeling a bit. I was jealous of her first experience but I couldn't afford to be, it wasn't like my first time was with her nor was it special by any means.
"I just wanted to feel normal. Mitch and I would drink together at his house and get slap drunk and just laugh our asses off at stupid shit. Watch

movies andhe was my best friend. We were so awkward and we bumped heads and it was more mechanical than anything. It hurt but not as badly as I thought it would, and I don't know. The mistake I made I guess was that instead of doing it at his place, we did it at mine. Renee was out with her friends for a week long trip to Los Angeles. Phil was supposed to be at an away game. The house was supposed to be empty all weekend. Mitch's roommates were kinda assholes, so we didn't want them walking in on us andit was a mistake to do it in my room. Mitch and Iwe did it and we laughed afterwards and he left. Nothing really changed with us and we were still cool. I justgot a shower and went back to bed. I didn't think to throw away the condom or anything.
"Phil came home that night and came into my room and he was angry. He woke me up and held me down "He started calling me a whore, saying that I ruined all this plans and that if I had just waited for him he would have made it worth it. He was so

angry and his face was so ugly and red, and he was so heavy and he just pushed me down. His hands were grabbing my chest and mymy nipples got hardI couldn't fucking help it. I couldn't stop it. I didn't want to. I didn't like it. Hekept telling me I was such a slut for teasing him and then giving away what was his. He said that I deserved everything I got. I asked for it and I should be punished for it. I cried so hard that I couldn't even fight. He was making these noises and grunting and touching me,rubbing himself against me. Hehe put hishe stuck his fingers inside me. It hurt so bad.he was so rough and I wasdry, so I don't know, it hurt andI didn't want to, I couldn't stop it, the more he touched me, the more he rubbed, I started to react I mean, my body, I gotand he tried to make me touch him. II was so scared. It was wrong. It was wrong. It felt so wrong. I felt so wrong and so dirty." Stillness. Ringing in my ears and stillness. My head was throbbing with the pressure of my anger. My face felt hot and my throat was clenched so tight. I felt like exploding to relieve myself of the tension. I wanted to hit something, anything. When she continued her voice was clinical and detached. It scared me more than her crying.
"I didn't sleep anymore. I barely ate anything because I was always afraid he was going to do something. I was so scared all the time. Last year, for my birthday, he waited until Renee went to sleep. He woke me up and gave me a box. It had a pair ofGod. It had a pair of leather panties in

it, handcuffs and a whip. Like a fucking leather riding crop whip. He looked fucking maniacal. He just laughed and said he knew I would like it. He said he couldn't wait till I tied him up. Fuck. I just
"I hid the box. I tried to throw it away but I was too scared Renee might see it in the trash. I just hid it in my closet and tried to forget it existed. The

whole situationthe whole thing just got worse. Renee wanted me to come on the road with her. I had a week left of classes. I was stressed about finals and she said that since I had one more semester before graduation, I should see the world some before I have to get a job and officially become an adult. I couldn't do anything. She wanted to spend time with me and Phil. She was so fucking excited about it. But I thought about it and reasoned that if Renee was there, there was no way Phil could do anything. I mean, his teammates would be there
"One of Phil's teammateshis name was Ryan. He was a few years older than me and he was a good guy. I wasn't really too interested in him

but he was the closest person to my age there. Phil didn't like him for a lot of reasons. I think he was jealous that Ryan was so young and made it as far as he did. Ryan always went out of his way to make me feel welcome and comfortable. I mean, it's not easy being the only young person around a bunch of guys in their late twenties or early thirties. The night that I left, the night that I justcouldn't stay anymore
"It was really lateor early, I guess. He started banging on my door, shouting and screaming for me to open up. My mom's room was only a few

doors down, so I opened up because I didn't want her to know. He came in and pushed me down onto the couch by the window and started to grab me everywhere. He was gripping me so hardmy chest, my legsso hard I knew there would be marks. He got angry and kept saying things about how I was such a tease and he was going to tell Renee how I had tried to seduce him and he said that I knew what I was doing. I was a dirty girl and I needed to be punished. Then he started to laugh and went on about howhow I made his body reacthow he touched himself and he wanted me to know he was devoted to me. He tried to get his hands into my shorts and I bit him. I didn't mean to it just, I panicked and bit his arm. He was screaming and yelling that I asked for it, that my body wanted it. He was about to hit me and Ryan yanked him off me. The door was still wide open from when Phil came in and I freaked out thinking Renee might have seen it happen.
"Ryan threw Phil out of the room and made sure I was okay. I begged him not to tell anyone. He wanted to report Phil to the team managers and

he wanted me to tell Renee what happened. He asked me how long it had been going on. I just cried and begged him not to tell anyone. Eventually, he left and I think he was angry that I wouldn't say anything.
"The final straw though, was Renee. She walked into my room that morning and she was crying and upset and I was just, frozen. I thought for

sure she knew and she was going to tell me she knew. She had something in her hand and she sat down on the bed and looked at me with her makeup all over her face and she said 'He's cheating on me'. They were my panties, Edward. She had my panties in her hand. She didn't even know they were mine but I was sick to my stomach. I didn't even remember them. They were just little green panties but they weren't hers. They were mine. So I hugged her and I cried with her, and I think she didn't understand why I was so upset and I just had to go. I knew it right then. I packed up my stuff and when I was heading out, Ryan stopped me. He asked me what I was doing and I just told him. I told him everything, kinda, I mean I was so upset I don't think he understood much buthe gave me all the money he had in his wallet and he wrote me a check for six hundred dollars, which I never cashed. He gave me his cell number and said if I ever needed help, he would be there.
"II'm sorry I didn't tell you before and I understand if youthe thing is, when I met you, I really liked you right from the start and I felt like, I

could just forget about it. I wanted to just forget and live like that shit never happened. I wanted to be normalbe in a normal relationshipas normal as this is. You made me feel like I didn't need to be ashamed of myself, and I didn't feel disgusted or awkward when you touched me, I feltdifferent. I felt like you wanted me. I didn't want to fuck that up by telling you all of this. Please, please don't be angry with me. I swear to God, I didn't want any of that, I never wanted him and I never wanted to hurt Renee or you"
Her eyes had pleaded with me to understand and I did. I understood that, that sick fuck had made her believe she was wrong. He made her feel like she brought the whole thing onto herself. I felt sick. I was so angry I was sick from it. I was frozen, like a stone, watching her tears brim and her lip quiver. Now, I understand that I should have comforted her straight away. I should have told her it wasn't her fault. I should have I should have. But I didn't.

I watched her rocking herself on the bed and I had to get away from her. I had to clear my head for a few precious moments before I hurt her on accident. I wanted to find Phil and break his neck. I wanted to go back in time and take her away from those people. I wanted to do so many things that at this point I couldn't do. I sucked in a deep breath and stood from the bed. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Bella watching me. Her eyes sparkled in the lamp light.

The only thing I was good at, the only thing I knew how to do.
Violence, anger, hatred, pain.

I walked out of the bedroom and down the hall. The emotions inside me were so much, too much. They were suffocating me. My right knee faltered and I sagged against the hallway wall. My fist struck out first and went through the sheetrock. I kicked against the wall and pushed myself away, bumping into a table that was housing a lamp. I picked it up and threw it, the cord snapping away from the wall and the heavy porcelain shattering. The dining room table still had plates on itI upended it and heard with satisfaction the crash of glass and the table cracking as it hit the floor. My breathing was labored and my muscles were tensed, ready for confrontation. The red haze and the pressing rage was still too high. I threw the bar stools and kicked at chairs. I couldn't ever take away those memories. I couldn't ever make it right. She didn't deserve that, she was good. She is good. She is the only good. She is my good and she had been hurt. No, she had been terrorized and mind-fucked. He had touched her, he had taken away her happiness and replaced it with fear. He had broken her and taken away the securityturned her on herself, made her feel shame. But fuck had she not had a reason to run, would she be here with me? Would I go back in time and erase those actions if it meant never meeting her? I benefitted from her pain. And that sadistic pedophile was still out there. That crazy fucking bastard who had hurt her and scared her and touched her. He had touched her when she was just a child. He had tried to take something that wasn't his. He had taken her trust and her innocence. But the thing that angered me the most was I had no control. I had no control over what happened. I had no control over Phil and I had no way of finding that cocksucker. But I will. I will find him. If it's the last thing I ever do. If it takes me ten years, I will find him. PhilI will kill him. I will fucking kill him.
From that moment on, I couldn't quite tell you what I broke or in what order. I couldn't tell you how I broke it. I couldn't tell you when I destroyed the Christmas tree or when I ripped the garlands off the wall or how all the holes in the walls came to be. I have no clue how long I went at destroying my own apartment. The apartment I was living in when she was living in fear. The place I came home to and took for granted. I only remember hearing the slam of the bathroom door and like a hypnotist's chime, I snapped out of it and realized my mistake. My anger had blinded me to what I needed to do. It had blinded me from what was important. My head rolled back and forth against the bathroom door. "Please Bella, please let me in. I was angry. Fuck, I love you. I just, I can't hear about youI can't hear that and not be angry and I needed to let it out. I'm not angry with you. Please, let me make this right." Silence was on the other end and I felt my emotions bubbling up to the top. My eyes prickled with wetness and my lungs clenched on a sob. I hated crying. Right now, all I wanted to do was hold her. I needed to hold her. I needed to have that affirmation that she was safe now.

But she's not, is she? She's with you, and you just proved how safe she really is.
"You're disgusted with me." The quiet reply made me jump. She was right on the other side. I sat up straight and pressed harder against the door, my mouth right next to the seal. "No, never. What he didwhat happened to you. That was not your fault. I will spend the rest of my life making sure you know that. Sick fucking bastards like thatthey only say shit like that because they need the excuse. He knew he was doing something wrong and fucking disgusting and he put that on you. You were just a kid Bella, but you're older now. If you saw him doing it to another little girlwould you blame her?" I heard her crying again, and I wished like hell I could get into this fucking bathroom. "Itwasmy f-fault. I s-should have s-said s-something. And I g-gotIhe th-thought I l-liked it." "He wanted you to think you liked it. He wanted to think he wasn't doing something wrong. Baby, you gotta open this door. I need to see you. Please, let me make this right." Silence. I couldn't even hear her crying anymore. I was reaching the end of my rope, again. I didn't know what was going to kill me first, the anger I felt at that fucker for what he did or the shame at myself for how I handled this whole situation. My hand came up to press against the white washed wood and I leaned against my arm. "Just...Bella, I need you right now. Please, come out here. Please, we don't even have to talk about anymore right now. Just come out here. I'm so sorry. I love you. I love you so much and I'm hurting right now because you hurt, and I want to make it right for the both of us." I heard her shifting and a light thud before the door cracked open. I scrambled up and waited for her to clear the door before I yanked her into my arms and crushed her to my body. My arm went around her waist and my hand buried itself into her hair, anchoring her head to my chest. I pressed

kisses to her temple and on the crown of her head. "I love you. I'm so sorry. I'm so, so sorry. Bella, I love you and you are not a bad person. You did not deserve that." She shook and cried, and I held her close, letting her get it all out. I carried her to the bed and held onto her tightly, irrational fear that she would run again. "Don't run away. Don't leave. I'm here. I want you hereI'll fix thiswe'll fix this. I'll make right, I swear" My voice died out and I swallowed thickly against my own tears. She couldn't leave me. I would go after her, I would beg her but she couldn't leave. "Please, say you'll stay here. Say you'll let me help you?" "Yeah, I'll stay. I mean, if you still want me here, shit I'll stay here." I chuckled at her response and hugged her to me. She was tired and I cradled her until she fell asleep. For the first time in months, she slept peacefully. After a few hours of listening to her breath and thinking of ways to rectify this situation, I slipped out of the bed and shut the bedroom door. Thankfully it was the one part of the house that survived my tantrum. I straightened up the living room, deciding the tree was not salvageable and neither was the dining room table. Which was a shame 'cause Bella and I had christened some damn good times on it. I would need to get another one soon. I felt shitty sweeping up all those ornaments. I would have liked to keep them. One caught my attention. It was still intact with a hairline crack at the top. It had 'Christmas '09' written on it in silver glitter. I set it up on the bookshelf softly, with the utmost reverence. After I did as much cleaning and straightening as I could, I went into my office and pulled out my cell phone. I dialed the number with determination. "Yeah?" "I need your help. Meet me at Galway's in thirty minutes." I hung up, grabbed my keys and scrawled a note to Bella in case she woke up early. I shrugged on my leather jacket and headed out the door. I would take care of Phil if it was the last thing I did.

At the end of the day, Fightward is still Fightward. So, who'd he call? That was by far the hardest chapter to write. ever. EVER. So, since I'm all angsted out and upset over here...you should...you know... Check out my profile for links. Leave Me Some Love...

*Chapter 18*: I Am The Prince And The Pauper


Father & Son Fiona Apple and Johnny Cash

Father It's not time to make a change, Just relax, take it easy. You're still young, that's your fault, There's so much you have to know. Find a girl, settle down, If you want you can marry. Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy. I was once like you are now, and I know that it's not easy, To be calm when you've found something going on. But take your time, think a lot, Why, think of everything you've got. For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not. Son How can I try to explain, when I do he turns away again. It's always been the same, same old story. From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen. Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away. I know I have to go. Father It's not time to make a change, Just sit down, take it slowly. You're still young, that's your fault, There's so much you have to go through. Find a girl, settle down, if you want you can marry. Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy. Son All the times that I cried, keeping all the things I knew inside, It's hard, but it's harder to ignore it. If they were right, I'd agree, but it's them you know not me. Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away. I know I have to go.

To say that Bella's past didn't shock me would be a lie. To say that I saw her no differently would definitely be a lie. The newly shared information didn't make her weak in my eyes. In fact, that she had dealt with the abuse for as long as she had and not lost her mind just proved to me how strong and devoted to her mother she was. I looked at the whole thing as objectively as possible, as objectively as I could while simultaneously on the verge of losing my cool. The only thing I could come up with was a handful of hard facts. One, Phil was a depraved sexual predator. Whether he was a pedophile or just enjoyed terrorizing women, I don't know but he had a strange fixation with Bella that needed to be rectified. Two, Renee was the shittiest mother I had ever heard of. That she would live in a house with this man and her daughter and never see a sign of anything wrong was beyond me. If she did know something was going on, that made her even worse in my eyes as she did nothing about it. Three, Bella did blame herself for what happened with her step father and she was holding onto that guilt. This needed to be addressed before anything else. I had no chance of helping her find closure where Phil was concerned if she was busy beating herself up over his actions. And lastly, I had a way to give her the peace she needed in order to move on with her life, with our life. There was no way she would completely relax without the knowledge of what happened to her mother and Phil. I swallowed the last of my coffee and left a twenty on the bar before heading out. Bella would no doubt still be asleep and I was glad this meeting had only taken an hour. Any longer and I risked her waking up without me there. Note or no note, she would get the wrong idea. I slid into the Volvo and sped home, well as much as I could through the traffic. As detached as I was trying to be while putting my plan together, I couldn't avoid the implications it would have on our relationship. This was clearly an issue that we would need to address. I could easily go back in time, in my memories and understand her strange behaviors. The nervous way

she would watch over her shoulder when we went out, the way she never fully relaxed at The Ring when working. I had attributed it to her shyness but now it took on a different light. My mind took me back the encounter we had with Jacob Black and our romp in the prep room. I cringed as I pulled into a vacant spot in front of the apartment building. I was too fucking rough with her. She seemed to be okay though. In fact, she seemed to be okay every time we had sex. I wasn't going to pretend to be a psychologist and try to analyze every touch and kiss, but it did worry me that maybe she tried to just soldier on through it for my benefit. I blew out a breath and exited the Volvo, making my way out of the windy cold and into the chilly building. I took the stairs quickly and quietly let myself into the apartment. Everything looked the same in the living room and hallway - partly straightened destruction. I made a mental note to call Alice and tell her I would be paying for the damages myself this time and have her look for a new table and lamp; she would enjoy that. Snorting, I kicked off my shoes and removed my jacket. On the way down the hall I sucked in a huge breath and peered into the bedroom. The clock read just a little past five. She hadn't moved and the note still lay on the bedside table. I crumpled it up and threw it away before stripping down and getting into bed.

What she doesn't know won't hurt her.

I was still chilled and waited for my body to warm up before pulling her into me. She stiffened slightly and I winced at my tactlessness. Of course, I had never warned her before and I had to tread carefully with my actions now. If I went out of my way for her, she would know and feel guilty. If I ignored it and continued on like I normally would, I risked coming off like an asshole. Clenching my eyes closed, I tried to sort all the thoughts in my head into categories. Filing them away into separate sections so that I could sort through them easier later. My actions this morning would be hard to explain. I knew I couldn't mention it to her right now; it would only cause her undue stress. I would take a big hit from her on this, I knew that. But I had to do something. I made my bed the minute I made that phone call and I knew it had to be done. Bella would never find the strength to do this. She would reason her way out of it at any chance. She wouldn't risk hurting her mother but I on the other hand, had no qualms over who got hurt, as long as Bella was justified and got her due. She deserved retribution and she would have it. My fingers wandered to her arms and I stroked a soft pattern onto her skin. The warmth from her body paired with the softness of the bed and the fatigue from staying awake so long had me asleep in minutes. When I woke up, I felt Bella's absence. I was alone in bed and it was near ten o' clock. I was still tired but I pushed myself to get up and find her. Stretching, I pulled on my jeans and a sweatshirt before wandering out into the living room where Bella had made a vast improvement at cleaning the place than I had. "Emmett came and got the tree and took it down to the dumpster. Jasper had this tub ofstuff for the walls." I looked over and saw her by the TV stand glopping white, pasty shit into one of the holes I had made. I didn't want to tell her we would need to get a wall patch and that what she was doing was essentially going to crack later when it dried, so I didn't. I just grinned at her, grabbed a putty knife and followed her lead. Soon enough we had the holes filled up and I prayed they wouldn't crack, or that I would be able to fix them without her knowing. Something told me her attempt at fixing the walls was more for my benefit than Alice's. "Aliceinvited me over, she wants to talk and I figure it might be good, you know? So I told her we would do something tomorrowI hope you don't mind." She looked down at her feet and I pulled her into my arms before she started to full out pout. "I think that's a great idea. Just...if you get uncomfortable, I'll be here okay?" She nodded into my chest and I sighed heavily. Ideally, I didn't want to leave her alone at all. I felt as if I should hole us up in this apartment, say fuck the fight, and just nest here until she forgot what happened to her. But realistically, I knew that would never happenwithout a lot of fighting on her end at least. I released her and watched with worried eyes as she padded down the hallway and into the bedroom. A few minutes later I heard the shower turn on. I made myself some coffee, retreated into my office and booted up my laptop. I hadn't used the damn thing in weeks and it hummed quietly as the log-in window popped up. In no time I was online and logging into my email. The arrow hung indecisively over the last email in my inbox. The sender was a law office here in Chicago. My breath caught and the pit in my stomach sank a little lower. It had been sent two days ago so it couldn't have anything to do with my meeting this morning. I clicked on it and scanned the message quickly. And then read it again. It was the day after Christmas and I doubted the office would be open, but I wanted to hear their voicemail message and at least see if they were legit. The phone rang five times before a man picked up. "Steve Benton." "Um, yes, I received an email from Benton and Thompson Law OfficesI actually didn't expect anyone to answer" "Mr. Cullen?" "No, I still go by Masen."

"Ah, alright well Mr. Masen, we've been trying to locate you for some time, five years to be exact. Your grandfather's will needs to be disbursed and you are the only recipient left who hasn't claimed their share." My breathing grew short and I gripped the edge of the desk. My grandfatherGrandfather Masen. My father's father. My real father's father. "Mr. Masen? Are you there?" "Yes, I'm still here. I wasn't awarewell, I was aware there was a will, I just...I had assumedmy mother, she was" "Yes, your mother was edited from the will however you were not. There is quite an inheritance waiting for you Mr. Masen." "I can only imagine." "How's this, the offices don't open back up for these sort of things until January 4th" "No! I mean, II won't be in townI'm going out of the country thetwenty-eighth and I would like to have it done as soon as possible. I wont be back for quite some timeI hate to be an inconvenience." "Of course, I understand and it's no inconvenience. If you wouldn't mind, perhaps tomorrow morning we could meet at my office at nine and sign the paperwork accordingly. It won't take but an hour to go over everything and to answer any of your questions. Just bring your driver's license and social security card. Your grandfather was an amazing client and I don't mind at all." "Thank you, I'll be there." "Have a good day, Mr. Masen, and Happy Holidays." "You too." I set the phone down and leaned back in my chair. Thank God he bought that story and agreed to meet tomorrow. Who knew what kind of condition I would be in after New Year's. My mind quickly went back to Grandpa Masen's house on Lake Bluff. It was enormous and I could recall all the old furniture and paintings adorning the walls. As a child, I loved the dark colors and old feel of the house. It felt like a mystery house, as if it were haunted. Later on in life I realized it might have been. When Grandmother Masen died, Grandpa had shut the house up with thick curtains and became a recluse. I loved my grandfather and he was the only person along with my mother that I had missed when I left. I knew whatever he left me was going to be valuable. Masen was an old name in Chicago. Grandpa had been born in the early 1900's and he was born into wealth. He grew up in that house, married in that house, lost a wife in that house and then died in it. As far as I knew, it had gone to some relative. I had plenty of aunts and uncles, along with their children who could have gained the famous Masen Mansion. My knuckles rubbed into my eyes and I heard Bella moving around in the next room. She was going to Alice's in the morning and I would need to tell Jasper that I had an important meeting to go to. He would understand. Bella popped her head in the office. "Hey, are you okay?" "What? Yeah, just checking my email. Come here." I pulled her into my lap and leaned us both back, rocking gently and holding her close. I threaded my fingers through her damp hair and rested my cheek on her shoulder. "I love you. No matter what happened to you in the past, I love you." "I love you, too. I'm so-" "No. You're not sorry. I mean, you shouldn't be sorry; don't be sorry. Nothing was your fault, Bella. I was thinking that maybe if you wanted to talk to someone, we could find a personfor you to talk to." "I I'll think about it, okay? I just want us to get through this first. The fight James it's only a few days away so, lets just take this one step at a time." I kissed her neck and sighed. She was right and I hated that this fight was putting so must stress on everyone. I actually started to think my reasons for wanting to do this were a little stupid now. It was too late though and I wanted - no, I needed to win this. This wasn't just a fight, this was everything in my life that I had been going against. Not fighting James was giving up and I hadn't done that yet. Not through the drugs or the alcohol or the poverty that I had put myself through. I'd made it this far and I wasn't going to quit. Something also told me that James wasn't going to let this go either way; he would come after us outside of the ring. Bella sighed into my neck and I squeezed her to me tighter. I was never going to quit.

The minute Bella was out of the apartment, I dialed Jasper. He was against letting me out of training for the day considering I was up against James in a matter of days, but he relented to a few hours of absence. I threw on a few layers of clothes and was out the door. I'd made it to the law office in just under an hour and had a few minutes to spare. I glanced at the time on my phone and bounced on my feet, nervously blowing my breath out into my hands. Tugging at the beanie on my head, I adjusted the short bill and pulled the edges over my ears securely in a vain attempt to ward off the wind. I could feel the hairs of my sideburns tickling my ears and thought randomly about a hair cut. Would Bella like it better cut shorter? She liked yanking on it a lot - shit I liked her yanking on it a lot. When was the last time I'd actually had a haircut? When did I ever think about getting my hair cut this much?

Since you became a woman. Since you lost your manhood to a 5'2" brunette. Check her purse for your balls. I bet that's where she keeps them.
The steam from my breath blew around my face and I missed the days when I used to smoke cigarettes. I could use one right about now. Squinting into the early morning light, I heard the clap of dress shoes on pavement and turned my attention to a man wearing a large wool coat over what appeared to be a three piece suit. I quirked an eyebrow at him but he either missed it or chose not to acknowledge it. He had to be freezing.

Lawyers are cold blooded, remember?

I pushed down the snort that was building in my throat and followed him into the building. It was just as cold in there as it was outside, minus the wind factor. I flexed my fingers again, trying not to fidget. He led me to an office in the back of the building and I looked around as he opened his brief case and began unloading thick files. I studied him while he was distracted and noted his youth. He wasn't much older than me, but still, much too young to be a lawyer at a firm this established. He looked familiar, but I couldn't put my finger on it. "Well Mr. Masen, let's get started shall we?" I nodded and plopped down into an overstuffed leather chair in front of his desk. My feet reclined out in front of me I looked the picture of indifference; though inside, I was gnawing away my stomach lining. Lawyers always made me nervous. "Well, your grandfather left you the largest portion of his fortune. As you know, the will was served eight years ago when he died. However, your portion of the will was set to be disbursed on your twenty-first birthday. We were unsuccessful in locating you until recently-" "How did you, by the way? Locate me, I mean." "You were recently admitted into Lincoln Park Hospital" He trailed off and I had a feeling that was the only explanation that I was going to get. I had to wonder who dropped the ball on that one. Most likely they had a private investigator looking for me. I nodded absently and tried not to squirm under his heavy glare. "As I was saying, we were unable to locate you until recently so the funds have been frozen. Monetarily you have been bequeathed eleven point eight million dollars. The exact number is here." He pushed a crisp paper across his large desk to rest in front of me. All I had to do was lean forward and look at it. "Also, he left to you family property in Ireland, as well as the estate on Highland Park-" "Wait, that housethat was my father's househow could Grandpa Masen" "The estate on Highland Park was a family estate. When your father died it was put back into your grandfather's hands. I am not privy to any of the other matters pertaining to that property."

'any of the other matters pertaining to that property.'

The pieces were falling into a disorganized puzzle. Grandpa Masen made mother leave when she remarried. He made her leaveand along with her, me. I wanted to feel betrayed and cheated of my childhood home, but I could understand where he was coming from. She had betrayed my fatheror at least that's how Grandpa Masen saw it.

And that's how I saw it.

"In addition to the property on Highland Park, you were also left the family estate on Lake Bluff. In summary, the money and the properties combined bring the net worth of this bequeathal to roughly twenty-three million. This is the key to a safety deposit box; the instructions and so forth are in this folder. If you want you can review this disbursement contract. Here is the check and documents that will allow your bank to process the liquid funds, and this folder contains the deeds and paperwork for the properties I have listed. If you wish, and this is completely up to you, I can continue holding these documents. I have worked your grandfather's cases for many years, and before that my father did. We have been with the Masen family for a long time. Feel free however, to do as you wish." I leaned forward and peered at the check on the table as if it were a viper snake. It was larger than a normal check - faded green and gold, the neat, bold letters glared at me in the natural light emitting from the windows. I sucked in a deep breath. "You can't be serious?" He looked at me blankly and sighed. "I am nothing if not serious. Don't worry, this is a common reaction. I assure you, you have nothing to lose by cashing that check. I'll hold onto these documents until you come to claim them, if that would make you feel better."

I shook my head and bit my lip, a habit I was getting from Bella. "No, I'llI'll take it. I'm going to think about your offer to continue on with these accounts and I'll get back to you. I just need some time to sort through all this." He nodded and gestured toward the release of disbursement. "Also, if you wouldn't mind, I need to make a copy of your driver's license and social." I dumbly pulled my wallet out and handed him the necessary cards before picking up his expensive pen and signing my name. When he returned, he placed the copies into a separate folder and filed them away. He collected all the papers on the desk and bundled them into a small accordion folder and handed it to me. "Thank you." "You have my number in case you have any questions. Please, do not hesitate to call and ask." "I will. Thanks again." "Um" I stopped at the door and turned to see him awkwardly rubbing his neck. "What?" "I just wanted to say, I'm really sorry about what happened to your father. You don't remember me, but we used to play together at the barbeques your family had. Your father and my fatheryou were younger than the rest of us, so it makes sense you don't remember. For what it's worth, he loved you a lot." I sucked in a deep breath and gave a curt nod. "Thank you." And I was gone. Out the door and down the street, gripping that folder tightly and practically speed walking back to the apartment. I flew into my office and deposited the whole thing into the portable fire safe in the closet. I turned the key and stepped back to watched it, like it was going to burst into flames. My phone buzzed in my pocket and I pulled it out noticing Bella's face on the screen. I closed my eyes for a moment and cleared my throat before answering. "Hey."

"Hey, I'm at The Ring, where are you? Jasper said you had an errand to run."
"Yeah, I uh, I'll tell you about it later okay? I'll be up there in a few minutes."

"Is everything alright? You sound kinda weird."

"No, I'm fine. Just tired and kinda dreading the workout today after all that food you twisted my arm to eat."

"What? Oh, I see how it is. That's cool, next Christmas and Thanksgiving you're getting tofu."
"Now, now, Bella. You know much I love you and how much it hurts me when you say things like that. Let's not act rashly. You know I like it when you strong arm me." I heard her snort and I smiled. The nerves in my stomach were calming and settling down, and the knot in my head was dissipating.

"I love you, too. You need to get here soon, Jasper's about to have a coronary and Emmett is making it worse."
I laughed. "Alright, I'll see you when I get there, bye."

I shook my head and ended the call. She was going to be my demise with these fucking squishy feelings she caused. My chest tightened when I realized I didn't even ask if she was alright after talking to Alice.

Rushing again, I changed and grabbed my gym bag, hauling ass and making it to The Ring just before ten-thirty. "Where the fuck have you been? Do you realize how much later we are going to have to stay now? I was going to take Alice out tonight you douche bag!"

"Well, its karma. You made me come in early and stay late before Christmas and you did that shit on purpose, don't act like you didn't. We're even. Besides, I had to do it for a month and you only get to miss out on a day." He grimaced and nodded at me as we walked back to the locker rooms. I sighed heavily before starting in on what would surely be considered hell on earth. I limped into the elevator and hit the up button. Fuck those stairs. My back was aching and my legs burned. Jasper might have felt sorry about all those times he made me stay late, but it seemed his vindictive nature won out. I really shouldn't have made those faces at him during Christmas dinner when I shoveled that pie in my mouth. The moaning noises were probably what sent him over the edge though. I grunted as I shifted the bag on my shoulder and took a deep breath when the elevator doors opened. I finally managed to hobble my way into the apartment and stopped short in the entryway to listen. It was completely dark and dead silent. Bella should have been home hours ago. I dropped my bag and strained my ears to hear. "Bella?" I pulled out my cell phone and dialed her number. I heard the ringer go off and my eyes snapped to her phone lighting up on the coffee table. From the glow of her phone I saw her face. She was asleep on the couch and I blew out a breath, shaking off the paranoia I felt. I shut off her phone and squatted down next to her. A candle was burned out on the coffee table and one of the leather bound journals I had gotten her for Christmas laid opened with one of those cheap Bic pens. I closed it without looking and picked her up. She struggled a little at first and I hushed her. Sinking back down into my arms, I carried her into the bedroom slowly. No need to run us both into a corner or a wall. She sighed as her body touched the mattress and I carefully pulled off her clothes until she was in her panties and tucked her under the covers. "T-shirt" I turned and smirked at her sleepy demand. Stripping off my jacket and sweatshirt, I tossed the shirt I was wearing to her. She sleepily and greedily, yanked it over her head and hummed. "You are so weird." But she was already asleep again and I snorted, shaking my head, before kicking off my shoes and pants. It was cold in the room and my hair was still damp from the shower I'd taken at the gym. The sheets were cool and I shivered, cuddling up to her. Despite how tired I was and the fact that I would need to be up early, I couldn't get to sleep. Bella curled into my side and I played with the ends of her hair that tickled my chest. "I went to a lawyer's office today." I spoke almost inaudibly. "He was disbursing my grandfather's will. I should have gotten it years agobut they couldn't find me." She snored softly and I grinned. "He left me like, millions of dollars and property. I don't know what to do with it. I don't even really think it's real. What do you do when that kind of thing happens to you?" I didn't expect an answer or maybe I did, so I stopped as if to give her time to respond. "Somehow I know what you would say. You would tell me that I deserve this, that I should take this and just be happy. But who the fuckI mean, I can't wrap my head around it, Bella. I can't fathom that much money. I grew up not really knowing anything other than I was better off than most. I was never concerned with the money." I paused not knowing what else to say but as I was about to resolve myself to sleep, the words bubbled up. "He left me the house on Highland Park. I grew up in that house. I loved that house. The house my father and I lived in. The backyard he taught me sports in. That houseit just seems like such a gyp you know? I don't want the money, I don't want the house or the land, or any of that shit. I want my dad back. But he's never coming back and today I realized that I wasn't the only one who felt the impact of his death. My grandfather felt it, he lost a child just as I lost a father. He felt just as betrayed as I did when she remarried. He felt just as angry as I did. He knewhe knew that I would want to get away from it. That's why he left me all that money and property. A place to go and money to get there." The tears fell down my face bitterly. "But now that I have the money and the houses, I don't ever want to see them again. I don't ever want to go back there. He's not there. He's gone. And nothing is ever going to bring him back. So, I'm going to do what I think is right, baby. I'm going to take care of you and I'm never going to leave you, not ever. I'm never going to leave you. I'm never going to do that to you." Now I had a choice to make. I had the money, I had the financial security. I didn't have to fight ever again. I could avoid the pain and the agony and back out now. I could take Bella away to some far off island in the middle of the ocean and we could live there alone and make love on the beach while she wore nothing but my ring on her finger. I could, but I wouldn't. I couldn't let the little shit win. I couldn't let people like James and King get away with manipulating and rigging the world to their tastes. I would stand up to them, like my father had. I would not cower away from this. I had to do this. I had to fight. I had dreams and

aspirations once upon a time and Bella gave that back to me, but nothing like it was before. This would have to do. I would make up for all the dreams and all the plans my father had for me by fighting. I would fight and I would win. I would be the man that Bella could be proud of, that my father would be proud of. Sunday came much too soon. I woke up before Bella and decided to let her sleep in. She was sleeping through the night now but she still hadn't gotten much rest in the past few days. I threw on some sweats and a t-shirt before padding into the kitchen. I put on a pot of coffee and wandered into my office. It was still dark out and the curtains were drawn so I clicked on the desk lamp and watched as the yellow light barely lit the room past the desktop. Leaning against the desk, I looked into the shadowed closet and stared at the safe on the floor. Contemplating things, my curiosity got the better of me. I opened it and pulled out the thick accordion folder. I set it gingerly on my desk and popped the latch on it.

It's not a bomb. The boogy man isn't going to pop out of it. Open the fucking thing and look at it.
My fingers brushed over the unlabeled tabs and settled at the very first pocket. I pulled out the heavy yellow envelope and flipped the seal open. A key slid out and I palmed it. It was brass and long, the teeth scraped sharply on my skin. It felt almost new, if not for the tarnish, I would think it was. Next was a yellowed envelope. I saw the Masen family crest printed on the flap, my name was written in a sinewy scrawl that I knew was my grandfathers. Taking a deep breath I tore it open and pulled out the paper. It was thin and stiff, fine quality - like everything he'd owned. Flipping it open, I read the last words I would ever have from him.

Edward, If you are reading this, then I have gone to join your grandmother, my dear Lizzy. I know