Chapter 1


"Bella, wake up. If you want to make it to the beach before sunset then we should've been on the road twenty minutes ago!"

Rosalie's barking infiltrates my pleasant dreams, and I roll over to check the time on my phone. It's 5:00 A.M. and way too early for this shit. We are more than three quarters of the way through our trip across the country, which means there's finally a light at the end of the tunnel. Don't get me wrong; I love Rosalie Hale more than just about anyone else in the world, but when I signed on to be part of her mid-twenties crisis, I must have been high as a fucking kite.

We're on our way to sunny Florida to experience the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and despite my bossy, ever-nagging companion, I cannot wait. Together, Rose and I grew up in Forks, Washington, an insufferably small town, barely clinging to the northwestern tip of the country. The ocean is nearby, but it's not the same. The Pacific is a beautiful sight when the sun comes out, but that's hardly ever. The beaches near Forks are typically cold, gray, and littered with driftwood—definitely not the sugar-white sands and turquoise waters of the Gulf that I've been reading about.

We're making excellent timing, thanks to lead feet and ten-hour driving shifts, but this is the third day in a row I've been rudely awakened by my blonde-haired drill Sargent and shoved into a car.

I'm officially over it.

After showering, brushing my teeth, and throwing on some comfortable clothes, I drag my sorry ass, along with my suitcase, out to the trunk of the car. Rose revs the engine of her small but powerful Mercedes as a gesture of impatience. I begged her to stop in Kansas City last night, but she insisted we make it to Arkansas before stopping to rest. So here we are, and even at five in the morning, the heat is thick and suffocating.

When she honks the horn at me just as I'm reaching for the passenger door handle, I resist the urge to reach in and rip the blonde ponytail right off her head. Instead, I take a deep breath and remind myself of the reason behind her madness. Last month, Rosalie ended her three-year relationship with Greg Newton, that insignificant prick. She caught him in his dorm room with Irina Denali, a cheap, bottle-blonde whore, who has nothing, and I mean nothing, on Rosalie.

Greg's younger brother, Mike, is our age and has had a boner for me for as long as I can remember. He's even more insufferable than his pig-headed brother, and I've spent half my life ignoring his advances.

Alas, when Rose propositioned me with two weeks of sand and sun as a gift to ourselves for making it through college alive, I couldn't turn her down. She was heartbroken, and I'm her best friend; it's my duty to do whatever it takes to help her get over the unworthy scumbag. However, as we drive through the stifling, pitch black morning, and Rose begins singing at the top of her lungs to the various songs on the 'Kiss My Ass, Greg Newton' soundtrack, I find myself calculating and contemplating the many ways in which I can kill her, dispose of the body before the sun rises, and continue the trip solo.

Twelve more hours. Just twelve more hours.

This is my mantra.

Somewhere between Arkansas and wherever we are now, I apparently mantra'd myself to sleep, because the next thing I know, Rose is pinching my arm to wake me up.

"Ouch, damnit!" I sit up, smacking away her manicured hand.

"We're at our last stopping point; only four hours left!" she exclaims, bouncing in her seat.

I look around, and it feels as though we're in a different country altogether. There's literally nothing around us.


At least in Forks there are trees to look at, an occasional mountain or two. But here, in the middle of East Jesus, there's just nothing for miles around us. The air that blows in through my window is hot and soupy, making breathing almost impossible.

"Where the hell are we?"

"Mississippi," Rose says in a terrible southern accent.

I laugh despite myself and step out of the vehicle to stretch my limbs. She hooks the car up to the gas pump and searches for a place to slide her credit card. The gas station appears to have not changed since 1947, and I know she's not going to find what she's looking for.

"Dude, these pumps are ancient. I think we have to pay inside," I tell her, pulling the matted hair off my back and mashing it into some sort of bun on the top of my head.

She scoffs at the inconvenience. "Fine, we may as well pee and get some water while we're here."

We walk into the small, un-air conditioned gas station, and I almost gag at the smell of petroleum and human sweat. The tenant—a creepy, toothless fellow—takes no measure to hide his ogling as we walk to the small cooler in the back to grab some bottled water. The creep whistles his appreciation at us, and Rose and I look at each other.

"Let me handle this," she says. "I'm going to pay and ask Cletus over there for a bathroom key, and then you and I are out of here."

God, I love it when she takes charge.

The clerk's grin widens and his eyebrows do-si-do across his forehead as we approach the counter. "What can I get for you little ladies?" His twang is thick and consumes every word he speaks.

Rose almost growls, and I have to grab her elbow to remind her that we have a beach to get to. Cletus is not worth it.

"I'll take forty on the pump and these waters. And can we get a key to the restroom, please?"

I nod, proud of her composure.

"You gals sure are pretty little things. If I had to guess, I'd say y'all weren't from around here," he says, making no move to scan our items or ring up the gas.

Rose cocks an eyebrow. "How on earth did you guess?" she says, shoving the two bottles of water across the counter. She's so deadpan; I love it.

"Well, ain't nobody 'round here pretty as you two. Especially you, blondie. Where y'all headed in that fancy car, anyhow? Maybe I could join you, and we could have some real fun," he says, rolling a toothpick from one side of his mouth to the other with his tongue. He's dangling the bathroom key inches from Rose's reach.

I sigh and release her elbow, giving her the all-clear to reply how she sees fit. She does not disappoint.

"Listen, you trout-mouthed yokel, give me my receipt and the key to the restroom, or I'll reach down your throat and remove your balls through your mouth," she says. If looks could castrate . . .

"Ooh wee! All right, don't get yer pretty little panties in a knot," he says and hands her the key. It's zip-tied to a long, wooden paddle with a message on its side imploring the reader to Git er done. "Y'all come back, now," he says with a suggestive wink, rolling the toothpick back to the other side of his tar-stained lips.

An audible sound of disgust is the only response Rose gives as we walk back into the heat.

I feel bad for having slept all day, and after using the deplorable facilities and tossing the key onto the doorstep of the seedy station, I volunteer to take the wheel for the rest of the journey. Rose pumps gas as I unlatch the roof and put the top down.

When the tank is full, she hangs up the pump and hops over the door, landing gracefully in the passenger seat. "Let's get the hell out of here."

She doesn't have to tell me twice. I put the pedal to the metal and floor it back to the highway.


Thanks for reading, guys! This story will have alternating POV's, and up next is Edward and Emmett. I plan to post at least once a week, and the story is about half way finished as it stands. Thanks to Fran for helping me decide which plot bunny to run with, and for betaing. See you guys next week!