Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or its original characters. No copyright infringement is intended with the posting of this story.

A/N: Thanks for coming back. I'm really sorry it's taken me so long to update this story. If you read my last A/N you know I had foot surgery back in November. Well, everything went pretty smoothly with that, and I've finally graduated from my knee scooter to walking with a cane this week- yay for sweet slow progress! Aside from my foot though, I've recently had to deal with some other pretty wild and then heartbreaking things and that's honestly what kept me from coming back sooner. Let's just say pregnancy loss sucks and it's no easier the second time around. I'm a firm believer in everything happening for a reason, so now I'm just doing my best to stay focused on my distractions and remain in my happy place... my happy place being knee deep in writing these stories. I'll be aiming to do bi-weekly (if not weekly) updates from here on out. Many thanks to my pre-reader, BPlemons, *mwa*!

Now, let's get back to Prima.


Nothing Gold Ever Stays

Chapter 12

Action Without Reaction



As soon as I reach the first tree lying across the ground, I take a seat over its dead rotting trunk and rub my hands up and down my arms to settle my breathing.

The sun is about to set over the blue and green ocean water.

I can see the shades of red mixing in with the yellow and burnt orange as they begin to take control of the sky high above me.

My hands find my face, and my head begins to shake side to side while I mumble incoherently into my open palms. I do this over and over again until my need for fresh air eventually takes control.

"No, no, no, no!"

What did I just witness? How could he?! Why would he? How could SHE? What is even happening?!

Am I losing my mind, or has the entire universe tilted into some bizarro world where nothing is supposed to make sense, and it was all just a figment of my twisted imagination triggered by the hot summer sun?

Emmett with Ben's mom… like that… in that way...

Just, no.

I've never been more repulsed in my entire life.

The way they were going at it, and the fact Mrs. Tori had literally just arrived… clearly, that wasn't the first time they've hooked up. Clearly, it was something they've both been planning and anticipating for quite a while.

Oh my, God, does Ben know?

Is this what they were arguing about last summer when we'd all first arrived at Prima, and they weren't talking?

Is this why Ben's been fighting with his parents and why he's become so desperate to leave their home to start college in the fall?

It must be.

It has to be.

It's the only thing that makes sense.

My head falls into my lap, and I take in a deep breath, then slowly exhale. When I sit back up again, I close my eyes and do my best to focus on the sounds coming from the trees where their branches are swaying in the wind above me.

If I really listen hard, I can hear laughing coming from the main beach.

My family and friends are managing to have a good time without me.

Their world is unchanged.

How nice for them.

Just as my heart begins to settle down, a brand new panicked thought rushes over me.

What if Edward goes looking for you?

What if he walks in and sees his stupid brother standing there with his pants at his ankles and Mrs. Tori on her knees?

Like a bolt of lightning, I jump up from where I'm sitting.

My legs carry me over the soft grass and dirt leading my way between all of the trees so I can get back down to the water. When I reach the clearing, I take in one last deep breath then carefully let it all out, shaking my arms down at my sides.

Edward sees me right away.

He smiles, not really noticing that I've come down through the woods, then holds out a plate as soon as I'm a few feet away, "I was just about to go looking for you. Ri showed up right after you took off. You must have just missed each other."

I force a smile of my own and look over his shoulder where I see Alice and Irina giggling together in secret. I envy their carefree spirit and instantly wish I could rewind my life and go back in time to erase the x-rated images of Emmett and Mrs. Tori that are still wreaking havoc in my head.

"Everything okay? You look a little pale."

I'm being too quiet.

Edward's going to catch on.

Act normal, Swan, or suffer the consequences!

"What? Yeah. I'm... I'm Fine. Actually, I think I'm getting a headache. Too much sun and fun today," I lie, rubbing at my temples.

"Well, eating something should help. Plus the sooner we get finished with this, the sooner we can get out of here and up to the tree house without any adult supervision."

A soft smile finds its way across my lips, and my cheeks flush. Edward's entire face lights up with my reaction making me grin even more.

"The absence of adult supervision will be very much needed tonight," I tease before popping a small cherry tomato into my mouth.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see someone coming down from the circle at the top of the hill.

It takes everything in me to not turn and look, but I already know if I see Emmett or Mrs. Tori I'll likely give myself away by vomiting all over my shoes.

The best thing for me to do is avoid any and all eye contact for the time being because I've never been very good at hiding my disgust in others when they give me a reason to be disgusted.

Another flaw of mine that Mother likes to point out from time to time.

"Hey-hey-hey, Little Swan! Happy sweet-sixteen!"

The sound of Emmett's voice causes me to cringe and dig my fingernails into my palms. He nudges me when I remain frozen in place, and I flinch once more after he drops his arm over my shoulder to pull me in for a hug.

No one seems to notice my stiffened state.

No one except for Victoria that is.

I'd missed her taking a seat, but there she sits with a devious smile plastered on her well painted up face. Thankfully, she remains silent. Even after I look away though, I can still feel her eyes watching me, studying my every move.

"How about we eat and then you and I can go sit in the hammock up on the hill away from all of this socializing until it's cake time?"

I nod, instantly loving his suggestion, and begin to nibble on the food from my plate while everyone else continues to talk around us. My ears attempt to listen while they share their PG-rated stories about the last year of their lives back on the mainland, but it's absolutely impossible for me to focus.

They're of course saving the juicer stories for later on this evening when we're all at the top of the tree house without any adult ears nearby to eavesdrop.

"So you've all literally known each other your entire lives? That's so wild!" Victoria loudly questions, finding a way to jump in and join the conversation.

"Practically. I was a little older than these runts, so my memories can still recall the time when Bella wet the bed and tried to hide it by burning her sheets in the woods before the sun was even up."

I glare in Emmett's direction and toss a carrot stick at his head, "Shut it, Cullen!" I warn through clenched teeth, staring hard into his joker like eyes, "I was five years old."

He laughs and picks up the carrot from where its landed on the table then takes a big bite before flicking it back my way.

Without saying anything else, I swallow down the last of my water and then slam my cup over the table in front of me, "Come on. Let's go up the hill."

Edward looks over.

He's surprised by my sudden need to escape his brother's typical taunts.

Usually, I'd dish it right back when Emmett starts to tease me, but tonight I'm not in the mood.

"Yeah, sure, um let's go. Em, let us know when it's time to cut the cake."

Emmett smirks and winks in our direction.

At this point, I'd love nothing more than to smack him upside his big stupid head, but I manage to keep my fists in my lap and bite down on my tongue instead.

"Sure thing lovebirds. Better keep those hands where we can see them or Bella's dad might start carrying his gun around the island this summer!"

As soon as we're walking away from the table, I feel Edward's hand grasp mine. He pulls it up to his lips and kisses it three times, then lets out a soft huff, "I was thinking, maybe we could skip the group pow-wow tonight, or at least cut it short? We could go do something alone instead? Maybe even watch a movie over at my house if you're still not feeling well?"

I force a smile and look up into his eyes, "That would be nice. I like the movie idea. Your house should at least be quiet. My dad's still banging around in our kitchen trying to fix the leak in the sink."

"It's a date then," he grins, "Just me and you… and then I can give you your present without an audience cracking any jokes in the background."

A truer smile sneaks across my lips this time, and I finally feel myself beginning to relax. "You really shouldn't have gotten me anything. Now I feel guilty for not bringing you a gift."

"Meh, you can make it up to me in other ways," he casually teases back, bumping my hips two times with his hands. I laugh at his words and watch him take a seat in the hammock before he pulls me down beside him. My head leans into his shoulder. Once our bodies are swaying in the air, I let out a soft sigh and snuggle myself more deeply up against him.

My eyes look back toward the beach, and I spot Mrs. Tori laughing with my parents. I instantly notice Emmett also watching them from the table where he's still sitting with the rest of the youngling tribe.

How I hadn't noticed it before is a mystery.

Now it all seems so blatantly obvious.

He's infatuated by her. Absolutely smitten and love drunk with stupidity. It's all over his face, and once again, it's making me want to vomit.

I want to forget, but I still have to wonder… how much longer can their affair possibly go on before someone else finds out.

Because someone else will find out and when they do it could potentially change everything.

The thought of anything changing scares me to death.

It doesn't take me long to realize I need to keep this secret mine, but I also need to find a way to confront Emmett.

He needs to know he got sloppy so it won't happen again.

My primary goal; Avoiding any and all conflict that might send the Cullen's home early before our time here on Prima is supposed to end this summer.

It's selfish, but I have no other choice.

I've been made an accomplice, whether I like it or not because I'm not about to let someone else's lust filled actions ruin my summer.

Not this year.


It's almost one in the morning when Edward forces himself to walk me home.

We kiss on my porch, and he holds onto my hips until my mother begins flashing the light above our heads, letting us know it's time for me to come in since I've already missed my curfew.

"See you in about an hour?"

"My window will be open."

His smile kisses the top of my hands, and then he turns on his feet to leap down from my porch onto the loose gravel that will lead him back to his house.

When I get upstairs, I find Jasper's door wide open.

He's lying on his bed in his pajamas playing his Nintendo Switch with his eyes glazed over in zombie mode. As soon as he notices me standing there, he pulls out his earbuds and sets his game to the side.

His stare sets on the new piece of jewelry I'm wearing, and I let out a huff while I wait for him to comment.

"Alice told me Edward got you something special."

My hand reaches up to grab hold of the two entangled hearts, one platinum, and the other yellow gold, where they're dangling from the delicate chain Edward had clipped around the back of my neck.

"He had it made for me. His friend's dad is a jeweler in Chicago," I casually explain.

I'm trying to hide my own smile, but I can instantly feel my cheeks betraying me.

"Yeah, that's what Alice said. It's nice. How's your head?"

"Better," I answer then turn around to head down the hall toward my own room. Unfortunately, I hear Jasper jump off his bed to follow me. Before I can close my door, he pushes past me to land on top of the bean bag chair in the corner of my room.

When he lets out a sigh I know I'm in trouble.

"Since your head is better... can we talk a sec?"

A rushed breath leaves my lips. I shrug reluctantly then belly flop onto my bed with a loud sigh, "Sure. What's up?"

"That Stefan guy was asking a lot of questions about you tonight."

My brow slowly raises, and I begin picking at my comforter without looking in my brother's direction, "Yeah and?"

"I just thought you should know. It seemed to bother Heidi. She couldn't keep her hands off the guy, but he seemed to be more interested in getting all the details on you and Edward."

"Poor Heidi. I'm sure that probably crushed her," I reply with a laugh, before rolling over onto my back to stare up at the ceiling.

"Emmett already warned him to mind his business and keep his distance."

"Well, Emmett can put his cape away. I don't need him to step in as my bodyguard. Stefan is harmless. So is Victoria."

"I figured you'd say that. I just thought you should know. He really gives me the creeps, and I don't care what you say, his sister is odd too. They're weird kids. I don't trust them."

I roll my eyes and I shoot my brother a sarcastic thumbs up, then point my finger toward the door signaling that it's time for him to go.

It's been a long day, and my head is still feeling all kinds of cloudy thanks to everything my eyes had witnessed just before the sun had set on my birthday.

The last thing I need is a reason to worry about the two rando's who have infiltrated our island for the summer... but, we get what we get, so I know better than to complain.


A full week has passed since our return to Prima island.

Seven glorious days of me spending morning, noon, and night with Edward from the time I open my eyes to start the day, until the second I close them each and every night.

Life here is perfect and being sixteen is amazing.

Tonight we have plans to meet up with everyone over on the little beach to have our first overnight bonfire without the adults.

I've done a phenomenal job at avoiding Edward's older brother thus far, but after watching him talk and laugh with Mrs. Tori during lunch today, I've now decided tonight will have to be the night I confront him with everything I know.

To say I'm feeling nervous would be an understatement, but if I don't get it off my chest soon, I might start talking about it in my sleep when Edward's around.

That would be good for no one.

"Whatch'a thinking about in that head of yours?" Edwards' voice suddenly questions, snapping me back to reality.

I shrug my shoulders and squeeze his hand as we step through the sand to meet everyone else where the fire is already reaching for the sky, and the moon is watching from high above.

We've brought our sleeping bags even though our parents hadn't exactly given us permission to stay out overnight.

When we left the circle, the adults were at least six wine bottles in. This, of course, means they'll be passing out without worrying about any curfews this evening, sparing us from any potential reprimands in the morning.

Especially since they'll be too busy nursing their own hangovers once the sun does rise over the island to start a brand new day.

The closer we get to our clan the more annoyed I begin to feel over the fact I'll have to share my time with Edward. We've done such an excellent job at staying in our bubble. I'm really not ready for it to be invaded yet.

"Maybe once everyone starts to pass out we can sneak over to the tree house and set up our sleeping bags in there for the night?"

I smile loving his suggestion.

"Sounds perfect."

"What's perfect?"

Heidi's managed to sneak up from behind us.


She squeezes herself between Edward and me and then links her arms through ours so the three of us can walk in unison like slow-moving soldiers in the sand.

"Nothing," I quickly mumble, "Where's Stefan?"

"He'll be down later with his sister. He's going to sneak some weed from his dad's stash! Will you two be up for it, or does that go against your elite gymnast training stuff, Bella?"

I share a look with Edward and we both shrug at the same time. This makes me smirk with a shake of my head. He smiles in return and then winks in my direction before clearing his throat to answer our friend, "Emmett was able to grab a bottle of something on his way out. Our parents were already so trashed, they didn't even notice him take it right from the table in front of them."

Heidi squeals with excitement and leans her head into Edward's shoulder before releasing our arms to walk backward from in front of us. She glances back and forth between our faces and lets out a dramatic sigh, "We're only one week in guys, but this summer has already been so different for us. I like it. The changes. I can't wait to see what the next couple of weeks will bring. I predict this will be a summer on Prima that none of us will ever forget!"

I laugh and take Edward's hand back into mine as soon as she's no longer wedged between us. After that, she turns to take off toward the fire, and we continue through the sand until we reach the first log to take a seat together facing the flames.

Jasper and Alice are already across the pit whispering with their heads pressed tightly together while Irina and Emmett work on the pile of wood they've started to collect for the night.

I still haven't gotten Ri alone to talk about the past year of her life, or the problems she's had with her parents.

Actually, now seems as good a time as ever.

Just as I start to stand, Emmett, leaps up onto one of the larger rocks by the pile of wood and clears his throat to gain everyone's attention before he begins to speak.

"Alright, now that we're all here—"

"Um, not all of us are here!" Heidi snickers just loud enough for everyone to hear.

Stefan is clearly on her mind.

"Sorry. Let me rephrase that for you, Heidi. Now that those of us who actually matter are here," Emmett corrects himself with a wicked smirk, "Let's get the party started!"

I watch with my eyes wide after he leaps back down into the sand and then he reaches into his red duffel bag. When he pulls out a bottle of what appears to be chocolate flavored vodka a slow smile spreads across my face.

His hand twists the cap from the rim, and he lifts the large glass bottle up to his mouth to take several long gulps before closing it up to toss it into Edward's lap.

Edward and I share a look, and I take the bottle from his hands when he doesn't move. Once I swallow back a fair amount of warm chocolaty goodness I wipe my mouth with my hand and pass the bottle back over to him.

This time, the love of my life succumbs to the peer pressure.

He even outdoes me with his own loud gulps, and he doesn't even grimace in the process.

When he grins my way, I give him a playful shove just as Heidi appears in front of us to take the bottle of booze from his hands.

"Oh! I love this stuff! I got so wasted during Spring Break on a bottle of this with some of my friends! Ben had to come to pick me up so I wouldn't get in trouble trying to walk home."

I watch her wince from the one shallow swallow she does eventually take and then laugh out loud when she gags on cue before quickly handing the bottle over to my brother and Alice.

"How's your bruise today?" Edward whispers into my ear.

His warm breath against my neck sends instant goosebumps across my exposed skin.

I turn to look at him and smile with a soft shrug leaving my shoulders, "I've hardly noticed it, to be honest, so I guess it's feeling much better."

"Yeah, you haven't been hugging yourself nearly as much today."

"Well, that's because you've been the one hugging me instead," I tease back, then lean over to kiss his lips. He's quick to place his hand at the back of my neck to prolong our moment, and I don't pull away. In fact, I deepen our embrace and wrap my arms around him with the purpose to climb right up into his lap while we continue to go at it right there in front of everyone with zero shame.

"Hey now! One round of liquor does not give the two of you a free pass to start acting like horny teenagers for the supreme youngins here to witness and take notes from!" Emmett's voice suddenly booms from close by.

I pull myself away from Edward's lips then purposely press my forehead against his after letting out a sigh, "I really can't wait until they all go to sleep."

My soulmate laughs at my words and then nods in agreement just as Stefan and Victoria appear out of nowhere.

"Sorry, we're late. The parental units insisted on a family dinner tonight then a super duper fun prayer circle."

No one says anything, but Heidi does leap up from her seat to launch herself into Stefan's arms and kiss at his cheek.

Edward and I roll our eyes, and even Emmett lets out a loud snort before asking the Prima rando's if they've brought anything to contribute to our party.

"Just a pre-rolled blunt filled with some grade-A green stuff. Will that suffice as our offering? The foster father has a box filled with them. He won't even notice it's gone."

Emmett's eyes light up almost instantly and his smile doubles, "Well this changes everything, let's get that thing lit shall we?" He tosses Stefan a lighter after pulling it from his pocket then takes a seat in the sand not too far away from where we're sitting.

When Emmett's eyes catch mine, I suck in a breath and quickly look away.

We still need to talk, but when we do, I want to catch him off guard.

That way I'll be able to tell if he's actually telling the truth. The truth will be imperative.

The blunt gets passed around, but both my brother and Alice choose not to participate.

Within an hour, and thanks to several more rounds with the bottle of spiked chocolate, I'm feeling nice and buzzed.

"Hey, you."

I hadn't even noticed Stefan's arrival but he's suddenly sitting right beside me.

His professional randomness causes me to jump and laugh into the air, "Jesus Christ! Your ninja skills are not welcomed here."

"Sorry," He chuckles, "I didn't think you'd scare so easily. You don't seem the type."

He moves in a little closer and taps my foot with his then leans back beside me. My body is swaying from side to side while my fingers trace spirals in the sand, but there's no music playing in my head.

For once things are actually quiet.

Edward and Emmett had gone off into the woods to find a place to pee, so up until now, I've been enjoying my quiet time by the fire, being entranced by its dancing flames and crackling wood.

"You just caught me by surprise," I eventually reply, then steal a quick glance over my shoulder toward the line of trees. I squint my eyes but see no one in the distance. Not even a beam of light coming from a flashlight in the woods.

"Huh, so that's the secret… catching you by surprise. Good to know."

I roll my eyes but say nothing.

"I should've brought my speakers down here with me. I figured you guys would have that under control since you're the beach bonfire professionals."

"Irina is usually in charge of the music," I inform him with a huff. My eyes look across the fire, and I see Ri and Victoria laughing together with a bag of chips between the two of them.

Jasper and Alice disappeared about fifteen minutes ago to walk by the water and Heidi… well, I'm not sure what happened to her.

"Where'd your girlfriend go?"


"Yeah, Heidi."

Stefan laughs and shakes his head then bumps his shoulder into mine before smirking my way.

"Oh! You mean my technicality?"

His quick and witty comeback causes me to laugh as well, but even in my current tipsy state, I know better than to allow myself to relax around him.

"She said something about having a surprise, but she had to run back up to the circle real quick to get it. I saw Edward finally give you some room to breathe so I figured I'd come over and keep you company."

I dig my feet deeper into the sand then lean further back to look up toward the cloudless sky and all of its twinkling stars.

"Edward lets me breathe plenty. He's my heart though. Without him, I'm not sure I'd want to breathe at all. You should have picked up on that by now."

"Oh, I have. I've also been schooled by everyone here on this island several times over. It's some love story you two have. It must really suck when the summer ends, and you have to say goodbye. It can't be easy… a long distance relationship when you're only sixteen."

Without even thinking I inform Stefan that Edward and I don't attempt the long distance thing when we're apart and that we both see other people off the island when the summer does end.

His grin over this news is more than obvious, so I shove him hard with my hands then shift my weight to put some more space between us.

"We're not dumb. It would only lead to problems if we tried. In a few years, we can be together all of the time once we start college. For now, we make the most of the time we have when we're here on Prima. Which is why we avoid the rest of you like the plague during the daylight hours."

"Yeah, I haven't taken it personally, and I've also honored your need for alone time the couple of times I've happened upon the two of you when you've been out doing your thing here on Prima."

My eyes go wide, and I feel my cheeks flush.

What exactly is he referring to?

What has he seen?

"Don't worry," Stefan laughs, "I've yet to cross the line into total voyeurism. Edward's a lucky guy though. The two of you clearly know how to have a good time together when no one else is around."

I'm officially creeped out and beyond embarrassed.

It's time to change the subject, and I need to do it fast.

"Heidi seems to be enjoying your company and keeping you busy," I snicker without taking a breath.

My head is still spinning over all of the possible moments Stefan might have witnessed, but I do my best to brush those thoughts aside.

"Heidi is fun, but she's predictable… and a bit clingy. That being said, having her around has at least helped pass the time while I've been stuck here on this island. Poor Vic hasn't been as lucky, but I do think her luck might be changing after tonight."

I slowly narrow my eyes and follow Stefan's devilish gaze across the fire pit to where Victoria and Irina are still smiling together and talking.

It only takes me a few seconds to realize what he's insinuating, and I gasp after sitting up straighter in the sand.

"No! Ri is not into girls. Victoria is wasting her time barking up that tree." I inform him, pairing my words with another hard shove to his shoulder.

He laughs with his brow raised then nods two times before leaning himself back into me. "Oh, I think she might be. At least a little bit anyway and Vic's been picking up on that vibe since the moment they met. She made it her mission tonight to test the water a little and see what might happen. It looks like things are going pretty well so far. Hopefully, it lasts so Victoria will stop being such a pill."

Just then Emmett and Edward reappear from over the tallest sand dune. They're laughing about something, but their laughter instantly drops when they notice I'm sitting all alone with Stefan.

"I was starting to worry the two of you got lost."

"Haha right, not on this island. Stefan come help me stab some hot dogs to sober these guys up before they start passing out for the night. No one will want to be hungover when the sun starts to come up over the water at seven in the morning." Emmett requests with a purposeful nod coming from his head toward the cooler on the other side of the fire pit.

As soon as they're gone Edward takes his spot next to me and brings my hand into his then up to his lips.

"Everything okay?"

"Yes, Edward. Everything is fine. We were only talking. Actually… he did say something that was pretty ridiculous. He seems to think Irina might be into Victoria. Like… into her— into her."

When I look up and see the smirk hiding in Edward's eyes, I instantly begin swatting at his arm.

"Seriously?! How in the world am I the last person to know this?"

He laughs and shrugs his shoulders then wraps his arm around my hip to bring me in closer up against him, "Emmett pointed it out to me the other night. It actually makes sense when you think about it. She's never gushed over boys the same way the rest of you girls do."

"Just because a girl doesn't act stupid over boys, that doesn't mean she's gay," I grumble under my breath after firmly crossing my arms in front of me.

"You're just mad she hasn't told you yet."

"Yes. Yes, I am mad, but I'm also too tipsy to address that fact tonight, so I'll just sit over here and take notes for tomorrow via my silent observations, and then I'll corner her about it in the morning."

Edward laughs again and slowly stands up, pulling me with him, "You could do that, or we could go for a swim while everyone else is busy stuffing their faces with hot dogs."

My brow raises, and I reach out to tap his nose with my finger, "Okay, fine. Your idea is better than mine. Race you!"

Without even giving him a second to react I take off running.

I pull at my t-shirt to toss it to the ground and kick the rest of my clothes from my body so that I'm wearing nothing but my swimsuit when we get to the water. I manage to hit the waves before he does, but I can feel him right behind me.

It doesn't take him long to catch up and when he does his hands find my hips while we bob up and down with our feet still able to touch the sand beneath the water.

My head turns to look over my shoulder, and I see the bonfire glowing in the distance with all of our friends still sitting around enjoying their fourth meal of the day in hopes of sobering up a little before they call it a night.

"Just a couple of more days until you've gotta start going over to the gym on the mainland. Are you ready?"

"No," I mumble, with a huff, "But I need to get back at it. It'll be nice to see Bree again. We didn't get to talk much at the last comp we were both at."

"Will it be okay if I tag along?"

"Of course! I mean, you better come with me! Zero time apart this summer. Remember?" I laugh, leaning in to kiss at his lips. His grasp around my hips increases and he carefully presses my body further against his.

When his eyes soften I instantly know what he's thinking because I've already been thinking the same thing all day.

"It's going to be so much harder saying goodbye to you this summer, Bella. This first week has already been—"

I swat at his arm to hush him and then cover his mouth with my index finger, "Stop. We still have so much time left. I don't want to focus on any future goodbyes. Not yet."

He forces a smile then reaches his hand out of the water to tuck some of my wet hair behind my ears before he kisses me again, "Okay. You're right. No countdowns this summer. We will treat every day like the first with no end of it in sight until we're standing at the airport being pried apart by our parents."

I nod in agreement and tilt my head to rest it over his shoulder then hug him against me never wanting to let go, "I'm still ready you know… I mean, whenever you're ready... We're not allowed to leave this island virgins this summer. It has been written, Edward Cullen."

I'd barely gotten the words out without giggling, but thankfully my lips are right beside his ear, so I know he's heard me just fine.

"Soon. I just want it to be perfect... Without any chance for interruptions. That's important to me."

I smile from behind him and slowly lift my legs to wrap them around his hips so he'll be holding me in the water.

"Yeah, interruptions would not be fun."

He laughs softly beside my ear then shifts my body to find my lips with his. We kiss under the moon for several perfect minutes until it's obvious we're nearing troubled water if we don't slow things down and take a breath.

"Soon honestly can't come soon enough, Bella Swan."

My head nods in agreement with him, and I motion with my hand that we should head back up toward the shore.

My buzzed like state is starting to wear off and I'm feeling good and ready to get cozy in a sleeping bag after sharing a veggie dog with him by the fire.

Once we're out of the water, it doesn't take us long to dry off.

Just as we round the bigger sand dune to get to the fire pit, I stop dead in my tracks and my mouth opens in disbelief.

When our eyes meet, and I feel my hand let go of Edward's I instantly hate myself for it, but the damage has already been done meaning I can't take it back now.

It's Ben.

Ben is here… sitting on one of the shorter logs next to his annoying sister and Stefan with a beer bottle in his hand and an all too familiar smile on his face.

"Hey, Little Swan. Edward. How was the water?"

"Ben. H- hi. You're… you're here," I stutter, shifting my weight side to side in the sand.

He nods and smiles then stands up to offer his hand out toward Edward.

There's a good couple of awkward seconds where no one says anything, but when they finally do slap their hands together and embrace for a short hug, I find myself able to breathe again.

Our own hug is short, mine and Ben's, and as soon as he releases me from his arms, I purposely take a step back to bring Edward's hand back into mine. No other words are shared between us, and thankfully, Jasper makes it a point to start up a brand new conversation that takes the attention away from us and brings it onto him instead.

I make a mental note to remind myself to thank my brother for that at a later time.

"I'll fix us a plate," Edward tells me after slowly letting go of my hand, "Go ahead and sit down so you can warm up by the fire."

I don't even notice when Stefan sneaks up on me again, but when I turn around to find our sleeping bags, I almost run right into him and his beer.

He holds out the freshly lit blunt we hadn't finished earlier in the night then smirks down into my eyes with his brow playfully raised, "I figured you could use this. What with your other technicality making an early appearance on the island."

"Pft, I have no idea what you're even talking about. Stop being weird. I have no other technicalities on this island. Only one."

"That's not what I've heard, but whatever you have to tell yourself to keep your sanity in check."

My eyes roll to the right, and my hand impulsively reaches out to take the blunt from his hand. I take two quick puffs, hold them in then slowly exhale before giving it back. "Thanks. Have fun gossiping with Heidi. Just remember her reality is much different from the rest of the worlds."

Stefan laughs and shrugs his shoulders, "I guess only time will tell. This summer is certainly looking much more entertaining, and a lot less predictable. I'm looking forward to being here for the ride."

I glance over and catch Ben watching us from where he's sitting on the other side of the fire pit.

When our eyes meet he smiles without hesitating, but I quickly look away not feeling ready enough to acknowledge his existence.

"Leave it alone, Stefan. Heidi will be your only source of entertainment while we're here on this island and your days here will continue to remain very much predictable. Promise," I warn with my eyes now narrowed, and my arms crossed in front of my chest.

He laughs and shakes his head, silently disagreeing with me, but before I can say anything else Edward is back, and Stefan excuses himself to go sit with his sister and Irina.

"You okay?"

"Totally okay. Are you okay?" I grumble back, not meaning to sound so short tempered with him, but that's precisely how it came out.

He lets out a rushed breath and nods his head toward our spot on the sand, "I'm fine. Ready to eat and wait for these morons to pass out so we can disappear to the treehouse for the rest of the night?"

Now I'm back to smiling, and it's entirely because of him and his existence that I'm able to breathe again.

A/N: Bella still needs to have her talk with Emmett, Irina might be into girls, Stefan is a creeper with wandering eyes, and Ben returns. Let's just say the next chapter is going to be a lot of fun but I'd love to hear your thoughts about this one first. *wink*

***Reviews help me smile***

As thanks for helping me smile;

*I'll share an outtake from Edward's POV taken from when Bella lets go of his hand after they see Ben sitting at the bonfire.*

Ah, I almost forgot! I started posting a new story titled Roadies. It's been A LOT of fun so far. If you haven't already checked it out, I hope you'll give it a chance and let me know what you think.