A/N: New fic with zero angst, I promise. It's all from Bella's POV. I'm going to upload two to start, and then post once a week. It's set once more in Australia. I'm getting lazy, but it's so much easier to write what you know.
Kimmie45 is my beta again, but I'm going to post the first two unbeta'd just for today. Once she can get around to them, I'll swap them over. They shouldn't be too terrible ;) StarryEyedWriter8 is also my prereader, as well as Amanda Dawson, my fanfic bestie. Thanks, girls *kiss*
I hope you'll give it a chance.
ETA: This chapter is now edited and updated :)


Hoodwinked
Chapter 1.

Mike stands before me, hands gripping the shoulder straps of his backpack while his clear blue eyes glance everywhere but at me.

"What's going on?" I put the obvious question to him after several moments of watching him stall. He messaged me during six period to meet him behind the gym after school, and initially I wasn't too concerned about it. We often meet like this, but the longer he avoids my gaze the more the uneasiness begins to accumulate in my stomach.

"Look, Bella," his eyes zero in on mine looking suddenly resolute, "I feel like I'm wasting my time here."

"Wasting your time?" I repeat, adding confusion to my fray of emotions. "What does that mean?"

"What does it mean?" he echoes me rhetorically as if it went without saying. "You promised me it'd be Saturday—you promised," he reminds me again, and I immediately understand his meaning.

We've been dating for nine months, and seven of those months have been spent having this same argument. The same argument about the same topic of what I'm beginning to suspect is an inevitability; losing my virginity, or more accurately, losing my virginity to him.

"I know..." I concede, speaking to the concrete beneath my feet.

"So what happened?" His tone is beginning to sound accusing and it's really bothering me.

"I already told you." I look back up at him and catch his gaze, and in response my voice hardens. I'm getting sick and tired of the pressure he's constantly putting on me. "You said you'd wait."

"I have been waiting," he stresses, his frustration obvious.

"What can I say?—I'm not ready!" I repeat the same answer I've been offering him these last months.

"When will you be ready?" he demands, his voice rising sharply.

"Keep your bloody voice down—Jesus!" I snap, fighting to keep my own hushed as my irritation grows.

"Answer me."

"I don't know!" I blurt. He's making me just as frustrated, but my frustration is stemming from his repeated attempts to guilt me.

"You said you cared about me?" And there it is; the same tired emotional manipulation that he refuses to give up.

"I do!" I assert, shaking my head. I refuse to go around in circles with him again and get into another fight. "Mike...I'm just not ready," I appeal to him to understand, reaching out to him but he jerks his shoulder back to avoid my touch.

"You know what?—I'm done. You're just a fucking cock-teasing, frigid bitch!" he blurts, his eyes just as hard as his voice, before turning his back on me and walking away.

I watch him go, with my heart lodged in my throat, while it's on the tip of my tongue to call out, what about the Farewell?

The Farewell...that's only two weeks away.

The HSC notwithstanding, the Farewell is the biggest event of Year 12; the last and momentous dance of our school lives. This year, it's being held at the Shangri-La hotel in Sydney. Like every girl in our grade, Alice and I have been planning for it all year—our hair, our dresses, our dates...

Everyone takes a date, everyone, and since Mike and I have been going out since first term I expected he'd be mine.

Alice is having the after-party at her house. Her father is going to be out of state for the week, and it's expected to be huge where most of the year is invited. That's when I planned on surprising Mike; when I planned on giving him my virginity.

Becoming choked with emotion, I immediately do an about-face and head quickly toward the carpark.

Yanking my keys from my bag, I unlock my car and sit myself behind the wheel. My heart's hammering in painful realisation, but I'm desperately fighting to keep myself together.

After inserting the key in the ignition, I turn on the engine but leave my car in park, I grab my phone from the side pocket of my bag.

Where are you, Alice? I hastily text her.

Jas and I are stopping for a thick shake. What's up? she replies almost immediately.

Nothing. I lie. What time will you be home?

4ish, she answers, followed by a selfie of her and Jas along with several smiley face emoji's. Isn't he a honey?

Jasper and Alice have been a couple for almost a year. Since Jasper asked her to his Year 12 Farewell last year, they still haven't graduated from that newly-together cheesiness.

Totally, is my reply with an added eye roll emoji, but Alice knows I'm only teasing her. I'll see you soon.

Alrighty.

Wiping my tears with the back of my hand, and stubbornly inhaling back the threat of more, I toss my phone to the passenger side seat and pull out of the school parking lot.

I'm okay, I tell myself repeatedly, and I'm definitely not heartbroken. I've been having doubts about Mike for the last few months. It's never anything material, just a nagging feeling at the back of my mind that has Alice convinced it's all just cold feet. And for the longest time, I believed her.

Mike's moderately popular, cute, and funny—the nice guy, we all thought. I had a crush on him since Year 8 when he transferred to our school, but I was never brave enough to talk to him. He, on the other hand, is friendly and can talk to anyone—even me. I've always been shy, and I rely on Alice far too much to be my voice. That's how Mike and I got together. Alice got Jas to put the feelers out and Mike took the bait.

It was all so very high school. God, I can't wait for it to be over.

My crush quickly turned into a solid attachment. Mike was a complete clown, but we always had fun, and he made me laugh. He sent me goofy, romantic messages at all times of the day and night, something he would almost always repeat against my skin when we were alone. That's when things started to go wrong. He was too eager to take things to the next level and I wasn't.

His benign kisses all too quickly turned assertive, until his hands started venturing beneath my clothes. I've had to forcefully stop him more times than I'm comfortable with, but in the beginning he was understanding. He promised me he'd wait until I was ready, but his patience quickly grew thin. He started making me lock in dates and then got angry when I inevitably backed out of them.

Our fun and easy relationship became hard, and I hated that he always made me feel guilty and responsible for every fight we had. I started to avoid him, but for whatever reason I was unable to break my attachment to him and end it between us. I'm not sure why. Maybe I was more in love with the idea of having a boyfriend than I was with Mike? Or maybe I just didn't want to turn up dateless at the Farewell.

Whatever the reason is, by the time I arrive home I feel deflated at best. I don't cry, because frigid bitch? I refuse to shed a single bloody tear over him for that. Still, I have to fight the urge to, even if I can't understand it.

I'm forced to hold myself up in my bathroom. My mother, Renee, has an uncanny ability to sense the smallest shift in my expression into the negative, and the last thing I want is another conversation that skirts around my reproductive system.

God love her, but Jesus...

I've been the only child for fifteen years—when my little brother came along—and she's always had the tendency to over-celebrate every single milestone in my life, no matter how insignificant. When she found out I started going out with Mike, she made me a "boyfriend starter kit" complete with condoms and ovulation detection tests. She then had the Birds and Bees Mark II talk with me. The one every kid dreads; the one with graphic details and adjectives. I'm not sure what was worse. The fact that my mother insisted on actually demonstrating positions, or that she appeared unaware that, at seventeen, I already knew where babies came from. That's when I called Charlie, my father, for backup. My father loves my mother's enthusiasm, we both do, but he doesn't need any explanations when it comes to being rescued from her. And god knows I've had to return the favour more times in my life than I care to remember.

I thought once Jake was born, she'd relax a fraction and divide her zeal between the two of us, but no. If I fill her in, she'll more than likely insist on baking me cookies and then make me watch The Way We Were with her.

Besides, I'm more the 'suffer in silence' type.

I hold out for an hour when the floodgates completely open.

Just after four, Alice texts me a Facebook photo of Mike and Jessica Stanley kissing, dated only five minutes ago, along with WTF is this arsehole doing? THAT BASTARD!

That's when the tears flow, only they're stemmed from humiliation and self-pity more than anything else. If it were with anyone else I don't think I'd react so strongly, but Jessica Stanley is that girl. The girl who's hated me from the beginning of time, and who's made it her personal mission to undermine every infinitesimal moment in my life.

The girl who'll use the last two weeks of school, as well as the Farewell, to rub this particular event in every chance she gets.

"Mum, I'm going to Alice's," I call out, escaping through the front door before she can react to the obvious waver in my voice.

"Dinner's at six—and are you okay, sweetie? Do you have your period?" she calls out after me as I hasten my step.

Alice lives next door. We've been neighbours since birth. My parents moved into our acreage estate in Sydney's far south as newlyweds; almost the same time as the Cullens, Alice's parents. I was born the following spring, two weeks after Alice, and we've been close, literally and figuratively, ever since.

I pause on the porch, attempting one last time to pull myself together, before I knock. The door swings open a few seconds later.

"It's you, snotface—god, what happened now? Break a fingernail?" is how Edward, Alice's older brother, greets me. He doesn't have a single ounce of concern for me, because he is—and has always been—in every sense of the word, a shithead. But he's my best friend's older brother, shithead is the general consensus. And at two years older, and almost a foot taller than me and Alice both, he's spent the majority of his life tormenting the two of us.

When we were kids, he used to put worms or snails down my shirt. Now he'll flick my forehead, pull my hair, or attempt to trip me when I'm walking, as if he's matured in the bloody negative, which I suspect he has.

"Is Alice home yet?" I ask, not really bothered by him, but I ignore his question; he doesn't care either way. Instead, I bow my head and hastily brush my tears away to avoid more of his ridicule.

"Nope," he replies, swinging the door open wider for me to enter regardless. "Come in anyway, since you practically live here."

I step into the foyer and follow him into the kitchen where he left his bowl of Coco Pops.

"What are you bawling about, anyway?" he asks, sitting back down at the breakfast table to resume eating his cereal. He's obviously just got home from work. He's sweaty, dirty and covered in sawdust.

"Nothing," I mutter, pulling out my phone to text Alice. How far are you?

"Nothing," he echoes me, scoffing through his nose. "Don't tell me, then."

20 minutes, babe, Alice answers. You okay?

"If you must know, my boyfriend broke up with me today," I inform him with an impatient huff. I'm not sure why, because he's definitely not about to console me.

As expected, he turns to me, his green eyes flooding with amusement. "That blond bloke? Bummer." He snorts.

Yeah, your brother is distracting me, I reply to Alice, and then Edward, "Thanks for your understanding," I say sarcastically.

"Mike Newton, wasn't it?" And when I nod he continues, "He's a dickhead."

"Yeah, well..." I shrug, because he has a definite point there. "It's just..." I let it go.

"It's just what?" he probes before shoving a mountain full of cereal into his mouth.

"I dunno..." I mumble.

He rolls his eyes and smirks to himself, but doesn't answer. I watch him continue to shovel Coco Pops into his mouth while he messes around with his phone. He's on Facebook, and a moment later my phone beeps with a notification: Edward Cullen has posted on your wall.

I click it open.

Hey, sorry, snotface. It wasn't because of me, was it? Was what he'd written along with several hysterically laughing emoji's.

"What the hell does this mean?" I demand just as he forces his laughter beneath his breath.

"Just making it more interesting." He winks.

"Do you have to call me snotface? That was ten years ago."

Snotface is the name Edward has been calling me since I was eight and had the worst flu of my life that winter. I made the mistake of sneezing in front of him, which had subsequently gone all over my face. He's never let me forget it.

"What else would I call you?" he puts to me continuing to smirk to himself, lifting his bowl and drinking the remainder of the Coco Pop flavoured milk from it.

I have no idea how Edward can possibly be as tall and full of muscles as he is when he exists entirely on sugar, but then I suppose he can thank his job for that. He's in his second year carpentry apprenticeship, and he's constantly lugging large planks of timber around. Last June, after his car was at the mechanics, Alice and I picked him up after work. I caught sight of him bare chested in the rain carrying several long beams over his shoulder, his biceps taut and bulging. It was the first time I've ever looked at him and didn't see my best friend's shithead of a brother.

Yeah, he's a hottie, all right, but he'll be the first one to agree.

My phone beeps again. Alice has replied to his message on my Facebook.

What does this mean? What's going on?

"Oh, god..." I groan as Edward laughs whole-heartedly and starts typing a reply. "What are you doing? Stop it!" I exclaim, my heart picking up in panic.

His post pops up.

Snotface is not nearly as shy as she'll have you believe, he wrote, followed by a winking emoji.

Have you hooked up? When did this happen? How could you not tell me, Bella? Alice immediately replies while Edward's laughter increases.

"This isn't funny!" I protest, my face beginning to burn. "I'm deleting it."

He immediately jumps up from his chair and grabs my phone. "Leave it up. Let the wanker believe you got it on with a real guy." And sucking in his breath, he puffs out his chest jokingly.

"As if..." I scoff out how ridiculous it is before attempting to grab my phone off him. He raises it over his head, his grin growing broader.

"Nope," he says, and holding it elevated out of my reach, he starts typing on it.

"No!" I shout, yanking on his shirt attempting to pull him down, but he plants his free hand to my forehead and holds me at arm's length.

When he's done, he holds it out for me to read, and my heart fails.

Yeah, got sick and tired of running with little boys, and Edward's man enough to keep me satisfied, he'd written, adding a gif of Emma Stone winking suggestively.

"OH MY GOD!" I explode, then curving my leg around the back of his knee, I attempt to trip him.

I fail miserably, of course, and Edward takes it as open season to rough me up. Hooking his elbow around my neck, he bends me forward, and in my struggle to free myself, I accidently grab him...there.

He immediately jolts, a shocked kind of sound bursting from him when he half releases me. "Did you do that on purpose?" He appears surprised and impressed simultaneously.

"Of course, I didn't!" I snap, hoping irritation will mask my mortification.

He snickers before he has me in a head lock again, only this time he pulls me flush to him. My face is squashed against his hard abdominal muscles and I'm suddenly engulfed by the smell of sweat and...something else.

"Edward—Christ, you need to shower!" I protest, my voice muffled against his shirt even as I attempt to push off him.

"What the hell is going on?!" Alice's voice suddenly breaks between us, steeped in shock and slight amusement.

Edward immediately releases me again, shoving me away from him by my head. I shove him back in response, before red-faced and flustered I attempt to straighten out my hair.

"God, here it is," he says dryly, and walking past Alice, he flicks her square in the forehead on the way to his bedroom. "Hey, midget."

Turning around, Alice shoves him in the back. He stumbles for a step, laughing to himself then disappears around a corner.

Alice's gaze once more zeroes in on me. "Are you going to tell me what the hell is going on?" she repeats her assertion as a smirk pulls slowly on her lips this time.

"Nothing!" I insist jerking a shoulder. "I told him what happened and he decided to...help." I roll my eyes.

"What did happen?" Alice's voice softens as she breaches the obvious subject of Mike.

"He dumped me," I mumble, breaking her gaze to stare at the floor.

"And then immediately hooks up with that slag Jessica Stanley?" Her voice turns screechy in her anger.

I shrug. "I dunno. I guess..."

"Geez, what a prick!"

"Yeah, well..." I shrug again releasing a heavy breath. With Edward, and his constant source of torture over me, I was somewhat distracted by it, but Alice always brings me straight back down to earth.

Moving beside me, she wraps her arm over my shoulder and turns me in the direction of her bedroom. "You upset?" she asks gently.

"I don't know. A part of me is relieved." I admit, even if it's a half truth. I am upset over Mike, and I'm furious over Jessica, but right now I'm not sure I can process how I really feel.

"Well, that's a good sign," Alice says closing the door behind us. "Wanna pig out?" she offers with a sympathetic smile, because while I'm attempting to maintain an exterior of indifference, she knows better.

"Yeah." I reply, my voice straining behind the inevitability of my crashing emotions, and before I know it, I'm sobbing.

A packet of caramel Tim Tams later and I feel somewhat better. I'm resigned more than anything. "Well, I guess I'm going to the Farewell stag," I say with a jaded sigh.

"He'll be taking a massive step down if he goes with Stanley," is Alice's attempt to cheer me up, before grabbing her phone and clicking it open.

"Don't show me anything else. I don't care," I tell her, but I do care a little bit at least, and I definitely do not want to see anymore photos of the two of them together.

"What...Bella..." Alice says, sounding suddenly confused as her eyes pull from her phone's screen to lock with mine.

"What?"

"Does Edward have your phone?"

It takes me a moment for realisation to set in when I lunge to my feet. "Oh my GOD! That SHITHEAD!"

He's lying on his bed, shirtless now, one hand behind his head, and the other around my phone that he deliberately toys with in front of me.

"Geez, you're quick, snotface," he says, his smirk broad and full of amusement.

"I bloody...hate you!" I burst, words almost failing me in my exasperation as I move to snatch it from his hand.

He pulls it back at the last minute before rolling his eyes and tossing it to me. "Okay, keep your shirt on. I'm doing you a favour."

"Favour!" I echo him incredulously as I scan through what he's written. "Oh my god—are you kidding me?!" He's had several conversations all while pretending to be me, explaining how we've had a secret affair going on for months. "This is not funny, Edward. How could you do this!?" Slumping beside him on the edge of his bed, I drop my head into my outstretched hand.

"How is telling everyone Bella has been whoring with you behind Mike's back helping her, you moron!" Alice demands, slapping him in the head. "Is everything a bloody joke to you?!"

"What?" Edward protests, as if he thinks we're overreacting. "Remember how popular I was in high school? All the girls are going to be jealous of you now, snot face." Planting his palm to my shoulder, he nudges me.

"Stop calling me snotface!" I snap, elbowing him in the ribs.

"Popular?" Alice puts to him sarcastically. "Please, you were a bad boy wannabe who was always suspended for getting into fights—when you were even at school, that is."

In his last year, Edward had spent more days absent than he did in attendance. He wanted to get an apprenticeship, but his father made him finish high school first. It had caused a rift between them, and they didn't exactly see eye-to-eye on much in the first place; not since he and Alice's mother died when he was twelve.

"Thanks, arsehole," I mutter, glaring at him and pulling myself to feet.

In response, he makes the exaggerated motion of wiping tears from his eyes before scoffing to himself. "This is what's wrong with you girls. Everything's a bloody melodrama."

"How's Bella supposed to get a date to the Farewell now if everyone thinks she's been screwing you!?" Alice decides to fill him in, slapping him again across the head while I subtly cringed.

As expected, Edward laughs. "Is that what you're bitching about? I'll take you."

I immediately scoff, letting him know of my aversion to the idea. "Um...I can't think of anything more pathetic short of going with my own brother."

His brows shoot up. "What's that supposed to mean? Bad boy, remember?" he points to himself. "All the girls used to love me."

"You idiot," Alice retorts. "You're my brother, she's my best friend—everyone's going to know it's a pity date."

"Not necessarily, but suit yourself." He shrugs a shoulder.

Alice rolls her eyes, then grabbing my hand, she pulls me out of the room. "Put a bloody shirt on, maverick," she tells him over her shoulder. "And fix this—now!"


A/N: Yeah? No?