Chapter One: Skinny Jeans

I could kill Alice.


I could hear her now, "Bella, these jeans are f-awesome! They make your ass look fabulicious!

She must have been on crack.

No. I must have been on crack to agree to wearing this skin-tight ass corset, otherwise known as skinny jeans. I'd spent my whole life-well at least since I hit puberty-trying to hide my great asset. Instead of a nice tidy little bum like most girls, I have a bodunkadunk, junk-in-the-trunk, major uber booty. Extra-large sweatshirts, long Ts, and baggy pants have been my choice of attire since middle school. I don't think I've tucked in a shirt since sixth grade.

Shaking my head, I stared at the reflection in my bedroom mirror. Even with the pink turtle-neck pulled as low as I could, my derriere still looked like it needed its own zip code. I had no choice but to wear them, though. Nothing else I had was clean. Laundry day had been two days ago and I had had something else to do that night, like going out with Alice to buy theses stupid things. Holy shit. I hope I didn't have to pee while I'm out today because I'd never get them back up.

Sighing, I grabbed my heavy navy hoodie and purse and locked up my apartment. The lengths I'll go to when I'm desperate-and I was desperate. He was going to be at our company's annual field-day/picnic and I wanted-no, make that-I was hoping that he would notice me.

It seemed that all the girls at GoNet, Inc. had major crushes on him. He was a developer for our computer company's gaming division. That meant he was smart and creative but add to that, he was tall and lean, with auburn hair, deep green eyes, and a jaw you could crack nuts on. He made my insides do weird things. He was flawless.

It all boiled down to the fact that if you asked me to describe my perfect man, I would simply say Edward Cullen. No other words were needed.

But, since I'd melt into the carpet whenever he was around, I didn't think he had ever noticed me. Everything I knew about him was from what I had heard, and since the graphics team included two of the biggest gossips in the state-Jessica Stanley and Mike Newton-I heard a lot. From them I learned that Edward had dated a couple of women at the company, but no one long term and not anyone right now.

After a drunken wine-fest with Alice one Saturday night, she convinced me that I'd regret not trying to get his notice. The plan was to just to get him to acknowledge me. That's all. Just realize that I exist. I was tired of acting like a shrinking Violet when he was near me, so I decided to do something. Of course, I was drunk at the time.

I got into my truck and drove the twenty minutes it took to get to Larrabee State Park. I'd been there before, but in the summer. I had no idea why someone thought January was a good time to have an outdoor picnic in the great Northwest. It was cold but, miracle of miracles, it wasn't rainy today. I wondered if frost bite would impress Edward.

I'd timed my arrival so that I'd get there sort of in the middle of everything. I didn't want to be first but I didn't want to be last. I realized, upon reflection, that I was once again trying to fade into the background but it was too late now. I parked my truck and shivered when I opened the door when a blast of frigid January air blew in from the straits. Lord. If I found the person who planned this event, I would knee-cap them for sure.

I dug around in my glove compartment for a wool toque I kept there from when I visited friends in Vancouver and the matching mittens. I also found a woolen scarf under the seat. It didn't quite match my sweater but the danger of being frozen to death trumps vanity every time, or at least it should. My ass was still hanging out of the bottom of my hoodie. There was nothing I could do about that.

I found I did time it well, though. They'd built a big bonfire on the beach and I saw there were a few people standing around it trying to get warm, so I joined them.

"Hey, Jessica, how's it going?" I asked politely as I held my hands up to the flames. It really wasn't so bad near the fire.

"It's good, Bella! Wow! You look different! Are those new jeans?"

I vainly tried to pull my jacket further down over my bum. "Yeah. I got them the other day."

"Oh, that's cool. They really fit you good."

"Thanks." I was feeling ever more awkward the more she talked. Why hadn't I gone through my dirty clothes for a more comfortable pair of jeans? No one would have noticed the ketchup stain from one of my lunches, would they? Jessica's comments caused our neighbors to check me out, as well. I could feel my cheeks flaming.

"Bellllaaaa!" Mike Newton, the ever-ready perv, drawled. "Looking good, mama!"

Oh, god. Maybe I should go over to the table and find the urn of hot chocolate or something. I needed to get away. Too much attention was being paid to me and I didn't like it.

I wheeled around and, to my mortification, barreled right into Edward Cullen's chest. I didn't know he had been standing behind me. He grabbed my arms to keep me from falling over, or maybe just to keep the clumsy girl at arm's length.

"Oh, I'm so sorry." I was babbling.

"It's okay." He smiled as he steadied me and I immediately forgot what language I spoke. I could only stare back into his eyes like some sort of an idiot. My mouth was probably hanging open, as well.

"I'm Edward Cullen. I work in games." He let me go but he didn't stop smiling. I couldn't tell whether he was being nice or trying not to snicker.

"'m Bella Swan. I'm in graphics." Actually, I was quite proud to be able to put that sentence together. I was still mesmerized by his nearness and the fact that he actually was seeing me now. Not only was he seeing me, he was talking to me, too. Mission more than accomplished; now my old shyness was taking hold and I was rapidly deciding I could go home.

"Well, it's nice meeting you..." I said as I continued moving towards the table where the beverages were laid out. I turned and tried not to scuttle away from him while resisting the urge to pull my hoodie down over my butt. No use to drawing more attention to my behemoth behind. I kept my eyes focused firmly forward but right before I got to the table, I couldn't help but to look back over my shoulder and was shocked to find the Perfect Edward Cullen still gazing at me, a smile on his lips and a smolder in his eye. Honestly, he was looking at me as though he could eat me up. Could it be that he liked what he saw? Either that, or ash from the fire had gotten into his eye.

I decided to stick around and see which one.

And I noticed a curious thing.

Wherever I went, eventually Edward Cullen was sure to follow. If I was at the bonfire, two minutes later he was on the other side of it. If I went to the food table, sure enough, Edward would saunter over behind me to check out the potato salad. I discovered that even if I went to the outhouse-at least it was heated and after a valiant struggle, I was able to get my jeans back up-Edward was within a stone's throw when I came out.

I have to admit that was a little freaky.

Why was he doing this? Was I just too hyper-aware of his presence? Maybe it was just a coincidence but then, maybe not.

A couple of hours later, there was an announcement that a group was going on a nature hike. I later learned these were the folk responsible for the dubious brainwave that a seaside picnic in January was a brilliant idea. I hadn't quite turned into an icicle but I was sure my nose was now an attractive shade of Rudolf Reindeer Red. Maybe a vigorous walk was what I needed. Little did I know, the organizers were sadists.

As we gathered at the assembly point, I was a little disappointed that Edward didn't appear. Maybe I had been delusional and it was simply a fluke that he seemed to be everywhere I had been that day. Oh, well. It figures.

We started walking down a path that led along the shore line for several hundred feet. Then, much to my dismay, we headed up what looked like a mountainside. The path was narrow and we could only climb single file. I needed both hands to climb the steep trail, so I adjusted the strap on my purse so that I could wear it around my waist and then twisted it to the back so it would be out of my way. What? You don't bring your purse with you when you go mountain climbing? What's wrong with you? Except that you're probably smarter than I am.

The trail was getting steeper and steeper and then flattened out on the top but we still had to crawl across the rocks so that we could keep our feet.

"Alright GoNetters! We're at the summit. Now we're going to climb down the cliff and, using the rope that we've tied here, swing into the cave.

Well, that pissed me off.

First, I wasn't a GoNetter. I was an artist who sold my soul to keep a roof over my head and food on my table-and skinny jeans on my ass. I wasn't a GoNetter hipster. No way. I just worked there.

Second, they advertised this as a ramble, not a freaking mountain climbing expedition.

I laid there, sprawled out on the rock, wondering if I could gracefully climb back down without creating a scene when I heard, "This is quite a walk, isn't it, Bella?"

I looked over my shoulder to find the Perfect Edward Cullen directly behind me. Where did he come from? And how long had he been there? And why, oh why did I have to wear these stupid jeans? He probably got more than eyeful climbing up behind me. That's why I had hung back and made sure I was last, so no one would have to be witness to my junk-in-the-too-tight-trunk. And wouldn't you know, it was Edward Cullen who had to sneak up behind me, the rotter.

"I...well...actually it's more like a climb than a walk. A classic example of bait and switch."

"I should have warned you. Emmett can be a little extreme when it comes to physical activity. He's a triathlete."

"Who's Emmett?"

"My brother-the big guy who was leading us up here."

"Oh. Does he also work at GoNet?"

"Yeah. He's in sales."

"I need to get out of my cubical more often."

"Nah. It's easy for us to keep to ourselves. We all tend to hang out exclusively with our own departments. That's why they have these "fun" events, so we can mix a little more than we are able to at work."

I nodded and looked back over my shoulder to find everyone else had disappeared over the side. Edward and I were alone up here.

"Do you want to climb down the rock face?" Edward asked.

"I don't want to die today, so no."

"Well then, let's go back. It's easier going down than coming up."

"Yeah. Gravity has a way of making that happen."

He choked out a laugh and added, "It's the landings you have to watch out for."

I chuckled with him until he held his hand out for mine and asked, "Shall we?"

I had taken my gloves off when we started climbing, so when we held hands, it was skin to skin. For a moment, the world shrunk down to this. The seagulls wheeled in arcs above our heads, as the surf crashed against the boulders below, and the sun shown down upon his bright coppery hair making the twinkle in his eyes sparkle like starlight.

Something cosmic moved. Something shifted in my universe. Change was coming. Something big was starting-but what? Good? Bad? Indifferent?

That was always the question.

Authors Notes:

This is something I started to write six years ago as a part of the Project Team Beta 2013 Writer's Challenge. I wrote about twelve chapters or so and then quit. I recently found the rest of the prompts, (each chapter has a prompt) and so I am going to attempt to finish it. The above had been posted before, so it may seem familiar to those of you who have been reading my stories from way back when I was Lady Gwynedd. I am reposting it pretty much as I had originally done, errors and all.

I do realize now, that in today's world having a big butt is a good thing, but back in my day, when the ideal feminine form was that of a pre-adolescent boy, curves were the bane of my existence. I was born with junk in the trunk and it has never gone away, so give me a little license here. You'll find that Edward likes it, at least.

The prompt for this chapter was a picture of a girl wearing jeans and a blue hoodie, laying on a cliff's edge and looking over. She had a bodonkadonk, but I think I was the only one to notice.