Hello! I've come back to add a note to the start of this since it's now complete.
If you plan to hang in there and read both stories, I suggest starting with this one. That being said, please remember this was written as a companion to Clutch and is in no way meant to be read as a stand-alone story. In fact, I only intended to write the first six chapters and was convinced to expand it.
This is merely the beginning of their story.
While it flows seamlessly into Clutch, if you want to start in more familiar territory and start with Clutch, this can be read simultaneously with it starting around chapter ... five or six. They were posted simultaneously and work really well being read that way.
If you're new to these stories, my inspiration for them was the first few seasons of Sons of Anarchy. If you've seen the show you know it's intense. And when I wrote Masen, I had the beautiful Charlie Hunnam (aka Jax Teller) in mind. You will probably hate some of these characters at some point. I know I did. But they're flawed in the best ways. For me, it's what made writing these stories so satisfying.
The first six chapters of this were written for the Fandoms For Hope and Relief 2020 to benefit the victims of the bushfires in Australia. At last count, somewhere around $3,000 was raised for many worthy charities. Thank you to all who donated!
And there's a YouTube playlist for this story! Just search for me, Sunshine1220, and you'll find all my playlists.
A huge thank you to 2brown-eyes, BitterHarpy, bbmassey88, and Ceceprincess1217, and later, AushaPasha and Driving Edward, for their prereading this one. And giant cyber hugs to jayhawkbb for editing this baby. This story and Clutch wouldn't be the same without you wonderful ladies!
Summary: When she came into his life, he had a feeling it would never be the same. He just didn't know how much his world would shift. No one knew how wrong it would all go. Every flawed love story has a beginning. Prequel to Clutch.
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight. No copyright infringement intended.
Southern Arizona, Winter 2009
"Edward!" The banging on my bedroom door only gets more insistent the longer I ignore my sister. "Get up, dipshit. We're going to be late for school, and I can't be late today! Bella and I have our presentation first period."
"Go away!" I shout. "I'll have your ass there before the first bell." I pull the covers over my head and grumble into my pillow. "Don't get your panties in a twist."
"Mom!" Ali's screeching grows quieter as she walks away in search of our mother.
Knowing her complaining will earn me a lecture from Mom if I don't get my ass out of bed, I groan and flop to my back and stare at the ceiling. Being dragged out of bed by my mother is not how I want to start the day, so I decide to hit the shower.
As I stand under the warm spray, I let my mind wander to thoughts of what might await me this weekend. Nick is hosting another party while his parents are out of town, and if it's anything like his others, it should be a good time. Being a senior and one of our school's resident bad boys, I pretty much have my pick of girls. I might even get another shot at Sasha, the star quarterback's girlfriend, who blew me at the last party while her boyfriend was off touring college campuses.
Even the good girls can't resist the bad boys.
I chuckle as I lift my face to the spray and rinse the shampoo from my head. I finish soaping up and rinsing off and grab a towel, wiping my face and scrubbing it over my head before wrapping it around my waist.
Reaching into the medicine cabinet, I grab the tube of antibacterial ointment and rub a glob of it on my new ink. The stalking cougar tattoo on my bicep was an early birthday gift from Pop, months before I turn eighteen. It's the first of many I plan to get, and if I'm lucky, I'll be getting the one I can't wait for—my Outcasts ink—in a few years.
I dress quickly and clip the chain of my wallet to my belt loop, slipping the leather inside my pocket. I bypass the kitchen, where I know Mom is ready to pounce with questions about Tyler's party this weekend. I want to avoid that conversation at all costs.
"Ali! You ready to go?" I holler from the front door.
"Coming!" She dances past me, and I follow her outside, closing the door behind me.
"Mom is gonna be pissed you didn't say goodbye. She wanted to talk to you," she says as she slides into the passenger seat of my car.
"She'll live." I put the key in the ignition and turn it, the engine rumbling to life just as Mom steps outside with a scowl on her face. I don't waste any time shifting into gear and driving the hell away.
"Did you call him?" Ali asks.
"No. I talked to him last night, but I didn't call him this morning."
My sister huffs an annoyed breath and grabs her cellphone, dialing our brother's number.
"Are you ready to go? E and I just left the house, so you have less than ten minutes." She's quiet as she listens. "Okay. Just don't make me wait. I really don't want to come to the door and see your grandma this morning."
I smirk. Carmen Denali isn't exactly your typical grandmother. She's rude and has little to no verbal filter. But she keeps a roof over Masen's head and makes sure he gets up and goes to school every day.
Alice slips her phone into her purse. "He says he'll be ready."
When we pull up to the double-wide, Ali gets out and climbs into the backseat like she does every morning. We don't have to wait long before Masen comes loping out of the trailer, the strap of a worn backpack slung over one shoulder.
"Thanks," he says, running his hand through his hair and blowing out a breath.
"Rough morning?" I ask as I pull out onto the road.
"You could say that. She's up my ass about my grades, and she's bitching about me getting a job again."
"I think Meyer's Landscaping is looking for a few people. You could check them out," Ali pipes up as she taps away on her phone.
"I will. Thanks."
"Has she said any more about finding a car for you? She can't expect you to get a job without a car. And I know she won't let you drive hers."
He huffs out a humorless chuckle. "No, and we really can't afford anything right now."
I keep my eyes on the road and lower my voice so Ali can't hear me. "Let me talk to Pop. See if there's anything he can do to help."
I pull into the student lot and cut the engine. Masen gets out and flips the seat forward so Alice can climb out of the back. I scan the lot, and when my eyes land on the police cruiser parked at the sidewalk, I sit back and admire the view. Leaning into the window of the cruiser, Bella Swan is talking to her father, the chief of police in our little town. Dressed in a snug t-shirt and shorts that are just long enough to comply with the dress code, she gets the attention of everyone in this school with a dick and a pulse. In fact, a few of the jocks practically trip over themselves craning their necks to get a look at her ass as they walk past.
When Bella first moved here, she was all my sister could talk about. The shy girl from Flagstaff who lost her mom in a car accident last year became instant friends with Ali.
She's kept Bella to herself for a long time, hanging out at the Swans' house after school while Charlie is at the station and talking on the phone all hours of the day and night. And since sophomores and seniors rarely cross paths during the school day, I've only had the pleasure of admiring her from afar.
I watch Bella straighten and wave off her father before turning toward the school and disappearing into the crowd.
The school day is typical. Class is boring, and the teachers are demanding. Some of them are still pushing me to apply to schools I have no intention of attending. It's all the same bullshit, different day.
And then there are the idiots I go to school with. Most of my classmates are under the impression my family and Pop's club are a bunch of criminals, so they keep their distance. That is, of course, except for the female population. They want their walk on the wild side, to dip their toes in the deep end, so to speak, and I'm usually all too happy to oblige.
The only thing that breaks up the monotony of the school day is watching people at lunch. From my spot in the corner of the cafeteria, I can see pretty much everyone, including my sister dragging Bella to a table. When I catch Bella's eye, I give her a crooked grin. It never fails to fluster her. Her cheeks get red, and she turns away so quickly I think she's going to get a cramp in her neck.
I've never said a word to the girl, but I already have her pegged. I can usually spot the bitches who only want to get to know Alice in an attempt to get to know me or Mase. But Bella ... Bella is different. The genuine smile that lights her eyes as she talks to my sister makes it clear she wants to know Ali for Ali, and not to get a shot at one of her brothers.
"I'm so sick of Mr. Banner," Mase says as he plops down onto the bench beside me.
"What's up his ass now?"
He tosses a graded exam on the table. "This shit."
"I thought you studied for that one," I say, picking up the paper with the red 55% at the top.
"I did. I don't know what the fuck happened. Gran is gonna be pissed at me."
"You just need to keep your grades high enough to graduate, Mase. Pop has already said if you get your diploma, you have a spot at the shop waiting for you the day you turn eighteen. Just like I do this summer."
"Yeah, but that's almost two years away." He rips into a bag of chips. "I gotta get through school first." He looks across the cafeteria and spots our sister and her best friend, and I follow his gaze.
It would seem I'm not the only one who appreciates the view.
"Since when do we order thin crust, veggie pizza?" I ask as I flip open the pizza box on the counter.
Alice sweeps past me and slaps the cardboard out of my hand, closing the box. "Not that it's any of your business, but I'm having company tonight."
"Who do you think, dipshit?"
I scrunch my brow in confusion. "Bella's coming over?"
"Yes, and don't get any ideas."
"What kind of ideas?" I ask defensively.
"You know exactly what I'm talking about. I've seen the way you look at her." She heads toward the cabinet, pulling out plates. "And she's supposed to be here any minute, so do you think you could put a shirt on?"
I look down at my bare chest and smirk. "Yeah, I don't think so. This is my house, and I'll go shirtless if I want to."
She turns to face me, and fire burns in her eyes. "I swear to Christ, Edward, if—"
"Would you two cut it out?" Mom says, waltzing into the room just as the doorbell rings. "Alice, go see if that's Bella."
Alice narrows her eyes at me and slams the plates down on the counter before heading to answer the door.
Mom turns to me and raises a brow. "And it might be a good idea for you to put on a shirt. At least let the girl think you have some manners."
"Fine. I need to get ready to go to Nick's anyway."
I walk out of the kitchen and pass the foyer just in time to see Bella walk through the door. Her hair is pulled back into a ponytail, her freckled cheeks on full display, and the tank top she has on shows off the matching freckles on her shoulders.
Her eyes meet mine, and a shy smile plays on her lips.
"Hey, Bella," I say, crossing my arms over my chest. "Nice to finally meet you."
Her eyes fall to the floor, and she pushes a non-existent hair behind her ear. "Hey, Edward." Her voice is timid, and it does strange things to me when I hear her say my name.
But before I can get another word in, Alice grabs her hand and starts dragging her toward the stairs. "Say goodbye, Bella."
"Bye, Bella," she says, smiling over her shoulder, her cheeks blazing red. "It was nice to meet you, too."
As the weeks pass, Bella becomes an almost constant fixture around our house. She sleeps over several nights a week, and my restraint for my sister's sake is weakening. I've ambled into the kitchen several times, half asleep and sometimes in just my boxers, only to find a braless Bella in a thin tank and tiny, cotton shorts.
It's a lesson in self-control I wasn't anticipating.
But what makes it harder are the looks she gives me. Lingering gazes when she thinks I'm not looking and that damn blush when I look her way are driving me out of my goddamn mind.
And this morning is no different.
Dressed in the same tank and shorts she's been torturing me with for weeks, she's sitting at the breakfast bar eating a bowl of cereal. She's angled just right, so the morning sun is shining through the window and straight through her shirt, outlining her tits.
"Morning," she says as she brings the spoon to her mouth.
"Morning," I rasp, standing behind the counter to hide the tent in my boxers.
"Do you always walk around here in your underwear and no shirt?" she asks with a raised brow.
"It's my house." I shrug a shoulder, reaching for the box of cereal in front of her. "Do you always walk around in other people's houses with no bra on?"
She stares at me for a long moment before grinning. "Touché." She goes back to her breakfast but keeps her eyes on me, and I'm painfully aware of her gaze.
"Ugh, I do not feel good this morning," Alice grumbles as she walks into the kitchen and grabs a glass from the cabinet. "I think I ate too much last night." She fills her glass and turns to lean against the counter. She looks at Bella and frowns. "I know you wanted to do something today, but I think I might go back to bed."
"That's fine," she says as she hops off the stool and walks toward the sink. "I can just ask your mom to drive me home early. I have some shit I need to do anyway."
"Uh," I interrupt, "Mom already left. She had some work to get done at the shop." I turn to Bella. "She wasn't expecting to take you home until this afternoon."
"Crap. And I don't have my bike here." She looks at the clock. "I guess I could just walk. It's not that far, is it?"
The words escape me faster than my mind can stop them. "I can take you home."
Alice scowls at me, but Bella looks my way and stares.
"What?" I shrug. "It's a lot farther than you think."
"You're sure?" she asks skeptically.
"Absolutely." I grin, and her cheeks start to pinken. "I'll even put on a shirt."
I shift the car into neutral and turn down the radio. "Here we are."
"Here we are." She grips the handle of her backpack but makes no move to get out. "Thanks for giving me a ride home."
"Any time." I thrum my fingers on the steering wheel, which draws her eyes.
Silence stretches between us, but neither of us seems inclined to break it. From the corner of my eye, I catch her playing with the frayed edge of her shorts, bringing my attention to her thighs, which leads to me looking at her—
"This is a nice car," Bella says, causing my eyes to snap to hers, and I'm caught red-handed.
"Thanks. I'm still working on restoring it, but it gets me where I need to go." I raise a brow and grin. "It's got a nice, big backseat, too."
She smiles and ducks her chin, shaking her head as her cheeks turn that special shade of pink I really like.
I lean toward her and get in her space. The smell I've come to recognize as her shampoo and other girly shit she uses, a smell that reminds me of flowers, invades my nostrils. "I wouldn't mind giving you a tour someday," I offer.
"Who says I want a tour?"
I shrug but inch closer. My mouth is a breath away from hers now. "You gonna let me, Bella Swan?"
"Maybe someday," she whispers just a moment before my lips claim hers.
I reach for her with my right hand, pulling her across the bench seat toward me as my foot presses the parking brake. Now I can focus on the tiny thing in my arms.
She's not the timid girl I thought she'd be. She kisses me right back, opening her mouth to me and letting her tongue dance with mine. I've kissed probably a dozen girls, but this kiss is different. Obviously, it feels good. She even tastes good. But as our bodies inch closer together and my arm wraps around her slight frame, my stomach clenches. I feel this overwhelming urge to protect her, which is fucking unexpected.
Her right hand goes to my hair, pulling at the roots and yanking me from my thoughts. I tighten my hold on her, and her back arches, her tits pressing against my chest. And it isn't until this moment that I realize she left our house without ever putting on a bra.
My cock takes notice, too, especially when she makes this little sound at the back of her throat.
Knowing we're parked in front of her house for all her neighbors to see, I come to my senses and pull away, resting my forehead on hers. "Damn, girl. I wasn't expecting that."
With her eyes still closed, she smiles. "Neither was I." Her lashes flutter, and she looks up at me. "I better get inside before old Mrs. Cope calls Charlie." She untangles herself from my arms and picks up her abandoned backpack.
I lean back in my seat, watching her straighten her shirt. "I'm not afraid of Chief Swan."
"You're not?" she asks with a grin. "I thought everyone in this town was afraid of Charlie."
I brace my elbow against the edge of the door panel and shake my head, smiling. "You could say your old man and mine go way back."
"Really?" she asks with a grin. "Then why did he warn me to stay away from your family when I moved into town?"
"Good thing I don't pay much attention when he talks." She smiles my way as she fumbles for the door handle. "So, see you at school?"
I nod and smirk but say nothing.
"Thanks again for the ride."
"Any time," I say, my grin widening.
She steps out of the car, walking unsteadily up to the front door and looking over her shoulder every few seconds with a smile on her face. I wait until she's safely inside before pulling away from the curb.
Life with Bella Swan in it just got a lot more interesting.
A/N: Remember, you can come chat with me in my Facebook group, Sunshine Fics. I also share teasers and chapter pics there. You can also follow me on Twitter at CSunshine1220.
Thanks so much for reading! See you soon!
Lots of love