After my Twilight fic last summer, I resolved to go back and write fics on other areas where I wish Bella had a backbone and/or where I would like to see that sweet, sweet sexual tension finally get resolved. For this one, I really wish Bella had stood up to Edward when they returned from Italy at the end of New Moon, and he got a taste of his own medicine for once when it came to being denied and left feeling anxious about where their relationship stood. Honestly, I love him, but it was pretty rude to make her feel bad for believing him!

I didn't need to turn around to know where he stood in the parking lot—his eyes might as well be pressing two cold prods into my back. I could almost feel Edward wordlessly shouting at me to look his way.

Maybe I'm developing mind reading powers now too.

I chuckled once to myself as I stepped out of my truck and shut the door, careful the whole time to keep my eyes averted from the right side of the parking lot.

I knew the exact moment when we were parallel to each other as, right on cue, Edward sprinted up to my side and asked, "May I walk you to class, Bella?"

I flinched at the way his velvet voice caressed over my name.

Ohhe's laying it on thick today.

I squared my shoulders and turned to him only enough to show him my head shake. "No thank you, Edward."

He was the one to flinch now—I smirked. I hadn't used his name since that night five days ago when we returned from Italy. From the corner of my eye, I could tell he was wrecked.

It's nice to be acknowledged, isn't it?

I couldn't help but remember that day six months ago, the day Edward left me. He barely used my name then, and when he did, it was cold and unfeeling. Terrifying. It was déjà vu in a sense—expect this time I was the one dishing out the heartache.

"Bella…" Edward said, nearly pleading. "Is a walk to class really too much to ask?"

I made the mistake of looking into those smoldering golden eyes. I frowned, confused, suddenly forgetting my perfectly curated and planned response to this exact question. He was dazzling me.

"Uh, well…"

Edward took the advantage, leaning in, letting his sweet breath wash over me. "Just a walk. Nothing more. None of your rules broken, I promise."

My mind was foggy. Damn it, he was good! Underneath it all, his dazzling and my raging hormones, was the steel spine of my resolve. The one he forced on me when we came home and all he could do was belittle me for believing him when he said he didn't love me and left without a trace.

I forced myself to break eye contact, look down at the ground, and take two steps forward. Out of his scent, my head cleared considerably, and I glanced back slightly to respond, "I'd rather not be seen walking to class with my ex-boyfriend. People will get the wrong idea."

Edward's features crumbled. I figured he wouldn't appreciate the "ex" mention.

I took a few more paces when I almost ran into Mike in front of me.

"Oh hey Bells! You ready for class? Want to talk together?" he asked, smiling cheekily, no doubt having overheard me and Edward.

He'd been like this all week, just over the moon I had not taken Edward back since his return. I would find it annoying, but it was proving useful in making my point to Edward.

So I gave him a bright smile and nodded. "Sure, Mike. Let's go."

Edward's eyes on my back practically doubled in intensity. It's like he wished he could reach out and yank me back through sheer force of will.

I just can't imagine what that feeling must be like. Not at all.

Before we were out of total (human) earshot, Edward called out, "I hope you're looking forward to Spanish today, Bella."

I turned back to him a bit, completely lost at what he meant. He flashed his crooked grin, winked, and then…just walked away.

I turned to Mike.

He snorted. "Don't remember? We're watching a movie today in Spanish."

My eyes widened. "Which movie?"

"Romeo and Juliet," Mike sighed.

My whole body went rigid.

Oh no.

"Can you believe it? It's barely comprehensible in English, now in Spanish II we have to…" Mike's words faded to the background as I processed.

I followed now. It was not only Edward and I's movie, but it was a movie in class. He was expecting to happen what happened last time we watched a movie in class—that day in Biology when we could barely keep our hands to ourselves. The tension was palpable, suffocating.

But that was before we…before we ever touched. We weren't together yet. It should be different now.

It was a mildly comforting thought. There was also the fact Edward and I didn't sit next to each other in our classes anymore. I sat next to Mike in Spanish now, actually.

I breathed out, relieved.

That's right. This'll be fine. Just fine.

Mike and I started towards first period, and I relaxed further. It helped having distance from Edward—but not too much. I could admit this was all much easier to do, to be broken up, knowing he was just right around the corner.

I could also admit I did want him to touch me. Kiss me. Make love to me. Of course I did! I still loved him, he was still an Adonis. But he had practically forced my hand that night five days ago.

Five Days Prior

I opened my eyes again—and Edward was still there, his perfect face just inches away from mine.

"Did I frighten you?" His low voice was anxious. This was very good, as delusions went. The face, the voice, the scent, everything—it was so much better than drowning.

The beautiful figment of my imagination watched my changing expressions, with alarm. His irises were pitch-black, with bruise-like shadows under them. This surprised me; my hallucinatory Edwards were usually better fed.

I blinked twice, desperately trying to remember the last thing that I was sure was real. Alice was part of my dream, and I wondered if she had really come back at all, or if that was just the preamble. I thought she'd returned the day I'd nearly drowned…

"Oh, crap" I croaked. My throat was thick with sleeping.

"What's wrong, Bella?"

I frowned at him unhappily. His face was even more anxious than before.

"I'm dead, right?" I moaned. "I did drown. Crap, crap, crap! This is gonna kill Charlie."

Edward frowned, too. "You're not dead."

"Then why am I not waking up?" I challenged, raising my eyebrows.

"You are awake, Bella."

I shook my head. "Sure, sure. That's what you want me to think. And then it will be worse when I do wake up. If I wake up, which I won't, because I'm dead. This is awful. Poor Charlie. And Renee and Jake…" I trailed off in horror at what I had done.

From there Edward tried to convince me I was awake, not dreaming, but that he was really there with me. I remained skeptical, but slowly it was sinking in. It helped when he explained his poor tracking attempts while he'd been away. How guilty he felt for abandoning me when Victoria was on my trail the whole time. A self-loathing Edward was a familiar Edward. Not one I liked to fantasize about though.

I'd really been hoping to put off this part of our last conversation. It was going to bring things to an end so much sooner.

Drawing on all my months of practice with trying to be normal for Charlie, I kept my face smooth.

"Edward," I said. His name burned my throat a little on the way out. I could feel the ghost of the hole, waiting to rip itself wide again as soon as he disappeared. I didn't quite see how I was going to survive it this time. "This has to stop now. You can't think about things that way. You can't let this… this guilt… rule your life. You can't take responsibility for the things that happen to me here. None of it is your fault, it's just part of how life is for me. So, if I trip in front of a bus or whatever it is next time, you have to realize that it's not your job to take the blame. You can't just go running off to Italy because you feel bad that you didn't save me. Even if I had jumped off that cliff to die, that would have been my choice, and not your fault. I know it's your… your nature to shoulder the blame for everything, but you really can't let that make you go to such extremes! It's very irresponsible—think of Esme and Carlisle and—" I was on the edge of losing it. I stopped to take a deep breath, hoping to calm myself. I had to set him free. I had to make sure this never happened again.

"Isabella Marie Swan," he whispered, the strangest expression crossing his face. He almost looked mad.

"Do you believe that I asked the Volturi to kill me because I felt guilty?"

I could feel the blank incomprehension on my face. "Didn't you?"

"Feel guilty? Intensely so. More than you can comprehend."

"Then… what are you saying? I don't understand."

"Bella, I went to the Volturi because I thought you were dead," he said, voice soft, eyes fierce. "Even if I'd had no hand in your death"—he shuddered as he whispered the last word—"even if it wasn't my fault, I would have gone to Italy. Obviously, I should have been more careful—I should have spoken to Alice directly, rather than accepting it secondhand from Rosalie. But, really, what was I supposed to think when the boy said Charlie was at the funeral? What are the odds?

"The odds…" he muttered then, distracted. His voice was so low I wasn't sure I beard it right. "The odds are always stacked against us. Mistake after mistake. I'll never criticize Romeo again."

"But I still don't understand," I said. "That's my whole point. So what?"

"Excuse me?"

"So what if I was dead?"

He stared at me dubiously for a long moment before answering. "Don't you remember anything I told you before?"

"I remember everything that you told me." Including the words that had negated all the rest. He brushed the tip of his cool finger against my lower lip. "Bella, you seem to be under a misapprehension." He closed his eyes, shaking his head back and forth with half a smile on his beautiful face. It wasn't a happy smile. "I thought I'd explained it clearly before. Bella, I can't live in a world where you don't exist."

"I am…" My head swam as I looked for the appropriate word. "Confused." That worked. I couldn't make sense of what he was saying.

He stared deep into my eyes with his sincere, earnest gaze. "I'm a good liar, Bella, I have to be."

I froze, my muscles locking down as if for impact. The fault line in my chest rippled; the pain of it took my breath away. He shook my shoulder, trying to loosen my rigid pose. "Let me finish! I'm a good liar, but still, for you to believe me so quickly." He winced. "That was… excruciating."

I waited, still frozen.

"When we were in the forest, when I was telling you goodbye—"

I didn't allow myself to remember. I fought to keep myself in the present second only.

"You weren't going to let go," he whispered. "I could see that. I didn't want to do it—it felt like it would kill me to do it—but I knew that if I couldn't convince you that I didn't love you anymore, it would just take you that much longer to get on with your life. I hoped that, if you thought I'd moved on, so would you."

"A clean break," I whispered through unmoving lips.

"Exactly. But I never imagined it would be so easy to do! I thought it would be next to impossible—that you would be so sure of the truth that I would have to lie through my teeth for hours to even plant the seed of doubt in your head. I lied, and I'm so sorry—sorry because I hurt you, sorry because it was a worthless effort. Sorry that I couldn't protect you from what I an. I lied to save you, and it didn't work. I'm sorry. But how could you believe me? After all the thousand times I've told you I love you, how could you let one word break your faith in me?"

I didn't answer. I was too shocked to form a rational response.

"I could see it in your eyes, that you honestly believed that I didn't want you anymore. The most absurd, ridiculous concept—as if there were anyway that I could exist without needing you!" I was still frozen. His words were incomprehensible, because they were impossible. He shook my shoulder again, not hard, but enough that my teeth rattled a little.

"Bella," he sighed. "Really, what were you thinking!"

And so I started to cry. The tears welled up and then gushed miserably down my cheeks.

"I knew it," I sobbed. "I knew I was dreaming."

"You're impossible," he said, and he laughed once—a hard laugh, frustrated. "How can I put this so that you'll believe me? You're not asleep, and you're not dead. I'm here, and I love you. I have always loved you, and I will always love you. I was thinking of you, seeing your face in my mind, every second that I was away. When I told you that I didn't want you, it was the very blackest kind of blasphemy."

I shook my head while the tears continued to ooze from the corners of my eyes.

"You don't believe me, do you?" he whispered, his face paler than his usual pale—I could see that even in the dim light. "Why can you believe the lie, but not the truth?"

"It never made sense for you to love me," I explained, my voice breaking twice. "I always knew that."

His eyes narrowed, his jaw tightened.

"I'll prove you're awake," he promised.

He caught my face securely between his iron hands, ignoring my struggles when I tried to turn my head away.

"Please don't," I whispered.

He stopped, his lips just half an inch from mine.

"Why not?" he demanded. His breath blew into my face, making my head whirl.

"When I wake up"—He opened his mouth to protest, so I revised—"okay, forget that one—when you leave again, it's going to be hard enough without this, too."

He pulled back an inch, to stare at my face.

"Yesterday, when I would touch you, you were so… hesitant, so careful, and yet still the same. I need to know why. Is it because I'm too late? Because I've hurt you too much? Because you have moved on, as I meant for you to? That would be… quite fair. I won't contest your decision. So don't try to spare my feelings, please—just tell me now whether or not you can still love me, after everything I've done to you. Can you?" he whispered.

"What kind of an idiotic question is that?"

"Just answer it. Please."

I stared at him darkly for a long moment. "The way I feel about you will never change. Of course I love you—and there's nothing you can do about it!"

"That's all I needed to hear."

His mouth was on mine then, and I couldn't fight him. Not because he was so many thousand times stronger than me, but because my will crumbled into dust the second our lips met. This kiss was not quite as careful as others I remembered, which suited me just fine. If I was going to rip myself up further, I might as well get as much in trade as possible.

So I kissed him back, my heart pounding out a jagged, disjointed rhythm while my breathing turned to panting and my fingers moved greedily to his face. I could feel his marble body against every line of mine, and I was so glad he hadn't listened to me—there was no pain in the world that would have justified missing this. His hands memorized my face, the same way mine were tracing his, and, in the brief seconds when his lips were free, he whispered my name.

When I was starting to get dizzy, he pulled away, only to lay his ear against my heart.

I lay there, dazed, waiting for my gasping to slow and quiet.

"By the way," he said in a casual tone. "I'm not leaving you."

I didn't say anything, and he seemed to hear skepticism in my silence.

He lifted his face to lock my gaze in his. "I'm not going anywhere. Not without you," he added more seriously.

I sat up and turned my back to him—as difficult as it was. Reality was rushing in. Edward was here. He said he loved me all along. It was a literal dream come true.

There was just one issue.

"What do you mean you can't believe I believed you?" I asked accusatory, anger slowing replacing my elation. "You were pretty convincing." Tears stung at the corner of my eyes. He was just so damn convincing!

Edward sat up as well, his chest nearly pressed to my back, but not quite. "Like I said —I am an excellent liar. I've had years of practice."

I squeezed my eyes shut and leaned forward, further away from him. "Then how do you expect me to trust you again? After these past six months? Actions speak louder than words, right? And you never once contacted me or even tried to in the last half year—nothing. You said you didn't love me, and then you proved it."

Suddenly, I was spun around and cradled in Edward's lap—I huffed out at the abrupt loss of air from my lungs.

Edward's dark eyes were wild, anxious again. They searched mine. "Bella—please don't talk like that. I love you. Each day I was gone was like my black world got impossibly darker. For some days on end I did not move at all. It was only a matter of time before I came slinking back to you."

I frowned, believing him in one sense. "You still haven't answered me—how am I supposed to trust you again? You shattered that trust the second you supposedly lied about loving me and left me there in the woods. I get you might not leave me again because of Victoria and everything, but what about trusting you with my heart? I am not sure I could survive another 'Edward lies for Bella's own good' scenario."

Edward winced, looking properly ashamed finally. But he remained tongue-tied, speechless.

I sighed and started to wiggle, trying to remove myself from his lap.

Instead of letting me up, Edward tugged me closer and brought his lips to my neck.

I froze. Angry still, but also desperate for his touch. Hormonal and weak.

He ran his lips from the crook of my neck to my ear lobe, nibbling on it lightly with his lips once there. Goosebumps exploded over my skin, my nipples hardened. I tried to pull back so he couldn't tell but his hand at my upper back pushed me right back against his chest.

We gasped simultaneously.

"Bella…" he practically purred in my ear. "Tell me what I can do to start earning your trust back."

I was the tongue-tied one now. I felt like I had an inkling I knew what he was getting at, but his manhood underneath me twitching pretty much confirmed it.

Ohmygod. Ah!

Edward had never allowed me to feel him there on purpose before. It was only ever by accident. He had made his stance on sex and that of a related nature clear.

What's gotten into him? Is this because of our separation? Will he reall-

My brain stuttered to a halt when his lips and tongue ran down the length of my throat. My nipples strained even harder against my thin shirt and Edward's thumbs—mercifully, impossibly—swept over them.

I could die, I think, just die. From that simple touch through my clothes.

Edward's tongue continued to trace along my collarbone and his hands slipped up to cup my breasts completely. I whimpered, putty in his strong hands.

"Building back up trust will take time, of course," Edward said against the skin of my collarbone. "But I've been thinking I've neglected the possibilities of how this type of intimacy can bring couples closer together."

I forced myself to breath, realizing I hadn't in a while as my eyesight got spotty.

Edward's lips paused at the neckline of my tank top, he glanced up at me. "What do you think Bella? Is this alright? Can you start to trust me again?"

I took another deep breath, letting the oxygen and his question sober me.

I absolutely wanted to do what he was suggesting, but it was not how trust would be built back between us. There was only one, single thing at this point that return that.

I scooted back as much as he would allow, leveling my eyes with his. "Edward—if you want to start mending these burned bridges—build trust again—I think you know what I need from you."

Edward tensed up around me, his hands fell from my breasts to my waist. "Please, Bella don't…"

"Agree to change me," I said firmly, assuredly. "That's where we can start. We don't need to hash out the details just yet, but agree to change me, and I can start trusting you again."

Edward slowly, methodically detangled our bodies and moved us to a standing position. His hands remained on my waist, however. "You know I can't agree to that. Volturi be damned. We can find a way to keep you human."

I shook my head once. I was past arguing with him on this. "Agree to change me, or…"

I cringed, not wanting to say it.

"Or what?" Edward asked, eyes narrowed.

I glared back at him, riled up by his tone, and pushed his hands off my waist. "Or we're broken up, is what. I can't be in a relationship without trust. Constantly anxious, afraid of when you'll feel justified to lie to me again. I won't live like that."

Edward's eyes widened, afraid, desperate. "You know I can't promise that. You know that Bella!"

I shrugged. He reached out for me, but I stepped back and shook my head hard.

"No, Edward," I crossed my arms. "You will not touch me again without permission. You will not come into my room again without permission. We are broken up. Don't act like we're together."

Edward held his hands out still, ready to hold me at any second. It made this all that harder, but not impossible. I was amazing myself with my resolve.

"I don't know if I can…if this will be possible for me. After all this time a part, after thinking you were dead…I need you, Bella."

I started to shake, my legs clenched together tightly. His words affected me down to my core. If he threw me down on the bed and took me, I would likely not put up a single ounce of fight.

But fortunately Edward was a gentleman. "Well, Edward, then I think you're going to have to find a way within yourself to agree to change me."

Edward lowered his arms. I'd never seen him look so conflicted. Defeated.

And here we were, five days later, still at an impasse.

Somehow. Stupidly. Insanely.

Would it really be that hard to agree to change me after everything we'd been through? Really? He was the stubborn one here, honestly!

I rolled my eyes as I scooped up my first period's textbook, grateful Edward sat behind me this class and couldn't see. As I made my way to the classroom door, the last and first person I ever wanted to see stood on the other side, her pixie features bright as she greeted me.

"Oh Bella, good morning! Missed me?" Alice sing-songed, pulling me into a firm hug.

I hugged her back woodenly.

So Edward was pulling out the big guns, I see.

Well I hope this first chapter is to yalls liking! I feel a little rusty at writing. Also writing (good) fanfic is difficult – let's be real. Especially smutty fanfic. Now I will try to be swift with the updates as I hate sitting on a story and like to see things reach completion, but the chapters might be shorter than desired so I don't feel overwhelmed when it comes to posting.

You know what might help move things along? Both leaving comments and if you shared with me any other smutty canon Twilight fics yall like or find as I honestly feel like they're in short supply. I don't think I can take another "Bella is a single, divorced mom of three…" fics. I just can't!