Disclaimer: I don't own anything Twilight…but the cast owns my heart :)

AN: Well, well, well…look who comes strolling into the fandom with another chapter tucked neatly away behind her… That's right you sick masochists, it's me! I finally made it around with a new chapter. I threw away so many rough drafts, it's not even funny. Anyway, I stuck with this one and I LOVE it. Before you read, some side notes…

There is a new fan fic site that you can go to and discuss stories, talk with authors and chat with others like you and me. It's called The Sandbox and it's address is: www(dot)fanfictionsthesandbox(dot)com. Of course you know to replace the word dot with the actual (.). Come and chat…everyone is quite friendly!

Second, I am currently writing a story in collaboration with five other authors. This is NOTHING like I have written here. There are lemons and love…but it's Darkward at his finest. Read at your own risk. The story is called Wicked Angel and it's under the penname DevilishPleasures. It updates frequently since there are six of us total that write (unlike this one that takes eons…)

Also, I have gotten many PM's letting me know that my story is being translated. Some, I authorized…others, I have not. I have it being translated into Portuguese, Spanish and Russian and that is all. If I forgot you and you are translating, let me know so that I can put you up on my profile page.

Finally, many, many thanks to keepingupwiththekids for beta'ing this chapter for me. She is my cheerleader and trust me, without her constantly telling me that I can do it, I wouldn't be here.

You knew where I was going with this story for a while now…so enjoy!

Song: The Kill by 30 Seconds to Mars

Come break me down
Bury me, bury me
I am finished with you
Look in my eyes
You're killing me, killing me
All I wanted was you

I tried to be someone else
But nothing seemed to change
I know now, this is who I really am inside.
Finally found myself
Fighting for a chance.
I know now, this is who I really am

Whoever said time flies when you're having fun sure as hell didn't know what they were saying. Time flew by no matter how much you wanted it to slow down…or stop altogether.

It was already December 31st …New Year's Eve. I thought back to the last couple of weeks and realized just how much change has happened…in me, in my family, in Bella.

God, Bella…I wouldn't even recognize the shy girl she started off as in August. It was amazing what a couple of months can do to a person. I still enjoyed her company immensely, but gone was the girl who stammered her way through everything, and in her place was a fierce young woman who enjoyed voicing what it was that she wanted…especially in the bedroom. There was no downside in that aspect.

In other aspects though, it was downright heartbreaking watching her at school. James had picked up his pace in chasing after her and she was enjoying every minute of it. Her face lit up like a damn Christmas tree when he was around…like I said, heartbreaking.

Regardless, I was in a bind. It was clear Bella had no feelings for me. Well, other than sexual ones. It shouldn't surprise me, really, since I was the one that helped her along the way. She trusted me, she'd told me so many times before and I believed her. The problem was, she didn't love me…and I loved her so goddamn much, it hurt. I realized, in these last couple of weeks, I couldn't live without her…which in turn, meant I couldn't risk losing her friendship. If I told her, she'd fly outta here like a bat out of hell, and I couldn't do that to her.

She trusted me.

Plus, I couldn't get the look of her face out of my head when James came around calling on her. This is what she'd been working for these last couple of months…I couldn't take that away from her.

She trusted me.

It fuckin' sucked to have a conscience. I was doing so well not giving a fuck about anyone but myself and the minute I opened my heart again, I was burned. You haven't really opened up your heart Edward…sure you let her in, but you haven't exactly laid yourself bare to her…you're really not risking anything yet…

Okay, so my inner monologue had a point. Still though, I just knew the moment I opened up and let her know, she'd reject me. It was a thought I couldn't bear to think. There were things I had in my grasp that I had loved so dearly before…and those were taken away. What would happen if Bella was gone?

I shuddered just thinking about it. Thinking of Bella just made me remember about our night together. We'd had yet another argument after an evening of mind blowing sex. I closed my eyes and remembered it again for the third time since I'd awoken…

-Start Flashback-

"Deeper, Edward."

"I don't want to hurt you…"

"You won't. Fuck, I just want to feel you…"

"If you're sure..."

Bella was kneeling in front of me, her ass waving in the air. I pushed her upper body down low, until her face was smashed into the mattress.

"Spread your legs open for me like a good girl."

She whimpered but did as she was told. I took her hands and placed them up against the headboard.

"You might want to hold on because I'm about to fuck you harder than I ever have…"

Without any warning, I pushed my cock inside of her, and pumped myself deep and hard. Bella's pussy was the best I'd ever experienced and I knew it would always be the best. There was something about her that I found so sexually stimulating, I always had to concentrate not to cum the moment my dick entered her.

"Is this what you wanted? You want it deep and hard?"


I grabbed her hair and gently pulled it back, angling her face toward me.

"I asked you a fuckin' question. You will answer me now…unless you want me to stop."

"Yes…oh god, I want it deep and hard…"

Satisfied with her answer, I grabbed the headboard in front of me and used it to push myself into her as hard and rough as she wanted it.

I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it…the feel of her slick pussy lips, the sound of her groans and moans, not to mention the sound of our sweaty bodies slapping together was more than I was able to take. I knew I was going to cum soon, and I could tell Bella was close.

"Bella Love, I'm about to explode…cum with me."

"Yes, oh fuck yes…"

I felt her walls contract around me, which was all that I need to send me over as well. My body shook violently on top of her. It had been so long since I'd had a seriously hard fucking…it was just something I never thought Bella would enjoy. I was starting to see there was a lot more to her than met the eye.

I rolled off her and fell on the bed, my legs and back utterly exhausted. Bella straightened out beside me and snuggled close, like we always did after we had sex. It had become a good habit.

"Did I hurt you?"

I saw her smile to herself. "No…quite the opposite actually. I feel so relaxed."

Her skin felt so soft…I couldn't help but graze her shoulders with my fingers. The orgasm I'd just experienced was mind blowing. I knew it would take me a while to get over the post coital haze I was in... This was why I was sure Bella chose this moment to broach this heated subject with me.



"I love having this time with you."

"I do too, Bella Love."

I felt her nod her head as she pulled me closer to her. "I know you do, which is why I was wondering when you were going to put me on your list."

Yeah…that post coital haze was just ruined. I felt my body go rigid underneath her. I really, really did not want to get into a fight right now. We'd just had mind blowing sex!! Again, Bella had timed herself perfectly.

I sighed deeply. "Bella…"

"No, listen, hear me out. I know you told me no the first couple of times I asked, but really, it would be nothing but beneficial to you."

It didn't matter how many times she asked, there was no way in hell I was putting her on my list of whores that I'd fucked without question. She just didn't get it. To her, it was an honor…and one I was not willing to bestow on her.

"How is that?"

"Well, you'd have more girls on your list overall than James ever did! I could help you get to that title you want – and really, I don't mind. Please Edward, it would mean a lot to me if I was on there…"

I really, really, didn't want to get into another argument with her over this. Last time, she didn't talk to me for five days…and they were the longest five days in my life. I sighed, realizing that I was going to have to tread easily with her if I wanted a good night's rest.

"Look Bella…"

Her face squinted back at me and it was her, 'I'm ready to give you hell over this', look.

"I'll think about it, okay? It's the best I can do right now."

Her features relaxed remarkably and she settled back into me. "Deal. That's all I really want anyway. For you to seriously think about it."

I nodded but knew in my heart that there was no way I'd put her on there. The hard part was letting her down gently…

-End Flashback-

I looked back at the clock and realized I had better get my ass up before Alice came in here. Since it was New Year's Eve, she was in full party mode. As much as I loved her and the holidays, they could both be a bit draining.

I turned myself over to my side and started places soft kisses on the shoulder that I loved so much…starting with the two little moles she had.

"Bella? We've got to get up now."

I heard her sigh and knew she was rising. "Come on Love, you know Alice will be in here soon."

She shifted to her back and I kissed her arm and made my way down her chest, quickly popping her nipple into my mouth. She giggled as she tried to push me away.

"Edward, stop! You know I'm ticklish."

I chuckled. "I know. But you have to get up sometime."

She stretched herself out on my bed, the sheets barely covering her in any way decent. I was about to reach out for her when we heard a knock.

"Get out of bed you two before I send in Carlisle after you!"

I scoffed. "Go ahead, I don't…"

I felt shifting in the bed next to me that had me stop in mid-speech. Bella had catapulted herself off my bed so fast, I was sure she was going to trip over herself.

"Yeah, that threat wasn't really for you. I know you have no shame…it was more for Bella's sake." Alice yelled through the door.

Bella picked up her pace, finding her clothes on the floor. "Come on, Edward! Get your ass up! You know Alice…she'll send him in here!"

I chuckled at the brilliancy of Alice's plan. Nothing can make Bella move faster than the threat of my parents seeing her nude in bed with me…and nothing would move me faster than having Bella move out of my bed.

As soon as my pants were buckled, Bella threw the door open and frantically called for Alice. The pixie's head appeared in seconds.

"Nice job there Ali. I'll thank you for this later."

"Not a problem my friend. Now, get ready while I take Bella and get her dressed for the day. We've got a long day ahead of us."

Bella turned her head back and gave me a small smile as she walked out of my room. I leaned up against the door frame and watched her go to Rose's bedroom. I stood there until the door closed.

"I hope you know what you're doing."

I jumped and turned around, coming face to face with Rosalie.

"Fucking shit Rose! You gave me a fucking heart attack! You can't sneak up on people like that!"

Her face should've alerted me to her mood. She didn't laugh, smile, smirk…hell, she didn't even insult me. In fact, she looked quite pensive – and that fact alone made my heart beat nearly twice as fast.

"Edward…I hope you know what you're doing."

I couldn't have looked any more confused even if I tried. I had no idea what she was saying.

"What are you talking about?"

She turned to face me then, her eyes boring into mine.

"You know, you've always been very sure of yourself, and I never doubted you knew what you were doing. Now though…I can't help but wonder if that's the case."

I felt uneasy talking to her. It was like she could read me better than I thought she could. It really unnerved me.

"I know what I'm doing. I haven't changed Rose. I'm exactly the same person. Just do me a favor and don't doubt me."

I was being defensive, I knew that. I also knew she didn't deserve for me to snap at her the way I did. I was bracing myself for a comeback…but there was none. All I found was understanding…and I hated it. Rose knew nothing of my situation. I had everything under control. I did.

She nodded her head and replied, "Okay." She walked away before I could even reply with a response. I went back into my room and shut my door. The awkward conversation I had with Rosalie left me thinking and wondering what in the world she could mean. I was the same Edward…I was. Sure I wasn't into the whole man whoring thing anymore, but it was about time I'd stopped that, right?


So why did I still feel like that conversation with her was wrong? She knew something…I didn't know what she knew, but it was on my mind.

I sighed and shook my head. I was going to fry my brain out with all the over thinking I was doing. I had enough problems dealing with Bella. I didn't need to add Rose to the mix.

I grabbed some clean clothes from my dresser and resigned myself to the bathroom to get ready. This day was just starting and already it was going downhill. I hope that the rest of the day goes better than I think it will.

Alice had suggested pizza for lunch. I wasn't in the mood for food, but she insisted and everyone agreed. I offered to drive Bella, but unfortunately the duo of death weren't ready to part with her. I hopped into Emmett's jeep with the guys and headed to the pizza place.

"Hey man, tonight is going to be awesome! I can't wait to get this party started, you know?" Emmett's grin could be seen from the back of the jeep.

"Yeah, well, I can. Have you seen Alice in party mode?" Jasper's brow was creased in worry. I couldn't help but snicker behind him.

"Just do what you always do man. Run up and hide…pretend you have a boatload of shit to do…you've always been good at out maneuvering your girlfriend."

He shook his head. "No, I can't. I promised I'd help her out. Lucky for me though, it's not a huge deal…I mean, not like the Halloween Bash and all. That was a bitch to put up."

I laughed. "You hardly did anything!"

"Still, just watching her gave me whiplash. I told her she should be a party planner for her career. She's actually thinking about it. I mean, it's either planning events like weddings and parties and shit or fashion design. Really, I can't see her doing anything else."

Emmett chuckled. "Well I can. She'd be one hell of a personal assistant; wouldn't let anyone drag ass."

I nodded in agreement with him there. I wasn't in the mood to have my mind dwell on Bella, so I continued to make small talk with them. "What about Rose?"

"What do you mean?" Emmett glanced back at me through the rear view mirror.

"I mean, what does she want to do when she graduates?"

"Oh…she wants babies."

Jasper and I nearly had our eyes fall out of our sockets.

"Babies?!" Apparently, Jasper didn't know his sister as well as he thought.

"Yeah, babies. She wants to start a family. I know people say it's unwise, that we're too young and we don't know what we're doing and all that shit…but it doesn't matter to us. I mean, we have plenty of money."

Jasper squinted at Emmett dubiously. "Is that what you want?"

"It's what my Rosie wants."

He sighed. "Fuck Rose. I'm asking if it's what you want."

"Well…I love kids. And I want to have them…eventually. I'd really like to have Rose go to college for at least one year, just to make sure that it's something she doesn't want to do. I'd hate for her to have the burden of raising children and going to school at the same time."

"You could hire a nanny."

Emmett scoffed. "Yeah, you'd think she'd be into that…but she wants to do it herself. Rose is a hands-on kind of girl. They're her kids, she wants to raise them."

"Your kids." Jasper corrected.

He smiled broadly. "Yes…our kids."

I stared out his back window sullenly. There wasn't much I could contribute to their conversation so I kept quiet. God knows I wouldn't be a good father…

"Hey Edward."

I glanced up at Jasper. "We're here man. Are you okay? You don't look so hot."

I attempted a smile as I walked into the pizza parlor. "No, I'm fine. Just tired, I guess."

He nodded but I could tell he didn't buy it. At least he dropped it.

We ordered our pizza and sat down at our usual table when we came as a group. The conversation was easy and quick with the guys, and by the time I knew it, our pizza was ready.

Still…no sign of Bella or the girls anywhere.

Just as I was beginning to lose hope that they'd show up at all, I heard a tinkling laughter that I knew was Alice's. I looked up from the pizza I was currently demolishing with my fingers and passed a quick smile to her. Jasper stood up from the table and pulled out her chair, motioning for her to sit. She reached over and grabbed a slice of pizza.

"You look bored buddy. This day not cutting it for you?"

Ahhh, Rose was back to her fuck-bitch self. This girl I could handle. "Not really. I don't know what the fuck the problem is…it's just…well, this day is already boring the fuck out of me."

Rose looked shocked in horror and I turned my head sideways to look at her. "Dear god, please don't let boredom steal you of your fuck! Whatever would we do?"

I rolled my eyes at her apparent sarcasm and glanced back at the restaurant door. I'd yet to see her. She did come with the girls, didn't she?

"I heard Bella was going to stop by the restroom before lunch, you know, to freshen up."

Both mine and Rose's heads snapped up and looked at Alice. Rose was quicker to answer her than I was. "Okay…why do I care? I just saw the girl not five minutes ago."

Alice blinked at her and shrugged. "Sorry, I thought you were asking for Bella. How weird."

I breathed a quick sigh of relief when I realized that Alice had commented on my behalf, as Rose just shook her head and mumbled about how the pixie was losing her marbles. Quickly, I glanced up at Alice as she looked at me. I nodded my head slightly in thanks. She lifted her lips a bit on one side, her way of saying you're welcome.

A few more minutes passed by and just when I was about to get up to look for her, Bella finally walked in…with James at her side.

Fucking dickhead. Can he not leave her alone for a few goddamn minutes? I swear, one of these days…

"Hey guys!"

Everyone looked up and welcomed Bella…and James. Even after weeks of seeing him with her, I still couldn't get used to the motherfucker being around us. He'd been on her tail since Halloween, and it was now New Year's Eve…AND HE WAS STILL HERE.

From what I understand, Bella hasn't given anything up to him. At least, that's what Alice and Rose tell me. I haven't yet broached the subject of James with Bella. I was a big pussy when it came to it. I didn't want to hear her tell me she'd had sex with him…or was even contemplating it. It would hurt too much.

Rose was frustrated beyond belief because she felt that the cat was already in the bag and she can't fathom why Bella was making him wait. Alice, on the other hand, doesn't say much…but her look toward me is what one could only describe as pity and anger.

My head started pounding again as soon as I saw them together. I probably would've put a huge stop to this madness and claim Bella as mine…if she wasn't so damn happy when James was close. It was like the heaven's opened and gave her a gift that she wasn't quite ready to return.

Glumly, I returned to destroying my pizza as Bella took the seat to my left and James sat on her other side. Great…so glad everyone could make it here today.

I felt a nudge on my arm and glanced up into Bella's beautiful, shining, brown eyes - except her mouth was turned down into a frown. She constantly seemed to be frowning whenever she looked my way.

"Edward, what's wrong?"

"Nothing. I'm fine, as always."

She gave me one last look and shrugged, putting all her attention back to James.

Of course. Geez, Edward, what did you expect? You're the one that taught her the moves to get the guy she wants, and now you're complaining because she's using it? Yeah, way to go there, big man.

My inner self was right as always. I had no one to blame but myself. Still…it was easier to just blame James.

It's not like he wasn't a nice guy…that was the shocker. He'd been nothing but courteous to us all, including myself. I wasn't used to it. I knew he was doing it for Bella and I hope to god that she knew it was just a ploy to get into her pants.

What's worse, I could find no complaint with how he treated her. Just now, he got up to refill her cup of coke…and asked if anyone else would like a refill since he was already going. I mean, what the fuck? This isn't the same James that I'd been up against for years now. This was a new James…he was trickier. Apparently, he'd changed his tactics to woo Bella into bed. He frustrated me beyond belief.

"So, you ready for tonight's party, James?" Emmett asked, as he took a colossal bite out of his pizza.

"I sure am. I have a beautiful date as well." His smile beamed from across the table to Em and Rose.

"Really? Who is this beautiful creature, pray tell. As far as I'm concerned, I'm taking the most beautiful woman there."

Rose smacked him in the chest and rolled her eyes at his cheesiness, but the bit of flush on her cheeks gave away her delight at the compliment.

"Well, I asked Bella to be my date for tonight. To my great pleasure, she accepted."

I glanced over at Bella and noticed she was blushing and looking at the pizza on her plate.

"That's great! I'm glad to see Bella's got someone new to go with. She's always going with E…"

That's as far as Emmett got before Rosalie ribbed him hard. Emmett's near outburst almost had my name out there along with Bella's and while I didn't mind in the least, I knew that all the hard work that Rose and Alice had put into this stupid bet would be ruined.

"He means Bella's always going with everyone else besides just one single person…like us. It would be nice for her to go with you."

James nodded and looked down at Bella and smiled. "I'm glad to be going with her as well. I asked her just a few minutes ago, in fact, and she said yes. Of course, it probably helped that no one had asked her as of yet, so I lucked out."

If ever I felt like strangling that smug motherfucker, it would be now. Why I never thought of asking Bella myself was beyond me…but I'd never before had to ask her to attend these parties as my date. We just always went together. It didn't matter anyway…she wasn't after me. She was after that piece of shit sitting next to her.

"Edward? You okay man?" I was so fuckin' tired of being asked the same stupid question.

I looked up from my plate of shredded pizza towards Jasper. "Yeah, I'm fine. Great actually. Why do you ask?"

"I ask because Em asked you a question and you weren't responding."

I hadn't realized I'd been out of it. Maybe I was going into shock…

"What was your question?"

Emmett took a big swig of his drink, then asked, "Who are you going with tonight? Surely, you asked someone to be your date?"

Truth be told, I never did. Actually, the thought never even crossed my mind. God, I was turning into such a pussy…

"No, I'm, uh…not taking anyone in particular."

James turned to me, his brow furrowed. "Really? That's got to be a first. You ALWAYS go with someone. I mean, surely there isn't a girl that has turned you down, right?"

Out of nowhere, my pride returned. Who the fuck did James think he was?! Just because he'd gotten the most beautiful girl in this whole fucking Earth to go with him didn't make him superior to me. I was losing my edge on him and I didn't like it one bit.

"Turned me down? Nobody turns down Edward Cullen, dickwad. I just decided not to limit myself with one girl tonight. I'm gonna broaden my horizons…you know, play the field. I've got to start the New Year off right."

I heard Rose sigh and saw Alice smack her hand on her forehead while the guys gave me appreciative smiles. I mean, hell, just because Bella didn't want me didn't mean the other girls didn't want me. I was tired of feeling sorry for myself. If Bella could live her life, well then I could live mine too.

In reality, I couldn't blame her. We both knew what we were doing. The difference was, Bella never allowed herself to be swayed in any way. She knew what she wanted and went after it. I, on the other hand, did the exact opposite.

I was tired of playing games with my life. I was right with what I said before…love wasn't worth it.

"You know, that's not a bad idea. Every girl will probably be clawing their way toward you the whole night. It'll be a good night for you." James nodded my way.

The rest of the meal was spent with idle chatter. I tried my best to participate with everyone, but my mind was always wondering toward Bella.

This has to stop…you can't always think about her. She's going to move on…not need you anymore. You need to move on as well. Don't be a pussy, Edward. Get a hold of yourself!

I took one more glance at James and Bella. They did make a beautiful couple as much as I hated to admit the fact. I sighed and steeled myself to the realization that I needed to let Bella go. What better way to start off the New Year…right?

I studied myself in the mirror before I smiled my approval. I was getting a whole lot better at this dressing myself stuff. Sure, Alice had helped me buy my clothes, but I was putting the outfits together on my own…and I looked good.

"That skirt short enough for you there, Bella?" I saw Rose eyeing my legs as I leaned over to put on the last of my eyeliner.

"Jealous, Rose? Do you want some of this?" I shook my ass at her for good measure, making sure she got an eyeful.

She reached over and smacked my ass, then rubbed the area she'd just hit. "No more than everyone else seems to. I have to admit, you clean up good, child."

I smirked at her and pulled back from the mirror once I was done. I put my makeup items away and headed toward the bedroom where I found Alice putting on her shoes.

"What do you say, Alice? Am I done?" I twirled around for her inspection. It was her opinion I wanted before I stepped foot out the door.

She smiled and replied, "Aww, look at my Bella…all grown up! I didn't even need to help you one bit tonight! You did it all yourself."

"I know! I'm getting the hang of this whole primping up stuff. I can't wait until everyone sees me."

Alice frowned. "Don't you mean James?"

"Well sure, him too. But I want everyone to see how beautiful I am. It'll show those bitches around the school who's hot."

Again, Alice frowned and looked to be deep in thought. Rose smiled though and encouraged me. "That's right, you go out there and show those sluts who you are. Nobody can mess with you."

I nodded as I put away all the materials I had used to get ready…and all the extra clothes I had sprawled out in front of me. I changed about four times, trying to get the look just right. I ended up wearing a short black skirt with a deep purple v- neck shirt that cupped my breasts perfectly and three inch heels. I had become a whole lot better at walking around with them. I was confident in myself that I wouldn't fall over.

I saw Rose and Alice in the bathroom talking to one another. Alice looked to be worried…she was gnawing on her bottom lip while Rose spoke to her. Whatever they were talking about, they were not in agreement. Rose was arguing her point quietly, her face contorted in some kind of refusal. Alice still didn't look too convinced though, but dropped it.

"Everything alright you two?"

Both of them put on smiles…one of them genuine, the other one, not so much.

"Oh, fine. Let's go."

I nodded, not really caring either way. I just wanted to get myself out there.

The music was already loudly pumping by the time we'd made our way out onto the first floor. I was looking everywhere for him, wanting him to see me. Besides Alice's approval of how I looked, I needed one more…

"Hey there, gorgeous. I got you a drink."

I turned around and my hope deflated when I realized it wasn't him.

"Thank you James. You didn't have to, you know."

"Of course I did. What kind of guy would I be?"

I took the offer of the drink and glanced around me. I still had no sighting of Edward and I was beginning to worry. This wouldn't be much of a party without him. I wasn't even sure why I was looking for him…I mean, I had James with me…lavishing attention on me…wanting me. This is what I wanted! So why did I feel so incomplete?

"Looks like Jessica and Samantha are insanely jealous of you, Bella. They haven't quit giving you the stink eye since you came down."

I turned my attention to the two sluts in the corner of the room and smirked at them. I even threw in a small wave and turned my attention back to James.

"They're just jealous, I suppose. I'm not going to worry over two little peasants…"

James came in and nuzzled my neck groaning in the process. "You know how that kind of talk turns me on. You shouldn't tease a man so…"

I closed my eyes and felt his nose graze my neck and his hands run up my body. Since we'd started hanging out together, our relationship steadily increased. We hadn't had sex yet…on my orders. I don't know why…I think I was stalling. We'd never gone past second base and truth be told, I thought he'd drop me like a sack of potatoes…but I was wrong. In fact, he held on even tighter.

I knew that if I had sex with James, he'd put me on his list. Unlike Edward, James was proud of me. I couldn't understand why Edward would refuse me…was I truly that awful? Really, it would be his crowning moment. When it came time to reveal the lists…Edward would be up one from James. The greatest thing that could happen to him! Yet, he'd steadily refused me.

I felt James' hand travel down my body and land underneath my skirt, skimming the edge of my panties. It felt good having his hands on me…oddly enough, it still wouldn't shut down my mind.

I need to find Edward and ask him one more time about putting me on his list. Maybe he's changed his mind from last night…


"Bella, sweetheart, I need to ask you something."

I looked up and noticed James' deep blue eyes looked serious. I was curious as he was always playful and warm around me. I nodded slightly, wondering what could have him in this mood.

He shifted around nervously and looked around the room. My curiosity was now piqued and I had to know what he was thinking.

"James, it's okay. Just say it."

"Well, I was wondering if umm…well…if you wouldn't mind…"

I'd never seen him like this. It was a bit endearing of him.

"I'd like for you to be my official girlfriend, Isabella Swan."

I gaped at him. Did I just hear right? He wanted me to be his girlfriend?! Of all the things he was going to ask me, this was the last thing I thought I'd hear. I closed my mouth then opened it again, intending to give him an answer, but nothing came. I tried again…nothing.

Nervously, he rubbed the back of his neck. "I can see I've stunned you. Actually, I've stunned myself. I've given this a lot of thought though and I'm positive. I want you, Bella. I've never felt this way about someone before. You're smile, your personality, your body…it's what I've always wanted. Imagine…we could be King and Queen on prom night. It would be wonderful, to have you by my side."

"Prom?" I had just barely managed to squeeze the word out of my throat. My esophagus felt like it was closing off.

"Yes. I hope to still be together in time for that. You are an amazing girl and I'd like a chance to have you by my side. What do you say?"

I didn't know what to say. He'd totally floored me. I needed some time to think. I needed to talk.

Just then, I saw a flash of bronze colored hair escaping toward the pool area. I looked at James and whispered an, "I'll be right back" and zoomed straight ahead toward Edward.

Now, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't just a bit jealous at the attention I was sure Edward was getting. I knew I got just as much as he did, but it irked me to see any woman trying to claw over him. It didn't matter though…Edward wasn't mine and he'd never be tied down to one person.

I found him sitting up on top of the diving board, staring out into the pool. I climbed up the stairs as carefully as I could considering the death traps I was wearing and leaned in, not daring to take steps onto the actual diving board myself. The last party I was a part of landed me inside the pool and I did not wish for a repeat performance.

"Don't jump." I was kidding of course, but the way Edward stared into the horizon, I wasn't entirely sure.

His face turned toward me and he smirked. "Of course not. I'm not suicidal, just deep in thought." His eyes scanned the length of my body and back to my face.

"You look stunning."

I smiled brightly. "Thanks. You look great yourself. So, what are you doing out here?"

"I'm waiting for Jessica to bring me my drink." I quirked my eyebrow at him. "What," he replied defensively. "She offered. If I don't have to get up myself to get it, why not?"

I laughed. "I have a feeling she'd wipe your ass if you asked her too."

He laughed too. "Maybe." The sound of his laughter made my heart clench. I loved seeing him smile, chuckle, smirk and even scowl. There was no ugly face on Edward. He just was.

"Well, do you need anything that I can get you? I won't wipe your ass, but if you'd like some food…"

He whipped around toward me. "No. Absolutely not. There is no reason why you have to leave to get me something. Besides, I'm not very hungry."

He was a bit rough in his answer and I wasn't entirely sure why. Something about me bringing him something as simple as some food bothered him. Not only that, he seemed a bit off…I attributed it to the fact that he'd probably drank more than he told me.

"Are you drunk?"

"No…but I've already had my share of alcohol. Still, the night is young and I can afford a bit more."

Sighing, I was starting to second guess asking him. I realized though, that now would be the perfect time to ask. I might have a better chance of him saying yes.

"Edward, will you put me on your list?"

His eyes found mine and his brow wrinkled. "Why would you want to be put on that abominable list, Bella? Why would you want to degrade yourself?"

I bristled. "It's not degrading! It's what I wanted this whole time!"

"No," he bit back, "James is what you wanted this whole time!"

I inhaled sharply as I stared at him. "It's never bothered you before."

"I didn't say it bothered me. I'm just stating the obvious."

"It sounds like it bothers you…why?"

His scowl grew tenfold. "Look, I don't feel like talking about this. Why don't you just go back to your boy toy so that you can spend the last couple of minutes of the old year with him. Start your new year off right and kiss the guy of your dreams."

I felt as if he'd slapped me in the face. How could he be so cruel to me? I'd been nothing but nice to Edward – hell, I'd even supplied him with pussy when he needed it! How could he do this to me?

My face flamed. "Well, nice to see this is how you treat your friends, Edward. I should have seen this coming! You are an arrogant prick and Rose is right. You will never change! I shouldn't be surprised though…you put your so called friends Alice and Rose on your fuckin' list, but not me. Nice to see where I stand on your totem pole of popularity."

His glare turned icy. "Don't compare yourself to Alice and Rose. They're different. Those rules don't apply to you."

I scoffed. "Whatever Edward. I just don't understand why you treat me the way you do!"

"Bella!" We both turned around and I saw James flagging me down at the entrance back into the house. Jessica was with him, of course.

"I'll be right there!" I shouted back to him.

I turned back to Edward not knowing what to do. I was torn. I decided I'd just be bold and ask Edward one more time. James was offering me all that I had wanted – I'd waited for so many years to shine. I wasn't sure why I was reluctant, but I knew that whatever Edward had to say upon the matter would influence my decision.

"Listen, before I go, I need to ask you a serious question." I kept my voice low, so he'd know I didn't want to fight with him.

His gaze burned in my eyes and I had to take a deep breath to continue. "James has asked me to make it official with him."

He frowned. "He asked you to sleep with him?"

"No…he asked me to be his girlfriend."

It took a moment for that to sink into Edward's drunken haze. He closed his eyes tightly and then opened them again. "What?"

"I know…I know it's not what he normally does. But he's doing it…for me. He says he really likes me. I just…I wanted to ask you something."

His head gave me a slight nod, telling me to go on.

"Is there any reason why I shouldn't date James? Any reason at all?"

I waited as I saw a different series of emotions flicker through his eyes…too much for me to see. Finally, he replied with one answer.


I hadn't realized I'd been holding my breath until he told me his answer. I felt as if I'd been kicked in the gut. I took a deep breath and nodded.

"Fine…okay. Thanks for your honest opinion. I guess I know what my answer is then."

I quickly climbed down the ladder of the diving board and hit the ground running. I found James and grabbed his hand, leading him back into the house.

"Bella, baby? Are you okay?"

I didn't want to think…I didn't want to think about that arrogant asshole out there. Apparently, whatever the hell it was that I had been feeling had been one-sided. I never should've fooled myself. For one instant, I'd felt hope. Hope for what, I didn't know. I just supposed he'd cared more for me than anyone else…and I was wrong.

Everyone around us was counting down to one. It was close to time. I turned toward James and smiled. "I'm perfectly fine. In fact, I'm ready to spend this New Year with you…together."

His smile grew broader. "Are you saying yes? You'll be mine?"

I smiled, putting all thoughts of Edward behind me. "Yes. I'll be yours."

And then…I sealed it with a kiss.

God, what a mess. What an absolutely, horrible fucking mess. I was a disaster. Even in my drunken haze, I could see that. The only reason I had anything alcoholic to drink was to forget about Bella. It seems that not even alcohol could drown out her image.

I rubbed my face with my hand and continued to stare at the stars. I'd gotten off the diving board after Bella left and Jessica gave me my drink. I was lucid enough to know it wasn't such a hot idea to be hovering precariously over a pool. I'd laid myself down on the grass and just watched the clouds and stars pass me.

Why the hell did you say no? That was your chance, your one opportunity and you blew it asshole. Oh what did it matter? Bella didn't want me. James always was her first priority and if I'd been a selfish dick, I would've told her yes. As it were, her happiness meant more to me than my own. I'd never be able to live with myself if I took her away from her chance with him. She deserved to know if James was what she wanted…play the field a bit. Besides, I knew I was too fucked up for her.

Motherfuckin' piece of shit, I could just scream! I wanted to yell at the top of my lungs to whatever god was out there and curse him to hell. Whatever demented joke was placed on me was not funny. My situation could only be described as pathetic…especially as I sat out here with a bottle in my hand.

Why couldn't it have been me that she wanted? I didn't understand this twisted universe. Every girl that I had met, Alice and Rose included, had always wanted me first. Bella strolls along and who the hell does she want? That fucker James. It didn't make sense! I rubbed my eyes again…maybe I was thinking too highly of myself.

Bella was one person I was never able to truly figure out completely. Everyone around me had always been really easy to read…which was why I was able to manipulate them to do what I wanted. Ever since that first day though, Bella was resistant to my charms. She never fell for my smile or my burning look. I think that was why I was so attracted to her. She wouldn't fall for my bullshit.

That and the fact that she was goddamn beautiful.

However, I had noticed some peculiar things going on with her in the last couple of weeks. Her confidence had grown tremendously, and with that, a boldness that I had never seen. One, she initiated a lot of our bedroom time together. Two, she wasn't shy in school anymore. In fact, she looked for the attention of the other little boys in our class. If I hadn't known she wasn't serious about them, I would've freaked. As it was, I was barely tolerating her behavior…but Rose thought it beneficial to her self esteem. Third, she took no bullshit from any of the whores in school. I smiled as I remembered what happened to Lauren. According to the grapevine, Lauren had been walking down the stairs at school in the direction of the gym for cheer practice. Bella collided with her, as she was coming down herself and caused Lauren to fall down the last four steps. She sprained her ankle which caused Rose and Alice to kick her off the team.

I would've believed it was an accident, had it not been for the smug look on Bella's face as she walked away from the scene of the crime.

All in all, I was proud of Bella for sticking up for herself…but over the course of time, I found her changing and I didn't know how I felt about that.

Regardless, she wasn't my problem anymore. I'd handed her off to James with a nice bow tied around her on a fuckin' platter. I hope he enjoyed it.

I cringed just thinking about what exactly he would be enjoying when I heard someone approach.

"What's up Cullen? You look like you're in pain."

I opened my eyes and noticed Jacob taking a seat next to me. I hadn't noticed him at the party earlier. I quirked my eyebrow at him and saw him smile.

"I just got here. I had to spend the New Year with my family, but then decided to swing by here and say hi to everyone."

I nodded and pulled my arm over my eyes. To my own surprise, I answered him back. "I'm not in pain, I'm drinking my life away, can't you tell?"

From the little crack underneath my arm, I saw him pluck some of the grass and toss them.

"Yeah, I can tell. You want to tell me why?"

For some inane reason…I did. I needed someone I could talk to desperately but I wasn't sure if I could with Jacob. I knew he had an interest in Bella as well. I decided to test the waters…

"I'm hoping I can drown out the sound of James and Bella fucking in my house. I don't need to hear that shit."

He chuckled as he continued to twirl the blades of grass in his hands. "Oh, it's not so bad. Besides, I don't even think they're here. I heard Alice say she took off about ten minutes ago."

I bit back the curse that was on my tongue. Instead, I looked at him and noticed he was not in the least bit angry…or jealous.

"I thought you had a thing for Bella."

He smiled. "I did…until I met Vanessa." He said her name so reverently, I had to believe he really cared for her.

"Vanessa? Who is that?"

"A girl I met. She just transferred to the university that I attend. I helped her around, showed her where everything was…and the rest is history. She's the girl of my dreams Cullen."

He looked down at me with the kind of grin I could only describe as a fool in love. I wasn't sure if I hated him even more or if I envied him.

"Well, I'm sure she's nice."

"Oh, she is. She's with her family tonight though so I couldn't see her. Anyway, I came over to see if you wanted to talk. You look like you could use a friendly ear."

I wasn't sure I wanted to talk about it anymore. Maybe it would be better if I kept my mouth shut.

"No, I'm okay…"

He cut me off. "How long have you been in love with her? With Bella?"

My frantic eyes searched his and I realized he knew the truth. He was too smart for his own good.

"Am I that obvious?" I asked him, defeated.

"No…but I pay a good deal of attention. It didn't help that you would piss all over her whenever another guy came around…especially me. I was waiting for one of you to make it official. Instead, I find you here drunk off your ass and Bella off with that blonde bozo."

He was quiet for a moment. "What happened?" he asked quietly.

Suddenly, the words spilled out from my mouth. I couldn't stop them. I began from the moment we'd started the stupid bet right until he found himself sitting with me. I'm not sure how long I spoke for…but Jacob just sat there, listening to every single word, never stopping me to ask a question.

Even after I was quiet, he didn't speak. I was expecting him to tell me to run after her, or that I was a fuckin' moron for letting her go. He didn't though…and his next words surprised me.

"What happened to you?"

His words caught me off guard; I didn't understand the meaning behind them.

"What do you mean what happened to me. I just sat here for god knows how long, and explained my situation."

Jacob shook his head. "No…something's off. You're not telling me something. What happened to make you feel so unsure of yourself? Like…like you're not good enough for her. You're afraid of something…but what?"

I narrowed my eyes. "I just fuckin' told you that I was a man whore. I fucked girls for a sport, Jacob. Of course I'm not good enough for her."

He sighed. "Look, I'm not going to sit here and pretend to believe you just like you're not going to sit there and pretend you don't know what I'm talking about. It demeans us both. Now, Bella knew how you were. That's the reason she accepted your help. I could understand if she didn't know about your past…but she does. She knows everything about you, even whatever it is you're not telling me. No…you're afraid…and I'll wager that you're afraid of losing her forever."

It felt like Jacob had just stabbed me with a knife… but instead of lashing out at him, I closed my eyes and tried to concentrate on breathing…because it felt like my emotions were going to come out from me. He gave me a moment to compose myself before he continued.

"My advice? Work on yourself. You obviously have some issues you need to deal with. You won't tell me, and that's fine – but whatever you have hanging over your head, like a dark cloud, you need to let it go. Look at it this way…you didn't want to take a chance on Bella because you were afraid you were going to lose her in one way or another. Yet, you already lost her…and you didn't even take that chance."

He was right. Jacob was right. I sat up and hung my head, staring at the grass underneath me. It was amazing what a second perspective on your life would do to you. I didn't think it would help, and I wasn't even sure what made me do it…but I was glad that Jacob was here – and I never thought that would happen.

I felt his hand pat my back, since obviously, he couldn't exactly hug me or tell me sweet words of encouragement. I was grateful for him though. He was there when I needed him.

"Are you boys coming inside, or are you going to sit out here all night and build a campfire?"

Alice had walked over to us and I looked up and smiled. I still wasn't happy but I at least had a goal now. I got up to my feet and helped Jacob up and we walked back inside together.

"Jacob, I made you a bed upstairs in the hallway we sleep in. You can crash there if you'd like."

"Oh no…I couldn't do that…"

"Jacob, she's right. It's late. I had no idea I kept you out there for almost three hours talking. I'm sure you're tired. It's just one night and it would make me feel better if we could do this for you."

He smiled and thanked us as he walked to where Alice had indicated. After saying our goodnights, Alice turned to me.

"Are you okay?"

"Alice, I have had way too many people ask me that fucking question. Please don't."

She nodded and was about to turn away when I softly asked her, "Is she okay?"

She hesitated and I knew I didn't want to know. "Bella's fine. She made it indoors."

"Is she here?"

Alice bit her lip and shook her head no. I could tell she didn't want to tell me anything else…but I'm a masochist and I had to know.

"Is she with him?"


"Is she?"

She nodded.

I turned around, numbly, and went into my own room. I stripped and fell into the bed, smelling Bella all around me. I remembered what we had done the night before…and realized we would probably never do it again. I rolled over and snuggled the pillow that had her scent on it closing my eyes as I tried to chase away my sorrow. I knew no one else would ever cut it for me. Bella was it…and I had let her go.

What a stupid, stupid man. Happy New Year to me.

AN: Please be kind when submitting your review…I promise, I won't make them suffer too long…

Don't forget to check out The Sandbox and read the new story Wicked Angel. All info is in my profile page. Love all of you!!