LL: I bet they think we died!
PWTF: Sometimes I wonder if I DID die...and the last few months were literal
hell instead of metaphorical

LL: I know it felt like I was dying. Stupid morning sickness.

PWTF: Ouch yeah...but I think death counts as a good reason for an unannounced hiatus, right?

LL: I sure hope soo....

Disclaimer: We don't own so don't pwn!


Edward dropped me off at the hotel mid-afternoon before he headed back to the pool to warm-up for his preliminary race – once again against Jasper – in the 100 meter freestyle. I would of course be attending the race, but to my friends and the rest of the world it would seem as if I was merely supporting Jasper. Only Edward and I knew the truth; and maybe Tanya.

After a morning of such high emotion and sensation, it felt nice to just relax for a bit before heading out again. This week of races, was proving to be one of the busiest and most intense times of my life, even keeping in mind all the demands of training leading up to the event.

Soon enough, however, it was time to head out yet again for the race. I met Alice, Rose, and Emmett in the lobby; we were all actually free to watch this race and were looking forward to spending time together while cheering on Jasper - and Edward, too in my case.

Despite having spent so much time with Edward the past couple days, Alice immediately pulled me into the conversation with ease. Before I knew it, we had made our way to the pool and were seated in the stands, continuing to chat in a cheerful manner. Alice's never-ending enthusiasm had successfully distracted me from all my worries. Tanya's hatred, the secrecy surrounding Edward and I, the media's interference; it all faded away in the innocent joy of the moment.

Too soon, however, the five-minute warning came over the loudspeaker, and Alice ended our conversation so she could focus on Jasper. I followed her gaze to Jasper, watching him peel off his warm-ups before quickly meeting Alice's gaze. The connection between the two of them was nearly palpable, and I looked away, not meaning to interrupt their silent conversation across the deck.

At that moment, I felt a small, light object hit the back of my head, and I turned around instinctively. There, just three rows behind me, was Tanya, glaring daggers at me. I whipped my head back to the front, but it was too late; my distraction was gone.

Without even seeking him out, my eyes found Edward's, and the intense feelings from earlier came flooding back, nearly overwhelming me with their power. It felt strange to feel so strongly about any one person, especially someone whom I had only truly known for just a couple days. Though having read about it and swooned over it multiple times in books and movies, I had never held much stock in love at first sight in reality. It just didn't happen.

Earlier, I had slipped up and nearly said, "I love you so much" to Edward. But I said the same thing to Alice and Rose all the time. Even Emmett and Jasper occasionally. They were like family to me, and I loved them as such. It must have been the same thing with Edward, right?

Yet I couldn't help the nagging voice in the back of my mind telling me that it was completely different. Though we hadn't gone any farther than second base, this morning we had both admitted that what we were doing went beyond the physical.

Perhaps that had to be my decision, for now. Love was a precious thing to me, and I didn't want to rush into calling this love. However, what Edward and I had was definitely special. Ever since I had realized his true nature and personality I had felt a strong pull to him, a deep connection. I couldn't possibly explain it; I just had to feel it.

With that decision, the call came for the first heat to take their places, and Edward tore his gaze from mine. By some coincidence, Edward and Jasper had both drawn the first heat. They were placed right next to each other in lanes four and five, which definitely made it easier to pretend all my attention was on Jasper. Although, Alice and Rose probably knew, or at least suspected, otherwise.

The swimmers took their marks, then and then dove powerfully into the water on the buzzer. I couldn't help but gaze in awe at the muscles rippling on Edward's back. I may have seen swimmers' muscles before, but seeing Edward in that moment blew everything else away. In that moment, I couldn't blame Tanya for wanting Edward as arm candy. After all, who wouldn't want him?

Before I knew it, the race was over. Having been staring at Edward for all fifty or so seconds, I hadn't noticed Jasper pull ahead until Alice began screaming in my ear. Glancing up at the leader board, there it was – Jasper Whitlock in first place, and a new world record, too.

Alice's uncontrolled delight inspired her to take us all out for a celebratory dinner for Jasper's new record. As we sat around the table, chatting amiably, I couldn't help but feel relieved at the sheer normalcy of it all. I let my worries from earlier drift into the far, dusty corners of my mind, relaxing in my chair, with a celebratory beer in my hand. Allotting myself this one indulgence, I was jolted out of my momentary daze by Alice.

"So what were you doing with Edward Cullen all morning, Bella?"

I groaned, "Alice!"

"What?" She replied, blinking innocently. "I'm just curious." Looking at her pointedly, I cursed the little pixie and her infernal mastery at knowing exactly when there was some dramatic dish to be spilled.

I looked around the table at all of my friends. Like Alice, Rosalie was staring at me, eager to know more. Jasper sat in silence; I had always admired his easy-going ways, and I had never been more grateful in my life. And, as I expected, Emmett was making kissy-faces in my direction, causing a deep blush to redden my face and ears, before a wicked grin stretched across his wide face.

I vaguely noticed Alice saying something about a slumber party later, but my eyes were locked on Emmett's in fright. Such an expression on his face could only mean I was about to be embarrassed completely.

"Um…I have to…gotothebathroom," I rushed out, desperate to escape before my blush had time to spread to my toes.

Pressing down the "cold" knob on the sink in the bathroom, I splashed some water onto my face. ARGH!!! I let out a choking noise, trying to keep from screaming. The water was boiling hot. Was someone trying to kill me? 'Cause they were doing a damn fine job of it.

I shifted to my left, trying the other sink. Relieved to find the cold was working in this one, I doused my burning face, both literally and figuratively.

As I pushed the door open, bracing myself to face Emmett, I heard a yelp as the door made contact with someone.

"Oh! I'm so sorry. I have terrible luck…bad things just seem to…OH!" I let out in surprise as I noticed that the person I had smacked was Edward. He let out a gentle laugh as he swept me into a hug.

"Ah, Bella."

"Wh-what're you doing here?" And more importantly, why was he hugging me in public where anyone could see? And wouldn't Tanya be with him?

"BELLA!!!" I whipped my head towards the screeching call. Alice.

"Bella, you have to come back to the table, now! Tanya just went into that bathroom. Didn't you see her?"

"She can't be in there. I just walked out, and there was no one in when I entered…" I trailed off. Oh, shit! Maybe she walked in sometime during my little stunt with the sinks.

I became acutely aware of the fact that I was embracing Edward not ten feet from Tanya, only separated by a thin, closed door. As I attempted to disentangle my arms from his strong, swimmer grip, Alice continued, "Come back with me Bella, before she walks…." Her voice trailed off, confusing me.


"Um…I'm just gonna leave now…." Alice turned her back and fled. The Alice I knew didn't run from anything. Why the hell was she running now?

Suddenly I heard the bathroom door shut, and I closed my eyes in fear.

In my head I began a countdown until the bomb would go off.



This shocked me so much my eyes shot open as I wondered if my initial thought was wrong.

Nope. Tanya was glaring at me, her brilliant eyes only a foot from mine.

"I'm sorry," stumbled from my lips, merely a whisper. My feet were rooted to the spot, though my mind screamed at me to run after Alice. People always talked about "fight or flight," but I couldn't seem to do either.

Tanya's picture-perfect, poster-girl lips opened, and then closed again. It appeared she was undecided about how to kill me. I just prayed it would be over quickly; I didn't want to linger in agony, send me straight to Heaven, or whatever came after death.

Her mouth opened again, and I winced internally. But instead of lighting into me, she turned to Edward.

"Fine!" She about screamed. I winced again, this time not worried about my safety but the attention that was not most likely shifting focus to us.

"You want to throw everything away for some plain American," she spat the word like it was the worst curse in the English language. "Go ahead. I loved you. I forgave you. But I'm done trying. Do whatever you want. We're through…and I'm keeping the flat!"

She straightened up, attempting to stride away briskly, but Edward caught her arm.

"Bella's anything but plain, and besides, our relationship," it was Edward's turn to scorn, "meant far more to you than it did to me, and you know it."

Before he could let out another word, Tanya huffed proudly and stalked away, her thousand-dollar stiletto heels clacking her departure.

"Well that was interesting." I was still stunned by the brief exchange. It had lasted less than a minute but left my mind reeling.

"I don't like it," replied Edward. "It's not like her. Tanya doesn't just give up. I hate to sound cliché, but she's planning something. I know it."

My sudden outburst of laughter surprised me. While worried right along with him, the line was so cheesy and my relief so great that I cracked up. Soon Edward joined me, and we were clutching each other, trying to keep standing despite the urge to double over.

At the exact same instant, our laughter ceased as we realized how on top of each other we were – in public. Evil plot or not, Tanya could no longer keep us from speaking – or touching – without fear of the paparazzi, who, despite not swarming us this instant, would assuredly be displaying footage of this scene across the news tomorrow. Sometimes I wondered how they did it.

I shook this thought from my head, focusing on the perfect man in my arms. Having clearly realized the same new freedom, his gaze darkened as he leaned in to press his mouth to mine.

I was instantly transported back to this afternoon's make-out/groping session. The restaurant disappeared from my senses as I became consumed by the feel of Edward's tongue pleading entrance to my mouth. Our bodies were pressed tightly together, and it seemed I felt every inch of him, yet it wasn't nearly enough.

After seeing enough fireworks behind my eyelids that I wondered if it was possible to be blinded, I heard someone clear their throat pointedly and felt Edward gently pull away. Desperately working to catch my breath, I let out a pant of relief that it was only Rose and Alice and not some unknown restaurant patron.

It was clearly Rose who had broken us apart. "If you two are done now, the rest of us have finished eating and are gonna head back to the hotel."

Struggling to come up with a witty comeback, my brain was still too flustered to string enough words together into a coherent sentence.

"Come on Rose," Alice chided. "But really Bella, I've seen so little of you. We can order room service and have our own little slumber party in London!"

Returning my gaze to Edward, I pleaded with my eyes for him to save me from the torture. I loved my friends, but they could be a bit overwhelming.

"As much as I'd love to keep you all to myself, we spent all morning together, so I have to give you up now." So much for my savior.

"Yay!" Alice squealed before grabbing my hand, attempting to dance-pull me away.

"Will I see you tomorrow?" I asked hopefully.

"Of course. It's the semifinals tomorrow, remember?"

Duh! The evening had been so eventful that I'd already forgotten the afternoon's race.

"Tomorrow then," I called back to him before Alice's tugging increased and we escaped the restaurant into the fresh – albeit moist – night air.

A/N: I'd just like to mention a new set of awards from Gustariana and HMonster4, The Indie Twific Awards. These awards are different from the rest in that they are intended to bring attention and recognition to underappreciated stories. Qualifying stories have an average of less than 30 reviews per chapter if not completed, or less than 1000 reviews if complete.

This story does qualify, but more than ourselves, there are so many awesome stories out there that deserve far more readership than they receive. So go nominate your favorites!

Nominations open next week I believe. Check out the website at theindietwificawards (dot) com

They also have a thread on the Twilighted forums, in the Twilighted Lounge. Check them out!

~pwtf and LeechLover