It's Christmas week, yo.

And keeping that in mind, how about our new little venture?

We have been smutted. In some cases, quite gloriously.

Your stories made us snort. They made us wet. And a few times they made us gasp, scratch our heads in puzzlement, or shake our heads in amazement.

You guys are pretty much amazing. Thank you for answering the call of these two naughty little Christmas sprites.

We decided to kick it off with our offering. Here ya go-

Twilight is not ours, nor is it any of our contest entrant's. Unless one of you is S. Meyer in disguise?

Home for the Holidays


This can't be happening.


I refuse to believe that my lot in life is so suck-ass that I could be reduced to such heights of pathetic wanting as to result in this, the epitome of all that I want yet fear.

Edward fucking Cullen.


"Hey, Bella," he said, striding confidently into my apartment. The door was open and the living room was a flurry of mess and suitcases and iPods and people. My roommate and her boyfriend were headed toward the airport and Edward and I were headed toward the world's most awkward and insanely long car ride to Washington.

"Hey, Edward," I breathed, cursing the breathlessness and squeak as I said his name. Crap. Why am I never cool when he's around?

I've only been hanging out with him at least once a week since the beginning of college.

You'd think I'd get used to his voice and smell and smile and his damned proximity. But I turned into a tongue-tied teenager every time he was near.

This is what I get for being such a chickenshit. Three years of being the roommates of a couple, and the two of us were barely on a first-name basis. What can I say? He's hot and funny and wanted by most females, myself being the most obsessive. I had a fucking clipping from the University's newspaper from when he won some stupid track meet (that I attended and cheered my ass off at) taped to the inside of my journal, for crying out loud. I was pathetic and stalker-esque in my silent worship. And he, of course, was totally oblivious. Which is lucky, since I insisted on barely speaking to him. For all the times that he was over here, I'm pretty sure I've only uttered the incredibly brilliant "Hey", "Would you like another slice of pepperoni?", and "No, I love Sportscenter. Really," to his face. I'm pretty sure he thought I'm remedial.

I had told myself a zillion times that there's no way a PreMed is going to be interested in an Art History, no matter that we both had the same odd taste in movies and that I once caught him reading some Dorothy Parker. I secretly believed that we were meant to be, but that's hard to gauge when the object of your lust (I mean, affection) doesn't also believe it. He's just so damned… beautiful. I mean, really. It made me sigh to look at him sometimes, and he'd always turn and gaze at me with those damned icily hypnotic eyes of his and I'd just feel my clothes melting away. Then he'd get crinkles at the corners of his eyes as he smiled questioningly, and I'm sure he thought I was just having a mental breakdown or something. And I'd respond brilliantly by blushing or stammering and turning back to whatever movie the four of us happened to be watching.

The four of us. The four who were supposed to be driving up north for Winter Break. The four of us who were now reduced to two because my roommate's dick boyfriend suddenly, at the last fuckdamned minute, decided to fly home instead. Because he didn't want to put the strain on his transmission. And his stupid parents offered to pay for both he and Angela to go back home, leaving me and Edward up the proverbial creek.

And Edward, of course, being the swell guy that he is, offered to drive the two of us because I "shouldn't be here and alone for Christmas." Which only made me want him more. He's thoughtful, too. Why does he have to be so fucking thoughtful? And how does one say no to the offer of driving from Southern California to Washington, alone in a car, with one of the hottest men in the entire state?

One cannot say no. It would be rude.

So here's Bella, attempting to pack for a trip home that she doesn't want to make, yet is desperate to see through. Because I will make it in the car with him. For over twenty-four hours of driving. Dammit. I can do this. I can last. And I have decided that this is going to be when I get over my obsession with a guy who has never seen me as more than his roommate's girlfriend's boring roommate. Someone to share pizza and light conversation with, and that's it.

There's no way that after spending a day with him alone in a car that I'll still find him hot and interesting. No one is that wonderful.



He eyed my suitcases and raised his eyebrow at me. I flushed. I know, I know. Renee had purchased the girliest fucking bags she could come up with; black, with cherries all over them. Like I'm some sort of trendy, demure whore with my pseudo-goth-a-billy matching luggage that screamed "See? Cherries. Get it? Like I'm virginal, but teasing you with my plump, luscious twin dangling bites of fruit?"

God, maybe there really is something wrong with me.

He hefted the luggage, the muscles in his arms hypnotizing me with the strain of it all. He had such wonderful veins; popping out as he grunted slightly with the effort.

"What the hell do you have in here, Swan?" he laughed, looking at me over his shoulder as he headed out the door.

"Shut it, Cullen. A girl needs her supplies," I responded. I wished I could come up with something more interesting. Sigh.

"You guys have fun!" I heard Angela trill from the kitchen. She and Ben were leaving later that night, and Edward and I had decided to get started early. Traffic would probably suck leaving LA, and we wanted to make it home with decent time. He was taking me to Forks and driving on to Seattle; I almost refused to believe that the perfect man had grown up so close to me. My mind went into fantasy mode, imagining a teenaged Bella finding the teenaged Edward at some school function like a football game. Our eyes would meet in line waiting for nachos, and we'd make a silent agreement to meet under the bleachers for some innocent feelskis and making out. Every teenaged girl's dream.

"Have a safe drive," Ben said, coming out and handing me a Thomas Guide. Edward laughed and reminded him that his truck had GPS, but Ben didn't trust technology. Angela came over and hugged me while Edward stuffed one suitcase under his arm, shaking Ben's hand. Ang eyed me significantly; she knew of my crush, even though I had never confirmed it nor talked of it once. And she never pressed. She was a good friend like that; it's why we'd decided to get an apartment together after two years of dorm living. I was grateful to her for so many things, but dating Edward's roommate was definitely at the top of that list.

"You guys will be fine. Just remember to call when you're safely home," she said, handing me a bag full of snacks and a cooler full of drinks.

"Ready, Bella?" Edward asked, and I felt a ridiculous surge of pleasure rush up from my belly and out my throat as I said, "Yeah, let's go," silently thrilling like I always did whenever he said my name. Beh-lla. Beh-lllllla. I imagined for the three thousandth time what it would sound like whispered in my ear, in passion. Beh-lla.

I watched his ass as we walked out to the curb where he had parked illegally. Making a mental checklist, I made sure we had everything. Luggage- check. Purse, phone- check check. Low self-esteem and near-blinding lust- sigh. Edward. Check.

He opened the door for me and I had a small smile on my face as I climbed up into the truck. I almost wished he was a douche who had raised the shit out of his vehicle so that he'd have to help me up, but he didn't. Just your standard Silverado. Lots of guys out here in So Cal had a truck, and they were all dicks. But not Edward. Never Edward. He always used his truck to help people move. Stupid thoughtful boy.

He got in and turned to me.

"So, are we ready to do this?"


"Then we're off. You drive the radio."

And we left.


I watched her little finger with a jagged, bit nail punch buttons too harshly on my radio.

Four Non Blondes. What's Going On.

Well, she has awful taste in music, which actually surprised me. I pegged her for a decent music lover.

Out of the corner of my eye I watched her put her hair over her shoulder, hiding her face from me.

I sighed, not surprised by this move.

I almost asked Bella Swan out once; she's sexy as all hell, but for whatever reason the girl refuses to say more than two words to me a day.

So, I didn't ask her out, and then, for an entire semester, I was convinced she was just really stupid. I mean, she never contributes to conversations and whenever I ask her anything, even if it's just "Hey, ya need another beer?"she always responds with "huh"?

But a few times, I heard her engaging in intelligent conversation in which she said, well, way more than two words, to Ben or Angela.

Ultimately I came to the conclusion that she harbored something against me personally…which would be fine, if I ever actually did anything to her.

Which I didn't.

I'm nice and I mind my manners in front of chicks, she had no reason to snub me…which is why I offered to drive her home.

One whole day in the car to get her to talk.

Just me and Bella Swan.

I could be annoyingly persistent when I felt like it, and other than her shiny, good smelling hair, she had nowhere to hide.

Linda Perry demanded once more to know what's going on and I couldn't help it, I cringed.

"Sorry," Bella said quietly from the passenger seat and extended her finger to abuse my radio some more.

"No, it's fine…" I said quickly. "We can listen to whatever music you like."

She laughed.

"What?" I asked, not sure if I was confused or frightened for her mental health.

"Don't be silly. No one actually likes this song."


She was talking, I'll take the bait.

"Well then why are you listening to it?"

"You have to listen to this song if it comes on. You just have to. The thing about this song is, while no one likes it, everyone knows all the words."

I opened my mouth to protest that, but she was right.

Even I knew all the words.

Then Bella Swan started to sing softly beside me about crying in bed sometimes…and I found myself smiling and wanting her to say more ridiculously stupid and insightful things.

But she didn't, so I'd have to prod.

"When's your birthday?" I blurted out.

"September thirteenth. Why?"

"Curious. Bored. What's your favorite color?"

"Er, red."

"Mine's blue," I grinned, and I couldn't tell if she was annoyed or scared, but her face was all red and she was definitely feeling something.

I decided to keep going. If nothing else, her reactions were kind of funny, and what the hell else did I have to keep me busy for the next day?

"Do you like candy?"

"Of course I like candy."

"What's your favorite candy?"

"Straight up Hershey's kisses. No almonds. No white chocolate swirly shit. Just the classic kisses. Preferably in silver foil, but with the holidays I have to suck it up and take the silver with the red and green."

I hit on a passionate subject—that was the most she's said to me in three years… so I kept going.

"Hold up. That is contradictory for two reasons."


"First, your favorite color is red, yet you'd rather not have the red-wrapped kisses?"

"I'm a sucker for traditionally classic."

"I'll give you that, but Hershey's kisses don't count. Chocolate isn't candy."

"Of course it is," she actually snorted at me then peeked incredulously at me from out of her little hair shield.

"Uh, no, actually, it's not," I shrugged, correcting her.


Everyone knows chocolate isn't candy.

"Cullen, you may be a Premed hotshot, but I'm the expert at candy."

"Clearly, you're not—"

"Look, I won't lecture you on the cardiovascular system, you don't lecture me on candy. Chocolate. Is. Candy."

This girl is too much.

"Is. Fucking. Not," I said, staring out the windshield, trying not laugh.

"Are you kidding me?" she snapped, twisting in her seat to face me.

Her cheeks were all red and her big brown eyes were all beady and narrow.

I resisted the urge to laugh. It might've gotten me smacked.

"No, I'm not kidding. For one, anything that can be defined as candy should be a primary color—"

"Yeah, well, chocolate is fucking candy," she said, flatly, crossing her arms over her chest.

My mother would call this move sassy.

I thought it was…more than cute.


There was a kind of fire in this Bella that I wasn't aware existed—whatever it was, it ignited something in me and I wanted her to show me more of it.

I raised an eyebrow in her general direction and pulled off the freeway at the next exit.

"Where are we going? We don't need gas yet—"

"I gotta get something," I said quickly, pulling into the nearest gas station.

I parked and grabbed the handle to get out then she put her hand on my arm and smiled up at me.

I didn't know what she wanted, but when her eyes were all big and brown like that, and her smile was so on me like that…she could have anything she wanted.

I realized I wasn't moving, and then I realized it was because I didn't want her to take her hand off of me.




"Pick me up some Hershey's kisses when you're in there. You know…candy."

"Not candy," I said quickly before hopping out and slamming the door, but I swear I could hear her laughing through the windows.

I grabbed what I needed inside and I couldn't help the smirk on my face as I walked back to my truck.

I loved being right.

I almost whistled, but then stopped dead in my tracks.

Hell no.

She was sitting in the driver's seat, looking all tiny and cute.

Hell yes?

Wait a second.

I got in the passenger seat and she turned and smiled brightly at me.

"Ready now?" she asked, moving to put the car in gear.

"This is highly entertaining and everything, but I'd like to be home before Christmas. Let's not waste time arguing over who is driving. I am."

"Yes, well, our seating arrangements are rather unfortunate then, because—"

"Seriously. Seriously. It's my truck."

"Seriously, I'm not stealing it. You can sit beside me the whole time. I just wanna drive it."

I snorted—mistake.

"Are you doubting my ability to operate a motor vehicle?"

"Are you doubting my ability to physically move you to the passenger seat?"

"You wouldn't."

"I would."

She quickly put the car in gear and slammed on the gas.

"What the—"

"Well, now it would just be dangerous to move me," she smiled, taking us back to the freeway.

She might be crazy…I might die in my truck with this insane beautiful person.

I clicked my seatbelt on and sighed, because she might be crazy…but I was pretty sure I liked it.

"Why do you want to drive?" I asked after a few minutes, when I was sure she actually knew how to drive.

"Relaxes me," she shrugged.

I hadn't realized she was tense.

"What did you get at the gas station? Sorry, you don't have to answer that. It's not my business, I just-"

Her face was all red and she was rambling, like she invaded my privacy by asking what I bought in a freaking gas station.

I held up the pocket dictionary and blew the thick coat of dust off of the red cover.

"A dictionary?" she asked.

"You're very observant, Bella. Now if you would mind observing the road a bit more I'll just clear something up for you."

She looked curiously at me and I absently gestured toward the road while I flipped through the tiny dictionary.

"What are you—"

"Ahh. Here we are. Listen up, Swan. Candy- any of a variety of confections made with sugar, syrup, etc., often combined with chocolate, fruit, nuts, etc. Ora single piece of such a confection or slang for cocaine or someone or something that is pleasing or pleasurable, usually in a superficial way. You're wrong, Bella. Chocolate is not candy. You can't argue with Merriam-Webster. You just can't."

"It never said—"

"You didn't listen closely. Often combined with chocolate—I think we can safely deduce chocolate. Is. Not. Candy."

"I think we can safely deduce that dictionary is stupid and wrong."

"Stupid and wrong?" I repeated.

Okay, maybe I was right that entire semester…she could very well be stupid.

"Yes stupid and wrong."

"Bella, you can't just—"

"I have every right to question the objectivity of Mr. Webster," she sniffed, staring out the windshield.

"I suppose you do. But you're still wrong," I shrugged, relieved she was just stubborn and not an idiot.

"I'm right Cullen. Where is my candy by the way?" she asked, holding her palm out and not looking at me.


"Did you forget my candy?" she asked.

"Not candy," I corrected her.

She didn't move her open palm, so I dug in my pockets and—oh, gum.

I took out the single piece of now poorly wrapped wintergreen Wrigley's and placed it in her palm, then plucked a piece of lint from it, then closed her palm.

She opened her hand and took a quick peek.

"Gross," she said.

"You're welcome," I smiled.

Then she actually ate the gum.

Oh, I like her.

Bella snapped the gum and moved her hand back to the radio. I lightly slapped it away.

"You get driving rights, I get radio rights," I said, like it should be obvious.

"Okay," she agreed lightly.

I watched her drive my truck easily, swiftly. She kind of hummed under her breath at the good songs and the heat coming from the vents kept blowing this amazing scent at me, like strawberry and girl and I kind of hoped her smell would linger in the truck long after she was gone.

A while of good music and no talking passed before I decided to bug her again. I was kind of fascinated by her silly take on things.

"Do you like Christmas?"

"Everyone likes Christmas."

"Scrooge doesn't like Christmas. The Grinch doesn't like Christmas."

"Wrong. By the end of both those tales, those fictional characters like Christmas. They don't count anyway, they're fictional."

"The Grinch counts," I said, because he just does.

"Doesn't matter, he now likes Christmas."

"I suppose. What did you ask for?"

"Like gifts? I didn't. I'm not seven."

"Christmas is for everyone Bella."

"What did you ask for?"

"Nothing. I'm not seven," I shrugged, purposefully trying to agitate her.

"You are not at all what I thought you were," she said suddenly.


Back up.

She thought of me at all?

This was news, as she hadn't even spoken to me before.

"What exactly did you think?" I asked, leaning in.

"Well, I thought you were, er, just a nice, normal guy."

"So, I'm not normal or I'm not nice?"

"You're abnormal, but nice."

"You're definitely weirder than me," I said, because she was.

Her face turned bright red and she slightly leaned away from me.

"I didn't mean that in a bad way. It's good," I said.

"It's good to be weird?"

"Weird is too strong of word. I retract it. I just meant…you haven't said more than five words to me in years, and then you finally start talking and you steal my truck and say refreshingly silly, insightful things."

"I didn't steal the truck! You're right here! I'm just driving it—"

"Why do you never talk to me?" I asked.

"I do talk to you," she mumbled, getting all red again.

"No, you don't. You say what is absolutely necessary and refuse to engage in conversation. I swear, I've spent hours sitting right next to you and nothing. Why?"

"Because. Because. You…you make me nervous," she murmured, her face redder than the red scarf around her neck.

"I do? Why? I've never done anything to—"

"You just do, okay?" she snapped, then turned the radio up.

Okay, so I've been accused of being a little intimidating before. But come on, this girl has been around me long enough to know I'm nothing to be afraid of.

She kept driving and I kept staring at her.

There was nothing else to look at and she was very nice scenery. Her lips were full and every once in a while they'd twitch or whisper the lyrics to a song—and I was constantly wondering what she was thinking about.

It was driving me nuts.

Somewhere after crossing into Oregon, it occurred to me that I desperately wanted to kiss her—well, I've always wanted to kiss her, but now I really wanted to.

If I didn't get out of the car soon, I was going to just…kiss her.

"Hey, hey, exit the freeway here," I said, tapping on the window with my knuckle.

"Oh, okay, we should eat, I'm—"

"Fine, but first we do this," I said, twisting around to the backseat and using one hand to fish for a disposable camera I knew was back there.

"Do what?"

"Turn left, you'll see."

Ten minutes later.

"Get out, this is important," I said, holding up my camera.

"You can't be serious."

"Oh, I am. Landmarks, Bella. What's a road trip without stopping to visit state landmarks?"

"Uh, a road trip in which I'm not twelve and accompanied by my parents."

"You'll thank me for the memories," I said, and got out of the passenger seat.

She didn't get out so I walked around the truck to her door and opened it. She blinked at me and I grabbed her hand and helped her out of the truck.

"Go stand in front of it," I sighed. She really had no experience with this.

"What is it?"

"The Newberry Volcano! God. It was named for Dr. John Strong Newberry, who was exploring in 1855 when—"

"If I stand there and let you take my picture, can we leave?"


She flashed her best tourist smile just as the wind picked up and blew her hair all around her face—and this was no good for two reasons: one, getting out of the car didn't help. Now I wanted to grope her and kiss her. Two, I really wished the disposable camera actually had film left in it.

I beat her back to the driver's seat and laughed victoriously as she huffed in to the passenger seat.

"You didn't stand a chance. I run track. If you'd ever spoken to me, you would have known that," I grinned.

"I did know that. Congratulations on the last meet, by the way."

My head snapped in her direction.

She knew about that?

"Thank you," I said quietly, digesting the fact that just maybe she'd paid attention to me after all. "And Angela is wrong. You look just as pretty with straight hair as you do with it curled…or whatever."

I said it just so she would know…I paid attention, too.

"Oh…er, thank you," she said, then she was hidden behind her hair again.

A bit later I pulled back off the freeway, just as Bella was biting into an apple.

"Now what?" she asked.

"Uh, we're in Salem, Oregon."


"So! So the Oregon Pioneer!"


I grinned and easily located the landmark sculpture.

"I thought you wanted to be home before Christmas," she grumbled.

"This is necessary," I said.

Bella climbed out of the truck and I shooed her in the direction of the statue.

Fucking ridiculous.

I hoped my expression didn't give me away…this was the stupidest thing I've ever done…it's just now, I wasn't quite ready for our road trip to be over.

Pathetic as it was, I was buying time.

Bella stood next to the statue and looked up at it, chomping lazily on the apple.

"It was constructed in 1938—"

"Just take the picture, Cullen," she said, moving the apple from her mouth and grinning like she meant it.

She didn't bother racing for the driver's side this time and the ride continued. She ate the apple and my mind went crazy thinking of all the ways I'd like to kiss her, or make her laugh, or argue with her.

Her jagged nail hesitated on the radio button at some crappy Pat Benatar chick anthem. She quickly glanced at me, then changed the station.

"You can listen to it," I said, trying not to laugh.

"No, it's okay—"

I brushed her hand away and turned it back.

She could have anything she wanted.

I started to sing along, because how could she be nervous around a guy who sang Pat Benatar?

"You know the words?" she asked, turning to face me, and her eyes were all big with happy.

"Absolutely. I've been to eight grade dances," I said, turning the radio up. "Duet with me, Bella. I know you know the words."

She let out a rushed giggle and shook her head.

I sang louder.

Maybe it's a sign of weakness
When I don't know what to say
Maybe I just wouldn't know
What to do with my strength anyway
Have we become a habit
Do we distort the facts
Now there's no looking forward
Now there's no turning back
When you say—

I nudged her shoulder when I noticed her whispering along with me.

"Louder," I said.

The chorus came, and Bella sang loud and positively awful through her giggles with me.

Her laughter mixed with her off-key voice was, well, the best thing I've ever heard.

She twisted her little body so she was completely facing me, her cheeks flushed with effort, but she kept singing loudly, and I kept singing right along with her.

By the end, we were laughing so hard the lyrics were forgotten and she let her giggles die out while she rested her head back on the head rest…looking not so nervous at all.

"Oh, Bella," I sighed, reaching over to pat the top of her head, "you have an absolutely terrible singing voice."

"I know," she sighed happily.

She asked about my playing the piano, which I hadn't known she knew about. I asked what it was like growing up with a cop father, which she didn't know I knew.

It went like that for a bit, before we were at the Skidmore Fountain in Portland.

She didn't even protest this time, she hopped out and stood in front of the Fountain, hands on her hips and smiling.

I held the camera up to "take the picture".

"Wait!" she suddenly said. "Get in the picture with me."


"No one's around to take it," I shrugged.

"Well, let me take one of you."

"I have a picture of me in front of the Fountain."

"Come on," she smiled, then ran up to me and snatched the camera. "We'll do one together, it'll be—hey!"

Shit. Shit. Shitshitshit.

"Edward…there aren't any exposures left in this camera."

"Huh. Really?"

"Really," she said, her eyes narrowing. "Have you been taking nonexistent pictures?" she asked, incredulous.

"Not exactly. Photographic memory," I said, tapping my temple. "I'll always have those snapshots in my mind. It's better than film because I can look whenever I want and—"

She cut off my bullshit with a confused gasp.

"Sorry?" I offered, not really sorry at all.

"You…are definitely weirder than me," she said, and she looked torn between smiling and yelling.

"Yeah, well, I'm a better singer."

"I'm a better driver."

The absurdity of her statement made me laugh—out loud. A lot.

She snatched the keys from my hand and huffed back to the truck and I was too busy laughing to even care.

Better driver.


She's funny.

I laughed when she drove us out of Portland.

I snickered when she turned up the radio.

I laughed until we were on some deserted Oregon road and my bladder couldn't take it anymore.

"Pull over—"

"Forget it," she said. "There's no film—"

"I don't want to take your picture, I gotta piss."


The car immediately stopped on the shoulder.

I hopped out and stood with my back to the passenger door and unzipped my pants.

I stared at the sky, it was dark…I was hungry…

I heard the car shut off and the door slam while I was still midstream.

"Stay there," she said. "I have to go, too."

I was impressed.

The last chick I took on a road trip wouldn't even use a public rest area.

I heard the shuffling of her clothes then the distinct noise of her pee hitting the soft dirt.

I zipped up my own pants and tried not to be gross and think of her, pantsed and just on the other side of the truck.

"I'm not done yet," she called when she heard my zipper.

"I know. I can hear that," I laughed.

"Ew. Gross," she said, then whispered something that sounded like 'dying'.

When she hopped back in the driver seat I followed suit and got in the passenger seat.

Bella put the keys back in the ignition—one dead sounding click.

She threw me a nervous glance and tried again.


"Oh God. I broke it. I broke your truck. I'm so sorry I—"

"Shh. Relax. It's not broken," I said, leaning over her to start the truck. "Put your foot on the break."



"See? I did break it—"

"Oh my god! You did! You broke my truck!" I said, wide-eyed.

"I'm so sorry—"

"It was a joke, Bella. You didn't break it. The battery died," I said.

"Oh. Well. Now what?"

"Now we take your cell phone out and call triple A."

"I don't have a cell phone."

"How can you not have a cell phone?"

"The same way people ten years ago didn't all have cell phones. It's just not necessary—look, I don't owe you an explanation. Use yours."

"Mine is dead."

"You're going to lecture me about not having a cell phone while yours is completely useless? That is—"

"I didn't lecture you and—"

"You were going to!"

"You can't possibly project what I was or was not going to—"

"Yes, I can, it was obvious—"

"Okay, stop. This is pointless. Let's look at our options. We could wait here and hope that someone stops, and if they do, that they have jumper cables…two big ifs—and it's gonna get fucking cold. Or, we could walk."


"Right. Until we find civilization."

"It's cold!" she shrieked.

"It'll be cold in the truck in about three more minutes."

"It's dark. We don't know what's out there—"

"Bella. I promise you, you'll be okay. I won't let anything get you," I smirked…because she was scared for no damn reason.

She got all red and kind of nodded.

I rifled through my bags in the backseat and fished out most of my ski shit, hats, gloves, coats and the bottle of vintage red I had bought Esme for Christmas, along with the antique corkscrew.

I handed Bella the bottle of wine and corkscrew while I plunked a hat on her head.

"What the hell is this for?" she asked.

"To keep us warm," I said, taking the bottle and putting it on the cab of the truck. "Hold your hands out."

She did and I slipped my gloves on her hands. They were huge and somehow made the rest of her look tiny.

I promised myself I'd keep her warm and safe right then and there.

I put some winter gear on myself and grabbed the bottle from the cab and reached for Bella's hand, but she was trying to dig through her purse with my huge gloves on.

"Do you need some help?" I asked.

"Uh, yes," she said, thrusting the purse at me.

Oooh, a look inside Bella's world.

"What do you need," I said, sticking my hand inside.

"There should be a can of mace," she said and I paused. "My father is a cop," she shrugged.

I didn't move.

"Not to protect me from you, idiot. From…anything else," she said.

"Bella, I won't let anything—"

"Just get the mace. And the Chapstick."


"Just get it," she said, shaking the purse.

It was hard to feel with the gloves.

I pulled out a tampon.

"Not that," she said quickly, turning away.

"Premed," I said laughing. "I'm probably more comfortable with this shit than you."

"Doubt it," she mumbled and I tossed the tampon back in the purse.

I pulled out a small journal next.

Oh, jackpot.

"Put that back," she said.

I did, but I was intrigued…all those amazing Bella thoughts, just written right out…right there.

Finally I found the Chapstick and the mace.

"Take the cap off," she said, I did and she couldn't really grasp the small stick in the huge gloves.

I sighed and jerked it back.

"Pucker up, lady," I said.

"Oh! I- wait. What?" she mumbled, looking everywhere but at me.

"Do you want this on your lips?" I asked.

She nodded.

"Then sit still," I said.

I put a gloved finger under her chin to lift her face and she was shaking.


She was cold—already.

I leaned in so I could see better- I didn't want to shove the Chapstick up her nose—she stopped breathing kind of, which was okay because I was suddenly breathing way too fast and heavy, enough for both of us.

Her lips kind of closed and parted and those lips were all I could see—for a second I was worried they'd all I'd ever be able to see again.

I was hypnotized.

"Well…" she said, making me not look at her lips.

I brought the Chapstick to her lips, and silently cursed it, because, dammit, I wanted to be the only thing rubbing up on those lips.

I did her bottom lip first, and she was trying to keep still but it wasn't working, she was shaking more than before.

By the time I got to her pouty upper lip my dick was hard.

In the freezing cold…just from putting Chapstick on the girl—which really is saying a lot because I've actually felt chicks up in a warm room with a limper dick.

"You should put some on," she said, quickly taking a step back and rubbing her lips together.

I took a step closer and peered at her lips closely.

"I don't think so," I laughed. "That shit has sparkles in it."

"Uh, I'm not fourteen or a stripper. They aren't sparkles. It's iridescent shimmer. You'll get windburn, or chapped or whatever. Put it on."

"Sparkles. And no."

"Shimmer, and don't come crying to me when you're all cracked and hurting."

"I won't," I said.

I will.

I grabbed the wine and corkscrew from the cab and gestured for Bella to get a move on.

"You first," she said, staring past me and out to the deserted black road.

I rolled my eyes and trudged forward.

Bella caught my hand from behind and held it way too tight, making me smile at nothing in particular.

"Just…don't let go," she said. "Don't lose me, it's dark and—"

"Are you afraid of the dark?" I asked, trying not to laugh.

She was completely silent and just held on to my hand.

I shook my hand free from hers and used my teeth to take my glove off.

"Hold this," I said, muffled, thrusting the wine at her.

"I just said don't let go! God you—"

"Hush," I said, digging through my pocket, then proudly held up a red Bic lighter and flicked it.

I held the flame up under her chin, and all I saw was black eyes and shimmery lips and—fuck she was beautiful.

"You don't smoke," she mused, her breath making the flame waver.

"Much," I said.

"I'm shocked, Mr. Doctor Track Star," she mocked.

I took my thumb from the lighter.

"Fine, okay, sorry," she said quickly—I laughed and relit the flame.

We walked in silence for a while, the only sound the gravel under our feet and the sounds of our nylon jackets swooshing together when our arms swiped.

My thumb was burning and raw, the rest of me freezing, but I kept reflicking the lighter every ten seconds.

"You alright?" I asked after a bit.

"Mmhmm," she uttered, and I could hear her shiver. I stopped walking and she stopped with me. I yanked the glove from her hand and she gasped.

"Relax…here, hold this," I said, giving her the lighter.

She held it up and I took the wine from under my arm and the corkscrew from my pocket.

"Great skills," she mumbled when I had it open it half a second.

"My mom is a wine buff," I said, then took a gulp, wishing my mom was a whiskey buff.

I offered Bella the bottle, and she didn't hesitate like I expected her to. She chugged.

"You like your red, huh?" I asked with raised eyebrows.

She shrugged and handed the bottle back.

We trudged on, passing the bottle back and forth…and then I noticed her starting to stumble.

Then I noticed her starting to giggle at absolutely nothing.

"You're drunk," I scoffed, surprised that my own words came out a bit slurred…and I was smiling, for no apparent reason at all…then I remembered we never did stop to eat.

"Pssh…you're drunk," she said loosely.

I was.

Ten minutes later her arm was linked through mine and the lighter was long forgotten.

"I was fifteen the first time I got drunk," she slurred and hiccupped.

"Yeah, me too…it was three beers and I was with my best friend Jasper…behind a 7-11."

"I drank peach Schnapps. It was awful…and I was by myself…"

This made me howl with laughter.

"That's the fucking saddest thing I ever heard," I laughed, doubling over, dragging her with me.

"Shut up," she laughed. "I was in my basement, it was Charlie's…and I puked all over the ironing board."

Fucking ridiculous.

I caught my breath, only to lose it again when she started laughing harder.

"Okay, okay," she giggled, regaining composure…kind of. "First kiss?"

"Umm, I was twelve. Eleven? No, twelve. Her name was Elizabeth and she tasted like peanut butter and jelly and I only did it because she had tits, and I wanted to feel them," I confessed.

"Well, didja get a feel?" Bella slurred, asking seriously.

"Of course. Of Cottonelle 2-ply. To this day, it's the biggest disappointment of my life. How 'bout you?"

"I was flat 'til I was fourteen, which is also the year of my first kiss. I no longer think it's a coincidence," she giggled and took another gulp from the bottle. "Your mom has good taste. Wish I could say the same for you."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"Fucking you—"

"You have dirty drunk mouth," I cut in.

"You fucking like it."

"I do," I admitted.

"Anyway, you have awful taste."

"I have impeccable taste—what the fuck are we talking about?"

"Victoria. Tanya. Skank. Jessica."

"Chicks I dated?"


"I'll have you know Victoria was…Victoria had…very nice hair," I said, because, hell, she was kind of skanky.

"Jeshica?" Bella questioned.

"Jessica is a wonderful…Jessica's nails always looked very…pink."

"You have awful taste—"

"Mike Newton. What the fuck was that? God, that kid was a douche."

"Mike was nice! He always opened doors and—"

"Was a douche."

I always hated that prick. She dated him during the semester when I was certain she was an idiot. Not idiots wouldn't date Mike Newton.

"Oh, leave Mike alone. They can't all be all perfect and Edward-like."

Pardon me?

I'm perfect?

"Bella, how come you never talked to me?"

"I told you," she shrugged.

"Not good enough. That was a shitty answer earlier."

"Oh, fuck it. I'm drunk. I might die out here. Gimme my purse."

"Answer my question," I said, dangling the purse over her head.

"I'm fucking going to," she laughed, yanking her arm free from mine.

I gave her the purse and dug my lighter back out, so she could rummage effectively.

"This is taking forfuckingever. Why don't you just tell me?" I sighed, when she started mumbling something under her breath.

"Shaddup. Ya want an answer, I'm giving it."

I kicked absently at the gravel.

I flicked the lighter quick, making a strobe.

She kind of growled and I kept doing it while she swatted at my hand.

"Here," she finally said, then thrust something in my chest.

Bella quickly linked her arm back through mine and turned her face away.

"What the hell is this?" I asked, bringing the lighter over the object she practically threw at me.

"Your answer."

It was the little journal.

"Bella. I don't wanna know about girly talks with Angela and bad poetry—"

"Uh, first of all, if I wrote poetry it'd be damn good. Second of all—fucking just open it."

I narrowed my eyes and held the flame between us.

Her eyelids were heavy and her posture loose.

Her lips were stained red from the wine and sparkled from the ridiculous Chapstick and little choppy tufts of breath clouded in the cold air—and she was completely wasted.

I couldn't look in that girly journal.

I shoved it back in her purse, annoyed at myself.

I should've just looked, because I was fairly certain whatever was in there was good.

"Why'dja do that?" she asked, trying horribly to balance on a yellow line on the road.


"That's a shitty answer."

"'Cause if you got something to tell me, you should tell me when you're not fucked up."

She stopped for a second and stared at the yellow line, then a smile slowly spread on her face.

"That's why," she whispered and I had no fucking clue what she was talking about, but it didn't matter, she was talking to herself anyway.

Ten minutes later she was dead weight on my back, breathing heavily in my ear, her heels flopping on my legs with each step.

I was put off by the layers of coat between us, because I wanted to feel her on me.

We were freezing, drunk, in the middle of nowhere and all I could think about was how much I missed by not making her talk to me three years ago...and how she would taste. And how she would move if I went down on her. And the things she would say if we ever went on a date. And what her hair looks like in the morning when she wakes up. And…I should have fucking looked at the journal.

Then I saw it.

Up the road, a dim fledgling, flashing sign.

It read M OT L.

If the piece of shit sign worked, it would read MOTEL.

"Look," I whispered, pointing ahead at it.

I felt her head lift from my shoulder and a pang of…loss.

"Oh!" she sighed, and her legs tightened around my waist, making me want to run in the opposite direction, so we could just stay alone and isolated and turn us into something…this was clearly starting to make me crazy.

I kept moving forward, reminding myself I still had the whole night and most of tomorrow just to be next to her.

Too soon we stood in front of the dilapidated Motel.

"It's the fucking Bates Motel," I mumbled.

"Let's take our chances on the street," Bella said, yanking my arm.

I laughed and wanted to let her drag me away…but she was cold and tired and I promised…

"It might be fun," I said, pulling her back to me.

She was stumbling and I was firm and the result was her crashing in to me, too hard and too quick.

Bella looked up and I looked down and we collided again—this time on purpose.

Her teeth bumped into my lip and my tongue flicked out to lick at my wound but found her tongue first and she grabbed at my jacket with the ridiculously large gloves, unable to get a firm grasp, she just kept slipping off…

I wrapped an arm tightly around her waist, but stumbled, making our teeth clank together again and she yelped something into my mouth—then I kind of tasted the blood from my lip—and fuck this was the best and worst kiss of all time.

A bell jingled from the Motel door and we shot apart from each other, panting and wide-eyed.

Bella's gloved hand clapped over her mouth and I sucked on my bleeding lip.

"Well. We do hourly rates, but don't stain the sheets."

I looked up and saw a sixty-year-old woman with the physique of a linebacker staring at us…not in shock, more in boredom.

She wore a blue house coat and steel toe boots and smelled like cat and cigarettes.

"Oh, er, see," Bella was stammering, but scary Motel worker was focused on me.

"Boy, you've got sparkles on your lips," she said, shaking her head.

She mumbled something about the times then turned to open the door for me and Bella.

No, of course we wouldn't end it there.

The thing about jandco and withthevampsofcourse is that they're both unapologetic rule-breakers.

And they seem to be unable to listen to themselves. So this story is going to bookend the contest.

Up next…. Our first contest winner!

Oh, we're all winners. But this story just made us all happy and wet.

PS- some of you were under the misunderstanding that there would be an overall winner. Nope. The big winner is you, the reader, getting some fun, sexytimes as a Christmas gift, courtesy of jandco and withthevampsofcourse.