Author's Note: I really suck at updating I'm sorry =( I forgot to mention that this story got accepted a while ago at Twilighted so I've been slightly distracted catching the story up there. I'm really going to try to get back on schedule with a chapter every week and a half like I did early on. This chapter is dedicated to my bb Jess (Jeda115 on LJ) my new beta :') ILU.
When you open up you let yourself seem vulnerable,
And the morning sun will make our bodies comfortable.
In taking off your clothes, everything hidden is suddenly exposed.
You'll keep it on the inside, cause that's the safest place to hide.
Chapter 13: Your Friends Are Gone
Like Bella promised, she woke up bright and early on Sunday morning to help Edward move out. She groggily threw on a loose pair of jeans and grabbed an old sweatshirt out of her closet, pulling her hair up into a messy ponytail. She took a quick glance in the mirror before deciding to add a little bit of eyeliner, figuring it couldn't hurt. She looked down at her phone as it buzzed on the bed, knowing without reading it that the text message from Edward said something along the lines of him being out front.
When she stepped out of her building, Bella couldn't help groaning at how bright it was outside. It should be against the law to be up and out of bed before 9 am on a Sunday. She shuffled her feet as she slowly made her way over to the old black BMW 325i parked out front. She waited for Edward to open the door for her, knowing that the handle didn't work from the outside. No matter how many times she told him he needed a new car he just ignored her. Apparently "Beems", as he so creatively nicknamed it, had character. If by character he meant cigarette burns and chipped paint then yes, it had plenty of character.
"Hi Edward," she mumbled tiredly, curling up into a ball and nuzzling her face into the soft leather seat.
"Still not a morning person I see?" he laughed, holding a Starbucks cup out towards her.
"Please tell me that's what I think it is," Bella said, enthusiastically reaching for the coffee with surprising speed and energy.
"Grande white mocha with whip cream. How could I forget?"
She hummed contently as she drank her coffee looking over at Edward, the smile on his face showing he was pleased by her reaction. As they pulled up to his house several minutes later it didn't escape her notice that Emmett's car wasn't out front.
"He's not here. He's taken to sleeping over at Roses' lately," Edward said, reading her mind as he parked the car.
Bella knew Emmett was obviously a touchy subject with Edward so she kept silent as she followed him inside. When they reached his room Bella's mouth opened in surprise, "Oh you already packed everything up." Edwards' room was basically cleaned out, completely bare with the exception of a few lone boxes.
Edward chuckled, brushing against her slightly as he walked into the room, "My dad helped me move out a couple of days ago. I figured you'd be better at the unpacking and settling in part."
"True. I guess I wasn't going to be a big help with the heavy lifting anyway."
"This is the last of everything, if you can just grab one of these boxes and bring it down to the car, we're all set," Edward said as he picked up one the larger of the two.
"Oh, what's in this one?" Bella asked as she curiously leaned down towards the box simply marked with a "B".
"Bella don't," started Edward, looking slightly panicked.
"Too late," she said brightly as she popped the box open. Edward's expression was pained and Bella knew why once she looked down at its contents.
"You…kept all this stuff?" Bella whispered as she sat down, slowly taking things out of the box. Concert ticket stubs, dinner receipts, the many mixed CD's she made him, every little love note she used to hide around his room.
Edward put down the box he was holding and lowered himself to the ground next to her picking up a small stack of papers, every single one of them a sketch Bella drew for him.
"Of course I kept it Bella. You're a big part of my life. I'm not just going to throw you-," Edward looked up at her, correcting himself, "Throw all this stuff away."
Bella smiled as she picked up a stack of photos flipping through them, "God we were ridiculous. We're trashed in half of these pictures. Oh, a Polaroid. Cool," said Bella, reaching at the bottom of the box for the upside down picture.
Edward tensed visibly as she picked it up, the image taking her breath away. She traced the couple in the picture with her finger, swallowing thickly, unsure of what to say, "I didn't…I didn't even know there was a picture of…" she mumbled, looking away from the Polaroid but avoiding Edward's gaze.
"Our first kiss?" He replied, gently taking it from her hand and using the corner of his sleeve to wipe the little smudge her finger left on the surface.
Bella snuck a glance at him as she heard him sigh. Edward bent over, holding his head in between his hands.
"I meant it, you know," he whispered, slowly gathering everything Bella took out of the box and carefully packing it back up. "I don't think I ever told you that. I wanted us more than anything. I guess I was just biding my time until you came around."
"That night made me realize I felt the same way," Bella said gently a wave of sadness washing over her, "I was so caught up in my obsession with Jacob that I didn't truly see you. I'm sorry for that."
"Don't worry about it," said Edward nonchalantly, "You figured it out a couple weeks later anyway."
They were both silent, lost in thought, thinking about the night months ago when they had their cinematic first kiss.
Bella had had enough. She stormed out of the house, screaming in frustration when she realized it was pouring outside. She ignored the rain beating down on her as stomped down the block towards Edward's house.
"God damn that Jacob Black!"
Once again, she drove down to visit Edward, calling up Jacob as soon as she was in Philly. How perfect could it be, her crush living basically next door to her best friend? Bella had the whole summer planned out, most of it revolving around spending more time with Jacob, oh, and Edward, of course. Now, two weeks into her vacation, she knew it was going nowhere. Jacob was a self absorbed asshole who maybe liked her as a friend but that was it. She couldn't believe she let him lead her on for so long. She took the steps going up the familiar stoop two at a time, slamming her body against the door with a loud thud.
"Edward!" she whined, pounding at it with her fists.
A startled Edward opened up the door, laughing and shaking his head. Bella could only imagine how ridiculous she looked, water running down her face, her body shaking with rage.
"Bella, what are you doing out in the rain? I thought you were staying over at Jacob's tonight?"
"I'm done with Jacob," she sputtered, the rain falling harder, leaving her standing there completely soaked. She stood there in the rain as Edward just stared at her, the surprise slowly leaving his face. He frowned and waited for her to say something else but she just shrugged.
"Oh Bella," sighed Edward as he walked out to stand on the stoop with her. He brought his hand up to her face, slowly pushing her wet hair out of her eyes. It all happened so fast Bella barely had any time to react. She felt Edward snake his other arm around her waist, pulling her body closer to his. He dipped his head down to meet hers, whispering in her ear, "It took you long enough," before lowering his face to hers and planting a sweet, chaste kiss on her lips. He held them there for about five seconds before slowly pulling away.
He smiled down at her as she blinked rapidly, trying to figure out what had just happened. Her legs instantly felt weak and she had trouble breathing. Bella felt Edward pull away slightly, instantly feeling a sense of loss, clinging tightly to him to prevent that uneasy feeling from washing over her. She'd never felt this way before, not even with Jacob. Her heart was pounding and she knew that a blush was slowly spreading across her face.
Bella wanted to say something eloquent, well thought out, and mature. She wanted to tell Edward how she was feeling and ask him if he was feeling the same things. Instead she blurted out the first thing that came to mind, "What was that for?"
Edward's smile flickered slightly as he carefully removed her hands from around his waist. "I don't know," he said with a little shrug, "It's just about time you stopped all this Jacob Black nonsense. You can do so much better."
"Not looking like this I can't," said Bella with a snort her heart beat accelerating at the way Edwards' eyes roamed hungrily across her body. Bella suddenly became self conscious at the obscene way her clothes must be sticking to her. She crossed her arms over her chest, shivering slightly.
"Oh, I beg to differ," he said thickly, "Let's go inside. I'll get some dry clothes for you."
Bella was slightly confused, still trying to sort out the strange feelings she was having towards Edward, of all people.
"What?" he said with an awkward laugh, "You look like I just killed your puppy. It was nothing, friends kiss each other all the time."
"Yeah, nothing," echoed Bella. They both turned towards the door, Bella letting out a small surprised, "Oh!" when they saw Alice watching them, one hand clutching an old Polaroid camera and the other resting on the space over her heart.
"Alice, how long have you been standing there?"
"Oh, not long at all," she said quickly, hiding the camera behind her back.
Edward eyed her warily, looking over at Bella one more time before turning and walking into the house. Bella wondered if she always felt this way about Edward or if she just needed a catalyst to put everything into the right perspective. With one little peck on the lips she saw Edward in a whole different light, and she knew she could never go back to thinking of him as just her best friend.
Bella was silent on the ride over to Edwards' new place. She stared out the window, trying to think about anything other than the box in the seat behind her. Even though she knew Edward wanted to move out, he still looked upset that he was leaving such a big part of his life behind him. It wasn't like he was moving far, his new house in University City was a little less than 20 minutes away, but he still wouldn't be able to see everyone as often as he used to.
Edward slowed the car down, parking in front of a large two story house. Bella climbed out wordlessly, putting her hand over her eyes to block the sun and get a better look at it. She helped grab one of the boxes from the back seat of his car and followed a couple feet behind Edward up to the front door. The house was basically set up the same way his old one was, but definitely in better condition.
"So, what do you think of the place?" asked Edward, as he put the box he was carrying down at the foot of the stairs.
"Oh, I love it, it's just so...," said Bella, looking around, finally realizing what was off about it, "It's just so clean."
Edward laughed, putting his arm around her and leading her down the hallway, "One of my roommates keeps everyone in line. She's kind of a neat freak."
Bella couldn't help laughing, "Oh god, I can't even imagine having to clean up after guys. How many people live here?"
"Five. Aro, Alec, Jane, Marcus, and I. Aro and Marcus are the only ones in the house now. They're up early to watch the Temple game. I'll introduce you to them."
Bella tensed, self consciously smoothing her hair. Edward, sensing Bella's apprehension to meeting the new guys, reassured her everything would be fine, "Don't worry, they'll love you. Just ignore Aro, I do. He has a... word filter problem and tends to say whatever he's thinking, no matter how inappropriate it may be."
Bella nodded and shyly followed Edward down the long hallway, the loud voices of his roommates reaching her ears. As she walked into the room, she saw two guys sitting on a leather couch watching TV.
"Hey guys," said Edward, giving Bella's hand a reassuring squeeze. "I want to introduce you to my friend Bella. Bella this is Aro and Marcus."
Bella felt herself blush as Aro looked her up and down, giving her a disapproving look before turning back to the TV without saying a word,
Marcus rose to greet her shaking her hand and smiling, "Hi Bella, it's nice to finally meet you. Edward's told us so much about you. Come sit down, the game's about to start."
"I'm going to bring the last of the boxes upstairs, I'll be right back," said Edward, ignoring the pleading glance Bella threw in his direction not to leave her alone.
Bella awkwardly sat down next to Marcus, staring blankly at the TV. Marcus asked her a couple questions about her major, where she was living and whether or not she was a basketball fan, before turning his attention back to the game. People in Philadelphia were very serious about their sports team loyalties, and as fellow Temple students, Bella figured that Aro and Marcus were Temple Owls fans.
Bella took the chance to look around the room, not surprised by the selves adorned with empty liquor bottles and the white board still showing the order of a beer pong game that must have taken place the night before. Her eyes stopped in the corner of the room by the TV, on a guitar case leaning up against the wall.
Bella walked over to the case, opening up the clasps to reveal a beautiful black, acoustic Fender guitar. She crouched down to get a better look, running her fingers lightly along the strings.
"Careful, your Eddie doesn't like when people touch his guitar without asking first," spoke Aro, his voice low and gravely.
"Edward doesn't play the guitar," scoffed Bella turning around to glare at Aro.
He raised an eyebrow at the confidence she had in her statement, "Maybe there are some things about Edward that you don't know, little one."
"Trust me, I may not have known him as long as you, but I'm pretty sure I'd know if he could play any instruments by now."
"You may know Edward fairly well, but I doubt you know about what he's been up to lately. Maybe Charlotte taught him a few new tricks he's kept you in the dark about," said Aro icily, the tension in the room palpable.
Bella clenched her fists, her blood quickly boiling. She didn't mean to get into an argument with Edward's new roommate but how dare he throw Charlotte in her face like that. Bella opened her mouth to snap back, Edward cutting her off as he walked into the room, "I don't play the guitar Aro, you know that. Just tell Bella it's yours."
An awkward silence took place as Aro and Edward glared at each other. Bella glanced over at Marcus who just rolled his eyes and looked back at the TV. Edward and Aro seemed to be silently communicating to each other, as Bella saw Edward shake his head slightly to the side out of the corner of her eye.
"You know, it's too bad, I've always been attracted to musicians," Bella joked, trying to break the tension.
"Oh, really?" asked Aro with an amused smirk as he eyed Bella again, before turning his gaze back to Edward.
Edward sighed, obviously sick of her and Aros' bickering already. "Come on, Bella, let me show you around. I think you've spent enough time with Aro."
Aro flicked his hand in the air in a mock wave, "I'm sure we'll see you around, little one."
"Sorry about that," Edward said apologetically as he gave her the tour of the rest of the house, "He gets some type of amusement pushing people's buttons. He'll lighten up once he gets to know you better. "
Bella rolled her eyes, for some reason she had a feeling that this wouldn't be the last time Aro picked a fight with her.
Bella spent the next two hours helping Edward unpack and get settled in. If being at the wedding with him wasn't enough, setting up his new room definitely made her feel as if she was his girlfriend again. It seemed oddly intimate going through and sorting out all of his belongings.
"We're having a party tonight, you should come over. You'll know me, Marcus, and Aro. My other roommate Peter is going to be here too. He's much more agreeable than Aro. I'm sure you'll like him. Oh and Charlotte."
Bella couldn't help automatically stiffening when she heard Edward say her name. She hoped he didn't notice, "Of course, that'd be great."
"Are you sure you're going to be okay on your own?" asked Alice as she pulled up to Edward's new house.
"Don't worry about me, I'll be fine." She wanted Alice to be her moral support for the evening, but would have felt guilty about Alice canceling plans with Jasper.
Bella nervously walked up to Edwards' house, immediately regretting sending Alice away when he failed to answer her phone call. Bella knocked loudly on the door, hoping that someone could hear it over the music blaring from within. Several moments passed and she was about to call Alice and tell her to head back to get her, when the door swung open.
"Um.. I'm here to see Edward, I'm-," she said awkwardly to the petite blond who answered the door.
"Oh, you must be Bella!" interrupted the girl brightly, reaching out to grab onto Bella's arm, her grip surprisingly firm, "We've been waiting for you to show up. I'm Jane by the way. I live here too, with my brother, his name is irrelevant. Let's go find your man."
Bella followed her in a daze, smiling at several people Jane introduced to her. Caius, Demetri, Felix, Heidi; all the names and faces blended together as Jane pulled her through the now crowded hallway, past the living room and into the kitchen.
"Look who I found!" she announced to the room full of people, sitting down at the table with a flourish in the empty seat next to Aro. Bella recognized some of the faces smiling widely, as she saw Edward, Charlotte perfect as ever at his side.
"Bella you're here," he said standing up and giving her a quick one armed hug, being careful not to spill his beer on her, "Sit down. We're just about to play Kings. Let me go get you a drink."
Bella walked over to Charlotte giving her a hug as well.
"Bella I'm so glad you could make it. Let me introduce you to my ahh..." she said with a pause, looking at the attractive guy sitting next to her, "friend Peter. Peter, this is Bella."
"Oh, you're the other roommate. Nice to meet you," said Bella shaking his hand.
"Likewise. It's about time I have a face to the name. Where's Edward been hiding you all this time?" Peter said with a wink.
"Isn't he just charming," Charlotte joked, pinching his nose and ruffling his hair. She pushed him to the side a bit, squeezing next to him on his chair.
Bella noted the casual way Peter had his arm draped around Charlotte's shoulder, wondering how Edward would take the innocent position they were both in.
"You can take my seat Bella. I don't mind sharing one with Peter."
Peter whispered something to Charlotte causing her to break out in a fit of giggles. Bella couldn't help staring in wonder at the two of them, laughing and completing each others' sentences. Obviously Peter was really close to Charlotte and Bella couldn't help wondering if they were ever more than just friends…
"Sprite and Limon, I didn't have lemonade. I hope that's okay," Edward said with a smile, paying no notice to Charlotte and Peter as he sat down next to Bella, placing her drink in front of her.
"It's perfect, thanks."
Edward beamed at her, picking up her hand and kissing the top of it, "Okay guys, let's get this game started."
They were only halfway through the game and already Edward was visibly tipsy, his face slightly flushed. Bella decided to take it easy, barely feeling a buzz as she slowly sipped at her mixed drink.
When it was her turn, Bella picked up a card, flipping over a Queen. Questions, hmmm...
"Edward, why do you call certain people by their last name?"
"Well Swan, I consider it a term of endearment..."
Bella's heart skipped a beat as everyone started laughing. She'd have to think about that answer later, "Drink Eddie you're not supposed to actually answer the question."
Edward raided his cup in mock salute to her, downing a generous amount of beer before looking over at Charlotte as she picked the next card.
"Jack, never have I ever."
Bella groaned, she always hated this part of the game. Everyone took turns making a statement, "Never have I ever..." and if you have done whatever the person said, you have to put one of your fingers down and drink. The first person to put down five fingers loses and has to chug what's left of their beer.
The game started off innocently, Charlotte saying she'd never been out of the country and Peter saying he'd never stolen anything from a store. Jane upped the ante with never have I ever been arrested. Somehow, Bella wasn't surprised to see Aro drinking to that one.
"Why is everyone being so boring? I have a good one, never have I ever …slept with someone in this room."
The boys roared with laughter pointing at Edward and chanting for him to drink.
Bella blushed bright red looking down. She glanced up from her drink just in time to see Charlotte taking a sip from hers. Bella's stomach lurched violently and she remembered her conversation with Jasper about Edward sleeping with Charlotte.
"Come on Bells, we know you have to drink." Bellas' face felt hot as she took a little sip, Peter reaching over and slapping her playfully on the back.
The next questions were equally bad, Marcus' being, "Never have I ever had a threesome."
Bella rolled her eyes and shook her head as everyone cheered Aro on as he drank down half his beer.
As the turn circled around the table back to Aro, Bella knew that the sparkle in his eye meant he was up to something. There was no way she could have possibly expected what came out of his mouth next, "Never have I ever been in love."
Bella couldn't help automatically looking up at Edward, their eyes locking together. Bellas' heart beat painfully in her chest as she tried to keep her lip from trembling. He shook his head to the side, running his hand through his hair before picking up his drink.
"Well, I'm out, cheers Bella," said Edward, the whole room becoming silent as he lifted his drink in the air, tapping it lightly to hers and chugging down the rest.
Bella couldn't breathe as her chest tightened, her hand involuntarily loosening its grip on her cup, causing it to slip through her fingers, spilling its contents all over the table.
"Jesus Bella!" screamed Aro, pushing the cards away from the liquid.
"Oh my god, I'm so sorry," she said picking up the cup and looking around for something to wipe up the mess. She felt an arm brush against her and stiffened when she saw Edward leaning over mopping everything up with a paper towel.
"Edward, I got it," she said tensely, reaching for the roll.
"Bella, stop." Edward grabbed her arm, halting her movement. For a moment, they just stared at each other, Bellas' breathing quickening when she looked down at his fingers wrapped around her wrist.
"Excuse me, I need air," said Bella, trying to pull away from him only causing Edward to tighten his grip on her arm.
Several minutes of awkward silence passed, the only sound being the music coming from somewhere in the house.
"Well, it's getting late; I think I'm going to go. Peter said he'd drive me home," said Charlotte, breaking the silence. Everyone started talking at once, people glancing curiously over at Edward and Bella, getting the hint and leaving as well. Charlotte gave Edward an awkward kiss on the cheek before facing Bella.
"I'll see you soon," Charlotte said as she hugged her, whispering softly in her ear, "I'm sorry about all of this. Edward will come around eventually."
She pulled away before Bella could ask her what she meant, glancing over at Edward one last time before walking out. Bella stared after her, looking down when she felt a hand gently squeeze her arm. Her eyes narrowed when she saw it was Aro but quickly softened. He genuinely looked sorry for causing such a commotion, smiling apologetically at her before following everyone else out, leaving her and Edward alone.
"Still need that fresh air?" Edward asked gently.
Bella shook her head, running her shaking hand through her hair, "Do you have a cab number I can call…I want to go home," she whispered looking down at her hands. She felt the tears well up in her eyes and couldn't look at him.
"Bella," he sighed and walked over to her lifting up his hand as if he meant to touch her before dropping it back down. "You can stay the night if you want to."
"I don't think that's such a good idea."
"What about Charlotte?"
"You heard her, Peter's taking her home. Just stay, it's past 2 am already and who knows how long it'll take for a cab to come pick you up."
Bella thought about it, he did make a good point. She snuck a glance up at Edward, who looked almost anxious waiting to hear for her answer. Bella knew that it was a bad idea to spend the night but she couldn't help the strong urge to accept his offer. Regardless if she actually shared a bed with Edward, it was still crossing the line she drew for their new friendship.
"Well, I guess you're right. I'm going to need something to wear though; I don't really feel like sleeping in jeans."
Edward smiled, casually wrapping his arm around her, "I'm sure I can find something for you."
Bella rested her head against Edwards shoulder as she leaned up against him, letting him guide her up to his room. Bella heard voices coming from outside but was surprised to see that everyone had completely cleared out. When they reached his room Bella waited awkwardly as Edward looked through his clothes before finally handing her one of his undershirts and a pair of basketball shorts.
"I promise not to peek," he said as he turned around, his back to her.
Bella quickly pulled off her shirt pulling Edwards' over her head. She kicked off her shoes and peeled off her jeans, throwing them to the side. She couldn't help smiling as she saw Edwards' head move to the side slightly as he looked at them on his floor.
Edward turned around, his eyes lingering on her a little too long to be "friends" appropriate, before walking over to his bed. He lifted up the covers nudging her side.
"Are you sure Charlotte won't mind?" said Bella with a small yawn, covering her mouth with the back of her hand.
"Trust me," Edward said, kissing her softly on the forehead, "she couldn't care less."
"I highly doubt that. If I had you again, I'd never let another girl sleep in your bed," said Bella as she climbed in, mentally face palming at her word vomit.
"Hmm," he hummed, turning the light off, "I'll keep that in mind."
She heard his door close and for a second Bella thought he left, until she felt his bed sink down underneath his weight. Her heart pounded loudly in her chest as she felt him crawl over to her. She tensed slightly before relaxing again when she felt him carefully put his hand on her waist. He held it there cautiously, waiting for her to stop him before inching closer, his body completely cupping hers. Instead of thinking and over analyzing everything, for once Bella just wanted to enjoy the moment. She rolled over snuggling up to Edward and resting her head on his chest. He shifted slightly to move his arm, wrapping it around her and resting his hand on her lower back. Bella had just started to doze off when she heard Edward say softly in her ear, "Buonanotte mio amore."
Author's Note: Thanks for those of you we are sticking with me and my sorry attempt at fanfic. So whatcha thinking...how bout that Peter? ;) Reviews help validate all the time i spend writing this thing & also may lead to teasers for what's coming next... hehe.