THESE OUTTAKES WILL NOT BE IN ORDER OF SEQUENCE. It's whatever comes to me at the time.


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Outtake 8: The Firsts
A lot of people have asked me if I planned to do a pre-quel to 'TEF' after the sequel is posted... kind of going back in time and showing E/B's relationship before the break up. While that isn't a plan at the moment (though I'll never say 'NO'), I did want to share some of Edward and Bella's first intimate moments, including when they first met, first kiss, etc. This will probably be a long outtake, so enjoy, and review. (Song/Pics featured in profile as always. :D)
Note:
TEF has been nominated for 2 more categories, this time with The Mystic Awards!! Details in profile.


Special Shout-Out's:

To my Readers, Twilighter's, Lexicon, and Facebook girls.... thank you for ev-er-y-thing!!! ILYSDM!
To Jazz Girl (Caryn), my Beta -- you're so amazing. You really are. This was one of the hardest things I'd written, because I know how many readers I have, and know how many people have imagined different scenarios to how these events would go. I felt like I was drowning, but you kept my head above water and didn't let me sink to the bottom, even when I wanted to. I thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to these characters. Without you, I may have never made it through this one. Ohhhh, and of course: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BB!!! I HEART YOU SOMETHING AWFUL!!
Disclaimer: I own nothing that is Twilight or Stephenie Meyer related. But ohhh, how I wish.


"Find me here... and speak to me.
I want to feel you. I need to hear you.
You are the light... that's leading me,
to the place... where I find peace... again.
You are the strength that keeps me walking...
You are the hope that keeps me trusting...
You are the light... into my soul.
You are my purpose... You're everything.
And how can I stand here with you... and not be moved by you?
Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?"

Lifehouse, "Everything"

----

Outtake 8: The Firsts

*** The First Meet:

BellaPOV

I yawned, scratching my head and dragging my feet slowly across the sidewalk, toward my dad's police cruiser.

Ahhh, a new, murky, cloudy day. Yay. I hated waking up this early. I hated today and it just began an hour and a half ago. I wasn't looking forward to the new year, as a freshman in Forks High School. What was the point in getting excited? It wasn't a 'fresh beginning', like my mother tried to say to me while we purchased notebooks and supplies earlier last week. Not only did I have to face all of the stupid, idiotic kids I had nothing in common with. But now, I get to be surrounded by a lot of older kids who will stare at me down in the halls, remind me how shy I am, that I am a book nerd who finishes her assignments before everyone else, so on, so forth, yada yada yada.

My step-sister Rosalie practically owns the school. It's like her little playground. She lives with my step-father, Phil, and my mother, Renee, and I bounce around from their house to my dad Charlie's, spending two weeks with each. She's two years older than me, a junior this year, and everyone knows her too well. We have nothing in common aside from the fact that we're friends before sisters, and normally get along great. But we don't hang out with the same group of people at school, obviously. She's the cheerleader, the lifeguard, and the volleyball star, while I... am no one special at all. My idea of a good night is catching up on the latest 'Friends' episode, reading a good book, and finding a new dinner recipe. Rose's is sneaking out of her bedroom window and finding the latest keg party where she can get way too drunk. And don't even get me started on the differences in our weekend plans.

"Oh, lighten up Bells," Charlie said as he started the car. "It could be a whole new ball-game this year for you."

I rolled my eyes and pressed my forehead against the cool glass of the window, my right hand lifting so the side covered my mouth. "I highly doubt it dad. Not unless my DNA changes and I morph into someone that looks and acts like Grace Kelly or Marilyn Monroe."

"You never know. Maybe something or someone will come around and blow your mind."

I scoffed dryly. "Don't wish violence on the school system, Dad. We've got enough of it in this country already."

He chuckled at my sarcasm, flipping on his wind shield wipers and turning onto the stretch of the paved road. "Okay, smartie pants."

My dad's been one of my best friends since I was a little girl. To say that I'm a 'daddy's girl' would be an understatement. He just gets me. My mother and he divorced when I was only three, and I've grown used to ping-ponging between my two families. They only live about fifteen minutes from each other. Dad's a police chief, and loves his job like his second child. I don't mind it now that I'm older. We talk when we want, but we also give each other space. We don't breathe down each others' neck. He doesn't get into my business, doesn't grill me about boys or future plans. And he loves to play guitar in his spare time after he opens a few beers, which I can appreciate. Nothing makes me smile more than a good melody.

I yawned as we passed the intersection, only a mile from the school.

"Restless?" he asked me after another yawn.

I nodded, adjusting my white hoodie and sitting up straighter. "Yeah... Couldn't sleep well last night. I felt anxious."

"Interesting," my father mumbled, nodding slowly as he rubbed his thumb across his mustache. "Maybe it's a sign that this year will be different."

I chuckled silently and shook my head. "You can keep your glass half-full all you want. But just remember, you don't have to walk through these halls with the starving ego-vultures like I do."

"Keep your chin up. That'll impress them."

"I'll get right on it," I sighed, reaching down to the floor board to grab my book bag as he turned into the parking lot. "That way, they can call me 'snobby' and 'prissy', instead of 'bookworm' and a 'mute'. At least I'll have a new title... that's something to look forward to, I guess."

"Ahh, dreams are what you make 'em," he nudged me, pulling to a stop at the front of the school. "See you tonight."

"See ya," I hopped out of the car and shut the door, praying he drove away quickly before all the older kids at the school immediately recognized me as the police chief's daughter. It's hard to make friends in high school when all of the popular kids see me getting out of my dad's cruiser, and instantly think I'm a snitch that's secretly wearing a wire to trap them in planning their latest beer pong party.

Yes. It's happened before. All it takes is one kid to assume that and, by second period, everyone thinks that. Which was why I hated middle school so much, I think. Kids are vicious little wasps. And that makes teenagers worse. I wasn't looking forward to today at all. The mark of a new school year was not the highlight of my week to say the least. And I never, ever understood why we always started school on a Wednesday. But that's a whole other debate.

Rain began to fall as I made my way across the sidewalk, toward the front doors. Reaching for the handle, I got bumped out of the way, as two senior girls, smacking their gum loudly, invaded my personal space to make sure they got into the school first. I rolled my eyes and waited for them to move away from me, before I finally entered. I'd been in the high school a few times, whenever Rosalie had a game or something, so I knew my way around some areas. But the only time I'd seen the freshmen hall was during orientation, and I wasn't sure if I remembered how to get there from this entrance.

I pulled my hood over my head and kept my eyes glued to my class schedule as I followed the loud noise of fellow students laughing, showing off their new outfits, and talking about what they'd done throughout the summer. My summer consisted of hanging out with my childhood friends, Denise Allenston and Jacob Black, and occasionally Rosalie, when she didn't have 'better things' to do. No one cared to hear about it though, and unless Denise found me in these crowded halls, I wouldn't have anyone to talk to anyway.

Once I passed what seemed like the eleventh hallway, I quickly realized I looked like a science rat trying to find the cheese in a metal maze. I was completely lost. I sighed and dropped my hands, standing on my toes to see above the crowd, trying to find someone in my grade. It took a few moments for me to spot Victoria Dean and her parade of plastics, but their high-pitched laughter helped me find them. I exhaled and sped up my steps, weaving through students to follow quietly behind them. All I prayed was that they were on their way toward the freshman hall, and not the bathroom to spray their hair again.

Willingly enough, the heavens above granted me that wish, and before I knew it, I was standing in front of a blue locker, number one-eighteen. This would be the hoarding center for my belongings for the next nine months. I quickly pulled my schedule back out from my pocket to confirm my combination and turned the padlock, entering the code. It only took me one try to get the thing to open, and I smiled to myself, enjoying all the preppy kids struggling with their combinations. There was no way I was going to offer my assistance to them. I'd rather have them be late their first day, and hopefully get called out for it. It might brighten my day to see that.

Quickly putting away the things I didn't need, and grabbing my English book, I twisted and ran into a brick wall, tumbling to the ground. My belongings and his spilled everywhere. "Well," I said, exasperated as I crawled around and reached out for my notebook, which got stepped on by a passing student. "I know I'm at school when I get knocked over."

"I'm sorry," Mike Newton chuckled as he handed me the rest of my things. "I was trying to come over and say hello to you, and you turned too fast. We... uh... have first hour together. Do you want to walk with me?"

"Sure," I exhaled, helping him stand and grabbing his bag. Mike Newton is 'that guy' at Forks High School. You know, the one you used to play with in elementary school on the jungle gym before you knew what cooties were? Then, as you grew up, he decided that, once he was old enough to like girls, he was going to target you in school because you were the first person with breasts he ever spoke to besides his mother and teachers... He's cool, sometimes. But other times, he irritated the crap out of me. I tolerated Mike not only because he pick up my slack when we get partnered up in gym class, but he also lets me borrow his pre-calculus notes, which I am utterly thankful for. I love English and generally hate Math, which is where he comes in handy.

First hour was easy. We didn't do much besides discuss what we did over the summer, get re-acquainted with everyone, and write two paragraphs about what happened during the last three months that we wished we could do again. I chose my latest fishing trip with my dad, his friend Billy, and Billy's son Jake. My sister Rosalie went with us, and she spent most of the time whining about baiting her hook. I laughed so hard when Jake would make fun of her. I definitely wished I could have another fun day like that, instead of being here.

Second hour was boring. I ended up stuck in a class with most of the preppy kids, who thought it'd be fantastic if they made fun of everyone, laughed out loud, acted obnoxious, and completely ignored Mrs. Fruits, who was trying her hardest to give a lecture on the importance of government and why we would need to pay attention and take copious notes this year.

As I dragged my way through the senior hallway, I stopped short, the breath pulled from my body. There in the distance stood a boy I hadn't seen before. Blue, long-sleeved shirt, navy beanie on his head, dark jeans, books behind his wrist to his side, a plastic coffee cup in his other hand... I wasn't sure if he was a senior or someone new. Chills, indescribable tingling, flooded my entire body. I watched him looking at the sign on the door. Before I could make myself look away, he turned quickly in my direction.

Hiding behind a shield of my hair and my hoodie, I pulled myself away from his power, and ran into yet another classmate, Belinda Hamilton. She growled and shoved past me, cursing up a storm as she went. I immediately felt every student's eyes on me, once again finding the clumsiest way to become the center of attention. Through my screen of hair, I saw an amused crooked smile cross the beautiful boy's lips as he watched her walk away, then turned back to look at me. My face heated red and I walked in the opposite direction of my class, desperate to escape his gaze, no matter how late I was going to be in the process.

There was something strange about him, about the effect he had on me. I didn't necessarily like it, but at the same time, I really did.

I didn't want these new feelings he was bringing forth in me. He was making everything complicated, and I'd only seen him this one time. It panicked me to think I'd be sharing the next four years of the school with someone like him.

I hoped he was a transfer, or a substitute teacher. Someone, anyone, other than someone I'd see a lot around here.

Because, otherwise, my hopes for surviving high school were in serious jeopardy

*&*#!#$^%$^

Between the next hour and lunch, I found myself looking for the tall boy in the blue beanie in every hall I walked down. It wasn't until lunch time that I saw him again. And he definitely was not a teacher.

He had all ready found a few friends; another girl I'd never seen before with short hair and pixie-like features, and an all-too familiar sophomore jock, Emmett McCarty. They were standing in the line opposite me, waiting for food. He had a grin across his lips that seriously made my heart sputter and my insides twist. He was just glancing from her to him. I noticed other people looking at him, mostly girls. It was very clear that, whoever he was, he was making a statement at Forks High, and quick. Fresh meat. The sexiest, freshest meat I'd ever seen in my entire life.

I blushed at that thought and peeled my eyes from him, hiding behind my hood again. We weren't allowed to wear hats or any type of hood at school, but I didn't care. It was as if he had some sort of magnetic pull on my eyes, if not my whole being. I felt it, the tingles, the electric wave. I was drawn to him, in a fast, sick, obsessed kind of way. And I feared the feeling would not be fleeting.

I couldn't eat anything, so I purchased only an apple juice and walked quietly to the back of the lunch room, where I could lean against a wall in the corner and, hopefully, not be bothered. I watched as mystery boy carried a lunch tray with a pile of food in one hand, and an apple he was tossing with the other. He sat at a round table with his two friends. Shortly after, Emmett McCarty called over a few of his own friends, and then the table was pretty much full, the sheep of my school trying to figure out who the new boy and new girl were. I rolled my eyes and sighed. Life never seemed to get any less predictable, that was for damn certain. First graders and the new toys.

I took my time once the bell rang, not wanting to be the first to my next class for once. I walked the narrowed halls, took my time in the bathroom, and fiddled with my shirt beneath my hoodie. But, the more I messed with it, the more it continued to rise up and scratch my stomach. I wanted to take the hoodie off, but if I were being honest with myself, I was too insecure. I didn't understand why my body was filling out the way it did, and why girls like Rosalie enjoyed all these changes happening to them.

After waiting for the last second possible without getting tardy, I grabbed my books and dragged myself back through the halls, and entered Biology. All the double-seated tables were full, except for one in the far back corner on the right side. And, low and behold, it was the guy that was obviously placed on Earth to destroy my self control. I shivered and shook my head. There was no way I could sit by him, be that close to him. It just wasn't a viable option. He was far too good to be sitting next to the likes of me.

I noticed Mike and quickly walked over to him, exhaling slowly. "Hey Mike. If you will trade me seats and sit back in the right corner with that guy, I will give you ten dollars."

He chuckled and shook his head, patting the top of my hand. "Sorry, Bella, but the seats are assigned." He pointed to a piece of white tape on the end of the table. It had his name written there.

"Shit," I mumbled, as I slowly walked down the aisle toward the back desk. The boy was twirling his thumbs, his head down, beanie on his head, water bottle and black notebook in front of him. He was deep in thought. I closed my eyes as I approached the end of the table, my entire body shaking. When I opened them, I saw my name scribbled on a piece of white tape. It was true. God was indeed trying to punish me, trying to make sure I wouldn't survive high school.

The boy looked up at me, and I tried to peer past his forearms to see his name. But his shirt was blocking the font. With the least grace possible, I slipped onto (and almost tipped over) the stool, dropping my bag into the aisle. Unfortunately, the strap of my bag took the book I had set on the table along with it. I closed my eyes, trying to control my nerves, as I bent over and picked up my belongings. I felt the boy stirring beside me and tried the best I could to block him out while all the rest of the students talked amongst themselves.

Mr. Banter began class, quickly giving us a projector-shown written outline of what we would be learning. He instructed us to take notes, so I dug through my bag, looking for a notepad and my package of pens. Then I heard a throat clear. I tried to pretend the electric current bouncing between us didn't exist. I opened my notebook and tried to catch up on the two paragraphs worth of notes I had already missed. Then his throat cleared again. I raised my eyebrow and tentatively turned to find the boy with long eyelashes and a strong jaw that made me quiver grinning at me. "May I borrow a pen please?" he asked, his voice velvet and smooth.

I shivered, my teeth instinctively covering my bottom lip as I stared at his mouth when he spoke. His teeth were perfect. His entire face was perfect. I had never seen anything so beautiful this close to me in my entire life. I didn't think anything this beautiful existed. Period.

"Uh, yeah," I whispered, pulling my gaze away and jerking a pen out of the plastic wrapping. "Strange. First day, and you don't have a pen."

He smirked, popping the blue cap off as he pulled out his notebook. "Yeah, lost them sometime during the first half of the day."

"Ahh." I smiled and forced myself to turn away. I found it scarily easy to talk to him. Okay, maybe not talking. That part still made me shake like a washer during the spin cycle. But... at least stare at him, generally be in his presence. I felt my shoulders relax, but my knees were still bouncing a thousand beats per second. I couldn't control my body's reactions to him at all. Once I got one thing calmed down, another thing started up.

He leaned closer and his scent could only could be described as a sweetly mesmerizing and mint, stifling my nose. He whispered, "I'm Edward Cullen, by the way." I nodded, swallowing hard. I tried to ignore his breath hitting my neck where my hoodie wasn't covering it. It wasn't safe for me. I'd attack him if I weren't careful. So I pulled the hood over my head, making sure all my skin was covered. "Do you have a name?"

"Isa- B-Bella, uhm," I cleared my throat. "Bella Swan."

"Nice to meet you." He nodded at me and I nodded, still unable to look at him. He chuckled at my nonresponse. Suddenly, the projector light was turned toward us, blinding us and bringing everyone's attention our way. "Excuse me. There is no talking right now. I'm in the middle of notes."

"Sorry," Edward chuckled, while my face flushed tomato red.

"And there are no hats during school hours. Both of you, remove them, now."

I sighed, dropping my hood at once, keeping my eyes forward to keep from rolling them into my head. I was mortified that, once again, I got into trouble on the first day of a school new year. I told Charlie this wasn't going to be a fresh start.

I watched as his soft hand reached forward, depositing the blue beanie onto the black casing of the desk. Mr Banter flipped the projector back around, refocusing the class's attention as he jabbered on. But I couldn't focus on anything but the tension in my body. I watched as his fingers strummed the table, the pen laying flat on his notepad. He wasn't even taking notes. Why would he ask to borrow my pen?... I looked over to ask him and all the breath in my body vanished. I was light headed. I felt faint. My entire body erupted in goosebumps. I trembled. Because now, without a doubt in my mind, this boy was truly a God. He had the most amazing head of hair I had ever seen on a human being. It was crazy perfect. The way it curled in some places, was spiked in others, the length that had the ends toward his neck teasing at his skin. It looked so soft and silky smooth that I wanted to immediately plunge my fingers into it. And that color... it could only be described as bronzed, or copper.

Sex hair. Straight out of the box.

Or hat, I guess you could say.

"Wow," I mumbled under my breath, but not so low that it didn't catch his attention, unfortunately. He looked over at me, his green eyes dazzling, his eyebrow cocked, and a little grin spread across his beautiful face. I knew I should, but I couldn't rip my eyes from him. He was too perfect. This was surreal. I needed to shut my mouth.

"Are you all right?" he asked cutely, his tongue swiping across that plump, peach colored lip, leaving a glistening trail that made me react. I felt my stomach twist in an unfamiliar way, sending waves through my body to places that hadn't ever felt waves before. I felt my chest react in certain ways that only happened when it rained or was cold. This was crazy. I didn't know how to feel... all I felt were... tingles. Enjoyable, scary, unfamiliar ones that caused my entire body to start shaking. I felt hot, and clammy, and strange, and knew that something weird was going on with me.

"I think I'm going to pass out or something," I replied, my voice lower and hoarser. He leaned toward me quickly, his hand reaching out to my forehead. As soon as he touched me, that current that was bouncing between us went through my skin and I gasped at the sensations that washed over me. He felt it too. I noticed from the widening in his eyes, which held mine as he spoke. "Uhhh... Mr. Banter? Bella here is feeling faint. I think she needs to go to the nurse. Her skin is turning clammy."

I flushed red but couldn't move my eyes from his features, though I heard the class murmuring and felt their eyes on me.

"She'll need someone to assist her then... Uh... Edward, is it?"

"Yes."

"You take her, please. Immediately."

He nodded, instantly grabbing the few things he brought to class, as well as my things, before I could object. A strong arm wrapped around my waist as he helped me from my seat and then steadied me, walking us out of the classroom. The more firm his free hand was that held my hip, the more I realized he was touching me, and the hotter I felt. By the time we made it out into the empty hallway, my body was trembling so bad that I knew I wasn't going to make it another step. "Uhhh, we've got to... s-stop."

He skidded, his shoes screeching on the floor, and turned around to balance me more, his hands on my arms. "You okay?"

"I don't know what's going on with me..."

"I noticed you didn't eat anything at lunch earlier... Maybe you're hypoglycemic, like me."

I cocked my head up at him, puzzled. "You... noticed me at lunch?"

He nodded, stepping closer, his eyebrows furrowed in concern. "You were behind me, in the far left corner, against the wall... I watched you walk in. You weren't with anyone... You didn't have a tray..."

"I didn't..." I shook my head, closing my eyes. I couldn't speak.

"It's okay... Here..." He moved us toward the sophomore lockers, and motioned for me to sit, which I did, sliding down them toward the ground. "Uf," I grunted as my butt hit harder than I would have liked. It felt as if I couldn't control anything anymore. "Sit... I have some crackers in my locker... Stay here, I'll be right back." I nodded, blowing cool air on my embarrassed face. He ran off and came back before I could even muster a thought about what was going on. He knelt in front of me with saltine crackers in his hand, opening the package and holding one out to me. "Don't worry, my hands are clean."

"I'm not worried," I replied, closing my eyes. I chewed a few in silence, absorbing all the salt I could get. The more and more I chewed, the more nervous I felt. As the world slowed and my body calmed momentarily, I realized I had embarrassed the hell out of myself in front of this poor guy who was now innocently forced to be my lab partner. He probably felt pity for me, thought I was 'special', in the mental stability kind of way. "I'm sorry," I closed my eyes, inhaling slowly. "This isn't normal for me... I... This isn't normal."

He nodded, his fingers reaching toward my face, then folding into his palm as he pulled them back. I noticed a hair fall down against my skin, and shivered at the thought that maybe he was going to stop it for me... He waited in silence, sitting there handing me crackers to chew for a long time. I was so nervous, I ate the entire package of saltines. He smirked, handing me the water bottle that was on his desk earlier. "Just opened it... I don't know..."

"Thank you," I beamed, taking it from him and swallowing down a few gulps. It cured my dry mouth instantly. Once I was capable of forming coherent thoughts, I flushed red and handed the bottle back to him "I can... buy you another one..."

"Nah, it's okay," he smiled, taking it from me. "So... this was interesting, huh? First day of school, about to pass out."

"Yeah... It doesn't take much for me to attract attention, unfortunately."

His emerald eyes gleamed with mystery you wanted to unlock. "Yeah, I noticed that..."

I flushed and bit my lip, looking down toward my shoes where he was squatting. "Thank you for helping me."

"Thanks for pulling me out of Biology."

I giggled and nodded. "My pleasure."

He reached out his hand to me, pulling me to a standing position. Then he dusted off the crackers from my hoodie. "Cubs, huh?" I stared at him, watching as he pointed the bottle toward my shirt. "Cubs fan?"

"I guess... My dad got it for me two Christmases back... He's not the type of parent that buys girls actual girl clothes."

He chuckled, the sound of his laughter melting me into oblivion. "We'll have to talk to your dad about his sport selections."

"Not a Cubs fan, I take it?"

"Not since I was old enough to realize they sucked."

I giggled, and covered my mouth shyly to contain myself.

"Well, Bella," he exhaled, shrugging his shoulders, "is this going to be a normal thing for you? The possible passing out? You should warn me beforehand, since I'm going to be your lab partner. I may want to stick a few smelling salts into my pocket before I come to class."

I flushed worse, my palms covering the redness of my cheeks. "I promise I'll try not to make it a habit."

He grinned. "Not that I... minded taking care of you," he mumbled, before returning his voice to normal. "Good experience for me. Training."

"Training for what?"

"I'm going to med school."

I smiled at him. "Glad I could be your test dummy."

The bell rang and we took a step back, separating ourselves.

"Well, Bella," he grinned, handing me the belongings I hadn't realized he was guarding, "I look forward to spending Biology class with you... and occasionally rescuing you from taking notes."

I took my things from him and smiled. "I promise to keep you in class next time."

"No, don't," he insisted with another smirk, the kind that made my heart beat faster. "That... takes the fun away."

He winked before walking away, and all I could do was stand there, paralyzed, watching him go, while people passed by and bumped into me on occasion. I smiled to myself, the tingle returning, the feeling that somehow, something, somewhere had a purpose that involved me.

Edward Cullen had come in to this school and, in just one day, turned my entire life from gray to color.

This could definitely get interesting.


*** The First Lunch:

As weeks passed, I learned how to relax around Edward, but I also welcomed the nervous, anxious, butterfly feeling I had whenever we were together. I wasn't aware that I had already developed a crush on him. I never had a crush on anyone before him, so I didn't understand the feelings he was creating in me.

He was always sweet to me in class. I learned that he was very articulate, using words that he sometimes had to 'dumb down' for me... and I am not stupid. I had a vocabulary that stood above my classmates. So for him to have to do that said something about how intelligent he was. Whenever we worked together on projects, we'd find ourselves laughing so hard that we got into trouble too many times to count.

We didn't hang out anywhere but Bio. But, as time passed, we grew more comfortable with each other. Eventually, he began to acknowledge me in the halls, and I quickly learned that, not only did people learn to adore him as much as I did, but the girls were also very quick to judge me. Rumors flew quickly about us; that I was his pity case, that he was only talking to me because we were lab partners and he wanted a good grade, all the usual crap. I heard all kinds of rumors about him, things people heard from his old school or thought they knew someone who knew someone who saw something that happened. But he just laughed it off, like it didn't phase him at all. It pissed me off royally, though, when people gossiped about him, because they didn't know him. I was already feeling protective of him.

Time moved and days passed. And then, one day, there he was, standing against my locker in a black t-shirt and jeans, hand in his pocket, legs crossed. He smiled as people passed and said his hellos but kept his eyes on me. I remember not being able to breathe as I walked toward him. He had never been at my locker before. This was all new. "Hey," I said sheepishly, clutching my books against my chest, "what's up?"

"Come have lunch with me," he grinned.

"Is that a request, or a demand?"

He titled his head to the left, his eyes mesmerizing me. "Does it matter?"

I bit my lip, knowing I should tell him off and be strong, independent woman and stuff, but my legs were too busy shaking. "Guess not." He pushed off my locker, pulled the books out of my hand, and opened my door for me, shoving them inside. "How did you know my locker combination?"

"I didn't need it," he said with a wink. "I'm not from Forks, remember?"

"Oh, so you're the all around bad ass?" I teased as we headed down the hall, toward the cafeteria.

"Being a bad-ass has it's advantages Bella," he said calmly. "Just imagine if you're ever in trouble one day. I could be there, and could kick ass."

I couldn't help but laugh out loud. "You just turned sixteen! Have a car but not allowed to drive it by yourself until you get your license. What are you going to do? Run them over with your scooter and have your mother call their mother?"

He glared at me, then smiled, letting it go. "I have my driver's permit. I can steal my car."

"Then you'd go to juvie."

"Well, if beating someone's ass that tried to hurt you was what sent me to juvie, then I'd rest my head easily at night."

My stomach began to do knots at all the things we weren't saying. He must look at me like I'm his little sister, I thought to myself. There's no way he likes me like I like him... Man, I really, really like him.

Edward stood with me in the lunch line, piling way too much stuff on his plate. I looked at him with lifted eyebrows, despite feeling nervous because I knew everyone was watching us stand here together. "Hungry?"

"For both of us," he said simply, paying before I could argue. He nodded to Emmett and Alice, who he normally sat with, and then took us to an empty table. My heart began to beat out of my chest, and I almost fell out of the seat. I don't know why I was so nervous... maybe because we weren't in our normal spot in the classroom, and I felt more exposed, felt more like I shouldn't be seen with him, that I wasn't good enough.

He flopped a piece of pizza on a plastic plate and handed it to me. "Eat up."

"Why are you so pushy?"

He grinned at me. "Because you need to gain some fucking weight. You're a twig."

Great. Now he definitely sees me like his little sister. I crossed my arms over my chest, feeling insecure, "Well... I'm sorry."

"What are you apologizing for?"

"For... not being the correct body type."

"Well, it's kind of hard to tell."

"Excuse me?"

He looked over to me, nodding toward my shirt. "You always wear over-sized clothing and hoodies. It's hard to tell what body type you actually are, so I go by your wrist and..." He paused to wrap his long fingers around my wrist, showing how easy it was, and how far they overlapped, "...your wrist is tiny."

I shivered at the contact. We had never touched before like this. "Oh. Well... I don't want people ogling what I have. I'm not at all happy about it, so why should other's be?"

He smirked, let go of my wrist, and muttered toward his plate.

"What are you murmuring about?"

He shook his head, smiling to himself.

I let it go. "You're one to talk, Mister preppy. You conform."

"I wear what's comfortable. I don't care about conforming."

"Yeah, well you still fit in with everyone." Not with your beautiful face and sex hair, but with your clothes.

He looked down at his clothes, then over to me. "You don't like what I'm wearing? Would you prefer it if I were to just strip and go naked?"

Cue extreme hot blush. I felt my entire face go red, the heat rise up on the back of my neck, my legs quivering. I tried and tried to look away, to conceal myself, but there was no help. He chuckled and turned his gaze away from me. Thank God. "You'd be thrown out for public indecency," I finally responded.

He laughed, that velvety sound melting me, and turned back toward me. "If it pleased you, I'd probably do it."

Now my face was even hotter. I flushed and looked down to the bottle cap I was holding with my fingers, "So... our project is coming along nicely. We should be done today."

"Why do we have to talk about our project?"

"Because I'm your lab partner?"

"You're also my friend, Bella. I enjoy your company."

"Oh."

"Tell me what you're doing this weekend."

"Hanging out with my dad. Maybe going fishing on Saturday if it doesn't rain. Laundry on Sunday, as always. What about you?"

"Baseball practice tonight. Saturday, I have to go to this hospital fund-raiser clinic thing with my father, and Sunday... I'm not sure yet. Sleeping in."

"Sounds like fun."

"Yeah. Do you like to fish? I didn't know girls like to do that."

"I do, yeah. Love spending time with Charlie."

"I've never fished before."

"Ever?" I asked, looking over at him in shock.

"No... Maybe you can teach me one day. It can't be too difficult to learn, right?"

"Depends on if you learn fast or not."

He grinned at me, locking our eyes. "I do well for myself."

"Then, yeah, m-maybe," I nodded, flustered.

We ate in a casual conversation -- well, as casual as it could be, considering most eyes were burning into the back of my skull. Biology went by way too quickly for my taste. It was my favorite hour of the day. Not only did we finish our project before everyone else, but that gave us time to talk some more. I kept noticing the way he'd lean into me. I was a live wire once the bell rang, saving the last straw of my sanity. We said our goodbye's, and I unfortunately didn't see him in the halls for the rest of the day. I was bummed for most of the weekend, because of it.


*** The First Realization:

EdwardPOV

Holy shit.

My eyes popped open and I stared at the white ceiling above me.

I fucking like Bella Swan.

Like, like, like her.

I groaned and sat up, staring at my radio, currently playing 311's, Love Song. I'd been antsy all weekend, unable to concentrate, to focus. I sucked at practice on Friday, zoned out during my dad's speech at the stupid fundraiser last night, and today, I'd practically exhausted myself running around everywhere because I couldn't sit still, and couldn't figure it out. Yeah, maybe my thoughts kept going back to her for some strange reason. Normally, yes, I'd think of her and then I'd go about my business. But, all this weekend, my thoughts were consistent and never failing.

My heart started beating out of my chest as I thought things over. I couldn't like anyone... I wasn't the type to have childish crushes on anyone. All my friends had them growing up, but not me. But, from the way my heart reacted to the warmness that spread throughout my body whenever she was around or I'd think of her... Holy.... God damn. I really fucking like her.

I rubbed my face and crawled toward the edge of my bed, growing more anxious by the second as I looked over at my clock. It read two am. I'd see her in five hours. "Oh shit," I said to myself, pacing around the room. "Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit... No... You can't like her. This is just a stupid... thing... You're having a mid-life crisis or something.... Get yourself together..." The more I paced, the more I thought about it, and the more it rang true.

I really cared for this girl. I felt a need to protect her. I cornered Tyler Crowley in the bathroom when I heard him talking shit about her over-sized clothes. He seemed to think she was a lesbian. I doubted he'd say anything more about her anytime soon. I told girls who gossiped about her to shut up, several times... But still...

Okay, yeah, maybe from the very first sight of her in that hallway weeks ago, when she had the run-in with Belinda Hamilton... I knew she was special. And yeah, maybe I felt the way my body was tugging to be closer to her. But, I mean, I'm fifteen, and there's all these hormones and strange shit going on. My voice was high last year, and it's not high anymore. No more pimples. No more squeaks in my vocal range. I grew hellaciously tall over the summer. I noticed toward the end of last year that I was starting grow chest hair and hair... well... everywhere.

"Fuck," I squatted down toward my carpet, cradling my head. I was losing my mind. Bella Swan was making me crazy. I was mesmerized by her. I knew it as soon as the thought crossed my mind. Images of her flashed in front of my eyes; chewing on her pens, her tongue peeking out to lick her lips when she'd look at me, the way her teeth grazed her bottom lip, her hair falling over her shoulders, her ivory complexion, those caramel eyes, that irresistable flush of her cheeks... And then I felt myself grow hard.

"Oh shit," I fell back on my ass, gasping. "No....."

I blew out gusts of wind, practically panting to calm myself down. Yes, sure, I'd taken care of this issue myself, as soon as I figured out at the age of thirteen that masturbating was much better than watching television, or eating, or breathing. But the idea of jerking off to thoughts of a girl... an actual girl... not someone from a porn or a magazine... A human, physical girl never got me to have this type of reaction. And sweet, innocent, baggy-clothes wearing, intelligent, beautiful Bella... This was sick. I couldn't. I would be an asshole if I did.

I groaned, crawling on my knees toward my radio to change the song. I was aching, throbbing, starting to feel sore. I needed to do something, but there was no way I could do this. And I couldn't call her. We'd never talked on the phone before. "Cold shower," I said to myself as I pulled myself along the wall and practically ran into my adjoining bathroom, thankful my room was on the opposite side of the house from my parents. Because that cold shower kicked my ass.

I hated Bella for putting me through this. I barely got any sleep. I was too angry with the realization that I liked a girl.

*&*#!#$^%$^

I was never moody at school. Just the opposite, I was normally relaxed and laid back. But today was different. From the realization to the blue balls to the cold shower to the lack of sleep, my frustrations were higher than ever. Anyone who greeted me in the halls was countered with a sour glance or a death wish, so they quickly realized to leave me be. Even Alice and Emmett were staying clear of me.

I didn't pay any attention in my classes. I scribbled on notebooks, angry, dark marks, fisting my hair, my knees shaking. I avoided the freshman hall like a plague, carrying most of my books with me today. I didn't want to see her. I didn't know how to handle this.

I had secretly hoped that I'd realize today that it was all some big joke God was playing on me, and things would go back to normal. She'd just be my beautiful, sweet lab partner whom I enjoyed spending time with. Wrong. The world wanted to torture me. So, all I did was smell her scent from down the hall before first hour... a scent I'd recognize anywhere, strawberries and cinnamon, and I was royally fucked. From the pounding of my heart in my chest, to my jittery body, to my cotton-mouth, I knew this was more than just a phase.

This was permanent.

Hours crept by, making me more miserable, and angry. I saw Bella at lunch and she smiled, giving me a shy wave. And, what did I do? That's right. I glared and ignored her completely. I sat with my friends, didn't say a word to anyone, couldn't eat. I knew I had insulted her. Especially since the Friday before, she sat in this room with me and we were great. But it was all different now.

Biology came and went. I didn't talk to her unless we had to, stayed on the very edge of my side of the table. She kept asking me what was wrong with me, if I was okay, if I was sick, if there was anything she could do. Either I'd give really short answers, or no answer at all. One time, I think I even made fun of her book she had with her, like an asshole. It was like Kindergarten, all over again. In a sandbox. The boy shoveling dirt and throwing it at the girl he liked. Except I was throwing hard glances and cold comments, not dirt. But it was close enough. I was being an immature pussy.

As soon as the bell rang, I bailed out of my seat and hauled ass to my next class. I avoided the halls again, growing even grumpier, and angrier for being such a dick, for losing control of myself. I hated not being in control. Once the bell rang and it was time for last period, I stormed toward my locker to deposit the three books I was carrying and grab the one I needed, as well as a different notebook. I tried to make it as quick as possible, but then there she was, storming over, angry look in her eyes. She threw her free hand on her hip and rounded her shoulders, glaring up at me. "Do I smell?"

"Huh?" I copped, glowering back at her.

"Do I? Because I don't think I do."

"How the hell should I know." You would know very well. She smells perfect.

"What is your problem? Why are you acting like an ass? You're freaking me out, and you won't talk to me, and normally we talk."

"I don't want to talk about it."

I tried to veer around her but then her hand came up to my chest and she pushed me back toward my locker. "What did you hear? What changed your mind about being friends with me?"

"What are you talking about?!"

"The gossip! I heard it, the new rumor Jess started about me that's going around, that I'm a lesbian or whatever. I understand that you don't want to be seen with me in the cafeteria, but you're my lab partner, and I mean... I-I thought we were friends!"

"You're not a lesbian."

"No shit! But I get it, if that's why you don't want to ha-"

"Look, Bella, I just figured out I fucking like you, and I'm not sure how I feel about it, because I'm not sure how you'd feel about it. So can you leave me alone?" The words came out before I had time to catch my breath.

She looked so shocked, so confused. Her face turned red and she took a few steps back, away from me, suddenly not the feisty, sassy girl she was a minute ago when she was throwing me up against my locker. "Oh," she said quietly, nodding and swallowing hard. "Okay." Then she turned and scurried away.

I closed my eyes, turned, and banged my head against my locker.

That could have gone a hell of a lot better.

*&*#!#$^%$^

"So you like her?"

"Yeah."

"Like her, like her."

"Yep."

"Bella Swan."

"Yes, Emmett," I scowled, spinning around on his computer chair. "Bella Swan. Now what am I going to do?"

"Well, you already told her," he chuckled, throwing his football on his bed as he dug through his closet, "so that part is done."

"Ass."

"And she's not a lesbian, despite the rumors."

"No."

He smirked, "So... I guess next step is fucking her."

I about fell off his chair. I shot out of it, glaring at him, "What the hell are you talking about?! Don't say shit like that! Not about her, all right?"

"Whoa, ease up!" He held his hands in the air, backing away from me and my death glare. "I'm just saying... After I tell a girl I like her, normally she climbs in the back seat of my car."

"Emmett, you've screwed three girls."

"Three more than you," he countered.

I dropped back in his chair, shaking my head. "I should be going to Alice about this, not you."

"Alice is with that idiotic Alex kid tonight. Did you see the pimple on his neck? Why is she with him?"

"I don't know, don't care," I scoffed. Hello, let's get back to me, shall we? You know, your desperate, way out of his field, drowning over this girl, friend?

"I'm just saying... You know, deep down inside, you've got a stiff one for Bella Swan. You may as well let her take care of it. Girls who fuck you up should put out for you, at least."

"Remind me to never come to you for advice again."

"Hey man. I give good advice. You'll take it one day, you just don't know it yet."

*&*#!#$^%$^

My revelation to Bella came on Monday, and Tuesday and Wednesday went mostly without conversation. We weren't necessarily awkward, at least outwardly. But, inside, I was humiliated and embarrassed and worried that she hated me, and would refuse to even be friends with me at this point. That, on top of all my hormonal urges, was frustrating the fuck out of me. Alice's and Emmett's opinions weren't helping me either. And I wasn't going to go to my mother about this one.

By the time Thursday came around, I was at my wits end. I bit my lip, looking at her across the table from me. Before I could torture myself any longer, I slid my chair over, wincing at the sound of the heels scraping across the floor. Well at least I knew I had the attention of every other student. "Bella."

She quirked an eyebrow but didn't look at me. She kept her eyes on her notebook, which she continued to cover in her special version of chicken scratch.

"Bella," I hissed again, moving an inch closer, "I can't handle the silence anymore."

"I'm doing as you asked," she replied stubbornly. "I'm leaving you alone."

"I don't want to be left alone anymore."

"You don't know what you want."

"Yes, I do."

She turned and glared at me, causing me to pull back slightly. "I can't read your mind, Edward. It seems to change so much. Lab partner, friends, not friends, leave you alone. Now you want to talk, but tomorrow, you may hate me again."

"I don't hate you," I scoffed, ignoring our teacher's request to close our mouths. "I just… I don't get what you're doing to me."

"What am I doing to you? What do you want?" She was getting angrier. Shit.

"You're fucking me up," I admitted truthfully. "I'm sorry, I can't explain it. I don't know anything other than the fact that I can't go back on this realization, and all I think about is you. I feel possessed, but... I can't handle it, and I like it, all the same. Because you're what I want." I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, lowering my head toward the top of the table. "I want you, Bella," I murmured.

She was silent, but when I opened my eyes and turned to look at her, I noticed a smile at the corner of her mouth. She continued to refuse looking at me though. Nor did she reply to my statement.

By the end of the hour when the bell rang, I had all but given up. I felt defeated as I pushed away from the desk, and there was no way I could hide my frown. Bella cut in front of me, swinging her orange bag over her right shoulder, then twisted around, depositing a folded piece of paper in my hand. She didn't even look at me. Then she hurried off, out of the classroom, leaving a trail of her beautiful scent to waft through my nose.

I dropped everything I had back onto the table and unfolded the paper. All that was written was, "...I want you too, Edward... ---" on the front, and when I flipped it over, it read, "...But I'm still fifteen for three more weeks, and not allowed to date yet. Parents rules, not mine."

I smirked, my heart beating again as I exhaled slowly. She wanted me too.

Thank you, Christ.

I didn't see Bella again until the end of school, when she was making her way back to her locker to put her stuff away for the day. I could barely hold my excitement as I ran over to her, my heart pounding out of my chest.

She turned as soon as she saw me, a startled expression on her face. She wasn't expecting me.

All I did was smile and lean forward, kissing her cheek gently. "We can deal," I whispered against her skin, though my heart was now in my throat.

I listened as she smiled then moved back to watch her bite her lip, her face flushed with warmth and a beautiful shade of pink, making my body go crazy, "...Okay."

I tucked the hair behind her ear, brushed my finger beneath her chin, and gave her a wink, before I had to run to catch up with Emmett, who'd been giving me a ride to school since the second day I met him. He'd leave my ass if I wasn't there, so I didn't have time for small talk.

And that was that.


*** The First Step:

BellaPOV

We can deal.

We can deal, we can deal, we can deal...

Yeah. Edward had never met my father. Charlie didn't like anyone 'dealing' when it came to me. I remember when Mike Newton called to get notes once last year. I thought my dad was never going to stop lecturing me. So the thought of this being what I wanted it to be... I was fearful there would be steel bars gracing the outside of my window by daylight.

Edward and I tried to do the 'friends' thing at first... Having group dinners so no adults would grow suspicious, hanging out in his car whenever he'd sneak away, listening to music for hours, and talking, just talking, getting to know each other. And, of course, that electric connection was always there between us.

But that kiss on the cheek was the only form of contact we had for weeks. No hand-holding, no kissing on the lips, nothing. Maybe a hug or two. I didn't know what he was thinking but I most certainly didn't want to initiate it and get rejected. After all, I'd never kissed anything but my own hand. I had no idea what to do.

From September through December, we hung out, had this routine of sneaking around. We went to movies, went to games. I tried to teach him how to fish, though we didn't catch anything because it was too damned cold. We even walked to class together, him holding my books, but never my hand. I wasn't sure what the deal was, and there were countless times I wanted to ask him about it, but was afraid I'd scare him off. In September, only a few weeks after we told each other we liked one another, he purchased me a journal. A real one, thick, with the leather binding and wrap around strings. I'd never seen anything like it. "I always see you writing when you should be taking notes," he explained. "I felt it'd do you some good to have a place to put everything. My mother has a journal. She says it's... how she talks about her feelings when she believes no one else could understand."

It was the best gift I had ever received.

One December night, he called me, telling my dad he needed Bio notes. When I got on the phone, he begged me to sneak out and go for a walk with him. It was freezing, sub zero temperatures, at ten o'clock at night, and he wanted me to go out in that. Of course, I said yes, because it was Edward Cullen and I would never deny him anything. But the thought of turning into an ice sculpture was not appealing to me at all. I threw on my snow boots over my red Coca Cola polar bear pajama pants. I put my parka on and snuck out the back door, running down the icy path. Edward was there, standing in jeans and shoes and a heavy jacket, his hands in his pockets, his car parked down the road with its lights off.

As soon as he saw me, his eyes widened, and before I knew it, I had thrown myself in his arms, panting heavily.

"Jesus!" he shouted, grabbing a hold of me, "You're freezing! What are you wearing?!"

"Pajamas." My cold breath puffed in a cloud toward his mouth. "It's the middle of the night and I had to sneak out."

"Come on," he chuckled, pulling me -- almost carrying me because I kept slipping -- down the slick road, and into his car. "Finally passed my test. Got the new license. You wouldn't believe the chores I had to do to convince my mother to let me come out with my car in this weather." He turned it on, the heat going full blast, and angled all the vents in my direction. "Bella, you're going to catch pneumonia for this."

"It's your fault. You're the one who begged me to come out here."

"I imagined you'd be smart enough to throw on warmer clothes."

"No, I didn't think, I just ran out the door with what I had. I just wanted to see you. That's all I really thought about."

He turned, looking at me, his emerald eyes mesmerizing me, as always.

"I-I... I missed you," I stammered with a blush.

He grinned crookedly, the smile that owned my soul, and leaned forward, grabbing my frigid hands in his warm ones. It was our first serious touch in weeks. "I miss you every time that you are away from me, Bella."

I smiled, relieved that he didn't think I was a fool. My hands shook inside of his, but it was more anticipation than it was the cold. "Really?"

"Yes."

I nodded, licking my lips. "This may sound... dumb, but... I really can't stop thinking about you. I do it all the time. No matter what I'm doing, it's all about you. Isn't that strange?"

He shook his head, his grin growing wider. "All the time?"

"Yes."

His grin grew devilish, "Even in the shower?"

My face turned hot and I shut my eyes, nodding slowly. "Yeah. That's frustrating."

"Why's that?"

"You know why." Kill me now. My face was so flushed, I wasn't even an icicle anymore.

"No... Tell me."

I buried my face in my hands, kicking myself momentarily from stealing them back from Edward's. "Because... It's... dirty."

"Ohhhh, so you were fantasizing about me."

"Edward!" I squealed, looking over to him in shock as my palms slapped my thighs. "Are you enjoying humiliating me?!"

"Yes."

"I figured."

He chuckled, "Well, do you handle it or not?"

"Handle what?"

"Your …frustrations …in the shower." His wicked grin wrought havoc with my heart rate.

"No," I looked away, shaking my head quickly.

He sighed, his grin fading as he turned his face toward the steering wheel "Yeah... We should really do something about that."

"That what?"

"That predicament we're both in."

I bit my lip, turning slowly toward him, still shy. "You… fantasize about me?"

"Yes."

"Oh."

He smirked, still not meeting my eyes now. "But I don't do anything about it either. I figured you wouldn't like me doing that."

"Like you doing what?"

He looked over at me, our eyes locking, "Pleasuring myself with the thought of you."

My eyes widened and I quickly turned away, staring bug-eyed at the dashboard in front of me. I was stunned. I didn't know what to do, but I didn't expect him to say that. I squealed, chagrinned, leaning toward the windshield. I had no idea how to react or what to say.

"Talk to me," he said. "I hate this limbo crap... Please."

"Do you... do that? P-pleasure yourself?" I closed my eyes, shaking my head. My brain went all sorts of wrong places, but there was no way to stop that thought-train now. There was no way it was possible for me to blush any deeper.

"Yes. Don't you?" I shook my head slowly, still keeping my eyes closed. "Are you kidding me?" I shook my head again, my face some how more embarrassed. "Bella... You could combust."

I laughed, sighing heavily. "I haven't so far."

"It's different now. Everything's different when you're with someone."

"Is that what I am? ...With you?"

"I'm... hoping so."

I sighed, turning toward him. "Then why don't we hold hands and stuff?"

He shrugged. "Maybe I'm afraid?"

"Of me?"

"Of... not being able to control myself if I touch you... like that."

"What do you mean? It's normal for couples to hold hands and st-"

"For one, nothing is normal for us. And second, I meant what I said to you weeks ago. I want you. Like, want you, want you. And I realize we have a long way to go before we get that far, but... Would you understand if I told you that I'm only human, and that I'm a guy?"

"Yes."

"Alright." He nodded, sucking in his top lip, "But... I mean... I'd like to try, still. You will have to work with me though."

"How?" I asked calmly.

"We... start slow... and see where it goes?"

"Okay..."

He rested his arm on the center console and flipped it over, his palm facing up and open. Then he wiggled his fingers, whispering, "Come here."

I bit my lip, my hand shaking as I slowly placed it into his. The electric current flew through me, and I bit my lip harder to stifle a gasp. I watched as his fingers wrapped around the back of my hand, pushing our palms closer together. Then he moved his hand a bit and intertwined our fingers, one by one. As soon as we were connected like that, a relieved breath floated from my lips. I could finally relax. I was holding his hand. And the current between us was running through my veins, making me feel almost high.

Step one, accomplished.

With his free hand, he inserted a CD by 311, and then turned to me again, smiling warmly. We didn't say another word, too consumed in the melody and the moment.

Words weren't necessary at the time.


*** The First Kiss:

Even though my dad refused to let anyone drive me to school but him, Edward held my hand in the halls the next day. Dad said school was "fine" for us to "have crushes on each other", but I was pretty sure taking anything beyond those halls would earn "the look", at least. And although I tried to tell him I was sixteen now, he wasn't too happy about the idea of letting me go just yet.

So this, at school... It was our 'official outing' in public. ...Well, as public as Forks could get.

Every single time our hands touched, it was pure butterflied, anxiety bliss. Sometimes my palm was unfortunately sweaty. Sometimes I was in an internal panic. But any time that he'd brush his finger along the back of my skin, or stroke my face, or just freakin' smile at me, all of that melted away, and then it was just me and him, like any other couple in school. Sure, there were gossip and rumors. More about me than him. But this time, I noticed the anger in his eyes whenever they'd scoff something down the hallway, and it was the first true realization that Edward wanted to protect me just as much as I wanted to protect him.

We ate lunch side by side in the cafeteria, instead of across the table. He'd pick things off my plate and laugh when he ate them and I growled at him playfully. By the time Biology came around, everyone in our grade knew we were together, and Jinny Holts even had the nerve to ask Mr. Banner if we could trade lab partners. But he just ignored her, pretended he didn't know we were together, thankfully. Everyone knew. It was the smallest town in America.

The week past by, the last week of school for the remainder of the year, and we were basically inseparable. He started to come around for dinner at my house whenever I'd beg Charlie to allow it. We never did anything even approaching physical, never even held hands in front of him, kept the conversations subtle. But I'm pretty sure anyone could see how quickly we were melting into each other. Meeting his parents was a whole other world for me. They became fast friends with my step-father, Phil, and mother, Renee, but I never really hung out with them much, being the typical rebellious teenager if you will. We waited until Christmas break to officially meet. Carlisle wasn't there when we'd arrived, just his mother Esme, who was wearing a beautiful brown dress a lawyer-type would wear to the office, with a crisp apron over it. She welcomed me with open arms, not seeming to notice Edward's hand wrapped around my waist. She told us to enjoy ourselves in the living room, and explained that she was cooking pot roast, garlic potatoes, rolls, and baked corn, and that it'd be ready in an hour.

So we snuggled up on their plush white sofas and watched tv, holding hands beneath the cover. To this day, I couldn't tell you what we watched. I was too busy freaking out about our close proximity, my back half-covering his chest, his arm around me, holding my hand and his breath feathering down my neck. Carlisle arrived shortly after, barely making small talk before scarfing down his meal, drinking a glass of wine, kissing the top of his wife's head, asking Edward if he finished all his homework before the break started, telling me it was nice to meet me, and that was it. To his office he went, with the door closed and the lit fireplace echoing beneath the crack of it. Edward gave me a tour of his gigantic house. My entire home could fit into his living room. But when we made it to his bedroom, I wouldn't go in. I was too nervous. So we sat on the steps instead, talking and laughing for hours.

After that, we went back into town with his mom because she had to purchase a few last-minute gifts, and Edward walked me home from the store that night, in the snow. It was only a half a mile from my house. We held hands, walking side by side, shivering against each other. But it wasn't so cold that we couldn't breathe, thankfully. When we arrived at my porch, it was the first time that I felt my heart really tugging. I was so upset that we were going to be parted for the night that I wanted to cry. I didn't want him to leave. So he walked me to the door, and when I went to open it, all sad and mopey, he wouldn't let go of my gloved hand. I froze, hand on the doorknob, and then he pulled me to him and took a step toward me at the same time. Our chests touched, and our faces were mere inches apart. I didn't breathe.

"Mmmm," he hummed, closing his eyes. "You smell so good... like Christmas morning, Bella."

I bit my lip, shaking in my frame. He's going to kiss me. I really think he's going to kiss me. Oh shit. Oh shit... Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh God, oh Christ. Okay. Okay, breathe. SHIT! He's going to kiss me!!!! I don't know how to kiss. Please don't let me suck at this!

He brought his now-ungloved hands up toward my face and carefully framed my jaw with his fingers, looking straight into my eyes. Even though it was nighttime and the only source of light was the dim porch lamp, I noticed the hue in his eyes was much warmer. It reminded me of the flames created when we'd burn driftwood on the beach. I stared at them, completely stunned. I had never seen eyes more beautiful than his, and I had never seen his eyes more beautiful than at that moment.

Shaking, I exhaled slowly, wrapping my fingers around his wrists, while he still held onto my face.

He leaned down slowly, pressing his forehead to mine.

And then we breathed.

Sometimes we opened our eyes and looked at each other. Others, we closed our eyes and reveled in the moment. I don't know how long we stood there like that. I'm not sure how long we lingered in that moment. All I know was that it was so beautiful, so perfect. It would forever be one of my favorites... and the crazy thing was, we didn't even kiss that night. Almost, yes. But we didn't do it. And that night was still wonderful to me.

Right before Christmas break, Renee and Esme had joined forces to purchase a cabin together in Windsor, Colorado, and this was the first time we were all heading out there. Our parents didn't take mine and Edward's relationship 'seriously'. They thought we were just 'young kids experiencing puppy love'. Though, at the time it was sort-of true, because we were in the first stages of love. Regardless, we were quite offended by that statement because we knew in our hearts that it was more.

We rode together in our parent's vehicles, first in his mom and dad's BMW, sneakily holding hands and pressing close together in the backseat. In Phil's Bronco, we had a lot more room and a lot more privacy. I think, at one point, I embarrassingly fell asleep with my head in his lap, but it was too dark for them to see us, and thankfully that meant it was too dark for him to know I was possibly drooling on his pants.

The cabin they purchased was massive, easily accommodating both families. Phil and Renee's room was downstairs in what Carlisle called 'the dungeon', because not many people knew where it was. Carlisle and Esme took the master on the third story. Rosalie and her three friends from school, Mariah, Jackelyn, and Jessy, hung out in the 'Disney' room, as we called it, because it had three beds and all these colorful finishes. Edward took a room on the third floor with a balcony that overlooked the woods surrounding the property. I took the room down the hall from him. My mom brought up her worries, but Carlisle assured her that he'd 'be on the lookout for misbehavior', which Edward later assured me meant that 'He'll be intoxicated by eleven every night, and that will give us free reign'.

We did our best to behave in front of our parents. Ate meals with them, ice skated on the lake, danced and played games and everything. But after our parents were asleep and they thought we were too, we'd sneak off together and take midnight swims in the pool, or hang outside on a bench together by the fireplace under a warm blanket. Though I was still nervous around him, it wasn't nearly as uncomfortable. Just the butterflies. All the rest seemed to fade away, the more time we spent together.

Christmas came and went fast. Edward and I agreed to exchange gifts, but only small ones, less than $15. He gave me a package of Sharpie colored pens for my journal and some bracelets. I got him a baseball and a new chain for his wallet, since the one he had was pretty ancient.

And then it came. December 30th. The day I truly knew he was the one. We were outside, once again, sharing a blanket and a fireplace. Edward pulled me between his legs, my back to his chest, and wrapped his arms around me. I smiled and snuggled against him, my heart beating out of my chest. "Hey Edward?"

"Yes?"

"Do you ever wonder if there's someone that looks identical to us, but standing on the moon, looking back in our direction?"

He chuckled, pulling me closer to him. "What, like a mirrored image?"

I intertwined my fingers with his, but noticed he wouldn't move his hand the slightest inch from my stomach. He didn't want to let me go. I turned my face back and pushed what I could into his neck, inhaling slowly. "Yeah," I whispered, "like an alternate universe, where the exact same thing is happening over there?"

He buried his face closer to mine, sending chills down my spine. "I hope not."

I curled out my bottom lip, fake-pouting, because he didn't get my analogy. "Why?"

"Well... regardless of how selfish I may sound, I wouldn't want anyone else to have our type of relationship... I kind of enjoy the fact that we're so rare... so happy all the time... I enjoy being able to recognize how special you are, and that you're one of a kind..."

He exhaled, kissing my cheek. "I want you to remain irreplaceable, so I'll always know how important you are in my life... that way I'd never be willing to lose you."

I flushed and bit my lip, shaking my head slowly. "I can't imagine us losing each other."

"Yeah... but things do happen. I'm praying for the best, but taking all our friends and our families relationship fumbles into consideration... It's scary. You never know. We have to be careful." He gripped me tighter, but I welcomed the closeness easily.

"I know we're young," I whispered with a shrug. "But... I think this might be a set up for something beyond our control... I can't imagine waking up and not looking forward to seeing you. It's the best part of school, the best part of my day... just being with you, Edward. I don't mean to sound cheesy or typical, but... it's true. You're a wonderful person, and you make me extremely happy."

"Good," he smiled. "That's what I wanted."

"What?"

"To make you happy. You're... difficult to comprehend sometimes and I wouldn't want to disappoint you. That's why I'm taking things slow."

"Slow is good," I smiled. "For now, at least."

*&*#!#$^%$^

New Year's Eve was another big day. Our parents were laughing drunkenly, playing poker, the Times Square celebration on the television in the background on mute, classic music from the 40s-80s on full blast. Rosalie and her four snippy girlfriends quickly met up with some boys from around the cabin. They were also over for the night and they were giggling and laughing around the pool. Rosalie invited Edward and I to hang out with them, but I hated her friends, so it was easy for me to decline.

As soon as we got the chance, we made our escape. We didn't have but fifteen minutes before the start of the new year. We slipped up the steps, to the third story, where his 'bedroom' was. We were both dressed simply, not too into dressing up for the occasion like everyone else. He wore jeans and a white button-down, I wore dark pants and a glittery blue shirt and boots.

"Hey," he said, as soon as he locked the door behind us, "want to go outside?"

"Uhhh, in case you haven't noticed, it's freezing out, and I'm in... this."

"I have extra clothes," he replied, digging through his suitcase. He tossed me a white hooded sweatshirt of his that still smelled like him. I inhaled slowly before putting it over me and engulfing myself in it. He put one on as well, dark charcoal colored, and grinned at me. "You... look good... in my clothes."

I blushed. "Thanks."

He breezed past me and opened the sliding door, before extending his hand. "Come on. We can hear the music from downstairs."

I took it and allowed him to pull me out, slipping a little on the wood beneath us. Edward's hands stretched to my hips and we both laughed while he balanced me. "Jesus, I can't take you anywhere," he teased.

"Just don't take me near the railing, unless you want me to tumble to my death."

"Do you really think I'd let the big, bad porch throw you off?"

I looked up at him, grinning, but eyeing him in mock suspicion. "I don't know, would you?"

He shook his head slowly.

"Are you sure?" I narrowed my eyes at him.

He smirked at me. "Yeah... I'm sure."

"You seem to be contemplating that one... I don't know if I should trust you."

"Ohhh, I think you should trust me," he said slowly, moving closer and locking his arms behind my back.

My heart began to pound wickedly as I stared up at him. The only thing between us was our cold breath. "I'm not really the trusting type."

"Then... make me an exception." The music changed downstairs. Faith Hill's, 'Breathe' cascaded from the speakers. It added more chills to the ones already brushing my spine.

I can feel the magic floating in the air... Being with you gets me that way... I watch the sunlight dance across your face, and I've... never been this swept away...

And, as I looked around at our beautiful surroundings, I was swept away. The moonlight glowed from the tops of the powder-covered trees, across the frozen lake, reflecting from the ice-covered ground.

I bit my lip, loving our playful mood. "Do you believe that you deserve an exception?"

All my thoughts just seem to settle on the breeze, when I'm lying wrapped up in your arms... The whole world just fades away, the only thing I hear... is the beating of your heart.

Edward moved his face to my neck, breathing in my scent. Oh christ, oh christ, oh christ... the tingles. "You tell me, Bella. Do I deserve an exception?"

I shivered, holding him closer to me, never close enough. "...I'm thinking so...," I teased. "Possibly... getting warmer."

There's nothing left to prove... Baby all we need is just to be... caught up in the touch... the slow and steady rush, baby isn't that the way that love's supposed to be?

He hummed, intensifying the shivers and tingles, his hot breath on my neck. "I can handle 'warmer'... You smell so good, Bella... I always think about this... I want to drown in you."

...I can feel you breathe... Just breathe...

I bit my lip, my heart inside my throat, and closed my eyes, overwhelmed a little. "...This is a lot of emotion for us to be handling. We're really young..."

"If you look at it that way," he argued softly, trailing his nose down the side of my throat.

In a way I know my heart is waking up... as all the walls come tumbling down... Closer than I've ever felt before... and I know and you know... there's no need for words right now...

"H-How do you... look at it?" I practically sang my question, as tiny diamond snowflakes fell around us, lingering on the shelving of the porch and around the circle we were making as we swayed from side to side to the music. It was freezing cold outside, but the body heat intensified by our proximity created an amazingly warm bubble around us. I wasn't shivering from the cold... only the anticipation of us being this close.

Our parents were getting louder, shouting that we had four minutes until the new year arrived. They were clearly drunk, but it didn't phase Edward whatsoever. There was no momentum lost.

"I think we're more of old souls, Bella... I can't explain it and I don't want you to freak out on me. I know we've only known each other for five months, but I truthfully don't... see this..." He paused to pull me closer, our chests crushing together while he kept his face buried between my face and my shoulder, "...as a typical teenage relationship... You're different... and you make me feel different when I'm with you."

"You make me feel different too," I stated, shivering.

Just breathe...

He smiled and pulled back, our hips pressed together, our backs arched away, our arms locked around each other. Each place our bodies touched, my skin was alive with that electric current that I never understood but had come to crave.

I can feel the magic floating in the air... being with you gets me that way.

I stared into his eyes, amazed at the turn of events. It was as if the entire planet had shifted on its axis, making us melt closer together. In just a few moments alone, we went from one thing to something completely different. Something magical. As the snow fell, it was like being cocooned in our own beautiful snow globe.

The music changed and 'Angel' by Aerosmith pressed us even closer together. There was no other place I wanted to be than right here in Edward's arms. An inch of separation would be too much, too heart-wrenching.

Edward tilted his head slowly, his firelit emerald eyes reflecting pure adoration. "This song reminds me of you," so soft it was almost a whisper. His breath crystallized in the frigid air, even while its' warmth caressed my cheeks.

"Why's that?" I moved my right hand up his back, into his bronzed hair, brushing off the soft flakes.

He bit his lip and shrugged, almost blushing. "Sometimes... when I'm alone or I talk to my mom or something, about us, I sometimes say that. I call you 'Angel'."

I smiled, blushing back. "I didn't know that..."

"You do now."

I want your love. Let's break the walls between us. Don't make it tough. I'll put away my pride. Enough's enough, I've suffered and I've seen the light...

"Are there... any other nicknames you have for me?"

"Uhh... yeah," he grinned sheepishly. "But 'Beautiful', I'd have to say... is my favorite for describing you."

"Edward," I looked down, my face inflamed, "there's a ton of girls that are much more beautiful than me. I'm... waiting for the moment when you'll wake up and see that and bail out."

"They may be beautiful to you, but not to me. You're... all I want to see, Bella. Just you."

My bashful nature taking over, I pushed my face into his chest.

Don't know what I'm going to do about this feeling inside... Yes it's true... Loneliness took me for a ride...

He chuckled, holding me close. "How on earth can I see you when you shy away from me?"

"I don't know how to take compliments."

He brushed his fingers through my long, brown hair, spreading his electricity even across my scalp. "Well we're going to have to do something about that, because I plan to give you a lot of them."

I blushed harder, shaking my head and inhaling deep.

The countdown was already going, mere seconds left.

Without your love, I'm nothing but a beggar...

"30, 29, 28!"

I felt his hands come up to my face and move me back so I could look at him, "Bella?"

"Yes?"

"24, 23, 22!"

He grinned crookedly, caressing my face. "I have a question I want to ask you... something I've been dying to ask for an eternity now." Another sparkle, a brighter one, had found a home in his eyes.

"Without your love, I'm a dog without a bone... What can I do? I'm sleeping in this bed alone...

"18, 17, 16!"

"Okay," I bit my lip, standing on my tip-toes to see him better, wrapping my arms around his neck.

"14, 13, 12!"

He leaned slowly, coming even closer to me, "Bella?"

"10, 9, 8!"

You're my angel, come and save me tonight...

I closed my eyes, trembling, "Yeah?"

"6, 5, 4!"

"May I please kiss you?"

I nodded quickly, pulling him down to me.

"3, 2, 1!"

We both took a breath and pushed our faces forward, our lips connecting softly.

"HAPPY NEW YEAR!"

When our lips touched, the electricity hummed through every pore of my body. I would have gasped at the sudden sensation, but gasping would have pulled my lips from his, and I would rather die than allow that. The shrieks from everyone downstairs attempted to pierce our bubble. But, they barely registered in my thoughts. Steven Tyler's voice rose around us, but all I registered was the sound of us moving together. The connection... as soon as we made it… I felt my world spinning wildly out of control. I heard people talk about first kisses and how awkward they can be. But this one... it belonged in a picture frame somewhere, hung in a museum. I knew it shouldn't feel this good, this right, this serene. But it did. In spite of the electricity coursing through my body, I'd never felt so calm in my entire life.

You're my angel, come and make it alright...

His sweet breath cascaded over mine as our lips moved and molded, blending into each other's as our comfort quickly grew. Before I gathered my thoughts, I pushed myself into him, panting into his mouth. It was as if something wild had taken control of my body. I knew I shouldn't act so forward, but I couldn't get a grip. I wanted more. Just feeling his lips on mine was no longer enough. Taking a breath that sounded more like a whimper, I opened my lips the slightest bit, inviting his slightly plumper bottom lip between them. Slowly, I pressed both my lips to it, sucking it between them the tiniest bit. There are no words to describe the taste of Edward's lips. It was the most dazzling mix of mint and sweet and perfect I had ever tasted.

As I pulled his lower lip between mine, he sucked my top lip between his. I felt more than heard the small groan that emanated from his throat. His hands ghosted up my back, finding first my neck then my jaw. He held my face so tenderly between his hands, as if I might shatter. My insides were vibrating so violently in that moment, I might have if he wasn't holding me together. We both inhaled at the same time, and the sound was like a wave crashing over us

You're the reason I live... You're the reason I die...

And all of a sudden, again, it wasn't enough. I parted my lips further for him, humming as we tilted our heads in opposite directions. I felt his lips part, too. Taking control for just the briefest moment, I ghosted my tongue slowly across that bottom lip. Soft and moist, it was like nothing I had ever felt before. His tongue moved carefully, touching only the tip of mine, then pulling back. I pushed harder against him, hoping he'd catch a hint.

And he did.

As soon as I had his tongue in my mouth that very first time, it created a fire in me. An embarrassing moan escaped my throat as he slowly swirled his around mine, his fingers gripping my back, pulling me closer and closer to him until I thought we were somehow going to meld into one person. I felt him smile against my lips, then we moved our heads the other way, and this time, our tongues met in the middle. With each brush of his lips, or sweep of his tongue, I was melting more and more. I felt my body reacting to him, but I didn't want to stop. In that moment, I felt pulled to him, attached as if by some magnetic force between us.

It amazed me how linked we were in that moment. Our chests heaved in unison, our hearts pounding against each other. Our hands seemed to mirror each other's in movement and strength. And, as always happened with us, the surge came, making even that contact not enough. But, again, being as synced as we were, we both knew that this was our peak for tonight. So, slowly, almost achingly slow, we began to pull back. Easing back our tongues, dragging out lips apart, until finally we stood, still wrapped as tightly together as possible, foreheads pressed together forcing distance between our mouths. Our breath left us in pants, creating clouds around us, further adding to the magic of our moment. Right then, I knew what it was like to be so filled with emotion that I could not contain it. I blinked furiously, trying to keep the tears in. I didn't want him to see…to think the wrong thing.

You're the reason I live when I break down and cry... Don't need no reason why...

I felt his head lift as he looked for my eyes. His finger slipped beneath my chin, but I held my head down, resisting the pressure of his hand. "Please, Bella. I need to know what you're thinking." His velvet voice was unsure. I raised my eyes to his and I saw a flash of joy before they fell. "I'm sorry, Bella," he rushed softly to apologize, "I thought you…"

"Edward," I cut him off, covering his lips with my fingers. "Don't. This is why…" I shuffled my feet within his embrace. "This is why I didn't want to look at you. I knew you'd see the tears and think you hurt me or did something wrong." I smiled my brightest smile in spite of the tears on my cheeks. "I just… I've just never felt so much before. I'm a little overwhelmed." I could feel the blush from the roots of my hair down. "That was…" Oh God, he was finally going to understand just how in-over-my-head I was. I sighed, still smiling. But, I had to tell him. "Thatwasmyfirstkiss," I rushed out, still smiling, but now looking anywhere but at him.

"Bella…, " he began.

"I.. oh God… I just hope I… I don't know… I did it right. I mean, I…" This time Edward covered my lips with his fingers.

Come and save me tonight...

"Bella, you were perfect."

Come and save me tonight...

"Really?" My lip was now locked between my teeth, worrying it back and forth. Where during the kiss, I had been somewhat calm, I was now jacked up beyond compare, a live wire. "Cause, I mean, like I said, I've never done anything like that before. Not that way anyway. And, I mean, you've probably kissed lots of girls and I would hate to…"

Come and save me tonight...

This time he saved me from myself with a kiss, just pressing his lips to mine again. Soft but firm and more than enough to stop my lips in their tracks and send them a whole other direction. After a moment, or an eternity, of his lips pressed to mine, he pulled back so that he was eye to eye with me.

"Bella, I…" he inhaled and stammered, "I… I haven't kissed lots of girls. I've kissed one girl. And, she's still in my arms right now." That crooked grin spread across his lips, making my heart pound again.

Come and save me tonight...

"Really?" I thought hard for just a moment about what that might mean. Then glancing up at him again, I was captured by the glowing emerald of his eyes. "Thank you, Edward."

"For what?" his grin spread even wider.

"For giving me my first kiss," I said earnestly.

"Happy New Year, Bella," he said, pulling me back to his chest. I heard him swallow heavily, like he wanted to say more.

"Happy New Year, Edward.."


*** The First Time:

My eighteenth birthday. Edward surprising me.

I'll never know how he pulled it off. I'll never know how he convinced our parents to let us leave the state without supervision, or if he just lied to them, said we were staying at opposing friends' houses, and escaped. I'll never know a lot of things, because Edward loves mystery far too much to give anything away.

But here I was, wearing the electric blue halter dress his mother purchased for me for my birthday, standing by the front door of our parents' cabin, fiddling with the key. We had been in Colorado all day. Edward sent me to an art museum with some of the girls I knew in the area, because he said he knew I'd never go to a spa. He had to run some "errands". After he finished, he picked me up from the museum and handed me a single rose and a long box that contained the dress, blue heels with diamonds on the straps, and a real pearl necklace. I didn't even get to go back to the cabin to change. He took me straight to a romantic restaurant, Bésame, where we ate dinner by candlelight. He wore a black tux for the occasion. I could barely eat, I was staring at him too much to function properly.

As soon as the door opened, I fumbled inside and twisted around, grabbing his hand and pulling him in, against my chest, "Thank you for my gifts today, Edward."

He smirked, kicking the door closed behind him, "It's not over yet. Come on." He led me across the floor, between two rows of colorful candies, Reese's, suckers, jolly ranchers, candy hearts, streaming from the front door to the pool. Once we were inside, I gasped, completely stunned. There was nothing but candles and roses... All over the pool deck, in the water... red petals, white petals, floating candles... "This is incredible," I whispered, shaking my head. "How did you do all of this?"

"Why do you think I sent you away?" he chuckled.

Feeling giddy, I ran and jumped into his arms, pushing my face into his neck and inhaled his scent until I felt intoxicated by it. "Thank you so much, Edward! I couldn't ask for a better birthday gift than this!"

He popped me up in his arms, forcing a giggle from my chest. "So you're not too upset with me about doing something for your birthday?" he asked as he moved a few fly-away hairs from my eyes.

"Not at all," I smiled, kissing his top lip. "But you're the best gift I could ever ask for. Just you."

He inhaled slowly and rubbed my back, before pressing my chest into his. I wanted to tell him I loved him. I'd been wanting to tell him for quite a long time now. But I was too afraid it'd ruin the moment... and like always, I figured I'd wait for a different day. He kissed my cheek, my jaw, my chin... slow, tender movements that melted my heart... I felt like golden mush. He always had a way of doing that to me. "You're so beautiful," he whispered, shaking his head, his nose rubbing against my cheek. "Every night, I tell myself that it'll never get better than this... and then the next day proves me wrong..."

"I know what you mean," I replied as he sat me back down to my feet. He took my hand in his and brushed the hair off my shoulder with his other. "Come on... I want to show you something else."

I bit my lip as he led me down the candy path, which continued in the opposite direction from the double doors, up the winding stair-case to the third floor, down the long hall, and ended at the master bedroom, where the door was cracked open. I could see the glow of a fireplace dancing along the walls, listened to the crackle and pops of the embers. But when he moved the door open, all my senses went into over-drive. The bed that was normally there was gone. Instead, there was a large mattress in the middle of the floor, draped in white and dark red silk. It was completely surrounded by rose petals and candles, like a safe haven. The fireplace was decorated with colorful rocks below the flames, sparkles of their diamond textures mesmerizing. The glow of the surroundings bounced off of the wooden floors, the tan walls, reflecting back against the sheets. The sweet combination of smells, freesia, lavender, lily, vanilla, enveloped enough that, on their own, it was enough. Together, it was all overwhelming. He did everything perfect.

I covered my mouth, my eyes widening as far as possible so I could take it all in. I couldn't believe this. I had never, ever expected him to go this far. I knew he could be romantic. He'd constantly leave love letters in my locker, my car, beneath my pillow... little scavenger hunts for me to find whenever he was away... But this... it was unbelievable. "Edward," I whimpered, walking slowly toward the fireplace, "...I don't know what to say."

"Say that you love it... if that is the case."

"I more than love it," I sighed, my heart pounding in my chest. "...It's... I don't even know how to describe what I'm feeling."

He walked over to me, his hands behind his back, his emerald eyes sparkling with gold from the glow of the fireplace, "...I think I know what you're feeling."

"You do?"

"Mmhmm," he nodded contently, that dazzling crooked smile spreading across his lips, "...I'm feeling it too."

My heart sped up more, wondering if he was thinking he loved me... because that's all I was thinking. I knew I should say it, should tell him... But this... this was enough for now.

His left hand moved from his back, and he extended it toward me, "Come here," he whispered, his voice caressing me like velvet, those eyes of his trapping me within his soul. I couldn't breathe as I took his hand, allowing him to slowly pull me against his chest. My lips parted as I stared at the wonder of him, trying to figure out how the hell I got so lucky. His other arm wrapped behind my back, his fingers locking against me. Without saying a word, he swayed gently from left to right, in a sweet rocking motion. I fought back tears as I moved my hands up his arms, behind his shoulders. Was this really happening? Were we really here right now? Was this meant for what I'm thinking it was meant for?

He bent his knees and pressed his forehead to mine, "Stop thinking," he whispered, pecking my nose. "Just feel, okay?"

I nodded, closing my eyes. I allowed him to move us around the wooden floors, careful to not get too close to the fire or any of the candles. I pushed myself against him as far as I possibly could without us joining into one body. I wanted to nuzzle against him. I wanted to breathe him in and trap him in my being... he was already in my heart. That would forever be his. This night was proof of that. No other man deserved that spot but him. I didn't want to give myself to anyone else... How could I, now that I knew that someone like him existed?

I felt his fingers move behind my hair, against the back of my neck. Edward tilted his head to the left and pressed his mouth beneath my left ear, kissing delicately. My heart sputtered. I moved my hands up his chest, beneath the flaps of his jacket. Without a word, I pushed the flaps back, off his shoulders, praying he'd be okay with me removing the jacket. I just wanted more of him... fewer boundaries. Thankfully, he smiled against my skin, allowing it to fall onto the bare floors. I shivered when his right hand ran down the back of my dress, down the opening and back up, toward the fastening on the collar around my neck. For a moment, I thought he was going to unfasten it. But then I heard the distinct sound of pearls clicking as he removed my necklace and dropped it on top of the jacket.

While we kissed, our tongues winding slow and savoring, I pulled on his shirt, untucking it from his pants. Edward held me tightly against him, making it difficult to release the front. Smiling, I pulled my neck back and looked up at him. "Give me your hand." Grinning, Edward did as I asked, and I carefully led him over the flowers and roses, onto the mattress. We dropped to our knees in front of each other, and Edward reached for my right leg. He bent over slowly, and kissed my knee, my shin, and the side of my calf, while he unfastened and slid my heel off. I leaned back on my palms and smiled nervously as he mimicked his actions with the other leg.

Once our shoes were off, we sat back on our heels, our legs folded beneath us, hands in our laps, and stared calmly at each other. This night felt so different, the atmosphere between us intensified. Everything felt so new, so untouched. More special. Throughout our relationship thus far, Edward and I had taken time to explore sexual desires with each other. I was more open, more comfortable, finding out how he enjoyed things than I was allowing him to do them to me. I was generally too worried and self-conscious about oral sex. I always thought myself so much less in comparison to him, not worthy of him. Even though I knew he cared for me, and felt he only had eyes for me, I just... could never relax over that particular issue. Not receiving, anyway. But I loved the way his hands felt on my skin. Loved the way his kisses created a frenzy within my body, those warm lips and soft tongue that alone could almost bring me to my peak... His little pants and moans, the skip of his heart beat when he lay across my chest, his long fingers creating a beautiful silent melody as they roamed my inner-thighs... Edward treated me as if my body were a classical piano, my cries for him the music he was composing.

As time went by, our experiences grew. We had mastered the art of clothed dry sex, grinding against each other until the friction took us both to a place we hadn't found before. My first orgasm in the presence of another person came on a night when neither of us had been able to pull away, too high strung and caught up in feelings. At first, I was embarrassed as hell. But, when Edward immediately followed me over that edge, we both laughed as our bodies cooled. The things we made each other feel were amazing. We'd mastered first and second base, as many times as we'd done that now.... even third from me to him, with his kind words and willingness to be patient and instruct me on the little things, like being careful with my teeth, or how to use my hands in different motions to create different effects. But never, not once, did we try for the homerun. Of course, there were times we both wanted to, and quite a few when I think we would have, had our parents not come home, or if the phone didn't ring, or if we could have afforded the expense of skipping school that one day...

But now, we were here. I wasn't sure if Edward planned it this way, possibly wanting to make sure that I wasn't a minor, since he had turned eighteen in June. Or, was it that the surroundings and the road for us was mapped out before he and I were even thought of? All I knew was he was there, I was there, and I wanted to try.

I hoped he did too.

"Edward," I exhaled slowly, calmly, "I really... I couldn't have asked for anything more amazing than this. Thank you, for everything. You mean so much to me... more than you know."

He smiled admiringly. "So do you, Bella."

My heart sputtering, I crawled closer to him and covered the back of his hands with my palms, "...Just because I'm thanking you for this night... doesn't mean it has to be over yet."

His tongue trailed across his bottom lip, those liquid-green eyes molding into emerald diamonds, "We don't... I mean... That's not why I..." Edward exhaled, finding his thoughts. "I don't want to do anything that you're not ready for, Bella. I did this because I wanted to show you what you deserve, what I can give you. Every plan I see for my future... whatever is going to be good for my life... I see you beside me, along for the ride. I want you there. Any time that I try to imagine myself without you, for whatever reason, all I see is darkness and all I feel is bitter-cold. It scares me, knowing that could be my life if I ever lose you."

"What makes you think you're going to lose me?" I asked as I reached up and stroked the side of his face with my fingertips.

"You know what they say about things when you feel your life is too good," he whispered, leaning into my touch. "It slips through your fingers like sand."

I moved even closer, our knees touching. "We'll grip tighter then. Keep our fingers together."

"And if something pulls us apart?"

I studied his eyes, wanting to make sure he knew how irreplaceable he was to me. "If anything pulls us apart, ...then we'll find each other again, I promise. But we don't have to think about that now. Okay? We shouldn't think about things that haven't happened, shouldn't be wishing for the worst..." I raised my back, and pressed my chest against his, throwing my arms around his neck. "Let's just be together... Here... Now..."

He tilted his head, his eyes melting deep into my soul as he studied me.

"...Do you want to?" I asked breathlessly, too overwhelmed by his presence.

He nodded slowly, "Yes, Bella. I do."

"I do too," I replied, as my hands moved to the tie around his neck. I loosened and untied it, before pulling the silk fabric down with my fingers. The atmosphere intensified, glowing embers from the fireplace, flickers from the candlelight surrounding us, petals touching the bare parts of my legs where my dress wouldn't cover... Edward leaned forward and pressed his lips to my bottom one, trapping it tightly, nibbling. His lashes fluttered closed against my skin, sending shivers down my spine. I fought back a moan as I started to undo the buttons of his shirt. I couldn't even let go of the tie. It seemed every time his lips enveloped mine, certain parts of my brain turned off. I tilted my head, giving him more much-craved access, and opened my mouth wider. I had to have him on my tongue. I craved the mint taste on his lips, the tingling as our breath crashed together. I hummed his name before our tongues met, his warm and inviting, sweeping mine and pulling it back in his mouth. Sighing, I threw my arms around his neck again, desperate to have more of his warmth.

Edward's arms wound around my back and he sat up on his knees, so we could blend more easily. It seemed so simple, the flow of everything. My breath sputtered when I felt him bend me backward, and noticed one hand feeling around behind me. Tentatively, his hand found my legs and he moved them to the side, so I could lay on my back comfortably, him above me. My lips shook and my body shivered as I watched him lower himself down.

His right hand trailed along my thigh, pushing my dress up, the sound of the silk and sheer fabric moving against the sheets echoing in the silence of the room. Our lips parted and he pressed his forehead to mine. "You feel so incredible, Bella... Just like this," he claimed as he massaged my outer thigh. "I love your legs." They love you too, I thought, fighting back the urge to wrap them around his waist. I would wait. I would, I would, I would. "Thank you," I whispered as I brushed a fallen lock of hair from his eyes. My thumb moved to his bottom lip, and I felt every ripple, every crease in the pink skin. My mouth watered in jealousy, knowing that my fingers were touching my most favorite place, and it wasn't. It almost seemed unfair. I could never get enough of him.

While we admired each other in the soft, dim lights, my fingers finished what they started, moving between us and unfastening the rest of his buttons. I bit my lip as I pushed the shirt off his shoulders and tossed it in the far corner, the furthest away from the fire. The heat between us combined with the heat of the flames made the room scorching hot. I knew there was a thin layer of sweat on my forehead. I could feel it where my hair stuck to me. Edward didn't seem to mind, dragging his lips from side to side across it. "You taste incredible," he whispered, humming soundly, his throat vibrating in approval. "I hope... one day... you'll let me taste you wherever I please..."

My cheeks warmed and I shut my eyes, swallowing away the nervous feeling he always brought with those comments. "One day... I promise."

His lips moved down the side of my face, leaving tiny pecks by the corner of my eye, my cheek, the edge of my mouth. "I do hope so," he said, before kissing my lips.

I arched my back and pressed my chest firmly to his, threading my fingers through the bronzed hair I loved so much. "Edward," I gasped when we broke away for air, hitching my left leg over him and pulling his center closer to mine. "...Are you nervous?"

"I'm only nervous that I'm going to do something wrong," he admitted shyly as he massaged down my arms and ribs. "...You know how I feel about ever hurting you. I can't do it."

"I know," I swallowed thickly, holding onto him for dear life. "I...I'm nervous too."

"Nervous that I'm going to hurt you?"

"Not exactly... But this is very new... Scary."

"We don't hav-"

"No, I want to," I shook my head, rubbing his jaw. "I promise, I'm ready to try, I just... I want to tell you how I feel. Be honest."

"Honest?"

"Yes."

He smiled and pushed his face into my neck, inhaling my scent greedily. "Well honestly... I think you're beautiful..." he said, dragging his nose down to my collar bone. "And sweet," he continued, supplying a tender kiss there. "And tender..." he said, as he moved down between my breasts. "...and you have on far far too much clothing..."

I blushed feverishly and covered my face as he moved down my chest, kissing my stomach over my dress. While his mouth worked me in all the best ways, his hands continued to move my dress up toward my center, stopping when it wouldn't budge past my hips. I giggled and bit my lip, lifting my hips to help him, and knocking his chin by accident. He smirked and pushed my dress up, then lay me back down carefully. His hands found mine and he pulled me up so he could pull the dress over my head easily. My hair slowly fell down in bouncy curls, across my shoulders and down my back, feathery to the touch. Edward shook his head slowly, sitting back on his knees. "Perfect," he murmured.

I blushed again, wearing only my strapless bra and lace panty-set. I felt under his power, like I was being consumed quickly. Sure, he'd seen me in this, and bikinis before.. But I'd always been self-conscious about my body. Any time we'd play around, I'd always, always keep my panties on... but tonight, I couldn't do that. Tonight was about taking chances, exploring deeper boundaries. It was a huge step. The more I thought about it, the more nervous, and more willing I became. It was too emotional, too mind-numbing, thinking about how I was about to give myself over to him. I did what I could to focus on him, to stay in the moment. It was too important to lose track of. I wanted to memorize every detail of how Edward appeared, how he looked at me, how he touched me. I wanted to save this night and find it in a book later, so I could reread it like an old classic. The kind you never grow tired of.

"I don't think I'll ever grow tired of you looking at me like that," I sighed, pulling him down on me again.

"Like what?"

"Like I'm the most amazing thing you've ever seen in your entire life."

"Bella," Edward grinned, massaging my face with his thumb, "...you are the most amazing thing I've ever seen in my entire life."

I shut my eyes, wishing I could freeze time. Right here. Feeling the tenderness in his words, the warmth of his body... This was heaven to me.

Edward began to kiss down my neck and shoulders while I fumbled with his undershirt, grabbing it from the back to pull up over his head. He chuckled and paused to lift himself up so I could remove it, and then it met the collared shirt in the corner of the room. Finally, I was able to roam my fingernails down his tan chest, his firm pecks, rippled abs... I licked my lips at the sight of his feathery treasure trail, but it was quickly forgotten when he pushed his lips back to mine and blended with me into the soft mattress.

My heart continued to pound, hammering away with each touch of his lips or his fingers on my skin. I closed my eyes and nuzzled into the silk beneath me, trying to relax myself even more. His best friend Alice always told me that if I didn't relax, it'd hurt like hell. I should have been relaxing two weeks before this... No... it still wouldn't work. Any time I was with Edward, I was a live wire, ready to spark. It was the one thing that drove me crazy, yet spurred me on.

Edward's hands found my back and he pulled me up with him so that I sat and he was on his knees straddling my legs. I bit my lip and fumbled with his belt, yanking it out of the loops as quickly as possible. I don't know what came over me, but I suddenly felt as if I had a race to win. My hands worked with my mind, throwing the belt against the door. I ignored both the loud clunk the metal piece made when it connected with the frame, as well as Edward's laughter as I struggled with the button. When it didn't want to cooperate with me, I looked up at him and exhaled heavily, "Can I rip this?"

"My button?" he smirked, furrowing his brows.

"Yes, I can't get it..." I growled, tugging. Apparently I had no strength. The button wasn't going to budge, even when I yanked on it.

"Whoa, whoa, Bella," Edward laughed soothingly, covering my hands with his own, "let me help you." I leaned back on my palms and watched with fascination as he popped the button through the slit and unzipped his pants. As soon as he stood to step out of them, my entire body felt clammy. Oh crap, I thought to myself as my eyes widened, his black boxer briefs before me now. Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap. I'm in my panties, he's in those... it's getting close, Bella. Oh dear God. Ohhhhh kay, you can do this. You can do this. "Hey," his hand found my face, lifting my chin and my gaze from his pelvic region, "you alright, Angel?" I nodded quickly, licking my lips. "I'm fine."

Edward squatted down in front of me and pulled his wallet from his pants. "...Um..." He closed his eyes and looked down, almost blushing. He never blushes. But I knew what he was getting at.

"Do you have one in there?" I asked, grabbing it from his hands. He nodded. To make this the least awkward possible, I just held my breath, opened the wallet, and pulled it out from behind his license, before tossing the wallet in the corner as well. "No biggie," I shrugged, laying the condom beside me, "good thing you came prepared." He chuckled, shaking his head, brushing the hair out of my eyes. "My best friends are Emmett and Alice. Trust me, between their lectures and experience... we have more than enough of these to last us a good while."

Rolling my eyes, I grabbed a hold of his neck and pulled him down with me, before rolling over and laying on top of him. "Okay... so now what?"

His eyebrow cocked, his lips curled up in to one side. Damn, he was sexy. "Feisty, suddenly?"

I shrugged. "I just don't want to be freaking out in anticipation," I explained, shaking my head. "We both want this. We're here and we're together..."

Edward scratched his head, looking up at me in amazement. "This isn't a race. We don't have-"

I covered his mouth, cutting him off. "I didn't say it's a race, I just... I want to be with you. I have all this energy built up inside me, this frustration and anxiety...-"

"You look so sexy straddling me like this," he cut me of as his hands rubbed my hips.

I playfully slapped him on his chest. "Would you focus?" I giggled. "Come on, let's... let's not make this some big, huge, massive, stressful, event. I want to have fun. I want to be with you..."

"So you want to just hop right into it?" he laughed, rubbing his forehead. "I'm afraid it won't work that way. I'll kill you."

"I'm tough," I clarified quickly.

Edward sat up and rubbed my arms, sobering just a little. "Hey... Bella... Sweetheart... we're only allowed this night once. Just once. There will be plenty of other opportunities for us to screw like wild, rabid animals, and that will be fantastic. But tonight... I really want to give you something special. It's your birthday..."

Whimpering, I pushed myself closer to him, accidentally stirring things up between us. "I'm sorry. I know you do, but I also know that, if I'm being honest, the more we sit here and allow time to linger, the more I'm going to think about things and freak myself out."

Edward shut his eyes and pressed his forehead to mine, rocking me back and forth against him with his hands, creating a fired friction between us, sparking a little bit more with each pass. I clutched his shoulders and forced myself to keep quiet, to not think, to go with this. I didn't want to ruin it. His left hand slid up toward my bra, and he pressed between my breasts, "You're heart's pounding intensely," he stated, pushing his face into my neck.

"I know," I panted, clutching his hair with my fingers. "Always does around you." He smirked and licked my skin, from the base of my neck all the way up beneath my ear.

He kept his hand in place, and smiled against my skin, apparently liking my reaction to him. "It's going faster now."

I shivered, wrapping my legs around his waist. "Wait until later... it will probably threaten to jump out of my chest."

"Mmm," he hummed appreciatively, dragging his mouth up to hover over my lips, "I'll catch it."

I smiled and took his lips with my own, thrusting up against him. His hands clasped to my hips and he stilled me momentarily. I noticed something hard touching my inner thigh now, where I was straddling his lap. I bit down on his lip, forcing a groan from his throat, then swept my tongue across it as if I could soothe it that way. "Damn, Bella," he chuckled, his breathing picking up with mine. I kissed him again, this time sliding my tongue inside his mouth. I craved him. He was all I desired.

I moved my hand down between our bodies, where our centers were, and rubbed him through his shorts. Edward's breath hitched and he jerked his face from me, his eyes wild and darkened. "Mmm," he hummed, closing his eyes when my hand pressed firmer. "...Bella..."

"Yes?" I panted, pushing deeper with my hand and rocking harder above him with my hips.

He dropped his forehead down to my shoulder, his fingers pushed in and wrapped around the sides of my panties, gripping tight, "That feels so good."

"Does it?" I shivered, noticing how much sexier his voice was when it dropped low like that. Only on rare occasion did it get that low. It was the sexiest thing I had ever heard. "I like touching you," I whispered, dragging my hand up, then down, inside his boxers this time. "Do you want me to slow down?"

He shook his head slowly, his breath cascading across the skin of my shoulder like a waterfall. "Please don't." It came out as a desperate plea.

I licked my lips and arched my back. Sometimes when I'd pull my hand back up, my knuckles inside his underwear would brush along the seam of my panties, eliciting an involuntary gasp from me. Edward's hands were still frozen, but I took that as a sign that I was doing something right. My body was hot, my hair sticky, my heart sputtering, my mouth moist. "Edward," I panted, dropping my face down to the top of his head, "please... touch me."

He nodded silently, releasing my panties with his fingers and moving them up my ribs, over the swell of my breasts, then down between them. I whimpered, begging him to move faster, rougher. "Can I take this off, Bella?" he asked, roaming his hands around the back of my bra. As quickly as I nodded, his thumb and forefinger popped the clasp, and the black fabric fell between us since it didn't have any straps. Edward's forehead met my collarbone, and both his hands found the underside of my breasts. He clutched them gently, pushed them up toward his face, and breathed in between them... large, deep breaths.

I trembled as he drug his lips around my left breast in a circle, teasing me well, his fingers or lips never meeting where I wanted him the most. I moved my other hand inside his shorts and grasped him firmly, allowing my body to work all on its own. Faster, firmer I went, craving more to touch him at that moment, than needing him to touch me. I loved feeling his skin in my palms, gliding in my fingers. Loved how long he was, how thick he felt, how perfectly powerful this was, holding him like this.

"Don't stop," he groaned, finally taking my nipple into his mouth. I gasped and closed my eyes, feeling his tongue circle around it as he kept it inside. I arched my back further, pressing myself against my own knuckles, and stilled my hands.

"Edward," I panted, looking up at the glowing ceiling, "yesss, mmm...." I closed my eyes, enjoying the sucking sensation and noises his mouth created against my body. His fingers moved back to my hips and he gripped me tight, squeezing and kneading the skin there. His mouth continued on that one breast, while my other still matched its aching throb. I wished he could grow two heads in that moment. Two heads, both for me, even up the score... There were a lot of things I could do and enjoy if he had two heads... four beautiful emerald eyes... two sets of those perfect, pouty, moist pink lips.

I moaned at the thought and tugged his hair. I was leaning so far back and pushing so far into his lower half, I thought I'd conquered some sort of gymnastic move. Edward bit down gently on my swollen nipple, and I cried out his name, bending back as far as I could possibly go. His other hand moved to my lower back and he lifted us up, then pushed us forward and down onto the mattress.

"Edward," I gasped, when the sensation of his lips became too intense, "...shit...." He swirled his tongue around and sucked harder, his other hand finally reaching my right breast, to give it some sort of release. I melted into the covers, trying to catch my breath, as his mouth moved to my other nipple and his fingers took over where his tongue left off. "So good," I swallowed, shaking my head. "Mmmmm."

I'd never been one to make too much noise before this night. I had always felt awkward about it. But tonight everything was different. He felt too incredible, too delicious. I had to let him know what he was doing to me, needed him to understand how I felt about his touch. How could I keep quiet? The man owned me with his lips alone. And if not his lips, then his hair... and if not those bronzed locks, then his emerald greens... and if not his beautiful eyes, then his skilled, musical fingers... Oh, who was I kidding? Every single inch of his body owned me. Even his eyelashes... Damn, so long, and dark, and full... Ohh yes, those eyelashes...

Once Edward decided he'd given my breasts enough torture and release, he trailed his lips down, over the shell of my diaphragm, past my belly button. That was normally where I got nervous. "Edward," I gasped, grabbing his shoulders. "What are you doing?"

"Shhhh," he smiled up at me, that handsome face perfect with the light of the candles surrounding us. "I promise I won't take them off yet." He moved his head lower, trapping a sensitive spot on my left hip, where it met my pubic bone, and sucked hard. I gasped, my hips involuntarily lifting to meet him, and clutched the sheets. I had no idea that spot even existed It sure as hell didn't do that whenever I'd touch it.

"Edward," I cried again, shaking my head. Continuing to suck, his tongue met the tight skin between his lips, and he lapped delicately, before releasing with a pop. "You smell so good, Bella." He shut his eyes, pressing his face against my lower stomach. "You don't know how bad I want to..."

I bit my lip and closed my eyes, wishing I had enough courage to let him do it. Of course I wanted to know what it felt like. But it all seemed to risque, too vulgar. And I was mousy Bella Swan: Bookworm, not Bella Swan: Pornstar. "Soon," I promised him, brushing my fingers through his hair. He smiled and kissed the spot, before climbing back up my body, licking his lips against my own. My fingers found the waistband of his boxers and I pulled it away from his body, looking into his eyes, silently asking the question. He nodded slowly and I smiled up at him, pushing down as far as I could go. My leg slipped between his and I carefully pushed them down the rest of the way with my knee, and then my foot. Edward had never been fully naked like this before. Normally his jeans would just be undone, or around his knees. Now there was nothing on him but skin.

He pushed his forehead to mine and kissed the tip of my nose. "You next?"

I nodded my permission before I could think it through, and lifted my hips so he could pull them down easier. My breath hitched when I felt the cool air of the room on my most private area, now damp from reactions to his every breath and motion. Out of habit, I brought my finger up between us and bit down on my thumbnail, looking at him cluelessly. He shook his head, pulling my hand away as quickly as I'd brought it up. "No," he whispered to me, kissing tiny pecks across my bottom lip, "stay with me Bella. You know we don't have to do this. But, if we do, I want every part of you; heart, mind and body."

I nodded, responding to his request by wrapping my arms around his neck. "I'm all here, promise." I smiled as I felt the hardness of him against my leg, the short, soft hair surrounding… I knew he felt me as well. He was laying right over me, his lower stomach over that area... There was no doubt in my mind that I was nervous as hell. We'd just broken another wall in our relationship. There were few left from here.

Edward's hands massaged my entire body... from my neck, to my shoulders... my collar bone, my biceps, my forearms... beneath my breasts, my stomach, my ribs, my hips... He reached around beneath me and cupped generous portions of my butt with his hands, smiling to himself. "I'm going to adjust us a little," he explained, moving his legs from straddling my own. I closed my eyes and swallowed heavily as he pried my legs gently with his own. This was so new, my legs began to tremble as he lay back against me. This time, his hardness was on my inner thigh, and he could feel all of me now. I bit my lip, knowing that I was growing wet, that he would notice that too. I always got nervous about that, even when he told me not to, that it was natural and he loved making me that way.

My breath was heavy in my chest as I brushed my trembling fingers down his jaw line, before grasping the back of his shoulders. He was kissing down my neck, my ears, my chin... murmuring how beautiful I was, how perfect I felt to him... It felt nice, hearing those things, and it was soothing... but all I knew in the back of my head was, this was it.

My breath hitched and I closed my eyes to slow myself down, to soothe myself. I was getting worked up. Edward pressed his forehead to mine, his fingers sliding between our bodies, to the point where we were pressed together. Keeping my eyes closed, I felt his index finger slide along my form, meeting the entrance but not entering. I trembled in a combined wave of fear and willingness to see what would be next.

" God, Bella, I love to touch you. You feel so soft, so perfect." And then, Edward's lips found mine and parted them quickly, sweeping his tongue inside. Before I could register what was happening, I felt his finger enter me slowly, his wrist twisting when he couldn't go any further. I moaned into his mouth, silently begging for more. He bit down on my lip, sliding that magical, musical finger in and out carefully, his thumb teasing me up top.

"Edward," I cried out, panting. "Oh God..." He smiled and kissed me even harder, a second finger added into the mix. Even though my legs were tightened from the realization of how far we were heading, they also opened wider, giving him more room to explore me.

"I'm here, baby. Hold on to me." And, I did, wrapping my arms around his shoulders. And that was when I realized... I wanted him to explore me.

"More," I cried, clawing at his back, his neck, trapping his bronzed hair in my fingers and squeezing tight. The heat between our bodies was surreal, spreading into the room like a volcano... completely overflowing. I pushed my face into shoulder and swallowed deep, my free hand patting around the bed for the condom. I felt ready. I had to be ready now... right?

Once I found the wrapper, I clutched it in my fingers, while Edward added a third... There'd never been a third before... only my own, once, but never his, which were much bigger and longer than my own. "Edward," I trembled, kissing him tenderly. "I'm ready."

He pulled his face back an inch, looked at me in wonder. "I don't..." he swallowed, eyeing me speculatively. "Are your sure, Bella?" I nodded quickly, again, before I could think it through, "Yes. If you are, then I am too."

"Of course I am," he said softly, licking beneath my chin, to the dip in my collar bone. "I've wanted this since that first day I met you."

"...Thank you for waiting for me then," I replied, massaging the skin of his back with my free hand where I could reach. "But I don't want to wait any more. I'm ready now."

He nodded and pulled back on his knees, looking around the mattress. Blushing, I held my hand open in front of him, revealing the golden package. Edward smirked and took it from me, taking a deep breath. I bit my lip and closed my eyes, listened as he tore it open. I had to get my thoughts together. Had to remind myself that this was what I wanted, what I'd been wanting, what I'd fantasize about whenever I was alone... There couldn't be any other man worthy to me but him... If he was willing, then I was more than willing. It had to be Edward, my first time. When I looked back at this moment, I couldn't imagine remembering anyone else's face... or voice... or soul.... but his. No one else could fit in that spot.

I felt him moving around me, his hands finding my knees, "Bella..." he said, his voice soothing and velvety.

"Yeah?" I asked. My voice wasn't soothing. I knew he knew that I was nervous.

"Are you p-"

"I want you, Edward," I cut him off, forcing my eyes open to meet and lock on his. "You."

I could see the condom on him, the wrapper on the floor beside the mattress. He bent down and kissed up my right leg, my hip, my ribs, my arm, my shoulder... all the way to my lips. He nestled himself between my legs. Oh dear God.... "Look at me," he demanded powerfully, though his voice was nothing but love. Our eyes met again and I pushed my arms beneath his, wrapping my hands around to clutch his shoulders. "We'll go slowly." He began, kissing my mouth while he kept his eyes on mine. "And carefully...." He kissed again, humming into my skin. "And if I hurt you, I want you to tell me the truth, Bella..." he said, kissing the opposite corner of my mouth, "...I don't have any problems stopping, do you understand?"

I nodded, gripping him tighter. My legs trembled against his. Everything was so new, even the way we were laying. I felt connected already. "I want you to keep your eyes on me for a moment," he whispered, pressing his forehead to mine, "...I know how you are, and you'll lie to me. But I know your eyes like the back of my hand... I'll know if you look at me, whether or not you're hurting." While he spoke, his fingers kept massaging my skin, making me as loose as possible. I never thought I'd think this before, but in this case... loose was a good thing. I wanted to be loose.

I gave a nod in agreement and tried to relax my body, calm myself like the candlelight and petals surrounding us... This really was pretty... the silk sheets... the surroundings... my boyfriend. I took a steady breath and locked eyes with him, before lifting my head to kiss his chin. "Take me," I whispered delicately, my voice light but sure. "Please."

Edward's throat vibrated and his lashes fluttered to a close, and then... he kissed me. He kissed me so slowly, so passionately that my head spun... The way his soft lips melted against mine, fitting perfectly, no matter how we tilted our heads. His warm, soft, moist tongue, taking control over mine, swirling tenderly and lovingly. He tasted of everything I ever wanted, fantasized about for years... Mint and destiny. That's all I could describe that kiss to be.

His hand moved between us while he kissed me, and then I felt the tip of his body touching the outer area of me, sliding up and down gently. I gasped in his mouth but he shook his head, continued to kiss me, making me even more dizzy. I sealed my eyes as he pushed a centimeter deeper, opening me up, stroking me with his own form. I wanted to gasp and cry and jump for joy at the feel of him. Another wall had crumbled. We were touching, in the most intimate way... Just touching... stroking like our tongues... It truly was magical, the way it felt. I barely even noticed the thin barrier of the condom between us. All I wanted to feel was skin, and that's what I imagined it to be.

I felt his lashes flutter open and I followed suit, keeping my promise to him. It scared me, knowing he knew the emotions I kept behind my eyes. But if this was what he wanted, I could give it to him. Besides, I loved the way he looked at me, the way his eyes trapped me inside of them and sheltered me from the rain and dark of the world. The emotions between us echoed in my ears, and I felt tears prick toward the edge of my eyes. I was so overwhelmed, so strung up from everything between us. I swallowed thickly and gasped for air, while he continued to strum our bodies together. I opened my mouth, desperate to tell him I loved him for once, tell him something... but nothing came out. I couldn't release the tears that threatened, and I tried not to. We were right there though... He hadn't even entered me, and yet, I'd never felt more connected to him than at that moment.

It was a ground-breaking moment, and here we were, smack in the middle of it. There was so much beauty floating between us. I could hear it in my ears, against the pillows, spreading along the silk sheets, up and over our bodies. Any time I'd blink, I could almost see it. I wanted to stay right there with him, and feel like this for eternity. It didn't matter if my body was clammy and layered in sweat. It didn't matter about anything. He was sharing himself with me. Right then, looking into his eyes, it seemed to be an endless road of wonder. I was mesmerized, just watching him. I always knew his eyes were powerful, but... there, in that moment... it overtook me.

Edward pressed his forehead to mine, clammy to clammy, and trapped my face with his left hand. "You're so beautiful," he whispered, massaging my jaw with his thumb. He moved himself lower against me with his other hand, and then I felt him... right there. I bit my lip and held my breath, but didn't shut my eyes. I knew what he was thinking, silently questioning me one last time. But I couldn't process much. So I nodded blankly.

Edward's open lips hovered over mine, both trembling, anticipation high, eyes connected. And then he gently pushed forward. My eyes widened but his stayed focused and calm, more for me than for himself. I could definitely feel the burning and stretching, and I tried to keep telling myself that something would give way and it'd go smoother. I tried to tell Edward that with my eyes. But it seemed the pain wasn't going to stop. I bit my lip and winced and Edward stilled immediately, brushing my face with his fingers. He waited for a moment and pulled back, then pushed forward to the same spot and stilled again. The only way to describe the feeling was burning. It hurt the way it hurts your muscles lock down, like a charley horse after a long run.

I pulled my arms from beneath his and threw them around his neck, holding him to me. I needed his embrace. I needed our heartbeats to meet. Maybe that'd calm me down. "I'm sorry," he whispered, shaking, kissing all over the side of my face where I wasn't pressed to him. I tried not to think of the fact that he wasn't even completely inside me and it hurt that bad, so that made the rest of it seem scary. He pulled completely out and slid his hands between our bodies, massaging me there to relax. I shut my eyes and a tear fell down the left side, one I wasn't even aware I was holding. It fell straight down my face and onto the mattress. Edward noticed since his head was on that side. His hand found the back of my neck and he lay me gently beneath him, holding his weight with his other arm. Now it was my turn to apologize. Crying was definitely not going to help our situation we had going here.

"I'm sorry," I shivered, massaging his arms. "Let's try again."

"Wait a second," he whispered, kissing the drying trail of salt and water from the corner of my eye. "Just breathe for a minute. Relax. There's no rush, baby." I nodded and calmed my breathing as I started to enjoy what his fingers were doing to me. It was the most erotic massage he'd ever given me, that I'd ever had period. No place was untouched. I lifted my neck and pushed my face into his collar bone, trying to drown in the sweat against his beautiful skin. I kissed him there and tasted him on my tongue, and it too calmed me. Minutes passed, my legs relaxed, and I felt like I was ready again, thanks to his teasing fingers.

"Bella, do you still want this?" He pressed his forehead to mine once more, eyes still locked on mine. This was exactly why I knew Edward would always be my all. No matter how much he wanted me, needed me, he always put me first. And, if I asked him to stop right now, he would, and he'd never be mad at me. ,

"Edward, please. I'm okay. I need you." So he kissed me again, trying to burn away my pain with his passion, while he attempted to push again. This time his fingers tried to help and I knew he'd gone further, but then as shortly as the relaxation came, the burning stretch was back. I bit down on his lip and clutched handfuls of his hair, trying to distract myself. Edward was wonderful, waiting where he was, or moving back and pushing forward to that same area and waiting again. But, the slightest centimeter past that hurt like hell, and he saw it in my eyes.

I dropped my head onto the pillows beneath us, begging myself not to get frustrated. This was the way things go sometimes, my friends told me. Sometimes it takes a while. "Okay," I exhaled, rubbing his face. "I'm okay."

"You're doing great," he smiled, my favorite lopsided smile, and I couldn't figure out how in the hell he was so patient with me. I knew how wonderful sex was supposed to be for men. I knew most girls who were virgins didn't get someone so understanding as my boyfriend. They'd have men that just pushed through it without care and concern for them. I knew how lucky I was, and the more and more I thought about it, the more frustrated I became. "Don't be upset, Bella," he said calmly, kissing my neck. "This is supposed to be special."

"It is special," I argued, shaking my head as more tears slipped from the corners of my eyes. "Which is why it's frustrating me. Everything is perfect, the room, the date, you, everything... and here I am, and my body is being dumb and not working with me. I don't want you to think I don't want this, because I do. Why can't things just cooperate?"

"Everyone is different," he said, moving the hair from my face. "It's not something that we shou-"

"Why? You know because you've taken a lot of people's virginity?" I snapped without thinking, immediately feeling guilty. I shut my eyes, shaking my head. "I'm sorry. Edward, I'm sor-"

"Hey," he smirked, not taking offense, because he was truly an angel and not a hot-blooded man. "The only person I have any concern over the taking of her virginity is you. All I'm saying is it's a big deal and everyone is different. I don't want you to be upset over this."

"I'm sorry." I reached forward, but he wiped my eyes before I got to it. "Can we try again?"

"Of course," he replied as he lifted himself above me, "but maybe we should try to... make you more comfortable."

"How?"

He bent forward slowly and licked my neck, all the way up my ear. I hummed appreciatively as his fingers massaged the balls of my shoulders, my collar bone, my forearms. Edward bent down and kissed the inside of my right elbow, a hot, open-mouthed kiss. It sent shivers all the way to my toes, and quickly relaxed my mind. I licked my lips and stroked his hair while he his face hovered over my breasts, spreading hot air and tingles across my nipples, down over my diaphragm, and around my belly-button. His thumbs massaged all the pressure points, on my hips, my ribs, my sides... All the while his mouth planting kisses and gentle licks against my mid-section. I slid my legs up and down his sides, quivering and loving every move he made. It was things like this that made me more than excited about us being together so intimately. His mouth knew me like his fingers knew a guitar. Every chord, every string, every note... I was mapped out before him, at the mercy of his fingers. Happily submerged in him.

Edward's hands trailed between my legs again, his middle finger finding my sweet spot, and his index and ring massaging the surrounding area. I shivered and locked eyes with him while the pleasure began to intensify quickly. I'd never locked eyes with him like this, but I couldn't help it tonight. There was no room for embarrassment. The beauty of his touch was all-consuming. He smiled at me and steadied his pace, making sure not to be too rough or too light.... Ohhh, the ways he knew me. Beyond my control, I began to writhe beneath him, arching my back. "More," I begged, feeling my breasts match the arousal he was giving me between my thighs. I was aching in all the best ways. Edward kissed the inside of my knees and pressed a bit harder with his fingers. It was as if I were lifting off of the bed, flying into the sky. I kept calling his name, shouting words that didn't exist. He made me feel so good.

Edward grabbed a hold of my legs and before I could think, he'd thrown them around his waist, making our centers touch even more and my eyes widen at the new contact. My body was still shaking, high off of my almost-release. Edward situated us and smiled softly, dropping his hands beside my head. "If it doesn't work, then don't be upset, baby, please. We have all the time in the world to do this."

I nodded, roaming my fingers up his muscular arms, to his broad shoulders. I could see the heat from my body in the candlelight, now that he was holding his upper-body away from me. I licked my lips and met his eyes and brushed my thumb across that bottom lip I loved so much. He smiled into my touch and inhaled deeply, then pushed with his lower body. I could feel him entering again and that part wasn't as bad. My body stretched to accommodate him and sure, it still hurt a little, but it was okay... Doing okay... Doing okay... "Holy shit," I exhaled, my eyes widened. There was pain still, yes, but there was a thrill too. I could feel a part of him, sliding in and out of me, easier with each move. We were here...

I thought this was it. I thought we were going to make it and the excitement was showing in my eyes, and I was getting anxious, and then it felt like he hit a wall. And I cried out.

Edward froze in place, body trembling, and eyes closed, breaking contact with me. Once I couldn't see his eyes, a wave of nerves hit me, the realization that his body was somewhat inside me came hard, and it dawned on me where we were at. We both blew out a gust of wind while he steadied himself. I listened as a groan escaped his lips, something he'd been trying to hold inside but couldn't any longer. "Shit," he gasped, dropping carefully onto my chest and burying his face into my neck, "this -- you -- feel so good right here. Unnngh..." I nodded in acknowledgment that I'd heard him, that I was glad it was feeling good to him. But me personally... I was still trying to find air. Don't lock up, Bella. Don't lock up, don't lock up, oh my God... "Are you o-okay?" he asked me, and I quickly shrugged my shoulders. I don't know if I was okay. I didn't understand how, with how deep our emotional connection was, and how badly I wanted this, why it hurt. There was lubrication on the condom, I knew I was aroused. I just didn't comprehend.

The intimacy of the moment engulfed me for the first time, and I felt I was lost at sea. Bobbing and spinning and flipping beneath the surface, struggling to break the waves but unable to figure out which way was up and which way was down. My thoughts were twirling in my mind at a rapid pace, but I couldn't grasp any of them. I felt out of control, trapped in emotion, and frozen in reality. Edward's hands began to massage my breasts, my stomach, my ribs. "Doing good, Angel..." He was fighting the urge to thrust. I could feel him pulsing inside of me, another new revelation we'd made. "We're right there," he reassured me, his voice velvety-smooth, but low and raspy at the same time. "I think we're at the barrier, baby. That's why you're hurting."

"Oh," I replied shakily, pulling his face up to mine. He kissed me tenderly, with as much passion as he could muster. "Mmm," he hummed, licking my bottom lip. It felt better whenever he'd kiss me like this, to the point of making me dizzy. But as soon as he'd pull away to catch his breath, I'd panic again. After a long make-out session, Edward's eyes steadied with mine once more. "I'm right here with you," he said. "All the way, no matter what happens, beautiful." I nodded while our fingers intertwined. Though I was stressed and everything was new, my body feeling strange and awkward, I still felt content holding hands with him. Little things like this were what meant the most. "You mean so much to me," he reassured me. "You're my whole world."

I nodded, trying to stay relaxed. "You're mine as well." And I love you, I thought to myself. I love you so much Edward.

He kissed my lips one more time, and after a few of small thrusts, he pushed forward, and steadily broke my barrier. Right then and there, the feelings overtook me, going from pleasure to pain instantly. I cried and pushed on his chest, "Wait, stop. Owwww, ow, ow, ow." He gasped and tightened the muscles in his arms, "I'm sorry, Bella. I'm so sorry, baby. What do I do? W-What can I do to-" When he tried to move back, it hurt worse. "Wait," I begged, trembling beneath him. "Please just... don't move yet." I couldn't even unlock my legs from around his waist. It. Just. Hurt.

He gave a nod, carefully lowering his upper-body and kissed my lips, trying to relax me. It wasn't working. "I'm so sorry, baby." he whispered, his lips meeting my eyelids, my forehead, my nose, my mouth. "...I know you're hurting..." I gasped in pain, felt the panic attack coming. I just lost my virginity. I was no longer a virgin and neither was he. This was real. "Ow," I whispered again, shivering. Edward's arms curled beneath my body and he hugged me. As tight as he could. If he couldn't take my pain away, then he was going to remind me that he was there with me.

"Come on, baby," he whispered. "We have to move, or you're going to tighten more, and it will hurt you worse. I don't want that, I can't... I can't handle hurting you like this." I blew out a gust of wind and nodded quickly. Hissing, Edward pulled back and pushed his face into my forehead, burying the groan that came from his lips. I clawed at his shoulders and sealed my eyes tight, until he was parted from me. Then I collapsed beneath him. My legs trembled like crazy. My body was pulled as tight as one of the strings on Edward's guitar. My mouth was completely dry. He tried to soothe me, massage my skin, but I couldn't calm down. All I kept doing was apologizing to him. And all he kept doing was apologizing right back.

"Okay," he whispered, kissing my lips when we momentarily calmed down, "I think we should stop for the n-"

"I think we should too," I nodded quickly. I didn't want to try anymore. I was exhausted, sore and wound way too tight. Though he was perfect, charming, and everything I'd dreamed of, this night wasn't as successful as I imagined it being.

Edward removed the condom and lifted me in his arms, before standing up. He was careful to step around the obstacle of candles as he carried me into the bathroom that connected between the two main bedrooms of the cabin. Kissing my lips, he placed me into the empty tub and began to fill it up with hot water. My panic attack was still there, but not as bad. All I kept thinking was, I just lost my virginity. "Please don't leave me," I grabbed his arm when he began to walk away.

"No sweetheart," he reassured me, kissing my head. "I'm not, I'm just going to blow out the candles and... make sure everything is okay for us to sleep on. I'll come right back." I held my breath the entire time he was away. The hot water both tightened and loosened my muscles as the tub filled up. My heart beat wildly out of my chest.

I knew sex was going to be overwhelming. But I didn't expect to be so overtaken with emotions. I smelled him on my skin, even when he was in the other room. Felt the lingering tingles of his fingertips against my skin. I tasted him in my mouth. He was everywhere, even when he wasn't there... And I had the strangest feeling that, no matter how much soap I used, this wouldn't go away. Edward would always be here, pressed into my being. What we did, it was beautiful though it wasn't complete. We would always be a part of each other this way.

Edward thankfully returned, and ran his fingers through my hair as he sat some towels beside my head, and a single candle on the side of the tub. He didn't turn the lights on, which I was grateful for. He knew I'd be insecure about it right now. He always knew me better than I knew myself. "Do you have room in there for me?" he asked gently, massaging my neck. I nodded quickly and almost bit my lip off as he climbed in and sat facing me. We held hands as we looked at each other, and didn't say a word for several minutes. His touch was what I needed, the only thing that'd slow my thoughts. "Any regrets?" he asked eventually, rubbing each finger of mine. There was such genuine concern in his voice and in his eyes that I wanted nothing more than to soothe it away.

"No," I whispered, shaking my head. "I mean... I'm sorry that it wasn't... what I thought it was going to be, that we didn't get to actually..." my voice trailed off as I flushed in embarrassment, "but... I'm glad that it was you who... did that for me."

"I'm not sorry either. Well, I am that I hurt you. You have no idea how sorry I am for that." His voice trailed off as he looked away and I could hear the guilt in his voice when he said it. "But, I'm glad that it was you, too, Bella." Again, that soft smile. This time, there was a hint of…something else there, though. He exhaled, shrugging his shoulders. "You know... you're everything, Bella..." He kissed the back of my hand before trailing his up my arms, over my shoulders to my neck. "You're what I want the most in this world."

With his eyes locked on mine, he slowly pulled me forward, sliding my legs over his. Though our lower bodies never touched, he wrapped his arms around my shoulders and tucked my head beneath his chin, wrapping me in his comfort.

"You're all I want too," I smiled, inhaling the scent from his chest. We didn't speak too much after that. We held each other until the water began to chill, washed up, and then climbed beneath the covers. All the candles had been blown out and moved to the side, the only light visible now was from the fireplace. Edward held me tight in his arms and after some comforting whispers back and forth, we fell asleep.

I woke up a few times that night, feeling more upset about us not being able to finish. But I didn't tell him my feelings. I was just happy enough knowing he wasn't angry with me about it, that he was man enough to still care for me after this. It gave me hope, knowing that he saw what was beautiful in this imperfect path we just crossed.

Edward always gave me hope.


----AUTHOR'S NOTES----

So there we go, Outtake #8!

Thoughts? There's plenty more to come, so stick around!! AND REVIEW!!!
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