Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. I don't own Twilight.

This disclaimer may only be posted once or on every second chapter. It's right here and it applies to all chapters, outtakes and whatever else may arise in relation to False Pretenses.

Author's Note: Massive thanks and hugs to my Project Team Beta beta's for this chapter: SavageWoman and LightStarDusting. And then to my beta/prereader TillyWhitlock who helped me rework the chapter further.


"You often meet your fate on the road you take to avoid it."
-French proverb

~/~

PREFACE

Fate.

That one word decides your life, and you have no control over it. Fate is centric in all our lives. Whether we choose to ignore it or embrace it is a different story.

Fate is your "meant to be." Your fate is indomitable before the dawn of time and is completely unchangeable. Fate is not negotiable. Changing, escaping or altering fate is not an option, but an impossibility. You can try to run from fate, but it'll only find you, time and time again.

Fate can play God. You can't hide. They are separate entities, yet still hold absolute, unrelenting control. Fate is much like a puppet master and his strings.

Cheating, escaping or changing fate is impossible. Fate is unwavering and unquestionable. There are no exceptions. No coincidences. Everything happens for a reason.

Escaping fate can be likened to an amateur playing in a world-class poker game. No matter what cards you are dealt or how much you practise for the match, you won't win. You are up against a whole different league of players.

Much like human beings and fate.

Fate will happen. It's a matter of waiting for it. The specifics of your future vary depending on your situation. Though, one answer remains the same. That question being why? The unchanging answer: because it's meant to be.

What I've intended to be an escape from fate ended up being the catalyst. No one could foretell what was to come.

I've spent my life attempting to change fate by running from it, but it just wasn't in the cards for me. My efforts were in vain; fate would always find me.

Running away is an interesting metaphor. There's only one reason why people ever run-away: avoidance. Everyone who avoids knows that it can't last forever. The little bubble they build to keep themselves safe will burst. People accepting your running away only provides fuel to the fire. You begin to believe that running away is okay, acceptable or normal even. But like all runaways, eventually you are caught at a crossroads. It has to come to an end. In what visible or invisible form the last card comes in, it's dealt. And now I have to play my hand. But it is futile.

Now I'm blocked. Fate has found me, and I have no other choices. I have to stop running.


CHAPTER ONE: GOODBYE SEATTLE

Edward POV

Brown hair, closed eyes with fluttering eyelashes and pouty lips moved closer towards me. Closer, closer, closer... Her lips came closer and my hand twisted into the hair at the nape of her neck. I shut my eyes slowly and was about to lean in and close the remaining distance between us when I heard a slightly familiar voice break into my concentration.

I opened my eyes and tried to look for the source of the distraction but came up short. When I turned back to Bella to ask if she knew what was going on, I screamed.

She was disappearing, blowing away in sand. At a later time I would realize that the scene before me was reminiscent to the film Jumanji but I couldn't concentrate on that now.

I was losing her.

I screamed for her to come back to me and tried to grab at the vanishing Bella, but she never did. Despair and meaninglessness took over.

My heart was beating fast and hard. I was sweating buckets and dying inside.

She was gone. Now, how would I-

I jolted awake before my nightmare ended. My eyes fluttered open, disoriented. Upon realizing that it had all just been a dream, I slapped my hand blindly at my alarm clock several times before I hit the right button to shut it up. After the blaring noise stopped I realized the slightly familiar voice that interrupted in my dream. It was the local radio host of Seattle's own KMPS. Otherwise known as my alarm clock's set radio station.

I rubbed at my eyes and groaned at everything that was being dredged up by my nightmare. They happened sometimes. Not so often anymore, but they occurred every now and then. Particularly, when an event related to her was close.

Burying feelings and memories. A day in the life of Edward Cullen.

Putting everything related to her out of my mind, as I had become very familiar with doing, I stretched and made a start on my day.

Besides, those days were long behind me.

After getting dressed, I trekked over to the sink in my bathroom. Turning on the tap and splashing my face with cold water to wake me up came next. Efficiently woken up, I placed the head of my toothbrush under the stream of water and then turned off the tap. Drawing a line of Crest onto my toothbrush, and sticking it into my mouth, I stared at my reflection while brushing my teeth.

My green eyes looked tired at this hour of the morning, and my bronze hair was messy, as usual. It was untamable, so I wouldn't even bother. My phone's ringtone snapped me out of my self-assessment.

Let me know that I've done wrong, when I've known this all along.

I go around a time or two, just to waste my time with you...

I smiled to myself when Jasper's ringtone, "Dirty Little Secrets," blared from my cell in my room. I ran out of my bathroom, with my toothbrush in my mouth, into the disaster zone to answer the call. I must have looked like a hurricane in my search for my phone, rummaging through piles of dirty clothes on the floor. He'd stolen my phone and changed his ringtone. It should have been Muse. Offending my ears with that pop shit, ugh. It was almost unforgivable.

Tell me all that you've thrown away, find out games you don't wanna play.

You are the only one that needs to know. I'll keep you my dirty little secr-

I picked up the phone, tore the toothbrush out of my mouth, and spoke into the receiver.

"Jazz. What's up, my man?"

"Where the fuck are you, Cullen? Are you coming for last day or not?"

Our school was closing down. It had been the attack of an arson at the start of holidays, and the whole main building burnt down. Insurance covered it but there wasn't enough time to rebuild, and several parents enrolled their students elsewhere. There weren't enough returning students so we all had to move. Usually the enrolment application deadline would have been closed already, but the Education Department put out a notice to nearby schools so they'd be making an exception for us.

It was our last day today. It wasn't a school day, it was more of a farewell party our school was holding for us. Summer break was nearly over. Today was Friday, and the new school year started on Monday. Those going to boarding schools would leave earlier, but otherwise people would start senior year the following Monday.

"Relax, I'm coming. I just slept in. Jess just left."

Jasper stifled a laugh on the other end as I rolled my eyes.

"Booty call, eh? She's lucky you let her sleep over for once."

"Are you fucking kidding? First, I didn't touch that shit. She was whining and wouldn't leave. Second, it's the first time she's even been in my house. You know this."

It was true. She was my partner for the special project our class decided to do. We had one really cool teacher, in particular, and had decided to make a scrapbook for her. Unfortunately, my mother had ran into Jessica's mom at the general store, and I'd been roped into assisting Jess with the farewell present to Mrs. Palmers.

Though Jess may have wanted something more to happen, it didn't. I think she slept over and insisted it was "too dangerous to drive at this ungodly hour" in hopes for the something more.

It was 10:30 at the point she declared it too late. God, the extent some would go.

"Hm, you really need to choose one girl. You're like a walking ad for every sexually transmitted dis-"

I cut him off and changed the subject. He liked to tease me about the false rumors. Idiot.

"Look, Alice and I will be over in ten, 'kay?"

"Sure."

With that, I hung up the phone. I stuck my head out my door and yelled down the stairs to Alice, telling her that we were leaving in a minute. The pixie took way longer than any other human to get ready. Jasper and Alice had been dating for the past two years, and she had never been happier... or taken longer getting ready. I'd never understand girls and the importance of clothes and makeup to them.

Alice was tiny. She had short raven-black hair and hazel eyes. She was as graceful as me and used it to her advantage. Alice was the human incarnate of the Energizer bunny. She was tireless and had the kindest heart. I loved her dearly and was proud to call her my sister.

She did have her faults, though. She was most definitely not perfect. Alice was cunning, devilish, and had this uncanny way of knowing what was going to happen ahead of time. When she got all Madame Fate on everyone, she had this way of looking at you with the beady eyes of a hawk. The girl missed nothing. It was creepy.

She was the best sister a guy could ask for, and I'd be nowhere without her.

Thank God she was dating Jasper so guys didn't put the moves on her often. She could stand on her own, though. She looked nimble, delicate, and like someone who'd cower in a corner in a dark alley, but I knew better.

I'd been on the receiving end of her wrath and her strength. It was embarrassing as all fuck, but she had tiny, magic flailing limbs that hurt like a bitch.

She was lucky most guys knew my rep and backed the fuck off her. After Mike, people didn't attempt to hurt Alice any more. I was protective of her, but with her type of friends and the guys fawning over her, I'd say I was pretty justified.

I supposed Alice and I were close because we could relate to a certain extent. I was the school's quarterback, and she was a cheerleader. We both understood the students in our school were all plastic and fake. They would use you to get what they wanted. Everyone had a motive. I was older than Alice by two minutes, born to our parents Carlisle and Esme.

I started up the Volvo five minutes later with Alice in the backseat. The drive to Jasper's, with my impeccable skills, took three minutes. We pulled up to the Spanish influenced house, and he jumped in the backseat.

"Cullen," he said, with a nod of his head to acknowledge me.

He then turned to my sister, and they shared a quick kiss before starting to stare intently and lovingly at each other. I internally groaned at how in love they were.

I wasn't resentful of my best friend and sister together, and I didn't have a reason to be, either. There were no two people in this world that deserved happiness more than they did, and they couldn't have been better matched. I just couldn't help but feel a little left out. We were about to start senior year, and I hadn't had a girlfriend for a while. I guess that was somewhat my own fault, though.

I pulled out of the drive of Jasper's house, or the "Whitlock Manor," as he liked to call it, and sped down the road and onto the highway to school. It was our last day to walk the dreaded halls of Seattle High. Praise the Lord. Today was our last unofficial day. We'd all move off to different high schools next week. Me, Jasper and Alice were heading off to Forks Boarding Academy after today.

We were going there tonight to settle in before classes started on Monday. All three of us had made a deal not to tell anyone which high school we were headed to in case of people following us there. There was no way Jessica Stanley or Mike Newton could come with us.

Forks Boarding Academy was an upper class, elite school, and not many people even knew of it. There were girls, who Alice dubbed groupies of the "I Love Edward Cullen" Fan Club, that we couldn't be positive wouldn't follow me to Forks. In all seriousness, I doubted anyone else at our school was even wealthy or smart enough to be accepted, but we weren't taking unnecessary risks. Truthfully, both Jas and I were a little overprotective of Alice since the Mike incident, and maybe we were being slightly paranoid by keeping everything hush-hush, but with the likes of Crowley and Mallory running around, who could blame us? There was no way any of us three could suffer through another year with them kissing our arses.

If I was being practical, I'd admit that FBA wasn't even in the same region as the city we lived in. It was doubtful anyone would think of leaving Seattle in the first place. But, as I said before, we weren't taking any chances.

The town of Forks was essentially a tiny little speck in the middle of a beautiful green rainforest, and incredibly lush. It was completely covered in moss and while Seattle was quite green, it was a fairly big city and the absolute seclusion of Forks made it seem magical.

I, for one, would take the lush woods and serenity over the hustle and bustle and skyscrapers any day.

Because we were being really secretive about the whole thing, even Alice's best friend, Bella, didn't know where Alice was headed. I believed she just assumed that they'd head to another Seattle high school together, and even though Alice wouldn't admit it, she felt guilty for not telling Bella our secret. But Bella didn't talk of her plans either, and Alice wasn't sure where she was going but didn't broach the subject in case Bella asked Alice as well.

Alice thought that Bella knew something was up. She decided it wasn't like Bella not to be curious, so Alice concluded that Bella had a secret too. As much as not knowing her best friend's secret killed Alice, she knew that she couldn't question Bella as that would lead to Bella questioning Alice. Alice was forced to suck it up. Both friends were in an unspoken agreement that they were both harboring secrets and were unwilling to share, so they decided not to ask each other anything at all on the topic. As much as Alice wanted to tell Bella, she knew Bella's inability to lie effectively would become a hazard to our plan.

The fact that they got along so well still remained a mystery to me.

Where Alice was a bouncing, hyperactive sort, and was addicted to shopping, Bella was serene and would rather stay at home with a book. They were complete opposites.


Flashback to Sophomore Year in High School

Bella's parents and ours had been friends since high school, so every summer since we were born we would see each other. We had an alternating schedule- one year we'd fly to Phoenix, the next they'd fly to Seattle. It was a tradition of sorts, and the three of us had grown up together. We all lived for the summer when we saw each other; the rest of the year served just as the in-between months.

Bella had seen herself as being plain when she was a little girl, but to me she had been beautiful. Alice and Bella were close friends back then, but Bella and I were best friends.

I'd always felt an unidentifiable emotion around Bella, but I had just ignored it all those years in a way.

Eighth grade Was the first of two times since being born that we didn't see each other for the holidays. I was greatly disappointed even if I wouldn't admit it to myself. Her parents were fighting a lot, and it just wasn't a good time to visit.

Freshman year of high school, her parents were separated and it was too complicated to visit. Come sophomore year of high school, her parents had divorced, and she chose to move to Seattle with Charlie, her father. She arrived just in time for the first day. There was no reunion with us, and we let them settle in for a few days first. Alice and I saw Bella for the first time in nearly three years the first day of school.

One thing about Bella and me was that we always had a connection. Though I tried to ignore the electricity, it was there. Our chemistry was palpable. You could feel the bond in the air, but I pretended I was oblivious to it.

The second she walked into the building first day, I could feel it. I distracted myself, while waiting for the moment we'd meet after all of this time. I wondered if the feeling would still be there- if the air between us would zing, if I would get butterflies from being around her. No doubt, she would hang around with us- she didn't know anyone else.

While I was excited for the reunion, I couldn't help but feel scared. Her opinion had always been much more valuable than others had for me. After not seeing her for summer of eighth grade and freshman year in high school, I got bored and socialized more which naturally resulted in my first girlfriend. Afterwards, Alice began setting me up on dates all the time. Following Alice's matchmaking period, girls began throwing themselves at me. The whole deal created quite a reputation for me- one that wasn't true.

But now, I was like a live wire. My nerve endings were frazzled and my brain had been scrambled, waiting for her arrival.

When I felt the electricity hit, I looked up to see Bella Swan, my best friend, looking at me.

When our eyes locked, my emotions warred inside me. She had blossomed into a gorgeous young woman – anyone could see that much. And I felt it – something was different. Something between us had changed.


Present Time

Isabella Marie Swan was her full name, but she preferred Bella. Well, preferred was an understatement. She despised being called "Isabella." She was beautiful, though. I hated to admit it, but it was true. She had long waist length mahogany hair, and deep chocolate pools for eyes. She was soft, but slender. She had the perfect body. She had small curves and ivory, if not transparent skin. Because of her creamy skin, when she blushed it was like strawberries and cream. She had a tendency to blush a lot. Her cheeks were constantly covered in a delicious crimson- she got embarrassed so easily. She was the most beautiful person I had ever seen, if I was being honest. She was soft and subtle- a true beauty. I liked boobs and arse as much as the next guy, but she was some apparition that had walked right out of my wet dream. Long before I'd seen her after puberty, the perfect girl in my head was a less stunning version of the new Bella. It was horrid having the person you hated most happen to be your dream girl when in physical form. But I had to give Bella props; she was exquisite- well on the outside at least.

Bella and I were long sworn enemies. Well, not long sworn, but at least since she moved here, actually. Regardless, we were constantly at each other's throats. I didn't even know why the girl insisted on throwing catty remarks at me whenever the chance appeared. Either way, we couldn't be civil if we were in the same room. The girl was so damn feisty with me.

She hated shopping, attention, gossip, and typical girl stuff.

While Bella and Alice didn't see each other for those climactic three years, they kept in contact with monthly phone calls. I knew everything going on in Bella's life as Alice had to know everything, and she would blather to me for hours after getting off the phone with Bella.

There was only one thing that bothered me. While we hadn't seen each other for those years, Bella had had sex. She had lost her virginity.

It bothered me, and it shouldn't have. Worsening the situation further was that I didn't know why it bothered me as much as it did.

She and Alice had been close all their lives, but after Bella moved to Seattle, their friendship solidified, and they became best friends.

She always thought she was right and degraded me constantly because "I had better things to do than stay friends with her." Maybe my judgment on her personality was clouded because of her lack of attraction to me. Her sophomore year, she transferred to our school and on the first fucking day had already been labelling me as shit that was untruthful. She didn't know what she was talking about. If there was one thing I wouldn't tolerate, it is disrespect.

As far as I knew, Bella and I hated each other due to what she claimed was me ignoring her during those two years and of course, my developed promiscuity. In my opinion we were no longer best friends because Bella constantly assumed things about me and she had made no effort to communicate with me either during the lost two years, so I assumed she wasn't interested in being friends.

After my dating extravaganza, courtesy of Alice, Alice didn't even know who her real friends were anymore so she more or less gave up.

Due to knowing her for so long, Alice knew Bella wasn't using Alice to get to me. And it did actually happen. Some girls had the nerve to use the little one to get to me. Disgusting.

Bella and I hated each other ever since she moved to Forks practically, which meant that Bella wasn't using her to get to me and really did like Alice for, well, Alice.

Everyone just wanted a piece of me- every female in the student body except Bella. That infuriated me. I wasn't used to not being wanted, and her indifference to me her first day of school hurt my ego.

Maybe it hurt more because we'd been each other's first kiss when we were younger. Her not wanting me once we'd grown up pissed me off more. Either way, ever since her first day here, we'd hated each other.

We pulled up to school, and Alice hopped out to go see Bella. She was waiting by her red, ancient Chevy, wearing plain blue jeans and a deep blue sweater. She didn't even try to look good. Style naturally came to her. Jasper nudged me, and we left the car for first period.

"Stop drooling, Cullen."

"Ugh, don't even. I hate that bitch," I spat.

"Whatever, Cullen." With that comeback Jasper lost interest, dropping the subject.

On our way to Advanced Chemistry, I thought about why I wanted FBA as our first choice for our new high school. I would never tell Jazz or Alice, but the real reason I convinced them to come to Forks Boarding with me was because of Bella. Bella was the police chief's daughter, and her parents were divorced, meaning they weren't overly rich. I knew she couldn't afford FBA, and I wanted a fresh slate. I wanted no reputation in Forks. I wanted to build a new life without rumors- to start anew. Ridding my life of Bella was the final step that needed to be taken in order to achieve my goal.

Girls begged me to fool around with them, but I didn't. My mom taught me better. I had morals and a chivalrous nature nailed into me at a young age. I'd only ever partaken in anything of a romantic nature with girls who I was dating. In my entire lifetime, I had only ever had one serious relationship.

I'd never loved any of the girls I dated and figured I'd never love anyone, either. I just thought maybe I wasn't made to love. I'd never said "I love you," and that was usually why my relationships ended- they wanted something I couldn't give them.

Bella was so off base with her accusations of my promiscuity.

In fact, I was still a virgin. I was waiting for "the one." I know it sounds all pussy, but it's true. I dated around a lot at the stage when I wasn't seeing Bella due to her family issues. I think it was because I was bored without seeing Bella that summer. Without her, as she had been my best friend, I had nothing to do and was disappointed that something we'd wait all year-round for wasn't happening, and so it was my distraction. I don't know...

The demise of our friendship was after seeing me in the hall her first day here.

She'd commented to Alice afterwards about what a "jerk-ish, pompous pig I was for never keeping in contact with her." I mean what the fuck? I didn't do shit. But it was her loss. I cared about her, and that shit dug deep because it made me angry. She hadn't done shit to talk to me either. She mustn't have cared enough and was too busy forgetting about me. After that, it began. Catty remarks... all very grade school. Then, it escalated. The remarks had been few and far between in the beginning, but as time passed the fighting and unfounded hatred only became worse.

She'd probably thought her little comment had changed me, and it had. But I was too stubborn and pig-headed to let her believe that she had that kind of influence over me. After she rejected me- well, in all honesty, she didn't reject me, she just didn't fall over my feet begging for me. The fact that she didn't immediately cave to my charms shocked me. She continually surprised me. She was different and unlike all the other girls I'd ever met, and it scared me.

But since first day of sophomore year when I saw her, a feeling deep inside me stirred. I didn't know what it was, but I resented her for coming along and doing it to me anyway.

Bella had this weird power over me now. I was no longer at ease around her. Now, a glance would send me into paranoia, reeling self-doubt and over-analysis. It made me feel bad about myself, and somehow guilty for not talking to her at all during the time spent apart. And I hated that.

There were fleeting moments when I'd catch her staring at me with something other than hate. Disappointment, perhaps? Well, it saddened me.

Pinning all the blame on me wasn't fucking kosher. I couldn't deal with the time we didn't talk or the stab to my ego. I didn't want to think about the past, and I hated this semi-new power or voodoo shit she had over me.

Getting away from Bella, for once and for all, would ensure that she could never mess around with my equilibrium again.

Without her, things could finally be different, and I could make a show-stopping goodbye with my pride intact. Without her, I could be less complicated. Without her, my life would be less complicated.