A/N: Fluffy oneshot – kind of fluffy I guess.
Summary: ExB: Bella finds herself with a date to prom – her best friend Edward, who she accidentally managed to fall in love with after all those years. The only problem is she's his date for the sole purpose of helping him win the heart of the girl of his dreams...
Disclaimer: Don't own Twilight.
Just so you know, I like Rosalie better than Alice. I find her more easy to write, and much more likable. Alice may be kinder, but Rosalie is…well…awesome.
I dislike the stereotype of having Tanya as a ditzy, airheaded girl who manipulates people. I may not like her character in most of the stories I read, but I do not want her to be like that in this story. Everyone deserves a chance to be liked. This is hers.
Remember. Reviews are love.
Note: A prequel and sequel will probably be written for this story within the next month. If you have reviewed, favorited, or alerted this story, you will be sent a PM or a notification of some sort. Check back to my profile or this story periodically to see if it has been posted. Thanks to all who have read this story.
This Lonely Game We Play
………….Are we really happy here with this lonely game we play? Looking for words to say? Searching, but not finding understanding anyway. We're lost in a masquerade………..
My eyes locked with his green eyes, which were filled with love and adoration. I felt my cheeks flush immediately, keeping my arms wrapped around his neck. His eyes never left my face, the affection never wavering.
Too bad it wasn't real.
I tried to force my lips to curve up in a smile. It worked for a second, but I knew it didn't reach my eyes. I blinked twice, trying to clear my mind. I had to keep up this façade. I had to – it was Edward. I promised him, and I'd do it.
I felt Edward pull me in closer, his arms gripping my waist firmly. I tried to keep my breathing even, but I knew it was futile. He always had this effect on me. Why did I agree to this? I knew my feelings for him were going to get in the way. It was too hard. It was too hard to be this close to him, to feel like he loved me, but know that it was all just an act to help him find the girl he really loved. Tonight was the last time. No more, I promised myself. I couldn't do it anymore – I couldn't. I would tell him that…eventually.
He leaned a little forward, his lips hovering near my ear. His breath tickled my skin and a tingle rushed up my spine. "It's working Bels."
I blinked. "Perfect." I whispered, even though I didn't really mean it.
His voice sounded excited. I could feel his heartbeat from our proximity. "She keeps looking this way. She isn't even focusing on her date. It's working perfectly."
I coughed a little. "That's exactly what we want, right?"
He nodded happily, "This is perfect."
Yeah, it is. I thought sadly. Just for a different reason than you think.
I turned away from him, my eyes locking with the girl he was trying to impress. Her rich strawberry blonde hair was tied up in a bun. Her piercing blue eyes were focused on Edward's back. She wore a dark blue camisole dress with gold lining. This was the girl of his dreams. The girl who had everything I wanted, and didn't even know it yet.
I looked down at my own commonness. I had curled my hair so they tumbled down in their normal, common chocolate color. I wore almost no make up. My dress was a fitted mermaid dress, reaching below my knees. I didn't have a body like Rosalie's or like Alice's so my dress wasn't nearly as flattering.
"He doesn't deserve her." Edward muttered.
"Huh?" I snapped out of my self-deprecating bashing.
"Mike." He nodded towards the boy who had Tanya in his arms.
"Hmm." I replied, noncommittally. I personally thought he did. Stereotypical dumb jock with Barbie blond. Seemed like the perfect couple. After weeks of this game we played, I had come to notice her much more. She acted like a ditz and airhead around people, but in class, she was different. You could see her finish all the math problems or an essay first. When the teacher asked questions, you could see that she knew the answer in her face, but she would never raise her hand. No wonder she was one of the top students in our class. It was like she only pretended to be an airhead, for god knows why.
"I mean she's so beautiful. I don't know what she sees in him." He groaned, glaring at his rival.
I rolled my eyes when he wasn't looking. "A hot body, maybe?" I quipped.
He blinked and kept his eyes on me. "Nice one. You're one of the wittiest people I know, Bells."
And I'm still not enough for you…
I watched sadly as his eyes shifted to Tanya. She didn't deserve him. He was everything I wanted, and everything I couldn't have. I noted how his eyes softened as he stared at her. My stomach twisted and I forgot why I decided to help him in the first place.
Three weeks earlier
….Both afraid to say we're just too far away from being close together from the start. We tried to talk it over but the words got in the way….
"She's just so perfect, you know?" He replied, dreamily.
"Uh huh." I muttered.
"The way she walks, the way she talks. Everything she does is so captivating."
"Right." I commented noncommittally.
"But I'll never stand a chance with her."
I looked at him. "Why not?" He was perfect. How could he not have chance with her?
"Everyone likes her. I'm just one of the many…She probably doesn't even know I exist."
"Don't say that. She already knows you exist."
"How do you know?"
"Please! Haven't you noticed the death glares she gives to me when we're in the same class? It's like she's jealous of me being so close to you or something."
"Really?" His eyes were hopeful. I tried not to vomit.
"Yeah. So don't give up."
His eyes flashed. "Will you help me?"
"Help me. They always say that if you make the girl you like jealous, they'll notice you even more."
"That is so first grade."
"But it's the only chance I have." He pleaded, "Please, just pretend to be my girlfriend for a while?"
I blinked. "What? Why me?"
"It's more believable – people all assume we are dating anyway." If only…
I blinked again. "What?"
"Just pretend you're my girlfriend. I won't force you to, if you don't want to." Force me? Never.
"But—" Could I handle that? Pretend to be the girl he loved, only to have it taken away when she came around? But…he wad my best friend after all…His eyes were smoldering, captivating me immediately. "…Fine."
"You're the best, Bels!" He kissed me lightly on the cheek.
"Don't worry about it." I muttered.
"I love you for always being there for me." He smiled, his eyes twinkling.
"…I love you too." I whispered faintly.
…..Walking through life unnoticed, knowing that no one cares. Too consumed in their masquerade no one sees her there…..
"Are you ready?"
"What?" I blinked.
"She's coming this way. Or dancing this way."
"I'm always ready, remember?" I replied, fixing the expression on my face. I smelled her expensive perfume as she moved a little closer to us with her partner. Edward jumped into action.
"You look gorgeous tonight." He said affectionately, pulling a stray lock away from my face.
I smiled a little, "Really?" I played my role perfectly. "You're so sweet."
"You always look gorgeous, you know that." He smiled, "You're beautiful."
I blushed pink. "Thanks."
"Your eyes are shining."
"So are yours."
"Only around you." They twinkled a little. He leaned forward a little, and I yearned to kiss him. But he had said he would never make me do that. It just wasn't part of the agreement.
Tanya elbowed me painfully. "Sorry." She replied, her tone a little snarky.
"Don't worry about it." I replied, sweetly.
"Are you okay, Bels?" Edward asked, caressing my cheeks a little.
"I'm always okay around you."
"Do you want to go somewhere? Just the two of us?"
I beamed. "Oh, Edward…"
Beside us, I heard Tanya groan softly. "Mike, stop it. I don't want to dance with you anymore. You're drunk!" She shoved away from Mike, and stalked back to her table.
The minute she left, his façade vanished. "Do you think it worked?"
I frowned a little. "Yeah, she purposely hit me to get me away from you."
He grinned. The music stopped and he led me off the dance floor. "She's just sitting there. Should I ask her to dance?"
No! Just stay with me! Please, just stay with me. "Go for it."
"I'll see you later, Bells." He kissed me on the cheek and jogged towards her. I frowned deeply, and walked back to my table.
I sat down, my eyes looking for the familiar mess of brown hair. I found him on the dance floor. They were dancing now. She was held tightly in his arms. She whispered something in his ear, and he laughed, pulling her closer. The same way he had for me. Only this time, it was real.
I hated being emotional, but watching them…completely absorbed in their own world, their eyes staring deeply into each other…it made me feel sick. I could feel tears pricking at my eyes as I watched him stare at her affectionately.
"Bella? Are you okay?" Rosalie asked, having appeared beside me.
"Yeah, of course." I croaked.
"No you're not, sweetie." She turned my chair around so I was facing her. "What's wrong?"
I glanced back at the two of them. The song had ended, but they were still there. Dancing. Smiling. He looked so happy. So happy with her…so happy without me.
"You're not serious. She actually fell for that plan?" She asked, disgusted.
"Yeah…maybe I should try out for drama. I didn't know I could act so well."
"Act?" She rolled her eyes. "Bella, honey, that wasn't acting and you know it. This is killing you right now. I'll strangle the bastard myself when I can."
"It's so obvious you're in love with him."
I glanced at her, honesty burning through my eyes like fire. "It is? It's that obvious?"
"You wear your heart on your sleeve, Bels. And that idiot can't even see it. He's your best friend and he can't even see what he's doing to you."
"Where's Emmett?" I asked, changing the subject.
"Buffet line." She nodded towards the long line at the side. "All that dancing got him a little tired, I think."
"Has he danced with you yet?"
"No." She said softly.
"We suck at love, you know that?"
"Agreed." I giggled a little. I could get through anything as long as I had her with me.
"I don't know why this plan worked, anyway." She commented, getting back to the subject of Edward and I. "I thought he'd realize his mistake after spending the last month with you. I've never seen him so happy."
"Happier than he is now?" I nodded towards the pair on the dance floor. Tears emerged again.
"He was happier with you."
"It was an act." I said bitterly. "It was all a god damn act. When he hugged me, or pulled me close, he was looking at Tanya. Making sure she was looking. He would only call me sweetheart or baby if she was around…just to see her reaction. And I went along with that stupid- that god damn stupid plan- just because…because—"
"Because you love him." She finished quietly.
I nodded, a tear sliding down my face.
Rosalie opened her mouth to say something, but closed it before she did. As if she thought better of it.
"What? What were you going to say?" I asked.
"I can read you like a book, Rose. Tell me."
"It was about me and Edward wasn't it." I whispered.
"I don't want to hurt you." She said quietly.
"Just tell me." My eyes flickered to Edward. "I don't think I can hurt anymore. My heart's already broken."
"He doesn't deserve you. He never will."
"He's all I want." I whispered weakly.
She frowned a little. "I love you Bella, don't make a mistake just because of him."
"I love him, Rose."
"He knows you love him."
"Wha—how? I was so careful." My eyes widened and my heart stopped beating for a minute.
"It wasn't you. Emmett and I were talking about you two – how you should just get together already – and he showed up out of nowhere. I don't know how much he heard – but if he heard little snip pits from our conversation, he would've pieced together the puzzle pieces after seeing how natural you were at pretending you loved him."
"You can't be serious."
"I'm as serious as I can ever be, hon." She smiled a little.
"Well…maybe he didn't hear you. You know he has a short attention span – maybe he wasn't really listening to you."
"Oh, Bella. Everyone knows you're terrible at acting – that B on your report card for drama proves it – and you're also horrible at relationships, unless it's with someone you care about – remember Tyler?" Rosalie replied, "I mean that in a kind way though. However, since Edward knows that too – and since he's a bright kid – he probably figured out you love him."
Rosalie frowned a little. "The thing is, I really thought you two would have a shot. You were right there, a step away from finally being together. I truly believed it would happen. I thought he'd realize how much of a prat Tanya is and how perfect you two are for each other." Her eyes flickered to the dance floor. "I thought fate would finally be on our side…" She drifted off, and snapped her gaze back to me.
My eyes traveled to where she had been staring at. I froze. In the middle of the dance floor, in front of everyone, was Edward and Tanya locked in a loving embrace. He leaned forward and captured her lips in a passionate kiss. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't feel anything. It was like I paid to watch my nightmare unfold. It just couldn't be happening to me. Not here….not now…
The kiss ended, but they continued to stare at each other. The slow music changed to a fast song by Pit Bull and they both jumped. His eyes lingered on her face before gesturing towards our table. He led her towards us. I jumped into action.
"I—uh…I have to go to the bathroom."
"That manwhore. That no-good, sorry excuse of a man. What a fucking bastard." Rosalie gritted out.
"I'll…I'll come back later." I muttered.
"I'll kick his fucking ass for you, even though he deserves something so much more painful."
I saw them nearing the table, so I grabbed my purse and rushed to the bathroom. I was running too fast, and I couldn't control the tears as they gushed down my cheeks. I threw the door of the bathroom open, my eyes catching my reflection in the mirror. The little make up I was wearing was beginning to run. I jumped into the nearest stall, slamming it shut, and leaning against the door. I rolled out the toilet paper and dabbed my mascara. I could handle having puffy eyes – I could blame it on some type of allergy – but a trail of mascara was a telltale sign that I was crying.
I tried to smile. I tried to open my eyes. I tried to fucking breathe. I slid to the ground, curling into a protective ball. I leaned my head against the door of the stall and didn't bother to stop the tears as they rushed down my cheeks.
I imagined them kissing, dancing, loving each other. It was too much. I was going to be sick. I was going to die. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't think. It was all too much.
I felt tears drip down my chin and on my dress. I couldn't care less. I didn't have anything to lose.
…….Hail - to the queen of the masquerade. Deep in your heart she feeds. Hail - to the queen of the masquerade. Bow to her majesty…….
I watched, confused, as Bella darted –faster than I'd ever seen her run – towards the hallways. I finally got the girl of my dreams, was about to celebrate it with my best friend, and she just…runs? Maybe she had to go to the bathroom. Maybe it was just another one of the 'feminine' things she liked to use as an excuse.
"Was that Bella?" Tanya's sweet voice came from beside me. I nodded.
"You have to introduce me to your friends." She gushed. "Emmett—he's sitting with the blonde at the table. He is your best friend right?"
"No, that would be Bella." I smiled, imagining the brunette in my mind.
"So that's why you always hang out with her." She sounded a little relieved.
"Yeah, that's why." I replied.
"Welcome back Edward." Rosalie said, sneering my name a little. I frowned but nodded at her.
"Hi, you must be Bella's friend, right??" Tanya asked kindly.
"I'm Bella and Edward's friend." I heard the distaste in her voice.
"What's your name?" Her voice was genuinely polite.
"Rosalie." She frowned a little. "You must be Tanya."
"Yes I am. It's nice to meet you."
"Likewise." Rosalie muttered dryly. I frowned. Why was she glaring at me?
"Do you mind if we sit?" Tanya asked Rosalie.
"No ones stopping you." She replied coldly. My frown deepened.
"Hey, Rose. Where's Bella?" I asked.
"Bathroom." She nodded towards the general area of the hallway. Her eyes narrowed a little.
"Is she okay? Should I go check on her?" I asked. She was gone for quite a long time.
"No, don't worry yourself. I would love to meet Bella – if she's a friend of yours, then I'll make sure we're properly introduced." Tanya waved me off. "I'll go check on her."
"What? No." Rosalie pushed aside her comment. "I'm her best friend. I'll go find her."
I pulled her back. "No, I want Tanya to meet her. Let her go."
Rosalie shrugged me off and pushed me aside. Tanya turned around and sauntered towards the hallways. Rosalie started to follow her, but I stopped her again.
I expected a cold remark or a death glare, but I didn't expect the slap. She reeled back and slapped me hard against my cheek, and my face cracked to the left awkwardly.
"What the hell was that for, Rosalie?" I asked, touching my cheek briefly. Rosalie's slaps hurt like hell. I started to feel bad for Emmett who was usually at the receiving end of them.
"For being an insensitive bastard!" She yelled. "You don't give a fuck about Bella do you? You fucking use her and throw her away after you meet Tanya? Are you fucking kidding me? And now you let that excuse of a human being go and talk to Bella? What the fuck is the matter with you? She's probably ripping Bella's heart even more. I thought you were her friend Edward." She gritted out. "It's taking every inch of my self control not to kill you right now."
"Wait!" Emmett's voice came out of nowhere. "Chill out, babe. What's this all about?" He tried to gently pull Rosalie away.
"Don't fucking touch me Emmett." She was seething with anger. "I'm trying to teach this bastard a lesson."
"Rosalie, sweetie, please calm down. I'm sure whatever he did doesn't deserve your anger." He replied soothingly.
"He stuck his fucking tongue down the fucking slut's throat!" Rosalie screamed. Rosalie had a tendency to swear when she was angry.
"You didn't!" Emmett looked at me, disgusted. "What is the matter with you?"
"What? What's the big deal? So I kissed her…"
"You're in deep shit right now, Edward. I swear to god, if there weren't so many people in this room, you'd be dead by now."
"What did I do? I didn't do anything!"
"You're ignorance is almost sad. I don't know how you can be so…so ignorant of Bella – your fucking best friends' – feelings!"
"What the hell does Bella have to do with anything?"
"She has to do with everything!" Rosalie yelled.
Emmett rubbed soothing circles on her back.
"What do you mean?"
"She likes you, you idiot." Emmett replied, rolling his eyes. He was the only one who was calm enough to give a straight answer. Rosalie looked like she could spontaneously catch fire any second now.
I looked at him incredulously. "Of course she does. She's my best friend."
"No, as in she's in love with you."
I stared at him. Trying to absorb the words. "Huh?"
"Men are idiots." Rosalie muttered. "How could you possibly not know that? Are you blind? Didn't you see how happy she was for the past four weeks? You know she's not a good actress – she wasn't acting Edward. She loves you. And you led her on, only to leave her when Tanya came along. That tore her apart Edward."
"Bella…loves me?" I tasted the words. That wasn't possible. Beautiful, brilliant, perfect Bella loved a moron like me? I wasn't half as smart or nice as her. I figured she only kept me around for laughs and for the fact that we've known each other for ages…not because she loved me.
That changed everything. I've been in love with Bella for as long as I remember – and I knew she was way out my league since day one. She was perfect, and I was just…me. I never believed she could ever have any feelings for me. Sure, Tanya was decently pretty….but she was a bit of ditz – that didn't escape me. I'd be fine with going on only a few dates with Tanya…but Bella? I wouldn't have anything but the real thing. She was the only person I would ever even consider settling down and spending my life with.
"So. What do you think?" Emmett nudged me.
"…I'm such an ass." I muttered.
"Thank you!" Rosalie collapsed in her chair after I said that.
"Why didn't you tell me she loved me sooner? Why now? Why?"
"We thought you already knew! You know she isn't good at acting. How could she have played her role perfectly if it wasn't real?
"She…loves me." I felt an epiphany rising. "Bella – perfect, beautiful Bella loves me! I have to…I have to go find her. I need to hear her say it."
"What about Tanya?"
"I just…I wanted someone to be there. To get my mind of Bella. That was it. I needed to get over her…I would have torn myself apart if I didn't."
"So you don't like Tanya?"
"…I don't want to sound like a jerk." I heard Rosalie cough. "But I'm more fascinated by her. Sure, I like a her a little bit, but it isn't nearly as much as I love Bella."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, she's really pretty and all…but I can't really relate to her. But I owe her tonight. I mean…I can't just take it away from her, you know?" I tried to make sense. "Just tonight…tonight."
"Well you better tell Tanya its over before Bella assumes things." Emmett replied. "You know Bella. She jumps to conclusions."
"Too late." Rosalie frowned. "Here they come."
..….Moon-shining eyes, clinging cobwebs above her bed. Spider smooth legs across faces on silken web, feeling the sting of her venomous clinching bite. Down, down to your knees. Bow before her majesty………
I dabbed my eyes with some more tissue. I knew I must have looked dreadful. My eyes were puffy and my vision was blurry. I unlocked the door of the stall, with the intention of going to the sink to wash my face. Instead, I found myself standing face-to-face with Tanya.
"Hi there." She smiled genuinely. "You're Bella."
"You're Tanya." I replied.
Her eyes immediately followed the trail of mascara down my face. "Are you okay?" She was genuinely worried.
"I'll be fine, thank you for asking." I had to be civil.
"No you're not." She mumbled. "You're hurting."
"I've been worse."
"I highly doubt that." She murmured. "Tell me what's wrong."
"Nothing's wrong…really! I'm just sad that high school is over." I lied.
"I'm not stupid, you know. I know you're lying."
I blinked. "I'm not." I watched her eyes flicker quickly.
"I won't tell anyone, if that's what's worrying you." Her eyes twinkled. "I hate to see people hurting. No one deserves it."
"I'm fine, really. I just get a little emotional sometimes. You know, it's a girl thing." I attempted to sound like I was laughing.
"It's about Edward, isn't it?" The smile was still on her lips, and it did not look forced. Her eyes were somber.
I didn't say anything. I pursed my lips, trying to keep quiet, but I knew my eyes betrayed me. They began to water again.
"You…you love him don't you?" She said quietly.
I walked to the sink, throwing some water on my face. I never imagined Tanya was this kind. I always assumed that she would be cruel or mean, and brush me off while trying to take Edward away from me.
"Yeah." I admitted after a few seconds. No use in denying it now. "But he chose you. So, no hard feelings. Honest. I just hope – I truly hope – you know you're a very lucky girl."
"I know that, trust me." Tanya smiled a little. "I know I'm lucky to have a guy like Edward even remotely interested in me. But it isn't going to last."
I looked at her curiously. "Why? He's smart, kind, and handsome. He's everything that you could ever want."
"But all of that belongs to you, Bella."
I arched an eyebrow. "Excuse me?"
"He's always been yours." She smiled a little bit. "I like him a lot too you know. And I have for a really long time. I might even love him." Tanya actually liked him? I thought she was only stringing him on – just to make me angry. There wasn't even a small hint of the normal air-headedness she showed in class.
"I would hope so." I tried to smile but it was forced.
"But I don't love him nearly as much as you do." She allowed. "You need him just as much as he needs you."
"He doesn't need me." I sighed. It was about time I accepted it. I couldn't mean much to him if he chose a girl he barely knew over me. I suppose it was time that I just moved on. A small hint of resignation permeated through my body. "He has you." I wanted him to be happy, even if it was without me. I loved him that much.
"That won't be enough, Bella." Tanya replied. "Haven't you noticed? Who does he call when he has a problem? When there was that really strong blizzard and his house was the only one that wasn't snowed in…who did he go to? Did he try to save me – who lived right across the street – or did he try to save you? And you live across town. When he wants to go somewhere he feels passionately about, who does he go to? He doesn't go to me, Bella. He goes to you. He always goes to you."
"That's because I'm his best friend."
"You mean more to him than that, and I know you know that on some level." Tanya replied logically. I'd never seen this side of her. She was so smart and understanding…and kind.
"Why are you being so nice to me?"
"What do you mean?"
"I just told you I'm in love with your boyfriend. Why aren't you mad?"
"Because Bella. It would be petty and cruel for me to get in the middle of two soul mates, when he and I will probably only last a few weeks."
"I never see this side of you, Tanya."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean this in the kindest way possible. You just always seem so high and mighty – a little ditzy I'll admit. But here you are, talking to me with so much logic and understanding that it's floored me."
Her expression turned pained. "I'm used to hiding behind the stereotype of the popular blond – a girl who has no mind of her own, and yet has a status at school." Her smile faltered. "Guys don't want a smart girl who can challenge them in conversations. They want an airheaded push over who does whatever they want."
"That isn't true, Tanya. You're more than that. I know that now."
"I appreciate that, I really do." She shook her head. "I guess it's too late to go back to being myself. High school's only a small chapter of our lives, anyway. It was just so much easier to be who everyone wanted me to be – guys fell in love with the act. I want something more, now. I'll find someone who wants me for me, and not for my body or my status." She smiled wistfully.;.
"I'll find someone who wants me too." I whispered, locking gazes with her.
"Honey, you already found him." Her eyes twinkled a little.
"I don't know why we weren't friends before this." I frowned. "It would have made the last month a lot easier."
"I don't know why either. I had you labeled as the perfect girl at school – perfect grades, gorgeous, had one of the handsomest boys wrapped around her finger. But here you are, just as vulnerable as I am."
"That's funny." I chuckled a little. "I thought of you the same way."
"It's funny how fate works sometimes, huh?"
"You can say that again."
"I just…I have one request."
"And what would that be?"
"Well, like I've said many times in the past five minutes or so." She smiled playfully, "You've always had his heart. I've never had a chance. Can I have that chance? Just for tonight. I just want to feel wanted for one night."
"You don't need my permission, Tanya. He isn't mine. What he chooses to do, and what you choose to do is entirely up to you two."
"Just know that I truly believe you two are meant for each other. I just want one night. That's all."
"Just promise me something, Bella?" She asked, her eyes hopeful.
"I realized after tonight that there was no possibility that I was meant for Edward. I always thought that even though most of his heart is devoted to you, that I could at least have a small part of his affection. I know now that I was wrong. While we were dancing, he would sneak glances at you. It was like he wasn't fully in the moment. Part of him was always with you." She explained. "I've accepted it – I'll find someone someday – but I need you to keep him happy. Do what I can never do – keep him genuinely happy."
"Of course, Tanya. But I'm not sure if I'm the girl he wants. I mean, we both haven't heard him say it yet."
"But he will." She assured me. "I know it."
"You're amazing, you know that?" I replied. "You pull on this façade so well…when you should really just be yourself. No one does you better than you."
"That's sweet Bella." She smiled a little. "I hope we'll still be friends after high school."
"I promise we will be." I replied.
"So, are you ready?"
"To go confront your true love." She smiled a little, only a tinge of jealousy in her eyes. "To face him?"
"I don't think so." I looked at my reflection in the mirror.
"You look gorgeous, don't worry." She smiled. "Although, let me fix your make up. I have the best concealer."
I cracked a smile. "Perfect."
"Watch me work my magic."
.....Second best, oh second best. I can learn to live with this. Plus I really need a rest, after all what's wrong with second best? What's wrong with second best……..
I pulled the façade I perfected back on. It wasn't that I needed it. But without it, I didn't feel safe. I felt vulnerable. I couldn't face the world without it.
Except when I'm around Bella. For some reason – completely unknown to me – something about her allowed me to feel safe even without the mask on. She was so honest and kind. She never judged. She just listened.
I heard Bella breathe in deeply. "Tonight's yours Tanya." She smiled a little. "Here goes nothing…"
I nodded, smiling a little at my companion.
We neared the table with a very pissed off Rosalie and a tired looking Emmett. Edward looked like he had just reached an epiphany. Ah. He knew.
"Bella," He reached out for her. She resisted his touch, looking at me knowingly. I winked at her, and gave her a silent thanks with my eyes.
Edward's expression had fallen considerably, his eyes darkening. Now he was feeling what she had been feeling. "Bella?"
Bella blinked twice, before nodding towards him and moving to speak to Rosalie. Edward let out an audible sigh, before fixing his gaze on me. I could feel a small amount of genuine affection, but I knew it wasn't going to last. I smiled a little and he returned it.
"Thanks for finding her." He whispered so only I could here.
"Don't mention it." I smiled, but not for the reason he would think. I was smiling because Bella still believed he didn't love her.
I'm not sure if he knew he was doing it, but his eyes kept flickering to Bella. It was so obvious he was in love with her – it was almost funny that everyone knew it except for the two people who it concerned.
"Well, why are we just standing here?" I quipped, trying to break the tension between the four best friends. "I don't know about you, but I'm in the mood for dancing! What do you think, Edward?"
He smiled at me, "I'm always in the mood for dancing – especially if it's with you." I caught Bella's pointed look, and I silenced it with a roll of my eyes. "Right Bella?"
She snapped her gaze to meet his. "Oh yeah, Edward loves dancing. Especially at clubs with random strangers who actually turn out to be men in dresses."
Emmett laughed and Rosalie tried to suppress her smile. She was trying to keep up her pissed-off demeanor towards me. "I'm getting a drink." She left the table and went to the refreshment table.
Bella followed her immediately, and Edward cast a longing gaze at her direction.
"Are you ready to dance?" Edward asked me.
…….Trying to be misunderstood. Just a product of my childhood. Still I find myself outside…You can't say I haven't tried…Perhaps I tried too hard………..
He was going to get himself killed. He was practically asking it from me. He all but admitted he was in love with Bella, but what does he do? He goes and becomes all mushy with Tanya in front Bella. That was petty and low. If I didn't love Bella so much I would have shoved something so far up his ass that he wouldn't be able to breathe.
"What a slut!" I exclaimed, handing Bella a cup of punch. "It's ridiculous! Just parading around as if she owns this god damn place."
"She's not a slut, Rosalie." Bella said, softly.
I blinked. "You did not just defend that bitch."
"Watch the language, Rose." She smiled playfully. "And I think I just did."
"Why in the world would you do that?"
"Well, she isn't as cruel and airheaded as we thought. I had a good chat with her in the bathroom. She's a genuinely smart and kind person."
"Oh that's rich." I commented.
"I'm serious!" she smiled. "She's really a very nice girl. You'd like her if you got to know her."
"Highly unlikely." Me and that bitch? Hell no!
She shrugged. "Just a suggestion."
"I highly doubt someone can pretend to be an airhead and pull it off so well."
"I thought that for a second." She admitted. "But I realized that she was so used to living that façade, that it felt almost right. She's honestly a great person, Rose."
I sighed. "Whatever you say Bella." I followed Bella's gaze – she was watching Edward and Tanya dance to an upbeat song.
"Don't beat yourself up over this." I said, soothingly rubbing circles on her shoulder.
"I'm not." And she wasn't lying.
"What the hell happened in that bathroom?" I asked, incredulous.
"Nothing much." She smiled. "But enough."
"I'm happy for her. I'm happy for them. I hope they have the night of their lives. She deserves it."
"…did someone spike your drink?"
………Guess I need a little more, cause it won't work out. No sign of love like the way I can hand you down. And it won't work out. It's over now. I'm escaping now………
We danced and danced until our legs were tired. I have never seen her this happy. She was smiling and giggling, and we were arguing about some debate in class. I was genuinely having a good time. And then I felt awful. I was leading her on again.
"Uhm, Tanya?" I started awkwardly.
"Yeah?" There was a look of resignation in her eyes, as if she'd known this was going to happen all along.
"I don't think…this…thing between us is going to work out." I finished.
She winced a little, but quickly masked it. "Oh."
"Any guy would be lucky to be able to call you his girlfriend." I said, honestly. "You're beautiful and kind and smart…and I wish I could say that that's enough for me. It used to be. It should be. But…I found the person I'm supposed to spend the rest of my life with. And once you've found that person…you can't really imagine yourself with anyone else." I finished lamely. I felt like such a tool.
She smiled a little. "It's okay, Edward. I understand. I had a feeling I would only have tonight." Her smile broadened. "Thank you for letting me be myself for once. I loved talking to you."
"I loved talking to you too."
"What?" I asked.
"Go to her. You know that's where you're supposed to be right now. Not talking to me."
"Go to who?"
"Stop trying to convince yourself that you don't love Bella. You always have…and you always will. Go to her." She smiled a little.
I was amazed. I truly was. "How did you--?"
"I had a feeling." She winked, before turning and disappearing in the crowd.
......Help me, help me won't you? Sing me, sing me one last song. Help me, help me, somebody help me. Save me from myself.......
I watched Tanya disappear into the crowd and I frowned a little. What happened? A bewildered Edward emerged from the crowd.
"What happened?" I asked.
"She left." He replied bluntly.
"Oh, Edward. I'm sorry." I wrapped my arms around his waist in a friendly hug, which he returned.
"It's just…I thought it would end differently. I didn't think that—"
His eyes were filled with remorse. And Tanya said that he loved me. I had actually convinced myself that there was possibility, but the possibility was wiped clean when I saw that look on his face. He looked so torn.
"You'll work it out." I smiled a little. A few hours ago, I would have been angry. I would have been jealous. But Tanya…well she did deserve him. Just as much as I thought I deserved him. "You always do."
His eyes flashed. "I have to talk to you Bella."
"Mike, get off of me! I told you I didn't like you! Please, Mike just leave. Don't touch me!" Tanya's voice was shaky. It was echoing from the hallways. We were the only ones close enough to hear it.
Edward's eyes snapped towards the hallways immediately, and I knew he wanted so badly to go there. I knew he needed to save the girl he loved.
"Mike! I said, get off of me!" Her voice was on the brink of tears.
Edward's eyes were torn, and his eyes were riveted on the hallway. He was only staying because he felt bad if he just left me. He should be saving the girl he loved. He shouldn't be standing around feeling pity for me.
"Go after her." I replied.
"Don't think, just go." I pushed him towards the hallway. Why was he arguing? He had to get there – and fast.
"Stop arguing! She needs you right now…just go to her."
"Bels, I have to tell you something…I need you to know something."
"Leave it for later, Edward. Go after her."
"Wait for me. Please, Bella. Wait for me."
"Of course." Forever.
……..Goodnight, tonight, I'm blinded. I tried, I tried. Is this the way, is this the way, It ends…………
"Get your hands off of her, you asshole." I shoved him away from Tanya.
"This is none of your business, Cullen." He spat, his breath smelling like alcohol.
"You made it my business when you went after her."
"Since when was Tanya your property? You don't even like her."
"How the hell did you come up with that?"
His eyes flashed dangerously. "What? You like her? You want her? Well, that changes everything then. Why don't I go to the girl you don't want? You wouldn't care. It's just Bella anyway."
"If you go anywhere near Bella I will rip you to shreds."
He smirked. "You can't have them both."
"Get the fuck out of here." I shoved him again, and his knees scraped the ground painfully. I wasn't even sorry.
He glared and stood up. "Don't tell me what to do."
I tackled him, the fabric of his suit tearing immediately. I punched him on his face, and his nose broke, blood gushing out relentlessly. I hit him over and over again, before letting him go. He was barely conscious enough too stand up.
"Watch out Cullen. I'll get you for this." He walked away, cradling his nose in his hands.
"Thank you, Edward." Tanya whispered.
"Are you okay?"
"Yes, I'm fine." Her expression quickly changed. "What are you doing here? You should be in there with Bella!" Her eyes flashed with an emotion I didn't understand. Guilt?
"She told me to come here."
Her expression softened. "Of course she did." She smiled a little. "She's just too kind for her own good. You two are perfect for each other. I'll be fine here, Edward. Go back to her."
I didn't need to think twice. "I'm sorry, Tanya."
"Don't be sorry. I'm glad I got to know you better in the little time we had."
"I do too. Goodbye."
…….To reaching that famous happy end and almost believing this was not pretend. Let's go on dreaming for we know we are so close. So close and still so far………
Edward came jogging back, his eyes strained. What happened? Did he and Tanya fix up their problems? Were they back together? Where was she anyway? Was she okay?
I knew I had promised myself I'd let him be happy – even if it wasn't with me. But I loved him so god damn much. I wish he knew it. I wish he'd care. I didn't want to be the girl he'd come back to if there wasn't anyone else. I was tired of being second best. If something wrong happened with Tanya, he'd come running back to me and ask for my help. It was tearing me apart.
I wished he love d me. I wished he cared enough. I wish he knew just how much I loved him.
"Bella!" He called, rushing towards me. "Hey, about Tanya—"
"I've done my part." I interrupted, my stomach twisting. Tanya was a good person, I knew that now, but I couldn't say that I was a little bitter towards his feelings for her. "I can't help you with every problem with Tanya, Edward."
"No, that's not it." He groaned, "It's just—"
"I know you want my help. And I have helped you. I always help you. I'm tired right now, Edward."
"I'm not asking—"
"Please handle all your problems alone. I can't deal with this right now. I'm too—"
"Will you please let me talk?" He asked, frustrated.
My eyes widened. His eyes were pained. "Okay…go on. But if it's about Tanya, I really don't want to hear about it right now."
"It is about Tanya, but—"
I turned and walked away. He grabbed my hand.
"What I wanted to tell you was that I told Tanya it wasn't going to work out. She and I just weren't meant for each other, I guess."
My recently discovered respect for Tanya rose. "You what?!"
"Why are you mad?"
"Because that was such a stupid idea! You can't lead a girl on, and then just ditch her once you're done! Do you think she'll be okay with that?"
"Are we still talking about Tanya?"
"Yes we are! Who else would we be talking about?" I rolled my eyes. Tanya was so nice. She didn't deserve to be treated like that, even if her being happy meant me losing what I wanted. "You don't have any reason to break up with her."
"I had three, actually." He said thoughtfully. "I wanted someone who could be themselves around me, no matter what. And she couldn't do that. I foolishly thought I could change that. And lastly." He breathed in deeply. "I can't pretend to love someone when I don't. She didn't have my full love. She never will."
"Do you think that's fair?" He asked, "For her to give me her full devotion, and for her to only have a small fraction of mine? I can't pretend to love someone when I'm already tied to someone else – and tied so completely, so strongly that it's impossible to break free. What do you think, Bella?"
"I think…I think I have to go to the bathroom."
"Oh no you don't!" He grabbed my wrist and pulled me back. "What was that? I'm standing here, bearing my soul for you, and you're just going to run away to the bathroom?"
"I thought we were talking about Tanya!"
"Is it so hard to read between the lines, Bella?"
"Well I'm sorry that I can't—"
He made an exasperated sound.
"What? Now you're annoyed with me? Why don't you just go and—"
He silenced me with a kiss. It started out as a sweet, chaste kiss. He let his emotions and his feelings rush out of him, and I felt it. I felt his pain and his need, but most of all, I felt his love. His lips moved against mine urgently, trying to make me understand how he felt. I was in shock, but once I regained my senses, I kissed him back eagerly. I let my own feelings – the feelings I'd kept bottled up for such a long time – into the kiss. I let him feel the intense love I held for him, and how much I wanted him. How much I needed him.
When he broke the kiss, we were left panting for air.
"Do you understand now?" His face was flushed, but I could see the small amusement in his eyes.
I nodded mutely.
"I love you, Bella." He smiled affectionately, caressing my cheek with his fingers. I couldn't speak.
"I've loved you since that first year you threw sand at me in the playground when we were seven. I loved you even when you accidentally burned my science project. I loved you when you dated Jacob Black – and even when you went into the popular phase and almost forgot about me. I've been in love with you for as long as I remember. I just…I never thought you'd love me back."
I regained my voice and arched an eyebrow. "How could you ever think that?"
"You're perfect, in every single way. I'm just…I'm just me. I could never deserve you."
"You're all I want Edward. Don't doubt that." I pressed my forehead to his. I tried to smile, but failed. He made it hard to smile because he made it hard to breathe.
"I love you more than you realize." His eyes twinkled.
I didn't know what to say. "Likewise." I said, lamely.
"That's romantic." He laughed.
"What can I say? I'm not good with the whole romance thing." I teased.
"It's okay, I can make up for you." He winked, whisking me bridal style to the dance floor.
We danced for hours but I didn't even notice. I disappeared in the depths of his eyes, and I couldn't stop the goofy smile from appearing on my face. I was finally with the boy I loved since I was kid. The boy I thought I would never have.
Fate was pretty damn sweet.
Review! Please! Depending on how many people want a sequel or an epilogue, I might just make one. So please review! I'd love to know what you think.
Number of Pages: 23
Number of Words: 8,266