Summary:

So, Bella dated Edward in high school. When he broke things off before he left for college, she dated Jake for the remainder of high school, only to end up with Edward throughout her own college experience. Things were always exhilarating between the two of them. So, what happened to make Bella take off and marry her best friend?


Okay, so for those who know me.

I'm sorry about NBT - it's coming - but it has to come to me. I can't just think things up anymore...

FFM has extremely long chapters and I haven't had time since the semester started to write any more.

This story has been running around in my head for weeks, and it's pretty much developed in my head, so I'm running with it.

That being said NBT, FFM, and CEA will all be completed... Count on it. Especially with November 20th so close. Whoo!

Please review, it makes me smile, it makes me write.

AH



Bella unlocked the door to her apartment and fumbled in, exhausted from the day. She threw her bag down in the foyer, tossed her keys onto the table, and kicked her shoes underneath. Work had been an absolute nightmare for the past few weeks. A new intern had started with her department – and would hopefully soon be leaving. The girl was a wreck and she couldn't figure out what Mike and Angela had been thinking when they hired her. Well, maybe Mike – but Angela? Everyday she wished more and more that she hadn't been sick the morning of the interviews. Jessica, the intern, couldn't work a copier, always forgot to dial nine on the fax, questioned why she didn't get a personal line, and never showed up before 10:00 A.M. She seemed to prefer not to work, and often said those exact words, so Bella had taken to calling her Bartleby. She didn't get it, of course, but Bella, Angela, and Mike usually got a good laugh out of it.

As much as she had been looking forward to this night all week, she was practically dreading it now. Her brother, Emmett, and his wife, Rosalie, were moving back to Seattle and tonight was their celebratory dinner. He was offered a job with C.M. Advertising – a large company with offices in six states – that not only paid well but offered incredible benefits. He had been wanting to move back home for a while, but Rose had been less enthusiastic about the idea. She had roots in Tennessee and refused to leave without a concrete job for Emmett. It was reasonable, of course, but Bella still hated that they had been so far away.

Emmett was her big brother, and for the longest time he considered that his sole job description. He was one person she could talk to about anything without having to worry about it getting around. So, when Rose came along while he was in college, she wasn't thrilled at the idea of Em having a serious relationship. Emmett never dated anyone longer than two months and Bella had a hard time with it – she felt like she was getting replaced. So of course, she didn't make it easy on Rosalie – and Rosalie fought back. Things were pretty vicious between the two until Emmett finally reached his breaking point one night and after several long talks, a few petty name callings, and a couple hugs, the feud ended. Since then, the two had become almost best friends, with plenty of two hour phone calls throughout the day. Once a week, at Bella's discretion, they had a 'lunch date' together. She would put her phone on the headset and vent to Rose about whatever was bothering her as she maneuvered her way to her favorite coffee shop. Usually, it ended up being the days that Bella didn't have time for lunch and was stuck living on caffeine and a slice of cake. It had been too long since Bella had seen either one of them and she was excited they were flying in tonight to get a little settled before he began work next week.

With nowhere near enough energy, but a latte in hand and Green Day having the time of their life on her iPod, she began preparing for dinner. When Em had given her the news, she had offered to make her specialty seasoned steaks that she reserved strictly for what she called 'Emmett's special occasions,' and was trying to think of a way out of it when the doorbell rang. She jumped –startled - and knocked her latte off the edge of the counter and onto her bare feet.

"Shit!" She shouted unintentionally before turning towards the door to yell at whomever was on the opposite side. "This better be important or I will beat the ever-loving hell out of you with whatever is closest to the door."

"Bella?" A very loud, very masculine voice came through the door. "Are you okay?" Bella recognized the voice immediately and stormed to unlock the door.

"What the hell, Jake? You scared me! Why didn't you just use your key?" Jacob stood staring at her after she yanked the door, soaking wet and looking slightly abashed. He put on a big, goofy grin and stuck his tongue at her, immediately strengthening her anger. She bit her tongue so she wouldn't say anything she'd regret and looked at him expectantly. He simply shrugged his shoulders and chuckled quietly before wrapping his arm around her waist, kissing her forehead, and leading her back into the apartment. He had always thought she was unbelievably cute when she got angry.

"Honey, I left it at the shop. I'm sorry." He said as he put a pathetic puppy dog pout on his face.

"Jake, you know if you put all of your keys on one key ring, you would quit leaving your house key at work, your work key at home, and your car keys locked inside of whichever building you were last inside." She spat out, annoyed by the fact that she'd been saying this for two years and he still hadn't listened. He nodded his head, walked over to the couch, flopped down, and grabbed the remote control. Bella, as nicely as she could manage, reminded him that he was supposed to pick Emmett and Rose up at the airport in only two hours. He nodded his head okay and she returned to the kitchen to clean up the latte mess and get back to dinner.

About an hour later she had managed to get everything cooking in some way or another and the house was filled with the 'amazing scent of spices and man food,' as Emmett and Jake called it. Jacob had reluctantly flipped off the television before kissing her goodbye and heading towards the airport. Not five minutes after she had finally sat down, her cell phone started ringing. I swear, I will never get a break today. She thought as she crossed the room, her scowl immediately changing to a smile when she saw her best friend's name flash across the caller ID.

"Alice!" She exclaimed.

"Bella!" Alice said, returning Bella's enthusiasm. "Is this a good time then?" She questioned. Bella never answered the phone that way when Jake was around, and their talk time was always limited.

"Yeah. He went to go pick up Em and Rose so I've got a good hour or two before he'll be back. I'm cooking though so I may have to stick you on the headset for a while."

"Isabella Black, when are you going to get a Bluetooth? Those things are so much clearer and your way less likely to melt it while you're cooking dinner."

"Alice, that only happened once – two years ago. Let it go. Besides, I'm three times as likely to lose it, and bound to run the battery dead all the time. Drop it." Bella said, slightly annoyed. Alice changed the subject quickly.

"So, Em and Rose are coming back tonight? You must be excited, right? You haven't seen them since last Christmas, have you? I haven't seen them since the wedding..." She trailed off.

"Yes, they are. I was excited but today just kept going from bad to worse, I swear. I overslept, I didn't get a decent shower, my boss handed me three repeats from Bartleby, and Jake forgot his key, making me spill a hot latte on my feet when he knocked on the door as hard as he could. And that's only what I can remember right now. There's so much more than that."

"Wow, that… yeah, sorry sweetheart. Anything I can do to help?" Alice questioned, knowing there wasn't.

"Yeah, get your tiny butt on a plane and come see me." Bella joked, only half kidding.

"I've been trying to find time, I promise. It's just I've been trying to get organized for this new line, you know, and free time is proving impossible." She said with remorse in her tone. "I wish you could come see me."

"I don't work for myself, Ali. My boss is being supreme evil lately and you know with all the time I took off earlier in the year to help Dad that I won't be able to get anymore off until after the first of the year, at least. Besides, Jake's not crazy about the idea."

"I know he's not, but he really needs to get over it. We were all friends once, Bells, and it's ridiculous that he gets like this. Hell, the three of us roomed together for an entire summer! I'm so sick of not being able to have a real conversation with you just because he's around." Alice vented.

Bella immediately felt guilty, she knew that her decisions in the past had played a major role in Jake's opinions about Alice but she also knew that wasn't why she couldn't talk to Alice with Jake around. "Ali, he's not like that and you know that. It's just... He's completely fine about all of that, he never even brings it up, but it's an uncomfortable situation to put him in. You know?" She asked, knowing Alice would at least relent a little. In all honesty, she had a hard time talking to Alice around Jake. It wasn't that Alice ever intentionally said anything, but she could never pick up on the impact the conversation was having on Bella from across the telephone line. Alice had many talents, but cross-country perception wasn't one of them. In person, she would have noticed the blank stare that crossed Bella's face, or the sudden nervousness in the pit of her stomach, or the way her foot would start tapping repetitively on the floor. Although it was probably better Alice couldn't tell – it would only make it worse – but she wasn't sure if Jacob could tell and that was nothing she needed to put him through.

"I know, sweetie. I just hate how we've all become so distanced. Em in Tennessee, you two in Seattle, and Edward and I in New York. It's all I've been thinking about lately. So, listen, I know that Em's moving back and I'm starting to think I should too. This business just isn't taking off here, too much competition probably. I might even do better just launching it online. If I do though, I don't want things to be weird. I mean between Jake and I, anyway." Alice nervously rambled out, the way she usually did when she was hiding something. Bella didn't care what that was though, since Alice had just dropped a big piece of news in a rambled out monologue.

"Ali! Are you serious? That would be amazing! I'll keep Jake on his best behavior, I promise." Bella exclaimed as her foot began bouncing in place.

"Well," Alice began nervously continuing where she left off, "the thing is… I was hoping that once Emmett and Rose get a place that maybe I could stay with you guys? I really don't have anywhere to stay in Seattle and I don't want to stay in Forks. Please, don't make me stay in Forks!" Bella thought it over, and decided there were one hundred things that could go wrong with the idea, but she didn't care.

"I'll talk to him, Alice. I'll let you know in the morning, okay? I'll call you on my way into the office."

"Or you could call me on a smoke break? You know I hate getting up that damn early."

"Sure, sure. Well, I really need to get things going here. I'll talk to you in the morning."

"Ok, bye gorgeous, love you." Alice said, with just a hint of hope in her voice. Bella returned the sentiment and, after ending the call, returned to her evening responsibilities. Her hands kept busy but her mind was somewhere else completely. There were a thousand scenarios playing through her head and she wasn't sure if any of them were plausible.

She and Jake had practically grown up together. They both lived with their dads, who happened to be extremely close. Well, as close as men can get to each other. Jake was a couple years younger than her, and went to school on the reservation instead of Forks High, but their dads had always banked on them ending up together. That is, of course, what happened, but not without quite a few bumps in the road. They stayed close throughout her first half of high school, spending practically all of their time together, and even came close to dating a couple times. Then came Bella's junior year. That's the year that Alice moved to Forks and met Bella, and with Alice came Edward. Edward was pretty quite when he started at Forks. He played on the baseball team with Emmett but never really talked to many people. Emmett spent most of his time 'protecting his baby sister,' and Alice and Bella were becoming fast friends, so they ended up like the four musketeers of Forks High School. Alice and Emmett were always loud, laughing, and doing something out of the ordinary while Bella and Edward would tuck their heads and roll their eyes. The four balanced each other out pretty nicely, and on the Sundays when Jake would appear in their group, that balance wasn't disturbed. It was definitely calmer, but not disturbed. Bella had noticed Edward immediately, there was something unnaturally beautiful about him. He had unruly bronze hair, a strong jaw, a piercing gaze, and a smile that made the school's female population melt. He was remarkable. Edward and Bella began dating about two months into the school year and from that point on, everything between Edward and Jacob was quite literally a pissing contest.

When Edward moved away to college, he and Bella decided to continue their friendship but not to worry over a long distance relationship. A senior in high school and a freshman in college had much more to worry about than a cross country relationship. Of course, Edward hadn't counted on Jacob. Not one to miss an opportunity, Jake swooped in as soon as he could. Bella, although she knew it was the right decision at the time, had an extremely difficult time with the separation. She lost contact with most of her friends and moped around most of the time. Emmett, Alice, and Jake were the only ones who could get two words out of her. Edward was caught up in schoolwork most of the time and their conversations became less and less frequent. By the second month of school they only spoke once a week, at best. Jacob was there for Bella, as always, and she attempted to use Jake to fill the void. She knew what she was doing and she wasn't proud of herself for doing it, but she needed to be able to breathe again, to be able to just live. For the most part, it worked. They started dating and became pretty serious – more serious than Bella had ever been with a guy before, including Edward. When the time came for Bella to start putting in applications for college, she applied everywhere. She and Alice had decided shortly after meeting that they were going to room together – no matter what – for the duration of college. They ended up with a few mutual acceptances but eventually decided on New York. Bella had no intentions of making the same mistake twice, and was fully prepared to try to maintain her relationship with Jake. It would be hard with Edward around, but they had been just friends once, and she was certain she could do it again. Jake didn't agree. He was furious that she would be in the same city as Edward and he would be stuck in high school. He told her he couldn't do it, he couldn't live with that doubt, and Bella said she understood.

She did, of course, but it didn't stop her from hurting. She resented Jake for having that doubt in her but realized after her first day in New York that it wasn't without precedence. Edward had the ability to be everything right and everything wrong in her life; he could be absolutely frustrating and absolutely enticing at the same time. He was it for her. For a while, anyway. Then things started going bad shortly after her college graduation and she ended up returning to Seattle. The rest, as they say, is history.

Jake never openly talked about his feelings over the past. He never said "I told you so," or accused her of loving Edward still, or brought up the way her focus shifted when the topic turned to Edward. But he knew. And Bella knew he knew. Just as the way her eyes shifted towards the person who said Edward's name, Jacob's eyes shifted to her. If they were with a group of friends and she told a college story, Jake's glance would lower to the rim of his beer bottle and he wouldn't resume interest in the conversation until it was over. Jake didn't spend time worrying over Edward, and Bella was thankful for that. Even if the man would still make her heart stop, she wouldn't hurt Jake anymore. She couldn't. He had always been like her best friend. He had always protected her when she needed it, and comforted her when she wouldn't admit she needed it. His immaturity brought her to the point of irritation daily, but brightened her stressful evenings without fail. He stuck his tongue out to lighten the mood, spoke in baby talk to make her giggle, and went on rants about the most miniscule things until they were both laughing so hard their sides hurt. All of these things that amused Bella in private, but embarrassed her in public, were the very reason she loved him. She loved they could throw insults back and forth, and argue about the DVR. She loved that he didn't give in to make her happy, and that she didn't give up her life to be with him. She loved that she could get mad at him, and he at her - that she wasn't consumed by him. They were equals, they were friends, and they were comfortable ever after.