The Indies First Time Writers Challenge" One-Shot Contest

Title: Soaked In Cinnamon

Pen name: queenxfrostine

Primary Players: Edward and Bella

Rating: M (AH, OOC)

Word Count: 14,386

Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight, or its characters. That's all Stephenie Meyer.

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EDWARD

FRIDAY, MAY 18th, 8:00 PM

I didn't know whether to be frustrated or amused.

Alice sat sheepishly on Jasper's lap, not willing to be out of physical contact with him. I understood that unfortunately, and couldn't really be mad at her for crashing our pre-party poker hour. Amused it was, I guess.

I didn't have that kind of actual, tangible commitment to anyone. Neither did Emmett, but that didn't stop him from grunting and sitting back in the folding chair, arms crossed, and a sour look on his face.

He was just bitter.

At least Alice brought cigars. He should've been happy about that, for fuck's sake.

I never minded when Alice was around. She was good spirited and mostly drama-free, which was a change from the girls that Emmett and I usually brought home. Jasper was always the most levelheaded of our trio, and it didn't surprise me in the least that he had been with Alice for over two years.

Alice vocally admitted that she wanted to be near Jasper for these last twenty-four hours of blissful college freedom. I knew Jasper felt the same way, as he was giving Alice these wistful looks and his hands kept gently caressing her back. If he had admitted it aloud, Emmett would have material to harass him for weeks to come.

"Alright, Brandon." Emmett said, sitting up with a loud thump of metal to wood. "If you're going to stay here, at least sit in your own fucking chair, and deal yourself in."

Alice grinned, glad to have won the silent battle. She grabbed a chair and pushed it as close to Jasper as possible. Emmett rolled his eyes, but I knew it was for show; he liked Alice just as much as I did.

Mostly because she was good friends with Rosalie Hale. And she had a tendency to, when Jasper was out of earshot, inform us of the things Jasper liked in bed.

This obviously provided us with endless entertainment. Jasper had a fixation with candy stripers and leather apparently. And candy stripers in leather.

"Okay boys, what'll it be," Alice said, taking Jasper's cigar out of his mouth and popping it in her own, "five cards? Any wilds?" We played a couple hands in easy camaraderie. She fit in with us, despite her being the only one without a penis. She might have been Jasper's girlfriend, but she was like a sister to Emmett and I. Annoying, crude and truthful, she often told us things we never wanted to hear about girls, or even know about girls. Sometimes it was insightful and helpful. Other times it was downright terrifying. The fact that I knew whom Tory Birch and Michael Kors were was definitely troubling. And that I knew that tampons came in three different sizes... absolutely fucking horrifying.

But that was Alice. She liked to pass her knowledge on, and she liked to help. Her happiness was always a direct result of those around her. If her friends weren't happy, neither was she.

She was beyond the moon ecstatic with Jasper, and in natural form, wanted to see his friends happy and stable relationships, just like she was. She had made half-hearted attempts to set me up with her scores of friends, but I had always declined. The shrewd look in her eyes every time this topic came up led me to believe she knew more – much, much more – than she ever verbally let on.

Emmett was a different story, however.

Emmett completely and totally loses his shit when it comes to Rosalie Hale. His crush on her made him all sorts of silly in her presence. Rosalie lived with Alice, and therefore spent a lot of her time with Alice, who spent her time with Jasper, who lived with Emmett and I. Emmett's advances were pathetic, and I could say so because I've known the fucking prick since we were in diapers. Alice, of course, trying to make Emmett happy, had pulled the two towards each other, with no results. Rosalie Hale was simply not interested in Emmett, or so her actions implied.

Poor Emmett. To be cock blocked by one of the hottest women - and damn, Rosalie was a woman – on campus was definitely rough.

If you liked that vivacious blonde, big blue eyed, squeezable breasts kind of thing.

I preferred brunettes, really. Not that I couldn't appreciate what Rosalie had to offer.

Alice shuffled the cards after her last hand and a devious smirk lit up her face. Jasper, who was too caught up in playing with Alice's hair, didn't see, and Emmett was concentrated on pouring liquor into shot glasses.

I, however, got nervous. She was obviously up to something. Alice was always up to something.

"So, what's the official plan for the night, gentlemen?" She asked.

"Well, first, we're going to take these shots." Emmett pushed the glasses towards us, filled to the brim with Irish whiskey, an apartment favorite. Alice took the tiny glass up to her nose and sniffed; smiling when she realized what was in there.

Another reason to like Alice. She knew and appreciated good liquor, unlike most of the girls I came in contact with. But then again, Alice wasn't like most girls.

She was the first to slam the shot glass on the table.

Jasper eyed her appreciatively.

"Okay. Now that that's out of the way," said Emmett, "we're going to turn on some music, and I'm going to get dressed. No one is going to complain that I'm putting The Beatles on, because, fuck, I'm in that kind of mood, and it's my stereo. And Edward is going to shower, after he finishes the beer he's been nursing for the past hour. You're a pussy, by the way."

I stuck my middle finger in the air on reflex, knowing it'd take more to insult Emmett, whose veneer, I swear, was made of pure iron. No doubt, as Rose has spurned him more times than I could even count, and yet he always goes back for more.

"Lame." He said. "Anyway, we're going to get ready, drink more beers, you know. You and Jasper are going to lock yourselves in his room for twenty minutes, because he hasn't gotten laid in 24 hours and he's due. Keep it to twenty, okay? We have some more drinking to do before the party commences." He commanded.

Alice sipped her own beer, which, I have to admit, was her third for the evening, and nodded her consent. I frowned, realizing that the Coors in my hand was indeed only my second. Shit. I'd have to drink at least three more to get Emmett off my back. My mind had been wandering, and I hadn't been focusing on the most important task of the night: getting fucked up. After all, this night was the culmination of our college experience. "Perfect. Rosalie and Bella are going to meet us here, so we can all go together." Alice didn't ask.

She didn't have to.

She knew that Emmett would be perfectly fine with Rosalie coming here, obviously.

And she didn't give a fuck what I said about Isabella Swan coming over. I assumed that I was completely transparent in Alice's eyes when it came to her third roommate. No matter what negative or unsavory thing came out of my mouth about, and to, Bella, Alice knew that I felt the complete opposite.

For such a little fucking thing, Alice Brandon was uncannily perceptive.

Bella was beautiful, no denying that. Everything about her drew me in. I wanted to bend her over and fuck her till she screamed my name. I wanted to buy her flowers and see her smile. I wanted to know what her favorite color was, which side of the bed she slept on, whether she slept naked or not. I wanted to know everything.

As much as I ragged on Emmett for being completely undone by Rosalie, I knew I was much, much worse with Bella. Which was exactly why I never told him, or Jasper, how I felt about her.

She was unattainable, off-limits. Plus there was the fact that she thought I was an egotistical, petty asshole. I overheard her complaining to Rosalie once, at a party. I knew she liked guys who were had that whole rough-looking-but-a-sweetheart-on-the-inside thing going on. Dark, dangerous and edgy.

Jacob Black, her boyfriend since fucking forever, was all of those things, and more.

He had a motorcycle, which he zipped around on campus illegally. There was constantly a five o'clock shadow gracing his chin. His eyes were a hard, cold black, but melted when he looked at Bella, and she ate that shit up. She looked at him as if he were her own personal god.

I glanced down at my jeans and tee shirt combination, a standard in my wardrobe. I ran a hand over my weird, copper-colored hair, which never liked to lay flat on my head. I knew without looking that my eyes betrayed everything I was feeling, usually.

I couldn't even begin to compare myself to Jacob Black.

Thankfully there were enough girls at the university who liked what I had going on. While I was no dangerous, broody type, I knew I had a certain appeal. The hours I spent at the gym, I knew, transformed my formally wiry build to something long and lean. Girls liked that.

Girls liked me. Between Emmett, who certainly wasn't ugly in any right, and I, we had probably hit on, hooked up with, and or fucked half of our class.

Hey, Emmett had to let off some steam every time Rosalie blew him off.

If Jasper had been single, we would have doubled that number. The fucker was good-looking too, and certainly a charmer.

But none of that mattered, really. Bella Swan had me at the balls from the moment I saw her, four years ago, the first month of school, way before her roommate had started dating my roommate. She was just a fantasy then, some random girl on campus who turned me on with one smile, more than any of the girls I've ever met combined. I swear I had a boner for at least an hour after than encounter.

Alice saw that too, the first time Bella and I interacted in her presence, two years after that day. I had to get quite good at slyly rearranging my junk any time Bella was around. I reacted to her in the only way I though I could – and that was to mostly be a complete ass. It was deceiving on my part, and it got tiring, having to act like I couldn't stand the one person I wanted to know more than anyone. But if I hadn't, then everyone would have seen through me, including Jacob.

Not going to lie, the motherfucker scared me a little bit.

I shook the pitiable thoughts from my head. Obviously, I was feeling overly sentimental about the end of college.

I snorted.

Yeah, right. Even my conscience was betraying me tonight.

While I had been lost inside of my own head, everyone else had dispersed to the tasks that Emmett had laid out. I heard Alice's giggle from behind Jasper's closed door, and cursed him for getting laid. Emmett had turned the stereo on and Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band was blasting through the apartment.

I did the only thing I could do. I downed the rest of the beer and hopped in the shower. I had a night of drunken debauchery to look forward to, Bella Swan or no Bella Swan.

FRIDAY, MAY 18th, 9:20 PM

An hour and some time later found us all in the same place – sitting around the table - complete with Rosalie Hale, all cocky attitude and sexy outfit, and Bella Swan, who was surprisingly sedate.

Something was off in her appearance, and her manner. Usually she had no probably verbally sparring with me, but she had walked in, carrying her own bottle of whiskey, a look of resolve on her face, not saying a word.

The bottle had gone from full to three quarters full in about five minutes, thanks to Bella's rapid intake of shots.

Emmett asked her what was wrong. They had a comfortable relationship, as friends. Emmett had made a pass at her, once, about a year ago, when she and Jacob were on a break for some trivial reason. They had kissed, Emmett said, and then laughed at each other. There was no more between them than friendship.

Emmett had done so to make Rosalie jealous, which did not work. Of course, with my secret… whatever… towards Bella, I hadn't said anything, even though it killed me to think that Emmett had put his lips on hers. Emmett would have had a field day with that, which is why I kept it to myself.

Instead, I got drunk and tried to kiss Rosalie, which earned me two black eyes, one from Rosalie herself, the other from Emmett. My thinking was that if he could do it, then I could, too, right?

Except Bella gave me a deadly glare and loudly told Alice that I was a pig for trying to get with the girl my best friend liked.

Side note: if your friends jump off a bridge, it doesn't mean you have to.

Bella didn't answer him right away, instead just took the shots she had laid out in front of her, and then mumbled. "IbrokeupwithJacob."

"You what with Jacob?" Emmett boomed. He insists on keeping the music at ear-splitting level.

"Jesus Christ, Emmett." Rosalie, who had been sitting quietly at the table, content with her beer and letting Alice gossip in her ear, finally spoke. Emmett immediately turned his attention away from Bella. "Turn that shit down."

He grabbed the remote without delay and John's upbeat voice decreased in volume instantly. "Sorry." He grinned guiltily, his focus now on Rosalie. "You need a drink? Or anything?"

Rosalie held up her beer can and arched an eyebrow. Emmett turned into a man possessed when he was around Rosalie, caving to her every need, giving into her every whim. She knew she had complete and utter control over the poor guy. To her credit, she didn't often bank on that fact. She let him do what he needed to do, and talked to him like a human being.

I think, somewhere under the bitch, there was a real person with a huge heart.

I had been smirking without realizing it. Rosalie caught my eye and smiled, a real smile, probably having known what I've been thinking.

I didn't like to admit it, but Rosalie and I got along astonishingly well. Sometimes I thought we tolerated each other to avoid interaction with Bella and Emmett. Guaranteed, if I wasn't avoiding Bella, I was arguing with her, and same went for Rosalie and Emmett. Though Rosalie knew of Emmett's feelings, and Bella didn't of mine.

"Bella, what did you say?" Emmett asked again. Alice and Rosalie both got these concerned looks on their faces when the attention shifted back to Bella. She gulped down more whiskey before answering, this time slurring her words a bit.

"I broke up with Jacob. Yesterday."

Emmett's face instantaneously grew concerned and he reached over to comfort her. I, however, watched Rosalie, her eyes having gone soft with Emmett's obvious desire to comfort an emotional Bella.

Huh. Interesting.

"Why?"

When everyone turned and looked at me, open-mouthed except for Alice, I realized that question had come out of my mouth. Fuck.

Bella snapped her mouth shut and audibly swallowed. I had no idea what the fuck that was about, but she just kept my gaze. I raised my eyebrows. "He got Charlotte Lincoln pregnant. And has been cheating on me for months."

"Oh." I paused, realizing that a once-syllable response wasn't exactly appropriate. "I'm sorry to hear that."

Bella sort of half smiled. "Thanks." She raised her shot – the fourth one in a row – and held it in mock salute. "But its okay, now. The relationship was over anyway. I was too afraid of what it would mean if I ended it. Charlotte being pregnant gave me a reason to. I don't feel bad about it anymore." Her words were nonchalant, but her expression betrayed something else entirely. Not sad, really. I couldn't place my finger on it.

She held my eyes as she said this. I could feel my dick coming to attention beneath my zipper, and I tried to subtly shift in my chair. Bella was talking about breaking up with her boyfriend, for fuck's sake, and I was getting hard.

Sometimes, the singularity of my mind astonishes even myself.

I smiled, unable to form words. Motherfucker, I talked about Emmett losing his shit over Rosalie... I was losing it over Bella.

Even though, at that point, I was five Coors deep and had no plans to stop, I didn't feel intoxicated. After tomorrow, I wouldn't have the buffer of Jasper and Alice's relationship, or Emmett's obsession with Rosalie, to see Bella anymore. We were all graduating college. I wouldn't be down the street from Bella anymore. Fuck, I wouldn't even be in the same state as her anymore. I was heading off to New York City after a brief visit to my hometown, having lined up a job months ago. My thing - fuck it, crush - on Bella Swan would have to lay itself to rest tomorrow.

The thought itself was frustrating, disheartening, and depressing all at once.

Emmett was looking at me funny, I noticed, once again getting lost inside of my own head. I realized I was frowning, and plastered a grin on my face before Alice could pick up on it.

"Fuck it." I said, lifting my beer to the center of the table. Everyone else followed. "It's the last night of college. Let's have some more beers, and then let's go to the Greenbriar and get fucked up. Let's make this a good night."

Emmett's shout and Alice's laugh echoed my sentiment. We all brought our glasses and beers together.

It was not lost on me that Bella's gaze never left mine.

FRIDAY, MAY 18th, 12:00 AM (GRADUATION DAY.)

Man, I was fucked.

The Greenbriar was definitely known for its parties, and tonight was no exception. I had realized early in the night that sleeping would probably not be an option, and that I would be walking to get my diploma either still drunk, or extremely hung over.

Always the thoughtful Alice, she had supplied our apartment with coffee, aspirin and ginger ale.

She also informed me, once arriving at the party, that Rosalie, Bella and herself would be sleeping over, and we would be going to graduation together.

The though of Bella Swan sleeping somewhere in my apartment had my junk at full salute, again.

Then I had wandered off in search of something stronger than the 30 of Coors that Emmett had carried in, and wound up playing a spirited game of Kings with a bunch of people in the kitchen, Bella and Rosalie included.

They were sharing a chair, one sillier than the other. We were playing with a cluster of kids that we usually hung out with – Jessica, Lauren, Tyler, Mike, Connor, the latter three whose house we were in – who were all equally as fucked up as I felt.

Was there two of Rosalie, or was she just swaying from side to side too fast?

"EDWARD!" someone yelled at me and I snapped my attention back to the game at hand. Jessica was holding up an 8 of Clubs – 8 meant... fuck. It meant pick a mate. I looked down at the cup I was holding. I had jumped on the whiskey train with Bella. Fortunately, it was still going down smooth and delicious.

College had made my drinking tolerance very high.

Speaking of high, a whiff of that green, delectable contraband floated around my nose, and I instantly wanted some.

Instead I smiled crookedly at Jessica and tapped my solo cup against hers. She tipped her head back, intent on finishing her drink. I just took a few sips. There were still half the cards out on the table; the game wasn't nearly over yet.

Mike, who was sitting next to me, pulled an Ace – and the entire table groaned. Waterfall. Motherfucker – since I was last, I would have to be drinking the longest. Definitely not going to happen if I wanted to keep my dignity and not throw up everywhere.

"Whoops!" I said immediately. "Empty drink! Gotta refill! Please, don't stop the game on my account."

I hopped up from the table without waiting for a response from any of them – instead I felt various objects that had been littered around the kitchen hit my back, and Rosalie calling me a pussy.

Man, I would definitely miss college.

I stumbled outside, on the front porch. To my surprise, the only person out there was Jasper, and he was sucking down a cigarette. I held my hand out in a silent question, and he had a Marlboro placed in my open palm before I could even blink.

"Thanks." I light it from the butt of Jasper's cigarette. He had officially given up smoking six months ago, but occasionally still dabbled. When he was stressed, or annoyed, or upset.

From the look on his face, I would have to say the last.

"What's up, J." I asked him. Or slurred at him.

He sighed into his drink.

"Dude. Do I have to whine to get it out of you?"

He looked at me. "You're drunk enough that you're not going to remember this tomorrow, right?"

Was I? "I honestly don't know, but you can try. I promise I'll pretend like I have no idea what you're talking about."

That elicited a laugh from him, and I could some of the tension leave his body. "I'm going to miss Alice. This may sound all lame, like I'm pussy-whipped or something, but she's the best thing that ever happened to me, and not being around her for the next three months is going to be torture." Alice was going home, to Los Angeles, for a few months before coming back east, something that annoyed Jasper to no end.

"Plus, you're not going to be able to put it in her… at all."

We laughed together as only two not quite mature, almost college-graduates could.

"Well, there's that too, but it's more." He took a drag from the cigarette and held it up, examining it with one eye closed. "I miss these fuckers." He dropped it to the ground and crushed it beneath the toe of his shoe. "What about you, man. I know you're going to miss me, obviously."

"Shut the fuck up."

We stupidly grinned at each other. Jasper titled sideways, or maybe I did. Either way, we both started to laugh in earnest. "Look, lets just go inside, and have a good fucking time, you know? We can worry about this adult shit tomorrow, after we actually graduate. You go find Alice, and I'll get Emmett and those other two, and we'll go fucking play a card game, drink some beers." I tried to play it off like it was no big deal. His eyebrows rose suggestively.

"You know, Edward. Maybe it's time for you to admit what you're really after." He said cryptically, but he had my brain reeling. What was he implying here?

"What the fuck –"

"Edward, not to me. You know who you need to talk to." He waved his arms around, gesturing to the party, the people. "You might not have another chance, you know. Sometimes things happen for a reason. Just go with it, you fuck." He took the cigarette from my fingers and took a drag of it, and again, crushed it beneath his shoe. "I really miss these fuckers." He looked up at me, dead in the eye. "I think I saw Rosalie go to the upstairs bathroom. Why don't you go find her?"

The infliction in his tone implied so much more than what he was actually saying, but whom he was having me go after was a bit confusing. Alice was perceptive, I knew, and probably shared with Jasper, so why Rosalie? Whatever. My brain was too fuzzy to actually care. I knew I'd probably find Bella wherever Rosalie was.

In a rare moment of affection, I reached for him, and pulled him into a one-armed man hug. Fuck, maybe it was the whiskey. I would be seeing Jasper soon – he had taken a job in the city, too, and we'd once again be living with each other – but it wouldn't be the same as it was now. His hand clasped me firmly on the back, and I knew he was thinking the same thing.

I took off inside, to find Rosalie, to find Bella, and to play some fucking card games with my friends.

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The upstairs of the house was surprising empty, and with the exception of one locked door and with the heavy breathing coming from behind it, I'd say whoever was in there was preoccupied. Definitely not Rosalie. I did find a half-finished joint in one of the bedrooms, still smoking, so I decided to rescue it. The owners would never know it was gone.

I stood in the hallway, perplexed, a solo cup in one hand, the joint in the other, my drunken mind taking me all sorts of places I didn't want to go. It was a shock to realize that I'd never be able to be this irresponsible again. The thought of becoming an official adult in about twelve hours was unnerving.

I took a sip, to forget. I took a hit, to feel better.

And I heard the laughter.

It was coming from the bedroom down the hall, one that I had poked my head in and didn't see anyone. Obviously I hadn't looked close enough, because there was someone in there, laughing.

I hoped it was Rosalie and Bella. I was in the mood to play card games with my friends, and enjoy this last night of unencumbered fun.

The bedroom was empty. The TV off, the stereo off. Where did that laughter come from? I heard it again. It was sweet, like chimes.

Fuck. Here I go again with the sappy shit.

The curtains blew into the room, and that's when I noticed the window. I realized I've been in the room before - realized it was Tyler's - and I remembered that he had access to the slanted roof that enclosed the living room.

I got the shock of my life when I stuck my head out the window and looked to my right.

Bella Swan was sitting against the house. A solo cup in one hand, a joint in the other, laughing, her beautiful russet colored hair fanning out around her because of the wind. Her head immediately turned when she heard my intake of breath. My feet were planted on the carpet inside, while the upper half of my body was leaning out... solo cup and joint still in my hands.

I'm sure I looked a little odd. I mean... yeah. There I was, holding the same things in my hand as she had in hers, and staring at her, open-mouthed.

I was surprised to see her up here, but even more surprised to see her laughing.

And, of course, the fucking idiot that I am, I said the first thing that popped into my head.

"Have you seen Rosalie?"

Yeah, smooth Edward.

Her face lost the laugh, and she frowned. Another Bella expression that I was going to be obsessing over for days to come. Then, she looked thoughtful.

"I came up here looking for Emmett." She said. It was my turn to frown now. "But I couldn't find him. I couldn't find anyone." The sadness in her voice was undeniable, and all I wanted to do want crawl out next to her and ask her what was wrong. "Then I found this," she held the up joint, "and wanted to be outside, so..." she trailed off, looking uncomfortable with the information she had shared with me.

"I found this too." I held up the joint in my own hand. "I guess these fucks just have some to spare." I lifted my mouth to smile, hoping to erase some of the morose written clearly in her expression. She smiled, but it didn't reach her eyes. "Why were you laughing?"

Her eyes left mine and looked out in to the yard, which was littered with people, and kegs, and beer pong tables. It was nearing 1 o'clock, so my internal timer said, and this party had no intentions of fading out any time soon. "It's stupid." She said quietly.

Jasper's voice echoed in my mind. "You might not have another chance, you know. Sometimes things happen for a reason. Just go with it, you fuck. Yeah, I was a fuck. I was leaning out of a window, trying to hold a conversation.

I realized it was now or never. Fuck it; even if she didn't respond to me like I wanted to, or in any capacity, at least after tomorrow, I wouldn't have to willingly see her.

Ever again.

I shuddered.

I sucked it up.

I put the joint in my mouth, and climbed out the fucking window.

And in my super-smooth way, I almost tumbled off the roof. I had forgotten, in this unexpected opportunity, that I was rightly kind of tanked. I had gotten very, very good at speaking like I was sober, but sometimes my body betrayed me and acted drunk. Like it was now.

Though it had made Bella smile, so I didn't mind, that much.

"I'm sure its not stupid, Bella."

"This is just ridiculous." She spewed suddenly. "How are we graduating college tomorrow? It feels so surreal. I was laughing... because…" she trailed off again, unable to form words to match her thoughts. Luckily, I had a similar outlook to our inevitable predicament, so I knew what she was feeling.

"I get it. Unfortunately." I vocalized before the silence stretching between us became uncomfortable. "And it really fucking sucks."

She giggled, this time not a trace of sadness to bed found. I leaned back against the house next to her and took a drag of my joint. I'd probably regret that later, but Bella was smoking too. Speaking of. "Since when do you smoke weed? You never join in when Jasper and I do." Jasper and I occasionally would fire up his bong from freshman year. When we were bored.

She shrugged. "I didn't do a lot of things that I wanted to when I was with Jacob. It's the last night of college, you know? I know my life's not ending. But it sort of feels like it. And I just don't give a fuck." She said truthfully. "I'm not making sense, I know." Incidentally, she shot me a sideways look. "Why are you being so nice to me?"

"I'm never not nice to you."

"Okay, I take that back. Why are you deeming me worthy of your time? Usually you just blow me off, or try to pick fights with me." the 'e' on her last word dropped off a bit, and I knew she had had more than enough whiskey and probably enough marijuana. Gently, I took the cup from her hand and set it next to mine. She didn't object, and I didn't answer her.

Instead I stared.

I wondered why, now, of all nights, she asked. Why she wasn't meeting my eyes, and why there was an undeniable blush to her pale cheeks, that wasn't from the drugs or the alcohol.

I know Bella's face. I've spent many, many hours studying it, in a lame attempt know at least one part of her intimately. Even though we'd been connected by Alice and Jasper for two years and had to endure each other's company, and I've lusted after her for four, I've barely touched the surface on knowing her. One thing was for sure though - I felt like I was staring at the most beautiful thing on the planet, staring at her.

Fuck.

"You're—"

"Did you ever regret something, Edward? Did you ever regret something so much you felt like it changed your life?"

Yes.

I closed my mouth in a hurry, Bella having cut me off. She turned to face me, the blush still on her cheeks, but her eyes all fired up. They burned with something that I couldn't even place.

How could I tell her that everything I ever regretted had to do with her? How could I tell her I regretted how I acted towards her? The question wasn't really how, but if I could. Was I brave enough to just put all of my trust in this one, candid moment?

I had just gotten the balls to tell when the unmistakable sounds of two people in the midst of passion floated out of the window. Bella and I froze in place, facing each other. Her eyes were wide and still burning with emotion, and I knew my expression was one of shock.

When the moans turned to words, I swear to god, I had to hold my hand over my mouth in order to keep from shouting.

It was Emmett and Rosalie. And the were hooking up.

I punched the air in silent victory. Hey, Emmett was my brother in every sense of the word, and to be fair, I liked Rosalie most of the time. At least Emmett had tonight. I wondered if the people I heard earlier in the bathroom were those two.

Bella was grinning ear to ear, finally something making her happy, and something clicked in my head. "So." I whispered conversationally. "How long has Rose had a thing for Emmett?"

"Just as long as Emmett has had a thing for Rose."

"Shut the fuck up."

"I will do no such thing." She whispered. "She didn't want to give in, you know how Rosalie hates being seen as weak."

"Son of a bitch. Poor Emmett." I sympathized with him for the poor timing, but cheered him on mentally. Lucky prick.

Rosalie moaned inside, and instructed Emmett to do something that I never, ever wanted to hear again. I was happy for the fucker, but still, I had my limits. "Looks like we're stuck, at least for a while. Unless you want to jump off the roof." Bella said, sighing.

"Have you ever been up here before?" I asked. She shook her head. "Come on." I stood up, a little shakily. Again, the conversation and our subsequent discovery had made me forgot that I had been drinking, and the ground a story below me seemed farther away than it actually was. "Fuck."

Suddenly a hand grabbed mine.. Bella's hand.

It didn't hit me until right that very second, but it seemed that Bella and I were having a moment. Maybe this was my moment. There was something different about Bella, something I noticed in the five minutes or so we'd been talking. Talking, not bantering. Talking, not me staring at her when she wasn't looking. Talking. Not... not talking.

She was talking to me. To me. Not arguing with me.

And she was looking at me. Really looking at me. Like she cared.

I led her to the side of the house, where there was a latter. I went down first, and then helped her down. I admit, I let my hands linger at her waist for longer than necessary.

My cock stirred in his nest and I mentally shushed him down. He was hoping for some action as much as I was... but there was bigger things going on. Yes, even than sex.

Maybe I was more mature than I thought.

We were in the back yard now, however, we were in a nook, set away from the people still littered around. I had hooked up with more than one girl here before, and I knew it was private.

I hadn't let go of Bella's waist.

She was looking up at me, and I looked down and met her eyes. They were huge, shadowed in the dark, but I could feel them on me. Watching.

Waiting? My drunken brain was making assumptions.

I instinctively moved closer to her, and her smell engulfed me. She was cinnamon and whiskey. Without really thinking about how creepy it was, I leaned in, and inhaled.

Her arms came around my back and gripped, and her breathing was coming at a steady in, out, in, out pace.

"Edward." her voice, her whispering my name made my heart jump. "What do you regret?" she asked again.

I don't know what came over me. Maybe it was the whiskey, or the weed, or her intoxicating smell. Maybe it was the fact that we were alone, and she wasn't making up an excuse to leave, or rebutting everything I said. Maybe it was the way her fingers were pressing into my back... pressing me closer to her.

"I regret not doing this sooner."

And I leaned in and kissed her.

She reacted instantly, hands flattening and pushing me forward. She wanted me to be closer, and fuck it, I got closer. Her lips were perfect; soft and smooth, and she knew what she was doing. Her tongue darted into my mouth and flicked my own, and I grabbed onto her bottom lip with my teeth instinctively pulling, biting. She moaned.

And I lost it.

The edge of the house was close, and I pushed her up against the wall. All rational thought, fuck, all coherent thought whatsoever, flew out of my head in an instant. She was all that there was. Her legs had spread open and I gladly stood between them, my dick pressing against the zipper of my pants, achingly hard. I pushed my body into hers, wanting to feel all of her. She gasped, and her hands slide down.

To my ass.

It was my turn to moan.

I was drowning in the feeling of her lips, the response of her body against mine. My hands roamed, desperate to touch her skin, pulling her shirt up and possessing her sides, destroying her skin. Her breasts, nipples taut and tight, instantaneously responded to my touch, even through her bra.

If her smile, that first time I saw her, turned me on, then my body was going to explode, right now. I was on fire, every part of me was alive.

When I pulled back after five minutes or five hours – time had become absolute – the first I did was draw her back into me. I hugged her. "I regret not telling you, showing you, how I felt about you. For years." I said truthfully, jumping off of the metaphorical cliff.

She didn't say anything, and for a few frantic seconds I feared that I had crossed the line. In limbo, I cursed myself for being such a fucking pussy, for putting myself out there, to her, because of Jasper's cryptic words, because of her cryptic looks. They could've meant anything, and I had to be a fucking idiot and interpret them in the most romantic way ever.

However, Bella hadn't let go over me. In fact, was downright clinging to me.

"Bella?" I coaxed. Whatever she was thinking, I had to know.

"EDWARD!"

The voice, which called my name, was definitely not Bella. But Jasper.

"ARE YOU BACK HERE, YOU SON OF A BITCH?"

"Is Jasper drunk?" Bella whispered into my chest.

"Jasper is beyond drunk. When have you ever heard him yell like that?"

"Good point. Shush."

I snorted, I couldn't help it. She had shushed me, of all things.

"EDWARD!"

Much like Bella had done before, I started to laugh at the absurdity of the situation. I had just blurted out that I had feelings for her for years after one stupid kiss. Okay, the kiss was better than I ever imagined it could be, but still. I didn't know her intentions. So, I laughed.

Which got Bella to laugh for some reason. I took a step back from her, immediately missing her pressed up against my body, because I heard approaching footsteps.

It was a nice feeling, to be able to share this state of near panic with someone. To share something with someone.

Jasper appeared on the edge of our nook. "HOLY FUCK!"

"Dude, you gotta stop yelling." It was Bella who spoke, and with more sobriety and calm that I could have mustered in that moment. Even as she was calm, my laughter got better of me, and I couldn't keep quiet.

I knew I was making an ass out of my self, but fuck, how else was I supposed to act? And, I guess I was still drunk. Scratch that. I was definitely drunk.

And Bella was looking at me like that, right now, in front of Jasper. Granted, Jasper was plastered.

Still.

Jasper was pretty perceptive, plus he had Alice talking in his ear, though he kept it under most people's radars. His head moved back and forth between Bella and I, now standing three feet apart. My body was still angled towards hers, and she was twisting her hands together. I knew what he saw. To save both of our asses, I turned the attention away from us.

"J, you'll never believe who Bella and I just had to escape from."

"Melissa and Joan Rivers." Jasper deadpanned, swaying to his left side.

"No, you fucking moron, and you've been spending too much time with Alice. Rosalie."

"And Emmett." Bella said, finishing my thought off nicely.

"Together."

"In Tyler's bed." Again, she picked up where I left off.

Jasper cursed happily. "For real? Where?" I pointed up, and Jasper immediately went about climbing the ladder. Seconds late Alice joined us, not surprised at all to see Bella and I together.

"What did I miss?" She slurred. Alice was 4'11'' and 90 pounds, tops. She usually wasn't a big drinker, and obviously tonight she had indulged.

Looks like someone would be praying to the porcelain gods tonight.

"Rosalie and Emmett are hooking up."

I swear to God, Alice's squeal made me deaf in my left ear. And then she scampered up the ladder after Jasper.

The second she was out of view, Bella was pushing me against the wall, much like I had done only minutes before. Her eyes, now that I could see them, were like liquid pools: deep and holding many emotions.

When her lips found mine in urgency, I realized that maybe one of her emotions had to do with me. Maybe this was her response to my confession. "Bella?"

"Later. Please. Talk later. Just kiss me now, for fuck's sake, before they come back down. Please, Edward."

I mean, I would have anyway, but it was the tone of her voice – borderline desperation – that made me move my lips forward. Most people would have pulled back. But I learned that sometimes, you just had to give into what people wanted and needed in that moment.

Bella wanted me to kiss her. So really, it was a no brainer.

Except the nagging question of why just simply wouldn't leave my near-empty, drunk head.

I groaned and gently pushed her off of me, just in time as Alice's feet came into view. With surprisingly graceful steps for someone so drunk, she jumped off the ladder and hit the ground talking a mile a minute. Jasper soon followed, muttering.

"Jasper?"

"Unfortunately blabbermouth over here couldn't keep it shut for more than two minutes, so they heard her and are coming down now. I think we should call it a night." He garbled, taking Alice's hand to keep him steady.

I had no problems with this. I wanted to be as far away from this party as possible right now, somewhere quiet to think about Bella and that kiss and her confusing physical response. Realistically, I knew that would never happen, as I would probably be dragged into drinking more. I sighed and jammed my hands into my pockets. Bella did much of the same, shifting from foot to foot. I was paranoid that they would become suspicious as to why I wanted to leave a perfectly awesome party with a lot of hot, single chicks.

They didn't know that the only one I every truly wanted was standing three feet to my right.

Fortunately we were out numbered.

So, we went home.

SATURDAY, MAY 19th, 2:30 AM (GRADUATION DAY.)

The walk home was eventful. Jasper had made a point to stop everyone we came across on the way back to our apartment and tell them that Emmett had kissed Rosalie. Well, the first time, he said fucked, which earned him a head slap (Rosalie) and a kidney punch (Emmett), so he switched to kiss, which, surprisingly, neither of them minded. Instead, they walked side by side, not touching, but obviously connected. Right down to the timing of their feet touching the pavement, their arms swinging back and forth.

Bella had shot me a panicked look and then glued herself to Alice's side. Every time she turned around, her eyes would meet mine, and a warmth would fill my chest.

I couldn't fully comprehend what had transpired between us in the nook of Tyler's house, or what was going to happen when we arrived home. I could taste her on my lips, in my mouth still - cinnamon, like her scent, and whiskey, like her drink - and, not going to lie, had to adjust my cock a number of times.

I may be a guy, but I had never had so many surprise erections in one night.

I walked behind the five of them, smoking cigarette after cigarette from the pack that I had stolen from Jasper. I was drunk, a little stoned, and complete aware of what was going on around me. My thoughts, however focused on Bella, would occasionally drift to the impending doom of graduation.

Which, on this side of the early morning, seemed scarier. Bigger, more meaningful.

Maybe it had to do with Bella. I didn't know what this meant, but it filled me with something that I couldn't even begin to describe. Hope? No, too dull of a word.

"E, man, you keep getting lost in your head today." Emmett was in front of me, talking. In my whiskey-weed-Bella daze, I had completely ignored the fact that we were back at the apartment. "Come on. There's still beer to drink, and stories to be told. We haven't played the game yet."

I cursed, a recollection appearing of Emmett declaring earlier that we had to share our favorite memories of college at some point this evening. For such a fucking big, overbearing male, Emmett could be the sappiest piece of shit sometimes.

He wasn't the only one, not today. I was equally as guilty. Even Jasper was, too.

As we settled around the living room with beers, I found myself staring at Bella. Okay, this wasn't a surprise, because it was one of my favorite hobbies, but I was seeing her in a whole new way. I knew how she tasted, and how she felt. I knew that she liked her lower lip bitten - telling me that maybe, maybe she didn't like to be handled gently. I felt my face flush.

Fuck. I hadn't blushed since… well, I can't even remember.

And I just got a whole new set of mental images, sure to keep me busy for hours and hours.

"Okay, I'll go first." Alice said. She had taken up her usual seat - in Jasper's lap. I looked at Jasper closely; in the light, he definitely looked worse for the wear - hair a mess, top three buttons of his shirt open, and what looked like grass stains on his knees. Grass stains? A quick look at Alice told me that they had gotten it on the woods surrounding the Greenbriar, tell-tale sign of leaves in her hair. "My best memory of college would probably be the day I met Jasper." Even though we all knew this was going to come out of her mouth, that didn't stop us from booing at her. Talk about sappy. "He had the wrong class, but didn't realize it until halfway through. Mr. Varner is one intimidating man, so Jasper was scared to leave when he was speaking. He had to suffer through an hour and a half of woman's civil rights before he could leave." She giggled. "The look on his face was priceless; he had thought he was in a civil war history class."

"I saw her watching me the entire class, and asked her out afterwards." Jasper slurred. "But that wasn't my favorite moment, sorry love. My favorite moment was walking in on these two," as he paused, I thought he was going to call Bella and I out, but he looked right past me, and to Emmett and Rosalie, "boning in Tyler's bed."

Emmett, who'd be a facade of calm pretty much all evening, got a mischievous grin on his face and stood up. "You know, Jasper, I was going to tell the story of the night Edward and I met you..." he trailed off when Jasper shook his head vigorously. I laughed, remembering the night - Emmett and I had come home from a freshman year frat party and opened up the bathroom door to a stark-naked Jasper and a nameless girl who had passed out on top of him, also naked. "But, instead, I think I'm just going to keep my mouth shut for the sake of Alice, and shotgun this beer." He pointed. "Who's in?"

The stories continued, increasing in hilarity and embarrassment, Emmett and Rosalie eventually battling it out to see who had the worst story. Even though I knew Rosalie, her hook ups and fuck buddies far surpassed mine, and Emmett's. But she never passed herself off as slutty - she did not sound regretful or embarrassed, just matter of fact. I respected her more, and I knew Emmett did too, from the joyous look on his face. I didn't come out of that war zone entirely unscathed though - Emmett singled me out on a few of my more embarrassing stories, making me cringe, with Bella listening.

While they bantered, though, I zeroed in on Bella. She was wedged on the couch next to Jasper and Alice, who were whispering to each other. She was listening to Rose and Emmett, and adding to the stories Rosalie was telling. I was the only one being quiet, and that was because I was watching Bella. Her expressions changed every few seconds, and when she wasn't speaking, her face fell into this soft expression first, then a panicked one.

When I thought back over the night, I realized her emotions were all over the fucking place. From resolved when she first showed up, to hysterical, to lustful, to panicked and regretful... but only once in there did I see true happiness.

It was after we kissed.

"Jasper's passed out." Alice suddenly said. He had rolled over Alice and laid, spread out, on the couch, throwing comments out of left field occasionally. Emmett carried him to his bedroom, and Alice shut the door.

With two people out, the four of us decided it was time to smoke some weed. Well, Rosalie decided to, and the three of us just kind of… let her do what she wanted. Bella and I had already enjoyed marijuana this evening, and while Emmett didn't smoke often, I knew he would do anything that Rosalie asked him to tonight. Even lick dead spiders off the bottom of her fucking shoes.

3, 4 o'clock came and went as we shot the shit, relaxing finally after a crazy day and night. The drugs had sobered me up quite a bit, and now I was just in this hazy, happy place. Bella had settled against Rosalie, and the two of them were talking quietly. Rosalie, once, looked up and arched her eyebrows at me, but nothing was said. Finally, Rose stood up. "Fuck this, Emmett, let's go to bed. I want you to fuck me again, and then I need at least four hours of sleep to look somewhat presentable for graduation."

She didn't have to tell Emmett twice; he was standing and walking toward his room even before she finished her sentence. But he paused. "Bella, you okay on the couch? Let me get you blankets." Emmett said, suddenly remembering there were other people in his apartment. She shook her head though.

"Its okay Emmett, I know where they are." She smiled gratefully and he closed the door.

Which left Bella and I alone.

We stood at the same time.

I was unsure about what to say. Her nervousness was palpable, and I wanted to elevate that. I also didn't want to be presumptuous and invite her back to my room without actually knowing if she wanted to do that. The move would have to be hers, and I would have to wait.

"Can we go to your room?"

Well, not very long, evidently.

"Alright."

She picked up the weed and the bowl that Rosalie had left on the coffee table, and walked in front of me and I closed the door. "Do you mind if I put some music on?" I asked tentatively. She looked like almost frightened, and I felt like any sudden movements or actions I would make would have her bolting right out of the door.

That was the last thing I wanted.

She nodded yes, and I turned my stereo on low. I wanted to make Bella comfortable, and I wanted to talk to her. Loud music would only hinder that from happening.

Bella sat on my bed, brown eyes repeated blinking and looking around my cluttered but mostly clean room.

Suddenly I felt very insecure. How many girls have I fucked on that bed? Better yet, how many girls have I fucked on that bed that I didn't care about? And even better still - when I was under the influence?

I did not want her sitting on that bed.

I couldn't ask her to move though, then I'd have to explain myself. Instead I grabbed my desk chair and straddled it, facing her. At least I could keep myself away from the bed.

I don't know why that made me feel better, but it did.

She lit the bowl up again and inhaled for a few seconds. "I never expected this night to go as it did."

I didn't know what to make of that sentence, positive or negative. "How did you expect it to go?"

She sighed. "I though it was just going to be another normal night, you know? Jasper and Alice wrapped up in their own bubble, Emmett looking longingly at Rosalie, and you and I ignoring each other or fighting. Rosalie would find a scumbag to take home, and you and Emmett would find slutty girls -" I winced when she said this, "- to take home, and then Jacob would pick me up." she inhaled again, coughing a little. "But then Jacob... well, Jacob turned out to not be the person I thought he was. And Rosalie got it in her head that this was her last chance to give Emmett what he wanted--"

"What?!" Rosalie planned that hookup?

"--and Jasper and Alice got wasted and you and I kissed."

"Do you regret that?"

"Do you?"

My immediate answer was no, of course not. Why the fuck would I regret kissing her? But then on second though… "I regret the circumstances in which the kiss happened. Not that it actually happened."

"Yeah." She simply said. "That was partly my fault." she looked down, embarrassed. "I don't know what came over me, really."

We sat in companionable silence for a little, passing the bowl back and forth as the outside sky became lighter and lighter.

"Are you scared?" she asked me, later. She had laid down on the bed and I had reclined in the seat, lazily going through my massive music collection to try and pick out songs that Bella would like, as we had gotten on the topic and I found her knowledge to be extremely limited. Jacob Black, apparently, had horrible taste in music.

We had successfully avoiding talking about anything serious – kisses and unsaid feelings, the fact that it was nearing 6am and neither of us had slept, having to get up for graduation in mere hours. I wasn't tired, however. Bella's energy seemed to radiate over everything, and I was buzzing. As corny as it sounded in my head, she was good company, and I've learned more about her in two hours than I have in two years.

"Scared of..."

"The future."

Fuck, that was a loaded question.

I felt the mood in the room instantly shift - Bella sat up, I straightened up. Here came the serious.

"Like," she blew out a breath, "my whole world has changed in the past 48 hours, and will change again tomorrow morning, and again after that. I feel alone all of a sudden. Like when I turn around, no one will be there. Does that make sense?"

I shook my head. "I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel the same way. I'm sure everyone does. We spent the last four years working towards this day, and it's here, and it's fucking unreal."

"The future is now." She quipped, quoting something that I couldn't place. "But I don't know if I'm ready." She blew out of breath. "Everything right now is so unsure, and I'm so scared."

"Scared to be alone." I clarified, remembering her statement from earlier.

"Yeah." She paused. "I didn't want to admit it. It sounds so pathetic to me. Does it sound pathetic to you? The truth."

"No more pathetic than me, for example. I've wanted something for years and never had enough balls to do anything about it."

Fuck. I had been saying things and thinking things like this all evening. I had blamed it on the night - the night before graduation, and then again on the alcohol and the drugs - but in reality, it was because of Bella. She made me feel soft, weak. Like I was unprotected. Like my heart was unprotected.

See? What normal 22-year-old guy thinks things like this?

Bella's stare broke me out of my reverie. "What?" I snapped.

She giggled. "You're all kinds of cute when you get lost in your head, you know. You get this look of concentration on your face. I can practically see your brain working."

Was she flirting with me? I looked at her closely, through my weed haze. Her eyes were half -closed and her face was flushed, a smile still on her face. I've seen this face before, when she'd been with Jacob. It was definitely her flirting face.

"I have a tendency to overanalyze."

"I've heard that." She said carefully, flipping over on her stomach and resting her chin on her clasped hands. "I've heard lots of things about you, actually."

Well, I never claimed to have a stellar reputation. I was hoping that she'd never heard anything, but girls talk. A lot.

"I hope they weren't all bad. Bella, I..."

She shook her head. "No excuses. You are who you are, you know? I don't think there's anything you could tell me that I haven't already heard, or assumed."

"Seriously?"

"Seriously." She quirked an eyebrow up and a tsmile graced her lips. "I won't judge you for your past, if you don't judge me."

"Where did you come from, the abandoned planet of cool girls?"

She chuckled. "No, just from a tiny town in Washington." She took a deep breath. "Can I ask you a question?" she said quickly. Like she was embarrassed.

"You already did." I tried my hand at flirting with her, and laughed when she rolled her eyes.

"Really, like I've never heard that before."

"Yes, you can ask me a question."

"Edward. Have you really had feelings for me for a while?"

Fuck. She had never really responded to my confession from when we were in the backyard of the Greenbriar, kissing me instead.

I groaned, that memory floating in my brain, cock hard yet again. "Yes, Bella, I've had feelings for you for a while." I held my breath as I waited for her to answer. There was no way she could avoid it this time; she had asked me to my face and there was no one around to interrupt. To my surprise, she smiled.

She shifted on the bed, her face growing uncomfortable. "I'm going to say this and sound like a huge girl, okay? So, apology in advanced."

"Say what you need to say."

She smiled a bit, but still wouldn't meet my eye - instead focusing on a spot to the right of my head. "Do you remember Emmett's birthday party last year? He was drunk even before we left the dorms. Rosalie was pissed because he was flirting with Lauren Malloy, and insisted that I go shot for shot with her." She shook her head at the memory. "Rose out drank everyone that night, even Emmett."

I was fuzzy on those details, but I did remember that night. "Yeah, you guys stayed over here - all of you. Which was a first."

"Yeah. I was so drunk that you tucked me into bed, remember? Your bed. You slept on the floor."

Suddenly the memory filled my head - she had thrown up in the bathroom and could barely stand. Me, being somewhat sober - fuck it, more sober than anyone else in my apartment - put her into my bed and… fuck. I fucking… fuck.

"You sang to me, Edward. You sat on the edge of your bed and pulled the covers up to my chin after giving me a pair of sweatpants. And you sang to me, song after song. Until I fell asleep."

She didn't say anymore, and I didn't either. I had blocked that night out, on purpose, hoping that she'd been so drunk that she'd forgotten. Apparently she hadn't.

And apparently it had made an impression on her.

I rubbed my hands over my face, thoroughly embarrassed.

"Even though you were still… an ass to me after that day, I started to notice little things, saw the way you interacted with Rosalie and Alice, and Emmett and Jasper."

She took a breath and hesitated, working up to say something else. "I guess after that night, something changed in the way I saw you. I tried to talk to Alice about it, but she wouldn't say much. Around that same time, I realized that my relationship with Jacob was slowly deteriorating. We were over long before yesterday, and when I said earlier that I was scared of breaking it off with him because I didn't want to be alone, it was only half of the reason. I kept pulling away from him, spending more time with Alice and Rosalie as an excuse to spend more time around you. You were the other half, Edward. It was like something was pulling me towards you, despite of your attitude. I chalked it up to wanting what I couldn't have, and stayed with Jacob, figuring I'd get over this infatuation with you. But it never went away. It was like... I don't know. This sounds completely insane." She stopped, tugging at the ends of her hair in frustration.

"Please continue. Please?" I begged. I needed to know more.

She sighed. "I don't know. It didn't really make sense to me, at the time." With her eyes downcast, she spoke softer. "But tonight, it did. When you found me on the roof I was working up the courage to start a conversation with you. I didn't want to leave college tomorrow and not have at least shared something with you that didn't involve sarcastic comments or raised voices, you know? It was fate, or something, that you happened to come up there."

My mind whirled with this information.

"Is this real?" I blurted out, because honestly, it seemed so dreamlike.

"Look." She leaned forward and put a hand out, palm facing me. I automatically reached up and slide my palm onto hers. Her hand was warm and significantly smaller than mine. "It's real. Everything I've said to you tonight has been the truth. I like you, Edward." Her hand lingered on mine for a second longer, then slide away, tucking back under her chin. "Alright, I 'fessed up. Now you."

A few things flew through my mind at once. One, I was completely sober and had a slight headache, but nothing that Tylenol couldn't fix. Two, Isabella Swan was truly in my room, on my bed, telling me she has a crush on me. And three, I was about to tell her that I had feelings for her back.

It was a strange moment, realizing something you've secretly wished for, for years, was coming true. Even though I felt her flesh moments before, I wish someone would pinch me, prove to me that this was, indeed, real.

And I felt completely out of my element. I didn't do this with girls – ever. I had a strict policy of hooking up and never getting phone numbers, of avoiding girls who I've fucked, and of never committing to anything. I constantly held back from the opposite sex, because I was holding out for her. Sadly enough.

So I really did the only thing I could do. Because, shit, how could I not?

"The art show, freshman year. You ran into me, and I caught you as you were falling. Do you remember?"

Her face went from tender, to thoughtful and she didn't speak for a couple seconds. "Yes. I do."

"I'd never seen anyone like you before. You had all of these rolled up canvases in your hand and they went flying. I wasn't as smooth as I am now, obviously,"

"Obviously." She interjected with a smile.

"So I think I just stared at you."

"You did."

"Sorry. You were just... so radiant. You were beautiful. You had paint smeared on your cheek too, and all over your white tee shirt. I just.. fuck. I looked at you and felt like I knew you. And then when Alice and Jasper started dating, I panicked. I acted stupid. I covered up my feelings by acting the way I did because... I really don't know why. It started and then it was too late to change, and you were with Jacob, and seemed happy. I'm rambling. Tell me to shut up." I shook my head as she laughed.

"It's okay. It's oddly.. endearing. So, you've liked me for four years." She clarified.

"And you've had an infatuation with me for over a year?" I questioned. I was so worried about telling her my own story that I had listened to hers without really taking it in. when the words popped out of my mouth, I realized that we had liked each other for a long time. "Are we just stubborn, or stupid?" I asked, unable to say the words aloud.

"Stupid." She said immediately. "Definitely stupid. All that time wasted.." she trailed off, a frown on her face. "It's stupid." She murmured. I could tell that this thought upset her. I wasn't feeling upset. I was positively fucking elated and I wanted he to feel the same way. She deserved to feel the same way.

"Alright, so we're stupid. Whatever." I said. "It's the past. I'd rather be focused on right now."

She smiled at me, and I sensed that I had said the right thing to her. I comprehended that our serious conversation was over.

As I leaned back in the chair again, everything that had happened in the span of the past ten hours seemed... epic. A relationship that I had, really, never thought would happen, now had the possibility to. A relationship that had been in the making for years was obviously now cemented, and a relationship that had been solid for a while seemed to be moving forward.

There was only one thing that was missing, for me at least, now that I had told her how I felt, how long I've felt it for, and vice versa. And I felt like a shit even thinking it.

I still wanted to fuck Bella.

See? I had thought sex didn't matter earlier on in the evening, but now my entire being was yearning for it. I was so attracted to Bella... that I just wanted to fuck her. Awful, Edward. Awful.

Okay, maybe not fuck, maybe not that word. Making love was too goddamn corny. Sex. Okay, I wanted to have sex with Bella. And yes, I wanted it to be special – as, honestly, she's the only girl I've ever cared about, so fuck, I wanted it to matter.

The good and evil parts of me were battling it out in my head. I wanted to make a move on her, to seduce her and ravage, to possess her. And then, then I wanted to just climb into bed with her and fucking cuddle. I didn't want to cheapen whatever we had discovered with each other, if we had sex tonight, but then again, I didn't know if I would have this opportunity again.

I didn't know what the future held for either of us. Together or apart.

I was torn. I didn't want to regret anything about this night. This perfect, only happens once in your life, can't take anything back, will remember it forever night.

And then I glanced at the clock.

Jesus Christ. It was nearing 7am, and I wasn't even tired.

"Edward? What the hell?"

"What?"

"You sounded like you were dying." All of a sudden, Bella was in front of me. I hadn't even heard her stand up, let along move across the room. "You got this worried look on your face, and then you gasped."

"I just noticed the time. You know it's almost seven?" She lazily looked at the numbers and back to me.

"So? You only live once, you know."

I felt like her saying those words to me, in light of everything I had been thinking about moments earlier, was like she was giving me some sort of permission.

Without really thinking about it, my hands gripped her waist and I pulled her towards me slightly. Fuck. Bad Edward was winning out, spurned by my cock that had, once again, gotten hard at the proximity of Bella. She, in turn, slid her warm, soft hands up my arms and on to neck. And then she leaned down. I zeroed in on her lips, perfectly plump and bitable, which I had done earlier, and knew she liked. They were moving towards me, my face, my lips in fact.

And then I pulled away. "Fuck."

"Well, either you just lied to me about liking me for all these years, or you're not in the mood." She looked down at my lap. "The latter is obviously out, so…"

"No, it's not that. Either of those things." I said quickly, not wanting her to get the wrong idea. "It something else. Can you trust me on this?"

"No? You're turning me away after telling me you care about me, I think that warrants even a little bit of an explanation. I mean, really, you couldn't even make something up?"

"I haven't lied to you yet tonight, and I don't plan on it. I just… it's kind of cheesy, and you're going to think I'm a big pussy, which is the last thing I want."

"Spit it out."

As I explained my reasoning to her, I watch her face go from infuriated – which was hot, by the way – to soft and dreamy. "Edward. I'm going to be honest with you, because we're apparently being very good at that tonight after years of not. I don't know what's going to happen with this in the future – in three hours. Getting to know you, really know you, these past couple of hours, and coming clean about these feelings was something I never expected to happen. But now that it did, I don't want to be alone for the next three hours. I can't think of a better way to spend them, than being with you." Her lips came towards mine again, and this time, I relented, and kissed her back.

Her cinnamon scent was everywhere – surrounding me. She was engulfing me, her essence, her being, her energy. My iPod switched songs, and Crazy Love came on.

We both remembered that night I tucked her into bed. This was one of the songs I sang to her. I knew it because she pulled back from me and we locked eyes and started laughing senselessly.

It wasn't perfect. Far from it, in fact. When we kissed again, Bella climbed into my lap. Unfortunately I was still sitting on the desk chair, and we both fell backwards, crashing to the floor in laughs and curses. My hands never left her body though, and I picked her up and carried her to my bed. I realized that this would be the last girl I slept with in this bed – but it would also be the first, the first that I ever truly cared about.

Jasper's words echoed in my head again, from earlier in the night and any fear or uncertainty I had about this evaporated. My inner struggle forgotten, I focused solely on the right now. And the right now was Bella, and she was breathing heavier and heavier by the second.

I was, too.

I've never craved anyone like I did Bella. Never wanted or wished or dreamed or anything like I did with Bella, so I don't know why I thought anything physically would be different. I got a taste – an appetizer – of her earlier, and I knew then, in the back of my mind, that if things physically progressed, that I would have an experience like I never have had before, and so far, I was right on the fucking money. As my hands slid down her body – now laid out on top of my bed, over her smooth, soft skin, I felt her vibrate beneath me, folding into my touch as if she belonged there.

Our clothes were a thin barrier, and the warmth of her was seeping into me, making me warm. While I explored her body with my hands, my mouth got to know hers. Her lips were flexible, her tongue applied the right amount of pressure to mine, and her teeth scraped my bottom lip in a way that made me moan. Her scent, her taste – cinnamon. I was soaked, it felt like, absolutely drowning in it, and it was delightful. In a sentence, it was the most perfect fucking make-out session I'd ever had, and I'd had a lot.

I stretched out on top of her, careful to not put all of my weight on her. Her hands slid under my tee shirt and I felt nails lightly trail down my back, then hands flatten out and push me down onto her. I groaned, again, as my dick came in contact with the warmest spot on her body. She gasped, too, and made quick work of tugging my tee shirt over my head.

I kissed my way down from her mouth to her neck, clavicle, to the dip in between her breasts. Fortunately, the shirt she was wearing was a button down, and I slowly unbuttoned the first one. And rested my chin on her stomach, and looked her in the eye while I was doing it. The first one, then the second and third, four and fifth. Her breasts were exposed, covered in a black patterned bra, the swell of them moving up and down in quick succession as her breathing increased.

She arched up suddenly and reached behind her, unclasping her bra in a matter of seconds. But all thoughts simply floated off as her breasts – perfect, with small, pink nipples, became fully exposed. I flicked a tongue over one nipple, then the other, and pressed into her when she arched up again, into me.

Then she took me completely by surprise when she dipped a hand into my pants and took hold of my dick, and I couldn't help myself – I thrust into her hand. I was extremely hard, and if Bella kept moving her hand up and down like she was, while I was caressing her breasts, I was going to come.

I disentangled myself from her and pulled my pants down in a hurry, and then reached for Bella's. She had buttons on her jeans, of course, and started laughing when she couldn't get them undone. "I'm all sweaty." She whispered. "I can't get a good grip."

"You certainly can, but let me help you." I quipped and she smiled and kissed below my right ear, down my jaw line, as I unbuttoned her jeans and pulled them off her legs.

And when she was laid out below me, in my bed, black on pale, with the sun shining through the cracks in my blinds, I smiled.

It was Bella. Finally.

I worked my way down her body, stopping to pay special attention to places where I had picked up on that she liked – her neck, her nipples, and her stomach. When I reached the edge of her underwear, I placed a kiss where the lace met skin and sat up, and took a condom from the supply that I kept in my bedside draw. She was probably on birth control, but I didn't want her to worry about anything she didn't need to – pregnancy especially, seeing that her ex-boyfriend had just gotten someone knocked up.

And then Bella, again, surprised me by taking the half unwrapped condom out of my hand and easing it onto my cock – something no girl has ever done for me. It was strangely erotic to see her hand wrapped around my shaft – a fantasy of mine.

"Jesus, you're so... hard." She said, want and need obvious in her voice, when her hand reached my base. Then I was on my back and she was positioned over me – another first. As she slowly lowered herself onto me, I was struck how not awkward any of this was. Not perfect, like I said, but not awkward. It was comfortable and exciting at the same time. And she was beautiful, her curves subtle and graceful, not a blemish on her skin.

When she had completely taken me in, I realized I felt complete. That this was where I was supposed to be.

We moved together beautifully, like a slow dance on a winter night. She met me when I needed her to, and I responded to her every want and need. I don't know how long we moved together, but it felt like forever, and it felt like a mere second. As she rode me, above me, her eyes closed, hands clasped to mine on either side of her thighs, body slick with sweat, I kept saying her name, over and over again, unable to stop myself.

"Bella. Bella. Bella."

Bella. Bella. Bella.

We connected, over and over and over again. Each time she slid down me, I got closer and closer to losing it, but I held on, wanting to take her there with me. I untangled my right hand from hers and reached to where we were joining again and again and touched, feeling her tense as my fingers caressed her. But I watched her face. Her eyes were opened now, and locked onto mine, and her expression… she was wearing a smile, a full smile that reached her chocolate eyes. Unable to help myself, even in the middle of my own passion, I smiled too.

And then she got tighter and I got harder and she told me she was going to come, and then she did, when I did. Together. This time, she was moaning my name, over and over. "Edward. Edward. Edward!" the last one ended on a yell, and I held onto her, keeping her down on my dick as I came.

I swear to god stars bloomed behind my eyes as I released into her, the best feeling I'd ever had and she pushed down harder on me, her hands running up my chest and down to where we were joined.

We disconnected from each other and immediately I felt some kind of loss, but she was only rolling over, and I immediately tucked her into my side. Even though we'd just had sex – okay, fuck it, made love, whatever – with just getting to know each other for real within a few hours, everything felt okay. And for the first time, ever, I did not feel one ounce of regret for sleeping with someone.

It was a nice feeling. A fucking great feeling, really. I felt content, satisfied. Overbearingly giddy and downright stupid with happiness, actually.

I felt a grin, bigger and better than any one I had worn that night, light up my face, and when I looked down at Bella, I found she was looking up at me, her own silly, wide smile on her face.

We started laughing at each other – at us – for the third time that night. Bella and I didn't say anything, but I knew it wasn't a necessity. I had said everything I wanted to say to her tonight. I had taken great leaps and trusted nothing except for Jasper's cryptic advice. I had told the truth and opened up. And I had let Bella into my bed – and into my heart. A first. A big first.

I finally felt myself getting tired. Finally. In two hours and nineteen minutes I'd have to wake up and walk out of this room and down to campus and graduate college. Something that scared me, and okay yeah, still does scare me a little. But everything just seemed okay, now. With Bella sleeping in my bed. Naked. Always a plus. As I drifted, I felt Bella's soft lips against my neck, and a quiet, loving good night.

SATURDAY, MAY 19th, 11:00 AM (GRADUATION DAY.)

"Are you ready?" Bella asked. She had her graduation robe on, looking ridiculous with all the ribbons and awards around her neck, and especially with that stupid smile on her face.

Hey, I could hardly talk. I knew there was one on my face, too, and had been there since I woke up an hour ago. We didn't have to be down on the green - where our graduation would take place - until twelve, and Bella and I had yet to emerge from my room. I knew that the four of them – who I could hear cursing and yelling in the kitchen and living room, hung over and annoyed – would be wondering where we were, but I wasn't really concerned.

When I woke up, only a few hours after I had fallen asleep and realized it wasn't all a dream, I felt like a completely different person. And Bella's smile told me she did, too.

"I am ready. Are you ready for them?" I asked, nodded towards my closed door. We hadn't talked about what was going to be said to our friends, but, again, I wasn't concerned.

"Yes." She said. "Wait, maybe I need another minute." She grabbed my hands and I went towards her willingly, my hat bumping into her forehead, and she laughed. Our lips met in sweet fucking perfection, her cinnamon flavoring now becoming mine. "Or another day."

"Sorry, can't do that. We have to graduate college. I have to move to New York and start work in a month." I said with disgust. As happy as I was of this accomplishment - these many accomplishments, actually - the fact that I was leaving the best four years of my life behind me today, and becoming a real adult, did not escape me.

"I forgot to tell you something last night, when we were talking about the future." She said, her hands still in mine. "I got a job, starting in two weeks."

"You told me you got a job." I said swinging our hands back and forth.

"EDWARD!" I groaned,. Japer. He was yelling like he was last night, so I assumed he was still drunk. Or just too sober to function so he was acting drunk. Or, actually, I take that back, maybe just drunk – I heard the word mimosas come out of Alice's mouth before.

"HOLD ON, YOU FUCK!" I yelled back, and then turned back to Bella, who looked amused. "You told me you got a job?" I questioned

"Yeah, but what I failed to tell you was that I also got a job in New York. As a gallery assistant. I move next week. And Alice will be moving in at the end of the summer." She said this smiling, glowing actually.

And as her words sunk in, I realized that there were many meanings. Yes, she was moving to New York, but she was telling me. She wanted me to know. Hinting at a future... something. Maybe together. I grabbed her into an impulsive hug. "Really?"

"Yeah. So, do you want to ask me for my number so you can call me when you get there?"

I laughed. "Fuck yeah I do."

"Okay." She sighed. "I think I am ready to go. Let's go have some mimosas and take some embarrassing pictures, and graduate. Ready?" she asked again.

"Ready." I answered. She held out her hand again and I took it, and then we walked across my room together. And opened the door.

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A/N: Thank you to Project Team Beta for helping me out at the last minute :) and thank you thank you thank yooooou to Karolyn – without her constant support and encouragement, this one-shot wouldn't be here. You always got my back. Loves.

Kings is a drinking game played with cards. Here's the rules, according to Wikipedia: en (dot) Wikipedia (dot) org/wiki/Kings_(card_game)

Crazy Love is a song by Van Morrison, which I do not own. Listen here, if you please: www (dot) last (dot) fm/music/Van+Morrison/_/Crazy+Love

The title, Soaked In Cinnamon, is a song, actually, going back to my high school days, by Ultimate Fakebook. Again, I do not own this.

The Greenbriar is really a house full of college kids, and it's where I spent my last night of college :)