Silent Tear Awards - Broken Fairy Tale Challenge

Story Title: What Hurts the Most

Author: beegurl13

Vamp or Human: Human

Pairing: Edward & Bella

A/N

First off, I don't own this. We all know who does – Stephenie Meyer, lucky girl. (And yeah, I'm still a little bitter about the fact that she's met Robert Pattinson, on several occasions. Just rub it in why don't you, Steph. :D ) However, I do own four children who seem to have made it their goal in life to slowly drive me insane. Sadly, they seem to be succeeding.

Second, I've never done this before. I know people say that a lot, but this time it's true. I hope you enjoy the story and don't hate me too much. It's for the Broken Fairy Tale Challenge, you gotta know going into it that it's not gonna be all rainbows and puppy dogs. ;)

Third, I gotta thank my girlies – MissyV (MeowVemulapalli), Baby G (Risbee), and La V (missveritys). I love you all tons and tons and tons. Thanks for reading my stuff and not laughing in my face. Thanks too for letting me pick your brains, though I'm still trying to get some of that out of the carpet, you messy, messy girls! Risbee writes stuff too, you should check her out 'cause she's awesome!

Finally, I wouldn't be posting this if it wasn't for my beta, The Uber-Beta known as coldplaywhore. I still can't believe I'm actually friends with you! It blows my mind when I read the awesomeness you write and then realize that you waste away time from your day to talk to ME!! I owe you so many cookies that I've lost count. Thanks for your patience and for wading through 17,000 words plus of this story, knowing there was only one curse word in the whole thing, while writing three stories and countless one shots of your own. I wouldn't have been brave enough to try this without you.

Okay, I'll put this here because I don't want it at the end where it will detract from the story. If you like this, let me know. If you hate this, let me know. If you thought something worked, or totally sucked, let me know. If you think I should try this again, let me know. Well, I do have another story, but it's not ready yet. So I'll try it once more for sure, but after that… Basically, feed back is awesome!! Also, if you have any questions, ask me! I'll totally answer you, and probably with more info than you will know what to do with! :D

Last bit – I have another ending for this story in mind and I will post it probably as a second chapter to this AFTER the challenge is over, so if you want to read it and see what else I can do to these crazy kids, put me or this story on alert, or leave me a reply and I'll try to let you know when it's posted. Otherwise, check back after the first part of December. Mkthanx!

On to the story. Oh and mom, if you ever read this, sorry if it's too graphic. Just shut your eyes through that part. :) Sorry for the forever long A/N. This story is 17,000 words in one chapter – what did you expect? I got a lot to say! :)

beegurl13

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

What Hurts the Most

I can take the rain on the roof of this empty house
That don't bother me
I can take a few tears now and then and just let 'em out
I'm not afraid to cry every once in a while even though
Goin' on with you gone still upsets me
There are days every now and again I pretend I'm okay
But that's not what gets me

What hurts the most
Was being so close
And havin' so much to say
And watchin' you walk away
And never knowin'
What could've been
And not seein' that lovin' you
Is what I was tryin' to do

It's hard to deal with the pain of losin' you everywhere I go
But I'm doin' it
It's hard to force that smile when I see our old friends and I'm alone
Still harder gettin' up, gettin' dressed, livin' with this regret
But I know if I could do it over
I would trade, give away all the words that I saved in my heart
That I left unspoken

What hurts the most
Is being so close
And havin' so much to say
And watchin' you walk away
And never knowin'
What could've been
And not seein' that lovin' you
Is what I was tryin' to do

What hurts the most
Was being so close
And havin' so much to say
And watchin' you walk away
And never knowin'
What could've been
And not seein' that lovin' you
Is what I was tryin' to do

Not seein' that lovin' you
That's what I was trying to do

What Hurts The Most, Rascal Flatts

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

I was 17 the first time I ever saw her. I had hung out with girls before, taken them on dates, had a few girlfriends – I was somewhat of a ladies man on campus. Every girl in school wanted me, and I knew it. I sometimes took advantage of it. Not that any of them ever complained. But she was different. I knew it the first time she walked in the room.

I was a senior in high school, quarterback and captain of the football team, starting pitcher on the baseball team, student body president, and had a 4.0 GPA. My parents were better off than most people in our town; we lived in a huge house, drove new cars, and my parents had the typical 2.5 kids. I count my older brother Emmett as that .5 because he's usually more of an animal than a human. I was living the American dream. All I was lacking was the blonde, cheerleader girlfriend, though Emmett had that part covered. Colleges were all over me, offering me scholarships right and left. I could go anywhere I wanted. As long as I didn't screw up.

When I got home from football practice that afternoon I was surprised to see an old, red truck parked in the driveway. At first I thought it was the landscapers' truck, but then I realized we paid our landscapers enough that they could afford a truck made in this century. I was curious as to who the mammoth beast belonged to, and, to be honest, if it actually ran or if they had to push it to get it to my house.

I parked my Volvo in the garage around the side of the house and quietly entered through the mud room entry just off the kitchen. I figured it was safe, in case there was someone in the living room with my mother. I planned to dart up the back stairs to my bedroom so I could get on-line and check out my date prospects for after the game Friday night. Facebook was the modern day Main Street when it came to cruisin' for chicks, as my dad so embarrassingly put it.

I heard my sister Alice talking to someone as I came down the hallway, and slowed to see if I could recognize the voice. Alice was two years younger than me and I felt a little bad that girls often times pretended to be her friend so that they could get close to me. I mean, I still screwed them, but I felt bad about it. When I came into the room Alice was standing next to the fridge with the door open, searching for something. She was alone, but yelling to someone else.

"I don't see any caffeine free soda, how about some juice or something?" she called.

She hadn't heard me come in and I couldn't pass up the chance to do my big brotherly duty and scare the living crap out of her. I walked up behind her very quietly and just as she stood up I grabbed her around the waist and yelled in her ear, "ALICE! WHATDOYOUTHINKYOU'REDOING???"

She screamed and thrashed in my arms and then I heard the sound of shattering glass as the juice bottles she held crashed to the floor.

"Edward! You jerk!" she shrieked, slapping at my arms as I hoisted her into the air.

Luckily I noticed that she wasn't wearing any shoes so I spun her around before setting her back on the ground. I didn't want her to get glass in her feet.

"Alice, I'm sorry! I was just trying to scare you!" I apologetically said. "I didn't mean to make you drop your juice. I'll clean it up, I'm so sorry."

I threw my backpack on the counter and ran into the pantry to get the broom and dust pan so that I could get the glass cleaned up. As I bent over, sweeping up all the big pieces that I could see, Alice stood behind me ranting about how those were the last two juices in the fridge and now her friend was going to have nothing to drink since all we had left was Pepsi and mom's Diet Coke, and she apparently didn't drink caffeine.

Great, I thought, another 'friend' of Alice's. This may not end well…or it may save me from cruisin' on Facebook.

I heard the steps quietly on the wood flooring. I noticed how muted they were, meaning the friend must have been wearing tennis shoes since there was no clicking like Alice and my mother's shoes usually made. That was interesting – Alice being friends with a girl who wore tennis shoes. I couldn't remember Alice ever wearing a pair of tennis shoes in her life. The steps grew closer and more hesitant as they got to the kitchen doorway. I hurriedly tried to soak up the juice with the towel in my hand as the steps came to a stop. I looked up towards the doorway and was met with the most beautiful brown eyes I had ever seen. I forgot about the juice.

She was looking at Alice, who stood behind me still huffing about the juice bottles. I noticed she wasn't dressed like the girls Alice usually hung around with, and I didn't know her. I hadn't seen her at school, and I immediately wondered where Alice found this girl? I continued to stare at her taking in her long legs, curvy hips, slender waist, and nice rack - seriously nice boobs on this chick. Of course they were covered up by her long, brown wavy hair which led to her creamy white skin and her gorgeous face.

Then she looked down at me.

I felt a shock as our eyes met, something I had never felt before. As she stared into my eyes I felt at peace, like I had been treading water for days and she was the raft I had been waiting for. I couldn't breathe.

Somewhere in my head I registered that Alice was speaking to the girl. "Oh Bella, I'm so sorry, my idiot jokester of a brother grabbed me and I dropped the juice. I don't have anything else to drink but water."

Her gaze darted back to Alice and a small grin turned up her perfect red lips. "That's okay, Alice, water's fine." Her voice was sweet, not too high pitched, but not rough and growling either. I could hear compassion, wisdom, and love all rolled into the tone of her reply. I wanted to hear it again. I wanted to hear it forever.

"Bella, this is Edward, my brother. I keep trying to convince my parents to put him up for adoption but I guess he's a big deal to them or something. Edward, this is my friend Bella. She just moved here, her dad is Chief Swan. She's the new girl everyone was talking about last week."

That's who she was, the new girl. She had been the talk of the school for the last several days prior, but I had invested every spare moment of my time into preparing for the football game against La Push last Friday night. I hadn't noticed her around school, and now I was kicking myself for it. Just when I thought she couldn't be anymore beautiful, a pink blush started to creep up her neck towards her face.

"Alice," she said sounding embarrassed, "no more new girl talk, please."

I had to laugh. Most girls would welcome the attention that that kind of title would bring them, but not this girl. I had to know why.

I slowly stood up, my eyes never leaving her face, and stepped towards her. I extended my hand, looking as though I wanted to shake hers, but really I just wanted to touch her, to make sure she was real.

"I'm Edward," I said, sounding far too out of breathe for someone who had been wiping up spilled juice.

She glanced down at my hand and giggled. "You're all sticky, Edward. Maybe you should wash your hands first, then I'll shake it."

I snorted, laughing at her comment and realizing that I was indeed sticky. I quickly turned to the sink and scrubbed my hands, ridding them of all the juice. After I dried them I turned back to Bella, who was still standing in the doorway, and held my hand out again.

"I'm Edward," I said again as I gazed into her eyes.

She smiled and put out her hand. "Hi Edward, I'm Bella."

"Yeah you are." The whispered words slipped from my mouth before I could stop them. As our hands met I realized that I may as well have left the juice on them because even though they weren't sticky anymore, our hands would be stuck to each other for the rest of the night.

"Oh great," I heard Alice say behind me. "Another one bites the dust."

She laughed and Bella giggled as I smiled.

She was different, and I wanted her to be mine.

*****

That's how it started. It was simple enough, I mean who really meets the love of their life when they are 17 years old, cleaning up spilled juice on their kitchen floor? I did, that's who.

I went out of my way to find her around school for the rest of the week. On Tuesday between 3rd and 4th hour, I saw her in the hallway talking to Mike Newton. I had never before felt the jealousy that burned in my stomach at the sight of them together. Mike was a shameless flirt, though Bella didn't really look interested in him. She glanced up as her eyes met mine and I smiled at her as I walked closer, causing her to return the smile. Mike looked towards me and I could see a strange look shadow over his face. He knew I was watching Bella, and surprisingly I was happy about that.

On Wednesday, I spotted Bella sitting with Alice and Jasper during lunch and rather than sit with my normal group of friends, or with the girls that regularly serviced me, I walked over to their table. When Alice spotted me, a look of annoyance etched itself onto her face. Bella looked surprised, but happy to see me regardless. I sat across from her, not wanting to start any rumors. At least this way, I could pass it off as me just talking to my sister and best friend; I didn't have to put Bella in the line of fire just yet. I knew the regulars wouldn't be pleased to see new competition for my time.

Thursday was important; I had to talk to her alone. I only spotted her twice all day, and even then it was from a distance. I was feeling like a failure when finally, before my last class of the day, I literally ran right into her. She dropped her books and I quickly bent down to help her pick them up. Her hair was falling down around her face, but I could still see the blush creeping into her cheeks. When I happened to glance down, I got a pretty good look down her shirt too. I guess helping people really does pay off, and I felt more than rewarded.

"Bella, I'm sorry, I wasn't paying any attention to where I was going. Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. Sorry, I'm kind of clumsy, it's probably my fault anyway," she said, not looking at me.

"Well, either way, I'm glad it was you I ran into, or me that you ran into." I laughed, hoping my thoughts sounded better spoken out loud than they did in my head.

She giggled, looking up at me. "Me too," she quietly said.

She liked me. I knew it.

"Um, Bella, I wanted to ask you, would you be interested in hanging out with me sometime? Maybe watching a movie or getting pizza or something?" I asked with a shaky voice.

Her eyes got wide as she looked at me. "Really? Are you sure you want to do that with me?"

"Yes Bella, I am. I don't wash my sticky juice hands for just any girl," I joked, trying to make her feel more comfortable by reminding her about my idiocy from a few days before.

Her smile returned, "Yeah, I would love to do that sometime, Edward."

"Okay, um, you'd better get to class. I don't want you to be late on my account," I told her.

"Yeah, thanks for helping me with my books. Bye Edward."

"Bye Bella."

I watched her hurry down the hallway towards her class. After she turned the corner I continued on to my class, not even caring how late I was.

On Friday I saw her at the Pep Rally and made a beeline to her as everyone started to leave the gym. Several other people, mostly my regulars looking for a hook up after the game, approached me as I made my way towards her, but I was not deterred. I was a man on a mission.

She and Alice had just left the lobby as I caught up to them. I walked along side them towards their lockers for a few minutes before I nervously asked Bella to come watch me at the game that night. She smiled somewhat shyly and assured me that she would be there with Alice and that she'd wait around afterwards to say hi.

Throughout the whole game that night I scanned the crowd looking for her. Finally with 30 seconds to go in the 4th quarter, I found her. She was standing by the fence watching me. Our team was down by 4 points, the game having gone back and forth all night. It was up to me if we were going to win. The whistle blew and I dropped back, deep into the pocket, waiting to find my receiver. Finally I spotted Jasper about 10 yards from the end zone. I pulled my arm back and let the ball fly. The pass was beautiful, though not as beautiful as the girl I quickly glanced over to see. Her eyes, along with everyone else in the stands, were glued to the ball that was spiraling through the air. Jasper was open and caught it with ease. Just a few short yards and I heard the horns blowing. Touchdown! We had done it, in the last few seconds we pulled off the win. The crowd screamed and cheered with excitement, but I stayed calm as I kept watch on the amazing brown eyed beauty that stood silently watching me.

I heard my teammates calling my name, but my mind didn't understand what they were saying. I rushed to the sidelines, past the coaches and cheerleaders, to the fence where she stood. When I finally got to her I took her face gently in my gloved hands that had just hurled the ball over 40 yards, and I stroked her cheeks. She was cold.

"Edward, you did it! I'm so proud of you!" she beamed at me.

I couldn't speak. I looked into her eyes, lowered my face towards her, and pressed my lips softly against hers. I heard her gasp slightly, as she froze. My lips moved instinctively to kiss her again and soon she joined in. Her fingers wound themselves into my wet hair as I pulled her closer, well as close as I could get her with a fence between us. After several seconds and many more loud whistles from on lookers, I stilled my lips and pulled away from her. I felt the loss immediately and ached to have my mouth against hers again. I kept my forehead placed on hers, our noses touching ever so slightly.

"Wait for me to get changed?" I practically begged her.

"Oh course I will, Edward. You're the whole reason I came to the game tonight."

I smiled brightly, knowing that she came only to watch me play, and that she would be waiting for me. As much as my heart hurt to leave her in that moment, I wanted to get dressed as fast as possible so that I could see her again. I ran to the locker room, showered, and dressed before most of the other players had even gotten out of their uniforms. Sure enough, she was waiting for me.

She stood with Alice and my parents near the concession stand. I walked towards them, accepting praises and congratulations from several classmates and parents along the way. My dad looked so proud, clapping me on the back and telling me what a great job I did. My mother rushed forward to hug me, saying over and over again, "That's my boy, my sweet little baby boy."

Moms are so embarrassing.

Bella just laughed along with Alice, whose attention quickly turned to Jasper as he joined our little group. I couldn't have been happier about Alice dating Jasper. He was the only guy I deemed good enough for her, so I was pleased when he finally got up the courage to ask her out.

My parents soon left, followed by Alice and Jasper, leaving only Bella and I remaining. We stood awkwardly for a few moments, not quite sure what to say. Finally I held out my hand and simply said, "Shall we?" Bella placed her hand in mine and we walked out of the stadium. She had ridden to the game with Alice, so I offered to give her a ride home. I knew I wouldn't take her straight home. She knew it too.

We wound up parked on the side of a dirt road north of town. We talked for an hour and kissed a little longer than that. Even during all the times I had had sex with other girls, I never experienced the kind of intimacy we had that night. Our souls were bared to one another. There was nothing untouchable between us. It actually felt like we already knew all of the things we were confessing.

She told me about her mother and how she had recently remarried, causing Bella to come live with her father. She wanted to give her mom and step dad some time together. I could tell that she was unselfish and caring, and I wondered how many other things she had sacrificed to make someone else happy.

I told her about my dreams to play college ball, and that someday I wanted to go into sports medicine and work for a professional sports team. My dad had influenced my love of helping people, but my heart belonged on the field. I imagined that would be the perfect occupation for me – joining my two loves.

I soon realized that I had to add another to that list of loves – Bella.

I counted down the days until Thursday of the next week. That was the night that Bella had agreed to go out with me. She seemed excited and I hoped that I hadn't come off as too overly anxious to spend time with her. Each day that week I would ask her about something regarding our date – what she wanted to eat, where she wanted to go, what kind of flowers she liked, if there was a certain candy she craved. I usually passed her in the hallway after my 3rd hour class so each day I gave her a note containing the question of the day, then I would spend all lunch hour prying details out of her. After school I would give her another note with a different question and as soon I as got home from football practice, I would run to my room and call her, curious to see what her response would be. I was learning so much about her from the silly questions, and so far everything I learned, I loved.

Thursday evening as I pulled up to her house my stomach was overcome with butterflies. I had never been nervous like that around a girl before, but Bella wasn't just any girl. I took a deep breath and walked up the sidewalk to her door where I knocked and waited for a few seconds before it opened. Inside stood her father, Chief Swan, who did not have a pleasant look on his face. I knew he wore a gun on his belt everyday, so that combined with the obvious distaste he was showing for me almost made me turn around and run back to my car. However, then I saw Bella standing behind him and any thoughts of leaving vanished.

"Edward, come on in. Let's have a little talk, shall we?" he said.

"Yes sir, good evening Chief Swan," I said in my most polite parent voice. I walked into the house and he motioned for me to sit on the sofa in the living room. Bella smiled at me and raised her hand to give me a little wave. I smiled back at her, hoping it wouldn't be the last time I ever got to see her smile at me.

"So Edward, Bella tells me you two have plans tonight. Is that right?"

I could tell from his tone that he enjoyed questioning people and was probably rather good at it. Most likely, he saw me as just another criminal up to no good, though tonight that no good would most likely include his daughter. I was screwed.

"Yes, sir, we are going to pick up a pizza and DVD and then go back to my house to watch the movie. My parents are home and will be all evening, so we won't be alone or anything. My sister Alice will be there too, so…"

"Well, that's good. I know your father quite well Edward; I must say he's a good man. You seem to be rather upstanding yourself, I haven't had the pleasure of arresting you for any illegal activity, so that's the only reason you've made it this far tonight."

"Yeah, I keep too busy with school stuff to get into much trouble, Chief Swan. Plus my parents would disown me if I did anything to ruin my chances at a scholarship for college."

"Well, that's good to hear, Edward. Bella here just turned 16 not too long ago and I'm not all that excited about her dating exclusively, I would much rather the whole dating thing take place in a group or something, you understand – statistics show teenage pregnancy has a much smaller chance of happening when two people aren't alone. Safety in numbers, and all that."

"Dad!!" Bella yelled in shock, rolling her eyes.

The Chief laughed a little and continued. "So, I am putting her in your care for the evening. I trust that you will return her promptly by 10pm since it is a school night, and that she will be in the same, if not better, condition than she is now. Is that understood?" he said.

"Yes sir, I can assure you I will treat her with the respect she deserves, sir. My mother taught me to be respectful to women, so I promise you I will be," I told him wholeheartedly. Bella was far too precious to me to ever let anything bad happen to her.

Bella quickly stood up, walking over to me, "Let's go. If we stay any longer we aren't going to get to watch the whole movie, and I don't want to get home late, right Dad?"

"Yeah," Chief Swan slowly said. "You two kids have fun."

We started towards the door when he yelled from behind us, "Edward, I do have your parents number, I may be calling just to check in sometime this evening. Don't be surprised if I do."

"Dad! Stop!" Bella said loudly to him. "We are fine and I will be home on time, okay? Now, have a good night dad."

She grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the door. I turned and waved to the Chief, mumbling a goodbye. I opened the door for her when we got to my car, then hurried around to my side so I could drive away with her before the Chief changed his mind.

"So, did you want to eat at the pizza place or just get it and go to my house?" I asked her.

"Oh, um, whatever you want to do is fine with me," she said quietly.

"Is something wrong?" I asked, hopeful that she hadn't changed her mind about our date.

"No, I just didn't know if you would really want to risk running into other kids from school while you were with me. I know I'm not popular or anything, so…I just wasn't sure." What? She thought I didn't want to be seen with her? I racked my brain trying to figure out why she would think that way. Had I done something to make her think that?

"Bella, why would you think that? Did I do something?" I asked confused.

"No, not really, I mean you just haven't actually talked to me one on one when we're in public, you usually just give me those notes, and the only time you do speak to me is when Alice and Jasper are there. Then when you mentioned just hanging out at your house tonight, I figured maybe you were embarrassed or something. I totally understand, I know the kind of girls you usually hang around with, so it's okay. I'm not offended or anything," she said with a sigh.

I was so stupid. How did I not realize she would interpret my actions that way? I needed to set things straight before I messed it all up even worse.

"Bella, I gave you those notes because I wanted a reason to talk to you and I only talk to you when Alice and Jasper are around because I'm a big chicken when it comes to you. You make me nervous, Bella, and I don't know how to act. I don't want to look stupid in front of you, have you think I'm an idiot or something," I said with a laugh, hoping that I hadn't just made a complete and total fool out of myself.

"I make you nervous? Really? How is that even possible?" Her laugh was tinged with disbelief and she shook her head.

"Bella, you have no idea how amazing you really are, do you?"

She smiled and her gaze went to the side window.

"That's it; we're eating at the pizza place. I'm showing you off. You look incredible tonight and I want everyone to see that you are with me."

She quickly turned to look at me, her eyes wide. I smiled back at her, hoping to see someone, anyone, from school.

The pizza place was packed, as I figured it would be since it was the night before a game. The whole room seemed to go silent when we walked in the door. Bella hesitated, so I grabbed her hand, lacing her fingers with mine, and pulled her with me to the counter. We ordered our pizza, got some drinks, and went to find a table. There was an open booth along the far wall so when Bella slid in to sit down, I slid in next to her, leaving the other bench empty. She looked at me a little surprised. I leaned over to her and whispered into her ear, "I can't put my arm around you from way over there. I also can't kiss you whenever I want to." I placed a light kiss on her temple and lifted my arm, placing it around her shoulders. She scooted closer to me, putting her hand on my thigh. I had never felt so happy in all my life.

Several people stopped by our table as we ate, anxious to talk about the football game the next night. One of my regulars, Tanya, was there with some friends of hers. The looks she was casting at Bella made me angry, but I wasn't surprised, I knew eventually the girls would find out about us. When I felt Bella shrink into my side, I whispered apologies to her, but I could tell she was upset about it. I vowed to make sure I never gave her any reason to doubt my feelings for her or to make her think I wanted anything to do with those girls ever again. I only wanted Bella and I was bound and determined to prove it.

We stayed at the pizza place longer than I'd planned and when we realized we only had a little more than an hour to watch the movie, I suggested that maybe we could go to Bella's house instead, that way we could see more of it since my curfew was later than hers. Plus, I wanted a chance to show the Chief that I could be trusted. Bella seemed to think it was a good idea, so I called my parents to let them know I'd be home later.

When we got to Bella's house, her dad seemed surprised to see us so early, wrongfully assuming that the date hadn't gone well. Bella told him about the pizza place and showed him the movie we had picked out. He said it was fine if we watched the whole thing, even though it wouldn't be over until almost 11pm. Bella made some popcorn and I got some drinks after she showed me where the garage refrigerator was, then we settled in next to each other on the sofa. After the Chief went to bed, Bella got a blanket and we snuggled together, letting our hands get familiar with one another's bodies in ways they hadn't before. Neither of us watched the second half of the movie, which was okay since we had both already seen it.

I was flying as I left her house, kissing her soundly on the front porch before going to my car. I drove home replaying every kiss and touch of the evening, the drive home ending before I even knew it. I had only been away from her for a few minutes, but already I ached to be with her again.

After that first date it didn't take long for me to realize that I was in love with her. Within a month or so I knew my feelings were strong, deeper than anything I had ever even imagined I would have. By Christmas I had decided that somehow, I would find a way to spend the rest of my life with her. I knew I could never be truly happy without her by my side.

We were prefect together, like two halves to a whole. Anyone who saw us could tell, too. Chief Swan wasn't too excited about Bella being so serious with a boy, especially since she had just turned 16, but he knew me and he knew my family. He also knew that Bella could do a lot worse, and I assured him at every turn that I adored her and would never do anything to hurt her. She was my life. I was nothing without her.

*****

As spring approached, I realized that I had some major decisions to make about my future. I knew I would go to college, the question was where. Bella and I discussed it everyday, trying to decide what my best options where. I wanted somewhere local so that I could come home to visit more often, since she still had two years of high school left. She wanted me to choose somewhere respectable, a place that she had a chance of getting into after she graduated.

I had finally decided on Washington State. The athletic programs were great and it was close by, I would be able to see Bella as often as I wanted. She could come with my family to watch my games, and I was likely to play a lot since their program didn't have some of the big name athletes that so many of my other choices had. I was happy with the way things were turning out.

There was only one thing that worried me. That was the physical relationship that Bella and I had. We'd never had sex.

I knew that Bella was a virgin. I liked that she was. It killed me to think about her ever being like that with another guy, a guy who didn't worship and adore her the way I did. I knew it bothered her that I had been so free before she came along, especially when several of my regulars continued to taunt her with the knowledge they had of me. Stupid Jessica, Lauren, and Tanya. They loved to get Bella all riled up, thinking it would break us up. Little did they know it was only encouraging her to push things farther with me.

The breaking point came the night of the Valentine's Dance. I had talked her into going with me under the guise of seeing our friends, getting our picture taken, and having some punch, but I got her out on the dance floor a time or two. She was too beautiful that night, I had to dance with her and show her off.

She had gone to powder her nose, as she sweetly put it, before we left for the night. As I stood near the gymnasium doorway talking to Jasper and Alice, Bella came rushing out of the restroom with tears running down her face. She frantically scanned the crowd of people and when her eyes finally fell on me, I could see her breathing hitch and a sob pour from her throat. She turned and ran towards the back door of the gym just as Jessica and Tanya walked out of the bathroom, laughing hysterically.

I ran towards Bella, glaring at the two girls as I approached them.

"What did you do to her?" I growled at them.

"Nothing, Eddie. We just told her about some of the things you like. You know, things that she obviously doesn't know about you," Jessica venomously spewed at me.

"You sluts, I can't believe I ever wasted time with either of you!" I said, anger seething from my body. I had to stop myself from knocking the smirks from their faces.

I ran out the door, desperate to find her. It was dark and cold and I knew she didn't have her jacket with her. As I stood there looking over the parking lot, my forced breaths fogging in the cold night air, I heard a sniffle coming from behind me. I turned around and saw Bella leaning against the wall, her face in her hands. Her body was shaking and I could hear the cries coming from her. I slowly walked towards her, my shoulders slumping in defeat. I had waited for something to make her finally see that I wasn't good enough for her. I hoped it would never happen, but deep in my heart I knew it would.

I didn't know what to say to her. She looked so broken, and it was because of me. Because of the stupid things I had done in my life. It killed me that those choices were causing her pain.

I stopped a few steps away from her, not knowing what to say. Praying silently that something would come to my mind, something that would make her forgive me and look past all of my faults. I needed her to be with me.

"Bella, love, please don't…" I heard my voice crack as I realized my vision was quickly becoming blurring, tears filling my eyes.

I raised my hand to touch her arm, but hesitated, not knowing if she would want me to or not. My fingers recoiled and hung frozen in the space between us. I could feel in the air that this was it, the moment that would decide our fate. She would either push me away and I would have to find a way to live without her, or she would embrace me and we would be together for the rest of our lives. It was in this moment, I could sense it, that my happiness was held captive.

She took broken breathes in an effort to stop her sobs, slowly raising her head. When her eyes met mine I saw the sadness there. I had never experienced anything this horrible before, and I didn't know what to do. I was speechless. Nothing was coming to me. My mouth opened and closed several times, in an effort to tell her how desperately I loved her, how I held her on a pedestal, how I wanted to make her happy for the rest of her life. But nothing came.

"Edward," she whispered, "the things they said to me, things that you did with them, is it true? Did you have sex with them?"

My face fell. I couldn't feel my body yet I knew my hand was rubbing over my face, my fingers then running through my hair. I didn't know what to say to her. How do you respond to something like that?

"I need to know Edward, do I mean anything to you? How could you just do that with them and be okay with it? Help me understand, Edward, because I don't get it. I really, really don't understand."

What could I say to make this right, I didn't know.

"Bella, I was an idiot before you came here. I wasn't nice. You have to understand, girls were just throwing themselves at me, and I didn't know that I should turn them down. All of the guys made it sound like I was an idiot if I didn't do stuff with them, and I was just weak. Really, that's all it was. I didn't know that someone like you even existed. I'd never met anyone like you before. You're so good and innocent and beautiful. I didn't think I would ever find someone like you. I knew that even if I did, you wouldn't want me."

I watched her as her chest continued to rise and fall, shaking with what I could only imagine felt like betrayal. She had never been hurt like this before; I knew that, yet I had done nothing to avoid it.

"I'm not good enough for you, Bella. I hurt you. Just by being me, I hurt you. I hate it that I've made you feel like this. I can't change it, but please know that I love you. That since I met you I haven't even talked to those girls. I don't even see them. All I see is you. You're the first thing I think about when I wake up, the last thing I think about when I go to sleep."

She still wouldn't look at me, a fact that I couldn't ignore. I felt like everything we had shared over the past five months was slipping away. Her not looking at me worried me, it made me think there was no way I could save this. I had to make her see how serious I was about her; about our future together.

"Bella, when I see my future it's wrapped up in you. It's you I see walking down a flower covered aisle to me, you I see holding our babies and comforting our children, you I see sitting in a rocking chair with gray hair, you I see speaking my last words to, you I see kissing everyday for the rest of my life. You are all I want. You're all I see. Please, believe me. It's you."

I felt the tears sliding down my cheeks, not even caring that she was watching me cry. I had been defeated by this little girl, but I couldn't imagine my life without her. The biggest defensive tackles had trouble taking me down on the field, but this little girl, with just one look, had rendered me defenseless. I belonged to her, she owned me.

I started to panic as I saw resolve set across her face, her body straightening up. She raised her chin, looking at me with a new determination in her eyes. I thought at that point it was over.

She held her hand out to me. "Take me somewhere, Edward. I don't care where. I need to be with you."

Confusion set in, I didn't know what she wanted. I looked at her outstretched hand, not knowing what to do.

"What?" I whispered.

"Take me somewhere, Edward. Let's go, you and me. Take me to the road we went to that first night, the one north of town. Take me there."

"Bella, why? Tell me why you want me to do that."

"Edward, I love you. I want to be with you. I'm tired of waiting, of listening to other girls say things about you that I don't know. I want to know you, Edward. I want to know everything about you. I want to be the last girl to ever know those things. I see you, Edward. Everywhere I look, I see you. I don't want a life without you in it. The only thing of importance to me is you. Take me, Edward."

And in those three words, I knew what would happen. I knew it shouldn't happen, not that night and in that way, but I knew I would give her anything she asked for. I wasn't strong enough to tell her no.

She had defeated me.

I took a hold of her hand, lacing my fingers with hers. We walked slowly, in no great rush to take the next step. I had imagined being with her thousands of times since I met her, but now with the gravity of the situation falling on me, I was nervous. I knew what I was supposed to do, I knew how things worked, but I hadn't had sex in a long time. Bella and I had been together for five months and it was a month or so before that when I had screwed Lauren under the bleachers after a football scrimmage. I had never been nervous about sex before, aside from the first few times, and that was simply because I didn't want to make a fool of myself, but this time was different. This time I was nervous because of the girl next to me. I wanted this to be right for her. I wanted to be sure that everything I did showed her the way I felt about her. I didn't want her to ever regret having her first time be with me. No matter what happened to us, I wanted her to be glad that I was the first man to ever make love to her.

The drive was over a lot sooner than I expected it to be. As I pulled off the side of the road, I drove farther down the narrow lane than I had gone before. I realized we hadn't spoken since she asked me to take her. I knew she meant for me to take her away from the school, but it felt like she knew what she was really asking. The fact that she sat silently while we drove only enforced that thought in my mind.

I turned off the car, just leaving the radio on. It was on some silly love song station that Bella had turned it to on our way to the dance. We were both silent as the music flowed through the speakers, surrounding us and charging the air in the car.

Bella turned to me. "Can we get in the backseat, Edward?"

I just nodded. For as much as I wanted to have sex with her, I wanted her to initiate things. She needed to be in control and tell me what to do. I loved her enough to want that for her.

I got out of the car and went around to Bella's side to open her door. She stood up next to me, putting her hands on my chest and placing a kiss on the underside of my jaw. She skimmed her nose along my jaw bone towards my chin, and then kissed me softly there. She reached for the handle to the back door and opened it before slowly climbing in and sliding across the seat. I followed. I would always follow her.

It was dark, only the light from the radio illuminated us. I turned to her, fully intending to ask her if this was what she really wanted. She was looking up at me from under her long eyelashes, her teeth sinking heavily into her bottom lip. She sighed and raised her hands to my collar.

"Edward, do you know what I thought the first time I saw you?" she asked me quietly.

"No, tell me."

"I had never seen a boy as beautiful as you. When I saw your green eyes looking up at me, my heart stopped. I felt like I knew you, that I had always known you."

Her fingers played around the top button of my shirt, releasing it. Then they traveled ever so slowly down to the next button.

"I knew I shouldn't feel that way about you, Alice told me about the other girls that only befriended her to get to you. But the second I saw you, I didn't care. I had to be with you. I had to do whatever it took to get you with me."

I felt another button come undone. I reached up and placed my fingers on her cheek. I turned slightly so that I could look at her more easily, and my other hand soon raised and started playing with her hair.

"I've loved you from the instant I saw you, Edward. I've loved every moment we've spent together. Even when you're mad at me, I love you. Even when I'm jealous of other girls, I love you. Even when I think about you leaving me next year, I love you. I don't regret anything with you, Edward. Not now and not ever."

I pulled her face towards mine as my tongue brushed across my lips. I wanted to kiss her, taste her. I couldn't wait any longer.

The kiss started sweet, tender. But the urgency quickly began to build and our lips soon parted, granting access for our tongues to melt together. I felt her fingers hurry through the other buttons and soon her hands were pushing my shirt open, tracing fingers up and down my bare chest. My hands buried themselves in her hair as I yearned to pull her even closer to me. We were up against each other, yet there was still too much distance between us.

I moved my mouth to kiss her neck, to bite and suck the places that I knew she loved. The thing about being with Bella was that I knew her. I knew all the things that drove her crazy. I had never spent enough time with any other girl to know those things. I never wanted to know them before I met Bella. Knowing them made me feel powerful. My teeth grazed the soft skin under her ear and I deeply sucked on the flesh there. Her dad wouldn't be happy, but it wasn't the first hickey I had given her.

My hands soon worked their way down to Bella's shoulders and then her arms. They finally wrapped around her waist and I pulled her up, nudging her leg across me so that she was straddling my lap. I would have to thank Alice for insisting that Bella wear a skirt to the dance.

I moved my hands to the buttons on the front of Bella's shirt as my mouth continued its assault on her neck and collar bones. Bella moaned and I heard my name slip from her mouth again and again.

There were only 5 buttons on her shirt and I had them undone in seconds. As I peeled her shirt open I saw the black lace bra that awaited me. Her breasts where pushed together slightly, making them appear fuller than they really were. Bella placed her hands on either side of my face and turned my head up to look at her. She stared into my eyes with an intensity I had never seen from her before.

"Edward, I want this. I want you. Only you. No one else, ever."

That simple statement was my undoing. I kissed her ferociously, biting her bottom lip and sucking on it as I pushed her shirt off of her arms. It dropped to the floor near my feet.

She soon dipped her head to the side and began kissing my neck, running her tongue along my earlobe. It drove me crazy and I grasped around her back for the closure on her bra, finding nothing. I heard her giggle. The sex starved maniac in me didn't find the situation funny. I had never had trouble getting a bra off any other girl before, Bella included.

"Edward, you silly, the clasp is in the front," she purred to me.

I looked closer and saw that she, indeed, was right. I looked back up at her, trying to convey to her how much I loved her. We both froze as we stared at each other.

"Bella, I love you. You know that right?"

"Yes, I know."

"And I don't ever want to be with anyone but you, you know that too?"

"I know Edward, I feel the same way."

"This isn't just about sex, Bella. What we are doing here, this about love. I need to be sure you know that. I don't ever want you to doubt me or this."

"Edward, I know you love me. I know you want me. I know you never want anyone but me. I know this is about love, it's not just sex. I know all those things Edward. What I don't know is why we're still talking, why you aren't inside me."

I slid my hands around so that I could cup her face. Rubbing my thumbs across her cheekbones I slowly brought her face to mine, never breaking eye contact, and pressed my lips against hers. As we kissed I heard the song on the radio change to one that I knew well. It was one that my father played for my mother and with Bella wrapped around me like this, I finally understood what the words meant.

Well I'm shameless, when it comes to loving you
I'll do anything you want me to
I'll do anything at all
.

Bella's hands ghosted across my skin and down my chest finally landing on the waistband of my jeans. She started to fumble with the button there, but I was so caught up in kissing her and feeling her face under my hands that I couldn't stop to help her.

You know now I'm not a man who's ever been
Insecure about the world I've been living in
I don't break easy, I have my pride
But if you need to be satisfied

I'm shameless, oh honey, I don't have a prayer
Every time I see you standin' there
I go down upon my knees.

And I'm changing, swore I'd never compromise
Oh, but you convinced me otherwise
I'll do anything you please.

I finally understood, there in that moment, what the song was saying. It wasn't about some guy who was weak and whipped by his girlfriend, it was about a man who was so in love with a woman that nothing else mattered. He would do anything for her. That's how I felt about Bella. I was the man in the song. I wanted her to know it, too.

I broke our kiss as Bella continued to tug at the button on my pants. I knew she was nervous and I wasn't sure if she was having trouble or if she was hesitating. I had to catch my breath before speaking.

"Edward, help me with this…" she said, out of breath.

"Okay, you sure?" I asked.

"Yeah, I can't get it."

I could tell she was getting frustrated so I moved my hands from her face and undid the button.

I grinned at her before asking, "You want me to get the zipper too or do you think you can manage that?"

She giggled and slapped at my stomach, "I can get that one, don't worry."

You see in all my life I've never found
What I couldn't resist, what I couldn't turn down
I could walk away from anyone I ever knew
But I cant walk away from you.

"Bella, listen to the words, this is me. This is me when it comes to you."

I have never let anything have this much control over me
I work too hard to call my life my own
And I've made myself a world and its worked so perfectly
But it's your world now, I can't refuse
I've never had so much to lose
Oh, I
'm shameless.

"Really, Edward? You really feel like this about me?" she asked.

"Of course, how could you not know that?" I said in disbelief.

"You'll never lose me Edward. I belong to you, no one else. No matter what, I'll always be your girl."

I felt the zipper of my pants lowering as Bella moved to kiss my neck. I lifted my hands and found the clasp on her bra. As glorious as her breasts looked wrapped in the black lace, I wanted to be able to touch them and rub them and taste them. The bra had to go.

I unhooked it and gently pulled it to the sides, letting her boobs fall a little.

"You have the most amazing breasts, baby," I whispered. She really did and I was in awe every time she let me see them.

She continued to bite at my neck and I heard her sigh, "Suck on them Edward, you know what I like."

I did know what she liked. I easily kissed the upper swell of her right breast, taking the left in my hand and squeezing. I ran my nose down to the nipple and then darted my tongue out to lick it. I sucked it into my mouth, grazing it lightly with my teeth. Bella hissed and pulled her mouth back from my neck. She arched her back, pushing her chest into my face. I heard her moan as her hands clung to my bare shoulders.

Her hands lowered to push at my pants, urgently trying to get them open. I could sense the need building in her but I didn't want her to feel rushed.

"Baby, slow down. We don't have to hurry this, I'm not going anywhere," I reassured her.

Oh, I'm shameless, shameless as a man can be
You make a total fool of me
I just wanted to you to know.

She moaned again as I took her other breast into my mouth, swirling my tongue around the hardened peak. My hands glided down her waist to her skirt. I felt her hips start to rock into me ever so slightly. I pushed my hands down along her thighs, feeling the silky fabric covering her. My fingers wrapped around the hem, lingering on the softness of her skin.

Oh, I'm shameless, I just wanted you to know
Shameless…

As I continued lavishing her tits with my mouth, her hands traced along the waist band of my boxers while my hands started to rub circles on the skin of her thighs. She was breathing heavy and the rocking of her hips continued, growing more pressured. I knew she could feel my erection against her thigh and I was hoping that she would find a way to get my clothes out of the way. I had dreamed of her taking me into her mouth, letting me cum down her throat, but I knew that wouldn't happen tonight. I was thrilled with whatever she would give me, and I knew that eventually we would get to that. We had to have something to look forward to – to work towards.

I almost gasped as I felt her hand slide between my skin and underwear, mingling with the hair of my Happy Trail. Soon the tips of her fingers were circling the head of my cock. I was sure she could feel the pre cum that was forming there and I was dying to know what she was thinking in that moment. Did she know that would happen? Did she know that was normal? Was she curious what it tasted like? No, I couldn't go there. Not tonight.

The circles my hands were tracing on her thighs began to climb higher until finally her skirt was pushed up against her hips and I could feel the edge of her panties. As I moved my fingers towards her heated center I felt her hand slip lower, grasping my hard length in her delicate fingers. Instinctively she knew what to do as she began pumping me.

I groaned in ecstasy, releasing her nipple from my mouth. She shifted back on my lap slightly and rose up on her knees.

"What, what's wrong?" I whispered.

"Nothing, except that these pants are in the way. Can you lift up a bit, let me move them down?"

"Sure."

I lifted up off the seat as her hands moved to grab the waistbands of my pants and underwear. She shimmied them down until they were near my knees, then I lowered back down onto the seat.

"Do you want to take off my panties now or later?" she asked, with her teeth pressed into her bottom lip.

"I don't care; we can work around them if you want to."

"Edward, I might bleed, right? I mean, my friends said I might bleed the first time. Is it gonna be a lot?"

I didn't know what to tell her, I'd never had sex with a virgin before, but I didn't want to look like an idiot in front of her either.

"Um, I think it's just a little bit. It will probably hurt though. We don't have to do anything Bella; we can just keep playing around."

"No Edward, we are going to do this. Stop trying to talk me out of it. I feel like I'm seducing you or something," she said with a laugh.

"Well, take them off then. It will just be easier that way," I told her.

She shifted a little bit and brought both of her legs to her right side and easily slid her panties down.

"Should I take off my skirt too?" she asked.

"No, leave it on, its okay."

She lifted her leg to straddle my lap again and wrapped her hand back around my cock.

"Oh Bella, you have no idea how good that feels," I sighed.

She smiled and teased me, "It will feel even better in a minute."

I moved my hands back to her thighs and quickly pushed them under her skirt. My right hand traveled up her leg until I reached her center and slowly moved my fingers to her lips there, surprised at how wet she was for me. I stroked my fingers back and forth, spreading the liquid there before finally plunging a finger into her.

I felt her body start to shake as she called out my name. It made my heart soar knowing that no one else had ever touched her like this before.

We continued touching each other, making each other feel good, and I watched her face, amazed at how beautiful she was. She was so relaxed and carefree in that moment.

"You're so beautiful, Love. I could stare at you like this for the rest of my life."

"Oh Edward, the way you make me feel… I never knew it could feel like this."

I quickly added another finger to her wet pussy. I knew I would need to stretch her out a little if I wanted to save her some pain. Her hand continued sliding up and down my cock, squeezing tightly and turning over the tip, spreading the cum that was steadily pooling there. My thumb soon found her clit and started rubbing it gently.

"Edward!" She groaned loudly. Her hips soon began rocking with a new vengeance, stronger and more determined. She stroked me harder and faster as I continued to suck and lick and kiss every inch of her chest and neck that I could reach.

"I'm ready, Edward. I want you in me. I need you in me, please…" she said.

I added a third finger to her wetness, hoping she could hold off for just another minute.

I looked up at her and pulled my fingers out of her. "Lift up, get up on you knees and come closer to me," I said.

She let go of my cock, which was standing on it's own by this point, and shifted closer to me, her wet pussy hovering over me. My hand was still covered in her juices and I wrapped it around myself, spreading the wetness on me in an effort to reduce the friction between us when I entered her.

"Now what?" she panted as she waited for me to tell her what to do next.

"You need to lower yourself really slowly onto me, okay? Don't go too fast, give yourself a chance to stretch out some. It might hurt less that way. If you need to, stop. Anytime you need to, alright?" I instructed her.

"Okay, I trust you," she said, though I saw worry on her face as her brow furrowed and she dug her teeth into her bottom lip. She was scared and even though I was doing everything I could think of to reassure her, I felt like I should do more. I should be more attentive to her and take my time, but she was ready and having her with me like this was clouding my judgment.

"Just relax, don't be too tense. It'll be easier, I promise."

I angled my cock until the tip was sliding along her wet folds. I felt her shiver above me and her eyes closed and she mewed as her fingers dug into my shoulders. Her hips rocked back and forth, rubbing her soaking heat on my arousal. My left hand grabbed onto her hip and stilled her. I lined up my cock to her entrance and whispered to her, "Now, let it in."

She slowly started to lower onto me. As my tip entered her body I began to feel how tight she was going to be. No other girl I had ever been with had been this tight. Part of me wished she would just plunge down and start riding me.

She continued to ease onto me and soon I felt the barrier of her hymen. She paused, breathing heavily.

"Are you okay baby?" I said in the sweetest voice I could muster.

"Yeah, give me a minute. I heard this is the part that hurts. Just hold on."

I still had my hand wrapped around my cock, so I carefully started stroking myself. Bella opened her eyes and looked at me.

"Do you know how hot that is baby?" she said.

"What?"

"You stroking yourself while you slide into me?"

I laughed and replied, "Do you have any idea what your tight little pussy is doing to my big, hard cock?"

She laughed and lowered herself more. When I saw her face winch in pain my hand on her hip dug in to keep her from moving any lower.

"Edward, it's not bad. I just want to get past this part. Hold still."

As I watched her face I could see the 'rip off the band aid' expression I had seen so many times before – Bella was always a fan of doing things quickly to avoid pain. Before I could stop her, she forced herself down on me completely, letting me fill her totally. My dick was so overjoyed that it made my mouth stop working. I tried to protest to her, but no words came out. She stilled for a moment then she started rocking again and I thought I would die.

I was in the back seat of my awesome car, buried in the most beautiful girl in the world, sucking on the most amazing set of tits ever created, and listening to total chick music. I was the happiest jerk on the planet.

As she rocked faster towards me, my hips started to push up into her. She moaned as I grunted and I opened my eyes to watch her as I felt her body start to quiver.

"Edward, oh Edward… I think I'm close baby."

"Let go Bella, just do what feels good," I told her, watching her face closely.

Her breathing started to pick up and her fingers grasped for my skin. Her face was so calm, yet her brow furrowed like she was deep in thought. Her movements got faster and faster, spurring me on. I pounded harder and harder up into her, trying to make the connection as close as possible.

Suddenly I felt her take a deep breathe as her back arched, her head falling against the headrest of the front seat. Her hands shot up to the roof of the car in an effort to steady herself. She let out a long moan followed by my name a few times and I could feel her inner walls clenching down on my dick. I grabbed her hips a little harder and pushed into her three more times before finally filling her with my cum. I held her body to mine as we both rode out the orgasms we were experiencing. No words were said, only breathing and gasping.

When I finally opened my eyes to look at her, I could see that her eyes were still closed and she had tears running down her face. My heart stopped. I had hurt her. I let my own desires get in the way and hadn't been as gentle as I should have been with her.

"Bella, honey, are you okay? Did I hurt you? Please, tell me what's wrong."

Her eyes opened and she looked down at me. "Baby, there's nothing wrong. Everything is exactly right. That was perfect. Really, it was so amazing, I can't help but cry. This is the best thing that's ever happened to me. For the rest of my life, no matter what, I will always remember this moment here with you, the way I feel and the look on your face. I love you so much Edward. I don't ever want to forget this."

More tears fell from her eyes as she leaned over to kiss me sweetly on the lips. She wrapped her arms around my neck and we held each other for what seemed like hours. I rubbed her back and sang quietly to her as I felt her continue to cry, her breath hitching every so often.

"I love you Bella. Forever, Love. Forever," I whispered softly in her ear.

"Forever," she said to me.

It wasn't until later as we got dressed that I realized I forgot the condom. I'd never had sex with a girl without using a condom, so I wasn't sure how I had forgotten it. I didn't think it was a good time to mention it to Bella, though I'm sure she knew. I decided that I would ask her later if maybe she was on the pill, and besides, what where the odds of her getting pregnant the first time we had sex? Millions of people had sex every day with no condom and they never had babies. I knew we would be okay, I had faith.

I had to. Our future depended on it.

*****

We grew closer and closer over the few months after Valentine's Day, and our physical relationship flourished as well. We almost got caught several times by either my parents or Chief Swan, and to be honest, I was scared to death of him and his gun, but we always managed to come up with a good cover story. I'm sure our parents knew more than they said, but they never tried to keep us apart. Lucky for us we had my car and her truck, both of which saw a lot of nakedness that spring. We managed to remember a condom almost every time we had sex. We never talked about the first time, but it had been three months and Bella never mentioned any complications from that night, so I figured we were in the clear.

The last week of school had finally arrived and when I got home from graduation rehearsal, I was excited to see Bella's truck in the driveway. We hadn't had much time together since things had been busy all week; both of us had finals and other end of school stuff to do. Bella had been in a bad mood for days. I wasn't sure what was wrong, but I tried to be supportive and give her the space that she seemed to need. I couldn't ignore the nagging in the back of my mind that something was very wrong. She was going to be spending a few weeks over the summer in Florida with her mom, but we had arranged for me to go out half way through her time there and then fly home with her.

It had been a week since I had given Bella the promise ring I chose for her. It had a single emerald with three small diamonds on each side and a gold band. When I slid it on her left ring finger I finally felt like my future was set – she was really mine and we would spend the rest of our lives together. The two years apart while she finished high school would be challenging, but I had faith in our devotion to one another. We would make it.

As I entered the house I wondered where Bella was. I was anxious to see her, to hold her. Graduation was the next night and I had something special planned. Most of the kids from school were going to all night graduation parties, so I told our parents we were going too, but I reserved a hotel room for us in Port Angeles instead. I was going to spend an entire night alone in a hotel with my girl. Graduation couldn't get over soon enough for me.

I walked into the kitchen and could hear Bella talking in the living room. It sounded like she and Alice were discussing something. I didn't want to eavesdrop but I didn't want to interrupt either. I hesitated in the kitchen before letting them know I was there.

"Alice, there just isn't any other way; I can't ruin him like this. Please, just be my friend. Help me, please."

"Bella, are you kidding me? You have to tell him, there is no way that you can not tell him! What are you thinking?"

"No, I've looked over all the paperwork and this is the only way. This is the only thing I can do, Alice. I love him so much, you don't understand. I can't be that girl, Alice. Not for him."

"Bella, don't you get it, you're not that girl, you're the girl. There is no other girl for him. There never will be. It won't matter; all the things running through your head are never going to happen. Please, tell him."

"No, I've already decided. Everything is taken care of. Promise me Alice; promise me that you will never ever say anything about this to anyone. Please Alice, I'm begging you. Please just be my best friend, one last time."

"Bella… What am I going to do without you?"

I could hear them both crying and I had no idea what they were talking about. What did Alice mean by what was she going to do without Bella? Was Bella going somewhere? Maybe she had figured out a way that she could come to be near me for the next two years. That must be it. We were planning to get married anyway, maybe her dad finally said it was okay for her to live with her aunt that was only 15 miles from the university.

I couldn't wait to talk to her, I had to know what was going on. I walked down the small hallway and into the living room.

"Hey," I said. Alice had Bella in a strong embrace and at the sound of my voice both girls quickly pulled away from each other. I saw the tears on both of their faces and a sense of dread filled me. Something was very wrong.

Alice quickly stood up and ran from the room without looking at me. I watched her run up the stairs and towards her bedroom before turning around to look at Bella.

"Baby, what's going on? Are you alright? Why are you guys crying?" I asked in a somewhat panicked tone.

Bella's gaze fell to the floor and I watched her wringing her hands together. She was nervous.

"Edward, come sit down for a minute," she quietly said. "I need to talk to you."

I flew to the couch and sat beside her. I was surprised when she scooted away from me, putting distance between us.

"Edward, I don't know where to start. This past year has been the best time of my life, I have been so happy with you. I've never felt so loved before. But I'm not being fair to you. I want you to be happy and I know that you can't be if you go away to college and leave me here waiting for you. I want you to have experiences there that you just won't get if you're with me."

I was shocked at what I was hearing. "Bella, no, I'm happy with you. That's all I want from my life, to be with you. I don't need any crazy college life, all I need is you. We've been over this a million times, I'm not missing out on anything. I don't feel like I'll be missing anything at all by – "

"Edward stop! Listen to me, you are going to miss things and I don't want to be the girl that keeps you from enjoying yourself. I don't want you to look back on your life 20 years from now and resent me for holding you back. You need to – "

"No Bella, we aren't talking about this anymore. We are staying together and that's it. We're getting married in a few years. Besides, when I'm at school all of my time will be spent in class or doing homework or practicing or away at games – I'm not going to have time to do anything else. I won't be missing anything."

She sighed and her shoulders straightened. She looked up at me, staring into my eyes.

"Edward, don't do this. Please just listen to me and understand that this is what's best for you. It's what's best for me. Do you really think it's good for me to sit here pining away for you for two years? Do you really think that's in my best interest?"

I couldn't argue with that logic. I knew it wasn't best for her and I knew she deserved to enjoy her last two years of high school, but it killed me to think of her with anyone but me. I didn't want to imagine her laughing with other boys, going on dates with other boys, kissing other boys, being in the backseat with other boys. I was too selfish and I would die before I sat back and watched that happen.

"Bella, it's not going to be like that. You know I would never hold you back. I want you to have fun with your friends and enjoy yourself. I just want you to be with me, too. You can do both of those things, I won't stop you. I just need…I need for at the end of the day, for you to be with me."

She looked at me, sadness filling her eyes. I could tell that she was wavering in her decision and I hoped that my words would be enough to convince her that her train of thought was the wrong one. As the tears began to pool in her eyes I reached out to take her hand and I rubbed the ring on her finger with my thumb.

"I gave you this because I meant it. I wanted you to have something of me while I'm not here. I didn't chose the emerald just because it was pretty, I chose it because you're always saying how my eyes are this color of green, and I wanted you to be able to look at it when I'm not here and see me in it. I want you to know that for as long as you wear this ring, I am always with you. You're my life, Bella. I could never love anyone else the way I love you."

She started to cry, tears running down her face. She pulled her hand away and started to remove the ring and my world skidded to a stop.

"Take the ring Edward, I can't keep it anymore. I can't do this. I'm not strong enough."

She pulled off the ring and placed it in my hand. She sighed and said in a whisper, "You're the only man I'll ever love. Know that and please don't hate me for this. It's the only way, trust me, everything is better this way." She stood up and started to walk towards the door and I sat staring at the ring, knowing I couldn't let her leave me.

I jumped up and ran to her, grabbing her arms and turning her around to face me.

"No Bella, I'm not letting you do this to us. We belong together. You know it!"

"Please, just let me go Edward. You know this is right…"

"Bella, no. I won't let you walk out of here like this. I won't. You mean everything to me and I will never stop fighting for you – for us. We are right, Bella. You know it."

"I used to think so," she quietly said. I could tell from her tone of voice that she meant it. In her mind we were over. I felt the tears fill my eyes, stinging and threatening to run over.

"Baby, please don't leave me. You know I can't make it without you. You know I won't live without you." It was a selfish thing for me to do, to appeal to her sense of compassion by threatening to hurt myself if she left me. I knew it as the words came out of my mouth, but I didn't care. If it made her stop and realize that we belonged together then I would do it everyday for the rest of my life.

"Don't say that. Please, no matter what happens, you can't hurt yourself. Ever, Edward. I can't live in a world where you don't exist. No matter where I am, I need to know that you are real. That what we had was real. That you did love me. I need to know that."

It was over. My life, everything I had planned for our future, over. Done. It was clear to me that there was no way to make her change her mind. I had to have faith that one day soon she would realize how right we were for each other. I knew I had to let her go today, but I would spend every second of every minute trying to win her back. We had the summer together before I left for college, and I would go out of my way to make sure I saw her every day. I wouldn't stop fighting for us.

"Bella, take this ring. Wear it. I gave it to you, just like my heart. I meant what I said; as long as you wear this I will be with you. You own me, Bella. Whether you want me or not, I'm yours. Please, just wear it. Everyday. Look at it and remember that wherever I am, I am in love with you."

I slid the ring back on to her finger then held her hand as I looked up into her face. She was sobbing and I was surprised when she raised her free hand and let her fingers trace the tears that were falling down my cheeks. For a second time she was watching me cry, but I didn't care. Without her nothing mattered to me. I had no pride left, I was shameless like the song said.

She cupped my face and slowly rose on her toes, bringing herself closer to me. Her lips gently grazed mine in a sweet, soft kiss. I rested my forehead against hers as our lips parted. She closed her eyes and whispered softly, "Forever, Love. Forever."

And she was gone.

I replayed her words over and over in my mind for the next several hours. I still didn't fully understand what had happened, how she could have given up on us so easily when I heard her telling Alice how much she loved me only moments before she left. Alice had been avoiding me since Bella had gone; but she knew something and she wasn't telling me. For whatever reason, she was keeping her promise to Bella and being a friend to her and I couldn't help but wonder how her loyalties could lie with Bella and not me – I was her brother.

As I sat through the graduation ceremony, my eyes searched the crowd looking for Bella. She had to be there. I was just hoping to find her, to talk her into spending the night with me. I knew that if I could just get her alone at the hotel, then I could convince her of my feelings and she would change her mind. When the ceremony was finally over I walked around through the sea of people until I finally found Alice standing with Jasper. She was whimpering at his side.

"Alice, where's Bella? I need to talk to her but I haven't seen her, do you know where she is?" I asked as I ran to her and noticed she was sniffling.

"No Edward, I don't know where she is. I haven't seen her today, but leave her alone Edward, she doesn't need you making a scene here in front of everyone."

Alice hadn't seen her. That wasn't good. As I walked away I soon saw Chief Swan standing near my father and they looked to be in a serious conversation.

"Excuse me, Chief Swan, where's Bella? I can't find her and I need to talk to her." The Chief turned and looked at me, his eyes filled with a sadness I had only seen once before, the night of the Valentine's Dance when Bella found out about my past. My father placed his hand on my shoulder and squeezed slightly before he turned his downcast eyes and walked away towards my mother, who stood silently close by.

"Edward, son, Bella isn't here tonight." The Chief had never called me 'son' before. That combined with the look on his face should have told me right then and there what had happened.

"Well, where is she? We were supposed to go out to a few of the graduation parties tonight."

"Son, she left this morning," he said stoically. I turned and saw my mother crying into my father's chest, obviously knowing more than I did about what was happening.

"She left where? I don't understand."

"She was on a plane this morning. She went back to Florida to live with her mother. She's not coming back, Edward."

Things around me started to spin. She left? She wasn't coming back? Why?

"Edward," the Chief said while placing his hand on my shoulder, "she said to tell you that she's sorry but that this is the best way. Now, I've already told your parents that Bella doesn't want you following her out there, so please don't get any ideas about that. She's turning off her cell phone as soon as she gets a new one, so don't bother calling her. You need to just get on with your life, go to college, make friends, enjoy yourself. Don't worry about her anymore, okay?"

"No!" I shouted, "It's not okay! I love her more than anything in this world and I will never stop fighting for her. How could you let her do this? You know she wasn't happy there, how could you let her leave? She doesn't belong there; she belongs here, with me!" I shouted angrily.

I didn't want to start crying in front of all the people there, so I had to get away.

I ran to the parking lot and found my car, throwing myself inside and driving as fast and far as I could, with no real destination in mind. I soon found myself on a deserted road north of town, so I pulled onto the small lane and parked the car. I remembered what had happened right in that spot only a few months before. At that time my life was perfect. Now I sat there with nothing by ashes all around me. I had nothing. I saw my cell phone sitting in the console and I grabbed it. I didn't stop to think that Miami was three hours ahead of me and that Bella would most likely be asleep after traveling all day. I didn't care. I had to talk to her. I dialed the number that I knew by heart and waited. Finally the ringing stopped.

"Hello?" I heard a groggy voice say.

"Bella?" I asked, "Bella, is that you?"

"Edward…"

"What the hell, Bella? How could you do this to us? You just got on a plane and left me here? How could you… Why did you do that?" I was yelling so loudly that I was probably scaring her, but I was mad. I didn't care about her feelings at that moment. She obviously didn't care about mine.

"Edward, I told you yesterday, this is for the best. Please, don't hate me. Just get on with you life and forget about me."

"That's never gonna happen, Bella! Don't you get it? I can't live my life without you! I don't want to! I can't believe you did this. What on earth made you do this? I'm gonna get on a plane tomorrow and come out there, we're gonna get this whole thing straightened out now!"

"No, Edward, don't do that! You can't come here. Ever! I don't want to see you. Please don't make me say it again." Her voice was rising with frustration and anger, but there was something more there, something that I couldn't quite tell. She sounded scared.

"Bella, what do you mean you don't want to see me? Why not?"

"Leave me alone Edward! I don't ever want to see you again!" she screamed into the phone. "Don't you get it, I ran as far away from Forks as I possibly could, just to get away from you. You're a smart man, figure it out! Don't call me. Don't write me. Don't come see me. Just leave me alone!"

I heard the line go dead and was shocked that she had hung up on me. I closed my phone and sat in the silence, sobs wracking my body.

I had nothing.

As the sun dawned the next morning my tears were finally beginning to fade. Bella left me, for what reason I would never know, but she never wanted to see me again. I had to find a way to live without her; however I knew in my soul that I would never be truly happy if I didn't have her. Deep in my heart I knew that as long as she was happy, I would be okay. All I ever wanted was her happiness, and if being away from me would make her happy, then I would sacrifice my own life to make sure she got everything she wanted. I would survive, as long as I knew she was happy.

*****

It had been over 4 years since I last saw Bella. I hadn't heard her voice since she screamed at me through the phone, telling me to leave her alone. Now here I sat in front of a house on a hot summer day. I was scared to knock on the door and nervous of what I would find.

College had gone well. I played a lot of ball, took a lot of classes, and screwed a lot of girls. Everything I did was done in an effort to get the vision of Bella out of my head.

Nothing worked.

I was home in Forks one weekend visiting my parents between visits to colleges. I was trying to find the right medical school and I had been everywhere so far. None of them seemed to fit what I was looking for. I had one more option, The University of Miami. I was scheduled to meet with their advisors the next week to tour the campus and see the surrounding area. I had lined up a rental car so I could do a little exploring of the city on my own. I searched the phone books and information to see if Bella's name popped up anywhere. I wanted to see her, just see if she was okay. But I found nothing.

I searched the student directory for the university, but nothing was there either. I had to face the fact that she was probably not in Miami anymore, or maybe had a different last name now. That prospect made me sad, but I still wanted to see if she was happy, just to check for my own peace of mind.

I walked into the kitchen and saw a couple stacks of wedding announcements. Alice and Jasper were getting married in a few weeks and she had been working on her announcements for months it seemed. The top envelope on one of the stacks was addressed to my aunt, the one under that to a cousin, the one under that to an old classmate. I continued to look through them, curious as to whom Alice was inviting and my heart stopped when I looked at the 10th envelope. Ms. Bella Swan. And there was an address – a Miami address.

I stared at it, unsure of what to do. Quickly, before anyone else could walk into the room and stop me, I grabbed a pen and piece of notepad paper and wrote the address down. I carefully stacked all of the envelopes back up the way they were and ran to my bedroom, anxious to get online and MapQuest the address.

I didn't know what to expect from seeing her as I looked at the little blue house with the bright yellow and orange flowers in the front yard. It wasn't very big, but it was cute. I hadn't seen anyone come or go during the hour that I sat in my car parked across the street. Finally, I gave in to my curiosity and I approached the house. Walking slowly up the sidewalk, I stopped at the door and hesitated. Would she be happy to see me? What if she was married? She couldn't be though, since the invitation said Ms. Bella Swan. What if there was a man in her life, what would I do? Could I really just walk away if I saw that she was happy without me? What if she was still wearing my ring? Could I take that as a sign that she still loved me?

"Excuse me, sir," I heard someone shout from the house next door. I glanced up and saw a woman looking at me.

I raised my hand and pointed to my chest and said, "Who, me?"

"Yes, you," she replied.

I walked towards her slowly, unsure of what she wanted from me. She looked to be busy working in her flower garden, planting little purple flowers. I choked back a laugh when I noticed her hot pink gardening gloves that were the same color as the ones my mother wore. She was an older woman, and I wondered how well she knew Bella, though from the look of the houses in the neighborhood, I could imagine block parties happened there on a monthly basis. She had a pleasant smile and I instantly felt that I could trust her.

"I don't think they're home right now, you might want to come back later."

"Oh, do you know when they'll be back?" I asked, curiously.

"No, I think they took the little boy down the street to the beach. He had his blue football with him, cute little guy."

Bella and a little boy? But she said they took him. My heart immediately sunk because I knew Bella was with someone. I tried to keep my breathing regular as not to alert the woman to my distress.

"Bella lives here, right?" I asked, wanting to make sure I had the right house and the right girl.

"Yes, Bella and that cute little boy, E.C. You should see that boy throw a football, he's a natural, I tell you what."

"What beach did they go to, do you know?"

"Yeah, just at the end of the street. The road turns and the parking lot is right there. They usually walk down there so you might pass them on your way."

"Thanks so much, I really appreciate it," I told her sincerely. She smiled at me and waved as I jogged towards my car.

I rushed to the end of the street and found the parking lot, pulling all the way through and parking on the end. I got out of the car, putting a baseball hat and sunglasses on in an effort to disguise myself a little. My bronze hair always made me easy to pick out in a crowd and I didn't want to chance Bella seeing me before I saw her.

I walked over to the sidewalk that was running along the parking lot and found that there were several people out but it wasn't overly crowded. I walked towards a building that looked to house a concession stand and restrooms. As I approached the other side I saw her.

She was in the sand, standing next to a man who looked to be a few years older than her, and there was a little boy clinging to her leg. My heart stopped. It was true, she moved on. I tried to make myself turn and run back to the car but my feet were frozen. My body craved her and I couldn't turn away. I had to drink in as much of her as I could.

The man next to her picked up the football and the little boy took off running in the opposite direction. The man threw the ball and the boy jumped to catch it as Bella cheered and laughed. It was at that point that I truly realized how much I missed her.

"Good catch, E.C.! Throw it back, let's see how far you throw it, baby!" she yelled.

Even the sound of her voice stirred me. I yearned for her, and she was within my grasp. All I had to do was walk out and yell her name, but instead I stood hidden away near the building. I remained still for a few minutes watching the three of them play with the football. The neighbor woman was right; the little boy was a natural talent. He looked to be about three years old or so and he was stunningly beautiful, just like Bella.

Soon, I heard the ball hit the side of the building and I crouched down so as not to be seen in case they glanced over towards where the ball had gone. I heard little footsteps running towards me and I looked up to meet the brown eyes that I had fallen in love with, only they were in another face.

"Hey mister, did you see my ball?" he called to me.

"Yeah, it's right here," I said as I picked up the blue ball with the gold and white W on it and handed it to him.

"Thanks!" he said and turned to run back to the sand.

I stood there watching the three of them run and laugh and play together. I could see the joy in Bella's smile, the happiness on her face. She was okay, she had moved on, she made a life for herself without me, and she was happy. I could never threaten that. All I wanted was for her to be happy, and she was.

I stared for a few more moments, memorizing the way her long hair laid across her back. The way her shirt stretched over her fuller, more womanly curves. The way her smile was brighter than the sun. I closed my eyes, listening to the sound of her laughter, the beauty in her voice as she called encouragingly to her little boy. As I opened my eyes to see her one last time, I noticed the sun light sparkle against a stone on her left ring finger. I saw the man next to her had a ring on his finger too. She had found love on the beaches of Miami. Her destiny never lied in the forests of Washington.

I gazed upon her for the last time, letting the words I had clung to for four years slip from my tongue, "Forever, Love. Forever."

I smiled towards her, happy for her and her life. I turned and walked to my car, anxious to leave and get back to my world. As I drove away I realized something – I was leaving my heart on that beach with a brown eyed girl. It was never really mine to begin with; it had always belonged to her.

*****

As the little family ran and played in the sand, the sun began to descend in the sky.

"E.C., baby, we gotta get home soon. Get your ball so we can go."

"Momma, I wanna stay here longer," the little brown eyed boy whined to his mother.

"Come on E.C., listen to your Momma, we gotta get going before it gets dark," the man standing next to his mother said.

"Don't you want to make those cookies today, sweetie? You remember what happened last time Nana Renee tried to make cookies without your help don't you?" the mother jokingly said. The three of them laughed, remembering the house full of smoke as the cookies burned in the oven.

"Bella, you can't ever let your mother forget that, no matter what!" the man said with a loud laugh.

"Papa Phil, don't you like Nana to make cookies for you?" the little boy innocently asked the man.

"Of course I do, but cookies taste much better when little grandsons help make them," he said sweetly to the boy.

The mother quickly took hold of the little boy's hand, his grandfather taking his other hand. The three of them walked down the sidewalk towards their home, unaware of the silver car driving past them and the driver inside silently watching them walk away.

"Momma, can I watch daddy on TV today?" the little boy asked his mother.

"Honey, he's not on today, but you can watch your video, how about that? You want to watch his football game in the snow or that one in the rain? Which one is your favorite?"

"I like him in the snow, he was shaking and cold, huh Momma?" he giggled.

"Yeah, baby, I'm sure he was."

The mother looked down at her left hand, seeing the green stone staring back at her from her ring finger. She remembered a pair of eyes the same color as the stone and the promise that the boy they belonged to had made to her – Look at it and remember that wherever I am, I am in love with you.

She closed her eyes and whispered softly to herself, "Forever, Love. Forever."

The family continued down the sidewalk towards their home, with a little three year old boy proudly wearing his daddy's jersey under his jacket, the name CULLEN written boldly across the back, his bronze hair hidden beneath his baseball cap.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

A/N -- So, do you like it? I hope you don't think it was a total waste of time. Let me know!

Oh, and E.C.'s name, in case you didn't figure it out, is Edward Charlie. I love that.