Chapter One – She's a Little Runaway

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EmPOV

"Fucking Brandon," I murmured under my breath as I sat back against the hot sticky seat of the car. My little a-hole roommates were always doing this shit to me. "Emmie, we'll just be a minute," or "beauty takes time," or my fucking favorite, "I just gotta do one more thing before we leave." My ass always is waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

I hate fucking waiting.

I exhaled deeply, trying to right my mind away from the f-bombs and irritation, because those girls were not going to change. Ever.

I stared out the windshield watching Alice talk a mile-a-minute to some poor blonde-haired boy. Describing him in that moment in time, he looked exactly like a deer in headlights before you slam into it with your car. It was odd how he watched her intently as she rambled on about something. He simply just smiled back at her.

Interesting. Alice looked nervous – this is a first.

She looked like she might be reenacting the Mount St. Helens eruption or executing a cheer at a football game, and she was turning a brilliant shade of pink. Lots of very excited Alice type arm movements. Anyone else would say she was just excited, but I knew better. That tell-tale bounce she had going on was pure Alice – she liked this boy. And by boy, I mean pretty boy, and he didn't look like an athlete or anything. Looked like one of those artsy-folk types, with crazy, I've-been-on-a-rollercoaster-all-day hair and clothes that may have, but probably hadn't been washed last week. I guess you could say he was borderline attractive.

God, I sounded like a girl!

That's exactly what shit rolls through your brain when you have two girls as your best friends and roommates. Okay, girls is not a valid word for them, maybe she-males or...fuck, there is no way to truly describe them adequately. I met Bella first, in the training room at the University of Washington, after we both blew out our knees on the same day. Bella had a soccer game versus Stanford, an epic game since the teams were both undefeated and battling to go to the NCAA tournament. She was going for a ball midfield and some bitch slide-tackled her and bye-bye went her ACL. I had heard from her teammates after the game that she was swearing so much that most of them went to church the next day to purge their souls. Typical Bella.

I had seen her lying on the training table with enough ice to fill two coolers of beer and by the odd shade of green she was turning I'd say she was ready to vomit. It distracted me for like 8.2 seconds because my own knee had left my body and felt like it was burning in the fiery pits of hell. My ACL went the way of the dodo bird after I went to sack the quarterback late in the 4th quarter and ended up in a 300 lbs. pound sandwich. I went one way and my knee went the other. I still can't get myself to watching that game, or the slow-mo replay of the hit. I still don't have the stomach for it. Bella won't watch that shit either.

We had reconstructive surgeries on the same day, scheduled back-to-back. I remembered laughing to myself before the surgery as they rolled that girl out into recovery. She kept babbling on and on about having the brush her teeth, make the bed, and various other chores. Then she tried to stand up and take her robe off because she wanted to shower. That was when I had seen it.

Two nurses had to hold her down until they got her out from under the anesthesia. She was asleep the whole time. It was classic. Of course, that is how our friendship started. The next day in the training room, we were icing on tables next to each other and...

"What's that a tattoo of on your hip?"

"What?! Um...how do you know I have a tattoo?" she whispered looking at me in horror from across the table.

"I saw it yesterday at the hospital, when you started flashing everyone in the recovery area," I said just waiting for her to bite. She was turning a brilliant shade of red and I was dying on the inside trying to keep from laughing. "It was quite the show."

"Oh god, kill me now," she squeaked out. And I went in for the kill shot.

"I must have to say you have one of the greatest racks I have ever seen. What are you? A 34C or 34B?" I said with one of those patty-drop smiles on my face. Let's see what she does with that.

I watched her as she let out the breath I knew she was holding. Then she did something odd. She sat up, turned to look at me, said "The boys are 34Cs," and then after a moment she shut her eyes and asked, "Did you see the kitty too?"

The laughter that was boiling up inside me burst out and I was laughing so hard that tears were running down me face. She just sat there staring at me with a beat red face and some crazy furious eyes. Then out of nowhere, I heard a loud crack as her ice bag connected with my face.

"You ASSHOLE!!!" she yelled at me. I took one look at her and knew I was in some serious trouble. Like super trouble. Like I was seriously Captain Fucking Trouble. Thank god the training was empty at the time because that shit could have gotten ugly.

"Okay, okay," I said with my arms outstretched trying to calm her down. "All I saw was the tattoo, and it was a brief flash. I was just having some fun with you. Seriously, nothing else."

She groaned as she let herself lay back on the table. "Does the asshole have a name?"

I chuckled, "Emmett, Emmett McCarty."

"Really?"she said as she got a devious look in her eye. "Emmett McCarty. Hmm, well...this changes things."

I was starting to become slightly afraid of this woman. She started to laugh to herself. Okay, I was officially afraid now. "What?! Can you fill me in?"

"I'm Isabella Swan. Most people actually just call me Bella or Swan. Whatever."

"Okay, am I supposed to know what is going on?" I asked hoping that life would become clearer because I had no fucking clue what was going on. I was searching file after file in my brain and coming up blank. She then turned back to me smiling like a Cheshire cat.

"I live over in the quad. I think you know my roommate Kate."

Fuck.

Great.

Fantastic.

This was one of those moments when fate deals you a really shitty hand. I tried my hand at humor in the hopes that Bella would go easy on me.

"You know Crazy Katie. Small world?" I asked as I chuckled to myself. I was silently wishing that this girl wouldn't throw me to the dogs. Or maybe just that one crazy dog.

"I think that I know everything about you already. You favorite music, your favorite food, what type of car you have, what cologne you wear, where all your classes are, what you look like when you sleep. All really normal not remotely creeper stalker stuff."

She was obviously having a good time at my expense. "Whatever did you do to deserve that?" she asked.

"Freshman weekend and too much Jager," I explained as I leaned back on the table. I groaned as I shifted the cyro-cuff off my knee. She looked at me as if she were on an airplane getting asked if she wanted chicken or beef for her meal. She went with chicken.

"Truce?"

"Truce, huh?" I said with some slight hesitancy.

"Well, I probably shouldn't go easy on you, but I have seen the shrine, and it is downright scary. I am not one hundred percent sure this wasn't some crazy act of voodoo or some shit," she pointed to my knee. "Maybe we can help each other out – you with the parties and all the hookups you football boys get, and me with Crazy Katie. Deal?"

"Deal."

Bella and I spent the next few months together in the training room rehabbing our knees. We would catch dinner together, occasionally watch movies and sometimes study together. Apparently in college land this meant we were dating but with Bella that never crossed my mind, except for the one night we kissed but that is a whole other story. Bella, Alice and I had lived together since sophomore year, and Alice and I were moving our last load to what will hopefully be the last place we live in together.

Why was I still waiting???

Alice was Bella's partner in crime and they had been assigned to each other as roommates freshman year. Alice was this skinny little petite thing that although surprising, did not touch caffeine. The reason I mention this is because Alice only had three realms of being; high energy, super crazy high energy, and asleep. Kid sleeps like a rock, and then poof, she's awake and usually annoying. Today was no different....

"ALICE! We....are....leaving!" I shouted out the window of the car, giving her that 'yeah, don't fuck with me' look. The look she shot me back was priceless; a cross between really pissed off and really fucking annoyed. That made two of us. I shot her back a death glare and she took the hint and said goodbye to her pretty dude guy and gave him a small wave as she made her way to the car.

"Emmett, what the HELL!? Seriously, do you want me to become a nun? I'll take my flipping vow of celibacy right now! Urgh!" Alice yelled. She looked at me like various evil ideas of ball mutation were going through her head.

There began yet another epic stare down. It lasted a little over two minutes, with plenty of nostril-flaring and eyebrow jackassry. It ended when I could feel the sweat beading up on back and I was in danger of having some serious issues with sticking to my seat. So, I turned my glare and started the car.

"We're late," I stated matter of factly. "Swan, will kill us if we don't meet them on time."

"We are dead already. We were supposed to be there at 12:30," she said dismissively as I started to the house.

Always fucking late...

BPOV

Ever had one of those surreal moments when you are driving somewhere and your mind is so preoccupied that you forget you were driving but still make it to your destination?

Wow, I had only 20 miles left. I had been really out of it. Hell, I was still out of it.

I shoved the credit card back into my pocket and jumped into the car. The leather of the seats had warmed slightly and I was throwing back on the AC. I decided tunes were in order for me to get my head back on driving and off of this past week's events. I put the iPod on shuffle and crossed my fingers that the music gods would allow for a favorable shuffle. A song from Garbage's first album came on and was amiable to driving so I saved it from the skip button.

As I pulled back on the highway I couldn't help but think back on when I first came to live with Charlie. Who could have thought that in four short years that I would be driving away from Forks to possibly never return. The thought made a shiver run down my whole body.

How did it all go so wrong?

I finally pulled up to the house around three in the afternoon. It was good to be home. Truthfully, U Dub was the only place that I ever felt like I belonged. It was different here; I was liked, wanted, and occasionally loved. I was popular. It was a far cry from where I had been in both Phoenix and Forks.

The house was perfect, and the cleaning crew I hired an amazing job getting her all spruced up for everyone to move in. This house was my baby. I bought her when she was a rundown old stinky frat house that had been sitting vacant for years. Nobody wanted her – but I could see her potential. I spent six-figures cleaning up the old girl, and basically had to gut it to have the house become habitable again. She had six bedrooms, four bathrooms, a huge living with the most massive plasma money could buy, and a gourmet kitchen. The only sad part in all of this was that they had to tear-out the three-level tap system. Emmett cried when I told him that we couldn't keep it. Real tears – no joke. I had it replaced with a Kegerator out on the back porch and I swear Emmett looked at me like I was Santa Claus for weeks when I told him about it.

I spent the rest of the day unpacking my stuff out of the truck and going on some massive food/beverage/random other stuff hauls from Safeway and Costco. Everything was perfect. Getting everything ready. Getting all my affairs in order.

I shook my head. That couldn't be where I was headed. No. No, no, no!

I mentally chastised myself for even going there. I could handle this.

I went to sleep that night alone with my big beautiful house. Emmett and Alice were just a few blocks away spending their night in that nasty little apartment, but I didn't call them. I wasn't even supposed to be here anyways. I was supposed to be enjoying my last few nights with Mike before I headed back to school. He was staying in Forks to take care of his mother and the store. That was his place in this world – in Forks. A beautiful small town. A beautifully small, cramped, suffocating town. I yanked my pillow off the bed and slammed it over my head.

What was wrong with me? Didn't I deserve happiness? Didn't I deserve to have a place to call home?

Why was his love not enough?

Why did I say no?

I knew the answer to the last question. That was easy. I left out the breath that I was holding and silent tears ran down my cheeks. I was alone.

Wouldn't she be happy that her darling baby turned out just like her...?

I had woken that morning with a sense of purpose, although I was decidedly tired from the night of restless sleep. I ran all my errands in the morning; athletic department (to get my check for room and board), bookstore, and the liquor store.

"Emmett must have been a really good boy," Mr. Cobble said as he winked at me. "I would offer to have one of the boys help you load that into your truck, but I know better."

I took the dolly from the side of the store and loaded the keg. To people who didn't know any better, I suppose I looked like I worked here. I unloaded the keg and returned the dolly to the store.

"Give my regards to 'Anchor Man' for me!" he yelled as I left the store. God I hated that name. It was one of the dumbest advertising campaigns for this school. I picked up one of the free football schedule posters near the door.

I knew exactly where to put this.

After setting up the keg, placing the poster in what I though was the most brilliant place ever, I sat at the kitchen table staring off into space. I had nothing to keep me occupied and my mind went there. It was like I couldn't escape my memories. He was looking back at me so intently, waiting for me to make the fairytale come true –

KNOCK! KNOCK!

I was instantly out of the memory haze and made my way to the front door. I opened the door to a beautiful blonde woman.

Okay, let's be serious...

I opened the door to a woman who; (a) may have graced the cover of any major magazine, (b) probably made every other woman on Earth feel like an ugly slob and not remotely pretty, or (c) all of the above.

I went with 'c.'

"Hi, can I help you with something?"

"Oh, you must be Bella. I'm Rosalie. Your new roommate," she said.

Before I could answer she said, "I am soooo sorry for being early, but I saw a car in the drive and was hoping someone was here."

"Yeah, I'm sorry. Emmett and Alice told me they had found two people to take the two other rooms. Um...do you want a tour?" I spat out.

"Sure, that would be great." She gave me a tentative smile.

I raised an eyebrow. "Have you already been here?" By the way she looked at me I had my answer.

"Yeah, Alice gave me the tour a few weeks ago. Although, I must have to say, this place looks amazing now that the furniture is in," she turned to give me a questioning look, "You did all of this?"

I thought I should probably be offended, but hey, I didn't exactly look like the poster girl for interior decorating. I just shrugged and said, "Yep."

After an awkward silence minute or four, I asked, "Where's your friend? The other roommate? Where is she?"

"Oh, well...she's a he. And, he is coming later today or tomorrow," she said as if I was going to pull the deal-breaker card out and chastise her for bringing her boyfriend into the house. I wasn't really okay with her bringing a boyfriend. Not at all.

"How long have you been together?"

She chuckled a little bit and said, "On and off for 22 years."

I raised my eyebrow expectantly again.

"He's my brother. You probably wouldn't look at us and think we were siblings, but we are. He looks like my mom, and I look like my dad."

With that explanation, I turned around to grab her two sets of keys. I had to let her in on the rest of Bella's particulars.

"You have to share a bathroom. Sorry, I have a weird aversion to man-hairs on everything so sharing a bathroom with a boy is a no-go. It's a full bath with a walk-in shower. Alice and I are sharing the master bath upstairs and it has the most awesome whirlpool tub, which you can use. There is also a hot tub on the upstairs balcony. Tell your brother my bathroom and tub are off-limits per the man-hair thing. Okay?"

She just looked at me and started to laugh at little.

"What?"

"Alice told me you were...quirky," she said.

"Alice says I am a lot of things. Well, I am going upstairs for a minute. Do you need anything else?"

"No, no thank you. Most of our stuff is coming tomorrow with my parents. But, I was too excited to spend a night here and start getting everything together," she said.

I went upstairs and was instantly drawn to my running shoes. I threw on some running shorts and a t-shirt and grabbed my iPod. I turned to look in the mirror and couldn't even look at myself. All I saw in that moment was her.

No. The fragile grip I had on the situation had been slipping with each passing moment.

I shook my head and made my way to the stairs. My head was becoming clogged with memories. Most of them painful. Most of them memories I couldn't escape and felt so real, so overwhelming.

I should have called Alice, or my dad, or Emmett, but I couldn't. I had made this mess this time. These were my choices that haunted me. I couldn't escape who I was.

As I was walking down the front steps I heard Rosalie yell, "Hey, where are you off to?"

"Going for a long run. I just need to clear my head," I stated.

And with that I was gone.

EmPOV

"No. Listen to me," I said to Rosalie harshly. "What were her exact words?"

"Emmett calm down. She said 'I just need to clear my head.' Is that a big deal?"

I flew up the steps into Alice room, and barged in. "She's running, Alice. Clearing her head. We have to go!"

Alice jumped off her bed and grabbed her shoes. She grabbed Bella's car keys and I grabbed some water and some energy bars from the kitchen. We've only been through this two times now.

What the fuck was she thinking? What happened?

"Rose, grab your shit and get in the car. We'll explain later."

As we hopped in the car, I grabbed my cell phone out of my pocket and dialed.

"Hello?" a voice said on the other end of the line.

"Charlie, it's Emmett. Hey, quick question. What happened this week to have Bella so upset?" I said. No beating round the bush this time. I had to know what we were up against this time.

"Oh, um...she's didn't tell you? Well, I guess there's no reason not to tell you. I can't believe she hasn't shared this with you yet. Didn't you see her yesterday?" Charlie asked.

"She was in town yesterday?"

"Yeah, she left the morning after the party. Didn't even wait til I was awake. Just left," he told me. He sounded despondent, like he had some shared pain in what happened.

"Charlie, what happened?" I said. My tone a little more demanding. Bella was my friend. Hell, Bella was my best friend. I needed to know.

"Mike asked her to marry him, and then it went downhill from there. Stupid kid did it in front of his whole family. She just freaked out. Told him no. I asked her about it later and she...well, she sounded just like her mother," he said, sounding more and more distressed.

I let out the breath I had been holding. This was bad. Epically bad.

"She said some pretty tough things to me, but I know she wasn't fighting with me," Charlie finished.

"Thanks, Charlie. Talk to you soon." I hung up the phone before he could even respond.

"Rose, how long ago did she leave?" I asked.

Rose looked at her watch. "About two hours ago. What is going on? Why all of the drama?"

Alice pulled out of the driveway and silently nodded to me as she made her way through the streets.

We had to find Bella soon.