A/N: I own: Nothing.

Stephenie Meyer owns: All things Twilight.

This is just a short 2-4 part (not sure yet) story that I randomly started to write.

First and foremost, thank you to two of my fellow Twilighted Junior Betas, flibbins and myimm0rtal, for readng over my work and making it sound ten times better! You ladies rock, and I can't thank you enough!

Also, thank you to my hubby is no edward, crystalnicoleyo, and mombailey for reading over this chapter when it was in its beginning stages and giving me your feedback and valuable suggestions. I love you girls more than you'll ever know!

Finally, I owe all my inspiration to my Team SOB hoors. Thank you for being one of the best parts of my everyday.


Love is a Circle

When Edward is faced with the possibility of losing Bella, he reflects over the past thirty years and the events that led him to fall in love with her in the first place.

A Short Story: AH, B/E, Rated NC-17 to be safe.

Part I

Love.

What is it?

The most used and abused word in the English language.

It's often spoken, made, shared, and shattered.

It can mean life. It can mean death.

It can bring faith. It can bring despair.

To love means to trust. To love means to breathe.

I've seen love when it's ugly, cruel, selfish, and full of hurt. I've seen my father beat my mother for love. I've heard my mother weep for love. I watched my mother die for love. And yet, somehow I'm supposed to believe in this perplexing word called love?

When I look at her—the girl responsible for the erratic beating of my heart—I have hope. I have hope that love can be true, that love can be real. I have hope that when two people are in love, truly and unconditionally…

Anything is possible.

--EC

-2009-

Love is fear.

"Hey, hon, it's me.

Just letting you know I got some news from the doctor today.

I'll fill you in on the details when you get home.

See you in a few.

Love ya."

I replayed the voicemail from Bella over again as I sat in the usual line of rush hour traffic on my commute home from work--a journalist by day and a husband by night. Of course, I was looking for any hint of disinclination in her voice, any kind of warning that I should be worried. However, she seemed pretty neutral, which somehow only made me more concerned.

To say that Bella hadn't been feeling well for the past few months would be an understatement. She would wake up in the middle of the night at least twice a week, and I'd hear her leaning over the toilet, emptying out everything she had consumed throughout the day. We both tried to brush it off as nothing, neither of us strong enough to face the truth, neither of us ready to believe in the monster that was more than likely going to take her away from me.

"We both know what this is," she had whispered, her soft voice carrying across the darkness of the bedroom we shared. It was a little over a week ago and she had just climbed back into bed after an episode. It was the first time either one of us had mentioned out loud what we both knew to be true. Somehow, speaking the words, made it all the more real. The words turned the nightmare into a reality.

"Was it not enough to take my mother from me? Why does it have to take me, too?" she had asked, when I didn't respond right away, only because I was in too much pain. It was in that moment that I truly realized just how paralyzing emotional pain could be, taking nearly everything away from me, capturing all of my hopes and dreams and crushing them into the very depths of my being. It was suffocating and excruciating, the cruelest turmoil I had ever experienced.

I turned in bed to face the woman responsible for my happiness, opening my arms to her and pulling her tiny frame into my chest. I could feel her tears running against the bare flesh of my chest and I hated the helplessness that consumed me. I had promised to always protect her from anything that would ever bring her harm, and yet ironically here she was, dying from the same cancer that took her mother exactly twenty years prior…

The loud and irritating honk of a horn brought me out of my contemplations, and I realized that traffic had moved, but I had not. Slowly, I caught up with the black Volvo in front of me, the sight of my exit finally coming into view. It was bittersweet and conflicting. I was anxious to get home to my wife, anxious to be there for her, but at the same time, I wanted to go a few more minutes without knowing.

Ignorance is bliss.

As traffic stopped once again, my mind continued to drift over the past thirty years of my life, the years that led me to love the woman that would forever hold a piece of my heart…

-1987-

Love is innocence.

"Hey, Bella?" I asked, gliding my innocent eyes up from the green grass to focus on the familiar warmth staring back at me.

She blinked twice and chewed on her bottom lip, a nervous habit she developed within the past year, as my hand wrapped more firmly around hers. Her hand fit inside mine so perfectly, almost as though that was where it belonged. We were surrounded by the safety and solitude of our special place, the only place we knew to come, the only place that would somehow protect us from the cruelty and constant uphill battles from the outside world we lived in.

"Yeah?" she asked, her tiny voice soft and full of everything that filled me with comfort and ease. We may have only been eight years old, but that didn't mean we didn't recognize we were all each other ever really had.

"What does it mean to be in love?" I asked hesitantly, because it was a question that had been whirling around in my head for quite some time, and though I knew I could tell Bella anything, I never really felt comfortable talking about that particular topic. Let's just say I didn't exactly have a good representation of love in my own life.

"Well," she started to reply, her brow creasing slightly as her brown waves of hair blew in the light breeze around our meadow. "I'm not sure. Maybe it means you want to kiss someone. If you kiss someone then you must love them, right?"

I pondered her response in my mind as I began to draw memories of my parents' relationship over the last few years. The only thing I could see clearly was my father's fist meeting the fragile bones of my mother's face, the sound of the connection echoing off the silence of the emptiness I felt. I couldn't remember a time when my parents kissed, but I knew Bella must have been right, because she was right about absolutely everything. She was the smartest, most perfect girl I had ever known.

"I guess you're right," I said, my lips turning up into a reassuring smile. "You always are, you know."

She was quiet for a moment, her mind lost deep in thoughts all her own. "Hey, Edward?" she eventually asked, shifting up and turning on her knees to face me.

"Yeah?"

"That must mean that I love you," she said, almost too softly for me to hear. I knew my eyes widened, and it was against my will, but I watched as her face instantly flushed in response to her confession.

"Why?" I asked, even though I already knew the answer. "Do you want to…you know…kiss me?"

She nodded her head and closed her eyes, while gently placing her hands on my shoulders to steady herself. Without speaking a word, she slowly began to lean toward me. I held my breath and mimicked her posture. With eyes tightly shut, I carefully closed the gap between us, lightly meeting my lips with hers. I had often wondered what it would be like to kiss a girl, and even though I never really thought of Bella as a "girl" in that sense of the word, kissing her was more profound than words. Her lips were warm and soft, molding perfectly against mine, and she tasted like vanilla and sugar.

Our innocent mouths lingered together chastely for a time longer than I could remember, and when we finally pulled away, we were both smiling the same smiles we wore on Christmas morning.

I didn't love Bella then, not the way that I would eventually learn how to, but that day would forever be ingrained in my mind as the day I was shown the true beauty of what it meant to have a companion, the true beauty of what it meant to have another person to count on. Bella was my best friend; she was my everything, the best part of my every day.

-1992-

Love is Enlightenment.

"Are you sure this is a good idea?" she asked, the slight quiver to her voice giving way to her uncertainty. "I mean, if my dad comes home and finds us with--"

"Bee, it's fine. Trust me," I assured her, already grabbing the Poison Ivy VHS out of her tiny hands and crawling over to the VCR. It was true that Bella, or Bee as I called her, was my best friend; however, that didn't change the fact that her wimpy attitude pissed me off. I pressed the R-Rated video inside the appropriate slot, watching it disappear from my view, and instantly, I was excited.

I knew from the moment I saw the video with the half-naked girl on the cover resting temptingly on my foster family's living room coffee table, it just had to be mine. In my defense, becoming a teenager had caused more abrupt changes than just the superficial patches of hair and uneven squeakiness of my voice. It was as if I woke up in wet, sticky underwear one morning and girls were everywhere, and all I could think about.

Bella and I went to a public school, so it wasn't like we didn't know all about sex and how it happened. In fact, I was almost 99% sure that half of our class was already engaging in said activities, and I'd be lying if I didn't confess I was envious.

I could still remember how I had wanted nothing more than to get with a girl. And not just the awkward kissing and the occasional feel of a small, barely-there breast. And, also not just with any girl, rather I wanted to explore all there was to see that differed from my own developing anatomy, and I wanted to do that with none other than Rosalie Hale. Rosalie was my very own, up close and personal version of Cindy Crawford.

Somehow, watching that video seemed like the right first step to get in her pants.

I knew I couldn't watch it at my house. My dad committed suicide when I was ten, and my mom followed shortly after—death from a broken heart, a heart torn to shreds because of a word that I no longer believed in. With that said, if there was anything to know about a foster family, it was that there was never any privacy. The house was always filled with more than one occupant, making it not only inconvenient, but downright infuriating. That was what led me to Bella's house that day. I could admit that it would be slightly awkward watching the video with her, considering we were starting to get to that age where it was no longer adorable for us to sleep in each other's beds all wrapped up in tangled arms and legs. Bella and I talked about everything and anything, but sex was never part of it. I often wondered if she thought about it at all, pondering that perhaps girls weren't like guys, that perhaps the concept rarely crossed their minds. I knew there was only one way to find out.

The video came to life in front of us as we sat side-by-side, Indian style, on the soft, blue carpet in front of the TV. We were both completely silent, the only sounds to be heard were the heavy breathing, kissing, sucking, and panting coming from the big screen, as the half-naked girl was involved in a highly seductive sex scene while in the rain, and on the hood of a car. I held my breath feeling my pants grow tighter as I chanced a peek at Bella out of the corner of my eye. She was wide-eyed and flushed, her tongue darting out and sweeping across her bottom lip as she watched the scene unfold before her. She must have felt my eyes on her, because she glanced over at me, her face instantly turning a dark shade of crimson. Her eyes automatically shifted down to the lump in my pants, and then she cleared her throat while trying to look at everything else in the room but me.

"I can't help it," I explained, and if it was anyone else but her, I might have felt more embarrassed.

"No, it's…it's okay," she stuttered, her eyes finally meeting mine, and she was staring at me so intensely I could practically feel the burn behind her fire. If I didn't know any better I would have said she almost looked…intrigued. I felt like I should've moved, spoken, blinked… done something rather than just sit there staring back at her at a complete loss for words.

Before I could contemplate her next action, she was leaning toward me, all breathy and awkward and her warmth was connecting to mine—soft lips and silky hair everywhere, all around me, consuming me completely. I kissed her for a moment before my brain finally caught up with my actions, and I realized the body my hands were currently exploring was none other than my best friend's. Quickly, I pushed her away from me, out of breath and eyes wide in shock.

"What are you…we…what are we doing?" I rambled, horrified by the intimacy we had just shared.

"I…I'm sorry," she said quietly, her head and eyes dropping to the ground in defeat.

"Was that as weird for you as it was for me?" I asked, laughing uncomfortably and wiping the moisture from my mouth.

"Weird?" she asked, careful to look at everything else but me. "Yeah…definitely weird…"

Her smile didn't meet her eyes and her laughter was forced. I didn't see then what I would later learn to be true. Bella was in love with me long before I realized my true feelings for her.

Rosalie Hale was all I could think about.

Bella, on the other hand, only ever saw me.

-1996-

Love is fictitious.

Was just wondering…if you... prom…with me?

I was leaning jadedly against my locker, arms crossed defensively in front of my chest, as I stared across the hallway filled with students, desperately trying to eavesdrop on the conversation Bella was having with Jasper Whitlock.

Oh, where to begin with Jasper Whitlock.

He was the pretty-boy, captain of the soccer team, the "I always have other intentions when it comes to women" kind-of-guy. Jasper was a dumb shit and ironically enough, he was also the object of Bella's affection. He was her supposed secret crush that she had yet to admit to me, though I knew her better than she would ever know herself. There was no way in hell she'd ever succeed in keeping something from me. There was also no way in hell I was going to allow Jasper Whitlock to touch her. Bella wasn't like the bimbos he seduced into his bed on a daily basis. She was genuinely beautiful, profound and intelligent, and far too good to be classified anywhere near his pathetic level.

The equation was easy…

Jasper's hands + Bella's body = Edward's fist in Jasper's face.

"I uh…you mean…um, you really want to go with me?" I heard Bella ask him in a fluster, her voice just barely above a soft whisper. It was apparent she had been taken completely off guard, and I couldn't help but to smile to myself because she was nervously tugging on the ends of the sleeves of her long-sleeve T-shirt. I always teased her about that particular quirk of hers.

Whitlock's eyes were focusing on every other part of her petite frame but her face, and it took everything I had not to walk over there and wipe the shit-eating grin off his perfectly shaven face.

"Of course, I would be honored to go with you, Belly Baby." I heard his cleverly mastered lies smoothly leave his lips, floating over the rhythmic whirl of other students' gossiping. The stupid pet name he gave her made me cringe. He had no right calling her that considering that was the first time he had spoken more than a sentence to her.

I would have walked over and stopped him then, had I any clue of what Bella's response would have been. Because as I stood confidently propped against my locker that day, completely sure that Bella was going to inform Jasper that she had, in fact, already had a date to the prom—said date being none other than myself—Bella was about to make the stupidest decision she had ever made in her entire life. Even far more idiotic than the time she decided to let my pet chameleon loose inside of my bedroom, only to piss off the man who called himself my father, setting him off on one of his rampages.

Instead of doing what I expected, Bella took a deep breath, and as if on cue, lifted her gaze, guiding it across the sea of students to lock directly on my burning stare. I quirked an eyebrow at her, straightening up while flashing her my typical smirk, and I knew that she knew what I was thinking. However, instead of telling Jasper to take a flying fuck, like I thought she would in maybe not so many words, she swallowed thickly and nervously glanced away from me. That's when I felt the heat flood into my face, the sudden anger and…okay, maybe even a tad bit of jealousy, consume me completely. I knew what she was about to do and I didn't like it.

"Yes, Jasper," she said, surely and confidently, avoiding looking over at me again like I was the plague. "I'll go to prom with you."

I huffed out loud, clenching my fists and loudly pushing off my locker, wasting no time to stalk in their direction, strategically pushing people out of my way.

That day Jasper Whitlock became the reason for my first major argument with the girl I was to love forever.


"What the hell are you thinking?" I yelled as soon as the doors closed behind us, animatedly throwing my arms up in the air to add emphasis to her idiocy.

I had grabbed Bella's arm and dragged her away from Jasper, but not before I told him to "fuck off" of course, and then I pulled her into an empty stairwell. She was looking at me wide-eyed and breathless, while simultaneously rubbing her upper arm where my hand had been a moment ago. And okay, maybe in hindsight I did overreact a little, and maybe I was a little rougher than what was considered necessary, but I was fucking jacked beyond belief, and she was supposed to go to prom with me for God's sake.

"What's your problem?" she yelled back at me, crossing her arms defiantly in front of her chest and narrowing her eyes. "How dare you embarrass me like that in front of him!"

"What's my problem?" I asked, my voice booming and echoing throughout the empty corridor. "You agreeing to go to prom with that motherfucking, walking STD is my problem!"

I watched her as she took a few wobbly steps away from me in response to my anger, not stopping until she felt her back hit against the wall of the stairs. I approached her until I was standing directly in front of her, my six foot frame towering over all five foot four inches of her.

"But I…you…he…" her voice trailed off and tapered to a quiet whisper, and I noticed that her cheeks were instantly filling with blood. Of course, she was getting embarrassed because she liked him. She was wasting all of her feelings on a guy that didn't even deserve to be loved by his own mother.

"Bella…" I said, my voice softening a little and trailing off. I placed my arms on either side of her head, trapping her between my body and the wall.

"Don't, Edward," she whispered, diverting her gaze to the ground. "I'm a big girl now; I can make my own decisions. I don't need you lurking in the shadows, acting like you have some sort of claim over me."

"I thought you were going to prom with me," I said quietly, and suddenly for the first time in my seventeen years of life, I felt vulnerable in front of her.

Up to that point, Bella had always been mine. She was always there for me, always reliable, always the one waiting for me to call her. She was forever the one in our meadow waiting for me to arrive after my dates with one of my many girlfriends. She was always the one that was home when I felt like stopping by to visit, never out in the company of someone else. She had always belonged to me, and suddenly, that wasn't the case anymore. I was now the one waiting for her to pick me to take to prom. I was suddenly the caller, the waiter, the pursuer.

"You never asked me," she eventually said, her voice slightly trembling, and I could remember thinking how very odd it was that she seemed so nervous.

"I didn't know I had to," I replied, bringing one of my hands under her chin to tilt it up so she would look at me again. Her eyes met mine all timid and shy, and she was looking at me the same way she looked at everyone else, small and scared. And it was all wrong.

It was all wrong because I was Edward and she was Bella, and we weren't defined by timid and shy. We were defined by comfort and ease, peas and pods, and laughter and smiles. We were defined by two tiny hands that fit perfectly together, by two tiny hearts that broke side-by-side, by years of tree-climbing, running away, and learning how to grow up in a world that we didn't seem to fit in.

Little did I know that that particular moment was the foreshadowing of something greater to come. Because although something so small as a date to prom seemed so minuscule in hindsight, though it seemed completely petty and absurd to get so bent out of shape about a high school dance, I knew that deep down inside, it was the beginning of what would eventually break me. It was the birth of the wedge that would eventually come in between the bond that Bella and I shared.

Ironically, it was the same exact wedge that eventually led me to making her my wife.



I skipped out on prom because I was lame and pouting, and it was just a stupid dance that no one really wanted to go to anyway. I skipped out on prom because Bella was with Jasper now, and I really didn't feel like spending the money to go with anyone else.

I skipped out on prom because I was an idiot--a whiny, sulky, and pathetically ridiculous idiot.

The last few weeks following Bella's acceptance to the lowlife's prom offer had been the worst few weeks of my life up to that point. Bella was no longer on speaking terms with me after I called her new boyfriend a "motherfucking asshole." I was trying to understand, truly I was, but she was the one that was willing to throw an entire lifetime of friendship away for one overly-eager male.

So there I was, hanging out alone in the meadow…our meadow… with nothing but a bottle of whiskey and a foggy sky, because obviously I had nothing better to do with my time. I had been there for quite some time, pondering all of my past fuck-ups, trying not to think about my mother's death and her tired smile behind her breaking heart, when I heard the familiar rustle of the leaves.

I sat up from my typical supine position on the ground, looking across the darkness. The soft glow of the moon barely emanated from beneath the cloud covering. Bella was walking toward me, her royal blue prom dress flowing at her sides, her long, brown hair clipped back from her face. She hesitated for a moment as her eyes met mine, deep brown and unsure, lost and scared…completely wrong and out of place. I looked back at her, studying her closely, watching her chest rise and fall with heavy, panicked breaths.

"Bee?" I asked, suddenly fearful that something had happened to her. I was on my feet in a matter of seconds, crossing the distance between us and taking her face in my hands. "What's wrong?"

I felt hot moisture hit the tips of my thumbs as they grazed across her cheeks, and that's when I noticed that she was silently sobbing. A second later, her knees gave out and her body fell into my embrace as I caught her around the waist and held her steady.

"What did he do to you?" I demanded, the instant surge of anger flooding my system, causing my adrenaline to pump and my nostrils to flare. No one would ever hurt my Bella and get away with it.

"Nothing," she mumbled, burying her face into my chest while clinging to my shirt and pulling me closer. "He did nothing."

Of course I knew it was a lie, because "nothing" would never make her cling to me so closely, as though her life depended on it.

"I don't understand." I wrapped my hands around her tiny wrists and pushed her away from me so I could look her in the eyes and search for answers.

"He wanted to…but I…so I…," she trailed off, mumbling an incoherent mess as I tried to make sense of what she was saying.

"Hey, shh, calm down."

I pushed us back and sat down on the ground again, gently pulling her down with me. She shocked me by climbing directly on my lap, wrapping her arms around my neck and burying her face in its crook. I heard her take a deep breath in and felt warm lips graze lightly against the sensitive skin an inch below my ear. My muscles tensed in response to the uncharacteristic intimacy of her actions.

"Just take a deep breath and start from the beginning," I said, trying to ignore what seemed to be happening between us, while idly running my hands through her tangled hair.

Bella smelled like vanilla and sugar that night. She smelled just the way she had tasted the first time we kissed.

"Edward," I thought I heard her murmur against my neck. "Can I ask you something?"

"Of course," I breathed into her hair, resting my cheek against the warmth of her head.

She was silent for a moment, and I was just about to speak again when I felt her shift against me. She pushed slightly away, resting her hands gently on my chest while looking up at me from beneath her lashes.

"Do you think I'm sexy?" she nearly whispered, her voice low and throaty. The question took me off guard and I found myself at a complete loss for words. I opened and closed my mouth multiple times, licking my lips and furrowing my brow.

"Excuse me?" I eventually asked, and I couldn't help it. I did the one thing I should have never…ever done, the one thing no man should ever do when posed with such an unanswerable question.

I fucking laughed.

I laughed because she was Bella. She was clumsy, awkward, nerdy, smart, weird, strange, ridiculously caring, and genuinely beautiful Bella. And though she was a lot of things, she was most definitely not sexy.

Or so I thought at the time. Because it wasn't until much later that I would see her for who she truly was, would finally come to appreciate the alluring curves of her milky thighs and the sensual nature of her delicate breath on my skin.

You never appreciate what you have until it's gone.

That phrase apparently applied to me.

My laughter was short-lived as I watched her innocent face crumble, her wide-open heart visibly breaking in the air between us.

"I'm sorry," I said, coming to the harsh realization that her question wasn't a joke. "You're completely serious?"

She blinked and crossed her arms, giving me my answer.

"C'mon, Bee, it's me you're talking to here…it's us," I continued, trying to explain my actions after she didn't respond. "How can I possibly…I mean, you can't possibly expect me to answer that."

"God, Edward," she huffed, pushing out of my lap and stumbling to her feet. "Are you really that dense?"

"Do you want me to answer that?" I asked, quirking a brow at her as I continued to remain completely clueless as to where her irrational behavior was coming from.

"I never liked Jasper!" she suddenly yelled, as she towered over me in my sitting position on the darkened grass. "I never wanted to go to prom with him, or do anything with him! I wanted to go with you, I wanted to share it with you, I wanted to be with you!"

I was stunned as she took a breath, her tears catching the moonlight as they glided down her moistened cheeks. I was shocked to silence, but she spoke again before I even had a chance to think about anything through.

"Are you happy now?" she shouted, her voice slightly quivering. "Does it make you happy to know that there is another girl that is dying to get your attention? Huh, Edward? Does it make you happy to know that I turned Jasper down tonight because the only person I could think about was…"

She stopped then, collapsing to her knees in defeat and embarrassment. She closed her eyes and dropped her head to the ground as her last words came out a quiet whisper.

"The only person I could think about…the only person I can ever think about…is you."

To be continued…