Stephenie Meyer owns any Twilight characters and Twilight plot lines that may appear in my stories. The remainder is my original work. Copyright 2008 and 2009 by SavageWoman. No copying or reproduction of these works is permitted without my express written authorization.

A/N: I don't usually put an author's note at the top of my chapters, but I felt that it was necessary for this story. The inspiration for this tale initially came from a short story I read a long time ago. Unfortunately, I can't remember where I found it or who wrote it.

The rest of the inspiration came from my own life. Therefore, much of what you will read in this story actually did happen to me. Nothing in this story mirrors my own life because, let's face it, I'm not Bella. However, the things that were said along with the cruel intent were there, I just molded my experiences into a story about Bella and Edward. So if you read something and think… 'No way! I can't believe someone would say that…' Believe it.

I went to school in a very small town with a lot of small-minded people. Forks is a virtual metropolis in comparison. Did I have my own personal Edward? Sadly, no. But, I did have a group of friends that came into my life around the time I hit high school and they saved me. I went from thinking I was an ugly duckling and having no friends to cheerleader, prom queen and having more friends than I knew what to do with. I've seen both sides of the fence. (I have the feeling this story is going to be VERY therapeutic for me. Haha!)

So, if you have any questions or want to hear the real story behind the scenes, please feel free to pm me.

And now – on with the show!


Chapter One

Step on a crack break your mother's back. Ugh! This backpack is so heavy I'm going to break my own back. No matter… soon none of this would be important. It was Friday and I sighed in relief at the end of another horrible week of school. I wonder if any of this will matter when…

"Hey Swan!" The sound of Jacob Black's voice sent a small shudder of fear through me causing my breathing to hitch as I tried to pick up the pace of my walking and praying that I wouldn't trip.

Keep your head down, Bella – no eye contact. Please, is it too much to ask? Just not today of all days. Please make them leave me alone. Just this once. I pleaded in my head, hoping that if there was a God in heaven, he would finally see to it to grant me one final wish before Jacob and his crew caught up with me. I swear they were trying to kill me.

"Jakey, she's too ugly to be called a swan," Lauren sneered from somewhere behind me. Just three more blocks. Three more blocks and I'm home. I chanted in my head.

"Yeah, she is kind of beastly. That's it! I think I'll call you Beastly Bella," laughed Jacob, the others snickering at the new nickname that was sure to be the rage come Monday morning at school. It would probably morph into Bella Beast or The Beast. Oh how I hated my life. I wondered if anyone would feel bad for me especially after…

"Oh! I've got one," squealed Jessica. I could hear her clapping her hands together in excitement as they gained on me. "Let's call her Bella Grossa!" She was always telling me how gross and disgusting I was.

I was skinny. My mom called me a late bloomer, but I was constantly reminded that I had just started to develop, unlike the other girls who were light years ahead of me. I had limp brown hair, pasty white skin, and braces. I was ugly and Jessica Stanley always reminded me of it every day.

"Good one, Jess." I groaned internally when I heard Mike's voice. The four of them had tormented me all through grade school and junior high. But this year, ninth grade, was by far the worst. They were relentless in their efforts to beat me down.

The Ferocious Foursome were almost at my side as I tried to out walk them, but all my books were weighing me down. Why couldn't my parents let me go to school in Port Angeles, or better yet, just move away from here? I never fit in here. I was never accepted.

Out of nowhere, I felt a sharp shove from behind, pitching me forward and sprawling me onto the sidewalk. My backpack flew forward off my shoulder, ripping some of my hair out as it snagged on the buckle. My books scattered everywhere as they tore through the zipper of my backpack, breaking it. I found myself on my hands and knees with the wind slightly knocked out of me. I sat back on my heels and remained frozen where I was, getting ready for the verbal onslaught that always followed their attacks.

"Aw! Did Beastly Bella fall down and go boom?" Jacob's voice was condescending as he mocked me in a baby voice.

I kept my head down and face hidden behind a curtain of brown hair as he howled with laughter, the others following with their own snickers and snorts. They kicked my things around as they walked past me, sending some of my books out into the street. My hands started to burn after making contact with the grey, worn sidewalk.

"You suck!" Jessica giggled slapping the back of my head with her backpack as she passed.

"Maggot mouth!" Lauren's voice was as ugly as the sneer she usually sported when she insulted me. I didn't need to see it to know it was present.

Mike picked up my pencil box and proceeded to dump the contents of pencils, erasers and other debris onto my head. I flinched slightly when the emptied box came in contact with my head.

I fought hard to keep the tears at bay feeling that familiar sting as my eyes started to water. I would not let them see me cry. I steeled myself against their taunting and their laughter. I was always the butt of their jokes, but lately they were being particularly ruthless in their efforts to humiliate me. I felt worthless, but I pretty much felt that way all the time now. Most of the time I walked around numb to any good feelings because it was too painful to let myself hope that life would get any better.

Just a few more blocks and then it will all be over. I'll be home. I repeated like a mantra in my head as I waited patiently on the sidewalk, unmoving until I was sure they were finished with me and on their way.

As their voices started to fade, I sighed and started to survey the damage. The heels of both my hands were scraped and bleeding. As I slowly sat back onto my rear, I could feel the denim of my jeans sticking to my knees, telling me they were bloodied as well. I shook my head - another pair of jeans ruined by the big hole gaping back at me. I could see the blood starting to run down my shin. Renee is going to kill me.

My parents were under the misconception that I was exceptionally clumsy. That could not be further from the truth. I just haven't had the courage to tell them that all the holes I've been acquiring in my pants were not from my clumsiness, but from Jacob and his cronies' constant attempts to humiliate me. It wouldn't do me any good to tell them anyway. It is not as if I hadn't tried in the past. It just never did any good, so I stopped telling them. Besides, they couldn't do anything about it without making things ten times worse for me.

The perfect example of that was when Principal Morris intervened on my behalf in the sixth grade, calling in the parents of my tormentors. He told them he would rather see their children expelled before he would allow them to destroy me – Isabella Swan. If I thought it was bad before, it only got worse after that. They were just more subtle until elementary school was finished; once we hit junior high and were out of the watchful eye of Principal Morris, the tormenting picked up again.

I started to gather a few of the things immediately around me and shoved them back in my broken backpack when I heard footsteps fast approaching me. I cringed in anticipation of another attack.

"Hey! Are you okay?" A velvety voice startled me.

I peeked up through my hair, unsure if the softness in the voice was sincere or a trick to lure me in for another cruel joke. I came face to face with a cute boy, about my age with green eyes, bronze messy hair, and a mouth full of braces like mine.

I nodded my head, too stunned to speak. The boy placed his hand gently on my shoulder and I felt a sense of comfort and acceptance. It was so foreign to me that my body surged with a shock. That simple act of kindness caused my eyes to well up with tears again, full force this time. I quickly ducked my head so my hair obscured my face from his view. I fought valiantly but failed as the tears slid silently down my cheeks.

"Here, let me help you with that." He started to gather up my scattered belongings.

"Those guys are a bunch of creeps. I saw what they did. I'm sorry I couldn't get here fast enough to help you. Don't let them get to you." Why was he being so nice to me? Didn't he know that being my friend meant social death? His funeral I guess. It didn't much matter anymore.

"Wow, you sure do have a lot of books." I shrugged in response as I slowly resumed picking up the things that were within reach and quietly put them in my backpack. As soon as he had everything stacked neatly in a pile, he held out a hand to me. I looked at him in confusion. What did he want? Payment?

"Here, let me help you up," he said with a smile.

"I can do it," I grumbled, still not willing to trust him yet and more than a little embarrassed to have a witness to my humiliation.

"Please. You're hurt and it's going to be hard for you to get up without having to kneel on your knees or use you hands." I realized he was right. It would be hard to get up without aggravating my already injured knees and hands. I eyed him warily.

"I don't bite. Scouts honor," he said with a smile and a little salute. I saw nothing but honest kindness on his face. Something in that look told me he was being sincere.

"Oh… um… well, okay," I stammered in shock. No one, not one of my classmates, had ever shown me this much kindness before. I wiped the blood on my hands onto my jeans not wanting to get his hands dirty. I hesitantly placed my hand in his, still half expecting him to turn on me. His hand was soft, gentle, and a little unsteady as he hoisted me up into a standing position.

"I'm Edward Cullen. What's your name?" I glanced up at him, still wary of his intentions. He was a few inches taller than me and his skin was paler than mine, if that were possible. But what caught me by surprise was the crooked smile he flashed when my eyes met his.

"Um… Bella… Swan," I mumbled, looking back down at my feet, certain that once he learned my name he would realize his mistake and take his kindness back.

"Well, um Bella. It's nice to meet you." I had to sneak another peek at him to be sure he wasn't mocking me. The look in his eyes told me his statement was genuine, and I found myself gaping at him in disbelief.

"Can I help you carry these books home?" Edward quickly picked up the stack of books and papers as I adjusted my useless backpack to keep it from spilling its remaining contents.

"You don't have to, you know." I didn't want him to feel obligated to help me. Besides, what if he was one of those boys who acted nice, but the next day would make fun of you in school or talk about you behind your back.

"It's okay. Besides, you're hurt. From what I can see, your knee is more than just scraped and your hands must be sore. Do you live far from here?" he prodded, clearly intent on helping me home.

"About two blocks away." I still wasn't sure what to make of him, but I guess it wouldn't hurt if I let him carry my books home. I guess the worst he could do is egg my house later or toilet paper it – the usual crap. And even that was a rare occurrence. Nobody dared do anything more than that to the police chief's house.

As we walked in silence – well he walked, I more or less limped – my mind raced. What did he want? And why does he care? There had to be an ulterior motive here, because people in this town did not care about Bella Swan.

In no time at all, we found ourselves standing on the front porch of my small, yellow, two-story house. I managed to find my key in my tattered backpack – at least it wasn't lost in the fray.

"Um… Thanks, Edward," I mumbled.

"Anytime." Edward gave me a nervous smile as he ran his hand through his unruly hair almost dropping my books in the process. "Would you… um maybe… like to… um… hang out this weekend… with me?" His voice squeaked a little too high; something I noticed that happened a lot lately with the other boys his age.

I gaped at him in confusion. What on God's green earth would possess him to want to hang out with me? Was he mental? Nobody had ever said those words to me, ever. And yet, here was a boy, no a cute boy, asking me if I wanted to hang out with him. I almost thought I smelled a rat, not sure if I could trust him yet. But everything he had done, his kindness, his concern, it all seem so heartfelt. Could I trust this bronze-haired boy?

Apparently, I took too long to answer him because his expression fell and he started to stammer. This brought me out of my insecure ramblings as I listened to what he was staying.

"My sister and brother will be there too, you know. And well… we just moved here from a-a-Alaska and we don't know very many people yet. I just thought that… um, well right. I guess you don't…" Edward started to look uncomfortable and I felt sorry for him.

"Okay," I said softly, stopping his rant. What did I just say?

"Really?" His voice cracked and he sounded hopeful. I met his eyes with my own and saw a huge grin spread across his face making me feel warm inside. I smiled shyly back.

Maybe it would be nice to have a friend, even if it only lasts until Monday when we return to school and he figures out that no one wants to be my friend. I can put off my plans for another week.

I took a deep breath. "Yeah, um… sounds like fun?" My voice was unsure, but held all the hope I was feeling. Silently praying that if even for a brief moment, I might be able to feel what it was like to have a friend for once in my life.

"Cool. Well, then. I guess I'll see you tomorrow. Oh, you probably don't know where I live." Edward started to look for a place to set down the mountain of books he was carrying.

"Um… here, let me just, um…" I quickly unlocked the front door to my house and held the door open for him, motioning him inside. "Ah… Why don't you put those down here," I said pointing at the kitchen table. Edward set the books down with a thump. The teetering tower of books fell over, scattering over the table causing Edward to scramble as he tried to keep them from falling all over the floor.

"Ugh! Sorry about that." His cheeks flushed pink as he tried to straighten the mess of books skidding about the table.

I tried to suppress a little smile at his flustered state, but he caught my expression and smiled shyly back at me. Now it was my turn to blush and I ducked my head.

There was an uncomfortable pause before I remembered why I had let this nice boy into my house. I walked over to the table and set down what was left of my backpack and rummaged through it for a scrap of paper and something to write with. I scrounged up an old advanced algebra test and stubby pencil and handed it to Edward.

"Here, why don't you write it down on the back of this?" Edward took my offering and glanced at my test.

"Wow! Are you sure you want me to write on this? You got like a one hundred percent." He sounded impressed.

I just shrugged, wondering what the big deal was. I always got good grades – straight A's in fact. One of the side effects of having no friends, I guess.

He returned my shrug with one of his own and quickly wrote down his address and phone number. He left the paper on the table when he was finished and looked at me, running his hand through his hair. He seemed to do that a lot.

"Okay then. I guess I'll be going now," Edward said, sounding nervous again as he started to inch toward the door. "Um… why don't you… c-c-come by around… um, let's say noon?"

"I'll ask my mom if it's okay. Um… what are we going to do?" I had no idea what it meant to 'hang-out' with friends.

"I was thinking maybe we can play some video games." He looked at me hesitantly before he blurted out rather loudly, "Or watch a movie. Oh! And my mom will make us pizza. She makes the best pizza in the whole world." He sounded excited about our plans for tomorrow and I suddenly felt my own excitement start to grow, just a little.

"Sounds like… fun." I could hear the hope in my voice and a smile broke out on my face.

Edward blinked a few times before returning my smile. As he opened the door to leave he said, "I guess I'll see you tomorrow then." He started to leave when I realized I had forgotten to thank him, really thank him, for his kindness. Even if he did end up taking it back later, I still appreciated it at this moment.

"Edward?" I reached out my hand and touched him on his arm to stop him from leaving.

"Yes?" He turned and looked at me. I blushed at the intensity of his gaze.

"Thank-you for, well, you know." I looked down and toed the threshold with my foot, embarrassed, but incredibly grateful. I felt his hand under my chin forcing me to look into his green eyes.

"You're welcome, Bella," Edward said softly, his eyes shining with kindness.

A/N: What is the worst thing a bully ever did to you? I love to hear from you - so push that lovely green button and let me know your thoughts! - SavageWoman