A/N: It seems long only because the preface is added to it. As promised, a longer fiction. Reviews would be lovely. It will make me that much more eager to continue posting chapters. AU/AH. Thanks so much for reading, and Merry Christmas, or Hanukah, or whichever holiday you celebrate around this time of year =]

I'm just sitting here by my back door. My dog's leg came out of his socket and a few discs shifted early this morning. So we had to take him to the vet. Now he's home, and it's my job to watch over him and make sure he stays hydrated. I'm not going anywhere anytime soon, people. ;]

"For your poison love has stained the life blood in my heart and soul, dear."

--

RESTLESS NIGHTS:


A rose is said to be the symbol for love…

And arsenic is a poison…

What happens when the two elements mix?

Love is the best and worst thing to ever happen in one's life.

Who is strong enough to handle it?

PREFACE

"Are you crying?" His anger abruptly dissipated and he moved closer to me.

"No," I hurriedly rushed to answer.

"Why are you crying?" he wanted to know, the words pouring from his lips like melted honey. My back teeth tingled at the sweetness of it.

I ground my teeth together, rubbing my lips against each other, so much wanting to tell him; at the same time so aversive to it.

The film of my eyes cleared suddenly. I spun toward the door, tugging on the door knob. "JASPER! ALICE! OPEN THE DOOR RIGHT NOW OR I WILL BUST IT DOWN! I'M SERIOUS! OPEN IT NOW!" To add to the threat, I kicked the door, ignoring the painful throb of my toe.

A moment later, there was a click in the door and it swung open. I shoved past Alice, ignoring the sudden silence of the rest of the family's conversation. I could feel their eyes burning a hole in my back.

"Bella, wait! Hold on a second!" I heard Edward's voice behind me.

I ignored him, and in my rush to get away from him simply plucked my shoes off the floor and emerged into the night.

I was half way down the drive way when Edward caught my wrist in his grasp. "Stop." He snapped, tugging me to face him.

The only sound in the night was the chirp of the crickets as I glared into his face.

"We need to sort this out. We're meant to be… I love you."

"How can you even say that?" I demanded weakly, ignoring the heat of his skin on mine. "Get your hands off of me."

His grip loosened on my wrist, but not enough.

"Let me go." I whispered pleadingly.

His hand dropped from my wrist.

He didn't say anything, so I turned and headed across the lawn.

Only once I was seated in my car did I notice the black, blue and purple manifesto my toe was. I was pretty sure I had broken it.

--

CHAPTER ONE

I tossed in bed, unable to sleep. My eyes were drawn to the clock, and my heart pounded in panic when I saw the time. Almost three o' clock in the morning. If I didn't get to sleep now I wouldn't make it down the aisle the next day. Then I gulped as I realized how close my wedding was. Almost suffocating me. I clutched my sheets tighter in my fists, drawing them up to my nose, taking in the delicious scent of lavender, hoping it would settle my qualms.

I squeezed my eyes shut, ordering my heart to slow, for my brain to shut down, funnel only to sweet nothings, hushing a sweet lullaby in my mind—one I could fall asleep to.

My eyes popped open not a moment later, and I growled with frustration into the darkness of my bedroom. I pulled myself up into a sitting position in the bed. All around me in the huge extravagance of my bedroom, the white furniture shone eerily in the silvery moonlight washing in through my open window. The gossamer curtains fluttered in the summer breeze, and I felt it wash refreshingly over my skin.

I kicked the sheets away which had tangled about my legs and touched my bare feet to the bleached hardwood floor. I made my way across the room toward my desk where I had stacked my Mac Book, novel and diary. Also accompanied there, was my LG Voyager. I plucked it up, settling into the desk chair, shivering slightly as the coolness of the plastic made friends with the backs of my bare thighs. It'd been too hot to wear pants, so I'd opted for a pair of boxers.

I flipped the phone open to reveal the keypad and sent an urgent text message to one of my closest friends. I hoped to God that she would be awoken, because right then, I was one hundred percent sure that she would be the only one who would inevitably send me into a peaceful sleep.

Sure enough, moments later, my phone vibrated in my palms, and I flipped it open.

ANGELA: omg, Bella! U need sleep or else ull be falling asleep at the alter 2morrow!

BELLA: uh, tell me about it. Idk y I cant sleep. Im so nervous. Can I call u?

But before she sent me permission, my phone shook once again in my hands, and I saw the screen—alerting me that she was calling.

I brought the phone to my ear. "Hey. Thank God you called."

"Bella, you need sleep." Angela dictated groggily.

"Did I wake you?" I joked.

"No," she told me, tone thick with sarcasm, "I'm always up till three thirty in the morning. Especially on the eve of my best friend's wedding."

Hushed laughter escaped my lips. "Sorry, Ang. I just really needed to talk to you. Somehow, you're always able to put me to sleep."

"Oh, thanks." She replied sarcastically.

I laughed. "No problem."

"Hm, okay. How can I put you to sleep?"

She mused in silence for a moment too long and then finally spoke again. "Okay, got it. What can I remember from ninth grade Science? Um… CO2 emissions are destroying the—"

"Zzzz," I fake snored.

"Did I put you to sleep?!" she wanted to know, tone cracking up a few octaves with fake excitement.

"No," I replied, pouting.

"Darn."

I grinned. "Nice try, though."

"Have you tried counting sheep?" she suggested.

"Got to five hundred," I informed her, rising from the desk chair. I rolled it back into its place and moved back to the bed.

"Um… write in your diary?"

"Three entries."

"Drink a warm glass of milk?"

"Ew! You know I hate cold milk. Why would I like warm milk?"

Angela laughed. "Um…" she continued to think, "Did you try reading?"

"I read four chapters of The Summoning."

"Uh…meditate?"

I couldn't help the burst of laughter that escaped my lips as I lowered myself onto my back, resting my head to the pillow.

"Sing a song in your head. Practice solitaire. Tell yourself a story. Think of impossible things. Make up an imaginary friend. Tell yourself you're tired. Create a playlist. Watch a movie. Sing a lullaby in your head…"

I don't know when her voice drifted off, but with the help of Angela, my restless night faded into a peaceful dream. In the dream, I was walking along the beach with Edward. We were holding hands, and the purple phosphorescence of twilight surrounded us—encaged us in serene warmth that only we could feel. We flirted aimlessly, teasingly threatened to throw each other into the water. Then we were in the sand, and the tiny grains of it were grinding into my hair, but I didn't care. Edward was over top of me, and our lips were whispering together in synchronization, and that was all I cared about at the moment…

My alarm jolted me out of my dream at seven AM. I found myself oddly alert. I moved my phone from my pillow to my nightstand and then rose from bed, slipped on a pair of nylon short shorts, pulled my sleeping cami off and replaced it with a sports bra. Then I slicked my dark wavelets of hair into a high pony tail. I pulled open my bedroom door, taking in the hallway—bathed in the grey early morning light filtering in through the sky light.

As I tip-toed toward the stairs, I kept in mind the current slumber of the rest of my family members—that included my mom, step-father, some of my cousins, aunts, and uncles.

In the kitchen I filled my water bottle. On the front granite steps, I laced up my sneakers, stretched and then broke into a light jog down the road.

Every morning I jogged, followed by twenty-five sit-ups and ten push-ups. It was amazing what consistency could do for my waist line.

When I arrived back at the house thirty minutes later, I was surprised to find it still empty, the cavernous silence heavy with slumber.

I trekked into the kitchen and slid onto the nearest bar stool, setting my half full water bottle in front of me. The time on the stove clock read 7:34, and when I turned my head to glimpse out the window, I caught the sky turning from grey to a beautiful flushed pink.

Butterflies suddenly invaded my stomach as the reminder of the wedding entered my mind. Today. It was today. Every family member who had been invited was in town, the wedding dress was hanging in my closet. The shoes were first in line on my shoe rack, the fake finger nails set aside in the medicine cabinet. I had never done so great at keeping my nails up to date.

"Shh!" a voice hissed following a thump that could only be a foot against a piece of furniture. They were females, I could tell that much. And they weren't doing such a great job of sneaking down early.

A moment later, my cousins Jayda and Elle appeared in the kitchen doorway, completely oblivious to my appearance. They both wore bikinis, and their towels were slung over their shoulders. Elle's flaming red hair was bunched into a messy pony tail atop her head, while Jayda left her wheat colored ringlets loose around her shoulders.

They made it to the back door, leading to the outdoor pool and hot tub before I decided to call out to them. In a whisper of course.

Elle gasped loudly in fright, pressing one hand to her bare collarbone to suppress her shriek of fright. Jayda, on the other hand, froze where she stood, without turning. I could see the muscles tense in her back.

I giggled in a hushed tone. "I can't believe you're sneaking into the hot tub on an August morning. It's nearly ten degrees already and it's only 7:40 AM," I told them.

Elle was able to offer a soft smile. Her emerald eyes danced, and I found myself envying my eighteen-year-old cousin. I had always wished to have green eyes instead of brown. "Would you like to join us?"

I smiled, shaking my head in decline politely. "No thanks. I don't think I have time to lounge around today."

"Are you kidding?" Jayda asked, finally turning to face me. Her ice blue eyes darkened with doubt. She planted one hand on her voluptuous hip. "You have all the time in the world to relax today! It's your wedding!"

I felt my lips curl up at the utterance of the last sentence. I didn't know how long I had been waiting to hear those words. Ever since I'd turned fourteen, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the romance, the whirlwind, the spotlight, the loving attention that came with your wedding day. Being a writer, I'd begun to type up numerous novels about it, but I had never known enough about love to finish them.

That was where Edward, my fiancé—soon-to-be-husband—came in. We'd attempted to date the winter of grade eight, and I had no idea what had happened. I'd chickened out; the pressure of it all had been too overwhelming. Edward played basketball. He was tall, had huge hands, but was cursed with unfortunate chicken legs and very fair skin. He'd worn glasses, and his hair was parted perfectly to the tee at all times. If anyone had seen us back then, they would have been completely confused as to why we had been dating. Middle school—it's a jungle. Ask any fourteen-year-old girl. I didn't know if it had been conformation I'd caved to, or the opinions—the titters, the whispers—of the students around us that drove me to the edge. But I broke things off with him.

And it was like we'd never even dated. We went back to being best friends, and we stayed that way until I realized I hadn't gotten over him. That fact only became more obvious when he hooked up with Tanya Denali. The worst part? The girl and I were friends. They dated, and I found myself grieving over the boy, though I tried my hardest to hide it.

Between the summers of grade eight and nine, something happened. He ditched his glasses for contact lenses. His jade eyes were suddenly so much more appealing. His hair, before an annoyingly perfect part at all times, was now a slight mess. Like he'd run through the wind to get to school and hadn't bothered to fix it. He'd built some muscle on his legs, and the sun had gotten to him. He looked good, and I forced myself to admit that I was stupid for blowing him off the year before because of what other people thought.

I realized I was in love with Edward. The first guy I'd ever been in love with. But it felt like that was all I needed, that Edward was the one who'd forever fulfill me of what I needed in life.

Grade nine graduation came. He and Tanya were still going strong. Personally, I had no clue what he saw in her.

I wasn't the only one madly in love with Edward. It was like he had his own fan club. Swarms of girls swooned over him, gushed over what a sweetheart he was. And Tanya knew. She looked at Edward like she'd won first place in some kind of contest or something.

And where did that leave me? Oh, that's right, outside. In the rain. A loner, left out of an exclusive after party. Ditched.

I tried to move on. Oh, believe me, I did. Nothing worked.

Year after year, after year I tried to imagine what it would be like, to just walk up to him, grab him by the collar of his shirt, and press my lips to his. Just to see what it would be like, what it would feel like. Would tingles run from the roots of my hair to the tips of my toes? Would fireworks flash behind my eyes? Would the world come to a halt for only the split second our lips touched?

I never had the courage to do it.

Edward did it for me. Senior year, he dumped Tanya. I'd been in the library, scavenging for the last Biology text book to study for a huge test. It was like a movie. He'd tapped me on the shoulder, and I'd turned. With not even a moment to comprehend what was happening, his lips were on mine.

And that was all it took. That one silent, undying promise. And we were hooked. Consumed by each other. Tangled in some web that I always knew would come to exist.

And today? We'd be declaring that promise to witnesses from all over. Everyone would know that I'd won the prize, and that it wasn't temporary any longer. It was permanent. I'd held out for the longest time. And I'd won—in all ways possible.

The doorbell rang as I was towel-drying my hair. I threw open the washroom door, releasing a cloud of steam and rushed down the stairs to answer the door.

"Hi, Dad!" I exclaimed when I saw him standing there. I leaned up to hug him, and when I pulled back he was grinning. "How are you?" I asked as I invited him in.

"Great. But the more important question today is 'how are you'?"

I giggled. "I'm wonderful!" I punctuated the word with a spin to top it off.

Charlie grinned down at me. "I brought you breakfast," he told me, holding up a white Styrofoam box.

"Ooo, yummy!" I said, grinning. "What is it?" I wanted to know, receiving the box from him.

"An omelette and a few strips of bacon. Left-overs from breakfast at the station this morning."

I gave him a teasing, exasperated look. "Left overs?"

He laughed. I trekked into the kitchen, grabbed a fork from the drawer and dug in, leaning against one of the counters. Charlie watched me eat, and after the first bite, I made a show of telling him it tasted delicious, which it did.

"Bella!" I heard a voice say, and looked up to see Elle's younger sister enter the kitchen, platinum blond hair pulled back from her face with a turquoise hair band. She wore her pajama pants still, but on top she wore a beautiful green silk halter. In her right hand she held a small black dress with a sweetheart neck line and frills at the bottom. In her left she held a strapless rich purple dress that cinched at the waist. "Which one?" she asked, staring at me breathless. "The shirt or one of the dresses?"

I narrowed my eyes in thought. "Umm… the purple dress."

"That's what I was thinking too!" she exclaimed, face brightening with happiness. Then she bolted from the kitchen, heading back towards the stairs, calling 'thank you' over her shoulder.

"Shouldn't you be the one receiving advice today?" Charlie asked me after Blair had disappeared up the stairwell.

I shrugged, taking another bite of the omelette. "I don't mind," I told him. "Besides, they have to be ready before I do. They have to be at the club before one. I have to be there at one thirty."

"Lilly?" I then heard my mother call. "Have you seen Bella?"

"I think she's in the kitchen."

A moment later, my mother glided through the kitchen doorway, cheeks flushed, blue eyes sparkling. Her jaw grazing bob was damp and I could see the purple high lights in it. "Oh, hey, Charlie," she muttered vaguely in my father's direction as she moved closer to me.

He nodded politely.

Her warm palms rested on either side of my jaw, and she smiled into my eyes. "Nervous?" she asked.

I nodded. "A little," I admitted. And that was all I was going to admit. No one would even understand how nervous I was. It was too ginormous to comprehend.

She grinned. "It'll be perfect. I promise," she told me, leaning in to kiss me on the forehead. Then she glanced over my shoulder at the clock hanging on the wall. "Oh, where are the girls?" she fretted.

The girls were my best friends. We'd all basically known each other since the beginning of elementary. "They'll be here, Mom," I was now reassuring her. "Rose probably won't get out of bed," I giggled.

Renee tried to smile, but she didn't quite make it.

Then my aunt entered the room, holding my youngest cousin, Trevor, in her arms. He was rubbing his eyes, and his mass of curly corn silk colored hair was wild from sleep.

"Hey, Trev," I greeted him as Auntie Carrie set him on the counter. Despite just waking up, he grinned my way, waving his small, pudgy hand through the air.

Renee disappeared from the kitchen, muttering to herself over the stress of all she had to still do.

Then I turned back to my father, laughing at the awkward expression on his face. I shovelled the last of the eggs into my mouth, dumped the box into the garbage, fork into the dish washer, and then moved over to him. "I'll walk you to your car," I told him, clearly sensing his discomfort beneath the suffocating shroud of Renee's side of the family.

I padded barefoot through the foyer beside him and then followed him out into the early August morning, basking in the sunlight. As we walked I peered up at the sky. Wisps of clouds floated lazily across the azure stretch of sky, resembling the consistency of cotton candy. The sun was high in the sky and its rays soaked heavenly into my skin.

"I'll see you soon, okay?" Charlie said when we reached his car.

I nodded, smiling.

He pulled me into a hug and I took in the familiar smell of him. Leather, soap and mint aftershave. "I love you," he murmured into the top of my head, kissing me.

"Love you too," I whispered as I pulled away, suddenly choked up with emotion. Then I groaned inwardly. If I was close to tears now, just imagine how it would be later today… I watched my dad climb into his car and then pull out into the street, escaping just as the screams began.

"SLOW DOWN!" I suddenly heard a frantic shriek call over the roar of an engine. "YOU'RE GOING TO KILL US!"

"AHHH!" Another girl responded, screaming at the tops of her lungs.

I rolled my eyes. "Incoming," I muttered obscurely, not daring to take my eyes of the approaching black Suburban.

"ROSALIE!" the voice screamed. "YOU'RE GOING TO RUN HER OVER!"

For a moment, I was almost positive she was going to, but then the SUV squealed loudly to a stop at the curb. Angela stumbled from the back of the vehicle, leaning over to press her palms to her knees. A curtain of dark hair fell over her blanched face. Rose stepped proudly from the driver's seat, oversized, blue lens tinted sunglasses almost weighing down her face. Her lips were carved into a huge smile.

From the passenger seat, Alice slipped onto the pavement.

"Hiii!" Rose called, leaping over to wrap her arms around me.

I flailed my arms, thinking about wrapping them back around her, but it was sort of difficult when they were pinned to my sides.

"Helllp," I muttered instead to Alice who stood aside, smirking.

She giggled and stepped closer. "Rose, let go of her before she asphyxiates on your disgusting perfume."

"I thought you smelled different," I told Rosalie when she stepped back, "but then I just thought it was because you showered for once."

Rosalie rolled her eyes, swatting me playfully on the arm. "Shut up."

I grinned, turning to Alice. "Holy crap!" I cried when I literally came eye to eye with her. Then I glanced down at her feet and sighed with relief. She wore platforms. "Phew!" I sighed, dramatically swiping the back of my hand across my brow.

Alice pursed her lips, eyes filling with defensive fire. She raised her hand, ready to swat.

I backed away, bringing my hands up to shield my face. "Not today!" I begged.

Angela and Rosalie began to giggle.

Alice lowered her hand mercifully. "Oookay," she amended, "just because it's your wedding."

I grinned. Then I looked around. "Hey, where's Lauren?"

I saw Alice roll her eyes, and Angela begin to giggle again.

Right on cue, there was a splash and then a couple of girlish shrieks from the back yard.

Rosalie, Alice and Angela burst out laughing and I suspected Lauren had just fallen into the pool.

A moment later, my suspicions were confirmed when the gate opened, and Lauren stepped toward us, soaking wet. Droplets of water splashed to the concrete and she was scowling fiercely.

"That's what you get," Alice told her, shrugging.

"When you let your heart win!" I added.

After a rendezvous off-key rendition of "That's What You Get" by Paramore, we were serious once again.

Then I laughed and approached Lauren. "Why were you in my back yard anyway?" I asked her, flicking a water logged piece of hair from her face.

"I wanted to be a ninja," she admitted pouting.

Laughter escaped through my lips. "Well, obviously it didn't work."

She cracked a smile. "I thought I had it when I got to the top of your castle-like stone wall,"

"It's not that tall," I argued.

Lauren shrugged. "When I got to the top, it was too late to turn back. Boy was I in for a surprise."

I snickered. "Awe, poor Lauren," I moped, wrapping my arms sincerely about her body.

"Bella!" I heard Renee call from the porch then, waving the phone. The sunlight glinted off of it. "Rachel's on the phone!"

"Rache?" I muttered in confusion. She was supposed to land here at ten this morning. It was barely eight o' clock… I stumbled up the walk, taking the phone from her. I lowered myself to the bottom step, only then realizing that the concrete was burning the soles of my feet.

"Hello?"

"Bells? Hi. It's Rachel."

"Hey! Why are you calling me? It's only eight."

"Nine here, actually," she corrected me. I could clearly hear the bustle of the air port in the background.

I smiled slightly. "Shouldn't you be on your plane?"

"Um, it kind of got delayed," she admitted.

"Oh no!" I groaned.

"What?" Rosalie mouthed, coming up the walk, Lauren, Alice and Angela trailing right behind her.
I waved at her dismissively. "How long?" I asked Rachel.

"An hour. But it's fine. I should make it there by eleven thirty. Twelve at the latest."

I felt my nose crinkle in discomfort. She would be so tired, and she'd have to rush through getting ready and then get to my wedding. "Ugh, well that sucks."

I could practically see Rache's soft smile through the telephone wires, cerulean eyes sparkling. "Yeah, well. Nothing's perfect," she reminded me.

"Right you are," I agreed. "Well, call me when you land, okay?"

"I promise."

"See you soon," I told her, and then hung up.

"What was that about?" Angela asked as I stood.

"Rachel's flight got delayed. But she's only gonna be about an hour late," I assured them as I led them back into the house. When we stepped through the front door it was as if every single one of my family members from Renee's side had been dropped in through the roof. The foyer was crowded, people were taking up nearly every seat in the dining room and kitchen, and children had been sent into the sitting room to play quietly while mothers got ready and helped my mom make breakfast for at least twenty people.

"Oh my God," Lauren gasped.

"Quick, troupes," I hissed playfully, taking Angela's hand. When I dragged her toward the stairs, the others followed. "We need to make our escape now! Stat! Before they see you!" I urged, ushering them past me, up the stairs.

When we reached my bedroom, I slammed the door behind me, leaning against it.

"Who's ready to partay?!" Rosalie suddenly called from my glass bookshelf. She plugged her iPod into my dock, and "Somebody's Watching Me" by Rockwell blasted through the bedroom, drowning out the drone of family affairs on the first floor.

This was what I had been missing most about my friends. The fact that I could be silly with them. That I could have my window wide open, risking people seeing me and not even care. To leap around like an infatuated teenager on my bed, ruffling the covers.

To act like freaks, and love every freaking moment of it.