Penname(s): beegurl13 and BittenBee

Title: The Forbidden Key

Vamp or Human: Human

Summary: Will two friends, a table full of drinks, a Christmas tree trimmed with key chains, and a secret crush be able to unlock a hidden passion? An O/S for the Who's Under Your Tree contest, written by beegurl13 & BittenBee. A/E Rated M

To see other entries in the Who's Under Your Tree contest, go to http://www (.) fanfiction (.) net/~whosunderyourtree

Disclaimer: We don't own these characters, Stephenie Meyer does. What we do own is two very buzz-worthy user names.

A/N: Thanks to our bee-utiful beta – VivaViva9 for being honest and giving.

And an A/N within an A/N: Thanks to my BittenBee for doing this with me. It was amazing and incredible and I can't wait to do it with you again someday. :D

Beegurl13 writes Alice and BittenBee writes Edward. Enjoy!

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- Alice -

Another party, another set up. I knew Rosalie meant well, but how many losers would she put me through? All of her friends seemed to be happily paired off except for me, and her compulsive nature to set me up had become tedious over the years. As I scanned the room waiting for the flavor of the week to make his appearance, I briefly flashed back over my life and every cringe-worthy date, wondering what I had done to get me to this point.

Though the Christmas party was in full swing, twinkling laughter resonating clearly throughout the room, I was still lonely. I sipped my peppermint martini and tried to relax, wondering when my best friend Edward would finally get here. His wife Bella had told me, as we helped Rosalie with party preparations, that he would be late.

While we set out vegetable trays and platters of cupcakes, Bella mentioned that he was supposed to be getting their Christmas tree, which he had apparently managed to forget everyday for two weeks. I snickered to myself, sure that it was more likely the possibility of the tree scratching the paint on his car, rather than his forgetfulness that kept him from buying the thing. I found Bella's frustration with him amusing, and if they were in one of their argumentative moods this evening, hopefully he'd be spending time with me, thereby saving me from whatever bore Rose was sending my way.

Emmett and Rosalie were known for their extravagant parties, and for the alcohol that flowed freely. Rose always tried to have some type of specialty holiday drink, and I was currently enjoying my second glass of this year's choice. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a man walk through the front door and instantly, his eyes met mine, his expression spreading into the most heartbreaking smile I'd ever seen. Well, if I was being honest, the second-most heartbreaking smile. The first one would always belong to Edward.

I lowered my glance after offering him a grin of my own, and looked towards the Christmas tree. In true Rosalie style, it was beautiful. There were thousands of lights adorning the twelve-foot tree and hundreds of sparkling ornaments generously sprinkled throughout the branches. The perfectly wrapped presents underneath were a variety of shapes and sizes, though I knew that they were just empty boxes to reinforce the grandeur.

I picked up a chocolate mint cookie that I had snagged from a dessert tray and nibbled at it, trying to look busy as no other than Mike Newton from Bristow Architecture approached me. He was Bella and Rose's boss, who she had fixed me up with months ago. He was nice, but a little too handsy for my taste. Edward always complained about how much Mike flirted with Bella and how she did nothing to discourage him. I had been front and center for their last fight on that subject, and while I enjoyed the bickering immensely, I hated seeing Edward so upset. Why Bella couldn't just tell Mike to back off was beyond me, but my opinion was that she liked the attention. I knew she loved Edward and would never threaten their life together, but I sometimes wondered about her self-esteem.

"Hey, Alice, how's it going?" Mike greeted as he sidled up next to me.

"Hello, Mike, I'm good, and how are you tonight? Having fun?" I asked, faking interest in his reply.

"Well, there are a few new ladies that I've already talked to, but then I saw you over here all alone and couldn't stay away. You look gorgeous tonight, as always."

I smiled a little to show my appreciation for his compliments. "Thanks Mike, I'm glad you're enjoying yourself. I don't want to keep you from the ladies, though and I'd hate to have them think we're together." His smile faltered and I quickly continued, "Because then they would be disappointed to miss out on their chance, that's all."

His pearly white teeth shown brightly in a smile and he nodded his head in agreement. "Well, there's enough Mike to go around, don't you worry about that." I squirmed as he moved to wrap his arm around my shoulder and leaned in, whispering in my ear, "My keys are the set with the Mariners key chain."

I closed my eyes and sighed, Rosalie's game. I pursed my lips together and nodded slightly to him, hoping he would take the hint and move along. I was relieved when he did, though slightly horrified when I felt his hand snake down my back and squeeze my left butt cheek. As I watched him walk away with narrowed eyes, I fought the impulse to throw up, also wondering what cleaning products I had at home to get the touch of him off me.

I grabbed my glass and slammed back the rest of my martini before heading back to the bar for another refill. As I waited for the very attractive—and apparently very single—bartender to mix my drink, I heard Rosalie calling my name. I knew that tone… Ah, this drink was not a moment too soon. I turned to see her approaching with the beautiful man I had seen enter the house earlier, her hand clasped tightly onto his rather well toned bicep. I straightened my shoulders and held my head up a bit higher; my night was looking up. I felt myself responding in a pleasant, unexpected way and hoped that this amazing creature would restore my faith in Rosalie's discerning eye (or lack of).

"Alice! There you are, I've been looking for you," Rosalie exclaimed as she crossed the room towards me. The man next to her looked embarrassed by her exuberance, but he had a bashful smile across his face that matched the one quickly growing on mine.

She stopped next to me and thrust the man in front, presenting him like a rack of meat. So much for personal space. "This is Jasper, my brother. He's visiting for Christmas, but his work is transferring him here soon. He's been wanting to meet you."

Jasper turned about seven shades of red as he leaned into her, whispering angrily, "Rose, knock it off!" She just laughed and flung her golden hair over her shoulder as he glanced at the door, probably planning his escape. I knew that Rosalie could be a little overbearing so I quickly spoke up.

"So, you're her brother, huh? I'm so glad to finally meet you. Rose told me a lot about you, I couldn't wait for tonight," I said, knowing full well it was a lie. Rose might have mentioned at one time or another that she had a brother, but I didn't know she would be setting me up with him. Not only was he good looking, but he seemed decent and interesting. I was actually beginning to feel a little annoyed with her for keeping him a secret so long. I saw him relax at my words, our eyes meeting.

Now that I was so close to him, and over the initial shock of our introduction, I could see the little gold flecks that stood out in his baby blue eyes. His long dark eyelashes reminded me of Edward's, but the light, openness I saw in them was so different, so captivating. I felt my breath quicken, not knowing what else to say, but unable to turn away from him either.

Rosalie glowed with satisfaction, "Well, it seems my work is done here. I'm going to go check on Emmett, I do like being on top of him," she said with a wink and leaned in to whisper, "if you know what I mean…" Her laughter quickly rang out and she sauntered off towards the kitchen.

"Oh hell…" Jasper edged closer to me, narrowing his eyes and shaking his head. "Did my sister just allude to what I think she was alluding to? 'Cause that's something no brother ever wants to hear." We both broke out into laughter.

"So, I'm Alice and you're Jasper. Okay, um, I gotta admit…I lied," I said, hoping to avoid being asked what Rose had told me about this man I was dying to get to know. His brow furrowed a bit so I quickly continued, "Rose didn't tell me about you. I hope you're not mad, it just seemed like you were about to bail on me and I didn't want you to." I lowered my eyes, letting them focus on my drink, and hoped that he wouldn't be upset.

"Oh, so you didn't know anything about me before tonight?" he gently asked. I pushed my teeth into my bottom lip as I shook my head, indicating that I didn't. Glancing up guiltily at him, he slowly nodded his head, "But are you glad that I'm here?"

I fully looked into his face, finding myself soon lost in the kindness of his eyes. "Yeah, I'm glad," I mumbled, "and I mean it. I'm not lying about that."

He began to laugh, "I should trust you why exactly? I mean, the first sentence you spoke to me was a lie." My heart fluttered for a moment before catching the teasing tone to his words. He was joking with me, and I liked it. I let a nervous laugh bubble out of my chest, happy that Rose had finally gotten the whole matchmaker thing right. I was intrigued by him and our conversation flowed easily over the next hour.

We sat laughing and talking, shocked at how much we had in common. He was exactly the type of guy I had been looking for and I was surprised that he actually seemed to like me, too. He had been focused on me the whole time, not once letting his attention linger to another girl passing by.

In the past, it always seemed like I got stuck with losers, or they were intimidated with Edward constantly being around me. The nice guys usually assumed Edward and I were together by how comfortably in tune we were with each other, and therefore, were too timid to stick around.

Edward and I met in the fifth grade. I was new to the little town we grew up in and much smaller than all the other girls. A few of them tried to pick on me one day and Edward stepped in to defend me, unaware that I was more than capable of taking care of myself. We struck up a fast friendship and had been inseparable ever since. He acted as my protector until our teen years when girls started noticing him. I was such a tomboy that I never posed a romantic threat to any of them, though my right hook wasn't something to be overlooked. I had thrown it at a few skanks in school who got bitchy toward him, but Edward always thought it was amusing, even impressed by my abilities as he held me back.

Bella was the first girl he ever met that I silently approved of, even if it saddened me to watch him kiss her and hold her hand. Once I saw how in love they were, I knew we were never meant to be together. Our friendship was stronger than most, and we were close, but that spark had never ignited because he didn't see me that way. Even though I was a grown woman now, in his eyes I would forever be 'little Alice Brandon, tomboy and best friend.' Part of me had always wished he saw me differently, just to see if things could have worked out… I dismissed the thoughts from my mind, bringing my focus back to Jasper's rich laughter.

"So when I move here, I'd love to see you. Are you dating anyone right now?" he asked, ducking his head slightly with a sweet smile.

My heart swelled at the thought of seeing him again. "No, I'm not seeing anyone and I'd love to see you, too, Jasper, I really would," I told him.

He asked if I'd like another drink and I nodded gratefully in response. He was up and out of his seat in no time and I giggled to myself as I ogled appreciatively at the way his jeans perfectly hugged the curve of his butt. Jasper was great and I hadn't felt this good in months.

I glanced around the room, having been completely unaware of the rest of the party while Jasper and I talked, and saw Edward standing alone near a table in the entry way. My smile brightened and I burst forth from my seat, rushing over to him. I was so excited to see him finally, and wanted to introduce them.

As I neared Edward, I noticed the brooding expression on his face and the fact that his hands were raking through his hair. He was upset.

"Edward," I called out cautiously as I approached him. "What are you doing? Where have you been? I've been waiting for you to get here." He just looked at me and took his hand out of his hair, lowering it and sliding it into his pants pocket. I reached out and took a hold of his forearm. "Hey, what's wrong?" I questioned, concerned about what was making him behave this way.

"It's nothing, I just had to stop and get our Christmas tree. Bella's been on my back about it forever. She just can't seem to let it drop," he replied with irritation.

"Well, people do like to have trees for Christmas, Edward. I don't think it's an unreasonable request," I laughed, gently shaking his arm in an effort to lighten his mood a bit.

"Yeah, I know, but why does she want a real one? I could just go buy her a fake one that comes in a box. Then we could use it over and over again. They even have ones that come with the lights already on them!" I laughed at his reasoning and shook my head.

"Yeah, shockingly enough I have seen those. I actually saw one this morning in my living room. Remember the one you helped me pick out last year?"

He smiled at me and shook his head, no doubt remembering our day-after-Christmas sale expedition. I knew the tree I wanted for half price, so I made him drive me to three different stores before we finally found one. We put it up in my living room that afternoon and I decorated it for every holiday until the Fourth of July, when I realized that a pine tree in my living room just didn't go with the bikini I was wearing.

He sighed, "I wish she would have just gone and picked one out and had it delivered. Plus she knows I hate going to those lots. They have teenaged kids working there and they could care less about your car. I mean hell, I had to strap the stupid thing onto the Volvo myself today after one of those boys almost scratched the paint on my baby."

And there it was, the true reason he hadn't bought a tree. I had guessed correctly that he was worried about scratching the paint on his car.

"Bella told me she was upset with you while we were helping Rose set up earlier."

He nodded and reached his hand up to rub the back of his neck. I knew it was a nervous habit he had, but every time he did it, I just ached to replace his hand with mine and run my fingers through his thick, bronze hair.

He cast his eyes around the room, "Where is she? Have you seen her? I should probably tell her I'm here."

I looked around in search for her. I hadn't seen Bella since before I started talking to Jasper, which had been at least an hour before. Jasper… I wondered where he was. I turned back to Edward as his whole demeanor suddenly changed and I saw a fierce rage begin to burn in his eyes. I heard him curse under his breath, then my eyes followed his stare and I froze.

On a sofa in an adjoining room sat Bella and Mike, looking very cozy together.

"How long has she been sitting with him?" Edward seethed.

"I don't know, Edward, but it couldn't have been that long. Mike's been making the rounds tonight and I just saw Bella helping Rosalie. I'm sure it's only been a few minutes." I didn't know for sure, but my heart was breaking at his reaction to seeing her laugh at Mike and the crude jokes I was about ninety-five percent sure he was telling.

I needed to do something. My hand remained on his forearm and I started to rub lightly in an effort to calm him down. "Listen, let's go sit down and get you something to drink, I think you could use it."

He nodded and sighed in defeat, letting me gently lead him. Mike's blatant flirting was nothing new for him to witness, but I could tell he was more bothered by it tonight and could use something to relax.

As I turned to walk back toward the table I had been sitting at, my body hummed with satisfaction when I felt him place his hand upon the small of my back, guiding me forward. Electric pulses shot through me and I felt truly alive for the first time in ages. He had no idea that the simple gesture had such a strong affect on me. I shifted closer to him as we walked, letting the scent of his cologne wash over me. It was a heavenly fragrance mixed with the smell of pine from the tree lot and the natural masculine smell of Edward. It made my girlie parts tingle and I fought off the fantasy of spinning around and pushing him up against a wall, letting my hands glide over his body while my hips pressed into his, my lips reaching up to lightly suck on… It was brief but it knocked the breath from my lungs.

No Alice, stop. This isn't happening. It's Edward, for goodness sake, just stop.

I collected myself by the time we got to Jasper, sitting at the table with a drink for me in front of my chair. His eyes were on Edward and the smile he so easily shared with me earlier was gone. I figured I had some explaining to do if I wanted him to stick around. We approached the table and Edward grabbed another chair, pulling it next to mine.

"Jasper, this is my best friend Edward. His wife is Bella, the other friend of Rose's that was helping her set up the party tonight." I saw his face relax, apparently relieved that Edward was not a threat to him.

"Hey, Edward, nice to meet you," Jasper courteously said, holding his hand out across the table for Edward to shake.

"Nice to meet you, too, Jasper. You're getting to know my Ali here?" Edward asked with that 'big brother' tone in his voice.

Jasper laughed, "Oh, your Ali? I didn't realize she was taken, sorry to intrude."

I playfully slapped Edward across the chest. "You idiot! How many times do I have to tell you, you're not my big brother! You have no claim on me, boy!"

We all laughed for a bit until Edward started drumming his hands on the table. His expression turned half-interested from our conversation, his face drawn when he looked toward Bella. Finally, he excused himself to get a drink. He looked so sad…

Jasper sighed ruefully, "I think I'll let you hang with your friend, he looks a little down or something,"

"Oh no, you don't have to go, Jasper. I'd love it if you would stay," I assured.

"Well, Rose asked me to help her with some stuff anyway, so I'll come back in a bit. I don't want to miss that key game she came up with," Jasper joked with a wink.

I laughed at the "get to know you" game idea Rose had for the evening, though part of me was a little excited to see what really happened and how people handled it afterwards. I giggled, "Yeah, me neither. I hope I get some really cool guy to go with the awesome keychain I'm gonna pick." I stared into his eyes suggestively, realizing that I was shamelessly flirting now. How many drinks did I have tonight?

"Oh yeah? You already have a set of keys in mind and staking out the tree, huh?" he teased.

I smiled. "Well, a man's keychain says a lot about him, about what he's really like, what's important to him. For instance, a person with a bottle opener on their keychain is probably someone to avoid. If they need to open a beer bottle no matter where they are, they might be a bit too much of a drinker for me."

"Hmm… that makes sense. And I would guess a man with any kind of glitter or sparkle on his keychain is probably too girlie for you, right?" He was teasing me bad, and I loved it.

"Yes, that's just common sense. Real men don't sparkle, Jasper," I deadpanned.

He threw his head back, laughing loudly. "Okay, I'll keep that in mind. Just to keep you on edge, I'm not gonna tell which keys are mine. We'll just see what happens."

"Come on, if you want to spend the evening with me… alone," I balked, batting my eyelashes as I scooted closer, angling my lips towards his ear and whispered, "I'm gonna need a little hint. You want me to pick your keys, don't you?"

He gasped and I smiled at my ability to fluster him so easily. He let out a long, deep breath before pulling away from me. Standing fully, he said, "If it's right, you'll know which one's mine." The intensity of his eyes as they connected with mine for those few moments was almost enough to knock me off of my chair. I would have promised myself to him if Edward hadn't walked up at that very moment, breaking my stare. Jasper gave me one last smile before turning to leave.

I turned to look at Edward, finally noticing the assortment of drinks he had brought to our table. "Who on earth are all of these for? Is the bar relocating or something?" I liked to drink, though I never wanted to look like the drunken slut's that had followed Edward around the bars during our college years. I was used to keeping my wits about me so that I didn't accidentally do something I would regret.

"We are getting drunk. We are getting so totally and completely fucking wasted that we won't even know our own names by the time the night is over," Edward declared. "So let's get going because I'm guessing I have a few drinks to catch up on, right?"

I was a little hesitant to drink any more, especially if Edward was intent on getting himself annihilated in an effort to forget the whole Bella and Mike situation. I knew he would need me to protect him from the greedy whores that were attending the party, so I tried to get out of it, "Yeah, I've already had three martini's so I'm feeling pretty good right now."

"Great start. I intend to make you feel better than you've ever felt in your life." He slid a martini toward me and raised his own glass. "I promise you'll never forget tonight as long as you live, and neither will I. Cheers." The dark green in his eyes boiled over with something that I couldn't quite figure out. It felt as though he wasn't talking about getting drunk anymore, but about something else entirely. Given his moody frustration, he could be feeling anything from hurt, anger, desire, to need. I wasn't sure, but as he swallowed down his first cocktail in one gulp, I knew he was serious about something. I also knew that tonight was one that would stay with me forever, no matter how much I drank.

After an hour and a half of constant drinking, talking, and laughing, I was drunk. I hadn't meant for it, but after Edward's continued encouragement, I got caught up in the moment. I had lost count of how many peppermint martinis I had to drink, and I couldn't even begin to count how many cocktails Edward threw back. We were both having an exceptional time when Rosalie moved to stand in front of the Christmas tree, calling everyone to attention.

Remembering Jasper's words from earlier, I wondered what kind of keychain he would have, and I was dying to inspect the ones hanging on the tree.

"Alright, everyone," Rosalie began. "We are going to play a little game tonight. Now, I'm sure that most of you have heard of the old swinger game "Keys in the Fishbowl" right?" There were several nods and mutterings of acknowledgement from the crowd. "Okay, we aren't doing exactly that tonight… unless you want to." She wiggled her eyebrows and there were several snickering laughs around the room. Keys in the Fishbowl usually ended in an orgy of sorts… "We have hung all of the men's keys on the tree and we are going to let the ladies each chose a key ring. The only rule is that you can't choose the key ring of the person you came with. The point is to get to know someone else. By getting to know them, I mean talking or drinking or whatever. But if some of you are so inclined, and I know you are," she said eyeing a few, including Mike who was sitting with his arm draped around Bella and another woman's shoulder on each side, "I do have a few cozy areas for more intimate mingling."

The crowd all laughed and I watched as Mike, though he seemed light and friendly, yet again glanced down the front of Bella's shirt; a sight I knew Edward had seen when I felt him tensing next to me. His beautiful green eyes looked unfocused and bloodshot as he stared in their direction with a heavy frown. "Okay, boys, last call for key rings. Any of you who didn't hand over your keys to me earlier had better get them up here on this tree! You have five minutes and then I'm drawing names for all the girls," Rosalie concluded.

"Hey, are your keys up there?" I asked.

His brow furrowed as he tried to remember earlier in the evening. "No, I don't think so. Lemme see." He reached into his pocket, fishing around until finally pulling out a shiny set of silver keys. "Nope, still got 'em," he slurred. I looked at the keys and was shocked to see a little cartoon image hanging from them. "See, I know they're mine 'cause there you are," he said, pointing to Buttercup.

I saw the Powerpuff Girl keychain that I had given him when we were teenagers, representing his nickname for me. It was a joke between us, but I never dreamed that he would even still have it, much less put his keys on it. My younger sister watched the cartoon show religiously after school and since Edward practically lived at my house, we caught our fair share of episodes. Edward always compared me to the volatile, little dark-haired character of Buttercup because not only were we alike in appearance—black hair, green eyes, and petite—but we were both feisty, hot tempered, tomboys. The fact that Buttercup was the only Powerpuff Girl who could roll her tongue, sealed the deal when Edward casually observed me doing it one day at lunch.

My drunken mind raced to find a reason as to why he would have saved that little key chain when he suddenly offered up his excuse. "It always reminds me of you and I like that... Bella doesn't get why I like it, but it makes me happy." With his free hand he reached over, tracing the hem of my skirt like a lost boy in deep concentration. "You're not really a tomboy anymore, though, are you?" It didn't really sound like a question, but more of a mumbled observation. He smoothed the fabric between his fingers, the little circling movements brushing against my thigh and edging up my skirt. It seemed like an innocent enough gesture until he looked towards me, growing quiet as he studied my face. I felt my breath catch at the sudden intensity between us and after a few seconds I lunged for his keys, desperate to remove myself from the table before I did something we would both regret.

"I'll go hang these for you," I offered as I jumped from my chair a little too quickly. The room started to spin and I wobbled in the heels I was wearing. I felt Edward's hand on my hip as he tried to steady me, and whimpered at his touch as his fingers dragged around the curve of my back before pulling away. I knew I would give in too much if I turned to look back at him, so I hurried to the tree, anxious to put distance between us as I tried coming to grips with our new closeness.

There were so many sets of keys on the tree. I quickly spotted Mike's set hanging as far out on one of the branches as it could. The man was desperate; I only hoped Bella was smarter than that. As I searched for a free branch to place Edward's keys on, my eye caught a set with a chili pepper hanging from it. I was reminded of Jasper and I wondered where his keys were. He was so sweet and funny; I had felt such a connection to him, yet now in the moment of truth my feelings for Edward were threatening to resurface.

I looked down at Edward's keys, the little Buttercup figurine staring back at me, and I debated what to do. I turned, watching him as he sat in his drunken stupor, stewing over Bella. He was vulnerable and drunk. I had always protected him from women, it was second nature to me, and as I let out a heavy sigh, I knew that tonight would be no different; I had to be his friend, regardless of how I felt about him. I clutched Edward's keys tightly in my hand, leaving the tree and walking straight to the door that would lead me outside and away from the insanity of the party. I wanted to protect my friend, comfort him, but I needed a moment to clear my head.

As I left the house the cool night air hit me, bringing goose bumps to my bare arms and legs. I wandered around the yard in a half-daze until finally coming to a stop in front of Edward's car. The tree he had bought for Bella was strapped securely to the top. I leaned against the car, inhaling the soothing scent of pine, becoming lost in a clustered jumble of thoughts.

I stood there, desperate for clarity, when I felt two hands on my shoulders, and a familiar voice breaking through the still night. I relaxed into his body, finding comfort against his strong chest.

As he rubbed my arms, it became apparent that he didn't understand my actions at all, not seeing the sacrifice I was making. I needed something to lighten the mood, or at least put myself in a better one.

But he playfully nipped at my skin, distracting me. I felt waves of desire roll through me like I had never experienced before. I wanted nothing more than to feel his lips on mine, his tongue, wet and caressing me. I knew it wasn't right, but in that moment, I couldn't resist any longer.

I raised my hands to his hair, weaving my fingers into the thick locks, pulling him to me. Everything about the moment and the way he felt was more than I had ever dreamed possible, despite the hesitance and guilt that pricked. My compromising state forced those thoughts to the side as I pushed my body into him, feeling him stir against my lower back. I realized that his need for me was growing to match what I felt for him.

I just didn't know if he wanted me the same way I always wanted him.

- Edward -

I would do anything to make her happy and true to my word, I'd done just that since the first day I met her. Bella's happiness was my happiness. We had the usual spats and arguments, sweaty sex and lazy Sundays that came with marriage. But I was happy, truly I was. This was just a hiccup in our loving streak… We both worked full-time, planned to have children, to see them go off to college—and maybe take out a second mortgage for our third—and wanted to grow old together. Every time I looked at her flashing eyes and shimmering hair littering her shoulders, it was like the first time I laid eyes on her, feeling warmth in my chest and a tingle straight to my groin.

I still felt those things now, but grew frustrated while I watched her and Mike rat bastard Newton, him putting the moves on her for the countless time in three years. Three years. Her passive sweetness that I instantly fell in love with was his main encouragement. Fuck, he knew she was married and he'd even met me several times at her work functions and past holiday parties. I cringed as he lifted her hand, the one with my wedding ring gracing her slender finger, up to his drooling lips for a kiss.

A million scenarios of how I'd beat him beyond a bloody pulp flitted through my mind like a blurring slide show. How many times would I have to play the caveman husband for Bella? I had greeted her with a strained kiss, but she seemed distracted by the conversation around her. No sooner did I turn away, leaving her to mingle when that serpent slid into my vacated spot.

Every chance Mike got, he leered at her, practically slobbering and out of breath when he spoke, hovering over her perfect breasts... It made my blood boil uncontrollably and on impulse, I ordered a slew of cocktails. Probably not the best decision I'd ever made. My other option was to sidle up with all the polite bullshit innuendos of keep your grubby paws off my wife, but not this time. This time I really would let him feel the impact of knuckles to jaw and then Bella would get fired by an ego-wounded jackass of a boss. She'd worked so hard in her career to get to this point and we were saving to start a family. How could I throw all that away for one moment as a raging jealous husband in all of his glory?

The alcohol merely simmered my agitation further instead of giving me the soothing, happy numb I'd been hoping for. Every little spat on the Mike Newton subject was getting to me, the seed of annoyance spawning into a vicious plant by tonight. Bella had softly said it was a small price to pay for the promotion she was hoping for in the New Year. I didn't know if it really was her job, or if it was Mike, but I did know that my wife had been distancing herself, slipping from my grasp, my love fading from her. I couldn't watch them anymore.

I looked around blearily for Alice, only seeing the laughing, mingling crowds growing touchier by the hour. She'd disappeared, off to have her own fun. I drove everyone away with my moodiness and she'd been a good friend to sit next to me as I wallowed and bitched. She deserved to salvage some of the night for herself with Rosalie's key ring game. Maybe she would forgive me tomorrow for being a pathetic idiot.

Bella laughed, drawing my attention back. It was her insincere work laugh she used to schmooze and it was in response to something Mike was telling her—most likely his crude flattery that she couldn't directly say no to. As she glanced away to take a sip of her martini, I saw him stare at her greedily, shifting closer to eye the delicate cleavage slightly showing in the V-neck red, cashmere sweater I bought her last Christmas.

I slammed the fruity, Jolly-Rancher-tasting cocktail on the table, clenched my jaw and curled my fingers into a fist. I stood, but decided to back out of the house, fumbling behind me with the doorknob. I wasn't going to break down Emmett and Rose's home with a bar brawl, but I definitely had to get the fuck out for some fresh air.

The gust of winter swept over my skin and hair, hitting my lungs, giving me an odd release. I'd expected to feel like shit. I did feel like shit, but the quiet of the night and muffled voices of the party behind me gave a cloudy, temporary moment of freedom.

That didn't last long as I saw the lights to my Volvo flash and a dark shape in the night stood at the door of the driver's side. I blinked passed my inebriated vision until the figure looked less like a black cutout against the background.

Fuck! Someone was about to break into my car and my wayward steps wouldn't prevent him. I definitely had the urge to punch someone and the opportunity presented itself, but my reflexes were sluggish and I knew a fight would just give me a black eye to match my hangover tomorrow morning.

With my heavy gaze moving between the mysterious stranger and the tied pine tree secured to my roof, my breath was coming out it in foggy spurts as I neared. I wanted to shout, just leave the fucking Christmas tree on your way out or my wife will kill you! And me… Slowing, I realized this person wasn't breaking in, but standing there as if having a private moment.

I recognized that little skirt and petite form, and wanted to laugh at my change in luck. My body sagged with relief; my spirits soared with stupefied glee.

What the hell was Alice doing outside in the cold, by herself, next to my car? As excitement swelled in my gut, I neared with lighter footing, hoping to surprise her with a scare.

She really was lost in her own thoughts, shivering slightly from the cold. Just seeing her standing there, she appeared sad. So in tune with her, I relaxed, my silent, escalating tantrum from before now snuffed out in her presence.

"What are you doing out here?" I asked in a low voice, placing my hands on her small shoulders.

She startled at first, but instantly relaxed against me, sighing as she recognized my touch. It was then that I saw the reflection of my keys, little Buttercup staring back at me from the tinted window. Alice had a natural talent for keeping me on my toes by always playing cute tricks on me... I smiled lopsided, my thoughts swimming dizzily. What was she up to this time? I wanted to play, wanted to distract myself from every thing else that sparked my sullen mood.

"Why are you out here with my keys? Want to take the tree for a spin?" I joked, rubbing her upper arms to produce heat. Her smooth skin prickled into bumps, a strange reaction to renewed warmth.

She leaned her head back against my shoulder, eyes glassy with intoxication as she turned her face up to me. "Didn't your parents ever tell you not to drive drunk?" she giggled quietly, the humor shaky and not quite reaching her eyes.

I squeezed her little body against me, resting my forehead to her temple. "You're drunk, too," I slurred. "Hand them over or I'll have to punish you." To prove my point, I nuzzled the crook of her shoulder, biting playfully at her skin. The sugary cocktails were making me bold, sloppy, but nothing ever seemed to bother Alice. She was the perfect friend, a perfect woman. Selfishly I held her, grouchy solitude no longer appealing.

She gasped, shivering in my arms, sighing again, and tilted her face into my neck. "I took your keys on purpose, Edward," she whispered on my skin. Her lips pressed below my ear, the kiss brief and testing, an undercurrent of longing attached.

I blinked away the dizziness again, feeling my body mold to her frame. She was serious, no longer contributing to our banter. Befuddled, my curiosity flowed out as I peered into her eyes. They twinkled with surfacing, indistinguishable emotion and want. The quiet settled and the air between us changed. She really was beautiful; I didn't know why she was still alone.

Immediately, every nerve in my body became hyperaware of hers. My lazy gaze dropped to her lips, glossy like pink ice. Her lower lip jutted out slightly in invitation, quivering and breathing a fruity, peppermint scent. I heard myself groan, letting my lips fall against hers, lightly sucking.

She eagerly returned the kiss, moaning softly as her hand reached up to hold the back of my neck. What started as a tentative whim grew into something deeper and heated.

It wasn't like kissing a sister, the way I assumed it would be. It was a familiar charge I'd felt with women in the past, but not something I should feel with Alice. Her tongue pushed between my lips and danced along my gums, soon becoming all encompassing.

Urges reawakened within me, my hand left one of her shoulders, reaching around to slide up her front of its own volition. Slowly, my fingers traced along the buttons of her blouse on my way up to her breast. Like she knew where I was headed, our kiss intensified as her mouth opened fully against mine. She was so eager, surprising us both with the slivered reminder that this was new and wrong, yet we couldn't find it in ourselves to halt.

Her fingers twisted into the hair behind my ear, pushing herself further into my hands. Reflexively, I cupped and squeezed gently, feeling the soft, heavy mounds straining against her blouse.

Fuck… I needed her.

"Oh, Edward," she moaned quietly against my lips. "What are we doing?" Her whisper held a pinch of doubt, but every movement of her body offered itself to me.

Perhaps she was giving me a chance to turn back now, to resist all of this. Vaguely, I knew I wasn't thinking clearly, struggling with myself for control. With a frustrated growl I pinned her against my car, the scent of natural pine thick in the air. Alice shrieked, her breath catching in the silence, shocked by the cold steel.

Breaking away from her would ache in more places than one. She may have been inquiring whether I would second-guess myself, but she was far from stopping any of this, either. Would it really be worth ruining the strongest bond of friendship I'd ever had with another person? And Bella, who was the love of my life, my dream girl… now prioritizing Mike over me. Alice knew me in ways that no one else did and I felt the yearning curiosity grip me. "I'm going to hell anyway, aren't I?" I mumbled, placing angry, desperate kisses along her shoulder.

She tilted her head with a breathy moan, allowing me access to her neck. My mouth dragged openly, messy and careless, my fogged mind filling with lusting fantasies of me and Alice and all that could have been. I was fucking losing it. Her breath quickened as my hands moved down her petite waist, the stress of my body cradling to hers once more.

Alice hips ground against me, feeling more of my ever-hardening erection. Hissing with gritty, slurring curses, I reached for my keys in her clutched hand, noting that she had a firm grip.

I fumbled, unable to get the key in the lock, my vision blurring. It kept slipping, scratching along the door as I swayed slightly. Alice's hand guided me as our woven fingers unlocked the car together. She wanted this, every new gesture cementing us, bringing her closer.

"Get in the car," I pleaded hoarsely.

Wrenching the door open, Alice pulled me into the backseat. I stumbled atop her, wincing at how cold the leather was and shut the door behind me, as if it would help. She giggled breathily as we crawled together in a tangle. I was so fucking clumsy, using my hands to steady myself, gripping her hip and the floor.

Alice felt small beneath me, my first instinct to be careful not to crush her, even though I knew how resilient she was. We fought nervously with each other's clothing, breathing heavy in the cold confines of the car. I was uncoordinated as I pushed up the hem of her tight blouse, peppering kissing down her stomach. The heat of her body seeped into my cheek, floating up between us.

She quickly undid her buttons, her heavy-lidded gaze meeting mine. Parting the fabric, she revealed a cherry-red colored bra, her breasts swelling beneath the lace with each breath, green silk bows adorning each satin strap for Christmas. Shocked through my haze, I hadn't expected exquisite underwear. Though Alice was detailed and seemed very put together, I half-expected simple, unfeminine cottons.

My dick was hard against my jeans and without thought, I dipped into her neck, kissing down her throat, so eager and curious. I wondered if her panties would match, but needing to see for myself. I wanted to discover it all.

Alice moaned, holding me to her as I sucked at her skin greedily. Who was this sweet smelling, sexy girl in my arms? She was so fucking delicate and soft... All I could do was kiss her all over, wherever my lips felt like trailing. She twisted her small fingers in my hair, pulling the strands and keeping me close. Closing my eyes against her, I absorbed the feeling, every shift and movement of her body bringing us more aligned.

The leather squeaked and rubbed and all of a sudden one of her legs was bent around my waist, pushing me against her. The fabric of her skirt bunched up between us, giving me access to her heat.

"Shit," I whispered, not recognizing the scratchiness in my voice.

My fingers slipped to the green bows, tugging the red lace down and crudely exposing her, discovering more of her secrets. Alice gasped with a whimper, raking her hands through my hair and arching up. They were perfect, soft mounds, falling right into my hands. Her nipples were taught with arousal and a deep pink like twinberries.

"Edward…," she moaned, her thighs squeezing around me.

Without thought, I delved into her breasts, sucking as much of her softness into my mouth as I could. Alice was loud and clawing my bare back for more. I didn't realize I was halfway out of my shirt until she pulled at the collar around my waist. I slid the sleeves off, keeping my eyes closed and my attention to her nipples. Her hips bucked, grinding into me every time my tongue worked over her.

She was different and amazing, unfamiliar, yet knew what I needed.

She reached to my waistband, pulled at the buttons and zipper, bringing my attention to her bare thighs. I breathed unevenly, looking down to her skirt in a haze, my hands gliding up the smooth flesh toward her apex.

"Yes, please…" she breathed, moving her fingertips over my jeans again, showing me what she wanted.

I groaned at her words, my addled brain attempting to focus as my body surged with the thrill of further discovery. Her skirt was just too tantalizing, like an eclectic schoolgirl. Pushing it all the way up, white lace panties with green frills revealed themselves, the texture matching her bra. My dizzy mind quieted, our ragged breathing loud as my hands traced over the small barrier between us.

Her fingers in my hair urged me to continue, to give into her. Oh, and I wanted to. I dipped my hand beneath the lace, her wetness burning against the cold of my fingers.

Alice gasped loudly with delighted surprise, now pulling painfully at my hair. I sighed, rolling my cheek to her abdomen as I lazily slipped over her slick heat until she trembled, panting beneath me.

"Mmm, Alice," I mumbled, not quite believing that this was happening. Maybe it was a dream… I moaned, wanting to venture lower and kiss between her shapely legs, curious and craving more. But I couldn't bring myself to be intimate like that, though my lust-induced inebriation demanded it. My mind fantasized about turning her tiny frame around, pulling her back against me, kissing her shoulder while her breasts pressed against the fogged window. I could take her that way and she'd love it.

I was so fucked.

"Edward," she whispered, rousing me from my helpless thoughts.

Let the chips fall where they may; I had to taste her. Slowly, I slid down, my knees hitting the floor as I dragged the frilly fabric down her legs, over her heels. I met her glazed eyes as my hands glided back up her legs and over her hips to lift the skirt.

Alice's lids drooped and she tilted her head back, her fingers threading deeper into my hair and pulling me closer. My lips mashed against her wet heat, causing her to cry out wantonly. She was salty at first, the taste curving into a mellow sweetness, hot on my tongue. With elongated strokes, I lapped desperate and greedy, consumed and light-headed by her essence. She was so soft and sweet…

Her cries of pleasure trailed into gasps as she trembled, her wetness trickling onto my tongue. I couldn't stop myself until suddenly, she pushed me up, turning me into a reclined position, slanted against the seat. I was disoriented and panting, feeling my energy and consciousness slip away. Sweat broke out and a chill nipped me as she climbed atop, straddling my hips. Somehow my jeans were down to my knees and her bra was completely removed.

She held my face, bringing my mind back and kissed me fiercely, tasting herself on my tongue. My heavy arms wound around her back, pressing her closer as I mumbled her name. She was all over me, whimpering again with need, breathing harshly on my lips. My skin prickled pleasantly with her new enthusiasm, my stomach clenching as she moved her small hands down my chest. When I felt her fingers wrap around my cock, gripping firmly, my attention reared, suddenly alert.

She kissed me hard, stroking me eagerly with glazed determination.

My head fell back against the seat, losing myself to her ministrations. "Fuck… Alice, I… I never thought…" My breathing rasped, hitching in my throat as I climbed higher into foggy bliss.

"I've always wanted to feel you like this," she confessed, her hands moving faster. "…always wanted to please you."

I groaned, restlessly digging my fingers into her waist. Beyond all reason and clarity of thought, I needed to be inside of her. Sensing what I wanted, she took firm hold, guiding me. As she rose up on her knees, I stared back beneath my lids when she eased down, engulfing me.

We groaned together at the shocking pleasure of being joined. She was so fucking tight, like she hadn't been with another guy in months. Enveloped in her searing heat, she leaned forward, prying my heavy lids open. Shit… this was real.

"I know you, and you know me better than anyone," she said, looking deep into my eyes.

I kissed her gently, pulling her lips between mine. I cared for her so much.

Instinctively, her hips tilted and she stroked down on me, forming a slow pace, becoming the antidote to my throbbing ache. I gasped from our kiss, biting my lips at how good she felt. It quickly escalated with every thrust, and we moved faster together, our skin slick with sweat. The air was damp with our breath, my adrenaline flowing to the edges of my body. I couldn't help licking dewdrops of salt from the arch of her neck and between her breasts as we began rolling our hips, grinding into each other with feverish need.

Alice was wild, causing pine needles to shed and slide down the windshield. The back of my mind could sense the extra weight shaking on the roof, the leather squeaking under us, but I didn't care. I craved release like I needed to breathe. Her moans grew louder and her nails dug painfully into my shoulders as she held on. With speeding rhythm she cried out my name, clamping around me so tightly as my cock continued to slip in and out of her. I heard more clumps of pine needles drop down the back window with her aggressive movements.

I gripped her hips, bending my knees to thrust up, filling her deeper. She felt incredible, bouncing up against my control with excitement. It was like she didn't want this to end, being together this way. She clutched me tightly as I sped up, desperate for my orgasm. It was within my grasp, but elusive from too much alcohol as I grunted repeatedly with motivation.

Alice goaded me, whispering dirty words of encouragement into my ear as her jerking breasts grazed against my chest with each bounce. She wanted me to be satisfied, to give me what I had given her. Her seducing words shot down to my throbbing cock.

The tension built and I felt the growing sensitivity creep up on me, tingling and swirling on its way up, urgent and explosive. Swiftly, I lifted Alice by the waist, pulling out and pressing her against me. My strangled cry of pleasure muffled in her breast as my fluids spilled out between us. An immense shudder rippled through my exhausted body, my forehead falling against her shoulder.

"This is all I can give," I whispered into her neck, tightness in my chest overwhelming me.

"I know…" She whispered sadly and placed a slow kiss on my sweaty temple, sighing.

I didn't know what else to say, still too fucked up to think clearly, to comprehend what had happened.

Carefully, she untangled herself from me, her legs wobbly as she searched for her clothing. "I'm sorry, I should go." She paused, looking at me for a moment, taking my chin in her hand. "This was… beyond anything I ever could have hoped for." Her voice was strangely thick and she hesitated, but then continued stumbling as she dressed herself.

Alice kissed me one last time, light and tender, before sliding out of the car. The frigid air rushed at me in my exposed state as she shut the door behind her. The faint click of her heels on pavement faded with her steps.

I belatedly hitched up my pants to cover myself, too tired to bother with my shirt. What the fuck just happened? Perhaps it was the product of a strong friendship with layers of history and sexual tension over many years. But Bella… I pushed away the ramifications for now. My eyes slid shut, the dizziness rushing back in, consuming my incoherent state of mind. The blackness spun behind my lids, making me sick.

I didn't know how long I lay there as seemingly endless stretches of silence went by. I wondered again if this had been real or a sick joke. It wasn't funny and I wasn't laughing. My marriage with Bella had already started to weaken and my friendship with Alice was suddenly skewed.

The sound of laughter caught faintly on my ears and I forced an eye open. Shivering in the dark and realizing my loneliness in the confined space, I smudged a hand along the window, clearing the fog from our faded intimacy.

I saw Alice, talking to that guy Jasper from earlier, but I could only glimpse her profile. She swayed and he caught her, helping her regain balance. Was she smiling? Was she sad? I tried blinking beyond my blurred vision and pounding head to read my watch. It was an hour since I'd left the party. I hoped Mike had moved on from my wife, but knew I didn't deserve that slim luck anymore.

"Thanks," Alice replied quietly, bringing my thoughts back.

"Are you alright?" he asked.

"I… I think so. I drank too much and things seem to get out of control, complicated and gray, then lines get blurry." That sounded like the ramblings of a drunken woman, but I knew better. It was the lines between me and her that blurred tonight. "Has that ever happened to you?"

"Sometimes it's hard to turn away when you're having fun," he answered politely with a smile in his voice.

"Yeah," she sighed. The uncertainty in her words had me concerned, but she didn't continue her line of thought. "What have you been up to?"

"I was actually on my way out. It's been fun but… I'm driving so I can't really stay and drink myself into a stupor," he chuckled nervously.

I saw the frown on her lips—it was so brief, I wondered if this guy would pick up on her moods as easily as I did. "I'd still like to take you up on your offer to see you again. Sometime, whenever you're free."

It was pretty obvious that he liked her, smiling warmly at her with bright eyes. "Well, I'm free right now," he grinned, gesturing across the street in invitation.

They walked slowly together, heading toward the opposite side of the road, away from my direction. He mentioned a twenty-four hour coffee shop as their voices faded, their smiles leaving a lasting affect on me. He held her by the shoulders every time she giggled and swayed, giddy with alcohol. An odd feeling of closure settled over me. She deserved to find someone, be happy, and not waste any more time on me. I just hoped we could somehow still be friends after this.

The dizziness prickled the edges of my vision again and I thought about the stupid fucking tree tied to my car. Bella's smile surfaced in my mind, simple relief that I'd finally bought one for us. My head lolled back and my eyes closed, replaying a jumble of images before the haze overtook me; Bella's smile, Alice's eyes, pine trees, fruity drinks… I thought about everything I wanted out of life and all I saw was Bella.

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

A/N:

beegurl13: I can't believe Edward and Alice did that! It was smokin' hot!

BittenBee: I know! Maybe we should have switched Alice for Bella, and Bella for Tanya so readers don't storm the castle.

beegurl13: Oh, and where's the fun in that??

BittenBee: True. If they don't prefer this pairing, maybe they should check out slash. I hear Edward gets around...

beegurl13: Uh, yeah he does! Though if I had my way Edward and Alice would be banging like bunnies all the time!

:D

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