A/N Thanks to SueBob and KD for their time and talents. To my dearest Jo (ECullenitis) for all her time, energy, and suggestions... THANK YOU! You didn't give up on me and I didn't give up on you! This little prologue I dedicate to you! xoxo

Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight, but BI is all mine. No copyright infringement is intended. With that said... let's get this show on the road!


Prologue

Bella POV

Resting my forehead against the sun-warmed glass of my bedroom window, I stare out toward the front yard, seeing nothing and everything at the same time. He was my whole life - my past, present, and future - but now he's gone forever.

A heart-wrenching sob erupts from my chest as I realize how intertwined our lives had always been. Our mothers met in high school and had been the best of friends ever since. Both became cosmetologists, bought houses in the same neighborhood, and married cops. They were even pregnant at the same time. Throughout our lives together, Edward and I had to endure two sets of parents embarrassing us with praise, reprimanding us at will, and punishing us as their own. Because of that, we stuck together - sometimes as best friends, other times as partners-in-crime.

My eyes focus on a florist delivery truck as it pulls into our driveway to unload another round of drab and morbid "sympathy" arrangements. It reminds me of the botanical gardens that Renee and Elizabeth took us to when we were eight years old. I had loved seeing all the interesting plants and pretty flowers. There were so many different kinds, and in every color imaginable. Some smelled bold like perfume or sweet like fruit, while others gave off foul odors, like rotten garbage. There were even some plants that lured insects and ate them. I always thought those were kind of creepy, but they happened to be Edward's favorite.

"Look at this one, Bella!" Edward pulled me over to a scary display of bug-eating plants. "It smiles really pretty at the bug to attract it in and then 'WHACK'!" He clapped his hands loudly to punctuate the force of the plant's attack."It kills it by squishing it and drinking its blood!" He looked back at the freaky plant with pure amazement. "It's like a vampire plant!"

"Ewww, Edward, vampires are so gross!"

"Nuh-uh! Vampires kick ass!" Edward retorted a little too loudly.

"Edward Anthony!" Elizabeth scolded, "Let's go wash your mouthout before I feed you to those plants!"She grabbed his left ear and dragged him toward the far side of the gardens. Edwardspewing apologies the entire way.

"Looks like the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, Liz!" Renee chided and shook her head as she watched her godson being hauled through the crowd of people.

"Don't encourage him, Renee!"

Edward's parents had always been obsessed with vampires. Every year they host an extravagant Halloween gala, deck themselves out in vintage costumes, and even quote scenes from their favorite vampire novels for guests. They owned nearly every book ever written and every movie ever made that pertained to vampires.

I smile to myself, thinking about the time when we were ten and had found a book under his parents' bed titled Vampire Erotica. We didn't know who this "Erotica" person was, but Edward thought she was a vampire superhero, while I imagined her as a princess. As we perused the book, we quickly discovered the lack of pictures, and I was very disappointed because I wanted to see an image of Princess Vampire Erotica's castle. Edward tried to read the story out loud, but the words and phrases didn't make any sense to us, even though they were clearly English. He thought it was written in a secret code or riddle, but neither of us could decipher it.

So many memories.

My smile turns quickly back to tears as I realize that every single memory I have involves Edward in some way. He was there for everything... every day, every milestone, every first.

When I turned sixteen, my dad finally allowed me to start dating. It was really a formality for his sake, since it was obvious that our lifelong friendship had blossomed into an innocent romance over that summer. For our first official date, Edward took me back to the botanical gardens. He said he remembered how much I enjoyed going when we were little and thought it would be the perfect place.

And really, it was... perfect.

As we walked through the gardens,I marveled at the assortment of plants and array of flowers. The gentle mist from the sprinklers caused a slight fog that floated throughout the enclosure, making it look so beautiful and peaceful - mystical, even. I imagined us living in a place where lush grass covered the landscape, soft moss blanketed the trees, and dainty wildflowers grew in hidden meadows deep within the woods. Things didn't grow like that in Phoenix. Everything was so dry and hot, hard and prickly - all cactus and scorpions. To me, the desert looked so...so dead. I wanted soft and leafy, rich with greenery and blooms. I wanted a magical forest.

"C'mon, Bella, I want to take you to see the butterflies," Edward released a lopsided smile as he grabbed my hand and pulled me into the butterfly exhibit.

"Okay." I smiled back, gripping his warm hand tighter.

As we entered the enclosure, our eyes widened and mouths gaped as we took in the sight of hundreds of fluttering Monarchs.Butterflies were one of the few things we could both appreciate.To me, they were like tiny, precious fairies or angels,delicately flitting around and sprinkling their pixie-dust pollen between plants and flowers. To Edward, they were bugs, and he loved bugs. He had such a fascination with insects that he was aspiring to be an entomologist.

"I knew you would like it here," he beamed, and I wondered if he thought of this on his own or if Elizabeth gave him the idea.

A splash of orange and black dashed between us and landed upon my left shoulder.Edward lifted his hand towards it, and it gently crawled up onto his wrist. He wrapped his otherarmaround my waist and pulled me closer into him as he told me about the life cycle and diet of the Monarchs, bringing the creature closer to me for a better look.

"Oh, it's so beautiful," I whispered, admiring its delicate wings.

"So are you, Bella."

As the butterfly flew away, I looked up into Edward's piercing, green eyes.My cheeks blushed a vibrant red at his compliment, and his eyes flickered between my eyes and my mouth. Slowly,he reached up to cup my cheek, planting a sweet, tender kiss on my lips.

Yes, it was definitely the perfect first date.

The creaky sound of my bedroom door opening obliterates my trance, and I realized I've sunk down to the floor beneath my window and curled into a fetal position.

"Bella, honey," my mom calls as she steps across the room and kneels beside me on the floor. "It's time to go. The service won't be very long, and then we can come right back home, okay?"

With my body on autopilot, I don't even register that I'm being lifted to my bed, my shoes being slid onto my feet. I gaze blankly up at my mother's offered hand to stand and pull her into a tight hug.

My voice, raspy and withered with emotion, I cry, "He's gone, Mom...they're all gone."


Obviously... this will be a bumpy ride, but I promise there will be some citrusy goodness in the very near future! ;)

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Thanks, Karie