"Twi-High Anonymous Challenge"
Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight.
I do own copies of The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink and several pairs of Chucks!
Music filled the air around me.
What is this song?
I felt his hands on me, on my hips, pulling me, pushing me - guiding me. His arms were strong, his scent was inviting and I needed more.
I looked at the crisp, white tailored shirt, noticing the small black buttons. The shirt is covered by the black lapels of his jacket. I was entranced by him, surrounded by him and intrigued by him. Who is this? I looked up to see his face and was blinded by light.
Suddenly, the song changed….
"Wake me up before you go go, don't leave me hanging on like a yo-yo…"
"What the fuck?"
I rolled over and moaned while stretching. I grabbed my phone, quickly glancing at the caller ID so that I was sure who to maim later. Edward.
"Goooooood morrrrrrinnnnggg Belllllllaaaa!"
"What do you want?" I whined. "Why are you calling me? And so early too. And when did you change the ringtone … again?"
"Did you like your wakeup call?"
"Yeah, it was bloody brilliant. What do you want, Edward?"
"It's time to get up. Start another day. New school year …. Remember?"
"Yes, I remember. So, why did you call?
"Just wanted to hear your lovely voice." I scoffed. "Did you need a ride to school this unusually bright morning?"
"The sun is out today. In Forks? Huh, weird. Nah, I'm gonna drive. I'll just see ya there later. OK?"
As I started getting ready, I remembered my dream. It felt so real for a dream. Usually, if I remembered my dreams, they made no sense. Often my dreams involved random, crazy images and scenes about people in my life. The only reoccurring dream I ever had was of me playing Quidditch. I did enjoy my Quidditch dreams. That flying broom was the shit. And I really liked that I could kick Harry's ass. Beating Harry Potter –that was a good day in my book.
As I finished getting dressed, I grabbed my backpack, keys, phone and pink chucks. I couldn't help it, I loved pink. It was my signature color. I wanted to paint my car pink but Edward swore he would never ride in it again so I relented.
As I turned into the kitchen, I saw my dad sitting at the table, reading the paper and finishing his coffee.
"Hey, Pops. How are ya?" I leaned in and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek.
I chuckled. Charlie Swan, a man of few words.
"Fine. Whatcha doing today?" I poured the cereal in my bowl and grabbed the milk. As I sat down across from Charlie, I looked up.
I nodded in agreement. As I continued to eat, I could feel him looking at me, watching me. I looked up and he seemed pensive, almost sad.
"Dad, you ok?"
"Uh, oh yeah." He cleared his throat. "You excited for your senior year?" He got up from the table and put his mug in the sink.
"Oh absolutely. This year should be riveting!"
"Well, yeah, but it is your last year before you graduate … and leave." He murmured at the end.
"Dad? What's going on? You're not gonna get all weepy on me? If you do, I will tell everyone at the station what a huge softy you are and they will tease you relentlessly." I grinned.
"Ha. No, just realizing how quickly it has all gone by..." He leaned over and kissed the top of my head. "I gotta go. Have a great day at school and learns lots."
"You got it."
When Charlie was almost out the door I yelled, "Hey, Dad!"
"I'll miss you too." I smiled softly. I felt the tears start to collect and sting the corner of my eyes as I realized what my senior year meant to him and me.
"I know, kid. I know. I'll see ya tonight." And with that he was out the door.
Glancing at the clock, I needed to get my ass moving. These fucking Hallmark moments were going to make me late. Well, not late for school, late for hanging out with my friends before school. I dumped the dishes in the sink, shoved my feet in my chucks and raced out the door. I jogged to and got in my Silver Volkswagen Beetle circa 1972. It was a piece of shit that unfortunately, I was completely and irrevocable in love with.
"OK bitch, you are going to start for me today, right?"
I discovered over a year ago that if I spoke cruelly to my car it started and ran better. I didn't know why that was but shit, it worked. Stupid shiny Silver Beetle.
Tentatively, I turned the key. Click click.
"NO! Come on you lousy bitch! Start!"
"Shit – you dirty whore. I don't want to be late."
I pumped the clutch and turned the key again. Click click. I took a deep breath, exhaled slowly and tried again. Click … rrrrrrrrrmmmmmm.
"Yes! Thanks, you nasty little twat waffle." Then I kissed the steering wheel. My little German bitch deserved some loving too – sometimes.
On my way to school, I smiled as I thought about the upcoming year - my senior year. I had lived my entire life in Forks. It was an ordinary, boring little town. Everybody knew everybody and unfortunately, everyone's business. And very little happens here, so when something did happen, no matter how small, it was big news. Who's coming, who's going, who's pregnant, who's getting married and who's getting divorced. These things happened in cities all across the country but in Forks, they were news! It wasn't that I didn't like Forks; I loved it and all its idiocrincies. It would always be home. But people had long memories and it wasn't the easiest place to be the Chief of Police's daughter.
I snorted as I remembered my wakeup call - Edward. Only Edward would download Wham onto my phone for the sole purpose of waking me. What an asshat! Edward and his family moved to Forks just before fourth grade. His dad was hired at the hospital as a surgeon. In typical Forks fashion, it was big news … huge! The buzz surrounding their arrival was hysterical. You would have thought the Queen was here.
My dad and I went by one afternoon to welcome them. Charlie thought it would be a good idea for the Chief to know the hospital's surgeon. She had made cookies but was too tired to bring them, so I did. I am glad that I did, because I met Edward. We would have met when school started but instead we met the beginning of summer. We instantly became friends. We played together everyday. We went swimming, rode bikes, and played at the park. By the start of the school year, we were best friends – completely inseparable.
It had always been easy being friends with him. I made him laugh and he made me think. We liked reading and watching 80's movies. We used to spend everyday skateboarding, until I broke my arm in 7th grade with a compound fracture. Charlie was furious and forbid me to ever skate again. I still do at times; I just don't try the tricks anymore. And as we got older and matured, so did our friendship. I was there when his grandfather died, and he was there for me when my mom left. As I drove, I realized that I had spoken to Edward every single day since he moved here. I couldn't even imagine not seeing or talking to him every day.
We were planning on going to college next year. I wasn't sure where or even if I wanted to go to the same one with Edward. Part of me wanted to go to separate schools, go someplace new, where no one knew me to just be on my own. But not being with Edward was terrifying. And that thought alone…. scared me more.
As I pulled into the parking spot, the lot was brimming with students. I pulled in and parked next to Edward's black Mustang. I looked past his car and saw Edward and Jasper sitting on the tailgate of a blue and silver truck. It was clearly an older truck that was in excellent shape or redone.
As I walked over, Edward greeted me with a kiss on top of my head. "Hey, having car problems this morning?"
I ignored him. "Morning boys, does the owner of this lovely truck mind that you have your asses perched on it?"
"Bella, my dear, the owner does know and would be greatly honored if you would bless this tailgate with your sweet ass." Jasper dramatically swept his arm out to gesture where I could sit.
"Thanks, Jasper." I gave him a quick kiss on the cheek before hopping on and claiming my spot. "And whose truck are we sitting on?"
"Well, this would be mine. I got it in Texas when I was on family-quest." He explains.
During the summer, Jasper decided that he needed to know more about himself. He said that he couldn't fully enjoy his senior year without knowing more about parts of his past. So, one day he woke up, told his parents that he needed to know more about his birth family, packed and left. We would get e-mails and texts updating us on his progress. Amazingly he found them, especially since he left without any real information or leads. It turns out that the Whitlock name is rather impressive in parts of Texas, being associated with oil. He told us about finding his birth mom and her family, spending time with them and learning more about his past.
"She was 15 years old."
"Huh, who was 15?
"My mom, Maria. She was 15 when she had me. She had been seeing my dad behind her parents' backs. He was one of their oil rig work hands."
"Oh, I can't imagine that went off too well with the 'rents."
"Nope. They were furious and made her surrender me for adoption. She said that she wanted to stay in contact, but it was too difficult. She's married now, and I have a little brother. He's 8 and a little shit."
"Wow Jasper, that is unbelievable. How are you handling all of this? How did the Rev and Mrs. T take your info?"
Jasper's parents, Reverend and Mrs. Trumbull adopted him when he was just a baby. They were amazing. They completely supported him on this crazy quest of his. And, Mrs. T made the best chocolate chip cookies EVER.
"I'm ok. It's weird. I think my granddad was trying to buy me off with this truck. I wasn't going to take it but thought 'fuck him' and kept it. Mom and Dad are just glad that I am home. Oh, get this shit – I asked Maria about my name since she is the one who stuck me with it."
Edward and I nodded in agreement and encouraged him to go on. We knew he hated his name and always wondered why he had it.
"Well, she said it was a combo of two names. First, part of it was after my dad, Jason. The second part, are you ready for this shit?"
"Yes, yes, come on."
"Ok, the second part is after Casper because she liked the cartoon as a kid and thought he was cute."
Edward and I laughed hysterically at that revelation. It took a few minutes before either of us could talk. "Damn Jasper, that is too funny. Really? She named you after Casper the Friendly Ghost?"
I was holding my side because it was hurting so badly. Edward was in no better shape. He fell off the tailgate laughing.
"You both suck!"
"Sorry Jas, she really does sound like a 15-year-old with that kinda logic. Anything about your dad?"
"Nah, it seems after Maria got pregnant, he disappeared. Who knows though, I did get his name, so maybe I will look for him someday. This is enough for now."
"Hey, Jas?" Edward spoke, finally.
Jasper nodded for him to continue.
"Well, I was just wondering, if your mom was 15 when she had you, she's got to be about 33 now, right?"
"Yeah, around that."
"So, um, is she hot? Think I could give her a call and try to hook up?" He started laughing too hard at his own joke. "Is she a MILF?"
"Yeah, she was fairly attractive." Jasper replied. The smirk on his face let me know what to expect next. "I mean, she isn't as hot as your mom, but she's alright. How is Esme? Edward, please tell me she wore one of those tight skirts today. I do love your mom in her tight skirts and heels. Damn, does she look good in heels"
"Shut the fuck up, man. That's disgusting." Edward swung his arm out to hit Jasper in the back of his head, hitting me in the back of my head with his bicep in the process.
"Ouch, damn Edward, that hurt." I rub the back of my head. When did his bicep become so hard?
"Sorry Bella." He, at least, had the decency to look sorry. He kissed the back of my head, "Better?"
"I think so, but if my SAT scores suck next week, I am blaming you."
"Why are you taking them again? Your scores were already great." Jasper asked.
"Just trying to do better." I shrugged.
"That's not possible, Bella. You can't improve on perfection." Edward responded.
I looked at him surprised. He had complimented me in the past but never anything like that. It was new and unnerving and I wasn't sure how I felt about it.
I was pulled out of my musing by the distant sound of a motorcycle. I start smiling as I turn to Jasper, "She got it?"
"Oh yeah!" He nodded eagerly.
"Did she get the Ducati or the Honda VFR?"
"Wait! How do you suddenly know about motorcycles and why was that so hot?" Edward looked surprised and excited as he asked.
"You would be surprised by all the things I know. And, I helped her research them online."
A yellow blur sailed into the parking lot and stopped quickly in a spot. The parking lot fell silent as everyone wondered who was riding it. Alice gracefully threw her leg over the back of her bike and stood firmly next to it on the ground. She removed her helmet and shook her head to free her hair from her face. She smiled and waved. Jasper whistled loudly at her and she threw her head back laughing.
I love to see Alice smiling. This was a hard summer for her. When she turned 18 in July, she received her insurance money from her parents' deaths. Peter and Charlotte Brandon were killed in Hurricane Katrina in 2009. Alice and her parents had only moved to New Orleans that summer. Her dad had just started his new job as a Professor at Tulane University. As the hurricane approached, Charlotte was nervous about leaving their new home and belongings, so she stayed behind with Peter. She also, thought that she might be able to help since she was a nurse. Alice was sent to visit their friends in Little Rock. She never saw them again. It was unclear when they were killed, but they were together. After their funeral, she was sent to live with her Aunt and Uncle and their daughter in Forks. Kate and Garrett Hale welcomed Alice, but she had become a shell of her former self.
Kate told me once how energetic and outgoing Alice was before, but after she lost her parents, she rarely laughed or spoke for that matter. When Alice first started at Forks, she was so withdrawn. We had a few classes together, but she wouldn't talk. Finally, in English we had a project to do on Julius Caesar. As we worked together on our project, she began to smile and talk more. She started sitting with Edward and me at lunch. Since freshman year, Alice was declared weird and was ostersized by most of the students, even her cousin Rosalie
As Alice approached, I chuckled at her appearance. She definitely had a unique style. I was never sure what to expect. Some days she would show up looking like a model and the next day she would have her hippy, eclectic look. I noticed that she cut her hair again. This style suited her face perfectly. It was shorter in the back and gradually got longer. Her bangs were just below her chin and she had dyed it black. I couldn't help but notice how the black made her blue eyes stand out.
"Mornin' all. Are you enjoying this sunny day?" Alice slid up to Jasper's side as she spoke. He gently kissed her cheek and easily lifted her onto the tailgate next to me.
"All is good. And how are you?"
"Great. Ya like my bike, Bella?"
"Yeah, you got the VFR, huh?"
"Yep!" She responded proudly. "The Ducati is so 2008. And, besides, the sales guy pissed me off. The jackass offered me a step stool. So I went to Honda."
Edward hopped off and stood in front of us. "Hey Ali, why did you get a bike? I mean, it is fucking cool and all, but you are hardly ever going to get to ride it. Sunny days like this are so rare."
"I know, but it will be great when I go to college next year."
Edward nodded. "You mind if I check it out?" As he tipped his head in the direction of the bike, Alice shook her head and he and Jasper walked over to get a better look.
"Yeah, I just need to be where he was I guess." She shrugged as she tried to sound nonchalant.
Alice took a plimagrage this summer too. She went back to Biloxi, where her family was originally from, to visit her parents' graves. She used part of the insurance money to buy them new headstones. She was proud and excited with her purchase.
I nudged her with my shoulder, "I think it's great. He would love that you went there and besides it is a great school. Annndddd, I will have a place to crash when I come down for Mardi Gras." I looked at Alice and we started laughing, thinking about the debauchery of Mardi Gras.
"What's so funny?" Edward asked as he walked up next to me.
"Bella is just speculating how many beads she will be able to get next year at Mardi Gras." Alice turned to me, "It will probably help if you don't wear a bra."
"Hell, I wasn't even planning on wearing a shirt. Why cover the girls at all, right?" I grabbed my breasts to emphasize my statement.
Edward made a noise that sounded like a cross between choking and gasping. I couldn't understand how he tried to inhale and exhale at the same time. He started coughing. Jasper hit his back and asked, "You ok, man?"
He nodded. "Yeah just, uh, surprised."
"What surprised you, Edward? That Bella has breasts or that she touched them?" Alice smirked.
"It wasn't that. I was just uh, …" Edward wasn't able to finish because the first bell rang.
We hopped off the tailgate and gathered our things. Alice sighed loudly, "Welcome to another year of higher education!"
I laughed. "I do love the Duckie. See ya at lunch?" She nodded. "Come on, Edward, let's go." I grabbed his hand and walked towards the school.
As we walked through the doors of our first class, I turned to him, "You ready for this?" I motioned around the room.
"Hell yeah, bring it!"
"Oh it's been broughten." And to emphasize my point, I added a head roll.
He laughed and threw his arm around my shoulder, "You're ridiculous. Let's sit." He kissed the top of my head and pulled me towards the back of the room.
"This year sucks!" Alice sat at the lunch table while I opened my drink. She sighed heavily and laid her head on the table.
"Alice, it just started. We've had four classes so far. What happened?"
"Oh, you know same shit, different day. In every one of my classes one of them have been in it. Tanya, Bree, Chelsea, Claire and the queen bitch, Angela. The entire fucking Coven I was just hoping to get through my last year without having to put up with their shit. Fucking cows!"
Every school had a group like this I was certain. A faction, a cluster, a group of over the top skanky bitches whose sole purpose it is torment those they deem unworthy, not of their elite caliber. Ours was The Coven, as Alice and I so affectionately referred to them. Forks had five leaders and then, unfortunately, several minions who served under them. Even now, I continued to be perplexed by the division of 'popular' vs. 'unpopular'. It wasn't split based on financial wealth, athleticism, intelligence, or appearance. It was random. There was no rhyme or reason to it, and yet it stood firm and strong, especially for girls. It was as if some mystical being haphazardly pulled names from a hat and placed that person in a specific group: the social elite or the outcasts. You were either in or you were out. And, Alice and I were most definitely out. We tried to avoid them but their pursuit was relentless at times. Typically, it was just snide comments or cruel jokes. At our breaking points, we fought back but they always went for the jugular. It was annoying, unfair and just bullshit.
Edward and Jasper were considered outcasts. They were excluded and endured a few comments too, but they weren't harassed as cruelly as Alice and me. Another inequity. Because well, they were gorgeous. At 6'2", Jasper was the embodiment of the classic blond haired, deep blue-eyed dream. He graced us with his perfect body and smile. He was charming and charismatic. And Edward was beyond beauty. He had brown hair with natural red highlights. It was bizarre. He had perfect emerald-green eyes, a straight nose, full lips and a jaw that could cut glass. He was intelligent and funny and sweet and a great friend. He was perfection in every sense of the term.
They were given a reprieve from The Coven's demeaning comments. Edward just had to endure their flirting and blatant yet desperate attempts at sexual innuendo. He was typically kind and gracious when he turned their advances down. The attempts on Jasper diminished over time. I often suggested that Edward get a girlfriend or at least make one up to thwart their advances. He would laugh and say that was what he had me for.
"What did they do?" I was getting pissed. I was tired of their bullshit too. We were seniors now and it was time to just grow up.
"Nothing new just the same digs at me. 'Nice bike Alice are you sure you're a girl?' 'What blind person cut your hair, it's not even?' I'm just so tired of it."
"I'm sorry. I don't know why they do this. I would think that they would get bored with fucking with us, but unfortunately they don't. Look at it this way, we are out of here in May. We are going to college and will make lives for ourselves, and they will get plastic surgery and big asses. And by big asses, I mean husbands. And by husbands, I mean small-dicked men with erectile dysfunction who will leave them in 20 years for a younger, better model."
Alice looked at me and smiled. "You're right. Fuck them bitches."
"Yeah, fuck 'em. But, eh, not literally because they are some nasty things and I don't want to get a STD."
"Oh yeah, I wouldn't touch that ….ever. Now if you wanna ….." Alice wiggled her eyebrows.
"I will keep you in mind, if and when I want to experiment."
As we continued our lunch, Edward and Jasper walked up carrying their trays and sat down. We talked about our day and the classes we had had so far. I was very excited that we all had our next class together. As we entered our AP Biology class, I heard Alice mumble, "Crap."
I looked up to see Claire and Bree sitting together at one of the lab tables. Alice looked at me and I rolled my eyes.
"Hi Edward." Claire whined. Edward nodded back to her as we walked to a table.
"You could sit over here by us if you want to." Bree added.
"Nah, I'm good. Thanks though."
"Are you sure? It would be fun. Funner than sitting with her."
I chuckled and shook my head at her ignorance. "Funner," I giggled again as I looked at Alice. She was fighting back her laughter. How the hell was she in AP Bio?
"What are you laughing at?"
"You are such a pathetic bitch, Bella. The only reason that Edward hangs out with you is cause he feels sorry for you. I mean hell, you are such a loser your mom didn't even want you."
I jumped up and started to move towards her. I made it two steps before Edward had his arm around my waist, holding me back.
"Did ya know that 'Claire' is a fat girl's name?" Alice asked.
"I am NOT fat!"
She smirked, winked at me and continued. "Well not at present, but I can see you really pushing maximum density. See, I'm not sure if you know this but there are two kinds of fat people."
"Yeah, I heard about that." Jasper stated. "There's fat people that were born to be fat and there's fat people that were once thin but became fat."
"Oh, Jas, I remember hearing about that too." Edward turned to face Claire. " Ya see, when you look at them to can see the thin person still inside. And then, in a few years, you're going to get married and squeeze out a few puppies and then, uh …." Edward gestured an expanding abdomen to illustrate his point. At this we all started laughing uncontrollably. I was laughing so hard at one of my favorite quotes from 'The Breakfast Club' and the ridiculous expression on Claire's face. It was a mix between confusion and annoyance.
"Fuck you all. I am not fat and not getting fat either."
That did nothing to help our obnoxious laughter, if anything, it increased it. Mr. Banner finally walked into the room and called the class to order. Our class continued relatively smoothly, although occasionally one of us would giggle at the memory of recent verbal exchange.
Alice and I had our last class together. Jasper had History and Edward was going to Spanish. We agreed to meet them after school. As we entered the locker room, we were relieved to find out that we did not have to dress out for gym today. We sat on the bleachers and listened to our teacher review the safety rules and the expectations of the class. Too often during, though, I would catch the glare of one of The Coven. Fuck. I really didn't want to have to deal with them in this class too. Why wasn't it possible to have one class without them?
Finally, class ended and we made our way outside. It was still surprisingly sunny out. Alice was thrilled. She was planning on going on a ride. Jasper was eager to go with her today.
"Bella, do you want to go for a ride with me sometime?"
"Fuck yeah, that would be incredible. We just can't ever go by the station, because Charlie would kill me."
"No problem. I would never want to piss off my Charlie." She smirked. She knew that Charlie was very fond of her and she used that to her advantage - often. "Ok kids, in the words of my beloved, Duckie, I'm off like a dirty shirt. And remember, drinking and driving don't mix. And that is why I ride a bike! Let's roll, Jas."
After they left, Edward turned to me, "Are you sure you want to ride with her? It really isn't that safe."
"Yeah, it would be a blast. I have always wanted to ride one. So, what are you going to do now?"
"I don't know. Can I come over?"
"Sure, I'll see you there."
Edward nodded and we started walking towards our cars. "Hey, Bella."
"I'll wait to make sure you car starts, ok?"
"Thanks, ass." I rolled my eyes. Please start. Just for added luck, I kicked a tire.
Once I was settled in my car I said, "Did you hear him? Don't fuck this up."
Luckily, my baby started on the first try. I was thrilled and relieved. The drive home was short and uneventful. As I pulled into my driveway, Edward got out of his car. How did he get here before me? I really need to pay attention when I drive?
After grabbing provisions, we settled on the sofa. Edward reached over, grabbed me and pulled me into a hug. He squeezed me tightly and exhaled. I could feel the tension leaving his body.
I pulled back to look at him. "Are you ok? What is going on with you?"
"Nothing. I just missed you, that's all."
"Edward, you saw me all day. We saw each other before school, we ate lunch together, and have four of our six classes together. How could you possibly miss me?"
"Well, yeah but we were always with other people. I had to share you with everyone. I missed just having you to myself. I missed … us."
"Aw, Edward. Well, I'm here now. You've got me all to yourself. What do you want to do?"
Edward stared at me intently. "How did your day go?"
"Fine. Nothing new. Same as last year. How did your day go?"
"How are you really? And don't tell me fine, I was in Biology too."
Fuck. He wasn't going to let this go. I sighed.
"I'm ok. I'm …I'm just tired of dealing with all this shit. I'm sick of the comments, the sneers, and the glares. I mean – fuck Edward, it's been 8 years. She left 8 fucking years ago. Why do they have to say anything? And why does it still bother me? Why do I let it? Renee made her choice. It wasn't us. It wasn't me." I whispered the last part as I felt tears stinging my eyes.
"I wish I knew why they acted like idiots. I wish I understood why she left. I really wish I could take all the pain away." He continued to hold me in his arms while rubbing my back.
"I know. Thanks."
"Have you heard from her lately?"
"Nope. I figure I will get the obligatory call on my birthday next month. I guess she is too busy with the twins or her life or whatever."
He leaned in closely. "Bella, she has no idea what she is missing. You are smart, funny, kind, beautiful. You, my dear, are amazing. And I will forever be grateful to my parents for moving us to this speck of a town. If they hadn't, I wouldn't have met you, and I can't even imagine not knowing you."
"Thanks, Edward." I shifted and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "So why are you being so sweet?"
"Well, first of all, I am always sweet." I snorted, loudly.
"And, secondly, I realized today that this is our last year of school. Everything is 'a last'. Today was our last, first day of high school. I just want to make the most of this year. I mean, we don't even know where we might go next year or if we are going to school together. I don't know – it just seems so fast and then everything will be over."
"Edward it won't be over. It will be a new part, a new chapter in our lives. I'm worried too, but I am also really excited. But I don't want to spend, as you said, our last year worrying. Just enjoy it, ok?"
He smiled and agreed.
"I wonder what is going on today. First Charlie and now you."
"Charlie was being all emo this morning. Being sad and talking about time going too fast. There is clearly something in the air. OR sunny days in Forks are bad. It clearly messes with my peeps."
He chuckled. "Yeah that's it. We are so used to the rain that the sun has an opposite effect on us. "
"You know what, you're right. That must be it."
Edward left about an hour later. My evening was uneventful. I made dinner, ate dinner, and cleaned up after dinner. I watched TV with Charlie and got ready for bed. I lay in bed and thought about the day – the good, the sad and the ugly …bitches. I thought about what Edward said, 'a year of lasts'. Is that what this was – a 'year of lasts'? I wasn't sure but I was certain that this wouldn't be the last time I thought about it.
Time was moving surprising fast. Rumors were shared. Fights happened. Break-ups and make-ups occurred. Tests were taken. College applications were mailed. Days passed and nothing of consequence happened during my 'year of lasts'. It was rather …uneventful and I found myself being bothered by that.
Was I taking advantage of my 'year of lasts'? Was I making it memorable? Was I even memorable? Did I even care? Who did I want to remember me? And, more importantly, why?
The end of the semester was quickly approaching and in typical high school fashion, the biggest and most important topic was the Winter Formal. It was just over a week away and anticipation was buzzing in the air, like an annoying fly. No matter how many times you swat the little fucker away comes back buzzing – louder.
"So Bella," Alice started as she sat down at our lunch table, "are you planning on going to the Winter Formal?"
"Yeah, I think so. I mean why not?" I responded shrugging.
"Are you going with anyone?"
Edward interrupted. "Actually, Bella I wanted to talk to you about th-" He didn't finish because at that exact moment Tanya arrived. I didn't even hear her slither over. Huh?
"Hi Edward." She smiled and flipped her overly processed hair over her shoulder. She leaned on the table, therefore revealing more cleavage. I looked at Alice, scoffed, and she rolled her eyes. Tanya was once a very pretty girl but then she bleached her hair, got breast augmentation, some type of self-tanning and I am not even sure what the hell she did to her lips. She looked unnatural and somewhat ridiculous.
"I was wondering if you were going to the Winter formal?"
"Um, yeah, I was planning on it." He looked at me worried, his eyes begging for help. And being the good friend that I am, I snickered.
"So do you want to like, go with me? We would have so much fun. You would definitely have a good time." She winked.
I couldn't hold it in anymore and laughed loudly at her attempts to seduce Edward.
She whipped her head sharply and glared at me. "What the fuck is your problem? I wasn't talking to you?" She looked down at me like I was shit on her shoes.
"You're right, Tanya. I'm sorry." I stood up, walked around the table and stood next to Edward and put my arm around his shoulder.
"Edward, I think you should go to the dance with Tanya. I'm sure it would be eh, fun. I mean if anything, Tanya does know how to show a guy a good time. But, as your friend, I need to offer you some advice. Please Edward, before you decide to, ya know, please, nail a board across your ass. I would hate for you to fall into the supermassive black hole known as her twat."
I turned and grabbed his hands, pleading with my eyes. "Please Edward, please. I don't want to lose you in such a tragic way."
No one could hold back as hysterics erupted throughout the table.
"Fuck you, bitch!" Tanya shouted at me.
"Ew, thanks but no thanks. I'll pass. I just want to get an education here not a disease. Oh, hey Tanya, your dad is a doctor, right?"
"Yeah," she sneered. "Why?"
"Oh nothing, I just think that's brilliant. I was just wondering though. When you finish with one of your 'dates' does your dad give him antibiotics as a parting gift?"
"You fucking bitch! You don't know what the hell you are talking about."
"Are you sure?" I raised my eyebrows in question. In my best 'flight attendant' voice I said, "B-bye now. Bye bye. Thank you for riding Tanya, enjoy your Z-Pak. B-bye now. Bye bye. B-bye now, thank you for riding Tanya, enjoy your Z-Pak."
I couldn't continue from the laughter. There was no point; she couldn't hear me over it.
"You fucking bitch." She started running around the table to get to me. Edward, Jasper and Alice stood immediately and placed themselves between us. Edward held me behind him with his arm protectively around my waist.
As Tanya's minions pulled her away, she screamed, "You will pay for this."
"Ok." I smiled and nodded.
"Bella, oh my, that was fucking brilliant. I am so proud of you!" Alice was beaming as she hugged me.
"Nicely done, darlin'," Jasper chimed in.
"Jas, you know that you aren't really from Texas?"
"But my family is. It's in my blood."
"Yeah, but you grew up in Washington."
Alice and Jasper left, informing us that they would see us in class.
"Bella?" I turned to look at Edward.
"Well, um, thanks. That was fucking incredible and I appreciate you saving my ass. I am so proud of you. You stood up to her. You were great." He placed his hands on my shoulders and looked directly into my eyes to emphasize his point.
"Thanks and no problem. I like your ass and saving it is just an added perk." I smiled broadly and winked. But then, quickly I worried, "Wait! You didn't want to go with her did you? Sorry to cock-block you."
He stopped and turned towards me.
"Oh, Hell no! I definitely didn't want to go with her. Actually, before she interrupted us, I was going to ask you if you wanted to go with me."
"Absolutely! I would love to Edward." I hugged him. He was beaming brightly. "I mean we went to the first Winter Formal together. It is only fitting that we go to the last one together too."
He nodded in agreement and slowly his smile faded. He suddenly looked sad. I was confused as to why. Did not want to go with me? Did he really want to go with Tanya? But he asked and was planning on asking before she arrived. We settled into our seats behind Alice and Jasper.
Alice turned around quickly. "Bella I can't stop thinking about what you said. It was so funny. Just perfect."
"Yeah, I don't think anyone is going to forget about it anytime soon. You left an impression today."
Left an impression, huh? Maybe I would be remembered after all.
Music filled the air around me.
I recognized the crappy lyrics and internally moan.
I felt his hands on me, on my hips, pulling me, pushing me - guiding me. His arms were strong, his scent was inviting and I needed more-- more of him.
This was familiar. He was familiar and safe. And as he held me in his arms I felt love. Was this him? Was he the one who knew me, loved me? Was he the one who will remember me? Was I memorable to him?
OR was he a part of my 'year of lasts'? Just a last chance, just a last moment, just a last anything to feel like I mattered.
I gazed at his white tailored shirt with the small black buttons, the black lapels of his jacket. I was entranced my him, surrounded by him, fascinated by him and intrigued by him. I looked up to see his face and as the blinding light appeared, I looked down, quickly.
I awaken to the sound of my alarm pulsing throughout my room. I shut it off and reflected on my dream.
Vans?! He was wearing Vans?
I had had this dream or a similar version of it for months. A few hints are revealed with each dream. But I was no closer to discovering who this mystery man was. He seemed and felt familiar to me, as if I already knew him but I was not sure who he could be.
Edward? Hmm, I have wondered if it was him, but in the scene, the feelings were engulfed in romance. The feeling of love that surrounded him was so thick I could taste it.
I loved Edward. He was so much more than a friend to me but was I in love with him. I didn't think so.
Winter formal came and went. Edward wore a suit. I wore a dress. He looked stunningly handsome and I felt pretty. A king and queen were crowned. Couples danced. Friends laughed. Memories were made. Moments were shared. Overall, it was just another night, another dance. Finals and holidays came and went.
A new semester started. We were entrenched in our spring semester. Acceptance letters were being received. And graduation loomed on the horizon. My 'year of lasts' was coming to an end, and I wasn't sure how I felt about it. I participated in events, went to dances and games, was involved in clubs, and spent time with my friends and family. I did everything I thought I should do, what I thought was expected of me.
The most surprising part of the Spring semester was that Tanya and her friends were leaving Alice and me alone. They made comments here and there but had backed off tremendously. And we were worried. Edward and Jasper tried, repeatedly, to convince us that they had grown up and were finally done playing games. I didn't believe that and I didn't think that they did either. Tanya was not going to let this go. I knew it and just needed to be prepared.
Another change this semester was that Edward and I only had 2 classes together. I missed seeing him throughout my day. Everything was easier to handle with Edward around.
As class ended I heard my name being called. I turned and saw Brady Shaw walking towards me. He was one of the 'in' kids. He was cute with light brown hair and brown eyes. He had been sitting next to me since the beginning of the semester in English Lit. We had talked some and I realized that he wasn't a complete douche.
"Hi Brady. What's up?"
"Nothing. How your day going?"
"Good. Well, as good as can be expected at school."
"Yeah, I get what you mean."
We continued chatting about school and our upcoming assignment as we walked to the cafeteria. I told him that I would see him later and walked to the table where my friends were waiting.
"Hey peeps. How are ya?" I sat down next to Edward, across from Alice.
"What were you doing talking to Brady?" I was surprised by Edward's tone when he asked. He sounded angry. When I looked at him, he wore a calm expression but it seemed forced.
"Oh nothing really. He sits next to me in Lit and we were talking about class and our homework."
"After everything you have been through, with them, I can't believe that you would talk to him!"
"Whoa, Edward. Yes, I talked to him. I'm not dating or fucking him. We talk – period. He sits next to me and often we end up talking about the assignments, primarily because he's not an idiot. And yeah, he hangs with the others but he has never done anything to me or my friends, as far as I can remember. Besides Edward, let's say I don't talk to him because he is 'one of them'. I am doing exactly what they do. I'm better than that. I'm not saying that I am better than them but I am better than a small minded, judgmental bitch! And you should know that."
I sat back in my chair and attempted to catch my breath after my tirade. I looked at Alice and Jasper, who both sat there with shocked looks on their faces.
"You're right, Bella. I didn't mean that you shouldn't talk to him. I don't trust him, and I just don't want you to get hurt. And Bella?" I turned to face him – his green eyes burning into mine. "You are better than they are. Infinitely better. You are smart, kind, funny and beautiful, and I won't ever let you forget that."
I stopped breathing. It was the combination of the passion of his words but the intensity of his eyes. I couldn't look away and needed to desperately, just to clear my head. Finally, after several moments, he looked down and I exhaled. I slowly breathed in and out while I tried to wrap my head around what just happened. What was he saying? Why did he say that? And what did he really mean? It was too much to process at the moment. Luckily, the bell rang and we went to class.
After school, Edward and I decided to hang out instead of doing Calculus. I dropped my stuff off and left a note for Charlie. As Edward drove out of town, I knew where we were going. As he drove, we talked about school, music and well, nothing of importance. Edward pulled his car on the side of the road and parked. We walked silently to our spot. We found it years ago accidentally. It was covered in trees and there was a small opening that gave us a perfect overview of the cliffs below. We only came here if one of us was having a bad day or if we needed to talk. I pondered what the reason was for today's visit.
We sat quietly for several minutes. Edward had his arm around wrapped my shoulder so, naturally, I leaned into his side.
"Bella?" He began hesitantly.
"Are we ok?"
I turned to get a better look at him. "Of course, why are you even asking?"
"I don't know. Sometimes I feel like you're slipping away. Our lives are getting busier and more complicated. We don't hang out as much as we used to. We only have two classes together. I miss you, this, us." He pressed his lips into my temple. "You are the only one who knows me. Maybe I feel like I am slipping away too."
"Edward, you aren't slipping away and neither am I. We are busy that is all. That is life."
I looked down at my hands in my lap. "Do you remember in the movie 'Pretty in Pink' when Andie was talking to Blaine and told him that she couldn't believe in someone who didn't believe in her."
I saw him nod out of the corner of my eye. I turned my head slightly. "I believe in you, Edward. I always have. I always will. You are the most amazing person I know. You won't slip away. I would never let you. You are too important to me and my life to ever let you slip away."
The words were barely out of my mouth before Edward had crushed me to his chest. We held onto each other not wanting to let go of this moment or each other. I didn't know what the future held for us and right now, I needed his comfort as much as I needed his friendship.
Edward loosened his grasp on me and gazed deeply into my eyes. "Thank you." He whispered reverently and kissed my forehead.
Leaning back, he shook his head disbelievingly. "Time is just moving too fast. The last of our lasts are coming faster, and I just don't know what to do. Part of me wants to stop time. I scared, Bella and I don't know what to do. What happens now? What happens next? I mean, shit Bella, acceptance letters are coming out and we haven't even talked. Have you gotten any?"
"I've gotten a few letters but haven't opened them yet."
"Why not? What are you waiting for?"
I peeked up at him. "You. I'm waiting for you. We promised that we would only open them together. I just haven't had a chance to talk to you." I shrugged. "Besides I might have been too nervous to check."
"See, this," he points between us, rapidly. "This right here is what I am talking about. You should have called me immediately. We should already know where we have been accepted and where we are going." He withdrew his arm and shifted so that now he was facing me. "Bella what to you want? Do you want to go to school together next year or should we go to different colleges?
"Well, fuck Edward. I don't know. Part of me thinks that we should go to different colleges. It would be a great opportunity to experience new things, meet new people. But the other part of me can't even imagine not seeing you every single day without having a panic attack. And then that, my reaction to not seeing you, pisses me off. I don't want to be needy and clingy to you. So I am torn. The only way I can say it is like this – the idea of going away to school with you scares me. The thought of going to college without you scares me more. So I guess that is my answer, I would like to go to college together."
"Oh Bella, I –"
I put my hand up to stop him. "Wait, I'm not done. IF you get into a great school, the school of your choice and I don't, you go! Promise me, Edward! Do not hold yourself back for me …ever! I care about you too much for you to fuck up your future for me. I believe in you, remember! Do you understand?"
"And, just because I get into a school, doesn't necessarily mean I can go. I have to find out about scholarships and financial aid first. Ok?"
"Ok first this," and he kissed me on the cheek. "I feel exactly the same way. I am nervous to go to school but I am terrified to go to school without you. So we are going together?"
"Yes, but only if it works for both of us, agreed?" I offered my hand to him.
"Agreed!" Edward clasped his hand around mine and shook it. He stood quickly and pulled me to him and encased me in a hug. I wrapped my arms around his neck. I felt my feet leave the ground as Edward swung me around. I threw my head back, laughing. He set me back on the ground.
"Come on, let's go." He grabbed my hand and started running towards his car. "Ok, so we'll stop by my house first and grab all my letters and then we'll go to yours. And then we can decide where we are going?"
"Yeah, yeah, come on."
We talked excitedly the entire way back to my house. We settled in my living room with our letters and took turns opening them. When we were finished, I was wait-listed at two schools, Tulane and Northwestern. Edward was wait-listed at three schools, Tulane, Northwestern and University of North Carolina. We had gotten into two colleges together: University of Washington and University of Oregon. Edward was thrilled. I was excited too but was still waiting for scholarship and financial aid information on both. But at least we still had some time before we had to make a decision. When Edward finally left to go home, he was still grinning. I went to bed smiling too. For the first time in a long time, things felt good - right and that night, I fell into a dreamless sleep.
As our year drew to a close, the excitement and eagerness in the air was palpable. Finals were imminent. Graduation appeared more clearly on the horizon. Some relationships were solidified. Some were dissolved. But in the end we were all just eager to be done.
Prom King and Queen candidates were announced. Campaigning commenced. The buzz surrounding prom was deafening. Alice and I bought dresses. She got yellow. I got pink. Edward and Jasper rented tuxes. We decided to attend prom as a group. Spending the night together, enjoying the remaining few moments of our 'year of lasts'.
We decided to meet the guys there. Alice and I got ready at my house. I wasn't sure why we didn't all go together but ultimately it didn't matter.
The gym was decorated with balloons and crepe paper. It was cheesy and tacky but the decorating committee tried. Alice and I chatted about school, teachers and classmates while we waited for the guys. We laughed about our experiences and memories. We even chuckled about a few of the Coven's comments through the years.
When Jasper and Edward arrived, they gave us flowers and Edward told me how beautiful I looked. We danced briefly and then ate dinner. Fortunately, the meal was catered so it was fairly decent.
I turned around and saw Brady standing behind me with his hands tucked into his pants pockets.
"Hey Brady, how are you?" I got up and walked over to him.
"Good. You look nice."
"Thanks. You too." He did look handsome in his black tuxedo.
"Um Bella, I was wondering if you would like to dance?"
"Uh, sure Brady."
As I walked to the dance floor with Brady, I glanced back at my friends. I was certain that my face mirrored their confused expressions. Edward, however, looked furious as he glared at Brady's back.
Brady and I danced and talked about school and graduation. He was a good dancer. He spun, twirled and dipped me on occasion. I giggled and became very aware of how similar this was to my dream. I glanced up to his face and he smiled at me. I was preparing to look down at his shoes, when he spun me out again.
Before I could return to him, something cold and wet hit my face. I opened my eyes and saw red dripping off my face.
I heard the laughter before I could even recognize what had happened. Then I saw Tanya and her minions flanked at her side. She held an empty glass and looked at me victoriously.
Realization dawned on me like a ton of bricks. I couldn't believe this. During my 'year of lasts', I was drenched with a glass of punch. Is this how I will be remembered, by this moment at prom and having punch thrown in my face?
I looked at Brady, who looked horrified. I saw Alice approaching. She was talking but I couldn't hear her.
I was mortified and couldn't stay here a moment longer. So, I ran. I ran out of the gym, ignoring my friends calling my name. I ran out of the school and past the parking lot. I finally stopped at the edge of the trees and desperately tried to catch my breath.
I heard his footsteps approaching.
"I'm here, Edward."
He ran over to me and scooped me into a hug holding me tightly to him. He pulled back inspecting me.
"Are you ok? I can't believe she did that, Bella." He looked me directly in the eye. "You did not deserve that."
"Why, Edward? Why? What did I ever do to them?" I couldn't hold back the tears any more. I was so hurt and confused as to why someone could do this. It was immature and cruel.
"She is just jealous, Bella. You are a thousand times better than her and she can't stand that."
"She is not jealous of me. Tanya is popular and beautiful. "
"Tanya is not beautiful, Bella. She is fake and plastic and processed." He turned my face towards his and stared directly into my eyes. "You are beautiful. Bella, you are a natural beauty. You are kind, brilliant, and funny. You have the kindest heart and the sweetest laugh. When you smile, you light up a room. You make every day of my life better just by being in it. You are not only my best friend. Bella, you are my everything."
The intensity in his eyes left no doubt in my mind. He closed the distance between us. He glanced at my lips and then back to my eyes. My stomach dropped and then flipped.
"You have to know this, Bella. Can't you see how I feel?" He grabbed my hand and laid it flush on his chest. "Can't you feel it?"
Edward carefully, gently cupped my face in his hands, tipped my chin up and effortlessly brushed his lips against mine - and again - and again. He kissed me softly and sweetly. I felt it course throughout my veins like a wick that had been set aflame.
Carefully, I pulled back. I was overwhelmed and confused by my emotions. Edward kissed me. I couldn't wrap my head around everything that had happened in the past 15 minutes.
"Edward, wait. I need a minute. So much has happened and my head is spinning."
I stepped away. I couldn't process everything. Edward kissed me and it was amazing. It was such a simple kiss and yet, it invoked more passion and desire in me than ever thought possible. I had never felt this way before – ever. As I tried to process, I looked down at the ground. I could see Edward move out of the corner of my eye, and I caught a glimpse of his shoes.
"Edward," I started without looking up. "Why are you wearing those shoes?"
"Oh yeah," he sounded nervous. But I refused to tear my eyes away. "Well, initially it was because the shoes I got to go with the tux really hurt my feet and then I decided that I just wanted to have a part of me still. I know it doesn't look good but I knew we were going to dance and so …"
I couldn't believe it. It was him! It was Edward. He was standing before me in his tux and Vans. Edward was literally the man of my dreams.
"It was you. All this time, it was you."
"Bella what are you talking about?"
"You! You were the one in my dream. You were the one I danced with. You were the one who held me and made me feel …"
"I made you feel?" He questioned.
"More." I whispered.
"Yes Edward, more."
"Bella, what does that mean?"
I shook my head and chuckled. "I'm not exactly sure but it is good, very good."
He scooped me up in his arms and kissed me hard. "Oh Bella, I have waited so long for this. You are my everything. I lo-"
I quickly clamped my hand over his mouth. "No, please Edward not tonight. Don't say that tonight when I am sticky and have red punch staining my dress. Just not yet. Wait, please. Please just wait for me, Edward."
"Of course, I can wait. I'll wait for you forever."
I stood on my toes and pressed my lips to his. "You won't have to wait forever. I promise." I grabbed his hand. "Come on - let's go."
"We are going back to the prom."
"But -" I waved my hand to stop him
"Right now, Alice is worried sick, so, I need to see her and I need to clean up this mess." I gesture to my face and dress.
Just as we cleared the parking lot, Alice spotted us. She and Jasper ran towards us. She threw her arms around me. "Bella, are you ok?"
"Yeah, I am. Pissed and embarrassed but ok."
"So what are we going to do now?" Jasper inquired.
"Well, Alice and I are going to the bathroom and we are going to try to clean this mess up and then, well I don't know – yet."
Alice helped me wipe the sticky drink off my face and chest. She told me about everything that happened after I left. She explained that Brady yelled at Tanya and had no idea what she had planned. I glanced at my dress and sighed. There was no possibility of cleaning the red stains from it.
"I really liked this dress too. Hey, maybe I should have you throw punch on the back of me. At least everything would match then."
Alice giggled and hugged me again. "You are amazing."
"Thanks! So … what do you think Tanya would do if I sent her a bill for the dry cleaning of my dress?"
"I don't know but would love to find out."
We exited and saw Edward and Jasper waiting for us. Edward walked over kissed my forehead and put his arm around my waist.
"What do you want to do now?"
"We go back to the prom."
"What? Are you sure Bella?"
I thought about going back, did I really want to? Is this how I wanted my 'year of lasts' to end? I peeked at my dress and it was ruined but when did I ever care about my appearance? I remembered Tanya's smirk and the sounds of their laughter. At that moment, I was no longer embarrassed or mortified. I was pissed! She was not going to get the best of me. Not tonight and not anymore. I felt Edward shift and saw he had my bag in his hand. Perfect. I kicked off my heels and grabbed the bag from him. I immediately found my pink Chucks and sat on the floor.
"What are you doing?"
"Well, if I am going to go back there and face everyone, I want to feel like me when I do it."
Once my shoes were on, I pulled my fingers through my damp, sticky hair and secured it in a ponytail. Standing, I turned to my friends, "Ready?"
We started walking back, when Alice paused. "Bella wait. Are you sure? I mean, why are you really doing this? What are you trying to prove?"
"Well my Duckie, I just want her to know that she didn't break me. Not tonight. Not ever."
Alice's face broke out in the biggest smile when she recognized the quote. "Ok, let's roll."
I peek sheepishly at Edward and saw an identical grin. He grabbed my face and kissed me – hard. I was beaming as we walked back to the gym.
As we crossed the threshold, I felt the heat of several eyes on me. I quickly squared my shoulders and lifted my chin. I was ready.
Edward leaned over and whispered, "May I have this dance?" He extended his hand. I laced my fingers in his and headed out to dance.
We spent the rest of the dancing and laughing. Brady apologized. I told him all was forgiven. We danced again after he promised he wouldn't spin me. I ignored Tanya and that just pissed her off more, but I couldn't find it in me to care. I ended my prom exactly how I wanted with my friends and Edward.
After, prom was over, we went to the diner to eat. It turns out that public humiliation and blinding anger made me hungry. We made plans to go to the beach the next day.
Edward asked me to go to dinner with him the following night. He wanted to go on our first date. Edward drove me home. His fingers interlocked with mine resting on my lap. I thought about my 'year of lasts' and couldn't believe everything that had happened this past year. I was happy and sad to see it end.
At my house, Edward helped me out of the car and I leaned against the side.
"You are really going to dinner on a date with me?" I asked
"Yes, Bella. No confusion this time. We are going on a date tomorrow. Is that ok?
Edward slowly, too slowly, moved towards me. He brushed his lips against mine. Our lips parted and quickly, the kiss deepened. His body was pushed against mine. His hands were wrapped in my hair. My fingers intertwined through his amazing hair. Our first kiss was tender. This kiss was intense and passionate. We touched, caressed and moaned. And all too soon, we pulled apart. Faces flushed, lips red, breaths quick. Another first – our first passionate kiss. And I was eager for more.
After walking me to the door, Edward gave me one last kiss. Placing his forehead against mine, he whispered, "Tomorrow."
I went inside, smiling broadly and headed to my room. I gently touched my lips. I reflected on how amazingly my 'years of lasts' had ended.
And tomorrow I was starting my 'year of firsts' … with Edward.
I just wanted to thank everyone who read this story and voted for me. I greatly appreciated it! I received an Honorable Mention (tied for4th).
Thanks to my sweets – il-bel-mondo and lexiecullen17 for hosting the Twi-High Challenge. And thanks to all the judges too for all their time and hard work!!!
HUGE thanks to Valeri29 for betaing this for me. I will be forever in her debt!!
And for the love of Duckie – please leave a review!