"Please Elizabeth, lower you voice," my father sounded strained as he pleaded with my mother.
"I don't know how you can be so calm!" My mother yelled, her face was bright red as she stared at my dad.
I hated it when they fought, but this was worse, because it was all my fault.
"Tanya is going to be fine. I checked her myself," he spoke calmly, and tried to touch her, but she slapped his hand away. "I'm not talking about her. I'm talking about your daughter."
"Edina is shaken up, but I think she will be fine," Dad didn't let up; again he tried to get closer to her, but she stepped back from him.
"This isn't just going to go away, Carlisle," she said, shaking her head. "This is a serious problem."
"What do you suppose we should do?" He sighed heavily and stood still.
"Tanya's father told me about a clinic, maybe they could help her," her voice was softer, and she was looking at Dad with a hopeful look.
I bit my lip, and held my breath, fighting back the tears. I would go to whatever hospital they wanted, as long as they stopped fighting.
"You cannot be serious!" I had never heard my father use that tone before with my mother.
"Do not use that condescending tone with me," she said, her voice became frantic, and I tried to fight back the panic that seized me.
"Have you completely forgotten Utah? How many of those poor kids I saw come through the ER? Those places don't help kids! I can't even believe you would suggest it." He was angry; I'd never seen my father like this before.
"We have to do something!" She looked so worried, I wanted to run from my hiding spot to comfort her. Promise that I'd never do it again, but I was too afraid to move.
"I can't lose her, Elizabeth," his voice cracked, and my mother's features softened as she touched his face. "When they called me to the ER, for a split second I thought it was Ed. I can't go through that!"
"I don't want that either, that's exactly why I think we should consider it," my mother said it quietly, as my father looked at her. "She is a strong girl, but what kind of life will she have?"
"I am not sending my child away," my father shook his head.
"Who's being sent away?" Emmett barged into the living room, and I wondered where he'd been hiding. "You're not talking about Ed are you? Dad, you can't do it!"
"Emmett you don't understand the situation," my mother said in a comforting tone, as she touched his arm, but he yanked his arm it away.
"No, Mom you don't understand! There is nothing wrong with Ed!" He was yelling at her, his face was twisted in anger. I'd never seen him talk to Mom like that, Ever.
"EMMETT!" My father yelled at him, another first.
Emmett stared at him for a few minutes, and I held my breath. Finally, Emmett started to walk away from them.
"If she goes, I go," he yelled, as he stormed out of the room.
"See this is what I'm talking about!" My mother screamed, as Emmett stomped into the hallway, and I scrambled to hide before he saw me. "How can we take care of our children, if you don't respect me enough to listen to me?"
"Elizabeth, this isn't about us. This about Edina," my father's angry voice echoed around me, and I tried to press myself against the wall.
"Do not talk to me like I'm a child, Carlisle!" My mother yelled, as Emmett's foot collided with my leg, and I grunted in pain.
"Ed?" He whispered, and I tried to crabwalk away from him, but he caught my wrist. "Come here."
I struggled, but it was pointless; he was too strong. He pulled me up into his arms, and I let him hug me, wishing his arms could muffle the sounds of our parents yelling.
"Your hair's getting awfully long," he laughed, gently brushing my hair away from my eyes, and I hissed as his fingers brushed my bruised cheek. "What the hell?"
I froze as Emmett cradled my face in his huge hands, and tried to not panic.
"It was my fault," I sputtered, and tried to pry his hands off my face.
"Who did this?" his voice was so low, it made goosebumps crawl up my arms.
"Paster Roberts, but it was my fault," I tried to explain, but it was too late.
Emmett wasn't listening. He kissed my forehead and walked out of the house, slamming the front door behind him. Ten minutes later, my mother did the same thing.
"Hi," Bella greeted me with a shy smile as I sat down at our table.
"Hi," I muttered, trying to look busy with my backpack as I fished out my notebook and pen.
"Your ankle looks better," she said, leaning close, sending the scent of coconut and lime wafting toward me.
What, did she wash herself with fruit every day?
My mind painted a vivid image of Bella carefully scrubbing her naked legs with a wedge of lime. I completely forgot about everything else, until Mr. Cole clapped his hands together dramatically.
"We've got a film to watch about reproduction," he said, as his glasses slid down the bridge of his nose, and someone behind us gave a wolf whistle. "Settle down. I assure you this will be rather clinical and far from Hollywood's idea of sexy." He made air quotes with his fingers as he said that last word, and I wondered if he's been spending too much time around his students.
"Ed," Bella whispered as the lights dimmed and Mr. Cole turned on the TV.
"Yes," I whispered back, and gave her a sideways glance.
"I...I just wanted to thank you," she said, her small hand sliding over my arm as she looked into my eyes.
It was like a livewire pressed to my skin, burning me while making me shiver and tingle. Bella's beautiful brown eyes bore into me, and all I could think of doing was kissing and touching her more. My brain was screaming at me to pull away, while my body was telling me to lean closer. I swallowed, and tried to speak, but all that came out of my mouth was stuttered exhale as Bella slid her hand up my arm and curled her fingers around the base of my bicep.
"Lesbos," someone hissed from behind me. I tore my arm out of Bella's grasp, and spun around.
Mike Newton looked shocked as I leaned over and grabbed him by the throat.
"Fucking shut it, or I will tell everyone about how you jizzed in Lauren's hair at the beach party," I growled in his face, before letting him go and turned back around.
Bella's smile quickly faded as I scooped my chair away from her and moved my back pack between us. Mike would keep his mouth shut, I was sure of that, but I couldn't afford to slip up again.
I heard the news today. In fact, I was at the church with Daddy and the rest of the congregation watching them tally the results. I can't describe to you the despair I felt as they announced that Proposition 8 had passed and my family cheered with joy. Your the only other person that can understand how this feels.
I'm sorry that I didn't meet you yesterday. I know I promised, but Daddy's been very watchful of late. Mother thinks that I am sad, because of seasonal depression, whatever that is. She's talking about sending me to stay with my grandmother in Memphis. I don't know what to do. I've tried to act cheerful, but I just can't lie anymore.
Why should I try? Nothing is ever going to change, and maybe it shouldn't. Maybe we are meant to live in the shadows, because what we do is unsightly in the eyes of God. Father says that God loves all his children, but I don't feel it anymore. All I feel is wrong. I love you, but I don't know if it's right.
I have to go before I'm late for bible study. I love you, and I'm sorry.
I found Tanya's note tucked between the keys of the piano in the music room. I was so worried. It had been a week since Prop 8 had passed and all our plans of freedom went up in flames. Tanya and I were supposed to meet up to talk, but she keep standing me up, and after I read her letter I had a terrible feeling.
After school I drove to her house, I didn't see either of her parent's cars. I ran to the front door and knocked on the door. There was a note, addressed to her parents, taped to the door, but I went ahead and read it. All it said was I'm sorry.
I dropped the note ran into the house screaming her name, but no one answered. I rushed up the stairs and headed for her room when I noticed that the carpet outside of the bathroom was soaking wet. Panic filled me as I threw open the door.
Tanya was lying peacefully in the bathtub, her golden hair floating around her beautiful face as water streamed over the side. Her bleeding wrists tinted the water around them a faint pink. She looked like she was sleeping.
"Tanya!" I screamed, pulling her out of the bathtub, and set her down on the bathroom floor. "TANYA!"
I was hysterical, but somehow I was still able to yank a towel off the rack and wrap it around out her bleeding wrists. Her skin was pale, but I could still see her chest rising and falling.
"Edina," she mumbled, her eyes fluttering open, and I leaned down to look at her.
"What were you thinking?" I cried, as I kissed her cheek, and she rolled her head away from me.
"No," she whimpered, I felt a sick, cold feeling twist inside my stomach. "It's wrong. So wrong. We should have never..."
"I love you," I whispered next to her ear, but she just cried harder, and shook her head.
"What in th-" Her father rushed into the bathroom, and kneeled over her. "TANYA!"
"DADDY!" Tanya cried and reached out for her father.
"Baby," he cried, as he pulled her close.
"I'll call for help," I stuttered, as I pulled out my phone.
"What are you doing here?" he hissed at me, as he pulled Tanya into his arms. "Did you do this? DID YOU?"
I shook my head, but I knew it was a lie. I did do it. It was all my fault. When the back of his hand collided with my cheek, I took it, and tried to not cry out as pain exploded through my face.
Once I'd managed to get away from Pastor Roberts' rage, I called emergency services and thirty minutes later I was sitting on a hard plastic chair in the emergency room waiting area. I was staring down the long hallway that led to the patients' rooms, and watched Tanya's father yell at my parents. He was pointing at me, and then at them. When I saw my mother's look of shock and embarrassment, I had to look away.
My attention was drawn to the sound of someone speaking. I looked up at the TV hanging from the ceiling in the corner of the waiting area. A news correspondent was speaking, but it was the words "Gay Marriage" displayed in white below him that caught my eye.
"... centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children, all because we said a man couldn't marry another man, or a woman couldn't marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage."
I watched him speak with passion and emotion. He was talking about people just like me. I didn't know him, and yet I felt like he knew me, knew my pain.
"Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work. And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling."
I sat in the uncomfortable plastic chair in the waiting room, the ice pack that the nurse had given me laid forgotten in my hand. Tears streamed down my face while listened to this man whom I had never met plead with the rest of the country to give people like me a chance to love.
"You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand, on a question of love. All you need do is stand, and let the tiny ember of love meet its own fate.
You don't have to help it, you don't have it applaud it, you don't have to fight for it. Just don't put it out. Just don't extinguish it."
Everything was finally starting to go well. After our confrontation in biology, Mike Newton avoided me for the rest of the week. Jasper and Emmett had a little talk with Tyler, which resulted in him changing every class he shared with Angela. Poor Ms. Cope was still complaining about the fit he threw when she didn't let him out of biology; he took study hall instead.
Speaking of Angela, she and Ben Cheney were well on their way to being a couple, thanks to Alice arranging a study session with them, and then conveniently forgot to show up. She was really good at the whole matchmaker thing. All I had said was that Angela need someone to make her happy, but Alice kind of had a talent for make a whole lot of something out of nothing. Even Bella had stopped trying to talk to me in biology, that just made me feel a mixture of relief and sadness. I wasn't going to focus on that right now, because it was Saturday, and I felt like celebrating. Unfortunately, my family had abandoned me.
We were all supposed to go to Port Angeles, but Jasper and Alice went to Seattle to go shopping, which meant that he was going to watch her shop and they were going to make out afterward. Rose's parent were out of town, which means that she and Emmett would be humping like rabbits all weekend. So I was left at home. The only option I had left was to go to Port Angeles, by myself.
"Been awhile," Algie greeted me with a nod as I walked through the door of the First Edition bookstore.
Algie was great, if a bit of an oddity for a small town. She was a liberal, sarcastic, open-minded adult that didn't treat me like a stupid kid. I stumbled across her bookstore once while trying to find a coffee shop. When I walked through the door, Algie took one look at me, and told me to follow her. I thought her behavior was weird, and for a second I wondered if she was coming on to me. As I followed her through the store, I quickly dismissed the idea. She came to a stop next the self-help section, and reached over to pull out a thick, soft cover book.
"What is this?" I asked.
"What you're looking for, of course." She laughed, shaking her head.
She walked back to the counter, as I stood there holding a copy of Best of the Best Lesbian Erotica.
I've stopped by the shop every weekend since that day, until lately. My recovery from the accident kept me away last weekend, that and being distracted with girls I shouldn't be thinking about, right now.
"Hey, Algie," I said, leaning against the counter. "It's not my fault that I've been scarce. I had a run in with a van."
"Is that what the kids are calling it?" she said, with a smirk. "If I had a dollar for every van that I've ran into..."
"You still couldn't afford to buy a cup of coffee," I replied, laughing as she picked up the latest featured book from the counter, and swatted me with it.
"Hey!" I continued to laugh as I snatched the book from her hands and read the title. "Vampires Desires?"
I gave her a smirk, and raised my eyebrow, waving the trashy paranormal romance at her.
"I have bills to pay," she growled, snatching the book out of my hand, and slapped it back down into display. "We just got in the new Susie Bright."
"Oh, cool," I smiled, pushing off the counter and walking toward the Erotica section, that she kept hidden in the Self-Help section of the store.
"I hope this one isn't chock full of cock, like that last one." I called over my shoulder, as I rounded the corner, and started searching the for the new title.
The door chime sounded, but I was too busy searching through the titles that I'd already bought from Algie to pay any attention to it. This whole celibacy thing was hard to keep up, but these books and the lock on my bedroom door had really helped.
"Hi," Algie greeted the customer with her cheery professional voice, and I suppressed the urge to laugh. "Can I help you?"
"Yes, I'm looking for something about, or I mean for, teenagers," Bella's unmistakable voice rang through the tiny bookstore and I suddenly felt like was having a heart attack.
"We have plenty of books for teenagers," Algie replied, and I could hear the smirk in her tone. "Are you looking for something specific?"
I crept along the bookshelf, palms sweating as I tried to make as little noise as possible.
"Um...well, I uh..." Bella sputtered, just as I was able to peek around the corner. "I was looking for something about uh...being gay."
Bella's pale skin was bright pink as she leaned across the counter. Algie had the same amused expression that she wore the first time I met her. I didn't find anything funny about this situation. I glanced at the door, which was easily five feet away. I started to slowly creep toward the exit, while Algie kept Bella busy.
"Ah," Algie said with an exaggerated exhale. "I think I have just the thing to help you. Ed, I think we need your assistance."
I had almost reached the entrance; I could see the street outside, and for a second I contemplated just making a run for it.
"Oh," Bella gasped, and I knew there was no escape.
"Yeah," I said, turning around to look at Bella who looked just as embarrassed as I felt.
"Ed, could you do me a favor and show her to the Gay YA section?" Algie said with a smirk.
She was enjoying the hell out of herself, suddenly deciding to play match maker at the worse possible time ever.
"Sure," I said with a shrug, and walked toward the back of the store, not waiting for Bella.
Algie was clever. She put this section in back corner of the store knowing that most people in a small town would be interested in the popular fiction and religious books, both of which are at the front of the store. Back here, she kept comic books, rare art books and sex education books for teenagers. I walked past the towering collection paperback collection of back issues of the X-Men to two shelves near the floor.
"Are you looking for a specific book?" I asked, trying to act casual, despite the tension in my back.
"I don't know," she whispered, kneeling down beside me. "What do you recommend?"
I could feel her body heat next to me, and I tried to ignore her denim-covered knees that were mere inches from my own. I reached over to the shelf instead. I grabbed Down to the bone, Keeping you a secret, and GLBTQ: The Survival Guide for Queer and Questioning Teens from the shelf, and handed them to Bella.
"These are a good start," I said, standing up and waited for her to get up, too.
"Thank you," she said, as she stood up and immediately stumbled.
"Bella," I blurted out, grabbing her around the waist, and we crashed into the bookshelf.
I was pressed against the warm soft body of Bella Swan, and all I could see are her huge brown eyes, plump lips and bright pink cheeks. I was inches away from her mouth. I could smell the faint floral scent coming from her thick hair.
"Edina," She sighed, covering my face with her peppermint breath.
I jerked back, putting as much distance between us as fast as I could. I stooped down to pick up the books and took them to the register.
"Oh, you found what you were looking for?" Algie asked, looking smug as she winked at me.
"Yes, harpy," I hissed, as I pulled out my wallet and paid for the books.
"Thank you, come again," Algie said, in a bright cheery voice as I pulled Bella out of the store, the bag of books in my other hand.
"Where are you parked?" I asked, stopping abruptly in front of my car, and scanning the line of cars.
"I didn't drive," she mumbled, pulling her hand from my grip, and I turned to look at her. "I got a ride with Angela and Ben."
She was staring at her feet as she talked, and I felt like a jerk.
"Where are they?" I asked, gently touching her cheek with my fingers, before I realized what I was doing.
"I'm supposed to meet them at some Italian restaurant," she said, looking up at me with that same breathtaking smile. "I don't have to, though."
"Do you want me to give you a ride home?" I asked, and immediately wondered what was wrong with me, but it was too late.
"Yes, please," she said, her smile widening and making my heart rate triple.
I guided her to the passenger door, opening it for her and stared at her legs as she slid into the passenger seat. I closed the door, took a moment to catch my breath, cursed my weakness, and regained my composure before walking over to my own door.
"You should probably tell them that you got a ride," I said, climbing into my seat, and I placed her books on the console between us.
"Done," Bella said, as she finished punching keys on her cell phone, and slid it into her pocket.
"Right," I sighed, started the car and pulled out of the space without bothering to look.
Bella screeched over the wail of honking horns, as I pushed down harder on the gas and smirked. I weaved through the traffic, continuing at my usual insane speed, which made Bella turn an impressive shade of green.
"SLOW DOWN!" She finally yelled something coherent, and batted at my arm. "I'm serious!"
"Don't distract me," I shot back at her, cutting across two lanes, and blowing past a stop sign to get on the on ramp to the highway.
"I think I'm going to be sick," she complained, and I immediately felt guilty.
"Should I pull over?" I asked, glancing over at her, and she was gave me a strange worried look as she shook her head.
"No, I'll be fine," she said, turning to look at the dashboard, and I felt even worse.
This was my problem, my mistake, and it wasn't fair to make Bella suffer for it. We rode along in silence. I watched the dark road, occasionally glancing at her beautiful profile as she stared out her window. This wasn't going to happen, I told myself. Not that it was happening, because Bella and I barely knew each other. She was just a girl I knew from school.
She was the most beautiful and interesting girl that I had ever met, who was turning from her window to stare at me. She looked at me like she was in love with me. I could see her taking stock of me as she watched me:
Scuffed black Doc Martens. Check!
Dark denim jeans, with cuffs. Check!
Oversized Sonic Youth t-shirt. Check!
Black hoodie. Check!
Nose ring. Check!
Artfully messy hair that's trying desperately to copy Johnny Depp. CHECK!
I am a walking cliché. Or driving cliché, rather. I might as well have the words baby dyke tattooed across my forehead. My whole plan to hide what I am was stupid and pointless. It was never going to work, especially when Bella Swan had me turned all around.
"I know about you," Bella broke the silence with her sweet voice.
"Anyone who's spent ten seconds with Jessica Stanley knows about me, Bella," I replied, wishing that she would let this all drop. "Is that why you went book shopping?"
"Kinda...yes," her voice had a distinct tone of guilt. "I just wanted to know more...about what it's like."
"What do you mean, what it's like?" I couldn't stop the bitter laugh from coming out. "Is this some kind of experiment for you?"
"No!" She gasped, leaning toward me. "I just...I want to..."
"We're not doing this, Bella," I cut her off, down shifting, and jam my foot down hard on the gas to push the needle past 70.
"Are you afraid?" She asked, her hand sliding over my thigh and I nearly ran off the road.
"No!" I said, yanking her hand off of my leg. "Stop fucking with me. You're not gay."
"Do I have to be?" She had a strength in her voice that I'd never heard from her.
"That's kind of how it works," I laughed, and shook my head at her insanity.
"Why?" She argued, like a crazy person. "Why can't we just like each other?"
"Bella, I am gay!" I yelled, slowing down the car and pulling to over the side of the road, before I killed us. "This isn't like dyeing your hair and dressing different. I was born this way. It's not something you just try out. This is who I am."
"I know," she was looking at me again, and I was terrified.
"I don't want to hurt you," I told her, touching her face.
"You won't," she insisted, stubbornly.
"This isn't an easy life. Bad things happen to people like me," I argued, as she put her soft fingers on my cheek.
"I don't care," she leaned in close, and all I could see was her face. "I like you, Edina."
"Ed," I sighed, closing my eyes, but I couldn't escape her. "Bella, this isn't going to work."
"How will we ever know if we don't try?" she spoke quietly, her breath brushing against my lips, and my brain screamed for me to stop.
Meanwhile, the rest of my body revolted in mutiny against my brain, begging me to give in and kiss her.
"Bella," I began to protest, but I was cut off by the feel of her lips against mine.
Nothing had ever felt as smooth, warm and delicious as Bella's mouth. I was moving my own lips over hers in a second. I slid my hands around her face, and as she leaned closer, as my heart pounded inside my chest. Then it happened: Bella's tongue slid past my lips and into my mouth. I groaned as pleasure exploded through me. She gasped, and I responded by grabbing her waist and pulling her over the console to straddle my lap. As she sat astride me, her mouth opened over mine and her hands curled into my hair.
It was like the dream, everything else in the world had been swept away. I was tumbling head over heels, falling through nothing. Suddenly the fear was gone, replaced by elation. I was falling, but not alone. Her body was my anchor, and I clung to her with all my strength, as we fell together.
I would like to thank my wonderful beta, Kimpy0464. She stressed herself, and stretched herself thin (not in a sexy way either) to get this done.
Special thanks to Chele861 being a great content beta, exchanging old war stories and supporting me every step of the way.
According to the Massachusetts 2006 Youth Risk Survey Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth are up to 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.
I hope that you liked my story. If you intend to leave a review, I would like to ask you to use that time instead to go to thetrevorproject(dot)org and read about who they are helping LGBT youth. It's up to you whether you want to support them, but never forget that for every Out and Proud LGBT adult that survived the trials of adolescence there are countless LGBT teens that never do.
Special note: Edina and Bella's story if far from over. I'm planning to release the second cycle in this series. Thanks again for reading.