The "AwkWard" Contest

Title: One Cup of Chunky Peanut Butter

Pen name: jennlynnfs

Disclaimer: Twilight belongs to Stephanie Meyer.

Rated M for some language and lemonade

To see other entries in the "AwkWard" contest, please visit the C2: www(dot)fanfiction(dot)net/community/AwkWard_Contest/78356/

Author's Note: Special thanks to sherylaf for her beta services. Thank you to manyafandom and AngstGoddess003 for hosting this contest.

April 11, 2010: One Cup won First Place People's Choice Award and is also a Judge's Pick for favorite story. Announcement made at the Lazy, Yet Discerning Ficster. For link and banner, please visit my profile.

Thank you for voting for One Cup. When I first found out, I totally didn't believe it. I'm so very honored and grateful. Thank you.

"Wait, you did what to Ben?" Bella looked at her friend in disbelief.

Angela lowered her voice. "Bella." Even though they were in the privacy of Bella's room, she was still embarrassed that they were having this conversation. "Look, you asked why things seem different between us and that's why."

"But..." She sat next to Angela on her bed. "What made did you even know how to do that?"

Angela's eyes were focused on the finger painting displayed above Bella's desk. "Cosmo."

"Angela! You don't read Cosmo. You don't even read Seventeen!"

"What's the big deal? So what? I gave Ben a hand job."

"Angela!" Charlie wasn't home, but Bella still felt weird talking about this. "'s just..."

"What? We've been going out for a month."

"Yeah, don't think that's...moving too fast?"

Angela shrugged. "I don't think so. I mean, we've been on second base for a long time."

"You let him get to second base!"

"Bella, come on. We're seniors. Is it really that surprising that we've fooled around?"

Bella looked at her friend. Angela had a similar finger painting over her own desk at home. They'd known each other for so long and now it seemed like she didn't know her friend at all.

Angela had the biggest crush on Ben Cheney since freshman year and they finally started dating this year. It'd been just over a month now since they started dating. Bella realized that this was three years in the making, so it really shouldn't be a surprise that Angela was eager to do...whatever it is they do.

Bella's eyebrow knitted together. "It's just...We've never really talked about this stuff before. I didn't know were interested in stuff like that."

Angela giggled. "Stuff like that? You're acting like I suddenly like eating bowls of worms or something."

"No, I didn't mean it like that."


Bella was starting to feel like she was losing her friend. "I don't know. I feel like everyone is in on this big secret and I have no clue what it is."

Angela's smile dimmed. "I'm sorry. I didn't bring it up before because...well, you're right. We don't talk about boys or kissing or...stuff like that."

Bella shifted in her spot.

Angela continued, "I didn't know how to bring it up. I didn't want to make you uncomfortable."

Bella gave her friend a warm smile. She was always worrying about other people's well-being before hers. "We're friends, right? We should be able to talk about anything."

Angela nodded, but didn't look at Bella.

"So, what's it like?" Bella asked with a sense of certainty she did not feel. Even though she didn't feel comfortable talking about stuff like this, Bella decided she'd be a good friend and listen since this was important to Angela.

A gentle warmth heated Angela's cheeks. "Well, things were sweet at the beginning." She remembered the hand holding and innocent caresses. "Then it got awkward for a while. I...we wanted to try more things, but..."

"What?" Bella looked at her friend.

She had her hands on her knees, her palms rubbing on the soft denim. "I wasn't sure how to...initiate things." Angela pushed forward. "Eventually, we figured things out and...well things have been moving forward since."

Bella's eyebrows shot up. "Moving forward? Like..."

Angela couldn't help smiling. "We're not quite there yet, but..." She shrugged. "It's fun trying other things."

"Fun?" Bella knew her eyebrows were probably disappearing into her hairline.

Angela rolled her eyes at her friend. "Yes, fun. Bella, haven't you ever wondered what it would be like to..."

Bella shifted in her spot. "I guess."

"What do you mean, you guess? Aren't you even a little curious?"

"I guess," she said again unsure of how exactly to respond. "It's just...It's hard for me to see how it could be fun."

It's not that Bella never thought about kissing. Her thoughts usually centered around the mechanics of kissing. She worried about if her lips would be chapped and hoped she didn't have bad breath. What if the guy had braces? What if there was food stuck in them? These were the kind of thoughts Bella had when she thought about kissing, effectively killing any ideas of how it could be fun.

"Well, it's fun when it's with someone you care about."

Bella shrugged. She really didn't think it made a difference who it was with. Bella only concerned herself with how to even try. Then she was hit with a realization. "Wait, you said that you had a hard time figuring out how to initiate things. How did you-"

"I just made the first move."

"But how did you know to-"

"I decided to take a chance."

Bella gave her friend a doubtful look. Angela never took chances.

As if reading her mind, Angela said, "What? I take chances."

Bella's eyebrow lifted. "When was the last time you took a chance on anything?"

"I..." Her mouth was opened to continued, but nothing came out.

Bella continued, "The only time you're willing to try something new is if you know you'll be good at it."

At this, Angela blushed.

"That must've been some Cosmo article. Did it have pictures too?"


She laughed.

After a moment, Angela's expression sobered. "We're friends and we trust each other right?"

Bella nodded. "Of course."

Angela's knee bounced up and down. "If I tell you something, you have to promise never to tell anyone."

Bella turned to face her friend. "What is it?"

It was another minute before Angela let out a deep breath and said, "I sort of"

"What do you mean?"

"I had help with...figuring out what to do with Ben."

"Okay." She hesitated before she said, "You didn't talk to Jessica Stanley, did you?"

"God no!"

Bella laughed.

"It was someone else."

Bella's eyes widened. "Who?"

Angela played with a loose thread on the hem of her shirt. "Edward Cullen."

Bella stood up from her bed. "What?"

She held up her hands. "Please don't say anything. Please don't tell Ben."

It was a half minute before Bella sat back down. "No, of course I won't tell anyone, but...what do you mean he helped you?"

"He gave me some advice."

Bella's eyebrows shot up. "You and Edward Cullen..."

This time Angela's eyes widened. "Nothing like that." Angela rolled her eyes at her friend. "Geez, Bella. We just talked."

"I didn't even know you knew him."

"He's in our AP Calc class."

"Yeah, but...I've never seen you talk to him."

"I talk to him."

"Hi and bye do not constitute a conversation."

Angela let out a sigh. "I had trouble with the last practice exam and Mr. Harrison said that Edward did some tutoring."

"But how do you get from tutoring in Calc to..."

Angela let out a small laugh. "Edward's very easy to talk to."


"He seemed to notice that something was up. We ended up talking about it." She tugged at a strand of hair hanging past her shoulder. "I was really worried and anxious and I probably seemed a little desperate too."

Angela continued, "So, I asked him about stuff I could do to show Ben I was interested in trying stuff."

Bella asked, "What did he say?"

She let out a small laugh. "He pretty much said anything I do, Ben well like. I couldn't mess anything up."

Bella hesitated before she said, "So, did it work?"

"Yeah, you could say that." Angela tried to keep a straight face.

They were lying side by side, then started giggling. It was still a bit surprising talking about this, but Bella found that it was nice to be able to have someone she trusted to confide in. The giggling died down and a companionable silence occupied the room.

After a moment, Bella said, "Do you still talk to Edward about..."

Angela giggled. "No, but I guess you could say we're just good friends now."

Bella giggled. Then she let out a long sigh. "I don't have any idea how to get a guy's attention, let alone make out with one. This is so depressing."

"Don't talk like that." Angela snuck a glance at Bella. "Is there a guy you're wanting attention from?"

Bella thought for a minute. "Not really."

"Really, Bella?"

"We've known all the guys at school since kindergarten."

"Not Edward."

Edward moved to Forks junior year.

"Yeah, right. I'm so not his type."

"Why not?"

"Um...he went out with Lauren Mallory."

"That was when he first moved here and he didn't know any better."

"Then he went out with Jessica Stanley."

"Again, he just moved here and didn't know."

"But, remember he dated Rosalie Hale too?"

"I don't think they did. Isn't she going out with Emmett McCarty?"

Bella shrugged. "It doesn't matter. He obviously goes for the blonde and beautiful type."

"Maybe he's ready for brunettes now," Angela said.

Bella laughed.

"Hey, I have an idea."

Bella groaned. "No."

She pushed her shoulder. "You haven't even heard it." Before Bella could refuse to listen to her idea, Angela said, "Maybe you should talk to Edward."

"What's there to talk about?"

Angela poked her elbow at her friend. "Anti-social much?"

"Ow!" Bella rubbed her side.

"He's a guy, single, and in case you haven't noticed yet, he's pretty damn hot."

Bella's eyes widened. "Angela! You're with Ben."

"I may be in a relationship, but I'm secure enough to admit when another guy is attractive," Angela said in a matter-of-fact tone.

Bella rolled her eyes.

Angela laughed. "I was going to suggest maybe you should ask him out."

"Ask him out? Um, I've never even had a boyfriend before. How do you expect me to just ask him out?"

"Okay. Maybe you should talk to him first to see if you even like him." She hesitated before she said, "Maybe you could ask him to tutor you in Calc."

"I don't need help in Calc."

"He doesn't need to know that."

Bella groaned.

"What could it hurt?"

It's only the worst humiliation ever.

"Come on, Bella. I'll even introduce you."

"He knows who I am." I think.

"Then all you have to do is say hi."


Their conversation drifted off on to other topics surrounding classes and assignments and eventually Angela went home. While Bella prepared dinner for Charlie, she thought about their whole discussion earlier. She was still in a bit of shock that Angela asked for relationship advice from Edward Cullen.

When Charlie came home, they had dinner. Bella asked how work was and Charlie responded with the usual answer of fine. He asked how school was and she went on to say it was fine, but to add some variety to the conversation, she'd add a detail about a class or an assignment.

Once dinner was finished, Charlie offered to clean up so she could get in more time to study before bedtime. She almost said she was done with her homework, but checked herself again. Instead she thanked Charlie and went upstairs.

After she got ready for bed, she lay down with a book. She was only reading for a few minutes when she got a text.

Remember. Just say hi.

Bella shut off her phone and shook her head. She returned her book to her night stand and shut her lamp off.

When she drifted off to sleep, her dreams were filled with calculus expressions and figuring out how to solve them.

* * * * *

Bella was going to kill Angela. Kill her dead.

When she showed up at school in the morning, Angela was waiting for her in their usual meeting spot in the parking lot. Ben had started joining them which was fine with Bella.

Bella's first class was history which she had with Ben. They didn't normally talk too much, but Ben was unusually chatty today. He didn't talk about anything important, but it was a little strange because Ben never made small talk.

Usually at the end of class, Ben and Bella packed their stuff and it was at that point, they parted ways, but Ben started to walk her to class. Angela wasn't in Bella's next class, but Bella knew Angela was in Ben's. She didn't understand why, but did not want to be impolite and so Bella kept walking with Ben.

When they were half way to Bella's class, Ben hesitated. He was about to say bye when Edward Cullen walked past them. Then Ben stopped Edward to ask what happened in AP English.

Bella didn't hear the conversation because she was so focused on the various ways she could cause Angela bodily harm.

The conversation between Edward and Ben was less than a minute, but it felt like forever before Edward walked off. Ben was about to walk off too, but Bella told him to tell Angela to mind her own business.

Ben's ears reddened and he ducked out before the warning bell rang.

She was glad that she didn't have any other classes with Ben or Angela, but when lunch rolled around, Bella was prepared for the worse.

However, when she got to the lunch room, Ben and Angela were no where to be seen. Bella wondered if this was Angela's way of getting her to say to hi to Edward, but figured Angela was probably behind the Home Ec building making out with Ben.

She chanced a look at where Edward was sitting and saw that a girl with dark, spiked hair was sitting with him.

Bella averted her eyes and she caught site of red hair. She moved toward Katie Marshall who was sitting with Eric Yorkie. Katie was nice and unlike Jessica or Lauren, Katie did not hiss and spit whenever she felt threatened by other females. Bella spent the rest of lunch with Katie and Eric, feeling like everyone was part of a couple except her.

When lunch was over, she said goodbye to Katie and Eric and headed to AP Calculus with dread. Since she hadn't had a chance to speak to Angela at lunch, she couldn't talk to her about possibly strangling her if she tried anything else to get her to talk to Edward Cullen.

She took her usual seat, but Angela hadn't showed up yet. She was starting to worry. Even though there was still plenty of time until the warning bell rang, Angela was usually in her seat well before.

Edward sat in the row to her left, one seat up. She didn't have to look because she could see him getting his stuff out from the periphery of her vision.

She realized that she could say hi to him right now, but Bella was so stubborn that she refused to give into Angela's advice on principle. Bella wanted to tell her so called friend to stop meddling and that she shouldn't have involved Ben either. She cringed a little realizing that Angela probably told Ben her situation, or lack there of. She imagined Angela using her logic on Ben that this was a good thing, so that Bella wouldn't feel like a third wheel.

Spock had nothing on Angela's power to yield logic for her own gain.

Stupid, sneaky, geeky best friend.

Bella thought about how ridiculous this situation was. She only had to say one word to him. Two letters. Short. Not even a sentence. Why couldn't she just say it? But just as she was about to open her mouth, she was saved the effort.

"Hey, Bella?"

She looked up and saw Edward waiting for her to respond. She sat up in her seat. "Oh. Sorry."

He held up a piece of paper to her. "Angela wanted me to come up with some practice problems for her. Would you mind giving this to her when she comes in?"

She took the paper. "Sure. I'll make sure she gets it."

Edward looked at her for a minute and then said, "Angela mentioned that you might be interested in tutoring?"

Her eyebrows shot up. No wonder she's not here. "Uh, when did she..."

"Right before lunch, after Spanish."

"Well, I-"

"I'm free after school today." There was a hint of smile tugging at the corner of his lips. "If you're interested."

The slight slant of his lips made her forget how to string words together and an incoherent sound came out of her mouth.

The bend of his lips was now accompanied by an arch of one of his eyebrows. "Bella?"

Bella blinked which helped bring her focus back. "Sure. That would be great." Her voice was too loud and a few students looked back at her. She sank in her seat.

He let out a small laugh and said, "I'll meet you in the library."

She nodded, afraid that if she said anything else that she'd make an even bigger fool of herself.

Just then, Angela arrived breathless and plopped into her seat. Bella turned to her and said, "Edward wanted me to give this to you."

She took the paper. "Oh." Angela looked at Edward. "Thank you. You didn't have to give this to me so fast."

"It's okay. It's just a few practice problems."

"Thanks, again."

He smiled and turned to face the front.

When Bella saw that Edward was talking to Tyler who sat in front of him, she asked Angela, "Where have you been?"

In a lowered voice, she said, "I was with Ben."

"This whole time?"

Angela nodded as she took stuff out.

"But what were you-" Bella stopped when she saw a red mark on Angela's neck. She then took in Angela's appearance. Her hair which was in a neat ponytail this morning was now slightly skewed to the left with a few strands poking out. The top two buttons of her blouse were undone and half of it was untucked.

Bella's eyes widened. "Angela, seriously?"

She slipped her glasses back on. "What?"

Bella gave her a pointed look and rubbed her neck.

It took a moment for Angela to realize what Bella was trying to point out and when she did she gasped and cupped her neck. "I'm going to kill Ben."

She couldn't help letting a small laugh escape her mouth. "Not if your Dad does first."

"Is it really that bad?" She tried to look, but instead let out another gasp at the buttons that were undone. Angela was quick to close up her shirt and she tried to straighten it as best she could.

Bella shook her head. "I guess things are going really well for you guys."

Despite her disheveled appearance, Angela retained a glow to her skin even though there was a soft hint of pink on her cheeks. "You could say that." Her blush deepened when Angela was looking past Bella. She then pretended to busy herself with arranging her stuff on her desk.

Bella looked to where Angela's gaze had been and saw that Edward was watching them. He had an amused expression on his face, but when he was caught by Bella, the amusement disappeared and he turned to face the front again.

The bell rang and ended any more conversation and meaningful glances.

That feeling of being left out returned. Everyone was part of some secret club and she was left out. It also seemed that Edward also found someone too based on the fact that he wasn't alone at lunch.

Bella couldn't even get excited over the tutoring session with Edward after school. They'd be in the library and it was quite possible that the dark haired girl would be joining them too.

Being single and inexperienced never bothered her before, but now Bella felt something surface inside her. She wasn't sure what the emotion was, but she couldn't help wanting someone to disappear with at lunch and to be returned to class out of breath and marked.

As the teacher lectured, Bella imagined what it would be like to have someone so close and feel their mouth on hers and then across her skin. She just saw a movie with James McAvoy where he was in love with a girl with a pig nose. It was a sweet movie, but she remembered how he kissed the girl. At the time, she had watched with polite interest, but Angela was enraptured by the kiss. In fact, she wouldn't shut up about it.

Bella wondered if Angela had ever been kissed like that. Judging by her appearance after lunch, Bella guessed like that and more.

And before Bella could stop her train of thoughts, her mind immediately replaced James McAvoy with Edward. Now, it was no longer James McAvoy and Christina Ricci she was remembering. Bella imagined Edward kissing her with the same passionate fury.

Bella shifted in her spot and forced her eyes to remain open even though they wanted to close and see the image behind her eyelids. She refused to give in. It was ridiculous to entertain such thoughts. It would never happen. It was-


Her eyes snapped open and she saw Edward in front of her.

You idiot! Why'd you close your eyes!? Close your mouth!

She spared him a glance. "Yes?"

"I have to stop at my locker before we head over to the library. Should we meet in ten minutes?"


"Okay. I'll see you in ten." He got out of his seat, grabbed his back pack and walked out.

It took a second for Bella to process the conversation before she realized that she was going to meet Edward Cullen in the library.

In ten minutes.

She heard Angela laugh. Then turned to face her. "What?"

"What were you thinking about during class?"

"Nothing." Wait, class is over?

Angela laughed again. "Right. I have to get going. Ben is giving me a ride home." She stood up. "Don't keep Edward waiting."

She watched Angela disappear through the door and then realized that she was still in her seat and everyone had filed out already.

Instead, Bella stopped at her locker to pick up some books and then ducked into the restroom to check her appearance. Once she was satisfied that the red and the sting in her cheeks were gone and left no residual effects, Bella made her way to the library.

She didn't know what to expect or what to do, but the closer she got to the library, that feeling of wanting became stronger until she saw Edward sitting at one of the tables.

When he saw her approach, Edward gave her a friendly smile and all Bella could think about was how those lips would feel on her skin.

* * * * *

It had been two weeks since she started the tutoring sessions with Edward. That first day she met Edward in the library, she was so mesmerized by his smile that she didn't even notice the dark haired girl sitting next to him.

Bella had only taken a cursory glance at them in the cafeteria that day, so she hadn't really seen the girl. However, up close, she was Edward's equal in looks. Side by side, they complemented each other really well.

While she approached them, Bella couldn't help notice the easy way they were talking to each other and when he laughed at something she said, a piece of her heart died a little.

Why hadn't she noticed the girl before? She must be new and she already caught Edward Cullen.

She thought about turning back, but realized it was a stupid idea because Edward had seen her come in. Bella stood near the table for a minute before the girl gave her a friendly smile.

Edward said, "Bella, this is my cousin, Alice Brandon."

Bella couldn't stop the grin from spreading across her face as she said hi.

From there, things were a little easier, but only by a small margin. It turned out that Alice's father was a diplomat and was going to be spending several months in South Korea. Alice was quite the talker and it was the reason why things weren't so tense. Alice seemed to help diffuse the nervous energy Bella felt whenever she was around Edward and she was glad for it.

However, by Thursday, Edward asked her to meet him in the parking lot after school. Bella wasn't sure why but followed his request.

It wasn't until she saw Alice drive off in Edward's car that she realized Alice wouldn't be there as a buffer anymore. She pushed down the wave of nervousness that threatened to roll up from her stomach into her chest.

When he suggested that they go back to her place to study so there wouldn't be any interruptions, Bella felt the wave had turned into a tsunami. She feared the force of it would obliterate her.

Bella thought that that was the moment. The moment where Edward was going to teach her lessons that did not involve a fat text book or a scientific calculator.

They took over the kitchen table.

With their books and papers.

And studied.

Studied good and hard.

When they had been studying for fifteen minutes, Bella looked up at Edward. She tried to gauge whether or not he would be flying across the table to devour her.

He caught the expression on Bella's face and misunderstood it as trepidation and held up his hands. "Don't worry, Bella. I won't try anything. I thought it would be better to study here because Alice has been a constant distraction all week."

It felt like her heart flopped on to the table like a fish out of water and eventually stopped dead due to lack of water, or in Bella's case, lack of interest from the boy sitting across from her.

They were alone in the house and he made it quite clear he had no interest to fool around with her.

Which was just as well because when Charlie came home that evening, he was surprised to see that she was home alone with a boy. But when Edward introduced himself, Charlie relaxed. When he saw that they were indeed studying, he had no further concerns about his intentions.

In fact, one of the other evenings they were studying, Charlie said he'd be coming home late and not to worry about making dinner for him. A small thrill shot up Bella's spine at the prospect that they would not be interrupted and maybe perhaps Edward would take this as a cue to initiate something. However, when she told Edward that Charlie wasn't going to be home at the usual time, he took the news with polite indifference. He stayed until his usual time and then went home.

The way things progressed between them, they weren't friends, but they were also not acquaintances either. Bella was having trouble talking to him. It wasn't like their time was spent in awkward silence. They mostly talked about homework. Sometimes about school. If she was really daring, she asked about his plans for the weekend. He never volunteered information or started any small talk.

Every time she tried to bring something up that was non-school related, he'd answer her, but would never elaborate. Bella came to the conclusion that Edward Cullen had no romantic intentions toward her whatsoever.

Bella let out a short breath.

"What's the matter?" he asked.

Bella looked up and saw the concern in his eyes. They were the color of budding leaves. Really, Bella? Budding leaves?

"You've been working on that problem for a while. You need any help?" he asked again with that same concern.

His concern was starting to grate on her nerves. She shook her head. She actually figured it out ten minutes ago, but didn't care enough to write out the answer.

Edward leaned forward as if to say something, but then shook his head and sat back in his chair.

That was new.

Bella sat up, waiting for him to say something. Anything.

He rubbed his chin and then said, "I don't think I can tutor you anymore."

She blinked several times.

The situation was hopeless.

He didn't notice the glassy look in her eyes, so he continued, "I don't think I'm helping you. You seem to get the material already, but on the practice tests I give you, you miss a lot of questions. But it's because you're making mistakes that you shouldn't be. I just..." He rubbed his chin again. "I don't think I'm a very effective tutor. Maybe you should start studying with someone who'd be better at this with you."

When he finally did look at her, Edward could feel the blood drain from his face. Her eyelids blinked at a rapid pace. Her lower lip trembled and then she sniffed. These were all tell tale signs of one of the things he feared most.

He made a girl cry.

And he had no idea why. Girls cried at the most unexpected moments. The worst part was that it was some how always the guy's fault. In this case, it was his fault.

"Bella, please don't-"

She sobbed before she got up and ran out the back door.

He ran his fingers through his hair and cursed. Edward shot out of his seat and followed Bella out the door. He saw her walking toward the forest behind her house, but not before she tripped twice on her way.

It was easy to catch up with her and when he did, he said, "Bella, wait."

She didn't stop, but he could hear her sobbing.

He reached out for her, but she tripped again.

"Damn it!" She yelled in frustration and then picked herself off the ground. Her knees had grass stains and the bottoms of her palms were splattered with dirt.

"Let's go back to the house." He tried to take her elbow, but she pulled away.

"Just...leave me alone." She turned away and started walking back to the house.

Edward ran his fingers through his hair and tugged at the ends. He let out a short breath before he started following Bella back. She seemed like such a normal girl, too.

In the past two weeks, Edward looked forward to spending time with Bella after school. She was smart and really nice. She took school very seriously, so he wanted to help her in anyway that he could. She didn't seem to need his help though, but continued to tutor her. Then he noticed that she was making mistakes on her homework and on the practice tests and he grew concerned. She easily fixed it, but he wondered why she was being so careless. He felt like he failed Bella. Perhaps he was the problem.

When he suggested that she find a new tutor, Edward believed he was doing so in her best interest. He didn't think she would take the news so badly.

They reached her porch. She stood on the second step when Edward stopped her.

"Wait, Bella." When she turned around, his brow furrowed at the forlorn expression on her face. "I'm sorry if I upset you. I didn't mean to...I just thought that I wasn't doing a very good job in helping you. I thought maybe you'd do better with someone else."

Her eyes widened at his words. "You're a really good tutor, Edward. It's not your fault. I've just been..." She shifted in her spot on the step. "I've been distracted lately."

He raised an eyebrow at her. "About what?"

She felt her cheeks grow warm. "It's...I..." She looked down at her hands. "I have to wash my hands." Then she disappeared into the house before he could ask her anything more.

He found her at the sink, her hands under running water. "Are you going to be okay?" he asked.

She nodded. "This isn't anything new. I fall down all the time."

"You do?"

Her face was warm earlier, but now it was burning. "Yeah. I'm...kind of a klutz."

He gave her a small smile. "Well, I'm glad it wasn't anything serious."

His smile set off one of her own. "This is nothing. One time I slipped down a tree and scraped the inside of my elbow." She held up her right arm and there was a jagged scar three inches long and two inches wide on the inside of her elbow.

But when she held up her arm, she didn't dry her hands first, so water slid down her forearm, past her elbow, and straight into her armpit.

"Oh crap! That's cold." She put her arm down, but was now flapping her arm, trying to blot the water from her armpit, but in the process only making a wet stain on the underarm part of her shirt.

It was bad enough that she was showing just how accident prone she was by tripping in front of him and showing Edward her scar from a previous accident. Now she felt even more stupid because she had stains on her knees and now one under her arm.

Yeah. No wonder he wanted to stop tutoring her. She was a blundering mess.

"I'm sorry." She shook her head. "I'm not usually this klutzy. I am, but I get so...I..." She looked around for a towel.

He took the one off the counter behind him and passed it to her. "It's okay." He was holding back his laughter, but the amusement could be heard in his voice.

Bella's shoulders sagged. Why? Why does God hate me so much? "I'm sorry I've wasted your time. I'm sure you had better things to do than to be with..." She held up her hands to emphasize her state of stains. "Me."

He shook his head. "No, I'm sorry that I haven't been able to help you more."

At this, she began to tear up again. If only he knew. "It's not you. You're...great. I'm just..." in a state of perpetual incompetency.

His brow furrowed. "You said you were distracted. Has something been bothering you?"

"I...I..." This was her chance. She had been waiting for an opportunity like this. She had to tread carefully.

He had an expectant look on his face. She didn't know how to tell him what she wanted. She wasn't even sure what she wanted. All of a sudden, the image of James McAvoy macking down on Christina Ricci post pig nose popped in her head.


"Kissing!" She blurted out and then quickly covered her mouth.

His eyebrows shot up. "Kissing? You've been distracted by..." His expression cleared and his tone became cautious. "What do you mean?"

Abort! Abort! Abort! There are children on this flight!

"Nothing!" She winced at her tone. Why was she yelling out her answers? She cleared her throat. "I mean...There's a boy..."

He continued to look at her with a cautious expression. "A boy?"

She nodded and tried to look convincing. Technically, there was a boy. He didn't need to know it was him. "I've been...I'm so...I can't even-" She rubbed her hand over her eyes. "He doesn't even notice me."

Edward's expression softened. "Have you tried talking to him?"

She dropped her hand, but her head hung down. "I've tried, but...he doesn't seem interested at all."

At this, his expression turned to one of disbelief. "I find that hard to believe."

She looked up at him. "No, I'm serious. I've tried talking to him and he doesn't..." She hesitated before she said, "He only talks to me when I talk to him. He doesn't volunteer anything or asks me anything either."

"Well, what do you say to him?"

She let out a frustrated sigh. "It doesn't matter. He's not interested."

He pushed himself off the counter and took a step to her. "Maybe he just needs some kind of clue that you're interested in him."

Bella's attention perked up at this. "A clue? Like what?"

He shrugged. "What do girls normally do to get a guy's attention?"

She groaned. "If I knew, then I wouldn't be in this situation."

He let out a small laugh. "Just be yourself, Bella."

She crossed her arms. "I am and it's obviously not working."

"Then he's obviously not worth it."

She felt something inside her flutter at the low quality of his voice and the intensity in his expression. "I just...I want to know what it feels like to have someone...want me."

She couldn't believe she just admitted that. Out loud. To Edward. Where did that come from? When he looked at her like that, she felt compelled to tell him anything. If he asked the right questions, she would tell him Renee's prized cherry pie recipe.

The intensity of his expression darkened. "You have no idea, do you?"

Her heart took residence in her throat and made it difficult for her to speak. "No idea about what?"

He reached up and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "You...Any guy would be happy to take my place right now."

Her eyebrows shot up. "No, I don't think so."

He couldn't help letting a small laugh escape at the certainty of her tone. "Why are you so sure?"

"Because no one's ever..." She felt her face grow warm. "No one's ever asked me out or...anything like that."

Before Edward could say anything, the kitchen phone rang.

Bella went to answer it. "Hello?" She shot a look at Edward. "Oh, okay, Dad. I'll see you in a bit."

She hung up the phone and turned to look at Edward. "My Dad was just calling to say he was running late, but he'll be home for dinner."

"Oh, right." He looked at his watch and realized Alice was also running late picking him up. But just as the thought crossed his mind, he heard the familiar two beep tap of his car horn. "That's Alice."

He packed his things and Bella cleared the table for dinner. Once he was set, Bella followed him to the door as per the routine. Except this time, he stopped before she could open it.

He turned to face her. "Bella?"

The unexpected proximity of his body to hers made her body grow warm. She looked up at him but could focus only on the line of his jaw. "Yeah?"

He struggled with several things to say, but only managed to say, "I'll see you tomorrow at school."

Then he pressed his lips on her forehead.

He was gone before she could react. Once she came out of the daze, she moved through the door to see the tail lights of his car as it turned off her street.

Edward Cullen kissed her. Well, not the way she had been imagining, but it counted, right?

* * * * *

"No, Bella. That does not count," Angela said.

Bella groaned and flopped back on her bed. Her phone was nestled in the crook between her neck and shoulder.

" nice." Bella let out a sigh. She could still remember the softness of his lips pressed against her skin.

"If you think that was nice, wait until you feel him kissing you in other places," Angela said.

"Angela! Don't even go there." She cringed. It was one thing to think about it, but an entirely different matter to talk about it.

She ignored Bella's plea. "Don't act like you've never thought about it. I'm sure you've imagined him kissing-"

"No, stop. Don't even-"

"Bella, do you like Edward?"

"Angela, I..."

"Come on. It's just me and you here."

Bella shifted on her bed and flipped on her stomach. She remembered the way they stood so close together in the kitchen and the way he looked at her, telling her that any guy would like to be in his place. "I do. I like Edward."

She could hear Angela let out a long sigh. "Finally."

"What do you mean by finally?"

"I mean, finally someone's caught your eye."

Bella rolled her eyes even though her friend couldn't see her. "Whatever. But it's not like anything's going to happen."

"Why not?"

"I was practically telling him how I felt and he still didn't get it."

"What do you mean?"

Bella proceeded to tell Angela about her conversation with Edward and also included the tripping and the armpit drip.

Angela's laugh echoed through the phone. "Only you, Bella."

She let out a huff. "It's like my awkwardness factor goes up a million points when he's around. I'm safe if we only talk about Calc."

"That's no fun."

"I know. So, what do I do?"

" know, I'm probably not the best person to ask advice about this. You know how long it took me and Ben to get together and that was only because I had to ask him out."

Bella groaned and laid her head on her bed. "So, I'm pretty much screwed."

"We'll think of something." There was rustling in the background. "I have to go. My mom needs help with my brothers."

They said their goodbyes. Bella didn't feel so assured. She hoped that they could come up with something, but Bella wasn't holding her breath for any answers soon.

* * * * *

Bella searched the cafeteria for Angela. She was hoping they could talk a little more about what to do about Edward, but she was no where to be found. Again.

She scoffed. What the hell? They can't keep their hands off each other for thirty minutes?

She was just about to go eat outside, when a slight figure crept beside her.

"Hey, Bella."

She looked to her left. "Oh, hey, Alice." If Alice was here that meant-

"I had a question for you." Before Bella could answer, Alice took her by the elbow and guided her toward a table.

"Uh, okay." There wasn't anyone at the table and Bella couldn't help feeling slightly relieved, but mostly disappointed.

"How are the tutoring sessions going with Edward?" She sat across from Bella and started picking at a salad she had brought with her.

She shifted in her spot. "Fine."

Alice raised an eyebrow at her. "Edward is really good at math and that kind of stuff. He's helped me out a few times. You don't find him helpful?"

Bella's eyes widened. "Yes, he's very good. I just...he...I've just been distracted." Bella's eyes were quick to shift around. "Why? What did he tell you?"

She shrugged. "Nothing. He doesn't talk about his tutoring sessions." Alice leaned closer. "Why? Did something happen?"

"No!" And Yelling Bella was back. She winced and felt a million eyes on her. She lowered her voice. "I mean, no. Nothing happened. We That's all."

Alice tilted her head to the side. "So, do you want there to be something more than studying?"

"No!" She shrieked. Then felt her face burn.

Alice's eyebrows shot up.

Bella let out a short breath, feeling defeated. "Look, nothing's going on with your cousin. He just helps me with Calc. That's all. That's all that will ever be."

Alice studied Bella's face and after a moment, she said, "If that's how you're going to be, fine." She rolled her shoulders back. "You guys are going to study at Edward's house today."

Bella's brow furrowed. "Wait, what? Why?"

Alice gave her a wide smile. "It'll be fun."

Bella shrank back at Alice's expression.

"I'll just let Edward know that you're coming over." Then Alice proceeded to eat lunch and talk about the English essay due which she thought was unfair since she just enrolled.

Bella was stunned and if she was honest a little scared. Where the hell was Angela?

* * * * *

"Alice, we're supposed to be studying!" Edward called after them.

Alice tugged on Bella's arm and lead her upstairs. Bella looked back at Edward with a fearful expression. He only offered her a half smile before he disappeared from her view.

Alice called over her shoulder. "We won't be long!" Then they disappeared into her room.

Alice shut the door and lead Bella to the en suite bathroom.

Bella asked, "You have your own bathroom?"

Alice brought Bella in and had her sit on a padded stool. "Well, yeah."

Bella let out a small laugh. It quickly died when she saw Alice pulling out several things from a purple cloth bag. "What are you going to do?"

This time it was Alice's turn to laugh. "You sound like we're in a horror movie or something."

"Look, Alice. I'm not sure what brought this on. We don't really know each other and...well, you're kind of scaring me."

Alice turned to look at Bella. "I just want to help you."

"Help me with what?"

"Help you with..." She turned back around to pick something up. When she faced Bella again, she held up a pair of tweezers. "It's been bugging me since we've met."

Bella shifted on the stool. "What?"

Alice gave her a determined look. "You really need some maintenance done."

While Alice came forward, Bella leaned back. "What are you going to do with those?"

Alice held up her hands. "I'm just going to clean up your eyebrows."

Bella touched her eyebrows. With a hurt tone, she said, "What's wrong with them?"

"Nothing's wrong. They're just...they need to be shaped a little." Alice lifted Bella's chin up. "Trust me. You have really expressive eyes and this will just add more to them."

"Add more?"

Alice reached over on the vanity counter to get an eyebrow brush and then handed Bella a mirror. "Use this to brush your eyebrows."

Bella thought it was silly, but the look on Alice's face told her she better do it. She took the tiny brush from her. She held up the mirror and hesitated before she brushed it over her eyebrows.

Alice told her to look in the mirror. "Now, see how much better that looks?"

Bella didn't see much of a difference, but she went along with it. "Okay."

Alice held up the tweezers. "Now, I want you to pluck the stray hairs. Anything below your eyebrows, but above your eyelids."

Bella hesitated before she took the tweezers. She held up the mirror again and when she found a stray hair, she tugged. "Motherfucker!"

Alice giggled.

Bella felt her face grow warm from her outburst. "That hurt!"

"Come on. It was just one and you'll get used to it." Alice raised an eyebrow. "Don't you want to have more expressive eyes? It'll be hard for a guy to look away."

Bella's brow furrowed. "Because I pluck my eyebrows?"

Alice shook her head. "That will be just part of it. There are other things we need to do."

Bella groaned. "I don't know, Alice."

"Trust me, okay. The sooner you do this, the sooner you can go back to studying with Edward."

"Fine." Bella went ahead and began plucking. It still hurt. She didn't know what Alice was talking about. Then Alice did some more plucking between her eyebrows and then all of a sudden her eyebrows had a slight arch to them. "Whoa."

"See." Alice passed a blue eye mask to Bella. "Put this on while I do your hair. It'll help with the swelling."

Bella put it on and then asked, "And what are you going to do to my hair?"

"Nothing that you should already know how to do." Alice plugged in her hair dryer and rummaged around a drawer and found a round brush. "I'm going to show you how to blow dry your hair."

"But, why do I have to-"

Alice freed Bella's hair from its ponytail. "Guys like it when girls wear their hair down."

Bella sighed and pressed the eye mask over her eyes. She looked through the eye holes and watched as Alice styled her hair. She didn't think she'd be able to do it herself, but then Alice had Bella try some sections herself. Bella put the eye mask down and tried. The first few times didn't work, but with Alice's direction, it got easier.

Once they were done, Alice showed her how to use an eyelash curler which Bella thought wasn't actually that bad. When Alice tried to get her to put lip gloss on, Bella refused. So they compromised, and Bella put on lip balm.

"We'll save the make-up lesson for another time," Alice said.

Bella wasn't sure if she was up for that, but when she looked at the full size mirror, she was surprised at the difference in her appearance. They really didn't do much, but Alice was right. Her eyes were more expressive and her hair was shiny and bouncy.

Alice laughed at Bella's reaction. "See? It doesn't take much effort to look presentable."

Bella wondered what she looked like before. She hadn't really thought much about her appearance. Maybe that was part of the problem.

Seeing the frown on Bella's face, Alice said, "I didn't mean that you looked bad before. You're pretty, Bella. But with just a little effort, you could be a knock out."

Bella laughed. "I highly doubt it."

Alice turned Bella to face her. She studied Bella's clothes for a second before she reached up and undid the top three buttons of Bella's flannel shirt.

"Alice?" She was about to button them up when Alice swatted her hand away. Then Alice stepped behind Bella and bunched the material at her waist. She took Bella's hair tie and wrapped it around the excess material.

"Alice! What are you doing?"

"What? You're still wearing your own clothes right?"

She was, but she looked different. She looked...

"You look fabulous," Alice said.

Bella bit her bottom lip.

"Now, until we can get some proper clothes for you and I can show you how to apply lip gloss, this will have to do for now."

Bella turned to face Alice. "Why are you doing this?"

Alice gave her a sunny smile. "Why shouldn't I?"

"Because you hardly know me?"

"Bella, I have a feeling we're going to become really good friends."

"Okay." Bella couldn't help smiling. "That would be nice."

They left Alice's bathroom, but before Bella left her bedroom, Alice stopped her. "Bella, if you start to get nervous, just think of something that calms you."

Bella's brow furrowed. "Like what?"

Alice shrugged. "Don't tell Edward this, but I like figuring out percentages in my head."


"Yeah, like twenty percent off one hundred. It helps me focus and figure out how much something is on sale."

Bella smiled. "Okay. I'll try to remember that." She left Alice's room and managed to stumble down the stairs only once. She had left Edward in the kitchen and decided to check there first.

She found Edward seated at the kitchen table. His back was facing her and his head was bent over a book. He must've heard her walk in because without looking up, he said, "I made up some practice problems for you."

Bella took the seat across from him and he slid the paper to her. She took her stuff out and proceeded to complete the problems. When she was finished, she slid the paper back to him.

Edward rested his forehead on his hand while he read. When the paper was slid back to him, he put his hand down so that his fingers could track the words on the page. When he stopped reading, he left his finger on the page and reached for the paper with his other hand.

"That was fast. Are you sure you didn't rush-" Edward looked up and was stunned by what he saw.

Bella thought about Grandma Swan's recipe for chicken and dumplings. The way Edward's eyes raked over her face and hair made her heart flutter, but she remembered what Alice said and focused on measurements and ingredients. She was surprised that it helped and after a moment, she was able to say, "Is something the matter?"

Edward swallowed. "Uh, no. Nothing. It's just-" He waved his hand, gesturing to her hair. "Your hair is...long."

Bella touched the ends of a strand that hung over one of her shoulders. "Uh, yeah." She hesitated before she said, "Alice said...She thought my hair would look nice this way."

His eyes narrowed briefly before he cleared his expression and gave her a small smile. "It does look nice that way."

She couldn't help the wide grin that spread across her face.

Edward's eyes widened at the expression on her face. He wasn't used to her directing that kind of attention toward him. He cleared his throat and looked down at the paper she passed him. "Hmm...looks like you got them all right." He raised an eyebrow at her. "Are you sure you need my help?"

It was meant as a teasing remark, but Bella thought maybe he realized she had been faking the whole time. "Oh, well, I..."

"Is there anything else you need help with?"

Even though he was being helpful, Bella couldn't help her body's reaction to his offer. She felt her body grow warm. She looked away and started reciting the ingredients for lasagna in her head.


After a second, Bella said, "Well, there was this one problem I was having trouble with earlier today in class." She sent up a silent thanks to Alice for teaching her that trick. Who knows what she might have blurted out? She opened her textbook to the lesson they covered in class.

Bella slid the book so that they both could see it and pointed out the problem. Edward read over it and he started explaining the steps to solve it. She leaned closer to see the problem better, but then Edward stopped.

She looked up at Edward who had an expression on his face that she didn't recognize. "Is something wrong?"

His eyes lingered on her cheeks and then made their way up her face until he was looking at her with an intense expression.

He wasn't touching her, but Bella felt like he might as well have been with the way his eyes took her in. Her breath became unsteady and when he leaned closer, Bella thought she was going to pass out. She tried focusing on her mom's recipe for peanut butter cookies, but completely lost it at two and a half cups of flour when he lowered his mouth next to her ear.

His voice was low. "You look really...good."

Bella's eyes traced the words on the page of her book. "Thank you. It was Alice-"

"No, it's you."

She swallowed hard at the way his breath tickled the skin behind her ear. "You never noticed before."

"I did." He hesitated and then pulled away enough so that he could look at her. "It's just that you always had your hair up."

She could feel his eyes boring into her, but she didn't have the courage to look up at him. Instead, she kept her attention focused on her book. "If it bothers you, I can-"

"It doesn't bother me."

"Okay." They sat there leaned toward each other for another minute. She recited the peanut butter cookie ingredients list again in her head.

Edward leaned back. "You should try solving that problem."

She nodded, trying to hide her disappointment. She wasn't brave enough to look at him and yet she couldn't help kicking herself for not doing so. She wondered what she would've seen.

She brought the book closer to her so she could see the problem. She copied it onto her paper and tried focusing on the numbers and figuring out the solution. The numbers were starting to dance on her paper and she felt herself losing focus. Frustration was building in the pit of her stomach.

Bella let out a long sigh and ran her fingers through her hair. It was soothing, so she closed her eyes and ran her fingers through her hair again. She was going to repeat the gesture when she heard the sound of a chair scraping.

Bella's eyes snapped open to see Edward stand up abruptly. "I'm going to get something to drink. You want anything?"

He turned away before she could answer. He went across the kitchen and went to the fridge. His back faced her and he stood there for a minute, looking for something to drink.

Bella stood up and followed him. She was standing behind him. "What do you have to drink?"

His shoulders tensed. "We, uh..." Edward turned to face her, letting her see what was in the fridge.

She stepped forward to grab a can of Coke, but Edward twisted and bumped into the refrigerator door.

"Are you okay?" she asked.

"I'm fine," he said a bit too loud. He cleared his throat. "I could've gotten that for you."

They were standing in front of each other now. Bella was looking up at him. "I got it." She reached in and picked up the Coke.

When she leaned forward, Edward let out a short breath. When they were sitting, he had noticed the top three buttons of her shirt were undone. He thought it was a mistake, but when she mentioned Alice, he knew it wasn't. He was distracted by the column of her throat and the way her shirt opened into a V, pointing at what was underneath.

Now that they were standing and she was directly in front of him, there were no more hints as to what was under her shirt. It was white with a bit of lace. He wanted to both kill and thank Alice for this, but at the moment, if he could just make sure the situation in his pants didn't get out of control, it would be a small miracle.

She smiled at him before returning to her place at the table. His eyes followed her and his mouth fell open just a little when he saw that her shirt was bunched up in the back and he could see the curves of her hips and backside. He shook his head, trying to clear his mind of the fog it was in. The changes in her appearance were subtle, but they were there.

He was telling the truth that he had noticed Bella before, but she was so shy and reserved. She wasn't unattractive, but rather pretty in a girl-next-door kind of way. He was also being honest when he said that any guy would like to take his place. He had heard some of the crude talk from some of the guys in the locker room. He had heard Bella described as a nice girl, but behind closed doors, she was probably a freak.

He didn't know what to expect when Angela mentioned Bella needed tutoring. But, being Angela's friend, Edward should've known that Bella would genuinely be a nice person. Bella kept their conversations to school related stuff. He thought it was nice that she didn't engage in talk about gossip or chatter away about some reality television show.

He had been pleased that she was genuinely interested in studying. Unlike some of the other girls at school who used it as a guise for other things. He didn't mind the flirting or the attention, but after the disasters of Lauren and Jessica, Edward was a little wary about dating anyone.

So, he found a nice sense of comfort and routine whenever he met with Bella. It was predictable and even pleasant. He realized that maybe she didn't need his help so much anymore.

When he brought it up, he was surprised by her reaction. It was nothing like he expected and when he brought up that she did seem distracted, he was further surprised that it was because of a boy.

Feelings he didn't recognize welled up inside of him and for the first time, he wanted to punch whoever the asshat was for upsetting Bella so much. But if he was honest, he was also a little jealous.

And that shocked the hell out of him. He had never been jealous of anyone before.

Then when Bella said that she wanted to know what it felt like to be wanted, Edward almost fell over himself. How could she not know? She was completely unaware of her appeal and he felt himself fall for her even more.

He wanted to kiss her. It seemed like what the moment called for, but he held himself back. She was crying over another boy. Judging how upset Bella was over this boy and how much she wanted him to notice her, Edward had a feeling that once she got this boy's attention, Bella would be insatiable.

God help the poor bastard.

But now, whatever Alice did to Bella, he couldn't help wanting to be that poor bastard. To have her looking up at him, only him like he was the only one who mattered; to be able to run his fingers through her hair because she liked it; to be able to bury his face into the crook of her neck to feel the softness there, he found himself wanting all those things.

She had been sitting in front of him for the last two weeks and after one afternoon with Alice, all of a sudden he couldn't stop looking at her. He felt like a douche, but he was seventeen. He was still working on the whole concept of inner beauty and all that shit. His mother would slap him upside the head if she ever found out.


He snapped out of his daze. How long had he been standing in front of the fridge with the door open? He grabbed a can of Coke and shut the door.

When he returned to the table, Alice entered the kitchen. "How's the studying going?"

Bella smiled. "I'm just finishing up this problem that Edward helped me with."

Alice reached in the fridge for a bottled water and joined them at the table. "I was wondering, what are your plans for this weekend, Bella?"

Edward narrowed his eyes at his cousin, but Alice ignored him.

Bella shrugged. "I think Angela was going to sleep over Friday and we were just going to hang out and watch some movies."

Alice grinned. "You guys should come over here."

Bella shifted in her spot. "Oh, I don't know. We..."

"Besides, Edward's mom won't mind. She's been worried that I haven't been making friends at school." She leveled a look at Edward. "Right, Edward?"

Edward scowled at her.

Alice let out a small laugh. "Oh! And I could show you what we talked about earlier. We'll need to do some shopping." Alice clapped. "It's going to be so much fun." Alice walked away without waiting for Bella to respond, planning the evening for them.

Bella looked at Edward with a shocked expression. Then she said, "Is she always like that?"

He couldn't help smiling. "Yeah. You get used to it though."

She shook her head. "I don't see how you could."

"Listen, you don't have to...Alice can be pushy some times. I can tell her-"

She waved her hand. "Don't worry about it. I have a feeling that if I don't agree with her, it'll just make things worse."

He let out a small laugh. "True."

After a moment, she asked, "What are your plans for Friday night?"

He leaned forward with his elbows on the table. "I don't have any."

She arched an eyebrow at him. "Not even a date?"

He shook his head and returned her expression. "Why? Are you offering?"

Her cheeks heated up. "I-" Two and a half cups of flour. One teaspoon of baking powder. Half a teaspoon of salt. "Well, maybe you a movie with us. If you don't have any other plans." One and a half teaspoons of baking soda. One cup of brown sugar. One cup of white sugar. One cup of unsalted butter. "I'd like it if you could." One cup of chunky peanut butter.

Edward stared at her. His mouth was partly open.

She was quick to backtrack. "You don't have to though." One cup of chunky peanut butter. "I totally understand if you're keeping your plans open for something else." One cup of chunky peanut butter. One cup of chunky peanut butter. One cup of chunky peanut butter.


Edward shook his head. "Oh, no. I'm not-Nothing else will come up." He gave her a small smile. "I'd like to watch a movie with you." He rubbed the back of his neck. "And Alice and Angela."

Bake at 375 for about ten minutes. "Okay." She smiled.

"Okay." He returned her smile.

They returned their attention back to their homework. They snuck glances at the other person from time to time and when the other person got caught. They smiled and dropped their eyes back down to whatever they were doing. They were so engrossed with playing tag with their eyes that they didn't realize that Edward's mom had entered the kitchen to start dinner.

Edward made introductions and then his mom asked if she was staying for dinner. Bella politely declined, stating that she had to get home and make dinner for her dad.

Bella packed her stuff up and called a goodbye to Alice. She called out bye to Bella, but didn't come down. Edward figured she must be planning out their pajamas for Friday night. Bella wore a worried expression, but when she saw the amusement in Edward's eyes, she couldn't help laughing.

When they reached her truck, Bella put her stuff in the passenger side and then walked to the driver's side. Edward followed and they stood next to her car. Bella shifted from one foot to the other and Edward shoved his hands in his pocket.

Before they could say anything, the front door screen slammed open and Alice stood in the doorway. "Oh! Before I forget, we're going to pick you up in the morning. There's a few things I want to try out before we get to school."

Bella's brow furrowed. "Try out what?"

Alice held up a picture that looked like it was torn out of a magazine. "I think this hairstyle will look fabulous on you."

Bella narrowed her eyes, but couldn't see what she was talking about. "Okay."

"Make sure to wash your hair tonight, so that it'll be clean for tomorrow. We'll be there around 6:30."

Edward bristled. "6:30?"

Alice ignored him. "Oh, and do you have anything blue?"

"Blue?" she asked.

"Never mind. I'll find something." Then she disappeared into the house without another word.

Bella looked at Edward. "What was that about?"

He gave her an apologetic look. "It seems Alice has found a project."

It took a minute for his meaning to sink in and Bella groaned. Then she said, "Did you...does Alice know about what we talked about the other day?"

His eyes widened. "No, I didn't say anything." He thought back to that day when he came home and he couldn't remember saying anything about what happened. In fact, when Alice asked him how tutoring went, instead of saying it was fine like he usually did, Edward made it a point not to say anything and disappeared into his room.

She held her car key in one hand while she gestured with the other."Well, thanks for helping with my homework."

He lifted one shoulder up and then down. "No worries."

"I guess I'll see you in the morning."

He nodded.

She shifted in her spot. He looked like he was going to say something, but when he didn't, Bella turned to get inside of her car.

She had her hand on the handle when she heard him say, "Bella?"

She turned around and gave him an expectant look.

He ran his fingers through his hair. After a moment, he said, "Whatever happened with...that guy?"

Her brow furrowed. "Guy?"

He let out a short breath. "The one you...the one you've been trying to talk to. Has he..."

Her eyebrows shot up. "Oh. Uh..." She let out a small laugh. "I think things are getting better."

He couldn't help the frown that pulled on his lips. "Oh."

Her expression softened. "Why?"

"No reason." He said a bit too quick. He hesitated before he said, "Well, I just hope he's a nice guy. Because you deserve someone who's nice. Because you're really nice and you should be with someone who's nice too." He cringed.

She couldn't help the giggle that escaped.

He dragged his fingers through his hair again and tugged at the ends. "But if he hurts you or anything, then I can kick his ass for you. Because I'd do that for you."

This time she bit her bottom lip to stop from giggling again. When she was sure that the giggles were gone, she said, "That's the sweetest thing that anyone's ever said to me."

This time she let out a small laugh when she saw his cheeks turn pink. She took a step forward and pressed her lips to his cheek.

"Thanks, Edward." She got in her truck and waved before she pulled out of his driveway and drove home.

Edward waved back and watched as her truck disappeared around the corner. When he turned to walk back to the house, Alice was standing in the doorway again.

"Christ! How long have you been standing there?"

She wore a knowing smile. "Just a little while."

Edward walked up the porch and passed her in the doorway.

Alice followed him upstairs. "So, what did you think of Bella?"

"What do you mean?"

"Didn't she look...nice?"

He grunted.

"I'm so excited that she and Angela will be spending the night on Friday. It's been so long since I've been able to just hang out with girls like this."

Edward didn't say anything and walked into his room. Before he could close his door, Alice occupied his doorway. "I hope it's okay that they're staying over. We'll try to stay out of your way."

"Bella invited me to watch a movie." He blurted out and then regretted what he said when Alice's face lit up.

"She did?"

"I mean, to watch with you guys."

"Hmm...definitely a romantic comedy then."

He groaned.

"I'm going to go talk to your mom about it. I'm sure she's going to be just as excited as I am."

He rolled his eyes and then shut the door when she disappeared down stairs.

Edward flopped back on his bed and draped his arm over his eyes. He didn't like admitting to Alice that Bella spending the night on Friday made him happy. He thought about spending some time with her that didn't have to do with studying and a small smile spread across his lips when he remembered the way her lips brushed against his cheek and hoped there would be more of that to come on Friday.

Too bad it was only Monday.

* * * * *

To say that the rest of the week flew by would be wishful thinking. The only thing that made the days bearable were the tutoring sessions they had together, but as the days progressed, Alice commandeered more of that time to get to know her friend.

Although it gave Bella and Alice an opportunity to get to know each other better, it was frustrating for Edward. His routine was interrupted and if he was honest, he didn't like that he didn't get to spend as much time with Bella as he'd like.

Even Angela was noticing the difference in Bella's appearance and her tendency toward awkward situations had lessened. When Angela commented on it, Bella merely shrugged it off and said that she did feel different, but that she liked it.

Ever since that first day when Alice showed her that just a little care in her appearance made a difference and that Edward had also noticed the difference, Bella made it a point to put some effort into looking nice. She still shied away from the make up lessons that Alice kept wanting to give, but the simple tasks of making sure her eyebrows were groomed, curling her eyelashes, blow drying her hair and leaving it down, and making sure to moisturize her lips seemed to improve not only her appearance, but how she felt about herself. She didn't feel as awkward and based on the reception of the other boys, she had a feeling that they appreciated it too.

Then the issue of clothes came up. Alice had all these ideas for different styles to wear, but Bella immediately shut them down. Bella didn't feel comfortable in any of the new styles and she didn't have the money to buy a new wardrobe. So, they both compromised. Bella still got to wear things she liked, but Alice insisted that she wear sizes that flattered her body type.

On a trip to Port Angeles after school on Tuesday, Bella, Alice, and Angela went shopping for a few items that Alice referred to as the basics.

Alice said, "Just because you live in the Pacific Northwest, doesn't mean you have to look like you do."

So instead of the jeans that were baggy and two sizes too big, Alice had her buy a pair of skinny jeans in Bella's size. Instead of wearing her father's flannel shirts, Bella bought flannel shirts she found in the juniors' section. Instead of t-shirts that were clearly Charlie's old ones, Bella bought some new ones including a few band shirts in her size. When they found a Victoria's Secret store, Angela practically ran inside, but Alice had to drag Bella in.

"I don't need anything in here," Bella protested.

"They have pajamas here too." Alice gave her a pointed look. "Remember you're sleeping over on Friday."

At that comment, Bella walked in willingly and was complacent the rest of the time while they were in the store.

Wednesday, Alice went over Bella's house and she proceeded to teach Bella and Angela how to use mascara and lip gloss. She also showed them how to curl their hair with a flat iron. Bella wasn't sure about this particular change. Angela loved it. When Edward came to pick up Alice, Alice made it a point that he wait in the car. Bella was a little disappointed, but Alice assured her that they should wait for the full effect the next day at school. Whatever that meant.

Bella didn't know what to expect, but she wasn't expecting this.

When she showed up with Angela the next day, Angela went off with Ben who couldn't seem to take his eyes off her. That was nothing new, but when they disappeared behind the Home Ec building, she couldn't help laughing.

She found Alice standing with Edward near his car. She smiled at them in greeting, but Edward had an expression she didn't know. It took him a minute to say hi and then he gave her a small smile.

Alice and Bella's first class were on the same floor, so they started walking. However, Edward followed them. He walked next to Bella and when Bella looked at Alice with confusion, Alice shrugged, but had a small smile on her face.

Bella was about to tell Edward that he might be late since his class was in the next building over, but she almost yelped when she felt a jolt and then his hand on the small of her back while they walked together.

While they walked in silence, Bella thought about her mom's peanut butter cookie recipe to fight off the nervousness and prevent any awkward incidents that would normally occur in situations like this.

When they got to her class, Edward said he'd see her later and left. She thought it was sweet he walked her to class, but when she asked Alice if she put him up to it, she said no.

Bella couldn't wait to see him again. She thought the soonest would be at lunch, but didn't get her hopes up. Sometimes he sat with his friend Emmett McCarty. She settled for seeing him at the end of the day in AP Calc and hoped that Alice didn't have other plans for them after school. She missed their tutoring sessions.

She was surprised that when class ended and she walked out that Edward was waiting for her. Her smile stretched across her face before she could stop it. Edward gave her a shy one.

He asked, "Is it okay if I walk you to your next class?"

She nodded and they started walking. She felt his hand on the small of her back again, but since she was hoping for it, she was prepared and felt a pleasant hum at the sensation of him touching her.

When that class ended, he was there again and they walked to her next class. He walked her to every class and at lunch they sat with Alice and even Angela and Ben were present. She didn't know what they talked about because she was distracted by how close Edward sat next to her and then his knee bumped against her thigh. He looked at her with that shy look and apologized. When she said it was okay and that she didn't mind, he gave her that soft smile again and returned his attention to the conversation he was having with Ben. After another second though, she felt his knee against her thigh again, but this time he didn't move it.

Their bodies might as well have been pressed up against each other for all that it was worth. Bella's body was humming again at the contact and she realized that she really would like him to touch her more.

Oh my God! I'm a perv. And I don't care!

After lunch, they walked to class together. They walked side by side and Bella was waiting for his hand on the small on her back, but when it didn't happen she felt a little disappointed. Then she felt his fingers brush her hand. The surprise on her face was evident and Edward was quick to apologize and instead laid his hand on the small of her back.

Did he just try to hold my hand?

They entered class and took their seats without another word. It was difficult focusing on the lesson and when the teacher would stop lecturing for just a moment, Edward would look back at her and smile. She couldn't help returning the smile and when the teacher would continue talking, it was another second before he returned his attention back to the front and then Bella could breathe.

A slip of paper came across her desk. She opened it and stifled a giggle when she recognized her best friend's handwriting.

Okay. So, have your fun bags had any fun yet?

Bella hid the paper in her backpack and shook her head no to her friend. Angela rolled her eyes and mouthed, Why not?

Bella's eyes widened.

Angela gave her a pointed look, waiting for an answer.

Bella looked away. Then after half a minute, she tapped her lips gently with the back of her fist and shook her head.

When they were twelve, they used to practice kissing on the back of their fists.

"Are you serious?" It was meant to be a whisper, but Angela's voice carried over to the people in front of them. The disbelief in her tone was apparent even to them.

Bella's eyes widened and she held up her hands. She mouthed the words, Shut up!

Then she returned her attention back to the front, but saw that Edward had been watching their conversation. He had a mild look of confusion on his face and looked from her to Angela for answers. Angela covered her hand to muffle the giggle that threatened to escape and Bella sank further down in her seat.

Another paper slid across her desk from Angela.

Are you telling me that Edward hasn't kissed you yet?!

Bella closed her eyes and shook her head and then hid the paper in her backpack with the other. When she looked at her friend, Angela had her cell phone under the desk and was texting.

Bella whispered, "What are you doing?"

Angela finished typing and put her phone away.

The teacher's voice got louder which made both the girls look up. He gave them both a pointed look which meant he noticed they weren't paying attention.

For the rest of the class period, both of them paid attention. Bella would catch Edward looking back at her with a look of concern. She gave him a small smile which seemed to appease him, but he still seemed worried.

Angela never texted in class and Bella wondered what could be so important that she would do it.

At the end of class, before Bella could ask who Angela texted, the teacher asked Bella to stay behind. Angela gave her an apologetic look before she left.

Bella let out a frustrated sigh and walked to the front.

She shifted in her spot. "Mr. Harrison, I'm sorry if I was being disruptive. It won't happen again."

He gave her a long look before he said, "Yes, well, I hope not. I'd hate to see your work suffer for it."

She nodded.

"The AP exam is coming up soon and we're going to have a cumulative test before it. You seem to be doing okay, but will you be ready for the exam?"

She nodded.

"Edward mentioned that you've been meeting with him to get some tutoring done. I think that's a good idea."

Her eyes widened. "Oh, yeah. He's been really helpful."

Mr. Harrison looked passed her shoulder. "How has she been doing, Edward?"

Bella froze. She didn't know Edward was still here.

"She's doing fine, Mr. Harrison. Honestly, I don't think she needs me."

Bella's face fell a little at his comment.

Mr. Harrison studied both of them for a moment. "Well, if Bella keeps talking to Angela in class, she may need all the help she can get."

Bella looked down and felt her face burn.

He continued, "I think you should keep up with the tutoring. Miss one concept and you might have a hard time with everything else."

Bella nodded and Mr. Harrison returned his attention to a stack of papers, effectively dismissing them.

She went back to her seat and packed up her stuff, having the presence of mind to keep the notes hidden. She walked out and Edward followed her.

Once they were in the hall, he said, "I'm sure Alice had plans for you guys after school, but I think we need to study. At the very least, I want you to do some practice problems to see if you got today's lesson."

She looked up at him and gave him a small smile. "Yeah, I think that's a good idea."

He placed his hand on the small of her back and she felt much better.

"What were you and Angela talking about anyway?"

"Oh, we..." She fidgeted with the strap on her shoulder. "It wasn't anything important."

"Really? It must've been because she was texting in class."

"You saw her?"

The tops of his ears turned in pink. "I...It was kind of hard not to notice." Only if you were really looking.

The troubled expression on her face made him feel guilty. "I'm sure the teacher didn't notice."

"I hope not." She let out a short breath. "She wouldn't tell me who she texted."

His eyebrows shot up. "Maybe Ben?"

She shrugged.

When they made it to the parking lot, Alice was waiting at Bella's truck.

When they joined her, Edward was about to say something, but Alice held up her hands. "It's okay. I know you guys need to study. Angela mentioned that the teacher asked to speak to you."

Bella nodded.

Alice said, "No worries. We'll just head back to Edward's, so you guys can study. But I want to ride with Bella."

Edward narrowed his eyes at his cousin. She was giving up too easily, so he suspected she had something planned. Still, he was thankful that she wasn't trying to take Bella away from him again.

He let out a short sigh. "I'll see you guys back at the house." He went to his car and got in.

While they climbed into Bella's truck, Edward drove out of the parking lot.

Once Bella got on the road, Alice said, " was your day?"

"Aside from the talking to from Mr. Harrison? Fine."

"Just fine?"

She chanced a look at Alice who had an expectant look on her face. "What?"

"It's just...I noticed Edward walked you to all your classes."

At this, Bella felt her cheeks burn. "Uh, yeah."

"And at lunch, you guys looked really cozy together."

"Cozy?" She laughed.

"Are you sure there's nothing going on between you guys?"

Bella shook her head. "Nothing's going on."

Alice's brow furrowed. "I think you should stay for dinner."


"I'm sure if you call your dad to let him know you're invited, he could fend for himself."

"I don't want to impose."

"You wouldn't be imposing."


"I'm sure Edward wouldn't mind."

They pulled up to Edward's house. She looked at Alice who returned her gaze with equal seriousness. After about half a minute, they laughed. Bella shook her head. "Let me just call my dad."

"Cool." Alice hopped out of her truck and walked to the front door.

Edward was waiting and looked at Alice. "Why's Bella still in her truck?"

"She's letting her dad know that she's staying for dinner."

His eyebrows shot up. "She's staying for dinner?"

"That's what I said." She disappeared into the house.

By that time, Bella had finished her phone call and was making her way to the house.

He smiled. "Alice says you're staying for dinner."

She nodded. "Is that okay?"

He grinned. "Absolutely."

They walked into the house and made their way to the kitchen. They took their stuff out and started their homework. They were going over the lesson from AP Calc that day. Edward made up practice problems and Bella completed them. They reviewed the notes from class in preparation for the comprehensive test the teacher mentioned.

Although they were intent on reviewing, occasionally Edward's eyes would stray to Bella when she was working on an assignment. When she didn't think he was looking, Bella would glance at Edward too. It had been a long time since they studied together and it was nice being back to the familiar routine. However, there was definitely something different about this particular study session.

Before the tension could reach a fever pitch, Edward's mother walked into the kitchen. Alice informed Esme that Bella was staying for dinner, and she was very pleased. Bella offered to help and Esme said she didn't want to take her away from her studies.

"I don't mind." Bella stood up and joined her before she could refuse. To be honest, Bella needed the break from the tension that had developed while they were studying.

Edward watched the way Bella interacted with his mom and his heart swelled at the way they seemed to get along. He was happy that she got along with his mom, but even more so that his mom seemed to approve of her. As if reading his thoughts, his mom looked over at him while Bella was chopping some carrots and winked.

He let out a small laugh and returned his attention to his homework.

Once dinner was ready, Edward and Bella cleared their stuff off the table. Alice came down to set the table and Edward's father joined them just in time to start dinner. Bella was momentarily stunned by how handsome his father was, but immediately focused on the recipe Esme had given her for a plum tart. She was in the middle of her second recitation of the ingredients in her mind when she felt a nudge on her thigh.

She looked up to see Edward giving her a quizzical look. She gave him a small smile to convey things were okay and they continued eating. He shifted and their legs were touching at the knee and ankle. They didn't look at each other, but they each had a small smile on their face that didn't go unnoticed by Alice or Edward's mom.

Once dinner was over, Bella offered to help clean up, but Alice waved her off, saying since Bella helped cook, Alice would help with the clean up. With nothing left to do, Bella decided she'd better get home since it was close to seven in the evening and her father was expecting her.

Alice said, "I'll see you in school tomorrow. And remember to bring your stuff for the sleepover to school so you don't have to stop by at home."

"Okay." She turned to Mrs. Cullen. "Thank you for dinner. It was really nice."

"You're welcome, Bella. See you tomorrow."

Bella smiled and went to pick up her backpack, but Edward picked it up for her.

He said, "I'll walk you out."

Bella smiled and again, he followed her with his hand on the small of her back. Bella felt the familiar hum, but now it was intensified because the next time she would see him would be at school the next day. The thought saddened her and when they reached her truck, Edward noticed the slight frown on her face.

"What's the matter?" he asked.

She felt her face blush at being caught. "Oh, nothing. I was just thinking about...stuff." She took her back pack and tossed it inside her truck.

"What kind of stuff?"

She lifted one shoulder up and then down. "Nothing much. was a really nice day."

He nodded. "I had a nice day, too."

She wasn't quite ready to leave. "Thank you for everything."

His eyebrows shot up. "You don't have to thank me."

She toed the ground with the tip of her Chucks. " one's ever walked me to my classes before."

He rubbed the back of his neck. "Oh. Was that okay? Alice thought I was being weird."

Bella shook her head. "No, not weird. Sweet." She felt her cheeks pink. "Very sweet."

Before he realized what he was doing, he reached up and cupped her face, liking the color in her cheeks.

Bella's eyes widened at the contact.

When he realized what he was doing, Edward's hand stilled. "Is this okay?"

She relaxed into his touch and smiled. "Yes."

He had that soft smile on his face. His thumb traced the apple of her cheek before he dropped his hand. "I'll see you tomorrow, Bella."

One Cup of Chunky Peanut Butter. Bella got up on her tip toes and kissed his cheek. "See you tomorrow, Edward."

Bella turned to get inside of her truck, but not before Edward held her wrist. He leaned forward and Bella gasped at the movement.

Edward hesitated and then kissed the corner of her mouth.

"Night, Bella."

A bit dazed, she smiled and got in her truck. She waved and drove off.

Tomorrow night could not come any sooner.

* * * * *

The television flickered with an image of a pig girl looking through a two-way mirror at a guy looking through some books.

Edward tried to pay attention. Alice and Angela had gone on about what a great movie it was, but he couldn't bring himself to care. The only thing Edward cared about at the moment was about the girl sitting next to him.

All week he had been looking forward to this night and now that he was here, Edward wasn't sure how to proceed. He knew what he wanted, but he wasn't sure how to go about making it happen.

There were moments when he was sure that Bella welcomed his attention. She seemed to like that he walked her to class. Then he tested the waters so to speak by placing his hand on the small of her back and she seemed okay with that too. Then there were the subsequent inconsequential touches of fingers brushing against each other, knees bumping, and legs pressed against each other. She seemed very receptive. However, last night when she left after dinner and he decided he'd try to kiss her, she pulled away and had this shocked expression like why would he do such a thing?

Today at school, he was hesitant about how to act around Bella, but when she showed up and greeted him with such a warm smile, he couldn't just let her go to class alone. Although Alice's changes weren't drastic, they were just enough to turn people's heads. And by people he meant horny teenage boys.

She seemed receptive again to him and he also noticed that her eyes lingered on him more. He wasn't sure what it meant, but he liked that he seemed to be the only one caught in her gaze.

Right now, as he watched her watching the movie, Bella seemed tense to say the least. Angela and Alice opted to sit on the floor. He sat at the end of the couch and Bella sat in the middle. She wasn't right next to him, but she wasn't on the other side away from him either. She sat at the edge of the couch with her hands on her knees and her back straight. From time to time, she'd pull at the ends of her hair or she'd chew on her bottom lip. He didn't think the movie required that much attention, but he really couldn't talk because he hadn't been paying attention for a while.

At this point, the girl with the pig nose was in a wedding dress and the guy she was supposed to be marrying looked like he was going to throw up.

"Can we just fast forward to the good part?" Alice asked.

"But shouldn't we wait to see when she loses the nose?" Angela asked.

"It happens right after this," Alice pointed out.

Bella shifted in her spot. "I like this movie. Why can't we just keep watching it?"

Alice and Angela looked at each other and silent understanding passed between them. Alice raised the remote and pressed the fast forward button.


"Bella was watching that."

While Alice was fast forwarding, Angela narrated the rest of the story as it flashed across the screen. "Basically, Penelope breaks the curse by loving herself the way she was. It turned out the curse could've been broken by anyone in her family who loved her despite her pig nose. Anyway, since she no longer has a pig nose, all the attention goes away and she's able to lead a somewhat normal life. Things are going well until Halloween and every little girl is her complete with the pig nose."

Alice paused the movie. "Her friend in the bumble bee costume takes her out for Halloween and they end up at this party. They talk about the guy Penelope was pining about before. He hasn't been around and her best friend suggests she should find him and talk to him."

Angela cut in. "But Penelope doesn't think he liked her that way. That she wouldn't have a chance."

Angela and Alice gave Bella a knowing look.

Bella's body stilled. "You guys-"

"Okay! Let's watch!" Alice returned her attention to the television. Angela did as well, but not before giving her a small smile.

Bella cringed. This can't be happening. I'm about to watch one of the best kisses I've ever seen. With Edward.

They watched as the bumble bee friend and Penelope walked up to an apartment and her best friend knocked before Penelope could stop her. When James McAvoy opened the door, Alice and Angela sighed while Bella's heart rate picked up.

The characters were having a seemingly innocuous conversation until Penelope pointed out the piano and that's when his character figured out it was her.

Johnny reached out for Penelope and just before his mouth covered hers, Bella held her breath. He wanted her despite her awkward pig nose. It was her pig nose that endeared her to him in the first place. There was no hesitation when his lips landed on hers.

Bella really wanted that for herself. Someone not only to want her, but who wanted her despite how ridiculously awkward and inexperienced she was.

When the kiss ended and Penelope revealed that her pig nose was gone and she said it was still her, he touched her face before kissing her again and this time the passion and intense longing was unleashed as their lips met again and again.

When the scene finally dissolved, Bella let out the breath she was holding, but a muffled squeak came out. She covered her mouth and felt her face burn.

Angela and Alice turned to look at Bella.

Edward leaned toward her. "Are you okay?"

Angela and Alice giggled.

Alice said, "I think she's more than just okay."

"Alice!" Angela giggled.

All Bella could do was shrug. She closed her eyes. She couldn't even look at him.

Angela tugged on Alice's arm. "Let's get more popcorn before we start the next movie."

"What movie are you guys watching next?" Edward asked.

Angela dragged Alice along to the kitchen, but not before Alice said over her shoulder, "Never Been Kissed." And with that, they disappeared into the kitchen.

If Bella could just die right now that would be perfect. Her friends were laughing at her expense and Edward was acting all concerned and sweet like something was wrong. There was something wrong. It was wrong that she had such evil friends.

She felt his hand on her arm. "Bella, are you sure you're okay?"

She opened her eyes and willed the burn on her neck to stop. "I'll be fine in a minute."

"I'm sorry if Alice upset you."

"It's not your fault."

He pulled his hand away and hesitated before he said, "I thought it was a nice movie."

She nodded. "It was."

They were silent for a minute, but they could hear Angela and Alice moving around in the kitchen.

Edward cleared his throat. "Uh, so, whatever happened to...that boy."

Bella turned to face him. "What boy?"

He shifted in his spot. "The one that distracted you that afternoon." He studied her face for a minute before he said, "You said things were getting better. Are they?"

She felt her heart rate pick up. "I think so. I mean..." She was afraid of saying something stupid. She took a deep breath and started reciting the peanut butter recipe in her head. It always brought her luck and she was hoping this time it would give her courage.

She started again. "I just...I wish I knew...How do I know...What do guys do to show a girl they're interested?"

Edward shifted in his spot again except he moved a little closer. He didn't like the idea that some other guy was showing interest in her. "Well...has he asked for your number?"

She shook her head.

That was a relief. "Has he tried to talk to you outside of class?"

She smiled. "Yes."

Damn. A small line formed between his eyebrows. "He hasn't...Does he try to find reasons to touch you?"

"Yes. I like it." Bella's cheeks turned pink.

Motherfucker! Edward's fingers dragged through his hair and fisted the ends.

Bella took in a deep breath and then said, "He's really nice and sweet. He's always making sure that...he's really thoughtful."

Edward felt like his heart had been ripped out of his chest. Bella liked someone else. "Oh."

"How...if he wanted to kiss would would I know if he wanted to?"

These questions were killing him. He didn't want Bella to be kissed by this other guy. He knew what he'd do if it was him. He rubbed the back of his neck.

Bella saw his hesitation and felt embarrassed. She shouldn't be asking stuff like that. "I'm sorry, Edward. You don't have to-"

He reached for her face. "Maybe something like this." His thumb swept across the apple of her cheek. "If she was okay with me touching her like this, then I'd..." He leaned toward her. His lips grazed where his thumb was.

He pulled away an inch. "Then I'd..." His eyes bore into hers for a moment and she felt herself getting lost in them. Her breath hitched when his eyes traveled down her face and settled on her lips. His eyes seemed to be doing what his lips should be doing and for a moment she thought they would, but his eyes raised back up to meet hers.

He dropped his hand and pulled away from her. "Something like that." His voice was rough.

Bella blinked several times. Did he almost kiss me? Why didn't he? Doesn't he want to? She looked at him and he had his hand over his mouth and he watched her with such an intensity that made her body grow warm. When his eyes strayed and settled on her lips, then back at her eyes, then again at her lips, Bella felt a tug at the pit of her stomach.


She could feel the awkward creeping in and she tamped down on it. She wasn't going to launch herself and she wasn't going to grab him by his shirt collar and inhale him.

Even though she really wanted to.

One cup of chunky peanut butter.

She got through the ingredients twice when Alice walked in followed by Angela.

Alice had a big bowl of popcorn. "Are you guys ready for the movie?" She placed the popcorn down on the coffee table and went to go change the movie.

Angela had a plate of cookies. "Edward's mom baked cookies for us."

This wasn't happening. Things couldn't just move on when Edward Cullen wanted to kiss her and she was desperately ready for him to do so. She tried to think of something, but the movie started and Angela and Alice settled in.

The hell with this. I'm going to get kissed.

Bella turned to face Edward. Then she said, "I'm going to get something to drink." She stood up and walked to the kitchen.

Edward's brow furrowed. Just before Bella disappeared, she looked over her shoulder at him and then left.

It was all the invitation he needed. "I...have to...go." Edward scrambled out of his spot and tried not to run to the kitchen.

"Hey!" Angela turned to Alice. "Should we pause the movie?"

Alice laughed. "Uh, do you really think they're coming back anytime soon?"

Angela's eyes widened. She was practically bouncing in her spot. "I hope it goes well."

"It's about time." Alice stuffed her face with popcorn.

* * * * *

Bella sipped the water slowly, trying to calm her thoughts. What if he didn't follow?

She put the glass down and then heard his footsteps before he entered the kitchen. She felt her lower back hit the counter and she gripped it to steady herself.

He walked in, finding her by the kitchen island. He stopped just a foot away from her, waiting.

Bella gulped. Her breath became unsteady and his did too. The anticipation was becoming unbearable. Bella knew if she said anything, she'd ruin the moment.

So instead, she held his gaze for another second before her eyes settled on his lips for a moment and then back at him again.

That was all the invitation Edward needed.

His lips were first before she felt him everywhere. He had one hand caressing her face before it trailed down her neck. The other hand gripped her hip before it slid around and rested on the small of her back.

It took a minute for Bella to recover and when her mind caught up with the fact that Edward's lips were nipping and at hers, her lips responded. She returned Edward's kisses, feeling dizzy with lack of air, but not wanting to stop. He tilted his head to the side which she mirrored.

"Bella," he said against her lips.

She felt his hold on her loosening and realized that her hands were still limp at her sides, she threw them up around his neck. She didn't want him to get away.

"Wait," she said. She remembered how James McAvoy's lips took in Penelope's and she tried the same thing and took Edward's lower lip into her mouth.

Edward shuddered. He repeated the action but with Bella's upper lip. They exchanged kisses like this for several moments.

Bella felt tension tugging at the pit of her stomach. It spurned on the want she felt into a new level of desire that should have scared her, but was encouraged by Edward's unsteady breaths and his hands on her body.

She let her fingers entwine in the softness of his hair, fascinated and delighted that he allowed it. When she gave a gentle tug like he had seen himself do, a throaty sound came out and hummed on her lips. Then the tip of his tongue pressed against her lip.

Her first kiss was quickly turning into her first French kiss and Bella wasn't sure if she would be able to do it. She opened her eyes just a little and then hesitated before she touched the tip of her tongue to Edward's lip when she took it into her mouth.

His arms around her tightened. Bella could see his brow wrinkle. His eyes were closed, but he was so focused on her. She tugged his hair again and he moaned. The wrinkles on his forehead deepened and instead of a timid touch with the tip of his tongue, he licked her lip.

Seeing him concentrating so much on kissing her and then seeing his tongue snake out to meet her mouth was her undoing. She hesitated a second before she mirrored the action. Edward's nostrils flared as he took in a deep breath. When he parted his lips and Bella saw his tongue peeking out, she leaned forward to meet his tongue with hers. His forehead smoothed at the contact and he melted into the kiss.

It was the last thing she saw before her eyes closed and let herself be consumed by their open mouth kiss. All the movies and what people said about kissing were nothing compared to this. This was so much more. She felt exposed and raw, but she wanted to feel this way with Edward. When he tilted his head to deepen the kiss, she knew he felt the same way too.

They kissed this way for a while and things were already heated between them, but these kisses were pushing the boundaries. The hand that was on Bella's lower back had come around. His fingers were splayed across her rib cage, making their way upward.

Bella realized the direction his hand was moving and broke the kiss. Edward was surprised that she withdrew, but when he saw the wide eyed look she gave him and where his hand was about to go, he took his hand away.

"I'm sorry, Bella. I didn't mean to almost..." He sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. "I didn't mean to get so carried away."

"I...It's okay."

His eyebrows shot up.

Her eyes widened at how her words could be taken. "I mean, its okay. I understand that it was an accident."

He nodded, making sure to keep the disappointment away from his face.

"But...are we...if we..." Bella stumbled through the words and then blurted out, "Are you my boyfriend now?"

She felt her face burn. Really? You expect him to be your boyfriend after just one kiss?

He gave her one of his soft smiles. "Would you like me to be your boyfriend?"

Her expression went through lots of emotions from surprise, disbelief, and then she was shy. He didn't understand how she could be shy when they had the most amazing kiss he'd ever had.

Bella shifted in her spot. "Well, I don't want you to feel like you have to just because we..."

He reached for her face. "What if I told you I don't want you kissing other guys like that? What if I...only want you." His thumb caressed the apple of her cheek. A gesture that she was growing to love. "Are you okay with that?"

She nodded. "More than okay."

Then they heard Alice's voice carrying from the end of the hall. "Yeah. They're just getting a drink, Aunt Esme. They'll be back any minute now."

Bella's eyes widened and Edward let out a small laugh. Edward picked up the glass on the counter and filled it with more water. She looked stricken.

Edward placed a sweet kiss on her lips. "It's okay. Come on." He took her hand and lead her back to the family room.

Alice and Angela were sitting on the floor, watching the movie.

"Where's my mom?" Edward asked.

"She went back to the study, but I think she'll be back," Alice said.

Edward took his spot at the end of the couch and Bella returned to the middle. He looked at her like what the hell? Her brow furrowed.

He reached for her hand and pulled her toward him. She squeaked at the movement and then he draped his arm around her.

Alice and Angela looked at the way they sat with expectant expressions.

Edward lifted one shoulder up and then down. "I don't think my girlfriend should have to sit so far away from me."

Alice and Angela squealed and clapped. Bella felt her face burn.

Esme appeared at the door. "What's going on?"

Alice said, "Just at a really good part of the movie."

Drew Barrymore was dressed very badly and dancing on a stage.

Esme noted the difference in Edward and Bella's appearance. Before they were cautious and a bit awkward at times, but now it seemed some kind of understanding passed between them and they seemed more at ease.

Well, by the look of things, Edward was more at ease and Bella was still taking things in.

They continued watching the movie and Bella enjoyed the warmth from Edward's body. She didn't care about the movie and reveled in the closeness between them. Her mind drifted of thoughts about staying like this with Edward and her eyes suddenly became heavy. Then she felt someone throwing a blanket over her and was overcome by sleep.

* * * * *

Edward had been deep asleep when he felt something stir against him. His arms tightened reflexively around the figure beside him. It was warm, soft, and most definitely female. He'd never fallen asleep with a girl before.

His eyes snapped opened. The room was dark and he felt out of sorts because he wasn't in his room. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust. The only light was coming in through the windows from the moon light. The television was off and he realized that he was still in the family room with Bella sleeping soundly next to him or more accurately draped across him.

Bella had fallen asleep not fifteen minutes into the movie. He had every intention of waking her when it was over, so she could return with Angela and Alice to her room for the night. Then as the movie progressed, he shifted to accommodate Bella and eventually arms became entwined and legs were entangled.

Her face was buried in the crook of his neck. Her soft breaths against his skin tickled, but what woke him was her voice. She was clearly asleep, but she was talking. He reached over and brushed away the hair covering her face and listened.

She mumbled. "One cup of unsalted butter. One cup of sugar." She continued and it sounded like a list of ingredients. Then she said, "One cup of chunky peanut butter." He saw a small smile on her lips and then she let out a contented sigh.

He wondered what this recipe was for and why it made her so happy. He'd have to ask her about it later. For now, he had to wake her up and get her back to Alice's room. He's never had a girlfriend spend the night and he was pretty sure his parents wouldn't like that they were sleeping together already. Even though nothing happened.

"Bella?" He reached for her face and pressed his lips to her forehead.

She shifted closer if that were possible and stretched her arm across his chest. She tightened her hold on him and he felt her nose nuzzle the spot just below his ear.

Edward stilled. He didn't want to move, but they couldn't stay like this. This was definitely going to lead to other things and he was pretty sure his parents would kill him if he got caught.

If he got caught.

Before his hormones took over, Bella mumbled, "Edward."

He felt guilty. She trusted him and felt safe enough to fall asleep with him. He couldn't take advantage of that.

"I'm here, Bella." He rubbed her arm to help her wake up. "We fell asleep together out here. I have to get you back to Alice's room."

She shifted again, but this time her eyes fluttered opened. When they adjusted to the lack of light, Bella lifted her head. "Edward?"

He brushed the hair from her forehead. "We fell asleep."

"Sorry." But she was smiling.

"Don't apologize. It was nice." He hesitated before he said, "We should head upstairs."

Her eyes widened. "Upstairs?"

His brow furrowed at her reaction. Then he realized how his words were taken. "I mean, you can go to Alice's room and I'll go to my room. Alone."

"Oh." She giggled.

Even though they said they were going to leave, neither one made a move to go. They stared at each other instead. Edward's fingers drew lazy patterns on her bare arm and she played with the hair at the nape of his neck. When his fingers began a slow descent from the top of her shoulder to her elbow, she couldn't help the shiver that shook her body.

Wearing a tank top was a very good idea. She would never doubt Alice again.

"Cold?" he asked and reached down and pulled the blanket over her, covering them both up. Then his hand found its way on the small of her back and brought her closer.

Alice is a fucking genius.


She giggled. "I thought we were going upstairs."

"We will." He shifted so that his body was turned toward her. "Just a few more minutes," he mumbled while his lips pressed against the corner of her jaw.

She mirrored the gesture. Then he kissed her chin and she copied the action. He held back, waiting for her to initiate a kiss, but she didn't.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

She gave him a shy look. "Nothing."

His arm shifted under the blanket and eventually his hand found its way on her hip. "Are you ready to go upstairs now?"

"Not yet." She shifted and put a hand on his hip.

A soft line formed on his forehead. "Bella, do you...are you comfortable?"

She nodded and moved closer to him. "Very."

He let out a small laugh. "I meant, are you comfortable being with me?"

"Yes." Her brow wrinkled in confusion. "Why?"

"Just wondering." His hand slipped around her waist and found its place on the small of her back. When she copied his gesture, he gave her a small smile. "You know, you don't have to wait for me to...initiate things."

She felt her cheeks burn. "'s just that..." Her eyes trained on the curve of his chin. "I don't know what to do."

He gave her one of those soft smiles. "I think you do." It took every ounce of his willpower not to move his hands all over her body. "If you're worried I won't like it, I can guarantee that I will."

She gave him a doubtful look. "But what if...I do something wrong?"

His smile widened. "Bella, I'm a boy. A boy who likes you a lot. I don't think you could do anything wrong."

Bella couldn't help laughing. "Don't be so sure." Her expression calmed and she looked up at him. "I like you a lot, too."

He was about to kiss her when she leaned toward him and kissed him. Then her hand slid under his shirt and she kissed him again.

She catches on quick.

He hesitated before he let his hand slip under her shirt too.

She took his lower lip into her mouth while her hand came around and began a slow ascent up his rib cage.

Edward's breathing was unsteady from the kissing, but mostly by the way she touched him. Gone was the hesitance and uncertainty from before. Bella knew exactly what she was doing and God help him, he didn't want her to stop.

Her hand made its ascent up his rib cage and then rested flat on his chest. She withdrew from the kiss to look at him.

He looked at her with surprise. "Are you sure?"

She nodded.

His hand stopped right below her breast. He watched her face for any expression that might indicate she wanted him to stop. Instead her breathing picked up and her eyes darkened.

His hand made its final destination and he closed his hand around her breast.

"Edward," she sighed.

He kissed her lips. "You're perfect."

Their mouths found each other and they embarked on a slow kiss. Slow touching and quiet hums accompanied the kiss. It was a perfect moment.

They were engaged like this for a while and things started to get heated. However, the distinct sound of someone clearing their throat caused them to halt their movements.

Then Edward's father's voice sounded from a distance. "I'm just letting you know, your mother sent me to check that you were in bed. By the time I get back to your mom, and tell her that you are, it will be the truth."

His footsteps which they could hear now because they weren't distracted anymore, retreated.

Bella felt her face burn. "Oh my God. Do you think your dad saw us?"

"God, I hope not." Edward gave her a quick kiss before he disengaged his hands from her body.

Bella did the same and when Edward moved to get up, she adjust her shirt. "Do you think he'll say anything?"

He thought for a minute. "He'll probably have a talk with me."

They stood up, but Edward grabbed the blanket and wrapped it around Bella's shoulders. He wasn't sure if she still needed it, but the flimsy tank top would just remind him that he had spent time under there and he wanted to desperately get back.

When she was secure under the blanket, he found her hand and led her upstairs. They walked with careful steps and shy looks for the other person. When they reached Alice's bedroom door, he stopped and turned to her.

"I'll be in my room." He gestured to the door across from Alice's. "Over there."

She giggled. "Okay."

Edward couldn't help feeling a little nervous. He didn't know why, but he was afraid once she disappeared into Alice's room, it would all be a dream and he'd wake up any moment. This was just too good to be true.

Bella saw the uneasiness in his expression. Maybe he was a little nervous about his dad? Or maybe he was afraid his mom would find out and she wouldn't be able to come over? She was about to voice these concerns when Edward said, "I hope you have a good sleep."

She blinked a few times. "Oh, okay."

He smiled before he turned away to go into his room.

"Wait, Edward." She took a step toward him.

He turned around and waited for her to speak.

She lowered her voice. "Things will be okay."

He reached for her face, his thumb grazing the apple of her cheek. In that moment, he knew it would be.

She stood on the tips of her toes and gave him a kiss. "I'll see you in the morning."

"Okay." Edward watched her until she closed the door behind her. Then he disappeared into his own room.

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