Author's Note: "The Blessing Ring was recently reviewed and accepted by Twi-Fic Promotions. I am very honored.

Thanks for checking out this story! I want to say upfront that the first few chapters are for us to get to know Bella, to understand who she is after years of pining for Edward. I'd like to think that she interesting enough w/o massive Edward interaction upfront. Edward makes cameos until chapter 6 when he comes into the story in a big way. If you are a fan of the slow reveal, that's what I'm going for here. If you are the type that wants Edward's perspective, I wrote a one-shot of the history of this story in EPOV called "Quoting Frost." Please check it out. I'm kind proud of how it turned out, which is ironic since I didn't initially want to do it.

This story is where I envisioned things could go if Bella was a little it less brave & Edward was a little bit better at staying away from her.

Much of the initial action will take place in the form of flashbacks while Bella is getting ready for a formal party. Because we don't recall things in perfectly chronological order, some things will be remembered out-of-sequence, but I will make clear the time frame in which the event she is remembering occurred. The memory of these events encroach on her daily life and I chose this method to demonstrate how affect she is by her last chance at love – rather than saying "she was haunted by the ghosts of unrequited love" or some rot.

A timeline is at the end of each chapter that contains flashbacks for those who may benefit from it.

I don't own Twilight. Anything recognizable as Twilight-related belongs to Stephenie Meyer.

Chapter 1 – Waiting to Begin

The Blessing Ring

May you have love that never ends,

And may you be sent love again and again

- The "Irish Blessing Ring" guide

What. A. Load.

It had taken me the better part of three hours, hours that I did not have – hours that might have been better spent exfoliating my neglected elbows, heels…everything – to find the stupid thing. Most of the contents of my hall closet were still sprawled around me and the clock said there were only a few short hours to achieve formal office party presentability. Nothing short of a miracle, regardless of the time.

Yet, there I sat, shaking my head at the cheesy sentiment on the (probably fake) parchment that accompanied the self-proclaimed "Irish Blessing Ring." Really, if love was supposed to be considered a blessing and never ended, it most definitely would not need to be sent again, or again, or even again.

But, I was no expert. I've never been in love. Not technically. Unrequited love doesn't count, does it? At least, I'd never really loved anyone that loved me back. Nothing mutual. Which is terrible to admit since I've been married once.

Would love coming back around be a good thing? It sounded like "Every Breath You Take," that Police song that gets played at nearly all weddings. It ought to be designated as the Stalkers' National Anthem. They didn't play it at my wedding, but I did phone in a dedication request for "Don't Stand So Close to Me" two years later when Tyler and I divorced.

I'd only put the ring on once, the day I first received it. It was hideous, gauche. After that, it had been tucked away, virtually forgotten, except by Rose, my beloved but not-so-dear old school friend and current co-worker. She had suggested that it would go well with the dress she was loaning me.

I felt bad not appreciating the ring; it had been a bequest from my godmother, "Aunt" Kate. I am sure it was well-intentioned.

Actually, I should be thrilled to be remembered at all. But, unlike me, my godmother had possessed what might be called panache and could carry off a baker's dozen of any odd combo of bobbles, some of which would've made Liberace blanch, and she'd still managed to look alluring.

She would've had him, the guy, my guy, my dream, Edward, eating out of the palm of her bejeweled hand.

The ring rested in the palm of my hand and I tilted it back-and-forth watching the crystals catch the light of the side table lamp. Four stone shamrocks sprouted up out of a patch of two dozen clear stones. When tilted under the light each facet reflected a dreary kaleidoscope of brunette and pale skin.

And therein was the gist of it: I was uncomfortable wearing it. It was enormous. It drew attention. And I didn't want be seen.

It was the ring of a woman who goes after what she wants. It belonged on the finger of someone who didn't let opportunity pass, who made the most of life. There was no way it fit me.

Wearing that ring was a step so far outside my comfort zone, I wasn't sure I'd be able to find my way back.

…………

(1 week prior to present action)

I remembered earlier in the week when Rose had swayed in front of the full length mirror that covered most of the inside of my closet door.

"Bella, don't you think those sparkly little emerald shamrocks would look fantastic up against it?" She'd curtseyed for good measure. The hanger had been stretched over her head like a necklace and yards of the deepest green silk cascaded down to skim the front of her ankles.

"I highly doubt that they're real emeralds," I had said. "Don't you have anything else I could borrow? Something less, I don't know…"

"Less what? Less dressy? Less gorgeous?" Rose had continued to admire herself in the mirror. Set off by the dark fabric, her skin was so fair it was nearly translucent. She quickly twisted her impossibly white hair up and held it there. Either she'd been bleaching it her whole life or she was one step shy of albino.

"Less 'dress,' maybe." I sighed. "We work at a call center not… well, I don't know where. Not any place grand."

That was a compromise with small town life; the types of jobs available were definitely limited. An English degree had helped to get a decent office job, but it wasn't exactly what I wanted. It wasn't what would've made me happy. As always, I learned to settle. It became a choice between moving to a larger area to teach literature and leave my dad all alone, or hang around here and bide my time until some nearby college professors saw fit to either retire or expire.

I knew I was being pointlessly stubborn about the dress, but I went on, "A new blouse and khakis have always been good enough before. I really don't give a tiny, shiny, rat's hiney that there are people flying in from corporate this year."

That wasn't entirely true. It was always important to project the appropriate image at work. Plus, there was someone coming in that I allowed myself to hope to impress on some level, or at least not scare off entirely. The problem was this was a little more image, a lot more projecting, than had been called for before. I found my mind wandering to the people flying in. Well, to one particular person flying in. My candidate for latest distraction, because being distracted from dwelling on what had happened (or not happened, depending upon how one looked at it) with Edward was how I got through the day. It was how I got through life.

Rose continued her prancing, but now alternated between pulling the garment around her hourglass hips and simulating heels by balancing on the balls of her feet.

She looked like an amalgamate of debutante, prima donna, and pole dancer. I heard myself groan.

There was no way I could attempt to wear heels without kissing the floor tiles goodnight at some point during the festivities. "Moan all you want, Bella, but you are going to look like a dream. Gorgeous Corporate Guy's wet dream."

"Oh, I think you're the one dreaming here." I turned away from her to focus on anything else, and tried to give myself as long as possible to wipe the image of Rose almost modeling the dress before I confronted the horribleness of what the dress looked like on my own body.

It wasn't so much the dress but the color. If I was being honest with myself – a highly overrated practice – the dress was beautiful. Beyond beautiful. I was grateful Rose was even willing to loan it out.

Mostly, I wanted to tell her that something less green would be great. I knew it was silly, but I'd sworn off all things green years ago.

Green was Edward's favorite color.

I had known it since I'd first met him, first fallen for him, well over 10 years ago. He'd sat in the bleacher row behind me at the football stadium; the collar of a deep green shirt had poked out from under his jacket. It matched the peridot stone in the class ring he wore and the deep green sports car I later saw him cruise around in when he wasn't in that silver Volvo. The green car, whatever it was, looked exotic, looked like Edward.

When I was younger, I couldn't understand why he'd chosen a stodgy Volvo for an everyday car. Not many people had the finances to have a choice, but his family did.

Now, my crush was over a decade old and going strong. Huge chunk of my life. My life spent clamoring for the same impossible dream. It hadn't always been just a crush; we'd actually dated briefly a couple of years ago. All too briefly. One single weekend and then he'd nicely, maddeningly politely, broken it to me. Broken me. Don't blame him. I wasn't exactly thrilling. Be grateful for what I got.

From the day I'd met Edward, I'd felt like I was waiting for him, waiting for my real life to begin.

I'd waited, then I'd gotten in touch with just-how-utterly-out-of-my-painfully-average league Edward was.

That sad realization allowed me to go through the motions and not miss out on the important rites of passage in life: prom, sex, marriage…divorce. Yay, Divorce! Divorce really was the best of the lot. I'd coasted through relationships and even a marriage in some kind of emotional stasis while he'd been with someone else.

It seemed like a dream when he'd asked me out a couple years ago. Two days later, he woke me up from that dream. He was just probably waxing nostalgic about his teen years. Or I was convenient. I had shunned all things green after that night when we met in the parking lot after he'd finished his shift.

……….

(February 15, 2008 – 2 years ago)

"I don't have any reason to break things off with you. I know this must seem crazy. I mean," Edward had paused and jangled the keys he was staring at apparently hoping that they would give him some guidance, "we get along great. I always knew we would. But Tanya just keeps calling. She keeps calling and, I mean… my family set us up such a long time ago… everyone expects us to work out… so… it seems like we have unfinished business."

"Yeah." I had kept looking out through the windshield of his Volvo and across the darkened, rain slick parking lot. I wanted to ask him if he'd been happy those years. I wanted to say that if business hadn't managed to get into order in that much time maybe it wasn't ever going to be.

I couldn't find words. It went beyond being speechless, it was like my mind ceased to access where I stored words. It felt as if my Fairy Godmother had repossessed my dress and shoes on the way to the ball. Stupid, fucking sadist Fairy Godmother.

While I'd tried to form a response appropriate for the moment, Edward had reached over as though he'd meant to tuck a lock of hair behind my ear, but I felt myself shift toward the side window. Don't let him touch you. Don't let him see how it makes you feel. Salvage some pride here, woman.

Lit in an olive hue from the latest Volvo's dashboard glow, I couldn't avoid his face, which was now mutely reflected on the glass of every window. It was the first time I hadn't wanted to look at him. Ever.

………

Timeline for the events of Chapter 1:

1999 – Junior Year – Bella & Edward meet at a game

February 2008 – Edward breaks up with Bella after 2 days together