Disclaimer: All characters herein belong to Stephenie Meyer. I just like to play.

This is a graduation prezzie for the lovely Shelby. It's a little early, but come tomorrow – 9th May, I think (don't hurt me if I've got it wrong) – she will be a graduate and the proud owner of a Bachelors degree in Communication Studies. Round of applause methinks.

WELL DONE SHELB!!!!!!!!

Black Velvet

Have you ever been surrounded by people and yet felt so utterly alone?

Well, I have.

It seems that as much as people think they know me, they really don't.

Can they tell me my favourite colour?

My favourite song?

Can they tell me my own middle name?

Not at all.

Most of the time I wonder why I'm even friends with these people. If you can call it friendship at all. Don't you have to know things about the other person to be considered friends? Because, that's what I'd always thought.

"Oh, come on, Edward." Rosalie shot me a glare from across the lunch table. "Give me one good reason for you not to come."

"Because I hate that shit." I stared right back at her, which she hated. Most people were intimidated or even frightened of Rosalie Hale. What with her height and beauty, who wouldn't be? Answer: me. I didn't care what she thought of me or how she tried her intimidation tactics; they didn't work. Something she'd always resented me for.

"Since when?" Emmett, Rosalie's bear of a boyfriend piped up, raising an eyebrow at me as if to ask why he hadn't known that snippet of information.

"Since I've never liked it." I shot back and he shook his head after a moment, as if he was trying to dispel some annoying thought. Unlikely for Emmett, but more profound miracles have happened.

"Maybe it's because you've never given it a chance." Rosalie smiled smugly at me, taking a bite of a celery stick as I raised an eyebrow. Like she, of all people needed to diet.

"Actually, if you remember correctly, you tried forcing it on me sophomore year and I nearly hung myself." I returned the smug smile as hers dropped.

"Come on, Eddie." Tanya whined from next to me. "It'll be fun."

"Don't call me that." I muttered, finishing off my pizza and brushing the annoying flour off the ends of my fingers. "And no, it won't."

"What's so wrong with it?" Rosalie asked, sounding pissed off with my answers. I didn't really care to be perfectly honest. Emmett moved closer to her and wrapped an arm around her shoulders.

"What's the point of going to watch a bunch of losers trying to display their so called 'talent'? It's not worth the time, if you ask me." I shrugged, finishing off the can of soda in front of me. There was not a chance in hell of them getting me to go to that talent show.

"Why do you have to be such a killjoy?" I rolled my eyes at Tyler who was looking at me with a quizzical expression on his face. He would say anything to get Tanya to notice him, even if it was agreeing with her on the most trivial things. It was pathetic. Even if he was against it – and everybody knew it – yet Tanya backed something, so would Tyler. Get a mind of your own. Please.

"Look, you guys can go. I'm not going. End of." I told them as I stood up, picking up my tray and dumping what was on it in the trash before walking out of the cafeteria towards my locker to grab my books for my afternoon classes.

How is it that you can spend day after day with people and they still don't know anything about you?

I was beginning to wonder if it was worth being associated with them anymore. I had five months or so left in this place, so it wasn't too much of a hardship, I guess.

None of them even knew I had been accepted to Harvard and Dartmouth. They hadn't even bothered to ask. They were all going to UW for college and Emmett was convinced I would be attending there as well, so was planning what we would be getting up to Freshman year. How to break it to him that I would be over a thousand miles away whilst he was enjoying his escapades? Most of them were likely to get him kicked out of college or arrested. Most likely both.

We were the 'popular clique' at Forks High. Though I was wondering how a school of around three hundred or so students could have cliques. Meh, I wasn't sure.

We had been 'nabbed' as it were by older students when we'd arrived because we were attractive apparently. For Rosalie that was a certainty. Tanya was pretty, I guess, or at least she would be were she not caked in about three inches of make-up. I think Rosalie had even tried a 'make-under' as she called it, to try and get her to ease up on the cosmetics, but it clearly hadn't worked. Tyler just followed Tanya wherever she went, though she hardly paid him any notice. Emmett said she was hung up on me. Whatever.

Emmett was just huge. He was the quarterback of the football team so of course he was popular. No one ever messed with him on the field. He was huge without his uniform but put the shoulder pads and other pieces of body armour on him he was absolutely enormous.

Me on the other hand. I didn't think there was anything too remarkable about me. I was mildly attractive, yes. The attention I gained from the girls at school told me that much at least, but I didn't think I was above anyone else in that regard.

I was tall, around six foot two. I wasn't too muscular, but I wasn't skinny either. I worked out, but that was mainly due to the fact I played basketball often. I was pale, like everyone else in this place with green eyes that didn't seem too remarkable to me. My mother often said that they were an incredible colour, but they seemed like every other pair of green eyes on the planet to me. I guess the only thing that was different about me, in my head anyway, was my hair. It was untameable. Seriously. No matter how much product was put into it, it would not behave. It was also a strange colour. A mix of red and brown. My mom called it bronze. I called it fucked-up.

Walking to my locker, I sighed heavily, wondering how I had come to associate with these people. People who knew nothing about me as a person. They just saw and heard what they wanted to. Which wasn't very much, I must admit.

I opened my locker and reached in to grab my books before trudging off to Biology when my hand grazed something I knew hadn't been in there when I'd visited my locker before school started this morning. I pulled it out and saw that it was an envelope with my name typed across the front. I looked around as though I would magically see the person that had dropped it in there. Unsurprisingly, no one was watching me.

I slid my thumb under the opening and slid the envelope opening as quickly as possible, wondering what the hell it was. It was typed, so I assumed it was something from the school. Imagine my surprise when it wasn't.

Edward,

I am aware that communicating with you like this may seem cowardly and a bit stalkerish, but I swear, that is not my intent.

Please do not disregard this letter as you are most likely inclined to do. I know that if some random person left a letter in my locker, I probably would as well, but I implore you not to.

As you've probably guessed, I go to school with you and seeing you around the various buildings it is clear, to me at least, how alone you really feel. Not that I watch you specifically. I enjoy watching people in general, but you personally, caught my eye.

Some part of you feels as though no one really knows who you are. Your interests and such but I can tell you now, I do. As I said, I observe people in general and it is incredible how much you can learn about a person just through watching them.

I know that your favourite colour is blue. Not just any blue though. It has to be midnight blue.

You are extremely possessive over your car, which is understandable, considering it must have cost your parents a lot of money.

Your middle names are Anthony Masen.

You're probably thinking that I'm some kind of crazy psycho-stalker right about now, but that is not the case. You're probably wondering why I also didn't come and talk to you face to face, but the answer to that one is simple.

I am not really one to talk to the popular people in this school. Though it is clear that you do not see yourself as being above everyone else, the rest of the school has put your and your group on a pedestal. One that people such as me are not really allowed to approach, such are the rules of high school.

I can tell you two things about myself without revealing who I am specifically. One: I am female, just to clear that up. Two: You do know me, whether or not you feel you do.

If you want to know who I am, I will be performing at the talent show. And I will be performing your favourite song.

I hope to see you there.

What the fuck?!

Well, that was definitely not what I was expecting.

I couldn't even tell who had sent it because of the fact it was typed. Was this seriously someone trying to creep me out or were they just too shy to come and talk to me themselves?

I had no idea.

But there was something I did want to know.

I wanted to know who it was, so I guess I was going to the talent show I despised so much. I practically growled at the thought of Rosalie's smug smile as I turned up to the event I practically hailed as blasphemous. The only reason they were going was to laugh at the more atrocious acts on the stage. One of the reasons I didn't want to go at all. Having the most popular kids in school laughing at you as you performed in front of a crowd – albeit not a very big one, but still – would be humiliating. And there was no doubt I would be placed into that group as well. Not something I wanted.

But having read the letter I had been sent, I found myself wanting to go. It seemed as though someone in this place actually knew something about me. And if they knew my favourite song, which I seriously doubted, they must have been paying close attention to me.

I still wasn't convinced it wasn't one of the stalker types I had acquired, such as Jessica Stanley. Just thinking of her belting out my favourite song left a sour taste in my mouth. The girl wouldn't be able to carry a note to save her life.

Maybe I could attend the talent show and when I found out who it was, if it turned out to be Jessica or one of those types, I could leave.

I didn't know what to do.

Placing the letter back into the envelope and putting it in my bag, I made my way to Biology. Sitting down on the stool I rested my head on my arms, ready for this day to be over. I heard the stool next to me move and I knew that my lab partner, Bella, had sat down. Maybe she would be able to help me out.

I glanced over at her, seeing that she was focused on something in her bag. She was pretty I guessed, not overly so, but she held a classic beauty. Like something you'd see in an Austen or Bronte novel. Her hair was a deep mahogany colour that she always had up in some kind of bun at the base of her neck, so I had no idea how long it was. There were always a few loose tendrils escaping the bun and hanging down in front of her face. It was unclear if this was intentional or whether they escaped throughout the course of the day, considering the only time I ever saw her was in this class. She ate lunch outside with her friends, whatever the weather. I thought she was insane in that regard. She was pale, but hey, this is Forks, most of us are pale. The only ones who weren't were those who fake tanned or those who lived on the Indian Reservation a few miles up the road. She wasn't that tall, around five foot four, I'd guess. She never wore any make-up and some part of me admired her for that. She didn't feel the need to falsify herself just for the sake of others opinions.

It was clear that she never sought out to impress anyone, her daily clothes consisting of long sleeved t-shirts and jeans paired with her chucks. It took a lot of guts not to give in to what people were saying about you and to just wear and do what you wanted. She was braver than I was.

I knew that she was intelligent, due to how competent she was in class and I was sure her GPA was as high as mine. I somehow doubted that UW was her destined choice of college. That being said, I had never actually had a conversation with her. I knew that was wrong, but I could never remember why I hadn't spoken with her before.

I was about to ask her if she knew anything about the letter that had appeared in my locker when Mr. Banner started talking, effectively beginning the class, so that put an end to that idea.

The class passed in monotony as usual. There weren't even any labs for us to do today, which sometimes made the hour period more entertaining. Nope, today we just had to sit there and listen to Banner drone on and on. I don't even know what he was talking about. I think I might have fallen asleep.

Bella disappeared as soon as the bell went, but there was nothing unusual about that. She always dashed out of the class. I wasn't sure why because it seemed she did nothing but dawdle to her next class. Gym. But then again, from what I'd heard, she had reason to. Apparently, she wasn't the most coordinated of people and had managed to actually throw her badminton racket at Mike Newton one class. And he was her partner in that particular class. Apparently he hadn't paired with her again.

I didn't have a class after Biology, meaning I was done for the day. Normally, I would wait around for the others, but today I couldn't get that damn letter out of my head. I climbed into my car and made my way home, trying to resist the urge of getting that letter out and reading it right now. I knew that that would be a fucked up idea and I would never get to find out who it was if I did that.

When I got home, I grabbed my bag and ran upstairs to my room, flopping down on my bed and grabbing the letter and rereading it around a hundred times.

'If you want to know who I am, I will be performing at the talent show. And I will be performing your favourite song.'

I still found it amazing that someone could actually know what it was. Not even my friends knew. Not that they had really cared to ask. It was a little out of their music genre.

The talent show was tomorrow night, which meant that I had to act quickly. I knew that my parents were out of town tomorrow night, in Port Angeles for some kind of hospital thing. Normally, I would go to these things, but it was strictly over drinking age only.

Why was this so hard to work out?

"Edward?" I heard my mother's voice come from the other side of the door and looked at the clock on my bedside table, seeing that it was nearly seven o'clock. I had been out of it for a while.

"Yeah, mom." I called, stuffing the letter out of sight as I did so. I wasn't sure why, but I didn't want her to see it. It seemed too personal for me to share with my mother. Either that or I knew that she'd freak out and tell me to get rid of it, scared that someone was stalking me or whatever. I was aware that this could be the case, but what's life without a little risk?

"I was just wondering if you were okay." She smiled at me as she edged into the room slightly, a warm glow in her eyes. She held that same look every time she looked at me. I knew that it was because she'd always thought she'd never be able to have children. After my parents trying for four years to get pregnant with no success, doctors had claimed she was infertile and then around a year later she finds out she's expecting me. Apparently, she and dad used to call me their 'little miracle'. Thankfully, they didn't anymore. Unfortunately though, I was the only child they would ever have. "You've been quiet all evening."

"I'm okay." I nodded, sitting up Indian style in the middle of my bed. "I've just got a lot on my mind at the moment."

"College?" She asked, stepping further into the room, a concerned look on her face. I nodded, thankful that she had provided me with a cover story. I didn't really want to tell her about the letter hidden under my pillow at the moment, so I went with what she had provided me with. I hated withholding things from my mom, but this seemed to just call for it. "Oh, honey." She made her way over to me and sat down next to me, wrapping her arm around my shoulders. "What's the matter?"

I took a deep breath, going with the first thing that popped into my head. "I just don't know how to tell the others that I'm not going to UW. I mean, they're all going there and I'm going to Harvard or Dartmouth and I don't know how to tell them."

"Do you think they'll be happy for you?" She asked, resting her head on my shoulder lightly.

"Honestly?" She nodded, her eyes holding my gaze. "I don't think so. Well, I don't know. It's like, they all want us to stay together and close to here, but I don't want that. I don't want to stay in Washington for the rest of my life." I immediately felt guilty for my words and she must have noticed my look of panic because she chuckled lightly.

"Your father and I know that honey." She squeezed my shoulders lightly. "All we want is for you to be happy and we both know that you won't truly be happy here. You're too big for this place." She had always told me that I was too big for Forks. That I should be anywhere else, taking the world by storm and even though it's probably what most parents say to their kids, it's what I was going to do.

"Thanks, Mom." She pressed her lips to my temple lightly before making her way downstairs.

"Dinner's in ten minutes." She said quietly as she closed my door and I sighed heavily, flopping back down on my bed. Maybe the issue that she'd brought up hadn't been what was going through my head when she'd walked in, but it was one I needed to address nonetheless.

I needed to tell the group that I wasn't going to UW with them.

And soon.

Tell me why I'm here again?

Why did I come to this barbaric slaughter of what used to be called music?

Last night I had come to the decision that I would come to the talent show to find out who had sent me the letter. If they got the song right, that is. If they hadn't, then I still wouldn't have a clue who it was.

And at the moment, I was thinking it was so not worth the damage to my eardrums.

We had been forced to sit through Ben Cheney attempting Eminem, Victoria Stalgot murdering Celine Dion, James Merchant desecrating Linkin Park, Lauren Mallory attempting Kesha and Jessica Stanley absolutely destroying Rihanna's Russian Roulette. There were many more soul destroying acts on the stage tonight and only decent one to come on had been Alice Brandon and her boyfriend Jasper Whitlock doing their own kind of funky rendition of the song 'Only Hope' from the movie A Walk To Remember.

"And now we have the last act to grace the stage tonight." Principal Green practically bellowed into the microphone. I don't think he realised that you didn't have to shout whilst speaking into it. I sighed rolling my eyes as I turned around, ready to leave. Clearly the letter had been a wind-up and now someone was laughing at my expense.

I stopped as the first few notes were played before they transformed into the pounding baseline. I turned to see the stage completely blacked out other than the old style mic that had been switched with the ordinary one that graced the stage. My eyes were glued to the stage as a pair of long legs appeared coming down the stairs that led up the back of the stage, widening as they stepped into the spotlight, humming lightly as was the beginning of the song. When I say it was the last person I had expected it to be that was an enormous understatement.

Bella Swan.

But she wasn't the Bella we saw on a regular basis.

Her hair was loose, flowing in deep, rich mahogany waves down her back, ending at her waist. Her usually pale skin had been enhanced with a light dusting of make-up, giving her a flawless complexion. She had made her eyes up, making them deep and entrancing as she stood there.

She was dressed in a pair of black skinny jeans, leather boots reaching just below her knee. I was wondering how she hadn't fallen down the stairs on her way onto the stage because those were killer heels she was wearing. Or maybe everyone else was just exaggerating how clumsy she was. She was wearing a black wife-beater with a black waistcoat covering it. She also had on what looked like black leather fingerless gloves. My eyes widened slightly as I took note of a tattoo flowing down her arm. I couldn't see what it was but I was going to find out later.

She was beautiful.

"Whoa, Swan cleans up nice, huh?" Tyler was standing next to me and I was about to tell him to shut the hell up, when she started singing, pushing all thought from my mind.

'Mississippi in the middle of a dry spell,
Jimmy Rogers on the Victrola up high.'

Oh, holy hell.

I'm so screwed.

'Mama's dancing with a baby on her shoulder,
Sun is setting like molasses in the sky.
The boy could sing, he knew how to move, everything.
Always wanting more, he'd leave you longing for.

Black velvet and that little boy's smile.
Black velvet and that slow southern style.
A new religion that will bring ya to your knees.
Black velvet, if you please.'

Her gaze scanned the crowd before landing on me, giving me a smirk. She knew she had the right song going and I had to say, I had never heard it sung in such a mesmerizing way. Not even Alannah Myles could compare to Bella Swan and Black Velvet.

'Up in Memphis, the music's like a heat wave,
White lightning bound to drive you wild.
Mama's baby's in the heart of every schoolgirl.
Love me tender leaves 'em crying in the aisle.
The way he moved, it was a sin, so sweet and true,
Always wanting more, he'd leave you longing for,

Black velvet and that little boy's smile.
Black velvet and that slow southern style.
A new religion that will bring ya to your knees.
Black velvet, if you please.

Every word of every song that he sang was for you
In a flash he was gone, it happened so soon, what could you do?'

The passion she was putting into the performance was incredible. Who knew that the shy timid girl I had been sitting next to every day in Biology could have this kind of voice? I certainly didn't. She was mesmerizing as the guitar solo rang through the crowd, her hips swaying gently from side to side, her eyes closed as she waited for her cue to resume.

'Black velvet and that little boy's smile.
Black velvet and that slow southern style.
A new religion that will bring ya to your knees.
Black velvet, if you please.

Black velvet and that little boy's smile.
Black velvet and that slow southern style.
A new religion that will bring ya to your knees.
Black velvet, if you please.

If you please . . .'

She gazed at me and smirked one last time before the song ended and the gym erupted in cheers and applause. She swiftly left the stage and I pushed my way through the crowd to get to her quickly, ignoring the calls from Tyler and the others.

It took me longer than I wanted to get to the stage area, where I encountered Ms. Cope who gazed at me expectantly.

"Can see Bella Swan, please? I need to talk to her." I said quickly, hoping that she would either let me back there or tell Bella I was here. Please, come see me.

"I'll just go get her for you." She smiled at me before turning around and making her way backstage. Thank you. I grew more antsy as I stood there, waiting for her to come back with Bella. I hoped that after that she would speak to me. I felt myself smile as I saw Ms. Cope returning, but my smile fell as I saw she was alone. "I'm sorry, dear. She's already left."

"Oh." Well that was a lame answer. "Th-thank you." I turned around and made my way out of the gym and towards my car, glad I hadn't gotten a ride from anyone.

I pulled out of the parking lot and made my way towards Bella's house. I know you might think it's weird that I know where she lives even though I've never really spoken to her before, but this is a town of three thousand people and her father's the Chief of Police. Everyone knows where she lives.

Chief of Police.

Maybe I should have thought this through.

I pulled up to her house, noting that the cruiser belonging to the Chief wasn't in the driveway, but her enormous truck was. Taking a deep breath, I turned off the engine and opened the car door. I didn't see any movement from inside the house, but didn't use that as a deterrent as I stepped out, closing the door and making my way towards the house.

I walked up the few steps and knocked on her door gently, hoping that she had come home and not gone anywhere else. I took a deep breath as I heard movement coming from inside, holding it as the door opened.

She stood there, a bewildered look on her face as she processed my presence on her doorstep.

"Hi." I said softly, releasing the breath I had been holding along with it.

"Hi." She smiled, folding her arms over her chest and leaning on her doorframe.

"That's about as far as I got." I admitted. Even though I had come over here, wanting to see her, I had no idea how to go about it or what to say to her.

"Okay." She smiled a little wider, shaking her head, causing her hair to fall around her shoulders lightly. "Did, um . . . did you want to come in?"

"Sure." I nodded and she stepped backwards, into the house, opening the door enough for me to walk through. Her house was nothing like I had imagined it would be. In actual fact, I had no idea what it would be like. Her home might not have been as extravagant as mine, but it suited her to the 'T'. It was comfy and lived in, exuding the feel of safety. A safety that went beyond the fact that the Chief of Police was one of its residents. "Won't your dad mind?"

"He's not back till late." She said over her shoulder as she made her way into the kitchen. It was clear that she hadn't gotten home long before I had arrived on her doorstep. She was still wearing her jacket and her ridiculous fuck-me boots. "You want a drink?"

"What do you have?" I asked as I followed her into the kitchen, seeing her pouring over what was in the fridge.

"We have coke, mountain dew, water, iced tea and beer. Unfortunately the beer is off limits because Charlie counts them." That surprised me. Who would have thought that Charlie would have to take inventory of his alcohol?

"Um . . . coke please." She smiled at me, passing me a can and grabbing one for herself before settling on the counter, popping the can open. I popped my own can and took a gulp of it before looking back up at her. "It was you, wasn't it?" She looked up at me. "Who put that letter in my locker?"

"Yes." She nodded, looking down at her can, becoming the shy girl I saw on a regular basis.

"You were right." She looked up at me, a mixture of shock and confusion on her face. "I don't feel like anyone knows who I really am. Or at least I didn't."

"What do you mean?" She asked, eyeing me as though I were about to attack her at any moment. Well, if she kept on biting her lip in that way, I can't be held accountable for my actions.

"You said you thought you sounded stalkerish, but you didn't. You sounded like someone who actually took notice of me as a person, even though we never talked outside of lab experiments. I can't remember why we've never talked before."

"Because you're popular and I'm not." She shrugged and I placed my can of coke down on the table in front of me, walking around it to stand in front of her.

"I thought you said you watched me sometimes." I raised an eyebrow at her and she looked away from me.

"I do." She whispered, so softly I nearly didn't catch it.

"Then you should know that I don't give a shit about school politics." I told her and she gave me a small smile. "I don't care about anything like that."

"You might not, but everyone else does." She said gently, her deep brown eyes not breaking contact with my own.

"What do you mean?"

"Your friends . . . others in the school. They're the ones who care. Like I told you, they've put your group on a pedestal and some of us just aren't allowed to approach it." She said this last part sadly, as though she'd wanted to but had been afraid.

"Well, if that's the case, then I want off." I told her calmly and she looked up at me, her eyes filled to the brim with confusion.

"What?"

"If it means that I'm not allowed to talk to someone with music tastes like yours," she smiled, a small blush appearing on her cheeks, "then I want off said pedestal. Anyway, I'm afraid of heights."

"Ha-ha!" She rolled her eyes, trying not to smile.

"No, seriously, I am." I told her honestly and she blinked at me, probably trying to ascertain whether or not I was telling the truth.

"Really?" She sounded stunned and I nodded. "Learn something new every day." She shrugged and I nodded.

"Bella, you can talk to me whenever you want to, you know that, right?" She shrugged and looked away from me. "I'm being serious. Who cares about the rest of the school? We've got a few months left and then we're off to college. Who really gives one about what everyone in this tiny town thinks?"

"Just think, everyone will be taking Seattle by storm." She smiled up at me and I chuckled, shaking my head.

"Not me." She tilted her head to the side, clearly confused that I wasn't headed to Seattle for college like everyone else. "I'm not going to U-Dub."

"And here I thought I was the only one."

"Where are you going, then?" I asked, wondering where she would be headed next year. I wondered if we'd be close to each other.

"Either Dartmouth or Harvard." She looked confused at my face which was clearly showing an expression of shock. "What's the matter?"

"I've been accepted to both." I couldn't help but smile as her lips pulled into a wide grin. "Looks like we're more alike than either of us thought."

"Apart from you don't notice me." She sighed, looking out the window, towards the front of her house. I hoped she wasn't praying her father would pull up and kick me out.

"That's not true." I shook my head and she raised an eyebrow. "I know that your best friend is Alice Brandon, but you didn't meet at school. You met at the playground down the street from the school. She stole one of your dolls and you fell over chasing her, making her feel bad. You've been best friends ever since." The shock on her face was evident, as it was clear she'd not realised anyone else knew that. "I know that you're right handed, but the only thing you use your right hand prominently for is writing." I'd learned that in Biology, noticing her when doing labs. "I know that there's one pen in your pencil case that has never and will never be used because it was the last thing your mother gave you before she left when you were eight."

"How do you know that?" Her eyes flashed with something I couldn't quite comprehend. I hoped that she wasn't mad that I knew all of that. Just how I knew it, I wasn't aware. Maybe I'd been paying more attention to her than even I'd realised.

"I notice things, too." I supplied evasively, shrugging.

"Not even Alice knows about the pen." She whispered quietly, her head bowing slightly, her hair falling down surrounding her, covering her like a veil. Well, that wouldn't do.

I made my way towards her, pulling her head up by her chin, tucking her hair behind her ears, brushing it over her shoulders. Holy fuck, that's some soft hair. "That's better."

"What is?" Her eyes met mine, her chocolate orbs, filled with wondering and hesitation. I didn't want her to worry around me. Even though I'd only talked to her tonight, something was pulling me towards this girl, something I wasn't sure about. Something that made me slightly nervous, but didn't make me want to stop.

"I couldn't see your face with your hair in front of it." She looked down slightly, her head still unable to move, considering my fingers were still under her chin and caught in her hair. A slight blush covered her cheeks, the same blush that appeared when a teacher called on her in class. It was an involuntary reaction that seemed juvenile on others, but made her seem all that more desirable.

She bit down on her bottom lip as she looked back at me, taking one of my hands in each of hers, pulling them away from her face lightly. She looked as though she was planning something, but wasn't entirely sure on how to carry it out.

She closed her eyes and released a deep breath. I was about to ask her if she was alright but before I had the chance to open my mouth, her lips were on mine. I stood frozen for a moment, at the pure shock before I was able to respond. Her lips were so soft, like silk brushing against my own.

She pulled away after a moment, looking away from me. "I . . . I'm sorry. I-"

"What for?" What the hell was there to be sorry for?

"I shouldn't have kissed you. I mean you're . . ." she gestured towards me, not really offering an explanation, "and I'm . . . I shouldn't have done that." She shook her head, trying to move away from me, but I grabbed her hips, not letting her escape.

She looked up at me, her eyes wide and shocked before I threw caution to the wind and crashed my lips to hers, more forcefully than she had. This time it was her who stood frozen. I hoped that she wasn't offended by my behaviour but it appeared that my fears were unfounded as her lips responded and her arms wrapped around my shoulders.

I flicked my tongue across her bottom lip and she parted her own, allowing me to search out her tongue with my own and . . .

Holy mother of fuck!

She tastes like strawberries and . . . a slight taste of whiskey. Hmmm . . . . yum.

I wasn't sure how long we stood there, tongues fighting for dominance, slight moans emanating from the both of us when she froze and pulled away from me. "Shit!"

"What?" I asked, slightly confused at her behaviour.

"My dad's home." Shit!

"Can he see us here?" I asked, wondering if I'd be saying goodbye to my balls anytime soon. She shook her head and glanced around.

"Come on." She pulled out of my embrace and lead me through to the living room as I heard a car door slam. I must have been really wrapped up in her not to notice the headlights across the driveway. "Take off your jacket and shoes." I hadn't realised I was still wearing my jacket actually. She grabbed it as I slid it off and threw it with hers over the arm of the sofa and pushed me down onto the same one. She slid off her boots – which I was disappointed in – as I took off my shoes. She tucked her feet underneath her and nodded at me to do the same.

I guess she was going for the casual 'we've been sat here talking for so long that we didn't realise the time'. Chief Swan wasn't going to fall for that, was he?

"So what were we talking about?" I asked her with a smirk and she shot me a glare. I could see that she was trying to fight a smile, so I wasn't too worried that I'd pissed her off. "Oh, come on, that's what we're going for here, right? I mean, that's why the big rush, am I right? So what were we talking about?"

She let out a giggle, running a hand through her hair and shaking her head as I heard keys in the door. "I don't know, I didn't get that far."

"How about, Lauren Mallory's butchering of 'My Heart Will Go On.'." I supplied and she let out a laugh.

"Bells?" I heard the gruff voice of the Chief as he closed the door.

"In here, Dad." She glanced and me, still giggling and I nodded, knowing to go along with whatever she said.

"Whose car is that out front?" He asked, stopping short when he saw me sitting on the sofa in his living room. The look on his face was one of territorial dominance. "Hello, Edward." He nodded, clearing his throat lightly. "I've had your mom on the phone tonight."

"Really?" I grabbed my jacket from where Bella had thrown it on the arm of the sofa. "She knew that I was going out tonight." I glanced at the time on my phone, seeing that it was half ten. I'd been out later than this before and not received eighteen missed calls from home.

"Might be because it's a school night." I looked at Bella and she blushed lightly. "Slip our minds, did it?"

"Kinda." Bella shrugged and I nodded.

"Little bit."

"Maybe you should be getting home, Edward." The chief chuckled, lightly, shaking his head. "No reason to let your mom worry more, is there?"

"No, sir." I shook my head, pulling on my shoes.

"I remember the time you ran away from her at the park." He chuckled and I could feel myself going red at the memory. Bella looked at me, an eyebrow raised in curiosity. "Never had a mother panic like that before."

Bella shot me an incredulous look, before giggling. "I was three!"

"Not that I blame her for freaking, though. If that had been Bells, I would have too. She's always been protective of you." By the smile on his face I could tell that he was referring to the fact that my parents couldn't have any more children.

"Too protective if you ask me." I rolled my eyes and he chuckled lightly. I glanced at Bella and she just seemed happy that he hadn't tried to rip my head off yet. Though, if he knew the we hadn't been sitting here talking for the majority of the evening, I was sure that he would have at least tried by now.

"It's understandable, though." He shrugged lightly, leaning against the doorway. "Considering the circumstances."

"What circumstances?" Bella seemed confused, looking between her father and I.

"That's not for me to tell." The chief held up his hands, glancing at me.

"I'll tell you tomorrow." She looked at me sceptically before nodding. Her eyes told me she wanted to know and I was just shocked that there was someone in the town who wasn't aware of the circumstances with my parents. Couldn't quite believe it, actually.

"So how come you're here, Edward?" I looked up at the chief to see that he had crossed his arms over his chest and was giving me a stern look. Now he's playing the father role.

"Dad, stop it." Bella sighed, recognising the behaviour her father was displaying. "My truck wouldn't start before the show tonight, so Edward gave me a ride."

"What about Alice?" His brow furrowed in confusion and I wondered how Bella was going to cover up the fact that she didn't get her best friend to give her a ride.

"She was on the design committee for the stage. You know that, Dad." The tone she used was one that every child has perfected. The 'duh' tone. The one that could make any parent believe they'd been given information when it was clear that they hadn't.

"Did you call Jake to have a look at the truck?" He asked, his brows raising as if to say 'if you don't, then I will'. Who the fuck is Jake?

"I'll do it at the weekend." She waved him off and he chuckled, shaking his head as he made his way into the kitchen.

"I better go." Her face fell before flickering in the direction of the kitchen. "Not because of your Dad." I added quietly. "But because I think my mom's going to organise a town hunt for me if I don't get back soon."

"She really is protective, huh?" She grinned at me and I nodded, standing up and slipping on my shoes and jacket. "Well then, we wouldn't want her to worry."

She walked behind me over to the door, leaning on the doorframe as I saw her dad disappear up the stairs. She followed my gaze and rolled her eyes, waving him off before shaking her head and turning back to me.

"My mom's not the only one who's protective." I said softly and she shook her head, smiling lightly. "I know it's annoying for us, but I can kind of see where they're coming from. I mean, you've gotta think, we're their only children. We can't really know how they're feeling. Not until we have that anyway."

"I know," she sighed, resting her head against the doorframe. "But you're right. It is annoying."

I couldn't help but laugh lightly at her words. She was right. It was annoying, but I could understand where my mom and Charlie were coming from with their protective tendencies. I guess it was better than them not really giving a fuck, right?

"Thank you, Bella." I whispered softly and she looked up at me, confused.

"What for?" If her expression didn't let me know she was confused, her tone certainly did.

"For reminding me that some people in this world are real." I said honestly. She immediately blushed and ducked her head down, her hair falling in front of her face, shielding her from my view. "Don't do that." I hooked my fingers around her hair gently, tucking it behind her ear. "Your hair's beautiful. You should show it off more. I'll see you tomorrow morning."

"Huh?" Her brow furrowed as she looked at me.

"Well, considering your truck is out of commission . . ." I smirked lightly at her as she bit her lip gently. "Can I pick you up for school tomorrow?"

"You don't have to do that. I mean, I can call Alice tomorrow. Charlie usually leaves before I do and gets home after me so he won't really know if I've used it, so there's really no reason for-" I placed my fingers over her lips, effectively cutting her off.

"One: If you use your truck tomorrow, Charlie's going to find out because you can't sneeze in this place without someone else knowing about it. Two: I didn't ask because I felt I had to. I asked because I wanted to." I moved my fingers, gently cupping her cheek. "Can I pick you up for school tomorrow?"

"Okay." She whispered softly, her eyes still wide and watching me carefully. Maybe she thought I was going to explode or something.

I pressed a kiss to her forehead gently before moving away from her. "I'll see you tomorrow." She nodded, waving slightly before leaning against the doorframe again. I could feel her watching me as I made my way towards my car.

I gave her a small wave as I climbed in and reversed out of her driveway. She stood at her door until I was on the road, before closing it as I drove off.

The entire drive home, I felt something I hadn't ever felt before. It was as though I'd bridged a gap inside of my chest that I hadn't even realised was there before tonight. I'd spoken with someone that actually knew something about me. Hell, she knew what my favourite song was, and that's not something many can brag about.

My mom was out of the front door before I'd even turned off the engine in my car, yanking open my door. I stepped out of the car and she pulled me down to her, muttering something about never doing anything like that to her again.

"Mom, calm down." I straightened up, gently easing her hands from around my neck and closing my car door.

"Don't you tell me to calm down!" She shot back, clearly not pleased with me. "I've been going out of my mind. Why didn't you answer your phone?"

"I didn't hear it ring." I told her honestly. I had been too wrapped up in Bella to hear it go off. "I put it on silent before the show and I must have forgotten to take it off when it finished. I'm sorry, okay? Now, can we go inside? I'm cold and you must be too."

She sighed gently and we made our way inside. My father looked over at us, clearly tired and wanting his bed more than anything at the moment.

"You see, Esme? I told you he'd be fine." He sighed, walked over to us and wrapping his arms around my mom. "There was no reason to worry."

"Something could have happened to him." She whispered softly, resting her head on his shoulder as he wrapped his arms around her.

"Mom, I'm fine." I tried to reassure her but she shook her head, holding up her hand, silencing me.

"Edward, the reason you have a phone is so that we can contact you, should we need to. We tried to contact you tonight and we weren't able to. It frightens me when I don't know where you are." Her eyes were wide, filled with tears and worry as her gaze ran over me.

"Well then what are you going to do when I go to college?" I asked her, hating that I had made her feel this way, but getting fed up with being treated like a child. I'd always been good about coming back when I was meant to, not wanting to worry her. About making sure that I had my phone on me and charged in case I needed it. But at this point in time, I'd had enough. I was getting pissed off with not having any freedom. My dad wasn't so bad, but with my mom, she wanted to know where I was every single minute of the day. I loved her, so much but enough was enough. "I'm not going to be here until the holidays, Mom. I'm not always going to be able to answer my phone when you call. There will be days when I'm not going to be able to contact you. What are you going to do then? Catch the first flight out to New Hampshire or Massachusetts? Call the police there because I'm not answering my phone? I'm not always going to be where you can see me, Mom. I'm growing up. It's time to let go."

The look on my mother's face was heartbreaking to say the very least. I turned around and made my way up to my bedroom, feeling like complete and utter shit. Sliding off my jacket and shoes, I collapsed onto my bed, hating myself at the moment. My mom was just worried about me, like I'd said to Bella. I closed my eyes, sighing gently, letting the air out through my nose as I rolled onto my side, feeling like the fucking hypocrite I was. Here I was, telling Bella that it was natural for our parents to worry about us and then I go and get all pissed at my mom for just that.

There was a knock at my door and it eased open before I could ever register it. "Edward?" It was my dad and I closed my eyes slowly, not wanting to deal with either of them. "I know you're not happy with the fact that your mother was calling Charlie, but it's just how she is."

"I know." I sighed, rolling onto my back again, leaning against my pillows. I looked at him to see that he looked absolutely exhausted. There was a good chance that he hadn't had a proper night's sleep in the last three days and I felt bad that he was still up, when he could have been resting right now. "It's just that . . . I'm eighteen and what's she going to be like when I leave for college in the summer? I'm not going to be able to answer the phone every time she calls and it might be a few days between calls or when I can answer emails or whatever. I mean, it's not even eleven yet and she's freaking out over the fact that I'm not home and this is Forks! Not really crime central. What's she going to do when I moved thousands of miles away?"

"I don't know." He sighed, shaking his head slowly. "Do me a favour, though, let her know where you're going in future?"

"She knew where I was going, though." I argued and he chuckled lightly.

"Yes, but we both know that the talent show finished hours ago." I nodded, looking away from him. "So, where were you?"

"I was with Bella Swan." I shrugged matter of factly as his eyebrows shot up.

"Is Charlie aware of that?"

"Yes." I nodded, thanking whatever power there was out there that he didn't know what his daughter and I had been up to moments before he walked in the door. He must have had some clue though. He wasn't that clueless. "He was the one who told me that Mom was panicking." He nodded in understanding.

"You and Bella are friends?" It took everything I had not to roll my eyes at his blatant segue into what relationship I may or may not have with Bella. To be honest, I didn't know what was going on with us. I wanted it to be something we could make last. Maybe it would be or maybe it wouldn't.

"Yeah." I shrugged, looking away from him. "I think so. I don't know." I sighed, shaking my head. "I don't know, okay? She's different to everyone else I know."

"Different?" He leaned against one hand that he had settled onto the mattress, close to my right foot and I narrowed my eyes at him. He knew how much I hated my feet being touched. He held up his hands, silently stating that he knew not to get too close lest he be kicked – which has happened before, mind you – before placing his hand where it was before. "How do you mean, different?"

"She's just unlike anyone I've ever spoken to before. She's smart, she's funny, she's absolutely beautiful and she's got a voice that would make any professional green . . . but I can't help but feel that, I don't know . . . she's too good for me."

"Don't let your mother hear you say that." My dad chuckled lightly. "In her opinion, no one is good enough for you, let alone too good for you."

"I know, I know." I rolled my eyes, nodding slightly. "Weren't you and Mom supposed to be at some benefit thing tonight?" I swear Mom had said it was tonight.

"No." He shook his head slightly, a small amused smile appearing on his face. "It's tomorrow night. Anyway . . . get some sleep." He reached out and ruffled my hair as he had done when I was a little kid.

Sometimes, I felt like that's what they still viewed me as. A little kid. Maybe they didn't seem to understand that I was in fact growing up. I wouldn't be their little boy forever.

The next day I picked Bella up for school, as I said I would and I could help but be surprised when she opened her front door.

The first thing I noticed was that her hair was down, not up in its usual knot thing. She was also wearing more . . . I want to say revealing, but that's not really the right word. Maybe, provocative? No? I'm not sure, but she looked absolutely incredible.

"Um . . . hi." She giggled at my stupidity. There was a light dusting of make-up covering her face, eyeliner or whatever it is girls used. She didn't need any artificial blush on. She provided that herself.

"Hi." She grinned back, her eyes shining with something I'd never seen before.

"You ready to go?" I asked, still feeling and probably sounding like an idiot.

"Let me just grab my jacket and we can get to the amazing place we call School!" She pumped her fist with fake enthusiasm and I had to laugh. I couldn't believe that I'd never seen this side of Bella before. I couldn't believe I'd never taken the time nor the opportunity to know this side of Bella before.

When she came back to the door, she slipped her jacket on and threw her bag over her shoulder. She stepped outside, locking the door before making her way down the steps in front of me. She pulled her hair out of her jacket as she walked and I swear to fucking god, it was like watching one of those ridiculous hair commercials on television. It was fucking luscious!

I opened her door for her and she gave me a cryptic look, raising her eyebrow at me. I shrugged, smiling slightly and she slid into the passenger seat before I closed the door and made my way around the car to my own side.

She spent the three minute car ride playing with my iPod, clearly wondering how I could have so much music on there. Meh, I liked music. What else was there to say?

"Thanks for the ride, Edward." She said softly as I killed the engine and turned to look at her.

"No problem." I smiled back at her, doing an internal fist pump as that blush that was so uniquely her appeared on her cheeks again. I reached up and gently tucked a few strands of hair behind her ear as I had done last night and she looked up at me again. "You wore it down." Well done, fucktard!

"Well, you said you liked it down, so . . ." She bit down on her bottom lip, the plump pink skin turning white at the indentation. I gently ran my thumb over her lip, easing it out from between her teeth.

"Don't change who you are for me." I told her seriously as she gazed at me. "Don't change who you are for anyone."

"Well, the clothes are Alice." She laughed slightly, looking down at her attire. "Her excuse was that I'd broken the mould of what I usually wore at the show last night, so I had no excuse to go back to what I used to wear."

"I liked what you used to wear." I shrugged as her eyes widened slightly. "It showed that you didn't want to fit into the barriers of what everyone else did. That you wanted to be yourself and didn't really care what anyone else thought. I mean, I could be totally wrong here, but that's the impression I got."

"No." She shook her head, a small smile appearing on her lips. "You're right. About everything. I didn't care. But . . . well, Alice does, so I couldn't really escape her."

"I see." I chuckled, checking the time, making sure we hadn't missed the bell. We still had a few minutes left. "Fashion Nazi?"

"Close." She nodded, rolling her eyes as she thought about her friend. "There are no words to describe Alice. She's been trying to get me to wear what she wants me to for years and now she's obviously deemed it time to really push to change my style."

"You don't have to change." I told her again. "You shouldn't change for anyone other than yourself. If you want to wear t-shirts and jeans then wear t-shirts and jeans. No one else can control you, Bella. That's completely up to you."

"Thank you." She whispered, resting her hand on top of mine gently.

"For what?"

"Being you." She leaned forward, her lips coming into contact with mine. She ran her tongue across my lips before pulling back and getting out of the car, leaving me stunned. I shook my head and followed her, scowling at her as she giggled lightly.

I held out my hand as we walked, clearly indicating that I wanted to take hold of hers. She looked at me, slightly shocked before slipping her hand into mine. It was obvious that she hadn't believed me last night when I told her that I didn't care about what the others thought, that if we'd been placed on some kind of pedestal, I wanted off.

I walked her to her first class, gently running my fingers down her cheek, loving the flush of heat that appeared under my fingers as I did so.

"Sit with me at lunch?" I asked softly as people walked past us, some clearly staring. She didn't look comfortable with the attention we were gaining, but hell, if people had a problem with me spending time with Bella, then they could come and see me about it.

"Um . . ."

"We don't have to sit with anyone else. Unless you want to. I mean . . . you wouldn't object to me joining you, Alice and Jasper, would you?" I asked, hoping I hadn't just overstepped any boundaries here.

I knew I hadn't when her face broke out into an adorable grin. "No, I wouldn't object to that. I think it'd be great. Are you sure, though?"

"Absolutely." I pressed my lips to her forehead before making my way towards my class. I turned to see that she was still standing in the doorway. I stopped, indicating with my finger that she needed to actually enter the classroom. She looked behind her before blushing a bright crimson and she disappeared. I chuckled before making my way to my class, barely getting in there before the bell went.

"What the hell happened to you last night?" Emmett asked next to me as I sat down. The class was still quite loud as our teacher had yet to arrive. He was always late by about ten minutes, so no one really bothered to look out for him.

"I had something to take care of." I shrugged and he narrowed his eyes at me, clearly not happy about my avoidance answer.

"Whatever." He shrugged, a smirk crossing his face. "Hey, Ty told me last night that his cousin owns a fucking ace bar in Seattle. He can get us in, no ID, no charge for drinks." He seemed to pleased with his discovery that he seemed not to notice my lack of enthusiasm.

"And that's supposed to mean something because . . ." I left the question open, wondering how intelligent the answer was going to be.

"College, man! Duh!" Ah, yes. College.

"Well, that'll be of more use to you than me." I muttered quietly, grabbing my notebooks and shit from my bag.

"What's that mean, man?" I could picture the look of confusion on Emmett's face at this moment. It probably looked exactly the same as it did when he was trying to work out a Calculus problem. "In case you've forgotten, UDub is in Seattle."

"I'm not going to UDub, Emmett." I sighed, running my hands through my hair, knowing that this probably wasn't the best place to do this, but it sure beat doing it somewhere he could really explode.

"What are you talking about?" He sounded confused and pissed. Probably at the fact I was splitting the group up.

"I'm not going to UDub. I never even applied there." I told him honestly, turning to look at him. His face was turning pink and I was suddenly worried that it wouldn't matter that we were in a crowded classroom and I would have to jump out of one of the windows to get away from him. We were on the ground floor so it wasn't too much of an issue, but still . . . who wants to do that when they don't have to?

"What the hell are you talking about, Ed?" His words came out as a growl and I was never any happier in that moment to have the teacher walk into the room than I was in that moment. He turned to face the front, a glance telling me that we weren't finished with this conversation. I didn't doubt that, as we both had frees next and I knew that he would grab me as soon as he could.

The class passed quickly, too quickly for my liking and soon, everyone was packing their shit up. I made my way out of the room quickly, hoping to avoid Emmett for as long as possible. But unfortunately, fate was not on my side today.

"Edward!" I heard him shout my name from down the hallway as I stopped at my locker, swapping my shit over. "What the hell, man? What's going on with you?"

"What do you mean?" I asked, closing my locker and walking down the hallway, not wanting to have this confrontation in front of everyone.

"What the fuck was that about you not coming to Seattle with us?" He snapped as we stepped outside.

"Exactly that." I turned to face him, dropping my bag on the picnic table beside me. "Emmett, I wasn't kidding when I said I never even applied to UDub. I'm not going there. I'm not staying in Washington."

"So, you're splitting us up?" He crossed his arms over his chest, clearly pissed.

"Oh come on, Emmett." I chuckled, shaking my head. "You really thought that I was going to stay in this shitheap of a place? There's nothing here. I actually want to do something with my life. But you've all been so preoccupied with your plans for going to Seattle, nobody actually paid attention to what I was doing. Did you know that I've been accepted to some of the top colleges in the country? Harvard, for one. Dartmouth. Columbia. NYU. Yale. I've been accepted into all of them. So why . . . when I could go to any of them and get away from here, would I settle for Seattle and stay somewhere that I've gotten everything I possible could of out of it. The only thing that would bring me back here is my parents. And they've accepted that they've got to let me go." Well, that might not be the exact truth, but he didn't need to know that. "Emmett, not everything stays the same. Things have to change."

"No, they don't have to." He sighed, running his hands through his hair. "You don't have to go away to do what you want to. You can stay here and still achieve what you want."

"No, Emmett. No, I can't. And nothing you say is going to make me stay. Now, you might not like the fact that I'm not staying here, but you can at least be happy for me, alright. Do you realise how many people dream about getting into one Ivy League School? I've gotten into four. So if you're the friend you've always said you were, you'll put the fact that we're not going to college together aside and find it in you somewhere, to be happy for me."

I grabbed my bag, turning around and making my way into the school. I hated that Emmett couldn't be at least proud that I'd managed to get into such colleges. The only other person I knew that had been able to was Bella. No one else in this shitheap had gotten into anywhere worth mentioning. Not that I knew of anyway.

Classes leading to lunch passed slowly, excruciatingly. I caught Rosalie glaring at me a couple of times and I knew that Emmett had told her what I had told him this morning. I couldn't really bring myself to care actually.

I waited for Bella at her locker and she grinned at me as she approached. "How did you know which one was mine?" She asked, her eyes narrowing at me.

"Please." I scoffed, rolling my eyes before grinning down at her. "I could tell you who owns each and every single locker in this place."

She looked down the hallway for a moment before nodding. "I'm not going to argue with that one." She looked back up at me, giggling softly. She laced her fingers through mine, gently pulling me down the hallway. "Come on."

She gently tugged me outside and I could see Alice and Jasper already. They were both watching the two of us approach, probably wondering what the hell Bella was thinking. Actually, the closer we got, the more prominent the knowing smile on Alice's face was. Jasper just looked confused.

"Hey, guys." Bella grinned, leaning into me as she stopped. "You don't mind if Edward joins us, do you?"

"No." Jasper waved to the bench opposite from him, giving me a grin, glancing between Bella and I as we sat down. "Had enough of the cafeteria then, Edward?"

"No." I shook my head and he raised an eyebrow at me. "Just the people in it."

They didn't ask for any other explanations than that, content to talk about little things that weren't of any importance really. It was so unlike the atmosphere in the cafeteria, where everyone was trying everything they could to one up each other. The guys trying to impress the girls and each other with their sports averages or some stupid shit that nobody cares about, and the girls competing with each other as to who could eat their lunch the slowest. How had I survived three and a half years of that shit?

"So, where are you going to college, Edward?" Alice's deep grey eyes were focusing on me intently as she took a bite of some wrap thing she was eating.

"I'm not sure yet." I shrugged honestly. "Either Dartmouth or Harvard. I don't know just yet."

"Wow." Jasper sounded surprised and not in the flattering way. "You got into Harvard and Dartmouth?"

"Yup." I nodded, taking another bite of my sandwich. "Got into NYU, Columbia and Yale too." His jaw dropped slightly and I couldn't help but chuckle. "Let me guess, you thought that because that lot in there is going no further than Seattle, I wouldn't be either."

"Well . . . kinda." Alice shrugged as Jasper wrapped an arm around her.

I shook my head, sighing gently. "Honestly, I can't wait to get out of this place. There are very few things keeping me here."

"What about your parents?" Jasper asked, his eyes searching my face, probably for any kind of deception. According to Bella, Jasper was an expert at reading emotions from people's body language. She had likened him to a human polygraph.

"They're one of the very few things." I nodded, glancing towards the building that held the cafeteria. "But the people in there that I thought knew me . . . no, they're not." I shook my head, looking back at the two in front of me. "I want to get out there and do something with my life and I can't do that in Washington. What about you? Where are you guys going?"

"We are both going to Northwestern." Alice stated proudly, beaming up at Jasper.

"Well, from what I've seen that's even more of a reason to get out of Washington." I chuckled and they all looked at me, confused. "It seems that everyone worth talking to is getting the hell out of the state."

The bell rang to get back to class and I couldn't help but internally groan. I didn't want to go back into classes. I could see why they came outside, even if it was cold enough for the term 'blue balls' to apply out there. It was quiet and secluded. They didn't have to worry about being interrupted by anyone. I asked Bella if it was alright for me to join them every day. She beamed up at me, nodding her head. I could see the curious looks we were getting as we walked down the corridor, but I really couldn't give a fuck.

As I walked her to her next class after Bio, I took her hand in mine before she entered the classroom.

"Edward, are you okay?" She quirked an eyebrow, tilting her head in confusion, moving aside so the others in her class could enter.

"I'm fine." I grinned down at her, seeming to put her at ease a little. "There was just something I wanted to give you before you went to class."

"What?" She shook her head, looking down at my hands, obviously wondering what the hell was wrong with me.

She gasped lightly as I pressed my lips to hers gently, savouring the taste of her on my tongue. I knew that people were staring, most likely whispering to each other about what was happening.

"That." I whispered into her hair as we broke apart.

"Wow," she whispered softly, taking a shaky breath. "I, um . . ."

"I'll see you after class?" I asked, hoping that she still wanted me to take her home. She looked up at me and nodded slowly, biting down on her bottom lip. She glanced behind her momentarily before raising herself up on her tiptoes, pressing her lips, chastely but firmly against mine before disappearing into the room. I couldn't help the chuckle that escaped me as I turned and made my way towards the library. Considering I didn't have a class now, it was where I usually waited until the end of the day.

Starting on my English homework, the time passed quickly until the bell signalling the end of the day rang. I scooped up all my shit into my bag, quickly making my way towards Bella's class. As I approached, my smile faded, her expression looking slightly shell-shocked to say the least.

Before I could ask what the matter was, Rosalie sauntered out of the classroom, a smug smile on her face. I knew immediately what had happened, glaring at Rosalie as she walked past me.

"Wait here for me, okay?" I whispered to Bella, my lips and nose in her hair. She nodded slowly, looking on the verge of tears as I moved away from her, following Rosalie. "Rose?"

"Oh, hi." She gave me her fakest of smiles, wide and full of teeth. I didn't buy it for a minute.

"Cut the crap, Rosalie." I snapped, stopping in front of her. "What the hell did you say to Bella?"

"I only told her the truth." She shrugged, not seeming to have any regard for Bella's feelings at all. But then again, I wouldn't expect anything less from Rosalie. She was the Ice Queen of Forks.

"And what would that be?" I leaned on the locker next to hers and she rolled her eyes, letting out an exasperated breath.

"She knows that she shouldn't be wasting her time." She smirked at me. "I just put her back in her place, is all." She glanced at me, quirking an eyebrow at my expression, which I was sure was bordering on murderous. "What? You know she's not in the same league as you, Edward. I mean, look at her. She's nothing. Boring and plain. She should know not to even try."

"And who are you to make that decision for her? Or better yet, for me? You're the one saying that, what? She doesn't deserve me? Maybe it's me that doesn't deserve her, have you thought of that? And for your information, I have looked at her and she's beautiful. Aside from being absolutely gorgeous on the outside, she's beautiful on the inside, too. Beauty doesn't just come from what people look like. It's who they are inside as well. She's smart, funny, articulate and unlike some people I know, she cares about how her actions affect other people. She's going to do things, go places that people here have probably never even dreamed of, while you're, what? Sitting at home with the children waiting for whoever you're with at that point in time to come home. Stuck here. With no ambition, no life and no real friends. Leave Bella alone, Rosalie. You might think that she's not worth the money you'd spend on gas, but in reality, she's sublime."

I turned around to see that Bella had followed me a little way, tears now streaming down her cheeks as she watched me approach her.

She wrapped her arms around my waist, burying her face in my chest. We stood that way for a few minutes as the mass of bodies around us decreased slowly until only one or two were remaining.

"I heard what you said to Rosalie." She whispered softly, pulling away and looking up at me.

"You did?" Shit! What would she think of my speaking to Rose in that fashion? I'd been a dick, I know, but hell, she'd deserved it. Bella hadn't done anything to warrant Rosalie's attack and it had pissed me off.

"Did you mean what you said?" She sniffed, blinking up at me. "About me?"

"Every word." I whispered, pressing a kiss to her forehead. "Because every word is true. I don't say things I don't mean. There's no point."

She smiled up at me, pushing herself up on her tiptoes and pulling me down to meet her lips with mine. Her hands wrapped around the back of my neck, pulling me ever closer to her as her fingers threaded into my hair. I groaned lightly, pulling away slowly. "We should stop."

"Why?" The defeat and hurt in her voice was palpable and I hated that she felt that way. Hell, the only way I was going to get out of this without hurting her feelings was to tell her the truth. Hopefully, she wouldn't think any less of me.

"Because I've got a bit of a situation going on here and us . . . like this," I gestured between us quickly, "not helping." Her expression was confusion and she was clearly going to ask what the matter was as she adjusted her bag on her shoulder slightly, brushing up against my now aching dick, causing some much needed friction. I closed my eyes, a small moan escaping my throat before I opened them again slowly. Her eyes went wide, her lips forming a small 'oh' as she processed what I was telling her. "Mhmm." I nodded and she smirked at me.

"Sorry." She whispered, biting down on her lip. I'm guessing she didn't realise how fucking hot that action was.

"What for?" I asked, confused. What the fuck was she sorry for? It's not her fault my dick can't control itself.

"Making you so uncomfortable." She whispered, her fingers curling in my hair.

"Okay, you keep doing that and I cannot be held accountable for my actions." I warned her, easing her hands out of my hair gently. "Come on." I whispered running my thumb across her cheeks gently, swiping the moisture away with it. "I should get you home."

"Okay." She replied, her voice almost inaudible as I unwrapped my arms from around her waist and took her hand in mine. "One thing I've always wanted to know." She asked suddenly as we made our way outside.

"What's that?" Stopping by the car, I unlocked it and held open the passenger door for her. She slid in, thanking me as she did so.

"How do you walk when you're . . . you know?" She blushed as I got into the car, chuckling lightly. Her hair fell in front of her face and I immediately tucked it behind her ear, sweeping it over her shoulder.

"Hard?" I asked and she nodded, her cheeks flushing again, the colour deepening. "It's not without its difficulties, that's for sure."

The drive back to her house was silent after that but I caught her glancing over at me a couple of times. Or should I say, glancing at my lap. And yes, he was still alive and raring to get at her. It was just lucky for me that I was wearing fairly loose jeans today, so it wasn't as noticeable. But the fact that she knew I was hard – and because of her – it seemed to turn me on even more.

"Thank you." She whispered softly, leaning over the centre console to kiss me gently. She brought her hand up to my neck, her fingers brushing over my hard-on, eliciting a fairly embarrassing moan from me. Her fingers curled around the back of my neck as the kiss turned from innocent and chaste to frantic and needy. Practically forcing my tongue into her mouth, I couldn't hold back the moan at the astounding taste of her. She was exquisite. I ran my fingers through her hair, holding her against me as our tongues continued to move in time to their own frenzied beat.

"Do you want to come in?" She asked breathlessly once I finally let her go.

"I um . . . I don't think that's a good idea." I shook my head, hating myself at the moment.

"Why not?" She sounded hurt at my words and remembering her standing there, the look on her face as Rosalie walked out of the classroom sprang to mind. She was going to be thinking that I didn't want her, even when it was extremely evident that I did.

"Because if I come inside with you, I'm not going to be able to control myself." I tucked a few strands of hair away from her face, behind her ear, pressing my lips to hers gently. "And that's not what this is about. I don't want to . . . rush into things with you. Even though it's been, what? Two days? You mean more to me than I could have ever thought. I don't want to risk that."

"You couldn't." She whispered softly, her eyes wide and imploring. "How could you think that you could? If I thought that you weren't worth it, do you really think that I would've sent the letter?" She had a good point there.

"No." I sighed gently. "But it's the way I was raised. I don't want to have any chance at messing this up, even before anything's started. And yes, I'm aware that that's exactly what I'm most probably doing right now, but hey, I'm an idiot. I can't even say what I want to say without it coming out and sounding completely fucked."

"I get what you're trying to say." She smiled at me, pressing her lips to mine. "I get it. I'll see you tomorrow, then?" She sounded hopeful, so I hadn't offended her, right?

"Can I pick you up again?" I asked, the same edge to my tone. I felt my body relax as she smiled and nodded before exiting the car. I would have walked her to her door, but certain circumstances rendered that plan extinguished.

After she had closed the door behind her I pulled out of her driveway and made my way home. Speeding home, I was glad to find that both my mother and my father were out.

I threw open the door, not bothering to take my shoes off before running upstairs. I was going to get it for that one later, but at the moment, I had more pressing things to take care of.

I slammed my bedroom door closed, locking it in case my parents came home while I was in the shower, before making my way over to my en suite, closing and locking the door behind me before stripping.

I stepped under the spray, letting the warm water wash over me, trying to calm myself down.

Wrapping my fingers around my aching dick, I bit down on my lip to stop myself moaning at the contact, wishing that it was Bella in here with me instead of my own fucking hand.

Stroking myself slowly, I closing my eyes, placing one arm on the wall of the shower, I allowed the image of Bella stroking my dick to enter my mind. As my pace increased, I imagined how it would feel to have her on her knees in front of me, her lips wrapped around my dick, moving in a slow, almost innocent rhythm. To have her there in front of me, my dick in her mouth as she watched me through her thick lashes. Watching me as I watched her-

"Fuck!" I hissed as I came with an intensity I hadn't ever experienced before, trying to remain standing as my legs nearly gave way. "Fucking hell."

Panting heavily, I cleaned myself up, washing all evidence of my release down the drain before climbing out of the shower and wrapping a towel around my waist. I couldn't hear anything coming from downstairs as I made my way into my bedroom, which meant that my parents were still out.

Pulling on a pair of boxers and a t-shirt, I couldn't help but wonder what Bella was doing. Was she thinking about me as I was her? Did she understand my reasons for not staying with her before her father came home? Or was she as pent up as I was and taking matters into her own hands.

I closed my eyes, stifling a moan as thoughts of Bella getting herself off popped into my head. That was just too much to think about.

And I was ready for round two.

The next few months passed in relatively the same way as that first day. I had taken to eating lunch outside with Bella, Alice and Jasper. They hadn't seemed to mind, and Alice actually looked so happy to see Bella and I together that she squealed when we approached her holding hands. I think Jasper now has some hearing problems in his left ear.

About a week and a half after Bella and I first started whatever it was we had going on, I asked her to be my girlfriend and after about two of the most painful minutes of my life, she said yes, claiming that she wanted to see me squirm.

Great, huh?

Things had been going well for the two of us. We'd met each other's parents 'officially' introducing ourselves as boyfriend and girlfriend. My parents seemed to be ecstatic at the development and while he had some trepidation in the beginning when Bella first informed him of our relationship status, Charlie seemed to be happy for us. He'd asked us not to flaunt it in front of him, which wasn't a problem. What we engaged in was better suited without an audience anyway.

As far as sex goes, there hadn't been any yet, but I had discovered that Bella made the most amazing sounds when I made her come. She was truly an enchantress and I had never tasted anything as exquisite as pure, unadulterated Bella.

Even though I was desperate to have my initial shower fantasy come true, I wasn't pushing Bella. She had never given head before and I wasn't about to be an asshole and demand it because I did it for her. Let me tell you, she might not have given head before, but she's incredible with her hands.

Not that our parents knew about any of that.

It was obvious that they knew what we got up to when we were alone, but as long as they didn't catch us, they weren't saying anything. It seemed that it was only at my house did things get heated, considering the Chief could be home at any time and it wouldn't really do well for me if he caught me fucking his daughter with my fingers and tongue.

Which she fucking loved, by the way.

It seemed that there was really only one person that objected outright to our relationship and that was Bella's friend Jake. When Bella had introduced me as her boyfriend, the smile on his face turned hard and unfriendly. I knew that he liked her. That much was obvious in his body language. Bella seemed oblivious to the changes in his demeanour as he stood there talking to us, shooting me daggers every few seconds.

But she hadn't remained oblivious for long.

A couple of weeks after I first met him, I arrived at Bella's to hear them having an argument around the side of the house. He was saying something about me not being good enough and only using her.

He had been round a lot of the time since I'd first met him and it appeared that Bella had finally caught on and called him out on it. He glared at me as I approached the two of them, Bella immediately melting into my embrace, tears streaming down her face. I had in no uncertain terms, told him that he had no idea who I was, what I was like and that having nothing about my character to go on, I let him know that if he ever insinuated that I was using Bella or hurt her how he was right at that moment, again, I would not be restraining myself.

He had called once, three days later to apologise to Bella for upsetting her. He didn't apologise for the things he'd said about me though, which just upset her even more and it took her sitting on me, restraining me as only she could do, to stop me from giving Jacob Black a piece of my mind.

We hadn't heard from Jacob in around three weeks or so and I knew that it was hurting Bella. He was her oldest friend and not having him to talk to was eating her up inside.

My friends on the other hand, I don't think really cared about my relationship with Bella. None of them spoke to me anymore, but I couldn't say that I was disappointed. In losing that group as 'friends' – if that's what you could really call them – I found real ones in Jasper and Alice. They were quirky and fun, doing things for the hell of it and I found myself being dragged out of bed at one o'clock in the morning because Alice found it necessary for the four of us to visit the 24hr diner on the edge of town for milkshakes.

And I found myself loving it.

Apparently all I'd needed was a bit of spontaneity in my life. Someone to pull the rug from underneath my feet every so often and then laugh when I landed on my ass.

That's what Alice and Jasper provided me with.

And being with Bella while all of that happened, just made it all the sweeter.

"Mom!" I moaned as she flittered about the place, essentially ignoring me as she readied the house for all of the guests that would be filling the rooms in just over an hour.

Today had been graduation and my mom was hosting a party for Bella, myself, Alice and Jasper. The ceremony went off without a hitch, which was surprising considering I had been chosen for Valedictorian. I was amazed that I hadn't fucked up my speech, or at least tripped on the stage at some point. Maybe walked into the podium or broken the mic at some point.

But none of that had happened.

I had focused on Bella, seeing her smile light up her face as she sat there in her rob and ridiculous cap. To be fair, everyone looked stupid in their caps.

"Don't worry, baby." Bella said softly, walking up behind me, wrapping her arms around my waist as her cheek rested on my shoulder. "I'm sure she won't go too overboard."

"You have met my mother, right?" I asked, glancing down at her and she laughed, her chest pressing into my back as she pushed me gently towards the stairs.

I turned in her arms, facing her and grabbing her hands, pulling her upstairs behind me. I locked my door as soon as it clicked closed, not wanting to be interrupted by anyone at all. Especially not Frenzy Lady downstairs.

"Are you okay?" She asked, sounding slightly anxious as she sat down on my bed, pulling me down with her.

I ran my fingers over her cheek gently, sighing to myself. "I just . . . what with graduation . . . I don't want to lose this." I whispered, feeling like a dick for even mentioning it.

"You won't." She cupped my face in her hands, forcing me to look at her.

"I don't even know what college you've chosen." I argued and her face became thoughtful as she bit her lip.

"You know how I've always been a bit . . . superstitious?" She asked, her eyes wary. I nodded slowly, wondering what the hell she was on about. She was always jumping over cracks in the pavement, checking her horoscope to see if anything matched up. Small things like that. "Believing in fate and stuff like that?" I nodded again, still failing to see where this is going. "Well . . . we both know that the other is going to either Dartmouth or Harvard, right? What if we don't tell each other where we're going?"

"What are you talking about?" She's gone mad.

"Well . . . if we don't tell each other and then we both end up at different colleges, then maybe it's just not meant to be." She sighed, looking down at my hands, considering hers were still around my chin. "But if we do end up at the same college, then just maybe, we're meant to be together."

"Have I ever told you that you're insane?" I asked, completely serious. Thing was, I knew that she was serious as well. She had no intention of telling me where she was going for college. "Fine. We won't tell each other where we're going. But just so you know, even if we don't end up at the same place, I'm coming to find you. You're not getting away from me that easily."

"I never expected to." She sighed, a small smile on her lips. She pressed a kiss to my lips, probably intending it to be innocent and chaste.

I deepened the kiss, pushing her onto her back on my bed. Her arms wrapped around my neck, holding me tightly to her body as my fingers ran up and down her ribs.

I kissed my way down her throat, biting down gently on the pulse point that lingered there. She moaned slightly as my fingers trailed up her thigh, reaching around to cup her ass with a gentle squeeze. Fuck me, she was wearing lace panties. Fuck.

I pressed gentle kisses down the valley in between her dress, which were nicely framed by the neckline of the deep blue dress that she was currently wearing. Thank you, Alice.

One thing I happened to love about this particular dress was that the design and shape of the neckline, straps and a few other things, made it so that Bella was unable to wear a bra. I hooked my fingers into the neckline gently, pulling the dress away and exposing the dusty pink, perfect nipple that lay beneath. Attaching my lips to her breast, I hooked my fingers into the waistline of her panties, slipping them down her legs slowly. She moaned, her fingers lacing in my hair as her back arched, forcing more of her breast into my mouth. I pulled her panties over her shoes – which were fucking death traps by the way – my fingers running up her thigh, skimming the sensitive skin.

I ran my fingers between her lips as I teased her nipple with my tongue, her fingers tightening in my hair as she moaned. I looked up at her, releasing her breast with a slight 'pop'.

"Ssh, love." I whispered. "You'll have to be quiet or I'll be forced to stop." With those words, I ceased the circling motions my fingers had been doing around her clit. She growled at me, wrapping her legs around my waist and holding me to her.

I pressed a kiss to her breast again before revealing the other one and clamping my lips around the pert nipple, giving it the same attention as the other. I resumed the motions of my fingers, teasing her entrance lightly before plunging two fingers inside her, quickly adding a third. She gasped out, her back arching and her grip on my hair tightening as I thrust my fingers in and out of her. She pulled my head closer to her as the skin of her nipple tightened even further against my tongue. Using my thumb to circle her clit, I bit down on her nipple and she cried out, arching into me as her walls clamped down around my fingers.

I removed my lips from her breast, my nose skimming along the fabric of her dress because there was no way in hell that I was finished here yet.

I removed my fingers from inside her, pulling her to the edge of the bed, so that her legs were dangling off the side. I slid off the bed, kneeling in front of her as I pressed gentle kisses to the inside of her thigh.

Her legs wrapped around my shoulders, her heels digging into my back as I dragged my tongue from her entrance to her clit. Sliding my fingers insider her again, I sucked gently on her clit, feeling her legs tightening at the back on my head, forcing my face even further into her. I increased the speed my fingers were pumping in and out of her and gently bit down on her clit. Her fingers tightening in my hair and her thighs clamped together either side of my head as she convulsed and came around my fingers.

As she calmed down slightly, I gently eased her thighs open, removing my fingers from inside her. I looked up at her as she lay, panting on my bed and I had never seen a more beautiful sight. She was laying there, the skirts of her dress spread out around her, her breasts completely on show, a content and satisfied smile on her face.

I leaned over her, pressing my lips to hers and she moaned as her tongue invaded my mouth. She was tasting herself on me and that was just fucking hot. She rolled us over, so that she was laying on top of me before she giggled and slid down my body, her fingers on my belt.

"Bella . . ." Her name came out as nothing more than a moan as she slid my pants down, her fingers skimming up and down my dick which was now feeling as though it was made out of titanium. "Fuck . . ." I felt my eyes roll back into my head and my hands gripping the sheets either side of me as her lips enclosed around my dick.

Her fingers gripped my legs tightly as her mouth eased down my dick, the pressure increasing as she sucked, gently scraping her teeth along the underside as she made her way back up. I lifted my head slightly, watching as she descended once again, watching my reactions through her thick lashes.

She ran her hands up my thighs as she sucked, her tongue swirling around the head on each pass. It was hard enough for me to keep quiet as she moved. She slowly reached up, gently tugging and squeezing my balls. My back arched off the bed, fingers fisting in the sheets as I exploded. To my amazement she didn't pull away, her fingers still moving against my balls as I came.

She released my dick with a small pop, letting go of my balls as she slid up and appeared in front of my face. "Hi." She grinned down at me, seeming proud of herself.

"I'll say." I panted, trying to catch my breath.

"Come on. We should be getting downstairs." She pressed her lips to mine, climbing off the bed. I sat up, tucking myself back into my underwear and straightening myself out.

"Where the hell did you learn to do that?"

"Well, whether you believe it or not, Alice has quite a vast porn collection." She giggled as I felt my jaw drop. She smirked at me, grabbing my hands and yanking me up. "Does that mean you liked it?"

"Understatement, baby." I mumbled before pressing my lips to hers. "Big fucking understatement."

"Good." She whispered, pulling me downstairs behind her.

The party was already in full swing when we got down there, people everywhere as we made our way towards the kitchen where we got ourselves drinks.

"Hey, you two." Alice and Jasper appeared next to us, knowing smirks on their faces. "Where have you two been?"

"Upstairs." Bella giggled, resting her head on my chest. Jasper winked and smirked at me and I rolled my eyes, shaking my head. I couldn't stop the chuckle that escaped, groaning lightly as I saw our parents making their way towards us.

"Here we go." I muttered into Bella's ear and she looked in the same direction I was. She groaned lightly, turning to face me, her arms wrapping around my waist.

I just hoped that the parents wouldn't be able to tell what Bella and I had been doing as well as Alice and Jasper had. Something told me that we weren't going to be that lucky.

The summer had passed quickly. Too quickly and in two days I was leaving for college.

And I still had no idea where Bella was going to college.

And I hated it.

Sitting on my bed, I couldn't help but wonder what would happen to us. I hadn't been kidding when I'd told her that it didn't matter to me if we ended up at different colleges. I would wait for her and find her.

I just hoped she believed me.

After the graduation party, I had spent every moment I could with her. We had spent practically every waking moment together. I wasn't ready to let her go.

She had started out as the shy girl I sat next to in Biology, only talking to me when we had to. When conducting lab experiments, or having to discuss something for class. But then she had taken a risk and sent me that letter, singing that song, the one that instantly told me that she knew me, even if I didn't know her.

And very quickly, she had become my everything.

I didn't know how to take her not wanting to tell me what college she was going to. Was that her way of telling me she didn't want to be with me after the summer ended? Was that her way of saying goodbye before we had to?

I hoped that it wasn't because then that would mean that she didn't feel the same way that I did. It had all started with a song and now I knew that there was something within me I could never erase.

I had fallen in love with Bella Swan.

The doorbell ringing pulled me out of my wandering thoughts and I was almost thankful. I didn't know who it could be. I knew that it wasn't Bella because she was busy packing to leave for college herself, saying goodbye to her parents before she left the day after I did.

Opening the door, I was surprised to see Emmett standing there, an unreadable expression on his face. I hadn't spoken to him since the day I'd told him I wasn't going to Seattle with the rest of them, so I couldn't help but wonder what he was doing here, standing on my doorstep.

"What are you doing here?" I asked, hearing the shock in my own voice.

"Can I come in?" He sounded tired. No. Not tired. More like exhausted. It was as though he had no energy left at all. This wasn't an Emmett I was used to and it unnerved me.

I stepped back, opening the door wider so that he could make his way into the house. He toed off his shoes, knowing my mom's rules about footwear in the house. Slippers and that was it.

"I wanted to say that . . . I'm sorry." He turned to face me, his expression slightly pained as he closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. "I shouldn't have reacted the way I did when you said you weren't coming to Seattle. It's just that . . . it's been us for years, man. The gang and I guess I just had a hard time getting used to the fact that we weren't all going to be together."

"We were never going to be together forever, Emmett." I sighed, running a hand through my hair, wondering how to tell him that I'd never really felt at ease with that group. Not like I did around Bella, Alice and Jasper. With the three of them, it was like it didn't matter who I was or what I'd done. They accepted me, faults and all.

"I get that now." He nodded, looking down at the floor. "And I know it probably didn't come off as such but . . . I am happy for you, Ed. I mean, you were Valedictorian; you've gotten into some of the best colleges in the country. Well, the best college in the country. And I'm proud that you've done that."

"Thanks." I gave him a small smile, which he returned, running a hand through his hair.

"So, which one are you going to?" He asked, grinning at me as if he was in on a secret that I wasn't.

"Harvard." I nodded and he laughed lightly. "What's funny about that?"

"Nothing." He shook his head. "Only that Tyler owes me fifty bucks."

"You bet on what college I would pick?" I crossed my arms over my chest, fighting the smile that was threatening to break free.

"Well . . ." He shrugged, not seeming ashamed of that fact. I shook my head, letting out a breath. "So, um . . . how are you and Bella?" He looked slightly nervous at broaching the subject of my relationship with Bella.

"We're good." I nodded, my thoughts heading back to where they had been before he arrived.

"She going with you to Harvard?"

"Honestly?" I breathed, shaking my head. "I don't know." His brow furrowed, confusion clear on his face. "Her final choices were the same as mine. She's kind of . . . superstitious, you know? Leaving things up to fate. To her, if neither of us knows where the other one is going and we end up in the same place it's meant to be."

"You don't feel the same way, though." It wasn't a question.

"Well, I've made it clear that it doesn't matter to me where we end up. I'm gonna find her no matter where she goes." I shrugged, not wanting Emmett to pick up on the depth of my feelings. But then again, it's Emmett. He probably wouldn't even if I told him flat out.

"Worth it, huh?" He smirked at me, raising an eyebrow.

"Definitely." I agreed quickly, knowing that deep inside my heart, she was it for me. "She's completely different to anyone I've ever known. To people who don't know her, she's shy and quiet. The girl who sits in the corner, not bothering anyone. But once you break through that initial shell . . . she's fiery and tenacious. She's smart and can hold her own in an argument. In some ways, she's a lot like Rose, just without the bitchiness that goes with it. Ah!" I held up a hand as he tried to argue that point. "Come on, man. She might be your girlfriend, but you know she's a bitch." He let out a breath, nodding along with my statement.

"I'm happy for you, Ed." He looked back up at me, his smile growing. "You're doing what you wanted. You're getting out of this place. It wouldn't surprise me if sometime soon, I'm seeing your face on the T.V. or in the paper." I shook my head, laughing at the conviction with which he spoke. "I'm serious."

"I know." I nodded, knowing that he was.

"I guess I'll see you around, sometime." He slipped his shoes back on before giving me a grin and a slight wave, disappearing out the door.

Maybe Emmett wasn't as clueless as I'd thought.

Harvard University.

It was just as it had been pictured in the brochure.

Red bricks and old buildings.

I just had to hope that Bella was standing somewhere on this very campus, thinking the same things I was. If not then it looked as though I was taking a trip to Hanover at some point in the near future.

As I unpacked, I glanced at the clock, seeing that it was nearing midday. After Emmett had left, Bella had arrived and we had made a decision. We weren't going to tell the other where we were going to college, but we were going to leave it to fate.

Well, she was. I didn't care either way. I would find her. No matter what.

We had decided that on our day of arrival – which happened to be the same day for both Harvard and Dartmouth freshmen – we would meet at midday. If we were at Dartmouth it would be outside the main entrance to the Baker-Berry Library and if we were at Harvard, the Three Lies statue.

At quarter to twelve, I grabbed my jacket and made my way down to the statue where I hoped Bella would turn up as well.

Closing my eyes, I leaned at the base of the statue, taking a deep breath and running my hands through my hair. I hoped that she was here. I needed her to be here. Either that or I was transferring to Dartmouth. I knew I was in deep and I didn't care. I needed her.

"Hi." I looked up to see a pretty blonde girl in front of me. She smiled at me, her blue eyes sparkling. "Are you alright there? You look kind of lost."

"I'm fine, thank you." I smiled back, hoping not to offend her. "I'm just waiting for someone." I hope.

"Okay then." She flashed me another smile before moving on to wherever it was she was going.

I glanced at my watch, seeing that it was already five past midday and Bella was never late. She was always early, no matter where it was she was going. If she didn't know where she was going, she left with plenty of time to spare in case she got lost.

Running my hand through my hair again, I couldn't help but tug at the ends in frustration. She was obviously somewhere else, waiting for me. Waiting somewhere I wouldn't be.

I looked at my watch, seeing that it was now ten past and plainly obvious Bella wasn't here. She wasn't in Massachusetts and it would be weeks before I could attempt to get to New Hampshire to see her.

Standing up, I turned to go back to my dorms glancing around stopping dead in my tracks when I saw a familiar head of brown, waist length, wavy hair making its way towards me. The girl looked up and I felt the breath leave my body as I took in the enormous chocolate eyes I had dreamed about so many nights in a row.

"Bella." Her name came out as a whisper, but as though she had heard it she sprinted towards me, throwing her arms around me as she sobbed into my shoulder. "You're here."

"Yeah." She choked out and I knew she was crying, seeing as the shoulder of my shirt was becoming damp.

"I thought that . . . I thought that you weren't here." I whispered into her hair, running my fingers through it gently. "You weren't here at noon and I thought that I was in the wrong place."

"I lost track of time unpacking and then my new roommate wouldn't shut up about whatever it was she was prattling on about. I literally ran down here, hoping that you were here and if you were that I hadn't missed you." She ran her nose along my jaw, inhaling gently. "Just think, a minute later and I would have missed you. We would have thought that the other one was in a whole other state."

"I don't think I could live with that." I replied, my nose buried in her hair. "I wasn't kidding when I said that I wouldn't let you go. I would have flown to New Hampshire looking for you."

"So would I." She admitted quietly, looking up at me through her thick lashes, laced with fresh tear drops. "I knew that I wouldn't be able to stay here without you and I knew that I'd look for you."

"So why did you come up with that stupid plan?" I laughed and she shrugged, shaking her head.

I leaned back slightly, running a finger under her chin, tilting her head up so that I could brush my lips against hers, whispering the words I never wanted her to hear from anyone else.

"I love you, Bella."

She froze, pulling her head away from me and I felt my heart drop instantly. She didn't feel the same way. Before I knew what was happening, she had grabbed my head and pulled my face down to meet hers, her lips crashing against mine.

"I love you too, Edward." She whispered and I instantly felt like I could fly. I'm a pansy, I know, but I really couldn't give a fuck.

I was at the college of my dreams, my arms around the waist of and my lips attached to the lips of the girl of my dreams.

I'd say that life was going pretty damned well at the moment.

And I wouldn't change a moment of it.

And to think, I had to thank a letter and a song.

Maybe Bella's ideals of fate and superstition weren't that far-fetched at all. When it came to Bella, I would try anything once.

And I had a feeling I would be regretting that sentiment at some points in my life.

But as long as I had Bella by my side, I couldn't care less what the world would bring. She was all I needed to make everything right.

And now that I've found her . . . I'm not letting her go.

Ever.