Title: Just a Friend
Pairing: Bella/Rosalie
Word count: 7,163
Rating: M
Summary:It took a long time for Bella to understand and accept that her best friend, Rosalie, was gay. When her own feelings for Rose become something more than friendship, how will she handle it? More importantly, how will Rosalie react?


"How do you…you know…how do you know that a girl's into you?" I asked, staring at the ceiling. The blue glow from the alarm clock beside us was the only light. "I mean, how did you and Alice get together?"

She rolled over and faced me, propping her head on her hand. I couldn't make out her expression.

"Why?"

My face grew hot. "Just curious," I blurted out. Too quick. She caught it.

"Bella, are you telling me you're crushing on someone? On a girl?" Her incredulity was humiliating. Was it so unbelievable? Unthinkable? I didn't answer, so of course she persisted. "Who is it? Do I know her? Oh shit, have I fucked her?"

"Rose! Please." Could this be any more embarrassing? I should have kept my mouth shut.

She laughed. "Sorry babe. Seriously though, are you, like, attracted to someone?"

Just say it, Bella. Tell her. Tell her you want her. The worst she can do is reject you. Say it.

"Of course not. I mean, not really. I was just asking."

Coward.

Rosalie Hale had been my on-again, off-again best friend since freshman year, when we'd been paired in gym class and I knocked her in the head with my badminton racket. At the time, I was terrified. Rosalie was known as a cast-iron bitch with a venomous tongue. At a middle-school dance I had watched from the sidelines as she reduced one of the most popular, independent, strong-willed girls in our class to a sobbing mess. The fact that she talked to me—rather than beating me to a pulp—after I bruised her temple was surprising enough. The fact that we became friends was a miracle of epic proportions.

Rose was everything I wasn't: beautiful, tall, popular, and openly sexual. Every guy wanted a page in her black book, and if the rumors were true, many of them were already in there. I, on the other hand, was shy, plain, practically invisible—and a clueless virgin.

Yet Rose and I had some things in common. We loved music and introduced each other to new artists. Our tastes meshed perfectly. Rose was crazy, silly, and fun; she was always willing to take risks, like reading The Joy of Sex in the public library in front of everyone or sneaking a flask into school for nips between classes. She was the kind of person I wished I could be, living out and loud and just being who she wanted to be. It often made me wonder why she kept someone like me around. Maybe she saw me as a project of sorts—she made it her mission to improve my wardrobe, teach me how to apply my makeup correctly, and encourage me to think (and talk) about sex as much as possible, preferably without giggling or blushing, which she found annoying.

When we were around other people, on the other hand, I was often the butt of her jokes, so I often suspected that she saw me as a target. When I'd get upset, she'd tell me I had no sense of humor, but if I didn't get upset, she'd poke at me harder. It never occurred to me to stop her, or stand up for myself; who was I? Just plain old Bella Swan. If this was how Rosalie treated friends, I was certain I'd never want to be her enemy. Better to keep my mouth shut, laugh with the punches, and wait for the next time we could just be alone together.

When we were alone, Rose became someone completely different.

I was surprised to find that she was almost as much of a loner as I was; besides me, she didn't seem to have any really close friends. When she wasn't spewing venom at classmates or turning up the sex on the boys, her voice was soft and her demeanor almost as self-conscious as mine. She would share personal things with me, secrets, things that I knew she wasn't sharing with anyone else. As a result, I was certain I knew her better than anyone.

I was so wrong.

She rolled onto her back. "Whatever, Bella," she huffed. I hated when she did that. I just knew she was thinking how ridiculous and immature I was being, asking her questions out of the blue and then retracting them. She thrived on information, secrets, truth-or-dare type admissions that would give her a thrill (or ammunition).

"All right, listen," I sighed, ducking my head into my pillow. She, on the other hand, rolled back onto her side in a flash. Even in the dark I could see her eyes lighting up. "Let's just say, I've…maybe developed some…feelings for someone." If my face got any hotter, the pillowcase might just catch fire. "An attraction, I guess."

"What about Edward?" she asked.

What about Edward?

I pictured my boyfriend. It still amazed me that someone as gorgeous and popular as Edward Cullen wanted me, loved me even. He was an amazing guy and a great friend. I didn't want to hurt him. I didn't know what I wanted, to be honest.

"I love Edward, of course," I answered. "This isn't about him."

"Fine. Okay. Then who is it about?" Her persistence was annoying. There was no way in hell I was going to admit the truth to her, no matter how hard she pushed.

Not this time.

Late in our sophomore year, Rose abruptly cut me out of her life. She stopped calling. She started dressing differently and hanging out with people I'd thought were just acquaintances. Rumors flew.

Did you hear about Rosalie Hale?

She likes girls! It's gross!

I always knew there was something wrong with her.

Guess what? Rosalie's a dyke!

Did you see her hair? She cut it all off. Must be going for the butch look.

The rumors continued throughout the summer. By the time junior year started in September, everyone knew that Rosalie Hale was dating Alice Brandon. They were "together together," as the gossips would whisper. A town like Forks was too small to keep a secret like that quiet for long.

The entire thing blew my mind. Alice Brandon and I had gone to elementary school together. I'd watched her chase boys around the playground for years. Rosalie had a book of conquests—male conquests—that actually had volumes. How could either of them be—that?

Two women? If two women could have sex, then two men could as well. Ewww. Gross! Did they, like, penetrate each other? And what about the women? Where's the sex come in if neither of them has the…equipment?

I was clueless. I'd barely made it around second base with a boy. I'd never considered homosexuality in any form, not even in the abstract. A year earlier, if someone else had come out (or been outed), Rose would have been the one I posed my questions to. She would have laughed at me, for certain, and probably trotted out my ignorance for others' enjoyment as well, but she would have answered me honestly.

Instead, it was Rosalie herself coming out, and I was on my own.

In my meaner, more petty moments, I joined in with the people who made fun of their relationship. I speculated openly with people about the mechanics of it. I scorned them for being together, because it was wrong, and weird, and confusing. I was "so glad" Rose had cut me out, because "oh my God, she might have wanted to do that with me!" For the first time ever, I felt superior to Rose. She was the butt of everyone's jokes now.

It made me stupid. It made me blind. And it made me hateful.

As time moved on, however, I adjusted to the idea. Sometimes I would think about Rosalie and wonder what life must be like for her with all the meanness and hate being thrown at her. She and Alice sat with a small group of people at the far end of the cafeteria, and they were all generally regarded as "oddballs" and "queers" and summarily ignored by the rest of the students. Except me. I watched them, mostly out of curiosity. I paid attention to how Rose and Alice interacted, noting the subtle touches under the table, the intense looks when they thought no one else could see, the total absorption they had in each other's every word. They didn't seem all that different from any other couple in the room, except of course for the fact that they weren't playing tonsil hockey over lunch like everyone else.

They couldn't even hold hands. That was…wrong. If they were in love, why shouldn't they be able to show it like other couples did?

"It's no one, Rose. I'm just wondering about the—the logistics of it, I guess." I was on my back again, staring at the ceiling and wondering why I'd started this. "I mean, it's not like I have any clue about how to know if a boy likes me or not, but I would imagine it's a lot harder to take that step with a girl…" I trailed off, hoping she understood what I was getting at.

"You knew Edward liked you, right? How did you two get together?" She liked Edward, and especially liked hearing about my sex life with Edward, but I'd never really gotten into specifics about the beginning of our relationship.

"We had Biology together. We were lab partners. I don't know how it happened, really. I mean, you know me, I was all nervous and awkward and completely mortified for him that he had me as his partner. He was kind of weird at first, which didn't help; I thought he didn't like me. But then we had to do a lab together, and we started talking, and it just kind of moved on from there."

"You're such a freak, Bella," she laughed. "You really don't see yourself very clearly, do you?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, you're so intent on this idea of yourself as weird or somehow unacceptable to people. But you're far more acceptable than I am, especially now of course, but even before, when we first met. You were always so understated, dressing in baggy clothes and never wearing makeup or doing anything to enhance your appearance, but you still had guys like Mike and Eric and Tyler following you around like puppies."

I snorted. "Don't be ridiculous. If Mike Newton ever looked twice my way, it was because I tripped over his big feet or bumped into his table on my way to the door. And Eric? Chess Club Eric? I'm supposed to feel attractive because Eric followed me around? He followed any woman with a pulse who didn't beat his ass into the ground for it."

"What about Tyler then? He did ask you to the freshman formal."

"That was guilt, Rose, nothing more. He felt bad about crashing into me with his bike and nearly killing me that time, and he wanted to make it up to me."

She shook her head. "Whatever Bells," she huffed again. "So what do you think attracts Edward then? Does he have a brain disorder? Is he blind? I mean, it's not like Edward was some clueless Chess Club geek with a crush. You're dating one of the hottest guys in Forks, and he loves you and wants to get naked with you at every opportunity. If you're so completely average, what's his deal?"

She had a point.

Edward and his brothers transferred to Forks High in late October of junior year, and their arrival caused quite a stir. The Cullens were wealthy, beautiful, and to this tiny town, a novelty of epic proportions because they were from California. Emmett and Jasper Cullen were both seniors. Emmett was a jock and immediately fell in with Mike and the rest of the steroid squad. Jasper was a go-getter future-MBA type who used his charms to influence girls into the backseat of his yuppie mobile.

Edward, the youngest, was so different from his brothers I often wondered if he'd been adopted. Whereas his brothers were blonde and blue-eyed, Edward had auburn hair and green eyes. They were broad-shouldered and overly muscular; Edward was tall and lean. They were outgoing and obnoxious; he was quiet and musical. They were good-looking; he was nothing short of beautiful. The first time he walked into Mr. Banner's classroom you could almost hear the hearts breaking, and every cheerleader or wannabe supermodel in the room had smiled so wide and batted their eyes so hard it looked like the class had been overcome with an epidemic of facial tics. I was just as overwhelmed by him as everyone else, but I knew he was light years out of my league, so I'd hunkered down over my lab table and tried not to make eye contact with anyone, especially him.

Then he'd sat down beside me. I had forgotten that mine was the only table with an available seat. No one else had been particularly inclined to partner with me, so I'd been working solo. Now I had an actual Greek god as my partner, and I wondered what I'd done to bring down the wrath of Zeus on my head.

"Um, hi," I'd stammered out, trying to be polite. "I'm Bella."

He'd looked at me so strangely, almost as though I'd insulted him simply by speaking. I immediately bit my lip and turned away to hide my embarrassment. Clearly I'd overstepped my bounds. Mere mortals were not meant to fraternize with the residents of Olympus, after all.

"Edward," he'd responded finally. From the corner of my eye I saw him still staring at me, and I blushed in my usual freakish way and resigned myself to spending the rest of the year in my own private Hades. I then spent the better part of the next two weeks making an effort to avoid speaking to, looking at, or even thinking about Edward Cullen, but our close proximity in class had made it difficult. Sometimes he would pull his stool so close to mine I could actually feel his body heat against my arm. I'd convinced myself that he was screwing with me deliberately, that he knew exactly how attracted I was to him and figured he'd torture me into responding so he could have a laugh at my expense. I refused to give him the satisfaction.

Then the frogs came. Not a rain of frogs, thank heavens, but rather, a collection of dead ones, primed and ready for dissecting. It might as well have been a plague as far as I was concerned, however; I'd been dreading this lab since the first day of school. No way was I going to be able to cut open a frog and poke around inside its parts. I'd stared in horror at the poor creature tacked to the tray in front of me, wondering how I would make it through the double period without being sick.

"If you'd like, I'll do the cutting and you can take the lab notes," he'd said in a quiet voice. In a massive wave of relief and gratitude, I looked up at him and smiled my widest, happiest smile. His eyes widened, and I immediately blushed and turned away.

"Er…that would be great, if you don't mind, I mean," I mumbled, trying to avoid freaking him out any more than I had already. "I'm a little squicked about this kind of stuff."

"Squicked, hm?" His voice sounded friendly enough, so I dared to look up at him. He was smiling at me, so I gave him another small, more tentative smile. Oddly enough, this made him smile more. "Good word."

"Thanks, I guess. And thanks for doing this," I gestured to the green corpse before us. "I hope my chicken scratch writing won't be too hard for you to read."

"I'm sure it'll be fine, Bella," he said, and hearing my name on his lips for the first time made me tingly. I picked up my pen, and he picked up the knife. Soon we were talking, really talking, and I learned about his previous home in California, about his family, about his love for the piano and his ambition to be a composer. All the while, he dug through the frog's bits and pieces and I jotted down the notes. It was going fine until he cut himself with the blade while cleaning up. I'd passed out cold at the sight of the blood, and he'd had to half-carry me to the nurse's office.

"Honestly, Rose, I still don't know what he sees in me. We've been together for more than a year and a half, and I still can't believe it." I shook my head as I questioned for the millionth time my own luck in finding someone half as wonderful as Edward to love me. Then I remembered why we were having this discussion, and my thoughts turned to guilt and shame for even thinking about anyone else when I was already so blessed.

But I was thinking of someone else.

"He loves you." It was a statement, not a question. Rose knew how devoted Edward was. It annoyed her to no end—because, as she'd confessed recently, she was jealous. She missed Alice.

"I know." It was all I could say.

"But that's beside the point," she said, shifting herself into a new position. We were crammed into her twin bed, which left limited space for either of us to get comfortable. It was also making this conversation a lot more difficult for me to deal with.

"Which is what?" I said, trying to deflect.

"Why are you asking me for dating tips with women?" She raised her voice in frustration, and I shushed her with a reminder that her parents were in the next room sleeping.

"I'm not looking for tips!" I hissed. "I'm…just curious about how you approached her. How did you know she wouldn't freak out? Did you know? You guys had been friends for ages, so how did you take that step?" I'd asked myself this question for years now, whenever I'd stopped to think about Rose and Alice, but in the past few weeks it had come up more and more often in my thoughts.

And usually not in reference to Alice.

"It just sort of happened, I guess," she finally answered. "We were watching a movie, and sitting close together, and I just reached out to touch her arm. But then she leaned into me, and suddenly we were just kind of cuddling on the couch. It was killing me. I'd been thinking about her for months, terrified of revealing myself to her. It had taken me so long to admit to myself who I really was, you know? And then I'd had to take a look at everyone around me and figure out who fit into that new life and who didn't."

"Like me."

"You know why."

"Yeah." I couldn't argue with her about it. I'd been a narrow-minded idiot, there was no way to deny it. I closed my eyes, picturing Rose on the sofa downstairs, curled up with Alice in her arms. Then the picture changed, and Alice disappeared, morphing into a much more familiar shape.

Mine.

"So then what?" I asked, shaking the fantasy away.

"I started getting to know some people outside of school, people who knew the scene out in Seattle. I couldn't drive, but I got a fake ID and they'd come get me and take me out for weekends at the clubs there. I made out with a couple of women, and then one night I had sex with one of them. It felt right. I'd had a ton of sex by then, with guys, but this was different. She kinda took me under her wing for a while. She taught me about toys and positions and how to stay under the radar." She laughed quietly. "She had no idea how impossible it is to fly under the radar in a town like Forks."

Pausing for breath, Rose lifted her arm up behind her head. It made her breasts rise, and backlit by the clock, they looked like a mountain vista at sunrise.

Breathtaking. I had to look away.

"Alice was the dream girl. I never thought in a million years she could ever feel the same way. I was terrified that if I made the move I wanted to, she would reject me outright and hate me forever. But there we were, so fucking close! I could smell her, touch her, feel her weight on me, and I wanted so much more of her."

She paused again.

"So I took the chance. I kissed her."

"Just like that, you kissed her?"

"Yeah. And yeah, it freaked her out for about half a minute. She pulled away from me and kind of stared at me, wide eyed, like she was seeing me for the first time. I don't think I breathed the whole time. Then…she smiled at me and kissed me back."

Rose turned, and her hair brushed my face. It was soft and smelled like the fruity shampoo she used. I wanted to touch it, brush it, wrap my fingers in it and pull her to me…

Stop. Stop. Must stop.

"Did you—never mind." Too personal.

She snickered. "Did we what? Fuck right then and there?"

"That's personal, you don't have to answer. I'm sorry." I stumbled over the words in embarrassment.

"Did you and Edward get right down to the sexing after your first kiss?" she taunted, knowing full well that we didn't. We'd fully covered my limited sexual history many times over already.

By Thanksgiving, Edward and I had become close friends. As the junior winter formal approached, I debated asking him to go with me and prayed he would ask me first. After all, we spent all of our days at each other's houses and our nights on the phone. He played me pieces he'd composed and I read him bits of poems I'd scribbled. We talked about everything. I knew he wasn't seeing anyone. It made sense, then, for us to go together, right?

But the days had ticked by without a word about it. We were walking to my locker after class when I finally summoned up the courage to ask him, and I was crushed to learn that he was already going with Jessica Stanley, one of the cheerleaders.

"I'm so sorry, Bella. She asked me right after we moved here, before you and I became friends," he'd explained in a rush. "I said yes because I didn't know anyone else. Believe me, I would love to go with you if I could."

"Sure, it's—it's okay," I'd attempted a smile, but my throat was knotting up. "I understand." Jealousy was raging inside me, but at the same time the voice in my head told me that it made sense. Jessica was beautiful, popular, and a vapid skank (okay, that part was the jealousy talking, but it was true nonetheless)—it was no question that she was much closer to Edward's level than I was. I'd been dreaming to think that he'd still be free this late anyway. Besides, I would have hated to think he was going with me simply because he felt obligated, knowing I didn't have a "real" date.

I'd turned away from him, making a show of putting my books away, packing my bag, doing anything to keep him from seeing the tears that threatened. I had to get away from him.

"Bella, look at me." His voice was soft, pleading. It was the voice he used just for me, the voice that had made me think that perhaps I was special to him. Hearing it at that moment had cut me even deeper, and the tears flowed freely.

"No." I shook my head and looked away from him, down the hall, while I clenched my jaw and tried to get a grip. He came around behind me and put himself directly in my eye line, forcing me to look at him.

"Don't cry, babe." He reached out then and wiped away a tear with his thumb. His other fingers wrapped beneath my jaw, cupping my chin, and he used them to tilt my face up to his. In a moment of delirium I imagined him kissing me, wanting me, loving me as much as I was coming to love him. And then I realized that it wasn't a dream. Edward Cullen really was kissing me.

With the exception of the winter formal, we'd been inseparable since. Despite his misgivings about leaving me alone—and about being alone with Jessica and her wandering hands—Edward had kept his promise to escort her to the dance. But he drew the line at going to after parties without me, and they had parted as soon as the dance ended. Jessica had stomped off in search of a more willing victim, and Edward had come to my doorstep in his tuxedo and surprised Charlie and Renee by asking their permission to dance with me in the living room.

It was the most romantic apology ever.

"Of course not," I retorted. "Our first kiss was in the school hallway. I think the teachers might have noticed if we'd started fucking right there on the spot." Not that I wouldn't have let Edward strip me naked and bury himself in me at that moment if he'd wanted to. If I'd known then how talented he was, I would have insisted on it.

"Well, neither did we, although I will admit we got pretty far with the nakedness and groping. If my parents hadn't come home…" she trailed off. Her head sank down into her pillow. She was thoughtful, remembering that day probably, and her lips pulled up into a sexy half-smile. I felt a flash of jealousy. She was thinking of her, not me. I turned onto my side roughly. The weight shift and corresponding bounce from the mattress caused our bodies to collide briefly. I groaned inwardly but rushed to apologize as I pulled away from her.

"It was an accident Bells, quit freaking out. What's with you tonight, anyway?"

By Valentine's Day I was no longer a virgin. Sex with Edward was crazy, wild, hot—what can I say? We were horny teenagers!—and it changed my perspective on a lot of things. I read more about sex. I thought about sex all the time. Edward and I had sex in all kinds of places (the janitor's closet at school was our most daring) and all kinds of positions. My life was Edward, sex with Edward, loving Edward, and more sex with Edward. I finally understood what Rose had been trying to tell me all along—sex wasn't something to be ashamed of. It was a way of expressing love. It was natural and fun and had endless possibilities.

My thoughts drifted to Rose and Alice more often in those days. I realized that you couldn't control who you were attracted to, it just happened. Love was love, regardless of the object. Knowing that, I understood finally why Rose had cut me out: the Bella Swan she had known then could never have accepted her for who she was. That Bella had been too naïve, too narrow-minded, too raw and inexperienced. But I wasn't that Bella anymore, and in the weeks leading up to the end of school, I made attempts to reconnect with Rosalie and with Alice as well. It took a while, but eventually they started letting me in.

Rose invited me out with her and Alice, included me and Edward in parties, and even shared intimate details and secrets, trusting that I would keep them to myself. They weren't afraid to kiss in front of us or express their affection openly in other ways. We became part of their trusted circle. I had been lucky to find that Edward was just as accepting of them as I was—maybe more so, since he'd accepted them without any question or prior knowledge of them at all—and they had welcomed him in return.

Yet being a part of their world wasn't easy. I learned quickly to ignore the terrible things that were whispered about me in classes or shouted from across the cafeteria when Edward and I took our places at their table. There had been some spiteful gossiping after Edward and I started dating anyway, so it wasn't an entirely new experience. The things being said now, however, were far more vicious. We ignored it all.

We also didn't talk about Alice and Rose's relationship with anyone. They weren't out to their families (although we all believed this was denial on their parents' part, because everyone else in town knew about them), so we came over "to visit" and then ran interference to get them alone time. Ultimately, this meant that we all witnessed more than our share of their most intimate moments. We did our best not to stare and to give them their privacy whenever we could, but sometimes it just wasn't possible. On more than one occasion I'd found myself trapped alone in the backseat while Rose and Alice made out in the front, or walked into a room just as they were getting hot and heavy. It didn't freak me out—well, okay, it did freak me a little bit the first few times, but I got over it—I would just step out quietly and find ways of entertaining or distracting myself until they were finished. Usually by finding or calling Edward and getting hot and heavy in our own various ways.

On our senior trip, I roomed with Alice and Rose, and although he was "officially" rooming with Mike, Ben, and Austin, Edward snuck into our room late at night. One couple took the bathroom and the other took the beds, and we alternated as necessary for privacy's sake. But there was plenty of listening and watching going on as well. I knew for a fact that Rose had watched me and Edward one time during the night. I had seen her at the doorway to the bathroom, where Edward was pinning me up against the shower wall and basically fucking me senseless. She didn't notice or didn't care that I saw her, and I was surprised to find I didn't care either. In fact, it turned me on more, knowing she was there, and I'd come harder than ever before. I never told Edward about Rose, and he'd insisted on having shower sex as often as possible after, but it had never been quite the same.

As for Rose and Alice, it seemed they never really stopped touching each other, no matter how little sleep they got as a result. Long after Edward collapsed next to me in our bed and fell asleep, I could still hear the murmurs of love and the somewhat louder dirty talk from the next bed. I'd closed my eyes and tried to block it out, but when I heard Rosalie's breathing get louder, I couldn't ignore them anymore. The room was pitch black, so I simply imagined her there, naked, her hair (now grown out from the butchering the year before) splayed out on the pillow, her face contorting as she reached yet another climax. I listened in the dark and encouraged her with my thoughts, coaxing her to get louder, come harder, come for me.

Come for me?

I realized for the first time how badly I wanted to hear Rosalie Hale orgasm.

Under my hand. My tongue. My touch. My kiss.

Oh fuck no.

Oh fuck yes!

In the dark room, with Edward beside me and the sounds of women fucking each other to spur me on, I slid my hand down between my legs and joined them in their quest for heaven. I buried my head under the covers to muffle my breathing. It was Rose's lips I imagined kissing as I teased my clit. It was Rose's tongue gliding through the wetness, and they were Rose's fingers plunging deep inside me, building up the rhythm and working me into a frenzy. I listened to the sounds around me as Rose's breathing hitched and she moaned and gasped, climbing higher into the clouds before exploding into ecstasy and taking me with her, her name in my every thought and on the tip of my silent tongue as I let myself fall into uncharted bliss.

After that night, my fantasies were as much about Rose as they were about Edward. My heart still belonged to him, but my body?

It was a tossup.

Still, I knew they were just fantasies, and I tried not to let the guilt for cheating on Edward—even just with my thoughts—overwhelm me. I also had to stifle those thoughts around Rose and Alice; Rose knew me too well. I was terrified she would pick up on this weird new vibe from me and torment me with it, or worse, Alice would figure it out and try to keep me from seeing Rose anymore.

I had to be able to see her, even if I couldn't touch her.

We went back to school, completing our final exams and going through the motions of graduation. I tried to focus on Edward, but my brain refused to cooperate, and his green eyes often gave way to her violet ones, his rumpled hair to her long tresses, his long, wiry body to her curves.

We had barely made it out of our caps and gowns when the world shifted.

Rose and Alice broke up.

"Nothing's 'with' me," I spat out, pulling the covers up to hide the fact that my nipples had hardened at our contact. I'd known this was a bad idea. All of it. The sleepover, the shared bed, the late night conversation in the dark…this was headed nowhere good. "Let's just go to sleep." I rolled over, facing away from her and falling silent, hoping she'd just take the hint and let it drop.

Yeah, right.

"No way, Bella, you haven't fessed up yet!" I was mortified to feel her leaning against me, her body pressed against my back, one hand on my arm. "Come on, pleaaaaase?" she crooned. Then she leaned in over my shoulder, and I held my breath and battled the urges that were raging through my entire body at her proximity. Her breath tickled my ear. "Come on, Bella, tell me who you want to fuck," she whispered. It was the hottest thing she could possibly have said.

And the most dangerous.

Fuck my life.

I rolled slowly onto my back, trying to meet her eyes in the dark. I couldn't see them, couldn't read her expression. She propped herself up on her right elbow, her breasts against my arm, her lower body now pressed up against my side and leaning toward the place where my desire now raged hot and wet. This was my moment. Now. If I didn't take the chance, someone else would come along. I licked my lips and took in a breath.

"You," I whispered into the dark.

Rose and Alice's breakup made the gossip circuit quickly, even with school over, and there was a lot of speculation about what had caused it. The general consensus was that their parents must have stepped in, because Alice left town shortly after. Only our circle knew Alice had cheated on Rose with some guy from Seattle she'd met online. After the breakup, Alice had taken off to live with him in the city. Her parents told everyone she'd gone to live with relatives, which only fueled the rumors that they had forcibly separated Alice from Rose; I supposed that looking like "responsible parents" by breaking up a lesbian couple was more acceptable in this town than admitting your teenage daughter ran off to live in sin with an older man.

The breakup wasn't easy on Rose, but rather than take the usual crying/eating/whining route, she launched herself into a campaign of seducing every girl in Forks and the surrounding area that she could. Perhaps in her mind, she was making everyone else just like her, forcing them to face that they too had urges they couldn't control or didn't understand. Whatever her reasons, she managed to seduce an impressive number of women, and many of the names stunned me. Lauren Mallory. Erin Teague. Leah Clearwater, from the La Push reservation. I even suspected a storage-room quickie with Mrs. Newton at the sports store, although I could never get her to confess to that one.

Everyone but me.

I figured she thought of me as a friend and that was it. Or maybe it was respect for my relationship with Edward, who was also a friend. Maybe she still saw me as naïve, simple, boring Bella and simply hadn't considered how I might have changed in the years since we'd met. But as my hidden desire for her grew, so too did my jealousy and frustration at the way she shared herself with everyone else and never once spared a look in my direction.

It had been the longest summer of my life, being a friend to Rose, a partner to Edward, and stifling a whole side of myself that clearly neither of them would understand or accept. Alone in a car with her on a night out, I would watch her lips when she spoke and wonder how they would feel against mine. What would they taste like? What would she taste like? Edward told me time and again how good I tasted when he went down on me, and I'd tasted my flavor on his lips. What was Rosalie's flavor?

A random conversation about Nair one day made me realize that Rose was bare down there, something else I'd never considered but which made sense once I thought about it. Edward had been ecstatic when he'd discovered my newly hairless pussy the next time we were together.

I had to be ready, after all, when my turn came.

Then Rose invited me for one last girls' night before we all separated for college.

I wanted to reach up and pull her lips to mine and show her just how much I needed her. I willed my hand to lift, but it refused. I was paralyzed in shock at my own admission, and I couldn't make myself take another step forward until she either met me halfway or retreated. The word hung there, between us, like a bomb winding down to detonation.

"Oh."

She might as well have punched me in the gut or thrown me out. In that single syllable I heard everything she was feeling. I knew, without actually hearing them, every word that she was trying to put together in her mind. Horrified, I pulled away from her and rolled back onto my side.

"Never mind, Rose. I'm just messing with you. Come on, let's go to sleep, I'm tired." I made a big show of wrapping the covers over myself and settling in.

She hadn't moved. I could feel her behind me, still in that awkward position, her mind reeling.

"Lay down, already. It's no big deal," I mumbled out, trying to snap her out of it.

"What about Edward?" she whispered again. I squeezed my eyes shut and wished that this night had never happened, that I could rewind the last hour of my life and take it all back, that I had never agreed to this intimate torture, that I had just gone to sleep instead of tossing out questions in the anonymous darkness.

"I told you Rose, I love Edward." I kept my voice low, but I said the words clearly this time, leaving no doubt. I did love him.

"But you said—"

I flipped myself over again and sat up to face her in a blaze of self-hatred and sexual frustration.

"Yes, I did. And I do. I want you, Rose. I've wanted you for a long time now. But I don't know what that means. You know I love you, as a friend. I don't know if it goes beyond that. But I know that my body reacts when you're as close as you are right now. I imagine kissing you, being with you, feeling you under me, over me, inside of me. In a week you'll be gone to New York and Edward and I will be off to Seattle, and I don't know if we'll ever see each other again. I never intended to tell you any of this, but then I guess I just didn't want to let you go away without knowing how I felt. I'm confused as hell and if you want me to leave, I will. Just please, please don't hate me for saying it."

As I finished, I realized I was breathing hard and fast. In my mind, I imagined her meeting my eyes and realizing she wanted me too. I saw her throw her arms around me and kiss me, just as I'd once dreamed of Edward kissing me.

This time, it remained only a dream.

"I just…I don't think of you that way, Bella." She sounded so small and embarrassed as she said it. She was just as scared as I was about what this would mean for us. "You're not really my type."

Not her type.

Not her type?

I thought about the women I knew she'd been with. The only common denominator in all of them was the vagina between their thighs. Not her type? Lauren was her type, but not me?

She didn't want me. I knew her, loved her, trusted her, desired her—but she didn't want me.

I pursed my lips and nodded. "Right. Yeah, of course. Okay." What else was there to say? I started to get up. It was time to go home, go back to Edward, go back to reality. I had packing to do anyway, and it wasn't like I was going to sleep after all this.

"Don't go, Bella, please." Her voice was still small. Rose wasn't supposed to be small. She was bigger than life itself. It didn't fit. I couldn't leave her like that. It was my fault she was feeling bad, and as her friend it was my job to make her feel better. I was still her friend, right?

Of course I was. I would always be her friend.

I laid back down on the bed and wrapped myself in the covers again. She laid down as well, and we faced away from each other in awkward silence.