Alrighty. Here it is…

Judge me not, lest ye be judged yer damn self. This is femmeslash. For those of you not quite familiar with the fandom vernacular, that means girl-on-girl action.

Many thanks to the beautiful evieeden for rearranging my commas for me, and to fardareismai2 for pre-reading this.

Disclaimer: I own a few things. Books, furniture, a house, a car, a dog, a toy box (I won't go into what's in there). The Twilight characters, however, I do not own. And to be perfectly honest, pretty sure SM would fall over dead if she read this.

~Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ~

There's nothing that replicates the feeling of letting go—the utter loss of hope that causes your very soul to just give up and curl into itself. Natural survival instincts take action, dragging you through ordinary tasks, basic needs; eat, sleep, breathe.

She was gone before she was mine, and still I loved her with everything I had. I knew it couldn't last—we both did—but she deserved to be loved, to be touched and kissed and held. I often wondered what our lives would be like had the cancer not taken her from me.

I'd met her the day she was diagnosed, sitting in the park under a tree, silent tears trailing down her beautiful face. I watched her for a while before I had approached her, offering her a daisy and a shoulder. No one had ever looked so alone.

Her doctors had little hope, but we had faith that nothing was impossible. Those words rang through our existence until they became meaningless, faded, withered to only two: faith, nothing.

I had found her journal months after she'd passed, buried in a box in the closet with my name on it. I had carried it with me everywhere I went, but hadn't the courage to open it until the anniversary of her death.

It was filled with words of affection, plans for our future, pictures of us together. A photo she had taken of me wearing an open-back summer dress. I remembered that day better than most, one of her less fragile days.

We had been at the beach most of the afternoon, lying in the sand together as the waves caressed our feet and our fingertips explored one another. She'd written a poem on my back. I wish I remembered it now. I wish I remembered more of her, of us. The emptiness still hurt, but the memories were fading. Like old photographs, they seemed to lack the color they'd once had.

"Lauren." I whisper her name aloud for the first time in over a year, just to see how it tastes on my tongue. It's bitter with a slight undercurrent of sweet, like biting into a plum only to find out it isn't quite ripe yet. A tear escapes me and I wipe it away quickly as I rinse my mouth, placing my toothbrush back in its holder.

I have a date tonight. It's not my first with Rebecca. My father, Charlie, had set us up four months ago when he saw that none of the others were working out.

She is beautiful and nice, but aside from that, she's opposite Lauren in every way. Quiet and reserved where Lauren had been sarcastic, funny and confidant; her natural skin tone is that of a tanned beach goddess and she has gentle waves of dark hair cascading down her back, while Lauren had been porcelain-pale with straight blond hair that shone like gold in the sunlight.

Dating is hard after what I've gone through, but I'm ready to move on. I had packed Lauren's journal away months ago with the intention of keeping her memories close while still setting my heart free. I knew then that it was time. It's not that I want to replace her—no one ever will—but I've spent enough time grieving and though part of me knows I always will, I also know it's no way to spend the rest of my life. I had loved her so deeply, but I've paid my dues in tears. I deserve to find my spot of sunshine in the bitter darkness that's surrounded me for so long now, and Rebecca is that spot. She is warmth and happiness, comfort and joy.

I'm just so afraid of betraying Lauren's memory though. I fear that allowing myself the comfort of soft skin and warm lips will take away the cherished memory of her tender embrace and raspberry-flavored kisses.

Rebecca and I practically grew up together. Her father and mine were the best of friends. I'd come to Forks for the summer to visit Charlie and we'd spend most days out at the Quileute reservation with the Black family. Rebecca's little brother, Jacob, had always had a crush on me.

I was glad that I'd never had to hide my true self from my family. My father and I had been close enough that even at the age of thirteen he could tell that I wasn't as interested in boys as I probably should have been. As much as I was sure he would have liked to see his only daughter settle down with a nice guy and start a family one day, he never pushed me to be someone I wasn't. He never pressured me or made me feel guilty for being the way that I was.

~Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ~

Taking a deep, calming breath, I open the door and step inside. I give the maître d' my name and wait patiently as he verifies my reservation. He smiles when he finds me on the list and directs me to the lounge to wait for my table.

My eyes find her immediately, sitting at the bar, looking just as gorgeous as she always does.

Rebecca radiates warmth and happiness—from her bright smile framed by full, pouty lips, to her smooth, toned calves. Everything about her is beautiful.

I watch her for a moment from my spot by the door as she engages in conversation with the bronze-haired barkeep. I can't hear what they are saying, but it's clear that he is hitting on her.

Jealousy spikes and I fight down the urge to rush across the room and press my lips to her neck, claiming her as my own. Maybe it isn't fair of me to feel that way after I've already been granted so much love in my life, but the feeling is there nonetheless. I'm selfish and I want her and I don't feel bad about that.

Four months we've been dating, with little to no physical contact. I know Rebecca is giving me time to adjust to the new relationship. I know she's waiting for me to be ready. She's afraid of hurting me, worried I'm still too fragile, but she's wrong.

I watch her smile politely before darting a glance around the room and then back to the bartender. How she misses me standing there is beyond me. I'm practically burning a hole in her slight, form-fitting dress with my gaze.

What I wouldn't give to have that dress on my bedroom floor,to have her crying out my name as my fingers pound into her.

I shake my head to clear it of those thoughts. Rebecca thinks I'm broken and perhaps I am, but that doesn't mean I'm not healing.

The red cocktail dress she's wearing shouts confidence, but the timid smile on her face suggests otherwise. She doesn't even realize how amazing she is.

I find myself glancing down at my own gown for the third time since entering the lounge. There's nothing spectacular about me, nothing memorable. I'm ordinary, from my dull brown hair to my slightly-less-than-average-sized breasts. The dress I'm wearing is blue, halter-necked and—as Lauren used to say—very Marilyn Monroe, but that doesn't change the fact that my curves aren't quite able to fill it out anymore.

It's not typical of me to be nervous and unsure of myself, but tonight is different. Everything is about to change between us and, sink or swim, I'm diving in.

Smoothing the skirt of my dress once more, I make my way down the steps to the lounge. My stomach is tangled in knots of nerves and anxiety and before I reached her at the bar, I veer off course, making a bee-line for the ladies room.

I take a deep breath, staring into the mirror and running my fingers through my hair. Perhaps I should have straightened it or even pulled it up instead of leaving it loose. I shouldn't be nervous. I know Rebecca. I know she cares about me.

I check my makeup one last time before exiting the restroom. The smell of whiskey and cigarettes permeates the air and I find myself relaxing into the gentle sounds of the piano being played in the dimly lit corner. With each step nearer, my confidence grows. With each breath I take closer to her, the more potent her scent becomes. Strawberries and vanilla and everything delicious I wanted to lick from her smooth skin.

I sidle up onto the stool beside her, making certain to brush my hip against her thigh as I slowly cross my legs. I haven't looked her in the eyes yet for fear of destroying my resolve.

"Bartender," I say, calling the attention of the bronze-haired gentleman.

"Edward," he corrects, offering me what I'm certain is meant to be a dazzling, panty-dropping smile.

Don't waste your amo by shooting into the sky, buddy, I think to myself.

"Edward." I smile back at him. "Can I get a Martini, please?"

Edward returns a few minutes later, handing me my drink before resting his hands on the bar in front of me.

"So, what's your name, sweetheart?" he asks, and I almost want to vomit. Not because he isn't good looking, not even because he's so clearly conceited, but because the only person who ever called me sweetheart was Lauren.

I have to wonder again if I'm making the right decision, if it's okay to be here...if it's okay to let myself feel again.

"Bella." I extend my hand politely and he takes it.

"Ah, a name to match your beauty," he says, kissing the back of my hand.

Well, this asshole is certainly full of himself.

Arching an eyebrow, I pull my hand back, resisting the urge to wipe away his kiss on the skirt of my dress.

Turning my attention to the brown-eyed woman beside me, I can't help but smile. I feel happy. I feel relaxed. I do feel.

I need someone, but not just anyone will do. I know the worst possible way to betray Lauren's memory is to throw myself into something meaningless and devoid of emotion. It isn't who I am, nor is it who I want to be.

I do care for Rebecca. I don't love her. Despite the fact that we have been family friends since we were children, I hardly know her—not on a personal level, at least. I know about her though. All the things that people notice on the surface, the things that become more deep-rooted over time, but in the beginning mean very little to most people. They're important to me though. Like the sound of her voice, soft with a slightly sharp edge; her hair, long and dark, almost black, but not quite; the freckles she has on her shoulders from summers on the beach of La Push. I know her favorite drink and the way she laughs when we watch 50 First Dates, her favorite movie. Even though we aren't really physical with one another, I've slept beside her. I know that she keeps a worn copy of To Kill a Mockingbird on her bedside table and that she snores after just one glass of wine.

I may not love her now, but I see the possibility of it.

It's such a strange and complex emotion, I don't think any two cases of it have ever been the same. I know that Alice is right. She's my best friend and sometimes seems to know me better than I know myself. I might not ever be able to replicate the love Lauren and I had together, but that doesn't mean I won't love again.

"Hey," I say to her. "You look amazing." I can hear the nervousness in my tone and I hope that she can't, even though I'm sure that she does.

She averts her eyes shyly and again I smile. When she looks back at me through her thick lashes, I can see the longing in her gaze and it makes my heart ache with need. She's so beautiful.

"Thank you, Bella," she says softly, a delicious sound coming from equally delicious lips.

I bite my own lip, fighting back a groan as I visualize her mouth on my body. Soft and warm and everything I need.

The bartender clears his throat as if to remind us of his annoying presence.

Rebecca laughs, the angelic sound of which sends a glorious warmth throughout my body and suddenly the only thought in my mind is the taste of her lips.

When she kisses me, it's always so gentle, so soft and careful. I want more.

I decide to drop the pretence. Leaning into her, I press a delicate kiss to her ruby lips. I know she doesn't mind public affection and if the arrogant bartender does, I don't care.

The maître d' comes to collect us and leads us through the French doors, between tables to a quiet spot by the window. The atmosphere in the restaurant is calm and quiet, peaceful. Soft sounds of the piano are carrying through the air, muted by the wall between the dining room and lounge, and it offers the perfect amount of romance for us.

She smiles sweetly at me as we place our orders. My emotions are still running a gamut of nerves and anxiety mixed with desire and longing.

Self-doubt begins to take root and while we make light conversation on the surface, underneath I can't help but question everything I am, all that I've become. Am I pretty enough? Smart enough? Do I have anything at all to contribute to a meaningful relationship, or am I merely a hollow shell of the vibrant girl I once was?

The waiter brings us our food and we sit in silence as he refills our wine glasses. Once he has turned to walk away, Rebecca reaches her hand across the table, pausing in the center. I wonder if this is some sort of test, a way for her to be certain she isn't pushing me.

My hand meets hers without hesitation and I sigh with relief at the contact. Her smooth skin is cool from the water glass she had been holding and I want to warm her, to take her hands in mine and breathe my hot breath onto her, but I know even a gesture as simple as that will lead to more, and this is neither the time nor the place.

We both withdraw our hands and reach for our glasses, toasting to freedom and life and joy and all of the things that scratch the surface but dare not venture deeper.

As the night wears on, we talk about the past and discuss our possible future and it all seems so natural and easy. I smile at the way things fall into place and fit together so seamlessly and I think to myself that it would be as easy as breathing to love Rebecca.

"I've always cared about you, Bella," she says, and I feel the blush spreading up my neck and across my cheeks. "You're so strong and brave. I envy you that." Her nail idly traces along the seam of her napkin as she stares intently at the linen. "I used to wish I had half the courage you did."

I don't respond to her words, but I feel that I should, that she deserves to know I'm a fraud. My courage is a mask I wear in the presence of the people I care most about, but behind closed doors I'm a scared little girl, lost in a world of unfamiliar faces and alien emotions.

Finally I tell her this, in not so many words, but she'll hear nothing of it. She had been so afraid to tell her family about her lifestyle that it wasn't until a year after she'd left for college that she finally came out.

I tell her that she's beautiful, because she is, and that she should never envy anyone else, she should never want to be anyone other than her incredible self.

It's all true. She's so kind and caring, and though it took a while to get past her diffident exterior, I know all of this now.

She isn't Lauren, and that's more than okay with me. She smells different and looks different and carries herself differently and I think this is a good thing. I don't want to replace Lauren, I don't want to forget her or us, but I want to move on. I'm ready to put my life back together.

We leave the restaurant at a quarter to ten, both of us smiling, both of us happy. Rebecca hails a cab because we've had perhaps a little too much wine and the two of us talk and laugh all the way to her apartment on Fourth Street.

She pays the fare as we step out of the cab and I make a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reference that sends the two of us into another fit of giggles. It earns me a hateful comment and crude gesture from the irritated cabbie, but my heart is light and his words slide off me as we wave him away and make our way up to the fifth floor.

~Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ~

We don't bother turning on any lights once inside the apartment, simply counting on the full moon to light our way as it casts its silver beams through the windows.

We make our way down the hall silently; the only sounds are that of our heels clicking on the hardwood floors. I take her hand as we enter the room, urging her to face me. I know her nightly routine. I'm aware that she's on her way to her dresser where she'll get us each a pair of comfortable pajamas before turning on a movie to watch as we curl up together for the night.

My hand trails up her arm and I run my thumb along the hollow of her collarbone. I feel her tense slightly beneath my touch and I try to convey to her with just my eyes and my hands how much I truly want her.

Her hands are on me now, one moving up and down my forearm while the fingertips of the other dance up the column of my throat.

Rebecca's soft lips meet mine, gentle and delicate. I sigh as she pulls back, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear before brushing her knuckles down my cheek.

My hand finds hers, pressing her palm to my face as I close my eyes, savoring the warmth, the much-needed contact. I can smell the faint fragrance of her perfume as the quickening pulse in her wrist helps to enhance it.

Moving her hand to my mouth, I press my lips to her palm. My eyes are closed, but I can feel her watching me, I can hear her shallow breathing.

She seems calm and sure now, and I feel a sense of relief wash over me at this realization. I want tonight to be the night I give myself over to her. I want her to know that I belong to her now, that I care and that I won't turn away.

"Bella," she whispers my name and my eyes flutter open to meet her gaze.

Her irises are darker than their usual brown; lust-filled as she stares back at me, communicating all of her own desires.

She unfastens the clasp at the back of my halter-neck, trailing sensual kisses from one shoulder across to the other as she gently pulls my dress down off me. My breath hitches as I try to fight down the urge to cover myself. I'm nearly naked and natural instincts tell me that I'm vulnerable, on display to be judged, but as reason wins control of my thoughts, I know that it's just she and I. She never judges me, she protects me, wraps me in her warmth and sunshine and kisses and there isn't anything for me to be scared of with her.

I push all errant thoughts out of my mind, set aside my worries and fears and focus entirely on this moment. Here and now is right where I belong, and certainly right where I want to be.

Her small hands move carefully across my stomach as she takes a step back and looks at me. I see sadness in her eyes and I want to make it go away, but I'm not entirely sure why it's there. Something inside is telling me that she's still worried—that she doesn't want it to seem as if she's taking advantage of me, so I decide that it's time for me to take the initiative.

Slowly, I move around behind her and brush her hair over her shoulder. I gently drag my fingernails down her back, stopping just above the swell of her ass before moving back up again. She shivers and I smile, leaning forward and placing a tender, open-mouthed kiss against her shoulder. I slide her zipper down, pushing her dress down over her hips. It falls to the floor, pooling at her feet and she kicks it aside. Unclasping her bra, I slide the straps down her arms, trailing kisses along its path before that too is tossed to the side.

Rebecca's body is gorgeous. She's a few inches taller than me, slim with a perfect hourglass figure. Her hair is still over one shoulder and her head is tilted to the side just slightly, enough to expose her slender neck to me in the moonlight.

I move forward again, pressing my body against her back as my hands snake around her waist. My mouth explores the skin of her neck, honey-sweet and slightly salty; the perfect combination that makes up Rebecca.

She moans and leans back into me as my hand slides up her flat stomach to her breast, the other moving down to the juncture of her thighs. I worry for a moment that I'm moving too fast, but then she places her hand against mine and guides the way. Warm turns to hot as our joined hands find their way beneath her lacy panties and my fingers move through the soft hair. I stop my descent and slide my hand back up her stomach as I move around to face her once more.

Her head is still tilted, eyes closed and lips parted. The glow of the moonlight enhances her already angelic appearance. I know that she's just as gorgeous in the day, and perhaps it's the emotional pull of the moment, but I can't help but hope tomorrow's sunlight will be dim so that it doesn't blind me to this memory.

My hands are still on her, exploring the soft skin of her neck, her firm breasts, her freckled shoulders. I want to stop and take a moment to admire her beauty, but I can't seem to bring myself to break contact long enough.

My hands move to her hips as I close the distance between us once again. My mouth finds hers and I hum with the pleasure of her soft lips against my own.

She wraps her arms around my waist and pulls me against her, my hardened nipples rub enticingly against the swell of her breasts just beneath her own peaks. She drags her soft lips along my jaw, back to my ear where her hot breath caresses my skin and causes me to shiver.

Turning us toward the bed, she gently coaxes me down onto the soft comforter. I slide to the middle as she climbs up over me, need radiating from every inch of her body. She looks me in the eyes for a long moment, neither of us breathing, before she lowers her mouth to mine. She kisses me softly, her tongue sliding against mine as her hand moves up my arm.

I can feel her heated center against my thigh and I moan at the sensation as I grab her hips and shift my leg against her. Her lips part and she exhales a shaky breath as I repeat the motion.

My hands slide across her hips to her flat stomach and then lower, until I can feel the lace of her panties at my fingertips once more.

It's been so long that I'm not even entirely sure of what I'm doing anymore, but I know that I want to taste her.

Again I push down all self-doubt as I roll to the side, bringing her with me, and press my lips to hers more forcefully this time. It's urgent and desperate, reflecting my need for her.

I kiss her chin, her jaw, her neck, marking a lustful path to her chest. My mouth explores her breasts, avoiding the dusty-rose colored peaks in an attempt to drive her mad with want. My plan backfires as her fingers tangle into my hair and her moans of pleasure send waves of lust throughout my body. I pull a hardened nipple into my mouth, scraping it with my teeth, circling it with my tongue.

I move to the other side, paying the same attention to her other breast before sliding down her body. Her stomach muscles twitch as my tongue traces a path down the middle.

Out of the corner of my eye, something catches my attention. I turn to see tendrils of ink that twist and turn from her hip to her ribcage; a beautiful tattoo of tangling vines and small star-shaped flowers. I trace it with my fingertips as I admire it, and then bend my head to follow the lines with my tongue.

I draw back from her, sitting on my heels, taking in her beauty. She moans as I hook my thumbs into her panties and slide them down her long legs.

I lick her thigh before sucking the sensitive skin between my lips and her fingers tangle into my hair again.

Moving closer to her sweet center, I can actually feel the heat radiating from her body. Her skin holds a delicate floral fragrance that differs from that of the perfume on her wrists, from bath salts or lotion, I can't be certain. It's beautiful and feminine, just like Rebecca, but it still doesn't mask her natural fragrance, sweet and musky as I draw nearer.

I kiss her thighs as my hands caress her hips and stomach until I positively can't wait any longer. I gently run one finger up her moist pussy, followed by my tongue.

She tastes delicious and I hum with pleasure as I slide my tongue back down again. She whimpers and I smile against her before continuing.

Moving my finger to her clit, I press down making tight circles as I push my tongue into her. She groans again and her hands leave my hair, gripping instead the sheets beside her. Sliding my tongue in and out, I savor the taste of her, the feel of her.

I pull back slightly to look up at her. Her head is tilted to the side again in what has suddenly become my favorite pose. I love that I can see her long, slender neck as she bites down on her full bottom lip.

Dipping my head back down, I suck her clit into my mouth roughly as I move my tongue against it in an urgent rush.

Her moans turn to shaky cries of pleasure as I push two fingers into her, moving in and out. Her hips come up off the bed and with my free hand, I push her back down. I curl my fingers with each outward stroke as I continue to suck and lick her sensitive bud of nerves. I can feel the tension building in her, her legs tremble slightly as her fingers dig into the sheets. She arches her back and I feel her walls clenching around my fingers as my name and the name of her creator slide off her lips in one sweet breath.

I offer her no time for recovery as I continue to caress her heated sex with the flat of my tongue. She tastes even better now and I tell her that as my fingers explore that sweet spot inside her once again. She writhes and shifts her hips upward. She looks so incredible, her body arching with her pleasure; pleasure that I'm able to bring her. She cries out as she comes again, rocking into me.

I withdraw my fingers, sliding them up to her sensitive clit and causing her to twitch before bringing them to my mouth. She's watching me with hooded eyes, licking her own lip as I suck my fingers into my mouth.

All at once she sits up, wrapping an arm around my waist for support as her other hand pushes through my hair. She brings her mouth to mine, her tongue traces my bottom lip and she moans at the taste of herself there.

Clumsily, we shift our legs until I find myself straddling her, begging for some sort of friction. Any will do.

She bites down on my bottom lip as I rub myself against her. Her hands are on my back now, nails tracing gentle lines up and down as her tongue tangles with my own.

The taste of her sex was nothing short of perfect, but here, with out mouths connected and her sweet flavor echoing back to me from her own delicious tongue, I was surely in heaven.

She makes a heated path of open-mouthed kisses down my neck and to my breast where she takes a nipple into her mouth.

I whimper at the sensation that shoots through my body and grind against her even harder.

Her hands move to my hips and help to guide me as her teeth scrape along my hardened nipple, first one, and then the other.

I throw my head back as her mouth moves back up the column of my throat, her hot breath fanning out against my skin. Her hand moves to my heated center and she begins to rub with her palm as her fingers slip inside of me.

I cry out with pleasure as I rest my forehead against her shoulder. Despite the petite size of her hands, her fingers seem to fill me, hitting all the right places as the heel of her palm presses into my clit.

My hands find her breasts and I roll her nipples between my fingers as I kiss and lick her shoulder.

Every part of her is delicious and I bask in the feel of her body against mine as her fingers move in and out of me.

The familiar pleasure begins to build low in my stomach and I quicken my pace, grinding against her hand.

She nips at my neck and I tug at her hair. I attack her lips once more, biting and sucking fiercely as my muscles clench.

Ecstasy pulses through me as my surroundings fade away and only she remains; beautiful, glowing in the light of the moon.

Eventually, when we are both sated, we fall onto the bed together, holding each other tightly as she drifts into a restful sleep. I watch her as the moonlight plays across her skin, her eyelashes dance on her cheek bones as though she's dreaming. Her breathing is slow and even and I lean over, placing a tender kiss on her shoulder before whispering to her that I love her.

And it's the truth. I know now that I do. I'm so very grateful to have her, but at the same time, I'm so scared of losing her. Things happen, anything could steal her away from me just as Lauren was taken. I can't live my life afraid to love again though, I know I must embrace the day and never allow a single moment to slip through my fingers.

~Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ~

A/N

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