Prologue: Asking Too Much

Dedication: For Melly. I'm really happy I met you, even though you make me write non-canon and think about Carlisle and Bella sexing it up (NOT IN THIS FIC OMFG).

Disclaimer: I don't own them, they own me...but Stephenie owns them so I guess she owns me. Thanks SM.

"I want somebody who can make me

Scream until it's funny

Give me a run for my money

I want someone who can

Twist me up in knots

Tell me, for the woman who has everything

What have you got?"

~Asking Too Much, Ani DiFranco

"I don't think he's as well endowed as his frame suggests."

Bella Swan balked and nearly spewed the water she'd been drinking all over the nicely dressed people in front of her. She was at a fashion show, sitting next to her best friend, Edward Cullen. Fashion was not her thing, but Bella was fairly sure that spit takes were frowned upon. Everybody's hair was just so... done.

Edward clapped her on the back a few times, being helpful. "She's so little. He'd snap her right in two," he continued with his commentary as she coughed and sputtered.

"Ow, thanks for that visual," Bella rasped. Edward wasn't particularly fond of fashion either, though you would never know it by looking at him. The man made anything look good, and no one would believe that his hair looking like that was an accident. But, no, neither of them were attending this show to look at the dresses.

Bella, Edward and a handful of Alice' Whitlock's closest friends had been flown to New York by her boyfriend, Felix Scarpinato. Felix's father and uncle, Aro and Caius Scarpinato, along with their partner Marcus Betaluci, were the men behind the Volturi Italian fashion empire. In other words, Felix was very, very, ridiculously rich. Not that it was so important to Alice, but hey - who was going to complain when their boyfriends spoiled them with high end fashion merchandise?

In all honesty, the money was just a perk of the Felix package (not the one Edward was currently trying to size up). Rather than spending his father's money on alcohol, drugs, and very yappy type dogs, Felix fueled his thirst for knowledge and new experiences. He spent half of every year thoroughly exploring something - be it another country, an interest, or whatever else he found a passion for. And he read... a lot. That especially suited Alice. She was a book editor by trade, and nothing saddened her more than when someone remarked that they didn't read.

It couldn't be said that Felix wasn't a catch. He was smart, rich, and handsome to boot. Alice was a very lucky woman.

Alice wasn't aware that her friends were behind her, watching her and Felix where they were at in the front row. She was completely enraptured by the show on the stage - a new collection of wedding fashions from the Volturi's newest line.

"I'd imagine it would have its advantages," Edward mused, ignoring Bella's distaste. "I mean, she's so light it'd be like a plug and play. Just pick her up and go."

Luckily, Bella had stopped trying to drink her water at that point. "Edward!"

"Do you suppose she can wrap her legs all the way around his waist? I really doubt it."

"EDWARD!" she protested, a little louder than she'd intended. She earned a few nasty looks from the people in front of them.

Edward just laughed and held his hands up, palms out, in an apologetic gesture. Bella glared and crossed her arms. He sighed a little, looking down, and then looked up at her from underneath his long, long eyelashes.

She fought it, pursing her lips, but eventually Bella couldn't help but crack a smile. "Cheater," she muttered, looking back at the couple.

Edward just laughed again.

Before he had a chance to get back to his teasing, they noticed Felix lean down - very far down - to whisper something to Alice. He got up then and slipped off. "Time for the big show," Bella murmured, feeling her heart speed up in anticipation.

Rather than change into a different dress, as was usual for a fashion show, the models all remained in their dresses. Instead of disappearing once they were done strutting the runway, each stood off to the side, striking a pose. Currently the stage was lined with models.

Then, instead of another model, Felix walked out. The crowd began to murmur, only a few of them in on what was going on. He looked straight out at Alice and asked her to join him on the stage. Obviously confused, but unafraid of the cameras that were snapping away, Alice went to stand beside him at the front of the runway.

Felix asked his unsuspecting girlfriend if she liked the dresses. Alice demurred that they were lovely.

Felix dropped to one knee. Alice's hand, the one that Felix wasn't holding, shot to her mouth as she gasped. Later, Alice would be glad that the brief flicker of panic that shot across her face was mistaken as shock. It was actually a funny picture as Felix wasn't that much shorter than Alice when he was kneeling. Still, it was sweet. He was grinning at her adoringly. The love he had for her was easy to see in his eyes.

He proposed, adding that if she said yes she could have her choice of any dress on the stage. It seemed a superfluous offer on top of the ring he was presenting her with. He'd shown it to Edward and Bella that morning. It wasn't huge – as well it shouldn't be, Alice's fingers being as dainty as they were – but it was littered with diamonds.

Of course, Alice said yes. The crowd went wild as Felix swept his new fiancée up into his arms, cradling her – bridal style, as it were – as he kissed her, and kissed her, and kissed her.

And though she was deliriously happy for her friend, Bella's heart gave the tiniest, jealous pang. Not that she would have enjoyed the pageantry – she would have hated that. But it was perfect for Alice, and therein was what Bella longed for. She was a fiercely independent woman, and she didn't need a man to make her content with life. Still, she had to admit that this would be nice – someone who openly adored her the way Felix adored Alice; someone who knew her well enough, and loved her well enough, to do something tailored specifically to her.

It was a beautiful thing to see.

Bella tried her best to push that feeling away. Felix was heading their way with a beaming Alice firmly glued to his side. She wanted her friend to see nothing but her sincere happiness for her.

~0~

Alright, let it be said that Felix didn't typically spend his father's money on alcohol. His engagement, however, was a special occasion. Alcohol was served in copious quantities at the grand celebratory party he threw that evening.

Luckily, Felix had also spent his father's money on luxury suites for all the friends he'd had flown in... at the same hotel where the party was.

"Come on, sweetheart. Just a few more steps to go."

"You don't have to baby-sit me, Edward," Bella mumbled. "I'm not that drunk."

The way she was leaning on him took the air out of her argument. Edward chuckled. "I know that, Bella. You know me. I would just worry that you'd end up in an unconscious heap at the bottom of the stairs. It would keep me up all night."

"Oh. Well, if it keeps you from worrying…" she muttered, forgetting that she was in a hotel and the stairs were actually very much out of her way. It was more likely she'd pass out in the elevator. Then she frowned. Her keys weren't working. The lock seemed to be missing. What…

Highly amused, Edward picked the keycard out of her purse and opened the door smoothly, walking with her into the overly large room. While she hummed nonsensically, he turned down the covers and guided her into bed. She lay down without fuss but tugged on his arm until he lay down with her, his chest pressed against her back.

She sighed.

He chuckled again, a little sad as he ran his fingers through her hair. "It's never easy, is it? To be happy for your friends when you're alone?"

"I am happy for her. After all she's been through, Alice deserves this," Bella said firmly.

"Of course she does," Edward soothed. "You deserve it, too," he added after a moment, his tone completely sincere.

Bella didn't answer at first. Then she sighed. "I really don't need a man to be happy. I am happy."

"But it's okay to feel lonely. I feel it too, sometimes. Like tonight. They looked so good together. It would be nice to have someone look at you the way they looked at each other," Edward murmured wistfully. "It would be nice to have someone to share your life with."

"Mmm," Bella mumbled in agreement. She turned in his arms. "It's too bad you ruined me for other men. They just aren't as sweet as you are."

Edward grinned in that lopsided way of his. "I adore you, Bella. You know that. Sometimes I wish it were different for us."

"Yeah…" she answered. Then she grinned at him. "Is it just the penis? You know, I can buy a penis. I mean, I already lack the ample bustline of what's supposed to be all that is female."

Laughing, Edward stroked her cheek tenderly. "Baby, you are all woman. Trust me on this one. And you're drunk. Go to sleep before the room starts to spin."

"Okay," Bella agreed surprisingly quickly. She closed her eyes obediently, and fell asleep.

A/N: Annnd so it begins.

Thanks to josieswan for beta'ing and my darling Makkitotosimew for help with the title. Mwah.

First, I'd like to say that this is a birthday present fic, and I don't intend to update again until October 2nd. Hehe. I have to finish the last chapters of two of my other fics anyway. But you should know – no update until October 2nd so that my darling Melly can meet her Jasper on her birthday.

Second, this is the part where I IMPLORE you to review. Thoughts? Initial guesses? Felix and Alice – ikr? Eww! Let me know.