Something Wicked This Way Comes

Urban Legend Chosen: The Ghost Hitchhiker

Title: Faded Love

Summary: The Cullens are going to the annual school dance at Forks' High. Along the way, they meet a lone girl walking along the road and stopped to help her out. But what's different about her?

Faded Love

(EPOV)

"Edward!" Alice's shrill voice shouted through the quiet house, "You had better be getting ready right now. We need to go soon. Don't make me come up there!"

I grumbled under my breath at my sister's impatient threats and turned back to the mirror, trying to straighten my unruly hair. Today was the day of the annual Forks' High dance and, as always, Alice was insisting that we all go.

Of course, I was only doing this for her. I couldn't stand these events, especially since I always went alone. I had never had a girl to take with me as a date. Not that I minded much; there wasn't anyone who had taken my interest so I didn't see a reason to ask anyone to go with me, content with the company of my siblings.

Deciding my hair was as good as it was going to get, I stepped back to take in my appearance. I was dressed in a clean, white shirt and black pants with a matching black jacket. The bow tie that Alice had insisted I wear felt tight around my neck and I sighed as I gave it a small tug to loosen it.

I sighed again and headed downstairs to where the rest of my family was waiting to inspect me. As I thought, Alice was the one to jump in front of me as soon as I was down, her tiny hands on her hips as she gazed me up and down with a critical expression.

"You'll do, I suppose," she sighed, shaking her head dramatically, though she smirked at me afterwards. I rolled my eyes at her and turned to face my mother. She was watching me with a proud smile as she stood next to my father.

Esme and Carlisle Cullen were the ones to adopt me after my parents died in a car crash when I was seven. I was the first to be taken in and Alice came shortly after me when her parents abandoned her and she was found by the neighbours. She became practically my twin, immediately attaching herself to me and me to her when she walked through the door the first time.

Emmett and Rosalie came next, two years after Alice. They had been in the same foster home and had refused to be separated, making them difficult to adopt off. But Esme had fallen in love with them and neither she nor her husband had any trouble taking them both on. They predictably got together as a couple when they were older and had been together since.

Jasper was the last of the group to join us. He had been terribly beaten by his father and the hospital had called social services. His father was arrested and he was carted off to the nearest home where he spent the next four years moving from one to another. It was Carlisle who found him when he came to the hospital he was working at after getting into a fight.

It took some talking, after all they already had four children, but after checking to see if everything was alright with the rest of us, the adoption went ahead and Jasper moved in with us. He was more secluded from us, but even he couldn't resist Alice's perky nature and he soon got involved with our group.

None of us were surprised when Jasper finally asked Alice out, exactly one year after being with us. They've been together for the last three years. I was happy for all of my siblings, but I couldn't help but feel left out being the only one without someone to be with.

But so far, no one had caught my attention, though not for lack of trying on their part. Girls were always throwing themselves at me and, raised as the gentleman I was, I tried my hardest to hide my disgust and passively dissuade their advances.

Alice thought it was hilarious and Emmett loved to jibe me about it, but I think both secretly hoped that one day I would find someone. They never said anything, but I was good at reading people.

"Oh Edward, you look absolutely handsome," Esme gushed, bustling her way over to wrap me in a warm, motherly hug. I smiled as I returned the gesture. She stood back, holding me at arms' length with her hands on my shoulders. "Very dashing," she complimented

I blushed at her remark. "Thanks, Mom," I mumbled, ducking my head to hide my reddening cheeks.

"Come on, lover boy," Alice mocked, gripping my wrist with her tiny hands and tugging me towards the door. Emmett, Rosalie and Jasper were waiting for us on the porch and our mother and father followed behind as Alice towed me.

I finally snatched my hand back from my pixie sister once we were outside and she shrugged before skipping her way over to the car as if nothing had happened. Esme and Carlisle stood in the doorway, his arms around her waist, looking every bit the proud parents they were.

I smiled and gave them a wave as I slid into the driver's seat. Alice was sat in the passenger seat next to me, while the others crammed into the back seat. The pixie was bouncing in place with a giddy expression across her pale features and her blue eyes alight with excitement.

Parties were definitely Alice's scene; it was where she was meant to be, apart from anything fashion. In fact, she was the one who had insisted on choosing what we would wear today. She had on a dark purple dress that cut off above her knee and Rosalie had a long, flowing red dress that swirled around her long legs. Not that I was checking them out, or anything.

Emmett, Jasper and I were all in tuxes, but Jasper's bowtie matched Alice's dress and Emmett's matched Rosalie's. Mine was plain black for there was no one to match me with. I suppressed a sigh.

The Volvo started smoothly and I relished the sound of its engine purring for a moment before pulling out of our drive and heading towards my own personal hell: a high school dance. I shuddered. I knew I was probably being dramatic, but I had had some not nice experiences at them, none of which I was going to go into detail with right now.

Let's just say that, I have had more than one extremely drunk, skimpily dressed teenage girl clinging to me and trying to force themselves on me. I was not looking forward to repeating the experience. In fact –

"Stop!" Alice screamed, successfully scaring the living daylights out of me. I slammed my foot down on the brakes, having entirely no idea as to what was going on. The car skidded on the road, tires squealing, and came to a sudden halt.

I sat still in my seat, hands gripping the wheel tightly enough for the knuckles to turn white. My heart was hammering in my chest as I breathed deeply a few times, calming myself. "Dude, what the hell?" Emmett exclaimed from the backseat.

The dull thud of Rose smacking him resounded in the silence as I turned to face Alice. Her eyes wide, obviously having not considered the ramifications of her outburst, and she was breathing heavily. "Sorry," she muttered to everyone.

I stared at her, still waiting for an explanation, when she pointed behind us and said, "Look." I turned in my seat after giving her a wary glance and squinted through the glass to see what she was pointing at.

A girl was standing at the side of the road, looking rather startled, and with her arms wrapped around her torso. "I wonder what she's doing there," Jasper murmured behind us, clearly looking to see what the problem was.

"Do you think we should ask her if she needs help?" Alice wondered, still staring at the poor girl out in the cold.

Rosalie snorted in distain. "Why should we bother?" She asked harshly, "I'm sure she can find her own way to wherever she's going."

Both Alice and I turned to glare at her for her rudeness, but she simply ignored us, turning to face out the opposite window. "I'm going to talk to her," I said, "The least I can do is apologise for scaring her." I sent Alice a look at that before opening the door and swinging myself out.

I slammed the door shut and quickly made my way over to her, but as I approached I couldn't help but take in her appearance. She was pale skinned, like my family, with dark brown hair that was loose down her back. A long, gorgeous, dark blue dress accentuated her curves, showing off the creamy skin of her lower legs.

I didn't realise I was staring until the sound of a throat clearing caused me to look up. The girl was staring at me with big, doe-like brown eyes and a delectable blush pooling in her cheeks. I was stunned when I saw her up close. She was absolutely beautiful, her heart shaped face perfectly framed with her long hair and no make-up; she didn't really need any.

She started biting her lip as I continued my inspection, her teeth chewing into the soft flesh. I glanced down briefly before I remembered I was supposed to be a gentleman and forced my eyes back up to hers.

Awkwardly, I cleared my throat, running my hand anxiously through my hair and messing up my previous hard work on it. I saw her glance up at the movement and she gave a small giggle, making me smile at the sound.

"Hi, I'm Edward Cullen," I held my hand out, determined not to make more of an embarrassment of myself.

She smiled back at me, nearly causing my eyes to glaze, and took my hand delicately in her own, giving a small squeeze before releasing it. "I'm Bella," she said, her voice as beautiful as her looks, "Bella Swan."

"Pleased to meet you, Bella," I said, lowering my own hand. I gazed at her again, unbelievably dazzled by her, until she raised an eyebrow in question. "Sorry," I muttered. She smiled and I continued, "My siblings and I were wondering if we could help you?" I meant it as a statement, but the way my voice lifted at the end made it a question.

Bella looked up at me, I hadn't realised she was shorter than me, and bit her lip again. I held in my groan and strained to keep my eyes from falling onto her mouth. "I'm going to the school dance?" She said uncertainly, frowning slightly.

I grinned at her. "Well, if you're willing, my siblings and I would be more than happy to give you a ride," I offered, "That's where we're going as well."

She didn't say anything, gazing past me to the car where I knew the others were waiting for me, probably getting impatient. Hesitantly, she turned back to me and nodded her head. I smiled at her reassuringly and led her to the car, placing a gentle hand on the small of her back.

As we moved closer, I saw Alice scurry out from her seat in the front and clamber onto Jasper's lap in the back. I gave her a questioning look and she grinned through the window, gesturing between Bella and the front seat. I could have smacked myself for being oblivious. Of course we couldn't make her sit on someone else.

I opened the passenger door for her and help it open until she climbed in before gently shutting it behind her. She was blushing again when I got back into the car and I wondered if it was because she wasn't used to acts of chivalry.

"Okay, that's Emmett, Rosalie, Jasper and Alice," I said, pointing to each of them in turn. "Guys, this is Bella, she's coming to the dance with us," I explained. Emmett grinned at her; Rosalie offered a polite smile and Jasper nodded, while Alice waved ecstatically.

Bella chuckled quietly and muttered a shy, "Hi.

A quiet conversation picked up in the back, almost drowned out by the sound of the radio. Bella was quiet by my side and I glanced over at her to make sure she was okay. She was looking down at her hands, her eyes half closed and a small smile on her plush lips.

She looked so beautiful, I thought, before I shook the distracting thought from my mind and turned my head forward again. I managed to keep my thoughts from straying to her for the rest of the journey and then we were finally pulling into the school parking lot.

I pulled into the nearest free space and got out quickly, moving to open Bella's door for her. She blushed when she looked up and saw me standing with my hand out, but she took it anyway and I helped her out of the car. I couldn't explain my feelings when she allowed me to help her, but I was sure to have a permanent smile etched on my face.

My brothers and sisters also got out of the car and stood beside their respective partners. I swear that I saw Alice grinning slyly from the corner of my eye as she and Jasper headed over to the gym.

The gym was probably the largest building in this small town and therefore the only building really suitable for hosting such an event. I mentally rolled my eyes and wondered what the decor was going to look like.

"Come on," I said to Bella, offering her my arm. She smiled shyly at me, but linked her arm with mine and I led her after Emmett and Rosalie.

We took turns passing under the arch set up outside the entrance and standing with our partners while a professional photographer took our photos. I smiled down at Bella when it was our turn and she lifted her head to look at me, taking her bottom lip into her teeth again.

The flash went off, breaking us from our moment and I chuckled at the surprised look on her face. I placed a hand at her back as we walked into the hall. The room was darkened, the only light from lamps placed strategically around the walls and the glow from the dance floor. The decoration was better than I thought, but still rather simple, just a few streamers and banners, but the atmosphere was nice.

Alice and Jasper were sat at a table and waved us over when they saw us enter. I brought Bella over to them and we sat together, facing them. "Where are Emmett and Rosalie?" I asked, not seeing them.

Alice rolled her eyes and pointed over to the dance floor. Sure enough, Emmett and Rosalie had gotten stuck straight in, mixing with the other students who were twirling around and grinding upon each other.

Jasper stood, offering to buy everyone drinks. "I'll just have a coke, thanks," Bella said hesitantly. I wondered what she was worried about, but then again she did just go to the dance with a bunch of strangers.

I declined a drink, but Alice said she'd have a glass of punch. I gave her a disapproving look; she should know that it was usually spiked, but she completely ignored me instead starting conversation with Bella. "So, Bella," she said at one point, "Are you meeting someone?"

My heart clenched at the thought. I hadn't considered when I'd offered her a lift that she might have been coming here with someone. But my fears were unfounded.

She blushed and put down her drink as she answered. "No, I don't really know anyone here apart from your family," she mumbled, seeming embarrassed by that fact. Her admission caused my heart to lighten considerably, although I hated that she seemed to be alone. She should at least have friends to hang out with.

Alice was quick to assure her, though. "Don't worry, I'm sure Edward here will be more than happy to keep you company," she winked at me. I flushed at her implication, but the smile on my face gave me away. Of course I would be more than happy to stay with Bella, that he been my intention when I first found out where she was going, even if I hadn't exactly thought it.

Bella's blush deepened, but she smiled at her and then looked up at me from under her lashes, causing my breath to catch. She truly was beautiful, I thought, staring at her pale face, lit by the lamp nearest us.

She didn't look away and I made no move to break the contact either. I saw her glance down to my lips and I did the same to her. I was just about to move in when Alice suddenly jumped up, effectively ruining the moment and calling Jasper to go and dance with her. I sent a small glare at my sister, but she just winked at me and skipped off. Annoying pixie, she knew I liked Bella and I was aggravated to be interrupted, but at the same time I was glad she was giving me some space to talk to Bella alone.

Bella bit her lip and looked down, but not before I could see the light blush on her cheeks. Was she embarrassed? Did she not want me to kiss her? But she was looking at my mouth too. How I hated not being able to know what she was thinking, it would make things so much easier. And less interesting so I think I prefer this, despite the frustration.

"Did you move to Forks recently?" I asked her. I thought I would remember if I had seen her around, she wasn't someone I would forget easily.

But she shook her head. "No, I was born here and I've been here all my life," she said, her eyes sad, "Sometimes I just wish I could go somewhere else, you know?" She looked up at me hopefully with her wide brown eyes.

"Yeah, sometimes I feel like that as well," I agreed and she smiled up at me. A slow song came on and the dance lights dimmed slightly. I looked down to Bella, suddenly excited. "Would you care to dance?" I asked politely.

She blinked as if dazed and slowly nodded. I grinned crookedly at her and a blush rose on her cheeks as she took my hand. I led her to the floor and put my hands on her waist while she rested hers on my shoulder and we started swaying together.

"I'm not really a good dancer," she admitted sheepishly, a tiny smile on her lips.

"Well," I said, "Seeing as you're dancing right now, I beg to differ." I gave her another grin.

She rolled her eyes at me and I wondered why, but she quickly said, "We're swaying, that's hardly dancing."

I chuckled and bent my head to her level, allowing my breath to wash over her face. "I say we're dancing," I disagreed, giving her a twirl and then drawing her into my chest for emphasis. I was immediately distracted, having her so close to me. She felt so warm and right being pressed against me like this.

She was obviously dazzled as well for she took a moment to respond. "Fine, whatever you say," she sighed, but gave me a smirk afterwards. I swear my heart actually fluttered when I saw that.

"What are your parents like?" I wondered, turning us around in a circle as other pairs moved around us.

Bella was quiet after my question, staring at my neck and not meeting my gaze. I was worried that I may have pushed her too far and was about to apologise and retract the question when she answered softly. "My Dad was the old police chief here, but he retired a long time ago," she said, "my mother never really had a job. She liked to stay at home with me, but she dabbled in a few courses here and there, wherever her interests were. She always had flighty tendencies." A tender smiled graced her features.

"Sounds like you love her very much," I noted gently, hoping to learn more without forcing her to talk.

She nodded and her smile widened. "I do, so much," she said softly, "And my father as well. He was never really good at expressing emotions, kind of like me, but I never for one instant doubted that he loved me."

Bella showed so much emotions talking about her parents, it was obvious how much she cared for them. I decided not to ask anything else and switched onto lighter topics.

"What's your favourite colour?" I asked, moving my hand from her waist to brush her hair back, allowing me a clearer view of her face. She had a confused look, as if she couldn't understand why I was asking. She didn't understand that I wanted to know everything about her.

"It changes from day to day," she answered, staring into my eyes, "But I think today I would have to say green." Instantly, she flushed and ducked her head, causing her hair to hide her face again.

I used my thumb under her chin to gently tilt her head up, making her look at me. "Don't hide your face from me," I told her quietly, "You're far too beautiful for that."

She smiled at me and her eyes brightened even as her blush deepened. I smiled, thrilled that I could evoke such a reaction in her.

When the song finished, Bella and I went back to our table. The others still weren't there, so I took the opportunity to talk to Bella further. She drank from her drink while I asked her questions, ranging from her favourite books and music, to various hobbies and interests she had taken up.

I had never found anyone as truly fascinating as Bella was. Every question she answered showed true depth to her character and brought more curiosity for me. I was insatiable.

Alice and Jasper, and even Emmett and Rosalie, came and went from the table a few times, but Bella and I were content in our own little world, wrapped up in each other. And as I asked her questions, she managed to ask me some as well.

"I noticed you and your siblings are all the same age," she started at one point. I could tell she was nervous about asking in case she offended me in some way, but I honestly didn't mind. I wanted to share myself with her so I gave her an encouraging smile. "Why is that?" She finally asked.

I smiled again and looked to the dance floor where I could just about see Emmett and Rosalie mingling with the throng. "We're all adopted," I explained, "Carlisle and Esme, our parents, couldn't have children so they decided to adopt."

"That was very noble of them," she said softly. I nodded in agreement; it was very noble of them, but that was just how they were, they had hearts filled with kindness. "What about your real parents?" Bella asked tentatively, as if she could sense this was a difficult topic for me.

I felt my eyes go distant as I thought about my parents, but I answered her question. "That died in a car crash when I was little," I whispered painfully, "I spent some time in foster care and then Carlisle and Esme came along. She looked at me and decided she wanted to take me home. I was the first."

Bella looked at me sympathetically and I assured her I was fine. "What about the others?" She questioned.

I hesitated, not wanting to betray my family's privacy. "Alice was the next to come," I said, "She immediately became the sister I had never had. We were together a lot of the time. Next was Emmett and Rosalie, they came together. And then there was Jasper. Alice took a shine to him instantly." I chuckled, remembering my reaction to that. I basically threatened Jasper that I would beat him to within an inch of his life if he ever hurt her. He solemnly swore that he would never dream of it.

Bella was perceptive enough to know that I didn't want to go into details. Instead, she asked, "How did it you feel about being adopted?"

"At first, it was awful," I replied, admittedly, "I didn't want to accept that my parents were gone. But then I realised that I needed to move one and my relationship with them improved drastically. They became second parents to me."

We were silent in the slightly melancholy atmosphere left by me story. I had never told anyone about what happened to my parents as easily as I had just told Bella. It felt good about things freely without worrying about holding stuff back. Inexplicably, I already trusted Bella. I knew she would never gossip about what I told her. "That's sweet," she said eventually, "The ending, I mean."

I laughed lightly at this and glanced around the room, suddenly noticing how dark it was. We must have been talking for a good couple of hours, I thought, surprised.

Bella jumped in her seat when the next song came on and turned to me with her expression suddenly alive with excitement. "Oh, I love this song," she exclaimed, standing up and grabbing my hand. She tugged me enthusiastically towards the floor.

I couldn't deny this girl anything, so even though I had never heard this song before, I followed her willingly. She seemed to know what she was doing as she got stuck into the dance and I tried to follow her lead.

Bella laughed happily and I couldn't help but laugh a little as well at her exuberance. And because her laughing made me want to laugh too, that or be in awe at the sound.

By the time the song finished, we were both hot and tired, but I was having the best time ever and I could tell she was as well by the flush in her face and light in her eyes. I had never had this much fun before, let alone at a dance. Bella was already affecting me in so many ways.

I took Bella's hand in mine and pulled her away from the loud music so I could speak to her without having to shout over it. "Bella, would you like to go outside?" I asked.

Bella nodded and smiled. "Sure."

We went out the back entrance. I small area had been set up outside with lights and decorations, I assumed for those who fancied a breath of fresh air. I led Bella over to it and we stood in the middle of the circle of lights.

I saw her shiver slightly and guilt flooded me. I hadn't considered thought about the cold. I shrugged out of my jacket and held it out to her. She blushed at the gesture, but compliantly slid her arms into the sleeve. Not quite satisfied with that, I rubbed her arms gently, hoping to warm her with the friction.

She smiled at me and turned her head to look up at the sky. The clouds were absent tonight, allowing us a perfect view of the starry sky. It was a rare sight in this rainy town, but definitely spectacular when you could see it.

"I like the night," Bella murmured, breaking the peaceful silence with her soft voice, "Without it, we'd never see the stars."

She surprised me again with her statement. I was beginning to think I would never truly understand her. But I would never cease in trying to. I wanted to know everything there was to know about Bella.

I stepped closer to her just as she turned unexpectedly. I froze and my mind clouded at the position we suddenly found ourselves in. She was so close to me, her mouth mere inches from mine. All I would have to do was lean in.

"Bella," I murmured softly, my tongue caressing her name.

She seemed as dazed as I was as she replied, "Edward." Her warm, sweet breath brushed across my face. My heart hammered in my chest in anticipation. I leaned forward...

"Edward!"

The shout of my name caught me off guard and snapped the warm, intimate bubble that seemed to have surrounded us. I looked around and saw Emmett, whose voice it must have been, waving us over to them.

I looked down at Bella dejectedly. "I guess I should get you home now," I said reluctantly. I really didn't want our perfect night to end.

"Of course," she answered. She seemed as disappointed as I felt. That was a comfort. She wanted that kiss as much as I did.

No one said anything as we got into the car and I drove off, following Bella's directions to her house. Five minutes later, I was pulling up outside a small, slightly old fashioned looking home. I could definitely see it being somewhere Bella would like.

Bella turned to me as she unbuckled her seatbelt. "Thank you for the ride," she said quietly.

I gave her a smile. "I'll walk you to the door," I said, getting out of the car before she could protest and opening her door for her.

Only when we reached the door did she turn to look at me. "Thank you for today, Edward. I had a wonderful time," she said graciously.

"You're more than welcome," I assured her, "It was my pleasure." I gazed into her soft brown eyes with their kind and gentle expression and I knew what I wanted to do. I moved forward an inch. "Bella, may I kiss you?" I asked hopefully.

"I'd like that," she answered softly.

I needed no further encouragement as I leaned down to press my lips to hers. They were plump and warm and so very soft as they moulded to my own. Slowly, I moved my mouth against hers, feeling her doing the same. One of my hands went to her waist and the other found its way into her hair.

She in turn wound her hands behind my neck, one remaining there while the other found purchase in my bronze tufts. We melded against each other, all touch and taste and sensation. It was fantastic and mind-blowing.

Our breathing was ragged when we finally pulled away. I wrapped my arms around her waist, holding her close and she kept hers around my neck. She was panting heavily when she whispered reverently, "Wow."

I resisted the urge to laugh brightly, feeling light headed with the feelings coursing through me. Wow, indeed. "That was incredible," I whispered in a hushed tone, afraid anything louder would break the moment. "The things you do to me, Bella Swan," I murmured to her.

She chuckled breathlessly. "The things you do to me, Edward Cullen," she answered. We stared at each other again, both unwilling for the goodbye that we knew was coming. "I should go inside, it's getting late," Bella said finally, releasing me from her hold as she stepped back. "Goodbye, Edward," she said quietly.

"Goodbye, Bella," I replied, watching her go with longing. She was just going into the house when I called out. "Wait, will I see you again?" I asked.

She turned in the doorway and smiled at me over her shoulder. "I really hope so, Edward," she whispered back.

And then she closed the door and was gone from my sight.

"Are you sure you didn't do this on purpose?" Alice asked dryly from the backseat. I scowled at her in the rear view mirror and shook my head.

We were in the car, the morning after the dance and I was driving over to Bella's house. I admit that I excited to see her again especially after our amazing kiss last night, but that wasn't the reason I was going to see her now. Okay, it wasn't the entire reason, but I would be lying if I didn't admit that I was happy to see her again. I just wish I didn't have to drag my siblings along with me.

When I left Bella last night, it had completely slipped my mind that she was still wearing my jacket that I had given her to keep her warmed. I was too giddy from kissing her to think about it at the time. And that makes me sound like a typical teenage boy, but I had never felt anything like what I felt with Bella before.

So, when I woke this morning and remembered that I had left my jacket with her, I tried to sneak out of the house with the intention of visiting Bella, expecting my brothers and sisters to remain in bed. But what I wasn't expecting was Alice to be up and waiting for me, claiming one of her 'visions' of seeing me leaving which had ended with her waking everyone else up.

In the end, I was grilled until I finally confessed where I was going and then they had insisted on coming with me, which I most certainly wasn't happy about. I wanted a chance to talk to Bella on my own about what happened last night. In truth, I wanted to ask her to go out with me again.

But now I was forced to drag the others with me and I only hoped I got an opportunity to get her by herself and ask her. I really hope she says yes, I thought with a wistful, but happy smile.

I knew the others knew about the kiss, it was hard for them to miss it, even from the car and in the dark, but I was grateful that none of them had asked me about it yet. It was inevitable that they would at some point, but for now, I wanted to keep it to myself for awhile. I liked that it was something between me and Bella alone.

At last, after strenuously retracing my path from last, I made it to Bella's house. I had taken care to remember the route so I could find her house again if I ever had to. And right now, I was glad I did.

I looked to my siblings with pleading eyes, inwardly hoping that they would just wait in the car and let me go up by myself. No such luck, though, they all shook their heads at me, knowing what I wanted.

"Come on Eddie, man," Emmett cheered, clapping me on my shoulder roughly, "We all want to be Bella's friends and you already had her all to yourself last night. Let us spend some time with her for once."

I rubbed my shoulder and winced, scowling at my brother. "Not my fault you were too busy cavorting about with your girlfriend," I grumbled, loud enough for him to hear. He laughed boisterously, not at all bothered by my complaints.

"Come on, Edward," Alice sighed, "None of us came up here only to wait in the car. So either we all go in, or we can head back now."

I huffed at her, not pleased with her reasoning. Why couldn't they just let me have a bit of time alone with Bella? It was obvious how much I liked her, couldn't they take a hint? But I knew I wasn't going to win this argument, so I gave in with good grace and got out of the car.

My grumblings about my siblings' company was soon forgotten, though, when the prospect of seeing Bella's face again caused my body to fill with anticipation and a bright smile lit up my face. I was so completely enthralled with her it was insane, but I wasn't about to change anything, I thought.

I reached the porch and gave Alice a long, martyred look, before I rapped lightly on the door and waited for the response. A female voice called out from inside, "Just a minute!" It didn't sound like Bella, but I guessed it was her mother, so I waited as patiently as I could.

A woman who looked to be in her late fifties opened the door and peered down at us curiously. "Yes, what can I help you with?" She asked politely.

"I'm looking for Bella Swan?" I asked as a question, "I left my jacket with her last night."

The woman looked confused for a moment and then glanced between me and the others standing behind me before blinking back at me. "Darling, I'm not sure what happened last night," she said slowly, eyeing me warily, "But the only Bella Swan I know is my daughter and she died thirty years ago on her way to the school dance. She was only seventeen."

Her eyes went distant and her voice turned sad, but I wasn't paying attention. Bella couldn't be dead; I had just spoken to her last night. I had danced with her, kissed her. I was ready to ask her out with me. It was impossible. I didn't want to believe it.

I was shaking my head before I realised it, refusing to think about what she was telling me. It had to be a different Bella. But this was where she asked me to drop her...and it explained why no one knew about her before...and how she didn't know anyone.

But dead? Could it be true? My heart was aching, my chest felt too tight. If she was dead, that meant I would never see her again. I only had that one night with her. I would never see her beautiful face again, watch her blush or feel her lips against mine. I thought my heart would explode with the amount of pain radiating from it right now.

"She was hit by a drunk driver: one of the other students, I believe," she continued with her story, unaware of my current condition."They said she died instantly," the woman whispered, "Probably wasn't aware of what was happening 'till it was too late."

I didn't want to hear this. I didn't want to know how Bella had suffered in her last moments. She was far too beautiful and innocent for such a cruel ending, she didn't deserve it. I thought back to my night with her. Was she just a ghost, then, a memory? She felt too real for that to be possible. She had really been there, I knew it. She couldn't be dead.

My mind was numb and narrowed down until nothing mattered but the next words from her mother's mouth. "She was buried in the cemetery here," she said. And then I was running away from her, from my family, fixed on one small piece of hope.

"Edward!" I heard Alice shouting behind me, closely followed by the calls of the others. I heard her say something to the woman before she was out of my range and then I was running down the streets to the one place in Forks I had no cause to visit. Until now, that is.

It didn't take me long to reach the place. The others caught up to me as I was searching the rows of headstones for her name. I still refused to believe that someone who had as much life as Bella did simply didn't exist anymore.

"Edward, please, just calm down for a moment," Alice pleaded as she trailed after me, but I ignored her, still fixated on my task. The others were lingering behind, obviously not sure what to do with me at a time like this. But I paid them as little attention I did Alice as I wandered among the graves.

After ten minutes, Emmett decided to approach. "Come on, Ed, man," he said gently; something unusual for a man of his size, "Let's just go and talk about this reasonably. We have some things to tell you."

But I wasn't listening anymore. Because I had just found what I had been searching for and dreading to find. Bella's grave. There it was before me, with her name engraved in the cold, dark stone. But that wasn't what I was staring at. What I was staring at, was the tuxedo jacket hung neatly around the headstone.

It was undoubtedly my jacket, the same one I had given to Bella last night. I didn't understand how it could be here. I didn't know how she could have been there last night with me, been so real, when all along she was dead. Did she realise that? Or was she simply reliving whatever moments of her past? She died on the night of the dance...maybe this was some sort of fulfilment for her.

I was happy that she got to go to the dance after all, but my heart felt like it was ripped to shreds at the same time. She said she wanted to see me again...did she know all along that she wouldn't be able to?

"She was walking along that road we found her the night she died," Alice said quietly as she came to stand beside me. I didn't say anything and we both stared down at the grave before us, of the woman I was sure I was coming to love. "She was wearing that dress, you know the blue one. She looked so beautiful in it," she added.

"She did," I whispered hoarsely, smiling a little at the memory as a few tears trickled down my face. I didn't make a move to wipe them away, instead allowing more to follow their path down my cheeks. She was truly gone. I mourned her loss silently and Alice seemed to understand that I needed my time alone so she stepped back to stand with the others.

After a moment, I slowly crouched down in front of the stone and touched my fingers lightly to it cold, rough surface, tracing her name delicately. "Bella," I whispered her name sadly. I'm sorry. I'm sorry that you died that day. I'm sorry you were taken from your family so young. I'm just sorry. I wish you could be here with me. My heart doesn't feel the same without you. It feels like it will just fall apart without your presence to keep it together. I know I probably sound overdramatic, but it's true.

I sighed and closed my eyes briefly, trying to picture her smiling face from the night before, how she looked when she smiled up at me and when she blushed and the sound of her laugh. I committed them all to my memory, determined never to forget a single thing about the girl I had only know for a single night.

I opened my eyes again and carefully removed my jacket from the hard stone. I stared at it in my hands, feeling the material between my fingers and imagining how perfect it had looked wrapped around Bella's slender shoulders. It still smelt like her, I realised when I pulled it to my nose. I loved the way she smelled, like freesias and lilacs.

More silent tears flowed down my face, but like the ones before, I allowed them to fall. It was the only outward sign of my grief for the girl I had lost. I didn't know how long I stayed there, kneeling in the wet grass and crying soundlessly. The others never complained. They merely waited, far enough away not to intrude, but close enough to show their support.

Eventually, when I was shivering with the cold, I stood up, taking the jacket with me. I stared down at the inscription again:

Bella Swan, 17, 1957-1974

In loving memory of the only daughter of Renee and Chief of Police, Charlie Swan

I smiled slightly, glad that she was at least loved in her short life. She deserved to have everybody's love because she was the sweetest, kindest girl I had ever known. And she deserved to be remembered.

Goodbye, my Bella, I thought, I love you.

The wind blew past me, swirling the leaves from the ground into the air. And on the wind, I would swear that I heard her whimsical voice calling me. Goodbye, Edward, she said, I love you too.

3 Weeks Later

Since that night, no one had mentioned Bella. I still thought about her a lot, of course. How could I not when I had fallen in love with her? My parents still didn't know about what had happened, they only knew that I was more lonely and depressed than usual, but there was nothing I could do to change that.

I knew they were worried and I hated it. I hated that my suffering was affecting them so badly, but I couldn't tell them what was going on. For one, I didn't know if they would understand, considering I had basically spent the night of the dance with a ghost. But the main reason was because I didn't want to explain it aloud and face their pitying looks. It would make it far too real if that happened.

It was bad enough with my siblings knowing the truth, but at least they never bothered me about it. Alice did try to get me to talk at first, but she knew when to not push me and thankfully, she took the hint when I growled at her and locked her out of my room.

It was childish, but I just wanted them to leave me alone. I didn't need their sympathy, nor did I want it. None of us really understood what had happened, but we all agreed that we had definitely seen and interacted with Bella that night. There was no way all five of us could have had the same delusion. But we also agreed that we shouldn't tell anyone else, so everyone was keeping it to themselves.

Part of me was grateful that I didn't have to constantly keep hearing about Bella and know what I had lost, but another part of me wished they would just say something once in a while, just so I could know that I hadn't imagined the whole thing.

I sighed and headed to my piano once more. It had become my safe place now, somewhere I would always go whenever my thoughts drifted to Bella. I always played the same song as well. It was one I had written not long after finding out the truth about her and was actually a song of my love to her.

Esme thought it was brilliant and I knew she suspected the inspiration behind it, but she had no idea. She had no idea of the pain I had felt these last three weeks, knowing I would never see Bella's face again, or hear her voice, or her laugh, never to see her blush crimson again. My heart clenched as the hole in my chest rippled. It had formed shortly after I left the cemetery.

The peace I felt from hearing her voice was short lived and I was soon immersed in my misery. It had been a very long three weeks and I was mostly left to my pain and my thoughts. But as much as I wished I could stay with Bella in my mind, I knew I had to keep living. If not for myself, then for my family, I thought.

"Edward," Esme called excitedly. I looked up reluctantly and slipped out from the piano bench to see what she wanted. I heard her calling everyone else and followed her voice into the kitchen. She was holding an opened envelope in one hand and something that looked like pieces of card in the other. "The prom photos have arrived," she exclaimed.

My gaze immediately snapped down to the photo in her hand and I saw the picture of Jasper and Alice, smiling out at me. I blinked in surprise and a sudden anxiety crept up at me. I almost didn't want to see my picture in case it confirmed my worst fear: that Bella actually didn't exist and it was some convoluted thing made up by my mind.

My mother awed over their photo and Carlisle smiled indulgently at her, though I knew he was happy as well. The next was Emmett and Rosalie. Emmett had picked her up bridal style and was grinning at the camera while Rosalie was scowling playfully up at him. It nearly made me chuckle a bit. Nearly, but I hadn't laughed since that night with Bella.

I had to look away as she turned to look at the last picture. I couldn't bear to see the empty space I imagined would be next to me in the place where she was supposed to be standing. "Oh, Edward," I heard Esme breathe, astonished.

I glanced hesitantly at the picture and then lost my own breath when I saw it. There she was, standing right beside me with her small body tucked close to me and my arm was around her waist. I was smiling brilliantly down at her and she was biting her lip as she stared back at me with her wide doe eyes.

She looked even more stunning than I remembered in her midnight blue dress. Her deep brown eyes were expressive as she gazed at me with such emotion and the soft curls of her hair were falling about her face. She was amazing and she still managed to take my breath away.

Gently, I took the photo from my mother's hand, not once removing my gaze from her face. I touched her image lightly, remembering how it felt to touch her face and caress her smooth skin. A trembling smile made its way onto my face and I felt my eyes soften.

Esme was watching me carefully when I raised my head, Carlisle looked concerned and the others were giving me sympathetic looks. "She's gorgeous, Edward," she finally said.

"Yeah," I nodded, smiling more genuinely at the thought of my Bella.

"Who is she?" She asked more quietly.

I was silent for a moment, but when I looked down to Bella's face, I knew I had to tell her. "Her name is Bella," I answered, "Bella Swan. And though it sounds impossible, I fell in love with her that day."

I didn't stay to register their expressions, sure that I had managed to shock all of them. My siblings may have been aware of my affection of Bella that night, but they had no idea of the revelations I had had after that, after I knew she was gone. I realised that I loved her, even though I knew I could never hope to see her again.

The door to my room closed, shutting me off to the rest of the world and I was left only with the Bella of my imagination.

"Will I see you again?" I asked.

"I really hope so, Edward," she replied.

I looked down at the photo in my hand as I leaned against the closed door. "I really hope so too, Bella," I whispered into the quiet. And I knew that, somehow, she could hear me and know what I was talking about. I would see her again one day.


Author's Note:

Hey, so I know I was supposed to update on 'Gentle Touches' but I promise that that is coming. I just had a bit of writer's block, nasty thing that it is, and decided to write something a bit different to warm up my brain cells and gain some inspiration. Thankful to say that that worked, so I should haopefully have Chapter 6 done soon ;D. But for now, I have posted this for a concert called 'Something Wicked This Way Comes'.

Definitely worth checking that out, especially if you like scary stories, though this is not very scary, little bit creepy or mysterious perhaps, but not scary. It's a contest for Halloween fics, basically. Vote for me if you liked this, please. Link is: http:/www(dot)fanfiction(dot)net/u/2516278/. If you click at the bottom on Communities you can find where the stories will be posted.

Voting will be between the 24th and 29th of October.

Not sure if this will be continued after the contest is finished, definitely thinking thinking about it, though. Let me know what you want. Hopefully, you liked this, even though I know I'm not normally very good at writing oneshots for contests.

I have two songs which are on my mind for this story for some reason. Iris by Goo Goo Dolls and Just The Way You Are by Bruno Mars. Really good songs, I recommend checking them out ;D. Don't think I have anything else to say...ooh, apart from, for those people who ARE reading 'Gentle Touches', if you want a preview of Chapter 6 you can go to my livejournal page which is... animal8(dot)livejournal(dot)com So check that out if you are interested.

And that's really it for now. Let me know what you think and I shall see all of you again with the next chapter of 'Gentle Touches' ;D. See you all later! ;D

R~E~V~I~E~W~P~L~E~A~S~E

animal8 xx