thanks for joining us on a new adventure! second chapter should be up pretty soon. thank you to everyone who's still with us after all this time. -jandco & wtvoc

"What do you mean…you can't go?" I asked slowly into the payphone. The wind blew my hair into my mouth and stuck in my gum. I pulled the wad out and started picking my hairs out with the phone balanced on my shoulder.

"I mean my mother found a condom in my underwear drawer and flipped the hell out and called up Ben's parents and hell is setting up shop in my living room as I speak so I can't really explain anymore, I just barely got permission to use the phone when you called and that's only because my mom thought it'd be rude to not tell you that… I can't go." Angela's voice sort of petered out, but she got like that when she was upset- all run-on sentences without pauses and a lot of "and"s. I sighed and just pulled the gum and a few strands of hair out of my head. I stuck it to the side of the liquor store with my thumb, the hair sticking out all crazy-like and gross. I could hear Charlie chiding me about leaving obvious fingerprints at the scene of a crime in the back of my head, but I had more important things on my mind. Like how my summer was just ruined in one long, run-on sentence.

"Angela. You just graduated from high school. She can't ground you for finding a condom—"

"She's paying my college tuition, Bella. She can do anything she wants." There was silence and after a few seconds, I blew my bangs outta my eyes and sighed in frustration.


"Bella. I can't afford to argue with her. I literally cannot afford it. I can't pay the tuition—"

I cut her off before she got on a roll. Being broke was one of our favorite topics of conversation, not to mention something we had bonded over back in the day when Renee simply refused to see reason and buy me an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas. "Okay, okay, how bad is it?"

"Remember when Charlie found that note sophomore year that I wrote you asking what it was like to lose your virginity?"

"Yes. He told me I was grounded until my hymen grew back."

Angela laughed softly and I grinned. The laughter was dying in her voice and I could see that "stormy eyebrow" thing she did in my head as she said, "Well, this is at least three times worse than that."

"Angela, I fail to see how she's that shocked that you and Ben—"

"I gotta go, Bella. Sorry."

I hung up the phone in a frustrated huff, uttering a string of "shoot"s and "frickin'"s because Charlie had bet me that I couldn't stop cursing a few weeks back. Initially I had said "fuck that", but then he had scratched his head and wiggled his mustache from side to side which meant that he was in deep thought, and next thing I know I'm signing this piece of yellow paper torn from a legal pad saying "I, Isabella Marie Swan, do solemnly swear to stop swearing. The undersigned, Charles Swan, upon one month of curse word free utterances, will pay Isabella one hundred dollars cash and get the transmission fixed in her car. Signed this day, June 12, 2010." I had argued that I could always lie and say that I didn't curse, but then he had to go and point out that I'm the world's worst liar.

Anyway, I stood there, listening to a big rig barrel down the highway behind me, staring at the shiny 5/10/25 coin slot on the phone. I could see my reflection all weird and distorted and I flicked absent-mindedly at the coin return lever thing, at a total loss for what to do about the busted road trip. Frick.

The graduation road trip that we'd been planning since freshman year… gone. Just like that. Because Angela didn't know how to properly hide a row of Trojans from her magpie mother, who was always intent on finding shiny objects in the chaos, be they roach clips, hash pipes, or other outdated terms for drug paraphernalia. I think she would've forgiven marijuana more easily than her valedictorian daughter having sex with Benjamin Cheney.

How the girl could score perfect attendance and a 4.0 GPA for four consecutive years and not know how to cover up sex tracks baffled me.

I gave the brick wall of the Gas 'N Go a farewell kick and turned into the dark to go home and sulk and lament about the road trip that never was. I adjusted my overstuffed backpack that suddenly seemed to weigh ten pounds more than it did before I spoke to Angela and shoved my hands in my pockets, ready to hoof it back home.

I barely took three steps when the store's alarm started blaring, making my heart jump and then my apparently defective adrenaline kick in. I stood there like a deer in headlights.

The door to the dark Gas 'N Go flew open and Emmett McCarty and Jasper Whitlock came running out, their arms full of what appeared to be Corn Nuts, Twizzlers, Doritos, 151, and cold, hard cash.

"You said it'd be five minutes before it went off!" Jasper shouted to Emmett. A turquoise-blue bag of Corn Nuts fell out of his arms and he bent to pick it up when Emmett stuck his arm out.

"Leave it, leave it! Anyway, it'll be another ten before the police actually show up. Relax," Emmett said, and as he walked by me, a package of Sno Balls fell from his arms and landed near my feet.

"Shit," Jasper muttered under his breath when he saw me.

"If I give you these Sno Balls, will you keep your mouth shut, Swan?" Emmett asked, kicking the Sno Balls in my direction.

"Get in the van, Swan," Jasper said.

"What—" I started, and then I actually noticed the van because Edward Cullen hopped out of the driver's side, a cigarette hanging from his lips. He looked like he'd just shaved but hadn't managed to make it in the shower as his hair was rumpled, and not in a purposeful way. I'm also pretty sure he had been wearing that same white button up shirt to graduation the day before, only now it was all wrinkled and he had a pack of smokes tucked in the front pocket. If memory served, they would be Camel Lights.

He scratched the top of his head, put the cigarette between his fingers and squinted one eye at me. I tried not to notice.

"Get in the van," Jasper said to me again, sounding all annoyed and in a rush. He started tossing his stolen goods in the door that Edward had left open.

"You can't make her get in," Emmett said as I continued to stare at this odd display that didn't actually shock me all that much.

"The police chief's daughter just watched us rip off the Gas 'N Go. We can't leave her here."

"It's my Gas 'N Go, and we can't just… snatch her up. That's kidnapping."

At this point, I was amused but still said nothing.

"She won't spill to Daddy. Leave her here," Edward said, then flicked his cigarette in a puddle beside him. He didn't even do me the courtesy of looking at me with a smirk or something so that I could get properly pissed off at him, which really pissed me off.

You know what? He was always pissing me off.

I walked to the van, sure to swipe Edward with my shoulder on my way.

"It's not kidnapping if I'm willing to go," I said flatly.

"No way," Emmett said.

"You leave me here, I'll tell Charlie everything I saw."

"Two more minutes," Jasper said, climbing in the passenger side of the van.

"One. Charlie ate dinner at the diner. He won't be coming from the station," I said.

Edward stared me in the eye while he took one step backward then reached for the sliding door on the van. He yanked it open, and the groaning from the rusting door almost made me hesitate. I watched a piece of white car paint flake off and float to the gravel road.

"Well? Your chariot," Edward said dryly, and gestured to the open door.

"Thank you," I said and hopped in the back.

He slammed the door shut, but I was pretty sure I heard him swear under his breath just before the door closed.

The back of the van smelled like boys' tennis shoes, cigarettes, and old food. I kicked a half empty Gatorade bottle away from my feet and swiped an empty Coors can from the seat before I sat down. There was the one bench, but the other seats in the back of the van seemed to have been removed, leaving the back wide open. There was a futon mattress leaning against the side of the van, stuck there with several long pieces of duct tape. The weird thing is that the futon looked brand new- which didn't match the rest of the Chester van- except for an ominous dark stain in the upper right-hand corner. I didn't wanna know. I also saw a few duffel bags, one maroon with the "Forks Spartans" logo on the side and McCARTY written in Sharpie on all sides. I primly set my backpack on the floor next to me, then quickly wound my calf through one of the straps. I didn't want it to roll off and land in… something questionable.

Emmett somehow hulked his big body right over the seat and landed with a thud in the very back of the van, but he didn't sit on the mattress. He just plunked down on the van's carpet, which sort of looked like it had been ripped from Grandpa Swan's "Rec Room". He then pulled out a rolled-up copy of Asian Fever from inside his track jacket and opened it. I wasn't sure if he was doing it to irritate me or if he was genuinely looking at it. I turned to see Jasper pulling himself in the van and flopping down on the bench seat beside me. Edward peeled out of the lot before Jasper even finished rolling the door shut. Jasper patted me on the head and then used it to give himself a boost as he climbed up front.

"Why didn't you just get in that way?" I grumbled under my breath.

"Lock's jammed," Emmett said without looking up from his skin mag.

"So, why'd you just rob your dad's gas station?" I asked, turning around to face Emmett.

His head popped up from behind the magazine and he actually tsk'ed me.

"I didn't rob anything. It'll all be mine someday anyway, I just took it early."

"I don't know if either of our fathers would agree with that logic," I said.

"Where am I unloading you?" Edward asked me from the driver's seat. "We need to get the hell out of Forks, now." I turned back around and stared at him in the rear view mirror.

"You're not unloading me."

Not again.

"Pick now, Swan, or I'll leave you on the side of the road."

"Then I'll report you for kidnapping. Not to mention that whole Gas 'N Go debacle."

"You can't stay with us. We're not going back, and we can't have the police chief's daughter missing with us," Jasper said.

"Charlie doesn't expect me home for a month. I'm supposed to be road tripping with Angela, and by the time he figures out Angela isn't road tripping, we'll be wherever it is that we're going," I said.

"We aren't going anywhere—"

"I think she should stay," Emmett interrupted. I turned around again and he winked at me without looking up. He licked his thumb and used it to turn the page and I faced front yet again.

"Sure. She can make the sandwiches," Jasper said, then turned in his seat to wink at me. What's with all the winking?

I flipped him the double bird and gazed out to the black forest-y treeline whizzing by. Hand gestures didn't count, Charlie.

"Whatever," Edward sighed and turned up the crappy stereo as loud as it would go. It sounded like Foghat, but it could've been K-Ci & JoJo for all I knew. He fiddled with the knobs on the ancient radio and I stared at his hand. He was wearing a braided leather bracelet tied around his wrist, the kind you find at the swap meet. I tried to think if that was like a thing now, but I couldn't recall anyone else wearing one and wondered what it was for as he didn't seem like the man jewelry type. I also couldn't picture anyone giving it to him to wear, because, like… Edward Cullen didn't "go" with any girls.

I used to think Edward was tall, shy and sweet. And incredibly hot.

He had a knack for being silent. For awhile, like I said, I thought he was shy. Then I was pretty sure he was some kind of tortured brooder.

Now, of course, I knew it was neither of those.

He's just a world class asshole.

This information would've been incredibly useful the summer between sophomore and junior year.

"How much did you get in cash for graduation, Swan?" Emmett asked. I sort of turned and gave him the side-eye.

"Not as much as the Gas 'N Go heir of Forks. Why?"

Emmett thrust a ratty old Chicago Cubs baseball cap that I'd recognize from anywhere under my nose. It was Edward's and it was filled with cash- some new, some so old it looked counterfeit.

"Well, let's have it," Emmett said.

"Forget it," I said and pushed the hat away.

"Listen, either you're in or you're out. We all pooled in everything we had for a seat in this van. If you're along for the ride, you're an equal partner. This ain't no date night."

Jasper turned in his seat with a Twizzler hanging from his lips.

"Chivalry is dead, honey. Ass, gas, or grass," Jasper said.

Emmett chimed in with, "No one rides for free. So pony up."

"Fine. But my money doesn't go toward Hustler mags and shitty malt liquor," I said, unzipping my backpack.

"Fine. Bella buys the Busty Beavers and Boone's," Emmett announced.

I sneered and dropped my ten twenty dollar bills in the hat. "Boone's Strawberry Hill, then?"

"Fuck that. Sun Peak Peach. And where's the rest of it?" he demanded, shaking the hat in front of my face. I could smell the inky odor of fresh bills and a faint trace of Head and Shoulders and sweat.

"That's all?" Emmett asked, squinting into the hat and rattling it. I reached into my pocket and tossed a couple nickels and a penny into the hat.

"Now that's it," I snapped defensively. "Charlie doesn't have much and Renee is… Renee, okay?"

"Yeah, but now we have to pay for your ass—" Jasper started and then the radio stopped abruptly.

"It's fine," Edward sighed.

I resisted the urge to kick the back of his seat.

I also resisted the urge to kick the back of his head, the front of his face, his junk, his shins and everything else I've been resisting kicking since the summer between sophomore and junior year.

Since Edward and I were an officially done as an unofficial item.

Since the time I told him my period was late and he hunched over my bathroom sink holding a flimsy cardboard box in his hand and even though the test was negative he stopped coming in my window and calling me back and started avoiding me behind the 7-11 where everybody always met up.

Since he made me cry and then got into an actual fist fight with my father that was never spoken about before or after said fight.

You know.

Since I started despising him.

We had to stop after only twenty minutes thanks to Emmett's grandma bladder. Edward pulled over on the shoulder of a dark road and Jasper hopped out of the passenger side to open the double back doors so Emmett could roll out.

I took the opportunity to clear something up with Edward. I unbuckled and leaned forward, using the two front seats to brace myself and regretting it instantly as there was something sticky on the perforated white leather. I closed my eyes and swallowed twice before starting.

"You don't have to pay my way, or whatever. About earlier. So, don't think you're going to—"

I saw his hand go up to rub his eyes, this thing that he does, and then he looked over his shoulder at me and this slow, lazy, terrible smile just kind of spread on his face. I could barely see his eyes in the dark, but I saw that smile.

"Well. Of course not. That would make you my whore, wouldn't it?"

That's when I stopped resisting the urge to kick.

He twisted in the seat faster than I would've thought him capable of and caught my ankle before my third kick made contact.

"Act like a lady, Bella," he said, then let my ankle go, turned back around and turned the music up.


"What is that smell?" I groaned, face down in my back pack.

"Man smell, Princess. Don't worry about it. Go back to sleeping," Emmett said from the back. I opened one eye and turned my head enough to see Emmett's big bear paw of a bare foot dangling over the seat, just above my head.

"Get your foot out of my face—"

"Uh. I was the one who insisted you could join us. Shut up and don't make waves, Bella."

"I paid. Move your foot." I would've poked it, but ew.

"I want it noted," Jasper sniffed, "that we didn't have these kinds of problems with just the three of us." I take back that time junior year when I told you the ending to Grapes of Wrath right before class started, you dick.

"I want it noted that you and Captain Cool up there don't have this stinky hippopotamus foot in your faces, and maybe if you did, you'd understand my bi- my complaining," I amended. I sat up and shoved the hair sticking to the drool on my face away. "Let's establish a few things right now. I am not going to be the tagalong chick here. I am not going to be overridden—"

"Nah. Just get ridden. Edward. You. I seem to recall a few summers ago—" I grabbed that half-full Gatorade bottle where it was half-rolling and tossed it over my shoulder, satisfied with the "oof" I got from Emmett.

"I won't be a pain in your asses, so I expect all of you to not to be a pain in my ass," I continued as though Emmett hadn't said anything at all. "Where are we going, anyway?"

Jasper turned around and tossed me a warm can of Mountain Dew.

"This van, Bella, is bound for glory."