Hello, friends!

Thank you to LouderthanSirens for being super, and to ShearEnvy, who has proven to be both an amazing beta, but also an amazing friend. Thank you to my sweet lady love stephk0525, for her support and hugs, and for sharing a deep love of spanky pants with me. :)

Disclaimer: Not mine.

Upon waking, there's a brief, blissful period in which you don't yet recall the sins of the night before.

But eventually, you have to open your eyes.

It pounds through my head in flashes.

Skin. A moan. His lips.

I know by the t-shirt hanging from the desk chair whose room this is. Whose bed this is.

Oh, fuck.

The images start to slow and linger in my vision, which is so much worse, because I have a chance to process the alternating waves of arousal, confusion and guilt. Mostly guilt.

"Oh, fuck." I whisper it out loud this time.

He shifts behind me, sitting up. Rolling cautiously onto my back, I peek up at him. He rubs his eyes, elbows resting on his knees, the sheet barely covering parts of him that I've now seen...touched...kissed. I want to reach over and run my hands down his taut stomach, over the muscles in his arms.

It doesn't escape my notice that he doesn't smile when he looks down at me.

I sit up, leaning back against the exposed brick next to him and clutching the sheet to my chest. We don't speak. Early morning light begins to hit the building tops outside of his window.

I try to orient myself in the present, like I've just been momentarily waylaid from my set path. I have to cheer at a game tonight, my uniform is at home and I have a Chemistry test third period.

And I fucked Edward Cullen.

Then, even though I'm thinking of that thing he did with his tongue, I'm also thinking of holding his face in my hands as I look into his eyes, inches apart while I move on top of him, his breath hitting my lips. Barely touching. The kisses...fuck. I need to stop.

Sliding to the edge of the bed I find my t-shirt and jeans, put them on and stuff my bra and underwear into my bag. He doesn't move, and when I turn back he's looking out the window.

"Look, I..." I fade off.

He meets my eyes. I study his face, the shadow on his jaw that scratched along my throat, down my stomach, my inner thighs. The dog tags that hang backwards on a silver chain down his back belonged to his father. He told me that as he kissed his way up my body, the cold metal sliding across my skin. They were some of the few words spoken between us.

"You gonna tell him?" he asks, his voice low and full of sleep.

"I don't know," I admit.

His gaze goes back to the window.

I take in his form on the bed, the sheets beneath him tangled from use and his hair tangled from my fingers. His room is covered in records, paint and sketchbooks. He smells like soap and wood chips...spice. I think of how he liked when I wrapped my legs around him and kissed hard on his neck.

I can't have this, though. "I have to go." He doesn't respond.

Turning, I walk out of his bedroom door and through the loft as the sun was rising into the sky, shining through the floor-to-ceiling windows. I cry the whole way home, but finally pull myself together by the time I'm out of the shower.

I'm sore, in a way that I usually like to be, but I can't decide if I like it now. I can still hear the things he whispered to me and feel his thighs against mine.

I want to throw up.

I want to do it again.

I'm so fucked. Literally. Figuratively. But I get ready for school like it's any other day, and as always, my cheerleading uniform feels constricting, but looks perfect. It's a metaphor for my entire existence.

Picking up my bag, I search my face in the mirror one last time for a trace of what I've done.

All I see is the same sad girl. I don't think anyone will notice.

Jasper wasn't always an asshole. We've been together since seventh grade, when he gave me a rose in front of everyone, even though his friends laughed at him. He used to write me sweet, terrible songs and play them for me over the phone. He whispered "I love you" the first time we had sex; the first time for both of us.

I suppose that side of him is still in there somewhere, buried beneath thick layers of bravado and testosterone.

He's sitting back in his chair, his arm tossed over the back of mine possessively, letter jacket thrown open. He sits with his legs splayed, like a sexual invitation. His whole being is charged, confrontational…blatant.

He tells the lunch table a joke that I try to tune out, punctuating the punch line by thrusting his hips. The group, mostly jocks, roars with laughter, high-fiving each other.

I've grown to hate all of this, but every morning I wake up and choose to do it again.


This is why things are sticky. No one is forcing me to be here. It's my fault. The guilt doubles...triples.

I watch him while he talks, mentally muting the scene. I used to listen, but then I think he used to say things that were worth listening to. I have a very faint recollection of depth, but at this point I'm not entirely sure what actually existed and what I've fabricated to justify my choices.

I can't blame Jasper, though. Not really. He's never really had to work at any of this. He's a natural athlete and leader, handsome and charismatic. His blond hair is shorter than I like, but it's still got its signature disheveled curl. The blue of his eyes disarms me even now, after all this time.

But I miss the skinny kid in Nirvana t-shirts who used to make me laugh.

He meets my eyes and frowns. I've been unhappy lately, but today I'm dazed, sedated. I can't concentrate. My happy expression is forced, but he takes it at face value and gives me his slow smile, looking down at my bare legs.

"I'm so glad your parents are out of town, baby," he says, smiling. Not too long ago, I could have returned his smile with a genuine one.

I keep my eyes trained downward as he presses his lips to my neck and wonder if he can sense the betrayal...taste it. I shiver.

And that's our interaction. Like every other lunch. Like every other day. I am an accessory. I am a pocket pussy. I'm one of those life-sized dolls made of silent, willing silicone. I am a cliché in the worst way.

My phone vibrates on the table, and he drops his arm from around my shoulders, annoyed, but gestures like I'm allowed to check it. I wish I could remember when he started doing shit like that...or maybe I just wish that I hadn't started noticing it.

I wish I could go back to just being happy.

"It's Rose." I stand, and don't bother elaborating. Jasper's hand slides up the back of my thigh, coming to rest on my spanky pants. I bend over to give him a peck on the lips. I'm strangely numb to the physical contact...to everything. "Bye, boys."

"Bye, Bella," they chant after me.

She's leaning on the locker next to mine when I get there, digging around in the large bag that is ever-present across her shoulders.

"Where were you? You know I can't hang out in the caf. It smells like fucking cat food." She shudders.

I open my locker and just stand there, staring at a picture of Jasper and I at junior prom that's hanging inside.

"Dude. What's up? You look weird." She squints at me like she might be able to read it on my face. Her pupils are dilated, which isn't unusual. I have no idea what she's on today, though.

"Nothing." I can't talk about it yet. Edward is one of her good friends. Plus, if I start talking, this will have actually happened, and I'll have to deal with it.

She watches me for a second, probably knowing it's bullshit, but decides not to push it.

"Party tonight?"

My parents are out of town and Jasper volunteered my house for the after-game festivities. There are currently three kegs on ice in my backyard. I exhale heavily and nod, leaning back against my locker. "You're gonna have to dose me so I can get through it. I'm so over all this shit." It's our senior year, but I feel like I'll never get out of here. It's only October.

"Wow. You're more morose than usual today," she says, fucking with her hair in the reflection of a classroom window.

She's right. I'm not sure where this whole jaded housewife mentality came from, but I've been firmly entrenched in the ennui for months, sleepwalking through everything. Some part of me understands that what happened last night was supposed to jerk me out of this, yet here I am, and on the outside everything is exactly ...painfully... the same.

I'm just secretly a cheater.

Rose turns and appraises me, before pulling something out of her pocket. "Bella…" she sings. She's got a little blue pill between her fingers. "It'll make you not care…"

I narrow my eyes at her, but open my mouth so she can place it on my tongue. Usually I would protest harder because we're at school, but not today. "Thanks, Rose."

She tucks a strand of hair behind my ear. "You sure you're okay?" she asks. I nod, but can't conjure up a convincing smile.

Just like she promised, the pill makes me not care, and I'm able to get through the day and cheer at the game with the appropriate level of enthusiasm. However, by the time people start showing up at my house that night I'm back to feeling the full burden of my guilt.

Emmett mans the bar by the pool, and mixes me something sweet and very alcoholic. It's gross, but he promises it will fuck me up, and that's pretty much the only criteria.

People file in, weaving around each other to find their friends, forming groups at tables, in the pool, in the hot tub. We won the game, so the mood is celebratory. Guys clap Jasper on the back and girls gush out praise, blushing. I make idle small talk with everyone as they get shots and refill their red, plastic cups from the keg.

By the time Rose struts up it's almost midnight. Her outfit is minimal, her bag bouncing against her hip. She leans over the bar to look at the selection of booze while Emmett stands behind the bar with his arms crossed, watching her, waiting.

One night last year she got "beyond fucked up" and ended up in bed with Emmett. I was the unfortunate recipient of some of the more graphic details of that night, and I know for a fact that she wasn't as bombed as she pretends she was. I never bring that up, though, just like she doesn't point out the lies I tell myself. It's just what we do.

I can tell Emmett really likes her, but he hasn't made a move, and she wouldn't be caught dead pursuing a jock. For every person that adheres to the social hierarchy in our high school, there is one that openly mocks it. Rose is one of the latter. In fact, if we hadn't been close before I donned the school colors, I doubt we would be friends.

"Mix me something without Malibu, Bacardi Limon or Schnapps," she demands, glancing at him once, before turning to change the music and mumbling something about "jock rock bullshit".

He mixes her a drink with a small smile on his face and when he catches me staring he shrugs, but his smile doesn't fall.

I survey the debauchery, watching the cups accumulate on surfaces around the party, some forgotten, many half-full, lipstick on the rims. Couples disappear into the pool house and around the sides of the house, some obviously and some covertly, sneaking furtive glances as they slip away.

My one condition for having this party was that the house stay locked tonight. Only Rose, Jasper and I know the code. The pool house has a bathroom and a kitchen,,,, and I don't want to spend the night kicking people out of my parent's bedroom. Again.

My eyes move across the crowd, idly noting who's hooking up with who, and who looks like they might already be drunk enough to puke. I freeze when I see Edward sitting at a table on the other side of the pool.

I glance sharply at Jasper, but he's talking to a group of sycophantic juniors and other than the fact that his left hand is stroking my bare thigh, he doesn't seem to notice I'm there. Rose is sitting at the same table as Edward, but I can't catch her eye. I'm not surprised to see them together, but usually he wouldn't come to one of our parties even if she did. This tiny, sick part of me hopes he's here because of me.

I try not to, but I find myself looking at him periodically over the next hour. His jeans are worn in-the real kind of worn in. He's wearing a t-shirt with a logo on it that I don't recognize under a black hoodie, the hood pulled up.

He's always been...cool, I guess. Even in junior high when other kids were transitioning through awkward phases, he remained above the fray. He's attractive in a way that makes girls unconsciously lick their lips, but he doesn't seem to care much about dating, or maybe he just doesn't care about the girls at our school.

That's not to say there aren't rumors. The things that are said about his sexual prowess solidify him as legend, but most of the time you don't hear those things from people who've actually done them.

It's all true, though. I know it is. I flush and cross my legs, my heart beating hard.

He's sexually charged, but in a different way than Jasper. Subtle, lazy, with confidence layered underneath it all. He doesn't talk much.

And Jasper hates him.

Edward and I have hardly spoken in the last few years because of that fact. We were all friends in junior high, and he and Rose stayed close. The fact that she's my best friend hasn't seemed to endear me to him, with the exception of last night, and even then it wasn't initially tender. He certainly didn't seduce me with romance.

He didn't seduce me at all, actually.

"Fuck you."

I take a few steps forward until we're inches apart. He looks from my eyes to my lips.

It was me that angrily fisted his t-shirt, closing that space between us. It was my move...

It's my fault.

I take another shot, my eyes still on him. I don't think he's looked over here once and I try to ignore the feeling that I'm being rejected, but it's there, stinging in my chest.

Someone hands him a flask and he takes a swig. A girl in a slutty top, obviously desperate for his attention, grabs it to do the same, but whatever is in it makes her sputter and cough. He laughs, not cruelly but because it was unintentionally funny, and she crosses her arms and sits back in her chair. He says something to her that makes her look a little less angry, and a lot more hopeful.

Maybe he can sense my eyes on him, because he finally turns to look at me, already glaring. I'm taken aback, and attempt a smile, but he doesn't return it, instead turning back to the girl next to him.

It's then that I realize Emmett's watching the exchange, another shot in his hand. I take it from him and down it, giving him the same shrug he gave me earlier. He smiles uncomfortably, glancing at Jasper.

I pretend I'm going to the bathroom, but instead I get a glass of water and stand in the empty kitchen. With the windows closed, I can almost pretend that this party isn't going on at my house.

The back door opens, the party loud and then quiet again as the door closes.

I hear Rose chattering to someone before I see her. "Feeling antisocial?" she asks, walking past me to get one of my dad's good beers out of the fridge. She expertly pops the top off with a lighter, leaving it where it lands on the floor. Edward walks in behind her and stops short when he sees me, his eyes flicking to Rose before settling on the floor. He shoves his hands in his pockets and leans in the doorway.

Rose tips the beer back, looking back and forth between us as she swallows. "Gotta pee. You two play nice."

She quirks an eyebrow at me that he can't see as she walks out. That eyebrow says "we'll be discussing this later."


I expect awkward silence, but he speaks. "How can you stand it?" It takes me a second to register what the words mean.

I follow his eyes. He's staring out the window at the party that's in full swing. People yell to each other over the music, dancing badly, spilling drinks. In the muted quiet of the kitchen it seems worse, looks more pathetic.

I study Edward's profile for a moment. He's undeniably handsome, maybe even more so than Jasper. Nothing about him is wholesome, or all-American. He's got the build for football, but he's never had the pack mentality. He's just...different.

I think about what his eyes look like from two inches away. What his skin tastes like. How his mouth stays open just a little. How I made him moan.

He looks like he wants to say something else, but instead turns to leave.

"Wait." He faces me slowly, but looks down. I put down the glass of water and stand in front of him, not close enough to touch if we both reached out. "Last night aside..." I pause-his face remains impassive. "Why do you hate me?"

I'm not ready for the intensity of the look between us when he meets my eyes. Mine tear lightly and I clench my teeth. "Because it's all fake," he says. I don't need to ask what he means. He means me.

The hurt must be plain on my face. "Then why are you here?"

He doesn't answer right away, and we stare at each other for longer than is appropriate. "Open bar," he says, but I know they aren't the words he means.

I can't decipher the look on his face when he walks away.

There's another drink waiting for me when I get back, and then another. Rose slips something oval into my palm and I swallow it without thinking twice. I don't look over at the corner that Edward's sitting in even once after that. I smile and talk to people around me, but my laugh is hollow and forced.

By the time Jasper pulls me into the house I'm floating and high.

He kisses me, and for a second I feel safe and warm and I'm almost happy to be here with him. But then he starts talking.

"You look so fucking hot." He turns me around and yanks my skirt up and my panties down. He pushes me forward and bends me over the arm of the couch.

My mind flashes to my parents, to disappointment and malaise that is never really solved by trips to the jeweler and tropical vacations...to the ache that I can't ignore.

I hear his belt, the slip of fabric on skin.

How can you stand it?



I turn, sitting to face him.

"I can't."

"What?" he asks again. "Do you want to go upstairs?"


"Do you have your...period?" he asks, tripping on the word.


The truth is on the tip of my tongue, but I don't say it. I don't trust his anger right now, or the alcohol, or myself.

He stares at me expectantly and then sighs, frustrated. "All you do is walk around like a fuckin' zombie," he says, pulling up his jeans roughly. He meets my eyes, and I can see that I wounded his pride. He's hurt. For a second he's fourteen, and I'm thirteen and he's all there is.

But we're not...and he isn't.

My head hurts, and I wipe my tears away with the backs of my hands, like a little kid.

"Fuck" he says, rubbing his eyes, taking a breath. He steps forward and carefully takes my face in his hands as I eye the ceiling. "I'm sorry, baby. I didn't mean it. What's wrong?"

He pauses, and then steps forward to pull me to his chest. His arms encircle me, and I remember why I simultaneously love and hate his protection, his possession of me. Mostly, I hate it.

And then I know that it doesn't matter that it's the wrong time, or that I'm afraid. I have to tell him.

"I slept with someone else."

I'm planning to post Fridays, and if I can get it together I'll post teasers...somewhere. Hee.

Thank you for reading!