A/N... So the holidays brought a short little idea to my head. This will most likely be only 2 chapters, but we'll see.

This is what happens when two really close friends, roommates, and needy people decide to make a 'friends with benefits' arrangement. This is what happens when words are said without thinking. This is what happens when you think you know someone...

I own nothing of SM's work. I just really like to play with her characters. This rated M for language and citrusy goodness and adult decisions and situations.

Okay, pay attention to the dates...this goes from past to present quite often.


I Shall Believe – a Short Shot

Edward/Bella – AH/AU

~oOoOo~

BELLA

December 24, 2010...

I couldn't do it anymore. It was too hard. It meant too much to me. I could feel my heart shattering inside my chest as I watched the only man that truly mattered fucking flirt with two other women at the Cullen-Denali Enterprises Christmas party.

I should have never agreed to be his date, but we were the very closest of best friends, roommates, and now – God fucking help me – friends with benefits.

And that last new and disturbing title was the biggest mistake on my part, because despite the fact that he was my best friend's twin brother, one of the closest friends I'd ever had, and that he was just perfectly gorgeous in every way – inside and out – I had wanted him from the first minute I'd met him. I should have known it wouldn't end well.

~o~

January 2005...

Alice Cullen was the new girl, coming into Forks High as a tiny little thing, nervous and unsure of everything, but happy in nature. I was the loner, the bookworm, the nerd, but I wore my titles with pride, knowing that I was above all the bullshit, the backstabbing and the drama of the idiotic people that I attended classes with, not to mention that my father was the Chief of Police in town. That alone made me the social pariah of Forks.

When she was almost sucked in by Lauren Mallory and Jessica Stanley, the two biggest and meanest bitches in the history of that school, I'd just had to warn her. Just a friendly, "Watch your back when it comes to those two," was all I'd said. And we'd been inseparable since.

Her fraternal twin brother, Edward, on the other hand, walked the school with grace and calm and a surety of himself that I'd never seen before in a seventeen year old boy.

He was not just handsome, because he was truly hot; he was beautiful. His hair was dark, with these unusual reddish highlights, and it was always casually messy – though in reality, he couldn't do a thing with it, so he stopped fighting it. He was tall and lean and athletic, but he was also smart and sweet and so very polite and kind. He was a quiet, introspective soul, but could get just as silly with me and Alice – well, when he wasn't dating some hideous, shallow bitch from school – when I stayed at their house on the weekends.

It wasn't uncommon to see us falling over each other with laughter over some silly game we were playing or movie we were watching or rumor that we'd heard at school.

And he was the perfect lab partner in Biology, both of us way ahead of the rest of the fools in our class. He was just as likely to debate the characters from Romeo and Juliet or politics as he was to argue which Adam Sandler movie was funnier – Happy Gilmore or The Wedding Singer.

Edward was also so fucking talented when it came to...well, shit...everything. He could play the piano and fix a computer and conquer Halo on the Xbox. All with this sweet, crooked smile that just broke your heart.

~o~

December 24, 2010...

"Bells," I heard behind me, and I turned to see Esme, Alice and Edward's mother.

I hugged her tightly.

She was just as beautiful and quiet as her son, and they shared the same color hair, but passed her loving, happy nature onto her daughter honestly. I'd never had a mother growing up – just my father, Charlie – and she was as close to one as I'd ever get. I loved her fiercely.

"Hey, Esme." I smiled, but it was forced, and she turned to see what I'd been staring at.

"I'm glad you came. Alice wasn't sure if you'd make it," she said sweetly, hugging me again. She winced as I practically shook in her arms. She looked at her son, looking back to me and cupping my face. "Boys are stupid, Bella. He'll see it soon, I promise. He may be my son, but he's no different than his father. Carlisle had to sow his oats in college, and I sat back and waited. It wasn't easy."

"I can't wait anymore," I whispered, fighting my tears, because she knew. She'd always known my feelings, even when I never said a word, not even to Alice. "I've been waiting since I was seventeen."

"Oh, my sweetie, please don't give up on him," she sighed, catching my tears before they could ruin my makeup. "You're such a beautiful girl, and if you don't think he sees it, then you're so wrong."

I huffed a laugh bitterly, because I was aware that he thought I was pretty. He told me so all the time. He'd told me the first time we'd had sex, and I'd believed every word. Hell, I'd believe anything he told me, because I was desperate for him to mean it, but he didn't. Our new "arrangement" was just two people scratching each other's itches.

And as much as I'd take anything that he gave me, I was slowly dying inside, because I knew he was just looking for something better to come along. But I'd wanted him too much to decline his offer.

~o~

May 2010...

"Coffee Bean, I'm home," he called, and from the balcony of our apartment, I could hear his keys hit the kitchen counter.

We were the perfect roommates. He was clean. I was clean. He liked to do laundry, and I loved to cook. We were quiet when we needed to study, and we could drink and blow off steam with laughter and beer and pizza, but it all boiled down to ice cream. A bad day required an entire tub of it.

We were both in our last year at UW when we'd decided to live together, but he'd already started his internship at his father's company. We'd become roommates when Alice had met her boyfriend, Jasper, and moved in with him almost immediately, leaving me with a huge apartment and too many bills.

Edward had offered to take her place, because he hated living on campus. It was a win/win. And it had worked out for almost a year and a half.

"Please don't call me that, Eddie," I growled from the lounge chair in the corner, looking up when I heard his deep, sexy chuckle from the sliding door.

God, he was fucking perfect, even after a day at the office. With perfectly tailored gray pants, a crisp, white, button down with the sleeves rolled up, and a thin, loosened, dark gray tie, he was just gorgeous. He'd filled out even more since high school, working out just about three times a week and running every morning. He was still lean, but now toned and sexy and just... Gah!

I needed to be put out of my misery. Seriously.

"You are my Coffee Bean. That won't ever change," he teased, falling down in the lounger next to mine.

Coffee Bean had been my nickname since Senior year at Forks High, when Edward and his best friend, Emmett, said that was what color my hair and eyes were – the color of coffee beans. It made it even funnier that we were in Seattle at the time, ordering from fucking Starbucks. Every time he called me that, I told him not to, because that was just...us.

"How was your day, dear?" he asked the age-old domestic question that started the first day he'd moved in, tugging the book I was reading from out of my hands.

"Fine," I sighed, holding my hand out for my book.

"You don't sound fine," he noted, sitting up and facing me. We could read each other better than anyone. Even his twin couldn't read her brother the way I could – or he me. "What did Jake do?"

I snorted, rolling my eyes. What had Jake not done? He was my attempt at a life, and it wasn't working. I had met him in college, and he was good looking, sweet, but so very needy and pushy and jealous of Edward something awful. And I didn't want much from him at all, except maybe the sex, and even that was... Eh. I kept him at arm's length and blamed it on my independent female nature, but that wasn't my problem at all.

My problem was Edward. And as I looked up at him, I knew that no relationship would ever be as comfortable as the one I had with him.

"Jake...finally walked away, Edward..."

He frowned, picking up my hand and playing with my fingers. "I'm sorry, Bean."

"It's fine, really. I just don't think anything was...there, you know?"

He smiled in sympathy, nodding slowly. Edward had gone through a few strange relationships himself, so I knew that he got it, that he understood. But I knew he would never understand why my relationship had fizzled.

I hated being with Jake, because all I could imagine was Edward. It wasn't fair to Jake or to myself.

"Where's Frankie?" he asked, looking around the balcony for my cat.

I smiled, lifting up the throw that was on my legs. My little Siamese was curled tightly around himself on my lap, opening one beautiful blue eye to see why his little bubble was being disturbed.

"Hey, bud," Edward chuckled, letting the little brown paw latch onto his finger for a moment.

"Hmmm?" Frankie answered, shifting a little and curling up tighter.

Edward and I had found him at the pet store downtown a month prior. He was in a rescued litter, and I'd fallen in love with him immediately, pouting for days because Edward didn't really want an animal in our house. And even though it was my apartment first, he did pay half the bills and would have to deal with hair and litter and feeding him. But Edward had finally caved, and I'd come home to see the little guy in his arms two days later. We named him Frankie, because the blue eyes reminded us of Frank Sinatra.

That was the first time I'd planted a kiss on my best friend. Bam! Right on the lips, but neither of us spoke of it.

"He's the only man that truly loves me," I joked, but it felt like the truth of the century.

"Bean, please don't," Edward pleaded. "We're both single...let's go out...or eat ice cream and order pizza. I'm glad Jake's gone. He wasn't good for you."

"And just who is good for me, Edward?" I sighed, looking out over the Seattle skyline.

Edward looked away, down at his feet, at Frankie, but never anywhere near my gaze. Finally, he looked up and said, "Let's get drunk."

~oOo~

"Will you miss Jake?" Edward asked a few hours later.

We were somewhere between sober and comfortably numb. We weren't trashed, but the edge had been taken off.

"No," I snorted, dipping the spoon into the Cookies n Cream ice cream and feeding it to Edward. "Is that terrible?"

"I don't miss Victoria," he chuckled, licking his perfect lips and looking over at me.

We were on the sofa, sharing a tub of ice cream and occasionally doing a shot of vodka. Though the latter of which wasn't as important to us as the former. Ice cream fixed everything. It always had.

"I don't know why," I sighed, taking my own bite of the frozen perfection. "She was gorgeous, Edward."

"She was scary," he countered with a laugh, leaning his head back, but turning towards me. "She was...insane...in bed."

I watched my best friend blush a bit, but hold his hand out for the spoon.

"Insane must not be good then," I teased, feeding him again. "And here I thought all those sounds coming from your room were good." I chuckled, but he had no idea that I died a little every time she spent the night.

"Uh no...I think I have scars," he snorted.

"Oh, damn..."

"Yeah. What about Jake?" His grin was hilarious, and I just about choked on the spoon.

"Big ego...tiny um, other things," I giggled, blushing red myself. "And he pawed at me. It was rough and awful. And what the fuck was I thinking?" I asked him, turning to face him and meeting an unreadable gaze.

Edward shrugged, not saying anything, but took the spoon and started to feed me. It was the way we worked. We shared fucking everything.

"You probably needed to get some," he chuckled, feeding me another spoonful, but his eyes were on my mouth.

"Uh...yeah," I snickered. "And I still came away unsatisfied. What happened with Irina?"

He grimaced. "She became all clingy and shit. She sent me fucking flowers at work. What chick does that?"

"I wouldn't. That's stupid," I sighed, sitting forward and grabbing the vodka. "Want one?"

"Yeah," he said, sitting up and taking the shot I'd poured. "Let's toast. To...um...satisfaction."

I laughed, shaking my head and tossing my shot back. "I doubt it exists, Edward."

"Oh, Bean, but it does..." He chuckled carnally. "I should show you some time."

And there it was. The elephant that lived in the room that only I could see and Edward was oblivious to.

"You should," I joked, but his head shot up to meet my gaze.

"Really?"

"I know I don't meet the standards of beauty that you're used to, but..." I shrugged.

"I never understood that about you, Bean. You're fucking gorgeous. Why do you put yourself down all the fucking time?"

Edward got a potty mouth when alcohol hit his system. It was funny and a God blessed turn on at the same time.

"Don't," I sighed, starting to get up.

He stopped me, tugging at my hand, but I lost my balance falling into his lap. "I should prove to you how beautiful you are. Can I?" he whispered, brushing the hair out of my face, his light touch causing me to tremble.

His question sounded so sincere, but I knew him. I knew how he treated women. He didn't want commitment or clingy or love. But damn it, if I didn't want my turn, my share.

"What are you asking, Edward?" I asked him with narrowed eyes.

"Just friends...helping each other in an unfortunate situation... Ice cream makes me horny, Bean."

I wanted to see that there was more in his vivid, but darkening green eyes. I thought I saw hope and want that matched my own, but I knew he could play a woman for something that he wanted. I'd seen him do it. I'd stood by and watched it more times than I could count when we all went out to dance or dinner or drinking. He was a flawless flirting machine. He was never turned down if he locked his sights on some unaware woman.

"No strings?" I asked.

"None."

"No commitment?"

"Well, I'd rather not be a sloppy second," he chuckled, and to me, it sounded nervous. "How about this... How about we take care of our needs...unless we find someone we want more with..."

Yeah, my heart broke a little on that last statement. He didn't know that my heart was already his, though crumbled and wrecked as the case was.

Maybe it was the vodka that made me answer, or hell, maybe it was the ice cream. Or maybe it was the arousal that I could currently feel beneath my legs as I sat in his lap. All I knew was, looking at him, being that close, seeing him ask of me something that I'd been wanting for so damn long... Well, I just couldn't say no.

"I'm not a whore, Edward," I whispered. "So if...I mean, don't 'cheat' on me. If you find someone, then just tell me."

"I would never," he growled, looking like I'd slapped him. "Bean, you're my best friend. You've always come first. I swear."

That was the first night we'd had sex. And Holy Hell, he was amazing and giving and sensual and fucking huge. All the things my previous two lovers hadn't been. I had awoken in my bed alone, but I'd never felt more beautiful than after one night with Edward Cullen.

~o~

December 24, 2010...

"Here, you look like you could use it," Rose snickered, handing me a flute of champagne. "I think you're making a mistake, Bells."

"I know I am," I sighed, sipping the bubbly drink. There was a part of me that just wanted to down like forty glasses, just to make everything go away.

Rose knew about mine and Edward's "arrangement." She knew, because she was engaged to his best friend, Emmett. She knew, because she caught us kissing like wild animals at Cullen-Denali in the copy room one day when I'd gone to take him his cell phone, which he'd forgotten at home. She knew, but she would never betray us to anyone. She was awesome like that.

She'd started at Cullen-Denali in the accounting department, but when Emmett started his internship at the same time Edward did, it was all over. They were perfect for each other; perfectly opposite, but they balanced each other like nothing I'd ever seen. While she was stunning and beautiful and calm and snarky, Emmett was like a big, little boy, all happy and fun-loving and boisterous.

"I'm not saying that to hurt you, sweetie," she said, taking my shoulders and making me look at her. "I know...I can see that you're in love with him. I just don't want you to...fall." She grimaced, but let me go when I didn't say anything.

What was there to say? She was right. We'd been having sex for seven months, and I wanted more, because I was hidden away and a secret in the closet. We, or Edward, really, was too afraid to tell anyone.

And I didn't say anything, because Edward was walking our way.

"Bean, dance with me," he said, holding his hand out and guiding me out to the large dance floor.

He looked amazing in a tux. All crazy hair, but sharp lines of a black suit, wearing a smile that was melting half the women in the large hall.

I glanced over his shoulder, seeing the two women he'd been flirting with, or talking to, glaring back at me with pure hatred. "Tanya wants you. What are you doing with me?" I asked, placing one hand on his shoulder and the other in his.

He was warm, and smelled so good – like cinnamon and expensive cologne that just drew you in.

He snorted, rolling his eyes. "Tanya is a vulture, Bean. She wants to align my name with her family name. Like she's some sort of princess. She is not a fucking princess, trust me."

I laughed, shaking my head. Tanya was Garrett Denali's daughter and that relationship had been forced at Edward for as long as I could remember. While Tanya was all for it, Edward had always pushed her away. Which shocked me, really, because she was stunning, with strawberry blonde hair and legs that went on for days.

"Besides, you're my date," he said, pulling me closer. "Did I tell you that you're the prettiest girl here tonight, Bella?"

My laugh died, but I nodded. Again, I felt like a fill in, a waste of time, or something he was playing with. But when he used my real name, I could melt into a puddle right there on the floor.

I was so fucked, because Rose was right. I was completely and irrevocably in love with him.

There was a tap on my shoulder, and I turned to see Carlisle Cullen, looking just as handsome as his son. I smiled at him, because despite the fact that he ran a multi-billion dollar corporation, he was like the sweetest man, ever.

"May I cut in?" he asked sweetly, his blue eyes twinkling.

"He doesn't get a say," I laughed, elbowing a chuckling Edward and taking his father's hand.

"Fine," Edward sighed, backing away with his hands raised in surrender. But I frowned when he was scooped up by some young, pretty little brunette that I recognized from the front desk of Cullen-Denali. Gina...or Gianna or some shit.

"I'm glad you came with him, Bells," Carlisle sighed, watching his son from over my shoulder. "Victoria was scary last year."

I barked a laugh. If he only knew...

"No, I mean it," he said, locking gazes with me. "I know Garrett wants Edward with Tanya, but you're so much better for him. You've known him forever, and you keep him grounded."

"We're just friends, Carlisle," I lied the same old lie we told everyone, because our "arrangement" was just too sticky for public knowledge, especially to his parents.

"No, you aren't."

I winced, but laid my head on his shoulder. "Yeah, we are. It's all we'll ever be."

"Then make him see. Take it away and see how he reacts."

I pulled back to study a man that I loved just as much as my own father. "What do you..."

"He's spoiled, Bella. He's had everything he's ever wanted handed to him. Teach him. I know you can." He paused, looking over to Esme, who was laughing in Emmett's arms as he twirled her around the dance floor. "She did. She walked away from me, and suddenly, I knew what I wanted."

I winced, but nodded. "I don't know how. He's my sounding board, my therapist, my best friend..."

"And you're his... He knows you'll always be there."

That was the problem. I wanted to be there for Edward, because I needed him there for me. I needed to be able to come home from the publishing house after a bad day and eat ice cream with him. I needed him to come home from his father's company and want to tell me all about it. I needed to curl up on the couch and watch movies as he rubbed my feet. I needed him to laugh with me and make all the bad things disappear. And I needed him to save me from his sister when her questions exploded from her at rapid fire speed.

I nodded at Carlisle, but only said, "I need some air."

"Sure, Bells," he acquiesced, kissing my cheek sweetly and letting me go.

I made my way to the balcony of the hotel.

~oOo~

"I think Jazz is going to propose soon," Alice babbled in my ear.

We couldn't be more different, but God, I loved her with a sickness. She was my up when I was down. I could lose myself in her happy nature, and she didn't force me to be like her. She just...was.

We were back out on the balcony, because Edward had been talking to some of his colleagues from the advertising department. Jasper was with him, because he wanted in. Alice's boyfriend was an amazing artist, and had just recently applied with Edward, hoping to get a leg up.

"That's good, Ali," I sighed, not really looking at her, but watching her brother laugh and smile at Gina or Gianna or some shit. "Jazz is a good guy. I'm happy for you," I said, but frowned when the girl grabbed Edward by the collar and dragged him outside.

The girl was more than a little tipsy, and they had no idea that Alice and I were out there with them, until she planted a kiss on Edward, and then my breath caught.

And I knew. I knew I just couldn't fucking do it anymore. I couldn't be in the backseat any-fucking-more. I couldn't do it, because he would eventually find something better, and I would end up left behind, alone, and brokenhearted.

"I need to go," I breathed to Alice, who was wincing at the whole situation. She may not have known what Edward and I had been up to as of late, but she wasn't stupid as to my feelings.

"Bells..."

No," I said, barely keeping it together. "I need to go, Ali..."

It was then that Edward realized that he wasn't alone, his head snapping up. "Bean," he gasped, his mouth hanging open.

"I'm gonna go," I told him, not looking at him as I left the balcony.

He caught up to me at the front of the hotel as I waited for a cab. "Coffee Bean, wait, please," he begged, and I just couldn't look at him.

"Don't call me that," I whispered without any authority, stepping towards the yellow taxi that came to a halt in front of me. "I have a headache, Edward. I just... need to go."

"It's not what you think, Bean," he tried to explain, his hand running through his hair. "She...I mean..."

I swirled in front of him, pissed off beyond imagination. "I begged you not to treat me like a whore, Edward. If you want her...take her. But this…" I motioned between us, "…isn't a revolving fucking door."

With that, I dove into the cab, slamming the door and allowing the tears to finally fall.

~oOo~

EDWARD

December 24, 2010...

Shit, fuck, damn it all to hell! I'd just royally fucked up. I ran a hand through my hair as I made my way back into the hotel.

I looked around the large room that was decorated beautifully for Christmas, and suddenly, it seemed duller now that she'd left. Bella seemed to make everything, well, better. Now that she was gone, and mad at me on top of it, I just didn't want to stay at the party any longer, but I knew my dad would kill me if I just...ran.

"You should seriously have your ass kicked," Rose growled, handing me some champagne. "I knew you'd just fuck this up somehow. I should tell Emmett. He loves her like a little sister."

"Don't," I begged, knowing that everyone would kick my ass for how I'd treated Bella the last few months. I should kick my own ass, because it was my brilliant idea to begin with.

But God, I'd just wanted her. I'd wanted her for as long as I could remember, but I was too stupid or shy or fucking proud to say anything.

~o~

January 2005...

"Edward," my twin said, beaming like it was the best day ever. "Meet Bella. She's in our grade."

I took a look at the brown, doe eyed beauty and just about fell over. She was so pretty, and blushing so sweetly, but she was quiet and shy. She had these long, loose curls that hung down her back, and my fingers twitched to know how they felt in my hands.

But one look at my sister's pleading face made me step away, step back, because my twin didn't make friends easily, and they seemed perfect for each other. Where Ali was bouncy and hyper, Bella was calm and composed. It worked for them. I didn't want to mess that up.

"It's nice to meet you, Bella," I said. I sat with them at lunch, and it totally became a daily thing.

The problem hadn't been honoring my sister's wishes; it was staying away from Bella herself, because she was amazing and smart and funny and so fucking beautiful, she was heartbreaking to look at.

Soon, it became habit to fight my feelings for her, because, well, she was my sister's best friend and now my own best friend. As we moved on to college, taking a lot of the same classes, we just became that much closer. I totally didn't want to screw up the best friendship that I'd ever had.

March 2009...

One of the happiest days of my life came when I offered to move in with Bella in my sister's place. I gave some stupid, idiotic excuse about helping her out with bills and rent and saving me from living on campus, but in reality, I just wanted to be closer to her. I wanted to protect her from whoever would have moved in instead. At least, that's what I told myself.

It became increasingly more difficult to date around Bella. She was dating, which killed me slowly, but a man had needs, and sometimes it covered my real feelings.

She was everything I looked forward to every day. I didn't date as much as I led Bella to believe. In fact, a night on the sofa with a tub of ice cream was better than a date with some random attractive woman to me any day.

~o~

December 24, 2010...

"Edward, come dance with me," Gianna purred, tugging at my hand, and I rolled my eyes internally at her flirtatious behavior. I didn't want her. Hell, I hadn't even wanted to kiss her, but she had surprised me on the balcony.

"I'd rather not, Gianna," I sighed, pulling away from her.

She was young and very pretty, and I saw that I'd just broken her heart, but there wasn't much I could do about it. It was better now, than later, like Victoria or Irina.

"You're a lovely girl," I told her, "but I'm just...not interested." I watched her walk away, brushing past my mother, who was shooting daggers my way.

She wasn't alone. My sister, Rose, Jasper, and my father were all looking at me like I was the devil incarnate.

"Where's Bean?" Emmett asked from behind me. "And why is everyone looking at you that way?"

I snorted, but looked up at my closest friend – well, male friend, anyway. "Because Bella left."

"I thought she was your date, Ed."

"She was. She wasn't feeling well, that's all," I lied smoothly.

"Well, why are you here?" he growled, looking at me like I was crazy. "You know how she gets when she's sick, Eddie. You always take care of her."

"She doesn't want me to this time," I sighed, running another nervous hand through my hair. I was thisclose to just telling him all about it, but the look on Rose's face told me different. She was right; Emmett would totally kick my ass for what I'd done.

He'd been protective of Bella since Senior year.

~o~

April 2006...

"You think I should ask Bean to the prom?" I'd asked him as we walked from our last class to the parking lot of the school. God, I was so ready to be with her that I was almost sick with nerves.

"Hell, no," he growled, punching my arm. "You're a whore, Ed. I saw what happened after you broke up with Lauren. You do that to Coffee Bean, and we're gonna have issues, dude."

I winced, shaking my head. "It wasn't what you think, Em. Lauren was jealous of Bella."

"Jealous because you're friends. You can't fuck that up, man. Seriously."

Emmett, as big a goof as he was, was a little oblivious to the world around him. Lauren had broken up with me because I told her I wouldn't stop hanging out with Bella. She had been crazed with jealousy of our friendship and wanted me to stop seeing her. And I just couldn't do it. I needed Bella. I craved time with her, even then.

"Bean doesn't date," Emmett chuckled, shaking his head. "She's way too into school in order to get the fuck outta here."

"I know, but..." I gave up at that point. My reputation for dating had reached even my closest of friends. I'd dated Lauren, yes. I'd even had sex with her, but she was the only one at school I'd gone that far with. Other dates had just fed rumors, and who was I to stop them?

And Emmett was right about one thing. Bella didn't date, or hadn't since I'd met her a year prior. She'd already been accepted to UW with a full scholarship, and I was following right behind her, because even though Harvard had accepted me, there wasn't a chance in hell I was moving across the country away from her or my sister. It would have been like losing a limb.

So I decided to wait. Maybe in college, away from Forks High, I could do something about my feelings for Bella...

~o~

December 24, 2010...

"I should go," I sighed, looking at Alice and my mother.

"Maybe you should," Alice sneered, barely able to contain the violence that was most likely building within her. She was tiny, but damn, if she wasn't a hellion when she was pissed.

"You'll be at the house in the morning for presents and Christmas dinner that afternoon?" my mother verified before giving me a hug. "And if Bella isn't going to Charlie's, then you bring her with you."

"Yes, ma'am," I said, nodding, but the knot in my stomach tightened and twisted. I had a feeling that I'd screwed up so badly, she wouldn't actually be home when I got there.

The cab ride was torture, as all scenarios played out in my head. I'd let Gianna kiss me, because I wasn't paying attention. I'd let Victoria stay over when we were dating, because I wanted to make Bella jealous. And I'd dated Irina, because Bella was dating Jake, and I was sick with jealousy.

Everything I'd done had been a mistake. Every date, every woman I'd picked up when we all went out, every woman that I'd touched that wasn't my Coffee Bean, had left me aching and empty.

The biggest mistake of all was the suggestion that we become friends with benefits seven months ago, and not telling her why.

~o~

May 2010...

"No strings?"

"None," I said, shaking my head, but God, I just wanted her so badly.

"No commitment?" she asked, raising a dangerous eyebrow at me.

My heart sank, because she thought she knew me, but she didn't. I was so committed to her that it wasn't even funny.

"I don't want to be a sloppy second," I joked, but in reality, I wanted exclusivity with her. I wanted her heart, mind, body, and soul, but I knew she'd balk at the idea of ...more. So I added the bullshit about finding someone else.

"I'm not a whore, Edward," she whispered, and I gasped at her. "So if...I mean, don't 'cheat' on me. If you find someone, then just tell me."

"I would never," I vowed, thinking she had no idea just how high of a pedestal I'd placed her on, and it was insulting that she would think I would be anything other than honored to make love to her. "Bean, you're my best friend. You've always come first. I swear."

And damn, if that wasn't the truth. Every relationship I'd ever tried to have had suffered due to my closeness with Bella.

That night, I ravished her. It felt like a religious experience being with the one person I'd been dreaming about for years. I wanted to make sure she felt taken care of, because I knew that idiot Jake didn't know a G-spot from a hole in his head. He was a fumbling idiot.

With a small dick, according to my Bean.

The only regret I'd had that night was not staying with her until morning. I wanted to hold her until she woke up in my arms, but I knew my feelings, my heart, my soul would be right there on my face for her to see, and I wasn't sure how she'd react, so I had left as soon as she'd drifted off.

~o~

December 24, 2010...

"Coffee Bean, please let me in," I begged at her bedroom door.

"Don't fucking call me that, Edward. And leave me alone, please?"

Tears filled my eyes as my forehead thumped against her door. "It's not what you think, Bean. Gianna kissed me. I didn't know..."

"It doesn't matter," she mumbled. "I just can't anymore, Edward. I just can't sit back and wait for you to...find something better."

"I'm sorry, Bella. It's my fault. All of it," I sighed, wiping at my face. "Please let me in... My mom wants you to come over tomorrow..."

"I'm going to Charlie's," she growled, and I knew her well enough that I could practically see her rolling her eyes. "And just... give me time."

"Well, the offer still stands, Bean..."

"I know. Tell them..."

"Yeah..."

"Yeah," she sighed, and I could have sworn I heard her sniffle.

"Bella?"

"Yeah..."

"It's always been you, I swear. Everything I did was for you. I just... I mean, for the record, Bean, there's nothing better than you," I sighed, finally walking away.

~oOo~

December 30, 2010...

A fucking week! Bella had avoided me brilliantly for a fucking week. And I was losing my ever loving mind. How did two people that lived together, for Christ's sake, go a week without even laying eyes on each other?

I needed to talk to her. I needed to lounge on the couch with her, watching silly ass movies. I wanted to hear how her week was at work, and I wanted to beg her to take me back. I wanted my ice cream with her, damn it!

I'd left her silly notes and sad notes on her bedroom door, always finding them gone, but never seeing her. I stayed home one morning, just to catch her on her way to work, but I found out that she had just woken up earlier and bolted from the apartment. I texted her more times than I'd care to admit with, "I'm sorry, please talk to me." But all I got in return was silence.

I took today off, hoping to catch her when she came home from work, because if I had to sit on her, we were going to have this shit out. I even moved my car, so she would think I wasn't home. By God, the silence would end.

Not that anyone else was silent, because now, everyone knew.

Rose snapped at me on a daily basis, and had finally ratted me out to Emmett, who punched me solidly in the jaw, telling me to fix it. Alice said she wasn't going to speak to me until Bella did. My own mother told me I was spoiled and needed to learn this lesson, that I couldn't use everyone to get what I wanted.

My father called me to his office for a meeting. He told me that I needed to figure out what I really wanted, because he was tired of defending me to his wife and daughter.

I wanted Bella. And I told him that. I didn't want anything else, but she was the one person who wouldn't even see me, who wouldn't even accept my calls at her job.

When I finally heard her key in our door, I set Frankie, who had been happily sleeping on my chest, onto the sofa. She was on the phone when she walked in.

"What you mean he wasn't...at...work?" she growled, coming to a complete standstill. "Never mind, Rose...he's here. No, I'll talk to you later..." She ended the call, setting her phone, keys, and purse on the counter, along with a bag from the store.

God, she was such a sight for sore eyes, I could barely breathe.

"Hey," I whispered, standing up slowly.

"Hi," she sighed, slipping an unreadable expression over her face. She was so hurt. I could read her like no one else. She masked anything that would make her feel weak. "What happened to your face, Edward?"

"Emmett," I said, leaning against the wall. "He punched me."

"What on earth for?" she growled, and I couldn't help but smile at her protective nature.

"For you."

She tsked and then rolled her eyes. "Rose shouldn't have told him, but he figured it out, I think. Look, Edward... I'm tired...and I don't..."

"Feel well," I ended for her. It was always her excuse when she was avoiding something. "Just...hear me out, Coffee Bean. Please? And if you want to lock yourself away in your room, then so be it."

"Don't call me that," she sighed, walking into the kitchen and grabbing a spoon and the bag on the counter. "Fine, but I need ice cream."

I nodded, trying not to eyeball the tub in her hands, but as always, once we settled on the sofa, she spoon fed me the first bite. "Cookies n Cream again? I thought your new love was Moose Tracks?" I teased, licking my lips.

She just shrugged and took a bite for herself.

"Um," I started, frowning that her eyes were on the coffee table and not me. "There's a New Year's Eve party tomorrow night, and my parents want you to come. It's at their house."

"Right, because the last party worked out so well. I'll call Esme later and decline."

"No, Bean," I said, turning her to face me. "Please don't. I didn't mean for that to happen. God, you have no fucking idea how...proud I was to have you there with me. No fucking clue. That girl...Gina or Gianna or some shit," I said, but stopped when Bella snorted and shook her head. "She was drunk and just...did it...I didn't want it. I only want...you," I finally admitted softly.

Bella pursed her lips together, but shoved another bite of ice cream into my mouth and then her own.

"God, it sounds so real coming from you," she snorted, slamming the tub down on the table. "I can't believe I listened to you. I can't believe I fell for it." She looked at me, tears brimming in her sweet, brown eyes. "This shit ends now, because you have more power than you deserve. I've loved you since I was seventeen fucking years old, Edward. I've watched you ignore me, flaunt women in front of me, and I can't do it anymore. I just can't. I allowed this...thing between us, because I just for once...wanted you to want me."

She started to stand, but she hiccuped a sob. I pulled her into my lap before she could fall. She fought me for like a second, before she collapsed into heartbreaking tears on my shoulder. I couldn't say anything. She was fucking killing me.

How did I tell her that I'd felt the same way? How did I explain that most of the time, I was full of shit when I flirted with women and nothing ever came of it? I'd just wanted to feel normal, because wanting her made me feel desperate when I couldn't have her. How did I tell her that this whole friends with benefits thing was the best and dumbest idea that I'd ever had, because all I wanted was to know what it was like to love her?

"Hey," I whispered against her hair. "Please don't cry, Coffee Bean."

"Don't call...me that," she hiccuped again.

I couldn't help but smile, because she'd never known the real reason behind that name.

"I can't not call you that, Bella," I chuckled, but wiped away a tear with the back of my hand. "Do you know why I call you Coffee Bean? And it's not because of the color of your hair and eyes," I sighed, closing my eyes. "That's Emmett's reason, not mine."

She pulled back to look at me, and I wiped her tears away with my thumbs. "Why?"

"I call you Coffee Bean because you're my addiction, Bella," I confessed softly. "I couldn't be without you. When I met you, Alice needed a friend, so I backed off, but I couldn't really leave you alone. When we were seniors, I wanted to be more, but they stopped me, because they thought I would just use you. But...Bean...B-bella, I was accepted to Harvard, and chose UW because of you. The mere thought of moving that far away from you made me crazy, Bella."

She gasped, her hand covering her mouth and more tears welling up.

"See? Addictions...Coffee Bean."

~oOo~

BELLA

"No, you're lying," I said, getting up from his lap. "You...you wouldn't...not for me. You never showed anything. You dated..."

"So did you," he countered, standing in front of me. "I hated Jake with an all consuming disgust."

"Victoria...Irina..."

"Made me choose...they made me choose them or you, Bean," he said, shrugging. "I told you. You always come first. Every girl I've ever introduced you to was jealous of you. They didn't get it. And they were right to be jealous, because everything they did, I compared them to you."

"Edward..." I groaned, putting my face in my hands. "James...Jake...they said it, but I didn't believe them. They said you wanted me, but I thought they were just jealous of our friendship."

"That's because I threatened both of them within an inch of their lives," he chuckled, folding his arms across his chest. "They saw right through me, even when I couldn't admit it to myself."

He sat down hard on the edge of the sofa, his face pained as his hands wrecked his hair. "God, Bean. I'm so fucking sorry. I'm not sorry for having the most...glorious opportunity to make love to you, but for the way I did it. I should have told you. I just couldn't fight it anymore."

"You didn't want to kiss Gina or Gianna or some shit?"

He snorted, rolling his eyes. "God, no!" He shook his head and pulled me between his legs. "Are you fucking kidding me? I had the most beautiful woman there! What would I need her for?"

"You aren't looking for someone else, are you?"

He grinned, blushing slightly and looking only at my hands in his. "Uh...no. I was really happy with our...situation. It was fucking perfect."

"I wasn't looking, either," I giggled, sniffling at the same time.

His head snapped up from my hands to my face. "Really?"

"Really. Why would I look? We're so...weirdly perfect together. Do have any idea how awful it's been avoiding you...and ice cream this week?" I smiled down at him.

"I missed ice cream," he whispered, looking up at me with beautiful green eyes that were filled with remorse and hope and something I was afraid to acknowledge.

Though his one statement said it all, because ice cream fixed everything with us. It was an exclusively Edward and Bella thing. Alice was lactose intolerant.

"I missed you." I sighed, looking out the sliding glass doors. "I'm not...me without you..."

"Me, either, Coffee Bean."

The name meant something else now, and that was just one more thing to adjust to. I studied his face, but let go of him and gave myself distance.

"Edward...I can't lose my best friend. This week sucked, but I don't know if we can go back to the way it was before." I looked out the sliding glass doors, my forehead pressing to the cold glass as it rained outside.

"I don't...want it like it was before," Edward said, suddenly right behind me, his forehead bumping the back of my head. "I want it all, Bean. I want to take you out, to let everyone know that we're for real. We are for real, right?"

"I am," I sobbed against the glass, watching my own breath fog up the window. I closed my eyes when his warmth enveloped me, his arms wrapping around me.

"I am, too," he sighed into my hair, placing kisses to my head. "Please, Bean. Please let me show you how beautiful you are to me."

I smiled through my tears, remembering his words from the first night we'd had sex.

"You're everything to me, Bella. Just...fucking everything," he groaned, pulling me tight against his chest. "I was just too stupid to tell you..."

I spun in his arms at the sound of my real name and the anguish in his voice. "You'd tell everyone?" I asked, knowing he'd know what I meant.

"I'd tell the world you were mine."

"You'd forsake all the future Victorias and Irinas and Gina or Gianna or some shits?"

"Who?" he asked with his crooked smile. "I don't want anyone but you, Coffee Bean."

"You'd tell them all that I was your...your..."

"Girlfriend. Yeah," he chuckled, nodding like a child. "I'd put it in skywriting if you wanted me to." He sobered quickly, cupping my face. "You were never a whore, Bean. I never, ever, ever saw you that way. You have to believe me. It was just the only chicken-shit way I could think of to...be with you."

"My ice cream's melting," I whispered, not having an answer for anything, because everything I thought I knew was just slightly skewed. But I think I meant more than just...ice cream.

"Okay," he said with a small smile and a nod. "Ice cream it is..."

I needed time and space to think. We ate in silence, though there wasn't a natural force on the planet that could've stopped us from feeding each other that entire tub of Cookies n Cream. We didn't know how to eat it with two spoons.

And Edward let me just...be.

When it came time for bed, I threw the empty tub away, turning in front of him. I looked up at his beautiful face and shook my head.

"I believed everything you've said to me the last seven months, Edward," I started, and scooped up Frankie, who was singing his sweet little high pitched song in the back of his throat, because he wanted attention. "I believed it, because I thought it was shit, but wanted you to mean it. Now you say you did mean it...I'm just fucking twisted in my head, you know?"

He nodded, reaching over to rub a thumb over Frankie's head, who was now nestled in my arms on his back like the baby we treated him as. Two brown paws reached up and touched both of us, tiny little claws trying to pull us to him. I couldn't help but smile.

"I need..." I huffed, looking at blue eyes instead of green, because the blue ones weren't looking at me as if I could shatter him with one word. "I felt like a dirty little secret, Edward. We're adults, and I get that it was my decision, but... I..."

"I know..." Edward nodded, but brushed a kiss on my cheek. "Please consider my parents' party, Coffee Bean. They want to see you. Everyone is...mad at me."

"Don't call me that," I sighed, but nodded in answer to his request, watching as he walked to his bedroom and closed the door behind him.

~oOo~

My dreams that night were flashes, memories of the last seven months. They replayed like erotic, sensual movies in my unconscious mind. But deep within them, past the carnal knowledge of them, I saw...really fucking saw...Edward, and what we had done to each other.

~o~

May 2010... the day after "the arrangement" ...

"What flavor did you bring?" He bounced up from the sofa and met me in the kitchen.

"Fudge Royale," I answered, chuckling when I saw he had spoon in hand already and was pulling it out of the bag before I could set it down. "How was your day, dear?"

"Shitty," he sighed, taking my purse, keys, and phone. He tossed them all on the counter and tugged me to the sofa. "I couldn't wait to get home."

The tub of ice cream was tossed onto the coffee table, and suddenly, I was underneath him on the couch, being kissed like no tomorrow.

My tongue met his, swirling and twisting, but the room was filled with the sounds of moans and whimpers. I couldn't keep my hands from his hair, and he couldn't keep his hands from slipping up my skirt.

"Are you sore, Coffee Bean?" he whispered huskily in my ear.

"It's definitely something I can live with...please...don't stop," I gasped as his fingers grazed over the outside of my underwear.

"I don't think I can, Bean," he groaned, his brow furrowing. "Now that I've touched you, I never want to stop..."

~o~

Two months into the "arrangement" …

"No, Emmett, I don't need to meet her," Edward sighed, pacing back and forth on the balcony. "Because I'm not dating right now," he groaned, rolling his eyes and running his fingers through his hair.

I chuckled from the sofa, and he turned around to flip me off with the funniest of crooked smiles. Emmett was always trying to set him up with random beautiful women, and he dodged the blind dates beautifully.

"You think it's funny?" he growled after he ended the call. He stalked into the living room, and I bolted up from the couch and tried to make to my bedroom, but was tackled to my bed.

"You know he just wants to see you happy," I laughed, writhing under him.

"I am happy," he sighed, lifting my shirt and leaving an open mouth kiss just below my navel. "I'm happier than I've ever been."

~o~

Two weeks before the Cullen-Denali Christmas party...

"Edward, what's wrong?" I gasped as he pressed me into the sliding glass door. He seemed on edge, worried, almost rough with his touches. He had stalked into the apartment like a caged lion.

"I just..." he whispered, his fingers slipping up into my hair and gripping fiercely. "God, I wanted to do that the day we met," he said, his eyes darkening to a deep forest green. He gripped my hair harder and captured my mouth with his own.

I could feel everything about him – his arousal, his tension, his want.

"Fuck, you're so fucking beautiful, Bean. Jesus Christ," he purred against the side of my neck. "Be my date for the Christmas party, Bella? Please?"

I nodded, because we'd done that for each other before. We'd filled in as dates for each other when we weren't seeing anyone or we felt uncomfortable with the event and just wanted to be with someone that we knew. But when he said my real name like that, I'd would've walked into oncoming traffic if he'd asked.

"Okay," I groaned, my eyes rolling back when he hitched my leg up around his hip. He ground himself into me, his cock pressing just where I needed it.

"No shit, really?" he gasped, pulling away from my neck to press his forehead to mine. "You'll go?"

I nodded, unable to do much else but moan, because his hips didn't stop.

"God, I'll bet you'll be the prettiest there," he sighed, smiling so beautifully. "I know we can't say anything...but damn, I can't wait to show you off..."

~o~

I sat up in bed with a gasp, Frankie looking up from my pillow like I'd lost my mind. He yawned, flipped over upside down, and went back to sleep.

I picked up my phone, and scrolled through numbers until I found the one I needed. I hit send, almost laughing when the sleepy voice answered grumpily.

"Hullo?"

"I need to talk to you, like now," I rambled into the phone. "Can you meet me for coffee?"

"Yeah, sure. Gimme thirty, 'kay?"

I hung up and looked over at the clock. It was still early, but I needed some questions answered.


A/N... Alright the first part is there... the second part is almost done.

For those of you reading my story An Angel's Promise, this won't take me away from it. I just needed to get this idea out of my head before my brain melted. LOL And it will update today, too.

Thanks to JenRar, who answered this panicked email... I needed to make sure it wasn't a dumb idea, though I know it's a well worn idea, but I couldn't stop myself.

Okay, let me know how you like it... REVIEWS are greatly appreciated. Let me hear it... and I hope you all have a fantastic New Year... Later...