Ficawesome Gift Exchange- TAKE 2

Title: Miles to Go

Written for: Skychaser

Rating: T for language and themes

Prompt: 'The distance from A to where you'd Be is only finger lengths that I see'

Summary: Bella Swan is about to embark upon a road trip to rainy Forks, Washington, to visit her boyfriend Jake when on a whim she offers a lift to a hitch hiker. Little does Bella know that this man will alter not only her views of the world but ultimately, her future. AU and AH.

If you would like to see all the stories that are part of this exchange then please visit the Facebook group Fanficaholics Anon: Where Obsession Never Sleeps.

Chapter One

'The Hitch-Hiker'

Bella's POV

Cullen was a total asshole; albeit a kind of ruggedly sexy asshole but an asshole none the less. He was the type of guy who could melt a girl's panties with a single look but once he had charmed his way into said panties, he would drop off the radar like he had been swallowed up by the Bermuda Triangle. Cullen achieved consistently good grades despite a record of attendance that should have hinted at a promising career in the janitorial field. Mostly this was down to the fact that he could bully and bribe the best and brightest at Paradise Valley High School into completing most of his assignments for him.

Despite this, Edward Cullen was one of the most revered guys in the entire school. With a shock of copper coloured hair that a scarecrow would envy and a penchant for getting high on every day ending with a 'y', Cullen should have been a mere blip on the social radar. However, money talks and on occasions, screams. And money was something that Edward was certainly not lacking. Every year since he had passed Driver's Ed. (the one class he had no choice but to take himself), Edward had owned a shiny Volvo; always silver and always the latest sports model driven straight off the forecourt. His father Carlisle was the chief of surgery at Paradise Valley Hospital and his mother was some eccentric but highly paid interior designer. The family lived in what was considered the wealthy part of town; a fact that Edward and his sister Rosalie were not shy about advertising.

The guys wanted to be him and the girls- well, the girls mostly wanted to be under him. Edward was more than happy to oblige that one. Ass-hole.

Yet here I was driving the guy just over a thousand miles for no good reason other than I had failed to recognise the lanky, slightly slumped figure at the side of the highway as his. And boy was I mad as hell at myself for that mistake.

I hunkered down over the steering wheel of my mom's Chevy Aveo, which Cullen had eyed with disdain as soon as it had crawled to a stop beside him. He had sported an over stuffed duffel and an unimpressed air that from a distance I had found oddly alluring. Wearing a white shirt that hugged his somewhat defined abs and with a pair of designer sunglasses perched on the bridge of his nose, Cullen had looked kind of like a movie star. This was perhaps my one and only reason for experiencing a sudden urge to commit a charitable act by offering a lift to a stranger, who my logic told me could turn out to be any manner of psychopath.

"Don't I know you?" had been his opening line, head angled and lips twisted upwards into a cocksure smile. My heart had lurched, my cheeks instantly reddened, and my 'nerd gene' kicked in with full force.

"Cullen..." I had managed to choke out, my voice cracking somewhere in the middle.

"No, that would be me," he replied, his expression patient but tone condescending, "Isabella Swan, right?"

I had nodded, helpless to do much else, and watched instead with horror as Edward had pulled open the passenger side door and tossed his bag onto the back seat before joining me in the front.

I simply glared at him as he adjusted the front seat in order to accommodate his legs, which were considerably longer than those of the average biped. Although the car belonged to my Mom, within the last year I had become its main driver. This was in part due to my Mom's guilt at refusing to let me bring my old Chevy truck from Forks when I moved back the previous school year. Although my heart would always find its home in Phoenix, I had loved the sleepy little town of Forks. It was cold, wet and green; three attributes that I did not commonly find appealing but somehow Forks was different.

I had been sixteen when my Mom had first suggested that I might be better off living with my Dad. Charlie had recently been promoted to Chief of police, whilst in contrast my Mom had been laid off due to staffing cuts at the gallery she worked at. We were in real financial trouble and although Charlie had offered to help, my Mom had been stubborn in accepting money from her ex. Instead, it had been decided on my behalf that I would leave my home and friends in Phoenix to live with Charlie in Forks until Renee was back on her feet again. I had screamed and rebelled as only a sixteen year old girl can, and just generally made life unbearable for both of my parents. Regardless of my protests within a week I was on my way to Washington with a single suitcase of belongings and an attitude so big my Mom had joked that I should really check it at the baggage terminal.

Charlie had pulled out all the stops to make me feel at home, including redecorating the room that had once served as my nursery. This was no small gesture given that Charlie had left every aspect of the house as it had been since he and my Mom divorced shortly after I was born. I was grateful yet unwaveringly sullen.

My father's biggest peace offering had arrived several months later in the form of my Chevy truck. The thing was a sheer monster; a classic, shining red example of how they don't make vehicles the way they used to. From the moment Billy Black and his son had driven the truck onto Charlie's drive, I had fallen in love; and not just with my new set of wheels.

At nineteen, Jacob Black was a couple of years my senior but his father and mine were such old friends that our relationship was celebrated. Charlie termed Jake 'a good kid', which ordinarily would have been the kiss of death for any relationship a teenager may have been contemplating. Jake had been studying mechanical engineering at MIT on a football scholarship when Billy had his accident. A stray bullet during a hunting trip had severed his spinal cord and rendered him paralysed from the waist down. Jake had returned home within the week to care for his father, forfeiting his future in the process. Jake knew enough about cars to secure himself a part time job at a local garage in town and, whenever ends didn't quite meet, the people of the reservation were always quick to lend a hand. My Dad did what he could by way of keeping Billy company and donating his old sports DVDs to save his boredom, but the Quileutes were a proud people, reluctant to accept charity from any but their own.

As soon as Charlie had heard that Billy was planning on selling the old Chevy, he had Jake start work rebuilding the engine for me. It sure wasn't the typical ride for your average American teenage girl but thanks to Renee's influence I could never really be described as 'average'.

Whilst my Dad and Billy headed inside, Jake offered to show me round my new truck and like any girl with eyes would, I accepted. Within half an hour of our first meeting we were already arranging our first date, which turned out to be nothing more glamorous than a cup of coffee on Jake's sofa whilst his Dad slept in the next room. Not that I had been bothered. Jake was a fascinating person, from his extensive knowledge of cars to his love of music and his ability to eat a sixteen inch pizza in one sitting. He was easy to be around and always smiling despite the latest crap that life decided to throw at him. In eighteen months together I only ever saw Jake get mad once and even then his temper was so naturally mild that I laughed outright. In short, he was the perfect boyfriend.

We spent almost every waking moment together with the added bonus that neither of our parents seemed to mind much. I made few friends during my time in Forks and though my social life was embarrassing, none of that mattered when I was with Jake.

Three months before my eighteenth birthday, Renee married a minor league baseball player by the name of Phil. Jake and I flew out to Phoenix together for the ceremony, and it was whilst we were there that my Mom decided to drop her bombshell. She and Phil were expecting a baby and, out of some misplaced sense of guilt, Renee wanted me in Phoenix with them; one big, fake happy family. I pleaded my case to them all, deciding that maturity would probably serve me better than one of my customary tantrums. However, no amount of reasoning, logic or dignified snivelling managed to change Renee's mind. I was ordered home to Phoenix within a month, leaving behind my boyfriend, my happiness and my life.

Almost twelve months later, I was finally making my way back to Forks with a smile so big on my face that anyone would think I had won the lottery. Sure, I felt a little bad about leaving behind Phil, Renee and my new baby brother, but I had held up my end of the bargain and graduated high school first. My original plan had been to return to Forks and take a gap year in order to work out my future, but whatever that would be I knew that Jake would most definitely be in it. Every day that we had been apart, Jake had written to me. I had saved each letter, pouring over them under my covers with a flashlight when it was gone midnight and I couldn't sleep. I had felt like a child covertly reading comic books when they should be sleeping but Jake's letters and calls were the only things that had gotten me through my time in Phoenix. I loved my Mom more than anything and Phil was a great guy, but none of that could fill the void that leaving Jake behind had created in my life.

As Cullen fastened his seatbelt, I threw the car into gear and it lurched forwards. Our bodies were flung back against the seats and I grimaced, ignoring the look that Cullen shot me over the rim of his sunglasses. I gritted my teeth and mentally counted to ten to prevent from exploding the way I had become accustomed to of late.

We had been driving a good half hour in total silence before I had considered asking Cullen where he was headed. I peered over at my passenger who had settled back against his seat with both hands hooked behind his head and his feet propped on the dashboard. I cleared my throat pointedly but Cullen simply glanced at me with a small smile playing across his lips. My grip on the wheel tightened and I growled under my breath, although he appeared not to mind my hostility.

"Where is it you're looking to be?" I demanded, my voice more controlled than I would have thought possible. Cullen was capable of pushing by buttons by mere proximity.

"Seattle," Cullen replied, raking one hand through his tousled hair before inquiring, "That is on your way, right?"

"Unfortunately," I grumbled, simply flashing Cullen a wan smile before returning my attention to the highway which was almost devoid of other traffic. Briefly I considered asking him to chip in for gas, knowing that he was more than good for the funds. However, the sense of courtesy that Renee had worked so hard to instil in me prevented me from doing as much. I sighed, wondering if it would be at all possible to drive twenty four hours straight without rest stops and bathroom breaks.

"I gotta piss," Cullen volunteered, shattering my thoughts to oblivion. My knuckles whitened as I gripped the wheel tighter and resisted the urge to grind my teeth. Cullen dug one hand into the pockets of his jeans and retrieved a somewhat mangled cigarette butt which he placed between his lips.

"Then why didn't you go whilst you were waiting at the side of the road?" I demanded, my tone tart and lips curling into a snarl. Cullen seemed oblivious to my snarky mood or perhaps merely assumed that this was my permanent countenance.

"No smoking in my car," I snapped, watching Cullen from the corner of my eye as he fished around in his jacket for a lighter. He paused in his task, rolled his eyes, and slipped the unlit butt back into his pocket. My shoulders relaxed a little and I released a deep, cleansing breath that Renee and her devotion to yoga would have been proud of.

"You mind if I turn on the radio?" he asked, his fingers already busy twiddling the little knobs. I resisted the urge to slam my own head against the wheel and simply shrugged. There was a loud crackle of static hum before Cullen finally settled on a station playing some kind of heavy rock that threatened to make my ears bleed. I winced and Cullen simply turned up the volume before sagging against his seat again.

This was going to be a long drive.