Entry: We Heart It O/S Contest

Title: My Little Dove

Rating & Any Needed Warning: M, for drug use, sexual content, and language. If I've done my story right, you will need tissues.

Picture Chosen: 27 / http:/ /weheartit. com/entry/6544958

Pairing: Bella & Edward

Summary: Bella moves to Vegas to ease the pain of an emotional breakup and a life altering decision. She starts over in a new fast-paced life that includes jobs as a waitress, phone sex operator, and a club DJ. Can she find happiness in Vegas or will she get lost in the bright lights?

Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer had an epic dream: she owns everything Twilight. The hotel and club mentioned are real, but this story is fiction.

~*We Heart It O/S WINNER! JUDGE'S PICK: Janine/ SweetLovinCullen*~

My little Dove

Bella POV

September 2009. 23 years old.

When I moved into my apartment, I found an old black corded telephone left behind on the back shelf of my closet. It looked like an old rotary phone and was corded, but it was just made that way. The buttons were push buttons and it even had a flash and mute button. I figured it probably didn't work, but I got it connected and it worked perfectly fine. I supposed it was just lost in the shuffle of someone's move. Most people had cell phones or at least cordless phones and its previous owner probably had no intention of using it again. Even though I hadn't purchased it, it was one of my first few new possessions in Vegas. I thought I'd keep it and use it as my vintage-looking home phone, but I found another creative use for it, or rather my co-worker and new friend had.

My official job title was "audio erotic performer" and I had to say that I had perfected my sexy bedroom voice and I'd become an expert at commanding sexual actions from my customers. Most people would call me a phone sex operator but I preferred the title of performer, because that's what I did: I performed. I couldn't say the job was boring, the plethora of sexual requests was astounding and I had to think fast and go along with their sometimes bizarre fantasies. It kept me on my toes and my mind occupied with things other than what my life could have or might have been.

I could tell that the men I spoke with were in unhappy marriages or incapable of having real relationships outside of their video games and computer screens. I hoped at the very least, maybe I made someone feel happy or less lonely and they were able to find some happy feelings in an otherwise sad or dull life. I knew how it felt, to feel lonely in a city this size where people came for vacations and were happy. I was lonely too.

This was one of three jobs I had here and kept me afloat in my new city. It used to be a fun side-job, talking to strangers and helping them find their release, and getting paid to do so. A bonus was that the job paid surprisingly well, and it was a necessity to help pay the bills. Today though, would be the last day I'd have to deal with this and I was grateful I could close that chapter in my life. I had a new amazing job, something that I enjoyed doing and that kept my mind busy.

"Stroke it for me baby, and feel it for me…do it slowly, roll your hands from the base up all the way to the tip. My hands are grasping it, my nails grazing it, pulling, grabbing it and savoring it. I want to taste you so bad. But first, my hands are going around your length, stroking, up and down, slow then fast. It's making me so hot. That's right; let me hear what you think of my soft little hands all over your hard cock."

He made animalistic grunts and groans as I spoke my teasing words into the telephone mouthpiece. The windows were closed to shut out any loudness of the streets as I lounged on my back on the bed. In the stifling Las Vegas heat, I wore my shortest shorts and my lightest white tank top, pushed up and exposing my story-telling ink. On my feet I wore thick black socks, because even though it was hot, my feet always seemed to feel cold. I'd been literally sweating and couldn't wait for the call to be over. I muted my telephone momentarily; the black cord stretched across my sweaty exposed stomach as I wiped the sweat beads dripping from my forehead, my hair had begun to stick to my head as I yawned—loudly. I released the mute button on the phone and continued where I left off.

"Mmmm… Uh huh. Just like that, baby. I wanna earn an A+ in sucking dick."

Sick bastard has me role-playing as a student to his professor. Not my best performance—but hey, it would be my last night.

The naughty conversation continued between myself and the stranger as we got more into what he wanted to do with me and what I couldn't wait to do to him. After the man talked dirty to me and I entertained him back, he found his release by cursing and grunting into the phone and I was thankful that I would finally be done. I'd been released of the stifling coffin of heat that had formed in my teeny apartment as I opened up the windows and let the hard outside noises enter into my bedroom. A hot Nevada breeze entered the room, but at least there was air circulating and it didn't feel so stuffy.

An ambulance siren blared by as I heard the consistent sound of cars honking their horns on the streets. I turned the dial all the way up on my old fan and plopped back down onto the bed, my eyes were closed and my mind exhausted. I really wished the apartment had air conditioning, it seemed cruel not to have it in this city. One arm covered my eyes as my other hand rubbed across the tattoo across my side and down my stomach. I lay there tracing the details of the tattoo with my pinky finger. The words and my little dove permanently etched, always there to remind me of my mistakes as my mind sought sleep. Maybe I'd actually use the phone now to communicate back with the real world.

I had ached for Edward to seek me out, to say that he needed me as much as I needed him. It was an impossible wish because of my sabotage, but still one that I had kept close to my heart. Two years later though, with no communication and no contact, it was a wish that had slipped so far away. Every moment and day we were apart it grew further out of my grasp.

But, the city I had moved to was welcoming, with its twinkling lights and glamour and its ever changing and moving people and traffic. New beginnings were a certainty, and there would always be a new shuffle of people encountered every day. It was easy to get lost in a city like this.

That was how I liked it.

Two years earlier I'd made a life changing decision that forced me to run from the man I loved. I'd been in college, had a job, I'd been engaged to be married to my best friend, and my life had been just about as perfect as possible. But it was destroyed: by me. I'd wanted to hide away from my mistakes, things that I should have known better than to do.

I would always remember his beautiful eyes and how the color of them reminded me of the evergreen trees in our home state of Washington. Having made my confession though, I had felt the emotions through those beautiful eyes as they passed from sadness, disappointment and anger, emitting the different emotions through waves as the hurtful words he yelled broke me down. Through the blurred vision of my tears, my hung head and the curtain of hair over my face, I'd just barely seen the last images of him. I'd seen the form of his body walking away as he shut me out of his life. He'd been disgusted with me, and I was too. Edward reminded me of home because he was my home. He knew all my faults and had still loved me, until that day.

Our love hadn't been easy, but it had been genuine and true and I loved Edward with a passion that was still flaming, even two years later. No matter what I'd wanted, I knew I couldn't bring myself to ever return to that familiar feeling of home I once had. There was no home without Edward.

The story of how Edward and I met hadn't been a simple girl meets boy tale. I hadn't been the head cheerleader and he wasn't the star football quarterback. In order to continue with my story, you'd have to know about my past and the circumstances that brought Edward and I together. It wouldn't occur until I moved to Washington, but before that the first fifteen years of my life were spent in Phoenix.

I didn't just experiment with drugs at a young age, I was invested in them, I loved smoking weed and grew dependent upon the pills that were both prescription and non-prescription. I was sexually promiscuous at the earliest age one could be called a teen, but luckily there was some good advice my mother had given—don't get pregnant, don't get a sexually transmitted disease, and always use a condom.

My mother Julie, who as far as I know now is still in some women's prison in Arizona, was a drug addict and I guess the old saying really was true, "like mother like daughter." My mother provided no guidance and no rules to follow, and I was happy with that. I got high with my mom and my friends, and drank liquor with her long-time boyfriend, Phil. In a three month time frame during my freshman year of high school, the shit started hitting the fan.

I was brought into court for skipping too many days of school and was in danger of being held back. Phil was arrested for dealing drugs. My mom got caught breaking into a neighbor's house and was sent to jail for larceny and drug possession. Our fucked up family ended up spiraling out of control. The trouble with the law, and the desertion of my family figures, lead to me being put into the state's custody at fifteen years of age. I was placed in temporary custody and I loathed it. All of a sudden I had rules and I had to keep out of trouble and attend school, and stay drug-free.

My birth certificate officially listed "unknown" under my father's name and my mother claimed she didn't know who he was. When I asked, she told me she met him at eighteen at a concert, a one-night stand—she never knew his name. As my case unfolded, my mom cooperated and later admitted that she did indeed know who my father was, he was actually her steady boyfriend at the time.

She found out she was pregnant by him shortly after they broke up and wanted nothing more to do with him, she left without telling him she was pregnant. I found out my dad was actually out there, a normal man from a normal family. This was how I met my birth-father, Charlie. He was obviously shocked when he found out after all those years of not knowing, but he actually wanted to get to know me. I guess I should have been happy that he and his family wanted to know me, but he just felt like a stranger and I didn't want anything to do with him. It wasn't his fault he didn't know I existed, but it still felt like I would be living some fake life. He lived with his wife Renée and their two kids in a sad excuse of a town called Forks,Washington where he worked as Chief of Police.

Trust me, I knew it was ironic.

Then, something crazy and unexpected happened. In lieu of me being put through the Phoenix foster care system, Charlie and his wife went through the process with the state and took me in, welcoming me into their own family. It was odd because they were strangers to me, they may have very well been foster parents. All of a sudden, I was shuffled into a new life in a new state, mid-semester of freshmen year. I didn't understand the concept of their type of family; I never knew anyone who had both of their parents living with them and who did normal things like watch television and talked while having dinner together. I was used to hanging out with my friends, drinking, getting high, finding ways to live behind my wall of fantasy, doing whatever and whenever I pleased. Charlie worried about my behavior and my past home life, but we didn't know how to communicate with each other. He scolded me when he saw me smoking, but I wasn't intentionally trying to piss him off, it was just what I knew. I could tell from the look in his eyes that he felt like he got much more than he bargained for by allowing me to live with him.

The town of Forks was tiny and boring and I quickly found the source of drugs in the town, and got back into my normal routine. When I was at home, I had to have forced conversations with my new fake family and it was tough, but I was sneaky with my drugs and could hide my highs well in their limited company. I started hanging out with a guy who attended a high school in neighboring La Push, Washington named Jacob, who sourced my drugs and became my sexual outlet and my friend, outside of my own new high school.

The following year, when I was a sophomore, Edward came in as a transfer student and he was literally a breath of fresh air from all the fake people at my school. We immediately felt the attraction to one-another and the easiness in talking with each other. He quickly became my new normal; we formed a bond over being the "new kids" in school. We grew closer together over our love for music, the love of Pepsi and our hatred for school spirit. I felt like a typical teenager and he was my best friend and my would-be lover.

I noticed a difference when I was with him, how I wanted to be good because he made me a better person. But, I was young, stupid, and jealous of the school full of beautiful girls who all clearly wanted Edward and would flaunt their assets in front of him. I'd think they were always prettier, taller, better dressed, and more of a match for Edward than I was. The girls ignored me when I was with him and made flirty comments to him in my presence. He never saw it as flirting and thought I was being unnecessarily jealous and that caused tension between us. I would hear the girls talk about me when they thought I couldn't hear (or maybe they did know) how I was too plain and sad looking for Edward. We would have constant arguments; my poor self-esteem was always present. I often wondered why he put up with my behavior. I couldn't even stand to be me. But Edward and I complimented each other somehow. In some fucked up way, he needed me like I needed him.

I was two different people though, when I wanted to be high, I would hang out with Jacob for the familiar feeling of calmness that only the drugs could provide. Edward thought he could always help me with my problems, but I needed more than calming words. I always had weed or my drug of choice, Adderall on me almost always and panicked without it. It was comforting knowing Jacob always provided me with easy access, and that was why Edward hated him so much. Jacob could provide something to me that I wanted and that Edward wouldn't approve of. Jacob introduced me to all sorts of new drugs, but all I wanted was Adderall and weed and I could function normally. The drugs were my self-medication for my depression, for something Edward and I didn't know the root cause of.

Edward though, was good, and clean, and when I was with him, he filled my need for comfort and peace by just being with me. I was a different person with him; I tried to be good, because he was my best friend, he understood me more than anyone else had.

Jealousy was thick between Edward and I though, we obsessed over each other and had silly fights. He would be jealous of Jacob and I'd be jealous of the school full of girls who all wanted him. He hated me taking the drugs and for calling Jacob my friend. I argued over my need to maintain a sense of normality. After one particularly bad argument with Edward, I even had sex with Jacob, strictly for the passion which would come with Edward knowing. It was my way of getting Edward to snap back to reality. He was pissed and hated Jacob even more. After tears, shouting, and heartbreak, we found our way back to each other—even through my fucked up way of getting his attention. I swore I would never fuck up again. I started the process of cleaning up my life and that meant cleaning Jacob from my life's slate. It was impossible to quit cold-turkey, but I found someone else who would help find my drugs.

Edward blamed Jacob for my addiction, but it went back much further than that. My drugs made me incredibly focused, and I studied like a champion, getting fantastic grades in the process. But it also could make me feel dulled and I was never hungry, and as a result too skinny. Edward worried for me, because I couldn't find myself enough to care.

By senior year, Edward and I were in a solid relationship, but I still had to have my fix of weed and I couldn't lose my grasp on Adderall. Edward and I made plans to attend the University of Washington in Seattle after I agreed to start treatment. After we graduated high school, a huge accomplishment for me, we focused on moving on to better things. I knew I had a problem and that I had demons that I didn't have a full handle on.

I screamed and sobbed and fought having to go into a drug treatment center, but I knew Edward couldn't keep saving me and I had to do it for myself. So I did, but I would never claim it to be an easy decision. It was like losing my safety net on life.

I avoided Jacob, even though he would still contact me, because I knew that it would piss off Edward to see me fail and not beat my addiction. Jacob had no plans for college and he stayed behind in Forks. He didn't really have to work since he sold enough drugs to the high school kids. It was easier to handle being clean with him not around.

We settled into a one-bedroom apartment near school as planned, and finished a pretty quiet two years of college, where we played house and I successfully managed thirteen months drug-free. We were back on track as a normal couple and we were both happy. We knew each other's habits and each other's career dreams. He wanted to be a doctor, I wanted a business career and we supported each other in our journey to get there. We just knew each other inside and out, and had found infinite love in one another. I even had a happy and healthy relationship with Charlie, who I now knew as my father and the kids as my real siblings. My contact with my real mother was the only thing lost. Everything was settling in the way it should have been and I felt like a new version of me—happy and satisfied.

December 2006, 20 years old.

One clear early Sunday December afternoon, Edward was in class and I was studying for a test in our apartment. I got a frantic call from Renée saying that I had to come home right away; Charlie had been involved in a car accident. I called Edward but there was no answer, he had his phone off while he was in class. I drove like a bat out of hell back to Forks, making the three hour drive back in record time.

I met Renée at the hospital, where I learned that Charlie had been involved in a single car accident that was fatal. He'd lost control of his cruiser on black ice and ended up flipping the car. He never gained consciousness and died there in the hospital, before I had arrived. I never had an opportunity to thank him for being there for me when I could have easily gotten lost in the system, where my life could have been significantly different or I myself could have been dead.

I only knew him for a few years, but he was a good man, he didn't make me feel worthless and he treated me as well as his own, now fatherless young children. I hugged Renée as she sobbed and screamed and I comforted the kids, Bree and Seth, who at eight and ten respectively, could barely comprehend that they would never see their father alive again.

I needed Edward at that moment, everyone was breaking down around me and the tears, crying, pain, and Charlie's death swirled around me making me dizzy. I had never dealt with death before, and didn't know how to react. I dialed him again but there had still been no answer. I tried his phone again and tried some more, wishing he could tell me how I needed to handle this. I wanted to feel the security of his strong arms around me and how they made me feel, but he wasn't there when I needed him. I was weak and needed to medicate it the way I only knew how. I excused myself from the sad sights and sounds and sought out Jacob, who once found, gave me a new drug to explore—heroin.

We didn't talk.

I didn't have any money.

I easily forgot that I hadn't taken drugs in a little more than one year, it felt like old times, I was a teenager again.

Jacob didn't ask why I needed it.

He put his lips on mine after we'd injected heroin into our veins and things continued. We had mindless sex and then I left, it felt like old times. I would not claim that the heroin made me do what I didn't want to, I just wanted to feel again, I needed something normal. I drove back to the house in Forks and found it empty and unmoving, the lights all off. I felt sick from the feeling of Jacob's lips and body on mine and I missed Charlie and wanted Edward's comfort. I got out of my truck and walked around inside the house looking for Charlie's ghost in my stupid high, flicking on each light as I walked around the house. After walking around inside, I came back outside and looked at the house and its windows, it looked like a haunted house with windows for eyes and the door for its nose. The high was unlike anything I felt before, like I could be many places at once. I felt my heart racing, I felt hyper, and although it was freezing outside I couldn't feel it.

A ladder was propped up against the house and I remembered Charlie telling me that he was going to be hanging Christmas lights that week. I climbed up all the way up and lay across the roof, looking back at the now cloudy and darkening sky. When Edward finally got in touch with me, an hour later, I broke down crying. I needed to see him, to feel him, to just be lying here with me. He found me on the roof when he came, the three hour drive also made in record time. He rushed out to come get me where he held me and hugged me and was comforting and warm and the light I desperately needed.

"Charlie—my dad, he…heroin…I'm sorry," I sobbed.

"I know you are babe, it's going to be okay. I'm sorry I wasn't here sooner," he said with a caring and heartfelt tone.

The sky had become black and I couldn't even see the stars, but he was my bright, shiny North Star, my Polaris.

He helped me, when hours later the effects of the drug made me shaky and chills crept up my body. It felt like I had the flu, I vomited several times and he nursed me when I felt like shit. He was my hero, who else would put up with my destructive ways? He was my angel, always there to be good and bright and I always found a way to be bad and bring the heaviness of darkness. He was there even when I didn't deserve it. I didn't want to tell him that I'd also cheated on him—so I didn't.

We stayed in Forks for a few days to help with the kids, cooking and cleaning, while Renée started making the plans for the funeral. Later, days after the funeral, life went on in Seattle. Edward monitored my drug use and I went back into a drug program and eased back off, with his help, resetting my number back to zero days of being drug-free. I found out the real reason Edward hadn't been there to receive my call, three weeks later when he proposed. He had been finalizing my engagement ring, a ring that had been special ordered. He told me that he had asked my father's permission for marriage and had his blessing one week before my father was killed. It was a cruel turn of events, but it made me feel happy to know that my father knew and approved of us getting married.

A few weeks later, January 2007. 20 years old.

The princess cut diamond glistened on the third finger on my left hand catching the sun shining through our kitchen window. It was beautiful but the man sitting beside me was all of that and more. I felt alive with happiness and planning of my wedding. I really looked forward to my big day.

"Babe…I really think you need your help with these decisions. I can't decide between the hydrangeas or the stephanotis. Or, what about the lily of the valley and sweet peas?"

"I'm sure they are all very nice, but the only flower I'm familiar with is roses," Edward said to me with a kiss on the cheek. "Do you really need to make a decision now? We agreed that we would wait one year."

"I need to plan for one year, Edward…there is so much to do!" I said excitedly.

"I told you I'd get you a wedding planner…"He said with a smirk and shake of his head.

"Edward, please… that is an added and totally unnecessary expense. Just because your family has the money to spend, doesn't mean I want it or think we should use it. I'm a simple girl, you know that."

"There's nothing simple about you, babe. But, okay, the offer is still there. I've got to get going, have a great day and I'll see you after work."

He leaned over grabbing my knee and bringing his full lips to mine in a passionate farewell kiss, as he got up from his seat. Even after being with him for so long, it always felt new, exciting, and electric when we kissed. He stirred my emotions with every kiss and touch and it felt impossibly perfect.

I had been sick lately, running a slight fever and feeling generally unwell, we assumed it was still my body getting used to being weaned off of the heroin. Edward told me that I needed to get checked out and I agreed that today would be the day. When I got to the doctor's we went through all the checkups and my doctor came in and started the discussing my drug use and sexual history. The doctor then blindsided me with life altering news. He told me that I was seven weeks pregnant.


I knew that I was pregnant with Jacob's child. I had always been careful, even when I was in my early teens. The thought killed me, but I couldn't remember if he did or did not wear a condom. That one night of mindless, unprotected boring sex resulted in a baby that had been growing inside of me, and I was terrified.


When Edward walked in that night from work, my eyes darted nervously to him then back down at my feet. He could sense something was wrong without me even saying anything; he was worried about my health. As I started crying, I knew it had to come out; he was so far off in his assumptions. I started with the night my dad died and when I did the heroin and how I cheated on him and proceeded to tell him about the doctor's visit. He was hurt and sad, and angry and furious at me all at once. He started yelling at me, telling me how selfish I was, how irresponsible I was and how he didn't want those qualities in a woman he was supposed to marry, that what I had done was unforgivable. He called me a "fucked up drug addict," and a "failure."

I stood there and took it, I had no excuses, I did not shout back, I let him explode as I hid behind a shameful face filled with tears and sobs, my face hidden by a curtain of hair. His beautiful eyes were raging and I didn't want to be the cause of that emotion. He stormed out and didn't return for three days. During those three days, I had too much time to think and I felt deserted and completely lost. I tried contacting him through his friends and family and they were all cold towards me and not helpful, they wouldn't tell me where he was. I knew then that I had to get out of there, because I would be judged not just by him, but everyone else I surrounded myself with. I took off my beautiful engagement ring and placed it on the dresser underneath the note I scribbled which said, "I'm sorry. I love you."

I used to have a plan. My college dreams were being realized, I'd been getting help for my addiction and had actually been beating it. I was engaged to the most loving, caring, amazing, and gorgeous man. But it was destroyed in an instant, giving way to my confusion and sadness. Old habits resurfaced and what I'd done was unforgivable. The decision was made in my mind, I had to leave.

I knew that I had to run and it had to be far away from the hurt I'd caused him and the guilt that consumed me, but no matter the distance between us it would always stay with me. I drove from our home in Seattle to Las Vegas in my beat up Chevy pickup truck and my last paycheck, a measly $500 without regard to what I'd do or how I'd survive once I got there. I had no plan; nobody I knew lived there, no home, no true family to go to. No Edward. I could have driven to Canada or California or... Brazil, but I picked the one city that most felt like it should become home.

Wasn't Vegas the place where dreams were made?

The first thing I did when I got to Vegas was locate a doctor, I wasn't prepared for a child, but I couldn't continue to be selfish, I knew I had to keep up with the checkups. I found a clinic that assisted low-income cases, like me. After only three weeks of doctors visits, at ten weeks of pregnancy, my doctor told me that I had lost the baby. I had a miscarriage. The doctor told me sometimes miscarriages occur due to stress and it made me feel like it had been my fault. I'd failed another innocent life in my selfishness and stupidity. Although I had made movements towards being clean of drugs, I had tried a new drug, heroin and I'd had a history of drug abuse. In all the preliminary questions with my doctor, I failed to mention those things for fear that the doctor would judge me and I'd be arrested, it was my fault the baby hadn't lived.

I called Edward from my cell phone, several times, all of which went unanswered.

The loss of my child was hard and depressing to experience alone, and I hit my ultimate rock bottom. I cried for days, uncertain of what I should do next. Even though it wasn't Edward's child, it was still my child, a tiny boy or girl who might have had some of my features. I never got to see my body change; it was like I was the same girl as before, to anyone who didn't know better. The only other person who knew about the pregnancy was Edward and maybe whoever else he told. I felt judged by the people he knew, even if I didn't know what he said to everyone.

I took off on another free falling spiral, dipping back into trying to find my drugs, all the information and support to get and stay clean of drugs went out the window. I used my little savings to ease my pain and it went fast, much too fast. I slept in my truck for a few weeks because I'd rather have the drugs than a place to stay or food to eat. I lost track of time and was dirty and dulled of any senses and pretty much walking dead.

I didn't talk to anyone, I made no eye contact. I was a nameless face, a homeless statistic of my own accord. I did have my cell phone, but it was silent. I didn't get phone calls and the silence of the phone was frightening, I didn't have anyone. I called Edward on several occasions, trying instead from a payphone, but the calls were never answered. I honestly didn't know what I would have said if he had answered.

I called Renée one last time from my cell phone, told her I was out of Washington and was safe, but didn't want to be found. I didn't tell her where I was living but told her I'd check in every once in awhile. She sounded worried, but I really had no business there, she wasn't related to me and the only person I wanted to be with didn't want anything to do with me. I took the SIM card out of my phone and threw it in the trash, then decided to just toss the whole fucking thing. People lived without cell phones, and that's what I did.


I worked on a drawing that was stuck in my mind, drawing a flying dove, a symbol for the death of my child and death of my relationship with Edward, with the words to how I felt, every day, "I am sad." I was sad...and pathetic. I needed a permanent reminder that I was low and unworthy. The dove drawn in memory of my unknown child and of Edward, fleeing away, the words were the truth.

I lost track of time and days, but probably a few weeks after I ridded myself of contact from my former life, I was at the point where I was going to have to sell my truck for money.

Then, I met Alice. Alice was a petite girl with neon-colored hair which changed colors weekly, a nose stud and lip piercing, and tattoos that covered her thin arms. She worked as a waitress at a restaurant I'd stop at, when my body finally forced me to eat. It was fast and cheap and open 24 hours and she always seemed to be there when I came in stoned and sullen. Over several weeks, she became my friend as we learned about each other's lives and I learned to find my smile once again. She lived with her boyfriend, Jasper in a small apartment. Through some miracle, they let me stay with them while I got back on my feet. Alice got me a job as a waitress in her restaurant when there was an opening a few days later. They became my only friends in a city of strangers. I picked up every available shift and dealt with cheap tippers and rude customers. It was hard work and I was often exhausted, I despised it. Eventually though, I made enough money to get out of their cramped apartment and into my own little shitty hole in the wall. I didn't want to burden them with my presence and I really wanted to do something right for a change.

As a way of trying to heal, I had the idea to turn my drawing into a tattoo. Alice's friend Maria owned a tattoo studio and offered to give me a tattoo at a reduced cost, when I had mentioned that I wanted one. Maria didn't want to do it when she saw the words, but I begged her. I told her that it would help me heal and she finally agreed. It hurt when the needle entered my skin over my underweight, skeletal bones, but I was happy with the results. It served as a permanent reminder of my errors.


Once in my new apartment, I started on a path of self-healing. I searched out a program to help get me back off drugs and started back on the road of fighting my addiction. I got back on track and my normal weight returned. I started feeling like I was a person again, not just a ghost of my former self. When it got tough for me financially, Alice suggested I try what she did when she got to Vegas. I got into the world of sex, not by using my body but my voice. Alice told me she did that for extra money when she arrived right out of high school, and she got me in touch with a company that got me a job right away. Thus, I was a waitress most days and had a phone sex career, most nights.

In a twenty-four hour city like Vegas, though, I always searched out other career opportunities. Jasper told me that everyone has a talent and I scoffed at that, my only talent was fucking up mine and other people's lives. Music helped me when I was healing and so I was always up for hanging out in the clubs where Jasper worked. He had tons of equipment and he took me under his wing as an apprentice and taught me the art of spinning records. I was eager to find my talent and it made me feel good to learn something—anything—and I learned fast and I was actually good. Eventually, Jasper and Alice thought I was good enough to take it further and he set me up with a small time gig spinning at a really small bar. After a year of juggling jobs, I got an amazing job opportunity. "Clubs love female DJ's," Jasper told me, and I was suddenly in demand. Two months before my twenty-third birthday, I got my dream job. I got hired at the penthouse club at The Palms hotel in Las Vegas, outside of the strip at a nightclub called, Moon. I quit my waitressing job and kept the phone sex thing as a back-up. It was fun spinning and watching people dance and drink. In the room full of dancers, it made me feel normal and the music made me feel good. I couldn't not have fun or be happy if I'd spend my nights dancing and listening to the words of songs, could I?

September, 2009. 23 years old.

I'd become a different woman from two years prior, and although I'd moved on with my life, got on a fast track career as a DJ, I couldn't forget the path that it took to get me here. This was not quite how I imagined my life would have been, having just turned twenty-three. I couldn't help but wonder how Edward's life turned out. I refused to get another cell phone after I threw the other one out. I've talked to Renee one time since that call, to let her know that I got back on my feet and found an apartment and job. I liked the good old fashioned home phone plan and it was cheap, much cheaper than having a cell phone would have been.


The day after I'd ended my phone career, I felt free with my one job—my DJ job at the Palms hotel. I headed into work and got to work setting up on the platform stage, getting my songs ready for the evening. I wore a short purple tank top, bright pink bra straps peek out and my tattoo also peeking out slightly, giving people a glimpse but not the full view of words underneath. The outfit was completed with a short black leather mini-skirt and black pumps. When things got going, I danced along with the crowded room with headphones draped over my shoulders. I was lucky to get a good following of people; I guessed men loved female DJ's. It also probably helped the way I dressed, but as this hotel is known for the Playboy themes and the club was located in the fantasy tower, it fit the image of the nightclub.

The dance floor had glass tiles that were color-changing and the lights were moving around the room adding to its unique atmosphere. I played the usual hip-hop hits and my personal favorites, dancing and bobbing my head and swinging my body with the crowd. I spotted Alice and Jasper weaving through the crowd as they waved me down and I say hi to them. They pointed at the back of the club indicating that they'd get a drink at the bar and then head outside onto the penthouse outdoor deck.

The retractable roof opened up as they left and suddenly the stars were in full view above the dance floor. My favorite part about this club is the uniqueness of being a penthouse and its giant retractable roof. I had some admirers in the building most nights, namely two guys called Mike and James. They frequented the club, for the club, yes, but also claimed it was because of me. Mike was consistent in asking me out and when Mike wasn't asking me out, James, his friend was the backup. That night, James found me first and stopped by, greeting me, I nodded at him as he walked over and put his hands on my back, stepping onto the platform as he shouted over the music into my ear, "When are you going to hang out with me?" I give him a look and start laughing.

"I'm serious, Mike has got nothing on me!" he yells over the music.

I rolled my eyes and switched songs, to Kanye West's, "All Falls Down" while swaying my hips to the beat. He brought his hands down to my hips and stood behind me as I move with him. I looked back at him after a minute of letting him feel me, probably leading him on and say, "Hey, listen I need to get back to work." He smiled at me and headed off into the dance crowd, probably to find some drunken girl to grind with.

The place filled with people and then suddenly among the throngs of people, I saw a figure standing apart from the rest of the swaying and moving people. I saw a familiar looking body, a man with messy, golden brownish-bronze colored hair. The long legs, his familiar walk, and his well toned body were there on display in front of me. Just as I remembered. His eyes were down and I was thankful that he hadn't yet seen me. What was he doing here?

My heart felt heavy when I saw that his fingers were intertwined in the hands of a strawberry blonde woman wearing a really short black dress. The lights in the room caused a reflection at that moment in which two things happens concurrently. First, Edward's eyes came up from the dance floor and they met mine causing him to stop, a complete, hard stop and making his date bump into him. Second, the moving lights in the room scanned just a moment to focus on the sparkling of an engagement ring on the finger of the woman.

My heart sank as I felt a sudden feeling of sickness and old wounds, sorrow. I had no reason to be hurt, I knew him at a different point of my life. The girl he was followed his eyes to me, and hit his shoulders. She had a scowl on her face as she led, pulling him with her up the steps to the bar. His eyes stayed on mine until he was dragged away and out of my sight.

All of a sudden I felt dizzy and the room felt like it was too small. I felt lightheaded and my sight started to get spotty. Before I knew it, my eyes were black as I slipped from consciousness. I woke up seconds later on the floor, James to my left and Alice and Jasper to my right.

"Bella! Oh my gosh, what happened? Are you feeling okay?" Alice asked me frantically.

"Yes, Yes...that was so embarrassing, I'm fine," I mumbled as James and Jasper picked me up. The music was luckily still playing.

I was held steady in their arms as I saw Edward come over with the strawberry blonde girl in tow.

"Whhhhat are you doing here, Edward?" I stuttered out.

The girl looked at me and back to him with wide-eyes.

"You know him?" the girl asked me.

Alice, Jasper, and Mike all look puzzled. I stared back like I had been looking at a ghost.

"I uh...I'm here on vacation. Are you okay?" He said with confusion.

"Yes! I'm fine!" I shouted out, suddenly pissed at the concern coming from his eyes.

He didn't care to search me out when I left, why was he concerned now? He glanced down at my stomach and I realized my tank had risen up and was giving him a peek of my inked skin, marked with my sadness and failure. I quickly pulled the tank down, smoothed out my skirt and turned away from his eyes—the ones that I'd always loved. The eyes that made me feel like home.

Tears started forming and it felt like no time had passed between us, but it was obvious. We were strangers again. I heard their conversation a few feet away from me.

"Edward, who is that girl? How do you know her?"I heard the woman say.

"Tanya, I've got to talk to her…I will explain later."

"No, you need to tell me right now. What the hell is going on?"

That was the most I heard as the words sounded far away, as they moved their conversation away from earshot.

Alice played with my hair and added a comforting hand on my shoulder as I stood there in the middle of a crowded club—at work—confused, angry, and sad.

I whispered into her ear, "That's Edward."

She looked back at me and nodded, she knew this was the reason for my fainting and knew about our hard history of love and lies. Jasper found my boss and they brought in the back-up DJ, so I could take the rest of the night off. If he was willing to talk, we'd have lots to catch up on. I turned to see Edward and Tanya still in a heated conversation. She looked at me with fire in her eyes and I could tell I'd ruined her night. Then, I saw her turn around to leave the club.

Edward ran back to me, looking in my eyes.

"Please wait for me in the lobby of the casino?"

I nodded, as he turned to run after Tanya.

What was I going to do? Forget that I'd just seen him? Maybe that would have been the smarter thing to do, but it felt like I would finally get real closure. I said goodbye to Alice and thanked Jasper and James for helping me up, but I had to face Edward alone.

I entered the lobby and started pacing as my mind started processing what was about to happen. As Edward spotted me and walked toward me, I realized that he was alone. I'd assumed the woman would be with him. He reached for my arm and I shrugged away from it, not wanting the feeling of him on me to stir back the emotions that were still there, ready to bubble to the surface.

"You look great, Bella."

His forehead was creased with uncertainty as he said the words, softly and carefully. He seemed to feel the power of my rejection of his hands on my arm as his face has an expression of conflict.

"I don't know what we are hoping to accomplish here, Edward. What are you doing here?"

"Like I said I am here on vacation with my girlfriend, er, fiancée. I had no idea you were living here or where you worked or what the hell happened to you when you left."

"That's not my fucking fault! I called you, you didn't answer, you didn't want me."

I wanted to be angry and the words started that way, but the end of my sentence trailed off into sadness.

"You gave up on us too soon, I just needed time, we'd had fights before, and it was you who pushed me away," He said with a shaky voice and watery eyes. It killed me to see him that way.

Tears started rushing from my eyes as I shook my head, wiping tears with one hand. I couldn't find any words, but had so much to say. He put his arms across my shoulders and they felt familiar. I couldn't shrug them off this time; he was the same protective Edward. I let it all out as I started softly sobbing.

"I lost the baby, I was homeless, I got addicted again, and didn't know anyone, all of the people I hung out with were your friends...they deserted me, they all chose you. I didn't want to give you up," I said amidst blinding tears and choked out words, my eyes searched his for a reaction, then focused back on the pattern on the floor when they looked shocked, scared even.

"Let's go outside, we can talk some more out there," he said while leading me out with his hand on the small of my back.

We started walking and talking about the missing two years, how I struggled once again with my drug addiction, how I ended up throwing my phone out and wiped my slate clean, starting as a new person. I talked of how I dug myself out of the misery by finding Alice and Jasper and working my two jobs. How I'd actually searched out a place to get my addiction back in check.

He talked about trying to find me and how he even reached out to Renée, to search for me, and how he just needed confirmation that I was okay.

"Renée told me that you said you didn't want to be found, but you were okay and she didn't know where you were. It was hard for me to believe," he said with an almost whispered voice.

"It was true. I didn't want to be found, I felt ashamed and just...sad. You deserved to find someone who would be good for you," I said with a sniffle and more clearing of tears with my hands.

Silence swirled around my last sentence. He gazed into my eyes as I talked. It made me feel the love I had felt with him straight to my core. I had set myself up for failure; he was engaged and had found new happiness. Any woman would be a better replacement than me.

He surprised me by touching my arm, causing me to look directly at him, as he said confidently, "I never stopped loving you, Bella. I was forced to move on with my life, just like you moved on with yours, but don't ever fucking think that I stopped loving you. Not after you fell back into the comfort of your drugs. Not after you told me you cheated on me, not after finding out you were having someone else's baby. I was hurt and pained and conflicted and I needed time. You didn't give me enough time, you just gave up...on us…I will always love you."

He grabbed my hands and I could no longer look him in the eyes. He pulled up my chin and forced me to stare into the familiar home-colored eyes.

"I can't believe I fucking found you, Bella. When I finally gave up looking for you, I find you in a huge bustling city," he said looking into my eyes. "So often, I would see a woman from behind with the same hair or body type and my heart continually broke when I would get closer and find out it wasn't you. But here you are, in the flesh, a new woman, who still has pain in her eyes and a new permanent mark on her skin. You are healthy and alive."

After all his words, the only thing I can handle saying is, "You are engaged, you are happy..."

My sentence was interrupted with, "Listen, Bella. You coming back into my life has complicated things...'

I snorted a laugh.

"I cause conflict Edward, I don't want to complicate things anymore. Please don't be stupid, it was nice to clear the air. We both thought the other didn't care enough; we both loved each other through it all. I still feel the same way, but we can move on. Every day, I see my fucking tattoo and think of the mistakes that I made, how things can't ever be the same."

"Tanya knows about you. She knows that you were my first true love, she just didn't know that it was you, until I walked her back to our hotel room. She is packing her bags as we speak, she thinks I'm picking you over her..."

His words came out rushed and frantic.

I interrupted him.

"Edward, that is so, so, stupid! This is no contest, please, you are making a mistake if you let her go," I sobbed because it was the opposite of what I was thinking.

"Ask me if I would choose you over her?" He asked softly.

He paused a moment, and I looked away from him. I couldn't handle hearing the words, even if they were the ones I desperately wanted to hear.

"No. If you were smart you would just pretend we didn't meet here, you could pretend it was a dream, you would choose her because, she is your fiancée and love her and that's what you are supposed to do."

My heart could not take another heart fail. I didn't understand why he was making things so much more complicated than it should have been.

"I would choose you, Bella. Seeing you next to her, made me realize that she is not at all what I want. I don't care that loving you was challenging and hard at times. I should have been married to you... 'in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow'..." he trailed off.

The lines he told me, part of our would-be wedding vows, made me put my hands on my face as I couldn't control the tears that rolled down my cheeks, as I sobbed openly. He pulled my hands away from my eyes, wiping away the tears with his warm hands. He pulled me into an embrace and I felt secure once again, safe in his loving arms.

In a city full of lights and sounds, all was silent between the two of us. We enjoyed the familiar feeling of holding each other's bodies, and heard the sounds of our matching heart beats.

My thick white socks were pulled up high on my calf as I lay horizontally across the bed in my black bra and panties. Edward walked out of the shower with a beaming smile as he hovered over my body. I looked at him, and couldn't believe that he was there with me. He pinned me down with his hands over my wrists and kissed me sweetly on my lips before starting a trail down my stomach, leaving a wet trail and causing my arms to goose bump with excitement. He continued down the length of my body tracing the dove tattoo with his tongue and kissed me especially light there, while I tangled my fingers into his freshly washed hair. He looked up at me with a sexy smirk and then a shy sadness appeared on his face as he re-read the words of my permanent reminder of loss.

"I love you Bella," Edward said, the pain and regret of lost years evident on his face.

"I love you, too Edward."

After that night we had found each other again, he spoke with Tanya. She stayed another whole day as they discussed their relationship, but it ended with the breaking of their engagement. Tanya was furious and hurt, and I knew I'd have an enemy if I returned to Washington.

We didn't do anything sexual, he never cheated on her with me, and we didn't kiss during the time they were together. We started getting to know each other again, two years wiser. Edward had been staying with me in my shitty apartment for two weeks, hiding from his Washington life, like I once did. It was easy to be here together, away from people who knew our past; it was like no time had passed between us.

Edward's friends and family were all pissed, they were all against us getting back together. I couldn't count on anyone back in Washington to support me being with Edward. I held his hand as he had heated conversations on my phone with his family and friends, defending his actions. I knew they didn't think I was right for him. I felt incredibly bad for breaking apart a relationship, for causing a rift between him and his family.

He thought I was worth it and it meant the world to me, even though it didn't make sense to choose me when he had so much more to lose than gain.

Edward was definitely my home. We were lost from each other for two years but it seemed like the old days.

The whole world was against our relationship, but Edward and I, we rediscovered each other, and we weren't going to let it go.

We didn't know how to live without each other now that we had been found again. And who was to say that we wouldn't make it?

A/N: If you made it this far, would love to hear your comments and thoughts.

Soundtrack song: Who's to Say? by Vanessa Carlton

I had plans to continue this story because there are so much people against their relationship, but the response was much less than I anticipated. They have a lot to overcome and lots of makeup sex to experience. ;) I might decide to continue it randomly one of these days, since their story is a bit incomplete.

THANK YOU! Who people who read this story both at the contest page and under my own name and left reviews or thoughts. I'd also like to thank the contest hosts: TwiLucy_Uk and SweetLovinCullen for hosting this contest which inspired my story. I have to say that seeing the picture had the gears working in my brain and I literally couldn't write anything else until it was typed out and onto the computer, I had it completed literrally a good two weeks before they were even accepting entries. I'm also extremely excited to have some recognition even if it wasn't the "popular" way to win. I was very proud of my entry and hope you liked it.

I also want to send a big THANK YOU and big smooch to StAngelS who helped beta this story. She probably didn't know what she agreed to do with this beast of a story, lol, but I'm grateful for her volunteering. Go show her some love by reading some of her stories. I made some corrections after receiving it back so excuse any mistakes.

I haven't really found a way to make a "popular" story, but I'm grateful to some of you loyal readers who have set author alerts and support my other stories. THANK YOU!

I also got a beautiful banner which you can view here: http:/ /bit. ly/fKe2gA I haven't found a way to link it to my profile yet, but I'll do that soon.

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With love from Texas ya'll,