Story Name:The Friend-Girl
Penname: MaBarberElla
Rating: M
Genre: Romance/Angst
Pairing: Bella x Edward
Total Word Count:
Summary: Lonely and alone in the world of love for only the beautiful, Bella waits for love on the sidelines. "All that love you have in there waiting to spill out and catch fire and light up someone's life? It's not for me," he'd drawled as he squeezed her tighter, hanging on for the dear life of their friendship. Japser was right, but who was it for?

A/N: So much love to my ficwife, TheGreenPuma, who helped me make this right while we juggled babies and feedings and bedtimes, all the while encouraging me to finish and adding her super-beta touch. She is fantastic, and has an entry in this contest as well, which is also fantastic, so go read it: Isabella Bites. Love, love, and more love to DazzledIn2008 for taking a chainsaw to this when I got overwhelmed and propping her eyelids open with matchsticks late at night to help me edit it line by line as I was writing. She is a great writer and an even more fabulous person, and her last-minute edits made this what it is. Lastly, thank you to SinShameGuilt, for making me submit this, even though I didn't have time to make it perfect. Go read her entry as well: Projection. It's sure to be magnifique! Thank you for reading and please review if you so desire!


You never know where love will strike, the adage goes. People meander through their lives searching out love for all the wrong reasons: security, status, codependence; and they find it. Or they think they do. They find someone, something, to hold on to, and they clutch it like a life preserver or squeeze the benefit out of it until there's nothing left but a shell. They take it for granted and covet it, hoard it, suffocate it. When you are without love, watching it being taken for granted is an isolating, depressing thing.

Bella spent most of her life before college on the edge of everything, secretly pining for love, but never letting on. She'd even gone so far once upon a time as to believe she might've found it with Jasper, her oldest friend, confidant, and biggest fan. Jasper had held her up when she'd found herself with a crumbling foundation, lifting her up. He was a constant in her life of variables; a north to her compass.

Bella assured herself that with all these things, she could imagine that passion lived between them, too. She'd even gone so far as to stand too close and look to vulnerable and let her breath catch as she stared at his lips that night of the last party of the summer. She'd laid a hand on his shoulder and leaned just a little, ready to risk it all.

But she suddenly found herself with both his solid arms around her, drawing her close, smashing her dreams of passionate love with a crushing, desperate, but friendly, hug.

"It's not for me, honey. You know that," he'd whispered in her ear. "All that love you have in there waiting to spill out and catch fire and light up someone's life? It's not for me," he'd drawled as he squeezed her tighter, hanging on for the dear life of their friendship.

"Even if I let you, it wouldn't be fair. It's not meant for me, and you'd go and waste it. And some poor sap who'll be blindsided someday will never get his chance to discover the amazing that is wrapped up in this soft, sweet skin of yours," he chuckled against the skin of her neck, pressing chaste lips there ever-so-carefully.

He pulled back, keeping his arms cradled around her and looked right through her, studying her so carefully. "I'd be stealin' some other man's future treasure, Bella. You know I'm right," he sweetly chastised as he raised his eyebrows, looking for confirmation. "I'd be the luckiest undeservin' fool on the planet, and it wouldn't be fair to you. "

He pressed a hand from the crown of her head down to the nape of her neck, cradling her behind her ear. "You have to wait for the fire to light up inside you. That's who deserves you, honey," he crooned, placing a soft kiss on her forehead.

She dealt with the hurt, but she didn't really feel rejected. She let her hot cheeks betray her secret embarrassment, and Jasper reacted as himself: full of jovial dismissal. "You can't even start to feel slighted, darlin', I'd hoard you myself if I could. But it wouldn't be fair to you, to me, or to Mr. Right when he finally gets off his lazy ass and makes his appearance." His words sweetened the air around them, as he turned and draped an arm around her shoulders and guided them toward the awaiting party.

"Who knows? Maybe he'll be shakin' his thing at this lame-ass party tonight," he chuckled, then turned back to her for one, last serious thought. "You have so much love ready to spill out of you, I don't even know how you've kept it in all this time. But don't worry; I know what I know, even if I haven't experienced it personally. When you meet him, you'll feel it in there, all that love and givin'. And you'll want to burst with it. I just pray the guy's ready; he won't know what hit him when it happens. Like a freight train, my Bella, like a fuckin' freight train."


As it were, Mr. Right was not shaking his ass at that lame-ass party. Little surprised her-this included-and she chalked it up to hormonal teenage neediness. She was desperate, not only for love; she craved touch, and it wasn't like she had much opportunity to fill that need. Jasper, of course, touched her all the time, but the friendly type wasn't that for which she longed.

She thought for years growing up that she might've been wired wrong; she thought about sex a lot – all the time, in fact. She dreamed about it, day dreamed about it, wrote about it, read about it, and dreamed some more about it. She pieced together erotic fantasies based on the events and people around her, even if they mostly looked upon her with disinterest.

It wasn't as if people disliked her – she had a pleasing personality – but people always held a little bit of disdain for her appearance. They judged her because she was a big girl; that didn't make them bad people. She actually had quite a few friends, as she was an outgoing girl; she just knew that she wasn't on the same level they were – she couldn't get the things they had, no matter how much she wanted them. So, she doted on her fantasies at night when she was alone under crisp sheets, imagining the attractive boy in her French class wanting to be with her and touch her the way she touched herself.

It wasn't like she'd never been kissed. She'd fumbled through that awkwardness with Mike, her first – and only – experience. He surely couldn't be called a boyfriend, as they had never actually gone out or done anything except make out. He'd taken an interest in her the summer before her senior year at work, and asked her out that night. They'd never actually made it to dinner, as he'd pulled over in a nearby park to lay one on her. She was so flattered that he'd wanted to kiss her she thought her heart might take flight right out of her chest. It hadn't been all fireworks and 1812 Overtures, but it had been a kiss. That had turned into a number of kisses. Looking back, she wasn't sure if you could even call them kisses, but rather his tongue taking up residence in her mouth for an hour.

He had kissed her and kissed her and rubbed her knee and hurdled the clutch and found himself a place stretched along on top of her. Shocked but happy he found her so attractive he couldn't keep himself in his own seat, she relaxed into the kiss, which turned into some rubbing and an attempt to grope her through her t-shirt. He didn't get much satisfaction out of the attempt, as she was wearing a thick sports bra. She shyly thwarted his attempts to unbutton her jeans and sneak under her shirt with well-placed arms and elbows, while keeping an innocent guise toward him. He finally gave up, but did find a way to rub, rub, rub with his pelvis until he panted and shuddered and groaned.

The kissing stopped abruptly, and she suddenly found herself alone in her seat again and on the way back to her house. He dropped her off directly, without much effort, and casually indicated they should go out again sometime before speeding off toward town.

She stood outside her house a long, long while contemplating. She'd gone from nervous to elated to flattered to aroused to confused to lonely in the span of an hour. And then she realized that that was exactly why he'd picked her: because he didn't have to waste time going on an actual date to get anywhere. He just had to spend the gas to make it to the park and back to get off.

She forcibly dragged her crushed feelings and her wounded inner romantic up the front steps and in through the door, ignoring the clash of the titans taking place in the living room. She was smart enough to know that not all marriages ended up like her parents'. But she was still a teenage girl, and she hadn't the inner strength enough to know that not all dates ended with some horny teenage asshole squacking in his pants before he even had time to revere her as an actual person and not just something to hump like a dog.


Recounting Bella's first – and only – date to Jasper had been somewhat of a nightmare. He had prodded her and prodded her to spill whatever was eating her from the inside out for days until she finally cracked. His rage had reached its breaking point when she admitted, "it's not like I should've expected more, Jazz, I mean, why would he want to take me out? Look at me!"

Jasper had paced and cursed and muttered and swore and threw his hands about until he heard the sniffle. His head snapped up and he swore again, but it was aimed at his own insensitivity this time. He took a deep, ragged breath, closed his eyes, let it out slowly, counted to ten, turned toward her, and opened his eyes to see Bella , head down, shoulders slumped, trying to melt into the furniture and disappear.

He reached out, grabbed her hand, and dragged her out of the armchair to stand with him in front of the full-length mirror on the back of his mother's bedroom door. "You are so, so much more than you think, Sweetness," he said as he stepped behind her to wrap his arms around those slumped shoulders, tipping her chin up with one hand so they could both stare at her red-rimmed eyes in the mirror: he with adoration, she with trepidation.

"You are so much more than these gorgeous brown tiger eyes that ooze intelligence and empathy and curiousness and lust for life," he drawled quietly. "So much more than these glorious pouty lips that can whisper the sweetest, softest testimonies of friendship and turn right around and defend with furious mamma-bear truth," he murmured as he slowly rubbed his hands up and down her forearms reassuringly.

He hoped the motion helped keep her from falling back into slump-girl world, where every insecure teen-aged girl crawls away to when all they see is ugly reflected in the mirror and beauty surrounding them that they can't live up to. He spoke again just as her chin started to sag and her eyes stared to travel back to her scuff-toed shoes.

"So much more than that luscious voice of yours that floats like angels and drips like honey when you're uninhibited enough to actually let loose and sing," he whispered, as if telling her a great truth.

"So much more than these beautiful, swinging hips," he said, dropping his hands to rest on either side of her hips, ignoring the roll of her eyes, "that I have seen sway seductively when the dancing you do in that head of yours sometimes leaks out to your body when you think you're alone."

She flushed and tried to squirm away, coughing and scoffing and embarrassed as hell that he might've seen her accidentally dance. He righted her, though, forcing her gaze back to his in the mirror with his serious tone.

"So much more than those amazing tits that I will keep my hands off of, lest someone actually discover how huge – and wonderful – they are!" he said as he wrapped his arms around her waist and hugged her fiercely.

"What more could you possibly be? Do you know? Do you?" he prodded until she finally shook her head.

" Beautiful . Your sense of fucking humor, your empathy, your soul, Bella Swan, is so fucking beautiful. And someday, you're going to let this gorgeous façade of yours slip and somebody's going to see it. God help 'em when they do, they'll be done for." He turned her around, and met her slightly mended gaze, smiling a little in his relief.

"Now, where does Mike the asshole live again? I gotta take a dump, and I'm thinkin front seat of his car is good a place as any."


Jasper had resurrected her defeated, battered insides, and although she didn't believe a word he said, she let the sweet things he'd said to her that afternoon in his mamma's bedroom soothe her like balm to skin rubbed the wrong way for far too long. She made it through the summer working long hours for minimum wage, avoiding the "Steaming Pile" – the name they secretly called Mike after Jasper had taken his revenge –and his preppy, popular crowd. She cherished the time she spent with Jasper, as it would probably be the last time they'd live in each other's space, as they had done for the last eleven years.

He had been a southerner until midway through his ninth year of life, when he was "forcibly drug," as his mamma recounted, from the state of Texas to the Pacific Northwest. She had been in terrible need of a friend for years when he appeared in her life, hovering above her as she wallowed in the mud puddle she'd been shoved into, grappling to get her feet under her to stand up. He'd offered her a hand up, which she took, looking around as she stood for her assailant.

"He's over yonder, and he won't be fixin to get up right soon, I'd guess," he said as he jutted his chin beyond my shoulder, where Eric lay with nose in his hand and blood gushing out. "He really ought to watch his manners around ladies, I'd say," he spelled out matter-of-factly, making Bella stop short her futile attempt to slough off some of the mud that covered her.

She tilted her head and stared at him like a confused cocker spaniel. "Huh?"

"He needs to learn how to talk to ladies, is all I'm saying. If he wanted to tell you he likes you, he should've been a mite more polite and not shoved you down like that." He spoke as if she already knew this as truth.

She asked herself if maybe he was more of a nutbag than Eric was an asshole. Then she decided she liked nutbag better. She still didn't see, however, how Eric walking behind her for the last mile home from school chanting "Boom, ba-ba, boom, ba-ba, boom!"and acting like her walking was causing an earthquake every time she took a step was grounds for this nutbag to think that he liked her.

Then she decided she didn't care. That was the day that Jasper decided Bella would be his friend. She couldn't find it in her to disagree.


When Bella finally climbed on the bus that would take her off to college, she couldn't help but feel that every mile she rolled away from that nutbag with his crazy grin and his stupid, "Bon Voyage, Rockstar!" sign he kept waiving over his head before the bus even pulled away was the worst mistake of her life. She knew she was going to the right school for the right reason, even if it was halfway across the US. She also knew that she was leaving her foundation and half of herself at that bus station, holding a retarded sign and wearing cowboy boots in the middle of one hundred-degree-plus heat.

Jasper would survive and thrive in his environment, no matter where he ended up, she knew, and she wasn't worried about him. And the fact that she'd only left the station twenty minutes prior and he'd already texted her eighteen times proved his previous pledge that he'd write and call and text so much that she'd feel like he was right there next to her. But he was going to the University of California Santa Cruz, where hippies and surfers cruised through college and made up their own majors. He was going to major in history and ballroom dance. Somehow she doubted the marketability of that degree down the line.

She was going to the middle of nowhere, Ohio, to study French and music, which made her mockery of Jasper's choice in majors stand up a little less. Her voice had earned her the scholarship, and her way was paid, but the trade-off was that it was a small school in the middle of nowhere, and far from Jasper. She was terrified, but excited for this new start. She surely wouldn't be the largest girl at this school, and her balance had gotten better over the years; she was still a klutz, but no longer the Evil Kenivil of the hallways of the Forks' public schools, as she had once been. She would keep to herself and blend in; it would be easier not being the daughter of the town's police chief, with no one to pick her up from class in a cruiser with flashing lights.

She arrived the Sunday afternoon before Freshman Week, just in time to pick up her boxes from the storage closet behind the front desk of the dorm, where they'd been delivered the week before. She found her room and pushed open the door to find the tiniest, mustiest, most confined space ever assigned to two inhabitants. A bunk bed, one chair, two desks shoved together and into the end of the bed, one closet with two doors, and one chest of drawers. She really hoped her roommate was bearable. She knew from experience that it's difficult to avoid people you live with; she couldn't imagine doing it in this cubby hole of a room.

Her roommate arrived in a whirl of crazy, her personality storming into the room before her. She threw an armful of belongings onto the bottom bunk and turned to address Bella, whose mouth hung so low she feared she might not recover it to speak.

"So, I'm Rose. You can call me that, or Rosalie, or my sisters call me Rose. Whatever. You're Bella! Awesome. Let's get this craphole divvied up and sorted out, we've got a party to go to in – " she paused to peer around Bella and check the time on her alarm clock on the desk, "three hours. We've got to get shit put away and get my parents the fuck out of here before then. You in?"

Bella stammered and nodded and blushed and fumbled as she conceded the helm to the Amazon before her. She'd never quite been awestruck before, but taking in the beauty, confidence, and determination that was Rose was a project that required all of her brain function, leaving little for her mouth to form words. Rose stood at least a half of a foot taller than her, had long, shiny blond hair, the face of Aphrodite, sharp, blue eyes, and what she'd always defined in her head, but never seen in person, as stage presence.

She looked around, seemingly taking in the room and her surroundings, then, finally, Bella, for the first time. "Well!" she dusted of her hands. "Looks like the essentials are locked and loaded. We both showed up a little short-handed clothes and shoes-wise, didn't we? And you're heavy on the music and I'm heavy on the…" she looked around, scanning Bella's CD's piled up on her desk, and then her own, bare desk. She strode forward, opened her bottom desk drawer, pulled out pile of pictures, magazine pages, and junk, plopped it on her desk, then carefully pulled out a folded up poster. She walked across the room, unfolded the poster, and tacked it on the wall across from the door. She fussed with something on the front of the poster, then turned to face Bella.

"I'm heavy on the prophylactics!" she announced with an enormously proud grin. She stepped sideways to reveal – with great arm flourish – a poster that read, "Don't be a DICK, Cap your WICK!" It had obviously been a free giveaway from a condom manufacturer, as there were condoms stuck all over it with adhesive.

"Wow." That was all Bella could think to say.

She wanted to say, "So THIS is what my freshman year is going to be like."

Instead she couldn't help but fixate on the poster until Rose literally shook her from her trance. "So, this party. Tonight. What are you going to wear? Anything of mine is yours, by the way. My stuff will all fit you. I think I'm wearing this crochet vest and my boot-cut jeans. You?"

She internally scoffed at Roaslie indicating that her clothes might fit her, shaking her head. The girl was delusional. She pulled out her standard uniform of whichever extra-large t-shirt was closest and jeans. The t-shirt she'd selected happened to have Roger Rabbit on the front – a relic from her first real shopping trip to the Salvation Army in Forks without her mother when she was thirteen. Well-worn and shapeless, it hid all the right topography without her having to monitor it for shifting and bunching while she moved or sat. Definitely her favorite.

She held up her selection to Rose, not really knowing if she was asking for approval or just informing her roommate of her preferences. Rose, meanwhile, had already stripped of most of her clothing and was arranging her shower supplies in a caddy when she spotted what Bella was holding.

"That looks uber-comfortable. Roger Rabbit, huh? I think I saw that movie on some late-night nineties movie marathons. Weird flick. But then again, I was probably stoned, so it might've just been me. Anyway, I'm off to shower," she said as she shucked her undergarments to the floor, kicked them aside, and strode through the room completely bare until she spotted her towel peeking out from the bottom drawer of the dresser. She plucked it from its hidey-hole, wrapped it around her perfect ten, grabbed her caddy and with a, "see you in a few," strode out the door.

Bella had never seen anyone with a more perfect body, and stood frozen in place, contemplating how she would live with someone so beautiful for a year and keep her flabby ass hidden. She was sure the girl had size D tits, and they defied gravity. She had broad, sculpted shoulders, defined biceps, and a beautiful chest accented with muscle and strong collarbones. She had a small waist and round hips and long, strong legs.

She had been randomly assigned an Amazon as her roommate. An Amazon. In the flesh.

She wondered what her roommate would think when – if – she caught a glimpse of Bella bare. Definitely not Amazon. Umpaloompa, maybe...

She grabbed her shower supplies and thought at least she could wash her hair before the party so that she wouldn't be openly offensive standing next to her own, personal Glamazon. This was definitely going to be a long semester.


Bella's first college party had been a gathering of the entirety of the swim team, all of whom Rose seemed to already know. Seems she had been on campus training with the team during the summer, so she took it upon herself to make the rounds of the whole house introducing Bella like her own personal show pony.

Uncomfortable standing next to Rose in her hip-hugging boot-leg jeans and crochet vest that covered part of her shoulders, a portion of her tits, and just barely some of her ribs, Bella wanted to melt into the scenery. She was not unfamiliar with the term wallflower, for sure, but this was her first time really on her own in an unfamiliar town, and she would've given anything to superimpose herself onto one of the wallpaper's flowers.

Rose, however, had other ideas. "Ever played quarters?" she prodded, hoping Bella would sit down next to her as she joined a bunch of the guys on the team for a rousing game.

"No…I don't really, uh…not a big drinker."

"What? Really! I didn't know that existed in college," she said with a smile that attempted to reassure Bella it was okay, but rather, made her feel singled out.

Bella hovered on the edge of the room, not knowing where to fit in, while Rose really got into the game. She was keeping up tit for tat with the guys, who loved her brash comments and larger-than life tits. After a couple of attempts at talking with the other party-goers – who were nice enough, but already had cultivated friendships and conversations or were actively scoping out possible hook-ups for the night – she made her way towards the door and the walk home.

Weaving through the throng, she opened the door to slip outside, but found the exit blocked by a male body. Without looking up, she danced the awkward "trying to get by" shuffle with the boy, whose feet seemed to be schooled in the same steps as hers. Her usual stance of slumped shoulders and downcast eyes worked to her advantage, for once, and afforded her quite the view; expensive-looking pre-worn-in jeans slung low on slim hips which widened up to a strong, broad chest.

"Drool-worthy," she thought.

Quick hands came out to clutch her arms to steady her in one place, effectively halting her bumbling attempt to get by. She huffed at her idiocy, admitted defeat, and acknowledged her need to now apologize. Stepping back, she prepared to mumble her strangled, "I'm sorry," and looked up into a face that changed everything.

Piercing green eyes searched hers in question and mischievous glee. Realizing she had stopped her weaving attempt to stumble into him, he dropped his hands and spread his smooth, delicious-looking lips into a genuine grin.

"Hey! Sorry. Just didn't want to continue dancing with you without at least getting your name first."

His words were teasing and dripping with a foreign accent that sent an exhilarating charge through her body. Bella stared on, completely unable to form words. He was gorgeous: smiling eyes, high cheekbones, jaw line strong enough to induce weak knees. He held himself like an aristocrat, or a dignitary. He had an air of confidence – almost a swagger, but without the ego. He wore his casual tight heather-grey t-shirt and dark wash jeans as if they were truly a tuxedo. His crazy, coppery hair only added to his raw appeal, acting as the modern accent to his otherwise traditional features. And there was something else, something that Bella couldn't put her finger on that drew her to him immediately.

"Not on the swim team?" he said, starting conversation in the doorway like it was no big deal. Bella thought it was a very big deal, continuing to mutely ogle the conversationalist, pondering the irony that such a simple sentence could sound so fantastic when said with an accent. And passing through those lips. Those. Lips!

"Edward, fuckin A! Out or in. The beer's not gonna bring itself out here to me. You're between me and the keg," a booming voice rattled out from behind the grinning vision in front of her.

The Grinning Vision – or Edward, as she derived – rolled his eyes and chuckled, stepping toward the wall, still propping the door open, and gently pushed Bella toward the wall as well, explaining, "You'll not want to be between Em and the keg, either. Trust me."

A tall, broad-shouldered, angel-faced boy whose biceps stretched his already-tight t-shirt stepped around Edward and made his way through the door, stopping to pardon himself to Bella. "I've got my priorities. Nice to meet you," he said, stepping forward and pulling her, without warning, into a bear hug. Pulling back, he smiled at her stunned expression. "Sorry, I'm a hugger. And a drinker!" he said, with a shrug that asked no forgiveness and a smile that exuded pure sincerity, as he walked into the crowded living room.

"Yeah, that's Emmett. He's a good time. Great guy, but very beer- and food-centric," Edward explained. "And he's a hugger," he said with a chuckle and a shake of his head.

"That's okay – I am too," Bella uttered, her voice and ability to form words surprising her.

"Aaaand she speaks! Now, let's do this properly," he straightened up and held out his hand. "I'm Edward. Senior, not on the swim team, best friend of Emmett, who is on the swim team, and crasher of all parties swim-team-related."

Staring at his hand in shock, she finally found her motor skills and placed hers in it, sighing quietly at the zing she felt everywhere upon contact. Less of a zing, really, and more of a desire to rub it all over her body. "Bella," she muttered through her blush. "Freshman, not on the swim team, roommate of Rosalie, who is on the swim team, and first attempt at swim-team-related party-crashing."

His smile widened and crept up to her eyes as he held her hand for three beats too long. Finally, he let go and stepped back. "You on your way out?"

"Uh, yeah. I was thinking about going back to my dorm," she said as her gaze fell back down to her shoes.

"Thinking about? Meaning you might be persuaded to stay? It might be nice to have a non-swim-team-oriented conversation. Since the hangover I'm still nursing from last night would make quarters a bit nauseating, that would leave me to try to convince a bunch of swim-teamers to converse about something besides the pool, which is a daunting, daunting task."

His eyes looked hopeful, surprising Bella. She couldn't fathom a senior wasting his time talking to some nobody freshman – especially a senior who looked like that. With a sigh, she thought, "And a freshman who looks like me."

"Well, okay, I'll stay," she said as she let him lead her back to the living room to an abandoned corner with a chair for her and the arm of a sofa for him. She felt on the spot at first, sitting below him, but as the conversation wore on, and the night slipped by, they took up residence sitting on the floor, picking pretzels out of a bowl and sipping sodas Edward had hijacked from the fridge. Their conversation flowed easily, yet with an energetic undercurrent that made her feel like she'd been up all night drinking coffee.

She found him insanely interesting – from the stories of his youth growing up in Geneva, Switzerland where his father worked for the American consulate, to the culture shock of moving to Ohio in high school. He'd described his confusion as to why sports were revered as the utmost important aspect of teenaged life, and anyone interested in art or music was automatically written off as a pansy.

"I mean, I like women. A lot. I always have," he said with a confident , sexy grin. "I'm not really sure why everyone just assumed that because I don't want to run around a football field in spandex slapping other guys' asses, that I'm gay!"

He made her laugh so hard she felt giddy. Even though her laugh was on the verge of hysterical, Edward found it to be infectious and let loose with a belly laugh of his own. He reached out to hold onto her forearm lest he let his laughter throw him off balance. Bella thrilled at the feeling and realized how horribly she'd missed it since their meeting at the front door.

She learned of his love of American music at a young age and giggled when he admitted his fanboy reverie of the Beastie Boys. His taste in music seemed so random when compared to his love of all things art. He had been drawing and painting and sculpting since he could hold a pencil or a brush or a chisel, and he was obsessed with beauty, finding it in seemingly ordinary places.

"I once spent three hours sitting in a café at home sketching this old, wrinkly woman and her dog. I was fascinated by the bond between them – it was so palpable that I was desperate to capture it on paper. I loved doing that almost more than I loved sketching nudes in my art classes. But then again, they were nude…" he chucked.

His blatant sexual overtones were somehow not offensive; he said it in such a way that made her feel like a conspirator with him, as if she shared his feelings. He said it so casually, like he assumed everyone felt that way – which, to be honest, was most likely true.

She could listen to him talk all night, his low, strong voice saturated in that accent, which she learned was French. He'd made it clear several times that Geneva was in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, not the German. When he turned that accent against her, she found herself easily divulging so much about her life she never had planned to share with anyone outside of Jasper. He made her feel fascinating, something she'd never felt before, and she couldn't stop herself of revealing any detail he asked of her. She volunteered hopes and ideas about the future, her desire to study abroad, and even the dreams she'd had about someday losing her shyness and sharing her voice on stage.

They talked about anything and everything. She had never found herself agreeing with anyone as much as she had with him. She secretly hoped he didn't think she was just agreeable because he was beautiful and charming and exhilarating to be near; she truly felt like she'd found someone who shared her ideas about life and the responsibility everyone had to really live it.

She had seen her parents sacrifice so much to stay together for "the benefit of the child," when all they really did was just exist day to day and subconsciously resent her for letting their lives slip by. She made it clear that she planned to live it all, even if it meant scrimping and scraping and pushing herself to audition and use her voice to get herself a scholarship when she had such stage fright. She knew so many things were out there waiting for her to discover, and he agreed with her that she should focus on living all those things as soon as the opportunities presented themselves.

"So," he declared with an air of authority, "what will be your first adventure? Start a revolution on campus?" He smiled at her, goading for her to admit her plan; he could sense she already had one in mind.

"Well, this year, I'm taking 18 hours each semester so that next year I can study abroad and still double major. Of course, that all hinges on finding a scholarship or a grant. Study abroad is so expensive, especially in France, but being a French major, it's where I want to go."

"France!" he exclaimed, his face overcome with delight. "Magnifique! Tu parles francais? Je ne le savais pas! Pourquoi tu ne m'as pas dit avant quand je t'ai dit que je me suis grandi en Suisse?"

The words tumbled out of his beautiful mouth so smoothly the sounds reminded her of music. She had never actually heard a native French speaker speak before, except on the CD's they'd had to listen to in French class. They had spoken so slowly and with such distinction, though, that the sound didn't even remotely resemble those Edward had just made. That and she had never been visibly aroused listening to those CD's as she suddenly was. She silently praised herself for having worn a thick sports bra under her t-shirt that hid things like hard nipples.

As mystified as hearing him made her, she stared at him in shock. She knew he'd been speaking French, that was clear, but she'd had absolutely no idea what he'd just said. Except the word Suisse – she was fairly certain she'd heard that. Unfortunately for a French major, that was not the desired outcome. She panicked a little inside, afraid to look like an idiot in front of him, being a French major and clueless about his attempt at sharing his language with her. So she employed the universal method of escaping a situation where you don't understand the language: she shrugged.

He laughed and slung his arm around her and drew her near in a sideways hug. "Aw, Bella, you are so funny! I'm so glad I stayed tonight and met you. We're going to be great friends, you and I."

And there it was: the kiss of death.

A defeated sigh escaped her as her shoulders – which had opened up along with her heart and her mind as they had talked so animatedly all night – slumped back in on themselves where they were comfortable knowing her classification. She had known from the moment she'd laid eyes on him: this was going to be a long, long year of her pining and him oblivious, just as her life had always been.

Always the friend-girl, never the girl-friend.


Edward spoke to Bella each time he saw her, his eyes brightening when he'd spot her. He would politely leave whoever he was with to jog over and wrap his arm around her shoulder, asking how things were going, sympathizing with the rough times brought on by a freshman year, and always promising to find her later before dashing off to meet one of his many admirers. He had more girlfriends than she could count, and they were all the tall, aloof, too-cool-for-school types. She'd never understood girls like that.

Bella prided herself in her ability to get along with most anyone, and she found it easy to make friends if they were willing to overcome her looks, but she could never seem to get past the frozen exterior of girls like that. She wondered what Edward saw in them, but they were beautiful and many of them artists, and she knew men liked mysterious women. She could never be mysterious; Jasper always told her she wore her heart in plain view, which she knew made it an easy target.

She didn't know where those girls were, though, on the nights that she would visit his dorm, knowing he was working the front desk. She would sit with him as they would talk and talk and sometimes forget the world around them. She never felt tense while they were talking, but she always felt a little stalkerish showing up when she knew he had to work, and then leaving to walk back to her dorm in the wee hours. He never seemed to mind, though, and always gave her a quick, reserved hug when she left.

Several times she had been crossing campus after a long night at the library or trudging uphill to the on-campus coffee shop to study when she'd stumble across Edward out partying. Once he had run all the way across the quad, drunk and shouting her name, to catch up with her, only to dump upon her several minutes of excited, slurred French that she couldn't make out. He always seemed to be ecstatic to talk with her when he was drunk, and it was always in French, and thus, almost always a one-sided conversation. He always seemed a different person when he was chatting her up in French: less reserved, friendlier, and so lively.

She missed Jasper terribly but they called each other between classes and on weekends and he texted her inappropriate things at least twenty times a day. Bella made other friends throughout the year, and even found ones who weren't bothered by her lack of desire to drink. She found college exhilarating – meeting so many people with such diverse backgrounds, some of which she found an immediate connection with, regardless of their differences in upbringing or philosophy.

Bella had always considered herself an agnostic, but found herself befriending a religion major named Carlisle. She had always thought orchestral musicians arrogant among all other musicians, but Peter had instantly dazzled her with his quick wit and sarcasm, although his disarming good looks and amazing ability as a cellist added to his magnetism. Jessica and Angela, although completely opposite ends of the personality spectrum being a sports science major and a philosophy major, rounded out their group.

Although an unlikely set, they were close-knit and spent a lot of time together. Tonight was cards night, and only four friends showed, as Jessica had to work, so they decided that hearts was the game of the night. Standing outside Bella's door, one would've thought she was hosting a keggar with the amount of noise they were making, but even though Peter and Angela were sipping on the beers that Carlisle – a senior, and of age – had smuggled them, it was the energy of the game that had them laughing and shouting at one another.

That was why, at first, no one heard the knock on the door.

The knocking turned to banging, finally rousing Bella from the particularly rowdy game of hearts.

"Jesus, Rose! Settle down!" Bella said as she stood up and stumbled over some wayward shoes as she made her way toward the door, "You don't have to bang down the door. If you'd just quit forgetting your –"

Flinging the door open, she was stopped short by the site in front of her: bright eyes, red, swollen lips, crazier than normal hair, and a wide, drunken smile. Edward stood before her, dressed in an exquisitely-tailored black-button-up shirt, cuffs rolled half-way up his forearms, top four buttons undone and one buttoned in the wrong hole. He swayed as he stepped forward and took her shoulders in his hands, pulling her just slightly toward him. She sucked in breath and felt a dizzy wave of understanding hit her as she realized he was going to kiss her.

He was going. To. Kiss. Her.

She exhaled just slightly, trembling head to toe, as she held her breath and slowly closed her lids and leaned in. Her heart was pounding in her ears and her veins were thrumming with anticipation. She waited for his lips to touch her. She had waited so long, but she patiently waited just a few seconds more.

And waited.

And then it didn't happen. It had been too long, and she was going to open her eyes and be incredibly embarrassed and have to say something to cover for it. She shook with humiliation as she opened her eyes, ready to face the confused look he was sure to be sporting, when he grasped her tightly in a hug. So tightly, in fact, that she felt his hard chest against her cheek, his strong arms around her back, his tight abdomen against her chest, and most surprisingly, she felt his rock-hard erection against her stomach.

"Trop jeune, trop jeune," he whispered to himself so quietly and so quickly that she didn't catch what he'd said.

"Heeeeey, Bella!" he said, much too loudly, as he pushed her back from the hug to look at her. She was beet red from her misunderstanding and her knowledge of Edward's…condition.

"Edward, what are you…?" she started.

"I was…uh…in your dorm, up at Kate's, and I…uh…found myself in a…situation. I remembered that you'd told me about Rose's poster…and so…" he trailed off, his eyebrows rising in question.

She stared and stared at him in shock and understanding as her heart broke. She was afraid it was audible it cracked so hard, right down the middle.

"You – you came for…" she started, physically incapable of completing her sentence. She knew he dated other girls. She had seen them out on campus; he had left a couple of them standing to slur French in her direction from time to time. Yet here he was; the truth of the situation– the truth she'd always known – so obvious now. So blatantly obvious.

He'd come to her to obtain a condom so he could fuck another girl.

She stepped aside, allowing him entrance, operating mechanically. She motioned to the poster, which he read, laughed, and tore slightly as he ripped off a condom.

"Thanks, Bella, you're the best!" he sighed sweetly, as he kissed her cheek, paused to look at her solemnly for just a moment, then broke into a smile and made his way out the door, taking off in the direction of the stairs.

She pushed the door closed, felt her legs give out beneath her, and felt her ass hit the floor. Her hands sought out her eyes just as the tears hit, and her shoulders shook with sobs. She didn't know how long she sat there before she felt Carlisle's strong arms around her and heard Angela's sweet voice soothing the wound in her heart.

"Oh honey, I'm so sorry. I can't even believe that just happened. Has he no sense? I mean, even if he had no clue how you felt, it's still in poor taste…"

Peter's hushed mutterings leaked through her tears, but she only heard bits and pieces as threw the door open and glared after Edward down the hallway: "Fucker…idiot…right in front of him…have a mind to kick his ass."

After a few moments, Bella pulled her heart up by its bootstraps, as she had always done and wiped her tears away. This was no different from any other crush she'd had on any other boy, and she unenthusiastically chastised herself from letting his blatant ignorance to her feelings get to her. She knew better, and what's more, she knew his type and her place in his mind, and she had forgotten herself. She had forgotten herself and gone and gotten her heart unintentionally trampled on.

She forced the pain away and let the embarrassment sneak in, realizing finally she was sitting on her dorm room floor, crying her eyes out over some boy who could care less, and making an ass of herself in front of her friends in the process. Opening her eyes to look upon her sweet friends, she assured them she was fine and ungraciously rose from the floor. Apologizing to everyone, she tried to resume the game, but Angela quietly excused everyone for the night and then guided Bella into her bed.

"You get some sleep, honey, and we'll talk in the morning. I know you're hurting, and you'll talk to me when you're ready, but in the meantime, I'll just say that for a diplomat's son, that boy has absolutely no manners. Or taste," she said, leaning over to kiss Bella's forehead. "Especially in girls," she muttered to herself as she turned of the light on her way out the door.


She spent a lot of time with Rose, who had heard the whole story outside the darkened door that night from Angela as she was leaving, and her other friends over the next few weeks, mending her broken heart. Rose was a paradox: she was so willing to throw herself at a man one minute, and the next she was unintentionally showing Bella how a confident, strong, crazy 19-year-old should behave. She dragged Bella out to the local diner for coffee and meager breakfast early Sunday mornings, to go traying down the hill behind the science building when the first snow fell, to go rollerblading in the middle of the night to wake themselves up to get through a night of studying for midterms. She kept Bella's spirits up, and as a result, spent less time partying all night with guys, which ironically, put her in a better mood.

Even though her feelings had been stomped upon, Bella continued to cherish the snippets of time she and Edward shared. She secretly thrilled when she ran into a tipsy Edward on the weekend, and his contagious smile at her appearance soothed the fissure in her heart, mending it just slightly each time. He'd surprised her at a concert on campus, having sought her out in the throng of sweaty co-eds in the basement of the student center, grabbing her hands and twirling her around to the beat of the music as she giggled. She tried to keep her heart from soaring when he paid her such attention, lest it be smashed again under his boot, but it was futile.

A week later she was dragging her sleep-deprived ass across campus to Night Psyche, a weekly torture which all students taking a psych class were required to attend four times a semester. She'd put it off until the last four weeks of the semester, and was forced now to attend the last four sessions.

After sucking down a gallon of coffee at dinner to keep her awake during the sure-to-be painfully boring lecture, she entered the hall at the last minute to find no available seats free. She cursed her luck that everyone else had pushed their required nights to the last four of the semester as well. She found a place on the raised platform at the back of the lecture hall where AV equipment would usually reside, but was now overrun with students sitting on the ledge and another row of other students lined up sitting on the floor in front of them. Just as the lecturer started to speak, she looked down to pull out her notebook in a miserable attempt to take notes in her lap, and realized that she was looking into the upside down face of Edward.

"Hi," he whispered, looking up at her.

"Hi," she countered, gazing down at his handsome upside-down face. He smirked conspiratorially at her, confirming her suspicions that he'd put the requirement for his class of until the last minute as well.

Facing forward again, he leaned back just slightly so that his shirt skimmed the flowing material of her thin, boot-cut yoga pants, causing it to brush against her shins. She tried to ignore the way the sensation caused her nipples to perk and focus on the lecture. A few minutes later, Edward leaned back so he was rested against her legs, with her shoes digging into his back. He wriggled and she spread her legs to allow him to lean against the wall. He grabbed her ankles and held them to his shoulders, wiggling them playfully. She told herself he was just making himself comfortable and tried to ignore the warm tingling that radiated out from her body where he touched her.

She tried her damnedest to focus on the key points the lecturer was making that were sure to be on the test when he slowly slid his fingertips up from her ankles, under her pant leg, until he touched skin. She gasped quietly but shivered visibly, and clutched her notebook to her chest to hinder anyone from noticing the on setting of her headlights.

He left his fingers just above her ankles, drawing teasing designs on her skin as if to relieve his boredom. She held her breath for what seemed like minutes. She was sure she had never in her life been as turned on as she was in that moment.

Until he let his fingers slide up a couple of inches. She was pretty sure her gasp was audible that time, but no one seemed to take notice – not even Edward – however, his strokes went from just fingertips to the palms of his hands.

She didn't remember anything after that except thinking so loudly that she was sure people could hear it, "higher, higher, higher, please, God, higher!" She had never been so turned on in her life, and wrapped her arms around herself to keep from shaking she was so tense with want.

The palming of her calves continued throughout the lecture at a leisurely, seemingly unintentional pace, until it stopped suddenly. Bella realized she hadn't heard a word of the lecture and opened her eyes to see students standing up and filing out. Edward stood with a nonchalant look on his beautiful face and smiled innocently at her, as Emmett, who had been sitting next to him, stood up and bumped his shoulder with a, "ready to go?"

Edward mumbled, "yeah," looking to Emmett and smiling.

"Oh, hey, Bella! I didn't even see you there. I was snoozing…" Emmett admitted as he noticed her.

"Huh-huh-hi," she muttered, trying to keep her face blank lest she let her feelings leak through. Realizing she was about to lose that battle, she scurried from the room without another word, practically skipping back to her dorm in her confused elation.She was confused and sure that Edward hadn't meant to elicit the reaction he had by doing the simple, innocent thing he had with his talented hands, but regardless, she was so turned on she felt like she would combust at any moment.

She threw open her dorm room door to find Rose actually studying for once. The smile that had taken over Bella's face must have been blinding, the way Rose's face lit up when she looked at her.

"WHAT?" she screeched as she jumped up and ran over to Bella. "What has happened to you? Did you get laid?" She knew Bella's virgin status and figured only something on that scale could make her beam like she was.

"No, no, it's nothing…" Bella stammered, trying to hide her ridiculous reaction.

"That," Rose pointed at Bella's face, "is NOT nothing. Spill. Now," she demanded, pushing Bella's shoulders to move her over and sit her down on the bottom bunk.

"Nothing…it was silly. I just…." Bella began, looking up at Rose, hoping to avoid the topic. The look on Rose's face was clear: there would be no avoiding.

So she told her. The whole story.

"Are you fucking kidding me?" Rose screeched in delight. "Ohmygod, Bella, he totally WANTS you!" she giggled, grabbing her arms and spinning her around. "Don't you get it?"

"No, no, he was just bored…or whatever. It wasn't – it was just…ugh, he wasn't doing it like that he was just doing it…like…" she tried to explain. He hadn't done it to turn her on; it wasn't something special to him. He had just had bored fingers that had roamed unintentionally. She tried to explain again to Rose, who would have none of it.

"Bullshit! Men's fingers don't just get bored and go on walkabout with no thought beforehand. He likes you. I knew it. I could tell. Oh, Bella, what are you going to do?" she twirled to look Bella in the face and realized what she would do. "You're not going to do anything and pretend it didn't happen, aren't you?"

"Nothing did happen, Rose, of course I'm not going to assume…"

"That he could actually like you. That's what you won't assume. Clearly he does, Bella!"

Bella shook her head, her elation starting to deflate. Rose sensed it, and stopped arguing to preserve the feeling of giddiness that was still simmering beneath Bella's self-deprecating surface.

"All right, look: I know he likes you, you think he doesn't. Whatever. What's important here is that you had a super-hot experience in the middle of night psych and based on your history, I'm going to assume that ranks up there top on the list of spank material. So, here's what's going to happen: I'm going to get my ass to the library, and you are going to not waste a recent event and a whole hell of a lot of sexual tension that's been building all year. This should be fodder for fantasizing for at least the next hour."

Rose grabbed her books, turned back to Bella's face frozen somewhere between happiness, shock, and utter embarrassment, and kissed her on the cheek on the way out the door. Just before she made it through, she turned back to Bella with a huge smile and hollered, "Happy diddling! You deserve it!" and pulled the door closed behind her.

She did.

And it was.


One night near the end of the semester, he ran into her at the cafeteria, begging her to join the table he was sharing with Emmett. She readily conceded, even if she inwardly chastised herself for being such an eager puppy dog, and flopped down next to Emmett. She hadn't seen much of him since the Night Psyche Incident, as she and Rose now called it, and although she'd relived it over and over again, nothing recharged her like spending time with him.

Rose saw her and strode quickly over, hovering next to her chair. "Wouldn't you rather come eat with me instead of a couple of primates, Bella?" Bella looked up in shock at her rude comment, closed her mouth, and shook her head. She knew Rose still hurt from the rejection Emmett had afforded her, but he couldn't believe she could continue to be so rude to Emmett when he'd looked after her so many times.

"Why don't you join us, Rosalie? It would be nice to have you with us, even if we are just a bunch of primates. I promise not to fling any poo," Emmett said, his eyes twinkling in jest.

"Bellaaaaa," Rosalie pleaded. Bella shook her head silently. There was no way she was going to turn down a dinner invitation from Edward – even if it was in the smelly cafeteria with Emmett as a chaperone. "UGH, fine," she said, and flopped down in a seat.

As she dug into her salad, Emmett rolled his eyes and commented, "Girls and salad – what is that? It's like chewing on a shrub. I don't get it. Can't you eat something with substance? Look at Bella. She eats like a normal human," he said, as he gestured to her with his fork.

Bella froze mid-chew, unable to tear her eyes away from Emmett's, as she couldn't bear to see the look on Edward's face. She was sure he was evaluating the caloric intake of her meal versus the pile of leaves Rose was eating and comparing Rose's body-fat ratio to hers. Emmett's face twisted into a look of confusion as Bella stared at him in terror. Rose caught the look of panic on Bella's face and jumped in to change the subject.

"Get over it, Emmett, not everyone eats a side of beef every week like you do," she said as she picked up Edward's roll and chucked it at his head.

"Heeey, putain! That was the last roll they had out!" he growled as Emmett played him the world's smallest violin between his thumb and forefinger.

"So, Edward," Rose inquired, turned her gaze on him, an eyebrow edging its way toward her hairline, "I hear Emmett and James are throwing a going-away shindig for you next week, since you're graduating early and all and leaving us at semester?"

Bella gasped in shock, sucking a hunk of "casserole of the day" down the wrong pipe, causing her to sputter and cough. Edward reached over and pounded on her back, attempting to dislodge the mystery meat, and she finally waived him off to drink some water. A few minutes later, after having drawn every eye in the room to her attempt to cough up a lung, she finally was able to wipe the tears from her eyes and focus on Edward.

His eyes held a look of intense concern as he studied her. She opened her mouth to question him, but found no words. Finally, Edward broke the silence.

"Yes, so…well, I am graduating early," he said, directly to Bella as if no one else were in the room.

Her mouth wouldn't work and her heart was pounding and her brain was screaming, but she couldn't respond with anything other than a quiet squeak when she opened her mouth. Rose realized her error when she saw Bella's reaction, giving her a sympathetic look.

"Yeah, I didn't know it wasn't comment knowledge," she said, her gaze turning icy as it moved to rest upon Edward.

Edward muttered a response, passing it off as a cough, when Emmett took over to rescue him.

"Yeah, so we're going to have a party the last night before break, in our pod," Emmett explained, referring to the group of rooms with a common area they shared with their friend James. "I'm still voting to make it a pimp and prostitute costume party, but Edward keeps shooting that idea down. "

"Of course you're voting for that, you cliché of a man," Rose snorted, able to make even a sound of disgust come out cute.

"Wear what you want, just make sure you'll be there," Edward said quietly, a pleading look on his face, his eyes still locked on Bella, as they had been for the last few moments. Bella's gaze, however, had fallen to her shoes, along with her spirits. She couldn't believe he was leaving, and so soon. She had no idea how she was going to cope not seeing him lope across the quad yelling her name like a lunatic, feeling his warm arm slung over her shoulders, and listening to his smooth, eager voice as they talked deep into the night. She felt like her chest was closing in on itself, smashing her heart in the process.

"Bella…and, Rose…you'll be there, right?" he said, pressing her for an answer.

"Yes, of – of course, I'll be there," she grimaced, her voice above a whisper, just before she grabbed her tray, excused herself, and made her way out of the lunch room. She spent the next three hours in a practice room in the music building, her coat slung over the window, crying her eyes out, dreading the upcoming party – not because of its possible pimp and prostitute theme, but rather, it's message of finality.


The night of the party, she finally asked the question Rose had secretly waited for all semester.

"Rose, um…what should I wear to this party? I mean, obviously I'm not dressing like a pimp or a prostitute, even if Emmett did finally win that battle. But now I don't know what to wear. I don't want to stand out…" she said, finally raising her eyes to meet Rose's.

"I'll help you pick something," she said without condescension. The idea that Bella was finally going to take some pride in what she put on her lovely shoulders made Rose ecstatic, and she couldn't hold back the sincere smile. "Let's see…"

After fifteen minutes of digging through her things, she pulled out a simple, black rap shirt out of her own dresser. "How about this?" she said, handing it to Bella, who rolled her eyes. "Just try it on, for lord's sake, it's not gonna hurt you! Oh –" she paused, digging through her bottom drawer, "- and try it on with these." She handed Bella a pair of worn-in, dark-wash jeans.

"Rose, there's no freaking way…" she started.

"Just try them. They don't fit me right anymore, but they're the same size as those," she said, pointing to Bella's array of worn-out jeans, "but they're made for girls. Not boys." She lifted an eyebrow, daring her to argue.

Resigned, Bella threw the clothes on the bottom bunk and quickly changed with her back to Rose, as per usual. As irrational as she knew it to be, she always felt that if she couldn't see Rose, Rose wouldn't look at her flab. She tugged the jeans over her feet in a huff, and gasped when she was able to pull them up her thighs. She turned around with them most of the way up, her eyes wide in surprise, staring at Rose.

"What? I wore them all the time before I started training this summer. And, you may not have noticed it, but you've been firming up a little yourself, with that walking to and from the music building has shifted things around a bit. Plus, we weren't that different in size to begin with, except for the fact that I'm taller than you. It's the broad shoulders– they're deceiving," she said, as she flexed her muscles.

Bella just stared. "Don't you get it? So you're a size sixteen. Who cares? I'm a size twelve on a good day mid-swim-season, but when I'm not I wear a fourteen and sometimes – gasp! – a sixteen, depending on the brand. You're awesome, and you need to let people see that. Stop hiding your personality behind your t-shirts, woman. Now, put that black shirt on before you make me late to this party. Maybe if you're lucky, Edward will molest your legs again, this time without clothes in the way!" she giggled.

"Oh, and on that note, I bought you an early Christmas present, it's under the bed," she stage-whispered and then snuck out of the room to shower.

Bella stared after her in shock. There was no way in hell Rose was ever a sixteen. "But the jeans fit," she thought to herself, as she pulled up the zipper. She couldn't believe it, but couldn't argue. So she pulled out the box, eyeing it suspiciously, but then tore it open. She couldn't resist a present, no matter how expensive, inappropriate, or lame. She lifted tissue to reveal gorgeous, black lace bra and panty set. She stared, mortified, knowing they wouldn't fit, but too excited by Rose's size confession to not try them on.

Ten minutes later found her wearing a bra that actually fastened in the back and panties not made of cotton. And they felt good. They didn't dig into her skin or bind weird or make her feel like she had to pick panties out of her ass. And she looked down at her cleavage, thinking her boobs actually looked like…boobs. As she was studying how round and firm they looked, Rose walked in, freshly showered. Bella started to turn around in shock when Rose squealed, "Oh my god they look so great on you!"

"All right, settle down, let's not go that far," she mumbled and tried to hide her smile. She grabbed her jeans and pulled them on – and zipped them! Rosalie's jeans! – and slipped her arms through the shirt. Rose stood behind her and tied it, then walked her to the door and shut it, revealing the image of a woman – who looked like a woman! – in the mirror on the back of it.


Although Rose did choose the prostitute dress option for the party, and was sporting little other than a halter, fishnets, spike heels, and some sort of wide belt that Rose seemed to think was wide enough to pass for a skirt, Bella did not feel out of place in her outfit. She felt surprisingly confident, bordering on sexy. Rose had commented on how curvy she was under all those clothes she used to hide herself, and elbowed her in the ribs every time she tried to fidget with the waist of the shirt.

"Look, I know you're not used to things that actually fit, but it's not what you wear that makes you beautiful. It's how you feel in what you wear. If you're confident you look good, then you look good. And honey, you look good tonight! So stop fidgeting and let's knock Edward's socks off!"

As they entered the communal living room, the party hit them full force, an experience akin to having one's retinas burned out by light reflected on so much skin. It was overwhelming, the amount of cleavage, leg, and even ass-cheeks that could fill their eyes with just one sweep of the room. Rose laughed and jumped right in, hopping up on a coffee table and dancing to the Beatsie Boys blaring in the background.

Bella laughed at Rose and the choice in music, scanning the crowd, looking for Edward. When she didn't find him right away, she leaned back against a wall and people-watched until her phone buzzed. She picked it up and laughed at the picture mail Jasper had sent her.

"It's not every day that I get to see the inside of your nose, thank you," she texted back.

"Even my nose hairs miss you," he replied, then sent, "You're at that party, aren't you?"

"Yes, wearing real girl clothes. You'd be so proud."

"WHAT? I better get a pic of that! That's so great! What does he think," he responded. Jasper knew all about Edward, how Bella felt about him, the Great Leg Debacle, as he called it, and the fact that he was leaving the next day.

"Haven't seen him yet," she wrote back, scanning the party again for his face.

"Well, normally I'd tell you to watch out for that heart of yours…but, honey, I feel like this is the real thing for you. You should tell him before he leaves."

She shook her head at her phone, not ready to take that chance. She and Jasper had talked and talked and talked this through. He was convinced that Edward was the one that would light up the Bella that lurked within, if she just took a chance and really let him. He knew she'd put her heart on lock-down the minute he'd uttered the words "good friend," and had told her she needed to be the one to breech that barrier.

"You have to stop thinking of yourself as this ugly girl who could only ever be the friend," he'd said, after she called him in tears when she'd heard about Edward leaving. "You're not the friend this time, Bella, so stop acting like you don't deserve a chance with him. You do. Put yourself out there, let him have the chance. Let that personality of yours out of lockdown and give yourself permission to be sexy with him. It's all he needs, I promise."

"Okay, okay," she texted back, "I'll go find him and tell him…something."

"Remember, sweets, you are amazing. Through and through. Let him know."

She pushed off the wall with purpose when she ran into Rose.

"HEY! I know you don't drink normally, but tonight is special, right? So, just a shot with me? Just the one?" She pulled Bella out into the living room, trying to get her to dance.

"Okay, one shot if you don't make me dance anymore," Bella laughed. Rose squealed and pulled her into the makeshift bar area, handing her a jell-o shot, and clinking their plastic glasses together.

"To you and how fabulous you are – tonight and every night!" Rose toasted, throwing hers back. Urging Bella on with her eyes, Rose stared at her until she loosened the jell-o from the rim of the plastic with her tongue and then swallowed it down.

"Well done! Another?" Rose prodded. Bella declined but found herself trying another twenty minutes later to avoid another round on the dance floor. And then another, since she hadn't tried the green kind yet. They weren't bad, and to be honest, she was starting to relax and actually really feel like she did look like a girl.

She still wasn't dancing, though, and the more Rose whined, the more Bella thought about possible escapes. Finally, after the fourth shot, she decided to try to find Edward, get her coat, and go. She was feeling tingly and a little tipsy, and she wanted to end the night on a good note, even though the thought of not seeing him again weighed so heavy on her heart.

Squeezing past a group of guys in the hallway, she found herself tackle-hugged from the side. She sighed and giggled, pushing back to look at him.

"Hi, Em," she patted his head.

"Hiiiiiii, Bellaaaaa," he crooned, still bent over to cuddle with her, but weaving as he did so.

"Look, Em, I'd love to hold your drunk ass up all night, but I want to say goodbye to Edward before he leaves. Where is he?"

"Second door on the left, I think. K? K. Loves ya, Bells-y-smells. See ya later! I'm gonna go stalk your roommie, k?" he said with one last squeeze, and then wandered off.

She picked her way carefully down the hall to the second door on the left and slowly pushed it open. The light was off and all she saw was the mound of coats that had been shed by the mostly-naked throng in the living room.

"Edward?" she whispered. When no answer came, she tried again, slightly louder. "Edward?"

"Hmmmph" she heard from the other side of the coat mountain. She picked her way around the pile and found Edward, half covered in coats and scarves, with his long, lean body stretched out on his bed, lit by the weak light of the lamp in the opposite corner.

"Hey," she said, quietly, leaning over to move some of the coats so she could sit on the edge of the bed.

"Mmm…" he muttered, and then reached toward her and snuggled into her leg, a swirl of alcohol-infested air following the movement up to her nostrils. He was drunk. Drunk and beautiful and slightly passed out on his bed next to her. She reached down and patted his arm, letting her hand linger on the hard bicep straining against his shirt.

"I just wanted to say goodbye, Edward," she whispered. "I'm going to miss you." When he didn't move, she added just a bit more than she intended. "I feel like when you leave, you're taking a part of me with you. I don't want you to… I never had the chance…."

She stopped, steadied herself, and then let go. "You are so dear to me, do you know that? You are funny and charming and dear and so goddamn beautiful," she heard herself babble and wondered for a moment how she sounded. "I came to tell you how much I hate that you're leaving. And then you weren't there and you missed that I was dressed like a girl today and now you'll not really know how I feel…" She stopped, feeling tears bead in her eyes.

He roused from sleep just slightly, running his hand up and down the leg he'd snuggled into, then, realizing it was supple and female, pulled her toward him as he turned over to pass back out. She lost her balance and ended up half on the bed next to him and half on the floor. Picking herself up, she leaned down and aimed to kiss him on the forehead to say goodbye, but stopped herself.

She looked at his beautiful, relaxed face, his perfect lips parted in sleep and couldn't help herself. Heart pounding beneath her ribs, she leaned forward and softly – so softly – pressed her lips to his. The spark that ignited her insides raced through her veins and made her shiver. This was nothing like how her first kiss had felt. She craved more and couldn't help herself. She leaned forward and did it again: soft and sweet and tinged with a hint of whiskey. This time the whiskey lips stirred and groaned softly.

That was all her tipsy, pent-up, frustrated body could take as far as restraint went. She leaned down and really kissed him with strong, needing lips, and when his kissed her back, she thought she was dreaming. He groaned again, and responded with more lips, a questioning tongue and an arm up and around her, pulling her down to him. He was strong in his stupor and pulled her atop him, letting loose a throaty moan into her mouth at the feeling of her delicious weight against him.

"Mmmm ma chere ma chere," he whispered. She felt guilty for one one-hundredth of a second before reveling in the fact that Edward – her Edward – was here and beautiful and calling her "dear". She'd never heard a sexier word in her life, even if she was sure he didn't know it was her.

With urgent lips and sweet, rolling tongues, they kissed and pressed and pushed against one another until she thought he really would open his eyes and see her and it would be over. She pulled away just for a second and retrieved one of the scarves from the pile next to them and wrapped it around his eyes. She tied it behind him as he grunted in confusion and then laid back with a smile once he figured out her plan.

"Mystery girl keeping me in the dark," he whispered, his English slurred with his accent and liquor. "Whatever will I do to fend you off?"

"You won't, you're at my mercy," she whispered, finding the idea of doing to him what she'd like without the consequence of him knowing it was her intoxicating.

"Mmmm, tu es coquette, ma chere. Coquette," he groaned, reaching for her without seeing, bringing her back to kiss him.

Bella had spent almost every free moment alone dreaming about what she would do to Edward in a bed if she had the chance, and now that she did…she couldn't wait. She felt exhilarated, but no longer tipsy. She wanted to make him groan "ma chere, ma chere" all night, and was determined to make it happen. She kissed him for a good long while, running her fingers through his thick, silky hair and over his scruffy, strong jaw. When she shifted over Edward for better access to run her hands down his taught, hard arms, she pressed her thigh into his erection. He gasped as she did it again, and kissed her harder.

She felt emboldened and slid her hands back up his arms to his shoulders, clutching them tightly as he pressed up into her, seeking friction against her. She hesitated only for a second before she truly relaxed her body and let him press against her chest to toe. She shifted her legs so they were on either side of his hips and shivered in delight when pressed up into her again, this time between her spread legs.

Her body lit up a like a Christmas tree and she couldn't get enough; his kisses alone had made her wet, but the combination of the full body contact and the kissing made her want to grind against him shamelessly. He tentatively slid his hand between them to slip under her shirt. She sat back for a second, considering what he would find, and realized she didn't care as much as she thought she would. She only wanted his skin against hers; she wasn't that concerned about whether he would think it was too much flesh. She tentatively reached behind her, untied the shirt, and tossed it beside them.

He slid his hands up her thighs to her stomach, which trembled in anticipation of judgment, but quickly turned to arousal when pressed his palms up her ribcage and then over her breasts. She gasped in at the feeling – his hands through the lace, teasing her nipples. He gasped in appreciation and swore in French as he moved his hands over her, squeezing and pressing, cupping and rolling. She thought she would die at the feeling until he pressed up into her at the same time and she let loose a lusty moan.

"Ah, ouais, c'est ca, c'est ca. Putain, comme tu es bien fait," he groaned, pushing up into her again, never letting go of her breasts. Well put-together, he'd said between chants of "that's it" and swearing. He'd called her well put-together.

She leaned forward and through her lust-filled haze, pulled buttons through slots and pushed her hands against his chest. It was broad and hard and the skin was sparsely dotted with hair she could barely see in the dim light. She touched him as he had her: rolling nipples and pressing skin, until they were both panting and grinding and she couldn't stand to have her lips apart from his any longer.

She kissed him and then slid her wet, parted lips down his jaw to his neck, lavishing it with her tongue, tasting his taste and committing it to memory. He gasped when she took his lobe between her teeth and sucked, pushing his hard cock against her parted legs almost involuntarily. He slid his hands down behind her to palm her ass, groaning when he felt her and pushing her forward to slide against him.

That one movement made her arch her back in pleasure, and she couldn't help but groan and try to recreate the movement. He squeezed her ass and pushed her up him again, and she yelped against his lips before furiously pressing them to his. Once they found their rhythm of pushing and straining and palming and kissing, it was only minutes before Bella started to plead with him, then God, then gave up and just moaned.

Just as she felt herself reach the peak and arch back to increase the surface area of pressure between them, she heard him groan, "Oh, ma belle, ma belle, comme tu me rends tellement chaud!"

With that she let out a soft cry and a shudder, as her body flushed and throbbed and gave in. He palmed her ass, pushing her against him as he continued to move them, letting her ride out her orgasm as his crashed over him. He panted and grunted and prayed as he came, praising her ass, her fucking hot tits, and her lips in a language whose slang she didn't yet know.

As they laid against each other, out of breath and recovering, his lips sought out hers, then her nose, then her forehead. She tried to move her weight off of him and he wrapped both arms around her back, immobilizing her. She gave up on moving and relaxed against him, happier than she had ever been. She was so sure her first real experience revealing her body to someone would have been an embarrassing experience, but with the aid of a scarf, a dim lamp, and a man who didn't know her identity, she had let herself go. It had been wonderful.

"So," he said, after a long moment of stroking arms and soft touches. "You waited until I leave to make this move?"

She froze, unsure as to who he thought she was. When she didn't respond, he tucked her to one side, and rolled her over so he was stretched out on top of her, his scarf still in place. Stroking her face with both hands, he leaned down blindly searching out her lips until they both relaxed into the kiss, feeling the spark between them that had fueled their fire.

"Okay, if you're not going to tell me, I guess I'll never know why. But know this: never have I felt such things, or such a glorious woman," he said, as he ran his hand from her face, down her neck and chest to cup her breast. "And I won't forget this, ma belle chere," he whispered with one last kiss to the lips. Then he rolled to his back, pulled her into his side, breathing in her scent before relaxing and dozing off to sleep.

When she was sure he was asleep, she leaned over and looked at him one last time. He made her feel things she wasn't sure were possible, and not just sexually. She felt discovered and cherished and worth it.

"Maybe Jasper was right," she whispered to herself, "I do deserve it all." She smiled sadly, but with new confidence, and touched his lips one last time. She quickly put her shirt back on and undid the scarf around his eyes.

As she stepped away, crossed the room and shut the door, he rolled over, opening his lids to look after her. "Ah, ma belle chere. Ma Bella. You do deserve it. Every beautiful bit."


I know, I know. I left you hanging, just a little. What, I'm a dirty h00r. But you knew that.

Please review? I want to know what you think of Frenchy-speaking Edward and our blossoming Bella. AND GO VOTE! If not for mine, find one you love! This is a fantastic contest and I can't wait to read all the entries! Thank you for reading!