Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to the Twilight universe. That is the creation of Stephenie Meyer. This story/plot is all mine though.

Note: Warning-once again there is a little angst in this chapter. It has to happen but you should know that everything will always work out in the end. HEA is all I know. Please be patient with the timing/pace of this chapter.

Thanks to all who reviewed and put me on lists for alerts and favorites! I got so many reviews for the last chapter/story and it made me smile so Thank You! There is more at the end.

And yes, the chapter titles are song titles. If you know where they come from that's awesome, if you want to know just ask!

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The Virgin Next Door

Chapter 8: Ships in the Night

I was thankful for the weekend. I woke up Saturday morning and decided to bake some snickerdoodle muffins. Focusing on measuring and mixing the ingredients then waiting for the results was calming and gave me a chance to focus on something else besides the mess of my life. I knew that compared to other people's issues in the world, mine were nothing but to me things looked grim.

In the afternoon I headed out and hit the grocery store and ran a few errands. I picked up a new book and stopped at a local coffee to read and have a hot chocolate putting off going home. Later, as I was taking the bags into my house a jeep pulled up to Edward's house and I watched as Rosalie and a guy got out. Rosalie and I hadn't spoken for very long when we met so I was surprised when she headed over to me.

"Hey, Bella!" She turned and gestured to the guy she was with and said something I couldn't hear.

I shifted the bags and gave a halfhearted wave. "Hello, Rosalie. What's going on?" No use in letting everyone see my little pity party I was drowning in.

"Well I convinced Emmett that it wasn't insane to move in with me and he hadn't seen Edward in a while so we thought we'd drop by." Her smile widen as she gestured for the guy to hurry up. "Emmett, this is Bella." Rosalie laced her arm through his. "Bella, this is my boyfriend Emmett."

I threw up my hand in another wave. "Nice to meet you." Emmett and Rosalie looked like one of those couple you see on television on in a movie: She with her height, blonde hair, and beautiful features. The Emmett with his mischievous smile and athletic looks. They should be doing a photo shoot on a beach or something. I only thought people like this existed in the fictional world.

Emmett smiled and I could tell he was the type of person who never met a stranger. "Yeah, you too. You're the girl Edward's all hung up on." His hand reached out for mine to shake and for a second I wondered if I was going to get back or if it was going to be crushed.

A slap to his arm loosened his grip and he turned back to his girlfriend. "What the hell?"

"I told you to keep your mouth shut. You know how he is so don't go and ruin anything." Rosalie turned back and smiled at me. "Sorry, he's still in training."

I could hear Emmett mumbling something under his breath and I'm pretty sure Rosalie did too judging by her eye roll.

"Don't worry about it. I think I pretty much screwed it up last night all by myself." At these words Emmett gave me a smile, turned, and made his way to Edward's. As he left I heard him yell that it was nice to meet me.

Had they already heard about what happened? I discreetly tapped at the ground looking for a hole to fall into or at least some loose ground.

"Alice said she saw you out last night. Did something happen?"

"Wait, you know Alice?" Alice hadn't mentioned to me about meeting her not that she talked to me on Friday.

"I actually met her a couple of days ago and we've talked on the phone some." She pointed to Emmett. "He and Jasper went to college together."

Things were starting to connect now. It seemed like everyone now knew each other and that could make things uncomfortable in the future.

"So that date went that bad?" Rosalie reached out and took one of the bags of groceries and began leading the way inside my house. "I got the impression that you were both totally in to each other."

"It was going really good until I opened my big mouth and decide to say entirely too much." I wasn't normally the type to just blurt out all problems but I didn't have Alice to talk to and there was no way I was going to call my mother about this. That left Rosalie.

"It can't be that bad. What happened?"

I began putting things away to take the focus off myself and so I wouldn't have to look her in the eye as I told her what happened. "I just let out too much information about myself and he didn't like what he heard or something. I don't know. I think I led him on and made him think I was just in it for a fling."

"Wait, slow down." She came over and took the box of cereal from me and set it on the counter causing me to stop and focus on her. "How did you lead him on?"

"Things were moving along. I mean not fast or anything but we had kissed a couple of times and I think that made him believe that I was just looking for a good time or something. Plus there was the incident with me leaving my panties in his dryer." I couldn't help but laugh. "I'm the last person who would know what to do in any situation that would stem from those events."

Rosalie boosted herself up to sit on a counter and grabbed an apple. "Okay I'm assuming that you're not the type to sleep around but you should know that kissing a few times doesn't automatically scream do me." I watched as she tossed it into the air and caught it a couple of times.

"These were some pretty amazing kisses." Kisses I could still feel and went over second by second before falling asleep each night.

Silence settled over the kitchen before Rosalie latched on to something I said. "What do you mean when you say you're the last person who would know what to do in that situation?"

"Let's just say that I'm not someone who has a lot of background knowledge in the area of men and dating." Silence took over.

"Are you a…?" My kitchen was filled with a loud laugh that echoed off the appliances. "You're kidding me, right?"

"Well if I hadn't felt awkward about it before I sure as hell do now." I mumbled as set the milk and orange juice in the refrigerator hoping the cool air would prevent my face from turning tomato red.

"Sorry, it's just that you don't come across a virgin around our ages too often. It's kind of a shock." I could hear the smack of an apple as she caught in her hand.

"Yes, I'm one of those rare, elusive twenty-six year old virgins. Watch as she hides her embarrassment by putting her groceries away." My voice was muffled by the fridge I was still hiding my head in.

"I can tell the two of us are going to be great friends." Rosalie stated before taking a bite out of an apple. "I can teach you so many things."

"Teach or corrupt?"

Her laugh was my answer. Lord give me strength when she and Alice are together.

.

The phone ringing tore my attention away from my book. Looking at the display let me know it was my mother. Letting out a sigh I answered, "Hey, mom."

"Bella, do know where the cheese grater is?" Seriously? I could hear draws slamming in the background along with a high pitched yapping that had to belong to the dog, Roxie.

"Mom, what do you need a cheese grater for?"

"Well I found a recipe for a chicken something or other and I wanted to try it but I need to grate some cheddar for it and I can't find it anywhere."

I tried to rub the oncoming headache away. "You can buy cheese already shredded if that's what you need."

"Well I know but I had this in the fridge and I thought I'd go ahead and use it. Phil loves chicken and I wanted to make a special dinner." And possibly kill the man, I added silently.

"What exactly are you trying to make?" Asking this question was the wrong thing to do but I couldn't help myself.

"Let's see." My mom began mumbling as she read over whatever it was she had found. "Cheesy Chicken and Rice. Sounds good right? It says to use frozen vegetables but I'm going to use canned. It shouldn't make a difference. I thought I'd throw in what I had."

Getting up I headed to the front door and slipped on my shoes and got my purse. "I'll be there in about fifteen minutes, Mom. Just wait for me."

"Oh bring a cheese grater!" I turned around and got a bag of shredded cheese out of the fridge.

"Okay, I'll see you in a few."

"Bye, Bella. Be careful." Roxie started yapping louder. "Roxie is excited to meet you!"

.

After arriving at my mother's and helping her with dinner (read: making dinner for her and Phil). She demanded that I stay and hear about her job, and how Phil's high school baseball team was doing, and finally how much Roxie loved her new home. Finally as we began munching on store bought cookies (which were pretty awesome) I realized why I was actually doing here.

"So last week I met the most interesting woman." I looked up catching Phil's eye rolling and tried to stop the snickering escaping my lips. "Oh stop, it's just a little introduction."

"Honey, Bella doesn't need to be introduced to anyone."

"What? Oh Mom, come on. Is this what the cheese grater was about?" I stood up, dropped my napkin and began cleaning up my dishes. I wasn't sticking around for the pity matchmaking.

In the kitchen I set my dishes in the sink and as I looked out in their backyard I could hear my mother getting up to follow me into the kitchen. "No, Phil, stay here, I've got it." The rattle of dishes and squeaking of chairs on hardwood floors preceded her appearance only to be followed by the clicking of tiny little nails. "I have no idea why you are so against being introduced to a nice boy. You never go out. I only hear about you and Alice." Roxie barked her two cents. "Bella, is there something you need to tell me? I mean…are you…"

"Oh my God!" My head fell forward. I could not believe this was happening. "No Mom, I'm not gay!"

"The why not let me introduce you to this guy?"

I turned around and leaned back against the sink. "Have you even met him, mom?"

"No, but his mother seems to be lovely. She had a photo of him and he's very attractive. Neither of us could understand why our children couldn't find a nice person to settle down with."

I love it when my mother discusses my personal life with complete strangers. "Mom, I don't need help finding anyone. I'm a happy, well-adjusted child." Wrapping my arms around my mother I continued to reassure her, "You have nothing to worry about. I'll try harder and put myself out there. In fact my neighbor asked me out the other day." No need to tell her all the details.

"And…" She pulled away from me and raised her eyebrows.

"He's very nice. We a have a few things in common." Okay, maybe it was a bad idea to dangle this little bit of information. She was going to want details.

"Is that all you're going to tell me? Was he cute? Are you going out again?"

And so I spent the thirty minutes being as vague as I could but still giving her hope that her daughter wasn't going to be next Emily Dickinson. I was beginning to feel unsteady on the thin tightrope I was walking in my life.

.

On Sunday I got to use my newly fixed washing machine. When I got to my white loads I immediately thought back to Edward showing up at my door holding a pair of my panties. No wonder I gave him the impression I was just looking for a quick tour of his bed. He probably thought I left those over there on purpose.

Like some kind of calling card or invitation.

In between rounds of laundry I worked on my lesson planning for the week. I also wrote several drafts of a letter/email to send to the Porters. I created a plan for getting the through the week with Banner and how to work around Austin and any issues that may come up. I thought about setting up a meeting with the Special teachers so we could work together.

Finally I wrote an email to Alice after trying to leave a couple of messages on her voice mail. I explained everything from how the date came about to the complete destruction of it. I also made sure to let her know that it's okay for me to do things on my own. If I felt like I needed her help I would have asked. I didn't want to jinx the date but it failed anyway. I hoped she would understand where I was coming from. Alice always meant well and I have depended on her a lot in the past but I'm trying to more independent now.

The rest of the evening was spent deciding whether or not to approach Edward and discuss what happened the other night. I think that we both overreacted to what was said but I was confused on why he reacted the way he did. I shouldn't let his actions affect me the way they did.

It made me feel like there was something wrong with me and even though I had thought that already, seeing Edward react like that made it worse. It made me feel weak and I didn't want to be one of those girls who depended on how a man saw her to feel worthy. I was better than this. I needed to put on some empowering chick music and dance around my house while singing loudly.

Instead I put on Pride and Prejudice and decided to take pointers from Elizabeth Bennett.

.

I got work on Monday early. I rechecked my email to the Porters and sent it along with a copy to Principal Banner. I also sent off a request to meet with Mrs. Chambers, Mr. Cregg, and Alice about Austin. This was me being proactive. I knew I needed to be since Banner was trying to make me out to be the bad guy.

By the end of the day I hadn't heard from Austin's parents so I left a message and put a note in his folder. Banner seemed to like the "initiative" I was taking. I had my fingers crossed that I could get the music and gym teachers on board with what Alice and I had been doing for Austin. We had a meeting set up for Wednesday after school to discuss the situation. Banner had yet to decide on whether or not he would attend. I was hoping for not.

.

It was Tuesday morning and I needed to get the paper from yesterday and today. Shuffling downstairs in my pajamas, I ran my hands through the mess of hair I emerged from bed with and tried not to fall down the stairs. As I stepped through the front door it was to see Edward sitting on the top step dressed for work. In one hand was mug of coffee and in the other a cinnamon roll. I wanted to be angry that it had been days since he spoke to me. Angry that he just let me walk away amidst all the misunderstandings (if that's what it was). But mostly I was relieved to see him sitting there looking like he was sorry for the other night.

"Cinnamon roll peace offering?" He held it up with a hopeful smile.

I made my way over to the stairs and let myself land ungracefully beside him. "Thank you, I haven't really eaten in days." I began tearing off bite sized pieces and popping them in my mouth. I pointed at the mug. "Is that for me too?" At his nod I reached for it and took a drink. "So good."

"Listen, I know I was a complete ass the other night. When you shared with me that it was your first date all I could think about was how many ways I could screw this and you up." Beside me I could feel him moving around before finally settling down to continue. "Things were moving along for us. We barely knew each other but something was…is there between us. Before it had either move too fast for me or it never took off. With you I felt something but I didn't want to rush it. Then at dinner, after all that, I realized that I did rush it."

"No, Edward, you weren't rushing anything." I set the mug down to place a hand on his arm to get him to look at me. "It came to halt suddenly but I didn't feel rushed"

"Bella, I know we just met and we don't know a lot about each other's lives, but I missed you. I tried to stay away because, well for a lot of stupid reasons but I'm done with that."

"Okay." I needed to ask the question that had been bothering me since that Thursday. "I do have a question though."

"You can ask me anything, Bella."

"You said I gave you a different impression before. What did you mean?" I couldn't look at him and see the answer on his face so I popped another bite in my mouth and stared across the street.

"Are you saying that you think I was calling you a…Bella, look at me please?" Turning to face him showed the embarrassment he felt. "I never thought of you that way. I was just saying that when we kiss you don't come across as inexperienced."

"Oh." I nodded. "Good."

"No worries. I just thought you were like other girls." The look on his face made me snicker due to his wide eyes and dropped jaw. "Wait, that's not what I meant. Most people have dated and it was a surprise to hear that you haven't."

I finished the cinnamon roll and brushed my hands off. "Is that a bad a thing?"

"No, it's a good thing."

I knew I should probably fully explain everything. Just because a person hasn't ever dated certainly doesn't mean that they have slept around. "Edward, you do know what I mean when I told you that I don't date."

"I think I do."

"Besides not dating…" The heat was blooming on my face. I hated having to say this out loud. "I've never been with a guy, in any way." I kept my face down and prayed that the blush would fade soon.

"Does that mean I was your first kiss?" His shoulder bumped mine making me meet his eyes. The grin on his face was wide and his eyes crinkled at the edges.

"What do you think?"

Edward's arm wrapped around my shoulders and he pressed a kiss against my temple. "Yeah, I was."

"Don't sound so proud of yourself mister."

"Why not? That was a pretty amazing kiss."

Resting my head on his shoulder I asked another question that had been on my mind. "Why did you come over after I left that night?"

"I wasn't ready to say goodnight. We were just getting to know each other but I had to kiss you, so I followed you over here."

"I'm glad you did." I wanted to bury my nose in his neck and breathe him in. How could he smell this good?

"Me too."

"It was a great first kiss."


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