A/N: Finally...I have been working on this story for a while, and I think it's ready for public scrutiny now...I need to thank xXKiwiCullenXx-she might as well be a co-author of this story; I could not have done it without her. Speaking of without...Her story WITH OR WITHOUT YOU has been nominated in 3 categories at . Go read her story, then vote! (voting starts on 5/22)

*I do not own Twilight, Stephanie Meyers does.

This story is rated M for language and lemons-leave if you aren't of age!


I'm sitting here on the beach watching the waves crash onto the shore. I really should be studying the book that's lying next to me, but I can't concentrate. I just saw a guy run by down at the waterline who looked just like him...but different. The sight of him brought back all those memories I had tried so hard to forget. Forks, 5 years ago.

My parents had been arguing, again. My father was the Chief of Police and my mother was a lawyer with offices in Forks and Port Angeles. Needless to say, she worked a lot. He wasn't much better. When Dad wasn't working, he was fishing or hanging out with his friends down in La Push.

Their argument started about dinner not being ready and turned into them yelling about the faults they found in each other. I couldn't listen anymore and sought out the only refuge I had at the time. Alice.

Alice and I had been friends since she and her family had first moved to Forks when we had been in junior high. Her cousin, Elizabeth, was a year ahead of us and her brother, Edward was two years ahead of us.

I hadn't seen Alice much outside of school since the accident a couple of months ago. Edward and Beth had been at a party in Port Angeles. Edward had lost control of the car and crashed into some trees. Elizabeth had been killed instantly. Edward walked away with barely a scratch. The Cullens had been in turmoil since then, mostly because of Edward and the guilt he carried.

Edward. I think I had been in love with him ever since the first time I saw him. I had gone to their house shortly after meeting Alice and he was in the yard helping his dad. His shirt was off and his sweaty torso glistened in the sun when it peeked out from behind the clouds. I was young and he was the first boy that had stirred those kinds of feelings in me.

As I got to know him better, I found out that he was a a nice guy. Thoughtful and kind, loyal to his friends and family. He played sports and did well in his classes. Edward was your all-American golden boy. All the girls wanted to be by his side and the boys wanted to be just like him. He was charming and funny and ridiculously beautiful. And though I kept it to myself, I was one of those girls who wanted to be at his side.

Edward was always nice to me. He talked to me in and out of school. Some of the girls were jealous of me because he didn't avoid me like he did most of them. Little did they know, it was all for nothing. Edward saw me only as Alice's friend, another sister at most. I wasn't sure which was worse. There were times, like when we ended up at the same party or a dance, when Edward would ask me how I was or why I didn't have a boyfriend. He had a different look in his eye and I felt this humming sensation from him being so close to me. I think he may have been drinking when that happened, but the interest he showed in me and the feelings those encounters conjured were overwhelming and left me giddy.

Alice decided that she and I were going to be best friends the first day we met. She walked up to me and introduced herself and just insinuated her little petite self right into my life. I always thought we made quite a pair. Alice was perky and lithe. Her dark hair setting a deep contrast with her pale skin. Her eyes were always sparkling and she was friendly with everyone.

I was quiet and reserved and often felt like Alice was my go-between with all the other kids. She helped bring me out of my shell. I soon began to appreciate my plain brown hair and pallid skin. I finally felt like I belonged, that I was part of the crowd, not just a by-stander. She knew me like no one else did and accepted me and my screwed up family without question. This was why I ended up on her doorstep that night.

As soon as I stepped up to the door, I heard a crash from inside. I rang the bell, but no one answered. I tried the door and found it was unlocked so I went in and followed the noise.

I saw Edward standing in front of his piano with pieces of a chair dangling from his hands. He was breathing heavily and I could literally see the anger rolling off of him. He dropped the chair and punched a nearby wall. I gasped and he turned to look at me.

"Edward, what's wrong? What are you doing?" I asked him, trying to calm my shaking voice.

"What are you doing here?" he snapped at me. I'd never seen him like this before and it scared me.

"I...I was looking for Alice," I sputtered. "I rang the bell and heard a crash. Um, the door wasn't locked, so I..."

"Alice isn't here. She went to dinner with mom and dad," he said quietly.

"Oh. Okay. I'll just go upstairs and wait then. Are...um...are you going to be okay? Do you want some help cleaning this up?" I asked him. I was a little afraid to leave him alone.

"No Bella. Just go upstairs," he sighed. Edward ran a hand through his hair and looked around at the mess he had made.

I got upstairs and went into the spare bedroom. After my parents' fight and witnessing Edward's breakdown, I was on overload. My parents had planned my life out for me. They had decided where I was going to college and what kind of career I was going to have. Ironically enough, they had both decided that I was going to be a lawyer.

I had been researching schools on the west coast for a couple of months now and had decided that oceanography or marine biology was what I wanted to do. I loved the ocean and wanted to be somewhere warm. My parents were unaware of my plans.

I jumped when I heard the door open. Edward walked towards me and sat on the edge of the bed.

"I'm really sorry you had to see me like that Bella. Are you alright? Why are you here?" he asked.

He was aware of my parent's incessant arguing, as this was far from the first time I had shown up here like this. Mr. and Mrs. Cullen had told me that I was welcome in their home anytime after a particularly nasty fight a couple of years ago.

I told Edward about the argument and how it was getting harder to listen to. I told him about their plans for my future and how I felt trapped by it all. I was more concerned about him, though.

"How are you, Edward?" He looked at me for a few minutes and I was starting to feel uncomfortable under his gaze. The next thing I knew, he was in tears and talking about Elizabeth. He was bent over with his head in his hands. "What was that about downstairs?"

"Just letting out some frustration," he said. Then I saw him bring a bottle to his lips and drink. Alice had told me that he had started drinking and was not even trying to hide it from his parents.

"Was it about Beth?" I asked hesitantly. He and I had never directly talked about the accident. I could tell it was eating him alive.

"Yes," he answered quietly. I waited for him to speak, not wanting to push him.

"It was all my fault, Bella. I'm such a terrible person. Beth is dead because of me." Edward sighed heavily.

"Edward, it was an accident. It wasn't your fault," I said trying to console him.

"You don't understand, Bella," he said harshly. He took another drink. "I was angry. I was so angry, I wasn't paying attention. I was yelling at her and came up on the curve too fast. I was driving. I wasn't paying attention! I killed her!" he hissed.


"NO Bella! Beth already had a shitty life. Do you know why my parents adopted her?" I nodded, but he continued anyway. "Both of her parents were drug users and alcoholics. She was neglected and abused by them. My parents gave her a chance. A new life." He took another drink. "I took it away from her," he sobbed. I rubbed my hand over his back, trying desperately to comfort him. "It should have been me," he whispered.

"Edward, don't say that," I was in tears now, too.

"Beth will never grow up, never go to college. She'll never get married or have babies," he cried.

"Edward, it was an accident. It was terrible and tragic, but still just an accident," I pleaded with him.

"But I was mad. I didn't want to leave and I was pissed at her. She threatened to call my dad to come get her and that pissed me off even more. I told her what a pain in the ass she was when we got in the car and sped off towards home. If I hadn't been so mad, maybe I would have slowed down sooner. It should have been me, not her. How the hell I escaped with barely a scratch I don't know."

I had no idea what to do. I scooted closer to him and wrapped my arms around him. He laid his head on my shoulder and I felt his body shake as he cried.

"I've never told anyone that Bella. Please don't say anything," he whispered.

"I won't," I whispered back. I thought carefully about what I would say to him. I felt like this would be the only opportunity that I would have and I needed to get through to him.

"Edward, were you trying to hurt Beth?" I asked. I felt his head shake. "No, you weren't. It was an accident. You need to stop blaming yourself. I truly believe that everything, both good and bad, happens for a reason." I paused for a moment. "You won't be able to survive this if you keep torturing yourself."

I moved away from him and took the bottle from his hands and sat it on the table. I placed my hands on either side of his face. He was in such anguish. Edward lifted his eyes to mine.

"Beth would want you to continue on, live the life you still have. She wouldn't want your life to be over, too. You've got to find a way to get through this, otherwise it will consume you. No one wants that, Edward. It would kill your parents and Alice if they lost you, too." I took a deep breath and failed at stopping the tears running down my face. "It would kill me," I whispered.

I watched his eyes as the meaning of my words clicked in his head. The little bit of light that the small bedside lamp gave off allowed me to see the intensity that burned in his beautiful green eyes. Even though they were bloodshot, I clearly saw the realization set in.

Edward pulled me tighter to him and pressed his lips to mine. I had never been kissed before, but instinct took over and I kissed him back. A whimper slipped from me and Edward leaned against me, pushing me back onto the bed.

He had a hand twisted in my hair and the other wrapped around my waist. I felt his tongue against my lips and gasped. As soon as our tongues met, it was like nothing I'd ever felt before. A warm rush came over my body and our kissing turned from soft and sweet to something more. Deeper. All hesitation was left behind. When we needed air, Edward moved his lips to my hair and neck.

"Bella, I've wanted to do that for so long," he said quietly.

"So have I, Edward," I confessed.

He looked surprised for a moment then crashed his mouth back to mine. I scratched softly at the nape of his neck and got lost in him. When we were gasping for air again, he rolled to his back and I curled into his side. A few minutes later, I listened as his breath evened out and he was asleep. I watched him for a few more minutes before realizing that I didn't want anyone to find us like this.

I struggled a little to get out of his embrace and immediately felt like getting back into his arms. I gave him a soft kiss on his cheek before grabbing the bottle of liquor. I ran downstairs and put it back behind the bar. I found a bottle of water and sat it on the bedside table and then went to Alice's room.

Alice got home about an hour later and found me on her bed. We talked for awhile about my parents before going to sleep. She looked at me strangely once or twice and I swear she knew what had happened between Edward and I. She never said anything about it, though. I awoke the next morning to find out that Edward was gone. His parents asked me if I had seen or spoken to him and I only confessed to having seen him. His clothes and some personal items were gone. He didn't even leave a note.

A few weeks later, Alice and I started our Junior year at Forks High. No one had heard from Edward, he had never called. His parents were beside themselves with worry. I never told anyone about what had happened the night before he left. A small part of me worried that he left because of me.

Three months before summer vacation, the Cullens finally heard from Edward. He was in California. Apparently, he slowly made his way to San Diego and decided to stay there. Right after school let out for the summer, Mr. and Mrs. Cullen announced that they were moving, to be closer to Edward.

The day they left, I almost asked Alice to pass along a message to Edward. I decided against it. I'd always hoped that he'd contact me, but he never did. I convinced myself that he didn't want to hear from me. He probably wanted to put everything about Forks behind him, including me.

My parents had me applying to college's that were mostly on the east coast. I applied on my own to schools on the west coast. I knew they wouldn't figure it out. Actually, they weren't aware of much as they had been arguing almost non-stop and if not arguing, they were working.

Most of the letters I got from colleges were acceptance letters. When I got one from the University of California, San Diego, I was thrilled. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography was there and they were one of the most prestigious research centers in the world.

I was getting a sizable scholarship and a two year dorm allowance. When I went to break the news to my parents, I found them in another bitter argument. I decided to wait for a better time. It turned out, there never was a better time. They knew that I had been accepted to NYU, which was their school of choice. They just assumed that I was going there. I didn't give them a reason to believe otherwise. They had set up a checking account for me to handle all the fees for applications, so they had no idea.

My parents had never talked to me, they talked at me. It was times like those that I wished Alice was still around. We had lost touch though, after she moved to California. I didn't even know if she still lived there.

It was a few days before I was scheduled to leave for college when the worst fight I had ever witnessed broke out between my parents. They didn't notice me passing by them to load my luggage into my car. I wrote them a note and grabbed the last of my things and walked out the door. Without looking back, I headed to California.

I was able to move into my dorm room early. My roommate wasn't there yet, so I picked the side I wanted and took a few days to get settled in and familiar with the campus. I went out looking for a part-time job and after three days of doing nothing but filling out applications, I was hired at a little coffee shop just off campus.

My roommate moved in the weekend before classes started. Jessica was the perky, cheerleader type and never stopped talking about her boyfriend, Mike. I had my doubts as to whether we would get along, but she was nice enough and we did get along well.

I heard from my parents, specifically my mother, every couple of weeks. When they had realized what was going on, they were livid. They threatened to come get me until I reminded them that I was eighteen and they weren't paying for a damn thing. I heard about how I had made a mess of my life and what a huge mistake it was not following their plan. It was during one of those rants when I decided that I didn't have to listen to it anymore. The first time I hung up on my mother, I was ecstatic. Jess and I made a couple of calls and went out to celebrate.

We were walking along the sidewalk close to the beach when I saw a tattoo shop. I grabbed Jessica and ran into Midnight Sun. One of the guys working there, Joe, helped me decide on a small pair of wings. It would be a constant reminder of my freedom and that my life was mine to live as I saw fit. I had Joe put the tattoo on the inside of my right wrist.

I went to class, worked and studied. I went out with my friends and even had a few dates. I tried to lose my virginity with one of them but he was too drunk and passed out on me. The guy was a dick anyway.

Life was good, though. My classes were going well, and even with the occasional harassing phone calls from my mother, I was enjoying myself. Before I knew it, my sophomore year was coming to a close. I got a letter reminding me that my dorm allowance was almost over and I would need to find a place to live.

I was talking about it to my friend from class a few days after I received the letter.

"Bella, one of my roommates is moving out this weekend. Why don't you come take a look? It's a great house, it's right on the beach," she said. My good friend...a beach house...what was there to think about?

Rosalie gave me directions and we made plans for me to go take a look at the house, which is two days from now. I sighed and looked down the beach at the guy who looked like Edward. I've come a long way in the five years since I've seen him, but I still can't get him out of my head.

So...? Let me know.