Boys on Boards Contest

Title: Eight Summers

Characters: Edward/Bella

Disclaimer: Lemons

Summary: One moment of summer for eight summers as Bella learns about love, life, and surfing from the boy next door. AU AH MA E/B.

Eight Summers


I pulled on my first bikini – a dark teal halter top and tie-side bottoms – scrutinizing my appearance in the mirror. My skin was far too pale, having been hidden from the sun for the past ten months, and was strikingly white against the vibrant colour of my bathing suit.

"It looks perfect," Alice said before twirling around in her pink bikini, posing as she waited for my approval.

"You too," I agreed. I fidgeted with the top, trying to make it sit better on my frame. "I don't know about these tops though. What if they fall off or shift to the side? I think I need boobs to hold it in place."

"At least you have boobs," Alice grumbled, frowning as she looked down at her own cleavage. "I swear, if my boobs were any smaller they'd have to curve inward."

I was pretty sure my bounty wasn't any more plentiful than Alice's, but I dropped it. Mrs. Brandon had finally allowed Alice to wear a bikini and my wearing one was a sign of solidarity. Charlie had never really talked to me about what was, or was not, appropriate swim wear, so I'd always just worn what I wanted.

Alice pulled out a tube of Lipsmackers and swiped it on, puckering her lips in a kiss for the mirror before handing it to me.

"Lip gloss? For the beach?" I asked, doubtful. "It'll just get sand in it and stick to my hair."

"Bella," Alice whined. "Why are you being so difficult? We're fourteen. We're women. We have to look good so the boys notice us."

"Last time they noticed us, I got a face full of sand," I grimaced. The boys she was talking about were her summer cabin neighbours Jasper Hale and Edward Cullen, who lived on the beach in California all year long. Jasper's mom, Esme, had married Edward's dad, Carlisle, and they were known as the twin terrors of Volterra Beach. The community was small, only fifteen small houses along the remote stretch of beach before the private residences gave way to corporate developments and multi-million dollar estates. To have one of the cabins, you essentially had to have had it in your family, which Alice's had for decades. Most of the people who lived on the beach were old and gross, so every summer since I was nine I had come with Alice to the cabin to keep her company. The only other kids our age were Jasper and Edward, who were a year older than us.

"Last time we were here, we were little girls," Alice defended. She smoothed a hand over her spiky new pixie cut. "Like I said, we're women now. Women don't get into sand fights with boys. They kiss them."

I wrinkled my nose, but didn't bother arguing. Disagreeing with Alice was about as effective as trying to topple a brick wall with a feather. It was easier to just roll with whatever plan she'd come up with.

I pulled a baggy t-shirt and board shorts over my bikini, laughing as Alice did the same and we ran out onto the beach.

The boys were already out there, trying to surf on wobbly legs. It had been a cold spring, and this was probably the first time they'd been out since last summer. I ran straight into the water, fully dressed, giggling as the first cold wave washed over me, taking the breath out of me.

"Bella!" Alice called from the shore. "We're supposed to tan! Women don't swim!"

"Then I don't want to be a woman yet," I called back, diving below the surface.

I swam out into the deeper water and caught sight of Edward, sitting on his board, waiting for a decent wave.

"Hey, Swan," he greeted. "Welcome back."

"Hey, Cullen," I greeted back, before diving below surface, making sure to cause a big splash. I surfaced and got a mouth full of sea water when Edward splashed me back. I spluttered and coughed as Edward laughed, and I glared back.

"Lighten up, kiddo," he chuckled. I bristled at being called 'kiddo' but didn't get a chance to retort as Edward started paddling, pushing himself to his feet as he glided in on a medium sized wave. The jerk didn't even pick a good wave to escape on - he was just a trying to get away from me. I watched as Jasper swooped in, sharing a high-five with Edward when they got close enough, causing both of them to lose their balance and fall into the water.

Glaring at them, I swam back in to the beach in front of the cabin where a very exasperated Alice was waiting for me.

"I told you, Bella," Alice said, a smug smile on her lips. "Boys don't want girls that swim. They want girls who sit on the beach looking gorgeous."

"I don't know why you want to impress those idiots anyway," I grumbled, nodding toward where Edward and Jasper were play-fighting in the shallows of the beach. "Boys are stupid. Especially those two. They're not even hot!"

"They're hotter than Yorkie and Newton," Alice said. "I mean, maybe they're just as skinny and short, and whatever, but at least they didn't try to feel you up at the school dance and then puke on your shoes."

"If those two are the epitome of hot guys," I said, wrinkling my nose in disgust, "then I give up boys forever. Might as well become a lesbian now and save myself the trouble."

"We have to share a bed," Alice sighed. "If you try to feel me up, you get the couch."

"You're not my type," I sniffed, before we burst into laughter.


"Hey, Bella," a deep voice greeted from behind me.

I didn't recognize the voice, so I turned around, lowering my sunglasses so I could see who was talking. My eyes swept over the face before me – errant dark auburn strands streaked with copper and gold, olive green eyes, crooked smile with perfectly straight, white teeth, and a sunburn across the fair skin of his nose.

"So, I'm Bella this summer?" I asked, quirking an eyebrow.

"Aren't you Bella every summer?" Edward asked, confused.

"No," I laughed, enjoying the expression on his face. His smile had gone from cocky to hesitant in a matter of seconds. "Usually it's Swan, or 'girl', or 'hey, you'. I wasn't even sure you knew my name."

Edward sat down on the driftwood log next to me, stretching out his legs. I couldn't help but check him out. He'd gotten taller since last summer. A lottaller. He had to be over six feet tall now. He didn't seem to weigh any more, though. I could see the outline of most of his ribs, and his knees looked awkward and knobby on his long frame.

"So, uh, my parents are out this weekend," Edward said, running a hand through his hair, making it messier than it was before. "Jasper and I were thinking of having a little barbecue and uh, um..."


"Do you and Alice want to come over? We could have burgers or something," he said, his words too fast and slightly jumbled. "It could be cool."

"I'll ask Alice," I said, feeling the tips of my ears burn and my stomach flop. What was wrong with me? It was a stupid burger with the twin terrors, not with someone who actually mattered.

"Great." He stood up quickly and stood awkwardly, shifting his weight back and forth on the balls of his feet. "So, uh, come find us, then. You know where I live, right?"

My cheeks felt heated, but I nodded – probably a little too eagerly – and Edward smiled in relief. "Great. See you then."

"So you then," I replied. I was walking on cloud nine as I turned back toward the cabin where Alice was finishing up her lunch.

"Oh, and Bella?"

I turned back to see Edward jogging toward me. He leaned in close, his lips alarmingly close to my face, all the while glancing nervously at the screen door and front window. I prepared myself for the kiss that would inevitably happen.

"Make sure you don't tell Mrs. Brandon where you're going, okay?" His eyes met mine before flickering back to the screen door. "I don't want the cops to break it up."

"No problem, Edward," I said, more than slightly disappointed he hadn't made the move I'd thought he would.


"We're going to the rec center now," Alice called into the house as we stepped outside. "Back soon."

"Be back by eleven," Mr Brandon called from the kitchen table in the back.

"Stay out of trouble," Mrs Brandon added. She appeared by the door a gave Alice a stern look. "No trouble."

"No, mother," Alice grumbled. We slipped outside and walked toward the path up to the rec center before dodging into the bushes out of sight of the cabin. We changed clothes as stealthily as possible until we were wearing date-ready shorts and tank tops, then headed back to the cabins.

We could hear music as we got closer to Edward and Jasper's and found the door opened when we stepped onto his back porch. Jasper arrived at the door to usher us inside. He pointed us up the stairs to where the boys' rooms and the common room were located. Alice grabbed my hand, squeezing it tight, and we climbed up the stairs behind Jasper.

He led us to the common room and I saw a few girls milling about and another guy playing Nintendo by the television.

"We ordered pizza," Jasper said, pointing to a stack of boxes on the coffee table. "And there's beer in the cooler."

He took a look at us, our faces betraying our nerves, and shrugged. "There's pop in the downstairs fridge if that's more your deal."

He then left us, sitting down on the couch next to a girl with long, black hair and olive skin, putting his arm around her shoulder. She snuggled in tight and offered him a bite of her pizza. I could feel Alice tense next to me.

"Emmett, who are those girls?" I heard a blonde say to the Nintendo guy across the room.

The guy, 'Emmett', looked over at us and shrugged before turning back to the blonde. "Those must be the kids next door. They're the cover in case their parents come back early or something. They won't know it was a make-out party if kids were invited.

Make-out party?

I glanced around the room and realized I didn't see Edward anywhere. Nobody seemed to notice us much, and Alice was pouting in the corner while watching Jasper make-out with the pretty girl on the couch, so I stepped outside and looked around the floor.

I peeked into the first room, which was empty. I saw a green hoodie on the floor that I knew was Jasper's and figured it was his bedroom. There was a guitar and a lot of clothes on the floor, but nothing too interesting, so I continued my search. I looked into the second room and blushed, seeing the tangle of limbs on the bed. There was a sigh and a moan, and I gasped, feeling embarrassed. I tried to back up, but hit a table with my shoe, causing the lamp on top to topple off.

Edward looked up from the girl, but I could see his hand lingering on the girl's breast, her legs wrapped around his (thankfully) clothed waist.

"Sorry," I mumbled, hurrying back into the common room. I reached down and grabbed Alice's hand, dragging her downstairs before I'd explained. I wasn't sure what was worse: the embarrassment I felt, or the feeling of my hopes being crushed when I'd seen Edward kissing that girl.


"You want me to teach you how to surf?" Edward asked, his eyebrow raised suspiciously. "I thought you hated surfers, and surfing, and all that."

I shook my head. "I don't hate surfing. Alicehates surfing because she got hit on the head with a board the one time she tried it."

Edward gave a small shrug and laughed softly. "It happens. Hazard of the trade."

"So, can you do it?" I asked, my heart beating faster than it needed to, considering I was just asking for surf lessons from a surfer, not a date.

"Yeah, sure. You have a board?"

I looked down at the sand, my pink flip-flops, the chipped purple nail polish on my toes, anywhere but his face. I didn't want to see the look of relief on his face when he found out I didn't have a board and he was off the hook. "Nope."

"S'okay," Edward said with a shy grin. "You can use my old board. You're about the size I was when I was thirteen. It should work fine."


He disappeared into the small garage for a few minutes and came out with a green board that was smaller than his usual one. He dropped it down on the sand in front of me, placing his beside it, a few feet away. He had me lay down on the green board like I was paddling.

"Okay, to pop up, it needs to be one, smooth, fast motion," he explained and demonstrated. "Hands by your ribs, pushing straight up. Your front foot needs to go where your belly button was and your back foot just straightens up."

I jumped up, hopefully demonstrating what he'd ask. My triumphant moment was met with a ring of laughter.

"Dude, no," Edward said, pointing down to his feet. "You have to be positioned like me, right in the middle of the board. Towards the back, if anything. If you step up that far to the front of the board, you're going to eat it."

"Oh," I said, blushing and correcting my step. We practiced pop-ups on the beach until I could get the right spot every time. Our skin was beginning to glisten with a fine sheen of sweat from the sweltering summer sun.

"I think you're ready to get in the water now," Edward said, squinting out into the waves. "Let's go."

I tried to be brave as I followed him out, but my heart was pounding and my hands were shaking. I really, really, reallydidn't want to look like an idiot in front of Edward. He showed me how to duck dive as we paddled out so I wouldn't keep getting pushed back by the waves, but I was much slower paddling out than he was.

"Paddle, paddle, paddle," Edward ordered after I positioned myself and the first potential wave came along. I paddled as hard as I could. "Up. Now."

I tried to pop up and promptly fell off the side of my board.

"Nice try," Edward congratulated once I'd located my board and paddled out again. He was sitting on his board, relaxed, a look of amusement on his face. "Now get ready to go again."

It took me sixteen tries until I could stand up, and even then, it was only for a short distance before I wobbled and fell off again.

"You're leaning too far back," Edward said when I'd dragged myself back out for another round. "It's like adding the breaks. If you keep breaking, you lose momentum and stability. Try leaning forward a bit."

I took his advice and made sure I popped up toward the front of the board. The whole thing shifted under my weight and the nose dived beneath the water, flinging me forward and filling my mouth with salt water. I flailed beneath the water until I was yanked up by a strong grip around my waist.

My head broke the surface and I found myself face to face with Edward, who was kind enough to look away while I coughed up sea water.

"I told you you'd eat it if you were too far forward," Edward said softly but his face was kind and his laughter comforting, not mocking.

I relaxed into his grip, treading water gently but relying on the support of his arm around me to keep me afloat. My heart pounded fiercely in my chest and it had nothing to do with my near-death experience.

Edward looked older. He'd grown into his nose, leaving him looking more like a grown man than a boy, though his eyes still twinkled with a youthful mischievousness.

"I think I've had all the surfing I can take for one day," I said, looking longingly at the shore.

"Yeah, we should be heading out anyway. I have a date tonight," Edward grinned.

"Oh?" I asked, trying to sound interested. "With who?"

"This girl, Tanya," he said. He helped me up onto my board and we both paddled back to shore on the waves. It didn't escape me that Edward was being nice and accompanying me, rather than surfing back to shore and leaving me to find my own way back.


"Yeah. My girlfriend," he explained. "You probably saw her around here last year."

A hint of a blush tinted his cheeks and I realized that this was the girl on the bed from last summer. "Yeah, I saw her."

He grabbed his towel from the driftwood on the beach and began to towel off. "Um, if you want to keep practicing you can use that board. Just grab it from the shed whenever you need it and don't be shy about asking for help. Jasper can teach you too."

"Thanks, Edward," I smiled.

He waved before jogging back to his cabin, no doubt to get showered and dressed for his date.

I narrowed my eyes as I saw a girl in a convertible yellow VW bug pull up. Of course the perfect girl would have a cute, girly car.


Alice sat next to me on her recliner, adjusting her teeny bikini so that her tan-lines would match up. "Still no Edward, eh?"

"Nope," I said, hoping my tone wasn't as glum as I felt. "Jasper said that he extended his stay at Tanya's another week. He's not showing up at all this summer."

"Lame," Alice said in sympathy.

"Ladies," Jasper said in greeting before joining us. "How goes it?"

"Speak of the devil," Alice said, her smile beaming from ear to ear. She'd had a crush on him since she was twelve and Jasper had finally noticed. They'd been inseparable for weeks, making me an obvious third wheel without Edward around to even things out. "We were just talking about you and your absentee brother."

Jasper nodded, his blonde hair flopping everywhere. It had gotten way longer than usual this summer. We'd giggled when we'd heard Esme nagging him to cut it every morning for the past few weeks. "All bad things I hope."

"Of course," Alice grinned, giving him a wink. "So, Edward's really not coming this summer?"

"Nope." His demeanour visibly changed when Edward was mentioned, his brow furrowing with a frown. "Tanya's got her claws sunk in him. He hasn't even been surfing this year because she doesn't like the salt water and how it makes his hair all crusty."

"You've got to be kidding me," Alice groaned, patting my leg in sympathy. I'd never told her about my developing crush on Edward, but I think she knew. I think they all knew.

"And he's okay with that?" I asked, my voice pained.

"I don't know," Jasper shrugged. "It's none of my business." He draped an arm around Alice's shoulder. "All I know is that I don't make my brother's mistakes."

They started to get kissy-cuddly and I excused myself, retreating back to the cabin where I could wallow in my singleness alone. The stack of books I'd made my way through this summer was noteworthy – I'd read more books the past couple months than I had for the past five years combined. I picked up my latest book, making a mental note to order a few more to get me through the last few weeks.


On the last night of summer, I crept out of the dark house to get one more look at the ocean, the moon shining silver over the waves. Midnight seemed to be the only time I could be out there and be alone with my thoughts and the beauty of nature. I took a few pictures of the waves breaking beneath the crescent moon, hoping they'd turn out.


I jumped a mile and twisted around so quickly I nearly lost my balance, clutching my chest where my heart was pounding like a jackhammer.

"Sorry, didn't mean to scare you." Edward smiled sheepishly, but the smile faded quickly, leaving him looking broken in the moonlight. I could see glistening streaks down his cheeks, the soft light shining on the tear streaks down his face. He was sitting in the dark, leaning against the deck and hidden in the shadows of the house except for the streak of light across his face and his left knee. His knees were drawn up against his chest and I had to clench my fists by my side to keep from reaching out to him.

"Are you okay?" I asked, edging closer. "I thought you were supposed to be at Tanya's for the summer."

He made a sound in his throat halfway between a laugh and a snort of disgust. "Yeah. Was s'posed to be. We broke up."

I sat down next to him and felt the wooden boards of the porch rail digging into my back. I looked up at the patch of stars and sky visible between the roofs and the palms rather than at Edward's pained face. "Want to talk about it?"

"Not really," he mumbled, exhaling with a deep sigh. "I just want to move on and forget about it."

"Want me to keep you company?"

He sat in silence for a long enough time that I was about to take it as a sign to leave, but just as I shifted to get up, he said, "Sure. I'd like that."

His hand covered my own and I threaded my fingers through his, wishing that this was him genuinely wanting me, and not just the solace and companionship I offered. "You should get inside," he said in a quiet voice. The sky was beginning to lighten in the east and I had to agree.

"Thanks," he said, after we'd stood up and brushed the sand from our legs. He caressed my cheek with his hand and I noticed it was shaking a little. "For everything."

He leaned in, and before I could react, his lips brushed mine, a whisper of a kiss. His lips pressed harder and then pulled away without my getting a chance to respond or kiss back.

"Goodnight, Bella." He leaped over the balcony rail and disappeared inside while I stood outside his house, stunned.

The next morning I searched for him, but he was nowhere to be seen. Carlisle and Esme commented on his absence, explaining to Alice's parents how he'd shown up, broken-hearted, in the middle of the night. Nobody knew what happened between him and Tanya, not even Jasper, and he didn't seem eager to tell.

Jasper kissed Alice goodbye and I heard them whisper 'I love you' before Mr Brandon urged us into the backseat of his black SUV.

Edward never showed.


The music thrummed around me and I moved my body to the music, not even stopping when I took a sip of my beer. I just wanted to dance, to feel the rhythm course through my veins.

"I think you've had enough," Alice said, trying to pull the beer bottle away from me. I pulled it back and succeeded in keeping the bottle, but I also ended up with beer all down the front of my shirt. "Now look what you've done."

"What I've done?" I argued, trying to stumble away from her. "Look what you'vedone."

Strong hands grabbed my shoulders and steered me through the crush of people and out into the open air. I gasped for air as though I'd been held under water and finally been pulled to the surface. I turned to face my captor-rescuer, and wobbled a bit, unable to really find my grounding.

"What are you doing, Bella?" the man demanded. I peered into his face, willing it to come in to focus and detected a pair of angry, olive-coloured eyes, and strands of messy auburn hair.

"Edward," I said, greeting him with a surly nod of my head. I tried to leave but he stopped me. He held tight onto my shoulder, knowing I'd attempt to escape if he didn't.

His eyes burned into mine, keeping hold of my attention even though I was reluctant to give it. "What are you doing?" he repeated.

"Don't act like you care," I growled. "Leave me alone."

I tried to brush past him, but he held me still. He moved closer in, his face only inches from mine. "Of course I care, Bella. You've been drinking away your whole summer. You just sit in your room sulking, or search for your own personal oblivion at these parties. What's going on with you? Why are you doing this to yourself?"

"Youare what's going on with me, Edward Anthony Masen Cullen. You are what's wrong." I levelled him with a glare, but he wasn't one to be intimidated. He just glared right back. "Everything I'm doing is to avoid you. I didn't even want to come this summer, all right?"

He looked stunned; his eyes widened as I threw my accusations at him. I could see the hurt in his eyes, but I didn't care because he still didn't understand how much he'd hurt me. "What did I do?" He asked, his confusion clear on his face.

I lowered my voice and spoke between clenched teeth. "You kissed me. You kissed me and then left like it was nothing and didn't even say goodbye to me. Then I come back and you act like it never happened, like I don't even exist." I raised my beer bottle so he could see it. "I wasn't like this all summer, you know. I wasn't drinking away anything until you kept ignoring me and pretending you didn't kiss me. I wasn't drinking until it was obvious I meant nothing to you."

"That's not true," Edward said, each word slow and pronounced in opposition to my torrent of words. "Of course you mean something to me."

"Oh really?" I asked, narrowing my eyes. "Prove it."

"Not when you're like this," he muttered. He finally released my arms and I clenched them by my sides, debating whether or not to punch him in celebration of my new-found mobility.

"Why not?"

"Because I'm not going to tell you how I feel about you when you're drunk, okay?"

My tirade stopped dead in its tracks, my anger evaporated in an instant. "How do you feel about me?"

"I told you I wasn't going to get into this now." He ran a hand through his hair – his trademark move of frustration.

I dropped my beer bottle, kicking it aside, and let my Drunk Bella act drop. My balance became perfect, the slur disappeared from my speech, and my eyesight was perfect. "You need to tell me how you feel about me," I said, my words slow, even, and perfectly sober.

"I knew it was an act," he said, studying me so carefully I felt like the words of my heart were tattooed on my skin for him to see.

"Tell me."

"I like you, Bella," he admitted, exhaling deeply and leaning up against the railing. It was the same rail he'd kissed me at the summer before. "A lot."

I pressed my lips in a straight line, forcing myself to stay quiet until I got my mind sorted out. "So you ignored me all summer because you're in like with me?"

"Something like that," Edward muttered, embarrassed. "I didn't know if you would be into it. You didn't say anything about the kiss either and then you shut yourself away all summer. What was I supposed to think?"

"You're a fool," I said, shaking my head in disbelief. "I'm a fool, you're a fool, and this is the stupidest, most fucked up situation for no reason."

I don't know who moved first, whether it was him, or me, or both of us moving at the same time. It didn't matter. All that mattered was his lips crashing against mine, rough and needing, so full of desire it hurt. My hand fisted in his shirt and I pulled him closer. He responded by weaving his fingers through my hair.

When we pulled apart we were both breathing heavily with bee-stung lips, flushed cheeks, and chaotic hair. I continued to clench his shirt in my fist, unwilling to give him up. He kissed me gently on my forehead, my cheeks, and the tip of my nose in stark contrast to the heat that came before.

"Will you?" he asked, his hands roaming down my body until they gripped my belt-loops, pulling me closer to him.

"Will I what?" I hedged, keeping my voice coy though I was curious what he wanted from me.

"Will you be my girlfriend?" Edward continued. He kissed me gently on the lips before I could answer. "Please, Bella. Be my girlfriend?"

"Well it's about time," I said, smiling into his mouth. I let myself fall prey to his kisses and caresses.

I only wished we'd figured this out sooner. Two weeks was hardly enough time to enjoy the rest of summer.


I climbed up the trellis on the side of the house as carefully as I could, making sure each step was calculated and silent. It seemed to take forever, but I eventually got onto the ledge of roof that led to the window. It was open about an inch, so I slid my fingers into the space and lifted it higher until I could fit through the window. I lowered my foot to the floor, making sure there weren't any squeaking floorboards before putting my full weight on it and bringing my other leg inside the window.

My eyes adjusted to the darkness, and I located the bed, the dark form huddled beneath the covers.


He was sound asleep when I arrived at his bedside, his hair splayed about his face like a lion's mane, his lips slightly parted, and his breaths even. He looked so beautiful and innocent that I almost backed out.


The image that burned in my mind from this morning stopped me from leaving. Edward had stepped out of the sea as though he'd ruled it. He was Poseidon. His skin golden and sun-kissed, his hair streaked with bronze and copper, and his shorts low on his hips show-casing the sexy v-shape that disappeared beneath the waist-band. Over the winter he'd filled out, his lean, wiry frame now lithe and muscular. There were no more knobby knees or rib bones that stuck out too much. He was perfect.

He was lying flat on his back, his face turned slightly to the side so I climbed onto his bed, careful not to disturb him, and straddled his waist. His body jerked as his alertness returned and I let out a squeak as he grabbed hold of me and flattened me to the bed, holding me down with his arm braced across my chest.

"Edward! It's me," I whispered.

"Bella?" He asked, his voice tinged with confusion. I could feel his heart hammering in his chest from the adrenaline rushing through his veins. "What are you doing here? Christ, you scared me."

"I wanted to see you. Here. In your room," I said softly.

"Oh," he whispered and I could tell the realization of what I was doing had dawned on him. He readjusted himself so that he was still on top of me, but he was no longer holding me down. Instead he braced his arms on either side of me so that he was holding himself up.

I shifted beneath him and blushed when I came to a startling realization. "Since when do you sleep naked?"

"I wasn't expecting company," he mumbled. I laughed and pulled his face closer for a kiss.

Our kisses were slow and luxurious, neither one of us rushing forward. We didn't need to rush. It was just this moment, just us, and it would be perfect. My body ached for him and I sighed in contentment as his fingers grazed my stomach, slipping beneath the hem of my tank top. His hand inched its way up my shirt, tantalizingly slow, and he smiled against my lips when he discovered the surprise I'd left for him.

"You're not wearing a bra," he mumbled, taking full advantage of the situation as he palmed my breast, his thumb circling my nipple. He let out a low groan and his hips ground into mine with a little more urgency.

"I thought it would be counter-productive," I murmured in response. I sat up slightly to help him as he pulled my shirt free.

"Mmm," he groaned, lowering himself so he could kiss his way down my neck, across my collar bone, and at last my breasts. His tongue swirled languorously around them, teasing them until my nipples were hard and I ached for more. I wriggled my hips against his, suggestively, reminding him that I had a purpose. I could feel his hardness against my leg. I'm sure he didn't need too much reminding. I shivered with the realization that it was just himagainst me – the only barriers were my thin cotton pyjama shorts and the insubstantial piece of dampened lace that covered my most intimate parts.

I couldn't help but giggle as Edward kissed a trail from my breasts to my hip bones, his hands grazing over the span of exposed skin. His tongue flicked out, lapping at the spot above my right hip that he tickled with his kisses, causing me to giggle again.

"Stop," I said, my words hushed in the soft light of morning. "I'm ticklish."

He touched the spot again with his tongue and his lips. "I know." He kissed it again as his fingers hooked beneath the band of both my shorts and underwear. He shifted his weight away from me and I lifted my hips so he could pull my clothing off, leaving me naked beneath him. He stopped his assault of kisses then, allowing himself to gaze upon my body. I saw his eyes widen as he took in my exposed sex. "You're bare?"

"It's bikini season," I said with a shrug, though I could feel my cheeks flush at the intensity of his gaze.

It was as if a damn had broken as he crushed himself into me, letting the length of his hardness slide against me where I needed him most. I wrapped my legs around him to increase the friction as he kissed me fiercely, every ounce of wanting magnified with every touch of lips, and hands, and skin.

He pulled away for a moment and started fumbling in his night table drawer for a painfully long time until, at last, he located the box he was looking for. He tore it open and grabbed a little foil packet which he opened after a few seconds of struggle. I watched him closely as he rolled on the condom with shaking, fumbling hands, and after an eternity, he was ready.

"If you want to stop, you have to tell me now," he said, with heavy breath and strained voice. "I can't stop after this."

"I don't want you to stop," I assured him, and guided him back to me.

He slid against me – once, twice – before positioning himself at the entrance. With one strong thrust, he pushed his way in and I hissed in pain at the tight, pinching-stretching sensation as he entered me.

"Are you okay?" He asked. His whole body was tensed and ready and I could tell he desperately wanted to move but was holding himself back for me. I shifted my hips, trying to get comfortable as I waited for my body to adjust. I could feel him move inside me, just a bit, as my movements stirred him.

"Christ, Bella," he groaned. I wrapped my legs tighter around him and pushed at the back of his thighs with my heels, urging him to move. He did, and he began to roll his hips against me, his motions smooth but hesitant as he judged my reactions.

Quickly our motions became frantic and I could feel him getting closer, his whole body rigid with the need to release. I wasn't close, but it didn't matter. My whole body was strung out with an overwhelming flood of emotion and intensity. It was perfect. This was perfect.

Edward let out a small cry and collapsed on top of me and I held him tight, placing the lightest of kisses along his neck and his shoulders.

After a moment to regroup, he pulled himself off me and cleaned up before climbing back into the bed.

"Did you get to-?" he asked. I shook my head, but smiled. "Sorry."

"Don't be sorry," I whispered. "I wasn't expecting to be able to my first time."

"Did it hurt?"

I shrugged my shoulders. "A little."

He pulled me against him so that the length of my back fit perfectly to the shape of his front, and he wrapped his arms around me, holding me tight. His nose grazed the bottom of my jaw beneath my ear and he left a trail of kisses down my neck. "It'll be better next time. I promise."


The next morning, I awoke to the early light of day and blinked sleepily, ignoring the throbbing ache between my legs. I smiled as I felt the arm Edward had draped over my torso react to my stirrings and pull me tighter to him.

"Morning," I said, twisting so we were face to face.

He opened his eyes and gave me a sleepy smile. "Morning."

He leaned forward and gave me an affectionate kiss. Then he stretched and groaned, looking toward the clock. "Fuck. It's 10:30. How are we going to sneak you out of here?"

"I don't know if we can," I answered. My absence would have surely been noted by Alice at this point. I wondered if she'd managed to cover for me with her parents. "We'll have to play it by ear."

"Right," he nodded.

We reluctantly got out of bed and dressed, both of us sneaking peeks at the other and smiling so much I thought our faces might crack.

I waited for him by his bedroom door. "We'll, we're in this together."

He reached for my hand, lacing his fingers in mine. "I love you, Bella."

"I love you too."


The boat rocked back and forth over the slow, gentle swells in a soothing, relaxing manner. Above us the night sky was dark, dusted with the twinkling layer of stars and lit by a moon that was nearly full. I lay on my back on the floor of the row boat and Edward lay beside me, shoulder-to-shoulder, though he had to drape his legs over the seat board to fit.

"You should switch to UCLA so we can go to school together," Edward said. His fingers traced invisible patterns across the skin of my hand and arm.

I groaned and shook my head. "You should switch to U-Dub. I can't leave Alice."

"And I can't leave Jasper," Edward said with a groan. "And I'm almost done my pre-med program. I can't quit now. They don't really let you transfer at this point."

"We can last another year, I guess," I sighed. "We've done it once. I just wish we could have more than holidays."

With that we continued to watch the stars in silence.



I took a steadying breath, preparing myself for the possible conflict I might be starting. "Was Tanya your first?"

"Tanya?" He asked, sounding surprised. His body tensed next to mine, but I didn't look at him. I focused on the stars, twinkling in the sky above.

"Yeah. Was she your first?" I asked. "That one time I walked in on you guys. You looked pretty... involved."

Edward cleared his throat. "Yeah, well, if you hadn't walked in we might have... but no. I never slept with Tanya. It was one of the reasons she broke up with me."

"She ended it because you wouldn't sleep with her?" I asked, genuinely surprised at his admission. "She was gorgeous. Why didn't you?"

"Because she wasn't the one I wanted," Edward answered, his voice quiet, almost drowned out by the soft lapping of waves against the side of the wooden boat. "I couldn't do it, not when I was thinking of someone else. It wouldn't have been fair."

"Most guys wouldn't have let that stop them," I pointed out.

"I'm not most guys," Edward said, his shoulder bumping mine as he shrugged. "Anyway, she got frustrated. She tried to keep me with her for the whole summer, locked up in her little gilded cage like a pet, but it didn't break me. My stories still revolved around this girl and she couldn't deal, so she left me and sent me home in the middle of the night. I had to take the bus to get into town from her family's estate and then walked the rest of the way home."

"The night I found you?" I asked.

"Yeah," he mumbled. "I still regret how I acted that night. I shouldn't have kissed you when I was such a mess from her."

"I'm glad you did."

"It almost completely fucked up the summer after. It could have ruined summers forever," he said.

"But it didn't."


"Who was the girl?" I asked. "The one that you broke up with Tanya over. Did it not work out? You never brought her around."

I could feel Edward's shoulders shake as he laughed silently. "You're joking right?"


He rolled over, lifting himself up on his arms so he was hovering over me. "It was you, Bella. It was always you." He kissed me gently, ghosting his lips across mine before deepening the kiss. He pulled away and looked into my eyes. "She left me because I was always thinking of you, talking about you. You were my first, Bella. The only one."

"Oh," I said, feeling pleasantly proud of the fact that I was his first – the only girl he'd ever been with.

"You seriously didn't know?" he asked, raising an eyebrow and flashing me a crooked smile.

"Nope," I said, shrugging my shoulders. "I always thought you'd had sex with Tanya."

"Unbelievable," Edward laughed, lowering himself back to the boat so we were shoulder to shoulder again. "I'm slightly mortified. I mean, I came almost the minute I entered you that first time. That's the kind of prowess you thought I'd had as an experienced lover?"

I could help but join in his laughter. "Maybe I thought I was so hot that you just couldn't contain yourself."

"You are," he said, pulling me up on top of him so that I was straddling him, my chest pressed into his. I wrapped my arms around his neck, my fingers twined through his hair, and kissed him.

"I love you," I said softly, my lips hovering just above him so they faintly brushed against them when I spoke.

"I love you, too."

It would be impossible to leave him in the morning when I had to return to my life in Forks.

*~* Twenty-One*~*

"Marry me, Bella. Don't leave me again, I won't do it. I can't. Marry me. Stay with me. Always."

My eyes were wide and my heart pounded incessantly against my ribs as I watched Edward lower himself on both knees before me. I was vaguely aware of Alice and Jasper sitting together on the other side of the bonfire, watching with bated breath.

"But we're so young," I murmured, one hand against my mouth in shock. Edward had grabbed the other one and slipped a delicate, simple solitaire ring onto it. It looked perfect. It fit perfectly.

"I don't care," Edward said, his eyes on the ring on my finger. "I've loved you since I was ten years old, Bella. And every summer I've had to watch you walk away from me, not knowing if you'll ever come back. I won't do it again. I won't watch you leave me."

My legs felt weak and I allowed Edward to pull me to the ground with him, so we were both on our knees, looking at each other eye-to eye.

"Please," he said, his voice soft and pleading. "Marry me. Say you will."

"My parents," I protested half-heartedly.

"You don't need to ask their permission," Edward said, his hands tightening their grip on mine. "I already have."

"You asked my dad?"

"I did."

"And he said yes?" I asked, incredulous.

Edward laughed. "Yeah, he did. I couldn't believe it either."

"When?" I asked, my mind reeling with the emotions and the suddenness of all of this.

"At Christmas when you were at Alice's exchanging gifts," he said, a small smile playing across his lips.

"I thought you were sleeping!"

"Marry me," he said again.

"But –" I started.

"Marry me."

"Edward..." His eyes burned into mine with an intensity I'd never seen before.

"Marry me."

I bit my lip my brow furrowing as I thought about what he was asking – truly allowed myself to hear what he was asking. I couldn't help myself as my lips curled into a smile.



"I will," I said, my voice steady and confident. "I'll marry you."

Edward beamed at me and I heard Alice and Jasper whoop and whistle in the background as he pulled me into a kiss.

"Did it happen? Did he do it?" I heard Esme call from the front porch.

"She said yes!" Jasper called back.

"She said yes," Edward repeated in a whisper, looking at me while the tips of our noses touched.

"She did," I smiled.