Roses cover every single flat surface in the church. White roses, and a few lilies are arranged in tasteful displays of grief and regret. Forks is mourning a hero, and the fact that a whore is all that's left of his legacy. I am that whore, and I'm doing my best to live up to my infamy, walking on three inch stilettos, and slinking along in a tight black dress at my father's funeral. At least the skirt is a "respectable" length, as Jessica put it. She ruined the whole premise of her pretend friendship by crumpling her mouth into a wrinkled line of disapproval, making her look like a fucking muppet. Not like I give two shits about what Jessica - I sucked any cock I could get my mouth on in high school - Stanley thinks. Bitch has no right to give me the hairy eyeball for wearing red lipstick and showing a little cleavage at my father's funeral.

Charlie's dead. I can see his face peeking out of the open casket from where I'm standing in the aisle, but it still doesn't seem to sink in. He doesn't look peaceful or like he's asleep. Charlie looks dead and a little trampy himself. Those douche bags at the funeral home have no clue how to put make-up on a corpse. Fuckers have my father looking like he's the opening act for RuPaul.

I hate this town, hate these fucking people. Every last one of them should line up to eat my shit. I scowl at an old, gray-haired bitch that's shaking her head at me and walk up the front row. As I'm about to take my seat, I notice a single, white Oleander laying in the pew reserved for family. He's here?

There is only one place where you can find Oleander in the middle of winter. Esme Cullen's climate controlled greenhouse was home to a host of exotic plants, but it was Edward who suggested that she try her hand at growing the beautiful white flower. He did it for me, because I told him it was my favorite plant. I always thought that Oleander showed a truth about life – that beauty is poisonous.

I swivel on one heel scanning the church, and finally catch sight of him standing at the back. Edward is dressed in an expensive black suit. I bet his snotty little sister had it tailored to fit him. He smiles, and even at this distance I can see the lopsided curve of his beautiful lips. I turn back around before I'm tempted to make eye contact, pick up the flower, and plop down in the pew. The flower cools my palm and reminds me of how much I still hate Edward Cullen. He is the only boy I've ever loved, and that's not something a girl forgives easily.

I first saw him in science class, sitting like a prince across the room with his blond princess seated beside him. Tanya was gorgeous and captain of the cheer leading squad. She ran a prayer circle after school and was the leader of the Chastity group. She was beautiful, arrogant, and pure as the driven snow. Edward was her perfect match.

It was my first day at Forks High School, the new kid, but not. Everyone knew Chief Swan, and they knew about his daughter, but none of them knew me. Not really. I hated how so many of them gave me fake smiles and offered other gestures of fake friendship, like Jessica Stanley. She was sitting next to me chatting away about some fucking boy band, not even bothering to notice that I wasn't interested.

I glanced around the room, from one stranger to the next. They all ignored me, paying attention to their projects or their partners. I felt lonelier with every passing minute, until I looked at Edward, and discovered he was staring at me. His lips spread into a wide, friendly grin that looked so earnest, like he really meant it. I felt myself smile back, and then he raised his hand to give me a little wave. It was so ridiculously dorky, but at the time it was like a life preserver. I raised my own hand to wave back at him just as Tanya looked over and gave me a bitchy stare.

That's how my reputation got started. I didn't even say a word to Edward, but after that day the rumors were all over school that I was slut, and that I'd fucked over a dozen guys. It turned out that Tanya worked fast churning prize winning bullshit about me, simply because her boyfriend smiled at me.

The worst and best part happened two weeks later when Edward appeared on my doorstep to testify to me personally. He had heard all the horrible rumors and was convinced that he needed to help me. It was his duty as the son of a pastor and a very devout Christian. Edward gave me a bible, gift-wrapped like a fucking present, and invited me to prayer circle. It was ridiculous, and kind of sweet (I thought at the time), so like a lovesick puppy, I went.

It was torture, all of us crammed into the basement of the church with boxes of bibles and old ceramic statues of Jesus piled around us. Tanya and her twit friends were rambling like pious assholes, misquoting the Bible and acting superior. I'd read the bible, a few times, along with the Qur'an, and even the Satanist's bible. Renee, my mother, insisted that I heavily research several religions until she accepted I was an atheist. I held my tongue as long as I could manage, for the sake of Edward. He kept looking at me, and giving me an encouraging smile.

Finally, when Kate misquoted Corinthians for the fifth time, I spoke up.

"Yeah, it's like in Corinthians 13. 'If I speak in the tongues of men and not angels, I do not have love in my heart.' If you don't read the bible, and get the true message of the Lord, you are never going to truly have him in your heart," Kate said with nod and a confident smirk.

Maybe if I hadn't known and really liked that specific passage that she'd just slaughtered, maybe I could have kept my cool, but that was the last fucking straw.

"No!" I stood up, and threw up my arms in frustration. "The passage is actually: 'If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.' It's talking about how words are just noise if you don't mean them. You can claim you're all about God and are a good person, but if you don't feel it in your heart-" I slapped my chest for emphasis, and glared at Tanya as I continued, "and don't live by it each day, then your words are worthless."

I ran out before I could hear their response. I managed to find my way out of the church, before Edward caught up with me. He grabbed my arm and threw me off balance. I spun around, and began to fall backward, luckily he was fast, catching me around the waist. He pulled me close, helping me regain my balance, while also pressing me into his chest. I can still remember the way he smelled, like flowers and cinnamon. It was such a strange combination, but it was also the sexiest thing I had ever smelled in my life.

"Are you okay?" he whispered, still holding me close.

"Yeah, I think." I tilted my head to look up at him and knocked my nose on his chin.

"Sorry," he laughed and leaned back, releasing me from his arms.

Then we stood there for a long awkward minute, while he fiddled with his tie, and I silently wished he would touch me again. I couldn't stop staring at his long fingers and how they slid over the slim black fabric of his tie. It was fucking hypnotizing. Finally, he took a deep breath and spoke.

"I'm sorry about them," he apologized, while scratching the back of his neck, and looked at the ground. "They mean well."

"I'm sure," I mumbled and fought hard to keep from rolling my eyes. "Thanks for the invite, but I don't think I really fit in here."

I gave him my best fake smile and started to leave.

"Bella," he stopped me again, his hand on my wrist. "I really liked what you said back there, about Corinthians. It made a lot of sense."

"Thanks," I said, staring at his long fingers wrapped all the way around my wrist.

"I would love to talk to you about it more some time, if you want," he offered, suddenly sounding shy as he released me. Again, I wished he hadn't.

"Uh, I don't think-" I started to argue; there was no way I was coming back to this bullshit fest.

"Not here with them," he said immediately, shaking his head. "I mean, just you and me, maybe at your house...or the library if you're not comfortable being alone with me."

"No, my place," I replied, a little dumbfounded and completely mortified that the best word I could come up with was "cool." Who was I? What happened to my brain?

"Great," he said, looking like a kid who got a new bike on Christmas morning.

"Bella," Billy's voice startles me as much as his touch on my arm. I immediately turn to see him parked in the aisle next to me with a sympathetic smile.

I should have expected the sudden overwhelming well of emotions that are filling me at the sight of him. He is my father's best friend, and my best friend, Jacob's, dad. It's been years since I've seen him, four to be exact, since Jacob's funeral.

I remember how dazed and lost he looked while Charlie tried to comfort him. Not that there's much you can do to comfort a father when he loses his only son. I understand that now. Jacob was my best friend. I loved him, but my loss paled in comparison to Billy's. It feels like he understands how I feel, like he knows what I'm thinking. I can see it in the way he's looking at me.

"Billy," my voice cracks, and my throat closes, before I can manage to say anything more.

"I know, baby girl," he whispers, leaning over to kiss my cheek, and wipes the tears that are already sliding down my face. "It's good to have you home."

His words shred away the last of my resistance, and I began to cry in earnest. I lean forward, pressing my chest to my legs, and let it come out while Billy holds onto my hand.

I manage to collect myself as the funeral service starts and people settle into their seats. Billy stays beside me, despite people staring at his wheel chair being parked in the main aisle. I'm about to start screaming at them, when Edward appears in front of us, leaning over to offer his hand to Billy.

"Mr. Black, it's a pleasure to see you again," Edward says, as they shake hands.

His smile is the same, so beautiful, and open, even after all these years. It makes me want to cry, but I just turn my head while they exchange pleasantries. I only need to keep breathing, to hold myself together until this is all over. Then I can get drunk and forget about everything.

"Bella," Edward's voice is like a magnet, drawing my attention back to his face.

He looks like he wants to say something, but he just stares at me with his lips pressed together in a frown. His hand hovers in front of my face for a few minutes before I realize that he wants me to shake it. I can't bring myself to do anything other than stare at his long fingers and remember how they felt on my skin. The memory flashes in my mind, of Edward's face so close that I could only really focus on his eyes, while his fingers slid inside of me. His panting breath and way his whole body seemed to tremble when he described how it felt to touch me.

I shake my head to rid myself of the image, and he took it as a dismissal, turning away to walk up to the podium. He takes his position, pressing his palms to the wood of the podium, and wrapping his fingers over the edge. I wonder if he looks this regal when he gives the Sunday sermons.

The afternoon sunlight is streaming through gold-tinted windows behind him, making his hair shimmer a little, and surrounding him in a soft glow. He tilts his head up, scanning the entire room with his eyes, and the silence deepens, until all I can hear is my own breathing. Edward's always had this effect on people, even when we were young. It's not just his looks. There's something about him that's different, almost compelling. No matter where he is, or what's going on, he's the center of attention. Even now, when my hate is still burning up inside, I can't take my eyes off of him.

"To say I was surprised when I found out Charlie had requested I perform his eulogy would be an understatement, but I would never dishonor his memory by refusing his wishes. Truly, when could any of us refuse Charlie?" He smiles, his eyes downcast as if he's remembering something.

There's a smattering of quiet laughter, confirming what I've always known. My father was deeply loved and respected by this community. As much as I hate this shitty little town, it was my father's home, and the people here loved him.

"Someone once told me that the true measure of a man is not in his words but in his actions," Edward's words are like a lighting bolt striking me in the chest, because they're my words.

I spat them at him as I slammed the door to my trunk in his face and drove away from Forks.

Edward's gaze stops on me, pausing for a second, and a single tear slides down his cheek, before he looks away.

"Charlie was a man of few words but many great actions. He was a devoted father, a pillar of the community, and a friend to anyone in need." Edward continued to speak, not bothering to wipe away the tears that slowly streamed down his face, as he went on about my father like he loved him. It was a great show; I almost believed it, but I knew the truth. If there was one person that Edward hated more than me, it was my father.

I'm drunk. It's not hard to tell when you have to take off your shoes and practically crawl up the stairs to keep from falling over. I have the ankle straps of my stilettos between my teeth, and my purse slung around my neck. Not my best night, but I've got an excuse. I buried my father today and had to confront the man that broke my fucking heart while I did it. No one should finish a day like this sober.

The roof hatch gives a rusty squeal of protest but opens without too much shoving. I roll out onto the roof of the church, and the wind blows in my face, making me shiver. It was dumb to leave my coat in the car, but there was no way I was going back for it now. Serves me right if I freeze my ass off up here. They'll find me like some dead bum, curled up around the bottle of whisky that I brought with me.

As soon as I remember the bottle, I yank my purse from around my neck and open it to get the booze. There is at least a half of it left, and I intend to drink it all before I pass out. It's good to have goals. I twist off the cap and throw it over the edge of the roof for a bit of petty satisfaction. Once it flies out of sight, I put the bottle to my lips and take a drink. It burns the whole way down, and sends a wave of revulsion through my entire body. I fight the urge to hurl, and it obliges me by passing quickly.

The roof scratches at my skin like sandpaper, but I'm too lazy and too drunk to move. I look up at the sky wanting to see the stars, but all I see is black. Figures.

"That can't be comfortable," Edward's voice is an unwelcome, but not surprising disturbance.

He has been tailing me ever since I left the grave site service. Like there's another silver Volvo in this town. It was easy to spot outside of the liquor store and in the all but empty parking lot of the church.

"Aren't you ruining the whole mystique of stalking by actually talking to me," I reply, and attempt to take another drink of whisky, but end up spilling some on myself. "Fuck!"

I sit up, trying to wipe myself off, when he kneels down beside me and offers me a handkerchief. Leave it to Edward to be the only person under eighty to carry a handkerchief. I laugh, taking it from him, and clean myself up, before tossing it back in his face.

Edward tucks it back into his pocket, and continues to frown at me. I can feel his judgement like a weight on my shoulders. It makes me angry. He has no right judging me.

"Bet you're thanking your lucky stars you dumped me when you did," I sneer, taking another gulp of whisky, and turn my face away so he can't see me choke it down.

"Do you really want to talk about that tonight?" He carefully removes his long overcoat and lays it down beside me.

"No, I want you to leave me the fuck alone," I reply, shifting my ass over the sandpaper roof in an effort to turn my back to him. "Ouch."

"Stubborn as ever," he grumbles, sits down behind me, takes hold of my waist, and pulls me onto his coat. "See, now isn't that more comfortable?" He tries to brush my hair away from my face, but I quickly slap his hand away. It's too much, reminds me of the boy that used to do that when I was studying. I close my eyes, trying to banish the memories that have come to flood my mind since I set foot back in this shitty little town.

Edward and I only attempted to study at my house once. Charlie hovered in the kitchen the entire time; getting countless cups of coffee, attempting to wash dishes. He even pretended there was a leak in the sink that he just had to fix that very minute. My father's overprotective streak was obvious to even Edward, who suggested that we meet at the library after that.

I thought we were going to just meet like once a week to talk about bible stuff, but it quickly became clear that Edward Cullen wasn't at all who I thought he was.

"Dorothy Parker? Really?" I exclaimed, leaning back so far that I almost fell over, but Edward quickly caught my chair and shushed me.

This all started when I reminded him that he had actually gotten two speeding tickets in the last year. The only reason I remember is because my dad is the chief of police and won't let me get rides from Edward because of his "questionable driving." Edward made a face and mumbled, "Elephants and women never forget."

I asked if he was calling me an elephant. He laughed, shaking his head, and told me it was a quote from one of his favorite poets. When I asked who it was he surprised the hell out of me by saying Dorothy Parker.

"Mrs. Cope is looking at us." He quickly ducked his head down and gestured for me to do the same.

"Stop changing the subject," I hissed, but lowered my voice and my head.

Edward got this shy smile on his face that made him look sweet and kind of sexy. Okay, really sexy. He shook his head and reached into his backpack to pull out a book.

"I had to drive to Port Angeles to get it," he confessed, looking way too guilty for buying a book of poetry, and slid it over to me.

"Do you keep it under you mattress, like a Playboy?" I chuckled and took the book.

"I keep those in the garden shed," he replied and rolled his eyes.

I looked at him for a moment, unsure if he was joking about the Playboys or not. He just smirked and tapped the cover of the book with his index finger.

I carefully opened it and looked at the picture of a sad woman. All I knew about Dorothy Parker is what I saw in a movie once. She was cynical, depressed and slept with a lot of men. Also, she was in love with her oblivious best friend.

I glanced at Edward, his expectant smile made my heart contract a little bit. Of course I had a crush on him. He was kind, intelligent and gorgeous. Who was I? A cynical dumb ass that is crushing on him so hard that I met him every day after school at the library to talk about God, or at least that's how it started. Soon enough we started talking about books, movies, mythology and everything.

"Page eighty-three," he whispered, reaching his hand out, tapping my knuckle with one of his long fingers.

"Bossy much?" I grumbled, trying to cover how that small touch gave me a full-body shiver.

Edward played the piano and guitar. His fingers were strong and skillful. I had very embarrassing dreams about his fingers. I was going to hell for sure.

"Read," he commanded with a hushed laugh.

I flipped to the page and saw a poem called A Certain Lady. It read like a two paragraph description of how I felt about him - - how I tried to pretend that we're friends, smiled and laughed at his jokes, but when I got home I wanted to cry. Whenever we weren't together I felt pathetic and stupid. I hate myself for being so hopelessly in love with a boy that didn't even see me that way. It's ten times worse when I saw him with Tanya.

"You don't like it," he said, sounding defeated. I immediately looked up to confirm that he was frowning.

"No, it's just...sad," I replied lamely and shrugged. "She seems so depressed."

"That's because she was," he sighed and took back the book with this forlorn look on his face.

"I'm sorry," I mumbled, feeling like I had fucked up.

"For what?" He turned to tuck the book back into his backpack.

"I seem upset." I took a chance and touched his arm.

Even through the thick cotton of his button-up shirt, I could feel his body below. He felt solid and real. It freaked me out a little and I pulled back my hand. Edward looked at me, his expression was a mixture of discomfort and hope. We sat in silence for a few minutes, and just when I was about to make up a lame excuse to leave, he finally spoke.

"I guess I can kind of relate," he said, looking like he was struggling to find the right words. "I feel like I'm always trying to be everything for everyone. So much so that after awhile it feels false, like I'm pretending. Sometimes it is the hardest thing in the word to smile and mean it."

I stared at him for a second. Edward had never said anything like that to me before, and I didn't really know how to react at first. Finally, I swallowed and tried to speak.

"You don't have to do that with me. I don't mind if you don't smile," I tried to reassure him and said a silent goodbye to his beautiful smile.

He smiled, looking a little cynical but also a little pleased. Then he reached out his hand and touched my cheek. My heart wanted to explode, and I felt actual wetness between my legs. I was equal parts rapture and mortification as Edward leaned so close to me that I was sure he was going to kiss me.

"I've had to pretend the most with you, Isabella," he whispered and brushed his lips against me earlobe.

Before I could even begin to react he stood up, slung his backpack onto his shoulder, and said goodbye. I watched in stunned silence while he walked out of the library.

"Penny for your thoughts," he chimes in, giving me that fucking smile that used to make me whimper and dampen my panties.

"Are you implying that I'm cheap?" I counter and try to take another drink off the bottle, but he yanks the bottle away. "Hey!"

"Why yes, I would love a drink," he says with a wink, taking a sizable gulp of whisky.

I watch him closely, taking petty delight in the way his face twists and then swallows with disgust.

"Not a big drinker? I never would have guessed." I chuckle and snatch back the bottle to take a drink, while he coughs.

"I take it back, you are cheap. What did you pay for this lighter fluid?" He makes a sour face and wipes his mouth with the back of his hand.

"Should of known you couldn't handle your booze," I remark, lifting the bottle to take another drink.

"Is this all we have to say to each other?" Edward stares at his shoes and wipes his hands over his face.

His expression is somber and maybe a little sad. It's hard to tell with his hair falling over his eyes. I reach out to brush it away before I realize what I'm doing, and he immediately captures my wrist in a strong grip. He raises his eyes to look at me, and the years fall away in an instant.

"I've missed you." His voice is so soft that I almost don't hear him, but I do, and I wish I hadn't.

"Please don't!" My own voice is strangled and pathetic.

I try to pull my hand back, but he won't let go. He tightens his grip, and practically drags me across his coat to wrap me in his arms. It's too close; his arms feel too good. My anger is starting to dissipate in the face of his sparkling eyes and warm smile.

"I let you go once, and I'm not going to make that mistake again," he whispers against my lips, and I moan, a long, low, pleading sound that leaves my mouth open to him.

His tongue slides past my lips, and shows me just how much he has learned since those clumsy nights of our youth. Edward is making love to my mouth, while his arms hold me against his chest, and my heart threatens to explode. I can't take it. It is overloading my senses, and it feels like he is killing me.

I push against his chest, breaking the kiss, and turn my head so he can't see the tears. Years, so many years I've wished and dreamed like a silly, little girl for him to kiss me again. Now, that it is happening all I want is for him to stop.

"Bella," he pleads, like I'm the one being cruel.

"No!" I yell, shaking my head, and keep fighting his hold. "You can't do this, not after everything that's happened."

Edward stood on the other side of the screen door, but he might as well have been on the other side of the world. He glared at me like he was the one that had "Jezebel" spray-painted across the side of his truck. I knew that it couldn't last forever, the happy little bubble we were in was going to pop. Too bad it had to happen this way.

"Is it true?" He didn't even say hi, didn't even ask if I was okay.

I was sure that Jessica took great joy in telling him how she saw me at Planned Parenthood. There were only two reason girls from Forks went to the Planned Parenthood in Port Angeles. One was to get birth control pills, something I should have done. The other was to get an abortion, which is what I did. The procedure left me weak and a little shaky. Luckily, my dad had been there to help me, but even he couldn't protect me from Jessica's mouth.

"Yes," I answered, angry that he assumed the worst of me.

Without another word he turned and walked toward his car. I was furious, and heartbroken. How could he treat me like this, after everything he said to me? He told me he loved me. I charged after him and grabbed the back of his shirt in my fist.

"Is that all you have to say to me?" I yelled, trying to stop him, and force him to look at me.

He turned around and slapped my hand away. His face was flushed with anger, and tears were streaming down his face. I had never seen him look like that.

"You killed our child! There is nothing else to say!" he screamed at me.

That's not what I heard. In my mind I heard all the words he wasn't saying out loud: whore, slut, sinner and the millions of other words I hurled at myself. It was ridiculous. I didn't fuck myself. He was there too. It was just once, and it was our first time; it was enough to get me pregnant. I was so scared and confused. We weren't even officially dating. Sure, he broke up with Tanya, but no one knew we were together. It was a secret, and it made me feel dirty.

I could have told him it was a tubal pregnancy, that I had to get the abortion or I could have died, but I know the Church's stance on it. No matter my reasons, I took a life. I'm a sinner in Edward's eyes. Those same beautiful green eyes that used to make my heart skip a beat were glaring at me.

"I guess you're right," I muttered, stepping back to wrap my arms around myself.

He looked so utterly broken. His clothes were disheveled, his hair was an even bigger mess than usual, and his face was splotchy. I didn't know what to say or do.

"Why didn't you tell me?" He took a step toward me and put his hands on my shoulders.

"It was...I was scared," I stuttered, staggered backward, and lost my balance.

I tumbled to the ground, landing hard on my ass, and let out a shriek of pain. My body was still sore and cramping from the procedure. Even minor things like stumbling seemed to hurt more. The pain eased quickly, but the damage was already done.

Before, I could get to my feet Charlie emerged from the house. I thought he was still upstairs putting away his laundry, but he must have been watching from a window. As soon he reached Edward he had the handcuffs out. In a matter of seconds my father slammed him against the side of his squad car and cuffed him.

I tried to explain, but Charlie refused to listen. He shoved Edward into the back of his car and picked up his radio to call it in. My father had Edward charged with felony assault, but the Cullens' fancy lawyer had it knocked down to a misdemeanor, and he was given two years probation.

Edward made it out easy, however, I was branded a slut and a liar. After all, no one could believe that the sweet, kind-hearted son of a pastor could lift a finger to harm any of God's creatures. My tires were slashed three times, and I got threatening notes in my locker on a daily basis. The school faculty was no help. All the teachers and staff loved Edward and subsequently hated me too. I finally decided to leave Forks after I was cornered by Royce King, the star quarterback and another favored son of Forks. Luckily his girlfriend, Rosalie, showed up before he got physical, but his message was clear; "Leave town or end up dead or something worse." I had seen Rosalie show up to school with extra layers of make up and heard stories about what happened at certain post-game parties enough times to know what could be worse than death.

Edward showed up at my house on the day I left for Florida. He insisted that we needed to talk, even claimed he loved me, but it was too late. I was done with his shit and Forks all together.

"I was confused and angry," he tries to apologize, but I've heard it all before.

"And I wasn't? Do you think what I did was easy?" I scream, finally breaking his hold and scrambling to my feet. "I left the state, Edward. I went back to my mother! The last place on the earth I wanted to be, but I did it to get away from you and this fucking town."

"I know," he says, standing up to walk toward me. "I wish I could take it all back. I'm sorry for everything that happened and especially for all the cruel things I said. It wasn't fair; there's no reason you should forgive me, but I'm asking you to please try." He quickly closes the distance between us and tries to kiss me again.

"Don't," I beg, putting up my hand, but he catches it and places his hand against my cheek.

"I never stopped loving you," he says, brushing his finger tips along my chin.

"Liar," I choke out, but it was too late. He had wormed his way under my skin.

I lean forward and allow him to kiss me again. This time I don't fight or hold back. I allow myself to live the fantasy that has haunted me for all the years since I left Forks. He is saying everything I've wanted to hear. God, if only it were true.

Edward's lips move over mine with practiced ease, erasing all memory of the clumsy boy that had seduced me on this very roof top all those years ago. It's like a dream, except for the cold, and I'm still a little dizzy from the booze. Edward somehow makes it okay. He strokes my cheek with tips of his fingers, warming my skin and making me ache.

"My Isabella," he whispers against my ear, despite the affection in his tone, his words sting me.

A week after the incident at the library, Edward broke up with Tanya and then asked me to be his girlfriend. Sure, he asked that we keep our relationship secret at first, just until he could tell his parents. Apparently, they were having a hard time getting over his break up with Tanya, because they really liked her. No accounting for taste.

I didn't care. It didn't matter how we got here, just that we were finally together. While we had to spend time together in secret, every stolen moment we had was precious to me. At first, all we had was our bible study sessions, but soon enough, Edward figured out how to climb the tree outside my bedroom and began to visit me at night. It was really sweet, but also kind of scary to watch him scramble up the tree and crawl across the thin branch that extended to my window. I was sure he was going fall and break his neck, but luckily he didn't.

He would slip into my room, silent as a church mouse, and slide into bed with me. We would talk in whispers and kiss softly, closed-mouth at first. Then, I grew bold, and Edward eagerly accepted my first attempt at a french kiss. I sucked pretty bad, but he said that it was still very arousing. I couldn't help but laugh at the old fashioned way he talked sometimes. He quickly stifled my laughter with his tongue and spent the rest of that night teaching me how to french kiss properly.

Soon enough we were having regular make out sessions, with our clothes on, of course. Though, I was in my underwear and night shirt. Edward kept his jeans on, but would occasionally remove his shirt when I asked. I loved the feel of his bare skin against my lips. The first time I kissed his exposed nipple I swear he jumped three feet off the bed. Then he got dressed, insisting he should go home before things went too far, but he came back the next night.

Each time I pushed him a little further, sure that he would eventually put his foot down and insist that we wait. Edward was usually so restrained, but when were alone at night I saw a different side of him. Edward was passionate and kind of nasty. He would let out these quiet but deep groans when I kissed his chest, and he sometimes would ask to touch me under my clothes. I loved it.

The first time he slipped his hand into my underwear and touched me, I nearly screamed it felt so good. His fingers seemed magical. No matter how he moved them it felt amazing, and so much better than when I was touching myself. Only after a few minutes of Edward clumsily rubbing my clit and slipping his finger inside me, I had my first orgasm. Up until that point I had tried to masturbate, with a mother like Renee I learned pretty early about that kind of thing, but I never really got it. I would lay there and try stuff but it didn't seem to do anything. It felt odd and uncomfortable. After trying it for a few minutes I would get bored, and read.

That first orgasm with Edward was so intense it made me cry. I was in awe, and I think he was too, judging by the way he stared at me after I stopped shaking. After that night he wanted to touch me there every night. He would tell me how amazing my skin felt and how beautiful I looked when he touched me. Edward said that he loved to make me cum, his word, not mine.

Now, we hadn't decided to go all the way yet, but I could feel it hanging above our heads. I wanted it, a lot, but wasn't about to tell Edward that. We didn't talk about it or our other activities. It seemed like there was a separation between his night time visitations and when we saw each other in the day time. Not that I minded. We were together, and Edward said that he was going to tell his parents soon. I was sure it would be today, after all it was my birthday.

Edward sat on the piano bench and looked up at me with an expectant expression. I didn't know what to say. This night was everything I dreamed it would be. It was perfect. Edward had taken me to a little Italian restaurant in Port Angeles, bought me flowers, and even snuck a bottle of champagne from his parents' liquor cabinet to celebrate. I was already a little dizzy from the champagne and Edward constantly kissing me. It was overwhelming and amazing.

"Are you okay?" He touched my wrist, and I allowed myself to enjoy the feeling of his touch.

"I think the champagne is getting to me a little," I confessed and sat down beside him on the bench.

"That's understandable," he said, brushing my hair over my shoulder and kissing my forehead. "How about we get some air?"

I nodded, and he lead me out of the rectory toward the back of the church. We made it to the roof in no time, and I was standing in the cool spring night with Edward standing beside me. His fingers were intertwined with mine. The night sky was bright with a million stars, and I couldn't help but stare at the sky, my mouth open with wonder.

"It's gorgeous," I whispered, finally tearing my eyes away to look at him.

"Yes, you are," he said, stepping closer, and pulling me into his body.

The feel of him so close, his lips and hands on my body was almost too much. Edward was kissing and touching me. It wasn't perfect. Our teeth knocked together, his grip on my hips was a little tight, but I didn't care. Edward was touching me, wanting me. That felt like perfect to me.

Our kisses and touching became more frantic, and soon enough I was laying on a small blanket he had laid out ahead of time. I knocked over a vase of flowers he had place in the center for me. Edward always loved to make these old fashioned gestures, and I didn't mind. It just helped to prove how much he wanted me. Not that breaking up Tanya wasn't enough to prove to me how serious he was about me.

"Isabella!" My full name sounded so pretty when he said it in a gasp, but he ruined the effect by leaning back on his heels. "I don't want to push you or pressure you."

I immediately shook my head and sat up. "You're not. You couldn't. Edward, I want this...a lot." I insisted, even as I blushed at the admission.

"Part of me wishes you didn't," he grumbled, combing his fingers through his hair, tugging it at the roots.

I pulled my cardigan sweater back over me, covering myself, and tucked my legs under myself. His frustration made me feel weird, like I was being a slut or something, even though I knew I wasn't. Hell, I was a virgin and had only every kissed one other boy. That barely counted since he was a friend, and we were like ten at the time.

"I'm sorry," I whispered, feeling cold and a little lost.

It was the most ridiculous thing for me to say, but at that moment all I wanted was for Edward to look at me. I didn't do anything wrong, but somehow in the back of my mind I could hear all those stupid bitches from bible study calling me a whore. It was stupid and insane, but it made a fucked-up kind of sense. I looked at Edward and thought about how much he had changed, because of me. Maybe there was something wrong with me for wanting us to go further. It was hard not to feel wrong when he looked so tormented.

His hands fell from his face to reveal a sad smile. Edward looked so beautiful even when he was sad, maybe more because of it. I couldn't resist trying to touch him, my finger tips brushing his wrist. He didn't move, just looked down at my hand on his skin.

"How can something so small feel so overwhelming?" He spoke in a tone of awe and raised his eyes to meet mine.

"I don't know," I confessed, trying to pull my hand away but he stopped me.

His hand wrapped around my wrist, and he pulled me into his lap. We were kissing again, and it was even more intense than a few moments earlier. He was touching me everywhere and pushing me back down on the blanket. I wrapped my legs around his waist and gazed up at the stars.

It was as if someone had stuck pinholes in the sky, letting tiny bits of light escape. Edward was kissing my face, and his hand was sliding between my legs. He confessed he had never had sex before, and I told him I was a virgin ,too.

"Thank you for waiting for me," he whispered in my ear, while he pushed my underwear off my hips, and moved back so I could pull them off.

The chilly air made me feel like I was completely naked, and in a way I guess I was. Edward laid back between my legs. His pants were already unbuttoned, and he was pushing them down. The sight of his red plaid boxer shorts sliding off his hips made me shiver and look away. I could feel the warm skin of his hips against my inner thigh, and his hand brushed me.

"Edward," I gasped, suddenly freaked by what was going to happen.

It's going to hurt. Everyone says it hurts. I didn't want to cry. He would feel worse, and I would feel like an idiot. Would he stop if I cried? Would that mean I was only a half virgin? Can you be only half? Why was I thinking about shit like this when I'm about to have sex for the first time, with Edward?

"Breathe, Bella," he said, kissing my cheek, and reached his hand between us.

I felt his hand against me down there, and I fought hard to keep from scooting back. There's no going back, I told myself. Only, I was so wet and achy. Can you ache in those kinds of places? I guess you could, because as I watched his face become so focused, his hair fell into his eyes, and the ache increased. When I finally felt him pressing against me, he was trembling, and I could see sweat beading just above his upper lip. His mouth was moving slightly, but I couldn't hear any words. Edward was praying? The thought seemed funny to me.

"Are you praying?" The through popped out of my mouth before I could stop it.

Edward looked up at me, through his damp hair, and gave me a little lopsided smile."Maybe."

He closed his eyes, and I felt him begin to press into me. It felt...overwhelming, like he wasn't going to fit, but he did. I shifted my hips, and he sunk in deeper. The pain was sharp, like the sting from slicing my finger on a kitchen knife, only this was inside so it felt ten times worse. I hissed, and he froze. It felt worse, the pain throbbed through me, making me want to push him away.

"Are you okay?" He sounded out of breath, like he'd been running a marathon.

"Don't stop!" I panicked, sure that if he stopped I would shrink up, and he would be stuck. It was crazy, but I was in pain; Edward was inside me. My brain was wheezing and sputtering like a overheated truck. I couldn't focus on anything, but the pain between my legs. I just wanted it gone.

He thrust into me, harder than I was ready for and the pain quadrupled. I screamed into his shoulder, my nails digging into his skin, and tears slipped from the corners of my eyes. It was too much. I didn't know if I could continue, and I felt so ashamed that I couldn't take the pain.

"God, Bella," Edward gasped, and somehow the pain lessened.

"Edward," I managed to not whimper, but the strain was plain in my voice. "Please, keep moving."

I reasoned that if we could just keep moving, if I could focus on him that the pain would lessen or at least I could ignore it. He didn't speak, but he quickly pulled out of me. I felt his absence like a dull, burning ache. Then he was back, thrusting at a frantic pace.

He was breathing heavily, and his fingers gripped my hips so tight it hurt, but his face was entrancing. Edward eyes were closed, his mouth was open slightly. His expression was the same when he prayed. Something about the comparison made me feel special. Like he was feeling something beautiful right now, even though all I could feel was pain.

"I love you," he gasped against my lips, while his hips continued to slam against me, and the first droplet hit my face.

A roar of thunder crackled through the sky above us and signaled the storm seconds before the torrent began to fall. The rain poured over us and seemed to soak through my skin.

"I love you too," I confessed, pressing my face into his neck ,and he thrust into me one last time.

"Please, forgive me," Edward said, cradling my face in his hands and gazed down at me with so much sincerity.

"How?" I wasn't even sure what I was asking. It was too much, his apology, and feeling him against me, so close after all these years. I couldn't make sense of it.

"Say you still love me, too." He looked so hopeful.

"I'm not...I can't..." I choked, pulling his hands from my face and stepping back.

"Please, Isabella," he called out to me, his hands still reaching for me.

"Not again, Edward. It almost killed me the first time. If it -" I stop short, not even able to say it out loud. The thought of having to deal with losing him like that again hurts too much.

"I promise, this time it will be different," he says, slowly stepping closer and giving me reassuring smile.

"How can I be sure?" I shake my head, but I can't bring myself to back away, because some small part of me wants to believe him.

"Have faith, Bella," he says, brushing his hand against my cheek. "If you love me, have faith that we will make it work."

Faith? The word seemed like a distant, long forgotten friend. I close my eyes and try to remember a time when I had it. That optimistic, hopeful girl in my memories looks nice, funny, and happy. It feels like a lifetime ago. I'm so tired of being angry and sick of being heartbroken over Edward.

I open my eyes and gaze up at him. This is Edward, the same beautiful boy that stole my heart all those years ago, but something has changed. He looks so sure, so determined and humble. After all these years he still loves me, and if I'm honest, I still love him, too. It seems impossible and insane; kind of like a miracle. I guess if I was looking for a sign, something to prove I should have faith in us, that would be it.

"I'll try," I say, nodding and let out the breath that feels like it's been stuck inside me for years.

Edward smiles, wrapping his arms around my waist and kisses me. I give into the kiss and everything that comes with it. The pain and anger that's weighed me down all these years lifts, and I smile.

Author's Note:I am honored to be apart of this project and hope that my story is well received by the generous donors. Special thanks for my beta/proof reading team TheSwanDive, Chele681 and Jessypt.