Disclaimer: I don't own it.


The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance - it is the illusion of knowledge. ~Daniel J. Boorstin

Chapter Six

September 2010

I stood in front of my closet, a towel around my waist, another thrown over my shoulder that I used to absently dry my hair. I had no idea what the hell I was supposed to be doing right now, but I felt like I'd lost my balls standing here debating what the hell I should wear.

"Dude, what are you doing?" Emmett asked, leaning on the doorjamb. I flung the shirt I was holding on the bed and scrubbed my face in frustration. This had to be one of the most bizarre fucking situations I'd ever found myself in, and as of late, that was saying something.

"I have a date," I answered shortly.

"And I don't have anything to wear," Rose mocked in a high pitched voice as she strolled into my room and threw herself across my bed. I narrowed my eyes at her, I was in no mood for this shit today. Emmett let out a guffaw so loud I winced, momentarily forgetting the she-devil sprawled out across my bed.

"Don't you assholes have anything better to do?" I asked, walking over to my dresser and pulling out a pair of boxers. I eyed them both thinking they'd take the hint to get the fuck out, but they both just stared at me impassively. So I did what anyone else in my situation would do, I dropped the fucking towel.

"Edward!" Rose squeaked, covering her face with her hands.

"What the hell, bro," Emmett yelled at the same time.

I smirked at them, taking my sweet time stepping through my boxers and pulling them on. "Hey, I tried to warn you, it's your own damn fault you didn't take the hint and get out."

"Ugh," Rose groaned, rolling to her side. "Jesus, how many of these things do you have?" she asked, pulling my journal out from under her. I stepped to the bed and yanked it out of her hand, giving her a scathing look.

"Privacy. Respect it," I spat, throwing it on top of my desk.

Emmett walked over to the desk and sat down, propping his arm up. What the hell was this, Circle Time?

"Why are you here?" I asked impatiently. I needed to figure out what the hell I was going to wear and do a sweep under the bed to see if I could find my fucking balls. Emmett ignored me and turned his attention to Rose who had made a damn pallet out of pillows on my bed. Jesus.

"He's always had these, since he was, seven maybe," Emmett mused, moving my journal to the back of the desk. I pulled a pair of jeans out of the dresser and tugged them on. I guess I was getting dressed with a fucking audience.

"Hey Em, why don't you explain to Rose why I started keeping a journal in the first place," I goaded. His face paled as he swallowed thickly. Yeah, he was about to look like an asshole.

"Shit," he swore, his eyes darting over to Rose who was staring at him expectantly. I crossed my arms over my chest, aware that I still hadn't decided what the fuck to wear, but couldn't bring myself to miss watching Em squirm.

"Uh," he started, clearing his throat. "Well, you know our grandmother had Alzheimer's right?" he asked, looking at Rose. She furrowed her brow and nodded. "Well, when our parents explained what that meant to us, I decided to play a trick on Edward," he said, nervously rubbing the back of his neck.

"Play a trick how?" Rose asked, sitting up on my bed. I smirked, Rose was totally gonna punch his ass.

"It was stupid," he huffed, covering his junk. "Edward had this really cool Batmobile car that I wanted, so I told him it was mine when he caught me playing with it. When he argued and said it was his, I told him that he caught Alzheimer's from grams and that he just didn't remember giving it to me," he mumbled, wincing when Rose smacked him in the back of the head.

"Emmett, that's terrible," Rose yelled, shaking her head.

"Yeah, yeah, I know," he admitted, "but ever since then he's written down everything about his day in one of those fucking notebooks."

"It just became habit," I cut in, not wanting to sound like a pussy for still doing that shit. Rose rolled her eyes and walked to the door.

"You two are ridiculous," she sighed before turning and moving down the hall.

I turned back towards the closet again, chuckling as Em flipped me off.

"So you're really going through with it?" Emmett asked after a beat of silence.

"Of course I am. Why wouldn't I?" I grabbed a black t-shirt and a long sleeved grey button down. This would just have to fucking do. I looked over at Emmett who was just shaking his head.

"Never mind," he sighed. "So where are you taking her?" I scowled as I sat on the bed and pulled on my socks.

"I have no fucking clue where we're going or what we're doing."

Emmett's brows rose in surprise. "Come again?" he asked, confused.

"So we met for coffee on Monday before class, just like we've been doing," I grumbled, already getting annoyed just thinking about it. "I asked for her number and where I could pick her up, thinking that maybe I'd find out a little more about her since she was always so fucking guarded, and do you know what she fucking said to me Em?" I ranted. "She said, 'I have some conditions for this date,'" I mocked, standing from the bed and pacing the length of my room.

"Conditions?"

"Yes," I spat, "she said we were meeting at the coffee shop, and that she got to plan the date. I mean, what the fuck kind of shit is that?" I barked. "I'll tell you what kind of shit that is," I continued darkly, "it's what a smart fucking girl who doesn't want to get caught by her boyfriend does."

I shook my head in disgust. I might sound like an asshole, but I felt no fucking remorse for what I was doing. She made me wonder if Maggie had been this sneaky, conniving. Because if Maggie covered her tracks half as well as Bella did, then the shit she could have done behind my back made me want to fucking vomit.

"Damn," Emmett said quietly.

"I know, she's-"

"Got your number," he laughed, cutting me off.

"What?" I yelled, spinning around to face him. Not that he heard me since he was doubled over with his arms clutching his stomach.

"Dude," he choked, "this girl sounds like a handful. I can't wait to meet her." I snapped my jaw shut, my stance rigid as my hands balled into fists.

"Why the fuck would you want to meet a girl who is cheating on her boyfriend, a girl just like Maggie?" I sneered. I watched as Emmett's expression sobered, his face becoming serious.

"I'm sorry man," he mumbled quietly. "I hope when this is all said and done you'll have found whatever it is that you're looking for." He stood from the chair and smacked me on my shoulder before leaving the room.

I sighed and looked at my watch, cursing when I realized it was already after six and I was going to be late if I didn't leave right now. I grabbed my keys and took off towards the coffee shop, my conversation with Em playing on a loop in my head. I didn't need to be in this frame of mind by the time I got to Bella. I was certain it would be hard to look at her with anything other than disgust, and that wouldn't be very helpful.

I spotted her sitting at one of the tables out front of the shop wearing jeans and a casual sweater. She had her phone out, and looked to be sending a text of something the way her fingers were flying across the screen. I took a deep breath and pushed all the bullshit out of my mind, instead focusing on her and how hot she looked. Cause that shit was undeniable, she was smoking, and I really couldn't wait to get her naked. She looked up and smiled before sliding her phone in her back pocket and standing.

"Ah, you decided to show after all," she joked, walking over to me.

"Of course I did. What, did you think just because you emasculated me by planning our first date that I'd turn into a pussy and stay home eating ice cream and watching chick flicks?" I guessed. She wrinkled her nose at me and shook her head.

"Stop," she sighed, "I might pass out swooning from the sweet things you say to me," she snarked, bringing the back of her hand to her forehead, swaying. Smart ass.

"Pfft, don't act like you don't love that shit. Plus," I whispered, curling my finger in her belt loop and pulling her closer, "sweet words are nothing compared to the sweet things I could do to you with my mouth."

"You sir," she said shakily, reaching down and pulling my finger from her belt loop, "are no gentleman at all."

I chuckled, "I never claimed to be."

She smoothed her hair back from her face and cleared her throat, a smirk pulling at the corner of her mouth. "So are you ready to go?"

"Are you going to tell me where exactly we're going yet?" I grumbled in exasperation.

"Oh hush you big baby, let's get going," she chided, tugging on the sleeve of my shirt.

"So I take it you're gonna drive too?"

She grinned and tugged on my sleeve again before turning and walking towards the parking lot. I sighed in frustration, before jogging up behind her, well aware of how fuck hot she looked in the jeans she was wearing.

"Will you at least pretend like this is a date and let me open a door for you or something? Christ," I mumbled, reaching for the door handle of what I assumed was her car. She stopped abruptly, pulling her hand away from the car door and making a sweeping gesture with her hand.

"Thanks," I quipped sarcastically, opening the door for her. I jogged around the car and climbed into the passenger seat, noting that her car was kinda fucking messy. I opened my mouth to comment at the same time that her hand shot out in front of my face.

"My car is a mess, your commentary is not necessary," she cut in before I could even say anything. Well that was fucking rude.

Once we pulled out of the parking lot we talked about classes and other school related topics, but whenever I'd try and ask about anything personal she would change the subject. It was starting to piss me off how guarded she was around me. As far as she knew I had no ulterior motives, so unless she planned on this being a one-time thing, I didn't get it.

I hadn't told her much about myself either, and if I wanted her to open up I knew I'd have to give her something too. I'd have to pretend like everything was exactly how it looked, this was a real date, and I was really interested in her.

"So my brother Emmett wants to meet you," I said casually before immediately wanting to punch myself in the face. Why the fuck did I just say that to her? I cut my eyes in her direction and noticed her eyebrows had nearly risen to her hairline.

"Does he now?" she asked, a lazy grin on her face. Well I'd already opened my big ass mouth, I might as well roll with it now.

"Yeah, he said so earlier."

"So you've been talking about me to your brother?" she teased, but I noticed how she tilted her head forward a little, causing her hair to fall over the side of her face. Was she...was she embarrassed? I reached over and pushed her hair back over her shoulder but didn't notice any color change on her face, her expression schooled.

"Yeah, of course I have," I retorted, realizing this was the perfect opening for me to find out a little more about her. "Are you saying that you haven't talked to anyone about me?" I questioned, my voice soft, my eyes shifting to the window. I knew I was playing it up a bit and there was a huge possibility that she was going to call my ass out for it, but it was worth a shot. She was quiet for a second before she spoke, her hesitance obvious.

"I've only met a few people on campus," she started, blowing out a breath. She was quiet again and I thought maybe that was all she was going to say before she spoke again. "My cousin's girlfriend," she offered, causing me to look at her in confusion.

"My cousin Jasper lives near my dad with his girlfriend Alice. They're a couple of years older than me, but Alice and I have always been close. Anyway, I might have mentioned you to her once or twice," she admitted flippantly, shrugging.

"I knew you were hot for me," I joked, blocking her hand when she tried to smack my arm.

"God, why did I agree to go out with you?" she snipped.

"Because you want my body," I pointed out, not expecting the pinch she snuck in on my outer thigh.

"Shit," I hissed, jerking my leg away. "You're violent," I accused, rubbing my leg.

"And you're full of yourself," she retorted, rolling her eyes. I opened my mouth to let her know she was more than welcome to be full of me too, when she brought the car to a stop and announced we were here. I looked at the building in front of me and felt my jaw slacken. Was she fucking serious right now?

She jumped out of the car, slamming her door shut before spinning to face me, her arms crossed over her chest. I slowly opened my door, waiting for her to tell me she was kidding, that this was some sort of joke.

"Laser tag, Bella? Really? Aren't we a little old for this?" I asked in disbelief. I was expecting dinner, maybe a movie, somewhere we could be alone. But of all the places I thought we might end up, this was definitely not one of them.

"Yes, Edward, laser tag. Now quit stalling and come on," she insisted, reaching over and yanking on my belt loop, but my feet were planted so all she did was propel herself into me. I reached out and wrapped my arms around her waist, holding her to me.

"If you wanted to rub against me all you had to do was say so," I grinned. She clucked her tongue and tried to wiggle out of my grasp. I let her go immediately, because there was no way I could have her moving like that against me and be held responsible for my actions.

I followed her inside and listened half-heartedly as the rules and whatnot were explained to us. I was pretty sure the rules were still the same as the last time I'd played, when I was fifteen.

We moved over to the locker room area to pick up all our gear and drop off her bag in one of the lockers. I'd decided to lose my button down, figuring it'd be best to just have my t shirt on. I cut my eyes over to Bella and noticed that she was staring at me, or more specifically, at where my shirt had rode up, my boxers visible.

I cleared my throat and chuckled when she jumped and quickly turned her head and walked over to the lockers like I hadn't just caught her checking me out. I came up behind her, my arms caging her in as I pressed my hands flat against the lockers she was facing.

"You don't have to look away. As a matter of fact I strongly encourage you to look," I moved her hair from her shoulder my nose skimming the shell of her ear."Touching is also encouraged," I added. She slowly turned to face me, her nose grazing mine, her breath warm as it fanned across my face through her parted lips, a subtle hint of mint lingering.

I felt my dick begin to swell, my chest tightening as my pulse quickened. At the moment I wanted nothing more than to slide my hands down her delectable ass to her thighs, hoist her up against the wall and push into her roughly as she wrapped those long fucking legs around my waist. My dick twitched in agreement.

"Maybe I picked the wrong activity for our date," she mused, her voice low, rough as she brought her hands up to my shoulders then flattened them against my chest. I nodded my head, thinking we were about to get the fuck out of here right now.

"Yeah?" I smiled. She nodded her head but then narrowed her eyes, and I knew we were in fact not on the same fucking page.

"Yup," she sang, "I should have went with paint ball, then I could have gotten blue paint balls to match the ones you're going to have the rest of the night."

This fucking girl was going to kill me. There was no fucking way I'd survive this shit for very long. I dropped my head to her shoulder and groaned.

"You're a tease," I muttered, pulling away from her slightly.

"Me?" she repeated. "Oh no, you did this all to yourself, buddy." She pushed weakly against my chest, it was then that I realized her hands were shaking slightly. When she noticed me looking at them she pulled away quickly and ducked under my arm, spinning away from me.

"C'mon, it'll be fun," she assured me. "I'm really looking forward to nailing your ass," she added with a smirk.

"I think you and I have very different ideas of what nailing each other entails," I informed her with a shake of my head.

"Do you ever give it a rest?" she moaned, throwing her hands in the air. I shook my head, licking my lips as I pulled my vest on and grabbed my gun.

"I have unbelievable stamina," I drawled.

"Fuck," she whined before storming out towards the main area. I chuckled and followed behind her, noting the stiffness in her posture, her jerky movements. At least I wasn't the only one uncomfortable, I mused, reaching down and adjusting myself. This was going to be a long fucking night.

An hour and a half later I sat with my back against one of the dividers, sweat beaded across my forehead as I gasped for breath. If I'd learned anything tonight, it was that Bella was a fucking hustler. She wasn't as fast as me, but her aim was spot on and if she managed to catch me off guard I was as good as hit. I was more and more thankful that she'd decided against paint ball.

What was her deal? I just didn't know what to make of her. What kind of girl not only plans a first date, but chooses something that most girls would bitch and moan about? And to top it off she's got amazing fucking aim?

"Look out, dude!" a kid exclaimed, diving beside me. I scooted over as he adjusted his goggles and spoke into his radio using the code names he and his friends had come up with. Was that what this was? She picked a place where the chances of running into anyone from school were slim to none? And if someone she knew did show up, between the dark room, the goggles, and the code names they'd have no idea who she was.

But she was really fucking good at this, and she seemed to be having a really good time from the way she laughed and jeered at me over the radio. I growled in frustration, ripping off my mask and rubbing my hand roughly across my forehead. I fucking hated feeling confused. Everything was supposed to be cut and dry, and the fact that she had me questioning myself on the first date pissed me the fuck off. A loud beep sounded in my ear, causing me to jump. I looked down and noticed the light on my vest was flashing.

"Like a lamb to the slaughter," she sighed, coming over and sliding down beside me, pulling off her own mask. Her cheeks were flushed, her breathing labored as she stared at me, her brows furrowing.

"Hey, are you okay?" she asked softly. I gritted my teeth together, my stomach a bundle of knots, my anger at her, Jake, Maggie, myself making my vision blur and my mind cloudy.

"Yeah," I lied, "but I think I've had enough of getting my ass kicked by you today." I tried to joke, unwilling to acknowledge how many levels that comment applied to.

"Wow," she laughed. "I think we'll need to work on your stamina after all." She jumped to her feet giggling as my brain finally caught up with what she'd said.

"Hey," I barked out, laughing as I wrapped my hand around her ankle and pulled her back towards me. I reached out with my other hand, wrapping it around the front of her thigh as I came up on my knees, giving myself the leverage to pull her back down with me. She let out a squeak as she landed sideways in my lap.

"Nuh-uh," I tsked, "you can't say things like that and expect to just walk away." I felt like a damn woman the way she made my mood jump from angry and hateful to turned on and playful at the drop of a fucking hat.

"And how can I help improve your stamina?" she asked, her hand snaking around to the back of my neck, her nails lightly combing through my hair.

"Are you volunteering for the job?" I questioned, my eyes sliding shut. She hummed in thought.

"Not today," she quipped.

"That's not a no," I declared.

"It most certainly isn't," she agreed with a smile. Fuck. She slid her fingers through my hair and my arm tightened around her back as I dug my fingers of my other hand into her thigh. My breath escaped in a huff as my eyes darted from hers to her lips. She leaned into me, her chin tilting up as we gravitated towards one another.

"You guys can't do that in here," a voice called from above us. Bella jumped out of my lap like her ass was on fire while I just let my head fall back with a thud against the divider. I wondered if permanent damage was possible from extended periods of being hard without medication.

I rose to my feet, wincing as my jeans rubbed against me before I could adjust myself. I glanced up as Bella watched unabashedly as I adjusted myself, one of her brows raised.

"Unless you want to get us arrested I suggest you stop looking at me like that," I warned, causing her to laugh and the guy behind her to shift uncomfortably.

We walked to the locker room and grabbed our shit, our eyes meeting every couple of minutes, a heavy tension blanketing the air. But something had shifted, she seemed purposefully controlled all of the sudden, back to being guarded, back to frustrating the shit out of me again.

She offered to drop me off at my apartment since it had gotten late, which was fine with me. I figured at this point it didn't really matter if she knew where I lived since I'd practically offered to introduce her to my brother.

"So do I get to actually be the guy next time and plan our date?" I asked once she'd pulled up in front of my apartment.

"What makes you think there's going to be a second date?" she sassed with that smart ass mouth of hers. I rolled my eyes at her attempt to play hard to get.

"You offered to help me with my stamina, I think it's pretty fucking safe to say there will be a second date," I chided.

"Yeah," she drawled, her nose wrinkling, "it's not looking so good for you right now." I smirked and reached my hand out to where hers rested on the center console, hooking my pinkie with hers and tugging her hand closer to me.

"C'mere," I whispered, leaning closer to her. She shifted slightly, her pinkie tightening around mine. "What can I do to convince you to go out with me again?" I asked, moving forward until my lips brushed against hers as I spoke. Her eyes fluttered closed as she breathed unsteadily.

"You-" she started as her phone began to vibrate. She jerked away and fumbled in her bag, snatching it out, her fingers scrolling over the screen. "Shit," she muttered, her eyes wide. "I've got to go," she said quickly, her face apologetic.

"Are you okay?" I asked impulsively, berating myself immediately because I knew she wasn't going to answer my question.

"Yeah," she nodded, "I had a lot fun tonight, I just really need to get home." I'd said it before and I'd say it again, being dismissed by this girl really fucking annoyed me.

"Fine," I replied, reaching for the handle only to have her grab my arm, stopping me.

"Hey, if you plan some cliche shit I can't promise not to go to the bathroom and not come back," she warned with a smile. I shook my head and chuckled.

"Deal."

"I'll see you Monday?" she asked.

"Yup, Monday," I agreed.

She pulled away from the curb, her tail lights disappearing around the corner. I sighed and ran my hand down my face as I turned and climbed the stairs to our apartment. Even though we hadn't even been out very long I was just fucking drained. This was supposed to be simple, uncomplicated. But I had a feeling Emmett was right, Bella was going to be a fucking handful.

The next night I was lounging around my room, catching up on homework that I'd been putting off when my phone rang. I reached over and answered when I saw Jared's name flash across the screen.

"What's up man?" I sighed, falling across my bed.

"I'm going out, come on, get dressed, we're meeting a couple of girls I met last night."

I hesitated, reluctant to risk getting seen by Bella or someone that may know her. "I think I'm going to pass man, I don't want to risk getting caught," I admitted.

"Ah, so Operation Bang Bella is still a go then?" he joked.

"Dude, this isn't about her," I snapped. "This is about Jake, its always been about Jake. He deserves everything that's coming to him."

"But fucking his hot girlfriend isn't a bad perk," he pointed out.

"I look at it like this, at least this way, we're all getting fucked," I said flatly.

"I saw them at the frat house a little while ago," he remarked casually. "They were leaving when I got there."

"Figures," I said tonelessly, "date with me one night, date with her boyfriend the next."

"Yeah," he responded quietly.

"I gotta go," I cut in, "I'll call you later." I snapped my phone closed and tossed it on the night stand. I wasn't going to get pissed, I wasn't going to be annoyed, I just needed to focus on what I was doing and why.

October 2, 2010

Bella cancelled our date tonight. Claimed she had to work. I could check and see if she was lying, but I knew I wouldn't. Believing her made it easier to keep up the charade. Easier to pretend I was the only person she was dating. Easier for me to play my part.


A/N

Meg and Tara beta this bad boy and Jules and Amber pre read. And Kelly, dude, I can't even say how much help you gave me with this chapter. Thanks to all of you guys.

TLS continues to be my pimp, all of you guys over there are seriously freaking awesome. And thanks to DiamondHeart78 for her shout out in the last update of Teacher of the Year, several of the reviewers said I had you to thank for them finding my story! :) And also thanks M2kh for the rec on ADF!

Last thing, I promise. The next update may be late. I'm have Lasik tomorrow and the whole not being allowed to stare at a computer thing kinda puts a damper on writing. But I promise not to make you wait too long!