For this chapter and all future chapters: I don't own Twilight or its characters.

Many thanks to my talented beta, Tiffanyanne3.

**Horizontal lines represent shifts in time (assuming FFn actually shows them)**

Chapter 1


I was sixteen the first time I met Edward Cullen. He was older, just two grades ahead of me, and he was my brother's best friend.

He was smooth, charming, a bit cocky, and painfully good looking. My mother said he could sweet talk his way out of a paper bag, and she was probably right. I never even felt myself falling for him. It just was.

In hindsight, maybe I was nothing but a game to him. Pliable clay that he could mold just the way he wanted. I was young, inexperienced, naive, and desperately eager to please him…to make him think I was worthy of his attention. His celebrity-like status at the high school in our small Texas town left me reeling—wondering how the hell I'd managed to snag even one moment of his time, much less entire nights with him in my bed. I didn't question it, though, for fear I'd jinx it. I did whatever I could to make him happy, to prove myself worthy of his attention.

More than likely, looking back, that's exactly how I ended up losing my virginity to Edward Cullen on the cold leather seats in the back of the Volvo he'd borrowed from his mother.

More than certain, looking back, that's exactly how I ended up pregnant with his baby. A little girl who became my entire world and my reason for existing…even if I didn't know it then.



7 years later…

I can't sleep. It's nothing new, I can't ever sleep. When I close my eyes, I see lists and dollar signs. Things I need to do and bills I need to pay float behind my eyelids in place of slow, jumping sheep.

Pack Ava's lunch. Check.

Make sure her library books are in her backpack. Check.

Turn in tuition reimbursement forms. Shit. Did I ever fill those out?

The numbers on the alarm clock roll dutifully forward, and I'm reminded of how much sleep I'm missing and how much I'll regret that fact in the morning. Shit. I forgot to push the self-start button on the coffee maker!

I sigh heavily, frustrated with myself, and kick the covers off my legs. Standing, I grab my robe, and maneuver out of my bedroom without even bothering to turn on any lights. No need…I walked these floors in darkness hundreds of times when Ava was a baby.

I make my way to the kitchen and press the self-start button on the coffee maker. At the very least, I'll have the necessary boost of caffeine to soothe my zombie ways when morning rolls around.

Trudging back to the opposite end of the small house, I stop once to pick up a dinosaur that has been left—pointy plastic tail up—in the middle of the floor. I roll my eyes at the Doritos bag left open on the coffee table. A small pile of chip crumbs litters the table around the bag and the floor beneath it.

Ugh. Pig.

I consider cleaning the bag and mess up, but decide that a lesson in stale chips is warranted. This is one-of many-ongoing themes with my roommate. Ignoring the crumbs, I make my way down the hall.

Pausing outside Ava's room, I take a moment to inhale her sweet scent. Her room smells perfectly like her—a mixture of the shampoo I use to help with her tangles, and the Tinkerbell perfume she douses herself with. Tiptoeing in quietly, I gather up the fallen, stuffed friends that she's managed to kick out of bed during the night, and peer at her sweet sleeping face by the yellow light of the nightlight plugged in near her bed. Her tiny pink lips are puckered into a sweet concentrated frown and her long, dark eyelashes rest peacefully on her soft cheeks. I run my finger down her upturned nose and smooth the tangled mass of hair back from her forehead.

It never ceases to amaze me how much she still looks like a baby when she sleeps. It's the only time, these days, that I'm able to see traces of the same baby I held in my arms the very first day she came into my world. The same tiny puckered lips, the same upturned nose. During the day, when she's awake and full of sass and curiosity, she seems grown and every bit her six-year-old self…but at night, when she's sleeping peacefully, my tiny baby returns.

And that baby looks exactly like Edward Cullen.



"Morning, Birdie." Emmett's sitting at the kitchen table with his eyes half closed and his head held up by his massive hand. The opened bag of chips that taunted me the night before sits in front of him, next to a steaming cup of coffee.

….a cup of coffee that had obviously been taken from the coffee pot that I'd gotten up to program just a few short hours earlier.

"Seriously, Em, you couldn't leave me a single cups' worth?"

"Yeah, well, guess what?" he mumbles, his mouth partially hidden by the palm of his hand. "My chips are all stale."

"Serves you right. You shouldn't have left your shit open all over the coffee table." I busy myself with refilling the coffee maker and preparing my cup.

"You saw them open, and you didn't even close 'em up! You suck. You know those were my favorites."

"I'm not your mother, Emmett, and I'm not your wife. I've told you before I'm not cleaning up after your filthy ass more than is absolutely necessary. Just yesterday, I was sabotaged when a pair of your disgusting socks made it in with a load of my laundry. Honestly, why can't you put on shoes to walk outside? You're a twenty-four-year-old man! You haven't learned how to avoid getting leaves and mud stuck to your socks?"

He stands from the table and tosses the wasted chip bag in the trashcan, then shuffles his way over to me and ruffles my hair. "I knew if I put my shit in with yours you'd wash it for me."

He runs his hand over the top of my hair so that it pulls down over my face in a matted sheet. "Thanks, little sister," he says.

I exhale harshly and blow my hair back out of my face, then pour myself a cup of freshly brewed coffee.

"Asshole," I mutter.



Thanks for reading.