Gif #: 23

Title: Never Let Me Go

Word count (not including author's notes/header): 2548

Pairing: EdwardxBella

Rating: M

Summary: A simple dance between two friends can change everything at once and nothing at all.

Warnings (if necessary): N/A

I will be fine as long as I don't touch.

This has been my mantra for months now.

It started with a small glance and a casual hello, and I've been fighting it ever since. Love has been out to get me, and I am running for all I am worth.

I'm messed up in the classic tale of boy meets girl. They meet each other one day by chance, he offers to buy her coffee, she agrees and they fall in love.

It sounds like the perfect scenario. People live their whole lives wishing for this to happen to them. Those who encounter love like this are made to seem fortunate.

So why do I have such an issue with it?

Because the fortunate one in this story is not me. It's my best friend.

If my life was a movie, I would be part of the sub-plot. I'm there, but I never take centre stage. Sure, I add something to the storyline, but ultimately I disappear before the happily ever after.

When it came to awards season, I would always be collecting supporting actress not leading lady.

But let's be honest, I nail my role every time.

Not that I could do it without my leading man and lady. It is their fault after all that I have been shoved to the sidelines of my own story.

Edward Cullen met Rosalie Hale twelve months ago today. I know this for a fact because they chose to hold their engagement party on their one year anniversary.

Not that you should count your anniversary from the first time you met, in my personal opinion. But as Edward and Rose have pretty much been joined at the hip since then I guess I can let it slide.

What I cannot let slide is the fact Rose seems to have used this party as a dry run for the actual wedding. Meaning she got to dress me up.

It's not that I mind the dress. It's quite pretty actually. But right now, I can't help but feel it's the only ammo I have against her as Edward leads her around the dance floor.

Don't get me wrong, I'm pleased Rosalie is engaged. I am not bitter at all. Rosalie was not built to be alone. She was made to be by someone's side for her whole life.

Just not Edward's.

Because in my heart of hearts, deep down in my soul, etched into my very being, I know that I should be with Edward Cullen.

I will admit my feelings started as pure sexual desire. How could I resist with that bronze hair and those green, smouldering eyes?

I would daydream endlessly about his long fingers travelling up my thigh and slipping in my panties.

Many a night, I woke up with sweat on my forehead and my fingers on my clit, dreaming of his mouth on me.

He drove me wild in a way I had never felt before. I grew weak at the thought of his hands in my hair as I took the length of him in my mouth.

Every erotic fantasy I had starred Edward.

But after a few months, I noticed a change. Instead of aching for him with my pussy, I longed for him with my heart.

I grew sad when he was not around and elated when he was near. My palms grew sweaty in anticipation of seeing him. My heart would jolt in my chest whenever anyone said his name.

And we became friends.

It was difficult not to be when I hung off every word he said. He made me laugh, and I think I made him happy too.

The best time would be when I told a joke, and he would lower his gaze and smile indulgently into his lap as though he was the only one who truly understood me and saw deeper insight in my joke than anyone else.

Like he was my best friend in the world.

I live for moments like that.

I watch him spin Rose around once more from my place leaning against one of the many tables.

Every time I look at him, I itch to run to him, cling to him, and never let go. This is why I came up with my manta.

If I keep my distance, I'll be fine.

The song ends, and she rises on her tiptoes to kiss him. My stomach twists. When I watch them together, I am alone.

Emmett, Edward's brother, steps up to steal Rose for a dance. Edward happy obliges and steps away, scanning the crowd.

He's scanning the crowd for me.

A jaunty smile appears on his face as he spots me, and he makes his way over.

My stomach flips back the other way in excitement. No matter how much I try to distance myself physically, my body can't help but react.

I continue staring straight ahead as he takes a chair beside me. I focus all my energy on watching Rose and Emmett dance. Anything not to look at him. Not right now. Not while I want him so badly.

We sit together in silence. For once this evening, I am thankful of the loud music. It makes conversation nearly impossible.

I lose track of Rose and Emmett as I think back over every little look and glance Edward and I have shared.

I winked at him once as a joke, but he didn't understand. I had been so embarrassed, I made Rose phone him and explain. He laughed thankfully, but I still get a bit rosy cheeked when I think of the whole incident.

Then there was the time back in the early days when I caught him watching me over the rim of his coffee mug one morning.

I had been dusting, trying to keep my hands busy, while Edward sat around in a pair of drawstring pyjama pants and nothing else.

Rose had snipped at me to sit down when I had got out a chair and stretched to reach the very top of a shelf in the living room.

I had turned to tell her to butt out when I noticed Edward's gaze travelling along the length of my legs. I had to excuse myself after that. I relieved myself in my room with the door locked and a pillow stuffed in my mouth.

Fuck, he is so hot, it isn't fair.

He's beautiful in every way. I wish I could tell him that.

"What are you thinking about?" I hear him shout above the music. I am forced to look at him though I turn my head reluctantly.

"How great you and Rose are together," I lie effortlessly. I can't help that my eyes go to his lips as he smiles. What I wouldn't give to bend to his level and kiss him right now. But I can't touch.

If I don't touch, I'll be fine.

I turn my head back to the dance floor, relieved I have played my part well again.

Our silence resumes, and I try for the millionth time to forget how much I love him.

I feel the heat of his skin as he takes hold of the hand I rest on the table. It's a simple move to him, something a friend would do to another friend. But it's so much more to me. It's also against my no touching rule.

I slide my hand from under his and place it on my lap instead.

"Bella?" he asks. I turn my head to him once more.

"Sorry, Edward." I lick my lips. I'm about to excuse myself but find I can't bear to leave him just yet. I force a laugh. "Electric shock."

The crease between his eyebrows disappears, and he smiles breezily at me.

"Fancy letting me take you for a spin around the dance floor?"

I give a genuine laugh this time. I don't like dancing, but if it means time close to Edward, I find I can't refuse. I'm a sucker for him.

I let him take my hand again without a word. My pulse quickens to an alarming rate. Surely, he can feel how clammy my palms have grown?

He leads me part way onto the floor well away from the spectacle of Rose and Emmett spinning round in the centre.

It's a reasonably fast paced song, sort of jazz-like with the trumpets, so I am taken by surprise when he loops his right arm tightly around my waist.

He trails his fingers down the skin on my elbow to my wrist with his free arm before firmly grabbing hold of my hand and placing it between both of our chests.

The back of his hand is pressed right against my heart. There is no doubt he can feel it thudding wildly.

I can feel the rhythm of his own heart against the back of my hand. It's steady and strong- sure of itself. It is miles away from my own weak palpitations.

I hesitate for a moment before I reach up to place my hand on his shoulder. My eyes follow the path of my hand and continue up to his face.

He's smiling down at me, and I have to smile back.

Then, against everything the beat of the music is telling us to do, we begin to sway gently from side to side.

My gaze is caught in his. I can feel this getting dangerous. If his holding my hand broke my no touching rule, being pulled up against him blows it out of the water.

I stiffen slightly, deciding whether I should try to get away. I could fall over my own feet and pretend to twist my ankle. I would be excused from dancing with Edward for the rest of the night.

The arm around my waist gets a little tighter, interrupting my ingenious plan.

"I've got you, it's okay," Edward reassures me with a grin. His face grows seriously suddenly. "Please don't leave."

I steel myself and nod my agreement.

"One dance," I warn him, my eyebrows raised. It's better to tease him than admit I would never willingly go.

"We'll see," he promises. He tucks his head slightly to rest it against the top of mine as we continue swaying to our own tune.

I take a deep breath, still arguing with myself. For months I have tried to steer clear of Edward, and now I know why. Now that I am this close to him, I want to be closer.

I hesitantly move my head to rest it on his shoulder. I feel him exhale in a soft sigh as he nuzzles closer to me.

No doubt we have attracted Rosalie's attention by now. She'll still be dancing away, the centre of attention, but she won't be able to help twisting her head every chance she gets to try and watch us.

I press my face further against Edward's shoulder, burrowing into his neck. I don't care what Rosalie thinks right now. I'll think of some way to explain - make her think it was because of her in some way. She'll come around easily enough.

"Your breath is so soft on my skin," Edward murmurs. I am surprised to feel that his lips are actually pressed against my neck.

"I can stop breathing if you like," I whisper back with a giggle.

"Never stop."

He falls silent. I swallow hard. I must have heard him wrong with the loud music around us. Or perhaps I heard right, and he just meant it as a joke so I didn't die dancing.

We continue our slow, swaying turns for a few more minutes as the song changes.

"You're my best friend, you know that, Bella?" Edward starts up again.

"Not Emmett?" I ask. He pulls his head back to look at me.

"Is Rosalie not yours?" he responds quickly. He watches my intently, and I see knowledge behind his green eyes. Knowledge that scares me.

I think for a second.

"No, I guess not," I answer truthfully. It is true. She is no longer my best friend, even though I will always tell the world she is.

No, my best friend is the man who holds me in his arms right now. The man I would bare my soul to without a second thought. And I think he just confessed he feels the same way.

Icy, cold panic shoots through me, and I stop swaying. I knew dancing was a bad idea.

"Bella…" Edward starts, sensing my panic.

I will be fine as long as I don't touch.

I step back and away from his grasp. He has no choice but to let me go or risk causing a scene.

"Sorry," I stammer. "I need the toilet. Maybe we'll dance a little more later."

"Bella, please." He steps after me, but I hop out of his reach.

"I'll be back," I promise, but I won't be.

I wring my hands together, trying to commit to memory what his touch felt like before turning. I make my way through the maze of tables, chairs, and other people until I reach the toilets.

I need cold water on my face and fresh air.

If my life was a movie, this would be the complication. And what a massive complication it is.

At this point in the film, Edward would arrive through the crowd having followed me. There would be some piano music in the background. He would call my name and grab my hand before I slipped away.

I swallow hard, fighting the tears that creep into my eyes.

He would tell me how much he loved me and how he always had. How he had to leave Rose because he was living a lie. That he proposed to her because it was the right thing to do. That he couldn't go through with it because he loved me too much, and he didn't care if I didn't love him back, he just had to let me know before it was too late.

Then he would grab my face and kiss me- a real kiss that promised me so much and let me know he was telling the truth. His lips would fit perfectly against mine. We would be made for each other in every way.

Then, we would whisper we loved each other forever and a day before we walked out the door together never to look back. The credits would role.

I hover for a few seconds, but Edward doesn't miraculously appear. I know he never will.

Whatever he's feeling, whatever he meant with what he said to me, he'll still get married to Rosalie, have kids, and they will have their happily ever after. And I'll live on watching, dreaming of what might have been.

There is no chance of me moving on in my mind. I know I will always love him because he will always be my friend. I was being truthful when I told him that. Though I ache for him, I know that is all he will ever be. My friend.

He will be my friend. He will be Rosalie's husband. He will be the father of her children. I will be alone.