Gif #: 31

Title: The Babysitter

Word count: 11,823

Pairing: Edward x Bella

Rating: M

Summary: Everybodysaid Rose was perfect for me, and this weekend I was going to find out if it was true. That was the plan, until I met her sister.

The Babysitter

The first time I saw Bella Swan, she was on the kitchen floor at her parents' house. I heard laughter and the sounds of kids running, then loud footsteps up the stairs and onto the porch. She froze in the doorway when she saw me, and her brother barreled into her from behind.

Actually, the first time I saw Bella Swan was in a picture on her sister's desk at school. I thought she was a boy. But on her hands and knees in front of me, cheeks flushed with embarrassment and her eyes dark, she definitely did not look like a boy.

A little kid stepped over her and dropped his backpack in the center of the room. "You lose!" he said in a high, triumphant voice.

She picked herself up and ran out of the room.

Rose said, "Real mature, Mikey," then went to check on her sister.

He mimicked her silently behind her back, then proceeded to the fridge and opened the door. After a minute he closed it, waited a few seconds, then opened it again. Peering inside, he said, "Here's what I do. First, I see what there is. Then I close it, lower my expectations, and try again."

He took out an apple and leveled a look at me.

"Edward Cullen," I said and offered him my hand, trying not to laugh.

He looked like Rose. Blond. All-American. Snotty. His grip was surprisingly firm for a twelve-year old.

"Michael Higginbotham Swan. But my friends call me MC Malice."

Fifteen minutes later, she stormed back through the room. Rose followed right behind, yelling, "Where are you going? Mom said I'm in charge of you!" She was as worked up as I'd ever seen her.

Bella flipped her off on the way out the door.

I couldn't help but notice the curve of her ass as she passed.

Rose turned to me and blew her nose into a tissue. "I think I need to lie down," she said.

From the minute we left campus, I knew something was up. The air between us was tight. Not in a good way, more like when you both knew what's going down but have to wait. Going through the motions of what's got to be done. Each gesture, every touch, filled with expectation. My push. Her pull.

This was supposed to be the weekend. Finally. Three days and two nights alone at her parents' house while they got their cabin ready for ski season. Her little brother and sister would be home, but she'd said they'd be no problem, that they were so overscheduled we'd never see them.

We got in the car, and she buckled up and checked the tension of the seat belt.

"Safety never takes a vacation," I said.

"You're funny," she said absently and checked her phone for messages.

She looked great. She always looked great. Even when I managed to get her alone — hardly a hair out of place. She was perma-press. The situation seemed to call for me to say something dirty, something to get the ball rolling, but I couldn't come up with anything that didn't sound lame or just plain foul.

"Are you excited?" I managed to get out.

She looked up at me. Her blue eyes were round, like she was feigning interest while her mind was miles away. After a second she smiled, apparently deciding that the situation required it. "I haven't been home since the summer. It'll be nice to see everyone."

"That's not what I — never mind." I wondered who "everyone" was. I didn't think we were going to see anyone.

She started texting. I started driving.

I told myself it was just a car ride. No big deal. Except I'd imagined it filled with innuendo. Flirting on the way. Getting settled at her parents' house, followed by a weekend of non-stop sex.

She found a napkin in the glove box and blew her nose, then pulled the lever and laid back in her seat. Her stomach was flat, and her tits jiggled every time I hit a bump. For the millionth time, I imagined what it would like to see her naked, to make her lose control. The thoughts had the intended effect on my body, but something was off, and I downshifted to speed up and pass the car in front of me, concentrating hard on the road.

"Careful," she said.

Nothing about this weekend looked good anymore. Rose had decided she had the flu and put herself to bed, surrounded by more stuffed animals than I'd ever seen in one place. Before she'd passed out, she'd refused my offer to rub Vick's on her chest. Her brother was hanging around, anyway, even if she had been willing, which she wasn't. So much for time alone.

Mikey and I were watching The Wire — actually, I was watching, and he was talking — but I was taking a break in the kitchen to shut off his constant chatter. "Money be green," I heard him saying over and over again in the next room. Through the window, I noticed Bella on the porch, sitting on the steps. I kept an eye on her, thinking she would come in, but she just sat there, her shoulders hunched. It didn't look good.

After a while, I couldn't take it and decided to check on her. I didn't turn the porch light on, in case she was crying, and sat down next to her. The sky was black, but the moon was full. I could see her face. There was definitely a family resemblance. She had the same round cheeks and dark brows as Rose, and her mouth was full and pink in a way I was familiar with, but Bella was different, and I guessed it was her coloring, and her hair was messed up. Like she didn't give a shit.

We sat quietly for a while, looking at the stars, not really acknowledging each other. I felt a pull toward her but thought I should let her take the lead, and after a few minutes she shifted her body to face me.

"Can I ask you a question?" she said.

"Sure."

"Are my boobs too small?"

My brain slanted.

"Excuse me?"

"My boobs. Do you think they're too small?"

I hadn't had a chance to check them out — not that I should have, but I would have. There was only one possible answer anyway, not that I intended to give it. My peer counseling training kicked in. This was a gender-neutral situation. The question she was asking was indicative of something deeper. She was looking for support. I needed to show that I was trustworthy. I needed to keep eye contact, which was very hard considering what she was asking. I willed myself not to look. I remembered to ask open-ended questions and scrambled to put one together.

"What... what... happened tonight to make you question yourself?"

"That's a yes."

"That's not anything. You seem upset and —"

"Just answer the question."

I hadn't said one word to this girl in the few hours I'd been here, but I took a very quick look at the general area of her chest and pronounced her fine.

"You're fine. Good."

"I know, right?" She put her hands on the top of her tits, gave a little squeeze, and pushed them together. They were actually a whole lot more than fine. "They're as nice as Rose's, even if they aren't as big. Plus, I think they're still growing."

I nodded along with her and tried to stop imagining that her boobs were actually growing while I watched.

"And my butt isn't so bad."

I nodded, because I'd noticed that. And again, there was no other possible answer, even if she was asking, which she wasn't.

"Can I ask — I mean, do you mind —"?

"Bella, by the way," she interrupted and let go of her tits to stick out a hand. "The sister."

I stuck out my hand.

"Edward."

"The boyfriend," she said and took my hand.

We shook. I was surprised by the firmness of her grip, too. Their father had taught them to make a good first impression.

"That's me," I said.

She nodded. I was still holding her hand. Now that she wasn't focused on bringing me to my knees, I noticed how soft and warm her palm was.

"Do you feel like telling me what's going on?"

She let go of my hand, and I felt the loss.

"Boy stuff."

She smiled, and it was a little bit of sunshine in the dark night. Boy stuff. She might look older than I expected, but she was only in high school. I had this down. Piece of cake.

"I figured, with the..." I ran my hand in the air to indicate her body, trying to lighten the situation. "But you're good. All the necessary parts."

"I know you have to say that, being the boyfriend and all, but thanks."

"Actually, as the boyfriend, I don't think I should be saying that."

"My mom says Rose's boyfriends always wind up being the entire family's, since we're the ones that have to deal with them."

"Oh, yeah?" I didn't think I needed to be dealt with, but whatever.

"Like, with Emmett. We all had to go through their breakup. My father's still not over him."

I frowned. I'd met the parents when they'd come to visit Rose at the beginning of the semester. Her father seemed like a good guy. Reserved, a little cautious. We didn't talk much, but he paid for lunch. I assumed I passed muster. Here I was, after all, with his permission. That thought gave me a second of pause, but I pushed it aside.

"No offense. He likes you. I just don't know if he likes you, likes you." She laughed. Her voice was dark and husky, dirty even. Not like her sister's at all, which was distracting.

She seemed okay, and I thought I'd go back inside and check out what was on television. I'd decided to camp out in the living room, since I wouldn't be sneaking in to Rose's bed while she was sick. My official sleeping assignment was the extra twin in Mike's room, but I wasn't tired yet, and I didn't feel like having a roommate.

I stood. "I guess I'll just —" but she stopped me.

"So. You're a guy."

I nodded.

"Can I ask you another question?"

"Shoot."

"How long would you wait? Like, for a girl?"

"Like for —" I knew what she was saying, but it didn't occur to me that she'd still be on the same topic, and I really didn't want to have this conversation with her. "For her to... go out with me?"

"For her to have sex with you."

That word coming out of her mouth was almost as crazy as her asking me to give her tits the once over. And there was no answer I could give that would keep me out of trouble, so I asked another question.

"You're seeing someone?"

"Tyler."

"How long?"

"A little while."

"How old are you?"

'Seventeen."

When Rose talked about her, she made her sound like a little kid. Seventeen was not a little kid. Seventeen was definitely borderline. Seventeen was trouble. I was twenty. Seventeen was not that far from twenty.

"You're a junior?"

"Senior."

Senior boys. Immature, cocky, single-minded. I thought about what I was up to when I was that age. What I would have done if I had a girl that looked like Bella.

"Okay. Right, so..." I swallowed. "What was the question?"

"How long would you wait for a girl to have sex with you?"

"You've been keeping this guy waiting?"

She nodded.

"Based on the fact that you're having this conversation with me, and not this guy, I think you should keep him waiting."

"Yeah, well. He's losing patience."

"Another excellent reason why you should keep him waiting."

She thought about it and nodded. "I need to decide by tomorrow night."

"What?"

"You think you and Rose are the only ones taking advantage of my parents being gone?"

I stared at her.

She smiled.

"Well, thanks for the fabulous advice, boyfriend. I guess I'll see you in the morning."

And in she went, walked straight to the living room, and plopped herself down on the couch, or what, until recently, I'd decided was my bed. I went straight up to Rose's room. On the way, I noticed Mike's light was still on in his room, but he was out cold. His laptop was balanced on his chest and open to a picture of a cartoon, which looked half like a fox and half like a girl. It had boobs.

I shut the computer down, but before I shut the light I took a look around.

He had everything. Every technological toy known to man. He had a television set with controllers from every gaming system. He had bling draped over a lamp on his desk. He had sports equipment, trophies, and a few stuffed animals, though not as many as Rose. On his ceiling was a poster of the Celtics cheerleaders in their little green bikinis, sticking their asses out.

I switched off his desk lamp, and his night-light came on.

Rose was asleep in her room.

"Hey. You asleep?" I touched her cheek. She felt warm. I hated to wake her, but it was important.

"Mmmmm."

I gave her a little shake. "Rose. Wake up. We need to talk about Bella."

"She home?"

"Yeah, I just talked to her. She's planning on having sex with her boyfriend tomorrow night."

She groaned, then shifted and looked like she was going to hunker back down and go to sleep. I thought maybe I should just slide right in there with her and forget about the conversation I'd had on the porch, but I couldn't.

"Seriously, Rose. She's doing it tomorrow night."

"She's boy crazy," she hummed, already falling back asleep. "Ignore her."

Honestly, if this was my brother — if I had a brother — I'd probably feel the same, but this was her sister, and for some reason the whole thing was busting me up.

I turned on her light. There was an open bottle of cherry red cough syrup and a box of tissues.

"Turn it off," she breathed. I stared at her. She kicked off her covers and turned away from me. I saw the dimples above her ass. Her legs were long, and she had on a pair of pink underwear under a huge grey tee shirt.

I shook her again. "Fuck, Rose. Wake up. She's giving it up to this guy. Tomorrow night. You need to go and talk to her."

She turned again without opening her eyes. The t-shirt said "Property of Emmett McCarty."

It occurred to me to just get in my car and drive back to school. Maybe because I suddenly felt like I was in charge of the house, or because the conversation with Bella had unsettled me, but my focus on having sex was all of a sudden completely refocused on stopping her sister from doing the same.

"Too late." She sighed. "The deed is done."

"It doesn't sound like it."

"She told me so. Don't worry."

"I don't think so, Rose. I really don't."

"Fine. I'll talk to her in the morning," she said, then opened her eyes. "Can you get me some ginger ale?" Her voice sounded like a little girl's.

I passed by Mikey's dark room and then Bella's, which was at the top of the stairs. Her door was closed. Music was playing. It didn't seem right to knock. I didn't know her, and this was not my deal. Rose would handle it in the morning.

Except Bella was in the kitchen in a threadbare tank top standing in front of the open fridge, its light shining on her clearly exceptional tits, while her ass stuck out from a pair of too short shorts. I stopped in the doorway. She was holding on to the door and doing some ballet thing, going up and down on her toes, which made the muscles in her legs flex and her chest bounce. The chill was on her skin, and her nipples were standing at full attention. I couldn't look away.

She closed the door and counted to three, opened it up again, and took out some red grapes. She brought the bunch to her mouth and plucked one into her mouth with her tongue.

I must've made a noise, which made her turn. I smiled awkwardly.

"Lowered your expectations?"

"Exactly," she said, a little like Rose but only a little.

She bit off another grape and chewed. "Let me guess. The princess wants ginger ale." She bent in to reach for the bottle. Her ass was spectacular at the top of those legs. I'd just seen the same pair upstairs, but they were nothing like these. All the blood in my body was rushing into my dick. I turned away and went through the cabinets for something to else focus on.

Behind me, I heard her say: "To the right. No, up. Yeah, there, right there."

I thought very bad things.

"What?"

"The glasses."

I found one and poured the drink and took one last try. "Listen, Bella. What we were talking about. I think — I get the feeling you shouldn't make any quick decisions about tomorrow night."

"Okay, Dad," she said and popped the last grape into her mouth.

"You're the one with the big sad eyes on the porch."

She shrugged, chewing. Her lips mashed against each other.

"Have you talked about it?"

"It's all he wants to talk about."

Bad sign, was all I could think. Though I'd been in his same situation, I felt responsible for her. Even if it was only for a few days.

"Are you... in love?"

"Oh my god, Edward, you are so, so, so sweet." She said it like I was pathetic.

I don't know why being in love made a difference, but it seemed like maybe it should.

"Well, are you prepared at least? Have you thought about that?"

"I'm on the pill."

My mind went to a dark place. I didn't want to know this shit. I scrubbed my hands over my face, wishing I could scrub the fact from my brain.

I decided to say the things I'd say if I was asked this in the dorm. "That's not a hundred percent —- plus, you have to be careful of STDs." I thought about scaring her with statistics on Herpes, Hep. The word "Chlamydia" was on the type of my tongue.

"It's a good thing we haven't just met because this would be a really awkward conversation, Edward. And don't editorialize," she added.

Rose was smart in that way that people that work really hard are smart. She had the facts down, but her sister was intuitive, like she already knew what I was thinking. It occurred to me that maybe Rose was right, that I was being played.

"What do you want me to say, Bella?"

"Really?"

"Yeah, really."

"I want you to answer some questions."

"Such as?"

She put her hands on top of her head, which lifted her whole chest toward me.

"If he makes me come first, will it hurt less?"

"What did you tell her?"

"What do you mean what did I tell her?" I asked, handing Rose the now lukewarm glass of soda. Though we'd had these kinds of conversation in group meetings, we hadn't made it this far one on one.

"Didn't you answer?"

"I told her it would hurt the same but that she would probably feel better about it, and that he should really be focused on her if it's her first time."

She looked at me like I was a puppy. "Awww, Edward, that was a very sweet thing of you to say."

What was with these Swan girls and their scorn for emotional attachment?

"I really don't think she's kidding, Rose."

She blew her nose and took a small sip of the cough medicine direct from the bottle.

"You know what this would taste good with?" she asked.

"What?"

"Champagne."

"Robitussin and champagne?"

"Reminds me of Christmas."

"Okay, wait, stop. Back to Bella... what do I do?"

She shook her head at me before taking another tiny sip. "She's just jerking your chain, Edward. Such a drama queen, you have no idea."

And that was the last thing we discussed until the next morning.

I'd been thinking of breaking up with her — and still thought that I might when we got back — but the prospect of sex wasn't something I could give up. This weekend felt like fate, and I needed to see it through to its conclusion.

I'd known her since we were freshman, and over the last few years things had just lined up for us. Now we were juniors, and we'd been placed in the same dorm. Her floor was the one above mine. I'd convinced myself that it was so easy — that this feeling of inevitability I got around her meant something.

And everybody kept saying it: "She's perfect for you."

Yet, for all her perfection, she left me slightly cold. Not that we weren't friends enough, nor that there wasn't attraction, nor even the opportunity. But every time I found myself in her room, I spent more time rummaging around her stuff than I did thinking about getting her naked. She always had something going on, and there were pictures everywhere. Pool parties, cheerleaders, sorority sisters, a few with her parents, and the one in which a smiling, pigtailed Rose posed in skis with who I assumed were her two younger brothers.

We got together at the end of the weeklong training session, when our entire group of newly appointed Resident Assistants proceeded to ignore everything we'd learned during the previous five days in order to behave just like the miscreants we were sworn to supervise.

In the dark of her room, Rose's breath tasted like wine. Laying on top of her, clothes still on, her tits were amazing. The combination of swells and smells and alcohol fueled us as much as the constant refrain of "You're perfect together" took away all sense that this was anything more than a drunken hook-up.

But we were interrupted by a knock on the door. It was the RA from the second floor, letting us know that the RA from the seventh floor was retching in the girl's bathroom, and he thought perhaps — owing to the sensitivity training he'd just received — that she'd prefer a female to hold her hair.

All things considered, it was easy to let Rose go. Easy to let her out of my arms to deal with the mess. And this, I mistakenly thought, was a very good thing.

Three months later, and we still hadn't finished what we started that night. Rose filled up her free time like nobody's business, and being alone together was rare. One of us was always on duty and required to keep our bedroom door open. It came as no surprise that Rose wasn't much of a caretaker, but she carried an air of authority which got her by. Oddly enough, though I hadn't thought myself overly suited to the job, I enjoyed listening to what people had to say. I'd heard a few horror stories — one bad enough to have to get the Head Resident involved — but mostly, it was within the range of my own expectations. Shit happened when teenagers collected in large groups, were put under pressure, and then left to their own devices.

I had a good group on my floor. The guys were mostly interested in video games, sports, and sex. They liked to talk about Rose and what a lucky fuck I was, when I actually hadn't gone this long without sex since freshmen year. I could have looked elsewhere — sex was generally available to me — but this thing with Rose seemed to call for a big finish, and when this trip came up, it seemed like my opportunity was finally here.

I went back through the house and made sure it was locked up. Bella seemed to really be in her room this time. Rose had a sleep mask on and was out cold. And I decided to sleep in Mikey's room anyway in case someone needed me.

The bed was too small, and my feet stuck out of the bottom. It was the same size as my bed at school, but this was claustrophobic. The sheets smelled warm and feral. Mikey was across the room tossing and turning. Rose down the hall, pushing me away. Bella, god knows where, pulling me in.

I thought I'd try to count all the girls I'd been with since freshman year. Full-on naked sex got a full count. A blow job got a half, but then I felt obliged to give one a .25 based purely on the fact that I barely remembered it. By my calculations, I'd had sex with 12.75 girls in three years, which sounded funny at first, until I realized I never really thought of whole girls when I thought about the sex I'd had. I thought about body parts, like a Frankenstein monster of sex. I thought of this one's tits and that one's ass, a blow job during a Halloween party sophomore year by a girl wearing black lipstick — the one I couldn't really remember but had the evidence of on my dick. I thought about the dimples on the back of this girl whose bed was the top bunk and trying to get the right angle without banging my head on the ceiling. It didn't seem appropriate to lump Rose in with the rest of them, but I tried. I thought of her mouth, her roundness. Every time I closed my eyes, I could imagine her body, but her face — beautiful as it was — faded away.

I wondered what Bella was thinking, if I'd given her any useful information or whether I'd botched the whole thing. And then, of course, the inevitable occurred, and I turned onto my stomach to keep my situation to myself. After a little while, I fell asleep but forced myself back awake when I realized I was dreaming about Bella in a green cheerleader outfit, crawling on her hands and knees up my body. Then I listened to Mikey talk gibberish for a while until we both settled down.

When I woke up, it was barely light out. I was exhausted, but I decided to go for a long run and clear my head. The sun was up by the time I got back.

Bella and Mike were bundled together on the couch, watching cartoons. She had a bowl of cereal perched on her knee and was spooning it into her mouth. Her thighs were long and strong. I wondered if all that skin felt as smooth as it looked. I wondered if she ran. I thought about running with her. I thought about doing other things with her. I looked away. Mikey had a giant glass of soda in his right hand.

I went up and checked on Rose. She felt worse, her cheeks flaming and her blue eyes fever bright.

As soon as she saw me, she breathed out "Ginger ale," like she was on her deathbed.

On my way to the kitchen, I watched Bella peeling a banana. She caught my eye and smiled innocently before taking her first bite.

Mikey said something. I didn't hear.

On the kitchen counter an empty green bottle of ginger ale lay on its side. I opened the fridge anyway, hoping to find more and knowing I wouldn't. I let my head rest against the cool stainless steel door, trying not to replay the conversation I'd had with Bella the night before.

I appeared back in the doorway, wanting nothing more than to sit on the floor in between Bella's legs and watch TV. Maybe not watch TV.

"I guess I'll go to the store," I announced, not even stopping for a shower.

When I got back from the store, Mikey was still in front of the TV and announced that Emmett McCarty was upstairs. On my way there, I noticed Bella sitting on her bed painting her toes. She didn't look up, and I went on to see what the hell was up in Rose's room.

Emmett McCarty was going through her teddy bears, discussing each one, and looking entirely too pleased with himself. I sat with them for a little while but got almost instantly bored with their high school memories and gossip. I should've been annoyed, but he was so good-natured, and she was so trippy, I couldn't be bothered. And I was still preoccupied by her sister.

I went back down the hall and stood in her doorway. I knocked.

"Come in," she said, still working on her toes. The smell of the polish was strong.

I pulled the chair from her desk, turned it backwards, and sat near her bed. She had a million pillows, but no animals.

"You know about Emmett, right?" she asked, concentrating hard on the line of the brush.

"Yeah."

"Better watch out. Once he's here, he'll never leave."

I nodded and looked around her room. It was a mess. Clothes everywhere. She had a lot of books.

"So what are you doing?"

She was painting her toes bright blue. Rose wouldn't be caught dead in those toes.

She looked up from her work and smirked. It was like getting a laser beam in the face. "I'm getting ready for tonight. What does it look like?"

"Well, yeah. About that. I was thinking, after the stuff we talked about last night. I think you might want to reconsider."

"With all due respect, Edward, you don't know my life."

"No, I know. I don't."

She blew some air back and forth across her toes, then looked at me.

"You don't know what it's like being Rose's sister."

"No, but..."

"I've spent three years trying to prove I'm different, but all anyone wants is a replicate. She's perfect. I get better grades, but in every other way I'm lacking. I'm just not interested in her social life or the sisters of her friends, and I'm really not interested in picking up her sloppy seconds. I tried to keep up, but you know what it's gotten me? A whole lot of nothing. I'm bored. Boys just want a piece of Rosalie Swan's sister, so, why not? For the rest of my last year in high school, I'm going to have fun."

It was hard not to be impressed with her articulation, and everything she said made complete sense to me, but that's not what I said.

"And the first thing you're going to do is lose your virginity?"

"Textbook, right? All my college applications are in. All I have to do is keep my grades up. Why not just whore it up until I leave for school."

Her smile wrecked me. I couldn't tell whether she was kidding or not. And she was so close, and the dreams from last night were still on my skin. And all those pieces that were missing between Rose and I were right there. The piece where I might actually be able to offer her something. The piece where I didn't have to be perfect to be with her. The piece where I wanted to take her and destroy her body and teach her every lesson she wanted to learn. And she was so close. Right there.

In spite of myself I said, "I think there are other ways to have fun."

"What do you mean? Like ways to have sex without having sex? I took that class. I could masturbate. We could have oral sex —"

"Stop. Please stop," I practically begged. "That wasn't what I was getting at. Like, maybe you could paint your room or... dye your hair. I don't know what I was going to suggest."

She smiled again, a delicious and evil grin. "When you think of something, let me know," she said and screwed the cap back on the bottle of polish with a sharp twist of her wrist. I felt myself summarily dismissed.

I walked out of the room, wondering who this Tyler kid was and if he knew what a lucky bastard he was.

I went back and spent a chunk of time with Rose and Emmett in her bedroom, listening to him alternately coo and chastise her as she took tiny sips of ginger ale, chased occasionally with a small swig of cherry red cough syrup.

"C'mon, baby. You know you shouldn't do that."

He pulled the bottle away from her. It was half gone.

Her response was flirtatious and slightly slurred.

"Baby, baby, baby. Nobody calls me that anymore."

Emmett followed me downstairs into the kitchen. He opened the fridge and pulled out the makings of a sandwich. I declined the offer and watched as he made three for himself.

"She's pretty sick," he said.

"Hard to tell with all of the cough syrup."

He laughed.

"Been going out long?" He asked but I thought he probably knew.

"A while."

I saw the thought process. I didn't offer any info.

"How's she doing?"

"She's great, unbelievable."

He looked slightly chagrined, but that didn't stop him from inhaling the first sandwich.

Bella showed up in the kitchen and picked up her keys. "I'm going to get a haircut. Be back in a bit."

We both nodded at her, and when she was gone he asked, "How are you making out with MC Malice."

I laughed. "He's good."

"And Bella."

"She's fine."

"Pains in the ass, both of them."

Sandwich number two was gone.

I grinned in spite of myself.

"Christ, they're always around," he said around a mouthful of turkey.

"It's almost like they live here."

"Bella's a handful."

I thought of her tits.

"She's really grown up over the last year." I heard what he was saying. "Word on the street is that she's wild. Makes you wonder, right?" He raised his eyebrows.

I looked at him. "Maybe you should keep an eye on her. As Rose's friend."

He laughed. "I'm away at school same as you, dude, but I hear things. And what I hear is that there's a lot of guys willing to keep an eye on her. Know what I mean?"

On the one hand, I wanted to punch him in the mouth for having spent the entire day in my girlfriend's bedroom, talking shit and standing in the way of me having sex with her, regardless of the fact that she was robo-tripping and was less than interested. On the other hand, I wanted to shove the rest of the last sandwich down his throat for finding it amusing that more than one guy had designs on his ex-girlfriend's sister and thought nothing of being lewd about it. But I'd been dragging a boner around since almost the first second I'd seen her, and I knew exactly what he meant.

"Kegger tonight. I'd invite you to come but seems you are occupado, my friend."

I wondered if that was where Bella was going.

"Oh man, it's gonna be massive. Everyone's home."

Mikey showed up in a huge basketball shirt, a sideways baseball cap, and a pair of jeans slung halfway down his ass and announced he needed a ride to his football game. McCarty wasn't offering. Rose was out of it. Bella was gone. So I told him I'd do it.

He still looked tiny in his uniform when he climbed into the car. He turned up the music so loud that the bass shook the windows. I turned it down, and he began narrating the ride with his exploits, his struggles, but how everything was gonna come 'round when he built his gangster mansion with the pool in his bedroom. I turned the music back up.

I pulled into the parking lot and was going to drop him at the game, but he looked stricken that I wasn't going to stay. Not like I was going to rush home to sit with Emmett and Rose. Not like I should moon around the house and wait for Bella to show up so I could convince her not to do something that she seemed pretty well prepared for, if not a little resigned to.

Some of the kids were huge and actually knew what they were doing, which made me worried for Mikey, who just seemed to be running around. I shuddered at some of the blows he took.

I got some looks from some of the parents, probably wondering what I was doing there. There was a playground behind the bleachers where the really little kids played. There was a half-pipe down from that, and some punks were smoking and skating. It was all really familiar from where I'd grown up. It was safe. It was boring. I got that. I understood. The cheerleaders were newly minted and did some flips and splits on the sidelines. I heard one of them call out "Swanny," which made me smile. I could tell from where I sat that MC Malice was puffed up with pride.

During halftime, Bella showed up in a brown leather jacket. Her hair was shiny, and it swung when she walked. She sat down next to me and smiled.

"What's the score?"

"Tie."

"How's he doing?"

"He can't throw, but he can take a hit."

She laughed. "You like my hair?"

I wanted to touch it. "It looks nice. You look really —"

I stopped myself, and our eyes caught. Hers opened just a little bit more, and I inhaled. I almost told her that she looked beautiful. No doubt it was written on my face. She blushed and looked away toward the field.

"Oh, hey," she said and waved at someone. "Come on and meet Tyler."

She was down the bleacher steps in a flash, and I followed right behind.

She slowed her pace once she got to the field, trying to be nonchalant. She was headed toward the coaches huddle near the boys. A dark-haired dude was turned toward her, looking entirely too happy.

"He's a coach?"

"Filling in for his brother for a few weeks."

"Whoa, whoa. He doesn't go to school with you?"

"He was in Rose's class."

He was my age.

This floored me, and I stopped for a second to take in this fact but caught up with her just as she transformed into this shy, flirty girl.

"Hey, Tyler."

"Hey," he said, trying to keep it professional in front of the kids.

He was as tall as I was. And he was jacked.

Bella just kept smiling. I stood next to her and crossed my arms over my chest. I might have flexed.

He smirked. "Tyler Crowley." He stuck out his hand.

"Edward Cullen," I answered.

Bella said, "Oh, I'm sorry. Edward's my —"

I shook his hand. He tried to break mine, and I squeezed back to let him know I knew what he was doing.

"I'm her babysitter."

They both looked surprised, but only Bella laughed.

Tyler looked at each of us, not sure what to do. A whistle blew.

He jerked his thumb back at the field. "I gotta get back to the game. You still coming tonight?"

Bella looked at me. "I hope so." Then her cheeks pinked up, and I wanted to smash his face down onto the bench.

"Pick you up at seven?"

"Okay."

"Nice to meet you, Ed."

I nodded at him.

Walking back to the stands, I said, "You must be fucking kidding me."

"What?"

"That's the guy?"

"What?"

"He's huge."

She laughed. "He's ROTC."

"He's ROTC? Fuck, he's too old for you."

She snorted.

"Seriously. You need to find someone your own age."

"I don't think so."

"How old is he? He's got a beard."

"He doesn't have a beard. He just hasn't shaved. And by the way..." She ran her palm over my jaw. "How old are you?"

"I'm twenty. That's my point."

She elbowed me in the waist. "So you're too old for me?"

I stopped and faced her. "Yes, I am."

She stopped. "How so?"

"I just — it's one of those things. If you were twenty and I was twenty-three, it would be nothing, but seventeen and twenty... it's not right."

"A matter of experience?"

"Yes, exactly."

She snorted and started walking again.

"So, I need to take the time now to get the experience that would make me old enough to be with you in three years. Hypothetically, of course. Because we're not talking about you and me. We're talking about me and Tyler. And Tyler has no problem with my level of experience."

I had no idea what my point was anymore. I thought I'd been trying to convince her not have sex with some high school asshole, just because she was bored, or angry, or whatever. I felt protective of her. Now, the prospect of her having sex with this Marine, or whatever he was, it was... I didn't know what it was. I felt like I was in competition, and that made it worse.

We climbed back into the bleachers to watch the second half, but she kept talking.

"So, if I have sex with some clown from biology, not that I'm interested, or that there's any being offered, that would be better than having sex with someone older and wiser?"

"Yes, that's exact — No, that's not what I'm saying, and could you keep your voice down?" A couple women a few rows down weren't looking at us, but I could tell they were listening. "And by the way, why do you keep asking me all this shit?"

"Because I think you'll tell me the truth. And you're Rose's boyfriend. So you're safe."

I nodded. Now that she'd leveled the playing field, all of my logic was shot to hell. "And who says he's wiser? There are plenty of twenty-year old idiots."

Case in point: Me.

"Because I think it's a good idea to go with the older guy who might show me a better time, be a little more understanding of where I'm at, and maybe teach me a few things in the process."

One of the women turned her head just slightly, so she could hear better. And down on the field I saw Tyler look back over his shoulder at us. There was no way he could hear us, but he looked smug, and I had to take a few breaths to keep myself from running back and kicking the shit out him.

"You're being very clinical about this whole thing." I whispered.

"I'm being practical."

"You're rushing it."

"I'm not. I'm taking control of it. It's going to happen at some point. Maybe I'll find someone. Maybe I won't. Maybe I'll get drunk and lose it at a party, and I won't even remember half of it. Maybe I'll wait until I'm in college, and I won't be able to concentrate on my studies because I'm too curious and horny, and I'll waste all of my father's money and screw up my future, and then I won't be able to get a decent job or find a nice guy, and I'll live in a trailer park and do drugs. Isn't it better to plan it out for the best possible outcome? Pick some guy and get it out of my system so I can focus?

I thought about the black lipstick on my dick and how much I never wanted that to be Bella.

Something happened in the game, and the people around us started clapping, so Bella and I clapped, too.

"Go, Mikey!" she yelled.

"And Tyler's the guy?"

"So I hear," she said focused on the field to figure out what happened.

But I could only focus on her. "So you hear?"

"Plus, he's had the hots for Rose for forever, so he's going to want to make a good impression."

My mind spun. She had this all planned out. "No. Absolutely not. This is not how it works, Bella."

I wanted to offer myself up to her, then and there. Let me show you how. Let me do this for you. Fucking hell, just let me. But there was more to it than that. Somehow, in less than twenty-four hours, I'd become invested. And it was the opposite of easy. Easy was Rose. Easy was leaving her with her ex-boyfriend in her bedroom. Not easy was trying to maintain the moral high ground while understanding both sides of the equation: the part where I wanted to drag Bella back to my car and fuck the daylights out of her to help get it out of her system, and the part where I wanted her to stop being so cynical that she'd given up believing it could be otherwise.

"Oh, yeah? How does it work? Did you have a big romance in high school and lose your virginity to the prom queen?"

I needed to calm down, so I tried to make light of my history.

"No. And yes."

She laughed. "Yes to which part."

"Yes to prom queen. No to romance."

"And was it great?"

"It was definitely not bad."

"For her too?"

I had no idea, so I lied.

"Yes, for her too."

"Liar. I can see you making out in a car with some girl, her dress bunched up around her waist. You were probably parking in a cemetery."

I laughed. "Not even close."

It was a dairy.

"Rose was the prom queen," she said.

"I know. I saw the pictures."

"Emmett was the king."

"Yup."

"Were you the king?"

"Nope."

"Captain of the football team?"

"Nope."

"Valedictorian."

I laughed.

"Baseball team. Swim team. Hockey."

"Nope and nope and nope."

"Go ahead. Just say it."

"Lacrosse."

She shrieked. "Oh my GOD! You ARE perfect together!"

The women in front of us turned around and looked at her.

She took her voice down. "And you had sex with the prom queen on the night of the prom."

"I didn't say it was the night of the prom."

"But it was, wasn't it. I can just imagine you two, and her giant corsage. Her giant, throbbing, corsage."

She was laughing so hard.

"Yes, it was the night of the prom, Bella. Yes, she was the prom queen. No, she wasn't my date. I don't remember a corsage."

"She wasn't your date?" Bella sat back and her mouth dropped open. "You slept with someone's date?"

I shrugged.

"You dog."

For some reason, it made me happy to shock her.

"Emmett and Rose didn't have sex at the prom."

"And you know this because..."

"She told me."

I nodded, not wanting to know any details.

"She didn't have sex at all in high school."

As far as I knew, she didn't have sex in college either, but this was a teaching moment, and I grabbed at the opportunity.

"See? There are other ways to have fun."

"But she wishes she had."

"She told you this, too?"

"Yes."

"With Emmett?"

"But see? There's no Emmett for me, and maybe there are boys that would be willing, but I want it to be good if it's not going to be love. I don't want to be the prom queen."

"You know what? This whole thing is a horrible idea. And I think — I think you're beautiful and that any guy would be lucky to be with you, but it's like your refrigerator. You've lowered your expectations."

She sat up a little straighter, like maybe — just maybe — I'd gotten through to her.

"Thank you, Edward" she said. "You are a great babysitter."

I wanted her to say boyfriend.

And then everybody was clapping again, and the game was over.

Mikey went to a team party after the game, which was apparently the last one of the season. Emmett was up with Rose in her bedroom, and I had less than no interest in either of them because Bella and I were watching an Invader Zim marathon, and I was sitting next to her on the couch. We'd picked up the conversation from the night before, but more playfully this time.

I started. "Best sex you ever had?"

She gave me a look.

"Oh, that's right, you haven't had any."

"Best sex you've ever had."

"Spring Fling, freshmen year."

"With?"

"A girl." I had the upper hand for once, and I decided I would keep it for as long as possible.

"Not my sister."

"I wouldn't tell you this story if it was your sister."

"What was her name?"

"You wouldn't know her."

"I still want to know her name."

"Why?"

"I don't know. To see if you match."

"Not telling."

"But she wasn't your girlfriend."

"No."

She smacked my arm. "Ugh."

"Why ugh? Is Tyler your boyfriend?"

"We're not talking about me. Tell me why it was great sex."

"Because I was mostly sober."

"And?"

"Because it started early and didn't end until really late."

"And?"

"Because... it built up over time.

"And?"

"We were both certain when it happened. There were no expectations, and afterwards, no regrets."

She huffed in frustration. "Could you be more vague? I want details."

"I'm not giving you details." Holding back from her was almost as fun as thinking about giving in.

"Why not? You told me it was my job to get experience."

"C'mon, that's not what I said."

"Just tell me, you chicken."

"Why do you want to hear this?"

"I don't know. It's fun. It gets me going."

"Yeah?"

Bella tried to hide her smile.

"Yeah."

I paused. She leaned in.

"So, there was this girl. I used to see her in the library. Like for weeks, in the same place, at the same time. So I started getting there early and leaving her notes. And we would just look at each other, every once in a while, until one of us left."

"You never spoke to her?"

"Nope, not then."

"And you never followed her?"

"What am I, a stalker?"

"What did your notes say?"

"I told her what she looked like when she was studying."

"What did she look like?"

"She had dark hair and dark eyes. She was beautiful." A piece of her hair was in her face, and I wanted to reach over and tuck it behind her ear. "Crazy beautiful."

"Tell me about the sex."

"You don't want to hear about the letters? They were good letters."

"I want to know what it was like when you touched her."

"You want me to tell you what it did to me when she let me under her clothes?"

"Yes," she whispered.

"What it felt like when I touched her skin?"

Her breathing was shallow, and she nodded.

"The sound of her voice when she said my name? The warmth of her mouth on my throat?"

She ran her hand through her hair.

"Or do you want to know how she let me push her legs apart?"

Bella's eyes were wide. She looked like hell. It was great.

Emmett roared, "Rose wants Subway! I'm going out." He popped his head into the room. "You guys want anything?" He gave us a curious look. We both shook our heads. He left and she turned back to me.

"Are you going to fight him for her?" Her voice was low, soft.

I didn't say anything.

"You don't love her."

"It's not like that with us." We had shifted our positions, and we were sitting closer than conversation required.

"Then you haven't had sex with her."

Nothing.

"Because Rose promised not to have sex with anyone unless the person really, really loved her."

"She promised?"

"She promised Emmett."

I wanted to make Bella make the same promise to me.

"And I guess that's why I'm not fighting him for her."

She launched herself off the couch. "I'm actually kinda hungry."

I followed her into the kitchen like we were attached by a rope.

She opened the fridge and looked inside, then she looked at me, then back inside, then at me again.

"How do scrambled eggs sound?"

"They sound great."

"Perfect. Will you make them for me?"

I laughed, and she sat on the counter while I cooked. Neither of us said anything, but we grinned at each other now and again. We ate standing up, and when we were done, I said, "By the way, you don't want sex. You want romance. That story I told you? Totally made up."

She looked like she might hit me.

Bella disappeared into her room for the rest of the afternoon; Emmett came back and then went out again to get Rose ice cream, and Mikey came home from his friend's house.

At six, she came down in a short skirt and cowboy boots. Mike and I were watching Anastasia. She asked us how she looked.

She looked unbelievable.

"Too skimpy," I said. "You'll be cold."

She stomped back up stairs and then came back down in a pair of jeans, a plaid shirt, and the boots.

"How about now?"

"Don't ask me to do this."

"Are you going to a square dance?" her brother asked.

I wondered how much of the situation he was picking up, but he seemed to be on my side.

"It's the shirt, right?"

I nodded. Whatever. It was everything.

The third time, she had on the jeans from before, a shirt that showed every curve, and a pair of heels that made her legs look like they should be wrapped around my waist.

A car horn beeped from outside, and her face went white.

I went to her. "You don't have to do this, Bella. Don't do it."

She was still pissed and tried to get around me, but I held her by the shoulders.

"Bella."

She looked determined and nervous, but she wouldn't meet my eyes. I thought about picking her up and carrying her to her room. Every nerve in my body was on high alert. I leaned down to her face. "Don't be angry about before."

She looked at me. Her eyes were on fire. "I'm sure you think this is very funny."

"I don't. Bella, I don't."

"I have to go."

She looked at me, but I didn't know how to beg her not to.

"Be good, Mikey," she said and slipped around me.

"You be good," he responded.

When she was gone, I slunk back down on the couch, worried for her and sorry for myself. I kept looking at the clock on the cable box and trying not to wonder what they were doing or where they were. I grumbled something about him not even having the fucking decency to come to the door.

Mike said, "Yeah, my dad doesn't allow that."

Which brought me straight out of my chair and looking for my keys.

"Where's this fucking party?" I asked Emmett, who was pretty cozy with my girlfriend in her bed.

"Down at the beach, why?"

"You're going to a party without me?" giggled Rose.

I grabbed Mike on the way out. "C'mon. I need a navigator."

It took us awhile to figure out which beach to go to, with me being from out of town, and Mikey being clueless, but we finally worked it out and hiked over the dunes to the bonfire. I felt a little conspicuous, because once Mikey had seen where we were headed, he'd adopted this little ghetto walk which made him look like he had a sprained ankle. After the third time I asked him to stop flashing the backward peace sign, he got the message, though he kept the limp.

Bella was nowhere to be found. Some girls thought maybe they saw her earlier. A few others thought she left. A guy smirked and said he saw her with Tyler heading to the parking lot.

I swallowed my pride and asked him if he knew what kind of car Tyler drove and instantly felt a tug on the back of my shirt.

"A red van."

I turned and looked at Mikey. "Are you serious? A van?"

He nodded, looking very earnest.

So we went looking for it. Mikey was walking to my right. I was barely paying attention to him, until he said, "Yo, man. This is the real shit now," and then something about poppin' somebody's ass. I told him to shut the hell up, because I was stressed enough without having to deal with his absurdity.

His face fell, and I felt bad for half a second, until I saw the fucking van parked toward the back of the lot. When we got close, it was definitely moving. No one was in the driver's seat. I yelled Bella's name. No one answered, so I went round the back. Though I cursed my life for having to do it, I knocked.

No answer.

I knocked again.

Nothing.

I pointed at my sidekick. "Mikey. Go stand over there by that other car. And close your eyes."

When I made sure he wasn't looking, I pulled on the handle at the back of the van and got a full on glimpse of a dude's bare ass and a pair of legs on his shoulders.

"What the fuck?" he yelled and was up and at me in a flash. He grabbed the front of my shirt with one hand and was holding his pants up with the other. We were moving backwards fast, out of control, but as he pushed me down hard onto the hood of the car behind me, I noticed, to my great pleasure, that the girl holding her shirt over her chest was not who I was dreading it was going to be.

I was leaning back, and I was ready for his fist when I heard a little voice say, "Hey, Coach."

And Tyler dropped me like a sack of potatoes.

"Oh, hey. Hey. Malice. What up?"

"We're looking for my sister. Seen her?"

The asshole looked at me like he still wanted to take that punch but said, "She was here. She left."

"Where'd she go?" I asked.

He laughed, but he wasn't amused. "That chick — I have no idea. She has a mind of her own, man."

He stepped back, and I grabbed Mikey by his collar and practically dragged him back to my car to keep him from looking in the windows of the others.

We drove around a little bit longer, but I didn't know where I was, and Mikey had no idea where she might have gone, and she didn't answer her phone when he called. So, I bought him an ice cream on the way home. And she, of course, was shut up in her room when we got there.

I told Mikey to go to bed. Rose's door was closed. I was pissed when I knocked on Bella's door.

"Fuck off," she said.

My adrenaline was still going for almost having the shit beaten out of me, so I pushed right on in. She was laying in bed with a book.

"When did you get home?"

"A while ago. Now would you mind." She had this sneer going in her voice, like I was intruding on her privacy. "I'm trying to read."

"You know what Bella?" I had a lot I wanted to say to her, but she got this condescending look on her face. Fucking spoiled little rich girl who dodged a bullet. I just shook my head. "I'm glad you're in one piece," I scoffed and walked away.

But when I got to the door she whisper-yelled, "You fucking wrecked everything!"

I turned, furious with her, but kept my voice low, too, so her brother and sister couldn't hear the fuckery that was going down in her room. I walked back over to her. The reading lamp next to her bed made her skin glow.

"What did I wreck? Your little fuck fest in the back of a van?" I laughed at her. "Give me a break."

"I didn't know it was gonna be — Hey! How do you know he has a van?" Her voice was accusing.

"Whatever, Bella. Good night."

"You came after me?"

"It's better that way. Trust."

She frowned at my stupid dirty joke.

"You think I'm a kid."

"Oh, yeah. I certainly do."

She sat up, and the sheets slipped down. She had on a blue lace bra, and her hair was up in a ponytail.

"My plan made sense!" she hissed.

"Your plan was fucked up! Who does that shit?"

"I do. I don't want to wait around and wonder. I'm sick and tired of just passing the time waiting.

"What are you waiting for?"

She stopped and looked up at me. I was standing right over her. Her chest was heaving; she was so mad.

"I'm waiting for... I'm waiting for... I just want to feel something. I'm sick of not feeling anything, Edward."

And I snapped. My mouth was on her, and I pressed her back against her bed.

We went from zero to sixty in no time flat. Her hands were on my shirt, and she was trying to unbutton it. I pulled her up and ran my hands up her back, feeling for the clasp of her bra. I unhooked it and held the weight of her beautiful breasts. I ran my thumbs across her nipples, which perked right up. Her lips were sweet, and her tongue darted out to mine. I felt ice water running down my back and into my balls. I pulled her onto my lap, so she was pressed against me. I thrust forward, and she took the clue and started moving up and down, but my mind started going: Slow. Slow down. Slow. Mikey's in the next room. Mikey. Rose.

I pulled back, but she wouldn't let go.

And I thought, No way. Not like this. I'm not a substitute fuck. And this isn't how it should be. I held her tight and tried to stop. We were both breathing like we'd run a marathon.

"You make me crazy, Bella. Twenty-four hours and I don't even know who I am. I can't do this like this."

But she wasn't having any of it. So I held her wrists and pulled her off of me, with a lot of regret, but without second thoughts. This was not only not easy; it was the hardest thing I'd ever done.

"Don't leave," she whispered. "Please."

"Come see me when you have your head on straight. Then maybe we'll talk."

It probably goes without saying that Bella was nowhere to be found the next day, and I didn't get a chance to say goodbye. It's probably also obvious that Rose and I officially broke up on the drive back to school. And the goddamn thing of it was the minute we did, the mood lightened, and all the things I'd liked about her came rushing right back — including the fact that she reminded me so much of her sister. I didn't think that was going to stop any time soon.

We went back to our old routine, minus the occasional make out sessions. I wasn't interested in anyone else, but it didn't feel right to ask about Bella. I hoped she was enjoying the rest of her senior year, whatever that meant.

One Saturday in May, just before finals, I was in my room studying, door cracked as per regulations. I had half of my economics book stuffed into my head. I was hoping to at least get another couple of hours in and was just noticing it had been a light day, trauma-wise. But as soon as I had that thought, my door banged open, and Paul and Sam came barreling into my room.

They were stumbling over themselves and talking.

"There was a chick... down in the lobby..."

"She's so hot... you can't..."

Sam was clutching his chest. "She winked at me. She fucking winked at me."

"Oh my god." Paul laughed. "And her fucking father was standing right next to her, glaring at us. He had no idea."

They were hollering and carrying on, and I was getting pissed, because I could feel the info I'd just crammed into my head leaching out of my brain into their excitement.

"Tell him the best part! Tell him the best part!" Paul said.

"We got into the elevator with them, and Jesus Christ, this girl is like heaven. There are like seven people in that car, and we're all pressed together. This girl, she smells like oh my god, and we're all jammed in there and her tits, Edward, you know what I mean? And she's smiling at me. And then I'm thinking where have I seen a pair like those before, and the door of the elevator opens, and guess who the fuck is standing there waiting for them?"

"I have no idea," I said, just wanting them out of my room.

"Rosalie Fucking Swan!" announces Paul.

"There are two of them, dude! Two of them! And one of them winked at me! Why didn't you tell us? This is fucking epic wank material."

With Bella was in this building, my heart rate, which had been growing steadily faster as they told me the story, was at an all time high. Then BOOM my door banged open again. Billy slammed into my room, whispering loudly, "She's on the floor. She's on the floor."

Billy stuck his head out the door, then pulled it back in quick. "Oh, shit. She's coming."

Sam looked at me like he would shit his pants. "What if she's coming for me? What do I do?"

And these two idiots who had been jumping around like maniacs stopped, and all four of us stared at the door, which was not quite closed.

We heard the soft tap tap and watched as it slowly opened. And there she was, looking so good I wanted to cry.

"Oh, hey," she said all shy and smiled at the guys. "Am I interrupting something?"

I grabbed her hand and dragged her into the room.

"Everybody out! All of you. Get the fuck out."

I slammed the door behind them.

"You can't shut your door! You're on duty!" one of them yelled, then punched the door.

"This isn't fair!" another one yelled. "You can't have both!"

Bella smiled. "Am I going to get you in trouble."

Too late for that, I thought.

"No. I'm studying. It's fine."

She wandered in and looked around, touching my stuff. This was one of the older dorms, and I had a fireplace. Not that it worked.

"Your room is huge."

"Thank you," I said and grinned.

She picked up my meaning, and ran with it. "But your bed is so small."

"I'm not taking the bait."

She laughed and wandered over to my desk and looked at my books.

"Macroeconomics? She picked up my syllabus and read. "Blah, blah, blah, causes and consequences of variations in gross national product, blah, blah. On second thought, maybe I won't go to college."

"Good thinking. You visiting your sister?

"She's got some kind of luncheon thing we have to go to. Rah. Rah." And she did a little shimmy.

I laughed, but it looked like she had something else to say.

"So... I think I'm coming here," she said and then her cheeks blushed. "I mean, I got accepted."

The thrill that ran through me was appalling.

"A college girl."

She laughed. "Yep."

It was all right there between us. She looked so good. The same, only a little different.

"Your hair?"

"I highlighted it."

"It looks nice."

"Remember? That was what you told me to do rather than... you know?"

I laughed. "Did you paint your room, too?"

"I did. And Mikey's."

I could feel the prickling between our bodies.

"So you'll be up here in the fall."

"I think so."

"You think so?"

"Yeah."

"I'd like that."

"You would?"

I put my hands on her waist. Her smile was huge.

Someone started pounding on my door.

"Fuck off!" I yelled.

"Fuck off yourself, Edward. Let me in, or I'll use the skeleton key."

Rose.

Bella shook her head and broke away to open the door.

Standing together, I could see why the guys were so excited, and in fact, there they were behind the sisters trying to get a good look into my room.

Rose didn't look mad, but she didn't look happy either. She stood in the doorway. "Did you ask him yet? We have to go."

I looked at Bella. "Ask me what?"

She blushed.

Rose was annoyed. "Oh my god, Bella. Tick, tick! We have to go!"

Bella looked sheepish. "Well, I was wondering if you wanted to take me to my prom?"

I leaned over and slammed the door on all of them. I walked toward her.

"Decided you want the whole romance thing?"

She took a step back and nodded.

I stepped forward. "You want to dance with me, Bella?"

She took another step back. "We don't even have to go to the dance — we can just go straight to the cemetery."

I grinned and stepped forward again. "You want me to tell you what the idea of taking you to the prom does to me?"

She nodded and tried to step back again, but there was nowhere for her to go.

"What it'll be like when I touch your skin?"

I pulled her arms around my neck and lifted her up. She wrapped her legs around me. I pushed her against the wall. She looked up at me, and her brown eyes sparkled.

"Do you want me to tell you what it does to me when you look at me like that?"

She kissed me, then whispered in my ear.

"Do you want me to tell you what I thought about while I was painting my room? The things we did when I imagined you were my babysitter?"

"Your babysitter?"

She bit her lip.

"You're too old for a babysitter. Can we say boyfriend instead?"

A/N: I hope you enjoyed this little story. It was so much fun to write!

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