Chapter 1

My to do list starts at sunrise - which is early in Phoenix. Shower. Make breakfast. Pack lunch. Check backpacks. I don't have much time to get Seth and myself ready for the day. I have to drop him off at school and get to the university. I work in the Chemistry department as a teaching assistant and secretary to Dr. Banner, the chair of the department. It doesn't pay much, but luckily I'm on scholarship and I own our small house. At least my mother did something good.

When I'm done, I pick up Seth from after school care and we go to the batting cages or the park. I need to nurture his talent because he's very talented for his age. Like his father. Except he's an asshole. I'd like to think that Seth only got baseball DNA from him and none of his douchier traits.

Then we do chores, eat dinner, and go to sleep. Then repeat it all the next day. And the next. We have a tight schedule. I don't have any wiggle room for extra activities. Like fun. Or having a life.

But that's the way it's always been. At least I don't know what I'm missing.


I'll get over that empty feeling in the pit of my stomach.


It's probably just cramps.




"Dr. Banner's office, Bella speaking." I try to sound polite, but these damn calls keep interrupting my studying. Don't these dumb-asses know that I'm trying to pass Mass Spectrometry?

"Um, hi. I'm looking for Jasper Hale." Hmm, sexy voice. This is a nice change of pace from the usual dorks that call this number (me included). Too bad he's looking for Jasper. Maybe he'll let me watch them do stuff. I snort a little into the phone because Jasper isn't gay and I don't like threesomes. It's sad that my perverted musings are my only form of entertainment. Well, that and reruns of Golden Girls.

Thankfully the perverted thoughts don't mix with the Golden Girls. Because it would be gross to picture Betty White like that.

And really sad.

I collect myself, clearing thoughts of guy-with-sexy-voice and old ladies out of my head so I can sound professional. "Ahem, Jasper isn't in until three. May I take a message?"

"Yes, please tell him that Edward needs to talk to him about his sister. It's extremely important. I'm tired of her trying to avoid me."

Great. A guy actually sparks my interest and he's taken. And he must be desperate to try to call this girl's brother to get in touch with her. Which means he's probably ugly. But he sounds hot - like he could totally get paid for phone sex. But I saw a special on television about phone sex operators and they were all fat guys on parole or had goiters or something. Needless to say they weren't datable.

I take down goiter boy's number and leave the message for Jasper, the other teaching assistant. I hope this caller doesn't cause any problems for Jasper. Now he's the perfect guy. Not for me, of course, because he's like my brother. He is brilliant and cute, in a "I buy clothes in a comic book store, but I have potential" sort of way. I tried to set him up with Alice, but she wasn't interested. She says he's too studious for her. Makes her feel dumb. I told him not to quiz her on the Periodic table. She thought he was asking about her menstrual cycle.

And Alice doesn't like talking about either of those things.

Despite her lack of love for all things chemical, she and I are besties. She befriended me when I was a seventeen-year-old freshman and stuck by me when I got custody of Seth. We bonded over having shitty parents, though hers have money and try to buy her love. Mine are just out of the picture.

She's my sister, best friend, and stand-by babysitter. I owe her a lot. She helps out more than I can repay because god knows what a shitty friend I am. That is one of the reasons I wanted her to go out with Jasper. I thought he would balance out her life. I still think they'd make a great couple. Alice just isn't ready for his awesomeness. Yet. I know they are meant for each other.

Jasper knows it, too. He says he's been waiting for her. I think it's sweet and only a little creepy the way he fixates on her.

You'd think that I would have the same hope for myself. That someone is out there who wants a science nerd with tons of baggage and commitments. Right. I'm destined to remain untouched. I mean by something other than my finger vibe.

Which reminds me, I need a new battery. Yeah, so my nights are lonely.

There aren't any more phone calls so I continue studying even though I'm confident that I know everything for my last final. My over-preparation is what's gotten me to this point - one semester and a thesis from my M.S. in Organic Chemistry. Next year I'll teach and work on my Ph.D. while raising a seven-year-old boy. You know, your typical college hijinks.

Who needs a man?

Or a life?




A/N Hi, everyone. Thank you for finding my new story.

Thanks to Cosmogirl (my solemeat)for holding my hand and convincing me to post this. I wouldn't write anything without her encouragement. She has a new story that I'm sure all of you are reading already. Dear Veronica. Check it out if you haven't.

Also, I'm thrilled that the lovely rtgirl agreed to preread for me. Go read her stuff.

I plan to update frequently (daily, most likely). Hopefully, you'll be with me for this ride.