Rating: M

Disclaimer: Stephanie Meyers owns everything Twilight.

A/N: I actually started writing this story before 'Before the Bloodlust Begins' but put it aside when I had to get that story out of my head. I am taking a break from writing the sequel to BtBB and have returned to my original story. I hope that you like it.

Once again my incredible Beta T, Lovin Rob has consented to edit for me. I don't know why? But I'd like to thank her and kiss her feet just the same.


Chapter One

"Some people claim that marriage interferes with romance. There's no doubt about it. Anytime you have a romance, your wife is bound to interfere." Groucho Marx

Bella

My eyes are fixed on the modern abstract painting hanging prominently behind our therapist, Jessica Stanley's desk. There are two rectangular shapes pushing up against each other, each vying to position itself against the other. It seems a rather fitting portrayal considering what actually goes on in this office. Or perhaps it's supposed to represent some bizarre, twisted and kinky sexual encounter ... hmm.

I'm disturbed that my traitorous mind and body always seems to drift back to sex whenever I'm in his presence but it's been awhile since that itch has been scratched and well, that was never an area where we had any issues. I unconsciously cross my legs feeling somewhat aroused. As I continue to think about the meaning of the painting, I vaguely hear the monotonous drone of Jessica's annoying voice bringing me back to our counseling session.

"Bella? Earth to Bella! You haven't heard a single thing I've just said, have you?" Jessica peers up at me over her glasses that have slid down the bridge of her nose.

"She doesn't listen to me. Why should you be any different?" Edward, my soon-to-be ex mumbles snidely under his breath.

He probably thinks that I didn't hear him but I am used to his off-handed and thoughtless comments. I turn my focus over to my husband, the supposed 'love of my life' and just shake my head and inwardly seethe. Talk about pot calling the kettle black!

Now most women would probably envy me believing that because I am married to this drop-dead, off-the-charts gorgeous man that I lead this equally perfect life. Well, truthfully in the beginning it was amazing and for awhile afterwards it was incredible … okay, I'll admit it - it was fucking perfect, emphasis on the fucking but now …

What is that old saying? 'Beauty is only skin deep' and there is little doubt that my husband is very easy on the eyes. Edward is GQ model material for sure and if his agent has her way, he will soon be gracing that magazine as well. Physically he is the total package. He's tall and physically fit, not too lanky or too muscular. But what catches most people's attention is his face; he is simply the very definition of masculine beauty itself.

I quickly glance over at him and notice that his chiseled jaw and chin are covered with a soft golden scruff. My fingers are desperate to reach over and stroke it. Quickly I turn away knowing that if I look into those baby blue eyes and see those long eyelashes that my resolve will start to crumble and I must stay strong. I won't allow myself to fall apart in front of him ever again.

Get a grip, girl!

With silky bronze tousled hair he looks like he has just gotten out of the sack, which is probably the case. He's playing with his hair now … running his long fingers through it over and over again. It's an unconscious nervous habit of his. I used to think that it was cute and rather sexy but now it just annoys the shit out of me!

Slowly I lean in closer towards him and he is giving me that smirk that used to dissolve my panties. The one that says, 'I so own you'. I can't help myself and smack his fingers - hard. He recoils and glares at me. I hope it hurt!

"What the hell was that for? See what I've had to put up with!" He wails and flashes Jessica his 'poor little boy, won't you feel sorry for me' expression to garner her sympathy.

It's working. I strongly suspect that our therapist isn't immune to his charms and harbors an unprofessional crush on him.

"Ah, poor baby." I mutter. In my personal opinion he deserves much, much worse than a hand slap. Where is a whip when you need one?

"Okay, you two need to focus." Jessica snaps but is looking solely at me.

Who can I report her unethical conduct to?

"How do you either of you expect to make any significant progress in saving your marriage if you don't pay attention and play by the rules that we've established? We discussed this in our last session, did we not? This is a neutral zone … like Switzerland. You must leave your hostilities at the door."

I break out into uncontrollable fits of laughter. Is this woman delusional? Why else would we be sitting here with her as referee if we were able to work out our issues without anger and emotions getting in the way? Save our marriage? Is that even possible anymore?

"And like I told you before, that is easier said than done." There – take that you charlatan!

"Ditto." Edward says.

Oh my! He finally agrees with something I've said. Maybe there is hope?

"But she started it this time." He is pouting like a petulant little boy and pushes out his lower lip.

Don't look at it Bella! My ship of hope has been torpedoed and flounders in the water.

"That's one of her many problems. She's always striking out at me for the littlest things … turning mountains into molehills."

Jessica flashes him a look of empathy for his 'suffering'. Can I slap her too?

"Don't you have that backwards Einstein?" I snap back.

"Tell me Bella because I really want to know." A look of triumph spreads across his face. "When did you turn into such a bitch?"

My ship has capsized and sunk but my anger has resurfaced. I feel my face start to redden and my blood pressure rise. Taking a deep cleansing breath, I hold it before slowly exhaling while silently counting to ten and repeat the process several times. Jessica should be pleased considering I was using one of the calming methods listed on that stupid sheet she had given us.

How dare he accuse me of over-reacting and calling me a bitch? My subconscious has to admit that he is partially right though … I am acting like a bitch but it's only because he has unleashed her. Our issues were not of my making.

Jessica smiles and bats her eyes at him sweetly. "Name calling is a no-no Edward."

Good God, kill me now!

"We'll start with you first Bella. Go on …" Jessica eggs me.

In a cool, calm and collected voice with a look of insincerity plastered on my face, I turn to Jessica. "I shouldn't have smacked his hand. I apologize for my inappropriate behavior."

"That wasn't so hard now was it Bella?" But she doesn't stop there and adds, "It's wonderful that you are apologizing for your juvenile behavior but you should really be saying this to Edward. After all, you assaulted him, not me."

I tilt my head in Edward's direction and catch him smirking out of the corner of my eye. Damn! I mumble an incoherent, "Sorry."

"Um … Bella. I didn't quite hear that. Could you speak up?"

It's becoming increasingly apparent to me that he is enjoying this.

Facing him, I angrily blurt out, "Should we add hearing loss to your long list of short-comings?"

His previously triumphant face turns glacial.

"Enough already!" This time Jessica admonishes us both. "I can see that we have a long way to go but our time is done for today. I expect to see you both here with improved attitudes next Friday."

Hey, I'm feeling better already.

Edward bolts out of his chair as if he's been electrocuted and storms out of the office before I can even manage to uncross my legs. Slowly I rise from my chair, suddenly aware that my left leg has fallen asleep.

"You're wasting your time trying to salvage our relationship." I say to Jessica who is scribbling notes on her pad.

And I mean it. "I'm pretty sure that if the Court hadn't made counseling a mandatory condition of granting us a quick divorce, that neither one of us would be here. It doesn't seem to be doing us much good." I let out an audible sigh. Two more months and I'll finally be free from my albatross of a marriage.

Jessica doesn't raise her head but looks at me above her glass frames again. "I'm not giving up on either of you. I love a good challenge and I have a fairly impressive track record of reuniting couples whose relationships are on death's door, so to speak."

She let's out a quick laugh and adds, "My staff likes to lay odds on the outcome whenever I take on new clients."

Pins and needles shoot down my leg as I struggle to stand up. "Oh really? What odds have Edward and I been given?"

With a deadpan expression, she answers without hesitation, "Slim to none." A wicked gleam crosses her face.

Bitch!

Ouch that hurts and it's not just my leg. For a brief moment I really want to prove her staff of illegal bookies wrong but I have to admit that unless pigs start to fly or it snows in Hell those are fairly good odds.

How ironic that Edward and I are here … in couple's counseling of all places? Never in a million years would I have thought that possible. I hobble over to the elevator and make my way through the parking lot to my rusty, old, but dependable pick-up truck and climb inside. The engine sputters and protests as I turn the key in the ignition. No, don't let me down old girl! After several tries and my cajoling pleas, it roars to life and I turn onto the wet Seattle roadway.

I just have to make one quick stop at my now old home and pick up the rest of my stuff. Being as it is the start of the weekend it's doubtful that Edward will be there. As I'm driving I can't help but wonder where we went wrong.

How did we get here?

~StN~

Edward

My hands clench and unclench on the steering wheel as I speed around town trying to calm myself down after having had to endure an entire hour in couple's counseling. What a joke! But truth be told I am trying to avoid going back 'home' as long as possible and it's too early for the boys to come out and play. I've already been driving for a good, solid hour with no set destination. It's just the Volvo, the highway and me.

I'm trying to concentrate on the slippery roads though my thoughts continuously wander back to the hell that has taken over every aspect of my life these past few weeks. Squinting without my contacts in, I fiddle with the radio, adjust the A/C, and turn off the radio. I get sick of the silence and turn it back on. I cannot believe how many goddamn commercials there are so I turn it back off, bump up the speed of my windshield wipers and retry the radio yet again. STILL more fucking commercials! I turn it back off for good.

Silence … No … no, silence is not good. I need a distraction.

I drum my fingers on the wheel as I slow down approaching a red traffic light. Normally I don't pay any attention to the cars around me but today I find myself observing my surroundings with intensity since I have nothing better to do. I desperately need to get my mind off of her.

I turn my head to the left and look through the window noting how the raindrops seem to race each other down the panel of the safety glass. As my eye focuses, I see a little old gray-haired lady staring back at me with a blank expression on her prune face. The corners of her mouth have been pulled down by the forces of gravity into a forever frown. She sits in the passenger seat with a frail, hunched over shadow of a man, that I assume is her husband, behind the wheel. Briefly I wonder if he should even be driving. Is the poor guy even alive?

I give her a small smile, the best that I can do in these dire times. Her expression remains unchanged and my smile fades.

The light turns green.

She flicks me off as the old Buick she is in crawls forward.

Oh-kay, angry old bitch. Today is torture Edward day apparently. Why didn't I get the memo?

Angrily I step on the gas and proceed to make a sharp right turn down the street that holds my broken home. I swerve into the empty driveway, jam the car into park and abruptly silence the engine. I sigh and unconsciously run my hand through my hair before exiting the vehicle.

The welcome mat below the front door mocks me. 'Home Sweet Home' … yeah, my ass! I step into the dark house, slam the front door behind me and immediately turn on the lights.

Bare house? Check. It seems as though she has taken the time to stop here after our, oh so enlightening 'therapy' session to pick up the rest of her shit. That or she had one of her friends do it, maybe even … no, she wouldn't dare send him here or would she? My heart races and I clench and unclench my fists repeatedly.

Tossing my keys on top of the small entry table and my shoes down the hallway, I make my way into the kitchen. I desperately need something to calm my nerves. Inside of the mostly empty fridge I grab two beers before kicking the door closed with the heel of my foot. Meandering into the living room, I plop heavily down onto the micro-fiber couch and sink into the soft cushions. Setting the beers down in front of me, I jam my hands down my pants with a bit of effort and manage to scratch my itchy balls. It's about time that they get some fucking attention! Now that the twins have been adjusted and relieved, I put my dirty sock covered feet onto the pristine glass coffee table in front of me, one foot crossed over the other and stretch out.

Bella would be so pissed. She always insisted that the glass top remain impossibly spot free. I smirk as I crack open the first beer and take a good healthy swig, hissing through my teeth as the cold carbonated liquid races towards my stomach causing gas to bubble up and rise, quickly resulting in a spectacular belch. It echoes through the almost empty room. It almost makes me giddy with glee but I manage to restrain myself.

Ah … she definitely would have something to say. Didn't she always?

As I sit in the deafening silence, I give up the quest of trying to block out my thoughts and finally let them consume me.

How did we get here?


A/N: Now I'm sure most of you are worried that this is going to be an angsty, nail-biting drama but you would be mistaken. The hostility between Edward and Bella in this chapter is about as bad as it gets. I plan to take a more light-hearted, sarcastic and irreverent approach with a good healthy dose of humor as they work through their issues.

I strongly encourage feedback. I won't bite. Please leave me your constructive criticisms, opinions or questions in the form of a review. It's the only way I have of knowing if you guys are with me or not. Now hit that 'REVIEW' button now!

I plan on posting every Friday but to launch this story off with fireworks, I will post another before the 4th. I hope that you join me!

C