*Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight. No copyright infringement is intended.

Entry for the Pick a Pic Challenge banner number 93 by anniegirl27



I look through my window at gray-filled sky. I'm surrounded by the gloom and doom of a mundane life. I live in an upscale condo with modern decor. Me: a moderately successful, corporate lawyer. Is this all there is?

Everything is a sham.

I have family and pure, warm love back at home. Here, the life I've paved for myself—it's all a charade.

I spent five years of nothing with a platinum, plastic, mindless doll. I gave her nothing, and she gave me only slightly more. Hopefully, this time, I've gotten rid of her for good.


I had put my phone on silent, but the vibration is so loud. I can't physically feel it, but my brain rattles at the sound.

No. Go away, Jake. I don't need you. I'm done.

No, Dad, I don't need your protection. I'm an adult; I've been one for a while now.

Why can't they understand? I don't need anyone.

It's never, "Come home, Bella. I need you; I miss you." It's always, "Let me take care of you, Bella," and, "I don't like you out there alone."


The world I live in is missing a tender, feminine presence. Tanya brought nothing but overpriced, tacky eyesores and strong, chemical scents. Anyone would be allergic to inhaling that much perfume.

My coffee mug leaves a ring on the counter. I flinch at first, but then decide to leave it. Today is a new day.

I put on a freshly dry-cleaned suit and grab my briefcase.

I start the short walk to the office ten minutes early.


I curl my hair at the ends and bolt out the door. I can't miss my favorite morning ritual. I can only hope to run right smack into the man I dream of someday. I walk past him every morning on my pre-class coffee run. Someday I'll try out the coffee shop that's in the other direction, but for now, it brightens my day to see his face.

For the last three months, I've gawked at this man. Not once has he noticed; he seems oblivious to the rest of the world and always in a hurry. Yet, he opens doors for old ladies, like it's a reflexive gesture, and I've seen him drop a twenty in the guitar case of a homeless musician more than once.

I walk fast, so as not to miss him; and then, there he is. I never see him this early in my journey. I slow my steps, so I can be in his presence for as long as possible.


I take my time to enjoy the beauty of the city that I usually overlook. My stride is long, so even at a leisurely pace, I'm making good time. I watch the people who pass, and I'm surprised with a few smiles and greetings.

Bright, brown eyes lock with mine, and then they look away as if it never happened. My eyes don't follow their lead; there is no way I can look away. Her hair bounces with every step she takes. Her clothes are casual and comfortable and her face isn't painted on.

And she saw me. Real girls never see me. They are either already happily married or being seduced by all the falseness in the world.

Now she's gone.

If the fates are kind, someday, somehow, I will see this girl again.


I knew his eyes were beautiful, but seeing them head-on, looking into mine? His eyes are profound.

I should have run right over and asked him if he needed a girl like me.

In that split second, I panicked and continued on my way. What was I supposed to do? Stop and say, "Hey. Now that you caught me, let's run off and play hooky. I don't kiss on the first date, but after the 60th walk-by I might be up for just about anything."


Boring work goes by faster when performed with a light-hearted smile. I chose this career because I know I'm good at it. So, why dread something I can take pride in doing?


No, Jake, you can't take care of my needs. In fact, you don't get to know anything about my needs. I left you so I could take care of me, and not be overshadowed by you. I held off school, I held off my dreams; all for you. You want, and you want, and you want. You want everything. I didn't leave you with any impression that you still got to take care of my needs.

But yes, I still have needs. I have images that fuel fiery fantasies. How frustrating. I just need to sleep.


I wake up, still feeling relieved. Even when Tanya calls, I wish her well and begin my day with a new coffee ring on the counter.

Somewhere out there, probably close, is a girl that can warm my heart with just a glimpse of her eyes.

Maybe it's nothing, but a fantasy has never felt so good to me. I would have made pancakes this morning, if I had a girl like her to make them for.


I wake up with my pelvis grinding against my mattress. Like a dream-induced hormone overdrive. When I'm in this state, my perfect man won't stand a chance if he looks right at me. Classes run later today, so I pack a lunch, but wonder what it would be like to put together two instead.

My apartment is so cluttered. I'm such a mess.

I sing and twirl around as I get ready, and try not to trip over any of my scattered belongings.


I see her in the distance. She looks right at me and then away. As she gets closer, she glances again and then bites her lower lip. Again, she looks away. She's closer today. Close enough that if we both reached our arms straight out, our fingertips would touch.

Her white shirt is falling off her shoulder, but I think it's on purpose. Her eyes are lined with dark charcoal and her cheeks look rosy. Even with make-up, she still looks classy. How did I not know girls like this existed? Perhaps it's because she is the only one.

What are the chances that I've been walking by this girl at the same time, every day?

I chance a backward glance but am disappointed when she is no longer looking.


I thought that I'd imagined him looking at me, but he was still staring. I sneak a glance at my reflection in a window the first chance I get. I don't see anything out of place. So, I can now dream that he's starting to look at me for the same reason that I look at him.

It's the kind of schoolgirl crush I've never had before. In my mind, our future is already mapped out. We'll love with mutual respect and need.

He's always disheveled, like no-one helps him to straighten up before he's out the door.

He doesn't wear a ring... yet.


I feel like I just went on a first date. I want to send her flowers, and I don't even know her name.

I want to take her on a picnic in a secluded meadow, with lilacs, open skies, and bright sunshine. I want to open myself up to the freedom she exudes and spend the day in laughter, or silence. I want to hold her hand until the stars come out and kiss her in any way she'll allow.

I work the entire day, but my mind wanders to thoughts of what it would be like if I had someone I wanted to get home to.


I complete my short, in-class essay early, and I know I did well. There is a spark of inspiration in me, and I know exactly where it comes from.

I cook dinner for one and call my mom.

I have nothing new to say. I can't tell her that he finally looked at me and that there's no doubt in my mind that he's the one.

Luckily, she speaks enough for the both of us.


My condo is dark but not empty.

Considering I never gave her a key, she sure knows how to let herself in.

"Edward, Baby, I miss you," she purrs out, waltzing towards me.

I wonder if she takes acting classes, or if she's just a sleazy fake by nature.

"I'm glad you came. You just reminded me to get the locks changed." I make my way to the kitchen, leaving her behind.

She huffs, pouts, and luckily for me, walks out. Her clear plastic heels won't be walking through my door again.

I call a locksmith and order take-out. Then, I settle in with a mound of paperwork.

I sleep alone, with nothing but thoughts to hold onto.


I put the dishes in the sink, but they'll just have to wait until tomorrow. Who cares about the state of my kitchen? At this moment: not me.

I surround myself with pillows, longing for someone to curl up with.

I dream of decorating a home and planting a garden, with my copper-haired love by my side. I wonder if he ever lets loose, because he always seems to be so proper. But that's okay; I like his kind of proper. I love his confident poise and perfect posture. He's not stuck-up or cold. I can tell that he has a generous heart.


This morning, I wipe the rings off my counter, because I was starting to feel like a slob.

I should buy a houseplant to liven up this place. It's the little touches that turn a house into a home.

Maybe there is such a thing as apple pie-scented candles.

I wonder what my brown-haired beauty smells like. Someday she will walk by, and a gust of wind will give me my answer. Either that, or I could approach her. I'm afraid if I do, I'll kill the dream.


I wake up, wanting to love and be loved: physically and emotionally; rough and tender.

Real passion knows no bounds. I've never experienced such passion, but it has to be true. It just has to be.

I should just run up to my beautiful man today. I should jump into his arms and kiss him in front of the world.

That could be remarkable.

I have fantasized for too long, and now I am running late. I throw my hair up and run out the door.

Even in my haste, I still hope he notices me again today.


She's walking fast and her hair is styled differently today. I almost miss her. When I do catch sight of her, just as she passes, I swear her eyes lock with mine longer than they should. She's so close that she passes within a few inches of me. If I had known this would happen, I would have reached out my hand and "accidentally" touched her.

I focus on work and try not to dwell on the fact that my life is mostly lonely. A glimpse of a girl, one that I'll never really know, shouldn't be the brightest spot of my day.

With my luck, this girl is married and only looking at me because she thinks I'm crazy.


It took him so long to look today, but when he did, I could barely contain my squeal at the expression on his face.

I look back and wish his jacket didn't cover the curve of his ass. Unfortunately, he doesn't look back.

I meet my friend Angela at the coffee shop and admit my maddening crush to her. She advises me to go for it, because, "You only live once, Bella." I guess I could always start going to a different coffee shop if I end up making a fool of myself.


I set my new fern in a corner and my bamboo on my dresser. The fresh greenery has the desired effect. I just hope I can keep them alive.

I call my parents and my siblings. I relish in the joy and chaos they have in their happy families, but I never thought that I would get this far in life, and still not have a family of my own.


I wake up to another day. Alone, as always. There's no-one, just me. There's no-one, because this isn't a home.

I woke up early, so I straighten up my place. I eat breakfast, alone. I shower, alone. But these are not things I want to spend the rest of my life doing alone.

When I was younger, I dreamed of freedom and independence. I never knew my accomplishment would be so lonely.


My day is jam-packed with meetings and deadlines. I don't bother with coffee or breakfast before I head out the door. This is what I do: work, work, work. And try to avoid all of the fakeness life constantly throws my way.


I walk down the street with a sense of guilt: I have a lunch date this afternoon. I'm about to walk right past the one man I dream of, and everything I've been wishing for my future. I feel like I'm betraying him, but more than that, I feel like I'm betraying myself and everything that I want.


I'm in such a hurry to get through this day that I don't see my girl until she bumps into me.

I look down at her and she looks apologetic, but not worried, or even surprised.

"I'm really sorry," she mutters softly, with a smile.

She speaks and I'm in awe, grinning like a fool. But then she flees.

I want to chase after her, but that might be considered creepy.

Even bumping into me, she is so gentle and soft-spoken.


I knocked head first, right into my dreams. Even though he didn't sweep me off my feet, receiving a smile like that is never disappointing.


There's no time to feel excited about my run-in. We are on the verge of losing an important client, and it is my job to charm them.


Garrett is so flirtatious and sweet. However, his casual touches don't leave me with any desire.

He invites me to a party, but I decline. Am I the only one who finds partying with frat boys boring?

I end the date with as much grace as I can muster and hope I left him without hurting his feelings.


Lonely nights like this one are the reason I've turned to the easy, quick releases that don't involve attachment (at least on my part). Tanya still calls a few times every day.

But now, reality has set in, and I want the attachment.

I want to submerge myself in her, but I settle for my fist.

I know so little about her, and yet she already seems perfect to me.

Whether it ruins the images in my head or brings them to life, I'm going to make an attempt with the beauty I pass every morning.


I wake up with a smile. Yesterday's taste of being up-close-and-personal with the object of my infatuation makes me giddy for this morning. Running into him yesterday could mean that a greeting, an introduction, or even a conversation might happen today.

Suddenly I realize: today is Friday.

My stomach becomes a hollow pit—I never see him on the weekends.

I jot down my name and number on a small piece of paper, and find all the inner courage I have. I make myself believe that this could be my last chance.


I'm a mess of nerves. I'm introducing myself to her today, and I hope the opportunity to ask her out presents itself.

I've asked girls out before without worry or fear, but somehow, this feels so much different.

How do you ask a girl out on a first date, with the intention of forever?


There he is, walking slowly, scanning people with his eyes as they walk by. When his eyes land on me and he stops looking around, I know he was searching for me.

I make my way over, heading straight for him. He walks towards me with the same determination.

"Hey," I manage to say when I reach him.

"Hey," he speaks in the sultriest tone I've ever heard.

I reach forward and place my number in his hand.

His fingers wrap around mine, holding on as we take a few steps backwards, going our separate ways.


That was not what I was expecting, but I'm left with so much hope and wonder.

I'm hoping to defy nature and catch the breeze—the breeze that is Bella.

How do you go about starting a conventional relationship that is clearly unconventional?


I'm dead on my feet. Waitressing a Friday night dinner rush is exhausting. It's already late when I get back to my place, and I check my phone before starting a stress-relieving bath. I'm sure my Mr. Perfect will wait a customary time before calling, so I don't hold my breath.

I'm surprised to find a three-hour-old text, with simply an address and a name.


I would never have thought that his name was Edward. Then again, I never really tried to name him.

I skip the bath and take an extremely quick shower instead.


I forget to eat. What was I thinking, just giving her my address? She gives me her phone number, and I give her my address? It's too late to backtrack. I should have just called. I should do something. Was I really thinking she'd just show up?

There's a soft knock on my door, and everything I've been feeling lately swirls through me at once. This is not a time to be nervous.

I walk to the door slowly; I don't want to appear overzealous.

I'm prepared to be disappointed if the wrong person is standing at the other side of my door.


I rushed straight to his place and found it easily, even though I'm horrible with directions. I threw together an overnight bag, since I'm likely to fall asleep as soon as the adrenaline wears off. But now I think I may come off like a hussy.

I hope I am at least at the right place.


I open the door and she's really here.

She looks straight at me and blushes with a, "Hi."

"Hi." I move aside to let her in, and she doesn't hesitate.

"Hey, Edward, are you hungry? I'm starving." She heads straight for the kitchen like it's hers. That's fine—she can have it.

"Yeah, me too. I can order something."

She takes off her sweater and lays it on the counter. My kitchen is more complete with her sweater in it.

She sets down a bag too. Maybe she'll stay the weekend.


"That'll take too long. May I?" I ask, pointing toward his fridge before I start rifling through it.

He nods his consent, and I'm surprised to see he basically has nothing.

I find some frozen burritos and pop them in the oven.

He doesn't talk, just watches me.

His hair is all over the place, more so than usually.

It's different to see him in jeans and a t-shirt, and not a suit. I'm not complaining, but I must admit that all my fantasies have started with a suit.


She's heading straight for me, with the same look in her eyes as this morning.

I should flirt, right? How do I have no idea how to flirt?

"What are you thinking about?" She asks.

"You." She raises an eyebrow at my answer.

"The fact that you're actually here," I add.

"I know, right?" She starts looking around, with her fingertips running over everything. She makes ticking sounds and sighs, but no words. I think I get what she means. Some of my things seem boring, but she seems to hum with contentment at family photos and obvious souvenirs.


He eats so neatly. Not one crumb falls to his plate, or anywhere else. I wonder if he's internally cringing while watching me eat.

He tells me about his family and they sound lovely. I shouldn't be surprised. I tell him the good things about my parents and leave out the bad. It's not that I'm unwilling to share my sob stories; I just don't want to come off like a whiney brat.

"My family is great, don't get me wrong, but being around them is depressing. They've all partnered off. It's not just that they're married and in love—it's like they've molded into one person with their spouses. My sister Alice is bossy and controlling, but her husband Jasper just smiles and agrees. You ask him something, and he looks over at her before he answers. But the thing is—she doesn't do anything to acknowledge what he's been asked. It's like he doesn't want to have decisions." He stands up and clears his plate and mine. It sounds like he's spent a great amount of time analyzing his family. I can't imagine being surrounded by love and not finding it for myself.


"And then there's my brother Emmett. He fights with his wife constantly. She can't stand him. It's like they enjoy yelling at each other. He will do things, like eat chocolate bars as he sits down to dinner, knowing it's going to piss her off. Why would he enjoy being screamed at? But then he does things like putting a flower in her hair, and he's always whispering in her ear. It's like they all have a secret, silent code. Does this make any sense at all?" This is why I shouldn't talk: I ramble.

"Yeah, actually, it does. It's like they speak without speaking. And even when speaking, they mean something else. You've never had that?" Bella's expression seems thoughtful, yet amused.

Does now count?

"Not before, no. Have you?"

"Not before. I imagine it's something you don't walk away from. How long were they all together before they became serious?"

"They have just always been serious. So have my parents, from what I know."

It's already past midnight, so she has technically already stayed the night.

"Do you want to watch a movie?" I ask, but then realize that she could possibly say no; that she might be ready to go home.

"Sure, surprise me."

I don't waste time choosing; I just grab a dramatic romance. I don't know what kind of mood I should be trying to set.

She sits in the middle of the couch, and I'm glad that she's left me no choice but to sit right next to her.


He sits down gracefully and throws his arm behind me on the couch. I shift my weight so I'm leaning into him.

I've never had a one-night stand, but I'm almost sure this isn't how they go. Not that I'm looking for a one-night stand, but so far, this is already more than I thought would actually ever happen.

With all the talk about his siblings—he has to know I already feel all of that. I know that I want him without having to know him. I already feel like I do know him.

His arm wraps around me as my head lands on his shoulder. I fit right here.


She smells amazing, like strawberries and mint. My fingertips glide smoothly up and down her arm. I have to convince myself that if she didn't want to be here, she wouldn't be here.

She reaches out to hold my other hand. With our fingers intertwined, I pretend to watch the movie.


I love this. It's the closest kind of feeling, almost like the physical touches are going deeper and straight through me. Every time there's an on-screen kiss I want to look up at him, but I don't want to be cheesy. Nothing about this feels cheesy.

I'm scared I'm going to fall asleep, so I look up to see how Edward is faring. He's already looking at me. So I tilt my face upward, and I know he gets what I'm saying without words, because he leans down to meet me the rest of the way.


My lips meet hers, slowly, gently. My eyes close when hers do. She kisses me again, with a vibrating hum.

I let go of her hand and both of mine find her waist. I don't pull her or move her, just hold her and kiss her.

She clearly has other ideas—she swings her leg over me, climbing on top of me.


He feels so good right up against me. My kisses get harder with a passionate frenzy I didn't know I possessed. His tongue stays soft as it meets mine. I'm sure I'm meeting his soft touch with rough tension, but his tightening grip on my hips tells me he feels this too.

His hands slide under my shirt and up my sides, so I take it off.

He gasps and hesitates, then goes straight for the clasp on my bra.

"Wait, I don't want to rush and ruin this," he mutters, unsure.

"That's exactly why this won't be ruined." I show him with my kisses and he relaxes once he understands.


My lips make their way down to her neck. My hands reach up and fill with her breasts. She's softer and warmer than I ever thought humanly possible. I shift beneath her and she arches her back as she moans.

A real-life, honest, I-want-you moan.

Bella doesn't have to act; she does everything in terms of what she wants.

Her hands rip and pull at my clothes, and I shift and move to help her.

Before I find the words to tell her that this means more than I could possibly express, she's completely bare, lowering herself down, and engulfing me.

She rocks on me like she's been loving me like this for years.


His hands grip my hips and that's all I know.

Never, in four years with Jake, did anything feel like this.

Edward keeps saying my name like he wants to talk, but I'm so close to more, and his mouth keeps finding new skin to explore. Does he really want to talk?

He starts pushing up and pulling me down, and I give over control as I lose all coherent thought.


Her head falls back and she lets out pure, but muffled sounds, and I'm undone.

She rests her forehead against mine. We are both slick with sweat and out of breath.

All I keep thinking is: this cannot be a one-night stand.

"Bella, Baby?"

"Hmmm?" she hums.

"I want more."

"Okay," she breathes, "Give me a minute."

"Okay, yeah. But then, I want more. I don't want this to be it. I don't want a one-night stand."


He runs his hands up and down my back. All of his words, even the ones he doesn't say, are everything I need to hear.

"Edward, I dream about being with you forever."

He falls back against the bed, a beautiful, contented smile grazing his lips.

"Are there any terms I should know about?" his organizational mind has to ask.

I hold his face in my hands and look deep into his eyes.

"I only think in terms of forever."


Thank you to the amazing hummingbirdff for being my beta on this at the last minute.

In Terms of forever was TheLadyInGrey's Judge's choice. Thank you for the beautiful review.