A/N: If you are looking for romance IT IS NOT HERE.


Edward


It wasn't obsession. He was just attentive to detail.

Edward moved quietly down the street, watching the girl ahead of him. There were ten people between them, but that didn't really matter, did it? They were meaningless.

He was wearing a scarf, tucked into a grey pea coat jacket. So was Jessica. Serendipity. She was wearing earmuffs, though, and his ears were uncovered. His breath came out in small puffs of white.

Ahead of him, the girl stopped, and stepped into a café. She worked there on the weekends. During the week, she went to school, and was home by 4:00, sharp. Her parents thought the world of her. Everyone seemed to.

He kept walking past the shop until he reached the next bus stop. He stood there for exactly three minutes and fifty-seven seconds before turning around and going into the café.

She was behind the register, ringing up a cup of coffee and a pastry for a tall, dark-skinned man who loomed over her.

He got in line behind the man, and glanced at the menu for a brief second. It was just a formality, though, because he was going to get what he always got—her favorite drink.

When the tall man in front of him left with his coffee, he stepped up to the counter with a smile. "Hello," he said. For the first time that day, he saw her face.

She was nothing special in the looks department. Brown hair that curled around her face, skin that had lost its summer glow, and brown eyes that mocked him.

"Hey, Edward," she responded. "Your usual?" She gave him a flirtatious grin.

To his advantage.

"Our usual," he answers, dipping his head slightly. He looked at her through his eyelashes. "Large."

She rang up the drink—a caramel latte, no whip—and said, "3.89."

He handed her his credit card, making sure to brush her fingers with his.

She blushed, adding color to her white skin and ducked her head.

It must have seemed glamorous to her, a seventeen year-old girl presumably being flirted with by an older man. But then, he thought, it was pretty glamorous, wasn't it? That was the point.

She handed him the card with a smile and turned to make the drink.

He slid the card back into his wallet and watched her move around behind the counter. She was working alone behind the counter, but her coworker was mopping the main floor. A few people sat around in the café, some on laptops and others talking with friends. He had to be subtle in watching her, even if no one was really paying attention to him.

She wasn't graceless, but then the area behind the counter was small. There wasn't a lot of room for clumsiness.

She was wearing dark jeans and a light blue collared shirt. Her sleeves were rolled up to her elbows and the green apron was knotted tightly around her waist.

He watched her hands the most closely. They picked up a cup and held it under a machine. One lifted a knob, and coffee poured out. Her fingers pushed a lid onto the cup, and he almost felt the strength and force she was using.

His own hands curled into fists. Soon.

When she turned around and handed him the coffee, he made sure to brush her fingers again. Her blush reminded him that he was stronger than her. He smiled at her again, and said, "See you later."

He left.


At home, Alice was waiting. "Got your girlie drink, I see," she said. She was sitting on the couch, her legs tucked under, drumming her fingers on the arm of the couch nervously. He couldn't remember a time she wasn't like that—twitchy and nervous.

But no, that's not true. Before…

Well.

"Yeah. It's still good."

She nodded and scratched her arm anxiously.

He frowned because he could tell she'd done heroin recently. She was the only person he cared about at all, really, and he hated that she's losing herself this way. There were more…productive ways to do it. But he didn't say anything, just asked, "Did you eat yet?" He walked into the kitchen to make breakfast without waiting for her answer. He was hungry, even if she wasn't.

She never was.

"What are you doing today?" he asked, mostly out of formality. She'd lie.

"I thought I would go see Emmett," she said, twisting a piece of hair around her finger.

Emmett was the boy Alice was convinced she was in love with. As far as Edward could tell, he didn't return her feelings. It was probably because of the drugs.

"That's nice," Edward said, cracking an egg into the skillet. He liked eggs, but only if they were cooked sunny side up. He was pretty sure Alice would go to Emmett's, but he was just as sure she wouldn't be there for long, unless Jasper was there.

Emmett may not have liked Alice or drugs, but it didn't stop him from rooming with a dealer. Jasper was his roommate and Alice's supplier. He'd been the one to introduce the two of them.

Emmett was a douche.

"What will you do today?" Alice asked. She stood behind him, tapping her foot.

"Uh, I'm gonna go out tonight. Don't wait up for me."

"With a girl? Can I meet her?"

"Yes and no. I don't think I'm going to keep seeing her." Better for Alice to think he was planning on a one night stand to get a girl out of his system. She didn't seem to mind when he was a jerk. That was probably why she liked Emmett.

Great to be a pair of messed up quasi-siblings. But then, he rather liked it that way.

He ate and thought about his plans for the night until Alice left, and then he went into his bedroom and pulled the chest out of the closet. He would need his knives.


Six hours later, he returned to the café, this time in his car. Jessica was going to die, because he just can't take seeing her smug face any more, or the way her fingers curl around…everything.

It started to rain, because he lived in Portland and it was November. This would only help of course—ah. There she was.

She stepped out of the café and pulled her pea coat over her head. It was a poor umbrella and he figured she'd only need to walk a block before he would be able to coerce her into his car.

He pulled up along side her and rolled down the window. "Hey, Jess!"

She looked up and saw him. She waved a little but kept walking.

He stayed even with her. "You want a ride?"

She only hesitated a second before getting into the car. "Didn't know you had a car."

"I prefer walking but it can come in handy. Point me in the right direction." By the time she realized they weren't heading to her house, it would be too late.


"Oh, no, I said left, here," Jessica said, chewing her lip. Her hands fidget in her lap.

They've been driving the right way up until now, so he's not sure why she's so nervous. "Sorry. Must have misheard you. But don't worry; I'm familiar with this part of town."

She nodded, twisting her fingers together.

"Are you okay?" he asked.

Jessica blinked rapidly. "I…I…what do you expect from me?"

"Sorry?" he asked, pretending innocence.

"Just, Dad said never to get a ride home from people you don't know too well and—"

"Jess, chill," Edward said, automatically reaching out and touching her shoulder. "You don't have to do anything. Besides, we're friends." Not really, but he didn't care what she thought about that.

He took another left which just made Jessica start to hyperventilate. "Where are we going?"

"Do you mind? I'm out of cigarettes." He pointed at a convenience store a couple blocks away.

"Okay," she agreed.

To make her ease up, Edward asked a question. "How old are you?" He knows the answer.

"Seventeen."

"See, I'm 24," he said. "I'm not going to do anything." Not what she was thinking about, anyway. "Even if it was consensual I'd get in trouble."

She nodded.

He passed the gas station.

"Edward," Jessica said, taking deep breaths. "I want to get out of the car."

He pulled his gun out of his pocket and pointed it at her without taking his eyes off the road. "Don't make this difficult, Jessica."

She lost all semblances of calm and grabbed at the door handle anxiously, trying to open it. The doors were all locked, though, and in her hazy panic, she didn't think to deal with it.

Edward slammed the butt of the gun into her neck, where he could see her pulse racing out of control, and she slumped over. He put the gun back into his jacket. "I told you not to make this difficult," he mumbled.


Jessica woke up zip-tied to a chair and gagged.

Edward was waiting, spinning a knife in his hands. "Morning," he said.

She shrieked through the gag, but it wasn't very loud at all. Not that it would matter, because they were too far away for anyone to hear.

He rolled up his sleeves. "A lot of people think that you're perfect, Jessica."

She shook her head, tears welling up in her eyes.

"I agree; you aren't." He walked closer to her. "Nobody is. But you're content to let them think you are, aren't you?"

She sobbed into the gag.

"Do you have something to say?" he asked gently, and lifted the knife toward her face.

She reared back, shaking her head in terror.

"Calm down," he said. "I'm not killing you yet." He cut the gag, making sure to nick her cheek as he did so. "Feel better?"

She hyperventilated in response. "No one…can hear me…right?"

"You're smarter than I gave you credit for."

"Why are you doing this?"

"You remind me a lot of my mom. Well, not my real mom, just the one I lived with for the longest."

"Did you hate her?" Jessica choked out.

"More than anything," he agreed. He leaned down and pressed the knife into her wrist. "She looked a lot like you—brunette and pale. Of course, she was on so many drugs that she had practically no body fat, and her hair wasn't nearly as nice as yours. But that's not really that important. My mother thought she was better than everyone else, just like you…"

"No," Jessica said, shaking her head vehemently. "I'm not."

He smiled at her sadly and broke the skin on her wrist.

She screamed.

"She used to scream, too," he said, shrugging. "Words, usually. And wow, she used to beat us pretty bad. Blamed myself for a while…but then I realized it was her fault. She died a couple years ago, you know?"

He cut her hand off.

She wailed and screamed and thrashed against the bindings before passing out at the pain.

"Pity. Usually they last longer," he said. "She didn't even get to find out why I'm doing this."

He slit her throat.


Bella (Eight Months Later)


Emmett helped me move in, but vanished after that. It must be killing his swag level to have his little sister move in with him. Neither of us can really afford our own place, though, so it's something he'll have to deal with.

I chew my lip, staring dully at the TV-it's not on, but a blank screen is more interesting than a blank wall.

What am I doing here? Moving to the city is supposed to be a changing point. A start in recovering from Mom's death. But now that I'm here, the idea seems overwhelming and dangerous, an idea I had no interest in.

Dad basically kicked me out, which still stings. It's not like I have money or a way to get education. I don't even have a desire for it. If I had my way, I'd work in a bar until I was too old and too ugly to last there.

But there's a great sense of expectation from everyone. Teachers from my high school, old family friends, and a dead mother. Do something important.

Screw them.

There's also the fact that I'm 18, too young to serve alcohol. Working in a bar isn't an option, right now.

I glance around, looking for a clock, but of course there's not one. What use does Emmett have for a clock? He's got a cell phone. But, I don't. I cancelled my plan when I moved out. Not enough money. And the phone reminded me of mom, so I threw it away.

I should unpack, but I like the way I feel with everything in boxes. Transient. Mobile. That's good. I should eat but I don't want to take any of Emmett's food, and I'm not hungry. The only thing I can really motivate myself to do these days is run, and I figure now is as good a time as any to figure out a route around the apartment. I go into my room and change into my running clothes - the only thing I made sure to keep in reaching distance in the boxes - and change.

There's no curtains in my window, which should bother me, but a creeper seeing me change doesn't seem to matter right now. I turn my back to the window, though, so if a creeper is watching, he won't see my tiny tits. I'm still protective of them.

Finally clothed appropriately, I leave the apartment and find the stairs. Emmett-and I guess I do, now-lives on the tenth floor, so I won't run into anyone for a minute. Small mercies.

I run down the stairs, careful so that I won't trip, or now a random person down. But there's no one in the stairwell, so I don't have to worry too much.
I walk through the lobby, even though my legs want to run. I'm not an animal. Not yet.

Once out of the building, I take off again. I never was one for stretching before a run, instead choosing to lengthen my stride until my legs are loosened up. Not exactly healthy, but I certainly don't care.

I start out just jogging around the block, getting a feel for how the streets are set up. When I reach the door of the building again, I keep going. This time, when I reach the end of the block, I keep straight. How far can I go without knocking over a walker or getting lost?

Pretty far, I guess, because I go twenty blocks before turning around and running into a tall guy wearing a thermal shirt. The shirt is pretty weird to see, since I'm dripping sweat in the 90° weather. But I have been essentially sprinting for the last 20 blocks.

I lift my eyes-I've been staring at his chest, not because it was particularly impressive (I couldn't even see it), but because it was at eye level. But now I look at his face. "Sorry," I say. "Didn't see you there."

He smiles charmingly. "No problem. I just stepped out of the cafe."

I look up at the cafe he's gestured to. "La Petite Roche" is engraved in gold above the doorway and I roll my eyes. I took enough French in high school to know that translates to "the little rock." If you didn't speak French, you'd think it was extra nice because of the language. If you did speak it, you knew that was the aim.

"Nice," I say. I'm not really keen to talk to him, because he's mindblowingly gorgeous-cute, I meant cute-and all, but at the moment I'm not interested, especially in someone who wears thermal shirts in what serves as a hot summer in Portland.

"You could make it up to me," he suggests.

I don't mean to grimace, or glare. But somehow I'm doing both. It's not even him I'm mad at. The idea of dating someone so soon after mom died is ridiculous.

"Or not," he says, shrugging. He offers a hand. "I'm Edward."

I wipe a sweaty hand on my tank top before shaking his hand in return. "Bella."

"Nice to meet you," he says.

There's a weird look in his eye that I have no way of placing. It's not like anything I've ever seen, directed at me or otherwise. I swallow nervously. "Yeah. I guess I'll see you around." He's unnerving me, and I hate it.

"I'm sure I will."

A shiver runs down my back, and I nod. I flash a tight smile and run around him. This time, I watch more carefully for obstacles.


Emmett is on the couch when I return.

We don't look much alike, except that we're both brunette. Difference is, Emmett's pretty built, and I look malnourished. He's got curly hair, courtesy of Dad, and mine is wavy, like Mom's was.

"Got pizza," he says when I walk in. He doesn't ask where I've been—maybe the answer is obvious in my sweat-drenched clothing.

"Kay," I say, and take a seat next to him.

He offers a plate to me and I take it. He got pepperoni, our favorite. Everyone's favorite, except Mom's.

I'm suddenly struck by the thought that buying pizza is a lot more convenient now that we don't have to worry about a quarter of it being plain cheese for Mom. I swallow the nervous laughter bubbling up in my throat and take a bite.

The TV is still off, but we're both staring at it. The apartment has a kitchen/dining room combination, but there's no table in there, and besides, this is a bachelor pad. Maybe even more so now that I'm here. Of course we eat in the living room.

"You want the TV on?" Emmett asks.

"If you want," I answer.

"Okay."

The TV stays off.


"You should get a job," Emmett says. "The rent doesn't pay itself."

It's been a week where I've done nothing but go for a run every day. All of my possessions are still in two boxes. I pull them out when I need them, but all I have is clothes, really. No pictures, trinkets, or electronics. Use to have that stuff. But really, who needs it? It's all in boxes in Dad's attic.

"Kay," I say, intending that to be the end of it. My plan was still to wait until I was old enough to work in a bar.

But the next morning, just to appease Emmett, I stopped on my run inside that dumb cafe, La Petite Roche. I stride up to the counter and ask for an application.

While the guy behind the counter is grabbing one from underneath a bunch of coffee strainers, I hear behind me, "Fancy seeing you here."

I glance over my shoulder and see Edward sitting at a table, eating a sandwich with a chocolate frappuccino, or whatever they call them here. I frown because I'm not sure he could have picked a more girly drink.

"Hello," I say. I'm not going to be cowed by him. His good looks aside, he's nothing more than a creep, and I've dealt with enough of those.

"How are you doing?" He asks pleasantly.

Or maybe he's not a creep. This seems pretty normal. "I've been all right," I answer. "And you?"

"Life is good," he says, and takes a bite out of his sandwich.

"Here's the application you asked for," the guy behind the counter says. "Can I get you anything?"

"No, thanks," I say. "I'm broke. That's why I want the job." Lie. I could care less about the job or being broke.

"Join me," Edward says, as I'm passing his table.

I hesitate. He seems a lot less creepy today, and I have a hard time feeling threatened by a guy drinking a frappe. "Okay." I sit.

"Hungry?" He asks.

"No." Or rather, I don't have an appetite. Not quite the same thing.

"Thirsty? I really recommend their chocolate frappe."

"Not big on frappuccinos," I answer, shaking my head. It's true enough.

"Oh, I insist," Edward says. "Remember that time you ran into me and promised to make it up to me?"

"Is that how that happened?" I ask, smiling slightly despite myself.

"Yes. I'm cashing in that favor. Bill, let me get a small chocolate frappe."

"It's not a frappe," Bill, the guy behind the counter says.

"Sure," Edward agrees. He smiles at me easily. "So, you're new to Portland."

I stare at him and narrow my eyes slightly. "Yeah. Moved in with my older brother."

His smile widens. "Believe it or not, my little sister recently moved in with me!"

I wonder if I'm supposed to be impressed. "That's nice."

"Yes," he agrees. "It's great to be around family."

"Sometimes," I agree. "Emmett's the only one I like, to be honest." That's not true. My relationship with dad is strained at the moment but I still love him and want him to want me. I shouldn't be surprised that he doesn't.

"Is that your brother?" he asks. "I feel the same about my sister, except that we don't really have any other family."

Bill brings me the frappe and Edward hands him some money. "Thanks," Edward says, and looks at me expectantly. "Drink up."

I grimace at him but drink some of it anyway. "It's lovely." It's not.

He laughs, like he knows I'm not telling the truth. "Okay, okay. So what do you like to drink?"

"Earl grey tea," I say drily.

He blinks at me. "Not what I expected, but all right."

I roll my eyes. "I don't look classy enough or something?"

"Every time I've seen you, you've been drenched in sweat, so no, you don't, actually."

"I like to stay healthy." Or something like that.

"I think you missed the mark, friend."

I make a face at him. "We've spoken two times. We are not friends."

"Ouch."

"You just said I look unhealthy." It's one thing for me to note that I'm unhealthy. It's an entirely different thing for some guy I don't even really know to comment on it.

"Well you do. Have you considered eating every once in awhile?"

"Screw you." But I feel the corners of my mouth pulling up. As much as I want to hate him, I find myself vaguely amused at the situation. "You got a pen?"

"Yeah, here," he says, leaning down and pulling one out of his bag.

I take it and fill out the application, completely ignoring the frappe. He can have it. Under phone number, I write Emmett's mobile, and finish the rest quickly. I don't have any job experience but I can't imagine I'll need much to work here. "Thanks," I say, capping the pen and handing it back to him. I even smile at him.

"I guess I'll see you around," he says, glancing at his watch. "I have work now."

"Sure," I agree. "Later." I almost feel a pang of sadness in watching him go-I haven't really smiled since Mom died, and Edward got me to smile nearly three times. But nah, it's no big deal. I turn in the application, throw out the frappe, and run home.


La Petite Roche calls Emmett's mobile three days later and offers me an interview. I schedule one and dig presentable clothing out of my boxes. Emmett doesn't have an iron, though, so my blouse is slightly wrinkled when I turn up for the interview. My strategy is to be perky and act like I actually want this job. Not because I do, but because I'd rather Emmett didn't kick me out, too.

It must work, because Mr. Schulls, the man giving the interview, tells me I essentially have the job as I'm leaving. "Have a chocolate frappe, on the house," he says cheerfully.

I'm not in the habit of rejecting free things, so I take it. "Thanks," I say, and leave the cafe. Emmett will get a call if I've got the job.

Somehow I'm not surprised to run into Edward on the street.

"You look nice," he says, eyes skittering over my body.

I wonder if I should feel affronted. "Just came out of an interview."

He smiles and nods. "How'd it go?"

"Pretty sure I have a job, so that's open to interpretation."

"Your complete disinterest in life astounds me."

I roll my eyes, but I'm grinning again. "Do you want this?" I offer him the frappe.

"Did you buy that for me?" he asks, smiling as he takes it.

"Ha! Don't flatter yourself," I reply. I watch him take a drink from it, admiring his mouth. "It was free."

"How nice of them. They provided a way for you to flirt."

"Oh, shut up," I say, rolling my eyes. But it is true...

He smiled at me mildly. "Well I'd love to stay and chat, but I am actually on my way to work."

"Isn't it sort of late?" I ask.

"I work from 10 to 8 on Thursdays. So no."

"Right on. I'll see you later," I say.

"I hope you get the job," he says earnestly. "You'll see me even more."

I feel the blush creeping up my cheeks. Of course I know he's been flirting all along, but this is the first time he's seemed so...sincere. "Yeah, me too."
He smiles, takes a drink, and waves goodbye.

I smile the whole way home.


On Saturday, Emmett is still asleep when there's a knock on the door. I stumble out of my bedroom practically nude and peer through the peephole. A short girl who is skinnier than even I am is standing outside, twitching.

I crack the door open, figuring I'm clothed enough in a sports bra and booty shorts. "Can I help you?"

She winces when she sees me. "Who are you?"

I frown, not very amused at being woken up so early-what time was it? Seven? "I'm Bella. Who are you?"

"Alice. Is Jasper here?"

"Uh, no. Are you sure you're in the right place?"

She fidgets. "I need to see Jasper. Where's Emmett? He's the one you banged last night."

I frown. "Emmett is my brother. I've been living here for a few weeks. There's no Jackson here."

She swears and kicks the wall. "Let me talk to Emmett, please." Her voice is strained and she's bouncing on her toes.

"Just a minute," I say, and slam the door. She's creepin' me out. I cross the apartment while she bangs on the door and knock on Emmett's bedroom door. "Emmett, some freak is at the door demanding to see you."

His door opens and he drifts across the room, shirtless and in sweat pants. Without hesitating he swings the door open. "What do you want, Alice?"

"Where is Jasper?" she demands.

"I thought you quit," Emmett says, running his hand through his already messy hair.

"Tried. Made it a couple weeks. Can't any more."

Emmett sighs. "Jasper cleared out a month ago. He got in trouble with a gang or something."

Alice swears again. "What am I supposed to do?" she wails.

Emmett pulls her into a one-armed embrace. "Quit for real. He's gone." Gently he pulls her into the apartment and shuts the door behind her.

"I can't," she screeches. "I'm going to die."

Emmett keeps pushing her across the apartment until he gets her into his bedroom. He makes her sit down on the bed and kneels in front of her, trying to calm her down.

I stare at them from the doorway. "Emmett."

"What?" he asks as he smoothes her hair down.

"What should I do?" I ask.

He doesn't answer for a while, instead rubbing her arms. "Get my phone and find Edward's number. Tell him Alice showed up raging," he says finally.
I nod and walk over to his night stand. How strange would it be if the Edward he was talking about was also my Edward?

Not my Edward. I don't have a Edward. Don't want a Edward.

I find the name in Emmett's phone and press the call button. It rings twice.

"Hello?"

"Hi, Edward? Alice showed up here, ah, raging. At Emmett's place."

There's silence for a moment. "I'll be right over."

"Thanks."

He doesn't answer, just hangs up.

I dig into one of Emmett's drawers, and pull out a t-shirt. I'm unnerved by the whole situation. When we were younger, I'd climb into his bed if I had a nightmare or if Mom and Dad were fighting. Then he turned 13 and started locking his doors at night.

Even so, his smell still comforts me. We haven't hugged since I arrived, I realize suddenly, and I want that. I wrap my arms around myself, the t-shirt bunching up around my waist.

Emmett keeps trying to calm Alice down, and it's worked a little. She's not quite as loud as before.

Shifting my weight from leg to leg, I can only stare at the pair of them. Who is she, and more importantly, who is she to Emmett?

When there's a knock at the door, I hurry to open it. "She's in - Edward. Um. Hi."

Edward seems surprised to see me, too. "Hello, Bella."

I swallow, suddenly wishing I had put on more than just a t-shirt. As he pointed out before, I'm not exactly healthy looking. My spindly legs probably serve to make me look less attractive than I was before. "She's in Emmett's room."

He nods and steps inside the apartment.

I close the door behind him and follow him toward the crying girl.

"Alice," he says firmly. "What are you doing?"

She stops crying for a moment and stares at him, slack-jawed. "Edward," she says. She lifts a hand and pushes the tears off of her face. "Jasper is gone."

"You were quitting."

"I can't," she says, shaking her head. "Can't, can't, can't."

Edward moves forward and grabs her around the bicep. "I'll take her from here. Thanks, Emmett. Bella."

He pulls a screaming Alice out of the apartment, leaving Emmett kneeling on the floor, and me staring after them. He slams the door on the way out.

"Emmett?" I question softly. "What...?"

Emmett sighs and pulls at his hair, "She thinks she's in love with me. I don't know how to tell her no."

I nod, and shift uncomfortably. "Can I..." I swallow nervously, and can't finish asking the question.

But he finally looks at me and stands up, opening his arms. "C'mere."

We hug for the first time since Mom's funeral, and after that, I crawl into his bed for the first time since I was nine.


I get the job, and soon discover that Edward comes there every day. Since I'm working as a full-time barista, I'm always there when he shows up.

I thought it would be awkward after what happened with Alice, who Emmett had identified as Edward's sister, but Edward acts like nothing has happened, and flirts away as usual.

"Hello," he says when he steps up to the counter for the first time. "I hear the chocolate frappes are good here."

"Agree to disagree. Size?"

"Large. Can I get an extra shot of espresso?"

"Certainly." I ring up the coffee and give him his total before turning around to make the drink.

"So you and Emmett, huh?" he says behind me.

When I look at him, his eyes flicker upward-for some reason he's been staring at my non-existent butt. I shoot him a chiding look but say, "If by me and Emmett you mean me and my brother, yes."

"Hmm," he says. "You look nice in real clothes."

"Have I ever worn fake ones around you?" I ask lightly, pumping in the espresso.

"You know what I mean," he says, shrugging.

I hand him the drink and blush when he drags his fingers across my knuckles.

"Here," he says, handing me a credit card. "You know, I was thinking we should go out some time."

"Yeah?" I reply lightly, swiping his card. I wait for the receipt to print.

"Mmhmm."

"I'll think about it," I answer, handing him his card and the receipt.

He grabs my hand as he takes back the card. "Don't say no."

I stare at him for a long time. "Okay."

He smiles. "Okay. It was nice to see you. I'll give you more details tomorrow." He lets go of my hand and waves as he leaves the café, sipping his frappe candidly.

I chew my lip, not sure what exactly to make of this. But I do like him, I think, and it can't hurt to go out one time.


I got a pretty clear feeling that day Alice showed up at the house that Emmett and Edward don't like each other, so on the day I go out with Edward, I don't tell Emmett where I'm going.

We talk to each other more now, but it's not like we always know where the other one is. We just assume we're okay.

I meet Edward outside of my apartment building, and we walk a bit to his car. "Where are we going?" I ask curiously.

"It's a surprise."

"Okay."

"You know what I like about you, Bella?" Edward asks. He's opening the car door for me. We've just arrived at an abandoned warehouse.

This all feels so stereotypically serial killer of him that I actually pause, a hand on the car door. "No," I say, staring at the warehouse. "Where are we?"

"I told you; it's a surprise."

"I'm not really sure about this—"

"Oh, come on. It will be fun."

"No, this is weird."

"My favorite thing about you," Edward says, wrapping an arm around me and pulling me toward the building. "Is that you were a challenge. You actually didn't fall sway to my charm immediately. In fact, I'm surprised you even agreed to this date."

"You were persistent," I say faintly. That feeling I got when I first met him is back, and I want to run away. Unfortunately, I would never escape—we're at least a mile from the closest building, and even I can't outrun a car.

"You were the perfect target," he says, shrugging. "Anorexic skinny—"

"I'm not anorexic," I snap. "I just don't usually have an appetite."

"A brunette who speaks her mind and doesn't mince words—"

"That's a lie for sure," I say, trying to pull away from him. His grip tightens as I say, "There's a lot of things I never said to you." Or Emmett, or Dad, or even Mom.

"That's all right," he says. "The point is, you remind me of my mother."

He let's go of me, then, and I think about bolting, but there's a sharp pain in the back of my head, and I faint.


"Don't want you to worry about me leaving any evidence," Edward says when I open my eyes.

I blink dully at him. "What?"

He lifts his hands. "Gloves!" he says cheerfully.

"Is that latex?" I ask, scowling. "I'm allergic."

"That is honestly the least of your worries."

That might be true, but a small part of me is still hoping that this is just a joke.

"How did you even find out you were allergic, anyway?" he asks, digging around in a bag nearby.

I look over myself—I'm zip-tied to a chair, my palms turned up on the arms. I'm pretty sure there's blood on the arms of the chair, and based on the lack of pain (except where he hit me earlier) I'm guessing it's not mine. Which means he's done this before. "How do you think? I had a boyfriend before my mom died," I say.

"I bet that was fun to explain to your parents," he said.

"Screw you."

"Yeah, too bad you won't get to do that, huh? Usually, I'd wait longer to get this over with, but you, of course are a special case." He walks over to me and I try to move my feet—nothing. They're zip-tied, too.

"Why?" I ask.

"Why are you special? You're the one who's been most like my mother."

"Let me guess. She never loved you and you take it out on people who remind you of her."

"Bingo! See, you have a lot of her personality traits, not just her physical appearance." He shows me a knife, still bloody from someone else.

I grimace. "Why do you do this at all?"

"Because."

I swear at him.

"I have to do this," he says, shrugging. "To stop you from being like her."

"I'm not like her."

"Not yet."

He advances with the knife, and unable to stop myself, I shriek and rear back. The chair falls over and he laughs and laughs.

"You're funny. I'll miss you."

"Wait, please. My mom just died and I haven't even finished grieving for her. I never made up with my dad. My brother and I are only just becoming friends again. Please don't kill me, I won't tell anyone!"

"I hated her hands the most," he says, completely ignoring me.

I scream when he cuts my right hand off.

I never stop screaming.


A/N: So here is my AWFUL first attempt at a horror story. Happy (LATE) Halloween.

For my regular readers, I want to let you know that I'm doing NaNoWriMo (kind of) as a way to finish up Aphrodite's Dance. So hopefully, we'll be done at the end of November! Hope you guys are all doing well. :)