Banner By: Mist

A Grand Affair by Savannah Greye

Rated: M

Warning's: Lemon's, Adult Language, Adult situations

Beta: BethAnn

Dedication: This story is dedicated to the most wonder person I can think of, Katalina Roseph. Without her words of encouragement, I would not be the writer I am today. And without my writing, I would not be who I am. To Katalina, always.

You are what you love, not what loves you. -Adaptation

True love never works out like you want. Love does not care about you. It is you that cares for love. Like most women, I am in love with love. There was no particular person, just the thought. The grand gesture to end all grand gestures. When someone asks if you believe in love at first sight, what do you automatically think of? Those romantic movies you watched as a gangly teenager late at night, hoping, praying, and wishing you were that girl in the film that got her true love? Of course you were. In the beginning, you only experience what you read, what you see, not what you know. You even find yourself wanting those circumstances where you somehow lose your true love, or you're already betrothed to someone else but find your love in another... You want all of that, too.

As pure and selfless as love is, it is also the worst and most dark emotion. To some, it spreads through veins like thick poison taking its host under its undying control. People kill for love much like they kill for their beliefs. All I wanted was love. All I ever thought about was how I was going to find it. Love is never there for you when you want it most. All of my life I searched for love in the wrong place, in the wrong people, and at the wrong time. Love chooses you. As strong as I sounded when I spoke about love, I was also just as afraid to find it. To love unconditionally is to give up all self control.

That being said, I can tell you the exact time and place that I first saw love. It was right in front of me. It was no movie or book, but real and raw. Maybe I am getting ahead of myself. As I sit in the very familiar coffee shop that I am at every morning of every day, I think back to a time when I was loveless. Back when I still had control. It felt so far away from me. As much as I sometimes yearned for it, I knew I would never get it back. In love, you give a lot to get a little. I understood that from the beginning. At the ripe age of twenty-two I was right where I should be in life. Almost.

I graduated college at the top of my class in animal science. I owned my 1989 BMW, and had a small apartment all to myself. In fact, the owner of my apartment complex was also the owner of this small coffee shop. I would work here during college to earn extra cash and grew close to the elderly couple that owned it. In a sense, they were the only thing I had close to parents since my own had split a long time ago. You could say that their lack of love for me was what started me on this loveless searching path. I adored my job as a Veterinary assistant at one of the local Vet offices. Animals were my first love.

I leaned forward in my chair to grab my cup of apple cinnamon coffee. It was the only thing that kept me warm on these cold November mornings. As my eyes searched the coffee shop again, I finally let out a sigh. I glanced out the window and saw that snow was beginning to fall. I lived in the biggest city in eastern Tennessee, which compared to actual known cities, wasn't very big at all. Parts of it were very much like downtown Chicago with ancient brick buildings and self employed business littering the streets. Christmas decorations were just being put up, and the city was never at its finest than that of this season. As small as I felt the city was, everyday you could walk down the street and see people you had never seen before. That's partly what kept me here. School brought me here, and the city kept me. It had never been unkind except for in love.

I couldn't help the aching that returned to my chest as my eyes began their search again. It was half past eight in the morning, meaning he was fifteen minutes late. This never happened. I would have to leave in another ten minutes or I would be late to work. Then, as if he heard my plea, the bell above the entrance gave the sweetest jingle. Seeing him for the hundredth time was just like seeing him the first time. He struck my beating heart like a lightening bolt in a summer storm. All breathing and blood removed leaving just my eyes taking him in. I often wondered why he did that to my heart. As I had always heard, your heart was supposed to beat faster wasn't it? Mine stopped entirely. I came to the conclusion that it was because he stole my heart each time my eyes fell upon him. Or maybe I gave it to him unconsciously. Everything about my heart became inconsequential in his presence.

Back in the now, I knew that he knew I was there. I was always at the same table wearing the same pale grey scarf, drinking out of the same old brown coffee mug. Today I let my hair fall down in its long dark length. It was as wild as any other day, and still contrasted terribly with my porcelain skin. I wasn't anything out of the ordinary when it came to physical appearances. No man would pick me out of a crowded room. I blended in. I was of average height, thin and small boned with no true assets. If it weren't for my face and female plumbing, I could easily be mistaken for a twelve year old boy. I did however like my freckles. I didn't have as many as some, but each one special in its own way. I shook my head quickly when I realized I had once again began focusing on and loathing my physical attributes. Every girl does it of course, but now was not the time.

Sadly, in contrast to him, I was the weak tree in the middle of a monsoon waiting to be blown over by the beauty and strength that it carried in its entirety. He was noticed by every person he passed, man, or woman. He was the epitome of true beauty and I could tell that he did not even try to be so. He had to notice the affect he had on people because it was not something easily missed. Heads turned and mouths began to whisper.

In the beginning, I grew very jealous of the attention he got from other people. That changed when I realized he paid no attention to any of them. It was as if he could not even see them. He walked quicker than usual up to the counter to order his every day cappuccino.

Instead of his signature black suit, he wore a charcoal gray one instead with an emerald green tie. The green only furthered the intense green color of his eyes. In fact, it almost matched perfectly. His hair was in its orderly copper colored disarray. Actually, It was his hair that first caught my eye many, many weeks ago. I wanted nothing but to touch it, to prove myself right that it would feel like silk between my thin fingers. When he was around me, even though I became without my heart, I was still able to ignite on fire. My body pulsed hot. It was unbearable, so I removed my scarf.

His velvet voice traveled to my ears as he thanked the cashier, Jacob, for his hot drink. As he turned to leave, his eyes locked with mine. It happened every day, but today his stare lasted longer than ever before. His mouth gave me a smirk, and then he was gone. As my heart began to thump in my chest again with his absence, I gasped at the recent events. I could recall every encounter that had ever happened between us. He would turn, meet my eyes, then turn away just as fast. Today, he smiled. Why?

My days down at Central Animal Clinic were always full of surprises. I did not loathe going to work like so many others did in their professions. I assisted the doctors, and took care of any hurt animal that walked in the door to the best of my ability. Today, my erratic other half came to the office in a panic. It would be her third visit this year. She was crazy, but she also happened to be my best friend, Alice.

"Are you sure Blue is going to be all right?" Alice asked worriedly. I nodded my head to her and smiled setting down the pen.

"Yes, it was just a moth ball. He'll eat some grass, throw it up, and be fine, Al. Take him to the park or something." I leaned down to pat her Australian Shepherd on the head. The loving dog licked my face sloppily.

"Okay, I believe you," Alice resigned. "So, do you want to meet up tonight for a drink?"

"Sure. I'm off at five today. Should we try the new saloon down town?"

"It's a date!" Alice squealed happily. Her short hair bounced along with her excitement.

Alice was the smallest girl I had ever known, but also the only true friend I had ever had. She never judged me or my quirkiness. If it weren't for her, college and life after would be very lonely. We said our good-byes and she left leaving me with just enough time to eat a quick lunch before my next appointment was due. I usually packed a lunch, but today the office had ordered in Chinese food. As soon as I brought the full fork to my mouth, the front door flew open. I dropped the food all over my lap and gasped in surprise. I looked over the desk to give an evil eye to whoever shocked me, and my mouth went dry. It was him. He looked around the office frantically while holding a small cat in his arms.

"May I help you?" I asked through a very dry mouth. I tried clearing my throat, but it only made it worse.

"Help me, please," He begged with those emerald eyes. Taking notice to the cat again, my stupor from being in his presence vanished and went into work mode. I jogged around the counter and carefully took the cat from his arms.

"What happened?" I asked dutifully as I examined the animal carefully.

"I don't know! My house cleaner called and told me that she found Willow under the table not moving."

"Do you when the last time she ate or drank anything was?"

"Last night." The small cat wasn't moving well in my arms, and her eyes were closed.

"All right, mister..." I trailed off.

"Cullen." My heart melted at the sound of his voice. I blinked a few times to shake my feelings for him away.

"Mr. Cullen. I'm going to take Willow back to an exam room. You can wait here, or come back if you like?"

"I'll come," He said strongly.

In exam room three I was able to determine the problem fairly quickly for the cat he called Willow.

"Mr. Cullen, it appears that Willow has a hair build up in her stomach. Is she allowed outside?"

"No, never."

"Well, then I suggest buying her a certain kind of food, and we'll describe you a medicine that will dissolve the hair lodged in her stomach. The doctor will be in to write you a prescription."

"Thank you," He replied kindly. I noticed that he had hardly looked at me since he came in. I knew it had to be because of his sick pet, but I couldn't help the sadness that overwhelmed me as well. He obviously did not remember me from the coffee shop... But who would?

"You're welcome," I all but whispered as I slid out the door and back to the front desk.

It felt like the entire day had passed Instead of the thirty minutes it had been since I was last with him. Just like it happened every morning, my heart was still with him now down the hall and I was finding it hard to breathe. I let out a slight groan at my appearance. I wore dirty purple scrubs, very little make-up, and even though my hair was up, it was still wild. I released the clip in my hair letting it fall long down my back and began combing my fingers through it tirelessly. When he finally made his way up to the desk, he seemed a lot less frantic.

"Mr. Cullen, here is your prescription, and I also wrote a note telling you which food will help digest such things for Willow." The grey colored cat looked up to me hesitantly from Mr. Cullen's hold. I reached out to stroke her neck and she began to purr.

"That's a first," Mr. Cullen laughed. "She hates everyone."

"Even you?" I protested in disbelief.

"Oh, especially me," He snorted.

"That is hard to believe," I said. My hand flung to my mouth in instant embarrassment at my bold statement. Would that give me away? I worried.

"As much as I love her, she only loves my wife," He replied. I couldn't help but notice the slight bit of venom in his voice. I glanced down to see a gold wedding band on his ring finger. My shoulders dropped instantly. Of course my heart would want a married man. A man that would never want me back. Mr. Cullen suddenly went stiff. His expression looked as if he had smelled something foul. I quickly straightened up, and deeply regretted getting so close to him or his pet.

"Are we done?" He asked briskly.

"Oh, uh, I just need you to sign something," I said quietly. Shuffling through a few papers I found the right one and laid it before him. I handed him a pen, but he took one of of his coat pocket to use instead.

The man dressed like he lived in Manhattan. His skin was pale, like he was hardly ever in any sunlight. He was very clean shaven and manicured. I always figured he had money, but now I knew he had a lot of money. I slowly retracted my hand that held the offered pen. He signed the sheet quickly, gathered his few things, and walked out the door without another word or look to me.

I stood still for a long time trying to figure out what I had said wrong. He got the most disgusted look on his face when I got closer. Did I smell bad? Suddenly, I could feel my heart begin to beat in my chest again. I picked up the piece of paper and looked down to his signature that read in perfect script handwriting, "E. Cullen." What could I have done to him, I had no inkling. It must be that I am too ordinary, unnoticeable, or not peculiar in anyway. Right?

The rest of the day dragged on incessantly. With everything I had, I tried to shake my earlier encounter with the man that somehow managed to kill my heart. By the time I made it to the Saloon to meet Alice, my brain was exhausted trying to think about it all. I knew I was over analyzing it, but my head wouldn't let up. I walked into the bar and was met with loud dance music and neon lights.

"Bella! Over here!" I spotted Alice waving me over to the end of the bar where she at next to an older man. Good looking, but older.

"Hey," I said in a sigh as I took the bar stool next to her.

"This place is awesome, right?" She shouted over the music.

"It's not a Saloon whatsoever, but yeah it's all right, I suppose." Alice rolled her eyes and then fully took in my appearance.

"What happened?" She asked frantically. How did she always know?

"Nothing," I countered trying to sound casual.

"Do you honestly think that works on me?" She asked, faking hurt.

"No," I droned. "I'll take an amaretto sour, please!" I called out to the large female bartender. She looked down the bar to me and nodded. I dropped my head and decided that it was time to tell Alice.

"Tell me," Ali ordered.

"It was just a weird encounter with some guy that came in with his cat today, that's all."

"A weird guy?"

"The coffee shop guy," I said quietly, hoping she wouldn't catch it.

"What?!" Alice cried. "You actually got to speak with him?"

"Yeah. I mean, sort of. He doesn't like me. And he's married."

"How do you know for sure?"

"Um, he said wife, and sports a nice gold wedding band?" I offered. The bartender slid my drink down towards me messily. I picked it up and took a large sip needing it like air before setting it back down.

"What makes you think he doesn't like you?"

"He seemed disgusted by me."

"Bella, no offense, but you think everyone dislikes you."

"That's not true!" I lied. "It doesn't matter, Al. He's married."

"So?" I turned to really look at her for the first time tonight. She dressed in a short pink skirt, her hair was perfectly in place, the right amount of make up, and a low cut top showing just the right amount of cleavage. I continued my stare of shock.

"So?" She said again.

"So, I'm not a whore, Alice. Or an Adulterer."

"Oh, please. Babe, it is the twenty first century. Everyone does it with everyone regardless of their relationship status."

"Yeah, well I don't. I can't. That's just wrong!" Alice shrugged her shoulders and turned back to the man next to her. She giggled loudly. I wish I had her confidence.

Saturday mornings were always my favorite. I spent half the day at the coffee shop reading a new book, and every night Alice and I went to the Velvet. It was a place to dance, drink, and meet new people. It took her a long time to get me to go with her, but once I did, I was hooked. I loved to dance. Alice said by me going, it kept me young and vital. She often joked about me being too old for twenty-two. I did not have an argument there. Plus, she got to play Barbie with me.

The coffee shop was busier on Saturday's, but I didn't mind all the commotion. I had become quite the people watcher, and knew a lot of the customers. When I finally took my seat I opened my old copy of Nicholas Sparks' The Notebook. I often read his books when I grew tired of my old literature ones. His stories were always about love.

"Excuse me," A familiar voice spoke, causing me to stop reading mid-sentence and look up. I was met with green eyes and a small smirk.

"You're the nurse from yesterday, right?" He asked in a charming way.

"Uh, yes," I stuttered. "Hello."

"I saw you sitting here, and I wanted to come apologize for my rude behavior."

"Rude behavior?" I asked stupidly.

"Yes. I never thanked you for helping my Willow."

"Oh. You're welcome. Is she better today?"

"Very much so."

"Good. I am glad, Mr. Cullen." I smiled as kindly as I could. I tried to think of something else to say, but my mind was completely blank. It was hard to think clearly without my heart. He smiled at me, but not a big smile. It was more polite and brisk than sincere. I knew that he must not work on the weekends, because he could be seen out of his suit. His attire was old faded jeans, worn converse, and a gray t-shirt. The leather jacket he wore had to be older than the both of us. This look was my favorite. He ran a hand through his wild and thick hair as he looked back to the counter.

"They're slow on weekends," I said, following his gaze.

"It is worth it, I suppose. Good coffee."

"Have you tried the apple cinnamon coffee?"

"No, should I?"

"I highly recommend it." He let out a small chuckle and walked up to the counter ordering my suggestion. Knowing it would be a few minutes before they were able to make his drink, he walked back over to me.

"Is this taken?" He asked, signaling to the empty seat across from me.

"No, go ahead," I stuttered again. What a game change, I thought. The man actually wanted to sit by me. He sat down comfortably and looked out the large window.

"I am ready for snow," He said thoughtfully. It was almost like he had said it to himself than to me.

"I am, too. Although, I will miss Autumn."

"Why?" He asked piqued.

"The colors."

"Ah, well it is a perfect place for that."

"I come from Florida, so this four season thing took some getting used to. I now find myself not being able to live without it."

"Have you been here a long time?"

"Only five years. You?"

"A lot longer than that," He sighed. He was doing that thing again where he only gave so much information. It was enough to be a satisfying answer to some, but I needed more.

"Does that mean you are from here?"

"Yes, and no." I smirked at him suddenly feeling like I had somehow given too much information about myself since he was so closed off. I chose not to answer him feeling a strange swirl of emotions in my stomach. He looked over to me with a thoughtful expression.

"You're in here a lot," He stated matter of fact. I smiled wide. He did notice me. If I had my heart, it would be exploding.



"Why not?" I argued, confused about where he could be going with this.

"It's just, you're young. You choose to be in here than out with friends living the life."

"First off, I'm not that young. Second, I see no need to be out acting like an idiot, like so many people do." I wondered why I had just explained myself to him, when I did not need to. His assessment of me couldn't be more wrong, and that upset me greatly.

"You're not that young, huh?" I frowned at him taking offense. He himself couldn't be older than twenty-five.

"Does age really matter?"

"I suppose not. What do you do for fun?" He asked, leaning forward and resting his elbows on his thighs. I took a tentative sip of my coffee hoping it would soothe my raw throat.

"First you have to answer a question of mine," I countered.

"Fair enough."

"Why are you so curious?"

"Just making conversation," He said all too quickly. I gave a small pout, and decided to play along.

"Contrary to your judgment, I do go out. I did last night, and I will tonight. After all, it is Ladies Night." I answered with a small bit of venom in my voice.

"You're gay aren't you," He stated more instead of asked. My eyes grew wide.

"Gay?" I asked completely floored.

"Sure. You show little interest in the opposite sex, and clearly are uncomfortable around men. You say you go out because it is Ladies Night, and the expression on your face is that of offense."

Anger bubbled inside of me like thick lava. I tried looking at him, but it only twisted my insides further. He should not be allowed to be so beautiful. I wanted to slap him across the face, but refrained. Instead, I stood up and collected my things, but just before waking away, I leaned in and looked him dead in the eye.

"Wouldn't you like to know? Mr. Cullen, you watch, but you do not see."

I left the coffee shop more mad and confused than I had ever been in my entire life. How could he be so pompous? Stomping down the street back towards my apartment, something else felt off. I stopped walking and thought hard. Suddenly, my cold hand flew to my chest in shock. Somehow, the man had still managed to steal my heart. Only this time, and maybe it was because I left him, he didn't give it back.

The Velvet was as crowded as ever on this cold Saturday evening. Twilight had come and past leaving darkness only illuminated by Christmas lights on the street. Inside the club however, it was bursting with electricity. Lights, music, laughter. This place could make anyone feel alive.

Alice had dressed me much to my complaint, but she was good at what she does being in fashion design. She always found the right color for me to wear. This time I was in a sapphire blue dress that clung to every curve, dip, and bump my body possessed. It went a bit higher above the knee than I would have preferred, but it was too late to change now. My black high stilettos were killing my feet and we haven't even danced yet.

"So do you like your hair like that?" Alice asked breaking me free from my thoughts.

"Yeah, I do. Better than what a curling iron can do."

"Good," She replied with a smile. My hair was too long to some, but it was my favorite attribute.

"Okay, one more shot, and lets dance, yeah?" Alice suggested excitedly. She ordered two more vodka redbull's, we downed them quick, and headed for the dance floor.

One of my favorite things about Alice is that she never left me. She got men all of the time, but still chose me over any of them. That was until it was time to go home. The dance floor was packed with dancing bodies. We maneuvered our way between couples and singles until we found an open spot. A new song began to play as Alice and I started to move along with it, and all the other people around us. It was a song I had not ever heard before but liked immediately. Dancing was easy. It was freeing, and no one could judge you. I swayed and swirled around Alice smiling widely. Each turn and twist I made, a new set of people came into focus bustling about until I caught sight of something that stopped my movement entirely.

My head searched through the crowd anxiously until they found them again. Green eyes were staring back at me in such a fierce way it was unnerving. It rendered me motionless.

"Bella?" Alice called. I did not look away from him. Alice put her mouth to my ear from behind me.

"What is it?"

"It's him," I said in barely a whisper. Like usual, Alice somehow heard what I had said and followed my gaze.

"Oh, my God," She gasped. "He is so hot. And older!" Alice rooted.

"He's not older, older," I argued.

"He is at least thirty, Bells."

"No way!" I countered in disbelief.

"Oh, yes. Go talk to him!"

"No!" I said again. I spun around and went back to dancing. Alice did the same only not as enthused. She kept looking over my shoulder.

"He won't stop looking at you," Alice said with glee. "Go, now! Go and steal your heart back, baby." She shoved me again. She was right. I did kind of need my heart after all.

A cold sweat broke out on my forehead in anxiety. I took a deep breath and kissed Alice's cheek before stalking towards my thief. He was still watching me, and the closer I got, the more jelly-like my legs became. I approached him at the bar feeling my light buzz from the consumed alcohol. I felt as brave as I did fearful.

"Why are you staring at me?" I demanded.

"Who said I am?"

"I do."

"You can't prove anything," He replied slyly. I huffed in frustration, but looked to the bartender to order another drink. Mr. Cullen sat there patiently. I knew he was studying my face. My face had always been able to give me away. I tried to look monotone quickly, but knew I would fail. My drink came and I guzzled half of it in one take. I turned to look at him sitting on the stool watching me. He was dressed casual, much like earlier today with his hair wild and his eyes burning with something I recognized but could not place. I drank more alcohol, knowing it would make me brave. I took a seat next to him and smiled.

"How old are you?" I asked. His face changed to humor instantly.

"How old do you think?"

"Twenty-five, but my friend thinks you're older."

"How about a trade?"

"What?" How was he able to confuse me so quickly?

"An answer for an answer. You see, you have a name for me, but I have no idea what yours may be. Your vet office should consider name tags."

"Swan," I said shrugging my shoulders.

"Your name is Swan?"

"No, my last name is Swan. All I know is your last name."

"Fair enough," He retorted with a chuckle. Such a small sound to most, but his sent shivers down my spine.

"So, your age?"

"How old are you?" He diverted. It was my turn to laugh, and I did loudly.

"No, no. I gave you your answer. If you would like another from me, than I too, get another question."

"You play a hard game, Miss Swan."

"It's the only way I know, Mr. Cullen."

"I am thirty-two."

"Ah, you are old!" I joked.

I glanced over my shoulder to find Alice in the crowd dancing between two big men. She wasn't even looking at me, but lost in them. She would no doubt take both of them home tonight. A small twinge of jealousy seeped through my veins. I looked back to Mr. Cullen and was alarmed by his beauty all over again. The song playing over head changed to some dubstep, and I decided to ease up a bit. If Mr. Cullen was so interested to know things about me, then I would tell him. He was the first man to show any interest since my freshman year in college.

"Older than you prefer?" He asked with raised eyebrows. My chest swelled.

"No, just older," I stated.

"How old are you?"

"How old do you think?"

"Well, you look like you're seventeen, but you wouldn't be an vet nurse if that were true, am I right?" I nodded my head to him slowly. He reached for his vodka rocks, taking a tentative sip.

"Twenty?" I shook my head and pointed upward with my finger.

"You're not over twenty-five."

"No, I am not. Is twenty-two, too young, Mr. Cullen?" I said seductively. Fear rocked my insides quickly. I knew the alcohol made me more brave, but sexy was not something I had anticipated.

"Too young for what Miss Swan?" He asked with raised eyebrows. I stumbled for an answer that took longer than I had hoped. My cheeks burned red with embarrassment.

"Too young to be taken seriously?" I hedged. He smiled a brilliant smile showing his perfectly white teeth. I melted into the bar stool.

"No, I suppose not." He reached for his glass again, and I noticed on his free hand his left thumb playing with his wedding ring. If I had my heart, it would have sank to the floor.

"How long have you been married?" I blurted out. My hand instinctively went to my mouth in more embarrassment.

"That's like asking if you're a virgin," He said chuckling again. It eased my discomfort. I looked down at the bar still embarrassed.

"I'm sorry," I whispered.

"Are you?" I lifted my head to look at him, not understanding.


"No, a virgin." He was able to ask so easily.

"I bet you think I am, right?" I huffed.

"Does that mean you are or are not?"

"Do you always answer a question with a question?"

"Do you?" We stared at each other for a long moment until we both broke into laughter. The mixed sound was perfect. Just then, his cell phone rang, interrupting our laughs. He took it out if his jacket pocket and sighed as he looked at the screen before answering it.

"Bonjour, Ralph," He announced in perfect French.

My eyes widened. If I had not been attracted to him enough already, his foreign language speaking did me in entirely. It was difficult to keep up with his conversation, and the only word I could make out was Tanya. I turned my head away, trying not to appear as if I was eavesdropping. Even though I was, it did not matter because I couldn't understand French. I tried instead to listen to the song playing overhead. It was another that I had never heard, but I liked it immediately. When a song can fit your emotion, it is deeply soulful.

"You loved me and I froze in time

Hungry for that flesh of mine

But I can't compete with the she-wolf, who has brought me to my knees

What do you see in those yellow eyes?

'Cause I'm falling to pieces"

The lyrics made me realized that I had lost myself in all of this, in him, before I had even laid eyes on him. I looked around the familiar bar and suddenly saw nothing familiar. It was a whirlwind and I had been swept up in, swirling around at high speed. There was no control for me to grasp. I would do anything he ever asked of me, and I was terrified. He would inevitably be the death of me.

"Sorry about that," Mr. Cullen said as he placed his phone back in his jacket pocket. Before I could reply, Alice shouted my name from across the bar. Mr. Cullen turned to look at her as well, and he had that disgusted look on his face again as I excused myself.

"What?" I demanded, coming up to Alice. In my peripheral, I could see him watching me.

"What do you mean, what?" She spat. "How is it going?"

"Weird," Was all I could say.

"He looks at you with such possessiveness," Alice noted in a gross tone.

"He is so not interested," I argued.

"Whatever. Are you ready to go?" She asked.

"Um, no, not really."

"Well, I am and I have two boys waiting for me," She said with wiggling eyebrows.

"Go, go," I said waving my hand in the air.

"Call me if you need to, yeah?"

"Of course." She leaned in and pecked my cheek before prancing away. I looked back to Mr. Cullen whose eyes were still boring into me. I walked back hesitantly.

"Sorry," I muttered.

"She appeared to be displeased with you being over here," He noted carefully. I looked back to the entrance and could see each of Alice's arms linked through each man's on her side as they left.

"Alice? No, she's just... Protective," I offered.

"And popular I see."

"Extremely," I replied with a sigh.

"Don't sound so down," He began strongly, "I wouldn't say that that is something to be proud of." I turned to him with narrow eyes.

"Are you calling her a whore?" I asked in disgust.

"Not a whore. Promiscuous is a better word." He did not even blink through his insult. That strange bubble of anger began to brew inside of me for the second time today. I finished my drink and slammed it down on the bar before I stood up briskly. I stumbled slightly but recovered quickly. Mr. Cullen tilted his head at me confusion.

"That was not meant to offend you."

"Well it did. You do not even know her," I said through clenched teeth.

"Just an observation," He replied lightly while waving his hand through the air as if he was dismissing the topic. I began to laugh.

"What is funny?" He asked.

"Polite asshole suits you well, Mr. Cullen. Good night." I turned on my heel, almost tripping in the process before correcting myself. The downside of alcohol was beginning to take its affect. Tears began to sting the back of my eyes. I was half way across the room when I felt someone grab hold of my arm and spin me around.

"Don't go," He asked softly.

"You're cold," I said through a cracked voice. I began to blink rapidly to suppress my forming tears. He looked down to his arm that held onto mine tightly.

"Let's dance." He tugged on my arm.

I knew I was too weak to protest. As much as I wanted to leave and never come back, I wanted to stay. I followed him onto the dance floor. Another new song filled the small space as we took a spot and slowly began to move. The people around us were jumping and grinding like the song itself had possessed them. I took a deep breath and let go, allowing the music to take me, too. The man that held my heart put his hands on my waste as he, too lost himself in the song. Lyrics made themselves known as I placed my hands on his shoulders easily.

We swayed in sync. He pulled me closer to him, causing our stomachs to meet. His touch ignited a fire in me strong enough to burn the world. Moving as one we had fused together. I tilted my head back in happiness as a smile broke through my lips. I dropped my hands and slowly turned my body around so that we were front to back. He placed his hands back on my hips, moving me in a way that he enjoyed. My hands covered his, allowing him to have the control. I put my head back against his chest and breathed in his perfect scent.

"Tonight I want all of you tonight

Give me everything tonight

For all we know we might not get tomorrow

Let's do it tonight

Don't care what they say

Or what games they play

Nothing is enough

'Til I have your love"

The lyrics spoke from inside me as if they were telling him what I could not. He knew, though. He had to know. Suddenly, he spun me around to face him again. Our faces were mere inches apart. I could smell his vodka breath. He stared into my brown eyes like he was asking permission. I stared back, giving him the allowance that he was seeking.

He broke eye contact and took hold of my hand. I staggered behind his pull as he stalked for the alley exit. I noticed the song again when it morphed into a remix version. I had no idea what he wanted from me entirely, but I knew what was about to happen. I knew the consequences, too. I accepted them, knowing that maybe this is all I would ever get from him. He pushed the heavy door open forcefully and yanked me outside. We glanced around the cold and damp alley way, not seeing another living thing.

The same song could be heard as well out here as if we were still inside. Before he could move again, I ripped my hand from his and placed it on his chest. I pushed him as hard as I could against the old brick wall. He looked at me with surprise laced with something else I could not place. He took hold of my upper arms tightly and spun us to where my back was now against the wall. I looked into his emerald eyes pleadingly. I bit my lip, and that was it before his mouth crushed mine with such force it rattled my brain. I kissed him back with what little I still had in me as my own.

His tongue begged permission, so I opened my mouth. His tongue was ice to my fire as they moved in perfect harmony. Releasing my arm pin, his long delicate hands began tracing all over my body hastily. My hands were free, and I went straight for the button of his jeans undoing them with no issue or protest. When they were undone, I slid them down just enough to reveal the most intimate part of him. The only light we had was from a street lamp at the end of the alley.

I didn't need light to see how perfect he was in my hands. I pumped his length in one quick jerk causing a small moan to escape his mouth and into mine. It was an even more beautiful sound than his laugh. His hands went to my thighs, and ripped my dress upward revealing my hotness against the frigid air. My body shivered attentively. He placed one hand over my center. I cried out and pulled on his erection again.

My underwear was shoved to the side as he positioned himself for entrance. My hand retracted and went to his hair. Silk, just as I had predicted. I braced myself and said one last prayer in my head to keep me steady. Slowly, painfully, and wonderfully he entered me entirely. I cried out once more. He broke our kiss but left our mouths not even an inch apart. He gave another thrust and grunted. His body pumped in and out of mine slowly at first, then picked up speed. I had never experienced such pleasure, and I was not a virgin.

Nothing could compare to the feeling he was giving me. I tightened my grip in his hair and pushed my mouth back to his. Passion was the only thing pulsing in our veins as we neared our climax. Shock took over my current emotion when I realized that I had never felt this way before. Sex was sex and nothing more. That was, until now. I thought there had been something wrong with me in the past. As I neared my first climax during intercourse, I could feel the tears begin to swell again. Each time Mr. Cullen pounded into me it felt better.

Our heavy breathing was the only thing that could be heard in the dark alley outside of the Velvet. His breathing grew harsh, telling me that me that he was about to come. I feared that the dilapidated building we pounded against would fall to the ground in pieces. He tightened his grip on my upper thighs, and I squeezed my legs around him. It was one last thrust and we lost it completely.

I saw nothing but stars and the feeling was indescribable. It was passion and it burned like the sun. It was love, but love like a rose loved its thorns. I was in utter ecstasy as I called out. His cries matched mine as we fell down from our high together. Our tangled bodies went limp as he slowly lowered me down. He pressed his forehead to mine as we waited for our breathing to slow. After a moment, he raised his head.

"That was..." He broke off unable to continue.

"Yeah," I agreed. He fixed his pants and did the button up when I took hold of his left hand. How could I have forgotten? It was there all along. My finger traced over his wedding band tentatively.

He pulled his hand back in one swift movement. I looked to his face and saw fear and shame behind his eyes. Without my permission, a lone tear slipped from my eye and down my cheek. It was cold, and alone much like how I was to become as soon as he left me. Mr. Cullen backed away slowly.

Each step he took stomped down over my heart that he carried with him. Should I beg for another kiss? I searched his eyes for any glimpse of hope. Sadly, I knew that I felt just as ashamed as he. I was committing adultery. Why did he look more confused than upset? Hundreds of scattered thoughts coursed trough my brain. Maybe he was widowed? Maybe he was getting a divorce. But maybe he was just an adulterer.

I wanted to ask but my voice had deserted me. He had to go home to his wife. I knew this would have no happy ending. Although, It did comfort me to see that he appeared to hurt like I did in this moment. To experience the best pleasure I had ever known was what I wanted. I got it, but was this truly what I had wanted all along? To gain love as fast as I would surely loose it? The questions were like and endless tunnel.

"Good-bye, Bella," He said in a whisper. My name.

But of course he heard Alice call me. In this moment I could see his soul. He was a broken man for reasons unknown. I chose not to answer him. I could never say good-bye. Instead, I wrapped my arms around my chest, and walked down the alley with his eyes on my back. This time I left not only without my heart, but without my soul as well. I knew that just as he did.

Time has always been said to be the healer of all wounds. Although, some people were not as fortunate as others. Time has left me like the rain leaves the desert. It was punishment, I know. To commit such a terrible sin even though I wasn't very religious, I knew the payment of my deeds. I would hurt for as long as I lived. Sure, it may lessen, I may find another, but for now it was who I was. All I thought about was my time spent in that alley way twenty days ago.

The Thanksgiving Holiday had passed with nothing to report. Christmas was on the horizon, and it reminded you of just that every where you looked. Red, green, white and blue lights adorned the city streets and every business. Christmas has always been my favorite, but this year... I wasn't feeling very joyful.

Alice was relentless. She tried helping me, but she didn't realize that all I wanted was to be alone. I needed to handle this on my own. It wouldn't kill me, right? People lived without their hearts all of the time. When children or spouses die, your heart goes along with them. The only difference for me is that he was a stranger that stole my heart. I didn't want it back, though. How could I? It belonged to him. It was an unrepairable organ. Those romantic movies that I watched like they were my life, had no answers for this.

The Coffee Shop on Main Street has been as busy as ever. Somehow it seemed that the holiday's made people want coffee more than any other time of year. Lately, I had been helping the owners out before they opened on the weekends. It was extra cash, and I begged for anything to keep my mind off of, Mr. E. Cullen. I was stashing my bag into one the cabinets behind the cashier counter when Penelope came up behind me.

"Good morning, dear," She addressed softly. She was the kindest woman I had ever met. She had a heart of gold and made me feel better about everything bad in the world. I used to make her tell me old stories of her life. She had lived the life I hoped to live one day. She married young and had been with the same man for thirty years.

"Hi, Penelope," I replied through fake enthusiasm.

"Would you like to put the Christmas tree up this year?" She knew I would. It was my favorite. I smiled and nodded at her.

"Good. Doug is getting it out of the stock room now. I think we can knock most of it out before we open, yeah?"

"Absolutely," I agreed.

Christmas trees were fascinating to me. Who came up with idea to decorate a tree with ornaments and lights, anyway? It was genius. The tree was talk and lush. it was placed in the same spot it was every year by the front window. We finished the string of lights and went for the box of ornaments.

"What has been going on with you lately, sweetheart?" Penelope asked softly. I shrugged my shoulders and hung a big green ball on a tree branch.

"Don't lie to me, Isabella," She scolded.

"I'm just confused about a lot," I offered.

"You're in love," She stated plainly. I froze in place for a moment before recovering.

"It's that obvious, huh?"

"To me, yes."

"Not to others?"

"Maybe, but you try so hard to hide it. Why?" She hung a small angel ornament on a lone branch then looked to me expectantly.

"He doesn't want me back." I sighed.

"You know this for certain?"

"The circumstances prevent us from being together, and yes, I do not truly know if he even wants me."

"Talk to him."

"I can't," I said sadly lowering my head.

"Bella," She began. She walked around the tree and I was met with her blue eyes. "Did you know that there is no love without two other things?" I raised my eyebrows at her.

"It is true. First you need trust, then communication. Having those things creates love."

"Is that how you and Doug have lasted thirty years?"

"Yes. So, I suggest talking to the man you care about so much. You're going to be all right."

"Thank you," I told her kindly. She leaned in and hugged me tightly before going back around the tree. I did not have trust nor communication with him. In fact, that was all that was truly lacking. As much as I hated myself I knew that I did not want to spend the rest of my days without my heart or soul. But If I never saw him again, I knew that I would be all right in time. Wouldn't I?

The dark morning grew a grey light by half past eight. Snow was on the forecast. I had finished the Christmas tree and, got my coffee, and stared at the beautiful sight. White lights circled the entirety and colored glass balls hung from ever branch. At the tip top, a beautiful gold star. My star had stopped coming to the coffee shop. It had been weeks. The pain felt as if it were yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I sighed and tightened the scarf around my neck.

They say home is where the heart is. My small apartment was indeed my sanctuary. Living with Alice in college, I learned a lot, but living on my own was what I preferred. It was decorated to my taste with a bit of every culture put at some place in here. I could dress in nothing, or sweatpants, eat whatever and whenever with no objections. Sure, I got lonely, but that was inevitable.

I was curled up on my couch with Meet Me in St. Louis playing on my TV and a cup of hot cocoa keeping me company. It wasn't past ten at night, but I was tired and almost asleep when a knock came on my door. I sprang upward in confusion. Alice liked to pay late visits after she got laid. I wasn't in the mood for her explicit detail, but I dragged myself off of the couch to answer the door.

"Alice, I don't want to hear your sex stor-" I flung the door open and stopped speaking immediately. My cheeks heated in such embarrassment I felt like passing out.

"Bella," He said slowly. His beauty was striking. Somehow I had forgotten the intensity of it. It froze me. My brain uncleared as the circumstances hit me full force.

"How do you know where I live?" I spat.

"I followed you home after you left the Velvet."

"You followed me?" I wasn't sure if I was creeped out or flattered by this news.

"Yeah, it is not safe to walk home in the dark."

"What do you want?" I was violated somehow, yet excited, too. I wanted to stay angry at him but it was hard. I suddenly felt very naked in just my sweatpants and a tank top. Cold air flooded my small space from the hall, and I shivered.

"May I come in?" He asked politely. My hand hesitated on the door knob.

"Only because you're letting cold air in," I replied stiffly. I stepped aside and caught his intoxicating scent as he passed me.

"Uh, you can sit if you'd like," I offered as I took my seat back on the couch. I pulled my throw blanket up around me to cover all exposed skin. He sat down on the end cautiously. His body was stiff and his eyes were clouded with fear. Or was it nervousness? He made no move to speak and it was making me anxious.

"It's been weeks," I stated in a whisper.

"I know," He whispered back.


"I'm no good for you, Bella."

"Isn't that for me to decide?"

"No, because you're no good for me either." My chest felt like a bowling ball had dropped on top of it suffocating me. Tears betrayed me as they filled my eyes.

"Then what do you want?" I asked trying to sound angry but it came out as pathetic.

"I had to see you. I haven't been able to get you out of my head," He admitted, mostly to himself it seemed. All of a sudden, I felt like I was in a game of cards. Each new card you're dealt with either makes you happy, or makes you feel defeated. He was able to hand out emotions like an ace.

"I cannot keep up with you!" I said louder than I intended. He looked over to me for the first time. I stared at him with all of his dealt emotions coursing through me. It was hard to pinpoint which one to go by. He didn't answer me and that only infuriated me more. I stood up, the blanket dropping to the floor.

"Go home, Mr. Cullen," I said with venom. He stood up with hurt written all over his stunning face.

"I can't be your mistress. Go home to your wife."

"I can't."

"Why not?" I demanded. He ran his hands through his hair angrily.

"Fuck," He said through clenched teeth. "I'm divorced, Bella." I stared at him in disbelief. I reached out and took his beautiful left hand. I examined it, and saw no wedding band.

"But your ring. You wore a ring!" I cried. I knew I wasn't crazy. Realization didn't take long to dawn on me. My hand let go of his and flew to my mouth.

"Oh, God. I'm the reason why? Did I break up your marriage?" I shook my head in horror.

"No, no. Of course not."

"Then what the fuck? What do you want from me? You can't just come back after weeks passed expecting me to understand. One minute you hate me, you're an asshole, and cold hearted. Then the next, you're the sweetest man I have ever met! So which is it?"

"All of the above," He said as he bowed his head in shame. I flew my hands in the air out of frustration.

"You have to go. Just go!" He made no move to comply to my order.

Tears began streaming down my cheeks in defeat. I was loosing the card game. He was the dealer and the dealer never lost. He stood still, studying me, so I pushed him. Awkwardly, he stumbled over but recovered and took hold of my arms tightly. I couldn't move to shove him again. His fierce emerald eyes scorched into mine. I blinked through hot tears feeling broken.

I felt broken even with my heart right in front of me. He smashed his mouth to mine. I struggled against his hold hating the contact, except I needed it like air, so I did not struggle long. Instead, I allowed him to take me again. This time, I would take him, too. He wouldn't get to leave without missing a piece of himself that he desperately needed for survival. I kissed him back and we fell onto the couch.

Hands were everywhere and the kissing was so hard that it hurt my mouth. I didn't care. The physical pain was welcoming. I bit down on his bottom lip and he gasped. Ragged breathing sounded over the Judy Garland rendition of, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. He tugged on my hair with one hand as the other slid up my shirt. This wouldn't be love making for there was no love to be found. This was empty wanting. Each of us searching for the same thing knowing we had to fail. Having sex wouldn't save us, but I had to have it anyway.

I had to take him like he was mine. He kicked off his shoes and continued to strangle my mouth with his tongue. Groping turned to yanking as clothes were pulled off and sweat came over our exposed skin. In the light I could see his perfect body hovering over my flawed one. He had light chest hair that tickled my exposed stomach.

My sweatpants had been shoved down to my ankles with his jeans completely off. I was flawed inside and out. He was only flawed on the inside. It hurt to look at his beauty, so I kept my eyes closed tight but opened my legs to him. The first thrust was hard, jolting me upward and crying out in both pain and pleasure.

I wrapped my body around him possessively never wanting to release him. His thrusts grew more intense each time. As hard as it was, I wanted it harder. I pulled my legs around him strangling him to me. When I tightened my insides he grunted loudly. His sound of pleasure, caused by me, sent me over the edge. My orgasm was even higher than the first as I screamed.

I couldn't stop the noise as embarrassed as I would feel about it later. My pleasure spurred on his own release. With one more thrust, he came loudly. It was raw and strong. He collapsed onto my naked chest and sighed. My legs loosened their hold as my body went limp. We laid there wordless for a long time.

Slowly, his fingers began tracing a pattern on my stomach. He had rolled to the side uncomfortable by our heat. Sweat was beaded over our bodies like a blanket. My breathing was beginning to slow, and my lack of vanity was seeping in. I felt ashamed, exposed. His head was placed on the bare spot between what little breasts I possessed. My right hand laid limp at my side while the other had stayed tangled in his hair.

"I think it may be time that I know your name," I said with a smile. He chuckled.


"Edward. Perfect," I replied happily. We grew silent once more.

"Why can't we be together?" I asked in a whisper. His finger tracing slowed for half a second before he composed himself.

"You will only end up hurt."

"You don't know that," I countered. He sighed.

"Can't we just enjoy what we do have?"

"And what is that?"

"This..." He whispered. His hand rubbed up and down my naked body. "Affair."

"You only want me for sex? A few weeks ago you thought my best friend a whore for doing just what we are."

"This is different." He was so sure. I chuckled.


"Because I care."

"If you care, then why can't it be more?"

"I care too much."

"That's not possible," I whispered sadly.

"I'm a jealous man, Bella." I didn't answer him. I wasn't sure what to say.

"I hate seeing you with anyone else," He continued slowly. His voice sounded like he was in pain. "Once, I saw you laughing with the cashier boy at the coffee shop. I wanted to punch him. I even got mad when you went over to see Alice that night at the bar."

"Alice is my best friend, and Jacob is gay, if that makes you feel better." He laughed lightly.

"Still. I want you for me, and only me."

"Edward, you've had that for longer than you realize," I replied wistfully.

"It's not good for you."

"What if I want it?" He lifted his head from my chest to look at me.

"How could you?" I stared into his eye for the hundredth time and knew that I loved him. I thought I had known before, but this was a certainty that was unbreakable by any force on earth.

"Because you're the only person that has ever wanted me for any reason. You do want me, don't you?" I asked through a thick throat. He smiled then placed a soft kiss between my breasts.

"You are so beautiful," He whispered in his velvet voice. My eyes closed tightly.

"No," I breathed in disbelief. No one had ever said such a thing to me with that much meaning. Tears betrayed me once again. He lifted his head and looked at me sadly.

"Don't cry," He begged softly. I took my hand from his soft hair to wipe my face. Edward laid his head back down on my chest and wrapped his arms around me tightly. I cried freely until my eyes were dry. I felt better instantly. My stomach growled, causing us both to lighten up with laughter.

"Do you want to order pizza?"

"Absofuckinlutely," He said excitedly.

And so our routine began. We spent every night together at my apartment. He had come to know everything about me. As much as I had told him, he still had yet to tell me much about himself. I tried asking once, but he diverted the topic quickly. It was amazing how fast he could put those walls up. We never went to his place. I knew where he lived, but we had never gone there together.

I was too afraid to ask why. He was a smart man being the head of the most popular bank in the city. He had money, too. That never mattered to me, but he insisted on paying for everything. I wanted to know him more than I did, but he wouldn't let me in. It was as confusing as much as it was hurtful. Sex seemed to overpower everything in the end. I experienced pleasure that should be illegal and actually was in some states. He knew my body better than I did.

Christmas was now only a couple of days away. Edward hasn't discussed it much as to whether we would spend it together or not. Tonight, I had gathered up all of my courage and made a plan. He told me that he would be by later tonight but that he had a few things at his place to take care of first. My plan was to go and surprise him. I dressed as sexy as my wardrobe allowed in my favorite black dress and heels. I let my hair flow freely in all it's length and put on make-up.

I was excited and nervous as I walked down the hallway of his large an fancy apartment building. I tightened my jacket around me for a brief second before changing my mind and opening it back up. It was very low cut in the front... Not the type of dress one wears with a bra. I took a deep breath as I stopped in front of door number 216. I raised my hand to knock and it shook. I knocked anyway.

It was a moment before I heard shuffling around and quiet voices. I looked down to examine my appearance once more. It was as good as it was going to get. I heard footsteps come to the door as I tried to mask my face with confidence. I smiled widely and the door opened up. My smile went away in an instant.

"Can I help you?" The tall woman before me asked acidly. She was tall with bronze skin and platinum blonde hair. She was a super model in comparison to me. I shuffled on my feet uncomfortably.

"Uh, Edward," I whispered. She smiled showing all of her perfect teeth.

"He's detained." I took in the rest of her appearance and stopped breathing. She stood in just a large white button up shirt revealing her long toned legs. It was all she wore besides a pair of long wool socks. Appearing by her feet and rubbing against her leg was Willow. The cat looked up to me expectantly.

"Oh," I choked. As soon as the word left my mouth, another could be heard.

"Who is it?" Edward called.

I didn't wait for a reply as I found my legs pulling me away from the apartment as fast as they could. I stumbled over the heels a few times before I made it to the elevator. Safe inside, I let myself cry freely. In the lobby, my legs were wanting to give out. It was hard to move and I felt like I hadn't taken a breath since I stopped breathing upstairs.

Feeling faint, I made my way to one of the plush couches by the burning fire and Christmas tree. I knew his apartment complex was nice, but this was luxurious. I sat down exhausted and empty as I threw my head in my hands.

"Bella!" Edward's voice called out loudly. My head jolted upward and found him running towards me from the elevator. As soon as he saw my face streamed with thick tears he stopped running. He put his hands out in defense.

"It's not what you think," He stated shakily.

"Oh, is it not?" I spat angrily. I wiped my face harshly, taking half of my mascara along with it. Alice was right, I really did need to Invest in waterproof make-up. He ran his hands through his hair in desperation, pulling hard on the ends.

"You're a liar, and you have no heart including mine any longer," I stated flatly. I stood up with shaky limbs and started to walk towards the exit.

"Please!" He begged. "Let me explain." I stopped walking and turned to face him.

"Now you want to open up to me? Because I caught you?" I replied hurt.

"We are divorced. She," He stopped, looking for words. "She got the apartment in the divorce but has let me say there in it until I found a place. I took my time in finding one obviously, but there is nothing going on between us, I swear to you." I didn't answer him as I closed my open jacket tightly.

"She just got back from France unannounced."

"France?" I scoffed.

"Yeah, she's a model." I rolled my eyes and let out an exasperated breath.

"Of fucking course she is. That is just more proof that we don't belong together!"

"What? No." Tears started to run down my throat again.

"I am just some ordinary girl that is peculiar in no way, Edward!" I struggled through tears as I continued my argument. "Ending this is easier than trying to keep it going."

"You want it to end?" He asked sadly.

"Don't you?" I countered. "I know nothing about you or your life. Obviously," I huffed pointing my finger upward.

"With what little you know about the specifics, you still know me better than anyone."

"France, a model, fuck," I said through clenched teeth. I walked back over and took a seat on the couch. Edward sat down on the end carefully keeping space between us.

"She left to become a model with her lover who was also her manager," He replied defeated. This time I felt like I was the dealer in this card game. The control was a new high except that I did not want it.

"This is such a mess. She still loves you, Edward."

"No, she fucking doesn't," He whispered angrily.

"You still want her."

"No!" He yelled startling me. "I want you and that is selfish."

"How?" I argued.

"She cheated on me. She left me after five years of marriage. She said it was my fault. She said I stopped touching her. I did because I hated her! She manipulated me, stole from me, and fucked every man that she saw." His admission was overwhelming. His eyes were rimmed red and his clothes were loose. He looked tired, lost, broken.

"And you think I'll do the same thing," I stated instead of asked.

"I'll push you away, too. And when I saw how Alice was, I feared you would become the same way."

"How long ago was the divorce?"

"She was away for six months. I came home one day and she was gone. No note, no call, nothing. A few weeks later I got the divorce papers. I didn't even fight it. Then I get back today, and she's here begging me to take her back." I could hear my heart in him sink down into the earth deserting us both. Of course she wanted him back. Somehow, I still ended up being the other woman. My own movie was turning out just like the others.

"Edward," I began hesitantly.

"The marriage was never good, Bella. If I could take it back, I would, but then I wouldn't have met you. I know I screwed up, and I know what it must have looked like to you up there."

I lowered my head to stare at my tangled hands. As hard as I knew this would be, I had to be the strong one. I stood up again and went to stand in front of him.

"Edward," I said softly. He looked up to me through his own thick tears that only made his eyes more beautiful. I touched his face and felt the stubble on his cheek.

"I won't stand between you and her. I'm not strong enough. You have a lot you need to sort out." He looked away from me in his own defeat. I turned and walked away from him when his voice stopped me once more.

"You asked me why I still wore my wedding band," He began hoarsely. "It was to remind myself of the hate I felt, and the failure I had become." I didn't turn to look at him. Instead, I walked away without either of us owning a heart anymore.

Christmas morning was upon the city along with a fresh dusting of snow. I woke early expecting something that would never come. Alice and Penelope had each offered if not begged for me to go along with them on their trips. I had been with Alice to her grandmother's in Kentucky, and had been with Penelope and Doug to South Carolina to visit their daughter.

I had a wonderful visit each time, but this year I wanted to be alone. Solitude would feel better than faking a smile.

Edward was gone. I was gone. Who was it that sat here on this couch with her coffee? I replayed the other night's events over and over hoping for a flaw. Hoping for a window to break through.

There was so much more to be said. I was a failure failing to fight the good fight. Would it help... Or make a difference? Would it matter even if I did or did not? I was ripped in two. My cell phone rang startling me. I grabbed it off the coffee table and answered it.

"Bella, Merry Christmas," Penelope said happily.

"Merry Christmas," I replied sweetly. "Did you make it to Rosalie's all right?

"We did with little snow. Although, now it's covered out."

"Yeah, here, too."

"Listen, I need a huge favor," She hedged.

"Sure," I agreed.

"Well," She began with a chuckle, "Doug says he didn't lock up the coffee shop, and I know I didn't, so would you mind terribly to go down and lock up for us?"

"Of course," I replied laughing.

"He's getting too old for his own good," She teased.

"Tell me about it," I joke back lightly. We said our good-byes and I dressed in comfy jeans, a sweater, and boots as I made my way to the coffee shop. It was within walking distance and even despite the snow, I chose to walk instead of drive.

The shop was dark with only the Christmas tree illuminating any light. Sure enough, the door was unlocked, so I stepped inside. One cup of coffee wouldn't hurt, I thought. I'd rather spend Christmas here anyway. Closing the door behind me I removed my scarf and went for the light switch.

"Bella," Edward said quietly. I jumped in the air in surprise and clutched my chest.

"Shit, Edward!" I said trying to catch my breath. He was seated at the chair, my chair, by the Christmas tree.

"What the hell are you doing here?"

"Wishing you a Merry Christmas," He stated simply. "It took quite a bit of persuading Doug, but Penelope overruled him, and they gave me a key." He rose from his seat and waved me over. I hesitated before taking that first step towards him. It was more of a force pulling me than anything else. Now standing in front of him I could breathe again.

"Bella, I love you," He stated with a brilliant smile. I was stricken by his admission.

"Don't answer yet," He asked softly, "I need to tell you how much you mean to me. You have made me who I am, who I always wanted to be just in the weeks that I have known you. I cannot imagine the happiness I would endure by having you forever. I know that's selfish of me, but this is my heart speaking. It was never just sex with you. I gave you everything I had willingly, I was just too afraid to say it out loud for fear of it vanishing. For the fear of you vanishing. I can't be without you. I moved out and got a hotel room until I find something else. Willow even wanted to come with me, can you believe it?" He said with a chuckle. "And Tanya is gone. Forever." Tears were running down my cheeks and my chest was filled like never before.

"Edward, I love you. I've always loved you." His smile broadened and I crushed my body against his in the tightest hug I could muster.

He wrapped his arms around me securely and buried his face in my hair. This was the beginning. Everything that happened between us before this moment was like the prologue. My chest was filled with his heart that he had given me. I pulled apart to kiss him. He kissed me back. It was the most perfect, slow, and sweet kiss that the world had ever held.

I heard once that you are who you love, not what loves you. I understood that now. I had it as my own instead of a yearning that burned within me. Edward described me, explained me, was me. I knew I was the same for him each time those green eyes met mine. Because I loved him, there was meaning in the world.

I was my own person, filled by his love. Contentment was an understatement. This was bliss, a dream we now lived as our new life. We sat down together hand in hand, heart in heart in front if the glowing Christmas tree. It was there that we started at the beginning.

I was so proud to be a part of the Stand Up 2 Cancer/Stand Up 4 Katalina cause. I hope you enjoyed my first O/S.