Contest entry for Smells Like Metallic Roses 90s TwiFic Contest

Title: A Random Lottery & A Series of Near Mistakes

Pairing: Bella and Edward

Rating: M for language and tiny lemons

Summary: Bella and I had our moments in time, but that's all they ever were, moments. Moments with sticky, sweet Jell-O kisses, and stolen sodas.

Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight, that belongs to SM. I'm just dinking around with her characters. No infringement intended.

AN: I totally lifted the title from a line in one of my favourite 90's movies. Bonus points if you know which movie the line came from.

~O_o~

EPOV

"You know what? Exhale fucko, 'cause it's not gonna happen!" Rose roared at Emmett, and I just sat back in the kitchen and watched it all play out. This was a typical scene. Em did something stupid and Rose yelled at him for it—typical and entertaining.

I stretched my legs beneath the old oak table, put my hands behind my head, and just watched. Rosalie's facial expressions were fuckin' wonderful. Her brow knit together, her lip curled up in the corner, and her pretty face twisted into a disgusted sneer. It was like watching a beautiful flower wilt. Kind of tragic.

"But, Rose, I —" Emmett stuttered. His face was a little red, and his shoulders hunched. He knew he had no ground to stand on.

"I, I, I! God, this isn't the fucking Emmett show! Is that all you think about? What you can get out of it? Because if you think this relationship is a one-way street…" Her voice trailed off as she and Emmett left the apartment and marched toward her little red Dodge Daytona IROC. Saddest fucking car I'd ever seen, but she loved it. She rebuilt the engine with her own two dainty hands. Impressive, really.

Rose was a bombshell and most men didn't expect a pretty little thing like her to have greased up nails and more than half a degree in mechanical engineering under her belt. She was a spicy, take no shit kind of girl, which was exactly what Emmett McCarty needed. If his ball landed on the wrong side of the court, she'd kick it back, with relish.

He wasn't a meathead and by no means a stupid guy; he just had a tendency to say the wrong things. Like all the fucking time. Dude had a major case of foot-in-mouth disease, likely fatal.

Em and Rose were in charge of provisions for the weekend. Beer, pot, food…beer. They'd stopped by Alice and Bella's apartment to snag the two coolers before hitting the grocery store, something Emmett was supposed to do last night. Em, however, got caught up in a game of ultimate Frisbee on the campus and "kind of, sort of forgot." Hence the argument.

Thankfully, the rest of us would be riding in my van. My fully restored—thanks to my dad and uncle—1965 VW Van. Old, yes, but classic and thanks to all the work put into it, damned reliable.

"You ladies just about ready?" I called down the hallway. "We're going to a cabin, not some frat party, so put on some jeans and sneakers and let's cut already!" That was mostly for the benefit of my younger sister, Alice.

Alice and Bella couldn't be more different. My sister was a perky, pixie haired, ex-prom queen studying fashion at the University of Seattle. When she picked up poms-poms in high school, Bella picked up her Walkman and tuned out the ra-ra-sis-boom-ba's with Hole.

While Alice took classes in the history of fucking polka-dots or some such shit, Bella immersed herself literature. Bella's weapon of choice was the mighty pen, while Alice toted a fabric swatch and a measuring tape. Night and day.

Alice clicked down the hall on heels that added about three inches to her tiny five foot nothing frame in a plaid skirt and a matching vest thing. Her lips were perfectly pinked, not a hair out of place, and she carried a small clutch that matched the baby blue in her outfit. She pulled her rolling suitcase behind her.

I couldn't help but laugh. "Fun size, you know where we're going right?" I said, looking at the outfit and shaking my head.

"What? I can't camp and look good?" she said with her hand on her hip.

"Sure you can, Alice. If anyone can pull off completely impractical clothing this weekend, it's you." I patted her spiky little head and grabbed her suit case.

"Subject me to that shit again, Alice, and I'll hide your lip gloss and those red pumps you love so much," Bella said as she stepped into the hallway carting a much smaller and more reasonable sized bag.

"You wouldn't." Alice feigned shock.

"The Spice Girls are fucking tragic. They suck, Alice."

Alice rolled her blue eyes, winked at me, and took a seat at the kitchen table while Bella laced up her 18 hole shit-kickers. She stood up— her jeans riddled with safety pins, red and black plaid shirt rolled at the sleeves, and wearing thick black eye liner. Her long, dark brown hair was tousled and she smelled like vanilla and spice. She swiped the can of Pepsi I'd been drinking and downed it. I smiled and shook my head at her. She'd been stealing my soda since high school.

The princess of pop got to her feet and moved to stand next to Bella. Night and fucking day.

"Is that all you're bringing?" Alice gestured to Bella's duffel bag.

"Yup," Bella answered, tapping Ali's button nose. "Rose Monster and my brother gone?" She looked to me.

Emmett was Bella's half brother. When Emmett was two, his mother remarried and Bella was born a year later.

"Yeah. They'll meet us there." I grabbed Bella's duffel, and with the girls trailing behind me, I headed down the back stairs and to the van. I'd packed it up that morning with bedding, dishes, bug spray… all that good stuff. The last stop before we hit the highway was Jumbo Video to pick up my sister's loadie boyfriend, Jasper.

Getting fried on a Friday night while you watched Star Wars was one thing, man, but maintaining a near constant state of altered bliss was all together something different. I didn't disapprove of Jazz—he was good to my sister—but the guy could use a break from the bong.

When I closed my eyes and pictured a guy standing next to my sister, I imagined someone in full on Banana Republic gear. You know…shirt tucked in, hair slicked back, a good shine on his shoes. Not Jazz. Jasper Whitlock was a walking advertisement for birth control. His left arm was covered in ink, and his ear was pierced through four times. There was a stud in his nose, and the dude was sporting a Mohawk. Today, said Mohawk was green. Not what you'd picture the bubblegum princess hooking up with, but to each her own.

"M'lady…" Jazz said as he crawled into the back with my sister.

"All right, ladies and ghouls, the rules of the road are as follows." I turned in my seat to face the back of the van. "If you must smoke, windows down please. There is only one bathroom break and that is at the half way point. My van, my tunes." I watched Alice huff and cross her arms.

"Suck it up, Fun Size. And last but not least…No sexin' of any kind in my van. The thought of your," I eye balled Jazz, "stuff all seeping into the upholstery makes me want to fucking heave. Got it, folks?" I gave the group a meaningful glance before turning back in my seat and putting the beast into drive.

"James not partaking in the cabin getaway, Bella?" Jasper asked.

I watched Bella's face turn to stone in the rear view mirror. Her lips pressed into a thin line. "Nope," she said, turning to the window.

Bella and James had been a thing for about three months, and then suddenly last week, he stopped coming by, stopped calling. Bella hadn't said a word about it, but by the tense set of her shoulders I'd guess that things didn't end well. To be honest the guy was kind of a wad. He'd show up, eat her food, drink their beer and split.

I turned up the radio, put my hand on her knee and gave it a little squeeze. She turned away from the window and offered me a weak smile.

James must have been a complete reject, I thought.

Bella and I had our moments in time, but that's all they ever were, moments. When she and Alice were in the tenth grade—and my parents had taken off for the weekend—they spent the evening tossing back Jell-O shooters and watching Roseanne. Bella was booze flushed and wearing boxer shorts. I couldn't take my perverted fucking eyes off her long, creamy legs.

Somewhere between My-So Called Life and Ren and Stimpy she'd climbed onto my lap. Her warm body straddled me, and God help me I didn't even think twice when she slipped her tongue in my mouth. She pushed her hips against me, and I squeezed her cute little ass. Things might have gotten real if the smell of sugar sweet vomit hadn't distracted us. Poor Alice rode that hangover out for two days.

Moment number two happened the night of the girl's high school graduation. Something by Bone Thungs N' Harmony rang out and people tripped up and down the stairs. Bella was lying on her back, stretched out on my sister's bed, staring up at the ceiling. We holed up in Ali's room listening to the party rage on, neither one of us really interested in joining the mindless horde beyond the door. We'd rolled one up and smoked and talked for what seemed like hours. Suddenly, her hands were fisting my flannel and she was biting my lip. Did I push her away? Nope. I remember she tasted like weed and bubblegum, and it was over before it began. I was just about to pull her t-shirt over her head when Emmett came barging in. It took him a few seconds to get past the need to beat the fuck out of me for having my hands on his little sister's tits, but once he did, he managed to pass along the information that he'd come all the way upstairs for in the first place. Apparently, a fight broke out and the neighbours had called the cops.

That was our last moment, nearly two years ago.

We stopped at Gas n' Go, fed "the beast," and picked up some munchies for the rest of the drive. Bella sat shotgun with me, sucking on a Ring Pop while Jazz rambled on about the state of politics. He might have been a burn ball, but the boy knew his shit. He talked about bullshit bills that congress wanted to pass and babbled about conspiracies and corruption in the White House. He didn't sound like one of those smoked out, paranoid, anti-government people. His arguments were logical and sound and that kind of freaked me the fuck out.

We finally reached the cabin a little after three in the afternoon. The air was warm, sun was shining, birds were chirping…and Emmett was grunting like a pig in heat.

"Jesus Christ!" Bella shouted, her hands coming down and slapping her outer thighs. "Emmett Philip McCarty, pull out and zip up!" Standing in the doorway, she shook her head.

"I swear, you two are like animals," Alice said, trying to pry Jasper's fingers away from her eyes. "Couldn't you have defiled each other in your bedroom?"

Emmett had Rose bent over the back of the Lazy Boy, a big stupid grin on his face. Rose's boobs weren't exactly new to me. Get the girl drunk enough and the clothes came off. So with their moral standing lying down, and my lack of give a shit, I walked past the two sex sweaty bodies and heaped the box of dishes onto the counter. Unfortunately, Emmett's naked ass was something else I was all too familiar with. I shook my head at him as he cupped his package and strutted down the hall to the bathroom.

"That boy's got no shame," Jasper said, clutching a mammoth bong like a security blanket.

After unpacking the van we set about making dinner. "Making dinner" was a pretty loose interpretation. We skewered hot dogs and cooked them over the fire that Girl Scout Rose started. Beer, hot dogs, and Cheetos were good grub as far as I was concerned.

"You should go get your guitar," Rose said to Bella. Emmett sat in the soft sand, one of her legs draped over each of his shoulders. He rubbed her jean clad legs absently, and she played with his dark hair. Her blonde hair was swept into a high pony tail and it swished back and forth when she turned her head.

"Only if you sing with me," Bella answered, looking back at Rose. Rose nodded and Bella rose from her seat with a lazy smile on her face.

Bella started playing guitar when she was fourteen years old. She had this innate kind of talent for it. Not like me.

When I was fifteen I asked for, and got, a drum kit for my birthday. I thought I was the coolest thing since sliced bread. It didn't look hard, hit the drums with the sticks, make music, and look cool as hell doing it. Easy, right? Turns out you need talent, not just a desire to be noticed by the opposite sex.

I took lessons for months until I finally declared myself a fucking dweeb and tossed the sticks for good. But Bella—Bella had real talent. It rolled off her in waves.

She settled back down on the picnic bench, got comfortable, and began to play. Right away, I recognized the song. Rose's voice broke in first, and then softly Bella began to sing.

"Sometimes I feel so happy
Sometimes I feel so sad
Sometimes I feel so happy
But mostly you just make me mad
Baby you just make me mad
Linger on, your pale blue eyes
Linger on, your pale blue eyes"

The two sounded like angels with whiskey smoked voices. Rose's was a little lighter, higher, but it still had that roughed over quality to it. Bella's oozed pure sex and sin even in the gentle confines of that song. I wracked my brain for something a little rougher sounding, something not so soft and clean. I wanted to hear her voice wrapped up in something dirtier.

"Miss World?" I suggested as the song came to an end.

"Hole?" Ali asked, looking across the fire at Bella.

Bella snickered. "Two points for, Fun Size," she said, nodding her head.

When the cords picked up in pace and Bella began to belt out the lyrics in earnest, my eyes zoomed in on her mouth. Mesmerized but the shape they took with each word she forced past her lips.

Bella and Rose sang a few more songs and Emmett attempted to join in. It was evident that talent did not run in the McCarty/Swan family. He couldn't carry a tune if you strapped it to him with duct tape.

The night had become quiet; the crackle of the fire and the waves lapping against the shore were really the only sounds to be heard.

I looked to my left and Jazz's hand was snaking up my sister's leg, his mouth at her ear. Across the fire pit Emmett had Rose pulled in close and they were exchanging whispers. I stood and offered my hand to Bella. "Walk with me?"The couple thing wasn't really annoying, just inevitable.

It'd been five months since Tanya and I had called it off, and like Bella I really wasn't up for discussing the finer details of that drama. Tanya was beautiful, like Jennie Garth type beautiful, and smart and so kind hearted. But like everyone out there, she had major character flaws.

Bella dropped to the damp sand, rolled up her jeans and let the waves break over her bare feet. "You're almost done," she said, pushing her hands out behind her.

"Huh?" I shoved away old thoughts and focused on the girl in the sand.

"School. You're almost done. Excited?"

"Oh, yeah. I guess. I still don't have a fucking clue what I really want to do, but in two months I'll be deemed educated enough to deal with whatever the hell it is." I spent the last four years studying sociology and psychology. When the time came to declare a major, I looked at what I'd studied, and for some reason thought back on my summers spent as a camp counsellor, and declared a major in Child Psychology. The idea of working with children, teens in particular, appealed to me, but I still wasn't sure in what capacity. It was something my parents were constantly on me about.

My dad was a surgeon, my mom a lawyer. Both pushy and insistent, but they always had my back. Had I said I wanted to flip burgers for the rest of my days, they would have fully accepted that, if it was really what I wanted and it made me happy. I knew they were just pushing for answers because they wanted me to really consider it and figure out what mattered most to me. Look at the bigger picture and all that shit. Problem was my vision was a little blurry.

"What about you? Gonna write the next great American novel?"

"Not fucking likely, but I'll be more than happy pulverizing the dreams of future would-be-writers," Bella said, as I lowered myself next to her.

"So are we talking literary agent or Lit professor?"

She snickered and glanced my way. "Professor. I like the idea of imparting wisdom…or my opinion at the very least."

"You know you'll probably have to lose the safety pins and concert tees, right?"

"What, grow up and leave Never-Neverland?" she snarked. Bella always had this carefree kind of way about her. Certain aspects of her were very much child-like, but she was highly intelligent and quick thinking. I used to think that adulthood and growing up would pose a problem for her, change her and take away that playful side of her, a side I very much admired. But that hadn't been the case. As she aged and grew into who she was, she seemed to learn to compartmentalize those parts of herself, reserving her immaturity for her friends alone.

At work—she was a TA—she tucked that side away and went full-on professional, even in cut offs and flannel, she seemed to pull it off.

"Oh, speaking of growing up, guess who I ran into last week?" I dug my hand into damp sand, scooped up a handful, patted it into ball, and chucked it out into the dark water as I spoke. I didn't wait for an answer. "Jessica Stanley."

"Miss fifteen-point-plan?" Bella said with a chuckle.

"One and the same." I lobbed another sand ball out in front of me and it hit the water with a slopping sound.

Bella wiggled her toes in the sand. "So she should be well on her way. She must be rounding point ten by now, at least."

"Oh, she's well on her way all right. To her due date."

"What?" she gasped and turned her head my way.

"Yeah, she's all round and pregnant," I said, a wicked grin hitching the corners of my mouth.

"Married?"

"Nope."

Bella burst out laughing and fell back into the sand. Hearing a former classmate was with child wasn't funny per se, however hearing that Jessica was was something of another matter. Jessica was the president of the chess club, a member of the Latin Club, and the founder of Purity Now.

Purity Now was a preachy little group of students hell bent on safeguarding their virginity until marriage. Jessica was infamous in her crusade to save the hymen. She was single-handedly going to bring the virgin back from the brink of extinction. Every time she saw fellow classmates canoodling in the halls she'd launch into a desperate plea to do what was right and good, and what God intended.

So seeing Jessica huffing around the mall, rubbing her swollen belly was kind of like a gift from the gods of comedic sarcasm.

Practice safe sex boys and girls, or you'll end up like the good virgin Jessica.

"That's kind of fucking priceless," Bella said and then let out a contented sigh.

I leaned back against my elbows and looked up at the stars. They all seemed so bright and so clear to me. The sound of a lighter flicking caught my attention and I turned back to Bella. She had a joint pressed between her lips. She pulled in a lungful of smoke and handed it to me. A thick mist of grey poured from her mouth as she exhaled, and once again I found myself fixed on her pink lips.

"How come you and I never got together?" She shocked me with her question.

I inhaled the smoke and let it settle deep in my lungs, holding it there while I thought of a reasonable answer to her question. I wasn't going to deny for a second that I'd thought about it. Many times over, I'd thought about it. Thoughts of Bella and I took root the first time she kissed me so many years ago. But why had I never acted on it?

"Fair question, Miss Swan. It wasn't for a lack of trying. I do believe you were in mid-grind when my sister yacked right next to the couch we were making out on."

"Siblings are the worst kind of cockblocker," she said, rolling her eyes. "You know I caught shit from Em for a week after he found us at that party."

Smoke coiled around us, and I felt an easy grin spread across my face. For what felt like hours, we talked, really talked. We saw each other at least once a week and talked all the time, but it was always superficial "Hey, how's it going?" type stuff; nothing with any substance or give a shit to it.

"Oh, God, do you remember Jake?" she asked with a giggle.

Jacob Black was the long hair German Shepherd (not really) that followed Bella around for a year. He was obsessed with her and took every opportunity to piss on what he thought was his. For a human he was insanely loyal, insane being the operative word. He stood by while she kissed Mike Newton in an attempt to prove a theory. Her theory being that Mike was gay. As a representative of the male population who had in fact made out with the lovely Miss Swan, I can indubitably say that she could give any straight man wood. Mike Newton was not a straight man.

I digress.

He tagged along on shopping trips with the girls—invitation be damned. He called her twice a day professing his undying love. He even made numerous mixed tapes filled with creepy love songs, but the final straw, the one that resulted in a restraining order happened on Bella's eighteenth birthday. Jake had somehow crawled through her bedroom window—quite the feat considering it was on the second floor of the house. He'd crept into her room, ducked into her closest—like the super creepy fucker he was—and waited for her to fall asleep. Bella woke to the sight of Jacob Black jerking off in the corner of her bedroom.

"He got picked up in a women's clothing store last week. I guess sniffing the merchandise kind of freaked out the store clerk. She called the police," Bella said, a weird grimace on her face.

"Make the news?" My eyebrows shot up in question.

She rubbed her hands on her jean clad thighs, her shoulders shaking with silent laughter. "Yup." She clucked her tongue and stilled her hands.

"Always knew he would turn up on the front page, and I knew it would be for something absolutely creeptastic."

"My dad said they found him by a display of silk scarves. He was touching them and mumbling something to himself."

The picture was too much for me, and I buried my face in my hands and laughed until my sides hurt. "Did he…did he ask about you?" I stuttered between chortles.

Bella whacked my shoulder causing me to fall sideways into the sand. It only made me laugh harder.

"Help me up, Cullen," she demanded, jutting her arms out in front of her waiting for me to take her hands and pull her up.

I pulled her to her feet and we brushed the sand off our asses before moving toward the cabin.

"I swear to fuck if Emmett and Rose are in the living room again…" Bella shook her head and looked down at her bare feet. "I can't handle seeing his 'O' face again."

"It's not exactly pleasant knowing my little sister even has a sex life, but at least she isn't an exhibitionist." I was forever thankful that the risk of walking in on my baby sister was slim to nil.

Hesitantly, Bella opened the cabin door and poked her head inside. "All clear," she whispered over her shoulder. She grabbed my hand and pulled me through the door. She crept through the cabin, tip-toeing as if the slightest sound might trigger a reaction. She stopped in front of Em and Rosalie's door, placed her ear against the dark wood and listened with her finger over her mouth, reminding me to keep the fuck quiet.

She tipped her head back toward me, still gripping my head. "No nasty sex sounds. I think we're safe." She winked and kept moving. Slow, stealth, and careful, we inched toward the stairs in the dark.

We'd insisted the two couples take the rooms on the main floor, so neither one of us would have to endure the rhythmic thumping of a headboard. At the top of the stairs, we stopped and turned to each other.

"What do you want for breakfast?" she asked.

"Huh?"

"Breakfast, three meals a day…you know? I'm cooking," she explained.

"Oh, well then, French toast," I said with a smile. Bella made the best French toast I'd ever eaten. Half the world's problems could be solved with her crispy, buttery toast. I was sure of it.

French toast for all! I thought, picturing the planet covered in maple syrup. My very next thought was that must have been some dope weed.

Suddenly, she leaned forward, pushed up on her toes, and placed her lips to mine. The same freak auto-pilot setting that always kicked in when she kissed me took me over, and my hands found her hips. I walked her to the wall and she leaned back against it. When her tongue touched mine, my whole body hummed and again I pondered about the wonder weed we'd smoked.

She clutched at my shirt and drew me in closer. She smelled like campfire, bud, and something a little sweeter. A soft whimper slipped past her lips and she pushed off the wall, her hands splayed across my chest.

"Hmm, yup," she said, licking her lips and patting the centre of my chest with her little hand. She turned toward the door of her room, opened it, glanced over her shoulder once and disappeared inside. The door shut behind her and she left me standing alone in a dark hallway.

For a moment I stood still, gap mouthed, wondering what the fuck just happened. I scratched my head and adjusted my button fly, then made my way to my room.

I drifted off to sleep replaying that odd little moment, adding it to the others.

~O_o~

The smell of that treaty binding toast woke me from a very strange Max Headroom type dream. I hated that show and never really understood the basis of its appeal. After showering the remainder of last night's sand off me, I got dressed and made my way down stairs to the kitchen. Rose was perched on the countertop, and Bella was standing between her legs feeding her a strip of bacon. Bella still had her PJs on—plaid boxer shorts and a long-sleeved green shirt.

"Morning," she said, turning her back to Rose but remaining stationed between her knees. Her eyes dropped to the ground and a creamy, pink blush swept over her cheeks.

Hold the fucking phone! She's blushing? She doesn't blush. She's Bella; she rides my lap and then offers me a Coke the next day like nothing happened.

Curious, I walked over to her, effectively trapping her between Rose and me, and picked up a warm, crispy piece of bacon. "Sleep all right?" I said, and then took a bite.

"Like a baby," she murmured, watching my mouth, her blush growing.

I let my eyes roam down and noticed that the gentle pink that lit up her face also covered her neck. How far does that blush go?

"You?" she asked, leaning back against Rose, who was oddly silent.

"Max Headroom freaks me out," I answered, stepping closer and watching as the pink intensified.

"What?" Bella asked, her head cocked slightly.

"Weird dream." I took a half a step forward and offered her the other half of the bacon, bringing it to her mouth. She took it, her bottom lip brushing my thumb. Her eyes fluttered closed and that beautiful, intriguing blush kicked into a bright, bold red.

I stepped away with a smirk firmly stitched on my face. That was when I noticed how quiet the room had become. I turned away from Bella and met three pairs of eyes, all giving me the same "What in the blue fuck was that?" kind of look. I just shrugged, filled my plate, and took a seat at the table.

Alice chimed in first, breaking the awkward as hell silence. "Well, thanks for that little weirdo moment. Now what's the plan for the day?"

"Sun, sand, and wine coolers," Rose said, slipping off the counter and landing on her feet.

I listened to them yammer on about the oddly warm weather we'd been graced with and tried to concentrate on the food on my plate. My shoulders dropped forward, and I curled over my breakfast, deliberately avoiding the gaze of my friends. Within moments the kitchen cleared out, and I gladly took on the task of cleaning up.

"I thought you guys were set to hook up after that Pearl Jam concert, but it never happened."

The frying pan I'd been washing hit the sink with a thud and warm soapy water sloshed over the sides. I turned to look at the stoner-ninja standing a few feet behind me with a smug as hell grin on his face.

"You got somethin'…" Jasper said, gesturing to my now wet shirt.

I tossed a dry dish towel at him; fucker could help with the dishes. "What are you going on about, hippie?" I played dumb, but I knew what he was talking about.

"Emmett's the clueless one here. Dumb isn't your colour, dude. Doesn't suit you."

Well, fuck him and his hippie wisdom!

Jasper stood next to me drying silverware, looking out the window at the beach. "There's this thing…like a pull between you two. Em's in denial 'cuz, ya know, his baby sister. But everyone feels it." He turned to look at me.

It's always been there, and I hated it. I hated looking at my little sister's friend like she was something to eat. From the first time she molested me on my couch, tasting like Jell-O, it's been there. Last night when she left me with a throbbing hard on, it was most certainly there.

"Are you waiting on some kind of divine sign, dude?" Jasper asked, putting the plates away. I didn't answer, and he kept up his far-too-perceptive-for-a-stoner commentary. "Spontaneous combustion divine enough?"

I side-eyed him, unsure of what the hell he meant by that.

"Wow, maybe oblivious is your shade," he said, throwing the damp towel down on the counter. "That girl looks like a cat in heat whenever you're around. You can't tell me you don't see it."

I admitted I that noticed the occasional thigh clench and lip biting, but really didn't think it had much to do with me, more the booze or drugs consumed. I started rifling through every memory of her I could pull up and looked at them with different eyes. Every time she grazed my arm, laughed at a joke—lame or otherwise—or stole my fucking Pepsi right out of my grip. It all looked strange now. Like each image had been pulled into sharper focus, the blur slowly fading from the edges. I thought about last night and the unrestrained way she'd kissed me. As if she was searching for something in my kiss.

"I guess—" I turned to face Jazz, and found he had evaporated like a puff of smoke in the early morning air. I was standing in the kitchen alone. "Moves like a fucking ninja, dude," I whispered to myself, shaking my head.

~O_o~

I spent the afternoon watching Bella, really watching her, and wondering what it would be like to kiss her and have it mean something. Her mouth always felt good on mine, her body soft and warm, and her easy, humble curves seemed to fit so perfectly to my body. But would it be different to hold her hips in my hands like I fucking owned them? Would she taste different if I laid claim to her? More importantly, would her brother break my ass into a million little pieces if I tried?

"It's fucking cold out here," Alice complained. The morning's warmth slowly slid away throughout the day. The air had grown crisp since the sun tucked itself away for the night. "Let's go inside."

Mouth plied full of soft, white marshmallows, Jasper said, "But we can't make s'mores inside." His face was heavy with disappointment. The man had been going on about "the gooey goodness" all damn day long.

Emmett clapped him on the back as he walked past. "No worries, dude. I'll kick up a fire just for you." Emmett went directly to the fireplace and began to work on building a decent flame.

Rose collapsed on the couch, wine cooler firmly in her grip. She pulled her feet up underneath her, and then motioned for Jazz to toss her a marshmallow at her. "Hit me," she said, hand ready to catch the smooshy cube.

Bella and Alice took up the old, might-have-been-beige-at-one-point loveseat, pulling a checkered blanket over their legs. Tequila Rose surfed between them pinking their cheeks and making their smiles come easy.

I turned on the stereo to the only friggin station we could get out here, and Puff Daddy's tribute to his notorious friend crackled through the airwaves. Emmett took on Puff's lines, meaning to sound soulful but landed on strangled puppy instead. Bella heaved a pillow his way and reminded him that his talents did not in fact include singing, rapping, or yodeling for that matter.

"Okay, ladies and penises, deep dark secrets time," Jazz said, giving me the fucking side-eye. "Don't hold back. I'm far too fucking gone to remember this shit in the morning." He placed his giant bong on the floor next to him and gave it an affectionate pat before sitting up.

"I used to make my G.I. Joes bang," Emmett offered. "No gays in the military, pfft."

"You got issues," I said, pointing at Emmett.

The girls broke out into drunken chortles and Jazz just stared at his friend, his brows knit tight, his lips in a worried line. "I'm looking for blackmail-type secrets. Shit no one in this room knows." He laced his fingers together and pushed outward, causing his knuckles to pop and crunch.

"Tall order, hippie," I said, pointing out that half the room was related in some way.

"I'm sure Ali's fashionable closet is packed with skeletons you've never met." Jasper's gaze drifted across the room to his tiny girlfriend.

"You first," Alice prompted, glaring at Jasper with glossy eyes.

"Fair enough. When I was fourteen my mom got into a car accident, hurt herself pretty good. She spent months teaching her legs to move properly again. She was on a lot of pain killers at the time, heavy shit. The kid next door was a drug addict, something I didn't understand then. I just knew he liked to get high. Anyway he came around one night, saying he'd seen my mom with her crutches, and figured she must be on some "good shit" as he put it." Jazz inhaled slowly, like he was gearing up for something strenuous.

"I sold him a handful of pills I couldn't even name," he continued. "He snorted them, from what I heard. But those pills weren't meant to be crushed or ingested that way. Papers said he had a massive seizure. Brain damage," Jasper whispered the last words, his eyes lids slipped shut, and he exhaled in a burst.

"Holy fuck," Rose breathed.

"I was too scared to say anything, to tell anyone that'd I'd given him those pills." A single tear fell from the corner of his eye and Alice rose from her spot to sit on his lap. She whispered soft words in his ear and kissed his hair.

"You were fourteen, Jazz. A kid. You couldn't have known," Emmett offered.

"I let my sister's boyfriend suck on my tits," Rose said. Emmett almost choked on his beer, giving her a shocked look. "What? She's a bitch and totally deserved it. Victoria thinks she can treat people like doormats and it's all okay." She shook her head and crammed another marshmallow in her mouth. "Riley was cute and sweet and always ready to bend for her. Anyway, she stormed out of the room, ignoring Riley in favour of talking to Jane about her plans for the weekend. He was trying to tell her something important, but she kept waving him off." Her hand swiped the air in front of her.

"He spilled his heart out to me about his little sister. She was losing her eye sight and they were hoping surgery would stave off the progress. He was crying, and I was comforting, and then there was a shirt being pulled up and bra cups being pulled down. And…yeah."

"Vicky didn't catch you?" Bella asked before tipping the bottle to her lips.

"Nope, my conscience caught up with me and I pushed him out the door before anything else happened."

The room was silent for a moment or two before Alice piped up. "Fuck it, no one will remember this tomorrow," she said, inhaling a little bravery. "I got caught masturbating by my dad when I was seventeen."

I was torn between plugging my ears and wishing it all away or laughing hysterically. Laughter won out.

"You've never told me that," Bella said, sounding like she was holding back on the laughter herself.

"When your father walks in on you naked and fingering yourself on your hot pink bedspread, you don't talk about it. You bury that shit in a dark corner."

My laughter cut off suddenly, and I prayed that the booze I'd consumed this evening was enough to take away that picture. Forever.

"I read your diary," Emmett announced in a cautious voice, turning his shameful eyes toward his sister.

Bella's head snapped up and the look in her eyes was something close to panic. It immediately made me wonder what she'd written in that book. "When?"

"Um…like a year ago," he admitted.

Emmett received a good scolding from both Rose and Alice. Bella remained quiet, pensive. I'd come to learn that women are most dangerous when they're quiet. Her calm was freaking me the fuck out. And Emmett kept giving me weird looks, making me paranoid. Of course that might have been the fat dubbie I'd smoked earlier.

"So it doesn't matter what I say, really…someone here already knows it all. Edward, I guess we can move on to you." I could hear the clip of annoyance in Bella's voice, and for that, I wanted to slap Emmett.

By no means was I a know-it-all when it came to women, but I knew better than to read a fucking journal. The very reason they wrote that shit in there was because they didn't feel safe telling anyone else.

Everyone had pretty much poured out their soul and freed some old, not so forgotten, demon by that point, so I figured, fuck it. Balls to the wall. "I got Tanya pregnant. That's why she left me."

Jaws dropped, eye balls bugged out, and the collective gasp was like the shot heard around the world.

"I have a fucking niece or nephew!" Alice barked.

"Calm yourself, Fun Size. She didn't have it." I wasn't sure if the utter disappointment in my tone was as obvious as it felt, but either way, I couldn't lift my face to them.

"What? Why…why didn't she keep it?" Alice's voice turned quiet and slow, and I felt her fingers brush my arm.

"She wanted to, but…"

"You made her—" Rose started.

"No! I would never. Fuck, do you know me at all?" I cast my eyes around the room, finally landing on Bella's beautiful face. Understanding bloomed in a blink and her features grew soft.

"She miscarried?" Bella asked in a whisper.

"Yes."

"I'm sorry, Edward." Alice squeezed my arm.

I shifted, uncomfortable with the hard rocking chair seat and uncomfortable with the silence of the people around me. "She said she couldn't handle being with me after that. That it was all a mistake. Still don't know what she meant by that."

"So we should celebrate," Bella half-shouted.

"What?" Rose turned to her, baffled.

"I'm entering year three of my college education with my hymen still firmly intact," she said in an overly dramatic voice. Her eyes were fixed on my face, and though she'd been drinking and her face was booze flushed, I took notice of the red stain that crept across her face and down her neck.

"Okay, I knew that a year ago, but still? Really?" Emmett said, incredulous.

"Zip it, hosebag!" Bella grumbled at Emmett, her eyes never leaving mine. "It's why James dropped me. I wouldn't put out, so he moved on."

"Atta girl." Emmett just couldn't seem to keep his mouth shut.

"Shut up, fuck-face!" she shouted at her clueless brother.

"You told me he was a douchebag?" Alice chimed in.

Bella took a quick sip from the bottle she was still holding. "He was a douchebag."

"Okay, but I distinctly heard an 'O' coming from your room on more than one occasion." Alice sat in front of Jasper, who was oddly quiet, with her knees drawn to her chest.

"I said I was virgin, not that I was prude. The boy got off just fine."

What about you? I thought, watching her pinky finger trace the mouth of the bottle.

And just like that, the heavy weight in the air lifted. Bella had tossed herself under the bus for me. I owed this chick in a big bad way.

Jasper and Alice were the first to shuffle off to bed. Rose offered us both a smile as she led her clueless man-child from the room by his hand. Again the room was silent, save the radio, but all traces of weird left a while ago.

"Do you miss her?" Bella asked, playing with the fabric of the blanket that was draped over her lap.

"No. I miss what we could have had, but not her. She was sweet and kind, but we didn't fit. Not really."

"Maybe she felt that and that's why she bailed."

"Could be," I conceded.

She held out the nearly empty bottle to me and waved me toward her. I sat down next to her, took a long pull and winced as it slid down my throat. Tequila was not a favourite of mine.

When I handed the bottle back, she turned to the side and plunked it down on the coffee table. The Cowboy Junkies' dirty twang slipped through the room. Bella's voice sang softly next to me.

"Misguided angel hangin' over me

Heart like a Gabriel, pure white as ivory

Soul like a Lucifer, black and cold like a piece of lead

Misguided angel, love you 'til I'm dead"

"Can I ask, I mean…you don't have to say but…?" I stammered. I wanted to know why she'd never been with anyone. She was gorgeous and so fucking smart. I couldn't wrap my head around someone not wanting her, so obviously the choice was purely hers alone. She rejected them, not the other way around.

"Why am I still carrying around my V-card?"

I nodded.

"Just…waiting," she said in a hush.

"For who?" A tight knot formed in my throat and my stomach clenched.

Her eyes scanned my face. There was no embarrassment in them, no worry. She climbed up on to my lap, and my hands moved to her hips like magnets pulled to metal. Just like the first time, she brought her mouth to mine and laid soft kisses on my lips. Her mouth held the burnt, sweet taste of the tequila she'd been knocking back most of the night. I couldn't get enough of it. Her tongue moved with mine, and the wet, warm slide of it made me hard.

She moaned when she felt me grow beneath her. Her hips rolled in small circles and our kiss took on a faster pace. I could feel her heat, her want. It was jean-clad and rubbing all over my dick, making me grunt. She dropped on me with heavy, panting breaths and clutched the back of the couch.

I couldn't help pushing into her, again and again. Her hips felt good in my hands. I wanted her body pressed against mine. Suddenly her breath caught and I felt her body tense.

"That's it, sweet girl," I encouraged.

Her head lolled back and her teeth sunk into her bottom lip, effectively stifling her cry. I watched in awe as she came down, panting and licking her lips.

"Please tell me that wasn't your first non-self-induced orgasm? Because that would be a damn shame."

She shook her head no. She slouched forward and rested her head on my shoulder. "Stand up," I whispered in her ear.

"Mm?"

"Dry humping on a couch is one thing, but I'm not stealing away your virginity on an old, musty loveseat." I kissed the tip of her nose and moved to stand.

The door to my bedroom shut with a creak and a click. I flipped on the lights and led her to my bed. "You were waiting for me," I said. I didn't need her to spell it out. After Jasper's little chat this afternoon, I connected the dots pretty easily. She'd fallen in love with me.

Bella sat on the edge of the bed. Her face turned to mine. "Yeah. Took ya long enough," she joked. I took her face in my hands, and my thumbs traced her cheekbones. Her face was still flushed from her orgasm, and her lips were still swollen. She looked lovely.

"I'm sorry," I said, bringing my mouth to her throat.

I took my time removing her clothes, revealing her body to me slowly. Her skin was so smooth and creamy. I wanted to taste every fucking inch of her. Her tits, God help me, were perfect little orbs and to stay buried between them was some sort of heaven.

She was bare, and stretched out before me, waiting for me to claim her. I sat between her parted knees. She stared unabashedly at my erection. "Are you sure?"

Bella reached out and pulled me down on her.

Alrighty, that answers that.

"I know it might hurt. It's okay," she said, soothing me with her words and her tiny, warm hands.

I pushed into her and whispered, "I'm sorry it took me so long to get here, love."

End notes:

Special thanks to my beta who helped me clean this shit up in time to enter.

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