A/N: So I haven't written anything other than, well, the story so far, and I wanted to take a moment to thank those of you who have read and/or reviewed so far. This story is still new, and I'm working diligently and passionately to make it great and get posts up as quickly as possible. I welcome any and all feedback you may have, and I appreciate every word and suggestion.

Perhaps a question is in order: I have an urge to write the point of view of the "voice from beside the fire" (in case you haven't guessed who that may be yet) and wanted to know if that would be something you may enjoy reading. Let me know in the reviews for the chapter!

Thanks again, and enjoy!

~S

Chapter 5:
Secrets for a Buck

I wrote more postcards than hooks.
I read more maps than books.
Feel like every chance to leave
is another chance I should have took.
Every minute is a mile.
I've never felt so hollow.
I'm an old abandoned church with broken pews
and empty aisles.
My secrets for a buck.
Watch me as I cut myself wide open
on this stage. Yes, I am paid
to spill my guts.

"I Will Play My Game Beneath the Spin Light" by Brand New

After a day spent among tables and flowers and sweat, I decided to head back to my room for a much needed shower and at least a start on getting some thoughts down. I found my mind jumping back to its state early this morning, fraught with messages I didn't yet have the mindset to begin to decode. And images of her, the girl with the chestnut curls. I had only caught a glimpse of her walking out of the door, but for some reason it was all my mind kept repeating, over and over, like some psychedelic sequence played on a screen behind Les Claypool as he banged on his bass guitar. I wasn't one to let things go either, so it was going to have to become worse before it got better.

Walking out of my room, I knocked on Jasper's door. "Jazz?" I said before opening the door.

"Yeah, eight. I'll see you there," he finished, tossing his phone onto the bed.

"Who was that?"

"Alice," he glared.

"Yeah, sorry again about that," I said, not entirely sorry but wanting to patch things up before he made the rest of my visit miserable. Jasper had a knack for making you feel-well, however he wanted you to feel. Just something about him.

"We're heading to Rosalie's later if you want to come. She's renting this amazing place on the edge of the preserve looking down onto the beach. It's sick, bro."

"Why? What happened to the Hale House?" Rosalie's parents had owned and run Forks' only Bed and Breakfast out of an old mansion that lay deep in the woods off a path denoted by a small, yet quaint, sign. It was breathtaking, romantic even, with tall, white columns that framed a large porch that wrapped around the perimeter of the house.

Rosalie had graduated between Jasper and I and had decided to move back to Forks a year into college after her mom became very ill. They never came out and said exactly what it was, but a late-stage cancer was probably the safest guess. She was the only child and her Dad was a mess. I gave her a lot of credit. She was determined and strong, but family always came first to her. I learned this after dating her for a month before graduation. It was hot, she was cool, yet we both knew it wasn't meant to last.

"Her Dad just couldn't keep up with it anymore, so they sold it last winter. He moved north to be closer to his sister, but Rose wanted to stay in Forks."

Rose was a strong flame; hard, but not immune to emotion.

"I'm leaving to pick up Alice at nine, unless you wanna drive. I mean, you kinda owe me from the little stunt you put me through this morning," he glared with a knowing smirk. Jasper loved his cars like he loved his women: sleek, hot, and way out of his price range.

"Yeah, sure. Be ready in thirty," I replied, turning away and heading back to my room to find something to wear that I didn't mind having cheap beer spilled over. I usually wasn't up for "high school" parties, but it had been a long week and I needed some release. The bars in Forks were practically nonexistent, and I didn't feel like making the forty minute drive to Port Angeles alone, so this was really my only option.

A half hour later I met Jasper downstairs and we headed out to the driveway. Getting in the car, I asked Jasper for directions to Alice house and was surprised when he told me she lived down the street. Literally.

"Shit, couldn't she have just walked, Jazz?" I hissed.

"Umm, she would've but her feet are in extreme PAIN for some STRANGE reason..." he growled back, causing me to shut up and stare blankly ahead. Great.

Before too long the door to the house opened and a sprite-like figure skipped down the front stairs with the weightlessness of those little styrofoam packing pieces that are so annoying yet incredibly well-designed for their purpose. I wonder if Jasper felt the same about Alice...

"Hi Edward, I'm Alice and I totally forgive you for the tacks and I really appreciate the ride. And wow, can I just say how amazingly awesome your car is, this seat is like, whoa, so comfortable and, omg is that a stick shift?" she beamed, sending me back on my prior interpretation of her. Now she was more like one of those hyperactive cartoon bunnies that ran from field to field, twitching little pink noses, so incredibly cute and cuddly, yet still immensely annoying.

"Yeah, thanks. And sorry again for that," I replied, glancing to Jasper to see his eyes perk up in the "yeah, she's totally hot and you can't have her" way he did with every new girlfriend. His eyes sparkled thought, hinting that maybe, just maybe, things with Alice were going to be different. I smirked, turning my eyes back to the road to start the drive to Rose's.

After driving for about ten minutes we began seeing red plastic plates tied to trees every few yards, suddenly turning into the woods and off the main road-a sort of road map to Rose's cabin.

"Rose, such a kook," Jasper smiled, squinting through the darkness at the trees lit by headlights ahead. "Yeah, that's it. Follow them down to the left."

Before too long lights began to flicker ahead and the stacks of cars alerted that we had reached our destination. Closing the doors behind us, Jasper and Alice skipped ahead, and I couldn't help but notice how protectively she took his hand in hers. It was an odd sight, yet for some reason didn't incite bile to rise up my throat. Rather, it warmed me for some strange reason, and it was this reason that made me realize how truly separated I had become from human contact and emotion. I was alone, in every sense of the word.

Walking into the house, my senses were met with what I typically associated with high school parties: loud music, warm keg beer, and sexual tension you could cut with a knife. I should hate this type of environment, given my early leap into "adulthood," but I relished in it. It was this type of social shit fest that got me to where I was in the first place. The blog-turned-book I wrote was practically teeming with teenage lust and haphazard hookups, commentary by a then socially awkward Edward Cullen who meant his musings to be found more as satire than a "captivating glimpse into the youth of America," as the NY Times review stamped on the cover of my book had so gracefully stated.

Before I let myself get too wound up, I made my way to the kitchen, knowing Rose would have something stronger than Natty Light hidden in her cabinet. Turning the corner from the living room, I caught sight of two girls-no, women, one blonde, one brunette-gesturing wildly from behind the kitchen island.

"Not knowing quite where to begin," I said loudly in their direction.

"But loving every minute! Oh, Eddie I'm so glad you came!" she squealed, circling around the island and bringing me into a huge Hale hug.

"That's what she said!" roared a voice from the crowd. Fucking high schoolers.

"Hey Rose. It's good to be home," I replied, relishing in the truth of my words.

"Ok, you guys speak in code or something?" came a voice from beside Rosalie. Opening my eyes from our embrace, that same stirring curiosity that filled me upon seeing the retreating brunette at my house two days ago returned.

"Edward, this is Jessica. Jessica, the elusive Edward Cullen," Rose continued, gesturing toward the girl beside her. "And no, it's not code. See little Eddie here is a writer, and I like to remind him of that every time I get the chance, which isn't often."

"Thanks Rose," I replied.

"I still don't get it though," Jessica continued, taking a sip of pink liquid from the martini glass in her hand. Rose was a classy bitch. She could shake up one hell of a martini that rivaled the best bar on Michigan Avenue, even from a rented cabin in the middle of the woods.

"It's a quote from his book. It's like our bat signal or something," Rose explained. "You look like you could use a drink." With that she turned from us and began pulling various bottles out from beneath the island.

"So, you write books?" she continued, taking yet another sip while eyeing me over the rim of her glass. I tried to look at her seriously, but her two-inch, press-on nails were getting in the way.

"Yep," was all I could muster. The tingle I had felt thinking she may have been Chief Swan's daughter was beginning to fade.

"Well, would I know any of your books? Like, are they at Barnes and Noble or something?" With each word from her mouth her IQ dropped exponentially.

"Umm, yeah. You can find it right next to Gullible's Travels and 27,000 Leagues Under the Sea," I responded. God I was a dick.

"Yeah, ok. I think I read that one then. Funny thing seeing you here."

"That's for sure." What the FUCK was I doing at a high school party? Yet before she could get another word in, Rose was back.

"Don't ask, just drink," she said, handing me a large glass filled with an amber colored concoction. I obeyed and downed the glass in three large gulps, welcoming the warmth that began to radiate from my throat and outward toward my limbs. Suddenly, a loud crash was heard in the living room, causing Rosalie to quickly leave the kitchen and giving me an easy escape from Jessica.

I made my way passed the living room and out onto the large deck that stretched the length of the house. Tiki torches lined the edges, illuminating a path down a short hill that led to a massive fire pit that lined the edge of the forest. As I made my way down and away from the din of the party, I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket and quickly removed it to find a text from Em. I opened the text to find a picture of Emmett's face sandwiched between two rather perky boobs, accompanied by the words "Having the breast time!" causing me to chuckle and run a hand through my windswept hair.

Sitting down beside the fire, I checked my email one last time before placing my phone into my pocket and warming my hands by the fire. Even though it was the end of summer, the night brought with it a chill. After a few moments of silence, I became aware of someone else nearby.

"Former boyfriend to Rose, or friend of Ben's..." came a small, yet pronounced voice from a bench that was just beyond the reach of the fire light.

"Umm, boyfriend, actually, but from a long time ago," I responded, eyes scanning the place from where the voice came.

"Well," the voice continued, but growing louder and closer this time. "Good luck with that," she finished, approaching me and placing a hand on my shoulder, sending a surge of electricity through my body. Turning, I saw her retreating figure, the same chestnut curls that walked out the door to my house two days ago, and the curious intensity within my grew. Before I could snap out of my gaze, she was gone, already back inside the house and, potentially, out of my life forever. I stood up quickly, eyes fixed on where I last saw her, and headed determinedly up the sloped path. Climbing the steps to the deck, I peered into the opened french doors to the living room just in time to see her walk out of the front door. I pushed my way through the crowd as if anchored by her, this unfamiliar pull that drew me after this stranger I desperately needed to see more of.

"Whoa, hey Edward, I've been looking for you. Listen, Alice needs to be home soon so are you ready to go?"

"Yeah, uh, sure Jazz. Meet me by the car in five minutes," I said, not meeting his eyes. After a few moments, the electric feeling began to fade and I knew she was gone. I found Rosalie back in the kitchen, thankfully not with Jessica.

"Hey, Rose. Jasper has to take his girlfriend home so I've gotta run. Thanks so much for the drinks and everything. The house looks great."

"It's a rental cabin, Edward. But thanks. It was really good seeing you," she replied.

"Yeah, you too."

"You going to be around for awhile, or are you jetting off in two days like the usual?"

"No, I'll be here until at least the end of the week. Hoping to get some work done while I'm here, so," I said.

"Well don't be a stranger. Stop by on Wednesday if you want. We can get lunch or something."

"Sounds good. I'll be in touch," I replied, giving her a faint kiss on the cheek before heading out to the car.

Jasper and Alice were already in there, about to christen the backseat. A little touch of the panic button on my key fob would solve that though.