A/N: This was an entry in the Make Me Laugh Contest, and it won 2nd place in both Judges' and Public vote! Thanks to everyone who read, reviewed, and voted.

Kate and Jada were kind enough to pre-read. I honestly cannot thank you both enough. xoxoxo


"What time is it?"



"3:56. And a half."

For the past two weeks this has become our routine. My bedroom window has the most spectacular view of what I'd like to describe – what can only be described – as Nirvana.

I could go on and give my view of what's about to occur in three-and-a-half minutes a descriptor that might come off as sounding more creatively appealing, but why go and add A1 sauce to filet mignon? Filet mignon, if cooked properly, doesn't need a supermarket condiment to make it better.

The cut of the meat, my friend, speaks for itself. To add anything more would be insulting. Excellence doesn't need a garnish. See what I'm saying?

Most might assume my current situation to be rather unfortunate, but to have an almost daily dose of sweet perfection located a mere hundred feet from me I'd say I am one blessed individual.

"Now?" Emmett asks. He's hunched over, elbows on knees, hands dangling down, mouth dropped open just waiting. Dude's serious about this.

But then so am I as it's the utmost highlight of my day.

"3:58," I tell him.

Jasper's got a hand on the backs of each of our chairs. "You've got to get more seating in here."

"You get Emmett's tomorrow. No need to raise suspicion with the Doctor."

Emmett says, eyes still zeroed in on the sweet spot, "What's the Doctor making for dinner tonight? If it's enchiladas I'm staying."

"So am I," adds Jasper.

"Don't know. Doc's taking this confinement crap pretty seriously. You're lucky she lets you two come over at all let alone every day. Just say something about finishing our Physics homework in front of her to soften her up."

"Little gifts," Jasper murmurs. I don't know what the hell he's talking about half the time, but I nod in agreement anyway.

"She still pissed?"

I just shrug, but then I can't help this smirk that comes out of nowhere.

Mom will get over it. She's all about following your heart. "Do what makes you happy, Edward," she tells me. "Act on the things that touch you before the moment disappears. You never know when you'll have the chance again," she always says.

I was only following her advice.

There was this girl and let me say, this girl was prime. Wavy blonde hair that reached the middle of her back. Big blue eyes, like the kind you saw coming from a mile away, and then there was her body.

Her body touched me, so I acted.

I met her at a football game a few months ago. My school versus her school, right? So, she's there with her harem of friends, and totally of my own accord, because I need to talk to this girl with the bright blue eyes and perfect ass so no goading required, I walked up to her and introduced myself.

Hand extended I said, "Hi, I'm Edward Masen and I was wondering if I could get to know you."

I mean, I'm not going to say "let's bang" right off. That topic needs to be delicately broached, and though I had no reservations about our banging potential at the time it's possible that two people would end up not being sexually compatible.

Like, if it had turned out that she got off on torturing puppies or had foul breath, that would've have been a deal breaker for obvious reasons. But I could tell she seemed like a cool kind of girl in addition to her physical attributes.

She shook my hand and said, "I'm Heidi Parker, Edward Masen."

Heidi and I hit it off. Turned out I was correct in my initial assessment of Heidi Parker's coolness, but the sex part? That sort of fizzled after we figured out we were better off friends.

And after her dad busted us going at it one last time – in a public venue.

Judge Parker was a stickler about unlawful things such as breaking into his office, stealing his bottle of Pyrat Cask, and screwing his daughter up against a statue of Grover Cleveland in the quad outside the court.

The Doctor tried to fight the charges, citing that it was the first time I'd ever been in trouble. While that statement was not entirely true seeing as I had been in detention a couple times and had one little three-day suspension, high school antics don't exactly pop up on the legal system's radar so, Doc went for mercy.

Now, this might work for some, but unless you've pissed off a Judge who scrapes together every possible thing he can find against you just because you had sex with his daughter mercy doesn't mean jack. Bastard even went as far back as fifth grade and the whole gum-in-Jessie's-hair incident. That was an accident.


He said I was lucky to get what he'd given me, and sadly, Doc ultimately agreed.

Heidi Parker was sent to a private school somewhere out east. She was no angel either, mind you, but still. Harsh.

Me, on the other hand, I got ninety days house arrest complete with a highly fashionable ankle bracelet and a stain on my record until I turn 18, which is in four months. Scales were not exactly tipped in my favor with this one.

"Dude, it's 4:01," Emmett says. "Where are they? Fuck, man, this is my whole day. This is the only thing that makes up for an hour of Mademoiselle Cope's special verb conjugation tricks and the cafeteria's dried up chicken nuggets."

"Why don't you just pack your lunch?" Jasper asks, and Emmett flips him off. "I'm just saying."

"It's not even about the nuggets, bro," Emmett says, shaking his head.

"Relax, they're coming."

"How do you know?" I swear to god he's going to bust a nut.

"I know. Wait, listen."

My window is wide open, but we have our chairs positioned so you can't really see in. The sun's glare straight into their backyard helps too, because the last thing I need is a parent complaining to my mom that her son's a perv.

"I don't hear anything," Jasper whispers.


And then there it is: the slam of a door; female chatter; an iPod dock being set on a picnic table, and finally…Katy Perry.

Katy. Freaking. Perry.

Her singing about bikinis on top only means one thing: the girls are going big on the trampoline today.


We all get a big ass grin on our face then. Emmett's bobbing his head back and forth, biting his bottom lip and Jasper squeezes my shoulder. I tell them to be quiet, but none of us can really speak coherently as they parade around in oh, thank you god, sports bras and spandex shorts.

Alice climbs up first trailed by Rose and then my latest obsession, Bella Swan.

It's Bella's tramp. She's new and such an excellent addition to Forks High School. Not that I was there to personally welcome her and note how she's become an asset to our student body – being locked up inside my house and all – but this girl is like a flower in winter.

"Waxing poetic about Swan again, Eddie?" Jasper laughs.

"What? No." He does that annoying shit all the time.

"Oh, damn. Look at them go," Emmett says.

"I am," Jasper and I answer.

They're bouncing and jumping and flipping and this scene right here is seriously what dreams are made of. It's like my own personal porno, except she's fully clothed.

Three weeks ago the Swans moved in. The Doctor has yet to invite them over for dinner, after my multiple requests for her to do so, and has declined their invitation since my monitor only allows me to stay within a fifty feet perimeter outside our house. Something about not wanting to give them the wrong impression about us.

Me. She means me.

My argument that meeting me would annihilate any false preconceptions they might have about my predicament since I am a good guy beneath the electronic detainer has, unfortunately, fallen upon deaf ears. I even lowered myself by way of guilt placement saying that Kimmy, my little sister, was being deprived of the teachings of appropriate neighbor courtesies.

No dice.

Instead she welcomed them with a Hillshire Farm cheese basket. I'd say that says loads more about us than my imprisonment.

It also doesn't help that Bella's dad is a cop, and any chance of us getting together with him knowing is probably null. As soon as I am free from the device trussed to my ankle, though, I am going to make myself known to Bella Swan and rock her sexy little world.

"Ohhh," Emmett moans.

"I swear to Christ, dude, if you're getting a hard-on in my room…"

He holds up a hand. "I'm not," he says. "I'm not. It's just that Rosalie is a superb specimen of woman and it's hard to contain emotion."

I know what he means.

"Those girls are dedicated," Jasper says. "All the hours they put in for the squad. I don't think the other cheerleaders take it as seriously - someone needs to recognize that." I side-eye Emmett; he rolls his. "But I do think they'll kick ass at the competition this weekend. Oh! Nice Herkie, Alice."

"You going?" I ask, ignoring Jasper's disturbing knowledge of cheerleading moves. Instead I watch Bella bounce, bounce, then throw back-to-back somersaults. Alice high-fives her. I, mentally, disrobe her for this great achievement.

"Nah. No wheels."

Emmett swings around. "Uh, dude, what about the piece of shit you drove us here in?"

"My mom needs Dame Judy for her Prancercize conference up in Seattle."

"Keep referring to your ride as some old chick and you're sealing the deal of life as a virgin," Emmett says, shaking his head. He turns back around right as the girls start fooling around: the climax to my Porno du Jour.

Emmett and I nod our heads to Rihanna who's singing about where have you been all of my li-i-i-i-ife, totally oblivious to whatever Jasper is ranting about, but then he raises his voice, like, an entire octave.

"Fuck off. I will be getting laid...by Alice," Jasper says.

Not likely since she's been hooking up with Mike Newton for two years, but there's so much conviction in his normally chill voice I have to laugh.

"What, Masen? It's not like you've got the ladies coming over for conjugal visits."

"Yeah, but I'm also not a virgin," I mumble.

"Know what? Fuck you both. You can walk home, Emmett. You didn't have a problem last night when Dame Judy drove your ass to Master Wok for sweet and sour pork."

I swivel around, pissed. "You guys didn't bring me back any? What the fuck is that?"

Jasper gets this arrogant as shit look on his face and stares at Emmett.

"Look," he starts, holding up defensive meat hands, "It was last minute. We smoked after we left here and—"

"What? What the hell else are you doing without me? And why are you looking so smug, Virgin in a Minivan? I offer up my home for your viewing pleasure and this is the thanks I get?"

"Are we just supposed to sit around and wait 'til you're free?"


"Dude, you're locked up for two more months!"


"That's a long fucking time, Edward!"

"It's not that—"

"Shut up!"

Both Emmett and I spin toward Jasper, ready to ream his ass but he's all bug-eyed, staring out the window like someone's just keyed Dame Judy right down her wood-paneled side.

"What?" Emmett says.

Emmett and I look out and, "Shitfuckdown!"

We drop Halo style.

Jasper whispers, "Do you think they know?"

"Yes, they know," I whisper back. "They're looking right up here."

"Shit shit shit."

"Jas, it's gonna be okay." But I wonder if it really will. If they quit jumping on the tramp it's not like I can resort to online crap since Doc went all crazy and set up parental controls on the internet. And I like watching Bella.

"We know you're there!" One of them yells up. Alice, I think. "Jasper your van's out front and we heard you morons."

"Damn. This is not going to go over well," Emmett says. "Think they'll tell?"

"Who cares? Bella's going to think I'm some kind of freak now. Dude, you have to tell her I'm not, all right? It's the least you could do for not bringing back any General Tso for me. You know how much I like General Tso."

"I can't worry about your fake thing with Bella when I have to figure out a way to make sure Rose knows I'm not a freak. I'm this close," he pinches his index finger to his thumb, "to getting with her, man."

"What about me and Alice?"

"There's not much I can do about it from here. You got my back, right?"

"What are you idiots doing on the floor?" My sister, Kimmy, who's a freshman and has decided on taking the path of straight and narrow, is leaning against the door frame, arms crossed, scowl on. "Mom called. She's going to be late and it's your turn to start dinner. And you two have to go home."

"Kimmy, look—"


"Sorry. Kimberly, look outside and tell me what you see."

"No, dickwad. I have homework to do," she says and walks away.

"Thanks, sis. You're swell!" I call after her.

"Least I'm not a criminal," she shouts from the hall.

"Damn." Screw this. I crawl to the opposite side of my room, slowly stand, stretching my neck, and inch my way closer to the window. "Get up. They're gone."

Emmett brushes his hands over his thighs as if we really were just down in the dirt. He and Jasper head for my door.

"We'll see you tomorrow, Ed." It's almost sad how defeated Emmett is right now.

"You're leaving?"

"Kimmy said your mom wants us out. I don't want to piss off the Doctor," Jasper explains. "And if you're cooking tonight that means no enchiladas, so…"

"Yeah, okay."

I follow them downstairs and to the front door. It's all clear, meaning Rose's or Alice's car isn't there but Jasper and Emmett sprint toward the minivan anyway.


"How was your day?" Doc asks as she twirls spaghetti on her fork. "This is delicious," she says.


"Edward burned the garlic bread," Kimmy notes.

"Just yours." To get the point across, and because my sister refused to assist her adoring brother earlier today, I take a massive bite out of my perfectly toasted bread.

"Edward," Mom warns. She looks at Kimmy pointedly, waving her knife. "Don't be rude, Kimmy. Just scrape off the black stuff."

"It's Kimberly," she corrects, digging huge chunks out of her bread. "God, you guys. I'm fourteen, not a little kid so I would really appreciate it if you would both stop referring to me as one. I've been saying this all year but you don't listen. No one in this house ever listens to me."

"We listen, don't we Edward?" Mom says, and I grunt my indifference around a mouthful of spaghetti. "You have a lot of important things to say, sweetheart. Do you have something important you'd like to say now?" Mom sets down her utensils and lays her folded hands onto her lap.

I'm hungry, so I don't— "Ouch, Mom. Why'd you kick me?"

"Your sister would like your attention."

"Okay, but seriously with the pointy shoe abuse? Totally uncalled for, Mother. It's not like Kimmy's going to talk about anything more than kissing her teachers' asses anyway," I say, rubbing my shin.

"It's Kimberly!"

"Edward. Language. Don't yell, Kimmy."

My sister's cheeks flame in two seconds flat, and I start to laugh at the kid.

"Edward spies on the neighbor. Every single day he's up in his room watching her like a creeper. He moans late at night, too."

"Dude. Really?"

"Oh, well, hm." Mom turns to me, very doctorly-like, but I'm glaring at my brat of a sister. "Edward you know that's a perfectly normal thing for a male adolescent such as yourself to do. Everyone is allowed their private time. Now…Kimberly, how about you tell us something that happened at school today?"

"That's it? That's all he gets? I swear this family is the worst," she whines, pushing her chair away from the table with a sad amount of force. As soon as she reaches the hall, she turns and gives me this look, this eerie evil look and then shoots me the finger, and then the other.

I point to her. "Did you see that?" I screech to my mom. "She—Ow! God! Mom! Why do you keep hitting me?" I smooth my hair and rub the back of my head to show Esme Masen, who's a supposed healer of the sick, the pain she's just inflicted.

"What is wrong with you? Her father is a police officer, Edward. Can't you find some other way to get your rocks off besides stalking the neighbor girl?" she hisses.

Who is this woman? "Mom, I—"

She bangs her hand on the table, and I jump. Shit.

Mom clears her throat, and sits quietly for a minute.

I think her deranged episode is over because her face is more peach than pink.

"Look, all I'm saying is that you're already in a heap of trouble. You don't need your sentence extended because you, once again, can't keep your…penis in your pants.

"The Swans seem like very nice, understanding people, but I do not want you to jeopardize anything. Now, I'm sorry for my outburst. I'm not sure what came over me. Oh, and for using that phrase to speak about your genitalia, but…enough is enough. We'll go condom shopping in two months once your sentence is up, because I'm sure it'll be like letting a lion out of a cage."

"Wait. What? No, Mom. Ew."

"In the meantime," she says over my protests, waving her hand toward my crotch, and I want to die. "Do what you need to do. I'll pick up some magazines tomorrow. Just keep your eyes off the Swan girl."

Fucking Kimmy.

Doc picks her plate and glass up from the table. She says, dumping them in the sink, "I need to go talk to your sister, and then I'm off to bed. As usual, there'll be a list of things for you to do tacked to the fridge tomorrow."

Later on, I'm fumbling around in my room, seriously trying to erase tonight's dinner conversation from my brain.

The scars. I can't even explain.

Inside my closet I've set up a nice little bar equipped with a mini fridge, small shelving unit to hold my liquors, and essential tools, but I'm not in the mood for a drink.

My room's dusted and vacuumed – I'm tidy about my belongings . There's shit on TV, and one can only play Xbox for so many hours a day, so many days a week.

Actually, no. Xbox has proven to be a reliable companion.

I'm super hyped up. I need to do something.

I glance out my window.

Absolute discretion is the new name of the game. Jasper, Emmett, and I will from now on need to watch the ladies like a silent movie: window remains closed, visuals only. Maybe I can get one of those pieces of tinted plastic to go cover the glass, because really? Like I'm not going to watch Bella anymore? Girl's Grade A, and I'd be a fool to deprive myself of any more required teenage pastimes than I already am.

Her yard is dark, a few lights on in her house. I wonder what she's doing. I wonder what crap Rose and Alice have said about me. We've all been friends for a while, but out of the blue Em and Jas fell fast and hard for Rose and Alice. It's weird.

You know, I just need to chill and there's really only one thing that will help me relax.

I flop onto my bed, cut off the light, make myself good and comfortable then slide my hand inside my boxers.


Bella Swan.

Bella Swan in a cheerleading uniform shaking pom poms and climbing a pyramid.

Bella jumping on her trampoline in slow motion and it starts to rain.

Condom shopping with Mom.

I can't.

I throw my arm over my forehead and take my hand off my junk. Today's events have been too stressful to get a good fantasy going.

This whole situation sucks. Everyone sucks. Wait. Does Bella?

I'm going to give this another go.


Bella Bella Bella.

She's wearing her uniform. She's in the locker room. It's just me and her and it's all steamy. She takes a ribbon out of her hair. In slow motion she shakes out her hair and walks toward me, peeling off her top. What? No bra? Oh, Bella, you dirty girl.

"I want you, Edward."

"I want you too."

"Edward? Hon, you okay in there? I thought I heard a noise." Doc turns the doorknob.


"Oh! You're taking my advice. Okay, good night, sweetheart. Carry on."

She's so going to pay for my therapy.

My To-Do list reads as follows: clean the bathrooms; mop the kitchen floor; take the hamburger out of the freezer at noon; do your schoolwork.

It's 10 a.m. and I figure if the Doctor's home at six I have until five to screw around, which allows plenty of time for a healthy afternoon nap.

Sitting on my couch, watching Wendy Williams, I bring a spoonful of Cookie Crisp to my mouth when the doorbell rings.

A person.

Someone is here.

Someone ringing my doorbell could add a skip to the tedium of my day.

Muting Wendy, I set my bowl on the coffee table, and since there are few cookie crisps remaining, I'm not too worried about the sog factor.

I peek out the skinny window aside the door, and let me just say, I'm a bit stupefied.

Why? Well, here's the thing. It's a little after ten on a Thursday morning. At this time of day one might expect a FedEx delivery, or someone spreading the word of the Lord. One might also assume that a knock on the door could even be a pest removal representative, but since that guy stopped by last week, he can be checked off the list.

One would not expect Bella Swan to be standing on their front porch wearing a tight red, non-descript t-shirt and jeans.

Perhaps this is a dream.

I pull a hair on my arm – it hurts – I am fully awake.

She angles her body to the side and peers through the window. Bella can see me, hence the shruggy shoulder, why aren't you opening the door expression on her face, but I'm not ready to open the door.

This is Bella, after all. Catching me off guard like this in my boxers and undershirt puts me at a disadvantage. This could be my only chance and she could be totally put off by my attire, assuming that I'm lazy.

I have zero intel on this girl and if I wasn't currently jailed I'd have a ninety-nine point three percent better chance of her realizing my knack for woo. Does she like a charmer? Someone more detached? These are the things I'd know by now.

If the sole purpose of her surprise visit is to rip my ass for spying on her, and if she's the kind of girl who refuses to hear another side of the story then my point seven percent chance decreases exponentially.

Bella pounds on the window, startling me.

A quick hand through my hair and I open the door, smiling a smile that is warm but not overconfident.

"Morning," I say and watch her eyes drop to the monitor around my ankle.


A minute passes and she's still staring at it. For all I know the slow, repetitive flashing green light might be mesmerizing to her, so I hold onto the door for support and lift my ankle toward her.

"Huh," she says and then looks up at me.

She's hot close up.

My beauty is giving nothing away – no smile or frown. She's totally unreadable, and this is troublesome as the fog in my brain is diminishing my normal ability to think quickly.

Bella gives me another once over then nods her head. Approving? Possibly. This is good.

"Bye," she says and turns to leave.



"Um, where are you going?"

"I need to get back to school."

"You left school to come here?"

"Yeah. Study hall. Easy to skip."

A rule bender. I cannot even explain how elated this makes me.

Bella begins to walk toward the driveway and I run out after her.

I'm about a few feet away when I say, "Hey. So, I'm Edward. Edward Masen."

"I know who you are," she says.

She knows who I am yet she still shows up on my doorstep on a Thursday morning. She's not yelled at me or thrown any warnings at me. This is very good.

It's kismet. Me and this girl were meant to be. Written in the stars. I am on joy overload right now.

I figure I have minutes to spare before she disappears, giving me no other choice than to test the waters. Get this show on the road, as it were.

"Why'd you come here? Not that I mind. I don't, at all. You're welcome to come here anytime. All the time if you prefer. I'm just curious."

"That you are," she says. "I gotta go."


Bella laughs and I swear it's like the tinkling of really hot angels. "See ya."

As she climbs into her car I ask, "Will you come back? Please?"

"I could get into a lot of trouble," she says, eyeing my monitor.

"But you want to, right? That's a start."

"Have a nice day, Edward," she says and zips away.

I do believe my once ninety-nine point three percent chance of no woo realization has just dropped into the fifty, maybe forty percent range. I mean, she skipped school to see me.

For the rest of the day I'm a happy lad.

So happy, in fact, that I not only complete my list of household duties I also take out the garbage. Happy enough to be only mildly disappointed that, according to Jasper, the girls are practicing in the gym after school to prepare for this weekend. We make plans for tomorrow.

I'm so happy that not even Kimmy's weird ass boyfriend, Ben, bothers me.

Dude is legit freaky.

I really am all about individuality. Let your flag flutter along high and strong, right? But this guy talks to himself. Like, all the time mumbling, asking questions and answering those questions. By himself.

I usually don't stick around long enough to catch a word of what he says, but since I am in such a good mood I'm making dinner again tonight. Two nights in a row. That's what a mystical creature like Bella Swan can do to a man.

Anyway, I'm shaping burgers into patties, Kimmy and Ben are parked at the kitchen table doing homework and while Kimmy's face is planted in her notebook Ben is staring up at the ceiling.


So I ask myself, Self? Do I want to engage in dialogue with this kid who is becoming a steady fixture in the Masen home, or, do I want to ignore him and his ramblings that I'm pretty sure are of another language such as Elven or some shit like that.

"Ben?" Immediately Kimmy's head shoots up, and she's frowning. "What? Hey, Ben? Benjamin? Are you staying for dinner?"

Kimmy's eyes go to slits. "He's vegetarian, moron."

"I'm supposed to know this? There's corn, too, and I think we have a tomato."

"You're an idiot."

"Does she talk to you like that, Ben?"

"Shut up, Edward."

"Kimberly is a very kind young lady, thank you for asking," Ben says, turning around. He goes back to his notebook, writes something down and then his eyes are back on the ceiling.

"So that's a no?"

"It's a no," Kimmy says.

"You know, Kimmy—"

"It's Kimberly!"

"Whatever. As I was saying, Kimmy, you know you really should try to be nicer to me. I'm offering an olive branch over here. Before you know it I'll be off to college and you'll regret how you've mistreated me."

"I regret nothing, Edward."

"What nothing do you regret, Kimmmberly?" Doc asks, saving herself from an imminent name correcting tantrum. She tosses her keys onto the counter then hands me a brown paper bag and whispers, "Here're the magazines I promised. Have safe fun tonight, sweetheart."

"Jesus, Mom!"

"Edward," my mom cautions.

Kimmy rolls her eyes and Ben chuckles to himself. Whether it's because of my humiliation or a joke he's just told himself I don't really know.

Doc pats my shoulder. "Why don't you take your things up to your room. I'll finish up here."

Sixty days. How am I going to survive sixty more days trapped in this place?

In my room, I slip the bag of T&A mags behind my closet bar. Obviously I don't have to hide them but damned if I'm going to outwardly accept Doc's alarming attempts to make sure I'm "happy".

After dinner I play several levels in Ghost Recon.

Boredom creeps in like a shadowy ghost. No. Boredom covers me in black like a thousand crows' feathers. I'm reading Poe for class, essay needs to be emailed by next week. I can't think like him.

Fuck, I'm so bored.

I mix a drink.

Too sweet.

I try again and this one goes down much smoother, so I give myself a deserved pat on the back.

I flip through the channels on TV.


It's one a.m. and my high from Bella's earlier visit is fading fast. I need to see her.

It's too stuffy in here.

Opening my window I look out into her yard – pitch black – and my thoughts are suddenly consumed by a foreign notion called doubt.

What if some jackass swoops in and tries to get with her? What if attempts have already been made, which I'm sure they have since she's so hot and all, but what if she has a boyfriend?

No, not possible. Emmett's confirmed she's single.

But still, what if there's a dude on the fringe waiting to pounce and he blindsides her making her forget all about me.

What. If.

I'm sweating as I send Jasper a text.

tell me everything you know about bella swan

dude wake up

text me

it's urgent text me back

where are you


He's useless, and Emmett sleeps like a hibernating bear so texting him is out.

My friends suck.

Like, what am I going to do if someone else's eyes are on Bella? Jasper and Emmett have to be watching out for me. I'd do the same for them if the situation was reversed. I totally would.

"Hey!" a voice shouty-whispers from below. It's a very sexy voice.

Forget my friends.

"You came back," I say and I am high yet again.

"Yeah. Catch this," Bella says.

"What is it?" It's so dark I can barely see my beloved.

"A ladder. It's heavyish, so…"

Oh God YES. I mentally fist pump myself as forty percent non woo realization has just dipped into single digits. "Are you coming up or am I coming down?"

"Up," she says then heaves this bundle at me. It hits the side of the house. "Shit. Lean out." I do and she tries again. Bella has zero aim. "One more time." I don't even care if she's loud as fuck with her less than adequate aim; her determination alone gives me a hard-on.

Finally I snag the handle of it mid air – inside the bag is one of those fire escape chain ladder things. It's loud, clanking all over the place and I look over my shoulder making sure the space beneath my door is still dark.

All clear. I fasten the ladder and let it drop.

I'm wearing boxers. Actually I wear boxers a lot, because, like, who cares? I'm home all the time. Yeah, so I quickly snag a pair of sweats out of my drawer and pull them on.

And then she's in my room.

Bella Swan is in my room, in her pajamas.

If shorts and a Seminoles t-shirt are her pajamas, she is. Also, there's the bra factor. Is she wearing one? The absence of a bra would definitely constitute pajamas. Regrettably, it's too hard to tell since her shirt's so baggy.

Sweet Mother, Bella's in my bedroom.

If this is a fucking dream there's no way I'm going to ever forgive myself. I pull a hair on my arm.

"What are you doing?"

It hurts. "Nothing." Not a dream. "Would you like something to drink?" But really what is Bella Swan doing in my room?

Not that I'm one to turn away a gift. I'm not. Like ever. Though I can't help but wonder what her intentions are. I've accepted we're soul mates. Has she?

"No, thanks," she says.

"Do you wanna sit down?"

"Sure." She flops onto the floor and sits cross-legged. "Mind if I take off my shoes?" she asks, looking around my room, slipping off her sneakers.

"Make yourself comfortable."

I need to brush. The orange juice has left a gritty feeling on my teeth and this is totally unacceptable if kissing is on tonight's agenda.

We sit in silence for a few moments, which is fine by me. I could look at this girl for days, but then I remember what she said earlier.

"You're not worried about getting into trouble?"

"I was testing your decency," she says. "And I'm a ninja anyway, so not really."

"A ninja?"

"My dad's a cop, of course I'm a ninja." She points to my monitor. "I heard about what you did. So, you what? Can't go anywhere? Like ever? What if you get hurt and need to go to the hospital?"

"My mom would have to call the police."

She tilts her head. "I moved the tramp," she says. "I don't like being spied on."

Shit. "By yourself?"

"Cheerleaders are freakishly strong."

"Jasper and Emmett are going to be very disappointed."

She sighs. "I'm going now."

"I was kidding. Sorry. I really am decent."

"What about you?"

"What about me what?"

"Are you disappointed?"

"You're in my room, Bella. I'm the opposite of disappointed."

My phone buzzes and Bella pushes herself off the floor, grabbing it so fast the entire happening is a blur. Her ninja skills are impressive.

"Hm," she says, scrolling through my phone. "I think you scared Jasper." She hands it to me, and sure enough Jasper's wigging out, texting if he needs to call 9-1-1.

I text him back.

false alarm

Shaking my phone, I ask, "Would it be all right if you gave me your number?"

"You're not as smooth as you think you are," she says, but she takes my phone and punches in numbers which better be hers otherwise I'm going to be highly upset. "Don't text me all the time. I hate that."

Her number. Awesome.

"Anything else I should know?" This is going pleasingly quick.

"Yes. Stop smiling so much." She grins. "Just because I'm here doesn't mean you're going to get in my pants."

"Never crossed my mind," I say.

"Liar. Your reputation precedes you, Edward. Anyway, don't ask other people about me, and I'll stop asking people about you. I'll be back. I don't know when, but I will be."

"Okay. What else? Wait. You asked about me?"

"Stop smiling like that." She laughs. She glances over at my closet – bar on full display. "Okay, so I do enjoy the occasional cocktail but I'd appreciate it if you had chilled water for me. Climbing down that ladder intoxicated or even slightly buzzed can be a bitch – trust me – and I have to stay in top form a.k.a. no injuries during competition season. Kapeesh?"

"Got it."

"Also, I love kiwi Frooba."

"I don't know what that is."

"Don't worry about it, and they're delicious. All I'm saying is that since you're locked up I'll bring them and keep them here?"


"Goodnight, Edward." She pops up off the floor and steps toward the window. I want to grab the back of her shirt and pull her back down, but I need to bide my time. I have loads now, I think.

Bella sticks her head out the window then spins around. She purses her lips, while looking at me still sitting back against my bed.

For a second I think she might be considering a goodnight kiss. Does she need encouragement? I can give her that.

"Sorry for spying on you," I say. "Be careful climbing down."

She smiles, big and bright, and all is right in the world even if I have no idea what just happened.

"This is the worst day ever," Emmett complains, nose pressed up against my window. "I thought Alice and Rosalie were just giving us shit when they said Bella moved the trampoline."

"Were they pissed?" I ask.

Jasper moves from the edge of my bed to put a hand on Emmett's shoulder. "Nah. I think Alice secretly liked it. She's a bit of a freak, that one."

"How would you know?"

"I know. What was with the texts last night?"

"I was bored," I lie. "Just wanted some information about Bella is all."

Jasper seems satisfied, nodding in understanding, I guess, and goes to take a seat at my desk. "Do you still? I mean, I can probably find out something."

"No. It'd be weird if she found out I was asking about her, don't you think? Like after they busted us yesterday? I don't want her thinking I'm a creeper." I almost feel bad bullshitting Jas, but what can I do?

"Yeah, I get it," he says.

Emmett sits on the windowsill, shaking his head. "Sorry, Eddie. Looks like your one man show lost its inspiration. Sucks, bro. At least I can see Rosalie at school."

Normally, that reminder would piss me off, but since I have a sweet little ninja visiting me in the middle of the night I'm okay with his comment. "Yeah. Sucks bad."

No way I'm telling either of them about Bella and that I'll have plenty of fodder for whacking off. I figure if they don't already know, she doesn't want them to and I'm sure as hell not going to ruin my chance of getting Bella naked. I'm not stupid.

Jasper and Emmett stay for a little while longer and my evening is similar to last night's, except now I'm pacing around my room, waiting. The window's wide open, of course, and at about eleven I hang the ladder.

I texted her once today, since she said she doesn't like a lot of texts. She's so perfect. So not needy.

I said hi in my text and she replied with "frooooobaaas".

What the hell does that even mean?

It's almost midnight now and I'm beginning to worry Bella's not going to show. She's got her competition tomorrow – Jas said the girls are leaving early and Bella seems hardcore about it so she'll probably want a good night's sleep, right?

I mean, I want her to do well.

I wonder what she's like when she's happy. Does she want sex?

Oh, shit. Is she a virgin?


It'd be fine if she was but my approach is going to need to be revamped. I won't push it – it'd be her first time. I'm not a dick.

I could be her first, if she wanted me to be. And I don't mean that in a dickish way, because again, I'm not a dick. It should be special. It would be special. I could be special to her.

But still, if she's not, does she want sex when she's happy and successful?

"What are you thinking about?" Bella says, scaring the shit out of me.

I jump up from my bed. I hadn't even realized I sat down.

She's got one leg in, perched on my windowsill like a pretty little bird. My pretty little ninja bird.

"Hi," I say, ignoring her question, unable to contain my smile. She climbs the rest of the way in and hands me a jar with Frooba printed on the lid. I hold it up, inspecting the tiny green balls inside. "So these are them?"

"Yeah, try one."

"They look like fish eggs. What are they?"

"Try one."

"They're edible?"

"Oh, my God, Edward. Give it." She snatches the jar from my hand before I have a chance to blink. Goddamn she's fast. Bella pops a couple in her mouth. "Best things ever."

"Okay, here, lemme try." She pours a couple into my palm. They're like soft plastic jelly balls, or something. So damn gross.



"Bite them," she says all serious.

It's on the tip of my tongue, that I'd rather bite her. I bet she tastes like candy, the good kind like strawberry Jolly Ranchers.

This nasty, not even remotely like kiwi flavor bursts in my mouth. Cringing, I wash it down with water. "Fantastic."

She laughs. "More for me."

"Those are the most disgusting things I've ever had."

"They're awesome."

"No, they are vile."

Bella shakes her head, eats a few more, smiling, and hikes her eyebrows like she doesn't care what I think about them. She does and that's all that matters.

It is all that matters.

Handing her a bottle of water from my mini-fridge, I stare at her and something clicks.

She's not like any other girl I've ever gone after.

I want her, though. Yeah, I want sex, too, but I might really want her.

I just can't figure out what she wants.

"I was wondering," I say, and we both sink down to the floor, me leaning against my bed and Bella sitting opposite me with her legs stretched out, hands flat against the floor behind her.


"How come you didn't rip my ass apart after you caught us spying on you? Why are you sitting in my room for the second night in a row? How do you know I'm not a psycho?"

Without missing a beat, she says, "I had to get to know the infamous Edward Masen."

"I'm famous?" I am a little, yes.

"In this tiny sector of the world."

"What happens after you get to know me?"

"We bone."

Goddamn. "I love you."

"I was joking."

I know, unfortunately. "About the infamous part, right?"

"Gotta go."

"Wait, Bella. You've been here for like a minute."

"Competition tomorrow!" she squeals, then slaps her hand over her mouth. "Sorry."

She's so cute. "Don't worry about it. If my mom comes I'll hide you under my bed."

"I bet you've hidden a lot of girls under your bed," she says.

I shake my head. "Not a one."

"But you've had girls in your room before, right?"

"Have you ever been in a guys room before?"

She lifts an eyebrow. "Wouldn't you like to know. Answer my question first."

Bella's standing and I've moved to sit on the edge of my bed. "No, I haven't, and yes I would like to know. It's only fair."

"I've never been in a boy's room before."

"Well, there you go."


"We're each other's firsts. I think that means something."

She rolls her eyes.

As she starts to climb out the window I push myself up off my bed. Half in now, Bella grips the handles of the ladder, and I kneel down so we're at eye level.

"Good luck tomorrow," I tell her. She smells nice. Her eyes are pretty, too.


And she's gone.

second place :(

but that's great! :)

i wanted first

next time

wish u could come. regionals coming up and if we do well we go to finals!

i wish i could too. She wants me at her competitions. She likes me. will i see u tonight? if ur busy it's cool

maybe. maybe not. i like being mysterious.

i like *you*

even if boning is off the table?

no need for crazy talk, ninja girl

*laughs* gotta run

u keep running. stay sometime

A few minutes pass and she doesn't text me back. These things I'm telling her? They're true and I don't even know. Like all these words? Just natural shit.

My phone buzzes – not a text. A selfie. Her hair's pulled into a ponytail and she's got this gargantuan bow stuck on the top of her head. She's adorable with her cheesy ass grin.

She has to like me.

in history. i loathe this class. he's so mean!

you have varner, right?


rumor has it he's a sucker for compliments. tell him you like his tie.

it's got fat cartoon ducks on it

okay then don't laugh when u tell him. be sincere. guarantee he'll go easier on u.

that's 2 simple

trust me

guess what i did today

learned how 2 cleanse your colon from dr. oz?

gross. no. did u know u can order candy online?

u mean internet's not just 4 porn?

ur so funny! keep it up and u won't get your mango, strawberry, AND raspberry froobas when they arrive within 5 – 7 business days


right? i'm pretty awesome

u are indeed

where r u?

getting ready 2 go 2 practice

have fun. don't break anything


kidding! you'll b great


told you. will whip up my special dirty martini to celebrate

no drinking and descending of ladders, remember!

haha forgive me. we'll figure something else out

popcorn and movie?

sure. but nothing scary.


don't tell anyone :)

secret is safe with me

do u want me 2 smuggle anything in 4 you? i'm at 7-11

i'd kill for a slim jim

those things are nasty

so are ur fish eggs

:p bringing you 20

so tired i can barely keep my eyes open

stay home tonight. u need to sleep

i know but

but what?

i like coming over

i have an alarm… I type. But I delete it and instead send, i really really really like u coming over too. but u should sleep

:) x 100000000. sweet dreams

I want to text back that they'll be about her. Would that scare her off? Like, is she the kind of chick who freaks out about shit like that? I have these feelings. She's, like, on my mind. All. The. Fucking. Time.

So I just text, they will b. nite, ninja

"You moved here from Florida." I say. Our conversations have mostly consisted of what's been happening at school, the people there. Nothing really personal, like at all, and I want to know things about her and tell her things about me.

"Yeah. My dad's originally from Forks and the force was gonna take away part of his retirement because of budget cuts or something, so here we are," she says. "And my mom doesn't really have, like, a specified career. She floats around and does whatever. So the move was easy."

"Do you miss it? Florida?"

She shrugs. "Sometimes, but the team I was on out there was intense. Like, here it's fun and we're good, so…"

"Sucks about your dad's job. Glad you're here though."

Bella nudges my arm with her shoulder. After a week, we've finally moved from her sitting across from me to her sitting next to me. Still on the floor. Still no kissing.

I'm dying.

I respect Bella, but I'm also fucking dying from this newfound restraint I've somehow mustered.

"What about you? Where's your dad?"

Yeah, about that. Growing up I had made up these stories about my dad. He was an astronaut and got lost in space. He went off to war and went missing. He writes for a magazine and is always traveling. He's CIA.

I can't tell Bella a story.

"I don't know him. My mom was artificially inseminated. Shopped at Sperm-R-Us and said I want kids with green eyes and brownish-reddish hair so gimme some of that DNA."

Her eyebrows shoot up. "Really?"

"Not exactly like that but, yeah. Nobody knows, though. Not even Jasper or Emmett. I'm totally cool with it now, it's not a big deal. I just tell people he and Doc divorced after Kimmy was born. Saves a lot of questions, you know? Judgment too."

"Does she date at all?"

"Um, no, actually. She works a lot, but she's home a lot too, right? I don't know. I never really thought about it. I mean, I guess she'd date if she wanted to, wouldn't she?"

"I dunno. You should ask her."

"It'd be weird."

"It might be nice," she says.

I guess I could but, I don't know. "Maybe."

Bella plays with a loose thread on her shorts. I've been so good. Non-handsy. But the urge to pluck that string and leave my hand on her thigh? Strong, the need is.

She looks at me, eyebrows drawn, her expression totally serious. "Wow."


"So you, like, came from a vial."

"Shut up." Now I nudge her with my shoulder, and she laughs. She's got a great laugh.

"You're like a science experiment then."

"I'm warning you, ninja girl." I poke her side and she squirms.

"And what are you gonna do?" she challenges, and we're so close, like our lips are inches apart.

My heart's going nuts inside my chest and I stare at her for a minute. She's smiling and I'm not anymore.

She has no clue.

"Nothing you don't want me to do," I say.

Her smile fades. She blinks those pretty lashes and I'm frozen. I want to move but I'm trying to keep my body on lockdown, but if she shifts toward me I am all in.

Come on, Bella. Make a move.

She looks down and I look away.

She's not ready. And I'm resigned to yet another night of me and my bottle of Eucerin.

But then something crazy happens because I feel her lips on the corner of my jaw. One quick kiss, and it's not enough.

"Bella, if I turn my head I'm going to want to kiss you. Can I?" I don't know what's wrong with me. It's like I've gone haywire. See, if this was any other girl she'd be down to her underwear by now. "Please don't say you have to go."

"I do though," she says and then her hand is on my cheek, turning my face toward hers.

I'm going to explode. I really, seriously am.

But then she kisses me and I keep my hands on the floor for all of a second before I'm holding her face, and there's something really strange building inside me. I can't push it down. I don't even want to.

Bella doesn't pull away. She opens her mouth a little more and then her tongue touches mine. I drop a hand to her waist and she's holding onto my shoulders.

This kiss is slow and perfect. I want so bad for it be a preview of something more, because it's so good. But I end it. If I don't I'll ask for everything.

Bella tries to kiss me again; I move back. Me! I move back. Crazy.

I take a breath and my eyes are squeezed shut. When I open them she's watching me and I can't tell what she's thinking and that's a little scary. My cheeks get hot and I kind of laugh a little.

"What?" she asks, her eyebrows pulled together. "Was it not…what you thought?"

"Oh, God, no! It was perfect! It's just that I, um, I want to take you out," I tell her, and it's the honest truth. "On a date. What do you like to do?"

She smiles. "I think that would be kind of impossible, don't you?" She glances at my stupid fucking monitor.

That shit I did with that girl, Heidi, was so not worth this.

"Approximately seven weeks from now I'd like to take you out," I amend.

"I'll have to check my calendar."

"Do that."

"Okay," she says and we're back to where we always are. Her shoving her feet inside her shoes and moving to my window. "You're not at all how people think you are."

"And how's that?"

"Selfish and egotistical."

"Oh. Well, that's great to know."

"I don't care what they think, Edward."

Before she climbs out I grab her and kiss her again. I'm not a pussy. "It only matters what you think, ninja girl."

"Edward? Can you come outside for a minute?" Mom asks from the back door, pulling off her gardening gloves a finger at a time.

It's Saturday afternoon. Kimmy and Ben are watching those two guys bust myths on TV and I'm anxiously awaiting a text from the future Mrs. Masen to tell me how she did at regionals.

Yes, that's right. Overnight I decided that Edward Masen is forever off the market to all other women. There were goddamn sparks in that kiss.

I follow Doc around to the side of the house, and she points up to my window. "What's that?" she asks.

"I don't know what you're talking about."


"The dents in the siding, Edward, and the marks coming down from your window. What are they?"


"Um." I shrug my shoulders and put on the most confused expression I can. "Hail? Birds slamming into the house?"

"You know darn well those aren't from birds or hail. Have you been sneaking out of your room?"

"No," I say, which is the complete truth. "Where am I gonna go?" I lift my ankle for emphasis.

"Has someone been sneaking in?"



"Mom, no. I…no one is sneaking in," I say, but it sounds more like nosneakin.

"Give me your phone."

"Why?" No no no no. My heart's about to bust out of my chest. She can't take my phone.

"I haven't seen or heard about Jasper or Emmett in a while and you've been in a particularly good mood recently. Something's going on. I can tell you're keeping a secret by the way your face is scrunching up like you're constipated. Phone. Now."

"Mom. Please."



"Fine. Keep it. I'll just cut your service except for emergency numbers."

"Why are you doing this?"

"Tell me the truth, Edward…Nothing to say? Hand it over."

I pull it out of my pocket. I want to shove it at her, make the gesture forceful, menacing, but it falls short since she's my mom and I just place it gently in her hand.

"When can I have it back?"

She looks at my phone then back at me. "When you fess up. Also, make sure you leave your door unlocked tonight."

Let me just say it's going to be a really long time before I get my phone back. No way Bella's going to get in trouble with her folks.

The worst part is I can't even warn her. Thanks to my trustworthy self, I'm screwed. Jasper and Emmett don't know about us, so it's not like I can get word to her through them.

"I'll be in my room," I tell my mom and walk away.

If Doc was to read my texts it would be all over. She won't do that though. She's never snooped, always saying anything she finds out will only ever come from me and my sister, not by something she's looked for. Fuck, I hope she doesn't start now.

What the hell am I going to do?

As I pass through the kitchen, Kimmy says, "God, Edward. You really are stupid sometimes."

I don't even have the strength to say anything back to her. I can't even manage to lift my middle finger.

I nap for a good part of the day.

I stare out my window, searching for any sign of Bella.

I contemplate making a sign to tape to the glass. Something like: Got in trouble. Grounded within my imprisonment. See you when I get out.

But then I run the risk of someone else seeing it.

I can't hang the ladder. I'm even too afraid to open the window to shout down if she comes by since my door won't be locked. I guess I could write a note and wait for her to show up and throw it down real fast.

It's a great idea, but she never shows.

A lot can happen while men are in prison. Women get lonely. They seek solace in the arms of others. I've seen it on Lifetime. I know these things.

Why would Bella want to wait around? Prom's coming up in a few months, too. She'll want to go and she should go, right? She's not going to want to wait for me.

I mean, like, I know I'm worth it. Does she? I haven't had enough time to prove to her that I am.

Sunday consists of me ignoring my mother and sister, and typing in different variations of possible email addresses. I never got hers, because who emails? Anyway, I have no idea and have basically been grabbing at straws.

Did get some replies, though. Mostly, they were "Who is this?" and one "Wrong address but I'll be your Bella."

An image of a forty-year-old guy with a beer belly and hairy back comes to mind, so I forgo the email route.

On Monday during dinner, Kimmy drones on about something. I don't listen. I don't eat and ask to be excused.

I try to strike a bargain with Doc on Tuesday.

"I'll trade my TV, Xbox, and computer for my phone."

"All I want to know is why, Edward. It's simple."

I go to bed.

By Wednesday I am weak from malnourishment. I have zero desire to eat anything except for Froobas because they remind me of Bella.

But then it hits me. I'm pretty sure I've already lost a few pounds and if I lose more weight then maybe I can slip right out of the monitor, go to the school parking lot and wait for Bella to come out. I'll be able to explain everything, she'll forgive me, kiss me for a really long time, and it will be as if these past few days never happened.

She hasn't come by. I know she can get out of school, but she hasn't. She hates me now.

Clicking off the television I go into the kitchen and grab the bottle of Wesson oil. With my leg in the sink I pour the oil down my calf, turn the monitor a little but the sucker's clamped on there pretty tight. It'll take too long to lose the weight I'd need to for this to work. She could be betrothed to another by then.

On Thursday, I don't bother getting out of bed.

Kimmy opens my door without knocking. "What's your deal?"

I roll over, pulling my pillow over my head.

I feel her eyes boring into my back. She says something else, but I don't know what she says; I don't care.

I think Friday passes by – I don't look at a clock or a calendar. I sleep, I pee, I sleep, I eat the last of the Froobas. It's all a blur. A despairing waste of rising sun and glowing moon.

Shit, my essay was due yesterday.

Fuck it all. Goodbye life.

"Edward, wake up." Kimmy shakes my shoulder. "Wake up, brother dear. Time's a wastin'."

"Go away, Kimmy."

"It's Kimberly, but whatever. Wake up. Come on, we don't have much time."

Rolling over I shield my eyes from the brightness in my room. Kimmy's pulled open the blinds all the way. I try to wipe the sleep from my eyes and I smack my lips. Something has died in my mouth.

"Jesus, Edward. You look like shit. Why didn't you tell us he was this bad."

"Emmett? Is that you? Jasper? Why are you all in my room. What day is it?"

"I only figured it out last night," Kimmy says to Emmett, then turns to me. "It's Saturday. Get. Up."

Jasper stands by the door. "Dame Judy's still running and if we don't hurry up she'll overheat. Throw some water on him or something."

"What's going on?" I ask, sitting up.

Ben walks in, holding some black box thing with an attached antennae. "By my calculations we will have approximately sixty-eight minutes."

"Shit. We need at least fifty of those minutes for driving time if there's no traffic," Emmett says.

"Will eighteen minutes be enough?" Kimmy asks, shuffling around my room. She beams a pair of jeans and a shirt at me, and then my deodorant, and then a baseball cap. "Get up, Edward! Come on!"

"It's gonna have to be," Jasper says. "I'll be waiting in the Dame."

"Stop! What the hell is going on?"

Emmett, Jasper, and Kimmy all eye each other before Jasper sprints out of my room.

"We're busting you out," says Emmett.

I laugh. "Yeah, okay. Thanks for screwing with me." I flop back on my bed.

He yanks me back up by my wrist, leans down, and we're nose to nose. My arm socket hurts.

"Look, I was totally pissed at you for the past two weeks. You haven't called or texted and when I called you last week your sister said you didn't want to talk to anyone."

"Why didn't you tell me, Kimmy?" I ask really, very incredulously.

"I tried!" she answers. "You wouldn't take the stupid pillow off your head!"

"Sorry, man."

"It's okay. So, like, I didn't know what the hell was going on. I thought maybe since we weren't gonna watch the girls on the tramp anymore that you didn't need me and Jasper."

"That's crazy. I—"

"I was hurt and confused, okay? But then Kimberly, and you need to start calling your sister Kimberly and not Kimmy. If it's what she wants it's what she wants, 'k? Anyway, she called me and Jasper at the ass crack of dawn this morning."

"It was at ten," Kimmy, I mean, Kimberly interrupts. "Otherwise I would have told them to just text Alice and Rose to text Bella."

"But that's not nearly as romantic," Ben says.

"You just want to play with your toy." Kimberly says and Ben giggles.

Emmett snaps his fingers. "Hello? We're on a schedule, people.

"Okay, so Kimberly told us about your phone being taken away and how weird you've been acting and that she thought it had something to do with a girl and you must really like this girl because she's never seen you like this before. Jasper said that Alice said Bella's been acting really weird too and at practice she's only given, like, fifty percent. The three of us put two and two together."

"Um, technically, I told you guys what was going on after Jasper mentioned what Alice said. You two sat on the phone all like duh. All I wanted was for you to tell Bella that my brother's not a total asshole."

Emmett and I look at Kimberly. I smile at her; she rolls her eyes.

"I owe you," I say.

"Oh, I know you do."

Emmett says, "This is a beautiful thing right here and some other time you're gonna have to tell me exactly how you and Bella came about, but right now? Dude, they're at finals. Your woman needs you. Also, brush your teeth – your breath is rank, bro."

"They got to finals?" I say, throwing off my blanket.

I'm up in a flash, filled with purpose. My woman needs me.

"Yeah, hurry the hell up before the Doctor comes home."

"Where is she?"

"She went in to the office and said she'd be home by dinner," Kimberly says and hooks her arm around Ben's.

"Wait. What time is it? How's this going to work?" I ask, motioning toward the monitor.

Ben perks up. "It's one-eleven. I'll explain on the way."

Emmett is sitting up front with Jasper while Kimberly, Ben, and I are strapped in the back of Dame Judy.

At the edge of my driveway, Jasper presses down on the brakes. He turns to Ben. "Ready?"

Ben hovers his finger over his little box, presses down and says, "Now."

Jasper peels out of my driveway, throwing us all back against our seats. The Dame has power, I'll give her that.

Glancing down at my monitor, it's still flashing green. "What'd you do, Ben?" I ask and he grins scarily sinister. I like this kid.

It's a ten minute long explanation about radio signals and worms and security codes, hardly any of it I understand.

Ben sighs, noting our glazed over eyes. Kimberly, though, she's beaming. I get it when you're proud of the one you love.


Do I love Bella? I might. Do they know I love her?

"Do you understand, Edward?" Ben asks.

"Sorry, man. In layman's terms?"

"I jammed the frequency your tracking device is on. It should hold a little over an hour."

"Wow," I say. "Thank you."

"My pleasure."

I realize, then, that my sister, her boyfriend, and my best friends are putting their asses on the line for me. They must know I love her.

"Um, you guys. This means a lot to me, it really does. I don't know how I'm every going to repay you for this, and listen, if something goes wrong drop me off on the side of the road and get the hell out, all right?"

Through the rearview mirror, Jasper looks at me. "That's Plan B, dude."

The arena is packed solid. It's loud as shit. People are cheering – the crowd, not the cheerleaders but they do that too, it's just that the crowd is really loud.

Our entire school is supposed to be here, and I cannot be recognized. My cap is pulled low over my eyes and since I haven't shaven in like, a week, I think I'm fairly safe. Green light's still flashing steady.

According to the program, our girls are up next.

We're sitting in a section of random people and I am surrounded by moms, dads, and little kids, far away from the FHS student body. I'm not fond of little kids but I don't plan on complaining because in about one minute I'm going to see Bella.

The announcer introduces our girls, and to my left Jasper stands, screaming like crazy.

I spot Bella. She's not smiling like the other girls. In fact, she looks downright miserable.

Emmett leans over, "Shit, bro. Judges are going to take points off for that. Do something."

"How do you know what they take points off for?"

Jasper says, "I read him the manual."

Emmett elbows me. "Do something, Ed."

The girls line up, or get into formation, or whatever. Their heads are down and their bodies are stiff, all except Bella's. She's more limp and her shoulders sag.

Emmett hits me again. "Ow, man!" He throws me a look. "Okay, okay." Cupping my hands around my mouth, just as the first pound of bass blasts through the speakers, I yell, "Come on, Ninja Girl!"

Bella's head shoots up a second before the rest of them. She's doing her routine but she's scanning the crowd.

"That's it," Jasper says. "Yell again."

"How much time do we have, Ben?" He's sitting on the other side of Jasper.

"Thirty-four minutes until you have to be back within the safe zone."

Bella's like a half-step behind everyone else. She's going to be crushed if they don't do well.

Fuck it.

I stand on the bleachers, take off my cap, and yell, "You got this, Ninja!"

She sees me then, but then so do a few other people from our school. They're pointing, but Bella's smiling now.

I stay where I am.

Jasper and Emmett stand on the bleachers, too. Kimberly and Ben follow, and we're all clapping and cheering for our girls. Pretty soon a chant starts. Ninja! Ninja! Everyone's cheering for her, the bleachers vibrate with their voices and the music.

It's kind of awesome.

Jasper yells in my ear, "Alice dumped Newton last week! I am so getting laid tonight!."

I just laugh at him, then feel this tiny slap on my back. Turning around, I look down in the angry eyes of some little kid. He tells me he can't see so I lift him onto my shoulders. He doesn't struggle and I don't even care that his sticky hands are in my hair.

Emmett's biting his lip, Rosalie glances our way and winks. "Me too, fuckers," he says.

"Dude!" I warn and eyeball the kid on my shoulders.

"Oh, sorry, little man."

"No prob, brah," the kid says and bumps Emmett's fist.

The girls throw each other into the air, climb into pyramids, run and flip. They dance and cheer and not one of them makes a mistake.

She's amazing. Never mind how high she can hold one leg. I'll be asking her about that later.

The music stops, and I take the kid off my shoulders. I glance down at the monitor. Still green; we're still good. I am definitely going to do something hugely nice for Ben. Dude's my hero.

My heart's racing and my cheeks hurt from smiling so big at her. She's, like, everything, I think. No, I know. She's everything.

When they're officially finished, and the crowd quiets down, Bella yells, "Froooobas!" and jumps down from the top.

It's not pretty.

There's a collective gasp once the loud POP sounds after Bella lands on her ankle wrong.

"Oh, shit!"

I push everyone out of the way, running down the bleachers. I push my way through her teammates and drop to my knees next to her.

"Oh, my God! What are you doing here? You came!" she squeals, holding her ankle.

"Are you okay? Are you in pain? Does it hurt?" I hold her face.

"Yeah, it hurts fucking bad but you came! You're here!"

"Yeah, I'm here. Holy shit, Bella, your ankle's really swollen. It's turning black and blue!"

"I think it's broken!" she says. "Kiss me!"

"Okay!" I kiss her.

"I missed you!" She's still squealing. I think she's in shock.

"I missed you, too. You're not mad? You need to go to the hospital. Shit, Bella, your ankle."

Her coach and some other dude – a doctor, I guess – are examining her foot. One of them says I need to move. I'm not going to move. Out of the corner of my eye I see her parents approaching. I assume it's them because they look to be freaked the fuck out. I'm going to have to move soon.

She whispers, "You're going to go to jail probably, for being here, so there's got to be a good reason you never texted me back or opened your window, right? I mean… oh, shit this really fucking hurts."

Someone's tugging at my arm. It's Ben, pointing to his watch. "My mom took my phone. I waited by the window, but…I'll explain later. I have to go so I don't go to jail. I love you. You should know that in case I actually do get locked up."

"Ouch! Shit!" she yells at the doctor, and then to me she says, much softer, "You love me? Thank you! I think I love you too!"

"You're welcome! They'll give you something for the pain. Oh shit, Bella, I really do love you."

"Me to!" she shrieks, squeezing my hand so tight I know a bone or five are being crushed. "Oh, man, it hurts so bad. Do you think we won?"

"I have no idea! I mean, yeah, you totally won," I tell her, prying away her death grip. I quickly kiss her cheek and then in her ear I whisper that I love her, because it's not adrenaline or desperation that I'll never see her again if this plan ends badly.

Okay, maybe, like five percent of the reason I just admitted this to Bella is fueled by the desperate fear that I'll be in deep, deep shit if I get caught, but the other ninety-five percent is just because I want her to know.

And maybe two weeks isn't a lot of time for some people, but it's enough for me.

A stretcher is set down next to her, and Emmett hoists me up. "I gotta go," I say apologetically.

"Look who's running now!" she says, sort of laughing-crying.

"All rise for the Honorable Carlisle Cullen."

We stand, my lawyer and I. Behind me is my mom, but that's it. Jasper and Emmett wanted to come, but Doc said no dice. I've been in solitary since the competition, but because Kimberly spoke up for me, mom lets Jasper and Emmett come over for dinner once a week.

We made it back to my house in time, almost. Dame Judy stalled out at the end of my street so we had to run and just as we reached my driveway the green flash turned to red.

Two minutes later a cop pulled up, and thankfully, Emmett, Jasper, and Ben all got away.

I tried to talk my way out of it, saying that I walked over the boundary accidentally. I thought he was going to go for it until he saw the entry stamp from the competition on the back of my hand, and the call he got over the radio from Bella's dad.

After I came clean with Doc, she gave me my phone back. She was a little pissed that a girl was sneaking into my room, but I don't know, I guess she assumed a tiny bit of access to the love of my life was not such a bad thing regardless of breaking a few rules.

Unfortunately, Bella lost hers. Her dad was none too pleased about her ninja skills. He and Bella's mom came over to our house to discuss things. I was scared shitless. I mean, the guy's mustache is even intimidating.

He threatened me, like quietly said when no one else was around that he was going to rip my balls off kind of threat, and said I'd never see his daughter again, but when Bella refused to speak to him and kept that promise for two weeks he gave in and gave her back her phone.

We're not allowed to see each other, yet, but now I get what Jasper meant by little gifts.

Speaking of Jasper, he did get laid that night, and so did Emmett. Now when they come by for their weekly dinners all I hear about are how Alice and Rosalie are the bee's knees – Jaspers words not mine.

It's cool though. I mean, yeah, when you love someone…

Oh, and Ben. Dude's a total talking to himself kind of freak still.

I asked him how I could repay him and even though he's a strange one he's pretty all right. He said I didn't need to worry about it, but I couldn't just leave it, right? I gave him the T&A magazines Doc had bought for me a while back. You'd have thought I gave him the world.

And my sister, Kimberly. She's still a pain and thinks I'm one too. If Ben or any guy ever hurts her, though? I'll totally kick his ass.

Judge Cullen walks up to the bench without even looking our way. Dude seems to be hardcore, and I think juvie might be in my future.

I can't even look at my mom I feel so bad.

He flips through the file in front of him then finally looks at us. "You may be seated," he says.

Judge Cullen glances back at his file then to us again. He kind of grins but it's hard to tell if it's a true grin or an evil one and he's about to lay down some serious shit on me. He thumbs through the papers in my file and it's so quiet in here that every one of my breaths sounds amplified.

"Thirty days extended house arrest," he says. "The stipulation that once you turn eighteen your previous violation comes off your record remains, as well as this most recent charge. We're adjourned here." He bangs his gavel.

My lawyer slaps my back. "You just got very lucky," he says, snaps his briefcase and says something to my mom.

I turn to look at her and now she's grinning kind of strange and shaking her head.

"I'd like to see Ms. Masen and Edward Masen in my chambers for a moment," Judge Cullen says.

I try to ask what's going on, but she shushes me and tells me to follow the bailiff.

Judge Cullen hangs his robe on a hook then takes a seat behind a desk, telling us to sit, too.

I figure this is where he's going to let me have it. I'm totally okay with this, because, well, he's not sending me to juvie.

"How'd they do?" he asks.


"You broke your sentence for a girl, yes? She's a cheerleader and had a big competition of some sort?"

"Yes, sir. It was the finals."

"And I understand her father is a police officer."

"Yes, sir."

"Well, how did they do?"

"They came in third, sir."

"Not bad," he says. "And the girl? Apparently, she was injured?"

"Yes, sir. She broke her ankle. I offered to pay her dad for her medical costs since it was sort of my fault she jumped."

"And are you?"

"Ah, no. I don't have a job, sir."

"Well, the gesture is very admirable of you, Edward." Judge Cullen sits back in his chair and folds his hands over his lap. "Considering the risk you took, and I'm not going to ask how you managed to get past the tracking device even though technically I should. Your statement that 'It just stopped working' doesn't really fly, but this is my court so I do what I feel is fair and necessary. I don't think you're a threat to the public. I do, however, think you acted out of passion.

"Sometimes passion can be a very bad thing, causing the person to behave...badly. Dangerously and causing harm to others. I don't think that's the case here. I also think you're young and perhaps you were thinking not entirely clearly, but your intentions were honorable. Would you agree?" he asks.

"Yes, sir. Definitely, sir."

"And we learn from our mistakes."

"Most of the time, sir."

"Edward," Mom chides.

"With all due respect, sir, Mom, Bella Swan isn't a mistake. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. See, I was following my heart." I look at Mom then. "I was afraid the moment was going to disappear." She tilts her head. "You give great advice."

Judge Cullen chuckles. "That's what I thought," he says, but then he leans toward his desk. "Now, Edward, I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't tell you that if I ever see you in my court again, or here that you've stepped just a smidgen over the line all bets are off. Books will be thrown. Understand?"

"Yes, sir. Understood, sir."

He tells us we can go. When we reach the door he says, "Esme? May I speak to you?"

Why is this dude calling my mom by her first name? Like, I'm grateful he went so easy on me, but this is my mom.

Mom asks me to wait for her in the hall and a few minutes later she comes out of his chambers. Doc's a bit flush in the cheeks. I'm not sure I like this.

"What was that all about? Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, Edward." She smiles, genuinely, and I haven't seen her look this kind of happy in a while.

I do believe I recognize this particular look of joy.

"You know him, don't you?" She giggles. My mother is giggling and I don't even want to know. "Okay, never mind."

"It's just coffee, Edward. We went to high school together. We're just having coffee next week," she says.


"Yeah, huh."

how did it go?

30 day extension

that's it?

right? and get this. the judge asked out my mom. it's strange

really? i think it's kind of cool. ur mom is hot

no. she's my mom

*rolling my eyes so hard at u*

haha how're u feeling today?

BORED! I need 2 get out of here.

i know the feeling

ha! oh yeah. i miss u SO MUCH

same here, baby doll. six more weeks til that cast comes off

come outside

now? what about ur dad?

if we're gonna be 2gether u gotta stop being scared of him

i'm not scared

u r a little

a tiny bit

he's taking a nap. come outside


I'm already waiting at the invisible perimeter line when she hobbles out on her crutches. There's a spot between our houses that's off the grid – no windows except for mine. I call it Nirvana Redux.

Bella balances on her crutches, but I wrap my arms around her waist anyway and lean down to kiss her.

I will never get tired of this, or her.

When she came home from the hospital, after surgery, she snuck a text to me and said that boning is on the table. Not hi or Frooba speak or anything else, just that single line about sex.

Obviously, I was more than ecstatic by the thought and all thoughts those five words have spawned since, but I know it's going to be a while for that to happen. I can wait.

For a little while.

"I was wondering," I say.


"Do you want to go to prom with me, ninja girl?"

Her pretty eyes go big. "How?"

"I might have an idea."