A/N: Thank you to TwiSNFan and Astro2009 for all of the things.

This week, our maximum temperatures aren't falling below 40degrees C. Every night is hot, and we're also having thunder storms, but without the downpours. So, that means lightning is striking fields and forests that are tinder-dry. To all my Aussie readers that live in bushfire-prone areas, know that I'm thinking of you. Stay safe.


Weather With You

Chapter 5

Slowly, with a few lingering little kisses, Edward's lips move away and we sit, gripping each other, foreheads touching.

"For the record," he says, sounding breathless. "You're really good at kissing back."

I delight in the feeling of having him pressed so close against me, of having his arms around me.

"I've wanted to do that pretty much since the first time I saw you," he says. "Definitely since we came here last."

My lips, which are still tingling from kissing his, stretch into a wide smile. "Likewise."

"Well," he says, stroking my cheek and then my chin with his thumb. "I'd like to do that again soon."

I can't nod too much because his forehead is against mine. "Okay."

He kisses me again and it's just as lovely as the first time, if not better. He smells like sunscreen mingled with some delicious boy smell that I've had hints of in the past few days. When our lips break apart again, I snuggle close to him and he wraps his arms around me, burying his face into my hair.

"You're shaking," I whisper.

"It's what you do to me," he says. "You've been on my mind for days."

"You too," I admit. "I've been thinking about you heaps." I blush a little. "I've been imagining what it would be like to kiss you."

He pulls back a little, and I see his green eyes gleaming. "Meet your expectations?"

"Hmm," I say, shaking my head but smiling still. "Better."

"Good." He kisses my forehead, then lets his hands trail down my arms. He weaves our fingers together. "So...swim?"

"Yeah." I squeeze his hands, and then push them away as I jump to my feet. "Race you."

"Ha!" I hear his footsteps behind me, and then they hit the jetty and we hit the water at the same time. His hands feel nothing short of delicious on my skin, and when I surface, he's right there. His hair is plastered to his head and his eyelashes are wet and clumped together, which just set off his eyes more. Even with his lips below the surface of the water, I can tell he's smiling by the way his eyes crinkle.

"Hey," I say, treading water as I feel myself drift slowly downstream.

"G'day," he says back, seemingly using far less effort to stay in the same place.

I don't want to end up in the reeds, so I start skulling backwards towards the bank, and Edward follows. I reach the jetty and grab hold of the wood, and Edward sidles up next to me. Beneath the water, I feel his hand on my waist. I squirm a bit because it tickles, and then something hits me.

"Wait," I say, the happy fluttering that's been happening in my tummy suddenly turning uneasy. "I know we just met…" I squint my eyes closed. "God, you must think I'm a slut. We've only known each other a few days and I kissed you already." My cheeks flame, despite the cool water surrounding me. "Shit. I'm not like that."

"Bella, hang on." Edward comes even closer. With his free hand, he pushes my wet hair over one shoulder. "I don't think that at all. I know what you're like. I know, from what Grandma has told me, and who your dad is, and seeing you yesterday in your natural environment." He drops his voice. "I'm not like that either. I mean, I'm not some kind of player."

"I didn't—"

"Neither did I," he says, his voice soft. "Bella, I've…"—he takes a deep breath—"I've only kissed two girls."

"Since you've been here?" I ask, my eyes wide.

"No," he says, and I see his cheeks pink up a bit. "Ever."

I ponder this for a minute, and let the words fall out slowly. "Before me?"

This time, his face is properly red. He looks bloody adorable, all bashful and stuff. "Including you."

The look on my face is probably pretty comical. I can't believe it—Edward is one of the best-looking boys I've seen. In my life.

"I told you," he says, and he turns his face away from me. "I'm not like that."

"Hey," I say, and this time it's me who moves closer. "I didn't mean anything. And I'm not judging you." He quirks an eyebrow at me, and I shake my head. "I'm not. I actually think it's…"—I trail a finger along his arm, watching the goosebumps rise as I do it—"...kinda hot."

Edward peeks at me out of the corner of his eye. "Really?"

"Yeah," I say, ducking in between him and the dock. "You'd never be able to tell. I think you're extremely good at it." And compared with my not-so-lengthy experience of one drunken pash at a party earlier in the year, and a dare when I was fourteen, he tops my list.

Feeling bold, and a whole lot of turned on by the shy boy in front of me, I grab the back of his neck and pull his mouth onto mine. I feel his lips smile before something different takes over, and I'm pressed into the post on the corner of the jetty. It digs in a bit, but I barely notice. Wrapping my arms around his neck, my nipples are on high beam as our chests press together, and I'm lost in the feeling of tongues, hands, and…

"Did I hurt you?" he asks, pulling away when I moan.

"No," I say with a gasp. "Not at all."

He pulls his hips away from me. "Fuck. Sorry," he says between breaths.

"Don't be." I struggle to catch my own breath. "It's fine."

"Didn't mean to accost you," he says, and he presses a small, chaste kiss to my lips. "I'm kind of curious though. Have you…" He lets the words skim the surface of the water, and I shake my head.

"No." And my own curiosity gets the better of me. "Have you…?"

He shakes his head emphatically. "No. A bit of mucking around, but not...that."

"Me neither," I say. With my arms still around his neck, he floats us into where the willow tree is and the water is shallower. We slip beneath the canopy of the willow, and it feels like we're in a green-curtained room.

"Why do I just tell you stuff?" Edward says, like he's wondering aloud. "It's like I just...I don't know. I can't help myself."

"I think it's a good thing, don't you?" I say. "I mean, you don't have to tell me everything, but...I kind of like that you're comfortable with me."

"Yeah," he says, pulling me close again with a grin. "I think you're very comfortable."

As our skin presses together, I giggle. "Likewise."

We swim around, and kiss a bit more, until we're pruny and wrinkled. The sun still has a bite to it when we get out, and my bathers are almost dry by the time we reach the house. We decide not to change in case we go for another swim later, but I do chuck on my singlet top and shorts before we settle back on the couch with more food and some soft drinks to watch the cricket. At some stage, we both doze off, wrapped around each other on the couch.

The cricket is still on when I blearily open my eyes, having sensed someone near. When I jump with a start, I wake Edward. I'm not able to sit up properly, because Edward puts me in an iron grip. "Don't move," he mumbles sleepily.

Liz is standing between us and the TV, staring. I know her pretty well, so I swear she's trying to hide her smile. "Cuppa?" she asks casually.

"Grandma?" Edward says, sounding confused. I tilt my head to see his face, and slowly a big sleepy smile spreads across his features. "Love one," he says with a yawn. "Ta."

"You too, Bella?" Liz's lips press even more firmly together as I nod silently.

She leaves, headed for the kitchen, and it's not until she's safely behind the dividing wall that I hear her laugh. Edward's echoing chuckle is low in my ear.

_._._._._

I'm not late when I walk into work the next morning, but I'm pushing it. As the bell dings when I walk in, Emmett is slumped over the counter.

"Mate?" I say hesitantly, slipping behind the counter and setting my bag underneath it. "You right?" The only response I get is a deep groan that could rattle the windows. I laugh. "Oi. You right?" I ask again.

"I'm never fucking drinking Beam again," he says, lifting his head from the counter. "And my dad is a fucking arsehole."

This time, I properly crack up. "What did you do this time?"

"Ugh." Emmett rubs his face, and his unshaven jaw sounds scratchy. "Watched the cricket yesterday. Then went to Sambo's after for a few frothies."

"And bourbon, apparently," I say, pulling the hair tie from my wrist and putting my hair up in a ponytail.

"Yeah." Emmett groans again. "Then when I got home, I woke up Dad. I crashed, and then he woke me at four o'clock in the fucking morning to run the papers."

I gasp. "How? There's no way you'd be able to drive!"

He smacks his lips together and grimaces. "Bastard made me do it on me pushie."

Holy fuck, I thought I was in bad shape. This sends me into hysterics, and Emmett gives me the finger. "What about you? You're hardly looking like a spring chicken yourself, Bells. Big one?"

"Nah," I say, smiling a bit as I head for the sink behind the other counter that has the pie warmer. "Just slept in a bit." As I talk, I fill up the kettle and switch it on, and pull two mugs out of the cupboard above the sink. Dale's mentioned getting a coffee machine, but for now, instant is going to have to do for the both of us. If it's not too busy, one of us might get time to run to the bakery later to get a real coffee.

I peer over the pie warmer to where Emmett is still standing, looking like shit. "Why are you even here?" I ask. "Shouldn't you be sleeping?"

He shakes his head. "Nah. Part of my education is that I got Mum's shift this morning. Dad thought she deserved a sleep in."

"Well, you should at least go shower first," I say as the kettle switches off. I start pouring. "You smell like the piggery."

Emmett sniffs himself—gross—and then moves towards the back door, scratching his tummy on the way. "Right-o," he says. "I'll be back in a sec."

"I got it," I reply, dumping two spoons of sugar into his cup. I hand it to him on his way past. "We've probably got half an hour before it gets busy."

He mumbles his thanks, and then he's gone, into the house where I'm sure a world of pain from Dale awaits him. I shake my head, and with my mug in hand, head back to the counter. Sure enough, the bell above the door rings, and my day has properly begun.

_._._._._

This morning, I've had all my regulars. I have the same conversations, and sell the same stuff I usually do, but I like it—it's familiar. The last few days have been so crazily hectic that it's nice to have a bit of routine back.

But thinking about the next few days...something new is good, too. A break in routine is really good. Edward's lazy grin appears in my mind, and I find myself smiling back.

"Earth to Bella...come in, Bella…" I'm shaken out of my daydream by Emmett's hand waving in front of my face. "Mate, where'd you go?"

"What?" I grab a cloth and start hurriedly wiping the counter. "Nothing. I'm right here."

"Sure you are," he says, resting an elbow on the counter. He cocks his head to the side, and he's got that same gleam in his eye that Dale gets right before he chucks ice at me from the ice machine. "So, whatcha doin' this arvo?"

I shrug, but a smile tickles at the corners of my mouth again. "Dunno. Just hanging 'round."

"''Cause Tay's dad's letting him borrow the boat. We're going to head out the river." He pauses. "Well, they're already there, but I'm gonna go after work." He grins. "Wanna come?"

I hesitate, because my plans for this afternoon consisted of seeing what Edward was doing. And ringing Ange—I got a 'save me' text from her last night. I really need to ring her.

"I dunno," I say slowly. "I was going to see what Ange was doing…"

"Bring her," he says quickly. "Rick's going, so he'll be stoked if she comes." He shrugs, and tries to pass off refilling the lollies on the counter as casual, which is ridiculous—Emmett doesn't do casual. "You can even bring that guy that came to the Club on Christmas Eve, if you like. What was his name? Ed-something?"

"Edward," I say quickly, and the smile that's been hiding beneath the surface breaks through. "Um, yeah. I guess I could ask."

"Heard he came to your joint for Christmas," he says, still stuffing Freddo Frogs into the box. He's putting half of them in backwards.

"Yeah?" I say, heading over to the sink to rinse out my cloth. "Where'd you hear that?"

"Jake," he replies. "He went out to Sambo's, too."

"Ugh," I say, wrinkling my nose because there's a high chance that if there were a bunch of blokes at Sambo's, drinking, someone probably tried to start shit—and it probably wasn't Jake. "How was that?"

Emmett shrugs, but he stops filling the box for a sec. "A bit weird." He stuffs the last of the Freddos in, like he's a bit pissed off. "Paul was a bit of a dickhead."

"That's nothing new," I say, scowling. "Paul's always a dickhead." I sigh, and a feeling of melancholy settles over me. Jake's who he is—while he hasn't told everybody in so many words, we all know. He doesn't pick up girls at parties—or anywhere else, for that matter—but blind Freddie could see he's had a thing for Sambo since about year ten, and I think the feeling's mutual. "Jake told me on Chrissie he's moving to Sydney."

"Yeah," says Emmett, squashing the empty carton and throwing it on the pile of yesterday's papers that need to go for recycling. His voice sounds like how I feel. "Sambo said the same thing yesterday."

Neither of us need to say anything else—but we both know Sambo and Jake have a better chance of being really happy up in Sydney, far away from the buzzing gossip-mill and small-town bullshit that goes on in Forks Creek. Sambo and Jake are our mates. And you don't rag on your mates. Not for something serious like this.

"So," says Emmett, his tone lighter. "River?"

"Yeah, sounds good." I look up when the bell dings, and Mrs. Biers comes in. I shift my attention back to Emmett. "I'm going to restock the milk." I pat his chest, and nod in Mrs Biers' direction. "Consider this part of your education."

Emmett groans quietly as Mrs Biers greets him with all of the enthusiasm she has. She always told me she thought he was a handsome boy. She'll keep him talking for ages, and the look I see on Emmett's face right before I duck into the coolroom tells me he knows it.

_._._._._

"Thank God you're here!" says Ange as I wander through the sliding door that goes into the kitchen. "I'm about to kill them both. I swear. I'll kill them 'til they're dead."

"Oh, come on," I say. "They're not that bad, are they?" Just then, I have to duck because out of nowhere comes a tiny flying helicopter. It nearly scalps me on its way past. "Hey! What the…?"

"See?" Ange dives for cover beneath the kitchen bench. "Who the hell gives them remote controlled flying devices? Did nobody learn from the ankle assaults from the remote control cars last year?" Keeping her head low, she dashes for the kitchen table, grabbing her bag and towel. "Mum!" she yells. "I'm off!"

"Okay!" Mrs Weber calls back. "Will you be home for tea?"

Ange throws me a look, and I shake my head. We'll grab something later. "Nah!" she yells back.

"Have fun! Ring if you're going to be late."

Ange rushes for the door, narrowly avoiding being hit by a helicopter. "Will do! See ya!"

We make it out the door and manage to close it, just in time to hear one of the helicopters smash into it.

"Let's go," she says, already headed for my ute. She lays her towel down on the seat and climbs in, and once I'm in, I crank the engine. It roars to life, and I rest my arm across the top of the bench seat to better see when I'm backing out of her driveway. Like always, Ange immediately takes charge of the radio, plugging in her phone and scrolling to something summery. We drive through town with the windows wound down, Ange's feet on the dash and her arm out the window.

"So…" she says. "Rick's going?"

I grin. She likes him as much as he apparently likes her. "Yeah, that's what Emmett said."

She shrugs, but I can see her smiling. "Cool."

"I just have to grab my stuff," I say, smiling as we pass the gated garden that Edward and I walked through the other night. "And pick up Edward, and we're good to go."

Ange giggles. "Haven't you done that yet?" she says, batting her eyelashes. "Picked him up? God, Bella. Slow much?"

"Oh, I did that." I say as we pass the shop. I try to remain nonchalant, but a squeal is bubbling in my throat.

Ange's jaw just about hits the floor of the ute. "Fuck off!" she says slowly. "Did you pash him?" When I press my lips together and say nothing, she slaps me on my bare arm. "You did! You fucking well did! Ha! I knew it!"

"How?" I ask. "It's not like you're psychic."

"I just knew. The way you talked about him. That's not you. Well, it wasn't. I s'pose you were just waiting for the right guy." She turns the radio down, signifying that this conversation is about to get serious. "Is he? The right guy, I mean."

This time, there's no hiding the smile that creeps across my face. I'm surprised my cheeks haven't exploded with all the smiling I've been doing lately. "Yeah," I say. "I mean, it's only been a coupla days, but" —I take a deep breath and let it out— "yeah. He's the right guy."

Ange drums her thighs with her hands. "Eeeep!"

"Shut up," I say, rolling my eyes a bit even though I want to make the same noise. "It's early days. Like, really early days."

"When you know, you know," she says sagely. And then she makes that squealy noise again, totally removing all traces of seriousness from the car. I find myself giggling, and then squealing with her. And when the best Aussie summer song comes on, we sing along at the top of our lungs, windows down, and the warm summer air blowing through our hair. I look over at Ange, and warm with the fact that I don't have to be anywhere right now. I have my bestie, I have sunshine, and this afternoon I just might kiss a really great boy. And the best feeling fills my veins.

Freedom.

_._._._._

My dad adores Ange.

I think he likes the way we became friends. We were in year 8, and we were both pretty shy. This one day—I think it was because I had beaten Alice in a maths test—Alice got really shitty. So she'd been a bitch, not making room for me at one of the tables at lunch so I had to stand at the end because there wasn't anywhere else to sit.

I'd only been at Forks Creek High a couple of months, but by then, I already knew Alice was trouble—I just hadn't been there long enough to know how to handle her. But Ange had: even though she was shy, she offered me her spot. And then she sat on the table, putting her bum right in Alice's face. Alice had told me to move, and Ange—the minister's daughter—promptly told her to fuck off and stop being a nasty bitch.

Ange and I have been best friends ever since.

"Angela!" Charlie greets her as we walk in, setting down the knife he's using to carve the ham so he can spread his arms wide. "My favourite daughter!"

"Hey!" I protest, at the same time Ange gives him a big hug. "What about me?"

"Sarge! My favourite Sarge!" She hugs him tight. "Merry Christmas!"

"You too, love," he says, releasing her.

I blow a raspberry at both of them, and head straight for the fridge to pick out some food to take with us out the river. "We're going to head out the river," I say, my head still in the fridge. I spy some leftover smoked trout and cheeses. "Tay's dad's letting him borrow the boat."

Charlie starts putting together his sandwich. "No worries," he says. "But be careful. There was a bunch of yobbos out there last night." He shakes his head, as if he's remembering last night's shift. It must've been big—he was still passed out when I went to work this morning.

"We'll be right," I tell him, setting the food on the kitchen bench. "The boys will all be there, and Tay knows how serious it is if his dad gives him the boat."

"I know you will," says Charlie, and he takes a bite of his sandwich. His moustache twitches, and I don't know if he's smiling or eating. He swallows—he's smiling. "Taking Edward with you?"

"Yeah," I say, super-casually. Behind Charlie, Ange is making kissy faces. I'm pretty sure Charlie would take it the wrong way if I gave her the finger. Instead, I say, "Ange? Grab the esky out of the laundry, will you?"

"Sure thing, Bella," she sings, and heads towards the laundry. "It's clean, isn't it, Charlie? No fish guts?"

"Yeah." Charlie grabs the paper and picks up his plate. "Scrubbed it out real good before Christmas."

As Charlie walks into the lounge room to eat and, I assume, watch the cricket, Ange and I sort out a heap of leftovers to take with us. As we cram in as much as we can fit around the ice packs, Ange asks, "Any pav left?"

"Nah," I say, cutting off a chunk of Christmas cake and then slicing it into manageable pieces. "Edward ate it all yesterday."

"Is that all he ate?" I look up to see Ange waggling her eyebrows.

"Oh my God!" I hiss. "Ange!"

"What?" she asks, eyes wide. "Fair question. You said you pashed, I was just wondering—"

"Not that," I say, hiding beneath the bench under the guise of digging through a drawer to find aluminium foil, but in reality, hiding the raging redness that's engulfed my body. I feel like I'm about to catch fire. "You know I've never…" I clear my throat. "And besides. I only kissed him yesterday."

"Shh," she says, hushing me in thankfully a much quieter voice than she used a few minutes ago. I peek my head up, and she peers in the direction of the lounge. When she seems satisfied that Charlie is otherwise occupied, she speaks again. "I'm just saying. If he's nice, and you're obviously attracted to each other, right?" I nod. "Well, it might be a good chance for you to get some...experience. You know, before uni."

I set the alfoil down and think about it for a second. It's a bit weird for Ange to suggest this, but I know she doesn't mean that she thinks Edward is expendable. Her experience is less than mine, much to her disappointment. Many wouldn't know it, but Ange's hormones are so highly strung that I don't know how she gets the marks in school that she does. And guys tend to keep a greater distance from her than they do me—because Ange is the minister's daughter. While many of the boys in our year would love the challenge, none would dare. And it drives her nuts.

All this sounds pretty rich coming from the Sarge's daughter.

Maybe she has a point, but Edward's not like that...and neither am I. I don't want to think of him as someone to practise with. I want...more. "Yeah, nah. I mean, I want it to be special."

Ange takes the foil and Christmas cake from me and starts wrapping. "Is Edward special?"

I nod. That one's easy. "Yeah."

Her eyes remain focussed on her task "Just think about it. He's a nice guy, he's hot. I'm sure he'd oblige."

I don't say anything else, because although Ange is my best friend and she knows pretty much everything about me, I don't want to betray Edward's trust—what we have has been just between the two of us. I want to keep it that way.

Picking up my phone, I scroll through to the newest addition to my contacts. He put it there last night when Liz made him walk me home at the respectable hour of ten PM...and then we texted each other until two AM. That's why I was almost late to work. I text Edward to ask what he's doing, and then almost swoon when a reply comes back straight away.

"Is that him?" Ange asks. She hurries around to my side of the bench to read over my shoulder. I try to hide the phone, but I'm not quick enough. "'Hopefully spending it with a beautiful girl,'" she reads. "Ooh! What did you say to him?"

As I tap another reply to Edward, I tell her, "Just asked what he was doing this afternoon."

"Aww!" Ange pulls up a stool and sits down, propping her chin on her hands. "That's so cute. What are you saying now?"

My phone chimes, and I quickly reply again. "Just that we'll pick him up in fifteen. I'm going to get changed."

Ange badgers me with questions the whole time I get changed out of my work gear and into more river-appropriate wear. I plonk a straw hat on my head, and we wave to Charlie on the way through.

"I'm working again later," he says. "So I probably won't be here when you get home. Not getting a day off 'til the third when all these tourists piss off home." He grumbles a bit, but I know he loves his job. It's just this time of year that shits him.

"Sorry, Dad," I say, a little sympathetic. I worry about him at this time of year, too. As far as crime rates go, Forks Creek is a blip on the radar. Doesn't mean that there's no risk with a mob of drunk tourists. "Be safe. I'll see you in the morning, yeah?"

"Yeah," he grumps. "Have fun."

Ange and I carry the Esky between us out to the ute and slide it into the tray, up near the cabin. We toss our bags in too, and pile in. It's only about three minutes later when I pull up in Liz's circular driveway. Before I can get to the door, Edward is already walking towards me.

"Hey," he says, smiling. He's wearing a cap pulled down low, and his sunglasses. The shoulders I had my arms wrapped around yesterday are beneath a white t-shirt and he's wearing his board shorts again. From the open window of the ute, I hear Ange whistle. Thankfully, Edward doesn't seem to hear it.

"Hi," I say back, and I suddenly feel all fluttery.

He walks closer, and leans down to place a kiss on my cheek. His eyes dart behind me for a minute. "Is this yours?" he asks, tilting his head towards my ute.

"Yeah," I say. "Why?"

"No reason," he replies, rolling his towel and stuffing it between the esky and the cabin. "Just saw it in the driveway the other day. Thought it was Charlie's."

I grin proudly. "Nope, all mine. Even paid for it with my own money."

"Uh huh," he says lowly, and he's got that same restrained tone he had yesterday. Just then, Ange coughs loudly and it catches his attention. "Hi," he says, extending his hand. "I'm Edward."

Ange shakes back. "Ange. I've heard heaps about you."

Even behind Edward's glasses, I see him raise an eyebrow. "Oh really?" He's smirking. That's the only way to describe it.

I nudge him towards the passenger side. "Don't get a big head," I tell him. "You won't fit in the car."

"Might be especially hard since you're riding bitch," calls Ange, hopping out to make room. "G'on. In ya get."

"Ta," he says, but he's still smirking. Ange throws me a look across the top of the car that pretty much tells me I've done well, and I roll my eyes as I get in.

"Okay then," I say, turning the key. The engine roars to life. "Off we go, then."

_._._._._

Coming to the river was a really good idea. It's about the only quiet spot within twenty minutes of Forks Creek, because this part of the river bank belongs to Tay's family—their farm backs right up to the river and their land stretches along it for a mile or so. So while the yobbos that Charlie is chasing are all in the public campgrounds further downstream, right here it's quiet and secluded, with only us here.

The car ride here was nothing short of torture. Torture, because Edward's thigh was pressed against mine the whole time, and each time I had to reach for the gearstick by the steering wheel, my arm brushed along his. He made no effort to shift over—I could almost say he was probably enjoying it. I sure was.

The kiss I got as soon as we arrived pretty much sealed my thinking that coming here was a brilliant idea.

We'd pulled up at the river bank where my friends were gathered, and I parked, still in the shade but far enough away from potential falling river gum branches. Ange had bundled out and straight away headed over to where Jess was sunning herself, but Edward stopped me.

"Wait," he said. I shut the car door, and suddenly I was caged in his arms. He maintained about an inch between our bodies as he leaned down towards me. "I need to do something."

"Yeah?" I asked, tilting my hat back to see him better.

"You drive a ute," he said lowly. "Do you have any idea how fucking hot that is?"

Biting my lip, I shook my head. "No."

"Well," he said, reaching up to flip his hat around. "It is."

All distance was lost as he pressed his body against mine, sandwiching me between him and the car, and kissing me in a way that turned my knees to water and my bones to jelly.

It's a few hours later when we're sitting on the log that stretches into the water, my feet swirling in the river. Edward nuzzles my shoulder. "What you smiling about?"

I blush...just for something new. "Honestly?"

He drops a kiss to my shoulder. "I always want you to be honest with me."

Crossing my ankles doesn't really help quell the tingling that's going on in my lower belly. I take a deep breath, and speak in the lowest whisper. "The way you kissed me when we arrived."

He hums against my skin, and then his arm wraps around me and his lips move to below my jaw bone. "You liked it?"

I breathe the words. "Very much."

He sucks gently below my ear, making my breath catch and making me really wish my friends weren't here right now. "Me, too."

"Oi! You two!" Emmett's voice booms across the water. I ignore him. "Bella!"

I roll my eyes, and reluctantly put a respectable distance between myself and Edward. "What do you want, idiot?"

"Aww, don't be like that," he says, splashing through the shallow water of the sandbar towards us. He's like a bloody wounded bull the way he crashes around the place.

"Just because you're shitty that Rosie isn't here," I say teasingly. Emmett reaches down and splashes me, getting more on Edward in the process who just shakes it off, laughing.

"Sorry, Ed," says Emmett. "Just meant to get the shrew, here."

I splash back, as much as I can reach. "Stop being a dickhead," I tell him. "What do you want?"

"What are you two doing for New Year's?" he asks, and it makes me fluttery inside. Like he's asking us...like we're a couple.

"Haven't decided yet," says Edward, reaching towards me to hold my hand. I weave my fingers through his, and try to keep a grip on myself.

"We were just talking," says Emmett. "Rosie's back tomorrow, and a bunch of us were thinking of coming back here to camp. Thought we might stay a few days."

"Hmm…" I think it over. "I have to work" —I lift my hand to shade my eyes— "and so do you, Emmett."

"I know," he says, splashing again. "But I'm going to come back into town in the afternoons to work, then come out after."

I glance over to where Alice is making a big show of making sure she doesn't fall out of her bathers top. "What about Brandon?"

"Fuck her," says Emmett quickly. "She's not invited."

"She's gonna spew," I say, matter of factly.

"Nobody cares," Emmett replies, and Edward chuckles. "Besides, she said she was going to the Club for New Year's." Emmett tips his head to the side. "Come on, Bells. Ange is going to. It'll be fun. It's our last hurrah." He glances Edward's way. "What about you, Ed?"

Edward shrugs. "Sounds good to me."

Watching my toes disappear beneath the water, I bite my lip as I think about it. The Club for New Year's, which is pretty much the only other option, doesn't appeal to me. But the chance to spend this New Year's, the last one where all my friends will be in the same place, sounds really good. We'll be away from the crazy of town, with just good mates, a few beers, and a campfire if it's not a total fire ban day. And of course, Edward...and a tent.

"Yeah, okay," I say, and Emmett fist pumps. I put my free hand up. "I'll have to check with the Sarge. He still might say no."

"He'll be right," says Emmett confidently. "He loves me." I stare at him in disbelief, and he nods emphatically. "Fair dinkum. He knows we'll look after you."

I watch as Emmett splashes off to where Ange is perched on Rick's shoulders. It would seem that they're the apparent reigning champs in a chicken fight war, and Ange is goading Jess and Mick into challenging them. I have to smile at the sight of Rick's face—he's grinning widely, unbothered by Ange's waving and swaying. If they're not kissing by New Year's, I'll happily eat my straw hat for tea.

And it hits me how much I'm going to miss everybody.

"You suit it here." Edward's voice is quiet beside me. I turn to look at him, and he's smiling.

"What do you mean?" I ask.

He waves his hand around. "Here. Like this. It suits you, but I get that you want bigger things." He brushes my now-dry hair off my shoulder. "You're so much bigger than this town."

I look down at the water, biting my lip and feeling a bit embarrassed. "I don't know. I'm a bit worried I'm going to get lost in the city. You know?" I huff out a breath. "There's so many people..."

"You won't," he says, tilting my chin up to look at him. He sets his green-eyed gaze on me, but it's soft as he holds me still. "You'll be fine. And I'm pretty sure the sunshine will follow you anywhere you decide to you go."

"Thanks," I say. "Will…" I dig the words up that are wrapped around a ball of anxiety in my tummy. This boy is sunshine all on his own. "Will you be there, too?"

He grins. "Yep."

And then I lean towards him, letting my lips find his.


A/N: I adore the reactions I've had through reviews. Each one brings a smile to my face. Thank you to anybody who's recommended this.

We're reaching the end of this story. I've enjoyed writing it immensely. Thank you for reading :)

Definitions:

Soft drink - Soda. Or pop. Or whatever you want to call it depending on where you are.

Lollies - Aussie word for candy.

Freddo Frogs - the best reward a kid can get when you go to a corner shop (general store). They're little chocolate frogs and they come in yummy flavours. They tend to melt at this time of year, and then the frog's faces get all smooshy and creased.

Frothies - Slang word for beers.

Joint - In this instance, it's slang for 'house'.

Pash - Appropriate US reference would probably be 'make out'. A 'make out session' in Aus might be called a pash fest.

To pick up - To hook up. Usually for a pash.

Aluminium foil (or alfoil for short) - tin foil.

Yeah, nah - I hadn't realised how much I say this personally until an American pointed it out to me. It basically means, "Yes, I hear what you're saying, but I don't agree with you."

Pushie - short for push bike. Or bike, if you want to simplify it even further.

Chrissie - short for Christmas.

"You don't rag on your mates." - You don't pick on them or give them a hard time. Especially true for something serious, as mentioned in the story. Mates are mates—and you always stick up for them. Even when they're being a wanker.

Fair dinkum - Best translation I can come up with is: that's the absolute truth. If you say fair dinkum, you're serious. It can also be used as a question eg. fair dinkum? As in, is that the absolute truth? It's funny what you realise when you really listen to people—I've noticed that more people say this than I thought. I guess I'm just used to hearing it.