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Not to alarm you but I think I’m about to have a coronary

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Forks is quiet; that’s her first impression.

 

Her second impression as she steps out onto the gravel is that her father’s old house looks exactly the same- almost to the point that she expects to see the old swing set that she got for Christmas when she was eight years old still around the side of the house.

 

She’s relieved to see that it’s not though.

 

“Jeez, pops, have you even dusted the cobwebs at all in the last five years or what?”

 

She’s teasing him, and the twitch of his lips tells her he knows it.

 

“And just when would I have time for that, Bella?” he replies, lifting one of two heavy suitcases from the boot of his cruiser. “Between running this town and fishing with the boys- I barely have the time to drink!”

 

“I don’t believe that for a second.”

 

His beer belly tells another story.

 

He helps to carry her suitcases inside, and Bella takes a moment to look upon the house she grew up in. The trees around the house have grown larger- almost as though the surrounding woods are encroaching. Clearly, she thinks, Charlie hasn’t had much time for yard maintenance either. With it’s high roof and weathered white boards, the house reminds her of a slightly bigger cottage from a fairy tale that she can’t remember the name of. All around her is green and everything has a distinct dampness to it that, immediately, Bella remembers she likes.

 

It’s a nice change from the dry hustle of Phoenix, Arizona.

 

Her bedroom is on the top floor- the same as when she was a kid. There’s a double bed, a desk, a wardrobe and a single dresser, and the walls are painted a simple light grey.

 

“Thank god, you painted in here,” she says as she hauls one of her suitcases on the bed. She flashes Charlie a grin, adding, “The pale pink of my childhood still gives me nightmares.”

 

Charlie laughs. “Yeah, figured you’d outgrown the princess stage of your life.”

 

“Oh, I dunno, I could get behind rescuing one these days,” she jokes, throwing open her suitcase, “Be their knight in lesbian plaid- be rewarded for my heroism.”

 

“Not something I need to think about, kid, so that’s when I leave you to it,” Charlie responds, “Come down when you’re done. Got a surprise waiting for you in the garage.”

 

“Will do, pops.”

 

The surprise turns out to be an old truck, and Bella falls in love with it instantly. It’s in rough shape, but it runs, and it beats having to walk to the school bus stop in the rain. Naturally though, her first day of school, there’s literal fucking blue skies and sunshine. That’ll teach her to be presumptuous.

 

She sees faces that are familiar- some she even used to play with down by the park near her house, but she has no interest in trying to fit into their lives now. She’s content to keep to herself for the most part, but fate has other ideas, and soon a girl is taking the seat next to her in English and Bella recognises her immediately.

 

“Good to see you’ve finally come home,” Angela tells her, bumping shoulders playfully, “Hasn’t been the same without you. How’re you settling in?”

 

Growing up, she and Angela were thick as thieves, but as with most things, their friendship just grew apart when she decided to stay in Phoenix. They talk quietly and catch up throughout the lesson- Bella doesn’t really hear much of what the teacher says, and afterwards, Angela invites Bella to come sit at their table during lunch.

 

When she comes home from her first day of school- a Friday, Charlie’s already home. He’s pulling a six pack from the fridge, and immediately Bella is suspicious.

 

“We’ve been invited to dinner at the Black’s place,” he tells her, noticing her expression, “You don’t have to come if you’re not up to it, but they’d be thrilled to see you. Jake and Leah will be there.”

 

The thought is a little uncomfortable- Bella left them all behind when she left with Renee, and yeah, maybe she came back to visit during her summer breaks, but she stopped doing even that after the age of twelve. It was too much of a hassle, she’d told her mother, to have to fly halfway across the country and practically live out of a suitcase. Plus, she was almost a teenager- she didn’t want to be spending her summer vacation in the sleepy little town of Forks with her father. She wanted to hang out with her friends from school, go to the water parks, sneak out to parties and get drunk, and do all that other dumb shit that teenagers do.

 

So, yeah, Bella is feeling a little awkward when they arrive at the Black’s house. She parks her truck by the shed and as soon as her foot hits the gravel, her name is being called and soon she’s being lifted into the air and spun around in circles, and the world keeps spinning as Jacob plants her back on the ground. Leah is there, too, holding out an arm for Bella to steady herself on. They’re both grinning, and she’s soon joining them. The good mood is contagious.

 

Bella’s been worrying over nothing.

 

Fuck, Jacob, take it easy, man,” Leah’s voice is exactly as she remembers it. “They don’t make em as tough as they do on the Rez. Look at you, Bella,” she adds, grabbing Bella into her own hug, “Has Renee been keeping you locked away in the basement or what?”

 

Admittedly, Bella Swan is probably more pale than one would expect from someone who spent the last five years of her life in the desert. Sunscreen and hats were her best friend under the glaring sun, so a tan was mostly out of the question. Her pale complexion does nothing to hide the way her face flushes in embarrassment.

 

“Fuck off,” she mutters as they laugh at her, “We can’t all be gifted with whatever the fuck you two have going on. Some of us are cursed to be this sickly forever.”

 

“Nah, we’ve seen sickly, Bella, and you aren’t it.” Jacob assures her, slapping her on the shoulder. It makes her stumble slightly and he snorts. “Oops, my bad. You alright?”

 

As Leah throws an arm around her shoulders and the three of them make their way up to the house, Bella wonders if she should be asking them the same question, because fuck it, they’re both hot. Not like, hot hot (although yes, they’re that as well, holy shit), but Bella thinks maybe they’re both running a fever. She’s starting to sweat under Leah’s touch and it has absolutely nothing to do with how handsome Bella thinks her short haircut is.

 

“Dude, why are you both so hot?” Bella asks as they climb the creaky steps to the front door. Jacob pauses ahead of them, shooting Bella a smirk and it’s mirrored by Leah’s next to her, but Bella huffs and smacks her friend in the side before either of them can open their mouths. “Not like that, you creeps. Seriously, are you sick? You’re both really warm.”

 

Leah shrugs her arm off with a grin. “It’s how we roll down here, Bella. Better a nice warm body to cuddle up to on cold nights, eh?”

 

Jacob disappears inside, following the smell of food, and Bella is left on the front porch with Leah, who is looking at her in ways that aren’t quite as innocent as Bella remembers them being.

 

“I don’t know, I like the cold. I’m kind of a warm sleeper anyway.” Bella says, and it’s true. In Arizona, she couldn’t sleep without the air con on. Here- she’s taken to running a fan at night and sleeping in her underwear because Charlie has the heat up so high. She shoves Leah toward the door. “Don’t look so put out- it’s not a good look for you. Now move, I’m hungry and your pouting is keeping me from your mum’s amazing chocolate chip cookies.”

 

“How do you know she baked cookies?”

 

“Because cookies are love and Sue loves me.”

 

“That doesn’t mean she baked you cookies.”

 

“It absolutely does- I’m confident there’s gonna be soft, gooey goodness waiting for me. Now move it.”

 

Of course, just as she knew there would be, Sue has tasty cookies waiting for her on the kitchen counter. Everyone greets Bella with hugs and kind words, and it’s like no time has passed at all. They don’t care how long she’s been gone- they welcome her back, welcome her home, and Bella realises later that night, as they’re all laughing around the fire and roasting marshmallows, that she’s missed this.

 

Leah holds her hand as they walk to the car later that night. Charlie is still inside saying his goodbyes- the moon is a few days out from being full, the stars are bright, and Bella is full and happy after an evening of food and laughing. And Leah? Leah is as handsome as she’s always been. Bella knows what she wants, and honestly, she’s not sure who takes the first step, but soon Bella has Leah against the side of her truck and they’re kissing.

 

Bella and Leah have always been close, but they’re older now. Desire settles in the pit of Bella’s stomach, so when Leah breathlessly asks her to come hang out with her the next day, Bella recognises the look in her friend’s eyes. She not unfamiliar with it.

 

She grins and leans in for another kiss- softer this time. “You want me to bring snacks?”

 

Leah’s own grin borders on indecent as she growls, “Only you.”

 

The next day, Bella turns up and they decide the weather is too fine to waste indoors. They pack some light snacks and a blanket (they’re having a picnic and it’s kind of adorable) and they head off into the woods on paths they used to explore when they were younger. Leah tells her she knows of a nice spot not far off the track where they can soak up the sunshine, and honestly, when they arrive, Bella’s a little blown away by it. It’s a meadow of flowers, all kinds of wonderful colours, and there’s a small creek at the far end that trickles softly in her ear.

 

It’s perfect, and it’s the first time in a long time Bella’s sat down for a picnic.

 

It’s also the first time Bella’s fooled around in the woods.

 

 

 

 

 

It takes a week of fine weather for the clouds to roll back in and for the rain to settle in. Bella doesn’t mind, and she’s surprised to see that it isn’t dampening her mood. She leans against the hood of her truck on Monday morning waiting for class to start, and soon Angela and the others join her. She’s sharing a cigarette with Mike and listening to Jessica and Lauren talk about an upcoming musical festival in Seattle they want to go to, when Bella finally sees them.

 

She’s heard all about them in her first week here- the Cullens. Bella thinks her friends are exaggerating when they tell her that the entire family are insanely beautiful, because honestly, how is that even possible? Obviously it isn’t genetics- they aren’t related. Their father is a Doctor at Forks Hospital, and their mother is a stay at home mom, who spends her spare time looking after their adoptive kids and cooking meals for the homeless.

 

They sound a little too perfect, if Bella’s being completely honest with herself.

 

Bella has her doubts, but now, face to face with the Cullen siblings, she can say with absolute certainty that her friends are not exaggerating. Even the boys are beautiful, and Bella doesn’t really know how to feel about that because as a rule, she doesn’t notice boys. One’s so big that he reminds her of a bear, and the other two are smaller- quieter in their appearance but, she can tell, no less confident. She doesn’t have to worry about her male fascination for long though, because they’re easily forgotten when the driver of the Jeep steps out.

 

“Holy shit,” she breathes out slowly, unable to contain herself. “Who is she?

 

She barely registers that there’s another sister in the Cullen clan- the driver has her full attention. Her new friends follow her stare and Mike, who has just taken the cigarette from her, snorts in laughter. “Which one?”

 

“The blonde.” she says, unable to tear her eyes away, “Is this love at first sight, or am I having a heart attack?”

 

Her heart is pounding.

 

Mike’s shaking his head, but he’s still laughing. “You’re so gay, Bella, seriously. That’s Rosalie Hale.”

 

“She’s devastatingly beautiful, isn’t she?” Angela says with a dreamy sigh, “She’s scary smart, too. I thought about asking her to tutor me in physics, but I chickened out at the last minute.”

 

Lauren scoffs quietly beside her. “She thinks she’s above everyone else here. You don’t stand a chance, so don’t even try.”

 

Jessica nods, whispering, “I said hello to her once, and I swear to god, Bella, the look she gave me!” she shudders, adding, “Gave me nightmares for weeks.”

 

Mike rolls his eyes at their dramatics, but can’t resist adding to it himself.

 

“She’s not that scary. Like, it’s not as though she’s going to call you names or trip you in the hall or whatever.” he tells her, “It’s more like, the anxiety eats away at you before you can even get close enough to say ‘hello’, and as soon as you are close enough, the ability to speak is just… gone. I thought I was gonna wet myself the first time I tried to say hello to her.”

 

Bella somehow manages to tear her eyes away from the beautiful woman in question, but it’s difficult. I mean, she’s driving a fucking Jeep, in heels. She gives Mike a questioning, slightly concerned stare.

 

“That’s not a normal reaction, you know that, yeah?” she tells him, snatching her cigarette back. She takes one last drag then drops it to the ground and crushes it with her boot. “You need to work on your game, Mike.”

 

“You say that now, but just you wait,” he warns her, his handsome blue eyes filled to the brim with amusement. “We all learn the hard way, and so will you.”

 

By the time Bella looks back over, Rosalie Hale and the rest of the Cullens are gone, all sans the big one. Honestly, he’s so thick with muscle-even more so than Jake- and she has to wonder if Doctor Cullen knows his son is using steroids. This Cullen actually makes eye contact as he looks up from his phone. He sends her a smile, gives her a nod- like they know each other or something, and then he follows after his siblings.

 

Bella frowns and so does Mike and Angela, because they both noticed as well. Jessica and Lauren have turned their attention back to their phones.

 

“Was that weird? It felt weird.”

 

Mike nods slowly. “Hella weird, dude. The Cullens don’t do shit like that.”

 

“Like what, be polite?”

 

“Like, nod and smile to you from across the parking lot. It’s weird.”

 

As the bell rings in the distance and they make their way to class, Angela tells Bella that the Cullens don’t socialise with people outside of their family, and then she tells her that the one who smiled at her is dating the woman of her fucking dreams. Bella groans so dramatically that Angela can’t contain her giggles.

 

“Way to break my heart, Angela.”

 

Angela gives her arm a sympathetic squeeze. “Better me than her.”

 

As they go their separate ways and Bella heads to her biology class, she finds herself wondering how it would feel to have her heart broken by Rosalie Hale. She decides Angela is probably right- she’s not sure she would survive it.

 

Turns out, Rosalie Hale is her lab partner.

 

Fantastic.

 

It doesn’t take Bella long to see what Mike means about losing all ability to speak and be normal around her though. Bella thinks she’ll start by saying hi and introducing herself, but the second she’s close enough to do just that, it’s like her brain short circuits and suddenly she’s incapable of human thought.

 

Bella stops and stares, and her mouth goes dry, and her palms begin to sweat, and her heart beats so fast that she’s for real worried she might be about to drop dead. This is all before Rosalie Hale even looks at her. The second those dark eyes meet hers, Bella’s world is lost.

 

Rosalie Hale is fucking terrifying, and Bella Swan is in love. There’s not a single doubt in her mind about it.

 

“Angela’s wrong.”

 

Rosalie tilts her head and lifts a fine eyebrow in Bella’s direction. “Excuse me?”

 

Clearly she’s confused, and why wouldn’t she be? Bella is practically drooling on her shoes and talking nonsense, and why is she not introducing herself first!?

 

“Angela’s wrong.”

 

“So you said.”

 

Bella makes eye contact with Rosalie Hale, and her eyes are so beautiful (she’s so beautiful) that it makes her want to weep. Words escape her yet again, and Bella wonders if it’s amusement she sees reflecting back at her. Maybe just very mild amusement? Annoyance?

 

It’s probably the latter.

 

She quickly pushes that thought aside as she makes her way to the empty seat beside the woman of her dreams. Rosalie has apparently given up on expecting any sort of response, as she turns her attention back to her phone. Bella wonders if she’s texting her boyfriend. As the rest of the students trickle in and the teacher steps up to the board, Bella still can’t take her eyes off the blonde goddess beside her.

 

It’s practically embarrassing at this point. She sighs, and she has no control over the next words out of her mouth.

 

“You can break my heart any day.”

 

She doesn’t mean to say it out loud- she really fucking doesn’t, and yet… the words come anyway.

 

What the fuck was that!?

 

Her eyes shoot back to the front of the classroom, and her panic must be obvious as she can practically feel Rosalie’s body stiffen next to her. It’s got to be pure rage- how can it not be, Bella thinks. Rosalie says nothing, and Bella is too fucking mortified to open her mouth again. She can’t even bring herself to look up from her text book after this, and she thanks every deity she can think of that Rosalie Hale can’t hear her heart pounding away furiously beneath her rib cage because that would just be icing on the fucking cake at this point.

 

The class is tense- or maybe that’s just Bella. Rosalie hasn’t said another word to her, not once. Hasn’t even looked at her, and Bella feels like the biggest fucking idiot on the planet. As the teacher finishes up and the bell rings, Bella hastily packs her things away, because fuck, she needs to leave like right the fuck now!

 

She’s horrified that she spoke at all. Rosalie is much calmer, and yet still she’s packed up and standing before Bella is. Bella swallows back her nerves as Rosalie pauses briefly behind her chair, and already she’s wondering what her funeral will look like. She wants lots of tears, flowers- red roses would be totally appropriate- to match the subtle shade of her lipstick.

 

Does everybody feel like prey when Rosalie Hale stares them down or is she just special?

 

“If I wanted to break your heart,” Rosalie says finally, venom in every word, “I would have done so the moment you opened your mouth- before you could prove to me what an idiot you are. Why is it,” she then adds, “That no one ever worries about breaking my heart?”

 

Wait, what?

 

By the time the words register in her foggy brain, Rosalie is already out the door and long gone, and Bella is left feeling like an even bigger asshole. It’s a wonder there’s room left for that, really. Angela has, of course, seen all of this and yet heard none of it, and she raises both eyebrows as she approaches the table.

 

“Am I imagining things, or did Rosalie just speak to you?” she asks, following Bella’s stunned stare toward the door where the woman in question disappeared. She sighs and, no doubt taking pity on her, helps Bella to finish packing her things. “You look like you’re about to throw up though, so it can’t have been a good thing. Take a breath, Bella.”

 

“I’m an asshole.”

 

Angela shrugs and, handing Bella her backpack, leads her toward the door. “I don’t know what you said, so maybe,” she agrees, “But you’re still breathing, so there’s that.”

 

They walk to their next class in silence- Angela throwing Bella concerned looks, Bella reliving the trauma of the last hour is horrific detail. She staggers to a halt outside their classroom.

 

“Angela, I’m such a fuckhead.”

 

“And you have such a lovely way with words.” Angela sighs, shaking her head at the theatrics she’s forced to bare witness to, “Why, Bella? What did you do?”

 

“I just wanted to introduce myself,” she mutters, looking to Angela with comically wide eyes, “I made a complete dick of myself, I insulted her, and I didn’t even tell her my name. Who does that?”

 

Angela grins. “You mean, apart from you and every other person in this school? Bella, you’re not the first and you certainly won’t be the last. Accept that it happened, move on, and stop making me any later than you already have over this, please. I promise you that people have made bigger idiots of themselves in front of Rosalie Hale than you.”

 

As they settle into their seats and the lesson begins, Bella has to wonder how many of those people took one look at the sheer magnificence of her and decided that she was their forever though.

 

It’s a terrifying thought.

 

 

 

 

Bella doesn’t see her again until her last class of the day; gym.

 

Naturally, because of course she shares Bella’s gym class with her.

 

If Rosalie is as impressed by the revelation as Bella is, she doesn’t show it. She spares her not a single glance as Bella shuffles into the locker rooms to change. Angela is raising her eyebrows and smirking, throwing not so subtle looks in the blonde’s direction, and Bella absolutely hates her for it.

 

She turns away and changes quickly- eyes studiously on the task at hand and not on Rosalie Hale.

 

She’s many things, but a pervert isn’t one of them, and she leaves only after giving Angela the finger, sitting down on the bench in the gym to wait. She pulls out her phone and there’s a text message from Leah waiting for her, unread as of yet (she’s been busy freaking out over a certain blonde), and before she can open the text, she spots Rosalie come out of the lockers.

 

She’s going to apologise.

 

Rosalie sits as far from Bella as physically possible, but Bella, never one to take the hint, stands and moves closer. She keeps a respectable distance from the blonde and for a long, tense moment there is utter silence.

 

Rosalie still hasn’t acknowledged her presence.

 

“Um, Rosalie…?” Bella shoves her phone back in her pocket, and the only indication that Rosalie has heard her is the mere tilting of her head. Apparently, she’s willing to listen- that’s a start, Bella thinks. She takes a deep breath, continuing, “I want to apologise for what I said in class.”

 

Silence meets her softly spoken words, but at least Rosalie turns her head and gives Bella the courtesy of eye contact. It’s more than she thinks she deserves, to be honest. Her eyes are still dark- reminding Bella of burnt butter, but much calmer than Bella remembers them being before.

 

“Clearly I don’t think before I speak,” Bella continues on, ignoring the buzz in her pocket, “Mike warned me- said I’d make a fool of myself, and I did. I’m an asshole.”

 

“At least you can admit it to my face,” Rosalie drawls out, her voice soft and as dangerous as the look in her eye. “You’ve yet to actually say the words though.”

 

Is it hot in here? Bella feels as though she’s sweating bullets. She feels it dripping down the curve of her lower back. Angela and a few of the other begin to trickle from the locker room, and her chance to apologise properly is closing fast.

 

“I’m sorry for saying what I did, and for upsetting you. That’s not what I wanted to say to you.”

 

“Apology accepted.” Rosalie responds, tilting her head with a new look in her eye- one that Bella can’t decipher. “Tell me, what did you want to say?”

 

Bella laughs and she knows her nerves are obvious. “Honestly? I just wanted to say hi and introduce myself,” she says, adding awkwardly, “Which I realise I still haven’t done yet- what the actual fuck.”

 

Bella can swear she sees a hint of a smirk pass Rosalie’s lips, but it’s gone as quickly as it comes. “Well,” she hums, waving her hand through the air, “Go on. I’m not likely to give you three chances.”

 

“Um, hey?” It comes out as more of a question, and Christ, Bella feels like an even bigger idiot. She groans, dropping her head and slamming her eyes shut in defeat. “I’m Bella, and apparently I can’t stop making a fool of myself- I’m so sorry.”

 

“People have done worse,” she says, and it very nearly sounds like praise, adding, “I already knew your name though, Swan. I just wanted to see if Alice was right and you’d go through with it.”

 

If Alice was right…?

 

Bella lifts her head, confusion on her face as she mutters, “Alice? Like, your sister Alice?”

 

“Unless I have another sister I’m unaware of, yes.”

 

Bella scratches at her head. “How would Alice know any of that? I’m kind of confused, not gonna lie.”

 

Rosalie shrugs and looks away, effectively ending their conversation it would seem. Bella doesn’t know how to feel about that because a) she’s still confused as all hell, and b) she’s not quite ready to stop talking to the blonde.

 

“So, you and Emmett, huh? That’s the big one’s name, yeah? He seems cool.” Bella says, for lack of anything else to talk about, and if she thought Rosalie was ice before, she’s even more so now. The look she gives Bella makes her shrivel up inside. “Ah, not really my business, I guess. I’m sorry.”

 

Rosalie looks back down to her phone, apparently careless as she responds, “And as I hear it, you moved here because your mother kicked you out for sleeping with your step father.”

 

“Wait, what?” Bella is completely taken aback by that comment, and it must show on her face, because Rosalie scoffs. “Seriously, where did you hear that?”

 

“Oh, does that offend you?” she asks instead, raising a perfect eyebrow, “The difference between you and I, Swan, is that I know better than to listen to the rumours circulating this cesspool.”

 

Why the fuck is there a rumour going around that she fucked her step father?

 

“Who’s going around spreading shit like that?” she asks, growing hotter with each second that passes- seething inside.

 

Rosalie doesn’t answer, not with words exactly- simply rolls her eyes slowly in the direction of a group of girls standing by the locker room door. Then she looks back to Bella.

 

“Guess you should be more mindful of those you call friends.” she says.

 

Bella looks over- she sees a few girls she doesn’t know, recognises a few that she shares classes with, and then she spots Angela off to the side, texting on her phone, but no, immediately Bella knows it can’t be her. Her eyes then cut to Jessica and Lauren. They’re not paying attention to Bella, but Bella is absolutely paying attention to them. Her eyes narrow.

 

She knows exactly who started that rumour.

 

Bella doesn’t say another word to Rosalie- she’s too furious to say much of anything, but she feels the blonde’s eyes on her as marches off in the direction of her friends. Bella can’t think straight and, as Jessica and Lauren look up, their smiles fall off their pretty faces.

 

“Bella, are you ok-”

 

“Have you been telling everybody that I fucked my step father!?

 

The gym falls quiet, conversations taper off- even the gym teacher looks up. Bella doesn’t notice though- she’s focused on Lauren’s face, and the way her eyes widen just a fraction in panic. Jessica looks between the two before her gaze eventually settles cautiously on Bella. Perhaps she can sense the danger, because whether it’s subconscious or not, Jessica takes a step back, away from her friend’s side.

 

“What? No!” Lauren says hastily, holding up her hands and looking around for some sort of back up. When it becomes apparent that none of her friends are going to rush to her defence, she attempts a different route, adding, “Look, I’m feeling very threatened by you right now, so you need to back the fuck up, Bella, alright?”

 

She’s clenching her fists so tightly she can feel her short nails biting into the palm of her hands- hands which tremble. “Imagine how much worse it’s gonna be when I smack you in the mouth for spreading bullshit about me.”

 

“Look, it was an accident, okay?” Lauren says in a panicked voice, clearly not too thrilled with the idea. “I might have joked about it with Jess and some other girls-” Bella takes a threatening step forward. “… Bella, come on, I thought we were friends! I’m sorry, alright? It was an accident!”

 

Bella feels a hand touch her shoulder and, without looking, she knows who it belongs to- she feels it. Her touch is ice cold- a refreshing change from the heat Bella’s feeling right now.

 

“She’s not worth the suspension, Swan,” Rosalie tells her, leaning in, cool breath tickling the shell of Bella’s ear. It breaks through some of the fury. “Do you really want to have to explain to Charlie that you got suspended over a silly rumour?”

 

Rosalie doesn’t force her to walk away- not really. She leaves the choice to Bella, and Bella appreciates that. She wants to hit her- teach her a lesson, but Rosalie is right. She isn’t worth the consequences.

 

“Let me go,” she mutters, shaking her shoulder loose from Rosalie’s grasp. Rosalie lets go and, right as the teacher arrives, takes a step back. Bella throws Lauren a filthy look, adding, “Stay the fuck away from me, Lauren, and keep your mouth shut about my family.”

 

“Okay, that’s enough, ladies,” Coach Clapp says, shooing away the crowd. She gives them both a displeasing look. “I don’t want to see either of you on the same side of the gym for the rest of class, do you understand? Whatever happened, whatever this is, it ends here. If I so much as smell a hint of trouble from either of you, it’s detention. Understand?”

 

“Whatever.”

 

Bella doesn’t say a word to anyone for the rest of class, and she brushes off Angela’s concern, ignores the stares and the whispers, and when the bell rings, she’s changed and gone before the others have even put their gear away.

 

She decides to tell Charlie she’s sick for the rest of the week lest she bust up Lauren’s pretty face.

 

 

 

 

Miraculously, she’s feeling much better by the time Friday afternoon rolls around (funny, that), and Jacob invites her to spend the weekend on the reservation. Charlie’s not stupid and he has his suspicions- he knows she wasn’t sick, but he lets it go- lets her get away with it this once, and so by Friday evening she’s pulling up outside the Blacks house feeling better than she has all week.

 

She doesn’t feel the need to slash Lauren’s tyres anymore in any case.

 

Jacob hands her a nasty ass can of beer with the promise that Leah will be around later with pizza. The three of them settle down on the beat up couch in Jake’s shed to play video games and get drunk on cheap beer, and she can almost forget about her shitty week.

 

Except she can’t get a certain blonde out of her head, and she can swear she still feels her icy touch. She shivers at the memory and Leah, thinking it’s from the drop in temperature outside, uses it as an excuse to shuffle closer. She throws a beefy arm over her shoulders and gives Bella the sweetest smile- one that makes Bella feel strangely guilty for reasons she doesn’t really understand.

 

“Cause I’m so hot, remember?” she whispers it like it’s some sort of secret between them, but Bella knows full well that Jake hears it. He can’t hide his smirk as he excuses himself to use the bathroom. Leah watches him go, and the second the door clicks shut, she says, “Thank god, I thought he’d never leave.”

 

Bella doesn’t know what to say, so she snorts in affirmative and takes another drink. It doesn’t dissuade her friend though- not really. Leah turns a little and ducks her head, breathing in deeply as she rumbles into Bella’s hair, “Been thinking about you all week...”

 

Her eyes close as Leah’s teeth catch the lobe of her ear, and god, it feels so good, but Bella can’t shut her thoughts up. Something, and she’s not sure what, isn’t right. She hesitates.

 

Leah is too warm and her arm is too heavy- it feels wrong and Bella has no fucking idea why. She tries to ignore it- even weaves her fingers into Leah’s short hair and pulls her into a kiss that, a week ago, would have set her on fire. Now, it fills her with an anxiety and a feeling of wrongness so profound that it brings tears to her eyes.

 

What the fuck is wrong with her?

 

Leah must be able to feel the change because she pulls away, and Bella immediately feels awful. Her pupils dilated, breath short, Leah asks in concern, “Bella, hey, what’s wrong? Did I hurt you?”

 

She goes to remove her arm, but Bella shakes her head and reaches out- she doesn’t want her to move, she doesn’t want this to feel wrong, but it does, and she doesn’t understand. A week ago she couldn’t get enough of Leah’s lips. And she hates that her friends immediately thinks that it’s her who’s done something wrong.

 

“I guess I’m still not feeling great,” she lies, hoping her words are convincing, “Sorry, Leah, I was feeling much better this morning, I swear. Maybe next time?”

 

What makes it worse is that Leah believes her- apparently she’s a better liar than she thought. She’s not even upset about it, but Bella wishes she was.

 

It would make whatever this was much easier.

 

 

 

 

In the parking lot on Monday morning, Bella isn’t herself and she knows it. She feels off- Mike and Angela notice right away. She waves their concerns aside and tells them she’s been unwell- she hasn’t been sleeping well. Mike offers her a smoke, which she declines, and Angela asks if she’s seen a doctor and Bella tells her no- and it’s right at that moment that a familiar car pulls into an empty spot on the other side of the parking lot.

 

Go figure.

 

Bella tries not to look, but fuck, Rosalie is wearing another pair of heels. Red is Bella’s new favourite colour. She’s so distracted that she completely misses whatever Mike asks her, but they’re both waiting on an answer to something, clearly.

 

“Sorry, I didn’t catch that,” Bella says, embarrassed, “What did you say?”

 

Mike looks off in the direction of the Cullens, and he grins. “Oh, I see,” he teases her, “I dunno if a doctor would be able to help her, Ang- there’s no cure for being lovesick.”

 

“Fuck off,” Bella’s entire face flushes, but there’s a lightness in her now that feels much more like her. She’s mortified as Angela turns to look as well, hissing, “Don’t stare at her! Jesus, do you two have no decency?”

 

“None,” Angela coos as she turns back, wicked glint in her eye, “Aw, Bella, you’re blushing.”

 

“Shut up!”

 

“Lighten up, will you? It’s not like she can hear you.” Angela rolls her eyes, “If her hearing was that great, we’d all be fucked.”

 

“You can say that again,” Mike’s agreement is followed by a nudge to Bella’s shoulder, “I asked if you wanted to come down to the rez with us after school. Meant to be a decent surf on.”

 

Angela nods. “Gonna have a little bonfire- roast some hot dogs for dinner.”

 

Bella looks back out across the parking lot, watching as Emmett says something to Rosalie and she actually fucking smiles. It’s beautiful, and Bella hates that it’s her apparently not-boyfriend-but-maybe-is-boyfriend that causes it.

 

“I think I’ll pass,” she tells them absently, still watching the way Rosalie leans into Emmett as they talk. “Charlie hasn’t seen me all weekend, so I should probably show my face so he doesn’t think I’m lying dead in a ditch somewhere.”

 

“And why would he think you were lying dead in a ditch?” Angela hums, and there’s an element of teasing in her voice that gets Bella’s attention. “Just who did you spend the weekend with, hm?”

 

Bella turns her unimpressed stare on her friend. “Why would you think I spent the weekend with somebody?”

 

“Well, didn’t you?”

 

“That’s beside the point.”

 

“Hardly,” Angela says, just as the bell rings, “When do we get to meet her?”

 

Bella’s frown deepens as she mutters, “Why do you need to meet her? Assuming there is a her.”

 

“Well, here’s the thing,” Mike says, throwing an arm around Bella’s shoulders and steering her toward the school building, “As your friends, it’s vital that we approve of your girlfriends.”

 

Bella stops short of the stairs, muttering an apology to the boy who almost runs into her, and turns on Mike and Angela with a glare. “She’s not my girlfriend.”

 

“So there is a somebody!” Mike laughs, bumping fists with an equally pleased Angela, adding, “All about the teamwork, Ange.”

 

“So, tell us all about her,” Angela says, “What’s her name?”

 

“Obviously she lives on the reservation. Are you fucking her?”

 

That last one comes from Mike, and Bella can’t honestly believe what she’s hearing.

 

“Okay, hold up,” she tells them both, pointing a finger sternly at the blonde boy, “First thing, that’s absolutely none of your business, Mike. And secondly, I’ve been here less than a month!”

 

Mike shrugs. “What’s your point?”

 

“Why would you assume I’m fucking anybody in that short amount of time?” Bella snaps back at him, beyond miffed at the turn their conversation has taken. It’s not that he’s wrong exactly, but that he has the audacity to think that a month of friendship warrants details on her sex life is a bit offensive. Mike opens his mouth to respond- she holds up a hand before he can utter even a single word, telling him, “Nope, no more, Mike. I’m done with this conversation. Seriously, do not bring up my sex life again.”

 

Naturally it’s at this exact moment that Bella catches sight of Rosalie, right as she stalks up the stairs right fucking next to her. She disappears among the throng of students before Bella can blink.

 

The horror must show on her face because Mike slaps her on the shoulder, laughing as he says, “Oh my god, your face, Bella. Priceless.”

 

“No, no, no,” she panics under her breath, “Do you think she heard that?”

 

Please no.

 

Her friends are no help- how would they know if she heard or not? And more importantly, why does she care so much?

 

“So, you have a crush on her,” Angela tells her, shrugging, “Doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy attention from others- more specifically people who want to give you attention.”

 

Mike nods in agreement. “Yeah, don’t stress so much- Rosalie treats everyone like that.”

 

The truth behind her friends’ words hurt, obviously. She’s an idiot for thinking one or two conversations with the blonde means they’re on friendly terms. She just thinks that she might have at least gotten a smile, or a nod at the very least.

 

Would that hurt more or less than being totally ignored? Bella doesn’t know.

 

Mike and Angela head into class, but Bella is still standing at the base of the stairs, kicking herself on the inside and feeling sorry for herself.

 

“Don’t be so hard on yourself,” a sweet voice says, “You’ll need a battering ram to get through Rose’s walls and it’ll certainly take longer than a week. I anticipate a few months at the very least.”

 

Frowning, Bella looks into the softest pair of butterscotch eyes she’s ever seen. They’re shining with amusement- and Bella’s no genius, but she’s pretty sure it’s at her expense.

 

“I’m sorry, what?”

 

“Actually, that would be who,” the girl corrects her, grinning, “Alice Cullen- pleasure to meet you, Bella.”

 

Bella knows who she is, but she is still so, so confused. “Is it?”

 

Alice nods and, winding an arm through Bella’s, begins to tug her up the stairs. Bella follows, because like… what else is she meant to do? She can’t push her away and risk hurting her. She’s too small and cute- like a kitten but less fluffy. Bella has the insane urge to-

 

“Expect to be bitten if you try it, Bella Swan,” Alice says, shooting her a smile that is both all knowing and not so innocent, all rolled into one. “I’m not as sweet as I look, I assure you.”

 

Bella’s not sure how she knows what she’s thinking, but she decides she kind of likes it. Alice is weird, but she’s Bella’s kind of weird.

 

“You know what, I’m not even going to ask- I’m just gonna roll with it,” Bella tells her, “Kind of curious why you’re walking me to class though. Is this going to become a regular thing?”

 

Alice’s laugh is as cute as the tiny pink bows on her shoes.

 

“Would you like it to be?” she asks Bella instead, just as they stop outside Bella’s first class of the day, “I don’t actually share this class with you, but I’d happy to pick this conversation up later?”

 

Tilting her head, Bella smiles down at the strange girl. She feels better already- soothing the sting her sister left behind. “Is that your way of asking if I want to be walked to my next class, too?”

 

“See, I told Rosalie you’d get me.” Alice says, pulling Bella into a hug with a strength that a girl her size really shouldn’t have. “You’ll be my best friend, you’ll see. Anyway, I really have to go- try not to mess up Lauren’s face, okay? You’ll break her nose and it’s quite a mess to clean up. Okay, have to run- bye, Bella!”

 

Alice Cullen is gone in a whirlwind of pink cuteness, leaving behind a very confused Bella in her wake. Not how Bella thinks she would strike up a friendship with a Cullen, but she’s not complaining, because Alice is delightful.

 

And Alice is right- the sheer amount of blood from breaking Lauren’s nose is, as she predicted, messy as all fuck.

 

Bella gets sent to the principles office, Charlie is called, and Bella is handed a two week suspension- a lenient punishment, Charlie tells her, all things considered.

 

“Now, tell me why you really hit her,” he says when they reach Bella’s truck in the parking lot. He opens the door for her and she climbs in, and the disappointment is clear on his face. Bella shrugs. “Is this why you didn’t go to school last week? She giving you trouble?”

 

“She was spreading nasty rumours about me, I confronted her, and I guess she didn’t like being stood up to.”

 

“So, today?”

 

Lauren had approached her at the end of class with two of her friends and demanded Bella apologise for the week before. The classroom was mostly empty, only a few students and the teacher remained. Bella told her no.

 

“So, she shoved me,” she tells her father, shrugging, “And I felt threatened, so I hit her.”

 

“You hit her because you were angry, Bella, don’t try to bullshit me,” Charlie tells her, seeing right through her, “Look, I’m not going to punish you for defending yourself, but please, next time at least try to walk away, okay? I can’t get you off lightly every time you hit someone who talks shit about you.”

 

Bella raises an eyebrow. “She was telling everyone that mom kicked me out because I was fucking Phil- just so you know.”

 

His moustache twitches as he gives a stiff nod. “Noted,” he said, “Go on and head home- I have to get back to work.”

 

Bella starts her truck as Charlie shuts her door for her. “Am I grounded?”

 

He shakes his head. “No, but I’d prefer you stay out of town so that Lauren’s parents at least think you’re being punished for breaking their daughter’s nose.”

 

Bella thinks that’s a fair compromise. When she gets home, she has a text message from Leah- she wants to know if Bella wants to go to Port Angeles and watch a movie on the weekend. Rosalie comes to mind, but Bella shakes those thoughts away- a movie sounds nice, but Charlie asked her to keep a low profile.

 

*I broke a girl’s nose at school- so I’m kinda unofficially grounded. Rein check?

 

She calls her mother- they talk for a good hour and a half, and she feels much better for it afterwards. The rest of the day she spends reading ‘The Sting of Victory’- a book Angela lent her.

 

It’s crazy dark, but in a good way, I swear. Lesbians, vampires, witches- you’ll love it.”

 

Barely three chapters into the first book and Bella’s kind of glad she broke Lauren’s nose and got sent home early. Angela hasn’t led her astray.

 

 

 

 

 

“Bella, what did I say? I told you it would get messy,” Bella answers the door the next day to a pouting Alice, who continues with, “How are you supposed to woo my sister when you’re suspended? Rose insists that she doesn’t care whether you’re at school or not. I know she’s lying, of course- she can’t hide things from me and honestly-”

 

Bella watches on in amusement as Alice invites herself inside, slipping in between Bella and the wall- talking a mile a minute.

 

“Okay, hold up, you need to slow it down, kitten.”

 

“… she’s a- wait, what did you just call me?” Alice stops in the middle of the hallway and spins around with a curious grin. “Did you just call me kitten?”

 

Bella snorts and heads into the living room- dropping onto the couch she vacated in order to open the door. Alice follows her with a curious expression on her face.

 

“Why are you calling me kitten?”

 

“Cause you remind me of one.”

 

She’s cute and tiny, and she has the energy and persistence of one. She’s also a little bit feisty- Bella can tell already.

 

“You know what, fine, call me what you like,” Alice tells her, sitting down gracefully next to her, “It’s not going to distract me from the main issue right now.”

 

“Which is what?”

 

She knows she’s being purposely obtuse, but she can’t help herself. Bella throws a handful of popcorn into her mouth, grinning in Alice’s direction as she crunches down. Alice isn’t impressed.

 

“You and Rose.”

 

“Rose who?”

 

“Rosalie, Bella- why have you got to make this so hard for me?”

 

Bella grins, humming as she says, “Ah, yes, Rosalie- I’m familiar with that name. However, as much as I hate to ruin your day, I’d like to remind you that there is no me and Rosalie, Alice.”

 

Alice sits forward and flicks the tip of Bella’s nose. “Not with that attitude, no. It’s okay, we can work around your suspension- it just makes it more difficult for me. Lucky for you, I like a challenge.”

 

Bella doesn’t even ask how Alice thinks she knows Bella is obsessed with her sister- she’s coming to realise that Alice is just like that. Fact remains though- Bella isn’t interested in making their new friendship about her ice cold, albeit beautiful, sister.

 

“Okay, here’s the deal, kitten, this friendship isn’t going to work if your only goal here is to hook me up with your sister.” Bella tells her seriously, following it up with a piece of popcorn to her cute, scrunched up face. She grins when Alice catches it, her reflexes lightening fast. Alice looks thoroughly amused by it and Bella adds, “I’d love to be your friend, Alice, but please, enough about Rosalie, okay?”

 

Alice opens her mouth, no doubt to continue her verbal assault, but when Bella pointedly picks up another piece of popcorn, Alice narrows her eyes and her mouth closes. She throws the popcorn back at Bella, and giggles when it hits her square in the forehead.

 

“Okay, I’ll let it rest.” she agrees. “For now.”

 

Blinking, Bella sighs and grabs the popcorn shrapnel, stuffing it in her mouth and saying, “Now since you’ve intruded upon my isolation and ruined my reading time, pick a movie.”

 

Alice perks up as she reaches for the remote, and her eyes flicker to the closed book sitting on the coffee table.

 

“Is that the book Angela gave you?” she asks, only mildly curious as she begins flicking through Netflix selections. “Cover looks interesting- if her hair were just a bit shorter, I might have mistaken her for me.”

 

Bella snorts, thoroughly amused by the comparison, “I don’t know about that, but okay.”

 

Bella thinks that’s probably where the comparisons end though. Alice decides on a zombie movie- some Australian film that Bella’s never even heard of, and they settle in for the afternoon. Bella doesn’t really remember what they talk about, but it’s comfortable- she’s comfortable, and nothing feels forced or awkward, and she both loves and appreciates the easiness she finds with Alice. Alice leaves only when Charlie calls to say he’s on his way home- she calls for a lift and politely declines Bella’s offer to stay for dinner.

 

“Esme prefers us to eat at home, but thank you. Plus poor Jasper will be beside himself without me, you know.” Alice tells her, just as there’s a knock at the door, “Oh, that’s probably my lift. Can you get that please, Bella? Tell them I’ll be out in a tick- just need to use the little girl’s room real quick!”

 

Alice disappears down the hall and Bella hears the bathroom door click shut. Alice is definitely an odd girl, but Bella finds it refreshing. As she opens the door and is about to tell Alice’s lift (who she assumes would have been Jasper, because why would it be anyone else?) that she’ll be right out, the words die on her tongue.

 

“Rosalie, hi.” Bella says, unable to hide her surprise, “What are you doing here?”

 

Naturally she regrets it the second the words leave her mouth, because literally the whole reason she’s here is to collect Alice and Bella knows this. There’s no other reason. Bella doesn’t even attempt to hide her embarrassment.

 

“Ah, fuck, I swear I’m not usually this much of an idiot,” she sighs, and opens the door wider, “Would you like to come in and wait? Alice is just using the bathroom.”

 

Rosalie narrows her eyes. “Is she now? How convenient of her. I’ll wait out here, thank you.”

 

The night is a cool one- and Rosalie doesn’t appear to be dressed particularly warm, so Bella is immediately concerned. She’s getting goosebumps just from answering the door, and Rosalie is standing out there in a pair of thin (tight) jeans and an equally thin shirt.

 

“Aren’t you cold?” Bella asks her, forcing her eyes up, away from the blonde’s chest and the very obvious signs of her chill. She’s blushing bright red when she meets Rosalie’s eye, because wow, she did not mean to notice that. “At least just come into the hallway so I can shut the door and keep the heat in.”

 

For the briefest moment, the look in Rosalie’s gaze softens out of… concern for her? She’s not really sure, but Bella might as well be naked for how it makes her feel when Rosalie takes in the boxers and old t-shirt she’s wearing. She nods and accepts Bella’s invitation to come inside out of the cold, and Bella honestly appreciates it because her toes are beginning to go numb.

 

The nights are getting cooler, there’s no doubt it.

 

“Can I get you something to drink?”

 

“Tempting, but no thank you.” she says. Bella notices the dark flicker of amusement in her eyes and, although confused, shrugs.

 

“Suit yourself- I’m gonna make a hot chocolate.”

 

Bella’s surprised when Rosalie trails in behind her.

 

“How’s your hand?”

 

“My hand?” Bella asks, grabbing a mug off the shelf, “It’s fine, why?”

 

“It’s purple, and swollen.”

 

As the kettle boils, Bella scoops a spoonful of chocolate into her mug with two sugars, teasing, “That happens when you hit bitches in the face. Do you think Alice wants a drink?”

 

Rosalie smirks. “You know what? I think she’d love one. Extra chocolate- she can’t get enough of it.”

 

Bella nods and goes about making a second mug, and honestly, she’s got the milk hot and the drinks stirred and Alice is still in the bathroom. Bella wraps her fingers around the hot mug and frowns in the direction of the bathroom.

 

“Do you think she fell in?”

 

The pipes groan as the toilet flushes.

 

“Huh,” Bella hums, taking a sip, “It’s like she heard me or something.”

 

“She does have exceptionally large ears, so anything is possible.”

 

Rosalie is leaning against the doorway and has, at some point, pulled her phone out again. Bella has to wonder what is so interesting on there- what with the amount of times she pulls it out and shoves her head into it. But honestly, it’s not uncomfortable, and Bella doesn’t really care. Considering their last encounter in the gym, this whole thing is a lot less awkward than she thinks it should be.

 

Having Rosalie Hale in her house is kind of nice actually.

 

When Alice joins them, she tries to politely decline the drink Bella made her, but Rosalie insists that one hot chocolate won’t throw her diet out the window, and Bella is a little confused by how dramatic they’re making this.

 

Her hot chocolates are awesome- rich, creamy and sweet, what more did they want? She offers to make her one with light milk and sweetener, but Alice declines.

 

“No, no, this is perfect. Thank you, Bella. I’m not on a diet diet.”

 

She still can’t quite mask the look of trepidation on her face as she brings the mug to her lips and takes the smallest sip known to man.

 

“Oh wow,” she says, and Bella swears it’s more of a grimace than a smile, “How much chocolate did you put in this?”

 

Bella throws her a weird look. “Rosalie said you like extra chocolate.”

 

“Oh, yes, I do! It’s delicious, Bella.” Alice tells her hurriedly, bringing the mug back to her lips and taking a larger mouthful. “Can’t say I’ve ever had one like it- Rosalie Hale, you better not be recording this!”

 

Bella only raises an eyebrow, because seriously, Rosalie is actually videoing it on her phone, and looking way too amused by it all. Bella takes a careful sip of her own hot chocolate and wonders how Alice is gulping it down by the mouthful without burning the inside of her mouth.

 

“You’re both very strange, I want you to know that,” Bella tells them, smiling, “I’m not sure whether I like it or not.”

 

“You like it.” Alice says. There’s a touch of finality in her words that Bella has no hope of arguing with, so she doesn’t even try.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It becomes somewhat of a routine over the next two weeks. Alice comes by after school with notes from the classes she’s missed- Bella shoves them aside for later, and the pair sit around and watch movies and chat, Bella eats junk food which Alice politely declines, and Rosalie comes to pick Alice up before Charlie comes home from work.

 

It’s a good system they’ve got going.

 

Rosalie doesn’t insist on waiting outside anymore- she sits inside (sometimes in the kitchen or on the couch) and waits for Alice to have her customary bathroom break before the drive home, and although the conversation isn’t particularly riveting or ground breaking, Bella finds herself enjoying it.

 

It’s the Friday night of the last week of Bella’s suspension when Bella realises that maybe Rosalie doesn’t hate her after all.

 

“Drink?” Bella asks her blonde visitor, as she has every weeknight for the last two weeks. Rosalie shakes her head- always the same response. Bella’s not put out by it, strangely enough, but asks out of curiosity, “You know I’m not trying to poison you, right? I swear if I offer you a coke, it’s just a coke.”

 

Rosalie doesn’t have her phone out tonight- she’s watching Bella instead. She’s taken to doing that and although Bella wonders why, she’s not quite brave enough to ask. She grabs herself a glass of chocolate milk this time and leans with her hip back against the kitchen bench, raising an eyebrow at the blonde’s silence.

 

“It would take more than poison to kill me, Swan.”

 

“Then why not take a sip?” Bella challenges, offering her the glass in her hand, “It’s just milk.”

 

Rosalie purses her lips. “I’m not thirsty.”

 

“Alice uses the same excuse, but for someone who isn’t ever thirsty enough for a drink, she sure does pee a lot.” Bella brings her glass back to her side, tilting her head and grinning as she adds, “Either that or my presence gives her the shits.”

 

Quite literally, if she’s not in there peeing.

 

“I’d go with that one personally.” Rosalie says, almost smiling.

 

Bella doesn’t believe her- not for a second, but she’s willing to let it go lest the tentative truce she has with Rosalie is broken. Or, at least, partially let it go. The pipes groan as Alice flushes the toilet.

 

“Do I give you the shits, Rosalie?”

 

Bella risks making eye contact with the blonde as she asks this, but as always, Bella can’t read the look she’s being given.

 

The bathroom door opens and Rosalie, as always, collects her keys and stands.

 

“The fact that you have the chance to ask me that question,” Rosalie tells her, “Should be all the answer you need.”

 

Laying in bed later that night, Bella smiles. Rosalie Hale doesn’t hate her.

 

 

 

 

 

That weekend, Alice invites Bella over for Sunday night dinner. Honestly, Bella can’t wait- but mainly it’s because she wants to see Alice and Rosalie actually eat something for once. Call it curiosity on her part, but she’s beginning to think they don’t actually eat at all.

 

Leah texts her early on Saturday morning, while she’s reading, and asks if Bella wants to go for a hike, and she meets her at noon by the beach. Leah’s smile is bright when she sees her, and Bella feels mildly guilty about it, but her friend’s mood is contagious. They talk quietly as they walk along the sand- the sun is warm on her face and Bella’s thinking how lovely the reflection on the water looks when Leah gently takes her hand.

 

Bella pauses and Leah follows, and she looks more nervous than Bella’s ever seen her friend.

 

“Bella, can we talk for a minute?” she asks, “I uh… I might have had ulterior motives to this hike.”

 

Bella grins, but it feels off, because she thinks she knows where this is going and she wishes it wouldn’t.

 

“I’d hardly call this a hike.” she jokes, trying to hide her sudden spike in anxiety. Leah laughs, but it sounds off too, but Bella suspects it’s for entirely different reasons.

 

“Yeah, no, I guess it’s more of a casual stroll,” Leah agrees quietly, “But I didn’t think a strenuous hike up to the cliff face was the right place to bring this up.”

 

“This being what exactly?”

 

Bella knows, but the least she can do is give Leah the chance to say it before she inevitably breaks her heart and ruins their friendship.

 

“I wanted to talk about us,” Leah tells her. She leads her to sit on a dried piece of driftwood, and once again Bella lets her take her hands. “I just- I thought when you came back that we were doing alright? We were just kids when you left, so like, yeah, it kind of gutted me cause you were my best friend and my first crush- my first kiss, you know? That leaves a mark- and then you went with Renee and you just never came back-”

 

“I told you I was sorry, Leah.” she says, taking her hands back and looking away. Being reminded that she left everyone behind hurts. “I thought you’d forgiven me.”

 

Leah looks a little lost as she says, “I have. I’m just trying to get you to understand where I’m coming from. You came back, and fuck, Bella- I didn’t care why you left. I was so happy to see you, and I thought fuck it, I’m gonna kiss her and if she doesn’t kiss me back then at least I know where I stand, you know? But you kissed me back.”

 

As memory serves her, she- they did quite a bit more than that in the days following.

 

“I thought we were heading in the right direction, and then it got all weird at Jake’s that night, and you’ve been avoiding me since. What did I do wrong, Bella?” Leah asks her, with such sincerity in her voice that Bella can’t even be upset about it. “Tell me so I can fix it. I miss you.”

 

“I don’t know what to tell you,” she says quietly, shamefully, “You didn’t do anything, I promise. This is all me- not you.”

 

“Look, I’m not gonna lie- I’m a little hurt, but I know that’s not entirely fair either, because we never really talked about this, or about what we wanted.” Leah continued, “I don’t want you to feel bad about how you feel, Bella- I just want you to be honest with me and stop avoiding me. It hurts.”

 

“I don’t want to hurt you, Leah.” she whispers, and almost cries when Leah takes her hands again, and she sees the tears in her beautiful brown eyes.

 

“So stop hurting me and be honest. Please.”

 

Leah takes it well- probably, Bella thinks, because she can’t quite bring herself to tell her why her feelings have changed, just that they have. It’s not really relevant- Bella just has a crush, that’s all, and now isn’t the time to bring it up. It’s difficult and it breaks her heart to cause Leah pain, but they both agree it’s best they remain only friends.

 

Leah looks heartbroken, but she’s holding it together.

 

“I kind of expected it to go this way, but I hoped it wouldn’t.” Leah tells her, “We can’t help how we feel, Bella.”

 

Bella wants to tell her that she wishes it was different- that she wishes she still felt the same. But that in turn would mean disregarding whatever the fuck it is she feels for Rosalie Hale, and for some reason that scares the ever living shit out of her, her brain won’t let her speak the words. Thinking them feels wrong, but saying them is impossible.

 

“I’m sorry, Leah,” she says instead, taking her friend’s warm hand in her own. Her voice trembles as she pleads, “Please don’t hate me.”

 

Leah gives her hand one last squeeze before taking hers back. “I couldn’t hate you even if I wanted to. This isn’t your fault.”

 

They walk back to the cars in silence and the clouds roll back in, which is fitting. Leah hugs her, tells her to drive safe, and it’s taking all of Bella’s self control not to start crying, because Leah, for all her kind words and strength, is visibly upset. Bella’s never seen her like this, and to know that it’s her fault (because it absolutely fucking is) is more painful than she realises.

 

Bella manages to make it the whole way back to Forks without crying, but fuck, it takes some serious effort. She doesn’t even realise that her hands are shaking until she pulls into her driveway and, seeing a Jeep parked on the curb, notices Alice getting out of the drivers side.

 

“Alice, what are you doing here?” Bella asks. She tries to hide her very obvious distress, but Alice always seems to know.

 

“You need me.”

 

Bella doesn’t know how she knows, and she realises she doesn’t care, not when Alice wraps her tiny arms around her and hugs her.

 

“Alice,” she whispers, as the first of her tears fall, “Why do I feel like the biggest cunt on the face of the earth right now?

 

“Oh, darling, you’ll have to tell me what happened if you want me to answer that.” she teases, pulling away just enough to wipe Bella’s tears. Bella gives a sad, pathetic laugh.

 

“You miraculously knew I needed you but didn’t know why? What do I pay you for?” she manages to get out through her pathetic half sobs. She feels bad for laughing, but if she doesn’t laugh, she’ll only cry harder.

 

“You don’t pay me- that’s why I only put in half the effort,” she jokes, “But in all seriousness, I can’t see you in La Push.”

 

“I have no idea what that means, but I don’t care,” she says, “Please never change.”

 

“Never. Now come inside and tell me what happened.”

 

And so she does.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning, Bella is feeling marginally better. Alice calls her mother and tells her she’s staying the night, and Bella lets her borrow a shirt and some pants to sleep in. Alice practically swims in them and it’s kind of hilarious, but she’s Alice, so she kind of looks perfect regardless. Bella falls asleep with Alice’s cool arms holding her.

 

Charlie looks mildly surprised when Bella comes downstairs with Alice in tow, but one look at Bella’s face and he says nothing. Her eyes are puffy from crying all night, and she’s sure she looks as awful as she feels, and Charlie’s no idiot. It’s the first time he’s actually meeting Alice though, despite Bella speaking of her often. Alice introduces herself and she’s as charming as ever as she offers to make breakfast. Bella doesn’t even bother asking why Alice doesn’t dish herself a plate up- she just tells her father that Alice is on a special diet and she’s already eaten.

 

The look Alice gives her is priceless.

 

When Alice disappears into the bathroom, Charlie asks Bella if she’s okay.

 

“You’ve been crying,” he says quietly, “What happened yesterday?”

 

“It’s nothing,” she reassures him. She does not want to discuss her teenage dramas with her father. “Leah and I just got into a bit of an argument- it’s fine.”

 

Charlie’s expression hardens. “She the reason you’re upset? She hurt you, Bella?”

 

Bella’s not surprised that her father has his suspicions about them. He’s the Chief of Police, after all.

 

“No, dad. I hurt her,” she whispers, “I really don’t want to talk about it, okay?”

 

He nods and let’s it go, and offers to stay home, but Bella tells him Alice will keep her company, and he seems pacified with that- almost relieved. He tries, but teenage girl problems are a bit beyond him. After thanking Alice for breakfast, he grabs his fishing gear and heads out to his cruiser, telling Bella to promise to call him if she needs anything.

 

Bella promises, but she knows it’s unlikely.

 

“Let’s reschedule dinner tonight,” Alice tells her as they settle under a blanket on the couch to watch a movie. She offers Bella a sympathetic smile, adding, “Trust me, tonight isn’t the night, not after yesterday.”

 

Bella doesn’t argue. If Alice says it’s a bad idea, then Bella trusts her judgement. Exhausted, Bella falls asleep halfway through the movie with her head in Alice’s lap, and only wakes up when someone knocks on the door. It’s just after midday, and Bella feels like the walking fucking dead, but she gets up to answer anyway, waving off Alice’s offer to get it instead.

 

Leah is standing on her porch in shorts and a crop top. It’s been raining, and she’s dripping wet.

 

“Leah, what the fuck are you doing?” Bella asks, genuine concern bleeding into her voice. She looks around but sees no truck. “Don’t tell me you’re out jogging in his shitty weather- you’ll get sick!”

 

“Not likely. I just wanted to talk-” Leah pauses as she lifts her chin and takes a deep breath in, her eyes widening. “Bella, what-”

 

Alice takes this as her cue to wander out into the hallway. “Hello again, puppy.”

 

“Puppy… what?” Bella mutters, looking over her shoulder at her small friend. “Do you two know each other?”

 

“Not personally, no,” Alice tells her, offering Bella a small smile. It disappears the instant her eyes drift back to the Leah’s large frame though. “I didn’t see this coming- I should leave so you can talk.”

 

Leah’s face is a storm of anger as she growls, “Yeah, you should.”

 

Bella frowns. “What, no, you don’t have to-” she realises then what her friend has said, and her head snaps back to Leah. “… what the fuck, Leah? You don’t get to tell my friends to leave. What’s your problem?”

 

Never has Bella ever seen the other girl look at someone the way she’s looking at Alice, and Bella decides she doesn’t like it. Not one bit.

 

“No, really, I should go,” Alice tells her, her sweet voice more strained than Bella’s ever heard it. “I’ll come back later, if you want. Just text me, okay?” she tells her much more softly, leaning up on her tip toes to kiss Bella’s cheek- which raises eyebrows, because um, what the fuck? Alice is a hugger, yeah, but that’s new.

 

One look at Leah’s face and Bella knows why Alice did it, and she’s not overly impressed. They’ll be having words about that- cute little vindictive bitch that she is, because while Leah’s attitude isn’t ideal, that sort of thing is uncalled for. Leah looks about ready to murder her as Alice turns her very dark eyes on her, and attempts a diplomatic smile.

 

“Excuse me, puppy,” she purrs, “But if you want me to leave, you’ll have to move.”

 

Leah says nothing- doesn’t even blink. She steps aside, her body more tense than Bella’s ever seen her. Alice walks by, caution in every step, and gets into the Jeep. She gives Bella a little wave that is uniquely Alice, and takes off, and very suddenly Bella is left alone with her furious friend. Bella’s wary, but she knows Leah isn’t going to hurt her.

 

“Bella-”

 

Bella holds up her hand. “First let me say something,” she says, “I understand that yesterday was hard for both of us and I appreciate you wanting to come over and talk, but whatever that was,” she waves her hands at the spot where Alice left. “That was uncalled for. Alice didn’t do anything to you.”

 

“She doesn’t have to,” Leah told her seriously, expression guarded, “The fact that she exists is enough.”

 

More weird, cryptic bullshit, Bella thinks. She crosses her arms. It’s not quite as cute coming from Leah, not after what Bella just witnessed.

 

“Enough, Leah. I don’t care, alright? Whatever problems you have with Alice, leave it outside.”

 

“Are you sleeping with her?”

 

Bella is about to ask her to come inside so they can talk somewhere more comfortable, but that gives her pause. She expects it, really, after Alice’s petty display, but she expects anger to be her first response.

 

It’s not.

 

The spike of hurt is unexpected.

 

“Seriously?” Bella asks her, dropping her arms, “Not that I need to explain myself to you, but she stayed the night because I was upset. No, Leah, I’m not fucking her- she’s my friend. What’s gotten into you?”

 

“The Cullens don’t make friends, Bella.”

 

Bella is really sick of hearing that.

 

“So I heard, and yet here I am.” she tells her, beyond upset, “I told you- if you want to talk, leave Alice and her family out of it. They have nothing to do with this.”

 

“I’m beginning to think that maybe they have everything to do with it,” Leah tells her, and she sounds so heartbroken that Bella can almost forget about the last five minutes, until she adds, “I came to talk, but you’re not going to listen to me, are you? Your new friends are bad news, Bella. I’m telling you this because I care about you, but no, you only think I’m jealous.”

 

“Aren’t you?” Bella snaps, “Why the fuck else would you accuse me of sleeping with her?”

 

“My jealously isn’t entirely unfounded though, is it?”

 

“You know what, Leah? Please just leave.” Bella says. The anger has well and truly settled in now. “I’m so fucking angry with you right now. If you stay, I’m only going to say something I’ll regret.”

 

“Fine,” she mutters, “When they hurt you, Bella, don’t say I didn’t fucking warn you. I can’t protect you here.”

 

“What the fuck does that even mean?” she asks, completely fed up. Leah gives her no answer as she stalks off the porch and heads for the road, doesn’t give her a sign that she even heard her. She heard her- Bella knows she’s just being petty and ignoring her. “Fine, be a cunt,” she mutters to herself, slamming the door, “Fuck!

 

She’s not likely to be texting Alice anytime soon either.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Bella sees Alice pull up at school on Monday morning with her siblings, she doesn’t care that it’s improper Cullen etiquette to approach them. She’s not as angry as she was after Leah’s visit, but she’s still not super thrilled with the tiniest Cullen. She tells Mike and Angela she’ll see them in class, and when she makes for the Cullens, they try desperately to get her to abort.

 

She hasn’t really told them that she’s had nightly Cullen visitors while on suspension, so she appreciates their apprehension. Apparently her daily chaperoning to class by Alice Cullen still hasn’t sunk in yet.

 

“Bella, before you say anything, please let me apologise,” Alice tells her in greeting, before Bella can even open her mouth. The others watch warily, and glare at anyone brave enough to turn their way. Bella waits. “Knowing what I did, I shouldn’t have given Leah the impression that you and I were more than just friends. That was childish of me and unfair to you and to Leah. I apologise.”

 

Bella narrows her eyes for a moment. “Okay. As long as you know you fucked up, then fine. I forgive you.”

 

Alice nods, and then says softly, “And I’m sorry about our stand off in your doorway. You shouldn’t have seen that.”

 

Rosalie steps forward, and tells her seriously, “We would have preferred that our affiliation with you stay off their radar, but,” she shrugs. “There’s little we can do about it now.”

 

“Our affiliation, huh?” Bella says, “Is that what you call all your friendships, Rosalie?”

 

Rosalie gives her a scathing look, but there’s no fire behind it. Emmett, although Bella has little to do with him, shoots Bella a wink over the blonde’s shoulder, and Bella’s not really sure what it means, but she doesn’t have time to really dwell on it for long, as Alice insists Rosalie walks with her to class.

 

“I need to speak with my darling Jasper,” she coos, a twinkle in her eye as she latches onto his arm, “Soothe his ego and all that- can’t have him worrying you’re going to steal me away.”

 

Bella looks warily to Jasper, who looks as though he’s hiding a smirk.

 

“She’s all yours,” she assures him, “She’s more than I can handle anyway.”

 

Which is funny considering she’s probably the easiest Cullen to get along with.

 

“I appreciate the reassurance,” he drawls, “Would do no good to have you stealing my lady.”

 

“As if you stood a chance,” Edward adds, shooting Bella a crooked smirk, “Those two are so disgustingly in love that it’s sickening.”

 

Rosalie and Bella leave the others to bicker among themselves and walk to class in silence. Bella’s not uncomfortable in Rosalie’s presence, but she could do without the staring and the whispers. The school will have a field day with it, she’s sure. When she spots Lauren and Jessica staring and whispering together, she’s tempted to go over make sure her nose doesn’t heal for good.

 

“You know, I really hate that bitch.” Bella says. Rosalie doesn’t even have to look to know who she’s talking about. “Why the fuck are they always staring?”

 

“They’re jealous.” Rosalie responds. Her eyes swing casually in Bella’s direction, as she adds, “Wait for Alice if it bothers you- you’ll certainly get less attention with her.”

 

“I’m happy walking with you.”

 

“Then why are you complaining?”

 

“I don’t like people staring.”

Rosalie snorts. “You’d better get used to it if you’re hanging around our family.”

 

They’re inside the building now and it doesn’t take long for them to find their classroom. The bell has yet to ring, so the hallways are mostly empty. Bella leans back against the wall, cringing as she relives the moment she first spoke to the blonde. It’s a miracle Rosalie speaks to her at all.

 

Rosalie mirrors her position opposite her.

 

“How do you handle it?” Bella asks her, “I did the exact same thing to you- how the fuck didn’t you break my nose?”

 

“I won’t lie- it was very tempting, but not for the reasons you might think.” Rosalie admits. Her gaze is thoughtful as she looks at Bella though, and the look in her eye makes her inexplicably nervous. “If we’re being honest right now, then I wanted you to be different.”

 

Bella swallows back her nerves as she asks, “Different how?”

 

“I didn’t want you to stare from across the parking lot- I didn’t want you to whisper with your friends about me.”

 

Bella pauses, asking awkwardly, “How’d you know I did that?”

 

Naturally this is the first time Rosalie grins- like really grins, at something Bella’s said, and she feels her heart stutter in her chest because it’s so fucking beautiful- just the barest hint of that ice peeking through. It’s almost playful- secretive.

 

“Oh, fuck,” she whispers, grabbing at her chest, “Warn a girl, would you.”

 

“You can’t tell me you’ve never seen me smile.”

 

“Correction; I’ve never seen you smile at me.” Bella laughs, but it sounds awkward, because really, there’s no way to respond to that without sounding like a creep. She doesn’t know when to stop though, adding hurriedly, “I mean, have you looked in a mirror recently?”

 

Rosalie tilts her head, purring, “Aw, do you think I’m pretty, Swan?”

 

Bella’s heart thunders in her chest. Rosalie Hale is so beyond pretty that it makes her breathless. When her dark eyes flicker to her chest, to that spot right above her heart, Bella doesn’t know how she knows, but she’s sure Rosalie can hear it. She raises a fine eyebrow and it’s then, with a sinking feeling in her gut, that Bella realises Rosalie isn’t about to let this go. She knows Bella thinks she’s pretty- she just wants to hear her say it.

 

“I think you’re beautiful,” Bella breathes out, “But you already know that.”

 

Bella doesn’t know when it happens, but Rosalie is suddenly so close that they’re practically sharing the same breath, and fuck, is everything about Rosalie so icy? Bella wonders why it feels so good- is it the desire in her dark eyes? The danger she feels beneath every word and touch?

 

Bella craves it like nothing else.

 

“Do you want me to break your heart?” Rosalie asks, referring to one of the very first things Bella said to her. Bella shakes her head and Rosalie’s expression, for the briefest moment, softens as she adds, “Are you going to break mine?”

 

Despite how softly they’re spoken, the threat is clear in those words, and fuck, if it doesn’t shoot straight to places that are super inappropriate given where they’re currently having this conversation.

 

“I wouldn’t fucking dream of it.” she tells her, meaning every word. Truer words have never been spoken, Bella thinks, and something deep inside of her- something that rebelled when Leah touched her, comes to life now and fucking sings. Her heart is beating to the sound of it, and Bella’s feeling a little light headed when she adds, “Not to alarm you, but I think I’m about to have a coronary.”

 

That grin is back and, as Rosalie takes a step backward, Bella is seriously considering calling an ambulance because this so far from fucking normal that it’s highly alarming to her.

 

Rosalie tilts her head, saying, “Your heart sounds perfectly normal to me, Bella.”

 

The teacher comes and Rosalie breezes into the classroom, leaving Bella with just one thought- and it’s not that Rosalie can apparently hear her heart racing. That should be what she focuses on, but it isn’t.

 

She called me Bella.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Alice sees Bella in History, it comes as no surprise that somehow she just fucking knows what happened between her and Rosalie. She’s wearing this shit eating grin when Bella walks into the classroom that Bella wants to ignore, but really can’t because her face is a traitorous whore and flushes a deep crimson.

 

It’s so embarrassing (hardly anything even happened, for fuck sake), and Alice giggles as Bella takes her seat.

 

“You’re too cute, Bella.” Alice whispers to her. She sits one table behind Bella, and goddamn it, Bella is not going to turn around and be teased more. “I think pink is my new favourite colour on you.”

 

“I hate you.”

 

“You don’t, but okay.” Alice says, and when Bella glares over her shoulder at her, she blows her a kiss and giggles.

 

“Ugh,” Bella mutters, “I’m not even going to ask how you know what happened. You’re a creepy little thing when you want to be, you know.”

 

“You don’t even know the half of it.”

 

Bella ignores her as the teacher call the class to attention.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the next few months, Alice seems content to take a backseat to whatever the fuck is playing out between Bella and Rosalie. She takes her chances to tease and to coo, but Bella can’t say that she hates it. Honestly, she loves how comfortable her friendship with Alice is.

 

Bella’s no genius, but she gets a better understanding of Rosalie after their little conversation in the corridor that day. Rosalie hates attention, but she wants Bella’s, and she wants it in one of the most open and honest ways, so Bella does what she thinks (hopes) Rosalie wants.

 

She makes an effort.

 

She waits by her truck in the mornings with her friends, as she always does, but when she sees that familiar Jeep pull into the parking lot, she says goodbye to her friends and she walks to class with Rosalie. There’s still staring and whispering, but Bella decides to take a page from the blonde’s book and ignore them.

 

Alice invites her over to stay one Friday night- she meets their mother Esme (oh my god, why are they all so fucking beautiful!?), and later their father, the good Doctor, Carlisle Cullen. Esme cooks Bella the most mouth watering piece of roast lamb that she’s ever had the good fortune to put in her mouth and whips up a gravy from the juices that is more heavenly than Jesus himself.

 

Bella doesn’t even blink in surprise when suddenly everyone is too busy to eat and they all disappear. Esme doesn’t bother with pretences though, gives no excuses as to why she isn’t eating- she just sits on the kitchen stool and watches Bella with such a motherly expression upon her lovely face that, for a moment, Bella actually feels like one of her children.

 

It makes her miss her own.

 

“This is amazing, Esme.” Bella moans, stuffing a crunchy roast potato in her mouth, “I think I’m going to have to eat here every Friday night.”

 

Esme smiles. “Please do,” she replies, and offers her the gravy pot, “More gravy, Bella?”

 

Friday nights become sleepover night at the Cullen house, and it’s by some unspoken agreement that Bella spends that time in the living spaces only. No one offers her a tour upstairs, and Bella understands on some instinctual level not to ask for any.

 

Like their eating habits (or lack thereof), it just is.

 

She spends most of those nights with Alice, but she notices that Rosalie is never far from them on those nights. She joins them when they watch movies or play video games, and complains when they choose to watch a show she doesn’t like- but Bella notices that she’s never really annoyed enough to leave the room, so she doesn’t think she minds as much as she pretends to. She even tags along when they decide to go for a walk through the woods and down to the lake on their (very vast) property.

 

It’s a lovely spot, and it’s become one of Bella’s favourite places.

 

One particular Friday evening Alice decides to go for a swim (which Bella steadfastly refuses, because holy shit, does that girl not feel the cold or what), and it leaves her with the perfect opportunity to ask Rosalie what’s been playing on her mind for months.

 

“Rosalie?”

 

The woman in question hums, face firmly planted once more in her phone.

 

“Do you mind if I ask what’s so interesting?”

 

That gets Rosalie’s attention, and she looks up, a curious little frown on her lips that Bella finds kind of adorable.

 

“Sorry?”

 

Grinning, Bella motions to her phone with her chin, saying, “You’re phone. You’re always on it. I was wondering if you’d share why.”

 

Not that Bella thinks it’s possible, but she swears Rosalie looks embarrassed for a moment. She shoves her phone back in her pocket, shrugging as she answers, “It’s just an auction site that I keep tabs on, that’s all.”

 

“What are they auctioning off? Stolen goods? Crack? Must be something good- it always has your attention.”

 

Rosalie smirks. “Well, I suppose there might be some stolen goods on there- I wouldn’t rule it out.”

 

Bella snorts. “You’re not going to tell me, are you.”

 

Bella tries to keep her words light, but she can’t really hide her annoyance, minor though it is. Rosalie is fiercely private- they all are, but sometimes Bella wishes the blonde would open up a little. She’s not asking about their diet, or their weird obsession with videoing mundane shit- but still Bella feels like she’s being purposely left out of things that aren’t as important as all the others apparently are.

 

Rosalie senses the shift in the air, and for a long moment, it’s quiet. Alice is wading through the water ten or so metres down the bank, and even though she’s far enough away that she shouldn’t be able to hear them, Bella has this sneaking suspicion that she’s hearing much more of this than she’d like, and choosing to give them the illusion of privacy anyway.

 

“It’s an auction site for car parts,” Rosalie admits, finally, adding, “I like cars.”

 

Frowning, Bella turns her head to the side to find Rosalie looking very determined not to make eye contact. She’s uncomfortable- talking about herself, Bella realises. Bella says nothing, and simply decides to wait and see if Rosalie will share more.

 

She does.

 

Sort of.

 

“I like working on cars.”

 

Bella allows herself a small smile, asking, “Like, fixing them and shit? Cause that’s kind of hot- not gonna lie.”

 

Mainly she says it to lighten the mood (truth or not), and it seems to work as the blonde rolls her eyes but can’t quite hide her amusement from Bella. Bella’s beginning to read Rosalie’s body language a bit better- her shoulders loosen and she seems more relaxed when she finally catches Bella’s eyes.

 

“You’re disgusting.”

 

“Am not,” Bella responds, then adds with a waggle of her eyebrows, “Will you let me watch?”

 

Rosalie points a thin finger at her, warning, “If you were anyone else, I’d break your nose for that comment and I wouldn’t even feel bad.”

 

“Worth it.” she tells her, “At least now you’re smiling.”

 

“And you’re heart is pounding again.”

 

It is, and Bella isn’t even slightly surprised that Rosalie knows it. Smiling, she turns back to the lake and, drawing her knees to her chest, lays her chin on her folded arms. Alice is making her way back up to them now, and she looks as happy as Bella feels.

 

“If heart failure is the risk I have to take in order to see you smile, then I’d say it’s worth it.” she tells her softly, “Thank you for telling me.”

 

“You’re welcome.” Rosalie responds after a beat, adding, “And if you play your cards right, I might let you watch me rebuild your Chevy during the winter.”

 

And then Rosalie is up and gone, walking back toward the house without a care in the world- as though she’s completely unaware of the effect those words have on her, when Bella knows full well that Rosalie knows exactly what effect she has.

 

“Close your mouth, Bella,” Alice teases as she arrives, “You’re drooling.”

 

Bella snaps her mouth closed, muttering, “Fuck you, kitten.”

 

But her eyes don’t leave the spot where Rosalie disappeared, and there’s no real venom in her words, and Alice’s response is just tinkling laughter.

 

“I think there might be some objections from my lovely sister if I were to take you up on that.” she says, shaking the ice cold fucking water droplets from her hair and making Bella shriek and jump to her feet. Alice is smirking as she adds, “Sorry, just looked as though you needed some cooling down.”

 

Friday nights at the Cullen house involve a lot more of Rosalie after their moment by the lake, and Bella can’t say that she’s disappointed by the development.

 

The days get colder and Autumn is almost well and truly over. December is almost here. A few weeks later, Bella finds herself sitting on the porch of the Cullen house with a thick woollen blanket wrapped around her shoulders, watching in the fading daylight as Esme putters about in her garden.

 

Why she’s out there at such a late hour, Bella doesn’t bother to wonder. The Cullens are an odd family- she doesn’t question it. Her phone buzzes in her pocket, and when she plucks it out and sees a text notification from Leah, her heart seizes in her chest.

 

She and Leah still aren’t talking, so the anxiety is real when she opens it.

 

*I miss you- I’m sorry… can we talk? ~ L

 

Bella doesn’t know how to respond- she thinks it’s kind of obvious that she’s been avoiding the reservation and, in particular, Leah. She’s not ready, and thinking back on her friend’s hurtful words only serves to make her angry. Her apology does little to soothe her pain.

 

Bella shoves her phone back in her pocket.

 

“Problem?” Rosalie asks, stepping outside. She has a steaming mug in her hands, and as she sits on the step beside Bella, she offers it to her. “I made you a hot chocolate, since you insist on watching my mother garden at dusk.”

 

Bella takes the warm mug in her hands, and the warmth is instant. She takes a sip, and teases, “You made it exactly the way I like it. You’ve been paying attention.”

 

“A secret to no one, I’m sure.” Rosalie responds. She stretches out on the porch, and her undivided attention is once again on Bella. “Now tell me what happened. You’re upset, and given no one here has spoken to you, I have to assume it has to do with the buzzing of your phone.”

 

Bella rolls her eyes toward the blonde. “Is it even worth me asking how you heard that?”

 

“No.”

 

Bella scoffs out a laugh. “Figures. It’s nothing, Rosalie, really.”

 

“Clearly it’s something, Swan.”

 

Rosalie hasn’t called her by her first name again- not once, but Bella finds that she doesn’t mind. It’s all the more special when she does, she thinks. Bella decides to be honest.

 

“Leah text me.”

 

Her reaction isn’t noticeable- not to most. Bella catches just the faintest of scowls twist her lips, but again, it’s gone as quickly as it comes. She waits for Bella to speak- apparently content not to push her. Bella can sense her unease though.

 

“I haven’t seen her or tried to talk to her since that morning with Alice.” Bella tells her, dropping her eyes to the mug in her hands. “I try not to think about it much, because when I do, the anxiety feels like it’ll cripple me. She wants to talk, and I don’t know that I want to.”

 

“It’s your decision, but you don’t owe her anything.”

 

“I feel like I do though,” she whispers, afraid to be talking about this with Rosalie, “How much did Alice tell you about what happened?”

 

“Alice is many things,” Rosalie says, “But a gossip isn’t one of them. She hasn’t told me anything.”

 

Bella’s gaze drifts accusingly to the blonde. “But you know more than you should. Again,” she says, holding up her hands in surrender, “I’m not going to ask how. I just assume that everyone is this house knows the ins and outs of everyone’s business. Do you want to know what happened?”

 

The answer is clear to Bella, but there’s hesitation that she doesn’t entirely understand until Rosalie informs her, “I’d be happy to hear whatever you want to share, but as you no doubt suspect, it won’t stay between just us here.”

 

“I already assumed that,” Bella says, giving her a weak smile, “There are no secrets in the Cullen house.”

 

Rosalie doesn’t answer, but her gaze softens as she gives the barest of nods. Confirmation. Bella looks back out to the garden, to where Esme has disappeared inside the green house to tend to her herbs.

 

“Leah was my best friend growing up. A lot of my firsts were with her, you know? It was cunt move, really- I knew she wanted more but I always held back because Forks wasn’t my home.” Bella tells her quietly, “It would have been worse if my twelve year old self made her all these promises and then hopped on a plane back to Phoenix. I got sick of being shuffled between my parents- so I put my foot down and I told mom I wasn’t coming back.”

 

There’s a gust of wind, and Bella shivers as she brings her mug to her lips.

 

“So anyway, fast forward five years and here I am. Leah and I fell back into whatever the fuck it was we started when we were twelve- we were just… fooling around, you know? It was fun and I really liked her.” Bella admits, desperately avoiding eye contact with the blonde. “Maybe I could have wanted more with her, but we never really got to that point. I came to school one morning and I saw you, and we all know how that went, right? Leah and I…” she clears her throat, whispering, “I mean, I tried, but everything felt so wrong- like her touch physically made me-”

 

“… I understand,” Rosalie responds stiffly, and at her question gaze, shakes her head. “I’ll tell you another time, but… I know.”

 

Bella nods and, like all things, accepts it. She suspects it probably has to do with Emmett, but the thought doesn’t upset her.

 

“I avoided her after that, and when we finally talked about it, I couldn’t really mention any of that,” Bella continues instead, “I wouldn’t have known how to explain it to her anyway. I broke her heart- she wanted more, and maybe I might have been able to give her that before, but not now, and I feel fucking terrible for hurting her. Again. That’s when Alice came to stay, and the whole stand off on my front porch went down, and I haven’t really spoken to Leah since.”

 

It hurts to say it all out loud, but as Rosalie mulls over her words, Bella feels lighter- as though a weight has lifted. It small, but it’s there.

 

“I stand by what I said- you don’t owe her anything.”

 

Bella knows she’s right, but there’s still the guilty part of her that says she should talk to her. Bella finishes her drink, and no sooner has she placed her mug down on the step, does Rosalie get to her feet.

 

“Come inside,” she tells her, holding out a hand to help Bella up, “You’re lips are turning blue.”

 

“Maybe that’s why I’m so fascinated by your mom’s garden.”

 

“Because your lips are the same shade as her Buddliea flowers?”

 

Bella snorts with laughter, but accepts the blonde’s help to stand. “No, because she’s still managing to keep her garden alive as the weather gets colder- but you seem awfully obsessed with my lips all of a sudden. Who are you and what have you done with Rosalie Hale?”

 

Rosalie pulls a little too much, and Bella loses her footing and practically ends up in the blonde’s arms. Bella can feel her blood pound in her ears, as Rosalie says, “I’m not obsessed with your lips.”

 

Bella begs to differ because, right at this very moment, Rosalie’s eyes drift purposely downward to said lips, and fuck if that doesn’t do lovely things to Bella’s insides. She squirms, because maybe (definitely) she’s feeling the heat of that stare right now.

 

“You’re a shit liar.” Bella teases, trying to distract herself.

 

Rosalie’s nostrils flare, and the smirk that twists her lips is beyond lurid. “Or perhaps I just don’t want you to believe me.”

 

There’s a hand holding Bella’s hip, just above the waistband of her jeans, and Bella is acutely aware of it, as well as the chill of Rosalie’s breath against her lips.

 

When did she get this close?

 

They’re so close that Bella can make out the different shades of black in her eyes- and there are in fact, an array of colours to be found there, Bella thinks. She wants to kiss her- and there would be nothing to stop her save Rosalie herself, and Bella doesn’t think the blonde is likely to do that. But still- Bella worries.

 

And Esme is puttering about in the greenhouse- what if she’s watching?

 

“So, if you’re lying, then you are obsessed with my lips,” Bella manages to say, although it’s difficult to form words, “Seems weird that you haven’t kissed me yet, if that’s the case.”

 

She wishes she was smoother, but somehow she thinks her experience is sorely lacking in this dance. She doesn’t miss the way Rosalie’s eyes flash though.

 

“Why must I be the one to kiss you?”

 

Literally everything about Rosalie Hale screams unyielding strength- her withering glare probably having reduced weaker people to tears. Bella’s not weak though, and being almost reduced to tears out of sheer panic doesn’t count as far as she’s concerned, but the fact still remains- she’s not quite brave enough to presume anything, least of all what Rosalie want’s her to do with her own lips. Apparently she wants to be kissed? Is that permission?

 

Bella can’t decide- it’s not something she wants to fuck up.

 

Rosalie tilts her head just slightly. “Alice would like me to assure you that the answer is yes.”

 

Bella blinks. “What?”

 

“She says you’re ‘too much of a pussy’ to ask me yourself.” Rosalie continues and, raising an eyebrow, challenges in a low voice, “Is she right? Are you too afraid to ask me what I want?”

 

Again, Bella doesn’t know the how or why, or really any of it, and she doesn’t care to ask. It is what it is. Alice is talking to Rosalie and Rosalie can hear her. Okay. But the far more pressing matter…

 

“Do you want me to kiss you?” Bella finally asks, throwing caution to the wind. There, it’s done. There’s no taking it back now, she thinks.

 

Rosalie’s gaze drifts to Bella’s lips once more, and slowly wander back up to her eyes.

 

“Do you really need me to answer that?”

 

Bella gives a hesitant nod. “I mean, if I kiss you and it’s not what you want, you’re likely to murder me- and even though I’m joking, a deeper part of me knows that you’re fully capable of it.”

 

There’s just something about Rosalie- about all of the Cullens, really.

 

“You’re right- I am, and I would get away with it, too. No one would find your body.” Rosalie tells her seriously, a moment before her gaze softens. She reaches out and a cool hand holds Bella’s face, her icy touch gentle in comparison to her grizzly words, and Bella feels no fear as she breathes against her lips, “Your insistence on permission means more than I can tell you, and perhaps one day you’ll understand why that is,” she pauses for a moment to let the sincerity of her words sink in, before adding, “Yes, Bella, I would very much like for you to kiss me.”

 

Alice- nosy little shit that she is, is right.

 

“Alice says she’s always right and to hurry up.” Rosalie’s mouth twitches in amusement, as she adds, “I’m about zero point two seconds away from tearing inside to hit her if she doesn’t shut up.”

 

“Alice can kiss my ass.”

 

Rosalie stiffens, and her eyes harden as she rolls them threateningly in the direction of the house. “No, Alice, I will not repeat that,” she says, and… Bella is amused, because now she’s not even speaking for Alice, but to her instead. “Why don’t you-”

 

Maybe it’s foolish of her to lean in when Rosalie’s is seconds away from potentially murdering her absent sister, but Bella doesn’t think she’ll have the courage if Rosalie is actively looking at her, so she takes her chance. Her lips steal the rest of the words right from her mouth. It’s quick- really, it’s not much more than a tender press of their lips, but it’s effective. Bella barely has time to pull back and take a breath- Rosalie follows her and her eyes slip shut as their lips meet a second time.

 

She’s unbelievably gentle when her hand resumes it’s place on Bella’s face, cupping her cheek, kissing her with a hunger that Bella feels deep in her belly. It’s heated and a bit clumsy as they learn each other’s rhythm, and Bella is maybe a little too excited as she deepens the kiss and Rosalie allows it.

 

“As much as I would love to continue this,” Rosalie breathes, halting the hands creeping up under her top with an amused chuckle, “Esme is literally peeking out from inside the greenhouse right now.”

 

Bella swings her head around to look, because no fucking way, right? Mothers don’t do that. But apparently Esme does, because Bella can hear the sound of her tinkling laughter from the porch.

 

No secrets in the Cullen house. Bella groans.

 

“Bet Alice isn’t far either.” she mutters.

 

“That would be correct,” Alice pipes up from the doorway. The door opens and she gives them both a little wave… with her phone, adding happily, “Hi!”

 

Bella narrows her eyes- memories of the hot chocolate fiasco coming to light.

 

“Are you videoing this?” she asks.

 

Rosalie’s head snaps in Alice’s direction, and it’s so fast that Bella almost misses it. There’s practically no colour to Alice’s face anyway, but boy, Bella is fascinated by how she seems to pale- not an easy feat for this family, Bella’s beginning to learn. Rosalie turns and takes a threatening step in her sister’s direction.

 

“For your sake, Alice, I hope she’s wrong.” she tells her quietly- menacingly. “Give me your phone.”

 

“Oh, I don’t think so,” Alice giggles, recovering from her momentary ‘oh, I fucked up’. She slowly steps back inside, inching the door closed as Rosalie stalks forward one agonising step at a time. “When Bella joins our family, she’ll want memories of these milestones that are as clear as yours. Now it’s immortalised. Jasper, darling,” Alice calls back through the house, “I believe our sister intends to leave you a widow!”

 

Rosalie pauses, and even Bella recognises a threat when she hears one- no matter how playful it may be. The fact that it stops Rosalie in her tracks is curious though. Alice takes her chance and dashes away, and Rosalie is left to glower at the spot where she stood.

 

“She’s getting you back for the hot chocolate.”

 

“Yes, but that was funny,” Rosalie tells her, returning to her side. She presses her back until Bella’s bottom touches the railing, murmuring, “Where were we?”

 

Bella tries to hide her laugh. “You were telling me we should stop because your family are creepy.”

 

“I don’t believe I phrased it quite like that.”

 

“No, but it was implied,” Bella responds and, despite finding the whole thing a little frustrating, can’t contain her amusement as she teases, “It’s a shame really- I was beginning to enjoy myself.”

 

Rosalie ducks her head and presses her lips to Bella’s jaw, whispering, “I never said we had to stop- simply implied that perhaps we should take this somewhere more private.”

 

Bella’s breath shudders. “I must have missed that.”

 

“Clearly.”

 

“Is privacy a thing in this house?” she manages to ask, although it’s hard to think straight (no pun intended, of course) with Rosalie’s cold lips at her throat. “Fuck,” she gasps when teeth scrape her flesh, and grabs at Rosalie’s shirt.

 

There’s a throaty chuckle in her ear. “Don’t rip my shirt, Swan- it’s more expensive than your entire outfit.”

 

Bella snorts, because really? Who the fuck cares about a shirt right now?

 

“Yeah, okay, princess.”

 

Rosalie makes a noise in her ear, so soft that Bella wonders for a second if she’s hearing things, until hands grip her bottom and she’s lifted. Rosalie tells her to wrap her legs around her, and honestly, Bella doesn’t need to be told twice. The look in Rosalie’s eyes says it all, and Bella can’t suppress her flush of arousal.

 

She likes being called princess.

 

“You’re a lot stronger than you look.”

 

“You have no idea,” she purrs, hunger in her eyes, “Bedroom?”

 

Bella’s torn between surprise, intrigue and arousal as she teases, “How forward of you. Won’t your mother have an issue with this?”

 

Charlie would absolutely lose his shit in this position, but amusement curls Rosalie’s lips.

 

“You’re too cute.”

 

“No issue whatsoever!” Esme says as she climbs the steps and walks on by. She throws Bella a wink, adding, “We’re only young once!”

 

And then she breaks into laughter and disappears inside, leaving Bella confused and mildly concerned for her mental health.

 

“Your family is so strange,” she tells her with a fond smile, shaking her head. Returning her attention to the woman who she’s currently wrapped around, Bella adds, “I have so many questions- I’m not going to ask them, mind you, but the list is growing as the days go by. I want you to know that. And yes, I would love to see your bedroom, princess.”

 

The hands on her ass twitch.

 

“That tongue of yours will never cease to get you in trouble.” she says in a low voice.

 

Oh, Bella thinks as she closes her eyes, one can only hope.

 

She doesn’t need to be told- Rosalie has invited her to see her bedroom, yes, but she knows that permission likely doesn’t extend to the rest of the house. Bella doesn’t ask, doesn’t question, and Rosalie doesn’t offer her anything in return, and Bella finds that she’s perfectly fine with it. Rosalie moves through the house at what seems like a suspiciously fast pace (again, not asking)- and they climb up stairs that Bella has only ever seen in passing on her way through from the living room to the kitchen. The house is quiet- a rarity, really, and soon they’re weaving through corridors and around corners, and a door opens and closes, and Rosalie taps her on the bottom- silently confirming that they’ve reached their destination.

 

Bella opens her eyes as she drops to her feet, and the first thing she sees is Rosalie’s face. It’s certainly the most important. There’s no anxiety or fear- just an easy softness that Bella finds she likes.

 

“You kept your eyes closed,” Rosalie says, tilting her head, “Weren’t you even the slightest bit curious?”

 

Bella only smiles and shrugs- because maybe it’s her turn to be mysterious, and Rosalie snorts.

 

“You’re so strange, Swan.”

 

“You’re hardly one to judge,” Bella answers, and finally turns around, “This bedroom is so you, Rosalie.”

 

“What’s that supposed to mean exactly? And be very careful with how you answer that- I’ve given you more than enough chances at this point.”

 

Large floor to ceiling windows greet her, and Bella can’t help but take a step toward them- because holy shit, Rosalie’s view of the forest is phenomenal. The bed is huge and sits in the middle of the room, but the room itself is so large that it doesn’t make the space feel even remotely cramped. Colours of black, grey and white greet her everywhere, and it’s so elegant, and so Rosalie that Bella isn’t even one bit surprised.

 

Bella spins around and, with a grin, teases, “On what planet does a teenager have a bedroom like this? Seriously. It’s like something out of the Hilton.”

 

“Have you ever actually stepped foot inside a Hilton?”

 

Rosalie kicks off her shoes as she stalks forward and, shaking her own head, it’s at this exact moment that Bella realises she really doesn’t care what Rosalie’s bedroom looks like. She’s far more interested in how comfortable that bed looks.

 

Because fuck, it looks so soft, and how great would it feel to have Rosalie press her into it? Rosalie dims the lights- leaving the room bathed in the soft glow of her LEDs.

 

The desire returns with a shaky breath- one that Rosalie steals right from her lips.

 

“Fuck, Rose,” Bella gasps, taking in a deep breath, “You’re gonna kill me if you keep this up. I swear, if you could hear my fucking heart right now-”

 

Rosalie cuts her off with her lips once more, and honestly, Bella’s not totally upset about it. Rosalie tastes like nothing else, and Bella is very quickly becoming addicted to it. She surges forward, cupping Rosalie’s cheek and, in any other situation, might have been embarrassed by the noises the blonde keeps drawing from her.

 

Without breaking their kiss, Rosalie helps her to remove first her hoodie and then her shirt. They barely pause, just briefly pulling apart long enough to pull the material over her head before Bella is kissing her again. Goosebumps ripple across her flesh and down her arms when they touch again- because now there’s no barrier to soften the blonde’s icy touch, and it sends a jolt right through her, because goddamn, Bella loves it.

 

Bella is in her underwear before it really registers, and she groans as she tugs at Rosalie’s belt, muttering into their kiss, “Why are you still dressed?”

 

Rosalie raises an eyebrow as she answers, “Because you haven’t taken my clothes off yet?”

 

Bella doesn’t need anymore permission than just that, and she’s gentle as she helps Rosalie undress, and honestly, she tries not to let her hands linger, but she can’t help herself and Rosalie doesn’t seem to mind, so she thinks where the harm in it is. Rosalie is quite clearly more experienced than Bella (she’s not an idiot), and by far she’s the stronger of the two, and yet with each kiss and caress, Bella can tell she’s holding back- can tell that Rosalie’s giving her the controls to this.

 

Her heart melts at almost the exact same time that her touch becomes just the tiniest bit firmer. Rosalie responds in kind- gripping her ass and pressing closer.

 

“Okay, princess, on the bed,” Bella giggles, pulling away and gently shoving Rosalie by the shoulders, adding, “Much more comfortable than standing.”

 

It’s like shoving a boulder, obviously, but Rosalie follows her direction, and tugs Bella down with her, cradling her between cold thighs. Her eyes are dark- hungry as they look up into Bella’s, and Bella finds she actually a little nervous now that they’re here. She never really thought that Rosalie would want her to be ‘the top’, so to speak, because that’s what this was, right? Bella is pretty sure.

 

Is that even what people still call it? Bella has no idea, and her mind drifts, but she’s brought back by cool fingers weaving through her hair- moving it off her face, she realises, and Rosalie is so tender about it.

 

“You know, Swan, I usually don’t mind when your thoughts wander,” Rosalie says, softer than Bella’s ever heard her speak. She’s smirking, just a little, and Bella knows she’s being teased as she adds, “But it’s a little inconvenient right now. What’s going on in that head of yours now?”

 

“You’re going to laugh.”

 

Bella lets her eyes drift downward, and her heart picks up it’s pace again. Rosalie is still in her underwear, and Bella doesn’t need to see the price tag to know these didn’t come from target. They’re not the typical set of lingerie that comes to mind when Bella hears the word- in fact, these are so much better, she thinks. Rosalie’s bra matches the cute little boyshorts she’s wearing, and there’s no lace, no frills, no sheer fabric- but they’re red, and they’re the hottest thing Bella’s probably ever going to see the blonde wear.

 

Like, ever.

 

“Finally you notice,” Rosalie teases, tugging gently at a lock of Bella’s brown hair, “Alice took me shopping and demanded I get these. Now I understand why.”

 

Bella licks her lips. “I can’t help that red suits you.”

 

“Well, consider yourself lucky because I don’t usually wear red,” Rosalie responds, “Alice has been so persistent during our shopping trips lately though, so I figured there must be a reason. And to be honest, I don’t mind wearing it when you look at me like that.”

 

Bella sits back, glowering as she mutters, “Seriously, can that little creep read my mind or something?”

 

“Not Alice, no.”

 

The dark twist of Rosalie’s smirk holds more amusement than Bella understands, and she doesn’t even know what to say to it, because what the fuck does she mean by that? Rosalie doesn’t give her a chance to ask, instead lifting her hips and switching their positions, and suddenly Bella finds herself sinking into the softest pillows on earth, and her eyelids are fluttering as a strong thigh settles between her legs.

 

“I don’t really want to talk about my sister right now,” she tells her, pressing a soft kiss to Bella lips, “And I’d like you to stop changing the subject, and tell me why you’re so nervous.”

 

“How do you know I’m nervous?”

 

Rosalie only pulls away and pointedly lets her eyes drift to Bella’s bra-clad chest, to that spot right where Bella’s heart is pounding away beneath her rib cage.

 

“Right, supersonic hearing, I forgot,” Bella teases, rolling her eyes, “One day I’ll get used to that.”

 

“Talk, Swan.”

 

Bella’s eyes quickly cast sideways, but Rosalie follows her, and that goddamn eyebrow is up again, fuck it- Rosalie isn’t going to let it slide. She gives the blonde an awkward smile.

 

“I just… sorta get the impression you want me to lead, and I panicked a little bit.” she admits, “Then I was thinking how I wouldn’t really classify myself as ‘a top’, and then I wondered if that term is outdated, and if there wa-”

 

Rosalie’s lips are swallowing her words again, and she groans as she’s pressed into the (unbelievably soft, what the fuck) mattress.

 

“Why does any of that matter?” Rosalie asks her, dragging her lips up her jaw to her ear, purring, “If I want you to touch me, then why does it need to be more complicated than that?” Bella shudders at her words as she adds, “Stop thinking so much, Swan, and enjoy it instead.”

 

“I’m just kinda worried I’m going to let you down?” Bella is a little embarrassed by her own self-consciousness, and her cheeks colour as she rushes to add, “I mean, I know what I’m doing and stuff, but you know what I’m like- you know I’m gonna obsess and panic over it until-”

 

Rosalie catches her lips and cuts her off mid-sentence, again, and … this is sort of becoming their thing now.

 

“Stop- I promise you have nothing to worry about.” Rosalie tells her and, dragging her lips along her jaw, scrapes her teeth against the soft flesh of Bella’s earlobe. Bella’s breath stutters as Rosalie adds, “No one has infuriated more than you have, literally from the very first moment I laid eyes on you, and do you know why?”

 

“Because I never know when to shut up?”

 

Rosalie breathes a scoffing laugh in her ear and hums, “True though that might be- I find it most infuriating because you never know when to shut up, and it pisses me off that I find that quality in you so fucking attractive.”

 

Bella almost wants to laugh herself, but a moan gets caught in her throat when lips attach viciously at the junction of her throat and she feels teeth clamp down on the muscle there.

 

Not hard enough to break skin, but Bella knows there will be a bruise there in the morning.

 

God, Rose,” she pants, “I’m sorry? You’re welcome? I don’t know which one you want to hear right now.”

 

Rosalie takes Bella’s hand in her own, and guides it down between their bodies. Bella is breathless as she feels bare skin everywhere her fingertips brush, and her heart stutters in her chest when she feels Rosalie’s hips lift just so, her mind finally catching up to just where her hand is going.

 

Rosalie lifts her head and they make eye contact, her dark gaze quiet- intense as she searches for permission. Bella is nodding before she can even really think about it, because yes, she absolutely wants this. She slips their hands beneath the thick elastic band of her underwear, and Bella’s world is lost- she is lost but somehow found both at the same time as she watches Rosalie’s eyes slip shut, and it’s almost surreal- hearing the way her breath catches in her throat when Bella’s warm fingers press against her.

 

Rosalie is slick and, it seems, cool to the touch literally fucking everywhere. There’s no warmth here, or overwhelming heat as is the case with Leah (which, Bella thinks quickly, is not what she needs to be thinking about right now), but she finds that she likes it.

 

She’s always liked the cold, and Rosalie is no exception.

 

“You’re welcome,” Bella manages to say, “It’s definitely you’re welcome- that’s what you want to hear.”

 

Rosalie can’t resist smirking as her heavy eyes flutter open, but there’s a darkness to it that calls to Bella- a warning as the blonde breathes, “Do you ever shut up?”

 

“No.”

 

Bella giggles, and then Rosalie is leaning down and kissing her again- harder and deeper than before, removing her own hand from between her legs so she can hold herself above her more comfortably. It doesn’t honestly look super comfortable for the blonde, but she doesn’t seem likely to complain, Bella thinks. She drags the tips of her fingers up- against Rosalie, so gently that they’re barely touching her, but Rosalie’s hips catch at the touch, and Bella grins as she removes her hand.

 

“I think we’re still way too over dressed for this,” Bella tells her, “Take these off.”

 

There’s lots of kissing and touching, hips lifting and limbs moving, and it’s kind of awkward and perfect at the same time- so much so that even Rosalie can’t hide her amusement. Bella laughs- breathless with want as she pushes Rosalie to the bed.

 

“You’re right- I do want to touch you, and I’m gonna enjoy it, princess.”

 

Rosalie doesn’t bother with a response- only tugs Bella down so that she can claim her lips again. Bella doesn’t even really have time to appreciate the beauty before her- Rosalie isn’t the most patient woman, she knows, but apparently being turned on makes her even less so. Bella giggles as a strong leg winds around her hips and pulls her close with so much force that their noses bump painfully.

 

“Fuck, Rose, take it easy,” Bella says, pulling back to lick her lips. She grins, adding, “Otherwise you’ll break my nose after all, and I’m pretty sure the last thing you want right now is me bleeding all over you and ruining the mood.”

 

Rosalie’s eyes are black and her grin borders on feral as she purrs, “That’s not likely to ruin my mood at all.”

 

Bella pauses and can’t quite contain her suspicion as she asks, “Are you saying you want me to bleed all over your pretty face?” Rosalie’s eyes flutter shut at the thought, and Bella realises that yes, the blonde may in fact be into that idea- which is… kind of weird. Another thing to add to the list of oddities that is the Cullens. “You’re a bit more kinky than a princess ought to be, you know. I like it.”

 

She’s more amused than anything else, and maybe a little turned on by the idea, because uh, hello, blood kinks reminded Bella of vampires- and of her latest literary obsession. Not that Bella would ever really play around with blood, but a nice, dirty fantasy is good for the soul, she thinks.

 

“But seriously,” she continues to tease, setting a playful kiss to Rosalie’s jaw, “If you break my nose, I won’t be happy.”

 

Shut up,” Rosalie manages to say, breathless and needy, all rolled into one, “I’m not actually going to break your nose, but if you don’t touch me soon, I might fucking bite you instead.”

 

Fuck, Rose.”

 

Okay, that thought is almost enough to send Bella over the edge, and even she’s a little embarrassed about the way her breath stutters at the threat. Is it really a threat when it’s so appealing though? Now all she can think about is Rosalie Hale biting her- like really biting her, and she’s pretty sure she’s never going to sleep without naughty dreams like ever again.

 

When their lips meet again, Bella feels teeth on her bottom lip and she damn near loses it at the sensation. She doesn’t think she can wait much longer either. Bella’s hand drops back down between Rosalie’s legs, and her touch is not so soft now- their kisses not quite as playful. There are fingers digging into her small of Bella’s back, but even though she can feel the sting, she just knows that Rosalie is holding back- that she’s capable of so much more.

 

It’s as terrifying as it is insanely hot, and Bella doesn’t need to be told how messed up that is to know it’s true. She knows, and she just really doesn’t fucking care. With each circle of her fingers against her clit- each roll of Rosalie’s hips to meet her touch, Bella’s losing the ability to think clearly. She drags her fingers down and up again, and the hands digging into her back twitch and tighten, pulling her impossibly closer, panting and whining against the side of her face in desperation.

 

“Yes, fuck, Bella,” Rosalie manages through a soft moan, almost apologetic, “You’re going to bruise- I’m sorry.”

 

With her arms aching from the exertion, Bella manages to pant, “Don’t care- worth it. Bruise me, bite me- just don’t break my fucking nose.”

 

With a breathless laugh, Rosalie pulls her down into a kiss, muttering, “Stop tempting me-” she cuts off with another soft moan as Bella carefully presses a single finger into her, nodding her head as she moans, “Yes, please- more.

 

Bella presses a second finger into her, and her brain damn near short-circuits as she’s enveloped by the blonde’s cold desire- muscles so strong hugging against her fingers tight enough that it almost hurts. She’s drawing noises from deep within the blonde that even her wildest dreams couldn’t have prepared her for- and her own body is on fire with want. Sweat drips down her forehead and trickles down her back, and her entire body is aching with the effort, but Rosalie is beautiful beneath her, and when Bella can no longer keep her head up, she drops her forehead to the blonde’s collarbone.

 

It doesn’t take long- Bella can feel it, can hear it in the noises she makes- Rosalie is close. The palm of Bella’s hand is pressing against her clit with each thrust and roll of Rosalie’s hips, and when a hand winds through her hair and pulls, Bella can’t resist her- she lifts her head and the most desperate black eyes seek her own.

 

There’s a question in them, but Bella can’t think clearly enough to even begin to guess what.

 

Bella leans in and, kissing her, pants against her lips, “Tell me what you need, Rose.”

 

Rosalie’s eyes roll with a particularly deep thrust, and she whines with need as she asks desperately, “Were you serious about the biting?”

 

Bella thinks it’s a bit of a weird question, cause like, it’s not as though she hasn’t been bitten during sex before- but this is different, she knows it. Instinct tells her that, like everything about Rosalie Hale, this isn’t the same. She grins.

 

“You won’t break my nose though, right?” she teases her, unable to help herself, and Rosalie literally fucking growls at her in response.

 

No,” she says, her grip at the back of her neck tightening, “No broken noses- but there will definitely be blood,” she presses closer, groaning softly, “I’ve never wanted this badly before- please.”

 

Bella senses the seriousness- how can she not? There’s so much about Rosalie Hale and her family that raises eyebrows, and somehow she knows this goes so much deeper than just a blood kink. She also senses it’s much more dangerous. Her touch softens as she contemplates- as she searches Rosalie’s eyes for an answer to a question she hasn’t asked. Desire, want, desperation- Bella sees it all, but it’s the reassurance she’s after. To know it’s safe, for her, for Rosalie. She finds it, eventually and, with a soft kiss, she nods. She’s not sure what she’s consenting to exactly- doesn’t know what the actual danger is, but she knows that with Rosalie, she’s safe.

 

She picks up her pace again, and the rocking of Rosalie’s hips against her fingers is long and drawn. Bella’s no fool- she knows the blonde is holding back, and there’s as much frustration in her cries as there is pleasure. Bella soothes her- kissing her neck, her shoulders, and with a shuddering breath she feels Rosalie’s hand tangle in her hair and pull. Bella groans.

 

“Are you sure?” Rosalie asks, with this rasp to her voice that sends goosebumps down Bella’s spine. Bella nods, somewhat desperate now, and groans as the grip in her hair tightens- gentle as she guides her head to where she wants her. Cool breath pants against her throat as lips brush the flushed skin there, and Rosalie whines again, needy. “Fuck- don’t stop.”

 

Rosalie is close. She feels her kiss and suck at that spot on her neck- the one that drives Bella wild, and with a cry of her own, Rosalie’s sharp teeth pierce her throat. It painful at first- every draw of blood burns for the briefest moment… but then there’s nothing but pure euphoric bliss, and Bella feels that familiar explosion of heat between her legs, and she’s crying out with Rosalie as they come apart together.

 

Her entire body is shaking- trembling as she comes down from her (very unexpected) orgasm- Rosalie’s hips are still pressing into her- her movements more jerky as she rides out her own, and she’s licking Bella’s throat now, soothing the sting, moaning, and Bella draws in a shaky breath that sounds like something a dying animal would make as she collapses on top of the blonde.

 

“Holy shit, Rose.”

 

She can’t really think of anything else as she lays there and tries to catch her breath. Rosalie hums- breathless herself, and her hands drift down, fingers digging into the small of Bella’s back as she stretches her body out beneath her weight.

 

Bella attempts to move off her, but Rosalie holds her tight.

 

“No- stay, please,” she murmurs, “You’re so nice and warm.”

 

She is- extra toasty even, she thinks, but she can rapidly feel the warmth leaving her. For the moment though, she’s okay, so she stays, and it suits her just fine because she doesn’t really have the energy to move after what has to be probably the most intense orgasm of her fucking life.

 

Instead, she reaches to the bedding beside her blindly, and pulls it over them- cocooning them both. Rosalie helps, tucking in the edges so no excess heat can escape, and Bella lays with her eyes closed, feeling as though she’s simultaneously floating and sinking at the same time- drifting off to sleep.

 

She really should get off the blonde- she’s not light, but she doesn’t move. Instead, she tucks her head in beneath Rosalie’s chin and settles into her side more comfortably. Cool fingers dance across the expanse of her back and sides, up and down, and lips press to her hairline and brush the tips of her pink ears.

 

“Sleep, Bella.” Rosalie whispers.

 

Bella falls asleep to the sounds of her own soft breaths.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bella wakes in the morning more relaxed and well rested than she’s ever felt. She feels great, like her whole body is alight with this feeling she never knew was missing. Her heart feels full and it’s a strange feeling- so strange that as she groans and rolls onto her back, stretching her aching limbs, she reaches up to rub absently at her chest.

 

She can feel the smile stretching her lips.

 

“You sleep for an abnormally long time, do you realise that?” a soft voice teases from beside her, “I was almost ready to fetch Carlisle.”

 

“Liar,” Bella mutters, not bothering to open her eyes. She yawns and stretches her arms above her head, groaning, “S’time?”

 

It can’t be that late. There’s a moment of silence as Rosalie shifts next to her, and Bella can hear the amusement in her voice as she responds.

 

“Nearly midday. You’ve been asleep for almost eleven hours.”

 

Bella’s eyes snap open and she tries to sit up, but given the head rush she gets when she does, she thinks it’s a bad idea and falls back to the bed with a groan. Now that she’s waking up a bit more, she’s beginning to feel the little niggling headache behind her eyes. She rubs her head, eyes shut tight, and feels Rosalie reach over to brush a thick strand of hair from off her face.

 

“You need to take it easy,” she tells her, “As fun as last night was, it might not have been my smartest idea.”

 

“Ugh, don’t start that bullshit with me- I regret nothing.” Bella responds, and despite the pain in her head, it’s true. She feels Rosalie releases a breath of laughter against the side of her face, right before lips press softly to her jaw. “Are you okay after last night?”

 

Rosalie hums. “More than okay. Why?”

 

Bella feels like that’s a trick question and she can’t quite keep it out of her tone as she says, “Um, because I think you kinda went all Dracula on my neck last night?” Bella turns her head and peeks through one eye, but she can’t see much- the curtains are drawn and it’s still fairly dark in the room. She’s hoping to make eye contact, but Rosalie has her eyes closed. She looks content- peaceful, and happy as she lays on her side. Bella smiles, but she’s still a little concerned, and she asks, “Seriously though, Rosalie, are you alright? Cause like, I was sort of under the impression that people shouldn’t drink blood. How are you not vomiting right now?”

 

Bella sees a grin curl her lips as she murmurs, “Only you would bring up vomiting after last night.”

 

She shrugs and (slowly) rolls onto her side to face the blonde. She pulls her pillow up under her chin more comfortably and closes her eyes.

 

“It’s a legitimate concern,” she explains, “Would you prefer I not care?”

 

“I love that you care, Bella.” she tells her softly, “But I would prefer that, like the many things you notice but do not say about my family and I, that you do not ask.”

 

Her eyes flutter open as she considers Rosalie’s request- and her heart feels so full and warm, that she knows she won’t deny her.

 

“Okay, I won’t ask.” she agrees, “Will you look at me now?”

 

There’s no hesitation this time- no pause, no consideration or thought. Rosalie’s eyes open, slowly, and Bella catches her intense stare the second that they do, and fuck it, she can’t look away once she has. Her heart picks up it’s pace, but it’s not out of fear or nervousness- she knows this.

 

“Your eyes are red.”

 

Like rubies…

 

Rosalie eyebrow lifts just so. “You said you wouldn’t ask.”

 

Like a deep red wine...

 

“And I didn’t.”

 

Like the crimson glory roses that used to grow in grandma’s garden...

 

Bella is mesmerised- she won’t deny it, and neither seem in a hurry to break away.

 

Like blood...

 

Reaching across slowly so as not to startle her, Bella cups Rosalie’s cold cheek and they kiss so softly- so sweetly that Bella can swear she sees hearts and star behind her closed eyes. She’s smiling- she knows she is, and she doesn’t want to stop. It’s kind of fucked up, but she doesn’t care.

 

“Good morning, Rose,” she murmurs, “That’s what I should have started with.” Rosalie scoffs a laugh- almost unbelieving, but she leans into their kiss as Bella breathes out, “Did you sleep as well as I did? Cause holy shit, I slept great.”

 

“No.”

 

Bella pulls away, grinning as she says, “Of course you didn’t.”

 

There’s no surprise, no resentment- Rosalie isn’t lying to her exactly, simply… omitting the truth, Bella thinks. As she always has, and Bella won’t ask. Why, she’s not sure, but they keep their secrets for a reason and she knows it must be important. Besides, she’s pretty sure she knows enough, and maybe it’s stupid, and maybe she reads too much dark fantasy and watches too many Hollywood movies, but the answer is there and it feels so right- she knows.

 

She’s almost fucking positive that the Cullens aren’t human. That much is blatantly obvious to her now, at the very least.

 

“Esme cooked you bacon and eggs for breakfast,” Rosalie tells her, breaking the silence, “You should eat, after last night.”

 

She considers asking- considers sharing what’s floating around her head right now, but she holds her tongue and she smiles instead.

 

“Suppose there’s no point asking if you’ll be joining me?” Bella teases, and laughs at the look she receives, “Yeah, figured not. Coffee then?”

 

She knows the answer, even before Rosalie shakes her head- and the amusement in her red eyes runs deep. Bella doesn’t miss the way her gaze flickers to Bella’s throat when she says, “I’m not thirsty.”

 

Yeah, Bella thinks, she’s pretty sure Rosalie Hale and her family are vampires. The pulsing pain in her neck is kind of insisting upon it actually.

 

“Fine,” she yawns, stretching again, feeling those blood red eyes on her. “Shower with me first though- before you watch me eat my breakfast. Knowing my luck, the weirdness in this family runs deep enough that they’ll be able to smell exactly what we’ve been doing anyway. At least if I shower, I can pretend.

 

There’s no confirmation- just a curl of amusement at the very corner of Rosalie’s lips, but it’s enough for Bella. She’s probably right. She should feel more mortified than she does, honestly, but then what would the point be?

 

Sitting up, Bella stretches and throws the blankets from her body. The cool air rushes her- and her flesh ripples with goosebumps again. She can feel Rosalie’s eyes on her- she still hasn’t moved.

 

“Have you heard of the Fallen God series?”

 

“No,” she murmurs, “But I’ll assume it has something to do with that book series Alice is obsessed with at the moment.”

 

Bella is thrilled to hear that Alice is reading it- because the little minx hasn’t said a word to her about it, which, she thinks, speaks volumes. Bella leans over, naked and chilled, and can’t resist Rosalie’s lips. Hands cups her cheeks, holding her in place and she laughs as she pulls away and sees the look on the blonde’s face.

 

“You should read it after her- I think you’ll find it very enlightening. I have, anyway.” Bella tells her instead, kissing her again, “It’s given me an… intimate appreciation for immortal, blood drinking women.”

 

It’s not quite an admission, but it’s probably the closest Bella will come to it- for the comfort of the blonde currently enticing her to stay in bed. There’s eye contact again, and as Bella pulls away- she doesn’t expect Rosalie to follow after her, kissing her with a passion that leaves Bella breathless and a little unsteady on her feet.

 

She feels a bit dazed from it actually- but maybe that’s the recent blood loss, she thinks, and there’s amusement dancing around those ruby reds of Rosalie’s with an intensity to it that Bella can’t ignore.

 

Rosalie holds her hips- keeps her grounded as she asks, “Do you have an infatuation for immortal, blood drinking women now then?”

 

“You know what, I think maybe I always have,” Bella grins, still a little out of it and leans down for another taste, adding, “Maybe I just didn’t realise it until I moved to Forks though.”

 

Rosalie stiffens, and even though it’s barely noticeable, Bella does notice- feels it in the tightening of her grip on her hips, and in the way her jaw locks.

 

“And why would moving here bring that to light in any way?” the blonde asks her in a soft murmur.

 

Bella doesn’t think she means to, but there’s an undertone to her words that borders on something dangerous- and it’s familiar, in some fucked up way that Bella likes. She steps away, and Rosalie lets her go, because honestly, she’s actually getting uncomfortably cold now. Why isn’t the heat up higher? She holds out her hand- an invitation, and Rosalie lets herself be led to her ensuite in silence.

 

It’s not uncomfortable though.

 

As Bella waits for the water to heat up, she turns the heat on and grabs two towels from the shelf. Hands capture her waist as she places them on the basin, and a cold body presses against her.

 

“You never answered my question.”

 

Bella turns, encircling her arms around Rosalie’s neck, and she smiles as she brushes a soft kiss to the blonde’s jaw.

 

“What’s to answer? I thought the answer was fairly obvious,” she says, teasing her and unable to help herself. Rosalie eyes flicker to her throat once more, and Bella grins as she adds, “I blame Angela personally. If not for her, I wouldn’t have even known Fallen Gods existed- and how fucking sad would that be?”

 

Rosalie looks equal parts annoyed and relieved, and Bella almost laughs. “So, it’s because of Angela- and a book.”

 

“Of course- what else?” she responds with a tiny shrug, “Maybe if you read it, you’ll understand why. Mind you, it doesn’t hurt to have found this insanely beautiful woman with a fetish for blood drinking also- that’s not really dissuading me from my obsession at the current moment, if we’re being honest. So technically, you’re not helping the cause by encour-”

 

Rosalie cuts her off by kissing her sharply on the mouth- swallowing her rambling words with great efficiency. Bella laughs breathlessly against her lips.

 

“Don’t blame me for your kinks, Swan.” she warns her as she pulls away, “That is all on you- I’m just along for the ride.”

 

Bella’s one hundred percent certain that is absolutely not the truth, but as with most things Rosalie says and does, she lets her have it- she plays along. She can’t resist entirely though, because poking the bear is just too much fun at this point.

 

“Whatever you say, princess. I wasn’t the one who-”

 

“Do you ever just stop talking?”

 

“No,” she answers the blonde, “It’s too much fun stirring you up, and personally- I think you love it.”

 

With one last kiss, Bella pushes gently against Rosalie’s shoulder- not surprised when the blonde steps aside and lets her pass. She sticks a hand under the spray of the shower, adjusts the temperature, and steps in- immediately the heat envelopes her and sends her flesh rippling with goosebumps.

 

She sighs, eyes closed- and without looking, teases, “You gonna join me or what?”

 

No sooner has she said the words does Rosalie’s icy touch on her hips makes her shiver as she steps under the spray with her. The hot water starts to warm her touch almost immediately though.

 

“No- you know what, I think I prefer you cold,” Bella says, bumping her with her hip as if to nudge her back out of the shower, and laughing when a voice growls in her ear. “I’m not into this warm touch thing you have going on right now. I like the ice.”

 

“Too bad for you then, cause I’m not leaving my shower to keep you happy.”

 

“That’s not very accommodating of you- I’m your guest.”

 

Shut up.”

 

And then they’re kissing again, and as Rosalie presses her against the welcoming chill of the tiles, she’s more than happy to stop talking if this is the price- reward, whatever. As she tangles her fingers through Rosalie’s wet hair, she doesn’t care.

 

And she thinks Rosalie probably knows it.