Interview with the Incest Love Story Writer

Just in case anyone clicks on the website in the hopes of learning more about why I'm writing this kind of a story ... I give you an interview of sorts that may or may not clear that up for you.

. . . 

Interviewer: O-Bug (aka Omniscient Bug, the kind that's like a fly on your wall, or a chip in your phone or on the bottom of your bedside lamp ... O-Bug is everywhere)

O-Bug: So, why the hell are you writing this kind of a story when you know everyone's first reaction is to gag? Are you a glutton for punishment? Sick in the head? Twisted?

Do you even have a sibling?

PB:  I've always been fascinated by taboo love. I don't know why, I guess it's just the no-no part of it. I've been exploring the whys and hows of this kind of love in my head ever since I read Flowers In The Attic over 20 years ago. I was repulsed at first, and then heartbroken for them ... and then I was hoping that they'd make it despite everything.

And yes, I have a sister. I imagine I couldn't write this type of story if I had a brother, though. 

O-Bug:  But why wouldn't you just write this story for yourself? Why are you posting for the world to see and judge? That's, like, crazy-nuts. 

I kind of think you are twisted. I don't care what you say, either.

PB:  I've been afraid for years and years to admit that I was thinking of even writing such a story. No one who knows me knows I'm writing this. Well, except for my sister, but that's only because we both know the worst and best parts about each other. I've sworn her to secrecy. 

I had the first chapter written for a year or so, and then one day I just decided I'd try and go for it. And I wanted to post it somewhere where I could get live feedback. Somewhere where I could be held accountable to keep writing, to better understand perceptions about what I was writing, and to see if I really was nuts.

O-Bug: What? So you don't think you're nuts or twisted?

PB: No more than anyone else, I don't think. The reception has been both better than what I anticipated, and worse. There have been hardly any negative comments--most of my comments are from people who are whole-hog into the story, who are rooting for the characters. 

But then again, silence speaks volumes when nothing else can. I get a lot of hits, but out of those hits, only 3% comment. And that stings. They're reading, but they're just not saying anything. So in a sense, I feel gypped.

O-Bug: You'll get over it. You have to. After all, you're posting a taboo story online for public consumption and opinion. You had to have known that it was going to be a hard thing to do.

You weenie.

PB: It has been a hard thing to do, but it's been fun at times, too. Some of the comments make me laugh. Some have made me cry. 

O-Bug: Like I said. Weenie.

PB: I'm definitely a weenie. 

O-Bug: What do you hope to accomplish with this little story of yours? And don't say world peace or I will whack you on the head with my wet pool noodle.

PB: I haven't written in years. YEARS. And now I am again and it's all because of this crazy story. And that's all I wanted to do: to stir the muse awake again. She's been asleep longer than Rip Van Winkle.

O-Bug: Who the hell is that?

PB: Never mind. I did what I set out to do, so I should be satisfied with that. 

O-Bug: You don't sound satisfied. You sound constipated and irritated. 

PB: I'm hungry. I want a hamburger and a glass of Chardonnay. And, I guess it'd be nice if I had more comments. 

O-Bug: Now we're getting somewhere. 

It's all about the comments, isn't it? Don't lie. I'll know if you lie.

PB: It's not just about the comments, but I admit that's a big part of it. I mean, if I wanted to, I could just post my story here. After all, hardly anybody knows this place exists. I decided to post the story so I could get feedback and inter-action. And I'm always wanting more. Because I know there's more. 

Call me selfish. Call me egotistical, whatever. I just hoped for more feedback.

O-Bug: Well, so why don't you just call the whole thing off? Take your toys and go home, you baby.

PB: I've thought about it. How could I not? But for every comment I get, I know there are at least 20 others who feel the same way. And I am having fun posting my story online. I get a kick checking out the stats. So I'll just suck it up. 

I mean, I'll keep sucking it up. I'm writing a good story. That's enough. I'm learning. I'm growing. Maybe ... hopefully ... I'll write an even better, stronger story one day soon.

O-Bug: You're killing me. Are we going to be singing Kumbaya during the next paragraph? Because if that's your plan, I gotta tell ya that I have laundry to do. And I have to wash my antenna. And call my mom. Stuff like that. I'm busy, you know.

PB: I hear you. You can go now. Thanks for talking with me. Next time, I'll bring the bratwurst and you bring the buns.

O-Bug: Seems more like I should bring a straight jacket.

PB: Don't make me squash you like a bug, O-Bug. 

. . .


Chapter 17: Tease

If I could change one thing about myself, it would be to knock it off with all of the inconvenient blushing. People take too much pleasure out of making my face turn red. Even worse, it’s not something I can hide, so once a faint tinge of pink colors my cheek and someone notices, my face then goes fire engine red.

God, I hate it.

Edward is the worst. He’s always gotten a kick out of tormenting me, but he seems to have upped the ante lately. If he’s not joking about kissing, he’s giving me a soft-eyed look that makes me think maybe he wouldn’t mind kissing me again. And if he’s not giving me those looks that make my breathing go funky, he’s touching me—like if he has to pass behind me, he’ll sweep his fingers across my bare arm. Stuff like that.

Things have changed since The Kiss. Before TK, Edward could touch me and it’d feel like it always had—warm and comfortable. But now, it’s like I am hyper-aware of where he is in relation to my body. And if he touches me, I get goose bumps. Which he notices. And which, of course, makes me blush.

It’s the end of August and I’m in the kitchen peeling potatoes. The ree-ah bugs are going crazy outside and it makes me sad because when they start to sing, that means summer is almost over.

“What are you making?”

Edward’s behind me, close enough that I feel his warmth.

“Shepherd’s Pie,” I say and damn near shave off the skin of my thumb.

“Be careful,” he says and leans against the counter next to me.

“Do you want to help?”

He wrinkles his nose. There’s a scattering of light freckles across the bridge that makes him look boyish.

“Then you can’t stand there,” I tell him.

“You mean I can stand here if I help?”

I sigh. “You see that cutting board right there?”

“Right here? This one?” he asks and points to the cutting board with a big cheesy grin.

“You can quarter the potatoes I’ve peeled and drop them in that pan for me.”

He makes short work of them, then is arm-to-arm with me again. “Now what?”

“Want to chop an onion?”

“Okay, but if you tell anyone I cry, I’ll spank you,” he says and watches my face flame.

“You suck,” I say.

“Sorry,” he laughs and leans in to press a kiss on my hot cheek.

“No, you’re not.”

“No, I’m not.”

“I thought you had to work.”

“I called out today.”

“Where’ve you been all day then?”

He backs away to get the onion out of the fridge. “At Charlotte’s.”

My mood sours abruptly. Charlotte, a short redhead, is Edward’s latest girlfriend. She’s nice enough, but I don’t know. I don’t like her. Especially now that Edward is sluffing off of work to spend time with her.

I’m on the last potato when it happens—I slice a sliver of skin neatly off my thumb.



“Whoa, such language,” he sniffs. When he sees I’m hurt, he puts the knife down and comes to me.

“Don’t touch me with your onion stained fingers! It’ll burn! Ow!”

He cups my hurt hand in his and holds it under the water while we watch it bleed. His chest is practically leaning against my back and I want to shove him away. I’m mad.

“I’m okay, I’m fine,” I say and move to the paper towels. “I’ll be right back.”

He follows me all the way to the bathroom. When I try to shut the door, he pushes his hand against it. “What are you doing?”

“What are you doing?” I ask.

“I’m going to clean and bandage your cut.”

“I can do it myself.”

“Let me do it, Bella.”

I huff and slump onto the toilet seat.

“What’s wrong?” he asks as he sets the peroxide and box of Band-Aids on the counter.

His face is all concerned, green eyes all dark, brow all furrowed. He’s one of the few people I know who looks cute when he’s sad, mad or bored.

I hold my thumb up in answer. It’s not the entire truth, but I don’t understand the entire truth enough to begin to explain it.

Edward treats my cut with the tender precision of a concerned nurse, then places a kiss just below the Band-Aid when he’s done. My breath catches, but I don’t blush this time. Probably because I’m mad? Whatever the reason, I’m grateful.

“You’re welcome,” he calls after me.

I turn at the doorway and see he’s still kneeling in front of the toilet. And then? I flush, but this time it’s with embarrassment at my behavior.

“Thank you, Edward. Really.”

And then I hightail it back to the kitchen, hoping he doesn’t follow. When he doesn’t, I tell myself that I’m glad.

. . .

I watch Rose study herself in her full length mirror as she turns from side to side to see how her butt looks in the jean mini skirt. Looks damn good. I’m jealous.

“You ready for tomorrow?” she asks me.

“Not at all,” I tell her and point to the huge zit on my chin. Maybe I should wear a mini skirt tomorrow, too, so people won’t notice my chin. “People are going to take one look at me and run the opposite direction.”

“It’s not that big. Shut it. You’re beautiful.”

“You don’t think the zit makes me look fat?”

She rips a pillow off the bed and clobbers me with it.

“You’ve got classes either with me or Jasper,” she says. “You’re set, biatch.”

I shove my hair off of my face from the pillow smack, and glare at her. “Can I wear your dark blue top with the ruffled collar?”

“Depends what you’re going to wear with it.”

“My black mini?”

She smirks. “Now you’re talking. Who are you wanting to impress?”

I shrug. “Anyone who might look too close, I guess.”

“Wear your black booties. If you wear your Converse, I’ll rip the shirt right off your back.”

The next day, Edward looks like he wants to rip the shirt right off my back.
“Who are you dressing up for?” he wants to know.

“No one. Me. It’s my first day at high school. Me and my zit, anyway.”

I won’t shut up about the zit. Good thing I hardly ever get them.

He glares at my bare knees after I slide in to the passenger side of the car.


Surprised at my sharp tone, he blinks at me. “You don’t usually wear miniskirts.”

“That’s right. But I’m wearing one today. I’m hoping people will notice my legs and not my zit, okay?”

He snickers. “I’ve had a lot worse than that little thing.”

“Yeah, but you’re a boy. It’s different for boys.”

“Don’t bend over,” he tells me as he backs the car out of the driveway.

“Yeah, I won’t bend over like Jessica or Vickie always did,” I snort.

“You’d better not.” He gives me a sharp look.

“I’m not stupid, Edward. I’m also not a slut.”

“Did Dad see what you’re wearing?”

Now I’m getting pissed. “Did Dad see what you’re wearing?” I glance exaggeratedly at his old, torn t-shirt and baggy jeans.

Edward clenches his jaw and is silent until we get to Jasper’s house, which suits me just fine. If this is the way he’s going to be every morning on the drive to school, I’ll just hitch a ride with Emmett, Alice and Rose.

“Hey, Jasper,” I say and slide out of the passenger seat. “I’ll sit in the back.”

“You don’t have to,” he says.

“I want to. You sit in the front.”

“Okay, thanks.”

And I glare back at Edward through the review mirror.

Jasper turns and gives me a questioning look.

“Edward’s got gas,” I say.

. . .

Throughout the day, I notice that I get a lot of looks directed at my legs. My plan works! No one is really looking at my face.

Well, except for this James guy in my English class. He’s got long blond hair, which is kind of weird for a guy, but pretty eyes. Every time I catch him looking at me, he’d drop his head and act like he was doing something else.

“He’s cute,” Rose said when she noticed him looking at me.

“If you like long hippie hair,” I say. Privately, I agree, though. He is cute.

I hope he’s actually looking at me and not my zit.

. . .

My last period of the day is history, which I have with Jasper. Our teacher is a kind-looking, silver-haired man who likes to teach behind his desk and sitting in his chair. As his voice drones monotonously on, I chance a glance over at Jasper. He rolls his eyes at me, then has Sprock peek around his free arm. He makes the sock contort and act like he’s dying.

And this is just our first class, which doesn’t bode well for the year.

“Maybe we should see if we can change classes,” Jasper says afterward.

And so we stop in at the office to see Mrs. Cope, who looks decidedly grumpy behind the glasses that are sliding down her nose. She has a picture of an o-possum on her desk. When she sees me looking at it, she perks up.

“That’s Possy,” she says. “He’s dead now, poor thing died right on my foot one night. He liked Cheetos of all things.”

Jasper and I look at each other with glee in our eyes. “Wow. Cheetos.”

“That’s right. He wouldn’t eat the cat food I left for him if I had Cheetos.”

“Cheetos are really good,” Jasper says.

“Um, we need to see if we can change to a different history class,” I say.

We slide our class schedules over to her and she starts typing on her keyboard and glaring at her computer screen.

“Ah … this might wor—doggonit. Maybe we can—well, phooey. Let’s see if this—oh, drat, that won’t work, either.” She peers up at us myopically. “Do either of you kids want to take French instead of Art?”

Jasper and I settle for Mr. Robertson the Droner.

“How come we didn’t sit with Edward at lunch?” he asks as we walk to the car.

“You saw all those girls at his table, right?”

He grins. “Yes. So? Why?”

“I didn’t feel like eating with his harem.”

“You two are fighting, aren’t you?”

“No. We just have a difference of opinion on appropriate school attire,” I say loftily, which makes Jasper laugh.

“But Edward’s part of the cool clique. Don’t you want to sit with the cool kids?”

“No. You, me and Rose will have our own table. Emmett and Edward can have theirs.”

Jasper makes a face at me. “I don’t think Rose is going to go for that.”

“I don’t care. I don’t want to sit with Edward this year. You can, though, if you want to. Really, Jasper.”

“I’d rather sit with you,” he says as we near the car where Edward’s already waiting.

“Good,” I whisper with a smile.

“Where were you two?” Edward looks cranky.

“We were trying to see if we could change history classes,” I tell him.

“Well next time, text me if you’re going to be late, okay?”

“Sure. Sorry.”

We climb into the car. Jasper makes sure I get in front.

“Who’d you get for history?”

“Robertson,” Jasper says. “He’s like, got one foot out the door, I think.”

Edward barks a laugh. “Oh, man, I feel for you two. His class is the only one I’ve ever fallen asleep in.”

Right then and there, I decide I’m going to have a Mountain Dew with every lunch.

. . .

Edward knocks on my bedroom door and immediately pushes it open. I’m on my bed reading my first reading requirement in English: Romeo and Juliet. It’s absolutely horrible.

“You can’t just barge in here,” I tell him. “What if I’d been undressing or something?”

In answer, he just looks evilly joyful.

“No. You wait for me to tell you that it’s okay.”

He waves his hand at me. “Fine. I know what you look like, though. It’s not like your bathing suit this year left anything to the imagination.”

“Most bathing suits don’t,” I tell him. “Are we going to argue about what I’m wearing again?”

“No. I came to see how your first day went,” he says and lays on his stomach beside me. He even raises his legs and hooks an ankle around mine.

“It went fine. I’m really glad that I have either Rose or Jasper in all of my classes, though. There are a lot more people I don’t know now.”

His ankle pulls mine in his direction, then moves it back. “I saw you at lunch.”

“Yeah? I saw you, too.”

“I thought you’d eat with me like you used to.”

“Didn’t look like there was room.”

“There’s always room for you, Bella.”

“Most brothers wouldn’t want their sister eating at the same table as them.”

“I’m not most brothers. But I get it. You should have your friends, and I should have mine.”

Why does this hurt?

“Right,” I say. “So why wasn’t Charlotte at your lunch table?”

He pokes me in the side. “She has a different lunch period.”

“Does she know you eat with all of those girls?”

He pokes me in the side again. “They weren’t all girls. And I can eat lunch with whoever I want. So can she. They’re just friends.”

“I saw two of the girls hanging on you like they wanted to be more.”

When he pokes my side again, I grab his finger hard. “Stop.”

We wrestle a little, which ends up with me being on the bottom and him sitting on my stomach.

“Are you spying on me?”

I give him a look. “Why yes, Edward, since I have nothing else to do with my time. After all, I’m looking for tips on how to handle friends who want to be more than friends. Do you have any advice for me?”

“Oh, I have some advice for you,” he says and stretches my arms high above my head.

This position brings him almost chest-to-stomach with me, which of course trips my heart into overdrive. Not thinking, just panicking, I try to buck him off like I usually do. Once my boobs press against his stomach, he pushes himself down against me. And then he slides down until we’re chest-and-chest and face-to-face.

My eyes are wide. Probably wild, too, just like his. We’re like two deer caught in each other’s headlights.

“Why did you do that?” he whispers.

“Panicked. Why did you do this?”

“Couldn’t help it.”

His eyes are getting darker and darker.

“Aren’t you going to move?”

He slowly shakes his head, then lowers it until his lips are against mine. It’s been four weeks and three days since the last kiss, but I can tell that I’ve already forgotten the power of the hot, sweet sensation of it because it takes me by surprise all over again. It must take him by surprise, too, because he’s gasping and breathing as hard as I am. He releases my hands and brings one of his to my face, where he begins stroking the corner of my mouth with his thumb, until he’s able to insert the tip between my lips. On my next gasp, his tongue lightly teases the inside of my lower lip.

“Let me,” he says brokenly and takes my lower lip between his teeth, then sucks it gently.

I make a sound suspiciously like a moan and try to imitate his sucking motion. And then we’re open-kissing, not exactly French-kissing, but the closest thing to it. He alternates thumb stroking with lip stroking, and it’s like he’s worshiping my mouth. And I’m definitely worshiping his because he obviously knows what he’s doing, and I’m lost and spinning and so hot.

“Edward,” I gasp.

“So sweet,” he says and on the next wet press of his lips against mine, his tongue sweeps into my mouth fully.

“Yes, just like that,” he whispers as our tongues touch. “Don’t be shy.”

There’s something hard poking my hip. He’s hard. Every time he sweeps his tongue into my mouth, he presses that hardness against me until I can’t bear it anymore. My hands pull his head away from me by his hair.

“Edward,” I gasp. “You’re hurting me.”

In the space of two seconds, he goes from looking half-asleep and sexy to panic. He rolls off of me and onto his stomach, where he pants face-down against my bedspread.

“Are you okay?” I ask softly.

He groans. “Are you?”

“Yes.” I swallow and take a big breath. “I can see why the girls like kissing you.”
He lifts his head to glare at me. “You’re too easy to kiss.”

I frown at him. “What does that mean?”

He groans again and then shoves himself off my bed. “Damn it. I didn’t mean to do that.”

I look up at him in confusion, but he turns his back to me. “But I liked it. I don’t mind.”

It looks like he palms his crotch and my eyes widen. What’s he doing?

“This won’t happen again,” he tells me over his shoulder. “I’m sorry, Bella.”
And then he leaves.

And doesn’t come back all night.

Chapter 16: First Kiss

After the night Edward drives us home, he kind of gives me space. He’s not avoiding me, but he’s not pressing to spend time with me, either. And I’m pathetically grateful, because everything inside of me is all out of whack. As I’d followed him up the stairs to our bedrooms, my legs were like jelly, all wobbly. But he’d just turned at his door and gave me a beautiful smile that made me feel like I had a horde of butterflies in my stomach, then left me staring at his closed door.

I had vivid dreams that night, dreams that starred Edward as a kind of alien presence. I knew him, but I didn’t. His face, his smile, his body—those were the same. But his eyes, his voice and his touch—what he did with them, what they did to me—those were what woke me up, sweating and gasping and tingling.

And I couldn’t help but wonder if he was feeling those same tingly feelings I was. Did he know what they were? I couldn’t ask, I was too embarrassed. Maybe I was imagining the whole thing, the long stares, the touching?



Was he as confused as I was? I wished, oh how I wished I could talk to him about it, but I didn’t see how I could. Maybe this tingling thing was supposed to happen, maybe it was normal. And maybe it wasn’t. Maybe there was something horribly wrong with me, something that I wouldn’t want to speak of because I’d be sent to the loony bin.

I did a lot of pillow screaming that week.

. . .

As soon as the thought occurred to me, I blurted it out to Rose before my brain could catch up. “Would you mind if Emmett taught me how to kiss?”

Rose and Alice both sat up in their patio chairs to look at me as I covered my face with my hands.

“Say what?” Alice asks.

Crap! Why had I said that?

“He hasn’t even kissed me yet,” Rose says.

I lowered my hands. Time to own up to this idea. Oh, Great Googly-Moogly, give me courage.

“Uh, well, I’m turning sixteen this year … and I have to be kissed before I turn sixteen, you know? I don’t want to be sweet sixteen and never been kissed, do you?”

She huffs. “I’m not. Riley’s kissed me lots of times. But I haven’t even kissed Emmett yet, Bella.”

I groan and put my face back into my hands. I knew this was a bad idea. “You can go first,” I say hopefully, my voice coming out muffled.

“Why does it have to be Emmett?”

“Who else am I going to ask? Emmett knows I don’t feel that way about him, so I figure we’ll just kiss and things will go back to normal.”

“What about Jasper?”

“Jasper hasn’t kissed anyone. Me even asking him would rock his world, and not in a good way. I don’t think even Sprock could save him from dying of embarrassment.”

“But … Emmett?” Alice asks. “Ewwww.”

“Emmett knows what he’s doing—he’s kissed lots of girls. I want someone who knows what they’re doing. I don’t want my first kiss to be a disaster.”

“Why not? Most first kisses are,” Alice says.

I spin to face her. “Have you been kissed?”

She squirms and studies the freckles on her arms. “Once. It was awful. His breath stank, his mouth was too wet, and our noses kept bumping.”

“Sounds like a first kiss dream come true,” Rose sang.

“No, it doesn’t,” I tell her, even though I know she’s being sarcastic. “Well? What do you think? I can’t be the only one of us who turns sixteen and hasn’t been kissed.”

Rose considers me through slitted eyes. I know I’m asking for a lot—after all, she likes Emmett. But she also knows Emmett and I do not have the hots for each other, and so there will be no hurt feelings or confusion over who he should like just because of a kiss.

“Please? Just one little eensy-weensy kiss?”

“You owe me,” she says.

“I will. I do.”

She settles back in her chair and crosses her arms. “I’ll ask him tonight and let you know what he says.”

I let out a sigh of relief. “Deal. But there’s one thing … please ask Emmett not to tell Edward about this.”

Rose and Alice break out in laughter.

“What?” I ask.

“If Emmett says no, that’ll be why, you know,” Rose says to us. “Nobody wants Edward mad at them.”

“He won’t get mad,” I say. “I just … it’s none of his business. So ask Emmett to keep quiet about it, okay?”

“This is so weird,” Alice says. “And disgusting. I wish I hadn’t heard this conversation.”

I lean over to her chair. “Don’t worry. We won’t tell you when the action is going down.”

“Shut up.

. . .

It takes some convincing by Rose, which hurts my feelings, but eventually Emmett agrees to meet us at her house Thursday at noon. It’s his lunch break, so he has to make it quick.
We’re in the bathroom brushing our teeth and primping at 11:45.

“You’re going first,” Rose says. “And I’m timing you, chicky.”

“How muth time I got?” I ask with toothpaste in my mouth. My first kiss is going to be minty fresh.

“Two minutes,” she says. “No, less than two minutes. If you kiss him for two whole minutes, I will kick your ass.”

I spit out the paste and snicker. “How could I ever kiss someone for two minutes?” That long kissing stuff only happens in the movies. I couldn’t understand wanting to press my mouth against someone else’s for more than it took to peck them.

Rose pats my back. “You are so naïve.”

Which burns. I don’t want to be naïve anymore. Once I’m kissed, I won’t be.

Emmett shows up wearing a stock boy’s blue apron and an infectious grin. “Okay, which one of you princesses is first? Let’s get this kissing show started.”

“I’m first,” I say.

“I’ll make you a sandwich,” Rose says. And then she stands in the doorway looking at us.
“Are you going to watch?” I ask her.

Yikes, please don’t let her watch.

She starts. “Oh. No.” And she flees.

Emmett leads me to the couch as Rose starts slamming drawers and cabinets in the kitchen.
“Are we French-kissing?” he asks me.

My eyes get big. “No. Let’s keep our tongues to ourselves.”

He chuckles, then scoots close to me so our knees are intertwined. Whoa. I’ve never been this close to a boy before, except for Edward.

“Close your eyes,” he says.

“But I want to see,” I say.

“You want to watch me come at your face? You’ll go cross-eyed.”

I close my eyes. Lick my lips. Purse them. Then open my eyes to find him watching me with a look of glee on his face.

“You’re supposed to be kissing me now,” I say.

“Stop being so funny then.”

“I’m not—”

He pulls me to him mid-word and presses his mouth semi-gently against mine. My nose scrapes his whiskery cheek. I feel the sensation of warm breath and moist lips. It’s soft. His mouth is soft, I didn’t know it would be so soft. It’s nice, except I’m afraid to breathe.

I pull back. “How am I supposed to breathe?”

“You just breathe like normal,” he tells me. “Try again.”

We cock our heads in opposite directions and push our mouths together again. And again, I’m surprised by the touch of his lips, and I inhale deeply. I press harder against his mouth like he does mine, and I exhale. Our lips kind of drag against each other, and I inhale again.

Then I pull back. “Okay. Okay.”

Rose is standing in the doorway with a funny look on her face and a plate in her hand.
“So that’s kissing,” I say.

Emmett smirks. “What we just did is the mechanics of kissing. That’s all.”

“Well, what else is there?”

“There’s lust,” he says emphatically. “Passion! It’s like what we just did times a hundred.”
“I don’t get it,” I say.

He rubs my knee, then squeezes it and makes me jump. “Oh, you will, grasshopper. One day, you will.”

Am I defective?

When it’s Rose’s turn, I sneak a peek around the kitchen door frame and ohmigod! Emmett is lying on top of her on the couch. She’s got her hands in his hair. And they’re squirming and shifting and moaning.

I must make a sound because they break apart abruptly. And they’re all red-faced and breathless and look like they’ve been yanked out of a dream.

“Now that’s working up an appetite,” Emmett says and grabs the sandwich off the coffee table.

. . .

I watch Never Been Kissed in the basement that night to try and understand what I’m missing. When Josie gets to the part where she’s describing the perfect kiss, I repeat the scene over and over.

That thing, that moment, when you kiss someone and everything around you goes hazy and the only thing in focus is you and this person, and you realize that that person is the only person you’re supposed to kiss for the rest of your life, and for one moment you get this amazing gift, and you want to laugh and you want to cry because you feel so lucky that you found it, and so scared that it will go away all at the same time.

And I’m sitting there on the couch trying to understand what it means, and everything goes hazy as my brain shuts down, and I want to laugh and I want to cry because what if I never find that gift she’s talking about?

I don’t get it.

“What don’t you get?”

I jump at Edward’s voice. He’s standing at the end of the couch looking at me with a grin on his face.

“Did I say that out loud?”

“Yeah. So what don’t you get?” And he sits at the other end in such a way that he’s giving me his full attention.

Ah. Uh-oh.

How do I even begin to explain this?


His eyes flick to the TV and back to me. “What, kissing?”

My shoulders slump. This is going to be so embarrassing. “Not just kissing. A great kiss, a gift of a kiss, the kind that … er … makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time.”

He’s laughing before I even finish.

I bite the bullet. “Have you ever kissed someone and wanted to laugh and cry afterwards?”

Edward tilts his head back and scratches his chin. “Ummmmm. No.”

“Well, according to Josie Geller, you haven’t found the only person you’re meant to kiss for the rest of your life then,” I tell him.

He shudders. “I hope not. Who wants to be stuck kissing just one person for the rest of their life?”

I point to the TV. “Josie Geller. Here, let me play it for you.”

And I play him the scene. He watches it with his lips all twisted and with skepticism heavy in his eyes.

“That’s a bunch of crap,” he tells me afterward. “Something some woman made up.”

“It’s not true?”

“Hell no. Kissing is just … kissing.”

Disappointing, but at least I can understand that. “Got that right,” I say dryly.

Which is a mistake and I want to eat my words as soon as the last vowel falls.

“What do you know about it?” His eyes are sharp and dark and unrelenting as he looks at me.

I backpedal fast. “Not as much as you. Hardly anything, really.”

“But you know enough to have an opinion.”

I shrug. “Well, yeah. Doesn’t everyone?”

He snorts. “Not unless you’ve been kissed.” And then, “Have you been kissed?”

My face is red. Can I count Emmett’s kiss as a real kiss since I didn’t feel anything?

“Just … a little.”

“Just … a little? What does that mean? Have you been kissed or not? It’s a yes or a no question, Bella.”

“Uh. Can we talk about something else?”


“Ugh. Okay. Yes, I’ve been kissed. But I don’t think it counts because I didn’t feel much of anything.”

He leans closer to me and my red face. I’m starting to sweat. “What did you think you’d feel?”

I don’t know. “That … thing.

“What thing?”

“Passion. Lust. The hazy gift.”

He’s cracking up.

“It’s not funny, Edward.”

His laughs finally die down. “So who kissed you?”

“Um, no one.”


“No one you know,” I correct myself.

“And it wasn’t a good one?”

Gah, why does he want to know this? “Not really.”

“Why? Did his breath stink? Did he slobber all over you? Try to stick his tongue in your mouth?”

“No. No! It was an experiment. Plus, I don’t want to turn sixteen without being kissed.”

“Hah, hah, hah!”

He’s all but rolling on the floor now. I stand and head for the stairs, but he reaches out and grabs my arm, then pulls me back on to the couch beside him. It takes a while, again, for his laughter to die down. I try to cross my arms, but he won’t let go and his arm mashes my boob.


“I’m sorry,” he breathes between chuckles. “I’m sorry.”

“Glad I could entertain you,” I growl. I hate feeling like a little girl next to him. “So how old were you when you got your first kiss?”


I gape at him.

“Veronica Ross.”

“Gross! She was in high school, Edward!”

He shrugs. “She kissed me.”

“So … you’ve kissed a lot of girls then?”
He shrugs again.

“And you like it?”

He grins at me. “Yeah, I like it a lot. Didn’t you?”

“I just basically explained why I didn’t. So … girls like it when you kiss them?”

He rolls his eyes at me.

“Do they moan and grab your hair?”

“You’ve been watching too much TV,” he says.

“Is that a no?”

Suddenly, he tackles me and pushes me onto my back for a tickle attack.

“Do you want references?” he asks as he digs his fingers into my waist.

I try to buck him off of me and he falls against my chest. And then we still, gasping and just looking at each other.

“Do you want me to kiss you?” he asks.

My heartbeat starts ripping through my whole body. Do I want him … to … kiss … me?

I’m frozen. I can’t speak. I can’t even move, except for my eyes, which drop to his mouth. Edward has a good mouth, wide and full. As I stare at it, my own mouth begins to water and I have to swallow. In the silence of the room, it’s loud.

He doesn’t ask again, just looks down at me. When it seems that I’m not going to answer, he begins to back away.

“Yes,” I gulp. “A fast one. Okay?”

“A fast one? What if I don’t do fast ones?”

“It has to be a fast one, or else I think I’ll die.”

He grins, then it slowly fades as his eyes drop to my mouth, and I’m suddenly very conscious of my mouth. It’s hanging open and my lips are dry. Maybe I should lick them. When I do, I see his eyes get darker.

“I’m just going to touch your lips with mine,” he says. “Just a little.” His eyes flicker between mine and my mouth, as if to gauge my response.

He doesn’t close his eyes until he lets his nose touch mine in an unexpected gentle caress. And then my eyes close as his lips come softly, gently against mine. Heat immediately fills my body from the inside out like a giant wave so powerful that I gasp at it. Edward’s mouth raises from mine as he gasps back, and then his lips are slanting across mine harder, hotter, and his tongue is sweeping across my bottom lip. In surprise, I wrench my mouth away and his lips move to my cheek.

“It’s okay,” he whispers. “I won’t put it in your mouth.”

His chest is warm and hard against the palm of my hands, and my fingers curl into his shirt as he turns my mouth back to his and presses his lips against me again.

“Fast,” I whimper against his mouth.

He cups the back of my head in one of his hands and tilts my face one way, then the other as he drags his mouth back and forth against mine, and it’s too much, it’s too much, and I push him away with a cry.

Both of our chests are heaving, but Edward recovers much faster than I do.

“So,” he says with a cocky grin. “How did that kiss compare to the other one?”

Is he kidding? “I think you know,” I say. “You about singed my hair off.”

He pushes himself up. “I think you electrocuted mine,” he says and grabs at the wild waves on top of his head.

I giggle. He does look like he’s been electrocuted. And as I watch him leave, I think he’s walking like he was, too.

. . .

Kissing burns 6.4 calories a minute. Between the two of them, they just burned 20.