Wednesday, November 2, 2011

TLS Fics of the Week 11/2 - 11/8/2011

Each week, you choose which fics move you the most. Here are your four FANTASTIC Fics of the Week, this week, at The Lemonade Stand.

Arrangement by QuantumFizzx-rec'd by Jaime Arkin/Nic
A hired-hand holds back her improper emotions, a son tries to honor an old arrangement, & a father makes new arrangements for reasons of his own. Maybe doing to noble thing isn't always the right thing. Twilight - Rated: M

Review by: Viola Corunta & SparkleDamnU

She has a weird penname.

She has a clean style.

She wrote a fic that changed posting patterns for millions.

She has a penchant for setting her stories in Kansas.

She has proven that the pith is as valuable as the flower, as she has woven a fully realized romance in a mere 18K words. Writing a review for such a story is going to be a neat trick for a chatterbox like me. If I say too much I’ll reveal the tricks QuantumFizzx has up her sleeve for her protags.

With that in mind, I’ll cut to the chase.  In Arrangement, Isabella is our narrator. Sparingly, with a dignified matter of fact tone, she relates the details of her life as the maid-of-all-work in the Cullen household in late 19th century Kansas. A dead father, a sloppy drunk mother, a beloved sister: none of these matter quite as much to Isabella as him.  He’s a figure of fantasy, of course, because in her mind the hired hand and the son of the house don’t belong together.  What I loved about this Bella is her sense of self; this is not a self-deprecating heroine bemoaning her life, she’s too busy living it.

True, it is my job and most kindnesses I show benefit his whole family. They are good people. And deserving.

But I cannot deny that the extra mile I literally trod most days is in service of him.

This is the only means I have, the only outlet I'm given, for these pointless affections. I am unsure from whence they sprung. Perhaps it is the manner of his speech, smooth and low. Or that he thanks me when others might not. Or his smile. His smile is like the sunshine parting the clouds and warming everything down to the very soil.

I find joy in his peace and prosperity. Forgive me, but it is probably prideful of me to rejoice that I help make what he has possible.

Today is like any other day as every day is like the one before and the next will be no different.

Don’t let Q fool you, Isabella’s days get mighty different mighty fast, but the soothing words flow with a vibrant, near visible tension, taking you along at Isabella’s shoulder without a false step.  With her we lay a table, beat a rug, empty a chamber pot, scan a market shelf, and always know where Edward Cullen is and whom he’s with.

To be sure, when I first came to work for them, nary a day went by that some young lady wasn't to be seen basking in his attention.

Near shameless.

Then, a change. I reckon word got out about him working his way through the lot of them or whatnot, because Edward no longer let on who he saw or when or where.

But, lest I forget, it still goes on.

I know because he always manages to be unaccounted for at times.

I know because he took to asking for date baskets or whatnot a few weeks ago.

And I know today, beyond all doubt, because he is with one now.

A slight tingle, an almost-burn, and I look up.

Edward is looking at me.

He knows I've been watching.

Slowly, never unlocking his eyes from mine, he kisses her hand.

What comes next I do not know because I am back inside the store before I've even thought to do so. When I chance to peer out the window again, she is still there in all her pink glory, but Edward is nowhere to be seen.

Now why would a fine young man such as Edward Cullen gaze straight into the eyes of his father’s hired hand while he’s dallying with the banker’s middle daughter in broad daylight in the center of town?

Is it to distract himself from a childhood betrothal he’s loath to honor? Is it to make sure everyone, even the servants, admires his success in the role of Lothario?

Or is it because:

The world looks different from this perspective.

Of course, I'm dangling upside down and my gaze is rather fixated on Edward's buttocks.

It's not as if it's the first time I've looked.

"I am perfectly capable of walking, you know," I say as calmly as I can while Edward saddles his horse. I'd quit thumping him on the back before he ever left the house.

"I know," he says.

"And yet, I am still aloft." I cannot even put up the pretext of being irritated with him. I'm near overcome with joy. I am certain it is joy and not merely the blood pooling in my head.

Don’t you want to see how Isabella ended upside down with a close-up of Edward’s ass as her entertainment? It sure sounds like more fun than picking thistle burrs out of his wet underdrawers. Yes, that happens. Yes, it makes sense. No, I won’t say more.

A sweet, scholarly18 hundred words are all Q needed in Arrangement to take this Isabella and Edward from resigned to astonished to giddy. I couldn’t be happier for them

-Viola Cornuta 


“Arrangement” is a very accurately written period fic.  It has some angst and a HEA.   According to QuantumFizzx “It was supposed to be a one-shot to purge a plot bunny but it went rabid…”  Most of you will remember QuantumFizzx from her unprecedented and intriguing story, ‘The Plan’. Arrangement is only 10 chapters in length but I would have loved to read many more.

Carlisle Cullen moves his family from the east coast to prosper from the expanding railroads.  When the railroad frenzy bypasses Missouri for Kansas City, Carlisle decides to work his vast land holdings.  During their first winter, Carlisle loses his wife, Esme, and a child, leaving him with only his other children, Edward and Alice.   With Carlisle’s need for someone to run his household and care for young Alice, his pastor asks Bella’s mother if she could spare a child to earn coin tending the bereaved Cullen household.

“It was a needless question as the woman who birthed me would've sold me or Angela for a close-to-fair price or a bottle of gin to any passing wagon train or riding party. Mother long ago quit caring about life and living and focused her days on brewing shine and existing in a fog.”

An arrangement is made and Bella’s journey as hired-hand to the Cullen’s begins.  She believes her job to be the helpmate a wife and mother would be without the affections.  After a while, Bella comes to have improper feelings for Edward.  She must hide her emotions and endure Edward courting rich and beautiful young ladies befitting his station in society - a station that does not allow a hired-hand to fall in love with their employer.

“I come here every day.
I wait upon him, his family, and those who earn his attentions. 
When I am most honest, I will admit to only myself that I wait for him. 
The closest I come to spending time within his chambers is when I empty the pot.
 Edward –  He waits for no one.  Not the tailor, the lawyers, the letters man. Not the butcher, the baker, the undertaker.  The stable hand. The coachman.
Not even the pastor (he probably does not see this as prudent, as his soul is not in immediate peril) and nothing save a glance for his daughter with the round, blue eyes.
He notes only the finer females of the community and they regard in him in turn.
Nary a word for the average, so I haven't the smallest hope. No hope that he will open his eyes to all that someone in different packaging might do for him. How right they might be.
He wouldn't entertain the notion for less than his station.
Least of all a maid he has never noted.
He does, however, pay great attention to fine ladies and misses.”
Edward is handsome, gallant and hardworking.  He secretly watches Bella believing she has no feelings for him.  But before he can make his affections known, he is reminded of an arrangement he made years ago.
“It seems young Edward had made an arrangement of promise to Mr. Marcus's daughter years ago.
"I was a silly, short-pants schoolboy! It was long ago! How can I be held to this?"
"Edward Cullen," Mr. Marcus bellows, "it matters not to me when you made this arrangement and I do not want to think what manner of indiscretion it accompanied. The fact remains that my daughter is of marrying age and promised to you for some time now. Fate has brought my family to this area and this union will happen."

Edward’s old arrangement causes Carlisle to make a new arrangement that brings chaos to the Cullen family and Bella.  And with this new arrangement, the story only becomes more captivating. 
I would love to share more of the story with you but I want you to enjoy “Arrangement” to the fullest.  As a voracious reader, I enjoy reading numerous authors who write period love stories (Rosemary Rogers, Stephanie Laurens, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Barbara Cartland).   For me, QuantumFizz, with her brilliant writing talent, ranks among these renown authors.   Her character development is unique yet timeless.  She weaves you effortlessly through the story and keeps you guessing and quite spellbound from the beginning to the unexpected humorous ending.

I hope you give this amazing short fic a read.  I promise you will enjoy “Arrangement” immensely and come to appreciate QuantumFizzx as I do.
-Elaine  (Sparkledamnu on FFN & Twitter – Sparkle Damnu on Facebook)

Paper Cutouts by twistedcoincidence-rec'd by Teddy nine'Yesa
Bella prefers the virtual to the actual, but feels herself being tugged from the safety of her online realm into the world of a rough edged Edward. This time she'll write her own story. Collab with astilbe13 AH/AU Twilight - Rated: M

Review by: Teddy nine'yesa

"There are no highlights in the story of my life, no cliff hangers, no nail biting moments. Everything drones on like the predictable beat of a metronome, no down beats or flourishes. My parents seem to think that this is the their ultimate gift to me. They call it comfort, stability. I call it hell."

When I read this, the very first few lines of chapter 1 of Paper CutOuts by twistedcoincidence and astilbe13, I was captured. Maybe it was because this story seemed realisitic, a story that everyone could relate to in their own way. I wasn't disappointed.

Meet Bella. She has a college degree in art history and she knows the difference between Monet and Manet. But because people aren't looking to hire those with such knowledge, she works as a telemarketer.

Every night Bella takes solace in her Macbook. Her 378 friends on Facebook make up the best part of her day.

"I read each update, feeling more and more connected to a world where I belong. I take my time, savoring each posting on my wall, typing out careful replies. The computer warms up my bed and I draw in closer to its heat. I move only to make a box of Mac and Cheese and change from my stifling work clothes into sweats. The hours push past me and my fingers keep busy. I smile and laugh at words I don't actually hear, only read. My eyes drop and the red numbers on my digital clock starts to taunt me. Six hours until I have to get up, then five. At four and a quarter, I finally relent and pluck out my final words. I push the lid closed and fall into a quick sleep, feeling full and needed."  

But one day while looking out of her third story work building she hears a crash on the street below, a crash that changes her life.

"My eyes search for the noise and when I find it, I'm frozen. A large truck is backed up into the dark storefront across the street. The back is open, revealing row upon rows of what I think are kegs. None of that is important. My eyes can't leave the man attempting to right a fallen keg which has somewhat exploded, soaking him in beer. His hair is matted to his forehead, his shirt suctioned to his body. My eyes wander, taking in the dark stains on his skin, which is all I can make out of what must be tattoos.

The oddest thing is that he's laughing. There's beer everywhere, spilling into the gutters and staining the sidewalk, and he's laughing. Head thrown back, mouth wide. My eyes flutter over to the driver who is yelling and running in a circle like a wind up toy."

Now meet Edward. He owns a bar, has a painful background but has a loving family, tons of tattoos, a penchant for swearing and for fast food (KFC and McDonalds). He also has an adorable three-year old son, Finn, who he calls Huck and who's mother is Savannah. He has a dog named Walt.

"I can't understand how people can have kids and give them away. After I saw Finn for the first time… I mean, I was fucking enamored. Terrified but absolutely fucking in love with him."

When you put those two together you get fun, romance, honesty, and lemons.

Do you dream about me?" I bite down gently on her bottom lip and rub my thumb once hard over her clit.

Her back arches, pressing her chest to mine, before she nods. "Always."

I pump just my middle finger into her and watch as she bites down on her lip and then she pushes her hips up towards my hand. God, she is so fucking beautiful.

I rub my dick against her thigh for a little bit of relief and kiss her again. She whimpers. "What?" I whisper into her ear. "What do you want?"

"You," she says and wraps her arms around me. "I want you. Please. Enough teasing." 

This story is an adventure about falling madly in love with a man and his son, about helping a woman step out of her virtual world and into yours. A story about doing the best for those you love whether that involves moving cities or keeping a secret that you really shouldn't keep. A story about misunderstandings, mistakes, pain, loneliness, worry, regret and forgiveness. A story about finally taking control and writing your own happily ever after with as many characters as you want.

Paper CutOuts isn't a long dragged out story. It's 31 full length chapters, an epilogue and an outtake and mixed first person Point of Views.

It has the most amazing song excerpts at the begging of each chapter by artists like Bradie Carlile, Thievery Corporation and Fiction Family.

Within 138,000 words the authors have managed to put down an electic mix of stomach-clutching humour, romance, family, friends and just enough angst to make you hurt in the most wonderful way.

Whether your're an angst lover or a fluff lover, I think this is one of those stories that everyone should read.

It's beautiful and I love it.

-Teddy xo

Pocket Change by A White Blank Page-rec'd by Nic/Jaime Arkin
I know of three kinds of change: the kind that jangles around in your pocket, the kind that happens slowly, every moment of every day, and the kind that blows you away in an instant.
Twilight - Rated: M

Review by: VampHaveLaws

When I was asked to write a review for Pocket Change, I was so excited. It’s a huge favourite of mine, and I was secretly hoping I’d be lucky enough to speak a little about it. I adore everything about this gorgeous story aWhiteBlankPage has created for us lucky readers, and if I could make it happen, I’d ask everyone to read it, and then watch as they fall in love with these characters just as I have.

One of the many special things about Pocket Change is its ability to dominate your thoughts long after reading. It causes you to think and hope and love, and those attributes aren’t always present in a story, let alone a fantastic one such as this. The words hit you hard and true, and leave you wanting more in the best of ways.

The story switches between the now and then, portraying growth and pain and instances that leave you breathless from both Bella and Edward’s point of view.

From the very first chapter, Pocket Change will draw you in and push you forward, the interwoven story between the two main characters, magnetic.

I know of three kinds of change: the kind that jangles around in your pocket, the kind that happens slowly, every moment of every day, and the kind that blows you away in an instant.

After all this time, there is one thing that I know for sure: fast or slow, piercing or silent, change is nothing but a thief in the night.

My mother claimed to love change. Charlie feared it. And then there was Edward. Edward changed everything, but I couldn't let myself keep him.

And not to mention, the imagery is some of the best I’ve ever read.

I carry it to the kitchen to rinse the dust off in the sink. The cool water runs over my wrists, slowing my pulse. And then it's alive, slick, wriggling from my hands. Falling to the bottom of the sink. Shattering.

I don't reach out to try to salvage it. My hands are motionless. Frozen.

My chest is collapsing in on itself before my mind has a chance to catch up. Sobs racking through me. My hands like claws. The water still running.

The story starts with a ten year old Bella trying to find her place in the world. She appears so alone, so lost, and you instantly feel protective of this girl. You want to know her story.

One year. 365 days. I am ten years old. I go to school. I do not use four letter words. I do not say what I mean. I do not hit anyone. I do my homework. Charlie is proud of me. Everyone talks about how well I'm coping. I wonder if this is what it is like to be dead.

Skip ahead a few years, and Bella is now eighteen. From flashback scenes, we watch as she hides her emotions and keeps everything locked inside. She thinks herself undeserving of love and care, which just makes you want to help her all the more. She finds it hard to connect with others, and the reasons for her outward nature are not obvious straight away. We get to those parts later in the story.

We’ve all been there though: confused and hurt and afraid of the things we don’t yet understand.

I hear the unremarkable, yet unmistakable sound of a lunch tray being set on my table. My table.

"Mind if we sit here?" She's everything I'm not.

"You must be Alice." Even I'm a little startled by the hostility in my voice but I don't know how to do this.

"I am. This is my brother, Edward."

And when I look up, he's smiling.

At me.

They both sit and start eating their lunches as if it's nothing. And now I'm the one who's staring. 

He's watching me. He never takes his eyes off of me. His eyes are kind. They see me. They terrify me. They make me want to throw up.

As you can see, the connection between Bella and Edward is instantaneous. And this only grows as the story continues. Edward breaks through the shell Bella has created around herself little by little, and from here we get to share their tears and smiles; their first kisses and broken hearts. We get the best and worst of their emotions, which eventually spiral into a captivating and incredibly well written web of pain, love, regret, and hope. Events and missing pieces soon start to slot into place as we focus back on the present.

I stand in front of the barn, my shoes in one hand, trying to make out the path that led to Bella's house. The one that used to be there. And my mind must be playing tricks, because for a moment I can see it.

I look away before it disappears.

In the beginning, there was one well-beaten path to the barn. The grass and weeds had long surrendered to Bella's feet before we moved here.

And then there were two paths. One from her house. One from mine.

Later, the first path faded and there was only one path again, a wider one, just wide enough for two people to walk side by side.

And now, there are no paths at all. The night hid the change on the walk over. Here in the sunlight, it is clear as ever.

This place is truly abandoned.

Each chapter we get to see where they are now. We get to see how their lives have changed and how they struggle to get back something that got lost as fear dominated everything else.

I shut my eyes and open my mouth. "Then I want to hear you say it. I want to hear you say that you don't love me. Because I know you do."

I feel her roll away from me. And I think I've won. It's the most hollow of victories. It's not a victory at all when she speaks.

Her voice is vacant and steady. "I don't love you. I never have."

It's choking and drowning and being burned alive.

My eyes flash open. "You're lying. Look at me when you say it. Your eyes are the only honest part of you."

She turns to face me. Venom and bite. "I don't love you."

The way in which aWhiteBlankPage writes is so incredibly poignant; her words are exceptionally emotive, and all the ups and downs of these characters soon become yours as they resonate inside your heart.

Some people are beautiful when they cry. Their cheeks flush ever so slightly and their eyes shine as the tears roll delicately down their cheeks. My mother was beautiful when she cried. I think I almost remember that. I only saw Charlie cry once. He was not beautiful then. He was sloppy and scrunched and completely raw.

I can feel Edward's hands on either side of my face, his thumbs at the corners of my eyes, rubbing back and forth. And I'm startled by what he's doing, not because I don't expect this from him, but because he is wiping away tears. My tears.

One deep breath, and I can't keep the tears anymore. I can't keep them. My face is fire and my breaths are short and I can't keep them. I'm holding onto Edward's arms begging the tears to keep coming.

This is what it feels like to cry. This is what it feels like to feel.

Pocket Change will pull at your heartstrings, and allow you to experience a range of emotions that only the very best writing can achieve. I don’t want to give away any of the major plot points that have happened so far, as that’s the fun part we readers get to experience ourselves. Needless to say, I can’t wait to see what aWhiteBlankPage has in store for these characters next.

My words can in no way do justice to this beautiful story, so if you’re not yet reading, please give it a try. You won’t regret it.

In fact, I dare you not to fall in love with it as I have.

Breaking News by WriteOnTime-rec'd by Wonderfully Bedazzled
Two network news anchors. One desk. In a race to get the story, love might become the headline - if they don't kill each other first. AU/AH Canon Couples, smart people, particle physics, and tap dancing. Twilight - Rated: M

Review by: LaMomo

How do you do justice to one of the best written stories out there?
There is no set recipe for this. And there is probably no best way to go about this. So my deepest apologies in advance to the bundle of awesomeness that is WriteOnTime if my little ditty overlooks any details. My only excuse can be put down to major fangirling.

We're in the city that never sleeps, at an ever-restless, ever-busy TV news network. Not the CCN, but still top-tier. What happens when the established news anchorman literally drops dead? Someone from the lower levels of the news foodchain must take the reins, because the news don't stop, and the show must go on. Enter our Bella - classy, confident, has all her facts and ducks in a row, and has been an asset to the network for a while. This is the opportunity of a lifetime for her - prime time news, to an anchorwoman. Time to make history.
And she could totally take the newsworld by storm, if the network "brass" didn't have revolutionary plans to freshen up the format of the nightly news.
The freshening tool waltzes in the shape of one the youngest but most famous investigative journalists in the world. One who's been in the line of fire, in every golpe, in every improptu war, in every natural catastrophe around the globe and doesn't even seem to have the years nor the physical scars to show for it. In Bella's words:

"Edward Cullen. Pulitzer 2004 for a series of reports filed from Thailand shortly after the Tsunami. Pulitzer 2006 for exposé on US munitions dumps in civilian Afghan neighborhoods. Pulitzer 2007 for the only Western reportage inside the borders during the Myanmar uprising. Shared Pulitzer 2008 for a series of reports from a renegade faction camp of the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Eelam in the heart of the Sri Lankan jungle. Was I familiar with the name Edward Cullen? Was I familiar with it?"

He would even be one of Bella's news idols if, in person, he wasn't one arrogant, self-important, conceited, bossy, over-bearing, confrontational asshole. Too bad Bella dubbed him a CalvinKleiner when he was within earshot. He doesn't let it slide:

"Edward Cullen," he said, the impassive green eyes resuming their calculations about me. "Many things, but never an underwear model."

He could be codenamed Danger-Is-My-Middle-Name, but we'll stick to Edward Cullen. Did I mention he is insanely attractive? Did I mention he could charm anyone's pants off with a wink? No need to, right - we know the drill.
And while he is insanely attractive, he is also every bit the arrogant prick, whose ego takes its own postcode, and has a tendency to look down on Bella because he believes she's just lived the sheltered life of the news broadcast journalist - she reads the news, he chases them at the possible cost of his life.
But Bella chooses to be the bigger person, she chooses to be professional, and assures her boss that there is no "major ego situation" to deal with. And while Bella is "sucking it up", she can't help but be puzzled by the fact that Edward would only sign up for the gig if she was the other half of the team.
So…..their partnership is born under a very temperamental and confrontational star but, as Peter the boss says "you have chemistry".

The two worlds of Bella and Edward literally collide, in the new shiny corner office they share, in the way the go about the news, in the very studio where those news are delivered. The air is sizzling, not just with their verbal sparring.
What we don't expect is what happens when these two world collide - Bella, who can be charming on screen but totally ruthless in the "bullpen", aka the newsroom, when she's chasing a story, and Edward on the other side, who's hell-bent on egging her on and provoking her at every chance he gets.
They don't even get to the end of their first planning dinner with Peter unscathed - because the tension could be enough to cover the energy demand of the whole country. Peter has a drastic idea - force them in the same space together, all the time. Time for detention in the conference room.
In the meantime, Bella has other things to contend with - her lifelong friend Alice has gone missing, supposedly huddled away by her family to a psychiatric hospital, because she is not a stranger to nervous breakdowns and…visions. Bella's mission, on top of everything else, is to find Alice. Edward is worried that she will get herself into trouble. And of course, this is a story. He can't pass up a good story. And he charms Bella into telling him the ins and outs of Alice's past.
Meanwhile, enter Tanya, Edward's Russian producer, straight off her BBC assignment. She's a riot, she doesn't take Edward's shit, and she takes an instant liking to Bella. And if Edward has a producer, Bella has one too. Enter Emmett…"Men of Sherwood!" is his entering salute to the bullpen.
This unlikely, but all-in-all well-meshed foursome sets out to take the news arena by its horns. At the same time, behind the scenes, Edward and Bella's chemistry turns up a notch - or five. The air literally sizzles with the energy they give off, while they battle with the health reform, with world politics and with Alice's visions of catastrophe in Switzerland.

I won't say more about what awaits them - because this journey is a rollercoaster that you absolutely need to take with a fresh set of eyes and a free spirit.
What captures you about this story is the constant tension. UST in spades, verbal tension, story tension, you name it, you got it. It's a story that gets you riveted to your screen, to your seat, unable to log off, unable to stop, unable to eat or drink. With the rhythm of a CCN marathon, event after event, you're in the middle of this amazingly written, devastatingly funny and intensely emotional story. Will Alice get out of Switzerland alive? Will Edward and Bella cut each other's throat or jump each other's bones?
One last mention - WriteOnTime is not only an incredible storyteller, who's given us a hot, fast-paced tale, but she's also a girl with brass balls who knows her shit. This is her world - broadcast, the news, politics, wars. She has weaved all this into the story without breaking a sweat, with unflinchingly exact research that make this all the more realistic. And when the two finally get their shit together? Whoa. Nuclear explosion, brace yourselves. I daresay we could name that a non-declaration declaration. Why? Go see for yourself. READ IT.

Once and Future Lovers by littlesecret84-rec'd by Nic
He told me once that he preferred brunettes, but his fingers were always playing with long, blonde strands. He could never make up his mind... until he did. And now that I'm back I don't think he deserves a second chance. Twilight - Rated: M

Review by: Eternally Edward/Kim

Once and future loves by littlesecret84 is a story about growing up and living with the decisions we make. Edward and Bella have a history-they've been friends forever, and for a while, were more. They both ended up being hurt by the other, and Edward ended up with Rosalie. Now, eight years after high school, he's married to Rosalie and living in Forks. Bella is visiting her mother for the summer while she studies for the bar and learns that Edward and Rosalie live in the dilapidated house next door. Edward comes over frequently to borrow tools-and reminisce about growing up with Bella.
Bella reluctantly goes over to say hello to Edward, who's thrilled to see her. Hurt feelings and betryals are put aside as Bella and Edward get together frequently to talk about their past and current lives. Bella has never really gotten over Edward, and she learns that Edward is unhappy in his marriage and with his life in general.
"Rose wants to go to Paris."
"Take her."
"I don't think she wants to go with me."
What a sad thing to say, but he's smiling a lot, so maybe it's not that sad.
"Who would she want to go with?" My voice is soft, my words come out slowly, like I'm testing the waters. Is this okay, Edward?
"I'm just kidding. I mean, I guess we'd go together. It's just... I don't know, things have been tough lately."
"What's wrong?" When did my voice get even softer? When did my hand reach out to brush the hair out of his eye?
"Nothing's wrong. It's just always the same thing."
"You mean, marriage? Like, it's boring?"
"It's not boring, it just is.But I meant, it's always the same fights, same arguments. You get tired, you know?"
I nod. "I bet."
"For example, the thing I told you about leaving this place. We've been arguing about that for years. She won, we bought the house. I figured hey, it's an investment, it's something. Owning some property, you know? We could always sell it. But now... it's like, it keeps me here, and she hates it, because every penny we make goes toward fixing it up, or new furniture, and it's still a piece of shit."
He leans back in his chair and takes one of those really dramatic deep breaths. Long exhale.

There's a sense of inevitability as Edward and Bella test the boundaries of their relationship. Intimate conversations lead to touching and kissing and eventually declarations. Despite their feelings and Edward's discontent, both seem unwilling to take the step that would change their lives. Neither seems to trust that the other's feelings are entirely genuine.

"Me?" I laugh. "We were in a relationship?"
"I bet you've said that before. Breaking hearts all over Chicago, New York, now Seattle, too."
"Never in Forks, though."
The look he gives me makes me wonder if I've been wrong all along. But it's so easy to dismiss that thought. I'm not falling for the sweet, sad face, the face of a broken and tormented boy. He's neither. Manipulative son of a...
"I think that's Mom's car," he says, jumping up and looking out into the street through the bushes. "Come on, let's go surprise her."
Things get to a point where choices have to be made. Bella's resentment over Edward's past treatment of her makes her angry and resentful. At times she seems to take pleasure in hurting him. Edward is frustrated, not only with his life but with Bella. He seems incapable of digging himself out of the rut he's fallen into. Bella doesn't want to tell Edward to leave Rosalie, and Edward isn't sure that Bella will be around if he does. You get the feeling that he's afraid to leave his safe, if unsatisfying, life for the unknown with Bella.

His hands are still on me, but they're different. I caress his cheek and rest my head against his chest to calm him.
"No," I explain, "I just wanted to know if it would be like before, if it was all in my head. And you know you wanted to know, too. If there's something..."
"What the fuck have we been doing all summer, Bella? Do you think I'd be here if I didn't know? I didn't have to have sex with you to—"
"No, you didn't. Because you've done that before and you made a choice. You married your choice. That's done. Don't make me feel like I'm a bad person or that I don't love you enough just because I had to have this again."
"What do you want from me?" he demands.
"What do you mean? What are you giving me?"
"Answer my question. Are you only interested in sleeping with me? What do you want?"
"You're married," I remind him, standing up. It makes him look worse. It's mean, because I want it to be. "What I want doesn't even matter. This. I want this. I want you. What do you want me to say? 'Leave Rose and move in with me'? I'm not telling you to do that, just like I didn't tell you to dump her back in high school."
"Great, so let's have a repeat of that."
"Why are you acting like it's on me? Like this is my fault?"
"You won't tell me what you want," he says. "I don't even know if you'd want to be with me."
"Be with you? You're really going to leave your wife and then just bewith me? Just like that. Smooth transition."
"I know it sounds simple and even a little cruel, but, listen—"
He grabs my wrists and brings me down onto the couch next to him.
"Listen," he starts again, "I'm not a bad guy. I wasn't even a bad husband. Yeah, I thought about you from time to time, and yeah, I was attracted to other women. I never did anything bad, not until now, not until this summer. I know I don't seem like someone you'd want to keep around, but Bella, if I were married to you,if you were my wife—"
"Are you serious right now?"
"I would never, never, cheat on you. I'd never disres—"
"Oh my God. I can't talk about this right now."
"Then when? We need to figure out stuff."
"I don't know," I say. My tone is a little softer, and it calms him down. He holds me while I think. And I'm lucky he can't read my thoughts. Even I can't. There are so many of them. They're conflicting. I think he loves me. I think this is real. I think he'd leave her if I told him it's everything I wanted. But I don't trust him. I genuinely do not trust this man. I think he'll chicken out once he's back there. I think he loves her more than he knows, more than he wants to love her. I think I'll be waiting for a long time before he finally acts. I think it will kill me. I want him to call her right now and tell her it's over. My dad did it. He destroyed lives with a simple phone call.
See? I'm sick. I'm a bad person. And I'm crying all over his shoulder. Into his neck.
"Bella, it's okay. We'll do whatever you want."
What do I want?

I love the way littlesecret84 handles this tough subject. Infidelity is never pleasant-people get hurt, lives are changed. Yet it's hard to place blame or judge Edward or Bella. We see what makes them the people they are, what led them to this point-we can understand what drives Edward to cheat on his wife, and why Bella flirts and leads him on, even while she's conflicted. I'm not sure how this will all end up, or even how I'd like it to end up, but I know whatever happens it will be real and raw and possibly heartbreaking. Once and Future Lovers doesn't offer pat answers or platitudes; it's about the choices we make and the consequences we face as an result of those choices.