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Bella sat alone in Alice's room, cradling her useless, bandaged hand against her chest and listening to the tick of the clock. Pinching the bridge of her nose, her mind wandered over the events of a very stressful day. Moments later, she heard a gentle knock on the door and Alice entered with a mug of hot chocolate.

"It's your room, Alice. You don't exactly have to knock." Bella said, a weak attempt at amusement.

Alice smiled slightly and gracefully walked over to sit beside her, handing her the steaming beverage.

"I know, I know. I just didn't want to barge in and surprise you when you're in a sensitive state."

The 18-year-old smiled gratefully and took a sip, letting the heat warm her from the inside. Wrapping an arm around Bella's shoulders, Alice gave her a reassuring squeeze and Bella felt her emotions rise to the surface.

"So, tell me... What happened today that's made you so sad?"

Bella looked into her friend's earnest eyes and suddenly knew that she could talk to her about anything. She set the mug down a little harder than she intended and stood up forcefully.

"I'm not sad, Alice, I'm angry! I've never been this frustrated in my life!"

Alice stayed quiet, watching the tension in Bella's shoulders as she started pacing back and forth.

"I mean, they're just so... It's like they're children! I am so done with being stuck in the middle all the time! Edward always lies to me, Jacob doesn't respect any of the people closest to me, and both of them try to control me constantly! Sometimes I feel like they wouldn't even notice if I wasn't there, as long as they get to keep bickering about who gets to keep me! The only thing they seem to be interested in is showing off their masculinity to each other and trying to prove who has the higher score! It's EXHAUSTING!"

Bella's voice was rising in pitch, but she couldn't stop herself now, even if she wanted to.

"They never listen to me or respect what I want to do or what I have to say! When Jacob kissed me earlier, I was... scared. He was too strong and I couldn't push him off me and I was terrified that he was gonna take things further and I couldn't even protest because of his stupid lips on my face! And then they decided to have a face-off RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY HOUSE! I tried to stop them, to break it up, but it was like they couldn't even hear me over the rage in their hearts! Either that or they purposefully ignored me. If it weren't for my dad coming out, I don't know what would have happened! I wouldn't even be surprised if they tried to kill each other right then and there and I just... I...!"

Bella stopped, breathing heavily while she ran her good hand through her tangled hair. She turned back toward Alice and her face was flushed with frustration. Alice said nothing, but opened her arms in invitation. Bella felt tears welling up in her eyes and rushed forward into her embrace. She let herself cry openly, releasing all the pent-up irritation of the last few months. Alice stroked her hair and murmured words of encouragement. After a few minutes, Bella was spent. She wiped her face with the back of her sleeve and chuckled humorlessly.

"Sorry about that... I didn't mean to unload everything on you all at once."

Alice shook her head firmly, holding Bella's chin with her thumb and forefinger as she gazed deeply into her eyes.

"There is NOTHING to apologize for. I wouldn't have asked if I didn't care about the answer. I'm glad you told me how you're feeling."

Bella gave a small nod and turned her face away, hiding a soft pink blush that formed on her cheeks.

"And besides," Alice continued, "it sounds to me that you're absolutely right to be feeling this way. When men get into battles over women like this, all logic is out the window. The only thing that matters to them is proving that they deserve all your love and attention, even if it means ignoring all your love and attention until they've succeeded. It's a vicious cycle that will never end until the other is out of the equation... permanently."

An anxious feeling jolted in Bella's heart at Alice's words, but she suddenly knew just how right she was. She sighed with defeat, realizing that things had to change, and they had to change now before someone got seriously hurt.

"It's just so messed up... I thought Edward and I would last forever, but now... Now I don't think that's what I want... Of course, I still love him and a part of me always will, but... my feelings have definitely changed since this never ending competing started and ruined my life. I mean, I'm so stressed out all the time that I feel like my hair is turning grey and falling out!"

Alice giggled, taking a lock of Bella's hair between her fingers and examining it.

"It looks fine to me! Gorgeous and shiny as always!"

Bella blushed again, this time not looking away as the sultry vampire tucked the hair behind her ear. Alice's smile faded and her expression turned serious.

"But I think you owe it to Edward to be honest with him. If you don't want to be with him anymore, you have to tell him. It's unfair to lead him on if you have no intention of committing to the relationship."

"You're right, I know you're right... I'll break up with him when I go back downstairs. I also think it would be a good idea to get some distance from Jacob for awhile... I'm so over the negativity..."

Bella sighed again, leaning into Alice and closing her eyes. Alice stiffened a bit, but managed to stay in place.

"You know... I think there's something I can do for you..." Alice began, capturing Bella's attention instantly. She straightened with interest and smiled.

"Oh? And what would that be?"

Alice paused, mulling over whether or not to continue. Everything went silent for a few minutes and the ticking was once again the only sound in the room. While Alice pondered, Bella's eyes drifted lower until they landed on the immortal's lips. Her breath hitched and her pulse quickened against her will. She cursed internally as Alice turned her head slightly, sensing the flow of the blood in her veins speed up.

"Bella...?"

Alice's voice had turned husky, almost a growl, and Bella's heart pounded with excitement. With every breakup came the promise for a better future, and Bella suddenly knew what she wanted her future to look like. Away from all the drama of men and their fragile egos, being with a woman might just be the refreshing new start Bella needed. She steeled herself and locked eyes with the dangerous creature, knowing Alice would never hurt her. Without breaking eye contact, she moved her long hair over one shoulder, causing her bare neck to be completely vulnerable.

"I think I know what you were gonna say... and I agree. If Edward refuses to turn me, I want you to be the one to do it. You know it's what I want most in the world and I won't stop until I get it."

Alice narrowed her eyes, but there was a hint of amusement there too.

"I will gladly oblige, but there's something we should do before I end your human life forever."

Bella failed to suppress a groan. More conditions, more stalling, this family was driving her crazy. Just as she was debating walking out to find someone who WOULD turn her, Alice brought her face closer to hers. Breathing in the fruity spice of Alice's scent, Bella froze as Alice stopped just inches from contact. After an agonizing few seconds of their lips almost touching, Bella finally realized that Alice was waiting for her consent. With her heart pounding in her ears, she quickly closed the gap between them and kissed Alice with passion. The feeling was electric, so different from Edward, and Bella allowed herself to enjoy the new sensations. After a minute or two, Alice pulled away, resulting in a whine from the eager teenager. Alice smirked, giving a quick peck on her cheek and standing up to adjust her clothes.

"Now then. Since we've got that out of the way, there's nothing else stopping us."

Alice held out her hand and Bella took it without hesitation, standing in front of her with determination. Alice put her hands on Bella's shoulders and turned her around carefully so she was facing away. Bella stood still, staring at the wall in anticipation. Finally, FINALLY, her greatest wish was about to come true! She felt Alice move the hair from her neck this time and shivered as cold breath made goosebumps appear all over her skin.

She closed her eyes and took one last deep breath, clearing her mind of the thoughts racing in her brain. She flinched as she felt teeth sink into her neck and pain shot through her entire body. Then, everything went black.

*2 WEEKS LATER*

"Bella, darling! Time to go hunting!"

Alice's sweet voice carried up the stairs to where Bella was admiring her reflection for the 5th time that week. She couldn't help it! She was hot! She had no idea that her appearance would alter THIS much, and she wouldn't change it for the world! After Alice bit her, she turned shockingly fast, faster than all the Cullen's put together! When Edward saw her, he was so angry he couldn't even speak. Which made dumping him that much easier. After that, the two lovers left the house and made a home for themselves miles away where they wouldn't be bothered for awhile. Bella smiled, content and happy at last. Bounding down the stairs and into the arms of her mate for life, she knew she would never be disrespected again.