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~***~

T he mind works in mysterious ways. I already knew this, of course, but it was confirmed to me when I decided to clean out the attic and I found all of my old diaries. Each page filled with scribbles from back when everything had been so confusing and forbidden.

Somehow, I had convinced myself that everything had begun differently. My diaries always remained in the attic, disorganized and dusty, enclosing the years of our youth. As time passed, my mind painted up pictures of the memories, some of them remained sharp while others faded away. A few of them had changed over time because I thought that was how it happened. But my diaries told a different tale.

Reading our story again scared me, but my resulting feelings terrified me. Would I look at my husband differently? Would I feel compelled to tell our kids how their Father and I met?

They wondered about their grandparents, almost daily, and why they never called. Over the years they'd become strangely conventional, and I knew the truth would shock them.

But maybe it was time. And I told my husband as much.

"Are you sure you want to tell them?" he asked me as I showed him the diaries.

"Yes. I don't want to keep lying to them."

So he and I sat down with our children to tell them our story … from the beginning.

Elizabeth Masen and Anthony Masen were the parents of Rosalie Masen. When she was thirteen, Elizabeth gave birth to her little brother, Edward.

Edward's birth was supposed to save Elizabeth and Anthony's marriage. His toothless smiles and chubby fingers were supposed to fill up the cracks.

Although his smiles and chubby fingers were very cute, his diaper needed changing, he had to be fed, and he had colic. This caused him to cry constantly, and slowly, those small; seemingly, insignificant details trickled down the cracks of Elizabeth and Anthony's marriage and widened them. Elizabeth took a short vacation to clear her head while Anthony stayed at home to care for Edward.

Whatever happened on Elizabeth's vacation, it ended their marriage. The minute she stepped through the door when she came back home, she declared it to be over. She tried to take Edward away, but Anthony refused to give up his son and by some miraculous feat, he succeeded in obtaining sole custody of him while Elizabeth got sole custody of Rosalie.

Simultaneously, Renée Swan lost her husband, Charlie Swan, in a car accident that cost him his life, and Renée had to care for their newborn baby by herself. A baby she and Charlie had named Isabella.

By chance, Renée and Anthony attended the same support group for single parents, and it didn't take long for them to start casting glances at each other. They married within a year, and eighteen-month-old Isabella and two-year-old Edward became siblings.

I am Isabella, and Edward is my husband.

~***~

Edward threw himself down in my armchair with a book while I stood in front of the easel, starring at the white, empty canvas.

The canvas stared back.

There was nothing as anxiety-inducing as a blank canvas. However you started a painting, it felt as if you had ruined it.

Eventually, I took up a sponge, dipped it into my umber, and rubbed it over the entire canvas until it looked properly dirty. From there, it could only approve.

Edward laughed at me. "Very artistic," he commented.

"What do you understand about art? Nothing! You only paint fences and houses," I retorted angrily. "Not very artistic."

"I'm going to tell you, dear sister," he said, still smiling. "If I painted my fences like that, I'd be fired on the spot."

Unable to form a quick reply, I threw an empty tube at him.

Mom knocked and cracked the door open. "Your father and I are leaving now," she announced, but then remained in the door, her eyes locked on my painting. "What will it be?"

"Cosmic Chaos III," Edward told her with a chuckle.

Mom sighed. "Why don't you paint what makes sense? Like one of those fruit baskets you painted for Aunt Esme's birthday?"

I made the mistake once of painting a still-life for our Aunt Esme and from that day on, Mom hoped to escape buying Christmas gifts for all our relatives.

"You don't become a famous artist by painting fruit baskets for aunts, Mom," Edward told her seriously.

"Don't be too sure," she replied. "I'm telling you, regular people don't understand paintings that don't portray anything."

"Bella doesn't paint for regular people," Edward defended. "She only paints for the elite, and she'll paint whatever she wants."

Mom gave us a small smile. Our defending each other was nothing new to her. "Please, honey, can't you try to paint a fruit basket for Aunt Helen and Uncle Geoffrey?"

I groaned. "With the way you two are jabbering, I can't paint at all."

"Of course you can," Mom encouraged. "A fruit basket. With Oranges. You know how much Aunt Helen loves bright colors. At least think about it."

"Rennie, we’ve got to go!" Dad hollered from downstairs.

Mom startled. "Okay, you two, be nice to each other. We'll call tonight."

When we heard the front door close, an amused expression took over Edward's face.

"What are you thinking of that's so funny?"

He shrugged. "I was thinking of how confused and worried we'd be if she ever left and didn't say 'Be nice, we'll call.'"

I cracked my own smile and nodded.

We had talked about that recently. The annoyance you felt at always being treated like a child, but at the same time, that was exactly what you wanted because it made you feel safe.

He returned to his book as I attempted to make sense of my 'cosmic chaos.' I had planned to paint something understandable, but I'd lost my will now. I guess that came with the territory of being a teenager. Always rebelling.

Safety.

I guess you could call this safety; Edward's slow and silent browsing of his book while I painted. He almost always sat in that armchair and read at night, as I stood by the easel. We always had each other’s company even when we did different activities.

Edward read indiscriminately. Everything from comics and fantasy fiction to the classics and poetry.

Something was emerging from the chaos when Edward put away his book and looked at me.

"Maybe you should paint that fruit basket, anyway. If Mom and Dad don't have to buy Christmas gifts this year, you could start that croquis course again."

I shook my head. "That course cost too much, and I doubt Mom and Dad would trade that fee for a painting of a fruit basket."

Edward reached for my croquis pad, which was leaning against the wall, and looked through it. "That's too bad," he said as he eyed a curvaceous girl. "You're quite good at this."

"Especially with the girls, huh?" I teased.

He grinned but quickly became serious again. "The guys, too. Can't you find anyone who could model for you? Why don't you ask your creepy boyfriend?”

I burst out laughing as I thought of the look on my prudish boyfriend's face if I asked him that question. "Right! Michael doesn't dare to walk around in front of me in swim trunks, but he'd be willing to model naked."

Edward shook his head thoughtfully. "Damn, you guys have been together for six months now. Are you sure he's not gay?”

"No, just very religious," I said as I contemplated asking Michael to model naked for me just to see his face.

Then, as Edward continued to browse through the pad, I had an idea and I didn't understand why I hadn't thought of before.

"You can be my model," I exclaimed happily.

He scoffed. "No way," he said, but after a moment of persuasion and stubborn negotiations, he agreed to model for forty-five minutes each night for two weeks if I took his dish duty until Christmas.

He didn't know that I later traded away my own dish duty to Mom for the promise of that fruit basket painting.

~***~

Of course, that wasn't how everything started. In actuality, my relationship with Edward had never been what you could call "normal." But I had always seen that day, when he had agreed to be my model, as a turning point.

There was a door inside me, through which I'd thrown everything I didn't want to understand inside.

The jealousy, the panic which threatened to choke me whenever the future was brought up; the future that would separate him and me, like it did with all siblings, and that every boy I dated always had one or several faults that Edward didn't have.

All that, and so much more, had been thrown through the door and locked away.

That day in my room I think the space behind the door became full. It became impossible to force anything else inside. When I tried, everything I had collected tumbled out over me.

I fought it but lost.

Edward and I had always been siblings. For as long as we could remember. My mom and his dad married before either of us could create real memories, and my mom became his mom, and his dad became my dad.

She was a nurse, and he was a security guard. Both worked nights and slept during the day. Dad's other daughter, Rosalie, had lived with us for a while to help care for us. It didn't surprise me when Edward told me she was, in reality, a monster.

She turned herself into a human during the day, but at night she took on her true form, or so Edward told me.

Rosalie was twenty years old, saw the world for what it was, and she knew everything about raising children. According to her, we were spoiled and hopeless. Kids shouldn't be coddled. You should put demands on them and make them aware of how everything works in real life. Speak adult language and ensure they became independent enough for them to kiss their own scraped knees and palms. And, of course, do their part of the household chores.

She told Mom and Dad they basically did everything wrong. They taught us to use them, and they needed to realize themselves and not just be our parents.

At night, I crawled close to Edward. He protected me from Rosalie the Monster. He made me feel safe.

"Are Mom and Dad not real?" I remember asking him.

He had thought about that for a moment. "I don't believe Rosalie thinks they are. At least not until she's made them into monsters as well."

"Can she do that?" I'd asked, scared. "Make them into monsters?"

"No," he assured me. "Only smart monsters can do that, and Rosalie is a stupid monster."

I had my own bed in the room that Edward and I shared as kids, but we mostly slept in the same bed and talked until we fell asleep. Or I asked about something and he explained it to me.

Mom had told me on several occasions that he only propped me full of silly lies, but that wasn't true. He gave me his truth, and his truth quickly became our truth.

Afterward, I've often thought how our truth was better than what the adults could ever offer us.

When Edward was home with me during the days we lived inside the wall that surrounded our world, and we would drive Rosalie mad by excluding her from everything. But when Edward started school, I was left with my half of the wall, and in terror, I realized that half a wall wasn't a wall at all.

It took me a few days to find a solution.

Every morning, when Mom and Dad had gone to bed, I crawled underneath their bed. It was dark and enclosed by the sheets going over the edge. Their deep and heavy breathing and the dust bunnies became my friends, and I stayed like that until Edward came home.

A short time later, Rosalie moved out, and I was given her room. I started school, and Mom and Dad felt we were old enough to not need a babysitter anymore.

The wallpaper inside my new room was tainted by Rosalie the Monster's toxic breath, and one Saturday, while Mom and Dad were asleep, Edward and I tore it down. Underneath, the walls were gray and rugged, like a November sky, but at least they weren't poisoned. After about a year, the both of us had saved enough of our allowance to paint the walls white.

Edward's room shared a wall with my new room, and we developed an advanced communication-system with knocks and scratches since we no longer could talk face to face.

When I was eleven, Mom attempted an experiment. Edward and I needed to learn how to handle our own money, so once every month, we were each given a brown envelope containing four weeks allowance.

With Edward's somewhat reluctant permission, I took both envelopes with me to the small hobby store at the mall and bought an Italian easel, a few canvases, and a wooden box with a pallet, brushes, and oil paints.

I realized a dream, but Mom and Dad weren't happy, and the experiment was terminated.

I didn't know why I wanted to paint. Whenever someone asked, I couldn't answer.

Edward and I drew a lot as kids.

While I went through one sketch pad after another and gave Mom and Dad countless drawings, which they accepted with forced smiles, Edward could sit with one paper for hours and patiently fill it up with small figures and scribbles until there was no room left.

If you asked Edward what he was drawing, his answer was always "the world."

He stopped drawing when he was thirteen. It wasn't possible to fit the entire world onto one piece of paper, no matter how small he drew everything.

I remember how I used a green crayon and drew a large circle which I'd held up for him to see. "The world," I'd told him proudly.

Edward always tried to make sense of everything; I allowed it to be incomprehensible. It felt right to paint incomprehensible art.

~***~

I found an old, royal blue blanket that I threw over my bed before I asked Edward to lay down on top of it, completely nude.

But when I looked at his warm, sun-kissed skin against the cold blue fabric, I threw the croquis pad into a corner and took out an empty canvas and my oil paints instead.

Running around the neighborhood four times per week, as well as the quite heavy job as a painter's apprentice, had made Edward's body lean and muscular and easy to sketch.

However, I almost quit the first night because he asked every other minute what time it was and how much longer he'd have to lay there. But then we agreed that he could read, and he immediately fetched a book. He instantly transformed into a silent, and patient, model.

He was on his side, supported by one elbow, and the book just made the pose more natural.

My room faced west, and in the evening, the light from the setting sun crawled in through the window and bathed Edward's naked body in a warm, orange glow. The shadows became soft and blue.

I worked in intense silence, and the first painting quickly came to life.

I couldn't give an objective explanation of Edward's appearance, but I did my best. He was taller than me, around 6'2. His hair was reddish-brown; thick and somewhat wavy and was often in need of a haircut. His lips were full, and his eyes were green and filled with life. I could say, without sounding too partial, that he was attractive. Other girls thought so too.

Edward had a remarkable temper. He could get so angry you were on the edge of fearing him. His eyes would turn almost black when he was angry, but it never lasted long.

Generally, he didn't have a problem with showing his emotions. He laughed and cried, he was tender, sweet, and warm, and he could get terribly angry. But, he was rarely grumpy or whiny.

Mom and Dad loved us both very much, and I never felt neglected in any way. And even though Edward wasn't biologically hers, Mom had always been somewhat more drawn to him. I had never blamed her for that.

He was the best friend you could ever have. He was easy to talk to, to stay silent with, to laugh or cry with. And he was funnier than anyone else I knew.

I had always enjoyed looking at Edward's body, dressed or not, but I had successfully convinced myself it was obvious that any woman would appreciate an attractive young man, even if he was her brother.

My diary entries made it clear how much I'd liked it, but they had always been rather breezy and easily overlooked.

Michael called tonight. I wish he was at least half as sweet and funny as Edward. And that his shoulders were equally just as gorgeous … yeah, I know. Shame on you, Bella!

It took a few days for me to realize why my heart started beating so fast when Edward took his clothes off and stretched out his beautiful body on my bed.

The clock says almost four and I can't sleep. Can you answer this question? Is it allowed to get all warm inside when your brother smiles at you? Is that allowed since he is the most gorgeous and sweetest guy on earth?

I just can't help it!

And I'm so ashamed. What if he knows?

I'm crazy.

It's ridiculous, too. I've seen naked guys before. All of those models in my croquis course. I never felt anything more for them than I felt for a vase full of flowers or the stupid fruit baskets we drew in art class at school! They just stood there and were lines, shapes, light, and shadows.

Not flesh and blood.

Not laughter, mischief and life.

Not like Edward.

It's sick, isn't it? To get turned on by your own brother?

Perverse.

I need to get myself together. I've seen him naked hundreds of times before!

Except, not like this. Not posed.

He just looks so … good. So warm.

I finished the first painting tonight. It's in the corner, drying right now. I had planned to make another, but now, I don't know. Maybe I should quit.

I don't know why I want to paint anymore. If it's only to look at him, then it's wrong. It has to be wrong. Sick. Perverse.

I decided to quit, and I was going to tell him the next day.

I couldn't do it!!!

I couldn't tell Edward that I couldn't make another painting. I was on the verge of telling him when I realized that in doing so, I would confuse him and he'd ask why!

I can't lie to him. Ever.

He would look at me and see right through me, and I'd die of embarrassment.

Tonight, he sat very close to me on the couch as we watched TV. I don't even know what the show was about. I just sat there and felt his warmth and was engulfed by his wonderful smell. I tried to not think of his gorgeous, naked body on my bed. Gah!!!

Have you ever noticed that the more you try to not think of something, the more it etches itself into your brain?

Have you noticed something else? How beautiful his eyes are? Or how wonderful his mouth looks? And … For fuck's sake, Bella, stop!!! Just sleep. You're fucking insane! You should be locked up!

It's almost morning again. Lucky it's summer, or I'd snore like a pig in school as I slept my classes away.

It was as if I'd removed the lid from a pressure cooker, and the contents just exploded and filled every part of me.

The last few days of Edward being my model had transformed into a confused mix of shame, lust, dread, and excitement.

You'd think Edward would notice the torment his sister experienced, but when a good book enthralled him, he became unaware of everything around him.

I looked up the word perverse in the dictionary.

Perverted; depraved; unnatural; abnormal; deviant; immoral; warped; twisted; corrupt.

I'm scared, you know. I just like him so damn much. Too much. I always have. I know that.

His eyes, his smile, everything!

Please, don't let anyone ever read my diaries. I'll definitely be locked up!

In two weeks I had written almost one-hundred and fifty diary pages, and for the first time, I hid it when Edward came into the room.

He had never attempted to read it before. Why would he? I'd always told him everything. Until then.

Tomorrow it's over.

Just one more night of fearing he'll look up from his book and see through me.

I almost don't dare to look at him anymore. Have you ever heard of an artist who won't look at their model?! Maybe I should start a new era. The Bella-era. The artist acquires a sexy model, turns themselves on like hell and then only draws from memory!

I know. I'm crazy. I'm about to become legitimately insane.

It's as if I can feel his skin under my fingers when I paint. My want for him crawls inside me.

Can I swear?

Fuck!!

Thank you.

Tomorrow it's over. Everything will return to normal.

That Edward hasn't noticed what his perverted, depraved, unnatural, abnormal, deviant, immoral, warped, twisted, and corrupt sister is thinking is thanks to that book he's reading.

Thank you for that!

The last night, I had finished both paintings, and I used my croquis pad instead. Edward shifted position every ten minutes. It was easier because it didn't give me time to think.

But when the last minute had passed, he walked up behind me to look at my drawings. I could feel the heat off his naked body, and I didn't dare to look at him.

"It looks like Adonis," he commented. "Am I really that good-looking?"

"Yes," I answered, and heard clearly how regretful I sounded.

~***~

Apparently, I had succeeded in convincing myself that if after those two weeks passed, everything would return to the way it had been before.

Of course, it wasn't that easy.

Nothing returned to what it had been.

I caught myself staring at him. His hands. The reddish-brown hair that curled at his neck. The soft shadows around his collar bones.

His shoulders.

His mouth.

His eyes.

Edward was such an expressive person. Everything was so utterly alive.

And so, the terror inside me grew.

The terror of being sick and perverse; that Edward would look at me and see how I felt; that someone would find my diary that I was continuing to fill with alarming speed in which I was baring myself so completely.

One day, I went to the library and checked out a whole pile of books about incest. I didn't dare taking them home. Instead, I sat at a café for hours and read. But I didn't find anything that I felt fit my situation. Not one of those books explained if it was okay or not to feel the way I did for Edward since we were step-siblings. Before the library closed, I returned the books.

I looked up every therapist and sexual counselor I could find online, but I never dared to make a call. What would they do with someone like me?

Our family hugged each other a lot, and Edward often placed his arm around my shoulders, touched my cheek, or gave me one of his wonderfully tight hugs when he thought I needed them.

Suddenly, I couldn't take it anymore.

I stiffened and felt cold whenever he touched me.

So I started to pull away.

Edward quickly noticed that something was wrong, and when I didn't explain, he asked questions I couldn't answer. Terrified he'd figure me out, I snapped at him. I didn't know how else to keep him away from my secret than to be mean to him.

At first, he became angry. Then he became sad.

Nothing had ever hurt me as much as seeing Edward sad because of me. To avoid having to look at him, I accepted Michael's invitations every time he called. Encouraged by that, he called more often, and I was more than happy to get out of the house.

I tried to transfer my feelings for Edward onto Michael, but it didn't work.

First because he startled like a hamster every time I accidentally touched him, and second, I thought he was even ganglier and more boring than ever.

I don't think I'd ever really been in love with him. Our relationship was ridiculously innocent. He was a Mormon and didn't believe in sex before marriage, so we held hands, went to the movies or walked around town.

Mom and Dad loved him. He was always polite and well-behaved. Sometimes, he brought flowers for Mom.

I was actually surprised that Michael continued to call me month after month. We were just so different, and I was truly mean to him at times. I laughed at his, in my eyes, ridiculous qualities, and I did it to his face.

For example, he was ridiculously afraid of dust and dirt. Sometimes when I saw him carefully wipe away a non-existent speck of dirt from his pants, I wanted to empty the vacuum cleaner over him.

He had no sense of humor, but he was kind, so I guess I liked him. And he was attractive, albeit in a more feminine kind of way. He was tall, thin, blond, and had big baby-blue eyes.

But in August of that year, none of that mattered. Everything was preferable to being home alone with Edward.

My old diary ran out, and I started spewing out words into the next one. Several pages every day. First, I hid it in my closet. Then in my sock drawer. Then under my mattress. With time, I became downright paranoid. I thought everyone who came into my room was after my diary.

I stood in the bathroom every day with a box of matches and the diary, ready to burn it. But I couldn't. If I hadn't vented out on those pages, I probably would have exploded.

The more I fought what was inside me, the more obsessed I became, and the more obsessed I became, the more I fought it.

Life became a mess of dates with Michael, fights with Edward, tantrums written into the diary, sleepless nights and hours upon hours when I locked myself in my room and painted one dreadful fruit basket after another.

Everything accelerated. As if I'd nudged a snowball and it had tumbled out of control and become unstoppable.

Edward stopped being sad and became jealous and angry instead. We started passing each other in the hall without saying a word.

My insides were just chaos, and I acted irritated and unpleasant toward everyone. Only Michael endured and stubbornly continued to ask me out.

I cried at night. Fighting with Edward had hurt, but the silence was worse. It was a silence that had never existed between us before.

At times, it felt as if I had lost touch with myself. As if who I really was, was hidden deep inside where she hugged her knees and trembled while someone else took over and went berserk all over her life.

September passed and Edward continued to give me space. But sometimes, he looked at me. Almost contemplatively.

It wasn't the first time things had gone wrong between Edward and me, but it took this time for me to realize our fights weren't normal sibling quarrels.

I remembered when I was twelve and had my first crush. His name was Peter, and he was the first boy I "kissed for real" as I'd put it in my diary.

Edward and I had fought then too. He thought I was silly, and he had been jealous and lonely. I didn't know that then, though. I only thought he was mean and rowdy.

It wasn't until a few months later when Edward was suddenly head over heels in love with a girl named Jessica that I understood how he'd felt when I was with Peter.

Once, Edward chased me through the house with a book raised in the air because Jessica had called. I'd lied to her about Edward going to the movies with someone named Lauren. Another time, Edward and Jessica had locked themselves in his room. Mom and Dad weren't home, and I had been on my knees outside the door, trying to look through the keyhole.

I couldn't see anything, but I'd heard their whispers and giggles inside. So I stood up and walked to my room. A half-finished painting rested on the easel, my pallet containing quite a lot of colors next to it. I'd grabbed a bunch of brushes, dipped them into the paint and walked out to the hall. There I paced back and forth until I "accidentally" brushed Jessica's brand new, white jacket and left a thick, sticky, red stripe on it. I ran back to my room and locked the door.

Edward had been furious with me.

But despite the jealousy, we could always talk to each other. It was to Edward that I spoke of my worries, no matter what they were.

When I was fifteen and lost my virginity, the first thing I did was to walk home and tell Edward. I remember that I'd been surprised when he had gotten angry about it. He hadn't acted with such jealousy for a long time before then. But it had only lasted fifteen minutes. Then he came up to me and wanted a hug.

The night after, we sat in front of the TV, and Edward had been more quiet than usual. Just as I thought Edward's profile looked a hell of a lot better than the guy I'd lost my virginity to, he spoke up.

"Are you in love with him?"

I'd thought about it. "No, not really." Then I laughed and pushed him teasingly. "Don't tell me you're jealous again? You know you're the only one for me!"

I always said that when he asked me about boys, and usually he'd throw a pillow at me and go back to being himself. But that night, it was as if he hadn’t heard what I'd said.

"Sometimes I wish..." he trailed off, but then started again. “I wonder … how things would have been if you weren't my sister."

I had looked at him, but he continued to stare at the TV and didn't say anything else. I'd tucked the memory of that conversation away somewhere, but it slithered itself back into my mind, like everything else.

I walked down the street and kicked at the autumn leaves on the ground, and I realized there was a pattern, although I didn't dare to explore the meaning.

By chance, I wandered onto a street where I remembered my friend, Angela Webber, from one of my drawing classes I'd attended a few years earlier lived, and I decided to pay her a visit. She was older than me by almost ten years, and even though I couldn't tell her who Edward was, maybe I could, at least, talk to her about what I was feeling.

She was happy to see me, and we talked. About everything and nothing. Except what I'd wanted to talk about. But the hours passed, and suddenly the clock read three in the morning.

I felt content and relaxed after talking to Angela, despite my unfinished errand.

The lights were on in the hallway. Edward had stayed up, waiting for me. He almost never went to bed before I got home, but this was later than I usually stayed out. Michael was almost anal about getting me home before midnight.

Edward was in the kitchen, a cup of coffee clenched in his hands, and his eyes were black with anger. "Where the fuck have you been?"

I thought he acted exactly like a husband who had waited for his promiscuous wife. "At Angela Webber's," I told him, but I could see that he didn't believe me.

"You couldn't have fucking called and told me you'd be out all fucking night??!!" he roared.

"Calm down!" I yelled at him.

Edward had taken his mug and thrown it onto the floor, causing coffee and porcelain shards to fly everywhere, and then he stormed to his room and shut his door with a loud bang.

I remained frozen for a moment and listened to the silence that followed the noise. I felt almost relieved. As if a part of everything that churned inside me had gotten an outlet through Edward.

I started to collect the shards and noticed a visible mark left behind on the floor.

One day, Rosalie called. Dad answered, and Edward and I came out into the hall from our separate rooms.

Dad sighed as he hung up. "Rosalie has fought with her boyfriend. She needs a place to stay at for a while. She doesn't have any luck with men."

"Maybe it's the men that are unlucky with Rosalie," Edward said.

I met his eyes, and for the first time in almost two months, I felt a sliver of our previous giggling unity that we'd grown up with.

"Don't be mean, Eddie," Mom reprimanded.

"E-d-w-a-r-d," he replied. "Pronounced Edward."

Mom ignored him and turned to me. "You have to share a room with her. We'll have to get the cot from the attic."

I was distraught over the news. Life was miserable enough without Rosalie. "But Mom! My room is tiny, and..."

"Don't be difficult, Bella," Mom pleaded. "You don't need all that junk lying about. Just put it in the closet."

"All that junk," was my painting equipment. I also thought of my diary, and what would happen if Rosalie got a hold of it.

Then, Edward swooped in.

"Move into my room," he said. "I'm sure Rosalie would be happier with a room of her own."

Both Mom and Dad were immediately on board with the idea and fetched the cot from the attic. I stood in the hallway and tried to blink away the tears that wanted to escape.

Edward came up to me. "But you'll have to stop being so nasty, or I'll have to throw you out," he said, and I hugged him so tight I felt my ribs crack. He didn't say anything else. He just hugged me back.

When Mom and Dad returned from the attic, we were already busy moving my things into Edward's room. It was a tight fit, but we got it all in, eventually.

That night when we'd gone to bed, I remained awake for a long time and just listened to him breathe.

Perhaps you can get used to everything. You can get used to being perverted, depraved, unnatural, abnormal, deviant, immoral, warped, twisted, and corrupt.

Everything just felt easier after a while. I gave up. I accepted that I was perverse, and that I liked my brother more than what was socially acceptable. The fear that he would one day find out dissipated quickly. I thought that if he hadn't realized what was going on when I'd been acting like a lunatic for two months, he never would.

He could continue walking around without knowing, and I could let my thoughts roam.

The first few nights I slept in his room, I buried my nose in a magazine when Edward undressed for bed. But a week in, I started casting furtive glances in his direction, and sometime after that, I looked at him uninhibitedly.

My diary continued to be my place to vent.

He had showered, and he came back into the room with just a towel wrapped around his hips. His hair was wet. His skin was covered in small, glimmering drops of water.

He looked out the window for maybe thirty seconds, and when he turned around, I had to avert my eyes.

Sometimes, I wonder how he'd react if I told him.

I continued to go out with Michael a few times per week. Edward didn't say anything, and it was obvious through my diaries that it annoyed me that he didn't appear to be as jealous as he had been before.

~***~

It's quite disconcerting to discover you've been living an illusion. I thought I knew everything about Edward, but I was wrong. Suddenly, he'd been doing things I could never have imagined, not even in my wildest fantasies.

Mom’s best friends, Kate and Garrett, were visiting. Kate was a very chatty person that I couldn't stand, so I'd fled into Edward's room to paint.

Around eleven, when Kate and Garrett had left, Edward came into the room with a strange expression on his face. He slowly walked to his bed and sat down before staring emptily into space without saying anything.

After a moment, I put my brush down and looked at him. "Did something happen?"

Edward scooted further back until he was leaning against the wall. He looked at me as if he contemplated telling me or not. "Sit down," he eventually said.

I wiped my hands and sat down next to him, but I believe a whole minute passed before he said anything.

"Kate's pregnant."

I frowned in confusion. "Okaaay," I replied dumbly.

He gave me a quick glance. "Garrett's not the father."

I didn't understand what he was trying to tell me. Rumors of Kate's infidelity had circled around for years.

Edward saw that I didn't understand and gave me a small smile. "Sometimes you're rather dense," he said and took a deep breath. "Garrett's not the father. I am."

Slowly, the realization came to me. "You?!" I got out.

"Yeah, me," he said. "What? You don't think I can or what?" he asked defensively.

I shook my head. "No, of course I think you can, but..." I started.

"She's forty and you're only eighteen," he finished for me. "Yeah, thanks, I know that. It is the way it is."

Suddenly, I burst out laughing. Just the thought of Kate and Edward together was absurd. "You can't be serious!"

"What do you mean 'not serious'?! She's fucking knocked up! How much more serious can it get?"

He was getting angry, and I backed off. "Sorry."

"She's going to tell Garrett tonight," he said, and it looked as if he expected the man to burst into the room with a meat cleaver in his fist any second.

"Can't she say it's his?" I asked her.

Edward shook his head. "Garrett can't have children. She doesn't have a choice but to tell him the truth."

I was quiet for a moment as I tried to wrap my head around it. Kate and Edward. Kate and Edward!!!

"Are you … are you in love with her?" I asked and had to bite my lip to keep myself from laughing again.

"No, it's nothing like that," he said, and I blinked in confusion.

Nothing like that? Guys were strange animals.

"How … how long have you been doing it?" I just had to ask.

Edward grinned. "No more than an hour at a time."

"But when?! Why haven't I noticed anything?" I exclaimed so loud Edward had to shush me.

"Shh! Don't involve Rosalie or Mom and Dad in this! Why would you notice? I finish at work around five. If I'm home at six-thirty, everyone just assumes I've been working until six. Garrett's never home before eight."

Kate and Edward.

They'd been seeing each other at her place several times per week for two months. Kate who had been an adult our entire lives, and my Edward who I thought I knew so well.

I guess that’s why he hadn't had the time to be jealous of Michael lately.

Edward talked to Kate today. Garrett has decided to plead ignorance. Everyone will believe it's his kid, but he knows who the real father is. Father! Edward! I wonder if Garrett is as jealous as I am.

Edward was at her place after work, and I wonder whether they had sex or not. I don't dare to ask him.

I just can't understand it! What does he see in her?

Edward's only a few feet away from me in his own bed, reading. Are they going to continue seeing each other? I have to ask, or I'll go nuts!

I asked Edward yesterday when he'd turned off the light.

He answered as if he'd been waiting for me to ask. They weren't going to see each other anymore.

For Garrett's sake. And for the baby’s.

Edward had had a lover for over two months, and now he didn’t. Is he sad over it? He sounded almost unaffected.

He must miss her. Or, at least, her body? Is he over there dreaming about her?

Oh, Edward! You feel so far away!

Months passed, and it became Christmas, which we spent with Aunt Helen and Uncle Geoffrey. They received a painting of a fruit basket.

Only a few lines were written in my diary for that Christmas.

It's really fucking cold here.

Yesterday, E placed his hand on my cheek and said that I was beautiful. I think I love him. Can you fall in love with your brother? Aren't there supposed to be scientific laws that prevent that from happening?

~***~

It's almost midnight and I think E's asleep. He's on his stomach with his arms under his pillow.

He sleeps naked.

Not always, but tonight, he does.

Only his sheet covers his warm and naked body. That's how naked he was. At Kate's. In the bed with the blue duvet. And her small, steady hands touching his body. I wonder how many men she's had in her bed since she married Garrett. Fucking slut!

Edward sleeps.

He's so beautiful.

I can't take it anymore. Do you know how it feels to like him this much and then lie here and watch him fall asleep every night? Knowing that it can never happen? Never, never, never! Sometimes I wish I were dead. But then I imagine what it would be like to be underground and never see him again, never laugh with him or hug him again. So I don't want to be dead after all.

Tonight I did something I shouldn't have.

I crawled into bed, as naked as Edward, and then I sat up against my propped pillows and read. Then I allowed my sheet to fall down to my waist. Yes, I did that on purpose. And I saw in the corner of my eye how Edward's eyes wandered over the edge of his book to look.

I have nice boobs. I know that. Why wouldn't he look?

I shouldn't do this.

No, I shouldn't have done that. It didn't stop me from doing it again, and I even came up with other ways to draw his attention over to me. In some way, I found cruel comfort in believing I could make him lust for me. Misery always loves company.

I entered a strange time in my life when I couldn't control my behavior. Either I avoided Edward liked the plague, or I exposed myself too much. It was unavoidable, after all, since we shared a room.

It was too easy to touch him, or accidentally walk into him, or put my hand on his shoulder. I would have had to tie my hands behind my back to stop myself.

But it had an abrupt ending one day in April when I went too far.

Edward and I were cooking dinner together, and we were almost done. Rosalie was in the living room, reading, and Mom and Dad were asleep.

Suddenly, Edward became angry with me for some reason. I don't remember what he had gotten angry about. My diary said very little about what had triggered it, only about what followed.

I stood there and stared at him, and it resembled a movie without the sound. The muscles in his throat tensed up in anger, and his eyes went black in that way only Edward's eyes could get when he was angry.

His mouth moved so quickly. His lips formed angry words that never reached my ears. It was so unreal. Like a dream.

So I just did it.

I guess I finally lost it.

I stepped forward and silenced his angry mouth by pressing my own against his, and I kissed him.

I know. I'm crazy!

Then a sudden bout of fear hit me and I hurried out of the kitchen. Edward didn't even have the time to react.

In the living room, Rosalie looked up from her book. "Is dinner ready? I'm starving."

"Dinner's ready," I replied without recognizing my own voice.

"What's the matter? You look as if you've seen a ghost," Rosalie said. "Are you going to wake up Dad and Renée?"

"Mm," I said.

She rose from the couch and walked into the kitchen to where Edward most likely was still frozen where I'd pushed him up against the counter.

I tried to calm down, and then I woke up Mom and Dad. When the three of us came into the kitchen, Rosalie and Edward were setting the table. I think he looked at me as we sat down, but I was stubbornly staring down at the table.

The rest of the evening, I did everything I could to avoid Edward, and I dreaded when we were going to be alone in our room.

However, when we finally were alone, Edward acted like usual. He was a bit more quiet than normal, but he didn't bring up the kiss.

I turned off my light as soon as I'd crawled under my duvet and then faced the wall. I don't think I slept at all that night.

The day after, Rosalie announced that she was going to stay at a guy's place for a few days. I saw my room as available again, and with mixed feelings, I moved back in.

Edward helped me carry a few things. I still didn't look at him. The entire time, I thought he would ask about the kiss. But he never did. He didn't say much about anything.

In the afternoon, I couldn't take it anymore, and I called Michael who was quite upset that I did because he was usually the one who called. I don't think I'd ever called him before, but he agreed to go to the movies with me, albeit somewhat confusedly.

Edward looked at me thoughtfully. He had been eavesdropping. "What's this sudden longing for Michael? You never call him."

"There's a movie I really want to see," I told him nervously.

Edward reached out and touched a strand of my hair. "You and I could have gone together," he said.

I didn't look at him. I just stood there feeling naked and exposed. He had realized. He must have finally realized. "Michael's my boyfriend, and now I've promised to go with him," I said and tried to push past him, but he stopped me.

"What does he have that I don't?" he asked.

I finally looked at him to see if he was making fun of me. He wasn't. His eyes were darker than usual, and his mouth was serious.

"Nothing," I breathed out. "But you're my brother."

" Step -brother," he reminded me.

"Technically, yes," I agreed. "But we've grown up together, and you've always been my brother."

"And what can I do about that?"

"Nothing," I said again. "And neither can I."

Mom called for Edward to come into the kitchen, and I sighed with relief.

At seven, Michael came to pick me up, and his eyes were glowing. He pulled us all into the kitchen and pointed out the window at a red car parked outside.

"It's mine. I got it yesterday. Mother and Father thought I deserved my own."

Edward threw a glance of contempt and envy toward the vehicle. He'd wanted a car for years, but couldn't afford one of his own. Our family wasn't like Michael's. There wasn't any money we could spend on cars for us kids.

Mom thought the car was nice, and she told Michael it felt strange that she had a daughter who was old enough to be picked up by young men with cars. It made Michael happy. He liked being called a young man with a car.

Edward angrily stormed into his room, and I followed.

"Could you at least try to be civil?" I hissed.

He sat down on his bed. "Go to hell."

I left him alone.

The next day, Michael called and asked if I wanted to come with him to his parents' beach house. I accepted once I jokingly demanded that he buy a grilled chicken for me. He said he would.

I walked out to the kitchen and found Edward helping Mom with the dishes. "No dinner for me," I told them. "I'm going to the beach with Michael."

"He'll probably drag you around to all kinds of places, now that he has a car," Edward said with a sneer.

"You would like a car like that, wouldn't you?" I retorted, and he just huffed.

I returned to my room and attempted to put my hair up in a bun when Edward came inside with an apple in his hand.

"You can't only live off of love, you know," he said and offered me the fruit.

"Michael and I are going to eat chicken for dinner."

He stood there for a while and watched my vain attempt to put up my hair. "It looks better down," he said.

I gave up and allowed my dark curls to fall over my shoulders.

Edward walked to the window. "Looks like it's going to rain. Not exactly beach weather."

"We'll have a roof. Michael's parents have a beach house."

"Of course they do," he mumbled. "Fucking capitalists." He turned to look at me. "Is it really necessary for you to go out with that doofus every fucking night?"

"You're just jealous," I replied.

For a moment, it looked like he was getting angry, but then he shrugged. "Alright, so I'm jealous. Can't you just stay home tonight? We'll steal a bottle of wine from the cabinet and order pizza."

Michael was supposed to pick me up in fifteen minutes. I couldn't very well tell him to take the chicken with him and go back home, but that was exactly what I wanted to do. "Another night," I told Edward regrettably.

I was miserable at the beach house. Everything Michael and I did together made me wonder why I was there and not at home with Edward.

Michael commented on the way I ate, and that I would get fat if I continued to eat like that, and I thought of Edward who ate food with more passion than I did.

Michael asked how I knew how to build a fire when I lit the fireplace since he didn't know how to do it, and I retorted angrily with "Is there anything you do know?"

I asked him to sit down on the floor by the fire with me, but he wanted to pull up the couch because his gray dress-pants didn't allow sitting on a dirty floor.

Then he asked me why I never wore a skirt. I said I didn't like skirts and retorted by asking him why he wasn't wearing one.

"I'm not a girl," he said. "It's womanly to wear skirts. Don't you want to be womanly?"

"I am womanly all the way down to my fingertips. Including the paint under my nails," I said, waved said fingers and laughed.

"You laugh like a construction worker."

"And you laugh like a girl," I retorted. "And you eat like one, too."

Once again, I wondered why I wasn't with Edward.

"My parents would like to meet you," Michael said to change the subject. "They want to invite you over for dinner on Saturday."

I shrugged. "Yeah, sure, I'll be there."

"Then, maybe … do you own a skirt? Or a dress?”

I realized then what he was raving on about. "I have a skirt, and I'll wear it if I absolutely have to."

"Good … and you can't laugh like that, or talk in such vulgar terms and..."

I got angry. "For fuck's sake, Michael! Get another girl! A flighty little blonde thing! That would suit you better!"

"Please, don't swear like that," he said.

"I'm out of here!" I left the house. It was very windy outside, close to being a storm, but I continued down the driveway. "If you only knew how much I miss you right now, Edward," I said, and took out my cell phone to call a taxi. I didn't care if I'd have to live without money for a long time to pay for the ride because I refused to ride back with Michael and I definitely didn't want to go back inside.

The storm worsened, and it took the taxi a long time to get to the beach house and even longer to get me back home. It was a very expensive ride.

Edward was waiting for me in the living room. He hugged me tight and his scent surrounded me. "I never thought you'd come home," he said, his voice breathless with relief. "I thought you'd be lost in the storm. Did you have a good time?"

"Just peachy," I said sarcastically. "I broke up with Michael."

"You sound happy over it."

"I am. I feel like deadweight has lifted off me."

"What a cold sister I have," he said and pulled away. "You want some coffee?"

"Yes, please."

I sat at the table while Edward prepared the coffee and brought out mugs from the cupboard.

Edward.

I couldn't help it.

"Is it possible to fall in love with your brother?" I asked.

Edward suddenly turned around and hit one of the mugs against the edge of the counter which caused it to break and the coffee inside to spill out.

"You have to stop breaking our mugs," I told him mockingly stern. "Do you think they grow on trees? And look at the floor. Don't you think you've made enough marks on it?"

We wiped up the coffee together and then shared the remaining cup.

Edward remained silent, but he looked at me occasionally. I was scared it was I who broke something. Something far more precious than a mug.

When we'd told each other good night, I wrote several pages in my diary, and the time on my clock read three when I finally turned my light off.

Edward knows.

He's there, on the other side of the wall, and he knows.

He must know, or he's really stupid.

I wish I could see into his mind.

I'm scared. So scared my stomach hurts.

But maybe it's for the best that he knows. I'm not good at keeping secrets, anyway. Not anymore.

When he said good night, I almost kissed him again. I know. I'm crazy. Because I was also scared.

But his lips are just so … Full. A bit arrogant.

I'm going nuts over those lips.

I think I just might kill someone for the chance to sleep with him.

The next day, it rained all day. When I walked home from school, Edward met up with me since he was let off work early.

"I thought I might as well walk home with you," he said. "It's more fun getting wet together than by yourself." He grabbed my hand, and we ran the rest of the way home. We were soaked when we walked through the front door.

Mom and Dad were still asleep, so Edward and I changed out of our wet clothes, made ourselves some coffee and went into my room like we had so many times in the past.

Edward didn't say much. He appeared to be thinking about something. He just stared out into space as he sat in my armchair, and I restlessly paced the length of my room.

The rain pattered against my window.

Everything in the world outside had the same slushy color. The street outside was quiet and empty and the houses in our neighborhood looked dark and ominous in the rain. Why didn't anyone turn on their lights?

"Why do you think people sit in the dark when it rains?" I asked Edward. "Why aren't they turning on their lights or putting on music?"

"How do you know they're not playing music?" he countered. "They might have pulled their curtains to keep the world out for a moment. They might have turned on small, colored lamps and are listening to cheerful summer tunes while making love in big feather beds."

I smiled. His voice made me feel all warm and happy.

It continued to pour outside.

Edward stood up behind me and collected my hair into a low ponytail. His touch caused pleasurable shivers to run down my spine.

"Your hair is so beautiful," he said. "And long. You could braid it all the way down your back."

"Do it, then," I mumbled, slowly losing myself in his touch.

He snorted softly. "It would look catastrophic. Ask your creepy boyfriend. He's feminine enough to make a nice-looking braid."

I frowned. "Michael's no longer my boyfriend. Why do you always bring him up?"

"Because I think about him all the time," he replied quietly.

"Then he means more to you than he does to me."

"You go out with him every night."

"Do not," I insisted, but then backtracked because that was what I had done lately. "Not every night."

He placed his hand on my shoulder. "Did you … did you fuck at that damn beach house?"

So that was what was on his mind. "No. We've never even kissed."

"He's a fucking idiot," Edward said. "How the hell can he have you by himself in a beach house half the night without … without even trying ?! It's a personal insult!"

I sighed. "I've told you. He's very religious!"

"He's more than religious. He's fucking spiritualized !" His hands traced down my back and around to settle on my hips. I felt their heat spread through my entire body. "If you weren't my sister, I'd propose right here and now, and then you'd never go out with that idiot again!"

The headlights of a car traveled down the street and the sound of the tires reached our ears. But Edward's hands remained on my hips and made me weak at the knees. I felt somewhat scared of what I would allow him to do with me without the slightest hesitation if he moved his hands. I was already reacting so strongly when his touch remained stationary.

"It's not raining as much anymore," I said to keep my thoughts straight.

He was silent behind me for about a minute, and then his grip on me tightened. "Can girls want to sleep with someone so much they don't know what to do?"

My body ignited. I could feel my blood pulse through every fiber of me. "Yes," I said quietly.

He wrapped his arms around me and he was so close I could feel him breathe. His voice was so close to my ear. "I want to," he said. "I want you . I want to sleep with you so much I don't know what to do with myself."

I grasped the frame of the window hard and leaned my head against the cool glass in an attempt to clear my head make sense of it all. I guess we're all like animals. You don't really have a choice. Or maybe you do, but you can't make the decision.

I turned around.

Edward's eyes were dark, almost black like when he was angry, and his lips were parted. I thought to the hell with everything, and then I grabbed his hair with both hands to pull him forcefully against me, and we started kissing like maniacs. My hands fumbled over his body until I reached the front of his jeans where he was already straining against the stiff fabric. I took quite a hard hold of him, and he whimpered, in excitement or pain, maybe both.

We tore and clawed and fought our way out of our clothes—jeans were very impractical when you were in a hurry—and tumbled down on my bed. I'm sure it looked more like a wrestling match than it did an act of love.

And then he pushed inside me, and everything in my life that wasn't him shrank down into nothing. I felt the muscles in his body as he thrust hard and deep and I used my hands on his tense backside to push him even deeper, and even harder. I barely noticed him gasp and then start trembling before my own orgasm filled me up and caused me to explode into a million little pieces that scattered all throughout the room.

Edward had kept some presence of mind to place his hand over my mouth when I came to keep me from screaming and wake up Mom and Dad.

The rain was still pattering against the window, but Edward's panting breaths on my neck became the only sound that mattered.

He rolled off me and hid his face in my hair, but his warm hand was still placed over one of my breasts. I could also feel his release on my thigh.

"Why did Mom and Dad have to get married?" I wondered out loud. "Why did they have to make us siblings?"

"Maybe this was the only way for us to meet," he mused, but then he rose up on his elbow and looked at me. "Dammit, Bella, we can't do this!"

"Don't you think I know that," I told him, and I had the feeling that he was moving away from me. I desperately reached out to grab his shoulder to keep him there with me.

Poor Edward! He appears broken. If I so much as take a step closer to him, he shrinks back. I don't know if he's angry, scared, or sad.

We had sex yesterday.

Yes, I know I've already written that, but I have to write it again. In some ways, it doesn't feel real.

Edward walks around the house, and he is my brother the same as he's always been. Had he not acted the way he’s doing now, I could have believed my sick brain had conjured up everything that happened yesterday.

I know I should regret it. But I don’t.

I'm trying to find just a small ounce of regret, but there's nothing. Actually, I'd be happy to do it again. There are few things in the world that I want as much as I want to feel his arms around me, and his hips thrusting forcefully into me again.

I guess that's what's wrong with me. That I want to do it again. That I'm not regretting it. And isn't that strange, really? Because there's nothing I could have done to stop it. I couldn't, I'm telling you!

Yesterday. His hands. I was so horny, and I thought I was going to die. I get all warm inside just thinking about it. I didn't think it was possible that you could want sex that much! My body screamed for him.

Edward, Edward, Edward.

My diaries are all about him. Soon, I won't be able to write anything but his name for the rest of my life.

I feel ridiculous when my heart makes a leap when he just looks me. And when he's not around, I sit and dream of his eyes and his smile like a twelve-year-old with a crush.

I know. I'm crazy.

We grew up together for fuck's sake!

Although, I've always liked him more than I should.

What am I supposed to do? Pretend as if nothing happened? Or should I try to talk to him?

It doesn't feel right to push. Edward doesn't like pushy people. I'll have to try to get myself together and give him more time.

I did something really pathetic today.

A painter's firm called him and while he talked on the phone, he had his hand on the door frame. When he left, I placed my hand on the white wood where his hand had been and it was still warm. Yeah, I know. Pathetic. But I did it anyway.

Do you know that he has green eyes that glimmer when he smiles and gets almost black when he's angry? He's so sexy when he's angry.

My god! I need professional help!

I made plans with a friend the next day. For some reason, it made Edward really angry, and he locked himself in his room. I didn't understand why, but he didn't come out for dinner either.

I took a shower and went to my room to get ready only to find Edward sitting in my armchair. I was only wearing a towel.

His eyes were red-rimmed, and his hair was standing on edge. A surge went through me, and I wanted to call my friend and cancel our plans.

"I'm sorry," he said.

"Why were you angry with me?" I asked softly before turning around to untangle my wet hair.

"You're going out with Michael, aren't you?" he asked and placed himself behind me.

"No, I'm going out with a girlfriend from school," I told him, but he didn't believe me.

"Can I at least get a hug before you go back to him?"

"Of course," I said, knowing there was no use in arguing with him. I breathed in his scent and warmth as he wrapped his arms around me. It couldn't be healthy to feel so strongly for someone.

"You're wet," he said.

"That's what happens when you take a shower," I replied.

"You haven't dried yourself properly." He released the knot of my towel and used a corner to wipe my neck and shoulders. Then he stopped and looked at me. His eyes darkened. "When did this happen?"

"Two hundred years ago," I breathed out.

Edward allowed my towel to fall to the floor, and he placed his hand on my breast. My insides clenched and my nipple instantly stiffened against his palm. He sighed.

"When do you have to leave?"

"In fifteen or twenty minutes..."

"We have time."

"You're crazy," I told him, but my hands were already roaming all over him. "What if Mom or Dad..."

"I don't give a fuck. I want you. Now ."

I surrendered. What are you supposed to do when your emotions are as great as a typhoon and your brain is only as small as a pea? Do you know what happens when a typhoon hits a pea? Of course I surrendered.

On Friday, Edward and I stayed at home and made his suggestion of stealing a bottle of wine from Mom and Dad a reality and we ordered a pizza.

We were cleaning up in the kitchen when I couldn't keep my hands to myself, and I started kissing and touching him wherever I could reach until he abandoned the dishes with a groan. We moved to his room and made love several times.

"Let's move to Mexico or somewhere else," Edward said as he traced my naked skin with his fingertips. "Somewhere where no one knows us. We could be together for the rest of our lives."

Nothing felt impossible that Friday night, but it came crashing down faster than either of us could have predicted.

Apparently, Mom wasn't needed at the hospital that night, and she came home when neither of us expected it, and we had not thought to lock his door. We didn't hear her come through the front door either because we were so wrapped up in each other.

We were kissing and Edward was touching me between my legs when Mom suddenly knocked on his door, and like she always did after two knocks, she cracked the door open. Neither of us had time to react.

Mom screamed.

I screamed.

Edward and I tried to scramble away from each other, but it was impossible to mistake what we were doing for anything else.

"My kids," Mom whispered out. "What are you doing?!"

An unbearable silence commenced as Edward and I sat and covered ourselves as much as we could with his sheets.

Mom was hyperventilating, and then she turned on her heels and stormed down the hall, her phone in her hand. As Edward and I got dressed, we heard her raised, panicked voice talking to Dad.

"Anthony, come home now ! I just found our children, and I can't talk to them on my own! I just can't! No, I don't care if you're busy! This is more important! Just come home !"

We found her in the kitchen, sitting at the table, crying. She looked up when we approached, and her eyes were puffy and red-rimmed. I had never seen her so distraught before, and I could feel my heart hammering in my chest so violently it became difficult to breathe.

"How can you do this to me?! To our family?!" she cried. "What did we do wrong? Can you explain to me what went wrong? My kids … do you know what you're doing?!" She tore at her hair, and neither of us knew what to do or say. It didn't matter that Edward was technically not her son. She had raised him since he was two years old. "How long has this been going on? Huh? How long have I been walking around in ignorance? How could you do this?! My children! I trusted you! I trusted you, don't you get that?! I've always trusted you!"

I started crying, and Edward placed his arm around my shoulders. It caused Mom to jump out of her chair.

"Don't touch her!!!" she yelled, and I felt how Edward tensed up as if he expected her to hit him.

Then he became angry as well. "What the hell do you think?" he roared. "That we're going to fuck right here on the floor in front of you?!"

" Shut up !!!"

But Edward didn't shut up. He was already angry in the way only he could be. He and Mom yelled at each other, said things to each other I wish I didn't remember, up until the second Dad walked through the door.

Mom took the chance and jumped him. "Do you know what your son has been doing with my daughter ?!" she exclaimed, and I flinched. I'd never heard her refer to Edward as anything other than her son, or me as anything other than Dad's daughter.

More screaming ensued until we reached Mom's breaking point and she started to shove Edward out of the house. "Get out! Get the fuck out of my house! And stay away from my daughter !!"

"No!!" I cried out and pushed my way in between them. I couldn't stand seeing her treat Edward like that and throw him out on the street. "You throw him out; you throw me out, too!" I told her, and she crumbled into a crying mess right there in the hallway.

Dad had to help her up and lead her toward their bedroom, but before he closed the door, he looked at us over his shoulder. "I think the both of you should pack a bag and leave. Stay away for a few days. And for heaven's sake, don't leave together!"

That was exactly what we did though. Edward and I packed our bags and since we didn't have a car, we took the bus into town and checked into a motel. Edward was eighteen, and I was only a couple of months from my own eighteenth birthday, so no questions were asked.

We both knew that judging from Mom's reaction and Dad's passiveness, there was no way they could ever accept a relationship between us. Edward and I had come to the conclusion that we couldn't live without each other, though, and that didn't leave us with many options.

It wasn't an easy decision, but it was a decision we had to make.

I wrote a letter to Mom and Dad and explained everything, and I apologized over and over, but also told them why it was impossible for either of us to regret anything.

Those few days that Dad asked us to stay away from the house became indefinite. We tried to reconcile contact with them again over the years, but the wounds refused to heal.

Edward and I never saw our parents again. We moved to a different state, and as soon as I turned eighteen, we got married to keep folks from questioning why we had the same last name.

We started our lives anew in a place where no one knew us, just as Edward had suggested, although it wasn't Mexico. We fabricated a story of how we met and fell in love since we wanted to avoid people's judging glares.

When our children grew older and wanted to know our story, we kept with the lie. Until that day when I went up to the attic and found those diaries where our beginning was written down. I knew it was time. Edward did, too.

I am Isabella, and Edward is my step-brother who later became my husband.