Chapter 1

"The look" (edited/extended version 2023)

Bella's POV

"Is this seat taken?", I asked and pointed towards the chair next to him. He jerked his head, looking as he had been in deep thought and then just stared at me for a brief moment.

"Eh... Of course! You can sit here", he blurted out and pulled out the chair.

I hadn't really seen his face before since he'd been staring at the book he had in front of him, but man, he was beautiful. His hair was a coppery kind of brown and he had these big, golden brown eyes that were nothing short of amazing. I could feel my cheeks getting warm as he stared nervously smiling at me. He gestured towards the chair next to him, willing me to have a seat.

"Okay, great", I said, snapping out of my awkwardness, and sitting down next to him and slipping my bag onto the back of the chair.

I looked around and noticed that the whole class was observing us curiously and I felt my face getting warm. Could the people in this school please stop observing me as if I were an exotic bird in a zoo? But as being saved by the bell literally, the teacher entered the classroom and stole the attention of the class by announcing that there would be a group project coming up which would make for a good part of this semester's grade. While the other kids in the classroom were moaning and complaining over the assignment the teacher walked around handing out the assignment.

I carefully tried to glance at the boy next to me, trying to read his facial expression. Was he trying to catch the eye of a friend sitting at another table, or was he perhaps a loner like me? I couldn't read his face but I did however notice that he didn't seem to be getting up to look for a partner. Maybe I wouldn't be left with the awkward task of the teacher having to put me in a group?

"I'd like you to pair up, and please try to think outside the box and work with someone you don't usually work with", the teacher said and handed me the paper with the assignment. Edward was still just sitting next to me, not moving a muscle. I was starting to get really uncomfortable with the silence between us so I decided that I had to be the bigger person here and make an effort. I turned to him and stretched out my hand.

"So... I'm Bella Swan. I'm new in town, if that wasn't already obvious" Yet again he flinched and looked at me a bit startled and then he took my hand. His hand was cold and smooth and I figured he must have just come inside from the cold. The coldness of his hand made me shudder slightly.

"Um, yeah, I know. You're Sheriff Swan's daughter, Isabella. My dad and your dad go fishing together from time to time." He kept holding my hand, looking uneasy. Then suddenly he let go of my hand and looked as if he did not know what to do next.

"Oh okay, so your dad knows Charlie. Cool. And by the way, I prefer to be called Bella instead of Isabella. Nobody calls me Isabella. Not even my parents. Not really sure why they even named me Bella since no one has ever called me that", I prattled on. Oh my god, do you ever shut up, Bella Swan? Still he was looking at me, in a perplexed way and I started to wonder if I had something on my face. He just kept looking at me with his big golden eyes and I myself was at a loss for words.

"Okay then, Bella it is", he said and suddenly smiled at me, "Do you need a lab partner, Bella?"

All of a sudden his awkwardness disappeared and he had remained in his regular confident posture, the way he'd been the first time I'd seen him in the cafeteria. He was ridiculously good-looking when he was smiling and I caught myself blushing once more.

"If you don't mind, yes, please!", I blurted out and smiled a bit abashed,"This try-to-find-a-new-partner-guideline Mr. Simons just gave us doesn't really provide me very much help seeing as I don't know anyone here. And I'm actually not that hopeless when it comes to biology, so I promise I won't be a burden." I realized how utterly pathetic and needy I sounded and blushed even more. Why don't you ever just shut up in time, Bella Swan? But he just laughed and shot me a killer smile. "I never doubted it for a second, you have a sharp look about you, Isabella Swan", he said and laughed an odd laughter, as if he knew something that I did not.

"Alright then", I answered awkwardly and smiled shyly at him. I then focused my attention on Mr. Simons who was standing by the black board running through the details of the group project.

"So what do you like to do when you're not investigating the mysteries of science, Bella Swan?" Edward had leaned over to me without me noticing and as he whispered into my ear I could feel the wind grazing it.

"What?" I whispered in response, my voice of course failing me and making me sound like a boy in puberty. I didn't dare to look at him, knowing that my face would break out in a bright red color.

Still, in some strange way I got the feeling that he was smiling at me and then I could feel him leaning in once more.

"What do you like to do for fun?" he whispered once more, barely audible.

"I read a lot", I answered nervously. That was such a lame answer, but it was true. I'd never been a big fan of some of the more popular teen pastimes, such as tv-series and gaming. I'd much rather spend my evenings losing myself in the worlds of the Brontë sisters and Thomas Hardy.

"Yeah? What do you read?" he whispered back.

How did Mr. Simons not hear us whispering?

"The Brontë sisters. And Thomas Hardy", I said, repeating my most recent thought of authors.

"So are you an Emily or a Charlotte?"

"What do you mean?" I whispered back, perplexed by his question.

"I mean, are you a person who believes in the happy "Reader, I married him"-ending or do you prefer a feast of vengeance and a miserable ending?" he asked, his voice canny for some reason that I wasn't able to grasp.

So this guy apparently also liked to read.

"I'm team Reader, I married him. What about you?"

"Oh, I'm all for the mad wives in the attic. All the way."

I dared to glance at him, only briefly turning my head in his direction. He has a mischievous grin on his face that I couldn't quite read and I wasn't sure if he was merely interested in getting to know me or if he was making light of me being a bookworm.

"My mom is a big fan of the classics and she has made me read A LOT of what's popular within the genre", he suddenly said, offering me an explanation for his knowledge about some of my favorite books.

"Oh, I see. Your mom has good taste", I answered nervously and gave him a hesitant smile.

He responded to my smile with an ever big one and proceeded to twirl the pen he had in his hand.

"So, Bella Swan. Are you any good at baseball?"