My mother drove me to the airport with the windows rolled down. It was eighty-five degrees in Phoenix, the sky a strange, cloudless blue, at least to me. In spite of spending the last two and a half months with my mother, I was used to the clouds. I was wearing my favorite shirt – a vintage long-sleeved sweatshirt with some odd logo on it from back in the seventies. It was a bit hot to be wearing, but I was ready to go home.

In the Olympic Peninsula of northwest Washington state, a small town named Forks exists under a near constant cover of clouds. It rains on this inconsequential town more than any other place in the United States of America. It was from this town with it's omnipresent shade that my mother had ran from when I was only a few months old. It was in this town that I'd spent almost the entirety of my life, excepting one month every summer until I was fourteen. That was when I finally put my foot down, the three summers after I turned fourteen, my mom, Renee, had flown up to Seattle for two weeks instead.

This year had been different though, this year mom had gotten remarried. She had insisted that I be her maid of honor and had then insisted I go with her on their – two month long – honeymoon. So, for the last two and a half months, I have been with her. I'd missed the first month and a half of school because of her insistence.

It was to Forks that I now was to return – an action I was more than ready for. I'd been away from home for far too long.

I couldn't say I would miss Phoenix. Between the sun, the blistering heat, and the overpopulation, I truly detested Phoenix.

"Bella," my mom said to me – the last of a thousand times – before I got on the plane. "You know you could stay, Phoenix has some great schools with excellent classes."

My mom looked like me, except with short hair and laugh lines. I felt a spasm of panic as I stared at her wide childlike eyes. After these last two and a half months, I'd realized how much she needed a caretaker, almost as much as dad. Could I really leave my erratic, harebrained mother to fend for herself again? Of course, she had Phil now, so the bills would probably get paid, there would be food in her refrigerator, gas in her car, and someone to call when she got lost, but still...

"Mom, I can't stay. Dad needs me, and besides, I prefer the weather there."

It was an idea that completely boggled my mother's mind. She'd worked so hard to escape the dreary weather of Washington, leaving behind her infant child in her desire to escape, but it was the truth. It was obvious because I was a worse liar than my mom and dad combined. "Tell Charlie I said hi."

"I will."

"I'll see you soon." She insisted, though we both knew it was a lie. It wouldn't be until summer, if she even bothered to come to Seattle next year. "You can come back to Phoenix whenever you want – I'll come whenever you need me."

She wouldn't though, she couldn't even come up to Forks for one lousy week back when I was twelve and desperately needed a mother. I still remembered talking to dad about my period because mom had forgot to pay her phone bill and didn't have service when I desperately needed her.

"Mom, I'll be fine. This isn't exactly new territory. You knew we'd have to part ways eventually." It wasn't like I could travel with Phil and her, as he was trying to get a new contract to play. I had to go to school.

She pinched her lips together as if she knew my line of thought. She probably did. I had always been an open book to her, in spite of how little time we spent together. "I'd stay here with you of course, if you want to stay."

"No, mom. Phil and you arenewlyweds. Go. Do newlywed things."

She sighed before hugging me tightly for a minute, and then I got on the plane and was gone.

It's a four hour flight from Phoenix to Seattle, another hour in a small plane up to Port Angeles, and then an hour drive back to Forks. I was looking forward to seeing Charlie again, though I knew the ride home was going to be awkward, filled with stilted questions and long pauses.

Charlie hadn't been thrilled about the idea of me missing the first month and a half of school. Of course, I hadn't been too excited about it either, but mom had pulled out the ultimate trump card with us, reminding dad that she'd never argued about custody rights. We all knew that was because she knew she wasn't fit to truly raise a child, too inconsistent and, for the most part, unable to hold a job. Though she had surprised us all and managed to keep her substitute teaching career for three solid years now.

Still, Charlie had felt guilty, so he'd agreed to let me go with mom and go down to Panama for the honeymoon with them. When I'd left, he had reminded me that I had a choice, I could stay with her, I was smart enough to make it in school in Phoenix too. I'd told him that wouldn't happen. He knew I never stayed with mom.

When I landed in Port Angeles, it was raining. It was a promising sight, I was almost home.

Charlie was waiting for me with the Cruiser. This I was expecting, too. Charlie was Police Chief Swan to the good people of Forks, and he'd never bothered to buy his own vehicle when he could just use the cruiser. I promised myself that, this year, I was getting myself a vehicle so I didn't have to be toted around in a car with red and blue lights on top anymore. He hadn't wanted me to have one last year, money was one reason, the other being that he said sixteen was too young to own a car. I was seventeen now though. He couldn't give that argument again.

Charlie gave me an awkward, one-armed hug when I stumbled off the plane. I returned the hug, mine was even more awkward than his, and we both looked away from each other, muttering our hellos to each other.

When we got to his cruiser, we put my luggage into the trunk. Then he started to ask the stilted questions that I knew were coming. They always came after I returned from visiting mom. He still was in love with mom after all.

"You didn't burn from all that sun, that's good. How's Renee?"

"Mom's fine. Have you been eating alright?" When I'd left, I had left two weeks worth of pre-made meals in the fridge and freezer with instruction on each on how long to heat them, but I had known those would have run out some time ago. There was only so much room in the refrigerator, and the freezer out back was reserved for fish, so I hadn't been able to stock more meals out there.

"Fine, I can fend for myself you know."

"Really, then what did you have for supper last night?"

He muttered something unintelligible under his breath which told me all I needed to know, steak and potatoes at the lodge, I was sure.

I still wanted to hear him say it though. "I didn't quite catch that."

"I ate at the lodge, I even had a salad." I rolled my eyes, like a salad would make up for all that bad cholesterol, but he continued. "I did make eggs for breakfast yesterday."

Eggs being the only thing edible my dad cooked, I rolled my eyes again. He was good at burning water though, so was mom for that matter. We lapsed into a lull of silence and we were past the west end of Lake Crescent before he spoke again.

"I found a good car for you, really cheap."

"What kind of car?" I was suspicious of the way he said "good car foryou" as opposed to just "good car."

"Well, it's a truck actually, a Chevy."

"Where did you find it?"

"Well... it's Billy Black's actually. The pick up he used to drive before he became handicapped." Billy Black was an old family friend along with his three kids Rebecca, Rachel and Jacob. Rebecca and Rachel had actually graduated at the end of my freshman year. Rachel had moved to Seattle where she was currently going to school at the university, while Rebecca had moved to Hawaii and met a Samoan fisherman named Solomon. Jacob on the other hand was a year younger than me and still lived with his dad in La Push, the tiny Indian reservation on the coast.

I screwed my mouth up in horror, remembering all the conversations with Jacob about the truck that I now knew my dad was talking about.

Charlie continued when I didn't reply. "As you know, since he's in a wheelchair, he doesn't have a usage for it anymore. Besides, Jacob has been working on that rabbit for years, and his dad offered to split the money so Jacob could get some of the harder to find parts."

I could translate what wasn't being said. Jacob was horrified at the idea of inheriting that vehicle and so he would do anything to get rid of it, including convincing his dad to pawn it off on his unsuspecting pale face friends.

"You want me to buy thedinosaur?" I used Jacob's nickname for the truck.

"It isn't a dinosaur," Charlie said gruffly.

"How old is it, again?" I couldn't remember what Jacob had told me.

"Well, Billy and Jacob have done a lot of work to the engine – it's only a few years old, really."

That didn't answer my question. "When did he buy it?"

"He bought it in 1984, I think."

I knew it was older than that. I didn't know a lot about vehicles, but even I knew the rounded cab was older than the eighties. "Did he buy it new?"

Charlie's face screwed up like he bit a sour lemon. I almost grinned, knowing that I asked the right question this time. "Well, no. I think it was new in the early sixties.." He paused, muttering much quieter. "Or late fifties at the earliest."

"Dad, I don't really know anything about cars. I wouldn't be able to fix it if something went wrong, and we couldn't really afford to take it to Dowling's..."

His face screwed up again at the mention of Dowling. I knew the local mechanic wasn't my dad's favorite person. In fact, if Dad wasn't muttering about something that people in the city were doing wrong then he was usually muttering about how overpriced Dowling was. "Really, Bella, the thing runs great. They don't build them like that anymore."

The thing, I thought to had possibilities – as a nickname, at the very least. It was better than the dinosaur.

"Besides, Jacob will help you do oil changes and such."

I snorted, it was so typically Jacob. "How cheap is cheap?" I had a limited amount of money saved up to buy it with. I couldn't go over and I wasn't going to have my dad dipping into his retirement fund for me.

"Well, I kind of already bought it for you. Think of it as a belated birthday gift. I couldn't exactly give it to you while you were down in Panama after all." Charlie peaked sideways at me with a hopeful expression.

I groaned. He'd already dipped into his retirement fund.

"You shouldn't have done that, dad. I was going to buy myself a car. You know I have a little bit of money saved up."

"You're going to need that money for gas," he muttered surreptitiously.

I groaned again.

"Besides, I wanted to get you something special for your birthday. It isn't a vacation in Panama, but you deserve it." He was looking straight ahead as he said that. Charlie wasn't comfortable expressing his emotions out loud. I inherited that from him. So I was looking straight ahead too as I responded.

"That's really nice, Dad. Thanks. I really appreciate it." No need to add that I'd have rather gotten the still broken down rabbit. It was the thought that counted after all. Besides, I wasn't going to look a free truck in the mouth–err, engine.

"Well, now, you're welcome," he mumbled, embarrassed by my thanks.

The rest of the drive passed in silence, though I caught my dad open his mouth to speak several times, likely to ask more questions about mom. He never did ask them. I could almost hear his internal monologue, wanting to know if she was happy, if she wanted to come home, etc. I'd heard them all, over the years. It was inappropriate now though, what with her being married and all.

We stared out the window in silence as he continued to drive. It was beautiful, so much lush green, from the trees, to the moss, to the ferns on the ground. It was where I'd grown up.

Eventually we made it home. We lived in a small, two-bedroom house that he'd owned since the early days of his marriage to my mom. Those were the only day their marriage had – the early ones. There, parked on the street in front of the house was my truck. It was faded red, with big, rounded fenders, and a bulbous cab. I'd seen it many times in La Push, and had always secretly loved the body, but still, I could practically see the gas gauge going down, and it wasn't even running.

The best thing about it was that it was one of those solid iron affairs that never gets damaged – the kind you see at the scene of an accident, paint unscathed, surrounded by the pieces of the foreign car it had destroyed.

"Thanks dad." Now I could start tomorrow by driving rather than walking, as I'd done the vast majority of my life. Occasionally I'd let my dad drive me to school over the years, usually after spraining an ankle, or breaking a wrist, or any of the other numerous injuries I'd gotten over my seventeen years of life. I had tried to walk as much as possible though, less embarrassing than being ridden around in a cop car.

"I'm glad you like it," Charlie said gruffly.

It took only one trip to get my luggage upstairs. I got the west bedroom that faced out over the front yard. I opened the door, half expecting to see the man cave that Charlie had threatened to turn it into when I left two and a half months ago, but it was the same as always of course. Over the years my room had gone through many paint jobs, from the white it had been when I was born, to the pea green I'd insisted that I loved when I was three, to lavender, peach, and then yellow, and now the light blue that I'd painted it just last year. If you looked in the corners and around the door frame and window frame, you could still see specks of the previous colors. My room had a hard wood floor and a peaked ceiling. On the window were old lace curtains, yellowed from age, originally hand done by my grandmother, Helen, who had died only a few years after I was born. In the corner was a rocking chair that had been in my room from the time I was born, even when Charlie had suggested we move it elsewhere to make room for a larger desk or a second dresser, I'd refused.

I had one, five drawer dresser, that was probably older than this house, and a desk that I legitimately suspected had been a vanity at one time. On the desk was the computer my dad bought me five years ago. I was going to need a new one soon, but I was loathe to bring it up, just another added expense we couldn't really afford.

My bed, which had changed almost as often as the paint, took up the vast majority of my room. I couldn't remember it, but I had seen the pictures, so I knew at one time there had been a crib in this room, my crib. When I was about four I had gotten a bunk bed, I'd had many sleepovers with it, mostly with Rebecca and Rachel, and even Jacob from time to time, back before it became inappropriate. Later I'd switched to a normal twin size, and then a full a couple years later. Finally when I'd started high school I'd gotten a queen size, it was what I still had now. The bed had a tasteful coverlet on it in a dark purple with flowers around the edge.

I dropped my luggage on the floor, intent to unpack it later, it wasn't like most of what my mom had bought me in Panama could be used up here anyways, lingerie and skimpy bikinis, I'd had no need for it even there, but mom hadn't listened.

Our house had only one small bathroom, located at the end of the hall, a fact that had much aggrieved me for far too many years. Still, we made it work.

After the end of last year, including the freshmen coming up from the middle school, Forks High School was supposed to have a total of three hundred fifty three students this year. I was sure the number had changed by now though, people moving in last minute or leaving, it happened every year that way.

I headed downstairs to fix food, I would check my emails before I went to bed. I was sure that at least Angela had emailed me while I'd been away, though I highly doubted Jessica had bothered. We both knew she only tolerated my presence while in school because I was the chief's daughter.

I looked in the freezer to see what I could find, knowing the fridge hadn't been stocked, I didn't even have to check. If I wasn't here, it didn't get stocked, probably for the best anyways. I could practically see the kitchen exploding if Charlie tried to actually cook something.

I pulled out a chunk of frozen hamburger and another of sausage. I knew there were noodles and sauce in the cabinet.

"Hey, dad, we're having spaghetti and meatballs tonight," I shouted over the sound of the tv. Dad was watching football, I scrunched my nose in disgust. "Sports," I muttered under my breath, the word an expletive.

Dinner was ready soon enough and I brought out the dishes to the living room so we could eat. It was pretty much the only way for us to share a meal during a game.

"Tastes great, Bells," dad said after eating a few bites.

"So, are you going fishing with Billy this weekend?"

"No," Charlie grunted. "We're not talking at the moment."

I arched an eyebrow. "Are you two old women fighting?"

Charlie glared at me. "His superstitions are insane."

"What happened?"

"We have a new family in Forks, they moved in a couple days after you left to visit you mom. Dr Cullen filled the position of Dr Brown. Dr Cullen is a brilliant surgeon who could probably work in any hospital in the world, make ten times the salary he gets here." Charlie was really worked up by then, and I sat back, knowing he'd continue until he was done. "We're lucky to have him – lucky that his wife wanted to live in a small town. He's an asset to the community. They have five kids, all adopted, three sophomores and two freshmen, all of them far better behaved than any of the locals kids that have grown up here their whole lives. I'm sure you'll meet them tomorrow at school.

"Well, Billy." he spat his best friend's name. "Came here a couple weeks ago with Jacob spouting a whole bunch of bullshit superstitions about how the Cullen family are dangerous and I need to force them to leave town. He claimed they were cold ones or some such shit. Like a vampire would be working in a hospital." Charlie snorted. "Jacob was horrified by his dad, of course."

Vampires, really? "Maybe Billy has been smoking a bit too much Peyote?" I suggested helpfully.


"I doubt I'll get to meet any of the kids though, dad. I'm older than them so we probably won't share any classes."

"Well, don't be a stranger to them, Bells."

I grimaced, he knew I didn't like forcing myself on people.

"Oh, speaking of kids, Tyler has called five times this week. You told me you broke up with him."

I grimaced again, I should've seen that coming. "I did."

I didn't actually get around to checking my emails that night, instead I fell asleep as soon as I went to bed.

Thick fog was all I could see out my window in the morning. I sighed. This would be an interesting day to start driving myself to school.

Breakfast with Charlie was the usual quiet affair. I was eating eggs with him, no milk to fix a bowl of fruit loops like I normally ate, I'd definitely have to shop before coming back from school tonight. He wished me good luck at school and I just eyed him, he knew me better than that.Ididn't have good luck, unless you counted being able to trip on flat surfaces as good luck...

Charlie left first, off to the police station that was more his life than his job. After he left, I sat at the old square oak table in one of the three unmatching chairs and looked around the small kitchen. It was one of the rooms that hadn't been changed much over the years. It was too much work to remove all the food so I could paint it, so it was still the same dark paneling that it had been when dad had bought the place. It was also too much work to replace the cabinets, so they were the same ugly yellow they'd always been. Maybe next time I got to Port Angeles, I'd check the hardware store out to see if I could pick up some paint that could be used around food.

I got up, glancing at the fireplace in the living room as I headed to the door. Atop the fireplace were all pictures of me, one at a science fair when I was seven, another of a piano recital when I was five, and several others including one of me on a horse when I was thirteen – I winced, remembering how that disaster had ended. At one time they had been pictures of my mom and dad at their wedding and on their honeymoon and such, but over the years, they'd all been replaced with pictures of me. I knew that me being in dad's life had replaced a lot of the pain for him when mom had walked out all those years prior.

I donned my jacket and headed out into the rain.

It was just drizzling as I used the key hidden under the eaves to the lock the door before I headed to my truck. I stopped and looked at my truck for a moment, I knew I shouldn't like it, not after all that Jacob had complained about it, but I did. The truck had found a special place in my heart already and I hadn't even drove it yet.

Inside the truck, it was nice and dry. Someone had spent sometime cleaning the inside, even though I could still smell Billy's tobacco and peppermint. The engine started without trouble, to my relief, not that I had any reason to doubt Jake's skills. Unfortunately, the truck was quite loud and my first reaction was to place my hands over my ears before I forced myself to grab the steering wheel. Music was coming over the speakers. The antique radio still worked, that was a plus I hadn't expected.

Sighing, I headed to school and drove around to the back, parking in the space right next to Angela's SUV, one of only a few vehicles in the lot so far.

I got out and walked back around to the front of school, heading to the front office to pick up my schedule for the year. I'd missed registration day thanks to the wedding, so I wondered what I'd been placed in for my two electives.

I opened the door and stepped in, Mrs. Cope looked up immediately. "Hello Bella, back from Panama?"

The only major problem of a small town, everyone knew everyone else's business. "Yeah, do you have my schedule?"

She ruffled around under the desk before pulling out some papers. "Here's your schedule. You'll also need to take this paper to every teacher and have them sign it as confirmation that you have all the back work you've missed by being gone for the first six weeks."

I grimaced, but took the papers she offered, looking at my schedule. Eight periods as always, eighth was gym, my grimace got more defined. There were five periods before lunch and three after, period four was art and six was film studies, my two electives. I wouldn't have selected either if I'd been here to get a vote.

"Thanks Mrs. Cope." I headed back out, going towards building 3 automatically, muscle memory taking me to the English building, my first class of the day.

I started to head inside but stopped and gawked as two girls I'd never seen before walked by, heading in the general direction of building 5. One was a short stick of a thing, maybe five foot tall, with spiky black hair and pitch black eyes. The other was a polar opposite, bordering on six feet tall with long golden blond hair, her eyes too, were black. They had to be some of the Cullen family, but they both looked older than the freshmen or sophomores they supposedly were.

Finally I shook myself out of my stupor and headed inside, going immediately to Mr. Mason's desk and handing him my paper. "Ms. Swan, glad you made it home in one piece." He signed the paper and promptly handed me a four inch thick stack of papers. "Your homework."

I went to the back of the room and took a seat, starting to work on my past due homework, even as Mr Mason droned on about today's studies.

The bell finally rang, signaling the end of class and I picked up my stuff to head out as Eric came over to me. "So what did you get stuck with for second period?"

I'd known Eric since kindergarten, when I'd been partnered with him for our valentines day project. We never had got our paper heart finished. Even back then he'd beentoo helpful."I'm in Government with Mr. Jefferson."

We both rolled our eyes at that and he groaned. "Good luck with that. I got lucky and got World History this semester with Mrs. Partridge. Of course, that means Government next semester, but that would be next semester's problem."

I snickered. "We'll talk more at lunch, I'm sure." I headed out and went towards building six.

Period three was trigonometry with Mr. Varner, four was art with Ms. Eckhart, and fifth was spanish with Mrs. Goff. By the end of fifth I'd been able to say hello to Mike, Angela, Jessica, and Ben, luckily I still hadn't spotted Tyler or Lauren – the bane of my existence. I also had a thirteen inch thick stack of past due homework.

I raced out to my truck to dump all my past due homework in the cab before I headed to the cafeteria. I grabbed a small lunch of a sandwich and an apple before heading to the usual table with the usual suspects. Eric, Angela, Jessica, Mike, Ben, Conner, Lauren and Tyler. I took the seat next to Tyler, not because I wanted to, but because it was the only one left open.

Tyler leaned over to me and kissed the top of my head, I shoved him back, his chair toppling over from the force. "No Tyler, I told you we were through before I headed off to visit Renee."

He got up and righted his chair, not even taking the hint. "Of course you did, baby. You couldn't expect me to be celibate for an entire two and a half months while you were away." He did a little hip pump thing before sitting back down.

Jessica facepalmed from where she was sitting. I silently agreed with her.

"Tyler, honey." The word honey was sarcastic. "If you're not celibate then we both know it was never with me." In fact, in two years of dating, we'd never even kissed.

"Ooh, burn," Eric said.

Tyler looked mortified and immediately got back up, excusing himself from the table and heading out of the cafeteria.

I took the momentary lull to look around, spotting the new family at a corner table almost immediately. All the tables surrounding them were empty, as if their very presence repelled people. They weren't talking, and they weren't eating, though they each had a tray of uneaten food in front of them. There were five of them total, just as Charlie said.

They didn't look anything alike. Of the two boys, one was big – muscled like a serious weight lifter, with dark, curly hair. Another was taller, leaner, but still muscular, and honey blond. The others were girls one was curvey, a little patite, with untidy, bronze-colored hair. She was more girlish than the others, who looked like they should be in college, or even teachers here rather than students.

The other girls were the same two that I'd noticed earlier, and now I got to analyze a little more. The tall one was statuesque. She had a beautiful figure, the kind you saw on the cover of theSports Illustratedswimsuit issue, the kind that made every girl around her take a hit on her self-esteem just by being in the same room. Her hair was golden, gently waving to the middle of her back. The short girl was pixie-like, thin in the extreme, with small features. Her hair was a deep black, cropped short and pointing in every direction.

And yet, they were all exactly alike. Every one of them was chalky pale, the palest of all the students living here. Paler than me, which was a new one. They all had very dark eyes despite the range in hair tones. They also had dark shadows under those eyes – purplish, bruiselike shadows. As if they were all suffering from a sleepless night, or almost done recovering from a broken nose. Though their noses, all their features, were straight, perfect, angular.

But all this was not why I couldn't look away.

I stared because their faces, so different, so similar, were all devastatingly, inhumanly beautiful. They were faces you never expected to see except perhaps on the airbrushed pages of a fashion magazine. Or painted by an old master as the face of an angel. It was hard to decide who was the most beautiful – maybe the perfect blond girl, or the bronze-haired one.

They were all looking away – away from each other, away from the other students, away from anything in particular as far as I could tell. As I watched, the small girl rose with her tray – unopened soda, unbitten apple – and walked away with a quick, graceful lope that belonged on a runway. I watched, amazed at her lithe dancer's steps, till she dumped her tray and glided through the back door, faster than I would have thought possible. My eyes darted back to the others, who sat unchanging.

"Who arethey?" I asked, directing my question at Jessica, knowing she'd take the bait, nodding my head toward the table in the corner.

I glanced that way again just as the bronze-haired one looked up suddenly at my neighbor, almost as if she'd heard her name. She immediately looked away again, but it was strange.

"That's Edythe and Emmett Cullen, and Rosalie and Jasper Hale. The one who left was Alice Cullen; they all live together with the new Dr. Cullen and his wife." Jessica explained under her breath.

I glanced sideways at the beautiful girl, who was looking at her tray now, picking a bagel to pieces with long, pale fingers. Her mouth was moving very quickly, her perfect full pink lips barely opening. The other three still looked away, and yet I felt she was speaking quietly to them. All of their names were old and outdated, it was strange.

"They are … very nice-looking." I struggled with the conspicuous understatement.

"Yes!" Jessica agreed with a giggle, becoming even more animated. "They're alltogetherthough – Emmett and Rosalie, and Jasper and Alice, I mean. And theylivetogether." Her voice held her typical shock and condemnation for anything that was the least bit different. Though, even I had to admit, it was a bit strange.

"Which ones have the last name of Cullen?" I asked.

"Well, Jasper and Rosalie Hale are the two blonds – they're twins. That's probably easier to explain."

"My dad told me a little bit about the family last night. Which ones are in which grade?"

"The one that left and Edythe are the freshmen, the other three are the sophomores."

Unfortunately, I still didn't know which one was Edythe. "And the one with the reddish brown hair, is she Edythe if the pixie is Alice and the blonde is Rosalie?" I peeked at her from the corner of my eye as I asked and she was staring at me with a slightly frustrated expression. I couldn't imagine why so I looked down again.

"Yes, that's her.All the guys are talking about all the tthings they'd like to do to her but i think she looks fucking ugly as hell ." I forced myself not to roll my eyes, she's probably jealous of her i mean compared to Jessica this girl looked like a super model.

"I thought you were the nice girl Jessica?"

"Yeah, well,lookat her. You can't tell me the men who are talking about tapping that aren't just excited because she's new i mean she damn sure isn't all that pretty.

This time I did roll my eyes. I looked back towards their table and her face was turned away but it looked like she was smiling.

After a few more minutes, the four of them left their table together. They all were noticeably graceful – even the big, brawny one. It was unsettling to watch. The one named Edythe didn't look at me again.

I sat with my friends for a few more minutes, even though I didn't want to be late to class. Angela asked what class I had next. When I told her it was the horrid film studies, she smiled, explaining it was what everyone got placed in that didn't make it to registration this year, including her.

She walked with me to class, heading to her seat as I went to the front desk to get my past due homework from Mr. Berty. He signed the slip and handed me another two inches of homework to add to the thirteen I had waiting in the truck. "You can sit next to Edythe, it's the only seat left."

I turned to look for her, I hadn't noticed her when I walked in, but this was a pleasant surprise. I'd get to know the beautiful bronze-haired girl. I spotted her about two seats from the back and started to head that way when Samantha Wells raced in from the outside, muttering a quick apology. The blast of air from the door caused my hair to blow everywhere.

In front of me, Edythe suddenly went rigid and looked up to glare at me. Her expression was murderous, filled with hostility and rage. I looked away quickly, shocked, my face going red.

From there I kept my eyes down and I went to sit beside her, not understanding the glare that I could still feel on me.

I didn't look up as I set my things on my desk and took my seat, but I saw her posture change from the corner of my eye. She was leaning away from me, sitting on the extreme edge of her chair and averting her face as if she smelled something bad. Inconspicuously, I sniffed my hair. It smelled like strawberries, the scent of my favorite shampoo. It seemed an innocent enough odor. I let my hair fall over my right shoulder, making a dark curtain between us, and tried to pay attention to the teacher.

Mr. Berty made a point of advising me, and the entire class, that they were halfway through the 1933 version of King Kong and I'd have to watch the full movie at home to understand it completely.

I couldn't stop myself from peaking at Edythe from under the screen protection of my hair. She was still in the same stiff position on the edge of her chair as she'd been before, sitting as far from me as possible. I could see her hand on her left leg was clenched into a fist, tendons standing out under her pale skin. She had the long sleeves of her white shirt pushed up to her elbows, and her forearm was surprisingly hard and muscular beneath her light skin. She wasn't nearly as slight as she'd looked next to her burly brother.

As the teacher turned the lights off and the movie on, there was a pressure between us, an almost imperceptible buzzing. I had the strangest desire to lean into her and I didn't understand it. it was weird and a little scary why was i attracted to another woman this was really wrong on many levels. I could see that she leaned even farther away from me out of the corner of my eye. Throughout the entire class, the pressure only got worse.

Finally, a couple of minutes before the end of class, Mr. Berty paused the movie and flipped the lights back on.

I peeked up at her one more time, and instantly regretted it. She was glaring down at me again, her black eyes full of revulsion. As I flinched away from her, shrinking against my chair, the phraseif looks could killsuddenly ran through my mind.

At that moment, the bell rang loudly, making me jump, and Edythe Cullen was out of her seat. Fluidly she rose – she was much taller than I'd thought – her back to me, and she was out the door before anyone else was out of their seat.

I sat frozen in my seat, staring blankly after her. She was so mean. It wasn't fair. I began gathering up my things slowly, trying to block the anger that filled me, for fear my eyes would tear up. For some reason, my temper was hardwired to my tear ducts. I usually cried when I was angry, a humiliating tendency.

Slowly I got up and headed to seventh period which was biology II with Mr. Banner. I got my next three inches of homework from him and took a seat in front of Mike Newton, ending up partnered with Ashley Dowling.

We did a lab about onion root, we'd done one on whitefish blastula last year in biology I and it was far too easy, at least for me. Ashley, on the other hand, struggled to identify the two remaining slides that I didn't do.

After the end of class I walked with Mike to gym, my last period of the day.

The good news was, with gym, there wasn't anymore homework to add to the stack of eighteen inches that I now had, but Coach Clapp gave me a vocal dressing down before sending to get dressed and run laps, while everyone else was doing volleyball.

I was exhausted by the end of class and wearily trudged back to the front office to give Mrs. Cope the sheet with all the signatures.

When I walked into the warm office, I almost turned around and walked back out.

Edythe Cullen stood at the desk in front of me. I recognized again that tousled bronze hair. She didn't appear to notice the sound of my entrance. I stood pressed against the back wall, waiting for the receptionist to be free.

She was arguing with her in a low, attractive voice. I quickly picked up the gist of the argument. She was trying to trade sixth hour film studies for any other elective, or even a study hall – we didn't do study hall here.

I just couldn't believe that this was about me. It had to be something else, something that happened before I entered the classroom. The look on her face must have been about another aggravation entirely. It was impossible that this stranger could take such a sudden, intense dislike to me.

The door opened again, and the cold wind suddenly gusted through the room, rustling the papers on the desk, swirling my hair around my face. June came in and merely stepped up to the desk, placed a note in the wire basket, and walked out again. But Edythe Cullen's back stiffened, and she turned slowly to glare at me – her face was absurdly beautiful – with piercing, hate-filled eyes. For an instant, I felt a thrill of genuine fear, raising the hair on my arms. The look only lasted a second, but it chilled me more than the freezing wind. She turned back to the receptionist.

"Never mind, then," she said hastily in a voice like velvet. "I can see that it's impossible. Thank you so much for your help."

She turned on her heel without another look at me, and disappeared out the door.

I went meekly to the desk, my face white for once instead of red, and handed her the signed slip.

"How did your first day back go, dear?" the receptionist asked maternally.

"Fine," I lied, my voice weak. She didn't look convinced.

When I got to the truck, it was almost the last car in the lot, I dumped the rest of my papers with my original pile and climbed in. It seemed like a haven from the girl I didn't even know. I sat inside for a while, just staring out the windshield blankly. But soon I was cold enough to need the heater, so I turned the key and the engine roared to life. I headed back to Charlie's house, fighting tears the whole way there.