What would have happened if Edward's resolve had held strong after Mike invited Bella to the dance? Alice steps in to save the day!

Chapter 1: He's a Moody Little Glowworm


(Bella)

Oh the joys of group assignments. I held my breath as I waited for Mr. Mason to call my name and deliver my sentence. Who would I be chained to for the next two days? Really, as long as it wasn't Jess, I would be okay with anyone. Not that I have anything against Jessica personally, of course, but I have a feeling that I would be the one doing most of the work in that pairing.

"Pearson and Stanley, Mahoney and Vicks, Cullen and Swan-"

My heart stopped. Alice Cullen was my partner? I turned around to sneak a glance at her, but to my surprise, Alice was already beaming at me. I smiled back and gave her a hesitant little wave.

Ever since my trip to First Beach, I had felt an inexplicable sense of peace around Edward. Knowing that he was something other, something not quite human, had somehow justified my strange obsession with him, even in the light of his outright rejection of me. Our fifty-six minutes next to each other in Biology each day were still as silent as ever, but I knew his secret, and I would guard it like it was my own. It warmed me to him. In my mind, we were friends, even if he didn't know it.

Still, I had never so much as made eye contact with Alice or any other member of the Cullen family, and now I would be one-on-one with Alice for the duration of the project. My heart sped up at the thought of being face to face with yet another vampire. The word still felt wrong.

People were standing up all over the room to find their assigned partner. Alice practically skipped over to me, the bottoms of her skirts flouncing like waves with every step. Her eyes were the same soft honey color I had begun to associate with Edward's better moods. Well-fed, I'd decided, which was good news for me.

"Bella!" she grinned. "Hello. I'm Alice." She boldly stuck out her hand.

I knew what to expect- ice cold flesh and skin like marble- so I didn't flinch when my hand wrapped around hers. "Nice to meet you, Alice," I smiled back.

Alice's face lit up with a curious expression, somehow elated and secretive. "I've wanted to meet you for a long time. Edward speaks very highly of you."

All I could do was chuckle awkwardly. "Really? That surprises me."

"He's a moody little glowworm, isn't he?" Her laugh sounded like music, like the way a fairy would laugh. "Don't let him scare you. You're his favorite person in the world, he just doesn't know what to do with that yet."

I was stunned. His favorite person? He was varying shades of indifferent towards me, depending on the day, and even outright hostile on occasion. Surely Alice was mistaken. I couldn't be his favorite person.

"Don't tell him I said that, of course," Alice whispered, leaning in close. She smelled incredible, like sunshine and flowers and fresh dew, the way I imagine the Garden of Eden must have smelled. "I love him madly, but my brother can be as obstinate as a sewer raccoon when it comes to his own happiness."

"I won't say a word," I promised, sitting back down at my desk and motioning for Alice to join me in the one next to me.

Interestingly, she seemed to be breathing normally, which was good because she had a lot to say. She described her many ideas for the project with great enthusiasm. Sometimes she would lean forward and touch my arm when she laughed, either unaware of her frigid skin or indifferent to my reaction to it. She seemed entirely comfortable around me. It was such a change from Edward's stiff back and tight fists, it was hard to believe that they were from the same family, "adopted" or not. I had been starting to think that the brooding was just a vampire thing.

Class ended too quickly. Honestly, I was surprised at how easily we worked together. In the twenty minutes Mr. Mason had given us to work on our assignment, we had managed to come up with a clever plot for our own story in the style of Canterbury Tales, and we outlined it entirely before the bell sounded.

"Bella, we should get together after school, don't you think?"

She was right. We only had one more class period to work, and judging by the complexity of our outline, it would surely take longer than an hour to finish up. I was free, of course. Bella Swan's social life was pretty bland.

"Sure," I agreed. "Do you want to come over to my house?"

She looked uncomfortable. "I'm actually not allowed without giving my parents advance notice. Silly, isn't it? They're just a little overprotective. You could come to my house, though, if it's alright with your dad."

My heart screeched to a stop, leaving skid marks all over my rib cage. She wanted me to go to the Cullen house? To the vampires' lair? Coffins and cobwebs filled my mind, but my curiosity won out.

Besides, Edward would surely be there, too. If there was one thing of which I was absolutely certain, it was that Edward would not let any harm come to me. Illogical though it would seem to anyone looking in, I trusted him completely.

"I'm sure Charlie would be alright with that." It wasn't an outright lie. He would probably kick up a fuss about me hanging out with vampires, but he seemed to like Dr. Cullen.

"Great! I could ride with you after school, then, to make sure you don't get lost? It's a tad bit 'off the beaten path', as they say."

Alone in a car with Alice? Not the best idea. But like the ditzy girl at the beginning of every horror movie ever, I blithely agreed to a plan that would very likely end in my own death.

"Oh, and Bella," Alice said, grabbing my hand on the way out of the classroom. "I'm not going to bring it up to Edward until after school, so don't worry about Biology."

That made me uncomfortable. "I don't want him to be upset-" My mind ran through the other places we could meet. There was that cute little coffee shop across from the gas station, or the meeting room at the station, or-

"He'll be fine," Alice assured. "I just don't want to have to justify myself to him. I mean, I'm allowed to be your friend if I want, right?"

No matter what Alice said, he was obviously still mad about the van incident. "Alice-"

"Relax, Bella. He'll be happy you're there, I promise, but if he knew beforehand, he would feel like it was his responsibility to protect you from us scary Cullens." She grinned and rolled her eyes. "I swear, sometimes it's like he's an old man trapped inside a seventeen-year-old's body."

I certainly didn't have an answer for that. Was she teasing me?

Alice winked, smiling like the Mona Lisa. "See you later, Bella."


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