Edward was cheating.
Of course, not everyone might consider completely avoiding Bella whenever possible to be 'cheating', but I did.
He had to be in Biology with her, of course, but he still kept as much distance between himself and his 'lab partner' without being overly rude. He still wasn't making an effort to be civil towards her, though.
Unfortunately for him (and quite fortunate for me), my vision hadn't changed.
Clearly it fell to me to keep Bella from forming the wrong impression about my family. I mean, I couldn't very well let her think that my siblings were all rude, condescending bores, could I? If we gave her the proverbial cold shoulder then other, less deserving individuals might snatch her out from under us.
By that I mean people like Jessica.
I never really paid much attention to her. She was petty and untrustworthy. The girl was friendly towards Bella because it was beneficial to her own social standing to be so. The moment that was no longer the case she would likely turn against her. Not at all the type of person that Bella should waste her time with.
And the fact that she was always eager to gossip about my family didn't do anything to endear her to me either.
Still, they sat at the same table during lunch, along with Angela, who was a far better person and a potential Bella-friend I could approve of, and a couple of boys who mistakenly believed they had a chance at winning the new girl's heart.
As if I'd ever let that happen.
"Hey!" I sat my lunch prop down next to Bella and sat down. "You look great. I told you that top was perfect for you." I'd been right, of course. No one ever dressed by me was less than outstanding.
More than a few pairs of eyes stared at my break from tradition, and not just those belonging to my siblings. I heard Rosalie's muted whisper, inaudible to human ears; drift over as she asked what I thought I was doing. I ignored her and greeted the other faces at the table before grilling Bella on how she was settling in.
She seemed to be adjusting fairly well, though anyone paying attention could see that she wasn't entirely thrilled with being in Forks. It was far colder here than what she was used to and far wetter. She thanked me for taking her shopping the previous week which gave me the perfect opening to wheedle another excursion with her for an undetermined future date. Maybe we'd take Rosie with us this time.
On second thought…maybe not.
We'd take Jasper and Edward. They could act as pack mules for us while I towed Bella around. Whether they wanted to or not.
"I heard you got put with Edward for Biology." She grimaced. Not a good sign. "Something wrong?"
Color flooded her cheeks. "I don't think your brother likes me very much."
That's because he's an idiot. I waved her concern off with a hand. "I wouldn't read too much into it. Edward's a musician. He likes to play the part of the tortured, angst-ridden artist."
Sniggers drifted towards me from the table where the others sat. Even Rosalie enjoyed my barb. Edward turned in his seat to glare at me, ignoring the fact that he wasn't supposed to be able to hear me from over there.
I ignored him instead.
My first attack, for that was exactly what lunch had been – an attack, worked rather well. Only the most stalwart (and social climbing) would feel comfortable getting close to Bella now that it was clear she had some connection to the Cullens. It didn't matter that nature of that connection was ill-defined. The natural instincts of most people were to avoid us, not get close to us, so now people would be inclined to avoid Bella in order to continue avoiding us.
Brilliant! Even if I must say so myself.
The next day I got to the cafeteria first and selected a table off to the side. It was in clear view of where my siblings would be seated and still away from where Bella's usual crowd would be. The moment she arrived I called out to her and waved her over. She grabbed her modest lunch and joined me, giving a confused look towards the other table.
"Uhm…. Feeling anti-social today?"
"A bit," I grinned across the table at her. "I don't think your friends like me very much."
The concept seemed foreign to her. "I… well… I sort of got the impression that you don't talk to people outside of your family very often." She gave a shrug. "I like you. You're easy to like."
She was so sweet! "Thank you. I like you, too." She blushed again. "I was wondering if I could come by your house again tonight."
She looked up from peeling an orange. "Trig again?"
"Well, that and I wanted to try some things with your hair." It was like having a life-sized doll to play with. Even if Edward did somehow manage not to fall in love with Bella, I was definitely keeping her.
Not that he was going to succeed, of course. My visions were still solid.
She, however, didn't look too convinced about playing dress up. "I… sure. What time will you be over?"
"About seven, I think. I don't want to crash dinner." She cooked the meals in the home, which was probably a good thing. It meant Chief Swan would have something besides whatever he grabbed at the drive-thru or heated up in the microwave. I still wasn't fully convinced that those contraptions were healthy. "Unless Rosie wants to come, then we may be over a bit earlier so she can look at your truck."
I saw Rosalie straighten up and look my way. She probably didn't appreciate me volunteering her time. Bella frowned. "Why would she want to look at my truck?"
"She was complaining about how loud it is." We all were. "She could see if there's something she can do about it."
Bella frowned. "Rosalie?" I nodded. She looked over her shoulder at Rosalie who met her eyes for only a moment before looking away, allowing Bella to turn back to me. "Rosalie." She repeated, she sounded skeptical.
"Don't let the beauty queen demeanor fool you. She's an artist when it comes to mechanics." She didn't look as though she believed me. She probably didn't. "She really is."
Edward's voice drifted to me, barely more than a whisper. "Alice, don't drag Rosalie into this."
I fought back a smirk. My darling brother apparently didn't realize that if he was going to cheat by avoiding Bella as much as possible, then I was more than happy to play as dirty as I liked. I knew he was waiting for me to think of an answer, listening to my thoughts to hear it, so I let him see some of the more recent flashes of might be that I had encountered.
Bella attempting to get her keys back from Edward as she tried to argue for the right to drive wherever it was they were planning to go.
Edward playing his piano in our home with Bella seated on the bench beside him. Esme was watching them both from off to the side, her smile joyful.
Bella's hair spread out over her pillow as….
Edward came close to knocking his tray off the table in shock. Emmett reached out quickly to catch it before it had a chance to land and make a scene.
Probably should have censored that last one.
Although I did wonder if Bella was actually that flexible.
"So," I resumed while looking across the table at my new friend, "seven?"
"Sure. Seven works."
And it did work. She was pretty bright so we finished up the trig assignment in short order, allowing me to spend a lot of time experimenting with her curtain of long, dark hair. Nothing too elaborate or difficult to manage on her own and it did give me plenty of time to get her to talk a bit about herself. I knew her favorite color changed daily but that her favorite gemstone was topaz. (I couldn't hide my grin when a quick flash of vision showed me the reason behind that particular bit of information). Her taste in music was almost as eclectic as Edward's and she missed Phoenix terribly though she was glad to be able to spend more time with her father.
Day three of my campaign again took place in the cafeteria.
I waited for Bella and called her over to the table I'd picked out. Then, just as he was half-way across the room, I called out to Edward.
He froze, looking over to me. I could tell that he really wanted to be rude and continue on to join the others, but he didn't want to put up with me later. Resigned to a good half-hour or more of torment he changed direction and walked over to join us.
"You know Bella, don't you?" He nodded, giving her no more than a quiet 'hello.'
Bella shifted in her seat, her cheeks flooding with color.
Edward made it a point not to look at her.
Mule-headed, the both of them.
I tried to drag them both into the same conversation, but Edward was being particularly difficult. Normally this would not have bothered me too greatly, he was usually only one step below Rosie when it came to being stubborn, but this time I had reason to worry as my visions of Bella as a primary part of his future were starting to waver.
I'd pushed too hard. I was losing her!
I scrambled quickly for something to do or say that might repair the damage, only dimly aware that I was still rambling on. I didn't even know if what I was saying made any sense (likely not) but I had to keep talking or one or both of them might think we were done and get up from the table.
Well, Bella might think we were done. Edward would be smarter than that, only I couldn't be certain he'd stay out of politeness.
There had to be something. Anything. I genuinely adored Bella and Edward had been alone for far too long.
And I didn't want to go to Vegas!
I heard the mutters of my siblings from across the room urging me to slow down or shut up all together. They feared I was drawing attention to myself, but I still hadn't found an answer. I continued on, trying to hide my dismay as the images of Bella and Edward together became dimmer and dimmer.
I stopped when a warm hand reached out and gripped my wrist. Bella's voice cut through the din. "Alice!" I stopped, looking at her wide eyes. "How much sugar did you have this morning?"
I blinked at her, wondering where that question might have come from.
She shook her head. "You're acting like a pixie on crack!"
Less than a second later all eyes in the cafeteria were on us, I could hardly blame them. I don't think any of the other students had ever heard Edward laugh like that.
Come to think of it, I couldn't remember a time I had heard him laugh like that.
And, like magic, the visions repaired themselves.
I let out a sigh of relief that was only audible to me and the other Cullens before taking up my tray. "I'm done." I rose from my seat, ignoring Bella's sudden look of concern as I walked away. I gave Jasper a nod, signaling him to follow as I decided to ditch the rest of the school day and spend some quality time with my husband. I heard Bella and Edward behind me.
"Alice, I didn't mean anything…"
"It's all right. She's not angry with you. I assure you." Edward's words were still warmed by a chuckle. "She just wants to give me time to apologize for being as rude as I have been this past week. May I have your permission to start over? I'm Edward Cullen. It's a pleasure to meet you."
After that, I only had to let nature and love take their natural course. It didn't take long, only about another week.
Victory is so sweet, and my taste of it came the morning that Rosalie ended up driving us to school because Edward had left early to pick up Bella. I walked with my siblings towards the garage with a well-earned smirk on my lips as the door opened up.
"By the way, Emmett, you owe me a jacket." He froze in place for a second, gaping at the shiny motorcycle in silence before letting out a stream of curses.
I ignored him and walked forward as I offered to give my husband a ride to school.