I wrung my hands nervously, looking at my reflection in our bathroom's giant mirror, steamed up from my recent shower. I took several deep breaths, simply staring at my reflection as if it would give me the confidence to leave the room.
First day of school.
I really had no right to be nervous, but the only place I had been since Forks is Chicago, and I had felt like I fit in in Chicago. It hardly ever rained, whereas I bet rain could have been a main export in Forks; constant drizzle accompanied me.
I was thankful that my siblings had all enrolled in the same high school, though there wasn't really much choice. None of us were actually related by blood, except for the twins, but we were as strong as any family you could name.
I was broken out of my reverie by a loud thumping on the door. "Edward! Get your ass out of that bathroom or I'm coming in!"
I grinned and dressed hurriedly. "Just a sec, Alice!"
"You said that twenty minutes ago!" she whined. "I swear Edward you take so long in there I sometimes think you're a girl!"
I opened the door as she shouted the last word, pulling her into a headlock and mussing her hair. "Whatever, sister. The bathroom's yours."
Alice grinned and twisted lithely out of my grip with a flick of her short black hair, skipping into the room and shutting the door. I shook my head and went to my room to finish getting ready.
Everything was too green here, I decided as I climbed into my Volvo. Forks felt like some weird alien planet that I had crashed into. I can't imagine why Carlisle would want to take a job here, but it's not like we needed the money, and Esme – my adoptive mother – had always expressed a wish to go. Alice wanted to as well, so that automatically brought Jasper to her side. Emmett and Rosalie, as usual, didn't really care. I was outnumbered.
Alice, Jasper, Emmett and Rosalie climbed into the car and, as I thought, Alice called shotgun. I smiled to myself as I brought the car to life, pulling smoothly down our long driveway before turning towards the school.
I heard my siblings laughing behind me, but I wasn't paying attention. My thoughts kept wandering to the possible horrors school could bring. I had to admit, I was nervous. I clenched and released my fists on the steering wheel out of habit – it calmed me.
When I had pulled into one of the available parking spaces, I was rewarded by a smack across the back of my head.
"Ow! Emmett! What did you do that for?" I turned to my bear-like brother, rubbing the back of my head in annoyance.
"Relax, bro. I was simply trying to get you to notice all the hot chicks here!"
Rosalie gave him a huge smack around the back of the head.
"Ow! Rose!" Emmett whined. "I was just saying maybe Eddie will finally find himself a girlfriend! The pickings aren't bad here."
I glared at Emmett until I felt that he was sufficiently uncomfortable, and then spoke in a low growl. "I assure you, brother; that I will find a girlfriend when and if the right one passes my way. And call me Eddie again and I'll-."
"Okay guys, break it up." Jasper's calming influence spread throughout the car, and I got out, slamming the door behind me. Alice skipped to my side.
"Come on, Edward. Chill. It's Emmett." She said the last sentence as if it was an excuse for everything Emmett could possibly do. It kind of was, actually.
"I know." I sighed, running my fingers through my bronze-ish hair, looking down at my tiny sister's sparkling gold eyes, and smiled a little. "I guess I'm just a little nervous."
"Don't be." She smiled and pecked me on the cheek. "Now knock 'em dead." She giggled before skipping back over to Jasper.
Well, the first three lessons weren't so bad. I had my first with Emmett, and the teacher had been nice, if a little boring. Second was much more able to hold my attention, and I shared it with Jasper and Rosalie. Third – last before lunch, hussah – was the worst because the minutes trailed by agonizingly slowly. By the end of it I had doodled quite a significant pattern on my notebook.
I almost ran to lunch, and found my family waiting for me by the entrance. "What kept ya, Eddie?"
I growled at Emmett. "Class was let out late."
"Right, let's get some grub! I'm starving!" We all whole-heartedly agreed and joined the line, waiting for our food.
I was still waiting, my eyes scanning around the room vaguely, when I noticed her.
She sat on her own, her tray filled with untouched food. People around her sometimes threw furtive glances in her direction, as if she was a predator that would attack at any given moment. Her long brown hair fell in light curls past her shoulders, and she was incredibly beautiful.
Emmett caught me staring – much to my abject horror and humiliation – and nudged me hard in the side. "Already got your eyes on one, eh Eddie?"
"For the love of all that is holy, Emmett, stop calling me that! And no, I do not, I was simply looking."
He snorted. "Yeah, right, and I'm a pink flamingo."
I sighed and turned back to looking at the room. Everyone was talking, and it filled the room with a haze of voices, almost impossible to pick one out from another. No one was staring at me or my family, and for that I was extremely grateful.
My eyes, of their own accord, flickered back to her.
I found her staring back at me, her head tilted slightly to one side as if she was studying me like a painting or artifact. A slight smile graced her lips, and her eyes –
They were beautiful; the colour of molten gold. They burned into my head as she stared unblinkingly at me, and try as I may to turn away, her gaze held me. Alice saw my absorption and followed my gaze. She tilted her head to the side in a mirror of the girl's stance, studying her with the same intensity that I was being studied.
I breathed a sigh of relief as she shifted her gaze to Alice, still standing next to me. The girl tensed as her golden eyes met the ocher hue of Alice's, and she turned away, looking towards the far wall.
I looked over at Alice questioningly. She looked troubled, her golden eyes meeting mine. Her face went curiously blank for a second, and then she flashed a smile and sat down with her food next to Jasper. I took my place across from her, Emmett on my right and the single empty chair on my left, facing away from that strange girl with the burning golden eyes.
Damn it. Another Vampire. Another God-forsaken Vampire.
I looked down at my plate, not eating, though that wasn't odd for me; I never ate anything. Jasper once teased me about it, saying I was going to waste away to nothingness and that was why I was so small.
But he knows about me now. I am the only vampire in the Cullen/Hale family. Jasper only knows because I fell in love with him, and he with me, and it's not a very easy secret to keep when someone's that…close.
But oh my God! Another vampire in Forks! Why didn't I see this coming? My power had never failed me before, so why now, when it might prove to be the most useful?
At least she was a vegetarian; I could tell by the colour of her eyes. Gold, like mine.
I leaned into Jasper's side, his arm around my shoulders protectively, occasionally placing kisses on the top of my head. I watched my brother, who seemed just as troubled as I was. He was playing idly with his food, pushing the fries around his plate.
Uggh. Human food. How do they stand it? It smells foul most of the time, and their choices…gross. Who would want to eat colored flavored sugar? It rots your teeth and does terrible things to your body. It was baffling to me.
I wanted to talk to this other vampire. She didn't seem hostile – simply a passive observer. Her eyes were light, so she had recently fed and had no reason to snap at me or my family. Talking to her should be safe.
And she had known what I was too, instantly. Her reaction told me everything. She was probably wondering right now how I could stand to stay so close to humans.
I took a deep breath, and Jasper's scent filled my lungs. I don't care what other vampires say; some humans are worth the struggle.
The bell for the next period rang all too soon, but I had next period with Jasper; English. Joy. I had read all of the books they could possibly throw at me; repeating school was tedious. Rosalie and Emmett had French and Edward had to go to Biology next. Poor soul.
I stiffened as I had another flash:-
I was Edward, sitting very uncomfortably as far away from my lab partner as I possibly could. I tried so hard to focus on the lecture our teacher was giving us, but all I felt was the stare of two giant penetrating eyes on my face. I turned to look at her.
-all the air left me as I slumped back into Jasper's arms. Visions normally weren't so tiring. Poor Edward, he would have her as his lab partner.
We all stood up in unison, looking around as we dumped out food, all in various stages of being eaten. I saw the other vampire stand gracefully; dumping her food in the far garbage can before walking past us to her next class: Biology. She flashed a smile as she passed, her eyes meeting mine, and we all stared at the exit as she passed through the doorway.
Then Emmett muttered; "Damn."
Another vampire, living with a house full of humans.
I settled down at my usual seat in Biology, putting all of my books into one neat pile and laying my chin on my folded arms. I watched the classroom and its occupants for a while. They were all so skittish around me, like chickens that know when a coyote is close. I smiled briefly at the thought.
Blood didn't bother me as much as I found it did other vampires. Some vampires didn't measure any kind of restraint, and obviously there were those who were very close to humans, like I had just seen with the Cullens; that pixie-like vampire and her lover.
My thoughts strayed to the bronze-haired boy, with his eyes, green and deep. He was handsome, to say the least, but the entire family was very attractive. I knew from rumors about the Cullens – it had been the talk of the town for the past month – that all of the children were adopted by Doctor Cullen and his wife. I can't imagine why they would move here, but I knew that the pixie wouldn't have protested. The weather here is ideal for a vampire existence.
I had taken in all of their scents as I walked by them in the cafeteria. They all smelled absolutely wonderful, but one scent grabbed my attention more than the others. I hadn't had time to process which member it came from, but I hoped to experience it again. I took a deep breath, closing my eyes and imagining that scent filling my lungs once more.
I straightened suddenly as I heard the chair next to me scraping back across the floor. I looked over and there was the bronze-haired boy, pulling his chair back to sit down. I looked around. Mister Banner had already begun the class and had assigned him to the only available seat: the one next to mine.
I took a breath – more out of habit than anything else – and his scent filled my lungs. I stopped. He smelled incredibly sweet; like honey or cinnamon. It was mouthwatering. I swallowed the build-up of venom desperately, telling myself to control this. I was glad that it wasn't as bad as some of the things I had to endure. I remembered meeting the Volturi once, after attacking a mugger in their city. They had given me a severe warning, as well as explaining this la tua cantante concept, then let me go, much to my relief.
He wasn't nearly as bad, but he was still tempting.
He exhaled, right as I had begun to breathe in, and a fresh wave of scent filled me.
Stop breathing, damn it!
I cut off the air to my lungs and, though the pressure in my chest was uncomfortable, it wasn't nearly as bad as having to endure his scent. Just one hour, I kept repeating to myself. Just one hour then I can go.
I could make it through one hour of every day.
He had shifted his weight away from me, obviously uncomfortable. I was glad that he at least had some self-preservation instinct. It meant that he would avoid me if possible.
That hour was the longest hour of my existence, but eventually the bell did ring. Time passes, even when you don't notice it. Time always passes.
I got to my feet quickly, shoving my books in my bag with slightly out of the ordinary speed. I looked up to see him watching me; his beautiful green eyes alight with curiosity and a look of something approaching trepidation and anxiety.
I flashed him a quick smile, and then walked out of the classroom, slinging my back around my shoulder as I headed for the gym.
I walked into the women's changing room, glad to immerse myself in the stale scents of sweat and mediocre blood. I changed with unusual slowness, wanting to fill my lungs with the repulsive odors before I went into the actual gym.
I sat on the bleachers awaiting the arrival of the rest of my class and the teacher. Basketball season practice today, joy of joys. I was good at sports – being a vampire who was flexible, fast and very strong – but I still preferred reading or playing music. It helped to lessen the loneliness somewhat.
A group of boys all charged out from the men's changing room. I smiled a little. Even from here I was able to hear all of the guy talk that went on it that room. All of their 'conquests' and suchlike. I also knew that almost every guy in the school – including some teachers, which I found quite disturbing – was in on a bet of who could kiss me or lay me first. Stupid males, all testosterone and no sense. Getting close to me was the last thing any of them wanted to do.
The coach blew her whistle and I stood up to gather around the outside of the circle that had formed around her.
"Right, ladies and gentlemen, today we shall start in our basketball part of the program. Everyone pair up and come over to collect a ball."
I waited patiently off to one side as everyone found their partners. Friend jumping at each other with small squeals and pairs of guys giving each other high fives. Eventually I noticed that the bronze-haired boy was on the outskirts as well, with the same patient look on his face. I realized that now our class would have an even number, and he would end up being my partner. With a sigh, steeling myself for another hour of torture, I walked over.
He noticed my advance and his eyes widened as he was no doubt filled with anxiety for no apparent reason. I smiled.
"Hey. I'm Bella. Would you like to be my partner?"
He smiled crookedly, and I had to control my involuntary gasp. He really was a gorgeous human. He gave a small sigh of gratitude.
"Thanks, I'd love to. I'm Edward."
"Nice to meet you." I smiled again as I reached out to shake hands. He took my hand and I felt him tense briefly at my sudden cold touch. "Sorry," I said. "Bad circulation, all of my extremities are freezing. It's a wonder they haven't fallen off yet," I added jokingly.
He let out a small laugh. "Makes you wonder what you're doing in a place like this. Wouldn't you rather have the warm sun?"
I tilted my head to the side, smiling as I pictured what I would look like driving through someplace like Miami or Jacksonville, where my mother used to live. "The sun's nice, in moderation. I prefer the forest after rain." All the scents are most tantalizing then.
He nodded. "Yeah I suppose. I just moved here from Chicago, so I kind of have to get used to this sort of thing."
I smiled. "Quite a change, isn't it?"
He nodded again, the crooked smile once more making an appearance on his face. The coach then suddenly blew her whistle, tossing us an over-inflated basketball. I caught it, spinning it idly on my index finger.
"Right, now if each pair takes one corner that is marked out by the blue cones, I want the first person to try and make it to each side of the rectangle, while their partner tries to block and defend."
I grinned. Poor Edward Cullen. He had some work to do. I led the way to the farthest corner away from the coach and waited on one end for the whistle to blow.
"I'll try and go easy on you," I whispered to him, and his smile widened, his eyes brightening as he wordlessly accepted the challenge in my voice.
I bounced the ball twice before the whistle blew, reverberating shrilly around the room.