Chapter 26

"I love your belt, Bella," Tally commented. Her blond hair was cut to her shoulders, making her cheekbones look sharper.

"I love your hair, it's awesome, really," I said, in awe. She looked gorgeous. She smiled, gratefully.

"Come on, let me introduce you to some people," she said. "This is Evan, Michael and Natasha, and this is Damien." She looked at me when she said his name, and I knew instantly that he was her new object of affection. I looked at his messy blue hair and tried very hard not to cringe. But other than that, he was pretty cute. I personally thought Scott was hotter, who was now talking to Camille, but I could see how Tally liked him. He had a sweet smile and was tall, with soft hazel eyes.

"Oh my, you're hair reminds me of a smurf," I said, jokingly. He looked up and glared at me. Whoa. I guess he was sensitive. "I'm Bella," I directed at Evan, Michael and Natasha. But Natasha and Michael were currently making out. This could take some getting use to.

"Are you a sophomore?" Evan asked. His orange hair reminded me of Alexandra's, who was now with Scott and Camille and other people from our old school. I wondered briefly if those two would be interested in each other.

"No, freshman. You?" We were just making small talk, probably because we just stood there awkwardly while Michael and Natasha were making out next to us.

"Junior."

"Oh, do you know Amanda, Lina and Cassandra?"

"Yeah, they're cool. Except Cassandra's a piece of work," he laughed. We spent a few minutes laughing about our similar experiences with Cassandra. The warning bell rang and we grudgingly walked into the large bricked building. I had first period with Tally so we walked side by side.

"So, what do you think of Damien? Crush potential?" Tally asked. We weaved through groups of kids, some small, many big. We probably looked like two deer in the headlights, trying to find our classes. We both had Honors English with Mrs. Ives.

"Why are you even asking me? It's obvious that you're already fawning over him," I laughed and then locked eyes with a tall, dark and handsome fellow. Yum, I love high school.

Tally looked alarmed. "Is it really that obvious? He's a junior, he probably thinks I'm just a silly girl with silly adoration for him. Oh, no."

"Don't worry, Tally. It wasn't that obvious, only to me, because you're one of my best friends. And I'm sure he likes you, you want to know how I know?" I paused. "He talks to you. I tried to say one thing to him, and he glared at me like I was the devil."

"But he's actually a really fun guy to be around. Everyone loves him," Tally said, enthusiastically. Her blue eyes lit up, which were already sparkling because of the shimmery eye shadow she had on.

"I don't know, Tally. He's seemed pretty hostile to me," I said, unsure. There was a group of beautiful guys standing by a class which caught my attention. Oh my.

"Well," she said hesitantly. I wasn't distracted enough to not catch the tone that there was something she wasn't telling me.

"What?"

"He's just heard stuff about you, you know? He was friends with Christian and now he's close to Scott. And Christian was pretty broken up about…I can't remember what Damien told me, but he was upset about something you did." When Tally saw the appalled look on my face, she backtracked. "But it's not a big deal because Christian's moving. I told Damien that you had nothing to do with it, and you two weren't even going out, you guys were just friends. Apparently, Christian just dropped the bomb on everyone last night. He says he's been planning it for a while, but Damien is so stupid, he automatically assumed it was you. I told him it wasn't you, and that you and Christian were close."

My head was spinning. Christian was gone? Hmph, that actually sounds like a good thing. But this Damien guy was really pissing me off. He didn't know anything that was going on and he thinks he can make assumptions like that. And maybe he was right, but he should take another look at Christian. "Wait, when did this all happen?"

"Last night. I kept calling you, but your phone was off. What were you doing?" Tally asked, concerned.

Uh, freaking out on my family about them not telling me that Christian was a vampire and controlled my feelings so that he could find out if I truly loved him. Probably shouldn't tell her that, though. "Uh, family game night. Yeah, they wanted me to have my last night of summer be one of family joy," I mumbled. It was ironic because last night was the most not joyous nights of my summer. "So Damien was close with Christian, and now Scott?"

"Yeah, him and Christian were like really close. Damien, Christian and Scott's brother, Nick, and Evan were all like best friends." I wondered briefly if they ever suspected anything about him being a vampire. "And Scott is just friends with him because of Nick. And so he knows about your guys' relationship."

Hmph, I really didn't like this outsider, someone who doesn't even know me, judge my relationships.

I would have responded something along these lines but we walked into the classroom and there was Vladimir. And then there was Tally hugging Vladimir. And then there were girls staring, adoringly at Vladimir. And then there was Valdimir, heading my way.

"Oh Bella, look, Vlad is in our class," Tally exclaimed.

"Oh," I said, flatly.

"I'm Bella," I said, unsure.

"Oh, Bella, you're rich," he laughed. I probably looked at him in horror when he said that. Of course, I was still attracted to him. The beautiful vibrant blue eyes, the chiseled jaw, and tanned, buttery skin that I wanted to run my fingertips over. But after everything that's happened, Vladimir seems like a little more trouble than he's worth. And I definitely don't want to think about the fact that Christian was the one who brought us together. "We just hung out last night, remember? You're too cute." He came over and ruffled my hair. So he remembered. But now he's acting like it was nothing.

I was suddenly angry. He remembered and he still acted like it hadn't happened. Such a fucking player.

"Yeah, just too cute," I said and abruptly walked away. I wasn't his little pet. Someone he just uses and throws away. All that stuff he said about wanting me was bullshit. He just wanted to hook up with me again. Well, I would never make that mistake again.

I went to sit down in a chair in the front, waiting for class to begin. Other students started filing in. I overheard Tally's and Vladimir's conversation when I left.

"What's up with her?" Vladimir asked.

"I don't know. You know Bella told me what happened last night," Tally informed him.

"She did? What did she say?" Ugh, I hated that smug tone of voice.

"Stuff." That's my girl. "Are you going to ask her out?"

Vladimir paused. I felt his eyes on me. Stupid boy. I could hear their every word.

"I don't know. What do you think she would say?" Vladimir actually sounded unsure. He sounded like Scott for a second, worried that I might reject them. I took a peak back at them and checked Vladimir out. He was wearing a black sweater over a blue button down oxford, vibrant blue just like the ocean, and his eyes; the sleeves of both were rolled up to his elbows, showing off his tan, boyish, muscled lower arms. His black jeans layed comfortably on his slim hips. His eyes met mine and he just looked so good, leaning against the desk, with his converse covered feet propped against the legs. I turned back to the front of the room.

I waited for Tally's answer with Vlad. "I don't know, you'll have to ask her." No, no, no. You're supposed to say that she would never go out with you in a million years. Even though it's not true, but a girl had to keep her dignity.

"Maybe I will," he said, cryptically. At that moment, Mrs. Ives called the class to attention. Tally came to sit in the seat next to me. Once she sat down, she raised her eyebrows, asking silently if I had heard that. I nodded and focused my attention to the short, chubby woman with gray frizzy hair standing a few feet from my desk. She was unbelievably unobservant and so didn't even notice that everyone was still talking. I took a deep breath. This would be a very long year.

In my English class, it was all freshmen. Unfortunately, I wasn't that lucky for the rest of the day. My next class, Honors Physiology, contained all sophomores and juniors. I took a placement test for biology, and passed, so my counselor let me skip it.

I saw Lina sitting in the back of the class and sighed in relief. Thank God, someone I knew. Nick was sitting next to her. I took the seat in front of him.

"So, yeah, he just called me last night and was like I'm moving. It makes absolutely no sense," Nick said.

"Bella, did Christian tell you why he left?" Lina asked me.

"What? Um, no. He didn't even call me," I said.

"Oh, that's weird. You two were so close. You must have just not heard your phone," Lina said. She entirely believed this.

"Yeah, that must be it," I said. Nick looked at me suspiciously, but finally shook it off and asked me how the party was last night. He didn't come because he had to finish his summer reading. I gave an impartial response and soon Lina was elaborating. Thankfully, when the teacher called the class to order, he recognized that it was only Lina talking. I felt bad that she got in trouble, but relieved that it was her and not me.

I could already tell that Mr. Henley meant business. I gave him 100% of my attention, knowing that this class would be challenging.

Once the bell rang for nutrition, Mr. Henley asked me to stay after class.

"A freshman?" He asked. I nodded.

"Well, Ms. Swan, I am simply giving you a suggestion, not an order. This is a very fast paced class and I don't know if a thirteen year old will be able to handle it. Maybe you should talk with your counselor, I think she made a mistake. Ninth graders take biology and then most sophomores take chemistry, and then some physiology. I only expect the most advanced sophomores and juniors, not any freshmen," he said. My face reddened in embarrassment.

"I'm fourteen," I said, in a hard voice. "And my counselor assured me that I was well prepared for this class."

"But that is your counselor. Your counselor does not have bachelor's degree in physiology. I do, and I say that you should definitely think about switching to a biology class. One is that is more your speed," he said calmly. He was in his thirties, with a wrinkled suit and unshaven stubble.

"Check my test scores, Mr. Henley. I placed into this class and I will stay in it," I said, confidently.

"Merely a suggestion, Ms. Swan. But, I look forward to grading your first test," he said, ominously.

I walked out, my eyes watering. I'm sure my face was red, with humiliation. I have never been talked down to like that before. With shaking hands, I walked to the bathroom and fixed up my face. I made sure to wipe away the unshed tears and not ruin my makeup. I looked at my reflection. Who is Mr. Henley to degrade me, when he doesn't even know me? I feel like that's happening a lot lately. Vladimir, Nick and now my honors physiology teacher.

I looked down at my schedule. With shaking hands, I took my schedule out. Algebra Two/ Trigonometry, wonderful, another sophomore class. As I began to fix my hair, the bell rang. I had seven minutes to get to class.

This time I just tried to get to class and didn't worry about the beautiful people I was passing. I walked through the door, with my head down, trying not to draw attention to myself. But when I looked up, I found that I caught the attention of a particular boy. Vladimir.

I put down my stuff at a chair and stared at him in shock. I was the only freshman I knew of that earned high enough scores on the placement test to be able to skip Geometry. Vladimir must be in the wrong class.

"What's with the red eyes? Did you miss me that much?" He said, laughing. He came over and sat on my desk, spreading his legs and propping himself up on his elbows. He looked like a gift from God, or the devil, I still haven't decided which yet.

"Are you in this class?" I said, ignoring his last comment. I took out my compact and checked my eyes. The redness had gone down, hardly noticeable even more. A fluttering in my stomach came from the thought that Vladimir observed me intently.

"Yep, apparent the school I went to in Russian prepared me really well, at least that's what my counselor told me. I think," Vladimir said, and looked around him, as if he was telling me some big secret. "She wanted to have sexual relations with me." I merely laughed, and shook my head, portraying that I thought he was being unbelievable. "I'm serious. She was totally coming on to me. And you know the good boy that I am, I never give in to seducing." He looked at me with a mischievous glint in his eyes.

"I didn't seduce you, Vladimir," I hissed.

"Sure, that's what you think," he said distractedly, as he placed with the zipper on my bag.

"So, you're really smart then?" I asked curiously.

"Yeah, I've been called the next Einstein," I raised my eyebrows. "Just kidding. Naw, I'm average, I'm just going to have to suffer through this year. I'll probably be behind everyone, but oh well," he said, indifferently.

"Well, you know, I could tutor you if you want or something," I said, randomly. What am I thinking? Spending more time with Vladimir is the last thing you need. But his sense of humor and deep eyes just completely captivate me. It was different then the love charm Christian put on us, this wasn't pure physical attraction, it was a little, but I also enjoyed his personality.

"Really?" He seemed really surprised at this. I could practically see his ego getting boosted up about five points. "Then we'll have to make a date."

"Not a date," I said quickly.

"Well, two people going out, of different genders, is generally considered a date."

"Not always."

"But most of the time," he countered.

"Well, then we won't go out. We'll go to your house," I suggested. No way would we go to my house. I could never bring Vladimir over, especially with my whole family hearing our make out session last night.

"Okay, then just give me the time and it's done," he said.

"We'll see," I responded and then turned my back on him, showing that I didn't want to discuss it further. Vladimir got the message walked back to his seat at the back of the room.

Math went well. There was practically no introduction. Automatically, he started lecturing about the first chapter. I liked the class, and I thought I was keeping up pretty well.

When the bell rang, I raced out of the room, trying to avoid any conversation with Vladimir. Who knows? Maybe this time I'll offer to have a sleepover at his house.

Next was Spanish 3/4 honors. That went by in a breeze. My family vacation in Spain last year during spring break definitely helped me. Also, the entire class was freshmen, so everyone was just getting to know everyone.

That class was pretty insignificant. So easy. Although I did appreciate being seated next to a really hot guy. I turned to look at Alexandra, who was in the class with me, and smiled in happiness. She looked on wishfully. Meanwhile, Becky, who sat in front of me, sent me a note.

Going to your house today?

Definitely.

Before the teacher could catch us passing notes, the bell for lunch rang. After lunch I had a creative writing class and then water polo practice.

Alexandra, Becky and I walked into the lunch room and scrounged for an open table. Soon we saw Tally and Camille eating with Scott and some other unfamiliar people. But one person I did see was Vladimir. Wonderful. I was counting on lunchtime to be a safe haven of just me and my closest friends, now I had to keep up with the cheerful, first-day-of-school act in front of these new friends. This was definitely not how I pictured my first day of high school. If only dad would have let Edward come to school with me, I thought. He would have saved me from this chaos. He would have suggested having lunch outside, on the grass, in peace. But I couldn't think about what could have been. I just lifted my head and showed my teeth in a tight lipped smile.

"Hey, everyone," I said, rather cheerfully. I set my tray down and looked everywhere except at Vladimir. The only problem was that Vladimir was the only one to respond.

"Hello Bella, I hope you've a great first day of school so far," he said leaning back in his chair, and folding his hands behind his head. He stares from all around the cafeteria. Even girls I recognized at seniors were admiring his confidence and beauty.

"It's been perfect," I shot at him, probably with a little too much venom because now the entire lunch table was looking at me. "Sorry, it's just…it's just really hot out, isn't it?" I said directing my cover up question at one of my friends.

"Yeah, sorry that's all me," Vladimir, the only one replying to my greetings, said. I rolled my eyes and set down my bag next to a chair, as far away from him as possible. When I sat down, Camille nudged my arm and leaned over to whisper in my ear.

"Bella, Vladimir is so flirting with you. I thought you liked him, why are you being so cold?" She whispered. She was looking at Vladimir while telling me this, making it very obvious that we were talking about him. Nice, Camille.

"I don't like him anymore," I mumbled.

"Why?"

"I'll tell you after school. You're coming over right?" I asked her.

"What's this? A party at Bella's house?" a guy I noticed as Scott's friend from middle school said.

"No way, not with my family. They'd murder me if I had a party," I told them, glad to be off the subject of Vladimir.

"What are you talking about, Bella? You know Alice has been begging you to throw a party," Alexandra said from across the table.

It's true, Alice really wanted to throw a Halloween party for me, but I adamantly said no.

"No way am I letting her throw a party. She goes crazy. I don't think you guys understand," I said, as I uncovered my container of cold pasta that Esme packed me.

"But she's so much fun. We all would have so much fun planning it and everything!" Becky said, excitedly. "Please, Bella, please!"

"We wouldn't do anything, Alice probably won't even let us touch the guest list," I responded.

"Guest list? This is an open party, anyone can come!" Tally said.

"No, no and no," I said. "It's not just Alice that goes crazy, Emmett, Jasper, Edward and my dad probably won't let any boys through the door. And there is no way in hell could any illegal substances, including weed or booze, can even get within a mile of my house."

"We could have a sober party," Alexandra said, weakly.

"I don't think that will be too popular in high school," I mumbled.

"Seriously, we could just have a really small party, like just us. It won't be as much fun, but I mean what else are we gonna do on Halloween?" Alexandra said.

"I guess that will be okay. We could just watch movies and stuff like that," I said, thinking over all the possibilities. Maybe a small party wouldn't be too bad.

"And play spin the bottle," Tally said, slyly.

"Tally! No! Okay, we are not having it at my house, because I know there is no amount of pleading I can do with you guys to keep yourselves off of each other," I announced, holding up my hands. Yeah, there is no way Esme and Carlisle are going to appreciate a bunch of teenage kids kissing in their house.

"We could do it at my house," Vladimir said. I was surprised he had kept quiet this entire time. "My parents are really chill, and will probably leave us alone the whole night. Plus, I have a garage that has a plasma screen TV, where we can be totally alone, for…whatever you guys want, I guess," Vladimir shrugged.

We looked at him like he was crazy. "And why are you just mentioning this now?" Becky asked. He shrugged again. "Okay, its settled Halloween at Vladimir's. Yes! Now we're not losers without plans on Halloween."

"So are you guys dressing up for Halloween?" I asked, unsure.

"Definitely," they all said.

"I just need to think of a costume," I said, thinking of all the creative costumes I could do.

"What about a devil?" Vladimir said, absentmindedly.

I shot a look at him. I liked him so much more when he didn't talk.

"I was thinking for me, jeez," he said. "Don't you think it will be cute? A short little red skirt and fishnets?"

"So fruity, dude," Scott laughed. Him and Scott started thinking of a boys JV water polo team costume. Their ideas consisted of Chipendales, gay policemen, colors of the rainbow, and male hairdressers. I just shook my head. (a/n: that's what the water polo teams at my school always do. So hilarious.)

"We should do something, us girls," I suggested to them.

"That is such a good idea," Camille said. "How about Playboy bunnies?"

I wrinkled my nose. "How about we are a little more discreet on the sluttiness?"

"Right."

"What about sailors?" Alexandra suggested. For the rest of lunch we debated which costume would be the best idea.

The bell rang and we parted ways, agreeing to meet after school.

During creative writing class, I let my mind wonder. The class wasn't too exciting. We were just going over what the upcoming year would bring. I thought about Vladimir's Halloween party, I thought about what we could wear and ultimately I thought of Vladimir. I can handle him. I can ignore him and roll my eyes at him and be completely turned off by all his efforts, I concluded. I can be unfazed by his gorgeous looks and body and charm. I can look at him and not get lost in his deep blue eyes. I can.

This is what I kept telling myself as I walked to the swim gym for water polo practice. I knew I probably won't actually get in the water, since it's not the girls' season and so the boys will have priority.

I sat with Lina and Amanda, listening to them talk about their day, but not actually listening. I was more interested in watching the boys deck change. I already went through an entire summer of watching them change, but it just never gets old.

I absentmindedly watched their practice with the other girls, not paying too much or too little attention to Vladimir and his wonderfully tan, muscled body. The other freshmen girls, except me, paid special attention to their technique. When the bell rang, I found myself thinking that that was the longest class all day and I didn't even have to do anything.

I recognized Edward's Audi and signaled to him that I was just waiting for my friends. We had to wait a few minutes for Camille, who got lost on the way. We teased her all the way until the car of being the typical freshman.

The four of them squished into the backseat while I rode shotgun. I turned to Edward and let out a deep sigh.

"I'll tell you about it later. Let's go home."