Chapter 1: The Last First Day
I watched as Alice rambled on about her "back to school ball" she had planned. Alice had always been the party planner type. Each year within the first week or two of school she'd planned a back to school bash. This year, she'd picked a classic ball theme. Yeah, that was my sister… always making grand plans.
"So little sister… do I actually have to dress up again this year??" I cringed at the thought. One thing I learned years ago was never to argue with Alice about wardrobe.
Her pixie-like features turned stone cold. "Yes Emmett! You will so dress up. You cannot attend wearing your football uniform!" At this point, Bella laughed and Jasper tried to stifle his, but I heard him.
"Oh shut up! You all know how I hate getting all dressed up for these things." I sighed signifying my defeat. Alice's face lit back up as she turned to Bella. I loved making Alice happy, but being the big brother and the all star jock, I knew I had to put up a front.
"So Bella… you have a date yet or are you flying solo again this year?" Alice was always trying to convince Bella to date more often. This was a sticky issue with Bella. For many years now I'd helped her fend off the male population of Forks. Bella was Alice's best friend. She had been for as long as I could remember. As a direct result, I had treated Bella as I would my own sister, with a few exceptions. Once, a few years back, when we were freshmen, Mike Newton had expressed serious interest in our little Bella. She was having none of this, but he seemed completely oblivious to her more than clear hints. I was ready to clobber him, but with the help of Alice and Jasper, we came up with a better plan. Bella and I "dated" just long enough for Mike to give up. Really, how could he compete with the amazing Emmett McCarty? I laughed out loud at this thought.
"You know Em, you could be a little sensitive to Bella's dating situation." Alice raised her eyebrow which made Jasper laugh again. "You too Jaz, really, Bella hasn't had a date in how long?!"
Now Bella spoke up. "Umm Alice, I think it's mostly because I don't want a date. Hell, last time a guy chased after me, I had to have Emmett fend him off! I'd rather just go alone thanks." Bella blushed giving away her utter embarrassment at needing my help.
"It was my pleasure." I grinned back at her. I had never thought of her as more than Bella. She was just Bella. She completed our group. It was always the four of us. Jasper, Alice, Bella and I. I was sad to be graduating. Jaz and I were both leaving Forks High School this year. Leaving Alice and Bella to fend for themselves. I hoped they would be alright. Without Jaz and me looking out for them they could probably get into a lot of trouble. Well… Jaz didn't really help keep Alice out of trouble…
I couldn't remember when it started, I guess it was always there. Jaz was my best friend. Alice was my sister… and somewhere along the lines they became a couple. At first it annoyed me. It was like my best friend had been possessed by my annoying little sister, but in truth I couldn't have wished a better partner for either of them. Now of course, I'd never admit this out loud. Again, I had a rep to uphold. Emmett McCarty was NOT the emotional, touchy feely sort. The thought of leaving the girls behind scared me a bit. Bella had always relied on me to be there. Whenever she had a breakdown of some sort, or when she needed advice, or when she failed a test. I was there, I was her rock. This made me smile. I enjoyed having her around. She was truly one of my best friends. I looked at the faces surrounding me. The four of us, family. I loved them and always would. It had always been the four of us, it always would be, or so I thought.
She was amazing. My Alice. I reveled in the thought of her being mine. I loved her more than life itself. This was our last year in high school together. Alice had one year without me. How would I survive? She and I had been together as a couple for so long, even longer as friends. How could I make it through an entire year not seeing her each day? Here she sat again, planning our big "back to school ball." Yes, my Alice was a planner. I loved her for this. I didn't even mind the fact she felt the need to dress all four of us according to the theme. She was cute when she was excited. Her pixie-like features more prominent when she was truly excited about something. She smiled at me as she chastised Emmett for not wanting to dress up.
Emmett was my best friend, and was leaving Forks High behind this year as well. We had discussed what would happen to the girls without us. Would Mike Newton make a move on Bella again? Would Alice forget about me? Would the girls even miss us? In truth, I had full faith in Alice's affections for me. I worried more about Emmett and how he'd survive without Bella. He'd never fully admitted it, but I could see he loved her as I loved Alice. To him, admitting this fact, would betray Alice. Alice loved Bella, they were best friends, sisters from the time they were five. Emmett was too much of a gentleman to hurt Alice like that. Sure he put on a tough guy attitude, but I knew him better. The time he "acted" as Bella's boyfriend, well that was the happiest I'd seen him ever.
"Guys, it's about time for class. You driving Em?" We had met at Emmett's this morning to discuss our plans. It was ritual. We'd meet at Emmett's and discuss Alice's grand plans for her annual party and then show up at school together. The four of us.
Emmett snorted. "What? You think I'm going to let her drive??" He tickled his sister and she giggled. God I loved her laugh. "She'd get a ticket and we'd be late. Not to mention, Bella's dad would not be too pleased…" This was a very valid point. Alice liked to drive, but she drove like she was racing. Chief Swan would surely ban Bella from riding with us again if he caught us speeding with her in the car. "Ok, let's get this show on the road. We don't wanna be late the first day."
I grabbed my bag and Alice's. I noticed Em grab his and Bella's stuff. Yeah, I expected that. He should just get over it and ask her to marry him already. That was where this should be headed. Then the thought hit me. Matrimony.
I sighed as we headed to Emmett's Jeep. My three best friends, heading to school on our last first day of school together. This was the last time we'd be here, planning Alice's party, together. The thought of Forks High School without Jasper and Emmett hurt. I'm not kidding either, it truly hurt. My chest felt as though it was caving in and I couldn't breathe. What would we do without them? How would Alice live without Jasper? He kept her so calm and grounded, even when she was planning the biggest party of the season. Then there was Emmett. My dear Emmett. He was such an amazing friend. I couldn't get through a day without seeing him. No, he wasn't my boyfriend or anything, he was just Emmett. We'd never really dated. We did pretend to date in order to get Mike off my back, but otherwise he was just one of my best friends.
"Earth to Bella…" Emmett was waving his hand in front of my face. "Err umm sorry. I was just thinking… It's going to suck without you guys next year." This brought back the lump in my throat. I knew I had to stop thinking about it for fear of crying.
"Aww Bells. It'll be fine." He flashed his trademark grin showing his dimples. "Ya know I wouldn't leave you on your own if I didn't think you'd survive. 'Sides, this year hasn't even started yet and you're already worried about next year. Silly Bella." He brushed my hair out of my eyes and tossed me into his Jeep. Alice and Jaz were already in the back discussing their schedules. Emmett was right, I needed to just enjoy this last year the four of us would be together.
As Emmett drove toward Fork's High School, Jasper and I talked about our schedules. Jasper was a year ahead of me, so we never shared classes. We simply wanted to know where the other would be during the day. This gave us the opportunity to meet between classes if we were in the same area. I was going to miss this… having all four of us together at school. Next year would suck, but I wasn't going to dwell on that thought.
It took forever to get to school with Emmett driving. I hated when he pulled rank. "Em, seriously… could you have driven any slower?!" I glared at him, only partially annoyed but I knew it'd get a rise out of him.
"Alice, if you want to survive the day you'll leave my driving alone. At least Bella's dad hasn't had to ticket me yet." He had me there. Chief Swan had already warned me twice and ticketed me once. I knew if I got caught speeding through town again he'd probably pull my license.
"Yeah yeah Em. Just keep in mind, you can get a ticket for going too slow!" My attention turned to Bella now. "So what's your first class?"
"I have calculus first period. Who the hell wants calc first thing in the morning? Then I've got… hmm… Oh my TA period for English Lit. How about you?"
"I've got physics first then I'm in the English lit class. I didn't know you were taking a TA period this term. How in the hell'd you get wrapped into that?" Bella was always amazing in English, it was no surprise she'd been asked to TA for Mr. Laudati.
"Well, because I tested out of Senior English, I had a free period. I hate to go an entire year without some English class, so I volunteered. They're giving me credit to just grade papers and do whatever Mr. Laudati asks." She shrugged. "It's not a bad set up. I think I may even get the chance to teach a bit." That was our Bella. Finishing all her Senior English before she was a Junior. She was always dead set on becoming a college professor in English Literature.
"I guess that means I won't really see you at least until like third period right?" I glanced at my schedule. We always had the same fitness period. We'd worked this out with the school secretary. There was no way Bella could have fitness without someone there to make sure she didn't hurt anyone, or herself.
"Yep, this year should be better than the last few though. It's only yoga… can't be as bad as the kickboxing semester…" I laughed at this comment. She was right. Kickboxing Bella was a disaster. I finally had Emmett arrange it so he could be her partner. The woman was deadly… but mostly to herself.
At this, the first bell rang. "Ok Bells, see you soon." I waved and grabbed Jaspers arm. We were off. First day of school had begun. The first day of our last year together. This saddened my heart, but I could not let Jasper read my expression. No need to worry him. Besides, we still had all year to figure out the details.
I sat in the administration office waiting for my schedule. Rosalie and I had done this many times throughout the years. Carlisle was one of the top heart surgeons in the country and had been offered the opportunity to develop heart centers throughout the United States. We didn't mind moving every year or two, but to start a new school your Senior year was tough. I handled it a lot better than Rose. She was happy back in Las Angeles. She had managed to actually make real friends and to let loose a bit. Usually she was so uptight and insecure she'd come off as a total bitch.
Carlisle had assured us we would not move again until after graduation. That was nice to know. I hated starting a school and having to move mid-term. Forks wasn't the worst place we'd been yet. We had visited all sorts of towns. From cities to tiny towns with populations less than one thousand people. Forks was somewhere in between. It was small town enough that no one would get lost and everyone would know your business… but large enough you could actually choose your friends.
"There you go Mr. Cullen. I believe you have calculus first period. If you go out of this office and take a right, it's the last door on the left." The small cherub looking woman smiled warmly as she pointed me in the correct direction.
"Thank you ma'am." I returned her smile and turned to Rose. "So sis, what about you? Where are you heading?" She looked so unhappy. I wished I could do something to make her smile, but I figured I'd just give her time. She'd adjust, as she always did.
"I've got U.S. Government first period. Didn't we take that back in LA?" Rose's perfect face contorted into disappointment.
"No Rose, we took U.S. History. That completed a different requirement. You've still gotta take government. It'll do you some good." I smiled trying to make her return the gesture.
"Whatever, U.S. something or other anyway. Then I've got Senior English Lit and fitness after that. They offer yoga this year! That's great." That was the first time I'd seen her honestly excited about school.
"Excellent. Well then I'll see you at lunch? I'll save a spot for you like always k?" She hated being left to eat on her own. She'd even take the company of her adopted brother just so she'd have someone to talk to during lunch.
"Same as usual Edward. We'll meet at lunch. We'll go through this year and next year we will be on our own. No more transfers, no more losing friends. I can't wait. Now scoot. You'll be late." Right on queue the bell rang. She was right I would be late.
I walked at a brisk pace toward the calculus classroom. I could see students filing into the room. This would be a full class. In truth, calculus had always come easy to me. Actually, I rarely struggled with school. I enjoyed reading and didn't mind studying either. It was study or be alone most nights. With the moving and such I didn't take the time to make many true friends. It was easier that way. It kept me from being heartbroken like Rose.
I walked in, scanned the room for an open spot and picked a spot at one of the back tables. It hadn't been too full yet. I sat down and opened my notebook. I had a melody playing in my head I just had to get out. I started to write and then the most amazing scent hit me. Freesias and what was that, strawberry shampoo? Where was that coming from? I had to find out. I looked up and there she was…The most stunning woman I had ever seen.
"Hello…is anyone sitting here?" Not only beautiful, but damn her voice was luscious. I just stared. I couldn't make the words come. "Err...I could sit somewhere else if you'd like." What? NO! I wanted to shout at her. I wanted her to sit next to me.
Smiling I responded. "No, you're welcome to the spot if you'd like." I gestured toward the empty seat. I hoped these seats would be our assigned places for the term… maybe the whole year. Sitting next to her could make calculus interesting.
"Thanks. I'm Bella Swan by the way. You must be new." She held out her hand to shake mine. My heart jumped as I took her hand in mine. It was like electricity. I could feel her pulse beating through her hand. Her skin was like silk. Her smile so genuine.
"Edward Cullen. Pleased to meet you Bella." Truer words had never been spoken. This beautiful woman sparked feelings inside me I could not define. The melodies began to form in my head.
Bella Swan had just become my new muse.