Author's Note: In Eclipse, Bella and Edward get engaged a few days after graduation. This story does not fit into that timeline. In my story, the engagement takes place while school is still in session. I wanted to show the reaction of the Forks High student body, so I took the liberty of moving the engagement a few weeks earlier. I figure that Edward first proposed the night they returned from Italy, and if Bella had any sense, she'd have accepted on the spot. So these events aren't that big of a stretch. I also put Edward, Bella, Jessica, Angela and Mike in the same class or separate classes as needed. All's fair in fan fiction, I hope.
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer created and owns these characters. I am just having fun with them.
Bella was running late as usual. I heard her racing around the house as I waited in my car. It sounded as if she crashed into something, and I winced at the thought of another bruise marking her fair skin. Finally she came flying out of the door, down the steps, and into the seat next to me. I took a deep breath. Her scent was one part pain and a thousand parts delight. It had been less than an hour since I'd left her in her room. That shouldn't be enough time to miss her, but any separation was too long for me. I never felt right unless we were together.
"Good morning, love," I greeted her. I leaned over to kiss her. As my lips approached hers I could feel the warmth and when we touched, a jolt of excitement ran through me.
"Edward," she murmured, trying to pull me closer.
"We have to go," I said virtuously, returning my hands to the steering wheel. "School starts in ten minutes."
She made an adorable grumpy face.
"Today's the day, right?" I reminded her.
"Oh," she said glumly. "Right."
I was eager to tell everyone in North America that Bella had agreed to marry me, but I knew she didn't feel the same. She had assured me that she loved me deeply and wanted to be with me forever. She just didn't think marriage was necessary. But I had prevailed upon her to accept, in exchange for… a certain small favor I would grant her. I didn't want to think about that right now. Today was my day to be showered in congratulations and well wishes, to bask in my triumph, to celebrate my extreme good fortune. Bella had promised that today we'd tell everyone at school.
"You're sure you want to do this?" she asked. By this time we were walking across the parking lot to the school doors.
"Of course I'm sure!" I replied, gently squeezing her hand. "I want everyone to know."
The bell rang as we took our seats. She gave me a significant look. I wasn't quite certain what she meant to convey. Here we go, maybe, or You asked for this. Perhaps I could ask her later what she was thinking. She turned to the person sitting on her left.
"Good morning, Jessica," she said, somewhat tensely.
"Hi, Bella." She looks kind of keyed up. Bella took a deep breath, exhaled, then lifted her left hand from her lap and held it in front of her friend. My ring glittered on her third finger.
OH MY GOD! Jessica's mouth fell open. Is that what I think it is? He asked her to marry him?
Bella's heart was beating faster and her cheeks were coloring up as she took in her friend's reaction. My love did not like the spotlight.
"Bella," Jessica began. "Is that…?" How does she do it? Marrying Edward Cullen! Actually marrying him!
Bella nodded nervously. Is she pregnant? Is that why they're doing this? I sighed and slumped slightly in my seat. Bella had warned me that people would assume we were having a shotgun wedding. That had indeed been her father's immediate reaction. I thought maybe our classmates, who had seen us together, who must know how intensely I adored her, would understand that ours was a love match. Jessica's thoughts continued to pursue her theory. So they are sleeping together. I knew it! He has an amazing body. I'll bet he's really gentle, though. I wasn't looking at her, but I could see in her mind that she was giving me an admiring look. And really passionate. I wonder how often they… I clenched my teeth in irritation. I had to find something else to listen to! I sifted through the thoughts of students in various parts of the building, trying to locate Alice.
I focused on my sister's plans to rearrange her bedroom, but I could still keep track of the conversation next to me. Jessica realized that she ought to offer congratulations. She was asking when I had proposed, had we set a date, where did I get the ring, had I gotten down on one knee, and Bella was answering her many questions.
Finally the teacher began his lecture, but before turning her attention to the front of the room, Bella looked over to me, one eyebrow raised in interrogation. She wanted to know what I had heard in Jessica's thoughts. I pressed my lips together. I'd have to tell her that she had been right. Bella continued to fix me with her gaze until my mouth curved into a rueful smile. She nodded with satisfaction as she smiled and turned her head away. I could read her gesture as easily as I read the thoughts of others. I told you so.
Jessica remained preoccupied with our news throughout the period. Try as I might to concentrate on the teacher, I heard in her mind the classmates she was going to gossip with first, the additional information she wanted to pry out of Bella, and the same offensive speculation about Bella's condition and exactly how she might have gotten that way. How could she imagine that I was marrying Bella because I had to? The joy and security of having her as my wife was the most extraordinary gift I could ever receive.
When the bell rang, Bella bolted from her chair and swiftly pressed her lips to my cheek. "I have to talk to Angela and Mike," she said in my ear. "I want to tell them myself, before anyone else does." With that she rushed out the door. I made my way to Spanish class and sat down, preparing myself to monitor the conversation. I took a deep breath. I hoped I could remain focused on Angela. Mike's thoughts alternated between tedious and completely infuriating.
"Hi!" In Angela's mind I could see Bella greet her friends. "I have something to tell you," she declared.
Neither of them expected anything momentous. They waited for Bella to speak, but her nerve seemed to have deserted her. She's blushing. What could it be? Angela wondered. Bella's head was down and I could see her blood delicately tinting her cheek through the curtain of her hair.
"Um, guess what?" she said softly. "Edward asked me to marry him." She looked up apprehensively, and finished her announcement quickly. "And I said yes."
Wow, marriage, thought Angela in amazement. Ben and I talk about the future sometimes, but we're just graduating from high school. It's too soon for us. She looks scared. She must be worried about what everyone is going to say. Well, I say if that's what they want, it's wonderful.
"Congratulations!" Angela said warmly, throwing her arms around Bella. I could tell that she was curious about the particulars of the proposal. Jessica and Angela both wanted to know where we'd been, what I'd said, how I'd acted. Girls seemed very interested in those details. But Angela wasn't planning to interrogate Bella.
Edward Cullen! Oh, no. Mike's thoughts were too loud to tune out. I leaned my forehead on my hand. This was not going to be pleasant. Did he get her pregnant? That arrogant, worthless pretty boy! How does he do it? He gives me the creeps sometimes, but she's drawn to him like a magnet. He had her wrapped around his finger from day one. I'll bet she does anything he wants, anytime he wants. He could make her to do a striptease for him, that's what I'd start with, and then—
I really couldn't take this. It wasn't healthy for me— or Mike— to hear these things. Thankfully, their class had begun, and Mike's thoughts were diverted as he realized that he hadn't completed the homework due that day. I wrenched my attention from their classroom and back to my own, but Mike's filthy images and ideas were still lodged in my head. As vividly as he fantasized about what he wanted to do with Bella, I imagined what I wanted to do to him. It would take some time to make him pay for every disgusting, disgraceful thought he'd had about my love, but I wouldn't rush. I'd punish him thoroughly before finishing him off.
Contemplating the satisfaction this act would bring, I let out a breath I hadn't known I was holding. I needed to calm down. I wished Jasper were here to help me, but I was on my own. I spent the rest of the period conscientiously counting and recounting the leaves on the tree just outside the window. By the time the class ended and I went to meet Bella and Mike for the next period, which we shared, I felt that I could see him without immediately ripping him limb from limb.
As I approached the classroom, I could hear Bella and Mike chatting casually about school and the store. Be calm, I advised myself. He's been nice to Bella. She doesn't know what's in his mind. Be friendly or she'll wonder why not. Both noticed me as soon as I entered the room, but their reactions differed. Bella's face lit up with a glorious smile, and I could hear her heartbeat accelerate. Mike's thoughts were resigned. There he is. Better congratulate him. For taking the sexiest chick in this whole town off the market. I gritted my teeth and fought to retain a neutral expression.
"Hey, Cullen, congratulations," he said, extending his hand.
I grasped his hand and shook it. With only a bit more pressure, I could reduce it to a bloody, mangled pulp. But that would be very wrong. Calm and friendly, I reminded myself. I forced myself to release his hand.
"Thanks, Mike," I said. I reached over and pulled Bella to my side. She looked up at me, and the love in her eyes amazed me for the thousandth time. "I couldn't be happier."
His hand is freezing! he thought. She likes that touching her? Boy, if I just had the chance, I'd show her a better time than he ever could.
I am not going to let his idiotic, impossible fantasies upset me, I vowed. Bella is right here, and she chose me. I kept my attention on her and my gaze on her eyes. I leaned over and quickly kissed her neck, making her laugh. Now I could see her, feel her, hear her, smell her and enjoy her taste on my lips. All my senses were full of her. I wouldn't let anything intrude on my perfect satisfaction. I concentrated so fiercely on Bella that I could barely hear Mike. Or the teacher— Bella had to push me towards my seat when the period began. By keeping my mind on my love I was able to ignore Mike, and I made it through class without hearing anything to enrage me.
By lunch time, word had spread throughout the school. As Bella and I stepped into the cafeteria together, many heads turned in our direction. Instantly the room became unusually quiet, and I was assaulted with scores of thoughts.
She must be knocked up.
I rolled my eyes in exasperation. Were they all so cynical?
Why does he want to tie himself down so soon?
Ha! They had no idea how long I'd waited.
Mrs. Edward Cullen! Bella's got it made.
A thrill shot through me at the sound of that name. The thoughts were filling my head faster than I could react to them.
Marriage? At our age?
Cullen is one lucky guy.
How romantic! Jessica said he knelt in front of her and gave her his mother's ring.
They're both such good students. I never would have figured them for a teen marriage.
I knew she was totally into him, but I didn't realize it was that serious.
I wonder if there's a baby on the way.
It's sweet. I'm not really surprised, the way they act around each other.
My boyfriend wouldn't marry me if I held a gun to his head.
Why don't they just live together?
The Cullens are kind of strange. I wouldn't want to be part of that family.
He's making the rest of us guys look bad. Again!
Is she pregnant? Her stomach still looks flat.
Her father is the chief of police! I'll bet he's furious.
They must be going all the way.
I never understood what he sees in her.
They'll be divorced before our fifth reunion.
I scowled. Some of the reaction was so mean-spirited. I searched for Angela's mind, hoping to hear something kinder.
She was so devastated when he left. I'm so glad that he loves her as much as she loves him. I recognized her "voice" and gratefully turned to see her sitting with her boyfriend Ben. Angela was smiling at us, and I smiled back. He's really good-looking. And nice. They belong together.
I listened for Ben's reaction to the news. They're high school sweethearts, like us. I don't think we're ready yet, but maybe someday, after college. I'll ask Edward how he knew the time was right.
"So?" Bella asked quietly beside me.
I frowned. "You were right. Lots of them jumped to the same conclusion Charlie did. Some of them think our marriage is doomed."
She scrutinized my expression with a worried look on her face. "Is it bothering you to listen? Let's not stay here."
See you later! I heard Alice's silent farewell from across the room. She knew we weren't going to join her today.
"Maybe we could go outside," I agreed quickly.
We sat at one of the picnic benches near the woods. The school was still buzzing with many thoughts, and our names were mentioned frequently, but I was far enough away to let the noise blend into a meaningless hum.
I took a deep breath. I could see Bella was stressed from the attention and the reaction, and she didn't even suspect half of what people were thinking. Marriage was my dream, not hers. Perhaps it had been wrong to pressure her and put her through this. She was ready to leave everything behind to be with me forever. I didn't need a ring or a ceremony to be sure of her love. "It's not too late to change your mind," I said gently.
"Are you crazy?" she demanded instantly. "We made a deal, and I want to stick to it. Besides, the hard part is over. I knew everyone would assume that we're only getting married because we have to. I knew they'd all freak out when they heard. Well, now they have, so what would be the point in backing out?"
"Edward Cullen," she teased. "Were you hoping to get rid of me?"
I pulled her onto my lap with a laugh. Her smile, her humor, her sparkling eyes, her soft skin, her mouth-watering scent all combined to make me giddy.
"Never!" I replied. "You're mine….mine….mine…all mine." I alternated my words with kisses, and she giggled and slid her hand into my hair. The sound of her delight sent my mood skyrocketing even higher.
"Were they really awful?" Bella asked, referring to our classmates.
"They're young," I said charitably. "They don't understand love."
"The same age as I am," she countered.
"Yes, but you found out what love is when you saw how much I adore you."
"Is that so? I think I found out when I realized you're all that matters to me."
Words were no longer enough to express my feelings. I had to touch her, kiss her, press her to me. Her heart was pounding as she responded to my caresses.
After a while, I reluctantly pulled away and established a little distance between our bodies. "Class is going to start," I said. She seemed disoriented. I loved knowing that my lips and hands and gaze could leave her dizzy and breathless. She shook her head slightly to clear it and looked over at the school building.
"Are you sure you want to go back?" she asked. "Can you handle it?"
"Bella," I said, lifting her hand and pressing my lips to the ring she'd accepted from me. "When I think about this ring on your finger and what it means, I can handle anything."
Her incandescent smile sent my spirit soaring. "Me too."
Author's Note: I had a lot of fun writing this piece, especially thinking of all the snarky comments the students might have. Please tell me what you think!
By the way, I know that when Breaking Dawn begins, Bella is still rather uneasy about marriage and the wedding, whereas at the end of this story she seems more positive about it. I just figure that was her feeling in the moment, following Edward's kisses and sweet talk, and after her head cleared her misgivings about marriage returned.