Disclaimer: This goes for every chapter until the end...they aren't my people :(
Good & Evil
It was a normal, dreary day. Nothing about the crisp October morning was particularly exceptional, and classes at Forks High School began without incident. Edward Cullen moved through the hallways confidently, neither meeting anyone's eyes nor avoiding them. Envious whispers swirled behind him as his classmates traded the latest gossip about his family. Unbeknownst to them, Edward could hear every single word.
His adopted brothers and sisters were in the science wing but he was fairly certain they could hear the newest rumors, as well. One of the perks of being a vampire was the acute sense of hearing. There were others, of course, but Edward found that humans could be very amusing when they talked amongst themselves, unaware of any listening guests.
Emmett, one of his brothers, often argued that their auditory sensitivity was not nearly as exciting as Edward's unique ability to read minds. While Edward did appreciate the advantages of his gift, it was difficult to make Emmett understand how it was as much a curse as it was a blessing. He couldn't turn it off. The constant chatter in his head wore on his nerves and some days it was unbearable.
Today was the Cullen family's first day back after a three day hiatus. The cover story was, of course, that their parents had pulled them out of class to go camping. The past three days had been gorgeous - sunny and warm. It was basically a rule that when the weather was fair, the Cullens would be missing in action. Their classmates had already dismissed them as a very strange family last year, when they first moved to Forks, so their odd behavior was overlooked.
The Cullens hadn't gone camping. They never went camping. Sometimes they went hunting, but the past three days Edward had just lazed around their house. He had been home alone. They could do whatever they wanted as long as it wasn't in the sun and in front of humans, and his siblings often took advantage of that rule.
The Cullens kept their secret very well. Carlisle had trained them and coached them until they appeared to be just regular students and their true identifies never crossed anyone's mind. Edward knew; he often listened in when they met strangers to ensure they were safe.
Edward sighed wearily as he approached his locker. He and his siblings had matriculated at least twenty times each. Every school was as boring as the last. He opened his locker and hung up his coat, simply because humans didn't wear coats inside classrooms that averaged eighty-five degrees. The ancient radiators only had two settings, on and off.
His boredom was almost painful. Alice, his youngest sister, had a gift that was special to just her, similar to Edward's telepathic ability. She was psychic. The one blimp of excitement in Edward's near future was something she had seen in a vision. "Something" was the key word. She had announced almost two weeks ago that something new was arriving in Forks and it had the potential to be big. She usually wasn't so vague.
He knew from the unoriginal and repetitive thoughts of his classmates that Forks High School had a new student. Her name was Isabella Swan, and she was the daughter of the Chief of Police, Charlie Swan. Not very scandalous or particularly interesting, but at least they were thinking of something besides his family's secrets, Edward mused.
The new girl was attractive, in a wholesome, traditional way. Edward was able to picture her vividly, because the male population was continuously reliving different memories of her. The females, disgruntled at their sudden competition, reassured themselves by picking out each of her flaws.
Edward got to class early, as usual, and took his seat by the back window. He sat alone and preferred it that way. Whenever they had to work with partners he was polite but aloof and managed to keep his distance from everyone else. As a result, no one bothered him anymore. He wasn't considered a top pick as a lab partner, despite his outstanding grades. He leaned back in his chair and let his mind wander.
He doubted that Miss Swan was the big news Alice had mentioned. No human could have that much of an impact on their lives. He was still turning different possibilities over in his mind when the late bell rang and the teacher called the class to attention. His voice droned on as he called out their names for attendance purposes.
"Isabella?" Mr. Banner frowned. He looked directly at Edward and then glanced around the room.
Before Edward could react or thumb through the teacher's thoughts, the classroom door opened. A number of heads whipped around to gawk at the latecomer.
"Sorry," Isabella Swan blushed. "My bag ripped and everything fell all over…"
He knew instantly that something was very wrong. Edward felt his chest constrict painfully when her delectable scent fanned towards him. His hands clenched under the desk and he marveled at this unprecedented reaction. The wonder swiftly turned to panic as she gently shut the door and walked slowly to his desk. She put her ruined messenger bag on the ground and slipped into the empty seat next to him, sneaking a shy look at him as she sat down.
Edward had already pushed his chair as far over as he could when he realized that his desk was her destination. As a result, there was nearly two feet of space between them and he was almost to the left of the black tabletop. She looked up at him again, quizzically this time, and opened her rosebud mouth to introduce herself.
He swallowed hard and faced the front of the classroom, rudely ignoring her and effectively shutting down any plans she had of speaking. He wanted her, desperately and completely, and the unparalleled desire was something he was not prepared to handle. The longer she sat next to him the more intoxicated he was by her fragrance. Violent fantasies ran through his mind until he thought he would snap and pluck her out of her seat, giving in to the dark impulses.
Edward placed his hands flat on his thighs and within minutes was gripping his legs tightly. His body was so stiff he was afraid someone would notice but he couldn't do a thing about it. He was afraid. If he so much as moved, he would surely lose control and sink his mouth into the lovely pale skin of Isabella's neck.
He closed his eyes and remembered his first real look of her. When she opened the door the first thing she had seen was Edward. He was directly in her line of vision. He watched her eyes widen, the blush stain her cheeks as she announced why she was late to the class, and then her curious look at him.
She was wearing jeans and a black, half-zipped hoodie. A dark blue t-shirt peeked out from her collar, where the hoodie lay open. She had long chestnut hair that curled at the ends and fell a few inches below her shoulders. She was thin and pale. Her eyes were a noteworthy shade of brown, fringed by thick black lashes. Her lips were undoubtedly her best feature. They were plump and the bottom lip was just a shade bigger. He knew she wasn't wearing any lip gloss or lipstick; the alluring pink was her natural color.
He inconspicuously held his breath. Another whiff of her forbidden blood would be the end of everything Carlisle had built for them in this town. Edward tried to distract himself and dissected his reaction to her, instead of Isabella herself. He had never wanted anyone so badly before, ever. No human had ever smelled so appetizing to him, or caused such a fierce longing inside of him. He ached with that desire.
Edward stayed frozen like that for the rest of class. He snuck glances at her from the corner of his eye whenever possible. He was aware of every move she made and every breath she took. Her right foot shook nervously, probably unconsciously. She bit her lip whenever she was deep in concentration and when the teacher lost her attention she doodled in the margin of her notebook. She held her body just as tightly as he did his and she steadfastly avoided looking at him, which he appreciated.
Edward was out of his seat a second before the bell rang, and was out of the classroom before it had finished sounding. He couldn't bear the idea of speaking to her. At least, not in public. Maybe under the cover of privacy, when he could play out his fantasies.
Edward decided it best to avoid her for the rest of the day but listened in with interest on any thoughts involving Isabella. He learned that she preferred Bella, did not seem very enthusiastic about the bleak weather that was the norm for Forks, and never had a boyfriend.
After school Edward tossed the keys to his Volvo to Jasper.
"I'm going out," he replied to Jasper's unspoken question. "Woods. Hunting."
Jasper frowned, tasting the atmosphere around Edward. He could read emotions as easily as Edward could read thoughts.
"What are you so excited about?" he asked.
"Maybe the new thing, the big thing, is here!" Alice chirped, sneaking up to Jasper's side. She smiled hugely at Edward.
Alice had been worried about him lately. He had been more moody than usual and his lack of interest towards anything was particularly out of character for him. Her thoughts were constantly searching for ways to cheer him up. Edward didn't like the fact that she could see so easily through his happy façade. He had always been so good at faking it.
"Maybe," he smiled, returning her grin. Alice's black hair was short and spiky, and the rocker cut contrasted with her heart-shaped face and sweet eyes.
"Have fun," Jasper shrugged.
Edward nodded his thanks and waved goodbye before striding away from the school. He left the road and entered the woods, and then took off running.
He ran faster than most cars, especially the ancient truck that Bella drove, so he made it to her house even before she did. Forks was a small town and he knew where everyone lived.
Edward watched from the forest as she parked her car in the driveway and then rested her forehead on the steering wheel. He listened to her breathing. After a moment she opened the door and tried to juggle her bag and all of her books, but dropped most of them. It took her two trips to get everything inside.
He could easily hear her moving around inside the house but that wasn't enough. He wanted to see her. This new game of his was dangerous, he knew. He should have told Alice and Jasper about Bella. The knowledge that Alice and Jasper knew about Bella would force him to behave.
The terrible hold Bella had on him, and his newfound obsession with her, could only lead to trouble. The very fact that he hadn't told them after school meant he was already in trouble. But Edward knew that if he did tell them, he wouldn't be here now, getting ready to see Bella. They would have insisted that he come home and talk to Carlisle.
Edward didn't want to share this secret. He didn't want to share Bella. Worse, he didn't want to give her up. He realized that he was walking on the fine edge of a knife - being this close to her, alone, could be disastrous. At the same time, though, he had to know if he could do it. He had to discover if he was strong enough to resist her.
Edward decided to get closer. He wanted to see her. Just as he was about to step forward from the dark canopy of trees, Bella's back door opened. She stepped outside and pulled the hood of her sweatshirt up over her hair. To his surprise, she started walking directly at him. Edward darted to the side, hiding in the shadows, and watched her pass just a few feet from him. She was blissfully unaware of his presence.
Edward stalked her silently. He stayed behind her and to the right, completely invisible. It was easier to ignore her scent outside in the open, but impossible to ignore the opportunities available to him. No one was here to help her. There were no witnesses.
Bella followed the trail but walked quickly, until her house couldn't be seen anymore. She suddenly came to a stop, and he froze, afraid that he had done something to alert her of his presence. She didn't look at him, and sank down on a flat rock on the edge of the trail. She brought her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around her legs, then rested her head on her knees. She stayed still for a moment and he was riveted by her helplessness. It was as if she knew he was there and offering him free reign.
She closed her eyes and Edward watched fat tears roll down her cheeks. She didn't move to wipe them away. He heard her breathing hitch and then the tears came in earnest. Soon she was sobbing, and her cries were hoarse and deep. Her pain was palpable.
Edward watched her cry and realized he couldn't hear her. Nothing, not a single thought. Surely she was thinking about something - whatever it was made her cry, perhaps. He felt a flicker of irritation. He had no idea what was upsetting her so much. He wondered how to make her feel better.
Shocked, he realized with a start that he actually wanted to make her feel better. For some odd reason, the crying girl struck a chord in his cold heart.
That morning had been like every other; life was the same boring routine as ever. Without warning, this girl consumed him. She was all he could think of - all he could see. The entire day he had been dreaming of the different ways he could have her. Now he had the chance but was unwilling to take it. Instead, her vulnerability was strangely touching and he felt a glimmer of protectiveness towards her.
Edward debated approaching her but couldn't think of a plausible way to explain his sudden appearance. He was also apprehensive about talking to her in general. He had experienced bloodlust before, and handled it without incident, but never felt anything of this magnitude.
More importantly, he had never felt so strongly for a human girl, or even a female vampire. This was more than a hint of protectiveness, as he originally thought. It was different. These strange, tender emotions gave him a flicker of hope, but he quickly buried it. He would never have what Carlisle had with Esme, or Jasper with Alice, or even Emmett with Rose. He had spent his life alone and would continue to do so for all eternity.
Still, Edward was reluctant to give her up. He wanted to talk to her. To see which would win - this unprecedented bloodlust, or these strange new feelings of attraction and concern. If the bloodlust did win, he hoped he would be able to get away from her before he truly harmed her.
His attention shifted when he heard something moving in the woods. It was far away, but not far enough for him to relax. He sniffed but caught nothing unusual but its predatory nature was unmistakable. Edward dropped to his haunches, in an attack position, and listened intently. He was unable to identify what it was but tensed when it began moving, and quickly.
The creature changed courses and it was headed directly for Bella. Edward's mouth flooded with venom and he stood quickly, ready to protect her. He struggled with his emotions, unsure if he wanted to protect her so he could have her, or if he wanted to protect her from anything at all dangerous, himself included. He shoved the thoughts aside, aware that he didn't have much time, and the most important thing right now was to Bella's safety.
Edward stood completely still behind the huge oak tree next to him. He waited for the creature to strike, to make its move.
"What are you doing here?" a cold voice barked.
Edward cocked his head, surprised and even more alarmed that he hadn't heard the creature as it made its final approach. It was impossible for a human to walk that silently. He left his tree and crept closer, watching the strange man glare angrily at Bella. She jumped so badly at the sound of his voice that she almost fell.
"I'm - I'm sorry," Bella stuttered. She stood up and wiped her eyes self-consciously. "I thought…I didn't know I wasn't allowed here. Is this private property?"
"You know your kind aren't permitted here," the man hissed. His eyes were wild with anger and outrage.
Edward realized at once that the man was a Quileute Indian, or at least related to them. He had never seen him before. The Cullens had made a pact with the Indians to never trespass on their land. The Quileutes knew them for what they really were - dangerous predators. The fact that the Cullens fed only on animals did not lessen the degree of danger they posed.
Bella looked stunned. "My kind?"
"I know what you are!" he snapped.
Edward studied the man closely but did not recognize him as Quileute from the reservation. His long black hair was pulled back into a pony tail. His white t-shirt was covered with a leather jacket, and he wore jeans. On the street he would have looked fairly harmless. Here in the woods, alone with Bella, his huge frame and menacing tone raised the hairs on the back of Edward's neck. He crept closer still.
"I think there's been a misunderstanding," Bella said uncomfortably. She began to edge away from him, clearly aware of the threat.
The man stepped forward and grabbed her arm but before he could drag her forward, or even think about it, Edward was at her other side.
"Bella? We should get going," he said in a low voice.
Bella looked up at him, her eyes wide in disbelief, and then she looked back at the stranger. She looked back and forth between them as if weighing which one was the bigger threat but didn't say anything.
"Your father will be waiting for us," Edward reminded her. "Let's go."
Her eyes swung to his face again, and she was undoubtedly confused, but she nodded and let him take her arm.
"You!" the man gasped. He let go of Bella's other arm and took a step back. His face was twisted into a mask of outrage. "It isn't her, it's you!"
"Go, Bella," Edward said urgently. He shoved her forward and stayed close to her, pushing her forward each time she began to stop. The man's mind was a cesspool of dark, jumbled thoughts. Nothing made sense but Edward felt certain he didn't intend to follow them.
"I know what you are, and you've broken the treaty!" the man bellowed from behind them. "We will come for you, demon!"
He didn't intend to follow them at the moment, Edward amended silently. Bella had balked at that comment and tried to turn around to look at the man but Edward tightened his grip on her arm and dragged her forward. He'd have to talk to Carlisle about this.
"You're hurting me!" Bella snapped. She tried to wriggle out of his iron grip but he ignored her and didn't relax until they reached her backyard.
"What's going on?" Bella demanded, her face an angry red. "Who was he? And why are you here?"
"I don't know," Edward said honestly. They hadn't been on Quileute land. Whoever the man was, he was confused. Edward didn't like him so close to Bella's house, clearly not well, with the ability to shape shift and so eager to shed blood.
"Why are you here?" Bella asked again. He noticed her voice had lost some of its fire. She glanced back into the dark woods and shivered.
"I was in the woods and I heard him yelling," Edward said quietly. He gestured to the house. "You should get inside."
Bella nodded and nervously tucked her hair behind her ear. He walked silently next to her with his hands shoved into his jeans to curb the impulse to touch her. He followed her around the house to the front door, instead of the back door that she exited from.
"Do you, um, want to come in?" she asked, her hand on the screen door.
"I better not," Edward frowned. "I'll see you in school."
He turned and walked away. He was almost to the sidewalk when he heard Bella call his name, and it was in such a tiny voice that he wondered if she wanted him to hear her or not. Edward paused and looked over his shoulder.
"Yes, Bella?" he asked.
It was a mistake. Bella knew as soon as his name fell from her lips that it was a mistake. She could tell that he didn't like her very much. That had been perfectly clear in school and even just now in the woods. Now his eyes burned into hers and she wished fervently that she had just kept her mouth shut.
There was no denying that he was gorgeous. He was tall and solid-looking, not bulging with muscles like his brother Emmett but not as slender as his other brother, Jasper. Bella knew firsthand how hard his muscles were from when he allowed her to clutch his arm on the way out of the woods. His eyes were the shade of warm butterscotch and his hair was so perfectly tousled that she had to wonder how long it took for him to style it that way.
"Charlie, my Dad, he'll be home in less than an hour. Do you think… is there any way you could stay here until he gets back?" she blushed. Her hands twisted together and she fidgeted nervously.
Honestly, if the guy from the woods hadn't been so terrifying, she wouldn't need to ask for help from someone she barely knew. She hated asking for help… especially from someone who made it so obvious that he couldn't care less about her. Still, Edward seemed undisturbed from the encounter and she found that wildly comforting.
He frowned at her again and his butterscotch eyes narrowed just a smidge. Bella felt another wave of regret. Under his gaze, she felt like a mess; too silly, too frightened, too anxious, too ordinary. She couldn't remember a time throughout the entire day when he looked at her with anything other than disdain on his ivory face.
"I suppose I can, if you think it's necessary," Edward responded stiffly. He approached her porch slowly and noticed the huge sigh of relief she gave, despite the apprehension still on her face.
"Thank you," Bella said gratefully. She turned and held the screen door for him. He came closer and reached out with his hand and held it open while she fumbled with the house key.
Bella was too aware of Edward standing behind her. Her clumsy fingers had trouble getting the key to cooperate and she blushed again, thankful he couldn't see her face. She finally unlocked the door and hastened inside.
"Do you want anything to drink?" she asked quickly. Edward followed her into the house and looked around curiously. He shut the front door and Bella ducked into the kitchen.
Edward could hear her rummaging through the cabinets. Old pictures of Bella and other people, likely other family members, adorned the walls. Charlie's home was outdated and shabby. It was clean but all of the furniture seemed ancient. There were no recent pictures of Bella. The house seemed frozen in time, and he guessed about eleven years earlier. He was fascinated. This was where Bella lived, where she came from.
"A drink? Or something to eat?" Bella called.
Edward suppressed a smile at her nervous rambling. He wondered if she was more anxious now than she had been out in the woods. Her heart was beating nearly as fast now as it had then. Perhaps she knew she was still in the presence of a predator.
"No, thank you," he said politely. She jumped and whirled around from the cabinet she had been looking through. "Sorry. I didn't mean to startle you."
"It's okay, I just didn't hear you," Bella smiled. She held up a box of graham crackers. "Do you want any?"
He declined again and she turned, but not before he saw the mixed emotions on her face. Edward mentally cursed himself. He was being rude, he knew, but it had been so long since he had to socialize with a human. The only time he really had any contact with them was at school, and if he was with one it was for a particular reason. Do the work, finish the lab, and then it was over. He didn't have that luxury right now.
To make it even more challenging was Bella herself. He was lucky that she broadcasted her feelings so clearly on her face because he still wasn't able to read her mind. That added to her intrigue; it turned her into an enticing puzzle that he wanted to work out.
Bella was burning with anxiety. She didn't know what to do with him, or what to even say. She glanced at the clock and groaned internally at the forty excruciating minutes she would have to muddle through. She took a big bite into a graham cracker, nonchalantly acting as though having beautiful men in her kitchen was something she did on a regular basis. Of course, Edward chose that moment to ask her a question, and she choked on the crumbs in shock.
"Um, what?" she croaked, gulping from her glass of water. "Sorry. What did you say?"
He watched her calmly and Bella gritted her teeth in irritation. It was nice of him to ask if she was all right, Bella fumed. He just watched her like she was an idiot.
"I asked if you like Forks so far," Edward repeated. She was a curious little thing, he thought. Bella was constantly moving - breathing, beating, looking, blushing. She was such a refreshing change from his family. Unless they were putting on a show for humans, vampires moved only for specific purposes. There was no fidgeting.
"It's okay," Bella said carefully.
"Just okay?" he repeated. Edward sat down in one of the scarred wooden chairs and rested his hands on the smooth tabletop. Bella watched him and after a moment sat across from him.
"It's a lot different from Arizona," she shrugged. She took a tentative sip of water.
"Yes," Edward nodded. He let out a laugh. The last time he had driven through Arizona was with Jasper, and their car windows had been tinted so dark that an officer had tried to pull them over. The tint was necessary, considering they were vampires. "Much sunnier."
Bella nodded but didn't know how to respond, so she said nothing. She could feel Edward's eyes on her again but didn't want to look at him. He unnerved her so much.
"So…" he trailed off. Determined to be polite, he grasped for another topic to discuss. Awkward silence was not polite. "Your truck. It's a wreck."
Bella's eyes shot to his face and she looked offended. He hastily backtracked. "It looks great, lots of character but I thought I heard some rattling in the engine. And your muffler needs to be replaced."
"I just got it," Bella mumbled quietly. "My Dad got it for me."
Her voice was small and he knew at once that he had upset her. Edward felt chagrined by the small wrinkle in her forehead and wondered desperately how he could make it up to her.
"I could look at it," he offered.
Bella's expression was just as shocked as he felt. He could look at her car? Rosalie was the true mechanic in the Cullen family, but Edward knew the basics. He would undoubtedly be able to fix it up. Still, he was jarred by his sudden need to please her and how quickly he offered to help her.
"That'd be great," Bella replied. Her grateful words didn't match the lingering confusion still on her face. She took a deep breath and sat back in her chair. "So, what is there to do for fun around here?"
This time Edward regarded her with mild surprise. He had absolutely no idea how to respond to her question. He certainly didn't spend his spare time the same way as the rest of the male population at Forks High did. "The woods are nice to explore. There isn't much in the way of shops, which you probably already know. Most people go to Port Angeles to do the majority of their shopping."
"Hiking," she repeated glumly.
"Not a fan?" he guessed.
Bella laughed and Edward froze, stunned by the sweetness of her laughter. He watched her intently and drank in the way her eyes crinkled as her lips parted into a smile, and he savored the warmness in her eyes when she looked at him. He tucked away the image and saved it for later, when he could replay it over and over again.
"I'm not very athletic," Bella explained. "My coordination skills leave something to be desire. Actually…they leave a lot to be desired."
He forced himself to laugh despite the sinking feeling in his stomach. Her self-conscious confession made her even more appealing. She was so different. Different than the girls at Forks, different from all of the girls at all of the high schools he had attended, and different than any female vampire he had encountered. She didn't try to impress him. She didn't even seem attracted to him, which in itself was a whole new experience for Edward.
The bitter knowledge that all of this meant nothing ate at him. Edward wondered why he was torturing himself; why he was finding out all of this trivial information about her. It made him like her even more and that would only hurt him in the end, because he had no future with Bella. Not even as friends.
"What about you?" Bella asked, interrupting him from his downward spiral of self-pity. "You don't play sports."
He nodded at her statement, noting that it wasn't a question.
"Jessica told me," she shrugged, blushing again at his stare.
"She's correct," Edward confirmed.
"But why?" Bella asked. She looked pointedly at his chest and arms. "You look…strong. Are you as clumsy as me?"
"No," he laughed. "No, I'm not clumsy. I enjoy sports but haven't joined any teams. I'm not very social, I suppose."
"So what do you do?"
"Read. I like music, old movies," he replied. He shrugged, uncomfortable at the intensity he saw in her eyes. Uncomfortable at the fact that he weighed his words and wondered how she felt about his answer.
Bella nodded. "Me too. On all accounts."
"Favorite book," he challenged.
"That's a tough one," Bella laughed, and he was delighted. "If I had to choose… well, I wouldn't be able to pick just one. I will read just about anything but my top two picks are "Where the Red Fern Grows," by Wilson Rawls, and "Gone with the Wind," by Margaret Mitchell."
"I've never read "Where the Red Fern Grows," Edward frowned. "And I've read a lot."
"Gone with the Wind?" Bella asked with a smile.
Edward nodded and looked almost embarrassed, but smiled. "It was so popular when it came out. I had to see what was so wonderful about it."
"And yours? What are your favorites?"
"The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn" reminds me of my childhood," he replied. Bella thought she detected some sadness in his smooth voice and looked at him closely. When he looked up though, she could see nothing to indicate she was right. "Song?"
Bella smirked and rolled her eyes, surprised that she was starting to enjoy herself. "If I couldn't pick a favorite book than there's no way I could pick a favorite song."
"Try," Edward pleaded, leaning into the table slightly. His fascinated expression enthralled her, and she gazed in his eyes for far too long.
"Um," she said finally, a bit breathlessly. "My favorites…Fields of Gold, The Very Thought of You, Brahm's Lullaby, I Only Have Eyes for You, My Girl…"
"That's an eclectic mix," Edward frowned. "Some of those are from the '30s."
"My Mom likes a lot of different music," Bella shrugged. "I grew up listening to a lot of different genres. How did you know they're from the '30s? What do you listen to?"
Edward hesitated, and then smiled ruefully. He stood and pushed his chair in. "Another time, maybe. Charlie is here and I should be getting home."
Bella swallowed hard, wondering at the rush of disappointment she felt. "Okay. Thanks for staying. I feel a lot better."
"You're welcome," he said softly. He held her eyes for a minute more and then walked out of the room.
Bella remained in her seat, frozen. Unexpected feelings whizzed around inside of her head. She rested her elbow on the table and put her chin in her hand. Edward Cullen was an enigma. Despite his behavior at school, and his erratic moods, she was afraid she was beginning to like him. She had a feeling that she had seen a side of him that very few people had, and Bella wondered if he would be back to ignoring her tomorrow.
The next morning Bella got to class early in hopes that she and Edward would continue their discussion. She even took the time to style her hair and frame it attractively around her face. She felt ridiculous, of course; she had never stooped to primping for a guy.
Edward slipped into class at the exact moment the late bell rang. Bella ignored her nerves and glanced over at him with a smile.
"Hi," she whispered.
Edward looked at her and nodded but then focused his attention on the blackboard. Bella felt her cheeks burn at his dismissal and she turned away from him, pretending to need something out of her new messenger bag. She swallowed hard and pulled out a notebook. She spent the rest of the period pretending to be zoned out. She filled up page after page of random doodles in an attempt to be less aware of Edward's overwhelming presence.
She was disappointed by his attitude. Okay, maybe she was a little more than disappointed. Bella didn't have a lot of experience with guys but she didn't imagine the way he looked at her last night. It was the memory of his eyes, liquid gold and brimming with emotion, that gave her the courage do what she had planned.
As the bell rang, Bella slipped her well-worn copy of "Where the Red Fern Grows" across the table. Edward, in the process of getting up, had stopped. She couldn't look at him, her courage bank was empty, and she fled the classroom before he could speak.