Alice avoided my eyes. My father had always commented on how I could easily read someone's face and right now, to me, her emotions were as visible as an open book. I saw sadness, guilt, anger, hate-random flashes of different feelings that didn't last longer than a second. I took that as a yes.
"But you said the future can change, right?" I asked hastily. I needed to know, to be reassured, that my future wasn't set in stone. There was obviously nothing I could do to change the past, but if there was even the slightest sliver of hope for the future, I could be content.
Alice nodded slowly, still not looking at me.
"What, Alice?" I said, a little sharper than I meant to. In a gentler voice, I added, "What's wrong? Have you seen something?"
She finally caved in and gazed at me, golden eyes troubled. "It's what I haven't seen that's bothering me. Your future was hard to see before, but now it's even more complex. You're going to have several paths before you, I think. Your decisions, whatever they may be, will change your future forever. Only you have the power to decide if it takes a turn for the good."
Ugh, this was all getting so deep and complicated! Where was the normal life I had been waiting for? I would even be content with a future where I would always have to be human, avoiding who I was. I didn't care that people were always told to 'be themselves'. I didn't want to face who I was, what I'd been since my birth. I didn't need to be torn between humans and vampires, vampires and werewolves. Why couldn't I just be human?
I was suddenly missing the happy, bubbly Alice. Where had she gone? Why was this sad, serious Alice left in her place? I closed my eyes, resisting the urge to cover them with my hands. I didn't need to hide from the world-I just needed time to think. Alice saw my distress.
"Of course," she added hastily, "You don't need to worry about any of that right now. I can't tell exactly when you'll have to be ready to make life-changing choices. It could be years from now. Or the future could change, and you'll never have to make them."
I knew she was trying to make me feel better, and I appreciated that. But I also knew she was wrong. I would always have to make those decisions-starting with how long I would be allowed to live in Forks. Then there were my friends-I wanted to trust Elizabeth, but I was sure she didn't want to hear that the new girl was half-vampire. And I didn't need to accidentally suck her blood, either.
"Anyway," Alice let out a huge sigh, blowing her sweet floral vampire smell right at me. I caught myself wondering how I smelled to humans, if vampires couldn't smell me at all. "I should go."
I glanced over my shoulder and saw Edward leaning against his Volvo, waiting with his eternal patience for Alice. Bella was already in the car, and I wondered why Edward wasn't seating next to her. Then I saw a quick movement inside the car-Bella was trying in vain to look around Edward. I realized that Edward was purposefully blocking Bella's view of our conversation. I was beginning to think Edward was a bit paranoid, and then was again glad he couldn't read my thoughts. But what if my conversation with Alice had been enough to stress me out? I side-glanced at Edward, but his face was as blank and emotionless as usually.
I turned back to Alice, who gave me a quick hug before slipping away. She slid gracefully into the backseat, waving at me as Edward pulled out of the lot. My father's Taurus rolled up a few moments later.
"Do anything interesting in school today?"
I told my father about Elizabeth and my other new friends. He seemed ecstatic, as if I was in preschool and had just told him I knew how to spell my name. But I wasn't sure if some of his happiness came from the fact that he wanted me to know people other than the Cullens.
By the time we reached our house, my father had exhausted his reserve of questions. He still managed to smile as if he had just won the lottery.
When I emerged from the car, I was immediately caught up in his tight embrace. "Lila," he murmured. "I'm so proud of you. I know it was hard, adjusting to a new school, and keeping your-your secret. But you've done it. I'm so proud of you."
I smiled into his jacket, wrapping my arms around him. I leaned into his sturdy frame, breathing in the outdoorsy scent that seemed to follow him everywhere. "I love you, Dad."
"I love you so much, Lila."
I heard a single, loud knock on my window.
I sat up, slowly removing the headphones that had covered my ears and shut out the world for the past hour. Somehow, past the loud lyrics and the instruments accompanying them, I had managed to hear the knock. I assumed that was the half-vampire coming out in me.
I stretched my legs, then my arms, feeling the muscles stretching and contracting. After lying immobile with the music screaming in my ears for so long, it was good to be moving.
Then it finally hit me-something was knocking on my window. That was strange even when I knew vampires-and apparently werewolves-existed.
I eased open my window-glancing uneasily over my shoulder as I did so. I didn't need my father thinking that I was trying to sneak out, especially since I was apparently starting to become 'normal'. He would think my new friends were 'bad influences' and keep me in lock down for weeks.
I stuck my head through the window, squinting through the oncoming darkness and trying to see what was out there. The woods near our house could have concealed anything. Shadows everywhere were growing longer and providing ample coverage for someone who needed to hide. I couldn't see anyone from my point of view.
"Psst!" I heard a voice call from above-the last place I would have expected. Who could have been on the roof? "Move away from the window!"
"Alice?" I asked, confused. I was still a little dazed from the blood rushing to my head so quickly. Maybe I was hearing things. Maybe I should just shut the window because I'd imagined it all . . .
I obeyed the voice, though my stomach was twisting and warning me that this might not be a good idea. I walked over to my bed and sat on it as gingerly as if it were a live grenade.
A figure swung into my window, presumably coming from the roof. I stared at it in window. The thing had a human shape, so it couldn't be a random monster. Then, I saw it shake out short, spiky hair while it picked imaginary lint off of its clothing. Definitely Alice.
"What are you doing here?" I hissed, racing over to my door on light feet and shutting it as quietly as I could manage. I knew my dad didn't have vampire hearing, but he still wasn't exactly deaf. "Why couldn't you just come through the door like any sane person would?"
Alice shrugged, unfazed by the angry tone of my voice. "You really need more color in your room," she said absentmindedly.
"Um. Okay." I blinked once, trying to figure out if the only reason she came over was to judge my room and its apparent lack of color. I decided that even Alice wouldn't be so silly as to waste a visit on something as unimportant as that. I crossed my arms, leaning against my wall and waiting for her to get on with whatever she wanted.
"We talked to Sam after school, and he agreed to see you tomorrow. Ask your dad if Edward can pick you up after school tomorrow. Tell him you're going to hang out with him and Bella."
I stared at Alice. "Who's Sam?"
"Oh, that's right. You don't know much about the pack, do you?" At my blank stare, she smiled and continued. "Sam is the leader of the pack. You'll meet everyone tomorrow."
I nodded and mulled over what she'd said. I hated to lie to my father, but it was completely necessary. He accepted the fact that I was half-vampire, but I think he was grateful that I was still half-human. He didn't need to know that the Cullens were vampires, or that werewolves existed. If he knew that a werewolf was a vampire's sworn enemy, and that there was a pack of werewolves living nearby, we would move away so fast I wouldn't even have a chance to say goodbye to Elizabeth.
"Okay," I sighed. "I guess I don't really have a choice. I'll meet them tomorrow."
Alice smiled at me, sensing my unease. She danced over, enveloping me in a hard embrace. "Don't worry. I think they'll like you enough to keep you here."
"Wait," I said, trying to pull back. It was hard-Alice was much stronger than I was. "Can't you see what their decision will be?"
Alice shook her head. "I can't see anything in the future that involves a werewolf."
"That's extremely inconvenient," I muttered, frowning deeply.
"I know," Alice agreed, before hugging me again. She released me from her iron grip and was across the room in a flash, calling out, "I'll see you tomorrow, Lila!"
She disappeared into the night. I gazed after her, but she was only visible for a moment as she darted gracefully into the woods. I turned back to my bed and my music. It was going to be a long night.