It was just another day.
I pulled my arms tighter around my chest as I realised I didn't look forward to anything anymore.
It was almost as if I was lost, in this massive swarm of parkas, jeans and scarves that was school.
West Seattle High was huge.
There was no possible way you could know everyone.
Not even if you tried. Even as I trudged through the packed corridors, I willed myself to put down all the faces to memory.
It was to no avail. No one stood out. And neither would I.
I snapped myself out of my musings as I reached for the handle of room 46. First period I always had trig.
At least Jess would dig me out of my rut.
There she was, her mousy-brown locks falling past her shoulders as she waved me over.
I just smiled back, I was careful not to let anyone see my inner hate of the world.
'Bella,' she greeted, her blue eyes shining, 'you'll never believe what I just heard.'
Yes, Jess liked to gossip.
It was my way of catching up on things around me.
I just grinned back enthusiastically, willing her to continue.
'James and Vic,' she raised both eyebrows in hinting, 'are together.'
I tried to look shocked, but really it was bound to happen. Victoria Campbell had a knack of getting what she wanted.
'Actually, I'm not surprised,' I replied nonchalantly, and I really wasn't.
'True,' Jess shrugged, she just liked to have something to talk about.
James and Victoria were well known at this school for a number of reasons. Firstly, James is the signature bad boy that everyone digs thanks to Fight Club and secondly, Victoria was the feisty redhead who knew what she wanted and how to get it.
I honestly didn't give a shit. But Jess thought it was 'major'. So I went along with her little gossip session.
After an hour of passing notes, the lesson finished.
And it was time to walk the crowded hallways yet again. This time I was going to look out for Victoria and James, perhaps they were walking together now.
Then I decided I would stop trying to even care.
Because we both know I don't.
So I mulled over stupid, pointless things while I walked. I thought about my biology assignment, silently cursing the boring and empty seat next to mine.
It was the only class I sat by myself. And I did so voluntarily. Mike was nice, but he could be a pain in the arse.
Speaking of the pain...
'Bella,' he called as I walked through the doorway. I stopped myself rolling my eyes. God, even his voice irritated me. Be nice Bella, I scolded myself.
'Hi Mike,' I smiled at him, watching as his blonde head found its way to me. He crouched down in front of my desk, willing to make eye contact. I swiftly kept my head down. It was weird for me.
'Do you want me to sit with you today?' he would ask like every other day. He didn't quite take the hint. It was like a stupid fly that would leave you alone no matter how many times you swatted it away.
'It's okay, really Mike,' I tried to be as nice as pie. He still looked hopeful.
'Bella,' a deeper voice addressed me from behind. I swivelled in my chair and I locked eyes with Jasper Hale. His strangely golden eyes were imploring as he ruffled his messy blonde hair.
'We're partnering up today,' he started with a smile, 'do you want to partner with me?'
Jasper Hale had never spoken to me before. He was royalty like James and Victoria. Why would he speak to me?
'Umm, well okay,' I replied as he moved his bag off the seat next to him.
I left Mike dumbfounded as I went to sit with Jasper.
And sure enough, we were partnering up. I had to wonder how Jasper knew that. But before I could ask, he turned to me, making conversation.
'How much do you hate Mr. Banner's moustache?'
I did a double-take. Jasper was asking me about our biology teacher. What was the world coming to?
'Yeah, it's ugly,' I stated bemused, he seemed to notice the awkwardness between us.
'Well, tell me Bella,' he said while opening his notebook, 'what topic do you want to do. I mean I think the ethical issues of genetic engineering would be more interesting than the Krebs cycle.'
I considered that a moment. But he bought me out of my quiet musings yet again.
'Do you always bite your bottom lip like that?' he asked and I stopped immediately.
'No,' I said embarrassed, 'I don't even realise I do it.'
It was the truth.
'Well it's cute,' his lips curled into a bright smile, 'sometimes my girlfriend does it.'
I knew who he spoke of straight away.
Alice Cullen. They were inseparable at school.
'Alice?' I asked him, he nodded.
'She'd like you I think,' Jasper said, thinking.
I thought about that for a moment, I didn't think she would have a problem with anybody. It was Jasper's twin sister who would have any issues.
Rosalie Hale scared the living shit out of me.
Jasper laughed, his quiet chuckling made me turn to him.
'What?' I asked, shocked.
'Nothing,' he began while putting his arms down on the desk, leaning on them, 'you looked a little scared then.'
I waved him off. I didn't want to admit I was petrified of his beautiful, blonde sister.
We kept silent for a moment before he decided to speak.
'Do you have a car?'
I shook my head, 'I walk home.'
'Well where do you live?' his body turned to face me now.
'About ten minutes away,' I replied, letting my eyes look at his, 'on Adelaide Street.'
His eyes lit up then, 'I live on Adelaide Street too.'
'What?' I said in disbelief.
'Just on the corner of Adelaide Street and Brisbane Boulevard,' he grinned back at me. I laughed humourlessly.
Only in Seattle would something like this happen.
'So we have lived on the same street for years and didn't even know it?' I said, incredulous.
'Apparently so,' he winked, 'I can take you home now and you'll meet Alice eventually.'
I smiled, I mean really smiled for the first time today.
It was such a small world really.
The rest of the day passed in a blur. By last period I was eager to meet Jasper and Alice in the student car park. And sure enough they were there.
Alice was standing coolly beside him. They looked so good together.
'Bella,' she called when I was within ear-shot, 'I'm Alice, and it's great to meet you.'
I nodded as she bounded up to me, only reaching my shoulder in height.
'You don't have to worry,' she grinned as she pulled me into a tight hug.
I looked at her, confused. Why would I be worried?
'Rose rides with Emmett.'
I looked back at her, mouth agape, 'how-?'
'Everyone's scared of her.'
Jasper ruffled his girlfriend's hair, pulling her in to a half-hug, 'let's go ladies.'
The ride in Jasper's modified Chevrolet was fun. Alice sat in the front, her head turned towards me as we talked about everything.
'So you live with your Dad?' she asked, the wind whipping her short spiky hair about her pale face.
'Yeah, but he's always out with mates, 'I admitted, 'we don't bond.'
Alice had to laugh at that. And I joined her.
It sounded ridiculous even to my ears.
The car then slowed to a stop on a very long paved driveway.
'Well Alice, I'll see you tomorrow,' Jasper said, bending to kiss her when she swatted him away.
'I'm still talking!' she chided.
'Right...' he mumbled, sitting back as we finished our conversation.
'So you should sit with us at lunch tomorrow,' she said before leaning over and kissing Jasper.
'Okay Jazz,' she flirtatiously blinked a few times for his benefit, 'I'll see you tomorrow.'
And like that, Alice was gone.
I watched her little body bounce up the path to the most expensive looking house I had ever seen.
My jaw dropped. That was unreal.
So I hopped in the front, banging the big doors as I went. And I took another look at the beautiful wrap-around porch that was perched on the second storey. The entire house was white, and it was elegant.
Jasper started the ignition as he rolled back out of Alice's drive.
I briefly noticed a silver Volvo parked in front of us. It must be her parents' car or maybe even Emmett's.
'So about your mom,' Jasper started cautiously, he sensed it might have been a touchy subject, 'where is she now?'
I looked out the window, watching as the autumn trees flashed by quickly.
'I actually don't know,' I said after a few moments.
Jasper didn't ask me anything further after that.
Turning down our street, he parked in my driveway and turned off the ignition.
'Do you want to come in?' I asked. None of my friends had ever been inside, not even Jessica. But he had just given me a ride home, so I thought I'd better ask.
'Okay,' he undid his seatbelt, climbing out.
Once we were inside, I threw my schoolbag down onto the couch and went upstairs.
Jasper followed, admiring all the photos of my mother as he walked up the carpeted steps.
Then we were in my room, I sat on my bed and he walked straight over to my stereo.
'What kind of gold do we have here?' he asked brightly, hitting play.
The light guitar strokes of Oasis hit my ears.
'Is this Champagne Supernova?'
I nodded, loving the sound.
Jasper kept rifling through my small collection of CDs before giving up and sitting down on my bed next to me.
'Your room reminds me of Rose's,' he said quietly, still taking it all in.
It wasn't much, but it was mine.
He looked through my many photos of foreign places. Places I had never been. The Eiffel Tower, the Sydney Opera House, the Colosseum all stood in black and white.
'So were you shocked about James and Victoria?' I asked just to make conversation.
He snorted, 'not really, it won't last though.'
I didn't say anything; I couldn't blame him for saying it either. I couldn't even see it lasting.
'Oh by the way,' he turned to face me, 'James is throwing a party this weekend. You should go.'
I looked at him in disbelief. Honestly what was he thinking?
'I'll ask Alice to sort something out... You'll come with us.'
And before I could protest, Jasper was leaving.
'I can pick you up tomorrow,' he stated casually. When did people start being so nice? I just shook my head anyway, 'it's okay, honestly. I like to walk.'
Jasper rolled his eyes, 'no one likes walking. I'll see you at eight.'
Right... I was now officially riding in Jasper Hale's car. Well, why not, we did live in the same street after all.
The next day all everyone was talking about was James' big party. I wasn't even contemplating going. Why would I?
And truth to her word, Alice sat with me at lunch, opting to force herself into the company of Jess and Mike for an hour.
I wasn't quite comfortable sitting with the 'cool' kids just yet. Maybe when we graduate and leave, I might be ready.
Graduation loomed, it was less than a year away. And I still had no idea what to do with myself.
I just watched as Alice tried to make small talk with Jessica, and really failed. Jess was still reeling that someone from that group was talking to us.
It was pathetic.
I just rolled my eyes as Alice laughed awkwardly.
So I stood up, nudging my head in the direction of the grounds outside. The cafeteria got tedious sometimes.
Alice followed. Her signature bounce was intact as we passed her usual table. Just curious glances were all we got. No doubt everyone wondering what Alice was doing hanging about with a tomboy freak.
Well, I didn't care. I liked Alice enough to ignore her stupid friends.
We found ourselves walking out through the double doors and into the cloudy light of the West Seattle School grounds.
'So, are you excited about James' party?' she asked as she giggled beside me.
'Ah, Alice,' I hesitated, 'I don't know if I'm going to go.'
Her cute face fell into a puppy pout. Oh boy, what was she doing to me?
'Why is that?' she asked still pouting.
'I haven't been to a house party. It's not really my thing,' I shrugged, my sweater moving over my skin at the movement. It tickled...
'Well, if you're scared that you won't fit in, both of my brothers will be there.'
I turned to face her, letting surprise spread over my features.
'Both of your brothers..?' I asked, not realising she had two.
She beamed up at me and her eyes were a dark topaz, 'yeah... Emmett and Edward are my brothers.'
'Does Edward go here?' I asked. I'd never heard of him before.
'Yeah,' she giggled, 'he's meant to be in biology with you and Jasper but he's been ditching the whole time.'
My eyes widened, 'how does he ditch and keep up?'
'He gets bored easily,' she played with the loose strands of her hair, 'and he already took the class last year.'
My eyes widened. I hadn't heard of this guy before. What the...
'You'll meet him on Friday night anyway,' Alice dismissed the subject and started relaying plans for my makeover. Christ.
Friday night my hair was done, all wavy and shiny.
My clothes went from tomboy to decent. Alice had put me in a pair of jeans and a nice red sweater.
It was still a little tomboyish, but I looked nice. She had placed minimal makeup on my face, just some powder and mascara before swivelling me around on the chair in my room.
I looked like me, just more refined. I liked it.
'Thanks Alice,' I said while I admired my new hair.
'Sure thing,' she beamed down at me, 'now let's get going.'
I watched her as she strode out the room. Her tight jeans were accompanied by an expensive looking sweater under a hip-length, stylish black jacket.
She stood in the doorway then, turning around to face me as she pulled on her black beret. She looked very cute.
'Ready?' she asked as I nodded and followed her out the door.
Her car was a yellow Porsche. Of course it would be.
'Jesus Christ Alice,' I let out a long whistle as I hopped in the front seat.
'It was my birthday present last year, 'she patted the dashboard, 'and Edward picked it out.' I just shook my head. That was amazing.
'So what's this party going to be like?' I asked, raising my eyebrow at her.
'Boring for the most-part,' she admitted, 'it's all about making an appearance.'
I cringed, 'great.'
'Don't worry Bella, I'll introduce you to my brothers and you'll be fine.'
I sincerely doubted it.
And there we were, stepping out of Alice's Porsche onto a cobbled stone drive that held dozens of other cars. There just a few spaces down, sat that silver Volvo.
'Ah, not that rapper shit again,' Alice whined. And sure enough, as we reached the house, all that could be heard were head-banging rap beats.
'Is this what it's always like?' I asked, incredulous.
'Yep, 'she sighed, grabbing my hand and pulling me along with her, 'and you're not backing out now.'
'Sheesh,' I started, 'don't be so eager.'
'Just watch me, Bella.' Then she laughed, letting go of my hand as we made our way in through the front door.
The house was beautiful. Probably nicer than even Alice's, but I didn't focus on such things. Instead I followed Alice through the crowd until we both spotted Jasper sitting casually with James and Emmett.
'Jazz,' Alice rushed up to his side, kissing his cheek, 'I've missed you.'
'I've missed you too,' he snuggled his face into her neck, kissing her.
It was awkward for me, so I looked away. That was until Emmett addressed me.
'So Bella,' he began in his deep voice, 'what do you think about West Seattle High?'
I looked at him, confused, 'it's great.'
'So what school did you come from?' he asked genuinely. I couldn't help but laugh at him and how serious he was.
'I've only ever gone to West Seattle High.'
He looked dumbfounded at first, but enlightenment crossed his features as he realised what I meant. I just rolled my eyes. Boys...
'Hey Em,' Alice called from her position on Jasper's lap, 'where's Edward?'
Emmett shrugged, 'he's probably outside somewhere.'
'Seriously man,' I heard Jasper start to say to James, 'this music is fucking awful.'
James just shrugged, his dirty blonde hair falling limply over the leather of his jacket.
'Vic likes it.'
Everybody sat awkwardly in the silence as the song changed.
'I can hook my iPod up,' I said and Jasper grinned brightly.
'Yeah, okay,' James hopped up, deciding to show me to the stereo.
He showed me to the massive setup he had. I couldn't help but be entranced as he casually strode through huddled groups of people.
He strutted more than strode. It was like he had a purpose, with everything. Even just to get a hold of new music.
He stopped abruptly, so suddenly that I accidently hit into the back of him.
'Well,' he smirked as I straightened myself out. I was always awkward and clumsy. It was just my nature.
'I'm sorry,' I mumbled, too embarrassed to look him in the eye.
'That's alright,' James smoothly placed his rough hand on my hip. He kept it there while I stood gaping at it.
He must have got the hint that I was uncomfortable, so he dropped it.
I just pulled out my silver iPod and held it out to him.
'Just hit the play button,' I said quietly as he took it.
The next moment the music changed, the rhythmic beating of drums from The Panics began to play.
'I like it,' he turned back to me with a glint in his eye.
'I love a girl with good taste in music.'
I cocked an eyebrow, wondering why he was looking at me that way while he was with another girl.
'I mean, I like brunettes with a good taste in music,' he was clearly trying his luck as he started twirling a piece of my hair between his calloused fingers.
I just looked at him, disgust written all over my face, 'you're with Victoria.'
'Who are you talking about?' he asked, mock innocence colouring his tone.
Then he smiled wryly before gripping my hip like he had before.
'Your girlfriend,' I said awkwardly. I just couldn't build up enough courage to tell him where to go.
'What girlfriend,' he asked slyly, smirking yet again.
I huffed loudly.
I'd had enough by the time he leant down to rub his god-awful lips against mine.
Without a word, I pushed him off me and went straight for the door. I wasn't hanging around here with that arsehole.
The closest door was to a balcony outside, I didn't even think before I strode outside and went straight for the railings. I stopped short, just holding my hands on the cool metal as I let the cold night air tickle my face.
Then I heard him.
It was just a slight noise from behind me. I could smell the cigarette smoke from where I stood.
I turned around as he held the cigarette to his lips, drawing in the mixture of tobacco and nicotine. He didn't look at me as I stood gaping at him like a fool. Well I couldn't help it anyway.
He had this rugged look about him as he stood leaning against the wall on the opposite side of the balcony. It was like no one cared for him but he didn't mind nonetheless.
I watched him as he let out a gust of air, letting the cigarette smoke swirl around his pale face and handsome bronze hair.
His black leather jacket was just slightly open.
The collar was flipped up, grazing the side of his tight, square jaw.
He was a sight to see, even as he focused his hard green eyes on mine. It was as though I had invaded his personal space by being here, on his balcony.
And then James stumbled through the same door I had, he found me and made his way over.
It was as though he hadn't even seen the person standing before me.
I let my eyes stray from the perfect planes of the stranger's face, only to assess the threat James offered.
The latter stood before me, eyes hungry as though he'd been looking for me.
'Where have you been Bella?' he asked with a sneer, approaching me.
I briefly thought about kneeing him in the groin as he kept getting closer, his slimy way of walking served as a signal to just do it.
But as he got close enough to touch me, the stranger spoke.
'Fuck off James,' he said only loud enough for us to hear. His voice was deep, hoarse from the cigarette smoke.
'Wha-'James began before the stranger cut him off.
'She clearly isn't interested,' he said in between casual draws of his cigarette.
James huffed as he kept pushing it, coming close enough to breathe down my neck. I could feel his hot breath itch at my skin. My breathing quickened, approaching hyperventilation.
'Victoria's just inside,' the man spoke again, and she really was at the glass door. But she wasn't looking, even as I backed away, right up against the railing.
'Fuck,' James swore, exasperated.
But he left me alone, walking quickly through the door, shutting it loudly.
I let my breath slow down to its normal speed.
I felt myself come away from the railing as I locked eyes with the man while he stood, putting out his cigarette.
'Thanks,' I said quietly, gathering my thoughts.
He shrugged, running his right hand through his thick hair.
'What's this song called?' he asked genuinely interested. I listened for a moment and then rolled my eyes.
'It's Oasis,' I said as I crossed my arms. What a perfect song to be playing. Then I thought about getting my iPod back from James. Would I ever see it again?
'Champagne Supernova,' he stated more than asked.
I was a little shocked.
And he didn't seem to notice.
'What's your name?' he said, jolting me out of my reverie.
I blinked gracelessly. Yes I had briefly forgotten everything.
'Uh, Bella Swan,' I finished lamely. He smirked at me, extending a hand.
'I'm Edward Cullen.'