Chapter 1 – Assigned Seating
Rosalie Hale took a long drag of her cigarette as she looked out over the student parking lot of Forks High School. She hated mornings when she arrived earlier than her friends. It meant that she stood on the outskirts of the campus doing what she considered losers to do: stand around alone.
Finally she saw the perfectly styled coif of her friend, Alice, come into view. Alice was bedecked in a Forks High School cheerleader's uniform. Immediately a grin came to Rosalie's face.
"That's right! It's Thursday. I get to make fun of you all day for wearing that ridiculous get-up!" Rosalie taunted her friend.
"Say what you must," Alice feigned irritation, "but it's a small price to pay for my baby over there." Alice pointed her key alarm towards a flamboyant yellow Porsche that she'd parked across two parking spaces.
Alice's parents were high society seekers. Though her father was an attorney and her mother an interior designer, they amassed more debt than the income they accumulated in an attempt to appear financially successful. As long as Alice played a part in their perfectly crafted façade, they showered her with whatever she wanted. So while their daughter placated them as a cheerleader and honor student to have her needs met, Alice lived on the wild side with her friends – preferring to be labeled an outcast, just like them.
"I don't think your skirt is short enough," Rosalie continued to poke fun at Alice.
"I said the same thing this morning," Alice said as she pulled her skirt a little higher while reaching for Rosalie's cigarette. She wasn't about to succumb to her friend's ribbing.
Now that Rosalie was no longer alone, she felt comfortable enough to engage in her second favorite pastime: giving the underclassmen hell.
"Hey!" She called out to an unsuspecting freshman. "Did I say you could look at me? Get outta here!"
The small girl scuttled away quickly.
Alice couldn't help but laugh. "One of these days someone is going to say something back to you," she said.
"And I'll beat their ass," Rosalie said with an affirmative nod.
Soon Rosalie grew tired of her antics, and began her absolute, first-of-all, favorite activity: scouring the campus for Edward Cullen.
"Have you talked to Jasper? Are he and Edward coming to school today?" Rosalie tried to conceal her motive.
Alice didn't appear to be fooled. "I talked to Jasper last night before he and Edward went out. I think they were out pretty late. I'd be surprised if they showed up for first period." She eyed Rosalie carefully as she spoke. "He said Edward was meeting someone there."
Rosalie's eyes snapped toward Alice at the utterance of her friend's words. However, she quickly realized how she appeared and moved to amend her action immediately. "Oh, yeah. I forgot he said something about that. Where'd they go again?"
"Some club," Alice shrugged. Her body language communicated that she was extremely bored with the conversation.
"Why was Edward meeting up with someone?" Rosalie asked as she picked at her fingernail.
"Rosalie," Alice stated pointedly. "Don't."
"You know what." Alice hinted.
When Rosalie's face continued to display an expression that communicated that she did, in fact, not know what Alice was insinuating, Alice spoke blatantly.
"Don't ask questions that you don't what the answers to." She said.
"What are you talking about?" Rosalie huffed. "I was just making conversation. I don't really care what Edward does."
"Oh," Alice played along. "My mistake."
The path to the girls' first class was a quiet one. Alice silently reprimanded herself for speaking so freely to Rosalie. Though Rosalie put on a pretense of having a rough exterior, Alice knew that when it came to Edward Cullen, she wore her feelings on her sleeve.
Rosalie's infatuation with Edward began their freshman year, as soon as Edward transferred to Forks High. Early on, Edward immediately fell into the role of a rebellious, calloused-yet-charismatic teenager. Rosalie was drawn to him immediately and they became fast friends – but that's all. Edward made it clear early on that he was not romantically interested in Rosalie. It was a decision Rosalie had made her life's mission to change.
Knowing this, Alice made a mental note not to get wrapped up in another discussion about Edward with Rosalie…at least not today.
"What the hell?" Rosalie stopped abruptly as she and Alice entered their classroom.
Alice followed Rosalie's glare and saw that a girl was sitting in the seat in the far back corner of the classroom. It was the seat that Rosalie usually occupied. Alice had never seen the girl before and deduced that the girl must be a new student. Otherwise she would have known not to sit in Rosalie's desk.
Alice watched with a modicum of amusement as Rosalie marched over to the new student and leaned down close to her.
"Get out of my seat!" she yelled.
The girl jumped out of the chair, literally, and knocked her books over in the process.
"Miss Hale!" the teacher, Mrs. Kenner, called out. "There is no assigned seating in this class. Sit somewhere else!"
Rosalie shot a vicious stare over to the brown-haired, brown-eyed girl who now appeared to be hovering between the seat in question and a desk towards the front of the class. Unfortunately, she chose to once again sit in the desk she had been sitting in – Rosalie's desk.
Alice shook her head. "Big mistake," she whispered to no one in particular.
After Alice and Rosalie situated themselves on the other side of the classroom, Mrs. Kenner took roll and then clasped her hands together in excitement.
"Class we have a new student," she began. "Isabella Swan." She pointed to the girl who had just stolen Rosalie Hale's seat. "Isabella, why don't you tell the class something about yourself."
The sound of necks craning and eyes straining was heard at the entire class turned to get a better look at the new girl.
"Um…it's just Bella," the new girl corrected.
Mrs. Kenner nodded and waited for Bella to elaborate on her self-description. When Bella continued to remain silent, Mrs. Kenner prompted her. "I understand you come to us from a far off country."
"Well, my father was in the Navy. We moved here from Italy." Bella stated nonchalantly.
"Wow, Italy. I've always wanted to go there," Mrs. Kenner remarked with a glimmer in her eye.
When it became apparent that Bella wasn't going to offer any more information without a definite effort on the teacher's part, Mrs. Kenner mumbled a quick 'welcome' before delving in to that day's lesson.
Bella sighed in relief and sunk down in her chair as if attempting to disappear for her classmates' sight.
Bella managed to escape her first class without any additional fanfare. Strategically, she waited until Rosalie and Alice were out of sight before she dared exit, just in case Rosalie had plans to "educate" her on seating charts.
With a heavy exhale and a cursory glance down at her class schedule, Bella began her trek across the school campus. The inconsistent milling of the student-body that surrounded her caused her confusion. Some of them were lounging atop tables and talking to one another, others were hastily rummaging through lockers, and a few traipsed towards classrooms. It was as if everyone was on their own time schedule.
"It's called blocking."
Bella spun around to see a tall slender girl with glass looking down at her.
"Hi, Bella. I'm Angela Webber. I'm in your history class." Angela introduced. "I didn't mean to scare you. You just looked lost."
Bella let out a soft chuckle. "I am. What's blocking?"
"It's the way classes are scheduled here. Some people have a free period now. It kind of looks confusing if you don't know what's going on. What class do you have now?"
Bella looked down at her schedule, even though she knew the answer by heart. "English Literature. What about you?"
"I have French, but it's in the same corridor. Come on, I'll walk with you."
As Bella and Angela walked, they passed through a quad of picnic tables occupied by students. Bella kept her head down. She didn't want to see how many people noticed how out of place she was.
She was just about to pass up the last table nearest her classroom when someone shouted very close to her ear.
The tone wasn't nice, and Bella knew as soon as she'd heard it that it wasn't a student on the welcoming committee coming to say hello. Startled, Belle looked over into the menacing eyes of Rosalie Hale.
Rosalie gave Bella a sinister smile before blowing her a kiss and then flipping her off. Bella noticed that the other people at the table with Rosalie laughed at her gesture.
"C'mon," Angela verbally steered Bella away from the brouhaha, "don't pay them any attention."
"What's that girl's problem, anyway?" Bella didn't bother hiding her annoyance.
"That's just Rosalie. She's one of the most miserable people you could ever meet – and you know what they say about misery…"
"Yeah, it loves company," Bella completed the proverb.
"Do your best to stay away from her. She has no conscience." Angela warned.
Bella shuddered at the description. What did a person have to do to earn a reputation of not having a conscience?
Angela gave Bella a quick wave as she deposited Bella at the door of her next class. Bella was happy to see that the class was nearly empty, but she figured she'd rather not have a repeat of what happened in her previous class. Quietly, she approached her teacher, a young, attractive woman who looked like she could have been a student. The placard on her desk said 'Miss Teale'.
"Excuse me, this is my first day here and I was wondering if there was assigned seating in this class." Bella asked.
"You must be Isabella Swan…or do you prefer Bella?" the teacher asked with a smile.
Bella immediately relaxed. "Yes, thank you."
"I had the pleasure of looking over your transcripts. I think you'll do very well in this class. It's probably close to the course you took at your last school, although we can't offer you college credit." Miss Teale stated.
"That's okay," Bella said as she looked at the class that was beginning to fill up with students. "Should I just sit anywhere, or…"
"Actually we do have assigned seating in this class, since we sit at tables. I have to keep the chatty students away from one another, " Miss Teale smiled. "The only seat I had left was at the table at the far corner of the room, sorry. Will you be okay sitting in the back of the class?"
Bella nodded quickly. "Sure, no problem." This was shaping up to be her favorite class.
The student who sits next to you is rarely here, so if you start to feel isolated by there, let me know and we'll work something out."
"I'm sure I'll be fine," Bella said as she headed back to the table Miss Teale had pointed to. People had started to notice her and she wanted to sit down before Miss Teale asked her to stand in front of the class and introduce herself.
A book of sonnets snaked its way from the front of the class towards Bella and landed on her desk. She picked up the well-worn copy and thumbed through it before settling on the page the teacher had written on the board. When a student began reading, Bella settled down to lose herself in the words.
About a half an hour into the class, the door opened and a young man sauntered inside. He barely looked in Miss Teale's direction before walking towards Bella.
Bella swallowed hard as she noticed him glance at her. It took her a few seconds to realize that he wasn't heading for her, but for the empty seat next to her. He did look irritated to see her sitting there.
"Let me go out on a limb and ask if you have an excuse from the office for your tardiness, Edward." Miss Teale's voice was dripping with sarcasm.
"Nope," Edward quipped. He pulled out his chair with as much grace as an elephant at the symphony and plopped down.
The aroma of cigarettes and cinnamon chewing gum assaulted Bella's senses whenever Edward moved even the slightest bit. She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye and saw that he was looking her up and down.
"We're on page 267, " Bella held her book out to him.
"So?" he asked, his eyebrow raised in question.
Bella recoiled against his harshness and pulled her hand back. She resituated herself so that her hair formed a curtain for her to hide behind. Maybe no one would notice the humiliation-stained glow of her now crimson cheeks and ears.
"Edward, I'd like you to stay after class," Miss Teale said before asking a student to continue reading.
The day was still young and yet Bella had already learned a very valuable lesson: she was definitely no good at seating charts – assigned or unassigned.