"Bells? Wake up!"
With my eyes still closed, I rolled over, grumbling. I was having such an interesting dream, and I wasn't ready to wake up yet. I wanted to find out what happened between Edward and that man—
"—Bella! I know you're awake."
I felt someone prodding me, and I opened my eyes to see Charlie leaning over me. I couldn't believe he'd woken me up, just as my dream had gotten interesting.
"What day is it?" I found myself mumbling.
Charlie looked confused. "It's Friday afternoon Bella."
I bolted upright, nearly colliding into Charlie, but he straightened up just in time. I had no idea why I was sleeping in the afternoon.
"I just got home from work." Charlie continued, not noticing my bewilderment. "Seeing as you weren't downstairs, I assumed you were in your room. You must have been pretty tired if you went straight to sleep without taking your shoes off."
I followed his gaze, and saw that I was still wearing my converses. And then I looked down at my clothing, seeing that I was wearing the exact outfit that I'd worn in my dream.
"I'll leave you to it then." Charlie said, backing away to the doorway. "I've ordered some pizza for dinner so don't worry about cooking anything."
I nodded, still staring down at my outfit, and I barely noticed him leave the room. I honestly couldn't recall how I'd gotten into bed. The last thing I remembered was lunchtime with Angela, Ben and Eric.
I knew that I must have done the dissection experiment, but I truly didn't remember doing it. The only thing that gave me some indication that I'd done it was the dream I'd just had. Maybe I'd finished the experiment and felt so traumatized afterwards that I'd blacked out as soon as I'd gotten home. That would explain the weird dream with Edward and the man with the red eyes, and the flying sensation I'd felt afterwards.
Brushing it off, I headed downstairs to join Charlie.
The weekend passed by quickly, which was a relief, because I didn't have any homework or any plans. That meant I had nothing to do all weekend.
Normally I'd spend time with Jacob while our fathers went fishing, but I still hadn't been invited back to La Push yet. In fact, I hadn't heard a word from anyone there at all. Not even Billy had talked to Charlie. My father was too busy with his work anyway, so he wasn't worried about Billy's lack of communication. He blamed himself for Billy and Jacob's distance.
I however, blamed it on whatever was happening in La Push. I was determined to find out what was happening down there, whether they wanted me to or not. Billy and Jacob were like family to me, and I wanted to know what was troubling them. But I knew that I couldn't push them to tell me. I had to be patient for a little while longer, and wait for Jacob to contact me.
I didn't see the Cullens either, as they were still away on their camping trip. Eric, Ben and Angela had gone to a comic convention in Seattle, so I couldn't see them either, which meant I spent the whole weekend alone.
However, as Monday morning drew nearer, I began to regret wishing the weekend away, as it meant my birthday was approaching.
The shrill sound of my alarm woke me in the morning, and I reached out blindly to hit my alarm clock with my fist to stop the blaring ring.
At least, I tried to.
My aim was slightly off. Instead of hitting the alarm clock, I smacked the side of it, and I heard it topple onto the floor, still beeping.
Opening my eyes, I rolled towards the edge of the bed so I could reach out and grab the clock. But I had to stretch for it, which meant most of my body weight was over the bed.
Suddenly, I toppled off of the bed, hitting the floor with a loud bang, and I cursed as I rubbed my sore sides. I had no idea why I thought that having wooden flooring in my room was a good idea, being the accident-prone klutz that I was.
I hoped the weather would improve my already foul mood, but when I crawled over to my window and opened my curtains, I saw that it was cloudy. What else would it be?
I glanced down, and saw that Charlie's police cruiser wasn't parked on the drive next to my truck. "Dad?" I called, turning away from the window and racing out of my room to head downstairs. I knew that it was silly to shout for him when I knew that he wasn't in the house; the absence of his cruiser proved that.
As I expected, downstairs was empty, and I sat down at the table in the kitchen, when suddenly I caught sight of an envelope taped to the fridge.
I rose from my chair, and walked over to prise it off carefully. Inside, there was a birthday card from Charlie.
Happy Birthday! I can't believe my little girl is 18 already. It feels like it was only yesterday when Renee and I celebrated your first birthday.
A lot has changed over the past 18 years, but what hasn't changed is my love for my daughter. I know that I haven't been the perfect father and I've certainly proved that over the years, but I want you to know that I'll always love you.
I'm sorry that I wasn't here to celebrate your birthday with you this morning, but I'll make it up to you after school, I promise. I'd tell you that I'd cook tonight but you know I'm not the best cook. So why don't we order a take-out later? I expect you'll have made plans with your friends, but I'm hoping you can squeeze in dinner with your old Dad.
I had tears rolling down my cheeks as soon I'd started reading the second paragraph, not used to Charlie expressing his feelings like that. I felt touched by his words, and I crushed the card to my chest, hugging it to myself.
"I love you too Charlie." I whispered, leaving the card on the kitchen counter and walking over to the bin to throw the envelope.
Just as I was about to dispose of it, I was realised that it wasn't empty, and I pulled out $200.
I felt my eyes widen, stunned by the amount of money that Charlie had given me. I just couldn't accept it, and I vowed to give it back to him later. I knew that he'd refuse though; I'd inherited my stubbornness from him.
The first thing I saw when I pulled into the school parking lot was Edward's Volvo, surrounded by a large group of my friends. I saw Alice bouncing up and down with large packages in her arms, and they looked suspiciously like presents.
As I drove towards them, I could see that they were presents. And then I realised that she wasn't the only one holding gifts. All of her siblings were holding presents, as well as Angela, Ben and Eric.
I tried to look excited, but failed. Miserably. As I pulled into the parking space next to Edward's car, I could feel his eyes on me.
Once I'd turned the engine off, I finally met his gaze, and saw that he was watching me intently, like he had done at the hospital.
My face flamed under his gaze, and I hurriedly opened my truck door, using my friends as a distraction to keep myself from thinking about him.
A loud chorus of 'Happy Birthday Bella!' greeted me as I stepped out, and I felt my face redden considerably more.
Alice lowered her packages onto the floor, before bounding over to me. "Bella!" She chirped, throwing her arms around me and hugging me tightly. "Happy Birthday!"
As much as I disliked celebrating my birthday, I couldn't help but be affected by Alice's cheerfulness. "Thank you Alice." I said warmly, hugging her back.
"We have presents!" I heard Emmett bellow beside us, sounding as excited as Alice.
"I don't think we have enough time for Bella to open them all now." Angela said worriedly, frowning at her watch.
"We can do present opening at lunch then, during the party." Alice replied, opening the Volvo door so that everyone could place their gifts in the backseat.
"Party?" I asked, surprised. "What party?"
"The birthday party that we're holding for you at lunch." Alice told me, beaming. "We have cake, candles and lots of snacks. I even bought party hats for everyone to wear!"
I was overwhelmed by the amount of effort that she had put in just for me. "Blimey Alice, how much did you spend?" I asked her, stunned. "I don't deserve any of this."
"Nonsense." Rosalie stated, replying for Alice. "You're only 18 once Bella. Enjoy it."
I wanted to argue, but the pleading look in Alice's eyes compelled me to keep my mouth shut. So I did.
Once everyone had put their presents in the backseat, I peered in, and was amazed by the amount of brightly coloured packages swarming the back of the car.
"How many presents did you guys buy?" I asked them incredulously, my eyes wide.
"We all bought one or two, but Alice went overboard, as you can see." Edward told me, smiling when I met his gaze. "She was going to get you triple this amount, but Jasper and I forced her out of the mall."
"I didn't go overboard." Alice said with a huff, crossing her arms across her chest as she glared at her brother. "I'm just showing my best friend that I love her, that's all."
I smiled, despite the fact that I was annoyed that she had spent so much money on me.
I smiled because she'd called me her best friend.
I'd never had a best friend. Not really. Jake and I were as close as best friends could be, but he was more like my brother. I was close to Angela as well, though I didn't consider her as my best friend.
But I could see Alice as my best friend. And she clearly saw me as hers too.
"We have to get to class." Angela reminded us, and we all set off towards the school. My first lesson was Biology, so I was with Alice, Edward and the others. We walked to the laboratory together; Alice chatting about how fantastic lunch was going to be.
Edward caught my eye as we walked, and he rolled his eyes, showing his exasperation with his sister. I tried to smother a giggle, but failed, and I had to turn away to conceal my blush.
Damn him and his dazzling eyes.
As we walked into the Biology lab, Mr Banner caught my eye and waved me over to his desk. It didn't escape my notice that all of the Cullens looked wary, especially Alice and Edward, and I shot them a reassuring smile. They must have thought that I was in trouble, or something.
"I graded your experiment." Mr Banner told me as I approached his desk, and he passed me a sheet of paper. "Well done Bella! I was very impressed with your report."
I briefly looked down at the paper, and saw that the grade 'A' had been stamped at the top. "Thank you Sir." I replied, looking back up at him.
"You're welcome." He said with a smile, reaching down to take out a glass container from the bottom drawer of his desk. "I have to say that I'm relieved that you managed to complete it. I half expected to return to school and see you passed out in the laboratory."
I heard a few of my classmates laugh at his remark, and I turned my head to glare at them. When they stopped, I turned back to Mr Banner, and gave him a false smile at his weak joke.
As I did so, I finally noticed what he was holding: the glass container that I'd used in the experiment. But, I thought that I'd broken it—
— After breathing deeply for a few minutes, my nausea ceased, and I clutched the table as I straightened up. But as I did so, I accidentally knocked the glass contained onto the floor, and it shattered.
But that had occurred in my dream I realised, as I shook myself out of my reverie.
After thanking Mr Banner again, I headed towards my lab table, my eyes glued to my report. As I eased myself onto my seat, I felt myself begin to frown, not remembering writing any of these words at all.
It certainly looked like I'd written it; the handwriting was mine. But I was convinced that these weren't my words. I wouldn't have described how the heart pumps blood around the body as scientifically as it was written down in front of me.
I tried to wrack my brains for any memory of doing the dissection, but I came up blank. All I could remember was the dream that I'd had afterwards.
Looking up from my report, I turned my gaze to the wall beside the door. In my dream, I'd seen Edward push the red-eyed man up against the wall, pinning him by his neck.
How could I remember parts of my dream, but fail to remember reality?
There could only be one conclusion: I was losing my mind. Either that, or I just preferred the dissection version that contained Edward.
Suddenly, I felt someone touch my shoulder, and I jumped in my seat.
"Sorry Bella." Edward said hastily, withdrawing his hand. "I didn't mean to scare you. Are you okay?"
"Fine." I replied distractedly, my eyes flickering between the wall and his concerned gaze.
"Are you sure? I don't want the birthday girl to be upset on her special day." He commented, flashing his beautiful crooked smile at me.
For the third time that day, he made me blush. Embarrassed, I tore my eyes away from him, and attempted to focus on Mr Banner's lecture.
After the bell rang, ending Biology, Daniel approached my lab table, just as I was getting up to leave. "Hey Bella." He said, waving his hand nervously as his eyes darted between Edward and I.
I had to suppress a smile at his evident fear of being in Edward's presence.
I glanced at Edward, and he looked just as amused as I felt. Our eyes met briefly, before I turned back to look at Daniel. "Hey." I replied, my smile finally escaping.
"Happy Birthday." Daniel said, giving me a small, shy smile.
I turned to go, but he reached out and grabbed my arm. "Wait!" He exclaimed, and I looked at him in confusion.
"I wanted to ask you something." He began, looking nervous again. "Just…um…are you doing anything tonight? I mean…"
He trailed off as he glanced back at Edward, and I couldn't help but follow his gaze. To my surprise, Edward's face had hardened, but his expression was impossible to decipher. His family, who were standing behind him, were all watching Daniel intently.
Daniel cleared his throat, and bravely turned away from them to look at me. "I thought that you and I could go out and do something to celebrate your birthday." He finished quickly. "If you want to, that is."
"I can't tonight, I have plans with my father." I told him, hoping to let him down gently. It didn't work, and I instantly felt guilty when his face fell.
"But some other time, okay?" I added hastily, and his face lit up with a smile.
"Bella we have to go." Alice suddenly piped up. When I looked over at her, I was surprised to see that she looked angry.
"You don't want to be late for Spanish." Edward added, his expression mirroring his sister's.
Before I could reply, Daniel tugged on my arm. "I need to give you something before you go."
Again, I didn't have time to do anything before I was encased in Daniel's arms. I was too shocked to respond, especially when I felt him kiss me on the cheek. I was about to push him away, just as he released me.
"See you around Bella." He said to me, grinning as he spun around and swaggered out of the classroom.
What the hell?
Blinking, I turned back to my friends, still stunned.
"Looks like you've pulled Bella!" Emmett exclaimed, snapping me out of my shock. His grin was playful, but it looked forced, and it didn't quite reach his eyes.
My brow furrowed. "What do you mean?"
"Daniel was all over you." Rosalie remarked, speaking before Emmett got the chance to. She was frowning at me, and I shifted uncomfortably under her gaze.
"It was just a hug!" I protested, trying to downplay what had just happened.
"And a kiss." Emmett added; his false grin still plastered on his face.
"We're just friends!"
"Not for long." Rosalie stated, folding her arms across the chest. "You agreed to go out on a date with him."
"Whoa, hold on!" I exclaimed, holding my hands up. "I only said that I'd go out with him because I'd upset him."
Emmett and Rosalie didn't look convinced, so I turned to their siblings so that they could back me up.
The sight of the three of them shocked me.
Jasper was standing between Edward and Alice, one hand on each of their shoulders. Alice was looking away from all of us, her expression vacant, and Edward was gazing at her, his jaw clenched.
"So when are you going to go out with him?" Rosalie asked me, and I reluctantly turned away from Edward, Alice and Jasper to face her again.
"Hopefully never. I felt guilty so I made a promise that I have no intention of keeping." I told her, fiddling with the zip on my jacket.
Rosalie smiled at my words, and Emmett's grin finally looked genuine.
"Come on Bella, let's go to Spanish!" I heard Alice say from behind me, and I spun around to face her, only to see that her distant look had vanished. Now she was beaming.
I was confused by her sudden mood change, and I glanced at Jasper, though he still looked as calm as he had a moment before.
Finally, I turned my gaze to Edward. His head was bowed, so I couldn't decipher his expression. However, his jaw was relaxed, which meant that he wasn't as tense as he had just been.
As if he could sense me looking at him, he suddenly looked up, and he met my gaze. His topaz eyes were calm, and he gave me a small smile.
My face reddened, partly at being caught starting, and partly from his intense gaze. He seemed to be the only person who could elicit an embarrassing reaction from me.
Hesitantly, I returned his smile with a small, shy one of my own.
His smile instantly widened, and my smile instinctively mirrored his, until we both wore identical grins.
I didn't know why we were both beaming like idiots, but I didn't care. My face was beginning to tingle under Edward's scorching gaze, and it felt like sparks were zapping at my skin.
Someone began to pull on my arm, and I unwillingly tore my eyes away from Edward's, breaking the connection between us.
"Bella!" Alice chided me, still holding on to my arm. "Didn't you hear me the first time? We have to get going!"
I nodded, not trusting myself to speak, and I resisted the urge to look back at Edward as Alice towed me out of the classroom, Jasper following behind us.
I spent the walk to Spanish in a daze, thinking about the way that I'd felt when Edward had gazed into my eyes. I'd never felt anything like that before.
What was happening here?
First the mysterious trouble down in La Push, the Port Angeles killer, my loss of memory of Friday afternoon and now this.
The way Edward had looked at me…the way his gaze had made me feel…
What was going on with my life? It had never been so confusing before. What had changed in just a few weeks?
Although, I already had my answer to that question: the Cullens had moved to Forks.