I cowered back as my new lab partner loomed over me, his golden eyes turning black. With rage? I hadn't been especially kind to him, but what I had said wasn't that awful. Certainly I had said much worse in the past.
And as suddenly as it had begun, it was over. He leaned back on his stool, turning away from me, and barking out a curt "What?" in my direction.
"The lab," I replied, pushing the microscope towards him. "We're identifying the phases of mitosis."
He glanced into the microscope, quickly determining the correct answer. "Metaphase." He inserted another slide and pushed it back over to me, meeting my eyes as I stared at him. "This one's yours."
I laughed incredulously, moving the microscope back to him. "Umm, no thanks. You don't understand how this school works. I don't do this sort of thing."
He pushed it back at me, his velvety voice smooth as he informed me, "You do now. I don't think that Mr. Banner will be too happy if you go through three lab partners in three weeks of school."
I could feel my cheeks gradually turning red. How did he know about that? He was right, I probably didn't want to chase off a third. The lab was simple, I could do it easily enough. Unfortunately, it kind of went against the popular code. Generally, our crowd didn't do very well in school. It was a rule I didn't entirely understand – maybe we were supposed to be above caring about such things? But it was not a rule that could be broken.
So in classes, I was careful to never show that I actually liked school. I couldn't quite bring myself to sabotage my grades completely– I still did well on papers and tests – but the in-class stuff usually brought me to a B in most classes. The fact that all my teachers hated me didn't help either.
Edward was still looking at me expectantly. I rolled my eyes, lowering my head to look into the microscope. "Telophase," I mumbled, identifying the slide just as quickly as he had. I shoved the microscope back in his direction, watching as he glanced quickly into the microscope himself before jotting it down on our lab notes. I frowned, seeing that. Why bother making me help with the lab anyway, if he thought I was a moron whose results couldn't be trusted?
He quickly did the next slide, then pushed it back to me for the fourth. I shook my head, pushing it back to me. He sighed, sliding it back to me. "I told you, we're splitting the work. You do this one."
I stared at him, unblinking. "Clearly I'm an idiot, so why don't you just save yourself the bother of checking? You can do them all."
I stared at my lab partner in disbelief. First she refuses to do the work, now she's angry that I checked it? How was it possible that one small human could be so infuriating? "I won't authenticate this one," I promised.
She sighed, her long hair falling around her face as she bent to the microscope again. "Prophase," she said quietly. I quickly did the fifth. It was indeed anaphase, the only remaining answer. We sat in silence, our completed lab sheet in front of us, until Mr. Banner came over. He nodded at our results, then looked at Bella sternly. "Is this lab a product of Mr. Cullen's and your work, Ms. Swan?"
I could hear the doubts in his mind about this, and quickly jumped in before Bella could say anything. "Yes sir. I did three, she did two."
He looked at me suspiciously, but decided not to voice his thoughts aloud. "Alright, well, I guess you two can go then."
Hearing his words, my lab partner gathered her bag and fairly flew out of the room. Unfortunately for her, the quick exit was marred by the fact that she banged her side into our lab table as she left. I smiled, because I knew why she was so desperate to leave. She wanted to get away from me. I could have caught up with her easily, of course, but I opted not to further tempt myself today. Instead I sat there, mulling over the strong appeal this girl's blood had to me. No human had ever so thoroughly tested my control. But I hadn't snapped. No, I had sat next to her for a half-hour, and…
Then it hit me. I had sat next to her for a half-hour, and heard nothing. Even this shallow human must have had one thought in that time period. My head jerked up, looking to the door she had used to exit. Who was this girl?
At the day's end, I met up with my family in the school parking lot. After spending an entire day with humans, nobody looked particularly happy. Even normally jovial Emmett glowered at everyone who passed.
"Emmett, stop intimidating our new classmates," I told him as I unlocked my Volvo.
He scowled, his huge frame now safely inside the car. "I can't help it, man. You should have seen all the guys here hitting on Rose today. I was ready to-"
"But you wouldn't have," Alice cut him off. "Because we have to blend in here. Remember? Blend in."
"I can't help it, Alice," Emmett complained. "The kids at this school are freaks. I don't know what it is, but they're more forward, louder, more annoying, more-"
"More sexually deprived," Jasper interrupted. "Way more." He looked at Alice, as the rest of us snickered. We all knew what they were going to be doing once we got home.
But I couldn't argue with either of my siblings. Thinking back to my tiny lab partner, it was hard not to think that there was something in the water here. Why couldn't I hear her?
Edward, Alice called to me. Did you see that girl from lunch again today? The "dark" one?
I gave a barely imperceptible nod, my hopes rising that someone had found out something about this frustrating creature. I didn't believe she presented any danger to us, but it was still maddening not to be able to read her thoughts. I had become so used to being able to know everything about everyone around me.
I met her in the girl's bathroom today. And I keep seeing her in my visions, Alice told me. But I don't see anything. She's just there, and then she disappears. But she sort of darts around when my visions involve you. Did you talk to her?
I stifled a grin. I wouldn't exactly call me forcing her to do our science lab "talking". I shrugged at Alice. We needed to speak later, but I knew she wouldn't be available for hours after we got home. Jasper tended to need a lot of attention after first days.
Which was fine. It would give me time to go talk to Carlisle about the strange human. It was unheard of for vampire's gifts not to work on humans. Perhaps he would have an idea as to why.
Once I made my escape from disastrous biology, I made my way to the girl's bathroom. Raising my shirt, I winced at the evidence of my less than graceful encounter with the lab bench. My side was already red and swollen. That was going to bruise.
I heard the words spoken, and blinked rapidly, dropping my shirt back down to cover myself. Had I said that aloud? Then I saw them. The new girls, almost hidden from view, off to the side of the bathroom. The one who had verbalized my thoughts, a pixie with spiky black hair, bounced forward cheerfully.
"I'm Alice!" she greeted me. "And this is my sister Rose."
"Rosalie," the girl corrected haughtily. They were even more beautiful up close, with the same pale skin and golden eyes as my new lab partner. The pixie was, as pixies were wont to be, small and slender, wearing ballet flats and a dress that I could tell was designer. Her sister was dressed in the same type of expensive clothing, but was tall and statuesque, with long blond hair.
"You're Bella, right?" the pixie asked me, still bouncing.
A bit dumbfounded, I nodded. Why was this new girl speaking to me? It was a benefit of my popularity – people didn't usually talk to me unless I spoke to them first. I flitted through school silent and unbothered, exactly how I liked it. Okay, maybe flitted was the wrong word. More like stumbled. And now here was this new girl, talking to me like she knew me. No one here knew me. I made sure of that.
"I can tell we're going to be friends, Bella!" Alice exclaimed excitedly, her musical voice cheerful. "I love this school already, don't you, Rose?" she asked, turning to look at her sister.
I felt my eyebrows rise at her statement. We were going to be friends? I didn't have friends, and I didn't want any. I wouldn't call my clique friends. More like…a group of people who joined together out of mutual benefit.
Yes, that was it.
I wanted to say something crushing, but found I didn't have it in me today to squash the pixie's exuberant mood. So I just mumbled an affirmative answer and turned back to the mirror, pulling out my makeup again. It was my perfect safety device, when the alternative was to stand around looking uncomfortable. All the makeup took forever to remove after school every day.
"So, Bella!" Alice began happily. "Would you want to go shopping with us sometime?"
I paused in my ministrations in the mirror, my eyes widening in horror. I didn't need to do any more shopping, thank you very much. I did enough of that with Jessica and Lauren. Besides, what was this girl doing anyway, inviting me on a shopping trip five minutes after meeting me? I needed to get away from her. Luckily I had a plan. Summoning up my nerve, I tucked my makeup back in my bag and turned to face her again.
"Why was your family staring at me during lunch today?"
A/N: Thank you to those who reviewed my first chapter. Right now I'm keeping my updates short, in order to get them out faster, but once I have more time, they WILL be longer! Please take a moment to review, it keeps me inspired!