It should have been clear to me when Bella moved to Forks. All the boys noticed her. I mean, who wouldn't? She was new, and in a town this small, fresh meat was something to fight over. Seriously, a girl would have to be truly hideous---we're talking hunchback, warts, and maybe a suspicious rash---for guys not to sit up and take notice. Mike, of course, was no exception. He wanted her just as much as every other boy did, and the rest of us just had to sit around and wait for the newness to wear off.
It's not like there was anything that special about her. She wasn't all tanned and super-model gorgeous or anything. She didn't come from money. Her dad was a cop, but that was really the only thing that stood out about her, other than the fact that she was new. We all heard about Eric and Tyler asking her to the dance, and no one really believed her story about being out of town. At least Mike had the good sense to ask me. Bella was never going to be popular if she kept acting like she was too good for this place. But that's exactly what she did.
At first, I blamed her. You can't just move to a new town, turn down every boy who asks you out, and expect people to like you. I mean, I tried, but Bella was a little strange. She drove a totally embarrassing truck, barely socialized except when we were at school, and even skipped the spring dance. But even though she acted like she wasn't interested in dating, she did nothing to discourage the boys from trying. Lauren even pointed out to me how Bella talked to Mike all the time, sat with him sometimes at lunch, and basically did everything to make him think he had a chance. It wasn't until she sat with Edward Cullen that day that I realized what she'd really been up to.
It seemed to me that she wanted Edward all along. She just didn't want to burn any bridges if he wasn't interested. I wouldn't have been surprised if Edward turned her down and she immediately went after Mike. But for the first time in history, Edward Cullen actually paid attention to someone outside his freaky family. That was about the time Mike and I started dating.
I should have known from the start that Mike was all wrong for me. He tried, but he just couldn't give me the attention I deserved. That was our problem all along. Mike would act like he liked me, but then he'd go and do something stupid---like make plans with Tyler when we were supposed to go out together. And the only time he mentioned love was when it had to do with sex. It didn't matter, anyway. We just weren't meant to be. He still followed Bella around all the time, pretty much ignored my feelings, and basically showed me just how much of a jerk he could be. I couldn't really hate Bella for that. In fact, she kind of did me a favor. If it hadn't been for her, I'd still be trying to get Mike's attention. And I wouldn't have met Embry.
Embry. Now there was a real man if I ever saw one. Even Lauren was jealous of me! I just hoped she didn't go all Single White Female on me like she did Bella. She'd already tried to steal Bella's boyfriend. Next, she'd probably stop hitting the tanning bed and go buy an ugly old truck. But what did I care about Lauren? I had Embry. He was totally hot, really funny, and he was into me! Finally a guy that was worth it. And just in time for prom.
The drive to all the way out to La Push kind of sucked, but I could deal with it. Embry hadn't called like he said he would, but then again, there'd been all that arson stuff going on. The phone lines were probably messed up. I mean, I checked, and my line worked fine, so there must have been something wrong on his end. That made sense, right?
I took a quick look in the mirror and added some lip gloss. There. Perfect.
I was parked in front of a really tiny building that looked a lot like an old shed. It didn't look like much of a house, at least not any that I was used to. The driveway wasn't even paved and the yard was mostly dirt with a few weeds thrown in. The front half of an old truck was sitting to the side of the house, and I couldn't help but stare. Why on earth would anyone have just half a truck? It was kind of creepy to think that anyone lived here, but the fading numbers on the mailbox matched what the old man at that little store said. This was where Embry Call lived. Hmmmm...Call. Jessica Call. Yeah, that could work.
I knocked on the door and waited. And waited. I could hear a TV, but the shades were pulled, so there was no way for me to know if anyone was inside. I had to assume someone was, though. It's not like they'd have to leave the TV on to deter thieves or anything. It really didn't look like the kind of place where there'd be anything worth stealing. I knocked again, this time a lot louder, and some flakes of paint snowed down around me. This place could definitely use an upgrade---or ten.
Finally I heard a kind of shuffling noise coming from inside. Maybe I'd woken him up. I wondered what he'd look like fresh out of bed. My guess? HOT!
"Who are you?"
She looked a little insane, and with her bad clothes and even worse hair, trying to pin down her age was impossible. And wow. She really smelled like alcohol.
"Ah...I'm Jessica. I must have the wrong house. I was looking for Embry?"
Surely this wasn't his mom. She stood there in the doorway staring at me for what seemed like forever. Her hair was sticking out in every direction and she was wearing this really hideous dress---kind of like you see on those poor people in movies set back in the forties or something. It was all baggy and faded, and really a little dirty from the looks of it. And she had dark circles under her eyes. I couldn't tell if it was her complexion or if that was smeared mascara, but either way she seriously needed to invest in some skin cream. She lifted a cigarette to her mouth and took a big puff, not even trying to avoid getting smoke in my face.
"He's not here," she said. "Usually isn't. Try Jake's. "
"Ah...where's that?" I asked.
She pointed at the road and hooked her finger to the left. And with that she just shut the door in my face. Could that really have been his mom? Clearly the looks didn't run in her side of the family.
I had no idea where I was going, but I drove down the badly paved road in the direction she'd pointed. Every so often, I'd see a couple of houses, some of them looking abandoned, and none of them much bigger than the crazy lady's house. Boy, when Lauren said the people out here were poor, she was right.
I was about to give up and turn around when I spotted Bella's funny old truck. It was parked in front of another little house, this one looking a bit more lived in, and so I pulled in beside it. There was a lot of noise coming from inside, like they were having a party or something.
Again I knocked, and again there was no answer. So I banged a little louder, and finally someone came to the door. She was really pretty, and for a second I thought it might have been that psycho that threatened Lauren, but this one had longer hair.
"Who the hell are you?"
Clearly etiquette was not a high priority in La Push. In any case, I thought it would be smart to show her my best side. After all, if Embry and I were going to be together, I needed to make friends with these people. I would just have to pretend she wasn't being so rude and get what I came for.
"Is Embry here?" I asked cheerfully.
"Ummmm..." That really wasn't the response I was expecting, and I was shocked into silence for a second. "I'm Jessica," I said. "I was just...around...so I thought I'd drop by and see him."
Her expression changed, but I couldn't quite make out what she was thinking.
"You're Jessica? From last night?"
"Yep, that's me!" I was thrilled. It bode well for us that he'd already told everyone about me.
"Hey, Embry! Your woman's here!" she yelled over her shoulder. She had a bright smile on her face now, and I couldn't have been happier.
"My what?" I heard him ask. He sounded surprised and annoyed, probably because she'd called me his "woman." I was willing to bet he'd have a much sweeter title for me.
She walked away just as the door opened wider.
"Hi!" I said excitedly, settling in his lap. He was a strong guy. He could handle it.
And he was definitely surprised. This was such a good idea!
"Uh, hi," he said hesitantly. Awwww, he's shy!
He was even better looking than he was the night before. His choice of outfit wasn't anything to brag about---a plain white t-shirt and cut off sweats, but I could help him with that.
Embry's friends didn't stick around long, and honestly, I was hoping we wouldn't either. He'd been so sweet last night when it was just us out by the Timber Museum, and I had the feeling he wanted to be alone just as much as I did. Unfortunately, we were at Jake's house, and he and Bella weren't going anywhere anytime soon. I thought about asking if he wanted to go to his place, but then I remembered the crazy woman and the half-truck. Plus, Bella asked me to help her with the dishes.
"So, Bella…Do you guys do this breakfast thing often?" I asked. It seemed like fun, even if it was a little too domestic for me.
"Ah…well, since school was canceled we just…it seemed…you know how I like to cook," she said nervously.
I didn't know what she had to be nervous about, though. It's not like she'd spent the night or anything. Bella was way too much of a prude for anything like that.
"Really? I didn't know that. That's cool, though," I said. Then I had the best idea. "Oooooh! I should make dinner for Embry! What should I make? Do you know what he likes?" After all, the way to a man's stomach…
"He likes pizza!" Jake yelled helpfully.
Great. I should have known it wouldn't have been that easy. I mean, how do you make pizza? I could do one of those mixes that comes with the crust, but that just seemed like too much work. And for someone who liked to cook, Bella sure wasn't any help.
Embry and I ended up hanging out with Jake and Bella all morning. I suggested a few things we could go do together, but Embry always had a reason not to. He wasn't interested in any movies that were out, the waves were bad for surfing, the water was cold for swimming, and the drive to Port Angeles was too long to go find anything else cool to do. And he kept pulling Bella into our conversation.
I almost got upset about it, thinking this was Mike all over again. I mean, he had acted awfully friendly with her when he'd dropped by our school. But then I realized he was really just trying to be nice. He probably felt sorry for her after that whole Lauren thing, and as Jake's friend, it was kind of his job. I guess as Embry's girlfriend that was my job now, too.
Still, I was relieved when we finally left. Jake and Bella were fighting about something, so they needed to be alone and work it out. Bella probably just didn't want anyone knowing that her relationship was in trouble, and I felt bad for her. But at least Embry and I were good. Now I just needed to get him to change into some decent clothes so I could take him to meet my mom. I knew she was going to love him just as much as I did.