Disclaimer: Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer.

Chapter I
The Dance

"Bella!" Sue called up the stairs. "Put whatever book you are reading down and get dressed! We're leaving in a while."

"Alright!" I called back, setting down my novel. My step-mother knew me well. I walked to my tiny cupboard closet and pulled out my graduation gown. I hadn't been in high school for five years, but my grad dress was the newest piece of clothing I owned. In my house, we only went shopping when something was needed. I was grateful I even had a dress to wear tonight.

When a family consisted of five children from ages 17 to 24, and there was only one working parent in the household who paid for all the kids' education, the word want didn't even exist. At age five, my mom Renee and my dad Charlie adopted Rosalie and Jasper Hale—6 year old twins. Only two years later, Renee died in a car accident. That's when I met my best friend, Angela Webber. She was incredibly mature, and therefore supportive for a seven year old. Then six years after that, Charlie married a woman named Sue, giving me and my siblings a nine year old stepsister and a seven year old stepbrother.

So it was a miracle that I even had a roof over my head and food to eat. I looked forward to a year from now, when I would be finished at university and Charlie would have one less kid to worry about.

I quickly slipped into the midnight blue dress and went back to reading my book. Just minutes later, my door was thrown open and Rosalie appeared in a shimmering silver gown. Her golden hair fell in waves around her shoulders. A sapphire necklace hung delicately on her neck.

"What do you think?" she asked me.

"Rose, you look amazing. You'd look amazing in a garbage bag," I added truthfully.

She snorted and shook her head. I just smiled and looked back at my book.

"Why aren't you wearing any makeup, or doing anything with your hair?" she demanded. I looked back up to see her eyeing me critically.

I shrugged my shoulders. "What's the point?"

She raised an eyebrow questioningly.

"You'll still outshine every woman in the room," I explained.

Rosalie sighed and shook her head. "Bella, if you wore makeup, you'd outshine me."

I laughed. "I'm sure."

Rose gave up and headed for the door. "I'll meet you in the car, Bella."

I sighed remorsefully. This night was sure to be painful. Sue had spent the last couple of years making sure a hospital was built in Forks. Tomorrow it would be opening day, and she had organized a dance tonight in celebration. All of Forks was invited. I was extremely happy for her, but parties meant dancing. Something that was definitely not one of my strengths.

I locked the house behind me, seeing as I was the last one out, and sat in the car beside Rose. As soon as I had the door shut, Sue was driving.

"I can't believe it, I can't believe it!" she squealed.

"What?" Jasper asked monotonously. He hated dancing just as much as I did.

Sue ignored him. "Dr. Carlisle Cullen is going to be at the dance tonight! He wants to move to Forks and work at the hospital!"

The vehicle filled with chatter. Carlisle Cullen was the best Doctor in the world, and his wife was one of the best interior designers ever. They had a son and a daughter, but I didn't know much about them. What I did know for sure though was that the Cullens were rich. Very, very rich.

"That's great Sue!" I exclaimed.

We pulled into the parking lot of the hall, and I could already hear music playing. Sue, Rose, Leah, and Seth ran out of the car and into the building faster than I thought possible. Charlie, Jasper, and I, however, hung back. I stood between them, put an arm around each of their shoulders, and began to slowly lead them forward.

"We'll get through this together," I assured them.

"Easy for you to say," Jasper muttered. "There are double women than men in there. It would be rude for us not to dance."

I smiled and patted him on the back. "I'll take turns dancing with you two."

I pushed the door open and spotted Angela right away. I started for her, but then stopped. It probably wasn't a good idea for me to abandon my father and brother only 20 seconds into the party.

"It's fine," Charlie sighed, nodding to Angela. "We'll be okay."

I smiled one last reassuring smile and then walked across the room to my best friend.

"It's a good party, isn't it?" she asked me.

"It will be, as long as I stay upright all evening."

Angela laughed.

Suddenly the music shut off and Sue spoke into a microphone.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce you to Dr. Carlisle Cullen, his wife Esme, and their son Mr. Edward Cullen!"

Applause filled the room as three people entered. Carlisle's features were handsome, his hair blond, his skin fair. Esme was equally as beautiful, with caramel colored hair that flowed past her shoulders. But they were nothing compared to their son.

Edward Cullen's skin was fair and his features were perfect just like his fathers, his bronze hair messy, and his stature tall. But what really struck me were his eyes. The were an emerald green, so bright it was almost surreal. I stared at him without abandon. His head turned toward me, perhaps sensing my gaze, and those emerald eyes locked with mine. I felt as though they were piercing my thoughts, my soul, and I tried to look away, but was unable to. My face heated as I tried to look down.

"And now I would like to introduce a very good friend of Mr. Edward Cullen, Mr. Emmett McCarty and his sisters, Jessica and Lauren!"

Edward Cullen looked toward the door, freeing me from his penetrating gaze. I gasped for air. Apparently I had been holding my breath.

"Wow," Angela said.

"I know," I muttered. Then I realized that she wasn't talking about Edward. She was talking about Emmett McCarty.

He was tall and hugely muscular, with thick, curly black hair. He would have looked intimidating, if it wasn't for the child like smile on his face. A girl with wild black hair followed him in, followed by another girl with long, bleached blond hair. The sisters smiled slightly while scanning the room critically. It was obvious by the way the girls held their bodies that they were the mean girls of high school. The ones you stayed away from.

"Bella." I looked away from the sisters and to Seth, who was making his way toward me.


"Mom wants to introduce all of us to the Cullens and the McCartys."

"Okay." I turned to Angela. "See you in a bit."

"Sure," she smiled before I advanced toward my family with Seth.

"So, what's your first impression of the Cullens?" I asked him.

"They look like cool people. But I think Emmett McCarty seems the coolest," he added with a grin.

"Yeah, he'd be a pretty good brother. You know, all those muscles to help you with your chores," I teased.

Seth laughed. "Naw, he just seems like a fun guy to be around."

We were now standing beside my dad and Sue. Rosalie came to stand next to me, leaving Jasper and Leah beside Sue. Carlisle's party came toward us.

"Dr. Cullen," Sue said, holding out her hand. He took it and shook it heartily.

"Sue Swan," Carlisle Cullen greeted. "It's a pleasure to meet the woman who was so determined to have a hospital in her small town."

Sue beamed.

"It really is a pleasure," he added warmly.

"Oh, well, thank you very much," Sue said, coloring.

"I'm sure you were paid very generously," Carlisle said.

"Um, well, no. It was all volunteer work, actually," my stepmother replied a little uncomfortably.

Carlisle seemed shocked, and he opened his mouth to speak, but Sue was quicker.

"I'd like to introduce my husband, Charlie, my daughter Leah, my son Seth—" she proceeded to point to us, one by one, "—my stepdaughter Isabella, and my adopted stepchildren, Rosalie and Jasper."

We all nodded and murmured hello.

"It's a pleasure to meet you all," Esme said. I looked at her warm, motherly face and instantly liked her.

"Well, you know all of our names," Carlisle smiled.

Emmett McCarty stepped forward and looked at Rosalie.

"Rosalie, right?" he asked her.

She rolled her eyes but smiled. "Yes. And you are..." she paused and pretended to think. Then her expression lit up like a light bulb had gone on over her head. "Edward, right?"

Emmett frowned and shook his head. "No, I'm—"

Rose cut him off. "Emmett, I know," she laughed. "I'm kidding."

"Well then, kidding," Emmett said. "Would you like to dance?"

Rosalie rolled her eyes again at his horrible attempt at humor, but walked with him to the dance floor.

I tapped Jasper on the shoulder. "Want to dance, Jazz?" I whispered. He nodded.

"It was nice meeting you," I said the Carlisle and Esme.

"Lovely to meet you too, Isabella," Esme said. I was about to ask her to call me Bella, but Jasper pulled me onto the dance floor.

For the following two hours, I actually had fun. Dancing wasn't so bad when your partner was no better at it than you were. At ten o'clock, Jasper and I collapsed into some chairs.

"Thirsty?" he asked.


"Alright then," he said, standing up. "I'll get us something to drink." I watched him walk over to the back of the line at the refreshment bar.

"Wow, man. Rosalie is amazing."

My head turned toward the voice and saw Emmett and Edward leaning against the wall.

"So I see. You haven't danced with anyone else all evening," Edward said. His voice made me want to melt. It was so soft, so velvety.

"And you haven't danced with anyone," Emmett shot back.

"Your dance partner is the only person in this room worth looking at," Edward replied without hesitation. I frowned.

"Well how about Isabella Swan?" Emmett asked. I stiffened in my seat. It was obvious they didn't know I was near them. "She's very pretty."

"Isabella," Edward pronounced, "is okay looking. Nothing special. In fact, very plain."

My eyes widened and a shocked gasp broke from my lips. This guy may be beautiful beyond words, but he was a jerk.

I stood up and started walking to the refreshments.

"I prefer Bella, thank you," I said as I passed Edward and an embarrassed Emmett.


"He did not!" Rosalie exclaimed. We were sitting on my bed, talking about the party. I had just finished telling her about the discussion between Emmett and Edward.

"He did," I assured her.

Rose went into a rant that contained many profanities. When she was finished, she said, "Bella, don't believe a word that asshole says. His opinion isn't worth it."

I nodded. Rose was right. But I was only human, after all, and what he said did hurt, no matter how much I wished and pretended it didn't.

A/N: Tell me what you all think!