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~*~

Edward

Biology wasn't the same without her. Although the rest of her family were at lunch, I assumed she was either running late, or skipping, and I'd see her in biology just like I did yesterday. But I was wrong. I had no problem completing the Planeria lab by myself, but for the first time since I could remember, I just really wanted to talk to a girl. And not just any girl, but a girl who completely shattered my idea of perfection in the female form. I wanted to see if she was ok, she had looked sick when she ran out of class. And not just sick, but pretty damn angry as well. I didn't think I did anything to offend her, but whatever it was I wanted to find out and fix it.

After the bell rang, I went to my classes, looking in the halls for her shiny, brown hair, but didn't see her anywhere. I did realize that her sister, Alice I think, was in my English class, and her ginormous brother was in Spanish with me. How I missed him lurking in the back, I had no idea. Both of them gave me a once over, but I figured it was because Bella told them why I had pissed her off in Bio. I tried to act assertive and give it right back, but something about them told me to stay away.

Classes continued like normal and it was finally time to go home. However, in my last class, Physics, Mr. Greenley handed out a flyer on our way out, muttering something about extra credit in case we needed it. I nearly threw it straight into the trashcan, because I was the last person who needed extra credit in that class, but the huge "SCIENCE FAIR OF CLALLUM COUNTY" caught my eye. As I walked out to Mike's car, I read the fine print. The fair was in a couple of months, I could totally make the deadline, at least produce a mock up of the project I was working on with Dad before….

Mike honked his horn, and I booked it to his car before he did his favorite, 'drive away while Edward tries to grab the door handle' game. Idiot. But he, Eric and Tyler were the only friends I had.

The drive home went by like normal, Mike talking about the girls who were 'after him' and me trying to ignore him, but at the same time nodding and grunting something in affirmation. He wasn't a bad kid; I just didn't have a whole lot in common with him. And his jokes were getting tiresome.

He dropped me off and I continued my usual routine: sandwich, drink, and homework. I signed onto the internet and researched the fair. Actually, considering how behind this district and county seemed to be in the sciences, the Fair itself wasn't that bad. Winners of the Fair went on to compete in the State finals and then if they won there, went on to Nationals and a large scholarship for college.

I looked at my papers, scraps of metal and drawings left in my calculated disarray on my desk. If I was going to try to meet the deadline, I had a lot of work to do.

But it only took a few minutes, after calculating a few equations, when she filtered back into my brain. She. Bella. I didn't understand why she was gone, but hopefully she'd be back tomorrow.

**++**

Wednesday

No Bella.

Thursday

No Bella.

Friday

No Bella.

I was starting to get frustrated. Her family sat there at lunch every day – at their table, silent as death. I tried not to stare, but I was willing one of them to say something to each other, hoping to overhear something, anything, about Bella. Where was she? Was she sick? Was she in trouble? Did I do something so bad that she switched schools?

Biology was fine. Cakewalk, like always. I thought about talking to Alice in English, but each time I got the nerve it was like she'd disappear. Each day I'd turn around to do it and she'd be gone; standing up at the front of the class with a note for the teacher or some reason to be excused. And well, Emmett, I'll be honest, he kind of scared the shit out of me. That dude was huge.

I was at my locker, getting ready to go home and felt a nagging suggestion of something bad before it even appeared.

Jessica.

Dammit.

I had been actively avoiding her all week. She'd pop up once and I'd duck out. Duck and cover, duck and cover. I must have been off my game because here she was just a few feet from me and closing in fast. I didn't duck or cover quickly enough this time.

Harpy sounds commence in 3 – 2 – 1 and….

"EDDIE!" She tried to lean into me and I took a step back, slamming my locker closed and throwing my backpack over my shoulder. "It's Friday night, sweetums, where will you be?"

I really didn't want to be rude, so I played dumb and answered her, "Well, at home, like normal."

She worked her arm through mine, holding on to me like I was her saving grace. "Not tonight. Remember? My party. And you do not want to miss my party tonight." She stuck out her lip in a ridiculous pouty face. "You told me on Monday you would go." Then the harpy voice somehow morphed into this nauseating baby voice. I nearly dry heaved into my mouth.

"Puh-wease, Eddie? It would bweak my iddy biddy heart if my wubby dubby Eddie didn't come ober tonight…" She was blinking her eyes at me, they were so clumped up with mascara or something; they looked like tiny tarantula legs. And her voice? It didn't seem possible it could be worse, but that baby voice was definitely worse.

"I dunno, Jessica, I have some stuff I'm working on…."

"Baby," she said, suddenly the baby voice was gone and replaced with, well, I don't know what, but I think she was trying to be sexy. Who was this girl, some kind of schizo? "I'll make it worth your while…" She licked her lips, which I guess was supposed to be hot, but instead reminded me of a horse, chomping at the bit. I thought she was going to try to suck my ear again and I tried to move back and shake her arm off me. Surprisingly she let go of my arm and – WHACK – smacked me on the ass. I jumped about a mile.

"Really, baby, One Hundred Percent Guarantee…" Out of nowhere she put a lollipop in her mouth and sucked on it, swirling her tongue around the top and releasing it with her lips, creating a loud popping sound.

What the fuck is going on? Am I in the Twilight Zone?

"See you tonight, Eddie. 10 o'clock and don't be late."

***

I got into Mike's car and of course the only thing he talked about were the hotties he was going to 'score' with at Jessica's party.

"Yeah," he said, taking the corner a little too wide for my liking, "Lauren's got a really tight ass, I bet her-"

I cut him off before he made me want to jump out of a moving vehicle, "So, tell me about Bella. Will she be at the party, do you think?" I hoped this would distract him, unless he starts talking about her ass…then I might have to punch him in the face.

"Oh, my girl never goes to parties." My girl? Are you kidding me? "It would be so nice to see her in something other than her school clothes…something, say, low cut and tight." His eyes bugged out of his head and for the second time today I had to see someone disgustingly lick their lips. And now I really wanted to punch him.

"Uh, sure, yeah. So she never goes to the parties? What about her family?"

"Well, now that I think about it, there was one time Bella and her family went, but her brother got super pissed at Eric for even talking to her, so they left a few minutes after they got there."

"Which brother?"

"Emmet."

"Yeah….he's huge."

"Yeah…"

We drove the rest of the way in silence.

"So I'll pick you up around eleven?"

I looked at Mike blankly, trying to figure out a way to get out of it without looking like a complete loser. I tried to think fast.

"Uh, well, I'm not sure the nephew of the police chief should probably hang out at a party where there's going to be drinking, or whatever…."

"Oh yeah, that. Well…if you change your mind, just give me a call, alright? You could sneak out or something? Things don't start getting good 'til late anyway."

"Sure, sounds good. I'll call you if I decide to live on the edge a little."

"OK….see ya."

I slammed the door shut and Mike pealed out. I had to turn away fast to shield my face from getting gravel kicked back on me.

Yeah, still the nerd.

***

I sat there, staring at the science fair flyer, my computer and my blueprints. I glanced at the clock: 10:16pm. Charlie told me at dinner (steak and potatoes from the diner) that he had DVRed the game and was hitting the hay early tonight because he had to be at work at 3am. So is the life of the police chief, I guess. He had been in bed since 8, and I could hear the rhythmic snoring across the hall.

I stared again at my equations. Then at the clock.

She might be there…or maybe, one of her brothers or sisters? Plus, it might be fun to cut loose a little bit? I heard a loud snort across the hall which then returned to the ripsaw sound of Charlie's snoring. He'd never know.

Fuck it.

I dug into a side pocket of my cargo pants, found my phone and dialed Mike's number.

"Mike? Yeah, hey, it's Edward. Can you pick me up?"

***

Sneaking out of the house was easy, Charlie slept like the dead. I didn't even have to climb out of the window or anything – I just walked down the steps with my shoes in my hand. Mike's muffler was loud, and I was plenty paranoid, so we planned to meet at 11pm around the corner. I gently closed the front door, slipped on my shoes and pounded the pavement for a block or so. Mike was waiting for me, and I jumped into the passenger seat.

"Hey man, glad to see you growing a pair and getting out," Mike said, high fiving me, which I almost missed because I wasn't paying attention.

Eric and Tyler were in the back seat, playing their PSPs. They were probably playing each other. And they thought I was the antisocial freak. We drove a few miles outside of town and ended up turning onto a private road. It was hard to see where Mike was turning, but he seemed to know the way like the back of his hand. A few minutes later I saw lights, including large Chinese lanterns, all leading the way to a sprawling, ranch style home.

We pulled up into the wrap-around driveway, already full of cars. Despite the chilly, misty air, doors were open, and music poured out – heavy bass thumping and blaring something I wasn't sure I had ever heard before. Rap wasn't really my style. Mike parked, and we all got out of the car. Mike and Tyler sang along to the lyrics, bobbing their heads and making a few crude pelvic thrusts to the beat of the song. Once again, I wondered what the hell I was doing with these guys. Eric was already texting, and fist bumped Mike after telling him that Lauren was at the party.

"Aw yeah, that little piece is going to be mine tonight!" Mike started some kind of dance move again, to the rhythm of the beat, moving his hands like he was slapping a horse.

"Hey guys, I'm going to get a drink…I'll uh, see you in a few." I honestly didn't know what the hell I was doing here. But I knew I needed to find something to do. I pushed through the crowd, trying not to bump into anyone, especially Jessica. The house was actually pretty nice; some of the family photos on the wall weren't too bad either. Her parents looked normal. It's strange how someone so disgusting came from such a decent family.

"Mmmmmm…….mommy likey…" A voice purred in my ear. Oh shit.

"Oh – uh, yeah, hi Jessica?"

"Baby," she said, trying to wrap her arms around my waist and slide her hands into my back pockets, "I'm so glad you're here. My night would have been ruined if you didn't come."

How dumb could I be? Now where are the guys when I need them? I could feel the sweat begin, and my cheeks begin to flush. For someone so smart, apparently I don't think through things very well.

"Oh, hi there Edward – I have a couple of people I'm dying for you to meet!" A friendly, perky voice came out from the opposite side of Jessica. I stood there shocked and turned to see a girl who looked very familiar to me. I think she was in my Spanish class. Pretty brown eyes and hair in double braids, and such a friendly smile. Yes, Spanish class, definitely. And now, she was my savior. "It will just take a few minutes, Jessica, and I'll bring him right back to you."

I maneuvered myself out of Jessica's grasp and let Spanish girl grab my hand and lead me to the kitchen where I had been originally headed. Once we got into the kitchen she reached into an open cooler, holding a beer in one hand, Coke in the other with her eyebrows raised in a question. I reached for the Coke and she took the beer. We both cracked open the tops and took a deep drink.

"I'm Angela, we're in Spanish together and you looked like you needed rescue from the Junior Class Succubus."

"Yeah, thanks for that. Really, more than you know." I took another big swig of Coke.

I heard a strange noise behind me and turned to watch some girl puke in the sink and another girl hold her hair back, slurring nonsense into the back of her head.

Angela looked over to the party scene. "You wanna get outta here?"

"I just got here, but YES."

"Follow me."

She led me out the other door, past the barf queen and through an attached sunroom. There were a few couples sitting on the couches making out and now I wasn't sure if following her was a good idea either. She looked back at me and smirked, "Trust me, ok? We're not going to sit here and perv."

We continued through another door into the backyard. The mist had cleared, and it was pretty decent out, actually. I had my coat on still and Angela was wearing a thick sweater or I would offer mine to her if she got cold. We walked across the property into the trees and a few minutes later I realized she was standing in front of a huge rope swing hanging off of one of the ancient trees.

"Push me?" Angela put her beer down and sat down on the plank of wood, holding her feet out like a little girl, waiting to be pushed.

"Sure. Why not?"

I set my Coke down and pushed her for awhile, neither of us speaking, but it wasn't awkward. It was kind of nice to have someone to just be with for awhile. She seemed nice and really cool. However, I wondered if it was possible Bella might come to this party or at least some of her family. I wasn't going to find any of the Cullens out here and hopefully I would be able to man up and ask if she was ok.

"Whatcha thinking about?" Angela's voice cut through the mist that was creeping back in.

"Oh, um..." Like I could tell her. "Thanks for saving me back there. I really appreciate it."

"No problem. Jess is a skeeze. I'll warn you though, she'll probably try to find you again tonight. That girl doesn't take no for an answer."

"Yeah, I've kinda figured that out by now."

Angela laughed, and it was so cute it made me laugh too. But then she got really quiet and dragged her feet on the ground to stop the swing. I held onto the sides of the old brittle rope to help her stop, let go and moved to the side so I could lean against the tree, and take another sip of the Coke I had put on the ground. Before I sat down I handed Angela her beer.

"Thanks..." she said, taking a sip and drawing circles in the dirt with her shoe. Green Doc Martins, cool. "I've got a confession to make, Edward."

I pulled my eyes away from the curly cues in the dirt and looked up at her face. She looked scared. Hell, now I was a bit scared. "Ok?"

"I've been watching you for awhile, it's not weird or anything, I promise. It's just… Do you remember me at all?"

"Remember you?"

She let out a huge sigh, "Ok, this is going to sound really dumb. But we were friends as kids. Little kids. I know it sounds strange, but I have a really good memory. Scientists have literally done studies on my brain, you know, those little suction cup thingies? I can remember life events way earlier than most people. And…" she ran her hands down the dark brown braids on each side of her head and pulled them, seemingly out of frustration. "Well, you were my boyfriend when we were three years old. We used to play together, the summer your parents were away working and you stayed with Charlie for a few months."

That must of have been when they were in Sarajevo and the wars broke out. I could barely remember it. My only memories of that time were from pictures that Charlie took to give to my Mom. That was my first time fishing with Charlie. Heck, I think that was the first time I had even met my uncle. But I didn't remember Angela at all.

"Sorry…I mean, I recognize you from Spanish – but no, not from that summer."

She looked down at her shoes, shoulders slumped.

"Hey, Angela," I said softly. "I was your boyfriend, huh? Was I a good kisser?"

Her head shot up and at first I thought she was crying, but she was laughing. "NO! It wasn't like that; you just called me your girlfriend and threw rocks at me. There was no kissing. I thought you were disgusting!"

I started laughing too, I had to put my Coke down and I held my sides, bursting with the idea of me being some kind of bully. "Sorry about that! And here I thought I was some kind of toddler Don Juan. But throwing rocks at you? I was way off!"

We both laughed until I nearly had to put my head between my knees to catch my breath. Angela sat down next to me, rubbing tiny tears out of her eyes. "So you never forgot me, huh?" I asked, nudging her in the arm with my elbow.

"Nope, besides the rock throwing, you were really fun to play with that summer. And I was really surprised you see you came back. You look good, Edward. And I'm really sorry about your parents."

"Yeah…me too."

We sat in silence, her leaning up against my arm. And it felt nice. She felt safe, and familiar. It was nice to have a friend, and not just a new one, but a friend who knew before, even with her unique memory thing, and who also knew my parents. I turned to tell her how great this was, when she leaned in and kissed me square on the mouth. And for some reason I let her. Maybe out of shock, or just, I don't know. But she pulled away, and looked at me like I had turned into a frog or something. I didn't know what to say, but I could feel it getting weird. Because it was incredibly weird.

"This is all wrong. I don't know what it is," Angela whispered, "but when I'm kissing you, it's like I'm kissing….my brother. I guess that doesn't make any sense.

"Believe me, it makes perfect sense. Um, but, I'm not related to you, right?"

"No, definitely not." She wiped her mouth on the back of her hand, popped up from the ground and held out her hand. "Friends? Just friends?"

I shook her hand and she somehow pulled me up off the ground; she was a lot stronger than she looked. "Yes. Definitely friends."

A/N

I really hope you catch the not-so-subtle Back to the Future quote in this chapter! Big props to my wonderful beta and friend, OnePushyFox. And a big thanks for you, for sticking by me and my super slow writing and updating. Just know the next chapter is a big 'un. Let the romance finally commence!!! Thanks again for reading and reviewing!!!!