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It was my first day at a new school and I was running late. I pulled my new Audi A3 into the parking lot and grabbed the paperwork I would need today. I couldn't help the way my heart stuttered as it beat against my chest. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.
You can do this, I reminded myself, it's not your first time starting over.
As I made my way across the car park and into the school, I took a brief second to remember why I was starting over. The heartbreak of the last few months since love left my life. I swallowed hard. I needed to forget that part of my life if I was going to move on. I took another deep breath and pushed the door to the office open. The receptionist was a lovely looking lady in her mid-thirties.
"Hello." I greeted her.
"Mrs Black?" She asked.
God, I can't even think of the pain and bitterness that name caused me at the moment. "Actually, I've gone back to Swan since the divorce. But you can call me Bella."
She nodded sadly at me. "Well, it's nice to meet you Bella. I'm June. I hope you enjoy teaching here." She smiled sweetly and handed over a map and schedule.
I nodded back at her, glad I was in a small town again. I had surprisingly missed the small schools while I was doing my practical experience and while I was at college. I nodded my thanks to June and left the office, taking a minute to familiarize myself with the map. I couldn't believe the butterflies fluttering in my stomach. My first year as a proper teacher, no more teachers aiding, no more practical experience and evaluations.
I read through the schedule. Great! I had the juniors first. Most of them would be barely 7 or 8 years younger than me. Oh well, it could be worse. I could have the seniors, who would be closer again to my age.
I ran across the campus. When I was close to the classroom I stopped to collect myself. I checked my watch. I had made up a little bit of time but I would still arrive after the students were seated. I sighed.
At least I was staying in this room the whole day. The last school I had been at, for my final evaluations, I had been tossed from one end of the school to the other each period. I guess that was the advantage of these smaller schools. There were only 300 students and as one of only two English teachers here I was sure to get to know at least half of them well.
By the time I reached the classroom I had managed to calm myself down a little. I was late but at least I wasn't flustered. I could see through the window on the door that my desk and blackboard were directly opposite the door. I saw the name written on the blackboard. Mrs Black. I mentally cursed myself for not phoning the school and letting them know I reverted to my maiden name. I didn't want anything left to tie me to Jacob, not since he imprinted and left me for that little... I took a deep breath and reminded myself that it wasn't anyone's fault that Jacob imprinted on Sam and Emily's little girl, Harriett.
Jacob and I were married the year after I finished high school, as soon as he turned 18. The year Harriett was born. Emily was eight months pregnant at our wedding. I should have known then that something was up because Jacob had been extra attentive to Emily, almost as if something drew him in to her. I wrote it off as just being his caring nature. After we were married we left for my second year of college together and were so happy. I had received a full scholarship, which covered tuition, board and an allowance for expenses, so we lived fairly well. The strange thing was, I didn't remember applying for the particular scholarship I received. But then again, my senior year was a bit of a blur to me. I knew the exact reason for that but I tended to block it out. If I thought about Jacob leaving it hurt, bad, but it was nothing compared to the pain of even considering thinking about him.
When I finished college, just before I started my first practical experience posting, we returned to Forks to visit our family and friends. Of course that meant a trip down to La Push. That was when he met Harriett for the first time and that was the end of our marriage. Of course we tried to make it work for a few years, convinced we could be happy until Harriett grew up and could reciprocate his feelings. But my job meant moving regularly and he was never happy when he was away from Harriett. I could tell it hurt him to hurt me by leaving but it also hurt him to still be involved with me. Every kiss, every touch after that day was a lie and they all rang with insincerity. In the end we were both hurting each other too much so we called it quits. Looking back now I realise we should have just given up the second he imprinted, at least that way we might have remained friends. Now there was nothing between us except animosity.
And now I was dredging up all that pain seconds before walking into a classroom full of teenagers. And I needed to teach them Shakespeare.
I sighed to compose myself again and pushed the door open. I didn't even glance at the students. I heard the customary gasps as I entered the room. I swore one was louder than the others but I ignored them all. I was used to the gasps from the girls as they considered my looks and were surprised that I was a teacher rather than a student and I was used to the gasps from the boys as they considered my looks and found pleasure in the womanly way my curves were now arranged.
I stalked straight to the blackboard and rubbed off the offending name and wrote "Ms Swan" instead. As I wrote I spoke to the class behind me, "Sorry, there had been a little misunderstanding about my name. I am..."
I couldn't finish that sentence because the second I turned around to face the class I saw the one sight I had thought I would never see again.
A pair of golden-brown eyes framed by a set of black eyelashes, staring out at my from the most seraphic face I had ever seen.
I had to lean on the desk for support and take a deep breath before I was able to continue. "I am Ms. Swan. I will be your English teacher this year."
I allowed myself a quick glance in his direction. He looked as confused as I felt. Hopefully that meant he hadn't known I would be here. Although that didn't necessarily mean that Alice hadn't seen me in one of her visions.
I told everyone to pull their books from their bags as I called the roll. I was proud of myself when I managed to say his name without stumbling. I pushed myself to continue the lesson. We were going to study Romeo and Juliet for the next few weeks. Usually I loved teaching this, it was one of my fondest memories from my time doing practical experience, but now, in this classroom, with him right there, I wished I had settled on something by Shakespeare of a slightly less romantic nature. Hamlet maybe. Death and destruction would definitely be preferable to one of the greatest love stories ever told.
The hour seemed to drag on longer than any other in my life but finally the bell rang and the class headed out the door. I sat at my desk pulling together my notes for the next class. After the classroom was quiet and empty I could still feel a presence. I knew who it was going to be but I said a silent prayer that I was wrong as I lifted my eyes.
Of course, I wasn't wrong. I sighed when Edward stood as soon as he knew my eyes were on him. In the next instant he was right in front of me. I had almost forgotten the sheer speed he could travel at and his movement startled me. My heart sped and my breathing hitched. He was inches from my face. So close I could smell his honeyed breath and almost taste him on my tongue.
I could see an internal debate raging in his eyes and he slowly raised his hand and pressed it to my cheek. He was so slow and careful it was as if he thought I might disappear at any second. Once his cold fingers cradled my cheek he sighed, but it came out sounding like my name, "Bella".
I couldn't do this. I had moved on. Despite the way my hands longed to touch his face in return and my lips begged to be pressed to his, I had moved on. I took a deep breath to steady my voice and slow my heart. "Edward. I am a teacher at this school and you will show me the respect I deserve."
He cast his eyes downward and dropped his hand. "Yes, Miss."
He looked so sad I wanted to reach out and comfort him but I couldn't. He wasn't mine anymore, and that was his own choice. I closed my eyes. "If that is all, I would advise you to head to your next class or you will be late."
I opened my eyes again and was immediately lost in his. I could see his desire to argue, to remind me that he could leave this room with seconds to spare and still make his next class on time if he so desired, instead he simply said, "Yes, Miss."
I closed my eyes again, not wanting to see him walk out but I heard him taking his time packing his bag and a sense of curiosity hit me. He looked surprised before but I knew how easily he could lie - especially to me. After all, each 'I love you' was nothing more than a lie.
"Edward?" I asked and I heard him stop moving at the sound of my voice but I couldn't force myself to open my eyes again. "Did you know?"
I could tell he knew what I meant immediately by the way his breathing sounded, it was astonishing that after so many years I could still pick up on his mood even without seeing him. "No, Alice never told me. We... don't speak much anymore."
I opened my eyes in time to see him stalking out of the class room, before I had the change to ask the reason why.
I sighed and gathered up the notes for the next class when two more ghosts from my past walked through the door.
"Bella! You're still as red-faced as ever," Emmett called out from where he stood at the door. In the next second he had closed the distance between us, pulled me into a bear-hug, spun me once before putting me down and walking to his seat.
I huffed at him, "Emmett. Please don't make me remind you too. I am a teacher here."
"Too? You mean?" Emmett looked confused for half a second before registering the look on my face and grasping who I meant. His face registered with regret. "Aw man. How'd that go?"
I shrugged. I didn't know if I could talk around the lump in my throat. At least, not without spilling tears. I felt a calm wash over me and looked up to see Jasper sitting in his seat with a sheepish look on his face.
"Ma'am," he said and flicked me a fake salute.
I smiled in response. "You know - I could get used to having you around, Jasper. I need some calm sometimes."
Emmett and Jasper both laughed. Then Emmett grinned at me. "You know Miss. Yours might be the one class where Eddie actually pays attention."
I didn't fail to notice Jasper's sly punch to silence Emmett.
"You know, because he can't just pluck the answers from your mind. He's become so used to doing that in exams sometimes I wonder if he actually knows anything anymore." Emmett laughed loudly at his own joke but I could tell by the look he shared with Jasper that wasn't going to be his initial point. However I couldn't go into it further because at that moment the other students started to filter into the room.
As much as I had been dreading teaching the Seniors I actually found this lesson to be much more enjoyable. Because the Seniors were focused so heavily on college and the future they actually wanted to learn and as a whole were much better behaved then I would have thought. The one thing I worried about was Emmett, I knew how much of a practical joker he could be. I was concerned I would bear the brunt of one of those jokes but he was well behaved, today at least. Jasper as an absolute godsend, each time my nerves started to creep up on me I would feel a wave of calm and I would shoot him a small smile as thanks.
By the end of the day I hadn't seen Alice or Rosalie so I figured they must be in the class of the other English teacher, but I was sure I would see them around. It was a small school after all. Although, truthfully I could quite happily go without seeing Rosalie.
I found the worst classes were the ones with the younger students. They weren't interested in school or the future. They didn't want to learn about Shakespeare or poetry or any one the wonderful things English classes can teach. Especially the freshmen I had for the last period. They were ready to leave before they even entered the room.
At the end of the day I felt exhausted and drained and I trudged my way back to the office.
"Hi, Bella," June called pleasantly. "How was your first day."
I smiled at her. "Pretty good. None of the students were monsters at least." I laughed at my own joke, knowing in fact three of my students were monsters, terrifying ones at that. Then I decided I had better be honest and upfront about knowing the Cullens before any rumours started, I was sure they would be more friendly towards me than any of the other students. "Actually, I found out I know some of the kids."
June looked surprised. This town was exactly like Forks - families stretched back generations. "Really? Who"
"The Cullens," I said casually, forcing myself not to laugh when I saw her jaw drop. Obviously that caused the same reaction here as they had in Forks. "I knew them when I was in high school. But I lost contact with them in my senior year, about 7 years ago now." I didn't mention that they were in high school with me at the time.
"Really? So you would have known them when they were just little kids? It must be strange seeing them all grown up now."
I knew I was a bad liar so I settled with as much of the truth as I could tell her. "It certainly was a surprise seeing them again."
"So did you know their father too? You must be about the same age as him."
"Carlisle? I'm a few years younger than him but sure I know him, we used to get along great." I laughed that I couldn't tell her exactly how much younger than him I was.
"Are the rumours about him true?"
I didn't have to ask what rumours. I knew it would have been the talk of the town when the Adonis-like doctor joined the staff. I just nodded.
By the time I finished gossiping with June about my first day and the Cullens the car park was almost completely empty. I crossed to my car and my heart leapt into my throat as I caught sight of the solitary figure leaning against my Audi. His auburn hair blowing gently in the breeze.
I nodded curtly to him. "Edward."
"Bella. We need to talk."
I sighed and nodded, I should have seen this coming. I threw my door open.