A/N Sorry, sorry, sorry!
Disclaimer: All Twilight and Sky High related characters and scenarios do not belong to me
This chapter begins on the Friday of Rosalie's Birthday Party, so back in time just a little bit. It's in Edward's POV, and there's a whole lot of stuff going on.
Chapter 9 - Friend or Foe
"So when are you gonna ask her?" I heard a male voice inquire from behind me.
The question wasn't directed at me, but knowing who it was about made it impossible for me to ignore. I gritted my teeth and glared at the front, the spot just behind Aro's head. I grudgingly listened in on the whispered conversation between Alex and Benjamin as they motioned toward the lab table which Alice and Bella occupied.
I could practically feel my eyes shifting to bright red as I imagined her saying yes to one of those juvenile pricks. Maybe it was me, but it seemed like half the school (the male half, that is) was lined up and just waiting to ask Bella to the upcoming Homecoming Dance. So much for "Girls Choice".
"Jacob Black was pretty confident that she was going to ask him, so if she hasn't asked him by the end of the day today, I'll make my move at Rosalie's party," Benjamin replied. His voice was a little too enthusiastic for my taste and he managed to catch Aro's attention, distracting him from his lecture.
"Who can tell me the best way to use your gift on a very broad expanse of land, for instance an entire building or even a small town? Benjamin?" Aro asked pointedly. For any other teacher, this sort of pointed question would be considered a reprimand or even a punishment, but there was no mistaking the indulgent little grin on Aro's face. Sometimes it felt like we could do no wrong in this class. Aro never grew angry or revealed any sort of annoyance with our actions.
Benjamin simply shrugged and grinned apologetically, unable to answer the question. Idiot.
"Bella, any ideas?" Aro asked with a wink. I saw Victoria scowl behind his back, I don't think she was used to anyone else being the favorite. At least, not Aro's favorite.
A little flushed from the attention, Bella took a deep breath and answered in a confident voice. "Well, I suppose I would take a few moments to center myself, and then concentrate on forcing all the energy in my body from my stomach to my outer extremities. Using the visualization methods we learned earlier, I would picture the area I wanted to freeze and then expel all the energy from my body in a single fluid motion as I exhaled."
Aro beamed at her, "Such a natural," he praised, "It's so nice to hear you speak up in class my dear."
She blushed at his comment and I made sure to spin my head away as quickly as possible. I agreed with him completely—hearing her say anything, even if she was reading straight from a dictionary of boring medical terminology, would feel like music. But I couldn't look at her when she blushed like that, it was too tempting.
I knew it was my own fault that we hadn't spoken in weeks, but it stung a little that she didn't even seem the least bit bothered by my avoidance. Alice was a different story altogether though.
Alice was barely speaking to me, ignoring me when we were at school and making it overly obvious that she was furious with me for not joining her happy little circle of friends. Just last night she graduated to threatening me. She had barged into my room around 8 p.m. and told me we could do things the easy way or the hard way. Essentially, she informed me that if I didn't attend Rosalie's birthday party/debutant ball that Alice was throwing, then she would expose my responsibility in breaking Esme's beautiful ceramic vase. The one she inherited from her grandmother.
It was 6 years ago when it broke, and the swindling 8 year old that she was, agreed to keep the secret but promised that one day she would call on a favor in return. Over the years, I had assumed she'd forgotten, but apparently the little godfather protégé wanted to cash in her "favor" by forcing me to attend the stupid party with all her friends, not to mention a good amount of people that she probably didn't even know.
When the bell rang to signal the end of the school week, Benjamin rushed out of his seat to carry Bella's backpack (which she thankfully refused) and walk her to the bus. What a chump—he didn't even ride the stupid bus. I purposefully ignored the fact that I had done the same thing myself when I first met Bella.
The rest of the students had rushed out of the classroom as soon as the bell rang, but I slowly gathered my things and prepared to go home. As I was finally zipping up my back pack, a girl with purple hair casually strolled into the class toward Aro's desk. I recognized her as one of the people that Alice and Bella usually ate lunch with, but I couldn't remember her name.
She carelessly tossed a note onto Aro's desk and turned to leave, when she was halted by Aro clearing his throat to gain her attention. "Excuse me young lady, but what is this?" he asked, lifting the note with his pencil as if he was too disgusted to touch it.
"A note," she said sarcastically, then turned to leave again.
"I'm aware that it's a note," he responded with an icy tone that I barely recognized. His normal reedy voice resounded with a much lower pitch. "I deduced that with my own two eyes, what I'm unaware of, however, is why it's on my desk."
The girl flipped her hair behind her shoulder in a move that I recognized as a sign of defiance. "I was unaware that you couldn't read Dr. Banner."
The skin on Aro's bare forehead creased as his eyes grew wide, and then narrowed. "Perhaps you should watch your tone," he advised in a shockingly dangerous voice. I had finished gathering my things already, but I was trapped in the classroom watching this confrontation. I was intrigued because I had never seen Aro act anything but completely cordial, I almost preferred she didn't watch her tone, just to see what would happen.
The girl opened her mouth to respond again, most likely with something that would make my day, but Aro cut her off this time. "I would hate to give you a detention Miss Weber, but if the next words out of your mouth are not an apology and an explanation for your rude behavior, I shall have no choice."
"Fine," she practically growled. I couldn't help my smile. "I'm sorry you're a pompous know-it-all, and my rude behavior is likely a result of your rude treatment of me and those you deem inferior. I simply came in here to deliver a note from the front office—apparently you have a visitor, a Mr. Volturi—and I'm probably going to miss my bus home thanks to this little side trip. Have a nice day," she seethed, and then proceeded to storm out of the room.
"One moment Miss Weber," Aro called sanguinely, but his voice hadn't returned to its normal pitch—there was still something menacing about it. When she turned to glare at him, he tore a slip of paper off his pad of detention slips and held it out to her. "No need to worry about missing your bus now is there?" he asked, "Please report to Principal Powers' office for your detention assignment right away. I'll let her know you're coming."
Her eyes burned with so much fury, I wondered if they would turn red like mine. She ripped the paper out of his hands and tore it in half before tossing it on the floor and once again storming out of the room. I tried to hide my grin when Aro finally looked at me inquisitively. That girl was a spitfire, she reminded me of Bella.
His face lifted into an amused grin in turn, apparently misinterpreting my expression for approval of his actions. "Ah Edward, if there's one thing I've learned in my time teaching here," he said calmly, the usual reedy voice back in use, "It is that insolence is everywhere, and it needs to be dealt with accordingly."
There was a soft knock on the door that saved me from answering, so I quickly swung my backpack on so that I could leave before Aro's visitor arrived.
"Do you have a moment Edward, there's somebody I'd love for you to meet. You're not missing a bus or anything, correct?"
I shook my head and waited curiously, feeling slightly uncomfortable, especially after what I had just witnessed. Aro opened the door for a man in a raven black business suit that matched the exact shade of his hair. He looked familiar. "Marcus, such a lovely surprise, what are you doing here this afternoon?" he asked amicably.
Marcus' eyes looked glazed when he finally glanced over toward me. "One of your students?" he asked, ignoring Aro's small talk.
"Indeed," Aro beamed, "One of my finest. Edward, I'd like for you to meet Marcus Volturi, you might recognize him as the Honorable Marcus Volturi, or perhaps as the soon-to-be elected Senator Volturi."
I nodded, I had seen a few of his campaign commercials, now that I thought about it. "Nice to meet you," I said simply.
"Are you in Aro's elements class, then?" His eyes seemed to become foggier the longer he looked at me. I felt the skin on my neck begin to prickle, and subconsciously my hands moved to a more defensive position, ready to expel fire at a moment's notice.
I nodded, feeling uncertain.
"Wonderful," Aro crooned. "Now I hate to ask you to leave Edward, but unfortunately, this conversation is likely a private one. Have a splendid weekend, I'll see you on Monday."
Without a word I pushed up the other strap on my backpack and walked toward the teleportation classroom, still feeling uneasy. Who was Aro really? He was a super genius, and he taught a class of super heroes how to control their elements, but that was really all I knew about him. What was he doing consorting with politicians?
There was obviously another side to Aro, one that he was able to conceal completely at times, but maybe it wasn't anything significant. Maybe Marcus Volturi was just a long time friend and maybe Aro just didn't react well to sarcasm. But then I thought of all the sarcastic remarks that had occurred within his elements class. Bella was probably the worst perpetrator of such comments, but she was undoubtedly his favorite. I shook my head to clear my mind of the confusing thoughts. Who Aro was outside of class wasn't really any concern of mine. He was a really good teacher when it came to Elements and I felt like I had a better mastery of my ability than ever before. I felt more powerful with my ability than ever before—but I felt more dangerous as well. I would just have to work on my control more.
At quarter to nine I slipped into the fancy clothes that Alice insisted I wear and drove to Rosalie's house. I loved having my license because it meant I didn't have to show up with anybody else and I could leave whenever I pleased—well whenever Alice was satisfied with me at least.
Planning already how to best make an early escape, I marched up the cobble stone walkway to the great oak doors that lead inside. I was dreading this. Alice had texted me earlier to let me know that she was hanging out upstairs with Jasper so as soon as I was inside, I made my way to the stairs in order to prove that I had come.
But then all my plans evaporated into thin air, right along with any other coherent thoughts I might have had when I glanced up and saw who was standing at the top of the stair case. Bella.
Of course it was her, who else could turn my mind to mush so completely? Her glorious dark hair was shinier than ever and styled in luxurious curls that fell past her shoulders. Her pale skin looked to be glowing in the lighting of the front hall, and her pale blue dress fitted her tiny curves perfectly. The best part, as always, was her eyes. They were molten brown and mysterious, and she had some kind of shimmery power applied all around them. They drew me in and held me without hope of escape. She was so beautiful.
Before I knew it, she was gliding down the stairs. I was mesmerized by the trail of ice she left in her path as she came to a stop right in front of me.
I honestly have no idea what she said to me—much less what I said in return, though I'm sure it was nothing poetic. But then Newton showed up and ruined it. He brought the real world with him and I was reminded once again of all the admirers already vying for Bella's attention and of all the reasons I couldn't be one of them. I was sure they would all be in heaven with her tonight—in that dress. Why did she have to wear that dress?
After tonight, I was most likely going to hate my life, right along with whichever little jerk she chose to take to the Homecoming Dance. Alice was cruel making me come here to witness this.
When she seemed to be distracted, I escaped to the huge kitchen that Rosalie's mother had recently finished remodeling. There were waiters everywhere assembling trays of hors d'oeuvres and pouring drinks on the long marble countertop so I grabbed a glass out of the cupboard and filled it with water out of the sink, trying not to disrupt their work. I idly wondered if Rose's mother was here tonight, she usually loved this type of soiree, always inviting people over to the house. Thinking about how reclusive Jasper typically acted and how distant Rosalie remained with anybody apart from her close circle of friends always made me question if she was even really related to them—apart from their looks of course, Jasper and Rosalie both got their light hair and eyes from Mrs. Hale.
I began imagining some of the plans and excuses I had cooked up to escape the party early while still keeping Alice satisfied, when I remembered I still hadn't told her I had arrived even arrived. I walked back to the door that lead out to the living room, where most of the party guests were congregated, and peeked out, searching for her in the room. I saw a few of the people that Alice and Bella ate lunch with, including the girl with the purple hair who yelled at Aro today, but it looked like most of the people in attendance were in the Hero class, not sidekicks.
Benjamin and Alex were talking to Jacob Black on the far side of the room, their eyes roaming around the other people in the room, likely searching for Bella. I spied James and Laurent, much to my surprise, huddled in a corner, speaking to Victoria, and another girl in my year whom I recognized as Heidi Reynolds—Heidi was able to make exact replicas of herself, and she employed her clones as the unofficial cheering squad at the school. Why we needed a cheering squad? I had no idea.
Alice was nowhere in sight, so I made my way to the secondary parlor in order to look for her there. I saw Rosalie conversing with Kate Denali and the girl I was pretty certain was her younger sister, Tanya. Irinia was nearby with a few other girls I didn't really know, so I made sure to stay out of their line of sight. I waved at Rosalie and mouthed "Happy Birthday" hoping that she would act as my witness if Alice decided I hadn't done enough mingling at the party.
As soon as she saw me though, Rose nearly sprinted away from the Denali sisters and wrapped my arm around her shoulder in a shockingly intimate way. "Um, I don't think Emmett—," I started to complain, but she cut me off.
"Oh don't flatter yourself Edward, I just wanted to see the look on their faces when they see you willingly talking to me while you do such a good job of evading them."
"Willingly?" I teased. She swatted my arm.
"Have you seen Emmett? I haven't seen him in half an hour and being nice and talking to people that I would happily ignore on a regular basis is driving me mad. I need him."
"Um, we could check in the kitchen," I suggested, perhaps a little too eagerly. Being around all these people was making me a little crazy as well—especially wondering where Bella was and who she might be talking to. I wanted to know and see the lucky individual for myself, but at the same time I didn't.
"Ok, I haven't checked there yet," she agreed.
"You haven't seen Alice around have you?" I asked after a moment. As soon as we were in the kitchen Rose removed herself from beneath my arm and began looking over the trays of food and drinks with a critical eye.
"She came down for a second, to see if you had arrived, but she went right back upstairs, she said something about a baseball game on TV."
"So Jasper's up there I take it?"
She grinned mischievously and nodded. "He doesn't particularly care for this type of thing, so Alice will probably humor him and let him hang out in one of the upstairs bedrooms for the rest of the evening."
I frowned, that was so unfair!
"Ray, what did you say these were called again?" she asked, pointing to a tray of crispy looking pastries.
The head waiter turned and glanced at the dish before smoothly responding, "Those are the spinach empanadas Miss Hale, they're quite good with the mustard sauce, would you like to try one?"
She nodded and picked one up before dipping it in the sauce. She bit it daintily then turned around to face me. "Here Edward, do you want to try—there they are! I was starting to worry!" she exclaimed, looking past me and out the window by the sink.
I spun around to see who she was talking about and caught sight of Emmett and Bella sitting close together on a patio surrounded by rose bushes and twinkling lights just outside. The lights reflected off of Bella's hair, making it impossible for me to look away. "Is that—?" I paused, "Are they—?" The sudden onslaught of jealousy crept out of my stomach and closed my throat up, making it difficult to breathe.
Rosalie began hitting me on the back, releasing me from my stupor. "Breathe Edward! Breathe!" she called.
"What the—?" I still hadn't regained any sort of speech mastery so it was difficult to finish a sentence. "Will you—?" After two more whacks, I finally twisted out of her reach and stared at her with my mouth agape. "Was that really necessary?"
The devious smirk on her face made me think not. "I just saved your life, you should be thanking me," she said haughtily, "Your tomb stone would have read, 'Death by Irrational Jealousy' your parents would have been so embarrassed!"
It took me a moment to process what she had said, and in turn, what she was implying. "Wha—," I sputtered, "No! No way. I am not jealous. It's just Emmett, and I don't have any reason to be jealous, it's not what you think," I said in a rush.
She rolled her eyes at me and shook her head. "Edward you stopped breathing at the sight of her with another boy. A boy who has practically adopted her as his long lost little sister. Not to mention, a boy who is very much taken," she said pointedly.
I nodded, attempting to release all remnants of the leftover raw emotion. I had become familiar with the little green monster over the past few weeks, but never had I been prone to such an attack. What was wrong with me?
"Relax Edward," she continued, a bit more subdued, "They're just talking. I trust Emmett and I trust Bella, heck they're probably talking about you out there and all the drama you cause in Bella's life," she mused.
I looked at her feeling confused, "What drama? She doesn't even care that we haven't spoken in over two weeks. I don't think she likes me," I admitted.
To my great surprise, Rose smacked me again—but this time on the back of the head. "Stupid boy," she muttered, and then walked right out of the kitchen saying something about having to attend to her party guests.
I was too busy rubbing the back of my head, wondering if Rose had been lifting weights with Emmett lately to say anything in protest. What was her deal?
Conceptually, I knew Rosalie was 100 percent right about trusting Emmett and Bella out on the patio—alone—but that didn't stop me from keeping an eye on them through the kitchen window, just in case.
They talked for several minutes and I found myself moving closer and closer to the sliding glass door which led out to the patio. What were they talking about anyway?
I tried to look occupied with the bushy green fake plant stationed by the back door when Emmett finally came back inside. But despite my efforts, he called to me almost instantly after sliding the door closed with a click. The knowing smirk on his face made me nervous. "Edward Cullen, just the fire breathing man I was looking for," he said loudly, drawing the attention of a group of junior girls nearby.
"Hey Emmett, what can I do for you?" I greeted, much more quietly.
His grin grew and there was no denying the mischievousness in his expression. "Oh, nothing for me, but Bella on the other hand has asked for a word with you," he paused for a moment to let that sink in, "She saw you spying on us while we were talking, she looks pretty upset. You should probably go talk to her right away," he advised. He looked far too happy about this.
I swallowed hard and realized that I had just screwed up and now I would have to apologize. I walked past him to the door feeling slightly mortified and thoroughly afraid. I pulled the it open and stopped in the frame. What if she was really angry with me? Would she freeze me again?
I studied her features for a moment and couldn't find the anger that Emmett had alluded to. The confused me. "Edward," she gasped, as if I had frightened her.
We didn't even talk about my being caught in the act of espionage and I started to wonder if Emmett had been making the whole thing up. Instead, she made her arguments once again as to why she was just as dangerous as I was and slowly she began breaking through my carefully constructed walls. It didn't help that they had been exhausted this past week from the inside, now all she had to do was knock a few times and the airtight structure I had built to keep her away from me for her own protection, came tumbling down.
I was tired of avoiding her, tired of pretending she didn't affect me, and my will was crumpling thanks to that darn dress. And then the kiss.
I can guarantee it was no ordinary kiss. Her icy cold lips and breath chilled me to the bone and the feeling was all electricity and sparks. She was so cold that she burned and I felt like my blood wanted to boil.
There were tiny ice crystals everywhere and I melted them as soon as they formed. They were delicious, and she was delicious—like cool mint. I never wanted to stop.
She told me to stop staying away from her. My body sang. My mind found no objections—at least none that I could remember while she had me locked in this mental fog.
My hand remained wrapped in hers as if she was begging me to stay and we stared at each other for a long minute until the moment was ruined when I heard a girly giggle resound from somewhere above my head. It was distinctly not Bella, but it was also not unfamiliar.
"Alice!" I growled.
She didn't pull her head back inside the upstairs window quickly enough to avoid getting caught. Bella would most likely think spying was some sort of Cullen tradition at this point.
Defiantly, Alice puffed her head back out and stared me in the eye with the same threatening look she had used to convince me to attend this party in the first place. "Don't 'Alice' me!" she yelled, with absolutely no remorse. "You wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for me, you should be thanking—," she cut off speaking. I stared up at her in confusion until I noticed that her mouth looked to be frozen shut. She was fumbling with it and glaring down at us.
"Thank you Alice," Bella said pointedly. When I realized what had happened I couldn't help the smile that broke across my face.
"I've been trying to get her to shut up for years, and finally I've found somebody who is able to do it for me. Wow, I definitely surrender. You are the one mighty and powerful ice maker, how did I ever doubt your power?" I laughed and Alice scowled indignantly as she slammed the window closed.
Bella laughed as well and I found I really enjoyed the sound. I wanted to make her do that again.
"So what now, Edward?" she asked.
I smiled when she said my name. It was really nice hearing her say it.
"I take it you're throwing all my cautions to the wind and ignoring any sense of self preservation you may or may not have?" I teased, half-seriously. I still wasn't convinced that she completely understood what she was getting herself into.
"And I take it you are lacking a sense of self preservation yourself, if you are really insisting on asking me that once again," she said back. The hint of snowy white that began to cloud her eyes alerted me to the seriousness of her threat. She would really freeze me again if she felt that would help me respect her abilities more. She didn't understand though. It wasn't that I didn't respect her abilities, I just didn't trust mine. Fire was too volatile, too unpredictable. I could light myself or my surroundings on fire at any moment. My accident log was filled with minor mishaps that occurred on an everyday basis for me. There was a reason my parents kept 11 fire extinguishers around my house and refilled them every two weeks. I was out of control.
Pushing all those thoughts out of my head, I decided to just live in the moment. "Can I ask you to the Homecoming Dance?" I said after a minute. So maybe I was just as bad as the other boys at Sky High, but I was pretty sure I had a better chance than they did at the moment.
Her eyes melted immediately back to dark brown. She smiled and then began shaking her head. "Edward, I would have thought you hated that sort of thing. I'm almost disappointed," she said.
I just shrugged. It was true; I did hate that sort of thing. "But how else am I going to show all the boys at this school that you're taken?" I challenged, "Besides, Aro really wants our class to attend the dinner he's holding right before the dance. If we're getting dressed up and going to the school anyway, we might as well attend the dance."
"Good point," she conceded. I grinned triumphantly and she traced her finger along my lips, studying me closely as I tilted my head forward and kissed her finger tip. Her eyes were looking a little cloudy again.
"You should really smile more often," she whispered, "That smile—," she shook her head and her curls bounced everywhere as if she was trying to dispel an image from her mind. "On second thought, maybe you shouldn't, that thing is dangerous."
"What thing?" I questioned.
She shook her head again and completely changed subjects. "So has your sister ever actually been wrong before?"
I grinned and rolled me eyes. Alice did have an uncanny ability to predict the outcome of almost any situation.
"Not that I can remember," I replied, "What was she right about this time?"
She bit her bottom lip and seemed to contemplate for a minute before speaking again, "It's just the Homecoming Dance was supposed to be 'Girls Choice' and you hadn't even talked to me for two weeks, I mean, how did she know? She specifically told me that you would ask me at some point this evening."
Oh Alice. That girl was impossible. "She stacked the odds in her favor of course," I explained, "There was no way I would be able to stay away from you tonight when you're wearing that dress, and then when you go and do things like, I don't know… kiss me?" I teased.
"You mean like this?" She grinned and pecked me on the cheek.
I shook my head, "No, more like this," I responded with a soft touch on her bottom lip.
"Oh you mean this is all I had to do to get you to start talking to me again?" she laughed with a kiss to my upper lip. I liked this game.
"Yeah I'm pretty sure, I would have had to talk to you if you would have done this," I concluded, kissing her full on both lips.
When I pulled back, her eyes were squinted half close and she was studying me again, with her bottom lip sucked between her teeth. "You know, I really wish somebody would have told me that earlier so we could have stopped this whole ridiculous avoidance thing a heck of a lot sooner," she said softly.
"What? You were unhappy? I thought you didn't even notice?"
"Ha!" she laughed one slightly bitter, completely humorless chuckle then grew serious. "Promise me one thing Edward."
I stared at her, uncomprehending.
"Just promise me that next time you decide you're going to ignore me for my own good, you'll at least give me some kind of warning first."
I nodded, feeling ashamed, "Sorry".
She lifted one eyebrow and continued to stare at me expectantly.
And with that, she relaxed. She rested her head on my shoulder and we sat together outside for a wonderful amount of time—one that I would not forget anytime soon. I loved talking to Bella, we had a lot in common, and her answers always surprised me.
"So what's your take on flowers?" I had asked at one point.
She shrugged, "They're nice I suppose. I think I'd rather look at a field full of flowers, or a bush planted in the Earth then a bouquet of them in a vase. Once they're in the vase though, it doesn't matter what you do, eventually they'll just fade. It's kind of sad really."
"Do you think we should go back inside?" she asked eventually.
I shook my head. I absolutely did not ever want to leave this place. Ever.
"I think we missed the cake, but we should probably go back in and tell the rest of the party guests good night," she suggested.
"I could take you home now if you'd like," I offered, eager to spend more time with her.
She smiled hesitantly. "I'm actually staying here tonight. Charlie, er, my father is out of town working on a case," she explained. I noticed the worried pitch that her voice adopted as she spoke about her father.
"What does he do?" I wondered, though I was pretty certain I had heard Alice mention he was a police officer before.
"He works for the NYPD," she said, "He's working on a kidnapping case right now. A woman, about 30 years old was kidnapped from her job at a computer company in Pennsylvania."
I considered that for a moment. "Does he usually leave town to work on cases? Don't police officers only work within their jurisdiction, why would he go to Pennsylvania?"
The listless smile she had been wearing on her face just moments ago was completely fallen, "Yes, usually he works within his jurisdiction. But this case is very similar to one he had several years ago, one he was never able to solve. He's been obsessing over the case for as long as I can remember, and when this happened he rushed over to Pittsburgh and hopped on the case before anybody could question him. He's a hard worker, and he's very brave. I know he did everything in his power to try and find the woman all those years ago, but he still feels like it's his fault she disappeared. He never stopped looking for her. I think he believes the two cases might be related in some way. He didn't tell me everything though," she said. Her eyes were locked on mine, as if trying to gauge my reaction to all this.
I wrapped my arm more tightly around her cold body and asked the question I suspected I already knew the answer to. "Who was the woman who disappeared all those years ago?"
"Her name is Renee, Renee Swan, my mother," she admitted softly. She looked so worried and upset, I felt horrible for asking.
"It will be alright, I'm sure he'll be just fine Bella. Don't worry about him," I tried to comfort her.
"I don't really like having him out of the city working on a case like this. What if something happens to him? I can't protect him when he's so far away," she sighed. I hugged her tighter and shivered at the cold feeling of her skin.
"If he's anything like you, I'm sure he's smart enough to avoid any truly dangerous situations," I said, still trying to relieve her worry.
Surprisingly, she giggled and pulled away to look at me in the face. "So you're saying that I'm smart enough to avoid dangerous situations are you? Does that mean you're finally admitting that you're not truly dangerous to me?"
I scowled. "No," I said, petulantly. "You're smart, but you lack that whole self preservation gene that most people depend on, I don't even know how you've made it this far."
She laughed again and kissed me on the cheek. "Maybe you're not quite as scary as you seem to think," she teased.
"Oh come on, let's go say good bye to the rest of the guests, if anybody is even still here," I said.
"Alright," she agreed with another laugh as she stood up. I was glad that I had at least gotten her to laugh again, even if it was at my own expense.
She placed her hands in mine and pulled me to my feet so we could walk inside, but I refused to let her hand go even after I was standing.
Of course when we got back inside, the only people left at the party were Rose, Emmett, Jasper, and Alice, and then there was the stupid posse of boys who were trying to coerce Bella into asking them to the Homecoming Dance.
I wrapped my arm around her shoulder possessively and did my best not to smirk at each one of them individually. She chose me. She liked me. Not them.
There were five of them altogether, and I carefully memorized who they were and what they looked like for future reference. I of course knew Benjamin from our Specializations class with Aro and I recognized Jacob from Generalized Hero Training. The other three, Mike, Tyler, and Eric, were also vaguely familiar, though I was pretty certain they didn't usually have the wide bulging eyes on their faces.
There was a tense moment of fairly awkward silence broken only by Emmett's guffaws behind us and Rosalie smacking him on the arm. She was really a violent person.
Bella finally spoke. "Er, thanks for coming you guys, I'm sorry we didn't really get to hang out, I hope you enjoyed the party," she said politely.
Nobody spoke for another moment until the one I recognized as Tyler recovered from the awkwardness of the situation. "So I guess you're going to the Homecoming Dance with Edward?" he asked uncertainly.
Slowly Bella raised her head up and then lowered it in a long nod.
Jacob was next to contribute to the awkwardness, "Bella, I thought—," his voice sounded confused and a little hurt. I certainly didn't feel sorry for him, but it looked like Bella did. "But you were supposed to choose one of us, you were supposed to choose me," he lamented, and joyfully I watched the sadness in Bella's face disappear as it was replaced by incredulity.
"What is this exactly?" she asked, sounding scathed, "Did you guys just think you could get together and corner me into choosing one of you to take to the stupid Homecoming Dance?"
"What, no—," Jacob replied frantically, but she didn't wait to hear him out.
"What am I to you guys? Some trophy to show all the other boys that you are the best Hero at the school? That you got to play with the new toy while everybody else just has to watch? Well I'm sick and tired of this game, it's time for you guys to move on. I choose Edward, and he chooses me, so thank you for coming, thank you for your interest, but you can all take it back now, I'm done," she finished, sounding exhausted. It was without a doubt the best speech I had ever heard, with the three most beautiful words she could ever utter: I choose Edward.
Triumphantly I watched the 5 boys file out and hop into the remaining two vehicles outside. As soon as they were gone Emmett could contain himself no longer and he released the loudest laugh I had ever heard from him or anybody else for that matter. "Oh my gosh Bella! That was priceless! Did you see his face? Did you see Newton's face?!"
She rolled her eyes but grinned despite herself. "Oh Emmett, would you lay off of him," she scolded.
He continued smiling and shook his head. "You know you are just as infuriating as they are!"
"Glad to be of service," he teased and patted her head before turning to follow Rose and Alice into the kitchen.
"Say it again," I commanded once it was just the two of us left in the front hall.
"Say what again?" she asked, confused.
I grinned, "Say you choose me."
A silly smile broke across her face. "Of course I choose you Edward, how could I not? It's more amazing that you chose me," she laughed.
"Ridiculous," I chided, and kissed her forehead.
It was long past midnight and I knew I should be heading home soon, but I couldn't bring myself to leave yet—so instead I followed Bella back into the kitchen and took a seat next to her at the high top table. Emmett sat on her other side and Rose sat at the end of the table next to Emmett while Alice and Jasper sat across from us.
"So little Bella, am I to understand that you've finally had it with all your admirers?" Jasper asked, as if he hadn't just witnessed the previous conversation. I didn't mind reflecting on the confrontation at all, I would probably be thinking about that little speech for weeks to come—but Bella did look a look a little uncomfortable.
She twisted her fingers around and replaced a curl behind her ear with the rest of them. "I feel bad," she sighed dejectedly, "Jacob looked really upset. I think I was too hard on them."
"You were not too hard on them, Bella," Alice said encouragingly, "They've been hounding you since the moment you stepped foot in Sky High, it was about time for them to step down."
She grinned at Alice, a tiny, insecure smile, so I threaded my arm around her back and pulled her a little bit closer.
"It looks like one of your admirers didn't get the message Bella, did you want me to take care of him?" Emmett asked with a wink.
Bella blushed and shook her head scooting her chair even closer to mine. "No, I don't mind this one so much, he can stay."
"Did you two have a nice talk earlier?" he persisted.
She punched his shoulder and shook her head, "That's none of your business Em!" she admonished, then began rubbing her fist as if she hurt her hand when she punched him. I took it in mine and tried to soothe it as everybody else just laughed. I wondered if it would make sense to put ice on it since her skin was so cold already.
"So I'd say the party was a success," Alice said with a proud smile as she rested her head on Jasper's arm. It didn't look like he minded in the least—in fact he moved a little closer and bent down so she could rest her head on his shoulder instead.
"Yes, thank you Alice, it was a very nice party," Rosalie smiled, eyes only on Emmett. After a second of googly eye exchanging between the two she turned back to Alice with a frown, "But was it really necessary to invite every single person that we have ever met?"
Alice shrugged, "That's the point of a party," she said, unapologetically, "What would your mother have said if she knew this house wasn't full to capacity. She left me in charge of this party since she's out of town, so I had to do everything in my power to make sure it met her expectations."
"But you had to invite Mike Newton? And Victoria, really?" she questioned.
"Mike was Bella's idea, she just didn't want him to feel left out since all his friends were invited," Alice explained, "And what's wrong with Victoria? She's in our Specializations class, she seems nice."
Rosalie looked at Alice curiously, "You think she's nice? That girl is insanely power hungry, and anything but nice. How do you think she got to be Class President? I heard that she threatened the other guy who was running so he backed out at the last minute. The only teacher that defended her was Dr. Banner, the other teachers and students don't trust her.
"She's only nice to a very select few people at the school, and her reputation as a Golden Girl seems a little sketchy given who she hangs out with, need I remind you of James and Laurent," she pointed out.
Alice looked stunned by the news and said nothing.
"Speaking of James and Laurent," Jasper spoke up, "What were they doing here? I know they weren't invited, and when I saw them talking with Victoria and Heidi, I got a suspicious feeling from them too—their emotions were almost angry. I was keeping an eye on them, thinking they would do something disruptive, like they normally would, but nothing happened. They left with the girls before the cake even came out."
"Oh and Edward," he added, "I think Laurent is terrified of you for some reason."
I smirked, "Good, now that only leaves the rest of the school to deal with," I said teasingly.
Jasper laughed, "Oh, most of them are at least marginally wary of you, but Laurent is different. I was watching him when you walked into the room, he felt utter shock and raw fear, what did you do to him exactly?"
I tried to remember my latest incident with him. I knew he was much less likely to approach me than James, but I didn't know I frightened him that much. "I think I set his shoe laces on fire on the first day of school, that's the last thing I remember," I said thoughtfully, still trying to determine how to use this to my advantage. Maybe at the next school assembly I could set everybody's shoe laces on fire and they would all leave me alone from that point on.
"Alice, I don't think I even saw you down at the party that you worked so hard to throw," Emmett said suddenly, a mischievous grin growing on his face. Alice stiffened and looked at him with slightly horrified eyes as if begging him to stop. "Pray tell, where were you this evening? Holding Jasper hostage up in Rosalie's room, or were you just holding him in general?" he asked with a smirk.
In the next moment I felt a very strong and oppressive sense of calm wash over me, it made my eyes droop and my thoughts become bleary. I looked around and everybody else seemed to be feeling sleepy as well. When I blinked, my eyes remained closed longer than usual as if attempting to sleep and when I finally opened them, my slowed thought processes prompted me to look at Jasper—though I couldn't identify why. He was staring at Emmett with a vindictive smile on his face. Emmett's head was drooping to the side and the arm he had around Rose's neck was slipping down her back.
The moment Emmett's head hit the table, the amazing sense of calm disappeared and the haze I felt on my mind receded. I felt relaxed and much more alert.
Rosalie smacked Jasper. "What did you do that for?" she demanded.
Jasper shrugged and wrapped his arm back around Alice, kissing her head. "What? He was talking too much, plus he needs to watch how he's handling my baby sister in my presence," he said haughtily.
I cleared my throat and everybody turned to face me inquisitively. I simply inclined my head toward Alice and lifted one of my eyebrows suggestively. I didn't need to say anything out loud, but I was pretty certain my facial expression read something along the lines of 'Speaking of baby sisters'.
Bella and Rosalie laughed, but Alice looked even more mortified than before as she glared at me. Jasper had the decency to look embarrassed, so I smiled at him so he'd know I was only joking. Rose began poking Emmett's sides to wake him up and Bella aided the effort by dropping tiny icicles down his collared shirt.
He jumped up with a sudden jolt and began reaching for his back, trying to grab at the bits of ice. "Agh!" he screamed, "Cold! So cold!"
Bella bit her lip to hide her smile while everybody else broke out in raucous laughter. When Emmett finally settled down, it was after 1 a.m. and Jasper made a comment about heading out. It was strange feeling to me—being out with friends in the late hours of the night and actually enjoying myself. I looked at Bella and considered the possibility that this might have just been the very best night of my life—and I hadn't even wanted to come! It looked like I would have to thank Alice eventually.
"Edward, you coming man?" Jasper asked, "We're going to head over to Emmett's while the girls have their slumber party here."
I thought about it for a minute before nodding my agreement. The three of us piled into my car and Emmett gave me directions to his house. I called Esme on the way and told her of my plans. I could tell she was already in bed by the groggy tone of her voice, but when she found out I wasn't coming home tonight, her voice instantly became excited and she gave me an overly-enthusiastic approval.
"Just call me in the morning, or if you need anything. Or you know what, don't worry about calling me in the morning, just have fun, and don't stay up too late—unless you want to, and don't forget to brush your teeth, oh shoot, do you even have your tooth brush, do you want me to bring you your tooth brush?"
"Mom, calm down," I said with an indulgent smile in my voice. I hadn't realized this would make her so happy, I really should do it more often. "I'll be fine and I'll see you in the morning," I said before I hung up.
Emmett's house was pretty close to Rosalie's. It was in the next neighborhood over, and like the houses in the last neighborhood, these suburban monstrosities were all well kept. His parents were already asleep, so he led us to the pool house where there was an assortment of snacks, sheets, pillows, video games, some rope, army camouflage gear and of all things, 4 cans of shaving cream. "What's all this for?" I wondered.
"Oh just some materials for our ultimate prank which we've been planning for the last week and a half," Emmett said happily.
"We're going to scare the girls tonight," Jasper explained with excitement laced in his tone.
"Oh," was all I managed to say in response.
I really had no idea what I had been missing out on all these years by avoiding people so completely. Having friends was actually kind of awesome.
A/N Review and I'll send you a "short" outtake that shows the outcome of the prank. Also, if there were any other extra POV's that I promised and you never received, just let me know (along with what chapter they're from) and I'll send them.