I frowned slightly as I rummaged through the cabinet. Where there once was box after box of cereals, all full and not stale, now there were more than a few empty boxes and some were stale and smelt funny. I grumbled loudly to myself, collecting the boxes and haphazardly throwing them into the waste basket under the sink. I probably should've recycled those.

I can do it later, when I get home from school, I reasoned with myself. Yeah.

Breakfast wasn't really a priority anymore, considering there was no edible food in the house at the moment, so I threw on an old, worn jacket by the steps and grabbed my bag and slung it over my shoulder. I would also have to go grocery shopping after school seeing as how my mother wasn't going to be doing that in her drunken state anytime soon.

Rubbing my forehead tiredly, I stepped out onto the front porch and squinted through the thick fog and waited for Edward to pull up.

He did eventually, and I climbed into the passenger seat without a fuss. I figure, as long as I don't have to walk the two miles to school everyday I could manage to be a little bit grateful.

We both didn't say anything for a minute. Finally, he clenched the steering wheel roughly and my shoulders slumped.

"So, what were you talking about to that one chick yesterday?"

"Her name's Alice." I said absentmindedly.

"And?" he pressed, his eyes speculative as he sized me up and down with one of those looks of his.

I shrugged. "Why do you care?"

"Damn it, Bella. Answer the fucking question," he seethed venomously, shooting a dirty glare at me.

I tensed. "Someone's testy today," I smirked but concealed it well with my hair.

There was a violent jerk of direction in the car and I steeled myself against the force, holding onto the seat fearfully as he pulled to the side of the road speedily. The car jerked to a stop suddenly and I let out a shriek as he unbuckled his belt, vanishing from the car and slamming the door behind him.

I scrambled for my seat belt, unfastening it and desperately trying to climb across the seat but he'd already made it around the front of the car to my side, throwing the door back with enough force I thought that maybe he'd break the damn door.

He pulled me back by my ankle and I yelled out in pain at the bone-crushing force as he tugged.

"Stop fighting me, Swan." And with one final jerk, I was out of the car and stumbling over and into the wet moss to the side of the road.

I rolled over, fighting to regain my dignity by standing up quickly and dusting off the brush from the back of my pants and shirt.

He stalked towards me and I felt a little faint, thinking that maybe he was going to hurt me. But instead, he stopped before me and laughed abruptly. "Have fun walking to school," he said, turning to walk away then.

"Wait," I cried, reaching out involuntarily and grasping his jacket between my fingers.

He turned around, shoving me from him. "Don't touch me," he warned darkly. "Or the jacket."

I stumbled his way. "Don't leave me here!" I begged.

He shook his head, smirking. "Think before you get smart with me next time, nerd. I don't put up with anyone's shit, especially yours," he pointed a stern finger my way. "So, see you at school."

And he turned on his heel and walked away.


I was crying by time the school was in sight. Wilderness and my uncoordinated limbs weren't the proper mix, at all. And if that just wasn't e-fucking-nough, it started pouring and I became soaked before the real voyage even started. I tripped over countless rocks and roots, causing scratches all over my feeble hands. I winced, rubbing the soreness as I entered the school building. I had to be at least an hour late.

How would I even explain this to the office?

Frankly, I didn't even care at this point. I marched straight up to the front desk. "Mrs. Cope?" I tapped my fingers aimlessly across the long counter.

She looked up at me from under her thick glasses. Then, seeing my soaked clothing and hair that was hung flat against my face and concealing part of my eyes, her tiny eyes widened under the large frames. I laughed a tiny bit at the absurdness of my situation.

"My, what happened?"

"Um, long story, I guess. But I'm here."

She chewed on her thin bottom lip. "Do you want some dry clothes? I'm sure there are some in the nurse's office…"

"Sure," I said, turning to let her through as she came through the counter opening. She led me further back into the office near the nurse.

She brought out a set of keys, opening a large cabinet. She grabbed a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, looking back over at me to compare sizes. "These should fit," she said, handing me the small clothes. Was I really that thin? I doubted they would fit.

"Thanks," I said anyway, willing to try them out. Anything would be better than sitting in wet clothes.

"So, what exactly happened?" she eyed me up and down as she handed over the clothing. "Since you've never been late before, I'll let it slide just this once… but we should probably get our story straight for the principal." She smiled at me and the edges of her eyes crinkled.

I sighed, relieved. "Thank you," I said, truly grateful. "My mom wouldn't let me borrow her car," I fibbed, blushing slightly.

"Oh, my," she gasped. "Well, that's quite all right. That was out of your control." She said, and the phone began to buzz. "Oh, if you'll excuse me…" she said before scurrying off.

I went into one of the bathroom stalls, stripping the soiled clothes and putting on the new ones. The jeans were snug, but they fit just barely. I kind of liked the way they made my legs looked, I realized as I checked myself out in the mirror. The shirt was just a plain white t-shirt.

I combed my fingers through my hair a little to make myself look somewhat decent. I threw it back into a bun with one of the hair ties I always kept on my wrist. Finally, I looked presentable. But my bag was still sopping wet. I groaned, opening it up and hesitantly lifting the papers that were supposed to be my chemistry homework and tossing them into the trash. They were of no use to me now. I'd have to start over. I grit my teeth together. Fucking Cullen.

I went to my locker, shoving the wet clothes in it and grabbing my second period things. I made my way to class, mentally preparing myself for all of the stares I knew I was going to receive. But, at least I didn't look like a drowned cat anymore.

I was passing the restrooms when I heard the low murmurs of two very familiar voices in the Men's restroom. I paused mid-step, turning my head curiously to listen.

"What the fuck, Jazz?" Edward.

Jasper Hale?

Subtle laughter.

I inched closer to the lockers near the entrance. Part of me knew it was an invasion of privacy, but I was always the curious kitty. One of these days it was going to kill me; I was sure of it. Literally. Especially if Edward was involved. I was hesitant to keep listening, but I did. I had to resist the urge to press my ear against the God damned door.

"What? She's cute."

"That's fucking with someone's mind. That's pretty low if you ask me." Edward's strained voice said.

What were they talking about? This didn't make any sense at all.

"And here I thought I was the bastard."

"You are, dumbfuck." Jasper's voice. "What do you call kicking that girl to the curb on your way to school this morning? Or humiliating the fuck out of her almost on a daily basis? And this would be one time. C'mon. You've been humiliating that chick since the eighth grade or whatever. One measly little science club geek isn't going to affect my record in any way."

"So?" Edward retorted defensively. "She's still got feelings. That's crossing the line."

Jasper snorted. "Like you've never manipulated a girl to get her into bed. Take that Swan chick for example."

I swallowed nervously. My blood ran cold. But he had better not have been talking about Alice. I would kill the son of a bitch with my own bare hands. It was strange that I would feel so protective of Alice, but it was only fair of me to not just sit by and watch as she fell into the trap of this bastard only to have the same fate as me. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if that ever happened.

"That's not what I was planning to do with her."

"Bull shit. But it's none of my business and frankly I don't give a flying hell what you do to the geek. I just want this chick. She's hot."

What a sick fuck. I wanted to hurl myself into that restroom and slap the shit out of him, but I refrained quite easily. Nothing good would ever come of that.

Coward, the back of my mind seethed.

There was a brief, tense moment of silence.

"No, man, I don't think that's cool." Edward finally said.

"No, Edward. You know what isn't cool? The fact that you pound on this girl like you've got no fucking mercy. You beat the shit out of her. She's terrified of you. I don't know if you've noticed or not, but Em and I talked and we both think it's pretty sick. Sex is sex. But it's a whole nother story for you to go and treat that Swan girl like she's dirt."

My lips trembled. Somebody knew. Someone else noticed, and they thought it was wrong. I could hear the heavenly choir start their chorus.

"Fuck you!" Edward shouted.

There was chaotic rumbling from inside the restroom. Startled, I backed up, my hand resting over my mouth that hung open from shock. Were they fighting? In the bathroom? I thought that only happened in the movies, and usually it was chicks.

Not sure what to do next, I rushed off to my second hour class like the little coward that I was. I wondered if they were just going to work it out or if this would make some juicy gossip around the school. It was a small school, after all. But Edward and Jasper were the very best of friends. I was sort of fond of the fact that Jasper had the guts to tell Edward the truth like that, despite their close friendship. But still, if he even so much as laid a finger on Alice…