Jasper fought his growing thirst and Rosalie thought of herself. My family had resumed its usual gathering in my Volvo this morning, playing the role of five teens, heading off to their first day at their new school.
Naturally, this was deja vu for all of us, the new school and all. By now we'd been through this dozens of times. I felt like I was on auto pilot.
Then, the jumbled, mixed up thoughts of my brothers and sisters all matched, in a sudden cusiosity as Alice's eyes glazed over and she stiffened. I tried to see what was happening in her vision, but my mind met a looming black wall that caught me off guard. Try as I may, I couldn't get passed it. It seemed completely solid.
"Alice?" I asked. Everyone's eyes snapped in my direction as the question escaped my lips. Everyone exept Alice, that is. This had never happened before. Rosalie, Emmett and Jasper took in the confusion in my voice and on my face, and Alice's shocked and worried look. Their thoughts clouded with worry.
"I can't see." Whispered Alice. She looked small and frightened. "It's all gone. All black."
"Everything?" Emmett gasped.
"Everything," Alice repeated. "I have no idea what's going to happen, or what's in store for us today."
"Well, isn't thast just wonderful." Sarcasm dripped from Rosalie's voice as she spoke.
We all exchanged a look of worry. For the first time, we were going in blind.
I pulled into an empty parking space and the five of us got out of my Volvo. Alice looked at every face discreetly. She figured that whoever was blocking her vision, she would know by a push if she saw the person's face. Her eyes froze on a small girl, maybe five foot four, with tumbling brown hair, pale skin, and brown eyes. She looked completely fragile and harmless.
"It's her." Alice pointed to the girl.
"Her?" Rosalie sneered. "Impossible."
I couldn't help but agree with Rose. There was no way that this girl was the source of our worry.
"I'm sure." Alice insisted. "Without a doubt."
The girl was halfway across the teen-filled parking lot. With all the chatter and car motors, there was no way she should have been able to hear us, but her gaze lifted to us, as though she knew we were talking about her. Her eyes never locked on anyone or anything; they jumped around the parking lot restlessly. She seemed wary, and I could almost feel her nerves humming.
"Hi!" A confident, high-pitched female voice interupted my thoughts. I looked down to see a short girl with curly black hair and an arrogant smile.
"I'm Jessica. You guys must be the the Cullens!" She seemed to speak to all of us, but her gaze remained on me. major jump to popularity, if I get these guys for friends she thought wrily.
"Hello, Jessica," Alice said politely, with a small smile. "I'm Alice. That's Jasper, Emmett, Rosalie and Edward. It's nice to meet you."
-Of course it is- Jessica thoughts were vain. To us she said "You too. If you guys have any questions about anything," She stressed anything, looking sidelong at me. "I'm the one to ask."
"I have one." Jessica looked at Alice reluctantly when Alice spoke, but she still looked happy to be the centre of attention. "Who's that girl over there?" She pointed to the girl with long brown hair, who was now leaning against an old truck and reading a book whose cover was hidden by her arms.
"Oh." Jessica snorted. "That's Bella Swan. Don't bother with her. She's wierd. She has no friends. She rarely ever talks to anyone. And she's like,
always twitching and stuff, like she hears stuff in her head. Plus, she's like, dyslexic, or whatever, and completely ADHD. Did you see her eyes? They like, never ever stop moving."
I looked at the girl, who was plainly reading, and raised my eyebrows at Jessica, questioning the fact that this girl was dyslexic.
She shrugged. "That's what she told the teachers, anyway. But she's like, freaky smart and aces all her classes. I think someone reads instructions for her, and when we have to write, she has a computer that types what she says."
"How does she take notes, or study for tests?" Jasper spoke for the first time.
Jessica shrugged. "No clue. Maybe she just remembers everything. Or she lied about being dyslexic."
"I think that's the more likely scenario." Rosalie snorted.
We grabbed out lunches and looked around the tiny cafeteria for a place to sit. All the seats were full of teens. We had decided to stay inside, with the rest of the school. It would look odd if the new family refused to sit with the people in the cafeteria. I almost suggested we give up on that thought and go outside, but Alice spoke.
"The only free table is with that Bella Swan." Alice whispered to me.I looked in her direction and saw Bella sitting on her own, nose buried in a book. I sighed. We would have to sit with her. None of the family looked pleased, but we made our way towards her, avoiding the teenagers who never seemed to be able to stay in one spot for more than a moment.
Bella seemed to notice us coming. She slammed her book shut and jammed it into her bag before we could see the title. I rolled my eyes. This girl claimed to be dyslexic, and yet read in the open.
-Freak- Rosalie thought drily.
-What on earth...- Alice wondered. "Hi!" She said out loud. Bella looked up at her. Again I noticed her eyes seemed to fly over all of us. She gave us a small smile.
"Can we sit here?" Alice asked her. Bella nodded and we all sat down.
"So," Alice said when no one broke the silence. "Have you lived here long, Bella?"
Bella eyes snapped her direction. She pulled something out of her pocket, and toyed with it in her fingers. A pen. I waited for the annoying clicking that would follow,
but she seemed content to just roll the bronze pen in her fingers. "No." She answered.
From Jasper I felt fear comming off her in waves as her eyes searched the cafeteria.
She put her pen back in her pocket, -that's odd. - Alice thought. -who puts a pen in their pocket?- and started playing with a strand of her hair. I waited for rush of venom and the burn in my throat that would come from her human scent as she basically pushed it in our direction.
It never came.
I could smell her blood, all right. But it was unappealing, not something you would eat. Like grass to a human, I guessed. My family obviously noticed the same thing. I could feel everyone's confusion.
"No?" Alice pressed.
"I move around a lot. Don't like to stay in one spot too long." She answered. Now the fear was more intense. It seemed that she was always afraid, this girl.
That made me curious. Why should she be afraid of staying in one spot too long?
Her fingers drummed on the table and I remembered what Jessica had said about her being ADHD.
"So what are you reading?" I asked pleasantly.
Her unaturally quick eyes flashed to my face. "Nothing you know. Don't worry yourself."
I raised my eyebrows at her snappy answer. "How would you know that?" I asked innocently.
"It's a talent I have." Bella retorted. "It's not your type of book."
"Why don't you confirm your guess?" I asked.
"Do you know who Constantine Lascaris is?" She asked me.
I felt shocked. I actually had no clue who that was. I was a big reader, and it shocked me that this human girl was reading a book by an author I'd never heard of.
"I didn't think so." Bella ammended.
"But someone told us you were dyslexic." Alice interupted the argument.
Bella's eyes darted to Alice's face, then the book in her bag, then back to me. "You heard that from Jessica." It wasn't a question.
"Is it true?" I asked skeptically. Would she say yes, even though we'd seen her reading?
"Yes, it is."
"But you were reading," Emmett said curiously.
"Long story." Bella's eyes were now flying over everyone in the cafeteria.
"Yeah right," Rosalie rolled her eyes. "You're just getting out of school work."
"I am fully dyslexic. Ask my doctor if you like. I was diagnosed before I knew what dyslexia meant." Was Bella's responce.
Rosalie made a disbelieving sound.
suddenly, for the first time, Bella's eyes focused on Rosalie's face. Her stare made Rosalie unconfortable.
"Anyway, most people don't have secrets to keep, unlike you or myself." All of our eyes locked on her face as Bella spoke.
"What makes you think we have a secret?" Alice asked lightly.
"I'm dyslexic, not blind. Any well informed dem-" she cut herself off. "well informed person could see it." She rose. "By the way, there's a nice forest due west of here." Her eyes took us all in in turn. They had returned to their normal hectic snap and inability to focus. "Sometimes, if you're lucky, you can find a bear of two up there." With that she walked away.
We all looked at each other in distress.
Bella Swan knew we were vampires.
All of us stood in the living room.
We'd told Carlisle about our converstation with Bella Swan.
"Well." Carlisle broke the worried silence that had washed over the vampire filled room. Seven of us stood there. They were all playing scenarios in their heads of what would happen now. What we would do.
"Well." Carlisle said again. "We need to bring her here."
"What?" Rosalie gasped. "A human? Here? Absolutely not!"
"From what Edward told us, we don't have to worry about the smell, and clearly she already knows." Esme mused. Finally she shrugged. "Why not?"
Rosalie's jaw dropped. "Are you all insane? She's going to get us all killed unless we deal with her first!"
"We will not kill if it's not necessary." Carlisle said quietly. "I still think we should bring her here, to talk." He looked at each of us, offering a chance to speak. No one else argued. It made sense to all of us.
Carlisle pulled out his phone and dialed Chief Swan's number.
"Hello?" Chief Swan's voice sounded through the phone.
"Hello, Chief Swan." Carlisle said. "It's Carlisle Cullen."
"Mr. Cullen! Please, call me Charlie." Was the surprised reply. He seemed to be proud of his title, from the way he spoke. It was subtle,
we all noticed and chuckled.
"Charlie. Is your daughter home?" Carlisle asked politely.
"Sure. Hold on a sec." He put the phone down. His footsteps plodded through his house and we all heard him call 'Bella!'. We also heard Bella's reply, which was a simple 'what?'. Charlie told her that Carlisle was on the phone and she sighed.
"Why?" she asked her father.
"I don't know, go see!" Charlie hollered.
Bella grumbled as she made her way to the phone. Finally she picked up. "Hello?"
"Hello Bella. It's Carlisle Cullen."
A small pause followed. "I know." I could almost see her rolling her eyes.
Carlisle seemed surprised by her blunt answer. "We were wondering if you'd like to come over for dinner."
Another pause. "Why?"
Carlisle frowned. "We'd like to discuss something with you." He told her drily.
We all heard Bella sigh on the other end. "Fine. I'll be there in fifteen minutes."
"Excellent. We'll see you soon." Carlisle smiled. Bella said good bye and both of them hung up.
"All right then." Emmett broke the silence. "I guess now all we have to do is hurry up and wait."
It seemed only a minute we stood there, all comtemplating our own thoughts about this strange girl. But then I heard Bella's roaring it's way down our driveway and shot a quick glance at the clock. Fifteen minutes had indeed passed. I winced. We should have discussed what we would say, how we could deal with her.
The car door of Bella's truck slammed shut and she walked up the rocky path to our door. She rang the doorbell without taking the deep breath that people normally took before they rang the bell or knocked on the door.
Carlisle went to the door and opened it wide. Sure enough, there stood Bella. Her eyes moved at their usual hectic speed and her arms we tightly wrapped around a book, shielding the cover from our eyes.
"Bella, come in." Carlisle told her with a smile. "Welcome to our home."
Bella looked at him and took one step that would keep her a foot away from the door. "Thank you." She said quietly.
"Bella," Esme came forward, a big smile on her face. "It's so nice to meet you! I'm Esme, the childrens' mother."
Bella's eyes darted to Esme's face for no more than three seconds. "Hello, Esme."
"Would you like something to eat?" Esme offered as she led Bella into the house, towards the couch. "We have some chicken in the fridge, granola bars, cereal, fruits..." She trailed off when Bella's mouth tightened into a mocking smile.
"Quite a lot of food, for people who don't eat." She said, raising her eyebrows. Her eyes moved quickly around the room. No one moved.
"So." Carlisle came forward. "My children were right. You know."
"About you being vampires? Yeah, I know." Bella rolled her eyes. "Don't worry your pretty little selves. I've met worse."
I stepped forward, my eyes cold and dead as my heart. "No you haven't."
Bella looked at me calmly. "Of course I have. You really don't look like much compared to ogars, minotaurs, cyclopses and all." She told me.
"Plus, if you drank my blood, you would die. So I'm not really worried." She said all this gently, in a surprisingly soothing tone.
- I was right. She's insane.- Rosalie thought dryly.
Bella seemed to realize what she'd said. Her eyes widened and her hand flew up to cover her mouth. Everyone watched her curiously, waiting for her to explain what she meant and why she looked so horror struck.
"Damnit." She muttered. "We'll come back to that."
"From what I've been told," Carlisle gestured to us, "You have a secret as well."
"Will you tell us?" Carlisle asked gently.
Her head jerked up and she looked at all of us, a suspicious look in her eyes. Then she closed those very eyes rubbed her face with her hands. "May as well." She sighed. "I'll start with something simple, since you've probably already guessed." She decided. "I'm not dyslexic."
-I knew it- Rosalie thought triumphantly.
-Why would she lie?- Alice wondered. Her eyes never left Bella's face.
"But I'm not lieing. Not in the way you think." Bella continued. "It's physically impossible for me to read your english."
"Sooo...you read in like, what, french?" Emmett wondered.
Bella shot him an amused look. "Of course not. That would make things so much easier. I could tell everyone that, and I wouldn't have to lie." She sighed. "No, french is a newer language. It's too modern." She hugged her book close and set it down on the table. We all looked at it curiously.
"Greek?" Alice asked, confused.
"Ancient Greek, yes." Bella corrected. "My mind is, hotwired for it, I guess. It's the way I was made."
My curiosity peaked when she said 'made' and not 'born'.
Esme caught that as well. "Made?"
Bella looked at us all cautiously. Through Jasper I could feel her nerves humming. Her hands were twitching restlessly. She clearly didn't like the situation she was in. I saw her eyes flash towards the door. Her hands reached into her pocket and she pulled out the bronze pen she'd been playing with at lunch, spinning it around in her fingers. This caught my attention. Again, Bella had proven herself different with a small thing that probably no one would ever notice, but I sat with bored teenagers all day. Any normal person would have been clicking it ceaselessly. She was not.
"Have you ever heard of Half-Bloods?" Bella asked, her eyes move constantly between each of us and her pen.
"Half-Bloods?" Carlisle pressed, curious. He was confused. He'd never heard of anything called a half-blood.
"I suppose the correct term is 'Demigod'." Bella corrected herself. She sighed. "You all know the gods?"
"By gods, you mean...?" Carlisle trailed off.
"Zeus. Poseidon. Hades. Athena. The Greek gods." Bella elaborated. Everyone was contemptuous now. Would she tell us some old folk lore about the gods?
Apparently, she would. "Every now and then, the gods come down to earth. Or up, if Poseidon happens to be in the sea." She said. "Sometimes, they fall in love with a human. Their offsring, the children of the gods, are called Demigod; half human, half god."
"That's ridiculous." I interrupted. "They're not real. Bella'd eyes snapped to my face. "They're the belief system of an ancient time. They were created by the Greeks so they could believe they had some answers. Purely mythical."
"Vampires are folk lore, created by people to scare their children or to entertain people." She countered. "Perhaps you should not be so quick to judge what is real, and what is not, my bedtime-story friend." Her eyes rested on me for a moment. Then they darted away. "You're wrond, in any case."
Everyone looked at me. I raised my eyebrows. "So you're a 'demigod'?" I asked skeptically.
"No." Bella continued toying with her pen. "I'm full god. Created by Athena and Poseidon in Olympus. A very, very long time ago."