"Oh my god, have you seen him?"
This was getting ridiculous.
"Yes! I had science third period!"
This was the library for crying out loud.
My eyes narrowed angrily.
I smiled, placing the book I had been looking at back in its position on the shelf. Thank God for the librarian, because I knew, no matter how mad I would have gotten, I never would have gained the confidence to tell them to shut up myself.
Isabella Swan. The silent, the thoughtful, the daydreamer. There were many names that people used to describe the way I was always quiet, but there were my own reasons.
I choose to be. I sort of believed that I didn't have to speak unless spoken to, and unless it was completely necessary.
And I am, actually, quite shy at times. I had my moments every once in a while, but now was not the time.
Everyone knew about it, even teachers were aware of my choice. But that was okay, it made my life just that much easier. I had friends, of course, who I talked to. I'm just not as animated as they are. Because me, I see the world differently than others. I'm the kind of person who stops to appreciate the beauty that even the smallest things can hold. I notice changes. And I always think before I actually say something, and I listen before doing so.
I was different, much more different than anyone else in Forks High, but I was okay with it. It was my decision, after all.
I pulled out another book from the shelf, one of my favorites, Pride and Prejudice, and made my way back to the checkout desk. The librarian gave me a friendly smile, because she was used to me, and quickly scanned my book.
"Another Jane Austen?" she asked, amused.
I nodded, accepting the book back. After waving her goodbye, I walked back to the school cafeteria. I wasn't, exactly, excited for it. Today, after first period, I had started hearing about him. And after that, people kept bringing him up. It was rumor after rumor, story after story, gossip after gossip…and all about the same person! The same class! I had been mentally banging my head against the desk every period. And when English was over, after a particularly long description of Mr. Hot, I had sought refuge inside the library. But, sadly, I had met the same fate.
And now it was sure to come up at my table, and I was not looking forward to it.
It was a silent, peaceful walk back to the cafeteria, and I reveled in it. The day had not been good, thanks to the level of chitchat suddenly firing up, and I wanted to take the time I had now to enjoy it. I paused in my walk, staring up at the cloudy sky. Any true Washingtonian was used to the rain and clouds, but I had just moved here my junior year. Two years was not enough to get used to the bipolar weather of this place, but I just had to endure it. For my mother and for Phil. They needed their time together.
Stopping just outside the door of the lunchroom, I took a deep breath. I could already hear the noise of voices pouring in from inside, it was kind of intimidating. How loud a group of people could be. So I hesitated, preparing myself for an onslaught.
And it was a good thing I did.
A burst of sound suddenly enveloped me as I opened the door and walked in. People were chattering, shouting, laughing. I cringed when someone ran passed me, yelling, and almost got close enough to knock me over as he went. A small huff of annoyance escaped me as I maneuvered quickly out of the way. Some people here just…!
Trying to shake it off, I stepped into line. It wasn't long, considering I spent half the lunch period in the library, so I had my food in hand quickly. I balanced my tray in one hand and carried the book with the other. There were better ways of carrying things, but I was in a hurry to sit, eat, and get everything over with.
"Bella! You're here!"
I winced at the voice, looking to my table to see Jessica Stanley waving her arms at me excitedly. Of course, I'd probably have to face her first. She was always the gossip guru, knowing everything about anyone. Granted, she was a good friend. Bubbly, and someone you could hang out with if you need some happy time. But, her two-face attitude was well known. She was pretty and popular, so people chose to befriend her, but refrain from saying anything overly secretive.
"Hey, Jessica," I said in my usual reserved tone. No one takes it to offense anymore, it was just me.
"It's great that you finally got here!" she smiled and patted the chair beside her, and I sat down grudgingly, putting down my tray and sliding my book-bag from my shoulders. "I was just telling Angela about the substitute in Chemistry!"
I suppressed a groan, and looked around the table to see I didn't share the same reaction as anyone else. Angela was a bit reluctant, but her face showed curiosity. Lauren, though has probably already heard and talked about this story before, and was almost as bad as Jessica, still looked about as excited as her. Alice didn't say anything, which was unusual, she was sometimes perkier than Jessica, though she didn't have the two-face quality to her. I had actually imagined her being at the top of this gossip as well. I looked beside her to her boyfriend Jasper, and he, thankfully, was grimacing.
"No one cares, Jessica," he said, running a hand agitatedly through his blonde hair.
"I care," snapped Lauren, already on the defense for her best friend.
"Yeah," he chuckled. "Emphasis on the no one."
I tuned them out, glad they were distracted, deciding to eat my food and read at the same time.
"I really don't think I have to repeat myself," said Jasper calmly.
"Yeah? Well I think you should-"
"Can't we just get along?" Angela, bless her, spoke up and silenced everyone else. "Jessica was about to tell a story, and it's rude to interrupt." Dammit.
"Thank you, Angela, now where was I?"
"Oh, right." Jasper groaned as she was about to start. "Shut up, will you?" she barked at him, then started again. "Okay, so here's what happened." I heard her shift in seat, probably sitting closer and propping her elbows on the table, gossip style. "I was walking into Chemistry, totally normal day, right? And I sat in my seat, talking to Lauren. So, it was, like, a total blah conversation, when the bell rang. Of course, Lauren and I didn't pay attention to it, I mean, who does? So we were still talking and stuff, and then…he came in!" she paused there, and I imagined her swooning in the chair. I rolled my eyes and turned to the next page.
"And?" Angela urged her to go on.
Jessica shifted again. "In the most…sexiest voice you have ever hear he said, 'Class, class. Please quiet down.'!" She sighed dreamily and leaned dramatically against me, making me cut my eyes to her. "It was unbelievable! I almost couldn't breath!"
"Neither could I!" Lauren agreed, her tone the same as Jessica's.
"What happened next?" Angela asked, unfortunately getting into the story.
Jessica sat back up, freeing my shoulder and letting be concentrate back to where I was. But, her chatter was making me frustrated. "So," she said. "I look up, because, well, he spoke, right? And bam, I'm falling."
They really didn't see it coming? I shook my head at what was to come.
"His eyes," she exclaimed, making me want to bang my head against this table, too. "It was, like, I turned around, and he was looking right at me."
Lauren snorted. "You wish. He was staring at Tanya, 'cause she was the last one in and tripped."
"Yeah? Well she's a slut. She wants him all to herself. But she's not gonna get him."
"Why not? You think you will?"
"Of course." As Jessica and Lauren argued about this, my anger and irritation kept growing and growing. To the point where I practically was on edge. It didn't go beyond my notice that the grip on the book I had tightened to some degree, or that my jaw was clenched uncomfortably tight. They were really pushing it.
"Will you both…please…just be quiet?" I finally broke, slamming the book shut and glaring at the two of them. Both chatterers, and Angela, were looking at me with surprise, for I never burst out suddenly like that. I was, in fact, even shocked at my own actions. But, I didn't let that make my stare falter. "He's a teacher. No, correction, a substitute. Chances are, he isn't coming back after today. What gave you any idea that you could 'hook up' with him? He's young, yes, but does that make him reckless?" I put the book down beside my tray and crossed my arms, my frustration pouring from my words. "He has a job, a life, and possibly, a girlfriend if he's even as good-looking as you're portraying him to be. What makes you think he'll give it all up for any of us? Students? Really? Has your imagination really pulled you that far?" I pulled my tray up to me, picking up my fork. "Well, I welcome you to reality. It's not going to happen." Finishing my rant, I speared some salad and tossed it into my mouth.
Silence erupted from my table. I would have been thankful for it, except there was the rest of the lunchroom talking, oblivious to my blowout. It was kind of awkward, too, because I never really talk during lunch. I mean, I might throw in one small comment if asked, but never anything like I just did.
I looked up, surprised, staring at the two who spoke. Sure, I would have expected something like that from Jasper. But Alice?
I wasn't the only one, either.
"Alice?" questioned the rest of the table after she had said those words to be with such relief. I didn't, I usually asked with my eyes. But, she got the point rather quickly.
"What?" she snapped when all eyes turned to her. "I was getting tired of all of it, too."
"Why?" Lauren asked.
"I know," Jessica said. "Like, I'll understand if Bella doesn't get it. I mean…she's Bella." I rolled my eyes, letting the comment slide. "But don't you think that the sub is mega, super hot?"
"No," she deadpanned, making the two gasp in disbelief. Those two were unbelievable. Alice flicked one of the pieces of sable hair that wasn't spiked from her eyes and explained herself. "He's my brother."
"What?" Lauren exclaimed, nearly falling from her chair as Jasper shook with silent laughter. "You didn't tell us?"
"I thought you'd…know?"
Again, I rolled my eyes at their stupidity. "His name is Mr. Cullen." I said, unperturbed by Alice's announcement or their reactions to said announcement. I had guessed in second period, when Victoria had been whispering about it with Jane. Though, from how they described him, Alice and Mr. Cullen didn't sound anything alike. But, my guess was proven correct from how Alice was acting when I had walked into lunch.
Jessica shook her head, gaping. "So…you've had a brother this hot…and never invited us over?" she accused.
"Jess, honestly," I couldn't help but feel I was talking a bit too much today as I spoke. But, their idiocy has risen a couple of levels today as well, in my defense. "He probably just got his teaching license from somewhere, so had possibly moved in only a few days ago."
"Exactly," Alice said. "He moved in last week. Jasper was there to help."
Jessica scoffed. "Jasper doesn't count! How could you not call and tell us about your hot, smoking, sexy ass of a brother?"
Alice shrugged. "Maybe because I don't see him…like that? God! Do you know how tiring it is to walk from class to class hearing about how hot some guy is, when in your opinion you don't find him attractive at all?"
"Yes," Jasper and I said together, making us both burst into laughter as Jessica and Lauren pouted.
Angela sighed. "I haven't even seen him yet."
"Neither have I," I pointed out, putting Pride and Prejudice away.
"What?" Jessica frowned at me. "Then how does your opinion matter in any of this?"
"Never said it did, you just chose to listen," I answered calmly, standing and picking up my tray and book-bag. "I'm gonna go throw this out. Anyone else wanna come?"
"Yes, please." Alice and Jasper answered, both standing up with theirs.
Jessica rolled her eyes. "The three of us are going to stay here, where everyone is sane."
"What the hell is your definition of sane?" Jasper mumbled as we walked away.
Alice rubbed his back in comfort. "It's alright, babe, you won't see me or Bella talking like that."
"Yeah, well that's 'cause Bella is a bit on the strange side." I wacked him in the shoulder for that one, making him laugh. "No, I'm serious, Bells. Do you ever find a guy attractive?" As I was about to answer, he cut me off. "And Mr. Darcy doesn't count. He's completely fictional."
Damn. I closed my mouth, turning my head away and tossing my food into the trash with them. Jasper laughed at that, because apparently it was just so funny that I thought every other guy at this school was immature, arrogant, or too stupid for me to even regard. It wasn't as if I thought so highly of myself. I mean, I didn't even think of myself as attractive. But hey, I had standards like everyone else.
"Speaking of Bella and strange," Alice spoke up. I looked at her, and almost flinched as her critical gaze hit me. "What are you wearing?"
I shifted my eyes down to my clothes. Regular dark blue jeans and a black hoodie with the school emblem on the front. It was normal for me. But, of course, not for Alice. "There's nothing wrong with what I put on today," I said, though I was ready for one of her fashion lecture barraging.
"What? Have you looked in a mirr-" she was cut off, thankfully, by the bell that had decided to pierce the cafeteria. Although I was relieved for the escape, I grimaced.
"What?" Jasper asked. "You avoided her talk, didn't you?" For that, he earned a slug in the back from Alice's dainty hands.
"Yes," I sighed, shaking my head, mentally preparing myself for the inevitable. "But…I have science next." I waved them off as they both began to give me words of sympathy, I didn't need to hear it, and turned to head to my next class.
I walked down the hall, carefully avoiding anyone else who was either not paying attention where they were walking, or were just standing there talking to someone else. I took my time, too, but I knew where I was headed was completely unavoidable. I never skipped class.
And neither did anyone else, it seemed, as I opened the door to Chemistry. I was usually one of the first people to get to class, in every class, but not today. Now, actually, it looks as though I was the last one in. I stood at the doorway, stunned at how everyone was actually here before me, and I mean everyone. My seat was the only one empty.
And was Mr. Cullen really the reason? You've got to be kidding me.
I walked to my seat, near the front of the class, and was irked to see someone already sitting there. Heidi Taylor was there, all legs in her short jean skirt, acting as if she owned the place. She was talking animatedly to my partner, Mike, and flipped her shiny, dark mahogany hair and laughed at something "funny" he must have said. I rolled my eyes, avoided her glare she threw that 'dared me' to tell her to move, and took her seat that was in the back. Emmett McCarty was her partner, and in my honest opinion, Alice's brother must be pretty good-looking for her to ditch Emmett. He was tall, muscular, and handsome with dark curly hair and sparkling, almost constantly amused eyes. And he was captain of the football team. I wasn't attracted to him or anything, it was just a fact that he was above average in the looks department. Still…I liked the front of the class. I could hear the teacher better, therefore take better notes.
"Hey, Bella, right?" he said me as I sat down. Honestly, I was surprised. I didn't think people like him knew my name. This new substitute thing was practically warping the whole universe.
I nodded mutely, taking out my Chemistry book, notebook, and pencil right away.
He watched me with a somewhat bored expression. "You're not going to go all swoony like all the other girls, are you?" he asked, turning to the front as if knowing my answer.
But, I knew what he was thinking, and I thought I should prove him horribly wrong. "Nope," I answered, immediately twirling my pencil through my fingers.
"Oh, great, it's not like everyone else is-" he stopped midsentence, as if processing what I just said, and I couldn't help but giggle at the expression on his face. "Wait, what?"
I sighed and leaned my head against my hand. "I said nope, I'm not going to get all 'swoony' like every other girl in here."
"Are you serious?"
"No, I'm, like, totally kidding." Yep, definitely talking too much today.
I resisted the urge to smack him, I didn't know him very well after all. I cleared my throat and rolled my eyes instead. "That was sarcasm."
He looked at me, alarmed as if I didn't know how to be sarcastic in the first place. I thought it would have grown awkward from then on, but to my complete shock, he burst into laughter. Loud, very attention grabbing, Emmett-esque laughter. Everyone turned at the sound, already knowing who it was before they saw, but were not expecting me to be the reason for the whole thing.
"Oh wow," he chuckled, completely oblivious to everyone watching him. He was probably used to it. "That was good, I completely fell for it, too."
I nodded, looking away quickly. He may be used to the attention, but I certainly wasn't.
But Emmett wouldn't let up that easily, he elbowed me lightly, almost making me squeak, and whispered, "So you think the whole 'hot teacher' thing is totally lame, too?"
Again, a nod. But after a quick thought and licking my lips, I decided to reply just as silently, "Completely ridiculous. Everyone's making a fool of themselves. He's going to be gone by tomorrow, so what's the big deal?"
He laughed again, quieter this time. "I know, right? I thought every pretty girl was brain-dead after the first few periods, but it's good to be proven wrong."
I blushed at that, the red easily noticeable against my porcelain skin. "Thanks," I mumbled, even more embarrassed when he seemed to grin at my discomfort. I hated how most of the class was looking over, especially at me now, as if they were curious to what I could be saying that was catching his interest so much.
"What's wrong?" he asked, smirking.
I glared. "Everyone's staring."
Emmett looked around quickly, surprised, and then narrowed his eyes menacingly at everyone. "Hey," he barked out, succeeding in even making me jump. "The teacher's almost here, you better be turning around and fawning over him now, right?" All the girls turned swiftly, clearly afraid, while the guys chuckled and sent him air-fives or thumbs up. I was just grateful no one was looking back here anymore.
He turned back to me. "Better?"
I thought about it before answering slowly. "Considerably."
He grinned again, in that infectious sort of way that brought a smile to my face. "Well, I'm just glad I'm not stuck with some whore who's just gonna be staring at the teacher all day."
"Yeah, you're lucky."
"I am, if you thought about it-"
"Oh my God! He's here!" someone from the front exclaimed, making Emmett and I both look up. There was a girl looking out the small, rectangular window from the closed door, jumping up and down. "He's so-"
"Isn't he about to open the door?" Heidi put in dryly, and I saw her cross her legs, sit up straighter, and put on a shit-eating smile. The girl 'eeped' at her comment and raced back to her seat, re-fluffing her hair as she sat down.
Emmett snorted, and I let out a huff of amusement as I looked back down to doodle on the page of my notebook. I was determined not to look back up until the class was back to being serious and the substitute started teaching. I didn't even give a small glance when I heard the door open, nor when collective gasps traveled the room like a wave. I thought I was doing rather good…
Until he spoke.
"Hello, class," said a voice so smooth, so velvety, that my head snapped up faster than thought possible. "I'm Mr. Cullen."