He didn't notice her walking into the classroom until the teacher introduced her to the class.
"People, this is Ava Caen," Mrs. Trawler broke the concentrated silence in her biology class with a high-pitched, nasal voice. "She just moved here from Europe. Ava decided to take up a few classes before the summer holidays, even though she has already finished the year at her old school. She'll officially be starting school in September."
A girl of about Bella's height, dressed in ordinary jeans and a black sweater, waved shyly to thirty-odd pair of staring eyes. A few looked at her with plain boredom, but most people seemed curious. New people didn't come around every day in Forks.
"Hi," the girl said quietly. "I'm Ava." Then she grabbed her bag hanging from her shoulder with both hands and looked back insecurely at the teacher.
Edward observed the girl closely, while a strange feeling crept up on him. How could he have missed her? Had he been so focused on Bella sitting next to him, his hand loosely on her arm, that he hadn't noticed? If that was the case, then his primal instincts were really off today. He always noticed every human being around him; whispering, breathing, thinking… And his senses never failed to make him aware of someone or something entering his environment.
Except for her. Or her thoughts.
Slowly, not wanting to scare Bella, he straightened in his chair. He ruffled his hair in confusion, thoughts in overdrive. Could she be like Bella? Another girl immune to his gift?
Another moment of close observation made him decide otherwise. Although her thoughts were silent to him, Bella's presence was almost overwhelming. Her irresistible smell, her sweet breath, the sound of her fluttering heart when he kissed her… This girl didn't have any of these qualities. In fact, her smell or her heartbeat didn't really stand out at all. In all aspects besides the silence in her head, she seemed very… plain. Almost too plain.
There wasn't anything extraordinary about her, except for maybe her copper colored hair, and even that was tied into a casual ponytail.
"Why don't you sit down next to Mike, Ava," Mrs. Trawler continued, pointing in the direction of the only empty chair in the classroom. "He will explain our current assignment. I was just explaining about the evolution of mammals."
Edward only barely caught what their teacher was saying. The longer he looked at the girl moving through the classroom, the more uncomfortable he felt. The closer she got to him, the more he felt like running away. Or attacking her. Or screaming out loud. Or doing… something.
The girl sat down next to Mike and smiled at him tentatively. Mike put out a hand as he threw his widest smile at her. His whole being seemed to light up as he sat up and broadened his shoulders. Edward could hear his thoughts tumble over themselves trying to figure out what to say to her and how to captivate this new girl with his incredible charms. Poor Mike. She seemed way to shy for someone outgoing and direct like him.
"Hi, I'm Mike. Welcome to Forks, the most boring town in America. I'm Mike, your new best friend. Hopefully," he added with a slight apprehensive tone at the end. The girl thankfully shook Mike's hand, looking him in the eyes briefly.
"Thanks," she whispered softly. Edward didn't think it possible, but Mike's smile widened even further. Then the girl took a brand new pen and notebook out of her bag. Mike slid over his book and pointed out the assignment Mrs. Trawler had given them earlier that day.
As the silence returned, his thoughts only seemed to grow more chaotic. He wondered about the few words the girl had uttered. What was that accent? Certainly not any European accent he was familiar with. Not British, German or Scandinavian… And certainly not French or any Latin accent he knew. Where did she say she was from again? Perhaps she was from… eh… this… she… What was her name again? Somehow, his thoughts wouldn't seem to align properly. A very faint growl started in the back of his throat.
"Ouch!" Bella suddenly grunted. He pulled his hand away from her arm as if struck by lightning.
Bella rubbed her arm, looking at him weirdly. Between her hand moving up and down her arm, he saw vague red bruises on her flawless skin. Had he done that…?
"Why did you do that?" she half-whispered, her big brown eyes filled with disbelief and just a hint of tears.
"I-I don't know," he stuttered, moving his hand through his hair. Why had he done that? Should he tell her what just happened with this new girl? That Bella and her seemed to have the same… deficit – or talent, depending on how you looked at it – to fool his gift? His thoughts were racing.
Mrs. Trawler threw an inquiring look their way and paused her explanation. A few people turned in their seats to find the source of the disturbance. He decided it could wait. Bella could use all the teaching she could get. After all, it still wasn't sure whether she would be able to graduate at all.
He quickly put a hand to the side of Bella's face.
"I'm so sorry, love. I must have dreamt off for a second. This subject is… kind of uninteresting to me. And frankly, her voice is bothering me quite a bit. My apologies - I'll never do it again," he whispered into her ear, nodding towards Mrs. Trawler to tell her as well that it would not happen again. He distractedly placed a kiss on top of Bella's head and trailed his hand along her jaw line down her neck. She felt tense, although she didn't seem really scared. He felt incredibly guilty for hurting her and lying to her on top of it. Why did he do that? He never lied to her…
Bella threw him a long inquiring look. He gave her a small smile and mouthed 'my apologies' to her again. After another odd moment she turned her attention back to the teacher. She seemed to relax a bit. Her hand still absently massaged her arm.
Edward on the other hand was far from relaxed. What was happening to him? He felt as if he was dreaming, although he hadn't slept in nearly a hundred years. His thoughts were disorganized, almost… chaotic. He tried harder to focus.
Was it the girl that had this effect on him? If so, how? Although he couldn't read Bella's thoughts either, she never muddled his thoughts or made him wonder off… Well, at least never fully, he corrected himself. Although Bella was more than capable of taking his mind… other places, his vampire mind was usually capable of keeping several trains of thought going and coordinating several conscious actions at the same time.
He glared at the girl again, sitting just a few rows in front of him.
She hadn't seemed to notice him at all. Their eyes hadn't met. She hadn't given him any reason to suspect her involvement in this, other than her immunity to his thought reading skills. Her attention was directed fully towards Mrs. Trawler in front of the class, explaining the differences and similarities between human hands and the pectoral fins of a dolphin. Her posture displayed nothing but timidity and shyness… Not exactly a creature to awaken in him this sense of confusion and disarray.
Maybe he was wrong. Maybe it was Bella after all, distracting him from a lecture he had heard in different varieties for over twenty times by now. Maybe…
He sighed and gave up. He hadn't got a clue.
Then, after minutes of pondering, he seemed to regain his focus a little. And since looking at the back of the girl's head a few rows in front of him didn't seem to help him much, he decided to starting paying attention to Mrs. Trawler again for the moment. Picking up her thoughts on the subject would certainly help Bella study for the scheduled test next week. Discussing this with Carlisle was probably the best way to go about this. Also, he vowed to confess to Bella as soon as the lesson was over.
As class ended some time later, the girl – he now remembered she introduced herself as Ava – packed up her things slowly. As Edward was studying her and getting up from his seat – maybe to talk to her, find out more about her - Bella tried to take his hand but missed. In an instant, she stumbled and hit her head on a table in her fall. The bang, even though not very loud, rang in his ears. In slow motion, he turned to Bella to see her sprawled out on the floor next to his feet. She didn't get up.
If his heart had still been beating, it would have stopped right now. The girl was forgotten. Was Bella – his beloved Bella – hurt?
He was with her in a flash, not really caring whether someone saw him moving faster than he should. As people were moving out of the classroom, chattering away, eyeing Ava and asking Mrs. Trawler some questions, no one was likely to notice anyway. Bella was known as a clumsy girl, and Edward as her knight in shining armor.
Some knight I am, he scolded himself. Letting her get hurt. He was an utter fool sometimes.
"Bella, are you alright? Bella!" His voice was slightly hoarse with concern and guilt. He examined her head closely while smelling for blood. He let a small sigh escape when she moved and grunted softly. There didn't seem to be any blood either.
"Bella, love," he repeated. "Can you hear me?" He held her face carefully between his hands, partly in concern, partly because he didn't want her to suddenly move her head. It wouldn't be her first concussion, so he'd better be careful.
"Bella!" Just as he started to panic a little, she answered.
"Yeah, I can hear you," a very groggy Bella replied. She looked a little dazed as she tried to get up. "I'm sorry, that was so typically me. I didn't hurt myself all day, so it was bound to happen soon. Ouch!" He supported her as Bella lay back down on the linoleum floor. She reached for her forehead, squeezing her eyes shut.
"Head ache," she mumbled. "Stupid, stupid, stupid."
"Bella, nothing you do could ever be called stupid," he interrupted her sternly. "The clumsiness… It's just part of who you are." His voice softened.
"And I love you for it." She winced as he ever so gently placed a kiss on her forehead. She cringed.
"Ouch – head ache, remember?" Edward withdrew instantly. A firm look set in his eyes.
"Right - that's it. You might have a slight concussion here and I'm taking no chances." In the blink of an eye, he had lifted her - school bag included - up in his arms, making sure to hold her head steady. Bella protested weakly, but soon gave up as it appeared to only make the aching worse.
Mrs. Trawler was just finishing up with the last of the students and only now seemed to notice the situation.
"Is she alright?" she asked Edward as he walked towards the door, Bella in his arms. She didn't sound too concerned as she too was aware of Bella's usual klutziness.
"I'm sure she'll be fine," he answered politely, never taking his eyes of Bella's. "I'm taking you to the school nurse right now, love."
As he looked back to see if Bella hadn't forgotten anything, he noticed that contrary to their classmates, the new girl had disappeared without a sound.
So, that was the first chapter. My apologies for any errors you might have come across. English is not my native language, so my grammar can be off a little. Or a lot. :)
I hope you would like to know more about this new girl. If all goes well, I have great things in store for her. She's something we've never seen in Twilight, but most of you will know a thing or two about her… kind. But even then she might surprise you…