DISCLAIMER: Twilight and its characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. The remainder of the words, plot and lackluster formatting belong to me.

WARNING: This chapter contains an attempted sexual assault.

I wanted to thank the mods at Project Team Beta for their work. It's a wonderful service if you're in need of a beta. Thank you to my betas Scorp112 and SweetVenom69 for their beta work on this chapter.


I hated to leave the library early, but it was necessary. I had an SAT prep course at the University of Washington in the morning, and the drive would take more than three hours. The free course was arranged by the high school trying to entice more of its senior students to get a post-secondary education. Though I didn't really need help with the test, I also knew I couldn't be too prepared. I took my schoolwork seriously and my efforts were reflected on my transcripts. They were impeccable. Somehow I'd always understood what my mind was capable of. Of course, if I hadn't realized it on my own, my fellow students were all too happy to point it out to me.

I was well acquainted with the fact that I didn't fit in. The teasing and labels had long ago become background noise. Others in my year were interested in football games, school dances and who was dating whom; I preferred Bunsen burners, chemical reactions and the periodic table. These things were logical, they were tools to help me achieve my goals, and they were so much simpler to befriend than anyone I'd ever met at Forks High. That's not to say I was a social outcast; it was just easier to be by myself for the most part.

The library was only a half block from the school. Rather than chance finding a spot in the library's tiny parking lot, I'd left my car in the lot at school and walked the short distance. Stepping out into the misty evening air, I regretted the decision immediately. I hadn't brought my raincoat or umbrella, and I was not in the mood to get wet. It was short-sighted to think the dry weather would last. I knew better.

I trudged along, irritated by the splashing of my soles against the wet pavement, longing for the solace of my dry car. When I got to the lot, I noticed only one other car in the far corner to where I was parked. I normally wouldn't have given it a second thought but the voices caught my attention.

"Mike, don't."

I gritted my teeth instinctively at the name. My hatred for Mike Newton developed almost instantly when we met. He was self-absorbed, slow-witted and rude for starters, but his worst trait of all was that he preyed on other people's shortcomings to make himself feel better. No one was off limits to him, and his popularity confounded me. Why anyone wanted to spend time with him, let alone date him, was beyond me. I suppose his boyish good looks took him into a girl's good graces, but his charm deteriorated next to his atrocious attitude. I'd never met a more conceited person in all my life. Even still, practically every girl in our class had dated him or wanted to, and some of them multiple times. I couldn't pretend to understand the mind of a seventeen-year-old girl but the fact that they just kept coming back for more left me astonished.

"Mike, I said no."

It was the tone in the girl's voice that made me heedful. I was sure Mike had held many girls in a similar position, but this one didn't seem to care for it. I cautiously began to walk towards the car. I didn't recognize the female voice and it was too dark to see anything but silhouettes. Not that it mattered who she was. If she was in trouble, she was in trouble.

"I mean it. Get off me!"

Her voice was louder and more insistent now. I concentrated on it trying to pinpoint to whom it belonged. I could see two figures in the front seat of the car. Mike appeared to have the girl pinned against the door with his body.

"Relax, baby. I'm not going to hurt you."

Disgusting. If I could tell from fifty feet away that the girl didn't want him to touch her, surely he could tell with his mouth pressed up against her ear. I was unsure what to do, but I knew I had to do something.

"I don't want you to do anything to me," the girl hissed.

I bit my lip to stifle the laugh that threatened; Mike's ego wasn't going to like hearing that. I felt a kinship with this girl, whomever she was. Our opinions of Mike seemed to be simpatico.

"I'm going to make everything all better."

"I don't want you to. Get away from me!"

I was ten feet from the car now and still not sure what I could do to help, if anything. I could see the girl struggling to maneuver from underneath Mike's body and it made me angry. I didn't understand how he could ignore the girl's pleas, let alone disregard the way she tried to push him off of her.

"Stop it, please," she begged. I could hear fear in her voice now.

Acting on pure instinct, I yanked the driver's side door open and grabbed Mike by the back of the shirt. His hold on the girl was so strong that he dragged her along with him for a second before finally letting her go. She cried out in pain as I hauled Mike to the ground. Her head must have hit the window when her body recoiled from his hold. I quickly bent into the car to check on her.

"You fucking asshole," Mike yelled. "Who the hell do you think you are?"

I heard him scrambling behind me.

"Are you okay," I asked, offering my hand to the tangle of brunette curls that greeted me, their owner's back to me as she worked to get the passenger door open.

If she answered me, I didn't hear her. Mike had my arm and was pulling me out of the car. Before I could get my bearings, he turned me and punched me in the stomach. I staggered backwards until my body hit the car.

"This is none of your fucking business," Mike hollered, pushing me away from the door so he could get back in. I knew I couldn't let him. I had to give the girl time to get out. I moved towards him, shifting my weight to my left foot as I stepped forward and threw a punch squarely at his nose. A searing pain shot through my knuckles and blood began to pour from Mike's nostrils.

"You dickhead! I think you broke my nose." His hands flew to his face and I took the opportunity to look for the girl. I found her beside the passenger side door, crawling on her hands and knees on the asphalt, a mess of long brown hair and sobs.

"Are you alright?" I inquired, dropping down on to my knee to check for myself. She finally raised her head to look at me, and I recognized her instantly. "Bella?"

She nodded diminutively and then dropped her eyes from mine.

"I need to lay down," she mumbled, pressing her cheek to the wet pavement and closing her eyes.

I heard Mike slam the door and rev the engine of his car. I grabbed Bella and pulled her away from the car to be pre-emptive.

"You'll pay for this, Cullen!" Mike threatened through the rolled down window. "You need to learn to mind your own fucking business. She's not even worth it; she doesn't put out. Not that it matters. If she wouldn't sleep with me, she sure as hell wouldn't fuck you."

And with that he slammed the car into gear and pulled away, the tires squealing one final irritating insult at us.



"Let me go," I muttered. Even though I hadn't said it very convincingly, something told me Edward Cullen had no intention of hurting me.

"Are you okay?" he asked again.

Hadn't I already told him I was fine? I thought I had.

"I'm fine."

"Then why are you crawling? Did something happen to your legs?"

Why was I crawling? I couldn't remember. I sat down and slid my legs out in front of me. They looked perfectly normal.

"No, my legs are fine."

"Here. Let me help you up."

A large hand with long, thin fingers stretched out towards me. I reached out to take it. His skin was cool against mine.

I wonder if he plays the piano.

"Yes, why?"

I blushed. Did I say that out loud?

"Yes, you did. Are you sure you're okay, Bella?"

I looked down at his fingers, curled thoughtfully around mine, and let him pull me up, forgetting that I should be embarrassed for speaking my unedited thoughts aloud.

"I bet you play well with those long fingers. Mine are too short, and I stumble over the keys too much."

"I play well enough, but I would attribute it to the hours of practice that were required by my mother more than the length of my fingers. And you haven't answered my question."

"What question?"

"You're acting strangely."

"How would you know? And that's not a question!"

I knew I sounded defensive and had no right to feel that way. Mike was the one who tried to hurt me, not Edward.

"You were crawling on your hands and knees, and now you're talking about my fingers. You don't find that behavior strange after what just happened to you?"

"Nothing happened, and no, I don't find it strange per se."

"So you'd normally hold a stranger's hand in a dark parking lot after Mike Newton tried to force himself on you?"

I realized I was long past the point of propriety for letting go of his hand, but I liked the way it made me feel. And I didn't want to talk about Mike.

"You're not a stranger."

"A relative stranger then."

"Your hand is bleeding," I noted distractedly.

"I know," he muttered, staring down at our joined hands. I wondered if the strange look on his face had more to do with the fact that I was still holding his hand than the blood that was gushing from his knuckles.

"You should get that looked at," I suggested quietly, dropping his hand and stepping back.

Without Edward to lean on, I felt unsteady on my feet.

"Did he hurt you?" Edward asked through gritted teeth.

The action struck me odd. After all, I meant nothing to Edward, but Mike obviously did.

"You don't like him, do you?" I hedged.

The dizziness was getting worse, and I was overcome with tiredness. Something wasn't right. Better than falling on my face, I just sat down on the pavement.

"No, I don't. Can you say you do after what he tried to do to you?"

"I don't feel quite as warmly towards him after this evening's skirmish," I admitted, looking down. Things around me were starting to spin. "Although I wasn't exactly hot for him before that."

I squeezed my eyes shut to stop the spinning and heard Edward snicker. When I opened my eyes, his face was only a few inches from mine, his eyes looking worriedly into mine.

"Did he hurt you?"

"I don't feel very well."

"Are you going to be sick?"

His voice sounded far away and echoey.

"I'll just lay down here."

The coolness of the ground against my skin made things stop spinning. I closed my eyes and let the relief wash over me.

A/N: Thank you for checking out my new story. I hope you enjoyed the first chapter. I'd love to hear what you think so click the review button.