Chapter 1 First Impressions
Stephanie Meyers owns all things Twilight
Deep breaths, deep breaths.
Closing my eyes, I felt myself inhale and slowly exhale.
You can do this. You can do this.
There was no way I should be nervous. I had worked my ass off to make it to where I was now, but I couldn't stop the fluttering of nerves that I felt at this moment. Scratch that, I shouldn't say ass, very inappropriate but thank goodness no one could hear my internal monologue. I had spoken in front of countless groups of people, including classes, teachers, and parents, but it had never been as the big cheese; the person in charge.
After many long grueling years of working my way through school to get my bachelor's, master's and certification to be a principal I'd landed this position, my first big gig, as Alice had called it. I had been a 4th grade teacher and worked my way up to vice-principal until I heard from Alice about this position. The price I'd paid for my relatively quick rise to the top had been long days of work, followed by long nights of prep work and no social life to speak of except for occasional dinners or drinks with my best friend Alice and my sister Rosalie.
I smoothed my sweaty palms down my skirt, and slid my black heels on. The only drawback to this position is that I had to look respectable, which included standard female business attire. Too bad I was the clumsiest person on the planet. However, since I was travel size, as Rosalie would call me, I had to wear them. Apparently, it helped to reinforce my position of power when I looked taller. I honestly doubted it could make a difference that even with 3-inch heels I was only five and a half feet tall. Well below average height, I could carry myself with authority when I chose to with the ability to talk even the angriest parent at a PTA meeting back down.
Left, right, left, don't trip was my mantra. Amazingly enough I stepped into the crowded teachers' lounge without incident. Phew, I thought, standing up straight and smoothing my pencil skirt down. I plastered my most dazzling smile on my face and smiled at the teachers of whom I would be in charge for at least the next year.
"Good morning, everyone. I'm Ms. Swan, your new principal. I look forward to working with and getting to know each one of you." Rambling on, I gave the typical tried and true principal's spiel about the faculty, staff, unity, and involvement, stressing the fact if we all worked together I strongly believed that we could bring Northwest Elementary to be one of the top elementary schools in the state. My eyes slid over to catch a glimpse of Alice to capture her reaction to my speech. She flashed me a glowing smile and a nod of her head in approval.
I was winding my speech, preparing to end it and dismiss the teachers and staff when a young, attractive man stumbled into the faculty room wearing a black vintage leather jacket, and a cherry red motorcycle helmet in hand. The young man's bronze hair and semi-professional yet wrinkled button-down shirt were askew . The shirt had several buttons threaded through the wrong holes making him appear more than a little disheveled He rushed into the faculty room quickly, realizing later rather than sooner that he burst into the middle of a meeting. Briskly stopping, a horrified look on his face he whipped his head in my direction, his gaze locked on my steely disapproving glare. His face immediately flamed a burning scarlet and as swiftly as he had looked at me, his eyes slid downward gazing at the ground, suddenly enthralled by the golden flecks in the hideous puce Berber. I frowned and glared quizzically at the man. He was obviously in the wrong place. It was apparent he did not belong here in the faculty room of an elementary school. I opened my mouth to ask him if I could help him find what he was looking for when Alice jumped up and made one of her graceful bounces over to him quickly recognizing it as the one she does only when she is excited. Where Alice got her boundless energy was a secret I was still trying to find out.
"Edward!" she called, "I wondered where you were." before pulling him into a giant hug.
When he saw Alice, his face lit up when he smiled. "Yeah, sorry, Alice. Technical difficulties."
"C'mere Edward, I want you to meet the new principal, Bella Swan. She is a friend of mine and I think you will really like her," Alice said emphasizing the word really and with a glint of mischievousness in her eye.
Alice guided the young man over to me and said, "Bella I would like you to meet Edward Cullen; he's the other 1st grade teacher here at the school." I couldn't help but notice how she said "like" very much in the style of the old Life cereal commercials, "She likes it, she really, really likes it!"
To say I was dumbstruck would be an understatement; the very young man who walked in looking like he was a teenage hoodlum was a 1st grade teacher. Oh my, what have I gotten myself into? Alice obviously cared for him and trusted him so he couldn't be that bad, right? I asked myself. It was hard to believe that this was a good thing. I steeled my gaze on the rumpled younger man and reached out my hand to shake his in greeting,
"It is nice to meet you, Mr. Cullen." Blatantly lying through my teeth, I was not pleased in the least to meet him or to have to deal with this sort of teacher. What was the previous principal thinking when he hired the man who is still a man-child? Edward grasped my hand in a firm handshake and as he did so, a fiery electrical current surged through my fingers straight to my heart. It was warm and, tingly and felt like home. This feeling more than unnerved me and caused me to overreact to the already harsh judgments I had heaped upon him. Harshly, I asked him, "Mr. Cullen, is it typical for you to arrive late and unkempt to work? Is this behavior something I should come to expect of you? If this is typical then I ask that you leave right now and we will find someone else to teach your class. Tardiness, not being prepared, and not looking the part of a teacher to the valuable minds we are entrusted with each day is unacceptable."
His boyishly handsome face fell and I almost felt bad. Almost. He looked down and shuffled his feet before he could respond Alice stepped in front of him, arms folded in front of her chest, her tiny body in a protective stance like she was his own personal miniature bodyguard. Alice was tiny but mighty.
"Bella!" she nearly screeched, "What has gotten into you? I am sure Edward has a rational explanation for this morning. I will have you know," she continued in a voice full of passionate belief, "Edward is one of the best teachers at this school; parents and students alike love him. His classes always perform beyond many of the others in the state in end of the year testing. Now, I don't know what has come over you and you may be my boss, but you will not disrespect Edward this way; he does not deserve it."
I was floored. Alice must really believe in this man to be so fiercely protective of him and defend him the way she did. I didn't understand. Usually Alice and I had no problem seeing eye to eye but there was something about Edward Cullen that just rubbed me the wrong way. I glared at Alice, and then I looked Mr. Cullen in the eye with a look full of doubt and trepidation. I would have to talk to her later about calling me out in front of everyone. It simply wasn't acceptable for her to challenge my authority in front of everyone, especially when I'd just started here. It set a bad example. I wasn't a dictator but this wasn't negotiable.
"Mr. Cullen, I apologize if I was a bit harsh but I expect this not to happen again. I will be expecting proof by your actions as a teacher to show me that every word Alice said is true. Alice, will you please come with me?" I requested, "I would like to talk with you in my office." Alice made a loud humph sound, shrugged, and then mouthed the word sorry to Edward. He returned a kind and reassuring smile back at her before quickly glancing at me then scurrying from the room like a dog with its tail between its legs.
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