((READ!)) Okay here's the second chapter! I've been real busy beta reading for Twilight Forever222 and Poopsi. You have to read their stories they're both great! Well anyways, even though I'm busy I will still be posting chapters. My laptop which was tragically broken by my sister, had this chapter on it, so that's why you get this late. Sorry! ALSO! I was wondering if anyone wanted anymore characters put into the reading. What about Charlie, Renee? Edward's real parents? One of the Cullen's from the future? One of the students at school? Just tell me cause, I'm thinking about it. Here's the disclaimer.
Me: Hey Stephanie if I marry you, what you own I own right?
Me: Will you marry me? Please?
Stephenie: Um... Why?
Me: So I can own Twilight of course!
None of us own Twilight but Stephenie Meyer though we all wish we did!
"Open Book." Jasper read again after the whole family stopped laughing at Alice's antics.
The next day was better… and worse.
"I bet dad has something to do with that!" Renesmee said giggling as she saw her dad's face which was frowning.
"I thought you liked me!" Edward replied faking hurt. He was starting to see her as his little girl, and he already loved her so much.
"I don't!" Renesmee said it brightly. "I love you!" she concluded in a tone that said it was the most obvious thing ever.
It was better because it wasn't raining yet, though the clouds were dense and opaque. It was easier because I knew what to expect of my day. Mike came to sit by me in English, and walked me to my next class, with Chess Club Eric glaring at him all the while; that was flattering. People didn't look at me quite as much as they had yesterday. I sat with a big group at lunch that included Mike, Eric, Jessica, and several other people whose names and faces I now remembered. I began to feel like I was treading water, instead of drowning in it.
"You're weird Bella." Alice said laughing loudly.
Bella blushed pink, but then remembered something. "Your one to talk the girl who has visions and see's the future!" Bella spoke cutting off Alice's laughs.
Edward laughed quietly next to Bella, while Alice fixed her eyes on his face.
"You told her about me?" Alice said glaring.
"Of course sweet sister of mine who I love oh so dearly." Edward sang smiling. It shocked everyone for a second to see him that way, but then everyone
was laughing at Alice who was pouting in her seat.
It was worse because I was tired; I still couldn't sleep with the wind echoing around the house. It was worse because Mr. Varner called on me in Trig when my hand wasn't raised and I had the wrong answer. It was miserable because I had to play volleyball, and the one time I didn't cringe out of the way of the ball, I hit my teammate in the head with it. And it was worse because Edward Cullen wasn't in school at all.
"Told you!" Renesmee laughed
Edward just shook his head.
All morning I was dreading lunch, fearing his bizarre glares. Part of me wanted to
confront him and demand to know what his problem was.
"You should be thankful he saved you! It's you who's the problem! Stupid human!" Rosalie spat growling loudly.
Edward glared at Rosalie and if Renesmee and Bella weren't there someone would have lost their head.
Bella curled into Edward scared a bit. She is right though. Bella thought sadly.
Renesmee was very close to yelling at her aunt, but she knew that it was disrespectful.
"Jasper." Carlisle asked and Jasper nodded calming everyone down.
Rosalie huffed and ran to her room to be away from Bella.
"Jasper continue Rosalie can hear from down here." Carlisle suggested.
While I was lying sleepless in my bed, I even imagined what I would say. But I knew myself too well to think I would really have the guts to do it. I made the Cowardly Lion look like the terminator. But when I walked into the cafeteria with Jessica — trying to keep my eyes from
sweeping the place for him, and failing entirely — I saw that his four siblings of sorts were sitting together at the same table, and he was not with them.
Mike intercepted us and steered us to his table.
"Ugh stupid Mike newton." Edward growled.
"Calm down dad." Renesmee murmured patting Edward's shoulder effectively stopping his stiff posture.
Jessica seemed elated by the attention, and her friends quickly joined us. But as I tried to listen to their easy chatter, I was terribly uncomfortable, waiting nervously for the moment he would arrive. I hoped that he would simply ignore me when he came, and prove my suspicions false.
He didn't come, and as time passed I grew more and more tense. I walked to Biology with more confidence when, by the end of lunch, he still hadn't showed. Mike, who was taking on the qualities of a golden retriever,
walked faithfully by my side to class. I held my breath at the door, but Edward Cullen wasn't there, either.
I exhaled and went to my seat. Mike followed, talking about an upcoming trip to the beach.
He lingered by my desk till the bell rang. Then he smiled at me wistfully and went to sit by a girl with braces and a bad perm. It looked like I was going to have to do something about Mike, and it wouldn't be easy. In a town like this, where everyone lived on top of everyone else, diplomacy was essential. I had never been enormously tactful; I had no practice dealing with overly friendly boys.
I was relieved that I had the desk to myself, that Edward was absent. I told myself that repeatedly. But I couldn't get rid of the nagging suspicion that I was the reason he wasn't there. It was ridiculous, and egotistical, to think that I could affect anyone that strongly. It was impossible. And yet I couldn't stop worrying that it was true. When the school day was finally done, and the blush was fading out of my cheeks from the volleyball incident, I changed
quickly back into my jeans and navy blue sweater. I hurried from the girls' locker room, pleased to find that I had successfully evaded my retriever friend for the moment. I walked swiftly out to the parking lot. It was crowded now with fleeing students. I got in my truck and dug through my bag to make sure I had what I needed.
Last night I'd discovered that Charlie couldn't cook much besides fried eggs and bacon.
"How did he survive?" Esme wondered out loud.
"The diner I guess." Bella thought sadly. She was starting to feel very bad for never visiting her dad more during her life.
"That's not very healthy." Carlisle said.
So I requested that I be assigned kitchen detail for the duration of my stay. He was
willing enough to hand over the keys to the banquet hall. I also found out that he had no food in the house. So I had my shopping list and the cash from the jar in the cupboard labeled FOOD MONEY, and I was on my way to the Thriftway.
I gunned my deafening engine to life, ignoring the heads that turned in my direction, and backed carefully into a place in the line of cars that were waiting to exit the parking lot. As I waited, trying to pretend that the earsplitting rumble was coming from someone else's car, I saw the two Cullens and the Hale twins getting into their car. It was the shiny new Volvo. Of course. I hadn't noticed their clothes before — I'd been too mesmerized by their faces. Now that I looked, it was obvious that they were all dressed exceptionally well; simply, but in clothes that subtly hinted at designer origins. With their remarkable good looks, the style with which they carried themselves, they could have worn dishrags and pulled it off.
"No if I have something to do with it." Alice shrieked. "That's just horrible, way worse than your horrid things you call clothes."
Bella took little offence to Alice's insult. She's crazy after all.
"Oh please no." Jasper pled knowing what was going to happen next.
"Jasper we're going shopping later." Alice smiled apparently not hearing him.
It seemed excessive for them to have both looks and money. But as far as I could tell, life worked that way most of the time. It didn't look as if it bought them any acceptance here. No, I didn't fully believe that. The isolation must be their desire; I couldn't imagine any door that wouldn't be opened by that degree of beauty.
They looked at my noisy truck as I passed them, just like everyone else. I kept my eyes straightforward and was relieved when I finally was free of the school grounds. The Thriftway was not far from the school, just a few streets south, off the highway. It was nice to be inside the supermarket; it felt normal. I did the shopping at home,
and I fell into the pattern of the familiar task gladly. The store was big enough inside that I couldn't hear the tapping of the rain on the roof to remind me where I was.
When I got home, I unloaded all the groceries, stuffing them in wherever I could find an open space. I hoped Charlie wouldn't mind. I wrapped potatoes in foil and stuck them in the oven to bake, covered a steak in marinade and balanced it on top of a carton of eggs in the fridge.
When I was finished with that, I took my book bag upstairs. Before starting my
homework, I changed into a pair of dry sweats, pulled my damp hair up into a pony-tail, and checked my e-mail for the first time. I had three messages.
"From your mom I bet." Renesmee laughed. She had heard some crazy stories about her from her mom. Her dad even had one or two.
"Bella," my mom wrote…
Write me as soon as you get in. Tell me how your flight was. Is it raining? I miss you already. I'm almost finished packing for Florida, but I can't find my pink blouse.
Do you know where I put it? Phil says hi. Mom.
I sighed and went to the next. It was sent eight hours after the first.
"Bella," she wrote…
Why haven't you e-mailed me yet? What are you waiting for? Mom.
The last was from this morning.
"OH, she said your full name you're in trouble." Emmett laughing.
"You're the one to know." Edward said shaking his head.
"Hey! That's not true!" Emmett shouted throwing a pillow at Edward, who casually flinged it off before it could hit him.
"Ahhh!" Emmett said frustrated with Edward and his mind reading ability.
"Emmett Dale McCarthy Cullen!" Esme called freezing Emmett. "Stop throwing pillows at your brother."
"But it's not true! I don't get in trouble all the time!"
"Oh be quiet and stop throwing pillows." Esme said ending the conversation.
Alice, Renesmee, Bella, and Edward laughed while Carlisle just shook his head.
If I haven't heard from you by 5:30 p.m. today I'm calling Charlie.
I checked the clock. I still had an hour, but my mom was well known for jumping the gun.
Calm down. I'm writing right now. Don't do anything rash.
I sent that, and began again.
Everything is great. Of course it's raining. I was waiting for something to write about. School isn't bad, just a little repetitive. I met some nice kids who sit by me at lunch. Your blouse is at the dry cleaners - you were supposed to pick it up Friday.
Charlie bought me a truck, can you believe it? I love it. It's old, but really sturdy, which is good, you know, for me. I miss you, too.
I'll write again soon, but I'm not going to check my e-mail every five minutes. Relax, breathe. I love you.
I had decided to read Wuthering Heights — the novel we were currently studying in English — yet again for the fun of it,
"That book is horrid, I don't understand how you can read it for fun." Edward snorted.
Rosalie descended down the stairs slowly, and sat down next to Emmett quietly.
and that's what I was doing when Charlie came home. I'd lost track of the time, and I hurried downstairs to take the potatoes out and put the steak in to broil.
"Bella?" my father called out when he heard me on the stairs. Who else? I thought to myself. "Hey, Dad, welcome home."
"Thanks." He hung up his gun belt and stepped out of his boots as I bustled about the kitchen. As far as I was aware, he'd never shot the gun on the job. But he kept it ready.
When I came here as a child, he would always remove the bullets as soon as he walked in the door.
I guess he considered me old enough now not to shoot myself by accident, and not depressed enough to shoot myself on purpose.
"That would be funny if Bella accidently shot herself in the foot!" Emmett giggled like a little kid.
"No it would not be." Edward said glaring.
"Dad's right, I accidently shot myself in the leg with grandpa's gun, trust me it hurt, and I'm half vampire." Renesmee said seriously.
"You accidently shot yourself?" Edward and Bella said at the exact same time.
"Umm, well I guess not accidently. I kinda wanted to know how it felt to get shot, and I pulled the trigger before I could move it further." She replied even more serious.
"Are you suicidal?" Edward asked hugging her close. It hurt him to think about his little girl getting hurt.
"What's for dinner?" he asked warily. My mother was an imaginative cook, and her experiments weren't always edible.
I was surprised, and sad, that he seemed to remember that far back. "Steak and potatoes," I answered, and he looked relieved.
He seemed to feel awkward standing in the kitchen doing nothing; he lumbered into the living room to watch TV while I worked. We were both more comfortable that way. I made a salad while the steaks cooked, and set the table.
I called him in when dinner was ready, and he sniffed appreciatively as he walked into the room.
"Smells good, Bell." "Thanks."
We ate in silence for a few minutes. It wasn't uncomfortable. Neither of us was
bothered by the quiet.
In some ways, we were well suited for living together. "So, how did you like school? Have you made any friends?" he asked as he was taking seconds.
"Well, I have a few classes with a girl named Jessica. I sit with her friends at lunch. And there's this boy, Mike, who's very friendly. Everybody seems pretty nice." With one outstanding exception. "That must be Mike Newton. Nice kid
— nice family. His dad owns the sporting goods store just outside of town. He makes a good living off all the backpackers who come through here." "Do you know the Cullen family?" I asked hesitantly.
"Dr. Cullen's family? Sure. Dr. Cullen's a great man."
"It's nice to know someone thinks good of me, even if I don't deserve it." Carlisle murmured lowly.
Bella was shocked by his words. She could tell he was good man, his every action showed that, so why did he believe not? She glanced sideways at Edward who was lost in thought.
"Do you really believe that?" Bella and Esme said at the same time, while the others nodded in agreement. They couldn't imagine their loving and caring father as bad.
Edward, who had been a little caught up during this, stood up abruptly. "That's not true Carlisle, I never blamed you for changing me, because I knew you were only trying to help. That doesn't make you a bad person." He said sternly.
"Yes it does, because for 100 years I have had to see you alone, sad, unhappy, and I never helped. Not because I didn't want to, but because I didn't know how to. Then my son, who I love dearly, sees himself as a monster, and shouldn't live. How can I call myself a good person, when my son who I see as another me, thinks this way?" Carlisle was about to go on when Renesmee stepped up.
"Both of you stop! I don't want to hear you two talk this way! Let's just get back to reading." She waved to Jasper, and Edward sat back down, pulling Bella closer.
"I am-" Before Edward could finish, Renesmee spoke loudly.
"All I know is that I have a wonderful grandpa who's always asking how I'm feeling, and an AMAZING dad who I love more than the number of the stars in the sky. He is understanding, can't stand to yell at me even when I do stupid stuff, always holds me when I'm down, always knows what to say to make me feel better, and the first thing he asks when he sees me crying is, 'who do I have to beat up?' He's more than I could ever ask for."
Before Renesmee could finish her words, Edward crushed her to him, and cradled her cheek. His eyes shined with happiness, and for a moment everyone thought that a tear would roll down his cheek. He swallowed, and cleared his throat. His voice was heavy with emotion as he spoke.
"I have only known you for a day, and already I feel like I've known you forever. You're my daughter from the future, and you're my daughter now. You'll always be." His smile was blinding, and even Rosalie could feel the happiness it came from.
"Hey what about me?" Bella spoke from Edward's other side, looking at both of them-who at her voice- turn to face her.
"We didn't forget about you mom, you're a very important part in this too." Renesmee started to speak again, but Emmett cut in.
"STOP! I can't take this, Jasper please start reading again!"
"They… the kids… are a little different. They don't seem to fit in very well at school." Charlie surprised me by looking angry.
"People in this town," he muttered. "Dr. Cullen is a brilliant surgeon who could
probably work in any hospital in the world, make ten times the salary he gets here," he continued, getting louder. "We're lucky to have him — lucky that his wife wanted to live in a small town. He's an asset to the community, and all of those kids are well behaved and polite.
I had my doubts, when they first moved in, with all those adopted teenagers. I thought we might have some problems with them. But they're all very mature — I haven't had one speck of trouble from any of them. That's more than I can say for the children of some folks who have lived in this town for generations. And they stick together the way a family should — camping trips every other weekend… Just because they're newcomers, people have to talk."
"Wow!" Emmett gaped really shocked.
It was the longest speech I'd ever heard Charlie make. He must feel strongly about whatever people were saying.
I backpedaled. "They seemed nice enough to me. I just noticed they kept to themselves. They're all very attractive," I added, trying to be more complimentary. "You should see the doctor," Charlie said, laughing. "It's a good thing he's happily
married. A lot of the nurses at the hospital have a hard time concentrating on their work with him around."
"I didn't know this?" Esme asked inquisitively.
"Don't worry, my heart is only for you." Carlisle said without missing a beat. Well actually he did miss a beat, quite a lot of them.
We lapsed back into silence as we finished eating. He cleared the table while I started on the dishes. He went back to the TV, and after I finished washing the dishes by hand — no dishwasher — I went upstairs unwillingly to work on my math homework. I could feel a tradition in the making.
That night it was finally quiet. I fell asleep quickly, exhausted. The rest of the week was uneventful. I got used to the routine of my classes. By Friday I was able to recognize, if not name, almost all the students at school.
In Gym, the kids on my team learned not to pass me the ball and to step quickly in front of me if the other team tried to take advantage of my weakness. I happily stayed out of their way.
Edward Cullen didn't come back to school.
"You know dad it's not good to skip school." Renesmee shook her head sternly at him and everyone laughed at her.
"Hey!" she said glaring at everyone.
"I know sweetie." Edward patted her shoulder to calm her down. She nodded and leaned into him.
Every day, I watched anxiously until the rest of the Cullens entered the cafeteria without him.
Then I could relax and join in the lunchtime conversation. Mostly it centered around a trip to the La Push Ocean Park in two weeks that Mike was putting together. I was invited, and I had agreed to go, more out of politeness than desire.
Beaches should be hot and dry.
By Friday I was perfectly comfortable entering my Biology class, no longer worried that Edward would be there. For all I knew, he had dropped out of school. I tried not to think about him, but I couldn't totally suppress the worry that I was responsible for his continued absence,
ridiculous as it seemed.
"Well Edward is pretty ridiculous himself so.." Emmett chuckled.
"I'll show you ridiculous!" Edward spat at him.
"Go dad!" Renesmee looked at Bella expectantly.
"Go Edward?" she said slowly.
Renesmee nodded in approvement.
My first weekend in Forks passed without incident. Charlie, unused to spending time in the usually empty house, worked most of the weekend. I cleaned the house, got ahead on my homework, and wrote my mom more bogusly cheerful e-mail. I did drive to the library Saturday, but it was so poorly stocked that I didn't bother to get a card; I would have to make a date to visit Olympia or Seattle soon and find a good bookstore. I wondered idly what kind of gas mileage the truck got…
and shuddered at the thought. The rain stayed soft over the weekend, quiet,
so I was able to sleep well.
People greeted me in the parking lot Monday morning. I didn't know all their names, but I waved back and smiled at everyone. It was colder this morning, but happily not raining. In English, Mike took his accustomed seat by my side. We had a pop quiz on Wuthering Heights. It was straightforward, very easy.
"Yeah because you've read it 678 times!" Renesmee raised both her hands and shook them as she talked.
"I don't think I've read it that many times." Bella smiled.
"No you have. At home you read it almost every day! Even if you didn't have photographic memory, you would know every single word by heart a thousand times over." Renesmee rambled and soon Alice was rambling along with her until everyone just stopped listening and Jasper read again.
All in all, I was feeling a lot more comfortable than I had thought I would feel by this point. More comfortable than I had ever expected to feel here. When we walked out of class, the air was full of swirling bits of white.
I could hear people shouting excitedly to each other. The wind bit at my cheeks, my nose.
"Wow," Mike said. "It's snowing." I looked at the little cotton fluffs that were building up along the sidewalk and swirling erratically past my face.
He looked surprised. "Don't you like snow?"
"No. That means it's too cold for rain." Obviously. "Besides, I thought it was supposed to come down in flakes — you know, each one unique and all that. These just look like the ends of Q-tips."
"You've never seen snow have you?" Emmett asked blatantly.
"Yes, I have." Bella responded truthfully, with a bit of humor at the end.
Emmett just nodded, believing.
Rosalie caught on though, "Before then?" she questioned.
Bella was a little shocked that Rosalie was fully addressing her, and without anger. And then she smiled a little, "Nope," Bella laughed hugging Edward.
"Haven't you ever seen snow fall before?" he asked incredulously.
"Sure I have." I paused." On TV." Mike laughed. And then a big, squishy ball of dripping snow smacked into the back of his head. We both turned to see where it came from. I had my suspicions about Eric, who was walking away, his back toward us — in the wrong direction for his next class. Mike apparently had the same notion. He bent over and began scraping together a pile of the white mush.
"I'll see you at lunch, okay?" I kept walking as I spoke. "Once people start throwing wet stuff, I go inside."
He just nodded, his eyes on Eric's retreating figure. Throughout the morning, everyone chattered excitedly about the snow; apparently it was the first snowfall of the new year. I kept my mouth shut. Sure, it was drier than rain— until it melted in your socks.
I walked alertly to the cafeteria with Jessica after Spanish. Mush balls were flying
everywhere. I kept a binder in my hands, ready to use it as a shield if necessary. Jessica thought I was hilarious, but something in my expression kept her from lobbing a snowball at me herself.
Mike caught up to us as we walked in the doors, laughing, with ice melting the spikes in his hair. He and Jessica were talking animatedly about the snow fight as we got in line to buy food. I glanced toward that table in the corner out of habit. And then I froze where I stood. There were five people at the table.
"Dun dun dun!" Emmett and Jasper sang, throwing their hands in the air dramatically.
Both of their wives just shook their heads at them, and rolled their eyes.
"I'm glad you don't do that." Bella said exasperated.
"That's because I'm not stupid." Edward scoffed at Emmett and Jasper.
"Your just a prude!" Emmett chuckled reaching his hand for Jasper to high five it.
Jasper didn't respond to it, he just looked the other way.
Bella glared at Emmett, and Emmett shrunk into his seat, nudging Jasper.
Jessica pulled on my arm.
"Hello? Bella? What do you want?"
I looked down; my ears were hot. I had no reason to feel self-conscious, I reminded myself. I hadn't done anything wrong.
"What's with Bella?" Mike asked Jessica.
"Why don't you ask her you moron!" Alice glared at the book.
"Language please." Esme murmured quietly.
"He is a moron though." Edward replied sweetly.
Esme smiled brightly. "Even so, please watch your tone."
Everyone caught her hidden words.
"Nothing," I answered. "I'll just get a soda today." I caught up to the end of the line.
"Aren't you hungry?" Jessica asked.
"Actually, I feel a little sick," I said, my eyes still on the floor.
I waited for them to get their food, and then followed them to a table, my eyes on my
feet. I sipped my soda slowly, my stomach churning. Twice Mike asked, with unnecessary concern, how I was feeling. I told him it was nothing, but I was wondering if I should play it up and escape to the nurse's office for the next hour.
Ridiculous. I shouldn't have to run away.
I decided to permit myself one glance at the Cullen family's table. If he was glaring at me, I would skip Biology, like the coward I was.
"You never were a coward, I mean you talked to vampires on a daily basis! I think it was because you liked him." Carlisle informed.
Edward smiled, and patted Bella.
I kept my head down and glanced up under my lashes. None of them were looking this way. I lifted my head a little.
They were laughing. Edward, Jasper, and Emmett all had their hair entirely saturated with melting snow. Alice and Rosalie were leaning away as Emmett shook his dripping hair toward them. They were enjoying the snowy day, just like everyone else — only they looked more like a scene from a movie than the rest of us.
But, aside from the laughter and playfulness, there was something different, and I Couldn't quite pinpoint what that difference was. I examined Edward the most carefully.
His skin was less pale, I decided — flushed from the snow fight maybe — the circles
under his eyes much less noticeable. But there was something more. I pondered, staring, trying to isolate the change. "Bella, what are you staring at?" Jessica intruded, her eyes following my stare.
At that precise moment, his eyes flashed over to meet mine.
I dropped my head, letting my hair fall to conceal my face. I was sure, though, in the instant our eyes met, that he didn't look harsh or unfriendly as he had the last time I'd seen him. He looked merely curious again, unsatisfied in some way.
"Edward Cullen is staring at you," Jessica giggled in my ear.
"He doesn't look angry, does he?" I couldn't help asking.
"No," she said, sounding confused by my question. "Should he be?" "I don't think he likes me," I confided. I still felt queasy. I put my head down on my
"The Cullens don't like anybody…well, they don't notice anybody enough to like them. But he's still staring at you."
"Stop looking at him," I hissed.
She snickered, but she looked away. I raised my head enough to make sure that she did, contemplating violence if she resisted.
"Like little Bella here would hurt anybody!" Emmett chuckled.
"Ah, actually mommy punched a boy in the face after he forced a kiss on her."
"Who kissed her?" Edward asked. Bella was slightly curious too.
"One of her friends I think." Ness responded twirling her hair.
"It better not be Newton, I'll kill him!"
Mike interrupted us then — he was planning an epic battle of the blizzard in the
parking lot after school and wanted us to join. Jessica agreed enthusiastically. The way she looked at Mike left little doubt that she would be up for anything he suggested.
I kept silent. I would have to hide in the gym until the parking lot cleared. For the rest of the lunch hour I very carefully kept my eyes at my own table. I decided to honor the bargain I'd made with myself. Since he didn't look angry, I would go to Biology. My stomach did frightened little flips at the thought of sitting next to him again.
I didn't really want to walk to class with Mike as usual — he seemed to be a popular
target for the snowball snipers — but when we went to the door, everyone besides me groaned in unison. It was raining,
washing all traces of the snow away in clear, icy ribbons down the side of the walkway. I pulled my hood up, secretly pleased. I would be free to go straight home after Gym.
Mike kept up a string of complaints on the way to building four.
Once inside the classroom, I saw with relief that my table was still empty. Mr. Banner was walking around the room, distributing one microscope and box of slides to each table. Class didn't start for a few minutes, and the room buzzed with conversation. I kept my eyes away from the door, doodling idly on the cover of my notebook.
I heard very clearly when the chair next to me moved, but my eyes stayed carefully
focused on the pattern I was drawing. "Hello," said a quiet, musical voice.
I looked up, stunned that he was speaking to me. He was sitting as far away from me as the desk allowed, but his chair was angled toward me. His hair was dripping wet,
disheveled — even so, he looked like he'd just finished shooting a commercial for hair gel.
His dazzling face was friendly, open, a slight smile on his flawless lips. But his eyes were careful. "My name is Edward Cullen," he continued. "I didn't have a chance to introduce myself last week. You must be Bella Swan."
"First mistake. Everyone calls her Isabella."
My mind was spinning with confusion. Had I made up the whole thing? He was
perfectly polite now. I had to speak; he was waiting. But I couldn't think of anything conventional to say.
"H-how do you know my name?" I stammered.
He laughed a soft, enchanting laugh.
"Enchanting? Every time you talk about him, it's about how beautiful he is, or how musical he sounds. Oh Edward, your voice is like melting butter to my ears, I just wanna touch those strong muscles of yours, and squeeze them!" Jasper exaggerated.
"Whoa, Jasper buddy we know she likes to go on about how beautiful Edward is, but still you don't have to bring your inner gay out." Emmett cooed to Jasper.
Everyone except Jasper started laughing, until he started reading again.
"Oh, I think everyone knows your name. The whole town's been waiting for you to arrive."
I grimaced. I knew it was something like that.
"No," I persisted stupidly. "I meant, why did you call me Bella?"
He seemed confused. "Do you prefer Isabella?" "No, I like Bella," I said. "But I think Charlie — I mean my dad — must call me
Isabella behind my back — that's what everyone here seems to know me as,"
I tried to explain, feeling like an utter moron. "Oh." He let it drop. I looked away awkwardly.
Thankfully, Mr. Banner started class at that moment. I tried to concentrate as he explained the lab we would be doing today. The slides in the box were out of order.
Working as lab partners, we had to separate the slides of onion root tip cells into the
phases of mitosis they represented and label them accordingly. We weren't supposed to use our books. In twenty minutes, he would be coming around to see who had it right.
"Get started," he commanded.
"Ladies first, partner?" Edward asked. I looked up to see him smiling a crooked smile so beautiful that I could only stare at him like an idiot.
"Or I could start, if you wish." The smile faded; he was obviously wondering if I was mentally competent.
"No," I said, flushing. "I'll go ahead."
I was showing off, just a little. I'd already done this lab, and I knew what I was looking for. It should be easy. I snapped the first slide into place under the microscope and adjusted it quickly to the 40X objective. I studied the slide briefly.
My assessment was confident." Prophase." "Do you mind if I look?" he asked as I began to remove the slide. His hand caught
mine, to stop me, as he asked. His fingers were ice-cold, like he'd been holding them in a snowdrift before class. But that wasn't why I jerked my hand away so quickly.
When he touched me, it stung my hand as if an electric current had passed through us.
"Did you feel that?" Bella asked. It was such a wonderful feeling, she wanted to know if he felt it too.
"Yeah, when we touched your skin felt much hotter than the normal temperature." Edward sighed rubbing his hands up and down her shoulders.
"I'm sorry," he muttered, pulling his hand back immediately. However, he continued to reach for the microscope. I watched him, still staggered, as he examined the slide for an even shorter time than I had.
"Prophase," he agreed, writing it neatly in the first space on our worksheet. He swiftly switched out the first slide for the second, and then glanced at it cursorily.
"Anaphase," he murmured, writing it down as he spoke. I kept my voice indifferent. "May I?"
He smirked and pushed the microscope to me.
"Mister know-it-all never messes up." Emmett warned.
"Yeah, until Bella got here. Then he kept messing up left and right." Alice laughed high fiving Emmett.
I looked through the eyepiece eagerly, only to be disappointed. Dang it, he was right. "Slide three?" I held out my hand without looking at him.
He handed it to me; it seemed like he was being careful not to touch my skin again.
I took the most fleeting look I could manage.
"Interphase." I passed him the microscope before he could ask for it. He took a swift peek, and then wrote it down. I would have written it while he looked, but his clear, elegant script intimidated me. I didn't want to spoil the page with my clumsy scrawl.
We were finished before anyone else was close. I could see Mike and his partner
comparing two slides again and again, and another group had their book open under the table.
Which left me with nothing to do but try to not look at him… unsuccessfully. I glanced up, and he was staring at me, that same inexplicable look of frustration in his eyes.
Suddenly I identified that subtle difference in his face. "Did you get contacts?" I blurted out unthinkingly.
He seemed puzzled by my unexpected question. "No." "Oh," I mumbled. "I thought there was something different about your eyes."
He shrugged, and looked away.
In fact, I was sure there was something different. I vividly remembered the flat black color of his eyes the last time he'd glared at me — the color was striking against the background of his pale skin and his auburn hair. Today, his eyes were a completely different color: a strange ocher, darker than butterscotch, but with the same golden tone.
I didn't understand how that could be, unless he was lying for some reason about the contacts. Or maybe Forks was making me crazy in the literal sense of the word.
I looked down. His hands were clenched into hard fists again. Mr. Banner came to our table then, to see why we weren't working. He looked over our shoulders to glance at the completed lab, and then stared more intently to check the answers.
"So, Edward, didn't you think Isabella should get a chance with the microscope?"
Mr. Banner asked.
"Bella," Edward corrected automatically. "Actually, she identified three of the five."
Mr. Banner looked at me now; his expression was skeptical. "Have you done this lab before?" he asked.
I smiled sheepishly. "Not with onion root."
"Whitefish blastula?" "Yeah."
Mr. Banner nodded. "Were you in an advanced placement program in Phoenix?"
"Well," he said after a moment, "I guess it's good you two are lab partners." He
mumbled something else as he walked away.
" He said, 'So the other kids can get a chance to learn something for themselves.' It was very rude if I might add." Edward informed gently.
"Mr. Banner is just mad because everything we do is perfect, and that we're smarter than him." Alice added.
"He's jealous of course, like every other human at school. Humans can be so predictable." Edward groaned.
"Hey! I'm a human." Bella spoke nudging Edward.
"Yes, you are. Your different from all the other humans though. You're so unpredictable." They both smiled at each other.
Emmett stared at Renesmee. "You?" He directed toward her.
"What? Don't look at me. I'm half vampire, a hybrid, I'm definitely not predictable." she sighed and then flicked her hands at Jasper.
After he left, I began doodling on my notebook again.
"It's too bad about the snow, isn't it?" Edward asked.
"Are you seriously asking about the weather? Wow Edward you have no experience at all, I mean that's so original it's not even funny!" Emmett chuckled.
"Then why are you laughing?" Edward asked, and Alice nodded her head at him.
Emmett stopped short. "Oh, I… I don't… know. Huh."
I had the feeling that he was forcing himself to make small talk with me. Paranoia swept over me again. It was like he had heard my conversation with Jessica at lunch and was trying to prove me wrong.
"Not really," I answered honestly, instead of pretending to be normal like everyone else.
I was still trying to dislodge the stupid feeling of suspicion, and I couldn't concentrate.
"You don't like the cold." It wasn't a question. "Or the wet." "Forks must be a difficult place for you to live," he mused.
"You have no idea," I muttered darkly. He looked fascinated by what I said, for some reason I couldn't imagine. His face was such a distraction that I tried not to look at it any more than courtesy absolutely demanded.
"Why did you come here, then?" No one had asked me that — not straight out like he did, demanding.
"Edward you need to stop being so rude, I know you weren't raised that way." Esme chided him.
Edward became saddened over her words. "Sorry mom. I didn't mean to." He almost flinched like he had been whiplashed.
"Oh." Esme spoke as she realized what she'd said. "Edward dear, I'm terribly sorry, I didn't mean to speak of that. I only meant to-"
"Mom, it's fine really. You didn't mean any harm. I took it the wrong way."
"I think I can keep up," he pressed.
I paused for a long moment, and then made the mistake of meeting his gaze. His dark gold eyes confused me, and I answered without thinking.
"My mother got remarried," I said. "That doesn't sound so complex," he disagreed, but he was suddenly sympathetic.
"When did that happen?"
"Last September." My voice sounded sad, even to me. "And you don't like him," Edward surmised, his tone still kind.
"Don't jump to assumptions, or conclusions, she'll bit your head off." Edward muttered.
"If only you had of know that then Edward, if only." Alice said dead serious, shaking her head and trying to hold her laughter in.
"No, Phil is fine. Too young, maybe, but nice enough."
"Why didn't you stay with them?"
I couldn't fathom his interest, but he continued to stare at me with penetrating eyes, as if my dull life's story was somehow vitally important.
"Everything about you is important." Edward rubbed his nosed across Bella's cheek, sniffing her.
"Ahh," Bella tried to concentrate so she could speak. "But, you barely knew me."
"And even then, you interested me to no end."
"Yah! He couldn't stop thinking about you. He started stalking you, watching you in your room." Emmett added.
"You never told me this." Bella looked at Edward confused.
"I was going to trust me, but Renesmee got there before I could. I'll explain later."
"Phil travels a lot. He plays ball for a living." I half-smiled.
"Have I heard of him?" he asked, smiling in response. "Probably not. He doesn't play well. Strictly minor league. He moves around a lot."
"And your mother sent you here so that she could travel with him." He said it as an
assumption again, not a question.
"Jeez Edward do you ever learn? I thought you were a stupid know-it-all, but now I think you just dumb." Emmett muttered.
"Says the guy who thought elephants were purple and pink. Since they weren't you wanted to paint them that." Edward cackled laughing like crazy, his whole body shaking. He almost fell to the ground again.
My chin raised a fraction." No, she did not send me here. I sent myself." His eyebrows knit together. "I don't understand," he admitted, and he seemed unnecessarily frustrated by that fact.
I sighed. Why was I explaining this to him? He continued to stare at me with obvious curiosity. "She stayed with me at first, but she missed him. It made her unhappy… so I decided it was time to spend some quality time with Charlie." My voice was glum by the time I finished.
"But now you're unhappy," he pointed out. "And?" I challenged.
"That doesn't seem fair." He shrugged, but his eyes were still intense. I laughed without humor. "Hasn't anyone ever told you? Life isn't fair."
"I believe I have heard that somewhere before," he agreed dryly.
"So that's all," I insisted, wondering why he was still staring at me that way. His gaze became appraising. "You put on a good show," he said slowly. "But I'd be
willing to bet that you're suffering more than you let anyone see."
I grimaced at him, resisting the impulse to stick out my tongue like a five-year-old,
and looked away.
"Am I wrong? "I tried to ignore him.
"I didn't think so," he murmured smugly.
"Stupid smug vampire who knows everything." Emmett said still aggravated.
Edward just eyed him, and smirked.
As if to say, Do you really want to go there?
Rosalie who weirdly was watching them rolled her eyes. "Oh stop it you two. You can argue, and wrestle later."
"Why does it matter to you?" I asked, irritated. I kept my eyes away, watching the
teacher make his rounds.
"That's a very good question," he muttered, so quietly that I wondered if he was talking to himself. However, after a few seconds of silence, I decided that was the only answer I was going to get.
I sighed, scowling at the blackboard. "Am I annoying you?" he asked. He sounded amused.
I glanced at him without thinking… and told the truth again." Not exactly. I'm more annoyed at myself. My face is so easy to read — my mother always calls me her open book."
"Title of the chapter!" Esme said lightly.
Everyone stared at her, they couldn't believe she had spoken, or what she had spoken.
She waved her hand and looked at them in confusion. "What? Everyone is always interrupting, I thought I should say something."
"Go grandma!" Renesmee shouted. Now everyone was staring at her.
"On the contrary, I find you very difficult to read." Despite everything that I'd said and he'd guessed, he sounded like he meant it.
"You must be a good reader then," I replied. "Usually." He smiled widely, flashing a set of perfect, ultra white teeth.
"Why were you trying to scare her?" Rosalie asked for the first time in like… ever.
Edward looked at her shocked, but recovered, half ready to hear her add a quick remark. "Because I was interested by her, but didn't want to get her involved. That's how it's always been."
Rosalie didn't say anything, but she was thinking hard. She just nodded and half smiled at her brother.
Mr. Banner called the class to order then, and I turned with relief to listen. I was in
disbelief that I'd just explained my dreary life to this bizarre, beautiful boy who may or may not despise me. He'd seemed engrossed in our conversation, but now I could see, from the corner of my eye, that he was leaning away from me again, his hands gripping the edge of the table with unmistakable tension.
I tried to appear attentive as Mr. Banner illustrated, with transparencies on the overhead projector, what I had seen without difficulty through the microscope. But my thoughts were unmanageable.
When the bell finally rang, Edward rushed as swiftly and as gracefully from the room as he had last Monday. And, like last Monday, I stared after him in amazement. Mike skipped quickly to my side and picked up my books for me. I imagined him with a wagging tail.
"That was awful," he groaned. "They all looked exactly the same. You're lucky you had Cullen for a partner."
"You're lucky I don't kill you. Though you luck is running thin, real thin Newton." Edward spoke as if Newton was actually there.
"I didn't have any trouble with it," I said, stung by his assumption.
"See dad?" Renesmee asked nudging him.
"Yeah, stupid Mike Newton too." Edward laughed, and kissed Bella's cheek.
I regretted the snub instantly. "I've done the lab before, though," I added before he could get his feelings hurt.
"Cullen seemed friendly enough today," he commented as we shrugged into our raincoats. He didn't seem pleased about it. I tried to sound indifferent. "I wonder what was with him last Monday."
"Your face, that's what was with him!" Renesmee shot out.
"Renesmee are you okay?" Carlisle asked concerned.
"Yeah, Newton is just worse than Dad said."
"Well that's hard to believe. Edward blows everything out of proportion." Bella sighed
"I agree, I do sometime do that, plus with Newton..." Edward growled letting the sentence hang.
I couldn't concentrate on Mike's chatter as we walked to Gym, and PE Didn't do much to hold my attention, either. Mike was on my team today. He chivalrously covered my position as well as his own, so my woolgathering was only interrupted when it was my turn to serve; my team ducked warily out of the way every time I was up.
The rain was just a mist as I walked to the parking lot, but I was happier when I was in the dry cab. I got the heater running, for once not caring about the mind-numbing roar of the engine. I unzipped my jacket, put the hood down, and fluffed my damp hair out so the heater could dry it on the way home.
I looked around me to make sure it was clear. That's when I noticed the still, white
figure. Edward Cullen was leaning against the front door of the Volvo, three cars down from me, and staring intently in my direction. I swiftly looked away and threw the truck into reverse, almost hitting a rusty Toyota Corolla in my haste. Lucky for the Toyota, I stomped on the brake in time. It was just the sort of car that my truck would make scrap metal of.
"You know that was hilarious."
I took a deep breath, still looking out the other side of my car, and cautiously pulled out again, with greater success. I stared straight ahead as I passed the Volvo, but from a peripheral peek, I would swear I saw him laughing.
"Alright, I'm finished, thank god that's over with. How many times did someone hit me, nudge me, or wave their hand at me to get me to continue?" Jasper sighed as he sat back down into the couch.
"Give me the book now. It's my turn." Alice huffed reaching out her hand.
"Bella?" Edward called, looking down at her.
"Yes Edward?" she replied smiling at him.
He paused for a second, before shaking his head.
"Never mind, um, it's nothing, don't worry." Edward smiled quickly and looked up at Alice.
She did not miss their conversation, and stared at Edward, sending him a silent message.
"Okay, here goes. Chapter 3 Phenomenon."