Chapter 1, revised
I do not own Twilight.
There are only three things in my life that I rank as important: dance, school, and…well, I'll get to the last one in a bit.
I've been dancing since I was three years old, and I'm eighteen in a week. Fifteen years of listening to the same two dance instructors telling to bend my knees more, raise my arms higher, and try to jump farther. Fifteen years of arabesques and pirouettes, and plies and grand jetés. But I love it. My instructor can be very tough, sometimes bordering on abusive in my opinion, but it's all worth it. I love to dance, and I know I'm good at it.
But I'm not as good as Edward Cullen. And so now I introduce the last thing I consider important. We've been dancing together since we were both kids, my family knows his family blah, blah, blah… But my God can that boy dance. Of course we laughed at each other growing up because he looked ridiculous in his leotards he had to wear for performances. And he would dish it back at me for my tutus.
But we've grown apart in the past few years. I formed my circle of friends and he formed his in high school. We've had classes together here and there and sometimes we'd see each other at the same lunch period, but we didn't sit together. Lately the only time I'd ever see him was during dance class. And that just wasn't enough for me. Edward was no longer this lanky little boy with two left feet who cried every time someone told he was going to have to perform on stage. Now he was the most talented dancer in our class. No one else could jump like he could. No one else could spin quite as fast.
But most importantly, no one else looked the way Edward Cullen did. He was beautiful. The young boy with a baby face and short, brownish hair had grown tall, filled out, and his hair had become a beautiful bronze color that accentuated his impossible green eyes. His face had thinned as he grew into his body. His cheekbones were sharp and his jaw strong. He had the longest eyelashes I had ever seen on a man. I blushed every time I thought of his perfect lips, the bottom one full and just slightly pouty, begging to be kissed.
Sadly for me though, Edward Cullen was way out of my league. At least according to all of the other girls in the school. Even the cheerleaders, who swore never to date anyone but the star football players, threw themselves all over Edward Cullen. He was the most beautiful boy in the whole school.
And I was the nerdiest, clumsiest, and plainest girl. I didn't stand a chance against all the perfectly toned, in both skin and muscle, girls that flitted around me day to day going on and on about their next tanning session.
Um, hello we live in Phoenix, Arizona. The Valley of the Sun, you don't need to go to tanning salons. Of course, I'm not one to talk. If there were a photo given in the yearbook for palest girl I would win hands down. But then Edward would win palest boy.
No, he would win everything.
He is everything.
I've spent all summer fantasizing about Edward Cullen, reminiscing about all of our younger days together when how many friends you had or how many varsity teams you were on didn't matter. When the best thing to happen to you was getting the ice cream truck to stop outside your house and have everyone on the block run over and thank you.
I spent three months trying to come up with a plan for this year to make my mark in my graduating class. For the last three years I've practically been a ghost. No one looked twice at me, and the only people I ever hung out with were my best friends Angela and Alice, who were also social outcasts like me.
Angela was the geek, with her glasses and her hair always pulled back in a ponytail as she wandered the halls posting signs for weekly meetings for the newspaper and yearbook.
Alice was seen as just weird. Even though she had the best fashion sense of any girl in our class, and the school, her uncanny ability to predict things set her apart from any potential clique and earned her a reputation for being a freak.
I was the lonely one, and the third wheel most of the time. Both Angela and Alice had steady, loyal boyfriends who were willing to dote on them whenever they could. When we all went out in a big group I was the only single girl. However, unlike some groups I see, my friends don't shove their boyfriends in my face and nag me about when I'm going to get one. And I appreciate that, because I know whom I want.
Even though I may never have him.
September has fallen on us once more. The final year of high school has begun and I cannot wait for it to end. It's nearly two weeks in and I still have yet to unleash my nonexistent plan for getting myself noticed once and for all. I don't want to live in the spotlight like most girls here, but I also don't want to go down in the yearbook as the girl no one remembers.
"Bella, quit your day dreaming and get a move on or we'll be late for first period!" Alice yelled from the front door of the school.
I looked over to her from where I had been staring at the clouds contemplating how lousy I felt today. I gathered my notebook and the latest novel I was reading and headed for the door, tripping and spilling everything in my arms onto the cement sidewalk. I cursed out loud as I realized I had ripped the knee of my favorite white leggings and gotten dirt on the other knee. "Shit," I cursed again when I saw I was bleeding as well. I left my books where they lay in the dirt and started digging around in my backpack for a tissue and a BandAid. Of course I only had a tissue. I never have what I really need, even though by now you'd think I would've learned to carry them.
"Fall down again?" I heard someone laugh above me. I was about to turn and curse the person out when I found myself staring into the green eyes I had dreamed of all summer long. "Um…yeah, typical clumsy me." I laughed back.
"Oh, you're bleeding. I think I have something." Edward rushed out as he crouched down next to me and started digging through the front pocket of his backpack. I held the tissue I had found to my knee and reached for the one book that was closest, trying to not look in his eyes. I didn't need to make my embarrassment worse. "Ah ha, knew I had one." Edward smiled triumphantly at me, his face even more breathtaking in its beauty as it was lit up by his smile.
The bell for first period rang inside the school, but Edward appeared to be in no hurry as he peeled open the BandAid and stuck it to my knee. "Thanks," I still didn't look in his eyes as he helped me gather the rest of my books. He even loaded them into my bag for me and offered to carry it.
"No, you don't have to. I'm ok now."
"Ed, let's go!" We both looked up to see Emmett McCarty walking past us as he clapped Edward on the shoulder. He didn't even see me.
"See you later, Bella." Edward smiled at me wistfully as Emmett dragged him toward the school.
"Bye," I said to no one but myself. My cell phone buzzed in my bag and I pulled it out to see a text from Alice cursing me for not being in class yet. She tacked on a little threat at the end that I laughed at. We had to give a presentation today on Beowulf in English and since I was the only one of the two of us to read it, I really needed to get inside.
Of course our presentation was flawless. We had chosen to write our own version of the battle with the dragon, illustrated with a diorama that Alice put together while I wrote the short story. We had our classmates laughing the entire time to Alice's witty jokes and comments that she added as I read, that also being part of our presentation, although me not being able to breathe since I was laughing so hard with everyone else was not. I was satisfied with the quiet applause at the end and we left our project on the teacher's desk as we sat back down.
I didn't see either of my two friends again until lunch and we grabbed our usual table in the corner by the back door in case we wanted to make an escape and sit outside in the shade. Alice, the wonderful friend that she is had provided me with new leggings from her locker the moment I walked into English class with my ripped ones. She made some excuse about leaving her notes for our presentation in her locker and made a mad dash down the hall returning with a folder, and inside a new pair of white leggings. I didn't even bother to ask why she kept packaged leggings in her locker, but took them gratefully and left with three other girls to go to the bathroom when our teacher gave us leave before all the projects were presented.
"Should I even ask why they ripped?" Angela asked with a teasing tone as Alice told her the story from this morning.
"I fell down," I stated simply, taking a huge bite of my salad. I was starving and I had become a strict vegetarian last January when my place in my dance class was threatened by a little weight gain. It's not like I'm trying to get into Julliard, but dancing is a very important part of my life and I won't give it up for anything.
"Any protein today or is it just straight leaves again?" Alice cocked a perfect eyebrow at me.
"I have carrots in here, does that count?"
"No," she and Angela answered together. I just shrugged my shoulders and went back to my vegetables.
"You want to do something this afternoon?" Angela asked as we walked out the doors at the end of the day. Alice nodded enthusiastically. I declined explaining that today was a dance day. I was secretly jumping up and down inside because it also meant today I would see more of Edward. I never mentioned to Angela or Alice about our little interlude this morning. I wanted to keep this close to the chest. I love my two girlfriends, but this time I didn't need them getting involved. They may know I have a crush, but they don't know how deep it really goes. How much I truly admire him for his grace and his talent. Something I wish I had.
After saying goodbye to my friends I climbed up into the cab of my beat up old Chevy pickup and headed home to change and hydrate. My mother greeted me at the door with the same smile she had for me everyday, asking me if I was hungry. I explained to her as I did Alice and Angela that I had dance class today and she nodded her head knowingly. I took a minute to brush my teeth and sweep my hair back into a tight ponytail before changing into my tights and leotard, grabbing my slippers and leg warmers on the way out. In my opinion the air conditioning was always up way too high in the studio no matter what month we were in. I called out a goodbye to my mother before shutting the door. The dance studio that I now called my second home was only a couple blocks from my house and I typically walked there, for both the exercise and the fresh air.
But today I noticed a shiny silver Volvo driving alongside me as I walked along the sidewalk. "Want a ride?" I heard a very familiar voice ask. I whipped my head to the side and saw Edward Cullen smiling at me from the driver's seat of the Volvo.
"You mean me?" I asked back, pointing a finger into my own chest. I kept walking as he kept following.
"I don't see anyone else around and I assume you're heading in the same direction as me judging from the leggings and the fact that you and I have been in the same dance class since before preschool…" He left the sentence hanging. I did my best to hide the smile that was threatening to stretch from ear to ear and stopped walking.
"And what do I owe for this invitation?" I called out in question, turning to face him. Edward hit the brake and held my gaze.
"Nothing, except that I don't think you can make it to the studio without falling down again today." He smiled teasingly and I had to admit to myself that he had a point, but it didn't mean I would fall down. I sighed to myself and walked over to his car.
"Are you mocking me?" I challenged, my arms crossed over my chest.
"Not a bit." Edward said seriously, although his expression wasn't exactly straight. He burst out laughing, and the bright smile on his face was so infectious I couldn't help but join him. "Come on, I'll even give you a ride home."
"Ok," I sighed in defeat. Edward reached over the passenger seat and opened the door for me. "Thanks," I muttered, feeling a touch of heat in my cheeks as I fastened my belt.
"For the door or the ride?" Edward asked once we started moving again.
"Both, now that you've said that."
"Any time, Bella." I don't know what it was but something in Edward's voice made me look up at him. He simply offered me a crooked smile as he pulled into the parking lot of the dance studio.
"Thanks again," I muttered as I got out of the car. I felt suddenly so embarrassed and I had no idea why. It wasn't like Edward was my boyfriend. But I knew I would be lying to myself if I didn't admit that part of me wanted him to be. We walked in together, and I tried to pretend that we had just met up in the parking lot, but Edward was sticking close to my side and I knew some of the girls were going to notice.
Once inside the actual studio, I pulled my skirt out and tied it around my waist before taking a spot at the warm up bar so I could stretch a little. I had just started to practice the new moves we had learned last class when our instructor walked and called everyone to their positions. We continued work from the previous class, since we had our fall recital coming up in a few weeks, and then took a short break. I stood at the bar in front of the mirror, stretching, twisting and turning my body in different directions seeing how flexible I was. But I was also checking to make sure my stomach wasn't sticking out and my thighs weren't touching.
For the second half of class Miss Charlotte had us choose music for our winter recital and we listened to a couple holiday CDs while we danced around freestyle to them to see if anyone could come up with a routine that worked. At the end of class Miss Charlotte quickly announced potential ideas for the spring dances, and next year she was considering doing a full ballet since she deemed some of us ready for that. Among her ideas was one that caught my attention, since it had always been a favorite novel of mine: Dracula.
But in the spring? Wouldn't it have served better for Halloween? It was too late now, and I wondered why she wasn't saving it for next fall. But I didn't question her judgment, and she explained to us all that over the next few months we would try out pieces from several of the different ballets she had in mind to see what everyone enjoyed best and then we would vote on it after the winter recital. I hoped fervently that we did Dracula, I would have been thrilled to even get a spot in the chorus. I have seen several interpretations of the wonderful book and I always dreamed of someday dancing it.
When I got home I marked my calendar for the day we would vote on the spring ballet and then counted down the days, eager to mark off each one as they passed. Just for fun, I dug out my copy of the novel and began to eagerly read it all over again. I had almost forgotten about dinner until my mother called me from down the hall. Tonight she had made fish and I took a small portion of it while I loaded the rest of my plate with the salad she had prepared.
"Bella, please take more of the catfish, you need more protein in your diet or you're going to get sick." Renee, my mother, chided me.
"Mom, you know I can't."
"Yes you can, and stop it. Fish is not bad for you, you're not going to gain five pounds by eating it." To drive her point home she took a half fillet and placed it on my plate. "Please eat, Bella."
"Fine," I sighed heavily, and resigned myself to my mother's influence, at least for tonight. I disallowed her from packing my lunches because I knew if she could have her way she would be packing me sandwiches and not the salads I needed to be eating.
"Do you want any more?" she asked when I got up to clear my plate.
"No, I'm good. Save it and maybe I'll take some for lunch tomorrow." Lie.
I washed my plate off in the sink and stuck it in the dishwasher before retreating back to my room. I could still hear my mom and her new husband, my stepfather, Phil, talking at the table and I swear I heard my name. I was tempted to go back out there and see what they were talking about, but I couldn't find it in me to care enough. So I curled back up with Dracula for another hour before getting started on my homework for the night. It was almost eleven when I finally decided to go to bed, my stomach grumbling in hunger. I wasn't tired, but I knew I needed to sleep, and my usual routine was to go sit out in the living room and watch TV until I passed out. So I grabbed my phone and made sure the alarm was set on it, and my favorite pillow and went to make my usual camp on the couch for the night.