Stephanie Meyer created the Twiverse and owns all the characters. I'm just here to play. :)
Thank you for giving my first Twific story a go. If you'd like to read some recs/reviews for Once Bitten written by other authors, I have posted them on my profile page.
A huge thank you to Project Team Beta for accepting my story, introducing me to my wonderful Betas, and helping me to find the courage I needed to put myself, and my story, out there.
Thank you to my Betas, SqueakyZorro and ChloeCougar, who beta'ed this chapter and then both requested to stay with me for the rest of the ride.
I have tweaked the 'Twiverse' a little to make things work in my slightly alternative universe as follows:
* Bella kept visiting Charlie each summer.
* Bella and Jake are best friends.
* Jake has already made the transformation to wolf.
There are a few other 'tweaks' ahead—namely some amped up powers for the lovely Bella Vamp—but first things first...
Posted: June 3rd 2011
Silver and Gold
Jake and I sat watching the waves roll in at La Push beach, our legs hanging over the tailgate of my old red truck. I huddled against him to ward off the biting cold, as grey skies threatened rain at any moment. For once I didn't care about the miserable weather, just happy to be with my best friend again after months apart.
"So...first day at Forks High tomorrow, bet you're looking forward to that." Jake smirked.
Sighing, I tucked my hair behind my ear to anchor it against the tugging wind.
"Huh...thanks for the reminder," I muttered.
Not only would I be the new girl, I was starting in the second half of the school year...not an ideal situation. Being the focus of attention was one of my least favorite things, along with rain, snow…pretty much anything cold and wet. My new hometown, with its towering, dripping greenery and almost constant cloud cover, might not have been hell on earth, but it was definitely circling the perimeter.
"No chance they'll let you transfer from the res school?" I asked wistfully, thinking how nice it would be to have even one friend at my new school, not that we would have been in the same grade. Jake was a year younger than me, though you'd never have guessed by looking at him. Since the last time I'd seen him, he'd turned from an average looking teenage boy into a six-foot-six-inch mountain of pure muscle. He swore he wasn't doing steroids, but his extreme growth spurt had me seriously worried.
"You know I'd come to school with you if I could." Jake looked uncomfortable at my request and shrugged his massive shoulders, almost knocking me sideways.
"Yeah, yeah. 'Quileutes stay on the res.'" I grumbled. "Honestly, they've got you on such a tight leash, it's a wonder we're still allowed to be friends." Normally Jake would have been waiting at my house when I arrived in Forks for my yearly visit with my dad. But this time I'd had to call to arrange for us to get together, and he'd sounded hesitant, stunning me by saying he'd have to check to see if he wa allowed.
The muscles in his Jake's jaw clenched tightly at my words, reminding me that it wasn't just his appearance that had changed since last summer. I wasn't quite sure what had happened to my happy-go-lucky best friend, but his easy, relaxed personality was now overlaid by a persistent aura of tension. And then there was his much shorter fuse, which I'd seen evidence of twice already in the few hours we'd been together. I blamed his new 'friends.'
Last summer he'd been convinced that some of the young guys from the reservation were being led astray by Sam Uley, a Quilleute leader in the making. Now Jacob was a bona fide member of Sam's gang and insisted that he was a great guy.
Personally, I wasn't convinced.
"There's something I need to warn you about before you go to school tomorrow." Jake interrupted my troubled thoughts.
I frowned at his tone. "Warn me?"
"Yeah, this is serious," he continued, sounding an awful lot like my father Charlie, the local Chief of Police. "There are some students who go to Forks High that you need to stay away from. They're dangerous."
"Dangerous...how?" I said, raising my eyebrows.
"Trust me, Bella, you don't want to know. Just stay away from these guys. I don't want you having anything to do with them."
I stared at him, my thoughts scrambling. It wasn't like Jake to be judgmental, not without a very good reason. But I hoped he wasn't telling me who I could and couldn't be friends with.
"You're kidding right?" I frowned.
"No, I'm not joking, Bells. They're dangerous...more dangerous than you can imagine. You can't tell by looking at them; in fact they look sort of appealing." He grimaced.
"You're worried about good-looking bad guys masquerading as school students?" I tried laughing off his bizarre warning. His fierce expression didn't lighten, and I wondered if he could be jealous because these guys were attractive. But I dismissed the thought as soon as it formed. Jake was kind of...beautiful, especially since he'd filled out and developed such amazing muscles. It was how he'd developed those muscles so quickly that had me worried, and I couldn't resist asking, "So what… they're the local drug dealers? Is that how you know them?"
"I told you I'm not doing drugs!" he yelled, grabbing my arms and giving me a rough shake. Stunned, it took me a second to react.
"Ouch...Jake!" I cried out, more from shock than pain though it did hurt. He let go immediately, his breath coming in short gasps.
"They're not drug dealers, they're worse than that...way worse."
I stared, dismayed at Jake's outburst. I was sure he hadn't meant to hurt me, but I hoped I didn't bruise. If Charlie found out, he would never understand.
Jake's words finally registered, and I wondered what could be worse than drug dealers. Gun runners? The mafia? If Forks had a major crime problem, I was fairly certain my dad would have mentioned it.
"Umm...I can handle the local gangs," I murmured, feeling a little dazed. "Forks High has got what...three hundred kids? There were more than twice that many in my grade back in Phoenix."
I hoped my words would mollify Jake's concerns, but they didn't. Jumping down from the back of the truck, he stood towering over me, his fists clenched at his sides.
"Just don't let them fool you, Bella!" he practically growled. "Keep your eyes open for the ones who look like they don't belong and stay the hell away from them!"
My mouth dropped open. Jake had been my best friend for a long time, and I'd never seen him like this. Angry and more than a little afraid, I clamored down from the back of the truck—rolling my ankle in the process...naturally—but needing to get away. Pushing past him, I limped toward the cab of my truck.
I couldn't believe this was happening. We hadn't even had a serious argument before.
"Hey, Bells, I'm sorry. Please don't be angry with me," he pleaded, changing his tone as he sprinted past me to block the truck door. "I didn't really hurt you, did I? I just don't know my own strength lately."
I shook my head, not wanting to leave things like this but not sure how to respond to this new, agro, unpredictable Jake. He must be using steroids. I couldn't think of any other excuse for his massive growth, crazy mood swings, and scary new temper.
"I need you to understand, but I can't explain and it's killing me!" he cried when I didn't answer, running his hands through his newly short-cropped black hair…the hair I'd always loved long, but that he'd cut off to be like the other guys in Sam's gang.
"I'd understand if you told me what was really going on," I pleaded, staring up into his dark, pain-filled eyes. For a moment he looked like he was going to confide in me, but then his jaw tensed and he turned away. Following the direction of his gaze, I saw Sam and the others waiting for him on the edge of the forest...shirtless as usual despite the freezing cold. Jake nodded to them, his expression resigned.
"Gotta go, Bells. Sorry I upset you. I just couldn't stand it if anything happened to you."
I reached out to touch his arm, not wanting us to part on bad terms despite his strange and frightening behavior. It wasn't normal for him. Neither was the temperature of his skin which was much warmer than it should have been—something else he couldn't, or wouldn't, explain—and I wished I knew what sort of hold Sam had over him. I was trying to be patient, but my hopes that Jake would open up and tell me what was really going on were waning.
"So, I'll see you after school tomorrow?" I called as he began to walk away. He was still my best friend, and I wouldn't give up on him easily. "You can help me celebrate surviving my first day."
Jake spun back to face me, his expression livid.
"Don't even joke, Bella or so help me, treaty or no treaty, I'll rip that damn school apart!"
I stepped back, stunned. Jake's moods weren't just mercurial...they were terrifying.
Did Billy know there was something seriously wrong with his son?
I'd have to tell Charlie and hope he could do something to help...that's if Billy was willing to listen. On top of everything else, Jake's and my dad had fallen out since last summer.
"I'm sorry Bella, I really have to go." Jacob's whole body shook as he spoke. "Please…promise me you'll stay safe?"
"I promise. I'll be fine."
He nodded then turned towards the tree line, ripping his shirt off as he broke into a run. Feeling helpless and confused, I watched him disappear into the forest.
"You okay, Bells?"
Not much got past Charlie, though my stomping around the kitchen and banging plates down on the counter probably helped him work out that something was wrong. I'd gone straight up to my room as soon as I arrived home to check my arms, and they were bruised, with distinctive finger marks ringing both upper arms—finger marks!
Charlie would freak if he found out.
"Problems with you and Jake," Charlie persisted and I looked up, startled. A lot of the time he seemed a bit oblivious, but sometimes it was like he could read my mind.
"Yeah." I shrugged, not wanting to give too much away. "He's just not the same."
"The muscles? The moodiness?"
"So, you've seen it too?" I was relieved I wouldn't have to go into detail. The less I said, the less likely it was that Charlie would guess what had happened. "Have you tried talking to Billy about it?" I risked asking.
"Yep," he said, popping the 'p.' "Fat lot of good it did me. I was told, and in no uncertain terms, to 'mind my own business.'"
"Oh, Dad. I'm sorry," I murmured, sadly. "What's with you guys? I thought you'd be friends forever?"
"It's the new town doctor," Charlie grumbled. "Billy and the others are being totally unreasonable about him and his family. Carlisle Cullen is a world-class surgeon…could work anywhere he wants. The people of Forks should be grateful he chose to move here, and they are...all except for the elders. Some folks were worried when we found out he and his wife have five foster children, but we've had no problems from them at all—which is more than I can say for some of the local kids."
Five foster children? I didn't know what to make of that...or Jacob's warning. Putting the clues together, it wasn't difficult to guess who the 'dangerous but strangely appealing' students were that he wanted me to avoid. But it didn't make sense. With having lost his mom so tragically, I'd have thought Jake would be sympathetic to a bunch of disadvantaged kids. It did sound like they'd landed on their feet, being taken in by a wealthy surgeonand his wife, and I wondered if he could be jealous. That seemed just as out of character as his recent outbursts, but I was beginning to question whether I knew Jake as well as I thought I did. A few weeks together every summer left a lot of time unaccounted for.
Sighing despondently, I watched the Forks High School sign come into view. My concern for Jacob had distracted me from my new-girl woes…but only temporarily. As I pulled into the crowded parking lot of Forks High, I took note of the smaller, newer-looking cars filling the spaces.
"Don't hate the truck," I muttered when I saw the kids staring at my old red Chevy, a very welcome gift from Charlie. I grabbed my bag and climbed down from the worn vinyl bench seat, closing the heavy door with a bang that seemed to echo around the parking lot. Not exactly the inconspicuous entrance I was hoping for.
Ducking my head, I hid behind my hair, making sure to leave enough of a gap to see the ground in front of me. Falling flat on my face before I'd made it inside was not on the agenda for surviving my first day. But I'd barely passed through the entrance when a number of boys stopped me and introduced themselves. They seemed…interested, and I concluded that a new student at Forks High was clearly an event.
The attention was unexpected, but it could have been worse…at least they were friendly. Charlie would have said a little too friendly. In Phoenix I'd been almost invisible, my pale skin and petite frame setting me apart from my bronzed and curvy classmates—and not in a good way. But by lunch time, when I took a seat with Eric, Tyler, and Mike, I felt like a shiny new toy with them all vying for my attention. I hoped it wouldn't cause problems with the girls in their group, as I was keen to make some new friends…girlfriends. When the boys introduced me to Jessica, who reminded me a little too much of some of the bitchier girls back home, I realized I might have trouble. But Angela, with her sweet smile and friendly manner seemed very nice, and I quickly marked her as a potential friend.
We'd been chatting for a while, just getting to know one another, when a murmur of sound rippled through the cafeteria. I looked up to see what had caused the stir and saw two couples enter and cross to a vacant table by the windows: a muscular guy with dark curly hair and a beautiful blonde girl who walked with the assurance of a catwalk model, followed by a blond-haired guy with movie star good looks holding hands with a very pretty brunette. The pixie-like girl danced around him, her eyes alight as he watched her intently.
My mouth dropped open and I stared...which was a bit hypocritical, considering how much I disliked being ogled. But the foursome would have looked more at home at a supermodel convention than a small town high school. Coming to my senses, I quickly averted my gaze while Jessica and Angela told me the new students' names and surprising romantic connections. They were 'The Cullens' and Jake was right about one thing...they didn't fit in, though I'd thought Charlie had said there were five of them.
Then the fifth Cullen walked in, and the bottom dropped out of my stomach. I'd never seen such a beautiful boy before in all my life.
"That's Edward Cullen…but don't get any ideas; he doesn't date local girls. Apparently we're not good enough for him," Jessica sniped. Edward smirked, but it must have been a coincidence; he couldn't possibly have heard her over the noise of the cafeteria.
"Of course, I wasn't thinking that…" I trailed off when he glanced my way.
Edward Cullen had the darkest eyes and most intense gaze I'd ever seen, along with perfect, well, everything. From his radiantly pale skin, facial features that looked like they'd been sculptured by a Renaissance master, tall, broad-shouldered physique, and crazily tousled, copper-glinted hair...his beauty was beyond anything I'd ever seen—or imagined. And he was looking straight at me!
He seemed to hesitate—his step faltering—though he righted himself so quickly I almost didn't catch it. I stared unabashedly as he strode briskly across the room, moving with the fluid grace of a wild animal. Joining his siblings, he threw himself down in a chair before turning to stare back at me...again! Stunned, I ducked my head, peeking up through my hair a few moments later to find him still watching me.
You'd think someone who'd been in foster care would know how uncomfortable it was to be the new kid at school. At least I'd stopped looking when I was caught…sort of.
"Wow...Edward's really staring at you," Angela murmured, and I risked another glance, only to be met...once again...by his intense gaze.
What was his problem?
"I think he likes you, Bella," she whispered. My cheeks flamed and I quickly dropped my head down onto my folded arms.
Angela's words made no sense. Edward and his foster siblings were...gods. I could barely comprehend the ordinary boys finding me attractive, but someone like Edward? Not a chance.
Jessica obviously agreed, for she snorted at Angela's suggestion. Irritated and embarrassed, I lifted my head and stared back at him, my expression fierce.
"What's with pretty boy? Hasn't anyone ever told him it's rude to stare?" I grumbled beneath my breath. His eyes widened and his mouth dropped open, while his foster siblings all burst out laughing. It was as if they'd heard me—which was impossible, of course. Now I was just being paranoid.
I ignored him for the rest of lunch, though I swore I felt his eyes boring into the back of my head the whole time. When the bell rang, I stood with the others but couldn't resist one last glance to where Edward sat. I was right…he was still staring, a deep scowl furrowing his wide, perfect brow. My stomach tightened, and I felt a shudder ripple through me. He really was the most beautiful looking human being I'd ever seen.
As the thought crossed my mind my heart leaped wildly in my chest. It didn't hurt, but I put my hand to my chest, unsettled by the strange sensation. When I looked up, Edward had covered most of the distance between us, his brothers right behind him, holding his arms. I had no idea how they'd moved so fast.
I'd give Jacob some credit. The Cullens sure were different.
"Are you coming, Bella?" the boy called Mike asked, and I nodded slowly, turning to follow him from the cafeteria. He'd offered to show me to my next class, though I made an excuse to stop at my locker on the way. I felt so strange—different somehow—and needed a moment to catch my breath. When I finally made sense of my jumbled emotions, I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry.
I had a crush on a boy!
It had never happened to me before; in fact I'd begun to wonder if it ever would. It really was an amazing feeling, as if a swarm of butterflies had taken up residence in my stomach while a crystal clear image of the beautifully appealing Edward Cullen felt permanently engraved on my brain.
I leaned my head against my locker and stifled a groan. The feelings had come on so fast and so hard…they were overwhelming. This wasn't like me. I was sensible, practical, level-headed, and most definitely not prone to flights of fancy, which was all this could ever be…a ridiculous fantasy.
There was not the tiniest chance in the known universe that a boy like Edward Cullen could ever be interested in a girl like me.
I hoped you enjoyed the introduction.
Next chapter: Edward and the slow-mo walk across the cafeteria. Swoon... Oh, and another tweak: Edward's reaction to seeing Bella for the first time...not exactly canon. ;)
Reviews will be read and reread and probably reread again. :D