Letters from a faraway land

Ch.1

"Excuse me, do you know where the cafeteria is?"

I look up from the sight of my scuffed converse shoes at the sound of the velvety soft, slightly trembling, but oh-so-deep voice, only to face the most amazing pair of sparkling green eyes, hidden beneath a wild head of penny-colored hair and a pair of black-rimmed glasses. The bottom of my stomach goes out, and I am lost in those eyes for what seems like hours. Shit, he asked me something, didn't he? I try to regain my senses and remember his question.

"Sure, if you'll follow me? I was just heading in that direction anyway."

"Thanks – my name is Edward, by the way"

"Bella", I reply – he is the first person I've talked to since coming to U-dub almost a week ago, if you disregard the barista at Starbucks and the lady at the cash register in Wal-Mart. Pathetic little me, running as fast as I could away from Forks, my dad, and the memories of Jasper – and now I find myself in a strange campus, in a strange, big city, where I don't know a soul.

He is all sorts of beautiful, this young man next to me. Not only his eyes, his unusual hair, his 'geek-glasses' (oh, did I have a soft spot for geeks) and his black converse shoes. No, he has a tall, lean build, but with clear muscle definition – yeah, I peeked! So what? He towers over me being at least 6'3'' over my 5'4'', but not in a threatening way. I clearly get the vibe that he is just as much of a lost soul as I am. Equally quiet, but in a comfortable, non-committing way, as if he would give you all the answers, if you would just ask the right questions. He seems to be my age – around 18 or 19. Either a freshman or a sophomore, but I lean towards freshman, since he has to ask directions around campus. He intrigues me, this one. He is clearly at ease with himself, even if he is a stranger in a strange town. He seems timid, but on the other hand, he isn't afraid to approach a total stranger (even though I am petite – how much damage could I do?), though he seems to be hiding beneath his glasses, his slightly slumped shoulders and his quietness as well as the tremor in his voice, when he approached me. I wonder all sorts of things about him; does he have a girlfriend? Did he just move here? What is he studying? What dorm does he live in? Would he like to have lunch with me?

"Sure, thanks for asking!"

Wait, did I say that out loud? I immediately turn beet red – I can feel it building from my chest to the tips of my ears – oh shit, I don't ask strangers to eat with me! That's not me – shy, timid, beet-red-Bella… But maybe he is just being nice – yeah, that's it. I was kind enough to show him to the cafeteria, so he is just being polite, and since he doesn't know anyone here, and all…

"Why are you blushing? Although it's a lovely sight, there no need to be embarrassed. I would love to sit down and eat with a beautiful girl"

"Beautiful? Who's beautiful? And you don't have to – it just slipped out, sorry"

"I would like to – I just moved here yesterday, and I don't know anyone here yet –beside from you. I would love to get to know you." Now he is the one blushing. That makes me curious. What did this handsome boy have to blush about? But never the less, I am happy to get that little tidbit of information. I would really like to become friends with someone here, and Edward is really nice.

Soon we reach the cafeteria doors, and he opens the door for me, while guiding me inside with a timid hand on my lower back. I feel the heat of his hand through my thin, old band t-shirt – one of Jasper's that I'd swiped without him looking, when he was packing on his last day in his old room.

Jasper… Oh Jasper, how could you be so blind? Did you never realize that you were so much more to me than a best friend? That you always meant so much more than I lead you to believe? Even if I dated that vile Mike Newton – that was just because you dated Alice Brandon! I had to have someone, when you were so oblivious. And then, after the hell of a break-up you and Alice had, you decided to join the army, of all things! I cannot for the life of me understand why you had to be so dramatic. You said it yourself – you didn't even like her that much! She was just a willing body (mediocre at best) and a date for high school dances! Even if you didn't tell me about that until after the break-up. Figures. If I'd had known how little she meant to you, I would have…. Nah, I was and am too much of a wuss to do anything. Your friendship meant and still means too much to me to risk it by making unwanted advances.

And now I stand here, inside the cafeteria with the most gorgeous young man I've ever seen, waiting in line with a plastic tray. He's really cute, this Edward boy… I mean, really, REALLY cute. If Angela could see him, she would be giggling and bouncing in her seat – but alas, Angela is going to Colombia, so she's sitting in an airplane on her way to NYC right now. But I'll make sure to spill the beans when she has her Skype set up. Even Jasper's got nothing on Edward in the looks department – equally as tall and well-built, but with this geeky-gorgeous aura that just sucks you in, like gravity. Oh, that twinkle in his green eyes – it's killing me, even from a distance. After picking out the items he wants from the buffet and making sure that I take something for myself, he starts to pay. Frantically I stop him; "I can pay for my own food, thank you". He just looks at me, startled, and says "No way, consider it your guiding fee". I begrudgingly accept, and follow him to an empty table on the window side of the large cafeteria. He pulls out my chair for me – ever the gentleman, it seems, and I graciously accept. He chooses to sit across from me and starts to open his milk carton. He even uses a glass, instead of drinking directly from the small carton – his momma must have taught him well, I muse within myself. Picking up my pizza slice, I almost choke when I hear his soft voice asking me where I live.

"Uhm, Hagett Hall. I haven't got a roommate yet, but I'm sure she'll arrive soon enough", I answer. I sit for a second with my pizza halfway between my plate and my mouth, before I ask "You?"

"McMahon. My roommate arrived yesterday as well. He seems like a nice guy – not too rowdy. Yet... The rest of the cluster is half-filled, but I'm sure they will trickle in the rest of the week" he answers between two bites of mac n cheese.

"Cluster?" I ask, confusedly.

"Yeah, McMahon has a cluster system of rooms. Each 3 or 4 rooms share a bathroom and a common room, thus referred to as a cluster. At least, you only have to share the bathroom with maximum 7 others, as opposed to an entire floor"

Huh, I contemplate. Should have known that, when I applied for housing. On the other hand, I've gotten a free-ride scholarship, so I guess I should be happy that my college savings only will have to cover pocket money and food. "That sounds really nice".

"We'll see," he answers "I'm not much of a social butterfly, so I can only hope that it's going to be a decent group. I'm not into the whole 'party hard and fuck your way through college' thing, so I can only hope that I'm not going to end up with a bunch of jocks. That wouldn't be very conductive for concentrating on my studies"

Ooooh, could he get much more perfect? Beautiful, charming, a gentleman, not a man-whore, and serious about his studies! I wonder what he's going to study. Maybe we are going to share some classes! It would be really great to have a friendly face here.

"What are you studying?" I ask him, in the hope that we will at least share some classes.

"English lit." He answers.

After hearing that response, my jaw kind of drops. Which is not very charming, while you're eating pizza, I might add. "Really?" I manage to squeak out, while looking at him dumbfounded.

"Yep," he says "I've always wanted to be a writer, or perhaps a teacher, so it's the natural choice."

Well slap me silly, Sally – I guess he could get even more perfect. The probability of sharing classes just went up by a 100%. I might even get a study partner out of this.

"Me too; English lit that is. I've wanted to be an editor since I was a little girl, and somehow I always ended up editing essays for my friends in school. I love it. It's like being a midwife, without all the blood and gore"

He bursts out laughing at this, almost spraying me with milk. He laughs so hard he gets tears in his eyes and his ears go all red. I just sit there, wishing my stupid brain-filter wasn't broken. A midwife, what kind of analogy was that! And he keeps laughing, like it's the funniest thing he's ever heard. I slump down in my chair, cheeks burning with embarrassment and avert my eyes from the beautiful laughing boy in front of me.

"I'm sorry," he says between giggles, after he's quieted down some "you surprised me, is all. In my honest opinion it's really beautiful, the way you look at editing. A writer wouldn't live up to his or hers full potential without a great editor"

I feel my cheeks burning, while the corners of my mouth turn up by his sweet apology. He could get away with murder, if he unleashed that crooked smile. I can't stay mad at him, even if he embarrassed me terribly a moment ago. And I'd really like to get to know him better, in spite of him laughing at me.

We are both finished with our lunch and start to clear our trash from the table. As the gentleman he is, he takes my tray as well as his own, and again he guides me to the door with a gentle hand on my back. Outside the cafeteria doors, he stops and looks down on me with a brilliant smile and an indecipherable glint in those green eyes of his. I can't help but be consumed by his stare. There's something in the way he looks at me – a certain gentleness that comforts me, even if I don't even know his last name. There's something that tells me that this guy would never, ever hurt me – that he would do anything to make me feel comfortable and safe. I feel like I'm drowning in his eyes, but in a good way. - No, in a great way, actually. Butterflies start to swirl in my stomach and my throat goes dry. After an immeasurable amount of time; seconds, minutes or hours, I'm not sure; he clears his throat and looks down on his shoes. The tips of his ears are glowing and he has a faint blush on his high cheekbones.

"Thank you for showing me here and for eating lunch with me, Bella. I would really like it if I could see you again sometime?" he says, making it sound like a question.

Wait, was this like a date? Did I just have a lunch date without realizing it? I don't know how to respond, so I remain silent for a few seconds, meanwhile Edward seems to get embarrassed and a little restless. He starts to fidget with his hands, pulling on the strings of his hoody and scoffing his shoe on the sidewalk. He reminds me of a little boy right now, uncertain and uncomfortable. Oh what the heck. I did just think about how lovely it would be with a friend or a study partner, so what do I have to lose? Absolutely nothing, that's what! Take a chance, Bella! He seems like a really nice guy. And he gives you butterflies in your stomach – something you haven't felt since Jasper left.

"Sure," I say, shrugging my shoulder "I'd like that." His head whips up so fast I'm afraid he'll get whiplash.

"Really?" he asks, with a disbelieving expression on his beautiful face.

"Yeah, you seem like a sweet guy, and I could use a friend" I say, while looking him directly in the eyes – "who knows, we might have some classes together as well, and it would be really nice to have someone to study with."

He looks a little disheartened by my response, and I get the sense that this wasn't exactly the answer he was looking for, but it's the best I can give him right now. My feelings are too raw for me to jump head first into the dating pool, but I really like him, and would love to get to know him better. This way, expectations won't be too high, and if he's the right kind of guy, he won't mind. We exchange cell numbers at the doors and part ways with a smile; though his is a little sad. It doesn't occur to me before that night while lying in my bed in my lonely dorm room, that I might be doing the same thing I did with Jasper all over again; banishing a guy in the friend category, and then falling for him. Essentially setting myself up for heartbreak. Damn!