Welcome to my second FF! I'm so excited to be sharing another piece of my imagination and I really can't wait to see how well it does! I'll admit, I'm a little worried… But I'm excited too.

Disclaimer: I own two pairs of Converse High-Tops, an iPod Touch and the song mentioned in the chapter but I do not own Twilight (obviously).

Chapter 1: Teenagers

"I hate this."

"I know."

"I want to go home."

"This is home now."

"I'll just run away again."

"Bella, stop being childish."

I scrunch down in the front seat of Charlie's cruiser, folding my arms tightly across my chest. Whoever thought sending me to live with a cop father would straighten me out was full of shit. Nothing and no one can fix me now.

"Just stick around for a year, Bells," Charlie wheedles. "You'll be eighteen and legally free to go wherever you want. But don't expect me to bail you out of jail."

Charlie adds that last bit as an afterthought and I roll my eyes. I know he'd never actually stop himself from doing that but the idea of going to jail does scare me. Not that I'd ever admit it.

I lean my head against the freezing glass of the window, frowning out at the rain coming down hard as we pull into Forks, Washington. I hate the rain and the cold. But at least I won't be sweltering in my usual dark hoodie that I've gotten into the habit of wearing practically 24/7.

But I still miss the Arizona sun.

Charlie parks in the driveway in front of his old, two-story house. It hasn't changed in seventeen years except there's less flowers here. Flowers were my mom's thing. Charlie can't grow anything but mold.

I stomp past Charlie and into the house, not bothering to wipe the mud off my high-tops and leaving a brown trail across the hardwood floor.

"You should ice your hand!" Charlie calls after me.

"You should fuck off," I mumble under my breath.

I kick off my shoes just outside my bedroom and fling the door open. This room hasn't changed much either except that Charlie got me a new comforter set. It's purple with lavender sheets. I feel my eyes unexpectedly water; I can't believe he actually remembered my favorite color after all these years.

I shake my head and turn to close the door.

Charlie is standing there, holding an icepack wrapped in a dish towel. He holds it out to me wordlessly and I frown as I take it and close the door.

"No smoking," he grumbles through the door.

"Sure, Dad," I say in a falsely upbeat voice, rolling my eyes again.

I yank the throw blanket off the end of my bed and wad it up at the bottom of the door, blocking all air flow. As I stride over to the window, I fish my half empty pack of cigarettes out of my jacket pocket and shake one out.

I sit down on the window seat and shove the metal frame open. The wind has died down so the rain doesn't blow in my face as I stick the cigarette in my mouth and light the tip. I stretch out my legs in front of me, crossing them at the ankles, and lay my hand down on my thigh.

I inspect the bruised knuckles, wishing that Mom hadn't found my stash of pain killers before she shipped me off to this underwater Hell. I know it was my own fault, picking a fight with a wall that I knew I'd lose to but my temper got the best of me when Mom demanded that I go live with Charlie.

With a sigh, I lay the icepack over my hand, sucking in another breath of nicotine and wondering how I'll manage to buy more smokes in a town where everyone knows my name.

Wow, what a scandal: Chief Swan's rebellious daughter buying a pack of smokes. That'll make headlines.

I wake up to rain. I'm not surprised but I'm not happy either.

Luckily, I managed to swipe Mom's sleeping pills on my way out, knowing I'd need them to sleep during the relentless rain so even though I'm waking up groggy, restless sleep is better than none at all.

I can smell the coffee brewing downstairs as I step out of the shower. But I also smell eggs. I fucking hate eggs.

Almost as much as I hate Forks.

I shuffle my way into the kitchen in an old striped t-shirt and skinny jeans, wrinkling my nose at the overpowering scent of the eggs, and go straight to the coffee pot as I pull on my dark hoodie.

"Morning," Charlie grunts and I mumble back. "I gassed up the truck for you. Just be home for dinner."

"Thanks, Daddy-o," I say sarcastically, searching the cupboards for a travel mug.

"Do you really need to wear that much eyeliner?" Charlie frowns at me as he dishes out his eggs.

"FYI, eggs make me gag," I offer in way of a response as I grab an apple out of the fridge and leave with my travel mug of coffee in hand.

The rain has let up enough so that I don't get thoroughly soaked on my way out to the truck. I've secretly always liked this truck—one of the few things growing up that I looked forward to when I'd come to visit. It's ancient—like, from the 50's old—and is faded red with bulbous fenders. The radio doesn't really work anymore but I can't hear much else besides the rain on the truck's roof anyways.

I'm so early to school that I'm the first one there. I consider going to the office, getting a map and to find my classes but figure I'll be late to every class anyways in this downpour so why even give a shit?

I lie down across the bench seat of the truck, popping the ear-buds of my iPod in my ears and biting into the apple. I chew slowly, wasting time, until the first bell rings.

The classes are boring as fuck. I may not have passed all my classes back home (mainly because I didn't always show up) but I sat through them already. Unfortunately, I finish my coffee before third period and I struggle to stay alert. I keep my hood up through all of my classes and pretend I don't hear the teachers when they say to take it down. They don't try very hard to get me to listen and I spend the last half of fourth period dozing in my seat at the back of the room.

I'm starving by lunch though I'm not looking forward to the shitty cafeteria food. I walk through the line, fully aware of the dozens of eyes trained on my back. I ignore it until I feel a nudge.

I turn and see a baby-faced kid with blonde hair and bright blue eyes that are all lit up with excitement. He's wearing one of those preppy polo shirts.

"Hey, I'm Mike Newton," he says cheerfully, balancing his tray in one hand so he can stick out the other. When I don't shake it, he pulls it back slowly.

I return my attention to the selection of fruit, giving Mike the cold shoulder. He doesn't take the hint and scoots along the line, closer to me than I like.

"You're Bella, right?" he asks and though I don't answer, he plows on anyways. "You can come sit at our table."

I glance around the cafeteria, really not wanting to sit with this dipshit, but there are no empty tables.

"Sure," I answer unenthusiastically. I swear I see Mike jump for joy.

I follow Mike to a table right in the center of the cafeteria. There are more chairs crowded around it than the others but there are two empty ones.

Great. The beautiful popular kids. That'll make for stimulating conversation.

Mike holds out a chair for me and I reluctantly sit down, moving the chair closer to the dark-haired girl next to me. She smiles shyly at me, introducing herself as Angela. She doesn't bother me any more than that when I don't give her more than my name.

Huh. Smart kid…

Mike introduces me to the table, but I don't pay any attention. I stick my ear-buds in my ears and crank it up to drown out the babble. Mike looks disappointed until the busty blonde he's sitting next to starts chattering away, flipping her hair over her shoulder and batting her eyelashes at him. I hold back a snort and scan the room over the top of my soda can.

Besides my pale skin, I don't feel like I fit in with anyone else here. I'm sure some of these other kids would compare me to an emo-goth but I'd answer that with a swift punch in the face. Just because someone wears a lot of black clothing and eye liner doesn't make someone an emo-goth, for Christ's sake…

My novelty and lack of conversation wears off with my table-mates after a few minutes but I can still feel a pair of eyes staring at me. I readjust my chair, trying to surreptitiously figure out where the culprit is.

My eyes fall on a table in the back corner where a beefy guy with dark hair is making out with a curvy blonde in a tight mini-skirt. I watch in disgust, strangely entranced, until they suddenly jerk apart. The guy leans down and rubs a spot on his shin, glaring at the tiny black-haired girl next to him who apparently had kicked him. She's stick thin with spikey hair; even from across the room, I see her roll her eyes at him. He rolls his own right back and nuzzles the blonde, who's fixing her lipstick.

My gaze travels to another blonde but this one is a guy. He's tall and thin, his hair messy and just past his ears. I can tell he's trying to both ignore the making out couple while trying to catch the eye of the tiny girl at the same time. She's studiously ignoring him as she flips through a magazine and jiggles her leg.

Finally, I find the eyes that are looking at me. There's a third guy at the table. He looks lean but muscular and I can't help but notice the way his green eyes sparkle under his unruly copper-colored hair. He gives me a crooked smile and I look down quickly.

I scroll through the list of songs on my iPod, trying not to think about how he's undressing me with his eyes, as I put on Teenagers by My Chemical Romance. The familiar lyrics play in my ears, the words of the chorus resonating in my head:

Teenagers scare the living shit out of me

They could care less as long as someone will bleed…

I don't turn around but I still feel like I'm being watched.

Fucking pervert.

Angela nudges me, making me jump in my seat. She pulls out one of my ear-buds and leans in to talk to me.

"Bell rang," she says with a smile.

I give a weak smile back and pack up my things.

As I walk out the door, I look over my shoulder.

The fucker is still staring at me.

Back home, Biology was my best subject, even after I stopped trying. It was easy and sometimes I could bluff my way out of the gross shit by claiming I was going to faint or barf. Though only one particular exercise made me do that.

The back lab table is empty so after I hand Mr. Banner my schedule to sign, I hurry to the back and hope I have enough time to start a new sketch before the final bell.

I pull my sketchbook out even before I reach the table and throw my backpack onto the desk. I sit down and I hunch over my work, quickly sketching out an Arizona landscape, struggling to hold onto the image in my head—only one day in Forks and I can already feel the comforting dry desert slipping from my memory. After a few relatively quiet minutes, someone sits down next to me, dropping their books on the table and making my hand skid across the paper.

"Shit," I mumble, scrubbing out the stray mark with my eraser.

"Sorry," a soft voice murmurs. "Looks good though."

I look up in horror to find the guy that was staring at me in the cafeteria unloading his backpack at the same table as me. I turn my attention back to my drawing, pulling my hair forward as a means of blocking him out.

"Nice nose ring," he says quietly.

"Fuck off," I snap but it only makes him chuckle.

Mr. Banner takes role and then instructs us to take notes out of the book and answer the questions at the end of the chapter. We can work in pairs.

The guy next to me doesn't say anything for a few minutes while we jot down notes but I can't help but notice how he looks at me every once in the while out of the corner of his eye. I scoot my stool a little to the left, farther away from him.

"I'm Edward Cullen," he finally says in a low voice.

"What part of fuck off don't you get?" I mumble, keeping my eyes on my work.

"The part where we're told to work in pairs," he says and I look up to see him smirking at me. I narrow my eyes.

"I'm not giving you the answers," I tell him coldly.

"I don't want the answers," he says, sounding slightly offended.

"Well, then what do you want?" I ask, not really caring what it is as I answer the third question from the book.

"What were you drawing?" he asks curiously.

"Home," I say simply.

"Didn't look much like Forks."

"That's because it wasn't, genius," I snap, looking up at him again; he's smirking again so I mumble, "Jackass."

"What?" he says innocently, trying to suppress his laughter. "I was just trying to make conversation. Everyone here knows you come from Arizona. You are the Chief's daughter, after all."

I sigh heavily and don't answer. He returns to his work, still smiling and glancing at me. I finish quickly and pull out my drawing again, turning sideways in my chair to try to keep Edward from trying to talk to me again. I think I hear him snigger quietly to himself again.


After school, I don't feel like going home right away. I get in my truck, lean my back against the driver's side door and put my feet up on the seat, bending them at the knees. I slip my ear-buds in my ears and start going through my music, hoping to find something loud to drown out the rain that started up again.

Suddenly, the passenger door opens and I look up in shock to see Edward climbing in with me. He runs his hands through his reddish hair, flicking raindrops all over the dashboard. He turns to me with a wide smile on his face.


"What the fuck, man?" I snap, shoving him with my foot. "Get out of my truck!"

"What? My brother's late and I don't feel like standing in the rain," he defends himself, shoving my foot away from him.

"And what ever gave you the idea you could impose on me like this?" I say incredulously, sitting up a little straighter so as to distance myself as much as I can in this cramped space.

"You were alone," he shrugs.

"Yeah, and don't you think there's a reason for that?" I say sarcastically.

"It can't be because of your charming personality," he says, winking at me.

"Fuck. Off." I say clearly and slowly, narrowing my eyes at him.

"Fine," he says indifferently, opening the door. He stands in the rain and looks back at me. "But I still like the nose ring."

I open my mouth to retort but he simply closes the door and walks away, shoving his hands in his pockets. When he gets to the silver Volvo where the big guy that was making out at lunch and the tiny girl that kicked him are waiting he turns and smiles at me again.

What the hell, man?

I can't seem to get that Edward out of my head all night. When I finish my picture of the Arizona landscape, I turn the page and just start drawing. I'm halfway done when I realize I've drawn a hand and on closer inspection, I see that it's actually Edward's hand. I turn the page angrily, glad that I'm terrible at faces and that I won't start accidentally drawing it. But I can remember the sharp angle of his jaw, covered in stubble, ending in perfectly shaped lips below a straight nose and—

Whoa! Swan! Get a grip!

I toss my sketch book across the bed, mad that my evening of distraction is ruined by someone who's not even there. I stand and go to my window, shaking out a smoke.

Just as I'm lighting up, my cell rings and I'm not surprised to see that it's Mom.

"Hey," I answer, taking a drag.

"Bella, are you smoking?" Mom says in a stern voice, obviously hearing the crackle of the paper burning.


"No, I told you I quit," I lie easily, scrubbing out my cigarette on the windowsill and saving what's left to finish when I'm off the phone. "What's up?"

"Just checking in, seeing how your first day went," she says cheerfully.

"Fine." Just as fine as anyone can be when they're banished from their home.

"Bella," Mom says soothingly, knowing me well enough to figure out when I'm not saying everything I'm thinking. "You know why we sent you there."

"Yeah, I know," I sigh, though she doesn't know the whole story. All she knows is that I'd been acting out for years and that the final straw was when I broke a lamp over my step-dad's head. She thought I was just drunk. I never told her my real reason.

Mom and I chit-chat for a while, though I know she sees through my stories about all the friends I made and the great classes but, thankfully, she accepts it for the time being.

The second we hang up I light up again, glad that the next day is Friday and that after I make it through the day, I'll have the whole weekend to myself to not think of Edward.

Yeah, right.

Friday is about the same as Thursday. I ignore everyone and they ignore me. Except at lunch when Mike has the nerve to try to talk to me about the dance that's coming up. I stare at him blankly until I make him so uncomfortable that he looks away, posing his questions to the blonde bimbo he sits next to, Jessica.

I'm dreading Biology. At lunch, I thought I heard someone at the table mention something about blood types and it got my attention. I turned my music off and listened intently but whoever said it wasn't elaborating. I had turned the music back on, but lower, hoping that the subject would be brought up again.

I don't even bother to try sketching before Biology starts. I'm too nervous about what I heard. I tap my pencil against the black lab table, jiggling one leg on the stool. I don't even acknowledge Edward when he comes in; I'm too busy looking for Mr. Banner to enter the room.

"What's got you all keyed up?" Edward asks.

"What are we doing in class today?" I ask anxiously, too tense to even try to act like my normal bitchy self to him.

"Let me check," he answers, looking at me strangely as he pulls out his notebook.

He doesn't get a chance to check. Mr. Banner walks in, balancing a couple of boxes.

"Please turn your books to page forty seven," Mr. Banner says, hooking up the overhead projector and wheeling it into the center of the room. "Mike, please pass out the slides."

My pulse pounds in my ears as I turn to the requested page. My hands start shaking so badly that I can't grab page forty six to turn to forty seven. I can feel my chest straining against the fitted flannel shirt I'm wearing and I'm tempted to unbutton it just so I can breathe.

"Are you alright?" Edward asks next to me but I can barely hear him.

Page forty seven: blood types.

"Bella? What's wrong?" Edward asks, reaching out to me; he stops, his fingers hovering at my shoulder as I shake my head quickly.

"I can't do this," I whisper, my voice cracking a little.

I hear Mr. Banner give the instructions and everyone but Edward pays close attention. Edward keeps his eyes trained on my face; I just can't stop looking at that fucking word.


My heart is racing so fast it hurts and my breath is coming in short gasps.

"Bella, you need to relax," Edward says next to me in a quiet voice, leaning closer. "What happened to your hand?"

"What?" I gasp, tearing my gaze away from my book to stare incredulously at Edward. He looks genuinely concerned but the question is so random.

"I'm trying to distract you," he says slowly, gesturing to my bruised hand lying on the table between us. "How did you hurt your hand?"

"Um I... I Uh..."

I watch Mike at the front of the class jump in his seat as he pricks his finger. I try to swallow but my mouth tastes like sand.

"Focus, Bella," Edward coaxes, leaning forward into my line of sight.

I give my head a little shake, closing my eyes and trying not to breathe through my nose so that I don't inhale that smell of rust and salt. It doesn't matter—I can practically taste it on my tongue.

"You're not focusing," Edward scolds.

"Why do you give a shit?" I say breathlessly, wondering if my shaking legs can carry me out of here. I flinch, my eyes snapping open as Jessica squeals and giggles when she pricks her finger.


She's only one seat away from me. I can smell it now.

I can feel the beginning of a panic attack as my head starts to spin and I can't control my breathing as it echoes loudly in my ears, sounding like gushing water. I vaguely hear Edward growl as he reaches toward me.

My head whips around toward him.

"What the hell are you doing?" I demand but I still sound too winded to sound hostile.

Edward picks up my sketchbook and I momentarily panic, worried he'll recognize the hand that I drew. But he simply opens it right to the middle where the pages are thankfully blank. He sets the book in front of me and gently folds a pencil into my hand.

"Draw a cactus," he directs me and when I try to protest he points to the blank page firmly.

I quickly make a rough sketch of the plant, not bothering to add any detail or a background. As I'm drawing, Edward starts arranging the materials for our lab. I keep my head down, letting my hair swing forward to block my view of his actions.

"Have you ever been stuck by a cactus?" he asks me casually.

"Of course I have," I answer tersely.

"Tell me what happened?"

I take a deep breath through my mouth, changing my mind about the drawing and adding shading around the plant to keep up the distraction. It's actually working. My head is spinning less and the voices around me are becoming clearer.

"I ate shit on my motorcycle and slid into it," I say, wondering what the point is.

"Did you freak out then? When you saw the blood, I mean. "

"No, that was just an accident." I use my finger to blend the edges of the cactus and then begin a shorter one next to it.

"Caught you too off guard?"

I nod my head once, erasing a line that veered the wrong way as my hands started to shake again at his question.

"It really wasn't too bad," I mumble, trying not to relive the accident—it was worse than I was letting on. I had needed six stitches in my leg.

"What about your nose ring?" he continues thoughtfully.

"No blood," I smirk at him. I'm so caught up in my drawing by now that I don't notice Mr. Banner glaring at us. But my hand does falter on the page when Edward pulls out the instrument to puncture our fingers and moves closer.

"Did it hurt?" he asks curiously.

"Not really," I frown. "But the pain is different for everyone and a lot of it is in the head. If you think it'll hurt, then it will."

"That makes sense," Edward says, pulling the pencil out if my hand. "Keep that in mind."

"What the fuck?" I say in outrage.

I almost snatch it back until I see the pick in his hand. My hands automatically start sweating.

"Were your eyes open or closed when you pierced your nose?" he asks softly.

"Uh... Clo-closed," I stutter, staring at the pick.

"Eyes on me," Edward breathes.

I raise my eyes to his and stare into the depths of green. He leans forward slightly and I can actually count his eyelashes.

"Just stay with me," he whispers, his warm breath wafting over my face; I nod stupidly.

I match my breathing to his and concentrate on only the air rushing slowly into my lungs and out through my parted lips. I study his pale features for any sign of a reaction to what he's doing but I find nothing. His eyes don't even stray from mine until he suddenly reaches out for something.

I'm slow to react and look just in time to see him wrapping a band-aid around the pointer finger of his left hand. The slide with his drop of blood is already across the black table top.

"Still doing alright?" he asks, scooting even closer.

"Sure. But I'm assuming it's my turn now," I say with a shaky laugh, swallowing thickly.

"I'll help you." He reaches out to me and then pauses. "Can I touch you?"

"Uh... Yeah," I answer uncertainly, surprised that he asked permission.

He places one hand on the center of my back and I find myself oddly comfortable with it. He slowly moves his hand up my back as I breath in, stopping at my shoulder blades, and moving it back down to the center again as I breathe out. My skin tingles pleasantly as my nerves calm.

Edward carefully places the pick in my left hand and turns my right hand over. He holds my hand lightly, his thumb resting on my bruised knuckles. His fingers are oddly cold and smooth but it feels soothing on my purple skin.

"Now, place the pick on your finger," he says, his breath tickling my ear. I feel a quiver of both pleasure and apprehension roll up my spine.

I place the sharp edge against my skin, keeping my breathing steady with Edward's stroking. His fingers tighten on my hand and I wince but I don't stop him. He's giving me another distraction.

"Close your eyes," he orders and I comply.

I suck in a deep breath and concentrate on the burning sensation in my hand as I press down on the tip of my finger. I barely feel the sting and wonder if I missed until Edward presses my finger to a slide and removes his hand from my back to swiftly bandage the puncture. I slowly open my eyes as Edward moves the slides across the table. He replaces his hand on my back.

"Breathe, please," he says with a light chuckle.

I let out a big gust of air and feel myself sway.

"Fuck," I mumble as Edward steadies me.

"Are you okay?" he asks anxiously.

"Shit, I'm blacking out."

The room starts to get dark as though I'm staring down a long tunnel. The rushing sound in my ears is back, drowning out everything else in the room. All the blood drains out of my body, leaving me shivering with cold. The blackness around the edges of my eyes is closing in.

"Oh shit," Edward mumbles, grabbing my wrist to feel my pulse. "Fuck, Bella, your heart is racing. Just give me a minute and we'll get out if here."


I can barely hear him. He sounds like he's both whispering and shouting at the same time. I try to tell him this but he tightens his cool grip on my wrist, keeping up a stream of quiet conversation as he finishes the lab one handed. I focus on the sound of his velvet voice; the longer I listen the clearer it gets.

He suddenly let's go and my fingers twitch, wanting his touch back. But now that my head is clearing up, I can't remember why I liked it.

"Mr. Banner," Edward says in a loud, clear voice that startles me. "Bella and I are finished, may we be excused early?"

I fully expect him to say no as he frowns at me but apparently Edward is his favorite so after telling us the homework, he waves us out the door. I stand in a daze, my knees wobbling beneath me. Edward places his hand on my elbow, making my skin prickle pleasantly again, and grabs my things.

He leads me out the door and once we get to the lockers, I try to shake him off.

"Fuck off, Edward," I say, feeling an odd thrill at saying his name.

He chuckles and holds out my bag.

"You're welcome," he says politely, giving me a crooked smile.

"Whatever," I mumble, taking my bag and heading for the parking lot.

Edward catches up in a few long strides, keeping close to my side as I stumble toward the parking lot.

"Are you still feeling lightheaded?" he asks and though I am, I ignore him.

I reach my truck and Edward stands by the driver's door expectantly, watching me with a confused look as I continue to the bed of the truck. When he sees me open the tailgate and turn my back, bracing the palms of my hands on the edge, he understands and comes around to stand next to me.

"Want some help?" he offers, taking a step towards me.

"No," I say shortly, shifting my weight to my hands.

I bend my knees and prepare to lift myself into the truck bed but my hand sears with pain.

"Ah shit, mother fucker, son of a bitch!" I cry, clutching my injured hand to my chest and sucking a sharp breath in through my teeth.

Edward lets out a snort and I glare at him. He rolls his eyes and sighs heavily.

Before I can stop him, he grabs my waist and lifts me easily into the truck bed. Without a word, he jumps up next to me.

"Jackass," I mutter; he just laughs.

I carefully scoot backward and turn sideways, leaning my back against the side of the truck. Edward mirrors my pose so I pull my feet closer to my body, away from him. I glance at the school to make sure the cab of the truck is blocking me and take out my pack of smokes.

I barely get one out when Edward lunges at me, snatching the pack out of my hands.

"Hey!" I protest. He ignores me, shakes out his own cigarette and tosses the pack back at me. "Fucker..."

He snickers and puts the cigarette between his lips, motioning at me to pass over the lighter I'm using. I frown but toss it to him anyways. I take a long drag on my lit cigarette and lean my head back to let the misty rain wash my sweaty face clean. I groan internally; usually the nicotine soothes my nerves better than anything else but its nothing compared to his touch.

Shit. I did not just think that…

"You gonna tell me?" Edward suddenly asks. I keep my head tilted back but look at him from under my lashes.

"Tell you what?" I grumble, knowing I owe him at least a little something for his help. I had hoped the smoke would be enough.

"Your hand," he clarifies, sucking on his cigarette. I can't help but enjoy the way he blows the smoke out of the corner of his pursed lips.

"Punched a wall, it punched back," I say with a straight face, putting the cigarette between my lips again. I blow the smoke directly at Edward.

"Smart," he says, raising his eyebrow at me. I tilt my head back down to glare at him but he glares right back so I turn my face away. "Can I ask you something?"

"No, you cannot fuck me," I answer bluntly.

"Well, shit, there goes my afternoon," Edward says seriously, snapping his fingers. I glower at him again.

"Fine, what?" I snap when he doesn't ask his question.

"Two questions, actually," he clarifies and I gesture for him to continue. "How'd it go when you got your nose pierced?"

"You're really fascinated with this thing, aren't you?" I ask, pointing to the jewel on the right side of my nose. He shrugs. I sigh and continue, "I nearly passed out."

"No shit?" he says, raising his eyebrows at me.

"Yeah, well," I say, embarrassed. I look away again to take another drag. "I hyped myself up for it to hurt real bad and when I got into the chair the guy doing it had all these piercings and tattoos all over his face so I asked if nose piercings hurt. He went into this long spiel about how pain is all in the mind."

Edward laughed with me, both of us breathing smoke in and then out.

"So anyways, right when he was about to do it, I closed my eyes, bracing myself for pain, but it didn't really hurt at all. It just felt like a pinch, like an ear piercing. When I opened my eyes again, the guy just kept talking like nothing happened. But then I told him that the room was getting dark and that I couldn't hear him."

"How'd he calm you down?" Edward asks, obviously interested. He actually leans forward, resting his elbows on his bent knees and clasping his hands together, his cigarette balanced between his fingers.

"Same way you did," I shrug, flicking my spent cigarette onto the wet asphalt. "He kept talking to me until I relaxed again. My adrenaline was up too high going in so when nothing happened, it drained so fast from my body that my head couldn't handle it."

Edward nods, taking the last smoke from his cigarette and tossing it with mine. I feel oddly comfortable and vulnerable around Edward at the moment but decide to blame it all on my light-headedness.

"You had another question?" I ask slowly.

"Huh? Oh right," Edward says, pulling himself out of his thoughts. "What happened with your motorcycle?"

"Oh, that," I laugh. "It was a piece of shit. I didn't know enough about bikes to fix it and one day the brakes gave out and…"

I trail off, waving my hands in the direction of my backpack that holds my drawing pad with the picture of the cacti. He nods again and we lapse into an awkward silence that's mercifully interrupted by the bell. I slide out of the truck with a groan.

"Damn it, I don't want to go to English class," I grumble as Edward slides out next to me and slams the tailgate closed for me.

"What's wrong with English class?" he asks with a laugh, grabbing our bags and handing me mine. I'm finding it a little strange how polite he's being to me with all the times I've told him to fuck off.

"It's shit boring when you've read all the books before," I tell him, striding off to class. He follows again.

"That sucks," he says, unexpectedly brushing my arm with the back of his fingers. I barely even flinch. "See you tomorrow."

"Wait, what?" I stop in the middle of the walkway, causing a few students to veer around me, grumbling. I call after Edward, "What do you mean?"

Edward smirks at me over his shoulder and keeps walking. The final bell rings and I run into English class, swearing under my breath.

As Mr. Berty writes the itinerary for the day on the board, I pull out my sketchbook, intending to tear out the picture Edward ordered me to draw. My hand freezes over the page when I see something written in tidy scrawl above the larger of the two cacti I drew.

Check your phone.

I gasp and dig in the front pouch of my backpack for my phone. I didn't hear it ring because I had put it on silent but it's blinking to indicate a waiting message. I flip it open to see Edward's name on the screen.

"Holy shit!" I whisper, pressing the read button.

Today was interesting.

I glance up at Mr. Berty, who still has his back turned to the class, and type out a quick reply.

Fucking sticky fingers.

I click the buttons on the side of my phone to change the setting to vibrate and hold it tightly in my hands on my lap as it buzzes just seconds after I sent my text.

You know it. ;)

I shake my head, fighting back a smile.

Take my shit again and I'll treat you like I treated that wall.

You lost that fight. What makes you think I won't fight back?

I gape at the phone and consider ignoring him. I shouldn't be indulging him in his fascination with stalking me. The phone buzzes again.

I still like the nose ring.

I huff and toss the phone into my bag. I take out the day's reading assignment and try to lose myself in the story. But in the back of my head I'm berating myself for allowing some random guy to invade himself into my personal space.

Even if I did secretly enjoy it.


I hope you enjoyed chapter one enough to keep reading! I had many stories popping into my head over the past few months but this one really stuck with me! Oh and there is some slight truth here… The story of Bella nearly passing out when she got her nose pierced is what happened to me when I got my tongue pierced—almost exactly!

Reviews are lovely! Please tell me if I should keep going. ;) And tell me, too, what was your best subject in school that you didn't have to try hard to pass? Mine has always been English! Go figure, I'm a writer!