Yes. This is back :)

Mags beta'd. She rocks. I hope TropicalSorbet and Sabby forgive me for not letting them preread, but I was just so excited that I'd actually gotten this done, I had to post right away. You waited long enough, no?

So, to summarize, last we left Bella she gave Edward a piece of her mind before draining the contents of Alice's water bottle on his head.

SM owns the characters. LMM owns the story that inspired me, and still does. Gilbert Blythe is still my first book boyfriend.

"You, young lady, are the talk of the whole school." Alice suddenly appeared next to me, hooking her arm through mine and whispering.

"You don't say." I looked around uncomfortably at all the eyes on me, heads bent together in hushed conversation. "I can't imagine why."

"Are you serious? You don't think dumping the contents of my water bottle all over the most popular boy in school would get any attention?" She raised an eyebrow and pursed her lips.

I felt my face blush at the memory. "Yeah, about that. That wasn't my finest moment. I know he's your brother and I apologize for embarrassing you. I don't like making scenes, and I promise you all this attention is completely unwanted," I pleaded, which Alice brushed off with a gentle bump of shoulders.

"Bella, you don't need to apologize for anything! My brother was an ass and I totally let him have it when he came home from soccer practice last night."

We turned the corner towards our shared AP history class, Alice mouthing hellos to a few passing students. She was just so nice. Why couldn't everyone just be nice like she was? But the thought of her fighting with her twin brother over me was horrible. I was already causing trouble and I hadn't even been in school for more than forty-eight hours. The Cullens would probably get rid of me by the end of the week at this rate. The thought brought an ache to my chest, threatening to squeeze my heart into a raisin. I was horrified at the rift I'd caused between two siblings.

"Oh, no, Alice! Please don't fight with him. I shouldn't have done that to him, even though he just... he made me so angry." I felt myself getting worked up again. My temper had been an issue growing up before, but never so outwardly as yesterday.

Alice snorted. "Um, yeah, he totally deserved me tearing him a new one. If it's any consolation, he felt really bad about it."

We reached our classroom and I stopped dead in my tracks and looked at her. "Did he say that?" I was suddenly very interested in how Edward Masen felt, darn it. The thought that this infuriatingly handsome boy, with this cocky smirk and messy penny-colored hair could feel sorry about humiliating me sent my stomach on a roller coaster.

Alice wavered a bit. "Well, not exactly. He really didn't say much at all. He made himself a sandwich while I bit his head off and at the end of my tirade he just swallowed and said 'you're right' and walked to his room. It was uber strange."

Strange. I'll say. And cold-hearted, and mean, and—

"There was something though, in his eyes. When he said 'you're right,' I mean. He looked guilty. I know he regrets it, Bella." She stopped and gently touched my arm.

"Don't worry about it, Alice. I actually just want to forget the whole thing and move on."

Alice smiled brightly and nodded without saying another word, and as we opened the door to our shared class, I caught sight of Irina and her minions. Now, I had a very vivid imagination, but I wasn't imagining the look of utter hatred on this girl's face. Why did she hate me so? I hadn't even spoken to her, much less looked in her direction. On the contrary: I just wanted to fade into the background. It was much safer there, especially with my head in a book or behind the camera lens.

Of course, me being me, I wasn't paying attention to the path in front of me and headed smack into a wall. This wasn't a wall, though. It was a chest— a big, warm, broad, clean, boy-smelling chest. I hadn't registered Alice's greeting to her brother until it was too late, and there he was. When I slowly lifted my eyes to meet his, I lost my breath.

Green. His eyes were green. Green like the grass. Green like the lush landscape around me, like what I'd imagined the color of the Emerald City to look like in The Wizard of Oz— crystalline and pure.

His lips were moving. Wait, what?

"What?" I croaked. Great.

Edward's mouth quirked into that know-it-all smirk... the same one he'd given me yesterday before I threw water in his face, and just like that I was angry again. How dare he know how much he affected me... and mock me because of it?!

"I said," Edward paused for effect. "That I just wanted to apologize for yesterday. You'll forgive me, right?" That cocky face. I glanced over at Irina again and saw her angry stare. She was really huffing and puffing. I imagined her eyes beaming lasers at me, immediately eviscerating everything in her path. What was with these people?

"Bella?" Edward sang. "Earth to Bella. Boy, you're seriously in the clouds, eh?"

That's it.

"Edward Masen, I wouldn't accept your poor excuse for an apology if you were the last human being on this earth. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get to class." I reached up to push at his warm, nice-smelling chest and nothing happened. I tried again, and when he refused to move I narrowed my eyes, ready to fight, until I saw his.

His eyes were wide, uncertain, and sad. I must've imagined those reactions because Edward Masen had only ever been rude and cocky during our two encounters.

So why did I feel so bad about it? I couldn't let him see my regret, though; I had my pride. I lifted up my head proudly and stared him down until finally he gave up and stepped aside. The hairs on my arms and back of the neck stood up with the static between us as I brushed passed him. What the heck was that?

"Jesus Christ. You guys are going to be the talk of the school for the next two weeks," Alice said as we sat down in our seats. The moment had been so intense, I'd even forgotten Alice was there. I'd already failed in being her bosom friend once again. As if throwing water at her twin brother wasn't enough. I needed to get it together.

"I'm sorry, Alice. Again. Your brother...and you... and you and me..."

Alice waved a dismissive hand. "Oh, don't worry about it. I will say this though. I've never seen my brother so out of sorts. If you guys don't come to a truce, you're gonna kill each other before too long."

"I don't know what's wrong with me, really. He just seems to bring out the worst in me. I swear I'm not this angry all the time," I implored, taking her hands in mine.

"Oh, I'm sure you're not, Bella. Maybe it's this whole transition thing, you know? Starting someplace new I bet is very stressful. By the way, I should inform you Irina's got you on her shit list for sure."

I sighed deeply, suddenly exhausted. "Why, though? I don't get it. What have I ever done to her?"

"Well, aside from her wanting to climb my brother like a tree, I'd say she's jealous."

"Jealous," I said a little louder than intended. Other classmates had turned their heads.

"Jealous of me? Why?"

Alice smiled wryly. "Well, my darling friend, I think she thinks you're competition. You've already had more interaction with Edward than she has, and she's known us since we were in kindergarten.

"How come? Why won't Edward talk to her?"

"Are you kidding? Rumor is she's been with half the football team. Edward, or any other sane guy in this school wouldn't get within ten feet of her. She goes through guys like it's her job. Notches on bedposts and all that."

Oh, well, that was... unsettling. I was no one to judge what another person did behind closed doors, but he thought that this girl viewed having sex with someone as simply a challenge to be met didn't sit well with me at all. Not that I knew much about sex myself. I knew the mechanics, just never experienced it before, so I had no frame of reference. What I knew I learned from my foster mom, and she was very clinical about the whole thing. She even put me on the pill as a precaution. Apparently, it was a foregone conclusion that since I was a teenager, I'd be engaging in sex right away. She might've cared about me, but she certainly didn't trust me... or really know me.

"I wouldn't worry though. Stick with me, Bella. You'll be okay. Irina is popular for all the wrong reasons. She's got a fan club for sure, but there's a bunch of people who don't like her, and those people will like you just fine." She leaned over and bumped my shoulder. I smiled at her, and the tension in my muscles dissipated.. As our teacher began her lecture and everyone was busily scribbling notes, my mind couldn't help replaying what happened in the halls. Truth is, I could've accepted his apology, I really could have. My pride, however, had gotten the best of me. I didn't want to be this person I'd become.

That night, images of Edward's sad and confused eyes haunted me, and I dreamt of giving him a totally different response. He was so happy that he kissed me— right there, in front of everyone... in front of Irina.

And I was happy.




A/N: I can't promise regular updates, but the next chapter is already started if it makes you feel better :) I love you all.