"I'm sending you to Duel Academy," Charlie said.
'But I just got here!" I protested.
"Look, I have a police job to take care of and I really can't be babysitting."
"I'm seventeen years old, Dad," I said. I could only call him Charlie in my head. "I don't need babysitting."
"Seventeen is the worst age for a girl to be who has just moved from a huge city like Phoenix to a small town like Forks."
"What are you saying?"
"I want to protect you, Bella."
Subtext: I want to keep you from being raped, Bella.
"Dad, nothing's gonna happen."
"You're darn right nothing's gonna happen, missy. You are going to Duel Academy, whether you like it or not."
"Did you say the place was called Duel Academy?" I asked.
"So I'm supposed to learn how to shoot people? What if I get shot instead?"
"It's not that kind of dueling, honey. It's a card game."
"But I don't even know how to play…um, whatever they call that game."
"It is called Duel Monsters. And that's what people go there for, honey. To learn how to play."
"But why would I want to learn how to play a game I know nothing about?"
Charlie pointed to the television. "Because I want to see you on that one day, dueling someone famous like Yugi Mutuo or Seto Kaiba. Maybe Aster Phoenix, since he's part of your generation."
"I don't know who those people are."
"You'll find out, honey. And it'll be a blast."
"But won't it cost a lot to send me away?"
"Don't worry about money, Bella. It's not you who is paying for it."
"I don't want to cost you more than I have to."
"I can manage as it is. And besides, Dr. Cullen is contributing. His four children are already there."
"Great. And I bet you want me to get chummy with these kids."
"No, you don't have to pay attention to the Cullens. Make your own friends. But go."
"Dad, is there something you're not telling me?"
"Um, no. Why would you think that?"
"There's something here. Something you know about that is more dangerous than teenage boys."
"Why would you think that?"
"Well, that might be a clue," I said, pointing to the Seattle Times on the table with the front page headline, FAMILY OF FOUR MAULED IN FOREST TREK. I went over and picked it up. There was a picture of a wolf with its long teeth bared. I would have screamed if I had met such a beast in the wild. But a photographic image could not hurt me.
"Oh, that? No, that's not the reason I'm sending you away," Charlie said in a hurried voice. "I trust you not to trek into the forest by yourself."
Did he? Or did he think I was my mother, who would probably be goaded to go into the forest because she saw a photograph of a wolf on the front page of a newspaper.
"I'm not Mom, okay?"
Charlie looked at me with a pained expression. "I wouldn't think you were your mother," he said in a low voice.
"Then why do you think I'd go into a dark forest?"
"Didn't I just say that I thought you wouldn't?"
"Dad, you are sending me to a school that I presume is far away. It is far away, isn't it?"
"It's on an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean."
"See? That's far. I'm not going."
"There is no not about it. You are going and that's that. Now, make yourself useful and fix me some dinner." He flicked on the TV and instantly became mesmerized. I think he even forgot I was there as soon as some goons in football uniforms appeared on the screen and started grunting at each other.
As I made spaghetti, I thought about things. It was ridiculous that Charlie thought I would safe on an island miles and miles away, but didn't want me to hear to be near a forest that he should have it in him to protect me from in other ways than sending me away.
I was determined to not get on the plane, however. No way was I going to Dull Academy or whatever Charlie had called it. Maybe I could pretend to get on the plane, then double-back and run away to Seattle.