Oh, you have got to be kidding me…
Blushing furiously, Bella scooted over so Edward could have room to sit at the desk with her, avoiding looking his way.
She could've sworn she heard him chuckle as he seated himself.
Trying to gather herself, she pulled out her notebook and pencil from her bookbag, not looking at him once.
The sound of his voice surprised her, it was quiet, as if he rarely spoke, but clear, with a musical lilt to it. It was a pleasant sound, and she wouldn't mind listening to it more. She still refused to look his way, her ears red, too stunned and confused at what was happening, at his drastic change of attitude.
"My name is Edward Cullen," he continued on to say, "I didn't have a chance to introduce myself last week. You must be Bella Swan."
That was odd. Most people used her full name when they first met her. It irked her a bit to hear him address her casually considering this was the first time he spoke to her after all the hateful glaring he had done last time.
Bella turned to face him now, trying not to show the shock it was to take in his stunningly beautiful face.
He was seated as far away from her as possible, nearly at the corner of the desk, but his chair was angled towards her. His hair was dripping wet and disheveled from the snow earlier, but it gave him a dazzling look, as if he meant for his hair to fall that way.
His beautiful face was friendly, a small smile on his lips, but his golden eyes were careful, guarded.
Confused, and wondering if she had just imagined the whole thing of his glaring at her hatefully the first time she had seen him, she took in a small breath to steady herself before responding. "How do you know my name?"
He laughed a soft, enchanting laugh. "Oh, I think everyone knows your name. The whole town's been waiting for you to arrive."
Reminded at how small Forks was, she cringed. "No, I meant, why did you call me 'Bella'?"
Edward frowned in confusion. "Do you prefer Isabella?"
"I prefer to be called Bella," She sighed, her ears burning still, wondering how the conversation turned into this, exhausted from her training earlier and already feeling drained from this odd conversation. "I was asking because everyone here has called me Isabella when they first met me."
"Oh," He let it drop.
Thankfully, Mr. Banner started the class right then.
Her mind and body exhausted, adrenaline now coursing through her veins from having Edward Cullen sitting next to her again, she tired triedly to grasp every single instruction.
Mr. Banner was having the class do a lab, the slides in the box were out of order, each table had to separate the slides of onion root tip cells into the phases of mitosis they represented and label them accordingly.
They weren't allowed to use their textbooks; Mr. Banner gave them twenty minutes before he would come around to each desk and see who had done it correctly.
"Start!" Mr. Banner commanded.
"Ladies first, partner?" Edward slid the microscope to her first. Bella looked up at him carefully, shocked to find a small crooked and friendly smile gracing his lips.
She could only stare, absorbing the details of his beautiful face into her mind, shocked still that he was back and talking to her so friendlily as if his hatred for her had never happened.
Edward waited, still wearing that small harmless smile.
How can someone so beautiful be so hateful? She wondered as she carefully observed his face, his expression, for any microscopic hint of residual hatred from last time. There was something more to him beneath the beauty, something different, she could sense it.
"Or I could go first if you'd like?" Edward's friendly smile faded, frowning.
"No!" Bella let out a little too forcefully. She cleared her throat, blushing furiously again. "I'll go first." She quickly snapped the first slide into place before peeking into the microscope.
She had done this lab before; in fact, a lot of the material she was studying in the American education system she had already completed back in Italy with her private tutors. Her studies back in Italy weren't necessarily advanced, she was simply an excellent scholar; her mentors often wished she would apply her academic enthusiasm into her Elemental trainings.
"Prophase," Bella nodded confidently.
"Do you mind if I take a look?" Edward smiled politely, his hand catching hers, stopping her.
Bella hissed at the contact. Not only were his hands ice-cold, but she also felt an electrical buzz run through her at his touch.
Edward retracted his hand immediately, apologetic. "Please excuse me," he muttered, glaring at the microscope as he slid it closer to himself and peeking in for a second before nodding and confirming, "Prophase."
Yeah, that's what I just said. Bella repressed an eyeroll, rubbing the spot on her hand he had touched, trying to bring back warmth to it and forget the electricity she felt upon his touch, scowling at their assignment sheet.
He swiftly switched out the first slide, snapping in the next one and peeking in at the microscope for not even a second before murmuring, "Anaphase." He quickly wrote down the responses on their assignment sheet, his handwriting a neat and sort of old-fashioned style.
"Mind if I take a look?" She asked somewhat sarcastically, not waiting for a response as she slid the microscope over to her.
He smirked as he watched her double check if he was correct.
Damn, he's right. Bella frowned. "Slide three?" she held her hand out, not looking at him.
Edward gingerly placed the last slide in her hand, being careful to not touch her again.
Bella took the most fleeting look she could manage. "Interphase." She shoved the microscope his way before he could ask and sat back, crossing her arms.
She would've written down the next answer while he looked, but she liked his elegant calligraphy, plus she was perfectly content doing the least amount of work.
He took a swift peek, nodding in agreement, and wrote it down. Bella glanced around the classroom, noticing they were first ones to finish the assignment.
She snickered quietly, spotting Mike and his lab partner scrambling and rechecking the slides, and peeking under the table at their hidden textbook, clearly confused, and not knowing what the fuck they were doing.
Left with spare time, she gulped, glancing up at Edward, surprised to see he was staring down at her already, an inexplicable look of frustration in his eyes.
They simply stared at each other for a few seconds, then Bella identified what the subtle difference was.
Last time Edward had glared at her throughout the entire class period, his eyes had been beady black, she remembered how eerie and terrifying it looked against his strikingly pale skin and auburn hair.
Today, however, his eyes were a strange ocher, darker than butterscotch, but with a golden undertone.
She looked down at his hands, they were clenched into fists again.
Uncomfortable, she looked away and decided to work on her essay draft for English class, ignoring him as Mr. Banner came up to their table to see why they weren't working.
"So, Edward! Didn't you think Isabella should get a chance with the microscope?" Mr. Banner asked condescendingly.
"She prefers 'Bella'," Edward corrected, his voice smooth like butter. "And actually, she identified three out of the five."
Mr. Banner looked down at Bella skeptically. "Have you done this lab before?" He asked slowly and a little loudly, still believing Bella didn't speak English fluently.
Bella shrugged, ignoring his skepticism and tone. "Not with onion root." "Whitefish blastula?" Mr. Banner raised his brows.
Bella nodded wordlessly, tapping her pencil impatiently against her notebook.
"Were you in an advanced program in Italy?" Mr. Banner pressed.
What is with everyone wanting to talk to me today out of all days? She sighed internally, rolling her sore shoulders. "Yeah."
"Well then!" Mr. Banner huffed. "I guess it's a good thing you two are lab partners." He mumbled some more under his breath as he walked away.
Bella rolled her eyes then, focusing back on her draft, determined to continue to ignore Edward Cullen and complete her draft by the end of the class period, not wanting any homework to complete so she could go straight to napping once she got home.
"It's too bad about the snow, isn't it?" Edward asked softly, his butterscotch eyes fixed intently on her face.
Bella looked up from her notebook, bewildered. Is he seriously asking me about the weather?
"Um, no…" She glanced over at him warily for a few seconds before looking back down at her draft, but it was difficult to focus.
Edward had been cold and hateful when she first saw him; his politeness and attempt at conversational friendliness was throwing her off, making her feel crazy and like she had imagined the whole thing.
"You don't like the cold?" He guessed.
"Or the wet," She replied, her eyes skimming over her draft again, not reading a word.
"Then Forks must be a difficult place for you to live." His velvet voice clipped.
"You have no idea…" Bella muttered under her breath, glowering as small movement from outside caught her eye.
The sky was still grey, ice slowly starting to fall again.
"Why did you come here then?" Edward demanded almost accusingly.
Bella grimly closed her notebook, fighting the urge to snap that it was none of his damn business, bracing herself instead for further interaction, responding with the same quiet tone he had initiated the conversation with.
"It's complicated," she said shortly, grimacing as memories of the incident flashing through her mind, her throat tightening involuntarily.
"I think I can keep up," He insisted quietly, his gaze softening slightly at her expression.
Bella risked a glance in his direction. It was such a shock to look at him, to take in his statuesque beauty, especially up close like this.
His bronze head was slightly tilted, his butterscotch eyes pouring into hers, as if trying to pull her thoughts out through their held gaze.
She let out a quiet beath, preparing to lie.
No one had ever really taken interest to ask her why she moved to Forks, everyone else had been absorbed with impressing her or befriending her, the "shiny new toy" as Jessica had put it.
"My mother…" She began carefully, "travels a lot for work." That was essentially the truth. Renee did often travel around Italy or Russia for Elemental meetings with other communities.
"And you did not wish to go with her?" Edward asked apprehensively.
Bella glowered at him; clearly, he would've preferred if she had just stayed wherever she came from. "I had to continue my education," she ground out between clenched teeth.
He nodded, as if everything suddenly made sense. "So, she sent you here so she could continue her professional life."
Bella's face twitched with barely concealed rage. "You are insinuating my mother perceived me as a burden, thus shipped me off to live with my father in this sad god-forsaken town?" She seethed, hurt because there was also some truth to that.
Edward held his hands up. "I apologize, I did not mean to be presumptuous," he said smoothly, "I just cannot quite figure you out…" he said more to himself at the end of his sentence.
Bella resisted the urge to scoff and roll her eyes at his response, glaring past him and to the dreadful weather outside.
The ice turned to snow again, her disgusted glare deepened; the snow fell harder as if to personally spite her, completely covering the pavement.
"Glaring hatefully at the snow won't make it stop," Edward chuckled softly, his syrup brown eyes observing her with a glint Bella could not describe.
Sighing quietly, Bella moved her softened gaze to his face. He leaned back slightly, moving further away from her, as if trying not to smell her breath. Bella could tell he was trying to be subtle about it, but she caught the small movement.
What the hell.
Maybe her breath did stink. God knows how many times Bella had been in his position before, trying to politely evade someone's bad breath while they spoke to her.
Bella glanced up at him again. He wasn't being rude or disrespectful, he had god-like beauty and old-fashioned manners that she hadn't encountered in other people her age before, let alone in Forks High School.
Here he was now, trying to "figure" her out by making small talk about the weather, and trying to guess the super-secret reason she moved to Forks.
He's a loner, like me. She reminded herself sadly, feeling a pang of guilt as she remembered how Jessica and Lauren had snickered when telling her about the Cullen siblings when she had asked about them on her first day of school.
People were clearly curious and fascinated by Edward and his family, but they never spoke to them, they only talked about them behind their back, similar to Bella's experience back in Italy with her Community.
"Your guess is, essentially, correct," she finally said, slumping her sore shoulders in defeat. "My being sent here is going to make a lot of things easier for my mom, if I'm being honest." She admitted lowly.
Edward raised a graceful brow at her but listened attentively, raptured.
"So, it was decided this was best," Bella continued carefully, oddly feeling a part of her wanting to share what she could with him. No one had asked her why she moved so far, and she found that she wanted someone to confide in. "And Charlie's been – I mean, my dad – has been great even if I hadn't seen him in years. I don't know why…" I don't know why I didn't visit him before. She almost said but stopped herself in time.
Edward nodded sympathetically. "But now, you're unhappy."
Bella hesitated, wondering just how much she should share with him. "Whether I'm unhappy or not is unimportant," She sighed. "I'm here now, and I have to adjust."
"That doesn't seem very fair." He shrugged; his intense gaze still fixed on her.
"Hasn't anyone ever told you, Edward Cullen? Life isn't fair." She shot back, starting to feel irritated with the conversation.
"I believe I may have heard that somewhere before." He agreed dryly.
Bella scoffed softly, turning to glower at her draft, upset because he was right: she was unhappy. She never would've chosen to live in Forks, she never would've chosen to leave Italy, her home.
Not that she wasn't grateful for her father (although she was still upset with him about throwing her into training earlier), but she deeply regretted the circumstances that had led to her being kicked out of Naro, she wished with all her heart that it had never happened and that she could take it all back.
Edward's gaze softened slightly at her agitated expression. "You put on a good show," he said slowly after a few moments. "But I'd be willing to bet that you're suffering more than you let anyone see."
Bella grimaced, not appreciating being prodded like this, especially when her day was terrible from the moment she woke up this morning. She was starting to regret allowing herself to converse with Edward this long.
"Am I annoying you?" He sounded amused.
"Yes." She shot him an irritated glare. "Did you get contacts by the way?"
Edward blinked. "No…" he sounded confused as to why she would ask such a thing.
"Oh, well, I could've sworn your eyes were black last time I saw you." She sniffed, offended again, remembering his hateful glares.
The reaction was instant. Edward's face became guarded, he slowly removed his intense gaze from her to glare down at the desk, leaning further away, again trying to be subtle, but Bella caught everything.
So it's like that, huh. She sighed quietly, letting it be. She was angry and frustrated with him again; he could ask her questions, pressing her for details, but she asked him one simple innocent question and he completely shut down.
Mr. Banner called the class to order then. Bella knew she and Edward had gotten all the answers correct so she didn't pay attention, keeping her head down, trying to work on her essay but having trouble staying focused. working on her essay but having trouble staying focused.
She was in disbelief, dazed, that she had spoken to Edward this long, and that it was him, out of all people in this school, to take enough interest in her to ask why she moved, and noting the unhappiness underneath that everyone else around her had been too self-absorbed to pick up on, that even she had been trying to ignore.
He had seemed engrossed by their conversation, listening with raptured attention, as if he were so sure she had ulterior motives for moving to Forks, his precious little town. She could see from the corner of her eye that he was leaning as far away from her as he could again, his hand gripping the edge of their desk with tension.
When the bell rang, Edward rushed swiftly and gracefully from the classroom as he had last time.
Mike scurried to walk with Bella to their next class. "That was awful!" he complained, "Those slides all looked the same to me! You're lucky you had Cullen for a partner."
"I didn't have any trouble with it," Bella scoffed haughtily at his comment.
"Cullen seemed friendly enough today," Mike commented instead, trying to sound nonchalant, obviously not pleased about it.
"I didn't stab him with my pencil this time," Bella gave Mike a cringing smile.
The rain was a light mist at the end of the school day, but Bella rejoiced as she neared her truck, willing her sore and heavy legs to continue taking the few steps it took to get there.
"Finally!" She cried as she sat in her truck, happy to be warm, turning the heater as high as it could go.
Excited to go home and nap, she happily adjusted her seat and buckled up, she readjusted her rearview mirror, noticing a still white figure. Her excited smile immediately fell.
Edward Cullen was leaning against the front door of his Volvo, staring intently in her direction with a curious expression.
Her mood now ruined, remembering their conversation in Biology, she looked away angrily, her nostrils flaring, as she threw her truck in reverse, nearly hitting a rusty Toyota Corolla in her haste.
"Shit!" she swore through gritted teeth, her truck screeching to a halt as she hit the brakes. She backed out cautiously this time, ignoring the Volvo, but she could've sworn she saw Edward Cullen laughing as she drove past.