This is a repost of an older story that I didn't finish. I will valiantly attempt to finish it this time round. Crumbs, it's only seven chapters. You'd think the effort wouldn't be beyond me. A special nod to the girl with the faulty phone line.

PRIMARY ONE

RED

You know how you can get belligerent the week before your period? Then as soon as the flow starts, it's like that mess of an attitude flows out of you at the same time, restoring you to your usual polite and co-operative self.

That's if you have a polite and co-operative self. That's if belligerence is not your normal state.

I don't fucking know, so don't quote me on it, but something I do know is that I'm so regular I can mark the days beforehand on the calendar, and I know when I have to put tampons and painkillers in my school bag. On one day every fourth week, my first day, I wear scarlet panties. It's a war-cry, but nobody knows. My red serenade is mine alone.

And I was in a mood, awaiting the release and the relief, suspended in a ruby haze, at a garden party at the Cullen's house.

No-one is really friends with them, but they are the wealthiest family in town and yearly they throw a party. It's all noblesse oblige, the ostentatious bestowal of their largesse. No one believes in their philanthropic crumb-scattering to the peasantry, but we all go. We all go, to see how the other half live. Not exactly half, is it? There are seven of them and more than three thousand of us.

They have a gazebo, and usually they hire smooth-cat jazz musos for the early evening, and punked up spiky-haired jump-arounds for later, when the conservative grown-ups retire to talk politics and cultivate gout and become obnoxious in their coveting and the young people can grope and kiss in the dark.

My Dad hates it but he has to go as he occupies such a prominent place in Forks society and his absence would be noted. He's the chief of police and he's never there on duty, but he never drinks because God, he can't afford to look like he's on a lower social tier than he is around these people. And anyway, there's so much alcohol running out of the taps that there's always near-trouble. The Cullens hire security, of course, because they think of everything. Boys who start fights and girls who vomit are disappeared with speed and discretion.

I've been dragged to these events since I was born and they were fun when I was little, with the pony rides, and the fireworks. Now I detest them. Fucking show-off fucking bastards without a clue. Dr Hotshot Carlisle Cullen should get hold of some stemcells and grow himself a brain and see what the locals really think of him and his insensitivity.

The jazz band are good, of course, because nothing but the best. Does Dr Stupid have any idea how wrong he gets it?

I was watching them when one of the sons turned up next to me. Oh, great. Even his name shows how out of touch his parents are - Edward. Who's called Edward in this day and age? Seventeen years ago, his Jane Eyre-influenced mother gave him a name that would mark him as being an anachronism.

"Hello Bella," he said. "Are you enjoying the music?"

I bit back a negative response, because actually I did like the music. "Well, it's okay, I guess," I answered.

"What sort of music do you like?" he asked.

Was he trying to make conversation? Capital L for LOSER!

"Anything really. Nose-flute," I told him, making something up so he'd lose his nerve and go away. But he didn't.

"Polynesian?" he asked.

He had never spoken to me before. I had never even heard his voice because he doesn't speak in class. The teachers seemed to hold him in some kind of awed regard, probably because his father is a surgeon and if ever they need an operation it'll be Pa Cullen cutting them open, but why would Boy Wonder speak to me?

"Bamboo," I said, and the subtext was 'buzz off'.

I was obviously too subtle. He didn't go anywhere.

"My parents like this scaled-down big band stuff. I prefer classical. What do you think?" he said.

I thought with every privilege in the world he wouldn't be asking anyone else for their opinion.

Years ago I worked out a theory about how very clever, powerful men marry very beautiful women and if their progeny are neither clever or beautiful they fall by the wayside like ordinary mortals, thus paving the way for the genetically blessed offspring who are both beautiful and clever and will take over the world, being unopposed and unopposable.

Edward Gorgeous-in-a-predictable-way is one of those, and who cares? He can have the world and he can leave me alone.

"I don't like classical music," I said dismissively, but still he persisted in playing the gracious host.

"Can I get you a drink?" he asked.

I'd never really looked at him properly before, because he's just not in my sphere. I did then. I looked. I stared. I study fine art and we do plenty of drawing, and I am used to finding relationships between the parts and the sum of things. I am used to noticing details and textures and tints and shades and spaces in between. I look for assymmetry and mismatchings and glints and lines, and planes and surfaces. Scrutinizing him with such close analysis, I suddenly saw that he had nothing of his parents in him.

"Are you adopted?" I asked abruptly, and maybe the question was rude. It just came unbidden to my tongue.

He frowned.

"Yes," he answered simply, but there was a lot in his single-word admission, a whole lot.

"I didn't know that," I said, secure in my father's nose, and my mother's chin. Whose are Edward's features?

"Nobody knows. Nobody speaks to me," he said, shrugging.

My dad reckons I pick up lame dogs. Who would think the crown prince of Forks would be a lame dog?

"Why are you talking to me?" I asked him.

He shrugged again.

"Don't worry about it," he sighed, turning away.

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