Disclaimer in first chapter. If you want to know the progress of future chapters of any story I write, just check my profile. For those of you that commented or reviewed, my thanks go out to you. It's always nice to know how the chapter was perceived.

I was in a foul mood the next morning when I parked the Jeep in front of the school and grabbed my messenger bag from the passenger seat. It had been raining since midnight and the forecast was for even more throughout the next three days. Since I didn't own an umbrella, I pulled my leather jacket closed and made it a point to walk as determinedly as possible to the front door. Old habits die hard; it was ingrained into my body to take things slow and carefully due to my klutz years. As a result, my hair was soaked and dripping by the time I made it inside.

The blond boy that made the butt and legs comment on my first day was there holding the door open, trying his best to be chivalrous or something. It wasn't anything I was quite used to; in the past, boys tended to ignore me. Who wanted to be known for dating the short mousy haired girl with the flat chest? Nobody. Since I'd gotten the physical improvements it was like I'd been shoved into some alternate universe where I was one of the beautiful people. Needless to say, I had no clue how to deal with it very well.

"Hey, Bella. Some rain, huh?"

I didn't say anything and just kept on walking down the hall toward my locker when he set his hand on my shoulder trying to keep up. In the past, I wasn't used to one other thing: being touched, except for being bounced off of or shoved aside by those in whose way I got. The point is, I didn't like it one tiny bit.

"Hey, uh. Do you want…?"

He didn't even get the whole sentence out before I whipped around, baring my teeth in a hiss. That particular reaction caught him flatfooted, literally. With an abrupt halt in the small puddles I was leaving behind, his feet flew out from under him and the books he was holding went flying as he went down with a muted thump. Several of the people that were around us looked like they were about to laugh at the free entertainment before they caught sight of me, and their eyes widened in fright.

Crap. I forgot my glasses.

Turning around, I reached in my coat to pull out the rose colored glasses and put them on as I stalked further down the hall. Stopping by my locker, I grabbed my AP English reader, Government, and Physics books and slammed the door before heading to class.

The seat I'd been assigned in the back corner was still empty when I walked through the door, but then again only three other people were there. Class wasn't going to start for another fifteen minutes. That was plenty of time to text Charlie again about what happened the previous night.

Why haven't you called me back? What the hell is happening to me?

I hit send and silently cursed for the fiftieth time in for the last eight hours. There wasn't one interrupted minute of sleep the whole night as I had spent most of it scratching an itch that couldn't be satisfied no matter how much I tried. I was no stranger to self-gratification. Considering my appearance and social strata pre-cougar days, it was pretty much the only way to take care of business and remain sane.

However, nothing was to be done about my predicament. Meditation, masturbation, madefaction, thought manipulation… all of those M words that end in –tion, none of it did any good. My breathing started coming in short pants again and I thought, for a second that I'd have to leave school for the day; hell, probably for the week. That was until the damn funnel cake smell hit my senses once again.

A shaky breath slowly released itself from my chest when I realized that my eyes were closed. Opening them, I immediately spotted someone very familiar heading in my direction with a cute smile on her face. I squirmed in my seat at the pulsing ache making itself known again.

"Hello," the vampire girl said. "You ran off before we met. I'm Alice."

Clamping my thighs as tight as they would go, I forced a weak smile to my face. "Bella."

Out of all the seats in the entire classroom, she had to be assigned the one right next to me. Have I mentioned how much I hated Fate?

"Nice glasses. Dolce & Gabbana?"

They were round and rose-colored. That was all I was concerned about when I bought them. "Uh… I guess."

She grinned at me and I thought my stomach flipped right after.

"You buy designer glasses without even trying? A girl after my own heart."

Putting all spoken thoughts about the way Charlie was dressed the previous night, I absolutely have nothing against gay people, just like I have nothing against Christians, or politicians. They're all have their place in the grand scheme of things just like everyone else. The thing is, I've never looked at a single girl in my life and said to myself, "Wow, I'd really like to know what she tastes like in the morning after a long night under my thorough attentions." However, that was what was going on in my mind at the moment.

The side of my desk cracked as I gripped it without thinking. Alice's eyes widened at the damage and then flicked back to me with genuine concern.

"Your dad said that you'd be okay today. Was he wrong?"

My lips curled in and pressed together as I tried to settle myself to no avail. "I – I need…"

She turned her head and saw a couple of people come in the class while I gazed at the long line of her neck and wanted nothing more on this earth than to press my lips against her skin.

"I gotta go," I said.

Before I knew it I was back in my Jeep with my head pressed against the steering wheel trying to regain control of myself. My respiration was increased again and I really needed another cold shower. The frigid rain did nothing to help. What the heck was wrong with me that I couldn't keep it together for even ten minutes?

The sharp tapping at the passenger side window made me jump and accidently blast the horn at the same time. Alice stood just outside pointing to the closed lock and raising my messenger bag at the same time.


I flicked the autolock and she opened the door, shutting it behind her as she hopped in. Her scent immediately permeated the Jeep making it ten times worse than sitting in the open air classroom. For a moment I swooned.

"I really didn't want to go to school today anyway," she said with a delighted voice. "I mean who seriously wants to repeat high school even once much less dozens of times? Do you want to go to your place? I still haven't seen your house yet. Carlisle told everyone to stay clear until you said something."

I blinked at her rambling, thinking it was the cutest thing I'd ever heard, and I'm not a big fan of ramblers; who is?


She grinned at me and reached over to touch my hand. "You really have to expand on your vocabulary if we're going to have any decent conversations, Bella."

Alice paused and took in a deep breath through her nose and smiled. "It's so nice to smell someone that doesn't make me want to sink my teeth into them, yanno? I think that's why I don't like high school; too many unwashed masses, literally."

With a brief pause, she pulled her hand back and I could breathe again. Only this time I felt a small measure of control.

"So come on. Chop Chop. Let's go, before we get busted for skipping."


"Funnel cakes," I mumbled. My face was in my hands as I confessed.

Alice was delighted. "Seriously?"

The desire to jump Alice had eased off considerably the second she entered my house. I have no idea way, but I felt almost calm and content as she walked around looking at the pictures and knickknacks I had scattered in the living room. I felt somewhat useless as a hostess since I couldn't offer her anything to eat or drink unless I tapped a vein or something. Then I remembered that Charlie said we tasted like ass to vampires.

"Most people – well, vampires really – say I smell like jasmine, the flower, yanno?" At my nod she rambled on. "I mean everyone I meet smells like some kind of spice or flower… maybe a tree or fruit, except for the werewolves; they smell like a pack of wet dogs. Even your dad smells like the forest around here and let me tell you that's one hard man to track. But not you. You smell like the desert. It is like this sweet, dusty, earthy, lushy, wondrous, hard to describe smell. I just want to roll around in its sensuous scent."

I swallowed at the thought of Alice rolling around on me and tried desperately to think of something else. It seemed as if everything that came out of her mouth got twisted around in my head in some perverted way.

"That's probably oversharing a little, huh?"

Shaking my head, I couldn't imagine her oversharing at all.

"Cool. You're a good listener, Bella."

My face heated up a little at the compliment even though I hadn't done a thing to deserve it. "Thanks."

"So, do you want to talk about what happened last night?"


Before I had even thought of how to explain myself in a way that wouldn't make her run for the hills, Alice broke in with more of her thoughts.

"Your dad said it was something he couldn't talk about and that it was personal. Whatever it was had Jasper on his knees afterward and it's really hard to rattle him. He's an empath, you know, or maybe you don't."

I shook my head.

"Certain vampires have these gifts. Jasper can feel emotions and project emotions too. He had a really hard time dealing with whatever you sent out. Him and Tanya were holed up in their room for hours afterward. Even Edward was a little stricken. He's a telepath by the way – receiving only. This morning he couldn't make heads or tails of what you were thinking. He said it was like pure instinct or something; raw and powerful whatever that means."

I couldn't take anymore. Really, I tried. As soon as Alice brought up my embarrassing display of spazzmosis on their driveway, all I could think about was the aftereffects and my struggles in the bed for hours on end. Instead of trying to explain myself, I leaped. Alice was only a foot away, and with my cougar backing me up, speed wasn't an issue. A half second later and she was on her back staring up at me with wide, excited eyes.


The last thing I wanted to do was force myself on her, but my cougar was being very insistent that I do something, anything. Alice's hands were free and mine were caressing the sides of her face as a contented rumbling was coming from inside my head.

"Does this mean you like me?" she whispered.

In response, I started to lower my lips against hers and let nature take its course, but they only encountered a single finger barring the way.

"Bella," Alice said just as softly. "We haven't even gone on a date, and you haven't even bothered to ask me if I like girls in that way… not to mention Thercougars. Not that there's anything wrong with being a Thercougar. I've just never dated one. To tell the truth I haven't really even tried dating across the species line. I mean they all pretty much reek, except for you and Charlie, and he's not really my type."

Frustration at being denied ran through me and I pulled myself back, trying to quash the hormonal rage that I was feeling. Whatever it was that made me intensely attracted to a girl for the first time in my life roared in my head making my teeth grind together.

Without another word said, Alice back-flipped away from me and to her feet as gracefully as any Olympic gymnast. She frowned at me as I grabbed my hair at the sides and buried my face between my legs, moaning at the loss. As I was whining to myself I heard a couple of electronic beeps and Alice's voice once more.

"Charlie, it's Alice. I'm at Bella's house and we have a problem." There was a short pause after. "We'll be here."

After she stowed her cell away in her jacket, Alice came to sit beside me to tug away one of my hands, intertwining our fingers. The thing was I almost immediately felt better. The frustrated feeling didn't go away, but it had eased off considerably, letting me at least think of something else other than bedding the girl next to me. That was the messed up part. I had absolutely no idea what to do with her even if I had her. It wasn't like I knew anything or even wanted to know anything about sex between two girls. I'd probably make a fool out of myself in the process.

Strangely enough, that seemed to quell the fire that was burning inside.

"Just try to relax. Lean back and breathe deep. Charlie's on his way and he's going to explain what's going on."

Listening to Alice's advice, I leaned back and took a calming breath.

Funnel cakes… dammit.

"Can you talk about something… anything?" I almost begged.

"Sure," she said with a fair amount of glee. "Let's see. I can tell you about my family."

I nodded. Anything was fine. She could probably just read out of the phone book and I'd be happy.

"You… tell me about you."

Alice shrugged. "There's not much to tell about me. I was turned in 1920. Before that I don't have a clue. Total memory loss. That happens sometimes to vampires. I mean one minute it feels like I'm swimming my way through a volcano and the next, Poof! No memory. Which was probably a good thing, because I was wearing nothing but a dingy white shirt and pants. I mean seriously, can you see me dressed in dirty white clothes – and it was after labor day as well!"

I snorted, totally unintentionally.

"I know!" she said. "It was a mess."

Alice paused for a moment. Her smile faltered for a microsecond before she continued her history.

"Anyway, I did vampire things for the first couple of years until I had pretty decent control. By that time I started getting my visions tamed to the point where I could… well, not control them per se, but nudge them in certain directions."

That gave me pause. "Visions?"

She blinked at me and then wacked the side of her head with the heel of her hand. "Duh, sorry. That's my gift I see the future. Well, pieces of it anyway. It's sort of subjective. A decision has to be made and then I can see the outcome. Here, go ahead and make a decision about dinner and I'll tell you what you're going to eat."

Crooking an eyebrow at her I decided that I'd give it a whirl. Then I came to the conclusion that I'd go hunting for dinner, that maybe a full stomach would help me gain some more control. As I thought about it, Alice's face went blank, like she was seeing through my head at something behind me. Then it shifted again.

"Elk," she said with a grin. "A big sucker too – twelve pointer. I recognized the place. It's about ten miles north of here in a big clearing with…"

Alice paused for a second as she turned and looked at the front door. That's when I heard Charlie pulling up on the drive. My forehead wrinkled with minor annoyance. Now that he was here, I was perfectly fine. Yes, I still wanted to see what the nape of my new friend's neck tasted like after an hour between the sheets, but it wasn't any worse than any of my fantasies as a normal human. However, now that I'd magically regained control over my rampaging hormones, I knew that I didn't want Charlie inside the house giving it his fatherly cougar funk. The atmosphere was just the way I wanted it, saturated with funnel cake.

Taking a tighter grip on Alice's hand I pulled her up with me and headed toward the front door before Charlie had a chance to knock.

"Getting somewhat possessive, aren't we?"

I threw a look back and noticed Alice's eyes were on our hands. Now that I'd gotten a hold of her I wasn't letting go that easily. "Um… yeah."

"We still haven't had that first date," she reminded me. "And you still haven't asked me about the whole lesbian thing either."

What was it with her and dating? "We don't have to be going out to hold hands."

"Yes we do. Otherwise rumors get started, and before you know it one of us is pregnant and wearing a big red letter on her breast."

Shaking my head, I grabbed the doorknob. "You read way too much classic literature. We're girls; girls can hold hands, kiss each other, and even dance together without there being any social stigma attached."

Alice crooked an eye at my proclamation and I folded a half second after.

"Okay, fine. They can kiss each other's cheek."

"Better," she said as the sound of Charlie's car door being closed let us know we officially weren't alone. "Your daddy's here."

My nose crinkled at the thought of calling my biological father by that term of endearment. "He didn't raise me. He's just Charlie."

I opened the door and with a final breath of funnel cake'ness I escorted Alice out to the porch. There wasn't much wind, and the steady drizzle of rain calmed my cougar as it recognized its relation approaching. Charlie promptly noticed the hand holding with a mildly disgruntled twist of a cheek.

"I see you two have already figured it out."

That was enough to get my fur up, metaphorically . "Figured what out? What the hell is happening to me and why haven't you returned any of my texts?"

He stepped up on the porch to get out of the rain. "Any of your what?"

"My texts!" I reiterated. "I've sent like a dozen of them."

His brows furrowed as he lifted the flap of his jacket pocket and looked askance at the cell phone in grip. "Is that what that damn chirping is?"

Alice giggled at his realization, and I wondered if Charlie was perpetually stuck in the 1980's along with his Burnt Reynolds porn moustache, and his bathhouse shorts. And by the way, why would a parent name their kid Burnt? Seriously, one would think that the Chief of Police would be up with the times. How else does he solve crimes committed by teenagers?

"I still haven't figured out how to get these ticked off bird things off the screen. I let one kid play with it so he won't touch the evidence bags scattered around my desk and it hasn't been the same since," he said with a sour note. "Next time call me."

My face was frozen in disbelief.

"That's it. We're spending the next dinner catching you up to the new millennia," I said in all seriousness. "Now, what the heck is up with me?"

His eyes fell to Alice and then up to mine as he stored his cell away. "Maybe you better sit down for this."

Looking to the side, I spotted an assortment of extremely damp lawn chairs, but Alice squeezed my hand.

"I'm not sitting on those things. I'm wearing Calvin Klein today."

Feeling even more possessive and protective, for some odd reason, I volunteered to be the buffer. "You can sit on my lap."

Before she had a chance to offer an argument I scooped her up and dropped down on the seat with Alice perched nicely on one knee. My cougar purred with contentment in the back of my brain as Alice wiggled away.

"You've remember that thing I told you about with the wolf shifters – the imprint thing?" Charlie started as he leaned against the wooden railing.

Both my eyebrows rose in panic. "You don't mean…"

"No, it's not an imprint, but it's the closest thing to this that I can use as an example."

Alice stopped wiggling and her attention swiveled to Charlie. "Wait, what? What imprint thing?"

I squeezed her thigh. "The shifters… sometimes when they meet someone for the first time, they imprint on them. It's the shifter way of finding a wife." If I remembered properly what Charlie said at our first dinner.

"Right," he confirmed. "Cougars are solitary animals, so we don't really mate like that."

Before I had a chance to panic and call my father out on stalling, he explained.

"Usually, the male goes out of his territory and finds a suitable female, they have… um…" His cheeks pinked slightly.

"Sex," Alice supplied. "They get their freak on; the horizontal mambo…"

Charlie held his hands up in surrender before she had a chance to really get on a roll. "Right. That. Anyway, she gets pregnant and the male goes back to his territory."

I sighed and dragged a hand down my face with dubious frustration. "Are you telling me that you're a player?"


"You go around boinking half the state and don't even stick around to raise your kid? Do I have a truckload of brothers and sisters out there?"

"What? No." Charlie nearly barked. "I learned my lesson the first time with your mother. I use... um…"

"Condoms?" Alice supplied. "The tubular rain jackets? The purple ribbed lambskin…"

"Right… that."

I shook my head at the thought. It was best to not picture Charlie and some random girl in some seedy hotel room with Barry White playing in the background. He was fixated on the '80s for some reason. My new problem was that still didn't answer what was going on with me. Somehow I seriously doubted that I was looking at Alice to bear my children, or vice versa for that matter. There were certain pieces of anatomy that played a vital part of that process, and the last time I checked I wasn't sporting any new appendages. At that thought, I looked warily down at Alice's lap and tried not to bring to mind freaky Futa pictures from the internet.

It was best to just cut to the chase. "What's all of this have to do with me and Alice?"

Charlie shrugged. "It's the best that I can come up with. I've never heard or seen it happen to cougars of the same… uh."

Alice smiled. "Sex."

She seemed to take some sort of perverted pleasure out of making my father as uncomfortable as possible. Not that it wasn't funny, but I had bigger fish to fry.

"So, you're saying I want to mate with Alice."

The aforementioned pixie sized vampire patted me on the arm. "I think he means you want to have sex with me, Bella. And truthfully, who wouldn't? I am quite the catch."

"And so modest too."

Charlie rolled his eyes. "It's just a phase. In a few days the urge will pass and you can get back to normal. That's why I thought you had figured it out," he said as he gestured to us. "Sometimes just being in close proximity takes the edge off."


Alice leaned in and enlightened me. "I think he means that you're in heat, honey."

I stiffened at the thought. No, this couldn't be happening. There was no way that God would do this to me; not after everything else that's been piled on my plate for the last month. To be a victim of cougar sexual physiology as well… it was too much.

"So," Charlie said as he stepped away from the railing. "That's all I've got. Alice, you'll do me a favor and stick around Bella for the next couple of days?"


Just when I think the day couldn't have gotten any worse, Alice pops up with a signed doctor's note excusing me for being tardy and we wind up going back to school.

"How did you get that?"

"Carlisle is an emergency department doctor at the local hospital. We've each got a stack of these. So, all I have to do is fill in the name and date."

There was something that should be out of the ordinary, um, besides the whole vampire thing.

"He's a vampire working in a hospital? Shouldn't there be a conflict of interest or something?"

Alice smiled as she looked over at me from the passenger side of the Jeep. "One would think. Carlisle has amazing control over his bloodlust. Edward is pretty good as well. Tanya's over a thousand years old so she can pretty much take it or leave it, but the rest of us have to actually struggle."

The wheel of the Jeep twitched and I found myself hitting the brake, the accelerator, and nearly pitching the vehicle as I ran off the road, into a ditch and back up to the road again. Yep, it was a great idea to put mud tires on this thing. Klutz!Bella was back with a vengeance.

"A thousand years old!"

Alice bounced in her seat. "That was fun! Let's do it again!"

I just glared at her in response.

It was one thing to want to have fun when you're a vampire. There wasn't a whole lot out there that could actually hurt you. In Alice's case, with no unfriendly vamps in the area all she had to concern herself with was being engulfed in a ball of flame long enough to ignite the venom in her body. Me? I had to heal any damage the hard way, and if it was bad enough, I could die.

"Party pooper."

Desperate to change the subject, I brought my gaze firmly back to the road. "So, how are we supposed to work this out?"

Alice grinned naughtily. "You mean the fact that you're in heat and you need little ol' me to put out the flame?"

I grit my teeth. "Would you quit saying that!"

My hand got condescendingly patted for that outburst. "It's part of your physical makeup, Bella. There's nothing to be ashamed of. We all have our embarrassing traits to deal with. Vampires, for instance, we have an overly keen sense of smell, even moreso than cougars according to Charlie."

That wasn't very surprising. While cougars had an overdeveloped sense of smell akin to your average cat, we're more of a visual hunter and ambush predator. So, while I smelled a lot of scents wherever I went, I figured the wolves and vamps probably had me on that particular problem.

"I was stuck on a plane coming up here from Phoenix. I know how bad it can get," I said with empathy.

"Oh, no," Alice laughed. "Try going to high school with my nose. I can smell every single person in the school, what they had for dinner, if they bothered to bathe that day, what type of perfume they wear, and the effectiveness of their panty liner. Jasper has it the worst in that area. That's why he always looks constipated. All of that together, every day, is the worst smell except for maybe the wolves."

As I pulled into the school parking lot, I looked over at her. "Which one's Jasper?"

"The blonde shaggy haired one."

"Ah, powdered sugar."

Alice snorted. "That's what he smells like to you?"

I nodded.

"He'll like that."


We went our separate ways after dropping our doctor's notes off at the front office. When Alice disappeared around the corner, my edginess was back, but it was at least manageable. I returned my first two class's textbooks and pulled out a Calculus and Art History to replace them before heading to Physics.

That particular class had another vampire in it, Sweet Tarts, if my nose remembered properly. Her eyes narrowed slightly as they followed me from the teacher's desk to my seat in the far corner away from her. As I sat, she fingered a lock of curly hair behind her ear and returned her attention back to the day's lesson while I pondered my predicament.

Suffering from embarrassment seemed to be one of the things that I never escaped from when I started turning feline at the drop of a hat. The days of heated cheeks and the feeling that my stomach was turning over a dozen times in less than a minute were far from over. Leaving the big city and moving to Forks had solved a number of problems, but it had created just as many to replace the ones I'd lost; the biggest wound up being my lack of intelligence.

No, I'm not stupid. Cruising through high school in advanced classes and scoring straight A's on my report card was proof enough. It was my ignorance regarding the supernatural that made my stomach turn. It wasn't like I could go to the local book store and peruse the non-fiction section for Thercougar DIY guides. Charlie was my one and only source for information and he had a real job that took up most of his time.

Granted, he had already spent a couple of evenings giving me the lowdown on the most important stuff I needed to know to survive. However, Alice Cullen and my supposed need to have her satisfy my mating needs for the next few days posted a big red question mark in the Desperately Need to Know file of my brain.

So, there was no literature I could refer to in regard to my cougar's needs. That left me with two choices: I could continue to run around clueless for the rest of my life, or I could do something about it. Considering my academic acuity, I settled for the latter.


I swept the crowded hallway in front of me with my eyes as the masses were heading to the cafeteria. Before I even had a chance to take a single step, a cool hand slipped onto the crook of my arm and the smell of funnel cakes smothered the itchy feeling that was crawling along my skin for the last hour and an half.

"Sit with us?"

My eyes dropped to Alice as she stood there flashing me an expectant smile. With a nod of assent toward her I felt a slight pull as I was lead to the far wall where two tables were pushed together. Sweet Tarts and Fudge were already there. White Chocolate and Powdered… Jasper were coming off the ala carte line each baring a tray with the day's mystery meat on top. I sat my messenger bag down in the seat Alice pointed out and we made our way to the snack bar.

"I thought you guys didn't eat normal food."

Alice shrugged. "We don't. There's something to be said for going through the motions. We fit in better that way."

That made no sense to me. I mean, why waste the money and the food? All you had to say was that you didn't like the slop they served at school. It wasn't like anyone would question a decision like that. There were a whole slew of people back in Phoenix that used lunch time to simply gossip. There were cheerleaders, dance team members, and bulimic wannabes that wouldn't even consider eating anything that wasn't prepared by their parents or personal chefs. Of course, things ran a little more conservative in small towns in the middle of nowhere.

Alice acquired a chef's salad and I grabbed three burgers again before we made it back to the table under the intense gaze of White Chocolate.

I observed his eyebrows wrinkling and then doing a little dance as he stared at me, while Alice played hostess.

"Edward, Emmett, Rosalie, and Jasper, this is Bella," she said cheerfully. "Bella, my family. Oh, by the way, Jazzy, Bella says you smell like Powdered Sugar."

Jasper's mouth ticked at the corner and seemed to lose the smallest amount of tension along his cheeks. I just tried to ignore it and concentrated on building my triple burger under Rosalie's moderately disgusted watchful eye.

"I can't read you."

My eyes ticked up to White Chocolate, now known as Edward Cullen. My normal response to that would be something less than polite, but with Alice sitting right beside me I didn't want to tick her off.

"It's like you're a chaos of instinct with no thought behind anything," he continued.

I cocked my head to the others as they sat there probably waiting for an explanation.

"Edward," Alice said, saving me from having to make up something on the spot. "Quit being rude."

With a shrug of my shoulders I slapped a bun on the top of my burger and took a bite while I thought about his observation and swallowed.

"Can you read Charlie?"

"He's muddled, but I can always get the gist of his thoughts. That's why I trust him as a go-between with the wolves."

It was obvious what was happening, even to a teenager. "You can't read my innermost thought so you can't trust me? That's rich."

"It's not a matter of trust," Jasper said guardedly. "It's a matter of safety."

This was the first time I'd gotten a really good look at the shaggy blond haired guy. It was his bare neck that made me slightly uneasy, that and the nearly imperceptible arc of scars that decorated either side. A normal human would have never been able to perceive them except perhaps in an intense light. After taking in the high collar of his shirt and the long sleeves he wore even at home, I concentrated on his hands and found even more.

This was definitely a very dangerous individual. That was the only reason I let his comment go. Obviously the safety of his coven was of high importance, since he was the one that probably stood in its defense.

"I'm a live and let live kind of girl, Jasper. You've got nothing to fear as long as you don't threaten me."

Edward leaned into the table most seriously. "Even when you're phased?"

I felt Alice shift beside me as I took in her posture from my peripheral vision. She was tense, but I couldn't tell if it was from me or the actions of her coven brothers.

"Did I eat you last night? Did I do anything physically to make you think that I was going to attack, or did I simply think in a way that you uncomfortable with? Big Brother's thought police are alive and well."

His lips firmed. I suppose it was all up to perception. Considering he was a mind reader that point was up for grabs, but I didn't have to sit there and take the abuse. If they didn't want me around then there was a nice circular table over in the corner that served just as well.

"Now if you'll excuse me," I said as I stood and took hold of my tray in one hand and my bag in the other. "Apparently I'm not wanted here."

Alice's hand rose in protest of my leaving, and then dropped again as did her lips in a deep frown. Kicking my chair out of the way, I stalked along the tables with a scowl on my face, returning to my self-sentenced solitary confinement in the corner. Several people leaned away from me as I passed, mild fear, concern, and a touch of disgust was obvious from their reactions. The blond hair kid from earlier in the morning looked ready to drop a load in his jeans when my head turned to him briefly. Ignoring them seemed to be the most prudent thing.

As I passed each table, heated whispers of red eyes, and the psycho girl from Phoenix were on most people's lips. With a sigh, I set my tray down and found the curly haired girl from the previous day briefly looking up at me when I took my new chair.

So much for my new looks making it easier to acquire a few friends. It was almost like being back home. At least the itching on my skin was easing up. I guess anger pretty much trumps lust anytime.