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Seducing Ms Swan

Summary:
AU Post-New Moon. Bella never jumped, Alice never had her vision and Edward never came back. Six years later, Bella is struggling to make a new life for herself as a teacher in Rochester, New York. How will she fare when a very familiar student crops up in her classroom? Will she be able to remain professional, or will old ties get in the way? Edward is convinced that getting Bella back is just a matter of 'persuasion', but Bella isn't prepared to be that cooperative. What's more, she's in the grip of a dark secret which threatens to prevent her from loving ever again. Bella Swan is slipping under...


Notes:
Thankyou to twike for beta work. Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.


4. Siberia

Rating 3.7/5   Word Count 4297   Review this Chapter

*~*~*

Don't speak
I know what you're thinking
I don't need your reasons
Don't tell me cause it hurts

*~*~*

When I first woke up next morning, it took me a full minute to remember why I felt so awful. Every part of my body ached as though I had been fighting in armed combat; my eyes stung from the salt of dried tears and my throat was painfully dry. At first I tried to remember what nightmare I had been having that had caused such extreme fatigue, before the previous day's events came rushing back to me with sickening clarity.

They were back. The Cullens were back in Rochester; Edward was a student in my class

"Ugh," I groaned as I rolled onto my side and screwed my eyes tight in the vain hope that if I kept them shut I would go back to sleep and the day would stop happening. Unfortunately, the lack of sight seemed to give my over-active mind more space to wander and the memories resumed with a heightened fervour.

Edward in my classroom, the light glinting off his bronze hair and his honey eyes gleaming as he whispered my name…

I wrenched open my eyelids and sat up straight. "Stop it," I admonished myself in a hoarse voice, "stop thinking about him." The pictures ceased and for a fleeting moment I felt triumphant… until I remembered that I was arguing with my own subconscious. Resigned to the fact that I was clearly headed for full-blown insanity, I reluctantly forced myself out of bed and got ready for work.

I could not silence my thoughts forever, however, and it wasn't long before I again found them dwelling on Edward. Where was he now? How would he have explained his sudden departure to the school? To his family? And, the question whose answer I cared about the most, was he thinking of me? It was a silly hope and mostly unfounded, but one that I could not ignore all the same. Call it wishful thinking, but I thought I had seen a glimmer of emotion in Edward's eyes beyond ordinary surprise yesterday. Not enough to satisfy my desires by any account, but I was sure that Edward had been more affected by our meeting than he had let on. Could it be that he had missed me, even slightly? Or, I hardly dared to even think it, that he harbored regrets about leaving me? I looked at myself in the mirror as I brushed my teeth, feeling slightly more hopeful.

But then I felt my convictions ebb away as quickly as they had come as I looked at my reflection again. My hair was dull and unmanageable; my skin was blotchy and there were dark circles under my eyes that no amount of cover-up could ever conceal. I looked a mess. Of course Edward didn't love me or indeed feel anything towards me; if he did then he would have said something to me yesterday; he would have followed when I left the classroom; in fact, he never would have left in the first place. I was plain and ordinary, painfully so, and it was delusional to think that someone like me could ever be fitting for someone like Edward. The honest truth was that if Edward really loved me then he never would have left. He did not want me; he had said so in the forest and no amount of fantasizing on my part could ever reverse those words.

*~*~*

By the time I had reached work, I was completely convinced of Edward's indifference towards me and as I got off of the bus and headed across the snowy parking lot I was idly wondering where he and his family would go next. I had just settled on Canada, when I saw them.

Emmett, Rosalie, Alice and Jasper were standing on the other side of the parking lot, engaged in what looked like a serious discussion. I stood gawking on the spot, unable to look away. I was almost as surprised by seeing them as I had been by Edward the day before. What were they still doing here? I had been so certain that they would have left Rochester immediately after learning of my presence; yet here they were, their familiar faces as unnaturally beautiful and eye-catching as ever. However, Edward, I suddenly realized, was not present.

I quickly threw a sweeping glance over my surroundings, but there was no sign of him. What does this mean? I asked myself, but I was at a loss to answer. Of course, Edward could have left without his family, but I doubted that that was the case. The Cullens were a united entity; where one went the rest followed. I had learnt that to my peril in Forks.

I looked back to the others who were still talking. I dithered for a while over whether I should approach them or simply keep walking, when my decision was suddenly made for me. Their conversation ended abruptly as Emmett looked over Alice's head and saw me. He murmured something to the other three and they too stared at me, silently. My face suddenly felt very hot and I turned away quickly, embarrassed. I didn't feel up to discussing why their brother had deserted them, if that was indeed what he had done. Sure that they would not follow me, I scurried away to my first class which was, thankfully, the other side of campus.

The rest of the day passed without sightings of the Cullens. As I moved through my lessons one by one I felt myself settle comfortably back into the swing of school life. This is how the first day of the semester should have gone, I thought as I set assignments and answered questions with surprising ease. Now that Edward was gone I could focus again and I found myself actually able to relax. Even the discovery that I had the juniors- Edward's class- again after Lunch could not put me off and I left the staff room in a comparatively good mood.

As I turned the corridor into Block 12, however, I came to a sudden halt. I thought I had seen a flash of bronze by the door into my classroom… but no, that was impossible. I was just imagining things again. I shook my hair out of my eyes, took a deep breath and walked through the door... only to find myself frozen again. Edward was sitting in the same seat he had yesterday, leaning nonchalantly against the wall, apparently oblivious to the blatant stares he was receiving from every single female student in the room.

As I stood there in a state of supreme shock, he looked around and our eyes met. For a fraction of a second it felt as though he was trying to communicate something through his gaze, but before I could be sure he looked away again.

I shakily made my way to my seat, absolutely dumfounded. I had been so certain that he would leave; not once had it occurred to me that he might stay. What was he still doing here? Why hadn't he left like last time? My mind went into overdrive as I examined every plausible reason for Edward's sustained presence, but none seemed to fit. The only conclusion I could draw was that, for some incomprehensible reason, Edward felt that he had some 'unfinished business' where I was concerned. That did not bode well at all for me and my mind was filled with dread.

The lesson passed in another haze. On seeing Edward all my confidence of the morning had swiftly evaporated, to be replaced by a sick feeling of confusion and uncertainty. While I lectured the class on Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcys' love, my thoughts were really focusing on my own feelings for Edward. I continually stole glances at him from the corner of my eye, looking away as soon as he spotted me. The whole situation was becoming almost comical in its childishness. As the last five minutes of the lesson inched past and I gave the class their next assignment, I came to a decision. I would not wait around to find out why Edward had stayed in Rochester; I doubted that I could even speak to him without crying. Without the element of surprise, it would be harder to successfully execute a repeat of yesterday's swift escape from the classroom, but I had to try nonetheless.

The bell rang and the entire class suddenly got to its feet. They surged towards the door in an unruly rabble, talking and laughing very loudly. Even without looking, I could sense that Edward, restrained by human speed, was stuck behind the mob. I had to leave before he had the chance to speak to me. I wrestled with my bag, trying to stuff my possessions in as quickly as possible but managing to get my coat caught up in the zip in the process. Hurry hurry hurry! My brain screamed. If I didn't get out in the next few seconds then everything was lost. Edward would undoubtedly corner me and then what would I do? I winced- it was excruciating just thinking about a conversation with Edward; time for a speedy exit. I finally got my bag closed with a triumphant 'Ha!' and I looked up.

It was too late.

Unnoticed by me in my fight with the bag, the entire classroom had emptied of students… except one. Edward was standing by the door, his body hard and rigid like he had been carved from stone. I instantly felt my heart rate speed up and cursed myself; he would be able to hear every beat. I glanced at the door and then back at his still figure, judging my chances of escape. Perhaps if I just strode past him without looking him in the eyes, he would let me go without comment. Deciding it was my only hope, I steeled myself and walked towards the door, my eyes set firmly upon the corridor ahead. For a few incredulous moments, it actually seemed to be working. I was almost three feet from the door and he hadn't spoken yet. With a thrill of relief, I sped up my pace. Three steps, two, on-

"Bella," his voice murmured. I felt my hope shatter into pieces. Unwillingly, I let my eyes drag to meet his and was again struck by the unadulterated perfection of his appearance. It was just so unfair that anyone could be so really, really, ridiculously good-looking, I thought to myself, as my eyes gorged themselves on every minute detail of his beautiful form.

"Hello Edward," I breathed as I tore my eyes away from him. There was no way I could avoid a conversation with him now; my only hope was to make it as brief as possible. There was an awkward pause, before he broke the silence.

"How have you been?" he asked, hesitantly. I stared at him, incredulity etched over every inch of my face. How did he think I had been? Either he was just being polite, or he really had no idea about how he had destroyed me. Or perhaps it was just more comfortable for him to pretend that I had never really been that obsessed. He cleared his throat quietly and I suddenly realized that I still had not answered his question.

AWFUL! I wanted to scream, I want you, I love you, why did you have to leave me?

"Fine," I answered. Basic manners forced me to extend the question to him and he replied similarly. Our stilted conversation continued for a couple more minutes as we enquired after each other's families. My embarrassment coupled with the chaotic emotions I felt when I looked at Edward made it very hard for me to engage in the conversation. To make it even more difficult he was constantly gazing searchingly at me with unnerving intensity and I found it very hard to meet his eyes for longer than a few seconds. It was not until the topic changed and I asked him where he had been living before Rochester that I forgot to feel awkward.

"Siberia?!" I exclaimed, astonished. That was definitely not one of the answers I had been expecting him to give. I immediately began to wonder why he had chosen somewhere so very far away… until, with a feeling of mortification, I understood. Siberia is the furthest place away from me. The thought that Edward was so desperate to put distance between us that he felt the need to travel half way across the globe was nearly enough to send me into another nervous breakdown. I did not trust myself to speak again lest I descended into tears and therefore determinedly refrained from looking at him, instead choosing to play morosely with the corner of my sleeve, all the while internally wondering when Edward would let me go, ending this ordeal.

Unfortunately however, he seemed unable to take a hint.

"Uh, Bella," he said, his velvety voice halting, "I… well, what I mean to say is…" Against my better judgement, I looked up at him curiously. Edward had never had difficulty in expressing himself before; even in the tensest of moments words had always come easily to him. I wondered what had changed. I watched as he took a deep breath and tried again.

"Well, basically Bella, we need to talk." I felt my body shut down at once at his words; they reminded me forcibly of the ones he had said that night in Forks before he had discarded me forever. And then suddenly, with a rush of dreadful certainty, I made the connection; he was going to do it again. For whatever reason, leaving Rochester to get away from me had not been a viable option for him and now he was going to resort to the only other way of protecting himself from me: reiterating the sentiments he had left me with six years ago.

I knew he was just seconds away from reminding me of his lack of feelings… and suddenly, I realized that I didn't want to hear it. Not now, not after all these years. I knew he didn't love me; I didn't need to hear him confirm it. Hearing the words again would be infinitely more painful than just accepting them and surely there was only so much damage one heart could take, before I broke into pieces altogether?

"Please Edward," I said, not quite managing to hide the pleading tone of my voice, "don't do this."

His eyebrows knitted and he looked at me, perplexed. “But Bella, I have to-“

"No, you don't." Why was he so determined to break my heart again? Did he really think that I could have forgotten his parting words of rejection? The very idea was ludicrous.

"But," Edward continued with a confused but determined look on his beautiful face. His resolute countenance told me that I couldn't fight him forever and I racked my brains for words that would persuade him that I was not going to try and rekindle our relationship.

"Please Edward," I implored, my chest aching with anticipation of the seemingly inevitable agony of being rejected, again, “I know what you’re about to say and I don’t want to hear it. I can’t honestly say that I feel the same way and I’m truly sorry for that, but I accept that it’s how you feel and I’ll try my hardest not to make things awkward for you,” I paused slightly, before adding, dishonestly, "It's been six years and I've moved on, so can we please just put it all behind us?"

The lie rolled off of my tongue with shocking ease. It made no difference if I had six years or six hundred; I would never move on from Edward.

"Bella, I don't think you understand me," he persisted, his low voice harried.

I started to feel a slight flush of irritation. Of course I understood him, did he really feel the need to spell out his repulsion syllable by syllable?

"On the contrary," I replied, "I understand you perfectly."

He did not immediately reply and I inwardly breathed a sigh of relief. However when I looked back to his face the emotions there surprised me. Whilst I had expected him to look relieved at my words, his reaction made absolutely no sense to me. He was staring at me with a mixture of frustration and- if I hadn’t known better, I would have sworn it was- hurt? But that was absurd; how could anything I had to say possibly have that sort of effect on Edward?

He continued to stare at me relentlessly and I began to feel very uncomfortable. It suddenly occurred to me that I had no idea whether my mental 'barrier' to his abilities was still in effect; he could be listening to my thoughts at this very moment. I had to find out- I had nothing to lose; if he could hear my thoughts then he would have already learnt of my continued longing for him. Edward, I thought, slightly hesitantly; I had never communicated with him like this before; I still love you. I always have and always will and I wish with all my heart that you felt the same away. I held my breath, scrutinising his face to see whether he had heard me.

There was no reaction.

My relief was tinged with a faint feeling of disappointment as I came to the conclusion that my thoughts were still as indecipherable to him as they were when I was a teenager. Edward spoke again, forcing me to meet his eyes once more.

“Are you sure this is how you really feel?” he asked. His velvety voice was restrained, but his eyes continued to bore into me with a strange sort of urgency. The question surprised me. Why did he care whether it was true or not; surely his only concern was that I would not attempt to pursue him now our paths had crossed once more? However although I didn't understand the reasons behind his question, I knew one thing for certain concerning my answer: I had to set him free. I had to assure him, once and for all, that I had absolutely no expectations of him. Forcing myself not to cry, I stared him doggedly in the face and spoke, my voice slow and measured.

"Yes, it is." As soon as the words had left my lips I felt the familiar ripping pains through the fault line in my chest. I hunched slightly and wrapped my arms tightly around my torso, but despite the consequences I felt no desire to retract my statement. It was done; there was no going back. The agony in my chest was placated slightly by the fact that I had given Edward a chance at happiness because I valued his contentment more than anything and, although it killed me, I was glad that he at least didn't seem to have gone through the hell I had for the past six years.

However although my feelings may have been the height of benevolence, my body did not react accordingly. I felt my eyes fill with the hot tears I had so far been repressing. Damn you Bella! I berated myself, you can’t cry in front of him; it’ll ruin everything!

I couldn’t stand it any longer; I had to get away. I sidestepped Edward, not daring to spare him another glance, and walked hurriedly past towards the door. In my haste I managed to catch the heel of my shoe on the leg of a desk; I prepared myself for the inevitable crash… but it didn’t come. A deliciously familiar pair of strong arms stopped my fall and snaked around my waist, encasing in me in a protective embrace.

I spun around to see Edward looking slightly surprised at his own actions, as though he had acted without thought. I expected him to release me immediately, repulsed or at least slightly embarrassed by our sudden proximity. I was shocked, therefore, by the look on his face. For a second, it almost looked as though he was making some sort of internal decision. Then his brow smoothed, the corners of his lips curled up in his lusciously familiar crooked smile and his eyes began to smolder. I could feel my body freeze as he took another step towards me, completely closing the distance between us and causing our bodies to press against each other.

Oh my God.

I couldn’t think, I could hardly breathe; all I could see was Edward. His chest and shoulders, so perfectly defined; his scintillating skin, the wayward locks of his bronze hair falling casually into his eyes… oh my God, his eyes. Even if my mind had been able to form sentences, there weren't words to describe the way he was currently looking at me. If it hadn't been for his support I surely would have collapsed, melting into a blithering pool of liquid on the floor. Deep inside me I felt an impulse, from the only rational part of my mind that was still functioning, telling me to get away.

This is wrong Bella, he's your student, you'll lose your job, you'll get arrested!

The last one registered the most strongly. Hard as it was to believe, to the human eye, Edward was underage and therefore most definitely 'off limits'. It was unwise for me to spend any length of time alone with him outside class, let alone in such exceedingly compromising positions. The sensible part of me was screaming for me to run… but it was incredibly hard to do anything when he was looking at me in such an erotic way. I cringed; hoping the words 'erotic' and 'student' would never again occupy the same thoughts in my mind.

The jeopardy of the situation was just beginning to fully dawn on me and my excitement was giving way to terror, when things were suddenly taken completely out of my hands.

"Bella," Edward whispered, his sweet breath caressing my face. And then it was all over. Something inside of me snapped and I leaned in even closer as though magnetically drawn to him. Through my shirt I could feel a low rumble building up in his chest, making my entire body buzz. Our faces were now nearly touching; it would be so easy to close the distance, bringing my mouth to his to claim those perfect lips once more… I breathed in his heady scent and closed my eyes, leaning even closer in the search of breathtaking oblivion…

Without warning, Edward ripped from my grasp with a bone-shattering force and sped across the room, coming to a halt by the window. I felt the rejection as hard as if I had been hit by a speeding truck. My muscles locked into place as I tried to fight the feeling of my insides being ripped apart. I staggered to my desk, gripping the side for support to prevent me from falling over.

YOU IDOT, my thoughts screamed, what the HELL were you THINKING? He doesn't love you Bella!

I should have known and I wanted to slap myself for being so damn ridiculous. I was nothing to Edward anymore; I was just an inconvenient reminder from his past, an embarrassing mistake he'd rather forget about. How desperate must I look to him now? I felt the tears begin to fall as the shame and horror of what I had just done washed over me. I brushed them away furiously and turned my face away from Edward. In fact, I was so busy trying to ignore him that I didn't hear the banging on the door until the fourth or fifth knock.

"Y-yes?" I stuttered, blinking back my tears as I turned to see the door open. It was Emily Demarco, a leggy senior with brown eyes and long black hair.

"Uh, hi Ms Swan," she began in her thick Bronx accent, "I'm sorry to interrupt, but I've got a question about today's assignment…" her voice trailed off as her eyes began to trace Edward's profile appreciatively. Despite my prior humiliation, I still felt a flash of unreasonable jealousy at the way she was looking at him. I cleared my throat and Emily turned back to face me immediately, slightly embarrassed.

"You aren't interrupting anything Emily," I said, my voice cold and my gaze firmly away from Edward, "Mr Cullen was just about to leave." From behind me I heard him begin to protest.

"No, wait, I-"

"That will be all, please close the door on your way out," I said to the air, without looking at Edward. The steely attitude I had suddenly adopted was just a front- a coping mechanism to deal with the pain of his rejection- but it was necessary in order to conceal my despair from Edward. I could hear him pause behind me, as though making a decision, and then I felt him sweep past me silently. He stopped again in the doorway and I could feel his eyes upon me but I continued to stare unseeingly at the floor. After a few seconds he turned and left, slamming the door behind him. I winced at the noise and saw my grip tighten on the edge of the desk until my knuckles were white with the strain.

With a deep breath I forced myself to look up to face Emily, who looked at me with astonished eyes. "So Emily," I said jerkily, each word a supreme effort, "how can I help you?"

*~*~*