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Life Beloved

Summary:
About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him - and I don't know if it even existed in my present circumstances - that might have thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him. But... Daniel?


Notes:
Edward? With Tanya. Bella? Heart broken. ... Just friends, right?


1. First Sight

Rating 5/5   Word Count 6504   Review this Chapter

1. First Sight

Oh, get up, you useless animal!” Renee screams and kicks me. I whimper on the floor, aware that blood is leaking out of a bruise. I try to inhale through my swollen lips, knowing that if I faint it will only make Renee angrier. Phil gazes at us with impassive eyes, leaning against the doorway. I drag myself into a sitting position by the help of a table. It falls down.

Now look what you’ve done! You idiot! See, you’re so fat that you broke the table! You’re a... you're a bitch, nothing else!”

I whimper once more and try to crawl to the door, except Phil pushes me with the toe of his shoe so I’m in front of Renee again. Her eyes are crazed, and froth is coming out of her mouth. She kicks me in the stomach this time, enhancing the lovely bruise that has already formed there.

Get out of my life! You are the worst mistake ever! Get lost! Go to hell!” Her voice rises so high that for a while she can’t make any sound. Her face is as red as a beetroot. Phil takes her hand and pulls her away. From my mangled position on the floor, I hear Phil talking.

Good job, darling, she needed a lesson…”

Thanks, dear, we just have to get rid of her now…”

--

Life had no meaning anymore. Well, it never did, but that didn’t matter. Nothing.

The sun beat down on my uncomfortably exposed shoulders, lightening the off-shoulder turquoise full-sleeve I was wearing – the cheapest thing I could find as a parting gift for myself. I was sweating profusely in it, and even wishing I was in Forks. That happened a lot since I turned fourteen. In my hands, I held a thick sweater and a white parka. Her newest car – a glossy silver convertible – shone in the bright glare. My long, plain brown hair flew behind me even as I tried to hold it down. Renee turned the music higher, and the wind was filled with classical music; it sounded odd in a modern, state-of-the-art convertible car.

Even as I remembered his words for what might have been literally the millionth time, I could not stop the way my eyes moistened and a fault line in my heart tore open, the way my breath stopped. Just by saying his name, I would seize up, trying to control the sudden shudders of pain. Renee would look at me pityingly, but would make no move to try to help me – she would probably get a bucket of popcorn and enjoy the show.

I closed my eyes tightly and pressed my hands to my head, almost as if the pressure could force the painful memories away. I couldn’t – they came as always, inevitable, my heart breaking all over again.

"What on earth did you think, Bella? That I actually liked you? That I actually wasted four months of time on you? You’re worth nothing. You’re pathetic. I can’t believe you fell for it. I used you, and no one gives a damn about you. It’s not over – it never was."

I swallowed the lump painfully, my eyes stinging with fresh tears. I wasn’t worth anything. No one should have to waste their precious time on me. I was useless, unlovable, unwantable. Fat. Ugly. Stupid. What was it? I was pathetic.

Dan…

My breath caught in a gasp and I stopped breathing. Stop saying his name! I bit down on my lip hard, trying in vain not to shout out. What had I done wrong? I bit down harder, accidentally drawing blood. It smarted for a while in the streaming wind; I internally smiled. Something can hurt me worse than you, Daniel.

“Don’t you dare have fun.” Renee’s voice broke through my internal gloom. She was obviously putting on her ‘nice mother’ – yeah, right – charade, because people stared curiously as the passed the flashy car. I turned to her slowly, wiping my bottom lip.

“Of course,” I said. Even to me, my voice was lifeless. Dead. “I can’t. Not allowed to.”

Renee smiled. “Of course you can’t. I taught you well. Now, good thing that Daniel finally realized that you’re worth nothing, funny joke, even I have to say—” I was surprised that she still kept the façade up. Obviously, in other circumstances, I would have been beaten for just replying. The large sweater hid the bruises and cuts on my torso. The jeans protected my legs.

I cut her off, turning back to face the front. “Shut up,” I said quietly. The pain in my voice was apparent. The moisture was returning, and I fought against it valiantly.

Renee turned to me dangerously. She smiled, and put a hand on my arm, pushing up my sleeve. She dug her nails into my skin. “I’m sorry, hon, what was that?” Her long, fake nails pressed so hard that trails of blood dripped out, dropping on to my jeans. Hopefully it would seem like a pattern on the trousers. She dug even harder, until I wrenched my hand away.

“I am worth nothing, just a useless piece of garbage in your perfect life,” I recited tonelessly. She smiled again, the glint in her eye merciless.

“Good. And?”

“I should be more like you, except I can never be like that; I’m fat, ugly, stupid, pathetic. I don’t deserve to live, and if I tell anyone, I won’t.”

She pulled away, humming to herself. I faced forward, just as the car jerked to a stop. I put my hand on the door, before Renee slapped it. Hard. “Don’t touch my car, you’ll dirty it!” She gingerly leaned around me and pushed the door open. I was about to step out, when she clutched my collar and brought my face within inches of hers. I flinched away from the smell of smoke and menace in her voice. “Tell Charlie,” she started dangerously. “Tell anyone,” she amended, “and you will wish you were never born.”

I kept quiet. I already did that. Every single hour, minute, second of my useless no-life. I grabbed my luggage and didn’t look back. I will never, ever return to Phoenix again.

--

Charlie had been fairly nice about the whole ordeal, even though I had never kept my distaste for Forks exactly a secret. He knew why I was here, anyways – actually, didn’t, he thought it was my other problem – and he didn’t have the heart to protest. He seemed genuinely pleased that I chose to stay with him for the first time, permanently – he met me smiling at the airport, pulling me into an awkward, one-armed hug. He didn’t see me wince on his shoulder as he thumped one of the sore spots on my back. I bit back a whimper.

Charlie walked me to his cruiser, parked idle outside the Port Angeles airport. It was raining – big surprise. I was too knowledgeable to see this as an omen – I merely registered it as a fact. I used to love the sun, but that was all over now – anything to get away from Phoenix. The weather here would match my mood perfectly.

Charlie was still in his uniform – he was Police Chief Swan to the good people of Forks. He unclipped his badge and placed it in his pocket, loading my luggage into the trunk. I didn’t have much, anyways – just a small suitcase with my little amount of heavy winter clothes from Arizona that I had invested in, and two small cartons with some of my few personal belongings. There wasn’t much, anyways – why would Renee share her wealth with me?

“It’s good to see you, Bella,” said Charlie, smiling his crinkly-faced smile. When he smiled like that, even past the thinning hair and growing figure, I could see why Renee had hurried into a quick marriage with him. I smiled back hesitantly, my face muscles stiff. I hadn’t done this for a while – I would try to make an effort to live for Charlie. This would be the new Bella Swan. “You look great! How’s Renee?”

I grimaced. I didn’t see how that was possible – I was ugly. There was nothing new about me since the last summer I had seen Charlie – the only difference was that I might have had more bruises this time. I smiled a fake smile again, working to be me. I took a deep breath. “…M-mom’s fine. She says hi. It’s good to see you too, Dad.” I never called him Charlie to his face. I put more feeling into my voice, afraid to slip into my dark self. I wouldn’t be like that in Forks, no matter how black the weather was. I wouldn’t let Charlie see my degree of suffering. Not ever.

As soon as we hit the highway, Charlie broke the silence. “I found a good car for you, Bells, really cheap.” I raised my eyebrows. He continued. “It’s a truck, actually, a Chevy. Kind of old—well, actually, really old, but loads of work done on the engine. The thing runs great.”

If it broke down, it wasn’t my fault.

“How cheap is it, Ch—Dad?”

“Well, honey, I kind of already bought it for you,” he replied, peeking sideways at me to see my expression. “A homecoming gift.”

Wow. Free.

“You didn’t need to do that, Dad. I would have bought myself a car. Thanks, anyways.”

“It doesn’t matter. I want you to be happy here, at least.”

If only he knew.

He looked ahead as he said this, being uncomfortable expressing his emotions out loud. I was still touched that he thought of me that much. Was he blind? No one cared for me, ugly, stupid Bella Swan. No need to add that being happy in Forks would be an impossibility. Or anywhere else, for that matter. But he didn’t have to suffer along with me.

We exchanged a few more comments about the weather, which was wet, and that was pretty much our whole conversation. We both never really were what anybody would call verbose – we preferred to live in silence. It wasn’t uncomfortable, however. I stared out of the window as he drove.

It was beautiful, that I couldn’t deny, but everything was green – trees, trunks covered with moss, leaves hanging down; rocks, covered with moss, leaves sticking to them; the ground, covered with moss, dotted with more moss-covered rocks and moss-covered trees. It was too green – an alien planet.

Eventually, we made it to Charlie’s. He still lived in the two-story cottage that he had bought eighteen years ago with Renee, when she still had a heart. Practically nothing had changed, except the small driveway that was dominated by a new (to me), large pickup.

To my enormous surprise, I loved it. I could see myself sitting in it. The thing, whatever. I could picture me driving it. It was a faded red color, and it had huge, rounded fenders. It was the kind of truck that you would see at the scene of an accident or crime; paint unscratched, surrounded by pieces of foreign car that it had destroyed. I loved it.

“Wow, Dad, I love it! It’s great! Thanks!” Now my next day would be a bit less horrific. I would never walk down two miles of wet road, or drive in Charlie’s cruiser, to school.

“I’m glad you like it,” said Charlie gruffly. He was embarrassed again.

In one trip, I had gotten all my stuff upstairs. My room hadn’t changed much at all – actually, it hadn’t – the walls were still the pale blue, with the same yellow curtains hanging at the windows. My baby rocking chair was still there, but as I grew, my crib had been replaced with a bed, and a study table and computer had been added, courtesy of one of Charlie’s oblivious relatives. I tried not to dwell too much on the fact that I had to share a small bathroom with Charlie.

He left me alone to get settled in, and I appreciated the chance to think, letting a few tears escape. No. I wiped them away quickly. I wouldn’t think about them, him, or my other, more significant problem. While I could, I would live life to the fullest, if that was possible in Forks. The thick padding of winter clothes would protect me from blows of other people.

I didn’t dwell on the fact of my new school, either—it was a painful reminder of the past. Forks High School had a total of only three hundred and fifty-seven (now fifty-eight); there were more than seven hundred in my old junior class. I never fit in a school of three thousand people – how would I with even less? And, all of the students here knew each other – even their grandparents had been toddlers together, in a town this small. I got up heavily and walked to the small bathroom, depressed. I looked at myself in the mirror, and I knew I was lying to myself. I would never have fit in anywhere, ever, even physically. Living in the Arizona sun, I should have been tan, sporty, a busty blond. A volleyball player, or a cheerleader perhaps.

Instead, I was pale. Painfully pale. And ugly, and fat, and everything that I deserved to be. I didn’t even have blue eyes or red hair as an excuse. Limp brown hair, flat brown eyes. Before, I had always thought of myself as slender, but soft (but not now) – it was obvious I wasn’t an athlete. I couldn’t play sports without humiliating myself, and I was capable of harming anyone within a ten meter radius, including myself. My many bruises casted me as a klutz in the community, but only if they knew.

I looked at my reflection closely. Too plain. I didn’t deserve to be happy. I was an embarrassment to everyone around me. Is that why…Daniel…left you?

I refused to let the pain take over, merely going into a comatose-catatonic state until the pain subsided. Behind my mask, I looked at myself again in the mirror: dead eyes stared back to me. My lips were in a straight line. Even my hair seemed lifeless (not that it already was), if that was possible. I shook my head, pressing hard on my teeth, forcing the pain to leave.

At least the many cut marks and bruises on my arms had somewhat faded.

My reflection cleared – my previous, pitiful expression returned. I looked bored, depressed; my usual expression. No, I would never find a niche here.

Maybe it was because I never related to people my age. Or really, I didn’t relate well to people any age. I didn’t relate to other humans, but what was I saying? I was a human. Even my once-old-best friend from three years ago, my mother, never used to be on the same page as me. But what could I expect? A mythical creature who, by chance, would appear and I would relate to—no, fall in love with?

I snorted at my own thoughts, and, with a heavy heart, fell asleep.

--

Charlie bought you a truck, did he now?” Renee smiles. Something glints in the darkness. I hear my breath hitch. It’s a knife.

No!” I shout. “Don’t kill me, please,” I beg. Why did I say that? I wanted to die. Oh, wait, Charlie. Okay.

She came forward, raising her hand. With a swoop, she plunged it into my chest.

“NO!” I shouted. I shot up in my bed, and hand clutching my heart as if to block the dream-stab. Sweat poured down on my forehead. I breathed heavily.

The door banged open and a shape ran towards me. Oh no, Renee.

It was Charlie. He ran to my side. “Bella! Bella, what’s wrong?”

I put a hand to my forehead, trying to slow down my breathing. “Nothing,” I whispered. “Bad dream, nothing.”

Charlie nodded. “It’s nearly five, honey, you can sleep.”

“No, it’s okay, dad, I have to get up anyways.” I jumped out of bed. Charlie nodded, an unhappy expression on his face. He backed out of the room, closing the door behind him.

I pulled on my tracksuit, slipping into my shoes. I jammed my headphones into my ear and blasted it on. The shattering beats of various, new rap songs broke through my concentration, so I couldn’t think. Good. Ever since…he had left me, I could never listen to any love song again. And, since the majority being that, I couldn’t listen to music at all. Except rap.

I ran into the trail from the backyard. I would go two miles in, and then return with another two. If it were one of those days, I’d push myself to six or eight. I always looked over the fact that I stumbled more than a hundred times every jog; I always carried a box of band-aids with me.

I was tired from the lack of sleep, therefore only completed three. It started raining, too, anyways, so I couldn’t continue any further. The ground was slippery enough so that my jogging pace had to slow into a fast walk. I ran up the stairs and into the bathroom, hoping Charlie had finished. An hour later, I walked down the staircase, hair dried and lips glossed. Even though it wasn’t worth the effort – I was ugly – I had to appear normal to Charlie. He couldn’t see me, the real me. I was grateful for the covering clothes that would hide the marks on my body.

I ate Charlie’s greasy bacon-and-egg ensemble without complaint, glad that it was greasy enough to slip down my throat without much effort. Charlie handed me my multicolored pills, which I reluctantly swallowed. I grimaced; having to depend on something heavily made me feel weak and vulnerable.

Not that I already didn’t.

Charlie wished me good luck as I walked out the front door. His hopes, I thought, would be wasted. Good luck tended to avoid me. I often thought that my worst bad luck was that my good luck never came. I would be waiting for that day.

Even in my heavy, dark jeans, my brown clingy sweater, and a white scarf, I was cold. My white flats (which I wished vainly were boots instead) crunched against the wet gravel of the driveway. I grabbed my iPod and ran to the cab of the truck, huddling for warmth. It had stopped raining, thankfully – I couldn’t be bothered to take out my jacket from my bag. I nervously brushed down my hair, afraid of the day yet to come.

I drove slowly to Forks High School – the roads were slick and wet from the night’s downpour. I wouldn’t want to cause an accident on my first day here.

Finding the school wasn’t difficult, even if I hadn’t been there before. The school, like most of Forks buildings, was off the main highway. It would have been hard to spot if it weren’t for the sign, because it didn’t look like a school. It looked like a collection of matching houses, built with plain customary bricks. The roofs were flat, like terraces. Where was the feel of school? Of institution?

I parked in front of the first building, which proclaimed it was the FRONT OFFICE. I was sure it was off-limits, but I had to let my truck idle. I didn’t want to go lumbering around in the parking lot looking for a space. I turned off the loud engine and walked into the office.

Inside, it was brightly lit, almost as if it were compensating for the lack of light outside. Large potted plants grew in plastic containers, as if there weren’t enough outside. An elderly lady with graying red hair looked up from her book as I approached the counter. “Can I help you?”

“I’m Bella Swan,” I said. She still looked confused, and I felt like an idiot. I sighed. “Isabella Swan.”

Her eyes brightened with awareness. I was no doubt, a topic of gossip in this town. “Of course,” she said. She dug through a precariously perched stack of papers, ruffling until she found a folder. She unfolded two maps and gave me a load of papers, explaining about my classes and schedule. I smiled at her as convincingly as I could.

When I stepped out again, I could see that the school had become more populated in my brief time. I circled around in my truck, parking in a spot as close as possible. The truck didn’t stand out – most of the cars were old, used, or rusted cheap models. The nicest car was a shiny silver Volvo. Back in Phoenix, it was common to see a new Mercedes or Porsche in the school parking lot. I remembered how Daniel had a convertible, one just like Renee…

No! Bella! Stop thinking! Go! Ouch. Two pains in one.

I shook my head. How did they come up in every one of my thoughts, even though I had locked them up safely in the back of my head? Try as hard as I could, I couldn’t forget him. That wasn’t possible. I froze in my state and unfroze as soon as the pain had gone away. It was almost as if it was an asthma attack and I’d have to use an inhaler to live.

The weather had evolved into a light drizzle, which I was sure wouldn’t stay long. I looked at the map, trying to memorize it so I wouldn’t have to have my nose stuck in it the whole day. I took out my jacket and tied it around my waist for good measure, and then hurried into building three.

The classroom was small, but it was already filled. Students milled around, chatting animatedly about something. I gulped, taking the slip up to the teacher. Sitting at the back, I don’t know how they managed, but my classmates still gawked at me. I’m pretty sure I was red throughout the whole morning.

When the bell finally ran, an Asian boy walked up to my desk. His black hair shone with gel in the florescent light. “You’re Isabella Swan, aren’t you?” He looked like one of those people who stay at computers too late in the night. Overly helpful, chess club type, almost.

“Bella,” I corrected. Everyone in vicinity turned to stare at me.

“Where’s your next class?”

I told him. There was nowhere to look without meeting a pair of excessively interested eyes. “I’m heading close to there, I can show you the way…” Definitely over-helpful. “I’m Eric,” he added.

I smiled as best as I could. My mind kept flashing back to the first day when Daniel had come and introduced himself…

It took me a moment to regain my composure again. I still looked staggered, and I hoped no one had noticed. I turned back to Eric and smiled again. “Thanks,” I said. But I was still confused. I wasn’t worthy of him – the chess club types, even – and I was probably the ugliest person in the school. Where were his eyes?

We walked out into the rain, me draping my jacket over my head for some measure of protection. He asked me about Phoenix, and I tried to answer as best as I could without making it look like I was demented. He peppered me with questions all the way till the door of the sixth building, even though it was clearly marked. “Well, bye,” he said. “See you around.”

I internally cringed. All boys were the same, even a thousand miles away.

The rest of the morning passed in a similar fashion. After two classes, I started recognizing several faces. In every class, there would be someone braver than the rest, who’d come and introduce themselves, and ask how I liked Forks. I tried to be complimentary about it, but mostly I lied a lot.

One girl accompanied me to lunch with her. I think her name was Jessica – a common, small town name. I tried to keep my expression as surprise-free as possible, but inside I was an emotional turmoil. Why were these strangers being nice to me? Was it another game, another ploy, “pick on the lame Bella Swan”, like they had done to me in Phoenix? I should be on my guard.

We sat on the edge of a long table, clear in the view of everyone in the cafeteria. I tried to smile to everyone, but I forgot their names as soon as they said them. As I scanned my eyes through the lunchroom, that was when I first saw them.

They were sitting in the corner of the lunchroom, not talking, not staring at anyone else. They all looked away from each other, away from the table, staring into nowhere in particular. They each had a tray of untouched food in front of them. They weren’t gawking at me like the rest of the world, so it was safe to stare at them without meeting a pair of curious eyes. But that wasn’t what caught my attention, and held it.

They didn’t look anything alike. Three boys sat on the opposite end, staring into different directions. The first one was huge – muscled up like a serious weight lifter. He could have passed as a college student, or a teacher here, rather than a student. Next to him sat a boy with blond hair, tall and lean, but still muscular. The last one looked younger, more boyish than the rest. His unusual messy bronze hair stood out in different directions, as if he couldn’t be bothered to comb it.

The girls sat opposite them, with their backs facing towards my crowded lunch table. There were two. The first one was tall, statuesque, and had the kind of figure you saw in bikini ads. Her golden hair waved down gently to her back. The girl next to her was opposite, but beautiful in the same manner. Her short spiky array of hair stood up around her exquisite elfin face. As she stood up with her tray (unopened soda, unbitten apple), I could see that she was short, even shorter than Jessica, and thin in the extremes, like a real pixie.

And yet, they were all exactly alike. All of them had the same, chalky pale skin. Paler than me, the Arizonian without a tan. They all had dark eyes, despite the range in hair tones. They also had dark shadows under those eyes – purplish, as if they were recovering from a sleepless night, or a broken nose. But their noses, all of their features, were straight, angular, and perfect.

But all this wasn’t why I couldn’t look away, either.

I stared because all of their faces were so… different, so similar… were all devastatingly, almost inhumanly beautiful. Even better than the ones that would come up on the airbrushed pages of some fashion magazine. They looked like… angels. I couldn’t see who was the most beautiful – maybe the perfect bronze-haired boy, or the perfect blonde one. I felt like I was a speck of grime compared to them. Even worse. I had never felt so insignificant, even with Renee.

“Who are they?” I asked Jessica.

She probably knew what I meant from my tone, as she looked up. She giggled under her breath, and suddenly, the youngest one, the thinnest, boyish one looked at her. Almost as if he had heard his name, and he had looked up as an involuntary response. He looked at my neighbor for a fraction of a second, just before his dark eyes flickered to mine.

He looked away quickly as I blushed, quicker than me. My neighbor giggled in embarrassment again.

“That’s Edward, Emmett, and Alice Cullen, the girl who left. The blonds are Rosalie and Jasper Hale, and they all live together with Dr. Cullen and his wife.” She said this all under her breath. I looked at the beautiful people again. The bronze one was moving his lips, as if talking to them, but they all were still staring in different directions. I had a feeling they were listening, though.

“They’re very… nice looking,” I said, struggling with the obvious understatement.

“Yes!” said Jessica, laughing. “They’re all together though, and they live together! Emmett and Rosalie, Alice and Jasper, I mean.” Her voice had shock in it. Small town people, I thought. But even this would have raised some gossip in Phoenix, I had to say. She continued. “They’re all adopted, actually. Dr. Cullen is really young, only in his late twenties or early thirties or something. The Hales are twins, and they’re foster children. They’ve been since Mrs. Cullen since they were eight, I think. She’s their aunt.”

“Oh,” I said, absorbing the info. “That’s really nice of them, to take in children so young and everything.”

“I guess,” sniffed Jessica. She had a sour tone to her voice. “I think it’s because Mrs. Cullen can’t have any children, though.” I think she might have been jealous, the apparent way she was showing them down. “They moved down from Alaska or somewhere two years ago.”

They were like me. New and different, clearly outsiders not accepted. Obviously, not like me like me, I was the speck of grime, but I could relate to them, at least. I felt a surge of relief. Just when Jessica finished talking, the door of the cafeteria opened, bringing in a gust of cold air. I automatically swiveled around in my chair.

A tall girl stood there, standing purposely. She strode with long, confident strides towards the last table, the Cullen table. She was just like them – pale skin, golden eyes. Her hair was a shade of strawberry blonde, but the strawberry was more dominant, making her hair seem light pink under the flickering lights. She was pretty – very pretty, just like Rosalie Hale. Even in the cold weather, she wore a miniskirt with knee-high, stiletto boots. Her off-shoulder fashion-sweater didn’t seem very warm.

“Who’s that?” I asked Jessica. She looked around to who I meant, and then her eyes narrowed at the walking figure of the girl.

“That’s Tanya Ames,” she said bitterly. “She’s with Edward Cullen, the bronze one.” For some unexplainable reason, my heart sank. I didn’t know why. Jessica kept looking until she walked up to the Cullen table, and sat next to Edward, wrapping her arms around his neck in a possessive manner. The blonde Rosalie and Alice looked at each other testily, gritting their teeth, almost as if they were embarrassed. Nobody else stared, so I guessed this was a daily routine. “Apparently she’s a family friend. She’s awful,” said Jessica.

I didn’t need to ask why, because now she was tracing the side of Edward’s cheek. He looked away, his eyes bored, not paying attention to the girl. As if he didn’t want to, almost. Alice, Rosalie, Emmett, and Jasper looked at each other, before rising up fluidly to walk away. They were so graceful; it almost took my breath away, even the big brawny one. Edward pushed away the girl before catching up with the other four. They didn’t look at him – the girls again sharing a steely glance at each other, before walking ahead, faster. Tanya glared at them before rising up herself, catching up with Edward. I looked away.

As lunch ended, I walked away with a girl who constantly reminded me her name was Angela. She had my next period Biology with me. As we entered the classroom, I saw black-topped labs, just like the ones I had used back in Phoenix. I remembered how Daniel and I used to share one…

Bella! Stop! I shook my head and gave my slip to the teacher. Angela went over to one of the tables, and sat down. Unfortunately, she already had a partner. Everyone did. All the tables were filled, except one. In the last table at the corner room, sat Edward Cullen, whom I recognized by the unusual hair. Next to him was the only open seat.

He sat, staring passively out of the window, looking bored. I was watching him through the corner of my eye, and as I passed under a heater blowing warm air, he suddenly looked at me, his eyes filled with curiosity. I looked away quickly, embarrassed. I grabbed my slip and walked over to the seat, proud that I hadn’t stumbled once.

I sat down self-consciously, aware of his gaze. The chair scraped loudly as I pulled it back. Edward Cullen continued to stare at me, his eyes filled with some unmet expectation. I didn’t want to look at him, but unfortunately, the lesson was on cellular anatomy, something I had already learned. I decided to take notes anyways, never looking at him. I pulled my hair on one side of my shoulder, absentmindedly playing with my music-note pendant. I was still painfully aware of how Edward Cullen continued to look at me. I tried to pay attention to the lesson, but often drifted off.

Drifting off was not a good thing to do. As my mind slipped back, I was immediately thrown picture after picture, memory after memory of Dan. And, as image after image came from Dan, picture after picture came from Renee, too. I froze in my seat, becoming erect, dropping my necklace. I looked down quickly, to hide the way my eyes filled with tears. I let my hair fall forward, covering my face. The teacher continued to drone, and luckily, no one was staring at me like they had earlier. Except for Edward Cullen.

I quickly wiped the moisture and concentrated on fighting the pain. A minute passed, before I could finally open my eyes. I knew Edward Cullen had seen, and I didn’t want to look at him. He must have thought I was crazy, anyways.

Just then, the bell rang, and the class shot up in their seats, scrambling for the door as if there was a monster behind them. I got up slowly, but promptly dropped my book. As I bent to receive it, a white hand shot out and grabbed it before I could. Edward Cullen straightened up and handed it to me. “Are you alright?” he asked.

I nearly broke down again. His voice was music, lilting, soft, even better than commercial hypnotizers. I stared at him. His dark eyes were smoldering, concerned, but even still, curious. I didn’t have the will or the time to think up of an excuse, and I was such a bad liar that I knew he wouldn’t buy it. I opened my mouth, and then closed it again. “No,” I whispered. My voice broke. I took my book back and fled out of the classroom before he could say anything else.

I looked at my next class, and then groaned. Gym. Before I could take another step in that direction, a boy ran up to me. “Hey!” he said. “You’re Isabella Swan, aren’t you?”

I’m not sure what my face looked like, but internally, I was wary. Ugh. “Bella,” I corrected. He smiled at me. His face was cute in a baby sort of way.

“I’m Mike,” he said confidently. “Do you need help finding your next class?”

“Hi, Mike,” I said. “I’m headed to Gym, actually.”

“That’s my next class, too.” He sounded thrilled, though it wasn’t a big coincidence in a school this small.

Mike talked a lot, I mostly listened. He was probably the nicest person, genuinely, that I had me today, and I was appreciative. I just hoped he didn’t think I was too appreciative.

As we entered the building, a man informed me he was Coach Clapp. He didn’t make me dress up for today, and I could sit and watch, but the way the students played volleyball seemed ominous to me. It looked scary. Remembering how many injuries I’d sustained playing the sport in Phoenix, I saw the nurse’s room more than the gym itself. I remembered one time when Dan had taken me…

Why must he pop up in every one of my thoughts?!

As gym ended, I raced to the front office, eager to give my slip back so I could go home. I stopped at the door, because two people were already there.

It was Emmett and Alice Cullen. Alice Cullen looked so tiny, so small next to Emmett, it was almost comical. They were arguing with Mrs. Cope in low, attractive voices. I quickly picked up the gist of it. Apparently, they were trying to switch classes, because… Tanya was there?

I was confused. Didn’t they like Tanya? She was a family friend, Jessica had said. I decided to drop it, leaning against the door frame while they talked. Apparently, they lost, because they turned on their heels and started walking back to the door.

I made my way forward. Just as they were passing me, I slipped in a puddle on the floor. I prepared myself to meet the hard ground, thinking how much it would hurt if I fell on the currently-healing cut on my back, but instead, a pair of muscular arms caught me and pulled me upright.

“Whoa, watch it,” said the voice of Emmett Cullen. Not that I would know, but I assumed. I opened my eyes. His face, even through all the brawn, was surreal; perfect features, perfect hair, perfect voice. I blushed and he released me, grinning. Alice was standing next to him, her eyes troubled but concerned.

“Are you alright?” she asked. Her voice was like a light chime, high and dainty. She smiled at me, her beautiful elfin face lighting up.

“Yeah,” I mumbled. “Sorry.”

“No problem,” said Emmett. He seemed like a hearty person, and spoke so loud that the whole office could hear. They strolled away with graceful steps and I could only watch with my mouth open.

I handed in my slip and walked out. It had grown cold again. I huddled for warmth, hugging myself. I could see at the far end of the school lot, the shiny Volvo. Of course, the Cullen siblings were getting in. Next to the Volvo, (I couldn’t believe that I had missed it earlier) was a monster Jeep, which Emmett was climbing into. It seemed like a perfect car for him.

I walked over to the truck, rubbing my hands together. I got in and turned the heater on. I leaned back against the seat, glad the day was over. It was the wrong thing to do.

Gotchya!” said a voice. Arms wrapped around my waist and I was thrown into the pool. Daniel was behind me. I came up, spurting water, but laughing freely.

I turned around and touched his nose. He drew me closer. His lips parted and he tilted his head, coming closer…

And his face abruptly changed into Renee’s, a maniac smile on her face. She picked up an old rusted pipe and hit me on the shoulder, ripping away the skin. I screamed. She drew closer.

And then her face changed back to Daniel’s, coming even closer, his lips parting forward. I leaned forward eagerly, when he vanished.

I was sitting in my room, huddling in the corner as Renee came forward.

Then she changed into Dan, who picked me up and whirled me around until I was dizzy. He came forward, and I nearly felt his lips on mine, before everything disappeared, and I was standing in black.

I let my hands drive, fighting back tears the whole way.