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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?


2. Discoveries

Rating 5/5   Word Count 7103   Review this Chapter

2. Discoveries

Alice Cullen

We walked over to the parking lot, discreetly holding hands. Jasper’s hand seemed to loosen tension and he breathed more deeply as we moved further away from humans. I gave him an encouraging smile.

I looked around. The usual end-of-school rush had erupted, and human students running for their cars at vampire speed. I laughed to myself. The other, more sociable ones strolled casually, walking and talking. From here, I could see the new girl, Bella Swan, walking towards her truck slowly, hugging herself for warmth. She was wincing with each step, as if she had fallen down one too many times. Anyhow, she had a good sense of style. Maybe she was different, after all.

I walked over to the two cars. Emmett was there, helping Rosalie get in. She beat him off. “Hey guys!” he said, grinning. He was just going to say something, when Tanya appeared, literally out of nowhere, leaving a blur behind her.

Thank god, no one had seen her. I felt my anger boil over.

“Where’s Eddie?” she said. Her voice, even for a vampire, was as if she spoke through her nose. It had a whiny note to it. I scowled, but turned around. Edward walked out of the second building door slowly, his hands in his jean pockets, four seconds later. His forehead was creased as he looked down; he looked as if he was thinking hard about something.

Tanya followed my gaze and saw him come; she immediately made a show of bending down to fiddle with her boot-zipper. Her miniskirt hitched up considerably. I smirked; Edward was still muddled as he walked slowly. Rosalie hissed at her, caving in before I did. “Tanya!” she whispered furiously. Even Emmett flinched away from the menace in her voice.

“What?” she said arrogantly, making no effort to keep her voice down. She was still bent over, now unzipping the boot slowly, and pulling it up again. Her fingers trailed on her skin, touching her leg as they made their way up. I growled.

“What the hell are you doing?! Can’t you even try to act human?”

She straightened up, her skimpy sweater displaying a clear inch of her stomach. She didn’t try to pull it back down, instead pushing aside her hair before looking at Rosalie. She glared at her.

“Why? Why act like something we’re not? And we might as well as use our powers. No matter how much you try, you can’t ever be human again.”

What she told Emmett and I earlier paled in comparison. But to stoop that low? It hit the mark, and both of them knew it. Rosalie sharply turned the other way, crossing her arms. I could have sworn that at this moment, she was glad she couldn’t cry. I turned on Tanya, instead. Emmett walked over to Rosalie’s side, not looking back, and Jasper moved to stand behind me. “Tanya!”

She smirked, looking down at me. “Now what?” she drawled. Her insolent tone had me grounding my teeth in mute frustration. I desperately wanted to hurt her – do something to her so bad. Jasper felt the waves of hostility and turned me around so I faced him. His touch calmed me.

Edward was finally at the car, running his hands through his hair. He opened the Volvo door and dropped his bag inside. Tanya draped herself over him, straining to reach his cheek. He kept pulling away, but he didn’t push her away, either – his arms were hovering in the air, not quite at her waist, but nearly there. Then, as if he was trying to prove himself something, he grabbed her hips and pulled her closer, wrapping his arms around. She threw herself at him joyfully – he never really was that affectionate to her. I gave him the most disgusted expression I could muster, before climbing into the Jeep. How could you? I thought. He looked away, his hands balling into fists at the hem of Tanya’s top.

It was a silent ride back to the house, and the whole way, a muscle jumped in Emmett’s jaw. I couldn’t blame him. The Volvo trailed behind, but Rose moved the rearview mirror so that the car was nowhere in sight. We got out of the car stonily, not looking at each other.

Jasper made his way warily up to our bedroom, knowing better than to interrupt me. I wasn’t in the mood of any kind of conversation. Instead, I grabbed a random photo from the dressing table. It was a picture of Edward and Tanya from two years ago, sitting and talking together on a bench in Denali. She was fine then. I threw the picture down on the floor, shattering the glass frame. I stomped on it, jumping up and down, creating little dents on the floor. I didn’t care.

“She—is—such—a—argh!” I spoke a word with each jump. When my anger didn’t wear off, I grabbed a pillow and screamed into it. Jasper came and pulled me into a hug. I jumped up and wrapped my arms around his neck. Calm rolled off him in tidal waves, but I couldn’t be calmed. I wrapped my legs around his waist. “It’s so unfair,” I said into his neck. He rubbed my back for comfort.

We stayed like that for a while, before I pulled him downstairs. Esme, Edward, and Tanya were there. I nearly turned around again, but her words caught me.

Esme’s face was a mix of emotions: her face looked exasperated, harried, worried, and disappointed. I touched Jasper’s hand softly, and he send a tide of serenity around me. I looked at Tanya. What was she doing now?

Tanya threw up her hands, ignoring us, the audience. “But I want it!” she screamed at Esme. Edward made no move to stop her, only watching with impassive eyes. Oh, no. It was one of her tantrums.

She grabbed an antique vase and threw it to the floor, shattering it. Why didn’t I see this vision? It was Esme’s favorite vase, too. Her face became sad as she looked down at the remains. “Fine,” she said quietly. The motherly note seeped into her voice automatically. I moved over to her, skipping over the shards of broken crystal.

“Get out,” I said to Tanya.

She left, but still holding her head high, a smug expression on it. Edward followed her out the door. Jasper clenched his fist in surprising anger. It wasn’t like him. Esme went and sat down on the sofa, leaning her head against the back. I curled up next to her, just as Carlisle, Emmett and Rosalie walked in.

“Bitch,” muttered Rosalie, under her breath. It was just loud enough for everyone to hear it. We all sat down, everyone quiet in his or her own thoughts. I closed my eyes, and a vision started to play, as if it had been waiting for the right time. It started rolling, as if it were a movie. I let it sink in.

A slim, shapely girl is walking up an aisle, clutching a man’s forearm. She is dressed in a champagne-colored, long halter dress. It’s pretty, with little roses dotted on the trailing skirt. It’s only showing her from the back, but I can see people sitting in chairs on either side of her. Some are crying. She looks up, and her gaze lands at an altar. A blissful expression erupts on her face.

There is a man standing on the altar, dressed in a black tuxedo. He does look good. Behind him, two more men stand, both of them tall and muscular. Two women are standing on the other side behind the empty space next to the man, one tall and one short. They hold bouquets in their hands

Oh. It is a wedding.

The man hands over the girl to the man. They both intertwine their fingers, smiling at each other. Love is spelled across their face as they gaze up at each other, smiles playing at their lips. It is a happy moment.

The scene blurs, as if going through a passage of time. It lands again, just as the man raises the girl’s hand to lightly kiss it. His lips form words. It’s hard to make out what he’s saying, but his mouth shapes the words, “I do.”

The girl closes her eyes, close to tears. When she opens them, it’s her turn. “I do,” she says simply.

It skips forward again, but only for a second or two. Even though it was hard to hear before, a sentence rings through the air, “…you may kiss your bride.”

The man does it without a split second decision. He gathers the beautiful women in his arms and passionately kisses her, his love flowing through his lips. She wraps her arms around his neck, as if clutching on to her life. She probably is, anyways. The crowd both laughs and cries as they see the bride is close to fainting.

The kiss ends, and the couple turn around to the crowd, which is on its feet, cheering and sobbing simultaneously. The two people smile up at each other. Only then does the vision clear, closing up on the man’s face.

He is looking happier than he had ever before. And it’s Edward.

The woman next to him isn’t Tanya, however. There is no Tanya in sight. But, instead, it’s…

The vision draws even closer, inches from the girls face. The image blew up in my mind, burning into my eyes.

It really can’t be.

It’s Isabella Swan.

No.

It’s Isabella Cullen.

I shot out of the vision, feeling an electrical current had run through me. It jolted me and I fluttered my eyes open in shock, my nails digging into the sofa. “Oh my god!”

“What, Alice?” Everyone was looking at me, their eyes burning with curiosity. I felt a smile blow up on my face. I couldn’t hold it in – the excitement erupted through me. Jasper groaned.

I started jumping up and down. I couldn’t believe it. Rosalie walked over to me, holding me down. “What, Alice?”

I couldn’t speak fast enough. “I-just-had-a-vision-of-Edwards-wedding!

Rosalie’s mouth dropped open in surprise. But, a different one from me. It was slowly replaced by a look of disgust. “Now he’s marrying that skank, too?!” Emmett and Jasper started nodding. Esme looked worried. I didn’t need to know what they were thinking with Edward’s gift – I could see it in their expressions. They all had the same: An eternity with Tanya?

“No, no! You don’t understand! It wasn’t Tanya, it was—“

“Alice, calm down!”

“No, but-it-was-Be—“

“Alice!”

Will you listen?! It wasn’t Tanya!”

“Then who was it?” asked Rosalie, her voice challenging.

“It was Isabella Swan! The new girl!”

Every mouth dropped open in surprise. Rosalie’s eyes widened, but mirrored everyone else’s expression. Her breath blew out in a gust. Then, she said flatly, “a human? That’s even worse.”

--

Bella Swan

The alarm beeped and I sat up slowly, rubbing my eyes. I hadn’t gotten much sleep this night, either – the constant pattering of rain hadn’t let me sleep. It was good in one way, at least – there were no nightmares.

I yawned groggily, rubbing my eyes. I was still so sleepy. Maybe I should have a lie in…

Daniel, smiling as he bounds up the porch steps…

Renee, smiling as she approaches me with a ragged piece of wood…

Daniel, picking me up and swirling me around in a circle…

Renee, dragging me out of my bedroom, leaving a bloodied trail behind me…

No…

I shot up out of bed, not pausing to do anything, still in my sweatpants and a tank top. I wrenched open the door, running down the stairs, not tripping once. I threw the main door open, not caring if it woke Charlie. I ran outside, feeling the rain on my skin. It was as if there was no such thing as air resistance – the rain splattered on my bare skin, so cold that it was actually painful.

It seemed as if the dam that I had built had finally burst – the tears that had evaded me came crashing through, demanding answers, pouring out of my eyes. I just ran and ran and ran, not caring, not seeing, just running.

Why? I could cry with no restrictions now, not caring what the pain did to me. I asked myself every question, just running, picking myself up when I fell. Why did Daniel leave me? It was obvious, I was everything that Renee had ever told me. Pathetic, useless, fat, ugly, shameful, repulsive, unattractive, weak, hopeless, a waste of time, a… bitch. Why me? I thought it was it. True love, when I fell for Daniel. But he was nothing but a player, playing with my feelings, using me…

And Renee. I would never, ever live up to her. I was an embarrassment to her. I deserved the punishment she gave me. I wasn’t worthy of anyone. I was stupid, lame; I was of no use. I was a burden for her, and it was good that she had gotten rid of me. It wouldn’t make a difference if I lived or died, so what was the point?

Twigs snapped under my feet, cutting into them. By the time I had finished, the entire trail’s eight miles, I was a bloodied, dirty, torn mess as I stumbled into Charlie’s kitchen. He was there; Charlie took one look at me before pulling me into his arms. “Oh, honey,” he said. He was uncomfortable, but trying to help me the best he could. I appreciated it. “Do you always have to push yourself so hard?”

I just sobbed onto Charlie’s shoulder, before he finally got up and gave me my pill. I glared at it. The one reason of all my problems. I hated the medicine, my sole life source.

Holding my breath, I swallowed it, wishing that I could desperately swallow my pain.

I walked upstairs to my bathroom, where today’s clothes lay. Charlie let me go – he had no idea what I was going to do. What should I choose? I locked the door and opened the medical cabinet. There were two bottles – aspirin, and cold medicine. Which one? I grabbed the sleeping pills and tipped fifteen or so pills into my hand. I would swallow them, and life would go on.

But even as I raised my hand and opened my mouth, something stopped me. It was only then that I realized I didn’t hurt – the throbbing pain that was a daily part of every heartbeat wasn’t there. I looked at the pills, before I looked at the mirror. My eyes were oddly clean, almost peaceful. A serene look was in my face. I let my gaze travel up my arm, before at the non-descript white pills that were lying innocently in my hand. I took one long, long look at it. Just one overdose could change my life—well, actually, change my death. I looked at my reflection, wondering why I had stopped. Wasn’t it good to die peacefully? The answer was spelled across my face in big letters.

Easy.

I didn’t want to die.

Not yet.

My heart would heal. I would make it.

It was going to be a long, painful process – but deep inside, I knew it. I just needed to be more…

What? Cautious?

No. I just needed to be… myself.

--

Spanish ended with the buzzing-bell noise, and everyone ran for the door. Jessica waited for me as I grabbed my books, chattering. I tried to listen, but I was tired. Too tired. I tried not to wince as I put pressure on my bandaged feet, hidden under my long jeans and new boots. It didn’t help that the boots weren’t broken into yet, and blisters formed under the bandages.

Jessica pulled me into the lunch line, grabbing a tray. “You want something, Bell?” she asked, turning to the food. My breath hitched softly. Only Daniel had ever called me ‘Bell’. She waved a hand in front of my face. Mike looked around my shoulder, his eyes concerned. “Yoo-hoo, Bella! Want something?” I turned to the food. My stomach clenched.

“No, thanks,” I denied. Cafeteria food never had it for me. It was somehow nauseating. “I’ll just grab a lemonade.”

Lunch passed in a haze, but it was more interesting, because I could recognize almost our entire crowded lunch table. Several people kept claiming my attention, and I tried to be as diplomatic as possible. Several of the boys, including Mike and Eric, kept shooting me glances, but I had already made up my mind to ignore them. As the daily chatter swirled around the table, I rested my chin in my hands, scanning the table.

Everyone was caught up in his or her own conversation, and not as many people stared as they had done the day before. I looked around, bored, before my eyes automatically waved over to the Cullen table.

Strange. There were only two people sitting at it.

From what I could make out, Tanya Ames was cooing over Edward. Again, I surprised myself. I didn’t even know him, but I even in my mind I called him from first name, as if I actually knew him. I couldn’t explain it.

I looked around. Where were the rest of the Cullen siblings? Had they grown so sick of Tanya, perhaps, that they moved tables? I could hardly believe my own reasoning. I had only seen them for a small thirty minutes, and even mumbled to two of the exquisite Cullens, but I felt like I knew their whole story, just from a few minutes of brief observation. I blinked and looked around again.

Finally, I located the Cullens. They were sitting in a non-descript table at a far end of the small lunchroom, as far as they could have possibly been from their other siblings. Tiny Alice was sitting in her erect in her seat, talking to Emmett. Rosalie was glaring at something, and I followed her gaze to Tanya Ames. Jasper Hale was holding Alice’s hand, but I had a feeling that it was rare to the public eye. I looked at them curiously.

Suddenly, three of them turned their heads simultaneously to look at me. I could see Rosalie Hale turning rotating slowly in her seat, before she too, turned, somewhat reluctantly, to look at me. I looked down, hiding behind my hair, a blush staining my cheeks. When I looked up again, they were still staring. I tried to look away as swiftly as I could, but not before Jessica noticed.

“Bella, what are you staring at?” Her gaze followed mine, and landed on the other Cullen table. “They’re all staring at you! The Cullens!” She sounded like she had the breath blown out of her, her tone infused with insulting astonishment.

“Don’t look,” I hissed. My cheeks were bright red. She snickered, but looked away. I decided to give one more peek at the table.

They were still staring, but when I looked again, Alice Cullen gave the smallest of smiles, directly in my direction. I looked around; was it for me? Apparently, it was – I returned an equally hesitant one. Emmett waved from across the room, and I blushed even harder. He had a goofy grin on his face, and I couldn’t help but smile back at him. The whole table – Mike, Jessica, Angela, Eric, Lauren, and the others – were staring at me.

Thankfully, the bell rang, signaling the end of lunch. I stumbled out of my chair, Mike and Angela following behind me, Angela with a somewhat awed look on her face. I guessed it was because of the Cullens – interaction between them and the rest of the student body must have been uncommon. Mike took my books out of my hand, waving it when I started to protest. He smiled.

The three of us walked together to Biology. Half of me was scared to go to the next class – what on Earth would Edward Cullen think of me? He must have thought that I was insane, from the way I acted yesterday. And what would he make of the interaction between his family and me? I looked down, walking self-consciously into the classroom. Making my way over to the table, I was aware that Edward Cullen was already sitting there. Looking at me.

Edward Cullen

This was the time I wished I could sleep.

High School.

Or was purgatory the right word? If there were any way to atone for my sins, this would surely count in the tally. Tanya held my hand, a bit too tightly, even for a vampire. I tried to loosen my fingers, but that only earned me a look and a further tightening. Help.

I looked across the lunchroom, where my four other siblings sat, studiously ignoring me as they had done from the beginning of the day. I didn’t know why, but I supposed Tanya had something to do with it.

I continued to watch them, when Alice leaned over to Emmett and started talking. Rosalie turned around in her seat, to look—no, to glare, at Tanya. She was just in range for me to hear her thoughts, sitting on the edge of her table. Thanks, Edward. Her ‘voice’ was bitingly sarcastic. It had another edge to it, but I couldn’t hear why.

She turned away before I could do any further experiment, closing herself in the range where my mental ability could not reach. I supposed that this behavior had to be caused somewhat by the way Alice had been acting for the past ten hours; different, but sometimes bursting into fits of exuberance, other times mainly remaining her ‘way’, but a little aloof. I couldn’t imagine why, but she had been looking into the future a lot more, sitting in a cross-legged position while the rest of the family members surrounded her. But whenever I got back into hearing range, they would abruptly change the topic, sometimes lapsing into silence, and blocking their thoughts simultaneously. I desperately felt like I was missing something, like I was not part of the Cullen family anymore.

I tried to tune out of my own thoughts – something I did not do everyday – trying to avoid Tanya as well. Of course, that was difficult – her inch-long sharp nails almost pierced into my own granite skin. She was a painful reminder of the present. Could she have been the cause of my family’s discord towards me? I could not really see her fault in this – after all, they were the ones who had forced her on me, in a house full of married couples. Esme had been desperate – that I could hear out of her thoughts – she thought that I was essentially missing something out of my long, stretched out, unnecessary life. Not to mention that Tanya herself had willingly agreed to become my mate – I shuddered at the word. It seemed so final, and to live with her for eternity. But truly, what was her fault? True, she was possessive. She forcibly pushed herself on me, constantly willing me to go far, always to the point that I had to push her back. Our… relationship, one could call it, was not like ones in my family. Where both people loved each other equally, I couldn’t feel that way towards Tanya. And yes, she was unruly. Boisterous. She constantly taunted others, pushing them past their limits. She knew that if anyone had so much as raised a hand towards her, her father would hear. He was her true father vampire – Alexander Ames. And if Alexander Ames would hear, so would his vegetarian coven – smaller than ours, true, but ultimately more powerful, older, stronger. It was a win-win situation for her.

And yes, she would break the human charade once in a while, but I couldn’t find fault– one was a vampire to be a vampire. I couldn’t blame her if she did not want to wear the winter clothes that we had to in the human-cold town of Forks – it was her decision. But I could see the other’s point of view – did she have to be so unjust to the misplaced, human hormone-fueled infatuations that other teenage girls would best on me? She constantly wanted attention, and we were meant to keep a low profile. Luckily, it had passed – so what did they hold her blame for?

I looked back at the four of my siblings. They were talking, heads together. I felt… left out. True, we hadn’t been on the best of terms for the past three years, since Tanya came, but now they were going to their lengths of excluding me. Why? I could only see the right and wrong – there was nothing else. Right. Wrong. Just sensible reasoning.

They all turned their heads to look at something. I followed their gaze, and it landed on… Isabella Swan? No, Bella Swan. She had corrected anyone who had used her full name the previous day. A completely ordinary girl. Why were they looking at her?

I appraised her with my eyes. True, I couldn’t hear her thoughts, but underneath I knew she was just like all the other, shallow girls that seemed to be a large part of this generation. Alice was staring at her intensely, almost as if waiting for something. Which, being her, she probably was.

The girl looked up, spotting the four staring at her. She immediately dropped her head down, a rose pink blush creeping up her neck. Her skin was so clear, translucent enough so that I could see the pattern of her pulsing bluish veins. But no, I shouldn’t concentrate on that right now, when I was as hungry as Jasper…

I could see Emmett leaning over and saying something to the three, grinning. Alice let out a small giggle, and the corners of Jasper and Rosalie’s mouths twitched in unison. They turned back to study her. Why?

She peeked at them again, and then looked away, flushing with embarrassment again. As she looked at them for the third time, I saw Alice smile hesitantly at her, and Emmett beam widely when she returned it. His comical expression had her red lips curving into an open smile. The rest of her classmates stared at her in awe… the new girl, already… corresponding with the Cullens?

The bell ran, a nasal buzzing sound, but not as much as Tanya’s voice. “Eddie, what are you staring at?”

I looked away before she got the wrong impression and tore some other girl to bits. I remembered the way she had stood up to Jessica Stanley on only our first day here – it was rather harsh, I wouldn’t wish it to any other human girl. Her eyes narrowed as they swiveled around the room, landing on some of the more reckless girls. I could see her mind working. Which one is it?!

I got up and slouched off to my next dreaded class a few minutes early, going as fast as I could away from Tanya. She caught up with me in a beat, sure that no one had seen the blur of her moving fast. She followed me all the way like a vulture tracking its mate, all the way to Biology, before I finally drove her away, pushing her towards her next class. She walked away with a pout, swinging her hair in a fake, seductive manner. Luckily, her talents did not affect me like they did to other, more clueless men.

Biology was possibly the worst subject – Mr. Banner was worse than a D-grade paper. His facts were often wrong, but I couldn’t care enough to correct them. I stared, bored, out of the window like I did every day, trying to ignore the trivial matters of the humans around me. My stomach tightened into a small knot, but I ignored it. I would stick to this life as I had chosen it.

The new girl walked in to the room, closely flanked by Mike Newton. His thoughts were drooling at her, almost shouting. Should I ask her out today? Before the others get a chance, duh, as if she would fall for Eric Yorkie…

It was quite tiresome to hear the thoughts of the teenage males. True, she was pretty – beautiful, even, I supposed, but to human minds. She was like a child with a new shiny toy – they were obsessed with her. It was rowdy.

Angela Webber followed behind in her dreamy mind. Her thoughts were unusually kind, unlike the thoughts of other adolescents her age. Tons left to do tonight! Have to drop the twins… Her ‘voice’ changed tone, to a more curious one. I wonder why the Cullens were staring at Bella today…

Why, indeed.

She walked under the heater, trying not to trip as she made her way to the table. She walked somewhat gingerly, as if her feet hurt. Why? The campus wasn’t too big. She walked awkwardly, unlike the others.

She looked the other way as she sat down, and her scent stunned me again. It did not smell like any other smell I had smelled before – she didn’t smell like a human. Her scent was not one that would trigger the monster-instinct side of me – it didn’t do anything. She had another smell that lingered around the smell of her blood – almost as if there was something else in her veins flowing alongside the blood…

Her scent was almost… floral. She smelled like vanilla and freesia, the few smells I could remember from my human life. She continued to ignore me, as she had yesterday, looking down, looking away; any direction she could look at besides looking at me. Good. She should ignore us.

The class had not yet settled, mingling around and socializing. I could hear everyone’s mind, but it was so unbelievably frustrating! The way I couldn’t hear only her thoughts – why?! Should I try to talk to her? I was keen—eager, actually, to hope to decipher her thoughts. The way she acted around her fellow students, shy and uncomfortable, why she had a slight hunch to her shoulders, almost as if to protect her from rebuff, why she acted so startled whenever someone talked to her…

She was playing with a pendant on her neck again, doodling idly on the cover of her notebook. The pendant was a small golden music note – a treble clef – studded with a diamond. Real, I could see. Was she rich? Highly strung? A music fan?

A strand of her hair fell from the other side, and she wound it around her finger, curling it. Her hair was chocolate brown – the same of her eyes – flowing down her back. It fell in waves, cascading and tumbling like a waterfall. It seemed like it was ‘done’, like the teenage girls today said, but it seemed too natural, as if she hadn’t bothered. The sleeves of her blue sweater were pushed up to her elbow, her pale forearm resting lightly on the black-topped table.

She wore a thin, silver-linked bracelet, but that wasn’t what caught my attention. Faint white lines stretched from her wrist all the way to the hollow of her elbow, until they ended at half of a large, dark purple bruise. It looked painful – I could remember a few from my childhood days. How did she get the bruise? I looked at the lines. They were all the same length, but different widths apart, some stretching diagonal. Was it a design? It was faded – hard to see on her translucent skin, even for a vampire. As the lines progressed higher and higher up her arm, they grew more and more prominent. What were they? They looked like slashes of some sort, as if they were healing… finally, it hit me, and I realized.

Oh.

Cut marks.

Why? Was this girl depressed? On drugs? It would have explained the smell beside her blood, but drug-addicts smelled different. Why did she need to cut? Dark-circles lingered under her eyes, almost like a vampire’s. Why did she not sleep, then? From afar, she could have almost passed as one of us, aside the color of her eyes.

The bell rang and Mr. Banner walked through the classroom, holding his briefcase. They don’t realize how hard this job is, I need a raise…

I continued to study her. She seemed bored, uninterested in the classroom chat around her. She didn’t seem like the other teenagers around her…

The man started his lecture on cells. I had two diplomas in medical science, and this was as incorrect as it could get. Bella took notes but didn’t seem to be paying attention. Many of the sheep-like males were already staring at her, imagining themselves in love with her. As if the cafeteria crowd hadn’t been enough.

Mr. Banner began passing out microscopes and slides, explaining the lab. “You will have to…”

Ugh. How easy.

“Ladies first, partner?” I asked, before I could register what I was doing. She looked up, startled by my sudden voice. She stared at me blankly. My smile faded. “Or I could go, if you wish.”

She blushed, realizing she’d been staring. It was hard to read her mind, but her emotions were spelled clearly across her face. “I’ll go ahead,” she said. She pulled the microscope towards her. After a second, she pulled away and said confidently, “Prophase.”

Her voice was soft and musical. Ironically enough, it sounded like bells.

I took a look, and she was correct. How surprising.

She pushed the microscope towards me, and I reached out to pick up the next slip of glass. Only she had done this too – our hands collided, stunning me momentarily. When she touched me, I felt an electric shock run through me. It was impossible. Rock couldn’t conduct electricity.

Her hands were as soft as silk, but unusually cold for a human. I held on to it, looking down at our hands. She pulled her hand away, curling it into a light fist and placing it on her lap, under the table. She passed me the slide anyways, being careful not to touch me again.

I wrote the answer down. She had already written the first one – her handwriting intimidated me. Me? The soft cursive was like a personal calligraphy. I snorted. Our handwriting was so similar that it could have passed off as one. She laughed as she saw me writing, probably realizing the same thing.

The rest of the class passed that way, and we were done in less than ten minutes. It seemed like she was trying not to touch me again, and I could not blame her. Other groups were no further than the second slide, comparing notes and books. It was predictable, the human nature. But Bella surprised me.

She looked away passively, staring at a crack in the wall. It reminded me of… me. Wow. “How do you like Forks?” I blurted. I was taken aback – I never ‘blurted’. Having an insight to the other person’s mind usually told me what to say, if I ever wanted to say anything. She looked up again, startled. She had told everyone that it was fine – but I had a feeling she was lying. Why would she lie?

She leaned her chin in her hands, staring dejectedly out of the window at the sheeting rain. “I don’t.”

I could see that she wasn’t lying. “Then why did you come here?”

She stiffened for a moment, but tried to hide it. She turned to look at me in the eye. Her brown eyes were unusually deep – brown eyes often seemed flat in their darkness. They swirled down and down into a dark abyss, almost as if the depths would never end. It felt as if she was scrutinizing me, as if she could see right through me. She looked away, her eyes hardening. “My mother got remarried.”

“That doesn’t sound so complex,” I disagreed. She sighed, rolling her eyes. “You don’t like him?” I guessed. It was probably correct, anyways.

“No, Phil’s… fine… too young, maybe, but fine.” There was a bitter note to her voice.

I was surprised. “Then why? Did your mother send you here?”

“Yes, and… no,” she said. “I sent myself here,” she added in a strange voice.“I thought I should spend time with Charlie before I—” She stopped abruptly, as if she had spoken too much. Before she what? “Because of… stuff.” She looked away. It was obvious that she didn’t want to explain what she meant by ‘stuff’. No matter, she probably told her friends about it. I could just look into their minds. She looked out of the window again, leaning around me. Her flowery-vanilla smell wafted in my direction. “I hate the rain.”

“Forks must be a hard place for you to live.”

She shot a dark look, appraising me with her eyes. “You have no idea,” she muttered. I looked at her, fascinated. What did she mean? I wanted to find out more. But I shouldn’t want to. Yet, I wanted to. No, I shouldn’t. I shouldn’t have cared. It was wrong of me to get involved.

Mr. Banner came around, staring at the paper intently. He looked at it briefly, frowning when he saw that all the answers were correct. All the Cullens, perfect four-point-ohs, I’ll have to talk to the vice head… “So, Mr. Cullen, you didn’t think that Isabella should have a chance with the microscope?”

“Bella,” I corrected automatically. I could feel her looking at me. “Actually, she identified three out of five.”

He turned to her, skeptical now. “Have you done this lab before?” he asked.

She leaned back in her chair, crossing her arms. “Yep.”

He frowned for a second, stumped by her cool, casual answer. “Were you in advance placement in Phoenix?”

“Yes, sir.”

He frowned again. Great, she’s just like the Cullens… “Well, I guess it’s a good thing that you two are partners.” He walked away. I looked in her direction, thinking about yesterday. Newton’s thought hit me. Why is Cullen staring at her like that? I looked away, suppressing a smile, but not before something flared in me for a short second. I was surprised – it felt like despair, and anger. I was… jealous? Why? Why would I be jealous?

I thought about yesterday. She seemed like every other teenager the day before, except her different, unique scent and her non-readable mind. But why had she suddenly stiffened up in her seat? Her eyes had filled with tears. Why? Was it pressure? And when I gave her book back, the way she contemplated before answering “no” that way? I hadn’t cared enough to ask. I shouldn’t have, either. I shook my head, trying to clear it.

The bell rang, and unlike the other students, Bella stood up slowly, gathering her books. Before my mind could register what in hell I was doing, I heard my mouth say, “May I walk you to your next class?”

Oops.

She suddenly looked torn, as if fighting with herself, uncomfortable. I shouldn’t have asked. After a long time, she spoke softly. “Uh… sure, I guess.”

About five boys waited for her, outside the classroom, even though she didn’t know it. Their faces dropped when they saw her walking next to me.

What? She’s walking with Cullen? I have no chance…

Wha...?

I thought…

Huh?!

I felt smug, for some unidentifiable reason. I leaned down to her. “It’s wrong to disappoint those boys like that, you know,” I teased.

“What are you talking about?” She honestly had no idea. I vaguely pointed my hand towards the boys, walking off in different directions with resentful faces. She rolled her eyes.

“Boys…” she muttered. Her voice had an edge to it. The more I tried to find out about her, the more complex she would get.

“I would know,” I joked, but what she didn’t know was I meant it, literally. She laughed as she looked up at me. Her long hair was blowing around her face, and she vainly tried to hold it back. It was funny. I started laughed again, relieving the feeling; I couldn't remember the last time I had laughed.

Funny, being a vampire with photographic memory.

She looked up to me, shaking her head. She was so tiny, so slim. I brought her to the door of the gym. I hadn’t realized that we already got there. “Bye,” she said, running off before I could say anything else. I turned around, walking to my car, feeling like a different person.

Bella Swan

“Bye,” I said quickly, and fled away. I didn’t want him to ask anything, like he had done yesterday. After all, what could I tell him? If he asked, Are you alright? again, what could I tell him? That, No, I was about to suicide this morning when I decided against it? Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow? He didn’t see how uncomfortable I was when I walked with him. Whenever I looked up to his perfect… beautiful face, it hit me with a stab of despair, how I must look like a broken tricycle next to him. It would remind me constantly of Daniel, how handsome his features were. Of course, nothing, nothing compared to the Cullens, but good-looking nonetheless. And when I’d think of Daniel, my mind would switch to Renee…

The betrayal tears had come again, and I wiped them before anyone could see. I slipped uncomfortably into my gym gear, trying not to show the striking scar on my shoulder that Renee had caused. No, it was because I got scratched by a branch when I was small, to the others…

Alice Cullen

Jasper waited for me outside the art room, like I knew he would. Ha ha. My personal joke.

I smiled at him and started to say something, before he pulled me off to the side. I began to protest, but then he pointed out two figures walking in the distance. I smiled widely.

Edward and Bella walked together, just inches apart. They were both laughing at something. She had a slightly defensive posture, but seemed to relax with every step. But that didn’t matter, as long as they were together.

Tanya and Emmett came up behind me, emerging from the same class. “What are you looking at, Alice?” said Tanya impatiently. I steered her off, talking rapidly about the next shopping trip. Behind our backs, Jasper pointed out the retreating figures. Emmett’s face fell. He turned around, a forlorn expression on his face. He pouted, handing me five hundred- notes.

“Oh no, the puppy-dog won’t work with me,” I said. I grabbed the money and smiled consentingly up at him.

“Don’t mess with her, brother,” advised Jasper.

“What are you betting against, Emmett?” asked Tanya, turning around. She would have looked like a deer in the headlights, the way she and Edward were so completely clueless.

“Oh, nothing,” I said quickly. “Nothing.”

She stalked off haughtily, not caring enough to ask. I high-fived Emmett. “And that, Emmett, is a job well done.”

Bella Swan

With the volleyball incident finally fading out of my cheeks, I walked to the truck, trying desperately not to think of Edward Cullen.