Betting on Success
The time had come for us to relocate. Again. I’d caught a few stray thoughts from several of the wary, yet still exceptionally unobservant humans, who seemed to find it odd that in the seven years of living here we seemed to lack the aging gene. 15 years have passed since Renesmee was born, and now the Cullens are relocating. Renesmee, Jacob and Bella experience the high school charade for the first time with the rest of the family. But what happens when Jacob wants to start a little bet?
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The tiny office didn’t have the capacity to hold all of us, so Alice and I entered alone while the rest waited just outside. The room was empty except for the mousey-haired receptionist who was doing some filing and worrying about her finances. We approached the desk silently. “Excuse me?” Alice asked in her soprano voice, causing the receptionist to jump. She swivelled round in her chair, and her jaw dropped. Her eyes flickered between us briefly, and when she realised she was gaping she hurried to close her mouth. Who do we have here? she thought appraisingly.
“Can- can I help you?” she stuttered, as she scrutinised me closely. Her name badge was lopsided, yet revealed that her name was Ms. Barrett.
“I’m Edward Black, this is my sister Alice Cullen,” I informed her softly, trying my best not to scare her, ignoring the way her heart beat slightly faster as she listened to me speak. “The rest of our family is outside.”
I had agreed to take on Jacob’s last name since Renesmee, who clearly inherited her mother’s stubbornness, insisted on keeping her married name, and as her ‘brother’ I could hardly have a different surname. Then again, Bella had asserted that she wouldn’t be using any name other than Cullen (which was also being used for Alice, Emmett and Jacob), and considering we were trying to downplay our marriage it was probably for the best that our last names were separate. Rosalie had firmly claimed Hale, of course; still clinging onto her human life, and because she and Jasper were ‘twins’, he too was stuck with that name. He didn’t mind. It worked out well that none of us shared a last name with our spouses, hence none of us would carry the ‘sibling’ association with each other.
It took Ms. Barrett a few seconds to gather her thoughts. She tapped into her computer briefly, then looked back up at us. “Their names are?” she asked in a slightly breathless voice.
I reeled off their names as she typed them into the system. Several moments later the printer whirred and she retrieved our schedules and several maps of the school. “Thank you very much,” I smiled, turning to follow Alice out of the office. Ms Barrett’s pulse sputtered dangerously and I briefly wondered if I should be worried about giving her a cardiac arrest.
Alice seemed to be thinking the same thing. “Edward,” she chastised, “you really shouldn’t do that to her.”
I smiled innocently as we rejoined the family, who had convened to a more private place. “I can’t help it if I’m irresistible.”
I’ll second that, Bella thought slyly, and her hand lingered on mine longer than really necessary as I handed over her schedule. We were all silent briefly as we memorised our timetables.
I glanced over Bella’s shoulder. “Biology together, just like the good old days.”
She grinned. “Except that you won’t be tempted to tackle and kill me this time.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t rule out the tackling part,” I said suggestively. Renesmee rolled her eyes. My parents, the sex-addicts, she thought wryly. Nessie had never really been fussed about our obvious attraction to each other; she’d grown up with it.
“Lighten up, Nessie,” I chuckled. “At least almost all of your lessons are with Jacob.” She brightened immediately. “They are?” and with that, she turned to Jacob to compare schedules. I noticed the way they altered their body language to a more casual stance. It didn’t escape Bella’s eyes either. They really want to win this bet, don’t they? she mused, as she glanced at Alice’s schedule over her shoulder.
I snorted. “They don’t have a chance,” I muttered under my breath, so quietly that only Bella heard.
How many classes do we have together? she showed me a mental picture of her timetable. A triumphant smile spread over my face. “All but second and third period. ” Her eyes lit up with the revelation, and I could tell she wanted to kiss me in celebration, but as that may have violated the bet conditions, she settled with a high five instead.
I soon became aware of another set of thoughts focused on us. The girl who had almost crashed this morning was gossiping about us to her wide-eyed friend. Without us in her presence the fear was lost, and she was gushing about our faultless complexions, thinking ruefully about her own acne. I scanned her friend’s thoughts. She was excited; she couldn’t wait to glimpse us herself. Although they were whispering, we could still hear their giggled words from around the corner, walking slowly away from us.
“How many of them were there?”
“I didn’t see exactly, but probably about seven…maybe eight?”
“And they were all gorgeous?”
“Like you wouldn’t believe.” They were walking to join their friends now.
“Hold on. You’ve forgotten the most important part. Were they single?” Her friend had stopped walking.
“Well, it was pretty obvious that there were two couples. The way they were hanging off each other…” her tone hinted at disapproval. “But there were two who I think were single. The two girls standing beside them weren’t all over them for one thing.”
Bella and Nessie shifted uncomfortably beside me. The fact that they hadn’t staked their claim on myself and Jacob made them both extremely anxious, and I yearned to reach out and comfort my wife. I wouldn’t have minded if Jacob comforted his, either, if it would help us win the bet.
The girl’s friend giggled again. “What did they look like, then?”
“Seriously, Fi, one of them was out of this world. Pale as a ghost, but the most gorgeous hair. He was kinda muscular, too,” she added thoughtfully. The girl named Fi sighed. Her friend continued.
“And when he smiled? Oh. My. God,” She giggled. Bella’s eyes narrowed as the girl went into a minute-detail analysis of the colour of my hair. She’s getting it all wrong. Red-brown? That could never describe the perfection of your hair, Bella thought tenderly. I made goo-goo eyes at Alice again.
“Whoa, Kristen, slow down. What about the other one?”
“Well, for starters, can you say tall?”
Fi paused, we all smirked as we heard her heart rate increase. “How tall are we talking, here?”
“I’m thinking he’s going to have trouble walking through the door.”
And that’s when Fi’s mind took off in a direction I was all too familiar, and disgusted, with. The fantasies started, thick and fast, before she even knew more than ‘tall’. Fi forced out a laugh through her haze of daydreams. “What else?”
I pulled myself out of her mind soon after that. Suffice it to say Jacob-imitation fantasies were not my favourite way to start the school year.
I smirked at my family, whom were all faux-fidgeting even though no other students were present at the moment, and informed them of the latest development. Emmett laughed loudly, clapping Jacob on the shoulder. “Tough break, kid!”
Jacob seemed to have lost some of his confidence at the new information. He’d assumed that, what with being the only complete non-vampire, that he would (gladly) receive little to no attention. He had clearly not taken hormone-riddled teenage girl fetishes into account. Nessie was not much happier. A scowl passed over her normally cheerful features and she had to restrain herself from clinging on to Jacob possessively. I don’t want anyone lusting after my Jacob, she thought irritably.
I raised an eyebrow. Perhaps this would be easier to win than I thought.
After Fi forced a thorough description of Jacob out of Kristen, they finished walking to their friends in silence. I doubted Fi would be able to maintain much of a conversation after I regrettably saw what was running through her mind.
Kristen, however, was not in the frame of mind to carry much of a conversation herself; she had just spied Jason with her friends. As I saw him flash through her mind I wondered idly what exactly she saw in him. He certainly wasn’t what one would consider handsome. Perhaps he had the personality to make up for it. I mentally shrugged. The dynamics of the high school dramas did little to interest me, unless of course, myself or a family member was involved. The only reason I was listening now was to determine how the school was perceiving us. If any suspicions arose we had to know as soon as possible before anyone had the chance to confirm them.
At the moment, the school was buzzing like a hive of angry hornets. Kristen had done well in spreading the news of our arrival. I shuddered at the amount of males who had heard about my wife and daughter already.
Kristen enjoyed being the centre of attention as she described us once more, wondering if Jason liked her new fringe, hoping he didn’t notice her unfavourable skin beneath it.
I couldn’t resist peeking in Jason’s mind. He wasn’t thinking about how he felt about Kristen, instead focusing on the fact that she had seen two new single girls. He enquired about their appearance and Kristen grudgingly confirmed that they were ‘kind of pretty’. I snorted. That was the understatement of the century; like stating that Mike Newton had been ‘kind of annoying’.
I had to contain my laughter as Jason thought confidently that he would actually have a chance with my wife or daughter. He, as well as most of the superficial girls in the school, actually considered himself handsome, yet I still saw nothing more than average when he popped up in somebody’s thoughts. Perhaps I was biased.
He had tuned Kristen out once she’d given a very brief description of the female members of my family. She clearly didn’t want to give him ideas. Nevertheless, he turned to his friends and started discussing dating prospects.
Bella and Renesmee were having a hard time keeping a straight face as Jason confidently told his classmates that the new girls would be all over him. “Putty in my hands,” he’d confidently stated. I felt a twinge of annoyance, of jealousy--though I knew that was totally unjustified. It was just the way he spoke about them. Almost like they were objects to be acquired; it was the shiny-toy concept all over again.
I swept my annoyances aside; he didn’t have a chance with either of them, we were just playing with his mind, I thought with satisfaction. When Jason’s juvenile friends dared him to befriend one of them by the end of the day, I had to cough to hide my laughter from the starry-eyed junior walking past and peeking at us out of the corner of her eye. She may have questioned my sanity if I laughed for no reason.
Jason assured his friends with full confidence that at least one of them would be attracted to him by the time they got home. I almost admired his self-assurance. Almost.
At that moment the bell rang. It seemed automatic to take Bella’s hand and walk to class together, but I unwillingly restrained myself. I noticed that Bella’s hand had twitched as well. We smiled sheepishly at each other.
Poor kids aren’t going to last half the day, Emmett thought with, I noticed, satisfaction. He’d put his vote with Jacob and Nessie, clearly. “Yeah, we’ll see,” I mumbled under my breath. Emmett laughed loudly, making a lone straggler twenty feet ahead of us jump and look around briefly, before hurrying off even faster.
Rosalie nudged Emmett warningly. “Aw hell, give me a break, Rose, I just laughed,” he grinned at her. She glared for a few seconds, before grinning back and taking his hand to lead him off to English. “Let us know when you fail,” she smirked back at Bella and myself, and Emmett laughed again. As if you two could keep your hands off each other, she thought at me, still amused. Jacob and Renesmee’s thoughts were far too smug for my liking.
I rolled my eyes, and Bella glared at Jasper and Alice as we all set off for class. “You’re betting against us too, aren’t you?”
Alice looked up at Bella with a hurt look on her face. “Of course not, Bella, I believe in you. I’m the one who taught you to act…better than you used to, anyway.” No one could doubt the sincerity in her tone. Bella looked slightly gratified and turned to Jasper. “What about you?”
Jasper looked at Bella sheepishly. “Well, it’s just…” he hesitated. Bella pursed her lips waiting. I smiled at her impatient expression. “It’s just that the lust radiating off of the both of you is so strong all the time!” Jasper burst out. I was glad we were out of earshot of anyone at that point. “Much stronger than Jake and Nessie, no offence to you at all,” he added to Jacob and Renesmee. They didn’t seem offended. On the contrary, they were quite amused by this revelation.
Bella paused, mulling it over. “It’s that bad?” she asked doubtfully, chewing her lip. If she still had the ability to blush, she’d be crimson right now. As I watched her and remembered how her teeth had felt on me, a familiar sensation stirred deep in my core, and Jasper raised his eyebrows at me. I rest my case, he thought smugly. Alice laughed at Bella’s expression.
“Worse than Emmett and Rosalie, even. Don’t tell them I said that though, I don’t think I could handle a competition,” Jasper told us with a stricken look on his face. Even Bella laughed at that. “I’d have thought it would have settled down over the years,” he added thoughtfully. Bella looked away, embarrassed. Thankfully, we all had to split up to attend our different classes, and as Jasper, Jacob and Renesmee went in the direction of the gymnasium, and Alice danced off for trigonometry, Bella and I gave a heavy sigh of relief as we approached the science lab together. She still seemed mortified.
“Don’t worry about it, love,” I said, winking cheekily. “We are married, after all.”
She laughed. “And I’ll be taking full advantage of that tonight just as soon as we get home,” she told me huskily, her gold eyes smoldering with what could only be interpreted as lust.
If only this woman knew what she did to me! My breathing hitched, and I had to concentrate on keeping my imagination in control. I could barely stop myself from jumping on her now. “Bella, you are far too seductive for your own good,” I told her in a low voice.
She leaned closer. “I could say the same to you, Mr. Cullen.”
We paused outside the biology lab. Everyone else had already filed inside. Taking a deep breath, I attempted to calm myself. If I didn‘t change the subject soon we would be more than at risk of losing a bet. The activities swirling through my mind could only end in expulsion.
“Are you ready?” I asked, too quiet for human ears.
She braced herself. As ready as I’ll ever be, she thought. She grinned up at me, then gracefully strode through the doorway. I stared after her for a fraction of a second, dazzled, I’ll admit, before shaking my head clear and striding through after her.