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The Sunshine Train

Create your own banner at mybannermaker.com!John F. Kennedy said once that the courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of a final moment; but it is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy. A man does what he must, in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures, and that is the basis of all morality.
I couldn't agree more.
Courage was the reason I was here. Courage and love. We know Edward and Bellas story during Twilight, but what if it was different? What if Alice was the new girl, and Bella was already a vampire? Would Jaspers self-control hold out when he meets a girl whos blood smells so intoxicating to him? Mostly AxJ, all canon pairings. Thank you so much to MoonSpinner for the amazing banner!!

Read on and enjoy. Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight, and i never ever ever will :(

4. Invitations

Rating 5/5   Word Count 5386   Review this Chapter

"One fire burns out another’s burning,
One pain is lessen’d by another’s anguish"


In my dream it was dark and stiflingly warm, but I could feel a cool breeze blowing from the east, caressing my hair, making my dress flutter round my legs. I welcomed the breeze, but it couldn’t cool me down. I was too warm, I was burning all over, from the tips of my fingers, to the tips of my toes. I opened my eyes, and they were stung by the salty air, and I realised I was by the sea. I could hear the crash of the waves, and the rustle of leaves in the trees. But I couldn’t see them. I could only see white, a blinding white light. A light so bright it sparkled, shining and glowing. It nearly blinded me, and I longed to close my eyes, to cover my face, anything to shield myself from the painful light. And then I realised that the painful light was Jasper, it was coming from him, shining from deep within his skin.

He smiled at me, light glinting off his teeth, his teeth, which were startlingly sharp. “Trust me,” he whispered. And then he pounced.

I work with a start, my heart pounding wildly, my breathing erratic and laboured. I felt like there was a heavy weight settled on my chest, messing with my head. I rubbed my hands through my short hair, rubbing drowsiness from my eyes, and groaned. Today was Monday, and this being a ridiculously small town, everyone would know of the incident at the mall on Saturday. I was not looking forward to being in the limelight.

The weeks after the incident were even more shaken up than my first days here. My Monday morning was filled with incredulous glances and whispers. I got so many pats on the back, and hugs of people who ‘were scared I’d died’ that I was sure I would have bruises tomorrow. The only upside were some hilarious rumours I heard, ranging from Jasper pushing me into the fire, to me purposefully burning Rosalies hair off, to ‘teach her right for being such a bitch’.

I wondered how the Cullens were faring, from what I gathered they hated the limelight as much as I did. And now they were playing the part of ‘Heroes’ in the most recent epic tale to hit Forks High.

I was followed everywhere by an incredulous band of followers, looking at me in awe, like I had cheated death and was someone to be praised. No matter how many times I insisted that all I’d done was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, this only added ‘Modesty’ to the growing list of ‘Reasons To Love Alice Brandon’ that seemed to be growing throughout the student body.

I walked to the canteen surrounded by followers, wishing for anything to save me, praying that there was something out there, some higher power to save me from the slow and painful death of becoming popular. Especially becoming popular because I didn’t die. Apparently God was listening to the wishes of the inhabitants of Forks on that rainy Monday afternoon, because the first thing I saw in the canteen was Rose and Bella. They were sitting with Jasper, Emmett and Edward.

As soon as I met their eyes, they smiled and waved me over, oblivious to the incredulous stares they were getting. Apparently no one ever sat with the Cullens.

I nearly ran over to them, thankful for any reason to get away “Thank You SO much!” I said, sinking into a chair, putting my head in my hands, knowing that no one, however into Hero Worship they were, would venture to the Cullens table. Despite the part they played in the weekends events, I had learned that no one had even spoken to the Cullens, avoiding them even more than usual, if it was possible.

“How’s being the local Damsel in Distress fairing you?” Emmett grinned to me, the first one to speak after I’d sat down. I rolled my eyes, “It’s horrible! It’s quite possibly the worst thing to happen since I moved herE” my eyes met Jaspers, and I directed this to him, “And I really mean that”

That was the last time I’d spoken to him, despite sitting at lunch with Bella and Rosalie most days, our conversations were mainly directed towards safe subjects, like shopping and movies. Jasper never once spoke to me, just glared at the table, picking at his food, ignoring me.

I greeted him pleasantly enough at the start of each English lesson, but he would only nod in response, and spent the whole hour staring at his work. I was particularly surprised when it didn’t burst into flames.

“What did your paper do to deserve to be glared at like that?” I said to him one lesson, when the silence between us had grown to such lengths, that it was actually ringing in my ears.

He turned to look at me, seeming shocked that I was talking to him. He opened his mouth to speak, but I cut him off, “Look. I don’t know why you’re ignoring me, I don’t really know anything to do with you. But I would like to know why. I don’t want you to hate me”

“Alice” he groaned, his eyes rolling back, “Alice I don’t hate you. You…you don’t know what you’re getting into with me”

“Jasper, I’ve shouted at you, spouted mindless word vomit on countless occasions, you’ve accidentally seen me topless, you’ve saved my life, and you’ve completely ignored me for the past three days. How much worse can it really get between us?”

He turned to me, with one eyebrow raised, and I suddenly wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted that question answered.

The weeks slowly passed, the snow washed away by the rain, and soon the incident at the mall was just a faint blur in the background, fading with every passing day. My popularity hadn’t faded at all, much to my chagrin, and I was finding it harder and harder to talk to Jasper; he was being as non-committal as normal during our English lessons, and at lunchtime, and he avoided crowds with a passion. This meant him avoiding me, as I was unfortunately surrounded by people in-between classes.

I was unaware of any upcoming school events, until a particularly dreary Sunday evening, was interrupted by a phone call. It was Bella.

“Hey Ali!” she said, as soon as I answered the phone, “Listen I forgot to tell you, it’s the Girls Choice Spring Dance in a few weeks. Yes I know. I hate dancing as much as you do, and we’re probably not going to go. But I felt like telling you, in case you want to?”

I let out a humourless chuckle, “I probably want to go less than you do Bells. I’m defiantly not going now that I know you and Rose aren’t. Maybe we could do something that weekend instead?”

“Course we can Ali, listen I’ve got to go I – “

She cut off violently, but although I could still hear her voice buzzing in my ear, the words made no sense to me. “No!” I choked, as I recognised the creeping feeling “No it’s been so long!”

Jasper was next to me in my car; he was driving it, but not looking at the road. His golden eyes were covered with sunglasses. The sun was shining brightly through the clouds and landing on his face. His skin was alight with sparkles, shining like the surface of a diamond. He gave me a lazy smile, before turning back to the road.

Jasper was lying on the branch of a tree, his arm dangling over the edge, as he spoke, but I couldn’t make out the words. His shirt was open, and his skin was sparkling brightly in the light, shimmering like a precious jewel.

“- Alice? Alice are you there? Are you Ok?”Bellas voice was desperate in my ear, “Alice? Answer me!”

“Sorry Bella. I’m here, I just…I’ve gotta go sorry. I’ll see you tomorrow yeah? Bye”

I slammed the phone down, breathing deeply. I’d gone so long without having a vision, I was almost hoping that they had disappeared. But of course they hadn’t.

Because I wasn’t planning to go to the stupid Spring Dance, I was hoping that I would avoid the whole ‘asking someone to the dance’ situation. Apparently I was wrong about that as well.

“Hey Alice!” A voice nearly shouted in my ear as I got out of the car the next morning. I flinched slightly, before turning round and putting on a fake smile, “Hi Mike, how’s life?”

“Great as always, look I was wondering. Are you going to the Spring Dance? I know it’s girls choice, but I was wondering if maybe…you would choose me?”

“Oh…” I faltered. This was not what I was expecting, this was the very thing I’d been trying to avoid, “I…I wasn’t going to go to the Spring Dance. I’m not really the…dancing sort.”

His face fell slightly, but I wasn’t in the mood to care, “Ok…well if you change your mind. I’m always here!”

I smiled as widely as I could, and he was apparently completely oblivious to the fact that it was fake. I tiptoed through the rest of the day, avoiding as many boys as I could. I swear nearly every boy in the year was sending me furtive glances all day, looking for any chance to get me alone.

I managed to make it to English without any hold up, and sank into my seat next to Jasper with a sigh of relief. He sent me a bemused look, but seemed to understand as I felt someone behind me.

“Hey Alice!” Eric said, purposefully ignoring Jasper, sitting silently behind me. I felt him shift slightly, as though he was ready to defend me from anything.

“Hi Eric” I sighed “What’s up?”

“I was hoping you would consider going to the school dance with me?” his voice rang with confidence, as though he was sure I would say yes. I felt, rather than heard, Jasper growl behind me.

“Sorry Eric, I’m not –“

“Did you already ask someone?” he cut in angrily, his eyes narrowing on Jasper behind me.

“NO! Eric no! I’m not even going to the Dance!” I said.

“Oh.” He seemed calmer now, but I could see Jasper out of my peripheral vision, still tensed, “Why aren’t you going?”

“I don’t want to, I’m not really one for dances.”

Eric looked like he was ready to argue, but turned dejectedly, and wandered back to his seat. I could feel Jaspers eyes on me, but I refused to look at him.

“Why aren’t you going to the dance?” his voice was quiet, quiet enough to not be heard over the lesson, but loud enough to ring in my ears.

“So you’re talking to me again?” I said coldly, avoiding his question. His mouth twitched slightly, “Yes. It appears that I am. I’m not quite sure why though”

“For Gods Sake!” I said, my voice rising dangerously high, a few people shifted slightly in their seats, as my voice disrupted the lesson, “Shhh!” he hissed, pressing his fingers against my lips.

It was the most physical contact we’d ever had while I’d been conscious, and I loved it. My eyes fluttered closed, and for a moment I forgot how to breathe. The faint pressure of his fingers disappeared, and I opened my eyes, leaning forwards unconsciously. He had moved back very slightly, strain evident on his face.

“Why have you been avoiding me like the plague?” I whispered.

He smiled, with no humour evident in his face, and he leant forwards, “A plague I can handle Miss Brandon. But you…you could kill me in a thousand different ways with a flutter of those beautiful eyes of yours”

I nearly ran from the lesson when the bell rang, desperate to get away from him. If I had to hear that voice and see those eyes for a second longer, I wouldn’t be held responsible for my actions. I leant against the wall of the Gym, breathing hard, still feeling the ghost of pressure on my lips of his cool fingers. I rubbed at them desperately, trying to get the feeling to go away.

Gym was torture; I was so small that even if the ball did mange to find its way over to me, amid the forest of arms and bodies, I couldn’t mange to pass it effectively to anyone. My teammates learnt to not pass to me, after these first few incidents, and I was finally ignored. I passed the rest of the lesson leaning against the back wall, pulling faces at Angela whenever she looked at me desperately.

Angela had a way of making me feel better, something that Bella and Rosalie hadn’t yet managed to do. She was kind, and honest. She had a way of making things seem better than they were, and the shortest conversation with her left me feeling so much better than I had done. Rose and Bella were great friends, and I loved spending time with them. But their secrecy was getting to me. The whole family was hiding something huge, something I was sure kept appearing in my visions. I was determined to find out what was going on with them, why Jasper seemed to be down with a case of love Bipolar.

I practically ran to my car as soon as Gym was over, longing for the feeling of something familiar.

To sit in comfortable seats I loved after a day that had shaken my emotions up so much, that if anyone made me open my mouth, I would bubble over.

I jerked my car into gear, and drove a few feet forwards, turning my radio on as loud as it would go, and singing along to the song that came on,

I need to take a shower when I look at you
You sting and hurt like a bad tattoo
I wish you'd change my point of view

I cruise the canyon to get a breeze
With Hidden Treasures up my sleeve
I like the light and hate the heat

I sang as loudly as I could, glad that I had parked down one end of the lot, and that no one could hear me as I drove towards the front gates, and freedom. A very – perhaps too – familiar yellow Porsche slid out of its space a few feet away from me, gliding in front of me, cutting me off.

I squinted through the glass, and saw an all to familiar figure driving the familiar car, sitting in the front seat, apparently waiting for the rest of his family, who I could see walking towards him, across the lot.

I glared at him, not caring if he could see me or not. He deserved what glares he got from me right now.

There was a knock on the window next to met, and I jerked slightly, before rolling the window down, “Hey Tyler. Sorry, Hale won’t move.” This elicited another glare from me at his car.

“No Alice, it’s ok. I just wanted to ask you something…”

Oh you have got to be kidding me.

“No Tyler!” I half shouted, “I will NOT go to the Spring Dance with you. I’m not going to the Spring Dance anyway, and if I was I wouldn’t go with you! I wouldn’t go with anybody, because none of you hold any interest for me! And the only interest you see in me, is the fact that I didn’t die 3 weeks ago!”

Tyler was speechless. He opened and closed his mouth a few times, a strange noise choking from his throat. Then he turned around, and walked back to his car.

I smiled wryly to myself, and turned back to the car in front of me. I could see Jaspers shoulders shaking slightly, he appeared to be doubled over with laughter. I narrowed my eyes, my foot pressing slightly on the gas pedal.

My car inched forwards slightly; just a tiny bump wouldn’t hurt the beautiful car. Normally I wouldn’t even dream of hurting something so amazing, but I wasn’t feeling like myself today. I revved my engine, and the car shot forwards, smacking hard into Jaspers Porsche, the awful sound of scraping metal filling the air. I back away a few feet, pleased to see an ugly dent deep in the side, the yellow paint scratched away, leaving a gaping grey hole.

Jasper looked gob smacked. Like I had actually gone up to him, and punched him in the face. Like I had purposefully driven my car into his. Oh wait I thought, that’s what I did do.

I smirked at him, noticing for the firs time, his siblings standing on the other side of the car, doubled over with laughter at him. Rosalie looked at me like I had committed sacrilege, hurting the car. But it got the better of her too, and she was soon laughing with the others. I grinned to myself, immediately feeling better, turned up the radio, and swerved around the Porsche, singing along as I flashed him a bright smile, and sped out the gate.

They all come here to find a scene
But end up girls on methadrine
Naked on a TV screen
The dreams that fall beneath my feet
Make my footsteps feel so sweet
But your kisses are my fait accompli

I'm independence
Yea-a I'm borderline
Yea-a I'm California
My mind's all screwed and upside down
But my heart's on overdrive
Yea my heart's on overdrive

I got home in record timing, my jubilant feeling fading somewhat, as what I’d done hit me. Oh shit! I’d mutilated his car! He’d barely spoken to me recently, and now he would never speak to me again!

Well he probably wouldn’t anyway, why would he bother himself with me? I was nothing special, nothing beautiful, nothing amazing. He was. He was interesting…and brilliant…and perfect…and beautiful…and completely wonderful in every single way. And possibly able to walk through fire without getting burnt, without choking from the smoke.
I hadn’t thought about the fire for a few weeks. But every now and then, when I was just drifting off to sleep, or in a particularly boring lesson, parts of it would come back to me.

I remembered flying. Or maybe not flying, as I thought about it now, it was probably Jasper carrying me, but I remember feeling the tips of my fingers burning slightly as we neared the flames. My clothes from that day were scorched slightly, and I had burns around my fingernails.

We had definitely been very close to the fire when he carried me out; all I could remember was the heat, the thick smoke, not being able to breathe. And his face, beautiful as always. But his skin was still icy cold, the smoke didn’t irritate his eyes, he wasn’t coughing or choking. In fact I don’t even remember him breathing.
I shook myself from the thoughts, as a knock on my door sounded.

I frowned. No one knocked on the door. People rang the bell. And Isaac used his key. We never had visitors. I went to the door, and opened it.

“Rose? Bella? What are you doing here?!”

They grinned, “We didn’t get a chance to talk to you today, we need to plan next weekend!”

“Yeah and we needed to congratulate you for what you did to Jaspers car today!”

I blushed, “ I shouldn’t have done it! He’s gonna hate me now, more than he already did!”

“He doesn’t hate you Ali. He needed someone to knock him off his high horse, and that’s exactly what you did. From the way he’s been treating you he deserved a lot more than a dent in his car!”

By this time Rosalie was halfway up my stairs, clearly heading for my bedroom, with Bella a few steps after her. I raced after them, finding Bella sitting on my bed, and Rosalie examining my walk-in closet. I watched them for a moment, it not occurring to me to ask them how they new where my room was, before I remembered something.

“Hey, have either of you heard of the word ‘Quileute’?” I asked, not missing the look that passed between them for a split second, before – “Quileute? There’s the Quileute tribe up by La Push beach. Why’d you ask?” said Bella, feigning confusion and disinterest, but I could see through her. She wasn’t the best actress.

I shrugged, “No reason. Rose, lets dress Bella up like a doll!”

They left my house around 11, after I got a call from Isaac, saying he was going to work the night shift, and would be home when I got back from school the next day. We spent the evening watching girly films and playing dress up. Not once did any one of us mention dinner, but I wasn’t hungry, and I figured they’d say something if they were.


I wasn’t exceptionally pissed off when Alice put a dent in my car. It was something I’d seen coming for a long time, knowing that she wouldn’t put up with my unanswered questions and stony silences for that much longer. And plus, fixing it gave Rosalie and Emmett something to do all night.
In fact I was more pissed off with myself when Bella and Rosalie got home, because man they had words to say.

“You listen to me Jasper Whitlock. Right now!” Rosalie stormed in the front door, poking her finger right in my chest. I would never admit that it actually really hurt, “That poor girl has been beating herself up over beating up your car. She cares more than you freakin’ do!”

“She spent the whole night moping, because she thinks you hate her ‘more than you already did’” Bella chimed in, stalking behind Rose, her eyes fixed angrily on my face,

“So if you think you can just mess the poor girl around, think again! Either be nice to her and stay nice, or change your mind, and we leave Forks and never come back!”

I considered both options. Most girls would run screaming from a teenage boy, who admits to being a vampire, who admits to suffering from bloodlust as well as regular hormonal lust. After suffering bloodlust, hormones would be a walk in the park.

But a life without Alice, I couldn’t imagine it. I couldn’t imagine not seeing her face everyday, hearing her laugh, watching her anger as I did something she didn’t like, feeling her unpredictable emotions hit me like a crashing wave. Alice would always feature in my future, and I didn’t even want to consider it without her. She and I were meant to be together; I wanted to be with her always. Always and forever.

I looked up, my decision clear on my face, Edward was grinning over at me, having been following my thoughts, knowing what I was thinking. Rose and Bella seemed satisfied, and turned away from me, sitting in front of the wide-screen, focusing their attention on a meaningless chick flick. I used the opportunity to escape upstairs, and settled myself on my sofa, Alices face fixed in my head.

I picked up my battered guitar, bought in Texas several decades ago, it had travelled everywhere with me, and strummed a few chords. A song came to mind, and it’s lyrics fit my situation perfectly. My fingers played along the strings, and I sang a song to Alice into the night.

Love of mine some day you will die

But I'll be close behind

I 'll follow you into the dark

No blinding light or tunnels to gates of white

Just our hands clasped so tight

Waiting for the hint of a spark

I f heaven and hell decide

That they both are satisfied

Illuminate the no's on their vacancy signs

If there's no one beside you

When your soul embarks

Then I'll follow you into the dark

When I got up the next morning, the dent in my Porsche was neatly straightened out, the scratches buffed and repainted. It looked as good as new, but the intention was still there. I was still amazed she’d done it. Not many girls would have the guts to ram their pretty pink car into mine, and Cullens car no less.

I was nervous as I drove to school. Edward and Bella were in the back of the car, the love the were directing at each other was enough to make me feel physically nauseous, but I would rather think about that than what I was going to do doing. I was going to…be nice to her.

To let her into my life, with no regrets, and nothing but self-control to hold me back. I was literally giving everything to this girl; she was going to hold both our lives in her hands, with absolutely no idea.

I was nearly shaking with nerves as I drove into the parking lot, my ears straining for her heartbeat, the sound I had become so accustomed to hearing every day. Her heart beat very loudly for a human, like it was ready to burst at any moment, like it was so full of love, desperate to share with someone. She can share her love with me I thought, and Edward frowned in confusion as he heard me. I grinned, Get out of my head, and I won’t tell Bella what I heard you two doing yesterday…

“Come on Bells” Edward said suddenly, grabbing her hand, “He’s gonna get all swoonwy over the New Girl, we’d better clear off”

“The ‘New Girl’ as you so kindly named her, is called Alice, Edward” Bella said, leading him from the car, and strolling away.

And I was left alone, pondering my misgivings. I was become seriously depressed, when I heard a very familiar voice in the distance, about 58 seconds away. I smiled as I listened to her sing along to a song playing in her car, her high voice weaving a delicate melody through the tune.

I don't want to be
one of the boy-oy-oy-oys
one of your guys
just give me a chance to prove to you tonight
that I just want to be
your homecoming queen
their poster dream
not one of the boys

I wanna be a flower not a dirty ring
I wanna smell like roses, not a baseball team.
And I swear maybe one day, you're gunna wanna
make out, make out, make out with me.

She was still singing as her car pulled in next to mine, so into the song that she didn’t seem to notice that my blissfully dent-free car was right next to hers. I got out, slamming the door, and was by her side before she’d even turned round.

She started slightly, her heartbeat faltering as her eyes met mine. She bit her lip, confused and…scared? Searching my face for…anger?

Oh! I thought, Of course! She’s worried I’ll be angry about my car! Well she’s not the only one who can be unpredictable!

I smiled at her, and heard her heartbeat skip another few beats, and held my arm out to her – after all I’d been brought up to treat women with nothing but respect. She looked at it for a moment, as though wondering if –

“Don’t worry darlin’, it won’t bite you” I said with a smile. She smiled back, her whole tiny face lighting up, and took my arm, her cool fingers closing around my wrist as our arms linked together.
“Do you do that to everyone?” she said suddenly, breaking the silence that had settled around us. I was lost, “Do what?”

“Call people darling? Is that like…something you do?”

I grinned, “Only you darlin’. Sorry, does it offend you, ‘caus I can stop…”

“No! No it doesn’t offend me! I like it…I just wondered. Are you from…Texas? ‘Caus you’ve got the accent and all…”

“Yep” I grinned at her, “I’m a Texas man, born and bred. I moved in with the Cullens a few years back, in Alaska, and we moved up her a few years after”

She didn’t say anything for a moment, and I wondered what she was thinking. Her face was pensive, and her emotions were…confused. But I couldn’t tell what was confusing her. It was infuriating.

All too soon we were at her first lesson, and she was unwinding her arm from mine, turning to me at the door, unsure what to say. I reached out a hand, swallowing the venom that had gathered in my throat, and smiled at her, running my fingers down the length of her cheek, across her chin. Her eyes fluttered closed, her breathing turned ragged, and she leaned forward slightly, grabbing the doorfram for support.

I smiled at her on last time, and turned away, a heavy feeling of regret settling in my stomach as I left.

The day passed too slowly for me. I’d lived through wars, deaths, rebirth, pain, and every emotion a human could feel. I was over one hundred years old, but High School was really boring.

I nearly screamed with happiness when the lunch bell rang, wrenching myself up as superhuman speed, throwing my books in my bag, and running to the door. I’d made a decision.

I dropped my bag at an empty lunch table, one across from where my siblings were sitting. They all gave me curious looks, but I shook my head, nodding very slightly towards the door. They all turned to see Alice entering, followed as usual by Mike and Eric, and a very pissed off looking Tyler. I smirked slightly, remembering the impressive tongue-lashing she’d given him yesterday.
Edward looked at me, a question burning in his eyes, Will you be Ok?

I nodded, Keep an ear out I thought, and saw him nod slightly.

Alice looked over at their table, her face falling slightly. She looked to the left, and saw me, I grinned at her, and beckoned with one finger.
She picked up a tray of food, and made her way over to me, looking confused, her scent washing over me, familiar and deadly, “Are we not sitting with your family today?”

“Apparently not. I wanted to…talk to you. Properly”

“Oh.” She sat, and poked at her salad, “I’m not hungry” she said, apparantly at a loss of what else to say.

“Tell me about yourself” I said, and she pulled her gaze up from the salad, meeting my eyes, causing that familiar stutter in her heart.

“Theres not much to tell.” She said quietly, unscrewing the top of her lemonade bottle, and taking a sip, “I’ve had an incredabley boring life”

“I doubt that. Look at you! There’s nothing boring about you!”

She raised an eyebrow, “Fine. Born in New York. Moved to Pheonix when I was 6. Love shopping and crowds and the sun. I hate the rain and the snow. And secrets”

She finished abrubtly, breaking off, her eyes piercing into mine. I felt suddenly guilty, so I decided to change the subject.

“Do you want to come to Seattle with me this weekend? I know you have plans with Rose and Bella in the evening, boycotting the school dance and all. But I need to go, and wondered if you would…come with me?”

I had no idea what she would say. Was I expecting her to run into my arms, throwing herself at me and forgiving me for all the evil glares and unanswered questions? Or would she turn me down with a verbal insult so painful I would be nursing my wounds for days? I didn’t know with her anymore, everything she did, everything she felt surprised me.

“Ok.” She said simply, leaving it at that, for which I was thankful. I didn’t want to be answering questions. But of course, my relief was short lived, because the next thing she said was, “Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why do you want to go with me? Why are you going to Seattle. Why do you never give me a straight answer to anything? Why do you never make it clear where we stand with each other? Why should I go with you anyway?”

Her voice was rising to near hysteria, and I leaned quickly across the table, holding my breath as I neared her, avoiding looking at the veins in her neck. I pulled her chin up with my fingers, making her look at me, and stroked my thumb across her bottom lip, using every ounce of self control I could possabley muster.

“Alice. I will answer all of your questions one day. Soon. I promise. I just…not today. Ok?”

She nodded, apparently unable to speak, and I smiled.

“One day soon?” she said, not breaking her gaze from mine.

“One day soon.”