What if the Cullens had not been in Forks when Bella went to live with her father. What if she had the life she was supposed to have with Jacob on the reservation in La Push. What if after several extremely happy years of marriage the Cullens did return to the area and Bella had to interact with them every day. Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the authors. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
11. Chapter 11 - Cold
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I knew before I woke up the next morning that I had been talking in my sleep. The bed was cold which meant that Jacob wasn’t in it any more. Throughout our entire marriage Jacob and I had been an inseparable team. After just a few months of the Cullens living in Forks it felt like our marriage was beginning to fall apart. I didn’t know what I should do. I had a job to do and they would be at the school for the next few years.
Maybe Jacob was right, maybe I should take a job at the reservation school. All I would have to say was that the rest of the vampires weren’t like Carlisle and I didn’t feel comfortable around them. Maybe I would make an exception for Alice. It would feel like a betrayal of our friendship to say that she frightened me.
I wouldn’t even have to accuse the Cullens. I could just say that I was feeling the burden of keeping so many secrets. It was true. I wasn’t kidding when I told Alice that the other teachers wanted to talk about the Cullens all the time. They tried to make me a source of information because I had all of them in my classes and went to the ER regularly. Yes they far outshone the other students but I knew that their academic credentials were the least interesting thing about them.
“Mommy, where’s Daddy?” Billy asked over his Cheerios.
“He had to go to work early today honey. You’ll see him at lunch.” I would have to tell Sue to make sure that Jacob came home for lunch today. Maybe she could bring the boys by the shop and Charlie could play with the lug nuts.
My kids had always lived in a home full of love and I wasn’t about to let that change. I would talk to Jacob about leaving my job. Maybe I would stay through the school year but I would leave sooner if they found someone who could teach honors English. Even if I couldn’t start working at the reservation school until next year that would be okay. Our savings had grown a little thanks to the accident and even without me working Jake made enough to support our family if we kept things simple.
As I drove across the border from the reservation lands I knew that I had been kidding myself. I would keep my job for the same reason that it was causing problems at home. As I left La Push I knew that Edward was watching me and I was thrilled. I loved Jacob with every fiber of my being but I had never felt the adrenaline I felt around Edward and it was addicting. Knowing that he followed me, that he cared for me too made it all the more sweet.
Edward was standing in my doorway at the beginning of lunch for the second time this week.
“I hope you don’t mind if I join you today,” he said.
Other than when he saved my life he had never approached me before. His eyes were like liquid gold and his voice like honey. My heart skipped a beat and it took me a minute to collect my thoughts enough to answer.
“Of course, Edward. My room is always open to my students.” What is wrong with me. Maybe I can’t help being attracted to one of my students but professionalism demands that I don’t spend time alone with that student. At least he left the door open.
He brought a chair right up to the other side of my desk the way that Alice usually did. After months of keeping a careful distance the sudden proximity made me nervous.
“I wanted to thank you for the effort you put into grading my papers and my siblings. Most teachers don’t bother with us.”
“It’s a pleasure to read them.” It seemed odd to come to my office just to say this but at least it was keeping our conversation on school matters and I wasn’t tempted to ask questions I might not want the answer to. “I enjoy reading essays when the students understand the books they read.”
“Why do you do it? You know why we excel above the other students and yet you give us just as much attention as you do the rest of them.”
Actually I gave the Cullens more attention because I enjoyed their writing so much. “It’s my job and I enjoy doing it. If you are going to go through the effort of doing the assignments it is only reasonable that I grade them.”
“Why did you let me return to your class? I was prepared to say that my epilepsy was getting in the way of my schoolwork.” His voice was intense, barely above a whisper. So the conversation was going to go in difficult directions. I guess it had to happen sooner or later.
“I trusted Alice. I didn’t think that she would let me stand in front of you every day if it wasn’t safe. You keep your distance from me and while I don’t understand why I respect that distance.”
“And yet here I sit in front of you and you do not ask me to leave or even cringe away from me.”
Did he want me to be afraid of him? To be honest this was the first time I had ever felt comfortable around Edward. He saved my life when it might have been better for him if he did nothing. Now he was wondering why I was not afraid.
“And once or twice a week I sit with Alice in the very spot you now occupy. Will you tell me why I should be more afraid of you than of her?”
“Do you really want to know?”
“I don’t think not knowing is an option anymore.”
“I don’t think not telling you is an option anymore.” He took a deep breath, winced slightly and gazed at me for a moment before beginning.
“If you don’t wish to see me again after this I will understand. I am leaving school after lunch today so you can inform Alice if that is your preference.”
I started to object but he stopped me with a hand and I let him continue.
“My family works hard to interact with the rest of the world inconspicuously. Part of that means playing the role of student when we find a place we want to stay. The more important part, however, is not drawing attention to our differences. When I met you I nearly gave away our true nature.”
I winced, remembering how he looked at me that day. He was filled with loathing and anger but also looked murderously out of control.
“Do you want me to stop?” he asked.
I shook my head, too frightened to trust my voice.
“While all of our senses are heightened, our sense of smell is our most important. It is by smell that we identify different animals as well as different individuals within a group. You are aware of my family’s natural inclinations and that we have chosen to live differently from others like us. What you may not know is that it is very difficult.” He paused, allowing me to absorb what he was saying.
“I knew that, I was actually concerned about Jasper in the beginning,” I said.
“You have better instincts than I gave you credit for. I thought you must lack an appropriate level of fear when you chose to work with us.”
“I trusted the old legends and I trusted Dr. Cullen.”
“Carlisle is the most trustworthy of us all,” Edward said. “I used to be nearly as trustworthy as he is.”
“I met you.”
At that I shuddered. How could I cause Edward, who had spent nearly a century living under the Quileute treaty, a treaty that was made because he did not hunt humans, to become untrustworthy?
“My scent,” I whispered. And everything made sense.
“It is more potent to me than anything I had ever experienced. It is a miracle that I did not kill you that first day.”
For some reason what he said did not frighten me, I was amazed and intrigued.
“And yet you sit here without threatening me. You sit in my class every day and I have not been harmed. You follow me and saved me from a horrible death. Why? Wouldn’t it have been be easier to change classes and pretend that I didn’t exist.”
“After you proved yourself to be so brave how could I run away like a coward? After you have been so good to my entire family, standing up for us to your own family, how could I give in to the evil in myself. It might have been physically easier to change classes but I could not have lived with myself knowing that I could not trust myself not to harm the most trusting and most good person I have known in my entire existence.” He looked at me with such sincerity and tenderness that I started to loose my breath again, like I had when he stood in my door two days ago.
“Why do you follow me every day?”
“I wish Alice had not told you about that.”
“To protect you. You are so delicate, even for a human, and so prone to accident. I couldn’t bare it if something happened to you.”
That was Jacob’s line. I had to stop him right there. We could not have this conversation, not here. He is my student and I am a married women.
“You have to go Edward,” I said abruptly. “I will see you in class tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of you day.”
He rose to leave. “I’m sorry I frightened you,” he said.
Edward did not frighten me, I did. I was dreaming about him, mooning over his essays and poems like a love-sick teenager. My husband was sleeping in his shop to avoid hearing me say his name at night. If our conversation went any further I might say or do something that could jeopardize my entire life, a life that had everything I wanted before I met Edward Cullen.
“You didn’t,” I assured him. I reached out to touch his hand which was resting on my desk. He looked panicked as if he wanted to withdraw it from the tabletop but he didn’t. It was cold.
- Chapter 2 - The Cottage
- Chapter 3 - Dr. Cullen
- Chapter 4 - Council Meeting
- Chapter 5 - Message
- Chapter 6 - First Day of School
- Chapter 7 - Birthday Present
- Chapter 8 - Please Help Me Name This Chapter
- Chapter 9 - Accident
- Chapter 10 - Forbidden
- Chapter 11 - Cold
- Chapter 12 - Walk in the Woods
- Chapter 13 - Consequences
- Chapter 14 - Goodbyes
- Chapter 15 - Stolen Moments
- Chapter 16 - Party
- Chapter 17 - Lost
- Chapter 18 - Stranger
- Chapter 19 - Saved
- Chapter 20 - Decision
- Chapter 21 - Return
- Epilogue - Bella Turns 30
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- 06 Feb 09
- 12 Jun 09
- In Progress