Please review or rate! The Cullens, Jacob, and Seth move to New Hampshire, where a new vampire comes into their life; but not before a devastating car accident alters Bella's family forever. EXCERPT: Edward sat back down on the bed next to me, and held the neatly-wrapped package out to his daughter. “This is from your mother and me; happy birthday,” he said gently. While her eyes were transfixed on the package, I shot him a silent thought. What is this? He just smiled and left me hanging. Renesmee slowly turned and walked towards the package, thrilled at the prospect of an unexpected treasure. She took the box and carefully untied the ribbon. When she lifted the top of the box, she revealed a stunning gem in the shape of a heart. It was identical to the one Edward gave me after graduation, but instead of a flawless and colorless diamond charm meant for a bracelet, it was a blood red ruby attached to a delicate, silver chain and meant to be worn around her neck.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of Stephanie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended. Bella's POV
11. High School... Again
Rating 4/5 Word Count 2860 Review this Chapter
I couldn’t believe I agreed to this. Of all the dumb, insane, stupid decisions I’d made in my life, this had to be the worst of them all. I wanted to kill someone.
But I couldn’t, because I was late for school, high school. Again.
The fact that I was only going until Christmas break, after which I would start night classes at Dartmouth in January didn’t ease my frustrations at all. Repeatedly going back to high school was, without a doubt, the only downside of spending eternity with Edward.
But I couldn’t argue with my family’s reasoning. Five of us were going to be involved in life at Dartmouth; everything needed to go smoothly. As much as I wanted to spend the next three months wrapped in the cocoon of our new home, everyone thought it would be best if I went ahead and got into the swing of things now. It certainly didn’t help that I had opened my big mouth to Edward and voiced my concerns over integrating with new people.
Carlisle had already begun working nights through a grant-funded position (courtesy of the Masen Swan Foundation) at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. Alice and Jasper would attend night classes at Dartmouth with Edward and me. The weather wasn’t quite predictably overcast enough to take on day classes, and it would be a challenge to maintain regular attendance at our high school – not that I minded that.
Rosalie had no interest in going back to school. She hated going to high school as much as I did. She opted for helping out with Renesmee while Emmett, Jacob and Seth planned to spend their time helping Esme renovate the many buildings and structures that needed work on our new property.
My personal testing ground was Anson Prep, a private school about forty miles from our new house. Most of the students were boarders from out of state. Edward and I were attending as brother and sister, Edward and Bella Masen.
That sound you just heard? That was Emmett, laughing.
So, not only was I going back to high school, I also had to treat my husband like my brother. It was my own private version of hell. Unfortunately, no matter how much I hated the idea, I couldn’t argue that a school with virtually no one from our new town was the perfect place to put my assimilation skills to the test.
At first, Carlisle suggested that Emmett attend high school with me instead of Edward. Given that Emmett was actually my brother, he thought it might make it easier for me to focus on being a convincing human rather than being a convincing sister, but Edward put his foot down. He wasn’t going to give up the home team advantage of hearing people’s thoughts.
After an unprecedented stint of clear, sunny weather, we woke up to a forecast, confirmed by Alice, of five days of overcast skies. Today was our first day, and as much as I had tried to delay our departure, it was time for us to leave for school. Esme looked at her watch. “Okay you two, get out of here. You’re going to be late.”
“I think I feel sick,” I said, trying to be a convincing human teenager. “Maybe I should start tomorrow.”
“You’re sick?” Renesmee asked, genuinely concerned. I gave her head a tussle.
“Not really, sweetie. I just wish I could stay home and play with you all day.” I gave her a big hug.
Esme patted me on the back. “Nice try, kiddo. Stop worrying, you’ll do great.”
“Of course you will,” agreed Emmett. “You’ve been treating Edward like your brother for years now.”
Seth cackled. “Good one, Emmett.”
I shot Emmett daggers with my eyes. “Not in front of the kid, Emmett.”
“Yeah, not in front of the kid, Emmett!” mimicked Renesmee. She loved teasing Emmett as much as he loved teasing me.
Edward held out my book bag. “Come on, Bella, you can teach him some manners later.”
“Promise?” I growled.
“Anything you want, love.”
“Don’t you mean, sis?” Emmett snickered.
I stood up, kissed my daughter on the head, grabbed my bag from Edward, and stalked out to the car.
On the ride, Edward let me stew, but when we pulled into the parking lot, he took my hand before I could get out of the car. “I know you’re nervous, but it’s really not that hard. It’s a completely different experience from this perspective. You’ll see.”
I was unmoved; he sighed.
I hung my head in shame. “I’m sorry. I know I’m being a tremendous baby about this.” He squeezed my hand.
“Okay,” I said, gathering up my courage. “Let’s do this.”
We found our way to the office and received our schedules. I was masquerading as a junior, Edward a senior, so we had no classes together. The day’s only saving grace was that we had lunch together.
Back in the hall, unable to hug or kiss Edward goodbye, I just stood there. It felt so incredibly… wrong.
I shrugged, feeling a bit ridiculous. “See you at lunch?”
“Just use the time to think of the many ways you can make Emmett’s life miserable,” he suggested.
I brightened at the idea. “That, I can do.”
Edward gave me a wink, and took off for his class.
The morning wasn’t nearly as painful as I thought it would be. The kids were definitely curious, and a few of the more outgoing students said hello and introduced themselves, but mainly everyone kept to themselves and paid attention to the teachers.
I quickly discovered that my wide open mind allowed me to pay attention in class and think about a great many other things at the same time. By lunch I had written an English paper that was due by the end of the week, compiled a list of 100 ways to repay Emmett for his endless bad humor, decided what to get my entire family for Christmas and written a letter to Charlie.
In my letter, I described the new property. My reaction to the Cullen home in the woods outside of Forks was one of wonder; my reaction to the property in New Hampshire was nothing short of stunned awe. It was a home for royalty. I had only ever seen properties like it in the movies.
The driveway to the house wasn’t quite as long as the entrance to the Cullen house in Forks, but it was at least a mile long. On the drive in, overgrown fenced pasture alternated with rolling wooded land. The once-elegant barn, now in need of complete renovation, was the first structure I saw when we drove on to the property. Four additional outbuildings, used to store the machinery, vehicles and tools required to keep an estate of this size running smoothly, surrounded the barn’s paddock.
The front “yard” of the house was one massive parking area with a fountain in the center, landscaped sparsely yet tastefully with boxwood, hardwoods and evergreens. The main house itself was a symmetrical brick behemoth with a massive, four story central structure flanked by two equally massive wings, each of which were three and half stories. There were large dormers on the roofline, and giant chimneys were sandwiched between the central structure and the wings, as well as located on the end of each wing.
To the left side of the house was a brick, dormered garage; it was a perfect complement to the house and large enough to house our family’s entire fleet of luxury and recreational vehicles. The top floors of the garage – once used for storage - had been converted into two beautifully appointed apartments, which Jacob and Seth would use until the guest houses on the property were ready for use.
Opposite the garage were three brick outbuildings. One had been converted into the property’s main office, one into a small music studio for Edward and Renesmee, and the other into a design studio for Alice.
Each wing of the house had its own wing, so the entire house formed a large, three sided rectangle that enveloped the most intensely beautiful and jaw-dropping courtyard I had ever seen. While the main house felt like a trip to the twilight zone compared to our cozy cottage in Forks, the courtyard felt like home. It was landscaped so thoughtfully and so intentionally, it was as if the manmade objects were planted by seed and simply grew up out of the foliage.
There were walkways, fountains, and outdoor fireplaces, all made of rough-hewn stone. The seating areas were so well placed they felt inseparable from the draping greenery, crawling ivies and young evergreens. There were small trees that would bloom and flower in springtime, and flowers that would bloom all through the warmer months. Much to my delight, there was an abundance of ferns and moss, giving the courtyard a lushness that reminded me of woods in and around Forks.
The most astonishing feature of the courtyard was a massive, retractable glass roof, which would allow the courtyard to remain open in warmer months, and transform the space into a bright and sunny atrium in the cooler months. It was heaven.
The courtyard and rear of the house overlooked 100 open acres, which came with its own private 35-acre pond. Years of neglect had taken its toll on the wide open space, and Esme, who preferred natural spaces to manicured ones, worked that to her advantage when planning the new landscape. It was now a giant meadow, dotted with hardwoods and evergreens, and the breeze swept the long grasses in waves, creating a dazzling effect. Instead of stone or brick walkways, a few select meandering paths had simply been mowed throughout the meadow.
The tennis court, pool and pool house were offset to the right of the meadow, which was naturally walled in by the 500 acres of forest that encased the entire property. Towards the far left side of the meadow sat four dilapidated Cape Cod style guest cottages, all of which needed a tremendous amount of renovation. The cottages were accessible by a driveway that hugged the edge of the forest and was paved with only loose, wheat colored gravel.
Until the guest cottages were complete, Carlisle, Esme, Alice and Jasper would live on the second and third floor suites in the right rear wing of the house, while Emmett, Rosalie, Edward, Renesmee and I would live on the second and third floor suites in the left rear wing of the house, each of which overlooked the beautiful courtyard. After the cottages were renovated, Edward, Renesmee and I would take up residence in one of the cottages alongside Seth and Jacob. We had become accustomed to having our own space with our daughter, and we both looked forward to having it once again.
As I daydreamed about our new home, a loud bell signaling the end of my biology class brought me back to reality. I gathered up my books and swung my bag over my shoulder, happy that the next forty five minutes would be spent with Edward.
As I walked to lunch, there was a renewed spring in my step. This wasn’t going to be so bad, I thought happily. It made me excited to tell Edward that he was right; this was going to be a piece of cake.
Unfortunately, I found Edward sitting alone in the cafeteria in a barely contained state of fury. I sat down next to him and stared at him. I hadn’t seen him like this in years.
Barely moving his lips, he growled, “I have just spent the last three hours listening to every male in this school fantasize about you. It’s infuriating.”
“Well, try and hold it together,” I pleaded as I looked around the room. “I mean it, people are staring.”
“Trust me, they aren’t staring at me. They’re staring at you.”
I gave a weak smile to our curious classmates. “Edward, they’re staring at both of us, and you look like you could kill someone.”
He hung his head, hiding his face. “This is torture,” he said miserably. “No one should have to hear this about his wife.”
I was about tell him how well the morning went when we both caught a scent that made us forget about who was staring at us and why. We looked around the room and found the source immediately. Walking slowly towards us, with his palms up in a casual and inconspicuous gesture of peace, was a vampire. He looked to be about 40, with slightly graying black hair, skin the color of coffee and cream, and much to our surprise, eyes the color of our eyes; butterscotch.
Edward tensed up even more, if that were even possible.
When he reached our table, the vampire said quietly, “Please, Mr. Masen, you’ll scare the humans. I mean you no harm.” His voice had a bit of a French accent.
We took him in in stunned silence. Edward must have read his thoughts and decided he was telling the truth. He relaxed his shoulders.
“Of course not,” Edward said, quickly.
The vampire kept his voice low, and introduced himself. “I am Jean Renault, Anson Prep’s French teacher. I caught your scents this morning, and I thought, given our…” he paused and smiled, “…mutual circumstances, I would go ahead and introduce myself.”
“Hello, I’m Edward, and this is my sister, Bella.” My eyes went round with shock, and then I remembered why he introduced me as his sister. Being around humans was easy for me, but remembering to lie about who we were was definitely something I would have to get used to.
“Hello, Edward. Hello, Bella.”
“We weren’t aware of any of our kind around here, especially ones who… seek alternative means of nourishment.” Edward said. “Have you lived here long?”
“Two years. My last home was in northern Europe.”
“Are there others?”
“No, I live alone.” He went to speak and then stopped, obviously wrestling with whether to say what was on his mind. “I don’t mean to be rude, but is it possible that you two are actually Edward and Bella Cullen, of the famous Cullen coven?”
I looked at Edward.
“Famous Cullen coven?” I asked, neither confirming nor denying it.
Are we famous?
Edward gave me an almost imperceptible shrug.
The teacher explained, “Bella, the number of times the Volturi have been successfully challenged by anyone can be counted, not on one hand, but on one finger. News like that travels quickly. In fact, I heard about it when I was still in Europe.”
Edward seemed reluctant to give our identities, but he must have seen no threat in Jean Renault’s thoughts. “Yes, I am Edward Cullen, and this is my wife, Bella.” He motioned to a chair. “Would you like to join us?”
At that moment, I noticed another student standing about twenty feet away. He was small, couldn’t have been more than fourteen years old. He watched the exchange between Jean Renault and Edward and me intently. I pushed a thought to Edward.
Do you see the boy watching us?
Edward’s eyes flashed to the boy and back, and I knew he was searching for his thoughts among the babble of other voices in the cafeteria. A brief look of surprise crossed Edward’s face, and he quickly turned his attention back to Jean Renault.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Cullen, we aren’t supposed to fraternize with the students outside of our official responsibilities. But I am very glad to meet you. I’m sure there will be opportunities to get to know one another in a less conspicuous setting. At least I hope so; it’s been a long time since I have seen any of our kind.” He looked at our unopened lunch bags and gave us a grin. “Enjoy the rest of your lunch.”
Jean Renault walked back through the cafeteria, stopping to chat briefly with different groups of students.
I sat back in my chair. “Wow. Of all the scenarios I considered today, that certainly wasn’t one of them.”
Edward shook his head. “No, me either.”
I looked over at the boy again. He was sitting now, but his eyes were still on us. He looked down at his lunch when he realized I was watching him.
“The boy is still watching us.” I said.
“He thinks in French, and he’s protective over Jean Renault to an odd extreme.”
I looked again at the boy, who once again turned his eyes to his lunch when I caught him staring at us. “Does he suspect us?”
“I’m getting the distinct impression he knows, but not yet about us. About Jean Renault.”
I was shocked. But before I could respond, Edward’s face darkened into an infuriated scowl. I sighed and looked over at a group of students craning their necks to look our way.
“Would you even tell me if the girls were thinking the same things about you?”
“You don’t want to know.”
I sighed. It was going to be a long two months for my husband.
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