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reading the twilight Saga book 1 Midnight Sun

Summary:
what if the characters of twilight got the books before New Moon!


Notes:


1. First Sight

Rating 0/5   Word Count 13790   Review this Chapter

First Sight

Bella and Edward were on the couch at the Cullen’s house listening to Emmett complaining about how Edward always cheats when he fights with him.

“Seriously, just let loose for just a few minutes and fight fair,” Emmett growled at him.

“I told you a million times Emmett, it doesn’t work like that I can’t turn it on and off, I can’t “let loose” it’s not possible, I will always hear your thoughts,” Edward said rolling his eyes, pulling Bella closer to his side, as she chuckled at Emmett’s wounded expression.

Hear these thoughts Edward, you’re an ass! Maybe I’ll just ask Bella . . . privately,” Emmett smirked as Edward growled.

“We talked about that already, I will tear you into a million pieces,” Edward hissed menacingly, Bella gave him a questioning look.

He just shook his head, “Emmett has a death wish, that’s all.”

Bella looked over at Emmett; he flashed her a menacing smile showing all his razor sharp teeth. She just looked at him confused but let it go. Rosalie came walking in the room along with Esme and Carlisle, Esme was holding a tray of food for Bella.

“Thanks Esme, you didn’t have to make me anything,” Bella smiled timidly.

“Oh, of course sweetheart, nonsense you know I love cooking anyway,” Esme smiled warmly and move to sit beside Bella and Edward on the couch, pulling Carlisle along with her. Carlisle flashed them a smile.

Rosalie slid into Emmett’s lap on the arm chair, “Alice told me to bring everyone,” She said in an annoyed voice. “She gave me these books and told me to wait for her she’d be in in a second.”

“What was she so excited about?” Edward ask noting the keyed up expression on her face in Rosalie’s memory.

“Don’t know,” she shrugged and through the books on the floor, “She said to wait for her before we start.”

A few minutes later Jasper and Alice came through the back patio door and sat down in the love seat in the corner.

“Alice what this about?” Esme asked sweetly.

“Well I ran into my friend Emily, she is an psychic like me only her’s is a little different, her visions can last weeks and can span years,” Alice explained excitedly.

“What does this have to do with us?” Emmett asked impatiently, “Did she see something about one of us?”

“Yes,” Alice said shooting Edward a pointed glance, “It’s about Bella and Edward, she saw their entire future, both the good and bad, she put them in books for us to read.”

Edward looked at the books and then quickly over at Bella’s face. “How far does it span,” asked his eyes never leaving Bella’s. She had to focus to remember to keep breathing.

Alice looked over at them pausing for a second, “The books span two and a half years,” everyone’s eyes went wide looking over at Bella and Edward, “but, she said that’s just the books, your story far from ends there.”

Edwards smiled and pulled Bella closer to him giving her a soft kiss making her heart race.

“So are we going to read it or what? She said to start with Midnight Sun.” Alice motioned over to the books.

“I want to read first,” Emmett said raising his hand like a small child. Rosalie hit him on the back of the head. “Idiot,” but she flashed him a smile as he reached for the books.

"First Sight.” Emmett read.

This was the time of day when I wished I were able to sleep.

“Don’t we all,” Emmett muttered.

High school.

Or was purgatory the right word?

If there was any way to atone for my sins, this ought to count toward the tally in some measure.

“Oh god,” Edward groaned in realization.

“What is it?” Bella said frowning her eyes in worry.

“The book, it’s in my point of view, these are my thoughts,” Edward put his head down running his fingers through his hair.

“Oh,” Bella said in wonder, looking over towards the book in Emmett’s hand a wide smile spreading across the her face. Edward lifted up his head looking into her eyes, raising his eyebrows in confusion. “I’ll get to hear your first thoughts about me.” She replied in a small voice, blushing slightly.

Edward sighed, “They weren’t always so good Bella.”

“I know Edward, that doesn’t mean I don’t still want to hear them,” she smiled he rolled his eyes but smiled and motioned for Emmett to continue reading.

The tedium was not something I grew used to; every day seemed more impossibly monotonous than the last.

I suppose this was my form of sleep—if sleep was defined as the inert state between active periods.

I stared at the cracks running through the plaster in the far corner of the cafeteria, imagining patterns into them that were not there. It was one way to tune out the voices that babbled like the gush of a river inside my head.

“I know you’re a vampire,” Bella inquired, “but do all their voices ever give you a head ache?”

“Yes, being a vampire does nothing to help with that,” Edward groaned.

Several hundred of these voices I ignored out of boredom.

When it came to the human mind, I'd heard it all before and then some.

“That’s not really the case anymore,” Edward said smiling at Bella; she blushed and pushed his face away playfully. He just chuckled.

“Yeah but you can’t even read her mind,” Emmett laughed. This time Alice got up and smacked him on the head.

Edward rolled his eyes, “That’s not what I meant, Bella tells me what she thinks. And even without that, she’s always doing things I don’t expect.”

Today, all thoughts were consumed with the trivial drama of a new addition to the small student body here. It took so little to work them all up. I'd seen the new face repeated in thought after thought from every angle. Just an ordinary human girl. The excitement over her arrival was tiresomely predictable—like flashing a shiny object at a child.

“Thanks Edward,” Bella grumbled.

“I wasn’t thinking objectively, after a hundred and nine years of people getting excited over new arrivals, I wasn’t really jumping for joy anymore, but,” He said with a beautiful crooked smile. “I am now.”

Half the sheep-like males were already imagining themselves in love with her, just because she was something new to look at.

“Urg, I’m glad that’s over,” Bella muttered.

“That’s what you think,” Edward glared at the book.

I tried harder to tune them out.

Only four voices did I block out of courtesy rather than distaste: my family, my two brothers and two sisters, who were so used to the lack of privacy in my presence that they rarely gave it a thought. I gave them what privacy I could. I tried not to listen if I could help it.

Try as I may, still…I knew.

“You don’t try hard enough!” Emmett rolled his eyes.

“Trust me, when it comes to you and your sometimes vulgar thoughts, I do try VERY hard to lock your thoughts.” Edward snickered at him.

Rosalie was thinking, as usual, about herself. She'd caught sight of her profile in the reflection off someone's glasses, and she was mulling over her own perfection.

Rosalie's mind was a shallow pool with few surprises.

Said vampire stared, throwing daggers at Edward. I and NOT shallow!!

Edward groaned at the ceiling and Bella touched his cheek in a futile effort to comfort him. He was more than done with everyone listening to his thoughts already, and this was only the first couple sentences in the beginning of the chapter.

Emmett

Was fuming over a wrestling match he'd lost to Jasper during the night. It would take all his limited patience to make it to the end of the school day to orchestrate a rematch.

“You still didn’t win,” Jasper smirked over at him.

“Well, the day is young and we do have an infinite amount of time on our hands,” Emmett said rubbing his hands together in anticipation.

“No!” Alice said throwing up her hands; Edward saw the vision she had of Emmett and Jasper fighting for three hours delaying the story, “After the books.”

“But what about me, I eventually have to go home,” Bella sighed leaning back against Edward.

“I already took care of it, Edward and the boys are visiting some friends of Carlisle’s for the week, and me and Esme are all alone,” she shot Bella and adorable pout, Bella just rolled her eyes, “So for now you’re staying with us for a few days, your bag is upstairs.”

Bella’s heartbeat picked up at the thought of spending several days with Edward. Of course, everyone heard It, embarrassing her, she blushed and Emmett started reading again.

I never really felt intrusive hearing Emmett's thoughts, because he never thought one thing that he would not say aloud or put into action. Perhaps I only felt guilty reading the others' minds because I knew there were things there that they wouldn't want me to know. If Rosalie's mind was a shallow pool, then Emmett's was a lake with no shadows, glass clear.

Emmett huffed at that, “I have things I don’t want you to know.”

Edward shot him a look, “name one thing OTHER than when we are fighting, that you wouldn’t just say out loud, ONE.”

Emmett thought for a second, and then just muttered something that sounded a lot like stupid mind reading vampire. Edward chuckled at him smugly.

And Jasper was…suffering.

I suppressed a sigh.

Edward. Alice called my name in her head, and had my attention at once.

“Oh,” Jasper said looking excited, “I finally get to hear what you two say during one of your little secret conversations.”

Alice shot a look over at Edward, “Edward is this when we were talking about Jasper?”

Edward nodded his head and sighed, he wasn’t reading so he couldn’t skip it either. This wasn’t going to go over so well.

It was just the same as having my name called aloud. I was glad my given name had fallen out of style lately—it had been annoying; anytime anyone thought of any Edward, my head would turn automatically…

Bella chuckled at that she could just picture him swinging his head around all the time.

“I’m glad you think that’s funny,” He whispered in her ear. His breath whisked across her face, making her heart race. God this is going to be embarrassing she thought. It was always embarrassing when she was around his family and they could hear her heart react to Edward’s every touch.

My head didn't turn now. Alice and I were good at these private conversations.

It was rare that anyone caught us.

“Actually you’re not that good,” Jasper smirked at him, “I’ve caught you a few times, but there was nothing I could do about it I can’t hear anything.”

“Trust me its nothing, really, “Alice said innocently. Then she got a vision of Edward saying that they would find out soon enough anyway, there was no point in lying. Alice sighed; I know, I just want to give him some peace for now.

I kept my eyes on the lines in the plaster.

How is he holding up? She asked me.

“So I was right,” Jasper said looking down, “Your secret conversations are about me.”

“Not all of them,” Alice said stoking his upper arm in comfort, “I was just worried that morning you look anxious, I care about you, you know.”

“I know.” Jasper pulled her onto his lap and kissed her softly on the cheek.

I frowned, just a small change in the set of my mouth. Nothing that would tip the others off. I could easily be frowning out of boredom.

Alice's mental tone was alarmed now, and I saw in her mind that she was watching Jasper in her peripheral vision. Is there any danger? She searched ahead, into the immediate future, skimming through visions of monotony for the source behind my frown.

I turned my head slowly to the left, as if looking at the bricks of the wall, sighed, and then to the right, back to the cracks in the ceiling. Only Alice knew I was shaking my head.

She relaxed. Let me know if it gets too bad.

I moved only my eyes, up to the ceiling above, and back down.

“Wow you guys are kinda good at that,” Emmett said with a smirk.

Thanks for doing this.

I was glad I couldn't answer her aloud. What would I say? 'My pleasure'?

It was hardly that. I didn't enjoy listening to Jasper's struggles. Was it really necessary to experiment like this? Wouldn't the safer path be to just admit that he might never be able to handle the thirst the way the rest of us could, and not push his limits?

Jasper looked more forlorn the longer Emmett read.

“I have a better understanding now trust me, you have nothing to be ashamed of,” Edward said looking him in the eye. Jasper could feel his compassion flowing to him a gave him a small smile.

“Edwards right Jasper, things aren’t so black and white, everyone’s temptation can get the better of them when they are new to this life, no one is looking down at you,” Carlisle replied his voice filled with understanding.

“You mean with me,” Bella sighed looking at Edward sadly. She always hated that her blood caused him pain.

“Yes and no,” Edward hedged, “Yes because I wanted to be strong enough, I didn’t want your blood to make me weak and that’s how I can sympathize with Jasper, but what really drove me was my need to be around you, be close to you.”

Why flirt with disaster?

It had been two weeks since our last hunting trip. That was not an immensely difficult time span for the rest of us. A little uncomfortable occasionally—if a human walked too close,

if the wind blew the wrong way. But humans rarely walked too close.

Their instincts told them what their conscious minds would never understand: we were dangerous.

Jasper was very dangerous right now.

At that moment, a small girl paused at the end of the closest table to ours, stopping to talk to a friend. She tossed her short, sandy hair, running her fingers through it. The heaters blew her scent in our direction. I was used to the way that scent made me feel—the dry ache in my throat, the hollow yearn in my stomach, the automatic tightening of my muscles, the excess flow of venom in my mouth…

This was all quite normal, usually easy to ignore. It was harder just now, with the feelings stronger, doubled, as I monitored Jasper's reaction. Twin thirsts, rather than just mine.

“I’m sorry,” The more Emmett read the worse Jasper felt despite their earlier words of comfort.

“Stop, I was just being an idiot, trust me, when I first started out this way of life I was doing the same thing,” Edward rolled his eyes, “It took Bella coming, to knock me off my high horse.”

“Yes, but now she right there in your arms, someone who blood is more powerful to you than anyone else, and yet you’re perfectly fine,” Jasper grunted waving his hands in Bella direction earning a blush from Bella.

“But when I first started out in this life like you that wouldn’t have been the case.’

“I don’t think that’s true,” Carlisle interrupted, “not that Edward isn’t right, it will be harder now but get easier later. But his situation was unique, his singer was also his mate, a vampire can’t harm his mate, it’s simply not possible. Had it been someone else, this would not have been the case.”

Edward shuddered at the thought of harming someone.

Jasper was letting his imagination get away from him. He was picturing it— picturing himself getting up from his seat next to Alice and going to stand beside the little girl. Thinking of leaning down and in, as if he were going to whisper in her ear, and letting his lips touch the arch of her throat. Imagining how the hot flow of her pulse beneath the fine skin would feel under his mouth…

I kicked his chair.

He met my gaze for a minute, and then looked down. I could hear shame and rebellion war in his head.

"Sorry," Jasper muttered.

I shrugged.

"You weren't going to do anything," Alice murmured to him, soothing his chagrin. "I could see that."

I fought back the grimace that would give her lie away.

Jasper growled and Alice flinched, “I wish you wouldn’t do that, I’m not a baby, I can handle my downfalls, they can help me get stronger. You need to let me.”

“I agree,” Carlisle said quietly.

“I’m sorry,” Alice relented.

We had to stick together, Alice and I. It wasn't easy, hearing voices or seeing visions of the future. Both freaks among those who were already freaks.

We protected each other's secrets.

"It helps a little if you think of them as people," Alice suggested,

her high, musical voice too fast for human ears to understand, if any had been close enough to hear. "Her name is Whitney. She has a baby sister she adores. Her mother invited Esme to that garden party, do you remember?"

"I know who she is," Jasper said curtly. He turned away to stare out one of the small windows that were spaced just under the eaves around the long room. His tone ended the conversation.

He would have to hunt tonight. It was ridiculous to take risks like this, trying to test his strength, to build his endurance. Jasper should just accept his limitations and work within them.

“I’m trying believe me,” Jasper muttered to himself. Edward could still hear in his thoughts and grimaced, he wished his train of thought would end quickly.

His former habits were not conducive to our chosen lifestyle; he shouldn't push himself in this way.

Alice sighed silently and stood, taking her tray of food—her prop, as it were— with her and leaving him alone. She knew when he'd had enough of her encouragement.

Though Rosalie and Emmett were more flagrant about their relationship,

Emmett smirked at that, “We just have a lot more fun.”

Edward pinched the bridge of his nose; Bella could tell Emmett was going way further in his thoughts to Edward. Edward himself felt a little nauseous which is not easy for a vampire.

It was Alice and Jasper who knew each other's every mood as well as their own. As if they could read minds, too—only just each other's.

Alice and Jasper smiled at each other, weaving their hands together. Edward could understand this better now; when Bella was upset, she didn’t even have to shift her body language, he felt it himself as if they were his own feelings. He pulled Bella closer and gave her a soft kiss on the lips, she smiled up at him.

Edward Cullen.

Reflex reaction. I turned to the sound of my name being called, though it wasn't being called, just thought.

My eyes locked for a small portion of a second with a pair of wide, chocolate brown human eyes set in a pale, heart-shaped face. I knew the face, though I'd never seen it myself before this moment. It had been foremost in every human head today. The new student, Isabella Swan.

Bella and Edward looked at each other, smiling, this had been the first time they had set eyes on each other the moment that started it all.

Daughter of the town's chief of police, brought to live here by some new custody situation.

Bella. She'd corrected everyone who'd used her full name…

I looked away, bored. It took me a second to realize that she had not been the one to think my name.

“Ha, I knew it was bull when you were always saying I was beautiful, you didn’t really think that, you’re just biased now,” Bella grumbled pulling away from him slightly. Before she could even get and inch away Edward had pulled her right back.

Edward groaned shooting her an exasperated look, “Bella, I already told you, I wasn’t thinking clearly then, I wasn’t really paying any attention, when I did, you took my breath away.”

Of course she's already crushing on the Cullen’s, I heard the first thought continue.

Now I recognized the 'voice.'

Jessica Stanley—it had been a while since she'd bothered me with her internal chatter. What a relief it had been when she'd gotten over her misplaced infatuation. It used to be nearly impossible to escape her constant, ridiculous daydreams.

Bella didn’t want to hear that at all, her eyes narrowed at the book. When Edward noticed her rolled his eyes and chuckled, to him, there was nothing for Bella to worry about.

I'd wished, at the time, that I could explain to her exactly what would have happened if my lips, and the teeth behind them, had gotten anywhere near her. That would have silenced those annoying fantasies. The thought of her reaction almost made me smile.

There was no almost in the smirk on Bella’s face as she pictured Jessica’s horror at this revelation. Edward kissed her neck and cuddled her into his side, he loved it when Bella was jealous; he found it adorable.

Fat lot of good it will do her, Jessica went on. She's really not even pretty. I don't know why Eric is staring so much…or Mike.

“I can’t believe she really thought those things about me,” Bella said incredulously.

“I told you she wasn’t a very good friend, my protective instinct always scream out at me when you’re around her,” Edward shuddered.

She winced mentally on the last name. Her new infatuation, the generically popular Mike Newton, was completely oblivious to her. Apparently, he was not as oblivious to the new girl. Like the child with the shiny object again.

Bella groaned again as she thought of all the unwanted attention and date invites Mike had given her when she first moved here.

“It took everything in me to keep from killing him,” Edward whispered quietly so only Bella would hear. Bella chuckled and nuzzled his cheek.

This put a mean edge to Jessica's thoughts, though she was outwardly cordial to the newcomer as she explained to her the commonly held knowledge about my family. The new student must have asked about us.

Everyone's looking at me today, too, Jessica thought smugly in an aside. Isn't it lucky Bella had two classes with me…I'll bet Mike will want to ask me what she's— I tried to block the inane chatter out of my head before the petty and the trivial could drive me mad.

"Jessica Stanley is giving the new Swan girl all the dirty laundry on the Cullen clan," I murmured to Emmett as a distraction.

He chuckled under his breath. I hope she's making it good, he thought.

"Rather unimaginative, actually. Just the barest hint of scandal. Not an ounce of horror. I'm a little disappointed."

“Did you want horror?” Bella smirked questioningly at him.

“Not particularly, but it would have at least made it more interesting,” Edward shrugged.

And the new girl? Is she disappointed in the gossip as well?

I listened to hear what this new girl, Bella, thought of Jessica's story. What did she see when she looked at the strange, chalky-skinned family that was universally avoided?

It was sort of my responsibility to know her reaction. I acted as a lookout, for lack of a better word, for my family. To protect us. If anyone ever grew suspicious, I could give us early warning and an easy retreat. It happened occasionally—some human with an active imagination would see in us the characters of a book or a movie. Usually they got it wrong, but it was better to move on somewhere new than to risk scrutiny.

“Too bad even if you had Eddie wouldn’t have been able to hear you,” Emmett laughed.

Edward ignored Emmett calling him Eddie, he hated it, but he had lost a bet to Emmett last week so there was nothing he could do about it.

“It didn’t matter anyway,” Bella shrugged, “When I first saw you all I could think was that you were a little strange, you barely ate, all your features were perfect, and you had bruises under your eyes. Ultimately though I was stunned by your looks you were all beautiful.”

“Bella,” Carlisle said with a smile, “all half those things you named, most humans aren’t supposed to notice.”

“Oh,” Bella blushed and looked away, Edward just chuckled beside her.

Very, very rarely, someone would guess right. We didn't give them a chance to test their hypothesis. We simply disappeared, to become no more than a frightening memory…

I heard nothing, though I listened close beside where Jessica's frivolous internal monologue continued to gush.

Edward sighed, he knew he was never going to hear anything either. Bella smiled and kissed his jaw.

“You’ll be fine not knowing Edward,” Bella rolled her eyes as she watched his forlorn expression deepen.

“Know I’ll eventually go insane.” Edward grumbled looking outside wondering if the silence of her mind would ever let up.

It was as if there was no one sitting beside her. How peculiar, had the girl moved? That didn't seem likely, as Jessica was still babbling to her.

I looked up to check, feeling off-balance. Checking on what my extra 'hearing' could tell me—it wasn't something I ever had to do.

Again, my gaze locked on those same wide brown eyes. She was sitting right where she had been before, and looking at us, a natural thing to be doing, I supposed, as Jessica was still regaling her with the local gossip about the Cullen’s.

Thinking about us, too, would be natural.

But I couldn't hear a whisper.

Inviting warm red stained her cheeks as she looked down, away from the embarrassing gaffe of getting caught staring at a stranger. It was good that Jasper was still gazing out the window. I didn't like to imagine what that easy pooling of blood would do to his control.

Jasper looked down again at that, knowing it would not have been good if he had noticed, though he had to admit, he was hoping his weakness wouldn’t be mentioned anymore in this chapter. So was Edward for that matter.

The emotions had been as clear on her face as if they were spelled out in words across her forehead: surprise, as she unknowingly absorbed the signs of the subtle differences between her kind and mine, curiosity, as she listened to Jessica's tale and something more…fascination? It wouldn't be the first time. We were beautiful to them, our intended prey. Then, finally, embarrassment as I caught her staring at me.

Bella blushed then sighed, her face really was an open book. She hated that people could see her thoughts so easy all the time.

And yet, though her thoughts had been so clear in her odd eyes—odd, because of the depth to them; brown eyes often seemed flat in their darkness—

“They were beautiful, I couldn’t stop thinking about them, even long after that,” Edward smiled at her.

“Edward stop,” Bella whispered back as one blush bled into another on her face, she kissed him, “It’ll take us forever to get through the book if I’m kissing you the whole time.”

“I’m very patient, and we have plenty of time,” Edward pulled her chin up for another kiss. Esme smiled at them, so happy for Edward.

“Well I’m not so can we please continue?” Emmett grumbled.

I could hear nothing but silence from the place she was sitting. Nothing at all.

I felt a moment of unease.

This was nothing I'd ever encountered before. Was there something wrong with me? I felt exactly the same as I always did. Worried, I listened harder.

“I’m sorry I worried you,” Bella pouted.

“Nonsense, I am perfectly happy,” Edward rolled his eyes at her.

All the voices I'd been blocking were suddenly shouting in my head.

wonder what music she likes…maybe I could mention that new CDMike Newton was thinking, two tables away—fixated on Bella Swan.

Look at him staring at her. Isn't it enough that he has half the girls in school waiting for him to… Eric Yorkie was thinking sulfurous thoughts, also revolving around the girl.

so disgusting. You'd think she was famous or something… Even Edward Cullen, staringLauren Mallory was so jealous that her face, by all rights, should be dark jade in color. And Jessica, flaunting her new best friend. What a joke…Vitriol continued to spew from the girl's thoughts.

I bet everyone has asked her that. But I'd like to talk to her. I'll think of a more original questionAshley Dowling mused. …maybe she'll be in my SpanishJune Richardson hoped.

“You have got to be kidding me,” Bella groaned putting her head in her hands. Everyone laughed at Bella.

...tons left to do tonight! Trig, and the English test. I hope my mom… Angela Weber,

a quiet girl, whose thoughts were unusually kind, was the only one at the table who wasn't obsessed with this Bella.

“Angela!” Bella smiled happily, “Thank God for Angela.”

I could hear them all; hear every insignificant thing they were thinking as it passed through their minds. But nothing at all from the new student with the deceptively communicative eyes.

And, of course, I could hear what the girl said when she spoke to Jessica. I didn't have to read minds to be able to hear her low, clear voice on the far side of the long room.

"Which one is the boy with the reddish brown hair?" I heard her ask, sneaking a look at me from the corner of her eye, only to look quickly away when she saw that I was still staring.

Bella blushed at him and sighed, “I didn’t know who was more beautiful, you or Rosalie.”

Edward smiled warmly at her snuggling her closer to his side. Rosalie for the most part just looked flustered, though she still tried to hold on to her irritation.

If I'd had time to hope that hearing the sound of her voice would help me pinpoint the tone of her thoughts, lost somewhere where I couldn't access them, I was instantly disappointed. Usually, people's thoughts came to them in a similar pitch as their physical voices. But this quiet, shy voice was unfamiliar, not one of the hundreds of thoughts bouncing around the room, I was sure of that. Entirely new.

Oh, good luck, idiot! Jessica thought before answering the girl's question.

“She’s not saying that anymore,” Jasper snickered.

“No that, but now her thoughts are filled with jealousy and conceit,” Edward moaned.

"That's Edward. He's gorgeous, of course, but don't waste your time. He doesn't date. Apparently none of the girls here are good-looking enough for him." She sniffed.

I turned my head away to hide my smile. Jessica and her classmates had no idea how lucky they were that none of them particularly appealed to me.

Bella rolled her eyes at that, “You’re not really all that scary you know.”

Edward snorted, that wasn’t true at all in his mind.

“You know at that moment I was thinking, I wonder when he turned her down,” Bella smiled at him.

Edward chuckled, “It depends on which time you meant.”

Beneath the transient humor, I felt a strange impulse, one I did not clearly understand. It had something to do with the vicious edge to Jessica's thoughts that the new girl was unaware of… I felt the strangest urge to step in between them, to shield this Bella Swan from the darker workings of Jessica's mind. What an odd thing to feel.

“Of course you would feel that way,” Esme beamed, “She’s your mate and someone’s thinking vicious thoughts about her, of course you care.”

“Exactly what I was thinking,” Carlisle smiled with Esme.

Edward just rolled his eyes, “I get that, now, but before it was a completely new feeling for me.”

Trying to ferret out the motivations behind the impulse, I examined the new girl one more time.

Perhaps it was just some long buried protective instinct—the strong for the weak.

This girl looked more fragile than her new classmates.

Bella huffed and crossed her arms; she was not that fragile, despite how she may look.

Emmett laughed at her, “Who bets Edward gets in trouble before the end of this book.”

“There is no way I’m taking that bet,” Jasper laughed with him looking at the irritated Bella.

Her skin was so translucent it was hard to believe it offered her much defense from the outside world. I could see the rhythmic pulse of blood through her veins under the clear, pale membrane… But I should not concentrate on that. I was good at this life I'd chosen, but I was just as thirsty as Jasper and there was no point in inviting temptation.

There was a faint crease between her eyebrows that she seemed unaware of.

It was unbelievable frustrating! I could clearly see that it was a strain for her to sit there, to make conversation with strangers, to be the center of attention. I could sense her shyness from the way she held her frail-looking shoulders, slightly hunched, as if she was expecting a rebuff at any moment.

“I was sort of, more like I felt a little attacked by all the over excited people, I was constantly being watched it was uncomfortable,” Bella shuddered at the thought. Edwards arm wrapped tighter around her, protectively.

And yet I could only sense, could only see, could only imagine. There was nothing but silence from the very unexceptional human girl. I could hear nothing. Why?

"Shall we?" Rosalie murmured, interrupting my focus.

I looked away from the girl with a sense of relief. I didn't want to continue to fail at this—it irritated me. And I didn't want to develop any interest in her hidden thoughts simply because they were hidden from me.

“Yeah that didn’t work out so well,” Jasper snickered.

“I’m happy it didn’t,” Edward said looking at Bella.

No doubt, when I did decipher her thoughts—and I would find a way to do so—they would be just as petty and trivial as any human's thoughts.

Not worth the effort I would expend to reach them.

“Well, I was completely and utterly wrong about that on both counts you always catch me off guard so I know you don’t think like average shallow humans, and I will probably never be able to get into that beautiful mind of yours,” Edward pouted at the last thought.

"So, is the new one afraid of us yet?" Emmett asked, still waiting for my response to his question before.

I shrugged. He wasn't interested enough to press for a more information. Nor should I be interested.

“But of course you were,” Alice said rolling her eyes, “Anything having to do with Bella interest you.”

Edward just shrugged while Bella chuckled, she didn’t get, she didn’t feel she did anything all that interesting.

We got up from the table and walked out of the cafeteria.

Emmett, Rosalie, and Jasper were pretending to be seniors; they left for their classes. I was playing a younger role than they. I headed off for my junior level biology class, preparing my mind for the tedium. It was doubtful Mr. Banner, a man of no more than average intellect, would manage to pull out anything in his lecture that would surprise someone holding two graduate degrees in medicine. In the classroom, I settled into my chair and let my books—props, again; they held nothing I didn't already know—spill across the table.

“I don’t get that,” Bella asked seriously, “history changes, so does science and medicine and technology.”

“Well, being vampires, we have to keep up with these things to maintain our survival. I know the advances in medicine because I’m a doctor and have had to go to many seminars and such, because the kids are in school and watch T.V. we know the advances in technology, and we are there to witness the new history,” Carlisle answered politely.

I was the only student who had a table to himself. The humans weren't smart enough to know that they feared me, but their survival instincts were enough to keep them away.

“Well most of the time anyway.” Edward muttered, Bella just raised her eyebrows at him.

“Is this a problem for you?”

“Sometimes,” Edward frowned.

“I can go sit with Esme if you need a minute?” Bella asked, Edwards eyes shot back up to her face and pulled her tighter to him, clearly saying not a chance.

The room slowly filled as they trickled in from lunch. I leaned back in my chair and waited for the time to pass. Again, I wished I was able to sleep.

Because I'd been thinking about her, when Angela Weber escorted the new girl through the door, her name intruded on my attention.

Bella seems just as shy as me. I'll bet today is really hard for her. I wish I could say something…but it would probably just sound stupid…

Bella rolled her eyes, “Angela is one of the smartest people I know, I’m sure whatever she wanted to say would have been fine.”

“I agree, Angela has a kind and insightful mind, as you’ll see, she needn’t have worried,” Edward nodded.

Yes ! Mike Newton thought, turning in his seat to watch the girls enter.

Edward growled at that, “Now, anything he would have said, would probably have been completely idiotic.”

“Edward, be nice,” Bella said rolling her eyes.

Still, from the place where Bella Swan stood, nothing. The empty space where her thoughts should be irritated and unnerved me.

She came closer, walking down the aisle beside me to get to the teacher's desk.

Poor girl; the seat next to me was the only one available.

“Actually, I kind of liked it,” Bella smiled at him.

“I bet you did,” Emmett muttered, shooting a look at Bella that made her blush.

Edward groaned pinching his nose, “Please stop thinking Emmett!”

Emmett just laughed, “Or you could enjoy the visuals.”

Automatically, I cleared what would be her side of the desk, shoving my books into a pile. I doubted she would feel very comfortable there. She was in for a long semester—in this class, at least. Perhaps, though, sitting beside her, I'd be able to flush out her secrets…not that I'd ever needed close proximity before…not that I would find anything worth listening to…

“Again I was so wrong about that,” Edward sighed longingly.

“Let it go Edward,” Jasper groaned in response to his heightened emotions.

“I can’t.”

Bella Swan walked into the flow of the heated air that blew toward me from the vent.

Her scent hit me like wrecking ball, like a battering ram. There was no image violent enough to encapsulate the force of what happened to me in that moment.

In that instant, I was nothing close to the human I'd once been; no trace of the shreds of humanity I'd managed to cloak myself in remained.

I was a predator. She was my prey. There was nothing else in the whole world but that truth.

Bella listened intently; Edward had always downplayed his response to her blood so she wouldn’t feel bad. Now she could finally hear it completely unedited.

There was no room full of witnesses—they were already collateral damage in my head. The mystery of her thoughts was forgotten. Her thoughts meant nothing, for she would not go on thinking them much longer. I was a vampire, and she had the sweetest blood I'd smelled in eighty years.

I hadn't imagined such a scent could exist. If I'd known it did, I would have gone searching for it long ago. I would have combed the planet for her. I could imagine the taste…

Thirst burned through my throat like fire. My mouth was baked and desiccated.

The fresh flow of venom did nothing to dispel that sensation. My stomach twisted with the hunger that was an echo of the thirst. My muscles coiled to spring.

Bella put her face in her hands, she didn’t like this at all, she wondered if this was what Edward was feeling right now. She shifted away slightly to give him room to think.

“Bella,” Edward groaned looking at her wondering why she pulled away.

“Is this what you feel every time I’m close to you? I don’t want you to be in pain,” Bella scooted further away. Edward groaned this was not how it felt at all anymore. He pulled her closer.

“Bella, this was the first time I ever smelled your scent so of course it was very strong during this time.” He whispered in her ear making sure no one else could hear, “ And yes, when I smell your scent it burns my throat a little and causes my venom to come, but being near you is an incredible feeling. You’re so soft and warm, and when I touch you,” Bella blushed at that making Edward smirk “It’s the most incredible feeling in the world; I wouldn’t trade it for anything. So would you please just remember that, and stop pulling away, it makes me uncomfortable when you get too far away.”

“More like when your even a millimeter away,” Jasper snickered, okay so Ed

Edward thought he said it too low for them to hear. They looked around and noticed everyone snickering at them. Edward pinched his nose this was going to be a long couple of days, even for an immortal.

Not a full second had passed. She was still taking the same step that had put her downwind from me.

As her foot touched the ground, her eyes slid toward me, a movement she clearly meant to be stealthy. Her glance met mine, and I saw myself reflected in the wide mirror of her eyes.

The shock of the face I saw there saved her life for a few thorny moments.

She didn't make it easier. When she processed the expression on my face, blood flooded her cheeks again, turning her skin the most delicious color I'd ever seen. The scent was a thick haze in my brain. I could barely think through it. My thoughts raged, resisting control, incoherent.

She walked more quickly now, as if she understood the need to escape. Her haste made her clumsy—

“I don’t think it had anything to do with haste, she’s always clumsy,” Emmett laughed along with Jasper and Alice; even Rosalie cracked a small smile. Esme and Carlisle were trying their hardest not to laugh, though Carlisle was listening intently to Edwards reaction to her scent.

Bella pouted, Edward stifled his laughter and pulled her closer to his side nuzzling into her side comforting her. She sighed and relaxed into his embrace.

She tripped and stumbled forward, almost falling into the girl seated in front of me. Vulnerable, weak. Even more than usual for a human.

Bella glared at Edward who just kept facing forward avoiding her eyes, trying his hardest not to laugh again and get into more trouble.

I tried to focus on the face I'd seen in her eyes, a face I recognized with revulsion.

The face of the monster in me—the face I'd beaten back with decades of effort and uncompromising discipline. How easily it sprang to the surface now!

The scent swirled around me again, scattering my thoughts and nearly propelling me out of my seat.

No.

My hand gripped under the edge of the table as I tried to hold myself in my chair.

The wood was not up to the task. My hand crushed through the strut and came away with a palmful of splintered pulp, leaving the shape of my fingers carved into the remaining wood.

“Edward,” Bella groaned ashamed she was causing him so much pain.

“Shh, Bella remember,” He stared deep into her eyes scattering her concentration until she had to look away to remember how to breath. Edward smirked to himself.

Destroy evidence. That was a fundamental rule. I quickly pulverized the edges of the shape with my fingertips, leaving nothing but a ragged hole and a pile of shavings on the floor, which I scattered with my foot.

Destroy evidence. Collateral damage….

I knew what had to happen now. The girl would have to come sit beside me, and I would have to kill her.

The innocent bystanders in this classroom, eighteen other children and one man, could not be allowed to leave this room, having seen what they would soon see.

“That was a version that scared the mess out of me, “Alice muttered so quietly Bella couldn’t hear her.

Edward shivered at the image old image in her head. Bella looked at him questioningly; he just shook his head so she wouldn’t worry.

I flinched at the thought of what I must do. Even at my very worst, I had never committed this kind of atrocity. I had never killed innocents, not in over eight decades.

And now I planned to slaughter twenty of them at once.

The face of the monster in the mirror mocked me.

Even as part of me shuddered away from the monster, another part was planning it.

If I killed the girl first, I would have only fifteen or twenty seconds with her before the humans in the room would react. Maybe a little bit longer, if at first they did not realize what I was doing. She would not have time to scream or feel pain; I would not kill her cruelly. That much I could give this stranger with her horribly desirable blood.

Edward pulled away from Bella this time and put his hands in his head; he couldn’t believe there was a time that had really thought about taking Bella’s life. Just the thought of this moment made him sick too his stomach. Bella rubbed his arm and laid her head on his shoulder in comfort.

But then I would have to stop them from escaping. I wouldn't have to worry about the windows, too high up and small to provide an escape for anyone. Just the door—block that and they were trapped.

It would be slower and more difficult, trying to take them all down when they were panicked and scrambling, moving in chaos. Not impossible, but there would be much more noise. Time for lots of screaming. Someone would hear…and I'd be forced to kill even more innocents in this black hour.

And her blood would cool, while I murdered the others.

The scent punished me, closing my throat with dry aching…

So the witnesses first then.

I mapped it out in my head. I was in the middle of the room, the furthest row in the back. I would take my right side first. I could snap four or five of their necks per second, I estimated. It would not be noisy. The right side would be the lucky side; they would not see me coming. Moving around the front and back up the left side, it would take me, at most, five seconds to end every life in this room.

Long enough for Bella Swan to see, briefly, what was coming for her. Long enough for her to feel fear. Long enough, maybe, if shock didn't freeze her in place, for her to work up a scream. One soft scream that would not bring anyone running.

I took a deep breath, and the scent was a fire that raced through my dry veins, burning out from my chest to consume every better impulse that I was capable of.

Edward pulled Bella back to him on top of him her legs in a triangle over his right leg and her upper body nestled to him. She wrapped her arms around his neck. He knew this was hard for them both to hear; the only left to comfort them was that nothing bad happened, and they were in each other’s arms safe now.

She was just turning now. In a few seconds, she would sit down inches away from me.

The monster in my head smiled in anticipation.

Someone slammed shut a folder on my left. I didn't look up to see which of the doomed humans it was. But the motion sent a wave of ordinary, unscented air wafting across my face.

For one short second, I was able to think clearly.

In that precious second, I saw two faces in my head, side by side.

One was mine, or rather had been: the red-eyed monster that had killed so many people that I'd stop counting their numbers. Rationalized, justified murders. A killer of killers, a killer of other, less powerful monsters. It was a god complex, I acknowledged that—deciding who deserved a death sentence. It was a compromise with myself. I had fed on human blood, but only by the loosest definition. My victims were, in their various dark pastimes, barely more human than I was.

The other face was Carlisle's.

Carlisle looked up at that, surprised, and then beamed at Edward. If Edward could have blushed he would have.

There was no resemblance between the two faces. They were bright day and blackest night.

“That is never true Edward,” Carlisle said sternly.

“Actually at that moment it was,” Edward said seriously, “I was in the mindset of a hunter, my expression were that of his.”

Carlisle nodded in understanding.

There was no reason for there to be a resemblance. Carlisle was not my father in the basic biological sense. We shared no common features. The similarity in our coloring was a product of what we were; every vampire had the same ice pale skin. The similarity in the color of our eyes was another matter—a reflection of a mutual choice.

And yet, though there was no basis for a resemblance, I'd imagined that my face had begun to reflect his, to an extent, in the last seventy-odd years that I had embraced his choice and followed in his steps. My features had not changed, but it seemed to me like some of his wisdom had marked my expression, that a little of his compassion could be traced in the shape of my mouth, and hints of his patience were evident on my brow.

“That very true,” Carlisle nodded in agreement.

Edward just shook his head with a small smile.

All those tiny improvements were lost in the face of the monster. In a few moments, there would be nothing left in me that would reflect the years I'd spent with my creator, my mentor, my father in all the ways that counted. My eyes would glow red as a devil's; all likeness would be lost forever.

“It really works that fast?” Bella questioned.

“Yes, because human blood is what we are naturally conditioned for, because of our diet of animal blood, our bodies react different because we haven’t had it in a while, and where as it took almost a year to get the yellow eyes from hunting animals, it only takes minutes to go back to our natural state, because that how we were meant to look,” Carlisle answered honestly.

In my head, Carlisle's kind eyes did not judge me. I knew that he would forgive me for this horrible act that I would do. Because he loved me. Because he thought I was better than I was. And he would still love me, even as I now proved him wrong.

“You will never prove me wrong, you were stronger then just like I always knew you would be and you’re even stronger now.” Carlisle said looking Edward straight in the eye.

Bella Swan sat down in the chair next to me, her movements stiff and awkward— with fear?—and the scent of her blood bloomed in an inexorable cloud around me.

I would prove my father wrong about me. The misery of this fact hurt almost as much as the fire in my throat.

I leaned away from her in revulsion—revolted by the monster aching to take her.

Why did she have to come here? Why did she have to exist? Why did she have to ruin the little peace I had in this non-life of mine? Why had this aggravating human ever been born? She would ruin me.

I turned my face away from her, as a sudden fierce, unreasoning hatred washed through me.

Bella sighed, she knew this wasn’t how Edward really felt, but it was till hard to hear. Edward just kissed her forehead and held her closer.

Who was this creature? Why me, why now? Why did I have to lose everything just because she happened to choose this unlikely town to appear in?

Why had she come here!

I didn't want to be the monster! I didn't want to kill this room full of harmless children! I didn't want to lose everything I'd gained in a lifetime of sacrifice and denial!

I wouldn't. She couldn't make me.

The scent was the problem, the hideously appealing scent of her blood. If there was only some way to resist…if only another gust of fresh air could clear my head.

Bella Swan shook out her long, thick, mahogany hair in my direction.

Was she insane? It was as if she were encouraging the monster! Taunting him.

There was no friendly breeze to blow the smell away from me now. All would soon be lost.

No, there was no helpful breeze. But I didn't have to breathe.

“Yes, that’s the key,” Carlisle said nodding his head in approval.

“It still wasn’t that simple,” Edward muttered.

I stopped the flow of air through my lungs; the relief was instantaneous, but incomplete. I still had the memory of the scent in my head, the taste of it on the back of my tongue. I wouldn't be able to resist even that for long. But perhaps I could resist for an hour. One hour. Just enough time to get out of this room full of victims, victims that maybe didn't have to be victims. If I could resist for one short hour.

It was an uncomfortable feeling, not breathing. My body did not need oxygen, but it went against my instincts. I relied on scent more than my other senses in times of stress. It led the way in the hunt, it was the first warning in case of danger. I did not often came across something as dangerous as I was, but self-preservation was just as strong in my kind as it was in the average human.

Uncomfortable, but manageable. More bearable than smelling her and not sinking my teeth through that fine, thin, see-through skin to the hot, wet, pulsing—

An hour! Just one hour. I must not think of the scent, the taste.

“Wow, it really is kind of like a drug, you want to do it so badly, you have to force yourself to stop, to concentrate on something else,” Bella mused aloud.

“You still are,” Edward said, Bella frowned at that forcing Edward to add, “but for different reasons now.”

At this Bella blushed ducking her head as everyone laughed at their cuteness.

The silent girl kept her hair between us, leaning forward so that it spilled across her folder. I couldn't see her face, to try to read the emotions in her clear, deep eyes.

Was this why she'd let her tresses fan out between us? To hide those eyes from me? Out of fear? Shyness? To keep her secrets from me?

Bella rolled her eyes at the last one, “Yes, I have super special secrets; I just had to keep from you Edward.”

“I wasn’t thinking clearly as you might have noticed,” Edward huffed.

My former irritation at being stymied by her soundless thoughts was weak and pale in comparison to the need—and the hate—that possessed me now. For I hated this frail woman-child beside me, hated her with all the fervor with which I clung to my former self, my love of my family, my dreams of being something better than what I was… Hating her, hating how she made me feel—it helped a little. Yes, the irritation I'd felt before was weak, but it, too, helped a little. I clung to any emotion that distracted me from imagining what she would taste like…

Hate and irritation. Impatience. Would the hour never pass?

And when the hour ended… Then she would walk out of this room. And I would do what?

I could introduce myself. Hello, my name is Edward Cullen. May I walk you to your next class?

She would say yes. It would be the polite thing to do. Even already fearing me, as I suspected she did, she would follow convention and walk beside me. It should be easy enough to lead her in the wrong direction. A spur of the forest reached out like a finger to touch the back corner of the parking lot. I could tell her I'd forgotten a book in my car…

Would anyone notice that I was the last person she'd been seen with? It was raining, as usual; two dark raincoats heading the wrong direction wouldn't pique too much interest, or give me away.

“True, but it you two,” Jasper answered seriously, “She was already the most noticed person there because she’s new, then you, being a reclusive Cullen would single her out from her peers to talk to and walk to class, I’m sure everyone would notice, and remember.”

“I’m about to say that,” Edward said in an irritated tone.

Except that I was not the only student who was aware of her today—though no one was as blisteringly aware as I was. Mike Newton, in particular, was conscious of every shift in her weight as she fidgeted in her chair—she was uncomfortable so close to me, just as anyone would be,

“It’s actually not about that,” Bella shrugged, “You were giving me death glares, I was fine sitting there until I noticed your expression.”

Edward flinched at that, Bella sighed, “I didn’t mean it like that. I was just confused, not scared; I didn’t know what I did to irritate you so much.”

Just as I'd expected before her scent had destroyed all charitable concern. Mike Newton would notice if she left the classroom with me.

If I could last an hour, could I last two?

I flinched at the pain of the burning.

She would go home to an empty house. Police Chief Swan worked a full day. I knew his house, as I knew every house in the tiny town. His home was nestled right up against thick woods, with no close neighbors. Even if she had time to scream, which she would not, there would be no one to hear.

That would be the responsible way to deal with this. I'd gone seven decades without human blood. If I held my breath, I could last two hours. And when I had her alone, there would be no chance of anyone else getting hurt. And no reason to rush through the experience, the monster in my head agreed.

It was sophistry to think that by saving the nineteen humans in this room

with effort and patience, I would be less a monster when I killed this innocent girl.

Though I hated her, I knew my hatred was unjust. I knew that what I really hated was myself. And I would hate us both so much more when she was dead.

Bella kissed Edward on the cheek, soothing him as he began to shake with pain. Jasper was wincing in the seat across from them. She shot him an apologetic look that he waved away politely. He did not think less of Edward for this, he did not need their apologies, he knew Edward was facing his darkest day, and he did not feel grudging for his pain he respected it.

I made it through the hour in this way—imagining the best ways to kill her. I tried to avoid imagining the actual act. That might be too much for me; I might lose this battle and end up killing everyone in sight. So I planned strategy, and nothing more. It carried me through the hour.

Once, toward the very end, she peeked up at me I could feel the unjustified hatred burning out of me as I met her gaze—see the reflection of it in her frightened eyes. Blood painted her cheek before she could hide in her hair again, and I was nearly undone.

But the bell rang. Saved by the bell—how cliché. We were both saved. She saved from death. I saved for just a short time from being the nightmarish creature I feared and loathed.

I couldn't walk as slowly as I should as I darted from the room. If anyone had been looking at me, they might have suspected that there was something not right about the way I moved. No one was paying attention to me. All human thoughts still swirled around the girl who was condemned to die in little more than an hour's time.

I hid in my car.

I didn't like to think of myself having to hide. How cowardly that sounded. But it was unquestionably the case now.

“You are far from a coward Edward,” Carlisle said his voice ringing with sincerity.

Edward just kept looking forward, Carlisle reassurance was comforting but he didn’t feel so sure he was. Alice rolled her eyes at him, he broke into a slow smile, Edward, you are always doubting yourself Carlisle’s right, just let it go.

Sometimes he wondered if she was the mind reader.

I didn't have enough discipline left to be around humans now. Focusing so much of my efforts on not killing one of them left me no resources to resist the others. What a waste that would be. If I were to give in to the monster, I might as well make it worth the defeat.

I played a CD of music that usually calmed me, but it did little for me now. No, what helped most now was the cool, wet, clean air that drifted with the light rain through my open windows. Though I could remember the scent of Bella Swan's blood with perfect clarity, inhaling the clean air was like washing out the inside of my body from its infection.

I was sane again. I could think again. And I could fight again. I could fight against what I didn't want to be.

I didn't have to go to her home. I didn't have to kill her. Obviously, I was a rational, thinking creature, and I had a choice. There was always a choice.

It hadn't felt that way in the classroom…but I was away from her now. Perhaps, if I avoided her very, very carefully, there was no need for my life to change.

“I’m actually very happy to be wrong about that,” He kissed Bella softy.

I had things ordered the way I liked them now. Why should I let some aggravating and delicious nobody ruin that?

I didn't have to disappoint my father. I didn't have to cause my mother stress, worry…pain. Yes, it would hurt my adopted mother, too. And Esme was so gentle, so tender and soft. Causing someone like Esme pain was truly inexcusable.

“Oh Edward,” Esme got us and hugged however awkwardly because Bella was in his lap, “I am always very proud of you no matter what, you could never cause me pain.”

Edward sighed and reached up to kiss Esme on the cheek, if Esme could have blushed, and cried for that matter, she would have done both in that moment. Carlisle smiled fatherly at them taking Esme back into his arms lightly.

How ironic that I'd wanted to protect this human girl from the paltry, toothless threat of Jessica Stanley's snide thoughts. I was the last person who would ever stand as a protector for Isabella Swan. She would never need protection from anything more than she needed it from me.

Bella rolled her eyes at this, Edward just groaned and pulled her closer if that was even possible.

Where was Alice, I suddenly wondered? Hadn't she seen me killing the Swan girl in a multitude of ways? Why hadn't she come to help—to stop me or help me clean up the evidence, whichever?

Was she so absorbed with watching for trouble with Jasper that she'd missed this much more horrific possibility? Was I stronger than I thought?

“Yes and no, you were changing your mind so much it was more muddled than concrete, by the time I got a clear image you had already decided against it,” Alice shrugged at him.

Would I really not have done anything to the girl?

No. I knew that wasn't true. Alice must be concentrating on Jasper very hard.

“That too,” Alice relented leaning her head against Jasper.

I searched in the direction I knew she would be, in the small building used for English classes. It did not take me long to locate her familiar 'voice.' And I was right.

Her every thought was turned to Jasper, watching his small choices with minute scrutiny.

I wished I could ask her advice, but at the same time, I was glad she didn't know what I was capable of. That she was unaware of the massacre I had considered in the last hour.

I felt a new burn through my body—the burn of shame. I didn't want any of them to know.

“You most definitely had nothing to be ashamed of,” Carlisle said.

“That’s true,” Emmett said quietly Edward was surprise he would say that, then he listened to his shame of actually hurting the two people whose blood did that to him, and he understood.

“Neither do you,” Edward said looking at him; Bella (and everyone else for that matter) looked at him questioningly, knowing he had answered Emmett’s thoughts somehow. Edward just shoot his head and said no more, it wasn’t his business to tell, though he’d told Bella before, but only to make her understand.

If I could avoid Bella Swan, if I could manage not to kill her—even as I thought that, the monster writhed and gnashed his teeth in frustration—then no one would have to know. If I could keep away from her scent…

There was no reason why I shouldn't try, at least. Make a good choice. Try to be what Carlisle thought I was.

“What you are!”

The last hour of school was almost over. I decided to put my new plan into action at once. Better than sitting here in the parking lot where she might pass me and ruin my attempt. Again, I felt the unjust hatred for the girl. I hated that she had this unconscious power over me. That she could make me be something I reviled.

I walked swiftly—a little too swiftly, but there were no witnesses—across the tiny campus to the office. There was no reason for Bella Swan to cross paths with me. She would be avoided like the plague she was.

The office was empty except for the secretary, the one I wanted to see.

She didn't notice my silent entrance.

"Mrs. Cope?"

Edward sighed the “Crush” the woman had on him was uncomfortable to say the least.

The woman with the unnaturally red hair looked up and her eyes widened. It always caught them off guard, the little markers they didn't understand, no matter how many times they'd seen one of us before.

"Oh," she gasped, a little flustered. She smoothed her shirt. Silly, she thought to herself. He's almost young enough to be my son. Too young to think of that way…

“Oh, wow, that’s disturbing,” Bella shuddered into Edward.

“You have no idea,” Edward muttered, Emmett chuckled at them.

"Hello, Edward. What can I do for you?" Her eyelashes fluttered behind her thick glasses.

Uncomfortable. But I knew how to be charming when I wanted to be. It was easy, since I was able to know instantly how any tone or gesture was taken.

“Accept for with you, the one person I want it to work on,” Edward growled playfully into Bella’s neck. Bella shivered in pleasure and blushed as everyone smirked at them. Esme was practically choking with satisfaction, while Carlisle just looked pleased for him.

I leaned forward, meeting her gaze as if I were staring deeply into her depthless, small brown eyes. Her thoughts were already in a flutter. This should be simple.

"I was wondering if you could help me with my schedule," I said in the soft voice I reserved for not scaring humans.

“More like, for dazzling them.” Bella muttered she was slightly annoyed with this interaction, though she knew that it was far from something she should be jealous about, she just couldn’t help it.

Edward laughed at her expression, “You’re are so beautiful, yet so silly.”

Bella huffed crossing her arms, though she relented when he kissed a trail from her neck to her hair line, causing her heart to race and everyone to laugh.

I heard the tempo of her heart increase.

"Of course, Edward. How can I help?" Too young, too young, she chanted to herself. Wrong, of course. I was older than her grandfather. But according to my driver's license, she was right.

"I was wondering if I could move from my biology class to a senior level science? Physics, perhaps?"

"It there a problem with Mr. Banner, Edward?"

"Not at all, it's just that I've already studied this material…"

“Many, many, many times,” Emmett chuckled.

"In that accelerated school you all went to in Alaska, right." Her thin lips pursed as she considered this. They should all be in college. I've heard the teachers complain. Perfect four point ohs, never a hesitation with a response, never a wrong answer on a test—like they've found some way to cheat in every subject.

“Actually we kind of do,” Alice said shrugging.

“Just because you’ve done the studies a thousand times,” Bella said rolling her eyes.

Mr. Varner would rather believe that anyone was cheating than think a student was smarter than him… I'll bet their mother tutors them… "Actually, Edward, physics is pretty much full right now. Mr. Banner hates to have more than twenty-five students in a class—"

"I wouldn't be any trouble."

Of course not. Not a perfect Cullen.

“We are far from perfect,” Jasper said grunting.

"I know that, Edward. But there just aren't enough seats as it is…"

"Could I drop the class, then? I could use the period for independent study."

"Drop biology?" Her mouth fell open. That's crazy. How hard is it to sit through a subject you already know? There must be a problem with Mr. Banner. I wonder if I should talk to Bob about it?

Edward sighed he had no problem with the teacher, and though he knew he didn’t get in trouble, he was sad that he was causing so much trouble for everyone.

"You won't have enough credits to graduate."

"I'll catch up next year."

"Maybe you should talk to your parents about that."

The door opened behind me, but whoever it was did not think of me, so I ignored the arrival and concentrated on Mrs. Cope.

“More like you couldn’t hear me thinking of you,” Bella smirked quietly.

“It’s not funny Bella, it drives me crazy,” Edward said barring his head in her hair, “And right then, it definitely wasn’t a good thing.”

I leaned slightly closer, and held my eyes a little wider. This would work better if they were gold instead of black. The blackness frightened people, as it should.

"Please, Mrs. Cope?" I made my voice as smooth and compelling as it could be— and it could be considerably compelling. "Isn't there some other section I could switch to? I'm sure there has to be an open slot somewhere? Sixth hour biology can't be the only option…"

I smiled at her, careful not to flash my teeth so widely that it would scare her, letting the expression soften my face.

“You’re a little too good at that you know, do you ever do that to me purposely,” Bella asked, her eyebrow raised suspiciously.

Edward just smiled crookedly at her, making her heart pound into her throat against her will.

“You are such an unbelievably good cheater,” Bella said while putting her hand on the heart.

Emmett cracked up laughing so hard he dropped the book. Earning him a glare from Alice and a smack from Rosalie, “Stop being an idiot and read.”

Her heart drummed faster. Too young, she reminded herself frantically. "Well, maybe I could talk to Bob—I mean Mr. Banner. I could see if—"

A second was all it took to change everything: the atmosphere in the room, my mission here, the reason I leaned toward the red-haired woman… What had been for one purpose before was now for another.

A second was all it took for Samantha Wells to open the door and place a signed tardy slip in the basket by the door, and hurry out again, in a rush to be away from school.

A second was all it took for the sudden gust of wind through the open door to crash into me. A second was all it took for me to realize why that first person through the door had not interrupted me with her thoughts.

“Because you couldn’t hear them,” Emmett spouted out loudly. Everyone looked at him as if he were mentally handicap.

I turned, though I did not need to make sure. I turned slowly, fighting to control the muscles that rebelled against me.

Bella Swan stood with her back pressed to the wall beside the door, a piece of paper clutched in her hands. Her eyes were even wider than usual as she took in my ferocious, inhuman glare.

The smell of her blood saturated every particle of air in the tiny, hot room. My throat burst into flames.

Bella flinched at that again, “I’m fine I promise,” He said rubbing her arm soothingly.

The monster glared back at me from the mirror of her eyes again, a mask of evil.

My hand hesitated in the air above the counter. I would not have to look back in order to reach across it and slam Mrs. Cope's head into her desk with enough force to kill her.

Two lives, rather than twenty. A trade.

The monster waited anxiously, hungrily, for me to do it.

But there was always a choice—there had to be.

“There is, and you made the right one,” Carlisle said nodding his head in approval.

“I Agree,” Edward answered staring deep into Bella’s wide brown eyes, she blushed.

I cut off the motion of my lungs, and fixed Carlisle's face in front of my eyes. I turned back to face Mrs. Cope, and heard her internal surprise at the change in my expression. She shrank away from me, but her fear did not form into coherent words.

Using all the control I'd mastered in my decades of self-denial, I made my voice even and smooth. There was just enough air left in my lungs to speak once more, rushing through the words.

"Nevermind, then. I can see that it's impossible. Thank you so much for your help."

I spun and launched myself from the room, trying not to feel the warm-blooded heat of the girl's body as I passed within inches of it.

I didn't stop until I was in my car, moving too fast the entire way there. Most of the humans had cleared out already, so there weren't a lot of witnesses. I heard a sophomore, D.J. Garrett, notice, and then disregard…

Where did Cullen come from—it was like he just came out of thin air… There I go, with the imagination again. Mom always says…

“You’re an idiot, and you just got lucky,” Rosalie growled narrowing her eyes at him.

Edward ignored her and played with a strand of Bella’s hair.

When I slid into my Volvo, the others were already there. I tried to control my breathing, but I was gasping at the fresh air like I'd been suffocated.

"Edward?" Alice asked, alarm in her voice.

I just shook my head at her.

"What the hell happened to you?" Emmett demanded, distracted, for the moment, from the fact that Jasper was not in the mood for his rematch.

Instead of answering, I threw the car into reverse. I had to get out of this lot before Bella Swan could follow me here, too. My own person demon, haunting me…

I swung the car around and accelerated. I hit forty before I was on the road. On the road, I hit seventy before I made the corner.

Bella groaned throwing her head back. Edward just rolled his eyes, he could drive perfectly well and she knew that.

Without looking, I knew that Emmett, Rosalie and Jasper had all turned to stare at Alice. She shrugged. She couldn't see what had passed, only what was coming.

She looked ahead for me now. We both processed what she saw in her head, and we were both surprised.

"You're leaving?" she whispered.

The others stared at me now.

"Am I?" I hissed through my teeth.

“How could you not even know yet?” Bella questioned confused.

“Sometimes, if it’s far enough into the future, I can see something before a person decides for it to happen, or I can see it because it will be their natural path without an immediate decision,” Alice smiled at her, but Alice and Edward shared a look and Edward frowned at her.

Like other decisions, Alice had shown him the vision of her and Bella with their arms draped together in a hug, no longer any difference between their skin and Bella’s. She had dark burgundy crimson eyes and marble hard skin.

Edward growled too low for Bella to hear, though she shifted slightly in response.

She saw it then, as my resolve wavered and another choice spun my future in a darker direction.

"Oh."

Bella Swan, dead. My eyes, glowing crimson with fresh blood. The search that would follow. The careful time we would wait before it was safe for us to pull out and start again…

Bella sighed sadly, Edward was about to say something when Esme got up and gave Bella a light kiss on her forehead.

"Oh," she said again. The picture grew more specific. I saw the inside of Chief Swan's house for the first time, saw Bella in a small kitchen with the yellow cupboards, her back to me as I stalked her from the shadows…let the scent pull me toward her…

"Stop!" I groaned, not able to bear more.

"Sorry," she whispered, her eyes wide.

The monster rejoiced.

And the vision in her head shifted again. An empty highway at night, the trees beside it coated in snow, flashing by at almost two hundred miles per hour.

"I'll miss you," she said. "No matter how short a time you're gone."

Emmett and Rosalie exchanged an apprehensive glance.

Emmett smiled sadly; it was the first time Bella had ever seen him look that way, “We were worried you would leave and we wouldn’t see you again,” then Emmett’s face lit up in a smile, “too bad Eddie was so obsessed with Bella he couldn’t stay away.”

“More like he missed all of you,” Bella smiled. Carlisle looked surprised at that comment.

I know a large part of you came back for us, but didn’t you tell me that you were seeing her the whole time you were gone, and couldn’t wait to return to figure out her silent mind.

Edward nodded his head, but before Carlisle could say this out loud Edward muttered, too low for her to hear, “I would rather he read it first.”

Carlisle smiled at him of course.

We were almost to the turn off onto the long drive that led to our home.

"Drop us here," Alice instructed. "You should tell Carlisle yourself."

I nodded, and the car squealed to a sudden stop.

Emmett, Rosalie and Jasper got out in silence; they would make Alice explain when I was gone. Alice touched my shoulder.

"You will do the right thing," she murmured. Not a vision this time—an order.

"She's Charlie Swan's only family. It would kill him, too."

"Yes," I said, agreeing only with the last part.

Alice rolled her eyes at him, he did do the right thing, just like she said he would, he needed to stop doubting himself so much.

Edward heard her thoughts of course but didn’t believe he could ever stop doing that.

She slid out to join the others, her eyebrows pulling together in anxiety. They melted into woods, out of sight before I could turn the car around.

I accelerated back toward town, and I knew the visions in Alice's head would be flashing from dark to bright like a strobe light. As I sped back to Forks doing ninety, I wasn't sure where I was going. To say goodbye to my father? Or to embrace the monster inside me? The road flew away beneath my tires.

“I get to hear about your time in Alaska,” Bella said cheerfully. Edward smiled at her enthusiasm, and then frown when Emmett’s thought slid into his head.

Just wait until Bella hears about Tanya and her sister’s Emmett smirked in anticipation.

Edward moaned he had completely forgot about them, and that situation. Bella was going to kill him.

“That’s the end of the chapter,” Emmett announced excitedly.

Edward rolled his eyes then and idea came into his mind, maybe he could edit out the parts with Tanya if he read. What he had not anticipated was Alice.

“I’ll read,” He announced holding his hand out for the book.

Alice snatched it before he even got close, “Not a chance big brother.” I’m intend to enjoy this Edward, no editing.

Edward shot her a traitorous glance as she started to read.