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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:


2. Open Book

Rating 0/5   Word Count 13859   Review this Chapter

Disclaimer: I DO NOT own Twilight or any of its Trademarks or Character's they are owned by Stephanie Meyer and Summit Entertainment.

Open Book

“Open Book,” Alice read.

I leaned back against the soft snow bank, letting the dry powder reshape itself around my weight. My skin had cooled to match the air around me, and the tiny pieces of ice felt like velvet around me.

The sky above me was clear, brilliant with stars, glowing blue in some places, and yellow in others. The stars created majestic, swirling shapes against the black universe—an awesome sight. Exquisitely beautiful.

Bella sighed, “I would love to see it, I bet its lovely.”

“It is,” Edward smiled at her, “At the time I was a little preoccupied, but I would love to take you up there to see it for yourself.”

“Okay,” Bella chuckled.

Or rather, it should have been beautiful.

Would have been, if I’d been able to really see it.

It wasn’t getting any better. Six days had passed, six days I’d hidden here in the empty Denali wilderness, but I was no closer to freedom, than I’d had been since that first moment when I’d first caught her scent.

When I stared up at the jeweled sky, it was as if there were an obstruction between my eyes and there beauty. The obstruction was a face, just an unremarkable human face, but I couldn’t quite seem to banish it from my mind.

“So I was right,” Bella frowned, “you are just biased now, when you first met me you thought I was just an average “unremarkable” human with and “unremarkable” face.” Her voice was sad by the time she had gotten to the end.

Edward groaned rolling his eyes, “Have you been paying attention, I just said I couldn’t get you off my mind for a week, your face, those beautiful eyes, the curve of your pout, those long brown curls, I was completely in love with you but too stupid to even realize it.”

Bella smiled and kissed his lips, she knew he was full of it, but it didn’t really matter anymore, she had him now and that was the important thing.

I heard the approaching thoughts before I heard the footsteps that accompanied them. The sound of movement was only a faint whisper against the powder.

I was not surprised that Tanya had followed me here. I knew she had been mulling over this coming conversation for the last few days, putting it off until she was sure of exactly what she wanted to say.

“Who’s Tanya?” Bella said looking apprehensively at Edward, He knew he was a dead man.

“Yeah, Edward,” Emmett smirked, it was about time the golden boy got in trouble, “who’s Tanya?”

“Shut up Emmett,” Edward growled tightly, “Tanya is a friend of the family.”

Bella noted that Edward would not look her in the eyes. She could feel herself starting to panic, she didn’t know if she should be worried or not.

She sprang into sight about sixty yards away , leaping onto the tip of an outcropping of black rock and balancing there on the balls of her bare feet.

Tanya’s skin was silver in the starlight, and her long blonde curls shown pale, almost pink in their strawberry tint. Her amber eyes glinted as she spied me, half buried in the snow, and her full lips stretched slowly into a smile.

Exquisite.

Bella eyes shot up to Edward at that, she pulled away slightly to look him in his eyes, her heart rate climbing.

Edward could hear Bella’s reaction to Tanya and sighed, he was going to get murdered if he didn’t say something soon, “Bella you’re so silly.” He tried to pull her closer and she resisted.

“Bella, I was just thinking about you a second ago,” When he saw her frown he sighed and backpedaled, “Tanya really is just a friend of the family, she expressed interest in me a couple of times, but I very gentlemanly decline her interest. That’s all, and if we keep reading you will hear me do so again.” This time when he tried to pull her close again she relented.

“I don’t want to go see it anymore,” Bella muttered causing Emmett to laugh loudly.

If I’d really been able to see her. I sighed.

“See,” Edward whispered into Bella ear causing her to shiver. He smiled, he loved all her reactions to him.

She crouched down on the point of the stone, her fingertips touching the rock, her body coiled.

Cannonball, she thought.

She launched herself into the air; her shape became a dark, twisting shadow as she spun gracefully between me and the stars. She curled herself into a ball just as stuck the pile of snow bank beside me.

A blizzard of snow flew up around me. The stars went black and I was buried deep in the feathery ice crystals.

I sighed again, but didn’t move to unearth myself. The blackness under the snow neither hurt nor improved the view. I still saw the same face.

“Edward?”

The snow was flying again as Tanya swiftly disinterred me. She brushed the powder from my unmoving face, not quite meeting my eyes.

“Sorry,” she murmured. “It was a joke.”

“I know. It was funny.”

“To be more convincing, you probably have to laugh,” Alice snickered at him.

Edward scowled at her, “I’m sorry Emmett, next time I will laugh.”

Alice rolled her eyes. Emmett looked up, “What? I didn’t say anything?”

Bella laughed loudly. Alice and Edward said at the same time shaking their heads “Really, Emmett?!”

Emmett huffed, “What?” This time everyone joined in the laughed as Rosalie rubbed Emmett’s back comforting his wounded feelings.

Her mouth twisted down.

“Irina and Kate said I should leave you alone. They think I’m annoying you.”

“Not at all,” I assured her. “On the contrary, I’m the one who’s being rude-abominably rude. I’m very sorry

You’re going home, aren’t you? She thought.

“I haven’t . . . entirely . . . decided that yet.”

But you’re not staying here. Her thought was wistful now, sad.

“No. It doesn’t seem to be . . . helping.”

She grimaced. “That’s my fault, isn’t it?”

Bella frowned, she didn’t want to, but she felt a little sorry for her. It has to hurt a little to like someone who doesn’t like you back, and having to worry all the time when your around if you’re making them uncomfortable or bothering them. Especially if they can read your mind and you don’t even get the pleasure of pretending you don’t care.

Of course not,” I lied smoothly.

Don’t be a gentleman.

I smiled.

I make you uncomfortable, she accused.

“No.”

She raised one eyebrow, her expression so disbelieving that I had to laugh. One short laugh, followed by another sigh.

“All right,” I admitted. “A little bit.”

She sighed too, and put her chin in her hands. Her thoughts were chagrined.

“You’re a thousand times lovelier than the stars, Tanya

“Do you find her attractive Eddie,” Emmett chimed in loudly. He was just trying to get Bella to smack Edward.

Bella shifted uncomfortably on Edward lap, Edward rolled his eyes at his brother’s blatant insinuation. “She is beautiful. But I’m more than happily taken, with someone who is far more exquisite and gorgeous than a measly “Beautiful”.”

Bella blushed a ducked her head into his shoulder.

Of course, you’re already well aware of that. Don’t let my stubbornness undermine your confidence. I chuckled at the unlikeliness of that.

“I’m not used to rejection,” she grumbled, her lower lip pushed out into an attractive pout.

Even with Edward’s usual sweetness, she was growing annoyed with all these compliments, and this entire conversation for that matter.

“Certainly not,” I agreed, trying with little success to block out her thoughts as she fleetingly sifted through memories of her thousands of successful conquests. Mostly Tanya preferred human men

Bella shivered at the implications of that sentence.

They were much more populous for one thing, with the added advantage of being soft and warm. And always eager, definitely.

“Succubus,” I teased, hoping to interrupt the images flickering in her head.

“They were rather disturbing an awkwardly vivid,” Edward groaned.

“You just didn’t like it because you’ve never done it,” Emmett smirked, “or have you?”

Bella blushed furiously burying her head. Edward growled harshly at Emmett who just laughed harder.

She grinned, flashing her teeth. “The original.”

Unlike Carlisle, Tanya and her sister had discovered their consciences slowly. In the end, it was their fondness for human men that turned the sisters against the slaughter.

Now the men they loved . . . lived.

“When you showed up here,” Tanya said slowly. “I thought that . . .”

I’d known what she’s thought. And I should have guessed that she would have felt that way. But I hadn’t been at my best for analytical thinking at the moment

“I really hadn’t thought that through,” Edward sighed, Bella huffed her agreement and annoyance.

“You’d thought I’d changed my mind.”

“Yes.” She scowled.

“I feel horrible for toying with your expectations, Tanya. I didn’t mean to-I wasn’t thinking. It’s just that I left in . . . quite a hurry.”

“I don’t suppose you’d tell me why . . .?”

I sat up and wrapped my arms around my legs, curling in defensively. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“You’re so sensitive Edward, “ Alice cooed at him. Edward just rolled his eyes and ignored her.

Tanya, Irina and Kate were very good at this life they’d committed to. Better, in some ways, than even Carlisle. Despite the insanely close proximity they allow themselves with those who should be-and once were-their prey, they did not make mistakes. I was to ashamed to admit my weakness to Tanya.

“Woman troubles?” she guessed, ignoring my reluctance.

I laughed a bleak laugh. “Not the way you mean it.”

“Actually, it was a little bit how she meant it,” Edward said, shattering Bella’s concentration with the force of his stare. She had to look away before she remember what the word breathing meant, let alone how to do the action.

She was quiet then. I listen to her thoughts as she ran through different guesses, trying to decipher the meaning of my words

“You’re not even close,” I told her.

“One hint?” she asked.

“Please let it go, Tanya.”

She was quiet again, still speculating. I ignored her, trying in vain to appreciate the stars.

She gave up after a silent moment, and her thoughts pursued a new direction.

Where will you go, Edward, if you leave? Back to Carlisle?

“I don’t think so,” I whispered.

“How wrong you were Eddie,” Emmett smirked.

Where would I go? I could not think of one place on the entire planet that held interest for me. There was nothing I wanted to see or do. Because, no matter where I went, I would not be going to anywhere-I would only be running from.

I hated that. When had I become such a coward

“You will never be a coward Edward,” Bella said softly whispering in his ear. He kissed her on her cheek in gratitude.

Tanya threw her slender arm around my shoulders. I stiffened, but did not flinch out from under her touch. She meant it as nothing more than friendly comfort. Mostly.

At that Edward got the glare again from Bella, and again he found himself wishing the chapter would be over soon.

“I think that you will go back,” she said, her voice taking on just a hint of her long lost Russian accent. “No matter what it is . . . or who it is . . . that is haunting you. You’ll face it head on. You’re the type.”

Her thoughts were as certain as her words. I tried to embrace the vision of myself that she carried in her head, The one who faced things head on. It was pleasant to think of myself that way again. I’d never doubted my courage, my ability to face difficulty, before that horrible hour in high school biology class such a short time ago.

I kissed her cheek, pulling back swiftly when she twisted her face toward mine, her lips already puckered. She smiled ruefully at my quickness.

“You,” Bella smiled nuzzling her nose to him in a butterfly kiss, “Are banned from Alaska.”

“Duly noted,” Edward replied.

“Tanya’s not as bad as she sounds, honestly,” Alice supplied reassuringly.

“Are you kidding me,” Emmett boomed chuckling, “ Edward, do you remember that time when Tanya jumped you as she came out of the sho-“

“Finish that, and Rosalie won’t even be able to save you,” Edward growled loudly.

“Jumped you from out of where Edward?” Bella said suspiciously.

“Nowhere,” Edward smiled blowing his scent into her face. Making her dizzy.

You are such a cheater Edward Emmett huffed, he had been hoping Bella would yell or smack him. Edward just chuckled at his thoughts.

“Thank you, Tanya. I needed to her that.”

Her thoughts turned petulant. “You’re welcome, I guess. I wish you would be more reasonable about things, Edward.”

“I’m sorry, Tanya. You know you’re too good for me. I just . . . haven’t founf what I’m looking for yet.”

“I have now,” Edward pulled Bella closer.

“Well, if you leave before I see you again . . . goodbye, Edward.”

“Goodbye, Tanya.” As I said the words, I could see it. I could see myself leaving. Being strong enough to go back to the one place where I wanted to be. “Thanks again.”

She was on her feet in one nimble move, and then she was running away, ghosting across the snow so quickly that her feet had no time to sink into the snow; she left no prints behind her. She didn’t look back. My rejection had bothered her more than she’d led on before, even in her thoughts. She wouldn’t want to see me again before I left.

This time Edward frowned, he hoped he would find a way that they could have a comfortable friendship. The Denali’s were family to them and it would be awful if they wouldn’t ever be able to be comfortable around one another.

My mouth twisted with chagrin. I didn’t like hurting Tanya, though her feelings were not deep, hardly pure, and, in any case, not something I could return. It still made me feel less than a gentleman.

I put my chin on my knees and stared up at the stars again, though I was suddenly anxious to be on my way. I knew Alice would see me coming home, that she would tell the others. This would make them happy-Carlisle and Esme especially. But I gazed at the stars for one more moment, trying to see past the face in my head. Between me and the brilliant light in the sky, a pair of bewildered chocolate brown eyes stared back at me, seeing to ask what this decision would mean for her.

Bella smiled, “Only good things.”

Edward laughed, “I’m glad you think so.”

Of course, I couldn’t be sure if that was really the information her curious eyes sought. Even in my imagination, I couldn’t hear her thoughts.

At this everyone in the house cracked up laughing, even Rosalie who had been looking out the window in annoyance broke, Edward just groaned barring his face in Bella’s hair.

Bella Swan’s eyes continued to question, and an unobstructed view of the stars continued to elude me. With a heavy sigh, I gave up, and got to my feet. If I ran, I would be back to Carlisle’s car in less than an hour . . .

In a hurry to see my family-and wanting very much to be the Edward that faced things head on-I raced across the starlit snowfield, leaving no footprints.

Edward was relieved that, that was over, and more and Bella would probably have had Alice mame him.

“It’s going to be okay,” Alice breathed. Her eyes were unfocused, and Jasper had one hand lightly under her elbow, guiding her forward as we walked into the rundown cafeteria in a close group.

Rosalie and Emmett led the way, Emmett looking ridiculously like a bodyguard in the middle of hostile territory. Rose looked wary, too, but much more irritated than protective.

Rosalie huffed and rolled her eyes.

“Of course it is,” I grumbled. Their behavior was ludicrous. If I wasn’t positive that I could handle this moment I would have stayed home.

The sudden shift from our normal, even playful morning-it had snowed in the night, and Emmett and Jasper were not above taking advantage of my distraction to bombard me with slushballs;

When they got bored with my lack of response, they turned on each other-to this overdone vigilance would have been comical if it weren’t so irritating.

“I know how you feel,” Bella sighed, “Mike and Tyler and Jessica were throwing snowballs all morning it was driving me nuts, especially since this was my first snow, and it was gross.”

“I can’t believe you don’t like snow,” Emmett murmured incredulously. “Actually come to think of it, it makes perfect sense.”

“She’s not here yet, but the way she’s going to come in . . . she won’t be downwind if we sit in our regular spot.”

Of course we’ll sit in our regular spot. Stop it, Alice. You’re getting on my nerves. I’ll be absolutely fine.”

She blinked once as Jasper helped her into her seat, and her eyes finally focused on my face.

“Humm,” she said, sounding surprised. “I think you’re right.”

“Of course I am,” I muttered.

I hated being the focus of their concern. I felt a sudden sympathy for Jasper, remembering all the times we’d hovered protectively over him. He met my glance briefly, and grinned.

Annoying, isn’t it?

I grimaced at him.

The Jasper in the room snickered over at Edward earning him a glare from Esme.

“Sorry mom,” Jasper flinched.

Was it just last week that this long, drab room had seemed so killingly dull to me?

That it had seemed almost like sleep, like a coma, to be here?

Today my nerves were stretched tight-piano wires, tensed to sing at the lightest pressure. My senses were hyper-alert; I scanned every sound, every sight every movement of the air that touched my skin, every thought. Especially the thoughts. There was only one sense that I kept locked down, refused to use. Smell, of course. I didn’t breathe.

I was expecting to hear more about the Cullen’s in the thoughts that I sifted through. All day I’d been waiting, searching for whichever new acquaintance Bella swan might have confided in,

Bella rolled her eyes, that thought was ridiculous. Who would she tell? Or more importantly who would she tell that wouldn’t think she was mentally unstable.

Trying to see the direction the new gossip would take. But there was nothing. No one noticed the five vampires in the cafeteria, just the same as before the new girl had come. Several of the humans were still thinking of that girl still thinking the same thoughts from last week.

Instead of finding this utterly boring, I was now fascinated..

Had she said nothing to anyone about me?

“I’m sorry I don’t gossip Edward,” she said hitting him playfully on the chest. He just laughed and squeezed her tighter.

There was no way she had not noticed my black, murderous glare. I has seen her react to it. Surely, I’d scared her silly. I had been convinced that she would have mentioned it to someone, maybe even exaggerated the story a bit to make it better. Give me a few menacing lines.

Bella rolled her eyes, “actually you didn’t scare me, you more or less confused and infuriated me.”

“How did I infuriate you?” Edward scoffed.

“Well, you didn’t know me at all yet you were glaring me down like I personally offended you, which I kinda did,” Bella shrugged.

“No,” Edward said shaking his head, “you didn’t offend me I was mad at myself. That I was going to hurt you, and my family.”

Bella kissed his neck to sooth his hurt expression, so he would know that she was there.

And then, she’d also heard me trying to get out of our shared biology class. She must have wondered, after seeing my expression, whether she were the cause. A normal girl would have asked around, compared her experience to others, looked for common ground that would explain my behavior so she didn’t feel singled out.

Humans were constantly desperate to feel normal, to fit in. To blend in with everyone else around them, like a featureless flock of sheep. The need was particularly strong during the insecure adolescent years. This girl would be no exception to that rule.

“How pleasantly wrong I was about that,” Edward smiled.

But no one at all took notice of us sitting here, at our normal table. Bella must be exceptionally shy, if she’d confided in no one.

Perhaps she had spoken to her father, maybe that was the strongest relationship . . .

“I’m closer to my mother but I guess you could say that he’s my closet relationship here,” she shrugged then smile at Edward and his family, “Well at that time you could.”

Emse and Carlisle both beamed happily at Bella, who blushed and looked outside.

Though that seemed unlikely, given the fact that she had spent so little time with him throughout her life. She would be closer to her mother. Still, I would have to pass by Chief Swan sometime soon and listen to what he was thinking.

“That was a little overkill Eddie,” Emmett snickered.

“I was just dying to know more about her, I couldn’t help it, “ He said smiling at Bella while he played absentmindedly with a strand of her hair.

“Anything new?” Jasper asked.

“Nothing. She . . . must not have said anything.”

All of them raised eyebrows at this news.

“Maybe you’re not as scary as you think you are,” Emmett said, chuckling. “I bet I could have frightened her better than that.

Emmett growled playfully at Bella shooting her a wink. Bella just chuckled when Edward growled back protectively.

I rolled my eyes at him.

“Wonder why . . .?” He puzzled again over my revelation about the girl’s unique silence.

“We’ve been over that. I don’t know.”

“She’s coming in,” Alice murmured then. O felt my body go rigid. “Try to look human.”

“Human, you say?” Emmett asked.

He held up his right fist, twisting his fingers to reveal the snowball he’d saved in his palm. Of course it hadn’t melted there.

“Of course,” Bella smiled though she was a bit exasperated, “At the time I thought this looked like a scene from a movie. You set the whole thing up Emmett?”

“Nope, that was the pixie,” Emmett said pointing his finger at Alice who just stuck her tiny tongue out at him.

He’d squeezed it into a lumpy block of ice.

He had his eyes on Jasper, but I saw the direction of his thoughts. So did Alice, of course. When he abruptly hurled the ice chucnk at her, she flickered it away with a casual flutter of her fingers. The ice ricocheted across the length of the cafeteria, too fast to be visual to human eyes, and shattered with a sharp crack against the brink wall. The brink cracked, too.

The heads in that corner of the room all turned to stare at the pile of broken ice on the floor, and then swiveled to find the culprit. They didn’t look further than a few tables away. No one looked at us.

“Very human, Emmett,” Rosalie said scathingly.

“Why don’t you punch through the wall while you’re at it?”

“It would look more impressive if you did it, baby.”

“I know it would,” Rosalie muttered examining her nails. Emmett just shook his head and kissed her on the cheek.

I tried to pay attention to them, keeping a grin fixed of my face like I was part of their banter. I did not allow myself to look toward the line where I knew she was standing. But that was all that I was listening to.

I could hear Jessica’s impatience with the new girl, who seemed to be distracted, too, standing motionless in the moving line. I saw, in Jessica’s thoughts, that Bella Swan’s cheeks were colored bright pink with blood

Edward looked at Bella, who was as pink as she was in the books, and raised his eyebrow questioningly.

“I saw you there and I was nervous. I didn’t want to have to go to class and see you glare at me again, so I made a deal with myself; if I looked at you and you glared, I’d skip, if you didn’t I’d go,” Bella huffed out embarrassed.

Edward laughed and kissed her flaming cheeks one by one until her heart was beating in her throat.

I pulled in short, shallow breaths, ready to quite breathing if any hint of her scent touched the air near me.

Mike Newton was with the two girls. I heard both his voices, mental and verbal, when he asked Jessica what was wrong with the Swan girl. I didn’t like the way his thoughts wrapped around her, the flicker of already established fantasies that clouded his mind while he watched her start and look up from her reveries like she’d forgotten he was there.

Bella shivered, she wasn’t going to like hearing them at all.

Emmett chuckled at Edward, “Jealous Edward, already? You don’t even have a claim to her yet.”

Bella shrugged, “Actually, he kind of already had me, as crazy as it sounds. I couldn’t get him off my mind.”

Edward said nothing to this, though his expression was a more than a little smug.

“Nothing,” I heard Bella say in a quiet, clear voice. It seemed to ring like a bell over the babbled in the cafeteria, but I knew that was just because O was listening for it so intently.

“I’ll just get a soda today,” she continued as she moved to catch up to the line.

I couldn’t help flickering one glance in her direction. She was staring at the floor, the blood slowly fading from her face. I looked away quickly, to Emmett, who laughed at the now pained-looking smiled on my face.

You look sick, bro.

Bella frowned she didn’t like that she had caused him so many problems. Edward rubbed her back and murmured in her ear, “I’m fine, just frustrated by that beautiful silent mind of yours.”

When he finished he place a kiss to her temple, she involuntarily, pressed her body closer to him.

I rearranged my features so the expression would seem casual and effortless.

Jessica was wondering aloud about the girl’s lack of appetite. “Aren’t you hungry?”

“Actually, I feel a little sick.” Her voice was lower, but still very clear.

Why did it bother me, the protective concern that suddenly emanated from Mike Newton’s thoughts? What did it matter that there was a possessive edge to them? It wasn’t my business if Mike Newton felt unnecessarily anxious for her. Perhaps this was the way everyone responded to her. Hadn’t I wanted, instinctively, to protect her, too?

“I still do, and always will,” Edward nodded.

“We always protect what’s most important to us,” Esme smiled warmly at Bella.

Before I’d wanted to kill her, that is . . .

Edward and Bella both flinched at that.

But was the girl ill?

It was hard to judge-she looked so delicate with her translucent skin . . . then I realized that I was worrying, too, just like that dimwitted boy, and I forced myself not to think about her health

Regardless, I didn’t like monitoring her through Mike’s thoughts. I switched to Jessica’s, watching carefully as the three of them chose a table to sit at. Fortunately, they sat with Jessica’s usual companions, at one of the first tables in the room. Not downwind, just as Alice had promised.

Alice elbowed me. She’s going to look soon, act human.

I clenched my teeth behind my grin.

“Ease up, Edward,’ Emmett said. “Honestly. So you kill one human. That’s hardly the end of the world.”

Bella looked up at Emmett, who was pointedly avoiding her gaze.

“Sorry Bella.”

“It’s fine Emmett really,” Bella shrugged what was the point in getting upset, this was long over now, and she was perfectly fine.

“You would know,” I murmured.

Emmett laughed. “You’ve got to learn to get over things. Like I do. Eternity is a long time to wallow in guilt.”

And she agreed with that too, Edward wallowed enough for the rest of eternity, he needed some peace in his life.

Just then, Alice tossed a smaller handful of ice that she’d been hiding into Emmett’s unsuspecting face.

He blinked, surprised, and then grinned in anticipation.

“You asked for it,” he said as he leaned across the table and shook his ice-encrusted hair in her direction. The snow, melting in the warm room, flew out from his hair in a thick shower of half-liquid, half-ice.

“Ew!” Rose complained, as she and Alice recoiled from the deluge.

“Don’t ever do that again,” Rosalie smiled sweetly with an undercurrent of menace in her tone. Emmett gulped and kissed her swiftly.

“Of course, love.”

Alice laughed, and we all joined in. I could see in Alice’s head how she’d orchestrated this perfect moment, and I knew that the girl-I should stop thinking of her that way, as if she were the only girl in the world-that Bella would be watching us laugh and play, looking as happy and human and unrealistically ideal as a Norman Rockwell painting.

“Yep,” Bella chuckled.

Alice kept laughing, and held her tray up as a shield. The girl-Bella must still be staring at us.

. . . . staring at the Cullen’s again , someone thought, catching my attention.

“I wasn’t staring,” Bella grumbled, “I just happened to glance over.”

“Please, you were staring, and when you weren’t staring at him, he was staring at you,” Emmett rolled his eyes. Bella and Edward looked at each other and smiled, he kissed her neck swiftly.

I looked automatically toward the unintentional call, realizing as my eyes found their destination that I recognized the voice-I’d been listening to it so much today.

But my eyes slid right past Jessica, and focused on the girl’s penetrating gaze.

She looked down quickly, hiding behind her thick hair again.

What was she thinking? The frustration seemed to be getting more acute as time went on,

“Aww that was your first time,” Bella smiled at Edward.

“What!” Emmett gaffed, “No Eddie boy hasn’t had-“

“Not that Emmett,” Bella and Edward groaned, Edward added, “Get your mind off that filth already.”

“For me, that’s not possible,” Emmett snickered.

Rather than dulling. I tried-uncertain in what I was doing for I’d never tried this before-to probe with my mind at the silence around her. My extra hearing had always come to me naturally, without asking; I’d never had to work at it. But I concentrated now, trying to break through whatever shield surrounded her.

Nothing but silence.

What is it about her? Jessica thought, echoing my own frustration.

“NO, she should have thought, what isn’t there about you,” Edward beamed.

“You’re such a cheese ball Edward,” Alice laughed.

“No he’s sweet,” Bella sighed happily.

“Edward Cullen is staring at you,” she whispered in the Swan girl’s ear, adding a giggle. There was no hint of her jealous irritation in her tone. Jessica seemed skilled at feigning friendship.

“Yeah, a little too skilled,” Bella frowned.

I listened, too engrossed, to the girl’s response.

“He doesn’t look angry, does he?” she whispered.

So she had noticed wild reaction last week. Of course she had.

The question confused Jessica. I saw my own face in her thoughts as she checked my expression, but I did not meet her glance. I was still concentration on the girl, trying to hear something. My intent focus didn’t seem to be helping at all.

“No,” Jess told her, and I knew that she wished she could say yes-how it rankled inside her, my staring-though there was no trace of that in her voice. “Should he be?”

“I don’t think he likes me,” the girl whispered back,

“Ha, oh that’s just too funny!” Emmett boomed along with Alice, Edward, Esme and Carlisle.

Bella blushed and groaned, he didn’t really like her then, so she wasn’t completely wrong. Rosalie just frowned rolling her eyes and went back to looking out her window.

Laying her head down on her arm as If she were suddenly tired. I tried to understand the motion, but I could only make guess. Maybe she was tired.

“I wasn’t tired I was just trying to stop myself from looking at you, I didn’t want to bother you,” Bella said in a small embarrassed voice. Edward gave her, her favorite crooked smile and kissed her lightly on her cheek.

“The Cullen’s don’t like anybody,” jess reassured her. “Well, they don’t notice anybody enough to like them.” They never used to. Her thought was a grumbled of complaint. “But he’s still staring at you.”

“Stop looking at him,” the girl said anxiously, lifting her head to make sure Jessica obeyed the order.

Jessica giggled, but did as she was asked.

The girl didn’t look away from her table for the rest of the hour. I thought-though, of course, I could not be sure-that this was deliberate. It seemed like she wanted to look at me. Her body would begin to shift slightly in my direction, her chin would begin to turn, and then she would catch herself, take a deep breath, and stare fixedly at whoever was speaking.

Again Bella blushed she didn’t know she had been so obvious, Esme smiled reassuringly at her.

I ignored the other thoughts around the girl for the most part, as they were not, momentarily, about her. Mike Newton was planning a snow fight in the parking lot after school, not seeming to realize that the snow had already shifted to rain. The flutter of the soft flakes against the roof had become the more common patter of raindrop. Could he really not hear the change? It seemed loud to me.

When the lunch period ended, I stayed in my seat. The human filed out, and I caught myself trying to distinguish the sound of her footsteps from the sound of the rest, as if there was something important or unusual about them. How stupid.

“Now you notice everything about her she can’t even shift her position on you without you moving with her, its actually kind of weird,” Alice shrugged. Edward chuckled at her expression, though she was right of course.

My family made no move to leave, either. They waited to see what I would do.

Would I go to class, sit beside the girl where I could smell the absurdly potent scent of her blood and feel the warmth of her pulse in the air on my skin? Was I strong enough for that? Or had I had enough for one day?

“I . . . think it’s okay,” Alice said, hesitant. “Your mind is set. I think you’ll make it through the hour.”

But Alice knew well how quickly a mind could change.

“Why push it, Edward?” Jasper asked. Though he didn’t want to feel smug that I was the one who was weak now, I could hear that he did, just a little. “Go home. Take it slow.”

“Sorry,” Jasper sighed he knew he sounded like a major jerk back then, He hadn’t meant to.

“It’s water under the bridge,” Edward said rolling his eyes. “I completely understand, honestly.”

“What’s the big deal?” Emmett disagreed, “Either he will or he won’t kill her. Might as well get it over with, either way.”

At this, everyone glared at Emmett, who ducked his head in Rosalie’s neck, shielding himself from the force of the gazes.

“I don’t want to move yet,” Rosalie complained. “I don’t want to start over. We’re almost out of school, Emmett. Finally.”

I was evenly torn on the decision. I wanted, wanted badly, to face this head on rather than running away again. But I didn’t want to push myself too far, either. It had been a mistake last week for Jasper to go so long without hunting; was this just as pointless a mistake

I didn’t want to uproot my family. None of them would thank me for that.

But I wanted to go to biology class. I realized that I wanted to see her face again.

Bella looked up and smiled at Edward, who in turn chuckled, “Aww there’s that lovely face of yours Bella.” He stroked her cheek softly, gazing deep into her eyes.

That’s what decided it for me. That curiosity. I was angry with myself for feeling it. Hadn’t I promised myself that I wouldn’t let the silence of the girl’s mind make me unduly interested in her? And yet here I was unduly interested.

I wanted to know what she was thinking. Her mind was closed, but her eyes were very open. Perhaps I could read them instead.

“My face is not really that easy to read!” Bella grumbled.

“Yes it is,” Everyone exclaimed.

“No, Rose, I think it really will be okay,” Alice said. “It’s . . . firming up. I’m ninety-three percent sure that nothing bad will happen if he goes to class.” She looked at me inquisitively, wondering what had changed in my thoughts that made her vision of the future more secure.

Would curiosity be enough to keep Bella Swan alive?

“Yep,” Alice cheered, “well, that, and being unconditionally in love with her.”

Emmett was right, though-why not get it over with, either way? I would face the temptation head on.

“Go to class,” I ordered, pushing away from the table. I turned and strode away from them without looking back. I could hear Alice’s worry, Jasper’s censure, Emmett’s approval, and Rosalie’s irritation trailing after me.

I took one last deep breath at the door of the classroom, and then held it in my lungs as I walked into the small, warm space.

I was not late. Mr. Banner was still setting up for today’s lab. The girls sat at my-at our table,

“It was our table,” Edward murmured low in her ear, making her shiver, “Along with other places as well.” Bella knew he was speaking about the meadow. She smiled, they would have to go back there sometime.

Her face down again, staring at her folder she was doodling on. I examined the sketch as I approached, interested in even this trivial creation of her mind, but it was meaningless. Just random scribbling of loops within loops. Perhaps she was not concentrating on the pattern, but thinking of something else?

I pulled my chair back with unnecessary roughness, letting it scrape across the linoleum; humans always felt more comfortable when noise announced someone’s approach.

I knew she heard the sound; she did not look up, but her hand missed a loop in the design she was drawing, making it unbalanced.

Why didn’t she look up? Probably she was frightened. I must be sure to leave her with a different impression this time. Make her think she’d been imagining things before.

“Humph,” Bella said crossing her arms.

“I’m sorry.”

“Hello,” I said in a quiet voice I used when I wanted to make human more comfortable, forming a polite smile with my lips that would not show any teeth.

She looked up then, her wide brown eyes startled-almost bewildered-and full of silent questions. It was the same expression that had been obstructing my vision for the last week.

As I stared into those oddly deep brown eyes, I realized that the hate-the hate I’d imagined this girl somehow deserved for simply existing-had evaporated.

Bella smiled widely at that.

Edward automatically smiled back, “Of course.”

Not breathing now, not tasting her scent, it was hard to believe that anyone so vulnerable could ever justify hatred.

Her cheeks began to flush, and she said nothing.

I kept my eyes on hers, focusing only on their questioning depths, and tried to ignore the appetizing color of her skin. I had enough breath to speak for a while longer without inhaling.

“My name is Edward Cullen,” I said, though I knew she knew that. It was the polite way to begin. “I didn’t have a chance to introduce myself last week. You must be Bella Swan.”

She seemed confused-there was that little pucker between her eyes again. It took her half a second longer than it should have for her to respond.

“How do you know my name?” she demanded, and her voice shook just a little.

I must have truly terrified her. This made me feel guilty; she was just so defenseless.

“I can defend myself just fine Edward Cullen,” Bella huffed.

Edward rolled his eyes, “Sure you can, I’ll just do it for you to save time.”

Bella rolled her eyes and flushed when everyone chuckled at her.

I laughed gently-it was a sound that I knew made humans more at ease.

Again, I was careful about my teeth.

“Oh, I think everyone knows your name.” Surely she must have realized that she’d become the center of attention in the monotonous place

“Unfortunately,” Bella shivered. She hated all the extra attention she got.

“The whole town’s been waiting for you to arrive.”

She frowned as if this information was unpleasant. I supposed, being shy as she seemed to be, attention would seem like a bad thing to her. Most humans felt the opposite. I though they didn’t want to stand out from the herd, at the same time they craved a spotlight for their individual uniformity.

“No,” she said. “I mean, why did you call me Bella?”

“Do you prefer Isabella?” I asked, perplexed by the fact that I couldn’t see where this question was leading. I didn’t understand. Surely, she’d made her preference clear many times that first day. Were all humans this incomprehensible without a mental context as a guide?

“Nope, just Bella,” Alice chimed, Bella groaned shaking her head.

“No, I like Bella,” she answered, leaning her head slightly to one side. Her expression-if I was reading it correctly-was torn between embarrassed and confusion. “But I think Charlie-I mean my dad-must call me Isabella behind my back. That’s what everyone here seems to know me as. Her skin darkened one shade pinker.

“Oh,” I said lamely, and quickly looked away from her face.

I’d just realized what her question meant: I had slipped up-made an error. If I hadn’t been eavesdropping on all the others that first day, then I would have addressed her initially by her full name, just like everybody else. She’d noticed the difference.

I felt a pang of unease. It was very quick of her to pick up on my slip. Quite astute, especially for someone who was supposed to be terrified by my nearness.

“You’re really not that scary you know,” She whispered in Edward ear.

“Remember the last time you said that,” Edward smirked remembering when her jumped at her throwing them into his coach. Bella’s whole face heated up at the memory, she remembered that encounter very well, Edward thought with a smirk.

But I had bigger problems than whatever suspicions about me she might be keeping locked inside her head.

I was out of air. If I were going to speak to her again, I would have to inhale.

It would be hard to avoid speaking. Unfortunately to her, sharing this table made her my lab partner, and we would have to work together today. It would seem odd-and incomprehensibly rude-for me to ignore her while we did the lab.

Bella flinched remembering when he did ignore her for a month, after the car crash. Edward rubbed her arm soothingly.

It would make her more suspicious, more afraid . . .

I leaned as far away from her as I could without moving my seat, twisting my head out into the aisle. I braced myself, locking my muscles in place, and then sucked in one quick chest-full of air, breaking through my mouth alone.

Ahh!

It was genuinely painful. Even without smelling her, I could taste her on my tongue. My throat was suddenly in flames again, the craving every bit as strong as that first moment I’d caught her scent last week.

I gritted my teeth together and tried to compose myself.

“Get started,” Mr. banner commanded.

It felt like it took every single once of self-control that I’d achieved in seventy years of hard work to turn back to the girl, who was staring down at the table, and smile.

“Ladies first, partner?” I offered.

She looked up at my expression and her face went blank, her eyes wide. Was there something off in my expression? Was she frightened again? She didn’t speak.

Bella flushed, she had been far from afraid in that moment. Edward looked at her and she groaned, “I was actually caught up in your smile, I thought it was beautiful.”

Edward smiled in smug satisfaction.

“Or, I could start, if you wish,’ I said quietly.

“No,” she said, and her face went from white to red again. “I’ll go first.”

I stared at the equipment on the table, the battered microscope, the box of slides, rather than watch the blood swirl under her clear skin. I took another quick breath, through my teeth, and winced as the taste made my throat ache.

“Prophase,” she said after a quick examination. She started to remove the slide, though she’d barely examined it.

Bella narrowed her eyes at Edward, “You thought I got it wrong.”

“I’m just used to having to take the lead, most people are too afraid to participate, or don’t know the answers, you are just wonderfully intelligent and unique,” Edward said shrugging. Bella flushed with pleasure and looked away, she wondered if, after this was over, her face would ever return to its natural color.

“Do you mind if I look? Instinctively-stupidly, as if I were one of her kind- I reached out to stop her hand from removing the slide. For one second, the heat of her skin burned into mine. It was like an electric pulse-surely much hotter than a mere ninety-eight point six degrees.

Bella’s eyes went wide and she jumped in Edwards arms, Edward growled in surprise and alarm.

“Bella what’s wrong,” Edward said eyeing her warily.

“Nothing, its just, it felt the same to me too, the electricity thing. What is it?”

It was Edwards turn to flush and look away, “I will tell you later, in private.”

Bella looked around confused, Alice and Jasper gave her a nervous smile, Emmett was barely containing himself with a fist in his mouth, Rosalie just rolled her eyes but seemed a bit smug. Last but not least, Carlisle and Esme just smiled contently at her. Whatever it meant, it seemed to Bella like it couldn’t be anything to worry about, she shrugged and looked back to the book.

The heat shot through my hand and up my arm. She yanked her hand out from under mine.

“I’m sorry,” I muttered through my clenched teeth. Needing somewhere to look, I grasped the microscope and stared briefly into the eyepiece. She was right.

“Prophase,” I agreed.

I was still too unsettled to look at her. Breathing as quietly as I could through my gritted teeth and trying to ignore the fiery thirst, I concentrated on the simple assignment, writing the word on the appropriate line on the lab sheet, and then switching out the first slide for the next.

What was she thinking now? What had that felt like to her, when I had touched her hand? My skin must have been ice cold-repulsive. No wonder she was so quiet.

Bella rolled her eyes, “Do you always have to jump to the worse conclusions?”

Edward groaned, “I can’t help it, it’s just what I’m used to, people being disgusted or disturbed by us.”

I glanced at the slide.

“Anaphase,” I said to myself as I wrote it on the second line.

“May I?” she asked.

I looked up at her, surprised to see that she was waiting expectantly, one hand half-stretched toward the microscope. She didn’t look afraid. Did she really think I’d gotten the answer wrong?

Bella blushed, “I was hoping you were.”

Edward snickered at her, then heard Emmett’s thoughts Yeah right Edwards never wrong, he has too much time on his hands, our should I say used to, I wonder what he does in her room all night?

“Not that Emmett, get your mind off sex, please!” Edward growled at him. Bella blushed at looked from Emmett to Edward confused. He just shook his head at her.

I couldn’t help but smile at the hopeful look on her face as I slid the microscope toward her.

She stared into the eyepiece with an eagerness that quickly faded. The corners of her mouth turned down.

“Slide three?” she asked, not looking up from the microscope, but holding out her hand. I dropped the next slide into her hand, not letting my skin come anywhere close to her this time. Sitting beside her was like sitting next to a heat lamp. I could feel myself warming slightly to the higher temperature.

She did not look at the slide for long. “Interphase,” she said nonchalantly-perhaps trying a little too hard to sound that way-and pushed the microscope to me.

“I figured you would want to check it like last time, plus it was your turn,” Bella shrugged.

She did not touch the paper, but waited for me to write the answer. I checked-she was correct again.

“Your handwriting was so much better than mine,” Bella sighed.

“I’ve had decades of practice, that’s all,” He shrugged kissing her hair.

We finished this way, speaking one word at a time and never meeting each other’s eyes. We were the only ones done-the others in the class were having a harder time with the lab. Mike Newton seemed to be having trouble concentrating-he was trying to watch Bella and me.

Wish he’d stayed wherever he went, Mike thought, eyeing me sulfurously. Hmm, interesting. I hadn’t realized the boy harbored any ill will towards me.

This was a new development, about as recent as the girl’s arrival it seemed. Even more interesting, I found-to my surprise-that the feeling was mutual.

Bella shook her head at Edwards irrational hate of Mike, there was nothing there, what-so-ever.

As if reading her mind Edward said, “I didn’t know that then, and besides his thoughts were still irritating, he’s lucky he still breathing today.”

“Edward!” Esme scowled at him.

I looked down at the girl again, bemused by the wide range of havoc and upheaval that, despite her ordinary, unthreatening appearance, she was wreaking on my life.

It wasn’t that I couldn’t see what Mike was going on about. She was actually rather pretty . . . in an unusual way.

“Um thanks, I think,” Bella said confused.

“I meant it in a good way, just keep listening,” Edward smiled.

Better than being beautiful, her face was interesting.

Not quite symmetrical-her narrow chin out of balance with her wide cheekbones; extreme in the coloring-the light and dark contrast of her skin and her hair; and then there were the eyes, brimming over with silent secrets . . .

“I don’t have any major secrets Edward,” Bella rolled her eyes.

“On the contrary,” Alice butted in, “your every thought, to him, is a secret.”

Bella laughed as Edward nodded his head in agreement.

Eyes that were suddenly boring into mine.

I stared at her, trying to guess even one of those secrets.

“Did you get contacts?” she asked abruptly.

What a strange question. “No.” I almost smiled at the idea of improving my eyesight.

“Oh,” she mumbled. “I thought there was something different about your eyes.”

I felt suddenly colder again as I realized that I was not the only attempting to ferret out secret today.

“Nope, I was very curious,” Bella stated.

“You always are,” Edward laughed.

I shrugged, my shoulder stiff, and glared straight ahead to where the teacher was making his rounds.

Of course there was something different about my eyes since the last time she’d stared into them. To prepare myself for today’s ordeal, today’s temptation, I’d spent the entire weekend hunting, satiating my thirst as much as possible, over doing it really. I glutted myself on the blood of animals, not that it made much difference in the face of the outrageous flavor floating on the air around her. When I’d glared at her last, my eyes had been black with thirst. Now, my body swimming with blood, my eyes were a warmer gold. Light amber from my excessive attempt at thirst-quenching.

Another slip. If I’d seen what she’d meant with her question, I could have just told her eyes.

I’d sat beside humans for two years now at this school, and she was the first to examine me closely enough to note the change in my eye color. The others, while admiring the beauty of my family, tended to look down quickly when we returned their stares. They shied away, blocking the details of our appearances in an instinctive endeavor to keep themselves from understanding . Ignorance was bliss to the human mind.

Why did it have to be this girl who would see too much?

“Because, she was meant to love you,” Esme cheered happily.

Edward smiled contently pulling Bella closer to him and resting his head on her shoulder while she slipped her fingers through his hair. She knew she shouldn’t push him much, but over the last month and a half, they’d been getting closer, it was almost natural to her now.

Mr. Banner approached our table. I gratefully inhaled the gush of clean air he brought with him before it could mix with her scent.

“So, Edward,” he said, looking over our answers, “didn’t you think Isabella should get a chance with the microscope?”

“Bella,” I corrected him reflexively. “Actually, she identified three of the five.”

Mr. Banner’s thoughts were skeptical as he turned to look at the girl. “Have you done this lab before?”

I watched, engrossed, as she smiled, looking slightly embarrassed.

“Not with onion root.”

“Whitefish blastula?” Mr. Banner probed.

“Yeah.”

This surprised him. Today’s lab was something he’d pulled from a more advanced course. He nodded thoughtfully at the girl. “Were you in advanced placement program in Phoenix?”

“Yes.”

She was advanced then, intelligent for a human. This did not surprise me.

“You are very smart Miss Swan,” Edward smiled into her eyes.

“Well,” Mr. Banner said, pursing his lips. “I guess it’s good you two are lab partners.” He turned and walked away mumbling, ‘So the other kids can get a chance to learn something for themselves,” under his breath.

“Oh,” Bella said surprised, “that’s what he’d been mumbling, figures.”

I doubted the girl could hear that.

XXXXXXXXXShe began scrawling loops across her folder again.

Two slips so far in one half hour. A very poor showing on my part. Though I had no idea at all what the girl thought of me—how much did she fear, how much did she suspect?—I knew I needed to put forth a better effort to leave her with a new impression of me. Something to better drown her memories of our ferocious last encounter.

"It's too bad about the snow, isn't it?" I said, repeating the small talk that I'd heard a dozen students discuss already. A boring, standard topic of conversation. The weather—always safe.

She stared at me with obvious doubt in her eyes—an abnormal reaction to my very normal words.

“I suspected you were forcing yourself to speak to me,” Bella shrugged.

“You really are incredible, you know that,” Edward said in awe.

"Not really," she said, surprising me again.

I tried to steer the conversation back to trite paths. She was from a much brighter, warmer place—her skin seemed to reflect that somehow, despite its fairness—and the cold must make her uncomfortable. My icy touch certainly had…

"You don't like the cold," I guessed.

"Or the wet," she agreed.

"Forks must be a difficult place for you to live." Perhaps you should not have come here, I wanted to add. Perhaps you should go back where you belong.

Bella sighed at looked down, she didn’t like hearing that, she had already been feeling out of place enough as it was. Edward moaned and whispered apologies in her ear causing her to shiver and pull him closer involuntarily.

I wasn't sure I wanted that, though. I would always remember the scent of her blood—was there any guarantee that I wouldn't eventually follow after her? Besides, if she left, her mind would forever remain a mystery. A constant, nagging puzzle.

"You have no idea," she said in a low voice, glowering past me for a moment.

Her answers were never what I expected. They made me want to ask more questions.

"Why did you come here, then?" I demanded, realizing instantly that my tone was too accusatory, not casual enough for the conversation. The question sounded rude, prying.

“You were,” Esme scolded.

“I’m sorry mom” Edward looked down.

"It's…complicated."

She blinked her wide eyes, leaving it at that, and I nearly imploded out of curiosity—the curiosity burned as hot as the thirst in my throat. Actually, I found that it was getting slightly easier to breathe; the agony was becoming more bearable through familiarity.

"I think I can keep up," I insisted. Perhaps common courtesy would keep her answering my questions as long as I was rude enough to ask them.

Esme glared at Edward again; he refused to meet her eyes.

She stared down silently at her hands. This made me impatient; I wanted to put my hand under her chin and tilt her head up so that I could read her eyes.

The Edward in the room did the same thing. Making Bella’s heart lurch sending her blood rushing up to her cheeks. Everyone snickered at them.

“You’re always so eager to touch her,” Emmett chuckled. Edward rolled his eyes and chucked a pillow at him, Emmett was too fast and dodge it, snickering loudly.

But it would be foolish of me—dangerous—to touch her skin again.

She looked up suddenly. It was a relief to be able to see the emotions in her eyes again. She spoke in a rush, hurrying through the words.

"My mother got remarried."

Ah, this was human enough, easy to understand. Sadness passed through her clear eyes and brought the pucker back between them.

"That doesn't sound so complex," I said. My voice was gentle without my working to make it that way. Her sadness left me feeling oddly helpless, wishing there was something I could do to make her feel better. A strange impulse.

Bella smiled at him, “You’re always so sweet.”

"When did that happen?"

"Last September." She exhaled heavily—not quite a sigh. I held my breath as her warm breath brushed my face.

"And you don't like him," I guessed, fishing for more information.

"No, Phil is fine," she said, correcting my assumption. There was a hint of a smile now around the corners of her full lips. "Too young, maybe, but nice enough."

This didn't fit with the scenario I'd been constructing in my head.

"Why didn't you stay with them?" I asked, my voice a little too curious. It sounded like I was being nosy. Which I was, admittedly.

“No, you were just curious,” Bella said shrugging. At the time it hadn’t really bothered her all that much. She was more irritated that she was blurting out her whole life story, not about him asking.

"Phil travels a lot. He plays ball for a living." The little smile grew more pronounced; this career choice amused her.

I smiled, too, without choosing to. I wasn't trying to make her feel at ease. Her smile just made me want to smile in response—to be in on the secret.

Bella and Edward smiled at each other causing everyone to laugh.

"Have I heard of him?" I ran through the rosters of professional ball players in my head, wondering which Phil was hers…

"Probably not. He doesn't play well." Another smile. "Strictly minor league. He moves around a lot."

The rosters in my head shifted instantly, and I'd tabulated a list of possibilities in less than a second. At the same time, I was imagining the new scenario.

"And your mother sent you here so that she could travel with him," I said.

Making assumptions seemed to get more information out of her than questions did. It worked again. Her chin jutted out, and her expression was suddenly stubborn.

"No, she did not send me here," she said, and her voice had a new, hard edge to it. My assumption had upset her, though I couldn't quite see how. "I sent myself."

I could not guess at her meaning, or the source behind her pique. I was entirely lost.

“I was just frustrated because I am an adult, no one sent me,” Bella pouted. Edward leaned in to kiss her pout away, making Bella smile unwillingly. “Sorry,” He whispered nuzzling her.

So I gave up. There was just no making sense of the girl. She wasn't like other humans. Maybe the silence of her thoughts and the perfume of her scent were not the only unusual things about her.

"I don't understand," I admitted, hating to concede.

She sighed, and stared into my eyes for longer than most normal humans were able to stand.

"She stayed with me at first, but she missed him," she explained slowly, her tone growing more forlorn with each word. "It made her unhappy…so I decided it was time to spend some quality time with Charlie."

The tiny pucker between her eyes deepened.

Bella puckered up her face and Edward smoothed in out with his index finger. She sighed in complete and utter bliss in his arms.

"But now you're unhappy," I murmured.

I couldn't seem to stop speaking my hypotheses aloud, hoping to learn from her reactions. This one, however, did not seem as far off the mark.

"And?" she said, as if this was not even an aspect to be considered.

I continued to stare into her eyes, feeling that I'd finally gotten my first real glimpse into her soul. I saw in that one word where she ranked herself among her own priorities. Unlike most humans, her own needs were far down the list.

She was selfless.

“I’m not completely selfless, Edward no one is,” she said waving her arms dismissively.

“Yes,” Edward answer seriously, “you are, it’s one of the things I love most about you.”

As I saw this, the mystery of the person hiding inside this quiet mind began to thin a little.

“Only a very little, unfortunately,” Edward muttered.

"That doesn't seem fair," I said. I shrugged, trying to seem casual, trying to conceal the intensity of my curiosity.

She laughed, but there was no amusement the sound. "Hasn't anyone ever told you? Life isn't fair."

I wanted to laugh at her words, though I, too, felt no real amusement. I knew a little something about the unfairness of life. "I believe I have heard that somewhere before."

She stared back at me, seeming confused again. Her eyes flickered away, and then came back to mine.

"So that's all," she told me.

But I was not ready to let this conversation end. The little V between her eyes, a remnant of her sorrow, bothered me. I wanted to smooth it away with my fingertip. But, of course, I could not touch her. It was unsafe in so many ways.

Bella sighed irritated, “I wish you had gotten over that sooner, I was more than fine with you touching me.” Bella blushed at the end of her sentence.

“You and me both, trust me.”

"You put on a good show." I spoke slowly, still considering this next hypothesis. "But I'd be willing to bet that you're suffering more than you let anyone see."

She made a face, her eyes narrowing and her mouth twisting into a lopsided pout, and she looked back towards the front of the class. She didn't like it when I guessed right.

She wasn't the average martyr—she didn't want an audience to her pain.

"Am I wrong?"

She flinched slightly, but otherwise pretended not to hear me.

That made me smile. "I didn't think so."

"Why does it matter to you?" she demanded, still staring away.

“Everything about you matters to me,” Edward shrugged. This was obvious to him.

"That's a very good question," I admitted, more to myself than to answer her.

Her discernment was better than mine—she saw right to the core of things while I floundered around the edges, sifting blindly through clues. The details of her very human life should not matter to me. It was wrong for me to care what she thought. Beyond protecting my family from suspicion, human thoughts were not significant.

I was not used to being the less intuitive of any pairing. I relied on my extra hearing too much—I clearly was not as perceptive as I gave myself credit for.

“No, you were never perceptive, you just cheat,” Emmett gaffed. Edward rolled his eyes but otherwise ignored him. After over seventy years together you would think Emmett would be over this by now. He could read minds, let it go, Edward grumbled.

The girl sighed and glowered toward the front of the classroom. Something about her frustrated expression was humorous. The whole situation, the whole conversation was humorous. No one had ever been in more danger from me than this little girl—at any moment I might, distracted by my ridiculous absorption in the conversation, inhale through my nose and attack her before I could stop myself—and she was irritated because I hadn't answered her question.

Bella huffed, crossing her arms again.

"Am I annoying you?" I asked, smiling at the absurdity of it all.

She glanced at me quickly, and then her eyes seemed to get trapped by my gaze.

"Not exactly," she told me. "I'm more annoyed at myself. My face is so easy to read—my mother always calls me her open book."

She frowned, disgruntled.

I stared at her in amazement. The reason she was upset was because she thought I saw through her too easily. How bizarre. I'd never expended so much effort to understand someone in all my life—or rather existence, as life was hardly the right word.

I did not truly have a life.

“Yes you do,” Bella groaned, “you are full of life.” She said sternly kissing the side of Edward mouth.

"On the contrary," I disagreed, feeling strangely…wary, as if there were some hidden danger here that I was failing to see. I was suddenly on edge, the premonition making me anxious. "I find you very difficult to read."

"You must be a good reader then," she guessed, making her own assumption that was, again, right on target.

"Usually," I agreed.

“That was a slip,” Jasper noted, “ though you didn’t know it at the time.”

I smiled at her widely then, letting my lips pull back to expose the rows of gleaming, razor sharp teeth behind them.

It was a stupid thing to do, but I was abruptly, unexpectedly desperate to get some kind of warning through to the girl. Her body was closer to me than before, having shifted unconsciously in the course of our conversation. All the little markers and signs that were sufficient to scare off the rest of humanity did not seem to be working on her.

Why did she not cringe away from me in terror? Surely she had seen enough of my darker side to realize the danger, intuitive as she seemed to be.

“Sorry, but I guess you’re just not as frightening as you think you are,” Bella teased him.

“We’ll see about that,” Edward growled playfully in her ear.

I didn't get to see if my warning had the intended effect. Mr. Banner called for the class's attention just then, and she turned away from me at once. She seemed a little relieved for the interruption, so maybe she understood unconsciously.

I hoped she did.

“Please,” Bella said rolling her eyes, “actually your smile was adorable, and I was relieved because I could stop staring at you like an idiot, and focus on the class.”

Edward rolled his eyes, that sounded like Bella, “Of course you didn’t get the warning, you never do.”

I recognized the fascination growing inside me, even as I tried to root it out. I could not afford to find Bella Swan interesting. Or rather, she could not afford that.

“I rather like it,” Bella smirked at him, kissing his neck.

Already, I was anxious for another chance to talk to her. I wanted to know more about her mother, her life before she came here, her relationship with her father. All the meaningless details that would flesh out her character further.

“And he was anxious to see you ever since,” Jasper groaned, “It drove me nuts, he was so happy when you were around and then dying and anxious when you were gone, Edward sent me through a tidal wave of emotions that year.”

“Sorry,” Bella chuckled.

But every second I spent with her was a mistake, a risk she shouldn't have to take.

Absentmindedly, she tossed her thick hair just at the moment that I allowed myself another breath. A particularly concentrated wave of her scent hit the back of my throat.

It was like the first day—like the wrecking ball. The pain of the burning dryness made me dizzy. I had to grasp the table again to keep myself in my seat. This time I had slightly more control. I didn't break anything, at least. The monster growled inside me, but took no pleasure in my pain. He was too tightly bound. For the moment.

“And I think he always will be,” Carlisle interrupted, “ it lust after her for more than her blood, it’s probably the reason you were anxious in the first place.”

Edward looked curiously at his father as he took in his words. They seemed fitting, every inch of him, always craved every inch of her. He’d just figured the monster, was more interested in the wrong parts, maybe he’d been the one who was wrong.

I stopped breathing altogether, and leaned as far from the girl as I could.

No, I could not afford to find her fascinating. The more interesting I found her, the more likely it was that I would kill her. I'd already made two minor slips today.

Would I make a third, one that was not minor?

“No, you’re much stronger than that,” Bella said sternly.

As soon as the bell sounded, I fled from the classroom—probably destroying whatever impression of politeness I'd halfway constructed in the course of the hour.

“Not really,” she shrugged, “I just thought you looked graceful.”

Edward rolled his eyes.

Again, I gasped at the clean, wet air outside like it was a healing attar. I hurried to put as much distance between myself and the girl as was possible.

Emmett waited for me outside the door of our Spanish class. He read my wild expression for a moment.

How did it go? he wondered warily.

"Nobody died," I mumbled.

I guess that's something. When I saw Alice ditching there at the end, I thought...

As we walked into the classroom, I saw his memory from just a few moments ago, seen through the open door of his last class: Alice walking briskly and blank-faced across the grounds toward the science building. I felt his remembered urge to get up and join her, and then his decision to stay. If Alice needed his help, she would ask…

I closed my eyes in horror and disgust as I slumped into my seat. "I hadn't realized that it was that close. I didn't think I was going to…I didn't see that it was that bad," I whispered.

It wasn't, he reassured me. Nobody died, right?

"Right," I said through my teeth. "Not this time."

Maybe it will get easier.

“Actually it has,” Edward answered seriously, “the more time I spend with her, the easier it gets to ignore her scent.”

"Sure."

Or, maybe you kill her.

Edward and Esme growled loudly at Emmett, who, for his part shrank back into Rosalie ashamed. Rosalie sighed and pulled him closer to her kissing him softly on the jaw. This whole book in her opinion was a waste of time, who cared about Edward’s infatuation with a pathetic human. This thought made Edward turned his glare from Emmett to her. She just huffed looking away annoyed.

He shrugged. You wouldn't be the first one to mess up. No one would judge you too harshly. Sometimes a person just smells too good. I'm impressed you've lasted this long.

"Not helping, Emmett."

I was revolted by his acceptance of the idea that I would kill the girl, that this was somehow inevitable. Was it her fault that she smelled so good?

I know when it happened to me…, he reminisced, taking me back with him half a century, to a country lane at dusk, where a middle-aged women was taking her dried sheets down from a line strung between apple trees. The scent of apples hung heavy in the air—the harvest was over and the rejected fruits were scattered on the ground, the bruises in their skin leaking their fragrance out in thick clouds. A fresh-mowed field of hay was a background to that scent, a harmony. He walked up the lane, all but oblivious to the woman, on an errand for Rosalie. The sky was purple overhead, orange over the western trees. He would have continued up the meandering cart path and there would have been no reason to remember the evening, except that a sudden night breeze blew the white sheets out like sails and fanned the woman's scent across Emmett's face.

"Ah," I groaned quietly. As if my own remembered thirst was not enough.

I know. I didn't last half a second. I didn't even think about resisting.

His memory became far too explicit for me to stand.

Bella shivered trying not to think about the poor woman who was harm. Emmett looked to be even more ashamed than before. Jasper sent him a wave of acceptance and serenity.

“Thanks,” Jasper just nodded mutely at him.

I jumped to my feet, my teeth locked hard enough cut through steel.

"Esta bien, Edward?" Senora Goff asked, startled by my sudden movement. I could see my face in her mind, and I knew that I looked far from well.

"Me perdona," I muttered, as I darted for the door.

“Always polite,” Bella smiled.

"Emmett—por favor, puedas tu ayuda a tu hermano?" she asked, gesturing helplessly toward me as I rushed out of the room.

"Sure," I heard him say. And then he was right behind me.

He followed me to the far side of the building, where he caught up to me and put his hand on my shoulder.

I shoved his hand away with unnecessary force. It would have shattered the bones in a human hand, and the bones in the arm attached to it.

"Sorry, Edward."

"I know." I drew in deep gasps of air, trying to clear my head and my lungs.

"Is it as bad as that?" he asked, trying not to think of the scent and the flavor of his memory as he asked, and not quite succeeding.

"Worse, Emmett, worse."

Bella sighed loudly.

Edward moaned, “It fine Bella I promise, I love being around you, I would take the trade every day.”

He was quiet for a moment.

Maybe…

"No, it would not be better if I got it over with.

“That definitely wouldn’t be better,” Edward shivered at even the thought of him hurting someone so special, so warm and loving. He placed his forehead to her’s, breathing in her scent, happy when it burned his throat.

“Go back to class, Emmett. I want to be alone."

He turned without another word or thought and walked quickly away. He would tell the Spanish teacher that I was sick, or ditching, or a dangerously out of control vampire. Did his excuse really matter? Maybe I wasn't coming back. Maybe I had to leave.

I went to my car again, to wait for school to end. To hide. Again.

I should have spent the time making decisions or trying to bolster my resolve, but, like an addict, I found myself searching through the babble of thoughts emanating from the school buildings. The familiar voices stood out, but I wasn't interested in listening to Alice's visions or Rosalie's complaints right now. I found Jessica easily, but the girl was not with her, so I continued searching. Mike Newton's thoughts caught my attention, and I located her at last, in gym with him. He was unhappy, because I'd spoken to her today in biology. He was running over her response when he'd brought the subject up…

I've never seen him actually talk to anyone for more than a word here or there. Of course he would decide to find Bella interesting. I don't like the way he looks at her.

But she didn't seem too excited about him. What did she say? 'Wonder what was with him last Monday.' Something like that. Didn't sound like she cared. It couldn't have been much of a conversation…

“On the contrary, I enjoyed it maybe a little too much,” Bella said thoughtfully, Edward smiled.

He talked himself out of his pessimism in that way, cheered by the idea that Bella had not been interested in her exchange with me. This annoyed me quite a bit more than was acceptable, so I stopped listening to him.

“I didn’t like that you didn’t care,” Edward mumbled embarrassed.

“Oh course I cared,” Bella said giving him a light peck, pulling back before she could get too into it. She knew it would strain him too much, she didn’t want him in anymore pain.

I put a CD of violent music into the stereo, and then turned it up until it drowned out other voices. I had to concentrate on the music very hard to keep myself from drifting back to Mike Newton's thoughts, to spy on the unsuspecting girl…

I cheated a few times, as the hour drew to a close. Not spying, I tried to convince myself. I was just preparing. I wanted to know exactly when she would leave the gym, when she would be in the parking lot. I didn't want her to take me by surprise.

As the students started to file out of the gym doors, I got out of my car, not sure why I did it. The rain was light—I ignored it as it slowly saturated my hair.

Did I want her to see me here? Did I hope she would come to speak to me? What was I doing?

“Stalking her, obviously,” Emmett teased. Bella smiled at him, “Good.”

Edward frowned, he should have left her alone, it would be better for he if he had, he just couldn’t bring himself to be able to do it.

I didn't move, though I tried to convince myself to get back in the car, knowing my behavior was reprehensible. I kept my arms folded across my chest and breathed very shallowly as I watched her walk slowly toward me, her mouth turning down at the corners. She didn't look at me. A few times she glanced up at the clouds with a grimace, as if they offended her.

“They had, I just wanted it to stop raining for once,” Bella grumbled.

I was disappointed when she reached her car before she had to pass me. Would she have spoken to me? Would I have spoken to her?

She got into a faded red Chevy truck, a rusted behemoth that was older than her father. I watched her start the truck—the old engine roared louder than any other vehicle in the lot—and then hold her hands out toward the heating vents. The cold was uncomfortable to her—she didn't like it. She combed her fingers through her thick hair, pulling locks through the stream of hot air like she was trying to dry them. I imagined what the cab of that truck would smell like, and then quickly drove out the thought.

Both Bella and Edward shivered not wanting to think of the meaning behind that. To lighten the mood Bella answered, “Strawberry shampoo, with a little peace mango bath scrub.” She chuckled, “ It’s my favorite.”

Edward leaned into her neck inhaling deeply, “Mine too.”

Bella blushed as everyone laughed at them. They were just too adorable.

She glanced around as she prepared to back out, and finally looked in my direction. She stared back at me for only half a second, and all I could read in her eyes was surprise before she tore her eyes away and jerked the truck into reverse. And then squealed to a stop again, the back end of the truck missing a collision with Erin Teague's compact by mere inches.

She stared into her rearview mirror, her mouth hanging open with chagrin. When the other car had pulled past her, she checked all her blind spots twice and then inched out the parking space so cautiously that it made me grin. It was like she thought she was dangerous in her decrepit truck.

The thought of Bella Swan being dangerous to anyone, no matter what she was driving, had me laughing while the girl drove past me, staring straight ahead.

“I knew you looked like you were laughing at me,” Bella groaned, “and it could have been dangerous, it I had hit someone that truck is like a tank.”

Edward kissed her gently, “Of course, you are, very dangerous Bella, we are all terrified.”

“You better be,” Bella chuckled.

“That the end of the chapter,” Alice smiled offering the book around.

“I’ll read now if that’s alright with you,” Edward huffed annoyed that she wouldn’t let him read last time.

“Of course brother,” Alice chimed, with a deadly sweet voice. There’s nothing to juicy in this chapter, she added smirking in her mind. Edward rolled his eyes taking the book from her.