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A Second Chance at Love

Summary:
Bella dismisses Edward when he returns in New Moon. She moved on with Jacob, and promised Edward that he would find happiness and love someday. With the letter she wrote him in hand, he believes her and moves on with his life, in search of his love. Forty years later, he and the rest of the Cullens re-enroll in High school. Two new students throw his world out of orbit and he’s faced with the reality of the promise Bella made him. AU after New Moon. Edward is a little OOC because he doesn’t want to repeat history, otherwise, canon couples with the exception of Edward of course. Note: Jacob was a werewolf, but Bella wasn’t necessarily all human herself. Rated NC-17 for language and content in later chapters. Yes there will be lemons but not at first.


Notes:


1. Chapter 1: And now for something completely different

Rating 4/5   Word Count 8504   Review this Chapter

Preface: When Edward returns in New Moon, it’s not because he thought Bella killed herself. It’s the inevitability that’s hinted at in the end of New Moon. He would have come back anyway. He does, but Bella is not quick to take him back. At this point she has moved on with Jacob. She’s found happiness and doesn’t want to go back to the same unequal relationship she had with Edward. But rather than wallowing in devastation and self pity, Bella doesn’t want to allow this. She sends a letter to Edward, who has left once again to curl up in his misery and sadness. Alice provided Bella with his address, knowing that the letter would work, and she penned the following letter to him:

Dear Edward,

I know you’re probably wallowing in self doubt and hatred right now. Stop it! I spent enough time mourning the death of our relationship for the both of us, there’s no need for you to do it now too. You and I were never meant to be, Edward. If we were, you never would have left, and I would have fought harder to make you stay if you did try to leave. You can preach to me all you want that you left for my own good or to keep me safe, but you know that’s not entirely true. You left because you were afraid. Afraid of the unknown. Afraid of what I might think down the road when it ‘finally hit me’ that you’re a vampire and I have no business being in love with you.

I know you’ll find happiness somewhere. I know you were never truly happy with me. You may have thought you were, but you were constantly terrified of hurting me, or losing me to my inevitable human death, or to me ‘coming to my senses.’ That’s not a healthy relationship. You have to trust me on this, Edward. I know I’m ‘only a human’ but I’ve learned a thing or two about love since you left. What you and I had was not love. It was an infatuation. Me with the unknown, and you with the forbidden. Don’t pretend to think I’m wrong, when you know I’m right. I can promise that you’ll find her some day Edward. I know you will. You just need to trust and believe me, and yourself.

All the best,

Bella

Chapter 1. And now for something completely different:

“Let’s get settled down here. I know you’re all excited to be back in school,” Mr. Branson, this year’s version of a calculus teacher states sarcastically. Each student in the room groans in turn. Another high school. I thought 40 years of not repeating this mundane act would be enough time to prepare for it again. But has time goes by, high school remains the same. The exciting part of school this first day is that the school will be welcoming two new students to its body. A pair of twin siblings just moved here from Olympia. At least they’re from our neck of the woods. Perhaps I can talk Washington with them. Maybe they know of Forks. Maybe their parents were friends with Bella. No! No, no, no! I cannot think of her. She promised I’d find my love and happiness one day. I simply have to believe that.

In walk the two new students in question. I hadn’t seen their faces in anyone’s thoughts yet. This is the first room they’ve entered today apparently. When I look up, I feel as though I have been punched in the chest by Emmett.

Bella. She looks exactly like her. Almost. Her long, beautiful hair is a few shades darker, nearly black, and her skin is a light bronzy copper color. But the eyes are unmistakably hers. No one else on earth has eyes like that except for Bella and now this unknown girl. Her face is the same heart shape with strong cheek bones, and her lips are the same shape but slightly fuller than Bella’s. Perfectly pouted, and perfectly kissable.

“Ah yes. Mister and Miss Bentley, right?” Mr. Branson greets them once they handed him their schedules.

“Arbie, if you please,” the girl says before Mr. Branson can see her first name.

“Barbie you said?” Mr. Branson replies. I roll my eyes at his horrid hearing. She stifles a sigh.

“No. Arbie… like my initials” she indicates showing her initials on his list. “A-R-B, Arbie as a nickname.” Mr. Branson marks in the notes, so he knew not to call her by whatever her real name is. It’s obvious in her tone that she clearly prefers to be called Arbie. Next is her brother, who is very obviously her twin. Of course male and female twins cannot be identical, but two fraternal twins have never looked more alike than these two.

He too has long dark hair that he has pulled back in a pony tail at the nape of his neck. His look is decidedly Native American. I wonder if they are both of native descent. He was a few inches taller than her, though she towered over the five foot seven teacher, making her at least five foot eleven if not six feet tall. Another thing she did not have in common with Bella. She was not known for her height. Also, this Arbie appears to be quite athletic. The muscles in her upper arms and her gait give away clues that she’s a runner and possibly a soccer or rugby player.

“And I’m Jeb,” the boy chimes in. “Same as her… the initials,” he clarifies pointing at his name on the list. Through Mr. Branson’s thoughts, I can see that the names on the list are listed as merely “A.R. Bentley” and “J.E. Bentley.” Apparently neither of these siblings use their given names. How strange. I try listen to their thoughts if there’s any indication of what their given names are. Complete silence.

Bella. Just like Bella. Not a peep is heard from either of their minds. As I look around me, the other students are just now starting to notice the new comers. Flash judgments can be heard in the minds all around me. Wow he’s hot. Wow she’s a babe. Wonder what they’re like? Literally everyone in the room is suddenly as fixated on these two people as they were last year when my family started in this school. Just like Bella. She was the greatest thing since sliced bread when she started in Forks High School. Suddenly I know this bout through school is not going to be dull at all. I feel as though my life has just gotten much more interesting at this very moment. I look around me and notice that the only two empty seats are next to me and behind me. I hope silently that Arbie chooses the seat next to mine. That would make it easier for me to interact with her than if she was behind me.

Edward! Alice thinks from other side of the room. Your entire future just disappeared. What is going on? I meet her gaze then flicker my eyes to the two new students who are now on their way to the respective empty seats around me. They’re the cause of this? How? She asks. I shrug my shoulders slightly, indicating I have no idea. Arbie is walking gracefully down the aisle to the seat next to mine. Her brother Jeb is in the next aisle over about to sit behind me.

I’m trying not to pay them much attention, they do not need to know of my sudden infatuation with their silent minds as of yet. I take in a small breath, to ascertain their scents. Maybe they are as potent as Bella. God help me if that is the case.

Strangely, they do not have scents. I cannot smell them at all. Their heartbeats are loud and clear, but their scents are completely absent. Even vampires have distinct scents, but these two… none whatsoever. How strange. I feel as though my senses are playing tricks on me. Bella smelled more potent to me than any other human in my existence, and yet these two, who are seemingly so like her in appearance, are so different as well.

“Okay class. Many of you know the drill. It’s get to know your partner day today. I have passed around the surveys they should all be on your desks. Take a moment and fill out your questions, then compare them with your partner. Row one,” he addresses my row, “you are paired with whomever is sitting directly to your right. You’ve all already taken your seats, there will be no switching,” he adds as he notices a few people trying to switch seats so they can partner with their friends.

“I’m Edward Cullen,” I say, extending my hand to greet Arbie.

“Arbie Bentley,” she replies, smiling back, taking my hand and shaking it firmly. She seems stronger than she looks, I almost feel my skin give as she grips my hand. A grip that would surely be painful for any human. She doesn’t flinch at the temperature or hardness of my skin. Instead, so like Bella, there’s an electric current flowing between us. I can almost hear it humming. She does seem to notice that, and pulls her hand away, flexing her fingers trying to figure out the strange sensation. “Would you like to just answer these together rather than splitting to answer them alone?” she suggests. I grin and nod in response. It seems the rest of the class is doing something similar, or just chatting and ignoring the assignment all together.

“Question one,” I begin. “What is your birthday?”

“October 31,” she replies. “Halloween obviously. Yours?”

“July 27th,” I reply, giving her the date I woke up from my transformation. That’s the date we all use for birthdays anyway. “Your brother is your twin, yes?” I ask as a follow up question.

“Yep!” she replies, “and before you ask your next question, we don’t know who’s the older one.”

“Alright, hand over the ESP Pills, and no one gets hurt,” I joke, pretending to search around her for a bottle of pills. She giggles out loud, but the rest of the class is engrossed in chatter and doesn’t notice us laughing. I feel a strange sensation in the pit where my dead heart lies motionless. Is this happiness again?

Once she’s done laughing she proceeds to the next question. “Question two: do you have any siblings? Well we already know I have a twin brother. He’s the only sibling I have. Do you have any?”

“Yes, I have two sisters, one of which is over there, now waving at you,” I reply, glaring slightly at Alice. “Her name’s Alice,” I add as Arbie waves back and smiles. “And I have an older sister Rosalie, who also has a twin brother, Jasper. And then my eldest brother Emmett. They’re all in a grade above us.” Her eyes grow wide with shock. A flicker of emotion I don’t recognize flashes across her face, as she swallows loudly. Does she know what I am? Her gaze flickers to her brother who seems all but oblivious to everyone except the girl he’s working with. One of the Sharpe twins. I didn’t care to remember which one.

“Wow, that’s a lot of kids so close together in age,” she replies, ignoring the expression on her face, and before I can ask her why she freaked out. “Do you all have the same parents?”

“Ah no. We’re all adopted actually,” I start, overly familiar with the public story we’d all given thousands of times. Her face seems to relax slightly. “Esme, our mother was unable to have children, so she and our father Carlisle took us all in as foster children, years ago, and then adopted us.”

“Oh wow. We have something in common then,” she replies. I quirk an eyebrow at her, silently requesting for clarification. “Jeb and I are adopted, too. When we were about two years old, our parents disappeared, and then Bree and Hwin took us in, and adopted us.”

“Wow, I’m so sorry to hear that. Do you remember your parents at all?”

“No, not really. Sometimes I think I dream of them, but I can’t be sure of course.”

I really didn’t expect our conversation to go here. Here I thought she was just a normal teenage girl with a normal family, but no, she was adopted after her parents disappeared. Her silent mind is all the more intriguing now. And I simply have to find out why she has no scent whatsoever. If it weren’t for her heartbeat, and the heat of her body emanating off of her skin, I wouldn’t even know she’s sitting here if my eyes were closed. “Okay, um, question three,” she starts again, wanting to change the subject. I glance down at the paper to read the question.

“What do your parents do for a living?” I ask before she can say it. “My father’s a doctor, and my mother is an architect,” I reply automatically, still familiar with the tales we tell, though these two professions are legitimate currently. “What about your parents?”

“Umm, my moms are a professional landscape designer of sorts and a psychiatrist respectively,” she states.

“Moms?” I ask, realizing she used the plural, and did not mention a father.

“Er, yeah. I have two moms,” she whispers so others don’t hear. Not that any of them were paying attention. I smile in response to her semi grimace, assuring her that I truly believe that matters of the heart know no gender. “But they both travel for work, so they’re not around much. Jeb and I pretty much fend for ourselves most of the time.”

“Don’t you get lonely?” I ask.

“Sometimes, I suppose.” She shrugs. “It’d be worse if I were an only child, but I don’t really mind being alone. I like my me time.”

“Another thing we have in common. My siblings would call me anti-social, but I just enjoy my me time as well,” I reply. “But if you ever are looking for someone to spend time with, my house is brimming with people that would love to spend time with you I’m sure,” I offer, sparing a glance at Alice who is practically bouncing in excitement of getting a new friend.

“That would be lovely!” she replies, glancing at her wristwatch, which I notice is a Swatch. Not cheap. “Not even 20 minutes into my first day, and I’ve already made a house full of friends.” She winks.

“Question four,” I begin again. “What other classes are you taking?” She pulls out her schedule and studies it briefly.

“1st period Calc, obviously,” she giggles. “Then Art with Swenson, Spanish with Petersen, Ancient Civilizations with Thompson, followed by lunch, Gym with Perkovich, and finally Concert Choir with Lindstrom.” Her schedule matches mine almost exactly. I wonder how she got into Concert Choir already. One had to audition to get into that class, it wasn’t the “easy A” class of varsity choir, and actually had some stiff competition getting in. I was an almost automatic in because I’m male, but I can actually sing, as can any vampire though.

“Wow. We have all but one class together, I think,” I state, pulling out my schedule to show her. I have it memorized already, of course. “I took Asian Civ. instead of Ancient Civ.” Maybe I should look into switching, having my full schedule with her. “You’ll meet my brother Jasper in Ancient Civ, though. He loves history, so he’d be a good partner for any project.”

“Will I know him when I see him?” she asks. “So I can be sure to sit next to him,” she clarifies.

“Well he’s got blond curly hair, but pale as a sheet like me,” I joke.

“Yeah, I was gonna say… are you allergic to sunshine or something?” she jokes, pointing at my pasty arm resting on the desk.

“Something like that,” I reply evasively.

We go back and forth for the rest of the period before Mr. Branson gives us a homework quiz. Just to see how much we’ve retained from last year. “How’s your calculus?” I ask Arbie, glancing at the quiz.

“I was part of the mathletes at my last school,” she replies. “So it’s pretty catastrophic,” she adds, sarcastically. I nod and giggle in response just as the bell rings. We both gather up our things, she says goodbye to Jeb, who is off to the shop area of the school. Apparently he was able to swing a bunch of shop classes back to back. Wood shop, metal shop and auto shop. Rosalie would be jealous of that last one. Schools almost never let her near the auto shop, fearing she’d ruin something, when in reality she’d probably fix everything in a fortnight, dumbfounding the entire department.

On the way to the art room, Arbie stops at her locker, which is just a few down from mine. The fact that her last name begins with a B and mine a C is working in my favor. If any classes decide to do alphabetical assigned seating, we should still be relatively near each other. We are the first to arrive in the art room. Ms Swenson gestures for us to find our own seats. Arbie and I take a table near the back of the room. I wonder idly if she’s any good at art. Her handwriting is rather graceful and elegant, I noticed from her writing on our survey.

“How’s your painting arm?” she asks, giving me a lopsided grin that rivaled my own.

“Decent,” I reply, flexing my arm comically. “Perhaps a bit rusty though, you?”

She wiggles her fingers. “Never been more in shape.” I like her already. She is witty, sarcastic, smart. All the best traits I’d ever look for, in addition to her stunning beauty and grace. If the feeling in the pit of my stomach is at all telling of what’s going through me right now, I will not make the same mistakes I did with Bella. I will never leave her until she orders me away. Now I just have to work on not coming off as a stalker or obsessed. Something I’m not very good at doing, I’ve learned.

Ms. Swenson greets the class in much the same way that Mr. Branson did, but rather than having a “getting to know you” hour, she hands us all a canvas and a bunch of bottles of cheap acrylic paint. “Paint your thoughts,” she orders, passing out cups full of various sizes of paint brushes, paper towels, mixing palettes, palette knives, and cups of water for rinsing. What I like about Ms. Swenson in comparison to other art teachers I’ve dealt with in the past is that she lets her students work freely, rather than trying to mold us into the artists they think we should be. I am not now nor will I ever be a cubist or an impressionist. I like what I like, I do what I do, and I don’t like when art teachers try to change my preferences. Perhaps it’s part of the whole vampire being frozen in time thing, and not liking change, but still. This is why I continue taking classes with Ms. Swenson. She gets it.

Arbie gets right to work, painting her entire canvas black. I raise an eyebrow at her, quizzically. “The colors always seem so much brighter against a black background. This is in no way a symbol of my thoughts or mood right now,” she explains. “In fact, if I were to give a color to my thoughts right now it would be…” she glances at the array of paints in front of us. “Yellow,” she says as she grabs the yellow bottle, placing it directly in front of her. “It’s a good thing acrylic paint dries so fast, or this would be rather tedious.” While she waits the few minutes it will take for the black paint to dry, she pulls out a sheet of scratch paper and a pencil and begins to doodle whimsical vine designs on the paper. Ms. Swenson is engrossed in preventing a paint fight, otherwise she’d ask Arbie not to draw on paper as “a pencil is not a paint brush.”

I stare at my blank canvas, willing my mind to be thinking of something else. If I paint my thoughts, I’d be painting a scene of me kissing a beautiful bronze skinned girl sitting in a meadow not far from here that is very reminiscent of a meadow I used to frequent in Forks. Arbie does not need to know that my thoughts of her are already so intimate. “Don’t tell me your thoughts are the color white, now Edward. I may not know you very well, but I know you better than that.” She says, as she continues doodling her vine design. The black paint is just about dry.

“Oh? And what color would you give my thoughts then?” I ask.

“Hmm…” she starts, then leans in and stares deeply into my eyes. I am completely captivated by her deep chocolate pools, unable to blink or look away. The flecks of gold in her eyes seem to be dancing with intensity as she searches my topaz eyes for some kind of thought color. “Orange I’d say. Or perhaps a turquoise or a lime green. In any case, your thoughts are very bright and friendly, while also intimate. But not as intimate as red.” I furrow my brows at her in confusion.

“Sorry, my mom believes that all emotions and thoughts have colors assigned to them. She has a whole wall in her office of every color you can think of and the trait assigned to it. So I can get a bit carried away with it sometimes.” I notice a hint of red in her cheeks. Her darker pallor makes it impossible for her to blush as furiously as Bella did, but the familiar red hue is comforting nonetheless.

“How right you are though,” I reply. “My thoughts are very bright. I was thinking about a meadow that’s not far from my house, that is still blooming with thousands of wildflowers. Orange, turquoise and green are only a handful of the colors in that meadow,” I explain, leaving out my thought of her occupying said flowered space.

“Oh how lovely. It sounds beautiful. I think you should paint that, but then it’s your thoughts you’re supposed to paint, not mine,” she says, grinning at me again. She glances back at her own canvas, tentatively touching the corner to see if the black is dry. Satisfied that she can move on to her next color she pours the golden yellow into a well of the palette. I fill my own palette with the same colors she mentioned as well as an array of blues and purples for all the wildflowers. I start with a background of yellows and greens, simulating the brightness of the meadow when the sun is shining directly on it.

Ms. Swenson spares a glance in our direction seeing us both working quietly before heading over. “Very nice, Arbie,” she states. I glance over at Arbie’s canvas and see that she has depicted the night sky filled with meteors. “Tell me, what thought spurred this idea,” she continues. Arbie’s painting is simply amazing. It resembles a photo.

“Well I heard on the news earlier that there’s going to be a meteor shower on Friday night, so I was thinking about that. I’m planning to sit on my roof and watch it. This is how I imagine it will look peeking between the tall trees around my house,” she says gesturing to the two slightly darker shapes on the sides that are indeed trees. I can make out the branches against the black of the night. Pleased with her new pupil, Ms. Swenson retreats and goes to check on the other students who are not being nearly as productive as the two of us.

“Is that really what you were thinking about?” I ask, seeing a flicker of dishonesty in her eyes.

“Not exactly. But it did pop into my head when I thought about painting anything but what was running through my mind when she asked us to paint our thoughts.”

“And what were you thinking about, if you don’t mind?” I ask.

“Oh no, mister Cullen. You definitely did not paint your thoughts on that canvas, at least not entirely what you were thinking about, so don’t even start asking me to tell you, when you weren’t entirely honest yourself.”

“Touché,” I reply. “I was actually thinking about inviting you to this meadow sometime. You’d love it, I’m sure. So in my thoughts, you were with me in the meadow, but I thought that would have been less than appropriate to be painting so I just stuck with the meadow itself.”

“I think it’s sweet and endearing actually. And I’d love to see this meadow sometime soon.” There she goes, saying anything but what I expect. So like Bella. “It would only be inappropriate if I were naked, or if something unsavory was occurring in said meadow. But it’s such a beautiful place, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to defile it with anything other than say… chaste kisses?” she states. Wow. I am completely dumbfounded. I’ve known this creature less than half a day, and already she’s talking about kisses. With me perhaps.

“Ah well. Yes. Kisses would be…ah… acceptable I suppose,” I reply, stumbling over my words for the first time in 40 years. “So do I get to know what you were actually thinking? Now that I told you?” I ask.

“I’m not so sure actually. What I was thinking was a lot more… ah… interesting than what you were thinking. I don’t think now is the time or place to discuss it. But I can tell you that we most certainly will.” Satisfied with her veiled promise to tell me later, I nod, smile lightly and turn back to my meadow painting. Esme will want this for her sun room I imagine. I wonder what Arbie will do with her painting.

The class ends uneventfully. We place our canvases in our newly assigned cubbies to dry overnight. Ms. Swenson informs us that tomorrow the class will vote on the top 5 that will be displayed at the school’s entrance in the glass case for two weeks then we may take them home. I already know mine and Arbie’s will make the list.

Making our way to Spanish, Arbie stops off at the ladies room. How often I forget about humans’ necessary bodily functions. I wait patiently outside the door, catching glances from several other girls as they pass in and out of the facilities. Many of them are trying to get my attention, wanting me to follow them in to the stall to do unsavory things with them. I nearly grimace in repulsion. The fact that any woman would gladly let a man defile her in a public restroom is simply astounding to me.

Arbie emerges at just the right moment, bringing me out of my despairing thoughts, thankful for once that I can’t hear her mind and know whether she was having thoughts along the same lines as some of the others. I can’t help but realize that if she had wanted that, I would have been definitely less repulsed, if at all. Now my mind is reeling with fantasies of the forbidden.

“Buenos días clase. Y bienvenidos al año nuevo,” señora Petersen greets us, welcoming us to the new school year. “Ah, veo que tenemos una estudiante nueva. ¿Dime, cómo te llamas?” she asks Arbie, speaking slowly, sure to pronounce every syllable and consonant, thinking about how much Arbie knows about Spanish if anything. The rest of the class is collectively thinking “oh crap” realizing they retained hardly nothing from the previous year’s Spanish class.

“Buenos días profesora. Me llamo Arbie Bentley. Estoy encantada en tomar este clase. Me encanta el español mas que el inglés, de verdad. Tengo ganas de aprender mucho sobre la lengua y la cultura hispánica,” she replies in perfect dialect and grammar, not bothering to hide her smirk. I smirk along with her. She and I are going to get alone swimmingly. Señora Petersen is blushing profusely, feeling put in her place by the one other student in this school that can clearly speak Spanish better than she can. The other student being me. She had yet to teach any of my siblings who are equally as adept at foreign languages as I am. Perhaps with the exception of Emmett who has never cared to learn any language, and barely speaks English correctly. The rest of the class is gawking at Arbie, many of which have either been in our previous classes, seen her in passing in the hallway, or heard the already spreading rumours of the tall bronze skinned goddess that enrolled in this school.

The teacher calls order to the class and has us work on introducing ourselves to each other, chastising any students she notices defaulting to English when they don’t know a word. Arbie and I are conversing with each other and others flawlessly. She is even trying to help the other students when they falter. Owen Downey especially did not retain anything, and is of course taking Arbie’s willingness to help as flirting and is now attempting to flirt with her. She reads into this and immediately turns cold. She turns his attentions elsewhere before I can even feel the pang of jealousy that I was sure was coming. Truly amazing creature, this Arbie.

We leave with an armful of homework, another quiz to show what we’ve retained, in addition to an “extra credit” translation assignment that was given to only Arbie and I. Señora Petersen’s thoughts indicated she was under the gun and needed to translate the document before the end of the week, but was getting hung up on some phrasing. She passed in onto us as extra credit as a scream for help. Arbie seemed eager to get ahead in anyway she could and took the assignment gratefully, also aware of the pleading look in the teacher’s eyes.

“Something tells me this wasn’t purely about extra credit,” Arbie whispers as we leave the room and head towards the history wing. I wonder if she can hear thoughts like me.

“I think you’re right. I glanced at the document. It seems a little more in depth than your run of the mill translation assignment,” I say, flashing the paper at her. She glances at hers, taking in the professional wording and nods in agreement. We make it to the history wing, her classroom is across the hall from mine. Jasper’s thoughts tell me he’s already in the room, waiting for her.

I hear this chick doesn’t have a scent, eh? Should be a relief for you and I alike. Alice says she can’t see you any more. Wonder what that’s about. If she’s half as cool as Alice says she is, then I’m sure I’ll get along great with her, he thinks to me. “I think Jasper’s already in class, I don’t see him anywhere in the hall,” I explain, looking around me as if trying to eye Jasper in the halls.. “Would you like me to introduce you to him or are you alright on your own?”

“I appreciate the chivalry Edward thank you. I’m fine though. I’m sure I can manage meeting your brother on my own,” she says somewhat condescending.

She’s feisty! Jasper thinks. I like that. I stifle an eye roll and depart from Arbie, walking across the hall. Just the short distance from her is painful. I sense the familiarity of this sensation. Very akin to what I felt with Bella, but deeper somehow. Could it be that I have finally found the love that Bella promised I’d find?

Settling into Asian Civ, I decide to hone in on Jasper’s thoughts as he meets Arbie for the first time.

“You must be Jasper,” she greets, seeing him sitting alone at the back of the classroom. He smiles and nods, gesturing for her to take the seat next to him. I know you’re listening Edward. She’s gorgeous. And I wish I could tell you that she likes you, but I can’t feel any of her emotions. Huh. You can’t hear her, Alice can’t see her, and I can’t feel her. How strange!

“Yep that’s me. I hear my brother’s been hogging you all day. Arbie, right?” she nods in response.

“I have all but this class with Edward I guess. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say someone tampered with the scheduling system.”

“Were that true, I’m sure I’d be stuck in Asian Civ, and he’d be in this chair instead of me. Unless of course he were trying to cover up the fact that he altered your schedules and make it appear as though it was a sheer coincidence.” I grimace as he jokingly incriminates me. I would have done that if I’d known I may find my other half in this school, but as it is, sheer coincidence is the actual truth in this case.

“Ah yes, your conniving little brother,” she says, stroking her chin mischievously. “However will I get back at him?” Their banter goes back and forth throughout the class as they both dutifully take notes on the teacher’s lecture. This particular teacher is known for getting really into lectures and is so passionate about the subject that he tends to throw chalk and spit when he talks, often hitting the first row of students. Hence why Jasper chose a seat in the back of the room.

Dude, she’s awesome, Jasper thinks to me. I’m gonna invite her to sit with us at lunch. Tap your foot three times if you don’t want me to. I remain still, allowing him to invite her. She accepts graciously, and asks if her brother Jeb can join, providing he hasn’t made any new friends yet, which she doubts. He’s as good looking as any of the Cullen brothers, without the whole supernatural predatory attraction we all carry. He’s probably gotten at least a handful of lunch date offers from any and or all of the girls in this school.

Earth to Edward Emmett thinks from behind me. I’d all but forgotten that I was in a different classroom across the hall. Alice says you’ve found a girl. Or rather that she found you. what’s she like? Seeing that the teacher is done with his boring lecture and has allowed us the last few minutes of class, I turn around to address him directly.

“Unlike anyone I’ve ever met,” I reply. His eyebrows hit the ceiling. His thoughts flicker to Bella’s face, and then flicker right back to the present, knowing how much I disliked it when the family would think about her too much around me. “I mean it. She’s similar to Bella in some ways, for instance I can’t hear her thoughts.” His eyebrows raise even higher somehow. “Alice can’t see her and Jasper can’t feel her either. She’s a marvel. An amazing creature. She’s beautiful, rivaling Rosalie, and I mean that in the nicest way possible,” I say before he can get mad at me for thinking anyone’s beauty comes anywhere near Rosalie’s. I already had my head smashed through a table when I insinuated that Bella was leagues more beautiful to me than Rosalie was. He took it the wrong way of course. Why would he want any man, brother or not lusting after his wife? “She’s smart, witty, feisty. She put Señora Rodriguez in her place earlier, speaking Spanish better than she does,” I say laughing at the memory of the teacher’s blushing cheeks when Arbie spewed perfect Spanish at her. “And she can paint beautifully, and if Jasper’s thoughts are any indication, she’s got a knack for history as well.”

“We’ll have to see how Rose likes her,” he replies. “You know how she is when humans try to befriend us. I won’t hold her back you know, but you know as well as I do that Rose doesn’t contain her disdain for human girls very well.”

“Something tells me that Arbie can hold her own against Rosalie. I don’t feel the need to protect her from everything and everyone like I always did Bella. Granted, I don’t want Rosalie or anyone to say anything unfriendly to her, but I don’t feel the need to step in or prevent such things from occurring. I’m not going to fuck it up this time, Em. I’m going to let her make her own decisions. Let her call the shots.” He shakes his head in disbelief at me.

“Who are you, and what have you done with my brother?” he asks, seriously, with no tone of joking whatsoever.

“She brings out a different person in me Em. I mean I’ve only known her a handful of hours, but I can already feel something change. I’m already better, I don’t feel regret, remorse, or even pain over Bella anymore. She’s taken all those feelings away just by being. And the fact that she doesn’t have a scent is a tremendous help.”

“What?!” he shouts. The class looks at us in shock, I shrug and they roll their eyes and go back to their meaningless prattle.

“Jeez Em. Take it down a notch, eh?” I say quietly. He leans in closely as if I’m about to tell him a huge secret. “She has no scent. Her brother, too. I wondered if it was just me, but Alice told me she couldn’t smell them either, and Jasper confirmed it. You know he would be able to smell them more strongly than any of us. It’s as if they’re not even human, but they clearly are.”

“Maybe they’re not. Maybe they’re wolves or something. Like the Quileute?”

“Unlikely. They wouldn’t be able to be in the same room as one of us without changing. Plus they would reek of wet mangy dog.”

“Huh,” he replied, echoing my thoughts on the matter exactly. “Carlisle sure will be interested in this.” I nod in agreement just as the bell tolls. “I heard Jazz invite her to lunch, so here goes nothing!” And out the door he went and waited across the hall for Jasper and Arbie to emerge. I stayed on my side of the hall, trying not to convey my excitement of seeing her with my own eyes again.

Out she walked full of beauty and grace, and stared up at Emmett, gaping at his mass. “You have got to be Emmett,” she says, taking in his hulking form. He smiles widely at her, flashing his dimply grin.

“Pleased ta meetcha,” he says, slaving it on a little thick in my opinion. She grasps his outstretched hand and once again doesn’t flinch at the cold. There must be something truly different about this girl. Either she knows what we are and is ignoring it or doesn’t care. Or something else is going on altogether. One way, I’ll have to find out. If not for the safety of my family’s secret then for my own curiosity’s sake.

“Lunch?” I question her, extending my elbow for her to take, in a chivalrous gesture. She smiles widely, switching her bag to the opposite shoulder and takes my arm gracefully. We saunter down the hall towards the cafeteria ignoring all the stares from everyone. They were all thinking along the lines of how it was that we found each other.

“Of course the prettiest girl in school lands Edward, the most gorgeous guy. Why wouldn’t that happen?” Robin Sharpe says under her breath, cynically. She harbored lust for me since the moment she laid eyes on me last year. I denied all her advances much like Arbie did Owen earlier.

In the lunch room, Alice and Rosalie are already seated at our usual table. Alice has filled Rosalie in on the situation, but Rosalie is glaring at me nonetheless. She thinks not again at me. to which I shake my head. No, I would not let the same thing happen twice. Not in the same way anyway. Like I told Emmett earlier, I will not fuck this up this time.

“What would you like?” I ask, gesturing at the array of repulsive human food before us. She wrinkles her nose in a very Bella like fashion.

“Don’t tell me you’re buying my lunch, too,” she says as she mindlessly grabs a few items and sticks them on her tray. She pays the cashier before I can even get my wallet out. Sticking her tongue out at me she walks towards the table. I follow guiltily behind her, realizing that while she enjoys some chivalry, clearly not all of it will be accepted graciously. Jeb catches her on the way to the table.

“Hey sis. Where are you sitting?” he asks.

“Oh, I got invited to sit with the Cullens,” she says nodding her head at our table. I’m still a few steps behind her.

“Okay cool. Ah, this Raven or Robin chick asked me to join her group, and I said yes but only if you hadn’t found someone to sit with. So cool… I’ll ah, see you at the car later,” he says sparing a glance my way. A flicker of knowing comes across his face. These two siblings are certainly very, very interesting to say the least. I catch up with her and follow with her to the table. She takes a seat next to Jasper, and I sit fluidly next to her. I glance in her eyes and notice she’s debating something.

“What’s on your mind?” I ask, trying to hide my desperation at knowing her thoughts.

“Oh nothing important,” she lies. She’s a much better liar than Bella, but I can tell all the same, though a human probably wouldn’t. She stabs a carrot with her fork and slowly sticks it into her mouth with a grimace. Pushing her tray away, she says, “That’s it. I’m carrying lunch with me from now on. This is positively repulsive.” She spits the half chewed carrot into her napkin and leaves it on the tray. Taking her carton of milk, she inspects it carefully before sipping, to make sure it isn’t spoiled. She downs it in seconds, wiping her mouth with her remaining napkin then rejoining the conversation.

“Okay, now that I’ve thoroughly grossed myself out with this awful concoction they masquerade as food, I’m Arbie,” she says to Rosalie, extending her hand in greeting. Rosalie flinches minutely, but takes her hand in a friendly gesture, smiling lightly, which turned out to be more of a grimace than anything.

“Rosalie Hale,” she replies. “Jasper’s twin.”

“Oh! Something we have in common. I have a twin brother as well,” she says as she points him out a few tables away. Rosalie glances briefly noticing the sibling resemblance and that her brother’s size nearly rivals Emmett’s. “That’s Jeb,” she clarifies.

“As in Jebadiah?” Emmett says, confused as to why anyone would legitimately name their child that.

“Ha! No,” she laughs in response. “Like me, he uses his initials as a nickname. J-E-B. Mine are A-R-B. but he gets that a lot. I call him Jebadiah all the time, which he hates, but I’m his sister and that’s my right.” No one has the guts to ask what her initials stand for. Including me. its as if we’re all waiting to hear that they have some horribly unfortunate name, even worse than Jebadiah.

Conversation flows effortlessly among all of us. We ask about Arbie’s likes and dislikes, informing her of ours as well. It turns out she and Jeb are both big baseball and football fans, which Emmett lights up at. He makes plans to invite Jeb and Arbie over to watch a game sometime soon. Even Rosalie is participating. Rosalie who I thought would hate Arbie just based on the fact that she’s human. But even her thoughts are sincere. She actually likes her. It’s almost as if Arbie has us all wrapped around her finger. Alice is considering taking her shopping, and Rosalie is busy wondering what kind of car she drives and if she can fix it up for her. Emmett wants to play football with her and Jasper wants to share his history books and knowledge with her. I’d told her in first period that I had a house full of people that would love to befriend her. Little did I know how true that was.

Before we knew it, lunch was over, and we were some of the last people left in the lunch room. We would have to hurry to make it to the gym on time. “Whose idea was it to put us in gym before choir? It seems so silly,” Arbie says to Rosalie and Alice who will also be taking gym and choir with us.

“Beats me. Clearly the admissions people are clueless or cruel. One of the two,” Rosalie replies. We part ways at the locker room. I have to work hard not to search for her through my sisters’ thoughts or the other students’. I don’t need to see anything she’s not yet willing to show me.

We are relieved to learn that we do not have to dress for gym for the first four weeks of school as we will be doing the dance lessons first. Everyone does a mental cheer including us as we can blend in the most easily with dancing. There is no sprinting or jumping involved in most dances, and humans will not have to see us accidentally run too fast or jump too high for a human.

Arbie works her magic to get partnered with me, claiming she’s self conscious about her height and I’m the only boy in the class taller than her that isn’t her brother or already partnered. Coach Perkovich takes her bait and allows her to partner with me. Apparently rumours of a blossoming romance between Arbie and I are already spreading among the student body and faculty. These rumours don’t bother me any, but I’m not sure how Arbie will feel about it.

The class begins with a basic box step. I learn quickly that Arbie is an adept dancer as well. We’re already two lessons ahead of the rest of the class to which Coach Perkovich is suddenly glad she paired us together. She likes when she can have student examples for each dance step. “Where did you learn to dance like this?” I ask, tightening my grip on her waist slightly. She leans in to me at my gesture. We twirl around the room completely oblivious to those around us. My siblings are lost in their own dance worlds as well.

“My moms want Jeb and I to have a well rounded knowledge of many things in the world. That’s why I’m also nearly fluent in Spanish, know my history, can paint, and do math well. They taught both of us from a very young age.”

“You’re incredible,” I whisper, thinking it’s too low for her to hear.

“Likewise,” she whispers back. “I know I’ve only known you a day, but I feel like we’re connected on some other level. Is that creepy?” she asks.

“Not at all,” I say, pulling her tight against me. If she doesn’t flinch at my cold hand grasping hers, then perhaps she won’t care that my entire body is as cold as my hands. Her body is so warm. Too soon the class ends and we make our way back to our respective locker rooms. I’m grateful that it won’t be but a few minutes before I am next to her again. I ache to have her in my arms like that all the time.

Choir passes without me getting to hear her voice. Hers is lost in the shuffle of the other voices. Mr. Lindstrom has run out of time for section placement, or I would have at least gotten to hear one scale come out of her perfect mouth.

We both stop at our lockers after class to collect all our assignments and text books we accumulated throughout the day. “Anymore text books in this damn thing, and I’m going to need to be making regular visits to a chiropractor,” she complains as she’s about to sling her back pack over her shoulder. I stop her arm mid swing and take the bag from her, carrying hers and mine effortlessly in one arm as we walk side by side to the parking lot.

I scan the lot for her brother, curious to see what kind of car she drives. When my eyes land on him, I stop dead in my tracks, dropping our book bags unceremoniously at my feet. Arbie notices my pause and stops her trek. “What’s wrong?” she asks.

“You drive a Bentley?” I reply, not taking my eyes off the car. She stifles a sigh.

“Yeah, my last name remember?” she states. I hadn’t made the connection yet.

“Your parents own Bentley?” I ask, dumbfounded.

“Major shareholders technically, but yeah. My parents tend to be a little ostentatious when it comes to selecting cars. You should see the collection we have at home, it’s pretty ridiculous,” she says as she bends down to collect our bags. “Where’s your car?” she asks. I point in the general direction of where I parked, sure that she’ll see one of my siblings waiting outside it. She gasps in surprise, a hint of anger in her intake of breath.

“You drive a bloody Porsche SUV and you’re commenting on my Bentley?”

“I didn’t mean anything by my comment,” I say. She raises an eyebrow at me. “It just caught me off guard. Most high school students don’t drive Bentleys, Arbie. You know that,” I add defensively.

“Most high school students don’t drive Porsches either,” she counters.

“Unfortunately, I don’t have the excuse of being a Porsche heir,” I reply, shooting her my crooked grin, hoping to take her mind off of matters of money in my family.

“Well, at least I won’t have to worry about you being a gold digger then, eh?” she winks. “I’ll see you tomorrow?” I nod at her just as she reaches up and kisses my cheek. The skin burns where her lips touched it long after she’s walked away. I’m still as frozen as I was when I noticed her car. She and Jeb exchange a brief silent conversation before getting in their ostentatious car and driving away. I’ll see her tomorrow, indeed.