Chapter 18

Two weeks had passed since the winter break and the rumor had started. Two weeks and only now had the rumor died down. Well, almost at least. It had taken a lot convincing from my part – although it really shouldn’t be that hard to believe that a guy like Edward wasn’t interested in a girl like me. I had almost literally had to knock some sense into Derek, trying to explain to him that it was nothing but a joke from Edward’s part.

I know I shouldn’t have been that bothered by a rumor that actually stated what I secretly wanted so badly, but somehow, it had made reality feel even worse. It made it even more painful to know that Edward didn’t and would never like me in that way.

Although the bronze haired vampire himself had seemed pretty cool under all of the attention – probably because he was used to it – the strangest thing about the whole situation was Alice’s reaction to it. Instead of her characteristic laughing it off, she actually seemed unnerved by it. However, when I had tried to question her, the pixy had kept her mouth (and thoughts) firmly shut.

As the whispering about my ‘relationship’ had died down, I noticed something else was going on as well. There were rumors about another new kid, one that had yet to arrive in Forks. Apparently, it was a she and she was the daughter of the police chief of Forks: Charlie Swan. You can imagine the fire truck red my face turned when I realized that that was the officer who’d brought me home one night. I could only hope he wouldn’t entertain his daughter with that story.

‘I heard she’s from Arizona!’ A fake blonde gushed as she put on some more mascara, saying it like it were the most fascinating thing in the world. Or like she was the first one to say it, for that matter. Really, gossip in Forks got old fast. Very fast. After the first five minutes of it, everything went on repeat.
‘I bet she’s a cheerleader!’ Her friend, a curly brunette, answered excitedly.

The blonde threw her hair behind her shoulders, apparently satisfied with the new, six layers of makeup she’d put on. ‘Yes well, I only hope she’s not like that red headed attention seeking new girl. I mean, I am sure she invented that rumor of her and Cullen herself. She’s not even pretty!’

I thought all of this was pretty rude. I mean, God knew that I loathed attention and if they would have cared even the tiniest bit to actually get to know me, they would have as well. I had never aimed for becoming the topic of the Forks High gossip machine. What was definitely worst, though, was that they were saying all of this while I was standing in the same room. So talking about rude.. I had just decided I was done listening in on their conversation when something the blonde said caught my attention.

‘.. daughter of chief Swan. Her name is Isabella.’

My head was swimming, floating again. I was still me, but then again, I wasn’t. I just was.. I was only half aware of the body that I inhabited, only half aware of the fact that I was part of the physical world. I felt more like a spirit, drifting to the world but never actually coming into contact with anything. Opening my eyes, I stared at the familiar white, empty room. Only it wasn’t. Because there was a man sitting in the far end corner, on the chair that usually was vacant. Sucking in a breathe, I noticed my throat was raspy and dry – probably by the lack of use – and something was irritating it. A hand – my hand – flew up to meet my face, only to come into contact with a small tube that was plastered onto my cheek, then successfully disappearing into my nose.

‘You’re awake,’ he said, making it sound both like a question and a conclusion. I hadn’t thought that was even possible.

I couldn’t help but stare at him, taking in his form. He was a tall man, with dark hair that lay on his head like some dead animal. His eyes, hidden behind large, round glasses, were a dark chocolate. They were focused on me and that fact alone seemed to unnerve me.

He stood from his chair. ‘I am guessing you don’t know who I am. I’m Dr. Hurst, your care giver.’

As he came closer, I sucked in my breathe, preparing for the worst. I wanted to close my eyes, but didn’t dare to leave him out of my sight. Pulling at the straps around the limps of the body – my body – I realized I couldn’t escape him.

‘Calm down, I am not going to hurt you. I simply need to perform some small tests.’ As his fingers grazed the skin of the back of my hand, I did something I nor he saw coming – though I was guessing that he as my so-called caregiver should have.

Irrational fear coursed through me, overwhelming me to the extent that I couldn’t breathe. My heart was pounding in my ears and I felt like throwing up. My body was shaking and was convulsing and wreaked havoc against its prisons. Heat threatened to suffocate me and I was sure I was going to die. This was what dying felt like. Far off in the distance I heard a voice, but I was drowning, struggling to keep the water out of my longs, while it told me to just breathe. Convulsions ripped through me and I felt like the waves were pulling me under again.
I was dying.

I sat up in bed, still breathing in deeply, the echo of a scream still bouncing against the walls. I shivered as the cold hit my warm body, the blankets having fallen off of me. Hugging my body together, I tried to keep myself from falling apart, the sensations still fresh in my mind and body. He was beside me in a minute, pulling me into his arms before I even had the time to blink. Although my body first responded with slight panic, it soon ebbed away and made room for an overwhelming calm, erasing all else. Sighing into my hair, he tightened his hold. ‘I was worried..’ His words lingered in the air, heavy with concern.

My alarm clock broke the moment and brought me back to reality. It was a Tuesday, which meant school. I wiggled myself out of Edward’s comforting arms – though I’d much rather stay there – and moved to the closet.

‘What happened to you?’

I shrugged ‘I had a nightmare, no biggies.’ Meaning: I didn’t want to talk about it.

’We have to talk about this, Dalia. This is important,’ he urged on.

‘So is school. And if you will not leave so I can get dressed, I will be late.’

He turned me around, forcing me to look into his imploring, caramel eyes. ‘I couldn’t hear your thoughts. Your body was there, but it was like your mind was gone.’

I didn’t want to think about how real it had all seemed, about how real I had seemed. ‘It was a nightmare, okay? Now, please, I need to get dressed.’

He gave me one last, stern look. ’We will talk about it.′

I ignored the shivers his words gave me, instead moved to the bathroom with my set of clothes, determined not to think of anything nightmare related. I knew that if I would, I would never go to school.

I had managed to escape Edward’s interrogation during the ride to school, filling up the silence with useless banter about how he looked like Mr. Darcy when he frowned so much and that sort of trivial things. I knew he knew I was doing this, too, but I was glad he didn’t press on the matter, obviously aware that whatever it had been, I was still too shaken to talk about it. Now, as I was walking to lunch with Alice and Jasper, I already dreaded what was coming. Although he had given me a free pass this morning, I knew Edward would not just let it go. And even I, who wanted nothing more than to escape talking about the nightmare, knew it was important.

‘You’re going to be okay, Jazz,’ Alice said softly, squeezing his hand reassuringly. Apparently, as Edward had filled me in that morning in between my comments on his likeness to a fictional character and the weather, Jasper had not hunted in two weeks to test his self-control. Although I knew he would not go for me since my blood had no appeal to them, I hoped the Cullens knew what they were doing.

As we entered the cafeteria, we were not met with the usual staring. Some heads turned when we walked through the double doors, but they immediately went back to their food as they recognized us. Almost.. disappointed? I mean, you didn’t hear me complaining about not being gawked at, but something was definitely going on.

Taking my seat next to Edward – the only one left vacant, how convenient – I waited for him to start the cross examination.

Only he never did. Instead, he just gave me a curt smile, silently letting me know that he would save if for a more private moment. I appreciated that part of him.

I dug into my lunch, ignoring the silent conversation Alice and Edward were having – of which I had no doubt he thought they were being very inconspicuous. I snorted. As if. Every idiot could see what they were doing.

I noticed how they both tensed up as two girls stopped next to our table, clearly unaware of the honey blond vampire who was ready to rip their throats out.

‘Sorry,’ Jasper suddenly said, apologetically, and I guessed he knew what the others were so uptight about. Not that he should be sorry, because he really couldn’t help his weakness to blood.

‘You weren’t going to do anything. I could see that,’ Alice assured her better half, though I knew she was lying. What else could have made them so high-strung? She continued to say something, but it was so fast that I couldn’t understand a word of it.

‘I know who she is,’ the honey blonde retorted, making clear that the conversation was over, and turned his head to the window. I could understand his annoyance, both with himself for not having self-control as with the others for treating him like this. Like a child.

Alice then left the table, apparently also picking up that he needed some time. Taking her food tray with her, she practically danced towards the garbage bin and threw the nutrients away. Then, she continued to dance out of the cafeteria.

Returning my gaze towards our table after a long, envious stare after the small pixy, I realized that I had missed something. Though Jasper was still staring out of the window – and Emmett and Rosalie were still doing God knows what – Edward’s head was now turned to look somewhere behind him, a frown evident on his face.

Following his gaze, I arrived at a pale, heart-shaped face with dark, cascading hair. Her big, brown doe eyes were emerged in a staring context with the bronze haired vampire, though soon she blushed and broke away. All of this, though, wouldn’t be so shocking if I hadn’t immediately recognized her face, even though I had never seen her before. It was Bella Swan. The new girl from Arizona. The daughter of the chief of police.

‘Jessica Stanley is giving the new Swan girl all the dirty laundry on the Cullen clan,’ Edward informed us absentmindedly, the ghost of a smile on his face. As if he had been about to chuckle, but had gotten distracted.

Emmett, in his stead, did chuckle. ‘I hope she’s making it good.’
Now his brother smiled, too, though he tried to keep a straight face, a tone of indifference to his voice. ‘Rather unimaginative, actually. Just the barest hint of scandal. Not an ounce of horror. I’m a little disappointed.’

‘What about Bella,’ I asked, more interested than I wanted to be. ‘What does she think of you guys?’

Edward’s face turned pensive again and I could easily imagine him skimming through her thoughts for something amusing. But after a few seconds the frown on his face grew until at last, he turned into her direction once more. Although this perked my interest, I decided it was best not to interrupt him. After all, nothing worse than an annoyed vampire.

For what seemed like eternity – but probably were no more than a few minutes – he stared at her, Bella Swan, and I couldn’t explain the bad feeling that was pooling in my stomach. A feeling of foreboding.

‘Shall we?’ Rosalie’s perfect voice broke the silence and I couldn’t explain why that made me so happy.

Pushing my chair back, I looked at Edward expectantly. Wanting him to talk to me, to say.. anything. But he didn’t.

‘So, is the new one afraid of us yet?’ Emmett, half-joking, half-serious, asked.

Edward, still frowning, shrugged. The feeling of foreboding strengthened and I knew nothing would ever be the same again.

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