I parked in my usual spot, only instead of my rusted-out Chevy it was Edward's Volvo, then locked her up and set the alarm. She loved me. The feeling was mutual.
And of course Jessica was waiting for me. She looked like she was trying to hide again, but when she saw I was alone, she bolted right for me.
"Where's Edward today?"
Crap. Why hadn't I given thought to what excuse I would give? She – others too, maybe – would certainly question why he wasn't dropping me off or picking me up.
"He had… an appointment today."
Lying sucks. Or at least me trying to did.
"What kind of appointment?"
Doctor's appointment wouldn't work. His dad was a doctor. Dentist? Maybe, but they wouldn't be open that early in the morning, and the visit wouldn't last all day so that he couldn't pick me up.
I decided to skirt it. "I didn't ask."
She, of course, continued to follow me. I was seriously starting to wonder why she cared so much. Edward didn't answer me when I had asked before. He just gave contradicting comments, and then he dropped it. Or I did. Maybe if I hadn't, he would have told me.
"Why not? Boyfriends and girlfriends tell each other stuff like that. You guys are boyfriend and girlfriend, right?"
We were, at least as far as I was concerned, but I wasn't about to tell her that.
"I've only known him seven days, Jess." That wasn't a lie. It was an implication. Let her draw her own conclusions.
"Has he asked you to be?"
Or maybe not. She jumped to conclusions all the time. Why couldn't she do it now and leave me alone?
I stopped dead in my tracks. I was just tired of it. It had to end.
Jessica took several steps from the momentum she had gained before turning to face me. She almost looked confused.
"Why do you care, Jess? What business is it of yours, what their medical history is, what kind of house they have, furnishings, money, my friendship with Edward?"
She looked affronted, but she also looked a little pissed.
"Friends share with each other, Bella. I thought that was what we were!"
I didn't even respond. I just shook my head, scoffed, then started walking again. Surprisingly, she didn't try to follow me.
Since I knew she didn't actually care for me – Edward had told me that much about her thoughts – I knew what she had just spewed was a lie. I was done playing games. Tired of pretending. Sick of the pretenses. She wasn't my friend, and I wasn't hers.
I fumed all the way to history class. I didn't even smile at Angela. I just slammed my backpack onto the floor and dropped angrily into my seat.
"No," I answered.
"Want to talk about it?"
"Jess." That was all I said. That was all I had to say. Angela would know what I meant by that.
"I'm sorry. Want me to talk to her?"
My anger eased a little. Angela sure was a good friend. "No, that's okay. No point in her hating both of us."
"That bad?" she asked. She sounded worried.
"I think it might be. I a little bit told her off."
I had to laugh at that. "Yeah," I agreed.
The sound and vibration of my cell phone going off literally caused me to jump in my seat. I seriously expected it to be Jessica. I almost didn't even look at it because I was that sure it was. I was glad I didn't ignore it.
'My dearest Bella,
Please let me know that you have arrived safely at school. Alice says you have, but I would like to hear this from you. I miss you.
Instantly, my bad mood was obliterated. My heart soared.
Yeah, I'm here. Had words with Jessica. I think whatever kind of dysfunctional friendship we had is over now. I miss you, too.
I signed off in the same way he had. It seemed the safest option. If I had chosen words that somehow implied a less sincere sentiment, it might have hurt his feelings. If I implied more, like I would have if I had said 'love'… Well, we hadn't even said that to each other in person yet. I didn't want the first time we did to be in a text message. Usually, I didn't sign off at all in messages. Rarely even in email. It's not like people didn't know who I was. But his message was formatted so formally, I felt weird not copying it.
Edward was even prim and proper while texting. It made me smile.
"You seem to be in a better mood," Angela mentioned.
I gave my cell phone – which was now in my lap and out of the teacher's sight – a little waggle. "Edward," I said.
She mouthed the word 'ah', then faced forward again, allowing me my privacy.
Please, don't give Jessica a second thought. She is ridiculous and mean spirited. Your class will start soon. Will your teacher be cross with you for speaking with me?
Yeah, probably. But I didn't want to stop talking to him. But I also didn't want my cell to be confiscated. I quick and turned the volume off on my incoming messages, then disabled the keypad sounds. The 'beep, beep, beep' as I composed responding messages would be a dead giveaway to everyone in the room once it fell silent.
If I'm careful, I won't get in any trouble. The thing is, I just don't get why Jessica cares so much. She's always been a gossip, but this seems to go beyond that. It's like she's fishing for something else. She doesn't suspect you're a… Does she?
Seconds after I hit 'send', the bell rang. I kept my phone just beneath the line of my desk, still in my lap, and pretended to give the teacher my full attention. The screen lighting up was the only indicator of a new incoming message, so I glanced down often. Angela noticed. I knew she had, because she kept shifting her eyes to the side, watching me.
When the teacher's back was turned, she whispered, "Be careful."
I gave a subtle nod.
She does not suspect. Please, put her out of your mind. When the time comes, I will deal with her.
Huh? What was that supposed to mean?
Deal with her how? I don't understand.
The nudge against my shoulder startled me. At first, I thought that I had been caught, and that Angela was warning me. But no.
"Page ninety-eight." She mouthed the words inaudibly, then she gave her own textbook a pointed glance.
Oh! The teacher wanted us to read!
That actually worked out well for me. I yanked my book from my backpack, found the page, then pulled it to the edge of my desk. To anyone looking, it just seemed that I was reading. I turned the page whenever Angela turned hers.
You needn't worry. I should warn you. Alice is planning a welcome home party for you tonight. If this makes you uncomfortable, I will stop her.
A welcome home party? Weird. Any kind of party thrown in my honor was a bad thing – added attention and all that – but, that aside… It wasn't my home I was going to. It was theirs. I was just their guest.
I'm not big on parties, but it would probably hurt Alice's feelings if you stopped her. Let her throw it. It's fine. Busted. Can't talk. Don't respond.'
I quickly clicked 'send', then hid my phone between my legs as the teacher stood in front of my desk and glared down on me. Angela had nudged me, thankfully, but it had been too late. Mr. Jefferson held his hand out towards me.
"What?" I asked. I tried to sound innocent, but failed. I had guilt written all over my face.
"I know it's a non-work day, Miss Swan, but texting in class is still not allowed."
His hand remained extended.
"I wasn't texting," I lied.
He pulled his fingers towards himself three times in rapid succession. "You can have your phone back after class."
Crap. Reluctantly, I surrendered it. When the teacher walked away, Angela shot me an apologetic look. I just shook my head, dismissing its necessity. Then I gave the pages in front of me my actual attention.
Thirty minutes later, and my cell phone was back in my possession, after receiving a smirk from Mr. Jefferson. Everyone seemed to be finding me amusing lately.
"I'm really sorry I didn't catch it sooner, Bella," Angela apologized.
"It's not your fault," I muttered as I clicked my way into text mode. "Thanks for giving me the head's up. I was at least able to warn him."
"He's a fast typist," she mentioned. I stiffened. "It seemed you had barely sent one off and you were getting a response."
"He's a pianist," I said. That wasn't a lie. "Fast fingers."
She laughed. "I guess so."
I was too busy composing a message to really engage her in conversation. Or to walk properly. I tripped over my own feet, but luckily, Angela held out a stable hand so that I wouldn't fall flat on my face.
She laughed again.
Sorry about that. The teacher caught me. He took my phone away for the remainder of the period. We should probably just wait until lunch to talk. The next teacher might take it for the day.
"Multi-tasking… not such a good thing for me," I said to Angela, after I had hit 'send'. "That's why I never chew gum. I have to walk eventually."
She laughed hard at that. It made me smile. She really was good for my ego. Not everyone got my sense of humor. Too dry or subtle, maybe.
"You want me to sit with you at lunch?" she asked. "Or do you need alone time again?"
"I'll be in the cafeteria, but I'm not sure I'll be much company." Just then I got Edward's responding text message. I waggled my phone again as my point.
"He must be a really good pianist," she said with a smirk. "We'll talk between texts, if there is any time between."
We both lingered by the door, just outside of our Math class. "I would like the company." And I would have to tell Edward to time the texts better.
"It's a date." She laughed, then walked into the room.
I waited to join her. We didn't sit together anyway.
I was concerned that your teacher would be cross. We will wait until your lunch period to speak again. I will miss you until then.
I didn't want to wait that long to talk to him again. Even though it was only words on a screen, I felt the connection to him, and I didn't want to give that up.
I'll text you again before Spanish starts, just to say hello. Feel free to read or listen to music to pass the time.
I quick and tucked my phone into my pocket, then entered class, right as the bell rang. Mr. Varner glared a little as I walked to my seat.
Yeah, no way was I chancing texting in Math. The teacher looked none-too-pleased with me already.
I had to leave building two to get to Spanish class, which was the other class besides Gym, Biology, and English I didn't have with Angela. Her Gym and Biology classes were flipped, and she decided on French over Spanish. Because of that, she had third period English and sixth period French.
Since it was a sunny day, I figured I would be able to walk across the quad and text at the same time without slipping. Not so much.
I'm on my way to Spanish class now. Are you keeping busy? I know you said you don't watch TV much, but you can if you…'
Splat. My feet really did hate me. I'm surprised I didn't break my phone. It wouldn't have been the first time. Or the second. I was on my third phone already, in less than that many years. Charlie told me he wasn't going to buy me anymore, but he did opt for the added insurance. Did that cover stupid face-plants?
I picked myself up, ignored the kids laughing at me, and moved on towards building one.
'…want to. And I just fell flat on my face. I think I must be the clumsiest person on the planet.
I was going to be late, so I picked up my pace… a little easier to do since my nose wasn't buried in my phone.
Love, are you hurt? I will find a way to go to the school.
Love? Was that a term of endearment? If I was hurt, I couldn't feel it. The adrenalin from seeing that dwarfed everything.
No, I'm fine. It happens to me frequently. Just my pride is stinging a little. People laughed at me. That also happens frequently. Don't risk coming here, please. I'm okay. Your term of endearment just made my day, BTW.
Seconds after I clicked 'send', I wondered if I had made a mistake. Acknowledging the love word, I mean. Maybe he did it without thinking. Maybe it would embarrass him that I mentioned it.
Or maybe it wouldn't.
I am so relieved that you are not injured. I will stay at your house, per your request. Please be careful, love. You're so frail. I'm pleased I could make your day, but what does BTW mean?
Oh. Yeah. He wouldn't necessarily know chat-speak. And he called me 'love' again!
Last message or I'll be late. BTW = by the way. It's chat-speak. I'll explain in more detail later. I need to come up with a term of endearment for you now!
I shoved my phone in my pocket and rushed into the classroom. My butt hit the seat right as the bell rang. No glare at all from Mrs. Goff. Good thing, too. She always made us speak Spanish when talking to her, and I didn't know how to say: Sorry for being late. I face-planted on my way here.
Non-lesson days were easy. Mrs. Goff just asked us to read through our graded assignment from last week and correct all the mistakes we had made. No problem. I only missed two. I was done in three minutes, then I spent the rest of the time trying to come up with a term of endearment I could call Edward.
Not as easy as it sounded. He didn't seem like a 'honey', or a 'sweetie', or a 'baby'. Calling him 'love' wouldn't work, because apparently, that was my name.
Nothing seemed fitting. He had a certain presence about him… a name other than Edward just didn't seem appropriate. I couldn't even fathom how I had once considered that he might like to go by Ed or Eddie.
The bell rang, and my heart soared. A full forty-five minutes of texting Edward! Or maybe we could talk. But, no, I already told Angela I would sit with her. We wouldn't be able to talk as freely as we could if we texted. She wouldn't even think of reading over my shoulder or anything.
I'm on my way to the cafeteria now. As soon as I get my lunch and get seated, I'll text again. Feel free to respond.
I raced through the double doors and headed straight for Angela. She was already in line. Three people from the front of it, actually.
"Jess asked me to sit with her," Angela said in a near whisper. "I told her I was already sitting with you. She didn't seem too happy about that."
Guilt stabbed at me. "I'm sorry you got stuck in the middle."
She shrugged. "I've been your friend for longer, and I don't think she really likes anyone besides herself. It was an easy choice."
I had to smile. I had always appreciated Angela's friendship, but in light of what Edward had said about her, and now with the solidarity she was showing me, it made me value her on a whole new level.
"I don't think she'll bother you today," she continued. "She went outside to go soak up some sun."
A quick glance confirmed that she, indeed, wasn't in the cafeteria. I gave a nod, then selected my cheese sandwich from under the glass as we moved up in line. I doubted I would eat much of it. It wasn't much of a sandwich, really. Soggy white bread, American cheese, mayonnaise, and mustard on the side if one was so inclined to add it. I usually wasn't. I also grabbed a juice and an apple. I would probably drink and eat those.
We made our way to the back, to the very table Edward and I sat at the day before.
As soon as I was settled, I yanked my phone from my pocket.
"Tell Mr. Speedy Piano Fingers I said hi."
I laughed as I nodded.
And then my heart soared again. Edward had already responded.
What are you eating for lunch this afternoon?
Something that would make Esme cringe, no doubt.
A soggy cheese sandwich and an apple. Most of the sandwich will probably end up in the trash. Angela says hi. Oh, and you're responding to my texts too fast. She noticed how fast they're coming in. Slow down a bit. Use my messages as a guide. Match the timing.
I took three bites of the sandwich before the next message came in. That was all I could stomach of it, anyway. And during those two and a half minutes, Angela shared her classmate's faux pas in French class the day before. Apparently, he meant to say something about running, but it came out as 'short hair' instead. She laughed hysterically over that. I guessed it was something you would have to be there for.
I want you to know that I am scowling. I tell you this because you cannot see me when we speak in this manner. Your lunch is inadequate. Did you forget the muffin that you sealed inside the zippy bag? Please respond to Angela in kind.
The muffin! I quick and grabbed my backpack, then pulled it out and set it on the table before responding.
Thanks for reminding me! And stop scowling! I won't go hungry, promise. No one in their right mind would eat this crap, especially after eating your mom's cooking! Are you bored to non-tears yet?
I immediately unzipped the muffin bag and pulled off a chunk. "Edward says hi right back," I told Angela.
She smiled. A genuine smile of approval. "Muffin?" she asked.
I didn't respond with words. I just pinched off a piece and handed it over to her. It was even better than I remembered. Angela obviously agreed.
"Oh my God, Bella, you've been holding out on me! I'd like to order a dozen of these, please!"
I would have laughed if my mouth hadn't been full. "I didn't make it," I mumbled around chewing. "Edward's mom did. She spoils me."
"She should open a bakery! She could make nothing but these and still make a fortune!"
I nodded, then gestured for her to help herself. There was more than enough to share. The soggy cheese sandwich had seen its last bite. Next stop, the garbage can.
I do not take the issue of your health lightly. Please take care to ensure you eat properly. Tomorrow, Esme will prepare you a suitable lunch, and I will deliver it to you at school. No, I am not bored. I'm conversing with you.
There was only one bite left of the muffin, so I offered it to Angela, then I brushed the crumbs off my hands before responding.
Will we be meeting in the forest, or in the cafeteria? I'm glad you're not bored. I'm even gladder that I'm the reason why you're not. I ate the muffin, shared with Angela, and now I'll eat the apple. Okay? Don't worry about me so much. I've managed to stay alive this long, right? Oh, and Angela would like your mom to open a bakery.
"I've never seen you this happy before, Bella. Edward is good for you."
I grinned. "I really like him, Angela. I know we haven't known each other long, but I really do."
"Some people just click," she said supportively. "You two obviously have."
That was exactly what it was like. We had clicked.
"I think you're right. I'm glad you don't think I'm crazy. It feels good to talk about it."
"You're not crazy. You're in love."
That shocked me. I knew I was, but was I that obvious? "Same thing, some say."
She laughed, but the smile that accompanied it faded. "Then I wish I was a little crazy right now. Eric still hasn't asked me to the prom. I'm starting to think he's not going to."
"You should ask him," I suggested. "You're a strong woman, Angela. Take charge."
Her smile returned just a little. "Yeah?"
I nodded. "Strongest woman I know. I've seen the way he looks at you. He'll say yes, I'm sure of it."
And I was. I had often wondered why they didn't just take the shot and get together already.
I gave a nod, but then my cell phone's screen lit up, and my eyes shifted to it instantly. She laughed as she gestured for me to go ahead.
I will know better tomorrow, whether we will be meeting one place or the other. Yes, you have kept yourself alive, but I wonder how at times. It frightens me how frail you are. I will pass Angela's compliment along to Esme. She will be pleased. Eat your apple.
How did he know I hadn't eaten my apple yet? That thought shifted to the side of my brain as I gave thought to the rest of what he had said. He was, essentially, scared of losing me. My frailty made me vulnerable to so many possible deaths, and my proneness to injury only added to that. I would never have to worry about him. He was nearly indestructible. But he would probably always worry about me. I could only imagine how hard that must be for him. I knew it would be torture for me, if the tables were turned.
I'm sorry my frailty scares you. Please, try not to let it. I know, easier said than done. Just try, though. Okay? And how do you know I haven't eaten my apple?
"You look worried. Everything okay?"
"Hmm?" I snapped out of my daze, then forced a smile for Angela's benefit. "Oh, yeah, everything's fine."
That wasn't exactly true, but I knew it would be, in time. And explaining would be difficult at best. At worst, it would be a major problem. Angela couldn't know that much. It had felt good to share with her, but I still needed to be cautious.
Yes, easier said than done. I know you have not eaten your apple, because you take longer to respond when your hands are otherwise engaged. Eat. Your lunch period is almost over.
I clicked out of text mode to check the time, and sure enough, I had only minutes left. I power-mowed through my apple before texting him back.
Apple has been successfully eaten. Last message. I can't be late for class. Mr. Molina is usually lenient, but he won't be today, because of state testing. I'll text you before I leave for home. I can't wait to see you.
"You go to the library today, right? Because of testing? Instead of the gym?"
Angela nodded. "I'll walk with you. We better get going."
She had apparently realized the time as well.
Thank you. For everything you said in your message, and for everything that you are. I will be counting the minutes until I see you again.
I almost tripped over my own feet again, reading that, as Angela and I walked briskly towards building three. He changed the sign off. Not by much, but the meaning was clear. Forever. And since 'forever' was a very real probability for him, it meant even more.
"You're not chewing gum."
Her joke brought me out of my thoughts, though my 'struck stupid' expression remained.
"I think we might be in love," I confessed, then I just stared at her, watching. She would think I was crazy now for sure.
Or maybe not. Her smile grew impossibly wide, and then she threw her arms around me and hugged me. Tight.
"I get to be the Maid of Honor, right?"
Whoa! Yeah, whenever I did get married, of course she would be. But, whoa!
"Angela… yes, but wait. We're talking years from now."
She just pulled back, grinned, then announced, "We can't be late. Don't worry. My lips are sealed."
Before I could say anything else, she skipped off towards the library.
To be continued…
Again, no safety net. My beta has been sixteen kinds of busy. Hope the mistakes are minimal.
I would like to take a second to answer a few questions posed to me…
OOC = Out Of Character – AU = Alternative Universe – 'Canon' means it follows the world as it was originally created. For example: Vampire Edward is canon, human Edward is not.
What I mean when I say that my fic has a lot of canon elements thrown in, just in different ways, is… I take certain moments from the books and/or movies, but insert them under different circumstances.
The Cullens aren't keeping their kids out of school in order to hide them. The kids have been through school several times, and just don't care to go through it again.
Why Carlisle offers to have Bella stay with them is explained later in the story.
Got a question… would people be interested in having chapters posted daily? Or would that be too much story too fast? I just have a scene or two left to write, and then I'm done with the epilogue, so, really, there's no reason why I can't start posting daily. Unless that would overwhelm people.
Let me know, 'kay? Majority rules.
Thank you to all who took the time to review! I very much appreciate it!