No one talked for a moment while we assimilated the meaning of what Billy had just said. I was stunned into silence; my mind struggled to find a reasonable explanation for what was going on. Jake's confusion gave way to incredulity almost at the same time as Harry looked inadequate. He'd drank his water and now he wanted out; He knew this was a private conversation. Since no one spoke, he saw an opening to leave.
"I'm going to head out, Billy." He nodded in our direction as a good bye. The tension grew as we heard his heavy steps on the gravel slowly fading away. Jake got up from the couch and stood beside me, partially leaning on the back of the couch.
Billy looked at me first, expecting a reaction. I decided that it was best to understand his reasons before entering an argument, I didn't need to get aggravated in advanced. Jacob on the other hand, was already irritated. I knew why. Regardless of Billy's reasons, Jake knew they had to do with the tribe's matters. Whenever something happened that pertained to the tribe, Billy and Jake stood on different grounds. Billy was all about tradition and repeating patterns. Jake believed the chief elders took too many liberties ruling people's lives. It was natural then for Billy to demand more involvement from his son as successor of the Black family line in council and for Jake to rebel at the mere mention of entailed responsibility. And surely, on this stance Jake would make any argument that involved me about him. I disliked their disagreements, so my best resource was to keep Jake out of it.
"Why the sudden change, Billy?" my voice was light in an attempt to take the seriousness out of the situation. Although it seemed strange to me since he'd been the one adamant on having me study at Forks in the first place. Fortunately, Billy recognized my efforts by answering with the same intonation. Though I was certain he was masking the depth of his resoluteness, for Jake's sake.
"I just don't think that Forks High is the right school for you anymore. Some things have changed and we have to adjust to those changes accordingly." He was humoring me as Jake's tension was growing. He was just waiting for an excuse to snap at his father. I needed to speed things along.
"Are you referring to the family that moved into town?" If it was about the Cullens, I wanted to know now. His expression darkened and it was difficult for him to maintain a lighthearted tone.
"Yes. The Cullen family," I did not miss his inadvertent emphasis on the last word. "They are not the kind of people I want my children around of. So I think it's best if you go to school in the Reservation." That wasn't an explanation.
"Why is their company so undesirable?" Billy's expression was slowly losing its equanimity, he was turning obstinate. I was so aware of Jake's mood that I could almost hear him shouting in his head at his father.
"Unfortunately, Bella, that is not something I am in liberty to share." I recoiled slightly at the clear separation he'd made. He sometimes did that, I wasn't a Quileute and certain things didn't apply to me. Jake snapped.
"That's just great, dad!" he raised his voice. "It totally makes sense that you're pulling her out of school in the middle of the school year and you're not even telling her why. Who cares if she has to start all over again?" Billy was used to Jake's theatrics so he dealt with him with aplomb. "Forget about her life, her friends." he enlisted bitterly. I had thought of all of those things myself, but my concern over those matters felt short compared to my wonderment about the Cullens and the chaos that their presence was causing. And they had only been here for a day. Billy interrupted his son's rant.
"Jake, there's no need to make such a fuss. Bella is a bright girl, she can easily keep up with the program and as far as friends go, she'll have you there! Weren't you complaining for months because you wanted her to be in your school?" Even if he had wanted it, he would deny it in the middle of an argument just to thwart his father's resolution.
"I'm not her only friend dad! Her world doesn't revolve around the Reservation! She has the right to get out and meet other people. She shouldn't have to be surrounded by us all the time." I folded my arms across my chest. The focus of the argument was shifting.
"Why not? We are her family and family stays together." He stated solemnly. I could not fathom what he meant. "When something threatens your family-" Jake straightened up at that, he was no longer leaning on the back of the couch with me. He was quite imposing when he was angry, many would back out from his sheer size alone.
"Threatens? They didn't do anything! You're just prejudiced against them because of some stupid stories." And that was when any remnant restraint left Billy. Even I knew he'd gone too far.
"You will not speak to me like that, Jacob." He wasn't precisely yelling, but his anger was so plainly written in his face that Jake reluctantly returned to his place beside me. He knew he'd messed up so he crossed his arms across his chest and listened respectfully to his father. "If you disagree with the way I see the world is one thing, but you will not speak like that of the tribe's heritage. I will not have it." Jake's anger receded slightly, but he was stubborn, he couldn't keep his annoyance out of his apology.
"Sorry, dad. I didn't mean what I said." I saw his jaw tightening. He'd meant every word. I looked from Jake to Billy and noticed he wasn't looking at us anymore. One word kept bouncing on my head: threat. Billy took a moment to calm himself down, if he continued the argument we would never get to anything. While he looked down, I put a hand on Jake's forearm, he knew what I was asking and he began to calm down, an apologetic look on his face. I dropped my hand before Billy saw.
"Now, Bella, do we agree that it is best for you to switch schools?" I was usually compliant, but I refused to believe I was entirely submissive.
"I'm sorry Billy, but no. I don't think there is any need for me to leave the school." Billy looked displeased and Jake kept his head low to hide his arrogant grin. He loved it when I disagreed with his dad; it was uncommon enough that he enjoyed it when he could.
"But Bella," Billy began, his tone radically different. To me he was fatherly and pleading.
"I understand that you consider that the new students pose a threat to my safety." The fact that I agreed with his groundless accusation was implicit for his benefit. "But there is no need for me to have anything to do with them. I don't think it necessary for me to rearrange my life for their benefit, unless you fear that they will be overtly aggressive with me." If that was his suspicion he would have to enlighten me further. I was hoping he would.
"No, I don't believe they would deliberately harm you." He reluctantly admitted.
"Then I think we can coexist without trouble. Like Jake said, I wouldn't really appreciate the change at this point in the school year. We're about to start final projects and I already have assigned partners. And as you already know, I'm tutoring Angela in Biology. I wouldn't want to leave all of those people hanging if I can help it." Reasoning with adults was far more efficient than Jake's approach. Throwing in their faces that you were responsible worked too. "But if you think that it is still not satisfactory, Billy, I will do as you say." Billy gauged my expression. I was firm but obedient. I was also bluffing but he didn't need to know that. Jake did know, though, he'd taught me how to bluff.
"When you put it that way," he paused and looked down, his certainty had faltered slightly "Are you sure you will be able to stay away from them?"
"Yes. They ignore everyone for the most part, so it shouldn't be too difficult." I knew very well how to dabble between truth and lies. It was simply a part of my life, and it was a skill that I sometimes was able to use to my advantage. Not that I enjoyed it. Billy took his time to ponder my offer. I was already planning what I would do if he asked me to switch schools. Not that I would be happier in Forks but at least over there I didn't stand out as much. It surprised me to find that there was some resistance on my part. I would prefer to stay where I was.
"All right. But if they ever approach you, or if they ever say anything to you, we will have to make some changes." I nodded, looking stern and judicious. Jake knew that look as well and he looked like he wanted to roll his eyes. "I'm tired, kids. I think I'm going to lay down for a moment." said Billy, all the emotion had drained him. If he'd been as passionate here I wondered how the council had been. Jake didn't make a move to help his dad so Billy wheeled himself to the other room. The door hadn't even closed and Jake was already giving me an inquisitive look.
Shut up, I mouthed, and nodded to the front door. It would be better if we didn't talk about this here.
"You are so full of it!" He said loudly once we were away from the house. "And you're a kiss ass, too!" We followed a dirt path towards a small self-service store that was right next to the only gas station in the reservation. We always got snacks there after school when we wanted to talk away from Billy.
"Desperate times..." I trailed off;, he knew the rest of the expression. "Besides, it was way better than throwing a fit." I said with a little smile that he responded to with a glare.
"That's how you're supposed to react. Remember, Bella? We're seventeen, not forty." This could easily turn into one of his normalizing lectures. I wasn't in the mood.
"That's what they expect, Jake. As you may have noticed your dad didn't have difficulties getting pissed. You're supposed to reason with them to get your way." He shook his head.
"I don't have it in me to reason with Billy. Not when he's being so..." he never actually insulted his father. I liked that about Jake. It didn't matter how angry he was; He respected him too much for that. That was the one thing that always made me certain that things would get better, Jake would never do anything to hurt his dad. It was also why I worried about Jake, he would have a really hard time when it came to deciding what he wanted to do with his life. He would either take his place in the community, or refuse and hurt his father badly. And if he hurt Billy, he would hurt himself. I'd often thought of a way out of that, but I never found anything.
"What's his problem anyway? Why is he hating on the new kids?" It made no rational sense. They couldn't have done anything in a day's time to arouse such a reaction from Billy and I assumed the others. But they had just moved, hadn't they? What did he mean earlier when he mentioned the stupid stories? Jake shook his head in disbelief.
"Because of some stories from the tribe. The Cullen's have actually lived in the neighboring lands before. But it was a long time ago. My guess is that they had some issues with the tribe way back, but it's been so long that everyone forgot what the whole argument was about. And since they don't remember anymore but they still hate them, they came up with a bunch of stories about it and now, we are prejudiced against their kid's kids." That made no sense either but I knew better than to correct him.
"What kind of stories?" Why didn't he just come out and say it? The store was visible now.
"Bella, I would tell you, but they are so embarrassing that I'll spare myself the pain." He was being serious; the stories must be absurd.
"Then if they're so stupid why do people believe them?" He frowned, his face now disgusted.
"I don't know. That's why I came up with the whole forgotten argument thing. It's better than admitting to myself that I actually belong to such a superstitious lot." We'd reached the store. "Damn, I'm starving." He groaned and went in the store, the door hitting the bells hanging over the doorframe. "Hey, Frank!" he said to the man behind the counter. Frank never said hi, so Jake always greeted him effusively. He mostly ignored us, and watched baseball on his tiny black and while television. The only time you got a reaction out of him was when you didn't give him enough money. Which of course was something Jake did often just to mess with him.
Jake's definition of a snack and mine differed greatly. For me a snack was a box of Milk Duds. For Jake it meant three hot dogs and a large soda. I'd often done the math in my head and I was pretty certain that more than forty percent of Billy's money went to Jake's stomach.
"Are you going to finish those?" Jake asked right before we reached our spot on the beach. We always hung there, even if it was cold like today. I looked at the half emptied box. Jake looked famished, as if he hadn't eaten in months. I threw them at him.
"You don't even like them." I mumbled, eating my last fistful. He shrugged as he practically inhaled them.
"They're all right." Which meant that if he could chew it he would eat it. You could barely walk in La Push Beach without bumping into someone you knew. So if you wanted to go about your business without your parents finding out before you had time to reach your home, you were forced to find a discreet location. That's what Jake and his friends had done. It wasn't unusual to find them gathered behind the large log that provided the only shelter from prying eyes. Like now, before we reached it we could already hear Quil and Embry's loud voices.
They were laughing at something when we got there, when they saw us they stopped talking. "Bella! Just the girl we needed to see." said Embry and Jake narrowed his eyes. He was unnecessarily protective of me.
"Hey, guys." I greeted them, I hadn't seen them in a couple of days. "What can I do for you?" I said and sat cross-legged against the log; Quil was on my right leaning on a rock. Jake sat next to me. This was quite the reprieve from a very strange day. Surely revisiting old familiar conversations would appease me.
"Did you get a good look at the freaks today?" Or not. Of course I knew whom they meant. They were always offending everyone. Not me, since they were afraid Jake might beat them up, but everyone else.
"Not you, too." I groaned. "Is everyone in this place obsessed with the Cullens?" Quil and Embry looked at each other.
"Yeah. I hadn't even crossed the doorway and my mom was already yelling at me not to be messing around in their lands. She even threatened to send Sam on me!" He laughed out loud but I felt Jake stiffening beside me. He didn't like to talk about Sam with them. Unlike Jake, Sam was more than ready to take his spot in the community. To the point that he patrolled the streets of the Reservation telling people what to do and keeping kids out of trouble. It got in Jake's nerves, especially when Billy encouraged him to look up to him.
"My dad said that no matter how beautiful, I was not allowed to get anywhere near the girls." Quil and Embry laughed, Jake just snorted. What did they know about them being beautiful?
"Are you guys going to tell me why the Quileutes hate them so much? Jake won't share!" I complained. Quil looked more than willing to share and opened his mouth to begin. Embry put an arm on his shoulder to stop him from speaking.
"If Jake won't share with you, Bella, what makes you think we will?" I crossed my arms. This was too much.
"That's it, if you don't tell me, I swear I'll tell Leah Clearwater what you did to all that crap she threw away after she broke up with Sam." My threats were not void and the three pairs of wide eyes that stared at me in terror.
"You wouldn't." Jake was the first to narrow his eyes. We were all afraid of Leah's rage.
"Try me. I'm sick of all of this fuss, just tell me what the hell is going on!" Embry sighed.
"God, Bella, chill!" but he was still amused. "No need to get all PMS on us." I glared. Badly. Embry gulped.
"Please, won't you let it go? It's not a big deal." said Jake. I turned to look at him in disbelief.
"Your dad wanted to pull me from school, but it's not a big deal?" Embry and Quil looked impressed.
"He wanted you to switch schools because of the leech-" Jake yelled at him.
"Embry! Fuck man, do you ever think before blurting out crap?" His reluctance to share with me had me wondering if this was more than just embarrassment.
"Just tell me Jake," and then I recurred to a behavior that I don't condone: emotional blackmail. "Don't you trust me?" He groaned and Quil chuckled. Embry snorted. These were the things that had them joking about Jake and I being like an old married couple. As weird as the suggestion was.
"I do! It's just..." I crossed my arms, waiting for the brilliant excuse. "Fine!" he said angrily "If you want to hear it, I'll tell you. But I swear the moment you start laughing, I'm stopping and you'll have to get one of these two idiots to tell you." Quil frowned.
"Hey!" Embry protested.
"Shh, Embry." I said quickly, "Go on, Jake."
"Ok so," his cheeks were already turning red and he hadn't even started. The other two gathered to hear the story that I knew they had heard a hundred times. "You know how I've told you that in our tribe we believe we're descendants from wolves?" Embry let a nervous laugh escape.
"You know you're violating the treaty right?" Jake gave him a glare that effectively silenced him. Quil just giggled.
"Anyway," Jake threw another warning glance "we are descendants from wolves, remember?" I nodded. The figure of the wolf was often used in Quileute art. Billy had several paintings around the house depicting wolves hunting. There was even one in his room that I remembered most. A large black wolf leading his pack. "Well, there is only one enemy known to our people, the whole reason why we have the treaty. We made it to protect ourselves from the cold-ones." He turned a shade darker, this had to be where it got embarrassing. "They're blood-drinkers," he was looking at me like he was expecting some sort of recognition. I didn't have a clue of what he wanted from me. "You'd know them as vampires?" his voice turned lower in the last word and I knew why. Vampires? I controlled my expression. "Anyway," he cleared his throat. "They were supposed to be gone, but when my grandfather was chief, a coven larger than the ones they had seen before settled in town. The council gathered to chase them from their lands but the leader of the coven spoke to my grandfather like a man would. He said that they wouldn't attack, that they were different." Embry snorted again.
"Yeah right, cause that makes their blood-sucking ok." Quil smiled.
"Shut up, I'm telling a story!" snapped Jake and then he went on like he hadn't been interrupted. "My grandpa believed them but told them that they couldn't hunt in our lands or we would expose them to the pale faces."
"That's you." Inserted Quil with a helpful smile. Jake didn't say anything else, I figured it was ok to ask questions.
"Are you saying that the Cullens are descendants from the vampires your grandpa met and made a deal with years ago?" He shook his head.
"They're the same ones." So they were around a hundred years old?
"Actually, my dad said that since they last came the coven has grown. They added another two to the family." said Quil pleased with himself, proud to share something no one else knew.
"There's seven now? No wonder Billy was pissed." Jake raised his eyebrows, leaning back on the log. I couldn't believe it.
"I don't mean to be judgmental, but how can people buy these stories? We're discussing vampires." This was supposed to be a rational conversation. Jake agreed with me.
"I told you they were ridiculous. But people believe." he looked relieved that I wasn't laughing and pointing.
"Of course they believe!" said Embry "and it's not hard to do so. Have you seen them? They look just like the stories say!" I raised an inquisitive eyebrow, he hadn't seen them as far as I knew. "Or at least my mom says they do."
"That's why we wanted to ask you Bella. You're the one of the few people who has actually seen them." I didn't know about them being vampires, it was ridiculous to think of mythical creatures. But I also learned that I didn't entirely object to the idea of them being considered something other than average.
"What do the stories say they look like?" I wrapped my arms around my knees, sitting in a tight ball. Now that they were getting new information, they seemed a lot perkier.
"They say they're really white, like insanely pale." They were. So white that they had faint dark circles under their eyes. "I mean, like whiter than you!" I rolled my eyes at them. They found it hilarious from time to time that my skin was lighter than theirs was.
"And that they're like super hot!" Embry added and I was certain this was the one thing that he wanted to be true. Jake scoffed at that before intervening.
"They only said they were attractive but I think that's just stupid." I agreed, how could they be simultaneously attracted and repulsed by them?
"And they're eyes are weird. That's why our grandparents believed them in the first place." That was an interesting observation.
"Weird how, Quil?" He didn't have time to respond.
"They have really light eyes or something." Jake answered.
"Well they do. And they are paler than me." Embry laughed.
"No way!" he said and I scowled at him.
"But they're not hot are they?" asked Quil. Of all the things that should interest them. Like, did you see them drinking a mysterious red liquid at lunch? for example.
"They are." I said and Jake was suddenly very interested in the conversation. I don't think he'd ever heard me agree that someone was attractive. "I mean, you should see the girls," I deflected. "They're beautiful. A teacher was even flirting with one of the guys." They raised their eyebrows in appreciation. "Your stories seem to have gotten some things right." Jake snorted.
"Yup, up until the part where they're immortal and drink blood to survive." I smiled. It was nonsensical. My phone vibrated. I checked my messages.
"Your dad wants us to go have dinner." I paraphrased. I couldn't believe it was almost eight. We all got up. We started walking back to town and Embry and Quil lagged behind. Quil matched my pace. He was very sweet and we often ended up talking to each other.
"Damn, Bella, you get the good stuff. You're right in the middle of the action." said Quil.
"It's not so much fun, Quil. I almost had to swear Billy I wouldn't talk to them so he'd let me stay in school." He smiled.
"Maybe is for the best. I don't know if they're vampires and all that, but if they're dangerous, you should stay away from them." He meant it. I nodded.
"Yeah, better stay out of trouble." I didn't mean it. The stories changed nothing. If anything they made me look at the Quileutes in a different light. How could they possibly judge a group of people over something like that? Maybe Jake's forgotten grudge theory was right after all.
We said our goodbyes to Quil and Embry and went the other way towards the house. Jake put an arm around my shoulders as we walked.
"Do you finally think we're the stupidest tribe that you've ever met?" I laughed.
"What?" his fear was real, he looked embarrassed. I hurried to appease him. "No! Of course not, Jake!" He sighed.
"Great. I hope you mean it because even if you do you're stuck with us. It's nice to see there's still some respect left, though." I put my arm around his waist. Hoping to appease him. I was rarely affectionate like this, only when he needed it. Jake appreciated physical contact more than I did.
"Then again you're the only tribe I know. So I don't really have the grounds to compare..." He dropped his arm from my shoulders. I caught his hand to keep him close as I laughed. "No, really, I don't mind. I like to hear everything about the Quileutes. Even if they don't make so much sense." He frowned.
"Don't tell Billy, I did break the treaty by telling you." I smiled, trying to not look affected by his comment.
"So there is a treaty?" Despite the ridiculous reasons, and the guys' trivializing comments, the conflict was real.
"The Cullens are bound to secrecy, too. So if any of them comes up and tells you: Hi, I'm a vampire! You come to me and we'll tell Billy." I laughed, imagining Edward or Emmett saying that. Not Jasper, he was too scary. Rosalie would probably not speak to me at all and Alice, I could see her saying it easily. It wouldn't be amusing; Alice looked like the kind of person that could get away with comments like that.
"I promise that if they do, I'll let you know." He smiled.
"Good." He said. We made it home a couple of minutes there. Billy had ordered pizza with all of Jake's favorite toppings. It was nice to see he was making an effort.
Despite the slight tension, dinner went on as normal as ever. By the end of the evening we were talking like the Cullens had never come in the first place. Billy turned in early, he was worn from all of the day's excitement although he didn't mention it as he left. Jake watched television while I corrected an essay he'd written and soon he was snoring beside me. I pushed him to his room before retiring to my own. I was not very tired.
After vainly attempting to sleep for an hour, I decided to get some work done. It took me less than ten minutes to accept that I would not be productive this evening. My homework remained undone in front of me. I'd barely given any thought to Trigonometry when all I could think of was the legends of the Quileutes. They were ridiculous, highly improbable and disturbingly accurate. How could they be so right about some things and so amusingly wrong about others? I would never deny that the Cullens weren't what you called average; I was a living example of individuals that escaped the norm. People came up with the strangest explanations when they didn't understand how something worked. Like ghosts or in this case, vampires.
My mind spun in circles and I achieved nothing. And admittedly, I wouldn't achieve anything in the foreseeable future since I was not allowed to approach them. Why go asking for trouble with Billy? This managed to arise a new determination: I'd heard enough about the Cullens. I was no better than Jessica and Lauren indulging in idle gossip. I would go on with my life the same way as I'd always had, minding my own business. With this decision made, I went to bed. I'd sleep whether I liked it or not. It was nighttime.
The next day I went to English without paying attention to the car or the curious glances and chatter surrounding its occupants. I would not listen to talk about them whether it was directly or indirectly. In English, Mike greeted me with a wide smile.
"Good morning! Hey, did we have the project with Mr. Banner on Thursday or Friday?" he meant a cell reproduction lab he'd been warning us about since last week.
"Friday, why?" I said as I sat beside him.
"My dad wanted my mom to go with him to Seattle on Thursday to check out new merchandise for the store. But she can't make it so he wanted me to come instead. If the project is on Friday then it's fine." I nodded absentmindedly. He always told me when he was missing school or not, even if I didn't ask.
Jessica sat down with a very stern "Hi." In our direction. Mike didn't even answer and my whispered greeting may not have reached her ears. I didn't make too much of an effort to make her hear me. She didn't stop texting today, either. We walked to our next class in silence. It was awkward silence in its greatest form. Going to Spanish only made it worse. With Edward present, the tension grew. She wanted to talk about it, I knew, and she knew that I didn't. We'd ignore it until now but with Edward there, it was impossible not to notice our different reactions. We didn't talk about it. And Edward as usual, remained completely unaffected.
I believed that until I started feeling him in my head again. I was entirely certain it was him, although I still had no clue of what he wanted to do. It was getting easier to reject him, but he never stopped. I'd been bracing myself all morning to not react in any way to his presence or even his scent, and I'd been successful. But when it came to his intrusion in what I assumed was my mind, I was as helpless as he was stubborn. I rejected him out of reflex and he ceased only occasionally. I actually started timing how long it took him to try again after failing; the longest he lasted was two minutes and thirty nine seconds. After that his patience plummeted. He didn't last longer than a minute.
When we went our separate ways I refused to think about it any longer, so I didn't. Gym was another story. As soon as I entered the Gym I saw Alice. Again, she looked better than anyone else in the P.E. uniform and she smiled when she saw me. I smiled back, I couldn't help it, deciding almost immediately that having her as my gym partner couldn't hurt.
"Care for a rematch?" she said, as she handed me a racket when Coach Clapp blew his whistle with unmasked apathy. I took it and we played falling into an easy conversation. She told me that she liked Seattle but she preferred New York. It wasn't hard to imagine why, since she could shop at her leisure there. She told me she could never understand how some people could go out of their homes wearing pajamas. I didn't say I'd done it in occasion with Jake when we were too lazy to change before getting something at the store. And she also shared that she liked music she could dance to rather than just listen. Finishing with a never-ending discourse on what to buy and how to buy it, shopping with her must be quite the feat.
Overall, nothing beyond what you would expect from a seventeen-year-old-girl. My mind easily pulled away from the Quileute's prejudice. Besides, I liked her, she was curious and childlike; she managed to spark my interest in things I didn't usually care about. When the bell rang we said our goodbyes. I was looking forward to talking to her again.
The tension returned at lunch where an invisible line separated the people interested in their own business and the ones focused on the official gossip about the Cullens led by Lauren and Jessica. To my surprise Kate and Ashley had joined them. Tyler and Eric were there too, allured no doubt, by the things they could learn about Rosalie and Alice. the other side, Mike, Angela, Ben, Austin and I talked as if nothing was happening.
The Cullens sat on the same table as yesterday and they didn't talk to anyone but each other. I'd promised myself not to eavesdrop, but that didn't stop me from noticing one remarkable detail: they didn't eat. Not one bite. Not even a piece of candy or a gulp of water. My determination shattered, all I could think of were the stories. What did that mean? I didn't believe it was because at night they drank human blood but it was still strange that they didn't eat. Because if they didn't eat at all, why did they bother to buy food? I kept waiting for them to at least touch their food. My hopes were on Emmett, his size required sustenance. But when the bell rang and his pizza lay untouched, my suspicion grew.
My mind revolving around this only made Edward's presence in Biology all the more conspicuous. Although I could reject his intrusion effortlessly there was nothing I could do about feeling his eyes on me the entire hour. I didn't even want to be thinking about him, because if I did I'd remember the ridiculous stories. And they made me uneasy.
I was still thinking about them when I left Government. I'd paid a lot more attention to the subject just to see if I could keep my mind from turning to mythology and prejudice. Which I did, but that only emphasized the emptiness it left behind. If they were not human and I refused to accept they were vampires, what were they?
Fortunately, I was expected at Angela's house and I would be distracted. Until I reached the Weber's, though, I thought about Billy's rules. I'd never been very good at sticking to the general way of thinking without finding things out for myself. So I suspected that in this situation I would do the same.
I was so caught up in my thoughts that I almost ran into Jake while I was walking towards my truck. Like a person who never breaks the rules, I suddenly felt nervous, as if he could somehow tell just by looking at me that I'd been talking to Alice Cullen today. My astonishment didn't have time for pleasantries.
"What are you doing here, Jake?" I asked, startled.
"Nice to see you, too." He said with his characteristic sarcastic grin. "Quil and I came to look for a record that he wanted. We were done earlier than he'd thought so he dropped me off here so we could ride back home together." He said as if this made everything clear. He'd been leaning on the truck with his arms crossed. Now that I was here, he sat on the back edge of the truck's bed, his body leaned slightly to the front.
"Didn't you have class?" He shrugged. I busied myself with putting my stuff away on the driver's seat.
"We ditched." I heard him say. I shook my head, and he wondered why I was the favorite one.
"Billy will find out." I mumbled as I looked inside my backpack, I'd put my Biology book somewhere, and I needed it to tutor Angela. How did Jake expect to get away with ditching in a Reservation where everyone knew everybody?
"He's too busy hating the Cullens to give a damn." His tone was distracted, so I finally I looked up at him. He was looking around. Something clicked when he mentioned the Cullens.
"Oh my God! Did you come here to spy on them?!" His casual expression evaporated and immediately he looked way too innocent.
"No, of course not!" he was faintly blushed. I laughed at him. This was too good to let go.
"You did! Really Jake, ditching to come gossip? I thought you were above that." He rolled his eyes. "Of all the times you criticized the girls at your school-" he interrupted what would've been a list of specific examples.
"I didn't ditch because of that. But since we were in the neighborhood..." he trailed off. As if it was too much of an effort for him to keep on lying. My eyes widened in mock horror. I even giggled a couple of times; I covered my mouth with my hand to hide my giggles.
"You're not even denying it?" I said, deeply amused. He opened his mouth, about to offer a less embarrassing alternative but instead he let out a deep breath.
"Shut up and point." he exhaled. I chuckled under my breath.
"I don't have to." I shut the door of the truck loudly; I'd found my book. I turned to look on the same direction as he was. I leaned on the truck as well.
"What do you mean you don't have to point?" He whined in a low voice. "There's a bunch of people here and I don't-" he suddenly stopped talking. And then said really fast: "Ok, you don't have to point." I looked towards the Volvo. Rosalie and Emmett had just come out of one of the buildings. Jake's mouth was partly open and his eyebrows almost touched his hairline.
"Mind the drool, Jake. Or at least turn away from me, I don't want to get all wet." I gave a tiny step away from him. "And before you get any ideas, they're together." He snapped out of it and rolled his eyes at me.
"I don't think she's hot." I laughed.
"Now you're just being ludicrous." He gave me a confused look "You're full of shit." I translated.
"I mean it, she's too... perfect." He looked disgusted so I scoffed.
"Best insult I've ever heard. If she's too perfect for you, then why are you still staring at her?" he was looking at them again, like he couldn't stop. I knew the feeling.
"It's just..." he lowered his voice "I've been brought up with all these stories and crap about them but I'd never really seen them. And I thought Billy was exaggerating with what he'd said but wow, he got it right." My amusement was all forgotten, my attention entirely engaged.
"What else is there? Aside from what you told me yesterday?"
"Not much, just stuff you wouldn't notice in plain sight. Not that it matters" That was too much. What did the stories say? And as I concentrated and pouted, Edward joined the group. To my misfortune, he looked around until he found me. Our eyes locked. And on queue, he frowned. He didn't just dislike me, he must hate me. He looked at Jake too before looking at his car.
"What's his problem?" grunted Jake as I looked away. Great, he'd noticed, too. I definitely didn't want him asking questions about Edward Cullen.
"Maybe he's wondering why we're staring at his family." Jake stopped staring for a moment, and also on queue, I felt Edward all around me. If he hated me so much why was he always trying? Jake seemed satisfied with his espionage labor for the day.
"Well they look charming." he said sarcastically, jumping from the truck and standing close to me, he took me by the elbows to get me even closer. His voice was low again as he spoke "I think I see where Billy gets ideas from, though, they're kind of weird looking. Especially Mr. Sunshine over there." He did a quick nod towards them. Then his eyes turned cheeky. "But no more weird looking than you, so I really don't see why we are not sharpening our pitchforks to use against you, too." He was being funny, so I didn't know why his comment hit me so badly. From the corner of my eye I saw Edward who was standing by the Volvo listening to something Jasper was saying and if it was possible, he looked even crankier than before. How did he manage to get new reasons to be crabby every ten minutes? He must be really creative. "Give me a ride, gorgeous?" Jake said, turning on the charm. I glared at him. I tried not to show how what he'd said had affected me.
"Idiot." I said, answering his gorgeous remark, and he laughed. He kissed my cheek quickly before jumping away to avoid the smack that I wasn't able to deliver.
"You know you love me." He said, wiggling his eyebrows and I smiled.
No more weird looking than you, what did that even mean? That the Cullens and I looked alike? I thought of Rosalie, walking in the cafeteria like it was a catwalk. Yeah, sure. Or had it more to do with what Embry said about me being as pale as them? Which was true, but pigmentation in the skin was not indicative of anything. It varied from person to person determined by genetic factors or maybe environmental ones, like exposure to the sun. I knew I was losing it when I got overly analytical and even clinical.
I'd been like this since Jake's stupid comment. Not even Angela's presence distracted me. Not even playing video games withe her little brothers. They beat me after a short while and then demanded another game since they didn't like it when adults let them win. I'd had to explain something three times to Angela because I wasn't making any sense. She even asked me if something was wrong but after a lie she let me alone. We had dinner and now I was driving back to the house.
There was a note in the kitchen counter, saying that Billy was at Harry Clearwater's house. I would be surprised if I didn't know why they were there. Jake was out, too, I knew it because he'd told me before I dropped him off earlier than since I was out of the house he was going to get lost in the woods to avoid talking to Billy. Great, so it was just me.
I dropped on the couch, relinquishing control over the thoughts that had only been an annoying thought in the back of my mind as I pretended to be ignorant of them. Now, set free and empowered, they threatened to overwhelm me.
The Cullens and I, alike? Why hadn't I thought about this before? It baffled me that regardless of how easily I had acknowledged their differences I hadn't considered for a moment that I could draw some parallels to me. The most I've gotten was that they were adopted, too. Now even that seemed suspicious. They were adopted, their appearances differed greatly from others and they didn't eat? I fit all of those criteria. And they weren't simple things either.
How did I not see it before? Then again, I did my best not to separate myself from others unless it was completely necessary. I liked to concentrate on the things that made me like other people. When Charlie was alive I liked to imitate him, eat what he ate, sing what he sung and even watched what he watched. When it came to my preferences I tried to include him as well, I'd even given him a poetry book by Tennyson I'd thought he might like. All of these things, attempted to repair the un-repairable: we were not alike. But could it be that there were others like me?
I already knew what I would do.
I may not be exactly like the Cullens, but at a simple glance I shared more with them than I had with any other group of people. I couldn't overlook that. Nor I wanted to. My earlier determination to stay away was over. I couldn't wonder anymore. I wanted to know everything about them and I would get my answers. Even if it meant shopping with Alice.