Mr. Banner happily gave us our sheet and left, oblivious to my frustration. Edward gave no comment to Mr. Banner's instructions but I felt him watching me. His presence was over me, but I rejected it easily. It was second nature by this point.
Time was up for me to successfully ignore him; I couldn't pretend he didn't exist if we were in close proximity. The sound of his chair scraping the linoleum as he got up startled me, and after two weeks of systematic silence, it was all over. In a surge of defiance, I looked at him, trying to maintain a neutral expression.
"Hello." He said gently as he looked straight into my eyes without embarrassment. I noticed that his features softened under close scrutiny, he appeared younger and his expression was amiable. But despite his polite demeanor, I was certain he disliked me. I estimated that we could do the work quickly and return to ignoring each other. At the moment I had no intention of looking down, I refused to be intimidated like Leslie had been.
"Hi." I answered, attempting to exude confidence. Mr. Banner had placed the microscopes in our tables in advance and he was done giving out worksheets. He positioned himself in the front of the room to finish his announcements. I looked towards him, Edward didn't.
"The assignment is simple. Look at the slides and write down what phase of cellular reproduction they are in. Try not to look at your books. We'll stop five minutes before the bell rings to go over your findings." More bad news. The assignment would be longer than I'd anticipated. Mr. Banner concluded his announcements and the enthusiastic chatter began all around us. Edward's voice was smooth and quiet and as usual, it stood out effortlessly.
"Would you like to begin?" he said pleasantly, his eyes still boring into mine. It couldn't be polite to stare at someone like that. I stared right back. He seemed to be in a good mood. Since I prided myself on being reasonable, I decided not to pass judgment on him until I had first hand experience on his behavior. I felt really mature at the moment.
"All right. Pass me the slides, please?" I forced myself to speak to him as I would anyone else. Because he was just another guy. He complied, and I got distracted by observing how careful his movements were. I wasn't certain if it was just the way he moved or if he was going out of his way not to touch me.
"Anaphase." I said and he wrote it down. His handwriting was impeccable.
"Aren't you going to look?" I asked as he removed the slide and placed another.
"I trust you are correct since you regularly are." I wasn't aware that he paid enough attention to me to ascertain something like that.
"What if I'm wrong?" I said and he looked skeptical.
"I doubt it." he whispered and he looked into the microscope. "Prophase." he picked up his pen to write it down. Then he stopped and turned to look at me with an amused expression. "Would you like to check?" I did. When I didn't refute his assessment, he wrote it down.
To my dismay, we completed the assignment five minutes later. We took turns, and didn't make mistakes. I always checked; he never did. And now, we had forty minutes ahead of us and I already felt uncomfortable. I sank in my chair. My shoulders slumped slightly. He surprised me by talking.
"My sister tells me you are originally from Phoenix." I looked at him with genuine incredulity. He was deliberately making conversation.
"Yes. I was born there." Due to my early determination to treat him equally to the rest of our peers I answered and even offered a question of my own. "Where were you born?"
"Chicago." His body shifted slightly in my direction as he answered. I moved back an inch.
"Alice didn't mention Chicago." He didn't flinch when he responded.
"We were born in different cities." Without taking a breath he asked "Was your father originally from Forks?" It was difficult to define if he was genuinely interested, I couldn't understand his motivation. My relentless shock left me unprepared to lie convincingly so I told the truth.
"Yes, he grew up around here. That's how he became friends with the people in the reservation." I couldn't believe I was actually detecting curiosity in his usually aloof expression.
"It is so peculiar that you live with the Quileutes. They tend to be very protective of their territory." He wasn't being hostile; his tone didn't mean to offend. I felt defensive either way.
"They protect their families from what they think is unsafe," my tone hardened and did not go amiss "but they are kind and loving people. When Charlie died, Billy took me in because he was family to him." His eyebrows knit together.
"That was certainly very kind of him." There was skepticism in his voice.
"It's not that extraordinary. Think of your parents, they took you and your siblings in, that's even more peculiar." His attention wasn't as engaged when he spoke of himself.
"I believe the circumstances were different. Not that it diminishes the kindness behind the gesture." He explained. "What Billy did for you on the other hand, was remarkable." I frowned, his words provoked me.
"You must know a lot about the tribe then." I retorted and he seemed to be about to begin a lecture on the subject, but we were interrupted.
"I feared this would happen." said Mr. Banner as he lazily picked up the worksheet from our desk. "You two are my best students," he said as he looked distractedly at the paper. "You are also well behaved, so keep it down while the others finish." He turned to leave. Once he left, my gaze returned to Edward who looked deeply entertained. It was quite different from his usually bored expression. Before I could ask, Mr. Banner stopped and walked back to us. "I should've thought of it sooner. I'll have you two working together from now on. That way I can give you advanced assignments and Mike can start doing his own work for a change." He threw me a chastising look before leaving. Great, now Edward was my lab partner. I didn't control my grimace. Not that my visible distaste was enough to conclude our conversation.
"What about your mother?" He asked once Mr. Banner was two tables away. My forced maturity and detached facade flew out the window with that question. Although I hadn't looked away from his intense gaze for a moment, this question made me square my shoulders and turn in his direction while remaining seated.
"What?" I asked, appalled by his lack of restraint.
"Your mother." He didn't even hesitate. "You've spoken about your father before but you didn't mention your mother." No one had asked that before. The mention of one dead parent was enough for most people. Not for him. He looked unapologetic and curious. It irked me. His question made me remember that I had no answer.
"That's a bit personal, isn't it?" For the second time I felt like I needed to justify myself and it wasn't pleasant. I tried to deflect his attention. "What if I were to ask you about your parents?" he didn't look surprised. He leaned his head a little forward and I didn't move back this time. Until now, I hadn't noticed he had turned in his chair. Now his entire body was facing me, his left elbow on the table and his right on the back of his chair. He intertwined his fingers.
"What would you like to know?" I shrugged. I hadn't expected him to answer. He was usually so distant. I thought he would be insanely private about his personal life, too. I tried to match his confident tone when I spoke.
"What happened to them?" I felt bad for asking that. I didn't know him enough.
"They died." He answered simply. "A long time ago. That's when Carlisle found me." He said me not us. I didn't miss that.
"I don't know anything about my mother. Or my father, that is. Charlie found me and that's all I know." His characteristic frown appeared marred by an emotion I knew I had to be interpreting incorrectly. If I hadn't known him already I would've thought he was concerned.
"Have you ever wanted to know what happened to your birth parents? Who they were at the very least?" His voice was a whisper, protecting the question from curious ears. The answer echoed in my head as soon as he'd asked: every day.
"No." I lied. "Charlie was my family. Now the Quileutes are. That's enough." His head tilted a fraction as his large eyes bored into mine. I'd never been looked at with such intensity; he regarded me with an interest I had never witnessed before. It wasn't morbid, or incisive, he was engrossed.
"Are you sure?" My patience was thinning. His motives became more obscure as his questions deepened. He was asking things that I kept far away from myself so I didn't have to look at them. When he asked, I had to pay attention.
"Yes, I'm sure." I said annoyed. He didn't seem deterred by my tone.
"It might not always be like that." He said arrogantly. I was angry and curious at the same time.
"What do you mean?" He pondered my question. His lips pursing slightly as he considered a word to phrase his answer. When he answered, his voice was lower.
"Perhaps in time you will require more answers. You seem to possess a rather inquisitive mind. It's only logical that eventually the questions of your origin will take a central role in your life." His eyes followed the contours of my face, I pretended not to notice.
"Why are you so certain? Are you speaking from personal experience?" I crossed my arms over my chest.
"In a way. But my situation was less complicated than yours." Again that felt like an insult to me. He assumed so much without knowing anything for a fact. I controlled my curiosity and indulged in my anger.
"Good to know you know everything about my situation. Even though you'd never talked to me before." Which meant all he supposedly knew was nothing but rumors or stories from third parties. Who would've known Edward Cullen was also involved in gossip.
"There was no need, what you have shared now is enough." I was unsettled under his gaze. "You seem to be out of place. That will only speed things along." I was undecided whether I was infuriated because he was conceited jerk or because his observations were uncanny. Then again, if I had learned anything from Jake was that aggression usually pushed people away.
"What's it to you anyway? Who cares if you're right or not?" To my dismay, the effect my angered tone produced in him was not satisfactory. He looked amused.
"You're angry with me." My patience was far gone.
"Why are you talking to me?" I managed to make him smirk with this question.
"Conventionally, lab partners speak to each other." I took a deep breath. He was so close to me, closer than ever before. I didn't realize his scent was so potent. Irritating or not, I found it pleasing. Not that I would admit it right now.
"Conventionally people are more reserved with their questions when addressing someone they have never met before." I moved closer again, it was an inevitable part of my stubbornness. He watched me for a moment before slightly moving away from me.
"I apologize if I offended you in any way, Bella." Even the way he said my name incensed me. "But I stand by what I said, even if you found it obnoxious." I clenched my jaw, he didn't miss it. His eyebrows rose as he asked "Or am I wrong?" His self assertion bugged me, I wanted to shatter his cockiness with a snarky remark but I was unable since he was right once more. To answer his question I could only glare, he held my gaze.
The bell rang and this time, I was the one who left the room as fast as possible; trying to convince myself that it was because I didn't want to be late for my next class.
The rest of the day I tried to shrug off my annoyance with no success, luckily an event looming in the horizon was far more interesting than my lingering ire. Alice and I had agreed in Gym to meet at Charlie's house after school. She insisted on driving, I let her know it was best if I just dropped off my car at my dad's house. She never mentioned coming to the Reservation and I didn't bring it up.
Twenty minutes before Alice's arrival, I was nervously pacing around the living room. I convinced myself that no matter how much I managed to learn from Alice tonight, it wouldn't be much. But I was eager, jumping at every sound and expecting her to be there. Like she would knock on my door and tell me everything I had always needed to know.
My fidgety excitement turned to stressful tension as the silver Volvo parked in front of my house. When Alice got off the passenger's seat I relaxed. I don't know what I had expected when she said she would drive, but I had learned to associate that car with her brother. After I made sure she was alone, I stopped attempting to control myself. I opened the door before she reached the house. She smiled brightly at me.
"Bella! Ready to go?" she looked so excited; her giddiness was infectious. I smiled widely.
"Let's do this, Alice." I said and she shrieked. We rushed to her car.
"Where to? What do you want to buy first?" she said as we walked back to the car.
"I have no preferences. But I do need a sweater." Her eyes glinted.
"We'll start with that, then!" she said and we got into her car. It smelled like them. All of them. But Edward's scent stood out. Annoyingly so.
"Is this your car?" I asked her as I put my seat belt on. She shook her head.
"No, I don't have one. This is Edward's." She switched to drive and pulled away from my house. I watched my old truck with nostalgia; at least that one didn't smell like him.
"And he just let you borrow it? Does he know what we're up to?" She stepped on the gas; the car was faster than I expected it to be. Alice seems to be well aware of that fact and determined to take advantage of it. Soon, everything outside was nothing but a blur, I didn't know anyone who dared to drive this fast with no fear of getting caught but she looked entirely relaxed.
"Yes, I told him what we were doing and he offered his car. I think he's going out with Jazz since I abandoned him to have a girl's night out!" She sounded so excited you would think it was the first time she'd ever done this. "Why?" she looked curiously at me, I shrugged.
"I just don't think he likes me very much, so he might not want you to drive me around in his car." She flashed a puckish grin.
"Don't worry about my brother liking you, Bella." she said and then she whispered "God knows he's stubborn." I wasn't sure if she wanted me to hear that so I didn't comment on it. Then she looked at the stereo. "What I am worried about is finding good music in this car. She pushed buttons around. After the second button, Clair de Lune by Debussy started playing. I automatically smiled, I loved that song. Alice looked offended. "Ugh. This is definitely Edward's car, who drives with that on?" She mumbled as she took out the CD with one hand. She looked like she wanted to throw it out the window so I took it from her and looked for a case. Debussy deserved better than that. I wanted to believe I wasn't defending his taste in music, but mine.
"I like it!" I opened the glove compartment searching for the case. Everything was perfectly organized so it didn't take me long to find it. Somebody was a control freak. Alice looked at me, and I narrowed my eyes in response, I was already familiar with her impish expression.
"Of course you do." I caught the tone but I couldn't understand the implication. "There's just no way I'm going to listen to that all the way." She settled on a radio station that played mostly catchy pop songs and turned the volume up until the car was vibrating around us with the repetitive rhythms. Relief washed over her face. "Much better." For the fuss she'd made about the music we'd be listening to all the way, the drive did not take more than thirty minutes.
"You know I'm in no rush, you didn't have to drive so fast." I mumbled as we got off the car.
"Nonsense!" she said dramatically. Then again, Alice was a theatrical person so dramatic was her norm. "That's the only way I know how to drive." No wonder she wasn't usually the designated driver. "Now, for the good stuff, let's shop!" she spoke the word with reverence, as if nothing could hold greater esteem for her.
As she dragged me into the first shop I groaned and bitched to leave no doubt I was being forced to do this. In reality, I mostly appreciated the moment. This was Alice in her element. She knew what to look for and how to boss around salespeople so efficiently that everyone was happy. They would go home with a nice commission tonight so why wouldn't they be?
After she saw me eyeing two sweatshirts, she wordlessly banned me from picking anything and jammed me in a dressing room instead. Where she threw different outfits for me and forced me to try them on. It didn't matter that I argued several times I didn't need anything of what she was giving me. For the next two hours I tried on what she asked and then paraded myself in front of her; seeking her approval.
She was consumed by her task. She would frown and mumble "Not quite," and go into another rack to return with three or four things I never would've picked had I been on my own. Then again my shopping trips were more of the get in, take the first soft thing you see that isn't pink, and get out variety.
We were at the fourth store when I finally decided to talk to her about what was one my mind. She'd already bought around ten items and I still didn't have a sweater. It was going to take a while because like I told her I was on a budget and I had no intention of letting her pay. No matter how much she pouted and fake-cried. Something she did when I refused to buy a five hundred dollar dress. I caught her on it and she shook it off and searched for something else. Now at a shoe store, it was a good time to talk, since there were no dressing room doors between us. Alice was currently trying on a pair of long black leather boots that looked incredible on her. I was humoring by trying a similar pair of brown boots, my mind was elsewhere.
"Alice," I said hesitantly. She didn't look away from the mirror.
"Hmm?" she answered. The salesman was staring, besotted by her. He was so distracted by the girl in front of him that I was pretty certain I could just go up to the register take out the money ask him for his car keys and drive away. He would do it with a smile. It was not a strange reaction; going out with Alice drew a lot of attention. I found it amusing since she was well aware of that and used it in her favor.
"Have you ever wondered... I mean." I was so much more eloquent on my head. "Do you ever think that... or maybe you already... No." She looked at me and actually put the boots down.
"Bella, you know you can ask me anything, right?" she whispered. I looked at her, feeling very tense. She read my expression quickly. "I think I'll take these." she said to the salesman and handed him the boots. "Can you be a sweetheart and pack them in a box for me?" Her voice was so appealing; the guy didn't stand a change.
"Yeah, right away, Miss." She flashed him a devilish smile.
"Please, call me Alice." The guy almost bumped his head on the door as he turned around and went to the back of the store to get the boots. If I hadn't been so nervous I would've laughed.
"Now, this is not the kind of conversation we want to have in front of the salesman. How about if we get something to eat?" I smiled.
"I'm not really hungry." She grinned widely.
"Neither am I. How about Italian?" I nodded. Fifteen minutes later we were at a restaurant, La Bella Italia. We ordered some food, regardless of how unnecessary it would be. I had to eat since I hadn't eaten lunch. We discussed the stores we'd visited while the waitress hovered by our table. Finally, she brought our food and drinks and left.
"You didn't need to order anything." I told her as I took my fork out of my napkin. That would make it clear where my thoughts were headed. Alice didn't even look surprised.
"It's only conventional to eat at restaurants, Bella." Her use of that word, it reminded me of her brother. I tried not to think of him right now. "But you don't really care about that, do you?" she looked serious.
"Not really." She looked into the distance for a moment and then she looked at me.
"I'm afraid I will disappoint you, Bella. There are many things I would like to share with you, things you want to know. But I can't." I frowned, until now it never occurred to me she wouldn't want to tell me things.
"Why not?" I said, disappointed.
"The time isn't right. It will happen," she was entirely confident "Just not today." She explained sadly. The confusing part is that if I was reading her right, she wanted to tell me.
"What does that mean?" She picked up her fork and started poking at her food with mild distaste.
"It means I can't answer what you really want to know." She looked just as disillusioned as I was feeling.
"How do you know what I want to know?" She smiled slightly.
"It's a gift." She winked. It took me a moment to understand that she wasn't being humorous. "Trust me Bella, the time isn't right for you to know certain things. But when it is, I'll be more than happy to answer any questions you may have." I frowned.
"Just tell me one thing Alice," My heart beat strongly as I dared to say the words out loud. Alice eyed me with deep curiosity but did nothing to interrupt me. "Am I like you?" My voice was quiet and weak and Alice stared at me for a long time. She shook her head, briefly looking down before speaking.
"I don't really know, Bella. None of us does. We have never met someone like you." The gleam of her eyes betrayed her honesty. I sighed and slumped in my seat, disappointed. Alice went on. "I should probably warn you, not every question you have has an answer. Some things are a mystery." She said sadly before her expression gave a 360° turn and returned to her jaunty self. "But look at it on the bright side, now that we've met, its only a matter of time before you get some answers!" she was excited. I had to smile, I couldn't help myself. I did nothing to hide my annoyance.
"Which would excite me if you could tell me anything besides the time will come." I said the last part with an attempted ominous and mystical tone. She poked at her pasta.
"You have to be patient. I can't say anything." She was firm. But I was stubborn.
"Not even if I guessed?" She looked at me in disbelief. "What if you write it down? Or what if you point out to a helpful area at the library." She giggled.
"It's sweet of you to try. But no." I sighed. I ate with a frown on my face. "But that doesn't mean that we can't have another shopping trip." There was a hint of hesitation in her tone, it was so unlike her. I looked at her for a moment. She looked bashful.
"Of course we will have other trips." I said emphatically "And hopefully you'll actually take me to a bookstore next time, don't think I didn't notice you broke your end of the deal." I complained and she smiled.
"Do you mean that?" For someone so beautiful and confident in many ways, she looked too surprised that I actually liked her.
"Hell, yes." I tried to replicate that way Jake managed to make you feel like that whatever he was saying was the absolute truth. "You're the coolest person I've ever met!" And one of the few people that seemed to like me this week. "You took me shopping, Alice. Shopping." I repeated, attempting to leak some of the horror I felt when I heard the word. "And I still like you. That means something." Her smile widened.
"Oh, I'm so happy, Bella! You know, I'm certain you and I are going to be great friends." I took another bite.
"Do you know it?" I said mockingly, making fun of the mention of her "gift."
"As a matter of fact, I do." She poked at her food again and I smiled. It was disappointing that she didn't say anything that I didn't know, but I liked her all the same. I didn't think I had wasted my time today. I looked at her untouched plate of food. I didn't say anything as I switched them and started eating some of her spaghetti.
"What are you doing?" She asked with a curiosity you only find in kids. I smiled.
"Let's not hurt the chef's feelings. You've clearly not eaten anything." She gave me a tiny grin. "Nice choice," then I had to remove some chicken from the pasta. I grimaced "Next time remind me to pick your plate, I'm a vegetarian you know." I said with raised eyebrows and she looked as engrossed as her brother had been. I talked about shopping then, I didn't want to think of him right now. She gracefully complied.
When I was done we got ready to go back to Forks. I didn't want to leave, but I did have a curfew. I reached in my pocket for my cellphone to look at the time. Only to find my phone was not there. I checked my other pocket. Alice noticed my fuss.
"What's the matter?" she said giving the waitress a credit card before I could complain.
"I can't find my phone." It was definitely not with me. I thought obsessively about the last time I remembered having it with me. I was never forgetful, but I was very distracted from the moment I got in the car. So much I could remember my thoughts far better than what had happened.
"Maybe you dropped it in the car." it seemed likely so I felt hopeful. We reached the car shortly after. Sure enough, it was in the gap between the seat and the door. Which happened often since I kept it in my jeans so I didn't have to carry a purse. I picked it up to look at the time, it was almost nine. Then I saw the tiny envelope at the top of the screen. I had ten texts and fifteen missed calls, something was up. All the texts were from Jake, most calls from Billy, strangely two calls from Angela and a voice message. I read the texts first.
"Is everything all right?" asked Alice, noticing my expression. The color was draining from my cheeks as I read text after text from Jake then finally one from Angela that I hadn't seen before asking where I was. Then I heard some of the messages that Billy had left.
"Yes." I said unconvincingly. "I just need to go. Right now." We got in the car. I was so glad Alice drove like a maniac.
"What happened?" Asked Alice as we reached the highway. I'd been naive before when I'd thought that she was driving fast. I did nothing to discourage her. She looked worried, truly concerned. I didn't feel like lying. She was honest to me, so I thought I'd return the sentiment.
"Jake's been trying to get a hold of me since seven. His friend Embry is been sick all week and when he went to his house to check up on him today, his mom told him that Embry was gone." She was enraptured by my tale, as if she knew what I was talking about. "Then I don't know why, but Jake and Billy had an argument. Jake left home and that must have been when Billy tried to get a hold of me. Angela left me a voice message asking where I was, that Billy called asking about me." I sighed. This was bad.
"What did she tell him?" Alice asked, with wide eyes.
"I don't know, she didn't say. I'll call her." I did. She picked up right away. "Ange?"
"Bella, you're all right! I was so worried when Billy couldn't find you!" She sounded terrified. I felt bad for inconveniencing her.
"Yes, I'm fine. I'm still with Alice, but on my way home. Ange, what did you tell Billy exactly?" I wasn't mad, but my anxiety was leaking into my tone.
"He called thinking you were here, I told him you weren't and he asked if I knew where you were. I told him you might be with Alice Cullen." My heart sank. Billy knew. Angela heard my sigh. "I'm so sorry, Bella, was I not supposed to say that?"
"No, that's fine Ange. You told the truth." I shouldn't have lied. Actually, I should've lied better. Warning her might have been a good idea, too.
"He sounded upset. But I thought it was because he couldn't find you." My brain was working in overdrive. How to fix this? I needed to get off the phone first.
"Yes, he probably was just worried. I have to go Angela, but thanks anyway. And again, sorry for saying I was with you." How had I been so careless?
"Don't worry, just let me know what happens, ok?" she said and after more apologies, she hung up.
"Fuck." I sighed. Alice stepped on the gas. I was sure she'd heard my conversation.
"You can say that again." I started texting Jake that I was fine and I had lost my cell. "I'll think of something, Bella." She looked determined. I didn't know if I should text Billy or not, calling him was out of the question. He would immediately ask where I was. Then Alice's phone rang. She took it out of her pocket with ease, her control of the steering wheel never faltered.
"What?" Alice said and I immediately tensed. Then I heard his voice and felt even worse.
"Billy Black was here. He doesn't look happy and he's considering going to our house, Alice." I could tell how worried I was because I was able to overlook everything questionable about that sentence and focus on the one part that affected me the most at present. Billy wanted to go to the Cullen's house?
"What do you suggest, then?" Alice calmly asked. Edward answered right away.
"Mike Newton got home three hours ago." My confusion grew at his words. I stared Alice she looked distracted, like she was not looking at anything around her anymore. She was so intent in whatever she was thinking or seeing that I thought of taking over the wheel. Then she looked at the road again, relief clearing her concerned expression.
"It might work, its still the best we have. Meet you there." Edward didn't answer. Alice put away her phone.
"Why does he know Billy was at my house? Or Mike at his house? And what did he mean when he said he wanted to go to your house? How did he-" I asked, staggered by the call. Alice interrupted me.
"You caught that?" she looked impressed and I had no patience for that. I rolled my eyes. "Whatever, there's no time to explain. But this is what we're going to say. You went to your father's home after school. Then, you decided to go visit Mike since he just got back and ended up spending the afternoon with him. You left you cellphone in your truck and that's why you didn't answer. As far as going out with me, you can just tell Billy that Angela was wrong." I frowned it seemed too easy.
"How is that supposed to work if my truck is still at Charlie's? If Billy was there he must have seen it." I should have parked it elsewhere. I'd been so excited that I'd been careless.
"Edward took care of it." I didn't let my mind linger on what that may mean. There was also a big reason why this wouldn't work.
"He'll never believe I was with Mike. It's not like I go out of my way to say good things about him." Alice looked frowned slightly.
"You can tell him that you went to visit him because he wasn't here today. You took him his homework or something. It's a stretch but it might work, it really is our best shot." said Alice. She took an unexpected turn into an isolated road instead of going across town. "Act confident and they will believe you."
"Fine." I looked at my cellphone. It was a message from Jake.
Where are you, are you ok?
Asked Jake. Lying would be easier if I lied to him too. I told him where Alice said I was. His answer wasn't helpful to calm my nerves. It painted quite simply how credible the story was.
WTF? Are you joking?
I groaned as I typed furiously in response.
"We're almost there." Said Alice, turning off her headlights as we returned to civilization. Alice stopped, at incredible speed she got off the car. "Come, Edward is around here." I was reluctant to follow her now, I'd felt him before she said anything. Mike's house was two blocks down. Alice had parked in a small dirt road no one ever went to.
We walked down to the main street and in a concealed small path I saw Edward, standing by my truck. He looked mad as he stared at Alice. When he looked at us, the feeling in my head intensified, I rejected him furiously.
"I know." Alice said with guilt and a streak of stubbornness. Edward hadn't said anything but it was so clear what he was thinking that there was no need for him to speak. I recognized the "I told you so" look that I gave Jake almost every day. When he didn't answer I took advantage of the moment to ask a much needed question.
"What the hell?" I said loudly, as I gestured towards my truck. Edward pried his eyes away from his sister and looked at me in that condescending way he had. His gaze was as intense as ever.
"Jump starting a car is not difficult. Not that it was necessary since you leave a spare key in the sun visor." He said handing showing said key to me, with raised eyebrows. Again, his cocky tone annoyed me. I took the key in a quick, hostile movement. He didn't react to my theatrics in any way. We steadily glared at each other.
"Does that make it ok for you to drive it? And what were you doing at my house?" I was truly outraged. All the anger he got out of me in Biology came back in full force.
"My intervention would've been unnecessary if you hadn't been so careless." he'd moved towards me, and even though he was significantly taller than I was I squared my shoulders, he was just so patronizing. My hands balled up into fists involuntarily. I stepped towards him.
"Who do you think-" I began and Alice moved to stand between us. She gave Edward a look that I didn't quite understand but that was too quick for me to interpret. He gave a step back. Then she looked at me.
"He moved your truck so they wouldn't see it and told us about Billy. It would be a lot harder to fix this without his help. If you don't go, this will be pointless. So go." I didn't move. "Now." I groaned she was right. Not that I wouldn't demand an explanation as soon as possible. I couldn't resist glaring at Edward before I moved; he was already reciprocating the expression.
"Fine." I said and started walking away. Then I stopped before moving too far. "Are you going to be fine?" Edward looked reluctantly amused, which was shocking given his previous mood, he must have a mood disorder. Alice rolled her eyes.
"Yes, just go! Billy will be here ten minutes after you text him." Her confidence encouraged me. I'd better do as she said. Edward crossed his arms over his chest. Now it was his turn to answer to nobody's question.
"I know." He said quietly through gritted teeth but he wasn't speaking to me. Alice looked stubbornly smug. I stopped again. They looked like they couldn't believe I was doing that. Alice raised her arms in a silent question.
"Thanks for everything." I said at a normal volume that I knew they could hear. Alice couldn't help to smile so genuinely that it was as if we weren't in this bad situation. Edward didn't smile but he didn't frown. I took that as all the approval you could get from him. I rang the doorbell. I turned to look at them one more time before Mike opened but they were gone.
"Bella!" I had never seen Mike so surprised in his entire life. He was wearing a gray shirt and ninja turtles pajama bottoms. He smiled widely when he blinked several times and realized I was still there. I contained my groan; I knew that smile too well. He would read too much into this.
"Hi." I said with a smile that hopefully he found compelling. "May I come in?" I was barely done with the question before he answered.
"Yeah, sure!" He said with a shocked tone, I got sidetracked from his expression since I thought I'd heard something growling in the distance. I must be really losing it.
Convincing him to lie for me was shockingly simple. Fortunately, his parents were out, they'd left for dinner. They did that almost every Friday as far as I knew, that's why Mike always wanted to ask me to come over on Fridays. I couldn't believe I was actually here.
"Would you like something to drink, while we wait?" he said as I took off my jacket and threw it over the chair. He ogled me as I did that. Great, now I'd been the one that had come to him. I wonder what sort of ideas he would get from this impromptu reunion, when he usually got his hopes of if I did something extreme like smiling while saying good morning.
"Do you have soda?" He smiled. I felt Edward all around me and I wondered why they hadn't left yet. I hoped they couldn't hear our conversation, I was almost convinced they could if they wanted to. I was trying to be nice to Mike but having them hear it made me uncomfortable.
"Yeah, let me get it. Are you hungry?" I shook my head.
"No, I just had dinner, thank you." I sat down and texted Billy. His reply was immediate.
Stay right there, I'm coming over.
Attempting to appear innocent, I texted him Mike's address and hoped he believed me. Mike came from the kitchen with a tray. Two sodas and some popcorn.
"So why are we lying?" he said with a smile as he opened his soda. I hadn't thought of that. I made something up, borrowing Jessica's plan for the evening and arranging it a bit.
"I just needed an alibi. I went to Seattle this afternoon when Billy asked me specifically not to. So I told him I was with you instead. He's coming over now to see if it was a lie." I said in a tone I recognized in most of my classmates whenever they referred to their authority figures. Deprecating and defiant. Mike laughed.
"Bella," he said with a grin as he shook his head "I thought you were one of the good ones. What was so important in Seattle that you just had to go?" I froze. I got a text. I looked down at it and to stall.
You went to a rock concert at Columbia City Theater.
The text said.
I texted Alice in return. I momentarily tried to remember when I'd given her my number. Then I thought of my truck parked outside. I guess getting a number was nothing.
"There was this concert, an old friend asked me and I didn't think about it I told her yes." Mike smiled widely, probably because I admitted said friend was female. "I just had to go, you know?" He laughed.
"Look at you! Lying to go to a concert in another town. It's a whole new side of you Bella, I feel like I don't know you anymore." he said this as if it was a really good thing. Then he put his hand on my hand and I knew why. He wondered what else could change. I smiled and took my soda as an excuse to remove my hand. I felt awkward and embarrassed. Edward's presence intensified in my head. I pushed him back with annoyance.
"I'm the same, Mike. I just had a moment of spontaneity that has obviously gone really wrong." This was true. Mike shook his head.
"No, Bella, you can get away with this." He patted the hand that was resting on my lap. "I'll help." He said with a wink. I was already holding my soda so I had no excuse to move my wand away, blissfully, a text relieved me from his touch.
Billy will be here in one minute.
I found it odd that she should feel the need to tell me that. It did nothing to appease my anxiety. However, I appreciated the gesture, anyone else would've just left by now. But she was still out there, making sure I was fine.
Thanks for your help, Alice. You're a good friend.
I texted back quickly. I heard a car pull over. Mike was talking about his day with an eager smile. He rarely needed me when he started talking, he went on with minimum encouragement. I got an answer from Alice.
My sister had to go, but I'll send this message to her. Billy is here.
I stared at the words in my phone. The bell rang once I finished reading it and Mike sprung from the couch with a confident smile. Despite my dread for the upcoming discussion that was to come and my dismay for Mike's newfound confidence in our inexistent romantic relationship, my mind was elsewhere. Then I saw Billy's expression. One thing was clear, I had underestimated his aversion to the Cullens.
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