14. Law of Inertia
The hours were long for Jacob. He had listened all night as the Cullens, except for the bulky one, had discussed possibilities and strategies. Jasper had offered suggestions, and from what Jacob had read in his mind, he had served in a war in his time; had been quite the warrior himself. Interesting though it was, Jacob could not help wanting to pull back from the violence and horror of Jasper's memories.
Another thing he had learned was about Jasper's ability to alter moods. The mood control had not helped though, when in the middle of the night they were discussing the situation as though he was not even there. Jacob felt he might as well not have even been there for all the help he could give. The plan always included one of the others guarding Bella…how the wolves could assist. Jacob was tired of it – without a word, he slipped into Edward's room and locked the door. He even laughed at the absurdity of it all. Edward's room – some escape it was. Even if he could not hear their questioning voices below, their thoughts still invaded his consciousness. Jacob did not want to hear their regret about his new situation with Bella. He did not want their pity.
Alice's vision had been the worst. And even when he had not been recalling it by himself, somehow it would creep back into her thoughts.
Simple, but devastating, the vision had first come to her the day before when Bella had put her arms around him in front of her house. With a single rose in her hand, Alice was kneeling before a gravestone. The sight of its etchings tore into Jacob's heart with steel claws.
Isabella Marie Swan
Beloved daughter and friend.
September 13, 1987 – June 3, 2006
Rest in peace.
It was a week after her funeral, and in her vision, Alice's shoulders shook, and her lips quivered as she placed the rose atop Bella's grave. She blamed herself. Jasper appeared behind her, setting a hand on her shoulder.
Jacob shook his head to clear the sight from his mind. Alice had seen the outcome, had prevented it from happening, but the devastation of the image had not been enough to keep himself from releasing his nostrils, putting his arms around her, inhaling that scent...nearly putting an end to her life. At once, he allowed the vision to flood his mind, his senses, so that he could feel the pain, the regret, the loss. He smelled the earthy smell of the grave, felt the whisper of sprinkles on his head. For Bella's sake, he needed to remember this; it was necessary to think about this every second.
Meanwhile, the regrets for his near attack pounded away at him like a hammer.
Nobody trusted him.
Bella feared him.
And Jacob feared himself.
He had to overcome this; Jacob was determined. The darkness of the room faded until the brightness of dawn's light shone through the window, illuminating Edward's wall collection of CD's. As the sun rose higher in the sky, he heard the busy whispers of Jasper and Alice getting ready for school. Carlisle was preparing for his day at the hospital, and Esme was compiling a shopping list of art supplies for her upcoming project. Jacob rose from his crouched position on the floor, determined not to let their mistrust deter him and moved to Edward's closet. After choosing a pair of dark jeans and the most casual shirt he could find, Jacob headed for the shower and mentally prepared himself for class.
Jasper and Alice were long gone, and Jacob waited until school was in session. This was the first time Jacob had been in public since he had been in Edward's body, and he was not sure how or if he would be affected by being around so many people. A ten mile run to a vampire or even to a wolf was like a jog across a field, and before he knew it he was setting foot onto the parking lot of Forks High School. It wasn't long before he was bombarded by a myriad of voices and thoughts. They were noisy, scrambled, confused as bits of hundreds of ideas, fragments, and notions threatened to drown his consciousness. Taking an unnecessary breath, Jacob cleared his head, focusing on the task at hand. He was still at a loss for Edward's schedule, and with that goal in mind, he headed for the office.
A few minutes later…
She smelled good. Not a perfumey smell, but rather an "I'm hungry, and a cheeseburger sounds good right now" kind of smell. Her scent was not nearly as drastic or tempting, and Jacob found himself able to open his mouth and speak without much trouble.
So handsome, but so odd. Ms. Cope's thoughts pierced through Jacob. He was not used to being mentally accosted by older ladies. "So, you want a printout of your schedule?" she asked.
She stood there for a moment, apparently pondering this. The school year's almost over. He already knows where all of his classes are. Such a fine-looking boy, such a well-developed body…
Jacob took a step back. The woman was curling a chubby finger around a lock of her short dark hair. And Jacob found this flirtatious gesture very disturbing. "I misplaced mine, like I said, and I want to have a copy of it…you know…."
"For memory's sake," she said doubtfully, repeating his earlier words. This is all very strange. He's so charming, though, with this little boy uncertainty. I wonder if he's a virgin…
A purposeful cough erupted from Jacob's lips, hoping to distract the office manager from her improper thoughts, and he wished that this yummy cheeseburger woman would hurry up and comply.
"Oh, dear. Are you okay, dear?"
Covering his mouth and coughing, he nodded. "Yes, the printout, please?" he said between coughs.
She turned her attention to her computer screen, and a few clicks later the quick buzzing sound of the printer droned out behind her. Her fingers snapped it up, but before she handed it to him, she paused.
"Why aren't you in class right now, Edward?" Oops. Should've asked that first.
"I woke up late because I was up all night with this cough," he lied. He began to cough again, exaggeratedly for her benefit.
"Are you sure you're feeling well enough to be here today?"
Now, that appeared to be the question of the decade.
"Yes, Ma'am," Jacob said, resuming a normal pattern of breathing. In anticipation he watched as she scribbled something on a pink pad of paper and placed it on top of the other sheet. With the printout finally in hand, his eyes studied the schedule, and he thanked cheeseburger woman as he left…and tried to ignore as he walked out that she was looking at his butt.
8:40 a.m. – Period 1 - English
Bella heaved a sigh as she glanced at the empty desk beside her. This was only the second day that Edward hadn't been there, but it reminded her of that week-long absence he had taken after their first meeting. What a mess, she thought, longing for the routine they had become so accustomed to. Her morning had begun with Alice on her doorstep, insisting on driving her to school even after Bella told her she could drive herself. Despite her protests, she found herself in the backseat of Alice's Porsche with Jasper in the front passenger seat smiling back at her. And now Bella was anticipating this would be a very long day.
Forcing her eyes back on the rough draft on her desk, her fingers absently picked up a pencil, and she tried to muster up the enthusiasm to edit her work. She should not have been expecting him to walk through that door, but her eyes did not want to believe her mind's logic. Her gaze moved as it had more than a dozen times to the entrance of the classroom.
Despite what Edward had told her on the phone yesterday, it was not a good idea for him to come to school. She had even told him as much, but now she seemed to be sitting there…waiting for him to materialize, and before turning her gaze back to her essay, her breath caught at the sight of him as he appeared at the door. Edward's beautiful face was serious as he handed Mr. Davis his tardy slip, and his eyes zoomed in on Bella's, not leaving her for one moment as he took the desk beside her.
"You're here," she said, her mouth hanging open.
His brows pulled together, and his lips remained tightly pressed. He nodded his head in response.
It was both reassuring and disconcerting to Bella. He did not have to be here, yet he was. She was happy to see him, thrilled that he was not giving up on this impossible situation between them.
"Are you doing better today?" she whispered hopefully.
He looked pained, and the smile that was on his lips looked one hundred percent forced.
Mr. Davis cleared his throat, reminding them to get back to work, and Bella gestured for him to open his book. And though she did not want to worry about his sensitivities, the force of his stare felt like an oncoming train. Bella turned to him, finding that amber gaze fixed on her…in a very disturbing way, resembling a desperately hungry statue.
She wrote on the side of her notebook paper and angled it toward him so he could see it.
You have to pretend to breathe, remember?
At this, he opened his lips, and she observed the rise and fall of his chest. And more disturbingly, Bella saw his irises blacken. He leaned away from her, and she saw his fingernails bite into the wood of the desk, chipping away small bits.
She bit her lip, and troubled by this feeling of déjà vu, Bella could see that he was holding himself back, that his face looked strained, his eyes focused. He looked…thirsty. And before she could let the wave of fear envelop her, Alice appeared in the classroom out of nowhere, and the door swung closed without Bella having witnessed it being opened. Alice's eyes looked like a mad woman as she searched for her target and locked onto the surprise in Edward's eyes.
"May I help you?" Mr. Davis asked, having looked up from his grade book to find her standing there at the front of the classroom.
"Yes. I just need to speak to my brother," she said quickly. "It's an emergency," she added, her tone filled with distress as she turned her wide eyes to Edward.
Rising from the desk, Mr. Davis pointed to Edward in the back. "Mr. Cullen, please join your sister in the hallway."
Alice must have seen something – that would be her only purpose for bursting into the classroom the way she had. Bella's heart sank as the alarmed expression on Edward's face replaced the urgent, hungry one that had been there just moments before. She turned back to her essay as the sinking dread filled her being. Edward should not have come to school.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Alice demanded, trying to keep herself from screaming at him there in the empty hallway. She closed her eyes, concentrating fiercely on the vision in her mind. The newspaper headline had chased the Cullens back to Denali. Chief Investigates Cause of Class Slaughter at Forks High.
"I was just trying to see…."
Alice cut him off, "Trying to see what? How long you could go before attacking her there in front of the entire class? And what about all those innocent kids?" Never mind the tragedy with Bella for a second. You being here is putting us all in danger. Don't you understand?
His head was bowed in shame.
You were supposed to stay home. I have to be able to trust you, Edward, at least that you will do the right thing. "Go home. I'll call Jasper, and he'll go with you."
He shook his head. "No. You don't need to do that. I'll go."
She nodded. "I'll get your things." Alice watched as he trudged his way down the hall at a depressed human pace. She felt bad for having to pull him out of class, for speaking to him this way, for ordering him to leave, but she understood that the risk he was taking was too great. Standing at the main entrance, Alice waited until he was out of sight before heading back to class.
9:52 a.m. - Period 2 – Economics
Determined to try again, Jacob entered the second period class. The entire class's attention turned from the overhead screen at the front of the room to his face. Once again, the variety of smells hit him like a smorgasbord as he stepped through the threshold. Each student's unique scent contributed like a buffet of tempting delights. As before, Bella's stood out from the rest, like lobster among a selection of greasy fried chicken and cold pasta salad. She looked anxious, sitting up in her seat, and he turned to Ms. Gutierrez, handing her another tardy slip.
Jacob had learned how very easy it was to manipulate cheeseburger woman in the office. One smile, and she was like cheesy putty in his hands. The economics teacher had appeared innocent enough, late in her years - old enough to retire even. Her face brightened as he entered, and as she smiled and gestured for him to take his seat, he heard the thoughts in her mind.
I'm going to miss that boy when he graduates.
He felt relieved to hear the clean sentiment. Sweet, older woman - she reminded him of one of those grandmotherly types, not unlike Old Ida…
I'll bet he's every bit as good in bed as he looks.
At this, Jacob turned, jaw to the floor and looked to the older woman, the disgust clear on his face. Her expression changed to alarm, she cleared her throat, and turned her attention to the lesson on the overhead.
Jacob shook off the horror of that last contemplation, trying to block out the onslaught of curious reflections of his classmates. Their thoughts, as the other class's had, ranged from mildly disturbing to insulting, to downright rude. Apparently, Edward did not have many friends. But, none of the musings were as outrageous as that of Ms. Gutierrez, he thought, making his way toward a very concerned-looking Bella in the last row. This appeared to be their seating arrangement.
He took the seat beside her and allowed Alice's vision to penetrate his brain as Bella's scent teased and trickled up into his nostrils, eliciting that painful burn in his throat. "Hi again," he said, his tone sheepish.
"What are you doing here? I thought that Alice…." Bella stopped, not wanting to finish that sentence.
His nose twitched as a cloud of her aroma invaded his air space…taunting him. At that moment, it was easy to block out the thoughts of his classmates, of the entire student body…easy to only focus on one thing… "I'm trying, Bella. I have to try. Please."
Ms. Gutierrez cleared her throat to get their attention and then redirected them back to the bulleted notes on the overhead.
Blocking any incoming air, Jacob looked to Bella with pleading eyes. He hated seeing the fear in her eyes. He wanted, no, needed this chance to gain her trust. A slight nod from her indicated her cooperation, which was good… until she whipped the length of her hair around to her other shoulder…and it was at that moment when he had decided to breathe.
Alice sat up in her chair, shaken by the image of the headline again. Struck by the shock and horror of the situation, she sprung from her chair, restraining her speed from vampire to rapid human. Without a look to acknowledge the teacher, she simply shouted out that she had to use the ladies room, disappearing into the hallway for the second time that day. Fortunately, no one was around to see her flit almost invisibly to her brother's class, and in seconds, she burst through the door.
"May I help you?" Ms. Gutierrez asked, her tone revealing her annoyance at this interruption.
If she thought my interrupting her class was bad…Alice focused on Edward at the back of the room. "I apologize, but I need to speak to Edward. It's urgent."
With a nod, Ms. Gutierrez gestured for Edward to come to the front of the room, and Alice could see the dread written across his face. He looked as though he had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. And he took his time stepping out of the door to join her.
Her amber eyes met his, furious. "Are you kidding me? This isn't funny, Edward." Once again, she brought the headline to the forefront of her mind, but this time as she scrolled the article, her thoughts highlighted how Edward Cullen was suspected and the whole family had disappeared. She then showed him a gathering of people dressed in black clothing, huddled around a gravestone. Bella's mother was crying as her stepfather kept one arm around her to comfort, and Charlie's devastated expression as the preacher spoke tore into Alice's heart.
Edward looked remorseful as before, head still bowed, but offered no explanation.
Let's go. I'm taking you home.
"But, what if you're wrong?" he asked suddenly.
"Was I?" Or were you not fighting to restrain yourself back there before I interrupted? Even now, his face looked tense, as though he were in pain. "What if I'm right?"
"I had it under control…I was starting to."
"Listen, Edward. Just because my visions are limited doesn't mean I can't see what the effects of your actions are. Now, please, I'm not going to baby sit you for the rest of the school day – you're going home if I have to drive you myself."
Jacob held his stance. It was a big threat for a little vampire, and he had no intention of moving. He should have considered that this petite woman had some moves, appearing behind him and yanking his ear toward the entrance until he agreed to walk with her. And that was how he came to find himself back in the passenger side of the Porsche on the way back to the Cullen residence.
This was infuriating to Jacob. He knew that if she would just have let him be, he would have been fine…visions or no visions. Now, back home and with a stern warning not to return, Jacob waited a few minutes until he could no longer hear the sports car's tires ripping into the dirt as it made its way back onto the main road. As his shoes took to the dirt road once again, his regret for his behavior had turned into anger. He hated not having control of these irrational urges. He hated not being trusted, and worst of all, he hated being told what to do by that petite vampire woman. And the hundreds of voices that buzzed around in his head at school like an uncontrollable swarm didn't help either. It was then that he decided he needed to try something new.
Period 3 – 10:46 a.m. – Physics
With chin in hand and elbow on desk, Bella could hardly concentrate on the antiquated film the class was watching on Newton's Law of Inertia. Absently she compared the car in the video accelerating forward to Edward's vampire nature. The car would continue forward in motion unless blocked by an unbalanced force. His drastic thirst for her blood, although horrible and tragic, was natural for vampires, and if Alice had not been there as that unbalanced force to stop him from crashing, he would have succeeded. These attempts he was making to be with her, in effect, had been like slamming himself into a brick wall, much like the car in the film. And as much as she wanted to appreciate his efforts, it only escalated her fear. Fear that things would never be the same again between them. Fear that he could not be trusted to control himself. Fear that she would always fear him.
The grey light from outside shone through as the door cracked open, and she squinted to see in the dimness. Her heart pounded as she found Edward, once again handing a tardy slip to the teacher at the front of the room. She felt tired and angry and hurt. It was ridiculous to think that just as before, he would take his seat, and then shortly after, Alice would burst in again once more to save her.
He took the seat next to her, and Bella did not even want to look into his handsome face, did not want to chance seeing the darkening of his eyes, or the painful restraint that would undoubtedly shadow his features. She could feel his eyes on her though and could not help but steal a sideways glance. He gestured for something to write with, and as the narration of the movie continued, he put down words on a sheet of her lined notebook paper.
Hi, Bella. Sorry about before.
His face managed to look composed, but at the same time, he also appeared to be holding his breath.
She shook her head, tired of this and unwilling to hold back her frustration.
What are you doing here? Bella wrote back and handed him the paper. Quietly, the two continued this back and forth.
I had to talk to you.
You could've called me.
He shook his head, scribbling quickly on the page and then placed it back on her desk.
No, not over the phone.
At this she heaved a sigh, and her eyes turned back to the video they were supposed to be watching. He took the paper and wrote down his next communication, but this time his hand remained on top.
Bella, you're in danger.
Bella did not even meet his eyes as she penned her response.
I'm not joking.
Neither am I.
He now looked flustered, but his lips remained shut.
I came to tell you about the intruder.