"Chris!" I heard my name being shouted as Edward parked the car. In the front seat, I could hear Bella giggling and saw a passing glance with Alice. I rolled my eyes and pushed open the rear seat door before Edward had even put the car into park.
I didn't even have my bag out before arms were around my shoulders hugging me tightly. I didn't need to turn around to know who it was. Marie has a very distinct scent of strawberries. I think it's her shampoo or something…besides, she is the only one here at school besides Alice who would randomly hug me.
"Hi, Marie" I replied pulling my bag off the floor of the Volvo "have a good holiday?"
She looked at me with an accusing look "or not?"
"Where were you all summer?" she said quietly her voice shaking "I tried calling your cell phone but it was out of service and when I tried calling your house, your sisters said you were on vacation and wasn't sure when you'd be back and I tried asking Bella Swan, but she hadn't seen you all summer either!"
I glanced back at Bella who shrugged innocently. I know Bella knew where I had really been all summer since she was at our house practically every day when I was home and the days that I was not home.
But all the other humans were supposed to hear that I had gone to Scotland for the summer to visit my family there.
Actually, that was what everyone was supposed to be told. Apparently, Marie had been left out of the loop. I sighed and glared at my brother who also shrugged might as well keep up the lie that was supposed to be told.
"I was in Scotland, with my aunt and uncle. My older cousin graduated from medical school and they wanted me to be there to help them celebrate."
Now Marie smiled
"Oh, ok." She paused "I was…just worried. I mean my dad said your whole family was gone on vacation, but then your parents came back but you didn't."
"That's true, my family went with me to Scotland for the graduation, I just stayed an extra couple of weeks. Chill Marie," I said, my own grin widening "I brought you back something."
I would have loved to have gone back to England for summer vacation and actually that was the plan for the whole family to go for a few weeks in Europe.
Unfortunately, England was experiencing the sunniest summer it had experienced in decades, which Alice predicted a week before we were flying out. There wouldn't be enough cloud cover the whole three weeks so the trip was canceled. Instead, we took a three week long "camping" trip into Canada.
First time I had ever been to Nova Scotia, which is basically a Canadian Scotland. It was like someone had taken all the parts about my homeland that best represented it and threw them onto the North American continent. It was quite a trip and no one the wiser would realize I had gotten Marie's souvenir, a very soft cashmere sweater from Nova Scotia, not Glasgow.
I pulled it out from the backseat and handed it to her. It was still wrapped in the brown packaging the woman at the store had wrapped it in, after assuring me that the materials used to weave it came only from the finest ewes in the highlands.
Surprised that I had gotten her a gift, Marie carefully opened the package and gasped at the sweater inside.
"Chris…this is beautiful!" she exclaimed, "it must have cost you a fortune." She looked at me and I saw tears welling up in her eyes. Oh, bloody hell I made her cry? Quickly I looked at Edward for a clue about how to handle this and he simply wrapped an arm around Bella and gave me a sly grin.
Alice and Bella, however, were more helpful. Both had the same look on their faces telling me it was ok and that crying was a good thing.
Hoping that they were right I gently patted Marie's shoulder
"I hope it fits ok, it fit Alice perfectly and you guys are about the same size." Without waiting for a second more, Marie slid the sweater over her first day of school blouse, from the looks of it I had been right that her and Alice were about the same size.
"Chris I love it! It's so soft and warm!"
"That's cashmere for you." I explained, "there's nothing on earth that's softer or warmer than the wool of a highland sheep."
"This is real cashmere?" she exclaimed "Chris that's a lot of money. You didn't have to spend any money on me!"
Crap…I had been hoping that Marie had only a limited knowledge of real cashmere and wouldn't know that while it's the softest and warmest stuff out there, its also not the cheapest.
Her sweater alone cost me $200 and that's cheap for real cashmere. Alice bought her own that was nearly $500 and we're not even going to touch Rosalie's sweater, scarf and purse set.
"Um, if I may draw your attention little freshmen, the bell is about to ring," Alice spoke up, interrupting Marie's protests and tears. From her body language, I could tell she was moved by my apparently thoughtful gift, but also mad that I had spent money on her like that.
I sighed, I will never understand girls…never.
But Alice was right, the bell was about to ring and Marie and I had to find our way to the auditorium to get our schedules and meet up with "our" friends. Our in quotes because they are more Marie's friends than mine.
With a knowing grin from Alice and Edward and an eye roll from me, Marie and I found the auditorium in a separate building.
A welcome speech was given by the principal and distribution of school maps, guidelines for what was expected of students and a reminder to utilize our senior friend we met the previous year.
Considering I lived with mine, that wasn't an issue, but my plan was to become good friends with Bella's friend Angela that way Marie had four seniors to look out for her, one of them that was bound to by the school's decision. Alice and Bell had already promised to help her out indiscreetly as much as possible, which left Jessica Stanley, Marie's actual senior friend and Angela who I hoped would continue to look out for her as she had before.
As soon as that was taken care of, our schedules were passed out. Big difference between high school and middle, no lockers here in high school, the school expected us to carry fewer supplies and since we're allowed to carry our backpacks from class to class this made perfect sense.
As soon as we got our schedules, Marie grabbed my hand, ignoring the coldness of it as she attempted to drag me to where her friends have crowded around, studying their own schedules.
I didn't fight her as she dragged me, but I did move cautiously as we neared them. Marie may have accepted me, as had her friend Sarah, but the others still appeared cautious. This was confirmed when Patrick looked up, he was excited to see Marie, but froze when he realized she was holding my hand. I studied Patrick's face he likes Marie, more than just friendship that I tried to maintain with her. I could tell that Marie wasn't oblivious to this, but she liked me. I had a feeling that if I wasn't in the picture, Patrick would have first cuts.
This was something to consider for next year, I had to decide if I should continue to interfere with these relationships that might be. I know I wasn't doing it on purpose, wasn't my fault Marie liked me, but I knew what I could do to put it to an end and give the actual contenders a chance.
"H…h…hi Marie!" Patrick stuttered before he glanced at me "Chris…" The tenor in his voice wasn't cruel, it was a complete surprise.
"Nice to see you guys," I answered
Last year none of us were overly friendly to one another, the same had been for sixth grade through to eighth. Paul had acted as kind of a spokesman if you will for the guys' last spring when my English class heard my memoir for the first time.
At Marie's party, I was welcomed, but no one acted all buddy, buddy to me, no emails were exchanged and no promises to hang out during the summer. But I think the fact that Marie has accepted me has really impacted her peers, who have known her since pre-school.
"What's your schedule look like?" Sarah asked both of us. Sarah has always amused me, she likes me on the same level as Marie does, but her love and desire to protect Marie outweighs her own feelings and is more of a friend to me than any of our classmates.
"American History, first period." I answered glancing at my schedule "and Phys Ed second." I made a face not even bothering to hide my dislike of that.
Gym is torture for most students, but for a vampire, it is our version of a living hell, since we can never use full strength we have to appear less than capable of playing sports, even though we are perfectly able to play. If gym in high school is as bad as middle school and as Emmett warned me, this year was already at sucking point.
"Ew!" Sarah replied, "who wants gym at 9:30 in the morning."
"You apparently." Paul spoke up pointing at her schedule "you, me, and Chris has the same gym period. I hope Tonys not in our class if we have to play dodge ball he's psychotic, we're gonna die."
"I don't think you have to play dodge ball in high school." I spoke up "at least my brothers didn't say anything about it."
"That's right!" Jenna exclaimed, "Chris would know he's got inside sources."
"Uh, I didn't say that. I said my brothers didn't mention anything, that's not to say that there is dodge-ball and they're not telling me for humor sake. None of my brothers are particularly reliable sources."
"No, they are not." Sara added, she looked at me panicky for a moment "nothing against your brothers Chris, just-"
"Siblings in general" I finished for her, Sarah's older sister is in the same year as Bella, Edward, and Alice "trust me I know."
By the time lunch rolled around I was perfectly happy with my schedule, minus of course the obvious of gym.
My American history class would be interesting and I already respected the teacher more than I ever could've respected Jones, gym I was surrounded by most of Marie's friends minus Marie herself and Patrick, both had the later gym period which Janet, Anthony, Craig and other people I could do without were a part of.
I felt bad that Marie was stuck with them, but I knew Patrick would look out for her, besides, none of the aforementioned people was ever mean to Marie, at least not to my knowledge, how anyone could be nasty to Marie escapes me. Her gym mates just weren't my favourite people in the world I didn't trust them and to me Marie was way to trusting.
Calculus I could handle no problem. I'm not an expert at mathematics, but I'm not bad at it either so I would easily survive calculus this semester.
The English teacher had been given a heads up about me by Mrs. Brown and I think he was actually excited to meet me and thankfully, all the kids from my English class the previous year were in this one as well a very small class. It was considered a senior level class even though there were no seniors with us, it was just taught at the same level as Edward, Alice, and Bella's English class by the same teacher.
After lunch would come the interesting subjects to prepare for, health and Spanish. I don't think I have ever had a health science class so this would be interesting and the last time I took Spanish Carter was in office and the Berlin wall was still up.
Walking into the cafeteria I met my first real challenge.
Where did I sit?
I spotted my brother and sister as well as Bella surrounded by a group of seniors with some sort of division between them and my family and Bella. Marie came up behind me a tray full of food, as I was contemplating and nudged me in the back
"Where were you going to sit?"
Truth be told I wanted to sit with my family I had waited three years to get to the high school to be with my brother and sister, but I saw Marie's friends gathering at another table not far from the "senior" table.
It would be along school year, my first day, I was sitting at the senior table, I grinned to myself, someone had to pick up where Emmett had left off, might as well be me, I already freaked most other students out with my eyes alone.
"Actually I'm going to sit with my brother and sister, do you want to join me?" Marie looked over at my family quickly
"Chris it's all seniors they won't let you sit there!"
"If they won't then they won't. You never know until you try." I replied giving her a reassuring grin I had to get Marie at least near Angela. I was only in three of Marie's classes with most of our classes in completely different buildings; lunch would be a perfect time.
I walked over there and I was not oblivious to the odd stares as I headed towards a senior table. I could hear snickering and comments coming from Janet, Anthony, Craig, and their lunch cohorts, but I've gotten very good at ignoring people.
Alice had this huge grin on her face when I reached the table; she leaped to her feet and pulled me into a huge hug.
Instead of comments and snickering all I could feel from the seniors were stares. Most could obviously peg me as a Cullen hiding that fact is nearly impossible not that I would anyways. But the look of terror on one of the guys, Mike I think his name was, was hilarious he looked like a deer in headlights at the prospect of now three Cullens sitting with them.
Alice grabbed my hand and pulled me to the empty seat next to her, where the previous year, Jasper had occupied.
"Come on Marie you too!" she called grabbing her hand and plopping us down in the respectful chairs. I tried to fight my grin as I realized that Alice had plunked Marie right down next to Angela who sat on the invisible line dividing the table. Cullen supporters on one side those kind of nervous around us on the other. "So how have classes been?" Alice chirped trying to break the awkward silence.
"Fine," I answered for both of us, now it was Marie who looked like a deer in headlights and I could read her discomfort. Thankfully it began to fade when Angela spoke up
"It's a little nerve-racking at first, but you guys will get used to it and we'll be here to give you a hand if you need it." she paused and leaned over to me "you must be Chris, my name is Angela."
I indiscreetly glanced at Edward as Angela held out her hand and with a quick nod from Edward I shook her hand.
"I've heard a lot about you Angela, nice to meet you." Under the table, Bella kicked my leg for some reason, but I saw her face contort in pain, luckily she hadn't kicked me all that hard because she might have broken her foot if she had. "Thank you for looking out for Marie last spring."
Marie ducked her head embarrassed and Bella raised an eyebrow, to return that I grinned slyly at her.
One of the most important things I had learned about Bella is that there was one surefire way to get her to stop being mad, at least at me. When I give my half smile that made sure my parents never stayed mad at me for very long Bella stops being mad at the few times she has gotten mad at me.
Those times are mainly when I have played real-world grand theft auto and kidnapped her truck to work on it. In my defense, the driver side door is ready to fall off she keeps slamming it shut so much and that truck is a classic that needs to be worked on and preserved by a professional, namely me and Rosalie.
"I didn't do anything," Angela replied humbly. She looked around and noticed all the odd looks from her peers "oh let me introduce you guys, that's Mike, Jess, Eric, Tyler, Connor, that's Lauren over there, and this is Ben."
Out of all the seniors Angela pointed out, only Ben leaned over Angela and Marie to shake my hand.
"Good to meet you, Chris," I was more than a little surprised at that, but I returned the shake "wow, you guys must have just been in Bert's classroom." I raised an eyebrow "Mr. Bertie's room? Your hand is freezing and that room is always twenty degrees below the rest of the school." He grinned "its not bad for the summer when we've got the little kids in there for day camp, but it sucks in the winter. Bring layers your gonna need it."
I let out a quiet sigh, complaints about how oddly cold our hands are is a constant for us vampires and its always refreshing when the human comes up with their own explanation without any assistance from us.
"So are the rest of your classes going all right?" Angela asked leaning closer to us she paused "I heard you guys are a part of the high-level English is that right?" We nodded "we'll probably have the same projects to work on so if you guys need any help or if you want to have a study group let us know."
I exchanged a grin with Edward who was trying not to laugh
"Sounds good thank you, Angela."
"He usually starts out with Romeo and Juliet so just be aware."
Marie's eyes lit up
"That's one of my favorite plays!" she exclaimed, but kind of slunk back down in her seat when everyone looked at her.
Sensing her discomfort Angel, Alice, and Bella dove right in discussing the original story and even comparing the few movies that were made based on it. Including one that was made in like the 90s. I'm sorry but modern day actors speaking in Shakespearian lingo whilst toting around 9 mm instead of swords does not good Shakespeare make, poor William probably rolled over in his grave the minute the film started. And considering how many times I was subjected to it by Alice and Rosalie, I was not in a hurry to revisit that particular past.
I exchanged another look with Edward who lowered his voice
"Everything going ok?"
"So far so good." I paused and leaned closer to my brother "why are you expecting an issue?"
he shook his head
"No of course not, you know Esme though, she was nervous for your first day of high school like she normally is and asked that I continually ask you throughout the day how things are going."
I rolled my eyes
"Mum in panic mode, lovely." In my opinion, there are few things that are scarier then Esme acting like an overprotective parent. Picture a mother bear if you will defending her cubs and you have a minor example of Esme when it comes to protecting us.
"Hey in her defense you haven't been in high school in almost thirty years."
"Fifteen, but whose counting," I countered
"Fine, fifteen, but the last time you were in high school that guidance councilor thought you should be tested for what ADHD?"
"No ADD." I replied "and he was an idiot, Carlisle said so himself."
"An idiot yes, but an idiot that had had some say in your future."
"Blah," I replied "I'm fine, will you please reassure Esme when we get home? She won't believe me but she'll always trust Professor Xavier."
Edward gave me a little shove and grinned. I glanced over at Marie and was satisfied to see that she was perfectly at ease talking to Angela, Bella, and Jessica Stanley who had sprung into the conversation with the mention of Leonardo Di whatever.
The rest of the day progressed much as the early portion had, health class was going to be either really interesting or really annoying and only one period to go by, I couldn't decide.
Spanish on the other hand, it was going to be exactly like French, both languages I'm pretty fluent in as well as some Italian, French more so then Spanish and Italian but the languages are so similar the only decision I had to make was whether to show the teacher that I'm fluent, or sit back and just skate through class.