"You've got mail," Emmett screamed at me as I bounded down the stairs. "It's on the table."
I shrugged and made a beeline for the table picking up the envelope and noticing the return address. The letter was from the University of Alaska Southeast. "That was quick. "
I flipped the envelope over and then glared up Emmett. "It's open."
"Talk to your mind-reader boyfriend" Emmett said putting his hands up in mock surrender.
He was upstairs but I didn't have to speak to loud for him to hear me and in a second he was at my side.
"Oh, just read it." he said chuckling.
I pulled out the letter, and a folded schedule of courses.
"Congratulations," he said before I could read anything. "Your first acceptance."
"Seriously." I said scanning the letter "Cool. I got accepted."
"We should talk about tuition." Edward said
"I've got some money saved up" I replied. This was an age old conversation. Edward trying to convince me to let the Cullens pay for college and me telling him where to shove it.
"I'm pretty sure my savings account is bigger than yours" he replied making me roll my eyes.
"Well I have other things that are bigger so shush" I said smiling
Emmett boomed with laughter and I could hear Jasper upstairs cackling. Edward looked non too pleased
"My dick" I added just to be difficult "In case you didn't understand I was talking about my dick"
The laughter got louder – I could hear Alice joining in.
"Yeah I got that" Edward deadpanned rolling his eyes.
"Just making sure" I shrugged "Come on. We've got school. Let's go vamp boy"
Things were different now but pretty much the same. Edward and I was closer than ever – hardly ever physically apart and yet we didn't get on each other's nerve. The other Cullens were more than accommodating especially now that I lived with them. Emmett was his natural childish self all the time and Jasper was one of the most easy going guys I've met. Alice loved that she had someone to play dress up with and Rosalie wasn't as much of a bitch as she would like people to believe. It was a shame that people didn't get to see the real Cullens.
The wolves were a different story. I hadn't spoken to any of them since we came back from Italy. As far as I knew Sam had bound them to the rez, commanding them that they never leave. The council overruled me being Alpha and officially gave the title to Sam. It helped that I never contested it. I doubt that Sam would be able to act all "Alpha" if I stepped foot on the rez. There was a whole ritual that had to be done – tribal words to be said, a dance and other things that I just don't have time for – but I was not going on the rez to do any ritual so Sam can take what he gets.
Edward was still out for blood after hearing that Sam pushed me off the cliff. My current goal was to keep those two apart. They didn't need to fight – not that I had any doubt that Edward would win – but it would cause an all-out war between the vamps and the shifters. Right now we are at am impasse and it worked.
School was good, living with Edward and his family was working out. The Volturi was leaving us alone for now and there was no more signs of Victoria. We were scheduled for unnecessary drama to occur but I can't say that I'm angered it has not.
"Hey wait," Emmett called out, "This was under the door" he said handing me another envelope.
It had no name on it but the handwriting looked familiar. I shrugged and opened the letter while Edward leaned over my shoulder to read it as well.
I don't know why you're ignoring me and hiding behind your vampire boyfriend like we're in second grade. I just want to talk to you . I know you still have questions. I know you think I ratted you out to the vamps but I don't see you being friends with your kind either so you of all people should understand it's complicated. Look, I just want to talk without your bodyguard around okay. Just talk.
For what it's worth, Sorry.
Edward growled and it made me laugh cause it was absolutely cute how jealous he got over anything to do with Beau.
"This guy sells you out and thinks he could just say sorry and everything would be okay?" Edward spat
"Look, I'm not talking to Beau. I don't need that negative okay. Things are good. Real good. Just ignore him and ignore this letter." I said throwing it away
"Well he needs to learn how to take a hint" Edward said "How the hell did he know you were here anyway?"
"I could always help" Emmett said flexing his muscles
"Thanks Hercules" I said laughing at Emmett "but we'll be okay. No breaking of bones needed"
Emmett shrugged "If you change your mind"
"I know where you live" I laughed rolling my eyes pulling Edward towards the door "Let's go to school"
I felt oddly excited as I walked from toward the cafeteria. It was the atmosphere of freedom that hung over the entire campus. School was winding down, and, for the senior class especially, there was a perceptible thrill in the air.
Freedom was so close it was touchable, taste-able. Signs of it were everywhere. Posters crowded together on the cafeteria walls, and the trashcans wore a colorful skirt of spilled-over fliers: reminders to buy yearbooks, class rings, and announcements; deadlines to order graduation gowns, hats, and tassels; neon- bright sales pitches - the juniors campaigning for class office; ominous, rose-wreathed advertisements for this year's prom. The big dance was this coming weekend and Edward and I hadn't yet decided if we were going or not.
"Have you sent your announcements, yet?" Angela asked when Edward and I sat down at our table. She had her light brown hair pulled back into a sloppy ponytail instead of her usual smooth hairdo, and there was a slightly frantic look about her eyes.
Alice and Ben were already there, too, on either side of Angela. Ben was intent over a comic book, his glasses sliding down his narrow nose. Alice was scrutinizing my boring jeans-and-a-t-shirt outfit in a way that made me self-conscious. Probably plotting another makeover. I sighed. My indifferent attitude to fashion was a constant thorn in her side. If I'd allow it, she'd love to dress me every day - perhaps several times a day - like some oversized three-dimensional paper doll.
"No," I answered Angela. "There's no point, really. There's nobody I have to really send to." It's not like Billy was going to make the trip and the others on the rez didn't care so that was that.
"How about you, Alice?"
Alice smiled. "All done."
"Lucky you." Angela sighed. "My mother has a thousand cousins and she expects me to hand-address one to everybody. I'm going to get carpal tunnel. I can't put it off any longer and I'm just dreading it."
"I'll help you," I volunteered. "If you don't mind my awful handwriting."
Angela looked relieved. "That's so nice of you. I'll come over any time you want."
"Actually, I'd rather go to your house if that's okay - I'm sick of mine." Which wasn't the truth. I could never be sick of living with the Cullens but with the exception of Mike no one knew about my address change. As far as everyone was concerned I was still at Billy's.
"Of course, I'll tell you when. You don't know how much this means to me." Angela beamed.
The conversation drifted off then and my mind started to wander about anything and everything.
Angela's voice yanked me from my reverie. She was waving her hand back and forth in front of Alice's blank, staring face. Alice's expression was something I recognized. The vacant look in her eyes told me that she was seeing something very different from the mundane lunchroom scene that surrounded us, but something that was every bit as real in its own way. Something that was coming, something that would happen soon. So much for no unnecessary drama.
Then Edward laughed, a very natural, relaxed sound. Angela and Ben looked toward him, but my eyes were locked on Alice. She jumped suddenly, as if someone had kicked her under the table.
"Is it naptime already, Alice?" Edward teased.
Alice was herself again. "Sorry, I was daydreaming, I guess."
"Daydreaming's better than facing two more hours of school," Ben said.
Alice threw herself back into the conversation with more animation than before - just a little bit too much. Once I saw her eyes lock with Edward's, only for a moment, and then she looked back to Angela before anyone else noticed. Edward was quiet, playing absentmindedly with a strand of my hair.
I waited anxiously for a chance to ask Edward what Alice had seen in her vision, but the afternoon passed without one minute of alone time.
It felt odd to me, almost deliberate. After lunch, Edward slowed his pace to match Ben's, talking about some assignment I knew he'd already finished. Then there was always someone else there between classes, though we usually had a few minutes to ourselves. When the final bell rang, Edward struck up a conversation with Mike Newton, falling into step beside him as Mike headed for the parking lot. Mike and Edward had a weird relationship. They weren't friends but the sort of liked each other. Mike was still salty that Edward left me and Edward still didn't 100% trust Mike with our secret. But Mike was loyal and I knew that so they made it work.
I listened, confused, while Mike answered Edward's queries. It seemed Mike was having car troubles.
". . . but I just replaced the battery," Mike was saying. "Perhaps it's the cables?" Edward offered.
"Maybe. I really don't know anything about cars," Mike admitted. "I need to have someone look at it, but I can't afford to take it to Dowling's."
"I know a few things - I could take a look, if you like," Edward offered. "Just let me drop Alice and Jacob at home."
"Is this happening right now?" I said and they both turned to me as though now realizing that I was still there.
"What?" Mike asked
"What do you mean what?" I said incredulously "Your uncle is a mechanic. Your best friend – me – is a mechanic but you go to wonder boy here for car advice. I'm offended"
Mike laughed "Oh come on man. You know I don't mean anything by –"
"OFFENDED I SAY" I said loudly with mock seriousness storming off towards the Volvo leaving the two of them behind.
"Such a drama queen." Edward laughed "I'll come and check it out later and if I can't fix it you could talk to your dramatic best friend"
Mike laughed and nodded and walked to his car while Edward jogged to reach up to me and Alice.
"You're really not that good a mechanic, Edward. Maybe you should have Rosalie take a look at it tonight, just so you look good if Mike decides to let you help, you know. Not that it wouldn't be fun to watch his face if Rosalie showed up to help. But since Rosalie is supposed to be across the country attending college, I guess that's not the best idea. Too bad. Then again Mike knows that's a lie. Though I suppose, for Mike's car, you'll do. It's only within the finer tunings of a good Italian sports car that you're out of your depth. And speaking of Italy and sports cars that I stole there, you still owe me a yellow Porsche. I don't know that I want to wait for Christmas. . . ."
I stopped listening after a minute, letting her quick voice become just a hum in the background as I settled into my patient mode.
I waited, wondering if he or Alice would bring it up himself. Neither of them did, and this made me tense. What had Alice seen today at lunch? Something they didn't want to tell me, and these days that wasn't much. I tried to think of a reason why he would keep secrets. It was easier just to wait until they told me than to start an unnecessary argument.
Inside, I headed up the stairs after shouting we were home, and Edward followed. He lounged on the bed and gazed out the window, seeming oblivious to my edginess.
I stowed my bag and turned the computer on. There were more college applications I had to send in to have all my options. I drummed my fingers as I waited for my decrepit computer to wheeze awake; they snapped against the desk.
And then his fingers were on mine, holding them still.
"Are we a little impatient today?" he murmured.
I looked up, intending to make a sarcastic remark, but his face was closer than I'd expected. His golden eyes were smoldering, just inches away, and his breath was cool against my open lips. I could taste his scent on my tongue.
I couldn't remember the witty response I'd been about to make. I couldn't remember my name.
He didn't give me a chance to recover.
If I had my way, I would spend the majority of my time kissing Edward. There wasn't anything I'd experienced in my life that compared to the feeling of his cool lips, marble hard but always so gentle, moving with mine.
His fingers braided themselves into my hair- which I really need to cut but Edward liked it long - securing my face to his. My arms locked behind his neck. One hand slid down my back, pressing me tighter against his stone chest.
"You think you're distracting me but you're not. Don't worry I'm not going to ask. I'd prefer if you just tell me but I won't ask." I said
"Thank you." He whispered
"I wanna play chess" Alice bounded into the room without knocking holding a chess board. "Jasper doesn't want to play. He says I cheat"
"You do cheat" Jasper voice floated to us from downstairs and Alice pouted.
Edward smiled and sat opposite Alice placing the pieces on the board. Edward and Alice playing chess was one of the funniest things I'd ever seen. They'd sat there nearly motionless, staring at the board, while Alice foresaw the moves he would make and he picked the moves she would make in return out of her head. They played most of the game in their minds; I think they'd each moved two pawns when Alice suddenly flicked her king over and surrendered. It took all of three minutes and then they were setting up for a rematch.
I shook my head and bounded downstairs to see what the others were doing. Jasper and Emmett were playing video games.
"Mind another player?" I said picking up the third control
"Edward and Alice playing chess?" Jasper asked
"If you consider staring at the board playing, yeah" I answered causing Emmett and Jasper to laugh "Hey, did she mention to either of you she had a vision?" I asked more Jasper than Emmett
Jasper paused the game "What vision? When?"
"Today at school"
"She didn't say anything no." He answered
I sighed "Does it make me a bad person that that makes me feel better? They didn't tell me either."
"It doesn't make you a bad person Jake" Emmett said "And if it was important they would've said. They know better."
"Plus, Alice has been having a hard time with her visions. You know that"
I sighed "Because she can't see the wolves, I know."
Alice couldn't see any of the shifters. And whoever decided to mingle their fate with theirs disappear too. We're not sure why this is. Some natural defence we're born with or something. Carlisle theorizes that it's because our lives are so ruled by our transformations. It's more an involuntary reaction than a decision. Utterly unpredictable, and it changes everything about us. In that instant when we shift from one form to the other, we don't really even exist. The future can't hold us. And because of my involvement with their family the Cullens future was hard to see. Alice kept getting glimpses but nothing solid. It was very frustrating for her.
"Let's play" I said un-pausing the game and officially ending the conversation.
"It was something to do with Victoria." Edward's voice was soft but it echoed in the room.
I was taking a shower while Edward was a creep and sat outside on the toilet.
"What was something to do with Victoria?" I asked cutting off the water and stepping out of the shower, taking the towel Edward was handing to me, and walked into the bedroom.
"Alice's vision yesterday. She couldn't see much. You were there – obviously. Victoria's planning something but we knew that already. Alice is searching the future to see if she can find something more solid."
"Don't hurt yourself pixie" I said knowing that she could hear me "Like you said Ed, we know she's planning something. When it comes we'll be ready."
"I know. Plus Emmett's been itching for a fight"
I smiled and Edward rolled his eyes knowing it was the truth.
"Can you boys continue this conversation in the car" Alice said knocking on the door as she passed the room "We're going to be late."
"With Edward's driving we're never late" I said but followed Alice anyway. A happy Alice was a safe Alice. Girl was terrifying when she was mad.
Alice was excitingly talking about the car she was sure Edward was going to buy her again when Edward spoke an edge to his soft voice. Suddenly his hands were clenched tight on the steering wheel, his knuckles straining in an effort not to snap it into pieces.
"And I thought today was going to be a good day"
"And why has that changed?" I asked
We pulled into the school lot.
"We have guests." He deadpanned
That was when I saw them. They would have been hard to miss, towering over the students the way they did, even if Sam, Quil and Jared hadn't been leaning against their motorcycles, parked illegally on the sidewalk.
"What do they want?" I asked
"A safe place to talk to you. A place with witnesses."
I rolled my eyes "Let's go then."
We walked towards them hand in hand, Alice skipping off towards the school, ignoring them all together.
My classmates weren't able to do the same. I noticed how their eyes widened as they took in the long bodies of the guys, muscled up the way no normal teenager ever had been. Their eyes didn't linger on their faces - something about the expressions had them glancing quickly away. And I noticed the wide berth everyone gave the boys, the bubble of space that no one dared to encroach on.
These three losers looked dangerous. Which I guess in a way they were but I knew better.
Edward stopped a few yards away from where Jared was standing.
"You could have called us," Edward said in a steel-hard voice.
"Would you have answered?" Jared asked knowing the answer
"This is hardly the place, Sam. Could we discuss whatever this is later?" I said, trying to diffuse the situation before it started
"Sure. We'll stop by your crypt after school." Sam snorted. "What's wrong with now?"
Edward looked around pointedly, his eyes resting on the witnesses who were just barely out of hearing range. A few people were hesitating on the sidewalk, their eyes bright with expectation. Like they were hoping a fight might break out to alleviate the tedium of another Monday morning. I saw Tyler Crowley nudge Austin Marks, and they both paused on their way to class.
I sighed "What do you want?"
"You to officially give up the title of Alpha."
I narrowed my eyes "Pass" I said and moved to walk pass Sam and his goons but Sam placed his hand on my chest to stop me.
"Move it or lose it" Edward spat stepping forward.
Jared and Quil also stepped forward effectively blocking Edward.
Sam smiled deviously "You're out numbered"
"I'm stronger than all of you"
"You won't fight in front of your classmates"
"Keep your hand where it is and find out how wrong you are"
"You don't even want to be Alpha!" he said loudly drawing more of a crowd than we had already. At least he moved his hand
"You're not wrong" I agreed
"So give it up. Properly. I'm already doing the job."
"I like our arrangement." I shrugged
I scoffed "Of you? Never."
"Come to the rez then. Do the ritual. Give up the title"
"I said no Sam."
"Why not?" he growled
I laughed "Cause I like having this over you. I like that no matter how many tribe leaders and beliefs you have on your side I'm still better than you. I'm still Alpha. I know it. The tribe knows it. And most importantly, you know it. I won't give that up. So continue to play big bad Alpha and while you do that I want you to remember that the real Alpha is sleeping with the enemy"
I saw the punch coming, I just didn't bother to duck. I could feel the bones in my jaw snap. Asshole broke my jaw, but as quickly as it broke it healed. The crowd around us went "Oooooohhh" and Edward stood completely still waiting to follow my lead.
I smiled at Sam "Ow"
"GIVE IT UP" he screamed
I shook my head and began to walk away, this time Edward followed and Sam didn't try to stop me "Fuck you Sam."
"Okay, get to class," a stern voice sounded behind us. "Mr. Black, your friends aren't allowed here."
"These loser aren't my friends" I said.
Mr. Greene didn't look convinced but nodded once and pushed through the circle of spectators, his brows pressing down like ominous storm clouds over his small eyes.
"I mean it," he was threatening. "Detention for anyone who's still standing here when I turn around again." The audience melted away before he was finished with his sentence.
"Do we have a problem here?" Mr. Green was asking Sam
"Nope," Quil answered instead.
"Then I suggest you remove yourself from school property at once before I call the police."
Jared said, "Yes, sir," and snapped a military salute before he climbed on his bike and kicked it to a start right there on the sidewalk, the others doing the same. The engine snarled and then the tires squealed as he spun it sharply around. In a matter of seconds, they raced out of sight.
Mr. Greene gnashed his teeth together while he watched the performance.
"Mr. Cullen, I expect you to ask your friend to refrain from trespassing again."
"They're not my friends either, Mr. Greene, but I'll pass along the warning."
Mr. Greene pursed his lips. Edward's perfect grades and spotless record were clearly a factor in Mr. Greene's assessment of the incident. "I see. If you're worried about any trouble, I'd be happy to -"
"There's nothing to worry about, Mr. Greene. There won't be any trouble."
"I hope that's correct. Well, then. On to class. You, too, Mr Black."
Edward nodded, and pulled me quickly along toward the English building.
"How's your jaw?" he whispered when we were past the principal.
"Healed as soon as it broke. That was practically of love tap. Don't worry, I'm fine," I whispered back.
The day went on as normal after that, both me and Edward preferring to figure out a plan to deal with Sam later than right now in school.
It was later, in Calculus - my one class without Edward - that I heard the gossip.
"My money's on the big Indian," someone was saying.
"They were all big Indian's" another replied
I peeked up to see that Tyler, Mike, Austin, and Ben had their heads bent together, deep in conversation.
"Come on," Mike whispered. "Do you see the size of Jake? I think he could take those three down, especially if Cullen helped." Mike sounded pleased by the idea.
"You would say that." Tyler said "Jake's your friend but that Sam guy looked like he could take Jake and then Edward would be outnumbered."
"I don't think so," Ben disagreed. "There's something about Edward. He's always so . . . confident. I have a feeling he can take care of himself."
"I'm with Ben," Austin agreed. "Besides, if that other kid messed Edward up, you know those big brothers of his would get involved."
"Have you been down to La Push lately?" Tyler asked. "Lauren and I went to the beach a couple of weeks ago, and believe me, all those guys are all just as big as Jacob."
"Huh," Austin said. "Too bad it didn't turn into anything. I'm shocked Jacob didn't punch back. I would've. Guess we'll never know how it would have turned out."
"It didn't look over to me," Tyler said. "Maybe we'll get to see."
Mike grinned. "Anyone in the mood for a bet?"
"I wouldn't if I were you guys" I said and for the first time they realized I was close enough to hear them. "Mike has an unfair advantage. I wouldn't bet against him"
"Man I was going to make some quick cash" Mike moaned half-heartedly
"What was it about anyway?" Austin asked "Like what did he mean about being Alpha?"
"Our live action game of dungeons and dragons. My group always wins and Sam's always loses so he wants to switch teams. Be Alpha of my team."
"Dungeons and Dragons?" Tyler repeated incredulously while Mike fell off his chair laughing "Are you being real right now?"
I smiled and didn't reply.