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the biology incident

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Being the “youngest” comes with its share of drawbacks. Drawback #1: freshman biology. Drawback #2: having to dissect your fifteenth frog when you hold multiple advanced medical degrees.

Of course, Edward might not be the (physically) youngest Cullen. He might only be second-youngest. Alice’s age is anyone’s guess.

But naturally, Emmett and Jasper have a bet going, just in case the answer ever materializes.

Jasper’s betting high, for obvious reasons. It will make him feel better if Alice is his own age. Never mind that he has at least fifty chronological years on her—that’s nothing in vampire time.

And equally predictable is Emmett’s guess: fourteen. He doesn’t actually believe that, of course—it was just a ploy to make Jasper uncomfortable, and it worked. Jasper has been side-eyeing Alice for a week, walking on eggshells, making excuses to keep physical distance between them. An exercise in masochistic futility. As if Alice of all people was going to put up with that kind of treatment.

And Edward has to admit that here, surrounded by actual fourteen- and fifteen-year-olds, she stands out. They both do. That would be Edward’s bet, if he cared to place one—that Alice is his own age, seventeen. It’s a comforting idea, most of the time.

Less comforting today. Today he would be content to banish her to another planet.

 


 

Jasper lets her push him up against the lockers, a grin playing at the edges of his mouth.

“Say it,” orders Alice. Her hands are fisted in his shirt. “Say I’m always right.”

“Fine, I surrender. You’re always right.” His arms snake around her waist and Alice rises up on her toes, pressing against him in a way that would definitely get them written up if the hallway wasn’t deserted. His lips are a hairsbreadth from hers when she twists away, spinning out of his grasp using a move he’s taught her. She can’t help but giggle at his thwarted expression as she slips into her best schoolgirl ingenue pose, her back against the biology room door.

Jasper braces his hands against the wood on either side of her shoulders, leaving her no avenue of escape this time. “And just where do you think you’re going?”

Alice reaches up to toy with the lapel of his shirt. “Not far,” she promises. “Don’t worry, you’re coming too.” She pushes down on the handle and the door swings open behind her.

 


 

Alice,” hisses Edward before the memory can go any farther.

Sorry. She shakes herself back to the present with a rueful smile.

“…scalpel and forceps,” Mrs. Avery is saying as she marks off the items on the overhead projector. “Now, before we make any incisions, see if you can identify the sex of your frog. Can anyone tell me what sexual dimorphism is?” No hands go up.

Of course not…honestly, do they bother to teach them anything in middle school science these days? Hmm, I’ll bet the perfect Cullens know. “Anyone? How about you, Edward?”

“Sexual dimorphism is the distinct difference between male and female animals of the same species, in physical appearance or size,” recites Edward, rephrasing the definition from the textbook.

 


 

The biology room is ideal because there’s a high counter that runs along one side, half occupied by microscopes and an industrial sink. Alice hops onto the edge as Jasper locks the door behind them. His mouth is on hers in the next second, the sudden ferocity of the kiss bending her head back. Their heights still aren’t quite even, but the angle is much better like this.

“How long do we have?” demands Jasper, sliding a thigh between her knees.

Alice grins as her fingers make short work of the buttons of his shirt—she can almost feel the pent up need from the past six days vibrating through his skin. “How long do you think we’ll need?”

His laugh lifts the hairs on her neck. “Is that a challenge? Last time I checked, you were the psychic here,” he reminds her, pressing a kiss against what would be her pulse point, if she had a pulse.

“Mmm,” agrees Alice. “Which is how I know we won’t be disturbed for at least the rest of the lunch period.”

“After which you and Edward have class in this very room,” Jasper points out.

Alice lets out a sigh of contentment as his lips travel toward her jaw. “Yes, we’re dissecting frogs—”

“Hot,” interrupts Jasper. She whacks him on the shoulder.

“—dissecting frogs, which means the smell of formaldehyde will mask any…other smells,” Alice says delicately.

“How nice for Edward,” snickers Jasper. He pulls away enough to look down at her, tilts her chin up with one finger. “I’m beginning to think this was premeditated,” he accuses. A hand slides beneath the hem of her shirt, traces over her ribs. “A truly dastardly scheme.”

Alice lets out a moan as he hitches one of her legs around his waist, pulling her closer. “You like my schemes,” she reminds him, but the rest of her defense is lost to a gasp when his fingers delve beneath her skirt

 


 

Edward kicks Alice’s chair hard and tries to think of nothing but dead frogs, flipping through his classmates’ thoughts like TV channels in the hope that someone’s mind will provide safe harbor.

…so nasty, I should have ditched…

….try to steal a spleen or something, could be fun to sneak into Kevin’s lunch

…ugh, the poor frogs! And that awful smell, it’s been making me sick since before we started…

…SORRY! You know I didn’t mean for you to hear!

This last from Alice, her mental “voice” tinged with chagrin. They’re lucky Mrs. Avery hasn’t noticed that Edward has been doing all their work so far, prepping their frog with intense concentration in an effort to tune out his sister’s thoughts. He needs to calm down or he’s going to crush the scalpel he’s holding, poised above the frog’s belly.

Alice pulls it together and forces herself to focus on the lab, not realizing she’s a page behind.

4. Turn the frog on its back and ensure that the legs are spread and securely pinned

 


 

His weight pins her to the counter, warm and solid and hard above her, one arm hooked under her knee so she can’t tighten her legs around him the way she wants to. It’s always a tight fit, but it’s so good like this. A delicious kind of torture when they’re on school property, forced to go slow and careful when all they want is fast and hard.

Jasper has lifted whatever barrier holds his gift back so that she feels everything he feels, the perfect reflection of her own love and lust. She can feel how much he’s missed this, how every touch, every sound she makes pushes him closer to the edge. Alice’s own gift seems to thrum beneath her skin, teasing her with voyeuristic glimpses of the future as if she doesn’t already know how this ends.

Jasper’s tongue pushes into her mouth, all attempts at finesse abandoned, and she tastes his venom, hot and sweet and familiar as it mixes with her own. She can’t believe she let him stay away for six days, but God, the sheer intensity of now more than makes up for the lost time. The black resin counter groans beneath her, threatening to crack beneath the mounting pressure, and Alice can relate.

Jasper’s gift means he knows what she needs without having to be told—she can save her breath for more important things. She breaks the kiss in order to gasp “I missed you,” and he crushes her closer, pressing her knee into her chest and touching her until it’s too much, until the white hot pleasure floods her and a cry tears from her throat

 


 

CRACK. The deafening sound is followed by twin thuds as the two halves of Edward and Alice’s lab table crash to the floor. Edward’s mangled scalpel has cleaved through frog, tray, and table in one slice, collapsing it all into a heap of wood, paper, debris, and amphibian guts.

A freak accident, Mrs. Avery will say later. The table was old. Perhaps there was a flaw beneath the surface, some manufacturing error. Everyone knows that freshmen with cheap lab utensils aren’t capable of shattering tables.

There will be something in Carlisle Cullen’s expression, though, as he offers to pay for the damage. Mrs. Avery is a sharp woman—she’ll pick up on the contrition, the secondhand embarrassment, the exasperation as he regards his eerily perfect adopted children. A too-harsh response for a mere accident.

Edward, for his part, has learned enough about biology (and ugh, biology) to last several lifetimes. In the next town, he’ll insist on being older, see if he won’t. Then Alice can suffer through bio with some slow human lab partner who can’t read her disgusting thoughts.

“I said I was sorry,” she pleads on the way home, leaning over the center console of Carlisle’s Mercedes. Edward slouches against the window and ignores her. Of all the humiliating things to happen in a room full of humans.

Edward, calls Jasper silently. He keeps his gaze directed out the window, but his thoughts are genuinely repentant. I’m sorry too. I feel I bear some responsibility for this incident.

Edward groans when he sees what’s in his brother’s mind.

 


 

Still intertwined, they dissolve into breathless post-coital laughter. Alice presses her forehead against Jasper’s, detangling her fingers from the hair at the nape of his neck.

“Well?” she demands. “How was that? Do I feel fourteen to you?”

She’s propped up on her elbows beneath him, radiating languid smugness. “No,” he admits. Definitely not. She may be small and slender, but she does have curves, as he’s just been rather tangibly reminded. And there’s a certain maturity to her features, the way she moves…he’s never thought of her as a girl any more than he thinks of himself as a boy.

Alice flops back in contentment. “Good. Because by my best estimate, I’m closer to a hundred.”

Jasper lifts an eyebrow. “You’re going to have to work a lot harder to convince anyone you’re a hundred.”

She presses a hand to her chest in mock outrage. “Harder than that? And who are all these people I’m meant to convince? Can I at least get a look at them first?”

It’s impossible not to kiss her when she makes that face. Her lips tremble with held-in laughter against his as he surges forward, pinning her to the counter again.

She pushes him away after a moment. “Mmm, we can’t,” she sighs. “We only have two minutes and thirty-six seconds.”

It doesn’t take them long to clean up. It’s almost irritating, how quickly Alice can detach and go back to business as usual, emotions returning to equilibrium. She retains a small tinge of concern—probably worried that Edward will be cross with her. Well, thinks Jasper. Let’s give him something to be cross about.

The bell rings, signaling the end of lunch, and Jasper seizes Alice by the waist before she can see the decision.

“What—”

But whatever she meant to say is lost against the heat of his mouth. The kiss is deep, sudden, full of lascivious promise. He pulls away just as suddenly.

“What was that for?” Her breath comes a little faster.

“Nothing,” says Jasper, grinning to himself. He trails his fingers along her arm, sends out the merest tendril of his gift through the contact. She shivers.

“What did you just do?”

She bites her lip as the lust he’s infected her with burns its way through her. Good. Now she won’t be able to stop thinking of him.

“See you later. Enjoy dissecting frogs with Edward,” he chuckles, pressing a chaste kiss to her temple. His own body mourns the loss of contact as he slips out the door into the hallway, where he makes for the opposite side of the building.

After what he’s just done, it’s probably best to put as much distance between himself and the biology room as possible.