Charlie was making breakfast when I woke up the next morning. I could hear the sizzling and popping of the eggs cooking in the pan, and the smell wafting up the stairs made my stomach rumble. I got up and pulled my phone from the charger, reading through the texts from Mom that I had been too tired to read last night; After our last phone call, her communication had been sparse, and I was hoping that everything was okay after her fight with Phil.
I glanced at the clock in the corner of the screen; It wasn’t late enough for her to be at work yet, but it might be late enough for her to be awake at least. I pressed the call button, listening to it ring.
“Bella!” The voice on the other end of the line was deeper than I had expected- Phil had picked up.
“Oh, hey Phil!” I grinned. “Where’s Mom?”
“Bathroom.” He said, then took a bite of something and asked with his mouth full, “How ya doin’ up there, kiddo?”
“Pretty good. How are you guys doing?”
“Good, good. The season’s been hell, ready to zip off to Greece already.”
“So, you are going, then?” I asked, glad they had been able to patch up their big fight so quickly.
“Yep!” Phil said, perking up at the subject. “Your mom’s right, I’ve been workin’ my ass off training. A week or two away when we’re finally done sounds amazing- Oh, your mom’s back. Tell Charlie I say hi, love you kid!”
“I will, love you too!” I said, then I heard one of Mom’s large hoop earrings hit the receiver.
“Hi sweetie!” She crooned. “How are you?”
“Good.” I said, relaxing when I heard her voice. “I just wanted to call and make see how you were.”
“Oh, I’m doing much better!” She said. “Did Phil tell you we’re finally going to Greece?”
We chatted about their vacation plans for a while- well, she chatted while I listened. She was just telling me about the beaches in Santorini when I heard the waiter at whatever diner they were at return with their food.
“You’re out for breakfast?” I asked in disbelief. Mom usually didn’t get out of bed until ten, much less be out of the house this early.
“Phil talked me into it.” She explained, her voice getting so sappy that I could see the look she was giving him across the table in my head. “I’ve started going to bed earlier, then we get up for breakfast together before his practice. This little place he found around the corner has bottomless mimosas- I might never leave.”
I laughed, and we were interrupted by a soft knock on my door. Charlie poked his head in, then seeing I was on the phone, whispered, “Breakfast.”
I nodded, then pointed to the phone and mouthed back, “Mom.”
“Dad says hi.” I said, interrupting mom’s rambling about the eggs benedict she had ordered.
“Oh.” She said. “Well, tell him I said hi too, I guess. What time is it up there? Isn’t it time for school?”
“Almost.” I said, checking the tiny clock in the corner of the screen. “I’ll text you when I get home.”
“Okay, baby. I love you, muah!” She blew me a kiss through the phone before hanging up.
“How are they doin’?” Charlie asked, his head still peering around the half-closed door.
“Good. They’re going to Greece.”
“Huh. Good for them.” He said. “Got a mushroom omelet for ya downstairs.”
“I’ll be right down.” I hopped out of bed and grabbed my brush as he headed back to the kitchen. I dragged the brush through the knots in my hair, tugging to get through the split ends at the bottom; I would have to trim it soon, but I would have to get new scissors. My old ones had been lost in the move.
I dressed quickly, then joined Charlie downstairs. My omelet was delicious. He had stuffed it with swiss cheese and let the edges brown the way I liked it. I swallowed a large bite, then asked, “How’s the leg?”
“Leg’s a leg.” He said, holding it out from under the table so that I could see the fresh bandages he had put on that morning. “Stayin’ home one more day. You drivin’ to school, or is Rosalie comin’ again?”
“Rosalie’s coming.” I told him.
“Is there somethin’ wrong with the truck?” He asked, raising an eyebrow. “Need me to bring Jake by later, see if he can fix it?”
“No, the truck is fine.” I assured him. “We’re just hanging out. My truck uses a lot of gas anyway, gotta think about my carbon footprint and stuff.”
He nodded, going back to his food and accepting my half-baked excuse. “You two still goin’ up to Seattle this weekend instead of the dance? Ya could go together as friends, ya know, you ain’t gotta have a date nowadays. Get a group together, might be fun.”
“Dad.” I rolled my eyes. “You know I don’t dance- And yes, we’re still going to Seattle.”
It was only half a lie; I was still going to be with Rosalie, even if the venue had changed to a currently unknown location. Besides, I wasn’t quite sure I was ready to have the ‘dating’ conversation with Charlie yet, even if he did like Rosalie.
As if on cue, my phone chimed in my pocket. Rosalie had texted me, telling me she was here.
“I got the dishes.” Charlie said, waving his hand as I stood quickly to wash mine. “Go ahead. Have a good day, Bells.”
“Bye dad, love you.” I said, giving him a quick one-armed hug before grabbing by backpack and rushing out to meet Rosalie.
She was waiting for me by her car again, holding the passenger door open when she saw me come out.
“Good morning, Bella.” She smiled, making my heart flutter. “How are you today?”
“Good.” I breathed, catching my breath. “You?”
Rosalie chuckled mischievously and shook her head. “I believe it’s my turn to ask the questions today, remember?”
“Oh, come on.” I rolled my eyes and smirked up at her. “I can’t even return polite conversation? That’s a bit extreme.”
“Perhaps,” She agreed, then said, “I’m doing wonderfully. Now shall we go to school, or will we be skipping today? I’m alright with either to be honest.”
I slid into my seat and she closed my door, giggling to herself. When she had gotten in the car and pulled onto the highway, her onslaught of questions began. They seemed completely random, and she asked them so quickly that I barely had time to take a breath between answers.
“Do you have a favorite flower?” She asked.
“Orchids. Purple ones.”
“Is purple your favorite color?”
“I guess so.”
“What’s your favorite gemstone?”
“Topaz.” I blurted without thinking, then blushed furiously when I noticed her satisfied grin.
“Like your watch?” She asked, looking down at my wrist where the amber colored gemstones sparkled.
“Yeah,” I said, smiling shyly over at her. Truthfully, I’d said topaz because it was the color of her eyes. “Thank you, again.”
“It was my pleasure.” Rosalie winked. “Did you have any pets growing up?”
I blinked, recovering from the sudden shift in topic. “A few goldfish, but nothing bigger than that.”
“Are you allergic?”
“No, Mom never let me have any. We moved around too much, and they can get expensive.”
“Would you rather have a cat or a dog?”
“A cat.” I said, then remembered a long-buried memory. “When I was five, I brought home a little orange kitten. I begged her to let me keep it, but she said no. She helped me find it a new home with one of her coworkers at the time. I wanted to name it Garfield, but it was a girl.”
We had turned into the parking lot, which was quickly filling up with cars as we tried to find a spot. Students rushed to get inside, glancing up at the dark clouds that threatened a downpour any second. I got out of the car, using my bag as a hat in case it started to rain before we got inside. Before splitting up to go to our classes, Rosalie took hold of my hand, spinning me to face her.
“One more question?” She asked, her golden eyes sparkling as she gazed down at me.
I swallowed. “Yeah?”
“Would you like to sit together at lunch?”
I grinned. “Of course.”
Rosalie grinned back, pulled my hand up to her mouth, and placed a gentle kiss on my knuckles. She winked, then left for class, leaving me standing in the hallway in a daze.
I did my best to focus on my classes, but failed miserably. English was spent doing ‘popcorn reading,’ something I hated more than anything on this earth. Reading out loud was not within the range of my comfort zone, and it was even worse when I never knew when it was coming.
I was so zoned out in Geometry, that I completely ignored the worksheet we were given. My only saving grace was Lauren, who had reached over to fill mine out while I was busy staring at the wall thinking about Rosalie’s cold lips brushing against my knuckles. When I had frantically looked down when the bell rang to see all the answers miraculously filled out- complete with all the work shown- I gave her a curious look.
She winked. “You owe me one.”
I gazed after her as she left for her next class, baffled.
In Spanish, we were given a partnered assignment. Rather than let us pick our partners as usual, the teacher chose for us. My usual partner would have been Eric, but they were paired off with a girl I’d never spoken to before. I ended up paired with Jasper.
I bit my lip, glancing nervously back at him. He smiled politely, waving me over to join him in one of the empty seats surrounding his. I was relieved that he didn’t look upset at having been paired with me, and I stood to move closer to him. He ended up being an excellent partner- The two of us got a better grade on our translation than anyone else in the class. When the bell rang for lunch, he stood up, but waited for me as I gathered my things.
“Your accent is very natural.” He complimented.
“Thanks.” I grinned, glad that Rosalie’s twin didn’t seem to have any issue with me at least- If only Edward were this polite.
He held the door open for me as we left, and I saw Rosalie waiting for me across the hall. She blinked when she saw me with Jasper, her expression unreadable as she walked up to join us.
“Hey, Rose.” Jasper said. “I was just telling Bella how good her Spanish was.”
“Yours is better.” I smiled. “Seriously, I’ve never gotten that good of a grade in Spanish. Thanks for the help.”
“Anytime.” He said, then asked Rosalie, “Are you sitting with us today?”
“Not today, no.” She said, putting a cold arm around my shoulders. The casual gesture made me feel light-headed.
“Okay.” Jasper shrugged, nodding to me before heading to the cafeteria.
Rosalie and I followed after him, sitting down at our regular empty table after we’d gotten our food. Her interview began as soon as I’d swallowed my first bite. She gave me time to chew between questions but asked another as soon as I’d swallowed. Her own plate of food was ignored.
Most of her inquiries this time were about my life back in Phoenix; If I’d been in any clubs growing up, any friends I’d left behind, all the jobs I worked to help mom out with the bills. I blushed when she asked if I’d ever dated anyone before.
“What?” She pressed, trying to read my face while I tried to hide behind a curtain of my hair.
“I’ve never dated anyone, actually.” I whispered.
She heard me of course- vampire hearing beats loud cafeteria, apparently- and tilted her head to one side, a curious look in her golden eyes. “Never? No one ever asked you out in Phoenix?”
“Well…” I clarified, blushing even harder. “There was this one boy I was friends with in eighth grade. He told me he liked me, but I didn’t like him back.”
“Poor guy.” Rosalie smirked, taking a sip from her soda.
“I tried to be nice about it!” I defended. “We stayed friends until he moved to Chicago six months later.”
The bell rang, and Rosalie took our trays to the trash. We weren’t able to continue our conversation in Biology, since we were only halfway through the monotonous film that Mr. Molina was subjecting us to. However, we sat as close as we had yesterday, our legs resting against each other. I had just worked up the nerve to reach for her hand when Rosalie stretched, letting one arm drape casually over my shoulders as she relaxed. It made my heart race, and I could feel her body shaking as she tried not to laugh at my reaction.
The film ended with barely a minute left in class, and she took her arm back right before the lights came on. My shoulders felt uncomfortably light and much too warm without it. She winked, told me she’d see me after school, then went to her next class.
In gym, Mike teased me relentlessly; He had been watching us in Biology and was in the middle of taunting me while we dodged flying rubber balls from the opposing team.
“Rosalie and Bella, sittin’ in a tree,” He sang under his breath, yanking me out of the path of one of the balls as it flew past. “K-I-S-S-I-N-OW!”
He’d been paying too much attention to me, and not enough attention to Tyler, who had aimed a ball right at his head. The coach blew her whistle, telling him off for his illegal headshot.
The end of the day finally came after an agonizing History test. Halfway through, I gave up, circling random answers and handing it in without looking it over. I powerwalked to the parking lot to meet Rosalie at the car; We didn’t have a lot of time before my shift at Newton’s, but I would take what I could get. I saw her waiting for me, and she smiled when she looked up from her phone and saw me coming. She moved to open my door, when I heard a shout from behind me.
“Bella!” I turned to see Mike jogging towards me, rushing to catch me before I left. He stopped in front of me, catching his breath.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“I forgot to tell you earlier,” He said. “Aunt Sadie wanted me to tell you that you don’t need to come in today- It’s been really slow, so she says she’s got it covered.”
“Oh, okay.” I said, secretly relieved; My afternoon was now completely free. “Tell her I said thank you.”
“Sure thing.” Mike said, waving to Rosalie over my shoulder before turning to join Jessica at her car.
When I turned around and joined her, Rosalie was grinning. “So, a change of plans then?”
“Looks like it.” I grinned back at her, pleased with my luck.
“What would you like to do?” She asked.
I thought about that, weighing my options in my head; It would be nice to just relax for while, but I’d been given a lot of homework, and I’d wanted to get a load of laundry started.
“Do you want to come over for a bit?” I asked her. “We can do homework while you keep questioning me.”
Charlie’s bike wasn’t in the driveway when we got to the house. I went upstairs to my room, checking my phone to see if he’d texted to tell me where he was going; There were the usual fifty or so messages from Mom, but nothing from Charlie.
“This was on the back of the front door.” Rosalie said, appearing beside me with a yellow post it note in her hand. I took it from her, reading the familiar chicken scratch handwriting.
‘Bella- Gone to La Push. Will be bringin’ Billy and Jake for dinner. -Dad’
“Who are Billy and Jake?” Rosalie asked, sitting on the edge of my bed.
“Family friends.” I shrugged, tossing the note in the trash now that it had served it’s purpose. “You can stay for dinner too, if you want. I’m sure Charlie won’t mind.”
She bit her lip, her brow furrowed. “I… can’t, Bella. I’d love to, but I can’t.”
“Oh.” I deflated. “Why not?”
She smiled sadly. “Your family friends are Quileute, I gather… I’m guessing you learned of my true nature from them- It also explains why you didn’t want to tell me… You would’ve been narc-ing on a friend.”
I swallowed. “Yeah… I got Jacob to tell me, but he doesn’t believe a word of it. He thinks it’s just a scary story.”
Rosalie sighed. “I suppose it’s better like that, for him anyway… Still, I should be gone before they get here. I don’t want to cause any complications for you.”
“Why would you cause a complication?” I asked, confused. “You have the treaty for a reason, right? You don’t hurt humans.”
“We try not to hurt humans.” Rosalie said, looking anywhere but at me. “But please, Bella, you have to understand that despite my best efforts, I’m still a danger to you. There’s a reason I avoided blood-typing day. If I lost control around you, even for a second, and you got hurt… I would never forgive myself.”
“I trust you.” I insisted, sitting on the bed next to her to prove my point. “But if it would be easier for you to be gone before they get here, then I understand.”
“Thank you…” She squeezed my hand lightly, her red lips curled in a soft smile.
“It’s too bad, though.” I said, trying to lighten the mood. “I think you’d really like Jacob. He fixes cars too.”
“Ah.” She said, brightening. “He’s the mechanic that fixed your truck?”
“How old is he?”
Her eyebrows rose. “Impressive work for someone so young.”
“His mom taught him before she died.” I explained. “Her dad owns a garage on the reservation- Jacob still helps out there off-the-books when he has the time.”
“He sounds nice.”
We fell silent, and I realized just how close we were sitting; Rosalie had turned her entire torso in my direction, and was staring into my eyes with her own blazing with a heat so intense my cheeks flushed in response. I held my breath, too focused on the way her ice-blonde hair framed her face to say anything.
“So, about that homework you mentioned.” She prompted, breaking me free of my haze.
“Right, that.” I said, scooting away from her to grab my bag from the floor.
“What’s your favorite subject?” She asked suddenly.
“Not History.” I groaned, recalling the test I had certainly failed. “English, probably.”
We spent an hour or two working while Rosalie asked me whatever popped into her head. Eventually, the topic turned to how Phil and Renee were doing. I was just filling her in on their latest vacation plans when her head suddenly snapped to look out my open window.
“What?” I asked, but heard what had alerted her as soon as I fell silent; The rumble of two engines- One motorcycle, and one van.
“Looks like I’ll be cutting it very close.” Rosalie said, her bag suddenly packed and over her shoulder in a flash. “May I pick you up tomorrow as well?”
I nodded and walked her outside to her car. Charlie had just pulled up on his bike, taking his helmet off and flattening his hair. The Green Machine was parked on the side of the road, leaving room for Rosalie to move her convertible.
“Hey, Dad!” I called.
He looked up, smiling when he saw who I was with. “Hey, Rosalie! You stayin’ for dinner?”
“Not tonight, my parents made meatloaf.” She lied smoothly. “I was just leaving, if they want to take my spot.”
“Alrighty. Don’t be a stranger.” He said, waving before going to talk to Billy.
“I’ll see you in the morning, Bella.” Rosalie said, glancing nervously over her shoulder at the van before getting in her car and driving away.
“Bella!” Jacob bounded over to me, lifting me up in his long, wiry arms. He set me back on me feet, then asked, “How ya been?”
“Good.” I said, punching his arm lightly. “You?”
“I’m grounded for failing English.” He rolled his eyes, keeping his voice low so Billy wouldn’t hear him. “This is the first time I’ve been out of the house in a week- Who was that you were with? She had an awesome ride.”
I bit my lip. “Rosalie Cullen.”
“Oh!” He said, his eyebrows rising. “So that’s your mysterious vampire lover- She’s cute, Bella. Congrats.”
I shushed him frantically, looking around to see if our dads had overheard; Charlie was completely absorbed in getting Billy’s chair through the narrow doorframe, but Billy was staring right at us. I looked away quickly, an unsettled feeling in my stomach.
“You don’t think Billy would tell Charlie, do you?” I asked. Sure, he liked Rosalie now, but I had a feeling that sense of camaraderie would vanish the second he discovered her thirst for human blood.
“Nah.” Jacob shook his head. “They fought about the Cullens a lot when they first moved here, since Dad believes all that superstitious stuff. Charlie wouldn’t hear a word of it. It’s a banned subject now.”
“Who banned it?”
“Me.” Jacob said, rolling his eyes. “For a couple of grown adults, they bicker like kids.”
I laughed, and the two of us headed inside. Billy and Charlie were in the kitchen, peeling potatoes at the sink. Billy looked over his shoulder, his dark eyes piercing right through me. I swallowed, but busied myself with setting the table, avoiding his gaze.
Dinner was almost over when Billy took his opportunity to talk to me. Jacob was explaining to Charlie how he had ripped out the drivers’ seat of the Machine and installed a lift so that Billy could drive again, when he interrupted.
“Why don’t you go show off your handiwork?” He asked Jacob, glancing at me for the briefest moment before he did. “I’ll help Bella with the dishes.”
“Yeah, I’d love to see how that works.” Charlie said, bringing his and Billy’s empty plates to the sink. “How’d you learn to do that yourself?”
“YouTube videos, and a little help from Gramps.” Jacob said, puffing out his chest proudly. “I got the lift itself second hand from eBay, and the rest of the parts I scrapped together from the junkyard- It works like new.”
“Should get an engineering degree with that brain of yours, kid.” Charlie said, reaching up to pat Jacob on the shoulder as they went outside, leaving Billy and I alone in the kitchen.
I stood up and took the rest of the dishes to the sink. Billy rolled up beside me but didn’t say anything. He grabbed the towel from the counter, waiting patiently for me to hand him a dish to dry. I washed one of the plates and handed it to him. He dried it and set it carefully on the counter. We continued like that for a while, until he finally broke the silence.
“That girl you were with today,” He said casually, though I could hear the tension in his words. “She a friend of yours?”
“Yes, she is.” I said, handing him a clean cup. “Why?”
He didn’t say anything. I handed him another plate, waiting.
“Bella,” He began, speaking very carefully. “The Cullens are… dangerous. It would be best if you kept your distance. From all of them.”
I swallowed. “Rosalie is my friend. She’s not dangerous to me.”
“Bella.” He said, firmer than before. I looked down at him; His dark eyes were wide, pleading with me to see reason. “If you know what they are- and I think you do- then you know what I’m saying. Think about what it would do to Charlie if one of them lost control around you…”
“I know. She told me the same thing.” I told him, making him blink in surprise. “But I trust her. She saved my life, more than just the once Charlie knows about. I’ll be fine, Billy. But I appreciate your concern, really.”
He signed, apparently giving up; After all, he knew how stubborn I could be. “Alright, fine… You’re old enough to decide that for yourself. Just… be careful, honey. I love Charlie, and you’re like a daughter to me- I don’t want to see either of you hurt, understand?”
“Yes sir.” I said, my throat tight.
We finished the dishes, and I helped him get his chair through the skinny doorway out to the yard. Jacob had the drivers’ side door open, demonstrating the lift to Charlie.
“Alright, time to go.” Billy said, rolling up as the lift lowered for him. “Come over Saturday, Charlie. Harry’s got a new flat-screen.”
“Will do.” Charlie said, squeezing Billy’s hand as he was raised into the van.
“What did you do with the seat?” I asked Jacob.
“It’s in the garage.” He said. “It’s a good lounge chair. By the way, Quil’s been asking about you- She’s driving me up the wall.”
I laughed at his expression. “Tell her I’ll come by soon.”
Jacob gave both me and Charlie a quick hug before getting into the van with Billy. I watched them as they drove off, Billy’s warning still echoing in my head.
“Comin’, Bells?” Charlie called.
“Yeah.” I said, tearing my eyes from the road and heading back to the house.