There were times in my life that I truly did appreciate Ana's uncanny ability to disappear for days at a time. These periods would give me time alone while Ana could be out and about, no doubt visiting clubs and bars and other mortal hotspots. She was a social person, even given her age, a time when many vampires would have long grown tired and bored of the world.
Today was not one of those times, however. I had raced home in my car, once again breaking speed limits and possibly putting someone's life in danger. I was eager, excited even, to discuss the Edward situation with her. I wanted to get her view, tinted with all the experience her years have awarded her, and see if there was some sort of significance.
I admit, I wanted there to be significance to all this. It would be exciting, to say the least.
But alas, when I bolted inside, calling Ana's name, I was disappointed to find only a note on the refrigerator saying she'd be gone for a while and for me to “have fun”. I didn't know what she meant by that, and I didn't care. My disappointment ran deep, and for a split second, I wanted to scream. Instead, I retreated to my bedroom to sulk and grumble.
I walked into my ten-by-fifteen-foot space, dropping my backpack by the door and sitting down stiffly on the plain white futon pushed into a corner by the window that looked out on an ignored backyard. By all definitions, my room was plain and bare. I had only this futon, a dresser for my meager collection of clothes, and an oak antique desk that belonged to Ana. I never used the desk, however, and sometimes even forgot it was there.
No knickknacks adorned any surface, and my walls were barren of any pictures. This was how my bedroom had looked for decades, no matter what house or apartment Ana and I lived in. I had lost interest in fitting out my room long ago. It had never bothered me before – after all, having a bunch of things made it harder to move. Yet sitting there, I couldn’t help but wonder what Jessica and Angela would think if they saw my room. Would they find it pathetic? Weird? Depressing?
My mood had quite suddenly dropped. The air felt thick and stifling, the walls too close. I found myself itching to get out, very out, like take-a-run-in-the-woods out.
I didn’t meditate on the idea long. I was downstairs and out the front door in the blink of an eye, then in my car in another. I knew I could just run to the edge of town and delve into the woods, but there was a good chance someone could see me. Even vampire-dashing to my car like that was foolish; I hoped no one was watching me when it happened.
I flew down the quiet streets, weaving around the occasional other car like a pro race car driver. I heard the angry honks, but didn't register them as I sped along. My mind was only on getting to the edge of town, where I could be alone and free.
I abandoned my car along the shoulder of the road that winded through the damp, green forests, and I almost forgot to take the keys out of the ignition. I paused, gazing into the darkness between the trees, and I took in a deep breath. Out here, with the trees and animals all around me, I could lose myself in the glorious scent of the woods, and I dashed right in.
I sprinted through the woods freely, jumping off thick branches and damp rocks. I bounded through clearings and over fallen trunks. My energy only seemed to grow with all this excursion, and I found myself laughing aloud. It had been far too long since I had enjoyed a good romp through the forest!
I went on like this for a long time. I finally came to a rest in a small little meadow, sitting down on the ground. The grass beneath my legs was long dead, yellowed and hardened. Winter-hardy weeds were the only green things growing, sprouting up between dead stalks. I could smell the rot of dead plant life beneath the surface of the grass I sat on.
But even in this ugliness, I felt at peace. I tended to be happiest when I was alone. I had tended to seclusion in my human life, and that had only intensified with time and experience. The vampire who had turned me had even called me a sad, shy little thing.
My mind shied away from the very thought of my maker. It was not a subject I liked thinking about, and I certainly wasn't going to spoil the wonderful mood being out here had giving me. I shook my head and instead laid back, gazing up at the white sky between the tall trees overhead. All around me I heard the sounds of the forest: the trees swaying in wind far stronger dozens of feet up; the skittering and scouring of small animals bounding through the edges of the meadow; the buzzing of insects in the trees, burrowing deep into the wood; deep voices in the distance.
Wait. Voices in the distance? My body tensed and I sat up, focusing on the sound. The voices didn't sound too close, but they still disturbed me. I didn't want to be around people at this time. I stood up to leave, but I caught that scent on the breeze that wound through the trees, and without a single conscious thought I immediately followed it.
Because of the dense cluster of trees and other plant life, sound and scent doesn't travel well in the forest, and I quickly found the originators of said sounds and scents not very far away. I spotted Edward Masen’s great form along a trail nearby. He hiked along with a slender, tan-skinned boy of middling height.
I didn't know who the other boy was; he didn't go to Forks High, and that was the only high school in town I was aware of. He looked young, with boyish features to his face. His black hair was quite long, down past his shoulders, and he wore it down and loose. As they neared my spot, where I had hidden myself behind a big tree trunk, I caught his scent. He smelled mostly normal, but there was something off about it that put me on edge. It was like smelling meat that had just started to turn.
I followed the pair, hidden, and watched them for a while. They were talking about a new “project” the other boy was taking on, and by the sounds of their conversation, it had to do with a motorcycle. I noticed that Edward wasn't wearing glasses, and that he was eating trail mix from a plastic bag. It looked home-made, and--
--and why did I care? A mortal eating trail mix had never been the focus of my attention before. Yet here I was, slinking behind trees and rocks, watching this pudgy human as he listened to his friend. I shook my head at myself. This was entirely ridiculous, yet I could not help myself. I needed to know, on an instinctual level, every piece of information about Edward Masen I could learn.
Edward spoke up, however, and his words gave me pause. “Hey, Jacob, remember that girl I told you about yesterday?”
“Yeah,” the boy, Jacob, said, his dark eyes on the path ahead.
“I talked to her today, in the library,” Edward said coolly.
“You got some kinda crush?” Jacob asked mockingly, laughing, and he hit Edward on the shoulder. Edward grunted and shook his head.
“She's strange,” he said, and I couldn’t help but prickle.
“She wouldn't be the only one from Forks who's strange,” Jacob said and chuckled again.
Edward shook his head. “Jacob, listen to me. She's strange. Cold.” I didn't like the way he emphasized that last word, and by the way his friend's smile vanished and his shoulders tensed up, he didn't either. I wondered when the hell Edward had managed to touch me and realize that yes, my skin was cold to humans. I mean, I would have felt it.
“You don't think she's--”
“I don't know.” Edward's brow furrowed, and the frustration was plain in his voice. “It's hard for me to figure her out. It's like there's some kind of block, a wall, that's stopping me from reading her.”
I stopped breathing and went very still. What was he saying? “Reading” me? What was Edward trying to read? Part of me wanted to run out and ask them what they were talking about, but I knew better than that. The way they were talking – it's like they knew, or had a clue, that I was a vampire. And that was very bad news, if it was true.
Jacob stopped walking and put a hand on Edward's shoulder, making him stop too. “Edward, if what you're saying is true—we can go home and ask Dad. He might know something.”
Edward nodded, looking his friend plain in the face. He seemed reluctant to say these next words, and when they left his mouth, I felt a chill for the first time in two centuries: “Jacob, her eyes were red.”
Jacob was silent for a moment. “Let's go,” he said in a quick tone, and they both turned and went back the way they came.
I stayed put for a long time, long after the boys had left. Gradually, with the longer my mind dwelt on the subject, a fear gripped my chest. I didn't know who this Jacob was, or who his dad was, and for all I knew, they could be vampire hunters. And even if they weren't, their knowing of me was still a direct threat to my life.
I had to get home. I had to find Ana.