I laid still on the futon in my room, waiting. Ana was on her way, thankfully. I had finally managed to contact her when I found a new cell phone in a drawer in the kitchen that had her phone number programmed into it. She had never told me about this cell phone, and I only found it after any sense of my calm had gone away and I was frantically searching every nook and cranny of the place for a clue as to where Ana had gone.
It was hard to believe that after only two days at this high school, our cover had been blown. I knew attending was a very bad idea. I never should have let Ana make me do it. If knowledge of our vampire nature got out, those humans would either try to run us out of town, or attempt to kill us. And that much commotion would certainly get the attention of the Volturi.
I shuddered at the thought. I did not want them to get involved. I resolved myself to the fact that we'd have to move. Perhaps I would go and pick up some boxes later.
I glanced at the clock. It had been nearly two hours since I called Ana. She said she was just in Port Angeles, visiting with a friend. It would only take an hour for her to get home by car – even less by foot – and she should just be here by now. I hated waiting like this. I hadn't felt this stressed in a while, and when I sat up to stretch, my muscles felt sore.
I heard the door open downstairs, and I raced down in the blink of an eye. Ana was just closing the door as I came to a halt beside her, trying not to let my panic show. She took one look at me and gave me a warm hug. I wrapped my arms around her in return, glad to have her back here.
When she pulled away at last, she asked, “Isabella, what's gotten into you?”
I stared at her for a moment, dumbstruck. I had told everything on the phone earlier. Could she not see that was what had gotten into me? “We're on the verge of being discovered,” I said plainly, and I heard the highness of my voice. I was still in panic mode.
Ana shook her head and smoothed down my ratty hair affectionately. “You worry way too much, dear.”
“I think I'm worrying a good amount right now,” I responded urgently. “We're going to have to move—I'll get some boxes—or maybe you should-” I started to turn away, but Ana held onto my arm and I went quiet and met her crimson gaze.
“Bella,” she said sternly, “you're worrying way too much. You said you heard two boys talking about this, right? Boys from your school?”
“Edward, yes, but his friend--”
Ana shook her head. “You have nothing to worry about, especially with these!” Ana pulled a small opaque plastic box from her purse and handed it to me.
I gazed at the box, unsure of what it was or what it held. “And what will this do?” I asked flatly.
Ana chuckled. “They're contacts.”
I looked up at her warily. “Contacts don't do well in vampire eyes,” I reminded her.
“I know that,” she said with a dismissive wave. “These are special. They're made for vampire eyes.” My eyes widened, and I looked down at the box again as Ana went on. “They aren't really meant for long-term use, though. The venom will break them down, but they'll last longer than any other contacts on the market. Etienne said they last around eight hours before you start to notice any irritation. And he gave me a whole month's supply, so we'll be pretty good for a while.”
I nodded, listening, but feeling a weird sense of giddiness. I had a new disguise – a real one – and this knowledge helped me calm down greatly. I could almost kiss that scientific friend of Ana's. “Tell Etienne I said thanks,” I said and zoomed up to the bathroom to try the contacts on.
They looked quite natural. I hadn't been able to look into a mirror and see chocolate brown eyes stare back at me in two centuries. The contacts almost made me look alive again. Upon seeing my reflection for the first time, I had felt an odd mix of emotions ranging from relief to giddiness to sadness and sense of loss. Had I still had the ability, I would have cried.
I wore my first pair of contacts during the night to see how long they would last. Eight hours seemed to be the average time, but I guess my venom was a little stronger, and I only made it six hours before I felt my eyes start to grow itchy and burn. I popped the contacts out quickly then, to avoid any more discomfort. Etienne, Ana’s friend, had spent most of his dead life developing useful tools for vampires to hide themselves within human society. Ana told me he had been working on these contacts for several years and was happy to have me test the latest version.
I told myself that once Edward saw me with regular brown eyes, he would have to tell himself that the red eyes he saw me with really the fake ones. That would then cause him to question any of the other weird evidence he felt he had against me. He would have to admit he made a mistake, and I could settle back into this odd life.
The amount of relief I felt at this struck me as quite odd. My first day of school had been a disaster, but the second had gone quite smoothly, and I realized that I had enjoyed (for the most part) the company of Jessica and Angela and Lauren. I had been afraid I would have to leave them.
I didn’t know what to make of this, and so I didn’t make any attempt to. Instead, having calmed down from my ridiculous panic of the evening, I settled back down in my room. As I was deciding how to pass the nighttime hours, my mind turned to the aged copy of The Great Gatsby which currently resided in my backpack. I dug it out and opened the crispy, yellowed cover to the first page.
By the time dawn broke, I had finished the novel. I hadn’t realized how much time had passed, however, until Ana poked her head in my room and asked if I were ready to leave for school.
I walked into my third of school with my head held high. I wasn't wearing my fake bangs, but I certainly had my contacts in. I still wasn't used to having something actually on my eye, and I had to resist the urge to rub at them. Even still, I couldn't resist the silly grin that played at my lips.
I had a second pair with me that day at school, to change at lunch. I was ready to face whatever the day had for me.
As I walked out of the parking lot and toward the school, I heard Mike call my name. I tried not to groan, and turned toward the call with a smile. Mike was standing near some lockers with Eric and another boy I didn't know. I raised a hand to them, and Mike gestured for me join them.
As I walked up to them, Mike introduced the other boy as Tyler, and I recalled that this was the boy Lauren had mentioned. I glanced Tyler over briefly. He wasn't bad-looking, and I could see where any human girl might find him attractive. I also noticed how he was looking at me, and I fought to maintain my friendly demeanor.
After a brief exchange, I quickly excused myself from the group, relying on needing to stop by my locker before class as the excuse. I retreated swiftly and ducked down the hall of my first class.
The rest of the day went smoothly. I sat with the same group at lunch after changing out my contacts. They discussed how lame English is and the possible implications of not reading the book we were assigned. It was a pleasant if monotonous way to spend forty-five minutes, yet I had trouble entirely concentrating on the conversation at hand. My mind kept wandering to the fact that I was about to enter my single shared class with Edward.
At last, the bell rang, and I made my way to biology. Time seemed to be moving slowly, and every step seemed to take longer. I resisted the urge to speed to my class – that would definitely attract some attention to me – and finally got to the door just as Edward did.
We locked gazes for a moment, and I tried not to think that my contacts might have slipped and shown some of the crimson of my eyes. His gaze seemed to search mine, and I forced a smile. “Hey there,” I said to him, hoping I sounded casual. “How are you?”
“I'm well,” he answered. “And yourself?”
“Fantastic,” I said flatly. “I can't deny how elated I am to read For Whom the Bell Tolls.”
I relaxed when his lips curved into that crooked smile that I found so endearing. He held the door open for me, and I walked in, relaxing. So far, he didn’t seem suspicious, but at the same time, it's not like I could read his mind.
This reminder had me on edge again, and I recalled the conversation he had with his friend in the forest the day before. Had he spoken to Jacob's father? Did Jacob's father have any information on us vampires, or was he just some crazy old man hung up on the legends? And what would Edward do with the knowledge of vampires should he have it?
I found myself unable to focus on the lecture, as usual, and instead glanced to Edward often without making myself obvious. He seemed relaxed, listening intently on the subject of cellular replication. Though I knew it would only distract me, I made myself breathe, just in case Edward noticed I wasn't. I couldn't afford him getting any more suspicious than he already was.
But with every intake of air, I caught his scent, that indescribably glorious smell that drove me up the wall. I felt my fangs shift in my mouth and an odd sense of warmth go down my chest and into my belly. Once again, I found myself wanting to touch him, to put my hands on his body, to have our bodies touch without the interference of cloth.
I shook my head, trying to push these thoughts out of my mind. I had to focus on the problem at hand, not what my groin was telling me, but I could hardly bear to sit there and continually smell him. Part of me wondered if this was what it was like to be in heat. I had no idea why Edward had this effect on me, as no other mortal had, and I realized I hadn't yet talked to Ana about this issue.
By the time class was over, I was just barely holding onto my sense of reason. I was about three inhalations away from jumping Edward's bones, and I was going to hurry out of class as soon as I could when I heard Edward ask, “So what do you like to read?”
I briefly froze, then lifted my gaze to his face. “Read?” I repeated stupidly.
“I assume you can,” he said in a light tone.
I let out a nervous chuckle. “Of course. Well, I did take up your recommendation yesterday. I’d never read The Great Gatsby before—but I told you that.” I shook my head. “It was great.”
Edward’s eyebrows rose. “You finished it?”
“Yeah. I mean, it’s not that long of a novel.” Surely it wasn’t a great feat to finish such a short novel in a day, right? Of course I had more time than a human who needed to sleep, but anyone could have finished it in an afternoon.”
We both made our way out of the biology room, and Edward turned to me just before I parted from him to head to the gym. “If you like, maybe we could get together and chat about the book,” he said with cool confidence.
My mind was simultaneously screaming YES and NO, and for vastly different reasons. Another part of my mind was justifying that his willingness to spend time with me was a good sign that he didn't think I was a vampire, while another was wondering if he'd lead me into a trap. I was so confused and torn by all of this that I just spat out the first thing that came to my mind, which was, oddly enough, “I have a dentist appointment soon.”
I'm sure I looked at dumbfounded by my words as he did, but I quickly turned and left without another word. If I could still blush, my cheeks would be burning bright red.