School was starting to fall into a normal pattern for me. On Thursday morning, I talked to Mike and whoever was with him (that day, it was Lauren and Tyler) outside for a few minutes, then passed through my classes while trying not to look entirely checked out. Then at lunch, after a contact change, I sat with my usual crowd in the cafeteria and listen to their chatter. I had at one point attempted to track down Edward during the beginning of lunch, but it seemed he had disappeared somewhere. I surmised he must have gone home during lunch, and I was rather disappointed to discover this.
Biology, however, was what I was waiting for. Edward was already there by the time I got in, and I sat down next to him with a friendly smile. He smiled back tentatively, which I rather expected, considering my odd behavior from the previous day. “Sorry about yesterday,” I said, deciding to bite the bullet and get this issue out of the way. “I was stressing about some things at home. I might have come off strangely.”
“That's okay,” he said, glancing down at his books. I noticed the way a lock of his auburn hair fell in his face, and I caught my hand moving up to brush it back. I sat on my hand to prevent any further unconscious attempt to touch him.
Class started up then, and since he was so intent on listening to the teacher, I didn't bother him with idle chatter. I was continuously distracted by Edward's scent (I was still being sure to act human, after all) and very much caught off-guard when the teacher introduced a quiz. Apparently this quiz had been announced two days ago, and all of us students had plenty of time to prepare for it. Except I had spent the entire week in this class focused on Edward in one way or another. I hadn't learned a single thing, nor had I even brought my biology book home; I didn't know a thing about the subject.
I was about to fail a simple quiz in a human high school. Now that was embarrassing.
The quiz took all of a few minutes, and it went about as well for me as I could have figured. I didn't know a single thing about any term listed on the sheet, nor could I have expanded upon any of these answers. I left every question blank.
But the nightmare wasn't yet over. The teacher instructed us students to switch test papers to be “peer graded”. What was this madness? What teacher would ever trust students to give each other accurate grading? I glanced around the room, hoping this was some kind of abnormality and I would find confused looked on other kids' faces, but my hopes were dashed as I watched everyone exchange quizzes without a single thought.
“Here, Bella,” Edward said, and I looked over at him. He had switched our papers as I was looking away, and I tried not to groan as I watched his expression. His eyebrows rose as he looked at my blank paper, then looked up at me again.
I smiled tightly and made myself focus on the teacher's voice as he read aloud the answers to the quiz. Of course, Edward aced the test. For all I knew, it was incredibly easy that any child with a modern education would have understood. Unfortunately, I didn't have much of a modern education.
I handed Edward back his quiz at the end with an awkward “You did well.”
He smiled his cute, crooked smile. “Were you just rebelling against the school, or do you have some trouble with biology?” he asked, his tone light.
“I've never had a good grip on science,” I told him.
The bell rang for class to get out, and as I started collecting my things to leave, Edward asked, “Would you perhaps like some help? We could always study together.”
The suggestion sent a bolt of excitement through my body, and I immediately imagined the two of us alone together, textbooks open, but ignored as the both of us focused our attention elsewhere. I highly doubted that was the intention of Edward's inquiry, but I thought of it nonetheless, and it certainly influenced my answer when I said, “I'd love that, Edward.”
We walked out of class together, agreeing to meet each other in the library after school for a little while. I went on to gym feeling light as air and giddy, and I was hardly bothered by the fact that I had to play so delicately at the game of the day, which happened to be tennis.
It wasn't until I was in the middle of a game, paired up with Mike of course, that I realized the possible consequences of being a very distracted vampire alone with a human who was already wary of said vampirism. I cursed and stopped in my tracks, but I heard the ball zooming towards me. Without thinking, I hit the ball away with my racquet, harder than I should have. The little ball sailed across our court, entirely through another and hit the back wall of the gym with a loud pop sound.
The ten or so people around us who saw stopped and stared at me. I stood stock still, glancing from each face, trying to read beyond the surprised looks. Did they wonder where my strength had come from? Did it cross their minds that I had supernatural strength?
“Dang, Bella,” Mike said beside me, and I stiffly turned to him. “You sure got an arm on you!” He laughed, which seemed to catch onto some of the other children around us, and I relaxed for the moment. As the game resumed, I mentally gave myself a kick for slipping up like that, and I reminded myself that I had to be vigilant in how I conducted myself. After all, exposure was one of the worst laws a vampire could not break.
The only thing I could think about was how I might slip up around Edward, confirm his suspicions and force Ana and myself to move once again. By the time school was out, and I was slowly making my way towards the school's library, I was just about ready to bolt. In fact, when I saw the library's pale orange double doors, I turned right around to head towards the parking lot. I'd just tell Edward the next day that something came up. There was no way I could--
Bang. I ran right into a mountain of soft, warm flesh and cotton tee-shirt, and took in a deep breath of that heady scent that shattered my thoughts in a second and sparked excitement throughout my body. “Whoa, sorry- Oh, hey, Bella.” I heard Edward's voice very close, and looked up into his bespectacled dark eyes, hyper-aware of the way his large hands gripped my shoulders. “Are you okay?”
“I'm fine,” I said, noticing the husky note in my voice. I straightened up and cleared my throat. “Sorry I ran into you like that.”
“Don't worry about it,” he said with a smile. His hands lingered on my shoulders a touch longer than necessary before he removed them and gestured toward the library. “Shall we?” he asked, and I merely nodded, walking in step with him right up to those pale orange doors.
That little bump into Edward's body left me aching to touch him more, but somehow, I managed to push that thought out of my mind and sit down with him at a table civilly. The other humans in sight helped me retain my self-control.
I calmed down further once Edward started to talk about biology, and dropped words like “mitochondria” and “diffusion” because, honestly, there wasn't a more sobering subject that I could think of. I didn't expect Edward to get right down to business so soon, as most teenagers, and humans in general, liked to chit-chat and make small talk before undergoing a task. Or in place of the task, as some people were wont to do.
It helped me to focus more on the reason why we had met in the first place. I managed to push all naughty thoughts out of my mind, or at least to the back of my mind. I took a risk on not breathing, figuring Edward was too focused on the task at hand to notice the lack of my chest rising and falling.
We spent a good amount of time going over the basics of biology, with Edward cracking out the textbook. He was a good teacher, or maybe it was just that I was actually paying attention to the words he was saying, because I was starting to understand this biology stuff, and very well, too.
By the time Edward had paused to stand up and stretch, I had pretty much learned everything that had been on that quiz earlier today, though my head felt a bit like it was full of water from the knowledge I had just dumped on my mind.
“Oh wow, it's already five-thirty,” Edward said, glancing at his wrist watch. I glanced out a window and saw that the sun had gone down, with just barely a few minutes of light left. “We should probably get going. The library closes at six.”
“And I was just getting started,” I said flatly, but grinned at Edward.
“I wouldn't be surprised if you were willing to take on this whole book tonight, sleep be damned,” he said, and I laughed lightly. Oh, if only he knew.
We walked out to the parking lot together, and he even walked me to my car. I thought it was a sweet effort, even if in reality, I should be the one to walk him to his car. I'm sure he would have even opened the door for me, if I hadn't been the one to reach the door handle first.
I opened my door, but turned to Edward with a smile. “Thank you, Mr. Masen,” I said.
He returned my smile and said without skipping a beat, “You're very welcome, Miss Swanson.” I could have kissed him, standing there in the cold air, and I wanted nothing more than to feel the warmth of his hands on my skin. I was quickly losing my control on my feelings. “I'll see you tomorrow.”
“Certainly,” I breathed, and I was sure we were both leaning ever so slightly closer to each other. I took in a breath, letting his scent wash over me, and I was sure I saw his eyes flicker to my lips for a split second.
We stood like that for a moment, then he let out a breath. “Have a good night, Bella,” he said, averting his gaze.
“You too,” I said, slipping into the driver seat of my car. He closed my door for me – the gentleman – and I watched him walk across the small parking lot to what I presumed was his car. I raised my eyebrows at the sleek, shiny black luxury car. I could tell it was a new model, perhaps from last year, and I wondered if he was borrowing his parents' car. In my experience, it was unusual for an adolescent to possess such an expensive vehicle.
The drive home was calm, though my insides weren't. I was still warm with excitement from being around Edward, recalling how he felt in our quick collision earlier that day. He felt as soft and warm as I imagined. Part of me wished Edward didn't have the power to reduce me to a quivering pool of goo, but at the same time, I absolutely enjoyed it.
I was in such a good mood when I got home that I was easily able to deal with Ana's meddling questions and continuing insistence that I invite Edward over for dinner. I spent the night blissfully flipping through my biology book, more reliving my day than actually reviewing what I had learned.
What a week it had been! Just four days down in my high school career. I suppose I could hardly call it boring. And I was looking forward to the fifth day, Friday, when I would again meet with Edward. Perhaps something more would happen between us. Could I risk that, at this stage? Did I truly want to?
I never really got the chance to figure out those answers. By the time the sun rose at seven the next morning, I noticed that there was not a cloud in the sky. The bright sun shone down on chilly Forks, illuminating the colorful houses and cars on our block. It reflected brightly off of the fresh-fallen snow from the night before, and I knew that in an hour or two, the warm sunlight would turn that snow to slush.
But more importantly, that sunlight would cause my skin to shimmer, which humans most certainly did not do normally. Though I could cover up with clothing, my face would be exposed. Even with make-up on, the sparkle would show through. Should I pass even under the slightest patch of sunlight, my face would be aglow, and I would be exposed.
I sat by my window, dressed for school, hoping with every fiber of my being that clouds would come and block the sun. Unfortunately for me, it turned out the whole day was forecast to be a clear, warm day.
Good for humans, bad for vampires.