“Bella.” Edward smiled and stood up as I approached, and I took in his form. He looked good, dressed in a pair of dark blue jeans that hugged his hips and beige button-down that smoothed out his body. His auburn hair was combed back from his face, and in the dim light of the restaurant, the small red acne marks on his face were downplayed. For a moment, I felt like my heart began to beat again.
There was a very short pause where I gazed into his dark eyes and I wanted to kiss him. I made sure I was breathing. “What happened yesterday?” he asked at last.
“Yesterday?” I couldn't help but glance at Jacob. The boy had his gaze set on his glass of soda, but I got the feeling he was watching me. “I woke up with a fever,” I lied, wondering if that was even a valid excuse. I mean, when I was alive, fevers were a huge deal. But now, with modern medicine, I doubted fevers even bothered anyone.
“I see,” he said. “Good that you're feeling better.” We locked gazes once more, and for a moment, it seemed like he was concentrating on me. It made me feel a little uncomfortable, and I cleared my throat to break the moment.
“Who's your friend?” I asked to move on, turning my gaze to Jacob.
“Oh, right,” Edward mumbled awkwardly. “This is Jacob Black. Jacob, this is Bella.” Jacob looked up at me finally, and he smiled just as tightly as I was. I didn't miss the way Edward said my name, as if he was trying to avoid putting any significant note to his voice and had failed. I got the feeling I was certainly talked about between the two boys.
“Nice to meet you, Bella,” Jacob said, standing as well. Up close, I realized he was only a little taller than I was. He put his hand out to shake mine, and my mind flipped back to when Edward described me as cold. It made me reluctant to grasp Jacob's warm hand, and I noticed that he seemed to run rather warm, as if he were the one with a fever.
The shock of our very extreme temperatures made the both of us release each other quickly. Ana said he probably didn't know he was a werewolf, and that he probably didn't know I was a vampire, but I wasn't willing to lay my money on that bet. He looked at me almost hostilely, as if my very presence disturbed and repulsed him – and honestly, the feeling was a little mutual.
“Nice running into you, Edward,” I said, noticing how mechanical my voice sounded. I hoped I wasn't insulting him with my reaction to Jacob. Then again, all things considering, I think this was a very reasonable reaction. “I should get back to my friends. I'll see you on Monday.”
“Certainly,” he said, his gaze glancing between Jacob and me. “Have a good night, Bella. Stay safe.”
“You too,” I said and quickly retreated back to my table. I sat down next to Angela, facing Jessica, and she was just buzzing and was ready to grill me, probably ask who Jacob was. However, I could hardly concentrate on her questions. I kept glancing over to Edward and Jacob's table. I saw their lips moving, but between the distance and the noise in the restaurant, I couldn't make out what they were saying.
“Bella, are you okay?” Angela asked, and I snapped back to reality.
I smiled apologetically. “Sorry,” I said to both her and Jessica. “I'm just a bit distracted.”
“I'd be distracted by that hot cup of coffee,” Jessica said, glancing over at Jacob. I stared at her for a moment, then just burst into a fit of laughter. It was the releasing-all-tension kind of laughter, and I'm sure Jessica was giving me a weird look, but it felt so good to calm down after that tense few moments. “So who is that?” Jessica asked me curiously after I'd gotten a handle on myself.
“That's Edward's friend Jacob,” I told her. “I don't think he goes to our school.”
“Oh no,” she said, taking a sip of her iced tea. “He's got to be from Christo Rey. Definitely not the kind of guy my parents would want to date.” Angela let out a small giggle, which she stifled into napkin.
“And why is that?” I asked.
“Christo Rey’s a rough town,” Angela explained. “It’s a wrong side of the tracks situation, you know? They’ve got gangs and crime, and the people of Forks keep their distance like crime doesn’t happen here.” She rolled her eyes.
I nodded my understanding, then smiled at Jessica. “Don't forget about Mike so easily,” I teased her, and I was rewarded with a giggle.
We ordered dinner. I stuck to a simple salad, not wanting to test the boundaries of my taste buds just yet. I picked at this salad as we chatted over dinner, but my gaze would return to Edward throughout the evening. Despite myself, I sniffed the air, hoping to catch his scent. Unfortunately, it was lost among the scents of every other human in that restaurant, and there were a lot of them.
I knew both Angela and Jessica could see how distracted I was by Edward, but neither brought up the subject. As we were walking out to the car after dinner, though, Angela said to me quietly, “I hope you and Edward go out. You suit each other.”
I smiled at her and said, “So do I.” It was the first time I had verbally expressed my feelings towards Edward to anyone other than Ana, and I felt a rush of giddiness that left me restless in the back of Jessica's car on the way home. I tried to calm down, to remind myself of the complicated issue that Jacob presented, but my body had other ideas.
Jessica dropped me off at home. I thanked her for the day out, waved goodbye and walked inside, grinning stupidly to myself. I was glad for the time out with my friends, and for the fact that I finally had friends to do this with. I hoped I had many more days out like this ahead of me.
Ana wasn't home when I got inside, but that was fine with me. I was felt a little fatigued by my day out amongst other people, and so I laid down on my futon to rest for a few hours.
It was during this rest period that I had a little fantasy, a bit like a dream. I couldn’t really stop my mind from creating these images, and I was in no mood to try. I imagined myself sitting in the forest, on a fallen log, surrounded by the greenery of summer. It was a clear, warm day, and the sun was shining through the thick trees in patches. A few spots of sunlight hit my skin, reflecting off with a brilliant glimmer.
I heard approaching footsteps, and out from behind a large tree trunk came Edward. He looked upon me with a sense of awe as he slowly walked toward me. His dark eyes swept over my body, lingering on the parts that shined in the sunlight. I smiled at his awe, and I held my hand out to him. Without hesitation, he took it and I eased him up onto the log beside me.
His hand was soft and warm around mine, and I didn't let go. Instead, I pulled him close and breathed in his heady scent. I felt his free hand on my side and feel down my leg, leaving a trail of tingles on my skin where he touched. I felt along his chest, feeling his heartbeat beneath his warm flesh, and I heard the deep rumble of his rich blood coursing through his veins. His fingers felt along my lower back, sending me shivering, and my teeth slid out.
He gazed at my face for a while, his eyes trained on the sharp fangs that protruded from my mouth. There wasn't any fear coming off of him, but rather a sense of curiosity. This changed in a beat, though, when I realized that we were moving closer to each other. I felt his hot breath on my lips, and I eagerly anticipated the kiss that I knew would send me into throes of passion I had yet to experience, when I heard the slam of the front door that totally ripped me from this fantasy.
I sat up on my futon, at first confused as to why I wasn't in the forest. Disappointment, then anger flew through me when I realized it was just a figment of my imagination that had been interrupted, and I desperately wanted to lay back down and see if I could return to it, but I heard Ana calling for me.
I sighed and stood up, my knees feeling a little less than stable. I ignored the distinctly warm feeling in my lower belly and walked out into the hallway, trying not to scowl.
I found Ana in the kitchen, having set some plastic bags down on the table. For a moment, I thought she had bought more food, but then I realized that these bags had the name of the bookstore in Port Angeles on them. “What did you buy?” I asked, walking up to the table.
“I got you a few presents,” she said with a grin, handing me a heavy bag. I peered inside to find three dense volumes. I pulled one out and read the title: Cooking for Kids: Introducing Your Child to the Joys of Cooking.
I stared at the brightly-colored cover featuring sugar cookies cut into shapes of stars and horseshoes. I raised my gaze to Ana, who just grinned. “You have got to be kidding me,” I said flatly.
With a laugh, Ana said, “I asked the bookstore clerk what good books there were to teach people how to cook, and she highly recommended this one. Don't let the fact that it's for kids bother you.”
I rolled my eyes. “I know how to cook,” I protested, putting the book on the table.
“You know how to cook in the 19th century,” she pointed out, and I couldn't help but glance at the kitchen counters, and at the shiny appliances on them. “These books will teach you how to cook in the 21st century.”
I pulled out another volume, this one twice as big as the first: The Beginner's Guide to Slow Cooker Cooking. I wasn't even sure what the “slow cooker” was, but I mainly wondered why a beginner's guide needed to be over three hundred pages. The final volume was sleeker than the book before it, but heavier and no doubt filled with full-color, glossy pages. It was entitled Seasonal Cooking for the Family.
“Well, thanks,” I said with little enthusiasm. Compared to what I was just experiencing a few moments ago, this was just downright dull.
“Listen,” Ana said, picking up the other three bags she had brought in with her, “I'm not trying to force you into cooking. I just know how much you used to love it, and I want you to have resources available to you if you decide to pick it up again.” I couldn't help but smile. Even if Ana seemed a little dotty in the head, at least there was method to her madness. I just wish I could always know what this method was.
“That's assuming I have the capacity to figure out all the things that go into modern cooking,” I joked lightly, and Ana grinned.
“I'm still hoping you invite Edward over,” she said as she left the room, and I just rolled my eyes.
If I were going to invite Edward over, it would be for something far more interesting than slow cooker cooking.