Today is my first day of school in Forks, Washington. I am a junior and to most people, I seem like a typical teenage girl, if not quite as talkative or outgoing as the rest of them seem to be here. There's a reason for that. I may look like a normal teenage girl, and in some ways, I am, but in others, I am light years away from normal. Normal girls don't spend their nights prowling the streets looking for a demon or two to kill, but that's what I was doing at three o'clock this morning. Unfortunately, there was a lot of prowling and not much killing, but that's to be expected in a sleepy town like Forks. They roll up the streets at nine o'clock and, even though it makes the Slayer inside of me crazy, it makes my mother feel safer to have me here. It wasn't safe in Phoenix anymore. They had to send an experienced team in to clean house and they said that could take a few months. It was good timing that my stepfather was signed with a minor league baseball team and my mom could travel with him. I had suggested that I go to the Cleveland base and attend school there with the other Slayers in training, but my mother, Renee, wasn't too happy with that. It wasn't possible for me to be home-schooled and travel with her and Phil, so I decided the best course of action would be to go and live with my father, Charlie, for a while.
Charlie and I are getting along well enough now that I took over the household. We had to have a strict conversation about how long take-out can stay in the refrigerator before it officially becomes a science experiment, but once we ironed that out, it's been pretty decent. He knows about me being a Slayer, too, and he doesn't like it, but he is more supportive than Renee has ever been. He didn't complain when I turned the basement into a makeshift gym so I could stay in shape. Actually, I think he was glad that I cleaned it out. I don't think he had cleaned it out since Renee left and took me with her. I found an old rocking horse and a Slip'n'Slide that I only vaguely remembered from my childhood.
I pulled out the class schedule Charlie picked up for me just before I arrived. Unlike my old school in Phoenix, this school had a large sprawling campus and I would have to brave the near-constant rain in between classes to get to the other buildings. It seemed to me that it should have been the other way around. Where the sun shines nearly every day, it would be good to get a few minutes of Vitamin D in between classes, but instead here we are apparently expected to risk developing pneumonia on a daily basis to get from English to Math. I made a mental note to get the flu shot even though the flu season was just about over.
Looking at my schedule, I sighed as I saw my last period of the day: Gym class. The bane of my existence, both before and after I became a Slayer. Somehow, becoming a Slayer hasn't really improved my coordination in everyday tasks. I may be able to accurately thrust a stake directly through a Vampire's chest cavity and into its heart, but I can't really manage to put one foot in front of the other for more than twenty paces before I trip over absolutely nothing. I really, really dreaded going to gym. Not only do I have to check my strength, but I still have to contend with my inability to actually understand the rules of the various games we are required to play. In Phoenix, they understood my malady and were more than happy to excuse me from gym class after I simultaneously kicked a ball into the wrong goal—right through the goal, actually—and slipped in the one patch of mud on the entire field—no idea where it came from; it was just there—and managing to take out three players on the other team as I went down. With my Slayer constitution, I was able to stand up and walk away, but one of the other girls had a broken leg and I was declared a danger to myself and others, so I was allowed to be the coach's assistant for the rest of the year, as long as I didn't touch any equipment or stand too close to anyone else.
I sighed and pulled the hood of my jacket over my head. Time to brave the not so throngs of students. Fortunately, I already had my books and syllabi. Charlie was so happy that I was coming to live with him that he was more than willing to pick them up so I wouldn't feel like I was starting well behind everyone else. I was glad that my first class was English. We would be reading The Scarlett Letter and we covered that book in Phoenix the previous semester, so I was fairly confident that I would be okay in that class.
As I suspected, my first class went fine, even if the teacher did try to make me tell the class about my life in Phoenix. Fortunately, someone took pity on me and asked a question about the reading materials and that seemed to distract him long enough that I was able to sit down and avoid the embarrassing scene altogether. Really, what was I supposed to tell them? I couldn't exactly tell them the truth. Well, you see, two of the street gangs in Phoenix are actually now rival vampire street gangs wreaking havoc on the city and they basically decided to start killing anyone I so much as waved to on the street because I apparently wore the wrong color shirt the night I killed one of their lieutenants. Yeah, that'll go over real well.
I didn't really expect to make a lot of friends here, but I had hopes of actually having at least one or two people to talk to. That likely wouldn't happen if they found out that the few friends I had back in Phoenix were all dead now. Willow made sure that it would be extremely difficult for the vampire gangs to track me up to Forks and Faith said she would keep them so busy they wouldn't have time to wonder where I had disappeared to, so I was reasonably certain that I hadn't been followed and wasn't putting this small town in any danger.
The bell rang and I was grateful that math had been relatively painless, although I knew I was going to struggle with some of the proofs we had to do for homework. Maybe Jessica would be able to help me. She had given me her phone number and told me I could call her if I got lost. She seems nice enough even if she does seem to obsess about boys and clothes a little too much for my taste. Still, she invited me to sit with her at lunch, so hopefully that is a good sign.
History was uneventful and I gave a silent cheer that my day was half over and I hadn't managed to close anyone, or anything, in my locker, hadn't tripped down any stairs and only got lost once. It was off to lunch for this hungry girl. I had managed to sneak a protein bar in between English and Math, but my internal Slayer clock was telling me it was time to put more fuel in. I wanted to go patrolling again tonight and knew I needed to keep my energy up. I’d gone patrolling the two previous evenings with no results, but tonight was the beginning of the full moon, so I was holding out hope that it might bring out some kind of demon or creature I could slay. I’d drive to Port Angeles if I had to.
I grabbed a tray from the stack as soon as I entered the cafeteria. Part of keeping a low profile meant I couldn't load my tray with everything I normally would, so I just kept it simple: a slice of pizza, a small salad and a Snapple. I looked down at the meager tray and groaned internally; I would be hungry again in an hour. I resolved that I would have to start packing my own lunches, knowing that I could creatively hide the protein and carbs I needed.
After I paid, Jess was already waving me over, so I smiled at her reassuringly and made my way to the table. The girl who had saved me in English class, Angela, was also sitting there and I recognized one of the boys from math, but I didn't know his name. He offered me a friendly smile and held a chair out for me as I went to sit down.
"Hi, I'm Mike," he greeted me, taking the seat next to me and leaning toward me.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jessica's expression darken and decided that I needed to tread carefully or I would risk alienating the first friend I had made today.
"Hi," I replied quickly and then turned toward Jessica. "Jess, you seemed to really know what you were doing in math today. I'm usually pretty okay at it, but proofs are my arch nemesis. What time do you do your math homework? If I call you then, can we stay on the phone and do our homework together in case I get stuck?"
"Sure, Bella," Jessica replied, her smile bright once again. I didn't know if it was the compliment I gave her or because I really didn't pay any attention to Mike or a combination of both, but I seemed to have managed to stay in her good graces. "Call me around seven, okay?"
"Great, thanks, Jess," I smiled in return. "I really appreciate it."
The rest of the group arrived then and I was introduced to several more people whose names I couldn't remember after the introductions were done. I knew I would learn them eventually, but I had met so many people that a few of them were slipping through the cracks. Everyone seemed to get along and we ate in amiable silence until the cafeteria door opened again and five of the most beautiful people I had ever seen walked in. There were two blonds, two with very dark hair and one with unruly bronze colored hair that seemed to stick out in every direction. He was the youngest looking of the boys and he seemed to be caught in between the stages of lanky teen and grown man. The others were beautiful, but he was entirely perfect. When his eyes turned in my direction and I saw that they were the most interesting golden color, I choked slightly on my Snapple and that caught Jessica's attention. She followed my gaze and smirked, apparently eager to dole out some good old-fashioned gossip.
"Those are the Cullens," she told me. "They moved down here from Alaska a few years ago. They never talk to anyone but themselves. They're all adopted or something like that. It's weird, though."
"Weird how?" I asked, my curiosity getting the better of me as I watched them all settle around one table.
"It's not weird," Angela argued. "They aren't actually related, Jessica."
"So what? They live together," Jessica insisted.
"What am I missing?" I asked to stop them from continuing the verbal ping-pong match.
Jessica sighed and waved at Angela, who picked up where Jess had left off. "Anyway, like I was saying, only the blond ones are related by blood. They live with the Cullens, but they’re the Hale twins, Rosalie and Jasper. Rosalie is dating Emmett Cullen; he's the really big one. Jasper is with Alice Cullen, obviously the one next to him, and the last one is Edward Cullen. Jess is right that they all tend to keep to themselves, but can you blame them? I'm sure it's not easy being adopted and then moving out of the state."
"Yeah," Mike interjected. "Makes you wonder if they had to move for some reason."
"Mike," one of the other boys said, rolling his eyes. "Cut it out. They've never done anything to you. They've never done anything to anyone, so just let it go already."
"What?" I asked. This conversation could be considered research I tried to convince myself, even as I knew I just wanted to know as much about Edward Cullen as I could possibly find out.
"Don't listen to him, Bella," Angela told me. "Mike just doesn't like anyone who shows him up in gym class."
"Well, then I don't have anything to fear," I replied, laughing. "I'll never show anyone up in gym. In fact, I'm taking bets now as to how long they’ll still allow me to participate."
This launched a new discussion as to why I am such a disaster at any organized activity and let me watch the Cullen table with my periphery vision.
The one Angela said was named Emmett had said something amusing at the expense of Edward because he threw a carrot at the larger boy while the rest of the table laughed at both of them. Emmett just shook off the carrot and leaned into Rosalie, whispering something to her that made her smile wickedly. Whatever it was, Edward must have heard it because it made him grimace.
The first bell rang and we all started hustling to gather our things.
"Are they allergic to sunlight or something? They're all paler than I am," I commented under my breath as I was packing up to leave. I was still watching them and saw two of them—the blonds—look in my direction at my statement. Hmm...I wonder if it is possible, I thought, but dismissed it almost immediately. Even it was a possibility, the odds that supernatural creatures would be spending their time in high school seemed unlikely, but still, it wouldn't hurt to test my theory.
"Actually, it's just the opposite," Mike replied. Apparently, he had heard me as well, but that made more sense considering he was standing next to me. The Cullens, on the other hand, were all the way across the room. Not really needing me to acknowledge him, Mike continued, "They’re never here on sunny days because their parents take them out hiking. They get new camping gear from my parents' store all the time. Hey, that reminds me, we're about to put up a sign for part-time help if you are interested."
I was definitely interested. I pushed my alternate theory of why they were absent on sunny days to the back of my mind to focus on the possibility of a paycheck. Charlie had enough expenses and being a Slayer wasn't exactly easy on the wardrobe. I really didn't mind shopping at the thrift store in Phoenix, but in a small town like Forks, I wasn't sure if they even had one, so I let Mike change the topic as we walked to biology together and I told him that I definitely wanted the job if his parents thought I would qualify. Mike assured me that I would and I wasn't sure what his basis for 'qualifications' were, but there were very few flexible part-time jobs in Forks and I needed the money, so I ignored the implications and hoped that his parents would believe that I could do the job.
As we entered the biology classroom, the teacher, Mr. Molina, told me that I would be sitting in the only open seat, right next to the enigma himself, Edward Cullen. He was glaring at me openly as I came to sit next to him and I saw a flash of panic in his eyes—his coal black eyes. I knew his eyes had been a light golden color not ten minutes ago in the cafeteria.
I added up the evidence presented to me and felt a pang of worry run through me. I didn't let it progress into full-on fear because I knew if he smelled my fear, it would be over. His kind was different than the usual ones. His kind was much more deadly...and much less killable. If he wanted me dead, I would be, and from the looks of it, he was barely holding onto his sanity.
I quickly scribbled a note and passed it forward to Mike when Mr. Molina wasn't looking. By the time Mr. Molina had turned back around, Mike had his hand in the air and was asking, "It’s getting kind of stuffy way back here. Can we open some of the windows?"
Mr. Molina agreed and, as Mike walked past my desk to open the window, he met my eyes and I mouthed a 'thank you' to him. He nodded his head and winked at me when he returned to his seat.
Edward seemed to do better once the windows were open, but I could still see him struggling. I wasn't sure if it was my Slayer that he could sense that was making him freak out or if there was just something about me that was setting him off, but I tried to keep myself as still as possible for the forty-five minutes we had to sit next to each other and made it a point to breathe in the other direction.
My plans to patrol tonight were immediately postponed. Tonight, I would dig out my notes from the few summer classes I had been able to attend in Cleveland where we talked about the different types of Vampires that roamed the earth. Right now, I just needed to survive until then.
What I did know for certain was that the five individuals that had been sitting at the Cullen lunch table were Vampires.
Up Next: Edward’s POV of their first meeting