“…And we’ll pick up there tomorrow,” Mr. Berty said as the bell rang. “Your assignment is to finish this scene.”
The English class groaned as I closed Renee’s battered and torn copy of Romeo and Juliet and picked up my books, gazing longingly at the empty seat beside me. Edward’s seat.
I sighed and walked out of the classroom and into the brilliant sunlight. Lifting a hand to shield my eyes from the light, I stumbled forward blindly, tripping over some random object in the first three steps, hitting the deck, and sending my books and binders flying everywhere. A few heads turned, but quickly swiveled back, as if to say Oh, it’s just Bella tripping again. Of course. Nothing new or exciting or interesting at all here.
I scrambled around on my hands and knees, scraping my palms on the sidewalk as I collected my books and grumbling to myself. If Edward were here, he would have caught me. I lifted one hand and cringed as I saw the blood, holding my breath as I lowered it and stood, walking with my head down as I walked to my truck.
And then it started to rain. Of course.
As soon as I opened the door to the ancient red monster, I threw in my book bag, peeled off my raincoat, and jammed the keys in the ignition, jerking the car into reverse with an unceremonious puff of black smoke from the rear. I gripped the wheel tightly, biting my lip and staring at the pavement in front of me with hatred. It had not been a good day.
Not only had I had that little episode outside the English room, but Mike Newton had stalked me nonstop, talking advantage of the fact that Edward was absent due to one of his “hiking trips” with the rest of his family. I had to physically push him away as he tried to hug me after dropping me off at Biology—another class that Edward and I shared, except that he wasn’t here. Of course, at the very end of the day, it would start to rain. The only time that Edward and the Cullens could possibly come out was the point where I had to leave.
The windshield wipers streaked across the glass, smearing rather than clearing away the water that tapped continually on my windshield. And, the worst—Edward wasn’t there. Which would have been horrible enough without all the extra stuff.
I pulled into Charlie’s driveway and ran inside, pulling up my hood to protect my hair from the rain. I had actually taken Alice’s advice and straightened it today, and it had looked pretty good. I had been so excited to show her—except that she wasn’t there.
I opened the door and tripped over the doorstep, catching myself before I could break my face. “Charlie?” I called, but got no response. As I continued walking into the door, I saw a note on the counter.
Working tonight, probably won’t be home until late. Call if you need help with anything.
Thanks, Charlie. I knew that “late” for him usually meant not coming home at all—his “late work” nights usually turned out to be poker and Vitamin R for the chief, deputy, and the rest of the Forks police.
I kicked off my shoes and trod up the stairs to my room. When I got there, I slammed my backpack on my bed and got out my assignments. I did them all easily—Forks High School’s curriculum was still behind what I was doing sophomore year back in Phoenix—and then fell back onto my bed, covering my face with a pillow. I was bored out of my mind, like I had been this entire day. I glanced over at the clock on my bedside table, which read 6:47. Well, better start dinner.
I heated up leftover spaghetti while I watched the news. An anchorwoman with an expensive-looking suit and chic haircut appeared on the screen and spoke in a monotone voice. “Tonight’s top story: four more cases of murder in Seattle have been reported over the past week. All the victims were somewhere in the Jefferson and Kitsap county areas. All residents of Jefferson and surrounding counties, make sure you keep your children inside after sunset…”
But I wasn’t really listening anymore. Jefferson county… that was getting close to Forks…
A high-pitched beeping noise interrupted my thoughts: the timer on the microwave. I retrieved my dinner and ate in silence, keeping the television on but not really paying attention. I just needed some background noise to consume the empty silence that filled Charlie’s house at night. With the army of newborns loose in Seattle and Victoria still on the loose… I shuddered and turned up the volume.
I washed my plate and turned off the television, then walked upstairs, realizing that I hadn’t done my English homework yet. But I had already memorized the balcony scene—what we were doing for homework tonight. So… I guess that meant that I was done.
It was 8:30, and the night sky was almost black. I saw the automatic porch light come on outside my window and jumped as I heard the voice.
“But soft… what light through yonder window breaks?”
And then I recognized the voice. I all but flew to the window to see Edward standing in the yard with a rose in his hand, his eyes a gorgeous shade of butterscotch.
“It is the East, and Juliet is the sun. Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, who is already sick and pale with grief, that thou her maid art far more fair than she: be not her maid, since she is envious; her vestal livery is but sick and green and none but fools do wear it; cast it off. It is my lady, O, it is my love! O, that she knew she were! She speaks yet she says nothing: what of that? Her eye discourses; I will answer it. I am too bold, 'tis not to me she speaks: two of the fairest stars in all the heaven, having some business, do entreat her eyes to twinkle in their spheres till they return. What if her eyes were there, they in her head? The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars, as daylight doth a lamp; her eyes in heaven would through the airy region stream so bright that birds would sing and think it were not night. See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand! O, that I were a glove upon that hand, that I might touch that cheek!”
I dramatically slapped my forehead with the back of my hand. “Ay me!”
He raised the rose into the air, our eyes locked. “She speaks: O, speak again, bright angel! For thou art as glorious to this night, being o’er my head as is a winged messenger of heaven unto the white-upturned wondering eyes of mortals that fall back to gaze on him when he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds and sails upon the bosom of the air.”
I leaned an elbow against the windowsill and gazed out into the starry night, clear again as the rain had stopped. “O Romeo, Romeo… wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name… or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, and I’ll no longer be a Capulet.”
“Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this?”
“’Tis but thy name that is my enemy. Thou art thyself, though not a Montague. What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face, not any other part belonging to a man. O, be some other name! What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet…” I couldn’t help but smile at this moment. I reached out into the night sky. “So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called, retain that dear perfection which he owes without that title. Romeo, doff thy name! And for that name which is no part of thee…” I wrapped my arms around myself and looked directly at Edward now, lowering my voice to a whisper. “Take all myself.”
Suddenly, he was right before me, clutching onto the windowsill with his fingers. I offered him my hand, though I knew he didn’t need it. He took it anyway, and I pulled him through the window into my dimly lit room.
“I take thee at thy word; call me but love, and I’ll be new baptized…” he handed me the rose, holding our hands together. “Henceforth I will never be Romeo.”
I snaked my arms around his neck and brought my face inches from his. “Sorry, Romeo, that’s all I know.” He plucked the rose from our intertwined hands and put it between his teeth.
“Hey, that’s mine,” I teased and tried to retrieve it with my fingers.
“Sorry, Juliet.” He materialized from my side and appeared again at the foot of my bed behind me.
I knew that I had no chance of catching him, but decided to play along anyway. “Come back here!”
“Not a chance.” As soon as I almost reached him on the bed, he was at my door. I growled at him as best I could—I had only heard him do it so many times before—and sank into an imitation of a hunting crouch, then sprung at him. He caught me as I was airborne and set me on my feet, never letting me go.
“We don’t want the young Lady Capulet to injure herself, do we?”
“Hey.” I poked his chest. “I die anyway.”
“But Romeo dies first,” he reminded me. “And only because he thinks Juliet is dead.”
“Hmm, I think we can relate to this more than we thought.”
“But remember,” I said, wrapping my arms around his neck. “Our story is different.”
“You can live forever, so Romeo doesn’t die. And Juliet only dies because she thinks Romeo is dead. So if Romeo lives, we both live. And you, Romeo, live forever. Ooh, look! That leaves me to live forever, too. What do you know? Even Shakespeare knew that we were meant for each other.”
He simply looked at me for a few seconds, blinking slowly. Then he kissed me on the forehead. “You are an amazing creature, Isabella Swan.”
“So I’ve been told,” I smiled, and stood on my tiptoes to kiss him on the lips.