Chapter 1

My truck wheezes as I pull into the parking lot of Forks High School. The poor Chevy is way past showing signs of old age; it's a senior citizen. Though it is sturdy and reliable, I'm shocked at how long it has lasted. I bought it new in the early sixties. It was the first and only car I have ever owned. The paint, that used to shine fire-engine red, is rusty and peeling. The antique radio has long since stopped working, and the only air-conditioning system is the crank to roll down the windows.

I know I should just let it go and buy a more modern car, but I can't bring myself to get rid of it. It is one of the only constants in my ever-changing life, and I love it despite all its problems. I know I'll be driving it until refuses to drive another inch.

I study the school as I look for a spot to park. It's more like a miniature college campus. There looks to be about five separate buildings, all covered in moss and looking like the forest is about to swallow them up. Small concrete sidewalks twist and turn all over the grounds, connecting the little buildings.

I wonder who designed the school. I don't have to have a couple architecture degrees to realize the stupidity of the design. Why, in one of the rainiest towns in the country would someone design a school where students have to walk outside in between every class? Maybe it was a platypus in disguise that designed it.

I locate a spot near the front of the school and pull in quickly. I hope I haven't taken anyone's parking spot; I know how weird high school students can be about parking their car in the same exact spot everyday. It's baffling to me, but I just go along with it.

As I step out of the car I contemplate if I should have left a note or something. I decide I don't care enough to put in the extra effort. I flick up the hood of my black rain coat because, lo and behold, it's raining.

I begin my trek through the puddles that are really more like small oceans, and notice a rather large amount of whispering in my wake. It seems the student body has already recognized that I am in fact the new student they have no doubt been gossiping about for weeks. In a town this small, it is impossible to avoid attention. Though I was a human who loathed the spot light with a passion, I've learned to deal with it as a vampire.

I look up from the mini waves crashing around my gray peep-toe wedges and give a dazzling smile to a couple of students as I walk by. I fight the urge to roll my eyes at the looks on the faces of the teenage boys. I always try to be kind to them; it's my fault, after all, that they are attracted to me.

Vampires are the epitome of cunning when it comes to attracting prey. Humans are lured in by the appearance and even the scent of the immortal beings. I suppose it comes in handy for those of my kind that feast on humans, but it's more of a burden for me. It is very difficult to blend in when everything about me is made to stand out.

Though humans are irresistibly drawn to vampires, there is part of their subconscious that recognizes the danger of getting too close. This poses no problem for normal vampires; by the time the human acknowledges the fear and decides to run away, they are dead. Once again, however, this is a burden to me. It is hard to be part of society when society is scared of me for no reason other than my nature.

So, I turn off the part of my brain that sends out those pesky, invisible waves that make me seem threatening to humans. It works marvelously well to keep the humans from running away screaming, but it also means I have to deal with the force or their attraction with nothing to curb it. It's all about trade-off.

I remind myself that I will only have to endure a few weeks of their flattery and ridiculous attempts to woo me before they finally get the hint they I am not interested in dating them.

It is also around that time that the girls will stop glaring at me like they wish they were the ones who could burn me up with their mind. It's always the same. They will be jealous of the attention I'm getting so they will lash out at me. It's not until they realize that I am not aiming to steal away their pubescent boyfriends that they surrender and back-off.

Due to my super-human hearing, I can understand exactly what they are whispering excitedly at each other. Out of habit, I listen to their conversations for a moment before tuning them out. It is essential that I catch any threats to my secrecy before they can manifest into more dangerous thoughts and rumors. Not to my surprise, most of the conversation is focused on me. I tune them out as quickly as possible. One conversation, however, stops me right in my tracks.

"Jasper, can you get a read on her?"

"No, it's like she's not even there."

"Edward, what about you?"

"No, nothing for me either."

"I can't see her."

I focus intently on their words. I keep walking but now I couldn't care less about being polite to the humans. Another part of my mind registers the speed and volume at which they are talking. No human could possibly understand or hear what they are saying, even if they were standing right next to them. I have to strain my ears just to make out their dialogue. There is only one possibility, and the thought drenches me with dread.

I snap my head up and zero in on the source of the conversation. Sure enough, staring directly at me from across the lot are five vampires.

I barely stifle a gasp. I look away so quickly I doubt the people around me even saw my eyes deviate from the concrete. My feet unintentionally carry me a bit faster toward the entrance to the school. My mind is on overdrive.

Physically, vampires are not a threat to me; not at all. Even if they were able to get close enough to attack me, I could burn them to ashes in a matter of seconds.

I have run into a handful of vampires in the past. I don't mind the interactions; in fact, I have learned valuable information from the immortal creatures. Before I met others of my kind, it was as if I lived in a bubble, oblivious to the world around me. Those encounters, however, were always so brief that they barely scratched the surface.

I had learned early on that my gift would make me either a threat that the population would want to eliminate, or someone who the population would look up to as a leader. I want neither of those things, so secrecy is the most important aspect of my life. There is no other being in the world that knows about my gift, and I plan to keep it that way.

Living in close proximity with this coven of vampires would threaten my privacy. Vampires are territorial creatures my nature, so they would undoubtedly want to know everything about me so they could decide whether or not I am a threat. They already know too much about me for my liking.

If not for my curiosity, I probably would have left the town already; found a new place to start my new life. But I want to know more about this coven. There are five of them. The largest coven I have ever come across consisted of three members. Their eyes are golden. That means they don't kill humans; they drink the blood of animals, like me. Never before have I come across another vampire who shares my diet. The majority of them have gifts. They recognize that I have gifts because their abilities are thwarted by mine.

Though my instincts are telling me to flee while I still can, my brain is telling me to stay put. My mind is in limbo all morning. Luckily, I am so experienced in the human act that it is practically automatic. I am able to go through all the motions of the morning and look like I am thoroughly absorbed, when really I am paying no attention.

By the time lunch rolls around I have organized my thoughts enough to focus consciously on what is happening around me. I have a mini panic attack; thinking I am about to be ambushed by a furry animal of some kind, before I realize that it is just the hair of a small girl named Jessica.

She's telling me about some boy named Mike, who I apparently talked to in first period. Though she is trying to be sly about it, she is obviously trying to hint to me that he's taken. I decide to just pacify her, so I smile and say "that's great!" when she tells me how long they've been dating. She seems a bit more kind after that.

I grab a salad and a water bottle on my way through the lunch line and then follow Jessica to her table. I grab a seat at the end. The kids are bombarding me with questions before I even have the chance to sit down. I take a deep breath and field them all carefully.

After a few minutes the interrogation slows down and I start to eat my salad. Most vampires can't eat human food without having to regurgitate it later. I'm not like most vampires. I very carefully kindle a small fire in my stomach to incinerate the food as it enters. It tastes terrible and provides no nutritional value, but it helps with the human façade.

"The Cullens are staring at you, Bella," whispers a kind girl names Angela from across the table. My fork freezes on the journey to my mouth. I have a pretty good idea of who the Cullens are. I look around, and sure enough, five vampires are staring at me from across the room.

"I guess I better go talk to them," I say, and get up before the table can say anything. I can practically see the shocked looks on their faces even though my back is turned to them.

I had decided, during my morning of contemplation, that I can curb my curiosity of this coven without letting them know my secret. I will have to be extremely careful, but I know my mind will not rest until I uncover the mystery that is the Cullens.

I stare back at them on my way to their table. Despite my extraordinary eye sight, I didn't get a good look at them in the split second glance in the parking lot. I see now that there are three males and two females.

The first female is easily the most beautiful woman I have ever seen in my life. Long golden blond hair surrounds her pale striking features. If not for the scowl on her face, I may have developed a mini girl-crush on her. As it happens, anger turns me off and, anyways, I am attracted to men.

The next girl is so short and thin that she reminds me of a child. Her black hair sticks up in all directions, but she somehow makes it look glorious. I furrow my eyebrows; she seems to be vibrating in her seat. I shake my head and move my gaze onto the next male.

He is obviously mated with the tiny girl. His body is tilted towards her seemingly unconsciously, and I know he would react at a moments notice to anything that could possible harm her. He has his arm around her little shoulders. It seems to me if he was not keeping her grounded, she would fly away. He has blond hair and looks like he's in pain. I imagine the smell of human blood is getting to him. Upon closer inspection, I realize that his skin is covered in half-moon shapes. It looks like the one I have on my neck. My eyes widen when I realize how many times he must have been bitten. I quickly move my gaze to the next male; the mate of the gorgeous blond.

He is by far the biggest vampire I have ever laid eyes on. Muscles are bulging out everywhere. If not for the curly brown hair and dimples in his cheeks, I would have been thoroughly frightened of him. His expression just makes him look like a giant teddy bear; a teddy bear on steroids, that is.

The last male literally makes my mind go blank. I feel like I need one of those little Japanese fans to cool myself off with. He has a head full of funky penny-colored hair that sticks up all over the place. His features are more beautiful than any I have ever seen, even for a vampire. His cheekbones are high and defined and his lips are swoon-worthy. His deliciously thick brows are furrowed, creating little creases between his stunning golden eyes. He seems to be studying me like I am studying him.

Thankfully, my crazy thoughts don't show on the outside. My body moves on auto-pilot while my mind is on temporary vacation. I'm able to shake myself out of it and break his gaze when I have almost reached the table. I take a moment to gather my scattered thoughts.

I survey their faces again, but avoid the bronze-haired god for fear of loosing my composure again. None of them look like they are about to speak, so I set my salad on the table and slide into an empty seat. They still don't say anything, so I eat a forkful of lettuce, all the while keeping an eye on them with my peripheral vision.

"Something you want to say, muscle-man?" I ask him with an arch of my left brow. It's hard not to laugh at his gaping face and wide-open mouth, but somehow I mange to keep a cool demeanor.

"But you… you're eating!" he says as if he had just discovered that I am Elvis Presley in disguise.

I roll my eyes, but can't control a small giggle from slipping past my lips. I take an exaggerated bite just for show.

The over-protective looking guy with blond hair leans toward me as if distance will answer all his questions. "What are you?" he asks, but the tone of his voice makes it seem like he is wondering rather than questioning. I also pick up the slight hint of a southern accent from him, and it only serves to fuel my curiosity.

With over-exaggerated glances over my left and right shoulders, I confirm that every human in the room, whether covertly or otherwise, is attempting to eavesdrop on our conversation. The five other vampires seem to get the hint.

"You'll have to come over to our house tonight then!" declares the little vampire. She is doing that vibrating thing again, and even claps hers hands together a couple times. It's kind of endearing.

The southern guy puts his arm around her again and she visibly relaxes. My sharp senses automatically pick up on it. It is normal for mates to be able to influence the emotions of one another, but this goes above and beyond. It was like he forced calm onto her. I push it to the back of my mind for contemplation in the future.

"You better calm down a bit little pixie, or the cowboy won't be able to keep you from taking-off," I say in a nonchalant voice, as I take another bite of my salad. It seems the beautiful boy finds this funny because he covers his mouth to hide his laughter. It doesn't work, and a funny little snort escapes through his delicate fingers.

I glance at him and chuckle before continuing. "Hulk, blondie, scar-face, pixie, penny-head, it was nice to meet you. I'll see you tonight," I say as I stand up. I walk away before they can reply.