"My mother drove me to the airport with the windows rolled down. It was

seventy-five degrees in Phoenix, the sky a perfect, cloudless blue. I was wearing

my favorite shirt — sleeveless, white eyelet lace; I was wearing it as a farewell

gesture. My carry-on item was a parka.

In the Olympic Peninsula of northwest Washington State, a small town named

Forks exists under a near-constant cover of clouds. It rains on this

inconsequential town more than any other place in the United States of America."

"So it is this forks..." pondered carsille.

"It was from this town and its gloomy, omnipresent shade that my mother escaped

with me when I was only a few months old. It was in this town that I'd been

compelled to spend a month every summer until I was fourteen. That was the

year I finally put my foot down; these past three summers, my dad, Charlie,"

"Charlie swan?" asked Jasper.

"Probably." I said.

"Vacationed with me in California for two weeks instead.

It was to Forks that I now exiled myself— an action that I took with great horror.

I detested Forks."

"Why did she move here then?" asked Rosalie. She was an right-to-the-point type of person.

I loved Phoenix. I loved the sun and the blistering heat. I loved the vigorous,

sprawling city.


"Ah, Bella Swan, alot of the people at school have been thinking about her." I said, though they had thought Isabella, it was an obvious nickname.

My mom said to me — the last of a thousand times — before I got on

the plane. "You don't have to do this."

My mom looks like me, except with short hair and laugh lines. I felt a spasm of

panic as I stared at her wide, childlike eyes. How could I leave my loving,

erratic, harebrained mother to fend for herself? Of course she had Phil now, so

the bills would probably get paid, there would be food in the refrigerator, gas in

her car, and someone to call when she got lost, but still…

"I want to go," I lied. I'd always been a bad liar, but I'd been saying this lie so

frequently lately that it sounded almost convincing now.

"Why is she going if her mum says she doesnt have to go?" Asked Emmett. I shrugged. He was perfect for Rosalie.

"Tell Charlie I said hi."

"I will."

"I'll see you soon," she insisted. "You can come home whenever you want — I'll

come right back as soon as you need me."

But I could see the sacrifice in her eyes behind the promise.

"Don't worry about me," I urged. "It'll be great. I love you, Mom."

She hugged me tightly for a minute, and then I got on the plane, and she was


It's a four-hour flight from Phoenix to Seattle, another hour in a small plane up to

Port Angeles, and then an hour drive back down to Forks. Flying doesn't bother

me; the hour in the car with Charlie, though, I was a little worried about.

"Why would she be worried about going in a car with her own Dad?" Thought Esme aloud.

Charlie had really been fairly nice about the whole thing. He seemed genuinely

pleased that I was coming to live with him for the first time with any degree of

permanence. He'd already gotten me registered for high school and was going to

help me get a car.

But it was sure to be awkward with Charlie. Neither of us was what anyone

would call verbose, and I didn't know what there was to say regardless. I knew

he was more than a little confused by my decision — like my mother before me,

I hadn't made a secret of my distaste for Forks.

When I landed in Port Angeles, it was raining. I didn't see it as an omen — just

unavoidable. I'd already said my goodbyes to the sun.

"Dramatic much?" asked Rosalie chuckling.

Charlie was waiting for me with the cruiser. This I was expecting, too. Charlie is

Police Chief Swan to the good people of Forks. My primary motivation behind

buying a car, despite the scarcity of my funds, was that I refused to be driven

around town in a car with red and blue lights on top. Nothing slows down traffic

like a cop.

Charlie gave me an awkward, one-armed hug when I stumbled my way off the


"It's good to see you, Bells," he said, smiling as he automatically caught and

steadied me. "You haven't changed much. How's Renée?"

"Mom's fine. It's good to see you, too, Dad." I wasn't allowed to call him Charlie

to his face.

"He is her dad." laughed Esme.

I had only a few bags. Most of my Arizona clothes were too permeable for

Washington. My mom and I had pooled our resources to supplement my winter

wardrobe, but it was still scanty. It all fit easily into the trunk of the cruiser.

"I found a good car for you, really cheap," he announced when we were strapped


"What kind of car?" I was suspicious of the way he said "good car for you" as

opposed to just "good car."

"Well, it's a truck actually, a Chevy."

Rosalie let out an sound to show her distaste.

"Where did you find it?"

"Do you remember Billy Black down at La Push?" La Push is the tiny Indian

reservation on the coast."

"Mutts." Emmett, me, jasper, Alice and Rosalie said.

"Kids.." Warned Esme.


"He used to go fishing with us during the summer," Charlie prompted.

That would explain why I didn't remember him. I do a good job of blocking

painful, unnecessary things from my memory.

"He's in a wheelchair now," Charlie continued when I didn't respond, "so he can't

drive anymore, and he offered to sell me his truck cheap."

"What year is it?" I could see from his change of expression that this was the

question he was hoping I wouldn't ask.

"Well, Billy's done a lot of work on the engine — it's only a few years old,


I hoped he didn't think so little of me as to believe I would give up that easily.

"When did he buy it?"

"He bought it in 1984, I think."

"Did he buy it new?"

"Well, no. I think it was new in the early sixties — or late fifties at the earliest,"

Rosalie grimaced.

He admitted sheepishly.

"Ch — Dad, I don't really know anything about cars. I wouldn't be able to fix it

if anything went wrong, and I couldn't afford a mechanic…"

"Really, Bella, the thing runs great. They don't build them like that anymore."

The thing, I thought to myself… it had possibilities — as a nickname, at the very


Emmett chuckled.

"How cheap is cheap?" After all, that was the part I couldn't compromise on.

"Well, honey, I kind of already bought it for you. As a homecoming gift."

Charlie peeked sideways at me with a hopeful expression.

Wow. Free.

Emmett laughed again.

"You didn't need to do that, Dad. I was going to buy myself a car."

"I don't mind. I want you to be happy here." He was looking ahead at the road

when he said this. Charlie wasn't comfortable with expressing his emotions out

loud. I inherited that from him. So I was looking straight ahead as I responded.

"That's really nice, Dad. Thanks. I really appreciate it." No need to add that my

being happy in Forks is an impossibility. He didn't need to suffer along with me.

And I never looked a free truck in the mouth — or engine.

"Well, now, you're welcome," he mumbled, embarrassed by my thanks.

We exchanged a few more comments on the weather, which was wet, and that

was pretty much it for Conversation. We stared out the windows in silence.

It was beautiful, of course; I couldn't deny that. Everything was green: the trees,

their trunks covered with moss, their branches hanging with a canopy of it, the

ground covered with ferns. Even the air filtered down greenly through the leaves.

It was too green — an alien planet.

"Alien planet..." Chortled Emmett.

Eventually we made it to Charlie's. He still lived in the small, two-bedroom

house that he'd bought with my mother in the early days of their marriage. Those

were the only kind of days their marriage had — the early ones. There, parked

on the street in front of the house that never changed, was my new — well, new

to me — truck. It was a faded red color, with big, rounded fenders and a bulbous

cab. To my intense surprise, I loved it.

"Ugh, she has no taste!" Rosalie groaned.

I didn't know if it would run, but I could

see myself in it. Plus, it was one of those solid iron affairs that never gets

damaged — the kind you see at the scene of an accident, paint unscratched,

surrounded by the pieces of the foreign car it had destroyed.

"Wow, Dad, I love it! Thanks!" Now my horrific day tomorrow would be just

that much less dreadful. I wouldn't be faced with the choice of either walking

two miles in the rain to school or accepting a ride in the Chief's cruiser.

"I'm glad you like it," Charlie said gruffly, embarrassed again.

It took only one trip to get all my stuff upstairs. I got the west bedroom that

faced out over the front yard. The room was familiar; it had been belonged to me

since I was born. The wooden floor, the light blue walls, the peaked ceiling, the

yellowed lace curtains around the window — these were all a part of my

childhood. The only changes Charlie had ever made were switching the crib for

a bed and adding a desk as I grew. The desk now held a secondhand computer,

with the phone line for the modem stapled along the floor to the nearest phone

jack. This was a stipulation from my mother, so that we could stay in touch

easily. The rocking chair from my baby days was still in the corner.

There was only one small bathroom at the top of the stairs, which I would have

to share with Charlie. I was trying not to dwell too much on that fact.

One of the best things about Charlie is he doesn't hover. He left me alone to

unpack and get settled, a feat that would have been altogether impossible for my

mother. It was nice to be alone, not to have to smile and look pleased; a relief to

stare dejectedly out the window at the sheeting rain and let just a few tears

escape. I wasn't in the mood to go on a real crying jag.

"The poor dear.." Said Esme effectiontily.

I would save that for

bedtime, when I would have to think about the coming morning.

Forks High School had a frightening total of only three hundred and fifty-seven

now fifty-eight — students; there were more than seven hundred people in

my junior class alone back home. All of the kids here had grown up together —

their grandparents had been toddlers together.

I would be the new girl from the big city, a curiosity, a freak.

"Not as freaky as us." Smirked Emmet. I then got an image of Rosalie with a whip. I shuddered and glarred at him. Rosalie was my sister -blood or not- even if we lacked blood all together.

Maybe, if I looked like a girl from Phoenix should, I could work this to my

advantage. But physically, I'd never fit in anywhere. I should be tan, sporty,

blond — a volleyball player, or a cheerleader, perhaps — all the things that go

with living in the valley of the sun.

Instead, I was ivory-skinned, without even the excuse of blue eyes or red hair,

despite the constant sunshine. I had always been slender, but soft somehow,

obviously not an athlete; I didn't have the necessary hand-eye coordination to

play sports without humiliating myself — and harming both myself and anyone

else who stood too close.

Maybe, if I looked like a girl from Phoenix should, I could work this to my

advantage. But physically, I'd never fit in anywhere. I should be tan, sporty,

blond — a volleyball player, or a cheerleader, perhaps — all the things that go

with living in the valley of the sun.

Instead, I was ivory-skinned, without even the excuse of blue eyes or red hair,

"Or being a vamp, can't forget that one." Emmett cracked up at his own joke. And he wondered why I called him immature.

Despite the constant sunshine. I had always been slender, but soft somehow,

obviously not an athlete; I didn't have the necessary hand-eye coordination to

play sports without humiliating myself — and harming both myself and anyone

else who stood too close.

We all laughed.

When I finished putting my clothes in the old pine dresser, I took my bag of

bathroom necessities and went to the communal bathroom to clean myself up

after the day of travel. I looked at my face in the mirror as I brushed through my

tangled, damp hair. Maybe it was the light, but already I looked sallower,

unhealthy. My skin could be pretty — it was very clear, almost translucentlooking

but it all depended on color. I had no color here.

Facing my pallid reflection in the mirror, I was forced to admit that I was lying

to myself. It wasn't just physically that I'd never fit in. And if I couldn't find a

niche in a school with three thousand people, what were my chances here?

I didn't relate well to people my age. Maybe the truth was that I didn't relate well

to people, period. Even my mother, who I was closer to than anyone else on the

planet, was never in harmony with me, never on exactly the same page.

Sometimes I wondered if I was seeing the same things through my eyes that the

rest of the world was seeing through theirs. Maybe there was a glitch in my


"I wonder what her thoughts will be like.." I thought out loud.

But the cause didn't matter. All that mattered was the effect. And

tomorrow would be just the beginning.

I didn't sleep well that night,

"I probably wouldn't have either." Emmett laughed once again.

Even after I was done crying. The constant

whooshing of the rain and wind across the roof wouldn't fade into the

background. I pulled the faded old quilt over my head, and later added the

pillow, too. But I couldn't fall asleep until after midnight, when the rain finally

settled into a quieter drizzle.

Thick fog was all I could see out my window in the morning, and I could feel the

claustrophobia creeping up on me. You could never see the sky here; it was like

a cage.

Breakfast with Charlie was a quiet event. He wished me good luck at school. I

thanked him, knowing his hope was wasted. Good luck tended to avoid me.

Emmett laughed again.

Charlie left first, off to the police station that was his wife and family. After he

left, I sat at the old square oak table in one of the three unmatching chairs and

examined his small kitchen, with its dark paneled walls, bright yellow cabinets,

'I would love to decorate that place..' thought Esme.

and white linoleum floor. Nothing was changed. My mother had painted the

cabinets eighteen years ago in an attempt to bring some sunshine into the house.

Over the small fireplace in the adjoining handkerchief-sized family room was a

row of pictures. First a wedding picture of Charlie and my mom in Las Vegas,

then one of the three of us in the hospital after I was born, taken by a helpful

nurse, followed by the procession of my school pictures up to last year's. Those

were embarrassing to look at — I would have to see what I could do to get

Charlie to put them somewhere else, at least while I was living here.

It was impossible, being in this house, not to realize that Charlie had never

gotten over my mom.

"Poor Charlie." Sighed Esme, be motherly as always.

It made me uncomfortable.

"It would me, too, knowing my father never got over my Ma, thankfully, from what I can remember, they were doing good." Jasper drawled, even though it was long ago he was in Texas.

I didn't want to be too early to school, but I couldn't stay in the house anymore. I

donned my jacket — which had the feel of a biohazard suit — and headed out

into the rain.

It was just drizzling still, not enough to soak me through immediately as I

reached for the house key that was always hidden under the eaves by the door,

and locked up. The sloshing of my new waterproof boots was unnerving. I

missed the normal crunch of gravel as I walked. I couldn't pause and admire my

truck again as I wanted; I was in a hurry to get out of the misty wet that swirled

around my head and clung to my hair under my hood.

Inside the truck, it was nice and dry. Either Billy or Charlie had obviously

cleaned it up, but the tan upholstered seats still smelled faintly of tobacco,

gasoline, and peppermint. The engine started quickly, to my relief, but loudly,

Rosalie winced.

roaring to life and then idling at top volume. Well, a truck this old was bound to

have a flaw. The antique radio worked, a plus that I hadn't expected.

Finding the school wasn't difficult, though I'd never been there before. The

school was, like most other things, just off the highway. It was not obvious that

it was a school; only the sign, which declared it to be the Forks High School,

made me stop. It looked like a collection of matching houses, built with marooncolored

bricks. There were so many trees and shrubs I couldn't see its size at

first. Where was the feel of the institution? I wondered nostalgically. Where

were the chain-link fences, the metal detectors?

I parked in front of the first building, which had a small sign over the door

reading front office. No one else was parked there, so I was sure it was off limits,

but I decided I would get directions inside instead of circling around in the rain

like an idiot. I stepped unwillingly out of the toasty truck cab and walked down a

little stone path lined with dark hedges. I took a deep breath before opening the


Inside, it was brightly lit, and warmer than I'd hoped. The office was small; a

little waiting area with padded folding chairs, orange-flecked commercial carpet,

notices and awards cluttering the walls, a big clock ticking loudly. Plants grew

everywhere in large plastic pots, as if there wasn't enough greenery outside. The

room was cut in half by a long counter, cluttered with wire baskets full of papers

and brightly colored flyers taped to its front. There were three desks behind the

counter, one of which was manned by a large, red-haired woman wearing


"Hey, Eddie its your girlfriend!" Emmett laughed. I narrowed my eyes at him.

"Emmett..." Warned Esme.

She was wearing a purple t-shirt, which immediately made me feel


The red-haired woman looked up. "Can I help you?"

"I'm Isabella Swan," I informed her, and saw the immediate awareness light her

eyes. I was expected, a topic of gossip no doubt. Daughter of the Chief's flighty

ex-wife, come home at last.

"Of course," she said. She dug through a precariously stacked pile of documents

on her desk till she found the ones she was looking for. "I have your schedule

right here, and a map of the school." She brought several sheets to the counter to

show me.

She went through my classes for me, highlighting the best route to each on the

map, and gave me a slip to have each teacher sign, which I was to bring back at

the end of the day. She smiled at me and hoped, like Charlie, that I would like it

here in Forks. I smiled back as convincingly as I could.

When I went back out to my truck, other students were starting to arrive. I drove

around the school, following the line of traffic. I was glad to see that most of the

cars were older like mine, nothing flashy. At home I'd lived in one of the few

lower-income neighborhoods that were included in the Paradise Valley District.

It was a common thing to see a new Mercedes or Porsche in the student lot. The

nicest car here was a shiny Volvo,

"Eddies car!" Emmett said.

"We'll probably be in this!" Emmett added happily.

We all rolled our eyes.

and it stood out. Still, I cut the engine as soon

as I was in a spot, so that the thunderous volume wouldn't draw attention to me.

I looked at the map in the truck, trying to memorize it now; hopefully I wouldn't

have to walk around with it stuck in front of my nose all day. I stuffed

everything in my bag, slung the strap over my shoulder, and sucked in a huge

breath. I can do this, I lied to myself feebly. No one was going to bite me.

"Hopefully," Emmett whispered what he imagined as dramatic, but was anything but.


finally exhaled and stepped out of the truck.

I kept my face pulled back into my hood as I walked to the sidewalk, crowded

with teenagers. My plain black jacket didn't stand out, I noticed with relief.

Once I got around the cafeteria, building three was easy to spot. A large black

"3" was painted on a white square on the east corner. I felt my breathing

gradually creeping toward hyperventilation as I approached the door. I tried

holding my breath as I followed two unisex raincoats through the door.

The classroom was small. The people in front of me stopped just inside the door

to hang up their coats on a long row of hooks. I copied them. They were two

girls, one a porcelain-colored blonde, the other also pale, with light brown hair.

At least my skin wouldn't be a standout here.

I took the slip up to the teacher, a tall, balding man whose desk had a nameplate

identifying him as Mr. Mason. He gawked at me when he saw my name — not

an encouraging response — and of course I flushed tomato red. But at least he

sent me to an empty desk at the back without introducing me to the class. It was

harder for my new classmates to stare at me in the back, but somehow, they

managed. I kept my eyes down on the reading list the teacher had given me. It

was fairly basic: Bronte, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Faulkner. I'd already read


"Strange.." I said, it was for a girl that age.

That was comforting… and boring. I wondered if my mom would

send me my folder of old essays, or if she would think that was cheating. I went

through different arguments with her in my head while the teacher droned on.

When the bell rang, a nasal buzzing sound, a gangly boy with skin problems and

hair black as an oil slick leaned across the aisle to talk to me.

"Eric Yorkie..." Rosalie said in disgust.

"You're Isabella Swan, aren't you?" He looked like the overly helpful, chess club


"Defiantly." Alice agreed

"Bella," I corrected. Everyone within a three-seat radius turned to look at me.

"Where's your next class?" he asked.

I had to check in my bag. "Um, Government, with Jefferson, in building six."

There was nowhere to look without meeting curious eyes.

"I'm headed toward building four, I could show you the way…" Definitely overhelpful.

"I'm Eric," he added.

I smiled tentatively. "Thanks."

We got our jackets and headed out into the rain, which had picked up. I could

have sworn several people behind us were walking close enough to eavesdrop. I

hoped I wasn't getting paranoid.

Emmett laughed. It was getting annoying.

"So, this is a lot different than Phoenix, huh?" he asked.

"Duh." Alice groaned.


"It doesn't rain much there, does it?"

"Three or four times a year."

"Wow, what must that be like?" he wondered.

"Sunny," I told him.

"You don't look very tan."

"My mother is part albino."

He studied my face apprehensively, and I sighed. It looked like clouds and a

sense of humor didn't mix. A few months of this and I'd forget how to use


Emmett laughed at this. Again. I was tempted to punch him.

We walked back around the cafeteria, to the south buildings by the gym. Eric

walked me right to the door, though it was clearly marked.

"Well, good luck," he said as I touched the handle. "Maybe we'll have some

other classes together." He sounded hopeful.

"Don't they always." Rosalie muttered.

I smiled at him vaguely and went inside.

The rest of the morning passed in about the same fashion. My Trigonometry

teacher, Mr. Varner,

"God, I hate him, he always tries to catch me out. No such luck 'cause i'm super Emmett!" Bellowed Emmett who happened to be near my ear. if I wasn't a vampire I would swear he burst my ear drum. I glared at him in warning.

"Lighten up Eddie!" Emmett said. You need to get laid. Badly. Emmett thought. Stupid sex addict. I hoped it was the last time someone got changed, drunk.

Who I would have hated anyway just because of the subject

he taught, was the only one who made me stand in front of the class and

introduce myself. I stammered, blushed, and tripped over my own boots on the

way to my seat.

Emmett laughed, once again.

After two classes, I started to recognize several of the faces in each class. There

was always someone braver than the others who would introduce themselves

"Ooohhh, she must be scary!" Said Emmett in a ghosts voice.


ask me questions about how I was liking Forks. I tried to be diplomatic, but

mostly I just lied a lot. At least I never needed the map.

One girl sat next to me in both Trig and Spanish, and she walked with me to the

cafeteria for lunch. She was tiny, several inches shorter than my five feet four

inches, but her wildly curly dark hair made up a lot of the difference between our

heights. I couldn't remember her name, so I smiled and nodded as she prattled

about teachers and classes. I didn't try to keep up.

We sat at the end of a full table with several of her friends, who she introduced

to me. I forgot all their names as soon as she spoke them. They seemed

impressed by her bravery in speaking to me. The boy from English, Eric, waved

at me from across the room.

It was there, sitting in the lunchroom, trying to make conversation with seven

curious strangers, that I first saw them.

They were sitting in the corner of the cafeteria, as far away from where I sat as

possible in the long room. There were five of them. They weren't talking, and

they weren't eating,

"Sounds like us. She notices alot," Jasper worried,

"Don't worry Jass, I see the book future... and the real future..." Alice's eye twinkled but when i tried to read her mind she was singing 'I kissed a girl'. She knew I hated Katy Perry.

Though they each had a tray of untouched food in front of


"Yay! us!" cheered Emmett, repeating Jasper.

They weren't gawking at me,

"As if!" laughed Rosalie

unlike most of the other students, so it was

safe to stare at them without fear of meeting an excessively interested pair of

eyes. But it was none of these things that caught, and held, my attention.

They didn't look anything alike. Of the three boys, one was big — muscled like a

serious weight lifter, with dark, curly hair.

"ME!" shouted Emmett.

Another was taller, leaner, but still

muscular, and honey blond.

"Jasper!" said Emmett.

The last was lanky, less bulky, with untidy, bronze colored


"Edward!" said Emmett.

At least she didn't call me ginger. I. was. not. Ginger.

He was more boyish than the others, who looked like they could be

in college, or even teachers here rather than students.

Me and Jasper shared a look and Alice rolled her eyes.

The girls were opposites. The tall one was statuesque. She had a beautiful figure,

the kind you saw on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, the kind

that made every girl around her take a hit on her self-esteem just by being in the

same room. Her hair was golden, gently waving to the middle of her back.

"Well, at least she has a little taste." said Rosalie.


short girl was pixielike, thin in the extreme, with small features. Her hair was a

deep black, cropped short and pointing in every direction.

"Alice!" said Emmett.

And yet, they were all exactly alike.

"Shes noticing too much.." Said Rosalie.

"It turns out fine, more than fine." says Alice, joyfully, not being dettered my Rosalies mood.

Every one of them was chalky pale, the

palest of all the students living in this sunless town. Paler than me, the albino.

They all had very dark eyes despite the range in hair tones. They also had dark

shadows under those eyes — purplish, bruiselike shadows.

"It will be fine..." Alice said before we could say anything.

As if they were all

suffering from a sleepless night,

"Well, we are, several infact." Laughed Emmett.

or almost done recovering from a broken nose.

"Not likely." Of course, Emmett said.

Though their noses, all their features, were straight, perfect, angular.

But all this is not why I couldn't look away.

I stared because their faces, so different, so similar, were all devastatingly,

inhumanly beautiful. They were faces you never expected to see except perhaps

on the airbrushed pages of a fashion magazine. Or painted by an old master as

the face of an angel. It was hard to decide who was the most beautiful.

"Me, obviousily!" Sang Emmett in a bad American accent.

"— maybe

the perfect blond girl, or the bronze-haired boy."

"I'm better than Eddie." Pouted Emmett.

They were all looking away — away from each other, away from the other

students, away from anything in particular as far as I could tell. As I watched,

the small girl rose with her tray — unopened soda, unbitten apple — and walked

away with a quick, graceful lope that belonged on a runway. I watched, amazed

at her lithe dancer's step, till she dumped her tray and glided through the back

door, faster than I would have thought possible.

"You should be more carful.." Chided Carsille.

"Sorry." We all mumbled.

"My eyes darted back to the

others, who sat unchanging.

"Who are they?" I asked the girl from my Spanish class, whose name I'd


As she looked up to see who I meant — though already knowing, probably, from

my tone — suddenly he looked at her, the thinner one, the boyish one, the

youngest, perhaps.

"Edward!" Emmett said, for once using my real name.

He looked at my neighbor for just a fraction of a second, and

then his dark eyes flickered to mine.

He looked away quickly, more quickly than I could, though in a flush of

embarrassment I dropped my eyes at once. In that brief flash of a glance, his face

held nothing of interest — it was as if she had called his name, and he'd looked

up in involuntary response, already having decided not to answer.

I laughed.

My neighbor giggled in embarrassment, looking at the table like I did.

"That's Edward and Emmett Cullen, and Rosalie and Jasper Hale. The one who

left was Alice Cullen; they all live together with Dr. Cullen and his wife." She

said this under her breath.

I glanced sideways at the beautiful boy,

"You've got another stalker Eddie." Said Emmett, was again using his ridiculous nickname for me.

"Stop calling me Eddie!" I growled.

Who was looking at his tray now,

picking a bagel to pieces with long, pale fingers. His mouth was moving very

quickly, his perfect lips barely opening. The other three still looked away, and

yet I felt he was speaking quietly to them.

Alice rolled her eyes, stopping any of us speaking our worries.

Strange, unpopular names, I thought. The kinds of names grandparents had. But

maybe that was in vogue here — small town names? I finally remembered that

my neighbor was called Jessica, a perfectly common name. There were two girls

named Jessica in my History class back home.

"They are… very nice-looking." I struggled with the conspicuous understatement.

"Yes!" Jessica agreed with another giggle. "They're all together though —

Emmett and Rosalie, and Jasper and Alice, I mean. And they live together." Her

voice held all the shock and condemnation of the small town, I thought critically.

But, if I was being honest, I had to admit that even in Phoenix, it would cause


"Everywhere we go we do. We're just that HAWT!" Giggled Emmett in his fake, american, teenager accent. It also happened to be female.

"Which ones are the Cullens?" I asked. "They don't look related…"

"Oh, they're not. Dr. Cullen is really young, in his twenties or early thirties.

They're all adopted. The Hales are brother and sister, twins — the blondes —

and they're foster children."

"They look a little old for foster children."

"They are now, Jasper and Rosalie are both eighteen, but they've been with Mrs.

Cullen since they were eight. She's their aunt or something like that."

"That's really kind of nice — for them to take care of all those kids like that,

when they're so young and everything."

Esme smiled, already likeing this 'Bella'.

"I guess so," Jessica admitted reluctantly, and I got the impression that she didn't

like the doctor and his wife for some reason.

Esme throwned.

"Shes just jelous." Said Alice.

With the glances she was throwing

at their adopted children, I would presume the reason was jealousy.


"I think that

Mrs. Cullen can't have any kids, though," she added, as if that lessened their


Esme looked sad.

"It looks as if Bella doesn't feel that way.." I said to Esme, at that she smiled again.

Throughout all this conversation, my eyes flickered again and again to the table

where the strange family sat. They continued to look at the walls and not eat.

"Have they always lived in Forks?" I asked. Surely I would have noticed them

on one of my summers here.

"Like I said, we're just that HAWT!" Emmett again said in his accent.

"No," she said in a voice that implied it should be obvious, even to a new arrival

like me. "They just moved down two years ago from somewhere in Alaska."

I felt a surge of pity, and relief. Pity because, as beautiful as they were, they

were outsiders, clearly not accepted. Relief that I wasn't the only newcomer here,

and certainly not the most interesting by any standard.

As I examined them, the youngest, one of the Cullens, looked up and met my

gaze, this time with evident curiosity in his expression. As I looked swiftly

away, it seemed to me that his glance held some kind of unmet expectation.

Esme throwned at me and I shrugged my shoulders.

"Which one is the boy with the reddish brown hair?" I asked. I peeked at him

from the corner of my eye, and he was still staring at me, but not gawking like

the other students had today — he had a slightly frustrated expression. I looked

down again.

"That's Edward. He's gorgeous, of course, but don't waste your time. He doesn't

date. Apparently none of the girls here are good-looking enough for him." She

sniffed, a clear case of sour grapes. I wondered when he'd turned her down.

I chuckled this time.

I bit my lip to hide my smile. Then I glanced at him again. His face was turned

away, but I thought his cheek appeared lifted, as if he were smiling, too.

"I probably was."

After a few more minutes, the four of them left the table together. They all were

noticeably graceful — even the big, brawny one. It was unsettling to watch. The

one named Edward didn't look at me again.

I sat at the table with Jessica and her friends longer than I would have if I'd been

sitting alone. I was anxious not to be late for class on my first day. One of my

new acquaintances, who considerately reminded me that her name was Angela,

had Biology II with me the next hour. We walked to class together in silence.

She was shy, too.

"She is very shy, one of the kindest minds I've ever read, she would be a good friend." I said.

When we entered the classroom, Angela went to sit at a black-topped lab table

exactly like the ones I was used to. She already had a neighbor. In fact, all the

tables were filled but one. Next to the center aisle, I recognized Edward Cullen

by his unusual hair, sitting next to that single open seat.

"Poor girl, having to sit next to me for the whole year, she will be very unsettled." I said.

As I walked down the aisle to introduce myself to the teacher and get my slip

signed, I was watching him surreptitiously. Just as I passed, he suddenly went

rigid in his seat. He stared at me again, meeting my eyes with the strangest

expression on his face — it was hostile, furious.

"Edward! Your scaring her!" Said Esme angrily at me.

I looked away quickly, shocked,

going red again. I stumbled over a book in the walkway and had to catch myself

on the edge of a table. The girl sitting there giggled.

I'd noticed that his eyes were black — coal black.

"You must be thristy," said Carsille. 'you need to hunt more, especialy when she comes.' He continued in his thoughts.

Mr. Banner signed my slip and handed me a book with no nonsense about

introductions. I could tell we were going to get along. Of course, he had no

choice but to send me to the one open seat in the middle of the room. I kept my

eyes down as I went to sit by him, bewildered by the antagonistic stare he'd

given me.

I didn't look up as I set my book on the table and took my seat, but I saw his

posture change from the corner of my eye. He was leaning away from me, sitting

on the extreme edge of his chair and averting his face like he smelled something

bad. Inconspicuously, I sniffed my hair. It smelled like strawberries, the scent of

my favorite shampoo. It seemed an innocent enough odor. I let my hair fall over

my right shoulder, making a dark curtain between us, and tried to pay attention

to the teacher.

"Defiantly thirsty." Said Carsille.

"You should be nicer to her, when you really meet her don't do that." Chided Esme. I nodded. I didn't want to scare her, it already seemed as if she hated forks.

Unfortunately the lecture was on cellular anatomy, something I'd already

studied. I took notes carefully anyway, always looking down.

I couldn't stop myself from peeking occasionally through the screen of my hair

at the strange boy next to me. During the whole class, he never relaxed his stiff

position on the edge of his chair, sitting as far from me as possible. I could see

his hand on his left leg was clenched into a fist, tendons standing out under his

pale skin. This, too, he never relaxed.

"Be careful Edward, humans can't do that." Carlisle said, concerned.

He had the long sleeves of his white shirt

pushed up to his elbows, and his forearm was surprisingly hard and muscular

beneath his light skin. He wasn't nearly as slight as he'd looked next to his burly


The class seemed to drag on longer than the others. Was it because the day was

finally coming to a close, or because I was waiting for his tight fist to loosen? It

never did; he continued to sit so still it looked like he wasn't breathing. What was

wrong with him? Was this his normal behavior? I questioned my judgment on

Jessica's bitterness at lunch today. Maybe she was not as resentful as I'd thought.

It couldn't have anything to do with me. He didn't know me from Eve.

I peeked up at him one more time, and regretted it. He was glaring down at me

again, his black eyes full of revulsion. As I flinched away from him, shrinking

against my chair, the phrase if looks could kill suddenly ran through my mind.

"You'd think after her thinking that you would be nicer." Frowned Esme. I looked down, ashamed, even if it was in a book. From what wrote on the note, it would happen.

At that moment, the bell rang loudly, making me jump, and Edward Cullen was

out of his seat. Fluidly he rose — he was much taller than I'd thought — his back

to me, and he was out the door before anyone else was out of their seat.

"Way to stay inconspicious. Dumb-ass." grumbled Rosalie. I just rolled my eyes.

I sat frozen in my seat, staring blankly after him. He was so mean. It wasn't fair.

I began gathering up my things slowly, trying to block the anger that filled me,

for fear my eyes would tear up. For some reason, my temper was hardwired to

my tear ducts. I usually cried when I was angry, a humiliating tendency.

"Aren't you Isabella Swan?" a male voice asked.

I looked up to see a cute, baby-faced boy, his pale blond hair carefully gelled

into orderly spikes, smiling at me in a friendly way. He obviously didn't think I

smelled bad.

Emmett laughed.

"Neither did Eddie-boy here, infact he thought you smelt good!" Emmett said to the book.

"Bella," I corrected him, with a smile.

"I'm Mike."

"Hi, Mike."

"Do you need any help finding your next class?"

"I'm headed to the gym, actually. I think I can find it."

"That's my next class, too." He seemed thrilled, though it wasn't that big of a

coincidence in a school this small.

We walked to class together; he was a chatterer — he supplied most of the

conversation, which made it easy for me. He'd lived in California till he was ten,

so he knew how I felt about the sun. It turned out he was in my English class

also. He was the nicest person I'd met today.

But as we were entering the gym, he asked, "So, did you stab Edward Cullen

with a pencil or what? I've never seen him act like that."

I cringed. So I wasn't the only one who had noticed. And, apparently, that wasn't

Edward Cullen's usual behavior.

"Good." said Esme, now in a bad mood.

I decided to play dumb.

"Was that the boy I sat next to in Biology?" I asked artlessly.

"Yes," he said. "He looked like he was in pain or something."

"I don't know," I responded. "I never spoke to him."

"He's a weird guy." Mike lingered by me instead of heading to the dressing

room. "If I were lucky enough to sit by you, I would have talked to you."

I smiled at him before walking through the girls' locker room door. He was

friendly and clearly admiring. But it wasn't enough to ease my irritation.

The Gym teacher, Coach Clapp, found me a uniform but didn't make me dress

down for today's class. At home, only two years of PE. were required. Here, P.E.

was mandatory all four years. Forks was literally my personal hell on Earth.

I watched four volleyball games running simultaneously. Remembering how

many injuries I had sustained — and inflicted — playing volleyball, I felt faintly


The final bell rang at last. I walked slowly to the office to return my paperwork.

The rain had drifted away, but the wind was strong, and colder. I wrapped my

arms around myself.

When I walked into the warm office, I almost turned around and walked back


"Why?" asked Emmett, confused.

Edward Cullen stood at the desk in front of me. I recognized again that tousled

bronze hair.

Not ginger.

He didn't appear to notice the sound of my entrance.

"He did, believe me." laughed Emmett.

I stood pressed

against the back wall, waiting for the receptionist to be free.

He was arguing with her in a low, attractive voice. I quickly picked up the gist of

the argument. He was trying to trade from sixth-hour Biology to another time —

any other time.

I just couldn't believe that this was about me. It had to be something else,

something that happened before I entered the Biology room. The look on his

face must have been about another aggravation entirely. It was impossible that

this stranger could take such a sudden, intense dislike to me.

The door opened again, and the cold wind suddenly gusted through the room,

rustling the papers on the desk, swirling my hair around my face. The girl who

came in merely stepped to the desk, placed a note in the wire basket, and walked

out again. But Edward Cullen's back stiffened, and he turned slowly to glare at

me — his face was absurdly handsome — with piercing, hate-filled eyes

"Edward." Growled Esme.

For an

instant, I felt a thrill of genuine fear, raising the hair on my arms. The look only

lasted a second, but it chilled me more than the freezing wind. He turned back to

the receptionist.

"Never mind, then," he said hastily in a voice like velvet. "I can see that it's

impossible. Thank you so much for your help." And he turned on his heel

without another look at me, and disappeared out the door.

I went meekly to the desk, my face white for once instead of red, and handed her

the signed slip.

"How did your first day go, dear?" the receptionist asked maternally.

"Fine," I lied, my voice weak. She didn't look convinced.

When I got to the truck, it was almost the last car in the lot. It seemed like a

haven, already the closest thing to home I had in this damp green hole. I sat

inside for a while, just staring out the windshield blankly. But soon I was cold

enough to need the heater, so I turned the key and the engine roared to life. I

headed back to Charlie's house, fighting tears the whole way there.

"That poor girl. I'm angry at you Edward, that was mean." said Esme. I bowed my head down and mumbled "Sorry."

"Anyway, who wants to read next?" Asked Esme, seemingly already recorvered from her bad mood.

"ME!" screached Emmett, Esme gave him the book.