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Chapter 1 First Sight

Chapter 1 First Sight

My mother drove me to the airport with the windows rolled down. It wasseventy-five degrees in Phoenix, the sky a perfect, cloudless blue. I waswearing my favorite shirt — sleeveless, white eyelet lace; I was wearingit as a farewell gesture. My carry-on item was a parka.

  In the Olympic Peninsula of northwest Washington State, a small townnamed Forks exists under a near-constant cover of clouds. It rains onthis inconsequential town more than any other place in the United Statesof America. It was from this town and its gloomy, omnipresent shade thatmy mother escaped with me when I was only a few months old. It was inthis town that I'd been compelled to spend a month every summer until Iwas fourteen. That was the year I finally put my foot down; these pastthree summers, my dad, Charlie, vacationed with me in California for twoweeks instead.

  It was to Forks that I now exiled myself— an action that I took withgreat horror. I detested Forks.

  I loved Phoenix. I loved the sun and the blistering heat. I loved thevigorous, sprawling city.

  "Bella," my mom said to me — the last of a thousand times — before I goton the plane. "You don't have to do this."My mom looks like me, except with short hair and laugh lines. I felt aspasm of panic as I stared at her wide, childlike eyes. How could I leavemy loving, erratic, harebrained mother to fend for herself? Of course shehad Phil now, so the bills would probably get paid, there would be foodin the refrigerator, gas in her car, and someone to call when she gotlost, but still…"I want to go," I lied. I'd always been a bad liar, but I'd been sayingthis lie so frequently lately that it sounded almost convincing now.

  "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 shewas gone.

  It's a four-hour flight from Phoenix to Seattle, another hour in a smallplane 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 wasa little worried about.

  Charlie had really been fairly nice about the whole thing. He seemedgenuinely pleased that I was coming to live with him for the first timewith any degree of permanence. He'd already gotten me registered for highschool and was going to help me get a car.

  But it was sure to be awkward with Charlie. Neither of us was what anyonewould call verbose, and I didn't know what there was to say regardless. Iknew he was more than a little confused by my decision — like my motherbefore 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.

  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 primarymotivation behind buying a car, despite the scarcity of my funds, wasthat I refused to be driven around town in a car with red and blue lightson top. Nothing slows down traffic like a cop.

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

  "It's good to see you, Bells," he said, smiling as he automaticallycaught 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 callhim Charlie to his face.

  I had only a few bags. Most of my Arizona clothes were too permeable forWashington. My mom and I had pooled our resources to supplement my winterwardrobe, but it was still scanty. It all fit easily into the trunk ofthe cruiser.

  "I found a good car for you, really cheap," he announced when we werestrapped in.

  "What kind of car?" I was suspicious of the way he said "good car foryou" as opposed to just "good car.""Well, it's a truck actually, a Chevy.""Where did you find it?""Do you remember Billy Black down at La Push?" La Push is the tiny Indianreservation on the coast.

  "No.""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 blockingpainful, unnecessary things from my memory.

  "He's in a wheelchair now," Charlie continued when I didn't respond, "sohe 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 thiswas 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 yearsold, really."I hoped he didn't think so little of me as to believe I would give upthat 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 atthe earliest," he admitted sheepishly.

  "Ch — Dad, I don't really know anything about cars. I wouldn't be able tofix it if anything went wrong, and I couldn't afford a mechanic…""Really, Bella, the thing runs great. They don't build them like thatanymore."The thing, I thought to myself… it had possibilities — as a nickname, atthe very least.

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

  "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.

  "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 theroad when he said this. Charlie wasn't comfortable with expressing hisemotions out loud. I inherited that from him. So I was looking straightahead as I responded.

  "That's really nice, Dad. Thanks. I really appreciate it." No need to addthat my being happy in Forks is an impossibility. He didn't need tosuffer along with me. And I never looked a free truck in the mouth — orengine.

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

  We exchanged a few more comments on the weather, which was wet, and thatwas 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 acanopy of it, the ground covered with ferns. Even the air filtered downgreenly through the leaves.

  It was too green — an alien planet.

  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 oftheir marriage. Those were the only kind of days their marriage had — theearly ones. There, parked on the street in front of the house that neverchanged, 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, Iloved it. 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 justthat much less dreadful. I wouldn't be faced with the choice of eitherwalking two miles in the rain to school or accepting a ride in theChief'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 westbedroom that faced out over the front yard. The room was familiar; it hadbeen belonged to me since I was born. The wooden floor, the light bluewalls, the peaked ceiling, the yellowed lace curtains around the window —these were all a part of my childhood. The only changes Charlie had evermade were switching the crib for a bed and adding a desk as I grew. Thedesk now held a secondhand computer, with the phone line for the modemstapled along the floor to the nearest phone jack. This was a stipulationfrom my mother, so that we could stay in touch easily. The rocking chairfrom my baby days was still in the corner.

  There was only one small bathroom at the top of the stairs, which I wouldhave to share with Charlie. I was trying not to dwell too much on thatfact.

  One of the best things about Charlie is he doesn't hover. He left mealone to unpack and get settled, a feat that would have been altogetherimpossible for my mother. It was nice to be alone, not to have to smileand look pleased; a relief to stare dejectedly out the window at thesheeting rain and let just a few tears escape. I wasn't in the mood to goon a real crying jag. I would save that for bedtime, when I would have tothink about the coming morning.

  Forks High School had a frightening total of only three hundred andfifty-seven — now fifty-eight — students; there were more than sevenhundred people in my junior class alone back home. All of the kids herehad grown up together — their grandparents had been toddlers together.

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

  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 thethings that go with living in the valley of the sun.

  Instead, I was ivory-skinned, without even the excuse of blue eyes or redhair, despite the constant sunshine. I had always been slender, but softsomehow, obviously not an athlete; I didn't have the necessary hand-eyecoordination to play sports without humiliating myself — and harming bothmyself and anyone else who stood too close.

  When I finished putting my clothes in the old pine dresser, I took my bagof bathroom necessities and went to the communal bathroom to clean myselfup after the day of travel. I looked at my face in the mirror as Ibrushed through my tangled, damp hair. Maybe it was the light, butalready I looked sallower, unhealthy. My skin could be pretty — it wasvery clear, almost translucent-looking — but it all depended on color. Ihad no color here.

  Facing my pallid reflection in the mirror, I was forced to admit that Iwas lying to myself. It wasn't just physically that I'd never fit in. Andif I couldn't find a niche in a school with three thousand people, whatwere my chances here?

  I didn't relate well to people my age. Maybe the truth was that I didn'trelate well to people, period. Even my mother, who I was closer to thananyone else on the planet, was never in harmony with me, never on exactlythe same page. Sometimes I wondered if I was seeing the same thingsthrough my eyes that the rest of the world was seeing through theirs.

  Maybe there was a glitch in my brain. But the cause didn't matter. Allthat mattered was the effect. And tomorrow would be just the beginning.

  I didn't sleep well that night, even after I was done crying. Theconstant whooshing of the rain and wind across the roof wouldn't fadeinto the background. I pulled the faded old quilt over my head, and lateradded 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 couldfeel the claustrophobia creeping up on me. You could never see the skyhere; it was like a cage.

  Breakfast with Charlie was a quiet event. He wished me good luck atschool. I thanked him, knowing his hope was wasted. Good luck tended toavoid me. Charlie left first, off to the police station that was his wifeand family. After he left, I sat at the old square oak table in one ofthe three unmatching chairs and examined his small kitchen, with its darkpaneled walls, bright yellow cabinets, and white linoleum floor. Nothingwas changed. My mother had painted the cabinets eighteen years ago in anattempt to bring some sunshine into the house. Over the small fireplacein 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 ofthe three of us in the hospital after I was born, taken by a helpfulnurse, followed by the procession of my school pictures up to lastyear's. Those were embarrassing to look at — I would have to see what Icould do to get Charlie to put them somewhere else, at least while I wasliving here.

  It was impossible, being in this house, not to realize that Charlie hadnever gotten over my mom. It made me uncomfortable.

  I didn't want to be too early to school, but I couldn't stay in the houseanymore. 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 asI reached for the house key that was always hidden under the eaves by thedoor, and locked up. The sloshing of my new waterproof boots wasunnerving. I missed the normal crunch of gravel as I walked. I couldn'tpause and admire my truck again as I wanted; I was in a hurry to get outof 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 hadobviously cleaned it up, but the tan upholstered seats still smelledfaintly of tobacco, gasoline, and peppermint. The engine started quickly,to my relief, but loudly, roaring to life and then idling at top volume.

  Well, a truck this old was bound to have a flaw. The antique radioworked, 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 notobvious that it was a school; only the sign, which declared it to be theForks High School, made me stop. It looked like a collection of matchinghouses, built with maroon-colored bricks. There were so many trees andshrubs I couldn't see its size at first. Where was the feel of theinstitution? 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 thedoor reading front office. No one else was parked there, so I was sure itwas off limits, but I decided I would get directions inside instead ofcircling around in the rain like an idiot. I stepped unwillingly out ofthe toasty truck cab and walked down a little stone path lined with darkhedges. I took a deep breath before opening the door.

  Inside, it was brightly lit, and warmer than I'd hoped. The office wassmall; a little waiting area with padded folding chairs, orange-fleckedcommercial carpet, notices and awards cluttering the walls, a big clockticking loudly. Plants grew everywhere in large plastic pots, as if therewasn't enough greenery outside. The room was cut in half by a longcounter, cluttered with wire baskets full of papers and brightly coloredflyers taped to its front. There were three desks behind the counter, oneof which was manned by a large, red-haired woman wearing glasses. She waswearing a purple t-shirt, which immediately made me feel overdressed.

  The red-haired woman looked up. "Can I help you?""I'm Isabella Swan," I informed her, and saw the immediate awarenesslight her eyes. I was expected, a topic of gossip no doubt. Daughter ofthe Chief's flighty ex-wife, come home at last.

  "Of course," she said. She dug through a precariously stacked pile ofdocuments on her desk till she found the ones she was looking for. "Ihave your schedule right here, and a map of the school." She broughtseveral sheets to the counter to show roe.

  She went through my classes for me, highlighting the best route to eachon the map, and gave me a slip to have each teacher sign, which I was tobring back at the end of the day. She smiled at me and hoped, likeCharlie, that I would like it here in Forks. I smiled back asconvincingly 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 tosee that most of the cars were older like mine, nothing flashy. At homeI'd lived in one of the few lower-income neighborhoods that were includedin the Paradise Valley District. It was a common thing to see a newMercedes or Porsche in the student lot. The nicest car here was a shinyVolvo, and it stood out. Still, I cut the engine as soon as I was in aspot, 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 Iwouldn't have to walk around with it stuck in front of my nose all day. Istuffed everything in my bag, slung the strap over my shoulder, andsucked in a huge breath. I can do this, I lied to myself feebly. No onewas going to bite me. I 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 noticedwith 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 mybreathing gradually creeping toward hyperventilation as I approached thedoor. I tried holding my breath as I followed two unisex raincoatsthrough the door.

  The classroom was small. The people in front of me stopped just insidethe 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 anameplate identifying him as Mr. Mason. He gawked at me when he saw myname — 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 introducingme to the class. It was harder for my new classmates to stare at me inthe back, but somehow, they managed. I kept my eyes down on the readinglist the teacher had given me. It was fairly basic: Bronte, Shakespeare,Chaucer, Faulkner. I'd already read everything. That was comforting… andboring. I wondered if my mom would send me my folder of old essays, or ifshe would think that was cheating. I went through different argumentswith her in my head while the teacher droned on.

  When the bell rang, a nasal buzzing sound, a gangly boy with skinproblems and hair black as an oil slick leaned across the aisle to talkto me.

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

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

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

  I had to check in my bag. "Um, Government, with Jefferson, in buildingsix."There was nowhere to look without meeting curious eyes.

  "I'm headed toward building four, I could show you the way…" Definitelyover-helpful. "I'm Eric," he added.

  I smiled tentatively. "Thanks."We got our jackets and headed out into the rain, which had picked up. Icould have sworn several people behind us were walking close enough toeavesdrop. I hoped I wasn't getting paranoid.

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

  "Very.""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 cloudsand a sense of humor didn't mix. A few months of this and I'd forget howto use sarcasm.

  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.

  I smiled at him vaguely and went inside.

  The rest of the morning passed in about the same fashion. My Trigonometryteacher, Mr. Varner, who I would have hated anyway just because of thesubject he taught, was the only one who made me stand in front of theclass and introduce myself. I stammered, blushed, and tripped over my ownboots on the way to my seat.

  After two classes, I started to recognize several of the faces in eachclass. There was always someone braver than the others who wouldintroduce themselves and ask me questions about how I was liking Forks. Itried to be diplomatic, but mostly I just lied a lot. At least I neverneeded the map.

  One girl sat next to me in both Trig and Spanish, and she walked with meto the cafeteria for lunch. She was tiny, several inches shorter than myfive feet four inches, but her wildly curly dark hair made up a lot ofthe difference between our heights. I couldn't remember her name, so Ismiled and nodded as she prattled about teachers and classes. I didn'ttry to keep up.

  We sat at the end of a full table with several of her friends, who sheintroduced 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 fromEnglish, Eric, waved at me from across the room.

  It was there, sitting in the lunchroom, trying to make conversation withseven curious strangers, that I first saw them.

  They were sitting in the corner of the cafeteria, as far away from whereI sat as possible in the long room. There were five of them. They weren'ttalking, and they weren't eating, though they each had a tray ofuntouched food in front of them. They weren't gawking at me, unlike mostof the other students, so it was safe to stare at them without fear ofmeeting an excessively interested pair of eyes. But it was none of thesethings that caught, and held, my attention.

  They didn't look anything alike. Of the three boys, one was big — muscledlike a serious weight lifter, with dark, curly hair. Another was taller,leaner, but still muscular, and honey blond. The last was lanky, lessbulky, with untidy, bronze-colored hair. He was more boyish than theothers, who looked like they could be in college, or even teachers hererather than students.

  The girls were opposites. The tall one was statuesque. She had abeautiful figure, the kind you saw on the cover of the Sports Illustratedswimsuit issue, the kind that made every girl around her take a hit onher self-esteem just by being in the same room. Her hair was golden,gently waving to the middle of her back. The short girl was pixielike,thin in the extreme, with small features. Her hair was a deep black,cropped short and pointing in every direction.

  And yet, they were all exactly alike. Every one of them was chalky pale,the palest of all the students living in this sunless town. Paler thanme, the albino. They all had very dark eyes despite the range in hairtones. They also had dark shadows under those eyes — purplish, bruiselikeshadows. As if they were all suffering from a sleepless night, or almostdone recovering from a broken nose. Though their noses, all theirfeatures, 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 alldevastatingly, inhumanly beautiful. They were faces you never expected tosee except perhaps on the airbrushed pages of a fashion magazine. Orpainted by an old master as the face of an angel. It was hard to decidewho was the most beautiful — maybe the perfect blond girl, or thebronze-haired boy.

  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 Iwatched, the small girl rose with her tray — unopened soda, unbittenapple — and walked away with a quick, graceful lope that belonged on arunway. I watched, amazed at her lithe dancer's step, till she dumped hertray and glided through the back door, faster than I would have thoughtpossible. My eyes darted back to the others, who sat unchanging.

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

  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 boyishone, the youngest, perhaps. He looked at my neighbor for just a fractionof a second, and then his dark eyes flickered to mine.

  He looked away quickly, more quickly than I could, though in a flush ofembarrassment 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 toanswer.

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

  "That's Edward and Emmett Cullen, and Rosalie and Jasper Hale. The onewho left was Alice Cullen; they all live together with Dr. Cullen and hiswife." She said this under her breath.

  I glanced sideways at the beautiful boy, who was looking at his tray now,picking a bagel to pieces with long, pale fingers. His mouth was movingvery quickly, his perfect lips barely opening. The other three stilllooked away, and yet I felt he was speaking quietly to them.

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

  But maybe that was in vogue here — small town names? I finally rememberedthat my neighbor was called Jessica, a perfectly common name. There weretwo girls named Jessica in my History class back home.

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

  "Yes!" Jessica agreed with another giggle. "They're all together though —Emmett and Rosalie, and Jasper and Alice, I mean. And they livetogether." Her voice held all the shock and condemnation of the smalltown, I thought critically. But, if I was being honest, I had to admitthat even in Phoenix, it would cause gossip.

  "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 earlythirties. 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 beenwith Mrs. Cullen since they were eight. She's their aunt or somethinglike that.""That's really kind of nice — for them to take care of all those kidslike that, when they're so young and everything.""I guess so," Jessica admitted reluctantly, and I got the impression thatshe didn't like the doctor and his wife for some reason. With the glancesshe was throwing at their adopted children, I would presume the reasonwas jealousy. "I think that Mrs. Cullen can't have any kids, though," sheadded, as if that lessened their kindness.

  Throughout all this conversation, my eyes flickered again and again tothe table where the strange family sat. They continued to look at thewalls and not eat.

  "Have they always lived in Forks?" I asked. Surely I would have noticed them on one of my summers here.

  "No," she said in a voice that implied it should be obvious, even to anew arrival like me. "They just moved down two years ago from somewherein Alaska."I felt a surge of pity, and relief. Pity because, as beautiful as theywere, they were outsiders, clearly not accepted. Relief that I wasn't theonly newcomer here, and certainly not the most interesting by anystandard.

  As I examined them, the youngest, one of the Cullens, looked up and metmy gaze, this time with evident curiosity in his expression. As I lookedswiftly away, it seemed to me that his glance held some kind of unmetexpectation.

  "Which one is the boy with the reddish brown hair?" I asked. I peeked athim from the corner of my eye, and he was still staring at me, but notgawking like the other students had today — he had a slightly frustratedexpression. I looked down again.

  "That's Edward. He's gorgeous, of course, but don't waste your time. Hedoesn't date. Apparently none of the girls here are good-looking enoughfor him." She sniffed, a clear case of sour grapes. I wondered when he'dturned her down.

  I bit my lip to hide my smile. Then I glanced at him again. His face wasturned away, but I thought his cheek appeared lifted, as if he weresmiling, too.

  After a few more minutes, the four of them left the table together. Theyall were noticeably graceful — even the big, brawny one. It wasunsettling 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 haveif I'd been sitting alone. I was anxious not to be late for class on myfirst day. One of my new acquaintances, who considerately reminded methat her name was Angela, had Biology II with me the next hour. We walkedto class together in silence. She was shy, too.

  When we entered the classroom, Angela went to sit at a black-topped labtable exactly like the ones I was used to. She already had a neighbor. Infact, all the tables were filled but one. Next to the center aisle, Irecognized Edward Cullen by his unusual hair, sitting next to that singleopen seat.

  As I walked down the aisle to introduce myself to the teacher and get myslip signed, I was watching him surreptitiously. Just as I passed, hesuddenly went rigid in his seat. He stared at me again, meeting my eyeswith the strangest expression on his face — it was hostile, furious. Ilooked away quickly, shocked, going red again. I stumbled over a book inthe walkway and had to catch myself on the edge of a table. The girlsitting there giggled.

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

  Mr. Banner signed my slip and handed me a book with no nonsense aboutintroductions. I could tell we were going to get along. Of course, he hadno 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 theantagonistic stare he'd given me.

  I didn't look up as I set my book on the table and took my seat, but Isaw his posture change from the corner of my eye. He was leaning awayfrom me, sitting on the extreme edge of his chair and averting his facelike he smelled something bad. Inconspicuously, I sniffed my hair. Itsmelled like strawberries, the scent of my favorite shampoo. It seemed aninnocent enough odor. I let my hair fall over my right shoulder, making adark curtain between us, and tried to pay attention to the teacher.

  Unfortunately the lecture was on cellular anatomy, something I'd alreadystudied. I took notes carefully anyway, always looking down.

   I couldn't stop myself from peeking occasionally through the screen of myhair at the strange boy next to me. During the whole class, he neverrelaxed his stiff position on the edge of his chair, sitting as far fromme as possible. I could see his hand on his left leg was clenched into afist, tendons standing out under his pale skin. This, too, he neverrelaxed. He had the long sleeves of his white shirt pushed up to hiselbows, and his forearm was surprisingly hard and muscular beneath hislight skin. He wasn't nearly as slight as he'd looked next to his burlybrother.

  The class seemed to drag on longer than the others. Was it because theday was finally coming to a close, or because I was waiting for his tightfist to loosen? It never did; he continued to sit so still it looked likehe wasn't breathing. What was wrong with him? Was this his normalbehavior? I questioned my judgment on Jessica's bitterness at lunchtoday. 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 downat me again, his black eyes full of revulsion. As I flinched away fromhim, shrinking against my chair, the phrase if looks could kill suddenlyran through my mind.

  At that moment, the bell rang loudly, making me jump, and Edward Cullenwas out of his seat. Fluidly he rose — he was much taller than I'dthought — his back to me, and he was out the door before anyone else wasout of their seat.

  I sat frozen in my seat, staring blankly after him. He was so mean. Itwasn't fair. I began gathering up my things slowly, trying to block theanger that filled me, for fear my eyes would tear up. For some reason, mytemper 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 carefullygelled into orderly spikes, smiling at me in a friendly way. He obviouslydidn't think I smelled bad.

  "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 thatbig of a coincidence in a school this small.

  We walked to class together; he was a chatterer — he supplied most of theconversation, which made it easy for me. He'd lived in California till hewas ten, so he knew how I felt about the sun. It turned out he was in myEnglish class also. He was the nicest person I'd met today.

  But as we were entering the gym, he asked, "So, did you stab EdwardCullen 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. 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 thedressing room. "If I were lucky enough to sit by you, I would have talkedto you."I smiled at him before walking through the girls' locker room door. Hewas friendly and clearly admiring. But it wasn't enough to ease myirritation.

  The Gym teacher, Coach Clapp, found me a uniform but didn't make me dressdown for today's class. At home, only two years of RE. were required.

  Here, P.E. was mandatory all four years. Forks was literally my personalhell on Earth.

  I watched four volleyball games running simultaneously. Remembering howmany injuries I had sustained — and inflicted — playing volleyball, Ifelt faintly nauseated.

  The final bell rang at last. I walked slowly to the office to return mypaperwork. The rain had drifted away, but the wind was strong, andcolder. I wrapped my arms around myself.

  When I walked into the warm office, I almost turned around and walkedback out.

  Edward Cullen stood at the desk in front of me. I recognized again thattousled bronze hair. He didn't appear to notice the sound of my entrance.

  I stood pressed against the back wall, waiting for the receptionist to befree.

  He was arguing with her in a low, attractive voice. I quickly picked upthe gist of the argument. He was trying to trade from sixth-hour Biologyto another time — any other time.

  I just couldn't believe that this was about me. It had to be somethingelse, something that happened before I entered the Biology room. The lookon his face must have been about another aggravation entirely. It wasimpossible that this stranger could take such a sudden, intense disliketo me.

  The door opened again, and the cold wind suddenly gusted through theroom, 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 thewire 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. For an instant, I felt a thrill ofgenuine 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 thereceptionist.

  "Never mind, then," he said hastily in a voice like velvet. "I can seethat it's impossible. Thank you so much for your help." And he turned onhis 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, andhanded 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 seemedlike a haven, already the closest thing to home I had in this damp greenhole. 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 andthe engine roared to life. I headed back to Charlie's house, fightingtears the whole way there.

第一章 初见