I would be lying if I said I didn’t resent my dad. I mean, I loved him of course. He was the only one who had ever truly understood my struggles. That didn’t change the fact that part of me wished I hadn’t been born at all, or maybe just born with a different father. I knew, deep down, that it wasn’t his fault. He hadn’t meant to get my mom pregnant, and even then he had no way of knowing I was going to inherit his… affliction. Still, every time the moon rose, full and blinding in the night sky, and my skin tore at it’s seams as I turned into a lupine monster. Part of me silently cursed him.
A t this moment though, as I ex ited the plane and onto the tarmac of the rainy Seattle sky, I was grateful for him. My mom, Renee, had done her best. Raising a werewolf child is no easy task after all. But she wanted to re-marry, and live a normal human life with her new love. I couldn’t fault her for that. So I didn’t hesitate to get on a plane and head to my dad, who now was the chief of police in a small and rainy town called Forks. I had visited him a lot growing up, and he taught me what he could in the times we spent together.
I walked out of the airport and saw him leaning against his police cruiser. His eyebrows were furrowed in thought and his hand was absentmindedly stroking the few days growth on his chin.
“You need to shave, old man.” I joked as I approached him, “You’re starting to look like a wild animal.”
His deep brown eyes, eyes like mine, twinkled in amusement, “Ah Bella,” his deep voiced sighed, pulling me into a hug. I was appreciative of the warmth. Werewolves ran significantly hotter than humans did, and even though my young body was significantly warmer than Charlies, it was still much more comfortable than others. “ Did you have a nice flight?” He asked,
“Yeah it was okay,” I shrugged as I lugged my bag into the trunk of the car.
“I don’t know how you can be so calm about it. I hate flying.” Charlie shook his head, his slightly long hair that was previously groomed back now fell around his eyes. He got into the cruiser.
“Well yeah,” I laughed as I followed, getting in the passenger seat. “That’s because you remember when the only way to travel was by horse and buggy.” I pushed jokingly at his shoulder.
“That has nothing to do with it.” He sniffed.
I knew that wasn’t the entire truth. Charlie had been alive a long time. I wasn’t sure on the exact numbers, as he never seemed all that comfortable telling me tales of his long life. But I knew he was old, I had garnered that he was at least approaching his sixth century, based on the pieces of information I had managed to pry from him over the years. My dad always seemed so open and friendly, but I knew that he was as closed off as they come. He hid parts of himself from the world and fro m me, accustomed to a certain level of loneliness he didn’t want to let anyone too close. I hoped that I would never become so bitter.
“Oh come on,” I laughed, “The only reason you got a cell phone was because you needed one for work!”
“Are you excited to start a new school?” He asked, clearly changing the subject. Classic Charlie move, always avoiding uncomfortable moments.
“I guess so?” It came out as a question. “It’s a chance to start fresh.” I continued, “I mean, all the human kids in Arizona always seemed just a little bit frightened of me.”
“Well, it would probably help if you didn’t refer to them as ‘human kids’, Bells” He turned to give me a cheeky smile.
“It’s not like I said that to their faces!” I protested, “I’m not an idiot, dad. I know how to keep our secret, secret” My mouth pulled into a frown that I was sure looked more like a childish pout.
“Oh I didn’t mean it like that Bells!” He said apologetically, there was a brief silence. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry you’re like me.” he said it softly, his voice overflowing with sadness.
“Dad,” I put a hand on his arm, “It’s not your fault. You know that right? And I am so thankful for you, you have helped me so much.” I could see his eyes glisten as tears threaten to fall, “I love you dad” I whispered, leaning across the console to place my forehead on his shoulder.
“I love you too Bells” He said his voice threatening to break, and I felt him press his lips to my head. He cleared his throat, “Here, we’re almost home.”
I looked up and around at my surroundings. Green forest was giving way to houses and shops. We wove through a few streets before he pulled up to the familiar house. Small and wooden, it sat on a small parcel of land backed by the evergreen forest. Even though I hadn’t been here in a couple of years, it was still the same familiar place. I took a deep breath as a got out of the car , expecting to relish in the cool fresh scent of the Washington forest. Instead I got a sharply sweet scent assaulting my nose. Vampires.
I raised a questioning eyebrow at Charlie, “Vampires?” I swallowed the lump of fear forming in my throat.
“Relax, they are not a threat. The Cullen Clan moved to town a few years ago. They don’t hurt anyone so I figured its best to leave them alone.” He shrugged as he exited his cruiser.
“Do they know?” I let the un-finished question hang in the air.
“About us? No. I didn’t think that was needed.” His face became serious, clearly telling me to keep our secret to myself. I nodded obediently and turned towards the house figuring it was best to move on from the uncomfortable subject. I stopped in my tracks at the sight of a monstrous red truck in the driveway that had previously gone unnoticed.
“Whose truck?” In answer to my question, Charlie simply threw a set of keys in my direction. I caught them swiftly from the air. “It’s mine?” I asked, walking up to it and peering in the windows.
I heard the trunk of the cruiser shut closed as Charlie brought me my bags, “Sure is, Kid” He said “I bought it from my friend, Billy.”
I nodded. I remembered Billy Black. Charlie knew of the now dormant pack of shifters on the reservation, and felt it was important to make friends just in case their dormancy didn’t last.
“Come on inside and get settled in your room. I will go get some dinner started.” Charlie said, producing a set of keys from his pocket and opening the front door. I didn’t want him going to any trouble on my behalf and I was just about to open my mouth in protest when he turned around and shot me a pointed look. Of course he knew, he always seemed to know what I was feeling, sometimes even before I did. Charlie assured me, that was a talent that I would gain with age and experience.
I ducked my head down and moved passed Charlie, taking the suitcase and duffle from his hands as I made my way up the tight hallway and ascended the stairs. I opened the door to my room and was comforted by the familiarity, it was exactly the same, save for a new purple duvet cover. I stifled a laugh. I had mentioned once, when I was 12 years old, that I liked the colour purple. I t seemed that Charlie had not forgotten.
I opened my case and started to unpack, shoving clothes into draws and hanging up the few things that needed hanging. Most of these clothes were new, I had needed to buy more cold climate gear. Not that I actually needed it, but it would look strange to others if I wasn’t bundled up against the cold.
When I was done I took a moment to relax, sitting in the old rocking chair that had been in this room since my infancy. I would never admit it to Charlie just how nervous I actually was about starting a new school. I had managed to make a few friends in Phoenix. They had been other outcasts, those who differed from the norm and were criticised for it. And even though they had endured my presence, I knew that they still were never comfortable with me. But it was still better than the others, who ignored me completely, averting their gaze when I walked down the hall.
W ould Forks High be better? Or would it be worse, because of the much smaller s tudent population?
I guess only time would tell.
As I pulled into the small parking lot of Forks High I pretended not to notice all the eyes watching me. I tried telling myself it was the monstrous noise of the truck, and not my presence that had them staring. It was probably both though. No, it was definitely both.
I retrieved my class schedule and map of the school from the office, and the door had barely closed behind me before I was accosted by a boy in the hallway. “Hi!” He said happily, “I’m Eric, you’re Isabella Swan right? The new girl?”
The new girl. I had been called worst things. “Uh yeah, but it’s just Bella.” I shrugged,
“Bella, cool” He said as we started to walk down the hall. “What’s your first class?” He asked, leaning too close for comfort to take a look at my schedule.
I balled the paper up in my fist and shoved it into my pocket, “English with Mr Mason” I replied, trying to make more distance between us. The last thing I needed was someone to notice the extreme difference in temperature.
“Cool!” Eric chirped, “My class is right next door.”
Eric continued to chatter as we walked, pointing out different things as we went. I was thankful for the chatter, he could hold a conversation with himself and it took the pressure off of me. Soon we arrived at my class, “So I will see you at lunch. Yeah?” He asked, and before I could agree he just said, “Awesome!” and took off to his classroom next door.
Oh well, at least Charlie would be happy. I was making friends already. I hoped that whoever Eric sat with at lunch talked as much as he did, or at least wouldn’t notice how quiet I was. It wasn’t like I didn’t like socialising, but sometimes I just found it difficult. I would often find myself listening to people’s heartbeats, a clear sign of their emotional state. And when I would eventually catch them in a lie, I found it increasingly hard to like them. I really didn’t like people lying to me.
As I entered the lunch room I was bombarded with the smell of greasy food and hormonal teenagers. I quickly grabbed myself some lunch. It didn’t take me long to find Eric in the sea of people, since he was the one standing and waving dramatically. I smiled happily as I went over and sat in the only unoccupied seat.
“Bella!” He crowed, “This Jessica, Angela, and Mike.” He introduced each person with a point of his finger, “Everyone, this is Bella. The new girl.”
“Hi, it’s nice to meet you all.” I smiled. This was easier than I had dared to hope. This group seemed nice enough. All I had to do was not say anything rude, or strange, or anything that may make them think that I was anything other than a normal seventeen year old girl. Charlie was going to be so happy when I told him. I was happily listening to their endless chatter when I was pulled back to reality.
“Huh?” I said, a mouthful of salad still in my mouth.
Jessica rolled her eyes playfully with a giggle. “I said, that the Cullen’s are staring at you!”
“The who are doing what now?” I was confused so I followed Jessica’s gaze across the lunch room. I almost choked on my food. Sitting as far away as they could from everyone else were five people. Except they weren’t people. Not really. Well, they were no more human than I was anyway. They sat almost too still, and the five of them were indeed staring at me. I took in their forms, their snow white skin, and perfectly angular features.
I looked at their faces, bracing myself for the ruby red, but was shocked to find varying shades of yellow and gold. There was a stunning blonde woman, her face twisted in an unwelcoming scowl. She sat next to a large black haired man who had his arm draped possessively around her shoulders. Next to him, at the oval table was a tiny slip of a girl. Or maybe she just looked that small because she was sitting so close to someone so large. Her black hair was short and was sticking in every direction. She was leaning against a tall blonde man, who’s eyes were the darkest of the group. His lips were pressed into a tight line, and even from across the lunch room my acute eyes could make out dozens of half-moon scars. The last sat further away from the others, still a part of the group but obviously still separate. His bronze hair was messy and windblown, even though their wasn’t any wind outside. Almost instantly I felt a strange connection, the way he sat distinct from the rest of his group reminded me of myself. A part of something, and yet still apart from it. Separate. Different. Alone.
“And?” I shrugged, forcing myself to continue my lunch even though my appetite was gone.
“And!?” Squeaked Jessica, “You act as if its nothing!”
“Jess, she doesn’t know what we know.” Angela said, shooting me a kind smile. Oh, you poor sweet summer child, if only you knew what I knew.
“Oh right!” Jessica scooted her chair closer to me and I caught Mike rolling his eyes. Obviously this was usual behaviour for her. “So, the Cullen’s are the adopted kids of Dr and Mrs Cullen.” she started,
“Okay?” I raised my eyebrow as I continued to force food down my throat.
“I haven’t even got to the good part yet!” Hissed Jessica, and I couldn’t help but laugh at the situation. I knew that if they were paying attention, that the vampires could hear every single word falling out of our mouths, and here was Jessica ranting on as if she was telling me about her favourite TV drama.
“Oh, the good part?” I chuckled, “I can’t wait. Do tell.”
Jessica grinned, obviously happy to have someone knew to share this gossip with. “So the best part? Is that they are all like, together. Like dating. Isn’t that just so strange?” she giggled.
I bit my top lip in amusement, “It is a little strange,” I relented, “But I have seen stranger things.”
“Seriously?! You have got to be kidding me. They live together. I mean it doesn’t feel legal” Jessica sniffed.
“Jess, they aren’t technically related.” Angela defended them,
“I don’t know,” Mike spoke up, “If you have to start bringing technicalities into things, that is kinda more proof that shit is strange.”
“Thank you!” Jessica beamed, playfully slapping Mike on the shoulder. “Anyway, the blonde girl is Rosalie, total diva. She’s with the big dude, Emmett.” Jessica continued unprompted, “Alice is the pixie girl, and she’s shacked up with the tall blonde guy. The only one that is single is Edward.” I nodded along as I finished my food, but before I could get a word in Jessica said “But don’t get any ideas. He doesn’t date. At least no one here. Apparently no one in this school is good enough for him.”
I felt my ear twitch as I picked up a musical laugh from across the lunch room, breaking out over the endless cacophony of heartbeats and conversation. So apparently they were listening in on our conversation. Rude.
“I don’t think that’s going to be an issue,” I laughed, I stood up as the bell rang.
I was truly enjoying myself. I only hoped that the people I had sat with at lunch continued to want to be my friend, even after the charm of being ‘the new girl’ wore off. I made my way to biology. I had been looking forward to biology all day, it was by far my favourite subject. I had been in an AP bio class at my old school, but Forks High had no AP courses. I tried not to let my true intelligence show, Charlie said that it would just raise flags. The last thing we wanted was unnecessary attention. He had explained to me that a heightened intellect was just part of being a werewolf. It was an evolutionary defence mechanism, made to help us survive. We were able to absorb and retain information much faster than humans, and recognise and predict patterns in the heat of the moment. It was perfect for a life war and survival. Not so perfect for sitting in school for 8 hours a day.
I entered the class room with a spring in my step and a smile on my lips. Then I stopped dead in my tracks. Everyone was already in their seats, chatting and getting ready for the lesson. The only spare seat was next to the vampire. Edward. All bronze hair and golden eyes. I felt my heart flutter and my inner wolf was pulling. Not away, as I had expected it to. Rather towards, urging me forwards.
Go. Sit with him. Talk to him. Be close. I could feel the pull grow stronger, but I couldn’t convince my legs to move an inch closer to him.
I had only seen a vampire one other time in my life. I had been thirteen years old and Charlie had taken me camping near the grand canyon. Just as dusk fell, and the endless sky of stars appeared above us, so did a man . Seemingly out of no where, he was just suddenly there. He was tall, lanky legs and thinly muscled arms. His hair was black as midnight, and was long and fell around his head like a lions mane. His nose had been long and hooked, his lips full, but what I remembered most was his eyes. They were a deep dark red colour. The colour of the rust on my dads fishing boat. The colour of dried blood. I was terrified. I wanted to run, to do something at least, but I had been frozen to the spot.
T he vampire dropped into a threatening crouch and before I could do anything more than suck in a fearful breath of air, my dad had launched himself across our small campfire and towards the monster. I watched as he changed, with such speed and ease that I had never been able to manage . His clothes fell away in torn strips, and his flesh cracked and fell away in bloody peices as his tawny fur peaked out from underneath . In an explosion of ragged cloth and blood, a large sandy coloured wolf landed in a defensive position. A part of me had wanted to scream, had tried to even. Another part of me wanted to change as well, even though I had never managed to do so other than with the assistance of the full-moon . I had just sat there, frozen in abject terror. There was a blur of ivory fangs and faun coloured fur, of marble skin and blazing red eyes. It was over quickly and Charlie burnt the remains in our camp fire. I had had nightmares of that camping trip for months afterwards.
I sometimes still did.
S o, even though in that moment every cell of my being was urging me closer to the vampire who sat at the table in front of me. My brain had me frozen in place. All I could do was think of that terrifying camping trip. Of the snarling and the sounds my dad had made when those pale fingers clawed into his flesh. I forced myself to walk over to the teachers desk, clearing my throat to get his attention.
“Oh yes, Isabella Swan.” Mr Banner smiled up at me.
I didn’t bother to correct him, “Uhm, Mr Banner I am not feeling so well. I was wondering if I could please go to the nurses office.”
He took a moment to look me over, seeing if I was faking. I think he mistook the fear in my eyes as something else, the paling of my cheeks a sign of illness rather than panic, and he quickly said, “Of course.”
I didn’t linger any longer. I didn’t go to the nurses office as I had claimed and I tried not to feel bad about lying to Mr Banner. I am sure if he knew the truth of the situation that he would understand. I controlled my speed as I rushed to my truck, throwing in my bag inside and slamming the door closed behind me.
I could feel bile slowly rise in my throat as my breathing started to come in shorter bursts. The edges of my vision clouded, and a sob rose in my throat.
“Breathe” I gasped out to myself. I pulled down the sun visor and looked myself in the eyes through the small mirror. “You are safe,” I said, as I took a deep calming breath, working myself back from the brink of a full scale panic attack. “Safe” I repeated. The panicked and wild look in my big brown eyes slowly faded, and I took another deep breath just for good measure. I flipped the visor back into place and started the engine which came to life with a comforting roar.