*by Stephenie Meyer*
TWILIGHT - chapter 2 - OPEN BOOK
For the rest of the lunch hour I very carefully kept my eyes at my own table. I decided to honor the bargain I'd made with myself. Since he didn't look angry, I would go to Biology. My stomach did fightened little flips at the thought of sitting next to him again.
I didn't really want to walk to class with Mike as usual - he seemed to be a popular target for the snowball snipers - but when we went to the door, everyone besides me groaned in unison. It was raining, washing all traces of the snow away in clear, icy ribbons down the side of the walkway. I pulled my hood up, secretly pleased. I would be free to go straight home after Gym.
Mike kept up a string of complaints on the way to building four.
Once inside the classroom, I saw with relief that my table was still empty. Mr. Banner was walking around the room, distibuting one microscope and box of slides to each table. Class didn't start for a few minutes, and the room buzzed with conversation. I kept my eyes away from the door, doodling idly on the cover of my notebook.
I heard very clearly when the chair next to me moved, but my eyes stayed carefully focused on the pattern I was drawing.
"Hello," said a quiet, musical voice.
I looked up, stunned that he was speaking to me. He was sitting as far away from me as the desk allowed, but his chair was angled toward me. His hair was dripping wet, disheveled - even so, he looked like he'd just finished shooting a commercial for hair gel. His dazzling face was friendly, open, a slight smile on his flawless lips. But his eyes were careful.
"My name is Edward Cullen," he continued. "I didn't have a chance to introduce myself last week. You must be Bella Swan."
My mind was spinning with confusion. Had I made up the whole thing? He was perfectly polite now. I had to speak; he was waiting. But I couldn't think of anything conventional to say.
"H-how do you know my name?" I stammered.
He laughed a soft, enchanted laugh.
"Oh, I think everone knows you name. The whole town's been waiting for you to arrive."
I grimanced. I knew it was something like that.
"No," I persisted stupidly. "I meant, why did you call me Bella?"
He seemed confused. "Do you prefer Isabella?"
"No, I like Bella," I said. But I think Charlie - I mean my dad - must call me Isabella behind my back - that's what everyone here seems to know me as," I tried to explain, feeling like an utter moron.
"Oh." He let it drop. I looked away awkwardly.
Thankfully, Mr. Banner started class at that moment. I tried to concentrate as he explained the lab we would be doing today. The slides in the box were out of order. Working as lab partners, we had to separate the slides of onion root tip cells into the phases of mitosis they represented and lable them accordingly. We weren't supposed to use our books. In twenty minutes, he would be coming wround to see who had it right.
"Get started," he commanded.
"Ladies first, partner?" Edward asked. I looked up to see him smiling a crooked smile so beautiful that I could only stare at him like an idiot.
"Or I could start, if you wish." The smile faded; he was obviously wondering if I was mentally competent.
"No," I said, flushing. "I'll go ahead."
I was showing off, just a little. Id already done this lab, and I knew what I was looking for. It should be easy. The snapped the fist slide into place under the microscope and adjusted it quickly to the 40X objective. I studied the slide briefly.
My assessment was confident. "Prophase."
"Do you mind if I look?" he asked as I bagan to remove the slide. His hand caught mine, to stop me, as he asked. His fingers were ice-cold, like he'd been holding them in a snowdrift before class. But that wasn't why I jerked my hand away so quickly. When he touched me, it stung my hand as if an electric current had passed through us.
"I'm sorry," he muttered, pulling his hand back immediately. However, he continued to reach for the microscope. I watched him, still staggered, as he examined the slide for an even shorter time than I had.
"Prophase," he agreed, writing it neatly in the first space in our worksheet. He swiftly switched out the first slide for the second, and then glanced at it cursorily.
"Anaphase," he murmured, writing it down as he spoke.
I kept my voice indifferent. "May I?"
He smirked and pushed the microscope to me.
I looked through the eye piece eagerly, only to be disappointed. Dang it, he was right.
"Slide three?" I held out my hand without looking at him.
He handed it to me; it seemed like he was being careful not to touch my skin again.
I took the most fleetong look I could manage.
"Interphase." I passed him the microscope before he could ask for it. He took a swift peek, and then wrote it down. I would have written it while he looked, but his clear, elegant script intimidated me. I didn't want to spoil the page with my clumsy scrawl.
We were finished before anyone else was close. I could see Mike and his partner comparing two slides again and again, and another group had their book open under the table.
Which left me with nothing to do but try to not look at him... unsuccessfully. I glanced up, and he was staring at me, that same inexplicable look of frustration in his eyes. Suddenly I identified that subtle difference in his face.
"Did you get contacts?" I blurted out unthinkingly.
He seemed puzzled by my unexpected question. "No."
"Oh," I mumbled. "I thought there was something different about your eyes."
He shrugged, and looked away.
In fact, I was sure there was something different. I vividly remembered the flat black color of his eyes the last time he'd glared at me - the color was striking against the background of his pale skin and his auburn hair. Today, his eyes were a completely different color: a strange ocher, darker than butterscotch, but with the same golden tone. I didn't understand how that could be, unless he was lying for some reason about the contacts. Or maybe Forks was making me crazy in the literal sense of the word.
I looked down. His hands were clenched into hard fists again.
Mr. Banner came to our table then, to see why we weren't working. He looked over our shoulders to glance at the completed lab, and then stared more intently to check the answers.
"So, Edward, didn't you think Isabella should get a chance with the microscope?" Mr. Banner asked.
"Bella," Edward corrected automatically. "Actually, she identified three of the five."
Mr. Banner looked at me now; his expression was skeptical.
"Have you done this lab before?" he asked.
I smiled sheepishly. "Not with onion root."
Mr. Banner nodded. "Were you in an advanced placement program in Phoenix?"
"Well," he said after a moment, "I guess it's good you two are lab partners." He mumbled something else as he walked away. After he left, I began doodling on my notebook again.
"It's too bad about the snow, isn't it?" Edward asked. I had a feeling that he was forcing himself to make small talk with me. Paranoia swept over me again. It was like he had heard my conversation with Jessica at lunch and was trying to prove me wrong.
"Not really," I answered honestly, instead of pretending to be normal like everyone else. I was still trying to dislodge the stupid feeling of suspicion, and I couldn't concentrate.
"You don't like the cold." It wasn't a question.
"Or the wet."
"Forks must be a difficult place for you to live," he mused.
"You have no idea," I muttered darkly.
He looked fascinated by what I said, for some reason I couldn't imagine. His face was such a distraction that I tried not to look at it any more than courtesy absolutely demanded.
"Why did you come here, then?"
No one had asked me that - not straight out like he did, demanding.
"I think I can keep up," he pressed.
I paused for a long moment, and ten made the mistake of meeting his gaze. His dark golden eyes confused me, and I answered without thinking.
"My mother got remarried," I said.
"That doesn't sound so complex," he disagreed, but he was suddenly sympathetic. "When did that happen?"
"Last September." My voice sounded sad, even to me.
"And you don't like him," Edward surmised, his tone still kind.
"No, Phil is fine. Too yong, maybe, but nice enough."
"Why didn't you stay with them?"
I couldn't fathom his interest, but he continued to stare at me with penetrating eyes, as if my dull life's story was somehow vitally important.
"Phil travels a lot. He plays ball for a living." I half-smiled.
"Have I heard of him?" he asked, smiling in response.
"Probably not. He doesn't play well. Stricyly minor league. He moves around a lot."
"And your mother sent you here so that she could travel with him." He said it as an assumption again, not a question.
My chin raised a fraction. "No, she did not send me here. I sent myself."
His eyebrows knit together. "I don't understand," he admitted, and he seemed unnecessarily frustrated by that fact.
I sighed. Why was I explaining this to him? He continued to stare at me with obvious curiosity.
"She stayed with me at first, but she missed him. It made her unhappy... so I decided it was time to spend some quality time with Charlie." My voice was glum by the time I finished.
"But now you're unhappy," he pointed out.
"And?" I chalenged.
"That doesn't seem fair." He shrugged, but his eyes were still intense.
I laughed without humor. "Hasn't anyone ever told you? Life isn't fair."
"I believe I have heard that somewhere before," he agreed dryly.
"So that's all," I insisted, wondering why he was still staring at me that way.
His gaze became appraising. "You put on a good show," he said slowly. "But I'd be willing to bet that you're suffering more than you let anyone see."
I grimanced at him, resisting the impulse to stick out my tongue like a five-year-old, and looked away.
"Am I wrong?"
I tried to ignore him.
"I didn't think so," he murmured smugly.
"Why does it matter to you?" I asked, irritated. I kept my eyes away, watching the teacher make his rounds.
"That's a very good question," he murmured, so quietly that I wondered if he was talking to himself. However, after a few second of silence, I decided that was the only answer I was going to get.
I sighed, scowling at the blackboard.
"Am I annoying you?" he asked. He sounded amused.
I glanced at him without thinking... and told the truth again. "Not exactly. I'm more annoyed at myself. My face is so easy to read - my mother always calls me her open book." I frowned.
"On the contrary, I find you very dificult to read." Despite everything that I'd said he's guessed, he sounded like he meant it.
"You must be a good reader then," I replied.
"Usually." He smiled widely, flashing a set of perfect, ultrawhite teeth.
Mr. Banner called the class to order then, and I turned with relief to listen. I was in disbelief that I'd just explained my dreary life to this bizzare, beautiful boy who may or may not despise me. He'd seemed engrossed in our conversation, but now I could see, from the corner of my eye, that he was leaning away from me again, his hands gripping the edge of the table with unmistakable tension.
I tried to appear attentive as Mr. Banner illustrated, with transparencies on the overhead projector, what I had seen without difficulty through the microscope. But my thoughts were unmanageable.
When the bell finally rang, Edward rushed as swiftly and as gracefully from the room as he had last Monday. And, like last Monday, I stared after him in amazement.