*by Stephenie Meyer*
TWILIGHT - chapter 5 - BLOOD TYPE
I made my way to English in a daze. I didn't even realize when I first walked in that class had already started.
"Thank you for joining us, Miss Swan," Mr. Mason said in a disparaging tone.
I flushed and hurried to my seat.
It wasn't till class ended that I realized Mike wasn't sitting in his usual seat next to me. I felt a twinge of guilt. But he and Eric both met me at the door as usual, so I figured I wasn't totally unforgiven. Mike seemed to become more himself as we walked, gaining enthusiasm as he talked about the weather report for this weekend. The rain was supposed to take a minor break, and so maybe his beach trip would be possible. I tried to sound eager, to make up for disappointing him yesterday. It was hard; rian or no rain, it would still only be in the high forties, if we were lucky.
The rest of the morning passed in a blur. It was difficult to believe that I hadn't just imagined what Edward had said, and the way his eyes had looked. Maybe it was just a very convincing dream that I'd confused with reality. That seemed more probable than that I really appealed to him on any level.
So I was impatient and frightened as Jessica and I entered the cafeteria. I wanted to see his face, to see if he'd gone back to the cold, indifferent person I'd known for the last several weeks. Or if, by some miracle, I'd really heard what I thought I'd heard this morning. Jessica babbled on and on about her dance plans - Lauren and Angela had asked the other boys and they were all going together - completely unaware of my inattention.
Disappointment flooded through me as my eyes unerringly focused on his table. The other four were there, but he was absent. Had he gone home? I followed the still-babbling Jessica through the line, crushed. I'd lost my appatite - I bought nothing but a bottle of lemonade. I just wanted to go sit down and sulk.
"Edward Cullen is staring at you again," Jessica said, finally breaking through my abstraction with his name. "I wonder why he's sitting alone today."
My head snapped up. I followed her gaze to see Edward, smiling crookedly, staring at me from an empty table across the cafeteria from where he usually sat. Onve he's caught my eyes, he raised one hand and motioned with his index finger for me to join him. As I stared in disbelief, he winked.
"Does he mean you?" Jessica asked with insulting astonishment in her vioce.
"Maybe he needs help with his Biology homework," I muttered for her benefit. "Um, I'd better go see what he wants."
I could feel her staring after me as I walked away.
When I reached his table, I stood behind the chair across from him, unsure.
"Why don't you sit with me today?" he asked, smiling.
I sat down automatically, watching him with caution. He was still smiling. It was hard to believe that someone so beautiful could be real. I was afraid that he might disappear in a sudden puff of smoke, and I would wake up.
He seemed to be waiting for me to say something.
"This is different," I finally managed.
"Well..." He paused, and then the rest of the words followed in a rush. "I decided as long as I'm going to hell, I might as well do it thoroughly."
I waited for him to say something that made sense. The seconds ticked by.
"You know I don't have any idea what you mean," I eventually pointed out.
"I know." He smiled again, and then he changed the subject. "I think your friends are angry with me for stealing you."
"They'll survive." I could feel their stares boring into my back.
"I may not give you back, though," he said with a wicked glint in his eyes.
He laughed. "You look worried."
"No," I said, but, ridiculously, my voice broke. "Surprised, actually... what brought all this on?"
"I told you - I got tired of trying to stay away from you. So I'm giving up." He was still smiling, but his ocher eyes were serious.
"Giving up?" I repeated in confusion.
"Yes - giving up trying to be good. I'm just going to do what I want now, and let the chips fall where they may." His smile faded as he explained, and a hard edge crept into his voice.
"You lost me again."
The breathtaking crooked smile reappeared.
"I always say too much when I'm talking to you - that's one of the problems."
"Don't worry - I don't understand any of it," I said wryly.
"I'm counting on that."
"So, in plain English, are we friends now?"
"Friends...," he mused, dubious.
"Or not," I muttered.
He grinned. "Well, we can try, I suppose. But I'm warning you now that I'm not a good friend for you." ehind his smile, the warning was real.
"You say that a lot," I noted, trying to ignore the sudden trembling in my stomach and keep my voice even.
"Yes, because you're not listening to me. I'm still waiting for you to believe it. If you're smart, you'll avoid me."
"I think you've made your opinion on the subject of my intellect clear, too." My eyes narrowed.
He smiled apologetically.
"So, as long as I'm being... not smart, we'll try to be friends?" I struggled to sum up the confusing exchange.
"That sounds about right."
I looked down at my hands wrapped around the lemonade bottle, not sure what to do now.
"What are you thinking?" he asked curiously.
I looked up into his deep gold eyes, became befiddled, and, as usual, blurted out the truth.
"I'm trying to figure out what you are."
His jaw tightened, but he kept his smile in place with some effort.
"Are you having any luck with that?" He asked in an offhand tone.
"Not too much," I admitted.
He chuckled. "What are your theories?"
I blushed. I had been vacillating during the last month between Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker. There was no way I was going to own up to that.
"Won't you tell me?" he asked, tilting his head to one side with a chockingly tempting smile.
I shook my head. "Too embarrassing."
"That's really frustrating, you nkow," he complained.
"No," I disagreed quickly, my eyes narrowing, "I van't imagine why that would be frustrating at all - just because someone refuses to tell you what they're thinking, even if all the while they're making cryptic little remarks specifically designed to keep you up at night wondering what they could possibly mean... now, why would that br frustrating?"
"Or better," I continued, the pent-up annoyance flowing freely now, "say that person also did a wide range of bizzare things - from saving your life under impossible circumstances one day to treating you like a pariah the next, and he never explained any of that, either, even after he promised. That, also, would be very non-frustrating."
"You've got a bit of a temper, don't you?"
"I don't like double standards."
We stared at each other, unsmiling.
He glanced over my shoulder, adn then, unexpectedly he snickered.
"You're boyfriends seems to think I'm being unpleasant to you - he's debating whether or not to come break up our fight." He snickered again.
"I don't know what you're talking about," I said frostily. "But I'm sure you're wrong, anyway."
"I'm not. I told you, most people are easy to read."
"Except me, of course."
"Yes, except for you." His mood shifted suddenly; his eyes turned brooding. "I wonder why that is."
I had to look away from the intensity of his stare. I concentrated on unscrewing the lid of my lemonade. I took a swig, staring at the table without seeing it.
"Aren't you hungry?" he asked distracted.
"No." I didn't feel like metioning that my stomach was already full - of butterflies. "You?" I looked at the table in front of him.
"No, i'm not hungry." I didn't understand his expression - it looked like he was enjoying some private joke.
"Can you do ma a favor?" I asked after a second of hesitation.
He was suddenly wary. "That depends on what you want."
"It's not much," I assured him.
He waited, guarded but curious.
"I just wondered... if you could warn me beforehand the next time you decide to ignore me for my own good. Just so I'm prepared." I looked at the lemonade bottle as I spoke, tracing the circle of the opening with my pinkie finger.
"That sound fair." He was pressing his lips together to keep from laughing when I looked up.
"Then can I have one answer in return?" he demanded.
"Tell me one theory."
Whoops. "Not that one."
"You didn't qualify, you just promised one answer," he reminded me.
"And you've broken promises yourself," I reminded him back.
"Just one theory - I won't laugh."
"Yes, you will." I was positive about that.
He looked down, and then glanced up at me through his long black lashes, his ocher eyes scorching.
"Please?" he breathed, leaning toward me.
I blinked, my mind going blank. Holy crow, how did he do that?
"Er, what? I asked, dazed.
"Please tell me just one little theory." His eyes still smoldered at me.
"Um, well, bitten by a radioactive spider?" Was he a hypnotist, too? Or was I just a hopeless pushover?
"That's not very creative," he scoffed.
"I'm sorry, that's all I've got," I said, miffed.
"You're not even close," he teased.
"And no radioactivity?"
"Dang," I sighed.
"Kryptonite doesn't bother me, either," he chuckled.
"You're not supposed to laugh remember?"
He struggled to compose his face.
"I'll figure it out eventually," I warned him.
"I wish you wouldn't try." He was serious again.
"What if I'm not a superhero? What if I'm the bad guy?" He smiled playfully, but his eyes were impenetrable.
"Oh," I said, as several things he'd hinted fell suddenly into place. "I see."
"Do you?" His face was abruptly severe, as if he were afraid that he'd accidentally said too much.
"You're dangerous?" I guessed, my pulse quickening as I intuitively realized the truth of my own words. He was dangerous. He'd been trying to tell me that all along.
He just looked at me, eyes full of some emotion I couldn't comprehend.
"But not bad," I whispered, shaking my head. "No, I don't believe that you're bad."
"You're wrong." His voice was almost inaudible. He looked down, stealing my bottle lid and then s[inning it on its side between his fingers. I stared at him, wondering why I didn't feel afraid. He meant what he was saying - that was obvious. But I just felt anxious, on edge... and, more than anything else, fascinated. The same way I almost felt when I was near him.
The silence lasted until I noticed that the cafeteria was almost empty.
I jumped to my feet. "We're going to be late."
"I'm not going to class today," he said, twirling the lid so fast it was just a blur.
"It's healthy to ditch class now and then." He smiled up at me, but his eyes were still troubled.
"Well, I'm going," I told him. I was far too big a coward to risk getting caught.
He turned his attention back to his makeshift top. "I'll see you later, then."
I hestitated, torn, but then the first bell sent me hurrying out the door - with a last glance confirming that he hadn't move a centimeter.