Rating: PG right now...
“No way,” Angela breathed, hugging her knees closer to her chest. We were sitting on my bed, and I had just finished telling her about Edward. “He sounds like a total jerk!” She paused for a moment, and then grinned at me. “Was he at least cute?”
I rolled my eyes, and exhaled softly. I shrugged.
“Oh my GOD,” she squealed. “He totally was, and you’re holding out on me!”
I picked at a loose thread on my comforter. “He had really nice eyes,” I said, trying to sound nonchalant. She wasn’t fooled.
“Color?” She demanded.
“Like, mossy green, or sage green, or-“
“What else? Spill!”
“His hair was a strange color – it was sort of …” I thought about it for a minute, chewing on my bottom lip as I did. “The only color I can think of that comes close is bronze.”
“Oh, my,” she sighed, leaning back against the wall. She stretched her legs out on the bed. “Was he muscled? I mean, does he look like a jock?”
“I don’t think so. It was hard to tell, because he was wearing a button-down shirt, but-“
“So you looked at him,” she said, smugness radiating from her every pore. “You were attracted to him.”
“You’d have to be dead not to have been,” I retorted, frowning. “Still, it doesn’t make him any nicer than he was.”
“But he was nice to you on the way over here, right? I mean, that’s what you said.”
“For a few minutes, he was, yes,” I conceded, shrugging again. “But I seriously doubt that-“ I was cut off by the sound of the phone ringing. I picked up the receiver and held it to my ear.
“Bella?” I smiled despite myself. Leave it to my Dad to call and check up on me on the first day of class.
“Yeah, Dad, it’s me.”
“How were your classes today?”
“They were fine,” I said, mouthing the word Charlie to Angela. She nodded and rose from the bed.
“I’m going to go get a Coke,” she whispered. “Want one?” I nodded and watched as she disappeared from the room.
“What else would they be, Dad?” I asked, laughing.
“I don’t know,” he replied, but I could hear relief in his voice. “So, uh, you’re doing okay?”
“Fine. I promise. And I promise I will call you within the next three days to let you know how I’m doing then, too.”
“Okay. Take care, Bella.”
“You too, Dad. Bye.”
“Bye.” After I’d hung up, I stared at the phone for a minute. I worried about my Dad, especially since I knew that now that I was gone, he would have to cook for himself, or else become a constant fixture at the local diner. I laughed softly. He’d probably already done that.
“…but it was so cool running into you,” I heard Angela’s muffled voice from the hallway. “I’ll see you around, okay?” I watched as she opened the door and slipped inside, shutting it quickly.
“What was that all about?” I asked curiously, catching the Coke she threw to me. She rolled her eyes and flopped down on her bed.
“Remember that guy Mike?”
“Yeah. Apparently he lives in this dorm.” Ah. The hazards of living in a co-ed dormitory. Charlie (my Dad) had tried to warn me, but I hadn’t listened.
“How did he know you lived here?”
“I don’t think he did, until I ran into him in the lounge.”
“So? Why the hiding?”
“He asked me out.”
“I said no. I’m not really looking to get involved with anyone right now – school’s just started, Bella.”
“I know. You’re right. But still… isn’t college the time when you’re supposed to … I don’t know… experiment?”
“When you experiment, so will I,” Angela declared, laughing. I snorted and shook my head. Like that would happen anytime soon…
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Tuesday’s choir class passed beautifully. I wasn’t the best singer in the world, but I enjoyed doing it. It counted for credits, and they had been just desperate enough for more voices that they’d accepted me. I didn’t know anyone else in the class, so when it was over, I had no one to talk to on the way out. Actually, it didn’t really bother me as much as it probably should have – I had just never been an overly social person. I was more than happy to whip out my iPod and “shove those plugs into my ears,” as my Dad liked to put it. I sat down on one of the stone benches and leaned back on my hands, closing my eyes and lifting my face to the sun.
Angela had insisted on walking me to choir (which was held in the chapel – good acoustics, right?), so I’d gotten there on time. Since it was my only class today, I was in no hurry to go anywhere. It was nice to have some time to myself. I loved Angela, but solitude was a big deal for me.
I think I was there by myself for almost a half an hour, totally and completely blissed out from my blaring music, before he showed up. I swear I must’ve jumped three feet in the air when I felt his hand on my shoulder. I pulled the ear buds from my ears and opened my eyes, staring at him in utter confusion.
“Sorry – I didn’t mean to startle you,” he said, giving me a crooked smile. Suddenly I felt flustered, and I had no idea why – which put me on edge.
“Yeah, well, you did,” I breathed, trying to sound offended, but only managing to sound as though I’d run a couple of laps. “What do you need?”
“How’s your head?” he gestured vaguely with his long, slender fingers. I stared for a minute. For some girls, butts do the job. For others, chests – whether it’s pecs or abs. For me? Wrists, hands, fingers… yeah, I’m weird. Sue me. His were beautiful. It took me a minute to realize he was still talking. “Maybe I should go ahead and take you over to the wellness center now.”
“No, I’m fine,” I said, hurriedly looking away from his hands and hating the blush I felt creeping into my cheeks. “My head is fine. I woke up with a headache, but I’m okay.”
“Are you lost?” he asked. I looked up to see him glancing around. He looked back down at me, and I shook my head.
“No, I have a class over here.”
“Only music classes are over here,” he stated, matter-of-factly. I felt myself bristling. This again?
“So not only can I not do math, I also can’t take music classes?” I demanded. He blinked, and then laughed.
“It seems I’m destined to do nothing but offend you every time I see you,” he replied. I was surprised when he dropped gracefully down onto the bench next to me. “So what instrument do you play?”
“I don’t,” I said, scooting away from him slightly. He smelled the same – soap and cologne, and something else I couldn’t quite put my finger on…but he smelled too good. My first instinct was to lean closer to him, so I’d be able to breathe his scent in – so of course, I did the exact opposite. He didn’t seem to notice.
“Oh?” He looked confused, and then he smiled again. “Choir, huh?”
“Yeah,” I said, looking away.
“Aren’t you going to ask me what instrument I play?”
“Piano,” I replied automatically. He was quiet for a minute, and I looked up to see why. He was staring at me with a strange look in his eyes.
“How did you know that?”
“Lucky guess,” I said, trying to block out all of the fantasies that had flooded my mind – images of long fingers, piano keys… guh! And then, before I could stop myself, I blurted, “You have the hands for it.” Oh, god… I was ready to sink into the ground with humiliation. To my surprise, he laughed.
“Really?” He glanced down at his hands, grinning much more than should be allowed, and then looked back up at me. “How can you tell?”
“Long fingers,” I said, hating the way my breath caught. I had to get away from him, before I died of embarrassment. I picked up my bag and stood, and he stood with me.
“My class has been over for a while – I was just sneaking a few minutes to myself.”
“Sneaking?” he repeated, his eyebrows raised.
“Yeah… it’s hard to be alone in a dormitory full of people.”
“I think I can relate to that. I’m not one for dorm life, either.”
“Which one do you live in?”
“None,” he said, clearly amused. “I don’t live in a dorm.”
“I value my privacy as well. I have a small apartment off campus.”
“Yes, it is,” he agreed. I smiled, wondering why we were suddenly chatting like old friends. “So,” he said, interrupting my thought, “what were you listening to?”
“Uhm… nothing, really.”
“Too embarrassed to tell me?” He guessed.
“Yes,” I said honestly.
“What if I promise that I won’t laugh? Would you tell me then?”
“What if I say please?” he asked, leaning towards me a little. His eyes sparkled, and I swallowed convulsively.
“Er… maybe?” I offered.
“Please.” Crap, how did he do that? His eyes looked like they’d gone all smoky, and his stare was definitely intense.
“Here,” I said, shoving my iPod at him. “You can just look through my playlist, if you want.” He grinned and scrolled through it, surprise flickering across his face several times.
“You and I seem to have similar tastes,” he said after a while. He handed the iPod back to me, and I shoved it into my back pocket. “I’d be interested in seeing your music collection.”
“Sure,” I said absently, not believing for a second that he meant it. “Don’t you have a class over here…?”
He laughed. “Yes, and I’m going to be late if I don’t get going. It was nice running into you again, though. I suppose I’ll see you tomorrow in Trig.”
“Yeah. I’ll see you around, um…”
“Edward,” he supplied, grinning at me again. I blinked. I hadn’t forgotten his name, just what I was going to say.
“Yeah, Edward. I’ll see you.”
“Goodbye, Bella.” I gave him what I was sure was a watery smile, and turned, practically running in the other direction. If I wasn’t careful, I might actually start to like this guy.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Angela and I were eating dinner when Jacob found us. He grinned and sat down. “I hope you guys don’t mind if I sit with you.”
“Of course not,” Angela said, returning his smile.
“How have your first two days of classes been?”
“Pretty good,” she said, nodding. I looked up and saw that they were both looking at me, waiting for my answer.
“Okay,” I said, feeling flustered. My mind had been totally preoccupied with long, pale fingers. I felt the blood rush up to my cheeks. “Classes have been okay.” Angela gave me a knowing look, while Jacob looked confused.
“Bella has three busy days a week, while I only have two,” Angela said conversationally, turning to Jacob. “She only has one class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I have four.”
“And you have more than that?” Jacob asked, sounding somewhat awed. She nodded.
“I have two others.”
“Hell, that’s a lot of credit hours. How are you going to manage that load?”
“It should be nothing for her,” I said, smiling. “She was the class Valedictorian at Forks – she actually wanted to take more classes, and her advisor said no.”
“Wow,” Jacob said, giving Angela an appraising look. I laughed softly as I saw her blush for the first time in memory, and realization dawned on me. She liked Jacob. She turned her attention to her glass of milk, and Jacob turned to me. “So, have you guys heard about the SAE party?”
“It’s only the second day of class,” I objected, shaking my head. “And there’s already a party?”
“Well, yeah – I mean, are you kidding?” he asked, frowning. “The parties started last week. TKE had an awesome –“ his words dropped off, and he shrugged. “Are you girls going?”
“We haven’t been invited,” I said hurriedly. He laughed.
“You don’t need to be invited to a frat party,” he explained. Angela grinned. “Everyone just shows up.”
“When is it?”
“Friday night. Do you ladies want to go with me?”
“I’ll have to wait and see how much work I have to do,” I said slowly. This was one of the things that I did not want to experience in college – the frat party. I had heard enough horror stories from Charlie and his buddies about what they’d done as fraternity brothers, and I had no desire to enter into that world. Also, crowds and I don’t mix well. Angela scowled.
“I’d like to go, Jacob.”
“Hey, great,” he said, smiling at her. He turned back to me. “I guess we’ll have to wait until Friday to see if Bells is coming.” I blinked at him. “What?”
“My Dad calls me Bells.”
“Oh. I didn’t mean to offend you, or anything-“
“No, it’s fine,” I said, shaking my head. “It was just unexpected, is all.” He wolfed down a huge portion of spaghetti, and I laughed.
“You’re a big eater, aren’t you?”
“I have to be – I play football.”
“Really?” Angela was on the edge of her chair, watching him with poorly masked adoration. I smiled and shook my head.
“I’m going to go ahead and go, guys,” I said, rising from my chair. “Ang, I’ll see you back at the dorm. Jacob, I’ll-“
“I’ll walk you to Koch tomorrow,” he said, grinning broadly. I laughed.
“Okay, see you then.” I put my dinner tray up and left the building, putting in my ear buds and clicking on my iPod as I did so. I had taken approximately three steps away when I realized that the song playing wasn’t the one I’d been listening to earlier, and I paused.
You are an illuminating anchor
Of leagues to infinite number
Of crashing waves and breaking thunder
Tiding the ebb and flows of hunger
You're dancing naked there for me
You expose all memory
You make the most of boundary
You're the ghost of royalty imposing love
You are the queen and king combining everything
Intertwining like a ring around the finger, of a girl
I'm just a singer, you're the world
All I can bring ya
Is the language of a lover
Bella luna, my beautiful beautiful moon
How you swoon me like no other
Edward had been scrolling through my playlist, I remembered… surely he had never heard this song and wouldn’t have known the lyrics, right? Still, I felt the heat in my face as I reached down and pressed the forward button, skipping to another song.
I managed to find my way to the library, which thrilled me, and I went inside to find a nice, quiet table to use for reading. I went straight to the third floor and chose the smallest table I could find – it looked no bigger than an end table, really – and flopped down into it. I stared out the window, enjoying the view of campus that it afforded me. From my vantage point, the students below all nearly looked like bugs. It was a funny enough thought that I smiled before reaching into my bag to retrieve a book. I had only read two pages when, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed someone approaching me.
I looked up and blinked in surprise before removing my ear buds. He sat down in the only other seat at the tiny table.
“Are you following me?” I blurted. He arched an eyebrow at me and fought back a grin.
“I could ask you the same thing. You do seem to keep turning up wherever I go, don’t you?”
“Hardly,” I scoffed, turning back to my book.
“You’ve already completed all of your classwork?” he asked, rummaging through his bag for something. I blinked.
“Yes. I finished all of my reading last night. And choir hardly requires any advanced preparation, in case you hadn’t noticed.” He withdrew his Trig book and placed it on the table, looking at me.
“So you’ve finished the Trig assignment?”
“No,” I leaned forward slightly and glanced between him and the book. “Did we have one?”
“Yes.” He opened the book and began rifling through it, and I could feel my temper getting the best of me.
“Well, are you going to tell me what it is, or not?”
“But you said you already had all of your work done, so naturally-“
“Can you quit being a jerk for two seconds, and just tell me what the assignment is?” I hissed, my eyes darting around to make sure that no one was listening. “You know that I wasn’t in class long enough to-“ That stopped me in my tracks, and my eyes met his.
“You weren’t in class, either,” I accused. “How did you get the assignment?”
“I went back and asked for it,” he said simply. We were quiet for several moments, and then he frowned. “Did you just call me a jerk?”
“You catch on fast,” I snapped, leaning back in my chair.
“You think I’m a jerk?” He asked again, this time sounding a little surprised.
“Sometimes, yes,” I answered, focusing my gaze out the window. I sat like that for so long that I was sure he’d gone. When I turned around, however, he was still there, watching me.
“Closet romantic, eh?” he asked. I frowned in confusion, and he used his long fingers to gesture towards the book I now held in my lap. I shrugged.
“Have you ever read it?” I challenged.
“Of course I have,” he returned, smiling a little at the surprise that was evident on my face. “How can you be a self-respecting college student and not have read Mansfield Park?”
“How can you be a self-respecting man and have read it?”
“Now who’s the victim of double standards?” He asked, smirking. “I can’t read Jane Austen novels because I am a man?”
“You’re right,” I said, my cheeks burning. “I’m sorry.”
He grinned and extracted a pen and a slip of paper from his bag. I watched as he wrote something quickly on the front, and then flipped it over and wrote something on the back. He recapped his pen and shoved it in his bag before pushing the scrap of paper towards me.
“This is the assignment. I think you’ll find it fairly easy to complete – I did.”
“How long did it take you?” I asked, not looking at the paper as I pushed it down into my pocket. He gave me an odd look, and then shrugged.
“About thirty minutes, give or take.”
“Great, thanks.” He was still looking at me strangely when he rose from his chair.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, then.”
“Sure.” I watched him walk away, and with an exasperated sigh, went back to my book. But how was I supposed to concentrate now? Every time I read the name Edmund, I confused it with Edward! I snapped my book shut furiously and decided to just go back to my room.
The next morning, I awoke in a terrible mood. I hadn’t gotten much sleep, and the sleep that I had gotten had been fitful at best. I kept having nightmares – about what, I couldn’t remember, but they’d done a good job of keeping me from being rested.
For the most part, Angela gave me my space, for which I was grateful. We ate breakfast in silence, and when she got up to leave, I followed. I waved as she disappeared out of sight, and turned to head to class, bumping face-first into Jacob.
“Whoa,” he said, grinning broadly. “I know you’re excited to see me, but-“
“Whatever,” I grumbled, adjusting the strap of my bag. He frowned.
“Everything all right?” We began to walk away from the dining hall.
“Yeah, I just didn’t sleep well, is all.”
“That sucks,” he said apologetically. “Were you up late partying or studying?” I glared at him, and he laughed, which made me feel a tiny bit less grumpy. “Studying, right.”
“How come you’re always in such a good mood?” I grumbled.
“How come you’re not?” he countered. I rolled my eyes and tried to fight a smile. “I don’t know. I guess it’s just my nature.”
“Don’t your cheeks ever hurt from smiling too much?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” he laughed, as we approached Koch. “I don’t smile every second of the day.”
“You seem to when you’re with me,” I shot back, allowing him to open the door for me.
“Yeah, well…” his voice trailed off for a minute, and then he grinned again. “That’s just for you.” I stopped and turned to look at him, nearly getting run down by other students hurrying to their classes. His grin faltered under my gaze.
“You’ve barely known me for three days,” I pointed out quietly.
“I’m a man who knows what he likes,” he replied, completely serious now. Suddenly his smile was back. “And you’d better get to class, if you don’t want to be late. I’ll find you later and walk you to lunch.”
I watched in disbelief as he walked away, and finally got my own feet moving down the right hallway. I’d never so much as had a boyfriend in high school, and on my third day of college, this guy tells me he likes me? It was exciting because he was cute and seemed really nice… but at the same time, it was disheartening. I realized, as I plopped down into my chair, that I’d rather have heard that declaration from someone else. Another guy I didn’t even know.
What in the hell was wrong with me?