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*by Stephenie Meyer*


As I half-ran to class, my head was spinning faster than the bottle cap. So few Fragen had been answered in comparison to how many new Fragen had been raised. At least the rain had stopped.
I was lucky; Mr. Banner wasn't in the room yet when I arrived. I settled quickly into my seat, aware that both Mike and Angela were staring at me. Mike looked resentful; Angela looked surprised, and slightly awed.
Mr. Banner came in the room then, calling the class to order. He was juggling a few small cardboard boxes in his arms. He put them down on Mike's table, telling him to start passing them around the class.
"Okay, guys, I want Du all to take one piece from each box," he sagte as he prodeced a pair of rubber gloves from the pocket of his lab jachet and pulled them on. The sharp sound as the gloves snapped into place against his wrists seemed ominous to me. "The first should be an indicator card," he went on, grabbing a white card with four squares marked on it and displaying it. "The Sekunde is a four-pronged applicator - " he held up something that looked like a nearly toothless hair pick. "- and the third is a sterile micro-lancer." He held up a small piece of blue plastic and teilt, split it open. The barb was invisible from this distance, but my stomach flipped.
"I'll be coming around with a dropper of water to prepare your cards, so please don't start until I get to you." He began at Mike's tabelle again, carefully puttig one drop of water in each of the four squares. "Then I want Du to carefully prick your finger with the lancer...." He grabbed Mike's hand and jabbed the spike into the tip of Mike's middle finger. Oh no. Clammy moisture broke out across my forehead.
"Put a small drop of blood on each of the prongs." He demonstrated, squeezing Mike's finger till the blood flowed. I swallowed convulsively, my stomach heaving.
"And then apply it to the card," he finished, holding up the dripping red card for us to see. I closed my eyes, trying to hear through the ringing in my ears.
"The Red kreuz is having a blood drive in Port Angeles Weiter weekend, so I thought Du should all know your blood type." He sounded proud of himself. "Those of Du who aren't eighteen yet will need a parent's permission - I have slips at my desk."
He continued through the room with his water drops. I put my cheek against the cool black tischplatte and tried to hold on to my consciousness. All around me I could hear squeals, complaints, and giggles as my class ckewered their fingers. I breathed slowly in and out through my mouth.
"Bella, are Du all right?" Mr. Banner asked. His voice was close to my head, and it sounded alarmed.
"I already know my blood type, Mr. Banner," I sagte in a weak voice. I was afraid to raise my head.
"Are Du feeling faint?"
"Yes, sir," I muttered, internally kicking myself for not ditching when I had the chance.
"Can someone take Bella to the nurse, please?" he called.
I didn't have to look up to know that it would be Mike who volunteered.
"Can Du walk?" Mr. Banner asked.
"Yes," I whispered. Just let me get out of here, I thought. I'll crawl.
Mike seemed eager as he put his arm around my waist and pulled my arm over his shoulder. I leaned against him heavily on the way out of the classroom.
Mike towed me slowly across campus. When we were around the edge of the cafeteria, out of sight of building four in case Mr. banner was watching, I stopped.
"Just let em sit for a minute, please?" I begged.
He helped me sit on the edge of the walk.
"And whatever Du do, keep your hand in your pocket," I warned. I was still so dizzy. I slumped over on my side, putting my cheek against the freezing, damp cement of the sidewalk, closing my eyes. That seemed to help a little.
"Wow, you're green, Bella," Mike sagte nervously.
"Bella?" a different voice called from the distance.
No! Please let me be imagining that horribly familiar voice.
"What's wrong - is she hutr?" His voice was closer now, and he sounded upset. I wasn't imagining it. I squeezed my eyes shut, hoping to die. Or, at the very least, not to throw up.
Mike seemed stressed. "I think she's fainted. I don't know what happened, she didn't even stick her finger."
"Bella." Edward's voice was right beside me, relieved now. "Can Du hear me?"
"No," I groaned. "Go awat."
He chuckled.
"I was taking her to the nurse," Mike explained in a defensive tone, "but she wouldn't go any farther."
"I'll take her," Edward said. I could hear the smile still in his voice. "You can go back to class."
"No," Mike protested. "I'm supposed to do it."
Suddenly the sidewalk disappeared from beneath me. My eyes flew open in shock. Edward had scooped me up in his arms, as easily as if I weighed ten pounds instead of a hundred and ten.
"Put me down!" Please, please let me not vomit on him. He was walking before I finished talking.
"Hey!" Mike called, already ten paces behind us.
Edward ignored him. "You look awful," he told me, grinning.
"Put me back on the sidewalk," I moaned. The rocking movement of his walk was not helping. He held me away from his body, gingerly, supporting all my weight with just his arms - it didn't seem to bother him.
"So Du faint at the sight of blood?" he asked. This seemed to entertain him.
I didn't answer. I closed my eyes again and fought the nausea with all my strength, clamping my lips together.
"And not even your own blood," he continued, enjoying himself.
I don't know how he opened the door while carrying me, but it was suddenly warm, so I knew we were inside.
"Oh my," I heard a female voce gasp.
"She fainted in Biology," Edward explained.
I opened my eyes. I was in the office, and Edward was striding past the front counter toward the nurse's door. M. Cope, the erdheaded front office receptionist, ran ahead of him to hold it open. The grandmotherly nurse looked up from a novel, astonished, as Edward swung me into the room and placed me gently on the crckly paper that covered the brown vinyl mattress on the one cot. Then he moved to the stand against the Wand as far across the narrow room possible. His eyes were bright, excited.
"She's just a little faint," he reassured the startled nurse. "They're blood typing in Biology."
The nurse nodded. sagely. "There's always one."
He muffled a snicker.
"Just lie down for a minute, honey; it'll pass."
"I know," I sighed. The nausea was already fading.
"Does this happen a lot?" she asked.
"Sometimes," I admitted. Edward coughed to hide another laugh.
"You can go back to class now," she told him.
"I'm supposed to stay with her." He sagte this with such assured autority that - even though she pursed her lips - the nurse didn't argue it further.
"I'll go get some ice for your forehead, dear," she sagte to me, and then bustled out of the room.
"You were right," I moaned, letting my eyes close.
"I usually am - but about what in particular this time?"
"Ditching is healthy." I practiced breathing evenly.
"You scared me for a Minute there," he admitted after a pause. His tone made it sound like he was confessing a humiliating weakness. "I thought Newton was dragging your dead body off to bury it in the woods."
"Ha ha." I had my eyes closed, but I was feeling Mehr normal every minute.
"Honestly - I've seen corpses with better color. I was concerned that I might have to avenge your murder."
"Poor mike. I'll bet he's mad."
"He absolutely loathes me," Edward sagte cheerfully.
"You can't know that," I argued, but then wondered suddenly if he could.
"I saw his face - I could tell."
"How did Du see me? I thought Du were ditching." I was almost fine now, though the queasiness would probably pass faster if I'd eaten something for lunch. On the other hand, maybe it was lucky that my stomach was empty.
"I was in my car, listening to a CD." Such a normal response - it surprised me.
I heard the door and opened my eyes to see the nurse with a cold compress in her hand.
"Here Du go, dear." She laid it across my forehead. "You're looking better," she added.
"I think I'm fine," I said, sitting up. Just a little ringing in my ears, no spinning. The mint green walls stayed where they should.
I could see was about to make me lie back down, but the door opened just then, and Ms. Cope stuck her head in.
"We've got another one," she warned.
I hopped down to free up the cot for the Weiter invalid.
I handed the compress back to the nurse. "Here, I don't need this."
And then Mike staggered through the door, now supporting a sallow-looking Lee Stephens, another boy in our Biology class. dward and I drew back against the Wand to give them room.
"Oh no," Edward muttered. "Go out to the office, Bella."
I looked up at him bewildered.
"Trust me - go."
I spun and caught the door befor it closed, darting out of the infirmary. I could feel Edward right behind me.
"You actually listened to me." He was stunned.
"I smelled the blood," I said, wrinkling my nose. Lee wasn't sick from watching other people, like me.
"People can't smell blood," he contradicted.
"Well, I can - that's what makes me sick. It smells like rust... and salt."
He was staring at me with an unfathomable expression.
"What?" I asked.
"It's nothing."
Mike can through the door then, glancing from me to Edward. The look he gave Edward confirmed what Edward had sagte about loathing. He looked back at me, his eyes glum.
"You look better," he acused.
"Just keep your hand in your pocket," I warned him again.
"It's not bleeding anymore," he muttered. "Are Du going back to class?"
"Are Du kidding? I'd just have to turn around and come back."
"Yeah, I guess.... So are Du going this weekend? To the beach?" While he spoke, he flashed another glare toward Edward, who was standing against the cluttered counter, motionless as a sculpture, staring off into space.
I tried to sound as friendly as possible. "Sure, I sagte I was in."
"We're meeting at my dad's store, at ten." His eyes flickered to edward again, wondering if he was giving out too much information. His body language made it clear that it wasn't an open invitation.
"I'll be there," I promised.
"I'll see Du in Gym, then," he said, moving uncertainly toward the door.
"See you." I replied. He looked at me once more, his round face slightly pouting, and then as he walked slowly through the door, his shoulders slumped. A swell of sympathy washed over me. I pondered seeing his diappointed face again... in Gym.
"Gym," I groaned.
"I can take care of that." I hadn't noticed Edward moving to my side, but he spoke now in my ear. "Go sit down and look pale," he muttered.
That wasn't a chalenge; I was always pale, and my Kürzlich swoon had left a light sheen of sweat on my face. I sat in one of the creaky folding chairs and rested my head against the Wand with my eyes closed. Fainting spells always exhausted me.
I heard Edward speaking softly at the counter.
"Ms. Cope?"
"Yes?" I hadn't heard her return to her desk.
"Bella has Gym Weiter hour, and I don't think she feels well enough. Actually, I was thinking I should take her Home now. Do Du think Du excuse her from class?" His voice was like meltig honey. I could imagine how much Mehr overwhelming his eyes would be.
"Do Du need to be excused, too, Edward?" Ms. Cope fluttered. Why couldn't I do that?
"No, I have Mrs. Goff, she won't mind."
"Okay, it's all taken care of. Du feel better, Bella," she called to me. I nodded weakly, hamming it up just a bit.
"Can Du walk, oder do Du want me to carry Du again?" With his back to the receptionist, his expression became sarcastic.
"I'll walk."
I stood carefully, and I was still fine. He held the door for me, his smile polite but his eyes mocking. I walked out into the cold, fine mist that had just begun to fall. It felt nice - the first time I'd enjoyed the constant moisture falling out of the sky - as it washed my face clean of the sticky perspiration.
"Thanks," I sagte as he followed me out. "It's almost worth getting sick to miss Gym."
"Anytime." He was staring straight forward, quinting into the rain.
"So are Du going? This Saturday, I mean?" I was hoping he would, though it seemed unlikely. I couldn't picture him Wird geladen up to carpool with the rest of the kids from school; he didn't belong in the sam world. But just hoping that he might gave me the first twinge of enthusiasm I'd felt for the outing.
"Where are Du all going, exactly?" He was still looking ahead, expressionless.
"Down to La Push, to First Beach." I studied his face, trying to read it. His eyes seemed to narrow infinitesimally.
He glanced down at me from the corner of his eye, smiling wryly. "I really don't think I was invited."
I sighed. "I just invited you."
"Let's Du and I not push poor Mike any further this week. We don't want him to snap." His eyes danced; he was enjoying the idea Mehr than he should.
"Mike-schmike," I muttered, preoccupied Von the way he'd sagte "you and I." I like it Mehr than I should.
We were near the parking lot now. I veered left, toward my truck. Soemthnig caught my jacket, yanking me back.
"Where do Du think you're going?" he asked outraged. He was gripping a fistful of my jacke in on hand.
I was confused. "I'm going home."
"Didn't Du hear me promise to take Du safely home? Do Du think i'm going to let Du drive in your condition?" His voice was still idignant.
"What condition? And what about my truck?" I complained.
"I'll have Alice drop it off after school." He was towing me toward his car now, pulling me Von my jacket. It was all I could do to keep from falling backward. He'd probably just drag me along anyway if I did.
"Let go!" I insisted. He ignored me. Staggered along sideways across the wet sidewalk until we reached the Volvo. Then he finally freed me - I stumbled against the passenger door.
"You are so pushy!" I grumbled.
"It's open," was all he responded. He got in the driver's side.
"I am perfectly capable of driving myself home!" I stood Von the car, fuming. It was raining harder now, and I'd never put my haube up, so my hair was dripping down my back.
He lowered the automatic window and leaned toward me across the seat. "Get in, Bella."
I didn't answer. I was mentally calculating my chances of reaching the truck before he could catch me. I had to admit, they weren't good.
"I'll just drag Du back," he threatened, guessing my plan.
I tried to maintain what dignity I could as I got into his car. I wasn't very successful - I looked like a half-drowned cat and my boots squeaked.
"This is completely unnecessary," I sagte stiffly.
He didn't answer. He fiddled with the controls, turning the heater up and the Musik down. As he pulled out of the parking lot, I was preparing to give him the silent treatment - my face in full pout mode - but then I recognized the Musik playing, and my curiosity got the best of my intentions.
"Clair de Lune?" I asked surprised.
"You know Debussy?" He sounded surprosed, too.
"Not well," I admitted. "My mother plays a lot of classical Musik around the house - I only know my favorites."
"It's one of my favorites, too." He stared out through the rain, Lost in thought.
I listened to the music, relaxing against the light gray leather seat. It was impossible not to respond to the familiar, soothing melody. The rian blurred everything outside the window into gray and green smudges. I began to realize we were driving very fast; the car moved so steadily, so evenly, though, I didn't feel the speed. Only the town flashing Von gave it away.
"What is your mother like?" he asked me suddenly.
I glanced over to see him studying me with curious eyes.
"She looks a lot like me, but she's prettier," I said. He raised his eyebrows. "I have too much Charlie in me. She's Mehr outgoing than I am, and braver. She's irresponsible and slightly eccentric, and she's a very unpredictable cook. She's my best friend." I stopped. Talking about her was making me depressed.
"How old are you, Bella?" His voice dounded frustrated for some reason I couldn't imagine. He'd stopped the car, and I realized we were at Charlie's house already. The rain was so heavy that I could barely see the house at all. It was like the car was submerged under a river.
"I'm seventeen," I responded, a little confused.
"You don't seem seventeen."
His tone was reproachful; it made me laugh.
"What?" he asked, curious again.
"My mom always says I was born thirty-five years old and that I get Mehr middle-aged every year." I laughed, and then sighed. "Well, someone had to be the adult." I paused for a second. "You don't seem like much of a junior in high school yourself," I noted.
He made a face and changed the subject.
"So why did your mother marry Phil?"
I was surprised he would remember the name; I'd mentioned it just once, almost two months ago. It took me a moment to answer.
"My mother... she's very young for her age. I think Phil makes her feel even younger. At any rate, she's crazy about him." I shook my head. The attraction was a mystery to me.
"Do Du approve?" he asked.
"Does it matter?" I countered. "I want her to be happy... and he is who she wants."
"That's very generous.... I wonder," he mused.
"Would she extend the same courtesy to you, do Du think? No matter who your choice was?" He was suddenly intent, his eyes searching mine.
"I-I think so," I stuttered. "But she's the parent, after all. It's a little bit different."
"No one too scary then," he teased.
I grinned in response. "What do Du mean Von scary? Multiple facial piercings and extensive tattoos?"
"That's one definition, I suppose."
"What's your definition?"
But he ignored my Frage and asked me another. "Do Du think that I could be scary?" He raised one eyebrow, and the faint trace of a smile lightened his face.
I thought for a moment, wondering whether the truth oder a lie would go over better. I decided to go with the truth. "Hmmm... I think Du couuld be, if Du wanted to."
"Are Du fightened of me now?" The smile vanished, and his heavenly face was suddenly serious.
"No." But I answered too quickly. The smile returned.
"So now are Du going to tell me about your family?" I asked to distract him. "It's got to be a much Mehr interesting story than mine."
He was instantly cautious. "What do Du want to know?"
"The Cullens adopted you?" I verified.
I hesitated for a moment. "What happened to your parents?"
"They died many years ago." His tone was matter-of-fact.
"I'm sorry," I mumbled.
"I don't really remember them that clearly. Carlisle and Esme have been my parents for a long time now."
"And Du Liebe them." It wasn't a question. It was obvious in the way he spoke of them.
"Yes." He smiled. "I couldn't imagine two better people."
"You're very lucky."
"I know I am."
"And your brother and sister?"
He glanced at the clock on the dashboard.
"My brother and sister, and Jasper and Rosalie for that matter, are going to be wuite upset if they have to stand in the rain waiting for me."
"Oh, sorry, I guess Du have to go." I didn't want to get out of the car.
"And Du probably want your truck back before chief schwan gets home, so Du don't have to tell him about the Biology incident." He grinned at me.
"I'm sure he's already heard. There are no secrets in Forks." I sighed.
He laughed, and there was an edge to his laughter.
"Have fun at the beach... good weather for sunbathing." He glanced out at the sheeting rain.
"Won't I see Du tomorrow?"
"No. Emmett and I are starting the weekend early."
"What are Du going to do?" A friend could ask that, right? I hoped the disappointment wasn't too apparent in my voice.
"We're going to be hiking in the Goat Rocks Wilderness, just south of Rainier."
I remembered Charlie had sagte the Cullens went camping frequently.
"Oh, well, have fun." I tried to sound enthusiastic. I don't think I fooled him, though. A smile was playing around the edges of his lips.
"Will Du do something for me this weekend?" He turned to look me straight in the face, utilizing the full power of his burning Gold eyes.
I nodded helplessly.
"Don't be offended, but Du seem to be one of those peopl who just aattract accidents lika a magnet. So... try not to fall into the ocean oder get run over oder anything, all right?" He smiled crookedly.
The helplessness had faded as he spoke. I glared at him.
"I'll see what I can do," I snapped as I jumped out into the rain. I slammed the door behind me with excessive force.
He was still amiling as he drove away.
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