It was very hard, in the morning, to argue with the part of me that was sure last night was a dream. Logic wasn't on my side, or common sense. I clung to the parts I couldn't have imagined — like his smell. I was sure I could never have dreamed that up on my own.
It was foggy and dark outside my window, absolutely perfect. He had no reason not to be in school today. I dressed in my heavy clothes, remembering I didn't have a jacket. Further proof that my memory was real.
When I got downstairs, Charlie was gone again — I was running later than I'd realized. I swallowed a granola bar in three bites, chased it down with milk straight from the carton, and then hurried out the door. Hopefully the rain would hold off until I could find Jessica.
It was unusually foggy; the air was almost smoky with it. The mist was ice cold where it clung to the exposed skin on my face and neck. I couldn't wait to get the heat going in my truck. It was such a thick fog that I was a few feet down the driveway before I realized there was a car in it: a silver car. My heart thudded, stuttered, and then picked up again in double time.
I didn't see where he came from, but suddenly he was there, pulling the door open for me.
"Do you want to ride with me today?" he asked, amused by my expression as he caught me by surprise yet again. There was uncertainty in his voice. He was really giving me a choice — I was free to refuse, and part of him hoped for that. It was a vain hope.
"Yes, thank you," I said, trying to keep my voice calm. As I stepped into the warm car, I noticed his tan jacket was slung over the headrest of the passenger seat. The door closed behind me, and, sooner than should be possible, he was sitting next to me, starting the car.
"I brought the jacket for you. I didn't want you to get sick or something." His voice was guarded. I noticed that he wore no jacket himself, just a light gray knit V-neck shirt with long sleeves. Again, the fabric clung to his perfectly muscled chest. It was a colossal tribute to his face that it kept my eyes away from his body.
"I'm not quite that delicate," I said, but I pulled the jacket onto my lap, pushing my arms through the too-long sleeves, curious to see if the scent could possibly be as good as I remembered. It was better.
"Aren't you?" he contradicted in a voice so low I wasn't sure if he meant for me to hear.
We drove through the fog-shrouded streets, always too fast, feeling awkward. I was, at least. Last night all the walls were down… almost all.
I didn't know if we were still being as candid today. It left me tongue-tied. I waited for him to speak.
He turned to smirk at me. "What, no twenty questions today?"
"Do my questions bother you?" I asked, relieved.
"Not as much as your reactions do." He looked like he was joking, but I couldn't be sure.
I frowned. "Do I react badly?"
"No, that's the problem. You take everything so coolly — it's unnatural. It makes me wonder what you're really thinking."
"I always tell you what I'm really thinking."
"You edit," he accused.
"Not very much."
"Enough to drive me insane."
"You don't want to hear it," I mumbled, almost whispered. As soon as the words were out, I regretted them. The pain in my voice was very faint; I could only hope he hadn't noticed it.
He didn't respond, and I wondered if I had ruined the mood. His face was unreadable as we drove into the school parking lot. Something occurred to me belatedly.
"Where's the rest of your family?" I asked — more than glad to be alone with him, but remembering that his car was usually full.
"They took Rosalie's car." He shrugged as he parked next to a glossy red convertible with the top up. "Ostentatious, isn't it?"
"Um, wow," I breathed. "If she has that, why does she ride with you?"
"Like I said, it's ostentatious. We try to blend in."
"You don't succeed." I laughed and shook my head as we got out of the car. I wasn't late anymore; his lunatic driving had gotten me to school in plenty of time. "So why did Rosalie drive today if it's more conspicuous?"
"Hadn't you noticed? I'm breaking all the rules now." He met me at the front of the car, staying very close to my side as we walked onto campus. I wanted to close that little distance, to reach out and touch him, but I was afraid he wouldn't like me to.
"Why do you have cars like that at all?" I wondered aloud. "If you're looking for privacy?"
"An indulgence," he admitted with an impish smile. "We all like to drive fast."
"Figures," I muttered under my breath.
Under the shelter of the cafeteria roof's overhang, Jessica was waiting, her eyes about to bug out of their sockets. Over her arm, bless her, was my jacket.
"Hey, Jessica," I said when we were a few feet away. "Thanks for remembering." She handed me my jacket without speaking.
"Good morning, Jessica," Edward said politely. It wasn't really his fault that his voice was so irresistible. Or what his eyes were capable of.
"Er… hi." She shifted her wide eyes to me, trying to gather her jumbled thoughts. "I guess I'll see you in Trig." She gave me a meaningful look, and I suppressed a sigh. What on earth was I going to tell her?
"Yeah, I'll see you then."
She walked away, pausing twice to peek back over her shoulder at us.
"What are you going to tell her?" Edward murmured.
"Hey, I thought you couldn't read my mind!" I hissed.
"I can't," he said, startled. Then understanding brightened his eyes. "However, I can read hers — she'll be waiting to ambush you in class."
I groaned as I pulled off his jacket and handed it to him, replacing it with my own. He folded it over his arm.
"So what are you going to tell her?"
"A little help?" I pleaded. "What does she want to know?"
He shook his head, grinning wickedly. "That's not fair."
"No, you not sharing what you know — now that's not fair."
He deliberated for a moment as we walked. We stopped outside the door to my first class.
"She wants to know if we're secretly dating. And she wants to know how you feel about me," he finally said.
"Yikes. What should I say?" I tried to keep my expression very innocent. People were passing us on their way to class, probably staring, but I was barely aware of them.
"Hmmm." He paused to catch a stray lock of hair that was escaping the twist on my neck and wound it back into place. My heart spluttered hyperactively. "I suppose you could say yes to the first… if you don't mind — it's easier than any other explanation."
"I don't mind," I said in a faint voice.
"And as for her other question… well, I'll be listening to hear the answer to that one myself." One side of his mouth pulled up into my favorite uneven smile. I couldn't catch my breath soon enough to respond to that remark. He turned and walked away.
"I'll see you at lunch," he called over his shoulder. Three people walking in the door stopped to stare at me.
I hurried into class, flushed and irritated. He was such a cheater. Now I was even more worried about what I was going to say to Jessica. I sat in my usual seat, slamming my bag down in aggravation.
"Morning, Bella," Mike said from the seat next to me. I looked up to see an odd, almost resigned look on his face. "How was Port Angeles?"
"It was…" There was no honest way to sum it up. "Great," I finished lamely. "Jessica got a really cute dress."
"Did she say anything about Monday night?" he asked, his eyes brightening. I smiled at the turn the conversation had taken.
"She said she had a really good time," I assured him.
"She did?" he said eagerly.
Mr. Mason called the class to order then, asking us to turn in our papers. English and then Government passed in a blur, while I worried about how to explain things to Jessica and agonized over whether Edward would really be listening to what I said through the medium of Jess's thoughts. How very inconvenient his little talent could be — when it wasn't saving my life.