"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. I'd already done this lab, and I knew what I was looking for. It should be easy. I snapped the first 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 began 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 on 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 eyepiece 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 fleeting 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.