Mike caught up to us as we walked in the doors, laughing, with ice melting the spikes in his hair. He and Jessica were talking animatedly about the snow fight as we got in line to buy food. I glanced toward that table in the corner out of habit. And then I froze where I stood. There were five people at the table.
Jessica pulled on my arm.
"Hello? Bella? What do you want?"
I looked down; my ears were hot. I had no reason to feel self-conscious, I reminded myself. I hadn't done anything wrong.
"What's with Bella?" Mike asked Jessica.
"Nothing," I answered. "I'll just get a soda today." I caught up to the end of the line.
"Aren't you hungry?" Jessica asked.
"Actually, I feel a little sick," I said, my eyes still on the floor.
I waited for them to get their food, and then followed them to a table, my eyes on my feet.
I sipped my soda slowly, my stomach churning. Twice Mike asked, with unnecessary concern, how I was feeling.
I told him it was nothing, but I was wondering if I should play it up and escape to the nurse's office for the next hour.
Ridiculous. I shouldn't have to run away.
I decided to permit myself one glance at the Cullen family's table. If he was glaring at me, I would skip Biology, like the coward I was.
They were laughing. Edward, Jasper, and Emmett all had their hair entirely saturated with melting snow. Alice and Rosalie were leaning away as Emmett shook his dripping hair toward them. They were enjoying the snowy day, just like everyone else — only they looked more like a scene from a movie than the rest of us.
But, aside from the laughter and playfulness, there was something different, and I couldn't quite pinpoint what that difference was. I examined Edward the most carefully. His skin was less pale, I decided — flushed from the snow fight maybe — the circles under his eyes much less noticeable. But there was something more. I pondered, staring, trying to isolate the change.
"Bella, what are you staring at?" Jessica intruded, her eyes following my stare.
At that precise moment, his eyes flashed over to meet mine.
I dropped my head, letting my hair fall to conceal my face. I was sure, though, in the instant our eyes met, that he didn't look harsh or unfriendly as he had the last time I'd seen him. He looked merely curious again, unsatisfied in some way.
"Edward Cullen is staring at you," Jessica giggled in my ear.
"He doesn't look angry, does he?" I couldn't help asking.
"No," she said, sounding confused by my question. "Should he be?"
"I don't think he likes me," I confided. I still felt queasy. I put my head down on my arm.
"The Cullens don't like anybody…well, they don't notice anybody enough to like them. But he's still staring at you."
"Stop looking at him," I hissed
, but she looked away. I raised my head enough to make sure that she did, contemplating violence if she resisted.
Mike interrupted us then — he was planning an epic battle of the blizzard in the parking lot after school and wanted us to join. Jessica agreed enthusiastically. The way she looked at Mike left little doubt that she would be up for anything he suggested. I kept silent. I would have to hide in the gym until the parking lot cleared.