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Chapter 4 Invitations

    In my dream it was very dark, and what dim light there was seemed to beradiating from Edward's skin. I couldn't see his face, just his back ashe walked away from me, leaving me in the blackness. No matter how fast Iran, I couldn't catch up to him; no matter how loud I called, he neverturned. Troubled, I woke in the middle of the night and couldn't sleepagain for what seemed like a very long time. After that, he was in mydreams nearly every night, but always on the periphery, never withinreach.

  The month that followed the accident was uneasy, tense, and, at first,embarrassing.

  To my dismay, I found myself the center of attention for the rest of thatweek. Tyler Crowley was impossible, following me around, obsessed withmaking amends to me somehow. I tried to convince him what I wanted morethan anything else was for him to forget all about it — especially sincenothing had actually happened to me — but he remained insistent. Hefollowed me between classes and sat at our now-crowded lunch table. Mikeand Eric were even less friendly toward him than they were to each other,which made me worry that I'd gained another unwelcome fan.

  No one seemed concerned about Edward, though I explained over and overthat he was the hero — how he had pulled me out of the way and had nearlybeen crushed, too. I tried to be convincing. Jessica, Mike, Eric, andeveryone else always commented that they hadn't even seen him there tillthe van was pulled away.

  I wondered to myself why no one else had seen him standing so far away,before he was suddenly, impossibly saving my life. With chagrin, Irealized the probable cause — no one else was as aware of Edward as Ialways was. No one else watched him the way I did. How pitiful.

  Edward was never surrounded by crowds of curious bystanders eager for hisfirsthand account. People avoided him as usual. The Cullens and the Halessat at the same table as always, not eating, talking only amongthemselves. None of them, especially Edward, glanced my way anymore.

  When he sat next to me in class, as far from me as the table would allow,he seemed totally unaware of my presence. Only now and then, when hisfists would suddenly ball up — skin stretched even whiter over the bones— did I wonder if he wasn't quite as oblivious as he appeared.

  He wished he hadn't pulled me from the path of Tyler's van — there was noother conclusion I could come to.

  I wanted very much to talk to him, and the day after the accident Itried. The last time I'd seen him, outside the ER, we'd both been sofurious. I still was angry that he wouldn't trust me with the truth, eventhough I was keeping my part of the bargain flawlessly. But he had infact saved my life, no matter how he'd done it. And, overnight, the heatof my anger faded into awed gratitude.

  He was already seated when I got to Biology, looking straight ahead. Isat down, expecting him to turn toward me. He showed no sign that herealized I was there.

  "Hello, Edward," I said pleasantly, to show him I was going to behavemyself.

  He turned his head a fraction toward me without meeting my gaze, noddedonce, and then looked the other way.

  And that was the last contact I'd had with him, though he was there, afoot away from me, every day. I watched him sometimes, unable to stopmyself— from a distance, though, in the cafeteria or parking lot. Iwatched as his golden eyes grew perceptibly darker day by day. But inclass I gave no more notice that he existed than he showed toward me. I was miserable. And the dreams continued.

  Despite my outright lies, the tenor of my e-mails alerted Renée to mydepression, and she called a few times, worried. I tried to convince herit was just the weather that had me down.

  Mike, at least, was pleased by the obvious coolness between me and my labpartner. I could see he'd been worried that Edward's daring rescue mighthave impressed me, and he was relieved that it seemed to have theopposite effect. He grew more confident, sitting on the edge of my tableto talk before Biology class started, ignoring Edward as completely as heignored us.

  The snow washed away for good after that one dangerously icy day. Mikewas disappointed he'd never gotten to stage his snowball fight, butpleased that the beach trip would soon be possible. The rain continuedheavily, though, and the weeks passed.

  Jessica made me aware of another event looming on the horizon — shecalled the first Tuesday of March to ask my permission to invite Mike tothe girls' choice spring dance in two weeks.

  "Are you sure you don't mind… you weren't planning to ask him?" shepersisted when I told her I didn't mind in the least.

  "No, Jess, I'm not going," I assured her. Dancing was glaringly outsidemy range of abilities.

  "It will be really fun." Her attempt to convince me was halfhearted. Isuspected that Jessica enjoyed my inexplicable popularity more than myactual company.

  "You have fun with Mike," I encouraged.

  The next day, I was surprised that Jessica wasn't her usual gushing selfin Trig and Spanish. She was silent as she walked by my side betweenclasses, and I was afraid to ask her why. If Mike had turned her down, Iwas the last person she would want to tell.

  My fears were strengthened during lunch when Jessica sat as far from Mikeas possible, chatting animatedly with Eric. Mike was unusually quiet.

  Mike was still quiet as he walked me to class, the uncomfortable look onhis face a bad sign. But he didn't broach the subject until I was in myseat and he was perched on my desk. As always, I was electrically awareof Edward sitting close enough to touch, as distant as if he were merelyan invention of my imagination.

  "So," Mike said, looking at the floor, "Jessica asked me to the springdance.""That's great." I made my voice bright and enthusiastic. "You'll have alot of fun with Jessica.""Well…" He floundered as he examined my smile, clearly not happy with myresponse. "I told her I had to think about it.""Why would you do that?" I let disapproval color my tone, though I wasrelieved he hadn't given her an absolute no.

  His face was bright red as he looked down again. Pity shook my resolve.

  "I was wondering if… well, if you might be planning to ask me."I paused for a moment, hating the wave of guilt that swept through me.

  But I saw, from the corner of my eye, Edward's head tilt reflexively inmy direction.

  "Mike, I think you should tell her yes," I said.

  "Did you already ask someone?" Did Edward notice how Mike's eyesflickered in his direction?

   "No," I assured him. "I'm not going to the dance at all.""Why not?" Mike demanded.

  I didn't want to get into the safety hazards that dancing presented, so Iquickly made new plans.

  "I'm going to Seattle that Saturday," I explained. I needed to get out oftown anyway — it was suddenly the perfect time to go.

  "Can't you go some other weekend?""Sorry, no," I said. "So you shouldn't make Jess wait any longer — it'srude.""Yeah, you're right," he mumbled, and turned, dejected, to walk back tohis seat. I closed my eyes and pressed my fingers to my temples, tryingto push the guilt and sympathy out of my head. Mr. Banner began talking.

  I sighed and opened my eyes.

  And Edward was staring at me curiously, that same, familiar edge offrustration even more distinct now in his black eyes.

  I stared back, surprised, expecting him to look quickly away. But insteadhe continued to gaze with probing intensity into my eyes. There was noquestion of me looking away. My hands started to shake.

  "Mr. Cullen?" the teacher called, seeking the answer to a question that Ihadn't heard.

  "The Krebs Cycle," Edward answered, seeming reluctant as he turned tolook at Mr. Banner.

  I looked down at my book as soon as his eyes released me, trying to findmy place. Cowardly as ever, I shifted my hair over my right shoulder tohide my face. I couldn't believe the rush of emotion pulsing through me —just because he'd happened to look at me for the first time in ahalf-dozen weeks. I couldn't allow him to have this level of influenceover me. It was pathetic. More than pathetic, it was unhealthy.

  I tried very hard not to be aware of him for the rest of the hour, and,since that was impossible, at least not to let him know that I was awareof him. When the bell rang at last, I turned my back to him to gather mythings, expecting him to leave immediately as usual.

  "Bella?" His voice shouldn't have been so familiar to me, as if I'd knownthe sound of it all my life rather than for just a few short weeks.

  I turned slowly, unwillingly. I didn't want to feel what I knew I wouldfeel when I looked at his too-perfect face. My expression was wary when Ifinally turned to him; his expression was unreadable. He didn't sayanything.

  "What? Are you speaking to me again?" I finally asked, an unintentionalnote of petulance in my voice.

  His lips twitched, fighting a smile. "No, not really," he admitted.

  I closed my eyes and inhaled slowly through my nose, aware that I wasgritting my teeth. He waited.

  "Then what do you want, Edward?" I asked, keeping my eyes closed; it waseasier to talk to him coherently that way.

  "I'm sorry." He sounded sincere. "I'm being very rude, I know. But it'sbetter this way, really."I opened my eyes. His face was very serious.

  "I don't know what you mean," I said, my voice guarded.

   "It's better if we're not friends," he explained. "Trust me."My eyes narrowed. I'd heard that before.

  "It's too bad you didn't figure that out earlier," I hissed through myteeth. "You could have saved yourself all this regret.""Regret?" The word, and my tone, obviously caught him off guard. "Regretfor what?""For not just letting that stupid van squish me."He was astonished. He stared at me in disbelief.

  When he finally spoke, he almost sounded mad. "You think I regret savingyour life?""I know you do," I snapped.

  "You don't know anything." He was definitely mad.

  I turned my head sharply away from him, clenching my jaw against all thewild accusations I wanted to hurl at him. I gathered my books together,then stood and walked to the door. I meant to sweep dramatically out ofthe room, but of course I caught the toe of my boot on the door jamb anddropped my books. I stood there for a moment, thinking about leavingthem. Then I sighed and bent to pick them up. He was there; he'd alreadystacked them into a pile. He handed them to me, his face hard.

  "Thank you," I said icily.

  His eyes narrowed.

  "You're welcome," he retorted.

  I straightened up swiftly, turned away from him again, and stalked off toGym without looking back.

  Gym was brutal. We'd moved on to basketball. My team never passed me theball, so that was good, but I fell down a lot. Sometimes I took peoplewith me. Today I was worse than usual because my head was so filled withEdward. I tried to concentrate on my feet, but he kept creeping back intomy thoughts just when I really needed my balance.

  It was a relief, as always, to leave. I almost ran to the truck; therewere just so many people I wanted to avoid. The truck had suffered onlyminimal damage in the accident. I'd had to replace the taillights, and ifI'd had a real paint job, I would have touched that up. Tyler's parentshad to sell their van for parts.

  I almost had a stroke when I rounded the corner and saw a tall, darkfigure leaning against the side of my truck. Then I realized it was justEric. I started walking again.

  "Hey, Eric," I called.

  "Hi, Bella.""What's up?" I said as I was unlocking the door. I wasn't payingattention to the uncomfortable edge in his voice, so his next words tookme by surprise.

  "Uh, I was just wondering… if you would go to the spring dance with me?"His voice broke on the last word.

  "I thought it was girls' choice," I said, too startled to be diplomatic.

  "Well, yeah," he admitted, shamefaced.

  I recovered my composure and tried to make my smile warm. "Thank you forasking me, but I'm going to be in Seattle that day." "Oh," he said. "Well, maybe next time.""Sure," I agreed, and then bit my lip. I wouldn't want him to take thattoo literally.

  He slouched off, back toward the school. I heard a low chuckle.

  Edward was walking past the front of my truck, looking straight forward,his lips pressed together. I yanked the door open and jumped inside,slamming it loudly behind me. I revved the engine deafeningly andreversed out into the aisle. Edward was in his car already, two spacesdown, sliding out smoothly in front of me, cutting me off. He stoppedthere — to wait for his family; I could see the four of them walking thisway, but still by the cafeteria. I considered taking out the rear of hisshiny Volvo, but there were too many witnesses. I looked in my rearviewmirror. A line was beginning to form. Directly behind me, Tyler Crowleywas in his recently acquired used Sentra, waving. I was too aggravated toacknowledge him.

  While I was sitting there, looking everywhere but at the car in front ofme, I heard a knock on my passenger side window. I looked over; it wasTyler. I glanced back in my rearview mirror, confused. His car was stillrunning, the door left open. I leaned across the cab to crank the windowdown. It was stiff. I got it halfway down, then gave up.

  "I'm sorry, Tyler, I'm stuck behind Cullen." I was annoyed — obviouslythe holdup wasn't my fault.

  "Oh, I know — I just wanted to ask you something while we're trappedhere." He grinned.

  This could not be happening.

  "Will you ask me to the spring dance?" he continued.

  "I'm not going to be in town, Tyler." My voice sounded a little sharp. Ihad to remember it wasn't his fault that Mike and Eric had already usedup my quota of patience for the day.

  "Yeah, Mike said that," he admitted.

  "Then why —"He shrugged. "I was hoping you were just letting him down easy."Okay, it was completely his fault.

  "Sorry, Tyler," I said, working to hide my irritation. "I really am goingout of town.""That's cool. We still have prom."And before I could respond, he was walking back to his car. I could feelthe shock on my face. I looked forward to see Alice, Rosalie, Emmett, andJasper all sliding into the Volvo. In his rearview mirror, Edward's eyeswere on me. He was unquestionably shaking with laughter, as if he'd heardevery word Tyler had said. My foot itched toward the gas pedal… onelittle bump wouldn't hurt any of them, just that glossy silver paint job.

  I revved the engine.

  But they were all in, and Edward was speeding away. I drove home slowly,carefully, muttering to myself the whole way.

  When I got home, I decided to make chicken enchiladas for dinner. It wasa long process, and it would keep me busy. While I was simmering theonions and chilies, the phone rang. I was almost afraid to answer it, butit might be Charlie or my mom.

  It was Jessica, and she was jubilant; Mike had caught her after school toaccept her invitation. I celebrated with her briefly while I stirred. Shehad to go, she wanted to call Angela and Lauren to tell them. I suggested— with casual innocence — that maybe Angela, the shy girl who had Biology with me, could ask Eric. And Lauren, a standoffish girl who had alwaysignored me at the lunch table, could ask Tyler; I'd heard he was stillavailable. Jess thought that was a great idea. Now that she was sure ofMike, she actually sounded sincere when she said she wished I would go tothe dance. I gave her my Seattle excuse.

  After I hung up, I tried to concentrate on dinner — dicing the chickenespecially; I didn't want to take another trip to the emergency room. Butmy head was spinning, trying to analyze every word Edward had spokentoday. What did he mean, it was better if we weren't friends?

  My stomach twisted as I realized what he must have meant. He must see howabsorbed I was by him; he must not want to lead me on… so we couldn'teven be friends… because he wasn't interested in me at all.

  Of course he wasn't interested in me, I thought angrily, my eyes stinging— a delayed reaction to the onions. I wasn't interesting. And he was.

  Interesting… and brilliant… and mysterious… and perfect… and beautiful…and possibly able to lift full-sized vans with one hand.

  Well, that was fine. I could leave him alone. I would leave him alone. Iwould get through my self-imposed sentence here in purgatory, and thenhopefully some school in the Southwest, or possibly Hawaii, would offerme a scholarship. I focused my thoughts on sunny beaches and palm treesas I finished the enchiladas and put them in the oven.

  Charlie seemed suspicious when he came home and smelled the greenpeppers. I couldn't blame him — the closest edible Mexican food wasprobably in southern California. But he was a cop, even if just asmall-town cop, so he was brave enough to take the first bite. He seemedto like it. It was fun to watch as he slowly began trusting me in thekitchen.

  "Dad?" I asked when he was almost done.

  "Yeah, Bella?""Um, I just wanted to let you know that I'm going to Seattle for the daya week from Saturday… if that's okay?" I didn't want to ask permission —it set a bad precedent — but I felt rude, so I tacked it on at the end.

  "Why?" He sounded surprised, as if he were unable to imagine somethingthat Forks couldn't offer.

  "Well, I wanted to get few books — the library here is pretty limited —and maybe look at some clothes." I had more money than I was used tohaving, since, thanks to Charlie, I hadn't had to pay for a car. Not thatthe truck didn't cost me quite a bit in the gas department.

  "That truck probably doesn't get very good gas mileage," he said, echoingmy thoughts.

  "I know, I'll stop in Montesano and Olympia — and Tacoma if I have to.""Are you going all by yourself?" he asked, and I couldn't tell if he wassuspicious I had a secret boyfriend or just worried about car trouble.

  "Yes.""Seattle is a big city — you could get lost," he fretted.

  "Dad, Phoenix is five times the size of Seattle — and I can read a map,don't worry about it.""Do you want me to come with you?"I tried to be crafty as I hid my horror.

  "That's all right, Dad, I'll probably just be in dressing rooms all day —very boring.""Oh, okay." The thought of sitting in women's clothing stores for any period of time immediately put him off.

  "Thanks." I smiled at him.

  "Will you be back in time for the dance?"Grrr. Only in a town this small would a father know when the high schooldances were.

  "No — I don't dance, Dad." He, of all people, should understand that — Ididn't get my balance problems from my mother.

  He did understand. "Oh, that's right," he realized.

  The next morning, when I pulled into the parking lot, I deliberatelyparked as far as possible from the silver Volvo. I didn't want to putmyself in the path of too much temptation and end up owing him a new car.

  Getting out of the cab, I fumbled with my key and it fell into a puddleat my feet. As I bent to get it, a white hand flashed out and grabbed itbefore I could. I jerked upright. Edward Cullen was right next to me,leaning casually against my truck.

  "How do you do that?" I asked in amazed irritation.

  "Do what?" He held my key out as he spoke. As I reached for it, hedropped it into my palm.

  "Appear out of thin air.""Bella, it's not my fault if you are exceptionally unobservant." Hisvoice was quiet as usual — velvet, muted.

  I scowled at his perfect face. His eyes were light again today, a deep,golden honey color. Then I had to look down, to reassemble my now-tangledthoughts.

  "Why the traffic jam last night?" I demanded, still looking away. "Ithought you were supposed to be pretending I don't exist, not irritatingme to death.""That was for Tyler's sake, not mine. I had to give him his chance." Hesnickered.

  "You…" I gasped. I couldn't think of a bad enough word. It felt like theheat of my anger should physically burn him, but he only seemed moreamused.

  "And I'm not pretending you don't exist," he continued.

  "So you are trying to irritate me to death? Since Tyler's van didn't dothe job?"Anger flashed in his tawny eyes. His lips pressed into a hard line, allsigns of humor gone.

  "Bella, you are utterly absurd," he said, his low voice cold.

  My palms tingled — I wanted so badly to hit something. I was surprised atmyself. I was usually a nonviolent person. I turned my back and startedto walk away.

  "Wait," he called. I kept walking, sloshing angrily through the rain. Buthe was next to me, easily keeping pace.

  "I'm sorry, that was rude," he said as we walked. I ignored him. "I'm notsaying it isn't true," he continued, "but it was rude to say it, anyway.""Why won't you leave me alone?" I grumbled.

  "I wanted to ask you something, but you sidetracked me," he chuckled. Heseemed to have recovered his good humor.

   "Do you have a multiple personality disorder?" I asked severely.

  "You're doing it again."I sighed. "Fine then. What do you want to ask?""I was wondering if, a week from Saturday — you know, the day of thespring dance —""Are you trying to be funny?" I interrupted him, wheeling toward him. Myface got drenched as I looked up at his expression.

  His eyes were wickedly amused. "Will you please allow me to finish?"I bit my lip and clasped my hands together, interlocking my fingers, so Icouldn't do anything rash.

  "I heard you say you were going to Seattle that day, and I was wonderingif you wanted a ride."That was unexpected.

  "What?" I wasn't sure what he was getting at.

  "Do you want a ride to Seattle?""With who?" I asked, mystified.

  "Myself, obviously." He enunciated every syllable, as if he were talkingto someone mentally handicapped.

  I was still stunned. "Why?""Well, I was planning to go to Seattle in the next few weeks, and, to behonest, I'm not sure if your truck can make it.""My truck works just fine, thank you very much for your concern." Istarted to walk again, but I was too surprised to maintain the same levelof anger.

  "But can your truck make it there on one tank of gas?" He matched my paceagain.

  "I don't see how that is any of your business." Stupid, shiny Volvo owner.

  "The wasting of finite resources is everyone's business.""Honestly, Edward." I felt a thrill go through me as I said his name, andI hated it. "I can't keep up with you. I thought you didn't want to be myfriend.""I said it would be better if we weren't friends, not that I didn't wantto be.""Oh, thanks, now that's all cleared up." Heavy sarcasm. I realized I hadstopped walking again. We were under the shelter of the cafeteria roofnow, so I could more easily look at his face. Which certainly didn't helpmy clarity of thought.

  "It would be more… prudent for you not to be my friend," he explained.

  "But I'm tired of trying to stay away from you, Bella."His eyes were gloriously intense as he uttered that last sentence, hisvoice smoldering. I couldn't remember how to breathe.

  "Will you go with me to Seattle?" he asked, still intense.

  I couldn't speak yet, so I just nodded.

  He smiled briefly, and then his face became serious.

  "You really should stay away from me," he warned. "I'll see you in class." He turned abruptly and walked back the way we'd come.

第四章 邀约

在我的梦境里,四下里很暗,仅有的微弱的光芒似乎是从爱德华的肌肤上散发出来的。我看不见他的脸,只能看见他的背影。他正在离我而去,把我留在黑暗中。不管我跑得多快,我都追不上他。不管我喊得多响,他都没有回头。我心绪不宁地在半夜醒来,直到过了很久才能再次睡着。从那以后,他几乎每天晚上都出现在我梦里,但总是离我远远地,在我无法触及的地方。

那场事故之后的一个月,充满了紧张和不安,而最初那几天,还让人发窘。

那一周余下的几天里,我沮丧地发现,自己成为了众人注意的焦点。泰勒?克劳利简直让人无法容忍,无论我上哪里去他都跟着我,喋喋不休地说着要设法补偿我。我试图让他明白,我什么都不需要,只想让他把这一切忘掉——尤其在我没有受到任何伤害的前提下——但他仍然固执己见。每节课下课后他都跟在我后面,午餐时还坐到了我们现在极其拥挤的桌子旁。迈克和埃里克对他很不友好,甚至超过了对彼此的敌意。这让我很是苦恼:我又多了一个不受欢迎的仰慕者。

似乎没人想去关心一下爱德华,尽管我一次又一次地解释说他是我的救命恩人——他怎样把我拉到一旁,差点也被撞上了。我努力想要说服大家。但杰西卡,迈克,埃里克,和别人一样,都说在货车被拉开以前根本没有看到爱德华在那里。

我问我自己,为什么根本没人注意到,在他突然地、几乎不可能地把我救下来以前,他站在那么远的地方。我懊恼地意识到了问题所在——没有人像我那样,总在注意着爱德华。除了我,没有任何人会那样地注视着他。多么可悲的发现。

爱德华从不曾被一群好奇的旁观者围着,渴望着听他描述他的第一手消息。人们像往常一样躲着他。卡伦兄妹和黑尔双胞胎总是坐在同一张桌子旁,什么也不吃,只跟自己人说话。他们,尤其是爱德华,再也不曾看我一眼。

课堂上,当他坐在我旁边时,总是坐到桌子所能容许的离我最远的地方,似乎完全没有注意到我的存在。只有在他的拳头时不时地收紧——绷紧的肌肤几乎要比骨头还白——的时候,我才会怀疑他是不是真的像他表现的那样健忘。

他正巴不得当初没有把我从泰勒的车轮下拉开——我不作他想。

我很想跟他说话,而在事故发生后的第二天我尝试过了。上一次我在急诊室外见到他的时候,我们的反应都太激烈了。我还是很生气,因为他始终不肯信任我,不肯把真相告诉我,尽管我无可挑剔地单方面遵守了协议。但他确实救了我的命,不管他是怎么做到的。所以,经过一夜之后,我的满腔怒火终于消失殆尽,化为了由衷的感激之情。

当我走进生物教室时,他已经坐到了座位上,直直地看着前方。我坐下来,希望他转向我。但他没有流露出半点意识到我在场的迹象。

“你好,爱德华。”我和颜悦色地说道,向他表面我正在自我检讨。

他略微侧过脸来,看也不看我,只是点了点头,然后看向别处。

这就是我最后一次和他接触的全部内容。虽然,每一天,他都在那里,离我只有一英尺的距离。有时侯我会看着他,完全没办法让自己停下来——但只是远远地看着他,在自助餐厅里,或是在停车场上。我看着他,发觉他金色的双眸明显变黑了,每一天都在变得更黑。但在课堂上,我对他的注意,不会比他对我表现出来的更多。我陷入了极其悲惨的境地。而那个梦仍在继续。

虽然我一直在说谎,但我的电子邮件的内容还是让蕾妮察觉到了我的消沉。她时不时给我打电话,担心着我。我试图让她相信我的情绪低落完全是由天气造成的。

至少,迈克对我和我的实验小组搭档之间的冷战感到很高兴。我看得出,他本来还在担心爱德华英雄救美的举动会让我对他产生好感,现在他很宽慰地看到这件事似乎适得其反。他变得更有信心了,总是坐在我的桌旁和我聊天直到生物课开始为止,完全无视爱德华的存在,就像他无视我们一样。

在那个危险的冰雪天之后,积雪被雨水永远地冲走了。迈克很失望,他还没来得及开展他的雪球大战呢。但海滩之旅很快就要到了,这一点让他略感安慰。尽管,一周周过去了,大雨仍在继续。

杰西卡让我了解到了另一件日益逼近的大事。三月里的第一个周二,她打电话给我,希望能得到我的许可,去邀请迈克和她一起参加两周后的春季女生择伴舞会。
“你真的不介意?……你不打算邀请他吗?”当我告诉她我一点都不介意时,她固执地追问。

“不,杰西,我不会去的。”我向她保证。跳舞显然超出了我的能力范围。

“舞会是很有意思的。”她半心半意地试图说服我。我有时觉得,杰西卡跟我做朋友更多是因为我莫名其妙的超高人气,而不是真的喜欢和我待在一起。

“祝你跟迈克过得愉快。”我鼓励她。

第二天的三角函数课和西班牙语课上,我惊讶地发现杰西卡不像往常一样滔滔不绝地自说自话了。课间我们一起走的时候,她一直沉默着。我实在不敢问她为什么。如果迈克拒绝了她的邀约,我一定是她最不想告诉的人。

午餐的时候,我更加担心起来,因为杰西卡坐得离迈克远远的,和埃里克聊得很起劲。迈克显得异常地安静。

迈克陪我向教室走去,一路上继续沉默着,他脸上不自在的表情是个坏兆头。但他始终没有提出这个话题,直到我坐到座位上,他靠在我桌子上为止。和往常一样,我像被电了一下,意识到爱德华虽然坐得在触手可及的地方,却如此遥远,仿佛他只是我虚构出来的一个梦。

“那个,”迈克看着地板,说道。“杰西卡邀请我和她一起参加春季舞会。”

“好极了。”我让自己的声音显得明朗又热情。“你跟杰西卡一起会过得很愉快的。”

“嗯……”他审视着我的微笑,挣扎着,显然对我的反应很不高兴。“我告诉她我要想一下。”

“为什么你要这样做?”我让自己的语气带上一点失望的色彩,虽然我感到很宽慰,幸亏他没有一口回绝她。

他又一次低下头,一脸的坦然。(bright?不可能是高兴吧?)内疚让我的决心有点动摇了。

“我还以为也许……嗯,也许你会邀请我的。”

我停顿了片刻,厌恶着在心底翻滚着的内疚之情。但从眼角的余光,我看到了,爱德华好像条件反射一样,向我这边侧过头来。

“迈克,我想你应该接受她的邀约。”我说。

“你已经邀请别人了吗?”爱德华有没有注意到,迈克的眼睛飞快地掠过他的方向呢?

“没有。”我向他保证。“我根本没打算去舞会。”

“为什么不去?”迈克诘问道。

我不想冒着生命危险到舞会上去,试探我的运气。于是,我迅速想出了一个新的计划。

“那个周六我要去西雅图。”我解释道。反正我需要去镇外透透气——那个周六忽然成为了出发的最佳时刻。

“你不能找别的周末去吗?”

“抱歉,不能。”我说。“所以,你也别让杰西再等了——这太没礼貌了。”

“是啊,你说的没错。”他喃喃地说着,沮丧地转过身,回到他的座位上去。我闭上眼睛,用手指按住太阳穴,试图把内疚和同情逼出我的脑海。班纳老师开始讲课了。我叹了口气,睁开双眼。

爱德华正好奇地盯着我,他的黑眼睛里闪烁着和上次一样的,熟悉的挫败感,这种感觉甚至比上一次还要明显。

我很惊讶,但还是盯回去,希望他能快点移开视线。但他却一直凝视着我的眼睛,眼神直接而深邃。毫无疑问,只能是我移开目光了。我的手开始颤抖。

“卡伦先生?”老师点了他的名字,要他回答某个我根本没听到的问题。

“三羧酸循环。”爱德华回过头去看着班纳老师,很不耐烦地答道。

他的眼睛刚放开我,我立刻低下头看着我的课本,试图找到老师正在讲的地方。我甚至怯懦到把头发拢到右肩上垂下来,挡住我的脸。我简直不敢相信,我的全身居然都被涌起的一股激动之情给席卷了——仅仅因为这是在隔了一周半以后第一次,他碰巧看了看我。我不能容忍他这样左右我的情绪。这太可悲了。比可悲更甚的是,这有害于我的健康。

那堂课剩下的时间里,我竭力不让自己去注意他。虽然,这不太可能,至少不能让他知道我在注意他。当铃声响起时,我转身背对着他,开始收拾东西,希望他能像平常一样立刻离开。

“贝拉?”我不应该这样熟悉他的声音的。就好像他的声音我已经听了整整一辈子,而不是只有短短的几个星期。 
 我很不情愿地,慢慢转过身去。我不想体验那种感受,那种我早就知道的,当我凝视着他太过俊美的面庞时,我所感觉到的一切。当我看向他的时候,脸上写满了警惕。他的表情有些难以琢磨。他什么也没说。

“怎么了?你又开始跟我说话了?”我最终还是开口问道。我的声音里充满了火药味,虽然我不是故意的。

他的嘴唇抽动了一下,用微笑来反击我。“不,确切的说,不是。”他承认道。

我闭上眼睛,用鼻子缓缓地吸了一口气,注意到自己正在咬牙切齿。他在等着。

“那你想干嘛,爱德华?”我问道,依然闭着眼睛。这样跟他说话能说得更有条理些。

“对不起。”他的声音很诚恳。“我知道,我太粗鲁了。但这样会更好,真的。”

我睁开双眼。他的神情很严肃。

“我不明白你什么意思。”我说道,声音里充满了警惕。

“如果我们不是朋友,会更好些。”他解释道。“相信我。”

我眯缝起眼睛。我之前听过这样的话。

“真遗憾,你没有更早地想到这一点。”我从牙缝里挤出这句话。“你本来可以把自己从这种后悔中拯救出来的。”

“后悔?”这个字眼,还有我的语气,显然让他失去了警惕心。“后悔什么?”

“后悔没让那辆愚蠢的货车从我身上碾过去。”

他被震住了。他难以置信地看着我。

等到他终于可以开口说话时,他的声音听起来快要抓狂了:“你认为我后悔救了你的命?”

“我知道你是这样想的。”我嚷道。

“你什么也不知道。”他显然已经抓狂了。
我干脆地扭过头去,紧紧地闭着嘴,以免失控地喊出我想要扔到他头上的所有责难。我把书叠成一摞,然后站起来向门口走去。我想要气势汹汹地冲出门外,但是,当然,我的靴子绊到了门框,怀里的书散落一地。我站了一会儿,想让它们就这样在地上躺着算了。最终,我叹了口气,弯下身子想把它们捡起来。他蹲在那里,已经把书都堆成一堆了。然后他把书递给我,脸上冷冰冰的。

“谢谢。”我冷淡地说。

他眯缝起眼晴。

“不客气。”他回敬道。

我随即直起身子,再次转身离开他,头也不回地昂首阔步向体育馆走去。

体育课太残忍了。我们开始学篮球了。我的队友从不把球传给我,这点很不错,但我老是摔倒。有时候我还会连累别人跟我一起倒下去。今天我的状态比平时更糟,因为我脑子里全是爱德华的身影。我想要把注意力集中在脚上,但他总在我需要保持平衡的时候闯进我的思绪里。

像往常一样,放学是件让人宽慰的事。我几乎一路跑着向我的卡车冲去:这里有太多我想要逃避的人。在这场事故里,我的卡车所受的伤害微乎其微。我只需要把尾灯给换掉,就算我确实有一些喷漆的工作要做,我也已经搞定了。泰勒的爸妈只能把他们那辆货车当废品给卖掉了。

当我转过拐角,看到一个高大的、黝黑的身影靠在我的卡车上时,我差点吓得心跳停拍。然后我意识到那只是埃里克。我继续走过去。

“嗨,埃里克。”我招呼道。

“嗨,贝拉。”

“怎么了?”我一边打开车锁,一边问道。我没有注意到他的声音有些古怪,所以他接下来说出的话让我大吃一惊。

“嗯,我只是在想……你愿不愿意和我一起去春季舞会?”他的声音在最后一个字上戛然而止。

“我想,那是一场女生择伴舞会,对吧。”我说道,因为太吃惊而没法说得更圆滑些。

“嗯,是的。”他羞愧地承认。

我恢复了镇静,试图笑得更温和些。“谢谢你邀请我,但我那天要去西雅图。”

“哦,”他说。“那好吧,也许下次吧。”

“好的。”我赞同道,然后咬住唇。我不想让他按字面上的意思来理解我的话。

他无精打采地走开,向学校里走去。我听到一阵低低的嗤笑。
爱德华正从我的车前走过,眼睛直视着前方,他的嘴唇又紧紧地闭在了一起。我猛地拉开车门,跳进车里,然后重重地把身后的门关上。我发动引擎,发出震耳欲聋的轰鸣声,然后把车倒出车道。在离我两个停车位远的地方,爱德华已经坐在车里了。他把车平稳地开到我的车前,挡住了我的去路。他停在那里——等他的家人。我可以看到他们四个还在路上走着,才走到自助餐厅那里。我真想一踩油门直接撞到他那辆银光闪闪的沃尔沃上,但这里有太多目击者了。我看向后视镜,在我的车后,一长排车龙正在形成。我后面的第一辆车,是泰勒刚弄到的二手森特拉,他正坐在车里向我挥手。我正在气头上,没空跟他打招呼。

当我坐在车里东张西望,就是不看我前面那辆车的时候,我听到有人在敲乘客座的窗户。我看过去,是泰勒。我困惑地看了一眼后视镜。他的车没熄火,左侧的车门开着。我把身子侧到驾驶室的另一边,把窗子摇下来。窗子卡死了。我吃力地把它摇下一半,然后放弃了。

“对不起,泰勒,我被堵在了卡伦后面。”我很生气——很显然,塞车不是我的错。

“哦,我知道——我只是想趁我们被困在这里的时候向你问件事。”他咧嘴一笑。

这一切不该发生的。

“你愿意邀请我去春季舞会吗?”他继续说道。

“我那时不在镇里,泰勒。”我的声音听起来有些尖锐。我不得不记住这不是他的错,但迈克和埃里克已经把我今天的份额的耐心都给耗光了。

“是的,迈克说过了。”他承认道。

“那为什么——”

他耸耸肩。“我以为那只是你用来让他不那么失望的借口。”

很好,这全是他的错。

“对不起,泰勒。”我说道,竭力抑制住自己的怒火。“我真的要去镇外面。”

“没关系。我们还有正式舞会。”

在我能作出回应以前,他已经走回他的车那里了。我可以感受到我脸上的震惊。我向前看,发现爱丽丝,罗莎莉,艾美特和贾斯帕已经坐进那辆沃尔沃里了。在那辆车的后视镜里,爱德华正注视着我。毫无疑问,他正笑得浑身颤抖,就好像他听见了泰勒说的每个字。我的脚渴望地向油门伸去……一次小小的撞击不会让他们中的任何人受伤的,只意味着要给那辆银光闪闪的沃尔沃平整喷漆而已。我发动了引擎。

但一等他们都坐进车里,爱德华就加速把车开走了。我只能慢吞吞地,小心翼翼地把车开回家,一路上不停地低声向自己咒骂着。
当我到家的时候,我决定晚餐做鸡肉馅玉米卷饼。这要花不少时间,能让我一直忙个不停。当我把洋葱和红辣椒小火煨成酱汁时,电话响起来。我不敢接电话,但这可能是查理或者我妈打来的。

电话是杰西卡打来的,她正兴高采烈着:放学后查理截住她,答应了她的邀请。我一边搅拌锅里的酱汁,一边简短地祝贺了她几句。她要挂电话了,她还得给安吉拉和劳伦打电话,把这个好消息告诉她们。我佯装着毫不知情的样子建议道,那个和我一起上生物课的安静的安吉拉可以去邀请埃里克,而劳伦——那个总在午餐餐桌上无视我的冷淡的女孩——可以去问问泰勒,我听说他还没约人。杰西觉得这是个不错的主意。既然她已经确定要和迈克一起去了,她说她真的希望我能去舞会时,声音听起来真诚多了。我照例用要去西雅图的借口打发了她。

等我挂了电话,我开始努力集中注意力准备晚餐——尤其是把鸡肉切丁的时候。我可不想再来一次急诊室之旅了。但我的脑子里还是乱哄哄的,试图分析今天爱德华说的每一个字。“我们最好别做朋友”,他这样说是什么意思?

当我意识到他在暗示什么的时候,我的胃一阵抽搐。他肯定是看出来,我被他深深地吸引了。他不想欺骗我的感情……所以我们最好连朋友都不要做……因为他对我一点兴趣都没有。

当然,他不会对我有任何兴趣,我气愤地想着。我的眼睛一阵刺痛——只是来得稍晚的,对洋葱的反应。我确实很乏味。但他不是。有趣……有才气……神秘……完美……英俊……或许还能单手举起标准型号的货车。

好,很好。我可以不打扰他。我根本不想打扰他。我会在这里把我给自己判处的有期徒刑服完,然后兴许西南的某所大学,也许是夏威夷大学,会给我提供一份奖学金。当我把鸡肉馅玉米卷饼做完,放到锅里的时候,我竭力想着阳光灿烂的海滩和棕榈树。

当查理回到家,闻到青椒的味道时,他似乎有点疑惑。我不会责怪他的——离这里最近的能吃到墨西哥菜的餐厅很可能在南加利福尼亚。但他是个cop,就算只是个小镇cop,他也有足够的勇气去咬下第一口。他似乎挺喜欢这个味道。看着他渐渐地开始信任我的厨艺是件有趣的事。

“爸爸?”当他快吃完的时候我问道。

“怎么了,贝拉?”

“嗯,我只是想让你知道,下周六我想去趟西雅图……如果可以的话?”我本来不打算请求他的准许——这会开一个不好的先河——但我觉得这样有点不礼貌,所以最后我又找补了一句。

“为什么?”他似乎很吃惊,就像是他不能想象有什么东西是在福克斯找不到的。

“嗯,我只是去买点书——这里的图书馆库存太有限了——也许再看几件衣服。”我手头的钱多得我都有点不习惯了。多亏了查理,我不必自己花钱买车。不过这辆卡车的油耗可没让我少花钱。

“那辆卡车的油耗可能不太好。”他说着,显然和我想到一块去了。

“我知道,我会在蒙特撒诺和奥林匹亚停下来加油——如果有必要的话,也会在塔克马停一下。”

“你一个人去吗?”他问道。我不知道他是在怀疑我秘密地交了一个男朋友,还是纯粹在担心车的问题。

“是的。”

“西雅图是个大城市——你可能会迷路的。”他有点发愁。

“爸爸,凤凰城是西雅图的五倍大——而且我能看懂地图,别担心。”

“你想跟我一起去吗?”

我尽量巧妙地隐藏起听到这话时油然而生的恐惧。

“没问题,爸爸,不过我可能会在试衣间里耗上一整天——那会很无趣的。”

“哦,那好吧。”一想到要坐在女装店里,不管要坐多久,都足够吓得他打了退堂鼓。

“谢谢。”我冲他笑了笑。

“你会及时赶回来参加舞会吧?”

呃。只有在小镇上,当爸爸的才会知道中学里什么时候举行舞会。

“不——我不跳舞,爸爸。”他应该比任何人都清楚——我难以保持平衡的毛病可不是遗传自我妈。
他确实清楚。“哦,那好吧。”他明白了。

第二天早上,我把车开进停车场时,故意把车停得离那辆银色的沃尔沃远远的。我不想让自己经受不住诱惑,最后落得赔他一辆新车。我刚走出驾驶室,钥匙就从我的指间滑落下来,掉到我脚步的一滩积水里。我弯腰去捡的时候,一只雪白的手忽然伸过来,在我之前把钥匙抓住了。我立刻直起身子。爱德华?卡伦就站在我旁边,若无其事地倚着我的卡车。

“你怎么做到的?”我恼羞成怒地问道。

“做到什么?”他一边说着,一边举起我的钥匙。等我伸手拿的时候,他让钥匙落入我的掌心。

“在稀薄的空气里出现。”(这句绝对出自哈利波特!!!幻影显形!!!)

“贝拉,你心不在焉得过分可不是我的错。”他的声音像往常一样——像天鹅绒一样柔软。

我阴沉着脸,瞪着他完美无瑕的面庞。今天他眼睛的颜色又变浅了,是一种色调偏深的,金黄的蜜色。我不得不低下头,召回自己当下已经陷入混乱的神志。

“昨天晚上的交通堵塞是怎么回事?”我依然看着别处,诘问到。“我想你更可能是假装没注意到我存在,而不是想把我气死。”

“这是为了泰勒,可不是为了我自己。我想给他个机会。”他窃笑着。

“你……”我喘息着,想不到一个足够坏的词。感觉像是我的怒火的烈焰都能把他烤焦了,他还是只觉得很好玩。

“我也没有假装没注意到你的存在。”他继续说道。

“所以你想把我活活气死?只因为泰勒的货车没有做到这一点?”

愤怒从他黄褐色的眼睛里一闪而过。他的嘴唇抿紧成一条坚硬的线条,所有幽默的气氛都不见。

“贝拉,你简直不可理喻。”他说道,低沉的嗓音听起来冷冰冰。

我的掌心一阵刺痛——我迫切地想找个什么东西来好好揍一顿。我对自己的想法很吃惊。我通常是个非vi_olient主义者。我转过身去,大步走开。

“等等。”他叫道。我继续走着,愤怒地踢溅起了不少雨水。可他紧跟在我后面,轻而易举地跟上我的步子。

“我很抱歉,这些话太失礼了。”我们一边走,他一边说道。我无视他。“我不是说这些不是实话。”他继续说道。“但不管怎样,这样说真的太没礼貌了。”

“你为什么不能让我一个人待着?”我喃喃地抱怨道。

“我想问你些事,但你总在转移话题。”他笑起来。他似乎已经恢复了他良好的幽默感。

“你有多重人格吗?”我激烈地问。

“你又来了。”

我叹息道。“那好吧,你想问什么?”

“我只是想知道,下周六——你知道,春季舞会那天——”

“你是在搞笑吗?”我打断他的话,停下来转向他。当我抬头看向他的时候,我的脸都被雨水打湿了。

他的眼睛看上去快乐得有些恶毒。“你愿意让我说完吗?”

我咬住唇,双手紧握在一起,十指相扣,这样我就不致于做出什么鲁莽的事来了。

“我听说你那天要去西雅图。我想知道你愿不愿意搭我的便车。”

这话实在出乎我的意料。

“什么?”我不确定他在指什么。

“你想搭便车去西雅图吗?”

“跟谁去?”我困惑地问。

“很显然,跟我。”他把每个音节都发得很清晰,就好像他在跟某个智障人士对话一样。

我依然沉浸在震惊之中不能自拔。“为什么?”

“嗯,我刚好打算要在这几周去趟西雅图,而且,坦白地说,我不觉得你的卡车能开到西雅图去。”

“我的卡车性能良好,谢谢你的关心。”我继续往前走,但我太吃惊了,没办法维持我的愤怒在原来的水平上。

“可你的车要开到那里,一箱油够用吗?”他继续跟着我的步子。

“我不觉得这跟你有什么关系。”愚蠢的,银光闪闪的沃尔沃车主。

“浪费有限的资源跟每个人都有关系。”

“老实说,爱德华。”当我说到他的名字时,我感到一阵颤栗传遍了我的全身。我讨厌这样。“我实在跟不上你的思路。我以为你不想和我做朋友。”

“我只是说如果我们不是朋友,会更好些,但并不是说我不想这样。”

“哦,谢谢,现在一切都清楚了。”巨大的讽刺。我发觉自己停了下来。现在我们站在了自助餐厅的屋檐下,所以我可以更容易地看着他的脸。但这显得对我理清思路没有任何帮助。

“如果……如果你不是我的朋友,这样情况会更谨慎些。”他解释道。“但我厌倦了,我不想再费尽心思地把自己从你身边赶走,贝拉。”

他的眼睛闪闪发光,显得非常紧张。当他说完最后一句话时,他的声音仿佛在燃烧。我忘了要怎么呼吸。

“你愿意和我一起去西雅图吗?”他问道,依然有些紧张。

我还说不出话来,所以我只是点了点头。

他淡淡一笑,然后他的脸严肃起来。

“你真的应该离我远远的。”他警告道。“我们上课时见。”

他陡然转过身去,沿着原路走回去。



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