"It helps a little if you think of them as people," Alice suggested, her high musical voice too fast for human ears to understand, if any had been close enough to hear. "Her name is Whitney. She has a baby sister she adores. Her mother invited Esme to that garden party, do you remember?"
"I know who she is,"Jasper said curtly. He turned away to stare out one of the small windows that were spaced just under the eaves around the long room. His tone ended the conversation.
He would have to hunt tonight. It was ridiculous to take risks like this, trying to test his strength, to build his endurance. Jasper should just accept his limitations and work within them. His former habits were not conductive to our chosen lifestyle; he shouldn't push himself in this way.
Alice sighed silently and stood, taking her tray of food - her prop, as it were - with her and leaving him alone. She knew when he'd had enough of her encouragement. Though Rosalie and Emmett were more flagrant about their relationship, it was Alice and Jasper who knew each other's every mood as well as their own. As if they could read minds too - only just each other's.
Reflex reaction. I turned to the sound of my name being called, though it wasn't being called, just thought.
My eyes locked for a small portion of a second with a pair of wide, chocolate brown human eyes set in a pale heart - shaped face. I knew the face, though I'd never seen it myself before this moment. It had been foremost in every human head today. The new student, Isabella Swan. Daughter of the town's chief of police, brought to live here by some new custody situation. Bella. She'd corrected everyone who'd used her full name......
I looked away, bored. It took me a second to realize that she'd not been the one to think my name.
Of course she's already crushing on the Cullens, I heard the first thought continue.
Now I recognized the 'voice'. Jessica Stanley - it had been a while since she'd bothered me with her internal chatter. What a relief it had been when she'd gotten over her misplaced infatuation. It used to be nearly impossible to escape her constant, ridiculous daydreams. I'd wished at the time, that I could explain to her exactly what would have happened if my lips, and the teeth behind them, had gotten anywhere near her. That would have silenced those annoying fantasies. The thought of her reaction almost made me smile.
Fat lot of good it will do her, Jessica went on. She's really not even pretty. I don't know why Eric is staring so much.....or Mike.
She winced mentally on the last name. Her new infatuation, the generically popular Mike Newton, was completely oblivious to her. Apparently, he was not as oblivious to the new girl. Like the child with shiny object again. This put a mean edge to Jessica's thoughts, though she was outwardly cordial to the newcomer as she explained the common knowledge about my family. The new student must have asked about us.
Everyone's looking at me today, too, Jessica thought smugly in an aside. Isn't it lucky Bella had two classes with me.....I'll bet Mike will want to ask me what she's -
I tried to block the inane chatter out of my head before the petty and the trivial could drive me mad.
"Jessica Stanley is giving the new Swan girl all the dirty laundry on the Cullen clan," I murmured to Emmett as a distraction.
He chuckled under his breath. I hope she's making it good, he thought.
"Rather unimaginative, actually. Just the barest hint of scandal. Not an ounce of horror. I'm a little disappointed."
And the new girl? Is she disappointed in the gossip as well?
I listened to hear what this new girl, Bella, thought of Jessica's story. What did she see when she looked at the chalky - skinned family that was universally avoided?
It was sort of my responsibility to know her reaction. I acted as a lookout, for lack of a better word, for my family. To protect us. If anyone ever grew suspicious, I could give us early warning and an easy retreat. It happened occasionally - some human with an active imagination would see in us the characters of a book or a movie. Usually they got it wrong, but it was better to move on somewhere new than to risk scrutiny.
Very, very rarely, someone would guess right. We didn't give them a chance to test their hypothesis. We simply disappeared, to become no more than a frightening memory.....
I heard nothing, though I listened close beside where Jessica's frivolous internal monologue continued to gush. It was as if there was no one sitting beside her. How peculiar, had the girl moved? That didn't seem likely, as Jessica was still babbling to her.
I looked up to check, feeling off- balance. Checking on what my extra 'hearing' could tell me - it wasn't something I ever had to do.
Again, my gaze locked on those same wide brown eyes. She was sitting right where she had been before, and looking at us, a natural thing to be doing, I supposed, as Jessica was still regaling her with the local gossip about the Cullens.
Thinking about us, to, would be natural.
But I couldn't hear a whisper.
Inviting warm red stained her cheeks as she looked down, away from the embarrassing gaffe of getting caught staring at a stranger. It was good that Jasper was still gazing out the window. I didn't like to imagine what that easy pooling of blood would do to his control.
The emotions had been as clear as if they were spelled out in words across her forehead: surprise, as she unknowingly absorbed the signs of the subtle differences between her kind and mine, curiosity, as she listened to Jessica's tale, and something more......fascination? It wouldn't be the first time. We were beautiful to them, our intended prey. Then, finally, embarrassment as I caught her staring at me.
And yet, though her thoughts had been so clear in her odd eyes - odd, because of the depth to them; brown eyes often seemed flat in their darkness - I could hear nothing but silence from the place she was sitting. Nothing at all.
I felt a moment of unease.
This was nothing I'd ever encountered before. Was there something wrong with me? I felt exactly the same as I always did. Worried, I listened harder.
All the voices I had been blocking were suddenly shouting in my head.
..........wonder what music she likes........maybe I could mention that new CD....Mike Newton was thinking, two tables away - fixated on Bella Swan.