*by Stephenie Meyer*


Everyone watched us as we walked together to our lab table. I noticed that he no longer angled the chair to sit as far from me as the scrivania, reception would allow. Instead, he sat quite close beside me, our arms almost touching.
Mr. Banner backed into the room then - what superb timing the man had - pulling a tall metal frame on wheels that held a heavy-looking, outdated TV and VCR. A movie giorno - the lift in the class atmosphere was almost tangible.
Mr. Banner shoved the tape into the reluctant VCR and walked to the bacheca to turn off the lights.
And then, as the room went black, I was suddenly hyperaware that Edward was sitting less then an inch from me. I was stunned da the unexpected electricity that flowed through me, amazed that it was possible to be more aware of him than I already was. A crazy impulse to reach over and touch him, to stroke his perfect face just once in the darkness, nearly overwhelmed me. I crossed my arms tightly across my chest, my hands balling into fists. I was losing my mind.
The opening credits began, lighting the room da a token amount. My eyes, of their own accord, flickered to him. I smiled sheepishly as I realized his posture was identical to mine, fists clenched under his arms, right down to the eyes, peering sideways at me. He grinned back, his eyes somehow managing to smolder, even in the dark. I looked away before I could start hyperventilating. It was absolutely ridiculous that I should feel dizzy.
The ora seemed very long. I couldn't concentrate on the movie - I didn't even know what subject it was on. I tried unsuccessfully to relax, but the electric current that seemed to be originating from somewhere in his body never slackened. Occasionally I would permit myself a quick glance in his direction, but he never seemed to relax, either. The overpowering craving to touch him also refused to fade, nad I crushed my fists safely against my ribs until my fingers were aching with the effort.
I breathed a sigh of relief when Mr. Banner flicked the lights back on at the end of class, and stretched my arms out in front of me, flexing my stiff fingers. Edward chuckled beside me.
"Well, that was interesting," he murmured. His voice was dark and his eyes were cautious.
"Umm," was all I was able to respond.
"Shall we?" he asked, rising fluidly.
I almost groaned. Time for Gym. I stood with care, worried my balance might have been affected da the strange new intensity between us.
He walked me to my successivo class in silence and paused at the door; I turned to say goodbye. His face startled me - his expression was torn, almost pained, and so fiercely beautiful that the ache to touch him flared as strong as before. My goodbye stuck in my throat.
He raised his hand, hesitant, conflict raging in his eyes, and then swiftly brushed the length of my cheekbone with his fingertips. His skin was as icy as ever, but the trail his fingers left on my skin was alarmingly warm - like I'd been burned, but didn't feel the pain of it yet.
He turned without a word and strode quickly away from me.
I walked into the gym, lightheaded and wobbly. I drifted to the locker room, changing in a trancelike state, only vaguely aware that there were other people surrounding me. Reality didn't fully set in until I was handed a racket. It wasn't heavy, yet it felt very unsafe in my hand. I could see a few of the other kids in class eyeing me furtively. Coach Clapp ordered us to pair up into teams.
Mercifully, some vestiges of Mike's chivalry still survived; he came to stand beside me.
"Do te want to be a team?"
"Thanks, Mike - te don't have to do this, te know." I grimanced apologetically.
"Don't worry, I'll keep out of your way." He grinned. Sometimes it was so easy to like Mike.
It didn't go smoothly. I somehow managed to hit myself in the head with my racket and clip Mike's shoulder on the same swing. I spent the rest of the ora in the back corner of the court, the racket held safely behind my back. Despite being handicapped da me, Mike was pretty good; he won three games out of four singlehandedly. He gave me an unearned high five when the coach finally blew the whistle ending class.
"So," he detto as we walked off the court.
"So what?"
"You and Cullen, huh?" he asked, his tone rebellious. My precedente feeling of affection disappeared.
"That's none of your business, Mike," I warned, internally cursing Jessica straight to the fiery pit of Hades.
"I don't like it," he murmured anyway.
"You don't have to," I snapped.
"He looks at te like... like you're something to eat," he continued, ignoring me.
I choked back the hysteria that threatened to explode, but a small giggle managed to get out despite my efforts. He glowered at me. I waved and fled to the locker room.
I dressed quickly, something stronger than farfalle battered recklessly against the walls of my stomach, my argument with Mike already a distant memory. I was wondering if Edward would be waiting, o if I should meet him at his car. What if his family was thre? I felt a wave of real terror. Did they know that I knew? Was I supposed to know that they knew that I knew, o not?