A/N: This is a super long chapter; I wanted to at least get through the first week of classes for Bella.
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I didn't know these things about myself yet, but I sure as hell intended to find out.
My schedule was in my hot little hands, and I was actually excited about classes starting. Normally I would dread being around all those people, but New Bella wanted to make friends. I still had to discover which qualities in friends I really appreciated.
This was the first class of my first day during my first year of college.
So excited that I was finally there, finally doing the "college thing," I don't think I stopped smiling the whole day. Maybe not even the whole week. I had picked up enough clothes to get me through the first week, but I would need to deal with getting some more things during our shopping trip the upcoming weekend.
I was taking four classes, a full load. I noticed him in my first class of the day, coffee cup in hand, looking as if he'd just woken up. This was my Monday, Wednesday, and Friday class that began at 11:00AM, so I was surprised someone would still be so disheveled at that hour. We exchanged smiles as he took a seat in the row in front of me and off to the right.
At the end of the class, I realized that I had done a less than stellar job of paying attention. Shit, already distracted by the boys?
Packing up my things, I was thankful we had just covered the syllabus. When I looked up, I saw him standing in front of my table. Tall, piercing blue eyes, shaggy blond hair with a curl to it. Jeans; nice, designer. Polo shirt, not too formal, not a t-shirt. I drank in his body. He was definitely toned under there. I'd like an up close look, please.
I realized I was staring and he had a smirk on his face.
"I'm sorry, ma'am, do you need me to repeat my question?"
I blushed. Wait, New Bella doesn't blush, I reminded myself.
"I do, actually, I was distracted thinking about a book I was reading last night." Think he'll buy that totally lame excuse?
"Ahh. I see." He let out a small laugh and looked at the floor. "I was wondering if maybe you'd like to get coffee tomorrow?"
I smiled at him, relieved that even if he hadn't bought my excuse, he wasn't going to press the issue.
"I'd love to. I'm Bella, by the way."
We shook hands and made arrangements to meet in a cafe the next day, in between classes – we both had a break around noon.
I decided in the brief span of time between him asking and me responding that New Bella wasn't going to close herself off to new experiences. I made a mental challenge to myself that I was going to accept each and every offer for a date or small social outing that I received for the next five (okay, four and a half, technically) days, unless there was truly a compelling reason to say no. I mean, really, how many could that add up to?
Once I was home, I hung out with Rose and Alice. None of us had homework yet, so we sat around watching TV and gabbing. I made tea for everyone while Alice popped popcorn.
We talked about so many different topics – Rose was a psychology major while Alice was studying studio arts with an emphasis on architecture. After a while, I told them the abbreviated version of what happened to Charlie and Renee. I was surprised when neither appeared to offer pity, but both gave me genuine hugs. I know it sounds corny, but I could already tell the three of us were going to be thick as thieves.
I also told them about my little challenge to myself and they were very amused. Rose said that I was doing a good job of taking care of myself; she actually said she was proud of me and I believed her, even though we didn't know each other very well yet.
At 9:00PM, Supernanny – aka the World's Best Birth Control – came on, and we all watched with bugged out eyes.
Knowing I had two classes the next day, one of them early, I went to my room shortly after that. It felt nice to trust Alice and Rose, to tell them my history and open myself up to hear theirs as well. It made me realize that perhaps I had closed myself off too much over the last few years.
Before I went to sleep, I checked my email. I didn't have any new messages, which surprised me as I was expecting Jake to have written me back by then. I'd written to him when I first setup my new laptop to let him know I had arrived and was safe. After that, I read for a bit; I was trying to branch out from my usual selections of classics by reading something modern – Wicked.
After a few pages, I yawned, set my book on the nightstand, shut the light off, and curled up with my eyes closed. I let out a deep breath and thought of him. Jasper.
The next morning I woke to the annoying beep of my alarm clock. I made a mental note to buy an iHome as soon as I could get a ride off-campus so that I could wake up to something more pleasant.
It was while walking to my 9:00AM American Poetry class that I first saw her. She was walking in the door to the same room, a few paces ahead of me. She passed by and the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. What the fuck?
Her smell was all-encompassing. Floral, sweet, nothing too sickening. Beautiful.
I was confused. Panicked, even. I had never, ever, been attracted to a woman before, but this one... she sparked something.
I sat behind her, still taking in her scent, memorizing the lines of her body. She was taller than I was (probably even without her heels), with long, wavy blonde hair. It wasn't bottle blonde, it was all natural. I couldn't see her face from the angle I was at, and didn't get a good enough look earlier to see the color of her eyes, but the fulness of her lips had imprinted on my brain. She was wearing trouser jeans, a light pink v-neck cashmere sweater, and I could see her polished toes at the front of her peep-toe heels. I'm going to have to rethink heels if this is how they make me look... When she crossed her legs underneath her chair, I could see more detail on the heels and they only made me want her more.
Once class was over, she stood and walked out before I did. I got another look at her; green eyes.
On my way to coffee with Jasper, I tried to run the possibility that I wanted to really get to know my Mystery Girl through my head. Was I attracted to girls? Could I kiss one? Would I be okay having sex with a woman?
I shook my head to try and clear it. It wasn't even worth thinking about; she clearly hadn't acknowledged my existence, so it didn't matter.
Jasper was already waiting when I got to the cafe, mile-wide smile beaming for me.
"I'm sorry I'm a few minutes late, I was held up at the end of my last class," I apologized.
"No problem, I only got here a minute ago myself. What can I get for you?"
"How about a grande latte and a cinnamon chip scone, please," I said with a smile.
New Bella let people pay for things without protest, I reminded myself when I instinctively reached for my wallet. Sitting down, I waiting for him to join me with our coffees and snacks. He got a mug of drip and a blueberry muffin.
"So, Jasper, what is your major?" I asked.
He laughed. "You waste no time, do you, Bella?"
It was my turn to laugh. "Sorry, was that too forward?"
"Naw, s'fine. I'm majoring in art history."
"Really?" I was surprised, for the second time that day. "I would never have pegged you as an art history major. I would have thought psychology was more your style."
"Are you saying you want to lay on my couch?" he asked with a wink.
I broke off a bite of my scone and let it crumble in my mouth, contemplating my reply. New Bella, New Bella.
My hand rested on his knee as I leaned in a little closer to him.
"Well, that depends on who's on the couch with me, Jasper."
We both leaned back in our chairs, smiling, taking nibbles from our pastries. A few minutes passed before either of us spoke.
"So, Bella, what's your major?" His eyes sparkled as he spoke, and I had to resist the urge to sit in his lap and run my fingers through his hair. It was like suddenly my hormones realized they were no longer on hiatus.
"My major. Well, what do I get if I tell you?" I gave him my biggest smile, looking up at him through my eyelashes.
He reached out and ran his thumb across the top of my cheekbone, coming to rest at the edge of my face. "How about a real date? Saturday night."
I laughed, halfway because of my rule and halfway because there was no chance in hell I was going to turn down a date with the hunk in front of me... but maybe I'd string him along a little, first.
"A date, huh? Who says I want to spend my Saturday night with you?"
It was his chance to make me nervous. He leaned in, removing his hand from my cheek and running it across my lips. Fighting against my brain, I held off the desire to open them and suck his finger into my mouth.
"Oh, darlin', you can play coy all you want, but I saw the look you gave me when we first met in class the other day. You almost scared me off, the way you looked at me like I was a piece of meat, but then I realized it sort of turned me on." Toward the end of his statement, he moved his lips so they were right next to my ear, his hot breath fanning across my neck, words just a whisper.
I closed my eyes as he spoke and took in a deep breath, then opened them quickly when I felt him move away.
"English is my major. Pick me up at seven on Saturday. 106 Russell-Sage. You know where that is?" I rambled out. Standing up, I grabbed my olive green messenger bag, and slung it around my shoulders as I spoke.
"Yep. You running off already?" he asked.
"Sorry, I have another class across campus. I'll see you in class tomorrow though, right?"
"Absolutely. Have a great day." He smiled at me as I walked out the door.
My next class was a basic English course that was likely on everyone's pre-requisite list, so of course the lecture hall was packed.
I didn't want to sit in the very back, but there weren't many seats left. I sat four rows from the back, in between two guys. I sighed, knowing I was this far back, I would need my glasses. Slipping them out of their case in my messenger bag, I put them on and blinked a few times to adjust my eyes.
Turning my head to the left, I looked at the source of the words.
"Man, you have that whole sexy librarian thing down, don't you? You were smokin' before the glasses, but now you're on fire," he said.
Does this guy have no speech filter or what?
"I suppose I do. You should see me when I let my hair down." Winking at him, I quickly went back to looking at my syllabus.
The professor had begun speaking at the front of the room. I saw a note slide into my space from where No Filter Boy was sitting.
I'd love to see you with your hair down. Name the time and place.
Well, damn it if I didn't have rules in place for this sort of thing.
I wrote a note back, saying: I don't even know your name!
I laughed to myself. Shit, I can't break the rule. He was great looking, obviously had a sense of humor, and an adorable pair of dimples.
Emmett, but you can call me baby.
Man, he had balls.
OK, baby, how about coffee after class?
He smiled at me, and I wondered if I'd given in too easily. New Bella, Flirty Bella, Fun Bella.
In that moment, I was so glad it was only the first week. Why couldn't I focus on any of my classes? It had never been like that in Forks; I'd been asked out twice the entire time I lived there, and one of those was Jake. Ironically, the other was Mike. I decided not to even think about what that said about me.
As soon as the prof was done talking at the end of class, Emmett took my hand and led me back to the cafe I'd just been at with Jasper. I didn't see the harm in it – you didn't have to marry every guy you went out with, right? Who knew, he might be my future, my forever. I'd never know unless I gave it a chance and that was the whole idea behind New Bella: giving things a chance.
As soon as we crossed the threshold of the cafe, Emmett asked what I wanted. Since I'd already had one latte that day, I asked him to get me an iced green tea. I finally had a chance to really take in his appearance. He was tall, slightly taller than Jasper, even. Very muscular – too muscular? Short, cropped brown hair. He was wearing a long-sleeved striped shirt and jeans with flip flops. He was casual, comfortable, easy, fun.
He got a hot chocolate and we sat across from each other at a small round table.
"I thought you were going to let your hair down?" he said with a winkof his beautiful blue eyes.
"Oh, I am. Don't you even want to know my name first?"
"After the hair, sexy librarian." He pointed at my head.
Pulling out the clip that had been holding my hair back in a loose bun, I shook my hair lightly as it fell. Emmett bit his knuckles and made a grunting noise. Laughing, I looked at the ground for a moment.
"Alright, I guess I can't go on calling you 'sexy librarian' forever. Don't torture me anymore. What's your name, gorgeous?" As he spoke the last few words, the sincerity of them reached his eyes.
"Bella." Keep it simple, right?
"Mmm, Bella. You certainly live up to that name." He quirked his eyebrow. "Bella, you want to go somewhere more private?"
"Slow down, baby, I don't even know you. We aren't taking this anywhere private just yet." I shook my head with a smile and he laughed.
"Ok, B, ask away. What do you want to know?"
"Alright, E, what's your major?" Deja-vu. Must think of original questions.
"My major is film studies. Next?" He smiled his adorable dimple-laden smile again. I'm nearly a goner already.
"Where are you from?"
"Really? I don't even detect a hint of an accent. How is that?" I was genuinely curious.
"Aw shucks, ma'am." He was letting it all hang out, and I couldn't help but giggle.
"Okay, so you're great at holding your inner hick in..."
"I sure am. How about you, Bella, where are you from?"
"Forks, Washington. Ever heard of it?"
I laughed. "I'm not surprised, most people haven't. Thanks for the iced tea, by the way. I have to run soon, I have some things to get ready before class tomorrow."
"Okay, B, can I see you again? I would really love to get to know you better, I promise next time to try and wait at least 5 minutes before I ask you to come home with me." There was that smile again, those dimples.
"Sure, Em, I have a few other plans this weekend, but I could do lunch on Sunday?"
"Great! Can I pick you up?"
"Yep, 106 Russell-Sage. How about one o'clock? I hate it when guys are late, so be on time, okay?"
I stood up and gave him a quick peck on the cheek.
"See you in class Thursday," I said. He waved and I was out the door.
Crap, how had I managed to setup two dates for the weekend? I never went out. Never. Already, I was enjoying New Bella.
I walked from class back to the dorm – the truth was, I had plenty of time before classes the next day, but I wanted to consult with Rose and Alice about my coffee dates with Jasper and Emmett, as well as the two real dates I had that weekend. I wasn't sure if I wanted to bring up Mystery Girl with them yet. That was new territory for me, so I had no clue how you brought up your hot, lusty female classmate to your girl friends.
I got back to our room and noticed Rose was gone, but Alice was studying at her desk.
"Hey, Ali. How was your second day?"
"Oh, Bella, it was great! I'm so excited and I've already met a few cuties. Speaking of, how was coffee with Jasper?"
"Dreamy, of course." I sighed. "You know what's funny, though? Remember my new rule for myself? I not only had coffee with someone else, but now I have two dates for the weekend. Dinner with Jasper Saturday night, then lunch with Emmett on Sunday. How wild is that?"
She hopped up and began hugging me. I admit, I was a little taken aback by her enthusiasm.
"You know what this means, right, Bella?" She looked at me expectantly.
"Shopping trip! Oh, Rose and I are going to have so much fun with you! What time is dinner with Jasper?"
"Excellent!" she squealed. "We'll have plenty of time to get some shopping done and then get you all ready for your date. Ooh, I'm so excited. Do you know where he's taking you?"
"Not a clue. I actually cut both coffee trips short. I just can't get into my comfort zone with these weird semi-dates yet." I laughed.
"Don't worry, Bella, it's better to leave them wanting more anyways," Alice said.
Rose walked in the door looking like she'd just stepped out of a magazine. Alice ran over to her, giving her all of the details of my day, then they began conspiring to plan my wardrobe, hair, and makeup for the weekend.
We watched a little TV and I was shocked when I realized it was only Tuesday. I felt like I had packed a week of living in already and it had only been two measly days.
Yawning, I made my way to bed, reading a bit more of Wicked before curling up to sleep. That night, I dreamed of Mystery Girl and her luscious lips.
I hit the coffee shop on the way from my early class to the class I had with Jasper, and picked up an extra coffee for him. I saw him walking into the classroom and he held the door for me, smiling as I passed by.
"Good morning," I said, offering him a cup. "I wasn't sure how you take it, so it's got two sugars and a little cream, the way I like it."
"You brought me coffee?" he asked. He looked at me with such a soft, kind expression. "Bella, that's so thoughtful. Thank you."
He was actually blushing as he smiled. I made a guy blush. I smiled back at him and he took the seat to my left.
"So, any hints about where we're going on Saturday?" I asked.
"I was thinking the usual, dinner and maybe a movie back at my place or something. Does that sound okay?"
The teacher had begun class, so we were whispering.
"Sure, that sounds great, Jasper. Do you have a car, or are we going somewhere within walking distance?"
"Oh, I have a car. Do you like Indian food? I heard about this place, Jewel of India. I thought maybe we'd give that a try."
"Yum! I love to try new things."
Uh oh. That didn't come out exactly as I meant it, but maybe I could use it to my advantage?
"You do, huh? Well, we'll see just how adventurous you're feeling on Saturday," he said, laughing. "We'd better pay a little attention today. I don't think I heard a single thing on Monday."
I smiled at his admission.
"Me either. Oops." I turned back to my paperwork and tuned in to the lecture we were being given.
When class was over, Jasper stood up before me, grabbing my messenger bag and placing it onto my shoulder. I felt my skin tingle where his hand brushed against my shirt and I smiled at him.
My school day was essentially over, but I made my way to the library to get some quiet time. That's when I spotted her. Fuck.
She was wearing a two-tone dress with cap sleeves and a black and red belt. To top it off, she had red patent strappy heels on and her golden hair was pulled high up on her head. I briefly wondered if the sexy librarian line Emmett had used on me would work on her, but decided against it. Could I even approach her at all?
She was wandering the aisle and looked like she might need help finding a book... the perfect opportunity. Old Bella was a book nerd and would know the whole layout of this library by now. I almost cursed New Bella, then I remembered that Old Bella would never do this...
Slowly walked toward her, I formulated a plan in my head. I would be nice, helpful, funny, not at all pushy. I tried to imagine how I would want a guy to approach me.
"Do you need help finding a book?" I whispered, and noticed her jump a little.
"Sorry, you surprised me. I do need help, actually. Do you work here?" She smiled a little and I nearly jumped her when I saw the sexy red glasses on her face. Sexy Librarian; I totally got what Emmett meant in that moment.
"I don't work here, but I've spent a lifetime in libraries like this. What can I help you find?" I asked, biting my lower lip.
"Actually, I think I recognize you. You're in my American Poetry class, aren't you?"
"I am. I think I sat behind you the other day. I'm Bella." I tried to smile genuinely but all I could focus on were those lips. I need those lips on mine. Confused about my feelings, I just tried to go with it and see what happened.
"Tanya," she said with a smile. "So, I'm looking for The Feminine Mystique. I somehow lost my copy in the move from my parents' house to school, and I need it for a class. I know it should be in this section somewhere, but I can't find it." She used her hands a lot when she spoke, and it was adorable. She was alive, full of passion.
"Hmm, you're right, it should be around here somewhere... "
I trailed my hands along the spines of the books, as if it might magically help me find the book easier. It would probably have helped if I had opened my fucking eyes to look at them, but everything was a blur at that moment; a haze of lust clouded my vision.
"Oh, here it is!" She did a little victory hop. "Thanks so much, Bella. Are you new here, too?"
"I am. I moved here from the pacific northwest. How about you?"
"Ah, lucky. I moved from New York, just to piss my parents off. They wanted me to go to Harvard." She had a slightly evil smirk on her face, as if she was reliving the moment she broke the news to them.
I laughed, a full, deep laugh, slightly too loud for the library. A few people gave me looks, but ignored them. She began to walk over to her table so I followed, keeping our conversation going.
"Well, at least you had parents to disappoint."
I wasn't trying to be a downer, I just needed to keep talking to her. She raised an eyebrow at me, but let it drop for the moment.
"Do you need a spot to study at? No one's sitting here." She motioned to the spot across the table from her and I was giddy with anticipation.
"Thanks," I said, sitting down. "What's your major?"
"Women's Studies, you?"
"English. I want to work as an editor someday." Sitting diagonally across form her, I spread my things out, giving each of us the maximum workspace.
"Ahh... you want to be one of those evil ladies that wield a red marker?" She giggled and winked at me. She winked.
"Maybe..." I was laughing more than one would expect, I guess.
"What's so funny?"
"Oh, anytime someone brings up a red pen, I think about the movie Secretary. Have you seen it?"
"Loved it. Although I always wonder how people would have reacted had it been two women. Now that would have been a hot movie. Nothing against James Spader, of course."
Dear God, did she really just say what I think she said?
"Two women?" I tried to clarify.
"Sure. Maybe it's just me... Sorry, I hope I didn't offend you?"
I smiled at her, trying to put her at ease. "No, I'm not offended at all, I'm just not used to people being so honest. So who would you have paired with Maggie Gyllenhaal, then?"
She looked thoughtful for a moment, her face scrunching up.
"Well, I think it was an important detail that the other person was slightly older. It made their position of authority more believable. I'd say off the top of my head Angelina, but she's perhaps a little too over the top sexy. Hmm, maybe Susan Sarandon? Ooh, Eva Mendes, but she might be too young, not rough around the edges enough. How about you, who do you think would have made a great match for her?"
Gulp. New Bella, New Bella, who knows what New Bella likes? We're just figuring it out as we go.
"I always thought Rene Russo had some sex appeal, or Laura San Giacomo. Maybe Monica Bellucci."
"Monica Bellucci. Who I wouldn't kill for her body."
Wow, did she really just imply there was anything wrong with her own body? I laughed again.
"Yeah, seriously. Have you seen her?"
"Of course. Have you seen yourself?" I couldn't help it. Uncertain about what was going on between us, I decided to ramp it up just a little.
"I do, in fact, see myself quite regularly. I'm about the only person seeing me lately, for that matter." It was her turn to laugh and start with the leading comments, I guess.
"I see you," I said.
Taking a chance, I reached out to touch the top of her hand and gave her a soft smile. She blushed and looked down at her books. She moved her hand from mine and began shuffling her papers around a little. I never would have pegged her as the self-conscious type. Wasn't that sort of behavior relegated for girls like me? Had I crossed the line by touching her hand?
"Bella, I'm sorry, I have to get this stuff finished before class tomorrow. I've had a nice time chatting with you. You're welcome to stay as long as you need."
"I'm the one that's sorry, Tanya. I apologize if I crossed the line. I'll just finish up what I need to work on and then I'll be out of your way."
I took my laptop out of my bag and typed for a few minutes, pretending to work on a project. I had no homework yet, so I was just going to pretend to work for a bit and then get the hell out of there. No more than ten minutes later, I packed up and looked up at Tanya again, who appeared to be concentrating heavily.
"See you in class?" I asked before standing to leave.
"Yep. Bye, Bella. It was nice to meet you." She gave me a genuine smile, and I felt slightly relieved as I left.
Making my way to our dorm room, I prayed that someone would be home for me to talk to. I didn't care anymore if my roommates judged me, I really needed to talk to someone.
Rose and Alice were sitting on the couch when I came in, thankfully. Closing the door behind me, I motioned for them to each scoot over, requesting a space between them. Flopping down, I let my head loll back against the couch and closed my eyes.
"Ladies, I need your help."
I explained everything about Tanya – my feelings, our interaction at the library, everything. I closed my eyes, waiting for them to react once I'd finished. I know, New Bella would never have reacted this way, but sometimes old habits die hard.
"Bella? Bella, open your eyes and look at us." Rose said.
Opening my eyes, I cringed internally.
"Bella, it's fine. Who cares? Really, were you that worried about telling us?"
"Well, yeah, I was," I confessed.
"Bella, come on, you can trust us. I know we haven't known each other for long, but I think I speak for both of us when I say that we're your friends now; we're not going to get scared away or judge you unfairly," Alice said.
"Alice, it is a huge relief to hear you say that. I don't know what's gotten into me, but the thing is, I'm starting from scratch, just trying to feel everything as it comes in and digest it, you know? I've spent all my life living for others. Living for me is going to be a challenge until I figure out exactly what that means." I laughed, hoping to lighten the mood.
It was Rose's turn to make us laugh, then. "We understand, Bella. Alice is right, we're your friends, no matter what. We don't make friends easily, so this is it, babe, you need a ditch dug in the quad at four AM, we're your girls."
We put our heads together and hugged as much as we could while sitting.
"I don't get it, you guys. I have dates with two gorgeous hunks and while I'm looking forward to those, Tanya has piqued my interest in a way I never even considered. It's so confusing."
"Listen, Bella, I'll tell you a little secret, okay?"
"Okay, Rose. I could use someone else taking a turn in the confession booth tonight," I said softly.
"Back in high school, I had a mad crush on this girl Jessica. It never went beyond a few hot kisses. It didn't work out for a variety of reasons, but I think you fall in love with people, not genders."
Alice nodded. "I agree, Bella, it's about who the person is."
How did I get so lucky?
"You guys are the best, you know that?"
"Yeah, we know. Let's see if you're still saying that after our beauty session on Saturday," Alice said, then giggled.
We agreed to order Chinese for dinner and watched You've Got Mail on DVD. I went to bed shortly after the movie ended, needing some time alone to think and read.
I woke up before my alarm on Thursday; I knew my first class was with Tanya and I'd see Emmett in the class after that. I was feeling sassy – I put on some rockin' jeans, a black cami, a brown deep v-neck sweater with peep-toe leopard print heels. I left my hair down and a little messy.
As I walked to my American Poetry class, I did my best to not fall over and meet the pavement. Must learn to gracefully walk in heels. I got to class and took a seat, crossing my legs, towards the back. I twisted to the left and pulled my glasses out of my bag. By the time I sat back up, Tanya was sitting to my right.
"Crap, you scared me." I laughed.
"I guess we're even now." She smiled and I felt my knees go weak.
"I wasn't sure I'd see you again after the library, to be honest," I said.
The professor began class and we had to quiet down. I saw a note slide into my arm from her direction. What's with all the note passing? Picking the paper up, I read it carefully.
I'm sorry about the library... can I take you to coffee and explain?
Aw, shit. Is this a date? I certainly couldn't say no. I didn't want to say no, but I was entirely unclear what this was between us.
Sure, how about coffee and maybe a light breakfast Sunday? I wrote back.
I was nervous since she mentioned coffee and I'd bumped it up to breakfast. If it wasn't meant to be a date, she would probably run again.
Her reply came quickly. I would love that, Bella. Thank you. Pick you up at 10:30?
Hmm, I had lunch at one with Emmett, so I didn't think 10:30 would give me enough time.
Sorry, any chance we can make it 9? I hate to ask you for an early morning but I have plans later.
I winced. Nine was early for a Sunday, especially if you went out anywhere Saturday night – like I was planning. It would be worth it, though, I just hoped she would agree.
Of course, 9AM would work fine. You live on campus? she wrote back.
Yep, I'm 106 Russell-Sage. Meet you at the dorm?
She nodded and we exchanged smiles, spending the rest of the class focused on the teacher.
As we were packing up to leave, Tanya touched my hand briefly. "See you Sunday."
Smiling, I gave a brief nod back in response. I walked to my next class on a cloud. I didn't even care where I sat; I had my glasses on already. Arriving early, I took a seat where there were two empty spots next to each other, silently hoping Emmett would sit next to me. I heard his booming voice come through the door, playfully teasing someone. Keeping my eyes forward, I pretended that I hadn't noticed him. To my delight, he sat next to me and nudged my shoulder with his.
"Hey, Em. How are you today?"
"Good, Bellarina, especially now. Whew, I thought you were hot the other day – how did you manage to top yourself? You want me to focus on class sitting next to you looking like that? Damn girl, have a little sympathy for a poor guy like me."
I couldn't help but laugh, but part of New Bella was learning to accept compliments and actually believing them.
"Thanks, Emmett, you're too sweet." I kissed his cheek and put my hand on his arm. How much does this guy workout?
"We're still on for Sunday, right? Are you going to torture me and wear something hot like that? Please say yes! God, I never thought I'd find a girl in glasses hot, but you... Bella, you can wear a pair of glasses."
We giggled together for a moment.
"Yes, Em, I promise I will try and look as hot on Sunday as I do today. Maybe even hotter," I said with a wink.
"You will be the death of me, little B."
I just shook my hair, laughing, as I unpacked my bag for the class. It seemed to drag, especially because Emmett put his hand on my leg at one point, squeezing my knee. Did he have any idea what that was doing to me? Probably.
Once we were dismissed (thank god), I packed up and gave Emmett a goodbye hug. He felt so easy to be around. I knew he made a ton of sexual jokes, but he didn't really seem like a slimy guy. I felt like I could (and probably would) tell him anything he wanted to know. Once again, I was stunned at the crazy busy scheduling of my weekend.
Stopping at the little cafe I had come to think of as 'mine' on the way back to the dorms, I checked my phone. Alice had texted me while I was walking to let me know they were going to hit the dining hall, asking if I'd be back soon. I let her know that I'd grab something on my way back and see them once they got home.
I got a sandwich to go and walked to the dorm at a slow pace, taking my time to think about things. When I got in, the girls were there, and they both told me how impressed they were at the outfit I put together. I guess I wasn't a lost cause, I just needed some help. I was really looking forward to shopping with them on Saturday.
Going into detail, I told them all about my day and asked what they would make of the whole breakfast thing with Tanya. Both said it was too early to tell, but Alice seemed to have a hurt expression on her face.
"Alice, what's wrong?"
"It's nothing, Bella."
"You don't really think I believe that, do you?" I looked at Rose for some backup and she just shrugged.
"Well, I thought maybe we could reserve Sunday mornings for us – girl time."
"Technically, Alice, she is getting 'girl time'."
We all laughed at Rose's comment. It was true...
"You know what I meant, Rose." Alice slapped her playfully on the shoulder.
"I'm sorry, Alice. I think that's a great idea. After this weekend, I'll leave my Sunday mornings open for breakfast or brunch with you guys if you agree to do the same, okay?"
"Deal," they said in unison.
We vegged out on the couch for a while, watching Ugly Betty and Grey's. I called it a night after that and continued my bedtime routine of checking my email before reading and going to sleep. I finally had a reply from Jacob letting me know he was doing well. Things were progressing with Mike, although he still wasn't sure how to label their relationship. I wasn't ready to acknowledge that part of the email, so I skipped a reply; it was too fresh in my heart.
I was almost to the end of Wicked and enjoying it greatly. I wanted to pick up Son of a Witch and an iHome while I was out with the girls over the weekend, so I began a list of other random things I needed.
Friday morning came earlier than I wanted. Dragging myself out of bed, I threw on some casual and comfortable clothes, feeling mostly like a zombie through my first class. I pit stopped in the restroom before my class with Jasper to freshen up and attempt to fix up my appearance a little.
As if he could read my mind, Jasper showed up to class with a coffee from the cafe. Life saver. Giving Jasper a kiss on the cheek, he handed over the liquid salvation. I sniffed and then took a long sip, grateful there was enough milk in it to cool it down a little.
Smiling at him, I said, "Mmm, thanks so much, Jasper. You know the way to a girl's heart."
"That's the intention, Miss." Such a gentleman, and such a charmer.
We took seats next to each other and I did my best to focus. Mr. Banner was our professor, and it was one of the few courses that I knew I'd need to pay attention to in order to pass. We were reading quietly toward the end of class when Mr. Banner began to go through our homework for the weekend.
"Ms. Swan, Bella Swan, could I see you after class please?"
What the hell?
Jasper gave me a funny look, one that spoke volumes with no words – the "you're in trouble!" look.
I shrugged. I couldn't think of anything I had done, so when the class was dismissed and everyone had filtered out, I made my way up front.
"You wanted to see me, professor?"
"Please, call me Brian."
"Um, okay, Brian. Did I do something wrong?"
"No, Bella. I'd say you did nothing wrong and maybe a few things right. I've seen you in my class and around campus and I was wondering..." He trailed off and eyed me lasciviously. "Hmm, this is a little awkward for me. It's technically against the rules, but I'm hoping you won't tell anyone."
He moved closer and I began to feel uncomfortable. Where the hell is he going with this?
"Bella, every time I see you, my heart races. Would you do me the honor of seeing me outside of the classroom?"
Oh God. Right here, right now. Rule ends.
"I'm so sorry, Mr. Banner, I can't. I ..." Shit, think Bella, think! "... I can't see you outside of class because I already have a boyfriend." Easy enough to say, hard for him to prove.
"Ah, I apologize. Of course someone as beautiful as you is already taken. I hope you won't be offended by my having asked, Bella. Like I said, it's not exactly okay for me to do so, I just thought I'd take the chance that you could keep that information to yourself."
What a fucking creep. This guy gives me the willies.
"No problem, Mr. Banner. I'm going to go now, okay?"
"Sure. Have a great weekend, Bella."
I walked out quickly, not sure what to think of what just happened. As soon as the door closed behind me, I bent my legs and rested my hands on my knees, taking in a deep breath with my head down.
The deep voice startled me.
"Shit, Jasper, you nearly gave me a heart attack. What are you still doing out here?"
"I've heard nothing but bad things about that guy, so I wanted to be sure you were okay before I left. You don't look so good. Can I walk you to your dorm?"
"That would be nice, Jasper, thanks. Banner seems like a total creep. He asked me out!"
His eyes narrowed a little and then he let out an obligatory laugh. Is he nervous? "Really? What did you say?"
"Oh god, I said no of course! He's like fifty years old."
He slipped my hand into his and gave me a smile as we walked silently to the dorm.
I couldn't wait to tell Alice and Rose about my day.