Thursday, March 6, 2014 | By: Drotuno

Masen Manor Chapter 5

Chapter 5
August 2001
You’re not weak. And you are safe here.
Those words made my fingers twitch of their own accord on the top of my desk. My eyes raked around me, narrowing on students, teachers…everyone. Someone had read my journal. And not only had they read it, but they’d had the audacity to write in it.
The two short sentences rattled around in my head constantly. I’d memorized them, the feel of them, even the color of them. Whoever had written them had beautiful handwriting…and a heavy hand. They’d left an impression through almost to the back of the notebook. It was almost full, but still…
With every assignment passed forward, every paper that came my way, I looked for penmanship that matched, only to come up empty. Most of the boys in my classes had the normal messy script, where most of the girls’ were curly and silly, some using little circles for dots. But there was no one with a flowing script like the one in my journal. It looked old, almost like calligraphy, but it was obviously a regular pen. The ink was almost like my own.

It made me nervous that someone, somewhere knew about me. That they’d read my worst fears, my failures, and anything else I’d said to my dad. My first thought was that it was vile Mike Newton, but he’d already passed me enough notes that I’d been able to cross him off the list. His writing was barely English, much less legible.
My eyes locked onto the boy in question across the classroom. Mr. Dobson droned on in history class, but Mike was staring my way…and so was Jessica. It hadn’t even been a full week of classes yet, but already I had enemies. Though, this time, I also had a friend.
Alice was fantastic. She didn’t push, judge, or pressure. She simply accepted me as I was. She was also two steps ahead of Mike and Jessica almost at all times, helping me to avoid a run-in with either of them. It was truly pissing Jessica off, but Mike was too stupid to realize he was being thwarted.
History was my last class of the day. As most people made their way down to the dining hall, back to their dorm rooms, or to the library, I decided to get some fresh air. The day was overcast, but the rain had stopped around mid-morning. I stepped out into the back courtyard, giving a glance around. There was a pathway that led to a small lake, and I took it.
The Masen grounds were beautiful and too big to see from one spot. From the small dock, I could see the thick forests running along either side of the lake. Off in the distance, I saw a thin column of smoke. It looked like it was coming from a chimney, which would confirm that there were some employees who lived outside the castle, yet still on the property somewhere.
I walked down the dock, finding a dry spot to sit down, but I just about jumped clean out of my skin when a loud bang broke the silence. Glancing over to my left, I saw a small boat house or shed, and I met Jasper’s gaze as he stepped out holding a wrench in his hand. He froze mid-step, his eyes raking over me. A slow smile curled the corners of his mouth.
“I didn’t mean to scare you,” he stated, chuckling lightly. “I didn’t know anyone was out here.”
I waved him off and shook my head at the same time.
“Oh, you’re…the one,” he guessed, pointing my way with the tool.
Rolling my eyes, I sighed, gazing back out over the water. I shouldn’t have been surprised that word of me had gotten around, but sometimes, it was like an uphill battle. People had already formed opinions before I even knew them.
“Dammit, I’ve insulted you,” he said, coming to squat next to me. “I’m Jasper,” he introduced. “Don’t be mad, okay? Mrs. C just kinda gave us all a heads-up with you. You’re Bella, right?”
Smiling a little at his nervous rambling, I nodded, shaking his hand. He had a Southern accent that came through his tone, something calm, almost soothing.
“No offense, but I wouldn’t go much farther on the grounds alone than this,” he warned kindly. “You just… It’s easy to get lost in those woods, and even though it’s fenced in, it’s a pain in the ass to get back. And a long walk, too.”
Grinning at him, I nodded. I thought he’d walk away when I pulled out my journal, but he didn’t. He plopped himself down on the opposite side of the dock from me.
Cracking the notebook open, my finger immediately traced the two short sentences for the millionth time. My eyes shot to the castle, and I tried to figure out which windows belonged to the east wing. I knew they were facing the back courtyard, but I wasn’t sure which ones.
A part of me wanted to write in my journal, but the sight of the script that didn’t belong to me seemed to taint the feeling. And I wondered if I’d ever get back the solace of writing to my dad.
“Homework?” Jasper asked, and he grinned when I shook my head no. “Love note?”
I literally snorted out loud, really shaking my head that time.
“Hmm,” he hummed, and I could see him teasing. “Not homework, not a love letter… Passing notes?”
I liked him. Alice had said he was standoffish, but I honestly wasn’t getting that from this guy. He seemed young, maybe early twenties, with blond hair and light brown eyes. His smile was crooked and wry, like he knew something I didn’t know.
Suddenly, I sensed a peaceful feeling, which calmed me enough to speak. “Is the east wing really haunted?”
His laugh was deep, but musical. His eyes twinkled with amusement.
“You don’t speak to your teachers, but you’ll ask me that?” he joked, shrugging a shoulder when I nodded. His eyes drifted to my open journal, his smile twitching a little. He then glanced up at the castle, saying, “Some say it is. I’ve heard rumors that people have heard things back there. Some say they’ve heard voices, music, things being broken. Have you seen it?”
I held my finger and thumb close together.
“A little?” he verified, and I nodded. “Well, I know it’s forbidden to students, so that makes sense.”
I wanted to tell him I thought someone…or something wrote in my notebook, but I couldn’t find the words. I also felt a little violated about it all. Frowning at the note, I closed the book. Maybe it was time to crack open one of the new ones that Chelsea had bought me and start over.
“Boy, someone pissed you off,” Jasper noted with a chuckle, but his brow wrinkled. He eyed my notebook, then my face, only to glance toward the castle. “Hmm… I had a younger cousin back at home…she used to write in a diary. She was hellfire incarnate when her little brother would get ahold of it. Is that what that is? And what? Someone read it?”
I nodded fervently, the truth of his words making me angry all over again.
“And what’s that got to do with the east wing?” he asked, mainly to himself, but he watched me for a moment.
“I left it,” I said softly, bending the notebook in my hands. “Someone read it…wrote in it.”
He frowned, glancing down at the tool in his hands and fiddling with it. He nodded once and looked back at me. “Well, then, sounds like someone…or something is trying to tell you somethin’, Miss Bella. Maybe they were too nosey for their own good. If you’re mad, leave another note.” His grin was hilarious, and I giggled a little. “Maybe you can scare this ghost off, or at the least teach him some manners.”
Giggling, I nodded, thinking that wasn’t a bad idea. We both glanced up at the sound of footsteps on the dock. I smiled Alice’s way, but Jasper stood up. His face changed from the easygoing thing he’d been since he’d found me, to something that looked nervous, shy, almost angry.
“I’ll leave you to it,” he murmured. “It was nice meeting you, Bella.”
He passed Alice on his way off the dock, and she gave him an appraising onceover before she squatted down next to me. Her skirt flared out around her.
“Here you are,” she gushed, smiling at me. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you. We have to work on that biology report.”
Nodding, I glanced up at the castle, my eyes raking over windows. Some were lit enough that I could see students milling about in the library, some in the hallways, and others in the dorms. At the very top, there was a single figure, though it moved before I could get a good look at it.
I stood up, shouldering my bag, and smiled at Alice, gesturing toward the castle, silently telling her, “After you.”
Friday morning dawned just as rainy and dreary as the day before. Alice was humming to herself in our bathroom as I unlocked my trunk. I stared at my old journal, frowning at it, only to drop it inside. I snatched up the pack of notebooks Chelsea had bought me, unwrapped them, and pulled one out.
Alice was suddenly standing next to me. “What happened? You just got it back, but you’re stashing it?”
Her eyes flickered from my new journal to the old one now in the bottom of my trunk. She tilted her head at me, waiting for me to say something. She’d known about me leaving it behind in the east wing when hiding from Mike, but I hadn’t said anything about what had been written in it when I’d gone back to get it.
My brow wrinkled at her, wondering what she was seeing. By now, I was pretty sure her little talent was legit. She’d helped me more times than I could count this first week of classes.
I picked up the old notebook, opened it to the last page, and showed her. Her gasp was loud, and her eyes, which were more blue today than green, went wide.
“Who did this?” she squeaked.
“I don’t know,” I answered softly, frowning at it. “Not anyone we know.”
She bit the inside of her cheek, studying the two sentences I had memorized, and then closed the book quickly. “What if… What if there is something in the east wing?” she asked in a whisper. “What if this”—she held up the book—“is the way it communicates?”
I tapped her temple in silent question.
“No! I can’t see anything!” she gushed, still whispering. “The only thing I see is you leaving that one back there before we go into Hunter’s Lake tomorrow and then getting it back on Sunday.”
My eyebrows shot up at that. On the weekends, students were allowed to go into town for a few hours, as long as they had permission. There were small shops and restaurants, and Jacob Black would drop us off and pick us up.
If Alice saw me leaving the new notebook in east wing, then I guessed I’d made up my mind to do as Jasper suggested. The sound of footsteps in the dorm hallway caught our attention, which meant we needed to get to class.
“Bring that with you!” she hissed, tapping the new notebook. “I’ll help you figure out what to write.”
Grinning, I nodded and slammed my trunk, locking it back swiftly.
Alice and I passed notes practically all damn day. We debated on how to approach the questions, whether I should be mad at having my privacy invaded, and what time I needed to leave it back there the next morning. It made the classes fly by, which was good because I was looking forward to my piano lesson at the end of the school day.
Other than my brief practice on Wednesday, I hadn’t really played. I missed it something awful. I missed the calm that came with it, the escape from reality that I got when the notes wafted around me. I even missed the struggle of trying to finish my own composition, something I’d been working on for years. The end just wouldn’t come.
After history class was dismissed, I walked with Alice back to our dorm room. We dropped our books on our beds, and I gathered up my sheet music.
“You nervous?” she asked, smirking my way.
Shaking my head no, I smiled, but then I shrugged, holding up my thumb and forefinger.
“A little,” she said with a giggle. “Go get ’em,” she ordered, pushing and shoving me toward the door. “You’ll be great. Maybe Mrs. C got that special tutor and he’s hotter than sin.”
A laugh barked out of me as I got to our door. I rolled my eyes at her, but her knowing smirk caused me to raise an eyebrow at her. She merely giggled and shoved me into the hallway, slamming the door closed behind me.
Shaking my head, I started toward the auditorium. I was early, but I figured I could practice a little before Mr. Harris got there. The farther I got away from the main halls and dorms, the quieter it became. I opened one of the double doors, which caused an echo to reverberate throughout the entire room. Even my steps echoed as I walked to the stage and across it.
I set my things down on the bench and took a seat, a smile crossing my face as I lifted the cover from the keys. My memories of playing stemmed back to when I was little. My grandmother – my dad’s mother – was the one who had gotten me started. She’d played and had sat me on her lap to teach me. It had simply snowballed from there. She’d seen me play my first recital, but passed away shortly thereafter.
Remembering that, I started with Claire de Lune. It had been her favorite and one of the first songs I’d heard her play. I lost myself in it, in the memories of my dad’s pride the first time he’d heard me play it. I was so lost in it that I didn’t realize someone had stepped up on stage until I was finished.
I jumped at the sight of Mrs. Cullen, mouthing, “Sorry,” to her.
She laughed lightly, walking to me. “Don’t you apologize, Bella. That was beautiful.”
I smiled gratefully her way, but finally saw that there was someone with her. He was younger than I was expecting – no more than twenty-one, if I’d had to guess – and I wondered if he was Mr. Harris. He was dressed in black jeans and a black button-down shirt that he hadn’t bothered to tuck in.
I gave his tall form a onceover, starting at his black dress shoes, all the way up to his hair, which was a mussed dark brown with reddish highlights. His face, though, was breathtaking. The combination of a thick, masculine brow and sharp jawline with his long dark eyelashes and almost feminine cheekbones made for a gorgeous combination. A small smile graced his face, but he looked wary, nervous…almost scared.
My last thought before Mrs. Cullen placed a hand on my shoulder was that Alice was right…he was hotter than sin.
“Bella, I know you were expecting Mr. Harris, but remember when I told you that I may have a special tutor for you?” she asked me, and I nodded, looking up at her curiously. “Well, this is Dr. Cullen’s nephew…mine by marriage. Edward Cullen.”
He stepped forward, holding out his hand, and I shook it. A warm, tingling sensation shot through my fingers, spreading throughout my palm, and up my arm. Both of us gasped, pulling our hands away, but he chuckled nervously, a sound that made my stomach do flip-flops.
“And please, just…just Edward,” he sputtered, his brows drawing together. “Mr. Cullen is too...” He shook his head a little. “Technically, I’m not a teacher, just a tutor, so…please, no formality.”
His voice was a velvety, smooth sound, with a tiny touch of a rasp in it. It gave off a soothing feeling, but it was sexy at the same time, which was an utterly ridiculous thought on my part. Surely someone as beautiful as the man standing next to the piano had a wife or girlfriend, and a crushing sixteen-year-old girl would never stand a chance, especially someone like me.
Smiling, I nodded and then looked up at Mrs. Cullen, who was smirking his way, but she turned to me. “Bella, Edward is going to work with you from this point on, and I think he’ll challenge you better than Mr. Harris would have, considering he has four other students to teach. And I don’t particularly think you need teaching, just someone that can work with you at your level, which the other four students aren’t anywhere near where you are. Okay?”
I nodded in acceptance, waiting for her to go on.
“At the end of the school year, the music and drama students usually put on a performance; it’s part of your grade, so Edward will prepare you for that. And if you’re interested in continuing music in college, he’ll be the one to guide you.” She glanced between us, smiling softly.
Again, I nodded, but glanced to Edward. He looked as nervous as I felt as he raked a hand through his already messy hair, causing it to stick up even more, but it fit him somehow, like it was just disheveled enough to look natural and carefree.
Mrs. Cullen chuckled again, looking to me. “Before I leave you to it, I just wanted to know if your first week here was okay.”
I nodded fervently, smiling up at her.
“No problems?” she verified.
“No, ma’am,” I whispered with a shake of my head.
She shot me a wink and smiled. “Good. Just what I wanted to hear.”
She faced Edward, saying, “I’ll be in my office should you need me.”
“Yes, ma’am,” he answered her, watching her walk off the stage and up the aisles to the main doors. He seemed to steel himself before looking to me. “Shall we get started, Bella?”
His voice wrapping around my name caused my heart to race, but I nodded dumbly up at him.
Gazing down at the girl in front of me, it was all I could do not to either run away or fall at her feet. If I’d thought she was stunning just watching her from afar, then I’d sealed my fate when I shook her hand. I felt it the second we touched. I was hers, and there wasn’t anything I could do about it.
Her heartbeat and shaky hands told me that she was nervous as she nodded in answer to my question. She wasn’t the only one. With a deep breath, I smiled.
“Okay, so I’m aware that you…” I gestured to my throat.” Her deep sigh, soft groan, and eye roll made me chuckle. “Apparently, Esme’s warning to the staff has worn out its welcome,” I surmised.
Bella’s nose wrinkled adorably, but she shrugged.
“Hmm,” I hummed, shaking my head and still smiling. “I tell you what. We won’t address it, then. How’s that? If you want to answer, answer. If you want to write to me, that’s fine, too. I’ll ignore it altogether. Never mind what she’s said, though she did it with the best of intentions.”
She nodded, a small smile curling her beautiful lips.
“Okay.” I glanced down at the folder she’d brought with her. “I heard you playing. Excellent work, by the way. Is this what you’ve been working on?”
Nodding, Bella reached down, picked up the file, and handed it to me.
Flipping through it, I saw the usual suspects in piano pieces – classical, theater, and contemporary songs. At the back of the folder was a stack of handwritten music. I pulled it out and thumbed through it. If my guess was correct, this was the unknown melody that I’d heard Wednesday night.
I held it up. “Yours?”
She nodded, but grimaced.
And then she did the unthinkable: she talked.
“It’s not…finished. I can’t seem to…” Her soft, wary voice trailed off, and she gazed down at her hands in her lap.
Smiling, I understood. I’d been there. However, I’d never expected her to speak to me. Not once. And even though the sound was so very nervous and shaky, it was officially my favorite new sound.
“That’s okay. Why don’t you start with this? Claire de Lune was well done, so let me hear this…at least what you have written so far.”
I set the sheets down, but she didn’t bother with them. She played from memory, and it was, indeed, the same piece that I’d overheard on Wednesday. It started light, almost happy, but it changed slowly. It turned a bit dark, a little sad, and then almost angry. The piece then flattened out into a sound not unlike flowing water, but fast flowing water. And if I had to place the emotion behind it, I’d say it was fear.
And then it hit me: the song was Bella. It was her life and losses and feelings, all right there.
I hadn’t realized I’d been pacing as she played, so when the song ended abruptly, I spun almost too quickly to face her.
“This is where you’re stuck,” I assumed, and she nodded, looking rather ashamed. “Bella, I think this is what we should work on for your final grade, for your performance at the end of the school year.”
Her eyes widened, her hands twitched in her lap, and she looked like she wanted to scream no at me.
Leaning my elbows on the top of the piano, I said, “It’s personal, I know. I hear it. But…maybe I can help?” I offered.
She bit her bottom lip, but didn’t answer me just yet.
“This is what I do, Bella. We can make this your final project, work out what’s causing you to get stuck on the ending. It’s also an excellent way to showcase your talent, should you apply to college music programs,” I told her, and suddenly, I really hoped she’d let me help her.
Something in me shifted, some sort of collapse or acceptance. I wasn’t sure what it was. If I asked Carlisle, he would say that my instincts – my immortal instincts – were recognizing my mate. If I asked Leah – or Giselle, for that matter – they would tell me that my soul had found its other half. All I knew was that fighting it – fighting that hundred-year-old prophecy, that pull on me since Bella had stepped foot inside the castle, and that lonely ache I’d had for so long – seemed to be fruitless.
However, the reality was that I wasn’t human, that pretenses needed to be maintained, and above all else, she was only sixteen years old. She shouldn’t know what I was, no matter how badly I wanted to reveal the real me to her. It was quite possible that I’d scare her completely away, especially considering she’d already been through hell before she got here. I needed time. She needed time.
When she still didn’t answer me, I started to ramble and pace again. “Of course, we could work on something more…the norm, something complex to show off your talent, something you could play without worry. Chopin, perhaps…”
“Edward,” she whispered, and I just about tripped over my own feet to turn back to her.
The sound of my name was probably the best thing I’d ever heard in my very long life. It transcended the mere sound of her voice and skyrocketed up to my number one favorite sound ever made on this planet.
“Hmm?” I hummed, trying not to flinch when my own voice cracked.
She smiled, holding up the music sheets. “Okay.”
Studying her face and making sure she’d meant it, I grinned and nodded when I saw a tough determination there. Carlisle’s statement about her strength being her biggest ally came flying to the forefront of my mind. He would’ve been proud of her in that moment.
“Okay,” I echoed, taking the music sheets. “Well, we need to do two things.” I held up two fingers to her. When she tilted her head in question, I said, “First, you’ve got to tell me about this song. What it means, what inspired it, and where you think you see it going. You can write it out for me.”
Bella looked nervous, but she nodded, holding up two fingers and raising an eyebrow at me.
I chuckled again, simply because her lack of voice didn’t mean a lack of fire, because her deep eyes sparked with it. However, that thought made me wonder just how long it had been since she’d been challenged. I would’ve given anything at the moment to read her thoughts, but as I took in her expressions, I saw that I didn’t need it, really. It most likely stemmed from her lack of voice, but her face read like a book. Everything was right there out in the open. She’d simply learned to communicate that way.
Holding up the sheets, I went on. “Second, I need to learn this in order to help you.”
“Oh,” she whispered, but then nodded up at me, seeming just a tad overwhelmed.
Walking to her, I knelt down to her eye level. “Relax. I’m only here to help. I need to know the piece just as well as you do, okay?”
She nodded, and her shoulders sagged just a bit. Reaching out, she tapped the pages in my hand. “It’s…not accurate.”
Raising an eyebrow at her like she’d done to me, I said, “Well, then, it’s a good thing I can play by ear. Let’s go, Bella. Play through it again.”
I was then rewarded with another amazing sound. Her giggle. It was adorable and sweet and, God help me, sexy. I motioned for her to start again, and she did. However, I knew that our communication would need a bit of help. She barely spoke, and that was okay; I’d never force her into anything that made her uncomfortable. She answered as best she could, but I’d need to really hear her thoughts in order to work with her. Getting up, I walked backstage and rolled a tilting blackboard to the front, stopping by the piano.
As soon as I did it, I realized my mistake. I couldn’t write back to her. It would be a neon sign as to who had written in her journal, and Jasper had already told me about his conversation with Bella. She’d been pissed at having her privacy invaded. He’d felt it all around him. He’d called me a lucky bastard, because she assumed it was the “ghost” in the east wing, and he’d pushed her to continue thinking that. He’d then told me that if she figured it out and wanted to kick my ass, he’d do it for her.
That thought made me snort to myself, but I shook it off quickly. I turned around, letting the notes Bella was playing sink in. The one benefit of my strange existence was my mind’s ability to focus on more than one thing.
When she was done, I held out a piece of chalk. “We need to really work together, Bella, so use this. We also need to make that as accurate as possible. The sheets need to match what you’re playing. It’ll help you in the long run.”
She stood up from the piano bench and took the chalk from me with a nod.
“We’ll work on writing the music first and then work on what’s holding you back from finishing it,” I told her, taking her place at the piano.
Before my fingers even touched the keys, the sound of the chalk scratching on the board caught my attention. Her face was so very serious as she wrote to me.
What do you know of my past?
My heart broke at her worried expression, but I answered her as honestly as I could. “Only what Esme told me, Bella. That there was a break-in at your home, that your father didn’t make it, but you did.”
She stared at my face for a moment before going back to the board.
This song is about him. And I don’t know if I can write out all the details.
Choosing my words carefully, I said, “That may explain why you’re struggling to finish it. Give it time. We’ll work on it, but I’d like you to tell me what you can.”
She wrote quickly again, And if I still can’t finish it?
Grinning, I said, “Well, then you can play Clair de Lune, and no one will be the wiser.”
Finally, she relaxed, and I saw that Carlisle was right. She couldn’t speak about what had had happened to her the night her father died. She just wasn’t ready, and I’d pretty much given her an out…or at the least I’d given her a plan that she could live with should she be unable to finish her piece.
“That makes you feel better about this?” I asked her, hoping she’d eventually relax a little more around me. “I’m not here to push you into something that makes you uncomfortable, Bella. I just want to make sure you show your best at the end of the year. Okay?”
What I wanted to tell her was that I’d like to find the monsters that did that to her and remove them from the earth. I wanted to hunt them down, stalk them, scare them, make sure they knew they’d made the biggest of mistakes by touching her, but I couldn’t exactly say that.
Bella finally nodded in answer. “Thank you, Edward,” she whispered nervously.
It was my turn to be silent, and I nodded in answer, looking back to the keys. I started her song, and for the next hour and a half, we charted the notes on the music sheets, making it as accurate as possible. We worked really well together, which surprised me, considering all that was different about us, but it was obvious that the one thing we shared was a deep love for music. However, at the end of the second hour, I couldn’t help but chuckle when her stomach growled forcefully.
“Okay,” I said with a laugh. “We’ll stop here for now.”
Her face bloomed into a deep red blush, but she giggled anyway as she packed up her things.
“Bella,” I called just before she left the stage. When she faced me, I said, “If this day works for you, then every Friday after your last class, we’ll meet here. Mr. Harris has lessons most of the week, but this day’s clear. And allow for two hours at most, okay?”
She smiled, tucked her hair behind her ear, and nodded. “Okay,” she whispered, rushing out of the auditorium and leaving me alone in the large windowless room.
I sat down on the piano bench, facing the keys. Reaching out, I just barely touched the ivory, letting my fingers graze over them. I heard his mind before he appeared backstage, having come from the hidden passageway.
“How much did you hear?” I asked Carlisle, looking up when he stepped out of the shadows.
His face gave away nothing, and he was reciting some passage from an ancient medical journal to keep me out of his mind.
“Is your opinion so bad that you have to block me?” I asked, not really teasing, but I smirked his way.
“No, son,” he said softly, shaking his head a little. “I just wanted to tell you…I’m proud of you.”
“Thanks,” I whispered, playing a soft chord with my fingers. “Yet you still block me.”
“It’s just…I’ve noticed something with Bella, Edward,” he stated, looking unsure as to whether or not to share it with me. When I met his gaze, he relented. “When Esme told me about her visit to Bella’s home in Boston, she explained that the girl didn’t speak aloud to her parents. However, she spoke to Esme. She’s spoken to me, and now you.”
I sat up straighter. “And Jasper.”
“What did he say about her?”
“That he could feel a lot of emotions coming from her – fear, anger, curiosity, but with him…trust,” I told him.
He nodded like he’d assumed as much, looking over at the scribbled blackboard. “It seems she only speaks to those she trusts, which makes me wonder why she doesn’t speak to her parents.”
Frowning, I shook my head. “Maybe she does, and Esme just didn’t hear it.”
“Maybe. It also makes me wonder why she’s so comfortable around every single one of us,” he stated, shrugging a shoulder. “I’m not sure I understand it. Most of the students around here have a pretty decent fear of us. It registers in their heartbeat. The only time Bella is nervous is when she needs to speak aloud. Otherwise, she’s as cool as a cucumber.”
His thoughts then opened, and I saw that his theory was because she was my mate, which maybe took away that fear, but he wasn’t sure.
“It can’t possibly be that easy, Carlisle,” I gasped, gaping up at him. “No. I refuse to think she’s basically wired for me. I just…can’t.”
He laughed lightly and sat down next to me on the piano bench. “It is possible, Edward. Her blood doesn’t tempt you. That alone means she’s different.”
Hope bloomed heavy and warm in my chest, but I was afraid of giving in. She still had no idea what I was, how vile my kind could be. And her life had been so hard already. To add to that would be a sin against her.
“She’ll hate it all,” I whispered. “She’ll hate me.”
He squeezed my shoulder. “You can’t know that, and you’ll eventually have to come clean, son. You won’t be able to stop it. She’s a smart girl and obviously very strong. Try not to underestimate her.”
I took a deep breath and let it out, nodding a little. “Okay.”
“Good,” he said, standing up. “Now, Esme wanted to see you in her office after your first lesson with Bella. She sent me to get you.”
Nodding, I got up, erased the blackboard of Bella’s writing, and followed him to the hidden passage.
Saturday morning dawned to a sunny day, which made it difficult for any of us to move about the castle without revealing our strange skin. However, since there were no classes, it really didn’t matter.
I stared at my computer screen, going over the first weeks’ grades that the teachers had turned in. Both Bella and Alice were at the top of their class already. It seemed Esme was correct in predicting that she’d do well at Masen.
The two loudest minds I knew were making their way to my door. I gazed up at Jasper and Jacob when they stepped into the room.
“Shouldn’t you be driving the van to Hunter’s Lake?” I asked Jacob, raising an eyebrow.
“Pfft, I’ve got time,” he said with his usual happy grin, jerking his chin toward the clock on the wall. “Twenty minutes, actually.”
I tried to turn back to my work, but the two were standing there singing loud, awful songs in their heads. “Seriously? You two can’t find anything better to do?”
Jasper grinned. “Shut up, Edward. We just wanted to know how the piano lesson went.”
Both of them looked like children waiting for Santa on Christmas morning, and I shook my head at them, my eyes on my computer.
“It went…well,” I told them. “She’s a brilliant pianist.”
So, is she your ‘beautiful swan’ or not?! Jacob asked loudly in his mind.
I knew why he wanted to know. His reasons were two-fold: to verify his great-grandmother’s prediction, and he’d protect Bella with his life if needed. He’d do the latter for me without me asking.
Smiling his way, I nodded. “Yeah, Giselle was right.”
He was just about to cheer out loud for me, but I was up and out of my chair with my hand covering his mouth. Down the stairs, I heard the secret door to my ruined piano room creak open.
Jasper tilted his head. Whoa, shit…it’s Bella, he thought to me, and I nodded once.
Warning them silently not to move, I stepped quietly to the edge of the stairs, where I could see her. She was in her own clothes – jeans, a long-sleeved shirt, and sneakers. It was the item in her hand that caught my attention. A notebook. And it wasn’t the same notebook she’d left behind as before. This one looked brand new.
With her usual nervous glance around, she set the journal down on top of the piano and hastily retreated out the secret door. I was down the stairs and back up with the notebook in hand before she’d probably made it down the corridor.
“She didn’t,” Jasper gasped, then cracked the fuck up.
“You!” I growled, poking his chest. “You did this. You gave her the idea. Now what am I supposed to do?”
“Read it!” they both said.
Turning to Jacob, I pointed toward the door. “She’s obviously going into town today, so go take her. And could you…”
He sobered up instantly, holding up a hand. “I’ll watch her, Edward. Promise.”
I nodded in thanks to him, because the mere thought of her outside the castle had me worried to no end, though I chuckled when he pouted about wanting to hear what she said in the journal. “I’m sure Jasper will catch you up. He gossips like an old woman.”
“True,” Jacob said with a barking laugh as he left my room.
“Asses, both of you,” Jasper growled, shoving me. “Now read it!”
Walking to the window, I opened the notebook to the first page.
To whoever read my journal,
It’s not nice to invade someone’s privacy. It’s unfair that you know everything about me and I know nothing about you. I’ve tried to find out who you are by your handwriting, but I don’t think it’s anyone in my class or any of my teachers. If I go by all the rumors, then you could be some sort of ghost, which I’m not sure I believe.
So who are you? Ghost or human? And just who do you think you are, reading something private, something that didn’t belong to you? Since you know about me, maybe you’ll be brave enough to tell me about YOU!
Leave this notebook in the place I left it. If you don’t answer, I won’t bother you again.
Grinning at Bella’s ire, I shook my head. “She really is mad.”
“I told you, jackass!” Jasper growled, rushing to me and quickly reading over my shoulder. His laugh was hilarious. “What are you gonna do?”
Walking to my desk, I picked up a pen and then looked back to him. “I’m going to answer her.”
Smiling down at the notebook, I took a deep breath and let it out. “By telling her as much of the truth as I can.”


Maria said...

Great chapter. I'm glad they are getting along. I love the idea of the Diary.

Kristi said...

Jasper just pushed E&B into a writing relationship, like pen pals.
Bella has every right to feel that her privacy was invaded. Her saucy approach to the 'ghost' idea is cute.
Your Jacob is a delightful change.
Carlisle is very in tune with Bella's responses to those around Masen Manor. I wonder how long it will be before someone is sent to delve into Renee and Phil's life?


krosson247 said...

I'm also very pleased with your Jacob; too many times authors portray him as a pompous asshole and I find it hard to finish their stories. But you, you always manage to make every character likable and relateable in every one of your stories. I absolutely love your work and I can't wait to see where this one goes!

smook said...

I just LOVE LOVE LOVE this story!
I so like the characters personalities and that they are different than so many stories protray. Thank you so much!

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