Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 24)

Patches of red formed on my face as I hurried to my seat.

It wasn’t until class was over that I noticed McKayla wasn’t sitting next to me like she usually did, and I remembered that I had hurt her feelings. But she and Erica waited at the door for me, so I hoped that meant I would be forgiven eventually. As we walked, McKayla seemed to become herself again, getting more enthusiastic as she talked about the weather report for the weekend. The rain was supposed to take a short break, so her beach trip would be possible. I tried to match her enthusiasm to make up for disappointing her yesterday, but I could tell I wasn’t fooling either of them. Rain or no rain, we would be lucky if the temperature even got close to fifty degrees. Not my idea of a beach day.

The rest of the morning passed in a blur. It was hard to believe I wasn’t imagining things again—that Edythe really had said those words, and that her eyes had looked that way when she was saying them. Something about her confused my reality. First I’d thought I’d seen her stop a van barehanded, and now this. The original delusion seemed more likely than the second—that I appealed to her on any level. But here I was, walking into this one with eyes wide open, and I didn’t even care that the punch line was coming. At the moment, it seemed like a decent trade—her laughter later for that look in her eyes now.

I was both eager and nervous when I finally got to the cafeteria at lunchtime. Would she ignore me like usual? Would there be any sign from her that the conversation this morning had, in fact, happened? With a small percentage of my brain I listened to Jeremy. McKayla had asked him to the dance, and they were going to go with a few others—Allen and Erica, Logan and Taylor. I think I grunted in the right places, because he didn’t seem to notice how little of my attention I was giving him.

My eyes went straight to her table as soon as I was through the door, and then disappointment hit like a punch to the gut. There were only four people there, and Edythe wasn’t one of them. Was she going to disappear every time something significant happened?

Of course, the conversation this morning was only significant to me, I was sure.

I lost my appetite. I grabbed a bottle of lemonade for something to carry and followed Jeremy robotically through the line, wishing I were the kind of person who could just go home early, the kind who didn’t worry about unexcused absences and detention and disappointed parental figures.

“Edythe Cullen is staring at you again,” Jeremy said. I was one hundred percent paying attention as soon as he said her name. “I wonder why she’s sitting alone today.”

My head snapped up and I quickly followed his line of sight. Edythe was sitting at an empty table across the cafeteria from where she usually sat. Her dimples flashed as soon as she knew I’d seen her. She raised one hand and motioned with her index finger for me to join her. As I stared, not entirely believing my own eyes, she winked.

“Does she mean you?” Jeremy asked. There was an insult in his astonishment, but I was past caring.

“Um, maybe she needs help with her Biology homework,” I muttered. “I guess I should go see what she wants.”

I could feel Jeremy staring after me as I walked away. I could also feel those ugly splotches of red start up my neck, and tried to calm myself.

When I got to her table I just stood there behind the chair across from her, awkward.

“Why don’t you sit with me today?” she suggested through a wide smile.

I sat down automatically, watching her expression. Was this how the joke ended? She hadn’t stopped smiling. I found that I still didn’t care. Whatever got me more time this close to her.

She stared back at me, still smiling. Did she want me to say something?

“This is, uh, different,” I finally managed.

“Well,” she said, and then paused. I could tell there was more, so I waited. The rest of it followed in a rush, the words blurring together so that it took me a minute to decipher the meaning. “I decided as long as I was going to hell, I might as well do it thoroughly.”

I kept waiting, thinking she would explain, but she didn’t. The silence got more uncomfortable as the seconds passed.

“You know I don’t understand what you mean, right?” I asked.

“I’m counting on it,” she said, and then her eyes focused behind me. “I think your friends are upset that I’ve stolen you.”

Suddenly I could feel all their eyes boring into my back. For once, it didn’t bother me at all.

“They’ll survive.”

She grinned. “I may not give you back, though.”

I swallowed too loud and she laughed.

“You look worried,” she said.

“No.” I stopped to swallow again, hearing the edge of a break in my voice. “But surprised, yes. What’s this all about?” I gestured toward her and the rest of the empty table.

“I told you—I’m tired of trying to stay away from you. So I’m giving up.” The smile was fading, and her eyes were serious by the end.

“Giving up?” I repeated.

“Yes—giving up trying to be good. I’m just going to do what I want now, and let the chips fall where they may.” The smile disappeared completely, and a hard edge crept into her silky voice.

“You lost me again.”

It looked like she found that funny. “I always say too much when I’m talking to you—that’s one of the problems.”

“Don’t worry—I don’t understand anything you say.”

“Like I said—I’m counting on that.”


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