Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 40)

He smiled back, his brown eyes crinkling around the edges. When he smiled big like that, it was easier to imagine him as the man who had impulsively married a beautiful girl he barely knew when he was only three years older than I was now. There wasn’t much of that guy left. He’d faded over the years, like the curly brown hair had receded from his forehead.

I ate breakfast with a smile on my face, watching the dust motes stirring in the sunlight that streamed in the back window. Charlie called out a goodbye, and I heard the cruiser pull away from the house. I hesitated on my way out the door, hand on my rain jacket. It would be tempting fate to leave it home. I folded it over my arm and stepped out into the brightest light I’d seen in months.

After a short battle, I was able to get both windows in the truck almost completely rolled down. I was one of the first ones to school; I hadn’t even checked the clock in my hurry to get outside. I parked and headed toward the picnic benches on the south side of the cafeteria. The benches were still damp, so I sat on my jacket, glad to have a use for it. My homework was done, but there were a few Trig problems I wasn’t sure I had right. I took out my book, but halfway through rechecking the first problem my mind was wandering, watching the sunlight play on the red-barked trees. I sketched mindlessly along the margins of my homework. After a few minutes, I realized I’d drawn five pairs of dark eyes staring off the page at me. I scrubbed them out with the eraser.

“Beau!” I heard someone call, and it sounded like McKayla. I looked around to see that the school had filled with kids while I’d been sitting here. Everyone was in t-shirts, some even in shorts though the temperature couldn’t be over sixty. McKayla was coming toward me in a skirt that only reached the middle of her thighs and a tank top.

“Hey, McKayla,” I answered.

She came to sit with me, the sun shimmering off her freshly straightened hair, a grin stretching across her face. She was so happy to see me, I couldn’t help but feel responsive.

“Great day, isn’t it?”

“My kind of day,” I agreed.

“What did you do yesterday?” There was an annoying sense of ownership in her question, and it reminded me of what Jules had said on Saturday. People thought I was her boyfriend because that was what McKayla wanted them to think.

But I was in too good of a mood to let it get to me now. “I mostly worked on my essay.”

“Oh yeah—that’s due Thursday, right?”

“Um, Wednesday, I think.”

“Wednesday?” Her smile disappeared. “That’s not good. I guess I’ll have to get to work on that tonight.” She frowned. “I was going to ask if you wanted to go out.”

“Oh.” I was thrown. Why couldn’t I ever have a conversation with McKayla anymore without it getting awkward?

“Well, we still could go to dinner or something… and I could work on it later.” She smiled at me hopefully.

“McKayla…” Here comes the guilt, I thought. “I don’t think that would be the best idea.”

Her face fell. “Why?” she asked, her eyes guarded. My thoughts flashed to Edythe, and I wondered if McKayla was thinking the same thing.

“Look, I’m breaking all kinds of man codes telling you this, so don’t rat me out, okay?”

“Man codes?” she repeated, mystified.

“Jeremy’s my friend, and if I went out with you, well, it would upset him.”

She stared at me.

“I never said any of this, okay? It’s your word against mine.”

“Jeremy?” she asked, her voice blank with surprise.

“Seriously, are you blind?”

“Oh,” she exhaled—looking dazed. Time to escape.

I stuffed the book in my bag. “I don’t want to be late again. I’m already on Mason’s list.”

We walked in silence to building three, her expression distracted. I hoped whatever thoughts she was immersed in were leading her in the right direction.

When I saw Jeremy in Trig, he was just as fired up by the sunny day as I was. He, Allen, and Logan were headed into Port Angeles to catch a movie and order corsages for the dance, and I was invited. I was indecisive. It would be nice to get out of town, but Logan would be there. And who knew what I might be doing tonight.… But that was definitely the wrong thing to think about. Of course I was happy to see the sun again. But that wasn’t totally responsible for the mood I was in, not even close.

So I gave him a maybe, lying about homework I had to catch up on.

Finally we were on our way to lunch. I was so anxious to see not just Edythe, but all the Cullens, that it was almost painful. I had to compare them with the suspicions that were haunting me. Maybe, when we were all together in one room, I would be able to feel sure that I was wrong, that there was nothing sinister about them. As I walked through the doors into the cafeteria, I felt the first tremor of actual fear roll through my stomach. Would they be able to know what I was thinking? And then a different feeling hit my stomach—would Edythe be waiting for me again?

As was my routine, I glanced first toward the Cullens’ table. I felt a small rush of panic when I saw that it was empty. With fading hope, I scoured the rest of the cafeteria, hoping to find her there alone. The place was nearly filled—Spanish had run over—but there was no sign of Edythe or any of her family. Just like that, my good mood was reversed.

We were late enough that everyone was already at our table. I vaguely noticed that McKayla had saved a seat for Jeremy, and that his face lit up in response.


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