*by Stephenie Meyer*
NEW MOON - chapter 1 - PARTY
The sight of Alice there - her tawny eyes brilliant with excitement, and a smel silver-wrapped quare in her hands - made me frown. I'd told Alice I didn't want anything, anything, not gifts या even attention, for my birthday. Obviously, my wishes were being ignored.
I slammed the door of my '53 Chevy truck - a शावर, शॉवर of rust specks fluttered down to the wet blacktop - and walked slowly toward where they waited. Alice skipped आगे to me, her pixie face glowing under her spiky black hair.
"Happy birthday, Bella!"
"Shh!" I hissed, glancing around the lot to make sure no one had heard her. The last thing I wanted was some kind of celebration of the black event.
She ignored me. "Do आप want to open your present now या later?" she asked eagerly as we made our way to where Edward still waited.
"No presents," I protested in a mumble.
She finally seemed to process my mood. "Okay... later, then. Did आप liek the scrapbook your mom sent you? And the camera from Charlie?"
I sighed. Of course she would know what my birthday presents were. Edward wasn't the only member of his family with unusual skills. Alice would have "seen" what my parents were planning as soon as they'd decided that themselves.
"Yeah. They're great."
"I think it's a nice idea. You're only a senior once. Might as well document the experience."
"How many times have you been a senior?"
We reached Edward then, and he held out his hand for mine. I took it eagerly, forgetting, for a moment, my glum mood. His skin was, as always, smooth, hard, and very cold. He gave my fingers a gentle squeeze. i looked into his liquid topaz eyes, and my दिल gave a not-quite-so-gentle squeeze of its own. Hearing the stutter in my heartbeats, he smiled again.
He lifted his free hand and traced one cool fingertip around the outside of my lips as he spoke. "So, as discussed, I am not allowed to wish आप a happy birthday, is that correct?"
"Yes. That is correct." I could never quite mimic the flow of his perfect, formal articulation. It was something that could only be picked up in an earlier century.
"Just checking." He ran his hand through his tousled bronze hair. "You might have changed your mind. Most people seem to enjoy things like birthdays and gifts."
Alice laughed, and the sound was all silver, a wind chime. "Of course you'll enjoy it. Everyone is supposed to be nice to आप today and give आप your way, Bella. What's the worst that could happen?" She meant it as a rhetorical question.
"Getting older," I answered anyway, and my voice was not as steady as I wanted it to be.
Beside me, Edward's smile tightened into a hard line.
"Eighteen isn't very old," Alice said. "Don't women usually wait till they're twenty-nine to get upset over birthdays?"
"It's older than Edward," I mumbled.
"Technically," she said, keeping her tone light. "Just द्वारा one little year, though."
And I supposed... if I could be sure of the future I wanted, sure that I would get to spend forever with Edward and Alice and the rest of the Cullens (preferably not as a wrinkled little old lady)... then a साल या two one direction या the other wouldn't matter to me so much. But edward was dead set against any future that changed me. Any future that made me like him - that made me immortal, too.
An impasse, he called it.
I couldn't really see Edward's point, to be honest. What was so great about mortality? Being a vampire didn't look like such a terrible thing - not the way the Cullens did it, anyway.
"What time will आप be at the house?" Alice continued, changing the subject. From her expression, she was up to exactly the kind of thing I'd been hoping to avoid.
"I didn't know I had plans to be there."
"Oh, be fair, Bella!" she complained. "You aren't going to ruin all out fun like that, are you?"
"I thought my birthday was about what I want."
"I'll get her from Charlie's right after school," Edward told her, ignoring me altogether.
"I have to work," I protested.
"You don't, actually," Alice told me smugly. "I already spoke to Mrs. Newton about it. She's trading your shifts. She कहा to tell आप 'Happy Birthday.'"
"I - I still can't come over," I stammered, scrambling for an excuse. "I, well, I haven't watched Romeo and Juliet yet for English."
Alice snorted. "You have Romeo and Juliet memorized."
"But Mr. Betty कहा we needed to see it performed to fully appreciate it - that's how Shakespeare intended it to be presented."
Edward rolled his eyes.
"You've already seen the movie," Alice accused.
"But not the nineteen-sixties version. Mr. Betty कहा it was the best."
Finally Alice लॉस्ट the smug smile and glared at me.
"This can be easy, या this can be hard, Bella, but one way या the other - "
Edward interrupted her threat. "Relax, Alice. If Bella wants to watch a movie, then she can. It's her birthday."
"So there," I added.
"I'll bring her over around seven," he continued. "That will give आप और time to set up."
Alice's laughter chimed again. "Sounds good. See आप tonight, Bella! It'll be fun, you'll see." She grinned - the wide smiled exposed all her perfect, glistening teeth - then pecked me on the cheek and danced off toward her first class before I could respond.
"Edward, please - " I started to beg, but he pressed one cool finger to my lips.
"Let's discuss it later. We're going to be late for class."
No one bothered to stare at us as we took our usual seats in the back of the classroom (we had almost every class together now - it was amazing the favors Edward could get the female administrators to do for him). Edward and I had been together too long now to be an object of gossip anymore. Even Mike Newton didn't bother to give me the glum stare that used to make me feel a little guilty. He smiled now instead, and I was glad he seemed to have accepted that we could only be friends. Mike had changed over the summer - his face had लॉस्ट some of the roundness, making his cheekbones और prominent, and he was wearing his pale blond hair a new way; instead of bristly, it was longer and gelled into a carefully casual disarray. It was easy to see where his inspiration came from - but Edward's look wasn't something that could be achieved through imitation.