Peaches Chapter 3

-oOoOo- Wednesday -oOoOo-

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Wednesday was interesting.

Noodles changed his tactics and ambushed me in the parking lot as I got out of my truck. I concluded I needed a new mission: really try to avoid Mike Noodles.

He took one look at my Notre Dame sweatshirt and asked, “Oh, you’re a fan of the Fighting Irish?”

“No. I bought it because it was green.” I ducked my head and made a beeline for the school, running right into Mr. Long-Tall-and-Lickable near the door.

I rebounded off him and stumbled back, but somehow managed to keep my feet. Then I smelled him. Jessica had been right. If I could bottle that shit I’d be a gazillionaire in a week-and-a-half, and nine months later there’d be a population explosion of the likes the world had never seen.

I stepped toward him and sniffed, long and loud, pulling as much Jasper-scented air into my lungs as possible. I couldn’t really describe what he smelled like but it made me think of the scorching sunshine in the desert southwest, and leather saddles, and cowboys in boots and hats, and thick leather belts with those plate-sized rodeo buckles and leather chaps, and some kind of warm spice, and goddamn if I didn’t want to hop on and ride that cowboy until I fucking screamed. Or he did. Then I’d yell “yippie-ki-ay, motherfucker” and mount that saddle horn again.

Holy shit, if sex could smell like something that’s what it would smell like. Jasper Hale smelled like sex. It just fucking oozed out of him.

I wanted him.

I wanted him bad.

I had a new new mission.

“Er, Bella?”

I opened my eyes, not even realizing I’d shut them. My nose was about two inches away from a denim shirt, and I couldn’t help taking in another deep breath. I think I might have groaned a little.

“Bella?”

It was my buddy Jessica trying to get my attention through the sex-fog-oh-please-fuck-me-now-haze in my brain.

My eyes moved up the placket of the denim shirt, over the collar opened to a deep green turtleneck, and up to the sex god’s face that had the barest trace of five o’clock shadow over his firm jaw and chin that had a hint of a cleft. I quickly considered dropping to my knees in front of the God of Sex and worshiping his …

I licked my lips.

Jessica poked me in the back.

Jasper wasn’t smiling but something in his strangely amber-colored eyes told me he was amused again.

I’d never seen eyes that color before. They were a little darker than his hair. And his hair was beautiful. I could just imagine my fingers combing through those silky, honeyed strands and then clenching fistfuls as I held his face to my …

I quivered.

Jessica tugged at my sleeve, and I stepped back. I looked down his long form and saw he was wearing black cowboy boots, dark blue jeans, and a black leather belt, in addition to the denim shirt and turtleneck. I’d never noticed before how fucking, goddamn sexy turtlenecks were. I smirked up at Jasper and said, “See ya at lunch, cowboy.”

Only his left eyebrow moved an infinitesimal amount.

Jessica yanked me away and hauled me into the school. “Oh, my God! Bella! I can’t believe you ran right into him! You talked to him! Oh, my God!”

“I was trying to get away from Noo … er, Mike and … and why the hell was he standing by the door like that?”

“I don’t know. Alice, Emmett, and Rosalie had already gone inside.” She steered me down the hall toward my English class. “What did it feel like?”

“What?”

“You ran right into his chest.” She rolled her eyes at me like I was the village idiot. Well, I kind of was. “What did it feel like? They’re all so buff!”

“It felt like … hard.”

“What?”

“His chest. It was … hard.”

We stopped in front of the door to my class, and Jessica was shaking her head at me like my position as village idiot had been confirmed.

“I can’t believe you actually talked to him. I can’t ever think of a thing to say. I know I must look like a moron. I mean, they’re all gorgeous, but it’s intimidating and … well, anyhow, where did you come up with cowboy?”

“Uh, he’s wearing boots. I’ll see you in trig, right?”

“Okay, Bella. See ya!” Jessica and her curls bounced on down the corridor.

I walked through the doorway and came to a dead stop. Big Dude was sitting in my seat at the back of the room.

Mr. Dimpleface was grinning like the cat that ate the canary and that made me instantly suspicious. Giving his smiley self another once over, I saw that his colossal form was actually taking up my seat and another one. I sighed wearily and clomped to the back of the room, stopped next to him, and waited for him to get the hell out of my chair.

“Bella, right? I’m Emmett. I was just savin’ you a spot.” He scooted over and patted the seat. His hand was so big it nearly covered it.

“You didn’t need to save it. That is my seat.” I dropped my backpack on the desk and flopped onto the wooden chair. “What are you doing here? This isn’t your class. Aren’t you a senior?”

“Transferred over. Need the credit. I knew that was your seat.” He grinned at me again as he propped his thickly muscled arms on the desk. “You a fan of Notre Dame?”

His eyes were the same color as Jasper’s. I thought they had all been adopted. How could they have the same eye color? Contacts? Talk about family solidarity and shit. Sheesh.

I glanced down at the leprechaun on my jersey. “No. I bought it because it was green.”

He looked a little muddled for a moment then his face brightened again. “Sooooooo … what did you pack for lunch today?”

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-oOoOo-

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Well, that was … bizarre. Emmett was waiting for me outside the door to my trig class and escorted me to lunch. He bought me an orange juice while Jessica followed at a safe distance. Not talking—which was pretty damn odd, too.

When we arrived at my table, Emmett pulled out the chair that Jessica normally sat in and gestured for me to take it. Didn’t want to argue with my new buddy, so I sat down.

He said, “See ya, Babe.” He raised his massive fist, and I bumped it with my teeny tiny one.

“See ya, Big Dude.”

As he sauntered across the cafeteria, I started unloading my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lunch bag. I noticed it was too quiet and looked up. Everybody at the table was staring at me, dumbfounded. Even some of the kids at other tables were gawking at me or watching Emmett walk to his table.

“What?”

Noodles—who hadn’t been near me for a while—gulped and said in awe, “How did you do that?”

“Do what?” I unwrapped the turkey and cucumber slice sandwich and took a bite.

“He sat next to you in English, and he’s a senior. What’s he doing in eleventh grade English Lit? Then he walked you here, and … and … he fist bumped you and called you babe.”

I sighed in exasperation. “Have any of you tried to even talk to any of them? Emmett’s funny as shit. It’s a wonder we weren’t kicked out of class or got detention or something, though detention with Emmett would be hilarious.”

While they all looked at me with some strange mixture of admiration and amazement, I pulled the top off my container of peach slices. I peered across the room to check out my new bud’s table.

I noticed that from my new position, I had almost a direct view of Jasper. I also noticed that he and Emmett were sitting next to each other on one side of the table, and Alice and Rosalie were on the other side. The tiny, dark-haired girl used to sit next to Jasper.

Of course, Pencil-neckward wasn’t back yet from his vacation or committal or whatever, but up until then they had stayed in their usual seats. Then they switched. I couldn’t figure it out.

Something was going on.

Did my new pal have some sort of ulterior motive in seating me in Jessica’s usual chair?

Was he up to something? A senior showing up in a junior’s English lit class, sitting next to me, walking me to lunch, and blowing everybody’s mind?

Was he setting me up? Was it a big joke on the new kid in school?

The game was afoot.

I’d figure it out eventually, but it was time to commence with my new mission. Using my fingers, I plucked a peach slice out of the plastic bowl and slowly lifted it, watching Jasper from the corner of my eye. As I raised it up, I opened my mouth and started to stick my tongue out to catch the syrup that dripped from it. I licked the tip then slowly sucked it into my mouth.

Reaching for the second slice, I heard Noodles give out a strangled cough, and Eric suddenly had to leave the table.

“What are you doing, Bella?” Jessica asked me tensely through her teeth.

“Eating. Why?” I innocently asked.

“Er, nothing. So, Lauren, did you see this article in the new Cosmo?” Jessica turned away from me and slapped the glossy magazine down on the table in front of Lauren who was giving me the stink eye because Tyler was ogling me.

Well, you know what they say in the old country: fuck ‘em.

I was on a highly sensitive and conceivably dangerous mission. Collateral damage was always a possibility.

I fished out another peach slice and held it up. I noticed that Jasper had pushed his lunch tray away, and his right hand was spread out flat on the table top. I let a few drops of the syrupy juice drip onto my mouth and then I sucked the slice through my lips. I looked directly at Jasper, and using the index finger of my left hand, I started at my chin and gathered the sticky drops that had fallen.

Beginning low on my finger, I ran my tongue very deliberately up the side. When I reached the tip, I pursed my lips and slid it into my mouth.

A few things happened then. Noodles let out a weird “urp” noise. Lauren screeched angrily and flounced away from the table, hauling the bug-eyed Tyler behind her. Angela and Ben, who had been absorbed in each other, glanced around curiously, shrugged their shoulders and put their heads back together over some palm pilot pad thing. Jessica was staring at me in shock with her mouth hanging open.

And Jasper’s hand closed into a tight fist.

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-oOoOo- 3 -oOoOo-

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