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Seventeen-year-old Bella Swan is moving from Phoenix, Arizona, to Forks, Washington, to live with her father, Charlie. She hates the small, rainy town of Forks but wants to give her mother, Renée, some time and space to enjoy her relationship with her new boyfriend, Phil. On Bella’s first day at Forks High School, Bella meets several classmates and notices five strikingly beautiful students sitting together at a lunch table: Edward, Emmett, and Alice Cullen, and Rosalie and Jasper Hale. She learns that they are the adopted children of Dr. Carlisle and Esme Cullen. Later, Bella sits next to Edward in biology class. During their first class together, Edward is hostile towards her, and Bella doesn’t see him at school for the rest of the week.
The following Monday, Edward returns to school and seems friendly. When Bella accidentally touches Edward’s hand, she notes that his hand feels ice-cold, and she experiences a sensation similar to an electric current. She also notices that Edward’s eyes appear to change color; they are gold when he’s in a good mood, and black when he’s angry. Days later, Edward saves Bella from being crushed when a van careens toward her in the school parking lot. He tells her that he was right next to her when the van almost struck her, but she knows that he was across the parking lot and is baffled by his speed and strength. That night, Bella dreams of Edward.
In the weeks that follow, several boys ask Bella to a school dance, but she tells each one that she can’t go because she’s going to Seattle that day. Edward overhears her and asks Bella if she’d like him to drive her to Seattle, though he warns her that they should not become friends. At a weekend beach party, Bella meets Jacob Black, a Quileute teen, who tells her of a Quileute legend that says the Cullens are vampires, albeit ones who hunt animals rather than people. Jacob admits he doesn’t believe this story, but his father Billy does.
One day, when Bella and her friends drive to Port Angeles to shop, Bella wanders away by herself. Just as four men begin to harass Bella, Edward roars up in his car and rescues her. He admits that he can read everyone’s mind except hers and says that he knew what the men were planning. On the way home, Bella admits to Edward that she knows the Cullens are vampires. Edward is surprised when Bella says that his being a vampire doesn’t matter to her. As Bella questions him, Edward dispels myths about vampires sleeping in coffins and not being able to come out in the daytime, and he promises to show Bella how the sun affects him. Once home, Bella decides she’s in love with Edward.
Edward and Bella grow closer, and Edward tells her that his siblings, with the exception of Alice, don’t support their relationship—if Edward were to lose control and harm Bella, it would endanger his entire family. The week before the dance, Edward asks if Bella would accompany him somewhere other than Seattle; the weather is supposed to be sunny that day, and he wants to show her what happens when he goes into sunlight, but he can’t do so in public.
The next day after school as Bella and Edward talk outside her house, Jacob and Billy Black pull up. Edward takes off, but Billy recognizes him and warns Bella to be careful. On Saturday, Edward and Bella drive to the forest and then hike to a meadow. In the sunlight, Edward’s skin glitters as if it’s made of diamonds, and Bella is entranced. Edward confesses that he was tempted to bite Bella when they first met, so he drove to Alaska to get away. Once he believed he could resist his urges, he returned. Edward lifts Bella onto his back and speeds through the forest to her truck, where they kiss for the first time. On the way home, Edward tells Bella he was born in Chicago in 1901 and was dying of influenza in 1918 when Carlisle “saved” him by turning him into a vampire. Eventually, Carlisle found and changed Esme, Alice, and the others, expanding the Cullen family. Edward admits that he spies on Bella almost every night and hears her talking in her sleep. He reveals that this is the first time he’s been in love.
The next day, Edward brings Bella to meet his family. Alice, who can see into the future, has a vision of a storm coming, so the family decides to play baseball because the thunder will hide the noise of their game. Bella goes home to change and finds Billy and Jacob Black outside her house. Once again, Billy warns Bella that Edward is dangerous. When Charlie comes home, Bella tells him she is dating Edward, and he is surprised but accepting of their relationship. Edward soon returns, introduces himself to Charlie, and takes Bella to a field deep in the forest to play baseball with his family.
During the game, three vampires approach the Cullens. A breeze ruffles Bella’s hair, revealing her human scent to James, one of the new vampires. Suddenly, James and Edward crouch and growl at each other: it’s clear that James wants to kill Bella. Edward, Alice, and Emmett take Bella from the field and debate what to do. Bella comes up with a plan that will protect Charlie from danger and prevent James from finding her. Back at home, she pretends that she’s broken up with Edward, and she tells Charlie that she’s going back to Phoenix. Alice and Jasper drive south to Phoenix with Bella. Edward, Carlisle, and Emmett plan to draw James in the opposite direction and then attack him.
The next day, Alice, Jasper, and Bella check into a hotel room in Phoenix. There, Alice has a vision of two rooms: Bella identifies one as her former dance studio and the other as a room in her mother’s house. Edward informs Bella that James eluded them and got on a plane, and tells her that he, Carlisle, and Emmett are going to fly to Phoenix to protect her. The phone rings early the next morning, and when Bella answers, she hears her mother’s voice saying her name. James’ voice cuts in, and he tells Bella that he has Renée. He says that Bella must slip away from Alice and Jasper and go to her mother’s house; her mother’s life depends on it. When Bella, Alice, and Jasper go to the airport to meet the others, Bella sneaks away.
Once at her mother’s house, Bella gets a phone call from James, who tells her to go to her old dance studio. Upon arriving at the studio, Bella sees Renée on a TV screen and realizes that James used an old film to trick Bella into thinking that he had her mother. James viciously attacks Bella and she passes out. As she regains consciousness, she hears Edward calling her name. Carlisle tends to her injuries and discovers that James bit her hand. To prevent her from turning into a vampire, Carlisle instructs Edward to suck the venom from Bella’s blood. Edward is afraid to taste Bella’s blood, unsure if he’ll be able to stop once the venom is gone, but he finally decides to do it.
Days later, Bella wakes up in a hospital room. Edward tells her that Emmett and Jasper killed James, and says that his being able to stop drinking her blood is proof of how much he loves her. To explain Bella’s injuries to her parents, Edward says she fell down two flights of stairs and through a window. Bella asks Edward why he won’t change her into a vampire, and they argue. When Bella has recovered from most of her injuries, Edward takes her to the prom, saying that he doesn’t want her to miss out on any human experiences. Bella is disappointed that Edward won’t change her, but he promises that he’ll stay with her and she decides that is good enough for now. As they dance, Edward smiles and leans down to kiss Bella’s throat.