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 Eclipse / 7. Unhappy Endıng

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Kayıt tarihi : 07/03/10
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MesajKonu: Eclipse / 7. Unhappy Endıng   Ptsi Mart 08, 2010 1:00 pm

"Of course," I replied, my voice an octave high with surprise. "Come on in."
I sat up, sliding to the end of the sofa to make room. My stomach twisted nervously as the
one Cullen who did not like me moved silently to sit down in the open space. I tried to come
up with a reason why she would want to see me, but my mind was a blank on that point.
"Do you mind talking to me for a few minutes?" she asked. "I didn't wake you or anything,
did I?" Her eyes shifted to the stripped bed and back to my couch.
"No, I was awake. Sure, we can talk." I wondered if she could hear the alarm in my voice as
clearly as I could.
She laughed lightly, and it sounded like a chorus of bells. "He so rarely leaves you alone," she
said. "I figured I'd better make the best of this opportunity."
What did she want to say that couldn't be said in front of Edward? My hands twisted and
untwisted around the edge of the comforter.
"Please don't think I'm horribly interfering," Rosalie said, her voice gentle and almost
pleading. She folded her hands in her lap and looked down at them as she spoke. "I'm sure
I've hurt your feelings enough in the past, and I don't want to do that again."
"Don't worry about it, Rosalie. My feelings are great. What is it?"
She laughed again, sounding oddly embarrassed. "I'm going to try to tell you why I think you
should stay human - why I would stay human if I were you."
She smiled at the shocked tone of my voice, and then she sighed.
"Did Edward ever tell you what led to this?" she asked, gesturing to her glorious immortal
I nodded slowly, suddenly somber. "He said it was close to what happened to me that time in
Port Angeles, only no one was there to save you ." I shuddered at the memory.
"Is that really all he told you?" she asked.
"Yes," I said, my voice blank with confusion. "Was there more?"
She looked up at me and smiled; it was a harsh, bitter - but still stunning - expression.
"Yes," she said. "There was more."
I waited while she stared out the window. She seemed to be trying to calm herself.
"Would you like to hear my story, Bella? It doesn't have a happy ending - but which of ours
does? If we had happy endings, we'd all be under gravestones now."
I nodded, though I was frightened by the edge in her voice.
"I lived in a different world than you do, Bella. My human world was a much simpler place.
It was nineteen thirty-three. I was eighteen, and I was beautiful. My life was perfect."
She stared out the window at the silver clouds, her expression far away.
"My parents were thoroughly middle class. My father had a stable job in a bank, something I
realize now that he was smug about - he saw his prosperity as a reward for talent and hard
work, rather than acknowledging the luck involved. I took it all for granted then; in my
home, it was as if the Great Depression was only a troublesome rumor. Of course I saw the
poor people, the ones who weren't as lucky. My father left me with the impression that they'd
brought their troubles on themselves.
"It was my mother's job to keep our house - and myself and my two younger brothers - in
spotless order. It was clear that I was both her first priority and her favorite. I didn't fully
understand at the time, but I was always vaguely aware that my parents weren't satisfied
with what they had, even if it was so much more than most. They wanted more. They had
social aspirations - social climbers, I suppose you could call them. My beauty was like a gift
to them. They saw so much more potential in it than I did.
"They weren't satisfied, but I was. I was thrilled to be me, to be Rosalie Hale. Pleased that
men's eyes watched me everywhere I went, from the year I turned twelve. Delighted that my
girlfriends sighed with envy when they touched my hair. Happy that my mother was proud of
me and that my father liked to buy me pretty dresses.
"I knew what I wanted out of life, and there didn't seem to be any way that I wouldn't get
exactly what I wanted. I wanted to be loved, to be adored. I wanted to have a huge, flowery
wedding, where everyone in town would watch me walk down the aisle on my father's arm
and think I was the most beautiful thing they'd ever seen. Admiration was like air to me,
Bella. I was silly and shallow, but I was content." She smiled, amused at her own evaluation.
"My parents' influence had been such that I also wanted the material things of life. I wanted a
big house with elegant furnishings that someone else would clean and a modern kitchen that
someone else would cook in. As I said, shallow. Young and very shallow. And I didn't see
any reason why I wouldn't get these things.
"There were a few things I wanted that were more meaningful. One thing in particular. My
very closest friend was a girl named Vera. She married young, just seventeen. She married a
man my parents would never have considered for me - a carpenter. A year later she had a son,
a beautiful little boy with dimples and curly black hair. It was the first time I'd ever felt truly
jealous of anyone else in my entire life."
She looked at me with unfathomable eyes. "It was a different time. I was the same age as
you, but I was ready for it all. I yearned for my own little baby. I wanted my own house and a
husband who would kiss me when he got home from work - just like Vera. Only I had a very
different kind of house in mind. . . ."
It was hard for me to imagine the world that Rosalie had known. Her story sounded more
like a fairy tale than history to me. With a slight shock, I realized that this was very close to
the world that Edward would have experienced when he was human, the world he had
grown up in. I wondered - while Rosalie sat silent for a moment - if my world seemed as
baffling to him as Rosalie's did to me?
Rosalie sighed, and when she spoke again her voice was different, the wistfulness gone.
"In Rochester, there was one royal family - the Kings, ironically enough. Royce King owned
the bank my father worked at, and nearly every other really profitable business in town.
That's how his son, Royce King the Second" - her mouth twisted around the name, it came
out through her teeth - "saw me the first time. He was going to take over at the bank, and so
he began overseeing the different positions. Two days later, my mother conveniently forgot
to send my father's lunch to work with him. I remember being confused when she insisted
that I wear my white organza and roll my hair up just to run over to the bank." Rosalie
laughed without humor.
"I didn't notice Royce watching me particularly. Everyone watched me. But that night the
first of the roses came. Every night of our courtship, he sent a bouquet of roses to me. My
room was always overflowing with them. It got to the point that I would smell like roses
when I left the house.
"Royce was handsome, too. He had lighter hair than I did, and pale blue eyes. He said my
eyes were like violets, and then those started showing up alongside the roses.
"My parents approved - that's putting it mildly. This was everything they'd dreamed of. And
Royce seemed to be everything I'd dreamed of. The fairy tale prince, come to make me a
princess. Everything I wanted, yet it was still no more than I expected. We were engaged
before I'd known him for two months.
"We didn't spend a great deal of time alone with each other. Royce told me he had many
responsibilities at work, and, when we were together, he liked people to look at us, to see me
on his arm. I liked that, too. There were lots of parties, dancing, and pretty dresses. When
you were a King, every door was open for you, every red carpet rolled out to greet you.
"It wasn't a long engagement. Plans went ahead for the most lavish wedding. It was going to
be everything I'd ever wanted. I was completely happy. When I called at Vera's, I no longer
felt jealous. I pictured my fair-haired children playing on the huge lawns of the Kings' estate,
and I pitied her."
Rosalie broke off suddenly, clenching her teeth together. It pulled me out of her story, and I
realized that the horror was not far off. There would be no happy ending, as she'd promised. I
wondered if this was why she had so much more bitterness in her than the rest of them -
because she'd been within reach of everything she'd wanted when her human life was cut
"I was at Vera's that night," Rosalie whispered. Her face was smooth as marble, and as hard.
"Her little Henry really was adorable, all smiles and dimples - he was just sitting up on his
own. Vera walked me to the door as I was leaving, her baby in her arms and her husband at
her side, his arm around her waist. He kissed her on the cheek when he thought I wasn't
looking. That bothered me. When Royce kissed me, it wasn't quite the same - not so sweet
somehow. . . . I shoved that thought aside. Royce was my prince. Someday, I would be
It was hard to tell in the moonlight, but it looked like her bone white face got paler.
"It was dark in the streets, the lamps already on. I hadn't realized how late it was." She
continued to whisper almost inaudibly. "It was cold, too. Very cold for late April. The
wedding was only a week away, and I was worrying about the weather as I hurried home - I
can remember that clearly. I remember every detail about that night. I clung to it so hard . . .
in the beginning. I thought of nothing else. And so I remember this, when so many pleasant
memories have faded away completely. . . ."
She sighed, and began whispering again. "Yes, I was worrying about the weather. . . . I didn't
want to have to move the wedding indoors. . . .
"I was a few streets from my house when I heard them. A cluster of men under a broken
streetlamp, laughing too loud. Drunk. I wished I'd called my father to escort me home, but
the way was so short, it seemed silly. And then he called my name.
"'Rose!' he yelled, and the others laughed stupidly.
"I hadn't realized the drunks were so well dressed. It was Royce and some of his friends, sons
of other rich men.
"'Here's my Rose!' Royce shouted, laughing with them, sounding just as stupid. 'You're late.
We're cold, you've kept us waiting so long.'"
"I'd never seen him drink before. A toast, now and then, at a party. He'd told me he didn't
like champagne. I hadn't realized that he preferred something much stronger.
"He had a new friend - the friend of a friend, come up from Atlanta.
"'What did I tell you, John,' Royce crowed, grabbing my arm and pulling me closer. 'Isn't she
lovelier than all your Georgia peaches?'
"The man named John was dark-haired and suntanned. He looked me over like I was a horse
he was buying.
"'It's hard to tell,' he drawled slowly. 'She's all covered up.'
"They laughed, Royce like the rest.
"Suddenly, Royce ripped my jacket from my shoulders - it was a gift from him - popping the
brass buttons off. They scattered all over the street.
"'Show him what you look like, Rose!' He laughed again and then he tore my hat out of my
hair. The pins wrenched my hair from the roots, and I cried out in pain. They seemed to enjoy
that - the sound of my pain. . . ."
Rosalie looked at me suddenly, as if she'd forgotten I was there. I was sure my face was as
white as hers. Unless it was green.
"I won't make you listen to the rest," she said quietly. "They left me in the street, still
laughing as they stumbled away. They thought I was dead. They were teasing Royce that he
would have to find a new bride. He laughed and said he'd have to learn some patience first.
"I waited in the road to die. It was cold, though there was so much pain that I was surprised
it bothered me. It started to snow, and I wondered why I wasn't dying. I was impatient for
death to come, to end the pain. It was taking so long. . . .
"Carlisle found me then. He'd smelled the blood, and come to investigate. I remember being
vaguely irritated as he worked over me, trying to save my life. I'd never liked Dr. Cullen or
his wife and her brother - as Edward pretended to be then. It had upset me that they were all
more beautiful than I was, especially that the men were. But they didn't mingle in society, so
I'd only seen them once or twice.
"I thought I'd died when he pulled me from the ground and ran with me - because of the
speed - it felt like I was flying. I remembered being horrified that the pain didn't stop. . . .
"Then I was in a bright room, and it was warm. I was slipping away, and I was grateful as the
pain began to dull. But suddenly something sharp was cutting me, my throat, my wrists, my
ankles. I screamed in shock, thinking he'd brought me there to hurt me more. Then fire
started burning through me, and I didn't care about anything else. I begged him to kill me.
When Esme and Edward returned home, I begged them to kill me, too. Carlisle sat with me.
He held my hand and said that he was so sorry, promising that it would end. He told me
everything, and sometimes I listened. He told me what he was, what I was becoming. I didn't
believe him. He apologized each time I screamed.
"Edward wasn't happy. I remember hearing them discuss me. I stopped screaming sometimes.
It did no good to scream.
"'What were you thinking, Carlisle?' Edward said. 'Rosalie Hale?'" Rosalie imitated Edward's
irritated tone to perfection. "I didn't like the way he said my name, like there was something
wrong with me.
"'I couldn't just let her die,' Carlisle said quietly. 'It was too much - too horrible, too much
"'I know,' Edward said, and I thought he sounded dismissive. It angered me. I didn't know
then that he really could see exactly what Carlisle had seen.
"'It was too much waste. I couldn't leave her,' Carlisle repeated in a whisper.
"'Of course you couldn't,' Esme agreed.
"'People die all the time,' Edward reminded him in a hard voice. 'Don't you think she's just a
little recognizable, though? The Kings will have to put up a huge search - not that anyone
suspects the fiend,' he growled.
"It pleased me that they seemed to know that Royce was guilty.
"I didn't realize that it was almost over - that I was getting stronger and that was why I was
able to concentrate on what they were saying. The pain was beginning to fade from my
"'What are we going to do with her?' Edward said disgustedly - or that's how it sounded to
me, at least.
"Carlisle sighed. 'That's up to her, of course. She may want to go her own way.'
"I'd believed enough of what he'd told me that his words terrified me. I knew that my life
was ended, and there was no going back for me. I couldn't stand the thought of being alone. .
. .
"The pain finally ended and they explained to me again what I was. This time I believed. I
felt the thirst, my hard skin; I saw my brilliant red eyes.
"Shallow as I was, I felt better when I saw my reflection in the mirror the first time. Despite
the eyes, I was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen." She laughed at herself for a moment.
"It took some time before I began to blame the beauty for what had happened to me - for me
to see the curse of it. To wish that I had been . . . well, not ugly, but normal. Like Vera. So I
could have been allowed to marry someone who lovedme, and have pretty babies. That's
what I'd really wanted, all along. It still doesn't seem like too much to have asked for."
She was thoughtful for a moment, and I wondered if she'd forgotten my presence again. But
then she smiled at me, her expression suddenly triumphant.
"You know, my record is almost as clean as Carlisle's," she told me. "Better than Esme. A
thousand times better than Edward. I've never tasted human blood," she announced proudly.
She understood my puzzled expression as I wondered why her record was onlyalmost as
"I did murder five humans," she told me in a complacent tone. "If you can really call
themhuman . But I was very careful not to spill their blood - I knew I wouldn't be able to
resist that, and I didn't want any part of themin me, you see.
"I saved Royce for last. I hoped that he would hear of his friends' deaths and understand,
know what was coming for him. I hoped the fear would make the end worse for him. I think
it worked. He was hiding inside a windowless room behind a door as thick as a bank vault's,
guarded outside by armed men, when I caught up with him. Oops - seven murders," she
corrected herself. "I forgot about his guards. They only took a second."
"I was overly theatrical. It was kind of childish, really. I wore a wedding dress I'd stolen for
the occasion. He screamed when he saw me. He screamed a lot that night. Saving him for
last was a good idea - it made it easier for me to control myself, to make it slower -"
She broke off suddenly, and she glanced down at me. "I'm sorry," she said in a chagrined
voice. "I'm frightening you, aren't I?"
"I'm fine," I lied.
"I got carried away."
"Don't worry about it."
"I'm surprised Edward didn't tell you more about it."
"He doesn't like to tell other people's stories - he feels like he's betraying confidences,
because he hears so much more than just the parts they mean for him to hear."
She smiled and shook her head. "I probably ought to give him more credit. He's really quite
decent, isn't he?"
"Ithink so."
"I can tell." Then she sighed. "I haven't been fair to you, either, Bella. Did he tell you why?
Or was that too confidential?"
"He said it was because I was human. He said it was harder for you to have someone on the
outside who knew."
Rosalie's musical laughter interrupted me. "Now I really feel guilty. He's been much, much
kinder to me than I deserve." She seemed warmer as she laughed, like she'd let down some
guard that had never been absent in my presence before. "What a liar that boy is." She
laughed again.
"He was lying?" I asked, suddenly wary.
"Well, that's probably putting it too strongly. He just didn't tell you the whole story. What he
told you was true, even truer now than it was before. However, at the time . . ." She broke
off, chuckling nervously. "It's embarrassing. You see, at first, I was mostly jealous because he
wantedyou and not me."
Her words sent a thrill of fear through me. Sitting there in the silver light, she was more
beautiful than anything else I could imagine. I could not compete with Rosalie.
"But you love Emmett . . . ," I mumbled.
She shook her head back and forth, amused. "I don't want Edward that way, Bella. I never
did - I love him as a brother, but he's irritated me from the first moment I heard him speak.
You have to understand, though . . . I was so used to people wantingme . And Edward
wasn't the least bit interested. It frustrated me, even offended me in the beginning. But he
never wanted anyone, so it didn't bother me long. Even when we first met Tanya's clan in
Denali - all those females! - Edward never showed the slightest preference. And then he met
you." She looked at me with confused eyes. I was only half paying attention. I was thinking
about Edward and Tanya andall those females, and my lips pressed together in a hard line.
"Not that you aren't pretty, Bella," she said, misreading my expression. "But it just meant
that he found you more attractive than me. I'm vain enough that I minded."
"But you said 'at first.' That doesn't still . . . bother you, does it? I mean, we both know
you're the most beautiful person on the planet."
I laughed at having to say the words - it was so obvious. How odd that Rosalie should need
such reassurances.
Rosalie laughed, too. "Thanks, Bella. And no, it doesn't really bother me anymore. Edward
has always been a little strange." She laughed again.
"But you still don't like me," I whispered.
Her smile faded. "I'm sorry about that."
We sat in silence for a moment, and she didn't seem inclined to go on.
"Would you tell me why? Did I do something . . . ?" Was she angry that I'd put her family -
her Emmett - in danger? Time and time again. James, and now Victoria . . .
"No, you haven't done anything," she murmured. "Not yet."
I stared at her, perplexed.
"Don't you see, Bella?" Her voice was suddenly more passionate than before, even while
she'd told her unhappy story. "You already haveeverything . You have a whole life ahead of
you - everything I want. And you're going to justthrow it away . Can't you see that I'd trade
everything I have to be you? You have the choice that I didn't have, and you're
choosingwrong !"
I flinched back from her fierce expression. I realized my mouth had fallen open and I snapped
it shut.
She stared at me for a long moment and, slowly, the fervor in her eyes dimmed. Abruptly, she
was abashed.
"And I was so sure that I could do this calmly." She shook her head, seeming a little dazed by
the flood of emotion. "It's just that it's harder now than it was then, when it was no more
than vanity."
She stared at the moon in silence. It was a few moments before I was brave enough to break
into her reverie.
"Would you like me better if I chose to stay human?"
She turned back to me, her lips twitching into a hint of a smile. "Maybe."
"You did get some of your happy ending, though," I reminded her. "You got Emmett."
"I got half." She grinned. "You know that I saved Emmett from a bear that was mauling him,
and carried him home to Carlisle. But can you guess why I stopped the bear from eating
I shook my head.
"With the dark curls . . . the dimples that showed even while he was grimacing in pain . . .
the strange innocence that seemed so out of place on a grown man's face . . . he reminded me
of Vera's little Henry. I didn't want him to die - so much that, even though I hated this life, I
was selfish enough to ask Carlisle to change him for me.
"I got luckier than I deserved. Emmett is everything I would have asked for if I'd known
myself well enough to know what to ask for. He's exactly the kind of person someone like
me needs. And, oddly enough, he needs me, too. That part worked out better than I could
have hoped. But there will never be more than the two of us. And I'll never sit on a porch
somewhere, with him gray-haired by my side, surrounded by our grandchildren."
Her smile was kind now. "That sounds quite bizarre to you, doesn't it? In some ways, you are
much more mature than I was at eighteen. But in other ways . . . there are many things
you've probably never thought about seriously. You're too young to know what you'll want
in ten years, fifteen years - and too young to give it all up without thinking it through. You
don't want to be rash about permanent things, Bella." She patted my head, but the gesture
didn't feel condescending.
I sighed.
"Just think about it a little. Once it's done, it can't be undone. Esme's made do with us as
substitutes . . . and Alice doesn't remember anything human so she can't miss it. . . . You will
remember, though. It's a lot to give up."
But more to get in return,I didn't say aloud. "Thanks, Rosalie. It's nice to understand . . . to
know you better."
"I apologize for being such a monster." She grinned. "I'll try to behave myself from now on."
I grinned back at her.
We weren't friends yet, but I was pretty sure she wouldn't always hate me so much.
"I'll let you sleep now." Rosalie's eyes flickered to the bed, and her lips twitched. "I know
you're frustrated that he's keeping you locked up like this, but don't give him too bad a time
when he gets back. He loves you more than you know. It terrifies him to be away from you."
She got up silently and ghosted to the door. "Goodnight, Bella," she whispered as she shut it
behind herself.
"Goodnight, Rosalie," I murmured a second too late.
It took me a long time to fall asleep after that.
When I did sleep, I had a nightmare. I was crawling across the dark, cold stones of an
unfamiliar street, under lightly falling snow, leaving a trail of blood smeared behind me. A
shadowy angel in a long white dress watched my progress with resentful eyes.
The next morning, Alice drove me to school while I stared grumpily out the windshield. I
was feeling sleep-deprived, and it made the irritation of my imprisonment that much stronger.
"Tonight we'll go out to Olympia or something," she promised. "That would be fun, right?"
"Why don't you just lock me in the basement," I suggested, "and forget the sugar coating?"
Alice frowned. "He's going to take the Porsche back. I'm not doing a very good job. You're
supposed to be having fun."
"It's not your fault," I muttered. I couldn't believe I actually felt guilty. "I'll see you at lunch."
I trudged off to English. Without Edward, the day was guaranteed to be unbearable. I sulked
through my first class, well aware that my attitude wasn't helping anything.
When the bell rang, I got up without much enthusiasm. Mike was there at the door, holding
it open for me.
"Edward hiking this weekend?" he asked sociably as we walked out into the light rain.
"You want to do something tonight?"
How could he still sound hopeful?
"Can't. I've got a slumber party," I grumbled. He gave me a strange look as he processed my
"Who are you -"
Mike's question was cut short as a loud, growling roar erupted from behind us in the parking
lot. Everyone on the sidewalk turned to look, staring in disbelief as the noisy black
motorcycle screeched to a stop on the edge of the concrete, the engine still snarling.
Jacob waved to me urgently.
"Run, Bella!" he yelled over the engine's roar.
I was frozen for a second before I understood.
I looked at Mike quickly. I knew I only had seconds.
How far would Alice go to restrain me in public?
"I got really sick and went home, okay?" I said to Mike, my voice filled with sudden
"Fine," he muttered.
I pecked Mike swiftly on the cheek. "Thanks, Mike. I owe you one!" I called as I sprinted
Jacob revved his engine, grinning. I jumped on the back of his seat, wrapping my arms tightly
around his waist.
I caught sight of Alice, frozen at the edge of the cafeteria, her eyes sparking with fury, her lip
curled back over her teeth.
I shot her one pleading glance.
Then we were racing across the blacktop so fast that my stomach got lost somewhere behind
"Hold on," Jacob shouted.
I hid my face in his back as he sped down the highway. I knew he would slow down when
we hit the Quileute border. I just had to hold on till then. I prayed silently and fervently that
Alice wouldn't follow, and that Charlie wouldn't happen to see me. . . .
It was obvious when we had reached the safe zone. The bike slowed, and Jacob straightened
up and howled with laughter. I opened my eyes.
"We made it," he shouted. "Not bad for a prison break, eh?"
"Good thinking, Jake."
"I remembered what you said about the psychic leech not being about to predict whatI'm
going to do. I'm gladyou didn't think of this - she wouldn't have let you go to school."
"That's why I didn't consider it."
He laughed triumphantly. "What do you want to do today?"
"Anything!" I laughed back. It felt great to be free.
of himself for engineering my escape.
"Do you think they'll come looking for you?" he asked, sounding hopeful.
"No." I was certain about that. "They're going to be furious with me tonight, though."
He picked up a rock and chucked it into the waves. "Don't go back, then," he suggested
"Charlie would love that," I said sarcastically.
"I bet he wouldn't mind."
I didn't answer. Jacob was probably right, and that made me grind my teeth together.
Charlie's blatant preference for my Quileute friends was so unfair. I wondered if he would
feel the same if he knew the choice was really between vampires and werewolves.
"So what's the latest pack scandal?" I asked lightly.
Jacob skidded to a halt, and he stared down at me with shocked eyes.
"What? That was a joke."
"Oh." He looked away.
I waited for him to start walking again, but he seemed lost in thought.
"Isthere a scandal?" I wondered.
Jacob chuckled once. "I forget what it's like, not having everyone know everything all the
time. Having a quiet, private place inside my head."
We walked along the stony beach quietly for a few minutes.
"So what is it?" I finally asked. "That everyone in your head already knows?"
He hesitated for a moment, as if he weren't sure how much he was going to tell me. Then he
sighed and said, "Quil imprinted. That's three now. The rest of us are starting to get worried.
Maybe it's more common than the stories say. . . ." He frowned, and then turned to stare at
me. He gazed into my eyes without speaking, his eyebrows furrowed in concentration.
"What are you staring at?" I asked, feeling self-conscious.
He sighed. "Nothing."
Jacob started walking again. Without seeming to think about it, he reached out and took my
hand. We paced silently across the rocks.
I thought of how we must look walking hand and hand down the beach - like a couple,
certainly - and wondered if I should object. But this was the way it had always been with
Jacob. . . . No reason to get worked up about it now.
"Why is Quil's imprinting such a scandal?" I asked when it didn't look like he was going to
go on. "Is it because he's the newest one?"
"That doesn't have anything to do with it."
"Then what's the problem?"
"It's another one of those legend things. I wonder when we're going to stop being surprised
that they'reall true?" he muttered to himself.
"Are you going to tell me? Or do I have to guess?"
"You'd never get it right. See, Quil hasn't been hanging out with us, you know, until just
recently. So he hadn't been around Emily's place much."
"Quil imprinted on Emily, too?" I gasped.
"No! I told you not to guess. Emily had her two nieces down for a visit . . . and Quil met
He didn't continue. I thought about that for a moment.
"Emily doesn't want her niece with a werewolf? That's a little hypocritical," I said.
But I could understand why she of all people might feel that way. I thought again of the long
scars that marred her face and extended all the way down her right arm. Sam had lost control
just once when he was standing too close to her. Once was all it took. . . . I'd seen the pain in
Sam's eyes when he looked at what he'd done to Emily. I could understand why Emily might
want to protect her niece from that.
"Would you please stop guessing? You're way off. Emily doesn't mind that part, it's just,
well, a little early."
"What do you meanearly ?"
Jacob appraised me with narrowed eyes. "Try not to be judgmental, okay?"
I nodded cautiously.
"Claire is two," Jacob told me.
Rain started to fall. I blinked furiously as the drops pelted my face.
Jacob waited in silence. He wore no jacket, as usual; the rain left a spatter of dark spots on
his black T-shirt, and dripped through his shaggy hair. His face was expressionless as he
watched mine.
"Quil . . . imprinted . . . with atwo-year-old ?" I was finally able to ask.
"It happens." Jacob shrugged. He bent to grab another rock and sent it flying out into the
bay. "Or so the stories say."
"But she's a baby," I protested.
He looked at me with dark amusement. "Quil's not getting any older," he reminded me, a bit
of acid in his tone. "He'll just have to be patient for a few decades."
"I . . . don't know what to say."
I was trying my hardest not to be critical, but, in truth, I was horrified. Until now, nothing
about the werewolves had bothered me since the day I'd found out they weren't committing
the murders I'd suspected them of.
"You're making judgments," he accused. "I can see it on your face."
"Sorry," I muttered. "But it sounds really creepy."
"It's not like that; you've got it all wrong," Jacob defended his friend, suddenly vehement.
"I've seen what it's like, through his eyes. There's nothingromantic about it at all, not for
Quil, not now." He took a deep breath, frustrated. "It's so hard to describe. It's not like love
at first sight, really. It's more like . . . gravity moves. When you seeher, suddenly it's not the
earth holding you here anymore. She does. And nothing matters more than her. And you
would do anything for her, be anything for her. . . . You become whatever she needs you to
be, whether that's a protector, or a lover, or a friend, or a brother.
"Quil will be the best, kindest big brother any kid ever had. There isn't a toddler on the
planet that will be more carefully looked after than that little girl will be. And then, when
she's older and needs a friend, he'll be more understanding, trustworthy, and reliable than
anyone else she knows. And then, when she's grown up, they'll be as happy as Emily and
Sam." A strange, bitter edge sharpened his tone at the very end, when he spoke of Sam.
"Doesn't Claire get a choice here?"
"Of course. But why wouldn't she choose him, in the end? He'll be her perfect match. Like
he was designed for her alone."
We walked in silence for a moment, till I paused to toss a rock toward the ocean. It fell to the
beach several meters short. Jacob laughed at me.
"We can't all be freakishly strong," I muttered.
He sighed.
"When do you think it will happen for you?" I asked quietly.
His answer was flat and immediate. "Never."
"It's not something you can control, is it?"
He was silent for a few minutes. Unconsciously, we both walked slower, barely moving at
"It's not supposed to be," he admitted. "But you have tosee her - the one that's supposedly
meant for you."
"And you think that if you haven't seen her yet, then she's not out there?" I asked skeptically.
"Jacob, you haven't really seen much of the world - less than me, even."
"No, I haven't," he said in a low voice. He looked at my face with suddenly piercing eyes.
"But I'll never see anyone else, Bella. I only see you. Even when I close my eyes and try to
see something else. Ask Quil or Embry. It drives them all crazy."
I dropped my eyes to the rocks.
We weren't walking anymore. The only sound was of the waves beating against the shore. I
couldn't hear the rain over their roar.
"Maybe I'd better go home," I whispered.
"No!" he protested, surprised by this conclusion.
I looked up at him again, and his eyes were anxious now.
"You have the whole day off, right? The bloodsucker won't be home yet."
I glared at him.
"No offense intended," he said quickly.
"Yes, I have the whole day. But, Jake . . ."
He held up his hands. "Sorry," he apologized. "I won't be like that anymore. I'll just be
I sighed. "But if that's what you'rethinking . . ."
"Don't worry about me," he insisted, smiling with deliberate cheer, too brightly. "I know
what I'm doing. Just tell me if I'm upsetting you."
"I don't know. . . ."
"C'mon, Bella. Let's go back to the house and get our bikes. You've got to ride a motorcycle
regularly to keep it in tune."
"I really don't think I'm allowed."
"By who? Charlie or the blood - orhim ?"
Jacob grinnedmy grin, and he was suddenly the Jacob I missed the most, sunny and warm.
I couldn't help grinning back.
The rain softened, turned to mist.
"I won't tell anyone," he promised.
"Except every one of your friends."
He shook his head soberly and raised his right hand. "I promise not to think about it."
I laughed. "If I get hurt, it was because I tripped."
"Whatever you say."
We rode our motorcycles on the back roads around La Push until the rain made them too
muddy and Jacob insisted that he was going to pass out if he didn't eat soon. Billy greeted
me easily when we got to the house, as if my sudden reappearance meant nothing more
complicated than that I'd wanted to spend the day with my friend. After we ate the
sandwiches Jacob made, we went out to the garage and I helped him clean up the bikes. I
hadn't been here in months - since Edward had returned - but there was no sense of import to
it. It was just another afternoon in the garage.
"This is nice," I commented when he pulled the warm sodas from the grocery bag. "I've
missed this place."
He smiled, looking around at the plastic sheds bolted together over our heads. "Yeah, I can
understand that. All the splendor of the Taj Mahal, without the inconvenience and expense
of traveling to India."
"To Washington's little Taj Mahal," I toasted, holding up my can.
He touched his can to mine.
"Do you remember last Valentine's Day? I think that was the last time you were here - the
last time when things were still . . . normal, I mean."
I laughed. "Of course I remember. I traded a lifetime of servitude for a box of conversation
hearts. That's not something I'm likely to forget."
He laughed with me. "That's right. Hmm, servitude. I'll have to think of something good."
Then he sighed. "It feels like it was years ago. Another era. A happier one."
I couldn't agree with him. This was my happy era now. But I was surprised to realize how
many things I missed from my own personal dark ages. I stared through the opening at the
murky forest. The rain had picked up again, but it was warm in the little garage, sitting next
to Jacob. He was as good as a furnace.
His fingers brushed my hand. "Things have really changed."
"Yeah," I said, and then I reached out and patted the back tire of my bike. "Charlieused to
like me. I hope Billy doesn't say anything about today. . . ." I bit my lip.
"He won't. He doesn't get worked up about things the way Charlie does. Hey, I never did
apologize officially for that stupid move with the bike. I'm real sorry about ratting you out to
Charlie. I wish I hadn't."
I rolled my eyes. "Me, too."
"I'm really, really sorry."
He looked at me hopefully, his wet, tangled black hair sticking up in every direction around
his pleading face.
"Oh, fine! You're forgiven."
"Thanks, Bells!"
We grinned at each other for a second, and then his face clouded over.
"You know that day, when I brought the bike over . . . I've been wanting to ask you
something," he said slowly. "But also . . . not wanting to."
I held very still - a reaction to stress. It was a habit I'd picked up from Edward.
"Were you just being stubborn because you were mad at me, or were you really serious?" he
"About what?" I whispered back, though I was sure I knew what he meant.
He glared at me. "You know. When you said it was none of my business . . . if - if he bit
you." He cringed visibly at the end.
"Jake . . ." My throat felt swollen. I couldn't finish.
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Were you serious?"
He was trembling just slightly. His eyes stayed closed.
"Yes," I whispered.
Jacob inhaled, slow and deep. "I guess I knew that."
I stared at his face, waiting for his eyes to open.
"You know what this will mean?" He demanded suddenly. "You do understand that, don't
you? What will happen if they break the treaty?"
"We'll leave first," I said in a small voice.
His eyes flashed open, their black depths full of anger and pain. "There wasn't a geographic
limit to the treaty, Bella. Our great-grandfathers only agreed to keep the peace because the
Cullens swore that they were different, that humans weren't in danger from them. They
promised they would never kill or change anyone ever again. If they go back on their word,
the treaty is meaningless, and they are no different than any other vampires. Once that's
established, when we find them again -"
"But, Jake, didn't you break the treaty already?" I asked, grasping at straws. "Wasn't part of it
that you not tell people about the vampires? And you told me. So isn't the treaty sort of
moot, anyhow?"
Jacob didn't like the reminder; the pain in his eyes hardened into animosity. "Yeah, I broke
the treaty - back before I believed any of it. And I'm sure they were informed of that." He
glared sourly at my forehead, not meeting my shamed gaze. "But it's not like that gives them
a freebie or anything. There's no fault for a fault. They have only one option if they object to
what I did. The same option we'll have when they break the treaty: to attack. To start the
He made it sound so inevitable. I shuddered.
"Jake, it doesn't have to be that way."
His teeth ground together. "Itis that way."
The silence after his declaration felt very loud.
"Will you never forgive me, Jacob?" I whispered. As soon as I said the words, I wished I
hadn't. I didn't want to hear his answer.
"You won't be Bella anymore," he told me. "My friend won't exist. There'll be no one to
"That sounds like ano, " I whispered.
We faced each other for an endless moment.
"Is this goodbye then, Jake?"
He blinked rapidly, his fierce expression melting in surprise. "Why? We still have a few years.
Can't we be friends until we're out of time?"
"Years? No, Jake, not years." I shook my head, and laughed once without humor. "Weeksis
more accurate."
I was not expecting his reaction.
He was suddenly on his feet, and there was a loudpop as the soda can exploded in his hand.
Soda flew everywhere, soaking me, like it was spraying from a hose.
"Jake!" I started to complain, but I fell silent when I realized that his whole body was
quivering with anger. He glared at me wildly, a growling sound building in his chest.
I froze in place, too shocked to remember how to move.
The shaking rolled through him, getting faster, until it looked like he was vibrating. His
shape blurred. . . .
And then Jacob gritted his teeth together, and the growling stopped. He squeezed his eyes
tight in concentration; the quivering slowed until only his hands were shaking.
"Weeks," Jacob said in a flat monotone.
I couldn't respond; I was still frozen.
He opened his eyes. They were beyond fury now.
"He's going to change you into a filthy bloodsucker in just a fewweeks !" Jacob hissed
through his teeth.
Too stunned to take offense at his words, I just nodded mutely.
His face turned green under the russet skin.
"Of course, Jake," I whispered after a long minute of silence. "He'sseventeen, Jacob. And I
get closer to nineteen every day. Besides, what's the point in waiting? He's all I want. What
else can I do?"
I'd meant that as a rhetorical question.
His words cracked like snaps of a whip. "Anything. Anything else. You'd be better off dead.
I'd rather you were."
I recoiled like he'd slapped me. It hurt worse than if he had.
And then, as the pain shot through me, my own temper burst into flame.
"Maybe you'll get lucky," I said bleakly, lurching to my feet. "Maybe I'll get hit by a truck on
my way back."
I grabbed my motorcycle and pushed it out into the rain. He didn't move as I passed him. As
soon as I was on the small, muddy path, I climbed on and kicked the bike to life. The rear tire
spit a fountain of mud toward the garage, and I hoped that it hit him.
I got absolutely soaked as I sped across the slick highway toward the Cullens' house. The
wind felt like it was freezing the rain against my skin, and my teeth were chattering before I
was halfway there.
Motorcycles were too impractical for Washington. I would sell the stupid thing first chance I
I walked the bike into the Cullens' cavernous garage and was unsurprised to find Alice
waiting for me, perched lightly on the hood of her Porsche. Alice stroked the glossy yellow
"I haven't even had a chance to drive it." She sighed.
"Sorry," I spit through my rattling teeth.
"You look like you could use a hot shower," she said, offhand, as she sprang lightly to her
She pursed her lips, taking in my expression carefully. "Do you want to talk about it?"
She nodded in assent, but her eyes were raging with curiosity.
"Do you want to go to Olympia tonight?"
"Not really. Can't I go home?"
She grimaced.
"Never mind, Alice," I said. "I'll stay if it makes things easier for you."
"Thanks," she sighed in relief.
I went to bed early that night, curling up on his sofa again.
It was still dark when I woke. I was groggy, but I knew it wasn't near morning yet. My eyes
closed, and I stretched, rolling over. It took me a second before I realized that the movement
should have dumped me onto the floor. And that I was much too comfortable.
I rolled back over, trying to see. It was darker than last night - the clouds were too thick for
the moon to shine through.
"Sorry," he murmured so softly that his voice was part of the darkness. "I didn't mean to
wake you."
I tensed, waiting for the fury - both his and mine - but it was only quiet and calm in the
darkness of his room. I could almost taste the sweetness of reunion in the air, a separate
fragrance from the perfume of his breath; the emptiness when we were apart left its own
bitter aftertaste, something I didn't consciously notice until it was removed.
There was no friction in the space between us. The stillness was peaceful - not like the calm
before the tempest, but like a clear night untouched by even the dream of a storm.
And I didn't care that I was supposed to be angry with him. I didn't care that I was supposed
to be angry with everyone. I reached out for him, found his hands in the darkness, and pulled
myself closer to him. His arms encircled me, cradling me to his chest. My lips searched,
hunting along his throat, to his chin, till I finally found his lips.
Edward kissed me softly for a moment, and then he chuckled.
"I was all braced for the wrath that was going to put grizzlies to shame, and this is what I
get? I should infuriate you more often."
"Give me a minute to work up to it," I teased, kissing him again.
"I'll wait as long as you want," he whispered against my lips. His fingers knotted in my hair.
My breath was becoming uneven. "Maybe in the morning."
"Whatever you prefer."
"Welcome home," I said while his cold lips pressed under my jaw. "I'm glad you came back."
"That's a very good thing."
"Mmm," I agreed, tightening my arms around his neck.
His hand curved around my elbow, moving slowly down my arm, across my ribs and over my
waist, tracing along my hip and down my leg, around my knee. He paused there, his hand
curling around my calf. He pulled my leg up suddenly, hitching it around his hip.
I stopped breathing. This wasn't the kind of thing he usually allowed. Despite his cold hands,
I felt suddenly warm. His lips moved in the hollow at the base of my throat.
"Not to bring on the ire prematurely," he whispered, "but do you mind telling me what it is
about this bed that you object to?"
Before I could answer, before I could even concentrate enough to make sense of his words,
he rolled to the side, pulling me on top of him. He held my face in his hands, angling it up so
that his mouth could reach my throat. My breathing was too loud - it was almost
embarrassing, but I couldn't care quite enough to be ashamed.
"The bed?" he asked again. "Ithink it's nice."
"It's unnecessary," I managed to gasp.
He pulled my face back to his, and my lips shaped themselves around his. Slowly this time,
he rolled till he hovered over me. He held himself carefully so that I felt none of his weight,
but I could feel the cool marble of his body press against mine. My heart was hammering so
loudly that it was hard to hear his quiet laughter.
"That's debatable," he disagreed. "This would be difficult on a couch."
Cold as ice, his tongue lightly traced the shape of my lips.
My head was spinning - the air was coming too fast and shallow.
"Did you change your mind?" I asked breathlessly. Maybe he'd rethought all his careful rules.
Maybe there was more significance to this bed than I'd originally guessed. My heart pounded
almost painfully as I waited for his answer.
Edward sighed, rolling back so that we were on our sides again.
"Don't be ridiculous, Bella," he said, disapproval strong in his voice - clearly, he understood
what I meant. "I was just trying to illustrate the benefits of the bed you don't seem to like.
Don't get carried away."
"Too late," I muttered. "And I like the bed," I added.
"Good." I could hear the smile in his voice as he kissed my forehead. "I do, too."
"But I still think it's unnecessary," I continued. "If we're not going to get carried away, what's
the point?"
He sighed again. "For the hundredth time, Bella - it's too dangerous."
"I like danger," I insisted.
"I know." There was a sour edge to his voice, and I realized that he would have seen the
motorcycle in the garage.
"I'll tell you what's dangerous," I said quickly, before he could move to a new topic of
discussion. "I'm going to spontaneously combust one of these days - and you'll have no one
but yourself to blame."
He started to push me away.
"What are you doing?" I objected, clinging to him.
"Protecting you from combustion. If this too much for you. . . ."
"I can handle it," I insisted.
He let me worm myself back into the circle of his arms.
"I'm sorry I gave you the wrong impression," he said. "I didn't mean to make you unhappy.
That wasn't nice."
"Actually, it was very, very nice."
He took a deep breath. "Aren't you tired? I should let you sleep."
"No, I'm not. I don't mind if you want to give me the wrong impression again."
"That's probably a bad idea. You're not the only one who gets carried away."
"Yes, I am," I grumbled.
He chuckled. "You have no idea, Bella. It doesn't help that you are so eager to undermine my
self-control, either."
"I'm not going to apologize for that."
"CanI apologize?"
"For what?"
"You were angry with me, remember?"
"Oh, that."
"I'm sorry. I was wrong. It's much easier to have the proper perspective when I have you
safelyhere ." His arms tightened around me. "I go a little berserk when I try to leave you. I
don't think I'll go so far again. It's not worth it."
I smiled. "Didn't you find any mountain lions?"
"Yes, I did, actually. Still not worth the anxiety. I'm sorry I had Alice hold you hostage,
though. That was a bad idea."
"Yes," I agreed.
"I won't do it again."
"Okay," I said easily. He was already forgiven. "But slumber parties do have their
advantages. . . ." I curled myself closer to him, pressing my lips into the indentation over his
collarbone. "Youcan hold me hostage any time you want."
"Mmm," he sighed. "I may take you up on that."
"So is it my turn now?"
"Your turn?" his voice was confused.
"To apologize."
"What do you have to apologize for?"
"Aren't you mad at me?" I asked blankly.
It sounded like he really meant it.
I felt my eyebrows pull together. "Didn't you see Alice when you got home?"
"Yes - why?"
"Are you going to take her Porsche back?"
"Of course not. It was a gift."
I wished I could see his expression. His voice sounded as if I'd insulted him.
"Don't you want to know what I did?" I asked, starting to be puzzled by his apparent lack of
I felt him shrug. "I'm always interested in everything you do - but you don't have to tell me
unless you want to."
"But I went to La Push."
"I know."
"And I ditched school."
"So did I."
I stared toward the sound of his voice, tracing his features with my fingers, trying to
understand his mood. "Where did all this tolerance come from?" I demanded.
He sighed.
"I decided that you were right. My problem before was more about my . . . prejudice against
werewolves than anything else. I'm going to try to be more reasonable and trust your
judgment. If you say it's safe, then I'll believe you."
"And . . . most importantly . . . I'm not willing to let this drive a wedge between us."
I rested my head against his chest and closed my eyes, totally content.
"So," he murmured in a casual tone. "Did you make plans to go back to La Push again soon?"
I didn't answer. His question brought back the memory of Jacob's words, and my throat was
suddenly tight.
He misread my silence and the tension in my body.
"Just so that I can make my own plans," he explained quickly. "I don't want you to feel like
you have to hurry back because I'm sitting around waiting for you."
"No," I said in a voice that sounded strange to me. "I don't have plans go back."
"Oh. You don't have to do that for me."
"I don't think I'm welcome anymore," I whispered.
"Did you run over someone's cat?" he asked lightly. I knew he didn't want to force the story
out of me, but I could hear the curiosity burning behind his words.
"No." I took a deep breath, and then mumbled quickly through the explanation. "I thought
Jacob would have realized . . . I didn't think it would surprise him."
Edward waited while I hesitated.
"He wasn't expecting . . . that it was so soon."
"Ah," Edward said quietly.
"He said he'd rather see me dead." My voice broke on the last word.
Edward was too still for a moment, controlling whatever reaction he didn't want me to see.
Then he crushed me gently to his chest. "I'm so sorry."
"I thought you'd be glad," I whispered.
"Glad over something that's hurt you?" he murmured into my hair. "I don't think so, Bella."
I sighed and relaxed, fitting myself to the stone shape of him. But he was motionless again,
"What's wrong?" I asked.
"It's nothing."
"You can tell me."
He paused for a minute. "It might make you angry."
"I still want to know."
He sighed. "I could quite literally kill him for saying that to you. Iwant to."
I laughed halfheartedly. "I guess it's a good thing you've got so much self-control."
"I could slip." His tone was thoughtful.
"If you're going to have a lapse in control, I can think of a better place for it." I reached for
his face, trying to pull myself up to kiss him. His arms held me tighter, restraining.
He sighed. "Must I always be the responsible one?"
I grinned in the darkness. "No. Let me be in charge of responsibility for a few minutes . . . or
"Goodnight, Bella."
"Wait - there was something else I wanted to ask you about."
"What's that?"
"I was talking to Rosalie last night. . . ."
His body tensed again. "Yes. She was thinking about that when I got in. She gave you quite
a lot to consider, didn't she?"
His voice was anxious, and I realized that he thought I wanted to talk about the reasons
Rosalie'd given me for staying human. But I was interested in something much more
"She told me a little bit . . . about the time your family lived in Denali."
There was a short pause; this beginning took him by surprise. "Yes?"
"She mentioned something about a bunch of female vampires . . . and you."
He didn't answer, though I waited for a long moment.
"Don't worry," I said, after the silence had grown uncomfortable. "She told me you didn't . . .
show any preference. But I was just wondering, you know, if any ofthem had. Shown a
preference for you, I mean."
Again he said nothing.
"Which one?" I asked, trying to keep my voice casual, and not quite managing. "Or was there
more than one?"
No answer. I wished I could see his face, so I could try to guess what this silence meant.
"Alice will tell me," I said. "I'll go ask her right now."
His arms tightened; I was unable to squirm even an inch away.
"It's late," he said. His voice had a little edge to it that was something new. Sort of nervous,
maybe a little embarrassed. "Besides, I think Alice stepped out. . . ."
"It's bad," I guessed. "It's really bad, isn't it?" I started to panic, my heart accelerating as I
imagined the gorgeous immortal rival I'd never realized I had.
"Calm down, Bella," he said, kissing the tip of my nose. "You're being absurd."
"Am I? Then why won't you tell me?"
"Because there's nothing to tell. You're blowing this wildly out of proportion."
"Which one?" I insisted.
He sighed. "Tanya expressed a little interest. I let her know, in a very courteous, gentlemanly
fashion, that I did not return that interest. End of story."
I kept my voice as even as possible. "Tell me something - what does Tanya look like?"
"Just like the rest of us - white skin, gold eyes," he answered too quickly.
"And, of course, extraordinarily beautiful."
I felt him shrug.
"I suppose, to human eyes," he said, indifferent. "You know what, though?"
"What?" My voice was petulant.
He put his lips right to my ear; his cold breath tickled. "I prefer brunettes."
"She's a blonde. That figures."
"Strawberry blonde - not at all my type."
I thought about that for a while, trying to concentrate as his lips moved slowly along my
cheek, down my throat, and back up again. He made the circuit three times before I spoke.
"Iguess that's okay, then," I decided.
"Hmm," he whispered against my skin. "You're quite adorable when you're jealous. It's
surprisingly enjoyable."
I scowled into the darkness.
"It's late," he said again, murmuring, almost crooning now, his voice smoother than silk.
"Sleep, my Bella. Dream happy dreams. You are the only one who has ever touched my
heart. It will always be yours. Sleep, my only love."
He started to hum my lullaby, and I knew it was only a matter of time till I succumbed, so I
closed my eyes and snuggled closer into his chest.
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