Chapter no 7 – MELODY

Midnight Sun (The Twilight Saga, Book 5)


That was good, because I had things to think about and I needed the alone time.

Her scent lingered in the car. I kept the windows up, letting it assault me, trying to get used to the feel of intentionally torching my throat.


It was a problematic thing to contemplate. So many sides to it, so many different meanings and levels. Not the same thing as love, but tied up in it inextricably.

I had no idea if Bella was attracted to me. (Would her mental silence somehow continue to get more and more frustrating until I went mad? Or was there a limit that I would eventually reach?)

I tried to compare her physical responses to others’, like the receptionist and Jessica Stanley, but the comparison was inconclusive. The same markers—changes in heart rate and breathing patterns—could just as easily mean fear or shock or anxiety as they did interest. Certainly other women, and men, too, had reacted to my face with instinctive apprehension. Many more had that response than the alternative. It seemed unlikely that Bella could be entertaining the same kinds of thoughts that Jessica Stanley used to have. After all, Bella knew very well that there was something wrong with me, even if she didn’t know exactly what it was. She had touched my icy skin, and then yanked her hand away from the chill.

And yet… I remembered those fantasies that used to repulse me, but remembered them with Bella in Jessica’s place.

I was breathing more quickly, the fire clawing up and down my throat.

What if it had been Bella imagining me with my arms wrapped around her fragile body? Feeling me pull her tightly against my chest and then cupping my hand under her chin? Brushing the heavy curtain of her hair

back from her blushing face? Tracing the shape of her full lips with my fingertips? Leaning my face closer to hers, where I could feel the heat of her breath on my mouth? Moving closer still…

But then I flinched away from the daydream, knowing, as I had known when Jessica had imagined these things, what would happen if I got that close to her.

Attraction was an impossible dilemma, because I was already too attracted to Bella in the worst way.

Did I want Bella to be attracted to me, a woman to a man?

That was the wrong question. The right question was should I want Bella to be attracted to me that way, and the answer was no. Because I was not a human man, and that wasn’t fair to her.

With every fiber of my being, I ached to be a normal man, so that I could hold her in my arms without risking her life. So that I could be free to spin my own fantasies, fantasies that didn’t end with her blood on my hands, her blood glowing in my eyes.

My pursuit of her was indefensible. What kind of relationship could I offer her, when I couldn’t risk touching her?

I hung my head in my hands.

It was all the more confusing because I had never felt so human in my whole life—not even when I was human, as far as I could recall. In those days, my thoughts had all been turned to a soldier’s glory. The Great War had raged through most of my adolescence, and I’d been only nine months away from my eighteenth birthday when the influenza had struck. I had just vague impressions of those human years, murky memories that became less real with every passing decade. I remembered my mother most clearly and felt an ancient ache when I thought of her face. I recalled dimly how much she had hated the future I’d raced eagerly toward, praying every night when she said grace at dinner that the “horrid war” would end. I had no memories of another kind of yearning. Besides my mother’s love, there was no other love that had made me wish to stay.

This was entirely new to me. I had no parallels to draw, no comparisons to make.

The love I felt for Bella had come purely, but now the waters were muddied. I wanted very much to be able to touch her. Did she feel the same way?

That didn’t matter, I tried to convince myself.

I stared at my white hands, hating their hardness, their coldness, their inhuman strength.…

I jumped when the passenger door opened.

Ha. Caught you by surprise. There’s a first, Emmett thought as he slid into the seat. “I’ll bet Mrs. Goff thinks you’re on drugs, you’ve been so erratic lately. Where were you today?”

“I was… doing good deeds.”


I chuckled. “Caring for the sick, that kind of thing.”

That confused him more, but then he inhaled and caught the scent in the car.

“Oh. The girl again?” I scowled.

This is getting weird.

“Tell me about it,” I mumbled.

He inhaled again. “Hmm, she does have a quite a flavor, doesn’t she?”

The snarl broke through my lips before his words had even registered all the way, an automatic response.

“Easy, kid, I’m just sayin’.”

The others arrived then. Rosalie noticed the scent at once and glowered at me, still not over her irritation. I wondered what her real problem was, but all I could hear from her were insults.

I didn’t like Jasper’s reaction, either. Like Emmett, he noticed Bella’s appeal. Not that the scent had, for either of them, a thousandth portion of the draw it had for me, but it still upset me that her blood was sweet to them. Jasper had poor control.

Alice skipped to my side of the car and held her hand out for Bella’s truck key.

“I only saw that I was,” she said—as was her habit—obscurely. “You’ll have to tell me the whys.”

“This doesn’t mean—”

“I know, I know. I’ll wait. It won’t be long.” I sighed and gave her the key.

I followed her to Bella’s house. The rain was pounding down like a million tiny hammers, so loud that Bella’s human ears might not hear the

thunder of the truck’s engine. I watched her window, but she didn’t come to look out. Maybe she wasn’t there. There were no thoughts to hear.

It made me sad that I couldn’t hear enough of her thoughts even to check on her—to make sure she was happy, or safe, at the very least.

Alice climbed into the back and we sped home. The roads were empty, and so it only took a few minutes. We trooped into the house, and then went to our various pastimes.

Emmett and Jasper were in the middle of an elaborate game of chess, utilizing eight joined boards spread out along the glass back wall, and their own complicated set of rules. They wouldn’t let me play; only Alice would play games with me anymore.

Alice went to her computer just around the corner from them and I could hear her monitors sing to life. She was working on a fashion design project for Rosalie’s wardrobe, but Rosalie did not join her today, to stand behind her and direct cut and color as Alice’s hand traced over the touch-sensitive screens. Instead, today Rosalie sprawled sullenly on the sofa and started flipping through twenty channels a second on the flat screen, never pausing. I could hear her trying to decide whether or not to go out to the garage and tune her BMW again.

Esme was upstairs, humming over a set of blueprints. She was always designing something new. Perhaps she would build this one for our next home, or the one after that.

Alice leaned her head around the wall after a moment and started mouthing Emmett’s next moves—Emmett sat on the floor with his back to her—to Jasper, who kept his expression very smooth as he cut off Emmett’s favorite knight.

And, for the first time in so long that I felt ashamed, I went to sit at the exquisite grand piano stationed just off the entryway.

I ran my hand gently up the scales, testing the pitch. The tuning was still perfect.

Upstairs, Esme’s pencil paused and she cocked her head to the side.

I began the first line of the tune that had suggested itself to me in the car today, pleased that it sounded even better than I’d imagined.

Edward is playing again, Esme thought joyously, a smile breaking across her face. She got up from her drafting desk and flitted silently to the head of the stairs.

I added a harmonizing line, letting the central melody weave through it.

Esme sighed with contentment, sat down on the top step, and leaned her head against a baluster. A new song. It’s been so long. What a lovely tune.

I let the melody lead in a new direction, following it with the bass line.

Edward is composing again? Rosalie thought, and her teeth clenched together in fierce resentment.

In that moment, she slipped, and I could read all her underlying outrage. I saw why she was in such a poor temper with me. Why killing Isabella Swan had not bothered her conscience at all.

With Rosalie, it was always about vanity.

The music came to an abrupt halt, and I laughed before I could help myself, a sharp bark of amusement that broke off quickly as I threw my hand over my mouth.

Rosalie turned to glare at me, her eyes sparking with mortified fury. Emmett and Jasper turned to stare, too, and I heard Esme’s confusion.

She was downstairs in a flash, pausing to glance between Rosalie and me. “Don’t stop, Edward,” Esme encouraged after a strained moment.

I started playing again, turning my back on Rosalie while trying very hard to control the grin stretching across my face. She got to her feet and stalked out of the room, more angry than embarrassed. But certainly quite embarrassed.

If you say one word, I will put you down like a dog.

I smothered another laugh.

“What’s wrong, Rose?” Emmett called after her. Rosalie didn’t turn. Back ramrod straight, she continued to the garage and then squirmed under her car as if she could bury herself there.

“What’s that about?” Emmett asked me. “I don’t have the faintest idea,” I lied.

Emmett grumbled, frustrated.

“Keep playing,” Esme urged. My fingers had paused again.

I did as she asked, and she came to stand behind me, putting her hands on my shoulders.

The song was compelling, but incomplete. I toyed with a bridge, but it didn’t seem right somehow.

“It’s charming. Does it have a name?” Esme asked. “Not yet.”

“Is there a story to it?” she asked, a smile in her voice. This gave her very great pleasure, and I felt guilty for having neglected my music for so long. It had been selfish.

“It’s… a lullaby, I suppose.” I got the bridge right then. It led easily to the next movement, taking on a life of its own.

“A lullaby,” she repeated to herself.

There was a story to this melody, and once I saw that, the pieces fell into place effortlessly. The story was a sleeping girl in a narrow bed, dark hair thick and wild and twisted like seaweed across the pillow.…

Alice left Jasper to his own skill and came to sit next to me on the bench. In her trilling, wind-chime voice, she sketched out a wordless descant two octaves above the melody.

“I like it,” I murmured. “But how about this?”

I added her line to the harmony—my hands flying across the keys to work all the pieces together—modifying it a bit, taking it in a new direction.

She caught the mood and sang along. “Yes. Perfect,” I said.

Esme squeezed my shoulder.

But I could see the conclusion now, with Alice’s voice rising above the tune and taking it to another place. I could see how the song must end, because the sleeping girl was perfect just the way she was, and any change at all would be wrong, a sadness. The song drifted toward that realization, slower and lower. Alice’s voice lowered, too, and became solemn, a tone that belonged under the echoing arches of a candlelit cathedral.

I played the last note, and then bowed my head over the keys.

Esme stroked my hair. It’s going to be fine, Edward. This is going to work out for the best. You deserve happiness, my son. Fate owes you that.

“Thank you,” I whispered, wishing I could believe it. And that my happiness was the one that mattered.

Love doesn’t always come in convenient packages.

I laughed once without humor.

You, out of everyone on this planet, are perhaps best equipped to deal with such a difficult quandary. You are the best and the brightest of us all.

I sighed. Every mother thought the same of her son.

Esme was still full of joy that my heart had finally been touched after all this time, no matter the potential for tragedy. She’d thought I would always

be alone.

She’ll have to love you back, she thought suddenly, catching me by surprise with the direction of her thoughts. If she’s a bright girl. She smiled. But I can’t imagine anyone being so slow they wouldn’t see the catch you are.

“Stop it, Mom, you’re making me blush,” I teased. Her words, though improbable, did cheer me.

Alice laughed and picked out the top hand of “Heart and Soul.” I grinned and completed the simple harmony with her. Then I favored her with a performance of “Chopsticks.”

She giggled, then sighed. “So I wish you’d tell me what you were laughing at Rose about,” Alice said. “But I can see that you won’t.”


She flicked my ear with her finger.

“Be nice, Alice,” Esme chided. “Edward is being a gentleman.” “But I want to know.”

I laughed at the whining tone she put on. Then I said, “Here, Esme,” and began playing her favorite song, an unnamed tribute to the love I’d watched between her and Carlisle for so many years.

“Thank you, dear.” She squeezed my shoulder again.

I didn’t have to concentrate to play the familiar piece. Instead I thought of Rosalie, still figuratively writhing in humiliation in the garage, and grinned to myself.

Having just discovered the potency of jealousy for myself, I had a small amount of pity for her. It was a wretched way to feel. Of course, her jealously was a thousand times more petty than mine. Quite the dog in the manger scenario.

I wondered how Rosalie’s life and personality would have been different if she had not always been the most beautiful. Would she have been a happier person—less egocentric? More compassionate?—if beauty hadn’t at all times been her strongest selling point? Well, I supposed it was useless to wonder, because the past was done, and she always had been the most beautiful. Even when human, she had ever lived in the spotlight of her own loveliness. Not that she’d minded. The opposite—she’d loved admiration above all else. That hadn’t changed with the loss of her mortality.

It was no surprise, then, taking this need as a given, that she’d been

offended when I had not, from the beginning, worshiped her beauty the way she expected all males to worship. Not that she’d wanted me in any way— far from it. But it had aggravated her that I did not want her, despite that.

It was different with Jasper and Carlisle—they were already both in love. I was completely unattached, and yet still remained obstinately unmoved.

I’d thought that old resentment buried, that she was long past it. And she had been… until the day I finally found someone whose beauty touched me the way hers had not. Of course. I should have realized how that would annoy her. I probably would have, had I not been so preoccupied.

Rosalie had relied on the belief that if I did not find her beauty worth worshiping, then certainly there was no beauty on earth that would reach me. She’d been furious since the moment I’d saved Bella’s life, guessing, with her shrewd, competitive intuition, the interest that I was all but unconscious of myself.

Rosalie was mortally offended that I found some insignificant human girl more appealing than her.

I suppressed the urge to laugh again.

It bothered me some, though, the way she saw Bella. Rosalie actually thought the girl plain. How could she believe that? It seemed incomprehensible to me. A product of the jealousy, no doubt.

“Oh!” Alice said abruptly. “Jasper, guess what?”

I saw what she’d just seen, and my hands froze on the keys. “What, Alice?” Jasper asked.

“Peter and Charlotte are coming to visit next week! They’re going to be in the neighborhood. Isn’t that nice?”

“What’s wrong, Edward?” Esme asked, feeling the tension in my shoulders.

“Peter and Charlotte are coming to Forks?” I hissed at Alice.

She rolled her eyes at me. “Calm down, Edward. It’s not their first visit.”

My teeth clenched. It was their first visit since Bella had arrived, and her sweet blood didn’t appeal just to me.

Alice frowned at my expression. “They never hunt here. You know that.”

But Jasper’s brother of sorts and the little vampire he loved were not like us; they hunted the usual way. They could not be trusted around Bella.

“When?” I demanded.

She pursed her lips unhappily but told me what I needed to know.

Monday morning. No one is going to hurt Bella.

“No,” I agreed, and then turned away from her. “You ready, Emmett?” “I thought we were leaving in the morning?”

“We’re coming back by midnight Sunday. I guess it’s up to you when you want to leave.”

“Okay, fine. Let me say goodbye to Rose first.”

“Sure.” With the mood Rosalie was in, it would be a short goodbye.

You really have lost it, Edward, he thought as he headed toward the back door.

“I suppose I have.”

“Play the new song for me, one more time,” Esme asked.

“If you’d like that,” I agreed, though I was a little hesitant to follow the tune to its unavoidable end—the end that had set me aching in unfamiliar ways. I thought for a moment, and then pulled the bottle cap from my pocket and set it on the empty music rack. That helped a bit—my little memento of her yes.

I nodded to myself, and started playing.

Esme and Alice exchanged a glance, but neither one asked.

“Hasn’t anyone ever told you not to play with your food?” I called to Emmett.

“Oh, hey, Edward!” he shouted back, grinning and waving at me. The bear took advantage of his distraction to rake its heavy paw across Emmett’s chest. The sharp claws shredded through his shirt and squealed across his skin like knives across steel.

The bear bellowed at the high-pitched noise.

Aw hell, Rose gave me this shirt!

Emmett roared back at the enraged animal.

I sighed and sat down on a convenient boulder. This might take a while.

But Emmett was almost done. He let the bear try to take his head off with another swipe of the paw, laughing as the blow bounced off and sent the beast staggering back. The bear roared and Emmett roared again through his laughter. Then he launched himself at the animal, which stood a

head taller than him on its hind legs, and their bodies fell to the ground tangled up together, taking a mature spruce tree down with them. The bear’s growls cut off with a gurgle.

A few minutes later, Emmett jogged over to where I was waiting for him. His shirt was destroyed, torn and bloodied, sticky with sap and covered in fur. His dark curly hair wasn’t in much better shape. He had a huge grin on his face.

“That was a strong one. I could almost feel it when he clawed me.” “You’re such a child, Emmett.”

He eyed my smooth, clean white button-down. “Weren’t you able to track down that mountain lion, then?”

“Of course I was. I just don’t eat like a savage.”

Emmett laughed his booming laugh. “I wish they were stronger. It would be more fun.”

“No one said you had to fight your food.”

“Yeah, but who else am I going to fight with? You and Alice cheat, Rose never wants to mess up her hair, and Esme gets mad if Jasper and I really go at it.”

“Life is hard all around, isn’t it?”

Emmett grinned at me, shifting his weight a bit so that he was suddenly poised to take a charge.

“C’mon Edward. Just turn it off for one minute and fight fair.” “It doesn’t turn off,” I reminded him.

“Wonder what that human girl does to keep you out,” Emmett mused. “Maybe she could give me some pointers.”

My good humor vanished. “Stay away from her,” I growled through my teeth.

“Touchy, touchy.”

I sighed. Emmett came to sit beside me on the rock.

“Sorry. I know you’re going through a tough spot. I really am trying to not be too much of an insensitive jerk, but since that’s sort of my natural state…”

He waited for me to laugh at his joke, and then made a face. So serious all the time. What’s bugging you now? “Thinking about her. Well, worrying, really.”

“What’s there to worry about? You are here.” He laughed loudly.

I ignored his joke again, but answered his question. “Have you ever thought about how fragile they all are? How many bad things can happen to a mortal?”

“Not really. I guess I see what you mean, though. I wasn’t much match for a bear that first time around, was I?”

“Bears,” I muttered, adding a new fear to the already large pile. “That would be just her luck, wouldn’t it? Stray bear in town. Of course it would head straight for Bella.”

Emmett chuckled. “You sound like a crazy person. You can hear that, right?”

“Just imagine for one minute that Rosalie was human, Emmett. And she could run into a bear… or get hit by a car… or lightning… or fall down stairs… or get sick—get a disease!” The words burst from me stormily. It was a relief to let them out—they’d been festering inside me all weekend. “Fires and earthquakes and tornadoes! Ugh! When’s the last time you watched the news? Have you seen the kinds of things that happen to them? Burglaries and homicides…” My teeth clenched together, and I was abruptly so infuriated by the idea of another human hurting her that I couldn’t breathe.

“Whoa, whoa! Hold up, there, kid. She lives in Forks, remember? So she gets rained on.” He shrugged.

“I think she has some serious bad luck, Emmett, I really do. Look at the evidence. Of all the places in the world she could go, she ends up in a town where vampires make up a significant portion of the population.”

“Yeah, but we’re vegetarians. So isn’t that good luck, not bad?”

“With the way she smells? Definitely bad. And then, more bad luck, the way she smells to me.” I glowered at my hands, hating them again.

“Except that you have more self-control than just about anyone but Carlisle. Good luck again.”

“The van?”

“That was just an accident.”

“You should have seen it coming for her, Em, again and again. I swear, it was like she had some kind of magnetic pull.”

“But you were there. That was good luck.”

“Was it? Isn’t this the worst luck any human could ever possibly have— to have a vampire fall in love with them?”

Emmett considered that quietly for a moment. He pictured the girl in his head, and found the image uninteresting. Honestly, I can’t really see the draw.

“Well, I can’t really see Rosalie’s allure, either,” I said rudely. “Honestly, she seems like more work than any pretty face is worth.”

Emmett chuckled. “I don’t suppose you’d tell me…”

“I don’t know what her problem is, Emmett,” I lied with a sudden, wide grin.

I saw his intent in time to brace myself. He tried to shove me off the rock, and there was a loud cracking sound as a fissure opened in the stone between us.

“Cheater,” he muttered.

I waited for him to try another time, but his thoughts took a different direction. He was picturing Bella’s face again, but imagining it whiter, imagining her eyes bright red.

“No,” I said, my voice strangled.

“It solves your worries about mortality, doesn’t it? And then you wouldn’t want to kill her, either. Isn’t that the best way?”

“For me? Or for her?”

“For you,” he answered easily. His tone added the of course. I laughed humorlessly. “Wrong answer.”

“I didn’t mind so much,” he reminded me. “Rosalie did.”

He sighed. We both knew that Rosalie would do anything, give up anything, if it meant she could be human again. Anything. Even Emmett.

“Yeah, Rose did,” he acquiesced quietly.

“I can’t… I shouldn’t… I’m not going to ruin Bella’s life. Wouldn’t you feel the same if it were Rosalie?”

Emmett thought about that for a moment. You really… love her?

“I can’t even describe it, Em. All of a sudden, this girl’s the whole world to me. I don’t see the point of the rest of the world without her anymore.”

But you won’t change her? She won’t last forever, Edward.

“I know that,” I groaned.

And, as you’ve pointed out, she’s sort of breakable.

“Trust me—that I know, too.”

Emmett was not a tactful person, and delicate discussions were not his

forte. He struggled now, wanting very much not to be offensive.

Can you even touch her? I mean, if you love her… wouldn’t you want to, well, touch her?

Emmett and Rosalie shared an intensely physical love. He had a hard time understanding how one could love without that aspect.

I sighed. “I can’t even think of that, Emmett.”

Wow. So what are your options, then?

“I don’t know,” I whispered. “I’m trying to figure out a way to… to leave her. I just can’t fathom how to make myself stay away.”

With a deep sense of gratification, I suddenly realized that it was right for me to stay—at least for now, with Peter and Charlotte on their way. She was safer with me here, temporarily, than she would be if I were gone. For the moment, I could be her unlikely protector.

The thought made me anxious. I itched to be back so that I could fill that role for as long as possible.

Emmett noticed the change in my expression. What are you thinking about?

“Right now,” I admitted a bit sheepishly, “I’m dying to run back to Forks and check on her. I don’t know if I’ll make it to Sunday night.”

“Uh-uh! You are not going home early. Let Rosalie cool down a little bit. Please! For my sake.”

“I’ll try to stay,” I said doubtfully.

Emmett tapped the phone in my pocket. “Alice would call if there were any basis for your panic attack. She’s as weird about this girl as you are.”

I couldn’t argue with that. “Fine. But I’m not staying past Sunday.” “There’s no point in hurrying back—it’s going to be sunny, anyway.

Alice said we were free from school until Wednesday.” I shook my head rigidly.

“Peter and Charlotte know how to behave themselves.”

“I really don’t care, Emmett. With Bella’s luck, she’ll go wandering off into the woods at exactly the wrong moment and—” I flinched. “I’m going back Sunday.”

Emmett sighed. Exactly like a crazy person.

Bella was sleeping peacefully when I climbed up to her bedroom window

early Monday morning. I’d brought oil to grease the mechanism—entirely surrendering to that particular devil—and the window now moved silently out of my way.

I could tell by the way her hair lay smooth across the pillow that she’d had a less restless night than the last time I was here. She had her hands folded under her cheek like a small child, and her mouth was slightly open. I could hear her breath moving slowly in and out between her lips.

It was an amazing relief to be here, to be able to see her again. I realized that I wasn’t truly at ease unless that was the case. Nothing was right when I was away from her.

Not that all was right when I was with her, either. I sighed and then inhaled, letting the thirst-fire rake down my throat. I’d been away from it too long. The time spent without pain and temptation made it all the more forceful now. It was bad enough that I was afraid to go kneel beside her bed so that I could read the titles of her books. I wanted to know the stories in her head, but I was afraid of more than my thirst, afraid that if I let myself get that close to her, I would want to be closer still.

Her lips looked very soft and warm. I could imagine touching them with the tip of my finger. Just lightly…

That was exactly the kind of mistake I had to avoid.

My eyes ran over her face again and again, examining it for changes. Mortals changed all the time—I was anxious at the thought of missing anything.

I thought she looked… tired. As though she hadn’t gotten enough sleep this weekend. Had she gone out?

I laughed silently and wryly at how much that upset me. So what if she had? I didn’t own her. She wasn’t mine.

No, she wasn’t mine—and I was sad again.

“Mom,” she murmured quietly. “No… let me. Please…”

The stress mark between her brows, shaped like a small v, was etched deep. Whatever Bella’s mother was doing in her dream, it clearly worried her. She rolled suddenly to her other side, but her eyelids never flickered.

“Yes, yes,” she muttered, and then sighed. “Ugh. It’s too green.”

One of her hands twitched, and I noticed that there were shallow, barely healed scrapes across the heel of her palm. She’d been hurt? Even though it was obviously not a serious injury, it still disturbed me. I considered the

location and decided she must have tripped. That seemed a reasonable explanation, all things considered.

She pleaded with her mother a few more times, mumbled something about the sun, then slipped into a quieter sleep and did not move again.

It was comforting to think that I wouldn’t have to puzzle over any of these small mysteries forever. We were friends now—or, at least, trying to be friends. I could ask her about her weekend—about the beach, and whatever late-night activity had made her look so weary. I could ask what had happened to her hands. And I could laugh a little when she confirmed my theory about them.

I smiled gently as I wondered whether she had fallen in the ocean. I wondered if she’d had a pleasant time on the outing. I wondered if she’d thought about me at all. If she’d missed me even the tiniest portion of the amount that I’d missed her.

I tried to picture her in the sun on the beach. The picture was incomplete, though, because I’d never been to First Beach myself. I only knew how it looked from pictures.

I felt a tiny qualm of unease as I thought about the reason I’d never once been to the pretty beach located just a short run from my home. Bella had spent the day at La Push—a place where I was forbidden, by treaty, to go. A place where a few old men still remembered the stories about the Cullens, remembered and believed them. A place where our secret was known.

I shook my head. I had nothing to worry about there. The Quileutes were bound by treaty, too. Even had Bella run into one of those aging sages, they could reveal nothing. And why would the subject ever be broached? No— the Quileutes were perhaps the one thing I did not have to worry about.

I was angry with the sun when it began to rise. It reminded me that I could not satisfy my curiosity for days to come. Why did it choose to shine now?

With a sigh, I ducked out her window before it was light enough for anyone to see me here. I meant to stay in the thick forest by her house and see her off to school, but when I got into the trees, I was surprised to find the trace of her scent lingering on the narrow pathway there.

I followed it quickly, curiously, becoming more and more worried as it led deeper into the darkness. What had Bella been doing out here?

The trail she’d left stopped abruptly, in the middle of nowhere in

particular. She’d gone just a few steps off the path, into the ferns, where she’d touched the trunk of a fallen tree. Perhaps sat there…

I sat where she had and looked around. All she would have been able to see was ferns and forest. It had probably been raining—the scent was washed out, having never set deeply into the tree.

Why would Bella have come to sit here alone—and she had been alone, no doubt about that—in the middle of the wet, murky forest?

It made no sense, and unlike those other points of curiosity, I could hardly bring this up in casual conversation.

So, Bella, I was following your scent through the woods after I left your room—just some minor breaking and entering, no need for worry, I was… exterminating spiders.… Yes, that would be quite the icebreaker.

I would never know what she’d been thinking and doing here, and that had my teeth grinding in frustration. Worse, this was far too much like the scenario I’d imagined for Emmett—Bella wandering alone in the woods, where her scent would call to anyone who had the senses to track it.

I groaned. She didn’t just have bad luck, she courted it.

Well, for this moment she had a protector. I would watch over her, keep her from harm, for as long as I could justify it.

I suddenly found myself wishing that Peter and Charlotte would make an extended stay.

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