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Midnight Sun (Twilight #1.5)(10)
Stephenie Meyer

Well, I'd made the mess, so it was only fair that I had to deal with it. Bella walked deliberately toward me, not stopping until she was uncomfortably close. I remembered how I had hoped, before all the mayhem, that she would approach me... This was like a mockery of that wish.

"Can I talk to you for a minute?" she hissed at me.

Her warm breath brushed my face and I had to stagger back a step. Her appeal had not abated one bit. Every time she was near me, it triggered all my worst, most urgent instincts. Venom flowed in my mouth and my body yearned to strike - to wrench her into my arms and crush her throat to my teeth.

My mind was stronger than my body, but only just.

"Your father is waiting for you," I reminded her, my jaw clenched tight.

She glanced toward Carlisle and Tyler. Tyler was paying us no attention at all, but Carlisle was monitoring my every breath.

Carefully, Edward.

"I'd like to speak to you alone, if you don't mind," she insisted in a low voice. I wanted to tell her that I did mind very much, but I knew I would have to do this eventually. I may as well get on with it.

I was full of so many conflicting emotions as I stalked out of the room, listening to her stumbling footsteps behind me, trying to keep up.

I had a show to put on now. I knew the role I would play - I had the character down: I would be the villain. I would lie and ridicule and be cruel.

It went against all my better impulses - the human impulses that I'd clung to through all these years. I'd never wanted to deserve trust more than in this moment, when I had to destroy all possibility of it.

It made it worse to know that this would be the last memory she would have of me. This was my farewell scene.

I turned on her.

"What do you want?" I asked coldly.

She cringed back slightly from my hostility. Her eyes turned bewildered, the expression that had haunted me...

"You owe me an explanation," she said in a small voice; her ivory face blanched. It was very hard to keep my voice harsh. "I saved your life - I don't owe you anything."

She flinched - it burned like acid to watch my words hurt her.

"You promised," she whispered.

"Bella, you hit your head, you don't know what you're talking about."

Her chin came up then. "There's nothing wrong with my head."

She was angry now, and that made it easier for me. I met her glare, making my face more unfriendly.

"What do you want from me, Bella?"

"I want to know the truth. I want to know why I'm lying for you."

What she wanted was only fair - it frustrated me to have to deny her.

"What do you think happened?" I nearly growled at her.

Her words poured out in a torrent. "All I know is that you weren't anywhere near me - Tyler didn't see you, either, so don't tell me I hit my head too hard. That van was going to crush us both - and it didn't, and your hands left dents in the side of it - and you left a dent in the other car, and you're not hurt at all - and the van should have smashed my legs, but you were holding it up..." Suddenly, she clenched her teeth together and her eyes were glistening with unshed tears.

I stared at her, my expression derisive, though what I really felt was awe; she had seen everything.

"You think I lifted a van off you?" I asked sarcastically.

She answered with one stiff nod.

My voice grew more mocking. "Nobody will believe that, you know."

She made an effort to control her anger. When she answered me, she spoke each word with slow deliberation. "I'm not going to tell anybody."

She meant it - I could see that in her eyes. Even furious and betrayed, she would keep my secret.


The shock of it ruined my carefully designed expression for half a second, and then I pulled myself together.

"Then why does it matter?" I asked, working to keep my voice severe.

"It matters to me," she said intensely. "I don't like to lie - so there'd better be a good reason why I'm doing it."

She was asking me to trust her. Just as I wanted her to trust me. But this was a line I could not cross.

My voice stayed callous. "Can't you just thank me and get it over with?" "Thank you," she said, and then she fumed silently, waiting.

"You're not going to let it go, are you?"


"In that case..." I couldn't tell her the truth if I wanted to...and I didn't want to. I'd rather she made up her own story than know what I was, because nothing could be worse than the truth - I was a living nightmare, straight from the pages of a horror novel. "I hope you enjoy disappointment."

We scowled at each other. It was odd how endearing her anger was. Like a furious kitten, soft and harmless, and so unaware of her own vulnerability.

She flushed pink and ground her teeth together again. "Why did you even bother?"

Her question wasn't one that I was expecting or prepared to answer. I lost my hold on the role I was playing. I felt the mask slip from my face, and I told her - this one time - the truth.

"I don't know."

I memorized her face one last time - it was still set in lines of anger, the blood not yet faded from her cheeks - and then I turned and walked away from her.

4. Visions

I went back to school. This was the right thing to do, the most inconspicuous way to behave.

By the end of the day, almost all the other students had returned to class, too. Just Tyler and Bella and a few others - who were probably using the accident as a chance to ditch - remained absent.

It shouldn't be so hard for me to do the right thing. But, all afternoon, I was gritting my teeth against the urge that had me yearning ditch, too - in order to go find the girl again.

Like a stalker. An obsessessed stalker. An obsessessed, vampire stalker.

School today was - somehow, impossibly - even more boring than it had seemed just a week ago. Coma-like. It was as if the color had drained from the bricks, the trees, the sky, the faces around me... I stared at the cracks in the walls.

There was another right thing I should be doing...that I was not. Of course, it was also a wrong thing. It all depended on the perspective from which you viewed it.

From the perspective of a Cullen - not just a vampire, but a Cullen, someone who belonged to a family, such a rare state in our world - the right thing to do would have gone something like this:

"I'm surprised to see you in class, Edward. I heard you were involved in that awful accident this morning."

"Yes, I was, Mr. Banner, but I was the lucky one." A friendly smile. "I didn't get hurt at all... I wish I could say the same for Tyler and Bella."

"How are they?"

"I think Tyler is fine...just some superficial scrapes from the windshield glass. I'm not sure about Bella, though." A worried frown. "She might have a concussion. I heard she was pretty incoherent for a while - seeing things even. I know the doctors were worried..."

That's how it should have gone. That's what I owed my family.

"I'm surprised to see you in class, Edward. I heard you were involved in that awful accident this morning."

"I wasn't hurt." No smile.

Mr. Banner shifted his weight from foot to foot, uncomfortable.

"Do you have any idea how Tyler Crowley and Bella Swan are? I heard there were some injuries..."

I shrugged. "I wouldn't know."

Mr. Banner cleared his throat. "Er, right..." he said, my cold stare making his voice sound a bit strained.

He walked quickly back to the front of classroom and began his lecture.

It was the wrong thing to do. Unless you looked at it from a more obscure point of view.

It just seemed so...so unchivalrous to slander the girl behind her back, especially when she was proving more trustworthy than I could have dreamed. She hadn't said anything to betray me, despite having good reason to do so. Would I betray her when she had done nothing but keep my secret?

I had a nearly identical conversation with Mrs. Goff - just in Spanish rather than in English - and Emmett gave me a long look.

I hope you have a good explanation for what happened today. Rose is on the warpath.

I rolled my eyes without looking at him.

I actually had come up with a perfectly sound explanation. Just suppose I hadn't done anything to stop the van from crushing the girl... I recoiled from that thought. But if she had been hit, if she'd been mangled and bleeding, the red fluid spilling, wasting on the blacktop, the scent of the fresh blood pulsing through the air ...

I shuddered again, but not just in horror. Part of me shivered in desire. No, I would not have been able to watch her bleed without exposing us all in a much more flagrant and shocking way.

It was a perfectly sound excuse...but I wouldn't use it. It was too shameful. And I hadn't thought of it until long after the fact, regardless.

Look out for Jasper, Emmett went on, oblivious to my reverie. He's not as angry...but he's more resolved.

I saw what he meant, and for a moment the room swam around me. My rage was so all-consuming that a red haze clouded my vision. I thought I would choke on it.

SHEESH, EDWARD! GET A GRIP! Emmett shouted at me in his head. His hand came down on my shoulder, holding me in my seat before I could jump to my feet. He rarely used his full strength - there was rarely a need, for he was so much stronger than any vampire any of us had ever encountered - but he used it now. He gripped my arm, rather than pushing me down. If he'd been pushing, the chair under me would have collapsed.

EASY! He ordered.

I tried to calm myself, but it was hard. The rage burned in my head.

Jasper's not going to do anything until we all talk. I just thought you should know the direction he's headed.

I concentrated on relaxing, and I felt Emmett's hand loosen.

Try not to make more of a spectacle of yourself. You're in enough trouble as it is. I took a deep breath and Emmett released me.

I searched around the room routinely, but our confrontation had been so short and silent that only a few people sitting behind Emmett had even noticed. None of them knew what to make of it, and they shrugged it off. The Cullens were freaks - everyone knew that already.

Damn, kid, you're a mess, Emmett added, sympathy in his tone.

"Bite me," I muttered under my breath, and I heard his low chuckle.

Emmett didn't hold grudges, and I probably ought to be more grateful for his easy going nature. But I could see that Jasper's intentions made sense to Emmett, that he was considering how it might be the best course of action.

The rage simmered, barely under control. Yes, Emmett was stronger than I was, but he'd yet to beat me in a wrestling match. He claimed that this was because I cheated, but hearing thoughts was just as much a part of who I was as his immense strength was a part of him. We were evenly matched in a fight.

A fight? Was that where this was headed? Was I going to fight with my family over a human I barely knew?

I thought about that for a moment, thought about the fragile feel of the girl's body in my arms in juxtaposition with Jasper, Rose, and Emmett - supernaturally strong and fast, killing machines by nature...

Yes, I would fight for her. Against my family. I shuddered.

But it wasn't fair to leave her undefended when I was the one who'd put her in danger.

I couldn't win alone, though, not against the three of them, and I wondered who my allies would be.

Carlisle, certainly. He would not fight anyone, but he would be wholly against Rose's and Jasper's designs. That might be all I needed. I would see...

Esme, doubtful. She would not side against me either, and she would hate to disagree with Carlisle, but she would be for any plan that kept her family intact. Her first priority would not be rightness, but me. If Carlisle was the soul of our family, then Esme was the heart. He gave us a leader who deserved following; she made that following into an act of love. We all loved each other - even under the fury I felt toward Jasper and Rose right now, even planning to fight them to save the girl, I knew that I loved them. Alice...I had no idea. It would probably depend on what she saw coming. She would side with the winner, I imagined.

So, I would have to do this without help. I wasn't a match for them alone, but I wasn't going to let the girl be hurt because of me. That might mean evasive action... My rage dulled a bit with the sudden, black humor. I could imagine how the girl would react to my kidnapping her. Of course, I rarely guessed her reactions right - but what other reaction could she have besides terror?

I wasn't sure how to manage that, though - kidnapping her. I wouldn't be able to stand being close to her for very long. Perhaps I would just deliver her back to her mother. Even that much would be fraught with danger. For her.

And also for me, I realized suddenly. If I were to kill her by accident... I wasn't certain exactly how much pain that would cause me, but I knew it would be multifaceted and intense.

The time passed quickly while I mulled over all the complications ahead of me: the argument waiting for me at home, the conflict with my family, the lengths I might be forced to go to afterward...

Well, I couldn't complain that life outside this school was monotonous any more. The girl had changed that much.

Emmett and I walked silently to the car when the bell rang. He was worrying about me, and worrying about Rosalie. He knew whose side he would have to choose in a quarrel, and it bothered him.

The others were waiting for us in the car, also silent. We were a very quiet group. Only I could hear the shouting.

Idiot! Lunatic! Moron! Jackass! Selfish, irresponsible fool! Rosalie kept up a constant stream of insults at the top of her mental lungs. It made it hard to hear the others, but I ignored her as best I could.

Emmett was right about Jasper. He was sure of his course.

Alice was troubled, worrying about Jasper, flipping through images of the future. No matter which direction Jasper came at the girl, Alice always saw me there, blocking him. Interesting...neither Rosalie nor Emmett was with him in these visions. So Jasper planned to work alone. That would even things up.

Jasper was the best, certainly the most experienced fighter among us. My one advantage lay in that I could hear his moves before he made them.

I had never fought more than playfully with Emmett or Jasper - just horsing around. I felt sick at the thought of really trying to hurt Jasper...

No, not that. Just to block him. That was all.

I concentrated on Alice, memorizing Jasper's different avenues of attack.

As I did that, her visions shifted, moving further and further away from the Swan's house. I was cutting him off earlier...

Stop that, Edward! It can't happen this way. I won't let it.

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