Home > New Moon (Twilight #2)(3)

New Moon (Twilight #2)(3)
Stephenie Meyer

"Nice save," Charlie noted. "If they're doing something fun at the Cullens' tonight, Bella, you should take some pictures. You know how your mother gets - she'll be wanting to see the pictures faster than you can take them."

"Good idea, Charlie," Edward said, handing me the camera.

I turned the camera on Edward, and snapped the first picture. "It works."

"That's good. Hey, say hi to Alice for me. She hasn't been over in a while." Charlie's mouth pulled down at one corner.

"It's been three days, Dad," I reminded him. Charlie was crazy about Alice. He'd become attached last spring when she'd helped me through my awkward convalescence; Charlie would be fore'ter grateful to her for saving him from the horror of an almost-adult daughter who needed help showering. "I'll tell her."

"Okay. You kids have fun tonight." It was clearly a dismissal. Charlie was already edging toward the living room and the TV.

Edward smiled, triumphant, and took my hand to pull me from the kitchen.

When we got to the truck, he opened the passenger door for me again, and this time I didn't argue. I still had a hard time finding the obscure turnoff to his house in the dark.

Edward drove north through Forks, visibly chafing at the speed limit enforced by my prehistoric Chevy. The engine groaned even louder than usual as he pushed it over fifty.

"Take it easy," I warned him.

"You know what you would love? A nice little Audi coupe. Very quiet, lots of power..."

"There's nothing wrong with my truck. And speaking of expensive nonessentials, if you know what's good for you, you didn't spend any money on birthday presents."

"Not a dime," he said virtuously.

"Good."

"Can you do me a favor?"

"That depends on what it is."

He sighed, his lovely face serious. "Bella, the last real birthday any of us had was Emmett in 1935. Cut us a little slack, and don't be too difficult tonight. They're all very excited."

It always startled me a little when he brought up things like that. "Fine, I'll behave."

"I probably should warn you..."

"Please do."

"When I say they're all excited... I do mean all of them."

"Everyone?" I choked. "I thought Emmett and Rosalie were in Africa." The rest of Forks was under the impression that the older Cullens had gone off to college this year, to Dartmouth, but I knew better.

"Emmett wanted to be here."

"But... Rosalie?"

"I know, Bella. Don't worry, she'll be on her best behavior."

I didn't answer. Like I could just not worry, that easy. Unlike Alice, Edward's other "adopted" sister, the golden blond and exquisite Rosalie, didn't like me much. Actually, the feeling was a little bit stronger than just dislike. As far as Rosalie was concerned, I was an unwelcome intruder into her family's secret life.

I felt horribly guilty about the present situation, guessing that Rosalie and Emmett's prolonged absence was my fault, even as I furtively enjoyed not having to see her Emmett, Edward's playful bear of a brother, I did miss. He was in many ways just like the big brother I'd always wanted... only much, much more terrifying.

Edward decided to change the subject. "So, if you won't let me get you the Audi, isn't there anything that you'd like for your birthday?"

The words came out in a whisper. "You know what I want."

A deep frown carved creases into his marble forehead. He obviously wished he'd stuck to the subject of Rosalie.

It felt like we'd had this argument a lot today.

"Not tonight, Bella. Please."

"Well, maybe Alice will give me what I want."

Edward growled - a deep, menacing sound. "This isn't going to be your last birthday, Bella," he vowed.

"That's not fair!"

I thought I heard his teeth clench together.

We were pulling up to the house now. Bright light shined from every window on the first two floors. A long line of glowing Japanese lanterns hung from the porch eaves, reflecting a soft radiance on the huge cedars that surrounded the house. Big bowls of flowers - pink roses - lined the wide stairs up to the front doors.

I moaned.

Edward took a few deep breaths to calm himself. "This is a party," he reminded me. "Try to be a good sport."

"Sure," I muttered.

He came around to get my door, and offered me his hand.

"I have a question."

He waited warily.

"If I develop this film," I said, toying with the camera in my hands, "will you show up in the picture?"

Edward started laughing. He helped me out of the car, pulled me up the stairs, and was still laughing as he opened the door for me.

They were all waiting in the huge white living room; when I walked through the door, they greeted me with a loud chorus of "Happy birthday, Bella!" while I blushed and looked down. Alice, I assumed, had covered every flat surface with pink candles and dozens of crystal bowls filled with hundreds of roses. There was a table with a white cloth draped over it next to Edward's grand piano, holding a pink birthday cake, more roses, a stack of glass plates, and a small pile of silver-wrapped presents.

It was a hundred times worse than I'd imagined.

Edward, sensing my distress, wrapped an encouraging arm around my waist and kissed the top of my head.

Edward's parents, Carlisle and Esme - impossibly youthful and lovely as ever - were the closest to the door. Esme hugged me carefully, her soft, caramel-colored hair brushing against my cheek as she kissed my forehead, and then Carlisle put his arm around my shoulders.

"Sorry about this, Bella," he stage-whispered. "We couldn't rein Alice in."

Rosalie and Emmett stood behind them. Rosalie didn't smile, but at least she didn't glare. Emmett's face was stretched into a huge grin. It had been months since I'd seen them; I'd forgotten how gloriously beautiful Rosalie was - it almost hurt to look at her. And had Emmett always been so... big?

"You haven't changed at all," Emmett said with mock disappointment. "I expected a perceptible difference, but here you are, red-faced just like always."

"Thanks a lot, Emmett," I said, blushing deeper.

He laughed, "I have to step out for a second" - he paused to wink conspicuously at Alice - "Don't do anything funny while I'm gone."

"I'lltry."

Alice let go of Jasper's hand and skipped forward, all her teeth sparkling in the bright light. Jasper smiled, too, but kept his distance. He leaned, long and blond, against the post at the foot of the stairs. During the days we'd had to spend cooped up together in Phoenix, I'd thought he'd gotten over his aversion to me. But he'd gone back to exactly how he'd acted before - avoiding me as much as possible - the moment he was free from that temporary obligation to protect me. I knew it wasn't personal, just a precaution, and I tried not to be overly sensitive about it. Jasper had more trouble sticking to the Cullens' diet than the rest of them; the scent of human blood was much harder for him to resist than the others - he hadn't been trying as long.

"Time to open presents," Alice declared. She put her cool hand under my elbow and towed me to the

table with the cake and the shiny packages.

I put on my best martyr face. "Alice, I know I told you I didn't want anything - "

"But I didn't listen," she interrupted, smug. "Open it." She took the camera from my hands and replaced it with a big, square silver box.

The box was so light that it felt empty. The tag on top said that it was from Emmett, Rosalie, and Jasper. Selfconsciously, I tore the paper off and then stared at the box it concealed.

It was something electrical, with lots of numbers in the name. I opened the box, hoping for further illumination. But the box was empty.

"Um... thanks."

Rosalie actually cracked a smile. Jasper laughed. "It's a stereo for your truck," he explained. "Emmett's installing it right now so that you can't return it."

Alice was always one step ahead of me. "Thanks, Jasper, Rosalie," I told them, grinning as I remembered Edward's complaints about my radio this afternoon - all a setup, apparently. "Thanks, Emmett!" I called more loudly.

I heard his booming laugh from my truck, and I couldn't help laughing, too.

"Open mine and Edward's next," Alice said, so excited her voice was a high-pitched trill. She held a small, flat square in her hand.

I turned to give Edward a basilisk glare. "You promised."

Before he could answer, Emmett bounded through the door. "Just in time!" he crowed. He pushed in behind Jasper, who had also drifted closer than usual to get a good look.

"I didn't spend a dime," Edward assured me. He brushed a strand of hair from my face, leaving my skin tingling from his touch.

I inhaled deeply and turned to Alice. "Give it to me," I sighed.

Emmett chuckled with delight.

I took the little package, rolling my eyes at Edward while I stuck my finger under the edge of the paper and jerked it under the tape.

"Shoot," I muttered when the paper sliced my finger; I pulled it out to examine the damage. A single drop of blood oozed from the tiny cut.

It all happened very quickly then.

"No!" Edward roared.

He threw himself at me, flinging me back across the table. It fell, as I did, scattering the cake and the presents, the flowers and the plates. I landed in the mess of shattered crystal.

Jasper slammed into Edward, and the sound was like the crash of boulders in a rock slide.

There was another noise, a grisly snarling that seemed to be coming from deep in Jasper's chest. Jasper

tried to shove past Edward, snapping his teeth just inches from Edward's face.

Emmett grabbed Jasper from behind in the next second, locking him into his massive steel grip, but Jasper struggled on, his wild, empty eyes focused only on me.

Beyond the shock, there was also pain. I'd tumbled down to the floor by the piano, with my arms thrown out instinctively to catch my fall, into the jagged shards of glass. Only now did I feel the searing, stinging pain that ran from my wrist to the crease inside my elbow.

Dazed and disoriented, I looked up from the bright red blood pulsing out of my arm - into the fevered eyes of the six suddenly ravenous vampires.

Chapter 2 STITCHES

CARLISLE WAS NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO STAYED calm. Centuries of experience in the emergency room were evident in his quiet, authoritative voice.

"Emmett, Rose, get Jasper outside."

Unsmiling for once, Emmett nodded. "Come on, Jasper."

Jasper struggled against Emmett's unbreakable grasp, twisting around, reaching toward his brother with his bared teeth, his eyes still past reason.

Edward's face was whiter than bone as he wheeled to crouch over me, taking a clearly defensive position. A low warning growl slid from between his clenched teeth. I could tell that he wasn't breathing.

Rosalie, her divine face strangely smug, stepped in front of Jasper - keeping a careful distance from his teeth - and helped Emmett wrestle him through the glass door that Esme held open, one hand pressed over her mouth and nose.

Esme's heart-shaped face was ashamed. "I'm so sorry, Bella," she cried as she followed the others into the yard.

"Let me by, Edward," Carlisle murmured.

A second passed, and then Edward nodded slowly and relaxed his stance.

Carlisle knelt beside me, leaning close to examine my arm. I could feel the shock frozen on my face, and I tried to compose it.

"Here, Carlisle," Alice said, handing him a towel.

He shook his head. "Too much glass in the wound." He reached over and ripped a long, thin scrap from the bottom of the white tablecloth. He twisted it around my arm above the elbow to form a tourniquet. The smell of the blood was making me dizzy. My ears rang.

"Bella," Carlisle said softly. "Do you want me to drive you to the hospital, or would you like me to take care of it here?"

"Here, please," I whispered. If he took me to the hospital, there would be no way to keep this from Charlie.

"I'll get your bag," Alice said.

"Let's take her to the kitchen table," Carlisle said to Edward.

Edward lifted me effortlessly, while Carlisle kept the pressure steady on my arm.

"How are you doing, Bella?" Carlisle asked.

"I'm fine." My voice was reasonably steady, which pleased me.

Edward's face was like stone.

Alice was there. Carlisle's black bag was already on the table, a small but brilliant desk light plugged into the wall. Edward sat me gently into a chair, and Carlisle pulled up another. He went to work at once.

Edward stood over me, still protective, still not breathing.

"Just go, Edward," I sighed.

"I can handle it," he insisted. But his jaw was rigid; his eyes burned with the intensity of the thirst he fought, so much worse for him than it was for the others.

"You don't need to be a hero," I said. "Carlisle can fix me up without your help. Get some fresh air."

I winced as Carlisle did something to my arm that stung.

"I'll stay," he said.

"Why are you so masochistic?" I mumbled.

Carlisle decided to intercede. "Edward, you may as well go find Jasper before he gets too far. I'm sure he's upset with himself, and I doubt he'll listen to anyone but you right now."

"Yes," I eagerly agreed. "Go find Jasper."

"You might as well do something useful," Alice added.

Edward's eyes narrowed as we ganged up on him, but, finally, he nodded once and sprinted smoothly through the kitchen's back door. I was sure he hadn't taken a breath since I'd sliced my finger.

A numb, dead feeling was spreading through my arm.

Though it erased the sting, it reminded me of the gash, and I watched Carlisle's face carefully to distract me from what his hands were doing. His hair gleamed gold in the bright light as he bent over my arm. I could feel the faint stirrings of unease in the pit of my stomach, but I was determined not to let my usual squeamishness get the best of me. There was no pain now, just a gentle tugging sensation that I tried to ignore. No reason to get sick like a baby.

If she hadn't been in my line of sight, I wouldn't have noticed Alice give up and steal out of the room. With a tiny, apologetic smile on her lips, she disappeared through the kitchen doorway.

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