Home > New Moon (Twilight #2)(5)

New Moon (Twilight #2)(5)
Stephenie Meyer

Her face tensed. "I'm not sure yet."

"How's Jasper?"

She sighed. "He's very unhappy with himself. It's all so much more of challenge for him, and he hates feeling weak."

"It's not his fault. You'll tell him that I'm not mad at him, not at all, won't you?"

"Of course."

Edward was waiting for me by the front door. As I got to the bottom of the staircase, he held it open without a word.

"Take your things!" Alice cried as I walked warily toward Edward. She scooped up the two packages, one half-opened, and my camera from under the piano, and pressed them into my good arm. "You can thank me later, when you've opened them."

Esme and Carlisle both said a quiet goodnight. I could see them stealing quick glances at their impassive son, much like I was.

It was a relief to be outside; I hurried past the lanterns and the roses, now unwelcome reminders. Edward kept pace with me silently. He opened the passenget side for me, and I climbed in without

complaint.

On the dashboard was a big red ribbon, stuck to the new stereo. I pulled it off, throwing it to the floor. As Edward slid into the other side, I kicked the ribbon under my seat.

He didn't look at me or the stereo. Neither of us switched it on, and the silence was somehow intensified by the sudden thunder of the engine. He drove too fast down the dark, serpentine lane.

The silence was making me insane.

"Say something," I finally begged as he turned onto the freeway.

"What do you want me to say?" he asked in a detached voice.

I cringed at his remoteness. 'Tell me you forgive me."

That brought a flicker of life to his face - a flicker of anger. "Forgive you? For what?"

"If I'd been more careful, nothing would have happened."

"Bella, you gave yourself a paper cut - that hardly deserves the death penalty."

"It's still my fault."

My words opened up the floodgate.

"Your fault? If you'd cut yourself at Mike Newton's house, with Jessica there and Angela and your other normal friends, the worst that could possibly have happened would be what? Maybe they couldn't find you a bandage? If you'd tripped and knocked over a pile of glass plates on your own - without someone throwing you into them - even then, what's the worst? You'd get blood on the seats when they drove you to the emergency room? Mike Newton could have held your hand while they stitched you up - and he wouldn't be righting the urge to kill you the whole time he was there. Don't try to take any of this on yourself, Bella. It will only make me more disgusted with myself."

"How the hell did Mike Newton end up in this conversation?" I demanded.

"Mike Newton ended up in this conversation because Mike Newton would be a hell of a lot healthier for you to be with," he growled.

"I'd rather die than be with Mike Newton," I protested. "I'd rather die than be with anyone but you."

"Don't be melodramatic, please."

"Well then, don't you be ridiculous."

He didn't answer. He glared through the windshield, his expression black.

I racked my brain for some way to salvage the evening. When we pulled up in front of my house, I still hadn't come up with anything.

He killed the engine, but his hands stayed clenched around the steering wheel.

"Will you stay tonight?" I asked.

"I should go home."

The last thing I wanted was for him to go wallow in remorse.

"For my birthday," I pressed.

"You can't have it both ways - either you want people to ignore your birthday or you don't. One or the other."

His voice was stern, but not .is serious as before. I breathed a silent sigh of relief.

"Okay. I've decided that I don't want you to ignore my birthday. I'll see you upstairs."

I hopped out, reaching back in for my packages. He frowned.

"You don't have to take those."

"I want them," I responded automatically, and then wondered if he was using reverse psychology.

"No, you don't. Carlisle and Esme spent money on you."

"I'll live." I tucked the presents awkwardly under my good arm and slammed the door behind me. He was out of the truck and by my side in less than a second.

"Let me carry them, at least." he said as he took them away. "I'll be in your room."

I smiled. "Thanks."

"Happy birthday," he sighed, and leaned down to touch his lips to mine.

I reached up on my toes to make the kiss last longer when he pulled away. He smiled my favorite crooked smile, and then he disappeared into the darkness.

The game was still on; as soon as I walked through the front door I could hear the announcer rambling over the babble of the crowd.

"Bell?" Charlie called.

"Hey, Dad," I said as I came around the corner. I held my arm close to my side. The slight pressure burned, and I wrinkled my nose. The anesthetic was apparently losing its effectiveness.

"How was it?" Charlie lounged across the sofa with his bare feet propped up on the arm. What was left of his curly brown hair was crushed flat on one side.

"Alice went overboard. Flowers, cake, candles, presents - the whole bit."

"What did they get you?"

"A stereo for my truck." And various unknowns.

"Wow."

"Yeah," I agreed. "Well, I'm calling it a night."

"I'll see you in the morning."

I waved. "See ya."

"What happened to your arm?"

I flushed and cursed silently. "I tripped. It's nothing."

"Bella," he sighed, shaking his head.

"Goodnight, Dad."

I hurried up to the bathroom, where I kept my pajamas for just such nights as these. I shrugged into the matching tank top and cotton pants that I'd gotten to replace the holey sweats I used to wear to bed, wincing as the movement pulled at the stitches. I washed my face one-handed, brushed my teeth, and then skipped to my room.

He was sitting in the center of my bed, toying idly with one of the silver boxes.

"Hi," he said. His voice was sad. He was wallowing.

I went to the bed, pushed the presents out of his hands, and climbed into his lap.

"Hi." I snuggled into his stone chest. "Can I open my presents now?"

"Where did the enthusiasm come from?" he wondered.

"You made me curious."

I picked up the long flat rectangle that must have been from Carlisle and Esme.

"Allow me," he suggested. He took the gift from my hand and tore the silver paper off with one fluid movement. He handed the rectangular white box back to me.

"Are you sure I can handle lifting the lid?" I muttered, but he ignored me.

Inside the box was a long thick piece of paper with an overwhelming amount of fine print. It took me a minute to get the gist of the information.

"We're going to Jacksonville?" And I was excited, in spite of myself. It was a voucher for plane tickets, for both me and Edward.

"That's the idea."

"I can't believe it. Renee is going to flip! You don't mind, though, do you? It's sunny, you'll have to stay inside all day."

"I think I can handle it," he said, and then frowned. "If I'd had any idea that you could respond to a gift this appropriately, I would have made you open it in front of Carlisle and Esme. I thought you'd complain."

"Well, of course it's too much. But I get to take you with me!"

He chuckled. "Now I wish I'd spent money on your present. I didn't realize that you were capable of being reasonable."

I set the tickets aside and reached for his present, my curiosity rekindled. He took it from me and unwrapped it like the first one.

He handed back a clear CD jewel case, with a blank silver CD inside.

"What is it?" I asked, perplexed.

He didn't say anything; he took the CD and reached around me to put it in the CD player on the bedside table. He hit play, and we waited in silence. Then the music began.

I listened, speechless and wide-eyed. I knew he was waiting for my reaction, but I couldn't talk. Tears welled up, and I reached up to wipe them away before they could spill over.

"Does your arm hurt?" he asked anxiously.

"No, it's not my arm. It's beautiful, Edward. You couldn't have given me anything I would love more. I can't believe it." I shut up, so I could listen.

It was his music, his compositions. The first piece on the CD was my lullaby.

"I didn't think you would let me get a piano so I could play for you here," he explained.

"You're right."

"How does your arm feel?"

"Just fine." Actually, it was starting to blaze under the bandage. I wanted ice. I would have settled for his hand, but that would have given me away.

"I'll get you some Tylenol."

"I don't need anything," I protested, but he slid me off his lap and headed for the door.

"Charlie," I hissed. Charlie wasn't exactly aware that Edward frequently stayed over. In fact, he would have a stroke if that fact were brought to his attention. But I didn't feel too guilty for deceiving him It wasn't as if we were up to anything he wouldn't want me to be up to. Edward and his rules...

"He won't catch me," Edward promised as he disappeared silently out the door . . and returned, catching the door before it had swung back to touch the frame. He had the glass from the bathroom and the bottle of pills in one hand.

I took the pills he handed me without arguing - I knew I would lose the argument And my arm really was starting to bother me.

My lullaby continued, soft and lovely, in the background.

"It's late," Edward noted. He scooped me up off the bed with one arm, and pulled the cover back with the other. He put me down with my head on my pillow and tucked the quilt around me. He lay down next to me - on top of the blanket so I wouldn't get chilled - and put his arm over me.

I leaned my head against his shoulder and sighed happily.

"Thanks again," I whispered.

"You're welcome."

It was quiet for a long moment as I listened to my lullaby drift to a close. Another song began. I recognized Esme's favorite.

"What are you thinking about?'" I wondered in a whisper.

He hesitated for a second before he told me. "I was thinking about right and wrong, actually."

I felt a chill tingle along my spine.

"Remember how I decided that I wanted you to not ignore my birthday?" I asked quickly, hoping it wasn't too clear that I was trying to distract him.

"Yes," he agreed, wary.

"Well, I was thinking, since it's still my birthday, that I'd like you to kiss me again."

"You're greedy tonight."

"Yes, I am - but please, don't do anything you don't want to do," I added, piqued.

He laughed, and then sighed. "Heaven forbid that I should do anything I don't want to do," he said in a strangely desperate tone as he put his hand under my chin and pulled my face up to his.

The kiss began much the same as usual - Edward was as careful as ever, and my heart began to overreact like it always did. And then something seemed to change. Suddenly his lips became much more urgent, his free hand twisted into my hair and held my face securely to his. And, though my hands tangled in his hair, too, and though I was clearly beginning to cross his cautious lines, for once he didn't stop me. His body was cold through the thin quilt, but I crushed myself against him eagerly.

When he stopped it was abrupt; he pushed me away with gentle, firm hands.

I collapsed back onto my pillow, gasping, my head spinning. Something tugged at my memory, elusive, on the edges.

"Sorry," he said, and he was breathless, too. "That was out of line."

"I don't mind," I panted.

He frowned at me in the darkness. "Try to sleep. Bella."

"No, I want you to kiss me again."

"You're overestimating my self-control."

"Which is tempting you more, my blood or my body?" I challenged.

"It's a tie." He grinned briefly in spite of himself, and then was serious again. "Now. why don't you stop pushing your luck and go to sleep?"

"Fine," I agreed, snuggling closer to him. I really did feel exhausted. It had been a long day in so many ways, yet I felt no sense of relief at its end. Almost as if something worse was coming tomorrow. It was a silly premonition - what could be worse than today?' Just the shock catching up with me, no doubt.

Trying to be sneaky about it, I pressed my injured arm against his shoulder, so his cool skin would sooth the burning. It felt better at once.

I was halfway asleep, maybe more, when I realized what his kiss had reminded me of: last spring, when he'd had to leave me to throw James off my trail, Edward had kissed me goodbye, not knowing when - or if - we would see each other again. This kiss had the same almost painful edge for some reason I couldn't imagine. I shuddered into unconsciousness, as if I were already having a nightmare.

Chapter 3 THE END

I FELT ABSOLUTELY HIDEOUS IN THE MORNING. I HADN'T slept well; my arm burned and my head ached. It didn't help my outlook that Edward's face was smooth and remote as he kissed my forehead quickly and ducked out my window. I was afraid of the time I'd spent unconscious, afraid that he might have been thinking about right and wrong again while he watched me sleep. The anxiety seemed to ratchet up the intensity of the pounding in my head.

Edward was waiting for me at school, as usual, but his face was still wrong. There was something buried in his eyes that I couldn't be sure of - and it scared me. I didn't want to bring up last night, but I wasn't sure if avoiding the subject would be worse.

He opened my door for me.

"How do you feel?"

"Perfect," I lied, cringing as the sound of the slamming door echoed in my head.

We walked in silence, he shortening his stride to match mine. There were so many questions I wanted to ask, but most of those questions would have to wait, because chey were for Alice: How was Jasper this morning? What had they said when I was gone? What had Rosalie said? And most importantly, what could she see happening now in her strange, imperfect visions of the future? Could she guess what Edward was thinking, why he was so gloomy? Was there a foundation for the tenuous, instinctive fears that I couldn't seem to shake?

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