Home > New Moon (Twilight #2)(7)

New Moon (Twilight #2)(7)
Stephenie Meyer

"Uh-oh," Jessica said apologetically as she returned the camera. "I think we used all your film."

"That's okay. I think I already got pictures of everything else I needed."

After school, Edward walked me back to the parking lot in silence. I had to work again, and for once, I was glad. Time with me obviously wasn't helping things. Maybe time alone would be better.

I dropped my film off at the Thriftway on my way to Newton's, and then picked up the developed pictures after work. At home, I said a brief hi to Charlie, grabbed a granola bar from the kitchen, and hurried up to my room with the envelope of photographs tucked under my arm.

I sat in the middle of my bed and opened the envelope with wary curiosity. Ridiculously, I still half expected the first print to be a blank.

When I pulled it out, I gasped aloud. Edward looked just as beautiful as he did in real life, staring at me out of the picture with the warm eyes I'd missed for the past few days. It was almost uncanny that anyone could look so... so... beyond description. No thousand words could equal this picture.

I flipped through the rest of the stack quickly once, and then laid three of them out on the bed side by side.

The first was the picture of Edward in the kitchen, his warm eyes touched with tolerant amusement. The second was Edward and Charlie, watching ESPN. The difference in Edward's expression was severe. His eyes were careful here, reserved. Still breathtakingly beautiful, but his face was colder, more like a sculpture, less alive.

The last was the picture of Edward and me standing awkwardly side by side. Edward's face was the same as the last, cold and statue-like. But that wasn't the most troubling part of this photograph. The contrast between the two of us was painful. He looked like a god. I looked very average, even for a human, almost shamefully plain. I flipped the picture over with a feeling of disgust.

Instead of doing my homework, I stayed up to put my pictures into the album. With a ballpoint pen I scrawled captions under all the pictures, the names and the dates. I got to the picture of Edward and me, and, without looking at it too long, I folded it in half and stuck it under the metal tab, Edward-side up.

When I was done, I stuffed the second set of prints in a fresh envelope and penned a long thank-you letter to Renee.

Edward still hadn't come over. I didn't want to admit that he was the reason I'd stayed up so late, but of course he was. I tried to remember the last time he'd stayed away like this, without an excuse, a phone call... He never had.

Again, I didn't sleep well.

School followed the silent, frustrating, terrifying pattern of the last two days. I felt relief when I saw Edward waiting for me in the parking lot, but it faded quickly. He was no different, unless maybe more remote.

It was hard to even remember the reason for all this mess. My birthday already felt like the distant past. If only Alice would come back. Soon. Before this got any more out of hand.

But I couldn't count on that. I decided that, if I couldn't talk to him today, really talk, then I was going to see Carlisle tomorrow. I had to do something.

After school, Edward and I were going to talk it out, I promised myself. I wasn't accepting any excuses.

He walked me to my truck, and I steeled myself to make my demands.

"Do you mind if I come over today?" he asked before we got to the truck, beating me to the punch.

"Of course not."

"Now?" he asked again, opening my door for me.

"Sure," I kept my voice even, though I didn't like the urgency in his tone. "I was just going to drop a letter for Renee in the mailbox on the way. I'll meet you there."

He looked at the fat envelope on the passenger seat. Suddenly, he reached over me and snagged it.

"I'll do it," he said quietly. "And I'll still beat you there." He smiled my favorite crooked smile, but it was wrong. It didn't reach his eyes.

"Okay," I agreed, unable to smile back. He shut the door, and headed toward his car.

He did beat me home. He was parked in Charlie's spot when I pulled up in front of the house. That was a bad sign. He didn't plan to stay, then. I shook my head and took a deep breath, trying to locate some courage.

He got out of his car when I stepped out of the truck, and came to meet me. He reached to take my book bag from me. That was normal. But he shoved it back onto the seat. That was not normal.

"Come for a walk with me," he suggested in an unemotional voice, taking my hand.

I didn't answer. I couldn't think of a way to protest, but I instantly knew that I wanted to. I didn't like this. This is bad, this is very bad, the voice in my head repeated again and again.

But he didn't wait for an answer. He pulled me along toward the east side of the yard, where the forest encroached. I followed unwillingly, trying to think through the panic. It was what I wanted, I reminded myself. The chance to talk it all through. So why was the panic choking me?

We'd gone only a few steps into the trees when he stopped. We were barely on the trail - I could still see the house.

Some walk.

Edward leaned against a tree and stared at me, his expression unreadable.

"Okay, let's talk," I said. It sounded braver than it felt.

He took a deep breath.

"Bella, we're leaving."

I took a deep breath, too. This was an acceptable option. I thought I was prepared. But I still had to ask.

"Why now? Another year - "

"Bella, it's time. How much longer could we stay in Forks, after all? Carlisle can barely pass for thirty, and he's claiming thirty-three now. We'd have to start over soon regardless."

His answer confused me. I thought the point of leaving was to let his family live in peace. Why did we have to leave if they were going? I stared at him, trying to understand what he meant.

He stared back coldly.

With a roll of nausea, I realized I'd misunderstood.

"When you say we - ," I whispered.

"I mean my family and myself." Each word separate and distinct.

I shook my head back and forth mechanically, trying to clear it. He waited without any sign of impatience. It took a few minutes before I could speak.

"Okay," I said. "I'll come with you."

"You can't, Bella. Where we're going... It's not the right place for you."

"Where you are is the right place for me."

"I'm no good for you, Bella."

"Don't be ridiculous." I wanted to sound angry, but it just sounded like I was begging. "You're the very best part of my life."

"My world is not for you," he said grimly.

"What happened with Jasper - that was nothing, Edward! Nothing!"

"You're right," he agreed. "It was exactly what was to be expected."

"You promised! In Phoenix, you promised that you would stay - "

"As long as that was best for you," he interrupted to correct me.

"No! This is about my soul, isn't it?" I shouted, furious, the words exploding out of me - somehow it still sounded like a plea. "Carlisle told me about that, and I don't care, Edward. I don't care! You can have my soul. I don't want it without you - it's yours already!"

He took a deep breath and stared, unseeingly, at the ground for a long moment. His mouth twisted the tiniest bit. When he finally looked up, his eyes were different, harder - like the liquid gold had frozen solid.

"Bella, I don't want you to come with me." He spoke the words slowly and precisely, his cold eyes on my face, watching as I absorbed what he was really saying.

There was a pause as I repeated the words in my head a few times, sifting through them for their real intent.

"You... don't... want me?" I tried out the words, confused by the way they sounded, placed in that order.

"No."

I stared, uncomprehending, into his eyes. He stared back without apology. His eyes were like topaz - hard and clear and very deep. I felt like I could see into them for miles and miles, yet nowhere in rheir bottomless depths could I see a contradiction to the word he'd spoken.

"Well, that changes things." I was surprised by how calm and reasonable my voice sounded. It must be because I was so numb. I couldn't realize what he was telling me. It still didn't make any sense.

He looked away into the trees as he spoke again. "Of course, I'll always love you... in a way. But what happened the other night made me realize that it's time for a change. Because I'm... tired of pretending to be something I'm not, Bella. I am not human." He looked back, and the icy planes of his perfect face were not human. "I've let this go on much too long, and I'm sorry for that."

"Don't." My voice was just a whisper now; awareness was beginning to seep through me, trickling like acid through my veins. "Don't do this."

He just stared at me, and I could see from his eyes that my words were far too late. He already had.

"You're not good for me, Bella." He turned his earlier words around, and so I had no argument. How well I knew that I wasn't good enough for him.

I opened my mouth to say something, and then closed it again. He waited patiently, his face wiped clean of all emotion. I tried again.

"If... that's what you want."

He nodded once.

My whole body went numb. I couldn't feel anything below the neck.

"I would like to ask one favor, though, if that's not too much," he said.

I wonder what he saw on my face, because something flickered across his own face in response. But, before I could identify it, he'd composed his features into the same serene mask.

"Anything," I vowed, my voice faintly stronger.

As I watched, his frozen eyes melted. The gold became liquid again, molten, burning down into mine with an intensity that was overwhelming.

"Don't do anything reckless or stupid," he ordered, no longer detached. "Do you understand what I'm saying?"

I nodded helplessly.

His eyes cooled, the distance returned. "I'm thinking of Charlie, of course. He needs you. Take care of yourself - for him."

I nodded again. "I will," I whispered.

He seemed to relax just a little.

"And I'll make you a promise in return," he said. "I promise that this will be the last time you'll see me. I won't come back. I won't put you through anything like this again. You can go on with your life without any more interference from me. It will be as if I'd never existed."

My knees must have started to shake, because the trees were suddenly wobbling. I could hear the blood pounding faster than normal behind my ears. His voice sounded farther away.

He smiled gently. "Don't worry. You're human - your memory is no more than a sieve. Time heals all wounds for your kind."

"And your memories?" I asked. It sounded like there was something stuck in my throat, like I was choking.

"Well" - he hesitated for a short second - "I won't forget. But my kind... we're very easily distracted." He smiled; the smile was tranquil and it did not touch his eyes.

He took a step away from me. "That's everything, I suppose. We won't bother you again."

The plural caught my attention. That surprised me; I would have thought I was beyond noticing anything.

"Alice isn't coming back," I realized. I don't know how he heard me - the words made no sound - but he seemed to understand.

He shook his head slowly, always watching my face.

"No. They're all gone. I staved behind to tell you goodbye."

"Alice is gone?" My voice was blank with disbelief.

"She wanted to say goodbye, but I convinced her that a clean break would be better for you."

I was dizzy; it was hard to concentrate. His words swirled around in my head, and I heard the doctor at the hospital in Phoenix, last spring, as he showed me the X-rays. You can see it's a clean break, his finger traced along the picture of my severed bone. That's good. It will heal more easily, more quickly .

I tried to breathe normally. I needed to concentrate, to find a way out of this nightmare.

"Goodbye, Bella," he said in the same quiet, peaceful voice.

"Wait!" I choked out the word, reaching for him, willing my deadened legs to carry me forward.

I thought he was reaching for me, too. But his cold hands locked around my wrists and pinned them to my sides. He leaned down, and pressed his lips very lightly to my forehead for the briefest instant. My eyes closed.

"Take care of yourself," he breathed, cool against my skin.

There was a light, unnatural breeze. My eyes flashed open. The leaves on a small vine maple shuddered with the gentle wind of his passage.

He was gone.

With shaky legs, ignoring the fact that my action was useless, I followed him into the forest. The evidence of his path had disappeared instantly. There were no footprints, the leaves were still again, but I walked forward without thinking. I could not do anything else. I had to keep moving. If I stopped looking for him, it was over.

Love, life, meaning... over.

I walked and walked. Time made no sense as I pushed slowly through the thick undergrowth. It was hours passing, but also only seconds. Maybe it felt like time had frozen because the forest looked the same no matter how far I went. I started to worry that I was traveling in a circle, a very small circle at that, but I kept going. I stumbled often, and, as it grew darker and darker, I fell often, too.

Finally, I tripped over something - it was black now, I had no idea what caught my foot - and I stayed down. I rolled onto my side, so that I could breathe, and curled up on the wet bracken.

As I lay there, I had a feeling that more time was passing than I realized. I couldn't remember how long it had been since nightfall. Was it always so dark here at night? Surely, as a rule, some little bit of moonlight would filter down through the clouds, through the chinks in the canopy of trees, and find the ground.

Not tonight. Tonight the sky was utterly black. Perhaps there was no moon tonight - a lunar eclipse, a new moon.

A new moon. I shivered, though I wasn't cold.

It was black for a long time before I heard them calling.

Someone was shouting my name. It was muted, muffled by the wet growth that surrounded me, but it was definitely my name. I didn't recognize the voice. I thought about answering, but I was dazed, and it took a long time to come to the conclusion that I should answer. By then, the calling had stopped.

Sometime later, the rain woke me up. I don't think I'd really fallen asleep; I was just lost in an unthinking stupor, holding with all my strength to the numbness that kept me from realizing what I didn't want to know.

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