The Twilight Saga 3: Eclipse Chapter 10. SCENT
IT WAS ALL VERY CHILDISH. WHY ON EARTH SHOULD EDward have to leave for Jacob to come over? Weren’t we past this kind of immaturity?
“It’s not that I feel any personal antagonism toward him, Bella, it’s just easier for both of us,” Edward told me at the door. “I won’t be far away. You’ll be safe.”
“I’m not worried about that.”
He smiled, and then a sly look came into his eye. He pulled me close, burying his face in my hair. I could feel his cool breath saturate the strands as he exhaled; it raised goose bumps on my neck.
“I’ll be right back,” he said, and then he laughed aloud as if I’d just told a good joke.
“What’s so funny?”
But Edward just grinned and loped off toward the trees without answering.
Grumbling to myself, I went to clean up the kitchen. Before I even had the sink full of water, the doorbell rang. It was hard to get used to how much faster Jacob was without his car. How everyone seemed to be so much faster than me. . . .
“Come in, Jake!” I shouted.
I was concentrating on piling the dishes into the bubbly water, and I’d forgotten that Jacob moved like a ghost these days. So it made me jump when his voice was suddenly there behind me.
“Should you really leave your door unlocked like that? Oh, sorry.”
I’d slopped myself with the dishwater when he’d startled me.
“I’m not worried about anyone who would be deterred by a locked door,” I said while I wiped the front of my shirt with a dishtowel.
“Good point,” he agreed.
I turned to look at him, eyeing him critically. “Is it really so impossible to wear clothes, Jacob?” I asked. Once again, Jacob was bare-chested, wearing nothing but a pair of old cut-off jeans. Secretly, I wondered if he was just so proud of his new muscles that he couldn’t stand to cover them up. I had to admit, they were impressive – but I’d never thought of him as vain. “I mean, I know you don’t get cold anymore, but still.”
He ran a hand through his wet hair; it was falling in his eyes.
“It’s just easier,” he explained.
He smiled condescendingly. “It’s enough of a pain to carry the shorts around with me, let alone a complete outfit. What do I look like, a pack mule?”
I frowned. “What are you talking about, Jacob?”
His expression was superior, like I was missing something obvious. “My clothes don’t just pop in and out of existence when I change – I have to carry them with me while I run. Pardon me for keeping my burden light.”
I changed color. “I guess I didn’t think about that,” I muttered.
He laughed and pointed to a black leather cord, thin as a strand of yarn, that was wound three times below his left calf like an anklet. I hadn’t noticed before that his feet were bare, too. “That’s more than just a fashion statement – it sucks to carry jeans in your mouth.”
I didn’t know what to say to that.
He grinned. “Does my being half-naked bother you?”
Jacob laughed again, and I turned my back on him to focus on the dishes. I hoped he realized my blush was left over from embarrassment at my own stupidity, and had nothing to do with his question.
“Well, I suppose I should get to work.” He sighed. “I wouldn’t want to give him an excuse to say I’m slacking on my side.”
“Jacob, it’s not your job -“
He raised a hand to cut me off. “I’m working on a volunteer basis here. Now, where is the intruder’s scent the worst?”
“My bedroom, I think.”
His eyes narrowed. He didn’t like that any more than Edward had.
“I’ll just be a minute.”
I methodically scrubbed the plate I was holding. The only sound was the brush’s plastic bristles scraping round and round on the ceramic. I listened for something from above, a creak of the floorboard, the click of a door. There was nothing. I realized I’d been cleaning the same plate far longer than necessary, and I tried to pay attention to what I was doing.
“Whew!” Jacob said, inches behind me, scaring me again.
“Yeesh, Jake, cut that out!”
“Sorry. Here -” Jacob took the towel and mopped up my new spill. “I’ll make it up to you. You wash, I’ll rinse and dry.”
“Fine.” I gave him the plate.
“Well, the scent was easy enough to catch. By the way, your room reeks.”
“I’ll buy some air freshener.”
I washed and he dried in companionable silence for a few minutes.
“Can I ask you something?”
I handed him another plate. “That depends on what you want to know.”
“I’m not trying to be a jerk or anything – I’m honestly curious,” Jacob assured me.
“Fine. Go ahead.”
He paused for half a second. “What’s it like – having a vampire for a boyfriend?”
I rolled my eyes. “It’s the best.”
“I’m serious. The idea doesn’t bother you – it never creeps you out?”
He was silent as he reached for the bowl in my hands. I peeked up at his face – he was frowning, his lower lip jutting out.
“Anything else?” I asked.
He wrinkled his nose again. “Well . . . I was wondering . . . do you . . . y’know, kiss him?”
I laughed. “Yes.”
He shuddered. “Ugh.”
“To each her own,” I murmured.
“You don’t worry about the fangs?”
I smacked his arm, splashing him with dishwater. “Shut up, Jacob! You know he doesn’t have fangs!”
“Close enough,” he muttered.
I gritted my teeth and scrubbed a boning knife with more force than necessary.
“Can I ask another one?” he asked softly when I passed the knife to him. “Just curious, again.”
“Fine,” I snapped.
He turned the knife over and over in his hands under the stream of water. When he spoke, it was only a whisper. “You said a few weeks. . . . When, exactly . . . ?” He couldn’t finish.
“Graduation,” I whispered back, watching his face warily. Would this set him off again?
“So soon,” he breathed, his eyes closing. It didn’t sound like a question. It sounded like a lament. The muscles in his arms tightened and his shoulders were stiff.
“OW!” he shouted; it had gotten so still in the room that I jumped a foot in the air at his outburst.
His right hand had curled into a tense fist around the blade of the knife – he unclenched his hand and the knife clattered onto the counter. Across his palm was a long, deep gash. The blood streamed down his fingers and dripped on the floor.
“Damn it! Ouch!” he complained.
My head spun and my stomach rolled. I clung to the countertop with one hand, took a deep breath through my mouth, and forced myself to get a grip so that I could take care of him.
“Oh, no, Jacob! Oh, crap! Here, wrap this around it!” I shoved the dish towel at him, reaching for his hand. He shrugged away from me.
“It’s nothing, Bella, don’t worry about it.”
The room started to shimmer a little around the edges.
I took another deep breath. “Don’t worry?! You sliced your hand open!”
He ignored the dish towel I pushed at him. He put his hand under the faucet and let the water wash over the wound. The water ran red. My head whirled.
“Bella,” he said.
I looked away from the wound, up to his face. He was frowning, but his expression was calm.
“You look like you’re going to pass out, and you’re biting your lip off. Stop it. Relax. Breathe. I’m fine.”
I inhaled through my mouth and removed my teeth from my lower lip. “Don’t be brave.”
He rolled his eyes.
“Let’s go. I’ll drive you to the ER.” I was pretty sure I would be okay to drive. The walls were holding steady now, at least.
“Not necessary.” Jake turned off the water and took the towel from my hand. He twisted it loosely around his palm.
“Wait,” I protested. “Let me look at it.” I clutched the counter more firmly, to hold myself upright if the wound made me woozy again.
“Do you have a medical degree that you never told me about?”
“Just give me the chance to decide whether or not I’m going to throw a fit over taking you to the hospital.”
He made a face of mock horror. “Please, not a fit!”
“If you don’t let me see your hand, a fit is guaranteed.”
He inhaled deeply, and then let out a gusty sigh. “Fine.”
He unwound the towel and, when I reached out to take the cloth, he laid his hand in mine.
It took me a few seconds. I even flipped his hand over, though I was sure he’d cut his palm. I turned his hand back up, finally realizing that the angry pink, puckered line was all that was left of his wound.
“But . . . you were bleeding . . . so much.”
He pulled his hand back, his eyes steady and somber on mine.
“I heal fast.”
“I’ll say,” I mouthed.
I’d seen the long gash clearly, seen the blood that flowed into the sink. The rust-and-salt smell of it had almost pulled me under. It should have needed stitches. It should have taken days to scab over and then weeks to fade into the shiny pink scar that marked his skin now.
He screwed his mouth up into half a smile and thumped his fist once against his chest. “Werewolf, remember?”
His eyes held mine for an immeasurable moment.
“Right,” I finally said.
He laughed at my expression. “I told you this. You saw Paul’s scar.”
I shook my head to clear it. “It’s a little different, seeing the action sequence firsthand.”
I kneeled down and dug the bleach out of the cabinet under the sink. Then I poured some on a dusting rag and started scrubbing the floor. The burning scent of the bleach cleared the last of the dizziness from my head.
“Let me clean up,” Jacob said.
“I got this. Throw that towel in the wash, will you?”
When I was sure the floor smelled of nothing but bleach, I got up and rinsed the right side of the sink with bleach, too. Then I went to the laundry closet beside the pantry, and poured a cupful into the washing machine before starting it. Jacob watched me with a disapproving look on his face.
“Do you have obsessive-compulsive disorder?” he asked when I was done.
Huh. Maybe. But at least I had a good excuse this time. “We’re a bit sensitive to blood around here. I’m sure you can understand that.”
“Oh.” He wrinkled his nose again.
“Why not make it as easy as possible for him? What he’s doing is hard enough.”
“Sure, sure. Why not?”
I pulled the plug, and let the dirty water drain from the sink.
“Can I ask you something, Bella?”
“What’s it like – having a werewolf for a best friend?”
The question caught me off guard. I laughed out loud.
“Does it creep you out?” he pressed before I could answer.
“No. When the werewolf is being nice,” I qualified, “it’s the best.”
He grinned widely, his teeth bright against his russet skin. “Thanks, Bella,” he said, and then he grabbed my hand and wrenched me into one of his bone-crushing hugs.
Before I had time to react, he dropped his arms and stepped away.
“Ugh,” he said, his nose wrinkling. “Your hair stinks worse than your room.”
“Sorry,” I muttered. I suddenly understood what Edward had been laughing about earlier, after breathing on me.
“One of the many hazards of socializing with vampires,” Jacob said, shrugging. “It makes you smell bad. A minor hazard, comparatively.”
I glared at him. “I only smell bad to you, Jake.”
He grinned. “See you around, Bells.”
“Are you leaving?”
“He’s waiting for me to go. I can hear him outside.”
“I’ll go out the back,” he said, and then he paused. “Hold up a sec – hey, do you think you can come to La Push tonight? We’re having a bonfire party. Emily will be there, and you could meet Kim . . . And I know Quil wants to see you, too. He’s pretty peeved that you found out before he did.”
I grinned at that. I could just imagine how that would have irked Quil – Jacob’s little human gal pal down with the werewolves while he was still clueless. And then I sighed. “Yeah, Jake, I don’t know about that. See, it’s a little tense right now. . . .”
“C’mon, you think somebody’s going to get past all – all six of us?”
There was a strange pause as he stuttered over the end of his question. I wondered if he had trouble saying the word werewolf aloud, the way I often had difficulty with vampire.
His big dark eyes were full of unashamed pleading.
“I’ll ask,” I said doubtfully.
He made a noise in the back of his throat. “Is he your warden, now, too? You know, I saw this story on the news last week about controlling, abusive teenage relationships and -“
“Okay!” I cut him off, and then shoved his arm. “Time for the werewolf to get out!”
He grinned. “Bye, Bells. Be sure you ask permission.”
He ducked out the back door before I could find something to throw at him. I growled incoherently at the empty room.
Seconds after he was gone, Edward walked slowly into the kitchen, raindrops glistening like diamonds set into the bronze of his hair. His eyes were wary.
“Did you two get into a fight?” he asked.
“Edward!” I sang, throwing myself at him.
“Hi, there.” He laughed and wrapped his arms around me. “Are you trying to distract me? It’s working.”
“No, I didn’t fight with Jacob. Much. Why?”
“I was just wondering why you stabbed him. Not that I object.” With his chin, he gestured to the knife on the counter.
“Dang! I thought I got everything.”
I pulled away from him and ran to put the knife in the sink before I doused it with bleach.
“I didn’t stab him,” I explained as I worked. “He forgot he had a knife in his hand.”
Edward chuckled. “That’s not nearly as fun as the way I imagined it.”
He took a big envelope from his jacket pocket and tossed it on the counter. “I got your mail.”
“I think so.”
My eyes narrowed suspiciously at his tone. I went to investigate.
He’d folded the legal-sized envelope in half. I smoothed it open, surprised at the weight of the expensive paper, and read the return address.
“Dartmouth? Is this a joke?”
“I’m sure it’s an acceptance. It looks exactly like mine.”
“Good grief, Edward – what did you do?”
“I sent in your application, that’s all.”
“I may not be Dartmouth material, but I’m not stupid enough to believe that.”
“Dartmouth seems to think that you’re Dartmouth material.”
I took a deep breath and counted slowly to ten. “That’s very generous of them,” I finally said. “However, accepted or not, there is still the minor matter of tuition. I can’t afford it, and I’m not letting you throw away enough money to buy yourself another sports car just so that I can pretend to go to Dartmouth next year.”
“I don’t need another sports car. And you don’t have to pretend anything,” he murmured. “One year of college wouldn’t kill you. Maybe you’d even like it. Just think about it, Bella. Imagine how excited Charlie and Ren??e would be. . . .”
His velvet voice painted the picture in my head before I could block it. Of course Charlie would explode with pride – no one in the town of Forks would be able to escape the fallout from his excitement. And Ren??e would be hysterical with joy at my triumph – though she’d swear she wasn’t at all surprised. . . .
I tried to shake the image out of my head. “Edward. I’m worried about living through graduation, let alone this summer or next fall.”
His arms wrapped around me again. “No one is going to hurt you. You have all the time in the world.”
I sighed. “I’m mailing the contents of my bank account to Alaska tomorrow. It’s all the alibi I need. It’s far enough away that Charlie won’t expect a visit until Christmas at the earliest. And I’m sure I’ll think of some excuse by then. You know,” I teased halfheartedly, “this whole secrecy and deception thing is kind of a pain.”
Edward’s expression hardened. “It gets easier. After a few decades, everyone you know is dead. Problem solved.”
“Sorry, that was harsh.”
I stared down at the big white envelope, not seeing it. “But still true.”
“If I get this resolved, whatever it is we’re dealing with, will you please consider waiting?”
“Always so stubborn.”
The washing machine thumped and stuttered to a halt.
“Stupid piece of junk,” I muttered as I pulled away from him. I moved the one small towel that had unbalanced the otherwise empty machine, and started it again.
“This reminds me,” I said. “Could you ask Alice what she did with my stuff when she cleaned my room? I can’t find it anywhere.”
He looked at me with confused eyes. “Alice cleaned your room?”
“Yeah, I guess that’s what she was doing. When she came to get my pajamas and pillow and stuff to hold me hostage.” I glowered at him briefly. “She picked up everything that was lying around, my shirts, my socks, and I don’t know where she put them.”
Edward continued to look confused for one short moment, and then, abruptly, he was rigid.
“When did you notice your things were missing?”
“When I got back from the fake slumber party. Why?”
“I don’t think Alice took anything. Not your clothes, or your pillow. The things that were taken, these were things you’d worn . . . and touched . . . and slept on?”
“Yes. What is it, Edward?”
His expression was strained. “Things with your scent.”
We stared into each others eyes for a long moment.
“My visitor,” I muttered.
“He was gathering traces . . . evidence. To prove that he’d found you?”
“Why?” I whispered.
“I don’t know. But, Bella, I swear I will find out. I will.”
“I know you will,” I said, laying my head against his chest. Leaning there, I felt his phone vibrate in his pocket.
He pulled out his phone and glanced at the number. “Just the person I need to talk to,” he murmured, and then he flipped it open. “Carlisle, I -” He broke off and listened, his face taut with concentration for a few minutes. “I’ll check it out. Listen . . .”
He explained about my missing things, but from the side I was hearing, it sounded like Carlisle had no insights for us.
“Maybe I’ll go . . . ,” Edward said, trailing off as his eyes drifted toward me. “Maybe not. Don’t let Emmett go alone, you know how he gets. At least ask Alice keep an eye on things. We’ll figure this out later.”
He snapped the phone shut. “Where’s the paper?” he asked me.
“Um, I’m not sure. Why?”
“I need to see something. Did Charlie already throw it out?”
“Maybe. . . .”
He was back in half a second, new diamonds in his hair, a wet newspaper in his hands. He spread it out on the table, his eyes scanning quickly across the headlines. He leaned in, intent on something he was reading, one finger tracing passages that interested him most.
“Carlisle’s right . . . yes . . . very sloppy. Young and crazed? Or a death wish?” he muttered to himself.
I went to peek over his shoulder.
The headline of the Seattle Times read: “Murder Epidemic Continues – Police Have No New Leads.”
It was almost the same story Charlie had been complaining about a few weeks ago – the big-city violence that was pushing Seattle up the national murder hot-spot list. It wasn’t exactly the same story, though. The numbers were a lot higher.
“It’s getting worse,” I murmured.
He frowned. “Altogether out of control. This can’t be the work of just one newborn vampire. What’s going on? It’s as if they’ve never heard of the Volturi. Which is possible, I guess. No one has explained the rules to them . . . so who is creating them, then?”
“The Volturi?” I repeated, shuddering.
“This is exactly the kind of thing they routinely wipe out – immortals who threaten to expose us. They just cleaned up a mess like this a few years ago in Atlanta, and it hadn’t gotten nearly this bad. They will intervene soon, very soon, unless we can find some way to calm the situation. I’d really rather they didn’t come to Seattle just now. As long as they’re this close . . . they might decide to check on you.”
I shuddered again. “What can we do?”
“We need to know more before we can decide that. Perhaps if we can talk to these young ones, explain the rules, it can be resolved peacefully.” He frowned, like he didn’t think the chances of that were good. “We’ll wait until Alice has an idea of what’s going on. . . . We don’t want to step in until it’s absolutely necessary. After all, it’s not our responsibility. But it’s good we have Jasper,” he added, almost to himself. “If we are dealing with newborns, he’ll be helpful.”
Edward smiled darkly. “Jasper is sort of an expert on young vampires.”
“What do you mean, an expert?”
“You’ll have to ask him – the story is involved.”
“What a mess,” I mumbled.
“It does feel that way, doesn’t it? Like it’s coming at us from all sides these days.” He sighed. “Do you ever think that your life might be easier if you weren’t in love with me?”
“Maybe. It wouldn’t be much of a life, though.”
“For me,” he amended quietly. “And now, I suppose,” he continued with a wry smile, “you have something you want to ask me?”
I stared at him blankly. “I do?”
“Or maybe not.” He grinned. “I was rather under the impression that you’d promised to ask my permission to go to some kind of werewolf soir??e tonight.”
He grinned. “Just a bit, at the very end.”
“Well, I wasn’t going to ask you anyway. I figured you had enough to stress about.”
He put his hand under my chin, and held my face so that he could read my eyes. “Would you like to go?”
“It’s no big thing. Don’t worry about it.”
“You don’t have to ask my permission, Bella. I’m not your father – thank heaven for that. Perhaps you should ask Charlie, though.”
“But you know Charlie will say yes.”
“I do have a bit more insight into his probable answer than most people would, it’s true.”
I just stared at him, trying to understand what he wanted, and trying to put out of my mind the yearning I felt to go to La Push so that I wouldn’t be swayed by my own wishes. It was stupid to want to go hang out with a bunch of big idiot wolf-boys right now when there was so much that was frightening and unexplained going on. Of course, that was exactly why I wanted to go. I wanted to escape the death threats, for just a few hours . . . to be the less-mature, more-reckless Bella who could laugh it off with Jacob, if only briefly. But that didn’t matter.
“Bella,” Edward said. “I told you that I was going to be reasonable and trust your judgment. I meant that. If you trust the werewolves, then I’m not going to worry about them.”
“Wow,” I said, as I had last night.
“And Jacob’s right – about one thing, anyway – a pack of werewolves ought to be enough to protect even you for one evening.”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course. Only . . .”
I braced myself.
“I hope you won’t mind taking a few precautions? Allowing me to drive you to the boundary line, for one. And then taking a cell phone, so that I’ll know when to pick you up?”
“That sounds . . . very reasonable.”
He smiled at me, and I could see no trace of apprehension in his jewel-like eyes.
To no one’s surprise, Charlie had no problem at all with me going to La Push for a bonfire. Jacob crowed with undisguised exultation when I called to give him the news, and he seemed eager enough to embrace Edward’s safety measures. He promised to meet us at the line between territories at six.
I had decided, after a short internal debate, that I would not sell my motorcycle. I would take it back to La Push where it belonged and, when I no longer needed it anymore . . . well, then, I would insist that Jacob profit from his work somehow. He could sell it or give it to a friend. It didn’t matter to me.
Tonight seemed like a good opportunity to return the bike to Jacob’s garage. As gloomy as I was feeling about things lately, every day seemed like a possible last chance. I didn’t have time to procrastinate any task, no matter how minor.
Edward only nodded when I explained what I wanted, but I thought I saw a flicker of consternation in his eyes, and I knew he was no happier about the idea of me on a motorcycle than Charlie was.
I followed him back to his house, to the garage where I’d left the bike. It wasn’t until I pulled the truck in and got out that I realized the consternation might not be entirely about my safety this time.
Next to my little antique motorcycle, overshadowing it, was another vehicle. To call this other vehicle a motorcycle hardly seemed fair, since it didn’t seem to belong to the same family as my suddenly shabby- looking bike.
It was big and sleek and silver and – even totally motionless – it looked fast.
“What is that?”
“Nothing,” Edward murmured.
“It doesn’t look like nothing.”
Edward’s expression was casual; he seemed determined to blow it off. “Well, I didn’t know if you were going to forgive your friend, or he you, and I wondered if you would still want to ride your bike anyway. It sounded like it was something that you enjoyed. I thought I could go with you, if you wished.” He shrugged.
I stared at the beautiful machine. Beside it, my bike looked like a broken tricycle. I felt a sudden wave of sadness when I realized that this was not a bad analogy for the way I probably looked next to Edward.
“I wouldn’t be able to keep up with you,” I whispered.
Edward put his hand under my chin and pulled my face around so that he could see it straight on. With one finger, he tried to push the corner of my mouth up.
“I’d keep pace with you, Bella.”
“That wouldn’t be much fun for you.”
“Of course it would, if we were together.”
I bit my lip and imagined it for a moment. “Edward, if you thought I was going too fast or losing control of the bike or something, what would you do?”
He hesitated, obviously trying to find the right answer. I knew the truth: he’d find some way to save me before I crashed.
Then he smiled. It looked effortless, except for the tiny defensive tightening of his eyes.
“This is something you do with Jacob. I see that now.”
“It’s just that, well, I don’t slow him down so much, you know. I could try, I guess. . . .”
I eyed the silver motorcycle doubtfully.
“Don’t worry about it,” Edward said, and then he laughed lightly. “I saw Jasper admiring it. Perhaps it’s time he discovered a new way to travel. After all, Alice has her Porsche now.”
“Edward, I -“
He interrupted me with a quick kiss. “I said not to worry. But would you do something for me?”
“Whatever you need,” I promised quickly.
He dropped my face and leaned over the far side of the big motorcycle, retrieving something he had stashed there.
He came back with one object that was black and shapeless, and another that was red and easily identifiable.
“Please?” he asked, flashing the crooked smile that always destroyed my resistance.
I took the red helmet, weighing it in my hands. “I’ll look stupid.”
“No, you’ll look smart. Smart enough not to get yourself hurt.” He threw the black thing, whatever it was, over his arm and then took my face in his hands. “There are things between my hands right now that I can’t live without. You could take care of them.”
“Okay, fine. What’s that other thing?” I asked suspiciously.
He laughed and shook out some kind of padded jacket. “It’s a riding jacket. I hear road rash is quite uncomfortable, not that I would know myself.”
He held it out for me. With a deep sigh, I flipped my hair back and stuffed the helmet on my head. Then I shoved my arms through the sleeves of the jacket. He zipped me in, a smile playing around the corners of his lips, and took a step back.
I felt bulky.
“Be honest, how hideous do I look?”
He took another step back and pursed his lips.
“That bad, huh?” I muttered.
“No, no, Bella. Actually . . .” he seemed to be struggling for the right word. “You look . . . sexy.”
I laughed out loud. “Right.”
“Very sexy, really.”
“You are just saying that so that I’ll wear it,” I said. “But that’s okay. You’re right, it’s smarter.”
He wrapped his arms around me and pulled me against his chest. “You’re silly. I suppose that’s part of your charm. Though, I’ll admit it, this helmet does have its drawbacks.”
And then he pulled the helmet off so that he could kiss me.
As Edward drove me toward La Push a little while later, I realized that this unprecedented situation felt oddly familiar. It took me a moment of thought to pinpoint the source of the d??j?? vu.
“You know what this reminds me of?” I asked. “It’s just like when I was a kid and Ren??e would pass me off to Charlie for the summer. I feel like a seven-year-old.”
I didn’t mention it out loud, but the biggest difference between the two circumstances was that Ren??e and Charlie had been on better terms.
About halfway to La Push, we rounded the corner and found Jacob leaning against the side of the red Volkswagen he’d built for himself out of scraps. Jacob’s carefully neutral expression dissolved into a smile when I waved from the front seat.
Edward parked the Volvo thirty yards away.
“Call me whenever you’re ready to come home,” he said. “And I’ll be here.”
“I won’t be out late,” I promised.
Edward pulled the bike and my new gear out of the trunk of his car – I’d been quite impressed that it had all fit. But it wasn’t so hard to manage when you were strong enough to juggle full-sized vans, let alone small motorcycles.
Jacob watched, making no move to approach, his smile gone and his dark eyes indecipherable.
I tucked the helmet under my arm and threw the jacket across the seat.
“Do you have it all?” Edward asked.
“No problem,” I assured him.
He sighed and leaned toward me. I turned my face up for a goodbye peck, but Edward took me by
surprise, fastening his arms tightly around me and kissing me with as much enthusiasm as he had in the garage – before long, I was gasping for air.
Edward laughed quietly at something, and then let me go.
“Goodbye,” he said. “I really do like the jacket.”
As I turned away from him, I thought I saw a flash of something in his eyes that I wasn’t supposed to see. I couldn’t tell for sure what it was exactly. Worry, maybe. For a second I thought it was panic. But I was probably just making something out of nothing, as usual.
I could feel his eyes on my back as I pushed my bike toward the invisible vampire-werewolf treaty line to meet Jacob.
“What’s all that?” Jacob called to me, his voice wary, scrutinizing the motorcycle with an enigmatic expression.
“I thought I should put this back where it belongs,” I told him.
He pondered that for one short second, and then his wide smile stretched across his face.
I knew the exact point that I was in werewolf territory because Jacob shoved away from his car and loped quickly over to me, closing the distance in three long strides. He took the bike from me, balanced it on the kickstand, and grabbed me up in another vice-tight hug.
I heard the Volvo’s engine growl, and I struggled to get free.
“Cut it out, Jake!” I gasped breathlessly.
He laughed and set me down. I turned to wave goodbye, but the silver car was already disappearing around the curve in the road.
“Nice,” I commented, allowing some acid to leak into my voice.
His eyes widened in false innocence. “What?”
“He’s being pretty dang pleasant about this; you don’t need to push your luck.”
He laughed again, louder than before – he found what I’d said very funny indeed. I tried to see the joke as he walked around the Rabbit to hold my door open for me.
“Bella,” he finally said – still chuckling – as he shut the door behind me, “you can’t push what you don’t have.”