UPDATE #2 - Here's the .pdf but please don't forget to come back and say HI! xOxOx
Well, hey there! We sure are getting up there in the Chapters, aren't we? This waiting a week between updates is sort for the fucking birds, if you ask me, only because I am fucking impatient. Maybe you're like me. If so, then I'll oblige you by not going on and on about it in the introduction and cut to the chase.
Like Chapter 12, Reckoner, Chapter 24 has a required listening component. Again, the required listening is Radiohead, this time "There, There" from the album Hail to the Thief. This song is the song that you should be listening to from the opening of the chapter until, well I can't spoil it, so just listen to it from the beginning of the chapter and see how far you get. In the comments I'll
Heaven sent you to me, to me, to me
We are accidents, waiting to happen.
And another thing. I think I've told you how sad I am that I'll never see Osa Bella, the feature flick made. But I can pretend, and especially in this scene. So to properly imagine this (or to imagine it the way SnarkierThanYou and I do) please have the following two beauties in your mind:
That would be that cute guy on the left we all know and love, paired with Liv Tyler, who may or may not know how to act, but then, she is beautiful and looks just like Bella at 30 to me. And I will always love her for playing Arwen, I don't care. I didn't see Jersey Girl, because being from Jersey, just the idea that someone made a movie called Jersey Girl aggravates me. If that visual candy doesn't work for you, feel free to ignore it, by the way, along with anything else in this intro.
I'll be back with the pdf later - have to go make photocopies and get home. And I'll see you in the comments.
Love you lovers,
UPDATE: Oh fuckity, I totally forgot to give you the Chapter 23 recap, which goes a little like this. Bella gets into a car chase, running from Jake, who catches her, confronts her, Edward shows up, they have a tiff, Jake calls the pack, Edward and Bella take off to Port Angeles in the Vanquish, where they will meet up with the rest of the Cullens to figure out what to do about the very pissed off wolves. Edward then reveals that Illeana is his psychiatrist (WHAT?!), and that Bella has a session with her. Bella spills her fucking guts in Illeana's office about her grief for her dead husband Zack, and decides she will leave Forks with Edward. And now, and now...this.
In the elevator outside of Illeana's office Edward held my hand, a contemplative look about him, as though he was considering a lifetime of memories and how in succession they composed one long, but inconspicuous trail right to where we now stood, alone, descending into what was left of daylight out on the street. His eyes were dark and distant but I was acutely aware of his fingers, how present they felt intertwined with mine. It was that heightened tactile sensation I always felt anywhere on my body he touched me, any time he drew near to me. Whenever he touched me, wherever he touched me, I was somehow more alive.
As I attended his hand, stroking my thumb over his, feeling now the many years known to the curve of his fingers, the breadth of his palm, I almost dared to ask him. Will you make me yours forever? Don't leave me in this frail state where there's any chance I'll put you through the kind of hell you just witnessed on Illeana's couch. Make me immortal like you, with you. For you.
But an elevator was no place to request immortality. Better wait for the boat.
"Are we going to Reckoner now?" I asked.
"We can go anywhere you like."
"I want to go to Reckoner."
"You need clothes." He put his arm around my shoulders as we exited the building, reminding me of that chance meeting in Seattle last fall. Had it been chance?
"I suppose you're right, but I'd rather have a root canal than go to a mall right now. And my face looks like hell from all that crying, I'm sure."
"You look beautiful," he said, planting a soft kiss just above my eyebrow. "But I can ask Alice to stop and pick you up some things."
In the car he called her. "Bella needs a wardrobe, so buy a trunk. Don't buy all dresses—she likes jeans and t-shirts and she'll need summer things—a bathing suit." He paused. "Yes, definitely. She's your size."
"We're going to be gone awhile," he said.
"But I'm going home first so I can just grab my things."
"We'll talk about that," he said.
"There's nothing to talk about—I need to see Charlie before we leave, and I promised the kids I'd be at graduation."
"I'm not sure what's going on with the bears and I don't trust Jacob Black, so I don't want you in Forks right now."
"Jake would never hurt me."
"If he gets hold of you he won't let you go, and I will most definitely come for you, Bella. I can't promise I won't hurt him this time."
"Once Jake understands how I feel about you, he'll back off."
Edward laughed when I said that.
"I'm serious," I said.
"Your faith in people amazes me."
"He's not people. He's Jake."
Edward was angry, but he didn't say more. He didn't acquiesce, but he wouldn't be able to stop me, not in any reasonable way, though it still remained a question how unreasonable Edward might be in a circumstance like this. Would he force me to stay with him against my will? And a more unnerving question I had to ask myself—how much would I mind if he did?
A shadow fell across both our faces. I saw it on his, felt it on my own but wasn't sure which of our shared burdens cast it there. It could have been the tiff we were having about my return to Forks. But it also could have been the spilling of my grief in Illeana's office, the unfinished confrontation with Jake on the road, the damaged treaty between the Cullens and the Quileute, or even the fact that my ex-fiancé lay wounded, traumatized by a bear that may or may not have been a human once. And then there was the ominous, yet little-discussed fact that not twenty-four hours before I had nearly died by my own hand, and then had nearly been killed by him, saved only by the fortunate speed with which his family acted on our behalves. Any one of these things would have been enough strain between us. The combination of them was unbearable.
"Please don't be angry," I said. "I can't stand it."
"I don't want to be angry."
I took his hand into mine, caressing it, trying to break some of the tension between us. "What can I do?"
He looked up at the stoplight where we sat waiting as though he was looking for some kind of advice from the red beacon hanging in the street above. Then he looked over at me and said, "I guess I'll have to think of something." His cool eyes lit up as a small smirk cracked that irritated expression of his, and I nodded in understanding.
"Yes, give it some thought," I said. I put his hand to my mouth and kissed the underside of his fingers down to his palm. "Do you realize how many hours it's been since you've fucked me?"
"Too many. I'd be careful if I was you. If you tempt me now we may not make it back to the boat tonight."
"Is that some kind of threat?"
"That was your first and final warning."
"I'll take that under consideration."
He downshifted and then reached over and drew a cold hand up my skirt, causing me to gasp in surprise as his icy skin met the heat of my inner thigh. I squeezed my knees together instinctively, a reaction to the temperature difference. He pushed his hand further up between my thighs and I unhooked my seatbelt so I could move closer to him. I got on my knees in my seat and leaned over him as he drove down the main thoroughfare. Then I took his earlobe between my teeth, slipped my tongue around it, tasting the clean scent of his skin.
"Stop the car, Edward," I whispered, dropping my hand to his lap.
"You want me to pull over right here on Front Street?" He teased me, like he was shocked at the suggestion.
"Yes, here." I put my hand on his thigh and moved it slowly up his leg.
"No," he said. "Not here." Then he pulled off the main road, turning towards the waterfront and then down a little lane, into an empty parking lot, stopping in front of the sign for the trailhead for the Olympic Discovery Trail.
"This is an interesting time to go for a hike," I said.
"I think you'll like this one."
He leaned over and kissed me lightly on the lips and worked his hand back up between my legs. His finger hooked the fabric of my panties and quickly slipped them down over my knees, then down to my ankles, then freeing them from me. He twisted them between his fingers as he kissed me again, this time harder, demanding my lips part beneath his. Just as my breath began to get ragged with longing, he pulled away.
"Get out," he said.
I went to grab my panties from him but he pulled them out of reach and shook his head at me. "You won't be needing these," he said. He could barely contain the wicked smile that lit his eyes like the devil's own. His intent made me blush a heavy rose, but it was plain my apparent humility only added to his interest. I could feel myself hot and slick with anticipation. Edward inhaled deeply through his nose and nodded at the car door that I should let myself out.
I tried to act confident, haughty even, despite how naked I now felt beneath that little dress, as I stepped out of the car and strode over to the edge of the trees, my back to him, though I could feel him watching me. The smell of a cigarette caused me to turn at the trailhead, where I saw him lean casually against the Vanquish, smoking as he studied me. I looked down at the ballet flats on my feet, again wishing I had some proper kind of shoe on, but it didn't matter. I knew what he wanted. He nodded again, towards the woods.
I blew him a kiss and then disappeared up the trail, into the trees.
Although the sun was just beginning its descent, it wasn't quite dark yet, though under the tree cover it was darkening fast. Still I was able to see quite well, much better than I would have expected. As I ran through the trees I was happy my shoes were little impediment to speed. I leaped over a downed tree just off the path, feeling giddy, a little high. I love mania, I thought, though I knew in reality the dangers might lead to a devastating decision or two.
I continued to pick my way quickly, delicately through the woods, but heard nothing and no one advancing behind me. Then I realized he hadn't even left the car yet. I'd been given a head start.
I ran further, but where to hide? Edward was a hunter—he'd be able to guess what I would be thinking and he'd know how limited my options were out here. Trees, trees and more trees to hide behind. Not much sport in that. I savored the small rush of fear and excitement that caused my skin to electrify as I imagined him in the woods behind me, searching. The stalker.
The sound of the tide drew me out to the rocks where I debated heading for the water. He wouldn't think to look there, would he? Maybe under the pier? I'd have quite a bit further to run for that. I looked behind me, then looked ahead of me and saw no one. Too bad the beach is deserted, I thought. Hiding in a crowd might be fun—and more effective—under these circumstances.
I sniffed the air, wondering if my heightened senses might clue me in to his approach, but could smell nothing but the salt of the sea. I ducked just back from the beach, in behind the tree line again. Hearing no foot fall approaching, seeing no one on the trail, in the woods, or near the rocks, I paused. I pulled a shoe off to shake a pebble from it, and then felt the unmistakable touch of cold skin pressed to my lips as Edward's hand clasped over my mouth, muffling my shriek of surprise. His arm hooked around my waist and he dragged me backwards, away from the trail, into the woods, a most willing victim of his predatory skill.
My heart pounded as he lifted me off my feet, a piston churning blood forcefully through me, surging with adrenaline and desire, creating an intense euphoric lift. I couldn't stop myself from laughing into his hand, which he kept clamped securely over my mouth.
"Shhh," he said.
"Oh my God that was hot," I said when he let me speak. It was all I could say before his mouth crushed mine in a kiss of triumph, forceful, full of need as he held me still with one hand on the back of my neck, the other tightly around my waist. He exhaled over me and I inhaled him like thick smoke, heady cool breaths that tasted of sweet mint and cold stars. Perhaps it was some trick to subdue me, but I was then so overcome with desire I could no longer form words—could no longer form thoughts. I spoke to him only in the movement of my hands over his chest as I pulled his shirt away from his shoulders. I spoke to him with the heat of my skin against his, betraying my intense need of him as I savored the touch of his wandering hand.
Quickly his hands sought the bareness of my legs, then traveled up over my naked ass and he pulled me down, down to the ground, pushed my knees apart and pulled me onto him so that I straddled him as he knelt, the skirt of my dress draped over us. His cold thumbs pressed into my thighs, spreading me over him, then inched their way up, sliding along my center. I stifled the involuntary moans that tried to escape my lips with my own hands as I felt him trace me there with his fingers, parting me and then, and then, the tip of him resting against me. I gripped his head in my hands and looked into his deep, red eyes and plunged myself down onto him in one quick, hot thrust and gasped as I felt him hit.
He closed his eyes and paused, drew in a sharp breath, and then gripped my hips with his hands and began to rock into me, slow and gentle at first. I shuddered, undone by his steady movement as he stroked into me, now more deeply, and now less gentle. It was all I could do not to cry out in pleasure, scare off the wildlife and any random hikers that might wander on the trail so close to where I hoped we were hidden behind the trees. I leaned forward into him, wrapped my arms around his neck, and bit his shoulder to keep myself from making noise that might draw attention from any stragglers in the park, but his skin was impenetrable. I bit down harder, trying to make at least some mark on him, some evidence that I had been there. Just as I thought I might have felt a slight give, he buried one hand in my hair and pulled, snapping my head back, exposing the length of my neck.
"What are you made of? Iron?" I asked, but he gave no answer, and instead ran a trail of urgent kisses down my neck, electric but still cold against my burning skin. Then he began to fuck me harder as his lips reached that place he'd bitten me the night before. As I felt his mouth make contact with my scar and remembered how the taste of my blood had pleasured him, I came, shaking violently as I throbbed over him. My shoulders heaved, my head tipped further as my back curved and he moved his mouth down to my chest, pulled my dress to the side, exposing me even more as he caught my breast with his lips and tongued the rigid peak of my nipple.
I clenched around him tighter and then couldn't stop myself from moaning louder. His hand covered my mouth again and held it closed as he pushed me to the ground and began to fuck me even harder as I lay on my back beneath him. I opened my eyes and saw the view of the trees towering over, the brush around us, barely hiding us from the path down by the water. I kissed his hand as he held it pressed against my mouth, then he slid his fingers over my tongue and I sucked on them, tasting myself there as he thrust into me harder, pushing my knees back, tenderizing the core of me with his cresting desire. Again and again and again he lay into me, pushing me to the cliff. I could be happy evermore just to lay beneath him and take him like this. I didn't need to eat, I didn't need to sleep or breathe or even to speak again. I just needed him to fuck me. Just like this.
My body temperature began to rise, my heart pumping so audibly that the sound of my pulse threatened to drown out the wash of the relentless tide so many yards to the north. I was tightening like a spring dangerously loaded with too much tension when he said, "Now."
The sound of his voice forming that one simple word shattered me, fragments of myself arcing up over the forest floor as I came hard under him and then I felt him explode inside of me as the strong pulsing of my body worked him over. He shuddered once in my arms, let some of that strength be channeled elsewhere besides his unwavering commitment to self control. And as I felt him let go and then collapse on top of me, I thought to myself he is now really, finally mine.
As we lay together in that quiet pause, I stroked his hair, cherished the feel of his head nestled in the crook of my neck, comfortably spent, still and un-breathing.
"I'm not going back to Forks," I said.
He kissed me then, soft and gentle and I felt him stir within me. And then he kissed me again, a little harder, and then a little harder as I kissed him in return, full of emotion.
"I know you're not," he said, smiling down at me, casually twisting a strand of my hair between his forefinger and thumb.
"Oh is that so?" I said, mildly indignant. "What makes you so sure?"
"I caught you," he said, grinning. "You're mine now. You'll have to do as you're told." He ran his lips down the side of my neck to my shoulder.
The sharp intake of my breath, combined with the clamping down of my body around him at those words told us both that his little teasing of me in this matter had some unpredicted consequence for my heart. He brought his lips to mine again, but then hesitated and looked at me, his face softening from the previously playful expression to something else. I started to breathe quickly, nervously as he studied me, unsure of what to make of my feelings.
Then he gently withdrew from me, arranged the skirt of my dress, put himself back together and pulled me into his arms, cradling me as we sat on the ground. "There's a lot we still have to learn about each other," he said, his voice tender and reassuring. "I feel like I've known you for decades, so sometimes I forget you don't always know what's in my heart."
"I know that you love me," I said, now relaxing in his arms.
"That I do," he said. "You, Bella, are always what's first in my heart."
We returned to the path to look for my shoe, the one I'd been holding when he captured me. He carried me on his back and I rode him happily, like a child at play. I draped my arms around him, lay my head lazily over his shoulder, a bit worn but contentedly so.
"You must be hungry," he said. "It's getting late."
"Are you hungry?" I asked. "Or thirsty, I guess?"
"I won't need to hunt for a couple of weeks."
"That's convenient, not having to worry about eating for two weeks."
"Ha," he said. "Now that's a word I wouldn't have thought of. We'll stop and get you dinner on the way to the marina. We need to provision the boat, too. I haven't had time to stock her for you."
And so we went about the preparations for our evening, for our ultimate departure away from this world and all of its truths that I sometimes knew, sometimes loved, sometimes didn't. We almost felt like a normal couple making vacation plans, and not a vampire and his human love who had just had carnal knowledge of each other in a public park while on the run from wolves, on their way to rendezvous with his fantastic vampire family, planning their escape from whatever doom awaited them back in a sleepy town.
"There it is," I said, pointing to the scuffed ballet flat lying sole up on the side of the path.
"Good eye," he said.
When we arrived at the marina where Reckoner gently bobbed in her slip, I had the distinct feeling she was happy to see us. Or happy to see Edward, anyway, and I knew exactly how she felt. This time, though, she would have to share him with me, wherever she might bear us away.
It was dark as he climbed aboard but it didn't hinder him. Still he lit the cockpit lights and a soft glow emanated from small orbs around the lower decking, beautiful against the dark shadows of the sky, a small nod to the expanse of moon rising above. I handed him packages, mostly food and water for me, enough to last quite some time though we'd have to stop regularly for him to hunt. He helped me climb aboard and we went into the cabin to stow the supplies. When I reached the galley, I paused to remember our first kiss there and felt a strange pang of sadness for that lost Bella, the one whose heart had known the truth all along if only she'd been willing to listen.
Edward put his arms around me and sighed happily, resting his lips on the top of my head.
"Are you going to turn me?" I asked. He paused then, unmoving, and when I say unmoving, this was vampire stillness. He didn't breathe or blink or grit his teeth. There was no heartbeat to detect with my ear to his breast. Not the reaction I'd hoped for. "Please?"
"We'll talk about it," he said.
"We are talking about it. I thought Rosalie said you had to turn me if you were going to keep me." I laughed at how absurd that sounded. "It's like she thinks I'm a lost dog you picked up from the side of the road."
"Don't worry about Rosalie. She's just very bitter." He stowed a five gallon jug of water under a starboard bench. "Actually, maybe you should talk to her about becoming a vampire. She may change your mind."
"Why do you say that?"
"She hates being one."
"Because she can't have children," Edward said pointedly, his voice showing a little more strain than usual, hinting at some history there I'd begun to suspect but had no opportunity yet to explore. "And that's just one thing you'd have to forfeit if you were to become one of us."
"But I'd be immortal like you, right?" I asked.
"Sweetheart," he said, his voice soft, now comprehending my motivation. He kissed me on my brow and took my hands in his. "You have plenty of time before you have to worry about that, and there's a lot you need to learn first."
"I don't want to die and leave you." I hadn't expected tears just then, but there they were, threatening to spill over. I blinked and felt them roll down my face. Edward pulled me close and smoothed my hair.
"We'll talk about it. There's time."
We began to prepare the boat for launch, first pulling the sails out of the cabin. He climbed up on deck and began unpacking them from their bags. I kicked off my shoes and climbed up and sat next to him and helped him attach the sails to the lines. He smiled as he watched me work.
"It's all coming back to you, right?"
"I remember more about boats than I thought I would," I said. "Where are we going first?"
"I'm thinking San Juan Island," he said. "I promised I'd take you there this summer, remember?"
"I do," I said. "And your family is coming with us?"
"I hope not. If Carlisle's call to Billy Black went well I'd say we'll just have them on board a few hours while we talk. Let's hope that's the case, anyway—you really don't want to be trapped on a boat with Rosalie for longer than that."
"Hey you crazy kids," Emmett's voice called out from the dock.
Edward got up and helped me to my feet. Rosalie stood next to Emmett, her arms crossed, her face reflecting the anger she was containing, not very well. Of course she'd be angry, I thought. She doesn't like being a vampire, and there I was, a human hanging out with vampires and causing a bit of a headache as well.
"Look, I'm sorry," I began to say to her, but she turned her head away from me rudely. Yet I felt surprisingly relaxed in the face of her snub, and then saw Jasper on the dock, hauling my newly procured trunk. Alice was in high spirits after emptying out the local mall, and Rosalie gave her a smile.
"You're in a good mood," Rosalie said.
"Shopping always puts me in a good mood," Alice said. "We need to plan a trip to Paris before fall."
"Where's Mercy?" I asked, realizing she was missing. "Isn't she coming with us?"
"She went back to Seattle this morning," Alice said. "She has some rehearsing to do and then she's hitting the road again."
"It's too bad, too," Jasper said. "It would have been nice to have a little entertainment."
"Yeah, I was hoping that this could be a family meeting slash engagement party," Alice said, nudging me, causing me to wince.
"She turned me down," Edward said, raising his eyebrows playfully. "Smart girl," he said as he grazed my cheek with a casual kiss on his way to loosen a line from a cleat.
All of the vampires stopped then to look at me, different variations of surprise worn on their faces. Apparently they all knew that Edward had asked me to marry him, and it seemed they all assumed they knew the outcome of that proposal, too. The only one nonplussed by the turn of events appeared to be Edward, who was no help at all as he casually stowed loose lines and went about the tasks needed to set sail.
"What?" Alice said, surprised. "Are you kidding me? But… I saw him ask… no way did you say no."
"You saw what?" I blushed an even deeper red imagining what exactly Alice had seen, given the circumstances of his proposal.
"You said no to Edward? Really?" Rosalie said. "Awesome."
"Nobody says no to Edward," Emmett said. "I'm impressed."
"Well," I stalled. "I didn't exactly say no, I just thought I might be dreaming or crazy at the time when he asked… and, so… anyway…" My voice trailed off.
"I can't believe you said no," Alice said, puzzled, shaking her head. "My vision has been so spotty lately. It's driving me crazy."
Just then, Carlisle and Esme walked down the dock. Carlisle looked preoccupied and even from that distance I could see how Esme squeezed his hand supportively. Edward's mood shifted dramatically at Carlisle's approach, so much so that even Jasper looked worried. Esme and Carlisle boarded, and Edward continued to wrestle lines and make preparations for sail.
"What's wrong?" I asked him, but he didn't answer.
"Take the helm so I can unhitch this last cleat from the dock," he said. "I want to get underway."
"You're letting her take Reckoner out of port?" Emmett said. "You must really be in love."
"She's the only one here who appreciates this boat properly."
Out on Sequim Bay I turned into the wind while Edward hoisted the sails. I fell off to north-by-northwest and we caught a delicious breeze as the sun began to disappear under horizon. Edward came and hooked up the auto pilot and we all sat around the cockpit.
"Billy Black has agreed to meet with us to see if a new treaty can be worked out," Carlisle said. "He and I both believe this is a misunderstanding between Edward, Jacob and Bella and as such, the spirit of the old treaty is still intact. But there's something we need to know first." Then he turned to me. "Bella, is it true that Jacob Black intends to marry you?"
"What?" Alice said, gaping at me. "Is that why you said no to Edward?"
"You said no to Edward?" Esme said, surprised. Edward looked down at the deck and then at me expectantly. It was one of those moments, rare as they were, when I wished he could just read my mind. I shook my head.
"I'm not marrying Jacob Black. That's crazy. Did he say that?"
"It sounded like you two had some sort of arrangement worked out," Carlisle said.
"We definitely did not."
"Jacob claims the two of you discussed this on Memorial Day," Carlisle said.
"Oh God," I said, recalling the world's most humiliating marriage proposal. Edward's face grew dark with anger, enough to send a chill through me. "First of all, I was drunk on Tequila. But yes, he told me if I was still single in three years, he'd marry me—it was pathetic." Rosalie laughed.
"Well, apparently there's some misunderstanding," Carlisle said.
"Did you expressly refuse him?" Edward asked.
"I don't remember my exact words," I said, my heart speeding up as I tried to recall the conversation. "I told him I didn't want to marry him."
"Bella, saying you don't want to isn't the same as saying you won't do it. Especially if you then turn around and let him bed you," Edward said between gritted teeth to my deep, deep embarrassment. I glared at him.
"Wow," Rosalie said. "This just gets better and better."
"You have no right to be angry about that," I snapped at him. "You told me to find someone else." Jasper came and lay a hand lightly on my shoulder, pointing his gaze over to Edward. Despite myself, my anger began to fade.
"He thinks he's marrying you now," Edward said. "Right, Carlisle?"
"No, he can't think that," I said.
"Jacob is claiming that you are his intended mate, Bella," Carlisle said.
"That's insane," I said. "Just yesterday afternoon he himself said he didn't want any kind of formality to our relationship. Now he thinks I'm the future mother of his children?"
"He believes Edward has seduced you away from him, against your own will. Billy Black and the council elders want a new treaty, but Jacob is the alpha and he can drive the pack to do what he wants. He says he'll only support a new treaty if it can be demonstrated that you haven't been enchanted—that she's chosen you, Edward, of her free own will."
"I have chosen Edward of my own free will," I said, looking directly at Edward. The flat line of his mouth softened then as his eyes met mine. "Don't ever doubt that."
"You have to go back to Forks to see Jacob," Carlisle said. "He wants to speak to you alone, without Edward present."
"No," Edward said. "Absolutely not. He'll take her, and I will come for her and then it will be war."
"She has to go," Carlisle said, leveling a look at Edward. "I've given my word."
For certain I expected some kind of protest from Edward, but none was forthcoming. I saw the determined, yet resigned look on his face but I didn't understand it. I knew Carlisle was in the "father" role of the Cullens, but had no idea how he managed to wield the kind of influence he had.
"I've told you my position," Edward said. "If Jacob Black takes her, I'll go after her."
"I know," Carlisle said. "And we'll go with you."
"I'm not risking my life for her, I'm sorry," Rosalie said. "What is she to me?"
"She's part of us now, Rosalie," Carlisle said. "She is with Edward and that makes her family. We look out for our family."
"Risk your life? I thought you were immortal," I said.
"Haven't you ever watched any television? Seen any movies?" Rosalie said. "Werewolves can kill us."
"Only if they outnumber us," Edward said.
"They do outnumber us," Rosalie said. "And that's not even counting the bears."
"The bears can kill you too?"
"Only if we're outnumbered," Edward repeated.
"Did Billy say anything about the bears, Carlisle?" I asked. "Why are they being so aggressive now?"
"I didn't ask," he said. "Things are tense enough with the Quileute, and I don't want to raise any suspicions that the bears are somehow reacting to our presence in the area, but I suspect that might be the case. If we create a new treaty with the Quileute, then hopefully we can find a way to communicate peaceful intentions to the Ani Tsa gu hi."
"But we've killed two of them," Edward said. "I don't know if that's realistic."
"We can try," Carlisle said. "That's all we can do."
"Alice, can you see anything about how it will work out with them?" Edward asked.
"No," she said, shaking her head and then holding it in her hands. "I feel so blind right now. It's terrible."
"Relax," Jasper said, rubbing her shoulder. "It will come to you more easily if you don't stress over it." Then he pulled her into his arms and held her gently.
"Well I'm going to straighten this out with Jacob," I said. "My family has been close with the Blacks for generations—they're like family. You'll be able to draw up a new treaty and then Edward and I can just leave. I don't want any of you risking your lives. It's not necessary."
"You're overconfident," Edward said. "You don't know what's in Jacob's head."
"I know what's in his heart," I said. "This is Jacob Black we're talking about. He's been my friend since kindergarten. And there's one other thing you're not realizing here."
"What?" Edward said, his brow wrinkled in stress and frustration.
"Jacob is afraid of Charlie," I said. "He'll never pull anything if Charlie's around."
"How will you talk to Jacob with your father around?" Emmett asked.
"We can meet at graduation," I said. "I promised the kids I would go and it's public, so there's a lot less risk of a big confrontation. There will be so much chaos after the ceremony it'll be easy to talk while Charlie is distracted. Jake and Billy and the Quileute elders can go under the pretense of seeing the Thoreau Club kids graduate—they all know them."
"It's done then," Carlisle said. "We'll meet them on Saturday at the graduation ceremony. Edward you'll have to stay out of sight, of course. Everyone thinks you're in Alaska."
"Getting your head shrunk," Rosalie said. Emmett and Jasper laughed and Edward finally cracked a small smile.
"So I'll finally get to graduate high school after all!" Alice clapped her hands. "I've never graduated before. Can we throw a party?"
"A small family party," Esme said. "Sure, why not?"
"Assuming we're not at war with the Quileute," Edward said.
"We won't be," I said. "I promise."