The Awakening A Twilight Fan Fiction Jessica Schwab 1.

Beautiful Dreamer

It all started like this . . . I woke up on a beautiful spring morning. The sun was streaming in through t he tinted glass of my window. Friday, I thought. If today goes by smoothly, then I have nothing to worry about all weekend. I hop out of bed and stretch my body . Today was not like most days. Every other day this week, I haven't gotten any sleep and I was so out of it. It seemed that God had to cause me grief at some p oint. Why not start now? I glanced at the alarm clock. Six-thirty. "This is good ," I whispered under my breath. Pacing myself to the door, I grab hold of the door knob, give it a good twi st, and it opens without strain. I swung it open. A hand reaches out to my head and fluffs through my hair. "Good morning, Bella. Sleep well?" Charlie stands in the doorway and runs h is fingers through my thin hair. I make a noise somewhere between a laugh and a snort. "Yes, Cha . . . Dad," I scoot out of his way, "Can I please have my hair ba ck?" "Oh," he lets go of it almost immediately. "Sorry. Forgot about that." I smile. "It's all right, dad. Now, if you'd excuse me, I'm going to get re ady for school now." "Of course. Go ahead." I smile as he points his index finger to the bathroo m door. He walks downstairs with a smirk on his face. I frown. As I open the door to the bathroom, I am startled by a pale hand reaching u p to my face. "Good morning, Bella," Edward steps forward and pecks my cheek. "Hey! You have to stop that?" "Stop what?" "Appearing out of thin air." "Shut up." "What are you doing here?" "Well, I wasn't going to wait forever for you to wake up, was I?" I giggle. "There's two problems with that. One: you don't sleep. And two: y ou can wait forever. You have forever, actually. So what is the deal here?" "I never said there was a deal." I laugh. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I am going to take a quick shower. You can leave now," I crouch down and retrieve a towel from underneath the sink. "Do you need a human moment?" "Yes please," I shut the door in his face. "Okay. I'll be downstairs. I'll see you down there when you're done." "Okay." I set the towel onto the toilet and turn on the shower. I am out and wrappe d in that towel within ten minutes. I walk to my room and throw on my garments, jeans, undershirt, a t-shirt, a pair of white ankle-length socks, and black conv erse. Grabbing my red bag, I swing it on my back and throw open my bedroom door. "Bella? You up there? You're going to be late for school if you don't come down now!" I hear Charlie outburst from the kitchen. "I'm coming!" I race down the stairs, tripping over my own feet. I slide do wn on my back and finally stop at the foot of the stairs, landing flat on my but t. "Ow," I sit up. "Next time, don't run," Charlie shouts to me. "Yeah, yeah." I regain my balance once again and make my way to the kitchen. Edward has a

glass of water in his hand. "How'd you sleep?" Charlie spoke first. I grab a glass of water and swallow it down before I respond. "Fine." "Guess what next month is?" Edward keeps a straight face. "What?" I ask. Edward gives me a look that triggers my memory. "Oh, shoot. Please don't remind me about that." "About what?" Charlie asks, puzzled. "Graduation," I mutter under my breath. "Pardon?" "Graduation," I say out loud. "Oh! Gosh, how could I have forgotten about that?" Charlie gasps. "I know. Please don't bring it up right now, dad. Edward, you ready?" "Yes. You?" "Ready as ever. Bye, dad!" I call as I sprint toward the door. "Bella! Aren't you going to eat?" Charlie bellows. "I'm not hungry! Bye!" I slam the door. He snorts. "Kids these days," Charlie takes a sip of his tea. Edward and I arrive at school in record time. I climb out of my Chevy while Edward remains in his Volvo. "Edward? What is it?" I tap on his shoulder. His face is like stone. "Jacob is coming. I can smell him", he ducks in the car. I shrug. I hear hi m whisper "I can smell him." "You can smell him?" I ask. Too late. Edward has hidden from sight and I ge t a strong whiff of a wet dog as Jacob paces over to Edward's Volvo. "Good morning, Bella. Sleep well?" he places a single hand on top of his Vo lvo. I can hear a growl start to grow in the back of Edward's throat. Jacob pays no attention. "Where's your little vampire boyfriend?" Jacob snorts. I shrug. "He's probably all ready inside. You know Edward. Always wanting to be on t ime. Except for when he's ditching. Then his vital purpose is to not even show u p," I studder. Jacob gives me a look. "Man, you are so bad at lying, Bella", Jacob sticks his hand into Edward's Volvo and thunks him on the head. "Hey, watch where you point those stubby paws of yours," Edward jumped up a nd growled. "Why you little-" "Little? Who are you calling little!" Jacob jumps on top of Edward. "Guys! Now is not the time for fighting! The last thing we want happening i s getting suspended, or worse, expelled, right before graduation. So go on, Jaco b. Go back on Reservation. School is starting soon. Go on," I shove Jacob playfu lly in another direction and pull Edward out of his Volvo. Jacob snarls under hi s breath as he storms off. I give Edward a disgusting look. "Edward! Snap out of it! Do you seriously want to get expelled just before graduation?" He shrugs. "I don't know. Honestly, it wouldn't matter much. Don't you know that I've already graduated? Several times, in fact," he laughs silently. "All right, that's a good one. But seriously!" I snap back into attention. "You need to shape up! I don't care if you have already done this, numerous time s, in fact, I haven't. So don't ruin this for me! Go! Go!" I push him toward the door of our first class. He shrugs and files in the door. Gym is a drag. Volleyball . . . Yuck. I've never been any good at volleybal l. I can still vaguely remember my first day at school in Forks. The day I met M ike . . . I stared across the gym and waited for the ball to come hurling toward my f ace before I noticed Mike. He was in a ready position, feet at shoulder-length a part, hands clasped together in front of his torso, his face calm and composed. He didn't notice me until I looked away. "Hey! Bella!" he calls. I turn and face him.

"Mike! Hi!" I scoot out of the way of the ball and pace towards him. "Hey! How've you been?" Mike ruffles his hair with his hand. I smile reluct antly. "Um . . . I've been fine. How have you been putting up with life without me ?" I giggle. "Excuse me?" Mike misheard me. "I asked how you are putting up with life without me." Mike sighed. "Oh, that? No, I'm fine. Someday, Cullen will turn and realize how insignificant you are to him. Then you will come crawling back to me", he l aughs to himself. An uncomprehending look crosses my face. "We'll just see about that." "You should probably get back to your game. Your team will be needing you s oon. I'll . . . see you later?" "Yep. See you", I turn and return to my game. I turn just in time to be pel ted by the volleyball. It knocks me flat on my face. "Had a nice conversation with Newton, Bella? Haha!" I hear a chant from acr oss the room. I hear Mike sigh. The impact of the fall has knocked me out cold. I hear a familiar voice saying "Bella? Are you alright?" "Is she alright?" Angela lingers over me. "Yeah. She's fine. Look, she's regaining consciousness all ready", the nurse points to me, sprawled on my back. My eyes flutter open and the first words that come awkwardly to my lips are, "Edward? Edward? Where are you?" "Calm down, Bella. He's right here." I open my eyes to Alice's hand on her older brother. "Edward? Is that you?" I rise to my elbows, and the pain creeps up my arms and my head hit the fluffy pillow immediately. "It's alright, Bella. I'm here," Edward's soothing voice calms my racing he art. "Edward? Is it really you?" "Yes, my love", (Mike grimmaces at that word), "It's okay. I'm here." "Oh, Edward," I cry. "Oh, yes. It's okay." "Okay, Cullen, I think she gets it. Now won't you do something about it?" t he nurse asks impatiently. Edward rebounds. 'Bella, it's okay. I'm here. Don't panic,' Edward speaks to me through tele pathy. A smile creases over my lips. "I think she's fine, now. It was just a nice blow to the head. Bella? Can y ou get up?" I hear Alice's familiar sweet voice. Edward helps me lean up. I am s mart enough to not crawl up by my elbows. "Are you okay, Bella?" Edward whispers into my ear. My lips part slightly. "Yes. I am fine. I will be fine, I mean. I wouldn't quite classify myself a s 'fine' right now," I say. Mike gasps. "No, you're not okay. She's worse than she was before. Do you hear her? She 's using big words," Mike attaches his hands to the railing to my bed and collap ses, his hands still attached. "Oh dear," the nurse rolled her eyes. "There's always one. It's the same sto ry every time. Someone gets pelted in the head with a volleyball. The victim beg ins speaking in bumper stickers, and someone freaks out. Then we end up right ba ck where we started." "Exactly," Jasper said. Everyone turned around, startled. "When did you get here?" Jessica asked. "When did you get here?" Bella questioned the two confused beings. "I've been here the whole time," Jasper smiled. Edward and Alice winked at their brother. He smiled "Are you alright, Bella?" Jasper sat down on the bed next to me. I was stil l sitting up by now. "I'm fine," I said. I leaned in next to his ear and whispered, "I am going to get you later for this emotion-control thing." "Okay. It's not like you could do this much damage anyway."

"Oh, we'll just see about that," I crawled out of the bed I was provided. "So what now?" The nurse hesitated. "I think you should go home. Cullen thinks so too, and he and his family have agreed to take you home. Go on, Ms. Swan." Edward helped me out of bed and out the door. Alice and Jasper followed. "You're going to ride in my car," Edward opened the door for me. "Actually, I am going to ride with Alice-" "I should have seen that coming," Alice giggled sarcastically. I laughed along with her. "I want to talk to her and Jasper aboutsomething. Do you mind riding alone?" I asked. Edward closed the door to his Volvo that he had opened for me. "Yeah. It's fine. As long as Alice and Jasper keep their thought to themsel ves." "Don't worry. We will," Alice helped me into their car. "So what was it you needed to talk to us about?" Jasper asked. I placed my hands on my lap. "It's about Edward-- and Jacob." "You mean wolf-boy?" Jasper laughed. I did not find this much of a laughing matter. "Hey, don't be mean. You know that if Jacob was here, he would rip your hea d off." "Oh, we'll just see about that," Jasper buckled up his seatbelt. "Are you okay?" I asked. "Why would you ask such a silly question?" Jasper tuned to look at me. "You're wearing a seatbelt." "I am a vampire-" "Tell me something I don't know," Alice protested. "What I mean is that you are a vampire, therefore, it wouldn't make much of a difference if we crashed." "It would have an impact on you. If you died, it would be all our faults. A re you understanding the importance of this now?" Jasper glared at me. "That's partly what I wanted to talk to you about," I confessed. "What? Dying? I assure you that you will not have to worry about it for a long time." "No. That's what I wanted to talk to you about." "Oh. You mean immortality?" Alice kept her eyes on the road. "Kinda, yeah-" "Bella, put your seatbelt on," Alice urged. She was seeing something, but n obody knew what. "What the hell are you talking about-" "Bella! Put your seatbelt on NOW!" she screamed viciously. I fumbled for th e seatbelt just before we flew off the curb and down the ravine. Now I knew what Alice had seen. She had seen us crashing, me dying, most likely. Just before we hit the ground, a shiny Volvo skidded down the road and its owner jumped out and down the ravine. The weight of the truck crushed him. His b ody was caught underneath the front wheel. He had stopped the truck, but he didn 't save himself, which I found was not part of the bargain. "Edward!" I jumped out of the truck and down the ravine. His torso was bein g crushed form the weight of the truck. He tried lifting the truck off of him. T his wasn't working. The truck was square on top of his source of strength. I got down on my hands and knees and tried to pry the truck off of his notso-fragile body. I didn't stand a chance. "Help me. Please," I tried again. "Help me, please. He's hurt." "Well, technically speaking, he's just fine," Jasper said. "Well, in the long-run, he needs my help," I argued with Jasper. Neither of them moved. But Alice spoke for the first time after the accident. "Bella. We have to leave him. Come on." I was disgusted. "What do you mean, we have to leave him? He needs my help! " "Bella. Just leave him. He'll be fine."

"Bella. Look at your arm." I looked down. A cut was searing from all of the way from my shoulder to ju st below my elbow. "You're hurt," Alice knelt down beside me, examining the cut. "I'm fine," I tried to convince them. "Really. I don't feel a thing." "That only makes it a whole lot worse. The nerves have been cut off on your arm. All of them." "We have to get you to Carlisle. He'll take care of this," Jasper helped me up and helped me onto his back. "No we don't. Carlisle has helped me enough to last a lifetime. There's no way I am going to put another burden on his back. There's no way," I argued. "Either we bring you to Carlisle and let him tend to your wounds, or we lea ve you here in the ravine between our land and the Quiliute's land," Alice said. "Carlisle it is," I sighed.

2.

Graduation

Alice brought me to her house to let Carlisle tend to my wounds. It wasn't as bad as I had anticipated on it being, but it could be worse. "Alice? What's the matter?" Carlisle walked up to Alice with me in her arms . "Bella got hit in the head and knocked out with a volleyball, and the nurse recommended we bring her home. On the way home, I saw a vision of us crashing d own the ravine. Bella did not have her seatbelt on. I yelled at her to put it on , but she didn't have time before we came crashing down the ravine. Bella was th rown out of the car. So we came here and hoped you could tend to her wounds," Alice showed him me. "Of course. Bring her in here," Carlisle walked to the kitchen table and place his hand on the table. Alice set me down. "What is wron g with her?" he asked. "We are not entirely sure. We think that her arm is broken. All of the nerv es have been cut off in her arm. She passed out on the way home. From here, we d o not know," Jasper took a good look at me. As did Carlisle. "It appears that she had a fractured shoulder, and a dislocated elbow. But that's just the least of our problems. She seems to have suffered a concussion. Not a major one, but enough to knock her out for a while." "Can you heal her?" Jasper leaned over me. Carlisle nodded. "I can. It should take a while, though. I can't think of s omething off hand to tell Charlie. An alibi." Alice stepped forward. "Don't worry. I'll come up with something. I'll reas on with him." "I thought he hated us," Jasper said. Alice laughed. "No. He hates Edward. Not me. I'll come up with an alibi. Yo u work on her, and I'll take care of the rest." "Thank you, Alice," Carlisle said just before Alice jumped out the window a nd dashed into the forest. "Please help me rotate her around. I can't work on her when her face is pre ssed against the table," Carlisle asked. Jasper grabbed my waist and flipped it around while Carlisle supported my neck and head. "That's it. Just a little bit more-- got it. Can you please fetch my doctor 's bag for me?" Carlisle held out his hand. "Which one?" Jasper laughed. "Jasper. You know which one. Just hand it to me," Carlisle grumbled as he s tretched his hand out. Jasper handed Carlisle his bag. "Okay. Let's see what we have here-- ah. Here we go," Carlisle began tendin g to my wounds. I awoke to a slight tugging sensation on my arm. Carlisle had cl

eaned my cut, and was stitching it up. "Welcome back, Bella. It's nice to have the sense that I am not treating a dead patient." "It's nice to have the sense that I am alive again," I lied completely stil l. Carlisle laughed. "Touché." "What happened exactly?" I asked. Everything seemed like a huge blob of gra y. "Jasper? Would you mind doing the honors?" Carlisle stepped back. Jasper st epped forward. "Shall I start at the beginning? Or play where we left off?" "Beginning," I said. "Okay. The beginning, then. When you were pelted in the head with a volleyb all, you blacked out and woke up in the health office. The nurse decided it best if you went home. We volunteered to take you home. We made it into Alice's car because you wanted to talk to Alice about something. Alice and I. We made it dow n the road and Alice was having a vision. She told you to put your seatbelt on. Before you could do so, we went skidded off the road and down the ravine dividin g our land by the Quiliute's land. You flew out of the open door. Edward stopped the car, but it crushed him flat. You tried to lift the car off of him, but we told you to leave him alone. Then you noticed your injuries: a skinned shoulder and a dislocated elbow. Not to mention the enormous cut stretching from your sho ulder to just below your elbow. We didn't know that you had a concussion until y ou passed out in the car and we couldn't wake you up. Then we arrived here, and we ended up right back where we started." "Wow. No wonder everything seems like just a gray blob. There was too much to remember," I rubbed my head. "Of course, inferior human." "When I become like you, I am going to beat the snot out of you. Newborns a re much more powerful than older vampires." "Seven to one. You're outnumbered." "Yes. And the odds are exactly in your favor," I laughed. No one else did. â Wha t time is it?" I glanced around. "Eleven-fifty five." Before I could sigh with relief, Edward tossed the door open. "Bella? Bella? Where are you? Bella?" Edward threw the door closed and zoom ed to the kitchen. "Bella!" "Calm down, Edward. She's fine. Carlisle is taking care of her," Jasper tri ed to calm Edward down. His powers did not work on other vampires, though. "God, Bella, don't ever scare me like that again. Next time, be a smart hum an and put your seat belt on when you should," Edward lied his hands under my he ad. My scent drifted up to him. "I'm fine Edward. Really. There's nothing you need to worry about, Edward," I managed to convince him to calm down. He sat down. "What time is it now?" I asked. "Eleven fifty-nine--" Right on cue, my stomach gave a violent growl. There was an awkward silence as everyone stared at me. Jasper was glancing at the clock. "Wow. Twelve-o-clock on the dot. Someone must be keeping a stop watch for y ou." The only thing I could manage was, "I'm sorry." Everyone was dumbfounded. "Sorry? Why are you sorry?" Jasper asked. "I just-- I just thought that you guys don't eat, so--" "Of course. That's very considerate of you," Carlisle was no longer working on me. He was staring at me just like the rest of the Cullen clan. "You shouldn't have skipped breakfast, Bella," Edward warned me a little to o late. "Thanks, Edward." "You skipped breakfast? The most important meal of the day?" Jasper gasped.

"Very funny, Jasper--" "No. Jasper is right. Even I am a doctor, and I tend to agree with Jasper. I do not think that the concussion had anything to do with your concussion." "I'll take her to lunch after you are done working on her," Edward was the first to volunteer. "No, you should take some time away from Bella. I'll take her," Jasper trie d. "No. We will all take her. Besides, there must be something each of us want to discuss with Bella," Carlisle continued working on me. "I want to go, too," Alice jumped through the window. "Don't worry. I came up with an alibi to tell Charlie. He thinks that Bella is going to lunch with us . Which is true." "Okay. We can all go. Any other takers?" Carlisle looked around. We were on ce again overwhelmed by silence. "Okay. When I am done working on her, we will all go. Do me a favor and ord er something? Even if you are not going to eat it, I don't want their employees to get suspicious of our kind," Carlisle directed to his kids. All I could think of to myself was, this is going to be interesting. Going to lunch with four vampires who don't eat. What could go wrong? "When do you think you'll be done?" Alice asked. She was still lingering ov er me. "About an hour or so. I still have to stitch up her arm, apply a bandage to her raw shoulder, and pop her elbow back into place--" "What?" I asked, dazed. "I have to pop your elbow back into place. It sounds painful, but it should be over in about five seconds. Are you ready?" "No. But do it, anyway," I gritted my teeth. Pop! "Ah!" I screamed. "It's over, Bella. You can relax now," Carlisle informed me. How can I relax when all of my muscles are tense? "Okay," I tried to relax. "How is that?" Carlisle eyed me curiously. "That's a heck of a lot better. Thanks, Carlisle," I smiled. "Good. It was a pleasure doing business with you." "And I told Alice and Jasper that I didn't need your help because you have helped me more than enough times to last a lifetime. Boy was I wrong." "Yes, you were," Alice laughed. I joined in. "Where would we be without Carlisle?" I said. Rosalie walked in and stopped . She glared at me, and then turned her head and left. Her gorgeous blond hair w as tossed over her shoulder. "Rosalie-" "What, Bella?" she turned around. The mascara was running down her face. "Y ou should have thought about asking that question before a certain individual wa lked into the room. Goodbye, Bella." "Don't worry about Rosalie. She's just stressed out." "Yes. Let's just ignore Rosalie and pretend this she doesn't exist. Believe me; you would have no idea where you were without me." As Rosalie walked off, Alice yelled at her, "Do you want to go get lunch fo r Bella with us?" A thought sparked her mind as she stormed off. She whimpered as she ran off . "I am going to take that as a no," Alice said. "What did I do? What did I do to make her hate me?" I closed my eyes and si ghed. "Oh, Bella," Carlisle sat down on the table next to me. "She does not hate you." "She doesn't particularly like you, but," Jasper said. "What do you mean?" I asked.

"She doesn't really like you because you are choosing to become what she is , and she did not have a choice." "Yeah. She has told me that story before. It is so sad what happened to her ." "It is so sad what happened to all of us," Emmett jumped through the window . "We all have our own stories." "Yeah. I have heard all of them. Especially Rosalie's." "For some reason, it is always Rosalie's that I remember the most. What hap pened between her and her fiancé." Emmett sighed. "I can go talk to her if you want me to. I can try to reason with her. Besides, it might be best if we all take Bella to lunch. We all need to get out of the house together sooner or later." Carlisle nodded. "Yes. You go talk to her, I will finish with Bella, and th en we will all go. Are you l most ready, Bella?" "Yes," I nodded uncertainly. It depended on how long it took Carlisle to wo rk on me, but the gnawing in my stomach was becoming painful. Carlisle worked on me while Emmett raced himself upstairs to talk to Rosali e. "Hey, baby. Are you okay?" Emmett opened the door to her room. A smile crea sed Rosalie's face. "Hey Emmett," she turned around while Emmett caught her and gave her a ligh t peck on the cheek. "Are you okay?" he asked her. She turned away. "Yes. I am fine. It's just-- Bella is at it again. I mean, she is trying to make me feel bad. About what happened to me." "I can promise you this: nothing like that will ever happen again. Never. I f anything does, I would kill myself to save you. I would do anything for you, b aby," Emmett kissed her again. "Me too, Emmett." "Do you want to go get lunch for Bella with the rest of the family? It seem s that everyone except Esme and you are going with Bella. What do you say? Carli sle really wants you to develop a stronger relationship with the human," Emmett tried to reason with her. "I don't know--" "Please? I am going." "You are going with her?" "Of course I am. She likes me. She likes everyone in this family. Especiall y you. She just hasn't admitted it yet. I know she loves you. The way she loving ly looks at you. I can sense it. Please go. It would be a great way for all of u s to get out of the house," Emmett pleaded. "Okay. I will go. Only if you quit bugging me," Rosalie laughed. "Good. Let's go," he kissed her one last time before they walked down stair s to find the rest of the Cullen clan and Bella ready to go. "Are you ready, Bella?" Edward lifted me onto his back. "Ready as I'll ever be," I held on tight. Carlisle started off, along with Edward and I, Rosalie, Emmett, Jasper, and Alice, all in that order. "Where's the restaurant?" Carlisle called to Edward. Edward pointed straight ahead. "Just a couple of miles straight. Keep going and you'll see it." Everyone continued to zip through the forest. Within three minutes of const ant running, they stopped in front of a large building with shiny glass windows. "This is it," Edward said, letting me slide off of his back. "Are you sure?" Alice asked. "Positive. You would have seen if it wasn't." "Not funny, Edward. Remember: my vision can change anytime based on decisio n changes. Don't always count on me," Alice explained. Edward rolled his eyes. "You've always been helpful when I needed you. Why shouldn't now be any dif ferent?" he asked. "Quit your bickering. Let's go inside. Bella, you know how to do this bette r than we do," Rosalie started toward the door, and then turned around.

"I haven't even stepped a foot into a restaurant in over a hundred years. I t has probably only been a week, right Bella?" Carlisle joked. "Actually, Charlie and I were here just last night, believe it or not," I l aughed. "Okay-- let's just go inside now. Bella, it is your turn to take charge." I stepped forward. "Well, what are you waiting for? Come on. I'll go first, but you at least have to follow me. Come on," I urged them forward. Edward was the first one to move. Everyone eventually followed after that. "That's better. Now just follow me. I'll take care of everything else." I walked into the restaurant and walked up to the front counter. "Hello, I would like a table for seven, please?" "Okay, the wait will be about five minutes." "Okay. Thank you." I turned around. "You see? Was that so bad?" I turned around and walked awa y. "I didn't think it was going to end badly, I just didn't know how this woul d all play out in the end," Jasper spoke for the first time since we left their house. Edward swooped me into his arms. "It seems that I will be carrying you for the next five minutes." "Edward, I am fine to sit down in a public chair." Edward sighed. â You could, or you could let me carry you instead of making you sit on a restaurant bench. Now are you understanding this?" Edward asked. "If you expect me to, then for Pete's sake, I will understand this." Edward shifted his hips. "Did you lose weight?" "Huh?" "You were several pounds heavier a few weeks ago when I carried you. I was wondering if you had lost a little bit of weight." "It is possible. I don't keep track of that, though." "This is another reason why we are taking you to get lunch," Jasper stated. "It's like you aren't eating enough. And when you are, it is being digested bef ore you can even take the energy in." "Um-- okay?" "It is not like I am trying to make you feel uncomfortable or anything, I a m just trying to make you understand what you are doing to yourself." "Okay. Let's just drop this conversation. I'm not feeling very comfortable right now. Maybe some other time," I cringed up in Edward's arms. He squeezed me tighter. "Okay," Jasper laughed. "That is all you have to say." "Speaking of eating, have you guys gone hunting lately? You guys are so wor ried about me when you are not taking better care of yourselves," I said. "We have not gone hunting in a few weeks. The last time we went hunting was when you were going to a movie with one of your friends. Mike, I think is what his name was?" Alice guessed. I nodded. "Yes. That's it. 'Love Spelled Backwards is Love.' Mike insisted on seeing that one after 'Face Punch.' Romantic Comedies, psh," I yawned. "I like romantic comedies," Edward said. My pulls rate quickened once I hea rd this. "Geez, calm down. I felt that," Edward laughed. "I like romantic comedies, too. I was just surprised when Mike wanted to se e it." "Yeah, right," Edward joked. Emmett cuddled with Rosalie. Rosalie did the s ame. "What's up with you two?" Jasper questioned their awkward movements. "Well, the way Edward and Bella are bonding, it kind of reminded us of what we do behind closed doors," Emmett kissed Rosalie. "Emmett?" Carlisle moaned. "Geez, not that kind of thing. We talk and whenever either of us our down, we both talk it over, and then we both end up kissing each other to death," Emme tt kissed Rosalie again.

The door to the restaurant flew open-- we were surprised to see who was the re. â Hello, family,â Esme opened the doors to the restaurant. "What are you doing here?" Carlisle asked. "Alice left me a note explaining what was going on," she said. Everyone loo ked at Alice. "Hey, what? I saw her spending endless days and nights trying to find us, s o I just left her a note. Besides, what harm could another member of the party d o?" Alice joked. Just then, I thought of something. "Edward, please carry me over to the cou nter. I have to inform her of another addition to our party." "Sure thing," he carried me over. "Excuse me, can I please add another member to our party on your list?" I a sked politely. "Sure thing," she crossed out seven and put eight. "Thanks," I walked away. "See? That was easy." "So now we have everyone here." "What should we do now?" "Just relax, I guess." Just as Edward was squeezing me in a hug (perfect timing, I know), my stoma ch growled silently. Everyone would have been able to hear it if it had been com pletely silent. Although it was extremely difficult to hear, I was sure that Edw ard felt it. My suspicions were confirmed when Edward gave me a grim look. I couldn't se e his face, but I could tell he felt it. "Your table is ready," a woman pointed at us. "Good. Bella's human temperaments are driving me crazy." We all sat down around a nice table with a candle in the middle. I sat down next to Edward, Rosalie sat next to Emmett, Jasper sat down next to Alice, and Carlisle sat down next to Esme. "Good afternoon, I will be your server today. May I start off any of with y ou with a drink?" our server asked. Edward glanced around at everyone at the table, and everyone nodded. "We wi ll take eight waters, please." "Okay. I will be right back with them. May I start any of you off with an a ppetizer?" he asked just before he left. Edward glanced around the table again, and everyone nodded. "We will start off with some brown bread and butter, please," Edward nodded his head. "Okay. I will be right back with your beverages and appetizer." I turned to Edward. "Technically, water is not considered a beverage." Jasper chuckled. "It doesn't matter if it is a red wine, Coke, or water. It was how they were trained." "That makes sense." "So, how are you enjoying your first trip to a restaurant? At least, in the past one-hundred years." "This is not my first time in one-hundred years that I have been here," Edw ard reminded me. "I took you here the night that you went to Port Angeles with J essica and Angela. That night you went to Thunderbird and Whale to get the book about Quileute legends." "Yeah. I remember that. Man, everything about you guys makes so much more s ense now." "Now do you feel good about ditching your friends to research about our kin d?" Edward asked me. "Yes," I glanced at Rosalie and Emmett. They were snuggled against each oth er. Alice and Jasper were holding hands and smiling at their touch. Our server arrived with eight glasses of water and a loaf of bread about th e size of a paperback book. "Here you are eight glasses of water and your bread and butter," he set all of them down individually. Edward thanked him.

"Are you ready to order? Or do you need a few minutes to relax and decide f irst?" he asked. "We are going to need a minute, please," Edward said. "Take your time," he walked away. "What are you going to get?" Alice asked me. I shrugged. "Do you recommend anything?" I asked her. She laughed. "You know I haven't been to a restaurant in several decades. I cannot give you any recommendations." "You know what, Esme?" I turned to Carlisle's wife. "I never got to try tha t Italiano you made for me when I first met everyone, and it sounded good. I thi nk I'll get that. I want to see what I was missing." She smiled. "It's nice to know that you have a piece of me in you." Our server walked back up to the table and prepared to take orders. "Are you rea dy?" "I think we are. We will take four Italianos, please," "Sure thing," he said. Then he stopped. "Do you need anything else? I can't help but notice that you only ordered four meals." "Actually, we are going to share them. We aren't very hungry, thanks," Esme said very quickly. "Okay. I will bring them out shortly." He walked away. We sighed. "Good job, Esme," Carlisle hugged his wife for a brief second. "Okay. So we are all here. You all had reasons for coming here. Who is goin g to start?" I asked, glancing at everyone individually. Jasper opened his mouth. "I think I'll go first, because I feel that I have the strongest message to deliver." "Okay. Go ahead." Jasper sighed. "We have a limited amount of time until the Volturi find out that you are still human." There was a series of sighs from all of the current Cullen clan. "There's just one thing that I want you to be sure of when you become a new born," Jasper began to warn me. "Go on," I said. "You must be very cautious. Not just anyone could kill you, but you will ha ve the power to kill just about anyone. This is what I want you to be cautious o f. If you stick with us, then we can teach you to control your thirst. Drink onl y the blood of animals." "Yes. I am aware of this. That is why Edward has volunteered to train me-" "You see? This is our problem. You're spending too much time with Edward. Y ou will eventually need some separation from him. Eventually, you will want him so bad; you would do anything for him. Even kill him. Or yourself. This is why y ou have us. Not just him, but us." "I understand completely, Jasper." "Okay. That is all I have to say," Jasper concluded his speech. "Okay. Edward, would you like to go?" I asked. He nodded and put his arm ar ound me. "Isabella Marie Swan," I grimaced as he acknowledged me by my full name. "I have loved you since the day I put my eyes on you. Ever since that first day I laid eyes on you in the Forks cafeteria. I loved you in Biology. I loved you whe n I saved you on your way home from Thunderbird and Whale bookstore. I even love d you when we were confronted with the Volturi. I have loved you every single ti me I have seen you. That will never change. I just want you to know that." I wiped a tear away that was sliding down my cheek. "Thank you, Edward. I h ave loved you since the moment I laid eyes on you, also." "That is all I had to say. You can call on someone else now." I "Okay. How about Rosalie?" I called upon her. "Would you like to go?" She nodded. "I think it is pretty ironic that you ask me to speak right aft er you ask your almost-eternal companion to speak, but there isn't much of anyth ing I can do about that." "You remember my story about how I did not have the decision, and you do,"

she said rather than asked. "Of course I do. That story has stuck since you told me last year," I said. "I just want you to be sure that this is the right decision, and you are su re that you want to do this. Because if you really decide that you do not want t o, you have the choice." I nodded. "I know I have the choice, but Alice has already told the Volturi that she has seen me become a vampire. There isn't anything I can do about that . In these last days of my human life, I am still contemplating the decision to become a vampire. But the Volturi made it clear that if I did not become a vampi re, they would kill your entire family. I can't let that happen to you and your family, so I have to become on, or else you will all be killed out of your will. " "Bella, I want you to understand something. I will do anything for you. Eve n if it means me and the rest of the family get killed just so you can sleep, ea t, and breathe, then I would do it for you. I'm sure everyone else would underst and. I just-- want the best for you, Bella. And I would do anything for you so t hat you can remain human forever." "Thank you, Rosalie. You mean the world to me," I cried. "I'll go next," Emmett volunteered himself. He stood up on top of his chair . "Emmett, get down," Carlisle demanded. He sat back down into his chair. "Sorry," Emmett apologized, "I had a moment of overpowering advantage." "You're fine, Emmett. Please speak," I encouraged him to move on. "Okay. I wanted to talk to you about the advantages of being immortal. Firs t, the girl you love, she's the same thing you are, and then things will turn ou t good. You can be with her forever, and neither of you will age. You can do all of the things that you have always wanted to do before you die all in the same lifetime." "Yes Emmett, I get all of the things that you can do with immortality." Emmett sighed. "I just want to warn you that sometimes, immortality isn't t he best way to go. And when you do become a newborn, and when you develop to con trol your thirst, immortality may not seem as reasonable as the life you have to day. I just want you to understand that." I nodded. "I do, Emmett. Who would like to speak next?" Alice spoke up. "I will--" "What is the matter, Alice?" Jasper asked. He was holding her shoulders. Sh e was having a vision, but no one knew what it was, yet. As soon as her vision was over, she snapped out of it and gasped. Her eyes were wide open. "Oh my God," she gasped. "Bella." "What is the matter, Alice? What did you see?" Jasper set a pencil and a sheet of paper in front of Alice. She began drawi ng what she saw. "Blood. Lots of blood," she continued to draw. I couldn't tell what it was until I saw what she draw around someone's wrist. A charm bracelet with a wolf c harm and a heart charm. Edward was the first to realize what was going on. "Alice. Is that-- me?" She was not done drawing, yet. "Bella." "Who's that?" I pointed to the figure hiding behind the trees next to the g irl on the ground. In the background were trees. "Wait a minute. I remember that place," I recalled. Alice stopped drawing. "You've been here?" "Yeah. That's where I was found after Edward left me. Sam Uley found me. Th is was before I found out that they were werewolves," I said. "Bella-- do you understand what is going on here?" Alice asked. "Not really-- wait, is that me?" And is that--Victoria?" I asked nervously. "Yes. Bella, she is going to kill you."

All of the Cullens sat there in silence, taking in the news. I wasn't actua lly a part of their family yet, but I pretended I was one, and sat there in sile nce with them. As we were just sitting there, our server came back with four Ita lianos. "Hey, are you guys okay?" he asked as he set them down. Yes, we are fine. We are just taking in some--devastating news," Carlisle e xplained. "I'm sure I can relate. My wife just got pregnant," he laughed. Esme smiled uncertainly. "Well, congratulations to you both." "Thanks. You guys enjoy." Our server walk away and I distributed the Italianos. I set one down in front of Alice and Jasper, Esme and Carlisle, Rosalie and Emmett, and Edward and I. "Who wants to be the first to try it?" Alice asked, still dazed by her visi on only minutes before. "Why doesn't Bella try it first?" Edward volunteered me. "She is the one wh o needs it the most." I glared at Edward. "Thanks a lot, Edward." Everyone watched me curiously as I picked up a fork, stabbed a piece of let tuce and chicken, and brought it to my mouth. I bit down. The taste exploded in my mouth. "How is it?" Carlisle asked slyly. I nodded. "It's the best thing I have had today." My joke (which I thought was completely serious) made all of the members of the Cullen clan laugh. "That's a good one, Bella," Emmett laughed. "I'm being completely serious. It's the best thing I've had all day." "It is only completely true," Carlisle joined in Emmett's laughing. I had to laugh along with them. After all, it was a good joke. "Why don't you guys try it now?" I requested. They all stared at me nervous ly. "After all, you guys are the one who volunteered me to try it first." They all picked up their forks and scooped some Italiano onto it, and broug ht it next to their mouths. "One," Alice said. "Two," Esme followed Alice. "Three!" Rosalie said, and they all scooped them into their mouths. There was a chorus of "Mmm's" as they chewed and swallowed. "Now I see what I have been missing since I was I became a vampire," Esme t ook another bite. "You like it?" I asked. "Just because I am a vampire, it doesn't mean that I can't taste human food ." "That makes sense," I said. "Yes." "How is it, for real, this time?" Carlisle asked. I smiled. "It is wonderful. Thank you, Carlisle." "Why are you thanking me? I wasn't the one who needed this," he proclaimed. I nodded. "I don't know." "You are insane." "What makes you think that?" "I don't know. Just an instinct?" Carlisle said. I laughed along. Today had been quite the adventure. Everyone finished their Italianos and our server came to collect the bill. He handed me the case, and walked away. "How much do I owe you?" I turned to Carlisle. "It's on the house," he put some cash into the case and set it at the edge of the table for our server to collect. "Thanks, Carlisle," I smiled. He smiled back.

"Are we ready to go?" Carlisle stood up. Edward and I stood up also. "We might as well. If I am going to have to put up with Charlie, then I'd b etter do it now," I took a step away from the table. Alice stopped me. "Bella. There's something I have to tell you. It's about-- Victoria." I stopped. "What about her?" "She's coming tomorrow. I have run through all of the possible remedies to get rid of her or to scare her off, but all have been totally unreasonable. My f amily and I are going hunting tomorrow morning. At the crack of dawn. I am going to ask Jacob if e wouldn't mind hanging out with you tomorrow. I have to make d amn sure I keep you out of the forest. If Victoria found you, she would kill you in an instant. I don't want to leave you alone. IO can't risk you being unprote cted. We will be back some time around late afternoon tomorrow. Promise me you w on't get into any trouble?" "Of course, Alice. What would make you think I would get into trouble?" "Last time you said that, I found you in the clutches of a dog. And he had his hands all over you. Come on, Bella, I cannot let this happen again. Is that understood?" she clarified. "For Pete's sake, yes, Alice. I would not let him lay more than his hands o n me. Don't worry," I said. There was some doubt in my voice. "I am counting on you, Bella," Alice warned me. "If I see anything more tha n hanging out going on between you and Jacob, then I will personally march over there, rip Jacob's head off, and then burn the pieces." I gasped. "Come on, Alice. I know you would never do that. If I am wrong, t hen please don't." "She turned her back and said, "watch me." I rode home on Jasper's back, and he had promised me he would take me home. He did, but we made a few stops along the way. Charlie did not seem to have muc h of a problem with me traveling with Jasper, but he had all he could take of Ed ward. "Where are we going, Jasper?" I held on tight as Jasper stopped in the fore st. "Our first stop: the forest." "I noticed. What are we doing here?" He sighed. "I want you to be aware of where Alice said that Victoria would kill you if she found you. Do you remember this place?" I nodded as I recalled the heartless time of Edward Cullen. "Yes. This is t he spot Edward took me when he told me that you guys were going away to someplac e else. He left me, and I tripped while I was trying to chase him down. I was fo und a few days later in the middle of the woods by Sam Uley." "Yeah. Alice told me about that. She saw you. She couldn't see who had pick ed you up. She couldn't see anything passed Jacob and his pack of mutts." "Hey. Don't criticize them behind their backs. I can easily tell them, you know," I said. "Well, I can always kill you." "You wouldn't," I challenged Jasper. He winked. "Watch me." "Okay. I am familiar with this area. I know what is going to happen. Where are we going next?" "Do you have a minute?" "How long is a minute?" I asked. "A couple of hours," he said. I almost laughed, but he seemed pretty seriou s, so I decided against it. "I want to take you somewhere. I have told you about it before, but you hav e never seen it. Do you want to go?" "What will Charlie say? I can't let him catch me somewhere too far away. Wh ere are we going?" "The Civil War battlefield." It didn't take as long as I thought it would take to get to the Civil War b

attlefield. Actually, I had no idea how long it would take, but after we arrived , I had a general idea of how long it would take if I wasn't riding on top of a supernatural creature's back. "Is this where it happened?" I asked. Jasper turned his head toward me. "What happened?" he questioned. "You know--" "No. This is not where it happened. This is where I was found. Not exactly, I me an. I was bitten someplace else that I cannot remember exactly." "This is amazing," I jumped off of his back and looked around. "What do you think?" "About what?" I continued to walk around. "I mean, you were here sometime probably over a hund red years ago--" "No. Not quite that long ago. Let's take the Civil War, for example. When was th at?" I refreshed my memory. "April 12, 1861." "That was when it started. I made it only several months into it. But when I was found, I was brought in by Carlisle, and he taught me ever since I was a newbor n." "This is when Carlisle came into play. Again," I almost laughed. "You know, when you become a part of this family, I will be proud to not call my self 'the newest vegetarian.' Ha ha," Jasper said. I chuckled uncertainly. "What am I going to tell Charlie? I mean, I have to come up with some sort of al ibi for Charlie and Renee as to why I am never going to see them again." "We'll help you think of something." "Like what? I mean, it would take more than just you and I to convince Charlie t hat he will never be able to see me again. Renee will be devastated. Even your e ntire family wouldn't have much of an impact on Charlie's decisions. Can you thi nk of anything off hand?" I stopped and face Jasper. "Not now, but I am sure Carlisle will think of something. He promised me that he would think of something. He said he would do anything for you once you become an unproclaimed member of the Cullen family. "Maybe we should start coming back now. Charlie is probably going to wonder if I do not show up within another hour. Do you mind taking me back?" "Not at all. Just one more thing. Please think about what I said earlier. I can' t let anything happen to you. I consider you an official member of the family, a nd so does everyone else. Make wise choices, and stay clear away from any sort o f danger. Hop on my back, and I will take you back," Jasper crouched down. I climbed aboard Jasper and we were back within an hour or so. Charlie didn't ha ve much of a problem with me riding with Jasper, but he was rather disappointed in me for showing up at seven-thirty that night. I walked in the door. I left the door open so Jasper could explain anything he w ould need to explain to Charlie. "Hi dad," I took a step in the door. Charlie came running down the stairs like the bull I always knew he was. "Isabel la Marie Swan. Where in the hell have you been?" "Dad, I was just hanging out with--" "If you say Edward, I am going to kick your--" "Dad, it wasn't Edward," I told him, hoping he would understand. When I saw his face turn bright red, I finally pointed to the open doorway. "Good day, Mr. Swan," Jasper nodded his head. "I've never met you before. Are you a brother of that Edward kid?" Jasper nodded again. Yes, I am related to Edward. His brother. He thought that h e would take a little time off of spending time with Bella. So I took over. I to ok her to a few memorable places." "Memorable places, as in--?" "My old parents' house--" "What do you mean, your old parents' house?" Charlie questioned Jasper. "I'm adopted. Carlisle adopted me. I was abandoned when I was thirteen years old . He found me and took me in. I've been a Cullen since," Jasper said. Charlie fe

ll for it. "Okay. Well, as long as Edward is not here, I don't mind if you go back and hang out with--?" "Jasper, sir." "Yes. Jasper. I don't mind if you go back out with Jasper. I mean, it is a Frida y night, and it is only seven-thirty. Go out. Have some fun," Charlie shoved me playfully in Jasper's direction. Jasper smiled. "Actually, I would prefer it better if Bella got some sleep. We've had our fun, and it is getting late. Go on, Bella. Get some sleep. We'll still be here in the morning." "Okay. Thank you for the wonderful evening, Jasper. It was fun. I'll-- see you t omorrow?" "Anytime, Bella. Have a nice night," he gave me a hug. I embraced it. It felt go od to be able to give another Cullen a hug. He wasn't as cold as Edward, but he was sill chilly. "Goodbye, Jasper," I waved as we broke free of our hug. "Goodbye, Bella," Jasper waved as he walked away. When I closed the door, I glan ced out the window just in time to see him dash off into the night. "He seems nice. Better than that Edward kid. Are you two-- a thing?" I was astounded by Charlie's accusation. "Dad, no. We're just friends. Hardly ev en." "Okay. I'm just clarifying. Have you had dinner yet?" "Yes," I lied. Charlie, this time, did not fall for it. "Come on down here and eat something. G eez, Bella, you scare me to death sometimes with your decision-making." "Okay, okay, I will." I quickly made a sandwich, wolfed it down, and then ran upstairs to go to bed. J ust as I had slipped into my pajamas, I got a call. I didn't recognize the calle r I.D, and Charlie had always told me never to answer the phone if I did not rec ognize the caller I.D, but I answered it anyway. "Hello?" I asked uncertainly. I didn't recognize the caller I.D, but the voice t hat answered; I recognized it as a good friend. "Hello? Bella?" the voice asked. "Alice," I said. "What's wrong?" "Nothing. I am just going to explain the plan for tomorrow. My family is going h unting tomorrow. I have talked to Jacob, and he doesn't mind hanging out with yo u tomorrow, as long as Edward isn't there, which he is not going to be. He said that he actually would like to. He has promised to take care of me, even though he cannot protect you on our land. We have made a deal that just for tomorrow; h e can protect you on our land. He has also promised to keep you out of trouble. And he has promised to keep everything but his hands off of you. He said that he might steal a kiss or two, but he has decided against it. Is that understood?" she asked. I understood everything. "Okay. Sounds good. Thanks, Alice," I said, just about to hang up the phone. "Bye, Bella," she hung up. I shrugged and hung up also. I yawned as I slipped in to bed and fell asleep. I dreamed about one of the best things you could possibly dream about with what was going on in my life right now. Victoria. I dreamed that I was going to go to the forest with Jacob, and Victoria was going to see me. Then she attacked. She bit me on the neck. Square in the middle on the side of my neck. This was how I was going to turn into a vampire. Edward had promised me that he would be the one to turn me into a vampire, but h e was wrong. Victoria was the one. But would I be an official member of the Cull en family? Would I be accepted just because it wasn't a Cullen who bit me and tu rned me into a vampire? I was sure that Carlisle would still accept me. Would he . This was how I saw it: "Bella, you coming?" Jacob trotted through the forest casually. I struggled to k eep up. Slow down, Jacob. You're in better shape than I am."

"Hey, it's not my fault." "If I didn't know any better, I would say that you were taking steroids or somet hing, but I have no way to prove it," I said, hoping that Jacob would ignore it, or not hear it. But he heard it loud and clear. And he responded. "Believe me, if I was taking s teroids, my father would know. He's been keeping close tabs on me ever since I b ecame a werewolf." "How can you be so sure?" "Has your father ever hovered over you? Wondered what you were doing every secon d of the day?" Jacob asked me. "Not hovered. He's not the hovering type. But he has kept pretty close tabs on m e ever since I met Edward. I don't think he trusts him. Very much, I mean." "Between you and me, neither do I," Jacob laughed a hushed laugh. I didn't. "I know. You hate his guts." "That's not entirely true. I mean, I am fine with one or two of the Cullens, but Edward just doesn't appeal to me." "Yeah, I know--" I saw a figure dart out of the trees and crush me to the floor. Jacob back and u p stared in horror. It was Victoria. She smiled as her red hair blew in my face. "Jacob! Help!" I screamed. I could tell that Victoria wanted to get it over with , so she ended it by biting me on the neck. Square in the middle of the side of my neck. The pain was excruciating. I screamed as the new blood sheered through my veins. I couldn't speak. "Bella! Bella! Oh my gosh, what should I do!" he screamed. He was pacing back an d forth and his eyes were blood-red with hatred. Victoria was gone. She didn't f inish me off. She bit me and left me to die. What kind of predator plays with th eir food? All I could manage was to gasp, "he-- hel-- help!" "Bella, I can't leave you! I have to stay here!" "He-- hel-- help!" I gasped. The new blood searing through my veins was excrucia tingly painful. I could not grasp enough air to breathe. "Okay! I will go get help! Hang in there, Bella!" "Before he was completely gone, no oxygen was reaching my lungs, and I was dead in seconds. "Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!" I gasped. I was tossing and turning and clutching my neck. My b reath got caught in my throat and I couldn't breathe. "Ahhhhhhhhh!" I screamed. Charlie threw open the door and sat down next to me. "Bella! Bella! Wake up! Breathe! Bella! Breathe! Please breathe!" Charlie shook me out of my dream. I could finally breathe. "Charlie. Oh, god," I clutched my throat and breathed. Cool air filled my lungs. "Bella. Are you alright?" Charlie slid his hand down my cheek. I sat up and sigh ed. "Bella. Are you alright?" Charlie slid his hand down my cold cheek again. I sat up and sighed. "Bad dream. Bad dream," I said, still breathing hard. "Are you sure you are okay?" Charlie asked. He was not going to leave until he w as sure I was okay. "Yeah. I'm-- I'm okay," I let go of my throat and lied back down. "Do you need a glass of water or something?" Charlie suggested. Just then, I rea lized that I needed a glass of water. "Yeah, a-- a glass of water-- please." Charlie left for the water while I lied back down and checked the clock. It was two-o-clock in the morning. Now I was scared to death for the morning. He returned with the water and I swallowed it down. "Thanks." "Are you sure you are alright?" Charlie asked, recalling a terrible memory. "Yeah."

"Remember when Edward left you, and you spent three months screaming in the midd le of the night?" Charlie asked. I sighed. "Yes." "I thought he left you again. It sounded like the same screams from last year." "Yeah. Yeah, I guess." "I am going to back to bed now. Are you sure you're okay?" "Yeah, I'm fine, Charlie. Get some sleep. I'm fine," I lied back down and closed my eyes. Once I heard Charlie turn the lights out again, I jumped out of bed, picked up t he phone, and dialed Alice's number. "Alice. I had a dream." There was some silence on the other line. When Alice whispered, "what was it?" "Victoria," I said. She seemed pretty shocked, so she must have not seen me have that dream. "Tell me what happened. I need all of the details." In the background at Alice's house, I heard a series of screams. "Agh! Get it out of me!" a voice that sounded like Rosalie screamed. "I'm trying! I'm trying! It's stuck! It's not as easy as it seems." "I don't care, get it out!" the woman screamed again. "Okay! Okay, it's out. See? That wasn't so bad." "It's easy for you to say, you're not the one who had it stuck in you. Besides, it's the biggest one I've ever had stuck in me before." I changed the subject by saying, "what is going on over there?" "Oh, them? Yeah, Rosalie and Emmett were goofing around, and Emmett accidentally got a needle stuck in her hand, and Emmett was trying to get it out without tak ing Rosalie's hand off. So tell me about the dream." I shot back into reality. "Okay, so in my dream, Jacob and I were walking around in the forest, talking about whatever, and suddenly, a shadow darted out and cr ushed me to the floor. I recognized it to be Victoria. She bit me on the neck, a nd ran off. Jacob was pacing around, wondering what to do. I could not grasp eno ugh air to breathe. The new blood searing through my veins was excruciating--" "You mean, just like we always told you it would be?" "Yeah. Thanks for the sarcasm, Alice. Anyways, no air was reaching my lungs. I w as gasping for breath. Jacob finally gave up and ran away to get help. I died a few minutes later." "Bella?" "Hmm?" "That's exactly what I saw in my vision." "After the dream, I was thrashing around in bed, gasping for breath, screaming a t the top of my lungs. Charlie woke me up and I could finally breathe. He got me a glass of water, and then he had a small talk with me. He asked me if I rememb ered when Edward left me. He said the screams sounded like the same ones when Ed ward left me." "I remember. Well, call me if you have any problems, or you have that dream agai n. Don't hesitate. You know I can help you." "Yeah. I know. Thanks, Alice," I was just about to hang up the phone. I wanted t o make sure that Alice wasn't going to say anything before I hung up. "Goodbye, Bella. Edward and Jasper say hi," she said. She sounded as if she was just about to hang up also. "Tell them I said hi. Bye, Alice," I hung up and climbed back into bed. Before I fell asleep, I ran my fingers over Jacob's graduation present to me. The dreamcatcher. It had been working just fine until now. I tried to go back to sleep. It took a good half-an-hour or so, but I eventually dropped out. Jacob woke me up at six-thirty the next morning. I didn't hear the doorbell, so Charlie let Jacob in to wake me up personally. "Go easy on her. She woke up in the middle of the night from a terrible dream. S he seems pretty worried about something," Charlie let Jacob in as he started up the stairs.

"Jacob." "Yeah?" Jacob stopped and turned to face Charlie. "One more thing: if Bella tells you she is fine, I want you to stare into her ey es and ask her if she is sure. I am asking you to do this because she has been telling a lot of people that she is fine when they asked her how she is. But it seems as if she's not, and she's been suffering in silence lately. I want you to go easy on her today." "Sure thing, Charlie." Jacob made his way up the stairs and opened my bedroom door ever-so quietly. He stood in the doorway for quite some time, watching me sleep. Then he came up to me and shook me gently. I opened my eyes, and there he was. "Jake?" I sat up and rubbed my eyes. "Is that you?" "Yes, it's me, Bella," he ran his fingers through my soft brown hair. "How've you been? I haven't heard from you in a while." Jacob laughed silently. "Well, I've been some places. But my main concern is you. How are you?" "Jake, I'm fine, what would make you think I wasn't--" Jacob stared at me in the eyes. I became startled. "I want you to tell me the goodness-to-honest truth. Are you alright?" "Yes, Jake, I'm fine--" "Don't lie to me, Bella. Charlie told me that you had a dream last night. An unpleasant one. He could tell that it was an extremely unpleasant one. He could tell by the way you screamed. It-- it sounded like the ones you screamed when those bloodsuckers left you. The Cullens. You have to tell me what it was about. The way your father described it, it sounded like it had something to do with Edward. What was it?" he knelt down beside me and held my hand. "Can you do me a favor?" "Anything, Bella." "Go wait in the hallway." "What?" "Go wait in the hallway. I am going to get dressed. I'll tell you about the dream while we go on a walk." Jacob smiled."Of course, I could just wait in the corner--" "No, Jacob. No. Bad dog. Wait outside," I shoved him playfully out the door. He held his hands up defensively. "Okay. Your wish is my command." I slammed the door and then I walked over to my dresser and threw on some new clothes. Shorts, a white baby-doll shirt that says "I Run With Vampires," and a pair of white sneakers. I opened the door and looked at Jacob. "Ready." "Okay, let's go, my sweet thang," we walked down the stairs. "Dad, we're going out! Back in a little while!" Bella called. "Bella, wait." I stepped back. "Yes, dad?" "Please be careful. And don't be out for too long. Not like last night was a problem, but please don't be out too late today. Have fun, Bells," he waved as he looked up from his newspaper. "Bye, Charlie," I slammed the door closed. "Whew. Now that we've gotten rid of Charlie, what do you want to do?" I started walking away from the door and Jacob stopped me. "Actually, I want you to tell me about your dream. Charlie told me it was terrible. You woke up screaming in the middle of the night." "Oh yeah. My dream. Before I begin the dream-part of the story, I am going to ex plain what went on before I had that dream." "If it is associated with those bloodsuckers you love, then you can forget this whole thing," he turned and walked away. "Then you can just go home. There's no point in staying here," I waved him off.

"Bella. Okay, I'll stay. But I probably won't listen as intently as I could if this had nothing to do with those undead creatures." I began the story with a single breath. "Before the dream, I was playing volleyb all in the Forks High School gym, and I was pelted in the head with a volleyball . The impact threw me to the floor and knocked me out. I woke up in the infirmar y a while later. Almost everyone I knew at that school was surrounding me. The nurse suggested that I go home and relax. The Cullens volunt eered to take me home. I rode in Alice's car because there was something I wante d to talk to her and Jasper about. On the way home, Alice had a vision that we w ere going to crash down the ravine separating the Cullen's land from your land. She yelled at me to put my seatbelt on. I fumbled for the seatbelt seconds befor e we came crashing down the ravine. I was thrown out of the car. Edward tried to stop the car, but it crushed him, so we left him there. They brought me to Carl isle place so he could tend to my wounds. I had a dislocated elbow, a sprained s houlder, an enormous cut on my arm, and a minor concussion. It was about lunch t ime that Carlisle got done working on me. So all of the Cullens took me to a res taurant. In the middle of lunch, Alice had a vision that Victoria was going to f ind me with you in the forest and kill me. When we were done, Jasper and I hung out for a while. He took me to the place where Alice sai d that Victoria would find me, and warned me to stay away from there. Then he took me to the Civil War battlefield and showed me where he was injured and chan ged. By the time that he had showed me some memorable places, it was seven-thirty, and I needed to get home. Jasper took me from the battlefield back to Charlie's house. We spoke to Charlie a little bit about what we did. Charlie said that we could go out longer if we pleased, but Jasper suggested that I get to sleep. I had a long day, and he thought that I should go down for the night. So I went to bed. Back to the dream, you and I were talking about whatever in th e forest where Alice said specifically NOT to go. All of a sudden, a shadow darted out and crushed me to the floor. I recognized it to be Victoria. She bit me square in the middle of the neck, and then left me. You were pacing the floor , wondering what to do. Finally, you made your decision: you left to go get help . Within a few seconds, I was dead. I woke up screaming, thrashing around in bed , gasping for breath. My breath got caught in my throat, and I could not breathe . Charlie came rushing in and woke me up. I could finally breathe. He got me a g lass of water and asked if I was okay. When I said that I was fine, he left to g o to bed. After I heard him turn the lights off, I rushed to my phone, called Al ice, and told her about my dream. Then she told me to call her if I felt insecur e, threatened, or if I had that dream again. After the call, I went to sleep. Wh en I woke up, you were here, and we end up right back where we started," I took a huge breath. Jacob was staring at me, wide-eyed. "Wow, Bella. That's-- a hell of a story." "It's the truth." "Yeah, Bella, there's something I want you to know." "Anything, Jacob." He stared at me directly in the eyes. "Isabella Marie Swan-" "Oh, God, don't give me any of this 'I'll always love you, no matter what that b loodsucker will do to you' crap," I rolled my eyes. Jacob took a single step back. "Bella, I can give you what he can't. A life. I w ould do anything for you, even if it means that you can eat, breathe, or even sl eep. I want you to understand that. I can give you life, yet you still choose hi m." "Jake, it's not like I have a choice-" "Yes, Bella! You do have a choice! They aren't even alive! Yet you still choose him. "Jake-" "Don't 'Jake' me, Bella. You don't understand!" I was astounded. "I understand completely. It's you that doesn't understand. I w ant to live a long and happy life with him." "Bella, damn it, listen to me! They aren't even alive! If I didn't know any bett

er, I'd say that they didn't even know how to breathe to its full extent! Bella, you would live so much better with me than with that undead creature! Please, B ella. I love you. And I know you love me too. You just have neglected to say it out-loud," Jacob turned and began just walking in the other direction. "Hey, Jake, please-" "No, Bella. I'm not going to fall for this crap from you. If you want that filth y bloodsucker more than me, then you can forget this whole thing. I am out of he re," Jacob had still not stopped walking away. "Jake, please-" I started. A vision interrupted my dialogue. I was seeing the sa me thing in my dream. Victoria and everything. Jacob must have known that I was seeing something because he crept up to me and whispered in my ear. "Bella, Bella, what's happening. What do you see?" The vision was ten times shorter than my actual dream, and when I snapped out if it, I jumped back in alarm and blinked my eyes a couple of times. "It was the dream-- the dream I had last night. Jacob, I need you. Please stay w ith me. You have to protect me. Please, Jake. Stay," I pleaded. He seemed satisf ied. "That's my Bella," he laughed as he scooped he up and ran off with me. "Geez, Jake, slow down. Your objective is not to kill me. You're supposed to be protecting me, remember?" I chuckled. It appeared that Jacob was having the time of his life. "Don't worry, Bella. I'll take care of you. If you die, then I'll take all of th e responsibility for your death." "That's good to know." Jacob smiled. "Do you have any idea how much of a rush it is to be running with you in my arms?" "I can relate." "How?" Jake questioned. "HE used to do this to me all of the time. Carry me off in his arms into the for est," I said. Jake stopped and looked down at me. "Is that how you refer to him? HE?"Jacob sped back up again. "I didn't think that you would want me to mention his name while I am in your pr esence," I stated. He smiled. "Actually, you're right. If I were to hear his name again today, then I might ra lph." "I see." "I'm glad." Jacob gradually slowed down and took a deep breath. "Where to, Ms. Swan?" "Anywhere is fine." "Have you eaten yet?" "No." "Neither have I. There's a place to start," Jacob started walking toward the roa d. "Where to, Alpha?" Jacob frowned. "Oh, I'm not the Alpha. Sam is," he said. "Sam Uley?" I asked. I was fairly sure that was who he was talking about, but I just wanted to make sure. "Yeah. That's him. I let him be the Alpha." "Why?" I asked. I felt that Jacob should be the Alpha, but what do I know? "Ah, I didn't mind taking orders from someone else. Besides, I am more of a foll ower than a leader." "Really?" "Do you have to argue with everything I say?" Jacob laughed. "I'm not arguing. I'm just wondering why you don't take sides." "Huh?" "Never mind." He continued to carry me to a nearby drive-in. This stumped me. "Why are we going to a drive-in? Don't you have to have a car to park here?" I a sked a stupid question. He chuckled. "Well, no, you don't have to have a car to park at a drive-in. Besi

des, I thought you would look at me as your car." "My car's just fine." Jacob forced a smile. "Yeah, but I thought that me carrying you on my back would be more of a distraction to the rest of society. In your car, no one would be a ble to tell I was there." I rose my fist, ready to punch him, but then I stopped, and remembered what happ ened to me last time I tried to punch a werewolf. "Decided against it, huh?" Jake chuckled. I nodded, but only slightly. "I was just remembering the last time I punched a werewolf." "Oh yeah. Sorry about that." "Is there anywhere I can punch a werewolf wherein I will not break my hand?" I q uestioned Jacob. "Well, there is one place-" "You know? Let's just drop the subject, okay?" I said. Jacob shrugged. "Fine with me. I didn't like where this was going, anyway." Jacob set me on my feet, and opened the door for me. "Thanks, but you don't have to do that. I am fully capable of opening the door f or myself, thank you." "Hey, hey, hey, I was just being polite." "I understand that, but still, I'm fully capable of doing it myself." "Okay. I'll keep that in mind for the future." Jacob was frowning. We both walked inside and I took a seat while he approached the front counter. I heard a series of murmurs while I tapped my fingers impatiently on the table. I concentrated on the beat of my fingernails to the table. God, I hated being awa y from Jacob. Not that HE was any different. By the time that Jacob had returned to the table, I had given up all of my patie nts and laid my head on the table. Jacob took a seat in front of me and gazed at me worriedly. "Bella? You alright?" he asked, inching more toward me. I opened my eyes and sig hed. "Yeah, I'm fine. I'm just-- very bad at waiting. I am a very impatient person," I sighed again. "Do you have any idea how long I have been waiting?" Jacob asked. "Waiting for what?" "I've been waiting for you to notice me. Every since we first met when we were y ounger. I know how I make you feel," Jacob confessed more than I had thought he would. "What are you talking about?" "I know how I make you feel when I am around you. I make you feel nervous. I mak e you feel like-- like you're melting inside." "Jake--" "Don't 'Jake' me. I've been waiting for you since we first met. And you've never noticed me the same way I notice you." "Jake," I reached out and grabbed his hand. "I love you. I love you so much. It' s completely possible to love more than someone at once," I said. Jacob frowned. "Yeah, but when you love a bloodsucking fiend, then that changes things." After he had gotten his real feelings out, he calmed down. "Okay, let's go back to reality. I've had enough of this conversation. Do you ha ve any plans for today?" Jacob paused for a moment. "Nothing much. Just a walk, maybe bowling if you're u p for it. By the way, I ordered you a biscuit and a few hash brown patties, if t hat's okay with you." "Yeah. That's fine." "Good. Because here he comes right now," Jacob motioned to the man who was just about to make contact with us. He set down the trays without saying anything. Just to add to the drama, we kept our mouths shut as well. "The silent treatment," Jacob smiled as the man walked away. "Definitely," I stared as he placed himself down the counter. "Here you go," he set my tray down in front of me.

"My pleasure," he dished himself. He picked up a hash brown and nibbled on it. "Well, what are you waiting for?" he asked me, who was still staring off into sp ace. I bit off a small piece of my biscuit. "Wow," I glanced down at my tray. "What?" he eyed me suspiciously. "It's so nice to be around someone who is not related to me that eats," I set do wn my biscuit. He picked up his hash brown and then set it back down. Jacob tuck ed a piece of hair behind my ear. "Well, that's just another reason why you should fall for me other than that Cul len kid. I am a normal human being," Jacob said proudly. I looked at him throughly. "Jake, you're a dog. A fluffy, meat-preying dog. You are by no means a human being," I began nibbling on a hash brown. "Okay, so I am not all human. So what? Have you looked at yourself lately?" he g estured to all of me. "Believe me. I've looked at myself more than you have." "You want to bet?" "I'm just saying." "Because girls spend more time standing in front of the mirror than guys," Jacob laughed. "That's not always the case. I know lots of boys that always glance at themselve s in the mirror every day," I defended my title. "Oh yeah? Name five." "Do you count?" I laughed. "Um, no. I don't count. But go on. I want to hear your theories," Jacob said. Ma n, he was so demanding. "Okay. Never mind. You're so pushy," I argued. Jacob laughed just before he chew ed another bite of his hash brown. "I wish I could say the same," Jacob said. Our breakfast lasted about another half-an-hour. Boy, can I say it was weird bei ng around someone who eats food. Jacob sat up with his tray. "Are you done? 'Cause if you're not, then we can sta y here." "No, no, I'm done. We can go," I sat up as well. "Are you sure?" "Positive." We tossed out our trays and Jacob carried me on his back to the forest. "Where to, my darling?" I glanced around. "Alice said she saw me getting attacked in the forest in the m id-afternoon, so I would recommend we go there anytime between now and about noo n." Jacob shrugged. "Er, later today. Let's go to the La Push Beach and just hang ou t there." "What am I going to wear?" I tried to escape the thought of playing in the water with the werewolf. Jacob yanked a pair of shorts out of his pocket. "Always come prepared." I laughed uncomprehendingly. "Thanks, Jake. Where do I change?" "Anywhere." "Turn around." "What?" "I said turn around." "Why?" "Because I am changing here. Turn around." He shrugged and then tossed the shorts over to me. "Knock yourself out." He turned around as I slipped my shorts off and tossed the new ones on. I was do ne within ten seconds. "Are you ready, Jake?" Jacob ripped his shirt and his shorts off, exposing his bare chest and his swim trunks. "Ready as I'll ever be." "Geez, take it easy. You hadn't planned on doing anything other than swimming wi th me, have you?" I joked, hoping that Jacob was as serious as I was.

"Ah, I hope so," he stretched. I laid a hand on his shoulder, where he got his t attoo. His skin felt bony and smooth. "Okay. What are we waiting for? Take me, my loyal companion," I pointed forward. I kept my eyes closed through the entire trip. When he stopped, he took my sanda ls off and set me down. I immediately felt sand in-between my toes. "Where are we?" he asked, expecting me to know. Fortunately, I was way ahead of him. "At La Push Beach?" I opened my eyes and took a step forward. As did he. "You'd better hope so. Because if we are not, then we have a problem, "Jacob jok ed. I followed him along the shoreline. I could have sworn I saw Jacob try to peck m e on the cheek a few times, but decided against it. "What do you want to do?" I walked down the beach with Jacob still ahead of me. "I was hoping that you would be okay with just hanging out in the water for a mi nute. If that's okay with you?" Jake asked. I didn't have a problem with that. "Yeah. I'm fine with that." "Just let me know if you get bored of it anytime soon." "I can do that." Jacob seemed to be the bravest one of the bunch, because he jumped into the wate r as if he was meant to live there. He sank his head under the water, threw it b ack, and flipped his hair everywhere. "Wow. I didn't know you had that much dog in you," I laughed as I took another g inger step toward the water. "Ha ha. Funny. Come on, Bella. Join the fun. You don't know what you're missing, " Jacob splashed a bucket-full's worth of water in my direction. He soaked my to p. The cold water startled me. "Jake! Oh my gosh! Bad dog! Bad dog! No!" I screamed. I wanted to take my shirt off, but I was not dressed properly for this occasion. "It's okay, Bella. I won't tell anyone," he said, hoping I hoping decide to remo ve my shirt. "Too bad it's you I can't trust, Jacob. Maybe if it were HIM, I might. But right now, that's a no." "Come on, Bella. Do it!" he dared me. "No." He seemed to be done with arguing with me, because he shut his mouth after I sai d no. "So pushy," he slapped the water with his hand. "I am curious," I waddled to where he was in the water and laid a single hand on his bare chest. "How are you still over one-hundred degrees when the water is cold enough to par alyze your body?" I asked. I had not removed my hand from his chest. He seemed t o be enjoying this. "I'm not the person you should be asking. Seek to Billy for questions like that. " I smirked. "You're so . . . hot," I slid my hand down his chest. He grabbed a hold of me and held me close. Man, he was hot. Before I had a chance to object, he pecked me on the cheek and squeezed me close . I wrapped my arms around his shoulders. "I love you, Jacob." "I love you, Bella. So much." "Don't ever leave me, okay?" I asked. I still had not let him go. I could tell t hat he was not going to let me go, either. "When have I ever left you?" "A few weeks ago, when we were saving HIM from the Volturi." "Don't remind me about that, okay?" "Already forgotten," I sunk in to his face and our lips locked. He lips overlapp ed mine, and eventually, our tongues touched. From there, I broke free. "I'm so sorry, Jacob," I took a step back.

"Try to control yourself, okay? I can't resist myself, but you will have to lear n to resist my firm grip. Although it may seem that this is what you want, you'l l have to learn to resist." "I'm so sorry, Jacob," was all I could manage. "Is that all you know how to say?" "No, it's just that--" "That what?" Jake asked. "I love you, Jacob, so much. I can't believe that I picked Edward over you. Can you forgive me?" Jacob took a step back. "Well, there is one exception." "Anything, Jacob. Speak up." "Marry me." "What?" "Marry me, Bella. We can run off together. We can go somewhere where there are n o vampires. Somewhere we can be together alone. Alive together. Instead of you a nd that Cullen kid dead forever. We can live." "Jacob, you know I can't. It's too late to call it off," I stared at Jacob deep into his eyes. "It's not too late. If they don't know where you are, they can't hunt you down." "Alice already has the date set. We would somehow have to convince the Volturi t hat I am going off with you other than HIM. If they didn't believe me, they woul d not only kill all of the Cullens, but they would also kill me. You wouldn't be able to stand that, would you?" I argued. "Bella. You know I wouldn't care if those bloodsuckers were killed, but I would never be able to get over what I would have done to you if they killed you as we ll." "Neither would I, Jacob. That's why I can't risk anything. Are you in understand ing?" I asked Jake. He nodded, but he was frowning. "I understand. Please talk to them. HIM, I mean. If you can somehow reason with him, then that would be what goes on. If you can't then I'll talk to him." I glared at him. "Do you promise not to kill him?" Jacob hesitated, then nodded. "Okay. I promise." "Good." I turned away. "Jake?" "Hmm?" "I want a minute to cool off. Just to relax. You go play in the water, I will jo in you in a minute," I said. Jacob gulped and then nodded. "Okay. You're fine. Go on." I turned away and started toward the shore. I paused at a large rock and sat dow n. I closed my eyes and breathed a sigh of relief. What a day. Although it was stil l morning, I was ready to drop dead. I had so much on my mind. I needed to unwin d. Thoughts about Jacob swarmed around my head like mosquitoes. What would he th ink of me when I was an old grandma? Would he still like me? Would Edward hate me? Would he still like me? Would he rip my head off when he f ound out that I wanted Jake more than him? Would he say that he was fine with it , but would he hate me for as long as he lives? Would Jake love me forever, like he said he would? Or was he just trying to make me feel good? What was I going to tell Charlie when he found out that I wanted an old childhood friend more tha n a mysterious, golden-eyed guy? What would Renee think? Would she hate Edward? Would Charlie hate Edward? Would Charlie hate the Cullens? Would Edward rip Char lie's head off? Would Charlie rip my head off? All of these questions swarmed my head. I looked back at Jake to see him swimming out farther than my eyes could see. I returned to my thinking. But it was interrupted by a sudden outburst. "Bella! Look!" Jacob shouted at the top of his lungs. He was holding his swim sh orts up. It appeared that they had slipped off while he was swimming away. "Woo hoo!" I shouted, smiling with delight. I looked away while he quickly slipped them back on. "Am I good?" I yelled, my back still turned.

"Yes! You're fine to look now!" I looked back, and there he was. Swimming away. I decided that I was missing an awful lot watching my loyal companion swimming w ithout me, so I waddled in and swam out to him. "That's my Bella," he laughed as he grabbed a hold of me and held me tight. Our lips locked once again. This time, neither of us resisted. We both held on with all our might and never let go. The only thing that was going to resist our grip was if something yanked me down. Speak of the devil, something yanked my leg, and I was down. I hit my head as th e thing yanked my leg down and down. "Bella! Bella! Don't panic, I'm coming!" Jacob gulped in a huge breath and flew under the surface. My eyes were closed as the figure carried me down. I wasn't breathing (obviously ) and every inch of my body was numb. I wasn't sure how far I was carried down until a felt a thump below me. Jacob had not been able to see me, so he raced up to the surface. He gulped in s everal large breaths, and dove back down. Farther than the last time. Finally-he saw me. He swam down, carried me up, and laid me on the sand. My lips were bl ue, and my eyes were sealed shut. He breathed into me and squeezed down onto my chest. "Breathe. Please, come on! Breathe! Bella! Breathe! Please, breathe!" Jacob stared at my pale, angelic face . It showed no sign of life. "Bella!" he cried. Tears were streaming down his face. The rain blended in with tears on his face. "Please! Please, Breathe! Bella, please! Don't die! Please, n ot now! Please, Breathe!" he continued to breathe into me. I still did not move. "Noooooo!" Jacob screamed into the sky and buried his face into his hands. "Nooo ooo!" Thunder crackled overhead. The sky was dark, even though it was still morning. R ain was pouring down from the dark sky, and it was running down Jacob and I's f aced. Jake wasn't going to give up yet. He breathed into me and pressed on my chest co ntinuously. "I'm not going to lose you now," he grabbed a hold of my wrist and held on light ly, feeling for a pulls. Then he set two fingers on top of my neck and sat compl etely still. There was a slight beat. "Bella! Come back! Breathe! Please, breathe!" he breathed into me one more time. He heard a gasp come out of me. Hot air flew from my nose, and I could breathe again. "Bella! Oh, Bella!" he wrapped his muscular arms around my bony body. I couldn't move, but I could breathe. "Jake . . . Jake . . . Jacob--" I gasped. I could not catch my breath. "Bella, Bella," he let go of me but he continued to hold my hand. "Jake . . . so cold . . . can't catch . . . my breath," I shivered. I could not feel my body. All I knew was that I was cold-- so cold. I could not catch my bre ath. "Bella. Come here," he wrapped his arms around me. Even his natural body tempera ture was not warm enough to cool me down. "Jake. You're not warm enough. It's . . . too . . . cold," I panicked. I was shi vering violently. "Bella? Bella? Are you okay?" "Yeah, I'm just . . . cold--" I was cut-off my vicious shivering. "Don't worry. You'll be warm soon," Jacob looked back a little bit. "I'm going t o grab my shirt and shorts for you. I'll be right back!" When he finally returned, my shivering had stopped. My body could no longer keep itself warm by shivering. Jacob panicked and began screaming when he saw that m y shivering had stopped. "Bella! God, NO! I'm so sorry Bella. I'm so sorry!" he sank his face into my lif eless body. I'd always wanted to know what it would be like to be dead. At least for a few m

inutes. For a half-an-hour, I was. Jacob believed that it was all his fault. He felt that if he had not lured me over to him, I would not have been drowned and dead. I could not stand to see Jacob in the state he was in. He had his face buried in my chest, desperate to hear a beat. Any beat. I could tell that he was hopeful in finding a heart beat. He believed that I was dead, but there was still a smal l ounce of hope left in him. He did everything in his will to show his guilt for my death. How was he going t o tell Charlie? Would Charlie beat the hell out of him for watching me the he di d? How would Charlie react? How would the Cullens react? Would they kill Jacob? Who knew? And there wasn't any way I could tell them that it wasn't his fault. I had the worst dream I could possibly have after my dead by drowning. In my dream, I was floating in a boat in the middle of the lake. There was not a soul around. It was just . . . me. Thunder crackled ahead; I was completely una ware of where I was. No one was around. Nothing was around. Except the fierce wa ves and the threatening winds. The boat was rocking. I hit a rock; a leak sprung . One large enough not just me could dispose of the water before the boat sunk. I began shoveling water out in handfulls. Nothing was working. When the boa t sank, I was not in the ocean. I was in the forest. Edward was there. I recogni zed this scene to be the place where Edward left me. He ran away and left me in the forest. He must have known that I would suffer. He must have known that I wo uld cause mayhem, but he was not willing to admit it at the time. There I laid in the forest. My eyes closed, my breath was shallow, and no o ne was around to see me suffering. Suddenly, I was not lying in the forest anymore. I was walking with Jacob. We were talking. I cannot recall what we were talking about, but we were talking about something. Then, Victoria dashed from behind a tree and bit me on the nec k. It was the same dream I had last night; that one that Charlie had to wake me up from. I was screaming. It was echoing. And there was nothing Jacob could do a bout it. Finally, he gave up and ran off. I died. My breath came back to my throat, and I was gasping. Jacob was staring hope fully at me. "Bella! Oh, Gosh, Bella! Answer me! Bella!" I didn't realize that Jacob was still standing there. "Jacob . . . is that . . . you?" I cracked my eyes open, and I saw his face . His sweet, damp, angelic face. It was good to see him again. "Oh, Bella!" he squeezed me in a hug. "I thought you were dead." "I was. I was just . . . mostly dead, I mean." I was still shivering now. J acob, thankfully, was way ahead of me. He dressed me in his shorts and shirt. I was still freezing. Not frozen solid, but cold enough that I still couldn't move . Jacob held me close. "Geez, you're still freezing, Bella. Is there anything I can do? Undress yo u, and hold you close--" "You know? Let's not go there right now. I remember what happened what last time I punched you, and I really don't want that to happen to me, again. Okay?" I stopped shivering enough to speak without studdering. "I'm so glad you're safe. It was all my fault. If I hadn't lured you over there to kiss me, we would not be there right now, you would not have died for a halfan-hour, and I would not be in the state I am in, and--" "Jake, it was not your fault. I am the one who was not paying attention to what was below me. It's my fault. Don't worry. It's fine. Atleast I am alive," I thought on the bright side. "Bella?" "Hmm?" "I am going to take you to my father."

"Excuse me?" I clarified. "I am going to take you to my father. He's dealt with frostbite before. He' ll know what to do." I tried not to panick. "What if he tells Charlie? I may never be able to se e you again. He'll think you did it. I can't let that happen, when I am going to tell Edward to call off the wedding--" "What wedding?" I then realized that Jacob did not know that I was engaged. I froze. "He proposed to me, and I said yes. I'll just tell him to call it off. I changed my mind." Jacob smiled. 'You are actually going to tell him that?" "Well, yeah--" "I love you, Bella." "I love you too, Jacob," I resisted the urge to kiss him. "It's okay. You don't have to do it. That's my job," he sunk in for the kis s, and our lips met. It lasted for five seconds. "We should stop. Remember what happened last time we held a kiss for longer than five seconds?" he held back. "Yeah." "Geez, Bella, you're still freezing! Try to relax." "I'm trying! It's not as easy as it seems when you aren't running an intern al body temperature of one-hundred eight degrees farenheit," I joked around. Jac ob took it offensively. "There isn't much of anything I can do about it. It's just the way we werew olves are. If I could do something about it, then damn it, I would. I hate being hot. There are times in my life when I want to be cold. I want to be as cold as you, sometimes. I want to freeze my butt off. But, as we know, I can't. So I mi ght as well stop talking about it before I upset myself." I sighed. "I know. I want to be hot." Jacob laughed. "Why do you want to be something you already are? That makes no sense whatsoever." Once I realized what I had said, I rearranged my words. "I want to be as ho t as you." "Oh, stop it," Jacob smiled enlighteningly. "You're embarassing me." "Jacob, you're not making this any easier than it already is. I want to be hot, as in I never want to get cold. The heat reminds me of Phoenix. It reminds me of the days when it would be one-hundred fifteen degrees outside. It reminds me of the days with my mother. The days I sweated my butt off. I don't like bein g an inferior human. I want to be hot, like you. Temperature wise, I mean." "Bella," Jacob warned, "you are not an inferior human. You are a normal hum an being. This goes back to the factor that states that you would be more perfec t with me than with that Edward kid. I want you, Bella. I know he does, too, but I want you more than he wants your blood. I want you to live with me. I would n ever be able to forgive you if he changed you, and you all ran off together fore ver. I would never come and visit, I would never speak to you over the phone aga in, I would never do anything associated to you ever again. But most of all, if he changed you and ran off with him, then I woudl retrieve that wolf charm I mad e for you, and cut it into a million tiny, useless pieces. I hope that makes you understand how much I want you." "Wait, I am confused on something," I stopped. "I have never taken off this bracelet. Never. How would you get a hold of the charm you made for me and disp ose of it?" "I would find a way." "No you wouldn't." Jacob eyed me enviously. "Watch me." Alice saw everything. In a vision. But she didn't see me the way she would have if it had been Edward that saved me. She never saw anyone pull me out of the wat er. She saw me . . . dead. "Edward . . . I think there's something you might want to know," Alice sto pped hunting and froze in her spot.

"What is it, Alice?" "It's about--" "Bella," he finished for me. 'What about her." "Edward. she's dead." Edward stopped and turned to his sister. "She's what? How?" "Edward, she's dead. It wasn't Jacob's fault, although he promised to watch and protect her. She and Jacob were at La Push Beach, and Jacob was kissing her . They were at chest-length water, and they were kissing, devouring each other's lips when something yanked her underwater. Jacob saved her, but she was so cold , she could not protect herself. He went to fetch his shirt and shorts for her, and when he came back, she was dead. He did everything in his will to show his g uilt for it. Edward, she's dead." "How can you be so sure? Last time someone told me she was dead, she had to travel with you to Italy while I was taunting the Volturi, and I nearly got kil led. Are you sure she's dead?" Edward clarified. "My visions have always been half-as-acurate as they could be." "But your visions are subjective. How do you know she's dead?" "Look at me!" Alice whirled around and looked her brother in the eyes. "I a m your sister, for God's sakes! You have always been able to trust me! Now, with something as deathly serious as this, you mean to tell me that you don't believ e me!?" "Are you sure Jacob had nothing to do with it?" Edward asked. Alice finally thought about that for a brief minute. Edward was right. If Jacob had anything to do about it, then she would not have been able to see him. After all, she cou ldn't see anything past Jacob and his pack of mutts. If he had anything to do wi th Bella's so-said death, then she would not have been able to see him, and she was still alive. "Now that I think about it, she might still actually be partly alive. But i f Jacob didn't have anything to do with it, then she is alive. If by some freak reason, Jacob didn't have anything to do with it, then she was, for sure, dead.. " "That's better, Alice." "I am trusting you, Edward. If she is surely dead, then I will personally c ommand Emmett to rip your head off." "When have you not been able to trust me?" "Just wait," Alice said. In the meantime, Jacob took me to Billy's, and he gave me a little talk on frost bite. Knock. Knock. Knock. Knock. "Come in, Jacob." "How did you know we were coming?" Jacob asked, puzzled. "I didn't know you were coming, but I recognized your knock. You are the on ly one I know who knocks four times a row with a second in between each. Come in , Jacob. What do you need?" "Actually, I need you to do something for me, dad." Billy looked stumped. "What do you need?" I was still standing outside of Jacob's door. He opened his mouth, and then dragged me in. "Good morning, Bella. How are you?" "I'm good, thank you." Billy was still unfamiliar with what Jacob was doing back at his house with me. "What do you need, Jacob? Bella?" Jacob sighed. "I have to tell you a story. Then I'll tell you what I need." "Why don't you two sit down? You two look awfully unsteady and uncomfortabl e. Come take a seat," Billy pointed to the love seat just a few feet away from h im. We both sat down, and we were uncomfortably close to each other. "Well, are you ready or not? Tell the story." Jacob looked at me. "Where should we start?" I shrugged. "Whereever. He knows about the . . . I mean . . . them--" "Yes, I know about the Cullens," he filled in the blank. "Go on with the st

ory." Jacob sighed. "Okay then, well, Bella and I were . . . wait, why am I telli ng this story? It was you it happened to. Besides, you know it better than I do. Go on, Bella," Jacob urged me forward. I sighed. "Well, there's a lot to the story, so I am just going to explain it in little chunks." "Okay, go on," Billy said. "Well, let's start from the beginning. I was at school, and I was hit in th e head with a volleyball. I blacked out and woke up in the infirmary. Almost eve ryone I knew was surrounding me. The nurse told me that I should go home and rel ax. The Cullens, well, atleast Jasper, Edward, and Alice offered to take me home . On the way home, Alice had a vision that we were going to crash down the ravin e separating their land for your land. She yelled at me to put my seatbelt on. I fumbled for the seatbelt just before we went crashing down the ravine. I was th rown out of the truck. Edward tried to stop the truck, but it crushed him flat. We were forced to leave him. Once we arrived at the Cullens' place, Carlisle ten ded to my wounds. I had a dislocated elbow, a raw shoulder, and a huge cut exten ding from my shoulder to my elbow. I also had a minor concussion. It wasn't had, but it was enough to knock me out on the way home. They tried to wake me up, bu t I couldn't wake up. By the time we reached Carlisle, I had woken up, and he wa s stitching up my arm. It was around lunch time that he finished with me. All of the Cullens took me to lunch. Jasper took me home, but we stopped at a few memo rable places. Then he took me home. I had a dream that night. It was about one o f the nomadic vampires, Victoria. Jacob and I were walking in the forest, just w alking and talking about whatever. When, out of the blue, Victoria jumped out bi t me square on the neck. Jacob was pacing the floor, wondering what to do. Once he'd made up the decision to go tell someone and get help, I was dead. I woke up after that dream, screaming and thrashing around in bed, and Charlie had to com e shake me out of my dream. He got me a glass of water and asked me if I was oka y. When I told him I was, he left. Once he'd turned out the lights and went back to sleep, I ran to the phone and called Alice and told her about my dream. She told me to call her if I feel insecure or if I have that dream again. She remind ed me that she could help me. When I was done with the call, I went to bed. Jake woke me up at six-thirty this morning to hang out because they were hunting and they didn't want what happened in my dream to happen in reality. We went to bre akfast together and then we stopped at the La Push Beach to swim for a little wh ile. We kissed in the water. We kissed good and long. Of course, in the middle o f our kiss, something pulled me underwater and nearly drowned me. He breathed in to me, trying to bring me to life. When he went to get his shirt and shorts for me, I eventually died. I dreamt about the best possible thing I can dream about in the state I was in. I was floating in a boat in the middle of the ocean. The waves were crashing against the boat and the thunder was threatening. Before I k new it, a leak had sprung in the boat I was in. I could not haul out the water f ast enough and the boat sank. Suddenly, I was not in the water anymore. I was in the forest. Edward seemed pretty worried about something, but he would not spea k about it until we were alone in the forest. He stopped me and told me he was l eaving me. He told me that Carlisle was supposed to be ten years older than he l ooked, and people were starting to notice. They told me that they had to leave, and that I couldn't come with them. Then he left me. I tried to run after him, b ut I tripped over a tree root and fell asleep. Then, the scene changed. I was st ill in the forest, but I wasn't asleep in the leaves. I was walking. With Jacob. We were talking about whatever when Victoria came along. It was my dream all ov er again. The vampiric dream. After a half-an-hour of said-unconsciousness, or d eath, if that is how you want to put it, I woke up from death. Jacob warmed me u p and told me that we needed to come here, because you have dealt with frostbite ," I picked up to the present. I glanced at Jacob and noticed that he looked rat her uncomfortable. "Wow, Bella. That's a--" "Hell of a story. I know. You're just like your son." Billy stiffened. "Well, I've never dealt with frostbite before, but I do kn

ow a little bit about it. Do you have time, Bella? I hear that your friends are out hunting." "Yeah, I have time. Jacob and I were going to hang out all day, and into th e night tonight," I gestured to Jacob. He smiled. "Yeah, they didn't want what happened in my dream to happen, so they asked Jacob if they could spend the day with me." Billy smiled. "Then what am I doing here? You're alive. You're fine. No blo od, no foul. Go on. Go have some fun. I'll still be here when you're done, Jacob . Go on. Nice puppy." Jacob laughed harmonizingly. "Only Bella is allowed to call me a good dog. Or a nice puppy, for that matter." Billy turned to me. "Be careful with the dog. He has a habit of doing exact ly what you do not want him to do. I just want to make sure you are watching ove r him." "Don't worry, Billy. I'll watch over him," I stood up and put my arm around Jacob, my loyal companion. He barked rather convincingly. "You know? You'd make a really good full-time dog." He smiled. "You really think so?" "Sure. I mean, that bark sounded rather convincing." "Go have fun, kids. I'll see you later when you are done 'hanging out.' Goo dbye," Billy waved us out of his house. We both held our hands up defensively as we walked out of the house. "Wow. He was a big help," I joked. "That's just how Billy is. He offers to do something for you, then he kicks you out of his house. That's just how it works." "Yeah," I said, "but my dad actually cares about me. Your's kicks you out o f your house." "Don't remind me. He's just like that. He does care about me, but he never gives me an opportunity to speak if he is in the middle of something." "I can relate to that." "How so?" "Whenever Charlie is in the middle of something, I mean the smack-dab middl e of something, something that cannot possibly be interrupted, then he won't say a single word until he is done. But I think that's only happened a few times in my lifetime," I explained. "I see." "Where to, my loyal companion?" I asked him. Man, calling him my loyal comp anion never got old. "Wherever is fine with you, it's fine with me." "You're so pushy." "It's you that's being pushy." "Where do you want to go?" "I told you, wherever you want." I made a noise somewhere between a sigh and a groan. "Let's go for a walk." "That sounds good. See? I'm not so pushy after all," Jacob said. I glared a t him. "I would word your sentences more differently," I smacked his face. He smil ed. "That didn't hurt, you know that," Jacob said. I snorted. "I know. I just wanted to show my anguish for you." "I think you got the word out." "That's good." He scooped me up in his arms. "Where to, my darling?" I laughed. "You are a little late for that, Jacob." "I don't care." "How about we go on a walk through the forest. We would be careful where we would walk. With Victoria on the run, and all." "Yeah. Minor detail. Lead the way, my loyal companion," I pointed ahead. He didn't bother to think twice about it. Neither did I. And really, I should have . Because Victoria wasn't going to be waiting in that one spot. Even I knew that

. The further Jacob took me through the forest, the more darkness we were ove rcome by. Soon, just barely enough light to see ahead was visible from in betwee n the trees. "Jacob, where are we going?" I asked, peering past each individual tree. "Wherever you want to go, babe," Jake jumped onto a rock and back onto the gravel. "Wait, stop," I paused. Jacob came to an abrupt stop. "What's the matter, Bella?" "What was that?" "What was what--?" "Shh!" I hissed. "What was that?" I pointed. I caught a glimpse of something lingering in th e trees ahead of us. Jacob looked at where I was pointing and saw it too. "What the-" "Jake, run!" I jumped on his back and screamed in his ear. "Bella, what is going on?" Jacob couldn't tell what it was, but I was defin itely not ready to tell him yet. "Jake, Victoria! It was Victoria! Run! Jake, run!" I screamed. He took off running. At least he understood what our problem was. "Where is she now?" Jacob panicked as he continued to run. I looked back, b ut saw nothing. "I don't see anything behind us-- Jake! Jake, look in front of us!" I jumpe d off. It was a good thing I jumped off, because the second I ran away, Jacob ph ased on the fly. He dashed forward and snarled threateningly. Victoria dropped f rom the trees above us and then I knew it was my cue to run. But I didn't run. I stayed and watched. Which was not what I should have done. I hid behind a tree about ten feet away. Only my head was visible from behi nd the tree. I saw the vicious battle between vampire and werewolf. This was not the first time I had watched two mythical creatures fight. Edward and Jacob had fought before. But they didn't count, because I loved both of them. I love both of them the same, so they didn't count in my world. I knew better than anyone that the werewolf was going to defeat the vampire . I had seen it before. After all, they had killed one already. Victoria's nomad ic friend, Laurent. Now Victoria was going to go down. I had never seen a vampir e kill a werewolf without dying afterwards. I hadn't realized how distracted I was by the scenery that I forgot to watc h the battle. I took one glimpse toward Jacob and Victoria. Victoria was down, a nd Jacob was on top of her. I was still unsure of who would win this fight. Alice had had enough of our games. She was done with seeing us make fools of our selves. Now she was going to do something about it. "Alice, what are you doing?" Jasper turned to his sister. "I am going to talk some sense into Bella and her loyal companion. I am tir ed of watching them make complete fools of themselves, playing like they do--" s he stopped. Jasper led her to the nearest tree stump and glared at her with full intent. "Alice, what do you see?" he asked. Jasper couldn't hand her paper to sketc h what she saw in her vision. Jasper wanted to see what she saw. Or at least kno w what she saw. "It's Edward and Bella-- show me to a tree. I have to show you what I see," she demanded politely. Jasper picked up a stick and led here to a tree. She beg an carving in the wood. "Alice-- what do you see?" Jasper was still eager to know. "It's Bella and Jacob. They're walking in the forest, and-- oh no. It's Vic toria," she was still carving in the wood. "Jasper, what's the matter?" Edward appeared from in between the trees. He had read Jasper's mind and found out that Alice had a vision. "I don't know. She won't tell me. It has something to do with Bella and Jac ob. And-- Victoria."

"Alice, you have to tell me. What do you see?" Edward demanded. Alice still wouldn't tell. Edward noticed that she was engraving something in the wood. "Alice, what is that?" Jasper peered at the engraving on the tree. "It looked like a wolf. And Victoria--" "Yes," Alice finally said. "That's exactly what it is. And do you know what is going on?" There was silence on both ends of the line. "Come on, guys. Victoria and Jacob are fighting. Bella is standing about te n feet away, watching them fight. Of course, she isn't smart enough to stay at l east ten feet away from the fight." "Of course," Jasper muttered. "Is there anything we can do about it?" Edward asked. "Sadly, no. They are fighting. We are going to have to leave them to fight. I can't see who is going to win, though. I can't see that far ahead, yet. Just by determining this, it is going to be a long fight." Suddenly, Edward remembered something. He asked, "has Victoria gotten anywh ere near Bella yet?" Alice paused. "Not that I have seen. Jacob has kept Victoria well away from Bella. But I cannot understand why she is still watching the fight. I mean, if I had as much smarts as her, then I would stay out of the forest. As far away as humanly possible from the fight. I could not want to get killed. Apparently, sh e likes taking risks. Life threatening ones, I mean." "That's a great way to put it." "Simply wonderful," Jasper added. "So we leave her alone?" Edward clarified. "We don't have much of a choice. We just need to let them fight, and I will let you two know who wins when I see it," Alice said. "Please let me know the minute you see which one wins. I'll hang around thi s general area until you see it," Edward said. Alice nodded. "Okay. I will let you know the minute I see it." I eventually completely forgot where I was. I took a quick look around and recog nized the area. I was in the forest. Witnessing a fight between vampire and were wolf. I glanced at where the fight was taking place. All I saw was Jacob, lying o n the ground, temporarily breathless. "Jacob?" I ran up to him. "Jacob, speak to me." I shook him violently. I tu rned him over and found out what had left him temporarily breathless. He had an extremely deep gash in his lower chest, and several scratches on both of his arm s. He was lying in a pool of his own blood. "Jacob, no, no, PLEASE!!" I continued to shake him. He, as before, showed n o sign of movement. "Jacob, no," I eyed the festering wound on his lower chest. "Jacob, no. Don 't die on me. DON'T DIE ON ME!" I cried in agony. "You were a little late to warn Jacob about me," Victoria leapt from a tree directly behind me and shoved me down on top of Jacob. I heard a devastating moan as I landed on top of Jacob. I could feel the bare flesh on his chest. Before I knew it, I was splashed with the blood from Jacob's festering chest. Victoria eyed me deviously. "Too bad your precious Cullens aren't here to save you. And it also appears that your loyal companion is unconscious. Now, nothing can stop me," Victoria l eaned in close and sank her razor-sharp teeth into my wrist, the same place that James bit me two years previously. "Edward! Edward! Come here, now! Edward!" Alice panicked, pausing next to a tree . She leaned against it for support. "Alice? Alice? What is it? Who won?" Alice caught a glimpse of Edward darti ng from behind a tree in the distance. "Edward! Oh, no, Edward!" "What is it, Alice?" Jasper leapt from a tree in front of Alice. He hugged

her tightly in hopes of calming her down. This, unnaturally, didn't make much to any of a difference. "Edward, Victoria won. Jacob's almost dead, and Victoria has just bitten Be lla," Alice tried to say as calmly as possible. Tears were flowing from her eyes . "Alice, are you sure? Your visions are subjective. Are you sure that's what you saw?" Edward said. Alice glared at him. "We've had this talk before, Edward. My visions may be subjective, but I ha ve seen it happen at least three times already. If Victoria wanted to change her mind, then she would have to do it now. Come on! We have to go! Bella's been bitten by Victoria!" Alcestis dashed off. "Alice, wait!" Jasper called after her. "What?" she darted back. "We have to inform everyone else about what has happened. You two go, and I will inform everyone else about our whereabouts. Go on!" Jasper shooed them away. Alice and Edward were off in a flash. Jasper continued forward until he came across the closest member of the Cul len clan. Emmett was feeding off of a grizzly bear before Jasper came up to him. From the instant Jasper approached him, he knew that something was wrong. "Jasper, what's the matter?" Emmett ceased and stood up next to Jasper. "Jacob and Victoria got into a fight. Jacob to protect Bella, and Victoria to kill Bella. Jacob is nearly dead, and Bella has been bitten. We need all the help we can get. I need help gathering everyone we possibly can before we head o ver. Can you help me?" Jasper pleaded. Emmett looked from the bear he had killed and back to Jasper. "Sure, I can help you. Under one condition." "What condition?" Jasper asked nervously. "I get first dibs at Bella," Emmett said seriously. Emmett sounded complete ly serious, but Jasper took it as a joke. "Okay. Fine. Whatever. Just please help me take care of Bella!" Jasper rush ed off. "Yes!" Emmett cheered. "Can you please see if you can gather all of our family that you possible can in a timely manner?" Jasper stopped to face Emmett. "Sure thing, Jasper," he ran off. "It's okay, Bella. We're on our way," Jasper took off through the forest to find where Jacob and Bella lay. "Bella? Bella? Where are you? Bella?" Alice cried, searching aimlessly for my li feless body. When they found me, my eyes were a blood-red color, my skin was as white as a porcelain tea cup and my lips were as blue as a fresh bruise. "Edward, it's too late. She's gone," Alice cried, turning away from my body . My wrist wad soaked in blood. "No, Alice. It's not too late. Can you hear me? Bella?" Edward eased forwar d. I could hear him, but I could not move. I wanted nothing more than for him to suffocate me in a back-breaking hug. "What are we going to do about Jacob?" Alice knelt down and examined his fe stering wounds. "Jacob will be fine. I can take care of him. It's Bella I am worried about. It might actually be too late. Her body might already have begun the transformation," Carlisle and Esme knelt down beside Jacob and I. "Why isn't she moving? She isn't making any noise," Jasper observed. Carlis le took a grim glimpse at Jasper. "She may not be making any noises because the pain of the bite is too excruc iatingly painful, she has to resist movement." Edward saw Jasper's nostrils flare. "Jasper, please be careful," Edward war ned. "Everyone; hold your breath. It will help," Esme started the trend. Everyone except Carlisle followed. "I have generations of experience," Carlisle explained.

"Of course," Esme took a step back. "What should I do?" Edward said in a panicky voice. Although he was trying to remain as calm as possible, he wasn't doing so well. "Please try to make her blood clean. It's our only hope. If this doesn't work, then there is nothing we can do about it. She has already begun the transformation. Hopefully we are not too late," Carlisle transported my body from on top of Jacob's. "Carlisle," Edward groaned. "It's the only way to save her, if we still have time," he explained. "You remember what happened last time," Edward said. None of the Cullen clan had forgotten the last time Edward had to clean my blood. "Edward, you have to hurry. We're running out of time," Alice called from across the forest. She was trying to keep her distance so she didn't go into a frenzy. "I know. It's okay, Bella. I'm going to make it go away," Edward said, leaning in close. I could feel Edward's teeth sinking into the bite, and him sucking the venom out of me. Edward removed his teeth from my wrist and then looked at Carlisle. "Her blood is mostly clean. I can taste the morphine." "Mostly clean isn't enough. Are you sure you can taste the morphine?" Carlisle looked puzzled. "I've saved her from something like this before. In this circumstance, actu ally. You think I would know how to handle this situation," Edward growled. "Edward, mostly clean isn't enough. If her blood is not completely clean, t hen she has already begun the transformation. Are you sure?" "Positive." "If her blood is completely clean, then why isn't she showing any signs of life? She's not moving," Emmett observed. "You're right, Emmett. She isn't showing any signs of life." "Carlisle, wait," Edward crept forward. He leaned in close and sank his lip s into my neck, on the other side of the bite. "Edward, what are you doing? You're going to kill her. Stop," Carlisle warn ed. "Just wait," Edward whispered. "She's still alive. Just give me a second," Edward whispered just quietly enough that the Cullens could hear him. She squeez ed his lips into my neck. She pressed down softly and whispered, "Bella, it's ok ay. You can wake up now." This was my call signal to wake up. 'Wake up,' my mind told me. I creaked m y eyes open just barely enough that I could see Edward kissing my neck. By the t ime that I was fully able to open my eyes wide enough to understand what was goi ng on, all of the Cullens were staring at me, everyone except Edward, whose lips were still pressed against my neck. He eased back and looked directly into my e yes. "Bella." "Edward," I opened my cracked lips. "Yes, Bella. It's me. You can wake up, now," Edward smiled grimly. "Edward--" I stretched my arms out, and Edward grabbed them and pulled them forward. I bounced into his arms. He crushed me in a backbreaking hug. "It's so good to know that you are safe again. Promise me that you will nev er do anything like that to me again," Edward was still squeezing me tightly. "Edward, it's not my fault. Jacob dragged me here, that jack butt," I let g o of him. He felt less pressure on his arms, so he let go, too. "You know, he's right next to you," Jasper pointed. He seemed to have calme d down. "I know," I said. "I am well-aware of this. Besides, he is not conscious en ough to understand what I am saying. Wait-Jacob! Where is he?" "Calm down," Alice stepped forward. "Carlisle said that he will be just fin e. We will need lots of time to recover, though. Carlisle isn't entirely positiv e as to what is wrong with him, but he has his suspicions." Carlisle nodded. "Do you know exactly what happened?" I shook my head. "No. I wasn't paying attention to the fight. I was watchin

g them, but I was not keeping track of what was going on. What is wrong with him ?" Carlisle sighed. "Well, I have noticed that he has a festering wound on his chest. Victoria appeared to have sliced through the chest. It didn't go far eno ugh to reach his heart, but with how deep it went, it is certainly life-threaten ing. He also has some deep cuts on his arms, and one on his chest. This is where Victoria lunged forward and slashed him with her claws--" "I didn't know vampires had claws," I said stupidly. Everyone turned to fac e me. "No duh, Sherlock," Jasper said sarcastically. Alice laughed. "Of course we have claws. How else are we supposed to get our prey to remai n still?" Alice smiled. I tried to act like I understood. "Great." "Are you okay? With the bite and everything?" Edward asked. He seemed deepl y concerned about me, even though he had sucked all of the venom out of me. "Edward, I am fine. I am just a little dizzy, but I am fine." Carlisle cleared his throat. "Please be honest. Tell us if you feel abnorma l in any way. You know we can help you." I frowned. "Now that you mention it, I am feeling a little--" I didn't have time to finish my sentence. I had blacked out, and I was on the floor. "Bella," Emmett dove for me and scooped me up. "Bella? Speak to me." Of course, being unresponsive, I could not respond to his demand. "What should we do with her, now?" I was sprawled in Emmett's arms. "Take her back to the house, I guess. Is everyone done hunting? Anything yo u needed to resume?" Esme peered around at everyone. All of the Cullen clan was silent. "Good. Off we go with her, then." Carlisle scooped up Jacob and I was in Emmett's arms as they all made their way back to the house. "How long is she going to be blacked-out like this?" Alice had been hanging out over me since I was carried here. Carlisle was working on Jacob, so he was in on e of the other rooms. Probably his office. "I'm not entirely sure. I am not very good at this stuff," Esme confessed. "At least she's not dead." "Yeah. At least she's not dead," Jasper repeated. "Hey, where's Edward?" Emmett glanced around. Everyone but Carlisle and Edw ard were in the room, surrounding me. "He's in with Carlisle, watching him work on Jacob. He wants to be there to thank Jacob for watching over Bella to the best of his ability while our family was out hunting. He probably wouldn't be able to prevent what had happened earl ier. Even if we had arrived in the nick of time, we still would have been too la te," Esme stated. "What are we going to tell Charlie?" Alice brought it up. "What are we goin g to tell him? He's going to think something suspicious is going on if Bella kee ps hanging out here." Emmett laughed. "And every time Bella is here, either she is unconscious, o r she is in a dreadful state." "I have found that pretty ironic," Alice looked at everyone, then down at m e. "As have I. What are we going to tell Charlie?" Alice stepped forward. "I'll come up with something. I am the one who usual ly comes up with brilliant excuses to get Bella out of trouble." "And it always seems to work," Esme pointed out. "Because she's always back here tomorrow, in the same condition she was in beforehand." Seconds passed. Minutes passes. Hours passed. I eventually woke up. "Guys, I think Bella's waking up." "She is? That's great." "Bella? Can you hear me?"

I heard so many voices at once, it was rather overwhelming. The only one I seemed to recognize was Edward's. "Edward?" I croaked. My voice got caught in my throat and what came out was more like, "Edaaah." "Yes, Bella. I'm here." "Bella, open your eyes," I heard a pixie-like voice. Alice, I assumed. I op ened my eyes anyway. I saw Edward, hovering directly over my face. Surrounding m e was Jasper, Carlisle, Emmett, Esme, Alice, Rosalie, and someone else. Who was it . . . Jacob! "Jacob!" I wanted to jump out of bed and crush him in a backbreaking hug. E dward knew I wanted to. That must have been part of the reason why he was holdin g me down. "Bella!" Jacob bounded forward and hugged me tightly. "Where the hell have you been, girl?" "I've been out for a while." "Um, actually, I don't mean to argue with you, but you have been unconsciou s for about . . . thirteen hours," Esme confessed. I was dazed. "Th-- thirteen hours?" I croaked. I knew I had been out or a while, but not thirteen hours. This was incredible. "What time is it?" I panicked. "When is school? Are we late? Have we missed it? Oh, God, tell me what's going on here!" "Bella. Calm down. It's Saturday. We are not missing school. They actually kind of hope that you don't come to school today. If you do, then the school is not responsible for your lack of planning," Emmett said. I glared at him. "Very well put, Emmett." "Can I stand on the chair and feel a power surge now?" "Yes, you are fine, Emmett." He was as excited as a little girl who just got a new puppy. He jumped athl etically onto a chair and pretended to let the power surge through him. "Woo hoo!" he cheered. He posed a few times and flexed his muscles. He spot ted Rosalie laughing hard in the corner of the room. He got her attention as she turned to face him. "Hey, baby! Check out the gun show! Boom! Bang! Firepower!" Emmett flexed h is arm muscles. Rosalie seemed to be enjoying herself in the corner of the room. She was leaning against the wall, laughing her head off. Good thing vampires do n't have to breathe, because she would be out of breath. "Yeah, that's the spirit, Emmett!" Rosalie wove her hands in the air and ch eered along. "You got it, baby!" While Emmett was having his fun, I looked at all of the Cullens individual ly. Emmett seemed to be having the time of his life, standing in that chair. He was shaking his butt back and forth. He had an enormous grin on his face as he d id this. I glanced over at Rosalie. She, as well as Emmett, had an excited grin on h er face. She was not as down-to-Earth and heartless as she usually was. When eve r she took the occasional glace over at me, she kind of frowned a little, but th en she returned her gaze to her boyfriend once again. Alice seemed to be enjoying herself; she was swaying back and forth and dan cing throughout the house. She didn't seem as happy as the rest o her family, bu t she was definitely more high-spirited than she usual was. Jasper, on the other hand, looked rather irritated. He had a grim look on h is face. His eyes were red with anguish. His lips were parted slightly, and he s eemed to be murmuring something under his breath. He almost looked . . . hungry. He looked as if he had not finished his commute with his hunting only several h ours earlier. I wanted to ask Jasper if he was alright, but I decided against it, because if he was not okay, meaning he was indeed, not finished with his hunting, then I did not want to be the bait. Edward was leaning against the wall. He stood motionless; he almost looked

like a model manikin than yes, a beautiful vampire. And I was proud to say that he was beautiful. He was my vampire. I shuddered at the thought. Vampire, I ran over in my head. Vampire, I kept on saying. Eventually, I was saying vampire out loud. "Vampire," I muttered. "Vampire." Edward had forgotten that I was even there. "I'm sorry?" he said. "Nothing," I said, embarrassed. It wasn't every day that a vampire didn't pay any attention to you. After all, Edward was my vampire. God, I had to stop s aying that. If I keep saying that, then it would eventually going to stick. Wha t could I say? He was mine. All mine. I felt the sudden impulse to run away. To just . . . run. Into the forest. All alone. But I had to escape quickly. Before sunset, my impulse told me. I couldn't just run away. What about Edward? Jacob? And, and Charlie? What would he do without me? S He couldn't cook to save his life. Somehow, he had man aged to take care of himself since he was alone, but still. Would he go into a f renzy if he found out that I had disappeared? Would he inform Renee of my disapp earance? Would she go into a frenzy when she found out that I disappeared? This was all too much for me. I couldn't understand why I wasn't in full-control of my body right now, bu t I decided to sprint out the door. I threw open the front door, slammed it behi nd me, and sprinted into the dark. I wasn't sure if anyone followed after me when I ran out the door, but that was not what I was concentrating on. I was destined to get away. Away from it al l. I don not know why. But I needed to get away. Back at the Cullen's place, Esme was anxiously calling everyone I knew, seeing i f they knew where I was. Of course, Charlie was the last person she called becau se she didn't want him panicking before she got a hold of everyone else. Of course, she called Billy first. I was still surprised that she ever dare contact Billy Black. "Hello?" a grim voice said on the other end. "Hello. This is Esme Cullen speaking. Have you seen a Bella Swan lately?" s he asked. Billy seemed even more surprised by the fact that she was contacting h im other than the fact that she was asking if he had seen a Bella Swan lately. "No, I have not seen a Bella lately. Why do you ask?" Billy demanded polite ly. He still seemed pretty dazed that Esme would call him. "She went missing. We had her at our place, but she mysteriously left, and no one has any freaking clue where she is. That is why we are asking where she i s," Esme tampered. Carlisle interrupted her. "Esme, how about you let me take over. We've been looking for Bella for a l ong time now, so we need to alternate off once in a while. You go help the other s look for Bella while I contact everyone she knows," Carlisle held his hand out to the phone. She gave it to him reluctantly. "Make sure you get a hold of everyone you can possibly think of that might know where Bella is. Esme, are we understood?" Carlisle brought the phone to his ear. Esme nodded. Carlisle nodded, and Carlisle finally began speaking. "I'm sorry, Billy, Esme's just really worried about Bella. She's going to b e like this until we find her. Or at least we know she's safe," Carlisle explain ed. "Alright. What happened? This story of Esme's doesn't sound very convincing ," Billy argued. Carlisle sighed deeply. "It's really a long story. I will start from the beginning. Bella was playi ng volleyball in the Forks High School gymnasium, and she was pelted in the head with a volleyball--" Billy interrupted. 'Wait, wait, I already know what happens there. She left off at the waking up after she was nearly drowned." Carlisle sighed with relief. "That's good. You just saved me a straight ten minutes of taking." "Just speak," Billy growled.

"After Bella came to your house to explain what happened, Jacob and Bella we nt for a walk in the forest, neglecting to think about what would happen to Bell a if they got too close. They were walking and talking when Victoria attacked. S he didn't go for Bella at first. She dove for Jacob. They spent a lot of time fi ghting. Bella eventually stopped watching the fight, and she forgot where she wa s. Once she finally snapped back into attention, Jacob was on the ground, and Vi ctoria was right behind Bella. Right on cue, she attacked. She bit Bella square on the side of the neck. We found hr a few minutes later. The good news was that Edward was able to suck the venom out of her blood to the point where he could taste the morphine. Her blood was clean, but she had passed out during this proc ess. "We brought her straight to our house and tended to her. She regained consc iousness approximately thirteen hours later. Before she was able to regain consc iousness, however, we tended to Jacob's wounds. He had a festering cut under is left breast. He also had a variety of scratches and bite marks on his body--" "Did he become one of you?"Billy wondered out loud. "Thankfully, no. He has the wolf gene in him, so there was no chance that h e could become one." There was a sigh of relief on the other line. "Phew. I would not be able to live with myself if my son became a . . . a bloodsucker," he murmured that word distinctly. Carlisle was silent. Realizing what he had done, he cleared his throat. "I am sorry if I offended you. Go on." "It's fine, Billy. Everyone criticizes us at least once in their short life. So Jacob did not become a vampire because he has the wolf gene, and he could no t be changed, even if he wanted to be. So we tended to his wounds. His chest had to be stitched up. Luckily, it was not a life-threatening injury. It was fairly -easily treated. "When Bella woke up, it had been nearly thirteen hours. Everyone was relieve d to see that she was alive. Edward kissed her on the cheek and Jacob hugged her close. Everyone else just seemed glad to see that she was alive. "Soon after that, Bella just . . . left. She just left. She sprinted throug h the front door, and slammed it behind her. We all noticed that she had disappe ared. Even Emmett stopped dancing on a chair and noticed her disappearance--" "Why was Emmet dancing on a chair in the first place?" Billy wondered out loud. "It's a long story," Carlisle explained. "Anyways, most of the family is ou t looking for her and no one has any clue as to where she is at this moment." "That's great. Well, I have no clue as to where she is," Billy said unconvi ncingly. Carlisle seemed convinced. "Alright. Thank you, Billy," Carlisle was just about to hang up. "You're welcome. Good bye, blood sucker," Billy hung up. Carlisle sighed an d then hung up. "He has no idea where she is," Carlisle explained to Esme. "Darn it!" Esme complained. "I thought we were on to her!" "Calm down, Esme. We will find her eventually." "I sure hope so." As of now, I was at a far enough of a pace between the Cullen's house and m y own place. It was hard to believe that I was still running. The pain in my cal ves had long-since ceased, and I was running for the joy of it now. The cool air brew heavily into my face. I gulped in a fresh breath of air; cool air filled m y aching lungs. It was as if the time had stopped around me, and I could not stop moving. M y legs were moving freely beneath me, and there was nothing I could do to stop t hem. Stop, I told myself. This is insane. Why are you running away from your boy friend's house? From your best friend? I understood the vampire portion of this dilemma, but I wasn't sure as to why I was running away from nothing in particul

ar.

I had to stop. I forced my legs to stop moving beneath me, and I breathed h eavily as I ran over the possible options in my head. Where were we? Oh, yes, I was running away from Edward Cullen's house, whic h I still didn't understand. I has left everyone breathless behind me, and my li fe seemed so confusing at the moment. What was I to do? Keep running and hope th at I find what I am looking for? Run back and ignore that still-small voice tell ing me to evacuate this place. Those were my two options. At least one had to so und reasonable enough. Still, I could not come to an abrupt conclusion. Without a second of notice, I ran back to the house. I still didn't underst and what that still-small voice was telling me, but that honestly didn't matter at the moment. All I knew was that I needed to go back, even though a voice was telling me to run off and be free. Steer away from all this regret. It was almost if my legs had a mind of their own, and they were as reluctan t was I was to go back. They seemed to want to turn back and stay away from Edwa rd Cullen. But I wasn't completely in understanding with what was going on. I approached the house, my heart racing in my chest. I could barely grasp t he sweet scent that came off of their skin. I knew that all of the Cullens were inside, that none of them had left. And if at least one of them had left, they h ad all come back at some point while I was gone. I planted my hand on the doorknob, gave it a good twist, and the door opene d without strain or difficulty. I took one single glance around to see eight pai rs of eyes all staring back at me. Edward looked as if he was as relieved as hel l. Alice looked like she was about to cry. If she wasn't about to cry, then she had already spent a large amount of time crying. Her eyes were red and swollen, and her face was pale and damp. Alice was the first to speak. "Bella," she choked. Jasper came running over to me and wrapped his muscular arms around me. He sank his head over my shoulde r and sobbed his eyes out, which was odd because it wasn't like Jasper to cry. "Bella, we're so glad you're safe." "What the hell were you thinking?" Edward demanded. He hadn't taken a singl e breath or moved a single inch since he saw me in the doorway. "I don't know. I was just . . . oh, Edward," I dove toward him. He grasped me tightly and sniffed my hair. "Same old Bella," he sighed with relief. "Bella, where have you been?" Alice cried. "I've seen devastating visions a bout you." I paused, concerned. "What kinds of visions?" She wiped her face clean of tears before she began. "I saw you running away . You weren't stopping. You just kept on . . . running. I knew that nothing was going to stop you. I saw you-looking for Victoria. You were going to ask her to kill you." â Are you sure that was what you saw?â I clarified. It always seemed blaintly unrea onable to know that Alice saw a vision of me asking Victoria to kill myself. â Yes, that was exactly what I saw. Bella, what were you thinking, running away like that?â she demanded. â I donâ t know. I . . . Iâ m sorry, Alice. I donâ t know what was happening. All at I had an instinct to run away. To just escape it all. I didnâ t know how to respon d to that instinct, so I just ran away. I was kind of hoping that no one would s ee me. Then it came to me that you might have seen a vision of me. I still didnâ t ca re. â Finally, I came to my senses. I stopped and though about what was going on. Wh y was I running away, I asked myself. What was I thinking? Running away with Vic toria on the loose like that? I made my finally decision: I turned back. I knew that at least one of you would start looking for me, and I didnâ t want to risk what happened before. â I ran back to the house to see everyone back where we end up right back where everyone started.â Everyone froze. I heard a gasp from Edward. â Do you have any idea what was goin g on?â Edward asked me. I thought about it for a moment. What was going on? I didnâ t ju

t have a sudden instinct to run away. It had to be something else. Alice froze. â Bella, Victoria was talking to you through thought. Telepathy, we call it. She was speaking to you through Edward and I. I donâ t know how she did it, but she did it.â â Are you sure?â Carlisle took a step forward. â Positive,â she breathed. I forgot that everyone was there, and it was just not ju t Edward, Alice and I. I forgot that all of the Cullens were in my presence, and Jacob too. He was leaning against the wall for support. â Man, I hate having to trust a bunch of bloodsuckers to take care of my Bella,â he groaned. â Oh, shut up, dog,â Emmett growled. Jacob sighed and blinked a few times, clearing his mind. â How sure are you that Victoria is gone?â Esme asked. She seemed to be the most co cerned about what happened. â I never said that Victoria was gone,â Alice said. She had left out that little mi or detail. â Then where does that leave us now?â I retraced my steps. â Victoria wants you dead. But not just you. She wants anyone associated to you. All of us, Charlie, Renée, even Jacob. Anyone who has had anything to do with you in the past forever, she wants them dead. But what are the odds that Victoria co uld get a hold of everyone in a timely manner?â I paid no attention to who was speak ing. â The odds arenâ t very likely, but she can form an alliance with other vampires, li e the Volturi. With their help, they can track everyone in a heart beat. No one has ever beaten the Volturi.â â No one, except Carlisle,â Jasper stepped out of the way of his father. â I canâ t do anything about it. Iâ m sorry, Bella. Iâ ve tried everything I could n working with the Volturi. I may have beaten them once, but that doesnâ t automatica lly prove that I can do it again,â Carlisle summed up what could be a long speech. â Thatâ s . . . true. But every little bit counts,â Esme said. After a long silence, Edward pressed his lips to my ear. â I think youâ ve had enoug to deal with today. Iâ m sorry about all the trouble weâ ve caused you. Iâ m going to t home now.â â Edward, no. I want to stay here and be with you.â He objected, but not completely. â Iâ ll still be with you. At your house. I wonâ t your sight. Come, Bella. Youâ ve had enough. Time to go.â I checked my watch, just for my sanity. Holy shit. Eight-thirty. Time passe s when you are involved in a conversation with a bunch of vampires. And a werewo lf. Edward drove me home. He was abnormally extremely focused on the road ahead of us, and his face was stone cold. â Edward? Are you okay?â I turned my head. He met my eyes, and then turned back in n instant. â Iâ m fine,â he didnâ t look at me through the whole ride home. When he pulled up in my driveway, he didnâ t move. â Get out of the car,â was all . â W- what?â â I said get out of the car. Right now. Just . . . go.â â Whatâ s wrong?â I couldnâ t help but ask. He looked pissed off at something. â Isabella, get out of my car, now.â I got out of the car without saying goodbye. He had never acknowledged me b y my whole first name unless he was telling me how much he loved me. Now, appare ntly, was different. He looked like he wanted to kill me. It sort of reminded me of that day in Biology. I jumped through the open front door which Charlie had seen me coming and o pened up for me. â Whatâ s wrong Bella? And whose car is that? Is that Edwardâ s?â I slammed the door, but Edward was still watching me through the clear wind ow. Unfortunately, Charlie had cleaned the windows earlier today. I watched the rear of his car as the car remained completely still. â Whoâ s Edward?â Charlie looked puzzled. â What do you mean, whoâ s Edward? You know who Edward is. I

know who Edward is. Edward Cullen. Pale boy from school. He left you last year. You loved him to death, and you were heartbroken when he left.â â I donâ t know who Edwa . . .â I collapsed on the floor. My lungs had closed. My re squeezed shut. Charlie had a panic attack. â Oh my God, Bella! Bella! Can you hear me? Bella! Bella!â Charlie cried. He fell t his knees and sank his ear into my chest. He could hear nothing. He backed away , shocked. He glanced for a second out the window. The black Volvo that was park ed in our front yard was driving off. It was a good thing that Charlie moved out of the way, or he would have bec ome nearly dead, too. I had blacked out (which was good thing, because my body h ad gone limp), before the beating began. First, my arm was twisted out of my soc ket. Then I was struck ten, no, eleven times on the face. I lost a tooth and my mouth was pouring with blood. Charlie just stood there, dazed. There was no one there, to him, at least. â Bella! Bella!â he cried. He couldnâ t think of anything else to do other than to name out. The beating continued. To Charlie, an imaginary knife cut through my leg, a nd the white streak of bone was visible through the cut. This was all I remembered until the ambulance showed up.

3.

The Disappearance

I didnâ t know that many people were allowed in a hospital room at a time. My se nses were blocked out, all except for my hearing, and I heard half the world sur rounding my bed. â How did this happen?â â I donâ t know. Her dad said there was no one there.â â But that makes no sense. There had to have been someone there, or she wouldnâ t be in this state of emergency.â â Alright, everyone, please get out. Let me work on the patient. Sheâ s in a very de dly state right now. No one is allowed in the room unless itâ s her family. Everyone, get out,â the doctor shoved everyone out. Another doctor filed in. â How is she?â The first doctor sighed. â Well, how should I put this? Uh, sheâ s not good. If we d nâ t get this done soon, she will die.â Silence. Then, â Iâ ll take it from here.â â This is a very big operation. It couldnâ t possibly take less than three people . .â â Iâ ve been working at this hospital for twenty years now. I know what I am doing.â The first doctor gave up. â Alright, Dr. Carlisle. Sheâ s all yours. Just call me up when you need help.â A door closed, and footsteps approached me. â Letâ s see who we have here,â Dr. Carlisle picked up my records, which were sitt the end table next to my bed. â Oh my goodness.â Am I reading this correctly? Dr. Carlisle thought to himself. The front pag e, scribbled in black ink pen, Isabella Marie Swan. I am reading this correctly. Oh dear. Carlisle stared blankly at me. â Bella?â My senses were too bare to respond. Even if I could, then what would I tell him? Yes. A ghost sneaked into my house and nearly killed me? After returning from shock, Dr. Carlisle picked up my records again and rea d the next page. Isabella Marie Swan. Seventeen years of age. Mysteriously attacked. No one in sight. In critical condition. Operation begins September 13.

September 13. Thatâ s tomorrow, Dr. Carlisle thought to himself. Tomorrow. What the hell happened? This was an inexplicable phenomenon. How could this have happened? I wish t here was a way I could talk to Dr. Carlisle and tell him the legist of what happ ened. But . . . how? In no time at all, Dr. Carlisle had left my room and met the people in char ge of the front desk. â Excuse me, is this the administration office?â â Yes. May I help you with something?â Wow, if only a regular person were as kindhe rted as one of the administrators. â I have a few questions for you. Who passed this transcript to Ms. Isabella Swa nâ s room?â Dr. Carlisle held out the stack of papers nicely stapled together to the lad . She took them and flipped briefly through them. â I am sorry to say, I really donâ t know. It could have been one of the other docto s who were at the administratorâ s desk when I wasnâ t there. My guess would have to be D . Jamie.â â Okay, and second, has anyone attended this hospital in reference to her? I mean , has anyone dropped by to give details about what happened, or what they saw?â Dr. Carlisle asked. â Well, there have been several people attending this hospital to give details a bout their side of the story. Hereâ s the paper. At least ten people have come in the past hour to give their side of the story.â â Thank you,â Dr. Carlisle grabbed the stack of papers from the administratorâ s h . Carlisle walked off and down the hall into my hospital room.

In the mean time, at the Cullenâ s residence, Emmett and Rosalie were pressed up against each other, noses touching. Rosalie was sliding her hand across Emmettâ s gr izzly-like chest. Emmett had his nose pressed against Rosalieâ s long blond hair. â I love you,â Rosalie eased closer to him. â I love you even more,â Emmett pecked her on the cheek. â My love for you can never compare to the equivalence of my love for you,â Rosalie kissed Emmettâ s chest. â You wanna bet? I love you so much, I will do this,â Emmett yanked off his shirt a d began unbuttoning Rosalieâ s. â Oh, Emmett,â she said in the sexiest voice she could manage. Before someone finally found out that Emmett and Rosalie were lying in a be d together for God knows how long, Esme knocked on the door. â Am I okay to come in?â sh asked nervously. There was a sound of rustling vampires, then a faint voice squeaked, â Come in.â She took one step in and nearly had a panic attack. â What the hell were you doi ng? You know you canâ t do that!â Rosalie had finished buttoning up her shirt, and Emmet was yanking on his. â Itâ s not like we going to really do it,â Emmett joked just before he wrapped hi around Rosalieâ s torso. â I know, but just the thought makes me worried. I have never known what would h appen if you did that. And I donâ t have any hopes to try it out on my children. So p lease, donâ t show me that I can be proven wrong,â Esmeâ s hand was clutching her heart â Okay, Esme,â Emmett and Rosalie whispered simultaneously and jumped out of bed to hug their mother. â Have you heard from Edward lately?â Alice was skipping across the hall, and stopp d at the spare bedroom where Emmett, Rosalie, and Esme were standing. There was a silence. Then Rosalie said, â No. I have not heard from him since he took Bella home last night. I would have expected him to come straight home and take it like a man in his bedroom. I was apparently wrong,â Rosalie sighed. â Well, he has to be somewhere. I donâ t want to almost lose him again,â Esme reca e time with the Volturi. â I can go looking for him,â Alice was a bit more calm than usual when saying this. Just then, Jasper stopped and took a few steps into the spare bedroom. â I can help her look for him. After all, he is my brother.â â But . . . heâ s my brother, too,â Alice complained. â Alright, alright,â Esme held her hands up defensively. Weâ ll all go looking for

. .â

A door swung open in the distance, and Dr. Carlisle came running in. â Esme, I n eed to talk to you.â There was some confusion, but everyone gave Dr. Carlisle their undivided at tention. Dr. Carlisle took this as an opportunity to speak. â Bella is in the hospita l.â There was a series of gasps. Then, â But, I would have seen her if she was in th e hospital . . .â â Alice, no, you donâ t understand. This is serious. No one has any idea what happen d to her. Her file has been filled out at the hospital, but they have no evidenc e as to what happened to her. The administrators said that over ten people have visited the hospital in the past day, giving their sides of the story, but no re al evidence has come yet. They are still working on it. But the odds arenâ t looking very good. Are you following along with me?â Dr. Carlisle paused, taking a breath. E veryoneâ s mouths had dropped open. No one had shown any sign of life since Dr. Carli sle began speaking about me. â Uh, yeah, we follow,â Emmett said. â Well . . . kind of. What do you mean, no on what has happened to Bella?â â I mean, no one said that they know exactly what happened. Charlie hasnâ t even giv n me his side of the story, yet. The report says that while she was being attack ed, no one was there but Charlie, but he was no where near him when it happened. This is inexplicable. Nothing can possibly explain this.â Rosalie seemed to take a much-needed breath. â Wait, so, itâ s like she was attacked by an invisible being? That is preposterous. That couldnâ t have happened. I mean, wh o would have done it? What are the odds?â â Not good. Not very good at all. But it is still likely. I am going to work on her, see if I can find out something about this. Anything will work. I just need some evidence. Then I can take care of the rest . . .â There was a knock at the door, which was something no one was expecting. â Jaspe r, will you please get that? We will work things out while you do that,â Esme shooed him off. Jasper shot across the room, opened the door, and was surprised to see Char lie standing in their doorway. â Is . . . Dr. Cullen . . . here?â Charlie heaved. Had he run the whole way? It was ike Charlie to run. But there was no sign of a car or anything around, so he mus t have run. Jasper let him in. â Yes, Chief Swan. Heâ s down the hall, in the spare bedroom. Do ou need a glass of water? You must be tired of all that running.â Charlieâ s spirits seemed to brighten. â Please, please, water,â Charlie begged. H bout to drop to his knees and plead. â Sure thing. Follow me,â Jasper led Charlie down to the kitchen and retrieved a wa er bottle from the fridge that had hardly ever been used. Charlie took it willin gly and gulped it down. It was gone in less than a minute. He set it down on the counter. â Thanks,â he pressed his right hand against his temple. â Sure thing, Chief Swan. Follow me, I will show you to Dr. Carlisle.â Alice saw Charlie walking down the hall, and she met him at the doorway. â Good afternoon, Chief Swan. Would you like to see Dr. Cullen?â She read my mind, Charlie thought to himself. â Yes, I would love to see Dr. Cul len.â Dr. Carlisle was waiting for Charlie to enter the room. Charlie did not hav e a chance to speak before, â Good afternoon, Chief Swan.â Charlie was still worn out from the running to their house. His breath came out in gasping croaks. â I have to talk to you. Itâ s about . . .â â Yes, I know,â Dr. Carlisle closed his eyes and shook his head. â I was just at t ital this morning. I know she is in critical condition . . .â â Wait, sheâ s in critical condition?â Charlie looked like he was about to collaps e floor. Alice quickly pulled up a chair for him. He sat down in the chair. â Thank you.â Alice nodded her head. â Yes, she is in critical condition. I also read that . . . it was like . . . an

imaginary figure was beating her. Two broken arms. Several teeth missing. A leg that needs to be amputated. Several cracked ribs. Is that enough information fo r you?â Dr. Carlisle asked, leaving out as much sarcasm as he possibly could. Charli e didnâ t seem to notice. â Yep . . . thatâ s pretty critical. Oh my God. How many times has she encountered a life-threatening situation and lived through it?â Dr. Carlisle parted his lips. â I have treated over five situations with Bella, but none of them can compare to this one. Not by and long-shot. Even adding them all together cannot knock it off the scale,â he sighed. There was a long moment of silence. â Well, what do we do now?â Alice asked as calm y as possible. â We have to somehow figure out how someone could beat her without showing their physical being. The odds are inexplicable,â Esme said. â Hold on a minute,â Jasper had taken a seat at the spare computer across the room. He seemed to be in a huge rush, and his fingers were moving rapidly. Everyone to ok that as chance to run over ad observe Jasperâ s whereabouts. â What are you doing?â Charlie leaned in closer to the computer screen. Jasper had opped up the Internet Explorer link, and was typing in an I.P. address. www.omgijustsawaghost.com â What the hell?â Charlie muttered. â What kind of website is that?â â Itâ s a website that a bunch of scientists pulled together using background knowle ge about ghosts.â â Like what?â â Oh, just look.â â But whatâ s this got to do with anything?â â Are you deaf? I said, just look.â Charlie was astounded. â Now, is that any way to talk to an officer of the law? A chief, for that matter?â Jasper sighed. â I am sorry, Chief Swan. But please, jut look. This website give s almost anything you could want to know about what happened to Bella. I mean, t he ghost matter, and all. See?â Jasper pointed to the right corner of the computer s creen. â Click on the link, Mysterious Ghost Attacks. Jasper double-clicked on the l ink directing to the mysterious ghost attacks link. â See?â he pointed to the synopsis o the report below the web page. â Read this.â For years, no one believed in these mythical creatures, ghosts. When the ca se of a mysterious ghost attack arouse, the theory of ghosts came into place. Bu t it was soon denied, and theories like so blew away. But the question still rem ains: are there ghosts around us? Ghosts are not always as visible as a regular human being, but they are, for the most part, bluntly visible. The area gets cold when there are ghosts around. T he temperature drops almost thirty degrees Fahrenheit. The presence of an unknow n individual is felt between others in the room. A good way to tell if there are ghosts around is to reach out. If you feel sudden gusts of wind when no fans ar e in play, and no doors are open to produce such a gust of wind, then there is a high possibility of paranormal activity. â Are you serious?â Charlie was disgusted. â Thatâ s it?â Esme frowned. â Well, yes, unless you have any information to deposit yourself, then thatâ s it. Do you have anything to add to the subject?â Charlie shook his head. â Sorry to change the subject, but whereâ s Edward? You know Bellaâ s little boyfriend . . . ?â â Yes, we know exactly who Edward is, and no, we have no idea where he is. We ha venâ t seen a trace of him since he dropped Bella off last night.â â Oh, and one more thing, speaking of when he dropped Bella off last night, when she walked inside, I asked where Edward was, and she said â Edward, whoâ s Edward?â I id, â You know, Edward Cullen, boyfriend, pale guy from school.â The she proceeded to sa that she had no idea who Edward was. Then that was when she was attacked.â â Thatâ s peculiar. How often does something like that happen?â Emmett shook his h was right. What were the odds? What were the chances of something, supposedly s ome imaginary being, attacking an innocent seventeen year old senior? What did s he do? Thatâ s right. Nothing.

â I honestly have no idea. An imaginary being? Thatâ s just not possible.â Dr. Carlisle was always on his back. â No. Youâ re wrong. Itâ s possible. Not likel ainly not likely, but itâ s possible.â â We have to figure this out.â Carlisle took a step forward. â Come with me.â

I should have known they would be off to my hospital room. Where else would Carlisle take them at such short notice? â Dr. Cullen, what is this about? What can you do in order to find out what happ ened to my only daughter?â â Research. Technology,â Dr. Carlisle leans in on me. He removes a hair from my del cate scalp. â What are you doing? And how is that going to help us figure out what happened to Bella?â Charlie demanded. He wasnâ t very good at the whole research thing, so he did now what to expect from the research. â Just go along with it, okay?â he took a blood sample by extracting it through a v le connected to a needle. â Just one more thing . . â Dr. Carlisle paused. â What is it now? What do you need?â Esme leaned in closer. â I need a DNA sample . . .â â Arenâ t the blood and hair sample enough? What else do you need?â Charlie asked. eâ s really inexperienced in this kind of thing. Maybe he should have gotten an educa tion in the medical department, Dr. Carlisle thought to himself. â It is important to have at least three DNA samples in order to back up one res ult. The most common ones used nowadays are the blood sample, the hair sample, t he . . . thatâ s it!â Dr. Carlisle pointed to Emmett. â Please grab me a toothpick.â n thirty seconds. â Sorry I took so long. Iâ ve never had to locate a toothpick in a hospital before. hey use needles and thread, not toothpicks,â Emmett handed it to him. â Itâ s okay, son. I have never had to locate one, either. I am used to using needle and thread, obviously not toothpicks.â Dr. Carlisle popped my mouth open. â What are you doing to her?â Charlie questioned. He should have been able to guess now.

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