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Chapter 9 I ushered Bella through the crowds of Sea-Tac airport, one arm wound around her waist, the other grasping the cases. It registered dimly that I should have used a luggage trolley, but I was past caring about the human façade now. We had spent the flights home in uncomfortable silence as I tried to read her face for any signs as to how she felt, but she had determinedly avoided my gaze. I assumed she was beyond fear for her life and beyond fury at me for endangering her in this way. I was stuck in a pit of despair; angry at my ignorance, angry at my selfishness and worst of all, utterly terrified for the woman I loved beyond all else in this world. I heard them before I saw them; our family waiting anxiously for our arrival. My father was running over his plan for immediate action in his head, my mother’s nerves were stretched taut. Poor, poor dears. They must be so afraid, she worried. Alice was screaming internally. I just can’t see!! However, it was Rosalie’s thoughts which were the loudest. There was both a flavour of excitement and anxiety to them as we came into view, and an image swam before her eyes of her cooing over a cherubic baby in her arms. Even then, nothing clicked into place. Bella turned to me and finally met my gaze. I had become so used to reading her expressions, but I could still not believe what I saw. In her soft, chocolate eyes there was fear but there something else; a look that seemed to plead with me for understanding. With a squeeze of my hand she released herself from my grasp and ran straight into Rosalie’s outstretched arms. Rosalie’s. We all stood like statues. In that second I realized I had been totally and utterly wrong. Bella wasn’t scared for her life; she was scared for whatever was growing inside of her, and she had turned to the one person who would be guaranteed to support her.
*** The next week passed in a blur. I only really focused when Carlisle came with me to talk to Bella, trying anything to persuade her to let us operate. “Bella, we need to get the...fetus out of you. I’m sorry, it’s too dangerous...” he attempted to reason with her. She clutched her bloated stomach as if protecting it from hearing such words. “No! I won’t let you!” she gasped. “Rose...”
Rosalie growled loudly, her lips pulling back to reveal her gleaming, razor-sharp teeth. “You dare come anywhere near us, Carlisle!” she hissed. “Bella, you can’t survive this!” I cried. “I can!” She gritted her teeth, eyes flitting from me to Carlisle. “Of course, I don’t expect to survive human...But I’m strong enough,” she added in a low murmur. “We’ve got to get it out!” “No!” she shouted, still protecting her stomach. Esme put her arms around my shoulders as I slumped forward. I felt truly weak for once, like I was about to crumble into pieces. A whimper of pain escaped my lips as Carlisle’s further attempts to persuade her fell on stony ground. I didn’t register further conversations, or even thoughts; though I was sure there was an abundance of both somewhere in the background. I tried to block everything I saw and heard, sitting on the spiral staircase with my head resting in my hands. Rosalie hovered protectively over Bella, who lay on the pale-coloured sofa in the centre of the open lounge drifting in and out of sleep between being violently sick, and attempting to comfort me. “It’s going to be ok, Edward,” she’d whispered. But the stress was making her sicker by the day, especially my pain and the lie we told Charlie to keep him away; he believed she was sick with a South American disease and there was to be strictly no access. I had always tried to give Bella exactly what she wanted. “Anytime. Anything”. But now I was lost. How could I let her have what she wanted? I’d lose her. I knew what it was like to live without her; my wife, my soul mate, my whole world. And now that crushing grief, that unendurable agony, seemed to hover on the horizon mockingly once again. Edward? Son? My father’s hand touched my shoulder and my head snapped up. Edward, I need to talk to you. In my study. Son, I’m doing all I can, I promise. I nodded and followed, pausing only to kiss Bella’s forehead as she slept; Rosalie snarled at my proximity. “Carlisle, we have to do something,” I said urgently as I shut the door behind me, “We’ve got to get it out of her.” “You know Rosalie would never-,” he started, but I interrupted. “I don’t care what we have to do to Rosalie first!” I snarled, my hands curling into fists. “Let’s take care of her then anaesthetise Bella.” My Bella... Carlisle looked at me with his golden eyes full of sympathy. I would have done... He winced at the thought of using such tactics. But your mother’s siding with Rosalie and Bella, and you know Emmett would never allow us to hurt Rose. Besides, don’t you think we have to respect Bella’s view on this? “She’s wrong though...” My voice started to break at the blasphemy I felt in saying my wife was mistaken. “It’s not a baby in there... It’s a monster. Like me.” Son, you’re not a monster. You could never have anticipated such a thing...
But I didn’t want to be comforted. The self-loathing that ripped through me was excruciating and all I could think of was escaping. The uncertainty and anxiety that hung around the house like dense fog suffocated and choked me. I spun on my heel, flung the door open and flew down the stairs. Rosalie’s thoughts came at me incessantly. You’re not getting anywhere near this baby, do you understand me? A growl built up in her chest. Suddenly her mind became clouded, which made me pause. Rosalie had never been able to hide her thoughts from me as well as the others and this time was no different. Despite her best efforts, her focus slipped and the image of her cooing over an angelic baby came into my mind again. But this time there was a difference. This time, Bella’s lifeless body lay in the background. I moaned in agony as my knees buckled beneath me. Bella, oblivious to my entrance to the room, lifted her head. Rosalie’s mental image swam before me, branding itself like a searing hot iron into my mind. I shut my eyes and envisaged a healthy, radiant Bella staring back at me; her ivory skin blushing rose, her deep, chocolate eyes set off by her lustrous brown tresses.
I opened my eyes and stared at my wife. Bella’s face was a stark contrast to the one I’d seen behind my eyelids. Her skin was even paler than usual, her heartshaped face covered in a light sheen of sweat, and her bones protruding from her cheeks. “Bella, love please-” Rosalie hovered over the back of the sofa, eyeing me warily. Don’t you dare come closer, Edward Cullen, or you’ll be reattaching your own arms, she thought menacingly. I went back to the stair I had occupied and sank down. Alice came to sit next to me, her pixie-like face full of concern, and tried desperately to see something. Jasper was trying feelings of calm over the tense room, but for once, it had no effect on me. The tense atmosphere was taking its toll on Jasper and he paced up and down nervously. Bella’s eyes flickered shut once again. Emmett turned the TV down until it was barely audible, determined to keep quiet as to not wake Bella. “How is sh-?” I began in a hushed voice, but stopped myself short. It was a stupid question. She’s not keeping anything down, Edward, Carlisle thought apologetically as he appeared at the top of the stairs. I nodded curtly; her protruding cheekbones were testament to that. Watching my Bella sleep from a distance, I detested myself and the creation growing inside her for causing her pain, and I was furious with Rosalie for her one track mind. The baby, the baby, the baby. She didn’t care about my Bella; she wouldn’t care if she died... I wasn’t the only one who felt ready to literally rip Rosalie’s head off; Alice was fast running out of patience with her least favourite sister. All the time, a conflict was raging inside of me; I couldn’t reconcile my feelings of anger with my feelings of helplessness. I’d always sworn I’d be her protector;
now her life was endangered by something I’d created, and there was nothing I could do about it. I couldn’t sit back and do nothing; I felt utterly useless. There must be a way to save her... I’d sworn to always put her needs first. What if a baby was what she needed? My angel, my midnight sun, the one to wake me from my slumber in the depths of inhumanity and bring me to life again. She should be able to have everything she needed. It was a mistake for her to have chosen me; she should have chosen Jacob instead. “...Considering all the things I could do with her that you can’t. At least, not without killing her, that is.” His words rang through my head at a deafening volume and with crystal clear clarity. Maybe Jacob was the answer... maybe Bella would accept something less drastic than this to have a baby... After an hour or so, Bella started to stir. “Bella, love-” I began, but Rosalie growled to cut me off. “How do you feel, sweetie?” She asked in a sugar-coated voice. It made me want to retch. Before Bella could answer, she tried to pull herself upright, with a hand over her mouth. Rosalie swiftly passed her the bowl into which Bella vomited. “I’m fine,” she said weakly, slumping back. I groaned in agony at seeing my Bella suffer. My frozen heart felt like it was shattering into a million pieces. “Bella,” Carlisle began softly, “I need you to tell me exactly how you feel. Don’t downplay anything; it doesn’t help me treat you.” “Well, I feel nauseous... but you probably all gathered that,” she grinned weakly, her cheeks turning slightly pink in her blush, curling up in a loose fetal position, arms around her knees. I only had to look at her to see how fast she was deteriorating. Dark circles had formed under her eyes, her cheekbones jutted out from her heart-shaped face, her wedding band was loose, and her stomach was expansive. I was speared to the spot in pain. I couldn’t lose her again. I wouldn’t. There must be a way to save her... I got up and turned to stare out the window. The figure staring back at me was a stranger; his features were contorted in grief and sheer agony, his onyx eyes burning furiously with dark purple shadows beneath them. The thirst didn’t register; no physical urge was strong enough for me to leave Bella’s side.
I suddenly heard a loud, internal monologue that emanated from no-one in the room, and yet I was familiar with the voice. Bloodsucker can probably hear me now. He’ll want to fight me alone. I’ll challenge him to a duel; he’d probably get a kick out of the theatrics. “Jacob’s on his way in everyone,” I stated, halfrelieved he’d come to find me. If anyone could make Bella see sense, it was Jacob. Of course, I knew he was coming with the intention of killing me. Part of me jumped at the idea; but I wouldn’t leave Bella here alone. The already stressed atmosphere in the room increased as we all gathered around the sofa where Bella lay, and heard a motorcycle engine stop abruptly.
“Filthy mutt, what does he want?” Rosalie muttered angrily. I pointedly ignored her. “Shall we pretend we’re not in?” Carlisle asked me. “Too late, he knows we’re here.” I replied swiftly. Carlisle nodded and proceeded to open the door, standing in the frame as Jacob reached him. “Hello, Jacob,” he greeted him calmly, “How are you?” Jacob paused to take a deep breath. “I heard Bella made it back alive,” he stated sceptically. Carlisle paused. “Er, Jacob, it’s not really the best time...Could we do this later?” Jacob stared at him, taken aback. He wants to postpone the death match for a more convenient time? Rosalie was glaring daggers in Jacob’s direction. “We should not tell that dog anything!” Bella tried to straighten up, but she was too weak. “Why not?” she asked in a hoarse, cracked voice. “Are we keeping secrets from Jacob, too? What’s the point?” I sighed, half relieved, half exasperated. “Come in, please, Jacob,” Bella invited more loudly. Jacob looked in the direction of Bella’s voice. “Excuse me,” he said, stepping around Carlisle and moving with his back to the wall, casting a cautious glance over the room. I didn’t bother looking up at him. I kept my eyes firmly on Bella’s weak form, the immense pain searing through me worse than a white hot poker, my hands curled into tight claws I felt Jacob’s eyes move from me to Bella. What the-? She really is sick! As Rosalie hovered protectively over Bella, Jacob slowly processed this. But she doesn’t like Rosalie... No, more than that, she’s afraid of Rosalie...Or she was. Bella turned a light shade green and Rosalie grabbed the bowl for Bella to throw up in. I fell to my knees at her side, Rosalie pushing her hand out to hold me back. Don’t you dare, she warned. I was beyond furious with Rosalie; Bella was my wife. Bella smiled weakly at Jacob and whispered, “Sorry about that.” Always apologising for things that weren’t her fault. I moaned in pain, slumping my head to Bella’s knees, and she placed a hand gently against my cheek in comfort. Jacob moved towards Bella in a stupor. A hiss escaped Rosalie’s teeth and she moved between him and Bella. “Rose, don’t,” Bella whispered pleadingly. “It’s fine.” Rosalie was reluctant, but moved to Bella’s head, coiled ready to pounce should the need arise. “Bella, what’s wrong?” Jacob asked softly, kneeling opposite me and seizing Bella’s other hand in both of his. I kept my eyes locked on Bella. “Are you all right?” he asked, but she didn’t answer.
“I’m so glad you came to see me today, Jacob,” she said lightly. I didn’t need to hear her thoughts to finish that sentence off... because I won’t be here for much longer. I groaned into the blanket covering her body. “What is it, Bella?” Jacob asked. She was silent, and then glanced around the room until her eyes found Rosalie. “Help me up, Rose?” Rosalie’s lips pulled back in a snarl. I want to kill that mutt. If he does anything, I’ll tear his throat out. “Please, Rose,” Bella pleaded. I was as still as a statue as Rosalie moved her arm behind my Bella’s shoulders preparing to lift her up. “No. Don’t get up...” Jacob whispered, scared for the frail form before him. “I’m answering your question,” she retorted with a snap. Rosalie pulled Bella off the sofa, the blanket falling down to reveal her swollen torso contrasting with her painfully thin limbs. Bella placed a tender hand on top and below her ballooning stomach maternally. Jacob’s internal monologue was one of utter horror. No. She can’t be pregnant. Not that pregnant... But she is. I don’t want to see this... Him inside her... Ugh no! This is sick. Whatever’s inside her is feeding from Bella... Because it’s a monster. Just like it’s father. I always knew he’d kill her. My head snapped up. He was right, completely right, of course. It was all my fault. Self-loathing raged inside me with such a force it threatened to crush me completely. I stood up and snarled at him, “Outside, Jacob.” He rose to his feet. Excellent. This is why I’m here. ”Let’s do this,” he agreed. Emmett and Jasper immediately flanked me. Yes! Let’s take him, Emmett thought eagerly. Got your back, bro. “No,” Bella gasped, falling forward to clutch my arm, Rosalie moving with her in synchronisation. “I just need to talk to him Bella,” I explained to her, reaching to stroke her worried face. Damn, Emmett’s mood sank, but he didn’t move. Jacob’s anger rose, but I ignored it all. I focused solely on my wife. “Don’t strain yourself,” I pleaded. “Please rest. We’ll both be back in just a few minutes.” Bella stared at me, carefully reading my face as I stroked hers. Finally she nodded, and sank back down on the sofa with Rosalie’s aid. Bella turned her face to Jacob. “Behave,” she ordered, “And then come back.” He stayed silent. I’m promising nothing. I walked out the front door, sensing Jacob following me. I knew distantly that I shouldn’t turn my back on my enemy, but I didn’t react to the instinct. Well,
separating him from his coven was easy, Jacob thought. I’ll have to decide very quickly when to attack. “I’m not ready for you to kill me yet, Jacob Black,” I whispered as I strode away from the house. “You’ll have to have a little patience.” Like I care about your schedule, bloodsucker. “Patience isn’t my speciality,” he growled. I could sense Jacob tremble and the waves of heat roll off him; he was preparing to phase at a second’s notice. I stopped abruptly and turned to face him. I could see myself through his eyes; he froze at the apparent agony contorting my features, my eyes out of focus. In that instant I wished I could pull my own thick, icy skin away, tear myself to pieces; anything to escape this torture. “It’s killing her, right? She’s dying?” Jacob’s face became a mask of horror that weakly resembled my own and I vaguely picked up the train of his thoughts. This isn’t happening. I can’t get my head around it. I’ve already lost her so many times in my head... But she’s never been mine to lose. And this isn’t my fault. “My fault,” I murmured, and I sank to my knees. I stared at the dirt beneath me as the torturing words escaped my lips. “Yes, yes it’s killing her.” Damn, he’s the easiest target. I want a fight not an execution. Where’s his smug superiority now? “So why hasn’t Carlisle done anything?” Jacob growled. “He’s a doctor, right? Get it out of her.” So Jacob shared my sentiments. “She won’t let us,” I explained wearily. Jeez she’s running true to form. Of course, die for the monster spawn. It’s so Bella. “You know her well,” I observed. “How quickly you see... I didn’t see. Not in time. She wouldn’t talk to me on the way home. Not really. I thought she was frightened, that would be natural. I thought she was angry with me for putting her through this, for endangering her life. Again. I never imagined what she was really thinking, what she was resolving. Not until my family met us at the airport and she ran right into Rosalie’s arms. Rosalie’s! And then I heard what Rosalie was thinking. I didn’t understand until I heard that. Yet you understand after one second...” I sighed. “Just back up a second. She won’t let you,” he spat sarcastically. “Did you ever notice that she’s exactly as strong as a normal hundred-and-ten-pound human girl? How stupid are you vamps? Hold her down and knock her out with drugs.” “I wanted to,” I replied. “Carlisle would have...” Too noble? “No. Not noble. Her bodyguard complicated things.” I stated bitterly. Oh. The blonde. What’s in it for her? Does the beauty queen want Bella to die so badly?
“Maybe,” I said, pain tearing through me at the thought. “Rosalie doesn’t look at it quite that way.” I suppose that was one way of putting it. “So take the blonde out first. Your kind can be put back together, right? Turn her into a jigsaw then take care of Bella.” “Emmett and Esme are backing her up. Emmett would never let us...and Carlisle won’t help me with Esme against it...” My voice disappeared. “You should have left Bella with me,” Jacob stated. “Yes,” I agreed, confirming my earlier thoughts. Bit late. Should have thought of that before you knocked her up with the life-sucking monster. I couldn’t disagree with him. I just stared as his words ran through me like sharp blades. “We didn’t know,’ I tried to explain in a hushed tone. “I never dreamed. There’s never been anything like Bella and I before. How could we know that a human was able to conceive a child with one of us-” “When the human should get ripped to shreds in the process?” Jacob snapped. “Yes. They’re out there, the sadistic ones, the incubus, the succubus. They exist. But the seduction is merely a prelude to the feast. No-one survives,” I shook my head, disgusted at the thought. Like you’re any different. “I didn’t realize they had a special name for what you are,” he spat. I simply stared back out of my unfocused, burning eyes full of self-hatred. “Even you, Jacob Black, cannot hate me as much as I hate myself. Wrong, he thought in his rage. “Killing me now doesn’t save her,” I whispered. “So what does?” “Jacob, you have to do something for me.” “The hell I do, parasite!” “For her?” I pleaded. He clenched his teeth together. “I did everything I could to keep her away from you. Every single thing. It’s too late.” “You know her, Jacob. You connect with her on a level that I don’t even understand. You are part of her, and she is part of you. She won’t listen to me, because she thinks I’m underestimating her. She thinks she’s strong enough for this...” I choked. “She might listen to you.” “Why would she?” I staggered to my feet. I saw my eyes through Jacob’s mind; they were wild now. Can vampires lose their minds? He thought rhetorically. “Maybe,” I answered. “I don’t know. It feels like it. I have to try to hide this in front of her because stress
makes her more ill. She can’t keep anything down as it is. I have to be composed; I can’t make it harder. But that doesn’t matter now. She has to listen to you!” “I can’t tell her anything you haven’t. What do you want me to do? Tell her she’s stupid? She probably already knows that. Tell her that she’s going to die? I bet she knows that, too.” “You can offer her what she wants.” I replied, voicing my earlier idea. What?! Part of the crazy? He asked himself. I focused, knowing exactly what I wanted more than anything else in the world. “I don’t care about anything but keeping her alive. If it’s a child she wants, she can have it. She can have half a dozen babies. Anything she wants,” I paused getting ready to say the next words, knowing the agony they would cause me but prepared to do anything to keep Bella alive. “She can have puppies, if that’s what it takes.” I stared at him watching as my words dawned on him. His jaw dropped in shock. “But not this way!” I hissed, “Not this thing that’s sucking the life from her while I stand there helpless! Watching her sicken and waste away. Seeing it hurting her.” I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. “You have to make her see reason, Jacob. She won’t listen to me anymore. Rosalie’s always there, feeding her insanityencouraging her. Protecting her. No, protecting it. Bella’s life means nothing to her.” I felt another surge of hatred towards my sister. What?! Bella should have a baby? With me? Is he giving her up? Or does he think she wouldn’t mind being shared? “Whichever. Whatever keeps her alive,” I stated honestly. “That’s the craziest thing you’ve said yet.” “She loves you,” I said, feeling the tear in my heart. “Not enough.” “She’s ready to die to have a child. Maybe she’d accept something less extreme.” “Don’t you know her at all?” “I know, I know. It’s going to take a lot of convincing. That’s why I need you. You know how she thinks. Make her see sense.” I caught flickers of Jacob’s thoughts. Wrong. Sick. Mental images of him and Bella flowed... I flinched. Bella in his arms, sighing his name...Bella round with his child, not distorted like she was with mine. The self-disgust roared loudly inside me as he cut off his thoughts. “Make Bella see sense? What universe do you live in?” “At least try,” I pleaded. He shook his head, but I heard the conflict raging inside. “Where is this psycho crap coming from? Are you making this up as you go?”
I sighed. “I’ve been thinking of nothing but ways to save her since I realized what I was planning to do. What she would die to do. But I didn’t know how to contact you. I knew you wouldn’t listen if I called. I would have come to find you soon, if you hadn’t come today. But it’s hard to leave her, even for a few minutes. Her condition...it changes so fast. The thing is...growing. Swiftly. I can’t be away from her now.” “What is it?” “None of us have any idea. But it is stronger than she is. Already. Help me stop it,’ I whispered. “Help me stop this from happening.” “How? By offering my stud services?” He flinched at his words, but I was past caring. “You’re really sick. She’ll never listen to this.” “Try. There’s nothing to lose now. How will it hurt?” It’ll hurt me. Haven’t I taken enough rejection from Bella without this?, Jacob thought. “A little pain to save her? Is it such a high cost?” “But it won’t work,” he sighed. “Maybe not. Maybe it will confuse her, though. Maybe she’ll falter in her resolve. One moment of doubt is all I need.” Yes, just a moment... I had to believe that. “And then you pull the rug out from under the offer? ‘Just kidding Bella’?” “If she wants a child, that’s what she gets. I won’t rescind,’ I said honestly. Just as long as she’s alive... I should just kill him now. “Not now,” I whispered. “Not yet. Right or wrong, it would destroy her, and you know it. No need to be hasty. If she won’t listen to you, you’ll get your chance. The moment Bella’s heart stops beating, I will be begging for you to kill me.” “You won’t have to beg long,” he retorted. My mouth twitched into the hint of a tired smile. “I’m very much counting on that.” “Then we have a deal,” I said, stretching my cold, white hand out in offer. His russet-coloured fingers closed around mine. “We have a deal.”
Chapter 10. I strolled back to the white house, Jacob following close behind. His conflicted mind was racing, but I didn’t comment on his thoughts. I wanted to get back to
Bella. I’d made sure we were out of earshot from my family, and their eyes were wary and confused as we walked through the front door. I walked to the middle of the group, Bella’s eyes anxiously on my face. They flickered to Jacob then back to me; I watched in angst as her face grew greyish pale with the stress. “We’re going to let Jacob and Bella speak privately,” I stated robotically. “Over my pile of ashes,” Rosalie hissed at me. Now that would be a delight, Alice thought scathingly, shooting her sister a murderous glare. I ignored Rosalie, and looked into Bella’s eyes. ‘Bella, Jacob wants to talk to you. Are you afraid to be alone with him?” I asked flatly. She looked at Jacob, confused, and then turned to Rosalie. “Rose, it’s fine. Jake’s not going to hurt us. Go with Edward.” “It might be a trick,” Rosalie said warily. “I don’t see how.” I turned my attention to Rosalie. “Carlisle and I will always be in your sight, Rosalie,” my voice cracking with my fury. “We’re the ones she’s afraid of.” “No,’ Bella murmured, her eyes swimming with tears, glistening on the ends of her long lashes. “No, Edward. I’m not...” I shook my head, turning the corners of my mouth up ever so slightly. It was painful. “I didn’t mean it that way, Bella. I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.” I gestured toward the door. “Everyone, please.” I could see the pity in their eyes as the cracks in my façade started to appear. Esme rubbed my arm as they departed; only Rosalie hesitated. “Rose, I want you to go,” Bella whispered. Rosalie glowered at me, gesturing for me to leave first. I sighed, and exited the house with Rosalie at my heels until we joined the rest of our family in the shadows of the forest, where we would be unable to hear Jacob and Bella’s conversation. It needed to be private. “I don’t like this. I don’t like this one bit!” Rosalie snarled at me, her fingers twitching into claws. “Oh give it a rest, Rose!” Alice snapped. “We all know why you’re doing this!” “Hey, don’t get at her-” Emmett started moving forward; Jasper growled, curling protectively around Alice’s tiny form. “That’s enough!” Carlisle shouted. He hated raising his voice. “Now this is a very tough time for everyone, but we’ve got to focus on Bella, and not start tearing into each other.” He sighed. “Rose, I’m going to suggest an IV drip and monitors to Bella. What’s your view?” “You’re not sticking any needles in that girl!”
“Rose, the baby and Bella are lacking sustenance. They won’t survive much longer if I can’t get some fluids into her.” We all stood in silence for several minutes; Esme muffling sobs with her hands. She was terrified at the prospect of losing her daughter and her grandchild. Rosalie pursed her lips like she would very much like to argue but said nothing. If it helps the baby...she thought. A growl ripped out of my chest. Just then we saw Jacob storm out the house and take off into the woods in the opposite direction. I knew then his attempt to reason with Bella had been fruitless. I ran back at full speed. Rosalie was trying to beat me but she stood no chance; I was the fastest in our family. I found Bella lying ashen-faced on the sofa, silent tears trickling down her cheek. I knelt down and wiped them away with my cold fingertips. Rosalie wasn’t far behind. “What the hell did that dog say?!” She asked, outraged to see Bella crying. She tried to push me out the way but once again I just ignored her. “Bella, love, please don’t stress yourself-” I pleaded. “Edward, I’m so sorry!” she cried. She wasn’t even mad at me for my suggestion to Jacob; she was scared for what this was doing to me. My heart was plunging that my last hope had failed, but I wouldn’t show her. “Shh,” I soothed, and she nestled her thin face into my palm. What did you tell that dog to say, Edward?! Rosalie glared at me murderously. As was fast becoming a habit, I ignored her. “It’s not about a baby,” Bella continued, “It’s this baby. I love him. I can’t hurt him.” When would she realise this wasn’t a sweet child worth cooing over and protecting? That it was a monster, just like me? I didn’t want to argue and stress her more; so I just stayed silent. I listened to her heartbeat, the most vital, unique sound in the world to me; it was definitely growing weaker. Carlisle seemed to have noticed as well. “Bella, I need to monitor you more carefully. You’re getting dangerously dehydrated and malnourished. Am I allowed to attach some tubes and an IV to you?” She looked to Rosalie, who still didn’t seem impressed, but Bella finally nodded. Jasper, Emmett, Esme and Alice spent the rest of the afternoon dragging the furniture out of the way to make room for the hospital equipment that Carlisle acquired from the hospital, including a vast blood supply, should she need a transfusion. I stayed next to Bella, holding her hand and staring into her chocolate brown eyes, brushing her limp hair from her face. Rosalie refused to relax her protective stance. When Carlisle returned, he set up the equipment quickly and he attached an IV full of viscous, white liquid into Bella’s arm. As she lay on the hospital bed, I stared at my wife’s chalky pallor, her almost waxy skin, listening her irregular heartbeat and shallow breaths. She was strapped up to various monitors, with tubes sticking out of her. I couldn’t believe that less than
a month ago we had celebrated our fairytale wedding in this very room, and now my bride lay dying in front of my eyes. When Carlisle had done all he could, he and Esme left to hunt. I was leaning over the rail on Bella’s left, watching her sleep, when I heard two minds that didn’t belong to anyone in the house; yet were, again, familiar to me. Edward? Edward, you there? Okay, now I feel kinda stupid. You sound stupid, too. Think he can hear us? I think so. Hey, Edward. If you can hear me- circle the wagons, bloodsucker. You’ve got a problem. I instantly jumped up and dashed out onto the porch, with Jasper and Emmett flanking me. Looking out into the darkness, I saw two wolves, one russet, the other sandy, break through the trees onto the lawn. “Jacob? Seth? What’s going on?” They let their minds run over the confrontation with Sam... Bella’s dappled stomach... my face twisted in agony... Rosalie hovering protectively... Not safe. Not right. Dangerous. Unnatural. Monstrous. An abomination. I hissed in fury and jumped off the porch. “They want to kill Bella?” I snarled. Jasper and Emmett, having missed the first part of the conversation leapt down next to me, moving on Jacob and Seth with their lips pulled back over their teeth. Seth backed away. “Em, Jazz-not them! The others. The pack is coming.” Jasper didn’t move his eyes from the two wolves. Emmett turned to me. “What’s their problem?” he demanded. “The same one as mine,” I hissed. “But they have their own plan to handle it. Get the others. Call Carlisle! He and Esme have to get back here now.” Damn, they are separated, Jacob whined. “They aren’t far,” I assured him. I’m going to take a look, Seth thought. Run the western perimeter. “Will you be in danger, Seth?” Don’t think so... I’m outta here. He darted into the trees. I stood facing Jacob, Emmett speaking rapidly to Carlisle on the phone. Alice came out to the porch. Is everything okay, Edward? I shook my head infinitesimally but gave no further explanation. “This isn’t the first time I’ve owed you my gratitude, Jacob,” I whispered. “I would never have asked for this from you.” Yeah, you would.
I thought about what I’d asked of him earlier, and then nodded. “I suppose you’re right about that.” Jacob sighed. Well, this isn’t the first time that I didn’t do it for you. “Right.” Sorry I didn’t do any good today. Told you she wouldn’t listen to me. “I know. I never really believed she would. But...” You had to try. I get it. She any better? I shut my eyes and took a breath through the pain. “Worse.” Alice, irked now by the one-sided conversation, stepped in. “Jacob, would you mind switching forms? I want to know what’s going on.” I shook my head. “He needs to stay linked to Seth.” “Then would you be so kind as to tell me what’s happening?” She asked, hands on her hips. “The pack thinks Bella’s become a problem,’ I started in an empty voice. “They foresee potential danger from the...from what she’s carrying. They feel it’s their duty to remove the danger. Jacob and Seth disbanded from the pack to warn us. The rest are planning on attacking tonight.” Alice hissed furiously as Emmett and Jasper cast glances into the trees. Emmett pressed the ‘end’ button on his cell, and said, “Carlisle and Esme are on their way. Twenty minutes, tops.” “We should take up a defensive position,” said Jasper, ever the strategist. “Let’s get inside,” I agreed. I’ll run perimeter with Seth. If I get too far for you to hear my head, listen for my howl, Jacob said. “I will,” I nodded. Alice, Jasper, Emmett and I backed into the house casting furtive glances all around us. Jasper began pacing up and down between the window and the spiral stair case, and Emmett went to tell Rosalie the news; she hissed so loudly she almost woke Bella up. Alice, while grateful for Jacob and Seth’s warning, sported a pout on her elfin features as our future mingled with that of the wolves and promptly disappeared. I sat holding Bella’s hand, which no longer radiated its usual warmth. I was watching her slipping away before my very eyes. I was able to keep the grief from crushing me completely when I was doing something proactive, so I rubbed my temple and concentrated on Jacob and Seth’s thoughts. Why’re you so down, Jake? I’ll bet Sam won’t bring the pack tonight. He’s not going to launch a suicide mission...
Carlisle and Esme came bursting through the door less than five minutes later, my father resting a reassuring hand on my shoulder. “We saw Seth. He said he and Jacob were running patrols?” Carlisle asked. I nodded in confirmation and went back to listening to Bella’s struggling heart. Carlisle detested violence more than anyone, so it was with a resigned sigh and a grimace that he turned to Jasper and said, “What do we do?” “The bad news,” he began, still pacing, “is that the wolves know our fighting tactics.” He cracked his knuckles against his palm in frustration. “Fortunately, however, we now outweigh them in numbers. Just. And, of course we have a great deal more skill and experience.” A delighted grin lit up Emmett’s face at the thought of an imminent fight with werewolves. “We can’t ask Jacob and Seth to fight against their brothers, Jasper!” Carlisle said exasperatedly. Excellent, thought Emmett, all the more for us. His grin grew wider, excitement leaping in his eyes. Jasper was about to argue when a deafening howl pierced the air. I darted back to the window. False alarm, false alarm, Jacob thought. Sorry. Seth is young. He forgets things. No one’s attacking. False alarm. He emerged out of the thick trees onto the lawn. There’s nothing out there-you got that? I nodded once and turned to look over my shoulder at Bella. Her heart faltered for a beat; I shuddered. I waved Jacob away absentmindedly and returned to her side. The others looked up at me, their faces tense and questioning. “It was a false alarm,” I explained. “Seth was upset about something else, and he forgot we were listening for a signal. He’s very young.” “Nice to have toddlers guarding the fort,” Emmett grumbled. “They’ve done us a great service tonight, Emmett,” Carlisle said, “At great personal sacrifice.” “Yeah, I know, I’m just jealous. Wish I was out there.” “Seth doesn’t think Sam will attack now,’ I interjected robotically. “Not with us forewarned, and lacking two members of the pack.” “What does Jacob think?” Carlisle asked. “He’s not as optimistic,” I replied. Carlisle nodded and walked over to us to observe Bella more closely. He tapped the IV with his finger. She’s just not absorbing anything... He reached down to feel her forehead. “Don’t touch her!” Rosalie whispered. “You’ll wake her up!” He sighed. How do they expect me to help if I can’t get near her? “Rosalie,” he murmured.
“Don’t start with me, Carlisle,” she snarled. “We let you have your way earlier, but that’s all we’re allowing.” Bella choked in her sleep and Rosalie and I rose to hover over her. Rosalie stroked her hand across Bella’s forehead. I stiffened as I watched. I was incensed, and my face contorted with all the grief, agony and pure anger coursing through my dried-up veins. Emmett jumped between Rosalie and me, holding his hands up. “Not tonight, Edward. We’ve got other things to worry about.” I turned away and met Jacob’s eyes peering through the glass at the scene of horror before him.
Dawn soon came bringing with it pale clouds of lavender. No attack materialised, but none of us relaxed either. After discussing it with Carlisle, I had managed to find a softer, more tactful way to explain to Bella that a pack of murderous wolves were intent on killing her and the new life growing in her womb. I had explained about Jacob and Seth disbanding from the pack, and promised her we would keep her safe. From the wolves, at least, I thought, wishing I could promise more. She was deteriorating. Fast. I watched her pant for breath, listened to her increasingly uneven heart, and saw her stomach turn a mottled black with bruising from the forceful kicks of the creation inside her. I forced myself not to scream, just like I had done in Volterra under Jane’s fiery glare, because I knew it would cause Bella pain. I’d gladly take that agony for all eternity just so Bella wouldn’t suffer. Jasper, Emmett and I gathered in Carlisle’s study, books piled high on his desk. “Boys, I need your help,” he began. “Edward, understandably, needs to be with Bella, but I need some help with research, and quickly. Anything we can find out could be vital in keeping Bella alive. We’ll start with the Lihisbomen and Ticuna indians-” He was interrupted by another howl piercing the air. I flew down the stairs with my father and brothers behind me, to see Seth waiting outside the window. Another false alarm. Sorry guys. It’s just Leah. She’s come to help. I nodded. Wow, you look bad, man. I didn’t acknowledge the thought; I just stared back without seeing, and returned to sit beside Bella, opposite Rosalie. Alice, Jasper and Emmett started discussing the research task in serious, hushed tones while Esme hummed tunelessly to herself upstairs, trying to keep busy. I heard Jacob phase into his human form and walk towards the house; Carlisle went to greet
him. Whispers of their conversation started to trickle through my trance-like state. “I’d say there’s an even chance at this point. I've seen vampire venom work miracles, but there are conditions that even venom cannot overcome. Her heart is working too hard now; if it should fail...there won’t be anything for me to do.” Carlisle told Jacob. My hands clenched into tight fists. “...I’m watching her- and not just her, but the fetus as well- starve to death by the hour. I can’t stop it and I can’t slow it down. I can’t figure out what it wants.” Probably just looking for something to sink its teeth into- a throat to suck dry, Jacob thought painfully. Of course, I thought as I took in Jacob’s words. It’s thirsty... Why has this not occurred to me before? I felt the tiniest flicker of hope inside me, which felt alien in my despair. I smoothed Bella’s hair that clung to her waxy, sallow face, and got to my feet. She stared into my eyes in confusion and weakly squeezed my hand. “I’ll be right back, Bella,” I promised. “I want to speak to Carlisle for a moment. Actually, Rosalie, would you mind accompanying me?” “What is it, Edward?” Bella croaked. “Nothing you need worry about, love. It will just take a second. Please, Rose?” “Esme? Can you mind Bella for me?” Esme flew down the stairs. “Of course,” she said and went to sit next to Bella, tenderly kissing her forehead. Rosalie followed me out to the porch step where Carlisle and Jacob were sitting. Her eyes were narrowed in suspicion as I shut the door behind us. “Carlisle,” I whispered. “What is it, Edward?” “Perhaps we’ve been going about this the wrong way. I was listening to you and Jacob just now, and when you were speaking of what the...fetus wants, Jacob had an interesting thought.” I did? “We haven’t actually addressed that angle,” I continued. “We’ve been trying to get Bella what she needs. And her body is accepting it about as well as one of ours would. Perhaps we should address the needs of the...fetus first. Maybe if we can satisfy it, we’ll be able to help her more effectively.” “I’m not following you, Edward,” Carlisle said. “Think about it, Carlisle. If that creature is more vampire than human, can’t you guess what it craves- what it’s not getting? Jacob did.”
I did? “Oh,” he said, as realization dawned on him. “You think it is...thirsty?” Rosalie hissed under her breath, her face lighting up like a child’s on Christmas morning. “Of course,” she murmured. “Carlisle, we have all that type O negative laid aside for Bella. It’s a good idea.” “Hmm.” Carlisle raised his hand to his chin, his thoughts racing. “I wonder... And then what would be the best way to administer...” “We don’t have time to be creative,” Rosalie snapped. “I’d say we should start with the traditional way.” “Wait a minute,” Jacob interrupted. “Just hold on. Are you- are you talking about making Bella drink blood?” “It was your idea, dog.” Rosalie scowled at him. I watched Carlisle’s face. I could see the faint flicker of hope that had been lit inside me, appear in his eyes. He pursed his lips. “That’s just...” Jacob trailed off. “Monstrous?” I offered. “Repulsive?” “Pretty much.” “But what if it helps her?” I whispered. “What are you gonna do, shove a tube down her throat?” he said angrily. “I plan to ask her what she thinks. I just wanted to run it past Carlisle first.” Rosalie nodded with excitement. “If you tell her it might help the baby, she’ll be willing to do anything. Even if we do have to feed them through a tube.” Blondie would be in line with anything that helped the little life-sucking monster. Is that what’s going on? Is she after the kid? Jacob questioned. I nodded infinitesimally, answering Jacob’s thoughts. Fury swelled within me towards my sister. Huh. Wouldn’t have thought ice-cold Barbie had a maternal side. So much for protecting Bella- Rosalie’d probably jam the tube down Bella’s throat herself. I pressed my lips into a hard line, again answering Jacob’s musings. “Well, we don’t have time to sit around discussing this,” Rosalie said impatiently. “What do you think Carlisle? Can we try?” Carlisle took a deep breath and stood up. “We’ll ask Bella.” Rosalie’s face was plastered with a smug smile, convinced she was about to get her way. We went back into the house, Bella eyeing us suspiciously as we flitted to her side.
“What’s going on?” she whispered in a painfully frail voice. She tried to place her hand over her expansive stomach. “Jacob had an idea that might help you,” Carlisle said. Leave me out of it, Jacob thought. Give the credit to her blood-sucking husband, where it belongs. “It won’t be...pleasant, but-” “But it will help the baby,” Rose interrupted fervently, her eyes lit up. “We’ve thought of a better way to feed him. Maybe.” Bella’s eyes fluttered gently and she gave a faint chortle. “Not pleasant?” she murmured, glancing at the tube in her arm. “Gosh, that’ll be such a change.” Rosalie laughed with her sycophantically. I had no inclination to laugh. I moved around Rosalie, taking Bella’s free hand in mine and looking her deep in the eyes. “Bella, love, we’re going to ask you to do something monstrous,” I started. “Repulsive.” “How bad?” she asked warily. “We think the fetus might have an appetite closer to ours than to yours,” Carlisle explained. “We think it’s thirsty.” She blinked for a second, and then understood. “Oh. Oh.” “Your condition-both your conditions- are deteriorating rapidly. We don’t have time to waste, to come up with more palatable ways to do this. The fastest way to test the theory-” “I’ve got to drink it,” she murmured, bobbing her head slightly in agreement. “I can do that. Practice for the future, right?” She looked at me, her pallid lips pulling up at the corners into a slight grin, but no humour touched me. Rosalie was growing impatient, tapping her designer shoe against the pale wooden floor rhythmically. I wonder what she’d do if I threw her against a wall, thought Jacob angrily. I’d be only too delighted to help him. “So, who’s going to catch me a grizzly bear?” Bella whispered with as much enthusiasm as she could. Carlisle and I glanced at each other conspiratorially. “What?” Bella asked, noticing our quick exchange. “It will be a more effective test if we don’t cut corners, Bella,” Carlisle said. I explained further; “If the fetus is craving blood, it’s not craving animal blood.” “It won’t make a difference to you Bella. Don’t think about it,” Rosalie enthused. As she took in what we were saying, Bella’s eyes grew wide with fear. “Who?” she breathed, her eyes flashing to Jacob.
“I’m not here as a donor, Bells. ’Side’s it’s human blood that thing’s after, and I don’t think mine applies-” “We have blood on hand,” Rosalie spoke over Jacob. “For you- just in case. Don’t worry about anything at all. It’s going to be fine. I have a good feeling about this, Bella. I think the baby will be so much better.” Bella stroked her stomach delicately. “Well,” she started; her voice scratchy and low. “I’m starving, so I’ll bet he is too. Let’s go for it. My first vampire act.”
Chapter 13 At Bella’s words, Carlisle and Rosalie flew upstairs, wondering whether or not the blood should be warmed up first. I stayed by Bella’s side, holding her hand and gazing into her exhausted eyes conveying my love for her. I love you so much. I could tell she was thinking the same. As I stared at my wife’s painfully frail form, the flicker of hope I had felt was extinguished inside me as Kaure’s last word echoed endlessly through my head; “morte”. Rosalie darted down the stairs into the kitchen, opening a cupboard door on the right, reaching for a transparent cup. “Not clear, Rosalie,” I whispered, rolling my eyes. I didn’t want Bella to have to think about what she was doing any more than was necessary. Bella looked at me curiously, but I just shook my head as Rosalie flitted back upstairs. Bella turned her gaze to Jacob. “This was your idea?” “Don’t blame me for this one. Your vampire was just picking snide comments out of my head.” She managed a faint smile. “I didn’t expect to see you again.” “Yeah, me, either.” “Edward told me what you had to do. I’m sorry.” “S’okay. It was probably only a matter of time till I snapped over something Sam wanted me to do,” he lied. “And Seth,” she murmured. “He’s actually happy to help.” “I hate causing you trouble.” Jacob barked a chuckle. Bella sighed. “I guess that’s nothing new, is it?” “No, not really.”
“You don’t have to stay and watch this,” she offered. “I don’t really have anywhere else to go. The whole wolf thing is a lot less appealing since Leah joined up.” “Leah?” she breathed in surprise. “You didn’t tell her?” he asked of me. I shrugged, keeping my eyes on Bella’s face. I hadn’t thought, in the scheme of things, that it was altogether important at the moment. “Why?” she gasped. “To keep an eye on Seth,” Jacob explained, keeping to the simplest version. “But Leah hates us,” Bella croaked. “Leah’s not going to bug anyone.” But me, he amended. “She’s in my pack, so she follows my lead.” He grimaced at the words; Jacob was uncomfortable with his new role. Bella still looked at him sceptically. “You’re scared of Leah,” he continued, “but your best buds with the psychopath blonde?” Rosalie hissed from upstairs. I’ll gladly show him a psychopath if he wants one, Rose thought. “Don’t.” Bella frowned. “Rose...understands.” “Yeah,” Jacob grumbled. “She understands that you’re gonna die and she doesn’t care, s’long as she gets her mutant spawn out of the deal.” “Stop being a jerk, Jacob,” she muttered. “You say that like it’s possible.” I could see Bella fighting back a smile, but her colourless lips twitched. Rosalie and Carlisle came back down the stairs, Carlisle clutching a white plastic cup with a lid and bendy straw. Carlisle started to reach towards Bella, and then paused. She was eyeing the cup warily. “We could try another method,” Carlisle said softly. “No,” Bella rasped. “No, I’ll try this first. We don’t have time...” She reached for the cup and took it in her hand, shaking a little. She tried to haul herself up and rest on her elbow, but it was too much effort for her in her frail condition. Rosalie put her arm beneath Bella’s shoulders and supported her head. “Thanks,” Bella whispered. Her eyes cast glances at all of us, feeling self-conscious about what she was about to do. Her cheeks remained ashen, though they would normally have been bright scarlet with the attention. “Don’t mind them,” Rosalie said. I could sense a tenor of awkwardness from Jacob’s thoughts. This must have been incredibly difficult to watch and it was testament of the love he felt for Bella that he stayed.
Bella raised the cup to her nose and inhaled. She flinched at the smell and winced. “Bella, sweetheart, we can find an easier way,” I said, holding my hand up to remove the cup. “Plug your nose,” Rosalie advised, staring at my outstretched hand like she would snap it off. “No, that’s not it. It’s just that it-” Bella breathed in deeply. “It smells good,” she confessed. “That’s a good thing,” Rosalie encouraged. “That means we’re on the right track. Give it a try.” Her face was the definition of excitement itself. She looked like she was about to jump up and down and clap with glee. Bella placed her mouth over the straw; her eyes shut tight and wrinkling her nose. She took a tentative sip and moaned. “Bella, love-” “I’m okay,” she insisted, opening her eyes to stare up at me, a pleading tone in her voice. “It tastes good, too.” “That’s good,” Rosalie enthused again. “A good sign.” I pressed my hand to her now hollow cheek, curving my fingers gently around the protruding bones. She nestled into my touch and sucked in a deep sip of blood. “How’s your stomach? Do you feel nauseated?” Carlisle enquired. “No, I don’t feel sick,” Bella murmured, shaking her head. “That’s a first, eh?” “Excellent,” Rosalie smiled, revealing her gleaming white teeth. “I think it’s a bit early for that, Rose,” Carlisle cautioned. Bella was swigging the blood down now. Suddenly she looked up at me. “Does this screw my total?” she asked. “Or do we start counting after I’m a vampire?” “No one is counting, Bella. In any case, no one died for this. Your record is still clean.” Huh? Thought Jacob. “I’ll explain later,” I said under my breath. “What?”Bella murmured. “Just talking to myself,” I lied. Seriously, if Bella lives, he’s not gonna get away with so much when her senses are as sharp as his. He’ll definitely have to work on the honesty thing. My lips tugged up at the corners. Bella turned her attention to stare absentmindedly out the window. Probably pretending I’m not here. No one else is disgusted. Just the oppositethey’re probably having a hard time not ripping the cup away from her. I rolled my eyes.
Jeez, how does anyone stand living with him? It’s too bad he can’t hear Bella’s thoughts. Then he’d annoy the crap out of her, too, and she’d get tired of him. I chuckled once. It felt strange, alien and painful on my face. Bella’s eyes fell on me and managed a weak smile at what she saw. After all, I hadn’t felt or shown any humour since Isle Esme... “Something funny?” Bella asked. “Jacob,” I replied. She turned her gaze to him. “Jake’s a crack-up,” she agreed. “Bada bing,” he muttered. Great, now I’m the court jester. Bella took the final gulp from the cup until she was sucking at air. “I did it,” she said. Everyone could hear the slight difference in her voice; it was stronger, still cracked, but louder. “If I keep this down, Carlisle, will you take the needles out of me?” “As soon as possible,” he swore. “Honestly, they aren’t doing that much good where they are.” Rosalie stroked Bella’s forehead while they glanced at each other hopefully. The first effects of the blood were immediate; her otherwise sallow cheeks had just a hint of rose returning to them, her breathing less laboured and her heartbeat more even. She wasn’t relying on Rosalie’s support as much as before; she was ever so slightly stronger. The flicker of hope that had been extinguished reignited into a full-blown flame. “Would you like more?” Rosalie asked. Bella’s shoulders fell, and I shot a furious glare at Rose for pushing Bella on this. “You don’t have to drink more right away,” I told her. “Yeah, I know. But...I want to,” she declared. Rosalie combed her perfect fingers through Bella’s flaccid hair. “You don’t need to be embarrassed about that, Bella. Your body has cravings. We all understand that,” she soothed. “Anyone who doesn’t understand shouldn’t be here,” she amended severely, obviously aimed at Jacob. He didn’t care. She really does look better, Edward, thought Carlisle. He reached for Bella’s cup. “I’ll be right back.” Bella stared at Jacob, taking in his exhausted appearance. “Jake, you look awful,” she observed. “Look who’s talking.” “Seriously- when’s the last time you slept?” “Huh. I’m not actually sure.” “Aw, Jake. Now I’m messing with your heath too. Don’t be stupid.” I heard him clench his teeth together. She’s allowed to kill herself for a monster, but I’m not allowed to miss a few nights sleep to watch her do it?
“Get some rest, please,” she pleaded. “There’re a few beds upstairs- you’re welcome to any of them.” No, you most certainly are not, thought Rosalie, but she didn’t say anything; she didn’t want to upset Bella. “Thanks, Bells, but I’d rather sleep on the ground. Away from the stench, you know.” “Right.” Carlisle came flying down the stairs, a fresh cup of blood in his hand. Bella reached out for it, seemingly unconsciously, and started gulping it down. She was improving in front of our eyes. She moved into a sitting position, her legs crossed and continued to stare out the window. Rosalie kept her hands in place should Bella slump but it was unnecessary. Soon, Bella had finished the second cup. “How do you feel now?” Carlisle asked. “Not sick. Sort of hungry...only I’m not sure if I’m hungry or thirsty, you know?” “Carlisle, just look at her,” Rosalie glowed. “This is obviously what her body wants. She should drink more.” “She’s still human, Rosalie. She needs food, too. Let’s give her a little while to see how this affects her, and then maybe we can try some food again. Does anything sound particularly good to you, Bella?” “Eggs,” she said without hesitation. We exchanged a knowing smile. I noticed Jacob’s eyes growing heavier. “Jacob, you really should sleep. As Bella said, you’re certainly welcome to the accommodations here, though you’d probably be more comfortable outside. Don’t worry about anything- I promise I’ll find you if there’s a need.” “Sure, sure,” he muttered whilst stifling a yawn. Now she looks a bit better, I can escape. Go curl up under a tree somewhere...Far enough away that the smell can’t reach me. The bloodsucker will wake me if something goes wrong. He owes me. “I do,” I concurred. He put his hand on Bella’s. “Feel better,” he wished her. “Thanks, Jacob.” “Get her a blanket or something,” he said as he turned for the door. Two howls suddenly pierced the air. “Dammit,” Jacob growled, pulling the door open and throwing himself off the porch, phasing in midair and destroying his shorts in the
process. I made a mental note to get him some more; Emmett’s would probably fit around him. What is it? Incoming, at least three, Seth answered. “Em, Jazz!” I called softly so as not to alarm Bella. They’d hear me. I heard the door of Carlisle’s study shut upstairs and they appeared beside me. Bella looked up at me with anxious eyes. “What’s happening, Edward?” “Nothing you need to worry about, sweetheart.” I reassured. While Emmett and Jasper stayed on alert, I tried to hear as much of the wolves conversation as possible. It transpired it was a peaceful visit by Jared, Quil, Paul and Collin to try and get Jacob, Seth and Leah to go home to La Push; something they weren’t prepared to do. As I relayed the majority of the conversation to my family, Bella pleaded with Carlisle to take the needles out and they struck a deal; she could be moved back to the sofa and he would remove most the tubes as long as she kept the IV in for now. Alice appeared from upstairs to help put the furniture back into position. She was delighted that Bella looked better, but her face was puckered, her lips mashed together in a hard line. I cocked an eyebrow at the unusual expression. Headache, was all she thought in response. Esme was particularly upset when I relayed the wolves saying: Homeless at the moment. “Son, would you tell Jacob they’re welcome to any facilities here? You said Leah doesn’t like to eat in her wolf form... And I just can’t bear to think of them as...homeless,” she choked. “Here are some clothes for Jacob.” She passed me a white-button down shirt and tan pants which I dutifully put on the porch. Thank you, Edward, she thought as I pecked her cheek. Once it was clear the danger had passed, Jasper, Emmett and Alice disappeared back upstairs and I went to sit on the end of the white sofa with Bella’s feet, wrapped in a blanket, in my lap. For the first time, I felt the crushing burden upon me decrease fractionally.
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