Solstice

Parting

Cold terror shot through my body, crumpling my happiness in an instant. I'd almost managed to completely forget about the Volturi.

"Let's take this outside," Uncle Emmett said quickly.

"Why?" I asked.

He nodded to Rob, who looked ready to take the Volturi on by himself. As soon as Uncle Emmett spoke, Rob and Ian simultaneously rushed to the door. I looked around quickly to make sure no one had noticed the rather unnatural speed with which they'd rushed. I searched each face carefully for astonishment or confusion. We were lucky yet again.

We were barely out of hearing range when Ian and Rob started snarling.

"Not this second," Aunt Alice said exasperatedly.

"Let them come," Rob growled menacingly.

"No," Adelaide said automatically. Her eyes weren't fearful, as one might have expected, but determined. "They'll kill us all. You know that."

"Who?" asked Uncle Emmett.

Ian and Rob looked at him with annoyance.

"When?" asked Uncle Jasper, ignoring him as he paced behind Aunt Alice, his eyes fixed on the ground.

"I…I don't know." Aunt Alice's gaze was vacant, her eyes tightened with concentration. "They haven't decided yet."

A second thrill of fear sent my heart into a frenzied, erratic rhythm. If they managed to catch us off-guard, we would not be as fortunate as we had been the last time they had decided that we had overstepped the boundaries of the law.

"Edward, call Carlisle," said Uncle Jasper tensely. "Tell him everything."

It took Dad a second to unfreeze enough to take out his phone. He walked stiffly back towards the banquet hall, his words coming faster than I even I could catch.

"Who's coming?" asked Uncle Emmett again.

"The Volturi," Rob said, his fists curling and uncurling.

"Tell us exactly what happened when the Volturi appeared at your home," Uncle Jasper said, pacing faster.

Rob spoke. "I was hunting in the mountains when they arrived at the house. Ade was about to join me when she found two of them in the house."

My mind flashed back to the day in the glade that we had come face-to-face with the garnet-eyed members of the Guard, Dario and Fabian.

"They said that they were taking us back to Volterra, where we would stand trial before Aro, Caius and Marcus," Adelaide said, her tone just as resolute as her expression.

That wouldn't have been a trial. That would have been an execution.

"I told them that that wasn't going to happen. They said that it was pointless to resist. Ian and Tara came then. He told them that we weren't going anywhere. They tried to attack us, but Tara had her shield up. Then Ian killed them."

"No he didn't," Aunt Alice moaned.

"Did you burn the pieces?" asked Uncle Jasper and Rob in unison, and hazarded quick glances at each other.

Ian looked from my uncle to his brother, confused. "Well, no…but I tore them apart."

"And then what?" Rob demanded, his eyes wide.

Ian frowned, still mystified. "I…I threw the pieces into the forest. Are you telling me that I didn't kill them?"

"Oh, Ian," Rob murmured, burying his face in his hand and turning his back to us for a moment.

"No," Uncle Jasper replied. "I'm afraid you didn't. The only way to kill a vampire is to burn the pieces. They probably healed themselves and then went right back to Volterra to inform Aro."

Ian's eyes went wide now. "What? Rob, I'm sorry. I didn't know. I honestly thought-"

"Shh," Tara said softly. "It's alright. There's nothing we can do about it now."

"Jasper's right, they regenerated and went straight to Aro," Aunt Alice said softly. "Aro and Caius have condemned you all." She looked at Adelaide, Rob, Ian and Tara mournfully.

"All of them?" I gasped. In the months that we'd spent with the Winters, they'd become part of our family, even more so than the Denalis. The Denalis had always been our extended family, our cousins. Rob, Adelaide, Ian and Tara had become like extra aunts and uncles, not to mention dear friends not just to me, but to everyone.

"Except for Tara."

Ian relaxed considerably.

"What?" asked Tara, her voice shooting up several octaves. She looked frantically at her sister, who looked both perplexed and relieved.

"When she repelled them with her shield, she caught Aro's interest," Aunt Alice said.

"Why?" Rob demanded.

"Aro has a fondness for talented immortals," Dad said as he rejoined our group. "He's been after Alice for the past seven years. Every member of his Guard has a gift."

"So now he wants Tara's shield," Ian said, chuckling humourlessly.

"But he doesn't know it's her yet," Aunt Alice explained. "He knows that one of you has a gift, but he does not yet know which one."

"It won't take him long to find out," Mom said grimly.

Silence fell for several moments. The song changed in the banquet hall several hundred metres away.

Ian spoke first. "So what do we do?"

"Fight," Rob said through his teeth.

"Yes!" Uncle Emmett said enthusiastically.

"No," Aunt Rose said, looking at him worriedly. "There has to be another way."

"Aw, come on, Blondie! The man had a good idea for once! At least let us use it," Jacob taunted.

Panic jolted me. "No, Jake!" I said automatically, cutting off whatever snappy retort Aunt Rose had been beginning to say. There was no way that I was letting him face the Volturi again, regardless of how many wolves he had to back him. "Absolutely not!"

"Ness, they'll be threatening every human on the continent if they bring the Guard here again," he tried to reason with me. But it would make no difference. There was no way I was going to let him clash with Aro. I knew that he would ultimately let me have my way, which I planned to use to my advantage.

"They aren't sending all of the Guard this time," Aunt Alice said. "Aro and Caius have decided to come, but they won't bring as many as before. Besides, you know full well that Carlisle would never agree to that."

"They're his friends, Jacob," Dad told him.

"Friends?" Jacob said with understandable disdain. "They tried to execute his entire family last time they were here! What kind of a friend is that?" He was right, again.

"A greedy one," Aunt Alice replied. "He values gifts much more than his friendships. But that does not mean that our only option is to fight them."

"I don't see an alternative."

"I do," Adelaide said. "This has nothing to do with any of you. He wouldn't even have bothered to come looking again if it weren't for me."

I suddenly recalled what Ian had said about Adelaide's habit of perpetually taking the blame for everything upon herself.

"For us," Tara corrected. "When are you going to realize that we're in this together?"

"We're not," Adelaide hissed back. "You didn't do William's bidding, I did. For more than two hundred years."

"Adelaide, there's no sense in –" Dad began to say.

"No, Edward," she said, cutting him off. "The crimes are mine, and mine alone. I will not allow any of you to fight and die for me. I will go to Italy and end this."

"No you will not," Rob said, his voice dangerously calm.

"This is not your decision," she snapped at him. "For once I have the chance to do the right thing, and I will take it."

"Ade, we've all been implicated," Aunt Alice said quietly. "Even if you give yourself up, they'll still come for us. They plan to accuse us of harbouring fugitives if Edward and I don't agree to join him. He'll wipe out our entire family and take us as prizes. He's done it before."

Adelaide looked away. I heard her teeth grind together.

"That's also what he's planning to do with your coven," Dad said softly. "After he discovers which of you has the shield, he has charges lined up for each of you. You and Tara for their involvement in your father's work, Ian for almost killing two of the Guard, and an incident in France in the 1940's and Rob for his involvement in the Southern Wars. He'll decree that he's going to wipe out the entire coven and then he'll claim that Tara's thoughts were repentant."

"Then why can't you see that this is how it must be?" Adelaide exploded. "Why can't you understand? This is my problem! You can't–"

"It's too late for that," Uncle Jasper said as he came to a stop. "We're all in this now, Adelaide. That is simply the way things are. This is no one's fault."

She glared at him for a moment, and then sighed.

"Whether you like it or not, Ade," said Tara seriously. "This isn't something that you're going to be able to resolve alone. He's not after just you. He's after all of us. This has nothing to do with justice."

I shuddered at the idea of once more coming face-to-face with Aro, the red-eyed, paper-skinned villain of my childhood. He had starred in my darkest nightmares since I'd been less than a year old.

"Can we count on the help of the Denalis?" Mom asked.

"I don't know," Dad replied. "They have an immense respect for the law. If they see the Winters as criminals–"

"–Which they aren't," Mom interjected.

"–Which they aren't," Dad agreed. "Then we'll be on our own. I don't believe they'd go up against the Volturi again, not if they think we're guilty as well. We're in accessory to treason."

"Treason?" I asked.

"Not only are we in contempt of an official summons," Ian said. "But we also tried to murder the messengers." He chuckled grimly. "I was a lawyer for forty-three years. I've seen scores of felons convicted on less."

"But you aren't felons," I said.

"We are in their eyes," Tara said.

"Then so are we," Aunt Rose added.

Adelaide shook her head and stormed away suddenly. I watched her go and then looked at Rob. He watched her receding figure for a moment and then sighed quietly. "Let's go."

We returned home immediately. I stared out the window of Jake's Aston Martin, my happiness a distant memory. It was replaced by a constant, bone-chilling fear. The scene from that day in the field five years earlier played through my head. Perfect recall had its drawbacks. The images appeared one after another, as clear as they had been the day I'd seen them; Irina's brutal murder…Aro's ghost-like gait as he drifted across the snowy field to meet my father…the blood-thirsty expressions on Felix and Demetri's faces…Jane's vicious glower. My thoughts were interrupted as Ian and Tara streaked past in Aunt Rose's BMW, Adelaide and Rob just behind them in Uncle Emmett's Lamborghini.

"You're awfully quiet," Jacob commented as we turned a tree-lined bend in the road.

I looked at him. "I was thinking about the Volturi," I admitted.

He was silent for a moment. "Oh." His fingers tightened on the steering wheel. "We can handle them."

"That's what I'm afraid of," I said softly, biting my lip.

I could see the conflict in his eyes – his nature was chafing with his desire to keep me happy. "Nessie, this is why I'm a wolf – to protect people from the vamps that aren't as morally-oriented as Carlisle. That includes you."

"These aren't regular vampires, Jacob!" I argued. "This is the Volturi we're talking about. This isn't like Victoria or James or Laurent. They Volturi have centuries of experience in dealing with rebellious covens."

"So we do what we did last time," he said fervently. "We get so many vamps and werewolves with us that they have no choice but to take us seriously."

"But this isn't the same as last time," I despaired. "We're in accessory to treason."

"Is that somehow worse than creating an immortal child?" he asked sarcastically.

"Much worse! We didn't threaten our secret; we threatened the Volturi themselves by trying to killing Aro's messengers. You know how he is about his acquisitions. Dario and Fabian must have very formidable gifts."

He frowned. "How do you figure?"

"He would have sent more if he thought they'd need it."

"You've been thinking about this way too much," Jacob told me.

It was all I found myself able to think about.

After a moment, he sighed. "Well this kind of wrecked the night, didn't it?"

I gave a hard smile. "Thoroughly."

"Please don't worry," he said, his voice becoming gentle. "I hate to see you stressed out, especially when you look so gorgeous."

I forced a tiny, apologetic smile. "Sorry. I'm being kind of pessimistic, aren't I?"

"A little bit, yeah," he said sheepishly.

"I'm sorry," I said again.

"Don't be. This isn't your fault." He took my hand. "We'll be all right."

I took a breath and let it out slowly. I hoped he was right.

Everyone had gathered in the living room when we arrived. The expressions around the room were varied; concern, distress, sadness, fear, confusion. At the front of the room was Grandpa Carlisle and Grandma Esme, Grandpa Carlisle's arm wrapped securely around her. Both looked acutely concerned. Beside them was Rob. His arms were folded across his chest as he watched a hushed conversation between Adelaide, Ian and Tara. Everyone looked at Jacob and me as we entered.

"Good, you're here," Grandpa Carlisle said as I took a seat between Uncle Emmett and Jacob.

Uncle Emmett was the first to speak. "I say we fight."

"I say we don't," Aunt Alice said.

"I say we run," Mom said.

Grandpa Carlisle turned to Rob. "What would you suggest?"

Rob was silent for a moment. "We promised that we would stay as long as we weren't endangering your family." He looked at Grandpa Carlisle. "But now that the situation has changed, perhaps it may be better for us to leave."

Aunt Alice growled irately. "What is it with you people? I've been trying and trying to tell you, it doesn't matter where you go, the Volturi will come for us as well."

"It's your decision, of course, but as Alice said, the Volturi will still come. I believe it would be more logical for us to stand together," Grandpa Carlisle said.

"I think that if we were to leave they wouldn't lose their incentive to involve you," Adelaide said.

"This isn't just about treason!" Aunt Alice exclaimed. "This is about adding to his entourage. Please, grasp that!"

"Aro would actually kill all of you just to get Alice and Edward?" Ian said sceptically.

"Without hesitation," Dad replied.

"Even you?" Rob asked my grandfather.

"Most likely," Grandpa Carlisle said.

I swallowed past the lump that had formed in my throat. How could anyone want to kill my peace-loving grandfather?

I looked at my parents. Mom was sitting on Jacob's other side and Dad stood behind her. What would I do without them? As I looked at them, I felt the horribly familiar feeling of panicked vulnerability return. It was just as strong as it had been that day in the field so long ago.

And of course, there was my Jacob. My all-consuming fear for him was greater than that for even my own life. He was the one person on the planet that I was absolutely certain that I could not, and would not, live without, under any circumstances.

Dad gave me a stiff smile that I was undoubtedly meant to be reassuring. "We'll be fine, Nessie, I promise," he said beneath his breath. "They won't hurt you."

It wasn't me I was worried about.

"But you can't know for certain that it wouldn't draw them off," Adelaide said.

"I beg to differ," Aunt Alice said, tapping her temple.

She had a point, but I could also understand Adelaide's. Aunt Alice's visions were imperfect, as she so often reminded us, and with the holes that Jacob, Adelaide, Tara and me added, they were even more limited. Of course, I didn't want the Winters to leave, but if there was any chance that it would save my family…well, the idea was tempting.

"Alice mentioned that they plan to spare Tara," Rob said pensively. "Then why wouldn't they spare Adelaide as well?"

Adelaide snorted. "My gift is hardly as useful as Tara's. Besides, Aro's gift makes mine unnecessary."

"I wouldn't be too sure of that," Dad said. "He's still interested in mine, after all, and his gift encompasses my abilities as well."

"So why is he still after Bella?" Rob frowned. His black eyes flicked to Mom. "No offence."

"None taken," Mom said.

"Because her shield, while not as powerful as Tara's, can still be extended farther," Dad replied.

"Yes, but they don't know that," Tara said. "All they know is that I can protect from physical attacks. They don't know any specifics."

"T, you shocked off two sizeable vampires while protecting Ian, yourself and me," Adelaide reminded her. "Aro doesn't need to know the specifics to know that your gift would be a very valuable asset."

I suddenly felt incredibly blessed to have such a simple gift. I would never have to worry about Aro lusting after it.

"All right, we've established that we're screwed," Jacob said impatiently. "So what're we going to do about it?"

We all fell silent.

"Well, since no one seems to be very fond of my original idea," Uncle Emmett said. "Why don't we consider Carlisle's plan from before?"

"That would still involve splitting up," Ian pointed out.

"No, Emmett's right," Rob said. "I think it's probably our best option."

"So Jacob will take Adelaide and Tara will go south to La Push," Grandpa Carlisle said. "And we will go north, to Denali."

"That way we can protect the Winters," agreed Jacob. "And then the rest of you can hang out with the Denali while the Volturi poke around Vancouver."

"I'm going with you," I informed him automatically.

"What?" he said, alarm ringing in his voice. "No. You're going to Denali. This could be dangerous. There's no way I'm going to put you in danger."

"I understand, but I'll be as safe with you as I would be with them." I'd been without Jacob before and I most certainly didn't plan to voluntarily be without him again, even if it was just for a few days.

"Edward, Bella, tell her she has to go with you," he begged, appealing to my parents.

"Nessie, I think it would be safer if you came with us," Mom said sincerely, but I could tell she wasn't going to force me. She knew what it was like to live without the one you loved, regardless of for how long.

"I agree with your mother and Jacob," Dad said.

"But you won't force me?"

They exchanged glances. Finally, Dad sighed. "No, we won't force you."

"Thank you," I said. I hadn't expected him to refuse me, but I was grateful nonetheless.

"Jasper, Alice, perhaps you ought to go to La Push with them?" Grandpa Carlisle suggested.

"I don't know," Jacob said uncertainly. "I'm going to have a hard enough time convincing Sam as it is. I think two extra vamps on top of two new half-breeds might be pushing it."

"Just Jasper, then?" Dad said.

Aunt Alice hesitated and looked at Uncle Jasper. I could tell that she wasn't fond of the idea. "Yes," she said after a moment. "You can help keep everyone calm," she said, shooting a purposeful look at Adelaide. "And that way there's a bit of a chance that I might be able to see what's going on."

Uncle Jasper nodded. I glanced at Rob out of curiosity. His face was blank, but I could see that his jaw was taut.

"Then there isn't a moment to waste," Grandpa Carlisle said.

After I had changed back into normal clothes, I was forced to spend the next half-hour helping Grandma Esme, Aunt Alice, Aunt Rose and Adelaide pack for the trip to La Push. It was decided that Rob and Ian would drive their mates as far as the border, and then we would run from there. They would then go north to Denali, where the rest of my family would be waiting for them.

Grandpa Carlisle had already called to explain the situation to our family there. After some persuasion, he had managed to convince them of the injustice of our current accusations.

"I don't get it, I thought they knew the Winters," Jacob said as we walked to the garage, lugging yet another suitcase. Rob, Uncle Emmett and Aunt Rose were all half-hidden beneath cars to ensure that they were ready for the journey.

"They did," Adelaide replied in a disturbingly lifeless voice from behind us. "We knew Kate and Irina, anyway. But my father has a gift that changed that."

"What kind of gift?" asked Jacob.

She sighed quietly. "He can manipulate memories," Adelaide explained. "It works best with humans, but he's learned to delete certain memories from the minds of vampires as well. He feared that they would betray us to the Volturi, so he erased everything that they knew about us."

"So they don't even know that they know you," Jacob said.

She nodded grimly.

"He can actually change and erase memories?" I asked in awe. I'd never heard of a gift like that.

Adelaide nodded again.

"How?"

"From the way he explained it, he has a way of seeing every memory that a person has."

"Kind of like Aro," I inferred.

"Only he does not know what the thoughts attached to those memories are. He deleted every memory that either of them had pertaining to Tara and me."

So not only was William Taylor twisted, but powerful. No wonder the Volturi were hunting him.

"How do you know he's never done it to you?" I asked.

She gave a hard smile. "He's tried," she said. "He tried to erase my memory before I left with Tara. It doesn't work on mixed breeds, much like Alice's."

"We're ready," Mom said. Her voice was calm, but I could hear the strain behind it.

"Okay," I nodded.

"We're all saying goodbye inside," she said, chewing on her lower lip.

"Oh, I'll bet Jasper is loving this," Jacob said as we went inside.

The atmosphere was a combination of apprehension and sadness. I could see it in everyone's faces. No one knew how long we would be separated, not even Aunt Alice. That fact had added to the stress level exponentially.

"Call," Mom said, hugging me tightly. "Lots."

I gave her a tiny smile and hugged her back. I was going to miss her. "I will, Momma," I promised.

"Be safe," Dad told me as he kissed my forehead. He looked at Jacob. "And you keep her safe."

"They won't lay a finger on her," Jacob assured him, wrapping a warm arm around me.

I glanced up at his handsome face. If there was anyone that could keep me safe beyond all doubt, it was him.

"If you try anything," I heard Aunt Alice hissing at Adelaide. "I will know, and I will come after you myself."

Adelaide chuckled as she embraced her. "I'm quite sure you will. Goodbye, Alice."

"Bye, Tara," Aunt Rose said, wrapping her arms around Tara.

"Bye, Rosalie," she said quietly. "I hope to see you soon."

Aunt Rose smiled at her. "I'm sure of it."

"Are we ready?" Rob asked quietly.

"I think so," Grandpa Carlisle replied.

"I suppose I'll be riding with you," Uncle Jasper said to Jacob.

"We've always got room for you, Jazz," Jacob told my uncle, clapping him on the back. We led the way into the garage. Jacob's car was parked on the asphalt outside of the open garage door. Jacob and I climbed into the front of the car while Uncle Jasper took a seat in the back. Rob, Adelaide, Ian and Tara took Rob's Rolls-Royce. Ian would take Jacob's car when we got to the border. From there, we would run until we reached La Push.

"When are they planning to leave?" I asked Uncle Jasper.

"As soon as possible," he responded.

I looked back over my shoulder as we drove away. Mom, Dad, Grandma Esme, Grandpa Carlisle, Uncle Emmett, Aunt Rose and Aunt Alice were standing along the front window of the house as they watched us drive away. A pang of homesickness hit me as the house disappeared behind the trees. I sighed and stared out the passenger window into the impermeable darkness.

I felt Jacob's gentle fingers brush along my arm. "We'll be back."

I forced a smile. "I know. It's just that last time this happened I thought I'd never see them again. And now…I can't help but feel that it's happening again."

"This is the best way, Nessie," Uncle Jasper said mildly from behind me. "The werewolves' presence might be enough to at least delay, if not deter, the Volturi."

"I know," I answered half-heartedly. At least I got to stay with my Jacob.

We drove parallel to the border for several hours to avoid all major border stations. We finally stopped at a gas station about half an hour away. Uncle Jasper refuelled while Jacob disappeared into the forest to phase and inform the pack of what was going on.

"Hey, hey, Ness," Jacob said over his shoulder, coming to a stop. "Get me some chocolate, will you? Lots of chocolate?"

I chuckled. "Sure."

He shot me my favourite smile. "You're the best."

I watched Jacob, my fiancé, as he loped off into the woods. For the thousandth time that night, I felt a warm glow at that thought; Jacob Black was actually my fiancé.

It took me a moment to regain my wits enough to hurry into the gas station to purchase the food. I pulled on the fir-trimmed jacket that Mom had insisted I take as I walked. Adelaide was already inside, buying two bottles of water and a bag of pretzels. She glanced at me as the bell above the door clanged. She attempted to smile at me, although it ended up as more of a grimace.

"You okay?" I asked her, frowning slightly. She looked extremely pale, even for a half-vampire.

"Not really," she said blankly as she left the gas station. She gave one of the bottles to Tara, who was standing beside the gas pump, before getting back into the car.

"She's not exaggerating," I muttered to myself. I grabbed a handful of chocolate bars and three energy drinks, deliberately ignoring the quizzical look that the cashier gave me as I dug my money out of my pocket. I tried to pick everything up at once and managed to drop two of the chocolate bars.

The cashier raised an eyebrow. "You want a bag for that?"

"That would be helpful," I said, my tone barely escaping sarcasm.

He passed me a plastic bag. "Have a nice night."

I picked up the fallen chocolate bars and returned to the car. Jacob was still in the woods when I got in. Uncle Jasper was leaning against the side of the car, speaking to Grandpa Carlisle on his cell phone.

He returned moments later. "Oh wow," Jacob grinned as he looked in the bag. "You are completely and utterly amazing." He planted a quick kiss on my lips, sending another warm ripple over my skin.

"Carlisle said that they're about to leave," Uncle Jasper told us as he climbed into the back seat.

Jacob nodded, cracking open one of the energy drinks as he started the engine. "The packs are all set to meet us at the Quileute border. They're ready to fight if necessary."

I gave a shiver that had nothing to do with the cold winter air.

"Sam's not thrilled to be playing watchdog to a couple of half-vamps," said Jacob, taking a swig. "But he'll get over it."

"Technically he'll be playing watchdog to three half-vamps," I reminded him.

"Yeah, but you're practically one of us," he grinned.

I smiled. I was sure Aunt Rose would've had a thing or two to say about that.

When we were about a mile away from the border, we stopped at the shoulder of the road. We all got out wordlessly. Jacob handed the keys over to Ian. "Take good care of her."

Ian half-smiled. "Yes, sir."

Jacob grinned and then waited with Uncle Jasper and me by the as the Winters said their goodbyes to each other.

Tara was crying before she was even out of the car. Adelaide went to Ian first and Tara went to Rob. I couldn't help but smirk as I heard Ian murmur something along the lines of, "Don't do anything foolish," to his sister as he kissed both of her cheeks.

"Same to you," she murmured.

I swallowed hard as I watched the family. I could hardly stand to imagine being separated from Jacob again. As if sensing my thoughts, he twined his fingers with mine and gave my hand a light squeeze. I leaned against him slightly and sighed. Some engagement night this had turned out to be.

When I looked up again, the Winters had moved to farewell their respective mates. I stared at the ground awkwardly for several moments, not wishing to intrude on their personal moment. After several moments, I heard Uncle Jasper approached them slowly, his voice apologetic. "I'm sorry, but we really do have to go."

When I looked up again, Rob had one arm around Adelaide's waist and was glowering at Uncle Jasper. "If you don't bring her back to me…if you let anything happen to her, I will come after you," he said coolly.

I gritted my teeth. And here I'd thought we were almost past all of that stupidity.

"Bloody hell, Rob!" Adelaide exclaimed.

"I mean it," he said to both Adelaide and Uncle Jasper. "But for now, I'm entrusting you with her life. I hope you appreciate how significant that is."

Uncle Jasper gave him the smallest of smiles. "Nothing will happen to her, I promise you."

"See that you keep that promise." Rob looked back at Adelaide.

She sighed quietly. "I love you," she whispered to her husband as she took a reluctant step away from him, and followed Uncle Jasper.

I looked at Ian and Tara. They were still holding hands and murmuring to each other quietly. I saw Ian give Tara a small silver object.

"Tara," Adelaide said softly. "We have to go."

Tara's eyes flickered to her sister, and then back to Ian. She sighed and let him go.

"Ready?" asked Jacob quietly. "It's another hour to Limestone Junction. I was thinking we could get a hotel there."

I was grateful for the thought. Now that the initial adrenaline rush was wearing off, my eyelids felt like they had lead weights attached to them.

Uncle Jasper nodded. "You all should rest. We can continue to La Push in the morning."

Hand-in-hand with my eternal love, we took off through the cold, black night.

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