Two Weeks

Chapter 31

Two Weeks

Chapter Thirty-One

By: Jana~

XXX

What did Rosalie mean by that? My mind spun it around and around, trying to make sense of it.

My first thought was that she was referring to my decision to stay with Charlie instead of Renee, when they eventually announced that they were getting a divorce. But why should she care?

My second thought seemed more likely. She was unhappy about my decision to be in a relationship with Edward. In the long run, it would only cause him pain. It would be only natural that she would want to spare her brother from that.

"What are you thinking?"

I snapped out of my contemplative haze and looked up at Edward from where I sat on the edge of his bed. He was still standing a few feet away.

"She doesn't approve." There was no point in whispering. I did it anyway. "Of us," I added.

Sighing, he took a seat beside me. "Whether she does or not is irrelevant. You are my mate now, until you order me away."

Rosalie's cryptic words drifted to the back of my mind.

Mate? Not girlfriend, but mate. I knew absolutely that he didn't mean that in a 'best buddies' kind of way.

In the animal kingdom, many species mate for life. Did vampires have a similar instinct?

After all the ways that it had been both outright said and implied, I still couldn't wrap my brain around it. After knowing Edward Cullen for only thirteen days, after knowing his secret for only ten days, we were committed to each other for life.

"I will never order you away. You're my mate now, too."

There was something oddly satisfying about using the rawer term when describing our relationship. It felt natural. It felt… right.

He slid his arms around me, and I fell eagerly into his embrace.

I dropped the subject of Rosalie. I avoided the subject of Tanya. It was our last night together at his house. I just wanted to enjoy it. I wanted it to be special.

And it was. We decided to take a stroll through the forest. Not a run but a stroll. There was no rush. No hurry. We just walked hand in hand, enjoying each other's company, chatting casually about nothing of any great importance.

We discussed books, and music – we learned that Debussy was a mutual favorite – and science of all things. I'd always felt a little drawn to the subject. Apparently, that was because I had an aptitude for it. According to Edward.

I only kind of fell once – he stopped me from actually hitting the ground seconds before I did – but I stumbled a lot. It was too dark to avoid obstacles like twigs, and branches, and soggy leaves, not that I had any better luck with that during daylight hours.

We stopped to rest shortly after we started heading back to his house. Since the ground was wet, Edward pulled me up onto his back and leapt into a tree. There wasn't much of a view, because we didn't go up it very far, but that didn't matter. I wasn't interested in the scenery.

His one hand held me protectively while the other adored me. He brushed his fingers across my cheek, raked them into my hair… and then he was kissing me. It wasn't at all urgent.

Our foreheads were touching, but not straight on. It was more like off to the side. Every few seconds or so, he would dip in a little and touch his lips to mine. Then he would tilt back and wait before repeating. There was something poignant about it. Significant. Profound. I was too caught up in it to decipher any sort of hidden meaning, though.

"Edward…"

I whimpered his name, but I only just realized that because of his response.

"Yes, my love?"

I didn't have an answer. And I was pretty sure any kind of sentence I tried to create would be anything but coherent. So I said the only thing I could think of.

"More."

Immediately, so much so that I gasped at the suddenness, his lips were on my neck. My adrenalin spiked instantly.

He started slow. Soft, brushing kisses. A little flick of his tongue. He was testing. Not just himself, but me.

I could feel the blackness stalking my consciousness, but I fought it back. I had to. I just somehow knew, if I passed out this time, he would never show me that kind of affection again.

And I wanted him to. For reasons I still couldn't understand.

The kisses deepened. I pushed my hand into his hair, encouraging him. Then I felt his lips latch on. The most delicious pressure followed. I moaned. Loudly. It seemed to echo around us.

I grew limp, but I was still conscious. He held me tighter.

I could feel the blood pooling just beneath my skin. It throbbed pleasantly.

When the suction eased, I could feel his tongue again, lapping at the very spot of the exquisite aching.

He was soothing it. He was tasting me. He nuzzled up behind my ear, into my hair, inhaling deeply.

And then ninety-eight years passed.

"Acclimation," I whispered. I couldn't even bring myself to smile when he laughed. I was too high on Drug Edward. I felt as if I was in a dreamlike state. The kind one struggles to but can't wake up from.

"It's time to go home now, my love."

"Hmmm…"

There was no memory of the trip home. None at all. Next I was aware, I was in Edward's bed, in his arms, my head resting on his chest. I couldn't open my eyes. The lids were too heavy. The line between dream and reality was blurred.

"Did… fall asleep?" I asked, confused.

"No."

"Pass out?"

"No."

I wanted to understand. "What happened?"

"You were… blissful."

Blissful. Lost to the effects of Drug Edward. I was still feeling lost. Every word was a struggle to say. Every thought difficult to grasp.

"How long?"

"Twenty-three minutes."

I wanted to move. I wanted to look up at him. I told my body to, but it refused to obey. His arms tightened around me.

"Shhh, sleep now. You have school in the morning."

I didn't want to go to sleep. Something niggled at the back of my mind, telling me not to. But I couldn't determine what that something was.

There was no worry or panic accompanying the sense that I was forgetting something. I felt… euphoric. That was probably why I gave in so easily.

Moments before sleep enveloped me, I heard one, single, whispered word.

"Compromise."

It seemed important somehow. I wanted to ask him about it – ask what he meant – but I couldn't find my way out of the haze. I think I hummed questioningly, but Edward didn't answer. Or maybe I didn't make the sound after all.

And then I could see light bleeding through my closed eyelids. I dismissed it. Then I felt cool lips lingering on my forehead. That I couldn't ignore.

"Dearest Bella, it's time to wake up."

Huh? How could it be? I had just fallen asleep seconds ago.

I forced my eyes open. The light was the morning sun.

Startled, I shot up out of Edward's arms. Edward shot up with me.

"Shhh, love, you're safe. You slept deeply. You're disoriented."

His thumb brushed across my cheek as his hand cupped me. As I stared back at him in total confusion.

Drug Edward had morning after side effects, apparently.

"What happened last night?"

He scowled a little. "You don't remember?"

I blinked a few times, trying to. "You… My neck…"

His eyes shifted as he sighed. "I'm sorry for injuring you."

Reflexively, my hand flew up to where his gaze had landed. My neck. My fingers searched for any sign of a wound.

Nothing.

"I was trying to please you. I was trying to find a compromise."

"Compromise?" He had said that before, hadn't he? Seconds or hours ago, I wasn't quite sure.

He winced. "You were offering yourself to me, Bella."

Well, yeah, because I had felt an irresistible craving for him to show me affection in that way.

"Is that a bad thing?"

His return expression told me it was. It was a bad thing for some reason. I just didn't know why. He had offered himself to me before. Why was it not okay that I do so, too?

"Why?" I asked. "Why was that a bad thing?"

He didn't answer. Not directly, anyway. He reached out and drew a circle with just the tip of his finger on my neck, then whispered, "Look in the mirror, then tell me what I did wasn't wrong."

I had the vague understanding that he had left the bed and was leaving the room, but I was too bewildered to fully comprehend it. By the time I had enough wits about me to stop him, it was too late. He was gone.

I grabbed my crap and ran for the bathroom.

Okay, was that what all the fuss was about? He had given me a hickey. So what? I sure wasn't the first woman to get one, nor would I be the last. Did he really think that constituted as an injury?

I rushed through my morning routine, hell bent on setting him straight. But as I approached the kitchen, I heard the tail end of a conversation he was having with Alice. It made me stop in my tracks.

My new habit of eavesdropping… Yeah, not a good trait.

"It might save you a lot of heartache, and her a lot of confusion."

"I would rather wait for her to figure it out on her own."

Silence. They knew I was there.

I quickly stepped around the corner and into the room.

"Morning, Bella!"

"Morning, Alice." I tried to sound as chipper as she did, but really, I doubted anyone could.

"I'm just going to leave you guys to talk." Alice's eyes flickered to the red mark on my neck as she passed me on her way out.

It reminded me of what I had wanted to say to him. The conversation I overheard shifted to the back of my mind.

"Edward…" I sighed as I took my usual seat. I left my breakfast untouched for the moment. "Hickeys are no big deal. They're not injuries, they're… love marks."

We just stared at each other. He took forever to respond.

"You're too forgiving."

I scoffed. "There's nothing to forgive! I liked it! I don't get why I felt like I was on drugs afterwards…" I was careful not to name that drug. "But even that was good."

His intensity eased a little. "I only wanted to please you."

He sounded remorseful. Why was this so hard for him to understand? Or was it me who was missing something?

"You did. Look at me, all happy and pleased!" I grinned at him for emphasis. Hip lips twitched in amusement. "This is my last morning here, Edward. I want it to be a good one."

He seemed to relent, though a bit reluctantly. He sighed, looked to the floor, but then when he raised his eyes again, he smiled at me. "Carlisle and Esme will be visiting the school's registrar's office today."

I grinned again, genuinely. We were back on track.

As Edward and I walked hand in hand towards my first period class, Jessica caught up with us. Edward didn't tense. I took his cue.

"Hey, guys! Um, Angela was saying that you're all going to Port Angeles this weekend? Dress shopping?"

Way to fish for an invite, Jess. I made it easy on her. It just felt like the right thing to do.

"Yeah. You could join us, if you're free."

Her face lit up with surprise. "Really? Great! I do need to shop, actually." She paused a second before announcing, "Mike asked me to the prom!"

"That's great, Jess." I meant that sincerely. It was great. Great for her. Great for me. Great for Edward.

How uncomfortable must it have been for him to hear her obsessive thoughts about him? Probably as uncomfortable as it would be if he could hear mine. Which was why it was a good thing he couldn't read my mind.

"I know, right? Maybe the guys can catch a movie or something while we try on!"

Yay for Edward. That wouldn't be annoying for him at all. "Yeah, maybe," I muttered. I had to force myself not to look at him, to gauge his reaction.

"Well, I better get going. Don't want to be late! See'ya!"

She nearly skipped off.

"She seems… happy," I mentioned as we started walking again. I hoped she was. I never disliked Jessica, I was just fed up with her inconsiderate prying.

"She is. You inviting her helped. She was nervous to ask."

I nodded, then asked carefully, "Are her thoughts… about you… any better?"

"Yes. She wonders a little, but her focus now is on Mike."

Good. Edward was off limits. Jessica and I could coexist again.

Mr. Jefferson rolled his eyes when Edward walked me to my seat. I couldn't wait to see his reaction when Edward became a student in his class. If he became one.

He'd said that he would have every class with me, but still, realistically, there was a chance that wouldn't actually happen.

Edward kissed me before saying goodbye. My heart raced as his lips touched mine, as his hand raked into my hair.

I could hear the tittering of the other students, I could sense Angela looking away respectfully, but I ignored all of it. Everything. Nothing mattered more than these moments.

When he pulled back, his eyes locked with mine.

"I will see you later, my love. Breathe."

Even though he whispered that, I was sure everyone in the room had heard him. I didn't care.

I nodded, then watched him until he disappeared out the door.

Mr. Jefferson cleared his throat in a way that indicated he was annoyed. Angela grinned widely; she was clearly happy for me. All the other kids stared at me until the start of class.

I was on my way to Spanish, watching my feet as I walked so that I wouldn't face-plant, thinking of Edward, willing time to move faster so that I could see him again. Only one period left before lunch.

"Excuse me, miss. I'm new here, and I was wondering if you could assist me in locating my classroom."

I spun around at the sound of his voice, my smile growing wider as he approached me.

"Already? I thought you wouldn't be starting until next week!"

I threw myself into his arms. My existence clicked into place.

"They offered me a choice. I couldn't wait to start spending every moment I can with you."

I hopped back and snatched the schedule he held from out of his hand. I had to see. Had to know how many classes we were going to have together.

Every one of them.

"You pulled it off?"

He grinned. "Easily."

The kids walking by us started running. We were going to be late.

And we were, but Mrs. Goff didn't seem to care. She giddily spent the first several minutes of class conversing with Edward in fluent Spanish.

I heard my name towards the end of their chat, but I only understood a part of what was said. I found out later that he had asked if he could sit next to me.

Her answer was yes. Of course I understood that much. It wasn't that I was a bad student in Spanish, it was just that they were talking so fast. And they were using words and phrases I had yet to learn.

Having Edward sitting next to me was going to improve my grade, I was sure of it.

Lunch was interesting, but in a good way. Well, for the most part.

"I heard you had enrolled!" Angela said as she and Eric joined us. "Small school," she added. "Word gets around fast."

"Piano dude! Wassup?"

"Okay, that was so a million years ago! Get with the times!" Jessica teased. She and Mike hovered near our table, like they were waiting for an invitation.

"The classics never die," Eric retorted. Then he pushed a chair towards Mike.

Mike sat, but Jessica remained standing. I decided to give her another break. We would see how it went.

I gestured for her to join us. She grinned as she did.

"My mom said I could have the charge card this weekend! She gave me a limit, but…"

As Jessica chattered about how much money she was planning to spend during our weekend shopping trip, Edward reached into his brand new backpack and pulled out a lunch for me. He smiled as he pushed it across the table in my direction.

"You brought Bella's lunch but forgot your own?" Eric asked.

Crap! The smile dropped from my face. Edward's never faltered.

"I'm on a special diet," he said. Everyone at our table just stared back at him. "Medical necessity," he added.

It would have been the perfect opportunity for Jessica to start in. But, surprisingly, she didn't.

She looked a little uncomfortable as she averted her eyes, but then she seemed to recover as she turned her attention on Mike.

"I don't care how crazy a driver you think I am! I'm driving on Saturday!"

Mike groaned, but he was smirking when he did.

I tuned their playful banter out. Edward had touched my hand. When I looked up at him, he glanced pointedly at the bagged lunch with my name neatly penned on it. Then he returned his eyes to mine.

I grinned as I shook my head. His concern for me would never grow old, I was sure of it. As I was sure he would never stop being concerned. I was his frail, fragile little human. Breakable. In his care.

I liked being in his care.

"Bella, that's a beautiful bracelet!"

My eyes darted to the crystal heart around my wrist before landing on Angela. I could feel the blush coloring my cheeks.

"Um, thanks. It was a gift."

Eric laughed. Knowing him well enough, I knew why. My eyes narrowed on him in warning. He didn't take it.

"Dude's got it bad," he teased, amused with himself.

Edward didn't seem to care at all. He almost seemed pleased. His smile grew just a little.

"So, what's your schedule like, Edward?" Angela asked. It seemed she was trying to change the subject because she sensed I was uncomfortable. "Maybe we have some classes together," she added.

"The first two of the day, yes," Edward replied. "My schedule is the same as Bella's."

"Exactly?" She sounded surprised. "Wow, what are the chances?"

Edward just smiled back at her.

"I guess it's where they had room," I muttered. I avoided Angela's eyes as I took renewed interest in my lunch.

"I'm sorry, Mike…"

My ears perked when I heard Edward address him, but my focus remained on my sandwich.

"I believe Mr. Molina will be asking you to relocate permanently."

Mike shrugged. "No biggie." A teasing smirk then inched onto his face. "Bella was holding me back anyway."

I glared at him. Jokingly. "Oh, ha, ha. Who was it that almost passed out on dissection day? Who earned us the 'A' then, hmm?"

Eric laughed and threw a balled up piece of paper at Mike, which got them both off and running, chasing each other through the cafeteria and out the door.

"Geez," Jessica said, rolling her eyes, "it's like first grade all over again."

I had to agree with her on that one. Teenage boys could be so childish. Except for Edward. Except he wasn't exactly a teenage boy.

Sure, he looked it, but he was decades older than that. How weird did it seem to others that he didn't behave in a manner befitting his supposed age?

Or maybe it didn't seem weird at all. Maybe it seemed refreshing.

"At least some guys know how to act like a grownup," Jessica said. She glanced at Edward, her smile a little awkward, then she averted her eyes again and addressed Angela. "Maybe we could go to that restaurant around the corner from the shop?"

Angela agreed. I honestly didn't care, so I shrugged in acceptance.

Mike and Eric made an appearance again right before the bell, laughing and shoving each other. They settled down a little as they retook their seats.

As we started walking to Biology, Edward removed his hand from mine and draped his arm over and around my shoulder. It was casual but affectionate. We looked like any other teenage couple.

So then why were people staring?

"Everyone's looking at us," I whispered.

He glanced around. "Not that guy." He hummed three seconds later. "He just looked. Does it bother you?" he asked.

"No. Just wondering why. Maybe it's just because you're the new kid," I reasoned.

Made sense. Forks didn't get too many newcomers.

"I don't wish to make you uncomfortable."

I could feel his arm twitch, like he was about ready to remove it from around me. I quickly wrapped my arm around his waist.

"I don't care if people stare, Edward."

Well, I did, but I cared about him more.

"Are you happy, my love?"

He asked me that a lot. It was then that I realized, I never asked him if he was in return. I wanted him to be, I just hadn't voiced it before. Sure, I mentioned it in passing when we were out in the dark, before my panic attack because it was dark, but I had never actually asked him if he was.

"I am. Are you?"

He leaned into me a little. "Every moment that I am with you," he whispered.

Even after all of the intense and intimate moments we had shared, he could still make me melt by the simplest of statements. If it wasn't for him guiding me, I don't think I could have found my way to Biology.

Mr. Molina was thrilled that Edward was joining his class. He was the quintessential teacher. The kind you put up for awards. He was happiest when children were learning. Any child, even ones not enrolled in his class.

As Edward had predicted, Mr. Molina asked Mike to partner up with Ben, since his desk mate, Joey, was usually absent. Joey would probably have to work alone whenever he did bother to show.

With the start of class, Mr. Molina showed himself to be thirteen kinds of excited. His fieldtrip request to the greenhouse had been approved. And apparently, compost is cool. Everyone laughed at that.

I could picture going on the trip, on a bus, sitting next to Edward. We would ignore all the chaotic noise everyone would inevitably make and snuggle up to each other. We could hold hands as we strolled down the aisles of plants and flowers.

It was a good picture.

I smiled at Edward and discreetly reached for his hand under our desk. The familiar electric current arced and connected us.

I figured Gym would probably be embarrassing, but not exactly a problem. I'm not sure why I never considered the possibilities. What if in an unthinking moment, Edward moved too fast? Threw a ball too hard?

Because of his desire to be in every one of my classes, Edward passed on the choice to take a different subject for that period. Carlisle had stated that because of medical conditions, his participation needed to be minimal.

Apparently, minimal participation meant standing on the sidelines, acting like the towel and equipment boy, and essentially being the coach's assistant.

He looked adorable in his sweats and Forks High P.E. T-shirt, though. He also looked uncomfortable. Like he wanted nothing more than to be back in his regular attire. Attire that was clearly Alice's doing, but that suited him perfectly.

I felt his eyes on me the entire time. It was completely distracting. So much so, that when the ball came flying towards me, even though I knew it was, I just stood there. It hit me smack in the face!

It didn't hit me hard, but ow! Edward was to me so fast, I wondered if he had moved at a human enough speed.

Kids were tittering and murmuring. My getting injured was nothing new, and usually found to be humorous by others.

"Bella, are you hurt?"

I nodded. I promised him I would be honest about that, and I was hurting. Not bad, but still. "Just a little. I'm okay."

I heard the coach sigh as he approached. "Mr. Cullen, could you please see Bella to the nurse's office?"

With the way he leaned in, I thought he was about to lift me. That would seem weird to the others. He would do so effortlessly, unthinking in his worry, and it would call attention to him. I quickly moved and pushed myself up to standing. Then I grabbed his arm, stopping him from lifting me and for support.

"Feel better, Bella!"

I gave Jessica a little wave, and then with Edward's unnecessary help – my feet worked fine; well, as fine as they have ever worked – I headed for the gym's double doors.

"I'm okay, Edward," I said as soon as we were outside. "It just stings a little."

He wasn't convinced. "I will have the nurse call Carlisle."

"That won't be necessary. Trust me. This kind of thing happens to me constantly. You promised to try, remember? I'm being honest with you. It hurts, but I'm okay. I've built up a high tolerance to pain."

I laughed, trying to lighten the mood, but he just scowled at me. I rolled my eyes back at him.

The nurse seemed to agree with me. No swelling, maybe slight bruising on the bridge of my nose, but otherwise, I was fine. That settled Edward down a little, but every time there was a moment when no one was looking, he was kissing my injury, and telling me how much he loved me.

I could have happily spent the rest of the school day and beyond in the office, with him doing that, but the nurse said I was fine to go back to class. Edward, being so very obstinate about my education, insisted I do. We were given tardy passes, then we were sent back to the locker rooms so that we could change out of our gym clothes.

Mr. Berty was irritated on many levels, when we showed up almost fifteen minutes late. Being late was the first.

Second, he didn't seem to care for Edward. He sighed heavily as he took his entrance slip into the class.

And third, he didn't like being asked if we could sit together. He didn't want to rearrange the class to accommodate that.

That was disappointing, but I figured there was no point in arguing. I started to head for my seat, but Edward gave my hand a tug, stopping me.

"Sir, with due respect, there is a solution that would require little rearranging of the current seating assignment. Simply ask Bella's desk mate to relocate next to my intended desk mate."

Edward's confidence held firm as Mr. Berty glared at him. But the logic was indisputable. He huffed as he agreed, then he went back into the lesson that was underway while we, as quietly as possible, all found our seats.

We didn't dare risk holding hands. Mr. Berty was annoyed enough, and was probably just looking for an excuse to separate us. But once, when the teacher's back was turned, Edward brushed his thumb across my knee.

I swallowed my gasp, then smiled over at him.

Having Edward in my every class was going to be interesting.

To be continued…

Author's Note:

Again, thank you so much for all the wonderful reviews. You have no idea how humbling and thrilling it is to read such compliments.

Okay, um, several people have either asked or commented on one thing in particular… I'm not ignoring you guys, but I was avoiding responding for a reason. While the direction may be obvious, I don't want to give anything away prematurely. So, if I have not answered a question you've posed, it's not because I'm ignoring you, it's because I'd rather you be surprised.

Megajonastwihard: I've done that before! Become so engrossed in something I stay up into the wee hours of the morning and ignore sleep! I am honored that you felt my story was that good. I will not ignore your request, but I must be honest… it makes me uncomfortable to critique other people's works. I'm literally no one special, and don't feel I have the right to pass judgment onto others. Also, I am insanely busy. My sons just started back to school, I'm trying to finish the sequel to my novel, I'm trying to beta this fic for posting, I have two other fics I'm trying to iron out details for, etc. I am sorry, and hope this doesn't upset you.

And speaking of ironing out details of future fics…

I would like to post a short prologue here, and maybe get some opinions. Please, keep in mind, this is a rough draft, alternative universe, and is from EPOV, which is something I have not been able to do before successfully. If it doesn't completely suck, and people think this idea has potential, I will start on it after I finish posting this fic, and after I finish the last three chapters of my novel's sequel.

Thanks again for reading and reviewing, and MTLBYAKY

Untitled

Prologue

By: Jana~

XXX

My siblings often amuse me.

At that moment, I was wavering between amused and annoyed.

I wasn't pleased, either, but sometimes it is necessary to hunt the less appealing. We often adjust our activities based off the balance of nature in the area. Recently, there had been a surge in the deer population.

I much prefer mountain lion. Not for the thrill of the challenge, but simply because they taste better. Emmett prefers bear. Not because they taste better, but for the thrill.

Alice, as always, was indifferent. As I was, she was just waiting for Emmett to make a decision on how to best create entertainment for himself. Deer are docile creatures, and rarely put forth much of a fight during the brief struggle to survive.

Emmett is not fond of gentle game.

If he doesn't hurry up and decide, I say we go and he can chase his down.

I gave my sister a nod of approval, watching as each of Emmett's decisions turned to visions inside Alice's mind. The one where he ended up in the river brought a smirk to my face.

I sensed it coming a second before it happened. The winds shifted, taking our scents to the herd of deer. They scattered, but I was unconcerned with that. New scents came with the change. The scents both enticed me and worried me.

Instincts drove me. I'm faster than most. My siblings struggled to keep up with me.

Edward! Wait!

A vision played out inside her head, but that just prepared me for what I was about to find. The vision then changed to something far more acceptable. Then it vanished. We both knew why.

Finally, I saw them, but he was too busy feasting to realize I was approaching. Surprise was my advantage. I hit him full force, sending him flying across the field. He righted himself quickly and took an offensive stance, crouching and hissing as I crouched over his victim defensively.

"That's mine!" he growled.

"Not rightfully! You are on claimed territory!"

Like hell I am. Twerp is a scavenger.

His thoughts were preposterous, so I didn't bother responding to them. I just glared back and waited. He was eyeing me, trying to determine what my weaknesses were. I allowed it. I only needed a few seconds more.

It's a Cullen!

They broke the treaty!

But who's the other one?

Wait for the command!

He's standing over her!

The wolves' thoughts bombarded me all at once. I hissed in response, and to get their attention. "It wasn't me! Look at me eyes! Are they red? It was him!" I pointed at the trespassing vampire for emphasis.

The trespasser's thoughts filled with curse words and plans to flee. And then he did. All the wolves but the leader gave chase, just as Alice and Emmett arrived.

He thinks you did it.

"He's not sure," I answered my sister. One thing that was for sure… he knew the victim. He was lamenting over the idea that, because she would now turn into the enemy of his tribe, he would have to kill her. I felt a pang of sympathy for his pain. "I might be able to help her, Jacob."

You can save her?

Edward, no! It's not safe! I can't predict when the mutts are around!

I ignored Alice. I was fully aware of the risk involved. If I failed to restrain myself, the treaty would likely be seen as broken and a war between the wolves and my family would break out. Starting with my death, and possibly Alice's and Emmett's as well.

"I can try. I cannot guarantee the outcome."

Try. Please.

I knelt next to the young woman and located the wound. With where it was located, on her forearm, his intentions were clear. He had planned to drain her slowly while she suffered. Rage filled me, but I used it to get me through what I was about to attempt.

Spit it out. You'll drain her and doom us all if you don't.

I took my sister's advice. The first pull tasted heavily of venom. If not for that, I might not have been able to spit it out. The second pull wasn't any weaker. There was no stopping the change from happening. I took a third pull, just to be certain. I didn't dare take another.

I glanced at Jacob and shook my head, then I sealed the wound closed with my tongue and placed her hand on her heaving chest. Her heart rate was fast and erratic. Her breathing was labored. She was twitching and convulsing alternately. The shock of her ordeal had, mercifully, rendered her unconscious.

So, that's it? You can't save her?

"Not her humanity, no. But she doesn't need to be destroyed. We can teach her to live as we do, if you will allow us to."

I don't know… I can't…

"Yes, you can. You are the alpha. You are the only one who can rightfully make this decision. I know you consider us the enemy, but this isn't her fault."

Jacob's thoughts jumped randomly. Memories of spending time with this girl intermixed with horrifying images of ripping her apart.

"It doesn't have to be like that," I assured him.

He seemed to be searching for opinions from the rest of his pack, but the only two still in wolf form were Seth and Embry. The rest had phased into their human forms so that they could burn the pieces of the dismembered vampire.

Seth and Embry were younger than Jacob, and offered nothing of help in making a decision.

Pups in charge of anything besides where to find a good ass scratching tree is ridiculous!

I ignored Emmett and tried again with Jacob. "You obviously care about her. She didn't ask for this to happen. Isn't a life such as this better than no life at all?"

Jacob's love for the girl and hatred of my kind battled for a moment within his thoughts. Finally, he conceded.

Fine. Help her.

"Thank you."

As I began to lift her, Alice asked, "What's her name? How old is she?"

Bella. Isabella Swan, but she goes by Bella. She just turned eighteen a few weeks ago.

"She goes by Bella," I said, translating Jacob's thoughts for my siblings. "She's eighteen."

At least she's legal. Less complications.

I nodded at Emmett, then turned back to face Jacob. "Would you like us to contact you? Later? After?"

I'm going to need some time.

He turned and left then, anger and anguish filling his mind. I felt pity for the boy. I also felt for the young, limp woman in my arms. The days ahead of her would be excruciating, I knew.

A few miles away from the clearing, as my siblings and I ran for home, I heard a lone, heartwrenching wolf cry.

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