I was sprawled out on the roof of the Forks Cullen house, waiting, when Carlisle found me again.
“You are going to lose this one, you know that, right?”
“Don’t claim victory just yet, old man.”
“Now why shouldn’t I?”
“Because,” I crawled to the peak of the roof and looked over to the other side, “of that.” I pointed to the old truck making its way down the path toward the house. “Bella is still visiting old haunts and places that remind me of her. She hasn’t given up on me.” I hoped she never would. “She’s still trying to hear my voice again.”
We both became silent and ducked behind the apex of the roof as she scanned the outside of the house. She went inside, and I knew she was taking stock of all that had been there, and all that was left now. There was less than there had been when we were living there, proof-positive that we had moved on, as far as mortal eyes could tell.
A few minutes later she emerged from the house and got back into her truck, stifling a sob as she went. There were trails of tears on her cheeks. Excellent; good news for me.
“She sure took off in a hurry. Where do you suppose she’s going?”
I knew Carlisle well enough by now to know he knew damn well where she was going, so I didn’t bother trying to lie. “Probably to her puppy boy-toy,” I answered glumly.
“She can’t have you, so she runs after him. That seems pretty convincing that she doesn’t need you anymore. Admit defeat already.”
“No. She’s still looking for me. If I came back, she would jump right into my arms, I know it.”
Carlisle folded his arms and gave me one of his “looks.” At the rate you’re going, you won’t admit I’ve won until they’re consummating their marriage.”
He leaned in to whisper, “And I can tell you I’m not willing to wait that long.” He abruptly jumped off the roof and vanished into the forest. His meaning was all too clear: I didn’t have very much time left before he declared victory, no matter what I said.
And there would be nothing I could do about it.
The next few days were at least a partial relief. Bella had school, so I was able to keep watch on her a good portion of the day, anyway.
J-friend still wouldn’t talk to her, something I didn’t really blame her for, but two of her friends were willing to forgive and forget, it seemed. Bummer. Her guy friend, who still had a crush on her, tried to ask her out, and she all but turned him down flat. That made me happy. They did plan a group movie night, which made me a little wary.
It was when she went home that I was given a horrifying surprise. Puppy’s vehicle was in the driveway. He was waiting for her to come home. Wait, she invited him inside?! No, don’t do it! Oh. How cute; they’re study buddies.Bella, how could you? We were never study buddies! Maybe that was the problem. We never did cutesy normal things together, which would have reminded her of me every day. Instead, we mostly had special places and events, like the meadow and the house and that stupid baseball game. Edward, you are a loser, I said to myself.
So, what are you going to do about it? I answered myself.
First, I have to rid her of her obsession with this puppy.
And how are you going to do that?
I have to get her thinking about me again. Wait, she may or may not have heard me in her head before, but either way, she already believes that she heard my voice.
So, if I started actively projecting my voice inside her head, she may think it’s just a continuation of the phenomenon, as long as it’s sporadic, or at least seems incidental.
That sounds like a good plan. What next?
Next, I’m going to stop having two-person conversations in my own head; I’m pretty sure that’s a sign of insanity.
Then again, maybe I talk to myself because it’s nice to get an expert opinion every now and then.
The next day Bell got a call from Jacob the Puppy. It sounded to me like my first death peal, even though I could only hear Bella’s side of the conversation.
“Hey, Jake...they’re done? I can’t believe it!...Jacob, you are absolutely, without a doubt, the most talented and wonderful person I know. You get ten years for this one.” Wait, what the hell did that mean? Ten years of what? The thought was already long gone from her mind, and all she could think about was her precious motorcycles. Ten years of what?
Bella laughed. “I’m on my way up!” And off she went.
“Where’s the fire?” Charlie said as she gunned the engine.
That's what I wanted to know. Even if she was excited about getting the motorcycles, she still seemed way too eager to join puppy-boy and spend time with him. I was starting to fear that Carlisle was right. Maybe I had already lost. Not that I would admit that to him anytime soon.
I almost stalked off to sulk in disgust, when I remembered exactly what Bella had said: “They’re done.” Of course! Today they begin riding lessons!
So I stuck around the edge of the res’, waiting from them to emerge. After all, the area around the reservation is not prime motorbike riding ground, at least not for beginners. I was rewarded for my diligence with the sight of Bella and her puppy tag-along taking the bikes south of town in her pickup. Bella was driving slowly along the trail, glancing over at the ocean every now and again, when they came upon some cliff divers poised at the top of the precipice. One of them humped, and Bella hit the brake, causing both in the cab to be thrown forward.
“What’s wrong?”Jacob shouted, alarmed.
“That guy-he just jumped off the cliff! Why didn’t they stop him? We’ve got to call an ambulance! she threw open her door and started to get out.
Jacob laughed. “They’re just cliff diving, Bella. Recreation. La Push doesn’t have a mall, you know.”
A second figure stepped to the edge, paused, and then very gracefully leaped into space. He fell into the dark waves below.
“Wow, it’s so high! It must be a hundred feet,” Bella said in awe.
“Most of us jump from lower down, that rock that juts out about halfway down. Those guys are insane. Probably showing off how tough they are. I mean, it’s freezing today. That water can’t feel good.”
“You jump off the cliff?”
“Sure. It’s fun. A little scary, but kind of a rush.”
She looked back at the cliffs, where the third figure was pacing the edge. Her eyes widened, and she smiled. Uh-oh…”Jake, you have to take me cliff diving.”
Oh, fabulous. Now she wanted to fling herself off a sea cliff into the dubious landing pad of the ocean. That wasn’t reckless at all. I was starting to believe that she was actually trying to find creative ways to kill herself. To my great relief, Jacob managed to convince her to forget cliff-diving, at least for the present, by drawing her attention to their original plans.
“Are we going to try out the bikes or not?” he demanded.
“Okay, okay,” she replied, and her seat belt back on and closed the door. They started down the road again.
Jacob started talking about “the La Push gang” and how the leader was starting to freak him out with all the special attention. Hm...sounds very homo-erotic to me. These wolves might be more entertaining than I first believed. All in all, not very interesting, though. They’re all becoming weird, he doesn’t know them anymore, yada yada, don’t worry young pup, you’ll understand soon enough when you join their ranks.
Soon Bella was perched on the bike, nervously gripping the clutch and trying to remember how everything worked. She didn’t get it at first. I guess she finally did, because puppy was backing away. I couldn’t let this go on. She was liable to get herself killed, at this rate.
This is reckless and childish and idiotic, Bella, I projected angrily at her.
She gasped and cried out. The bike jerked forward and tipped over, trapping Bella beneath.
“Bella! Are you hurt?” He went over to lift the bike off her.
I told you so.
Oh no. It looked like she was more obsessed with me than I thought. Hearing my voice in her head had given her insane inspiration: she wanted to do crazy, stupid, reckless things just to hear me tell her not to. This surveillance was turning into a full-time job. No,even worse than that. People working full-time jobs could at least clock out at the end of the day.
“Let’s try again,” she demanded.
“Are you sure?”
This time she tried to get the kick-start herself. It was complicated; she had to jump a little to slam down on the pedal with enough force, and every time she did that, the bike came unbalanced.It took several good tries, and even more poor tries, before the engine caught and roared to life. She revved the throttle experimentally. It snarled. Her smile mirrored puppy-boy’s now.
“Easy on the clutch,” he said.
This was going too far; I had to do whatever I could to put a stop to it. Do you want to kill yourself, then? Is that what this is about? I projected again, in what I hoped was a severe tone. She wasn’t about to listen to me, it seemed. Go home to Charlie, I tried again, hoping that a direct order might get my message across.
“I will.” Whether she was answering me, or something the other guy had just said, quickly became irrelevant. At that moment, Bella found the right combination of clutch release and gas, first gear caught, and she surged forward. Once she caught that first burst of speed, she wanted to go even faster. Bella was now an adrenaline-junkie, apparently; who knew?
She was approaching a curve in the road. She didn’t know how to turn; it was different on a motorcycle, and she wasn’t even paying attention! No, Bella! Watch what you’re doing! My plea brought her attention to the road ahead, and she applied the brakes, but with too much force. The bike went into a skid, sliding across the pavement with Bella trapped beneath. That would leave some impressive road rash. She was pretty beaten up, had a sizable head gash, and needed medical attention.
Bell insisted she was fine and wanted to try again.
WHAT?! You are far from fine and are bleeding from a head wound! That needs to be looked at! Now be a good girl and let Jacob take care of you. Wait, had I seriously thought that? Ugh. This girl might just run me ragged before this was all over. I needed to hunt, I needed fresh blood, but I didn’t dare take my eyes off for a second!
Lucky for me, puppy was as adamant as I was about getting her help, and he drove her into town to get her patched up.
Valentine’s Day arrived. We were so caught up in our own problems, Bella and I both missed it; or we would have, if Puppy-boy hadn’t shown up at her house with a small box of...conversation hearts. How...cute. I never did anything cute. All we had was...I wanted her, and she wanted to jump my bones, so to speak. I’ll need to remember this for the future. I haven’t given up yet. Not yet.
It was a relief when she made a date to go to a movie with friends on night. That meant a couple hours where she couldn’t possibly get into trouble; or at least, the possibility of it was drastically decreased. If Bella has her way, they would watch some graphic “gore-porn” flick. Nice.
Yet, with all of my optimism over making it through this, I couldn’t help thinking, in spite of that, this cannot end well. Especially with Jacob hanging on her every word and wanting to please her like-well, like a puppy dog. In this case, the word was surprisingly perfect. As of now, Bella was all but unresponsive to his advances, but that couldn’t last forever. She already did practically everything with him in her spare time. She felt close to him, but still just friends. I only hoped that arrangement would last long enough for me to officially return.