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The Twilight Saga 2: New Moon: Page 12
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My eyes closed.
"Take care of yourself," he breathed, cool against my skin.
There was a light, unnatural breeze. My eyes flashed open. The leaves on a small vine maple shuddered with the gentle wind of his passage.
He was gone.
With shaky legs, ignoring the fact that my action was useless, I followed him into the forest.
The evidence of his path had disappeared instantly. There were no footprints, the leaves were still again, but I walked forward without thinking. I could not do anything else. I had to keep moving. If I stopped looking for him, it was over.
Love, life, meaning�� over.
I walked and walked. Time made no sense as I pushed slowly through the thick undergrowth. It was hours passing, but also only seconds. Maybe it felt like time had frozen because the forest looked the same no matter how far I went. I started to worry that I was traveling in a circle, a very small circle at that, but I kept going. I stumbled often, and, as it grew darker and darker, I fell often, too.
Finally, I tripped over something��it was black now, I had no idea what caught my foot��and I stayed down. I rolled onto my side, so that I could breathe, and curled up on the wet bracken.
As I lay there, I had a feeling that more time was passing than I realized. I couldn't remember how long it had been since nightfall. Was it always so dark here at night? Surely, as a rule, some little bit of moonlight would filter down through the clouds, through the chinks in the canopy of trees, and find the ground.
Not tonight. Tonight the sky was utterly black. Perhaps there was no moon tonight��a lunar eclipse, a new moon.
A new moon. I shivered, though I wasn't cold.
It was black for a long time before I heard them calling.
Someone was shouting my name. It was muted, muffled by the wet growth that surrounded me, but it was definitely my name. I didn't recognize the voice. I thought about answering, but I was dazed, and it took a long time to come to the conclusion that I should answer. By then, the calling had stopped.
Sometime later, the rain woke me up. I don't think I'd really fallen asleep; I was just lost in an unthinking stupor, holding with all my strength to the numbness that kept me from realizing what I didn't want to know.
The rain bothered me a little. It was cold. I unwrapped my arms from around my legs to cover my face.
It was then that I heard the calling again. It was farther away this time, and sometimes it sounded like several voices were calling at once. I tried to breathe deeply. I remembered that I should answer, but I didn't think they would be able to hear me. Would I be able to shout loud enough?
Suddenly, there was another sound, startlingly close. A kind of snuffling, an animal sound. It sounded big. I wondered if I should feel afraid. I didn't��just numb. It didn't matter. The snuffling went away.
The rain continued, and I could feel the water pooling up against my cheek. I was trying to gather the strength to turn my head when I saw the light.
At first it was just a dim glow reflecting off the bushes in the distance. It grew brighter and brighter, illuminating a large space unlike the focused beam of a flashlight. The light broke through the closest brush, and I could see that it was a propane lantern, but that was all I could see��the brightness blinded me for a moment.
The voice was deep and unfamiliar, but full of recognition. He wasn't calling my name to search, he was acknowledging that I was found.
I stared up��impossibly high it seemed��at the dark face that I could now see above me. I was vaguely aware that the stranger probably only looked so tall because my head was still on the ground.
"Have you been hurt?"
I knew the words meant something, but I could only stare, bewildered. How could the meaning matter at this point?
"Bella, my name is Sam Uley."
There was nothing familiar about his name.
"Charlie sent me to look for you."
Charlie? That struck a chord, and I tried to pay more attention to what he was saying. Charlie mattered, if nothing else did.
The tall man held out a hand. I gazed at it, not sure what I was supposed to do.
His black eyes appraised me for a second, and then he shrugged. In a quick and supple notion, he pulled me up from the ground and into his arms.
I hung there, limp, as he loped swiftly through the wet forest. Some part of me knew this should upset me��being carried away by a stranger. But there was nothing left in me to upset.
It didn't seem like too much time passed before there were lights and the deep babble of many male voices. Sam Uley slowed as he approached the commotion.
"I've got her!" he called in a booming voice.
The babble ceased, and then picked up again with more intensity. A confusing swirl of faces moved over me. Sam's voice was the only one that made sense in the chaos, perhaps because my ear was against his chest.
"No, I don't think she's hurt," he told someone. "She just keeps saying 'He's gone.' "
Was I saying that out loud? I bit down on my lip.
"Bella, honey, are you all right?"
That was one voice I would know anywhere��even distorted, as it was now, with worry.
"Charlie?" My voice sounded strange and small.
"I'm right here, baby."
There was a shifting under me, followed by the leathery smell of my dad's sheriff jacket. Charlie staggered under my weight.
"Maybe I should hold on to her," Sam Uley suggested.
"I've got her," Charlie said, a little breathless.
He walked slowly, struggling. I wished I could tell him to put me down and let me walk, but I couldn't find my voice.
There were lights everywhere, held by the crowd walking with him. It felt like a parade. Or a funeral procession. I closed my eyes.
"We're almost home now, honey," Charlie mumbled now and then.
I opened my eyes again when I heard the door unlock. We were on the porch of our house, and the tall dark man named Sam was holding the door for Charlie, one arm extended toward us, as if he was preparing to catch me when Charlie's arms failed.
But Charlie managed to get me through the door and to the couch in the living room.
"Dad, I'm all wet," I objected feebly.
"That doesn't matter." His voice was gruff. And then he was talking to someone else. "Blankets are in the cupboard at the top of the stairs."
"Bella?" a new voice asked. I looked at the gray-haired man leaning over me, and recognition came after a few slow seconds.
"Dr. Gerandy?" I mumbled.
"That's right, dear," he said. "Are you hurt, Bella?"
It took me a minute to think that through. I was confused by the memory of Sam Uley's similar question in the woods. Only Sam had asked something else: Have you been hurt? he'd said. The difference seemed significant somehow.
Dr. Gerandy was waiting. One grizzled eyebrow rose, and the wrinkles on his forehead deepened.
"I'm not hurt," I lied. The words, were true enough for what he'd asked.
His warm hand touched my forehead, and his fingers pressed against the inside of my wrist. I watched his lips as he counted to himself, his eyes on his watch.
"What happened to you?" he asked casually.
I froze under his hand, tasting panic in the back of my throat.
"Did you get lost in the woods?" he prodded. I was aware of several other people listening. Three tall men with dark faces��from La Push, the Quileute Indian reservation down on the coastline, I guessed��Sam Uley among them, were standing very close together and staring at me. Mr. Newton was there with Mike and Mr. Weber, Angela's father; they all were watching me more surreptitiously than the strangers. Other deep voices rumbled from the kitchen and outside the front door. Half the town must have been looking for me.
Charlie was the closest. He leaned in to hear my answer.
"Yes," I whispered. "I got lost."
The doctor nodded, thoughtful, his fingers probing gently against the glands under my jaw. Charlie's face hardened.
"Do you feel tired?" Dr. Gerandy asked.
I nodded and closed my eyes obediently.
"I don't think there's anything wrong with her," I heard the doctor mutter to Charlie after a moment. "Just exhaustion. Let her sleep it off, and I'll come check on her tomorrow," he paused. He must have looked at his watch, because he added, "Well, later today actually."
There was a creaking sound as they both pushed off from the couch to get to their feet.
"Is it true?" Charlie whispered. Their voices were farther away now. I strained to hear. "Did they leave?"
"Dr. Cullen asked us not to say anything," Dr. Gerandy answered. "The offer was very sudden; they had to choose immediately. Carlisle didn't want to make a big production out of leaving."
"A little warning might have been nice," Charlie grumbled.
Dr. Gerandy sounded uncomfortable when he replied. "Yes, well, in this situation, some warning might have been called for."
I didn't want to listen anymore
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