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The Twilight Saga 2: New Moon

The Twilight Saga 2: New Moon: Page 21

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For the first time in more than four months, I'd slept without dreaming. Dreaming or screaming. I couldn't tell which emotion was stronger��the relief or the shock.

I lay still in my bed for a few minutes, waiting for it to come back. Because something must be coming. If not the pain, then the numbness. I waited, but nothing happened. I felt more rested than I had in a long time.

I didn't trust this to last. It was a slippery, precarious edge that I balanced on, and it wouldn't take much to knock me back down. Just glancing around my room with these suddenly clear eyes��noticing how strange it looked, too tidy, like I didn't live here at all��was dangerous.

I pushed that thought from my mind, and concentrated, as I got dressed, on the fact that I was going to see Jacob again today. The thought made me feel almost�� hopeful. Maybe it would be the same as yesterday. Maybe I wouldn't have to remind myself to look interested and to nod or smile at appropriate intervals, the way I had to with everyone else. Maybe�� but I wouldn't trust this to last, either. Wouldn't trust it to be the same��so easy��as yesterday. I wasn't going to set myself up for disappointment like that.

At breakfast, Charlie was being careful, too. He tried to hide his scrutiny, keeping his eyes on his eggs until he thought I wasn't looking.

"What are you up to today?" he asked, eyeing a loose thread on the edge of his cuff like he wasn't paying much attention to my answer.

"I'm going to hang out with Jacob again."

He nodded without looking up. "Oh," he said.

"Do you mind?" I pretended to worry. "I could stay��"

He glanced up quickly, a hint of panic in his eyes. "No, no! You go ahead. Harry was going to come up to watch the game with me anyway."

"Maybe Harry could give Billy a ride up," I suggested. The fewer witnesses the better.

"That's a great idea."

I wasn't sure if the game was just an excuse for kicking me out, but he looked excited enough now. He headed to the phone while I donned my rain jacket. I felt self-conscious with the checkbook shoved in my jacket pocket. It was something I never used.

Outside, the rain came down like water slopped from a bucket. I had to drive more slowly than I wanted to; I could hardly see a car length in front of the truck. But I finally made it through the muddy lanes to Jacob's house. Before I'd killed the engine, the front door opened and Jacob came running out with a huge black umbrella.

He held it over my door while I opened it.

"Charlie called��said you were on your way," Jacob explained with a grin.

Effortlessly, without a conscious command to the muscles around my lips, my answering smile spread across my face. A strange feeling of warmth bubbled up in my throat, despite the icy rain splattering on my cheeks.

"Hi, Jacob."

"Good call on inviting Billy up." He held up his hand for a high five.

I had to reach so high to slap his hand that he laughed.

Harry showed up to get Billy just a few minutes later. Jacob took me on a brief tour of his tiny room while we waited to be unsupervised.

"So where to, Mr. Goodwrench?" I asked as soon as the door closed behind Billy.

Jacob pulled a folded paper out of his pocket and smoothed it out. "We'll start at the dump first, see if we can get lucky. This could get a little expensive," he warned me. "Those bikes are going to need a lot of help before they'll run again." My face didn't look worried enough, so he continued. "I'm talking about maybe more than a hundred dollars here."

I pulled my checkbook out, fanned myself with it, and rolled my eyes at his worries. "We're covered."

It was a very strange kind of day. I enjoyed myself. Even at the dump, in the slopping rain and ankle-deep mud. I wondered at first if it was just the aftershock of losing the numbness, but I didn't think that was enough of an explanation.

I was beginning to think it was mostly Jacob. It wasn't just that he was always so happy to see me, or that he didn't watch me out of the corner of his eye, waiting for me to do something that would mark me as crazy or depressed. It was nothing that related to me at all.

It was Jacob himself. Jacob was simply a perpetually happy person, and he carried that happiness with him like an aura, sharing it with whoever was near him. Like an earthbound sun, whenever someone was within his gravitational pull, Jacob warmed them. It was natural, a part of who he was. No wonder I was so eager to see him.

Even when he commented on the gaping hole in my dashboard, it didn't send me into a panic like it should have.

"Did the stereo break?" he wondered.

"Yeah," I lied.

He poked around in the cavity. "Who took it out? There's a lot of damage��"

"I did," I admitted.

He laughed. "Maybe you shouldn't touch the motorcycles too much."

"No problem."

According to Jacob, we did get lucky at the dump. He was very excited about several grease-blackened pieces of twisted metal that he found; I was just impressed that he could tell what they were supposed to be.

From there we went to the Checker Auto Parts down in Hoquiam. In my truck, it was more than a two hour drive south on the winding freeway, but the time passed easily with Jacob. He chattered about his friends and his school, and I found myself asking questions, not even pretending, truly curious to hear what he had to say.

"I'm doing all the talking," he complained after a long story about Quil and the trouble he'd stirred up by asking out a senior's steady girlfriend. "Why don't you take a turn? What's going on in Forks? It has to be more exciting than La Push."

"Wrong," I sighed. "There's really nothing. Your friends are a lot more interesting than mine. I like your friends. Quil's funny."

He frowned. "I think Quil likes you, too."

I laughed. "He's a little young for me."

Jacob's frown deepened. "He's not that much younger than you. It's just a year and a few months."

I had a feeling we weren't talking about Quil anymore. I kept my voice light, teasing. "Sure, but, considering the difference in maturity between guys and girls, don't you have to count that in dog years? What does that make me, about twelve years older?"

He laughed, rolling his eyes. "Okay, but if you're going to get picky like that, you have to average in size, too. You're so small, I'll have to knock ten years off your total."

"Five foot four is perfectly average." I sniffed. "It's not my fault you're a freak."

We bantered like that till Hoquiam, still arguing over the correct formula to determine age��I lost two more years because I didn't know how to change a tire, but gained one back for being in charge of the bookkeeping at my house��until we were in Checker, and Jacob had to concentrate again. We found everything left on his list, and Jacob felt confident that he could make a lot of progress with our haul.

By the time we got back to La Push, I was twenty-three and he was thirty��he was definitely weighting skills in his favor.

I hadn't forgotten the reason for what I was doing. And, even though I was enjoying myself more than I'd thought possible, there was no lessening of my original desire. I still wanted to cheat. It was senseless, and I really didn't care. I was going to be as reckless as I could possibly manage in Forks. I would not be the only keeper of an empty contract. Getting to spend time with Jacob was just a much bigger perk than I'd expected.

Billy wasn't back yet, so we didn't have to be sneaky about unloading our day's spoils. As soon as we had everything laid out on the plastic floor next to Jacob's toolbox, he went right to work, still talking and laughing while his fingers combed expertly through the metal pieces in front of him.

Jacob's skill with his hands was fascinating. They looked too big for the delicate tasks they performed with ease and precision. While he worked, he seemed almost graceful. Unlike when he was on his feet; there, his height and big feet made him nearly as dangerous as I was.

Quil and Embry did not show up, so maybe his threat yesterday had been taken seriously.

The day passed too quickly. It got dark outside the mouth of the garage before I was expecting it, and then we heard Billy calling for us.

I jumped up to help Jacob put things away, hesitating because I wasn't sure what I should touch.

"Just leave it," he said. "I'll work on it later tonight."

"Don't forget your schoolwork or anything," I said, feeling a little guilty. I didn't want him to get in trouble. That plan was just for me.


Both our heads snapped up as Charlie's familiar voice wafted through the trees, sounding closer than the house.

"Shoot," I muttered. "Coming!" I yelled toward the house.

"Let's go." Jacob smiled, enjoying the cloak-and-dagger. He snapped the light off, and for a moment I was blind. Jacob grabbed my hand and towed me out of the garage and through the trees, his feet finding the familiar path easily.

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