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The Twilight Saga 2: New Moon: Page 27
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"Steady there," he encouraged. "Do you still have the clutch?"
"Yes," I gasped.
"Plant your feet��I'm going to try again." But he put his hand on the back of the seat, too, just to be safe.
It took four more kicks before the ignition caught. I could feel the bike rumbling beneath me like an angry animal. I gripped the clutch until my fingers ached.
"Try out the throttle," he suggested. "Very lightly. And don't let go of the clutch."
Hesitantly, I twisted the right handle. Though the movement was tiny, the bike snarled beneath me. It sounded angry and hungry now. Jacob smiled in deep satisfaction.
"Do you remember how to put it into first gear?" he asked.
"Well, go ahead and do it."
He waited for a few seconds.
"Left foot," he prompted.
"I know," I said, taking a deep breath.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Jacob asked. "You look scared."
"I'm fine," I snapped. I kicked the gearshift down one notch.
"Very good," he praised me. "Now, very gently, ease up on the clutch."
He took a step away from the bike.
"You want me to let go of the grenade?" I asked in disbelief. No wonder he was moving back.
"That's how you move, Bella. Just do it little by little."
As I began to loosen my grip, I was shocked to be interrupted by a voice that did not belong to the boy standing next to me.
"This is reckless and childish and idiotic, Bella," the velvet voice fumed.
"Oh!" I gasped, and my hand fell off the clutch.
The bike bucked under me, yanking me forward and then collapsing to the ground half on top of me. The growling engine choked to a stop.
"Bella?" Jacob jerked the heavy bike off me with ease. "Are you hurt?"
But I wasn't listening.
"I told you so," the perfect voice murmured, crystal clear.
"Bella?" Jacob shook my shoulder.
"I'm fine," I mumbled, dazed.
More than fine. The voice in my head was back. It still rang in my ears��soft, velvety echoes.
My mind ran swiftly through the possibilities. There was no familiarity here��on a road I'd never seen, doing something I'd never done before��no deja vu So the hallucinations must be triggered by something else�� I felt the adrenaline coursing through my veins again, and I thought I had the answer. Some combination of adrenaline and danger, or maybe just stupidity.
Jacob was pulling me to my feet.
"Did you hit your head?" he asked.
"I don't think so." I shook it back and forth, checking. "I didn't hurt the bike, did I?" This thought worried me. I was anxious to try again, right away. Being reckless was paying off better than I'd thought. Forget cheating. Maybe I'd found a way to generate the hallucinations��that was much more important.
"No. You just stalled the engine," Jacob said, interrupting my quick speculations. "You let go of the clutch too fast."
I nodded. "Let's try again."
"Are you sure?" Jacob asked.
This time I tried to get the kick-start myself. It was complicated; I had to jump a little to slam down on the pedal with enough force, and every time I did that, the bike tried to knock me over. Jacob's hand hovered over the handlebars, ready to catch me if I needed him.
It took several good tries, and even more poor tries, before the engine caught and roared to life under me. Remembering to hold on to the grenade, I revved the throttle experimentally. It snarled at the slightest touch. My smile mirrored Jacob's now.
"Easy on the clutch," he reminded me.
"Do you want to kill yourself, then? Is that what this is about?" the other voice spoke again, his tone severe.
I smiled tightly��it was still working��and ignored the questions. Jacob wasn't going to let anything serious happen to me.
"Go home to Charlie," the voice ordered. The sheer beauty of it amazed me. I couldn't allow my memory to lose it, no matter the price.
"Ease off slowly," Jacob encouraged me.
"I will," I said. It bothered me a bit when I realized I was answering both of them.
The voice in my head growled against the roar of the motorcycle.
Trying to focus this time, to not let the voice startle me again, I relaxed my hand by tiny degrees. Suddenly, the gear caught and wrenched me forward.
And I was flying.
There was wind that wasn't there before, blowing my skin against my skull and flinging my hair back behind me with enough force that it felt like someone was tugging on it. I'd left my stomach back at the starting point; the adrenaline coursed through my body, tingling in my veins. The trees raced past me, blurring into a wall of green.
But this was only first gear. My foot itched toward the gearshift as I twisted for more gas.
"No, Bella!" the angry, honey-sweet voice ordered in my ear. "Watch what you're doing!"
It distracted me enough from the speed to realize that the road was starting a slow curve to the left, and I was still going straight. Jacob hadn't told me how to turn.
"Brakes, brakes," I muttered to myself, and I instinctively slammed down with my right foot, like I would in my truck.
The bike was suddenly unstable underneath me, shivering first to one side and then the other.
It was dragging me toward the green wall, and I was going too fast. I tried to turn the handlebar the other direction, and the sudden shift of my weight pushed the bike toward the ground, still spinning toward the trees.
The motorcycle landed on top of me again, roaring loudly, pulling me across the wet sand until it hit something stationary. I couldn't see. My face was mashed into the moss. I tried to lift my head, but there was something in the way.
I was dizzy and confused. It sounded like there were three things snarling��the bike over me, the voice in my head, and something else��
"Bella!" Jacob yelled, and I heard the roar of the other bike cut off.
The motorcycle no longer pinned me to the ground, and I rolled over to breathe. All the growling went silent.
"Wow," I murmured. I was thrilled. This had to be it, the recipe for a hallucination��adrenaline plus clanger plus stupidity. Something close to that, anyway.
"Bella!" Jacob was crouching over me anxiously. "Bella, are you alive?"
"I'm great!" I enthused. I flexed my arms and legs. Everything seemed to be working correctly. "Let's do itagain."
"I don't think so." Jacob still sounded worried. "I think I'd better drive you to the hospital first."
"Um, Bella? You've got a huge cut on your forehead, and it's gushing blood," he informed me.
I clapped my hand over my head. Sure enough, it was wet and sticky. I could smell nothing but the damp moss on my face, and that held off the nausea.
"Oh, I'm so sorry, Jacob." I pushed hard against the gash, as if I could force the blood back inside my head.
"Why are you apologizing for bleeding?" he wondered as he wrapped a long arm around my waist and pulled me to my feet. "Let's go. I'll drive." He held out his hand for the keys.
"What about the bikes?" I asked, handing them over.
He thought for a second. "Wait here. And take this." He pulled off his T-shirt, already spotted with blood, and threw it to me. I wadded it up and held it tightly to my forehead. I was starting to smell the blood; I breathed deeply through my mouth and tried to concentrate on something else.
Jacob jumped on the black motorcycle, kicked it to a start in one try, and raced back down the road, spraying sand and pebbles behind him. He looked athletic and professional as he leaned over the handlebars, head low, face forward, his shiny hair whipping against the russet skin of his back. My eyes narrowed enviously. I was sure I hadn't looked like that on my motorcycle.
I was surprised at how far I'd gone. I could barely see Jacob in the distance when he finally got to the truck. He threw the bike into the bed and sprinted to the driver's side.
I really didn't feel bad at all as he coaxed my truck to a deafening roar in his hurry to get back to me. My head stung a little, and my stomach was uneasy, but the cut wasn't serious. Head wounds just bled more than most. His urgency wasn't necessary.
Jacob left the truck running as he raced back to me, wrapping his arm around my waist again.
"Okay, let's get you in the truck."
"I'm honestly fine," I assured him as he helped me in. "Don't get worked up. It's just a little blood."
"Just a lot of blood," I heard him mutter as he went back for my bike.
"Now, let's think about this for a second," I began when he got back in. "If you take me to the ER like this, Charlie is sure to hear about it." I glanced down at the sand and dirt caked into my jeans.
"Bella, I think you need stitches. I'm not going to let you bleed to death."
"I won't," I promised. "Let's just take the bikes back first, and then we'll make a stop at my house so I can dispose of the evidence before we go to the hospital."
"What about Charlie?"
"He said he had to work today."
"Are you really sure?"
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