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The Twilight Saga 2: New Moon: Page 28
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I'm an easy bleeder. It's not nearly as dire as it looks."
Jacob wasn't happy��his full mouth turned down in an uncharacteristic frown��but he didn't want to get me in trouble. I stared out the window, holding his ruined shirt to my head, while he drove me to Forks.
The motorcycle was better than I'd dreamed. It had served its original purpose. I'd cheated��broken my promise. I'd been needlessly reckless. I felt a little less pathetic now that the promises had been broken on both sides.
And then to discover the key to the hallucinations! At least, I hoped I had. I was going to test the theory as soon as possible. Maybe they'd get through with me quickly in the ER, and I could try again tonight.
Racing down the road like that had been amazing. The feel of the wind in my face, the speed and the freedom�� it reminded me of a past life, flying through the thick forest without a road, piggyback while he ran��I stopped thinking right there, letting the memory break off in the sudden agony. I flinched.
"You still okay?" Jacob checked.
"Yeah." I tried to sound as convincing as before.
"By the way," he added. "I'm going to disconnect your foot brake tonight."
At home, I went to look at myself in the mirror first thing; it was pretty gruesome. Blood was drying in thick streaks across my cheek and neck, matting in my muddy hair. I examined myself clinically, pretending the blood was paint so it wouldn't upset my stomach. I breathed through my mouth, and was fine.
I washed up as well as I could. Then I hid my dirty, bloody clothes in the bottom of my laundry basket, putting on new jeans and a button-up shirt (that I didn't have to pull over my head) as carefully as I could. I managed to do this one-handed and keep both garments blood-free.
"Hurry up," Jacob called.
"Okay, okay," I shouted back. After making sure I left nothing incriminating behind me, I headed downstairs.
"How do I look?" I asked him.
"Better," he admitted.
"But do I look like I tripped in your garage and hit my head on a hammer?"
"Sure, I guess so."
"Let's go then."
Jacob hurried me out the door, and insisted on driving again. We were halfway to the hospital when I realized he was still shirtless.
I frowned guiltily. "We should have grabbed you a jacket."
"That would have given us away," he teased. "Besides, it's not cold."
"Are you kidding?" I shivered and reached out to turn the heat on.
I watched Jacob to see if he was just playing tough so I wouldn't worry, but he looked comfortable enough. He had one arm over the back of my seat, though I was huddled up to keep warm.
Jacob really did look older than sixteen��not quite forty, but maybe older than me. Quil didn't have too much on him in the muscle department, for all that Jacob claimed to be a skeleton. The muscles were the long wiry kind, but they were definitely there under the smooth skin. His skin was such a pretty color, it made me jealous.
Jacob noticed my scrutiny.
"What?" he asked, suddenly self-conscious.
"Nothing. I just hadn't realized before. Did you know, you're sort of beautiful?"
Once the words slipped out, I worried that he might take my impulsive observation the wrong way.
But Jacob just rolled his eyes. "You hit your head pretty hard, didn't you?"
"Well, then, thanks. Sort of."
I grinned. "You're sort of welcome."
I had to have seven stitches to c lose the cut on my forehead. After the sting of the local anesthetic, there was no pain in the procedure. Jacob held my hand while Dr. Snow was sewing, and I tried not to think about why that was ironic.
We were at the hospital forever. By the time I was done, I had to drop Jacob off at his home and hurry back to cook dinner for Charlie. Charlie seemed to buy my story about falling in Jacob's garage. After all, it wasn't like I hadn't been able to land myself in the ER before with no more help than my own feet.
This night was not as bad as that first night, after I'd heard the perfect voice in Port Angeles. The hole came back, the way it always did when I was away from Jacob, but it didn't throb so badly around the edges. I was already planning ahead, looking forward to more delusions, and that was a distraction. Also, I knew I would feel better tomorrow when I was with Jacob again. That made the empty hole and the familiar pain easier to bear; relief was in sight. The nightmare, too, had lost a little of its potency. I was horrified by the nothingness, as always, but I was also strangely impatient as I waited for the moment that would send me screaming into consciousness. I knew the nightmare had to end.
The next Wednesday, before I could get home from the ER, Dr. Gerandy called to warn my father that I might possibly have a concussion and advised him to wake me up every two hours through the night to make sure it wasn't serious. Charlie's eyes narrowed suspiciously at my weak explanation about tripping again.
"Maybe you should just stay out of the garage altogether, Bella," he suggested that night during dinner.
I panicked, worried that Charlie was about to lay down some kind of edict that would prohibit La Push, and consequently my motorcycle. And I wasn't giving it up��I'd had the most amazing hallucination today. My velvet-voiced delusion had yelled at me for almost five minutes before I'd hit the brake too abruptly and launched myself into the tree. I'd take whatever pain that would cause me tonight without complaint.
"This didn't happen in the garage," I protested quickly. "We were hiking, and I tripped over a rock."
"Since when do you hike?" Charlie asked skeptically.
"Working at Newton's was bound to rub off sometime," I pointed out. "Spend every day selling all the virtues of the outdoors, eventually you get curious."
Charlie glared at me, unconvinced.
"I'll be more careful," I promised, surreptitiously crossing my fingers under the table.
"I don't mind you hiking right there around La Push, but keep close to town, okay?"
"Well, we've been getting a lot of wildlife complaints lately. The forestry department is going to check into it, but for the time being��"
"Oh, the big bear," I said with sudden comprehension.
"Yeah, some of the hikers coming through Newton's have seen it. Do you think there's really some giant mutated grizzly out there?"
His forehead creased. "There's something. Keep it close to town, okay?"
"Sure, sure," I said quickly. He didn't look completely appeased.
"Charlie's getting nosy," I complained to Jacob when I picked him up after school Friday.
"Maybe we should cool it with the bikes." He saw my objecting expression and added, "At least for a week or so. You could stay out of the hospital for a week, right?"
"What are we going to do?" I griped.
He smiled cheerfully. "What ever you want."
I thought about that for a minute��about what I wanted.
I hated the idea of losing even my brief seconds of closeness with the memories that didn't hurt��the ones that came on their own, without me thinking of them consciously. If I couldn't have the bikes, I was going to have to find some other avenue to the danger and the adrenaline, and that was going to take serious thought and creativity. Doing nothing in the meantime was not appealing. Suppose I got depressed again, even with Jake? I had to keep occupied.
Maybe there was some other way, some other recipe�� some other place.
The house had been a mistake, certainly. But his presence must be stamped somewhere, somewhere other than inside me. There had to be a place where he seemed more real than among all the familiar landmarks that were crowded with other human memories.
I could think of one place where that might hold true. One place that would always belong to him and no one else. A magic place, full of light. The beautiful meadow I'd seen only once in my life, lit by sunshine and the sparkle of his skin.
This idea had a huge potential for backfiring��it might be dangerously painful. My chest ached with emptiness even to think of it. It was hard to hold myself upright, to not give myself away. But surely, there of all places, I could hear his voice. And I'd already told Charlie I was hiking��
"What are you thinking about so hard?" Jacob asked.
"Well��" I began slowly. "I found this place in the forest once��I came across it when I was, um, hiking. A little meadow, the most beautiful place. I don't know if I could track it down again on my own. It would definitely take a few tries��"
"We could use a compass and a grid pattern," Jacob said with confident helpfulness. "Do you know where you started from?"
"Yes, just below the trailhead where the one-ten ends. I was going mostly south, I think."
"Cool. We'll find it." As always, Jacob was game for anything I wanted. No matter how strange it was.
So, Saturday afternoon, I tied on my new hiking boots��purchased that morning using my twenty-per-cent-off employee discount for the first time��grabbed my new topographical map of the Olympic Peninsula, and drove to La Push.
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