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The Twilight Saga 2: New Moon

The Twilight Saga 2: New Moon: Page 35

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At that precise moment, I realized why he looked the same��too much the same. After Carlisle told us that Laurent had stayed with Tanya's family, I'd begun to picture him, on the rare occasions that I thought of him at all, with the same golden eyes that the�� Cullens��I forced the name out, wincing��had. That all good vampires had.

I took an involuntary step back, and his curious, dark red eyes followed the movement.

"Do they visit often?" he asked, still casual, but his weight shifted toward me.

"Lie," the beautiful velvet voice whispered anxiously from my memory.

I started at the sound of his voice, but it should not have surprised me. Was I nor in the worst danger imaginable? The motorcycle was safe as kittens next to this.

I did what the voice said to do.

"Now and again." I tried to make my voice light, relaxed. "The time seems longer to me, I imagine. You know how they get distracted��" I was beginning to babble. I had to work to shut myself up.

"Hmm," he said again. "The house smelled like it had been vacant for a while��"

"You must lie better than that, Bella," the voice urged.

I tried. "I'll have to mention to Carlisle that you stopped by. He'll be sorry they missed your visit." I

pretended to deliberate for a second. "But I probably shouldn't mention it to�� Edward, I suppose��" I barely managed to say his name, and it twisted my expression on the way out, ruining my bluff "��he has such a temper�� well, I'm sure you remember. He's still touchy about the whole James thing." I rolled my eyes and waved one hand dismissively, like it was all ancient history, but there was an edge of hysteria to my voice. I wondered if he would recognize what it was.

"Is he really?" Laurent asked pleasantly�� skeptically.

I kept my reply short, so that my voice wouldn't betray my panic. "Mm-hmm."

Laurent took a casual step to the side, gazing around at the little meadow. I didn't miss that the step brought him closer to me. In my head, the voice responded with a low snarl.

"So how are things working out in Denali? Carlisle said you were staying with Tanya?" My voice was too high.

The question made him pause. "I like Tanya very much," he mused. "And her sister Irina even more�� I've never stayed in one place for so long before, and I enjoy the advantages, the novelty of it. But, the restrictions are difficult�� I'm surprised that any of them can keep it up for long." He smiled at me conspiratorially. "Sometimes I cheat."

I couldn't swallow. My foot started to ease back, but I froze when his red eyes flickered down to catch the movement.

"Oh," I said in a faint voice. "Jasper has problems with that, too."

"Don't move," the voice whispered. I tried to do what he instructed. It was hard; the instinct to take flight was nearly uncontrollable.

"Really?" Laurent seemed interested. "Is that why they left?"

"No," I answered honestly. "Jasper is more careful at home."

"Yes," Laurent agreed. "I am, too."

The step forward he took now was quite deliberate.

"Did Victoria ever find you?" I asked, breathless, desperate to distract him. It was the first question that popped into my head, and I regretted it as soon as the words were spoken.
Victoria��who had hunted me with James, and then disappeared��was not someone I wanted to think of at this particular moment.

But the question did stop him.

"Yes," he said, hesitating on that step. "I actually came here as a favor to her." He made a face. "She won't be happy about this."

"About what?" I said eagerly, inviting him to continue. He was glaring into the trees, away from me. I took advantage of his diversion, taking a furtive step back.

He looked back at me and smiled��the expression made him look like a black-haired angel.

"About me killing you," he answered in a seductive purr.

I staggered back another step. The frantic growling in my head made it hard to hear.

"She wanted to save that part for herself," he went on blithely. "She's sort of�� put out with you, Bella."

"Me?" I squeaked.

He shook his head and chuckled. "I know, it seems a little backward to me, too. But James was her mate, and your Edward killed him."

Even here, on the point of death, his name tore against my unhealed wounds like a serrated edge.

Laurent was oblivious to my reaction. "She thought it more appropriate to kill you than Edward��fair turnabout, mate for mate. She asked me to get the lay of the land for her, so to speak. I didn't imagine you would be so easy to get to. So maybe her plan was flawed��apparently it wouldn't be the revenge she imagined, since you must not mean very much to him if he left you here unprotected."

Another blow, another tear through my chest.

Laurent's weight shifted slightly, and I stumbled another step back.

He frowned. "I suppose she'll be angry, all the same."

"Then why not wait for her?" I choked out.

A mischievous grin rearranged his features. "Well, you've caught me at a bad time, Bella. I didn't come to this place on Victoria's mission��I was hunting. I'm quite thirsty, and you do smell�� simply mouthwatering."

Laurent looked at me with approval, as if he meant it as a compliment.

"Threaten him," the beautiful delusion ordered, his voice distorted with dread.

"He'll know it was you," I whispered obediently. "You won't get away with this."

"And why not?" Laurent's smile widened. He gazed around the small opening in the trees. "The scent will wash away with the next rain. No one will find your body��you'll simply go missing, like so many, many other humans. There's no reason for Edward to think of me, if he cares enough to investigate. This is nothing personal, let me assure you, Bella. Just thirst."

"Beg," my hallucination begged.

"Please," I gasped.

Laurent shook his head, his face kind. "Look at it this way, Bella. You're very lucky I was the one to find you."

"Am I?" I mouthed, faltering another step back.

Laurent followed, lithe and graceful.

"Yes," he assured me. "I'll be very quick. You won't feel a thing, I promise. Oh, I'll lie to Victoria about that later, naturally, just to placate her. But if you knew what she had planned for you, Bella��" He shook his head with a slow movement, almost as if in disgust. "I swear you'd be thanking me for this."

I stared at him in horror.

He sniffed at the breeze that blew threads of my hair in his direction. "Mouthwatering," he repeated,

inhaling deeply.

I tensed for the spring, my eyes squinting as I cringed away, and the sound of Edward's furious roar echoed distantly in the back of my head. His name burst through all the walls I'd built to contain it. Edward, Edward, Edward. I was going to die. It shouldn't matter if I thought of him now. Edward, I love you.

Through my narrowed eyes, I watched as Laurent paused in the act of inhaling and whipped his head abruptly to the left. I was afraid to look away from him, to follow his glance, though he hardly needed a distraction or any other trick to overpower me. I was too amazed to feel relief when he started slowly backing away from me.

"I don't believe it," he said, his voice so low that I barely heard it.

I had to look then. My eyes scanned the meadow, searching for the interruption that had extended my life by a few seconds. At first I saw nothing, and my gaze flickered back to Laurent. He was retreating more quickly now, his eyes boring into the forest.

Then I saw it; a huge black shape eased out of the trees, quiet as a shadow, and stalked deliberately toward the vampire. It was enormous��as tall as a horse, but thicker, much more muscular. The long muzzle grimaced, revealing a line of dagger-like incisors. A grisly snarl rolled out from between the teeth, rumbling across the clearing like a prolonged crack of thunder.

The bear. Only, it wasn't a bear at all. Still, this gigantic black monster had to be the creature causing all the alarm. From a distance, anyone would assume it was a bear. What else could be so vast, so powerfully built?

I wished I were lucky enough to see it from a distance. Instead, it padded silently through the grass a mere ten feet from where I stood.

"Don't move an inch," Edward's voice whispered.

I stared at the monstrous creature, my mind boggling as I tried to put a name to it. There was a distinctly canine cast to the shape of it, the way it moved. I could only think of one possibility, locked in horror as I was. Yet I'd never imagined that a wolf could get so big.

Another growl rumbled in its throat, and I shuddered away from the sound.

Laurent was backing toward the edge of the trees, and, under the freezing terror, confusion swept through me. Why was Laurent retreating? Granted, the wolf was monstrous in size, but it was just an animal. What reason would a vampire have for fearing an animal? And Laurent was afraid. His eyes were wide with horror, just like mine.

As if in answer to my question, suddenly the mammoth wolf was not alone.

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