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The Twilight Saga 2: New Moon: Page 36
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Flanking it on either side, another two gigantic beasts prowled silently into the meadow. One was a deep gray, the other brown, neither one quite as tall as the first. The gray wolf came through the trees only a few feet from me, its eyes locked on Laurent.
Before I could even react, two more wolves followed, lined up in a V, like geese flying south. Which meant that the rusty brown monster that shrugged through the brush last was close enough for me to touch.
I gave an involuntary gasp and jumped back��which was the stupidest thing I could have done. I froze again, waiting for the wolves to turn on me, the much weaker of the available prey. I wished briefly that
Laurent would get on with it and crush the wolf pack��it should be so simple for him. I guessed that, between the two choices before me, being eaten by wolves was almost certainly the worse option.
The wolf closest to me, the reddish brown one, turned its head slightly at the sound of my gasp.
The wolf's eyes were dark, nearly black. It gazed at me for a fraction of a second, the deep eyes seeming too intelligent for a wild animal.
As it stared at me, I suddenly thought of Jacob��again, with gratitude. At least I'd come here alone, to this fairytale meadow filled with dark monsters. At least Jacob wasn't going to die, too. At least I wouldn't have his death on my hands.
Then another low growl from the leader caused the russet wolf to whip his head around, back toward Laurent.
Laurent was staring at the pack of monster wolves with unconcealed shock and fear. The first I could understand. But I was stunned when, without warning, he spun and disappeared into the trees.
He ran away.
The wolves were after him in a second, sprinting across the open grass with a few powerful bounds, snarling and snapping so loudly that my hands flew up instinctively to cover my ears. The sound faded with surprising swiftness once they disappeared into the woods.
And then I was alone again.
My knees buckled under me, and I fell onto my hands, sobs building in my throat.
I knew I needed to leave, and leave now. How long would the wolves chase Laurent before they doubled back for me? Or would Laurent turn on them? Would he be the one that came looking?
I couldn't move at first, though; my arms and legs were shaking, and I didn't know how to get back to my feet.
My mind couldn't move past the fear, the horror or the confusion. I didn't understand what I'd just witnessed.
A vampire should not have run from overgrown dogs like that. What good would their teeth be against his granite skin?
And the wolves should have given Laurent a wide berth. Even if their extraordinary size had taught them to fear nothing, it still made no sense that they would pursue him. I doubted his icy marble skin would smell anything like food. Why would they pass up something warmblooded and weak like me to chase after Laurent?
I couldn't make it add up.
A cold breeze whipped through the meadow, swaying the grass like something was moving through it.
I scrambled to my feet, backing away even though the wind brushed harmlessly past me. Stumbling in panic, I turned and ran headlong into the trees.
The next few hours were agony. It took me three times as long to escape the trees as it had to get to the meadow.
At first I paid no attention to where I was headed, focused only on what I was running from By the time I collected myself enough to remember the compass, I was deep in the unfamiliar and menacing forest. My hands were shaking so violently that I had to set the compass on the muddy ground to be able to read it. Every few minutes I would stop to put the compass dowr and check that I was still heading northwest, hearing��when the sounds weren't hidden behind the frantic squelching of my footsteps��the quiet whisper of unseen things moving in the leaves.
The call of a jaybird made me leap back and fall into a thick stand of young spruce, scraping up my arms and tangling my hair with sap. The sudden rush of a squirrel up a hemlock made me scream so loud it hurt my own ears.
At last there was a break in the trees ahead. I came out onto the empty road a mile or so south of where I'd left the truck.
Exhausted as I was, I jogged up the lane until I found it. By the time I pulled myself into the cab, I was sobbing again. I fiercely shoved down both stiff locks before I dug my keys out of my pocket. The roar of the engine was comforting and sane. It helped me control the tears as I sped as fast as my truck would allow toward the main highway.
I was calmer, but still a mess when I got home. Charlie's cruiser was in the driveway��I hadn't realized how late it was. The sky was already dusky.
"Bella?" Charlie asked when I slammed the front door behind me and hastily turned the locks.
"Yeah, it's me." My voice was unsteady.
"Where have you been?" he thundered, appearing through the kitchen doorway with an ominous expression.
I hesitated. He'd probably called the Stanleys. I'd better stick to the truth.
"I was hiking," I admitted.
His eyes were tight. "What happened to going to Jessica's?"
"I didn't feel like Calculus today."
Charlie folded his arms across his chest. "I thought I asked you to stay out of the forest."
"Yeah, I know. Don't worry, I won't do it again." I shuddered.
Charlie seemed to really look at me for the first time. I remembered that I had spent some time on the forest floor today; I must be a mess.
"What happened?" Charlie demanded.
Again, I decided that the truth, or part of it anyway, was the best option. I was too shaken to pretend that I'd spent an uneventful day with the flora and fauna.
"I saw the bear." I tried to say it calmly, but my voice was high and shaky. "It's not a bear, though��it's some kind of wolf. And there are five of them. A big black one, and gray, and reddish-brown��"
Charlie's eyes grew round with horror. He strode quickly to me and grabbed the tops of my arms.
"Are you okay?"
My head bobbed in a weak nod.
"Tell me what happened."
"They didn't pay any attention to me. But aftet they were gone, I ran away and I fell down a lot."
He let go of my shoulders and wrapped his arms around me. For a long moment, he didn't say anything.
"Wolves," he murmured.
"The rangers said the tracks were wrong for a bear��but wolves just don't get that big��"
"These were huge."
"How many did you say you saw?"
Charlie shook his head, frowning with anxiety, He finally spoke in a tone that allowed no argument. "No morehiking."
"No problem," I promised fervently.
Charlie called the station to report what I'd seen. I fudged a little bit about where exactly I'd seen the wolves��claiming I'd been on the trail that led to the north. I didn't want my dad to know how deep I'd gone into the forest against his wishes, and, more importantly, I didn't want anyone wandering near where Laurent might be searching for me. The thought of it made me feel sick.
"Are you hungry?" he asked me when he hung up the phone.
I shook my head, though I must have been starving. I hadn't eaten all day.
"Just tired," I told him. I turned for the stairs.
"Hey," Charlie said, his voice suddenly suspicious again. "Didn't you say Jacob was gone for the day?"
"That's what Billy said," I told him, confused by his question.
He studied my expression for a minute, and seemed satisfied with what he saw there.
"Why?" I demanded. It sounded like he was implying that I'd been lying to him this morning. About something besides studying with Jessica.
"Well, it's just that when I went to pick up Harry, I saw Jacob out in front of the store down there with some of his friends. I waved hi, but he�� well, I guess I don't know if he saw me. I think maybe he was arguing with his friends. He looked strange, like he was upset about something. And�� different. It's like you can watch that kid growing! He gets bigger every time I see him."
"Billy said Jake and his friends were going up to Port Angeles to see some movies. They were probably just waiting for someone to meet them."
"Oh." Charlie nodded and headed for the kitchen.
I stood in the hall, thinking about Jacob arguing with his friends. I wondered if he had confronted Embry
about the situation with Sam. Maybe that was the reason he'd ditched me today��if it meant he could sort things out with Embry, I was glad he had.
I paused to check the locks again before I went to my room. It was a silly thing to do. What difference would a lock make to any of the monsters I'd seen this afternoon? I assumed the handle alone would stymie the wolves, not having opposable thumbs. And if Laurent came here��
I lay down on my bed, but I was shaking too hard to hope for sleep. I curled into a cramped ball under my quilt, and faced the horrifying facts.
There was nothing I could do. There were no precautions I could take.
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