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The Twilight Saga 2: New Moon: Page 4
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"Not unless you want to die��or whatever it is we do." His voice was so calm, it made him sound almost bored by the prospect.
My anger turned to horror. I took his marble face between my hands and held it very tightly.
"You must never, never, never think of anything like that again!" I said. "No matter what might ever happen to me, you are not allowed to hurt yourself!"
"I'll never put you in danger again, so it's a moot point."
"Put me in danger! I thought we'd established that all the bad luck is my fault?" I was getting angrier. "How dare you even think like that?" The idea of Edward ceasing to exist, even if I were dead, was impossiblypainful.
"What would you do, if the situation were reversed?" he asked.
"That's not the same thing."
He didn't seem to understand the difference. He chuckled.
"What if something did happen to you?" I blanched at the thought. "Would you want me to go off myself?"
A trace of pain touched his perfect features.
"I guess I see your point�� a little," he admitted. "But what would I do without you?"
"Whatever you were doing before I came along and complicated your existence."
He sighed. "You make that sound so easy."
"It should be. I'm not really that interesting."
He was about to argue, but then he let it go. "Moot point," he reminded me. Abruptly, he pulled himself up into a more formal posture, shifting me to the side so that we were no longer touching.
"Charlie?" I guessed.
Edward smiled. After a moment, I heard the sound of the police cruiser pulling into the driveway. I reached out and took his hand firmly. My dad could deal with that much.
Charlie came in with a pizza box in his hands.
"Hey, kids." He grinned at me. "I thought you'd like a break from cooking and washing dishes for your birthday. Hungry?"
"Sure. Thanks, Dad."
Charlie didn't comment on Edward's apparent lack of appetite. He was used to Edward passing on dinner.
"Do you mind if I borrow Bella for the evening?" Edward asked when Charlie and I were done.
I looked at Charlie hopefully. Maybe he had some concept of birthdays as stay-at-home, family affairs��this was my first birthday with him, the first birthday since my mom, Renee, had remarried and gone to live in Florida, so I didn't know what he would expect.
"That's fine��the Mariners are playing the Sox tonight," Charlie explained, and my hope disappeared. "So I won't be any kind of company�� Here." He scooped up the camera he'd gotten me on Renee's suggestion (because I would need pictures to fill up my scrap-book), and threw it to me.
He ought to know better than that��I'd always been coordinationally challenged.
The camera glanced off the tip of my finger, and tumbled toward the floor. Edward snagged it before it could crash onto the linoleum.
"Nice save," Charlie noted. "If they're doing something fun at the Cullens' tonight, Bella, you should take some pictures. You know how your mother gets��she'll be wanting to see the pictures faster than you can take them."
"Good idea, Charlie," Edward said, handing me the camera.
I turned the camera on Edward, and snapped the first picture. "It works."
"That's good. Hey, say hi to Alice for me. She hasn't been over in a while." Charlie's mouth pulled down at one corner.
"It's been three days, Dad," I reminded him. Charlie was crazy about Alice. He'd become attached last spring when she'd helped me through my awkward convalescence; Charlie would be fore'ter grateful to her for saving him from the horror of an almost-adult daughter who needed help showering. "I'll tell her."
"Okay. You kids have fun tonight." It was clearly a dismissal. Charlie was already edging toward the living room and the TV.
Edward smiled, triumphant, and took my hand to pull me from the kitchen.
When we got to the truck, he opened the passenger door for me again, and this time I didn't argue. I still had a hard time finding the obscure turnoff to his house in the dark.
Edward drove north through Forks, visibly chafing at the speed limit enforced by my prehistoric Chevy. The engine groaned even louder than usual as he pushed it over fifty.
"Take it easy," I warned him.
"You know what you would love? A nice little Audi coupe. Very quiet, lots of power��"
"There's nothing wrong with my truck. And speaking of expensive nonessentials, if you know what's good for you, you didn't spend any money on birthday presents."
"Not a dime," he said virtuously.
"Can you do me a favor?"
"That depends on what it is."
He sighed, his lovely face serious. "Bella, the last real birthday any of us had was Emmett in 1935. Cut us a little slack, and don't be too difficult tonight. They're all very excited."
It always startled me a little when he brought up things like that. "Fine, I'll behave."
"I probably should warn you��"
"When I say they're all excited�� I do mean all of them."
"Everyone?" I choked. "I thought Emmett and Rosalie were in Africa." The rest of Forks was under the impression that the older Cullens had gone off to college this year, to Dartmouth, but I knew better.
"Emmett wanted to be here."
"I know, Bella. Don't worry, she'll be on her best behavior."
I didn't answer. Like I could just not worry, that easy. Unlike Alice, Edward's other "adopted" sister, the golden blond and exquisite Rosalie, didn't like me much. Actually, the feeling was a little bit stronger than just dislike. As far as Rosalie was concerned, I was an unwelcome intruder into her family's secret life.
I felt horribly guilty about the present situation, guessing that Rosalie and Emmett's prolonged absence was my fault, even as I furtively enjoyed not having to see her Emmett, Edward's playful bear of a brother, I did miss. He was in many ways just like the big brother I'd always wanted�� only much, much more terrifying.
Edward decided to change the subject. "So, if you won't let me get you the Audi, isn't there anything that you'd like for your birthday?"
The words came out in a whisper. "You know what I want."
A deep frown carved creases into his marble forehead. He obviously wished he'd stuck to the subject of Rosalie.
It felt like we'd had this argument a lot today.
"Not tonight, Bella. Please."
"Well, maybe Alice will give me what I want."
Edward growled��a deep, menacing sound. "This isn't going to be your last birthday, Bella," he vowed.
"That's not fair!"
I thought I heard his teeth clench together.
We were pulling up to the house now. Bright light shined from every window on the first two floors. A long line of glowing Japanese lanterns hung from the porch eaves, reflecting a soft radiance on the huge cedars that surrounded the house. Big bowls of flowers��pink roses��lined the wide stairs up to the front doors.
Edward took a few deep breaths to calm himself. "This is a party," he reminded me. "Try to be a good sport."
"Sure," I muttered.
He came around to get my door, and offered me his hand.
"I have a question."
He waited warily.
"If I develop this film," I said, toying with the camera in my hands, "will you show up in the picture?"
Edward started laughing. He helped me out of the car, pulled me up the stairs, and was still laughing as he opened the door for me.
They were all waiting in the huge white living room; when I walked through the door, they greeted me with a loud chorus of "Happy birthday, Bella!" while I blushed and looked down. Alice, I assumed, had covered every flat surface with pink candles and dozens of crystal bowls filled with hundreds of roses. There was a table with a white cloth draped over it next to Edward's grand piano, holding a pink birthday cake, more roses, a stack of glass plates, and a small pile of silver-wrapped presents.
It was a hundred times worse than I'd imagined.
Edward, sensing my distress, wrapped an encouraging arm around my waist and kissed the top of my head.
Edward's parents, Carlisle and Esme��impossibly youthful and lovely as ever��were the closest to the door. Esme hugged me carefully, her soft, caramel-colored hair brushing against my cheek as she kissed my forehead, and then Carlisle put his arm around my shoulders.
"Sorry about this, Bella," he stage-whispered. "We couldn't rein Alice in."
Rosalie and Emmett stood behind them. Rosalie didn't smile, but at least she didn't glare. Emmett's face was stretched into a huge grin. It had been months since I'd seen them; I'd forgotten how gloriously beautiful Rosalie was��it almost hurt to look at her. And had Emmett always been so�� big?
"You haven't changed at all," Emmett said with mock disappointment. "I expected a perceptible difference, but here you are, red-faced just like always."
"Thanks a lot, Emmett," I said, blushing deeper.
He laughed, "I have to step out for a second"��he paused to wink conspicuously at Alice��"Don't do anything funny while I'm gone."
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