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The Twilight Saga 2: New Moon: Page 53
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I leaned forward, crouching to get more spring��
And I flung myself off the cliff.
I screamed as I dropped through the open air like a meteor, but it was a scream of exhilaration and not fear. The wind resisted, trying vainly to fight the unconquerable gravity, pushing against me and twirling me in spirals like a rocket crashing to the earth.
Yes! The word echoed through my head as I sliced through the surface of the water. It was icy, colder than I'd feared, and yet the chill only added to the high.
I was proud of myself as I plunged deeper into the freezing black water. I hadn't had one moment of terror��just pure adrenaline. Really, the fall wasn't scary at all. Where was the challenge?
That was when the current caught me.
I'd been so preoccupied by the size of the cliffs, by the obvious danger of their high, sheer faces, that I hadn't worried at all about the dark water waiting. I never dreamed that the true menace was lurking far below me, under the heaving surf.
It felt like the waves were fighting over me, jerking me back and forth between them as if determined to share by pulling me into halves. I knew the right way to avoid a riptide: swim parallel to the beach rather than struggling for the shore. But the knowledge did me little good when I didn't know which way the shore was.
I couldn't even tell which way the surface was.
The angry water was black in every direction; there was no brightness to direct me upward.
Gravity was all-powerful when it competed with the air, but it had nothing on the waves��I couldn't feel a downward pull, a sinking in any direction. Just the battering of the current that flung me round and round like a rag doll.
I fought to keep my breath in, to keep my lips locked around my last store of oxygen.
It didn't surprise me that my delusion of Edward was there. He owed me that much, considering that I was dying. I was surprised by how sure that knowledge was. I was going to drown. I was drowning.
"Keep swimming!" Edward begged urgently in my head.
Where? There was nothing but the darkness. There was no place to swim to.
"Stop that!" he ordered. "Don't you dare give up!"
The cold of the water was numbing my arms and legs. I didn't feel the buffeting so much as before. It was more of just a dizziness now, a helpless spinning in the water.
But I listened to him. I forced my arms to continue reaching, my legs to kick harder, though every second I was facing a new direction. It couldn't be doing any good. What was the point?
"Fight!" he yelled. "Damn it, Bella, keep fighting."
I didn't want to fight anymore. And it wasn't the light-headedness, or the cold, or the failure of my arms as the muscles gave out in exhaustion, that made me content to stay where I was. I was almost happy that it was over. This was an easier death than others I'd faced. Oddly peaceful.
I thought briefly of the clich��s, about how you were suppose to see your life flash before your eyes. I was so much luckier. Who wanted to see a rerun, anyway?
I saw him, and I had no will to fight. It was so clear, so much more defined than any memory. My subconscious had stored Edward away in flawless detail, saving him for this final moment. I could see his perfect face as if he were really there; the exact shade of his icy skin, the shape of his lips, the line of his jaw, the gold glinting in his furious eyes. He was angry, naturally, that I was giving up. His teeth were clenched and his nostrils flared with rage.
"No! Bella, no!"
My ears were flooded with the freezing water, but his voice was clearer than ever. I ignored his words and concentrated on the sound of his voice. Why would I fight when I was so happy where I was? Even as my lungs burned for more air and my legs cramped in the icy cold, I was content. I'd forgotten what real happiness felt like.
Happiness. It made the whole dying thing pretty bearable.
The current won at that moment, shoving me abruptly against something hard, a rock invisible in the gloom. It hit me solidly across the chest, slamming into me like an iron bar, and the breath whooshed out of my lungs, escaping in a thick cloud of silver bubbles. Water flooded down my throat, choking and burning. The iron bar seemed to be dragging me, pulling me away from Edward, deeper into the dark, to the ocean floor.
Goodbye, I love you, was my last thought.
AT THAT MOMENT, MY HEAD BROKE THE SURFACE.
How disorienting. I'd been sure I was sinking.
The current wouldn't let up. It was slamming me against more rocks; they beat against the center of my back sharply, rhythmically, pushing the water from my lungs. It gushed out in amazing volume, absolute torrents pouring from my mouth and nose. The salt burned and my lungs burned and my throat was too full of water to catch a breath and the rocks were hurting my back. Somehow I stayed in one place, though the waves still heaved around me. I couldn't see anything but water everywhere, reaching for my face.
"Breathe!" a voice, wild with anxiety, ordered, and I felt a cruel stab of pain wher I recognized the voice��because it wasn't Edward's.
I could not obey. The waterfall pouring from my mouth didn't stop long enough for me to catch a breath. The black, icy water filled my chest, burning.
The rock smacked into my back again, right between my shoulder blades, and another volley of water choked its way out of my lungs.
"Breathe, Bella! C'mon!" Jacob begged.
Black spots bloomed across my vision, getting wider and wider, blocking out the light.
The rock struck me again.
The rock wasn't cold like the water; it was hot on my skin. I realized it was Jacob's hand, trying to beat the water from my lungs. The iron bar that had dragged me from the sea was also�� warm�� My head whirled, the black spots covered everything��
Was I dying again, then? I didn't like it��this wasn't as good as the last time. It was only dark now, nothing worth looking at here. The sound of the crashing waves faded into the black and became a quiet, even whoosh that sounded like it was coming from the inside of my ears��
"Bella?" Jacob asked, his voice still tense, but not as wild as before. "Bells, honey, can you hear me?"
The contents of my head swished and rolled sickeningly, like they'd joined the rough water��
"How long has she been unconscious?" someone else asked.
The voice that was not Jacob's shocked me, jarred me into a more focused awareness.
I realized that I was still. There was no tug of the current on me��the heaving was inside my head. The surface under me was flat and motionless. It felt grainy against my bare arms.
"I don't know," Jacob reported, still frantic. His voice was very close. Hands��so warm they had to be his��brushed wet hair from my cheeks. "A few minutes? It didn't take long to tow her to the beach."
The quiet whooshing inside my ears was not the waves��it was the air moving in and out of my lungs again. Each breath burned��the passageways were as raw as if I'd scrubbed them out with steel wool. But I was breathing.
And I was freezing. A thousand sharp, icy beads were striking my face and arms, making the cold worse.
"She's breathing. She'll come around. We should get her out of the cold, though. I don't like the color she's turning��" I recognized Sam's voice this time.
"You think it's okay to move her?"
"She didn't hurt her back or anything when she fell?"
"I don't know."
I tried to open my eyes. It took me a minute, but then I could see the dark, purple clouds, flinging the freezing rain down at me. "Jake?" I croaked.
Jacob's face blocked out the sky. "Oh!" he gasped, relief washing over his features. His eyes were wet from the rain. "Oh, Bella! Are you okay? Can you hear me? Do you hurt anywhere?"
"J-Just m-my throat," I stuttered, my lips quivering from the cold.
"Let's get you out of here, then," Jacob said. He slid his arms under me and lifted me without effort��like picking up an empty box. His chest was bare and warm; he hunched his shoulders to keep the rain off of me. My head lolled over his arm. I stared vacantly back toward the furious water, beating the sand behindhim.
"You got her?" I heard Sam ask.
"Yeah, I'll take it from here. Get back to the hospital. I'll join you later. Thanks, Sam."
My head was still rolling. None of his words sunk in at first. Sam didn't answer. There was no sound, and I wondered if he were already gone.
The water licked and writhed up the sand after us as Jacob carried me away, like it was angry that I'd escaped. As I stared wearily, a spark of color caught my unfocused eyes��a small flash of fire was dancing on the black water, far out in the bay. The image made no sense, and I wondered how conscious I really was. My head swirled with the memory of the black, churning water��of being so lost that I couldn't find up or down. So lost�� but somehow Jacob��
"How did you find me?" I rasped.
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