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The Twilight Saga 2: New Moon: Page 55
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Billy's voice was easily identifiable, but he kept it uncharacteristically low, so that it was only a gravelly grumble.
The door opened, and the light flicked on. I blinked, momentarily blind. Jake startled awake, gasping and jumping to his feet.
"Sorry," Billy grunted. "Did we wake you?"
My eyes slowly focused on his face, and then, as I could read his expression, they filled with tears.
"Oh, no, Billy!" I moaned.
He nodded slowly, his expression hard with grief. Jake hurried to his father and took one of his hands. The pain made his face suddenly childlike��it looked odd on top of the man's body.
Sam was right behind Billy, pushing his chair through the door. His normal composure was absent from his agonized face.
"I'm so sorry," I whispered.
Billy nodded. "It's gonna be hard all around."
"Your dad is still at the hospital with Sue. There are a lot of�� arrangements to be made."
I swallowed hard.
"I'd better get back there," Sam mumbled, and he ducked hastily out the door.
Billy pulled his hand away from Jacob, and then he rolled himself through the kitchen toward his room.
Jake stared after him for a minute, then came to sit on the floor beside me again. He put his face in his hands. I rubbed his shoulder, wishing I could think of anything to say.
After a long moment, Jacob caught my hand and held it to his face.
"How are you feeling? Are you okay? I probably should have taken you to a doctor or something." He sighed.
"Don't worry about me," I croaked.
He twisted his head to look at me. His eyes were rimmed in red. "You don't look so good."
"I don't feel so good, either, I guess."
"I'll go get your truck and then take you home��you probably ought to be there when Charlie gets back."
I lay listlessly on the sofa while I waited for him. Billy was silent in the other room. I felt like a peeping torn, peering through the cracks at a private sorrow that wasn't mine.
It didn't take Jake long. The roar of my truck's engine broke the silence before I expected it. He helped me up from the couch without speaking, keeping his arm around my shoulder when the cold air outside made me shiver. He took the driver's seat without asking, and then pulled me next to his side to keep his arm tight around me. I leaned my head against his chest.
"How will you get home?" I asked.
"I'm not going home. We still haven't caught the bloodsucker, remember?"
My next shudder had nothing to do with cold.
It was a quiet ride after that. The cold air had woken me up. My mind was alert, and it was working very hard and very fast.
What if? What was the right thing to do?
I couldn't imagine my life without Jacob now��I cringed away from the idea of even trying to imagine that. Somehow, he'd become essential to my survival. But to leave things the way they were�� was that cruel, as Mike had accused?
I remembered wishing that Jacob were my brother. I realized now that all I really wanted was a claim on
him. It didn't feel brotherly when he held me like this. It just felt nice��warm and comforting and familiar. Safe. Jacob was a safe harbor.
I could stake a claim. I had that much within my power.
I'd have to tell him everything, I knew that. It was the only way to be fair. I'd have to explain it right, so that he'd know I wasn't settling, that he was much too good for me.
He already knew I was broken, that part wouldn't surprise him, but he'd need to know the extent of it. I'd even have to admit that I was crazy��explain about the voices I heard. He'd need to know everything before he made a decision.
But, even as I recognized that necessity, I knew he would take me in spite of it all. He wouldn't even pause to think it through.
I would have to commit to this��commit as much of me as there was left, every one of the broken pieces. It was the only way to be fair to him. Would I? Could I?
Would it be so wrong to try to make Jacob happy? Even if the love I felt for him was no more than a weak echo of what I was capable of, even if my heart was far away, wandering and grieving after my fickle Romeo, would it be so very wrong?
Jacob stopped the truck in front of my dark house, cutting the engine so it was suddenly silent. Like so many other times, he seemed to be in tune with my thoughts now.
He threw his other arm around me, crushing me against his cheat, binding me to him. Again, this felt nice. Almost like being a whole person again.
I thought he would be thinking of Harry, but then he spoke, and his tone was apologetic. "Sorry. I know you don't feel exactly the way I do, Bella. I swear I don't mind. I'm just so glad you're okay that I could sing��and that's something no one wants to hear." He laughed his throaty laugh in my ear.
My breathing kicked up a notch, sanding the walls of my throat.
Wouldn't Edward, indifferent as he might be, want me to be as happy as possible under the circumstances? Wouldn't enough friendly emotion linger for him to want that much for me? I thought he would. He wouldn't begrudge me this: giving just a small bit of love he didn't want to my friend Jacob. After all, it wasn't the same love at all.
Jake pressed his warm cheek against the top of my hair.
If I turned my face to the side��if I pressed my lips against his bare shoulder... I knew without any doubt what would follow. It would be very easy. There would be no need for explanations tonight.
But could I do it? Could I betray my absent heart to save my pathetic life?
Butterflies assaulted my stomach as I thought of turning my head.
And then, as clearly as if I were in immediate danger, Edward's velvet voice whispered in my ear.
"Be happy," he told me.
Jacob felt me stiffen and released me automatically, reaching for the door.
Wait, I wanted to say. Just a minute. But I was still locked in place, listening to the echo of Edward's
voice in my head.
Storm-cooled air blew through the cab of the truck.
"OH!" The breath whooshed out of Jacob like someone had punched him in the gut. "Holy crap!"
He slammed the door and twisted the keys in the ignition at the same moment. His hands were shaking so hard I didn't know how he managed it.
He revved the engine too fast; it sputtered and faltered.
"Vampire," he spit out.
The blood rushed from my head and left me dizzy. "How do you know?"
"Because I can smell it. Dammit!"
Jacob's eyes were wild, raking the dark street. He barely seemed aware of the tremors that were rolling through his body. "Phase or get her out of here?" he hissed at himself.
He looked down at me for a split second, taking in my horror-struck eyes and white face, and then he was scanning the street again. "Right. Get you out."
The engine caught with a roar. The tires squealed as he spun the truck around, turning toward our only escape. The headlights washed across the pavement, lit the front line of the black forest, and finally glinted off a car parked across the street from my house.
"Stop!" I gasped.
It was a black car��a car I knew. I might be the furthest thing from an autophile, but I could tell you everything about that particular car. It was a Mercedes S55 AMG. I knew the horsepower and the color of the interior. I knew the feel of the powerful engine purring through the frame. I knew the rich smell of the leather seats and the way the extra-dark tint made noon look like dusk through those windows.
It was Carlisle's car.
"Stop!" I cried again, louder this time, because Jacob was gunning the truck down the street.
"It's not Victoria. Stop, stop! I want to go back."
He stomped on the brake so hard I had to catch myself against the dashboard.
"What?" he asked again, aghast. He stared at me with horror in his eyes.
"It's Carlisle's car! It's the Cullens. I know it."
He watched dawn break across my face, and a violent tremor rocked his frame.
"Hey, calm down, Jake. It's okay. No danger, see? Relax."
"Yeah, calm," he panted, putting his head down and closing his eyes. While he concentrated on not exploding into a wolf, I stared out the back window at the black car.
It was just Carlisle, I told myself. Don't expect anything more. Maybe Esme�� Stop right there, I told myself. Just Carlisle. That was plenty. More than I'd ever hoped to have again.
"There's a vampire in your house," Jacob hissed. "And you want to go back?"
I glanced at him, ripping my unwilling eyes off the Mercedes��terrified that it would disappear the second I looked away.
"Of course," I said, my voice blank with surprise at his question. Of course I wanted to go back.
Jacob's face hardened while I stared at him, congealing into the bitter mask that I'd thought was gone for good. Just before he had the mask in place, I caught the spasm of betrayal that flashed in his eyes. His hands were still shaking. He looked ten years older than me.
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