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The Twilight Saga 2: New Moon: Page 77
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"Bella, it's the only right way left��"
"Let's just back up for a minute," I said; feeling angry made it so much easier to be clear, decisive. "You do remember the Volturi, right? I can't stay human forever. They'll kill me. Even if they don't think of me tillI'm thirty"��I hissed the word��"do you really think they'll forget?"
"No," he answered slowly, shaking his head. "They won't forget. But��"
He grinned while I stared at him warily. Maybe I wasn't the only crazy one.
"I have a few plans."
"And these plans," I said, my voice getting more acidic with each word. "These plans all center around me staying human."
My attitude hardened his expression. "Naturally." His tone was brusque, his divine face arrogant.
We glowered at each other for a long minute.
Then I took a deep breath, squared my shoulders, I pushed his arms away so that I could sit up.
"Do you want me to leave?" he asked, and it made my heart flutter to see that this idea hurt him, though he tried not to show it.
"No," I told him. "I'm leaving."
He watched me suspiciously as I climbed out of the bed and fumbled around in the dark room, looking for my shoes.
"May I ask where you are going.'" he asked.
"I'm going to your house," I told him, still feeling around blindly.
He got up and came to my side. "Here are your shoes. How did you plan to get there?"
"That will probably wake Charlie," he offered as a deterrent.
I sighed. "I know. But honestly, I'll be grounded for weeks as it is. How much more trouble can I really
"None. He'll blame me, not you."
"If you have a better idea, I'm all ears."
"Stay here," he suggested, but his expression wasn't hopeful.
"No dice. But you go ahead and make yourself at home," I encouraged, surprised at how natural my teasing sounded, and headed for the door.
He was there before me, blocking my way.
I frowned, and turned for the window. It wasn't really that far to the ground, and it was mostly grass beneath��
"Okay," he sighed. "I'll give you a ride."
I shrugged. "Either way. But you probably should be there, too."
"And why is that?"
"Because you're extraordinarily opinionated, and I'm sure you'll want a chance to air your views."
"My views on which subject?" He asked through his teeth.
"This isn't just about you anymore. You're not the center of the universe, you know." My own personal universe was, of course, a different story. "If you're going to bring the Volturi down on us over something as stupid as leaving me human, then your family ought to have a say."
"A say in what?" he asked, each word distinct.
"My mortality. I'm putting it to a vote."
HE WAS NOT PLEASED, THAT MUCH WAS EASY TO READ in his face. But, without further argument, he took me in his arms and sprang lithely from my window, landing without the slightest jolt, like a cat. It was a little bit farther down than I'd imagined.
"All right then," he said, his voice seething with disapproval. "Up you go."
He helped me onto his back, and took off running. Even after all this time, it felt routine. Easy. Evidently this was something you never forgot, like riding a bicycle.
It was so very quiet and dark as he ran through the forest, his breathing slow and even��dark enough that the trees flying past us were nearly invisible, and only the rush of air in my face truly gave away our speed. The air was damp; it didn't burn my eyes the way the wind in the big plaza had, and that was comforting. As was the night, too, after that terrifying brightness. Like the thick quilt I'd played under as a child, the dark felt familiar and protecting.
I remembered that running through the forest like this used to frighten me, that I used to have to close my
eyes. It seemed a silly reaction to me now. I kept my eyes wide, my chin resting on his shoulder, my cheek against his neck. The speed was exhilarating. A hundred times better than the motorcycle.
I turned my face toward him and pressed my lips into the cold stone skin of his neck.
"Thank you," he said, as the vague, black shapes of trees raced past us. "Does that mean you've decided you're awake?"
I laughed. The sound was easy, natural, effortless. It sounded right. "Not really. More that, either way, I'm not trying to wake up. Not tonight."
"I'll earn your trust back somehow," he murmured, mostly to himself. "If it's my final act."
"I trust you," I assured him. "It's me I don't trust."
"Explain that, please."
He'd slowed to a walk��I could only tell because the wind ceased��and I guessed that we weren't far from the house. In fact, I thought I could make out the sound of the river rushing somewhere close by in the darkness.
"Well��" I struggled to find the right way to phrase it. "I don't trust myself to be�� enough. To deserve you. There's nothing about me that could hold you."
He stopped and reached around to pull me from his back. His gentle hands did not release me; after he'd set me on my feet again, he wrapped his arms tightly around me, hugging me to his chest.
"Your hold is permanent and unbreakable," he whispered. "Never doubt that."
But how could I not?
"You never did tell me��" he murmured.
"What your greatest problem is."
"I'll give you one guess." I sighed, and reached up to touch the tip of his nose with my index finger.
He nodded. "I'm worse than the Volturi," he said grimly. "I guess I've earned that."
I rolled my eyes. "The worst the Volturi can do is kill me."
He waited with tense eyes.
"You can leave me," I explained. "The Volturi, Victoria�� they're nothing compared to that."
Even in the darkness, I could see the anguish twist his face��it reminded me of his expression under Jane's torturing gaze; I felt sick, and regretted speaking the truth.
"Don't," I whispered, touching his face. "Don't be sad."
He pulled one corner of his mouth up halfheartedly, but the expression didn't touch his eyes. "If there was only some way to make you see that I can't leave you," he whispered. "Time, I suppose, will be the way to convince you."
I liked the idea of time. "Okay," I agreed.
His face was still tormented. I tried to distract him with inconsequentials.
"So��since you're staying. Can I have my stuff back?" I asked, making my tone as light as I could manage.
My attempt worked, to an extent: he laughed. But his eyes retained the misery. "Your things were never gone," he told me. "I knew it was wrong, since I promised you peace without reminders. It was stupid and childish, but I wanted to leave something of myself with you. The CD, the pictures, the tickets��they're all under your floorboards."
He nodded, seeming slightly cheered by my obvious pleasure in this trivial fact. It wasn't enough to heal the pain in his face completely.
"I think," I said slowly, "I'm not sure, but I wonder�� I think maybe I knew it the whole time."
"What did you know?"
I only wanted to take away the agony in his eyes, but as I spoke the words, they sounded truer than I expected they would.
"Some part of me, my subconscious maybe, never stopped believing that you still cared whether I lived or died. That's probably why I was hearing the voices."
There was a very deep silence for a moment. "Voices?" he asked flatly.
"Well, just one voice. Yours. It's a long story." The wary look on his face made me wish that I hadn't brought that up. Would he think I was crazy, like everyone else? Was everyone else right about that? But at least that expression��the one that made him look like something was burning him��faded.
"I've got time." His voice was unnaturally even.
"It's pretty pathetic."
I wasn't sure how to explain. "Do you remember what Alice said about extreme sports?"
He spoke the words without inflection or emphasis. "You jumped off a cliff for fun."
"Er, right. And before that, with the motorcycle��"
"Motorcycle?" he asked. I knew his voice well enough to hear something brewing behind the calm.
"I guess I didn't tell Alice about that part."
"Well, about that�� See, I found that�� when I was doing something dangerous or stupid�� I could remember you more clearly," I confessed, feeling completely mental. "I could remember how your voice sounded when you were angry. I could hear it, like you were standing right there next to me. Mostly I tried not to think about you, but this didn't hurt so much��it was like you were protecting me again. Like
you didn't want me to be hurt.
"And, well, I wonder if the reason I could hear you so clearly was because, underneath it all. I always knew that you hadn't stopped loving me."
Again, as I spoke, the words brought with them a sense of conviction. Of rightness. Some deep place inside me recognized truth.
His words came out half-strangled. "You�� were�� risking your life�� to hear��"
"Shh," I interrupted him.
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