Home > Eclipse (Twilight #3)(10)

Eclipse (Twilight #3)(10)
Author: Stephenie Meyer

"Thanks, but I don't need a fancy stereo."

"It's not for your sake that I'm going to replace it."

I sighed.

"You didn't get much good out of your birthday presents last year," he said in a disgruntled voice.

Suddenly, he was fanning himself with a stiff rectangle of paper.

I didn't answer, for fear my voice would shake. My disastrous eighteenth birthday - with all its far- reaching consequences - wasn't something I cared to remember, and I was surprised that he would bring it up. He was even more sensitive about it than I was.

"Do you realize these are about to expire?" he asked, holding the paper out to me. It was another present - the voucher for airplane tickets that Esme and Carlisle had given me so that I could visit Renée in Florida. I took a deep breath and answered in a flat voice. "No. I'd forgotten all about them, actually."

His expression was carefully bright and positive; there was no trace of any deep emotion as he continued.

"Well, we still have a little time. You've been liberated . . . and we have no plans this weekend, as you refuse to go to the prom with me." He grinned. "Why not celebrate your freedom this way?"

I gasped. "By going to Florida?"

"You did say something about the continental U.S. being allowable."

I glared at him, suspicious, trying to understand where this had come from.

"Well?" he demanded. "Are we going to see Renée or not?"

"Charlie will never allow it."

"Charlie can't keep you from visiting your mother. She still has primary custody."

"Nobody has custody of me. I'm an adult."

He flashed a brilliant smile. "Exactly."

I thought it over for a short minute before deciding that it wasn't worth the fight. Charlie would be furious - not that I was going to see Renée, but that Edward was going with me. Charlie wouldn't speak to me for months, and I'd probably end up grounded again. It was definitely smarter not to even bring it up. Maybe in a few weeks, as a graduation favor or something.

But the idea of seeing my mother now, not weeks from now, was hard to resist. It had been so long since I'd seen Renée. And even longer since I'd seen her under pleasant circumstances. The last time I'd been with her in Phoenix, I'd spent the whole time in a hospital bed. The last time she'd come here, I'd been more or less catatonic. Not exactly the best memories to leave her with.

And maybe, if she saw how happy I was with Edward, she would tell Charlie to ease up.

Edward scrutinized my face while I deliberated.

I sighed. "Not this weekend."

"Why not?"

"I don't want to fight with Charlie. Not so soon after he's forgiven me."

His eyebrows pulled together. "I think this weekend is perfect," he muttered.

I shook my head. "Another time."

"You aren't the only one who's been trapped in this house, you know." He frowned at me.

Suspicion returned. This kind of behavior was unlike him. He was always so impossibly selfless; I knew it was making me spoiled.

"You can go anywhere you want," I pointed out.

"The outside world holds no interest for me without you."

I rolled my eyes at the hyperbole.

"I'm serious," he said.

"Let's take the outside world slowly, all right? For example, we could start with a movie in Port Angeles. . . ."

He groaned. "Never mind. We'll talk about it later."

"There's nothing left to talk about."

He shrugged.

"Okay, then, new subject," I said. I'd almost forgotten my worries about this afternoon - had that been his intention? "What did Alice see today at lunch?"

My eyes were fixed on his face as I spoke, measuring his reaction.

His expression was composed; there was only the slightest hardening of his topaz eyes. "She's been seeing Jasper in a strange place, somewhere in the southwest, she thinks, near his former . . . family. But he has no conscious intentions to go back." He sighed. "It's got her worried."

"Oh." That was nothing close to what I'd been expecting. But of course it made sense that Alice would be watching out for Jasper's future. He was her soul mate, her true other half, though they weren't as flamboyant about their relationship as Rosalie and Emmett were. "Why didn't you tell me before?"

"I didn't realize you'd noticed," he said. "It's probably nothing important, in any case."

My imagination was sadly out of control. I'd taken a perfectly normal afternoon and twisted it until it looked like Edward was going out of his way to keep things from me. I needed therapy.

We went downstairs to work on our homework, just in case Charlie showed up early. Edward finished in minutes; I slogged laboriously through my calculus until I decided it was time to fix Charlie's dinner. Edward helped, making faces every so often at the raw ingredients - human food was mildly repulsive to him. I made stroganoff from Grandma Swan's recipe, because I was sucking up. It wasn't one of my favorites, but it would please Charlie.

Charlie seemed to already be in a good mood when he got home. He didn't even go out of his way to be rude to Edward. Edward excused himself from eating with us, as usual. The sound of the nightly news drifted from the front room, but I doubted Edward was really watching.

After forcing down three helpings, Charlie kicked his feet up on the spare chair and folded his hands contentedly across his distended stomach.

"That was great, Bells."

"I'm glad you liked it. How was work?" He'd been eating with too much concentration for me to make conversation before.

"Sort of slow. Well, dead slow really. Mark and I played cards for a good part of the afternoon," he admitted with a grin. "I won, nineteen hands to seven. And then I was on the phone with Billy for a while."

I tried to keep my expression the same. "How is he?"

"Good, good. His joints are bothering him a little."

"Oh. That's too bad." "Yeah. He invited us down to visit this weekend. He was thinking of having the Clearwaters and the Uleys over too. Sort of a playoff party. . . ."

"Huh," was my genius response. But what could I say? I knew I wouldn't be allowed to hit a werewolf party, even with parental supervision. I wondered if Edward would have a problem with Charlie hanging out in La Push. Or would he suppose that, since Charlie was mostly spending time with Billy, who was only human, my father wouldn't be in danger?

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