Home > Eclipse (Twilight #3)(15)

Eclipse (Twilight #3)(15)
Author: Stephenie Meyer

"That's . . . um, good. Glad you had fun." Charlie turned away from Edward and pulled me in for an unexpected hug.

"Impressive," I whispered in his ear.

He rumbled a laugh. "I really missed you, Bells. The food around here sucks when you're gone."

"I'll get on it," I said as he let me go.

"Would you call Jacob first? He's been bugging me every five minutes since six o'clock this morning. I promised I'd have you call him before you even unpacked."

I didn't have to look at Edward to feel that he was too still, too cold beside me. So this was the cause of his tension.

"Jacob wants to talk to me?"

"Pretty bad, I'd say. He wouldn't tell me what it was about - just said it was important."

The phone rang then, shrill and demanding.

"That's him again, I'd bet my next paycheck," Charlie muttered.

"I got it." I hurried to the kitchen.

Edward followed after me while Charlie disappeared into the living room.

I grabbed the phone mid-ring, and twisted around so that I was facing the wall. "Hello?"

"You're back," Jacob said.

His familiar husky voice sent a wave of wistfulness through me. A thousand memories spun in my head, tangling together - a rocky beach strewn with driftwood trees, a garage made of plastic sheds, warm sodas in a paper bag, a tiny room with one too-small shabby loveseat. The laughter in his deep-set black eyes, the feverish heat of his big hand around mine, the flash of his white teeth against his dark skin, his face stretching into the wide smile that had always been like a key to a secret door where only kindred spirits could enter.

It felt sort of like homesickness, this longing for the place and person who had sheltered me through my darkest night.

I cleared the lump from my throat. "Yes," I answered.

"Why didn't you call me?" Jacob demanded.

His angry tone instantly got my back up. "Because I've been in the house for exactly four seconds and

your call interrupted Charlie telling me that you'd called."

"Oh. Sorry."

"Sure. Now, why are you harassing Charlie?"

"I need to talk to you."

"Yeah, I figured out that part all by myself. Go ahead."

There was a short pause.

"You going to school tomorrow?"

I frowned to myself, unable to make sense of this question. "Of course I am. Why wouldn't I?"

"I dunno. Just curious."

Another pause.

"So what did you want to talk about, Jake?"

He hesitated. "Nothing really, I guess. I . . . wanted to hear your voice."

"Yeah, I know. I'm so glad you called me, Jake. I . . ." But I didn't know what more to say. I wanted to tell him I was on my way to La Push right now. And I couldn't tell him that.

"I have to go," he said abruptly.

"What?"

"I'll talk to you soon, okay?"

"But Jake -"

He was already gone. I listened to the dial tone with disbelief.

"That was short," I muttered.

"Is everything all right?" Edward asked. His voice was low and careful.

I turned slowly to face him. His expression was perfectly smooth - impossible to read.

"I don't know. I wonder what that was about." It didn't make sense that Jacob had been hounding Charlie all day just to ask me if I was going to school. And if he'd wanted to hear my voice, then why did he hang up so quickly?

"Your guess is probably better than mine," Edward said, the hint of a smiletugging at the corner of his mouth.

"Mmm," I murmured. That was true. I knew Jake inside and out. It shouldn't be that complicated to figure out his motivations.

With my thoughts miles away - about fifteen miles away, up the road to La Push - I started combing through the fridge, assembling ingredients for Charlie's dinner. Edward leaned against the counter, and I was distantly aware that his eyes were on my face, but too preoccupied to worry about what he saw there.

The school thing seemed like the key to me. That was the only real question Jake had asked. And he had to be after an answer to something, or he wouldn't have been bugging Charlie so persistently.

Why would my attendance record matter to him, though?

I tried to think about it in a logical way. So, if I hadn't been going to school tomorrow, what would be the problem with that, from Jacob's perspective? Charlie had given me a little grief about missing a day of school so close to finals, but I'd convinced him that one Friday wasn't going to derail my studies. Jake would hardly care about that.

My brain refused to come up with any brilliant insights. Maybe I was missing some vital piece of information.

What could have changed in the past three days that was so important that Jacob would break his long streak of refusing to answer my phone calls and contact me? What difference could three days make?

I froze in the middle of the kitchen. The package of icy hamburger in my hands slipped through my numb fingers. It took me a slow second to miss the thud it should have made against the floor.

Edward had caught it and thrown it onto the counter. His arms were already around me, his lips at my ear.

"What's wrong?"

I shook my head, dazed.

Three days could change everything.

Hadn't I just been thinking about how impossible college was? How I couldn't be anywhere near people after I'd gone through the painful three-day conversion that would set me free from mortality, so that I could spend eternity with Edward? The conversion that would make me forever a prisoner to my own thirst. . . .

Had Charlie told Billy that I'd vanished for three days? Had Billy jumped to conclusions? Had Jacob really been asking me if I was still human? Making sure that the werewolves' treaty was unbroken - that none of the Cullens had dared to bite a human . . . bite, not kill . . . ?

But did he honestly think I would come home to Charlie if that was the case?

Edward shook me. "Bella?" he asked, truly anxious now.

"I think . . . I think he was checking," I mumbled. "Checking to make sure. That I'm human, I mean."

Edward stiffened, and a low hiss sounded in my ear.

"We'll have to leave," I whispered. "Before. So that it doesn't break the treaty. We won't ever be able to come back."

   
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