Home > Eclipse (Twilight #3)(17)

Eclipse (Twilight #3)(17)
Author: Stephenie Meyer

Jacob raised his eyebrows, but made no other move. "Why haven't you told her?"

They faced each other in silence for a long moment. More students gathered behind Tyler and Austin. I saw Mike next to Ben - Mike had one hand on Ben's shoulder, like he was holding him in place.

In the dead silence, all the details suddenly fell into place for me with a burst of intuition.

Something Edward didn't want me to know.

Something that Jacob wouldn't have kept from me.

Something that had the Cullens and the wolves both in the woods, moving in hazardous proximity to each other.

Something that would cause Edward to insist that I fly across the country.

Something that Alice had seen in a vision last week - a vision Edward had lied to me about.

Something I'd been waiting for anyway. Something I knew would happen again, as much as I might wish it never would. It was never going to end, was it?

I heard the quick gasp, gasp, gasp, gasp of the air dragging through my lips, but I couldn't stop it. It looked like the school was shaking, like there was an earthquake, but I knew it was my own trembling that caused the illusion.

"She came back for me," I choked out.

Victoria was never going to give up till I was dead. She would keep repeating the same pattern - feint and run, feint and run - until she found a hole through my defenders.

Maybe I'd get lucky. Maybe the Volturi would come for me first - they'd kill me quicker, at least.

Edward held me tight to his side, angling his body so that he was still between me and Jacob, and stroked my face with anxious hands. "It's fine," he whispered to me. "It's fine. I'll never let her get close to you, it's fine."

Then he glared at Jacob. "Does that answer your question, mongrel?"

"You don't think Bella has a right to know?" Jacob challenged. "It's her life."

Edward kept his voice muted; even Tyler, edging forward by inches, would be unable to hear. "Why should she be frightened when she was never in danger?"

"Better frightened than lied to."

I tried to pull myself together, but my eyes were swimming in moisture. I could see it behind my lids - I could see Victoria's face, her lips pulled back over her teeth, her crimson eyes glowing with the obsession of her vendetta; she held Edward responsible for the demise of her love, James. She wouldn't stop until his love was taken from him, too.

Edward wiped the tears from my cheek with his fingertips.

"Do you really think hurting her is better than protecting her?" he murmured.

"She's tougher than you think," Jacob said. "And she's been through worse."

Abruptly, Jacob's expression shifted, and he was staring at Edward with an odd, speculative expression. His eyes narrowed like he was trying to do a difficult math problem in his head.

I felt Edward cringe. I glanced up at him, and his face was contorted in what could only be pain. For one ghastly moment, I was reminded of our afternoon in Italy, in the macabre tower room of the Volturi, where Jane had tortured Edward with her malignant gift, burning him with her thoughts alone. . . .

The memory snapped me out of my near hysteria and put everything in perspective. Because I'd rather Victoria killed me a hundred times over than watch Edward suffer that way again.

"That's funny," Jacob said, laughing as he watched Edward's face.

Edward winced, but smoothed his expression with a little effort. He couldn't quite hide the agony in his eyes.

I glanced, wide-eyed, from Edward's grimace to Jacob's sneer.

"What are you doing to him?" I demanded.

"It's nothing, Bella," Edward told me quietly. "Jacob just has a good memory, that's all."

Jacob grinned, and Edward winced again.

"Stop it! Whatever you're doing."

"Sure, if you want." Jacob shrugged. "It's his own fault if he doesn't like the things I remember, though."

I glared at him, and he smiled back impishly - like a kid caught doing something he knows he shouldn't by someone who he knows won't punish him.

"The principal's on his way to discourage loitering on school property," Edward murmured to me. "Let's get to English, Bella, so you're not involved."

"Overprotective, isn't he?" Jacob said, talking just to me. "A little trouble makes life fun. Let me guess, you're not allowed to have fun, are you?"

Edward glowered, and his lips pulled back from his teeth ever so slightly.

"Shut up, Jake," I said.

Jacob laughed. "That sounds like a no. Hey, if you ever feel like having a life again, you could come see me. I've still got your motorcycle in my garage."

This news distracted me. "You were supposed to sell that. You promised Charlie you would." If I hadn't begged on Jake's behalf - after all, he'd put weeks of labor into both motorcycles, and he deserved some kind of payback - Charlie would have thrown my bike in a Dumpster. And possibly set that Dumpster on fire.

"Yeah, right. Like I would do that. It belongs to you, not me. Anyway, I'll hold on to it until you want it back."

A tiny hint of the smile I remembered was suddenly playing around the edges of his lips.

"Jake . . ."

He leaned forward, his face earnest now, the bitter sarcasm fading. "I think I might have been wrong before, you know, about not being able to be friends. Maybe we could manage it, on my side of the line. Come see me."

I was vividly conscious of Edward, his arms still wrapped protectively around me, motionless as a stone. I shot a look at his face - it was calm, patient.

"I, er, don't know about that, Jake."

Jacob dropped the antagonistic faade completely. It was like he'd forgotten Edward was there, or at least he was determined to act that way. "I miss you every day, Bella. It's not the same without you."

"I know and I'm sorry, Jake, I just . . ."

He shook his head, and sighed. "I know. Doesn't matter, right? I guess I'll survive or something. Who needs friends?" He grimaced, trying to cover the pain with a thin attempt at bravado.

Jacob's suffering had always triggered my protective side. It was not entirely rational - Jacob was hardly in need of any physical protection I could offer. But my arms, pinned beneath Edward's, yearned to reach out to him. To wrap around his big, warm waist in a silent promise of acceptance and comfort.

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