Home > Eclipse (Twilight #3)(3)

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

It wasn't something I was at liberty to explain. It was against the rules for normal people?human people like me and Charlie?to know about the clandestine world full of myths and monsters that existed secretly around us. I knew all about that world?and I was in no small amount of trouble as a result. I wasn't about to get Charlie in the same trouble.

"With Jacob there is?a conflict," I said slowly. "A conflict about the friendship thing, I mean. Friendship doesn't always seem to be enough for Jake." I wound my excuse out of details that were true but insignificant, hardly crucial compared to the fact that Jacob's werewolf pack bitterly hated Edward's vampire family?and therefore me, too, as I fully intended to join that family. It just wasn't something I could work out with him in a note, and he wouldn't answer my calls. But my plan to deal with the werewolf in person had definitely not gone over will with the vampires.

"Isn't Edward up for a little healthy competition?" Charlie's voice was sarcastic now.

I leveled a dark look at him. "There's no competition."

"You're hurting Jake's feelings, avoiding him like this. He'd rather be just friends than nothing."

Oh, now I was avoiding him?

"I'm pretty sure Jake doesn't want to be friends at all." The words burned in my mouth. "Where'd you get that idea, anyway?"

Charlie looked embarrassed now. "The subject might have come up today with Billy?."

"You and Billy gossip like old women," I complained, stabbing my fork viciously into the congealed spaghetti on my plate.

"Billy's worried about Jacob," Charlie said. "Jake's having a hard time right now?. He's depressed."

I winced, but kept my eyes on the blob.

"And then you were always so happy after spending the day with Jake." Charlie sighed.

"I'm happy now," I growled fiercely through my teeth.

The contrast between my words and tone broke through the tension. Charlie burst into laughter, and I had to join in.

"Okay, okay," I agreed. "Balance."

"And Jacob," he insisted.

"I'll try."

"Good. Find that balance, Bella. And, oh, yeah, you've got some mail," Charlie said, closing the subject with no attempt at subtlety. "It's by the stove."

I didn't move, my thoughts twisting into snarls around Jacob's name. It was most likely junk mail; I'd just gotten a package from my mom yesterday and I wasn't expecting anything else.

Charlie shoved his chair away from the table stretched as he got to his feet. He took his plate to the sink, but before he turned the water on to rinse it, he paused to toss a thick envelope at me. The letter skidded across the table and thunked into my elbow.

"Er, thanks," I muttered, puzzled by his pushiness. Then I saw the return address?the letter was from the University of Alaska Southeast. "That was quick. I guess I missed the deadline on that one, too."

Charlie chuckled.

I flipped the envelope over and then glared up at him. "It's open."

"I was curious."

"I'm shocked, Sheriff. That's a federal crime."

"Oh, just read it."

I pulled out the letter, and a folded schedule of courses.

"Congratulations," he said before I could read anything. "Your first acceptance."

"Thanks, Dad."

"We should talk about tuition. I've got some money saved up?"

"Hey, hey, none of that. I'm not touching your retirement, Dad. I've got my college fund." What was left of it?and there hadn't been much to begin with.

Charlie frowned. "Some of these places are pretty pricey, Bells. I want to help. You don't have to go all the way to Alaska just because it's cheaper."

It wasn't cheaper, not at all. But it was far away, and Juneau had an average of three hundred twenty-one overcast days per year. The first was my prerequisite, the second was Edward's.

"I've got it covered. Besides, there's lots of financial aid out there. It's easy to get loans." I hoped my bluff wasn't too obvious. I hadn't actually done a lot of research on the subject.

"So?," Charlie began, and then pursed his lips and looked away.

"So what?"

"Nothing. I was just?" He frowned. "Just wondering what?Edward's plans are for next year?"

"Oh."

"Well?"

Three quick raps on the door saved me. Charlie rolled his eyes and I jumped up.

"Coming!" I called while Charlie mumbled something that sounded like, "Go away." I ignored him and went to let Edward in.

I wrenched the door out of my way?ridiculously eager?and there he was, my personal miracle.

Time had not made me immune to the perfection of his face, and I was sure that I would never take any aspect of him for granted. My eyes traced over his pale white features; the hard square of his jaw, the softer curve of his full lips?twisted up into a smile now, the straight line of his nose, the sharp angle of his cheekbones, the smooth marble span of his forehead?partially obscured by a tangle of rain-darkened bronze hair?.

I saved his eyes for last, knowing that when I looked into them I was likely to lose my train of thought. They were wide, warm with liquid gold, and framed by a thick fringe of black lashes. Staring into his eyes always made me feel extraordinary?sort of like my bones were turning spongy. I was also a little lightheaded, but that could have been because I'd forgotten to keep breathing.

It was a face any male model in the world would trade his soul for. Of course, that might be exactly the asking price: one soul.

No. I didn't believe that. I felt guilty for even thinking it, and was glad?as I was often glad?that I was the one person whose thoughts were a mystery to Edward.

I reached for his hand, and sighed when his cold fingers found mine. His touch brought with it the strangest sense of relief?as if I'd been in pain and than pain had suddenly ceased.

"Hey." I smiled a little at my anticlimactic greeting.

He raised our interlaced fingers to brush my cheek with the back of his hand. "How was your afternoon?"

"Slow."

"For me, as well."

He pulled my wrist up to his face, our hands still twisted together. His eyes closed as his nose skimmed along the skin there, and he smiled gently without opening them. Enjoying the bouquet while resisting the wine, as he'd once put it.

   
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