Home > Eclipse (Twilight #3)(4)

Eclipse (Twilight #3)(4)
Author: Stephenie Meyer

I knew that the scent of my blood?so much sweeter to him than any other person's blood, truly like wine beside water to an alcoholic?caused him actual pain from the burning thirst it engendered. But he didn't seem to shy away from it as much as he once had. I could only dimly imagine the Herculean effort behind this simple gesture.

It made me sad that he had to try so hard. I comforted myself with the knowledge that I wouldn't be causing him pain much longer.

I heard Charlie approaching then, stamping his feet on the way to express his customary displeasure with our guest. Edward's eyes snapped open and let our hands fall, keeping them twined.

"Good evening, Charlie." Edward was always flawlessly polite, though Charlie didn't deserve it.

Charlie grunted at him, and then stood there with his arms crossed over his chest. He was taking the idea of parental supervision to extremes lately.

"I brought another set of applications," Edward told me then, holding up a stuffed manila envelope. He was wearing a roll of stamps like a ring around his littlest finger.

I groaned. How were there any colleges left that he hadn't forced me to apply to already? And how did he keep finding these loophole openings? It was so late in the year.

He smiled as if he could read my thoughts; they must have been very obvious on my face. "There are still a few open deadlines. And a few places willing to make exceptions."

I could just imagine the motivations behind such exceptions. And the dollar amounts involved.

Edward laughed at my expression.

"Shall we?" he asked, towing me toward the kitchen table.

Charlie huffed and followed behind, though he could hardly complain about the activity on tonight's agenda. He'd been pestering me to make a decision about college on a daily basis.

I cleared the table quickly while Edward organized an intimidating stack of forms. When I moved Wuthering Heights to the counter, Edward raised one eyebrow. I knew what he was thinking, but Charlie interrupted before Edward could comment.

"Speaking of college applications, Edward," Charlie said, his tone even more sullen?he tried to avoid addressing Edward directly, and when he had to, it exacerbated his bad mood. "Bella and I were just talking about next year. Have you decided where you're going to school?" Edward smiled up at Charlie and his voice was friendly. "Not yet. I've received a few acceptance letters, but I'm still weighing my options." "Where have you been accepted?" Charlie pressed. "Syracuse?Harvard?Dartmouth?and I just got accepted to the University of Alaska Southeast today." Edward turned his face slightly to the side so that he could wink at me. I stifled a giggle.

"Harvard? Dartmouth?" Charlie mumbled, unable to conceal his awe. "Well that's pretty?that's something. Yeah, but the University of Alaska?you wouldn't really consider that when you could go Ivy League. I mean, your father would want you to?" "Carlisle's always fine with whatever I choose to do," Edward told him serenely. "Hmph." "Guess what, Edward?" I asked in a bright voice, playing along. "What, Bella?" I pointed to the thick envelope on the counter. "I just got my acceptance to the University of Alaska!" "Congratulations!" He grinned. "What a coincidence." Charlie's eyes narrowed and he glared back and forth between the two of us. "Fine," he muttered after a minute. "I'm going to watch the game, Bella. Nine-thirty." That was his usual parting command. "Er, Dad? Remember the very recent discussion about my freedom??" He sighed. "Right. Okay, ten-thirty. You still have a curfew on school nights." "Bella's no longer grounded?" Edward asked. Though I knew he wasn't really surprised, I couldn't detect any false note to the sudden excitement in his voice. "Conditionally," Charlie corrected through his teeth. "What's it to you?" I frowned at my dad, but he didn't see. "It's just good to know," Edward said. "Alice has been itching for a shopping partner, and I'm sure Bella would love to see some city lights." He smiled at me. But Charlie growled, "No!" and his face flushed purple. "Dad! What's the problem?" He made an effort to unclench his teeth. "I don't want you going to Seattle right now." "Huh?" "I told you about that story in the paper?there's some kind of gang on a killing spree in Seattle and I want you to steer clear, okay?" I rolled my eyes. "Dad, there's a better chance that I'll get struck by lightning than the one day I'm in Seattle?" "No, that's fine, Charlie," Edward said, interrupting me. "I didn't mean Seattle. I was thinking Portland, actually. I wouldn't have Bella in Seattle, either. Of course not." I looked at him in disbelief, but he had Charlie's newspaper in his hands and he was reading the front page intently. He must have been trying to placate my dad. The idea of being in danger from even the most deadly of humans while I was with Alice or Edward was downright hilarious.

It worked. Charlie stared at Edward for one second more, and then shrugged. "Fine." He stalked off toward the living room, in a bit of a hurry now?maybe he didn't want to miss tip-off. I waited till the TV was on, so that Charlie wouldn't be able to hear me. "What?," I started to ask. "Hold on," Edward said without looking up from the paper. His eyes stayed focused on the page as he pushed the first application toward me across the table. "I think you can recycle your essays for this one. Same questions." Charlie must still be listening. I sighed and started to fill out the repetitive information: name, address, social?. After a few minutes I glanced up, but Edward was now staring pensively out the window. As I bent my head back to my work, I noticed for the first time the name of the school. I snorted and shoved the papers aside. "Bella?" "Be serious, Edward. Dartmouth?" Edward lifted the discarded application and laid it gently in front of me again. "I think you'd like New Hampshire," he said. "There's a full complement of night courses for me, and the forests are conveniently located for the avid hiker. Plentiful wildlife." He pulled out that crooked smile he knew I couldn't resist.

I took a deep breath through my nose. "I'll let you pay me back, if that makes you happy," he promised. "If you want, I can charge you interest." "Like I could even get in without some enormous bribe. Or was that part of the loan? The new Cullen wing of the library? Ugh. Why are we having this discussion again?" "Will you just fill out the application, please, Bella? It won't hurt you to apply." My jaw flexed. "You know what? I don't think I will." I reached for the papers, planning to crumple them into a suitable shape for lobbing at the trashcan, but they were already gone. I stared at the empty table for a moment, and then at Edward. He didn't appear to have moved, but the application was probably already tucked away in his jacket. "What are you doing?" I demanded. "I sign your name better than you do yourself. You've already written the essays." "You're going way overboard with this, you know." I whispered on the off chance that Charlie wasn't completely lost in the game. "I really don't need to apply anywhere else. I've been accepted in Alaska. I can almost afford the first semester's tuition. It's as good an alibi as any. There's no need to throw away a bunch of money, no matter whose it is."

   
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