Home > Eclipse (Twilight #3)(8)

Eclipse (Twilight #3)(8)
Author: Stephenie Meyer

"Whatever you're thinking, Alice, I doubt I'm that free."

"Free is free, right?" she insisted.

"I'm sure I still have boundaries - like the continental U.S., for example."

Angela and Ben laughed, but Alice grimaced in real disappointment.

"So what are we doing tonight?" she persisted.

"Nothing. Look, let's give it a couple of days to make sure he wasn't joking. It's a school night, anyway." "We'll celebrate this weekend, then." Alice's enthusiasm was impossible to repress.

"Sure," I said, hoping to placate her. I knew I wasn't going to do anything too outlandish; it would be safer to take it slow with Charlie. Give him a chance to appreciate how trustworthy and mature I was before I asked for any favors.

Angela and Alice started talking about options; Ben joined the conversation, setting his comics aside. My attention drifted. I was surprised to find that the subject of my freedom was suddenly not as gratifying as it had been just a moment ago. While they discussed things to do in Port Angeles or maybe Hoquiam, I began to feel disgruntled.

It didn't take long to determine where my restlessness stemmed from.

Ever since I'd said goodbye to Jacob Black in the forest outside my home, I'd been plagued by a persistent, uncomfortable intrusion of a specific mental picture. It popped into my thoughts at regular intervals like some annoying alarm clock set to sound every half hour, filling my head with the image of Jacob's face crumpled in pain. This was the last memory I had of him.

As the disturbing vision struck again, I knew exactly why I was dissatisfied with my liberty. Because it was incomplete.

Sure, I was free to go to anywhere I wanted - except La Push; free to do anything I wanted - except see Jacob. I frowned at the table. There had to be some kind of middle ground.

"Alice? Alice!"

Angela's voice yanked me from my reverie. She was waving her hand back and forth in front of Alice's blank, staring face. Alice's expression was something I recognized - an expression that sent an automatic shock of panic through my body. The vacant look in her eyes told me that she was seeing something very different from the mundane lunchroom scene that surrounded us, but something that was every bit as real in its own way. Something that was coming, something that would happen soon. I felt the blood slither from my face.

Then Edward laughed, a very natural, relaxed sound. Angela and Ben looked toward him, but my eyes were locked on Alice. She jumped suddenly, as if someone had kicked her under the table.

"Is it naptime already, Alice?" Edward teased.

Alice was herself again. "Sorry, I was daydreaming, I guess."

"Daydreaming's better than facing two more hours of school," Ben said.

Alice threw herself back into the conversation with more animation than before - just a little bit too much. Once I saw her eyes lock with Edward's, only for a moment, and then she looked back to Angela before anyone else noticed. Edward was quiet, playing absentmindedly with a strand of my hair.

I waited anxiously for a chance to ask Edward what Alice had seen in her vision, but the afternoon passed without one minute of alone time.

It felt odd to me, almost deliberate. After lunch, Edward slowed his pace to match Ben's, talking about some assignment I knew he'd already finished. Then there was always someone else there between classes, though we usually had a few minutes to ourselves. When the final bell rang, Edward struck up a conversation with Mike Newton of all people, falling into step beside him as Mike headed for the parking lot. I trailed behind, letting Edward tow me along.

I listened, confused, while Mike answered Edward's unusually friendly queries. It seemed Mike was having car troubles.

". . . but I just replaced the battery," Mike was saying. His eyes darted ahead and then back to Edward warily. Mystified, just like I was.

"Perhaps it's the cables?" Edward offered.

"Maybe. I really don't know anything about cars," Mike admitted. "I need to have someone look at it, but I can't afford to take it to Dowling's."

I opened my mouth to suggest my mechanic, and then snapped it shut again. My mechanic was busy these days - busy running around as a giant wolf.

"I know a few things - I could take a look, if you like," Edward offered. "Just let me drop Alice and Bella at home."

Mike and I both stared at Edward with our mouths hanging open. "Er . . . thanks," Mike mumbled when he recovered. "But I have to get to work. Maybe some other time."

"Absolutely."

"See ya." Mike climbed into his car, shaking his head in disbelief.

Edward's Volvo, with Alice already inside, was just two cars away.

"What was that about?" I muttered as Edward held the passenger door for me.

"Just being helpful," Edward answered.

And then Alice, waiting in the backseat, was babbling at top speed.

"You're really not that good a mechanic, Edward. Maybe you should have Rosalie take a look at it tonight, just so you look good if Mike decides to let you help, you know. Not that it wouldn't be fun to watch his face if Rosalie showed up to help. But since Rosalie is supposed to be across the country attending college, I guess that's not the best idea. Too bad. Though I suppose, for Mike's car, you'll do. It's only within the finer tunings of a good Italian sports car that you're out of your depth. And speaking of Italy and sports cars that I stole there, you still owe me a yellow Porsche. I don't know that I want to wait for Christmas. . . ."

I stopped listening after a minute, letting her quick voice become just a hum in the background as I settled into my patient mode.

It looked to me like Edward was trying to avoid my questions. Fine. He would have to be alone with me soon enough. It was only a matter of time.

Edward seemed to realize that, too. He dropped Alice at the mouth of the Cullens' drive as usual, though by this point I half expected him to drive her to the door and walk her in.

As she got out, Alice threw a sharp look at his face. Edward seemed completely at ease.

"See you later," he said. And then, ever so slightly, he nodded.

Alice turned to disappear into the trees.

He was quiet as he turned the car around and headed back to Forks. I waited, wondering if he would bring it up himself. He didn't, and this made me tense. What had Alice seen today at lunch? Something he didn't want to tell me, and I tried to think of a reason why he would keep secrets. Maybe it would be better to prepare myself before I asked. I didn't want to freak out and have him think I couldn't handle it, whatever it was.

   
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