Submission for Fandom4 LLS
Title: Lost Lake
Banner: Mina Rivera
Disclaimer: Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer, these words belong to me.
There are yellow ribbons tied to some of the trees, yellow signs that we're here. I look at Alice, and she smiles at me. The kind of hopeful smile one gives a best friend.
"Do you think Emmett's already here?" I agreed to this for two reasons, he was one of them.
"No truck. No Emmett."
"Is this the only way in?"
"The only safe way." Jasper is creepy when he wants to be. Eyes boring into me, like they're trying to move me, scare me.
I don't want to get out of the car. I don't want to be in this car in the first place, I want to be in the truck. I want to be at home, forgetting that I ever said yes to this stupid idea. I am so not the outdoorsy type. Spiders, sitting on wet things, the sun in the morning heating me up, making my eyes itch. I don't want any of it.
"Just ignore him. We're gonna have fun, you'll see."
"I don't see."
"Then I'll have to do all the seeing for you. Once the others get here, you'll remember why this was a good idea. I promise."
"Well... I guess if you promise..." I can feel her willing me to get excited.
"I swear on daisy chains and fake owls."
"Daisy chains and fake owls, huh?" I can't not let in the ease she makes me feel, the sleepy warm that clothes my heart by the memories she invokes. "You can't use that for like, a whole 'nother year."
She pokes her tongue out, and pulls my hair. "You love me."
"Is this the beginning of a threesome?"
"Is this the beginning of a murder? Because I brought a weapon, and I'm not afraid to use it." I try to give Jasper my best crazy eyes. My eyes feel like they might pop out of my head from the willing, willing him to look away first.
"Quit it, you two." Alice pokes Jasper in the side of the face forcing him to turn to her, and she just glares at me. I win.
A rumbling signals the arrival of my other favourite people, and I hop out of the cramped VW bug I was forced to ride in for seven hours.
The longest seven hours filled with perfect fantasy daydreams, and horror themed nights, in equal measure.
"Fucking finally." Rosalie swings her legs out and pushes her sunglasses up onto her head. "Miss me?"
"Always. Get over here, I'm dying without you."
"Yeah right, we all know what you're really dying for." She wags her eyebrows, drops her shades, and jumps out of the truck so he can push the seat forward and get out.
The second reason I'm here. The reason for my madness. The answer to all of life's questions, and my sole purpose for existing.
His eyes are hazel light, almost green today. His copper brown hair messed up only on one side. He must have slept on the way here. I wonder if his dreams are anything like mine. I wonder if his thoughts exist in the same universe as the one I am constantly lusting after him in.
"I'm glad you came."
My heart beats to the sound of each word that comes out of his mouth, my face tells him everything I'm thinking, everything I'm feeling, betraying me always.
"Help me with this, bro." Emmett chucks a huge bag at Edward, knocking him in the chest. Poles. Sticks.
"Let's go, we need to pitch before dark."
Me, Bella. Him, Edward. Camping. Together. For two days.
"So... Do you think he's gonna ask you to share his tent?"
"Alice!" Yes. Ask me. Please ask me. "I really don't want to sleep in a tent at all, I especially don't want to sleep in one alone. Can't Jasper share with Edward and you and me take yours? Yours is better than mine anyway. Please? Please!"
"No way, Beelzebub. Try again! Although, if you really don't want your tent, we'll swap ya? Are you kidding, Charlie has the best gear. You just don't know what you're working with."
"Yeah. That's my problem."
The trees are farther apart than I thought they would be. The outside looks like a dark world of leaves and danger, the daytime's pocket of forever darkness, living here in plain sight. As if a forest is a normal thing. As if the secrecy of the earth is in any way safe.
My steps are careful. My eyes are everywhere.
This is not a designated campsite. A park for like-minded people coming to take up house for the starry nights, hiking in the wilderness during the days.
This is Lost Lake, a thicket of nature plonked in the middle of anywhere that will take it.
We are hot, sticky beaming some of the time, torrential rain, rain please don't go away the rest of the time. I love the rain. I just don't want to sleep in it.
A fallen tree, massive, and beautifully tragic, dying alone out here, left only among its tree friends.
"Well that's not creepy at all."
On the other side of the tree lives a car, rusty, and old. It too has become a part of the earth it sits upon.
"Who doesn't come back for their car?"
"Okay Jasper, we get it, we're camping in the woods, let the horror ensue."
"You don't believe in scary stories?" Edward almost seems to come out of nowhere, except, I knew where he was, who he was looking at, and the moment he began to speak. When he moves, I move, just to learn him a little better, just to get a little closer.
"Scary stories yeah, but what are the odds that something gruesome will happen here? Of all places, this town is the total opposite of housing serial killers and boogeymen."
"Charlie catches 'em quick."
"No shit. Remember last year when that guy hung all those dead dog parts around the outside of his house? Guy was a loon. Charlie shut that shit down pronto. Doesn't get much crazier than that."
The chatter has taken him away from me again. The chance of him speaking to me again in the next couple of hours are slim. Edward is definitely the silent type. If you're not talking to him, or directly asking him to speak back with exciting... nay, interesting information on some topic he knows much about, then you're not going to see much out of him in the way of conversation.
"How much longer?"
"Are we there yet?"
"Simmer down newbies, the hike is part of it don't ya know."
"Em, can you carry me?"
"No way, he's my monkey man." Rose jumps on his back, almost toppling him over, the bags he was carrying now on the floor left behind.
Jasper follows suit, and begins to chase Alice. His floppy blonde hair behind his ears, biggest grin I've ever seen. His face is always kind of like that, dial permanently stuck at euphoria. Alice squeals, and loses a shoe trying to kick her way through the longer than usual grass.
"She borrowed those from me, and they're a size too big for her baby feet."
He doesn't say anything back, because why would he, and just kinda smiles.
"Would it be weird if I said I've really been looking forward to camping with you?" And when he does speak, it's perfect.
My stomach is in my shoes, my perfectly fitted boots, old and worn but still completely wear worthy. He's smiling at me. Not a big smile, or a kind of crazed smile, or the goofy smile of a best friend, but a small smile, a secret smile. It's not obvious, but I see it. And it's all for me.
"Definitely weird. But you know, the good kind. Definitely the good kind." His hand through his coat pocket brushes my bare arm. He's reaching out to touch me but through a barrier because he's not quite sure yet? Because this is not the time yet? Because he's careful?
His feet are wonky in the grass as he moves closer but not too close. Because, weird?
"I realised on the way here that I was excited to talk to you." The sun is in the process of smothering the world with its last shot of light, bright orange tree tops, girls giggling in the background, I am so happy. This is good. This is progress. This is my heart beating drums in my chest.
"This place is sort of beautiful actually. Don't you think?" I'm looking and he's looking, his eyes burning brightly something like the sky in the morning. His hand is in his hair, out of his pocket, doing sexy things with wild strands.
"I think you're sort of beautiful actually."
My face doesn't feel real. My smiling is comically ridiculous at this point I'm sure but I can't feel it so I don't know. I'm beautiful. Edward. Beautiful Edward.
I just... chuckle? And begin to feel the world again as my face betrays me, rosy cheeks and all.
"Bellaaaaa! Help, ha ha, no, no, noooo, Bellaaa!" Jasper and Emmett are chasing the girls with what looks like a worm on a stick.
"My god, let's go rescue 'em, huh?"
My water bottle is empty, and my back is sweating but we're finally here. Emmett said stop, so I guess we found the right spot. I don't know what determines the right spot but I trust him, and at this point I have no choice, so I go about sorting the bits and pieces of everything I need to stay hidden from creepy crawlies, and Jasper. I smile to myself because what an obvious thing to think. My silent laughter to myself is probably one of the weird things people think about when they think of me. It's a thing I guess. I like to make myself laugh, doesn't everybody? Evidently not.
"Here, I brought extra." Alice hands me four little bottles of vodka that she stole from the supply at the hotel.
"I don't want to drink. Why do I always need to explain this to you?" I know I'm trying to have a stern face but her eyes are so big and her heart is so soft I just, fail.
I take the vodka.
I take the bits and pieces of things I don't know the names of, defeated already.
"So... I got what you want, I got what you need..." I say as I walk over to Edward carefully pitching his tent, having finished it by more than halfway already.
"Strawberry laces, or vodka?" I hold out both, and hope I'm cute enough to get him to do what I want.
"Well, I don't drink. Aaand, if I eat after midnight, I turn into a monster so..."
"Midnight? It's like seven. We have hours..." To be together. To talk, or maybe hold hands. Or kiss. I could go for some kissing. Kissing Edward. Kissing...
"Huh? Yeah? Yes. Seven. Midnight. What?" He does that thing where I know he knows what I'm thinking. And instead of responding to my thoughts, he just, smiles, he just, acknowledges it with his cute boy face, and says nothing.
"It's going to take that long for me to put that monstrosity together."
"Hey! I'll have you know Charlie's tent is top notch. Or so Jasper says, and well..."
"Jasper knows best?"
"I don't know. Charlie said the tent was in the shed, so I went to the shed and there the tent was."
"An eight man tent?"
"No, it's the one he uses when he fishes for the weekend."
"Yeah. Eight man."
"Why would he need..."
"Maybe he's not fishing alone?"
"I..." Charlie what?
"I'll take the laces. What the hell, right?" Totally distracting me.
"But what about your monster? I don't know if I can handle that."
His face changes. Like a switch, he's not light anymore. What happened? What did I say?
He holds out his hand for me to give him the candy.
"Me either." He takes it and turns around, walking away from me.
Why so serious? I broke the flow. The flow has stopped flowing towards me, and now I'm naked and dry, waiting for water, just a drop, a small drop of... Edward and his Edward words making sweet honey all over my face.
"How did we all end up in my tent? If I recall, I was the one trying to get away from it."
"Only so you wouldn't be alone. You big wuss."
"Yes. I am a wuss. In the woods, I am a big wuss, wussing out at everything. Hey, I'm not ashamed."
"It's just so big in here." Rose looks to Emmett and climbs into his lap. Gross.
They're all going to be fucking in my tent.
"Don't even think about it."
"Where are the snacks?"
"Oh, in Emmett's hold-all. Here... He padlocked it." Rose throws the keys to Alice, and she heads out.
"Hey, wait..." She gives me that knowing look. Like, she knows my words, and thoughts and what might happen next.
"Okay, so, Jasper's going to tell Edward you wanna share your sleeping bag with him."
"I think it's time we stop pussy footing around this now Bella, it's not like we all don't know what you both want."
"Evidently not. Tent, Alice. I want to share my tent. Sharing a sleeping bag is, sex is... Just, tell him to lay off, okay?"
"Jeez, this bag is huge." We get to Emmett's tent, off in the trees for some reason. Although, now I think about it, being so far away from the rest of us is probably better, the last thing I want is to hear them being disgusting with each other.
"There are six of us."
"Yeah well still, I don't know if I can lift it."
"Of course you c-..."
"What was that?" Alice flies around, dropping the bag on my foot.
"Alice! What the fuck? What was what? Man, that hurt."
"You didn't hear that?"
"Very funny, Alice." I squeeze my foot with my other foot trying to add pressure to the immense pain. I don't know why I do this, somehow it just feels better.
"I'm serious, it was like a moaning or something."
"I don't hear..."
We listen to whatever it is I'm supposed to be shushing for and I still don't hear anything. Alice is gripping my wrist so tight, it hurts.
"Hey! Hey, Alice. I'm sure it was nothing, a bird, or something. It's okay." I remove her hand, and try to get her to look at me instead of off somewhere in the trees. "You with me, girly?"
"Yeah, yes. Oh god. I freaked. Let's just get back, okay?"
"We come bearing gifts. Now, if we count out everything evenly, we can..."
"I'll take those, thank you very much."
"Give it up, baby. We're dealing with animals, here. Vicious, hungry animals."
Edward didn't take anything, he's just sitting with his legs crossed, fiddling with... the packet of strawberry laces.
"I snagged you a Coke." I hand it to him and he takes it hesitantly. "Are you... You don't care about stuff like other people do."
"What does that mean?"
"I don't know. Nothing seems... Important. Or, you don't scramble. You are... thoughtful, I guess is what I'm trying to say. Ever so eloquently."
"Do you want to take a walk with me, Bella? Get out of here for a while?"
"Sure. Yes. I'd like that."
The trees are everywhere, it's hard to know which way to go, which way the campsite naturally wants us to go. Still we find a direction as one always does. The trees up ahead a little twisted to form an opening. The dark is coming, just enough light left for a chance at romance. Just enough time left for me to throw myself awkwardly into the path of him.
"You're not drinking either?"
"Because you just don't want to, or, you don't drink?" I'm sure I've seen him drinking at parties, dinners, before.
"I don't really care for it. Or how it makes people act."
"Me either. Although in my case, it's more like, how I might act." I don't know if my sheepish smile is actually that, or just creepy looking. He doesn't really react to me.
We continue to walk, walking through the forest in silence. Eventually, we come across another fallen tree. Ripped from the earth, ripped from it's home. Left to fall, left to rot, to house other creatures now.
He leans against the trunk, and I want to lean into him, press myself to him. But he doesn't seem open, not yet. He's not looking at me, not yet.
The grass gently dances at its end, skimming the wings of the fireflies that tease at it. The wildflowers are scattered in groups of families, blowing together for warmth as the day turns to night.
"In all my worrying about insects, and being alone in the end, this place, nature, I don't know, it's kind of amazing." I try to move closer, to fall into his world even for one moment.
"Twilight. It makes everything seem beautiful. Even the things that aren't, the things that can't possibly be."
"Oh yeah? Like what?" He faces me, looking me right in the eyes, and I think I might be breathing too much, or maybe not enough, it's hard to tell. His face is a map of ideas, and sweet kisses I wish I could leave there.
The world spins madly in several directions as my heart pounds in my head.
"We have to go." He grabs my hand and pulls me down, I scrape the backs of my legs on the trunk, and it hurts.
Edward wasn't howling, the trees were. Why were the trees howling?
"What is that? I think that's what Alice heard, I mean, when we went to get snacks, she heard something. I don't know. Edward..." He's pulling me really fast as we run, and I fall into the ground one foot after the other over and over.
"What?" I am? "Ugh. My legs hurt, I caught them on the bark."
"Be quiet." Edward slams us into another tree, holding my arms tightly, almost too tightly back against the rough trunk. I can hardly breathe, I'm scared. I don't know what is happening.
The howls seems further away now. That's good. That's definitely good. But what if they're further away from us, but closer to the others?
"She will be fine." How? How do you know that? I think he knows I'm not convinced. "Bella..." His face is only a beat from my own, his mouth only a word away from kissing me. "Do you trust me?"
I don't know. I don't know what we're dealing with.
He squeezes my arms again, his hair tickles my face and I relax.
I do feel safe with him. He seems in control. Yeah, he knows what to do in a situation like this. Unlike me, I'm a freezer. I freeze in frightening situations. And I'm okay, we're okay. We got away in time.
"Yes. I trust you."
"No. Don't leave. Please?"
"Bella, I have to see how many."
"How many what?"
"Wolves? Like, wolves?"
"Big dog wolves. Yes."
I have never seen a wolf, not even a coyote, hyena. Wolves? What the actual fuck?
"You will be fine. I promise. I'll be minutes, if that."
"What are you gonna do? You can't seriously be trying to seek them out?" He's just Edward, no weapons, not a hunting rifle. "Oh, here..." I pull my Spyderco out from my boot, and give it to him. I almost forgot I had it with me. "Please take this, just in case."
"A knife?" He seems surprised. I can't help but smile, even in this moment. I might be a freezer but I'm not about to get maimed. When the cut gets to cutting, I'm going to be the one holding the weapon. "Keep it. Just in case." He winks at me and runs through the trees. Soundlessly. Gone.
"Edward..." It's just a breath but I'm suddenly aware that I need to be invisible.
Okay. I can do this. Don't be a coward, Bella. Think about it.
I stand back to back with this magnificent tree, cloaking myself in the now dark blue of night. The moon is high and low all at the same time, casting doubt on my hiding spot. It seems so close, the stars are nothing in the shadow of this spotlight before me.
I wonder what Alice is doing? Rose? Will they really be okay? Edward seemed to think so. Emmett is very strong. He knows this stuff. Fighting. Being good at most things. He's very typical.
Emmett. Wolves. Emmett fighting wolves. Emmett with his big arms around the back of a massive wolf.
This can't be real. Not here. Not us.
I open my knife, and grip the trunk with my other hand. I need to see, to see there, and here, and back again. My head hurts, my hands hurt, digging tiny hiding holes as if their lives depend on it. They do. Mine does.
Yeah, Alice and Rose will be fine. Surely a wolf would wait until we're asleep anyway. And I have no plan on doing that. As soon as Edward is back, we are out of here. Home. Where there are no wolves.
I have to tell Charlie.
What if they move into town? What if they hurt someone?
What was that? They're here! I'm ready. Where did it come from? Over there... Fuck. Breathe. Just breathe.
"It's me. It's only me."
"Oh my god, I was ready to stab you in the hand. Or you know, stab myself in the foot."
"Hey. Hey. Bella. Bella, look at me." His hands are on my face. His skin, on my skin, bringing me back to earth. "Give me that." He takes the knife from my shaking hand. "They've moved further east. You're safe. We're safe."
"I'm positive. Let's go."
"Wait!" I throw my arms around him, covering him in me. "I'm so glad you're here."
"Me too." He whispers, and as he pulls away I take the chance to smell him, to really take him in, the way he feels beneath my hands, and just as he is almost gone, as quick as a blink, he kisses me. On the cheek. His lips. On my face.
"Come on." He takes my hand, and we're running again. Running back to the others.
I am more than prepared with a tale of our misadventures, close calling it with some unseen beasts when we reach the campsite, and Jasper and Emmett are each standing on either side of Charlie's tent.
"How many?" Jasper says in not more than a whisper, still it sounds so clear.
"Outnumbered." Jasper says, clearly contemplating.
"Nothing we haven't faced before." Emmett, eyes on none of us. Conversing between themselves as if I'm not standing right here. Standing right here, still holding Edward's hand.
"Yeah, fuck it. I like those odds. Nothing to worry about."
"As long as we leave. Now."
"No. I'm not running. No way."
"Emmett, don't be reckless." Edward still seems concerned, Jasper and Emmett have relaxed considerably.
"He's right. I don't think leaving is warranted. They don't feel as close now. Maybe they sensed us. I mean..." Jasper looks right at me, "They can do that right, as animals. Sense danger and stuff?" His whole demeanour is different now. Like he only just noticed me.
"So we're staying?" Rose pokes her head out of the tent. "Because I was planning on tent sex, and I hate it when my plans get ruined."
"Babyyy." Emmett charges into the tent shaking it all over the place.
"So did she let you off work, or did you pull a sicky?" Rose, always straight to the point.
"Work? Let's not pretend Mrs. Olivarez and her pity is a real job. I play with her cats. If it weren't for her, I wouldn't make rent." That may be too harsh on myself, I love that family. That family has become my family due to their kindness.
"Hey, you do more than that. That woman's husband adores you. Plus, he needs the company at his age." Alice is my hero.
"If it weren't for her, your rent wouldn't be a third of what the rest of us pay."
"Fuck you, Rosalie. You're just jealous."
"Of course I am."
"Now now ladies, play nice." Emmett hands out more drinks, and I pass. Again. Even if I did drink, there is no way I would be getting sloshed knowing there are fucking wolves. Okay I know they moved on or whatever, but still. In fact, how do we know that? How do we know anything for sure in this place?
I leave the others, and head out to find Edward. He's been standing at the edge of the clearing we made it through earlier, for the last hour. The collar on his grey peacoat is up, his hands in his pockets. Even with his back to me, he's sexy.
He turns before I reach him, the tension in his face relaxes ever so slightly when he looks at me and it makes me smile. I'm embarrassed that I notice these things, and that each simple thing I learn about him, is something I am slowly collecting, to form this whole person I really think I could be with.
"Would it be weird if I said I missed you a little?"
"A little weird. But the good kind. Definitely the good kind." He is smiling now. His words are sweet. He missed me too. "The festivities have begun, I see."
"Yep, the kids are getting wasted, behold the horror that will be two hours from now when the happy drunks turn into mushy drunks turn into, hold my hair back, I can't hold my drink after all, I'm never drinking again drunks."
"Oh yeah? You would leave me alone with those animals?"
"Absolutely I would."
The night time has lost a bit of its magic for me, the darkness of the shadows, and the holes that they create are now hiding places for secret beasts I didn't really know could be this menacing. Their calls were like alerts set off in unison, something is coming, and we're ready for it.
Well, I'm not ready.
Edward definitely seems to be ready.
"How did you know?"
He sighs, and nudges at the dirt with his toes. "There are things out there you don't know about, Bella."
"I'm beginning to figure that out. How do you know about them?"
"I'm not ready to tell you that."
"What are you ready for exactly? Because you've been out here, on your own, on guard since we got back. You said we were fine. You said they left."
"I know what I said."
He's so frustrating. His whole talking not very much, man of mystery thing is wearing thin right about now.
"I don't like being kept in the dark... pun intended, like I'm some kind of helpless girl."
"That's not why."
"Then why?" He steps into me, slowly, covering the moon's brightness as he towers over me. He takes my hand, and his are freezing from being out here so long. It feels nice, even still. Because even through the mystery, and underneath the cold, I know I'm running in there somewhere, in his mind, on his thoughts, maybe even a little in his heart. "Why am I in the dark?"
"I guess the rules were broken a long time ago..." He looks off toward the others, the sounds of their games now just barely background noise.
"I don't have the power in me to hold back anymore."
"But if I do give in, if I give into this..." My heart is in my mouth, give in. Give in to me. "You'll be in my world. And that means..."
"What does it mean? Tell me."
"It means..." The stars are not the most beautiful thing tonight, he is. His eyes, brilliant, his mouth, just a breath from my own. "...forever." My head spins as his lips touch mine. His body, my body as he brings me even closer with his arms, his hands touch me here, touch me there, I am nothing and everything all at once. He is everywhere, his hair between my fingers, his face beneath my hands as I cling to him for more, open mouths and more.
A pain on this night, an agony so great, I feel an echo in my ears with the ringing the beasts bring. This is a warning one must heed. Louder. Closer. Danger.
Edward holds me back from him as he mutters something under his breath, no, a whisper, instructions? To who? Not me.
The howling wolves sound louder in the woods. Only louder, only clearer.
"Bella, you gave me your trust earlier tonight. Please remember that."
A shift, underneath my feet, the earth is moving, flung, I am flung on Edward's back in one swift movement. My arm hurts where he pressed his fingers into me, my head spins, spinning fast from being thrown. We're moving now, running, he's running with me on his back. We're flying, cutting through the trees with ease. I try to close my eyes but when I do I feel upside down. The night is too dark for me to see much of anything at this pace. How fast are we going? This is not real. This is not my world.
Is it Edward's?
My legs are wrapped around his body, he is holding me to him. In case he drops me? What if he drops me? Even though that seems realistic, what isn't is his strength. I weigh more than him. This isn't possible.
"Edward... Edward, please stop."
I fall to the ground in total blackness, and feel his hands as he holds me.
"Put your head between your legs."
"I'm fine. I'm okay. I just... I could do with some water."
"I'm sorry, Bella. I had no choice. I had to get you out of there."
"Why? What about the others? What are you doing? I mean, what the hell was that?"
"Not now. Just breathe." He strokes my hair, and even though I can't see him, I feel better. He makes me feel better. "I have to go. And you have to stay here, you'll be safe in here."
Where is here? Some kind of hole in the ground? A cave maybe?
"I promise, I won't let anything hurt you. Please, stay in here until I come for you. Can you do that? Will you do that, for me?"
"Yes." My whole body is screaming no. I don't want to be alone in the dark. I don't want him to leave. Get hurt? Are the others hurt? "I promise."
He's gone. He's not here anymore and I'm cold. I scramble on my knees to feel the ground. It's flat, stone, lines in the stone beneath my fingers. I follow the lines, a wall? An edge of something that goes up. I open my eyes, opening my eyes is worse. Trying to see through nothing is confusing, and makes my head hurt. It's frightening. Closing my eyes gives me something back that has been taken away from me. I can see something now, I can see my thoughts, I can see my imaginary surroundings, and they are better, peaceful.
I bury my head in my knees.
If I can't see it, it can't see me.
This is so fucked up. This is so fucked up.
The safety of my ignorance is blown when I hear them again, this time low, growls? Different than before.
I push myself against the wall of the cave, this safe place, and listen.
Growls, definitely. Two or three different sounds, deeper, one deeper than the others. Breaking. Branches breaking maybe. Voices. Edward's? I don't know, I can't tell. I stand up and feel my way towards the sounds I can only almost hear.
Rocks. Like rocks hitting the surface above my head. Water, it's raining. It's raining, drops coming through all around me as if the ceiling was leaking. I stand tall and see what I can reach as I stretch my arms up high. Nothing. That's good. I won't be drowning this night. I can't hear very much now, on account of the rocks. I don't know what's worse, hearing what might be my friends, Edward, in trouble, or not hearing anything at all.
If Edward is so sure he can keep me safe, he must know, or think he knows what he's doing. The running. He moved so fast, carried me all that way so fast. He's so strong. What if... No, silly.
My mind begins to race. I can't keep focus. The girls. Alice. If Edward is different, then maybe so are Jasper and Emmett? They love my friends, they would never let them be hurt. I trust that. These people have become so important to me in such a short space of time. Not Alice, Alice has been a part of my life for twenty years. She would tell me, wouldn't she? If Jasper was different? Maybe she doesn't know. No, she has to know. They're in love.
I sit back down in a dry spot against the stone. I use it to hold me up, to feel something I know is there, something I know is real. I feel like I'm dreaming, I feel like falling through a black hole in time, forever trying to chase my thoughts and the world outside, the world outside has gone. They're gone, and I'm not helping them.
Please come back. Please don't leave me down here.
The water falls faster, falls harder now. The drops splash at my feet, and I try to make myself smaller. I've never been good at that.
I don't want this. This is not right.
On my hands and knees, I crawl. I shuffle as fast, and thorough as I can. I feel for things in my way, only water, sliding through water, and bricks. My hands are caked, my speed is good. I can do this. I can find my way out.
One thud after the other, one cry, one galloping gallon, rain, I hear the rain. The dark is not so dark anymore, my hands, I can see my hands, the water is muddy, thick and muddy.
The dark is light in my eyes as the tunnel opens its mouth to me. I stand up, I run my hand on the walls to clean them.
I want to run. I don't.
I should run. But I don't.
I cover my ears instinctively as a cry so loud, so pained crashes into the side of the cave and falls, right in front of me. An animal. A wolf. Not a wolf. Not anymore. A person. A man. He's hurt.
The depth of what I just saw is overwhelmed by the sight before me now.
I want to run to him. I do.
"What can I do?"
"Leave." He has brown skin, beautifully tan all over with big watery eyes. He yells at me through his teeth, trying to hold in the pain. But you can't control pain. And I don't care.
"You're hurt. Let me help you."
"Go. Run. You're not safe here."
I can't leave him. If it were me, if I were naked, in the middle of nowhere, injured, alone...
I hook my hands under his arms and pull.
"You need to work with me here, because I'm not leaving."
I try to drag him into the cave. Back into the darkness but don't get very far before I fall down, exhausted from trying to carry this man.
Different. Edward, this pers...animal?
"What are you?" He doesn't answer. "You came after us." Still nothing. "Should I be afraid?"
He laughs, and sits up against the wall, holding his ribs.
"You have no idea what's out there. You have no idea who your friends are."
"What do you know about it? You don't seem so... so, normal to me either, buddy. So why should I trust any of you?"
He's right. I just watched a wolf turn into a man. A wolf. Turn into a man. Right there, in front of my eyes.
"No. I shouldn't." I manage to get out before clocking him - he doesn't seem like he can do much of anything right now - to see if he might follow me, chase me, and I run, I run out back towards the light, and stupidly look back to see him silently wailing in pain. I feel sorry for him. Leaving. But I... I run anyway. I run out, running for my life until I reach the edge, and Edward. Edward's here, I run into him, and he catches me.
"Bella, are you hurt?"
"Edward. Oh, Edward, I couldn't stay in the dark. I couldn't wait, I had to..."
"Are you hurt?" He strokes my hair, and feels my arms, and holds me back to see.
"No. No, I'm fine."
"Then go. Emmett is through that way," he points to his left without moving, without seeing, he only sees one thing now. The man. The potentially dying man-wolf who may or may not have tried to kill us.
"Not without you."
"I said, no. Come with me. Let's get out of here. Forget him. Let's just go. Please." I try to make him look at me. He won't look at me. "You said, forever. You said if you gave in, you and me, you said forever."
His eyes are fierce, darker somehow than before. He's looking at me with that face, perfect face, and I don't even know what I'm asking but it's right. I know it.
"You don't know what..."
"I know this." I place his hand in mine. "I know I don't want to be here another second. I know I don't need to know what that man is doing here, or whether or not he should be punished for it. I know this."
"I know forever."
Another lift, another time I have been shaken tonight, thrown onto his back once more.
Running through the trees seems freer this time, less scary, more like letting go. Getting out, we're flying home, and I know it. I see the tents, I see the things that don't mean anything that we've left behind, I see the truck, and I see my friends.
They don't seem scared. Or surprised.
"Let's go. Now."
Alice grabs me, and squeezes me so tight, without a word, she is here, and safe, and Rose too.
Rose gives me that knowing smile again. The same as before but different. This time I feel like I know what she really means.
We all get into the truck, Emmett and Rose in the back. Alice and me stuffed between Edward, and Jasper, driving.
"You were so quick, brother." Jasper's voice is barely there as he looks ahead, meandering through the now light blue of the forest. Morning is coming.
I guess the world as we know it is something else to us now.
"I changed my mind." Edward looks at me as he answers, his head pressed to mine, a silent pact is building.
As we hit the light, and the road, I'm left to wonder about the man, the wolves, and the future.
I know I'll see him again. Brown eyes, I can still feel as they tell me I'm in danger.
I know there's more to my friends, more than I ever knew was possible, whether forever really is something we will be, I can't wait to find out.
Thank you. XO