I panicked. Jacob and I had spent the morning riding our motorbikes, him maneuvering with ease while I still required all of my focus to keep the thing upright. We were forced to stop when freezing rain began to fall. Having propped the bikes up against the railing of his front porch, we turned towards the warmth coming from inside his house. But as I turned to walk past him into the entryway he grasped my hand. At first I thought that maybe I had forgotten something outside but then I recognized the look in his eyes. His other hand moved up towards my cheek. My eyes widened and Edward's voice ghosted into my head, no longer angry. The imagined voice cracked, pain seeping into the words, "Bella, please, no".
Shaking off Jacob's hand I turned and grabbed my bike. I gave it a sudden start and kicked off before Jake could say anything. As I raced out of the reservation anger scorched its way through me, smoldering in my chest when it found no tangible outlet. Why would my subconscious make Edward utter those words? And in such obvious pain? He was the one that left me after all, would I never be allowed to experience intimacy with someone else? I knew the answer of course, there was no one else. There never would be anyone else. I could not bear the thought of that kind of affection with Jacob anymore than my imagined apparition of him could. I did not need his plea to dissuade me.
Desolate tears began to mix with the cold rain lashing my face. I did not hear the rumble of Jake's motorbike following me and decided he must have stayed back, allowing me my escape route. But I did not trust myself to turn around and check while driving on the increasingly slippery road back to Forks. Only a couple more miles laid between me and home.
The rain began to fall even harder and I slowed down. As I navigated around the next bend it happened. My front tire slid across a patch of fresh ice and sent my bike flying towards the shoulder. I must have screamed. But all I could think about as I rolled down the small incline and into the woods was how lucky I was to have still been wearing my helmet when I left in my hasty departure. I rolled to a stop, a low moan escaping my lips as I tried to assess the damage without moving. A couple of sharp pains in my side screamed broken ribs. Closing my eyes and preparing for the worst I wiggled my toes. Then my fingers. More pain in my right arm, perhaps a break then. I shifted on to my good arm and propped myself up. A drop of crimson on the ground below me and the sharp tang of rust alerted me to the cut on my forehead.
Before I could figure out how I was going to make my way home I heard a strange rustling in the woods in front of me. Edward's voice urged me on suddenly, "Bella, get up! Get up and go now. You must go."
I was so startled by the fear in his voice that I did not see the flash of black appear and disappear between the bare trees in front of me. But the voice that spoke next was not his. And it caused a shiver to ripple up my spine, one not caused by the cold or the shock of my crash.
"Hmm, I wonder."
The voice was almost childlike but too calculating to belong to a child itself. Despite that, the person standing in front of me could not have been much younger than I was. Though upon seeing her shining ruby eyes I knew that she had likely been on this earth much longer than I had. Upon recognizing her for what she was, my hand flew up to my forehead in a feeble attempt to hide the steady trickle of blood. Her eyes widened in response to my realization before she gained her composure, her eyes narrowing in my direction. More instincts kicked in and I tried to crawl backwards. I grimaced, having forgotten the break in my arm.
"I don't suppose you were talking about Edward Cullen?" She sneered. Hearing someone else speak his name made the hole in my chest pulse, threatening to pull me back into its shadows.
Two more vampires appeared at her sides, their identical black cloaks floating to a stop, the only sign of the speed at which they must have been running. They both glanced up at my still bleeding forehead before turning to look at the girl between them. Something about the heavy cloaks and the powerful presence of the three vampires warned me against answering truthfully. I had a hunch about who I was talking to but I hoped I was wrong.
I took a trembling breath, "Who?"
The girl, Jane, snarled. "Don't play stupid. Were you talking about Edward Cullen?"
I found myself incapable of coming up with a suitable lie. Her eyes bore into mine and her head tilted slightly in concentration. She watched me expectantly, seeming to wait for me to crumble under her violent gaze. At last her eyes narrowed into slits and the taller of her two companions laughed.
"Is there a problem, Jane?"
Her gaze shifted to him instead and he instantly dropped to his knees, his teeth clenched together to prevent a scream from escaping. It stopped as soon as it had started and he jumped to his feet, glaring at the girl.
"No, Demitri, everything seems to be in working order. Pick up the girl."
Demitri baulked at the order.
Jane rolled her eyes. "She obviously knows what we are. And for some reason is immune to my...powers of persuasion. Aro will want to see her."
I felt like I might be sick, panic welling up inside of me. The other man, who had remained silent during the exchange, turned to Jane. "What about our initial reason for coming here?"
Jane shrugged, "The shapeshifters will still be here. Surely this is a more pressing matter, Alec".
He nodded in acceptance of her decision and Demitri walked over and kneeled in front of me, scowling. "Here, clean yourself up at least. I may have just fed but if Jane thinks Aro will want to see you then there is no sense in taking extra risks." His lips curled up into a menacing smile as he handed me a handkerchief. I pressed the piece of cloth to my forehead. He slipped his arms underneath me and stood in one fluid motion. Whether it was because of the pain in my ribs as he grasped me too tight or the shock of all that had transpired, I felt myself slip into unconsciousness just as he took off running.