Disclaimer: The Twilight Universe belongs to Stephenie Meyer
This was it. There was no way out this time, no one was coming to save me.
I was going to die.
Funny how that bothered me. I'd been as good as dead for the past five months, after all. I was broken and empty, bruised and torn beyond recognition. This would end the pain, give me some small measure of relief. Anyone in my place would be screaming for someone to finish the job.
But I still wanted to live. For Charlie if for no one else. My dad had me and that was it. I didn't want to think about how my death would unhinge him. But even as my long-dead heart ached for him, I knew Charlie wasn't the reason I wanted to live, though he was certainly reason enough.
No. I wanted to live because once my soul left my body, I would be entering a realm thathe had never walked before. A realm that he never would. And even though I hadn't seen him for five months, the idea of a separation so final, so permanent, was enough to tear the hole in my chest wide open.
It was enough to make me hope death really was the end, because it didn't matter where my soul ended up. If I wasn't with Edward, I'd be in my own personal purgatory.
I was frozen where I stood, crippled by the pain in my chest, entranced by the burgundy eyes of the predator in front of me. He crouched, moving so fast that he blurred, and I knew my time was up. I never would see Edward again. I closed my eyes, waiting…
The next thing I knew, Laurent's teeth broke through the skin at my throat and he started to drink away my life. My numb brain rejected the searing pain of the bite and the uncomfortable sensation of slow dehydration that was spreading through me. I waited for the end; I knew it couldn't be far.
I felt Laurent stiffen and let me go. Light-headed from the loss of so much blood, I collapsed to the ground.
But…something was wrong… I wasn't dead yet, was I? I could hear a strange growling and a high keening noise through the ringing in my ears, but I was distracted by the salty, rusty smell of my blood. The dizziness increased; my stomach churned…
But that was nothing, absolutely nothing, compared to the burning sensation that suddenly ripped through my throat.
No…no, no, no, NO!
This could not be happening, not this too, on top of everything else!
Not to Bella!
Before I had first phased it had taken a lot to anger me. I don't think I had ever hated anyone. But I had changed.
Hate filled me now, hate for the filthy bloodsucker that was stealing Bella from me.
He knew we were there and after getting over his initial shock, he ran. But he wasn't nearly fast enough.
Sam and I tore the bloodsucker apart piece by reeking piece, my anger driving me as it never had before. It was so all-consuming that I almost forgot why I was angry in the first place. The leech was dead, but I just wanted to tear into something. Growls were ripping from me, my claws were shredding everything they came into contact with.
Jake! Embry's voice filled my mind, alarmed. Calm down!
You can't help her if you can't phase back, Sam's cool voice added.
Can't help her…
Her sudden, ragged cry of pain answered that question. I phased back in the blink of an eye, pulled on my sweats, and raced to Bella's side. She was twisting in agony, her hands clutching at her throat as she screamed. I could see her blood…
"He bit her…" I moaned, appalled, realizing at last what that meant.
Bella was turning into a vampire.
My first love was becoming my worst enemy. I barely noticed my shaking hands.
"Calm down," Sam said from behind me before I could lose it again. I turned to him helplessly.
He held my gaze, his eyes full of sympathy. I turned back to Bella and tried to pick her up, but she was thrashing too hard.
"I can't believe we were too late again!" I heard Paul complaining bitterly as he, Jared, and Embry joined us in the meadow. "What kind ofprotectors are we?"
"We killed the leech," Jared offered, though his voice too was gloomy. "It won't be able to hurt anyone else."
"We have a problem," Sam interrupted, causing the other three to fall silent. He gestured to Bella. "That leech didn't finish her off. She's changing."
My brothers were stunned into momentary silence.
"What the heck are we supposed to do with a newborn leech?" Jared asked quietly.
"Don't call her that," I growled.
"It's what she'll be, Jake," Embry sighed, and I couldn't answer. He was right. My Bella wouldn't be mine anymore.
"We'll have to kill her."
"No!" I was shaking again, glaring at Paul.
"Jake, she'll be a leech! She'll be hunting, right here! We can't leave her alive!"
"No," I growled. They couldn't kill her.
"Jake," Sam said quietly, "she can't stay here."
I knew that. The Bella I knew was dying. The one left behind would be completely different. She'd be bloodthirsty, uncontrollable… People I knew would get hurt. As a werewolf, I couldn't allow that.
And suddenly, I had the answer. As much as it hurt, as much as I hated it… There was a way. Bella could live.
As much as any vampire lives.
Everyone froze. Sam's eyes turned icy. I rushed to explain.
"Call the Cullens. Give her to them. They'll take care of her."
My brothers stared at me in shock. We all knew how much Sam hated the Cullens. And in a way, his hatred had fueled mine. But they were Bella's only chance. My only option.
"Look," I growled. "You want to kill Bella, you'll have to go through me." I could see the shock on their faces.
"Jake," Embry protested, "you couldn't win against all of us."
"I know. I don't care." I let that sink in. "Call the Cullens. Let her live."
As one, Paul, Jared, Embry, and I turned to Sam, awaiting the Alpha's decision. Sam scrutinized my face for a long moment before the ice in his eyes melted. He nodded slowly. "Jake's right. That's best for everyone."
Paul groaned. "I hate to rain on this party," he said sarcastically, "but the Cullens left five months ago. We don't know where they went. And even though we were so close, I'm sure we never swapped numbers with any of them. How are we supposed to reach them?"
Paul's defiance died under Sam's cool gaze. "We'll start with Forks Community Hospital. They'll have a way of reaching Dr. Cullen."
Trying to decide what to do with Bella Swan while we contacted and waited for the Cullens was difficult. Her screams would be too easily heard in La Push, and they would lead her poor father straight to her if we kept her in the meadow. Fortunately, after about a half an hour, the screams quieted and she stopped thrashing, so we took her to Emily's. She set about trying to make Bella as comfortable as possible. Jake wouldn't leave Bella's side, so we left Embry to keep him company and then set out for the hospital.
Running got us there faster than a car would have, but it was still full dark by the time we arrived. We dressed quickly and then walked into the emergency room and up to the lone nurse on duty.
"Can I help you?" she asked as Paul, Jared, and I lined up in front of her desk.
"We need Dr. Carlisle Cullen," I told her.
"I'm sorry, Dr. Cullen is no longer on our staff. Dr. Snow is in—"
"No," I interrupted. "We need Dr. Cullen. I know he's gone, but we'd hoped you'd be able to tell us how to reach him. A cell phone number."
The blond looked us over carefully, her face suddenly suspicious. "Did he ever sign a release for you?"
"I can't give you that information without a release. I'm sorry."
I sighed. "He'd want to know what we have to tell him."
She definitely looked annoyed now. I could tell she was finger her panic button just in case we got unmanageable. "Regardless, I—"
"Do you have Dr. Cullen's cell?" I asked. She paused, clearly not wanting to tell us. "Call him and ask if Sam Uley can have his number. Tell him we have some urgent news regarding an old friend of their family's. Do it right now."
Now the nurse looked more curious than alarmed. "I…I could do that," she admitted reluctantly.
"Please," I asked.
A little hesitantly, the nurse looked the number up on her computer and then dialed it swiftly into the desk phone.
She blushed when he answered.
"Yes, Dr. Cullen? This is Tiffany Marks from the Forks Community Hospital E.R. Sorry to bother you so late. I have a young man here named Sam Uley—" she looked at me for confirmation, then continued when I nodded "—who is asking for your cell phone number. He says he has urgent news about an old friend of your family." She listened for a moment, then nodded. "Of course." Then, without a word, she handed the receiver to me.
I turned my back on Ms. Marks' curious stare, hiding my relief that he'd been willing to talk.
"Dr. Cullen." I had to struggle to keep my voice civil.
"Sam Uley," he answered smoothly. "From the reservation. What can I do for you?"
"I have something both urgent and confidential that I need to speak to you about. My brothers and I have a problem we were hoping you could help us with."
"What sort of problem?" Always so polite.
"The kind I shouldn't be discussing with you where others can hear," I said pointedly. I lowered my voice to nearly a whisper. "Long story short, I know why your family never came to the reservation. My brothers and I are the same as the elders you met when you first came to Forks."
"…I see." I felt a thrill of satisfaction that this news surprised him.
"While you were last in Forks your family befriended a certain girl."
"Bella?" I was surprised at the concern now evident in his voice. "Is she alright?"
"She's in trouble."
"What kind of trouble?"
"I really can't say any more," I insisted. "It's difficult to explain right now, if you understand me. Having your number would be a great help," I added pointedly.
"Ah." I grabbed a pen and a flyer off of the desk and scribbled down the numbers Dr. Cullen told me.
"I'll call in about ten minutes."
"I'll be looking forward to it."
"Doubt that," I breathed as I gave the receiver back to Tiffany Marks, who was now staring at us with undisguised curiosity. "Thank you, ma'am," I smiled briefly. "Have a good evening."
And with that, Paul, Jared, and I left.
Ten minutes later we were back at Emily's and I was dialing the long-distance number.
"Sam," Dr. Cullen answered without preamble. It struck me again just how anxious he sounded. "What's going on?"
"Bella Swan was bitten by another lee—vampire early this evening. She's still alive, but she's changing. We can't have a newborn leech running around Forks, but Jacob Black is dead set against us killing her."
"That will not be necessary," Dr. Cullen cut in. "We'll come for her immediately. Where is she?"
"I think we can forget the treaty for one day," I said grimly. "As long as it's just you and you leave quickly."
"Agreed," Dr. Cullen said simply. "I'll leave now."
"When can we expect you by?"
"Tomorrow morning." I raised my eyebrows. They couldn't be that far then…
We both hung up. I looked around at my brothers' gloomy faces. "Dr. Cullen will be here for her tomorrow."
"What about Charlie?" Jacob asked, his voice rough. "Billy said he's called twice looking for her."
"We have to keep her away from him," I said simply. "As far as Charlie Swan is concerned, his daughter was eaten by the 'bear'."
Jacob winced. "Poor Charlie…"
During the night, Bella started crying out again. We muffled it as best we could, but I was sure someone passing the house would have no trouble hearing her. Paul and Jared went home on Sam's orders, but Embry, Sam, and I sat up with Bella, waiting, wincing with each new cry of anguish.
It was a relief—for Sam and Embry at least—when Dr. Cullen showed up just before dawn. For me it felt a lot like what dying must feel like. He injected Bella with morphine and then carried her out the door and out of my life.