"What's going on?" I demanded. Jacob's carefully selected memories answered my question, with Seth's filling in the things Jacob missed out. I pieced together the puzzle and realised what this meant.
"They want to kill Bella?" I hissed.
Emmett and Jasper, who had heard the commotion and appeared on either side of me, snarled suddenly at my words and sank into a crouch, ready to pounce.
"Not them," I muttered. "The rest of the pack. Get the others!" I spoke with urgency now. "Get Carlisle!"
"I'm going to take a run around the perimeter, keep an eye out," Seth announced, departing seconds later.
This left just me and Jacob. We stood facing each other, man to man…vampire to wolf.
Having been filled in by the two young wolves I was all too aware of the sacrifice Jacob had made in coming here and starting his own pack.
"This isn't exactly the first time I've owed you far more than just my gratitude," I smiled wryly. "I would never have asked for something like this from you."
Yeah, you would.
His mind flickered back to our earlier conversation, when I had asked him to coax Bella into having a child with him, despite the obvious internal dilemmas this would cause for him.
I sighed. "You're right. I'm sorry. I have no right to expect these things from you."
Once again, I'm not doing it for you.
"Right," I muttered.
Is she any better?
My mind drifted back to Bella, infinitely pale and weak.
"Worse." I said quietly.
Jacob's face contorted into a grimace and he took off into the forest, muttering in his head about finding Seth.
Carlisle stepped towards me and put a hand on my shoulder as I re-entered the house.
"We won't let anything happen to her." He said with no trace of doubt in neither his voice nor his mind.
I was about to comment when a frail cough interrupted my thoughts. I nodded briefly to indicate that I had noted what Carlisle had said, before heading into the living room and leaning over the back of the sofa to peer at my precious Bella.
She smiled at me, a feeble yet genuine smile that would have made my heartbeat stutter, had I been of the same kind as her.
I smiled back uncertainly, wondering if this meant she was feeling better now, or was simply pleased to see me. I pressed the back of my hand to her forehead with the lightest of pressures and realised it was just as hot and clammy as before, if not more so. I took my hand away with a sigh. She was feeling no better, the way she lay curled up on the sofa showed that much.
"Lie with me," she pleaded in a tiny voice. "I need a cuddle."
My chest ached at the sound of the pain in her voice, her vulnerability. I flew to her side and scooped her legs out of the way so that there was room for me to lay beside her with my chest to her back. I wrapped my arms around her protectively and nestled my head in her sweet smelling hair. It was heaven. Right in the middle of hell.
As if to remind me of this fact, Bella piped up suddenly. "What did Jake and Seth want?" she inquired.
I hesitated. My knee-jerk reaction was to want to protect her, and if that meant lying to her, so be it. This time, though, lying to her seemed pointless. She was incredibly perceptive, my Bella, and she would be sure to notice how on edge everybody was at the moment. Not forgetting the fact that there would be three werewolves guarding the house at all times.
It would have to be the truth. I sighed. In her current fragile state frightening or worrying her could be detrimental.
"You have to promise me you won't get anxious," I began gently, carefully. Her face creased already, at the mention of the word 'anxious.' This was never going to be easy, I reminded myself. "The pack have decided that it would be the…safest…thing to do if…" Her face was perplexed as I struggled for words, something of a rarity.
I decided to start again and just come out with it; there was no diplomatic way to say it.
"The pack have got it into their heads that our…child…would be dangerous…as it's half vampire…and as they're unsure what to expect…they think…" I paused; her face was not a happy one, understandably. "They think that in order to protect their families, the only thing to do is…" These last two words would be the ones that pained her the most to hear. "Kill it."
Her hands flew immediately to her stomach, cradling it as she curled up into a defensive ball.
"But I won't let them hurt you!" I insisted instantaneously, gently pulling her legs away from her stomach so that she was no longer in a ball. "You're safe," I whispered over and over again in her ear.
"He never hurt anybody," she sobbed, not relenting her hold on her stomach. "He doesn't deserve this!"
I said nothing. It was hurting her now to consider the loss of her child, and it would only hurt her further to hear of Jacob's part in all of this.
The sudden look of confusion on her face confirmed that she had realised I had not truly answered her question.
"Are Jacob and Seth here to…?"
"No!" I shuddered at the thought. "They would never do that to you. They've broken away from the pack. Leah too. They've started some kind of alternative grouping."
I watched her face carefully as she fathomed this.
"Because of me?" She asked in a defeated voice.
"Because of Sam," I corrected. She needn't't know exactly how vehemently Sam felt on the subject of her unborn child.
"Jacob really would do anything for me, wouldn't he?" she said wonderingly.
"Yes, it seems he would." No matter how opposed I was to the dog, I had to give him that much.