CHAPTER 10: Escape
"Bella, calm down," Edward soothed me.
I shoved another pair of pants into a suit case Edward had suddenly conjured for me.
The red and orange gold of the setting sun filtered through the huge window dominating the entirety of one of Edward's walls, setting his skin glittering ruby sparkles.
"I am calm," I assured him, but cringed inwardly when my voice came out tense. Everyone else was already finished packing.
Of course, I had to pack at human speed.
I was surprised none of them had caught clothing on fire while flinging it across the room at the speed of light. Or maybe they had, but I just hadn't heard yet.
"You can't lie to me, Bella." His voice would have been teasing if it weren't laced with the anxiety that saturated the air around us. I sighed. Of course. Being the only one whose mind Edward couldn't read had made him extremely sensitive to my expressions.
"I'm just scared," I whispered lamely. Of what, though, I didn't know. I suddenly felt his cool arms around my waist from behind, his lips at my ear.
"I'm here. Don't worry." His words did little to ease the knot of worry in my stomach, but suddenly my hands didn't shake as they zipped the suitcase shut. "If I told you that I would never let anything happen to you, would you believe me?" I turned to face him, his arms still locked around me.
"Yes," I told him. "I trust you with everything."
"You'd trust me with you safety?" He asked, his eyebrows shooting up.
"Trust me with your family?"
"With your life?"
"Yes." He hesitated for a moment, some dark concern lurking behind the melted topaz in his eyes.
"You'd trust me with your soul?"
"That most of all," I answered quietly. He didn't speak for a long while, his eyes just staring into mine with an unfathomable expression until he said:
"I think we should head downstairs if you're done packing." I just nodded, unable to speak. We walked slowly down both flights of stairs in silence, his hand cold and smooth around mine. As we entered the kitchen, Alice and Jasper—talking quietly at the far end of the table—went silent. I observed Carlisle's fingers blurring over the key pad of silver cell phone and then pressing it to his ear.
Edward quickly sat down in the nearest chair and pulled me down onto his lap.
"Hello, Tanya, this is Carlisle." There was a very short pause. "We need a favor." Edward's father glanced in my direction. "We need a place to stay while some things blow over here." I barely heard the high buzzing of a female voice from the phone. "No, I understand. We wouldn't stay there for long and we're bringing two humans. But one is from the Quilaute tribe—" I heard more buzzing, slightly more urgent, but ceased after a minute. "Yes he is, but he's bound by a treaty. Besides that he's in alliance with us at the moment. He will not harm anyone."
Edward absent-mindedly picked up a strand of my hair and began to play with it. "That's fine…yes we're aware that Irina left, but I don't see—oh. No, that's no problem. We just need to stay under the radar for a while." I wondered if Carlisle was going to tell them that it was the Volturi's radar we were hiding from. "Thank you, Tanya. You kindness will not go unappreciated. Goodbye."
"So?" Jasper asked as Carlisle snapped the phone shut.
"Tanya has approved of us coming to stay for however long we need, although she requests Bella wear lots of clothing to cover her scent as much as possible. Erin is still having some…difficulties." Edward's voice was calm as he spoke, not tearing his eyes from the lock of my hair he twirled between his fingers.
"You didn't tell her about the Volturi."
"I do feel horrible about that. But if I told them they were after us, do you think she would still let us stay? We need their help Edward, and you know that."
Edward answered, still not looking up. Carlisle paused for a short time.
"As long as he doesn't harm anyone, Tanya is fine with it, although Eleazar is against Jacob staying with us."
"Of course. Eleazar has always been overly cautious." Edward's voice held an annoyed edge.
"Which is why it would be beneficial to have him near us." Carlisle's expression changed only the slightest bit. Edward spoke through clenched teeth, looking up at Carlisle for the first time.
"His preservation instinct reminds me of Victoria."
"Relax. She's dead now, Edward," Jasper's voice spoke from across the table.
Apparently he and Alice had been listening in. A wave of tranquility washed over the room, and I felt Edward's muscles loosen. "She can do Bella no harm." His words seemed to register and Edward relaxed the rest of the way.
Esme glided in like a silent ghost and planted a nervous kiss on Carlisle's cheek.
"We can stay at Tanya's?" Esme asked. Carlisle just nodded. Esme sighed in relief, closing her eyes for a prolonged moment before opening them and scanning the room. "Is everyone ready to go?" Five heads nodded including mine. "Rosalie? Emmett?" She said softly. They were beside her in a flash, a medium sized duffle bag in Emmett's hand left, Rosalie's shoulder in his other.
"We're ready," Rosalie's cool voice informed her.
"Good," Carlisle addressed all of us. "We can leave when Jacob gets back."
"You let him phase?" Edward's voice was shocked, seeing Carlisle's memory I supposed.
"Once again I miscalculated his rate of recovery. He's telling the rest of the pack everything." Carlisle explained. Edward didn't respond, only nodded back, looking down at our entwined fingers. I heard a loud sneeze as Jacob threw open the front door with a loud bang.
"Speak of the devil," Edward muttered quietly.
"Did you inform the pack of everything?" Carlisle asked. Jacob paused in the doorway, staring at the wood of the doorframe.
"Are you ready to leave?" The last rays of the setting sun glinted off Jacob's dark hair, giving him the strange effect of a red halo. He didn't respond, only bobbed his head minimally.
Silently all the vampires rose. I took one last look around, realizing this might be the last time I would set foot in this house—no matter in what sense of the word it may be.
Maybe I would be immortal next time.
Maybe there wouldn't be a next time.
Maybe I would be dead.
I squeezed Edward's hand with all my might as he led me through his house and out the front door.
I was confused when we piled into Carlisle's black Mercedes.
"Aren't we running?" I'd asked.
"It would leave too strong of a scent—all of us running together. There will be close to no trail if we take a car." We all fit, surprisingly into the sleek car with room to spare (although Alice sat on Jasper's lap by choice). Jacob sat as far from the nearest vampire as possible, his nose wrinkled. The first night of the 48 hour car ride passed. I slept in the car, insisting there was no need to stop. I leaned into Edward's stone chest, letting the soft purr of the Mercedes and Edward's hummed melody lull me to sleep.
When I woke, more than one pair of eyes was on me. I lifted my face from Edward's icy chest to look at his face.
"Where are we?" I asked groggily.
"Canada," Edward whispered softly, smoothing my—I assumed—frizzy hair with an icy hand. "We're about half way there." He paused for a moment. I looked over at Jacob who was staring distantly thought the tinted windows. "He's just a little upset," Edward's voice was in my ear, so soft only I could hear. "You talked a lot last night."
I stared up at him, mortified.
I had talked last night in front of the entire Cullen family and Jacob. Heat flooded my cheeks.
"What did I say?" I managed to rasp. My throat was dry. Edward's eyes softened.
"The usual. My name, and that you loved me."
"That's…not so bad." I allowed. But something in his expression made me edgy. "There was something else, wasn't there?" His eyes tightened.
"You said…" he hesitated. ""I wish I didn't hurt you so much."" His voice was quiet. I glanced around the car to find all other eyes averted from me. I glanced down at my hands.
My black hole theory had even seeped into my dreams.
I didn't respond. Finally he broke the silence. "Why?" Was his simple question.
"I…" half of me wanted to tell him my black hole analogy, but the smarter half of me told the other that he would just deny it anyway. "I just don't want to cause you pain because you want my blood so badly." He pulled me into a hug.
"It's no pain anymore. I've lived thinking I'd lost you forever, remember. My entire being shies away from anything that might invoke that kind of pain again. I would never hurt you." I shot a quick glance at Jacob, noting that the muscles in his jaw were clenched. I wondered if Edward was just ignoring his presence.
The rest of that day passed slowly. No one talked much. Edward, remembering my and Jacob's slight tendency to need food, convinced Carlisle to stop in several places to order fast food for me and Jake. I remembered laughingly how much he'd eaten at the werewolf bonfire the time I'd gone out to the cliffs and listened to the old legends. I stifled a giggle at the surprised expressions on the Cullen's faces when we stopped and Jacob ordered six cheeseburgers, two ten-piece chicken fingers, a large order of fries, and a jumbo coke with a smug smile.
And on top of that, he polished it all off in seven minutes flat.
I kept seeing flickers of my Jacob in his eyes. When he'd caught my smile at his eating habits, for instance, and when I glanced over at him sometimes to find him looking at me. But then, just when I thought I'd seen him, the mask came back up and he gazed back out the window.
As the sun started to set, we were almost to the half way through Canada. I spent another night in Edward's arms, careful to not think about black holes and broken hearts as I slipped into unconsciousness.
I woke the next day at—according to Jasper's watch—noon. I wonder how long it had actually taken to fall asleep.
"Did I say anything last night?" I asked Edward as I straightened myself up on the seat.
"Just my name," he said, his face exposing nothing. I sighed, leaning against his arm, my head tilted down on his shoulder. He reached a hand up to place it on my head. "We'll be there by nightfall," Edward assured me.
By three in the afternoon, I could tell Jacob was getting antsy. He shifted his position around, still staring out the window.
"Do you need to go to the bathroom or something?" Edward asked scathingly, glaring at Jacob. In response, he lashed out—two days in a car with vampires must have rubbed his nerves raw. I really couldn't blame him.
"I haven't been able to phase in two days, okay? It's hard enough trying to keep my shape together without you harping on me." Edward didn't respond but continued to glare. I touched my fingertips softly to his cheekbone, and he turned his gaze to me, his expression softening. I sighed in relief once his dark glare was turned away from Jacob.
Two more hours rolled past like the barren tundra landscape outside the windows of the sleek black car. The car slowed as Carlisle pulled us off the Alaskan Highway and we rolled past the Anchorage city limits.
"Why are we stopping here?" I asked.
"We're going to run from here. Denali National Park isn't that far from Anchorage." Carlisle drove to the airport and pulled the car into one of the long term parking spaces. Once we were out, luggage in hand, we started walking north.
"Until we reach a secluded area; away from the public eyes, we have to walk," Carlisle explained. It was cold in Alaska. Even more so than in Forks, though it was only marginally.
I pulled my jacket tighter around me as we walked through downtown and then through suburb-like housing areas. The landscaping, to my surprise, more resembled my long ago home in Phoenix than the lush, green coated scenery of Forks. Only here, there was grass, although it was covered with a fine layer of frost, though it was only the middle of August.
When finally, the houses ceased, Edward pulled me onto his back, and I locked my legs around his middle without a word. I watched in awe as Jacob—a fair ways away—shimmered out of existence, replaced by the large russet colored wolf.
And all of a sudden we were running.
I squeezed my eyes shut and buried my face into the bronze hair that covered the back of Edward's head. I tried to focus only on the amazing smell.
More quickly than I would have though, Edward's hands were untangling my legs and slipping me to the ground. The crunch of frost under-boot broke the silence.
When I looked up, I was standing in front a large house painted a pale green and white to match the ice-covered grass. To my surprise there were actually trees surrounding this house as far as I could see. Tall pines, and spruces, but also medium height spindly trees with no leaves.
The house itself, unexpectedly, resembled the Cullen's in its open, airy feel. Large, double French doors accented the front of the house that we were facing and huge, intricately carved windows that hinted at consuming entire walls of rooms were dashed across the face of the mansion.
All three stories of the magnificent house loomed before us.
I was shocked speechless.
Suddenly, the left door swung open and out strode one of the most beautiful vampires I had seen (although Rosalie still beat her hands down).
She held herself with a cat-like elegance, but it was somehow different from the way Victoria had seemed. Not primal, but refined. Her strawberry blonde hair hung straight to her waist where it curved in slightly. She looked as if she had become immortal in her late teens to early twenties. The face that greeted us was one of timeless beauty. The high cheekbones and overall narrowness of her face somehow made me think of the Quilautes, although her features did not hint at Native American descent, and her skin was as pale as the rest of the Cullens as it shimmered in the setting sun.
"You've finally arrived," she said, her voice—not as high as Alice's, but still higher than Esme's—held a tone of silky authority in it.
Overall, a very alluring voice…almost as alluring as Edward's.
"Tanya," Carlisle greeted, stepping forward to take her hand, raising it to his lips before releasing it. She bowed her head in salutation. "I cannot tell you how much it means to us for you to do this." Tanya waved it off, and just smiled slightly. She turned her attention to the rest of us, scanning, her eyes pausing on Jacob, then me, but eventually coming to rest on Edward. His expression did not change.
"It's good to finally see you all again, Cullen family." Her golden eyes seemed to burn with intensity, even from this distance. "Welcome back."