I practically see his hackles raise and being this close to him, curled up next to the space heater that is Jake's body on the couch, I do see the hairs on his arms rise when the doorbell goes. It's an automatic reaction to get up, to go to the door, but Jake's hand on my arm is firm and without having to even try it, I know that if I try and get up now, I won't be able to.
"What is it?" I ask as he raises his head, like he's sampling the air, or listening harder. I try it myself, but I don't hear anything.
"Stay here," he hisses and Charlie gives us both a look as if to say 'will one of you just go get the door'. I watch the almost elegant way that Jake uncurls himself from around me and I can't help but watch him go to the door. I've developed a real taste for Jake Black from behind. "Oh it's you." There's something about his voice that tells me whoever is at the door isn't exactly a friend, but even before I get to my feet, I can tell by the slightly annoyed sound that comes from her throat, that it's Alice.
I practically throw myself into her arms and it's a good thing that Alice has both good hand eye coordination, especially for a girl, and superhuman strength otherwise both of us might have ended up with various broken bones flat on the floor. But she does catch me and her grip on me is tight enough that just for a moment it's hard to breathe.
"What were you trying to do?" she hisses at me, putting me down and dragging me behind her into the kitchen with a slight wave at Charlie as she goes by. Charlie likes Alice or he might have asked how she knew but there's something about Alice that makes him sort of forget he's a dad I think.
"I was cliff diving...recreationally," I tell her, but the look on her face makes it all too clear that she doesn't believe the last part. "It was...fun," I lie, although I can make it not quite a lie as I cast my mind back to the way I came to.
"So you weren't trying to kill yourself?" she snarls at me, just baring her fangs, which isn't something she would normally do. She's usually far too careful to do that.
"No," which isn't a lie and because I know that she can smell out a lie I let her lean in and search my gaze, her amber eyes taking in my pupil dilation, my pulse and my breath rate in a split second.
"I thought...I saw...I didn't see you coming out of the water," she explains, throwing her arms around me again which tells me I'm forgiven and I gratefully relax into her.
"Are you all here?" We slowly unwind from one another to find Jake standing behind us with thunder in his eyes.
"It's just me," Alice says, mostly to me, with an apology in her eyes. Jake makes a sort of huffing nose as he stares at us and finally Alice leans in to give me the briefest of pecks on my cheek. "I'll just go visit with Charlie for a few minutes while you...put the dog out." She wrinkles her lily white, button of a nose at him and skips out of the room and I'm left staring after her wondering why I don't feel suddenly bereft. I should be upset, I think as I listen to my heart still plodding away at normal speed in my chest. I should be in tears knowing that only Alice came, that Edward isn't even upset enough at the news that brought Alice all the way here from...from wherever they've been. But I'm not and as Jake reaches for my hand and his other hand lifts a strand of hair from over my eye and my pulse does begin to speed up, I realize why.
"I'm sorry," he whispers, his lips brushing my brow. "If I'm being too...overprotective, just tell me and I'll go."
"No," I insist, clamping down on his hand with mine. "I think I like it," I add, leaning into him so that he's almost forced to put his other arm around me.
"Bells," he whispers his pet name for me into my hair as I breathe in the musky scent of his warm skin. "You know she can hear everything we say, even here," he warns me and I wonder how he knows so much about the Cullens, but I don't ask.
"I don't care," I whisper back, lifting my lips to his in a way that he can't possibly mistake for any other request. Jake glances over my head towards the living room and then backs me against the sink, where he captures my mouth with his and kisses me, once, twice and then a third time that begins with his running his tongue over my lips until my mouth opens to his and ends with both of us out of breath but grinning.
I'm staring at the Mona Lisa, a painting much smaller and much less impressive than you would have thought when another, entirely unrelated image appears, unbidden, in my mind; Bella, falling.
My breath, although entirely unnecessary, catches in my throat and I suddenly feel like I'm being kicked in the stomach. I hear myself screaming 'Bella, no!' loud enough that it shakes a Greek sculpture right off of its' plinth, leaving its' marble pieces scattered around me, and even that doesn't do enough to shake the image of her small, lean body slicing through the gray, icy waves off of La Push.
"Edward, really," Tanya appears in front of me, behind the barricade between me and the Mona Lisa, which should have set off some kind of alarm, which has me wondering for a brief moment whether she's done something to the electronics of the museum. I can see her, with her little hands fisted on her hips, staring daggers at me, but I can't get that vision out of my head. Bella, dropping from a cliff... "Edward...if you're trying to convince me that human blood doesn't agree with you, I have to say, I'm not the least amused."
"Bella." It's all I can say. Nothing else will come out of my mouth.
Tanya turns and stares at the small painting and then turns back to me, her ivory brow furrowed.
"Well I certainly hope that your dearest Bella is a little less homely than that one. You cannot convince me that," she says, pointing at the painting, "was any great beauty in her time. I mean, I was there and I can't remember her name ever coming up as some sort of object of desire."
While she continues to scrutinize the famous painting, I turn and begin to stagger towards the way we came in, feeling as if I need fresh air to breathe, though I know that I don't. Still, the need is strong and my mind is too full of fear and self loathing that I can't find it in me to fight the urge.
Once outside, I bend over, gasping for air that my lungs haven't required in over a hundred years, as my hands dig into the rock that makes up the outer walls of the museum. I hear the rock facade breaking beneath my grip and something in my head tells me to lighten up but all I can see is Bella disappearing beneath the waves and the other part of my brain is telling me that there isn't anything anyone can do. There is no one there to save her and if I'd only changed her as she'd asked...
Slamming my hand into the wall, I see and hear the granite crumble around my hand but I also hear the high, bell like sound of Tanya's laughter and find her bent double, laughing at me.
"Oh Edward, darling, you are too amusing," she hiccups and snorts and ends up sitting on the ground, her knees pulled up to her chest, rocking and laughing.
"My pain amuses you?" I snarl back at her and she just nods her head, which sends her hair flying around her, looking silver cobwebs in the dark.
"It does dearest, only because it's only over some weak, human child," she crawls toward me and I know in my mind that what she's doing is supposed to be seductive and enticing but I only want to swat her away like an annoying insect. "Don't go running off Edward, stay, play with me." She gives me her best, most innocent smile but I can still smell the human blood in her mouth and it makes me gag.
"I have to go," I growl at her, trying to shake her loose like one of those dogs that humps your leg.
"What did Alice see? Is there any point or is your silly little human...dead?" Tanya tilts her head to one side and it's very apparent that she's doing her best to try to look sympathetic but the light dancing in her eyes gives her glee away.
"I...I don't know," I admit, going over the vision again, and again in my head. All I can see is Bella going down and down into that icy water and I can't imagine how she could survive it. "But I need to go," I tell her. "Or I at least have to call Alice."
"Well then do, if you must," Tanya sighs, dramatically, leaning back on her hands and staring up at me. "But if she is dead Edward, then will you stop being so damned tiresome?"
"Phone," I mutter against Jake's mouth as his lips move against mine and I can't help but feel what else is moving against mine. I'm actually not a hundred per cent that it is the phone I hear and not just bells going off in my head.
"Let Charlie get it," Jake mumbles, his hands sliding down my rib cage to my hips, and then there's no mistaking just how happy he is to be kissing me as he grinds his barely restrained erection against my stomach.
I mean to say, I think we need to take a break anyway, but what comes out is, "down boy," as I put my hands against the solid wall of his chest and give him a push back so that I can reach for the phone on the kitchen wall. Jake's arm is longer and his reflexes faster and he gets to it first.
"Swan residence," he smiles at me, using his free hand to pull me back against him. His lips go to my neck and I know, with absolute certainty, that in that moment, if Jake wasn't holding onto me, my knees would have buckled and I'd be sitting on the floor. "He's a little...busy right now," Jake adds, raising his eyebrow at me and I grin back at him, shaking my head.
"If it's the station house," I hiss at him but Jake only shakes his head, telling me that it's not.
"Well I'm not sure that it's any of your business but he has a funeral to arrange." Jake looks very serious and it reminds me of the news Charlie had told us earlier and it's like a bucket of cold water has been thrown over the two of us. Jake looks at the phone, his forehead creased and then he hangs it up, shaking his head. "Always getting in the way," he mutters and then turns back to me, putting both arms around me and bringing my body fully in line with his. "Now, where were we?" he grins that toothy boyish grin of his that leaves me weak in the knees but I just shake my head.
"Don't you think that we all ought to be going to the Clearwaters? See if there's anything we can do?" I suggest and Jake rolls his eyes but I can see that he knows it's the right thing to do.
"What did you tell him?"
Alice is, as she often is, just suddenly there and the look on her face is a fierce mixture of anger and betrayal as her gaze first goes to Jake and then to me.
"What do you mean?" I ask.
"The truth," Jake replied, as if he is the mind reader and not Edward...oh...Edward.
"That was Edward?" I gasp, pointing to the phone as if it isn't just a device over which one can speak but is also some kind of link to the man I loved. My heart sinks in my chest as I realize what I, if I was in his shoes right now, would be thinking. "Jake how could you?" I'm afraid for what Edward is thinking at this moment, but I find that I'm not really angry at Jacob either. I sort of understand why he did it. It's clear, however, that Alice doesn't.
"He thinks that you're dead Bella," she cries, shaking her head at me like a disappointed mother and then she closes her eyes and presses her fingers to her temple and mutters something beneath her breath.
"Can't you just tell him I'm not?" I cry back at her but she just shakes her head.
"He won't believe me. He's going to go to the Volturi. He's going to ask them to end his life."
The phone crumbles into dust in my hand and the cry I release shakes and then shatters the glass in the windows around us. She is dead and it's my fault. I should have turned her. I should have been there for her.
"Oh Edward, they do that all the time. Humans die, it's what they do," Tanya sighs as she gets to her feet and dusts herself off, making a face as she does. "Now come, let's go get a real drink. We'll find some streetwalker and we'll drain her together. I know that will make me feel better," she adds with a playful grin as she walks over to me and puts her arms around my middle.
"No," is my only reply. I already know where I want to go. It's my plan B. The plan I formulated when I realized James had bitten her and that, in trying to draw out the poison from her blood, I didn't think I would be able to stop drinking her sweet tasting blood. I knew right then, as her blood coursed through my veins, filling me with its' saccharine, syrupy taste, that if I drained her, if I was the one who took her life, exactly where I would go. "I'm going to the Volturi."
"Oh pffft, Edward don't be so dramatic," Tanya reaches for my face and holds it in her hands. "Over a tiresome human girl? Please." She tries to kiss me then, and I suppose that in her mind, she thinks that will help me forget about Bella but it won't.
"I'm going. I don't expect you to come with me," I mutter, pushing her away from me and now that my own body is full of warm, life giving human blood, hers' sails far across the square and even before she lands, I'm gone.
"Bella, stay, please."
Charlie is standing on the top step, under the light by the front door but Jacob isn't. He's trying to wrestle the overnight bag that is all that I've taken the time to pack, out of my hand. I know it's not going to be much of a fight, but Alice wrenches it out of his hand and hurls it into the trunk, slamming the trunk down before Jake can reach inside.
"I have to go," I try to explain as Jake sends a furious glare in Alice's direction. I reach for his hand and lift it to my cheek, leaning in to the fullness of it, letting the warmth from his hand seep into my cheek, already cold from the night air.
"You don't have to do anything for him. He left you, remember?" Jake's earnest gaze searches mine and I nod. It's true. I don't need him to tell me. I'm the one that's lived in misery for months.
"I do though. I can't let him die because of me Jacob." I turn to press my lips into his palm and I'm not certain but it sounds like a growl that comes out of his throat as he looks down at me.
"Stay, for Charlie," he tries, but he doesn't even glance back at Charlie and I know that he doesn't care if I stay for Charlie. I know what he's asking for.
"I'll be back Jake, I promise," I whisper, going up on tip toe to press my lips briefly against his.
"You won't," Jacob grumbles as I start to back away from him. He holds my hand fast, unwilling to let go and part of me doesn't want to let go of him either. "If you go to him...I feel like I won't ever see you again."
"You will," I promise, moving to him again, pressing the full line of my body against his, sliding my hands up under his shirt so I can press them flat against his warm, smooth back. "I promise Jake. I'll come back to you." His dark eyes search mine and I can see that he doesn't believe it, but he holds me close anyway, crushing me against his chest. I hear him whisper something into my hair, something in that strange, soft language that they learn on the Rez. I don't ask and he doesn't offer an explanation. He just lifts my chin and his mouth comes crashing down over mine in a long, scorching kiss that I feel, right down to my clit, which begins to throb in anticipation of a moment that will have to wait.
"Come home to me Bells," he whispers against my lips and I promise him that I will, and then I turn to see Alice staring straight ahead, through the windshield as she revs the engine. I turn to wave at Charlie who gives a weak sort of wave and then I run around the other side of the car. "Keep her safe." Jake growls it at Alice as he leans into the car and she just rolls her amber coloured eyes at him and then sends the dark car leaping forward onto the pavement.
When I look back over my shoulder, the strangest thing is, I think I hear a wolf howl