Dead Inside II

In that moment the phone decided to ring. Bella and I were in such a trance that we both jumped at the sound but neither of us looked away. The conflict was obvious in her eyes. Did she want this as badly as I did? Would she choose me instead of him? She had always been Edward's – always – and now she would be mine. Edward's cast-off. Stupid leech.

Without turning away I grabbed the phone. What choice did I have? It could be Sam—there could be trouble. Bella did not move away from me, even though she had the perfect opportunity. This phone call had better be important.

"Swan residence," I said, my tone intense from the present situation.

"This is Dr. Carlisle Cullen," a smooth, calculating voice spoke. Now there were two of them contacting her, it was apparent it was a vampire. Who would be next? My hand dropped from Bella's flushed cheek. The voice continued, "May I please speak to Charlie?"

Was Bella wrong about the other Cullen's coming back … was she lying?

Bella reached for the phone but I was so incensed that I ignored the gesture. He didn't ask for Bella, he asked for Charlie. One was enough. "He's not here," I replied deeply, angrily.

"Well, where is he then?" The parasite became impatient, demanding.

"He's at the funeral," I added grudgingly, my voice still full of vehemence. The line went dead. "Filthy bloodsucker," I gritted my teeth, furious for his intrusion and abrasiveness.

"Who did you just hang up on?" Bella gaped at me, furious. "In my house, and on my phone?"

It took me a second to realize what just happened. One second I had Bella in my grasp and in the other she was gone from it. "Easy! He hung up on me!"

"He? Who was it?!"

"Dr. Carlisle Cullen." I said with great bitterness. And rather reluctantly.

"Why didn't you let me talk to him?!" she demanded.

That took me for a loop. My cold demeanor returned in full measure. "He didn't ask for you," I replied darkly while keeping my expression monotonous. Though, it was a wasted effort at my now shaking hands. "He asked where Charlie was and I told him. I don't think I broke any rules of etiquette." It was true, he was just as rude to me, if not more so.

"You listen to me, Jacob Black–"

There was the opening of a window and my head snapped up and over Bella's tiny frame. The icy smell hit my nose immediately. Alice was back.

"Bye, Bells," I said curtly, and marched toward the front door.

Bella's tiny footfalls were heard from behind me. "What is it?" she asked.

I wasn't paying attention. I was just trying to get out of there as quickly as I could. Maybe she was angry at me for the way I spoke to Carlisle on the phone. Who knows what actually goes on in a vampires head? The footsteps were above me. I froze, trying to think of the best direction for escape. Front or back? Bella must not have been paying attention and she slammed into me, sending me forward slightly and then I fell back on my heels.

Of course it was Bella who had run into me but it was instinct, I whirled around and in my action I knocked her sideways. Her legs caught with mine and she fell to the ground. She could have been hurt but I was busy trying to get away so she wouldn't get in between a fight.

"Shoot, ow!" she protested as she hurriedly jerked her legs free one at a time.

My eyes snapped up when the familiar stench flew my direction. I was too late, she was in the room with me. Alice was standing at the foot of the stairs, her eyes wide with absolute horror, but they weren't staring at me, they were directed toward Bella who was pulling herself from the ground. I refused to let my guard down—even though she wasn't paying any attention to me.

"Bella," Alice gasped. Her skin was delicately pale, her eyes a deep golden color. You'd almost think she was fragile, but I knew better. Her hand was wrapped around a cell phone which trembled. I never thought I'd see a vampire tremble.

Bella scrambled over to her. "Alice, what's wrong?" She cupped the vampires face between her palms in a gesture to soothe her. It was the most peculiar thing I'd ever seen. A human comforting a vampire. I shook my head at the thought, but the image didn't change. This made me more furious.

Alice's eyes were staring at nothing, her face a mask of shock, before her eyes seized Bella's. They grew large, and the sight was recognizable – she was in pain – grief. I knew that feeling all too well.

"Edward," she breathed.

My reactions were different this time because Bella was spinning dizzily to the ground, her eyes oddly blank as she twisted toward the floor. Did she hurt her? Alice and I both ran out to catch her. Alice was closer, but I got to her first, pulling her away. Alice growled at me and I growled back. Explicatives were flying out of my mouth – words that I usually don't say in front of Bella – as I pulled her into my arms. Hadn't the Cullens caused enough damage? Why did they have to come here and mess everything up, everything that I worked so hard to fix? My fingers ran over Bella's face over and over, but she wasn't responding. This wasn't like her – yes – she doesn't deal well with his name, but she doesn't pass out.

But she would jump off a cliff, I thought darkly.

"What did you do to her?" I demanded angrily, my voice like a crack of a whip.

Alice looked upset and that surprised me—I didn't know vampires had much in the way of emotions. Her lip curled up for a second before her eyes snapped toward Bella who blinked up at us. "Bella? Bella, snap out of it. We have to hurry." She lifted her hand to pull the hair from Bella's face.

"Stay back," I ordered, my inner core trembling with the bloodsucker being so close to me. The smell was awful.

"Calm down, Jacob Black," she warned, noticing my quivering form. "You don't want to do that so close to her."

That flipped me over the edge. Who was it that did this to her? But, damn it, she was right! "I don't think I'll have any problem keeping my focus," I countered, though my voice held less contempt it in. I just hoped she couldn't hear it.

We were staring at each other with cold hate and fury as I lowered Bella to the couch. Alice's eyes were golden slits; mine just as frigid and calculating as hers. And I knew in that moment that she was sizing me up, just like I was doing to her. She was small, but not frail. I couldn't let myself hesitate at her physical appearance. She'd be quick, I'd just have to try and predict her moves – which is exactly what she would be doing to me, but with more accuracy. For a second I remembered what Bella said about Alice's visions. She'd probably know my moves before I even did. I cursed the tiny vampire.

"Alice?" Bella choked. We both looked down at the same time, forgetting about our stand-off. "What happened?" That's what I wanted to know. What the hell did happen?

Alice's face changed instantly, from the cold mask to a mixture of grief, incredulity and rage. "I don't know," she lamented. "What is he thinking?!"

Bella grabbed my arm for balance as she raised herself up. She looked like she was going to be sick. Alice nodded at Bella, as if she approved of her getting her act together and opened up her phone, still lying in her palm and began dialing frantically.

"Rose, I need to talk to Carlisle now," she snapped.

There was a murmur on the other line; the words easily discernable. It was one of the other female vampires, her voice as whimsical. "Oh, Alice! Carlisle's hunting. What–?"

"Fine, as soon as he's back."

"What is it? I'll track him down right away and have him call you–"

"No," Alice cut in again. "I'll be on a plane. Look, have you heard anything from Edward?"

"Well, yes, Alice. Actually. I did talk to Edward," replied the other vampire. Alice's face grew darker. "Just a few minutes ago. You and Carlisle were wrong. Edward wouldn't appreciate being lied to. He'd want the truth. He did want it. So I gave it to him. I called him … I called him a lot," the female vampire admitted. Alice's jaw had actually dropped. "Until he picked up. A message would have been … wrong."

I could see the phone vibrating in Alice's hand as she took in this news. Why would Edward care? Why was this such a big deal? I'm glad he thinks she is dead – maybe he'll never come back here again.

"Why?" Alice gasped into the phone. "Why would you do that, Rosalie?"

"Because," the female vampire said coldly, "the sooner he gets over this, the sooner things go back to normal. It wouldn't have gotten easier with time, so why put it off? Time isn't going to change anything." Alice's jaw clenched. And why would the leech even care if Bella was alive or dead? Hadn't he left her for dead in the woods only a few months ago? The vampire on the other end continued, "Bella is dead. Edward will grieve and then he'll get over it. Better he begins now than later."

Still, I didn't understand why he would be grieving over her. It just didn't make any sense. Alice's eyes began to narrow.

"Well, you're wrong on both counts, though, Rosalie, so that would be a problem, don't you think?" she asked acidly.

There was silence on the other end for a whole second. "Bella's still alive?"

"Yes, that's right. She's absolutely fine–"

"Fine? You saw her jump off a cliff!" the female shouted. Her voice was urgent, upset – pissed. She wasn't pissed that Bella was still alive? Again the fury pounded through my veins.

"I was wrong," Alice admitted.

Again, there was a short silence on the other end. "How?" whispered the vampire.

"It's a long story."

The female vampire growled into the phone. "Well, you've made quite a mess," she accused. "Edward is going to be furious when he comes home."

"But you're wrong about that part, too, that's why I'm calling…" Alice was getting impatient, you could tell by the look on her face, the swift tap of her foot.

"Wrong about what? Edward coming home? Of course he will." There was a tinkling laugh on the other side – derisive. "What? You think he's going to pull a Romeo? Ha! Like some stupid romantic—"

"Yes, that's exactly what I saw." There was vehemence in Alice's voice. She was furious.

A Romeo? This whole thing just wasn't making any sense to me.

"No. He's not that stupid. He—he must realize that—" the female began to sound frantic after her sarcastic and mocking tones. "I—I didn't mean it like that, Alice! I just wanted him to come home!" she howled.

Alice's voice was bitter and she actually bared her teeth like a dog. "It's a bit late for that, Rose. Save your remorse for someone who believes it."

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Author's note: Gah! Things have been absolutely INSANE! So I didn't update this as quickly as I wanted to, and now it looks like it will be in three parts instead of two. If you want to know WHY I've been so busy, it is because it is getting down to brass tacks ... I'm about to publish. Yikes. Check out my book at timelessseries .blogspot[dot]com

Disclaimer:All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of Stephenie Meyer. Lolafalana is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of New Moon. No copyright infringement is intended.