The forest was dark.
I could see nothing in the darkness between the trees. Leaves rustled, animals crept and called to each other, and I was numb to the world. Curled on the forest floor, I stared at my knees and breathed shakily. Edward was gone.
Edward was gone.
I couldn't breathe. I couldn't move. I simply lay there on the ground, gasping for air as tears burned down my face. Gradually I became aware of a sharp stick digging into my shoulder, twisting the fabric of my shirt and pinching my skin. I did not move.
I heard voices in the distance, calling my name. I listened to them for a short while, wondering why they wanted to see me. By the time I thought to answer, the forest was silent again. I did not mind.
There was a rustle near me, but I didn't look up. The crunch of a twig, and a musky aroma reached my nose. I raised my head and peered into the gloom and saw a golden boy.
As I stared, the golden boy paced slowly closer, his movements deliberate and light. His skin was a beautiful shade of gold, permanently kissed by the sun. His wild curls of honey hair matched his golden eyes, and I began to hyperventilate.
He reached me quickly, picking me up and cradling me in his expert arms. He made no sound to comfort me, he just held me loosely and brushed the debris out of my hair. I noticed strange, black markings on his arms and hands, like tribal tattoos. I tried to speak, to ask him who he was, but I could only let out a strangled sound.
"Hush now," the boy said. "You're safe."
I made no movement of affirmation, only gazing at him in a mixture of awe and horror. His golden eyes turned silver in the dim light as he looked around, face stilling as he seemed to concentrate.
Without warning, he scooped me up securely in his arms and stood upright in one fluid movement. I whimpered in pain at the memories his grace procured. He spared me one brief, worried look, before setting off at a jog.
He wasn't as fluid as his run, but the jarring kept my mind from wandering and loosened my tongue.
"Who are you?" I asked finally, voice shaking a little.
He did not answer my question, merely avoiding it by darting through some trees and asking, "A better question is what you were doing out here, all by yourself."
I closed my eyes for a moment, biting my lip at the painful memory. "I'd rather not talk about that."
He shrugged, bumping me against his chest in the process. "Suit yourself," he said, running faster.
He ran for a while, before stopping dead and depositing me on the ground so quickly that I let out a little scream. His hand was like iron over my mouth in an instant, his other arm clamping around my shoulder as he dragged me near a tree and hissed, "Stay behind me."
Standing tall, he drew a short knife from his boot and called loudly, "Who are you and what do you want?"
The bushes to our left rustled, before revealing a tall, shirtless Quileute man walked out of the shrubbery. "My name is Sam Uley. I'm part of a search party looking for Chief Swan's daughter. I can take her back to her father now," he said softly, eyeing the knife warily.
The boy did not lower his knife. "You don't look like a Downworlder to me, but your tracks say otherwise," he told Sam Uley.
This made no sense to me, but it seemed to make sense to Sam. "I'm no Downworlder, I'm a Quileute."
The boy lowered his blade in an instant, ferocity forgotten as he looked curiously at Sam. "I've heard stories, but I've never met anyone of your abilities."
"Shadowhunters don't usually run through these woods with a missing girl," Sam said shortly.
The boy grinned, a flash of sunlight on glass. Holding his hand out, he shook Sam's hand and said, "Jace, Jace Wayland. A pleasure to meet you, Sam Uley."
Sam smiled a bit, before walking over to me and scooping me up. I relaxed a little, warmed by his bare chest. "Take care, Isabella Swan," Jace told me, placing his palm on my forehead. "May the Angel watch over you."
Then he was running through the woods, quick as an arrow and gone like the sunset.
Sam carried me through the woods, the mantra of his walk lulling me to sleep. I heard voices, and my father's arms were around me as he stammered out his thanks to Sam. I was carried inside the house and laid on the couch and asleep my the time my head hit the cushions.