Come Take a Walk with Me
Needlessly, I breathed as I tried with all my power and strength to keep from running after Edward. The ground gave away like butter beneath my fingertips, as I planted my feet on the ground. Every instinct, new and old, wanted me to follow my husband to protect him from harm and fight by his side.
"I don't know what will happen. You have to fight it, Bella," Alice whispered from my right.
She kept her distance, though I didn't take it personally. From what Edward told me, I would be stronger as a newborn than any of them. It didn't help that I'd been a walking mood swing since I had awoken in this new body and life. Easily distracted by the simplest of things, I was not exactly good company. Entranced by a sparkling particle of dust to the shape of my husband's lips, my eyes always wanted see more of this new world around me. It didn't help that I reacted to the intrusion to Jacob's thoughts without telling Edward and his family anything. Instinct drove me.
I knew from the moment the wolves broke through the tree line what Jacob's plan was, to separate me from the others. Jacob's thoughts had betrayed him, and though I walked into his trap, my intent was to stop him at all costs. He was a risk to Edward, to our family and Charlie. If he had not bitten me, instinctively making me panic, he wouldn't have gotten away from me again. After Edward's venom-filled bite started the fiery transformation the first time, the thought of someone else biting my neck made my skin crawl, or maybe it was because of Jacob.
A part of me never wanted to experience the level of pain of the transformation again. Yet, I knew losing Edward would be a thousand times worse. That thought suddenly overwhelmed me. I screamed and jumped to my feet, unable to fight the urge to find him. I looked left and right, getting my bearings easily. He traveled toward the south, but before I could take a step toward him, Alice said, "Wait."
Alice and Carmen shook their heads. "You can't go, nina," Carmen said, carefully stepping forward. You cannot follow him. He's too close to the town. She knew I could read thoughts; did Edward tell her?
I swallowed, venom burning down my parched throat like acid. "I know," I replied, closing my eyes to concentrate on my surroundings. I did know, and it was that reminder that kept me from seeking my husband.
I was frustrated that it was much harder to control my shield as a vampire. However, I was able to share Edward's mind reading ability, and to amplify it due to my shield, but I could not control the other aspects of it. They seemed to remain dormant one second and pop out suddenly, forcing me to rein it inside me. If Edward hadn't made me realize that it was him on top of me earlier, instead of Jacob, it would have unleashed and caused untold damage to everything around me, including Edward and his family. I had little control over it. I could not drop it at will or expand it outward to strike against Jacob when he attacked me.
However, Edward was able to use his shield in such a manner. I knew then that it was true. If a vampire mated with his or her singer, they shared their gifts. At least, that seemed to our case. Edward wasn't aware at the time, when he had tried to stop me from attacking him. He had pushed me slightly with his shield. That push was enough for me to see that it was him on me.
Maybe his shield would protect him against Jacob. Please, let him be safe. I hated that it had come to destroying Billy's son, but he was a threat to too many people and seemed to have lost all reason. There was no other choice. I could not risk Charlie and my mother, or anyone in Forks. I only hoped that Billy would survive the loss of his only son.
My attention was drawn away from my tiresome thoughts by a sound. I caught the scent of a few stragglers from Jacob's adopted pack and ran away from my husband and toward the source of substance. The inner beast rebelled against it, but I would not allow it to win. My legs pumped faster, giving me a greater advantage against Alice and Carmen. Though I knew they were friendly, a part of me saw them as someone encroaching on my next meal.
Ignoring the scent of wet dog, and before Alice and Carmen could catch up with me, I pounced on a trio of wolves, sending us sprawling in the snow. Instantly, the blood of one of the wolves tinged the air. I growled and I dove, biting its jugular. Instinctively, I twisted its neck to end the struggling and its suffering. Before the other two were able to limp away from me, I jumped onto them, emptying them of their blood in about ten seconds.
As I stood, I looked at the wolves carcasses, unable to look away. They were so still and besides the small amount of blood that spilled on impact, there was nothing more to provide evidence of their demise. I heard Alice and Carmen approach slowly, and I spared them a look.
Alice smiled timidly. "You are doing so well, Bella." Carmen nodded. "You barely have any blood on you." I looked down at my attire, the grey leggings were torn on one side, and my blue sweater dress was tattered along the neckline.
Before I could offer some sarcastic reply, something caught my interest a few miles east of my position. I concentrated and heard the thudding beat of a heart nearby, it was thready, a bit too fast, the sound of blood rushing in veins, and salt water tinged the air. The sound, the scent called to me like no other. Someone or something was bleeding. I groaned and sprinted away from a screaming Alice and Carmen.
Instinct drove me to run faster, to find the source of the scent. My throat was on fire, my stomach clenching with a different type of desire.
I was thirsty.
On either side of me was Jasper and Carlisle, the others taking up the rear to insure that Jacob did not circle around and go after Bella again.
"He's reaching the outskirts of town," Tanya indicated, catching up with our longer strides. "There's a cabin about mile away, he'll reach that first."
"Will he hurt them on purpose?" Jasper asked, confused because strategically, it made no sense. Anyone else would have gone straight for Charlie as he had threatened. We were missing something, though I had no idea what it was.
I relayed some information. "Bella saw his thoughts and from what I read as he was attacking her, he wants for me and her to suffer. The town is likely a stop on his path toward Charlie. Maybe he hopes that she'll chase him."
"We must stop him," Eleazar said, reaching Carlisle's side. "If he causes mayhem in the town, and the incident reaches the Volturi, the giant wolf aspects of the story will garner a visit from the very least Caius. That cannot happen while Edward and Bella are this close."
"Agreed," Carlisle said as we reached the cabin.
I heard the hum of electricity, the steady beat of a retired, widowed logger as he watched something on television. Behind those noises was a harsh beat of another heart. Jacob. I looked at Jasper and with a simple nod, he moved closer to the house to put the human to sleep with his gift and stand guard in case Jacob planned to attack.
Keeping my voice low enough for the man not to hear, I called for my enemy, "Jacob, its time to put an end to this."
I heard the dark laugh from his inner most thoughts. "As if you'd give me a fair chance. What's the matter, leech? Too scared to take me on by yourself?"
"Never," I hissed and walked slowly toward a large embankment of shoveled snow. I heard the others approach, but with a shake of my head, they remained where they stood. They did not enjoy the prospect of watching me fight on my own. I had the ability to overcome Jacob easily, but it was the fact that I might not be able to live with myself after destroying him that worried them.
They had nothing to worry about; his death would only serve to remind me in the future, that I would do anything for my wife.
From behind the embankment, his massive furry form stepped out, his lips curled over vicious canines. His dark eyes remained on me as he sniffed the air, wary of the others, but made no move toward them. The only thing on his mind seemed to be me; not even Bella invaded his thoughts.
I knew then, that he was hiding something. That secret had to wait. I could see all the telltale signs of his impending attack. The way his body coiled like a spring, ready to pounce from his powerful hind legs, the way his ears fell back against his head and the rage that gave him away right before he attacked.
I sidestepped him easily and delivered a punch to his ribcage that sent him across the clearing. He fell from midair, skidding across snow and forest debris, coming to a stop near a tree. A whimper escaped before Jacob bounced back on his paws and shook away the daze from the lack of air. He panted as he circled around me, looking for the advantage. I read every thought in his mind; saw how his imagination ran wild with vivid thoughts of killing me. It ranged from beheading with a single swipe of his paw— highly unlikely— to ripping every limb from my broken body and tossing them onto a roaring fire. He wanted retribution for his lost love, as he still believed he imprinted on her.
From the nearby tree line, my family watched, all wary and guarded. All willing to step in if I required aid. There would be no need for it, because I would be the one to kill for Bella, as I had done before. I would do again if it meant her safety and happiness.
"She would've been mine," Jacob snarled in his mind.
"She was never yours."
Jacob threw his head back, howling before launching another attack.
Alice and Carmen were miles behind me, but my mind was too focused on the blood that still thrummed with life nearby to care about them. I skidded to a halt in a small clearing, listening for the heartbeat and following the delectable scent. Something lay on the ground, covered in a blanket. Whatever it was appeared to be shivering, too. That gave me a reason to pause, breathing deeply to take more of the scent inside me. Was this another trap set up by Jacob?
"Mommy," the small, hoarse voice of a child came from within the trembling pile of fabric.
I hissed, dismissing what I heard. There was no reason for a child to be out miles from town in twenty-nine degree weather. My mind raced with other possibilities. Another of Jacob's adopted wolves indigenous to the region, maybe a hurt dog, or cat.
I growled. In a second I was in the clearing, unable to stop myself from approaching the child. My hand swept away its only warmth with a flick of my wrist, eliciting a frightened yelp and another round of shivers. The boy appeared to be no more than five years old, with curly brown hair and startling dark blue eyes that stared up at me.
"Are you an angel?" he asked.
His question, the softness of his voice stilled the hand I had begun raising to his throat unbidden. My instincts, the beast inside me, threatened to come forth.
"Yes," I lied. At least, I believed I did, but I was almost beyond reason.
"Are you here to kill the big bad wolf that took me?" His eyes widened at the thought of that, imagining me wringing Jacob's neck in a cartoonish fashion until his eyes popped out, gruesome even for a boy of his age. A tiny hand lifted and he proceeded to suck on his thumb, displaying a dimple in his pale right cheek. Gone was the tinge of warmth I had felt earlier, and I knew he'd been out in the cold too long.
My air supply was limited to talk, just becoming aware that I had stopped breathing since he cried out for his mother. The two sides of who I was rioted inside me. My humanity and instinct to protect a child at all costs was one and the other that craved his blood.
"He's gone," I replied, knowing Edward would end Jacob's life. He would not allow Jacob to get away, not with the threat against my father.
Would I do the same to the boy? Kill him, a helpless child?
Jacob had left him here for a reason, and that was to punish me. I would not let him win. I hope.
"Did you hurt yourself?" I asked, pulling the blanket back over him. He nodded, lifting up the sleeve of his cowboy pajamas. Another hiss escaped me as blood, red and vivid lay nearly frozen at his elbow.
"He cut me." His eyes brightened with tears. "Will I be a werewolf, too?" I stopped breathing again, unable to take much more.
I shook my head and lifted him in my arms as if he only weighed as much as a feather. What I planned to do with the boy, I was still unsure. "What's your name?" I asked on my last breath.
I wasn't sure why, perhaps instinctively, I moved farther away from the others…and Edward.
I grunted as I allowed Jacob to meet me head on, taking the brunt of his assault in my arms and legs, keeping myself on my feet. My arms encircled him, and with all my strength, I tried to crush his ribs. He howled, thrashed from side to side, wrenching himself from my hold, limping away. I did not give him a reprieve and launched myself at him, colliding before our bodies rolled on the frozen ground, his howls of pain echoing in my ears. He snapped at my face several times, accompanied by fierce growls, succeeding twice at gauging my jaw and cheek, but the prickle of venom told me that they would heal easily.
His teeth managed to latch onto my shoulder, but my hands circled his jugular at the same time. I pounded the back of his head against the ground, waiting for him to die. "I am sorry it had to come to this," I growled, my fingers tensing around him further. "But I must protect her from the likes of you."
His laughter was peculiar, dark, yet somewhat jubilant. Fur started to recede partially, enough for him to look more human than wolf. "You may have won," he gasped, nearly breathless, his voice deeper in partial wolf form. "And you may have protected her from me, but who will protect her from herself?"
It was then that he allowed me to see what he had done. The memory of him taking a small, terrified boy from his bed after his mother had finally fallen asleep, how he bundled him up in a blanket and had him stay in one place to wait for someone to get him. I also could see how his claw had scraped against the child's arm, making him bleed.
"She'll never be able to live with herself," he breathed as his eyes rolled back, the last of his air escaping him in another rush of words, "And maybe you'll have to destroy her."
"What have you done?" I said in horror.
As his life ended, another hung in the balance miles and miles away. I heard Alice scream Bella's name and then my own.
Bella had found the boy.