I pushed my hands down on Bella's chest again and again, forcing her heart to beat.
Jacob had gone, had given up on her. I put him out of my mind, him and his conviction that it was too late. It couldn't be too late! I could not lose Bella, not now, not after all this. She was my sole reason for existing. I would not be able to go on without her at my side, even for the sake of our child.
Our child …
Renesmee, who Rosalie was caring for downstairs, who I had hated such a short while ago, was now so dear to me. Since hearing her mind and the depths of her love for her mother, I was unable to hate her. As Jacob himself had thought so succinctly, I was unable to hate anything that loved Bella. And she was so beautiful! Her eyes, a mirror of her mother's! A soul with all her mother's purity and goodness. Could I find a way to live for her without Bella by my side? With Bella we would be a family – a family all of my own!
I continued my insane work over Bella's body, trying to remember not to use all my strength. Even now, in my desperate effort to keep her alive, if I pushed too hard I would crush her ribcage. The venom that I hoped was racing through her system had enough to heal without that. I looked over her broken body – her legs splayed out unnaturally, the bloody gash at her abdomen where I had bitten our baby free from her womb – and wondered if even venom would be enough.
"Please, please, Bella, don't leave me," I begged. "Bella, Bella love, come back to me!"
I halted my compressions, and my ears were rewarded. Bella's heart continued to beat on its own. I stepped back, watching her.
She was still. Too still.
That couldn't be right. Yes, her heart was beating, but surely it was driving venom to all parts of her body. Why wasn't she screaming in agony?
"Bella?" I said, taking her hand. "Can you hear me?"
No response. She should be writhing as she felt the burn of the venom in her veins. She should be shrieking at the top of her lungs. And yet, there was only the sound of shallow breathing, and a heart pounding out a steady rhythm.
I was frantic for a moment before I remembered something.
Could it be the reason for her unnatural silence? We had discussed it, Carlisle, Bella and I, that perhaps morphine would lessen the searing pain of the transformation. Could it really have taken all her pain away? Was she unconscious, unaware of the venom's burn, as it coursed through her body?
I hoped with all my frozen heart that was the reason for her silence. But it was hard to believe she would be spared that pain. I had scarcely even dared to hope she would. I wondered if the venom's fire would be felt in full once it had burned all the morphine away. At least she might have less pain for some of the time …
Suddenly I became aware of something else. Something from downstairs.
What is he trying to do? Rosalie thought, before adding aloud, "Jasper! Alice! Come quickly!"
I looked through Rosalie's eyes to see what was disturbing her. She was holding the baby, shielding Renesmee from the enemy that was about to attack her: Jacob.
But the look on Jacob's face was not that of an attacker. His thoughts came to me in the same moment Rosalie's had, but they were so unbelievable that it took me a moment to comprehend them.
He was looking at Renesmee, and his entire being was focused on her. There was no thought in his head other than my daughter. He wanted to hold her. He was already concerned that Rosalie was so distracted she was going to drop her. He was reaching out, ready to catch her.
Jasper sprang between them, forcing Jacob back. A moment later Alice was also there, snarling at him. They weren't going to attack, as Jacob was considered an ally at present, but they were making it clear that he should keep his distance.
Still Jacob was focused on Renesmee. He reached out a hand to her, and gritted his teeth as Rosalie turned the baby away from him.
"Be careful with her!" he spat. Stupid bloodsucker.
"You stay away from her, dog!" Rosalie bit back. "Don't you have a pack to look after?"
The others stood between Jacob and Rosalie, but they realized that Jacob's expression was not aggressive and they paused. Jasper assessed Jacob's emotions, and was amazed at what he experienced. The love he now felt for my daughter was shining through unhindered. My brother couldn't understand the reason for Jacob's change of feelings. That wasn't surprising. I was getting it firsthand, and I was just as amazed as him.
Again Jacob reached toward Renesmee, and the others tensed.
Renesmee, still intent on the blood that Rosalie had been feeding her, tried to get Rosalie's attention. Jacob noticed before Rosalie did.
"You can't even feed her properly!" he snapped. "Can't you see she's thirsty?"
All three of my siblings gaped at this. That Jacob could speak of satisfying Renesmee's vampire nature so casually seemed impossible to them.
Jacob didn't notice their expression. Impatience filled his thoughts, and he clicked his fingers at my sister in irritation. "Give her to me if you're not going to feed her."
Rosalie clung to Renesmee even more tightly, and the others crowded in on Jacob.
For the first time Jacob became aware that they did not understand his intention. But, rather than explain it, he reacted in his usual fashion. What are they all gaping at? He gave them a derisive glare. "What, do you think I'm going to hurt her?"
"Since when have you liked her?" Alice spat.
"Ha! You can talk!" Jacob replied, defensively. "You wanted her gone just as much as me!"
The snarling erupted again, and I could see that Renesmee was becoming distressed, not to mention that I thought that the situation, especially as it concerned my daughter, had gone far enough.
"That is enough!" I called from upstairs. In spite of the severity of the dispute, I was not leaving Bella's side to sort it out. "Rosalie, you will bring Renesmee up here. Jacob, you will come as well."
Unwilling to come peaceably, Jacob tried to take Renesmee as Rosalie passed him. She hissed at him, and he stepped back, but was about to reach for her again.
"Jacob!" I snapped.
A moment later both of them rounded the corner. Alice was following. I could see her thoughts. She had looked into the future, but she could only see pictures, not words, so she didn't understand what had caused the change in Jacob's behavior.
Rosalie and Jacob started with me, through both their thoughts and their words, before I had a chance to open my mouth.
"He was trying to hurt the baby!" I won't let him touch her.
She's going to drop her any minute. She's not even paying attention. "I would never do that! And look at you –"
"Quiet!" I yelled, looking back at Bella for a moment. I hoped she wasn't aware enough to take all this in. It would be too much for her at the moment. I eyed Jacob warily before turning to my sister.
"Rosalie," I said, measuring my words, "before you have anything further to do with my daughter, you will take Jasper and go and hunt."
She was astonished. "What, with all the wolves out there? It's not safe! Besides, I don't need –"
"Oh no?" I demanded. "Then why did you nearly attack my wife not an hour ago?"
Her lips pressed together. "That was different. I'm in control now –"
"And I want to be sure your control doesn't slip. You will go and hunt."
"But the wolves –"
"Take Alice as well, then. You will be safe enough."
Rosalie gave me a furious glare, but realized there was nothing for it but to obey. Jacob gave her a smug look, and reached out to take Renesmee from her. I stepped between them, taking Renesmee myself, and keeping my eyes on Jacob.
Alice and Rosalie left together, with Rosalie still grumbling in her mind.
Alice wasn't much happier. This is going to be fun, she thought sarcastically. She was flipping through visions of Rosalie's endless complaints during their hunt.
Jacob didn't watch them go. He was still watching Renesmee. His eyes, when they did flicker to me, alternated between resentment and compliance. While I was used to experiencing the first in Jacob's mind when he thought of me, the other was something I would have to get used to.
And it looked like there would be plenty of time to get used to it. I sighed.
He was instantly on the defensive. He could tell by my face that I had seen in his mind what had happened, so he didn't bother to explain. "Hey, it's not my fault. It's an involuntary reaction, you have to know that. You would have seen it in Sam's mind, and the others. You know I didn't mean it, and you know I won't hurt her."
Defensive as he was, I could sense something else creeping into his mind. Desperation. He was trying to find a way to appease me, because it had suddenly occurred to him that I could veto any contact he had with my child. And he couldn't live with that. He couldn't be away from her. He had imprinted, and he was bound by his nature to be by her side.
This realization gave me a twinge of satisfaction. Now the shoe was on the other foot. No longer was I the filthy, bloodsucking rival, the monster trying to take away the woman he loved. Now I was her father.
Also, I was irritated. He hadn't even glanced once at Bella, where she lay on the operating table, her heart still hammering away. She was no longer his focus. While this was not necessarily a bad thing when all things were considered, it still annoyed me that suddenly she was of no interest to him. But I bit back my annoyance. There were more important things to discuss.
I hefted Renesmee in my arms and glared back at him. "That might be the case now," I said, "but was it the case when you went looking for her?"
Jacob brushed me off. "That doesn't matter now! I'd never hurt her!"
"But you wanted to kill her," I reminded him. I could remember him thinking it, but I had been too distracted by Bella's situation to take it in. Only now did I realise how close my slip had come to causing her death.
But Jacob wasn't going to give any ground. "Yeah? So did you," he reminded me. "More than a few times."
I clenched my teeth. "That may be true. But there is a significant difference."
"And what is that?"
"I am her father," I pointed out. "So everything that happens to her, especially now that Bella is … well, it is my concern."
For a moment Jacob's eyes flickered to Bella's form. He noticed her heartbeat with surprise. "I thought she was dead."
"Apparently not," I told him, hoping it was true.
"I suppose –" he began, then he quickly shut his mouth. Not that he needed to bother. I'd already seen what he was thinking.
I suppose she's as good as dead anyway, since she's gonna be a vampire now.
I glared at him, and he shuffled uncomfortably. "I didn't say it."
He rolled his eyes. "Look, old habits die hard."
His thoughts again strayed along the familiar paths that leaked hatred for my kind, and I could sense his frustration as he tried to stop the insults before they started. He scowled and stared down at his feet. Jacob was not skilled at controlling his words, let alone his thoughts. As he had said, old habits die hard.
But there was something that had died, and that was the way he viewed Bella. He realized it at that point, and his eyebrows pulled together before they darted back to Renesmee. "Do you think … the way I felt about Bella. Do you think it was her all the time?"
"I don't know," I said, trying to keep my voice steady. I couldn't deny that I was relieved his desire for my wife had vanished. I hoped Bella would be the same, and that this continual need for Jacob in her life would be gone.
But had it gone, or had it just shifted? I held my daughter close, and she gazed up at me with eyes far too intelligent for a child merely hours old.
Jacob shuffled again. "Well, since you sent blondie hunting, do you think …?" he held out his arms towards Renesmee.
I shifted her away from him. "When Rosalie returns, I will lay down the rules for both of you. You will share the responsibility for caring for her between the two of you until Bella has … recovered. Then we will both decide how to proceed from there."
Jacob's expression became desperate. "You know I can't stay away from her."
I sighed. "Go and fetch her bottle. Rosalie left it downstairs. She's still thirsty."
As Jacob hurried away, I looked down at my daughter once more. She reached up and touched my face. Her thoughts filled my mind. Yes, she was still thirsty, but she cast a curious glance at Bella, where she lay.
I carried her over to her mother. She looked at me questioningly, and thought of the one memory she had of Bella when she was awake.
"Yes," I told her. "This is your mother. Don't worry," I added, putting a conviction I didn't really feel into my voice, "she'll be fine in a few days."
Jacob had returned with the bottle by this time, and, with a sigh, I surrendered my daughter to him. His eyes widened with delight as he got to hold her, and I saw wonder and dedication fill his face. At least I knew he was right. He wouldn't hurt her. She would be safe with him until Rosalie came back.
However, as he took Renesmee in his arms, something happened that neither of us had been expecting. Before he managed to get the bottle into her mouth, she leaned over and sank her teeth into his arm.
"Yeeowch!" he hollered, almost dropping her in shock. I was about to grab her myself when he shifted her to his other arm and shoved the bottle into her mouth.
The sound of greedy sucking filled the air as Jacob looked over the damage. Not that it was much – just a tiny crescent shape – and it was already disappearing as Jacob's wolf-genes healed it.
He glared at me. "I thought she was supposed to be a vegetarian."
I shrugged, trying to hide my amusement. "Well, you are a dog."
"Huh," he grumbled. I s'pose I should have been expecting that. After all, she bit Bella.
I couldn't help but marvel at how easily he accepted the fact that a half-vampire child had just bitten him. There was no bitterness towards her, or even anger. All he was thinking now was to remind himself to watch out in future, in case she tried it again.
And I couldn't deny that I was hoping she would – a lot.
Once he had gone I returned to Bella's side and took her hand in mine. Her heart was still beating, and only that sound reassured me. She still wasn't screaming. Did that mean the morphine really worked? Or perhaps she was brain dead, and the venom would change her physically, but it would be too late for her mind. I realized it would impossible to tell until it was all over. I winced as I thought of waiting another few days before I found out. How could I wait so long?