Post Reply chapter 21: first hunt
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Posted 12/25/08
"The window?" I asked, staring two stories down.
I'd never really been afraid of heights per se, but being able to see all the details
with such clarity made the prospect less appealing. The angles of the rocks below
were sharper than I would have imagined them.
Edward smiled. "It's the most convenient exit. If you're frightened, I can carry
you."
"We have all eternity, and you're worried about the time it would take to walk to
the back door?"
He frowned slightly. "Renesmee and Jacob are downstairs..."
"Oh."
Right. I was the monster now. I had to keep away from scents that might trigger
my wild side. From the people that I loved in particular. Even the ones I didn't
really know yet.
"Is Renesmee... okay... with Jacob there?" I whispered. I realized belatedly that it
must havebeen Jacob's heart I'd heard below. I listened hard again, but I could
only hear the one steady pulse. "He doesn't like her much."
Edward's lips tightened in an odd way. "Trust me, she is perfectly safe. I know
exactly what Jacob is thinking."
"Of course," I murmured, and looked at the ground again.
"Stalling?" he challenged.
"A little. I don't know how...."
And I was very conscious of my family behind me, watching silently. Mostly silently.
Emmett had already chuckled under his breath once. One mistake, and
he'd be rolling on the floor. Then the jokes about the world's only clumsy vampire
would start....
Also, this dress – that Alice must have put me in sometime when I was too lost in
the burning to notice – was not what I would have picked out for either jumping
or hunting. Tightly fitted ice-blue silk? What did she think I would need it for?
Was there a cocktail party later?
"Watch me," Edward said. And then, very casually, he stepped out of the tall,
open window and fell.
I watched carefully, analyzing the angle at which he bent his knees to absorb the
impact. The sound of his landing was very low – a muted thud that could have
been a door softly closed, or a book gently laid on a table.
It didn'tlook hard.
Clenching my teeth as I concentrated, I tried to copy his casual step into empty
air.
Ha! The ground seemed to move toward me so slowly that it was nothing at all to
place my feet – what shoes had Alice put me in? Stilettos? She'd lost her mind –
to place mysilly shoes exactly right so that landing was no different than stepping
one foot forward on a flat surface.
I absorbed the impact in the balls of my feet, not wanting to snap off the thin
heels. My landing seemed just as quiet as his. I grinned at him.
"Right. Easy."
He smiled back. "Bella?"
"Yes?"
"That was quite graceful – even for a vampire."
I considered that for a moment, and then I beamed. If he'd just been saying that,
then Emmett would have laughed. No one found his remark humorous, so it must
have been true. It was the first time anyone had ever applied the wordgraceful 'to
me in my entire life... or, well, existence anyway.
"T/?an/cyou,"i told him.
And then I hooked the silver satin shoes off my feet one by one and lobbed them
together back through the open window. A little too hard, maybe, but I heard
someone catch them before they could damage the paneling.
Alice grumbled, "Her fashion sense hasn't improved as much as her balance."
Edward took my hand – I couldn't stop marveling at the smoothness, the comfortable
temperature of his skin – and darted through the backyard to the edge of
the river. I went along with him effortlessly.
Everything physical seemed very simple.
"Are we swimming?" I asked him when we stopped beside the water.
"And ruin your pretty dress? No. We're jumping."
I pursed my lips, considering. The river was about fifty yards wide here.
"You first," I said.
He touched my cheek, took two quick backward strides, and then ran back those
two steps, launching himself from a flat stone firmly embedded in the riverbank.
I studied the flash of movement as he arced over the water, finally turning a somersault
just before he disappeared into the thick trees on the other side of the
river.
"Show-off," I muttered, and heard his invisible laugh.
I backed up five paces, just in case, and took a deep breath.
Suddenly, I was anxious again. Not about falling or getting hurt – I was more
worried about the forest getting hurt.
It had come on slowly, but I could feel it now – the raw, massive strength thrilling
in my limbs. I was suddenly sure that if I wanted to tunnelunder the river, to
claw or beat my way straight through the bedrock, it wouldn't take me very long.
The objects around me – the trees, the shrubs, the rocks... the house – had all begun
to look very fragile.
Hoping very much that Esme was not particularly fond of any specific trees
across the river, I began my first stride. And then stopped when the tight satin
split six inches up my thigh. Alice!
Well, Alice always seemed to treat clothes as if they were disposable and meant
for one-time usage, so she shouldn't mind this. I bent to carefully grasp the hem
at the undamaged right seam between my fingers and, exerting the tiniest
amount of pressure possible, I ripped the dress open to the top of my thigh. Then
I fixed the other side to match.
Much better.
I could hear the muffled laughter in the house, and even the sound of someone
gritting her teeth. The laughter came from upstairs and down, and I very easily
recognized the much different, rough, throaty chuckle from the firstfloor.
So Jacob was watching, too? I couldn't imagine what he was thinking now, or
what he was still doing here. I'd envisioned our reunion – if he could ever forgive
me – taking place far in the future, when I was more stable, and time had healed
the wounds I'd inflicted in his heart.
I didn't turn to look at him now, wary of my mood swings. It wouldn't be good to
let any emotion take too strong a hold on my frame of mind. Jasper's fears had
me on edge, too. I had to hunt before I dealt with anything else. I tried to forget
everything else so I couldconcentrate.
"Bella?" Edward called from the woods, his voice moving closer. "Do you want to
watch again?"
But I remembered everything perfectly, of course, and I didn't want to give
Emmett a reason to findmore humor in my education. This was physical – it
should be instinctive. So I took a deep breath and ran for the river.
Unhindered by my skirt, it took only one long bound to reach the water's edge.
Just an eighty-fourth of a second, and yet it was plenty of time – my eyes and my
mind moved so quickly that one step was enough. It was simple to position my
right foot just so against the flat stone and exert the adequate pressure to send
my body wheeling up into the air. I was paying more attention to aim than force,
and I erred on the amount of power necessary – but at least I didn't err on the
side that would have gotten me wet. The fifty yard width was slightlytoo easy a
distance...
It was a strange, giddy, electrifying thing, but a short thing. An entire second had
yet to pass, and I was across.
I was expecting the close-packed trees to be a problem, but they were surprisingly
helpful. It was a simple matter to reach out with one sure hand as I fell back
toward the earth again deep inside the forest and catch myself on a convenient
branch; I swung lightly from the limb and landed on my toes, still fifteen feet
from the ground on the wide bough of a Sitka spruce.
It was fabulous.
Over the sound of my peals of delighted laughter, I could hear Edward racing to
find me. My jump had been twice as long as his. When he reached my tree, his
eyes were wide. I leaped nimbly from the branch to his side,
soundlessly landing again on the balls of my feet.
"Was that good?" I wondered, my breathing accelerated with excitement.
"Very good." He smiled approvingly, but his casual tone didn't match the surprised
expression in his eyes.
"Can we do it again?"
"Focus, Bella – we're on a hunting trip."
"Oh, right." I nodded. "Hunting."
"Follow me... if you can." He grinned, his expression suddenly taunting, and
broke into a run.
He was faster than me. I couldn't imagine how he moved his legs with such
blinding speed, but it was beyond me. However, Iwas stronger, and every stride
of mine matched the length of three of his. And so I flew with him through the
living green web, by his side, not following at all. As I ran, I couldn't help laughing
quietly at the thrill of it; the laughter neither slowed me nor upset my focus.
I could finally understand why Edward never hit the trees when he ran – a question
that had always been a mystery to me. It was a peculiar sensation, the balance
between the speed and the clarity. For, while I rocketed over, under, and
through the thick jade maze at a rate that should have reduced everything around
me to a streaky green blur, I could plainly see each tiny leaf on all the small
branches of every insignificant shrub that I passed.
The wind of my speed blew my hair and my torn dress out behind me, and,
though I knew it shouldn't, it felt warm against my skin. Just as the rough forest
floor shouldn't feel like velvet beneath my bare soles, and the limbs that whipped
against my skin shouldn't feel like caressing feathers.
The forest was much more alive than I'd ever known – small creatures whose existence
I'd never guessed at teemed in the leaves around me. They all grew silent
after we passed, their breath quickening in fear. The animals had a much wiser
reaction to our scent than humans seemed to. Certainly, it'd had the opposite effect
on me.
I kept waiting to feel winded, but my breath came effortlessly. I waited for the
burn to begin in my muscles, but my strength only seemed to increase as I grew
accustomed to my stride. My leaping bounds stretched longer, and soon he was
trying to keep up with me. I laughed again, exultant, when I heard him falling behind.
My naked feet touched the ground so infrequently now it felt more like flying
than running.
"Belial he called dryly, his voice even, lazy. I could hear nothing else; he had
stopped.
I briefly considered mutiny.
But, with a sigh, I whirled and skipped lightly to his side, some hundred yards
back. I looked at him expectantly. He was smiling, with one eyebrow raised. He
was so beautiful that I could only stare.
"Did you want to stay in the country?" he asked, amused. "Or were you planning
to continue on to Canada this afternoon?"
"This is fine," I agreed, concentrating less on what he was saying and more on
the mesmerizing way his lips moved when he spoke. It was hard not to become
sidetracked with everything fresh in my strong new eyes. "What are we hunting?"
"Elk. I thought something easy for your first time ..." He trailed off when my eyes
narrowed at the wordeasy.
But I wasn't going to argue; I was too thirsty. As soon as I'd started to think
about the dry burn in my throat, it wasall I could think about. Definitely getting
worse. My mouth felt like four o'clock on a June afternoon in Death Valley.
"Where?" I asked, scanning the trees impatiently. Now that I had given the thirst
my attention, it seemed to taint every other thought in my head, leaking into the
more pleasant thoughts of running and Edward's lips and kissing and... scorching
thirst. I couldn't get away from it.
"Hold still for a minute," he said, putting his hands lightly on my shoulders. The
urgency of my thirst receded momentarily at his touch.
"Now close your eyes," he murmured. When I obeyed, he raised his hands to my
face, stroking my cheekbones. I felt my breathing speed and waited briefly again
for the blush that wouldn't come.
"Listen," Edward instructed. "What do you hear?"
Everything,I could have said; his perfect voice, his breath, his lips brushing together
as he spoke, the whisper of birds preening their feathers in the treetops,
their fluttering heartbeats, the maple leaves scraping together, the faint clicking
of ants following each other in a long line up the bark of the nearest tree. But I
knew he meant something specific, so I let my ears range outward, seeking something
different than the small hum of life that surrounded me. There was an open
space near us – the wind had a different sound across the exposed grass – and a
small creek, with a rocky bed. And there, near the noise of the water, was the
splash of lapping tongues, the loud thudding of heavy hearts, pumping thick
streams of blood...
It felt like the sides of my throat had sucked closed.
"By the creek, to the northeast?" I asked, my eyes still shut.
"Yes." His tone was approving. "Now... wait for the breeze again and... what do
you smell?"
Mostly him – his strange honey-lilac-and-sun perfume. But also the rich, earthy
smell of rot and moss, the resin in the evergreens, the warm, almost nutty aroma
of the small rodents cowering beneath the tree roots. And then, reaching out
again, the clean smell of the water, which was surprisingly unappealing despite
my thirst. I focused toward the water and found the scent that must have gone
with the lapping noise and the pounding heart. Another warm smell, rich and
tangy, stronger than the others. And yet nearly as unappealing as the brook. I
wrinkled my nose.
He chuckled. "I know – it takes some getting used to."
"Three?" I guessed.
"Five. There are two more in the trees behind them."
"What do I do now?"
His voice sounded like he was smiling. "What do you feel like doing?"
I thought about that, my eyes still shut as I listened and breathed in the scent.
Another bout of baking thirst intruded on my awareness, and suddenly the warm,
tangy odor wasn't quite so objectionable. At least it would be something hot and
wet in my desiccated mouth. My eyes snapped open.
"Don't think about it," he suggested as he lifted his hands off my face and took a
step back. "Just follow your
instincts."
I let myself drift with the scent, barely aware of my movement as I ghosted down
the incline to the narrow meadow where the stream flowed. My body shifted forward
automatically into a low crouch as I hesitated at the fern-fringed edge of the
trees. I could see a big buck, two dozen antler points crowning his head, at the
stream's edge, and the shadow-spotted shapes of the four others heading eastward
into forest at a leisurely pace.
I centered myself around the scent of the male, the hot spot in his shaggy neck
where the warmth pulsed strongest. Only thirty yards – two or three bounds –
between us. i tensed myself for the first leap.
But as my muscles bunched in preparation, the wind shifted, blowing stronger
now, and from the south. I didn't stop to think, hurtling out of the trees in a path
perpendicular to my original plan, scaring the elk into the forest, racing after a
new fragrance so attractive that there wasn't a choice. It was compulsory.
The scent ruled completely. I was single-minded as I traced it, aware only of the
thirst and the smell that promised to quench it. The thirst got worse, so painful
now that it confused all my other thoughts and began to remind me of the burn of
venom in my veins.
There was only one thing that had any chance of penetrating my focus now, an
instinct more powerful, more basic than the need to quench the fire – it was the
instinct to protect myself from danger. Self-preservation.
I was suddenly alert to the fact that I was being followed. The pull of the irresistible
scent warred with the impulse to turn and defend my hunt. A bubble of
sound built in my chest, my lips pulled back of their own accord to expose my
teeth in warning. My feet slowed, the need to protect my back struggling against
the desire to quench my thirst.
And then I could hear my pursuer gaining, and defense won. As I spun, the rising
sound ripped its way up my throat and out.
The feral snarl, coming from my own mouth, was so unexpected that it brought
me up short. It unsettled me, and it cleared my head for a second – the thirstdriven
haze receded, though the thirst burned on.
The wind shifted, blowing the smell of wet earth and coming rain across my face,
further freeing me from the other scent's fiery grip – a scent so delicious it could
only be human.
Edward hesitated a few feet away, his arms raised as if to embrace me – or restrain
me. His face was intent and cautious as I froze, horrified.
I realized that I had been about to attack him. With a hard jerk, I straightened
out of my defensive crouch. I held my breath as I refocused, fearing the power of
the fragrance swirling up from the south.
He could see reason return to my face, and he took a step toward me, lowering
his arms.
"I have to get away from here," I spit through my teeth, using the breath I had.
Shock crossed his face."Can you leave?"
I didn't have time to ask him what he meant by that. I knew the ability to think
clearly would last only as long as I could stop myself from thinking of –
I burst into a run again, a flat-out sprint straight north, concentrating solely on
the uncomfortable feeling of sensory deprivation that seemed to be my body's
only response to the lack of air. My one goal was to run far
enough away that the scent behind me would be completely lost. Impossible to
find, even if I changed my mind...
Once again, I was aware of being followed, but I was sane this time. I fought the
instinct to breathe – to use the flavors in the air to be sure it was Edward. I didn't
have to fight long; though I was running faster than I ever had before, shooting
like a comet through the straightest path I could find in the trees; Edward caught
up with me after a short minute.
A new thought occurred to me, and I stopped dead, my feet planted. I was sure it
must be safe here, butI held my breath just in case.
Edward blew past me, surprised by my sudden freeze. He wheeled around and
was at my side in a second. He put his hands on my shoulders and stared into my
eyes, shock still the dominant emotion on his face.
"How did you do that?" he demanded.
"You let me beat you before, didn't you?" I demanded back, ignoring his question.
And I'd thought I'd been doing sowell!
When I opened my mouth, I could taste the air – it was unpolluted now, with no
trace of the compelling perfume to torment my thirst. I took a cautious breath.
He shrugged and shook his head, refusing to be deflected. "Bella, how did you do
it?"
"Run away? I held my breath."
"But how did you stop hunting?"
"When you came up behind me... I'm so sorry about that."
"Why are you apologizing to me? I'm the one who was horribly careless. I assumed
no one would be so far from the trails, but I should have checked first.
Such a stupid mistake!You have nothing to apologize for."
"But I growled at you!" I was still horrified that I was physically capable of such
blasphemy.
"Of course you did. That's only natural. But I can't understand how you ran
away."
"What else could I do?" I asked. His attitude confused me – what did hewant to
have happened? "It might have been someone I know!"
He startled me, suddenly bursting into a spasm of loud laughter, throwing his
head back and letting the sound echo off the trees.
"Why are you laughing at me?"
He stopped at once, and I could see he was wary again.
Keep it under control,I thought to myself. I had to watch my temper. Just like I
was a young werewolf rather than a vampire.
"I'm not laughing at you,Bella. I'm laughing because I am in shock. And I am in
shock because I am completely amazed."
"Why?"
"You shouldn't be able to do any of this. You shouldn't be so... so rational. You
shouldn't be able to stand here discussing this with me calmly and coolly. And,
much more than any of that, you shouldnot have been able to break
off mid-hunt with the scent of human blood in the air. Even mature vampires
have difficulty with that – we're always very careful of where we hunt so as not to
put ourselves in the path of temptation. Bella, you're behaving like you're decades
rather than days old."
"Oh." But I'd known it was going to be hard. That was why I'd been so on guard.
I'd been expecting it to be difficult.
He put his hands on my face again, and his eyes were full of wonder. "What
wouldn't I give to be able to see into your mind for just this one moment."
Such powerful emotions. I'd been prepared for the thirst part, but not this. I'd
been so sure it wouldn't be the same when he touched me. Well, truthfully, it
wasn't the same.
It was stronger.
I reached up to trace the planes of his face; my fingers lingered on his lips.
"I thought I wouldn't feel this way for a long time?" My uncertainty made the
words a question. "But I stillwant you."
He blinked in shock. "How can you even concentrate on that? Aren't you unbearably
thirsty?"
Of course I wasnow, now that he'd brought it up again!
I tried to swallow and then sighed, closing my eyes like I had before to help me
concentrate. I let my senses range out around me, tensed this time in case of another
onslaught of the delicious taboo scent.
Edward dropped his hands, not even breathing while I listened farther and farther
out into the web of green life, sifting through the scents and sounds for
something not totally repellant to my thirst. There was a hint of something different,
a faint trail to the east...
My eyes flashed open, but my focus was still on sharper senses as I turned and
darted silently eastward. The ground sloped steeply upward almost at once, and I
ran in a hunting crouch, close to the ground, taking to the trees when that was
easier. I sensed rather than heard Edward with me, flowing quietly through the
woods, letting me lead.
The vegetation thinned as we climbed higher; the scent of pitch and resin grew
more powerful, as did the trail I followed – it was a warm scent, sharper than the
smell of the elk and more appealing. A few seconds more and I could hear the
muted padding of immense feet, so much subtler than the crunch of hooves. The
sound was up – in the branches rather than on the ground. Automatically I
darted into the boughs as well, gaining the strategic higher position, halfway up a
towering silver fir.
The soft thud of paws continued stealthily beneath me now; the rich scent was
very close. My eyes pinpointed the movement linked with the sound, and I saw
the tawny hide of the great cat slinking along the wide branch of a spruce just
down and to the left of my perch. He was big – easily four times my mass. His
eyes were intent on the ground beneath; the cat hunted, too. I caught the smell of
something smaller, bland next to the aroma of my prey, cowering in brush below
the tree. The lion's tail twitched spasmodically as he prepared to spring.
With a light bound, I sailed through the air and landed on the lion's branch. He
felt the shiver of the wood and whirled, shrieking surprise and defiance. He
clawed the space between us, his eyes bright with fury. Half-crazed with
thirst, I ignored the exposed fangs and the hooked claws and launched myself at
him, knocking us both to the forest floor.
It wasn't much of a fight.
His raking claws could have been caressing fingers for all the impact they had on
my skin. His teeth could find no purchase against my shoulder or my throat. His
weight was nothing. My teeth unerringly sought his throat, and his instinctive resistance
was pitifully feeble against my strength. My jaws locked easily over the
precise point where the heat flow concentrated.
It was effortless as biting into butter. My teeth were steel razors; they cut
through the fur and fat and sinews like they weren't there.
The flavor was wrong, but the blood was hot and wet and it soothed the ragged,
itching thirst as I drank in an eager rush. The cat's struggles grew more and more
feeble, and his screams choked off with a gurgle. The warmth of the blood radiated
throughout my whole body, heating even my fingertips and toes.
The lion was finished before I was. The thirst flared again when he ran dry, and I
shoved his carcass off my body in disgust. How could I still be thirsty after all
that?
I wrenched myself erect in one quick move. Standing, I realized I was a bit of a
mess. I wiped my face off on the back of my arm and tried to fix the dress. The
claws that had been so ineffectual against my skin had had more success with the
thin satin.
"Hmm," Edward said. I looked up to see him leaning casually against a tree
trunk, watching me with a thoughtful look on his face.
"I guess I could have done that better." I was covered in dirt, my hair knotted, my
dress bloodstained and hanging in tatters. Edward didn't come home from hunting
trips looking like this.
"You did perfectly fine," he assured me. "It's just that... it was much more difficult
for me to watch than it should have been."
I raised my eyebrows, confused.
"It goes against the grain," he explained, "letting you wrestle with lions. I was
having an anxiety attack the whole time."
"Silly."
"I know. Old habits die hard. I like the improvements to your dress, though."
If I could have blushed, I would have. I changed the subject. "Why am I still
thirsty?"
"Because you're young."
I sighed. "And I don't suppose there are any other mountain lions nearby."
"Plenty of deer, though."
I made a face. "They don't smell as good."
"Herbivores. The meat-eaters smell more like humans," he explained.
"Not that much like humans," I disagreed, trying not to remember.
"We could go back," he said solemnly, but there was a teasing light in his eye.
"Whoever it was out there, if they were men, they probably wouldn't even mind
death if you were the one delivering it." His gaze ran over my ravaged dress again.
"In fact, they would think they were already dead and gone to heaven the moment
they saw you."
I rolled my eyes and snorted. "Let's go hunt some stinking herbivores."
We found a large herd of mule deer as we ran back toward home. He hunted with
me this time, now that I'd gotten the hang of it. I brought down a large buck,
making nearly as much of a mess as I had with the lion. He'd finished with two
before I was done with the first, not a hair ruffled, not a spot on his white shirt.
We chased the scattered and terrified herd, but instead of feeding again, this time
I watched carefully to see how he was able to hunt so neatly.
All the times that I had wished that Edward would not have to leave me behind
when he hunted, I had secretly been just a little relieved. Because I was sure that
seeing this would be frightening. Horrifying. That seeing him hunt would finally
make him look like a vampire to me.
Of course, it was much different from this perspective, as a vampire myself. But I
doubted that even my human eyes would have missed the beauty here.
It was a surprisingly sensual experience to observe Edward hunting. His smooth
spring was like the sinuous strike of a snake; his hands were so sure, so strong, so
completely inescapable; his full lips were perfect as they parted gracefully over
his gleaming teeth. He was glorious. I felt a sudden jolt of both pride and desire.
He wasmine. Nothing could ever separate him from me now. I was too strong to
be torn from his side.
He was very quick. He turned to me and gazed curiously at my gloating expression.
"No longer thirsty?" he asked.
I shrugged. "You distracted me. You're much better at it than I am."
"Centuries of practice." He smiled. His eyes were a disconcertingly lovely shade
of honey gold now.
"Just one," I corrected him.
He laughed. "Are you done for today? Or did you want to continue?"
"Done, I think." I felt very full, sort of sloshy, even. I wasn't sure how much more
liquid would fit into my body. But the burn in my throat was only muted. Then
again, I'd known that thirst was just an inescapable part of this life.
And worth it.
I felt in control. Perhaps my sense of security was false, but I did feel pretty good
about not killing anyone today. If I could resist totally human strangers, wouldn't
I be able to handle the werewolf and a half-vampire child that I loved?
"I want to see Renesmee," I said. Now that my thirst was tamed (if nothing close
to erased), my earlier worries were hard to forget. I wanted to reconcile the
stranger who was my daughter with the creature I'd loved three days ago. It was
so odd, so wrong not to have her inside me still. Abruptly, I felt empty and uneasy.
He held out his hand to me. I took it, and his skin felt warmer than before. His
cheek was faintly flushed, the shadows under his eyes all but vanished.
I was unable to resist stroking his face again. And again.
I sort of forgot that I was waiting for a response to my request as I stared into his
shimmering gold eyes.
It was almost as hard as it had been to turn away from the scent of human blood,
but I somehow kept the need to be careful firmly in my head as I stretched up on
my toes and wrapped my arms around him. Gently.
He was not so hesitant in his movements; his arms locked around my waist and
pulled me tight against his body. His lips crushed down on mine, but they felt
soft. My lips no longer shaped themselves around his; they held their own.
Like before, it was as if the touch of his skin, his lips, his hands, was sinking right
through my smooth, hard skin and into my new bones. To the very core of my
body. I hadn't imagined that I could love him more than I had.
My old mind hadn't been capable of holding this much love. My old heart had
not been strong enough to bear it.
Maybe this was the part of me that I'd brought forward to be intensified in my
new life. Like Carlisle's compassion and Esme's devotion. I would probably never
be able to do anything interesting or special like Edward, Alice, and Jasper could
do. Maybe I would just love Edward more than anyone in the history of the world
had ever loved anyone else.
I could live with that.
I remembered parts of this – twisting my fingers in his hair, tracing the planes of
his chest – but other parts were so new. He was new. It was an entirely different
experience with Edward kissing me so fearlessly, so forcefully. I responded to his
intensity, and then suddenly we were falling.
"Oops," I said, and he laughed underneath me. "I didn't mean to tackle you like
that. Are you okay?"
He stroked my face. "Slightly better thanokay" And then a perplexed expression
crossed his face. "Renesmee?" he asked uncertainly, trying to ascertain what I
wanted most in this moment. A very difficult question to answer, because I
wanted so many things at the same time.
I could tell that he wasn't exactly averse to procrastinating our return trip, and it
was hard to think about much besides his skin on mine – there really wasn't that
much left of the dress. But my memory of Renesmee, before and after her birth,
was becoming more and more dreamlike to me. More unlikely. All my memories
of her were human memories; an aura of artificiality clung to them. Nothing
seemed real that I hadn't seen with these eyes, touched with these hands.
Every minute, the reality of that little stranger slipped further away.
"Renesmee," I agreed, rueful, and I whipped back up onto my feet, pulling him
with me.
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