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Chapter 7 Nightmare

    I told Charlie I had a lot of homework to do, and that I didn't wantanything to eat. There was a basketball game on that he was excitedabout, though of course I had no idea what was special about it, so hewasn't aware of anything unusual in my face or tone.

  Once in my room, I locked the door. I dug through my desk until I foundmy old headphones, and I plugged them into my little CD player. I pickedup a CD that Phil had given to me for Christmas. It was one of hisfavorite bands, but they used a little too much bass and shrieking for mytastes. I popped it into place and lay down on my bed. I put on theheadphones, hit Play, and turned up the volume until it hurt my ears. Iclosed my eyes, but the light still intruded, so I added a pillow overthe top half of my face.

  I concentrated very carefully on the music, trying to understand thelyrics, to unravel the complicated drum patterns. By the third time I'dlistened through the CD, I knew all the words to the choruses, at least.

  I was surprised to find that I really did like the band after all, once Igot past the blaring noise. I'd have to thank Phil again.

  And it worked. The shattering beats made it impossible for me to think —which was the whole purpose of the exercise. I listened to the CD againand again, until I was singing along with all the songs, until, finally,I fell asleep.

  I opened my eyes to a familiar place. Aware in some corner of myconsciousness that I was dreaming, I recognized the green light of theforest. I could hear the waves crashing against the rocks somewherenearby. And I knew that if I found the ocean, I'd be able to see the sun.

  I was trying to follow the sound, but then Jacob Black was there, tuggingon my hand, pulling me back toward the blackest part of the forest.

  "Jacob? What's wrong?" I asked. His face was frightened as he yanked withall his strength against my resistance; I didn't want to go into the dark.

  "Run, Bella, you have to run!" he whispered, terrified.

  "This way, Bella!" I recognized Mike's voice calling out of the gloomyheart of the trees, but I couldn't see him.

  "Why?" I asked, still pulling against Jacob's grasp, desperate now tofind the sun.

   But Jacob let go of my hand and yelped, suddenly shaking, falling to thedim forest floor. He twitched on the ground as I watched in horror.

  "Jacob!" I screamed. But he was gone. In his place was a large red-brownwolf with black eyes. The wolf faced away from me, pointing toward theshore, the hair on the back of his shoulders bristling, low growlsissuing from between his exposed fangs.

  "Bella, run!" Mike cried out again from behind me. But I didn't turn. Iwas watching a light coming toward me from the beach.

  And then Edward stepped out from the trees, his skin faintly glowing, hiseyes black and dangerous. He held up one hand and beckoned me to come tohim. The wolf growled at my feet.

  I took a step forward, toward Edward. He smiled then, and his teeth weresharp, pointed.

  "Trust me," he purred.

  I took another step.

  The wolf launched himself across the space between me and the vampire,fangs aiming for the jugular.

  "No!" I screamed, wrenching upright out of my bed.

  My sudden movement caused the headphones to pull the CD player off thebedside table, and it clattered to the wooden floor.

  My light was still on, and I was sitting fully dressed on the bed, withmy shoes on. I glanced, disoriented, at the clock on my dresser. It wasfive-thirty in the morning.

  I groaned, fell back, and rolled over onto my face, kicking off my boots.

  I was too uncomfortable to get anywhere near sleep, though. I rolled backover and unbuttoned my jeans, yanking them off awkwardly as I tried tostay horizontal. I could feel the braid in my hair, an uncomfortableridge along the back of my skull. I turned onto my side and ripped therubber band out, quickly combing through the plaits with my fingers. Ipulled the pillow back over my eyes.

  It was all no use, of course. My subconscious had dredged up exactly theimages I'd been trying so desperately to avoid. I was going to have toface them now.

  I sat up, and my head spun for a minute as the blood flowed downward.

  First things first, I thought to myself, happy to put it off as long aspossible. I grabbed my bathroom bag.

  The shower didn't last nearly as long as I hoped it would, though. Eventaking the time to blow-dry my hair, I was soon out of things to do inthe bathroom. Wrapped in a towel, I crossed back to my room. I couldn'ttell if Charlie was still asleep, or if he had already left. I went tolook out my window, and the cruiser was gone. Fishing again.

  I dressed slowly in my most comfy sweats and then made my bed — somethingI never did. I couldn't put it off any longer. I went to my desk andswitched on my old computer.

  I hated using the Internet here. My modem was sadly outdated, my freeservice substandard; just dialing up took so long that I decided to goget myself a bowl of cereal while I waited.

  I ate slowly, chewing each bite with care. When I was done, I washed thebowl and spoon, dried them, and put them away. My feet dragged as Iclimbed the stairs. I went to my CD player first, picking it up off thefloor and placing it precisely in the center of the table. I pulled outthe headphones, and put them away in the desk drawer. Then I turned thesame CD on, turning it down to the point where it was background noise.

   With another sigh, I turned to my computer. Naturally, the screen wascovered in pop-up ads. I sat in my hard folding chair and began closingall the little windows. Eventually I made it to my favorite searchengine. I shot down a few more pop-ups and then typed in one word.

  Vampire.

  It took an infuriatingly long time, of course. When the results came up,there was a lot to sift through — everything from movies and TV shows torole-playing games, underground metal, and gothic cosmetic companies.

  Then I found a promising site — Vampires A—Z. I waited impatiently for itto load, quickly clicking closed each ad that flashed across the screen.

  Finally the screen was finished — simple white background with blacktext, academic-looking. Two quotes greeted me on the home page:

  Throughout the vast shadowy world of ghosts and demons there is no figureso terrible, no figure so dreaded and abhorred, yet dight with suchfearful fascination, as the vampire, who is himself neither ghost nordemon, but yet who partakes the dark natures and possesses the mysteriousand terrible qualities of both. — Rev. Montague SummersIf there is in this world a well-attested account, it is that of thevampires. Nothing is lacking: official reports, affidavits of well-knownpeople, of surgeons, of priests, of magistrates; the judicial proof ismost complete. And with all that, who is there who believes in vampires?

  — RousseauThe rest of the site was an alphabetized listing of all the differentmyths of vampires held throughout the world. The first I clicked on, theDanag, was a Filipino vampire supposedly responsible for planting taro onthe islands long ago. The myth continued that the Danag worked withhumans for many years, but the partnership ended one day when a woman cuther finger and a Danag sucked her wound, enjoying the taste so much thatit drained her body completely of blood.

  I read carefully through the descriptions, looking for anything thatsounded familiar, let alone plausible. It seemed that most vampire mythscentered around beautiful women as demons and children as victims; theyalso seemed like constructs created to explain away the high mortalityrates for young children, and to give men an excuse for infidelity. Manyof the stories involved bodiless spirits and warnings against improperburials. There wasn't much that sounded like the movies I'd seen, andonly a very few, like the Hebrew Estrie and the Polish Upier, who wereeven preoccupied with drinking blood.

  Only three entries really caught my attention: the Romanian Varacolaci, apowerful undead being who could appear as a beautiful, pale-skinnedhuman, the Slovak Nelapsi, a creature so strong and fast it couldmassacre an entire village in the single hour after midnight, and oneother, the Stregoni benefici.

  About this last there was only one brief sentence.

  Stregoni benefici: An Italian vampire, said to be on the side ofgoodness, and a mortal enemy of all evil vampires.

  It was a relief, that one small entry, the one myth among hundreds thatclaimed the existence of good vampires.

  Overall, though, there was little that coincided with Jacob's stories ormy own observations. I'd made a little catalogue in my mind as I'd readand carefully compared it with each myth. Speed, strength, beauty, paleskin, eyes that shift color; and then Jacob's criteria: blood drinkers,enemies of the werewolf, cold-skinned, and immortal. There were very fewmyths that matched even one factor.

   And then another problem, one that I'd remembered from the small numberof scary movies that I'd seen and was backed up by today's reading —vampires couldn't come out in the daytime, the sun would burn them to acinder. They slept in coffins all day and came out only at night.

  Aggravated, I snapped off the computer's main power switch, not waitingto shut things down properly. Through my irritation, I felt overwhelmingembarrassment. It was all so stupid. I was sitting in my room,researching vampires. What was wrong with me? I decided that most of theblame belonged on the doorstep of the town of Forks — and the entiresodden Olympic Peninsula, for that matter.

  I had to get out of the house, but there was nowhere I wanted to go thatdidn't involve a three-day drive. I pulled on my boots anyway, unclearwhere I was headed, and went downstairs. I shrugged into my raincoatwithout checking the weather and stomped out the door.

  It was overcast, but not raining yet. I ignored my truck and started easton foot, angling across Charlie's yard toward the ever-encroachingforest. It didn't take long till I was deep enough for the house and theroad to be invisible, for the only sound to be the squish of the dampearth under my feet and the sudden cries of the jays.

  There was a thin ribbon of a trail that led through the forest here, or Iwouldn't risk wandering on my own like this. My sense of direction washopeless; I could get lost in much less helpful surroundings. The trailwound deeper and deeper into the forest, mostly east as far as I couldtell. It snaked around the Sitka spruces and the hemlocks, the yews andthe maples. I only vaguely knew the names of the trees around me, and allI knew was due to Charlie pointing them out to me from the cruiser windowin earlier days. There were many I didn't know, and others I couldn't besure about because they were so covered in green parasites.

  I followed the trail as long as my anger at myself pushed me forward. Asthat started to ebb, I slowed. A few drops of moisture trickled down fromthe canopy above me, but I couldn't be certain if it was beginning torain or if it was simply pools left over from yesterday, held high in theleaves above me, slowly dripping their way back to the earth. A recentlyfallen tree — I knew it was recent because it wasn't entirely carpeted inmoss — rested against the trunk of one of her sisters, creating asheltered little bench just a few safe feet off the trail. I stepped overthe ferns and sat carefully, making sure my jacket was between the dampseat and my clothes wherever they touched, and leaned my hooded head backagainst the living tree.

  This was the wrong place to have come. I should have known, but whereelse was there to go? The forest was deep green and far too much like thescene in last night's dream to allow for peace of mind. Now that therewas no longer the sound of my soggy footsteps, the silence was piercing.

  The birds were quiet, too, the drops increasing in frequency, so it mustbe raining above. The ferns stood higher than my head, now that I wasseated, and I knew someone could walk by on the path, three feet away,and not see me.

  Here in the trees it was much easier to believe the absurdities thatembarrassed me indoors. Nothing had changed in this forest for thousandsof years, and all the myths and legends of a hundred different landsseemed much more likely in this green haze than they had in my clear-cutbedroom.

  I forced myself to focus on the two most vital questions I had to answer,but I did so unwillingly.

  First, I had to decide if it was possible that what Jacob had said aboutthe Cullens could be true.

  Immediately my mind responded with a resounding negative. It was sillyand morbid to entertain such ridiculous notions. But what, then? I askedmyself. There was no rational explanation for how I was alive at thismoment. I listed again in my head the things I'd observed myself: theimpossible speed and strength, the eye color shifting from black to gold and back again, the inhuman beauty, the pale, frigid skin. And more —small things that registered slowly — how they never seemed to eat, thedisturbing grace with which they moved. And the way besometimes spoke, with unfamiliar cadences and phrases that better fit thestyle of a turn-of-the-century novel than that of a twenty-first-centuryclassroom. He had skipped class the day we'd done blood typing. He hadn'tsaid no to the beach trip till he heard where we were going. He seemed toknow what everyone around him was thinking… except me. He had told me hewas the villain, dangerous…Could the Cullens be vampires?

  Well, they were something. Something outside the possibility of rationaljustification was taking place in front of my incredulous eyes. Whetherit be Jacob's cold ones or my own superhero theory, Edward Cullen wasnot… human. He was something more.

  So then — maybe. That would have to be my answer for now.

  And then the most important question of all. What was I going to do if itwas true?

  If Edward was a vampire — I could hardly make myself think the words —then what should I do? Involving someone else was definitely out. Icouldn't even believe myself; anyone I told would have me committed.

  Only two options seemed practical. The first was to take his advice: tobe smart, to avoid him as much as possible. To cancel our plans, to goback to ignoring him as far as I was able. To pretend there was animpenetrably thick glass wall between us in the one class where we wereforced together. To tell him to leave me alone — and mean it this time.

  I was gripped in a sudden agony of despair as I considered thatalternative. My mind rejected the pain, quickly skipping on to the nextoption.

  I could do nothing different. After all, if he was something… sinister,he'd done nothing to hurt me so far. In fact, I would be a dent inTyler's fender if he hadn't acted so quickly. So quickly, I argued withmyself, that it might have been sheer reflexes. But if it was a reflex tosave lives, how bad could he be? I retorted. My head spun around inanswerless circles.

  There was one thing I was sure of, if I was sure of anything. The darkEdward in my dream last night was a reflection only of my fear of theword Jacob had spoken, and not Edward himself. Even so, when I'd screamedout in terror at the werewolf's lunge, it wasn't fear for the wolf thatbrought the cry of "no" to my lips. It was fear that he would be harmed —even as he called to me with sharp-edged fangs, I feared for him.

  And I knew in that I had my answer. I didn't know if there ever was achoice, really. I was already in too deep. Now that I knew — if I knew —I could do nothing about my frightening secret. Because when I thought ofhim, of his voice, his hypnotic eyes, the magnetic force of hispersonality, I wanted nothing more than to be with him right now. Evenif… but I couldn't think it. Not here, alone in the darkening forest. Notwhile the rain made it dim as twilight under the canopy and pattered likefootsteps across the matted earthen floor. I shivered and rose quicklyfrom my place of concealment, worried that somehow the path would havedisappeared with the rain.

  But it was there, safe and clear, winding its way out of the drippinggreen maze. I followed it hastily, my hood pulled close around my face,becoming surprised, as I nearly ran through the trees, at how far I hadcome. I started to wonder if I was heading out at all, or following thepath farther into the confines of the forest. Before I could get toopanicky, though, I began to glimpse some open spaces through the webbedbranches. And then I could hear a car passing on the street, and I wasfree, Charlie's lawn stretched out in front of me, the house beckoningme, promising warmth and dry socks.

   It was just noon when I got back inside. I went upstairs and got dressedfor the day, jeans and a t-shirt, since I was staying indoors. It didn'ttake too much effort to concentrate on my task for the day, a paper onMacbeth that was due Wednesday. I settled into outlining a rough draftcontentedly, more serene than I'd felt since… well, since Thursdayafternoon, if I was being honest.

  That had always been my way, though. Making decisions was the painfulpart for me, the part I agonized over. But once the decision was made, Isimply followed through — usually with relief that the choice was made.

  Sometimes the relief was tainted by despair, like my decision to come toForks. But it was still better than wrestling with the alternatives.

  This decision was ridiculously easy to live with. Dangerously easy.

  And so the day was quiet, productive — I finished my paper before eight.

  Charlie came home with a large catch, and I made a mental note to pick upa book of recipes for fish while I was in Seattle next week. The chillsthat flashed up my spine whenever I thought of that trip were nodifferent than the ones I'd felt before I'd taken my walk with JacobBlack. They should be different, I thought. I should be afraid — I knew Ishould be, but I couldn't feel the right kind of fear.

  I slept dreamlessly that night, exhausted from beginning my day so early,and sleeping so poorly the night before. I woke, for the second timesince arriving in Forks, to the bright yellow light of a sunny day. Iskipped to the window, stunned to see that there was hardly a cloud inthe sky, and those there were just fleecy little white puffs thatcouldn't possibly be carrying any rain. I opened the window — surprisedwhen it opened silently, without sticking, not having opened it in whoknows how many years — and sucked in the relatively dry air. It wasnearly warm and hardly windy at all. My blood was electric in my veins.

  Charlie was finishing breakfast when I came downstairs, and he picked upon my mood immediately.

  "Nice day out," he commented.

  "Yes," I agreed with a grin.

  He smiled back, his brown eyes crinkling around the edges. When Charliesmiled, it was easier to see why he and my mother had jumped too quicklyinto an early marriage. Most of the young romantic he'd been in thosedays had faded before I'd known him, as the curly brown hair — the samecolor, if not the same texture, as mine — had dwindled, slowly revealingmore and more of the shiny skin of his forehead. But when he smiled Icould see a little of the man who had run away with Renée when she wasjust two years older than I was now.

  I ate breakfast cheerily, watching the dust moats stirring in thesunlight that streamed in the back window. Charlie called out a goodbye,and I heard the cruiser pull away from the house. I hesitated on my wayout the door, hand on my rain jacket. It would be tempting fate to leaveit home. With a sigh, I folded it over my arm and stepped out into thebrightest light I'd seen in months.

  By dint of much elbow grease, I was able to get both windows in the truckalmost completely rolled down. I was one of the first ones to school; Ihadn't even checked the clock in my hurry to get outside. I parked andheaded toward the seldom-used picnic benches on the south side of thecafeteria. The benches were still a little damp, so I sat on my jacket,glad to have a use for it. My homework was done — the product of a slowsocial life — but there were a few Trig problems I wasn't sure I hadright. I took out my book industriously, but halfway through recheckingthe first problem I was daydreaming, watching the sunlight play on thered-barked trees. I sketched inattentively along the margins of myhomework. After a few minutes, I suddenly realized I'd drawn five pairsof dark eyes staring out of the page at me. I scrubbed them out with theeraser.

  "Bella!" I heard someone call, and it sounded like Mike.

   I looked around to realize that the school had become populated while I'dbeen sitting there, absentminded. Everyone was in t-shirts, some even inshorts though the temperature couldn't be over sixty. Mike was comingtoward me in khaki shorts and a striped Rugby shirt, waving.

  "Hey, Mike," I called, waving back, unable to be halfhearted on a morninglike this.

  He came to sit by me, the tidy spikes of his hair shining golden in thelight, his grin stretching across his face. He was so delighted to seeme, I couldn't help but feel gratified.

  "I never noticed before — your hair has red in it," he commented,catching between his fingers a strand that was fluttering in the lightbreeze.

  "Only in the sun."I became just a little uncomfortable as he tucked the lock behind my ear.

  "Great day, isn't it?""My kind of day," I agreed.

  "What did you do yesterday?" His tone was just a bit too proprietary.

  "I mostly worked on my essay." I didn't add that I was finished with it —no need to sound smug.

  He hit his forehead with the heel of his hand. "Oh yeah — that's dueThursday, right?""Um, Wednesday, I think.""Wednesday?" He frowned. "That's not good… What are you writing yours on?""Whether Shakespeare's treatment of the female characters ismisogynistic."He stared at me like I'd just spoken in pig Latin.

  "I guess I'll have to get to work on that tonight," he said, deflated. "Iwas going to ask if you wanted to go out.""Oh." I was taken off guard. Why couldn't I ever have a pleasantconversation with Mike anymore without it getting awkward?

  "Well, we could go to dinner or something… and I could work on it later."He smiled at me hopefully.

  "Mike…" I hated being put on the spot. "I don't think that would be thebest idea."His face fell. "Why?" he asked, his eyes guarded. My thoughts flickeredto Edward, wondering if that's where his thoughts were as well.

  "I think… and if you ever repeat what I'm saying right now I willcheerfully beat you to death," I threatened, "but I think that would hurtJessica's feelings."He was bewildered, obviously not thinking in that direction at all.

  "Jessica?""Really, Mike, are you blind?""Oh," he exhaled — clearly dazed. I took advantage of that to make myescape.

  "It's time for class, and I can't be late again." I gathered my books upand stuffed them in my bag.

  We walked in silence to building three, and his expression was distracted. I hoped whatever thoughts he was immersed in were leading himin the right direction.

  When I saw Jessica in Trig, she was bubbling with enthusiasm. She,Angela, and Lauren were going to Port Angeles tonight to go dressshopping for the dance, and she wanted me to come, too, even though Ididn't need one. I was indecisive. It would be nice to get out of townwith some girlfriends, but Lauren would be there. And who knew what Icould be doing tonight… But that was definitely the wrong path to let mymind wander down. Of course I was happy about the sunlight. But thatwasn't completely responsible for the euphoric mood I was in, not evenclose.

  So I gave her a maybe, telling her I'd have to talk with Charlie first.

  She talked of nothing but the dance on the way to Spanish, continuing asif without an interruption when class finally ended, five minutes late,and we were on our way to lunch. I was far too lost in my own frenzy ofanticipation to notice much of what she said. I was painfully eager tosee not just him but all the Cullens — to compare them with the newsuspicions that plagued my mind. As I crossed the threshold of thecafeteria, I felt the first true tingle of fear slither down my spine andsettle in my stomach. Would they be able to know what I was thinking? Andthen a different feeling jolted through me — would Edward be waiting tosit with me again?

  As was my routine, I glanced first toward the Cullens' table. A shiver ofpanic trembled in my stomach as I realized it was empty. With dwindlinghope, my eyes scoured the rest of the cafeteria, hoping to find himalone, waiting for me. The place was nearly filled — Spanish had made uslate — but there was no sign of Edward or any of his family. Desolationhit me with crippling strength.

  I shambled along behind Jessica, not bothering to pretend to listenanymore.

  We were late enough that everyone was already at our table. I avoided theempty chair next to Mike in favor of one by Angela. I vaguely noticedthat Mike held the chair out politely for Jessica, and that her face litup in response.

  Angela asked a few quiet questions about the Macbeth paper, which Ianswered as naturally as I could while spiraling downward in misery. She,too, invited me to go with them tonight, and I agreed now, grasping atanything to distract myself.

  I realized I'd been holding on to a last shred of hope when I enteredBiology, saw his empty seat, and felt a new wave of disappointment.

  The rest of the day passed slowly, dismally. In Gym, we had a lecture onthe rules of badminton, the next torture they had lined up for me. But atleast it meant I got to sit and listen instead of stumbling around on thecourt. The best part was the coach didn't finish, so I got another dayoff tomorrow. Never mind that the day after they would arm me with aracket before unleashing me on the rest of the class.

  I was glad to leave campus, so I would be free to pout and mope before Iwent out tonight with Jessica and company. But right after I walked inthe door of Charlie's house, Jessica called to cancel our plans. I triedto be happy that Mike had asked her out to dinner — I really was relievedthat he finally seemed to be catching on — but my enthusiasm soundedfalse in my own ears. She rescheduled our shopping trip for tomorrownight.

  Which left me with little in the way of distractions. I had fishmarinating for dinner, with a salad and bread left over from the nightbefore, so there was nothing to do there. I spent a focused half hour onhomework, but then I was through with that, too. I checked my e-mail,reading the backlog of letters from my mother, getting snippier as theyprogressed to the present. I sighed and typed a quick response.

   Mom,Sorry. I've been out. I went to the beach with some friends. And I had towrite a paper.

  My excuses were fairly pathetic, so I gave up on that.

  It's sunny outside today - I know, I'm shocked, too - so I'm going to gooutside and soak up as much vitamin D as I can. I love you,Bella.

  I decided to kill an hour with non-school-related reading. I had a smallcollection of books that came with me to Forks, the shabbiest volumebeing a compilation of the works of Jane Austen. I selected that one andheaded to the backyard, grabbing a ragged old quilt from the linencupboard at the top of the stairs on my way down.

  Outside in Charlie's small, square yard, I folded the quilt in half andlaid it out of the reach of the trees' shadows on the thick lawn thatwould always be slightly wet, no matter how long the sun shone. I lay onmy stomach, crossing my ankles in the air, flipping through the differentnovels in the book, trying to decide which would occupy my mind the mostthoroughly. My favorites were Pride and Prejudice and Sense andSensibility. I'd read the first most recently, so I started into Senseand Sensibility, only to remember after I began three that the hero ofthe story happened to be named Edward. Angrily, I turned to MansfieldPark, but the hero of that piece was named Edmund, and that was just tooclose. Weren't there any other names available in the late eighteenthcentury? I snapped the book shut, annoyed, and rolled over onto my back.

  I pushed my sleeves up as high as they would go, and closed my eyes. Iwould think of nothing but the warmth on my skin, I told myself severely.

  The breeze was still light, but it blew tendrils of my hair around myface, and that tickled a bit. I pulled all my hair over my head, lettingit fan out on the quilt above me, and focused again on the heat thattouched my eyelids, my cheekbones, my nose, my lips, my forearms, myneck, soaked through my light shirt…The next thing I was conscious of was the sound of Charlie's cruiserturning onto the bricks of the driveway. I sat up in surprise, realizingthe light was gone, behind the trees, and I had fallen asleep. I lookedaround, muddled, with the sudden feeling that I wasn't alone.

  "Charlie?" I asked. But I could hear his door slamming in front of thehouse.

  I jumped up, foolishly edgy, gathering the now-damp quilt and my book. Iran inside to get some oil heating on the stove, realizing that dinnerwould be late. Charlie was hanging up his gun belt and stepping out ofhis boots when I came in.

  "Sorry, Dad, dinner's not ready yet — I fell asleep outside." I stifled ayawn.

  "Don't worry about it," he said. "I wanted to catch the score on thegame, anyway."I watched TV with Charlie after dinner, for something to do. There wasn'tanything on I wanted to watch, but he knew I didn't like baseball, so heturned it to some mindless sitcom that neither of us enjoyed. He seemedhappy, though, to be doing something together. And it felt good, despitemy depression, to make him happy.

  "Dad," I said during a commercial, "Jessica and Angela are going to lookat dresses for the dance tomorrow night in Port Angeles, and they wanted me to help them choose… do you mind if I go with them?""Jessica Stanley?" he asked.

  "And Angela Weber." I sighed as I gave him the details.

  He was confused. "But you're not going to the dance, right?""No, Dad, but I'm helping them find dresses — you know, giving themconstructive criticism." I wouldn't have to explain this to a woman.

  "Well, okay." He seemed to realize that he was out of his depth with thegirlie stuff. "It's a school night, though.""We'll leave right after school, so we can get back early. You'll be okayfor dinner, right?""Bells, I fed myself for seventeen years before you got here," hereminded me.

  "I don't know how you survived," I muttered, then added more clearly,"I'll leave some things for cold-cut sandwiches in the fridge, okay?

  Right on top."It was sunny again in the morning. I awakened with renewed hope that Igrimly tried to suppress. I dressed for the warmer weather in a deep blueV-neck blouse — something I'd worn in the dead of winter in Phoenix.

  I had planned my arrival at school so that I barely had time to make itto class. With a sinking heart, I circled the full lot looking for aspace, while also searching for the silver Volvo that was clearly notthere. I parked in the last row and hurried to English, arrivingbreathless, but subdued, before the final bell.

  It was the same as yesterday — I just couldn't keep little sprouts ofhope from budding in my mind, only to have them squashed painfully as Isearched the lunchroom in vain and sat at my empty Biology table.

  The Port Angeles scheme was back on again for tonight and made all themore attractive by the fact that Lauren had other obligations. I wasanxious to get out of town so I could stop glancing over my shoulder,hoping to see him appearing out of the blue the way he always did. Ivowed to myself that I would be in a good mood tonight and not ruinAngela's or Jessica's enjoyment in the dress hunting. Maybe I could do alittle clothes shopping as well. I refused to think that I might beshopping alone in Seattle this weekend, no longer interested in theearlier arrangement. Surely he wouldn't cancel without at least tellingme.

  After school, Jessica followed me home in her old white Mercury so that Icould ditch my books and truck. I brushed through my hair quickly when Iwas inside, feeling a slight lift of excitement as I contemplated gettingout of Forks. I left a note for Charlie on the table, explaining againwhere to find dinner, switched my scruffy wallet from my school bag to apurse I rarely used, and ran out to join Jessica. We went to Angela'shouse next, and she was waiting for us. My excitement increasedexponentially as we actually drove out of the town limits.

第七章 梦魇

我告诉查理我有很多作业要做,什么也不想吃。电视上正在直播一场让他情绪激昂的篮球赛——尽管理所当然地,我根本不知道精彩在那里。所以,他完全没有注意到我的表情或是语气有什么不对劲。

一进房间,我就把门锁上了。我在书桌里一阵乱翻,直到找到我的旧耳机为止。我把它们塞进了我的小随身听的插孔里,然后选了一张圣诞节时菲尔送给我的CD。这是他最喜欢的乐队之一,但就我的品味而言,他们歌里的低吼和尖叫用得有点太多了。我啪地一下把它放进随身听,然后躺倒在床上。我戴上耳机,按下播放键,把声音调大到让我的耳朵刺痛为止。我闭上眼睛,但还是觉得太亮了,于是我又加了一个枕头,压在脸上。(原文是脸的上半部。。。外国人好精确。。。)

我专心致志地听着歌,试图听懂那些歌词,弄懂那些复杂的鼓点和节拍。当我听着这张CD听第三遍的时候,至少,我已经知道合唱部分的所有歌词了。我惊奇地发现,当我忽略那些嘈杂的噪音时,我真的喜欢上这支乐队了。我得再次感谢菲尔。

这很有效。毁灭性的节拍让我没办法思考——这正是我要这样练习的所有意图。我一遍又一遍地听着这张CD,直到我能唱出里面所有的歌,直到,最后,我终于沉沉睡去。

我睁开了眼睛,发现自己在一个熟悉的地方。我的意识里的某些部分告诉我自己正在做梦。我认出了这座森林里的绿光。我能听到,在附近的某个地方,海浪正在撞击着岩礁。我知道,如果我能找到海,我就能看见太阳。我试图循声找去,但这时候,雅克布?布莱克出现了。他拽着我的手,拖着我向森林里最幽暗的地方走去。

“雅克布?怎么了?”我问道。他的脸上写满了恐惧,他拉着我,用尽全身的力气来制止我的反抗。我不想走进黑暗中。

“跑,贝拉,你得跑!”他恐惧地低声说道。

“这边,贝拉!”我认出了迈克的声音,那是从树林里黑暗的中心传来的。但我看不见他。

“为什么?”我问道,依然反抗着雅克布的紧握,渴望着去寻找太阳。

但雅克布放开了我的手,大叫着,忽然倒在了森林中灰扑扑的地面上。他躺在地上,抽搐着,我惊恐地看着他。

“雅克布!”我尖叫起来。但他不见了。在他的位置上出现了一只巨大的红棕色的狼,眼睛是黑色的。那只狼转过身去背对着我,冲着海岸的方向。他背上的毛发全都竖了起来,低低的嚎叫声从他露出的尖牙间传出来。

“贝拉,跑!”迈克又一次在我身后大声喊着。但我没有跑。我看见一道光从海滩那边向着我过来了。

然后,爱德华从树林中走出来。他的肌肤微微发着光,他的双眸漆黑而危险。他举起一只手,示意我到他那里去。狼在我的脚边咆哮着。

我向着爱德华的方向,向前迈了一步。于是他微笑起来,露出尖锐锋利的牙齿。

“相信我。”他愉快地低声说道。

我又踏了一步。

那匹狼让自己横亘在了我和吸血鬼之间的空地上,尖牙瞄准了他的颈动脉。

“不!”我尖叫着,猛地从床上弹起来。
我的忽然移动让耳机把随身听扯下了桌子,咔哒一声落到了地板上。

灯还开着,我和衣坐在床上,连鞋都没脱。我迷惑地张望着,看见了梳妆台上的时钟。现在是早上五点半。

我呻吟着,倒回床上,翻个身变成趴着的姿势,把靴子给踢掉了。但是,我太难受了,连睡觉的边缘都够不着(根本睡不着)。我又翻过身来,拉开牛仔裤的拉连,平躺着很不雅观地把裤子脱掉。我能感觉到我的发辫在脑袋后面拱成了一个很不舒服的小包。我转过头,把橡胶圈扯下来,用手指很快地梳了几下头发。我把枕头拉回来,压到我的眼睛上。

当然,一切都毫无作用。我的潜意识把我拼命想要忘掉的画面发掘出来。现在,我不得不面对它们了。

我坐起来,头晕目眩了一会儿,血液才开始向下涌动。重要的事先做,我自忖着,很高兴能把这件事尽可能地往后推。我抓起了我的洗漱包。

但是,沐浴并没有像我所希望的那样耗时间。尽管花了不少时间吹干头发,我还是很快把在浴室里能做的事都做完了。我裹上一块浴巾,走回我的房间。我说不准查理是还在睡呢,还是已经出去了。我走到窗前看出去,发现巡逻车已经开走了。又开始钓鱼了。

我慢慢地穿上自己最舒适的汗衫,(sweats。。。贝拉。。。你真的是老气横秋啊。。。)把床铺好——我很少这样做的。我再也不能把这事往后推了。我走到书桌前,打开了我的旧电脑。

我讨厌在这里上网。我的调制解调器相当过时了,我的免费上网服务完全在标准之下。光是拨号就得花上很长一段时间,所以在等待的时候,我决定先去给自己弄一碗麦片粥。

我吃得很慢,每一口都细细咀嚼。吃完以后,我把碗和勺子洗好,擦干,然后放回去。上楼时我故意磨磨蹭蹭地拖着步子走路。我先走向我的随身听,把它从地上捡起来,精确地放到桌子正中央。我把耳机拔下来,放回抽屉里。然后我把原来那张CD公放,把声音调低到刚刚好能成为背景音乐的那个点上。

我又叹了口气,这才转向我的电脑。自然,屏幕上全是弹窗广告。我坐到我那张硬邦邦的扶手椅上,开始把所有的小窗口关掉。最后,我打开了我最喜欢的搜索引擎。我又关掉了另外几个弹窗广告,然后键入了一个词。

吸血鬼。
当然,这花了简直让人气愤的相当长的时间。当结果出来的时候,还有很多内容需要进行筛选——那些内容从电影电视节目到角色扮演游戏,黑市金属,以及哥特妆伴游。(company也可能是公司。。。)

然后,我发现了一个看上去比较可信的网址——吸血鬼A-Z。我迫不及待地等着它打开页面,飞快地关闭屏幕上一闪而过的每个广告。最后,整个屏幕都清空了——简洁的白色背景和黑色标题,看上去很有学术氛围。主页上的两段引述首先映入了我的眼帘。

“自始至终,那个属于幽灵与恶魔的浩瀚的黑暗世界根本没有那么可怕,根本没有那么令人畏惧和憎恶,只是经过了太多充满恐惧的幻想的修饰。正如吸血鬼,他既不属于幽灵,也不属于恶魔,但还是带着几份着黑暗的本质,兼有着那两者的神秘与恐怖的特质。——蒙塔古?萨默斯”(《吸血鬼传奇》的作者,公认的吸血鬼研究专家)

“如果这个世界上有一份屡经证实的报告,那一定是关于吸血鬼的。没有任何东西能被遗漏掉:官方报道,知情者的口供,外科医生的证明,牧师的证词,法官的证言。所有司法上的证据都完备了。但是,即使知道这一切,有人会相信吸血鬼的存在吗?——卢梭”

余下部分是一张依字母表排列的清单,囊括了全世界所有关于吸血鬼的各种各样的传说。我首先点开了“丹拿”,这是一种菲律宾的吸血鬼,很多年以前是负责在岛上种植芋头的。这个传说里讲到,丹拿为人类工作了很多年,直到有一天,这样的合作关系却破裂了。一个女人不小心切到了手指,而一个丹拿为她吮吸伤口,因为觉得滋味太好了,最后它把她体内所有的血都喝干了。

我仔细地阅读这些描述,寻找任何听着觉得熟悉的内容,把那些说得天花乱坠的部分丢到一边。似乎大多数的吸血鬼传说都围绕着漂亮女人和小孩子展开,前者通常是恶魔,后者通常是受害者。它们似乎都是被捏造出来用来解释年幼的孩子居高不下的夭折率,或是给男人一个放纵的借口。许多故事包括了无形体的灵魂以及对不合乎礼法的葬礼的警告。没有多少听起来像是我看过的电影的内容,只有一小部分,像是希伯来的艾斯提瑞和波兰的乌皮尔,是一心吸血的吸血鬼。

(引用一下接力的注释:艾斯提瑞(Estrie),貌似吸血鬼的恶灵,喜欢小孩儿。乌皮尔(Upier),舌头上有尖刺,外形恐怖,嗜血如狂。就算正在熟睡,闻到血的味道也会立即从坟墓中跳出来。)

只有三个条目真正地吸引了我的注意力:罗马尼亚的维拉可拉斯,一个强大的不死生物,通常以俊美的、肌肤苍白的人类形态出现;斯洛伐克的耐拉斯,一种极其强壮,速度奇快的生物,午夜之后它能在一个小时之内屠杀掉整个村子的人;还有一个,斯特岗尼亚,有益的吸血鬼,关于最后这个吸血鬼的描述只有一个简短的句子。

斯特岗尼亚,有益的吸血鬼:一种意大利吸血鬼,据说是美德的保护者,是所有邪恶吸血鬼最致命的敌人。

这个短短的传说实在是一种宽慰,在上百条传说之中,这是仅有的宣称存在着有好的吸血鬼的一条。
但是,总的说来,这里没有太多内容和雅克布的故事或者我的观察结果有关。我一边看,一边在心里列了一份小小的列表,用来跟每条传说逐一对比。速度,强壮,美丽,苍白的肌肤,会变色的眼睛,还有雅克布的标准:饮血者,狼人的天敌,冰冷的肌肤,以及永恒的生命。没有多少传说能符合至少一个的因素。

还有另一个问题。我记得在我看过的寥寥无几的恐怖电影里提到过,再加上我今天所看的内容——吸血鬼不能在白天出没,阳光会把他们烧成灰烬的。白天他们都睡在棺材里面,只在夜里出来活动。

一气之下,我啪地一下关掉了电脑的电源,不想再干等着按部就班地关闭电脑。在怒火之外,我更感到了压倒性的窘迫。这一切都太愚蠢了。我居然坐在自己的房间里,搜索着吸血鬼。我到底是怎么了?我决定把大部分的指责归咎于福克斯镇的门槛——还有整个湿漉漉的奥林匹克半岛。

我迫切地想要离开这所房子,但任何我想去的地方都得开上三天的车才能到。无论如何,我还是穿上靴子,漫无目的地走下楼。我甚至没有看看天气,就直接套上了我的雨衣,重重地踏着步子走出门外。

天阴沉沉的,但没在下雨。我不去理会自己的卡车,徒步向东面走去,斜穿过查理的院子走向我此前从未涉足过的森林。没花多长时间我就走进了丛林深处,走到无论是从房子里还是从马路上都已经看不到的地方。唯一的声音是来自我脚下的湿土的吱嘎声,还有突如其来的松鸦的叫声。

一条窄窄的羊肠小道穿过密林延伸到这里,否则我不会冒着让自己迷路的风险走到这里来。我的方向感向来让人绝望:要是周遭有助于认路的信息再少一点,我就必定要迷路了。这条小径蜿蜒着伸向密林里更深处,就我所知,总体上是一路向东延伸。它曲折着绕过一棵棵西德加云杉和铁杉,一棵棵紫杉和枫木。我只是隐约知道自己周围的树的名字,而我知道的这一切都得归功于查理。更早些的时候,他曾在巡逻车里为我指出窗外这些树的名字。这里有许多我不认识的树,还有有一些树我没法确认,因为它们都覆盖在了密密麻麻的绿色藤蔓植物下。

我的怒气推着我往前走,于是我一直沿着小路走去。直到愤怒开始褪去,我才放慢了脚步。点点水滴从我头顶上的天穹潺潺而下,但我不能肯定是开始下雨了,还是纯粹是昨天雨后留在我头上高处的树叶丛中的积水,正在慢慢地滴落下来,完成它们归于尘土的旅程。一棵新倒伏下来的大树——我认为它很新是因为它还没有完全被苔藓覆盖住——斜倚在她的姐妹们的树干上,形成了一个掩蔽的小长椅,离小径只有安全的几英尺高。我踩过一片蕨类植物,小心地坐下来,确保我的夹克隔在了那个潮湿的座椅和相应的衣服之间。然后,我把戴着兜帽的头靠在那棵活着的树上。
我来错地方了,我应该早就知道的,但我还能去哪里呢?这个森林如此苍翠,太像昨晚的梦境了,我没法让自己的心绪保持宁静。既然这里已经不会再有我沉闷的脚步声了,这片沉寂就更加显得讽刺。鸟儿也安静下来了。滴水逐渐变得频繁起来,所以森林上空一定在下雨。那片蕨类植物高得比我还高,因为我是坐着的,所以我知道即使有人从三英尺外的小径上经过,也不会看见我的。(我又犯了个错误,之前的翻译应该是说那棵天然树椅离小路只有几英尺远,所以很安全,不会让贝拉迷路。)

我强迫自己把注意力集中在两个最重要的,我必须解决的问题上,但我实在很不情愿这样做。

首先,我必须作出判断,有没有这种可能,即雅克布所说的关于卡伦一家的事是真的。

我的心立刻作出了强烈的否定回答。用这么荒谬的想法来取乐既愚蠢又神经(痴线…)。但是,那又怎样呢?没有一个合理的解释能说明为什么此时此刻我还活着。我又一次在脑海中列出我自己观察到的东西:不可思议的速度和强壮,从黑色变成金色然后又变回来的眸色,超越常人的美丽,苍白冰冷的肌肤。还有更多——一件件小事慢慢地显露出来——譬如他们似乎从不吃东西,他们的举止优雅地惊人。还有有时候他们说话的方式,那种陌生的抑扬顿挫和遣词用句更适合于一本另一个世纪的小说的风格,而非二十一世纪的教室。我们检测血型那天他翘课了。他一直没说不去海滩之旅,直到他听到我们要去的地方。他似乎知道他周围的每个人都在想些什么……除了我。他告诉过我他是坏人,非常危险……

卡伦一家有可能是吸血鬼吗?

嗯,他们确实是某种东西。某种在合理判断的可能性之外的事情正在我明察秋毫的眼睛前发生着。不管是雅克布所说的冷族还是我自己的超级英雄论,爱德华?卡伦都不会是……人类。他是某种超越人类的存在。

那么——或许吧。这就是我现在能得出的结论。

另一个问题尤为重要。如果这是真的,我要怎么做?

如果爱德华真的是一个吸血鬼——我很难让自己去想这个词——我该怎么办?让别人牵连进来显然是不行的。我甚至不敢相信自己。不管我告诉谁,我都得承担相应的责任。

只有两个选项似乎比较有可行性。第一个是听取他的建议:聪明点,离他远远的。取消我们的计划,回到尽可能无视他的状态。当我们被迫坐在一起上课的时候,假装我们之间有一堵无法穿透的,厚厚的玻璃墙。告诉他离自己远点——而且这一次要表现出来。

当我思考着这个选择的时候,我忽然陷入了一种绝望的痛苦之中。我的心抗拒着这种痛苦,迅速跳到下一个选项。

我什么也不用做。毕竟,就算他是某种……危险的存在,至今他也没做什么伤害我的事。事实上,如果他的动作不是那么快的话,我本来会成为泰勒的挡泥板下的一道凹痕的。这么快,我和自己争论着,这绝对反映了一些问题。但如果这种反映是用来拯救生命的,他能有多坏?我反驳着。我的脑子徒劳无功地转着。

如果我能肯定什么事的话,有一件事情我很肯定。昨晚我梦里的那个黑暗的爱德华只是我对雅克布所说的话而产生的恐惧的表现,并非爱德华本人。虽然如此,当我因为狼人的进攻而惊恐地尖叫出声的时候,我也不是因为害怕狼而从嘴里喊出了“不”。我只是害怕着他可能会受伤——即使他露出锋利的尖牙呼唤着我,我也在为他担心着。
然后我知道,我已经得出答案了。我甚至不知道这里面是否真的有过一个抉择。我已经陷得太深了。我知道——如果我真的知道的话——对于我这个吓人的秘密,我什么也不会做的。因为每当我想起他,想起他的声音,他能够催眠的眼睛,他极具吸引力的个人魅力的时候,我只想立刻和他在一起,除此之外便别无所求了。即使……但我不能再想下去了。不能在这里,独自一人待在越来越黑的森林里想。不能在这个时候,不能在雨水让天边的暮色变得黯淡,滴滴答答的声音就像走过铺着瓷砖的地板的脚步声的时候想。我颤抖着,赶快从我的隐蔽之所站起来,担心着那条小路也许会消失在雨中。

但它仍在那里,安全又清晰,蜿蜒着穿过那片湿漉漉的绿色迷宫。我慌忙沿着小路走回去,我的兜帽拉得很低,垂在我的脸旁。我开始惊慌起来,几乎是跑着穿过树林,因为我觉得已经走了像来时那么远的距离了。我开始怀疑自己是不是已经冲过头了,又或者是沿着小路走到了森林里更远的地方。但在我变得更加惊慌失措以前,透过密密麻麻像蜘蛛网一样的树枝,我隐约能瞥见一些开阔地了。然后我听到了一辆车穿过街道的声音,我自由了。查理的草坪出现在我的面前,那所房子在召唤着我,许诺着温暖以及干燥的袜子。

我走回屋里的时候刚好是正午。我走上楼,换上这一天的装束——牛仔裤和T恤衫——因为我会一直待在家里。全力以赴解决今天的任务不会花上太多的工夫,只是一份周三截止的关于麦克白的论文而已。我心满意足地投入工作,罗列出了一份粗略的草稿。这份宁静的心境是我许久没有感受过的,自从……好吧,自从周四下午以后,如果我足够诚实的话。

不过,这通常是我的风格。做决定对我来说是一个痛苦的过程,一个让我饱受煎熬的过程。不过一旦我作出了决定,我就只会坚持到底——通常还会因为已经做出了选择而倍感宽慰。有时这种宽慰会被失望所破坏,正如我来福克斯的决定。但这仍比为作出选择而苦苦斟酌要好得多。

现在带着这个决定住下来要容易多了,荒谬可笑的容易。危机重重的容易。(梅尔实在是言简意赅字字珠玑。。。但我翻到几乎要吐血了。。。)

这一天就这样平静地过去了,而且效率很高——我在八点前就把论文写完了。查理到家的时候简直就是大丰收。我做了一个备忘录,提醒自己下周到西雅图去的时候记得买一本烹鱼食谱。无论何时我一想到这趟旅程,一阵寒意就会飞快地掠过我的脊柱。(不禁打了一个激灵)但这和我跟雅克布?布莱克散步以前所感到过的寒意没什么不同。我想,它们本来应该有所不同的。我本来应该觉得害怕——我知道我应该这样做的,但我确实感觉不到这种正确的恐惧感。

那天夜里我一夜无梦,睡得很好。因为那一天我起得太早,前一天晚上又睡得太少,耗尽了我的精力。这是我到福克斯以后的第二次,在一个晴朗的早上,在明黄色的光线中醒来。我跳到窗前,惊奇地发现天空里甚至没有半点云影,只有几片小小的羊毛般纯白蓬松的云彩,它们根本不可能带来任何雨水。我推开窗子,惊讶地发现当它打开的时候相当安静,完全没有卡住,一点儿也不像谁知道多少年没开过的样子。(从这里我们可以知道,Edward早就开始夜夜探香闺了。。。)我深吸了一口相对比较干爽的空气。外面很暖和,一丝风也没有。我的血液在血管里沸腾着。
当我下楼的时候,查理已经吃完早餐了,他立刻领会到了我的心情。

“适合外出的好天气。”他评价道。(Nice day out,在翻完无数的景色描写和心理活动以后,我对说话一向简洁的查理感激涕零。。。)

“是的。”我露齿一笑,赞同道。

他冲我一笑,棕色的眼睛弯成了两道弧线。当查理微笑的时候,很容易就能看出来为什么当初他和我妈会闪电般地早婚。那段日子里他曾有过的年轻人的浪漫,大部分在我记事以前就消失殆尽了。正如他卷曲的棕发——和我一样的颜色,即使质地有所不同——已经开始减少了,渐渐显露出越来越多的前额上发亮的肌肤。但当他微笑的时候,我依然可以看到那个和蕾妮一起私奔的男人的影子,那时候她只比我现在大两岁。

我兴高采烈地吃着早餐,看着点点纤尘在从后窗射入的阳光里轻舞飞扬。查理喊了一声再见,然后我听到了巡逻车开走的声音。出门的时候我拿着我的防水夹克,犹豫了一下。把它留在家里是个诱人却关乎命运的举措。我叹了口气,把它搭在手臂上,走进了数月以来我见过的最明媚的阳光里。

靠着肘部脂肪的力量,我终于能够把卡车里的每扇窗子都差不多完全摇了下来。我是第一个到学校的。我甚至没有看一眼时钟,就急急忙忙地出门了。我把车停好,径直走向自助餐厅南面的那些很少用到的野餐长凳。那些长凳还有点潮,所以我坐在了我的夹克上,为有机会用到它而高兴着。我的作业已经做完了——慢节奏社交生活的产物——但还有几道三角函数题我不能肯定自己做对了。我勤奋地拿出了书,但在检查第一道题的时候就中途停了下来,开始神游太虚,注视着在红色树皮的树顶上跃动着的阳光。我一时大意,在我的家庭作业的空白处画起速写来。几分钟以后,我才忽然注意到,自己画了五双黑色的眼睛,都在纸上盯着我看。我用橡皮擦把它们完全擦掉了。

“贝拉!”我听到某人在喊我,听起来像是迈克。

我抬起头看四周,这才发觉在我心不在焉地坐在这里的时候,学校里已经挤满了人。每个人都穿着T恤衫,有些人甚至还穿着短袖衫,尽管气温最多不超过六十华氏度。迈克向我走过来,一路挥着手,他穿着卡其色的短袖衫,套在一件条纹橄榄球衫外。

“嗨,迈克。”我喊着,向他挥手。我不能在这样一个早晨表现得毫无兴致。

他走过来坐到我身旁,梳得整整齐齐的头发在阳光里闪闪发亮。他张大嘴笑着。只是见到我就能让他这样高兴,我无法不感到满足。

“我之前从没注意到过——你的头发带着些红影。”他评价道,手指间抓着的一股细线在微风中轻轻摆动着。

“只在太阳下会这样。”

当他捋平我耳后的一缕头发时,我开始有些不安起来。

“好天气,不是吗?”

“我喜欢的天气。”我赞同道。

“你昨天都在做什么?”他的语气有点儿像是在过问自己的所有物的情况。(a bit too proprietary。。。)

“我几乎都在写我的论文。”我没有补充说我已经完成了——没有必然让自己显得是在炫耀。

他用手背拍了一下额头。“哦,是的——那是在周四截止,对吧?”

“呃,我想,应该是周三。”

“周三?”他皱起眉。“大事不妙……你的题目是什么?”

“莎士比亚对待女性角色的态度是否是厌恶女性的表现。”

他盯着我,就好像我刚刚在说隐语一样。(pig Latin。。。具体内容大家自己google一下吧,我就不再赘述了)

“我想我今晚就得着手写论文了。”他泄气地说道。“我本来还想问你愿不愿意出去逛逛呢。”

“哦。”我卸下了防备。为什么我每次跟迈克愉快的谈话都得以尴尬告终呢?

“嗯,我们可以一起吃晚餐,或者……我可以晚些再写论文。”他满怀希望地向我微笑着。

“迈克……”我不喜欢被置于这种处境。“我不认为这是一个好主意。”

他拉下脸来。“为什么?”他问道,眼里充满了警惕。我飞快地想起了爱德华,怀疑着这是否恰好也是他所想到的。

“我觉得……如果你敢立刻重复我所说的话,我会很乐意弄死你的。”我威胁道。“但我觉得这会伤害杰西卡的感情。”

他完全不知所措,显然根本没有往这方面想。“杰西卡?”

“真的,迈克,你是瞎子吗?”

“哦。”他轻呼道——显然还在迷惑着。我利用这一点,让自己脱身。

“上课的时间到了,我不能再迟到了。”我把书收起来,塞进包里。
我们沉默着向三号楼走去,他一脸的心烦意乱。我希望不管让他陷入沉思的内容是什么,最好都能把他领到正确的方向上去。

当我在三角函数课上看见杰西卡时,她正热切地说个不停。她,安吉拉还有劳伦准备今晚去天使港买舞会上穿的礼服,而且她希望我也去,尽管我并不需要买。我迟疑着。和几个小女友一起到镇外去是件好事,可劳伦也在。而且谁知道我今晚能做什么……但显然是那条错误的小路让我的心思徘徊不定的。当然,我喜欢阳光。但这并非是我心情愉快的全部原因,事实上,根本就不沾边。

所以我只给了她一个模棱两可的答复,告诉她我得先问问查理。

去上西班牙语课的时候,她一直滔滔不绝地说着舞会的事,无暇谈及其他,甚至直到上完课的时候都没停下来过。五分钟后,我们去吃午餐。我完全沉浸在自己疯狂的渴望之中,几乎没怎么注意到她说了什么。我痛苦地渴望着见到他,但不只是他,还有所有的卡伦家的孩子——把他们和折磨着我的头脑的猜疑一一对比。当我穿过自助餐厅的入口时,我第一次真切地感受到了一阵恐惧的刺痛滑过我的脊柱,落到我的胃里。他们能知道我在想什么吗?然后,另一种完全不同的感觉颠覆着我——爱德华会再次等着和我坐到一起吗?

如同例行公事一样,我第一眼便向卡伦家的桌子看去。当我意识到它是空的时,一阵恐惧的颤抖在我的胃里翻腾着。带着越来越渺茫的希望,我的眼睛搜索着自助餐厅的余下部分,希望能看见他独自坐着,等着我。到处都坐满了人——西班牙语课让我们来晚了——却没有任何爱德华或者他的某个家人的影子。一种无力的荒凉感袭击了我。

我蹒跚着走在杰西卡后面,不再费神假装在听她说话了。

我们来得太晚了,我们桌子上的人几乎都到齐了。我避开迈克旁边的那张空椅子,更青睐安吉拉旁边那张。我隐约留意到迈克彬彬有礼地为杰西卡拉开椅子,她的脸立刻容光焕发。

安吉拉安静地问了几个关于那篇《麦克白》的论文的问题,我尽可能答得正常些,尽管此时我正盘旋着落入绝望的深渊。她也邀请我今晚和她们一起去,而我立刻答应了,想要抓住任何能让我分心的事。

当我走进生物教室的时候,我意识到自己怀着最后一线希望。但在看到他空空的座位以后,新一轮的失望向我涌来。

这一天剩下的时间过得漫长又沉默。体育课上,我们要听羽毛球的规则讲演,这是排着队等着我的又一次煎熬。但至少,这意味着我可以坐下来听课,而不是在庭院里到处被绊到。最好的部分是教练没能讲完,所以明天我又将逃过一劫。在我从余下的课里解放出来以前,我根本不去在乎后天他们就要让我拿上球拍了。

我很高兴能离开学校,这样我就能在今晚陪着杰西卡出去以前自由自在地发脾气和意志消沉了。但正当我走进查理家大门的时候,杰西卡打电话来取消了我们的计划。我试图为迈克邀请她出去吃晚餐感到高兴——我确实为他最终明白过来而感到宽慰——但我热切的声音在我自己耳中显得很假。她把我们的购物之旅顺延到了明天晚上。
这就让我几乎没有了可以分心的事。我把鱼放进调味汁里腌好,又做了一个沙拉,再加上昨天晚上剩下的面包,晚餐就准备好了,再也没有什么事可做了。我花了半小时专心致志地写作业,但又把作业给写完了。我检查自己的电子邮件,看着积攒下来的我母亲发来的邮件,时间越靠后的语气越显暴躁。我叹了口气,打了一封简短的回复。

“妈妈,

抱歉。我出去了。我和几个朋友一起去了海滩。而且我还有一份论文要写。”

我的借口听起来相当地可悲,所以我放弃了,换成了下面这封。

“今天外面晴朗极了——我知道,我也很震惊——所以我打算到外面去,尽可能地多吸收一些维生素D。我爱你。

贝拉”

我决定用课外阅读来打发掉一个小时的时间。在我来福克斯的时候我随身带了一些藏书,其中最残破的那一册是简?奥斯丁的作品集。(英雄所见略同。。。)我挑出那本书,向后院走去,下楼的时候顺手从楼梯顶上的亚麻布衣橱里抓了一条破旧的褥子。

在查理小小的,四四方方的庭院里,我把那条褥子对叠了一下,把它放到树阴之外的草坪上。不管阳光照射多久,那块草坪永远都是微微湿润着的。我趴下来,把脚踝在空中交叠,飞快地浏览着书里的每一篇小时,试图决定哪一篇最能让我沉



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