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Chapter 14 Mind Over Matter

    He could drive well, when he kept the speed reasonable, I had to admit.

  Like so many things, it seemed to be effortless to him. He barely lookedat the road, yet the tires never deviated so much as a centimeter fromthe center of the lane. He drove one-handed, holding my hand on the seat.

  Sometimes he gazed into the setting sun, sometimes he glanced at me — myface, my hair blowing out the open window, our hands twined together.

  He had turned the radio to an oldies station, and he sang along with asong I'd never heard. He knew every line.

  "You like fifties music?" I asked.

  "Music in the fifties was good. Much better than the sixties, or theseventies, ugh!" He shuddered. "The eighties were bearable.""Are you ever going to tell me how old you are?" I asked, tentative, notwanting to upset his buoyant humor.

  "Does it matter much?" His smile, to my relief, remained unclouded.

  "No, but I still wonder…" I grimaced. "There's nothing like an unsolvedmystery to keep you up at night.""I wonder if it will upset you," he reflected to himself. He gazed intothe sun; the minutes passed.

  "Try me," I finally said.

  He sighed, and then looked into my eyes, seeming to forget the roadcompletely for a time. Whatever he saw there must have encouraged him. Helooked into the sun — the light of the setting orb glittered off his skinin ruby-tinged sparkles — and spoke.

  "I was born in Chicago in 1901." He paused and glanced at me from thecorner of his eyes. My face was carefully unsurprised, patient for therest. He smiled a tiny smile and continued. "Carlisle found me in ahospital in the summer of 1918. I was seventeen, and dying of the Spanishinfluenza."He heard my intake of breath, though it was barely audible to my ownears. He looked down into my eyes again.

  "I don't remember it well — it was a very long time ago, and humanmemories fade." He was lost in his thoughts for a short time before hewent on. "I do remember how it felt, when Carlisle saved me. It's not aneasy thing, not something you could forget.""Your parents?""They had already died from the disease. I was alone. That was why hechose me. In all the chaos of the epidemic, no one would ever realize Iwas gone.""How did he… save you?"A few seconds passed before he answered. He seemed to choose his wordscarefully.

  "It was difficult. Not many of us have the restraint necessary toaccomplish it. But Carlisle has always been the most humane, the mostcompassionate of us… I don't think you could find his equal throughoutall of history." He paused. "For me, it was merely very, very painful."I could tell from the set of his lips, he would say no more on thissubject. I suppressed my curiosity, though it was far from idle. Therewere many things I needed to think through on this particular issue,things that were only beginning to occur to me. No doubt his quick mind had already comprehended every aspect that eluded me.

  His soft voice interrupted my thoughts. "He acted from loneliness. That'susually the reason behind the choice. I was the first in Carlisle'sfamily, though he found Esme soon after. She fell from a cliff. Theybrought her straight to the hospital morgue, though, somehow, her heartwas still beating.""So you must be dying, then, to become…" We never said the word, and Icouldn't frame it now.

  "No, that's just Carlisle. He would never do that to someone who hadanother choice." The respect in his voice was profound whenever he spokeof his father figure. "It is easier he says, though," he continued, "ifthe blood is weak." He looked at the now-dark road, and I could feel thesubject closing again.

  "And Emmett and Rosalie?""Carlisle brought Rosalie to our family next. I didn't realize till muchlater that he was hoping she would be to me what Esme was to him — he wascareful with his thoughts around me." He rolled his eyes. "But she wasnever more than a sister. It was only two years later that she foundEmmett. She was hunting — we were in Appalachia at the time — and found abear about to finish him off. She carried him back to Carlisle, more thana hundred miles, afraid she wouldn't be able to do it herself. I'm onlybeginning to guess how difficult that journey was for her." He threw apointed glance in my direction, and raised our hands, still foldedtogether, to brush my cheek with the back of his hand.

  "But she made it," I encouraged, looking away from the unbearable beautyof his eyes.

  "Yes," he murmured. "She saw something in his face that made her strongenough. And they've been together ever since. Sometimes they liveseparately from us, as a married couple. But the younger we pretend tobe, the longer we can stay in any given place. Forks seemed perfect, sowe all enrolled in high school." He laughed. "I suppose we'll have to goto their wedding in a few years, again.""Alice and Jasper?""Alice and Jasper are two very rare creatures. They both developed aconscience, as we refer to it, with no outside guidance. Jasper belongedto another… family, a very different kind of family. He became depressed,and he wandered on his own. Alice found him. Like me, she has certaingifts above and beyond the norm for our kind.""Really?" I interrupted, fascinated. "But you said you were the only onewho could hear people's thoughts.""That's true. She knows other things. She sees things — things that mighthappen, things that are coming. But it's very subjective. The futureisn't set in stone. Things change."His jaw set when he said that, and his eyes darted to my face and away soquickly that I wasn't sure if I only imagined it.

  "What kinds of things does she see?""She saw Jasper and knew that he was looking for her before he knew ithimself. She saw Carlisle and our family, and they came together to findus. She's most sensitive to non-humans. She always sees, for example,when another group of our kind is coming near. And any threat they maypose.""Are there a lot of… your kind?" I was surprised. How many of them couldwalk among us undetected?

  "No, not many. But most won't settle in any one place. Only those likeus, who've given up hunting you people" — a sly glance in my direction —"can live together with humans for any length of time. We've only found one other family like ours, in a small village in Alaska. We livedtogether for a time, but there were so many of us that we became toonoticeable. Those of us who live… differently tend to band together.""And the others?""Nomads, for the most part. We've all lived that way at times. It getstedious, like anything else. But we run across the others now and then,because most of us prefer the North.""Why is that?"We were parked in front of my house now, and he'd turned off the truck.

  It was very quiet and dark; there was no moon. The porch light was off soI knew my father wasn't home yet.

  "Did you have your eyes open this afternoon?" he teased. "Do you think Icould walk down the street in the sunlight without causing trafficaccidents? There's a reason why we chose the Olympic Peninsula, one ofthe most sunless places in the world. It's nice to be able to go outsidein the day. You wouldn't believe how tired you can get of nighttime ineighty-odd years.""So that's where the legends came from?""Probably.""And Alice came from another family, like Jasper?""No, and that is a mystery. Alice doesn't remember her human life at all.

  And she doesn't know who created her. She awoke alone. Whoever made herwalked away, and none of us understand why, or how, he could. If shehadn't had that other sense, if she hadn't seen Jasper and Carlisle andknown that she would someday become one of us, she probably would haveturned into a total savage."There was so much to think through, so much I still wanted to ask. But,to my great embarrassment, my stomach growled. I'd been so intrigued, Ihadn't even noticed I was hungry. I realized now that I was ravenous.

  "I'm sorry, I'm keeping you from dinner.""I'm fine, really.""I've never spent much time around anyone who eats food. I forget.""I want to stay with you." It was easier to say in the darkness, knowingas I spoke how my voice would betray me, my hopeless addiction to him.

  "Can't I come in?" he asked.

  "Would you like to?" I couldn't picture it, this godlike creature sittingin my father's shabby kitchen chair.

  "Yes, if it's all right." I heard the door close quietly, and almostsimultaneously he was outside my door, opening it for me.

  "Very human," I complimented him.

  "It's definitely resurfacing."He walked beside me in the night, so quietly I had to peek at himconstantly to be sure he was still there. In the darkness he looked muchmore normal. Still pale, still dreamlike in his beauty, but no longer thefantastic sparkling creature of our sunlit afternoon.

  He reached the door ahead of me and opened it for me. I paused halfwaythrough the frame.

  "The door was unlocked?""No, I used the key from under the eave." I stepped inside, flicked on the porch light, and turned to look at himwith my eyebrows raised. I was sure I'd never used that key in front ofhim.

  "I was curious about you.""You spied on me?" But somehow I couldn't infuse my voice with the properoutrage. I was flattered.

  He was unrepentant. "What else is there to do at night?"I let it go for the moment and went down the hall to the kitchen. He wasthere before me, needing no guide. He sat in the very chair I'd tried topicture him in. His beauty lit up the kitchen. It was a moment before Icould look away.

  I concentrated on getting my dinner, taking last night's lasagna from thefridge, placing a square on a plate, heating it in the microwave. Itrevolved, filling the kitchen with the smell of tomatoes and oregano. Ididn't take my eyes from the plate of food as I spoke.

  "How often?" I asked casually.

  "Hmmm?" He sounded as if I had pulled him from some other train ofthought.

  I still didn't turn around. "How often did you come here?""I come here almost every night."I whirled, stunned. "Why?""You're interesting when you sleep." He spoke matter-of-factly. "Youtalk.""No!" I gasped, heat flooding my face all the way to my hairline. Igripped the kitchen counter for support. I knew I talked in my sleep, ofcourse; my mother teased me about it. I hadn't thought it was something Ineeded to worry about here, though.

  His expression shifted instantly to chagrin. "Are you very angry with me?""That depends!" I felt and sounded like I'd had the breath knocked out ofme.

  He waited.

  "On?" he urged.

  "What you heard!" I wailed.

  Instantly, silently, he was at my side, taking my hands carefully in his.

  "Don't be upset!" he pleaded. He dropped his face to the level of myeyes, holding my gaze. I was embarrassed. I tried to look away.

  "You miss your mother," he whispered. "You worry about her. And when itrains, the sound makes you restless. You used to talk about home a lot,but it's less often now. Once you said, 'It's too green.'" He laughedsoftly, hoping, I could see, not to offend me further.

  "Anything else?" I demanded.

  He knew what I was getting at. "You did say my name," he admitted.

  I sighed in defeat. "A lot?""How much do you mean by 'a lot,' exactly?""Oh no!" I hung my head.

   He pulled me against his chest, softly, naturally.

  "Don't be self-conscious," he whispered in my ear. "If I could dream atall, it would be about you. And I'm not ashamed of it."Then we both heard the sound of tires on the brick driveway, saw theheadlights flash through the front windows, down the hall to us. Istiffened in his arms.

  "Should your father know I'm here?" he asked.

  "I'm not sure…" I tried to think it through quickly.

  "Another time then…"And I was alone.

  "Edward!" I hissed.

  I heard a ghostly chuckle, then nothing else.

  My father's key turned in the door.

  "Bella?" he called. It had bothered me before; who else would it be?

  Suddenly he didn't seem so far off base.

  "In here." I hoped he couldn't hear the hysterical edge to my voice. Igrabbed my dinner from the microwave and sat at the table as he walkedin. His footsteps sounded so noisy after my day with Edward.

  "Can you get me some of that? I'm bushed." He stepped on the heels of hisboots to take them off, holding the back of Edward's chair for support.

  I took my food with me, scarfing it down as I got his dinner. It burnedmy tongue. I filled two glasses with milk while his lasagna was heating,and gulped mine to put out the fire. As I set the glass down, I noticedthe milk trembling and realized my hand was shaking. Charlie sat in thechair, and the contrast between him and its former occupant was comical.

  "Thanks," he said as I placed his food on the table.

  "How was your day?" I asked. The words were rushed; I was dying to escapeto my room.

  "Good. The fish were biting… how about you? Did you get everything donethat you wanted to?""Not really — it was too nice out to stay indoors." I took another bigbite.

  "It was a nice day," he agreed. What an understatement, I thought tomyself.

  Finished with the last bite of lasagna, I lifted my glass and chugged theremains of my milk.

  Charlie surprised me by being observant. "In a hurry?""Yeah, I'm tired. I'm going to bed early.""You look kinda keyed up," he noted. Why, oh why, did this have to be hisnight to pay attention?

  "Do I?" was all I could manage in response. I quickly scrubbed my dishesclean in the sink, and placed them upside down on a dish towel to dry.

  "It's Saturday," he mused.

  I didn't respond.

  "No plans tonight?" he asked suddenly.

   "No, Dad, I just want to get some sleep.""None of the boys in town your type, eh?" He was suspicious, but tryingto play it cool.

  "No, none of the boys have caught my eye yet." I was careful not toover-emphasize the word boys in my quest to be truthful with Charlie.

  "I thought maybe that Mike Newton… you said he was friendly.""He's Just a friend, Dad.""Well, you're too good for them all, anyway. Wait till you get to collegeto start looking." Every father's dream, that his daughter will be out ofthe house before the hormones kick in.

  "Sounds like a good idea to me," I agreed as I headed up the stairs.

  "'Night, honey," he called after me. No doubt he would be listeningcarefully all evening, waiting for me to try to sneak out.

  "See you in the morning, Dad." See you creeping into my room tonight atmidnight to check on me.

  I worked to make my tread sound slow and tired as I walked up the stairsto my room. I shut the door loud enough for him to hear, and thensprinted on my tiptoes to the window. I threw it open and leaned out intothe night. My eyes scanned the darkness, the impenetrable shadows of thetrees.

  "Edward?" I whispered, feeling completely idiotic.

  The quiet, laughing response came from behind me. "Yes?"I whirled, one hand flying to my throat in surprise.

  He lay, smiling hugely, across my bed, his hands behind his head, hisfeet dangling off the end, the picture of ease.

  "Oh!" I breathed, sinking unsteadily to the floor.

  "I'm sorry." He pressed his lips together, trying to hide his amusement.

  "Just give me a minute to restart my heart."He sat up slowly, so as not to startle me again. Then he leaned forwardand reached out with his long arms to pick me up, gripping the tops of myarms like I was a toddler. He sat me on the bed beside him.

  "Why don't you sit with me," he suggested, putting a cold hand on mine.

  "How's the heart?""You tell me — I'm sure you hear it better than I do."I felt his quiet laughter shake the bed.

  We sat there for a moment in silence, both listening to my heartbeatslow. I thought about having Edward in my room, with my father in thehouse.

  "Can I have a minute to be human?" I asked.

  "Certainly." He gestured with one hand that I should proceed.

  "Stay," I said, trying to look severe.

  "Yes, ma'am." And he made a show of becoming a statue on the edge of mybed.

  I hopped up, grabbing my pajamas from off the floor, my bag of toiletriesoff the desk. I left the light off and slipped out, closing the door.

   I could hear the sound from the TV rising up the stairs. I banged thebathroom door loudly, so Charlie wouldn't come up to bother me.

  I meant to hurry. I brushed my teeth fiercely, trying to be thorough andspeedy, removing all traces of lasagna. But the hot water of the showercouldn't be rushed. It unknotted the muscles in my back, calmed my pulse.

  The familiar smell of my shampoo made me feel like I might be the sameperson I had been this morning. I tried not to think of Edward, sittingin my room, waiting, because then I had to start all over with thecalming process. Finally, I couldn't delay anymore. I shut off the water,toweling hastily, rushing again. I pulled on my holey t-shirt and graysweatpants. Too late to regret not packing the Victoria's Secret silkpajamas my mother got me two birthdays ago, which still had the tags onthem in a drawer somewhere back home.

  I rubbed the towel through my hair again, and then yanked the brushthrough it quickly. I threw the towel in the hamper, flung my brush andtoothpaste into my bag. Then I dashed down the stairs so Charlie couldsee that I was in my pajamas, with wet hair.

  "'Night, Dad.""'Night, Bella." He did look startled by my appearance. Maybe that wouldkeep him from checking on me tonight.

  I took the stairs two at a time, trying to be quiet, and flew into myroom, closing the door tightly behind me.

  Edward hadn't moved a fraction of an inch, a carving of Adonis perched onmy faded quilt. I smiled, and his lips twitched, the statue coming tolife.

  His eyes appraised me, taking in the damp hair, the tattered shirt. Heraised one eyebrow. "Nice."I grimaced.

  "No, it looks good on you.""Thanks," I whispered. I went back to his side, sitting cross-leggedbeside him. I looked at the lines in the wooden floor.

  "What was all that for?""Charlie thinks I'm sneaking out.""Oh." He contemplated that. "Why?" As if he couldn't know Charlie's mindmuch more clearly than I could guess.

  "Apparently, I look a little overexcited."He lifted my chin, examining my face.

  "You look very warm, actually."He bent his face slowly to mine, laying his cool cheek against my skin. Iheld perfectly still.

  "Mmmmmm…" he breathed.

  It was very difficult, while he was touching me, to frame a coherentquestion. It took me a minute of scattered concentration to begin.

  "It seems to be… much easier for you, now, to be close to me.""Does it seem that way to you?" he murmured, his nose gliding to thecorner of my jaw. I felt his hand, lighter than a moth's wing, brushingmy damp hair back, so that his lips could touch the hollow beneath my ear.

  "Much, much easier," I said, trying to exhale.

  "Hmm." "So I was wondering…" I began again, but his fingers were slowly tracingmy collarbone, and I lost my train of thought.

  "Yes?" he breathed.

  "Why is that," my voice shook, embarrassing me, "do you think?"I felt the tremor of his breath on my neck as he laughed. "Mind overmatter."I pulled back; as I moved, he froze — and I could no longer hear thesound of his breathing.

  We stared cautiously at each other for a moment, and then, as hisclenched jaw gradually relaxed, his expression became puzzled.

  "Did I do something wrong?""No — the opposite. You're driving me crazy," I explained.

  He considered that briefly, and when he spoke, he sounded pleased.

  "Really?" A triumphant smile slowly lit his face.

  "Would you like a round of applause?" I asked sarcastically.

  He grinned.

  "I'm just pleasantly surprised," he clarified. "In the last hundred yearsor so," his voice was teasing, "I never imagined anything like this. Ididn't believe I would ever find someone I wanted to be with… in anotherway than my brothers and sisters. And then to find, even though it's allnew to me, that I'm good at it… at being with you…""You're good at everything," I pointed out.

  He shrugged, allowing that, and we both laughed in whispers.

  "But how can it be so easy now?" I pressed. "This afternoon…""It's not easy," he sighed. "But this afternoon, I was still… undecided.

  I am sorry about that, it was unforgivable for me to behave so.""Not unforgivable," I disagreed.

  "Thank you." He smiled. "You see," he continued, looking down now, "Iwasn't sure if I was strong enough…" He picked up one of my hands andpressed it lightly to his face. "And while there was still thatpossibility that I might be… overcome" — he breathed in the scent at mywrist — "I was… susceptible. Until I made up my mind that I was strongenough, that there was no possibility at all that I would… that I evercould…"I'd never seen him struggle so hard for words. It was so… human.

  "So there's no possibility now?""Mind over matter," he repeated, smiling, his teeth bright even in thedarkness.

  "Wow, that was easy," I said.

  He threw back his head and laughed, quietly as a whisper, but stillexuberantly.

  "Easy for you!" he amended, touching my nose with his fingertip.

  And then his face was abruptly serious.

  "I'm trying," he whispered, his voice pained. "If it gets to be… toomuch, I'm fairly sure I'll be able to leave." I scowled. I didn't like the talk of leaving.

  "And it will be harder tomorrow," he continued. "I've had the scent ofyou in my head all day, and I've grown amazingly desensitized. If I'maway from you for any length of time, I'll have to start over again. Notquite from scratch, though, I think.""Don't go away, then," I responded, unable to hide the longing in myvoice.

  "That suits me," he replied, his face relaxing into a gentle smile.

  "Bring on the shackles — I'm your prisoner." But his long hands formedmanacles around my wrists as he spoke. He laughed his quiet, musicallaugh. He'd laughed more tonight than I'd ever heard in all the time I'dspent with him.

  "You seem more… optimistic than usual," I observed. "I haven't seen youlike this before.""Isn't it supposed to be like this?" He smiled. "The glory of first love,and all that. It's incredible, isn't it, the difference between readingabout something, seeing it in the pictures, and experiencing it?""Very different," I agreed. "More forceful than I'd imagined.""For example" — his words flowed swiftly now, I had to concentrate tocatch it all — "the emotion of jealousy. I've read about it a hundredthousand times, seen actors portray it in a thousand different plays andmovies. I believed I understood that one pretty clearly. But it shockedme…" He grimaced. "Do you remember the day that Mike asked you to thedance?"I nodded, though I remembered that day for a different reason. "The dayyou started talking to me again.""I was surprised by the flare of resentment, almost fury, that I felt — Ididn't recognize what it was at first. I was even more aggravated thanusual that I couldn't know what you were thinking, why you refused him.

  Was it simply for your friend's sake? Was there someone else? I knew Ihad no right to care either way. I tried not to care.

  "And then the line started forming," he chuckled. I scowled in thedarkness.

  "I waited, unreasonably anxious to hear what you would say to them, towatch your expressions. I couldn't deny the relief I felt, watching theannoyance on your face. But I couldn't be sure.

  "That was the first night I came here. I wrestled all night, whilewatching you sleep, with the chasm between what I knew was right, moral,ethical, and what I wanted. I knew that if I continued to ignore you as Ishould, or if I left for a few years, till you were gone, that somedayyou would say yes to Mike, or someone like him. It made me angry.

  "And then," he whispered, "as you were sleeping, you said my name. Youspoke so clearly, at first I thought you'd woken. But you rolled overrestlessly and mumbled my name once more, and sighed. The feeling thatcoursed through me then was unnerving, staggering. And I knew I couldn'tignore you any longer." He was silent for a moment, probably listening tothe suddenly uneven pounding of my heart.

  "But jealousy… it's a strange thing. So much more powerful than I wouldhave thought. And irrational! Just now, when Charlie asked you about thatvile Mike Newton…" He shook his head angrily.

  "I should have known you'd be listening," I groaned.

  "Of course.""That made you feel jealous, though, really?""I'm new at this; you're resurrecting the human in me, and everything feels stronger because it's fresh.""But honestly," I teased, "for that to bother you, after I have to hearthat Rosalie — Rosalie, the incarnation of pure beauty, Rosalie — wasmeant for you. Emmett or no Emmett, how can I compete with that?""There's no competition." His teeth gleamed. He drew my trapped handsaround his back, holding me to his chest. I kept as still as I could,even breathing with caution.

  "I know there's no competition," I mumbled into his cold skin. "That'sthe problem.""Of course Rosalie is beautiful in her way, but even if she wasn't like asister to me, even if Emmett didn't belong with her, she could never haveone tenth, no, one hundredth of the attraction you hold for me." He wasserious now, thoughtful. "For almost ninety years I've walked among mykind, and yours… all the time thinking I was complete in myself, notrealizing what I was seeking. And not finding anything, because youweren't alive yet.""It hardly seems fair," I whispered, my face still resting on his chest,listening to his breath come and go. "I haven't had to wait at all. Whyshould I get off so easily?""You're right," he agreed with amusement. "I should make this harder foryou, definitely." He freed one of his hands, released my wrist, only togather it carefully into his other hand. He stroked my wet hair softly,from the top of my head to my waist. "You only have to risk your lifeevery second you spend with me, that's surely not much. You only have toturn your back on nature, on humanity… what's that worth?""Very little — I don't feel deprived of anything.""Not yet." And his voice was abruptly full of ancient grief.

  I tried to pull back, to look in his face, but his hand locked my wristsin an unbreakable hold.

  "What —" I started to ask, when his body became alert. I froze, but hesuddenly released my hands, and disappeared. I narrowly avoided fallingon my face.

  "Lie down!" he hissed. I couldn't tell where he spoke from in thedarkness.

  I rolled under my quilt, balling up on my side, the way I usually slept.

  I heard the door crack open, as Charlie peeked in to make sure I waswhere I was supposed to be. I breathed evenly, exaggerating the movement.

  A long minute passed. I listened, not sure if I'd heard the door close.

  Then Edward's cool arm was around me, under the covers, his lips at myear.

  "You are a terrible actress — I'd say that career path is out for you.""Darn it," I muttered. My heart was crashing in my chest.

  He hummed a melody I didn't recognize; it sounded like a lullaby.

  He paused. "Should I sing you to sleep?""Right," I laughed. "Like I could sleep with you here!""You do it all the time," he reminded me.

  "But I didn't know you were here," I replied icily.

  "So if you don't want to sleep…" he suggested, ignoring my tone. Mybreath caught.

  "If I don't want to sleep… ?" He chuckled. "What do you want to do then?"I couldn't answer at first.

  "I'm not sure," I finally said.

  "Tell me when you decide."I could feel his cool breath on my neck, feel his nose sliding along myjaw, inhaling.

  "I thought you were desensitized.""Just because I'm resisting the wine doesn't mean I can't appreciate thebouquet," he whispered. "You have a very floral smell, like lavender… orfreesia," he noted. "It's mouthwatering.""Yeah, it's an off day when I don't get somebody telling me how edible Ismell."He chuckled, and then sighed.

  "I've decided what I want to do," I told him. "I want to hear more aboutyou.""Ask me anything."I sifted through my questions for the most vital. "Why do you do it?" Isaid. "I still don't understand how you can work so hard to resist whatyou… are. Please don't misunderstand, of course I'm glad that you do. Ijust don't see why you would bother in the first place."He hesitated before answering. "That's a good question, and you are notthe first one to ask it. The others — the majority of our kind who arequite content with our lot — they, too, wonder at how we live. But yousee, just because we've been… dealt a certain hand… it doesn't mean thatwe can't choose to rise above — to conquer the boundaries of a destinythat none of us wanted. To try to retain whatever essential humanity wecan."I lay unmoving, locked in awed silence.

  "Did you fall asleep?" he whispered after a few minutes.

  "No.""Is that all you were curious about?"I rolled my eyes. "Not quite.""What else do you want to know?""Why can you read minds — why only you? And Alice, seeing the future… whydoes that happen?"I felt him shrug in the darkness. "We don't really know. Carlisle has atheory… he believes that we all bring something of our strongest humantraits with us into the next life, where they are intensified — like ourminds, and our senses. He thinks that I must have already been verysensitive to the thoughts of those around me. And that Alice had someprecognition, wherever she was.""What did he bring into the next life, and the others?""Carlisle brought his compassion. Esme brought her ability to lovepassionately. Emmett brought his strength, Rosalie her… tenacity. Or youcould call it pigheadedness." he chuckled. "Jasper is very interesting.

  He was quite charismatic in his first life, able to influence thosearound him to see things his way. Now he is able to manipulate theemotions of those around him — calm down a room of angry people, forexample, or excite a lethargic crowd, conversely. It's a very subtle gift."I considered the impossibilities he described, trying to take it in. Hewaited patiently while I thought.

  "So where did it all start? I mean, Carlisle changed you, and thensomeone must have changed him, and so on…""Well, where did you come from? Evolution? Creation? Couldn't we haveevolved in the same way as other species, predator and prey? Or, if youdon't believe that all this world could have just happened on its own,which is hard for me to accept myself, is it so hard to believe that thesame force that created the delicate angelfish with the shark, the babyseal and the killer whale, could create both our kinds together?""Let me get this straight — I'm the baby seal, right?""Right." He laughed, and something touched my hair — his lips?

  I wanted to turn toward him, to see if it was really his lips against myhair. But I had to be good; I didn't want to make this any harder for himthan it already was.

  "Are you ready to sleep?" he asked, interrupting the short silence. "Ordo you have any more questions?""Only a million or two.""We have tomorrow, and the next day, and the next…" he reminded me. Ismiled, euphoric at the thought.

  "Are you sure you won't vanish in the morning?" I wanted this to becertain. "You are mythical, after all.""I won't leave you." His voice had the seal of a promise in it.

  "One more, then, tonight…" And I blushed. The darkness was no help — I'msure he could feel the sudden warmth under my skin.

  "What is it?""No, forget it. I changed my mind.""Bella, you can ask me anything."I didn't answer, and he groaned.

  "I keep thinking it will get less frustrating, not hearing your thoughts.

  But it just gets worse and worse.""I'm glad you can't read my thoughts. It's bad enough that you eavesdropon my sleep-talking.""Please?" His voice was so persuasive, so impossible to resist.

  I shook my head.

  "If you don't tell me, I'll just assume it's something much worse than itis," he threatened darkly. "Please?" Again, that pleading voice.

  "Well," I began, glad that he couldn't see my face.

  "Yes?""You said that Rosalie and Emmett will get married soon… Is that…marriage… the same as it is for humans?"He laughed in earnest now, understanding. "Is that what you're gettingat?"I fidgeted, unable to answer.

   "Yes, I suppose it is much the same," he said. "I told you, most of thosehuman desires are there, just hidden behind more powerful desires.""Oh," was all I could say.

  "Was there a purpose behind your curiosity?""Well, I did wonder… about you and me… someday…"He was instantly serious, I could tell by the sudden stillness of hisbody. I froze, too, reacting automatically.

  "I don't think that… that… would be possible for us.""Because it would be too hard for you, if I were that… close?""That's certainly a problem. But that's not what I was thinking of. It'sjust that you are so soft, so fragile. I have to mind my actions everymoment that we're together so that I don't hurt you. I could kill youquite easily, Bella, simply by accident." His voice had become just asoft murmur. He moved his icy palm to rest it against my cheek. "If I wastoo hasty… if for one second I wasn't paying enough attention, I couldreach out, meaning to touch your face, and crush your skull by mistake.

  You don't realize how incredibly breakable you are. I can never, neverafford to lose any kind of control when I'm with you."He waited for me to respond, growing anxious when I didn't. "Are youscared?" he asked.

  I waited for a minute to answer, so the words would be true. "No. I'mfine."He seemed to deliberate for a moment. "I'm curious now, though," he said,his voice light again. "Have you ever… ?" He trailed off suggestively.

  "Of course not." I flushed. "I told you I've never felt like this aboutanyone before, not even close.""I know. It's just that I know other people's thoughts. I know love andlust don't always keep the same company.""They do for me. Now, anyway, that they exist for me at all," I sighed.

  "That's nice. We have that one thing in common, at least." He soundedsatisfied.

  "Your human instincts…" I began. He waited. "Well, do you find meattractive, in that way, at all?"He laughed and lightly rumpled my nearly dry hair.

  "I may not be a human, but I am a man," he assured me.

  I yawned involuntarily.

  "I've answered your questions, now you should sleep," he insisted.

  "I'm not sure if I can.""Do you want me to leave?""No!" I said too loudly.

  He laughed, and then began to hum that same, unfamiliar lullaby; thevoice of an archangel, soft in my ear.

  More tired than I realized, exhausted from the long day of mental andemotional stress like I'd never felt before, I drifted to sleep in hiscold arms.

第十四章 精神胜于物质

当他把速度保持在合理水平时,他确实可以开得很好,我不得不承认这一点。就像很多事情一样,这似乎对他来说毫不费力。他很少看路面,轮胎却从未偏离过小路的正中间,一公分也没有偏离过。他单手开着车,在座位上牵着我的手。有时候他会抬头看向正在落下的太阳,有时他会看着我——我的脸,我飘拂在敞开的车窗外的头发,我们交叠的手。

他打开了收音机,转到一个老歌电台,然后跟着一首我从未听过的歌唱了起来。他知道每一个节拍。

“你喜欢五十年代的音乐?”我问道。

“五十年代的音乐很棒。比六十年代的,或者七十年代的还要棒,唷!”他颤抖了一下。“八十年代的还能忍受。”

“你打算告诉我你多大了吗?”我试探性问道,不想打破他正在兴头上的幽默气氛。

“这很重要吗?”让我宽慰的是,他的笑容依然明朗。

“不,但我还是想知道……”我扮了个鬼脸。“没有什么能像一个未解之谜一样让你整夜睡不着觉。”

“我怀疑这是否会让你心烦。”他的回应更像是自言自语。他看着太阳,时间一分一秒地过去了。

“让我试试看。”我最终说道。

他叹息着,然后看向了我的眼睛,那一刻他似乎完全忘记了路况。不管他看见了什么,那一定鼓励了他。他看向太阳——那个正在落下的球体发出的光芒在他的肌肤上闪耀着,折射出略带深红色的微光——然后说话了。

“我出生在1901年的芝加哥。”他停下来,用眼角的余光瞥着我。我的脸上是小心翼翼的毫不惊讶的神情,我耐心地等待着下文。他淡淡一笑,然后继续说道。“1918年的夏天,卡莱尔在一家医院里发现了我。我才十七岁,正因为西班牙流感而濒临死亡。”

他听见了我倒抽一口冷气的声音,尽管这声音小得几乎只有我自己能听见。他低下头,再次看着我的眼睛。

“我记不太清了——那是很久以前的事了,而人类的记忆总在褪色。”他陷入了沉思,片刻之后,接着说道。“我确实还记得,卡莱尔救我时的感觉。那不是件容易的事,不是你轻易可以忘掉的事。”

“你的父母呢?”

“他们都已经在这场瘟疫中死去了。我成了孤儿。这就是为什么他选择了我。在瘟疫流行的一片混乱中,没人会注意到我不见了。”

“他是怎样……救你的?”

几分钟后,他才回答了我的问题。他似乎在谨慎地选择着字眼。

“这很困难。我们中没几个人有足够的自制力来做到这件事。但卡莱尔总是我们之中最人道的,最慈悲的那个……我不认为你能在整个人类历史中找到可与他相提并论的人。”他顿了顿。“但对我来说,整个过程都仅仅是非常,非常的痛苦。”

我能从他的口吻看出,他不会再说更多关于这个话题的内容了。我按捺住自己的好奇,尽管它远没有消停下来。对于这个特殊的问题我还有很多事情需要考虑,而这些事情才刚刚闯入我的脑海。毫无疑问,他敏捷的头脑已经理解了困扰着我的每一个方面。

他柔和的声音打断了我的思路:“他是出于寂寞才这样做的。这通常是他作出选择的原因。我是第一个加入卡莱尔的家族的,虽然不久以后他就发现了艾思梅。她从悬崖上跳了下来。人们径直把她送到了医院的太平间,虽然不知怎的,她的心脏还在跳动。”

“所以你必须处于濒死的状态,然后,才能变成……”我们从没说过这个词,我不知道该怎么描述它。

“不,这只是卡莱尔的做法。只要那人还有别的选择,他就绝不会这样做。”无论何时他提到他的父亲,他话语里的敬意总是那么的深厚。“不过,他说这样确实会更容易些。”他继续说道。“如果气血很虚的话。”他看着现在漆黑一片的路面,我能感觉到,这个话题又到此为止了。
“然后是艾美特和罗莎莉?”

“接着卡莱尔把罗莎莉带进了我们的家族。很久以后我才了解到,他希望她能和我在一起,就像艾思梅和他一样——他很小心,从不在我周围想这件事。”他转了转眼睛。“但对我来说,她只是一个妹妹。仅仅过了两年,她找到了艾美特。她正在狩猎——那时我们住在阿巴拉契亚山区——发现一只熊正要把他干掉。她背着他跑了一百多英里,回来找卡莱尔,她怕自己做不来这件事。我现在才想到,这段旅途对她来说是多么的不易。”他直率地瞥了一眼我的方向,然后拿起我们的手,依然紧握着,用他的手背轻抚着我的脸颊。

“但她做到了。”我鼓励着,别开脸不去看他那双美得无法承受的眼睛。

“是的,”他喃喃低语道。“她从他脸上看到了某种东西,这让她足够坚强。从那以后他们就在一起了。有时候他们不和我们一起住,就像一对结了婚的夫妇一样。但我们装得越年轻,我们就能在选中的地方待越久。福克斯很不错,所以我们都进了高中。”他大笑起来。“我猜再过几年我们又得参加他们的婚礼了。”

“爱丽丝和贾斯帕?”

“爱丽丝和贾斯帕是两个非常特别的个体。他们都在没有任何外界指导的情况下养成了我们所欣赏的那种道德心。贾斯帕属于另一个……家族,一个非常不一样的家族。他变得沮丧起来,于是开始独自流浪。爱丽丝发现了他。和我一样,她拥有着一种基于但又超越了我们个人特质的天赋。”

“真的?”我打断了他的话,有些着迷。“可你说过你是唯一一个能听到别人的思想的人。”

“那是事实。她通晓的是另一些事情。她能看见一些事——一些可能会发生的事物,一些正要到来的事物。但这非常地主观。未来并不是一成不变的。事物都是变化发展的。”(Things change。。。我无耻地盗用了马克思的名言。。。)

当他说到这里时,他的下巴一紧,他的眼睛飞快地瞥了一眼我的脸又移开了。这一切太快了,我不敢肯定是否是我自己想象出来的。

“她看见了什么样的事情。”

“她看见了贾斯帕,知道在他知道她的存在以前,他就在寻找着她了。她看到了卡莱尔和我们的家族,所以他们一起来找我们。她对非人为的事情最为敏感。她总在看着,例如,当另一伙我们的同类靠近时。还有任何他们可能带来的威胁。”

“有很多……你的同类吗?”我太吃惊了。有多少他们这样的人在我们中行走而不被察觉呢?

“不,不是很多。但大多数不会定居下来。只有那些和我们一样,放弃了猎食你们人类”——他羞愧地看了我一眼——“能多多少少和人类共居。我们只发现了一个像我们这样的家族,他们住在阿拉斯加的一个小村落里。我们一起住过一段时间,但我们这么多人住在一起太引人注目了。那些生活方式和我们……很不一样的同类倾向于联合起来。”

“另一些人是?”

“游牧者,大多数情况下是这样。我们有时候会这样生活。这样的生活很乏味,和别的事情一样。但我们时不时会碰见别的同类,因为我们中的大多数人更喜欢北方。”

“为什么会这样呢?”

现在我们把车停在了我家前,他已经把卡车的引擎关掉了。外面非常安静,非常黑,月亮没有出来。门廊的灯关着,所以我知道我爸爸还没到家。

“你今天下午没有睁开眼睛吗?”他揶揄道。“你认为我能在洒满阳光的街道上行走而不引发任何交通事故吗。这正是我们选择奥林匹亚半岛的缘故,这里几乎是世界上阳光最不充足的地方。在白天能够到外面去是件很棒的事。你不会相信,在这八十多年里你会多么地厌倦夜晚。”

“所以这就是那种传说的来源?”

“很有可能。”
“而爱丽丝来自另一个家族,就像贾斯帕一样?”

“不,这一切还是个谜。爱丽丝完全不记得她还是人类时的生活。她也不知道是谁创造了她。她独自醒来。转变她的人已经走了。我们都不能理解为什么,或者,他是怎么能做到的。如果不是她拥有第六感,如果她没有看到贾斯帕和卡莱尔,知道她终有一日将成为我们中的一员,她也许早就变成了一个彻底的未开化的原始人了。”

我有太多的事情要思考,还有很多的问题要问。但是,让我尴尬不已的是,我的胃咆哮起来。我太好奇了,甚至没有注意到自己饿了。现在我才意识到,我已经饿坏了。

“对不起,我一直没让你去吃晚餐。”

“我很好,真的。”

“我从没和需要吃东西的人一起度过这么长的时间。我忘了。”

“我只想和你待在一起。”在黑暗中这话更容易说出口。当我说的时候,我知道自己的声音会背叛我,把我绝望的迷恋向他表露无遗。

“我不能进去吗?”他问道。

“你愿意吗?”我根本想象不出这样的画面,这样宛如神祗的人物坐在我父亲那张破烂的餐椅上。

“是的,如果可以的话。”我听到他那边的门安静地关上了,而几乎就在同一时刻,他出现在了我这一侧的门外,为我打开门。

“很像人类。”我恭维他。

“这只是表面工夫。”

在这个夜晚,他静静地走在我身旁,他太安静了,以至于我不得不时不时偷看他,确认他还在那里。在黑暗中,他看起来更正常些。依然苍白,依然俊美得宛如梦境,但不再是我们的阳光灿烂的下午里,那个奇妙的闪闪发光的造物。

他比我先走到门前,然后替我开了门。我正要跨进门框里,却半路停住了。

“门没锁?”

“不,我用的是屋檐下的钥匙。”

我走进屋,打开门廊灯,然后转过身来扬起眉看着他。我很确定我从没在他面前用过那根钥匙。

“我对你很好奇。”

“你监视我?”但无论如何我都没法让自己的声音充满恰当的愤怒。我被过度奉承了。(他过奖了。)

他依然不知悔改。“夜里还能有别的事情可做吗?”

我暂时丢卡这个话题,穿过前厅走向厨房。他在我之前就到了那里,无需任何引导。他就坐在我在脑海里想象过的那张椅子里。他的俊美点亮了这间厨房。我花了一点时间才能把视线移开。

我集中精神准备自己的晚餐,从冰箱里拿出昨晚的意大利番茄汁宽面条,切下一方放在盘子里,微波炉加热。它旋转着,厨房里弥漫着番茄和洋葱的味道。当我说话的时候,我并没有把眼睛从那盘食物上移开。

“多久一次?”我若无其事地问道。

“呃嗯?”他听起来似乎在想别的事情,我的发问把他的思绪拉了回来。

我还是没有转身。“你多久来这里一次?”

“我几乎每天晚上都来这里。”

我大为震撼,急忙转过身来。“为什么?”

“你睡着的时候很有趣。”他实话实说。“你会说话。”

“不!”我喘着气说道,热血涌上了我的脸,一路冲到发际线上。我抓住流理台以稳住身子。我当然知道自己会说梦话,我母亲还为此取笑过我。但是,我从没想过这会是我需要担心的事情。

他的神情立刻变得苦恼起来。“你很生我的气吗?”

“那得看情况!”我感觉到,也能听到,我在大口大口地喘息着。(I’d had the breath knocked out of me.)

他等待着。

“基于?”他催促着。

“你听到了什么!”我哀号道。
一转眼,他已经悄无声息地站到我身旁,双手小心地握住我的手。

“别生气!”他恳求道。他俯下脸,和我的眼睛落在同一水平线上,对上了我的目光。我很窘迫,想要移开视线。

“你很思念你的母亲。”他耳语道。“你在担心她。下雨的时候,那声音总让你休息不好。你原来常在说家里的事,但现在少多了。有一次你说,‘这里太绿了。’”他温和地笑着,期待着——我能看出来——不致于太过冒犯我。

“没有别的了?”我诘问道。

他知道我说的是什么。“你确实说过我的名字。”他坦白道。

我挫败地叹息着。“经常?”

“更确切些,你的‘经常’是指多频繁?”

“哦不!”我垂下头。

他把我拉到他的胸前,动作是那么的温柔,那么的自然。

“别难为情,”他在我的耳畔低语着。“如果我能做梦,那一定都是关于你的梦。而且我也不会为此感到羞愧的。”

然后我们都听到了轮胎行走在砖砌的车道上的生气,看见了车灯从前窗里照进来,穿过前厅落到我们身上。我僵在了他的怀里。

“你父亲应该知道我在这里吗?”他问道。

“我不能肯定……”我试图迅速地思考这件事。

“那么下次吧……”

然后我又是独自一人了。

“爱德华!”我嘘声唤道。

我听到一声幽灵般的轻笑,然后什么也听不到了。

我父亲正在用钥匙开门。

“贝拉?”他喊道。这样的问话之前曾经让我困扰过,还能有谁呢?但忽然间他似乎没那么脱离现实了。

“在这里。”我希望他没听出我的声音里竭斯底里的味道。当他走进来的时候,我从微波炉里抓出我的晚餐,坐到了桌子旁。在我和爱德华度过了一整天以后,他的脚步声听起来格外嘈杂。

“能给我也弄一点宽面条吗?我太累了。”他站着把靴子脱下来,抓住爱德华的椅子以保持平衡。

我拿着盘子,一边给他弄晚餐,一边狼吞虎咽地把自己的面条吃完。我的舌头被烫到了。当他的面条在加热的时候,我倒了两杯牛奶,然后大口大口地喝着我那杯,好让那团火焰冷却下来。当我把杯子放下来的时候,我注意到杯里的牛奶在抖动,然后意识到自己的手正在颤抖。查理坐在那张椅子里,他和之前坐在那里的那人之间的对比很是滑稽。

“谢谢。”当我把食物放到桌子上的时候他说道。

“你今天过得怎么样?”我问道。这话说得太仓促了。我迫不及待地想要逃回我自己的房间。

“好极了。那些鱼都咬钩了……你呢?你把想做的事情都做完了吗?”

“没有——外面的天气太好了,待在屋里太可惜了。”我又咬了一大口宽面条。

“今天天气很好。”他赞同道。多么保守的描述,我自忖着。

吃完最后一口意大利面后,我拿起我的杯子,咕噜咕噜地喝完了剩下的牛奶。

查理正密切关注着我,他很惊讶。“你赶时间?”

“是的,我累了。我要早点上床睡觉。”

“你看上去有点兴奋。”他注意到了。为什么,哦为什么,他今晚就非得这么留心注意呢?

“有吗?”我想方设法也只能作出这样的答复。我飞快地把我的盘子在水槽里擦洗干净,然后用抹布把它们擦干。

“今天是星期六。”他若有所思地说道。

我没有回答。

“今晚没安排吗?”他忽然问道。

“不,爸爸,我只是想去睡觉。”

“镇里没有一个男孩是你喜欢的类型,嗯?”他很怀疑,但努力抑制住了自己的情绪。

“没有,还没有一个男孩能吸引我的眼球。”我小心地不去过分强调我的话里“男孩”那个词,以保持对查理的诚实态度。

“我以为也许迈克?牛顿……你说过他很友好。”

“他只是个朋友,爸爸。”

“好吧,无论如何你都太棒了,他们配不上你。等你上了大学再开始找吧。”每个父亲的梦想,就是自己的女儿会在荷尔蒙起作用以前离开家。
“听起来对我来说是个不错的主意。”我赞同道,冲上楼。

“晚安,甜心。”他在我身后喊道。毫无疑问,他整晚都会竖起耳朵听着,等着我偷偷溜出去。

“明早见,爸爸。”午夜你摸进我房间检查我时见。

当我走上楼梯去回房里时,我设法让自己的脚步声听起来缓慢又疲倦。我用力关上门好让他听见,然后踮起脚尖走到窗前。我打开窗户,侧着身子探进夜色里。我的眼睛在一片黑暗中搜寻着,搜索着那片深不可测的树阴。

“爱德华?”我低声喊着,觉得自己像个彻头彻尾的傻瓜。

一个安静的,暗笑着的回答从我背后传来。“怎么了?”

我急忙转过身来,惊讶地伸出手飞快地掩住了自己的喉头。

他横躺在我的床上,笑得很是开怀,他的手交叠在头后,他的脚在床边上晃悠着,一派怡然自得的画面。

“哦!”我喘息着说,有些不稳地跌坐在地板上。

“我很抱歉。”他闭上嘴,试图隐藏住他的快乐。

“给我一分钟,好让我的心脏重新启动。”

他慢慢地坐起来,以免再次吓到我。然后他向前侧过身来,伸出他长长的胳膊把我拉起来,紧握着我的肘弯,好像我还是个蹒跚学步的孩子。他让我坐到了床上,紧挨着他坐下。

“为什么你不和我一起坐,”他建议着,把一只冰冷的手放到了我的手上。“心脏怎么样?”

“你来告诉我——我相信你比我听得更清楚。”

我感觉到他安静的笑声让这张床震动起来。

我们沉默地坐了片刻,都在听着我的心跳放慢下来。我想到,爱德华在我的房间里,而我爸爸在家里。

“能给我一分钟当回人类吗?”我问道。

“当然。”他用一只手示意我继续。

“呆着别动。”我说道,试图摆出严厉的样子。

“遵命,夫人。”然后他坐在我的床边,夸张地表现出变成一尊雕像的样子。

我跳起来,从地板上抓起我的睡衣,从桌子上拿起我的洗漱包。我没开灯,冲出去关上了门。

我能听到楼梯下传来的电视声。我砰地一声用力关上了门,这样查理就不会上来烦我了。

我想要更快一些。我粗暴地刷着牙,试图做得既彻底又迅速,除掉所有意大利宽面条的痕迹。但喷头里的热水可不赶时间。热水纾解了我背上的肌肉,让我的脉搏镇定下来。我所熟悉的洗发水的味道让我感觉到自己还是今天早上的那个我。我试着不去想爱德华,他正坐在我房间里,等着我。因为那样的话,我又得把整个让自己冷静下来的步骤重来一遍。最终,我再也不能拖延了。我关掉水龙头,慌忙地裹上浴巾,又开始匆忙起来。我穿上那件有洞的T恤衫和一条灰色的运动裤。已经太迟了,我真后悔没带那套“维多利亚的秘密”牌丝绸睡衣,那是上上次生日时我母亲送给我的礼物,它们依然连标签都没拆,放在我家那边的衣橱的某个角落里。

我又开始用毛巾擦着头发,然后飞快地用发刷用力地梳着头发。我把毛巾扔进洗衣篮里,把发刷和牙膏扔进包里。然后我冲下楼梯,这样查理就能看见我已经穿着睡衣,头发湿漉漉的。

“晚安,爸爸。”

“晚安,贝拉。”他看上去确实被我的形象吓到了。也许这会让他今晚不再来检查我。

我一次迈过两级楼梯,试图让自己的脚步安静些,然后飞奔回房里,紧紧地关上身后的门。

爱德华甚至没有移动过零点一英寸,他看上去像坐在我褪色的被子上的一尊阿多尼斯雕像。我笑了起来,他的嘴唇扭曲着,这尊雕像复活了。
他的眼睛审视着我,看着湿漉漉的头发,破烂的恤衫。他扬起一侧眉毛。“不错。”

我扮了个鬼脸。

“不,看上去很适合你。”

“谢谢。”我耳语道。我走回他那边,盘着腿坐到他旁边。我看着木地板上的纹路。

“这一切是为什么呢?”

“查理认为我打算偷溜出去。”

“哦。”他冥思苦想着。“为什么?”就好像他不知道查理的想法,不了解得比我猜想的还有透彻一样。

“很显然,我看上去有点过度亢奋。”

他托起我的下颌,审视着我的脸。

“确实,你看上去非常温暖。”

他慢慢地把脸俯向我的脸,把他冰冷的脸颊贴在我的肌肤上。我定在那里,不敢动弹。

“嗯……”他喘息着说。(比接吻还暧昧的姿势啊。。。。)

当他触碰着我时,要构思出一个密切相关的问题实在是件很困难的事。我花了一分钟才把涣散的注意力集中起来,开口说话。

“这似乎……对你来说,靠近我,现在,变得容易些了。”

“对你来说也是吗?”他喃喃低语道,他的鼻子滑过我尖尖的下颌。我感觉到他的手,比飞蛾的翅膀还要轻柔地,把我湿漉漉的头发往后拨开,这样他的唇就能吻到我耳后的凹处。

“更,更容易了。”我说着,努力呼吸。

“呃嗯。”

“所以我想知道……”我又开始了,但他的手指缓慢地描过我的锁骨,我完全失去了思路。

“嗯?”他喘息着说道。

“那是为什么,”我的声音颤抖着,这让我很是窘迫。“你认为呢?”

当他大笑起来时,我感觉到他的呼吸在我的脖子上颤动着。“精神胜于物质。”

我把身子退回去,当我挪动时,他僵住了——然后我再也听不到他呼吸的声音了。

我们警惕地注视着彼此,片刻之后,他紧绷的下颌渐渐放松下来,他的神情变得困惑起来。

“我做错什么了吗?”

“不——恰好相反。你快要让我发狂了。”我解释道。

他简略地想了想,然后当他说话的时候,他听起来很愉悦。“真的?”一个胜利的微笑慢慢浮现在他脸上。

“你需要来点掌声吗?”我讽刺地问道。

他咧嘴一笑。

“我只是又惊又喜。”他澄清道。“在过去的差不多一百年里,”他的声音有些苦恼,“我从没想象过任何类似这样的事情。我不相信我能找到我想要在一起的那个人……以不同于我的兄弟姐妹们的方式。然后,我找到了(我发现了),尽管这一切对我来说是全新的,我却如此擅长于此……只要和你在一起……”

“你擅长所有的事。”我指出来。

他耸耸肩,对此表示默认,然后我们都低声地大笑起来。

“可这一切现在为什么会变得那么容易呢?”我强调道。“今天下午……”

“这并不容易,”他叹息着说。“但今天下午,我依然……犹豫不决。我对此很抱歉,我居然做出那样的事,实在是不可原谅。”

“并不是不可原谅的。”我不同意。

“谢谢。”他笑了起来。“你看,”他继续说着,却垂下了头。“我不能肯定我是否足够坚强……”他拿起我的一只手,轻轻地按在他脸上。“依然存在着这样的可能性,我可能会被……征服”——他深吸着我手腕上的味道——“我还是……很容易受影响。只有当我下定决心时,我才足够坚强。这样才不会有任何可能性,任何我会……我可能……”

我从没见过他这样艰难地挣扎着,选择着合适的词语。这一切是那么的……像人类。

“所以现在没有任何可能性咯?”

“精神胜于物质。”他重复道,笑了起来,他的皓齿即使在黑暗中依然是那么的明亮。

“哇噢,那就容易多了。”我说道。

他仰起头,大笑起来,安静地像在耳语,但依然生气勃勃。

“对你来说是容易!”他更正道,用指尖轻抚着我的鼻子。
然后他的脸忽然严峻起来。

“我在尝试。”他耳语道,他的声音充满了痛苦。“如果情况变得……太过头。我相当肯定我能够离开。”

我皱起眉。我不喜欢谈到离开。

“而明天这会变得更加艰难,”他继续说道。“今天一整天我的脑子里都是你的味道,我变得很不敏感了。如果我离开你一段时间的话,我又得从头开始了。不过,我想,至少不算是从零开始。”

“那就别离开。”我答道,无法藏起我声音里的渴望。

“这正合我意。”他回应道,他的脸放松下来,变成一个温柔的微笑。“戴上枷锁——我是你的囚徒。”但当他说着的时候,他长长的手臂环住了我的腰,形成了一个铁箍。他安静地笑起来,笑声有如天籁。他今晚笑得很多,比我和他在一起的所有时间里我所听到的还要多。

“你似乎……比平常更乐观了。”我评论道。“我之前从没见过你像这样。”

“不应该像这样吗?”他笑着说。“初恋的荣耀,还有所有的这一切。这简直难以置信,不是吗,经历过,与读到过,和在画里看到过,是如此的不一样?”

“非常不一样,”我赞同道。“比我想象过的还有强烈得多。”

“例如”——他说话变得迅速起来,我不得不集中精力去捕捉每一个字——“嫉妒的情绪。我读到过这种情绪千万次,在一千部不同的戏剧和电影里看过演员对此的演绎。我相信自己对此的理解非常透彻,但它却震撼了我……”他扮了个鬼脸。“你还记得迈克邀请你去舞会那天吗?”

我点了点头,不过我记得那一天却是出于一个完全不同的理由。“那天你又开始和我说话了。”

“我被那阵一闪而过,几近狂暴的愤怒惊呆了,我所感觉到的——起初我根本分辨不出这是什么样的情绪。我不知道你在想什么,这种挫败感比平时来得还要严重,因为我不知道你为什么拒绝他。仅仅是为了你的朋友的缘故吗?还是为了某个人?我知道我没有权利去关心这些方面。我努力不让自己去关心这些。”

“然后排队邀请你的队伍开始形成了。”他轻笑起来。我在黑暗中把脸绷起来。

“我等待着,焦虑不安得毫无理由地,想要听到你会对他们说什么,想要看见你的表情。我无法否认,当看到你脸上烦恼的神情时,我感到一阵宽慰。但我不能肯定。

那是我第一次晚上来这里。当我看着你的睡容时,我整夜都在挣扎着,在我知道是正确的,合乎道德的,合乎伦理的,和我想要



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