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Chapter 15 The Cullens

    The muted light of yet another cloudy day eventually woke me. I lay withmy arm across my eyes, groggy and dazed. Something, a dream trying to beremembered, struggled to break into my consciousness. I moaned and rolledon my side, hoping more sleep would come. And then the previous dayflooded back into my awareness.

  "Oh!" I sat up so fast it made my head spin.

  "Your hair looks like a haystack… but I like it." His unruffled voicecame from the rocking chair in the corner.

  "Edward! You stayed!" I rejoiced, and thoughtlessly threw myself acrossthe room and into his lap. In the instant that my thoughts caught up withmy actions, I froze, shocked by my own uncontrolled enthusiasm. I staredup at him, afraid that I had crossed the wrong line.

  But he laughed.

  "Of course," he answered, startled, but seeming pleased by my reaction.

  His hands rubbed my back.

  I laid my head cautiously against his shoulder, breathing in the smell ofhis skin.

  "I was sure it was a dream.""You're not that creative," he scoffed.

  "Charlie!" I remembered, thoughtlessly jumping up again and heading tothe door.

  "He left an hour ago — after reattaching your battery cables, I mightadd. I have to admit I was disappointed. Is that really all it would taketo stop you, if you were determined to go?"I deliberated where I stood, wanting to return to him badly, but afraid Imight have morning breath.

  "You're not usually this confused in the morning," he noted. He held hisarms open for me to return. A nearly irresistible invitation.

  "I need another human minute," I admitted.

  "I'll wait."I skipped to the bathroom, my emotions unrecognizable. I didn't knowmyself, inside or out. The face in the mirror was practically a stranger— eyes too bright, hectic spots of red across my cheekbones. After Ibrushed my teeth, I worked to straighten out the tangled chaos that wasmy hair. I splashed my face with cold water, and tried to breathenormally, with no noticeable success. I half-ran back to my room.

  It seemed like a miracle that he was there, his arms still waiting forme. He reached out to me, and my heart thumped unsteadily.

  "Welcome back," he murmured, taking me into his arms.

  He rocked me for a while in silence, until I noticed that his clotheswere changed, his hair smooth.

  "You left?" I accused, touching the collar of his fresh shirt.

  "I could hardly leave in the clothes I came in — what would the neighborsthink?" I pouted.

  "You were very deeply asleep; I didn't miss anything." His eyes gleamed.

  "The talking came earlier."I groaned. "What did you hear?"His gold eyes grew very soft. "You said you loved me.""You knew that already," I reminded him, ducking my head.

  "It was nice to hear, just the same."I hid my face against his shoulder.

  "I love you," I whispered.

  "You are my life now," he answered simply.

  There was nothing more to say for the moment. He rocked us back and forthas the room grew lighter.

  "Breakfast time," he said eventually, casually — to prove, I'm sure, thathe remembered all my human frailties.

  So I clutched my throat with both hands and stared at him with wide eyes.

  Shock crossed his face.

  "Kidding!" I snickered. "And you said I couldn't act!"He frowned in disgust. "That wasn't funny.""It was very funny, and you know it." But I examined his gold eyescarefully, to make sure that I was forgiven. Apparently, I was.

  "Shall I rephrase?" he asked. "Breakfast time for the human.""Oh, okay."He threw me over his stone shoulder, gently, but with a swiftness thatleft me breathless. I protested as he carried me easily down the stairs,but he ignored me. He sat me right side up on a chair.

  The kitchen was bright, happy, seeming to absorb my mood.

  "What's for breakfast?" I asked pleasantly.

  That threw him for a minute.

  "Er, I'm not sure. What would you like?" His marble brow puckered.

  I grinned, hopping up.

  "That's all right, I fend for myself pretty well. Watch me hunt."I found a bowl and a box of cereal. I could feel his eyes on me as Ipoured the milk and grabbed a spoon. I sat my food on the table, and thenpaused.

  "Can I get you anything?" I asked, not wanting to be rude.

  He rolled his eyes. "Just eat, Bella."I sat at the table, watching him as I took a bite. He was gazing at me,studying my every movement. It made me self-conscious. I cleared my mouthto speak, to distract him.

  "What's on the agenda for today?" I asked.

  "Hmmm…" I watched him frame his answer carefully. "What would you say tomeeting my family?" I gulped.

  "Are you afraid now?" He sounded hopeful.

  "Yes," I admitted; how could I deny it — he could see my eyes.

  "Don't worry." He smirked. "I'll protect you.""I'm not afraid of them," I explained. "I'm afraid they won't… like me.

  Won't they be, well, surprised that you would bring someone… like me…home to meet them? Do they know that I know about them?""Oh, they already know everything. They'd taken bets yesterday, you know"— he smiled, but his voice was harsh — "on whether I'd bring you back,though why anyone would bet against Alice, I can't imagine. At any rate,we don't have secrets in the family. It's not really feasible, what withmy mind reading and Alice seeing the future and all that.""And Jasper making you feel all warm and fuzzy about spilling your guts,don't forget that.""You paid attention," he smiled approvingly.

  "I've been known to do that every now and then." I grimaced. "So didAlice see me coming?"His reaction was strange. "Something like that," he said uncomfortably,turning away so I couldn't see his eyes. I stared at him curiously.

  "Is that any good?" he asked, turning back to me abruptly and eyeing mybreakfast with a teasing look on his face. "Honestly, it doesn't lookvery appetizing.""Well, it's no irritable grizzly…" I murmured, ignoring him when heglowered. I was still wondering why he responded that way when Imentioned Alice. I hurried through my cereal, speculating.

  He stood in the middle of the kitchen, the statue of Adonis again,staring abstractedly out the back windows.

  Then his eyes were back on me, and he smiled his heartbreaking smile.

  "And you should introduce me to your father, too, I think.""He already knows you," I reminded him.

  "As your boyfriend, I mean."I stared at him with suspicion. "Why?""Isn't that customary?" he asked innocently.

  "I don't know," I admitted. My dating history gave me few referencepoints to work with. Not that any normal rules of dating applied here.

  "That's not necessary, you know. I don't expect you to… I mean, you don'thave to pretend for me."His smile was patient. "I'm not pretending."I pushed the remains of my cereal around the edges of the bowl, biting mylip.

  "Are you going to tell Charlie I'm your boyfriend or not?" he demanded.

  "Is that what you are?" I suppressed my internal cringing at the thoughtof Edward and Charlie and the word boy friend all in the same room at thesame time.

  "It's a loose interpretation of the word 'boy,' I'll admit.""I was under the impression that you were something more, actually," Iconfessed, looking at the table.

   "Well, I don't know if we need to give him all the gory details." Hereached across the table to lift my chin with a cold, gentle finger. "Buthe will need some explanation for why I'm around here so much. I don'twant Chief Swan getting a restraining order put on me.""Will you be?" I asked, suddenly anxious. "Will you really be here?""As long as you want me," he assured me.

  "I'll always want you," I warned him. "Forever."He walked slowly around the table, and, pausing a few feet away, hereached out to touch his fingertips to my cheek. His expression wasunfathomable.

  "Does that make you sad?" I asked.

  He didn't answer. He stared into my eyes for an immeasurable period oftime.

  "Are you finished?" he finally asked.

  I jumped up. "Yes.""Get dressed — I'll wait here."It was hard to decide what to wear. I doubted there were any etiquettebooks detailing how to dress when your vampire sweetheart takes you hometo meet his vampire family. It was a relief to think the word to myself.

  I knew I shied away from it intentionally.

  I ended up in my only skirt — long, khaki-colored, still casual. I put onthe dark blue blouse he'd once complimented. A quick glance in the mirrortold me my hair was entirely impossible, so I pulled it back into a ponytail.

  "Okay." I bounced down the stairs. "I'm decent."He was waiting at the foot of the stairs, closer than I'd thought, and Ibounded right into him. He steadied me, holding me a careful distanceaway for a few seconds before suddenly pulling me closer.

  "Wrong again," he murmured in my ear. "You are utterly indecent — no oneshould look so tempting, it's not fair.""Tempting how?" I asked. "I can change…"He sighed, shaking his head. "You are so absurd." He pressed his coollips delicately to my forehead, and the room spun. The smell of hisbreath made it impossible to think.

  "Shall I explain how you are tempting me?" he said. It was clearly arhetorical question. His fingers traced slowly down my spine, his breathcoming more quickly against my skin. My hands were limp on his chest, andI felt lightheaded again. He tilted his head slowly and touched his coollips to mine for the second time, very carefully, parting them slightly.

  And then I collapsed.

  "Bella?" His voice was alarmed as he caught me and held me up.

  "You… made… me… faint," I accused him dizzily.

  "What am I going to do with you?" he groaned in exasperation. "YesterdayI kiss you, and you attack me! Today you pass out on me!"I laughed weakly, letting his arms support me while my head spun.

  "So much for being good at everything," he sighed.

  "That's the problem." I was still dizzy. "You're too good. Far, far too good.""Do you feel sick?" he asked; he'd seen me like this before.

  "No — that wasn't the same kind of fainting at all. I don't know whathappened." I shook my head apologeticallv, "I think I forgot to breathe.""I can't take you anywhere like this.""I'm fine," I insisted. "Your family is going to think I'm insane anyway,what's the difference?"He measured my expression for a moment. "I'm very partial to that colorwith your skin," he offered unexpectedly. I flushed with pleasure, andlooked away.

  "Look, I'm trying really hard not to think about what I'm about to do, socan we go already?" I asked.

  "And you're worried, not because you're headed to meet a houseful ofvampires, but because you think those vampires won't approve of you,correct?""That's right," I answered immediately, hiding my surprise at his casualuse of the word.

  He shook his head. "You're incredible."I realized, as he drove my truck out of the main part of town, that I hadno idea where he lived. We passed over the bridge at the Calawah River,the road winding northward, the houses flashing past us growing fartherapart, getting bigger. And then we were past the other houses altogether,driving through misty forest. I was trying to decide whether to ask or bepatient, when he turned abruptly onto an unpaved road. It was unmarked,barely visible among the ferns. The forest encroached on both sides,leaving the road ahead only discernible for a few meters as it twisted,serpentlike, around the ancient trees.

  And then, after a few miles, there was some thinning of the woods, and wewere suddenly in a small meadow, or was it actually a lawn? The gloom ofthe forest didn't relent, though, for there were six primordial cedarsthat shaded an entire acre with their vast sweep of branches. The treesheld their protecting shadow right up to the walls of the house that roseamong them, making obsolete the deep porch that wrapped around the firststory.

  I don't know what I had expected, but it definitely wasn't this. Thehouse was timeless, graceful, and probably a hundred years old. It waspainted a soft, faded white, three stories tall, rectangular and wellproportioned. The windows and doors were either part of the originalstructure or a perfect restoration. My truck was the only car in sight. Icould hear the river close by, hidden in the obscurity of the forest.

  "Wow.""You like it?" He smiled.

  "It… has a certain charm."He pulled the end of my ponytail and chuckled.

  "Ready?" he asked, opening my door.

  "Not even a little bit — let's go." I tried to laugh, but it seemed toget stuck in my throat. I smoothed my hair nervously.

  "You look lovely." He took my hand easily, without thinking about it.

  We walked through the deep shade up to the porch. I knew he could feel mytension; his thumb rubbed soothing circles into the back of my hand.

  He opened the door for me.

   The inside was even more surprising, less predictable, than the exterior.

  It was very bright, very open, and very large. This must have originallybeen several rooms, but the walls had been removed from most of the firstfloor to create one wide space. The back, south-facing wall had beenentirely replaced with glass, and, beyond the shade of the cedars, thelawn stretched bare to the wide river. A massive curving staircasedominated the west side of the room. The walls, the high-beamed ceiling,the wooden floors, and the thick carpets were all varying shades of white.

  Waiting to greet us, standing just to the left of the door, on a raisedportion of the floor by a spectacular grand piano, were Edward's parents.

  I'd seen Dr. Cullen before, of course, yet I couldn't help but be struckagain by his youth, his outrageous perfection. At his side was Esme, Iassumed, the only one of the family I'd never seen before. She had thesame pale, beautiful features as the rest of them. Something about herheart-shaped face, her billows of soft, caramel-colored hair, reminded meof the ingénues of the silent-movie era. She was small, slender, yet lessangular, more rounded than the others. They were both dressed casually,in light colors that matched the inside of the house. They smiled inwelcome, but made no move to approach us. Trying not to frighten me, Iguessed.

  "Carlisle, Esme," Edward's voice broke the short silence, "this is Bella.""You're very welcome, Bella." Carlisle's step was measured, careful as heapproached me. He raised his hand tentatively, and I stepped forward toshake hands with him.

  "It's nice to see you again, Dr. Cullen.""Please, call me Carlisle.""Carlisle." I grinned at him, my sudden confidence surprising me. I couldfeel Edward's relief at my side.

  Esme smiled and stepped forward as well, reaching for my hand. Her cold,stone grasp was just as I expected.

  "It's very nice to know you," she said sincerely.

  "Thank you. I'm glad to meet you, too." And I was. It was like meeting afairy tale — Snow White, in the flesh.

  "Where are Alice and Jasper?" Edward asked, but no one answered, as theyhad just appeared at the top of the wide staircase.

  "Hey, Edward!" Alice called enthusiastically. She ran down the stairs, astreak of black hair and white skin, coming to a sudden and graceful stopin front of me. Carlisle and Esme shot warning glances at her, but Iliked it. It was natural — for her, anyway.

  "Hi, Bella!" Alice said, and she bounced forward to kiss my cheek. IfCarlisle and Esme had looked cautious before, they now looked staggered.

  There was shock in my eyes, too, but I was also very pleased that sheseemed to approve of me so entirely. I was startled to feel Edwardstiffen at my side. I glanced at his face, but his expression wasunreadable.

  "You do smell nice, I never noticed before," she commented, to my extremeembarrassment.

  No one else seemed to know quite what to say, and then Jasper was there —tall and leonine. A feeling of ease spread through me, and I was suddenlycomfortable despite where I was. Edward stared at Jasper, raising oneeyebrow, and I remembered what Jasper could do.

  "Hello, Bella," Jasper said. He kept his distance, not offering to shakemy hand. But it was impossible to feel awkward near him.

  "Hello, Jasper." I smiled at him shyly, and then at the others. "It's nice to meet you all — you have a very beautiful home," I addedconventionally.

  "Thank you," Esme said. "We're so glad that you came." She spoke withfeeling, and I realized that she thought I was brave.

  I also realized that Rosalie and Emmett were nowhere to be seen, and Iremembered Edward's too-innocent denial when I'd asked him if the othersdidn't like me.

  Carlisle's expression distracted me from this train of thought; he wasgazing meaningfully at Edward with an intense expression. Out of thecorner of my eye, I saw Edward nod once.

  I looked away, trying to be polite. My eyes wandered again to thebeautiful instrument on the platform by the door. I suddenly rememberedmy childhood fantasy that, should I ever win a lottery, I would buy agrand piano for my mother. She wasn't really good — she only played forherself on our secondhand upright — but I loved to watch her play. Shewas happy, absorbed — she seemed like a new, mysterious being to me then,someone outside the "mom" persona I took for granted. She'd put methrough lessons, of course, but like most kids, I whined until she let mequit.

  Esme noticed my preoccupation.

  "Do you play?" she asked, inclining her head toward the piano.

  I shook my head. "Not at all. But it's so beautiful. Is it yours?""No," she laughed. "Edward didn't tell you he was musical?""No." I glared at his suddenly innocent expression with narrowed eyes. "Ishould have known, I guess."Esme raised her delicate eyebrows in confusion.

  "Edward can do everything, right?" I explained.

  Jasper snickered and Esme gave Edward a reproving look.

  "I hope you haven't been showing off— it's rude," she scolded.

  "Just a bit," he laughed freely. Her face softened at the sound, and theyshared a brief look that I didn't understand, though Esme's face seemedalmost smug.

  "He's been too modest, actually," I corrected.

  "Well, play for her," Esme encouraged.

  "You just said showing off was rude," he objected.

  "There are exceptions to every rule," she replied.

  "I'd like to hear you play," I volunteered.

  "It's settled then." Esme pushed him toward the piano. He pulled mealong, sitting me on the bench beside him.

  He gave me a long, exasperated look before he turned to the keys.

  And then his fingers flowed swiftly across the ivory, and the room wasfilled with a composition so complex, so luxuriant, it was impossible tobelieve only one set of hands played. I felt my chin drop, my mouth openin astonishment, and heard low chuckles behind me at my reaction.

  Edward looked at me casually, the music still surging around us without abreak, and winked. "Do you like it?""You wrote this?" I gasped, understanding.

   He nodded. "It's Esme's favorite."I closed my eyes, shaking my head.

  "What's wrong?""I'm feeling extremely insignificant."The music slowed, transforming into something softer, and to my surpriseI detected the melody of his lullaby weaving through the profusion ofnotes.

  "You inspired this one," he said softly. The music grew unbearably sweet.

  I couldn't speak.

  "They like you, you know," he said conversationally. "Esme especially."I glanced behind me, but the huge room was empty now.

  "Where did they go?""Very subtly giving us some privacy, I suppose."I sighed. "They like me. But Rosalie and Emmett…" I trailed off, not surehow to express my doubts.

  He frowned. "Don't worry about Rosalie," he said, his eyes wide andpersuasive. "She'll come around."I pursed my lips skeptically. "Emmett?""Well, he thinks I'm a lunatic, it's true, but he doesn't have a problemwith you. He's trying to reason with Rosalie.""What is it that upsets her?" I wasn't sure if I wanted to know theanswer.

  He sighed deeply. "Rosalie struggles the most with… with what we are.

  It's hard for her to have someone on the outside know the truth. Andshe's a little jealous.""Rosalie is jealous of me?" I asked incredulously. I tried to imagine auniverse in which someone as breathtaking as Rosalie would have anypossible reason to feel jealous of someone like me.

  "You're human." He shrugged. "She wishes that she were, too.""Oh," I muttered, still stunned. "Even Jasper, though…""That's really my fault," he said. "I told you he was the most recent totry our way of life. I warned him to keep his distance."I thought about the reason for that, and shuddered.

  "Esme and Carlisle… ?" I continued quickly, to keep him from noticing.

  "Are happy to see me happy. Actually, Esme wouldn't care if you had athird eye and webbed feet. All this time she's been worried about me,afraid that there was something missing from my essential makeup, that Iwas too young when Carlisle changed me… She's ecstatic. Every time Itouch you, she just about chokes with satisfaction.""Alice seems very… enthusiastic.""Alice has her own way of looking at things," he said through tight lips.

  "And you're not going to explain that, are you?"A moment of wordless communication passed between us. He realized that Iknew he was keeping something from me. I realized that he wasn't going togive anything away. Not now.

   "So what was Carlisle telling you before?"His eyebrows pulled together. "You noticed that, did you?"I shrugged. "Of course."He looked at me thoughtfully for a few seconds before answering. "Hewanted to tell me some news — he didn't know if it was something I wouldshare with you.""Will you?""I have to, because I'm going to be a little… overbearingly protectiveover the next few days — or weeks — and I wouldn't want you to think I'mnaturally a tyrant.""What's wrong?""Nothing's wrong, exactly. Alice just sees some visitors coming soon.

  They know we're here, and they're curious.""Visitors?""Yes… well, they aren't like us, of course — in their hunting habits, Imean. They probably won't come into town at all, but I'm certainly notgoing to let you out of my sight till they're gone."I shivered.

  "Finally, a rational response!" he murmured. "I was beginning to thinkyou had no sense of self-preservation at all."I let that one pass, looking away, my eyes wandering again around thespacious room.

  He followed my gaze. "Not what you expected, is it?" he asked, his voicesmug.

  "No," I admitted.

  "No coffins, no piled skulls in the corners; I don't even think we havecobwebs… what a disappointment this must be for you," he continued slyly.

  I ignored his teasing. "It's so light… so open."He was more serious when he answered. "It's the one place we never haveto hide."The song he was still playing, my song, drifted to an end, the finalchords shifting to a more melancholy key. The last note hoveredpoignantly in the silence.

  "Thank you," I murmured. I realized there were tears in my eyes. I dabbedat them, embarrassed.

  He touched the corner of my eye, trapping one I missed. He lifted hisfinger, examining the drop of moisture broodingly. Then, so quickly Icouldn't be positive that he really did, he put his finger to his mouthto taste it.

  I looked at him questioningly, and he gazed back for a long moment beforehe finally smiled.

  "Do you want to see the rest of the house?""No coffins?" I verified, the sarcasm in my voice not entirely maskingthe slight but genuine anxiety I felt.

  He laughed, taking my hand, leading me away from the piano.

  "No coffins," he promised.

   We walked up the massive staircase, my hand trailing along thesatin-smooth rail. The long hall at the top of the stairs was paneledwith a honey-colored wood, the same as the floorboards.

  "Rosalie and Emmett's room… Carlisle's office… Alice's room…" He gesturedas he led me past the doors.

  He would have continued, but I stopped dead at the end of the hall,staring incredulously at the ornament hanging on the wall above my head.

  Edward chuckled at my bewildered expression.

  "You can laugh," he said. "It is sort of ironic."I didn't laugh. My hand raised automatically, one finger extended as ifto touch the large wooden cross, its dark patina contrasting with thelighter tone of the wall. I didn't touch it, though I was curious if theaged wood would feel as silky as it looked.

  "It must be very old," I guessed.

  He shrugged. "Early sixteen-thirties, more or less."I looked away from the cross to stare at him.

  "Why do you keep this here?" I wondered.

  "Nostalgia. It belonged to Carlisle's father.""He collected antiques?" I suggested doubtfully.

  "No. He carved this himself. It hung on the wall above the pulpit in thevicarage where he preached."I wasn't sure if my face betrayed my shock, but I returned to gazing atthe simple, ancient cross, just in case. I quickly did the mental math;the cross was over three hundred and seventy years old. The silencestretched on as I struggled to wrap my mind around the concept of so manyyears.

  "Are you all right?" He sounded worried.

  "How old is Carlisle?" I asked quietly, ignoring his question, stillstaring up.

  "He just celebrated his three hundred and sixty-second birthday," Edwardsaid. I looked back at him, a million questions in my eyes.

  He watched me carefully as he spoke.

  "Carlisle was born in London, in the sixteen-forties, he believes. Timewasn't marked as accurately then, for the common people anyway. It wasjust before Cromwell's rule, though."I kept my face composed, aware of his scrutiny as I listened. It waseasier if I didn't try to believe.

  "He was the only son of an Anglican pastor. His mother died giving birthto him. His father was an intolerant man. As the Protestants came intopower, he was enthusiastic in his persecution of Roman Catholics andother religions. He also believed very strongly in the reality of evil.

  He led hunts for witches, werewolves… and vampires." I grew very still atthe word. I'm sure he noticed, but he went on without pausing.

  "They burned a lot of innocent people — of course the real creatures thathe sought were not so easy to catch.

  "When the pastor grew old, he placed his obedient son in charge of theraids. At first Carlisle was a disappointment; he was not quick toaccuse, to see demons where they did not exist. But he was persistent,and more clever than his father. He actually discovered a coven of truevampires that lived hidden in the sewers of the city, only coming out by night to hunt. In those days, when monsters were not just myths andlegends, that was the way many lived.

  "The people gathered their pitchforks and torches, of course" — his brieflaugh was darker now — "and waited where Carlisle had seen the monstersexit into the street. Eventually one emerged."His voice was very quiet; I strained to catch the words.

  "He must have been ancient, and weak with hunger. Carlisle heard him callout in Latin to the others when he caught the scent of the mob. He ranthrough the streets, and Carlisle — he was twenty-three and very fast —was in the lead of the pursuit. The creature could have easily outrunthem, but Carlisle thinks he was too hungry, so he turned and attacked.

  He fell on Carlisle first, but the others were close behind, and heturned to defend himself. He killed two men, and made off with a third,leaving Carlisle bleeding in the street."He paused. I could sense he was editing something, keeping something fromme.

  "Carlisle knew what his father would do. The bodies would be burned —anything infected by the monster must be destroyed. Carlisle actedinstinctively to save his own life. He crawled away from the alley whilethe mob followed the fiend and his victim. He hid in a cellar, buriedhimself in rotting potatoes for three days. It's a miracle he was able tokeep silent, to stay undiscovered.

  "It was over then, and he realized what he had become."I'm not sure what my face was revealing, but he suddenly broke off.

  "How are you feeling?" he asked.

  "I'm fine," I assured him. And, though I bit my lip in hesitation, hemust have seen the curiosity burning in my eyes.

  He smiled. "I expect you have a few more questions for me.""A few."His smile widened over his brilliant teeth. He started back down thehall, pulling me along by the hand. "Come on, then," he encouraged. "I'llshow you."

第十五章 卡伦一家

又一个多云的早晨,暗哑的光最终把我弄醒了。我把胳膊压在眼睛上,晕乎乎的,一片茫然。有件事情,一个梦境,试图被记起来,挣扎着闯入我的意识中。我呻吟着,翻过身来侧躺着,想要再睡一会儿。然后那个特别的一天如潮水般拥入了我的认知里。

“哦!”我坐起来得太快,头开始晕起来。

“你的头发看起来像个干草堆……但我喜欢这样。”他安静的声音从角落里的那张摇椅传来。

“爱德华!你留下来了!”我欣喜若狂,不假思索地把自己扔过整个房间,落到他的膝上。(不假思索地冲过整个房间,坐到他膝上。)但等到我的思路跟上我的动作,我立刻僵住了,被自己完全失控的狂热震撼到了。我仰起脸看着他,生怕我又踩过了错误的底线。

但他大笑起来。

“当然。”他吃惊地答道,但似乎对我的反应很是高兴。他的手摩挲着,把我抱回怀里。

我小心地把头靠在他的肩膀上,细嗅着他肌肤上的芳香。

“我本来还认定,那只是一个梦。”

“你没那么有创造力。”他嘲弄道。

“查理!”我这才记起来,再次不假思索地跳起来,落到地板上。

“他一个小时以前就走了——在重新接上了你的电池线以后,我得补充这一点。我不得不承认我很失望。这真的能阻止你吗,如果你下定决心要走的话?”(查理果然是当警长的料。。。不知道啥是电池线的请参看漫画《死亡笔记》里夜神月保管他的死亡笔记的那个机关,当然夜神月的电池线连上的是自动点火装置,而查理,估计连的是警报器。。。。)

我站在原地,仔细思考着,我迫切想要回到他怀里,但有害怕自己早上口气不清新。

“你早上通常很少这样烦恼的。”他指出来。他张开双臂,要我回到他怀里。一个几乎不可抗拒的邀请。

“我需要另一分钟当回人类。”我坦白道。

“我会等的。”

我跳着奔向浴室,无法识别出自己现在是什么样的情绪。我不认识我自己了,不管是内在还是外在。镜中的脸根本就是一个陌生人——眼睛太过明亮,点点红晕掠过我的颧骨。在我刷完牙以后,我设法梳直自己乱糟糟的头发。我溅起冷水洗脸,试图让呼吸变得自然些,却看不出来有半点效果。我几乎是跑着回到了房间。

他仍在那里,简直像是个奇迹,他的双臂依然在等着我。他伸出手够到我,我的心开始砰砰乱跳。

“欢迎回来。”他喃喃低语着,把我拉进怀里。

他沉默地摇着我,过了一会儿,我才注意到他换了衣服,他的头发很平整。

“你离开了?”我抓住他新换上了的衬衣的领子,控诉道。

“我不能穿着我来时的衣服离开——邻居们会怎么想?”(鉴于Edward敢在Bella家门口瞬间移动,这句纯属借口。。。)

我不悦地撅起嘴。
“你睡得很沉,我没有错过任何东西。”他的眼睛闪闪发亮。“梦话提前了。”

我呻吟起来。“你听到了什么?”
他金色的眸子变得非常温柔。“你说你爱我。”

“你早就知道的。”我提醒他,不由得垂下了头。

“那还是一样,听到你亲口说出来让我很高兴。”

我把脸埋在他肩膀上。

“我爱你。”我耳语着。
“而现在,你就是我的生命。”他只答道。
此时此刻,我们再也没有更多的话要说了。他来来回回地摇着我们,房间里渐渐明亮了起来。
“早餐时间到。”他最终若无其事地说到——这是一种保证,我敢肯定,他在保证他会记得我所有的人类弱点。

所以,我双手扼住自己的喉咙,盯着他看。震惊的神情掠过了他的脸。

“上当了!”我窃笑着,“你还说我不会演戏!”

他厌恶地皱起眉:“这一点也不有趣。”

“这很有趣,你知道的。”但我仔细地审视着他金色的眼镜,想知道自己是否被原谅了。很显然,我被赦免了。

“我应该这样改述吗?”他问道。“人类的早餐时间到。”

“哦,好吧。”

他温柔地把我扔到他石头一样的肩膀上,但动作快得让我透不过起来。他轻而易举地把我抱下楼,我伉仪过,但被他无视了。他把我放到一张椅子上。(side up。。。仰面?有人会趴到椅子上么。。。)

厨房显得既明朗又欢快,似乎被我的情绪感染到了。

“早餐吃什么?”我快活地问道。

这个问题让他想了足足一分钟。

“呃,我不能肯定。你喜欢吃什么?”他大理石般的额头皱了起来。

我咧嘴一笑,跳了起来。

“那好吧,我可是很擅长自力更生的。看着我怎么狩猎。”

我找出一只碗和一盒麦片。当我把牛奶倒进去,抓起一把勺子的时候,我能感觉到他的眼睛在看着我。我把自己的食物放到桌子上,然后停住了。

“需要我给你弄点什么吃的吗?”我不想显得太过无礼,于是问道。

他转了转眼睛。“吃吧,贝拉。”

我坐到桌子旁,看着他,然后吃了一口。他注视着我,研究着我的每一个动作。这让我很不自在。我咽下嘴里的食物,开口说话,想要分散他的注意力。

“今天有什么安排吗?”我问道。

“呃嗯……”我看着他仔细地斟酌着自己的答案。“你觉得去见我的家里人怎么样?”

我吞咽了一下。

“你现在害怕了?”他听起来满怀希望。

“是的。”我坦白道。我怎么可能否认呢——他从我眼里就能看出来。

“别担心。”他坏笑起来。“我会保护你的。”

“我不是在害怕他们。”我解释道。“我是在害怕他们会……不喜欢我。难道他们不会,嗯,很惊讶,你居然带了一个……像我这样的人……回家去见他们?他们知道我知道他们的事吗?”

“哦,他们早就都知道了。他们昨天还在打赌,你知道”——他微笑着,但他的声音有些生涩——“打赌我会不会带你回来。不过,我想不出有谁敢跟爱丽丝打赌。无论如何,我们家里是没有什么秘密的。这确实不太可能,因为我能读心,而爱丽丝能看见未来的所有事情。”

“而贾斯帕会让你感受到温暖,不知不觉地说出了心里话,别忘了这一点。”

“你注意到了。”他赞许地笑了起来。

“我早就时不时地了解到了这一点。(暗示爱德华经常催眠她)”我咧嘴一笑。“所以爱丽丝看到我来了?”

他的反应很奇怪。“类似于这样的事情。”他很不自在地说道,扭头看向别处,这样我就看不到他的眼睛了。我好奇地盯着他看。

“这是什么好东西吗?”他问道,突然回过头来看着我,脸上露出揶揄的神情看着我的食物。“老实说,这看上去让人很不开胃。”

“好吧,这里可没什么暴躁的灰熊……”我喃喃自语着,无视他的怒目而视。我还是想知道,为什么当我提到爱丽丝的时候,他会是那种反应。我扒拉着我的麦片,思索着。

他站在厨房的中间,又变成了一尊阿多尼斯的雕像,心不在焉地向后窗外看去。

然后他回过头来看着我,露出了一抹令人心碎的微笑。

“我想,你也应该向你父亲正式介绍我。”

“他已经认识你了。”我提醒他。

“我是指,作为你的男朋友。”

我怀疑地盯着他。“为什么?”
“这不是习俗吗?”他一脸无辜地问道。

“我不知道。”我坦白道。我的约会史没给我提供多少可供参考的注意事项。而且也没什么正常的约会指南可以用在现在这个状况。“这没什么必要,你知道。我不希望你……我是说,你不必为了我而假装。”(装假狗。。。)

他耐心地笑着:“我没在假装。”

我把剩下的麦片扒拉到碗边,端起来倒到嘴里。

“你到底有没有打算告诉查理我是你的男朋友?”他诘问道。

“你是吗?”一想到爱德华和查理还有“男朋友”这个词将出现在同一时间同一地点,我不由得强抑住一阵暗自的畏缩。

“‘男孩’这个词确实不太确切,我会承认承认这一点。”

“我在想,事实上,你不仅仅是我的男朋友。”我坦白道,看着桌面。

“好吧,我不知道我们是否有必要向他展示这些血淋淋的细节。”他隔着桌子伸出手,用一根冰冷温柔的手指托起我的下颌。“但他会需要一些解释,为什么我会如次频繁地出现在这附近。我不想让史温警长对我颁布一个限制令。”(西方特有的法律产物,限定某人不得接近某人或某地或某物多少米之内的范围,否则就要被逮捕并监禁。。。)

“你会吗?”我问道,忽然不安起来。“你真的会在这里吗?”

“只要你需要,我就在这里,不离不弃。”他向我保证。(As long as you want me。。。)

“我每时每刻都需要你,”我警告他。“永远。”

他慢慢地绕过桌子走过来,然后,停在几英尺之外。他伸出手,用指尖触摸着我的脸颊。他的表情深不可测。

“这让你难过吗?”我问道。

他没有回答。他看进我的眼睛里,看了很久,很久。

“你吃完了吗?”他最终问道。

我跳起来。“是的。”

“去换衣服——我在这里等你。”

实在很难决定要穿什么衣服。我怀疑到底有没有专门的礼仪书会详细地介绍当你的吸血鬼达令带你回家见他的吸血鬼家族时应该怎样穿着。能够暗自想到这个词实在是种宽慰。我知道自己太害羞了,有意不提起这个词。

我最终穿上了自己唯一的一件打底恤衫——卡其色的长恤衫。我穿起了他曾经称赞过的那件深蓝色的上衣。我飞快地瞥了一眼镜子,告诉自己我的头发完全令人无法容忍,所以我把头发梳到后面束成一个马尾。

“好吧。”我跳下楼梯。“我很大方得体。”

他在楼梯底下等着我,离得比我认为的还要紧,而我不偏不倚地向他跳过去。他稳住我,把我拉到了一个稍远的谨慎的距离,几秒之后,忽然又把我拉近些。

“又错了。”他在我耳畔低语着。“你绝对不够得上大方得体——谁都不应该穿得这样诱人的。这不公平。”

“怎样才算得体?”我问道。“我可以去换……”

他叹息着,摇了摇头。“你太荒谬了。”他优雅地把冰冷的唇印在我的前额上,我的脑子一片混乱。他呼吸的香气让我根本没办法思考。

“我应该向你解释你现在是如何诱或着我吗?”他说着。这实在是一个很符合修辞学的问题。(It was clearly a rhetorical question.……句式工整,但意思显而易见无需回答的问题)他的手指慢慢地描着我的脊柱,他的呼吸越来越急促地拂过我的肌肤。我的双手抵在他的胸前,我又开始感到头晕眼花了。他慢慢地俯下头,用冰冷的唇吻上了我的唇,但只过了一秒钟,便非常小心地,轻轻地把它们分开了。

然后我瘫倒了。

“贝拉?”他的声音惊慌失措,他抓住我,把我扶起来。

“你……让……我……发晕了。”我头晕眼花地指控他。

“我该拿你怎么办呢?”他有些恼怒地说道。“昨天我吻你时你攻击了我!今天你却因为我的吻而晕过去了!”(Edward。。。那个不叫攻击。。。那是舌吻。。。)
我虚弱地笑了起来,让他的胳膊支撑着我,我的头还是很晕。

“你总说我擅长做每件事。”他叹息着说。

“这就是问题所在。”我还是有些眩晕。“你太擅长了。太,太擅长了。”

“你觉得头晕吗?”他问道。他之前见过我像这样子。

“不——这完全不是那种头晕。我不知道发生了什么事。”我充满歉意地摇着头。“我想我忘了呼吸。”

“你现在这个样子,我可不敢带你去任何地方。”

“我没事。”我坚持着。“无论如何,你的家人都会认为我有病,有什么区别吗?”

他估量了片刻我的神情。“我特别偏爱你现在这种肤色。”他出乎意料地说道。我愉快地脸红了,赶忙看向别处。

“看,我会竭尽全力不去想我将要做的事,所以我们现在可以走了吗?”我问道。

“而你在担心,不是因为你将要见到一屋子的吸血鬼,而是因为你认为那些吸血鬼不会赞同你,对吗?”

“没错。”我立刻答道,掩饰着自己对他漫不经心地用着这个词的惊讶。

他摇了摇头:“你简直难以置信。”

当他把我的卡车开出镇里的主街区时,我才意识到,我还不知道他住在哪里。我们开过架在Calawah河上的桥,开向通往北部的道路。房屋飞快地从我们车旁掠过,渐渐变得不那么密集,房屋主体也变得越来越巨大。然后,我们把所有的住家都抛在了身后,开进了云雾缭绕的森林。我还在试图决定是要开口问还是耐心等待的时候,他忽然掉转车头开进了一条没有铺着柏油的路。这条路没有任何标记,在一片蕨类植物中隐约可见。(It was unmarked,我觉得是指没有刷上一道道的白色油漆,接力版是说没在地图上标出来,有点牵强)它蜿蜒蛇行着穿过一颗颗古老的树木,森林在路两旁侵蚀着我们的视野,让我们只能看见路前方几米远的地方。

然后,又开过数英里以后,树木变得稀少些了,忽然间我们就在一片小小的草地上了,或许这事实上是一片私人草坪?但是,森林里的幽暗感并未消散,因为有六棵未经修剪的雪松用它们广阔的绵延的枝叶荫蔽着整块草地。这些树撑起了它们保护性的树阴,一直绵延到房屋的外墙上,那外墙凌于树荫之上,使得环绕着房屋一层的深邃的门廊显得有些陈旧。

我不知道自己在期待着什么,但绝对不是这样的。这所房子经久优美,也许有一百年以上的历史了。它被粉刷成一种柔和的,有些褪色的白色,有三层楼高,四四方方,很是对称。门窗都是最初的结构,或是修旧如旧。我的卡车是我所能看见的唯一一辆车子。我能听到河流的声音,就在附近的某个地方,隐藏在幽暗的森林中。

“哇噢。”

“你喜欢?”他笑了起来。

“这……实在太有吸引力了。”

他拉了一下我的马尾的末梢,轻笑起来。

“准备好了吗?”他问道,打开了我的车门。

“一点也没有——我们走吧。”我试图大笑,但笑声似乎卡在了我的喉咙里。我不安地抚平着自己的头发。

“你看上去很可爱。”他轻松地拉起我的手,完全不假思索。

我们穿过深邃的树阴,向门廊走去。我知道他能感觉到我的不安,他的拇指在我的手背上打着圈,让我镇静下来。

他为我打开了门。
屋里更加惊人,甚至比屋外还要出乎意料。屋里非常明亮,非常开阔,非常宽敞。这里原本应该有好几个房间,但一层的大部分墙壁都被打通了,变成了一个尤为广阔的空间。屋后面向南边的墙壁被全部替换成整块的玻璃,而在雪松的树荫之外,绵延着的草地上,一条宽广的河流展露无遗。一座宏伟的回旋楼梯占据了房间的西面。墙面,高高耸起的天花板,木制的地板,厚重的地毯,全都是各种色调的白色。

就站在门口的左边,站在地板上一块升高的部分,在一架巨大的平台式钢琴旁,等着招呼我们的,是爱德华的父母。

当然,我之前见过卡伦医生,但我还是情不自禁地被他的年轻,他可恶的完美震撼了。站在他身旁的是艾思梅,我敢确定,因为她是这个家里我此前唯一从未见过的人。她和其他人一样,有着苍白,美丽的外表。她心形的脸庞,波浪般起伏的柔软的焦糖色的秀发,让我想起了默片时代电影中的纯真少女。她个子小巧,身形纤细,但不像其他人那样消瘦,她更圆润些。他们的穿着都很随意,都穿着与屋里的色调相衬的浅颜色衣服。他们微笑着表示欢迎,但并没有向我们走过来。我猜,是为了避免吓着我。

“卡莱尔,艾思梅,”爱德华的声音打破了这阵短暂的沉默。“这位是贝拉。”

“非常欢迎你,贝拉。”卡莱尔向我走过来,他的步子十分小心慎重。他试探性地伸出手,我走向前去,和他握手。(插花。。。我一直以为西方社会只有女性先伸手,男性才可以和她握手。。。。)

“很高兴再次见到你,卡伦医生。”

“拜托,叫我卡莱尔。”

“卡莱尔。”我向他露齿一笑,忽然涌起的自信让我吃惊不小。我能感觉到,站在我身旁的爱德华如释重负。

艾思梅微笑着,也走上前来,握住了我的手。她冰冷如石头般的紧握和我期待的一样

“很高兴认识你。”她由衷地说道。

“谢谢。我也很高兴见到你。”而且我一直都是。就像遇见一个童话故事——一个活生生的白雪公主。

“爱丽丝和贾斯帕在哪里?”爱德华问道,但没人回答,他们已经出现在宽阔的楼梯顶上。

“嗨,爱德华!”爱丽丝热情地喊道。她跑下楼梯,只见一阵黑发雪肤的幻影,顷刻之间她已优雅地出现在我面前。卡莱尔和艾思梅警告地瞪着她,但我喜欢这样。这很正常——无论如何,对她而言确实是这样。

“嗨,贝拉!”爱丽丝说着,跳上前来亲吻我的脸颊。如果卡莱尔和艾思梅之前只是警惕地看着的话,他们现在简直是难以置信地看着。我的眼里也露出了震惊的神情,但我还是很高兴,她竟然如此如此全盘地认同我。我惊奇地感觉到爱德华在我身旁僵住了。我瞥了一眼他的脸,但他的神情有些难以琢磨。

“你闻起来真的很棒,我之前从没注意到。”让我异常窘迫地是,她如此评价道。

没人知道该说些什么,然后贾斯帕站在了那里——身材高大,宛如狮子。一种安心的感觉传遍了我的全身,我忽然轻松起来,不再在乎自己在那里。爱德华挑起一侧眉毛,看着贾斯帕,我这才想起来贾斯帕的天赋。

“你好,贝拉。”贾斯帕说道。他依然站在远处,并不主动过来和我握手。但在他周围是不可能感觉到尴尬的。

“你好,贾斯帕。”我向他微微一笑,然后向所有人微笑。“很高兴见到你们——你们的家非常漂亮。”我依照惯例补充了一句。

“谢谢,”艾思梅说道。“我们都很高兴你能来。”她饱含深情地说着,我意识到她觉得我很勇敢。
我同样注意到,罗莎莉和艾美特都不在这里,我还记得当我问到别人会不会不喜欢我时,爱德华过于天真的否认。

卡莱尔的神情转移了我的注意力,把我从思绪中啦了回来。他一脸紧张的神情,正用意味深长的目光注视着爱德华。在眼睛的余光中,我看到爱德华点了点头。

我看向别处,试图保持礼貌。我的眼睛又一次徘徊在门边平台上那架美丽的乐器上。我忽然想起了我童年时疯狂的梦想,想象着如果我能中一张彩票,我就能给我母亲买一架钢琴了。她弹得不是很好——她只在我们的二手立式钢琴上自娱自乐地弹过——但我喜欢看她弹奏。她很快乐,一心一意地弹着——对我来说,她似乎是一个全新的,谜一样的人,跳出了我所认定的“妈妈”的角色之外的人。当然,她也让我上过几堂课,但像大多数孩子一样,我哭闹不休,直到她放过我为止。

艾思梅注意到了我关注的对象。

“你会弹吗?”她问道,把头偏向了那架钢琴。

我摇了摇头。“完全不会。但它很漂亮。这是你的吗?”

“不。”她大笑起来。“爱德华没有告诉过你他很有音乐天赋吗?”

“没有。”我眯起眼睛,瞪着他忽然露出的无辜神情。“我猜,我应该早就料到的。”

艾思梅困惑地扬起她精致优雅的眉毛。

“爱德华什么都会,对吧?”我解释道。

贾斯帕窃笑起来,艾思梅责难地瞪了爱德华一眼。

“我希望你没有在炫耀——这样太没礼貌了。”她训斥道。

“只有一点点。”他肆无忌惮地大笑起来。她的脸因为他的声音而柔和了起来,他们交换了一个我无法理解的简短的眼神,可是艾思梅的神情却几近俏皮。

“事实上,他太谦逊了。”我更正道。

“好吧,去为她弹上一曲。”艾思梅鼓励道。

“你刚说过炫耀是没有礼貌的。”他反驳道。

“每条规矩都有例外。”她答复道。

“我想听你弹奏。”我自告奋勇地说道。

“那就决定了。”艾思梅把他推向钢琴。他拉着我一起走过去,让我坐到琴凳上和他挨着坐。

他恼火地看了我许久,这才转向那些琴键。

然后,他的手指轻快地在那些象牙白色的琴键上跃动起来,流淌在房间里的乐章是如此的复杂,如此的丰富,很难想象这是用一双手弹出来的。我感觉到我的下巴掉下来了,我惊愕地张大了嘴,听到了从我身后传来的对我的反应的轻笑声。

爱德华若无其事地看着我,但音乐丝毫没有停顿,依然在我们身旁奔涌着。他向我眨了眨眼。“你喜欢吗?”

“你写的?”我明白过来,喘息着说。

他点了点头。“这是艾思梅最喜欢的一曲。”

我闭上眼睛,摇了摇头。

“怎么了?”

“我觉得自己一无是处。”

音乐缓慢下来,演变成了一首更为轻柔的曲子。而让我惊讶的是,我从那些丰富的音节里认出了交织在其中的他那首摇篮曲的旋律。

“你启发了我的灵感,让我写下了这首曲子。”他温柔地说着。音乐变得更加甜蜜,简直让人不堪忍受。

我说不出话来。

“他们很喜欢你,你知道,”他攀谈道。“尤其是艾思梅。”

我向背后望去,但整个巨大的房间现在都空了。

“他们都上哪儿去了?”

“非常巧妙地给我们留出一点私人空间,我猜是这样。”

我叹了口气。“他们都喜欢我。可罗莎莉和艾美特……”我打住了话头,不知道该如何表达自己的疑虑。

他皱起眉:“别担心罗莎莉,”他说道,他睁大了眼睛,很有说服力。“她会回来的。”

我怀疑地撅起嘴唇。“艾美特呢?”

“嗯,他觉得我疯了,这倒是真的。但他对你毫不介怀。他正试图劝说罗莎莉。”

“是什么让她不快呢?”我不敢确定自己是否想要知道答案。

他深深地叹息着。“罗莎莉太纠结于……我们的身份。对她来说让外面的人了解真相是件很难的事。而且她有点儿嫉妒。”

“罗莎莉嫉妒我?”我难以置信地问道。我试图想象出某个宇宙空间,在那里像罗莎莉这样美丽得惊人的人会有某种可能的理由嫉妒像我这样的人。

“你是人类。”他耸耸肩。“而她希望她也是。”

“哦,”我喃喃低语道。“可是,甚至连贾斯帕……”

“那确实是我的错。”他说道。“我告诉过你他是最近才开始尝试我们的生活方式的。我警告过他,要他离你远一点。”

我想到了那个理由,战栗起来。

“艾思梅和卡莱尔……”我赶快继续说道,不想让他注意到。

“都很高兴看到我快乐。事实上,就算你多长了一只眼睛或者脚上有蹼,她都不会介意的。一直以来她都在担心着我,生怕我必要的天性会有所缺失,因为当卡莱尔转变我的时候,我还太年轻……她简直欣喜若狂。每次我触碰你的时候,她都会因为心满意足而哽咽了。”

“爱丽丝似乎非常地……热情。”

“爱丽丝有她自己独特的看问题的方式。”他紧闭着唇,勉强说道。

“而你不打算解释这一点,对吧?”

一阵无需言语的交流在我们之间传递着。他意识到,我已经知道他有事情隐瞒着我。我意识到,他不会泄露任何内容的。至少不是现在。
“所以这就是卡莱尔之前想要告诉你的?”

他的眉头聚拢在了一起。“你注意到了,对吗?”

我耸耸肩。“当然。”

他若有所思地看了我几秒种后,答道。“他想告诉我一点新闻——他不知道这是否是我能和你分享的内容。”

“你会吗?”

“我不得不告诉你,因为我将要有点……过度保护你,在未来的几天内——或者几周——而我不想让你觉得我是个天生的暴君。”

“怎么了?”

“事实上,没什么。爱丽丝刚刚看到有些访客很快就要到来了。他们知道我们在这里,而且他们很好奇。”

“访客?”

“是的……好吧,当然,他们不像我们——我是指,在狩猎习惯上。他们也许根本不会进镇里来,但我确实不想让你离开我的视线范围,直到他们离开为止。”

我颤抖起来。

“终于,一个合理的反应!”他喃喃低语道。“我正要开始认为你完全没有自我保护的意识呢。”

我不去理会这个话题,只是看向别处,我的目光再次徜徉在这间广阔的房间里。

他追随着我的视线。“不是你所期待的,对吗?”他问道,他的声音有些自以为是。

“不是。”我承认道。

“没有棺材,角落里没有成堆的头盖骨,我甚至不认为我们会有蜘蛛网……你一定失望透顶了。”他狡猾地继续说道。

我无视他的揶揄。“这里是那么的明亮……那么的开阔。”

当他回答的时候,他更认真些了。“这里是我们永远不需要躲藏的地方。”

他依然在弹着那首歌,我的歌,渐渐滑入尾声。最后一个和音落在了一个更为忧伤的音调上。最后一个音符回荡着,在一片沉默中愈发醒目。

“谢谢。”我喃喃低语着。我意识到自己的眼中已经盈满了泪水。我轻轻抹去泪水,有些尴尬。

他轻触我的眼角,截住一滴我遗漏了的泪珠。他举起那根手指,审视着那一滴忧伤的液体。然后,他把手指放到嘴里,品尝它的味道。他的动作太快了,我不能肯定他是否真的这样做了。

我疑虑地看着,而他回过头来看着我,看了许久,最终笑了起来。

“你想去看看房子的其余部分吗?”

“没有棺材?”我求证道,我话里的挖苦并不能完全掩盖住我所感受到的微小但真切的不安。

他大笑起来,牵起我的手,带着我从钢琴旁离开。

“没有棺材。”他保证道。

我们走上那座宏伟的楼梯,我的手一直放在如绸缎般光滑的扶手上。楼梯尽头那长长的走廊里镶嵌着一种米色的木板,和一楼的地板一样。

“罗莎莉和艾美特的房间……卡莱尔的办公室……爱丽丝的房间……”他一边引着我走过一扇扇门,一边指点着。

他本来要继续走下去的,但我停在了走廊的尽头,怀疑地看着我头上的墙面上挂着的装饰物。爱德华看着我迷惑的神情,轻笑起来。

“你尽可以笑出来。”他说着,“这是某种讽刺。”

我可笑不出来。我的手下意识地抬了起来,伸出一根手指,仿佛要触到那个巨大的木制的十字架,它因年久而发暗的颜色与浅色调的墙面形成了鲜明的对比。我没有触碰它,虽然我很好奇,这块有些年头的木头摸起来会不会像它看上去那样光滑如丝。

“这一定很古老了。”我猜测着。

他耸耸肩。“十六世纪三十年代早期,大约是那个时候。”

我的目光从十字架上移开,注视着他。

“为什么你要把它留在这里呢?”我很怀疑。

“念旧之情。它属于卡莱尔的父亲。”

“他收集古董?”我怀疑地试探道。

“不。他亲手把它雕刻出来。它就挂在他布道的教区牧师住宅的讲道坛后的墙面上。”

我不能肯定我的表情是否泄露了我的震惊。但为了以防万一,我转过身去,看着那个简朴的古老的十字架。我飞快地心算着:这个十字架有超过三百七十年的历史了。沉默在延续着,我挣扎着让自己的脑子塞满了这个念头——这么多年。

“你还好吗?”他听起来有些担心。

“卡莱尔几岁了?”我无视他的问题,依然向上看着,飞快地问道,

“他刚刚庆祝完他的三百六十二岁生日。”爱德华说道。我回过头去看向他,眼里写满了上百万个问题。 
 他一边说话,一边小心地看着我。

“卡莱尔生于伦敦,他确信是在在十七世纪四十年代。那时候时间的计算还不太精确,至少对普通人来说是这样。那时还在克伦威尔的统治之下。”

我一边听着,一边绷住脸,我知道他在仔细查看着我。如果我不试图去相信他所说的话的话,这样做会更容易些。

“他是一个圣公会牧师的独生子。他的母亲在生下他以后就死于难产了。他的父亲是个偏执的男人。当新教徒开始掌权时,他狂热地开始了对罗马天主教和其他宗教的迫害。他同样极其坚定地相信着存在着邪恶的事物。他领导了大规模的猎杀行动,狩猎女巫,狼人……还有吸血鬼。”一听到这个词,我立刻僵住了。我知道他注意到了,但他没有停顿,继续说了下去。

“他们烧死了许多无辜的人——当然,他找到的真正的那些生物并不那么容易捕捉。”

“当那个牧师日益老去的时候,他让他顺从的儿子接替了搜捕的领导者的位置。起初卡莱尔的表现很让人失望。他不能很快地提出指控,不能在事实上也确实没有魔鬼的地方看到魔鬼。但他很固执,而且比他的父亲还要聪明。他确实找到了一个由一群真正的吸血鬼组成的巫会,他们隐藏在城市的下水道里,只在晚上才出来狩猎。在那些日子里,在怪物还不仅仅是神话与传说的时候,这是许多吸血鬼生活的方式。”

“人们聚集起来,当然,拿着他们的干草叉和火把”——他短促的笑声变得阴暗起来——“等在了卡莱尔看到怪物出没的街道上。最终,一个吸血鬼出现了。”

他的声音非常低,我紧张地捕捉着每一个字眼。

“他一定很古老了,而且因为饥饿而有些虚弱。当他看见这群暴动的民众时,卡莱尔听到他向别的几个喊着拉丁语。他跑过街道,而卡莱尔——他才二十三岁,跑得非常快——领着人们追踪着他。那个生物本来可以轻而易举地摆脱他们的,但卡莱尔认为他太饿了,所以他转过来攻击人们。他首先扑向了卡莱尔,但别的人正紧跟在后头,所以他转身自卫。他杀了两个人,带着第三个离开了,把流着血的卡莱尔留在了街道上。”

他停了下来。我能感觉到他在编辑某些部分,不让我知道。

“卡莱尔知道他父亲会做什么。尸体都会被烧掉——任何被怪物感染过的东西都要被毁掉。卡莱尔本能地想要保住自己的性命。当人们追随着那个魔鬼和他的受害者时,他爬着离开了那个小巷。他躲进了一个地窖,把自己埋在了一堆腐烂的马铃薯里过了三天。这实在是个奇迹,他居然能够保持安静,而不被发现。”

“然后,一切都结束了,而他终于意识到自己变成了什么。”

我不知道自己的表情泄露了什么,但他忽然打住了话头。

“你感觉怎么样?”他问道。

“我很好。”我向他保证道。虽然我踌躇着咬住了唇,他一定看到我眼中熊熊燃烧着的好奇心。

他笑了起来:“我希望你只有一点点问题要问我。”

“一点点。”

他笑得更开了,露出明亮的皓齿。他开始折返回去,重又穿过走廊,一路牵着我的手。“那么,来吧,”他鼓励道。“我会向你展示的。”



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