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Chapter 17 The Game

    It was just beginning to drizzle when Edward turned onto my street. Upuntil that moment, I'd had no doubt that he'd be staying with me while Ispent a few interim hours in the real world.

  And then I saw the black car, a weathered Ford, parked in Charlie'sdriveway — and heard Edward mutter something unintelligible in a low,harsh voice.

  Leaning away from the rain under the shallow front porch, Jacob Blackstood behind his father's wheelchair. Billy's face was impassive as stoneas Edward parked my truck against the curb. Jacob stared down, hisexpression mortified.

  Edward's low voice was furious. "This is crossing the line.""He came to warn Charlie?" I guessed, more horrified than angry.

  Edward just nodded, answering Billy's gaze through the rain with narrowedeyes.

  I felt weak with relief that Charlie wasn't home yet.

  "Let me deal with this," I suggested. Edward's black glare made meanxious.

  To my surprise, he agreed. "That's probably best. Be careful, though. Thechild has no idea."I bridled a little at the word child. "Jacob is not that much youngerthan I am," I reminded him.

  He looked at me then, his anger abruptly fading. "Oh, I know," he assuredme with a grin.

  I sighed and put my hand on the door handle.

  "Get them inside," he instructed, "so I can leave. I'll be back arounddusk.""Do you want my truck?" I offered, meanwhile wondering how I wouldexplain its absence to Charlie.

  He rolled his eyes. "I could walk home faster than this truck moves.""You don't have to leave," I said wistfully.

  He smiled at my glum expression. "Actually, I do. After you get rid ofthem" — he threw a dark glance in the Blacks' direction — "you still haveto prepare Charlie to meet your new boyfriend." He grinned widely,showing all of his teeth.

  I groaned. "Thanks a lot."He smiled the crooked smile that I loved. "I'll be back soon," hepromised. His eyes flickered back to the porch, and then he leaned in toswiftly kiss me just under the edge of my jaw. My heart lurchedfrantically, and I, too, glanced toward the porch. Billy's face was nolonger impassive, and his hands clutched at the armrests of his chair.

  "Soon," I stressed as I opened the door and stepped out into the rain.

  I could feel his eyes on my back as I half-ran through the light sprinkle toward the porch.

  "Hey, Billy. Hi, Jacob." I greeted them as cheerfully as I could manage.

  "Charlie's gone for the day — I hope you haven't been waiting long.""Not long," Billy said in a subdued tone. His black eyes were piercing.

  "I just wanted to bring this up." He indicated a brown paper sack restingin his lap.

  "Thanks," I said, though I had no idea what it could be. "Why don't youcome in for a minute and dry off?"I pretended to be oblivious to his intense scrutiny as I unlocked thedoor, and waved them in ahead of me.

  "Here, let me take that," I offered, turning to shut the door. I allowedmyself one last glance at Edward. He was waiting, perfectly still, hiseyes solemn.

  "You'll want to put it in the fridge," Billy noted as he handed me thepackage. "It's some of Harry Clearwater's homemade fish fry — Charlie'sfavorite. The fridge keeps it drier." He shrugged.

  "Thanks," I repeated, but with feeling this time. "I was running out ofnew ways to fix fish, and he's bound to bring home more tonight.""Fishing again?" Billy asked with a subtle gleam in his eye. "Down at theusual spot? Maybe I'll run by and see him.""No," I quickly lied, my face going hard. "He was headed someplace new…but I have no idea where."He took in my changed expression, and it made him thoughtful.

  "Jake," he said, still appraising me. "Why don't you go get that newpicture of Rebecca out of the car? I'll leave that for Charlie, too.""Where is it?" Jacob asked, his voice morose. I glanced at him, but hewas staring at the floor, his eyebrows pulling together.

  "I think I saw it in the trunk," Billy said. "You may have to dig for it."Jacob slouched back out into the rain.

  Billy and I faced each other in silence. After a few seconds, the quietstarted to feel awkward, so I turned and headed to the kitchen. I couldhear his wet wheels squeak against the linoleum as he followed.

  I shoved the bag onto the crowded top shelf of the fridge, and spunaround to confront him. His deeply lined face was unreadable.

  "Charlie won't be back for a long time." My voice was almost rude.

  He nodded in agreement, but said nothing.

  "Thanks again for the fish fry," I hinted.

  He continued nodding. I sighed and folded my arms across my chest.

  He seemed to sense that I had given up on small talk. "Bella," he said,and then he hesitated.

  I waited.

  "Bella," he said again, "Charlie is one of my best friends.""Yes."He spoke each word carefully in his rumbling voice. "I noticed you'vebeen spending time with one of the Cullens.""Yes," I repeated curtly.

   His eyes narrowed. "Maybe it's none of my business, but I don't thinkthat is such a good idea.""You're right," I agreed. "It is none of your business."He raised his graying eyebrows at my tone. "You probably don't know this,but the Cullen family has an unpleasant reputation on the reservation.""Actually, I did know that," I informed him in a hard voice. Thissurprised him. "But that reputation couldn't be deserved, could it?

  Because the Cullens never set foot on the reservation, do they?" I couldsee that my less than subtle reminder of the agreement that both boundand protected his tribe pulled him up short.

  "That's true," he acceded, his eyes guarded. "You seem… well informedabout the Cullens. More informed than I expected."I stared him down. "Maybe even better informed than you are."He pursed his thick lips as he considered that. "Maybe." he allowed, buthis eyes were shrewd. "Is Charlie as well informed?"He had found the weak chink in my armor.

  "Charlie likes the Cullens a lot," I hedged. He clearly understood myevasion. His expression was unhappy, but unsurprised.

  "It's not my business," he said. "But it may be Charlie's.""Though it would be my business, again, whether or not I think that it'sCharlie's business, right?"I wondered if he even understood my confused question as I struggled notto say anything compromising. But he seemed to. He thought about it whilethe rain picked up against the roof, the only sound breaking the silence.

  "Yes," he finally surrendered. "I guess that's your business, too."I sighed with relief. "Thanks, Billy.""Just think about what you're doing, Bella," he urged.

  "Okay," I agreed quickly.

  He frowned. "What I meant to say was, don't do what you're doing."I looked into his eyes, filled with nothing but concern for me, and therewas nothing I could say.

  Just then the front door banged loudly, and I jumped at the sound.

  "There's no picture anywhere in that car." Jacob's complaining voicereached us before he did. The shoulders of his shirt were stained withthe rain, his hair dripping, when he rounded the corner.

  "Hmm," Billy grunted, suddenly detached, spinning his chair around toface his son. "I guess I left it at home."Jacob rolled his eyes dramatically. "Great.""Well, Bella, tell Charlie" — Billy paused before continuing — "that westopped by, I mean.""I will," I muttered.

  Jacob was surprised. "Are we leaving already?""Charlie's gonna be out late," Billy explained as he rolled himself pastJacob.

  "Oh." Jacob looked disappointed. "Well, I guess I'll see you later, then, Bella.""Sure," I agreed.

  "Take care," Billy warned me. I didn't answer.

  Jacob helped his father out the door. I waved briefly, glancing swiftlytoward my now-empty truck, and then shut the door before they were gone.

  I stood in the hallway for a minute, listening to the sound of their caras it backed out and drove away. I stayed where I was, waiting for theirritation and anxiety to subside. When the tension eventually faded abit, I headed upstairs to change out of my dressy clothes.

  I tried on a couple of different tops, not sure what to expect tonight.

  As I concentrated on what was coming, what had just passed becameinsignificant. Now that I was removed from Jasper's and Edward'sinfluence, I began to make up for not being terrified before. I gave upquickly on choosing an outfit — throwing on an old flannel shirt andjeans — knowing I would be in my raincoat all night anyway.

  The phone rang and I sprinted downstairs to get it. There was only onevoice I wanted to hear; anything else would be a disappointment. But Iknew that if he wanted to talk to me, he'd probably just materialize inmy room.

  "Hello?" I asked, breathless.

  "Bella? It's me," Jessica said.

  "Oh, hey, Jess." I scrambled for a moment to come back down to reality.

  It felt like months rather than days since I'd spoken to Jess. "How wasthe dance?""It was so much fun!" Jessica gushed. Needing no more invitation thanthat, she launched into a minute-by-minute account of the previous night.

  I mmm'd and ahh'd at the right places, but it wasn't easy to concentrate.

  Jessica, Mike, the dance, the school — they all seemed strangelyirrelevant at the moment. My eyes kept flashing to the window, trying tojudge the degree of light behind the heavy clouds.

  "Did you hear what I said, Bella?" Jess asked, irritated.

  "I'm sorry, what?""I said, Mike kissed me! Can you believe it?""That's wonderful, Jess," I said.

  "So what did you do yesterday?" Jessica challenged, still soundingbothered by my lack of attention. Or maybe she was upset because I hadn'tasked for details.

  "Nothing, really. I just hung around outside to enjoy the sun."I heard Charlie's car in the garage.

  "Did you ever hear anything more from Edward Cullen?"The front door slammed and I could hear Charlie banging around under thestairs, putting his tackle away.

  "Um." I hesitated, not sure what my story was anymore.

  "Hi there, kiddo!" Charlie called as he walked into the kitchen. I wavedat him.

  Jess heard his voice. "Oh, your dad's there. Never mind — we'll talktomorrow. See you in Trig.""See ya, Jess." I hung up the phone.

   "Hey, Dad," I said. He was scrubbing his hands in the sink. "Where's thefish?""I put it out in the freezer.""I'll go grab a few pieces before they freeze — Billy dropped off some ofHarry Clearwater's fish fry this afternoon." I worked to soundenthusiastic.

  "He did?" Charlie's eyes lit up. "That's my favorite."Charlie cleaned up while I got dinner ready. It didn't take long till wewere sitting at the table, eating in silence. Charlie was enjoying hisfood. I was wondering desperately how to fulfill my assignment,struggling to think of a way to broach the subject.

  "What did you do with yourself today?" he asked, snapping me out of myreverie.

  "Well, this afternoon I just hung out around the house…" Only the veryrecent part of this afternoon, actually. I tried to keep my voice upbeat,but my stomach was hollow. "And this morning I was over at the Cullens'."Charlie dropped his fork.

  "Dr. Cullen's place?" he asked in astonishment.

  I pretended not to notice his reaction. "Yeah.""What were you doing there?" He hadn't picked his fork back up.

  "Well, I sort of have a date with Edward Cullen tonight, and he wanted tointroduce me to his parents… Dad?"It appeared that Charlie was having an aneurysm.

  "Dad, are you all right?""You are going out with Edward Cullen?" he thundered.

  Uh-oh. "I thought you liked the Cullens.""He's too old for you," he ranted.

  "We're both juniors," I corrected, though he was more right than hedreamed.

  "Wait…" He paused. "Which one is Edwin?""Edward is the youngest, the one with the reddish brown hair." Thebeautiful one, the godlike one…"Oh, well, that's" — he struggled — "better, I guess. I don't like thelook of that big one. I'm sure he's a nice boy and all, but he looks too…mature for you. Is this Edwin your boyfriend?""It's Edward, Dad.""Is he?""Sort of, I guess.""You said last night that you weren't interested in any of the boys intown." But he picked up his fork again, so I could see the worst was over.

  "Well, Edward doesn't live in town, Dad."He gave me a disparaging look as he chewed.

  "And, anyways," I continued, "it's kind of at an early stage, you know.

  Don't embarrass me with all the boyfriend talk, okay?" "When is he coming over?""He'll be here in a few minutes.""Where is he taking you?"I groaned loudly. "I hope you're getting the Spanish Inquisition out ofyour system now. We're going to play baseball with his family."His face puckered, and then he finally chuckled. "You're playingbaseball?""Well, I'll probably watch most of the time.""You must really like this guy," he observed suspiciously.

  I sighed and rolled my eyes for his benefit.

  I heard the roar of an engine pull up in front of the house. I jumped upand started cleaning my dishes.

  "Leave the dishes, I can do them tonight. You baby me too much."The doorbell rang, and Charlie stalked off to answer it. I was half astep behind him.

  I hadn't realized how hard it was pouring outside. Edward stood in thehalo of the porch light, looking like a male model in an advertisementfor raincoats.

  "Come on in, Edward."I breathed a sigh of relief when Charlie got his name right.

  "Thanks, Chief Swan," Edward said in a respectful voice.

  "Go ahead and call me Charlie. Here, I'll take your jacket.""Thanks, sir.""Have a seat there, Edward."I grimaced.

  Edward sat down fluidly in the only chair, forcing me to sit next toChief Swan on the sofa. I quickly shot him a dirty look. He winked behindCharlie's back.

  "So I hear you're getting my girl to watch baseball." Only in Washingtonwould the fact that it was raining buckets have no bearing at all on theplaying of outdoor sports.

  "Yes, sir, that's the plan." He didn't look surprised that I'd told myfather the truth. He might have been listening, though.

  "Well, more power to you, I guess."Charlie laughed, and Edward joined in.

  "Okay." I stood up. "Enough humor at my expense. Let's go." I walked backto the hall and pulled on my jacket. They followed.

  "Not too late, Bell.""Don't worry, Charlie, I'll have her home early," Edward promised.

  "You take care of my girl, all right?"I groaned, but they ignored me.

  "She'll be safe with me, I promise, sir." Charlie couldn't doubt Edward's sincerity, it rang in every word.

  I stalked out. They both laughed, and Edward followed me.

  I stopped dead on the porch. There, behind my truck, was a monster Jeep.

  Its tires were higher than my waist. There were metal guards over theheadlights and tail-lights, and four large spotlights attached to thecrash bar. The hardtop was shiny red.

  Charlie let out a low whistle.

  "Wear your seat belts," he choked out.

  Edward followed me around to my side and opened the door. I gauged thedistance to the seat and prepared to jump for it. He sighed, and thenlifted me in with one hand. I hoped Charlie didn't notice.

  As he went around to the driver's side, at a normal, human pace, I triedto put on my seat belt. But there were too many buckles.

  "What's all this?" I asked when he opened the door.

  "It's an off-roading harness.""Uh-oh."I tried to find the right places for all the buckles to fit, but itwasn't going too quickly. He sighed again and reached over to help me. Iwas glad that the rain was too heavy to see Charlie clearly on the porch.

  That meant he couldn't see how Edward's hands lingered at my neck,brushed along my collarbones. I gave up trying to help him and focused onnot hyperventilating.

  Edward turned the key and the engine roared to life. We pulled away fromthe house.

  "This is a… um… big Jeep you have.""It's Emmett's. I didn't think you'd want to run the whole way.""Where do you keep this thing?""We remodeled one of the outbuildings into a garage.""Aren't you going to put on your seat belt?"He threw me a disbelieving look.

  Then something sunk in.

  "Run the whole way? As in, we're still going to run part of the way?" Myvoice edged up a few octaves.

  He grinned tightly. "You're not going to run.""I'm going to be sick.""Keep your eyes closed, you'll be fine."I bit my lip, fighting the panic.

  He leaned over to kiss the top of my head, and then groaned. I looked athim, puzzled.

  "You smell so good in the rain," he explained.

  "In a good way, or in a bad way?" I asked cautiously.

  He sighed. "Both, always both."I don't know how he found his way in the gloom and downpour, but hesomehow found a side road that was less of a road and more of a mountain path. For a long while conversation was impossible, because I wasbouncing up and down on the seat like a jackhammer. He seemed to enjoythe ride, though, smiling hugely the whole way.

  And then we came to the end of the road; the trees formed green walls onthree sides of the Jeep. The rain was a mere drizzle, slowing everysecond, the sky brighter through the clouds.

  "Sorry, Bella, we have to go on foot from here.""You know what? I'll just wait here.""What happened to all your courage? You were extraordinary this morning.""I haven't forgotten the last time yet." Could it have been onlyyesterday?

  He was around to my side of the car in a blur. He started unbuckling me.

  "I'll get those, you go on ahead," I protested.

  "Hmmm…" he mused as he quickly finished. "It seems I'm going to have totamper with your memory."Before I could react, he pulled me from the Jeep and set my feet on theground. It was barely misting now; Alice was going to be right.

  "Tamper with my memory?" I asked nervously.

  "Something like that." He was watching me intently, carefully, but therewas humor deep in his eyes. He placed his hands against the Jeep oneither side of my head and leaned forward, forcing me to press backagainst the door. He leaned in even closer, his face inches from mine. Ihad no room to escape.

  "Now," he breathed, and just his smell disturbed my thought processes,"what exactly are you worrying about?""Well, um, hitting a tree —" I gulped "— and dying. And then gettingsick."He fought back a smile. Then he bent his head down and touched his coldlips softly to the hollow at the base of my throat.

  "Are you still worried now?" he murmured against my skin.

  "Yes." I struggled to concentrate. "About hitting trees and getting sick."His nose drew a line up the skin of my throat to the point of my chin.

  His cold breath tickled my skin.

  "And now?" His lips whispered against my jaw.

  "Trees," I gasped. "Motion sickness."He lifted his face to kiss my eyelids. "Bella, you don't really think Iwould hit a tree, do you?""No, but I might." There was no confidence in my voice. He smelled aneasy victory.

  He kissed slowly down my cheek, stopping just at the corner of my mouth.

  "Would I let a tree hurt you?" His lips barely brushed against mytrembling lower lip.

  "No," I breathed. I knew there was a second part to my brilliant defense,but I couldn't quite call it back.

  "You see," he said, his lips moving against mine. "There's nothing to beafraid of, is there?" "No," I sighed, giving up.

  Then he took my face in his hands almost roughly, and kissed me inearnest, his unyielding lips moving against mine.

  There really was no excuse for my behavior. Obviously I knew better bynow. And yet I couldn't seem to stop from reacting exactly as I had thefirst time. Instead of keeping safely motionless, my arms reached up totwine tightly around his neck, and I was suddenly welded to his stonefigure. I sighed, and my lips parted.

  He staggered back, breaking my grip effortlessly.

  "Damn it, Bella!" he broke off, gasping. "You'll be the death of me, Iswear you will."I leaned over, bracing my hands against my knees for support.

  "You're indestructible," I mumbled, trying to catch my breath.

  "I might have believed that before I met you. Now let's get out of herebefore I do something really stupid," he growled.

  He threw me across his back as he had before, and I could see the extraeffort it took for him to be as gentle as he was. I locked my legs aroundhis waist and secured my arms in a choke hold around his neck.

  "Don't forget to close your eyes," he warned severely.

  I quickly tucked my face into his shoulder blade, under my own arm, andsqueezed my eyes shut.

  And I could hardly tell we were moving. I could feel him gliding alongbeneath me, but he could have been strolling down the sidewalk, themovement was so smooth. I was tempted to peek, just to see if he wasreally flying through the forest like before, but I resisted. It wasn'tworth that awful dizziness. I contented myself with listening to hisbreath come and go evenly.

  I wasn't quite sure we had stopped until he reached back and touched myhair.

  "It's over, Bella."I dared to open my eyes, and, sure enough, we were at a standstill. Istiffly unlocked my stranglehold on his body and slipped to the ground,landing on my backside.

  "Oh!" I huffed as I hit the wet ground.

  He stared at me incredulously, evidently not sure whether he was stilltoo mad to find me funny. But my bewildered expression pushed him overthe edge, and he broke into a roar of laughter.

  I picked myself up, ignoring him as I brushed the mud and bracken off theback of my jacket. That only made him laugh harder. Annoyed, I began tostride off into the forest.

  I felt his arm around my waist.

  "Where are you going, Bella?""To watch a baseball game. You don't seem to be interested in playinganymore, but I'm sure the others will have fun without you.""You're going the wrong way."I turned around without looking at him, and stalked off in the oppositedirection. He caught me again.

  "Don't be mad, I couldn't help myself. You should have seen your face."He chuckled before he could stop himself.

   "Oh, you're the only one who's allowed to get mad?" I asked, raising myeyebrows.

  "I wasn't mad at you.""'Bella, you'll be the death of me'?" I quoted sourly.

  "That was simply a statement of fact."I tried to turn away from him again, but he held me fast.

  "You were mad," I insisted.

  "Yes.""But you just said —""That I wasn't mad at you. Can't you see that, Bella?" He was suddenlyintense, all trace of teasing gone. "Don't you understand?""See what?" I demanded, confused by his sudden mood swing as much as hiswords.

  "I'm never angry with you — how could I be? Brave, trusting… warm as youare.""Then why?" I whispered, remembering the black moods that pulled him awayfrom me, that I'd always interpreted as well-justified frustration —frustration at my weakness, my slowness, my unruly human reactions…He put his hands carefully on both sides of my face. "I infuriatemyself," he said gently. "The way I can't seem to keep from putting youin danger. My very existence puts you at risk. Sometimes I truly hatemyself. I should be stronger, I should be able to —"I placed my hand over his mouth. "Don't."He took my hand, moving it from his lips, but holding it to his face.

  "I love you," he said. "It's a poor excuse for what I'm doing, but it'sstill true."It was the first time he'd said he loved me — in so many words. He mightnot realize it, but I certainly did.

  "Now, please try to behave yourself," he continued, and he bent to softlybrush his lips against mine.

  I held properly still. Then I sighed.

  "You promised Chief Swan that you would have me home early, remember?

  We'd better get going.""Yes, ma'am."He smiled wistfully and released all of me but one hand. He led me a fewfeet through the tall, wet ferns and draping moss, around a massivehemlock tree, and we were there, on the edge of an enormous open field inthe lap of the Olympic peaks. It was twice the size of any baseballstadium.

  I could see the others all there; Esme, Emmett, and Rosalie, sitting on abare outcropping of rock, were the closest to us, maybe a hundred yardsaway. Much farther out I could see Jasper and Alice, at least a quarterof a mile apart, appearing to throw something back and forth, but I neversaw any ball. It looked like Carlisle was marking bases, but could theyreally be that far apart?

  When we came into view, the three on the rocks rose.

  Esme started toward us. Emmett followed after a long look at Rosalie's back; Rosalie had risen gracefully and strode off toward the fieldwithout a glance in our direction. My stomach quivered uneasily inresponse.

  "Was that you we heard, Edward?" Esme asked as she approached.

  "It sounded like a bear choking," Emmett clarified.

  I smiled hesitantly at Esme. "That was him.""Bella was being unintentionally funny," Edward explained, quicklysettling the score.

  Alice had left her position and was running, or dancing, toward us. Shehurtled to a fluid stop at our feet. "It's time," she announced.

  As soon as she spoke, a deep rumble of thunder shook the forest beyondus, and then crashed westward toward town.

  "Eerie, isn't it?" Emmett said with easy familiarity, winking at me.

  "Let's go." Alice reached for Emmett's hand and they darted toward theoversized field; she ran like a gazelle. He was nearly as graceful andjust as fast — yet Emmett could never be compared to a gazelle.

  "Are you ready for some ball?" Edward asked, his eyes eager, bright.

  I tried to sound appropriately enthusiastic. "Go team!"He snickered and, after mussing my hair, bounded off after the other two.

  His run was more aggressive, a cheetah rather than a gazelle, and hequickly overtook them. The grace and power took my breath away.

  "Shall we go down?" Esme asked in her soft, melodic voice, and I realizedI was staring openmouthed after him. I quickly reassembled my expressionand nodded. Esme kept a few feet between us, and I wondered if she wasstill being careful not to frighten me. She matched her stride to minewithout seeming impatient at the pace.

  "You don't play with them?" I asked shyly.

  "No, I prefer to referee — I like keeping them honest," she explained.

  "Do they like to cheat, then?""Oh yes — you should hear the arguments they get into! Actually, I hopeyou don't, you would think they were raised by a pack of wolves.""You sound like my mom," I laughed, surprised.

  She laughed, too. "Well, I do think of them as my children in most ways.

  I never could get over my mothering instincts — did Edward tell you I hadlost a child?""No," I murmured, stunned, scrambling to understand what lifetime she wasremembering.

  "Yes, my first and only baby. He died just a few days after he was born,the poor tiny thing," she sighed. "It broke my heart — that's why Ijumped off the cliff, you know," she added matter-of-factly.

  "Edward just said you f-fell," I stammered.

  "Always the gentleman." She smiled. "Edward was the first of my new sons.

  I've always thought of him that way, even though he's older than I, inone way at least." She smiled at me warmly. "That's why I'm so happy thathe's found you, dear." The endearment sounded very natural on her lips.

  "He's been the odd man out for far too long; it's hurt me to see himalone.""You don't mind, then?" I asked, hesitant again. "That I'm… all wrong forhim?" "No." She was thoughtful. "You're what he wants. It will work out,somehow," she said, though her forehead creased with worry. Another pealof thunder began.

  Esme stopped then; apparently, we'd reached the edge of the field. Itlooked as if they had formed teams. Edward was far out in left field,Carlisle stood between the first and second bases, and Alice held theball, positioned on the spot that must be the pitcher's mound.

  Emmett was swinging an aluminum bat; it whistled almost untraceablythrough the air. I waited for him to approach home plate, but then Irealized, as he took his stance, that he was already there — farther fromthe pitcher's mound than I would have thought possible. Jasper stoodseveral feet behind him, catching for the other team. Of course, none ofthem had gloves.

  "All right," Esme called in a clear voice, which I knew even Edward wouldhear, as far out as he was. "Batter up."Alice stood straight, deceptively motionless. Her style seemed to bestealth rather than an intimidating windup. She held the ball in bothhands at her waist, and then, like the strike of a cobra, her right handflicked out and the ball smacked into Jasper's hand.

  "Was that a strike?" I whispered to Esme.

  "If they don't hit it, it's a strike," she told me.

  Jasper hurled the ball back to Alice's waiting hand. She permittedherself a brief grin. And then her hand spun out again.

  This time the bat somehow made it around in time to smash into theinvisible ball. The crack of impact was shattering, thunderous; it echoedoff the mountains — I immediately understood the necessity of thethunderstorm.

  The ball shot like a meteor above the field, flying deep into thesurrounding forest.

  "Home run," I murmured.

  "Wait," Esme cautioned, listening intently, one hand raised. Emmett was ablur around the bases, Carlisle shadowing him. I realized Edward wasmissing.

  "Out!" Esme cried in a clear voice. I stared in disbelief as Edwardsprang from the fringe of the trees, ball in his upraised hand, his widegrin visible even to me.

  "Emmett hits the hardest," Esme explained, "but Edward runs the fastest."The inning continued before my incredulous eyes. It was impossible tokeep up with the speed at which the ball flew, the rate at which theirbodies raced around the field.

  I learned the other reason they waited for a thunderstorm to play whenJasper, trying to avoid Edward's infallible fielding, hit a ground balltoward Carlisle. Carlisle ran into the ball, and then raced Jasper tofirst base. When they collided, the sound was like the crash of twomassive falling boulders. I jumped up in concern, but they were somehowunscathed.

  "Safe," Esme called in a calm voice.

  Emmett's team was up by one — Rosalie managed to flit around the basesafter tagging up on one of Emmett's long flies — when Edward caught thethird out. He sprinted to my side, sparkling with excitement.

  "What do you think?" he asked.

  "One thing's for sure, I'll never be able to sit through dull old Major League Baseball again.""And it sounds like you did so much of that before," he laughed.

  "I am a little disappointed," I teased.

  "Why?" he asked, puzzled.

  "Well, it would be nice if I could find just one thing you didn't dobetter than everyone else on the planet."He flashed his special crooked smile, leaving me breathless.

  "I'm up," he said, heading for the plate.

  He played intelligently, keeping the ball low, out of the reach ofRosalie's always-ready hand in the outfield, gaining two bases likelightning before Emmett could get the ball back in play. Carlisle knockedone so far out of the field — with a boom that hurt my ears — that he andEdward both made it in. Alice slapped them dainty high fives.

  The score constantly changed as the game continued, and they razzed eachother like any street ballplayers as they took turns with the lead.

  Occasionally Esme would call them to order. The thunder rumbled on, butwe stayed dry, as Alice had predicted.

  Carlisle was up to bat, Edward catching, when Alice suddenly gasped. Myeyes were on Edward, as usual, and I saw his head snap up to look at her.

  Their eyes met and something flowed between them in an instant. He was atmy side before the others could ask Alice what was wrong.

  "Alice?" Esme's voice was tense.

  "I didn't see — I couldn't tell," she whispered.

  All the others were gathered by this time.

  "What is it, Alice?" Carlisle asked with the calm voice of authority.

  "They were traveling much quicker than I thought. I can see I had theperspective wrong before," she murmured.

  Jasper leaned over her, his posture protective. "What changed?" he asked.

  "They heard us playing, and it changed their path," she said, contrite,as if she felt responsible for whatever had frightened her.

  Seven pairs of quick eyes flashed to my face and away.

  "How soon?" Carlisle said, turning toward Edward.

  A look of intense concentration crossed his face.

  "Less than five minutes. They're running — they want to play." He scowled.

  "Can you make it?" Carlisle asked him, his eyes flicking toward me again.

  "No, not carrying —" He cut short. "Besides, the last thing we need isfor them to catch the scent and start hunting.""How many?" Emmett asked Alice.

  "Three," she answered tersely.

  "Three!" he scoffed. "Let them come." The steel bands of muscle flexedalong his massive arms.

  For a split second that seemed much longer than it really was, Carlisledeliberated. Only Emmett seemed unperturbed; the rest stared atCarlisle's face with anxious eyes.

  "Let's just continue the game," Carlisle finally decided. His voice was cool and level. "Alice said they were simply curious."All this was said in a flurry of words that lasted only a few seconds. Ihad listened carefully and caught most of it, though I couldn't hear whatEsme now asked Edward with a silent vibration of her lips. I only saw theslight shake of his head and the look of relief on her face.

  "You catch, Esme," he said. "I'll call it now." And he planted himself infront of me.

  The others returned to the field, warily sweeping the dark forest withtheir sharp eyes. Alice and Esme seemed to orient themselves around whereI stood.

  "Take your hair down," Edward said in a low, even voice.

  I obediently slid the rubber band out of my hair and shook it out aroundme.

  I stated the obvious. "The others are coming now.""Yes, stay very still, keep quiet, and don't move from my side, please."He hid the stress in his voice well, but I could hear it. He pulled mylong hair forward, around my face.

  "That won't help," Alice said softly. "I could smell her across thefield.""I know." A hint of frustration colored his tone.

  Carlisle stood at the plate, and the others joined the game halfheartedly.

  "What did Esme ask you?" I whispered.

  He hesitated for a second before he answered. "Whether they werethirsty," he muttered unwillingly.

  The seconds ticked by; the game progressed with apathy now. No one daredto hit harder than a bunt, and Emmett, Rosalie, and Jasper hovered in theinfield. Now and again, despite the fear that numbed my brain, I wasaware of Rosalie's eyes on me. They were expressionless, but somethingabout the way she held her mouth made me think she was angry.

  Edward paid no attention to the game at all, eyes and mind ranging theforest.

  "I'm sorry, Bella," he muttered fiercely. "It was stupid, irresponsible,to expose you like this. I'm so sorry."I heard his breath stop, and his eyes zeroed in on right field. He took ahalf step, angling himself between me and what was coming.

  Carlisle, Emmett, and the others turned in the same direction, hearingsounds of passage much too faint for my ears.

第十七章 游戏

天刚刚开始下蒙蒙细雨时,爱德华把车开进了我家所在的街道。直到这一刻,我才能确信无疑,自己一直和他在一起,在真实的世界里度过了一段短暂的时光。

然后我看见了那辆黑色的车,那辆停在查理的车道上的,饱受风雨侵蚀的老福特——我听到爱德华在用一种低沉粗噶的声音在喃喃低语着一些莫名其妙的句子。

站在屋前的门廊里避雨的,是站在他父亲的轮椅旁的雅克布?布莱克。当爱德华把我的卡车停在路基上时,比利的脸冷硬得像石头。雅克布垂下了头,他的神情很是苦恼。

爱德华低沉的声音有些狂暴。“这是越界的行为。”

“他来警告查理?”我猜测着,与其说是愤怒,不如说是恐惧。

爱德华只是点点头,眯缝起眼睛隔着雨幕回敬比利的注视。

我感到一种心虚的宽慰,查理还没回家。

“让我来处理这件事。”我提议道。爱德华阴暗的瞪视让我不安起来。

让我惊讶的是,他同意了。“这也许是最好的办法。不过,要当心。那孩子毫不知情。”

我对“孩子”这个词有点介意。“雅克布没比我小多少。”我提醒他。

他随即看着我,他的愤怒骤然消失了。“哦,我知道了。”他咧嘴一笑,向我保证。

我叹息着,把手放到了门把手上。

“让他们进屋。”他命令道。“这样我就能离开了。我会在傍晚时过来。”

“你需要开我的卡车吗?”我主动提出,同时想着要怎么跟查理解释它的消失。

他转了转眼睛。“我走回家去都比这车快。”

“你不需要离开的。”我渴望地说道。

他对我阴沉着的脸一笑置之。“事实上,我确实不会离开的。在你把他们赶走以后”——他阴沉地怒视了一眼布莱克一家的方向——“你还是得让查理准备好会见你的新男友。”他开心地咧嘴一笑,露出他全部的皓齿。

我呻吟道。“非常感谢。”

他露出我最爱的弯嘴坏笑。“我马上回来。”他保证道。他的眼睛飞快地瞥了一眼门廊的方向,然后他倚过来,飞快地吻了我一下,就在我下巴的边缘。我的心立刻狂热地跳了起来。而我也瞥了一眼门廊。比利不再是面无表情,他的手紧紧地握住轮椅的扶手。

“马上。”我强调着,打开门,走进雨里。

当我小跑着穿过毛毛细雨冲向门廊时,我能感觉到他的目光一直落在我的背上。

“嘿,比利。嗨,雅克布。”我尽可能爽朗地和他们打招呼。“查理今天出去了——我希望你们没有等太久。”

“不是很久。”比利耐着性子答道。他黑色的眼睛咄咄逼人。“我只是想把这个带来。”他指了指膝上的那个棕色纸袋。

“谢谢。”我说道,尽管我根本不知道那会是什么。“你们为什么不进来坐会儿,把自己弄干呢?”

当我开门的时候,我装作浑然不觉他紧张的监视,然后挥手示意他们走在我前头。

“来吧,让我来拿这个。”我主动说着,转身关上门。我允许自己最后再看一眼爱德华,他依然等在那里,一动不动,他的眼神很严肃。

“你最好把它放到冰箱离去。”比利把纸盒子递给我,提醒道。“这是一些哈利?克里尔沃特家自制的煎鱼——查理的最爱。冰箱能让它保持干燥。”他耸耸肩。
“谢谢,”我重复道,但这次是真诚的感谢。“我已经想不出新的做鱼的方法了,可他今晚还会带更多的鱼回家。”

“又去钓鱼了?”比利问道,眼里闪过一丝微妙的亮光。“还在那个老地方?也许我可以开车过去看他。”

“不,”我立刻撒谎道,我的脸严峻起来。“他去了一个新地方……但我不知道在哪里。”

他把我的表情变化看在了眼里,这让他深思起来。

“杰可,”他说着,依然审视着我。“你为什么不回车里把瑞贝卡的新照片拿过来?我想把它也留给查理。”

“放在哪里?”雅克布问道,他的声音显得很郁闷。我看了他一眼,但他一直盯着地面,他的眉毛蹙在一起。

“我想我在那辆卡车里看见了。”比利说道。“你得去把它挖出来。”

雅克布无精打采地走出屋外,走回雨中。

比利和我沉默地对峙着。几秒钟以后,这种静寂开始变得尴尬起来,所以我转过身去,径直走向厨房。我能听到他跟着我,湿漉漉的轮椅碾过地上铺着的油毯发出吱吱声。

我把纸包塞进冰箱拥挤的上格,旋即转身与他对峙着。他棱角分明的脸上有着无法读懂的神情。

“查理得很久以后才会回来。”我的语气几近粗鲁。

他同意地点了点头,但什么也没说。

“再次感谢你的煎鱼。”我暗示道。

他继续点头,我叹了口气,把胳膊交叠在胸前。

他似乎感觉到我已经放弃了与他闲谈。“贝拉。”他说完,又踌躇了起来。

我等待着。

“贝拉,”他再次说道。“查理是我最好的朋友之一。”

“是的。”

他用他隆隆的嗓音小心地说着每个字。“我注意到,你经常和卡伦家的其中一个成员待在一起。”

“是的。”我简短地重复着。

他的眼睛眯缝起来。“也许这与我无关,但我不认为这是个好主意。”

“你是对的,”我赞同道。“这与你无关。”

听到我这样的语气,他扬起了灰白的眉毛。“你也许不知道这一点,但卡伦家在保留区声名狼藉。”

“确实,我不清楚这一点,”我用一种生硬的口吻告诉他。这让他大吃一惊。“但那种评价并不值得赞同,对吗?因为卡伦一家根本从未踏入过保留区,对吧?”我能看出,我不着痕迹地暗示了那个既束缚了他的部落,也保护着他的部落的协议,顿时阻止了他。

“这倒是真的。”他同意道,他的眼睛充满了提防。“你似乎……很了解卡伦一家。比我意料之中的还要了解。”

我俯视着他。“也许比你更熟知内情。”

他仔细地思索着,皱起他厚厚的嘴唇。“也许。”他认可道,但他的眼神很狡猾。“查理也熟知内情吗?”

他找到了我的盔甲上脆弱的缝隙。

“查理很喜欢卡伦一家。”我兜着圈子答道。他无疑明白了我在逃避。他的表情很不高兴,但并不讶异。

“这与我无关,”他说道。“但这也许和查理有关。”

“不管我是否认为这与查理有关,这始终是我自己的事,对吗?”

我努力不作出任何让步,我想知道他是否理解了我令人困惑的问题。但他似乎明白了。他思索着,雨水打在屋顶上,成为打破这片沉默的唯一的声音。

“是的。”他最终投降了。“我猜这也是你自己的事。”

我如释重负地叹了口气。“谢谢,比利。”

“不过要好好想想你正在做的事,贝拉。”他极力催促道。

“好吧。”我飞快地赞同道。

他皱起眉。“我的意思是说,不要做你正在做的事。”

我看着他的眼睛,他眼里只有对我的关心,我什么也说不出来。

就在这时,前门砰地一声响起来,我被这声音吓了一跳。
“车里根本没有什么照片。”雅克布人还没到,抱怨声就传来了。他转过拐角时,他肩上的恤衫被雨打湿了,他的头发滴着水。(此人在偷听。。。)

“呃嗯,”比利咕哝着,忽然从我身边走开,把他的轮椅转过去面对着他的儿子。“我猜我把它落在家里了。”

雅克布使劲翻了翻眼睛。“很好。”

“嗯,贝拉,告诉查理”——比利停顿一下,继续说道——“就说我们来过,我是说。”

“我会的。”我喃喃低语道。

雅克布很吃惊。“我们要走了吗?”

“查理出去了,要很晚才能回来。”比利解释着,摇着轮椅越过雅克布。

“哦,”雅克布看上去很失望。“好吧,那么,我猜我们只能回见了,贝拉。”

“当然,”我赞同道。

“当心。”比利警告我。我没有会的。

雅克布帮助他父亲越过门槛。我简短地挥了挥手,飞快地瞥了一眼我空荡荡的卡车,然后在他们离开以前关上了门。

我在走廊里站了一分钟,听着他们把车倒出去然后开走的声音。我待在原地,等着自己的愤怒和焦虑平息下来。当我的紧张终于稍微褪色的时候,我冲上楼,换下自己考究的衣着。

我换了好几套不同的搭配,还是不能确定今晚应该穿什么。当我把注意力集中在将要发生的事上时,刚刚发生的一切变得无关紧要起来。一旦我脱离了贾斯帕和爱德华的影响,我就开始补上刚才没惊吓的份了。我立刻放弃挑选出一套外出服的打算——随便丢了一件旧的法兰绒恤衫和一条牛仔裤——知道自己整夜都会待在自己的雨衣里。

电话响了起来,我冲下楼去接。我想听的声音只有一个,任何别的声音都会令我失望。但我知道如果他想和我说话的话,他也许会直接出现在我的房间里。

“你好?”我屏住呼吸,问道。

“贝拉?是我。”杰西卡说道。

“哦,嗨,杰西。”我挣扎了片刻,才回到现实中来。感觉像是我有几个月而不是几天没和杰西说话了。“舞会怎么样了?”

“非常有趣!”杰西卡滔滔不绝地说道。无需更进一步的邀请,她就开始一五一十地讲述起前天晚上的所有细节。我在恰当的时候“嗯嗯”和“啊啊”,但很难专心。杰西卡,迈克,舞会,学校——此时此刻,这一切似乎都陌生得不可思议。我的眼睛不停地瞟着窗外,试图从厚重的云层里看出天色的早晚。

“你听到我说的了吗,贝拉?”杰西恼怒地问道。

“抱歉,什么?”

“我说,迈克吻了我!你能相信吗?”

“太棒了,杰西。”我说道。

“那么,你昨天做了什么?”杰西卡问道,听起来还在为我的心不在焉而恼怒着。或许她只是有些失落,因为我没有问起更加详细的细节。

“没做什么,真的。我只是在外头晃悠,享受阳光。”

我听到查理的车开进车库的声音。

“你听到任何关于爱德华?卡伦的最新消息了吗?”

前门被砰地关上了,我听到查理在楼梯底下乒乒乓乓地收拾着他的装备。

“呃嗯。”我迟疑着,不敢肯定要怎么掰我的故事。

“嗨,你在啊,孩子!”查理一边走进厨房,一边喊道。我向他招了招手。

杰西听到了他的声音。“哦,你爸在啊。没关系——我们明天再聊。三角函数课上见。”

“回见,杰西。”我挂上了电话。

“嗨,爸爸。”我说道。他在水槽里擦洗着手。“鱼在哪里?”

“我放进冰箱里了。”

“我得抢在它们被冻起来以前拿点出来——下午时比利来过,带了一点哈利?克里尔沃特的煎鱼来。”我努力让自己听起来热情些。

“真的?”查理的眼睛发亮了。“那是我的最爱。”
在我准备晚餐的时候,查理动手把自己收拾干净。没过多久,我们俩就坐在了桌旁,沉默地吃着晚餐。查理很喜欢今晚的菜式。我则在拼命地想着要怎样进行自己的安排,挣扎着想要找出一种引出话题的办法。

“你今天一个人都做了些什么?”他问道,猛地把我从沉思里拉了出来。

“嗯,今天下午我只是在屋外到处转了转……”事实上,只是在下午很晚的时候。我试图让自己的声音显得很快乐,但我实在是有些心虚。(my stomach was hollow……)“还有今天早上,我去了卡伦家。”

查理的叉子掉了下来。

“卡伦医生那里?”他惊愕地问道。

我假装没注意到他的反应。“是的。”

“你去那里做什么?”他没有捡起他的叉子。

“嗯,我今晚跟爱德华?卡伦算是有个约会,而他想先把我介绍给他的父母……爸爸?”

查理看上去像是得了动脉瘤。

“爸爸,你还好吧?”

“你要和爱德华?卡伦出去?”他怒吼道。

啊噢。“我还以为你喜欢卡伦家的人。”

“他对你来说太老了。”他怒气冲冲地叫嚷着。

“我们都是高中生。”我更正道,虽然他比他料到的还要正确。

“等等……”他顿了顿。“哪个是埃德温?”

“爱德华是最小的那个,长着红棕色头发的那个。”最俊美的那个,最像天神的那个……

“哦,好吧,那”——他挣扎着——“好多了,我猜。我不喜欢那个老大的长相。我相信他各方面都是个不错的男孩,但他看上去太……对你来说,太成熟了。那个埃德温是你的男朋友吗?”

“是爱德华,爸爸。”

“他是吗?”

“我猜,某种程度上,是的。”

“你昨晚还说着你对镇上的男孩都没有兴趣。”但他又拿起了他的叉子,所以我知道最难熬的那段已经过去了。

“嗯,爱德华不住在镇上,爸爸。”

他咀嚼着,轻蔑地看了我一眼。

“还有,无论如何,”我继续说道。“我们才刚刚开始,你知道的。别再说什么男朋友不男朋友的,这太让我难为情了,”

“他要过来吗?”

“他几分钟后到。”

“他要带你去哪里?”

我大声地呻吟道。“我希望你已经把那种西班牙宗教法庭式的审讯方式从你脑子里丢开了。(Spanish Inquisition 西班牙宗教法庭,1480-1834年的天主教法庭,以残酷迫害异端著称)我们要去和他家里人一起打棒球。”

他皱起脸,最终轻笑起来。“你要打棒球?”

“嗯,大部分时间我可能会都在当观众。”

“你一定很喜欢那家伙。”他猜疑地评价道。

我叹息着,为着他的缘故,只是翻了翻白眼。

我听到从屋前传来的引擎的轰鸣声。我跳起来,开始收拾餐具。

“别管那些盘子,今晚我来收拾。你也太把我当孩子了。”

门铃响了起来,查理大步走过去开门。我只比他快了半步。

我完全没有注意到,屋外正下着倾盆大雨。爱德华站在门廊的灯光下,看上去像是雨衣广告里的男模特。

“进来吧,爱德华。”

我如释重负地松了口气,这次查理终于把他的名字念对了。

“谢谢,史温警长。”爱德华毕恭毕敬地说道。

“进来,叫我查理就行,我来拿你的外套。”

“谢谢,先生。”

“坐吧,爱德华。”

我扮了个鬼脸。

爱德华毫不犹豫地坐到了唯一的一张椅子上,逼得我只好过去和查理一起坐在沙发上。我飞快地狠狠瞪了他一眼。他在查理背后使了个眼色。
“那么,我听说你要带我的女儿去看棒球。”只有在华盛顿,外面下着倾盆大雨的事实才会对参加户外运动毫无影响。

“是的,先生。计划是这样的。”他看上去毫不惊讶于我居然把实情告诉了我爸爸。不过,他也许早就听到了。

“嗯,我猜,我得祝你大大的好运了。”

查理大笑起来,而爱德华也跟着笑了起来。

“好了。”我站起来。“拿我寻开心也该适可而止了。我们走吧。”我走回前厅,穿上我的外套。他们都跟着走了过来。

“别待太晚,贝拉。”

“别担心,查理,我一定会早早把她送回家。”爱德华保证道。

“照顾好我女儿,好吗?”

我呻吟起来,但他们都无视我。

“她跟我在一起会很安全的,我保证,先生。”

查理根本无法质疑爱德华的诚意,他说出的每一个字都饱含着诚挚。

我大步走出屋外。他们都大笑起来,爱德华跟着我走出来。

我停在门廊里,愣住了。那里,就在我的卡车后面,停着一辆庞然大物般的越野车。它的轮胎比我的腰还高。车的前灯和尾灯周围都围着金属护栏,防撞栏上安装着四个巨大的探照灯。这辆车子是耀眼的火红色。

查理低低地吹了一声口哨。

“系上你的安全带。”他憋出几个字来。

爱德华跟着我走到乘客座旁,把门打开了。我估量着自己跟座位的距离,准备跳上去。他叹了口气,然后单手把我举了起来。我希望查理没有注意到这点。

然后,他用一种正常的人类的速度走回驾驶座。我试图系上自己的安全带。但这安全带的系扣太多了。

“这些都是什么东西?”当他打开车门的时候,我问道。

“这是越野车专用安全带。”

“噢-哦。”

我试图找出每对系扣的正确搭配,但进度实在是太慢了。他又叹了口气,伸过手来帮我。我很高兴这雨吓得太大,没法看清楚站在门廊里的查理。这也意味着他看不见爱德华的双手是怎样在我的脖子上流连着,轻触着我的锁骨。我放弃帮他的忙,全神贯注地稳住自己的呼吸。

爱德华拧动车匙,引擎轰鸣着发动起来。我们把车从屋前开走了。

“你有一辆……呃……很大的越野车。”

“这是艾美特的。我认为你不想一路上都用跑的。”

“你们把车停在哪里?”

“我们把其中一间外屋改建成了车库。”

“你不打算系上你的安全带吗?”

他用质疑的眼神看着我。

然后某件事闯入了我的脑海。

“一路上都用跑的?这就是说,我们还得跑上一段路吗?”我的声音不知不觉提高了八个音阶。

他紧张地咧嘴一笑。“你不必跑。”

“我会晕过去的。”

“把眼睛闭上,你会没事的。”

我咬住唇,竭力抑制住恐惧。

他侧过身来,吻了吻我的头顶,然后叹息起来。我困惑地看着他。

“雨里的你闻起来很不错。”他解释道。

“这是好事,还是坏事?”我谨慎地问道。

他叹了口气。“两者都有,通常都是两者都有。”
我不知道他是怎么在一片黑暗和倾盆大雨里找着路的,但他终究找到了一条辅路,与其说是马路,不如说是山间小路。有很长一段时间我们根本没办法谈话,因为我一直像只手提钻一样在座位上弹上弹下。不过,他似乎很喜欢在这样的路上开车,一路上他都在大笑着。

然后,我们到达了路的尽头。树木筑成了绿色的藩篱,围绕在越野车的三侧。雨每一秒都在减弱,已经变成了一种毛毛细雨,云层后的天空变得稍微明亮些了。

“抱歉,贝拉,从这里开始我们就得走过去了。”

“你知道我怎么打算吗?我会在这里等你。”

“你的勇气都到哪里去了?今天早上你还特别勇敢的。”

“我可还没忘记上次的事。”这居然还是昨天刚刚发生的事?

他一阵风似的绕到我身旁。他开始解开我的安全带。

“我自己来,你去吧。”我竭力主张道。

“呃嗯……”他一边飞快地解开所有系扣,一边若有所思地说道。“也许我得修改一下你的记忆。”

我还没反应过来,他已经把我拉出车外,让我落到地上。现在雨已经变成蒙蒙细雨了。爱丽丝是对的。

“修改我的记忆?”我提心吊胆地问道。

“类似于这样的事情。”他专注地看着我,但他的眼里有着浓浓的调侃。他把手撑在越野车上,落在我的头的两侧,然后向我侧下身来,逼得我紧靠在了门上。他的脸离我的脸只有几英寸远。我根本无路可逃。

“现在,”他轻声说着,他的气息完全打乱了我的思路。“你到底在担心着什么?”

“嗯,呃,撞到树上——”我吞咽了一下“——撞死,还有眩晕。”

他报以一笑。他低下头,用冰冷的唇温柔地吻着我的颈窝。

“现在,你还在担心么?”他贴着我的肌肤,喃喃低语道。

“是的。”我挣扎着继续说道。“担心撞树和晕眩。”

他的鼻子轻轻地贴着我的肌肤,从我的喉咙一路滑到我的下颌。他冰冷的呼吸呵在我的肌肤上,有点儿痒。

“那现在呢?”他的唇贴住我的下颌,耳语着。

“树,”我喘息着说。“运动症。”
他低下头,吻着我的眼睑。“贝拉,你不会真的认为我会撞到树上吧,对吗?”

“不,但我也许会。”我的声音里毫无自信。他嗅到了胜利在望的味道。

他慢慢地,一路往下吻着我的脸颊,恰好停在了我的嘴角上。

“我会让你撞到树上吗?”他的唇轻轻地刷过我微微颤抖着的下唇。

“不,”我喘息着说。我知道如果我要很好地反击的话,我还得补上一句。但我实在说不出来。

然后,他几近粗暴地捧起我的脸,如痴如醉地吻着我,他坚硬的唇摩挲着我的唇。

我实在找不到借口为自己的行为解脱。显然事到如今我已经比上次更清楚这样做的后果了,但我还是情不自禁地像第一次那样做出反应。我没有安全地待在那里一动不动,而是伸出胳膊紧紧地缠住他的脖子,然后忽然贴上了他大理石般的五官。我喘息着,张开了唇。

他摇摇晃晃地退开,毫不费力地挣脱了我的紧握。

“该死,贝拉!”他挣脱出来,喘着气说道。“我发誓,我迟早会死在你手里的
我弯下身子,用手撑着膝盖稳住自己。

“你不会死的。”我咕哝着说道,试图稳住自己的呼吸。

“在遇见你之前,我本来是很相信这一点的。现在,在我真的做出什么蠢事以前,让我们离开这儿。”

他像之前一样把我扔到了背上,我看到出来,为了跟原来一样温柔他格外费了点劲。我把腿交缠在他腰上,胳膊紧紧地扣住他的脖子。

“别忘了闭上眼睛。”他严厉地警告道。

我飞快地把头贴住他的肩胛骨,埋在自己的胳膊下,然后紧紧地闭上了眼睛。
我几乎没有感觉到我们在移动。我只能感觉到他在我下面滑行着,但他就像是在人行道上溜达一样,动作很平稳。我心痒痒的,想要偷看一眼,想知道他是不是真的像之前那样飞跃过丛林,但我抵至住了这种诱或。不值得为这事再来一回可怕的眩晕。我让自己满足于听着他平稳的呼吸。

我不太能肯定我们是否已经停下来了,直到他伸过手抚着我的发。

“已经结束了,贝拉。”

我壮着胆子睁开了眼,然后确定,我们确实停下来了。我笨拙地松开把他箍得死死的四肢,滑落到地上,仰躺在那里。

“噢!”当我撞到潮湿的地上时,我愤怒地喊道。

他怀疑地看着我,显然还不能肯定自己是否还在生气,是否还有心情拿我寻开心。但我不知所措的表情推了他一把,他终于撑不住狂笑起来。

我自己挣扎着站起来,不去理会他,只是把外套后面的泥泞和蕨类植物拍掉。这让他笑得更凶了。我气恼地大步走进密林里。

我感觉到他的胳膊环住了我的腰。

“你要去哪里,贝拉?”

“去看棒球赛。你好像对打球没什么兴趣了,但我敢肯定就算没有你别人也能玩得很开心的。” 
 “你走错方向了。”

我转过身,看也不看他,高视阔步地向相反的方向走去。他又拉住了我。

“别生气,我只是一时情难自禁。你真应该看看你自己的脸。”他轻笑着,好不容易才按捺住笑意。

“哦,就许你一个人生气?”我扬起眉毛,问道。

“我没在生你的气。”

“‘贝拉,我会死在你手里的’?”我酸溜溜地引述他的话。

“这只是就事论事。”

我试图转身再次挣脱他,但他眼疾手快地抓住了我。

“你就是在生气。”我坚持说道。

“是的。”

“可你才说着——”

“我不是在生你的气。你看不出来吗,贝拉?”他忽然紧绷起来,所有调侃的痕迹都消失了。“你不明白吗?”

“明白什么?”我诘问道,他突如其来的心情变化和他说的话一样让我困惑。

“我从来不会对你生气——我怎么可能生你的气呢?你是这么的勇敢,坚信……温暖。”

“那是为什么?”我低声说着,记起了把他从我身旁拉开的那些阴暗的情绪,我一直把那解释为是一种情有可原的失望——对我的软弱,我的迟钝,我蛮不讲理的人类反应的失望……
他小心地用双手捧起了我的脸颊:“我是在生我自己的气,”他温柔地说着。“我气我自己总是无法控制自己,总是让你处于险境。我不同寻常的存在总是让你处于危险之中。有时候我真的很厌恶自己。我应该更强大些,我应该能——”

我用手掩住他的口。“别。”

他抓住我的手,从他的唇上拿开,却按在了自己的脸上。

“我爱你,”他说道。“这实在是一个蹩脚的借口,一个用来解释我所做的一切的借口,但这确实是真的。”

这是他第一次说他爱我——尽管还加上了这么多多余的话。他也许没有觉察到这一点,但我确实意识到了。

“现在,求你,试着做你自己。”他继续说着,弯下身子,温柔地用他的唇摩挲着我的唇。

我明智地保持一动不动。然后,我叹了口气。

“你向史温警长保证



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