as I pulled her gently toward me.
Jacob let his long arms stretch so that I could cradle her, but he didn't let go. He shuddered a little when our skin touched. His skin, always so warm to me before, felt like an open flame to me now. It was almost the same temperature as Renesmee's. Perhaps one or two degrees difference.
Renesmee seemed oblivious to the coolness of my skin, or at least very used to it.
She looked up and smiled at me again, showing her square little teeth and two dimples. Then, very deliberately, she reached for my face.
The moment she did this, all the hands on me tightened, anticipating my reaction. I barely noticed.
I was gasping, stunned and frightened by the strange, alarming image that filled my mind. It felt like a very strong memory - I could still see through my eyes while I watched it in my head - but it was completely unfamiliar. I stared through it to Renesmee's expectant expression, trying to understand what was happening, struggling desperately to hold on to my calm.
Besides being shocking and unfamiliar, the image was also wrong somehow - I almost recognized my own face in it, my old face, but it was off, backward. I grasped quickly that I was seeing my face as others saw it, rather than flipped in a reflection.
My memory face was twisted, ravaged, covered in sweat and blood. Despite this, my expression in the vision became an adoring smile; my brown eyes glowed over their deep circles. The image enlarged, my face came closer to the unseen vantage point, and then abruptly vanished.
Renesmee's hand dropped from my cheek. She smiled wider, dimpling again.
It was totally silent in the room but for the heartbeats. No one but Jacob and Renesmee was so much as breathing. The silence stretched on; it seemed like they were waiting for me to say something.
"What... was... that?" I managed to choke out.
"What did you see?" Rosalie asked curiously, leaning around Jacob, who seemed very much in the way and out of place at the moment. "What did she show you?"
"Srte showed me that?" I whispered.
"I told you it was hard to explain," Edward murmured in my ear. "But effective as means of communications go."
"What was it?" Jacob asked.
I blinked quickly several times. "Um. Me. I think. But I looked terrible."
"It was the only memory she had of you," Edward explained. It was obvious he'd seen what she was showing me as she thought of it. He was still cringing, his voice rough from reliving the memory. "She's letting you know that she's made the connection, that she knows who you are."
Renesmee seemed unconcerned with my boggling eyes. She was smiling slightly and pulling on a lock of my hair.
"How do I hear thoughts? How does Alice see the future?" Edward asked rhetorically, and then shrugged.
"It's an interesting twist," Carlisle said to Edward. "Like she's doing the exact opposite of what you can."
"Interesting," Edward agreed. "I wonder___"
I knew they were speculating away, but I didn't care. I was staring at the most beautiful face in the world. She was hot in my arms, reminding me of the moment when the blackness had almost won, when there was nothing in the world left to hold on to. Nothing strong enough to pull me through the crushing darkness. The moment when I'd thought of Renesmee and found something I would never let go of.
"I remember you, too," I told her quietly.
It seemed very natural to lean in and press my lips to her forehead. She smelled wonderful. The scent of her skin set my throat burning, but it was easy to ignore. It didn't strip the joy from the moment. Renesmee was real and I knew her. She was the same one I'd fought for from the beginning. My little nudger, the one who loved me from the inside, too. Half Edward, perfect and lovely. And half me - which, surprisingly, made her better rather than detracting.
I'd been right all along. She was worth the fight.
"She's fine," Alice murmured, probably to Jasper. I could feel them hovering, not trusting me.
"Haven't we experimented enough for one day?" Jacob asked, his voice a slightly higher pitch with stress. "Okay, Bella's doing great, but let's not push it."
I glared at him with real irritation. Jasper shuffled uneasily next to me. We were all crowded so close that every tiny movement seemed very big.
"What is your problem, Jacob?" I demanded. I tugged lightly against his hold on Renesmee, and he just stepped closer to me. He was pressed right up to me, Renesmee touching both of our chests.
Edward hissed at him. "Just because I understand, it doesn't mean I won't throw you out, Jacob. Bella's doing extraordinarily well. Don't ruin the moment for her."
"I'll help him toss you, dog," Rosalie promised, her voice seething. "I owe you a good kick in the gut." Obviously, there was no change in that relationship, unless it had gotten worse.
I glared at Jacob's anxious half-angry expression. His eyes were locked on Renesmee's face. With everyone pressed together, he had to be touching at least six different vampires at the moment, and it didn't even seem to bug him.
Would he really go through all this just to protect me from myself? What could have happened during my transformation - my alteration into something he hated - that would soften him so much toward the reason for its necessity?
I puzzled over it, watching him stare at my daughter. Staring at her like... like he was a blind man seeing the sun for the very first time.
Jasper's teeth came together and Edward's arms wrapped around my chest like constricting boas. Jacob had Renesmee out of my arms in the same second, and I did not try to hold on to her. Because I felt it coming - the snap