Once Sam had understood how absolutely everything had changed, he'd come back with Jacob to talk to Carlisle. They'd spoken in human form (Edward had refused to leave my side to translate), and the treaty had been renewed. The friendly feeling of the relationship, however, might never be the same.

One big worry down.

But there was another that, though not as physically dangerous as an angry wolf pack, still seemed more urgent to me.


He'd spoken to Esme earlier this morning, but that hadn't kept him from calling again, twice, just a few minutes

ago while Carlisle treated Seth. Carlisle and Edward had let the phone ring.

What would be the right thing to tell him? Were the Cullens right? Was telling him that I'd died the best, the kindest way? Would I be able to lie still in a coffin while he and my mother cried over me?

tt didn't seem right to me. But putting Charlie or Renee in danger of the Volturi's obsession with secrecy was clearly out of the question.

There was still my idea - let Charlie see me, when I was ready for that, and let him make his own wrong assumptions. Technically, the vampire rules would remain unbroken. Wouldn't it be better for Charlie if he knew that I was alive - sort of - and happy? Even if I was strange and different and probably frighteningtohim?

My eyes, in particular, were much too frightening right now. How long before my self-control and my eye color were ready for Charlie?

"What's the matter, Bella?" Jasper asked quietly, reading my growing tension. "No one is angry with you" - alow snarl from the riverside contradicted him, but he ignored it - "or even surprised, really. Well, I suppose we are surprised. Surprised that you were able to snap out of it so quickly. You did well. Better than anyone expects of you."

While he was speaking, the room became very calm. Seth's breathing slipped into a low snore. Ifelt more peaceful, but I didn't forget my anxieties.

"I was thinking about Charlie, actually."

Out front, the bickering cut off.

"Ah," Jasper murmured.

"We really have to leave, don't we?" I asked. "For a while, at the very least. Pretend we're in Atlanta or something."

I could feel Edward's gaze locked on my face, but I looked at Jasper. He was the one who answered me in a grave tone.

"Yes. It's the only way to protect your father."

I brooded for a moment. "I'm going to miss him so much. I'll miss everyone here."

Jacob,I thought, despite myself. Though that yearning was both vanished and defined - and I was vastly relieved that it was - he was still my friend. Someone who knew the real me and accepted her. Even as a monster.

I thought about what Jacob had said, pleading with me before I'd attacked him. You said we belonged in each other's lives, right? That we were family. You said that was how you and I were supposed to be. So... now we are. It's what you wanted.

But it didn't feel like how I'd wanted it. Not exactly. I remembered further back, to the fuzzy, weak memories of my human life. Back to the very hardest part to remember - the time without Edward, a time so dark I'd tried to bury it in my head. I couldn't get the words exactly right; I only remembered wishing that Jacob were my brother so that we could love each other without any confusion or pain. Family. But I'd never factored a daughter into the equation.

I remembered a little later - one of the many times that I'd told Jacob goodbye - wondering aloud who he would end up with, who would make his life right after what I'd done to it. I had said something about how whoever she was,

she wouldn't be good enough for him.

I snorted, and Edward raised one eyebrow questioningly. I just shook my head at him.

But as much as I might miss my friend, I knew there was a bigger problem. Had Sam or Jared or Quil ever gone a whole day without seeing the objects of their fixations, Emily, Kim, and Claire? Could they? What would the separation from Renesmee do to Jacob? Would it cause him pain?

There was still enough petty ire in my system to make me glad, not for his pain, but for the idea of having Renesmee away from him. How was I supposed to deal with having her belong to Jacob when she only barely seemed to belong to me?

The sound of movement on the front porch interrupted my thoughts. I heard them get up, and then they were through the door. At exactly the same time, Carlisle came down the stairs with his hands full of odd things - a measuring tape, a scale. Jasper darted to my side. As if there was some signal I'd missed, even Leah sat down outside and stared through the window with an expression like she was expecting something that was both familiar and also totally uninteresting.

"Must be six," Edward said.

"So?" I asked, my eyes locked on Rosalie, Jacob, and Renesmee. They stood in the doorway, Renesmee in Rosalie's arms. Rose looked wary. Jacob looked troubled. Renesmee looked beautiful and impatient.

"Time to measure Ness - er, Renesmee," Carlisle explained.

"Oh. You do this every day?"

"Four times a day," Carlisle corrected absently as he motioned the others toward the couch. I thought I saw Renesmee sigh.

"Four times? Every day? Why?"

"She's still growing quickly," Edward murmured to me, his voice quiet and strained. He squeezed my hand, and his other arm wrapped securely around my waist, almost as if he needed the support.

I couldn't take my eyes off Renesmee to check his expression.

She looked perfect, absolutely healthy. Her skin glowed like backlit alabaster; the color in her cheeks was rose petals against it. There couldn't be anything wrong with such radiant beauty. Surely there could be nothing more dangerous in her life than her mother. Could there?

The difference between the child I'd given birth to and the one I'd met again an hour ago would have been obvious to anyone. The difference between Renesmee an hour ago and Renesmee now was subtler. Human eyes never would have detected it. But it was there.