Renesmee reached for me, and I held my arms open. She launched herself into them, smelling strongly of werewolf, and nestled her head against my neck.
I didn't know if I could stand this. As much as I feared for my life, for Edward's, for the rest of my family's, it was not the same as the gut-wrenching terror I felt for my daughter. There had to be a way to save her, even if that was the only thing I could do.
Suddenly, I knew that this was all I wanted anymore. The rest I would bear if I had to, but not her life being forfeited. Not that.
She was the one thing I simply had to save.
Would Alice have known how I would feel?
Renesmee's hand touched my cheek lightly.
She showed me my own face, Edward's, Jacob's, Rosalie's, Esme's, Carlisle's, Alice's, Jasper's, flipping through all our family's faces faster and faster. Seth and Leah. Charlie, Sue, and Billy. Over and over again. Worrying, like the rest of us were. She was only worrying, though. Jake had kept the worst from her as far as I could tell. The part about how we had no hope, how we all were going to die in a month's time.
She settled on Alice's face, longing and confused. Where was Alice?
"I don't know," I whispered. "But she's Alice. She's doing the right thing, like always."
The right thing for Alice, anyway. I hated thinking of her that way, but how else could the situation be understood?
Renesmee sighed, and the longing intensified.
"I miss her, too."
I felt my face working, trying to find the expression that went with the grief inside. My eyes felt strange and dry; they blinked against the uncomfortable feeling. I bit my lip. When I took my next breath, the air hitched in my throat, like I was choking on it.
Renesmee pulled back to look at me, and I saw my face mirrored in her thoughts and in her eyes. I looked like Esme had this morning.
So this was what it felt like to cry.
Renesmee's eyes glistened wetly as she watched my face. She stroked my face, showing me nothing, just trying to soothe me.
I'd never thought to see the mother-daughter bond reversed between us, the way it had always been for Renee and me. But I hadn't had a very clear view of the future.
A tear welled up on the edge of Renesmee's eye. I wiped it away with a kiss. She touched her eye in amazement and then looked at the wetness on her fingertip.
"Don't cry," I told her. "It's going to be okay. You're going to be fine. I will find you a way through this."
If there was nothing else I could do, I would still save my Renesmee. I was more positive than ever that this was what Alice would give me. She would know. She would have left me a way.
There was so much to think about.
How was I going to find time alone to hunt down J. Jenks, and why did Alice want me to know about him?
If Alice's clue had nothing to do with Renesmee, what could I do to save my daughter?
How were Edward and I going to explain things to Tanya's family in the morning? What if they reacted like Irina? What if it turned into a fight?
I didn't know how to fight. How was I going to learn in just a month? Was there any chance at all that I could be taught fast enough that I might be a danger to any one member of the Volturi? Or was I doomed to be totally useless? Just another easily dispatched newborn?
So many answers I needed, but I did not get the chance to ask my questions.
Wanting some normality for Renesmee, I'd insisted on taking her home to our cottage at bedtime. Jacob was more comfortable in his wolf form at the moment; the stress was easier dealt with when he felt ready for a fight. I wished that I could feel the same, could feel ready. He ran in the woods, on guard again.
After she was deeply under, I put Renesmee in her bed and then went to the front room to ask my questions of Edward. The ones I was able to ask, at any rate; one of the most difficult of problems was the idea of trying to hide anything from him, even with the advantage of my silent thoughts.
He stood with his back to me, staring into the fire.
"Edward, I - "
He spun and was across the room in what seemed like no time at all, not even the smallest part of a second. I only had time to register the ferocious expression on his face before his lips were crushing against mine and his arms were locked around me like steel girders.
I didn't think of my questions again for the rest of that night. It didn't take long for me to grasp the reason for his
mood, and even less time to feel exactly the same way.
I'd been planning on needing years just to somewhat organize the overwhelming passion I felt for him physically. And then centuries after that to enjoy it. if we had only a month left together... Well, I didn't see how I could stand to have this end. For the moment I couldn't help but be selfish. All I wanted was to love him as much as possible in the limited time given to me.
It was hard to pull myself away from him when the sun came up, but we had our job to do, a job that might be more difficult than all the rest of our family's searches put together. As soon as I let myself think of what was coming, i was all tension; it felt like my nerves were being stretched on a rack, thinner and thinner.
"I wish there was a way to get the information we need from Eleazar before we tell them about Nessie," Edward muttered as we hurriedly dressed in the huge closet that was more reminder of Alice than I wanted at the moment. "Just in case."
"But he wouldn't understand the question to answer it," I agreed. "Do you think they'll let us explain?"
"I don't know."
I pulled Renesmee, still sleeping, from her bed and held her close so that her curls were pressed against my face; her sweet scent, so close, overpowered every other smell.
I couldn't waste one second of time today. There were answers I needed, and wasn't sure how much time Edward and I would have alone today. If all went well with Tanya's family, hopefully we would have company for an extended period.