something were to happen to my husband and me."
His eyes narrowed. "Are you expecting something to happen?" He blushed, then apologized. "Not that it's any of my business."
I watched the red flush spread behind the delicate membrane of his skin and was glad - as I often was - that I was not the average newborn. J seemed a nice enough man, criminal behavior aside, and it would have been a shame to kill him.
"You never know." I sighed.
He frowned. "May I wish you the best of luck, then. And please don't be put out with me, my dear, but... if Mr. Jasper should come to me and ask what names I put on these documents ..."
"Of course you should tell him immediately. I'd like nothing better than to have Mr. Jasper fully aware of our entire transaction."
My transparent sincerity seemed to ease a bit of his tension.
"Very good," he said. "And I can't prevail upon you to stay for dinner?"
"I'm sorry, J. I'm short on time at present."
"Then, again, my best wishes for your health and happiness. Anything at all the Cullen family needs, please don't hesitate to call on me, Bella."
"Thank you, J."
I left with my contraband, glancing back to see that J was staring after me, his expression a mixture of anxiety and regret.
The return trip took me less time. The night was black, and so I turned off my headlights and floored it. When I got back to the house, most of the cars, including Alice's Porsche and my Ferrari, were missing. The traditional vampires were going as far away as possible to satiate their thirst. I tried not to think of their hunting in the night, cringing at the mental picture of their victims.
Only Kate and Garrett were in the front room, arguing playfully about the nutritional value of animal blood. I inferred that Garrett had attempted a hunting trip vegetarian-style and found it difficult.
Edward must have taken Renesmee home to sleep. Jacob, no doubt, was in the woods close by the cottage. The rest of my family must have been hunting as well. Perhaps they were out with the other Denalis.
Which basically gave me the house to myself, and I was quick to take advantage.
I could smell that I was the first one to enter Alice and Jasper's room in a long while, maybe the first since the night they'd left us. I rooted silently through their huge closet until I found the right sort of bag. It must have been Alice's; it was a small black leather backpack, the kind that was usually used as a purse, little enough that even Renesmee could carry it without looking out of place. Then I raided their petty cash, taking about twice the yearly income for the average American household. I guessed my theft would be less noticeable here than anywhere else in the house, since this room made everyone sad. The envelope with the fake passports and IDs went into the bag on top of the money. Then I sat on the edge of Alice and Jasper's bed and looked at the pitifully insignificant
package that was all I could give my daughter and my best friend to help save their lives. I slumped against the bedpost, feeling helpless.
But what else could I do?
I sat there for several minutes with my head bowed before the inkling of a good idea came to me.
If I was to assume that Jacob and Renesmee were going to escape, then that included the assumption that Demetri would be dead. That gave any survivors a little breathing room, Alice and Jasper included.
So why couldn't Alice and Jasper help Jacob and Renesmee? If they were reunited, Renesmee would have the best protection imaginable. There was no reason why this couldn't happen, except for the fact that Jake and Renesmee both were blind spots for Alice. How would she begin to look for them?
I deliberated for a moment, then left the room, crossing the hall to Carlisle and Esme's suite. As usual, Esme's desk was stacked with plans and blueprints, everything neatly laid out in tall piles. The desk had a slew of pigeonholes above the work surface; in one was a box of stationery. I took a fresh sheet of paper and a pen.
Then I stared at the blank ivory page for a full five minutes, concentrating on my decision. Alice might not be able to see Jacob or Renesmee, but she could see me. I visualized her seeing this moment, hoping desperately that she wasn't too busy to pay attention.
Slowly, deliberately, I wrote the words RIO DE JANEIRO in all caps across the page.
Rio seemed the best place to send them: It was far away from here, Alice and Jasper were already in South America at last report, and it wasn't like our old problems had ceased to exist just because we had worse problems now. There was still the mystery of Renesmee's future, the terror of her racing age. We'd been headed south anyway. Now it would be Jacob's, and hopefully Alice's, job to search for the legends.
I bowed my head again against a sudden urge to sob, clenching my teeth together. It was better that Renesmee go on without me. But I already missed her so much I could barely stand it.
I took a deep breath and put the note at the bottom of the duffel bag, where Jacob would find it soon enough.
I crossed my fingers that - since it was unlikely that his high school offered Portuguese - Jake had at least taken Spanish as his language elective.
There was nothing left now but waiting.
For two days, Edward and Carlisle stayed in the clearing where Alice had seen the Volturi arrive. It was the same killing field where Victoria's newborns had attacked last summer. I wondered if it felt repetitive to Carlisle, like deja vu. For me, it would be all new. This time Edward and I would stand with our family.
We could only imagine that the Volturi would be tracking either Edward or Carlisle. I wondered if it would surprise them that their prey didn't run. Would that make them wary? I couldn't imagine the Volturi ever feeling a need for caution.
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