Of course, there were drawbacks to it being Saturday. As I turned slowly and carefully onto my street, I could see my dad's police cruiser in the driveway of our home. He'd skipped fishing again today. Still sulking about the wedding.
So I wouldn't be able to use the phone inside. But I had to call___
I parked on the curb behind the Chevy sculpture and pulled the cell phone Edward had given me for emergencies out of the glove compartment. I dialed, keeping my finger on the "end" button as the phone rang. Just in case.
"Hello?" Seth Clearwater answered, and I sighed in relief. I was way too chicken to speak to his older sister, Leah. The phrase "bite my head off was not entirely a figure of speech when it came to Leah.
"Hey, Seth, it's Bella."
"Oh, hiya, Bella! How are you?"
Choked up. Desperate for reassurance. "Fine."
"Calling for an update?"
"Not hardly. I'm no Alice - you're just predictable," he joked. Among the Quileute pack down at La Push, only Seth was comfortable even mentioning the Cullens by name, let alone joking about things like my nearly omniscient sister-in-law-to-be.
"I know I am." I hesitated for a minute. "How is he?"
Seth sighed. "Same as ever. He won't talk, though we know he hears us. He's trying not to think human, you know. Just going with his instincts."
"Do you know where he is now?"
"Somewhere in northern Canada. I can't tell you which province. He doesn't pay much attention to state lines."
"Any hint that he might..."
"He's not coming home, Bella. Sorry."
I swallowed. "S'okay, Seth. I knew before I asked. I just can't help wishing."
"Yeah. We all feel the same way."
"Thanks for putting up with me, Seth. I know the others must give you a hard time."
"They're not your hugest fans," he agreed cheerfully. "Kind of lame, I think. Jacob made his choices, you made yours. Jake doesn't like their attitude about it. 'Course, he isn't super thrilled that you're checking up on him, either."
I gasped. "I thought he wasn't talking to you?"
"He can't hide everything from us, hard as he's trying."
So Jacob knew I was worried. I wasn't sure how I felt about that. Well, at least he knew I hadn't skipped off into the sunset and forgotten him completely. He might have imagined me capable of that.
"I guess I'll see you at the... wedding," I said, forcing the word out through my teeth.
"Yeah, me and my mom will be there. It was cool of you to ask us."
I smiled at the enthusiasm in his voice. Though inviting the Clearwaters had been Edward's idea, I was glad he'd thought of it. Having Seth there would be nice - a link, however tenuous, to my missing best man. "It wouldn't be the same without you."
"Tell Edward I said hi, 'kay?"
I shook my head. The friendship that had sprung up between Edward and Seth was something that still boggled my mind. It was proof, though, that things didn't have to be this way. That vampires and werewolves could get along just fine, thank you very much, if they were of a mind to.
Not everybody liked this idea.
"Ah," Seth said, his voice cracking up an octave. "Er, Leah's home."
The phone went dead. I left it on the seat and prepared myself mentally to go inside the house, where Charlie would be waiting.
My poor dad had so much to deal with right now. Jacob-the-runaway was just one of the straws on his overburdened back. He was almost as worried about me, his barely-a-legal-adult daughter who was about to become a Mrs. in just a few days' time.
I walked slowly through the light rain, remembering the night we'd told him___
As the sound of Charlie's cruiser announced his return, the ring suddenly weighed a hundred pounds on my finger. I wanted to shove my left hand in a pocket, or maybe sit on it, but Edward's cool, firm grasp kept it front and center.
"Stop fidgeting, Bella. Please try to remember that you're not confessing to a murder here."
"Easy for you to say."
I listened to the ominous sound of my father's boots clomping up the sidewalk. The key rattled in the already open door. The sound reminded me of that part of the horror movie when the victim realizes she's forgotten to lock herdeadbolt.
"Calm down, Bella," Edward whispered, listening to the acceleration of my heart.
The door slammed against the wall, and I flinched like I'd been Tasered.
"Hey, Charlie," Edward called, entirely relaxed.
"No!" I protested under my breath.
"What?" Edward whispered back.
"Wait till he hangs his gun up!"
Edward chuckled and ran his free hand through his tousled bronze hair.
Charlie came around the corner, still in his uniform, still armed, and tried not to make a face when he spied us sitting together on the loveseat. Lately, he'd been putting forth a lot of effort to like Edward more. Of course, this revelation was sure to end that effort immediately.
"Hey, kids. What's up?"
"We'd like to talk to you," Edward said, so serene. "We have some good news."
Charlie's expression went from strained friendliness to black suspicion in a second.
"Good news?" Charlie growled, looking straight at me.
"Have a seat, Dad."
He raised one eyebrow, stared at me for five seconds, then stomped to the recliner and sat down on the very edge, his back ramrod straight.
"Don't get worked up, Dad," I said after a moment of loaded silence. "Everything's okay."
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