Either of those would be tricky - for me, that is. It would be hard to find them if they didn't want to be found. Of course, I had forever to look. If you had forever, you could check out every single piece of straw in the haystack, one by one, to see if it was the needle.

Right now, I wouldn't mind dismantling a haystack. At least that would be something to do. I hated knowing that I could be losing my chance. Giving the bloodsuckers the time to escape, if that was their plan.

We could go tonight. We could kill every one of them that we could find.

I liked that plan because I knew Edward well enough to know that, if I killed any one of his coven, I would get my chance at him, too. He'd come for revenge. And I'd give it to him - I wouldn't let my brothers take him down as a pack. It would be just him and me. May the better man win.

But Sam wouldn't hear of it. We're not going to break the treaty. Let them make the breach. Just because we had no proof that the Cullens had done anything wrong. Yet. You had to add the yet, because we all knew it was inevitable. Bella was either coming back one of them, or not coming back. Either way, a human life had been lost. And that meant game on.

In the other room, Paul brayed like a mule. Maybe he'd switched to a comedy. Maybe the commercial was funny. Whatever. It grated on my nerves.

I thought about breaking his nose again. But it wasn't Paul I wanted to fight with. Not really.

I tried to listen to other sounds, the wind in the trees, it wasn't the same, not through human ears. There were a million voices in the wind that I couldn't hear in this body.

But these ears were sensitive enough. I could hear past the trees, to the road, the sounds of the cars coming around that last bend where you could finally see the beach - the vista of the islands and the rocks and the big blue ocean stretching to the horizon. The La Push cops liked to hang out right around there. Tourists never noticed the reduced speed limit sign on the other side of the road.

I could hear the voices outside the souvenir shop on the beach. I could hear the cowbell clanging as the door opened and closed. I could hear Embry's mom at the cash register, printing out a receipt.

I could hear the tide raking across the beach rocks. I could hear the kids squeal as the icy water rushed in too fast for them to get out of the way. I could hear the moms complain about the wet clothes. And I could hear a familiar voice....

I was listening so hard that the sudden burst of Paul's donkey laugh made me jump half off the bed.

"Get out of my house," I grumbled. Knowing he wouldn't pay any attention, I followed my own advice. I wrenched open my window and climbed out the back way so that I wouldn't see Paul again. It would be

too tempting. I knew I would hit him again, and Rachel was going to be pissed enough already. She'd see the blood on his shirt, and she'd blame me right away without waiting for proof. Of course, she'd be right, but still.

I paced down to the shore, my fists in my pockets. Nobody looked at me twice when I went through the dirt lot by First Beach. That was one nice thing about summer - no one cared if you wore nothing but shorts.

I followed the familiar voice I'd heard and found Quil easy enough. He was on the south end of the crescent, avoiding the bigger part of the tourist crowd. He kept up a constant stream of warnings.

"Keep out of the water, Claire. C'mon. No, don't. Oh! Nice, kid. Seriously, do you want Emily to yell at me? I'm not bringing you back to the beach again if you don't - Oh yeah? Don't - ugh. You think that's funny, do you? Hah! Who's laughing now, huh?"

He had the giggling toddler by the ankle when I reached them. She had a bucket in one hand, and her jeans were drenched. He had a huge wet mark down the front of his t-shirt.

"Five bucks on the baby girl," I said.

"Hey, Jake."

Claire squealed and threw her bucket at Quil's knees. "Down, down!"

He set her carefully on her feet and she ran to me. She wrapped her arms around my leg.


"How's it going, Claire?"

She giggled. "Qwil aaaaawl wet now."

"I can see that. Where's your mama?"

"Gone, gone, gone," Claire sang, "Cwaire pway wid Qwil aaaawl day. Cwaire nebber gowin home." She let go of me and ran to Quil. He scooped her up and slung her onto his shoulders.

"Sounds like somebody's hit the terrible twos."

"Threes actually," Quil corrected. "You missed the party. Princess theme. She made me wear a crown, and then Emily suggested they all try out her new play makeup on me."

"Wow, I'm really sorry I wasn't around to see that."

"Don't worry, Emily has pictures. Actually, I look pretty hot."

"You're such a patsy."

Quil shrugged. "Claire had a great time. That was the point."

I rolled my eyes. It was hard being around imprinted people. No matter what stage they were in - about

to tie the knot like Sam or just a much-abused nanny like Quil - the peace and certainty they always radiated was downright puke-inducing.

Claire squealed on his shoulders and pointed at the ground. "Pity wock, Qwil! For me, for me!"

"Which one, kiddo? The red one?"

"No wed!"

Quil dropped to his knees - Claire screamed and pulled his hair like a horse's reigns.

"This blue one?"

"No, no, no...," the little girl sang, thrilled with her new game.

The weird part was, Quil was having just as much fun as she was. He didn't have that face on that so many of the tourist dads and moms were wearing - the when-is-nap-time? face. You never saw a real parent so jazzed to play whatever stupid kiddie sport their rugrat could think up. I'd seen Quil play peekaboo for an hour straight without getting bored.