Yeah, no hypocrisy there, Leah,I thought back.

Can it, guys,Sam told us.

We fell silent, and I felt Leah's wince at the word guys. Touchy, like always.

Sam pretended not to notice. Where's Quil andJared?

Quit's got Claire. He's taking her to the Clearwaters'.

Good. Sue will take her.

Jared was going to Kim's,Embry thought. Good chance he didn't hear you.

There was a low grumble through the pack. I moaned along with them. When Jared finally showed up, no doubt he'd still be thinking about Kim. And nobody wanted a replay of what they were up to right now.

Sam sat back on his haunches and let another howl rip into the air. It was a signal and an order in one.

The pack was gathered a few miles east of where I was. I loped through the thick forest toward them. Leah,

Embry, and Paul all were working in toward them, too. Leah was close - soon I could hear her footfalls not far into the woods. We continued in a parallel line, choosing not to run together.

Well, we're not waiting all day for him. He'll just have to catch up later.

'Sup, boss?Paul wanted to know.

We need to talk. Something's happened.

I felt Sam's thoughts flicker to me - and not just Sam's, but Seth's and Collin's and Brady's as well. Collin and Brady - the new kids - had been running patrol with Sam today, so they would know whatever he knew. I didn't know why Seth was already out here, and in the know. It wasn't his turn.

Seth, tell them what you heard.

I sped up, wanting to be there. I heard Leah move faster, too. She hated being outrun. Being the fastest was the only edge she claimed.

Claimthis, moron, she hissed, and then she really kicked it into gear. I dug my nails into the loam and shot myself forward.

Sam didn't seem in the mood to put up with our usual crap. Jake, Leah, give it a rest.

Neither of us slowed.

Sam growled, but let it go. Seth?

Charlie called around till he found Billy at my house.

Yeah, I talked to him,Paul added.

I felt a jolt go through me as Seth thought Charlie's name. This was it. The waiting was over. I ran faster, forcing myself to breathe, though my lungs felt kinda stiff all of a sudden.

Which story would it be?

So he's all flipped out. Guess Edward and Bella got home last week, and...

My chest eased up.

She was alive. Or she wasn't dead dead, at least.

I hadn't realized how much difference it would make to me. I'd been thinking of her as dead this whole time, and I only saw that now. I saw that I'd never believed that he would bring her back alive. It shouldn't matter, because I knew what was coming next.

Yeah, bro, and here's the bad news. Charlie talked to her, said she sounded bad. She told him she's sick. Carlisle got on and told Charlie that Bella picked up some rare disease in South America. Said she's quarantined. Charlie's going crazy, 'cause even he's not allowed to see her. He says he doesn't care if he gets sick, but Carlisle wouldn't bend. No visitors. Told Charlie it was pretty serious, but that he's doing everything he can. Charlie's been stewing about it for days, but he only called Billy now. He said she sounded worse today.

The mental silence when Seth finished was profound. We all understood.

So she would die of this disease, as far as Charlie knew. Would they let him view the corpse? The pale, perfectly still, unbreathing white body? They couldn't let him touch the cold skin - he might notice how hard it was.

They'd have to wait until she could hold still, could keep from killing Charlie and the other mourners. How long would that take?

Would they bury her? Would she dig herself out, or would the bloodsuckers come for her?

The others listened to my speculating in silence. I'd put a lot more thought into this than any of them.

Leah and I entered the clearing at nearly the same time. She was sure her nose led the way, though. She dropped onto her haunches beside her brother while I trotted forward to stand at Sam's right hand. Paul circled and made room for me in my place.

Beatcha again,Leah thought, but I barely heard her.

I wondered why I was the only one on my feet. My fur stood up on my shoulders, bristling with impatience.

Well, what are we waiting for?I asked.

No one said anything, but I heard their feelings of hesitation.

Oh, come on! The treaty's broken!

We have no proof - maybe sheis sick....

OH, PLEASE!

Okay, so the circumstantial evidence is pretty strong. Still... Jacob.Sam's thought came slow, hesitant. Are you sure this is what you want? Is it really the right thing? We all know what she wanted.

The treaty doesn't mention anything about victim preferences, Sam!

Is she really a victim? Would you label her that way?

Yes!

Jake,Seth thought, they aren't our enemies.

Shut up, kid! Just 'cause you've got some kind of sick hero worship thing going on with that bloodsucker, it doesn't change the law. They are our enemies. They are in our territory. We take them out. I don't care if you had fun fighting alongside Edward Cullen once upon a time.

So what are you going to do when Bella fights with them, Jacob? Huh?Seth demanded.

She's not Bella anymore.

You gonna be the one to take her down?

I couldn't stop myself from wincing.

No, you're not. So, what? You gonna make one of us do it? And then hold a grudge against whoever it is forever?

I wouldn't...

Sure you won't. You're not ready for this fight, Jacob.

Instinct took over and I crouched forward, snarling at the gangly sand-colored wolf across the circle.

Jacob!Sam cautioned. Seth, shut up for a second.

Seth nodded his big head.

Dang, what'd I miss? Quthought. He was running for the gathering place full-out. Heard about Charlie's call....

Were getting ready to go,I told him. Why don't you swing by Kim's and drag Jared out with your teeth? We're going to need everyone.

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