I stood with my back to him, hiding my face.

"Nothing happened. Sam's giving them a bye. Guess we're all just a bunch of leech lovers now."

"Jake..."

"I don't want to talk about it."

"Are you leaving, son?"

The room was quiet for a long time while I decided how to say it.

"Rachel can have her room back. I know she hates that air mattress."

"She'd rather sleep on the floor than lose you. So would I."

I snorted.

"Jacob, please. If you need... a break. Well, take it. But not so long again. Come back."

"Maybe. Maybe my gig will be weddings. Make a cameo at Sam's, then Rachel's. Jared and Kim might come first, though. Probably ought to have a suit or something."

"Jake, look at me."

I turned around slowly. "What?"

He stared into my eyes for a long minute. "Where are you going?"

"I don't really have a specific place in mind."

He cocked his head to the side, and his eyes narrowed. "Don't you?"

We stared each other down. The seconds ticked by.

"Jacob," he said. His voice was strained. "Jacob, don't. It's not worth it."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Leave Bella and the Cullens be. Sam is right."

I stared at him for a second, and then I crossed the room in two long strides, i grabbed the phone and

disconnected the cable from the box and the jack. I wadded the gray cord up in the palm of my hand.

"Bye, Dad."

"Jake, wait - ,'7he called after me, but I was out the door, running.

The motorcycle wasn't as fast as running, but it was more discreet. I wondered how long it would take Billy to wheel himself down to the store and then get someone on the phone who could get a message to Sam. I'd bet Sam was still in his wolf form. The problem would be if Paul came back to our place anytime soon. He could phase in a second and let Sam know what I was doing....

I wasn't going to worry about it. I would go as fast as I could, and if they caught me, I'd deal with that when I had to.

I kicked the bike to life and then I was racing down the muddy lane. I didn't look behind me as I passed the house.

The highway was busy with tourist traffic; I wove in and out of the cars, earning a bunch of honks and a few fingers. I took the turn onto the 101 at seventy, not bothering to look. I had to ride the line for a minute to avoid getting smeared by a minivan. Not that it would have killed me, but it would have slowed me down. Broken bones - the big ones, at least - took days to heal completely, as I had good cause to know.

The freeway cleared up a little, and I pushed the bike to eighty. I didn't touch the brake until I was close to the narrow drive; I figured I was in the clear then. Sam wouldn't come this far to stop me. It was too late.

It wasn't until that moment - when I was sure that I'd made it - that I started to think about what exactly I was going to do now. I slowed down to twenty, taking the twists through the trees more carefully than I needed to.

I knew they would hear me coming, bike or no bike, so surprise was out. There was no way to disguise my intentions. Edward would hear my plan as soon as I was close enough. Maybe he already could. But I thought this would still work out, because I had his ego on my side. He'd want to fight me alone.

So I'd just walk in, see Sam's precious evidence for myself, and then challenge Edward to a duel.

I snorted. The parasite'd probably get a kick out of the theatrics of it.

When I finished with him, I'd take as many of the rest of them as I could before they got me. Huh - I wondered if Sam would consider my death provocation. Probably say I got what I deserved. Wouldn't want to offend his bloodsucker BFFs.

The drive opened up into the meadow, and the smell hit me like a rotten tomato to the face. Ugh. Reeking vampires. My stomach started churning. The stench would be hard to take this way - undiluted by the scent of humans as it had been the other time I'd come here - though not as bad as smelling it through my wolf nose.

I wasn't sure what to expect, but there was no sign of life around the big white crypt. Of course they knew I was here.

I cut the engine and listened to the quiet. Now I could hear tense, angry murmurs from just the other side of the wide double doors. Someone was home. I heard my name and I smiled, happy to think I was causing them a little stress.

I took one big gulp of air - it would only be worse inside - and leaped up the porch stairs in one bound.

The door opened before my fist touched it, and the doctor stood in the frame, his eyes grave.

"Hello, Jacob," he said, calmer than I would have expected. "How are you?"

I took a deep breath through my mouth. The reek pouring through the door was overpowering.

I was disappointed that it was Carlisle who answered. I'd rather Edward had come through the door, fangs out. Carlisle was so... just human or something. Maybe it was the house calls he made last spring when I got busted up. But it made me uncomfortable to look into his face and know that I was planning to kill him if I could.

"I heard Bella made it back alive," I said.

"Er, Jacob, it's not really the best time." The doctor seemed uncomfortable, too, but not in the way I expected. "Could we do this later?"

I stared at him, dumbfounded. Was he asking to post-pone the death match for a more convenient time?

And then I heard Bella's voice, cracked and rough, and I couldn't think about anything else.

"Why not?" she asked someone. "Are we keeping secrets from Jacob, too? What's the point?"

Her voice was not what I was expecting. I tried to remember the voices of the young vampires we'd fought in the spring, but all I'd registered was snarling. Maybe those newborns hadn't had the piercing, ringing sound of the older ones, either. Maybe all new vampires sounded hoarse.

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