I saw it then, but I still couldn't believe it. I'd seen her just a month ago. There was no way she could be pregnant. Not that pregnant.
Except that she was.
I didn't want to see this, didn't want to think about this. I didn't want to imagine him inside her. I didn't want to know that something I hated so much had taken root in the body I loved. My stomach heaved, and I had to swallow back vomit.
But it was worse than that, so much worse. Her distorted body, the bones jabbing against the skin of her face. I could only guess that she looked like this - so pregnant, so sick - because whatever was inside her was taking her life to feed its own....
Because it was a monster. Just like its father.
I always knew he would kill her.
His head snapped up as he heard the words inside mine. One second we were both on our knees, and then he was on his feet, towering over me. His eyes were flat black, the circles under them dark purple.
"Outside, Jacob," he snarled.
I was on my feet, too. Looking down on him now. This was why I was here.
"Let's do this," I agreed.
The big one, Emmett, pushed forward on Edward's other side, with the hungry-looking one, Jasper, right behind him. I really didn't care. Maybe my pack would clean up the scraps when they finished me off. Maybe not. It didn't matter.
For the tiniest part of a second my eyes touched on the two standing in the back. Esme. Alice. Small and distractingly feminine. Well, I was sure the others would kill me before I had to do anything about them. I didn't want to kill girls... even vampire girls.
Though I might make an exception for that blonde.
"No," Bella gasped, and she stumbled forward, out of balance, to clutch at Edward's arm. Rosalie moved with her, like there was a chain locking them to each other.
"I just need to talk to him, Bella," Edward said in a low voice, talking only to her. He reached up to touch her face, to stroke it. This made the room turn red, made me see fire - that, after all he'd done to her, he was still allowed to touch her that way. "Don't strain yourself," he went on, pleading. "Please rest. We'll both be back in just a few minutes."
She stared at his face, reading it carefully. Then she nodded and drooped toward the couch. Rosalie helped lower her back onto the cushions. Bella stared at me, trying to hold my eyes.
"Behave," she insisted. "And then come back."
I didn't answer. I wasn't making any promises today. I looked away and then followed Edward out the front door.
A random, disjointed voice in my head noted that separating him from the coven hadn't been so difficult, had it?
He kept walking, never checking to see if I was about to spring at his unprotected back. I supposed he didn't need to check. He would know when I decided to attack. Which meant I'd have to make that decision very quickly.
Tm not ready for you to kill me yet, Jacob Black," he whispered as he paced quickly away from the house. "You'll have to have a little patience."
Like I cared about his schedule. I growled under my breath. "Patience isn't my specialty."
He kept walking, maybe a couple hundred yards down the drive away from the house, with me right on his heels. I was all hot, my fingers trembling. On the edge, ready and waiting.
He stopped without warning and pivoted to face me. His expression froze me again.
For a second I was just a kid - a kid who had lived all of his life in the same tiny town. Just a child. Because I knew I would have to live a lot more, suffer a lot more, to ever understand the searing agony in Edward's eyes.
He raised a hand as if to wipe sweat from his forehead, but his fingers scraped against his face like they
were going to rip his granite skin right off. His black eyes burned in their sockets, out of focus, or seeing things that weren't there. His mouth opened like he was going to scream, but nothing came out.
This was the face a man would have if he were burning at the stake.
For a moment I couldn't speak. It was too real, this face - I'd seen a shadow of it in the house, seen it in her eyes and his, but this made it final. The last nail in her coffin.
"It's killing her, right? She's dying." And I knew when I said it that my face was a watered-down echo of his. Weaker, different, because I was still in shock. I hadn't wrapped my head around it yet - it was happening too fast. He'd had time to get to this point. And it was different because I'd already lost her so many times, so many ways, in my head. And different because she was never really mine to lose.
And different because this wasn't my fault.
"My fault," Edward whispered, and his knees gave out. He crumpled in front of me, vulnerable, the easiest target you could imagine.
But I felt cold as snow - there was no fire in me.
"Yes," he groaned into the dirt, like he was confessing to the ground. "Yes, it's killing her."
His broken helplessness irritated me. I wanted a fight, not an execution. Where was his smug superiority now?
"So why hasn't Carlisle done anything?" I growled. "He's a doctor, right? Get it out of her."
He looked up then and answered me in a tired voice. Like he was explaining this to a kindergartener for the tenth time. "She won't let us."
It took a minute for the words to sink in. Jeez, she was running true to form. Of course, die for the monster spawn. It was so Bella.
"You know her well," he whispered. "How quickly you see.... I didn't see. Not in time. She wouldn't talk to me on the way home, not really. I thought she was frightened - that would be natural. I thought she was angry with me for putting her through this, for endangering her life. Again. I never imagined what she was really thinking, what she was resolving. Not until my family met us at the airport and she ran right into Rosalie's arms. Rosalie's! And then I heard what Rosalie was thinking. I didn't understand until I heard that. Yet you understand after one second. . . ." He half-sighed, half-groaned.
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