"Just back up a second. She won't let you." The sarcasm was acid on my tongue. "Did you ever notice that she's exactly as strong as a normal hundred-and-ten-pound human girl? How stupid are you vamps? Hold her down and knock her out with drugs."

"I wanted to," he whispered. "Carlisle would have___"

What, too noble were they?

"No. Not noble. Her bodyguard complicated things."

Oh. His story hadn't made much sense before, but it fit together now. So that's what Blondie was up to.

What was in it for her, though? Did the beauty queen want Bella to die so bad?

"Maybe," he said. "Rosalie doesn't look at it quite that way."

"So take the blonde out first. Your kind can be put back together, right? Turn her into a jigsaw and take care of Bella."

"Emmett and Esme are backing her up. Emmett would never let us... and Carlisle won't help me with Esme

against it___" He trailed off, his voice disappearing.

"You should have left Bella with me."


It was a bit late for that, though. Maybe he should have thought about all this before he knocked her up with the life-sucking monster.

He stared up at me from inside his own personal hell, and I could see that he agreed with me.

"We didn't know," he said, the words as quiet as a breath. "I never dreamed. There's never been anything like Bella and I before. How could we know that a human was able conceive a child with one of us - "

"When the human should get ripped to shreds in the process?"

"Yes," he agreed in a tense whisper. "They're out there, the sadistic ones, the incubus, the succubus. They exist. But the seduction is merely a prelude to the feast. No one survives" He shook his head like the idea revolted him. Like he was any different.

"I didn't realize they had a special name for what you are," I spit.

He stared up at me with a face that looked a thousand years old.

"Even you, Jacob Black, cannot hate me as much as I hate myself.'7

Wrong,I thought, too enraged to speak.

"Killing me now doesn't save her," he said quietly.

"So what does?"

"Jacob, you have to do something for me."

"The hell I do, parasite!"

He kept staring at me with those half-tired, half-crazy eyes. "For her?"

I clenched my teeth together hard. "I did everything I could to keep her away from you. Every single thing. It's too late."

"You know her, Jacob. You connect to her on a level that I don't even understand. You are part of her, and she is part of you. She won't listen to me, because she thinks I'm underestimating her. She thinks she's strong enough for this___" He choked and then swallowed. "She might listen to you."

"Why would she?"

He lurched to his feet, his eyes burning brighter than before, wilder. I wondered if he was really going crazy. Could vampires lose their minds?

"Maybe," he answered my thought. "I don't know. It feels like it." He shook his head. "I have to try to hide this in front of her, because stress makes her more ill. She can't keep anything down as it is. I have to be composed; I can't make it harder. But that doesn't matter now. She has to listen to you!"

"I can't tell her anything you haven't. What do you want me to do? Tell her she's stupid? She probably already knows that. Tell her she's going to die? I bet she knows that, too."

"You can offer her what she wants."

He wasn't making any sense. Part of the crazy?

"I don't care about anything but keeping her alive," he said, suddenly focused now. "If it's a child she wants, she can have it. She can have half a dozen babies. Anything she wants." He paused for one beat. "She can have puppies, if that's what it takes."

He met my stare for a moment and his face was frenzied under the thin layer of control. My hard scowl crumbled as I processed his words, and I felt my mouth pop open in shock.

"But not this way!" he hissed before I could recover. "Not this thing that's sucking the life from her while I stand there helpless! Watching her sicken and waste away. Seeing it hurting her." He sucked in a fast breath like someone had punched him in the gut. "You have to make her see reason, Jacob. She won't listen to me anymore. Rosalie's always there, feeding her insanity - encouraging her. Protecting her. No, protecting it Bella's life means nothing to her."

The noise coming from my throat sounded like I was choking.

What was he saying? That Bella should, what? Have a baby? With me? What? How? Was he giving her up? Or did he think she wouldn't mind being shared?

"Whichever. Whatever keeps her alive."

"That'sthe craziest thing you've said yet," I mumbled.

"She loves you."

"Not enough."

"She's ready to die to have a child. Maybe she'd accept something less extreme."

"Don't you know her at all?"

"I know, I know.It's going to take a lot of convincing. That's why I need you. You know how she thinks. Make hersee sense."

I couldn't think about what he was suggesting. It was too much. Impossible. Wrong. Sick. Borrowing Bella for the weekends and then returning her Monday morning like a rental movie? So messed up.

So tempting.

I didn't want to consider, didn't want to imagine, but the images came anyway. I'd fantasized about Bella that way too many times, back when there was still a possibility of us, and then long after it was clear that the fantasies would only leave festering sores because there was no possibility, none at all. I hadn't been able to help myself then. I couldn't stop myself now. Bella in my arms, Bella sighing my name...