Good call.

Seth looped back toward the main perimeter.

It was easier to run with him than it was to do the same with Leah. Though she was trying - trying hard - there was always an edge to her thoughts. She didn't want to be here. She didn't want to feel the softening toward the vampires that was going on in my head. She didn't want to deal with Seth's cozy friendship with them, a friendship that was only getting stronger.

Funny, though, I'd've thought her biggest issue would just be me. We'd always gotten on each other's nerves when we were in Sam's pack. But there was no antagonism toward me now at all, just the Cullens andBella. I wondered why. Maybe it was simply gratitude that I wasn't forcing her to leave. Maybe it was because I understood her hostility better now. Whichever, running with Leah wasn't nearly as bad as I'd expected.

Of course, she hadn't eased up that much. The food and clothes Esme had sent for her were all taking a trip downriver right now. Even after I'd eaten my share - not because it smelled nearly irresistible away from the vampire burn, but to set a good example of self-sacrificing tolerance for Leah - she'd refused. The small elk she'd taken down around noon had not totally satisfied her appetite. Did make her mood worse, though. Leah hated eating raw.

Maybe we should runa sweep east? Seth suggested. Go deep, see if they're out there waiting.

I was thinking about that,I agreed. But let's do it when we're all awake. I don't want to let down our guard. We should do it before the Cullens give it a try, though. Soon.


That got me thinking.

If the Cullens were able to get out of the immediate area safely, they really ought to keep on going. They probably should have taken off the second we'd come to warn them. They had to be able to afford other digs. And they had friends up north, right? Take Bella and run. It seemed like an obvious answer to their problems.

I probably ought to suggest that, but I was afraid they would listen to me. And I didn't wantto haveBella disappear - to never know whether she'd made it or not.

No, that was stupid. I wouldtell them togo. It made no sense for them to stay, and it would be better  - not less painful, but healthier - for me if Bella left.

Easyto say now, when Bella wasn't right there, looking all thrilled to see me and also clinging to life by her fingernails at the same time...

Oh, I already asked Edward about that,Seth thought.


I asked him why they hadn't taken off yet. Gone up to Tanya's place or something. Somewhere too far for Sam to come after them.

I had to remind myself that I'd just decided to give the Cullens that exact advice. That it was best. So I shouldn't be mad at Seth for taking the chore out of my hands. Not mad at all.

So what did he say? Are they waiting for a window?

No. They're not leaving.

And that shouldn't sound like good news.

Why not? That's just stupid.

Not really,Seth said, defensive now. It takes some time to build up the kind of medical access that Carlisle has here. He's got all the stuff he needs to take care of Bella, and the credentials to get more. That's one of the reasons they want to make a hunting run. Carlisle thinks they're going to need more blood for Bella soon. She's using up all the O negative they stored for her. He doesn't like depleting the stockpile. He's going to buy some more. Did you know you can buy blood? If you're a doctor.

I wasn't ready to be logical yet. Still seems stupid. They could bring most of it with them, right? And steal what they need wherever they go. Who cares about legal crap when you're the undead?

Edward doesn't want to take any risks moving her.

She's better than she was.

Seriously,Seth agreed. In his head, he was comparing my memories of Bella hooked up to the tubes with the

last time he'd seen her as he'd left the house. She'd smiled at him and waved. But she can't move around much, you know. That thing is kicking the hell out of her.

I swallowed back the stomach acid in my throat. Yeah, I know.

Broke another of her ribs,he told me somberly.

My stride faltered, and I staggered a step before I regained my rhythm.

Carlisle taped her up again. Just another crack, he said. Then Rosalie said something about how even normal human babies have been known to crack ribs. Edward looked like he was gonna rip her head off.

Too bad he didn't

Seth was in full report mode now - knowing it was all vitally interesting to me, though I'd never've asked to hear it. Bella's been running a fever off and on today. Just low grade - sweats and then chills. Carlisle's not sure what to make of it - shemightjust be sick. Her immune system can't be in peak form right now.

Yeah, I'm sure it's just a coincidence.

She's in a good mood, though. She was chatting with Charlie, laughing and all -

Charlie!What?! What do you mean, she was talking to Charlie?!

Now Seth's pace stuttered; my fury surprised him. Guess he calls every day to talk to her. Sometimes her mom calls, too. Bella sounds so much better now, so she was reassuring him that she was on the mend-On the mend? What the hell are they thinking?! Get Charlie's hopes up just so that he can be destroyed even worse when she dies? I thought they were getting him ready for that! Trying to prepare him! Why would she set him up like this?

She might not die,Seth thought quietly.

I took deep breath, trying to calm myself. Seth. Even if she pulls through this, she's not doing it human. She knows that, and so do the rest of them. If she doesn't die, she's going to have to do a pretty convincing impersonation of a corpse, kid. Either that, or disappear. I thought they were trying to make this easier on Charlie. Why... ?

Think it's Bella's idea. No one said anything, but Edward's face kinda went right along with what you're thinking now.

On the same wavelength with the bloodsucker yet again.