"How did you find... ?"
"There was a woman we encountered in South America. She'd been raised in the traditions of her people. She'd heard warnings about such creatures, old stories that had been passed down."
"What were the warnings?" I whispered.
"That the creature must be killed immediately. Before it could gain too much strength."
Just like Sam thought. Was he right?
"Of course, their legends say the same of us. That we must be destroyed. That we are soulless murderers."
Two for two.
Edward laughed one hard chuckle.
"What did their stories say about the... mothers?"
Agony ripped across his face, and, as I flinched away from his pain, I knew he wasn't going to give me an answer. I doubted he could talk.
tt was Rosalie - who'd been so still and quiet since Bella'd fallen asleep that I'd nearly forgotten her - who answered.
She made a scornful noise in the back of her throat. "Of course there were no survivors," she said. No survivors, blunt and uncaring. "Giving birth in the middle of a disease-infested swamp with a medicine man smearing
sloth spit across your face to drive out the evil spirits was never the safest method. Even the normal births went badly half the time. None of them had what this baby has - caregivers with an idea of what the baby needs, who try to meet those needs. A doctor with a totally unique knowledge of vampire nature. A plan in place to deliver the baby as safely as possible. Venom that will repair anything that goes wrong. The baby will be fine. And those other mothers would probably have survived if they'd had that - if they even existed in the first place. Something I am not convinced of." She sniffed disdainfully.
The baby, the baby. Like that was all that mattered. Bella's life was a minor detail to her - easy to blow off.
Edward's face went white as snow. His hands curved into claws. Totally egotistical and indifferent, Rosalie twisted in her chair so that her back was to him. He leaned forward, shifting into a crouch.
Allow me,I suggested.
He paused, raising one eyebrow.
Silently, I lifted my doggy bowl off the floor. Then, with a quick, powerful flip of my wrist, I threw it into the back of Blondie's head so hard that - with an earsplitting bang - it smashed flat before it ricocheted across the room and snapped the round top piece off the thick newel post at the foot of the stairs.
Bella twitched but didn't wake up.
"Dumb blonde," I muttered.
Rosalie turned her head slowly, and her eyes were blazing.
"You. Got. Food. In. My. Hair."
That did it.
I busted up.I pulled away fromBella so that I wouldn't shake her, and laughed so hard that tears ran down my face. From behind the couch, I heard Alice's tinkling laugh join in.
I wondered why Rosalie didn't spring. I sort of expected it. But then I realized that my laughing had woken Bella up, though she'd slept right through the real noise.
"What's so funny?" she mumbled.
"I got food in her hair," I told her, chortling again.
"I'm not going to forget this, dog," Rosalie hissed.
"S'not so hard to erase a blonde's memory," I countered. "Just blow in her ear."
"Get some new jokes," she snapped.
"C'mon, Jake. Leave Rose alo - " Bella broke off mid-sentence and sucked in a sharp breath. In the same second, Edward was leaning over the top of me, ripping the blanket out of the way. She seemed to convulse, her back arching off the sofa.
"He's just," she panted, "stretching."
Her lips were white, and she had her teeth locked together like she was trying to hold back a scream.
Edward put both hands on either side of her face.
"Carlisle?" he called in a tense, low voice.
"Right here," the doctor said. I hadn't heard him come in.
"Okay," Bella said, still breathing hard and shallow. "Think it's over. Poor kid doesn't have enough room, that's all. He's getting so big."
It was really hard to take, that adoring tone she used to describe the thing that was tearing her up. Especially after Rosalie's callousness. Made me wish I could throw something at Bella, too.
She didn't pick up on my mood. "You know, he reminds me of you, Jake," she said - affectionate tone - still gasping.
"Do not compare me to that thing," I spit out through my teeth.
"I just meant your growth spurt," she said, looking like I'd hurt her feelings. Good. "You shot right up. I could watch you getting taller by the minute. He's like that, too. Growing so fast."
I bit my tongue to keep from saying what I wanted to say - hard enough that I tasted blood in my mouth. Of course, it would heal before I could swallow. That's what Bella needed. To be strong like me, to be able to heal....
She took an easier breath and then relaxed back into the sofa, her body going limp.
"Hmm," Carlisle murmured. I looked up, and his eyes were on me.
"What?" I demanded.
Edward's head leaned to one side as he reflected on whatever was in Carlisle's head.
"You know that I was wondering about the fetus's genetic makeup, Jacob. About his chromosomes."
"What of it?"
"Well, taking your similarities into consideration - "
"Similarif/es?" I growled, not appreciating the plural.
"The accelerated growth, and the fact that Alice cannot see either of you."
I felt my face go blank. I'd forgotten about that other one.
"Well, I wonder if that means that we have an answer. If the similarities are gene-deep."
"Twenty-four pairs," Edward muttered under his breath.