"You don't know that."

"No. But it's interesting to speculate," Carlisle said in a soothing voice.

"Yeah. Just fascinating"

Bella's light snore started up again, accenting my sarcasm nicely.

They got into it then, quickly taking the genetics conversation to a point where the only words I could understand were the the's and the ands. And my own name, of course. Alice joined in, commenting now and then in her chirpy bird voice.

Even though they were talking about me, I didn't try to figure out the conclusions they were drawing. I had other things on my mind, a few facts I was trying to reconcile.

Fact one, Bella'd said that the creature was protected by something as strong as vampire skin, something that was too impenetrable for ultrasounds, too tough for needles. Fact two, Rosalie'd said they had a plan to deliver the

creature safely. Fact three, Edward'd said that - in myths - other monsters like this one would chew their way out of their own mothers.

I shuddered.

And that made a sick kind of sense, because, fact four, not many things could cut through something as strong as vampire skin. The half-creature's teeth - according to myth - were strong enough. My teeth

were strong enough.

And vampire teeth were strong enough.

It was hard to miss the obvious, but I sure wished I could. Because I had a pretty good idea exactly how Rosalie planned to get that thing "safely" out.

16. TOO-MUCH-INFORMATION ALERT

I took off early, long before sunrise was due. I'd gotten just a little bit of uneasy sleep leaning against the side of the sofa. Edward woke me when Bella's face was flushed, and he took my spot to cool her back down. I stretched and decided I was rested enough to get some work done.

"Thank you," Edward said quietly, seeing my plans. "If the route is clear, they'll go today."

Tillet you know."

It felt good to get back to my animal self. I was stiff from sitting still for so long. I extended my stride, working out the kinks.

Morning, Jacob,Leah greeted me.

Good, you're up. How long's Seth been out?

Not out yet,Seth thought sleepily. Almost there. What do you need?

You think you got another hour in you?

Sure thing. No problem.Seth got to his feet right away, shaking out his fur.

Let's make the deep run,Itold Leah. Seth, take the perimeter.

Gotcha.Seth broke into an easy jog.

Off on another vampire errand,Leah grumbled.

You got a problem with that?

Of course not. I just love to coddle those darling leeches.

Good. Let's see how fast we can run.

Okay, I'm definitely up forthat

Leah was on the far western rim of the perimeter. Rather than cut close to the Cullens' house, she stuck to the circle as she raced around to meet me. I sprinted off straight east, knowing that even with the head start, she'd be

passing me soon if I took it easy for even a second.

Nose to the ground, Leah. This isn't a race, it's a reconnaissance mission.

I can do both and still kick your butt

I gave her that one. know.

She laughed.

We took a winding path through the eastern mountains. It wasa familiar route. We'd run these mountains when the vampires had left a year ago, making it part of our patrol route to better protect the people here. Then we'd pulled back the lines when the Cullens returned. This was their treaty land.

But that fact would probably mean nothing to Sam now. The treaty was dead. The question today was how thin he was willing to spread his force. Was he looking for stray Cullens to poach on their land or not? Had Jared spoken the truth or taken advantage of the silence between us?

We got deeper and deeper into the mountains without finding any trace of the pack. Fading vampire trails were everywhere, but the scents were familiar now. I was breathing them in all day long.

I founda heavy, somewhat recent concentration on one particular trail - all of them coming and going here except for Edward. Some reason for gathering that must have been forgotten when Edward brought his dying pregnant wife home. I gritted my teeth. Whatever it was, it had nothing to do with me.

Leah didn't push herself past me, though she could have now. I was paying more attention to each new scent than I was to the speed contest. She kept to my right side, running with me rather than racing against me.

Were getting pretty far out here,she commented.

Yeah. If Sam was hunting strays, we should have crossed his trail by now.

Makes more sense right now for him to bunker down in La Push,Leah thought. He knows we're giving the bloodsuckers three extra sets of eyes and legs. He's not going to be able to surprise them.

This was just a precaution, really.

Wouldn't want our precious parasites taking unnecessary chances.

Nope,I agreed, ignoring the sarcasm.

You've changed so much, Jacob. Talk about one-eighties.

You're not exactly the same Leah I've always known and loved, either.

True. Am I less annoying than Paul now?

Amazingly... yes.

Ah, sweet success.

Congrats.

We ran in silence again then. It was probably time to turn around, but neither of us wanted to. It felt nice to run like this. We'd been staring at the same small circle of atrail for too long. It felt good to stretch our muscles and take the rugged terrain. We weren't in a huge hurry, so I thought maybe we should hunt on the way back. Leah was pretty

hungry.

Yum, yum,she thought sourly.

It's all in your head,I told her. That's the way wolves eat. It's natural. It tastes fine. If you didn't think about it from a human perspective -

Forget the pep talk, Jacob. I'll hunt I don't have to like it

Sure, sure,I agreed easily. It wasn't my business if she wanted to make things harder for herself.

She didn't add anything for a few minutes; I started thinking about turning back.

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