"We don't have much time." He glanced back toward the house.

No, there was no time. My few days had become a few hours.

don't know. Let me think. Just give me a minute here, okay?


I started walking to the house, and he followed. Crazy how easy it was, walking through the dark with a vampire right beside me. It didn't feel unsafe, or even uncomfortable, really. It felt like walking next to anybody. Well, anybody who smelled bad.

There was a movement in the brush at the edge of the big lawn, and then a low whimper. Seth shrugged through the ferns and loped over to us.

"Hey, kid," I muttered.

He dipped his head, and I patted his shoulder.

"S'all cool," I lied. "I'll tell you about it later. Sorry to take off on you like that."

He grinned at me.

"Hey, tell your sister to back off now, okay? Enough."

Seth nodded once.

I shoved against his shoulder this time. "Get back to work. I'll spell you in a bit."

Seth leaned against me, shoving back, and then he galloped into the trees.

"He has one of the purest, sincerest, kindest minds I've ever heard," Edward murmured when he was outof sight. "You're lucky to have his thoughts to share."

"I know that,"! grunted.

We started toward the house, and both of our heads snapped up when we heard the sound of someone sucking through a straw. Edward was in a hurry then.He darted up the porch stairs and was gone.

"Bella, love, Ithought you were sleeping," I heard him say. "I'm sorry, I wouldn't have left."

"Don't worry. Ijust got so thirsty - it woke me up.It's a good thing Carlisle is bringing more. This kid is going to need it when he gets out of me."

"True. That's a good point."

"I wonder if he'll want anything else," she mused.

"I suppose we'll find out."

I walked through the door.

Alice said, "Finally," and Bella's eyes flashed to me. That infuriating, irresistible smile broke across her face for one second. Then it faltered, and her face fell. Her lips puckered, like she was trying not to cry.

I wanted to punch Leah right in her stupid mouth.

"Hey, Bells," Isaid quickly. "How ya doing?"

"I'm fine," she said.

"Big day today, huh? Lots of new stuff."

"You don't have to do that, Jacob."

"Don't know what you're talking about," I said, going to sit on the arm of the sofa by her head. Edward had the floor there already.

She gave me a reproachful look. "I'm so s - " she started to say.

I pinched her lips together between my thumb and finger.

"Jake," she mumbled, trying to pull my hand away. Her attempt was so weak it was hard to believe that she was really trying.

I shook my head. "You can talk when you're not being stupid."

"Fine,I won't say it," it sounded like she mumbled.

I pulled my hand away.

"Sorry!" she finished quickly, and then grinned.

I rolledmy eyes and then smiled back at her.

When I stared into her eyes, I saw everything that I'd been looking for in the park.

Tomorrow, she'd be someone else. But hopefully alive, and that was what counted, right? She'd look at me with the same eyes, sort of. Smile with the same lips, almost. She'd still know me better than anyone who didn't havefull access to the inside of my head.

Leah might be an interesting companion, maybe even a true friend - someone who would stand up for me. But

she wasn't my best friend the way thatBella was. Aside from the impossible love I felt for Bella, there was also that other bond, and it ran bone deep.

Tomorrow, she'd be my enemy. Or she'd be myally. And, apparently, that distinction was up to me.

I sighed.

Fine!I thought, giving up the very last thing i had to give. It made me feel hollow. Go ahead. Save her. As Ephraim's heir, you have my permission, my word, that this will not violate the treaty. The others will just have to blame me. You were right - they can't deny that it's my right to agree to this.

'Thank you." Edward's whisper was low enough that Bella didn't hear anything. But the words were so fervent that, from the corner of my eye, I saw the other vampires turning to stare.

"So,"Bella asked, working to be casual. "How was your day?"

"Great. Went for a drive. Hung out in the park."

"Sounds nice."

"Sure, sure."

Suddenly, she made a face. "Rose?" she asked.

I heard Blondie chuckle. "Again?"

"I think I've drunk two gallons in the last hour," Bella explained.

Edward and I both got out of the way while Rosalie came to lift Bella from the couch and take her to the bathroom.

"Can I walk?" Bella asked. "My legs are so stiff."

"Are you sure?" Edward asked.

"Rose'llcatch me if I trip over my feet. Which could happen pretty easily, since I can't see them."

Rosalie set Bellacarefully on her feet, keeping her hands right atBella's shoulders. Bella stretched her arms out in front of her, wincing a little.

"That feels good," she sighed. "Ugh, but I'm huge."

She really was. Her stomach was its own continent.

"One more day," she said, and patted her stomach.

I couldn't help the pain that shot through me in a sudden, stabbing burst, but I tried to keep it off my face. I could hide it for one more day, right?

"All righty, then. Whoops - oh, no!"

The cup Bella had left on the sofa tumbled to one side, the dark red blood spilling out onto the pale fabric.

Automatically, though three other hands beat her there, Bella bent over, reaching out to catch it.