This time I wanted to obey.

The murderer stared past Rosalie's shoulder at me, its gaze more focused than any newborn creature's gaze should be.

Warm brown eyes, the color of milk chocolate - the exact same color that Bella's had been.

My shaking jerked to a stop; heat flooded through me, stronger than before, but it was a new kind of heat - not a burning.

It was a glowing.

Everything inside me came undone as I stared at the tiny porcelain face of the half-vampire, half-human baby. All the lines that held me to my life were sliced apart in swift cuts, like clipping the strings to a bunch of balloons. Everything that made me who I was - my love for the dead girl upstairs, my love for my father, my loyalty to my new pack, the love for my other brothers, my hatred for my enemies, my home, my name, my se/f - disconnected from me in that second - snip, snip, snip - and floated up into space.

I was not left drifting. A new string held me where I was.

Not one string, but a million. Not strings, but steel cables. A million steel cables all tying me to one thing  - to the very center of the universe.

I could see that now - how the universe swirled around this one point. I'd never seen the symmetry of the universe before, but now it was plain.

The gravity of the earth no longer tied me to the place where I stood.

It was the baby girl in the blond vampire's arms that held me here now.

Renesmee.

From upstairs, there was a new sound. The only sound that could touch me in this endless instant. A frantic pounding, a racing beat...

A changing heart.

BOOK THREE: BELLA

Preface

No longer just a nightmare, the line of black advanced on us through the icy mist stirred up by their feet.

We're going to die,I thought in panic. I was desperate for the precious one I guarded, but even to think of that was a lapse in attention I could not afford.

They ghosted closer, their dark robes billowing slightly with the movement. I saw their hands curl into bone-colored claws. They drifted apart, angling to come at us from all sides. We were outnumbered. It was over.

And then, like a burst of light from a flash, the whole scene was different. Yet nothing changed - the Volturi still stalked toward us, poised to kill. All that really changed was how the picture looked to me. Suddenly, I was hungry for it. I wanfed them to charge. The panic changed to bloodlust as I crouched forward, a smile on my face, and a growl ripped through my bared teeth.

19. BURNING

The pain was bewildering.

Exactly that - I was bewildered. I couldn't understand, couldn't make sense of what was happening.

My body tried to reject the pain, and I was sucked again and again into a blackness that cut out whole seconds or maybe even minutes of the agony, making it that much harder to keep up with reality.

I tried to separate them.

Non-reality was black, and it didn't hurt so much.

Reality was red, and it felt like I was being sawed in half, hit by a bus, punched by a prize fighter, trampled by bulls, and submerged in acid, all at the same time.

Reality was feeling my body twist and flip when I couldn't possibly move because of the pain.

Reality was knowing there was something so much more important than all this torture, and not being able to remember what it was.

Reality had come on so fast.

One moment, everything was as it should have been. Surrounded by people I loved. Smiles. Somehow, unlikely as it was, it seemed like I was about to get everything I'd been fighting for.

And then one tiny, inconsequential thing had gone wrong.

I'd watched as my cup tilted, dark blood spilling out and staining the perfect white, and I'd lurched toward the accident reflexively. I'd seen the other, faster hands, but my body had continued to reach, to stretch___

Inside me, something had yanked the opposite direction.

Ripping. Breaking. Agony.

The darkness had taken over, and then washed away to a wave of torture. I couldn't breathe - I had drowned once before, and this was different; it was too hot in my throat.

Pieces of me shattering, snapping, slicing apart___

More blackness.

Voices, this time, shouting, as the pain came back.

'The placenta must have detached!"

Something sharper than knives ripped through me - the words, making sense in spite of the other tortures. Detached placenta - I knew what that meant. It meant that my baby was dying inside me.

"Get him out!" I screamed to Edward. Why hadn't he done it yet? "He can't breathe! Do it now!"

"The morphine - "

He wanted to wait, to give me painkillers, while our baby was dying?!

"No! Now - ," I choked, unable to finish.

Black spots covered the light in the room as a cold point of new pain stabbed icily into my stomach. It felt wrong - I struggled automatically to protect my womb, my baby, my little Edward Jacob, but I was weak. My lungs ached, oxygen burned away.

The pain faded away again, though I clung to it now. My baby, my baby, dying___

How long had passed? Seconds or minutes? The pain was gone. Numb. I couldn't feel. I still couldn't see, either, but I could hear. There was air in my lungs again, scraping in rough bubbles up and down my throat.

"You stay with me now, Bella! Do you hear me? Stay! You're not leaving me. Keep your heart beating!"

Jacob? Jacob, still here, still trying to save me.

Of course,I wanted to tell him. Of course I would keep my heart beating. Hadn't I promised them both?

I tried to feel my heart, to find it, but I was so lost inside my own body. I couldn't feel the things I should, and nothing felt in the right place. I blinked and I found my eyes. I could see the light. Not what I was looking for, but better than nothing.

As my eyes struggled to adjust, Edward whispered, "Renesmee."

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