"I want you to think - to tell me everything you remember," Carlisle pressed excitedly, and I couldn't help the grimace that flashed across my face. I didn't want to have to keep lying, because I might slip up. And I didn't want to think about the burning. Unlike the human memories, that part was perfectly clear and I found I could remember it with far too much precision.

"Oh, I'm so sorry, Bella," Carlisle apologized immediately. "Of course your thirst must be very uncomfortable. This conversation can wait."

Until he'd mentioned it, the thirst actually wasn't unmanageable. There was so much room in my head. A separate part of my brain was keeping tabs on the burn in my throat, almost like a reflex. The way my old brain had handled breathing and blinking.

But Carlisle's assumption brought the burn to the forefront of my mind. Suddenly, the dry ache was all I could think about, and the more I thought about it, the more it hurt. My hand flew up to cup my throat, like I could smother the flames from the outside. The skin of my neck was strange beneath my fingers. So smooth it was somehow soft, though it was hard as stone, too.

Edward dropped his arms and took my other hand, tugging gently. "Let's hunt, Bella."

My eyes opened wider and the pain of the thirst receded, shock taking its place.

Me? Hunt? With Edward? But... how? I didn't know what to do.

He read the alarm in my expression and smiled encouragingly. "It's quite easy, love. Instinctual. Don't worry, I'll show you." When I didn't move, he grinned his crooked smile and raised his eyebrows. "I was under the impression that you'd always wanted to see me hunt."

I laughed in a short burst of humor (part of me listened in wonder to the pealing bell sound) as his words reminded me of cloudy human conversations. And then I took a whole second to run quickly through those first days

with Edward - the true beginning of my life - in my head so that I would never forget them. I did not expect that it would be so uncomfortable to remember. Like trying to squint through muddy water. I knew from Rosalie's experience that if I thought of my human memories enough, I would not lose them over time. I did not want to forget one minute I'd spent with Edward, even now, when eternity stretched in front of us. i would have to make sure those human memories were cemented into my infallible vampire mind.

"Shall we?" Edward asked. He reached up to take the hand that was still at my neck. His fingers smoothed down the column of my throat. "I don't want you to be hurting," he added in a low murmur. Something I would not have been able to hear before.

Tm fine," I said out of lingering human habit. "Wait. First."

There was so much. I'd never gotten to my questions. There were more important things than the ache.

It was Carlisle who spoke now. "Yes?"

"I want to see her. Renesmee."

It was oddly difficult to say her name. My daughter, these words were even harder to think. It all seemed so distant. I tried to remember how I had felt three days ago, and automatically, my hands pulled free of Edward's and dropped to my stomach.

Flat. Empty. I clutched at the pale silk that covered my skin, panicking again, while an insignificant part of my mind noted that Alice must have dressed me.

I knew there was nothing left inside me, and I faintly remembered the bloody removal scene, but the physical proof was still hard to process. All I knew was loving my little nudger inside of me. Outside of me, she seemed like something I must have imagined. A fading dream - a dream that was half nightmare.

While I wrestled with my confusion, I saw Edward and Carlisle exchange a guarded glance.

"What?" I demanded.

"Bella," Edward said soothingly. "That's not really a good idea. She's half human, love. Her heart beats, and blood runs in her veins. Until your thirst is positively under control... You don't want to put her in danger, do you?"

I frowned. Of course I must not want that.

Was I out of control? Confused, yes. Easily unfocused, yes. But dangerous? To her? My daughter?

I couldn't be positive that the answer was no. So I would have to be patient. That sounded difficult. Because until I saw her again, she wouldn't be real. Just a fading dream... of a stranger...

"Where is she?" I listened hard, and then I could hear the beating heart on the floor below me. I could hear more than one person breathing - quietly, like they were listening, too. There was also a fluttering sound, a thrumming, that I couldn't place___

And the sound of the heartbeat was so moist and appealing, that my mouth started watering.

So I would definitely have to learn how to hunt before I saw her. My stranger baby.

"Is Rosalie with her?"

"Yes," Edward answered in a clipped tone, and I could see that something he'd thought of upset him. I'd thought

he and Rose were over their differences. Had the animosity erupted again? Before I could ask, he pulled my hands away from my flat stomach, tugging gently again.

"Wait," I protested again, trying to focus. "What about Jacob? And Charlie? Tell me everything that I missed. How long was I... unconscious?"

Edward didn't seem to notice my hesitation over the last word. Instead, he was exchanging another wary glance with Carlisle.

"What's wrong?" I whispered.

"Nothing is wrong" Carlisle told me, emphasizing the last word in a strange way. "Nothing has changed much, actually - you were only unaware for just over two days. It was very fast, as these things go. Edward did an excellent job. Quite innovative - the venom injection straight to your heart was his idea." He paused to smile proudly at his son and then sighed. "Jacob is still here, and Charlie still believes that you are sick. He thinks you're in Atlanta right now, undergoing tests at the CDC. We gave him a bad number, and he's frustrated. He's been speaking to Esme."