"T/?an/cyou,"i told him.
And then I hooked the silver satin shoes off my feet one by one and lobbed them together back through the open window. A little too hard, maybe, but I heard someone catch them before they could damage the paneling.
Alice grumbled, "Her fashion sense hasn't improved as much as her balance."
Edward took my hand - I couldn't stop marveling at the smoothness, the comfortable temperature of his skin - and darted through the backyard to the edge of the river. I went along with him effortlessly.
Everything physical seemed very simple.
"Are we swimming?" I asked him when we stopped beside the water.
"And ruin your pretty dress? No. We're jumping."
I pursed my lips, considering. The river was about fifty yards wide here.
"You first," I said.
He touched my cheek, took two quick backward strides, and then ran back those two steps, launching himself from a flat stone firmly embedded in the riverbank. I studied the flash of movement as he arced over the water, finally turning a somersault just before he disappeared into the thick trees on the other side of the river.
"Show-off," I muttered, and heard his invisible laugh.
I backed up five paces, just in case, and took a deep breath.
Suddenly, I was anxious again. Not about falling or getting hurt - I was more worried about the forest getting hurt.
It had come on slowly, but I could feel it now - the raw, massive strength thrilling in my limbs. I was suddenly sure that if I wanted to tunnel under the river, to claw or beat my way straight through the bedrock, it wouldn't take me very long. The objects around me - the trees, the shrubs, the rocks... the house - had all begun to look very fragile.
Hoping very much that Esme was not particularly fond of any specific trees across the river, I began my first stride. And then stopped when the tight satin split six inches up my thigh. Alice!
Well, Alice always seemed to treat clothes as if they were disposable and meant for one-time usage, so she shouldn't mind this. I bent to carefully grasp the hem at the undamaged right seam between my fingers and, exerting the tiniest amount of pressure possible, I ripped the dress open to the top of my thigh. Then I fixed the other side to match.
I could hear the muffled laughter in the house, and even the sound of someone gritting her teeth. The laughter came from upstairs and down, and I very easily recognized the much different, rough, throaty chuckle from the firstfloor.
So Jacob was watching, too? I couldn't imagine what he was thinking now, or what he was still doing here. I'd envisioned our reunion - if he could ever forgive me - taking place far in the future, when I was more stable, and time had healed the wounds I'd inflicted in his heart.
I didn't turn to look at him now, wary of my mood swings. It wouldn't be good to let any emotion take too strong a hold on my frame of mind. Jasper's fears had me on edge, too. I had to hunt before I dealt with anything else. I tried to forget everything else so I could concentrate.
"Bella?" Edward called from the woods, his voice moving closer. "Do you want to watch again?"
But I remembered everything perfectly, of course, and I didn't want to give Emmett a reason to find more humor in my education. This was physical - it should be instinctive. So I took a deep breath and ran for the river.
Unhindered by my skirt, it took only one long bound to reach the water's edge. Just an eighty-fourth of a second, and yet it was plenty of time - my eyes and my mind moved so quickly that one step was enough. It was simple to position my right foot just so against the flat stone and exert the adequate pressure to send my body wheeling up into the air. I was paying more attention to aim than force, and I erred on the amount of power necessary - but at least I didn't err on the side that would have gotten me wet. The fifty yard width was slightly too easy a distance___
It was a strange, giddy, electrifying thing, but a short thing. An entire second had yet to pass, and I was across.
I was expecting the close-packed trees to be a problem, but they were surprisingly helpful. It was a simple matter to reach out with one sure hand as I fell back toward the earth again deep inside the forest and catch myself on a convenient branch; I swung lightly from the limb and landed on my toes, still fifteen feet from the ground on the wide bough of a Sitka spruce.
It was fabulous.
Over the sound of my peals of delighted laughter, I could hear Edward racing to find me. My jump had been twice as long as his. When he reached my tree, his eyes were wide. I leaped nimbly from the branch to his side,
soundlessly landing again on the balls of my feet.
"Was that good?" I wondered, my breathing accelerated with excitement.
"Very good." He smiled approvingly, but his casual tone didn't match the surprised expression in his eyes.
"Can we do it again?"
"Focus, Bella - we're on a hunting trip."
"Oh, right." I nodded. "Hunting."
"Follow me... if you can." He grinned, his expression suddenly taunting, and broke into a run.
He was faster than me. I couldn't imagine how he moved his legs with such blinding speed, but it was beyond me. However, I was stronger, and every stride of mine matched the length of three of his. And so I flew with him through the living green web, by his side, not following at all. As I ran, I couldn't help laughing quietly at the thrill of it; the laughter neither slowed me nor upset my focus.
I could finally understand why Edward never hit the trees when he ran - a question that had always been a mystery to me. It was a peculiar sensation, the balance between the speed and the clarity. For, while I rocketed over, under, and through the thick jade maze at a rate that should have reduced everything around me to a streaky green blur, I could plainly see each tiny leaf on all the small branches of every insignificant shrub that I passed.
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