Midnight Sun (Twilight #1.5)(15)


by Stephenie Meyer

I closed my eyes in horror and disgust as I slumped into my seat. "I hadn't realized that it was that close. I didn't think I was going to...I didn't see that it was that bad," I whispered.

It wasn't, he reassured me. Nobody died, right?

"Right," I said through my teeth. "Not this time."

Maybe it will get easier.

"Sure."

Or, maybe you kill her. He shrugged. You wouldn't be the first one to mess up. No one would judge you too harshly. Sometimes a person just smells too good. I'm impressed you've lasted this long.

"Not helping, Emmett."

I was revolted by his acceptance of the idea that I would kill the girl, that this was somehow inevitable. Was it her fault that she smelled so good?

I know when it happened to me..., he reminisced, taking me back with him half a century, to a country lane at dusk, where a middle-aged women was taking her dried sheets down from a line strung between apple trees. The scent of apples hung heavy in the air - the harvest was over and the rejected fruits were scattered on the ground, the bruises in their skin leaking their fragrance out in thick clouds. A fresh-mowed field of hay was a background to that scent, a harmony. He walked up the lane, all.

3. Phenomenon

Truly, I was not thirsty, but I decided to hunt again that night. A small ounce of prevention, inadequate though I knew it to be.

Carlisle came with me; we hadn't been alone together since I'd returned from Denali. As we ran through the black forest, I heard him thinking about that hasty goodbye last week.

In his memory, I saw the way my features had been twisted in fierce despair. I felt his surprise and sudden worry.

"Edward?"

"I have to go, Carlisle. I have to go now."

"What's happened?"

"Nothing. Yet. But it will, if I stay."

He'd reached for my arm. I felt how it had hurt him when I'd cringed away from his hand.

"I don't understand."

"Have you ever...has there ever been a time..."

I watched myself take a deep breath, saw the wild light in my eyes through the filter of his deep concern.

"Has any one person ever smelled better to you than the rest of them? Much better?"

"Oh."

When I'd known that he understood, my face had fallen with shame. He'd reached out to touch me, ignoring it when I'd recoiled again, and left his hand on my shoulder.

"Do what you must to resist, son. I will miss you. Here, take my car. It's faster."

He was wondering now if he'd done the right thing then, sending me away. Wondering if he hadn't hurt me with his lack of trust.

"No," I whispered as I ran. "That was what I needed. I might so easily have betrayed that trust, if you'd told me to stay."

"I'm sorry you're suffering, Edward. But you should do what you can to keep the Swan child alive. Even if it means that you must leave us again."

"I know, I know."

"Why did you come back? You know how happy I am to have you here, but if this is too difficult..."

"I didn't like feeling a coward," I admitted.

We'd slowed - we were barely jogging through the darkness now.

"Better that than to put her in danger. She'll be gone in a year or two." "You're right, I know that." Contrarily, though, his words only made me more anxious to stay. The girl would be gone in a year or two...

Carlisle stopped running and I stopped with him; he turned to examine my expression.

But you're not going to run, are you?

I hung my head.

Is it pride, Edward? There's no shame in -

"No, it isn't pride that keeps me here. Not now."

Nowhere to go?

I laughed shortly. "No. That wouldn't stop me, if I could make myself leave." "We'll come with you, of course, if that's what you need. You only have to ask. You've moved on without complaint for the rest of them. They won't begrudge you this."

I raised one eyebrow.

He laughed. "Yes, Rosalie might, but she owes you. Anyway, it's much better for us to leave now, no damage done, than for us to leave later, after a life has been ended." All humor was gone by the end.

I flinched at his words.

"Yes," I agreed. My voice sounded hoarse.

But you're not leaving?

I sighed. "I should."

"What holds you here, Edward? I'm failing to see..."

"I don't know if I can explain." Even to myself, it made no sense.

He measured my expression for a long moment.

No, I do not see. But I will respect your privacy, if you prefer.

"Thank you. It's generous of you, seeing as how I give privacy to no one." With one exception. And I was doing what I could to deprive her of that, wasn't I? We all have our quirks. He laughed again. Shall we?

He'd just caught the scent of a small herd of deer. It was hard to rally much enthusiasm for what was, even under the best of circumstances, a less than mouthwatering aroma. Right now, with the memory of the girl's blood fresh in my mind, the smell actually turned my stomach.

I sighed. "Let's," I agreed, though I knew that forcing more blood down my throat would help so little.

We both shifted into a hunting crouch and let the unappealing scent pull us silently forward.

It was colder when we returned home. The melted snow had refrozen; it was as if a thin sheet of glass covered everything - each pine needle, each fern frond, each blade of grass was iced over.

While Carlisle went to dress for his early shift at the hospital, I stayed by the river, waiting for the sun to rise. I felt almost swollen from the amount of blood I'd consumed, but I knew the lack of actual thirst would mean little when I sat beside the girl again.

Cool and motionless as the stone I sat on, I stared at the dark water running beside the icy bank, stared right through it.

Carlisle was right. I should leave Forks. They could spread some story to explain my absence. Boarding school in Europe. Visiting distant relatives. Teenage runaway. The story didn't matter. No one would question too intensely.

It was just a year or two, and then the girl would disappear. She would go on with her life - she would have a life to go on with. She'd go to college somewhere, get older, start a career, perhaps marry someone. I could picture that - I could see the girl dressed all in white and walking at a measured pace, her arm through her father's.