Midnight Sun (Twilight #1.5)(17)


by Stephenie Meyer

I would go talk to her. She looked like she could use a hand anyway, at least until she was off the slick pavement. Of course, I couldn't offer her that, could I? I hesitated, torn. As adverse as she seemed to be to snow, she would hardly welcome the touch of my cold white hand. I should have worn gloves -

"NO!" Alice gasped aloud.

Instantly, I scanned her thoughts, guessing at first that I had made a poor choice and she saw me doing something inexcusable. But it had nothing to do with me at all. Tyler Crowley had chosen to take the turn into the parking lot at an injudicious speed. This choice would send him skidding across a patch of ice...

The vision came just half a second before the reality. Tyler's van rounded the corner as I was still watching the conclusion that had pulled the horrified gasp through Alice's lips.

No, this vision had nothing to do with me, and yet it had everything to do with me, because Tyler's van - the tires right now hitting the ice at the worst possible angle - was going to spin across the lot and crush the girl who had become the uninvited focal point of my world.

Even without Alice's foresight it would have been simple enough to read the trajectory of the vehicle, flying out of Tyler's control.

The girl, standing in the exactly wrong place at the back of her truck, looked up, bewildered by the sound of the screeching tires. She looked straight into my horrorstruck eyes, and then turned to watch her approaching death.

Not her! The words shouted in my head as if they belonged to someone else.

Still locked into Alice's thoughts, I saw the vision suddenly shift, but I had no time to see what the outcome would be.

I launched myself across the lot, throwing myself between the skidding van and the frozen girl. I moved so fast that everything was a streaky blur except for the object of my focus. She didn't see me - no human eyes could have followed my flight - still staring at the hulking shape that was about to grind her body into the metal frame of her truck.

I caught her around the waist, moving with too much urgency to be as gentle as she would need me to be. In the hundredth of a second between the time that I yanked her slight form out of the path of death and the time that I crashed into to the ground with her in my arms, I was vividly aware of her fragile, breakable body.

When I heard her head crack against the ice, it felt like I had turned to ice, too.

But I didn't even have a full second to ascertain her condition. I heard the van behind us, grating and squealing as it twisted around the sturdy iron body of the girl's truck. It was changing course, arcing, coming for her again - like she was a magnet, pulling it toward us.

A word I'd never said before in the presence of a lady slid between my clenched teeth.

I had already done too much. As I'd nearly flown through the air to push her out of the way, I'd been fully aware of the mistake I was making. Knowing that it was a mistake did not stop me, but I was not oblivious to the risk I was taking - taking, not just for myself, but for my entire family.

Exposure.

And this certainly wasn't going to help, but there was no way I was going to allow the van to succeed in its second attempt to take her life.

I dropped her and threw my hands out, catching the van before it could touch the girl. The force of it hurled me back into the car parked beside her truck, and I could feel its frame buckle behind my shoulders. The van shuddered and shivered against the unyielding obstacle of my arms, and then swayed, balancing unstably on the two far tires. If I moved my hands, the back tire of the van was going fall onto her legs.

Oh, for the love of all that was holy, would the catastrophes never end? Was there anything else that could go wrong? I could hardly sit here, holding the van in the air, and wait for rescue. Nor could I throw the van away - there was the driver to consider, his thoughts incoherent with panic.

With an internal groan, I shoved the van so that it rocked away from us for an instant. As it fell back toward me, I caught it under the frame with my right hand while I wrapped my left arm around the girl's waist again and drug her out from under the van, pulling her tight up against my side. Her body moved limply as I swung her around so that her legs would be in the clear - was she conscious? How much damage had I done to her in my impromptu rescue attempt?

I let the van drop, now that it could not hurt her. It crashed to the pavement, all the windows shattering in unison.

I knew that I was in the middle of a crisis. How much had she seen? Had any other witnesses watched me materialize at her side and then juggle the van while I tried to keep her out from under it? These questions should be my biggest concern.

But I was too anxious to really care about the threat of exposure as much as I should. Too panic-stricken that I might have injured her myself in my effort to protect her. Too frightened to have her this close to me, knowing what I would smell if I allowed myself to inhale. Too aware of the heat of her soft body, pressed against mine - even through the double obstacle of our jackets, I could feel that heat...

The first fear was the greatest fear. As the screaming of the witnesses erupted around us, I leaned down to examine her face, to see if she was conscious - hoping fiercely that she was not bleeding anywhere.

Her eyes were open, staring in shock.

"Bella?" I asked urgently. "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine." She said the words automatically in a dazed voice.

Relief, so exquisite it was nearly pain, washed through me at the sound of her voice. I sucked in a breath through my teeth, and did not mind the accompanying burn in my throat. I almost welcomed it.

She struggled to sit up, but I was not ready to release her. It felt somehow...safer? Better, at least, having her tucked into my side.

"Be careful," I warned her. "I think you hit your head pretty hard."

There had been no smell of fresh blood - a mercy, that - but this did not rule out internal damage. I was abruptly anxious to get her to Carlisle and a full compliment of radiology equipment.

"Ow," she said, her tone comically shocked as she realized I was right about her head.

"That's what I thought." Relief made it funny to me, made me almost giddy. "How in the..." Her voice trailed off, and her eyelids fluttered. "How did you get over here so fast?"

The relief turned sour, the humor vanished. She had noticed too much.

Now that it appeared that the girl was in decent shape, the anxiety for my family became severe.

"I was standing right next to you, Bella." I knew from experience that if I was very confident as I lied, it made any questioner less sure of the truth.