Midnight Sun (Twilight #1.5)(5)


by Stephenie Meyer

No, there was no helpful breeze. But I didn't have to breathe.

I stopped the flow of air through my lungs; the relief was instantaneous, but incomplete. I still had the memory of the scent in my head, the taste of it on the back of my tongue. I wouldn't be able to resist even that for long. But perhaps I could resist for an hour. One hour. Just enough time to get out of this room full of victims, victims that maybe didn't have to be victims. If I could resist for one short hour.

It was an uncomfortable feeling, not breathing. My body did not need oxygen, but it went against my instincts. I relied on scent more than my other senses in times of stress. It led the way in the hunt, it was the first warning in case of danger. I did not often came across something as dangerous as I was, but self-preservation was just as strong in my kind as it was in the average human.

Uncomfortable, but manageable. More bearable than smelling her and not sinking my teeth through that fine, thin, see-through skin to the hot, wet, pulsing - An hour! Just one hour. I must not think of the scent, the taste.

The silent girl kept her hair between us, leaning forward so that it spilled across her folder. I couldn't see her face, to try to read the emotions in her clear, deep eyes. Was this why she'd let her tresses fan out between us? To hide those eyes from me? Out of fear? Shyness? To keep her secrets from me?

My former irritation at being stymied by her soundless thoughts was weak and pale in comparison to the need - and the hate - that possessed me now. For I hated this frail woman-child beside me, hated her with all the fervor with which I clung to my former self, my love of my family, my dreams of being something better than what I was... Hating her, hating how she made me feel - it helped a little. Yes, the irritation I'd felt before was weak, but it, too, helped a little. I clung to any emotion that distracted me from imagining what she would taste like...

Hate and irritation. Impatience. Would the hour never pass?

And when the hour ended... Then she would walk out of this room. And I would do what?

I could introduce myself. Hello, my name is Edward Cullen. May I walk you to your next class?

She would say yes. It would be the polite thing to do. Even already fearing me, as I suspected she did, she would follow convention and walk beside me. It should be easy enough to lead her in the wrong direction. A spur of the forest reached out like a finger to touch the back corner of the parking lot. I could tell her I'd forgotten a book in my car...

Would anyone notice that I was the last person she'd been seen with? It was raining, as usual; two dark raincoats heading the wrong direction wouldn't pique too much interest, or give me away.

Except that I was not the only student who was aware of her today - though no one was as blisteringly aware as I was. Mike Newton, in particular, was conscious of every shift in her weight as she fidgeted in her chair - she was uncomfortable so close to me, just as anyone would be, just as I'd expected before her scent had destroyed all charitable concern. Mike Newton would notice if she left the classroom with me.

If I could last an hour, could I last two?

I flinched at the pain of the burning.

She would go home to an empty house. Police Chief Swan worked a full day. I knew his house, as I knew every house in the tiny town. His home was nestled right up against thick woods, with no close neighbors. Even if she had time to scream, which she would not, there would be no one to hear.

That would be the responsible way to deal with this. I'd gone seven decades without human blood. If I held my breath, I could last two hours. And when I had her alone, there would be no chance of anyone else getting hurt. And no reason to rush through the experience, the monster in my head agreed.

It was sophistry to think that by saving the nineteen humans in this room with effort and patience, I would be less a monster when I killed this innocent girl. Though I hated her, I knew my hatred was unjust. I knew that what I really hated was myself. And I would hate us both so much more when she was dead.

I made it through the hour in this way - imagining the best ways to kill her. I tried to avoid imagining the actual act. That might be too much for me; I might lose this battle and end up killing everyone in sight. So I planned strategy, and nothing more. It carried me through the hour.

Once, toward the very end, she peeked up at me through the fluid wall of her hair. I could feel the unjustified hatred burning out of me as I met her gaze - see the reflection of it in her frightened eyes. Blood painted her cheek before she could hide in her hair again, and I was nearly undone.

But the bell rang. Saved by the bell - how cliché. We were both saved. She, saved from death. I, saved for just a short time from being the nightmarish creature I feared and loathed.

I couldn't walk as slowly as I should as I darted from the room. If anyone had been looking at me, they might have suspected that there was something not right about the way I moved. No one was paying attention to me. All human thoughts still swirled around the girl who was condemned to die in little more than an hour's time.

I hid in my car.

I didn't like to think of myself having to hide. How cowardly that sounded. But it was unquestionably the case now.

I didn't have enough discipline left to be around humans now. Focusing so much of my efforts on not killing one of them left me no resources to resist the others. What a waste that would be. If I were to give in to the monster, I might as well make it worth the defeat.

I played a CD of music that usually calmed me, but it did little for me now. No, what helped most now was the cool, wet, clean air that drifted with the light rain through my open windows. Though I could remember the scent of Bella Swan's blood with perfect clarity, inhaling the clean air was like washing out the inside of my body from its infection.

I was sane again. I could think again. And I could fight again. I could fight against what I didn't want to be.

I didn't have to go to her home. I didn't have to kill her. Obviously, I was a rational, thinking creature, and I had a choice. There was always a choice.

It hadn't felt that way in the classroom...but I was away from her now. Perhaps, if I avoided her very, very carefully, there was no need for my life to change. I had things ordered the way I liked them now. Why should I let some aggravating and delicious nobody ruin that?

I didn't have to disappoint my father. I didn't have to cause my mother stress, worry...pain. Yes, it would hurt my adopted mother, too. And Esme was so gentle, so tender and soft. Causing someone like Esme pain was truly inexcusable.