Midnight Sun (Twilight #1.5)(8)


by Stephenie Meyer

I sighed again, but didn't move to unearth myself. The blackness under the snow neither hurt nor improved the view. I still saw the same face.

"Edward?"

Then snow was flying again as Tanya swiftly disinterred me. She brushed the powder from my unmoving face, not quite meeting my eyes.

"Sorry," she murmured. "It was a joke."

"I know. It was funny."

Her mouth twisted down.

"Irina and Kate said I should leave you alone. They think I'm annoying you." "Not at all," I assured her. "On the contrary, I'm the one who's being rude - abominably rude. I'm very sorry."

You're going home, aren't you? she thought.

"I haven't...entirely...decided that yet."

But you're not staying here. Her thought was wistful now, sad.

"No. It doesn't seem to be...helping."

She grimaced. "That's my fault, isn't it?"

"Of course not," I lied smoothly.

Don't be a gentleman.

I smiled.

I make you uncomfortable, she accused.

"No."

She raised one eyebrow, her expression so disbelieving that I had to laugh. One short laugh, followed by another sigh.

"All right," I admitted. "A little bit."

She sighed, too, and put her chin in her hands. Her thoughts were chagrined.

"You're a thousand times lovelier than the stars, Tanya. Of course, you're already well aware of that. Don't let my stubbornness undermine your confidence." I chuckled at the unlikeliness of that.

"I'm not used to rejection," she grumbled, her lower lip pushing out into an attractive pout.

"Certainly not," I agreed, trying with little success to block out her thoughts as she fleetingly sifted through memories of her thousands of successful conquests. Mostly Tanya preferred human men - they were much more populous for one thing, with the added advantage of being soft and warm. And always eager, definitely.

"Succubus," I teased, hoping to interrupt the images flickering in her head. She grinned, flashing her teeth. "The original."

Unlike Carlisle, Tanya and her sisters had discovered their consciences slowly. In the end, it was their fondness for human men that turned the sisters against the slaughter. Now the men they loved...lived.

"When you showed up here," Tanya said slowly. "I thought that..." I'd known what she'd thought. And I should have guessed that she would have felt that way. But I hadn't been at my best for analytical thinking in that moment.

"You thought that I'd changed my mind."

"Yes." She scowled.

"I feel horrible for toying with your expectations, Tanya. I didn't mean to - I wasn't thinking. It's just that I left in...quite a hurry."

"I don't suppose you'd tell me why...?"

I sat up and wrapped my arms around my legs, curling defensively. "I don't want to talk about it."

Tanya, Irina and Kate were very good at this life they'd committed to. Better, in some ways, than even Carlisle. Despite the insanely close proximity they allowed themselves with those who should be - and once were - their prey, they did not make mistakes. I was too ashamed to admit my weakness to Tanya.

"Woman troubles?" she guessed, ignoring my reluctance.

I laughed a bleak laugh. "Not the way you mean it."

She was quiet then. I listened to her thoughts as she ran through different guesses, tried to decipher the meaning of my words.

"You're not even close," I told her.

"One hint?" she asked.

"Please let it go, Tanya."

She was quiet again, still speculating. I ignored her, trying in vain to appreciate the stars.

She gave up after a silent moment, and her thoughts pursued a new direction.

Where will you go, Edward, if you leave? Back to Carlisle?

"I don't think so," I whispered.

Where would I go? I could not think of one place on the entire planet that held any interest for me. There was nothing I wanted to see or do. Because, no matter where I went, I would not be going to anywhere - I would only be running from.

I hated that. When had I become such a coward?

Tanya threw her slender arm around my shoulders. I stiffened, but did not flinch out from under her touch. She meant it as nothing more than friendly comfort. Mostly. "I think that you will go back," she said, her voice taking on just a hint of her long lost Russian accent. "No matter what it is...or who it is...that is haunting you. You'll face it head on. You're the type."

Her thoughts were as certain as her words. I tried to embrace the vision of myself that she carried in her head. The one who faced things head on. It was pleasant to think of myself that way again. I'd never doubted my courage, my ability to face difficulty, before that horrible hour in a high school biology class such a short time ago.

I kissed her cheek, pulling back swiftly when she twisted her face toward mine, her lips already puckered. She smiled ruefully at my quickness.

"Thank you, Tanya. I needed to hear that."

Her thoughts turned petulant. "You're welcome, I guess. I wish you would be more reasonable about things, Edward."

"I'm sorry, Tanya. You know you're too good for me. I just...haven't found what I'm looking for yet."

"Well, if you leave before I see you again...goodbye, Edward."

"Goodbye, Tanya." As I said the words, I could see it. I could see myself leaving. Being strong enough to go back to the one place where I wanted to be. "Thanks again."

She was on her feet in one nimble move, and then she was running away, ghosting across the snow so quickly that her feet had no time to sink into the snow; she left no prints behind her. She didn't look back. My rejection bothered her more than she'd let on before, even in her thoughts. She wouldn't want to see me again before I left.

My mouth twisted with chagrin. I didn't like hurting Tanya, though her feelings were not deep, hardly pure, and, in any case, not something I could return. It still made me feel less than a gentleman.

I put my chin on my knees and stared up at the stars again, though I was suddenly anxious to be on my way. I knew that Alice would see me coming home, that she would tell the others. This would make them happy - Carlisle and Esme especially. But I gazed at the stars for one more moment, trying to see past the face in my head. Between me and the brilliant lights in the sky, a pair of bewildered chocolate-brown eyes stared back at me, seeming to ask what this decision would mean for her. Of course, I couldn't be sure if that was really the information her curious eyes sought. Even in my imagination, I couldn't hear her thoughts. Bella Swan's eyes continued to question, and an unobstructed view of the stars continued to elude me. With a heavy sigh, I gave up, and got to my feet. If I ran, I would be back to Carlisle's car in less than an hour...