I'm trying to catch up on writing. I apologize and I thank those who are being patient with me :)
Chapter 17: Instruction
Bella was predictably silent for the rest of the night. Alice confirmed that she knew everything, and had been there for the conversation with the wolves. I knew she was lost in her thoughts, and I didn’t want to push her to talk before she was ready. Although I was anxious as to what her reaction was going to be.
We had come up with a plan of sorts in the meantime. We would get the newborns to split up, making it even easier on ourselves to take care of them. The finer details still needed to be worked out, but overall everyone was happy with the plans, and now we were growing almost as excited as Emmett for the actual fight to take place.
It was past midnight when the last of our party guests left and Bella and I were finally leaving to bring her home. She was still worried and anxious as we left, and my family tried their best to reassure her. Jasper used his abilities to make her feel a false peace. She still hadn’t given more than one word responses, but finally began to speak as we drove toward her house in the dark.
“That had to be the longest party in the history of the world,” she complained.
I definitely agreed with that statement. The emotional roller coaster we had been on that night was impossible to comprehend. I felt particularly bad for Jasper.
“It’s over now,” I soothed, rubbing her arm.
“You’re taking me with you tonight,” she whispered.
“Bella, you’re worn out.”
“You think I could sleep?” she asked.
“This is an experiment,” I tried explaining. “I’m not sure if it will be possible for us all to…cooperate. I don’t want you in the middle of that.”
“If you won’t take me, then I’ll call Jacob,” she said indignantly.
I glared out the window, but didn’t respond. The mutt would come running if she called, and I knew it. I let it drop, hoping she would fall deeply asleep before it was time to go.
“See you upstairs,” she said as we pulled in front of the house.
I turned the car around and sped home quickly, wanting to get back as fast as possible in order to help her fall asleep. I only had less than three hours to work with. When I got back to her room, she was grabbing clothes to change into – a flannel shirt and jeans. She was definitely serious about coming with me. She took only a few moment s in the bathroom before returning fully dressed. I threw her a disapproving look from the rocking chair I sat in.
“Come here,” she said, pulling me up and bringing me to her bed.
She pushed me down, and curled up tightly against my chest, in an obvious attempt to keep me from sneaking off without her. I sighed, pulling the quilt up around her. Every muscle in her body was tense.
“Please relax,” I begged.
“This is going to work, Bella. I can feel it,” I attempted to reassure her. It didn’t work; if anything her muscles tensed up more.
“Listen to me, Bella,” I continued. “This is going to be easy. The newborns will be completely taken by surprise. They’ll have no more idea that werewolves exist than you did. I’ve seen how they act in a group, the way Jasper remembers. I truly believe that the wolves’ hunting techniques will work flawlessly against them. And with them divided and confused, there won’t be enough for the rest of us to do. Someone may have to sit out.”
“Piece of cake,” she muttered angrily.
“Shhh. You’ll see. Don’t worry now,” I appeased, stroking her cheek lightly.
I tried humming her lullaby, but it was of no use tonight. Her body never lost any of the tension, and it made it impossible for her to fall asleep. She was still so silent, and I wanted to ask her what was on her mind, but I was desperately trying to get her to calm down. When the time came to leave for the clearing, she was still wide awake.
“Are you sure you don’t want to stay and sleep?” I urged, earning me a glare from her.
I sighed, pulling her into my arms and jumping lightly out the window. I ran the entire way, with her on my back, and it reminded me of earlier times when we would run to the meadow. Just the two of us, with nothing to worry about – on my end anyway. Bella was still anxious. I know she could feel how relaxed I was as she clung to my back, but that didn’t seem to calm any of her fears. I idly wondered why she was more upset now that we had help than she was when it was just my family against the newborns, but chose not to dwell on it for my own sanity.
When we arrived at the clearing I let her down gently, taking her hand in mine. My family was across the field, sitting casually and talking. Emmett was particularly excited about the night’s activities. I smiled and started to lead Bella to where they were, but she stopped me.
“You know what I think?” she asked.
I laughed at how paradoxical that statement was. “No.”
She got the joke, and the corners of her mouth twitched in response.
“What do you think?” I asked seriously.
“I think it’s all connected. Not just the two, but all three.”
I stared at her blankly. “You’ve lost me.”
“Three bad things have happened since you came back,” she explained, counting them on her fingers as she went. “The newborns in Seattle. The stranger in my room. And – first of all – Victoria came to look for me.”
I hadn’t considered Victoria to have anything to do with the newborns, but with everything else that had gone on lately, it didn’t seem logical to rule it out completely. “Why do you think so?”
“Because I agree with Jasper – the Volturi love their rules. They would probably do a better job anyway.” She paused. “Remember when you were tracking Victoria last year?”
“Yes,” I replied, frowning at the memory. “I wasn’t very good at it.”
“Alice said you were in Texas. Did you follow her there?”
“Yes. Hmm…” She had been in Texas, and finding out all about newborn armies would be easy there.
“See – she could have gotten the idea there. But she doesn’t know what she’s doing, so the newborns are out of control.”
But Alice’s visions had to be taken into account. “Only Aro knows exactly how Alice’s visions work.”
“Aro would know best, but wouldn’t Tanya and Irina and the rest of your friends in Denali know enough? Laurent lived with them for so long. And if he was friendly enough with Victoria to be doing favors for her, why wouldn’t he also tell her everything he knew?”
I had to give Bella credit. She was being extremely insightful today, and coming up with theories none of us had even considered before. I was deeply proud of her.
“Victoria wasn’t in your room,” I pointed out.
“She can’t make new friends? Think about it, Edward. If it is Victoria doing this in Seattle, she’s made a lot of new friends. She’s created them.”
I considered her theory carefully. It made as much sense as the Volturi being involved did, although they were still at the top of my suspect list. The diabolical ideas I had heard in Aro’s mind last time we met made it hard for me to believe it could be anyone else.
“Hmm,” I replied after a moment. “It’s possible. I still think the Volturi are most likely…But your theory – there’s something there. Victoria’s personality. Your theory suits her personality perfectly. She’s shown a remarkable gift for self-preservation from the start – maybe it’s a talent of hers. In any case, this plot would put her in no danger at all from us, if she sits safely behind and lets the newborns wreak their havoc here. And maybe little danger from the Volturi, either. Perhaps she’s counting on us to win, in the end, though certainly not without heavy casualties of our own. But no survivors from her little army to bear witness against her. In fact, if there were survivors, I’d bet she’d be planning to destroy them herself…Hmm. Still, she’d have to have at least one friend who was a bit more mature. No fresh-made newborn left your father alive…”
The more I spoke of it out loud, the more it made sense. It really did tie in perfectly to Victoria’s personality, and she was definitely deranged enough to go to all the trouble of creating an army to extract her revenge on us. I just wished we could know for certain what we were up against.
I looked at Bella again, and gave her a small smile.”Definitely possible. Regardless, we’ve got to be prepared for anything until we know for sure. You’re very perceptive today. It’s impressive.”
She sighed. “Maybe I’m just reacting to this place. It makes me feel like she’s close by…like she sees me now.”
The first time any of us had laid eyes on Victoria, it had been in this same clearing, and I knew it made Bella uneasy. “She’ll never touch you, Bella,” I promised.
I scanned the forest then, although I knew there was nothing there. If only I would catch a glimpse of that wild red hair through the trees…
“Yet, what I wouldn’t give to have her that close,” I murmured. “Victoria, and anyone else who’s ever thought of hurting you. To have the chance to end this myself. To finish it with my own hands this time.”
I was disturbingly eager to come face-to-face with Victoria again. She had made our lives a living hell for so long, and I had many times fantasized about all the ways I could slowly destroy her for what she had done. Bella gazed at me with a furrowed brow, squeezing my fingers tightly as a shudder racked her body. I gave her a small reassuring smile as we continued walking to where the rest of the family was located.
“Is something wrong with Alice?” Bella whispered to me as we approached.
I chuckled as I glanced at my sister, who was still pouting at the loss of visions caused by the wolves. “The werewolves are on their way, so she can’t see anything that will happen now. It makes her uncomfortable to be blind.”
Alice looked at me and very maturely stuck her tongue out. Don’t you make fun of me, Edward Cullen. I laughed at her again, this time more loudly.
“Hey, Edward. Hey, Bella,” Emmett greeted us. “Is he going to let you practice too?”
I groaned. Knowing Bella, it would be entirely possible for her to suggest such a thing. “Please, Emmett, don’t give her any ideas.”
“When will our guests arrive?” Carlisle asked, turning to me.
I listened intently for a moment, trying to pick up the thoughts of the pack. I realized quickly that they were not coming in human form.
“A minute and a half,” I sighed. “But I’m going to have to translate. They don’t trust us enough to use their human forms.”
Carlisle nodded. “This is hard for them. I’m grateful they’re coming at all.”
Bella looked at me nervously. “They’re coming as wolves?”
I nodded at her. The minds of the pack were getting louder now, clearer. It was quite amazing the way their thoughts worked when they were in wolf form. Every member’s different thoughts interconnecting into one shared mind. It was complicated, and fascinating, and I had to focus all of my concentration to pick out the thoughts I wanted to hear. Quickly, I counted the voices I heard. It seemed there were more voices than I had anticipated.
“Prepare yourselves – they’ve been holding out on us,” I told my family.
“What do you mean?” Alice asked, angrily. Stupid wolves. I can’t see anything!
“Shh,” I told her, turning to face the darkness.
My family spread out in an informal line, Bella and I staying a half-step behind everyone else. We watched as the wolves came forward, staying partially hidden by the shadows of the trees. There were ten of them, almost double what we had been aware of.
“Damn,” Emmett exclaimed quietly. “Did you ever see anything like it?”
“What is it?” Bella whispered, tugging on my arm. “I can’t see.”
“The pack has grown,” I murmured distractedly. We watched in silence a few more moments, as I took the time to tap into their inner voices. I was being pulled from one mind to the other rapidly, and yet they all had the same thoughts. I made myself familiar with Sam’s voice, as he was the Alpha, and therefore the spokesperson of the group. “Fascinating,” I said under my breath as I listened.
The things running through their minds…It was as if their entire souls were laid out in front of me, waiting for me to read them.
Carlisle took a slow step toward the tree line. “Welcome,” he greeted the pack.
“Thank you,” I replied automatically, channeling Sam’s voice. “We will watch and listen, but no more. That is the most we can ask of our self-control.”
“That is more than enough,” Carlisle assured them. “My son Jasper has experience in this area. He will teach us how they fight, how they are to be defeated. I’m sure you can apply this to your own hunting style.”
“They are different than you?” I asked for Sam.
Carlisle nodded. “They are all very new – only months old to this life. Children, in a way. They will have no skill or strategy, only brute strength. Tonight their numbers stand at twenty. Ten for us, ten for you – it shouldn’t be difficult. The numbers may go down. The new ones fight amongst themselves.”
The packs thoughts shifted quickly amongst them. They were all eager for a fight. I spoke as Sam did. “We are willing to take more than our share, if necessary.”
I heard Emmett’s thoughts, which he thankfully did not speak out loud. They’re not taking my share. Greedy bastards. I almost chuckled.
“We’ll see how it plays out,” Carlisle said, smiling.
“Do you know when and how they’ll arrive?”
“They’ll come across the mountains in four days, in the late morning,” Carlisle explained what Alice had told him. “As they approach, Alice will help us intercept their path.”
“Thank you for the information. We will watch.” And with that, they laid on the ground one by one, their eyes closely watching us.
Jasper was slightly uncomfortable with our audience, and it took a moment for him to step forward. He looked at me uneasily and silently asked Should I begin? I nodded, and he sighed, facing only us.
“Carlisle’s right,” he began. “They’ll fight like children. The two most important things you’ll need to remember are, first, don’t let them get their arms around you, and, second, don’t go for the obvious kill. That’s all they’ll be prepared for. As long as you come at them from the side and keep moving, they’ll be too confused to respond effectively. Emmett?”
Emmett stepped toward Jasper, a look of pure delight on his face. Yes! Now the real fun starts!
Jasper led Emmett further into the center of the clearing, getting into a position where both vampires and werewolves would have a good view of what was going on.
“Okay, Emmett first. He’s the best example of a newborn attack,” Jasper said.
Emmett narrowed his eyes, offended by the comment. “I’ll try not to break anything,” he murmured.
“What I mean is that Emmett relies on his strength,” Jasper said, grinning at Emmett’s challenge. “He’s very straightforward about the attack. The newborns won’t be trying anything subtle, either. Just go for the easy kill, Emmett.”
He backed up a little more, tensing for the attack. “Okay, Emmett – try to catch me.”
A fraction of a second later, Emmett was barreling full-speed to where Jasper had been standing, but Jasper was on the move. Every time Emmett would charge, Jasper would dart sideways just out of reach of his grasp before Emmett had a chance to react. This went on for a couple of minutes, and I watched Jasper’s movements intently, wanting to remember exactly what I was taught. Emmett charged Jasper again, and Jasper moved to the side as he had before. But this time, he doubled back as fast as lightning and had Emmett locked from behind, his teeth at his throat.
Emmett cursed under his breath, more colorful language flooding his mind. The wolves were surprisingly impressed with Jasper.
“Again,” Emmett growled. He did not like being beat.
“It’s my turn,” I stated loudly, wanting to put what I had seen into practice. Bella tensed up beside me.
“In a minute,” Jasper grinned at our enthusiasm. “I want to show Bella something first.” You know how worried she is about Alice, Edward.
I didn’t protest as he waved her forward. Bella’s heartbeat soared as she watched Alice dance in front of Jasper.
“I know you worry about her,” he said to Bella. “I want to show you why that’s not necessary.”
I could see why Bella would be unnerved by the thought of Alice fighting. She was quite small and dainty, and if she was human she would probably be even more breakable than Bella. However, the Alice we know is far more ferocious than Bella gave her credit for.
Jasper crouched, ready to pounce on Alice, and Bella clenched my hand nervously. Alice closed her eyes for effect; she wanted to prove to Bella that she was capable of taking care of herself, even without seeing. She was relying on her hearing to know when Jasper pounced, and when he did, she would take the smallest of steps to the side, and Jasper would end up on the other side of her, missing by a long shot. They did this several times, moving faster and faster. It was like watching a beautiful dance. Finally, once Alice was sure Bella got the point, she made her move and ended up in the same position Jasper had been on Emmett.
“Gotcha,” she giggled, kissing his neck.
“You truly are one frightening little monster,” Jasper chuckled.
The pack’s thoughts were awed, and slightly uneasy. They hadn’t expected little Alice to be capable of helping much in a fight.
“It’s good for them to learn some respect,” I said quietly, then turned to Jasper. “My turn.”
I squeezed Bella’s hand reassuringly before letting her go, walking to take Alice’s place as she came to take mine beside Bella.
I planned on making this fight a good one, especially with our audience hidden in the trees. I particularly wanted Jacob Black to know that if he really wanted to fight, I was not one to be underestimated. I knew Bella wouldn’t be happy with that particular train of thought.
I approached Jasper slowly, slightly-crouched, prepared to attack. We circled slowly, both making false-starts to throw the other. Finally I pounced, but Jasper saw it coming and darted away before I could grasp him. He then lunged at me, but I was tapped into his mind and saw the attack before he had a chance to act, giving me a half-second advantage to dart out of the way. We did this over and over again, neither gaining the upper hand. It was his experience against my advantage of reading his mind, and nobody was winning. We were impulsively snarling and growling at each other as we lunged and snapped. I saw in Jasper’s mind that he was enjoying the challenge of fighting against me.
I don’t know how long we kept it up until Carlisle finally cleared his throat loudly, snapping us out of our trance. Jasper laughed, and I smiled, both of us straightening up.
“Back to work,” Jasper said. “We’ll call it a draw.”
Everyone took a turn against Jasper, and whoever wasn’t fighting was paying strict attention. I was listening to Jasper’s tips as well as the pack’s thoughts. They were learning things along the way as well; and were pretty impressed with the entire family’s skills, although they would never admit it out loud. When they weren’t concentrated on the fight, I got a first-hand look into the dynamics of the pack, and was surprised by some of the things I found. I knew Bella would be interested in a lot of the stories they had to tell, and made a mental note to talk to her about some of them later.
Eventually, the exhaustion started catching up to Bella, and she leaned her body against mine for support. Her eyes were heavy, and her face was pale with exhaustion. “We’re about finished,” I promised her.
I’ll wrap it up for the night, Edward. Jasper thought, overhearing me. He turned grudgingly toward the pack. “We’ll be doing this tomorrow. Please feel welcome to observe again.”
“Yes,” I replied for Sam again. “We’ll be here.”
Then Sam had a request that was not going to please anyone, but was necessary. I sighed, and turned to my family. “The pack thinks it would be helpful to be familiar with each of our scents – so they don’t make mistakes later. If we could hold very still, it will make it easier for them.”
“Certainly,” Carlisle replied. “Whatever you need.”
There were grumbles from both the minds of the pack and my family as we spread out for them. Sam led the rest of the pack down the line, sniffing at each of us in turn. We stood as motionless as statues, some of us more relaxed than others. Carlisle and Esme were, of course, perfectly fine with having the wolves in such a close proximity to them. Emmett, too, was surprisingly calm, although his thoughts gave him away. He wanted one of them to lose control, so he could have something to practice his new fighting tactics on. Rosalie was disgusted, and kept her face in a menacing sneer. Alice was uneasy, but in control. The wolves would wince slightly as they smelled us, and it was quite difficult to not do the same. The smell of wet dog permeating the air was less than appealing.
I watched Bella intently as the wolves came closer. I knew she was scared of them, although she always tried to be brave. I saw in his mind that Jacob wanted to approach her, and I didn’t know how she would feel about that. As far as I knew, they had made up from their fight, but seeing him in this form might make her more than uneasy. I was ready to jump in and whisk her away at a moment’s notice.
Jacob made eye contact with Bella, turning his face into a foolish grin which I suppose she found endearing. She giggled slightly. He grinned wider, and started slowly walking toward her. The rest of the pack was annoyed with his actions, but he didn’t seem to care as he came to a stop two feet away from her. He looked towards me, wondering if I was going to stop him, but I stayed where I was, motionless. He took this as reassurance to get closer, and he dropped his head down to meet her gaze.
“Jacob?” she whispered.
Jacob let out a low chuckle. Bella hesitantly reached out a hand and ran it through the fur on his neck slowly. He leaned into her hand and let out a pleasurable hum. I twitched, my instinct telling me to grab her and run. Carlisle noticed, and sent me a warning glance. Stay calm, Edward.
Jacob unexpectedly licked her then, the entire length of her face. I was horrified. What was with him continuously forcing his saliva on my love? I wasn’t alone with my thoughts. My sibling’s thoughts were as disgusted as my own.
That is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen! Rosalie exclaimed.
Ew, man, I hope you make her take a shower before you kiss her again. Emmett was tactful as ever.
Gross. I would have stopped that if I would have seen it. Alice was still sulking.
Oh, that’s kind of sweet. That was Esme, ever the compassionate one.
Even the wolves were taken aback by Jacob’s actions. Sam seemed particularly displeased, but Jacob studiously ignored them.
Bella herself didn’t seem very affected by the incident. “Ew! Gross, Jake!” she said, jumping back and wiping her face off on her sleeve. She slapped at him, but he dodged her easily, laughing. Then she joined him in his laughter.
I was slightly annoyed at her reaction, although I suppose I shouldn’t have suspected anything less. I was hoping she would be irritated with him, or at least a little put off by his wolf form. But she was just as at ease as she always was with him.
She finally looked up, and blushed slightly as she realized we were all watching their exchange. She locked eyes on me, and I tried to pull my expression back together quickly. Jacob, though, apparently saw the disbelief on my face and laughed again, his thoughts smug.
The pack finally began retreating into the trees, leaving only Jacob and two others in the clearing. I sighed, and took Bella’s hand.
“Ready to go?” I asked her wearily.
Where is she going to be when the fight takes place? Jacob thought.
“I’ve not quite figured out all the details yet,” I said. In actuality, I hadn’t figured out any details. I knew I had to get her out of Forks, but the idea of her being anywhere by herself made it impossible for me to make a decision yet.
Well if you don’t have a plan yet, then just leave her with me. I’ll protect her.
“It’s more complicated than that,” I said, keeping myself from scoffing at such a horrible idea. “Don’t concern yourself; I’ll make sure it’s safe.”
“What are you talking about?” Bella asked, glancing from Jacob to myself and back again.
“Just discussing strategy,” I told her.
Strategy? Really? That’s all you’re going to tell her? looked at me, then Bella, and then back to me. When I didn’t say anything else he huffed. This is stupid, I’ll be right back. He turned and ran to the shelter of the trees to change back into human form.
“Wait,” Bella called after him, and then turned to me. “Why did he leave?”
“He’s coming back,” I said, then sighed. “He wants to be able to talk for himself.”
Bella relaxed, leaning into me again. She was worn out, and all I wanted was to get her home and in bed, not argue with the dog. Jacob came back into view then, trotting back toward Bella and I, making sure to ignore my family who were on the other side of the clearing. A quick scan of the woods confirmed that his two friends were still in the trees, watching for any sign of trouble.
“Okay, bloodsucker,” Jacob said, a scowl on his face. “What’s so complicated about it?”
“I have to consider every possibility. What if someone gets by you?”
Jacob snorted, over-confident in himself. “Okay, so leave her on the reservation. We’re making Collin and Brady stay behind anyway. She’ll be safe there.”
“Are you talking about me?” Bella asked suddenly, a frown on her face.
“I just want to know what he plans to do with you during the fight,” Jacob told her. I knew that was the wrong choice of words before she even replied, and mentally cursed him.
“Do with me?” she exploded.
“You can’t stay in Forks, Bella,” I said soothingly. “They know where to look for you there. What if someone slipped by us?”
Her face fell and she gasped. “Charlie?”
“He’ll be with Billy,” Jacob assured her. “If my dad has to commit a murder to get him there, he’ll do it. Probably it won’t take that much. It’s this Saturday, right? There’s a game.”
“This Saturday?” she asked sleepily. “Well, crap! There goes your graduation present.”
I laughed at her outburst. She was most definitely overly tired. “It’s the thought that counts. You can give the tickets to someone else.”
“Angela and Ben,” she decided with a nod. “At least that will get them out of town.”
I stroked her cheek lightly. “You can’t evacuate everyone. Hiding you is just a precaution. I told you – we’ll have no problem now. There won’t be enough of them to keep us entertained.”
“But what about keeping her in La Push?” Jacob asked, irritation thick in his voice. He wasn’t enjoying Bella and my moment.
“She’s been back and forth too much. She’s left trails all over the place. Alice only sees very young vampires coming on the hunt, but obviously someone created them. There is someone more experienced behind this. Whoever he –“ I paused, glancing at Bella. “—or she is, this could all be a distraction. Alice will see if he decides to look himself, but we could be very busy at the time that decision is made. Maybe someone is counting on that. I can’t leave her somewhere she’s been frequently. She has to be hard to find, just in case. It’s a very long shot, but I’m not taking chances.”
Bella was frowning at me, not convinced that it wasn’t a bigger concern than I was trying to make it seem. “Just being overcautious,” I told her, patting her arm.
“So hide her here,” he said, gesturing widely toward the forest and mountains surrounding us. “There’s a million possibilities – places either one of us could be in just a few minutes if there’s a need.”
“Her scent is too strong and, combined with mine, especially distinct. Even if I carried her, it would leave a trail. Our trace is all over the range, but in conjunction with Bella’s scent, it would catch their attention. We’re not sure exactly which path they’ll take, because they don’t know yet. If they crossed her scent before they found us…” I trailed off, grimacing. I looked up to see the same look plastered on Jacob’s face. “You see the difficulties.”
“There has to be a way to make it work,” Jacob said, glancing around us. He was carefully going over all possible places for Bella to hide in his mind. He desperately wanted to keep her close, but I just didn’t see it being possible.
Beside me, Bella began to sway, no longer able to hold herself up.
“I need to get you home – you’re exhausted,” I told her. “And Charlie will be waking up soon…”
I was interrupted by Jacob. “Wait a sec. My scent disgusts you, right?”
I could see the plan forming in his mind.
“Hmm, not bad. It’s possible,” I said. I turned to where my family was standing. “Jasper?”
Both Jasper and Alice made their way over to us quickly, and Jacob opened his arms to Bella. Both she and Jasper looked at him skeptically, and I took a deep, calming breath. This was going to be difficult.
“We’re going to see if I can confuse the scent enough to hide your trail,” Jacob explained to Bella.
She still seemed weary, and I sighed. “You’re going to have to let him carry you, Bella.”
She frowned, not moving, and Jacob rolled his eyes at her before sweeping her into his arms.
“Don’t be such a baby,” he said under his breath. Both of their eyes flashed to me, gauging my reaction. I had my face composed in an unreadable mask.
I turned to Jasper, just wanting to get this over with as quickly as possible. “Bella’s scent is so much more potent to me – I thought it would be a fairer test if someone else tried.”
Jacob turned to walk into the trees, and my hands clenched into fists at my sides. He was trying a little too hard to keep his thoughts clean, but I could see under them easily. Bella in that intimate of a position allowed him to let his fantasies run wild.
Jasper and Alice followed a few steps behind Jacob and Bella. Luckily they didn’t go far, and after making a wide half circle they doubled back into the clearing.
When they broke through the trees I heard Bella protest. “You can put me down now.”
“I don’t want to take the chance of messing up the experiment,” Jacob replied innocently. I’m sure Bella and I both knew his true intentions.
“You are so annoying,” Bella pouted.
“Thanks.” She fits perfectly in my arms, like she was meant to be there.
I let out a low hiss under my breath, and Alice and Jasper were at my side in an instant. Jasper sent me waves of calm that were greatly appreciated. Finally, Jacob took a final step forward and set Bella on her feet. She walked briskly to my side, and squeezed my hand lovingly.
“Well?” she asked.
“As long as you don’t touch anything, Bella, I can’t imagine someone sticking their nose close enough to that trail to catch your scent,” Jasper said, wrinkling his nose at the memory. “It was almost completely obscured.”
“A definite success,” Alice chimed, making the same disgusted face that Jasper had.
“And it gave me an idea,” Jasper confided.
“Which will work,” Alice replied, a short vision playing through her mind.
“Clever,” I agreed when I saw what they were planning.
Wow, that’s annoying. “How do you stand that?” Jacob asked Bella.
I brushed him off, turning to Bella. “We’re – well, you’re – going to leave a false trail to the clearing, Bella. The newborns are hunting, your scent will excite them, and they’ll come exactly the way we want them to without being careful about it. Alice can already see that this will work. When they catch our scent, they’ll split up and try to come at us from two sides. Half will go through the forest, where her vision suddenly disappears…”
“Yes!” Jacob exclaimed, and I gave him a small smile.
It would be even easier if Bella was in the clearing with us when they came…
“Not a chance,” I hissed, turning on Jasper.
“I know, I know. I didn’t even consider it, not really,” he replied
Um, hello? Not a mind reader! Alice thought before stepping on Jasper’s foot.
“If Bella was actually there in the clearing it would drive them insane,” Jasper explained. “They wouldn’t be able to concentrate on anything but her. It would make picking them off truly easy…” strategically speaking, it’s a great plan.
I glared at him dangerously, and he quickly continued. “Of course it’s too dangerous for her. It was just an errant thought.” But still…
“No,” I replied in a tone that insinuated there would be no further discussion on the matter.
“You’re right,” he said, grabbing Alice’s hand and leading her away. “Best two out of three?”
It’s wonderful that her family is willing to put her right in the path of danger when it suits them. And she loves these leeches?
“Jasper looks at things from a military perspective,” I explained quietly. “He looks at all the options – it’s thoroughness, not callousness.”
Jacob snorted. Sure, sure.
By this time, I was more than ready to end this day. Bella was exhausted, and although I didn’t need sleep, I was feeling worn out as well. Dealing with werewolves will have that effect on you.
“I’ll bring her here Friday afternoon to lay the false trail. You can meet us afterward, and carry her to a place I know. Completely out of the way, and easily defensible, not that it will come to that. I’ll take another route there.”
“And then what? Leave her with a cell phone?” Jacob challenged.
“You have a better idea?” I asked wearily.
“Actually, I do.” Seth.
One of the youngest of the wolves, none of them were comfortable with Seth being involved in the fight, no matter how easy it would be.
“Oh…Again, dog, not bad at all,” I praised.
Jacob turned to Bella to explain. “We tried to talk Seth into staying behind with the younger two. He’s still too young, but he’s stubborn and he’s resisting. So I thought of a new assignment for him – cell phone.”
Bella nodded, but her face was still confused.
“As long as Seth Clearwater is in his wolf form, he’ll be connected to the pack,” I elaborated, then turned to Jacob. “Distance isn’t a problem?”
“Nope,” he said, his thoughts drifting to a time they had communicated from three hundred miles away.
“Three hundred miles? That’s impressive.”
Jacob turned to Bella again. “That’s the farthest we’ve ever gone to experiment. Still clear as a bell.”
Bella nodded, but her eyes were glazed over.
“It’s a good idea,” I admitted. “I’ll feel better with Seth there, even without the instantaneous communication. I don’t know if I’d be able to leave Bella there alone. To think it’s come to this, though! Trusting werewolves!”
“Fighting with vampires instead of against them!” Jacob returned, disgusted.
“Well, you still get to fight against some of them,” I offered.
He smiled slightly. “That’s the reason we’re here.”