*by Stephenie Meyer*
TWILIGHT - chapter 18 - THE HUNT
"Let's go, Bella." Edward's voice was low and bleak.
This whole time I'd been rooted in place, terrified into absolute immobility. Edward had to grip my elbow and pull sharply to break my trance. Alice and Emmett were close behind us, hiding me. I stumbled alongside Edward, still stunned with fear. I couldn't hear if the main group had left yet. Edward's impatience was almost tangible as we moved at human speed to the forest edge.
Once we were into the trees, Edward slung me over his back without breaking stride. I gripped as tightly as possible as he took off, the others close on his heels. I kept my head down, but my eyes, wide with fright, wouldn't close. They plunged through the now-black forest like wraiths. The sense of exhilaration that usually seemed to possess Edward as he ran was completely absent, replaced by a fury that consumed him and drove him still faster. Even with me on his back, the others trailed behind.
We reached the Jeep in an impossibly short time, and Edward barely slowed as he flung me in the backseat.
"Strap her in," he ordered Emmett, who slid in beside me.
Alice was already in the frnot seat, and Edward was starting the engine. It roared to life and we swerved backward, spinning around ro face the winding road.
Edward was growling something too fast for me to understand, but it sounded a lot like a strning of profanities.
The jolting trip was much worse this time, and the darkness only made it more frightening. Emmett and Alice both glared out the side windows.
We hit the main road, and though our speed increased, I could see much better where we were going. And we were headed south, away from Forks.
"Where are we going?" I asked.
No one answered. No one even looked at me.
"Dammit, Edward! Where are you taking me?"
"We have to get you away from here - far away - now." He didn't look back, his eyes on the road. The speedometer read a hundred and five miles an hour.
"Turn around! You have to take me home!" I shouted. I struggled with the stupid harness, tearing at the straps.
"Emmett," Edward said grimly.
And Emmett secured my hands in his steely grasp.
"No! Edward! No, you can't do this."
"I have to, Bella, now please be quiet."
"I won't! You have to take me back - Charlie will call the FBI! They'll be all over your family - Carlisle and Esme! They'll have to leave, to hide forever!"
"Calm down, Bella." His voice was cold. "We've been there before."
"Not over me, you don't! You're not ruining everything over me!" I struggled violently, with total futility.
Alice spoke for the first time. "Edward, pull over."
He flashed her a hard look, and then sped up.
"Edward, let's just talk this through."
"You don't understand," he roared in frustration. I'd never heard his voice so loud; it was deafening in the confines of the Jeep. The speedometer neared a hundred and fifteen. "He's a tracker, Alice, did you see that? He's a tracker!"
I felt Emmett stiffen next to me, and I wondered at his reaction to the word. It meant something more to the three of them than it did to me; I wanted to understand, but there was no opening for me to ask.
"Pull over, Edward." Alice's tone was reasonable, but there was a ring of authority in it I'd never heard before.
I speedometer inched passed one-twenty.
"Do it, Edward."
"Listen to me, Alice. I saw his mind. Tracking is his passion, his obsession - and he wants her, Alice - her, specifically. He bgins the hunt tonight."
"He doesn't know where - "
He interrupted her. "How long do you think it will take him to cross her scent in town? His plan was already sat before the words were out of Laurent's mouth."
I gasped, knowing where my scent would lead. "Charlie! You can't leave him there! You can't leave him!" I thrashed against the harness.
"She's right," Alice said.
The car slowed slightly.
"Let's just look at our options for a minute," Alice coaxed.
The car slowed again, more noticeable, and then suddenly we screeched to a stop on the shoulder of the highway. I flew against the harness, and then slammed back into the seat.
"There are no options," Edward hissed.
"I"m not leaving Charlie!" I yelled.
He ignored me completely.
"We have to take her back," Emmett finally spoke.
"No." Edward was absolute.
"He's no match for us, Edward. He won't be able to touch her."
Emmett smiled. "I can wait, too."
"You didn't see - you don't understand. Once he commits to a hunt, he's unshakable. We'd have to kill him."
Emmett didn't seem upset by the idea. "That's an option."
"And the female. She's with him. If it turns into a fight, the leader will go with them, too."
"There are enough of us."
"There's another option," Alice said quietly.
Edward turned on her in fury, his voice a blistering snarl. "There - is - no - other - option!"
Emmett and I both stared at him in shock, but Alice seemed unsurprised. The silence lasted for a long minute as Edward and Alice stared each other down.
I broke it. "Does anyone want to hear my plan?"
"No," Edward growled. Alice glared at him, finally provoked.
"Listen," I pleaded. "You take me back."
"No," he interrupted.
I glared at him and continued. "You take me back. I tell my dad I want to go home to Phoenix. I pack my bags. We wait till this tracker is watching, and then we run. He'll follow us and leave Charlie alone. Charlie won't call the FBI on your family. Then you can take me any damned place you want."
They stared at me, stunned.
"It's not a bad idea, really." Emmett's surprise was definitely an insult.
"It might work - and we simply can't leave her father unprotected. You know that," Alice said.
Everyone looked at Edward.
"It's too dangerous - I don't want him within a hundred miles of her."
Emmett was supremely confident. "Edward, he's not getting through us."
Alice thought for a minute. "I don't see him attacking. He'll try to wait for us to leave her alone."
"It won't take long for him to realize that's not going to happen."
"I demand that you take me home." I tried to sound firm.
Edward pressed his fingers to his temples and squeezed his eyes shut.
"Please," I said in a much smaller voice.
He didn't look up. When he spoke, his voice sounded worn.
"You're leaving tonight, whether the tracker sees or not. You tell Charlie that you can't stand another minute in Forks. Tell him whatever story works. Pack the first things your hands touch, and then get in your truck. I don't care what he says to you. You have fifteen minutes. Do you hear me? Fifteen minutes from the time you cross the doorstep."
The Jeep rumbled to life, and he spun us around, the tires squealing. The needle on the speedometer started to race up the dial.
"Emmett?" I asked, looking pointedly at my hands.
"Oh, sorry." He let me loose.