February 17, 2010
Seth didn’t stay long. In fact, none of us did. We’re all in Forks right now—except for Carlisle, Esme, and Renesmee. They’re still in New Hampshire. We’ve been here for a while. I was more than excited about Seth’s visit. We all were, but we weren’t overly-enthused about the news he brought with him.
Seth can’t fake that huge, happy grin. I knew almost immediately that he was hiding something. He was worried. His eyes gave it away. They were obscure and overshadowed the innocent smile he was trying to fake. I saw the same dark concern clouding Jake’s eyes, too. His usual sunny face was becoming more of a dark, ebony sky. I was worried, but didn’t want to cross-examine them as soon as they arrived.
I waited for Edward to come home. I figured he would just listen in on Seth and Jacob’s thoughts and tell me what was bothering them if they didn’t speak up themselves. Edward and Jasper returned from hunting about twenty minutes after Seth and Jacob got to New Hampshire, to our over-sized house, fit for a family of thirty. Edward and Jasper were testing out a brand new hunting spot they found, about a twenty minute run north of our usual spot. Apparently it’s more discrete: no trails, and has an ample supply of deer.
Immediately after welcoming Jacob and Seth, Edward’s eyes grew cold, his eyebrows knitting together. I was anticipating this. For once, I was one step ahead of Edward. Now, I just had to wait. Being immortal doesn’t mean I don’t ever get impatient. Believe me, I do. The twenty minutes I had been waiting for Edward seemed . . . well, longer than twenty minutes. I get anxious when I’m worried, uncertain.
“I can’t stay long, unfortunately. I have to get back to La Push. There is something I need to tell all of you, though.” Seth’s eyes lingered on me longer than anyone else. He took in a full breath before continuing. “After you all left Forks, we stopped transforming pretty much right away. Recently, however, we’ve gotten ourselves a little visitor. We haven’t seen the vampire yet, but we’ve caught their scent and have been shape-shifting again. There have been three reported deaths due to ‘animal attacks’ in the past week.” His tone edged towards anger.
‘Animal attacks.’ Those two words brought back vague, yet haunting memories from my human life. When I was like all the others, believing that there really were vicious animals in Forks. That it was animals who killed Charlie’s friend, Waylon Forge. Whoever it is doesn’t seem concerned about the Volturi. If anyone else is killed, the town will become increasingly suspicious of these so-called animal attacks.
Jake kept his eyes fixated on Renesmee. He didn’t want to be apart from her, that much I knew. I didn’t know that he had something to tell me, though—until Edward gave it away. “Jake, are you going to tell her, or should I?” Edward spoke grimly.
“I’d prefer if you told her. I’m not good at this kind of thing. You have more experience than I do.” Jacob’s expression was submissive.
My eyes flickered nervously between Edward and Jacob, my patience tapering off with each passing second. “Will someone just tell me. I can handle it. Whatever it is couldn’t surprise me anymore than everything else I’ve witnessed in my short lifetime.” My lips involuntarily pulled down into a frown as I anticipated the worst.
“Mike Newton was one of the humans who was attacked in Forks, Bella. I’m sorry. I know he was a friend of yours since you moved to Forks. He was home for the Christmas holidays and picked up a few shifts at his family’s store.” Edward lowered his voice with each sentence. “He was closing the store alone, and—”
“He never made it back home.” I finished Edward’s sentence. It took me a few minutes to take everything in. My mind flickered to the memories I still had of Mike, tucked away in the back of my head. His smile. His innocent baby face. His many attempts to get me to date him. I thought about Jessica, too. This won’t be easy for her. Me, well . . . I’m going to have to get used to this type of thing now. This is the life I’ve chosen.
Now that I am different, cold, immortal, death will have to become something routine for me. Something I will deal with constantly. I knew that before I was turned. It’s not like I woke up one day and thought I think I’ll get Edward to turn me into a vampire for the fun of it. I knew the reality of it. The bad parts, and the good. I didn’t react to what Edward just told me, and I could see the confusion dominating everyone’s expressions. The truth is, I didn’t know exactly how to outlet my feelings. As a human, you just cry. It’s easy. Now, I just feel angry when I’m upset. Confused.
“Well, we aren’t going to let you go back alone. If there is a vampire in Forks, I think Charlie and I would be of use. We’re both still very strong. I want to help.” I bit my lower lip, catching Nessie’s worried expression out of the corner of my eye. She just heard Edward say that Mike was killed by this vampire, and here I was offering myself up on a silver platter. I don’t even know what we are facing. It could be an army of vampires. Newborns. Strong, vicious newborns. I reconsidered. Not out of fear for myself, but for Renesmee. If Jacob is gone to La Push, it’s just not fair for me to leave too.
Turns out, I didn’t have a choice. I had to go. Jacob had more to tell me, but he couldn’t say it in front of Nessie. He casually asked me to follow him up the winding staircase, keeping a fake smile plastered on his face so Renesmee wouldn’t sense anything. Edward followed, his porcelain hand brushing the small of my back as we quickly ran up the stairs. Edward already knew what Jacob was going to tell me, of course.
Without wasting even a second, Jake closed the door to Carlisle’s office and began. “This vampire is after you for some reason, Bella. We’re almost certain there’s only one. We found footsteps in the snow all around your cabin in Forks. The window was left open, too. They’ve been inside. At this point, we believe the only way to lure whoever it is out of hiding, is if you were in Forks.” Jake’s voice was filled with certainty.
I wasn’t afraid. I had no choice. If whoever was after me came at me blindsided I would stand less of a chance, so I might as well face this head on, and destroy them. I couldn’t figure out why someone would be out to get me, though. I hadn’t broken any rules—well, nothing I haven’t already suffered for. Edward was just as confused as me, and he refused to let me go back to Forks without him.
“Esme, Rosalie, Carlisle . . . I’m sure someone can stay back and watch Renesmee. She is safe here in New Hampshire. I can’t let you go alone, Bella. I won’t. I’ll be able to read their mind and we’ll be at a great advantage. Alice needs to come, too. She can help us figure out what path the attacker is on.” Edward was already half way back down the stairs before he finished his sentence. He was right, he needed to be there. We needed to be able to read the attackers mind and figure out what they were really after, and why.
Carlisle and Esme stayed back in New Hampshire with Renesmee. I hated leaving her, but I couldn’t let whoever was after me trace my scent to New Hampshire, putting Nessie in direct danger. I had to go to them.
As soon as we got back to Forks, Edward, Charlie and I went directly to our cabin, while Seth and Jacob headed back to La Push to check in with Leah to see if she had seen anything new. Rosalie, Emmett, Alice & Jasper went back to the big white Cullen house to see if anyone had been there.
Jake was right. The attacker was after me. The clothes that were left in my closet were now flung all over the floor, while Edward’s remained perfectly untouched. I dragged in a deep breath—a habit from my time as a human. I knew this vampire wasn’t afraid. I couldn’t perfectly decipher my emotions, but I knew I wasn’t afraid, either. More anxious. Curious, maybe. But I’m a predator now. I no longer feel fear the same way I used to.
I heard the crackle of sticks outside of the cabin and figured Jake, Paul, and Leah were coming by to make sure everything was okay. Edward crouched low, as if he were ready to spring, and his upper lip pulled over his teeth as he let out a loud growl. Instinctively, I went into the same position. I could see that there was no time for Edward to elaborate on what he had heard, and I sprung through the door after him, Charlie following right after me.
She stood there, cat-like, with her brilliant red hair blowing in the cold winter wind. Her teeth were exposed and she was in a crouch. She was barefoot. My eyes darted down at her shirt. It was my shirt. She was wearing my clothing and this angered me even more. Her eyes were bright red and I couldn’t help but think of the life draining from Mike’s innocent face between her deadly grip. I let out a loud growl that echoed through the forest. I could hear the wolves running, their paws racing toward us.
It wasn’t her, though . . . that I knew.