- Edward, Cullen
My legs were still numb and sluggish as we broke through the undergrowth. I could feel the shift of tensed muscle and the pounding rush of venom to my legs, triggering the fluctuating bursts of speed.
I could hear the solitary branches grasping at my clothes, the knees of my worn jeans rubbing together, our lithe steps caressing the layer of decomposing litter on the ground and the pop as our arms sliced through gathering shrubbery.
I knew Bella was in front of me, the ends of her hair tickling the tips of my fingers, her breath an extension of my own. Although her figure was wrapped within the camouflage suit, the painted colors weren’t hard to make out.
There was the thudding of paws not too far behind us, the depth of those amber eyes embedded into the skin of our backs. A snap of jaws – a flash of white – and a strip of material from my shirt was caught between its teeth. I felt Bella grab a hold of my wrist, her fingers digging through the skin and it almost felt like she was clutching the bone, pulling me fiercely to the right. The shape darted past.
“Edward,” she panted, winded from all of the restless running. “Are you hurt? Did it get you?”
Still weakened from the attack, Bella turned my stiff body, ignoring my protests and probed the attacked area. The skin was taut and rigid, but no damage, her knowing fingers loosening the apprehension knotted underneath. She gave a huff and fiercely pressed her lips against mine, grinding herself against me as if this were our last moment.
My response was just as deep, yet not so unyielding that I thought it was our last. I chuckled against her bittersweet lips, nipping her bottom lip in playfulness. Even though beautiful, strong and immortal, Bella still had that lingering mortal worry over situations. She thought everything was our end, that there would be no preceding act and that the curtains would drop. Still youthful in her abiding life, she would have yet to determine our finale and when everyone would fall like toy soldiers.
“You fret over nothing, love,” I breathed. The scent of Bella, soil, the cool night air with a tang of wild flowers stuck to the bridge of my mouth, my lips dry with the taste. “Although my shirt is injured enough for Alice to throw a fit.”
“I hope she doesn’t mind that it’s going to be coming back home in less pieces than it’s already in,” she teased. She was already pushing me against the trunk of a tree, the angle of her body pressed into mine.
My hand slid a painfully slow line from her ankle, up her leg, over the kneecap and over her thigh. Even through the rough fabric of the clothes, I could feel the shivers circling her skin were my fingers had touched. “You pick the worst places in which to seduce me, Mrs Cullen.”
“Perhaps,” her lips ghosted over mine. “But, that will have to wait till later.”
We began running once again.
Confusion wisped around me for a brief moment: this was not like Bella; normally we became so concentrated in our love that it never dilutes until we show each other how profound it is, but this time she had refrained. Did she also smell the raw danger in the air?
Cool, clear skies rose above us within the deep depths of the crowd of autumn trees. A crescent moon hung in the sky, its light having filtering the rays through the half bare trees, it casting a silvery glow against the ground.
The breeze whistling through the labyrinth of trunks made the shadows a constant circle of dancers: lengthening or shrinking, making it almost impossible for us to avoid the morphing darkness. We were running for our lives, myself checking over my shoulder every few seconds. For once in my everlasting life, I knew that if we were caught alone we could die.
If we were caught, we would die by the hands of this monster.
I didn’t want our lives to end. Not tonight, not when I still had so much to say and give to Bella, to watch our daughter, Renesmee, grow up and be happy with the man of her dreams. Not in this cool autumn night when we should be at our cottage, declaring our love to each other.
My heavy breath echoed in my mind, vibrating in my ears, making everything sound unclear and blurred, so I pushed myself to match my pace with Bella’s so we could find the others. Panic consumed me at this moment, filling every part of me. Never in my life had I imagined myself to do something as torturous as this – to have my life so nearly ripped away from me, and still running from it. How had we ended up running away from a monster?
The thud of paws inched closer to us again, the sound spurring my fear of being pulled away into hell nipping at my heels. This was no ordinary wolf – the Quileute’s were supernatural, but still somewhat normal – this was something I had never experienced in my life: A predator, the hunter and a natural born enemy.
Tree’s loomed over us taller and taller as we veered farther to the left, Bella’s nails embedded into my skin as she pulled me along. Our conjoined dread and terror worked in sync with our swift steps. Breathe, in and out. Paranoia. Fear, in and out. There was no difference between the heavy emotions weighing down my mind and the heaving breaths in my chest.
The thudding continued, louder than ever as if it was ricocheting through the tree’s and echoing through the ground. “Edward!” Bella shouted, releasing my hand and pointing through a clearing.
Through the break in the trees, salvation loomed tall and proud. The sight filled my now weak night-vision; it couldn’t have been presented better even if it was a beach during summer, the sea and sand embracing. The large dead tree was like heaven incarnated into a physical object and nothing could have made us exhale in relief any more than we did, butterflies now flaring in my chest.
Crouching down low, we forced ourselves into the crack in the dead tree’s trunk, us now encompassed by its rotten bark as we huddled tightly inside of the tree. The footsteps had stopped and I strained my hearing to listen for them: the thick thud of paws.
Pressed together in the shadows, our survival instincts melted together until we were both breathing heavily, knots tied tightly in both of our chests as shadows engulfed us. The silence was inevitable. We were speechless.
Seconds seemed to melt into minutes, the minutes becoming what felt like hours in the stillness of the tree trunk, as we held our breath.
All a sudden, there was a pained howl in the distance and Bella instantly stiffened against me. I could see her bottom lip quivering as she mouthed the words I was dreading, “The wolves.”
In a flurry, we forced ourselves out of the tree trunk and into the night. It felt too constricted, too thick like we were walking through soup. My body registered the sound before I heard it: the stealthy and quiet footsteps of a swift on-comer, and human.
I pushed Bella out of the way instantly, knocking her to the ground. I was hit head first; the impact so startling that it knocked a breath out of me. For a human, they were incredibly strong! Grappling with their arms, which were trying to wrap around my neck, I held them out of reach. He struggled, locking his knees tight around my legs so he was fixed in place.
“Edward,” Bella screamed. From the corner of my eye I could see her getting up, and within a second he snapped his eyes towards her and she crumpled onto her knees, two fists pressed against her head.
Venom raced around my body, flowing onto my parched tongue. “You shouldn’t have done that,” I hissed manically.
“I’m sure I should have,” he replied silkily. The moon came from behind a cloud and his face was illuminated: coppery skin, a scar running down from his right eyebrow before disappearing underneath his T-shirt, a skin-head haircut, those piercing amber eyes – the pupil enlarging in the moonlight – and a five-star pendant around his neck. At that moment, he unsheathed an angular knife from his belt and thrust it towards me.
I grabbed his arm, twisting it until I heard the crack, then he dropped down in inexorable pain cradling his arm to his chest. I jumped up, looming over him until my lengthened shadow played over his face. “That’s why you shouldn’t have done that.”
“You have no idea who you’re dealing with,” he spluttered, coughing up a few splatters of blood.
“Oh, I do,” I growled.
Turning away, I raced towards Bella who was hunched over on the ground. I shook her violently, trying to break her free from the pain, so I could absorb it all into my body and take it away. “I can’t breathe, E-Edward,” she sputtered, clutching at her throat. “The shield – it’s, can’t…EDWARD!”
He was back on his feet, the knife tightly grasped in his other hand and before I could react, he slashed it across my chest leaving a gaping wound stretched from my shoulder and across my abdomen. I seized the knife and tackled him, throwing us both down to the ground and both holding on.
As we wrestled on the ground, his concentration on Bella had vanished and she slumped onto her back, gasping for breath even though it was involuntary – we didn’t need to breathe. She watched as we started battle on two feet – the unknown stranger’s fingernails having been sharpened to points so there were like knives, myself dodging but taking a few hits – a row of small pointed wounds implanted into my arm, temporarily weakening it.
With a tactical advantage, the stranger grabbed a hold of me and twisted his arm around my neck, ready to snap it off. So this is what it felt like to be so weak and helpless, to not be-able to affect your last moment. As if almost possessed by a demon, Bella raced for the knife and threw it with such an impressive aim that it buried deep into the stranger’s shoulder blade, crippling him.
“Are you alright?” she questioned straight away, helping me to my feet.
I stroked her cheek, wiping away the dirt. “I’m fine, darling. Are you?”
Bella rolled her shoulders, hearing them crack. She gave that human flinch at the sound before smiling, “Just peachy.”
“This isn’t the end, Cullen,” he spit as he stood up, hobbling for a second before regaining balance. Grasping the blade in his shoulder blade, he ripped it away with a muffled groan of intense pain, bent down and wiped the blood against the grass. “I’ll be back, and then I will win.” With that he dashed away into the wood.
“Shouldn’t we go after him,” Bella pressed, grasping my shirt tightly while inspecting the wounds on my arms and chest.
I moaned as her fingers ghosted over the damage, clutching my chest. The pain was actually agony, yet how come he ran away when he had suffered so much. My vision became blurry with an aching burning spreading everywhere. “No,” I sighed. “We’ve seen and tested his abilities, for now we must check on the wolves.”
“Agreed,” Bella nodded, wrapped my arm around her shoulder and we sped off into the forest tracing the scent of wolf.
We found them rather quicker than I had hoped. At that moment, all I wanted was the wind against my burning body as we ran. It cooled and soothed me.
Once we were in the clearing, Bella sat me down and I leaned against an outcrop of rock so I wouldn’t fall. The wolves seemed to be in count, but I could see that minor damage had been dealt. Sam was the worst: I could tell by his thoughts that his pride had been wounded deeply.
“Are you’s alright?” Bella asked the wolves eagerly, expanding her shield around us knowing that we were no longer safe here in the forest.
Jared came out from the bushes, having just changed, a make-shift bandage wrapped around his leg. He grinned wildly, “Were fine, just a few scrapes and bruises. Our pride was hurt badly though.”
“What happened here?” I demanded from them, although my voice was less commanding than intended, just rather weak. Sam gave a side-ways glance at me, his thoughts heavy with what happened. I got the story before I could blink.
Bella stamped her foot, “Can someone tell me? Were not all mind-readers here and it seems we’ve both been attacked.”
“When you left, Bella, to see if you can find Edward here, we found a different scent and tracked it. For a while everything was quiet but then we caught your scent.”
“And?” she pressed determined.
Quill was sitting cross-legged by the fire, roasting what looked like marshmallows. He was unusually not damaged. He looked perfectly fine, as a matter of fact. “Before we could reach you,” he continued the story. “We were ambushed by a girl.”
“Yeh, a pretty little girl with frills. Sam’s pride has been seriously injured that we lost, right?” Paul boosted, his laughter echoing loud in the thickets of the trees.
Sam growled, still in his immediate wolf form. His jet black fur symbolized his darkening mood. I heard him in his mind shout: shut up Paul.
“Anyways, we under-estimated her and got our asses kicked by a girl. She was pretty strong, although those glowing amber eyes of her’s were darn creepy.”
I sat up suddenly, my spine iron-stiff. “Amber eyes, did you say?”
“That’s what our ambusher had? Do you think it’s a common familiarity between them,” Bella questioned, taking over for me. Currently, I felt like going into a deep sleep – that’s if only I could have. The fight had weakened me considerably, yet we didn’t know how.
Jared shrugged, “It’s possible.”
There was a shrouded silence before Quill interrupted again but this time his voice was hoarse. “I think it’s time we should tell them.”
Sam bounded through the under-growth and quicker than a flash he was back, grinding his teeth. “We’ve had a hard enough of a job keeping this from Seth, what makes you think we should tell Leah. It’s going to make things a lot worse! There was even a leech outside the hospital when we went to visit her mom, yet she didn’t move! Vancouver has changed her, she won’t care!”
“You what?!” I shouted, standing up until I had to fall back down. Bella was at side instantly, soothing me. “A vampire was with Leah?”
“Not with her, but I knew she could smell it to. The thing was near and she didn’t even care,” his voice was strained, fists bunched.
Jared picked off Quill’s marshmallow from the roasting stick, Quill slapping him across the head playfully before he muttered a curse. “Quill has a point; they need to know, Sam.” The words were hard to make out as his teeth were stuck together.
“They do not!”
“Sam,” Bella chimed her voice low and calm. “Do you think it would be better if Seth and Leah knew the situation? We know Leah is snooping anyways, wouldn’t it make matters worse if she found out on her own. Plus, Emb–”
He strode towards Bella and for a moment he was thinking of raising a hand to her and I hissed through clenched teeth. He backed down. “Don’t you bring that up here. I know what happened!”
“We should go home, process what happened, heal” – she looked at me – “see our families, then we’ll regroup and think through this together,” she suggested.
“And tell Leah and Seth?” Paul added in.
Sam nodded, his head bowed. “So it’s all sorted,” I replied soberly.
Bella stroked my shoulder, putting very little weight on it. “We must tell Leah and Seth about how the pack is disappearing, how Embry disappeared a day ago and about the creatures lurking in the forest. She’ll understand. Maybe she’ll even know something.”
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- How will Leah react to being told?
- Who do you think is kidnapping the wolves?
- What and who are the people that attacked the pack and Edward & Bella?