Midnight Sun PDF Chapter 5 Read Free Online

Full Read the Online Chapter 5 — INVITATIONS of Midnight Sun Book PDF by Stephenie Meyer the Author of the best-selling book Twilight Saga.

Midnight Sun PDF Book Online By Stephenie Meyer Free Chapter 5 — INVITATIONS


I was doing everything correctly now. Every i dotted, every t crossed.

No one could complain that I was shirking my responsibilities.

To please Esme and protect the others, I stayed in Forks. I returned to my old schedule. I hunted no more than the rest of them. Every day, I attended high school and played human. Every day, I listened carefully for anything new about the Cullens—there was never anything new. The girl did not speak one word of her suspicions. She just repeated the same story —I’d been standing with her and then pulled her out of the way—till her eager listeners got bored and stopped looking for more details. There was no danger. My hasty action had hurt no one.

No one but myself.

I was determined to change the future. Not the easiest task to set for oneself, but there was no other choice I could live with.

Alice said that I would not be strong enough to stay away from the girl. I would prove her wrong.

I’d thought the first day would be the hardest. By the end of it, I’d been sure that was the case. I’d been wrong, though.

It had rankled, knowing that I would hurt the girl. I’d comforted myself with the fact that her pain would be nothing more than a pinprick—just a tiny sting of rejection—compared to mine. Bella was human, and she knew that I was something else, something wrong, something frightening. She would probably be more relieved than wounded when I turned my face away from her and pretended that she didn’t exist.

“Hello, Edward,” she’d greeted me that first day back in Biology. Her voice had been pleasant, friendly, one hundred eighty degrees from the last time I’d spoken with her.

Why? What did the change mean? Had she forgotten? Decided she had imagined the whole episode? Could she possibly have forgiven me for not following through on my promise?

The questions had stabbed and twisted like the thirst that attacked me every time I breathed.

Just one moment to look in her eyes. Just to see if I could read the answers there.…

No. I could not allow myself even that. Not if I was going to change the future.

I’d moved my chin an inch in her direction without looking away from the front of the room. I’d nodded once, then turned my face straight forward.

She did not speak to me again.

That afternoon, as soon as school was finished, my role played, I ran halfway to Seattle, as I had the day before. It seemed that I could handle the aching just slightly better when I was flying over the ground, turning everything around me into a green blur.

This run became my daily habit.

Did I love her? I did not think so. Not yet. Alice’s glimpses of that future had stayed with me, though, and I could see how easy it would be to fall into loving Bella. It would be exactly like falling: effortless. Not letting myself love her was the opposite of falling—it was pulling myself up a cliff face, hand over hand, the task as grueling as if I had no more than mortal strength.

More than a month passed, and every day it got harder. That made no sense to me—I kept waiting to get over it, to have the struggle become easier or at least level off. This must be what Alice had meant when she’d predicted that I would not be able to stay away from the girl. She had seen the escalation of the pain.

But I could handle pain.

I would not destroy Bella’s future. If I was destined to love her, then wasn’t avoiding her the very least I could do?

Avoiding her was about the limit of what I could bear, though. I could pretend to ignore her and never look her way. I could pretend that she was of no interest to me. But I still hung on every breath she took, every word she spoke.

I couldn’t watch her with my eyes, so I watched her through the eyes of others. The vast majority of my thoughts revolved around her as though she was the center of my mind’s gravity.

As this hell ground on, I lumped my torments into four categories.

The first two were familiar. Her scent and her silence. Or rather—to take the responsibility on myself, where it belonged—my thirst and my curiosity.

The thirst was the most primal of my torments. It was my habit now to simply not breathe at all in Biology. Of course, there were always the exceptions—when I had to answer a question, and I would need my breath to speak. Each time I tasted the air around the girl, it was the same as the first day—fire and need and brutal violence desperate to break free. It was hard to cling even slightly to reason or restraint in those moments. And, just like that first day, the monster in me would roar, so close to the surface.

The curiosity was the most constant of my torments. The question was never out of my mind: What is she thinking now? When I heard her quiet sigh, she twisted a lock of hair absently around her finger, threw her books down with more force than usual, she rushed into class late. When she tapped her foot impatiently against the floor. Each movement caught in my peripheral vision was a maddening mystery. When she spoke to the other human students, I analyzed her every word and tone. Was she speaking her thoughts, or what she thought she should say? It often sounded to me as though she was trying to say what her audience expected, and this reminded me of my family and our daily life of illusion—we were better at it than she was. But why would she have to play a role? She was one of them—a human teenager.

Only… she occasionally didn’t behave like one. For example, when Mr. Banner assigned a group project in Biology. It was his practice to let the students choose their partners. As always happened with group projects, the bravest of the ambitious students—Beth Daws and Nicholas Laghari— quickly asked if I would join them. I shrugged my acceptance. They knew I would complete my portion perfectly, and theirs, too, if they left it undone.

It was unsurprising that Mike allied himself with Bella. What was unexpected was Bella’s insistence on the third member of their group, Tara Galvaz.

Mr. Banner usually had to assign Tara to a group. She looked more

surprised than pleased when Bella tapped her on the shoulder and awkwardly asked if she wanted to work with her and Mike.

“Whatever,” Tara responded.

When she was back at her seat, Mike hissed at her, “She’s a total stoner.

She won’t do any work. I think she’s failing Biology.”

Bella shook her head and whispered back, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll catch whatever she misses.”

Mike wasn’t appeased. “Why did you do that?”

It was the same question I was dying to ask her, though not in the same tone.

Tara was, in fact, failing Biology. Mr. Banner was thinking about her now, both surprised and touched by Bella’s choice.

No one ever gives that kid a chance. Nice of Bella—she’s kinder than most of these cannibals.

Had Bella noticed how Tara was usually ostracized by the rest of the class? I could imagine no reason besides kindness for reaching out to her, especially with Bella’s shyness in the way. I wondered how much discomfort it had caused her and decided it was probably more than any other human here would have been willing to go through for a stranger.

Given Bella’s grasp of Biology, I wondered if the grade from this project would even save Tara from failure, in this class at least. And that was exactly what happened.

Then there was the time at lunch when Jessica and Lauren were talking about the number-one dream destinations on their bucket lists. Jessica chose Jamaica, only to feel immediately one-upped when Lauren countered with the French Riviera. Tyler chimed in with Amsterdam, thinking of the famous red-light district, and the others began sounding off. I waited anxiously for Bella’s answer to the question, but before Mike (who liked the idea of Rio) could ask for her take, Eric enthusiastically named Comic Con, and the table erupted in laughter.

“What a dork,” Lauren hissed. Jessica snickered. “I know, right?” Tyler rolled his eyes.

“You’re never going to get a girlfriend,” Mike told Eric.

Bella’s voice, louder than her usual timid volume, cut into the melee. “No, that’s cool,” Bella insisted. “That’s where I’d want to go, too.”

Mike was immediately backpedaling. “I mean, I guess some of the costumes are cool. Slave Leia.” Should have kept my mouth shut.

Jessica and Lauren exchanged a glance, frowning.

Ugh, please, Lauren thought.

“We should totally go,” Eric enthused at Bella. “I mean, after we save up enough.” Comic Con with Bella! Even better than Comic Con alone…

Bella was thrown for a second, but after a quick glance at Lauren’s expression, she doubled down. “Yeah, I wish. It’s probably way too expensive though, right?”

Eric started breaking down ticket prices and hotels versus sleeping in a car. Jessica and Lauren returned to their earlier conversation while Mike listened unhappily to Eric and Bella.

“Do you think it’s a two-day drive or three?” Eric was asking. “No idea,” Bella said.

“Well, how long a drive is it from here to Phoenix?”

“You can do it in two days,” she said with confidence. “If you’re willing to drive fifteen hours a day.”

“San Diego should be a little closer than that, right?”

I seemed to be the only one who noticed the light bulb going on over Bella’s head.

“Oh yeah, San Diego definitely is closer. Still two days for sure, though.”

It was clear she hadn’t even known the location of Comic Con. She’d only chimed in to save Eric from teasing. It was revealing of her character —I was always compiling my list—but now I would never know where she would have chosen for herself. Mike was nearly as dissatisfied, but he seemed oblivious to her real motivations.

It was often like this with her: never stepping out of her quiet comfort zone except for someone else’s perceived need; changing the subject whenever her circle of human friends grew too cruel to one another; thanking a teacher for their lesson if that teacher seemed down; giving up her locker for a more inconvenient location so two best friends could be neighbors; smiling a certain smile that never surfaced for her contented friends, only revealing itself to someone who was hurting. Little things that none of her acquaintances or admirers ever seemed to see.

Through all these little things, I was able to add the most important quality to my list, the most revealing of them all, as simple as it was rare. Bella was good. All the other things added up to that whole: Kind and self- effacing and unselfish and brave—she was good through and through. And no one seemed aware of that besides me. Though Mike was certainly observing her nearly as often.

And right there was the most surprising of my torments: Mike Newton. Who would have ever dreamed that such a generic, boring mortal could be so infuriating? To be fair, I should have felt some gratitude to him; more than the others, he kept the girl talking. I learned so much about her through these conversations, but Mike’s assistance with this project only aggravated me. I didn’t want him to be the one who unlocked her secrets.

It helped that he never noticed her small revelations, her little slips. He knew nothing about her. He’d created a Bella in his head who didn’t exist— a girl just as generic as he was. He hadn’t observed the unselfishness and bravery that set her apart from other humans, didn’t hear the abnormal maturity of her spoken thoughts, didn’t perceive that when she spoke of her mother, she sounded like a parent speaking of a child rather than the other way around—loving, indulgent, slightly amused, and fiercely protective. He didn’t hear the patience in her voice when she feigned interest in his rambling stories, and didn’t guess at the compassion behind that patience.

These helpful discoveries did not warm me to the boy, however. The possessive way he viewed Bella—as if she were an acquisition to be made —provoked me almost as much as his crude fantasies about her. He was becoming more confident of her, too, as time passed, for she seemed to prefer him over those he considered his rivals—Tyler Crowley, Eric Yorkie, and even, sporadically, myself. He would routinely sit on her side of our table before Biology began, chattering at her, encouraged by her smiles. Just polite smiles, I told myself. All the same, I frequently amused myself by imagining backhanding him across the room and into the far wall. It probably wouldn’t injure him fatally.…

Mike didn’t often think of me as a rival. After the accident, he’d worried that Bella and I would bond from the shared experience, but obviously the opposite had resulted. Back then, he had still been bothered that I’d singled Bella out over her peers for attention. But now I ignored her just as thoroughly as the others, and he grew complacent.

What was she thinking now? Did she welcome his attention?

And finally, the last of my torments, the most painful: Bella’s indifference. As I ignored her, she ignored me. She never tried to speak to me again. For all I knew, she never thought about me at all.

This might have driven me mad—or worse, broken my resolution— except that she sometimes stared at me as she had before. I didn’t see it for myself, as I could not allow myself to look at her, but Alice always warned us; the others were still wary of the girl’s problematic knowledge.

It eased some of the pain that she gazed at me from a distance every now and then. Of course, she was probably just wondering exactly what kind of an aberration I was.

“Bella’s going to stare at Edward in a minute. Look normal,” Alice said one Tuesday in March, and the others were careful to fidget and shift their weight.

I paid attention to how often she looked in my direction. It pleased me, though it should not have, that the frequency did not decline as time passed. I didn’t know what it meant, but it made me feel better.

Alice sighed. I wish…

“Stay out of it, Alice,” I said under my breath. “It’s not going to happen.”

She pouted. Alice was anxious to form her envisioned friendship with Bella. In a strange way, she missed the girl she didn’t know.

I’ll admit, you’re better than I thought. You’ve got the future all snarled up and senseless again. I hope you’re happy.

“It makes plenty of sense to me.” She snorted delicately.

I tried to shut her out, too impatient for conversation. I wasn’t in a very good mood—tenser than I let any of them see. Only Jasper was aware of how tightly wound I was, feeling the stress emanate out of me with his unique ability to both sense and influence the moods of others. He didn’t understand the reasons behind the moods, though, and—since I was constantly in a foul temper these days—he disregarded it.

Today would be a hard one. Harder than the day before, as was the pattern.

Mike Newton was going to ask Bella on a date.

A girls’ choice dance was on the near horizon, and he’d been hoping

very much that Bella would ask him. That she had not done so had rattled his confidence. Now he was in an uncomfortable bind—I enjoyed his discomfort more than I should have—because Jessica Stanley had just invited him. He didn’t want to say yes, still hopeful that Bella would choose him (and prove him the victor over her other would-be suitors), but he didn’t want to say no and end up missing the dance altogether. Jessica, hurt by his hesitation and guessing the reason behind it, was thinking daggers at Bella. Again, I had the instinct to place myself between her and Jessica’s angry thoughts. I understood the instinct better now, but that only made it more frustrating when I could not act on it.

To think it had come to this! I was utterly fixated on the petty high school dramas that I’d once held so in contempt.

Mike was working up his nerve as he walked Bella to Biology. I listened to his struggles as I waited for them to arrive. The boy was weak. He had waited for this dance purposely, afraid to let his infatuation be known before she had shown a marked preference for him. He didn’t want to make himself vulnerable to rejection, preferring that she take that leap first.


He sat down on our table again, comfortable through long familiarity, and I imagined the sound it would make if his body hit the opposite wall with enough force to break most of his bones.

“So,” he said to the girl, his eyes on the floor. “Jessica asked me to the spring dance.”

“That’s great,” Bella answered immediately and with enthusiasm. It was hard not to smile as Mike processed her tone. He’d been hoping for dismay. “You’ll have a lot of fun with Jessica.”

He scrambled for the right response. “Well…” He hesitated and almost turned tail. Then he rallied. “I told her I had to think about it.”

“Why would you do that?” she demanded. Her tone was disapproving, but there was the faintest hint of relief there as well.

What did that mean? An unexpected, intense fury made my hands clench into fists.

Mike did not hear the relief. His face flushed red—fierce as I suddenly felt, this seemed like an open invitation—and he looked at the floor again as he spoke.

“I was wondering if… well, if you might be planning to ask me.”

Bella hesitated.

In that moment, I saw the future more clearly than Alice ever had.

The girl might say yes to Mike’s unspoken question now, or she might not, but either way, someday soon, she would say yes to someone. She was lovely and intriguing, and human males were not oblivious to this fact. Whether she would settle for someone in this lackluster crowd, or wait until she was free from Forks, the day would come that she would say yes.

I saw her life as I had before—college, career… love, marriage. I saw her on her father’s arm again, dressed in gauzy white, her face flushed with happiness as she moved to the sound of Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus.”

The pain I felt while I imagined this future reminded me of the agony of transformation. It consumed me.

And not just pain, but outright rage.

The fury ached for some kind of physical outlet. Though this insignificant, undeserving boy might not be the one Bella would say yes to, I yearned to pulverize his skull with my fist, to let him stand as a proxy for whoever it would be.

I didn’t understand this emotion—it was such a tangle of pain and fury and desire and despair. I had never felt it before; I couldn’t put a name to it.

“Mike, I think you should tell her yes,” Bella said in a gentle voice.

Mike’s hopes plummeted. I would have enjoyed that under other circumstances, but I was lost in the aftershock and the remorse for what the pain and fury had done to me.

Alice was right. I was not strong enough.

Right now, she would be watching the future spin and twist, become mangled again. Would this please her?

“Did you already ask someone?” Mike asked sullenly. He glanced at me, suspicious for the first time in many weeks. I realized I had betrayed my interest; my head was inclined in Bella’s direction.

The wild envy in his thoughts—envy for whomever this girl preferred to him—suddenly put a name to my emotion.

I was jealous.

“No,” the girl said with a trace of humor in her voice. “I’m not going to the dance at all.”

Through all the remorse and anger, I felt relief at her words. It was wrong, dangerous even, to consider Mike and the other mortals interested in Bella as rivals, but I had to concede that they had become just that.

“Why not?” Mike asked harshly. It offended me that he used this tone with her. I bit back a growl.

“I’m going to Seattle that Saturday,” she answered.

The curiosity was not as vicious as it would have been before—now that I was fully intending to find out the answers to everything. I would know the reasons behind this new revelation soon enough.

Mike’s voice turned unpleasantly wheedling. “Can’t you go some other weekend?”

“Sorry, no.” Bella was brusquer now. “So you shouldn’t make Jess wait any longer—it’s rude.”

Her concern for Jessica’s feelings fanned the flames of my jealousy. This Seattle trip was clearly an excuse to say no—did she refuse purely out of loyalty to her friend? She was more than selfless enough for that. Did she actually wish she could say yes? Or were both guesses wrong? Was she interested in someone else?

“Yeah, you’re right,” Mike mumbled, so demoralized that I almost felt pity for him. Almost.

He dropped his eyes from the girl, cutting off my view of her face in his thoughts.

I wasn’t going to tolerate that.

I turned to read her face myself, for the first time in more than a month. It was a sharp relief to allow myself this. I imagined it would feel the same to press ice to an aching burn. An abrupt cessation of pain.

Her eyes were closed, and her hands pressed against the sides of her face. Her shoulders curved inward defensively. She shook her head ever so slightly, as if she were trying to push some thought from her mind.

Frustrating. Fascinating.

Mr. Banner’s voice pulled her from her reverie, and her eyes slowly opened. She looked at me immediately, perhaps sensing my gaze. She stared up into my eyes with the same perplexed expression that had haunted me for so long.

I didn’t feel remorse or guilt or rage in that second. I knew they would come again, and soon, but for this one moment I rode a strange, jittery high. As if I had triumphed rather than lost.

She didn’t look away, though I stared with inappropriate intensity, trying vainly to read her thoughts through her liquid brown eyes. They were full of questions, rather than answers.

I could see the reflection of my own eyes, black with thirst. It had been nearly two weeks since my last hunting trip; this was not the safest day for my will to crumble. But the blackness did not seem to frighten her. She still did not look away, and a soft, devastatingly appealing pink began to color her skin.

What are you thinking now?

I almost asked the question aloud, but at that moment, Mr. Banner called my name. I picked the correct answer out of his head and glanced briefly in his direction, sucking in a quick breath.

“The Krebs Cycle.”

Thirst scorched my throat—tightening my muscles and filling my mouth with venom—and I closed my eyes, trying to concentrate through the desire for her blood that raged inside me.

The monster was stronger than before, rejoicing. He embraced this dual future that gave him a fifty-fifty chance at what he craved so viciously. The third, shaky future I’d tried to construct through willpower alone had collapsed—destroyed by common jealousy, of all things—and he was so much closer to his goal.

The remorse and guilt now burned with the thirst, and if I’d had the ability to produce tears, they would have filled my eyes now.

What had I done?

Knowing the battle was already lost, there seemed to be no reason to resist what I wanted. I turned to stare at the girl again.

She had hidden in her hair, but I could see that her cheek was deep crimson now.

The monster liked that.

She did not meet my gaze again but twisted a strand of her dark hair nervously between her fingers. Her delicate fingers, her fragile wrist—they were so breakable, looking for all the world as though just my breath could snap them.

No, no, no. I could not do this. She was too breakable, too good, too precious to deserve this. I couldn’t allow my life to collide with hers, to destroy it.

But I couldn’t stay away from her, either. Alice was right about that.

The monster inside me hissed with annoyance as I struggled.

My brief hour with her passed all too quickly, while I vacillated between the rock and the hard place. The bell rang, and she started collecting her things without looking at me. This disappointed me, but I could hardly expect otherwise. The way I had treated her since the accident was inexcusable.

“Bella?” I said, unable to stop myself. My willpower lay in shreds.

She hesitated before looking at me. When she turned, her expression was guarded, suspicious.

I reminded myself that she had every right to distrust me. That she should.

She waited for me to continue, but I just stared at her, reading her face. I pulled in shallow mouthfuls of air at regular intervals, fighting my thirst.

“What?” she finally said, a hard edge to her voice. “Are you speaking to me again?”

I wasn’t sure how to answer her question. Was I speaking to her again, in the sense that she meant?

Not if I could help it. I would try to help it. “No, not really,” I told her.

She closed her eyes, which only made things more difficult. It cut off my best avenue of access to her feelings. She took a long, slow breath without opening her eyes, and spoke. “Then what do you want, Edward?”

Surely this was not a normal human way to converse. Why did she do it? But how to answer her?

With the truth, I decided. I would be as truthful as I could with her from now on. I didn’t want to deserve her distrust, even if earning her trust was impossible.

“I’m sorry,” I told her. That was truer than she would ever know. Unfortunately, I could only safely apologize for the trivial. “I’m being very rude, I know. But it’s better this way, really.”

Her eyes opened, their expression still wary. “I don’t know what you mean.”

I tried to get as much of a warning through to her as was allowed. “It’s better if we’re not friends.” Surely, she could sense that much. She was a bright girl. “Trust me.”

Her eyes tightened, and I remembered that I had said those words to her

before—just before breaking a promise. I winced when her teeth clenched together with a sharp click—she clearly remembered, too.

“It’s too bad you didn’t figure that out earlier,” she said angrily. “You could have saved yourself all this regret.”

I stared at her in shock. What did she know of my regrets? “Regret? Regret for what?” I demanded.

“For not just letting that stupid van squish me!” she snapped. I froze, stunned.

How could she be thinking that? Saving her life was the one acceptable thing I’d done since I met her. The only thing I was not ashamed of, that made me glad I existed at all. I’d been fighting to keep her alive since the first moment I’d caught her scent. How could she doubt my one good deed in all this mess?

“You think I regret saving your life?” “I know you do,” she retorted.

Her estimation of my intentions left me seething. “You don’t know anything.”

How confusing and incomprehensible the workings of her mind were! She must not think in the same way as other humans at all. That must be the explanation behind her mental silence. She was entirely other.

She jerked her face away, gritting her teeth again. Her cheeks were flushed, with anger this time. Slamming her books together in a pile, she yanked them up into her arms, and marched toward the door without meeting my stare.

Even as vexed as I felt, something about her anger softened my annoyance. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was that made her exasperation somehow… endearing.

She walked stiffly, without looking where she was going, and her foot caught on the lip of the doorway. Her things all crashed to the ground. Instead of bending to get them, she stood rigidly straight, not even looking down, as if she was not sure the books were worth retrieving.

No one was here to watch me. I flitted to her side and had her books in order before she had even examined the mess.

She bent halfway, saw me, and then froze. I handed her books back to her, making sure my icy skin never touched hers.

“Thank you,” she said in a sharp voice.

“You’re welcome.” My voice was still rough with my former irritation, but before I could clear my throat and try again, she’d wrenched herself upright and stomped away toward her next class.

I watched until I could no longer see her angry figure.

Spanish passed in a blur. Mrs. Goff never questioned my abstraction— she knew my Spanish was superior to hers and gave me a great deal of latitude—leaving me free to think.

So I couldn’t ignore the girl. That much was obvious. But did it mean I had no choice but to destroy her? That could not be the only available future. There had to be some other choice, some delicate balance. I tried to think of a way.

I didn’t pay much attention to Emmett until the hour was nearly up. He was curious—Emmett was not overly intuitive about the shades in others’ moods, but he could see the obvious change in me. wondered what had happened to remove the unrelenting glower from my face. He struggled to define the change, and finally decided that I looked hopeful.

Hopeful? Was that how I seemed from the outside?

I pondered the idea as we walked to the Volvo, wondering what exactly I should be hoping for.

But I didn’t have long to ponder. Sensitive as I always was to thoughts about the girl, the sound of Bella’s name in the heads of those humans I really should not think of as rivals caught my attention. Eric and Tyler, having heard—with much satisfaction—of Mike’s failure, were preparing to make their moves.

Eric was already in place, positioned against her truck where she could not avoid him. Tyler’s class was being held late to receive an assignment, and he was in a desperate hurry to catch her before she escaped.

This I had to see.

“Wait for the others here, all right?” I murmured to Emmett. He eyed me suspiciously, but then shrugged and nodded.

Kid’s lost his damn mind, he thought, amused.

Bella was on her way out of the gym, and I waited where she would not see me. As she got closer to Eric’s ambush, I strode forward, setting my pace so that I would walk by at the right moment.

I watched her body stiffen when she caught sight of the boy waiting for her. She froze for a moment, then relaxed and moved forward.

“Hey, Eric,” I heard her call in a friendly voice.

I was abruptly and unexpectedly anxious. What if this gangly teen with his unhealthy skin was somehow pleasing to her? Perhaps her earlier kindness to him had not been entirely selfless?

Eric swallowed loudly, his Adam’s apple bobbing. “Hi, Bella.” She seemed unconscious of his nervousness.

“What’s up?” she asked, unlocking her truck without looking at his frightened expression.

“Uh, I was just wondering… if you would go to the spring dance with me?” His voice broke.

She finally looked up. Was she taken aback, or pleased? Eric couldn’t meet her gaze, so I couldn’t see her face in his mind.

“I thought it was girls’ choice,” she said, sounding flustered. “Well, yeah,” he agreed wretchedly.

This pitiable boy did not irritate me as much as Mike Newton did, but I couldn’t find it in myself to feel sympathy for his angst until after Bella had answered him in a gentle voice.

“Thank you for asking me, but I’m going to be in Seattle that day.” He’d already heard this; still, it was a disappointment.

“Oh,” he mumbled, barely daring to raise his eyes to the level of her nose. “Well, maybe next time.”

“Sure,” she agreed. Then she bit down on her lip, as if she regretted leaving him a loophole. That pleased me.

Eric slumped forward and walked away, headed in the wrong direction from his car, his only thought escape.

I passed her in that moment and heard her sigh of relief. I laughed before I could catch myself.

She whirled at the sound, but I stared straight ahead, trying to keep my lips from twitching in amusement.

Tyler was behind me, almost running in his hurry to catch her before she could drive away. He was bolder and more confident than the other two. He’d only waited to approach Bella this long because he’d respected Mike’s prior claim.

I wanted him to succeed in catching her for two reasons. If—as I was beginning to suspect—all this attention was annoying to Bella, I wanted to enjoy watching her reaction. But if it was not—if Tyler’s invitation was the one she’d been hoping for—then I wanted to know that, too.

I measured Tyler Crowley as competition, knowing it was reprehensible to do so. He seemed tediously average and unremarkable to me, but what did I know of Bella’s preferences? Maybe she liked average boys.

I winced at that thought. I could never be an average boy. How foolish it was to set myself up as a candidate for her affections. How could she ever care for someone who was, by default, the villain of the story?

She was too good for a villain.

Though I ought to have let her escape, my inexcusable curiosity kept me from doing what was right. Again. But what if Tyler missed his chance now, only to contact her later when I would have no way of knowing the outcome? I pulled my Volvo out into the narrow lane, blocking her exit.

Emmett and the others were on their way, but he’d described my strange behavior to them, and they were walking slowly, staring at me, trying to decipher what I was doing.

I watched the girl in my rearview mirror. She glowered toward the back of my car without meeting my gaze, looking as if she wished she were driving a tank rather than a rusted Chevy.

Tyler hurried to his car and got in line behind her, grateful for my inexplicable conduct. He waved at her, trying to catch her attention, but she didn’t notice, He waited a moment, and then left his car, forcing his gait into a saunter as he sidled up to her passenger-side window. He tapped on the glass.

She jumped, and then stared at him in confusion. After a second, she rolled the window down manually, seeming to have some trouble with it.

“I’m sorry, Tyler,” she said, her voice irritated. “I’m stuck behind Cullen.”

She said my surname in a hard voice.

“Oh, I know,” Tyler said, undeterred by her mood. “I just wanted to ask you something while we’re trapped here.”

His grin was cocky.

I was gratified by the way she blanched at his obvious intent.

“Will you ask me to the spring dance?” he said, no thought of defeat in his mind.

“I’m not going to be in town, Tyler,” she told him, irritation still plain in her voice.

“Yeah, Mike said that.”

“Then why—?” she started to ask.

He shrugged. “I was hoping you were just letting him down easy.”

Her eyes flashed, then cooled. “Sorry, Tyler,” she said, not sounding sorry at all. “I really am going out of town.”

Given her usual practice of putting the needs of others above her own, I was a little surprised at her steely resolve when it came to this dance. Where did it spring from?

Tyler accepted her excuse, his self-assurance untouched. “That’s cool.

We still have prom.”

He strutted back to his car.

I was right to have waited for this.

The horrified expression on her face was priceless. It told me what I should not so desperately have needed to know—that she had no feelings for any of these human males who wished to court her.

Also, her expression was possibly the funniest thing I’d ever seen.

My family arrived then, confused that I was, for a change, rocking with laughter rather than scowling murderously at everything in sight.

What’s so funny? Emmett wanted to know.

I just shook my head as Bella revved her noisy engine angrily. She looked like she was wishing for a tank again.

“Let’s go!” Rosalie hissed impatiently. “Stop being an idiot. If you can.”

Her words didn’t annoy me—I was too entertained. But I did as she asked.

No one spoke to me on the way home. I continued to chuckle every now and again, thinking of Bella’s face.

As I turned onto the drive—speeding up now that there were no witnesses—Alice ruined my mood.

“So do I get to talk to Bella now?” she asked suddenly. “No,” I snapped.

“Not fair! What am I waiting for?” “I haven’t decided anything, Alice.” “Whatever, Edward.”

In her head, Bella’s two destinies were clear again.

“What’s the point in getting to know her?” I mumbled, suddenly morose. “If I’m just going to kill her?”

Alice hesitated for a second. “You have a point,” she admitted.

I took the final hairpin turn at ninety miles an hour, and then screeched to a stop an inch from the rear garage wall.

“Enjoy your run,” Rosalie said smugly as I threw myself out of the car. But I didn’t go running today. Instead, I went hunting.

The others were scheduled to hunt tomorrow, but I couldn’t afford to be thirsty now. I overdid it, drinking more than necessary, glutting myself again—a small grouping of elk and one black bear I was lucky to stumble across this early in the year. I was so full it was uncomfortable. Why couldn’t that be enough? Why did her scent have to be so much stronger than anything else?

And not just her scent—whatever it was about her that marked her for disaster. She’d been in Forks for mere weeks and already she’d twice come within inches of a violent end. For all I knew, right at this very moment she could have wandered into the path of another death sentence. What would it be this time? A meteorite smashing through her roof and crushing her in her bed?

I could hunt no more and the sun was still hours and hours from rising. Now that it had occurred to me, the idea of the meteorite and all its possible allies was hard to dismiss. I tried to be rational, to consider the odds against all the disasters I could imagine, but that didn’t help.

After all, what were the chances that the girl would choose to settle in a community where a sizable proportion of locals are vampires? What were the chances of her making such a wonderful appeal to one? What would happen if she was victimized during the night? If her seat wasn’t filled when I arrived at school the following day with all of my senses and emotions concentrated on it, what would happen?

Abruptly, the risk felt unacceptable.

The only way I could be positive she was safe was if there was someone in place to catch the meteorite before it could touch her. The jittery high swept through me again when I realized that I was going to go find the girl.

It was past midnight, and Bella’s house was dark and quiet. Her truck was parked against the curb, her father’s police cruiser in the driveway. There were no conscious thoughts anywhere in the neighborhood. I watched the house from the blackness of the forest that bordered it on the east.

There was no evidence of any kind of danger… aside from myself.

I listened and picked out the sound of two people breathing inside the house, two even heartbeats. So all must be well. I leaned against the trunk of a young hemlock and settled in to wait for stray meteorites.

The problem with waiting was that it freed up the mind for all kinds of speculation. Obviously the meteorite was just a metaphor for all the unlikely things that could go wrong. But not every danger would streak across the sky with a brilliant splash of fire. I could think of many that would give no warning, hazards that could slink into the dark house silently, that might already be there.

These were ridiculous worries. This street didn’t have a natural gas line, so a carbon monoxide leak was improbable. I doubted they used coal frequently. The Olympic Peninsula had very little in the way of dangerous wildlife. Anything large I would be able to hear now. There were no venomous snakes, scorpions, or centipedes, and just a few spiders, none of them deadly to a healthy adult, and unlikely to be found indoors regardless. Ridiculous. I knew that. I knew I was being irrational.

But I felt anxious, unsettled. I couldn’t push the dark imaginings from my mind. If I could just see her…

I would take a closer look.

In only half a second, I had crossed the yard and scaled the side of the house. This upstairs window would be a bedroom, probably the master. Maybe I should have started in the back. Less conspicuous that way. Dangling from the eave above the window by one hand, I looked through the glass, and my breath stopped.

It was her room. I could see her in the one small bed, her covers on the floor and her sheets twisted around her legs. She was perfectly fine, of course, as the rational part of me had already known. Safe… but not at ease. As I watched, she twitched restlessly and threw one arm over her head. She did not sleep soundly, at least not this night. Did she sense the danger near her?

I was repulsed by myself as I watched her toss again. How was I any better than some sick peeping tom? I wasn’t any better, was much, much worse.

I relaxed my fingertips, about to let myself drop. But first I allowed myself one long look at her face.

Still not peaceful. The little furrow was there between her eyebrows, the

corners of her mouth turned down. Her lips trembled, and then parted. “Okay, Mom,” she muttered.

Bella talked in her sleep.

Curiosity flared, overpowering self-disgust. So long I’d tried to hear her and failed. The lure of those unprotected, unconsciously spoken thoughts was impossibly tempting.

What were human rules to me, after all? How many did I ignore on a daily basis?

I thought of the multitude of illegal documents my family needed to live as we liked. False names and false histories, driver’s licenses that let us enroll in school and medical credentials that allowed Carlisle to work as a doctor. Papers that made our strange grouping of nearly identically aged adults comprehensible as a family. None of it would be necessary if we didn’t try to have brief periods of permanence, if we didn’t prefer to have a home.

Then, of course, there was the way we funded our lives. Insider trading laws didn’t apply to psychics, but it certainly wasn’t honest, what we did. And the transfer of inheritances from one fabricated name to another wasn’t legal, either.

And then there were all the murders.

We didn’t take them lightly, but obviously none of us had ever been punished by human courts for our crimes. We covered them up—also a crime.

Then why should I feel so guilty over one little misdemeanor? Human laws had never applied to me. And this was hardly my first adventure with breaking and entering.

I knew I could do this safely. The monster was restless but well fettered.

I would keep a careful distance. I would not harm her. She would never know I’d been here. I only wanted to be certain that she was safe.

It was all rationalization, evil arguments from the devil on my left shoulder. Though I was aware of it, I lacked an angel to my right. I would act like the nightmare character I was.

I tried the window, and it was not locked, though it stuck due to long disuse, I took a deep breath—my last for however long I was near her—and slid the glass slowly aside, cringing at each faint groan of the metal frame. Finally, it was open wide enough for me to ease through.

“Mom, wait…,” she muttered. “Scottsdale Road is faster.…”

Her room was small—disorganized and cluttered, but not unclean. There were books piled on the floor beside her bed, their spines facing away from me, and CDs scattered by her inexpensive CD player—the one on top was just a clear jewel case. Stacks of papers surrounded a computer that looked like it belonged in a museum dedicated to obsolete technologies. Shoes dotted the wooden floor.

I wanted very much to go read the titles of her books and CDs, but I was determined to take no more risks. Instead, I went to sit in an old rocking chair in the far corner of the room. My anxiety eased, the dark thoughts receded, and my mind was clear.

Had I really once believed her average-looking? I thought of that first day, and my disgust for the human boys who were so fascinated by her. But when I remembered her face in their minds then, I could not understand why I had not immediately found her beautiful. It seemed an obvious thing.

Right now—with her dark hair tangled and wild around her pale face, wearing a threadbare t-shirt full of holes with tatty sweatpants, her features relaxed in unconsciousness, her full lips slightly parted—she took my breath away. Or would have, I thought wryly, if I were breathing.

She did not speak. Perhaps her dream had ended.

I stared at her face and tried to think of some way to make the future bearable.

Hurting her was not bearable. Did that mean my only choice was to try to leave again?

The others could not argue with me now. My absence would not put anyone in danger. There would be no suspicion, nothing to link anyone’s thoughts back to the accident.

I wavered as I had this afternoon, and nothing seemed possible.

A small brown spider crawled out from the edge of the closet door. My arrival must have disturbed it. Eratigena agrestis—a hobo spider, from its size a juvenile male. Once considered dangerous, more recent scientific study had proven its venom inconsequential to humans. However, its bite was still painful.… I reached out with one finger and crushed it silently.

Perhaps I should have let the creature be, but the thought of anything hurting her was intolerable.

And then suddenly, all my thoughts were intolerable, too.

Because I could kill every spider in her home, cut the thorns off every rosebush she might one day touch, block every speeding car that got within a mile of her, but there was no task I could perform that would make me something other than what I was. I stared at my white, stone-like hand—so grotesquely inhuman—and despaired.

Could not hope to compete against the human boys, whether these specific boys appealed to her or not. I was the villain, the nightmare. How could she see me as anything else? If she knew the truth about me, it would frighten and repulse her. Like the intended victim in a horror movie, she would run away, shrieking in terror.

I remembered her first day in Biology… and knew that this was exactly the right reaction for her to have.

It was foolishness to imagine that if I had been the one to ask her to the silly dance, she would have canceled her hastily made plans and agreed to go with me.

I was not the one she was destined to say yes to. It was someone else, someone human and warm. And I could not even let myself—someday, when that yes was said—hunt him down and kill him, because she deserved him, whoever he was. She deserved happiness and love with whomever she chose.

I owed it to her to do the right thing now. I could no longer pretend that I was only in danger of loving this girl.

After all, it really didn’t matter if I left, because Bella could never see me the way I wished she would. Never see me as someone worthy of love.

Could a dead, frozen heart break? It felt as though mine would. “Edward,” Bella said.

I froze, staring at her unopened eyes.

Had she awakened, caught me here? She looked asleep, yet her voice had been so clear.

She sighed a quiet sigh, and then moved restlessly again, rolling to her side—still fast asleep and dreaming.

“Edward,” she mumbled softly. She was dreaming of me.

Could a dead, frozen heart beat again? It felt as though mine was about to.

“Stay,” she sighed. “Don’t go. Please… don’t go.”

She was dreaming of me, and it wasn’t even a nightmare. She wanted me to stay with her, there in her dream.

I struggled to find words to name the feelings that flooded through me, but I had no words strong enough to hold them. For a long moment, I drowned in them.

When I surfaced, I was not the same man I had been.

My life was an unending, unchanging midnight. It must, by necessity, always be midnight for me. So how was it possible that the sun was rising now, in the middle of my midnight?

At the time I became a vampire, trading my soul and mortality for immortality in the searing pain of transformation, I had truly been frozen. My body had turned into something more like stone than flesh, enduring and unchanging. My self, also, had frozen as it was—my personality, my likes and dislikes, my moods and desires; all were fixed in place.

It was the same for the rest of them. We were all frozen. Living stone.

When change came for one of us, it was a rare and permanent thing. I had seen it happen with Carlisle, and then a decade later with Rosalie. Love had changed them in an eternal way, a way that would never fade. More than eighty years had passed since Carlisle found Esme, and yet he still looked at her with the incredulous eyes of first love. It would always be so for them.

It would always be so for me, too. I would always love this fragile human girl, for the rest of my limitless existence.

I gazed at her unconscious face, feeling that love for her settle into every portion of my stone body.

She slept more peacefully now, a slight smile on her lips. I began to plot.

I loved her, I would try to be strong enough to leave her. knew I wasn’t that strong now, I would work on that one. But perhaps I was strong enough to circumvent the future in another way.

Alice had seen only two futures for Bella, and now I understood them both.

Loving her would not keep me from killing her if I let myself make mistakes.

Yet I could not feel the monster now, could not find him anywhere in me. Perhaps love had silenced him forever. If I killed her now, it would not be intentional, only a horrible accident.

I’d need to exercise extreme caution. Never, ever could I allow myself to relax. Every breath I took would need to be under control. I’d need to maintain a constant distance while being cautious.

I would not make mistakes.

finally I understood that second future. I’d been baffled by that vision— what could possibly happen to result in Bella becoming a prisoner to this immortal half life? Now—devastated by longing for the girl—I could understand how I might, in unforgivable selfishness, ask my father for that favor. Ask him to take away her life and her soul so that I could keep her forever.

She deserved better.

But I saw one more future, one thin wire that I might be able to walk, if I could keep my balance.

Could I do it? Be with her and leave her human?

Deliberately, I locked my body into perfect stillness, froze it in place, then took a deep breath. Another, then another, letting her scent rip through me like wildfire. The room was thick with her perfume; her fragrance was layered on every surface. My head swam from the pain, but I fought the spinning. I would have to get used to this if I were going to attempt any kind of regular proximity to her. Another deep, burning breath.

I watched her sleeping until the sun rose behind the eastern clouds, plotting and breathing. Got home just after the others had left for school. I changed quickly, avoiding Esme’s questioning eyes. She saw the feverish light in my face and felt both worry and relief. My long melancholy had pained her greatly, and she was glad that it seemed to be over.

I ran to school, arriving a few seconds after my siblings did. They did not turn, though Alice at least must have known that I stood here in the thick woods that bordered the pavement. I waited until no one was looking and then strolled casually from between the trees into the lot full of parked cars.

I heard Bella’s truck rumbling around the corner, and I paused behind a Suburban, where I could watch without being seen.

She drove into the lot, glaring at my Volvo for a long moment before she parked in one of the most distant spaces, a frown on her face.

It was strange to remember that she was probably still angry with me, and with good reason.

I wanted to laugh at myself—or kick myself. All my plotting and planning was entirely moot if she didn’t care for me, too, wasn’t it? Her dream could have been about something completely random. I was such an arrogant fool.

Well, it was so much the better for her if she didn’t care for me. That wouldn’t stop me from pursuing her, from trying. But I would listen for her no. She owed me that. More was due to her. I owed her the information I was unable to tell her. So I would give her as much truth as I could. I would try to warn her. And when she confirmed that I would never be the one she would say yes to, I would leave.

I walked silently forward, wondering how best to approach her.

She made it easy. Her truck key slipped through her fingers as she got out of the cab, and fell into a deep puddle.

She reached down, but I got to it first, retrieving it before she had to put her fingers in the cold water.

I leaned back against her truck as she started and then straightened up. “How do you do that?” she demanded.

Yes, she was still angry.

I offered her the key. “Do what?”

She held her hand out, and I dropped it into her palm. I took a deep breath, pulling in her scent.

“Appear out of thin air,” she clarified.

“Bella, it’s not my fault if you are exceptionally unobservant.” The words were wry, almost a joke. Was there anything she didn’t see?

Did she hear how my voice wrapped around her name like a caress?

She glared at me, not appreciating my humor. Her heartbeat sped—from anger? From fear? After a moment, she looked down.

“Why the traffic jam last night?” she asked without meeting my eyes. “I thought you were supposed to be pretending I don’t exist, not irritating me to death.”

Still very angry. It was going to take some effort to make things right with her. I remembered my resolve to be truthful.

“That was for Tyler’s sake, not mine. I had to give him his chance.” And then I laughed. I couldn’t help it, thinking of her expression yesterday. Concentrating so hard on keeping her safe, on controlling my physical response to her, left me fewer resources to manage my emotions.

“You—” she gasped, and then broke off, appearing to be too furious to finish. There it was—that same expression. I choked back another laugh. She was mad enough already.

“And I’m not pretending you don’t exist,” I finished. It felt right to make my tone casual, teasing. I didn’t want to frighten her more. I had to hide the depth of my feelings, keep things light.

“So you are trying to irritate me to death? Since Tyler’s van didn’t do the job?”

A quick flash of anger pulsed through me. How could she honestly believe that?

It was irrational for me to be so affronted—she didn’t know all the effort I’d expended to keep her alive, she didn’t know that I’d fought with my family for her, she didn’t know of the transformation that had happened in the night. But I was angry all the same. Emotion unmanaged.

“Bella, you are utterly absurd,” I snapped.

Her face flushed, and she turned her back on me. She began to walk away.

Remorse. My anger was unfair. “Wait,” I pleaded.

She did not stop, so I followed her.

“I’m sorry, that was rude. I’m not saying it isn’t true”—it was absurd to imagine that I wanted her harmed in any way—“but it was rude to say it, anyway.”

“Why won’t you leave me alone?”

Was this my no? Did she want that? Was my name really meaningless in her dream?

I remembered perfectly the tone of her voice, the expression on her face as she had asked me to stay.

But if she now said no… well, then that would be that. I knew what I would have to do.

Keep it light, I reminded myself. This could be the last time I would see her. If that was the case, I needed to leave her with the right memory. So I

would play the normal human boy. Most importantly, I would give her a choice, and then accept her answer.

“I wanted to ask you something, but you sidetracked me.” A course of action had just occurred to me, and I laughed.

“Do you have a multiple personality disorder?” she asked.

It must seem that way. My mood was wildly erratic, so many new emotions coursing through me.

“You’re doing it again,” I pointed out.

She sighed. “Fine then. What do you want to ask?”

“I was wondering if, a week from Saturday…” I watched the shock cross her face, and fought back another laugh. “You know, the day of the spring dance—”

She cut me off, finally returning her eyes to mine. “Are you trying to be funny?”

“Will you please allow me to finish?”

She waited in silence, her teeth pressing into her soft lower lip.

That sight distracted me for a second. Strange, unfamiliar reactions stirred deep in my forgotten human core. I tried to shake them off so I could play my role.

“I heard you say you were going to Seattle that day, and I was wondering if you wanted a ride?” I offered. I’d realized that, better than just learning about her plans, I might share them. If she said yes.

She stared at me blankly. “What?”

“Do you want a ride to Seattle?” Alone in a car with her—my throat burned at the thought. I took a deep breath. Get used to it.

“With who?” she asked, confused. “Myself, obviously,” I said slowly. “Why?”

Was it really such a shock that I would want her company? She must have applied the worst possible meaning to my past behavior.

“Well,” I said as casually as possible, “I was planning to go to Seattle in the next few weeks, and to be honest, I’m not sure if your truck can make it.” It felt safer to tease her than to allow myself to be too serious.

“My truck works just fine, thank you very much for your concern,” she said in the same surprised voice. She started walking again. I kept pace with her.

Not an explicit rejection, but close. Was she being polite? “But can your truck make it there on one tank of gas?”

“I don’t see how that is any of your business,” she grumbled.

Her heart was beating faster again, her breath coming more quickly. I thought the teasing should put her at ease, but maybe I was frightening her again.

“The wasting of finite resources is everyone’s business.” My response sounded normal and casual to me, but I couldn’t tell if it she heard it the same way. Her silent mind left me always foundering.

“Honestly, Edward, I can’t keep up with you. I thought you didn’t want to be my friend.”

A thrill shot through me when she spoke my name, and I was back in her room, hearing her call out to me, wanting me to stay. I wished I could live in that moment forever.

But on this point, only honesty was acceptable.

“I said it would be better if we weren’t friends, not that I didn’t want to be.”

“Oh, thanks, now that’s all cleared up,” she said sarcastically.

She paused, under the edge of the cafeteria’s roof, and met my gaze again. Her heartbeats stuttered. In fear or anger?

I chose my words carefully. She needed to see. To understand that it was in her best interest to tell me to go.

“It would be more… prudent for you not to be my friend.” Staring into the melted chocolate depths of her eyes, I entirely lost my hold on light. “But I’m tired of trying to stay away from you, Bella.” The words felt like they’d burned their way out of my mouth.

Her breathing stopped, and in the second it took for it to restart, I panicked. I’d truly terrified her, hadn’t I?

All the better. I would collect my no and attempt to bear it. “Will you go to Seattle with me?” I demanded, point-blank. She nodded, her heart drumming loudly.

Yes. She’d said yes to me.

And then my conscience smote me. What would this cost her?

“You really should stay away from me,” I warned her. Did she hear me? Would she escape the future I was threatening her with? Couldn’t I do anything to save her from me?

Keep it light, I shouted at myself. “I’ll see you in class.”

And instantly remembered that I would not see her in class. She scattered my thoughts so thoroughly.

I had to concentrate to stop myself from running as I fled.

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