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Stephenie Meyer Twilight 03 Eclipse

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Stephenie Meyer Twilight 03 Eclipse
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To my husband, Pancho, for your patience, love, friendship, humor, and willingness to eat out. And also to my children, Gabe, Seth, and Eli, for letting me experience the kind of love that people freely die for. Fire and Ice Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. From what I’ve tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate To say that for destruction ice Is also great And would suffice. Robert Frost PREFACE ALL OUR ATTEMPTS AT SUBTERFUGE HAD BEEN IN VAIN. With ice in my heart, I watched him prepare to defend me. His intense concentration betrayed no hint ofdoubt, though he was outnumbered. I knew that we could expect no help — at this moment, his familywas fighting for their lives just as surely as he was for ours. Would I ever learn the outcome of that other fight? Find out who the winners and the losers were?Would I live long enough for that? The odds of that didn’t look so great. Black eyes, wild with their fierce craving for my death, watched for the moment when my protector’sattention would be diverted. The moment when I would surely die. Somewhere, far, far away in the cold forest, a wolf howled. 1. ULTIMATUM Bella, I don’t know why you’re making Charlie carry notes to Billy like we’re in second grade — if I wantedto talk to you I would answer the You made the choice here, okay? You can’t have it both ways when What part of ‘mortal enemies’ is too complicated for you to Look, I know I’m being a jerk, but there’s just no way around We can’t be friends when you’re spending all your time with a bunch of It just makes it worse when I think about you too much, so don’t write anymore Yeah, I miss you, too. A lot. Doesn’t change anything. Sorry. Jacob I ran my fingers across the page, feeling the dents where he had pressed the pen to the paper so hardthat it had nearly broken through. I could picture him writing this — scrawling the angry letters in hisrough handwriting, slashing through line after line when the words came out wrong, maybe even snappingthe pen in his too-big hand; that would explain the ink splatters. I could imagine the frustration pulling hisblack eyebrows together and crumpling his forehead. If I’d been there, I might have laughed.Don’t giveyourself a brain hemorrhage, Jacob, I would have told him.Just spit it out. Laughing was the last thing I felt like doing now as I reread the words I’d already memorized. Hisanswer to my pleading note — passed from Charlie to Billy to him, just like second grade, as he’dpointed out — was no surprise. I’d known the essence of what it would say before I’d opened it. What was surprising was how much each crossed-out line wounded me — as if the points of the lettershad cutting edges. More than that, behind each angry beginning lurked a vast pool of hurt; Jacob’s paincut me deeper than my own. While I was pondering this, I caught the unmistakable scent of a smoking burner rising from the kitchen.In another house, the fact that someone besides myself was cooking might not be a cause for panicking. I shoved the wrinkled paper into my back pocket and ran, making it downstairs in the nick of time. The jar of spaghetti sauce Charlie’d stuck in the microwave was only on its first revolution when Iyanked the door open and pulled it out. “What did I do wrong?” Charlie demanded. “You’re supposed to take the lid off first, Dad. Metal’s bad for microwaves.” I swiftly removed the lidas I spoke, poured half the sauce into a bowl, and then put the bowl inside the microwave and the jarback in the fridge; I fixed the time and pressed start. Charlie watched my adjustments with pursed lips. “Did I get the noodles right?” I looked in the pan on the stove — the source of the smell that had alerted me. “Stirring helps,” I saidmildly. I found a spoon and tried to de-clump the mushy hunk that was scalded to the bottom. Charlie sighed. “So what’s all this about?” I asked him. He folded his arms across his chest and glared out the back windows into the sheeting rain. “Don’tknow what you’re talking about,” he grumbled. I was mystified. Charlie cooking? And what was with the surly attitude? Edward wasn’t here yet; usuallymy dad reserved this kind of behavior for my boyfriend’s benefit, doing his best to illustrate the theme of“unwelcome” with every word and posture. Charlie’s efforts were unnecessary — Edward knew exactlywhat my dad was thinking without the show. The wordboyfriend had me chewing on the inside of my cheek with a familiar tension while I stirred. Itwasn’t the right word, not at all. I needed something more expressive of eternal commitment. . . . Butwords likedestiny andfate sounded hokey when you used them in casual conversation. Edward had another word in mind, and that word was the source of the tension I felt. It put my teeth onedge just to think it to myself. Fiancée. Ugh. I shuddered away from the thought. “Did I miss something? Since when do you make dinner?” I asked Charlie. The pasta lump bobbed inthe boiling water as I poked it. “Ortry to make dinner, I should say.” Charlie shrugged. “There’s no law that says I can’t cook in my own house.” “You would know,” I replied, grinning as I eyed the badge pinned to his leather jacket. “Ha. Good one.” He shrugged out of the jacket as if my glance had reminded him he still had it on, andhung it on the peg reserved for his gear. His gun belt was already slung in place — he hadn’t felt the needto wear that to the station for a few weeks. There had been no more disturbing disappearances to troublethe small town of Forks, Washington, no more sightings of the giant, mysterious wolves in the ever-rainywoods. . . . I prodded the noodles in silence, guessing that Charlie would get around to talking about whatever wasbothering him in his own time. My dad was not a man of many words, and the effort he had put intotrying to orchestrate a sit-down dinner with me made it clear there were an uncharacteristic number ofwords on his mind. I glanced at the clock routinely — something I did every few minutes around this time. Less than a halfhour to go now. Afternoons were the hardest part of my day. Ever since my former best friend (and werewolf), JacobBlack, had informed on me about the motorcycle I’d been riding on the sly — a betrayal he had devisedin order to get me grounded so that I couldn’t spend time with my boyfriend (and vampire), EdwardCullen — Edward had been allowed to see me only from seven till nine-thirty p.m., always inside theconfines of my home and under the supervision of my dad’s unfailingly crabby glare. This was an escalation from the previous, slightly less stringent grounding that I’d earned for anunexplained three-day disappearance and one episode of cliff diving. Of course, I still saw Edward at school, because there wasn’t anything Charlie could do about that. Andthen, Edward spent almost every night in my room, too, but Charlie wasn’t precisely aware of that.Edward’s ability to climb easily and silently through my second-story window was almost as useful as hisability to read Charlie’s mind. Though the afternoon was the only time I spent away from Edward, it was enough to make me restless,and the hours always dragged. Still, I endured my punishment without complaining because — for onething — I knew I’d earned it, and — for another — because I couldn’t bear to hurt my dad by movingout now, when a much more permanent separation hovered, invisible to Charlie, so close on my horizon. My dad sat down at the table with a grunt and unfolded the damp newspaper there; within seconds hewas clucking his tongue in disapproval. “I don’t know why you read the news, Dad. It only ticks you off.” He ignored me, grumbling at the paper in his hands. “This is why everyone wants to live in a small town!Ridiculous.” “What have big cities done wrong now?” “Seattle’s making a run for murder capital of the country. Five unsolved homicides in the last two weeks.Can you imagine living like that?” “I think Phoenix is actually higher up the homicide list, Dad. Ihave lived like that.” And I’d never comeclose to being a murder victim until after I moved to his safe little town. In fact, I was still on several hitlists. . . . The spoon shook in my hands, making the water tremble. “Well, you couldn’t pay me enough,” Charlie said. I gave up on saving dinner and settled for serving it; I had to use a steak knife to cut a portion ofspaghetti for Charlie and then myself, while he watched with a sheepish expression. Charlie coated hishelping with sauce and dug in. I disguised my own clump as well as I could and followed his examplewithout much enthusiasm. We ate in silence for a moment. Charlie was still scanning the news, so Ipicked up my much-abused copy ofWuthering Heights from where I’d left it this morning at breakfast,and tried to lose myself in turn-of-the-century England while I waited for him to start talking. I was just to the part where Heathcliff returns when Charlie cleared his throat and threw the paper to thefloor. “You’re right,” Charlie said. “I did have a reason for doing this.” He waved his fork at the gluey spread.“I wanted to talk to you.” I laid the book aside; the binding was so destroyed that it slumped flat to the table. “You could have justasked.” He nodded, his eyebrows pulling together. “Yeah. I’ll remember that next time. I thought taking dinneroff your hands would soften you up.” I laughed. “It worked — your cooking skills have me soft as a marshmallow. What do you need, Dad?” “Well, it’s about Jacob.” I felt my face harden. “What about him?” I asked through stiff lips. “Easy, Bells. I know you’re still upset that he told on you, but it was the right thing. He was beingresponsible.” “Responsible,” I repeated scathingly, rolling my eyes. “Right. So, what about Jacob?” The careless question repeated inside my head, anything but trivial.What about Jacob? Whatwas Igoing to do about him? My former best friend who was now . . . what? My enemy? I cringed. Charlie’s face was suddenly wary. “Don’t get mad at me, okay?” “Mad?” “Well, it’s about Edward, too.” My eyes narrowed. Charlie’s voice got gruffer. “I let him in the house, don’t I?” “You do,” I admitted. “For brief periods of time. Of course, you might let meout of the house for briefperiods now and then, too,” I continued — only jokingly; I knew I was on lockdown for the duration ofthe school year. “I’ve been pretty good lately.” “Well, that’s kind of where I was heading with this. . . .” And then Charlie’s face stretched into anunexpected eye-crinkling grin; for a second he looked twenty years younger. I saw a dim glimmer of possibility in that smile, but I proceeded slowly. “I’m confused, Dad. Are wetalking about Jacob, or Edward, or me being grounded?” The grin flashed again. “Sort of all three.” “And how do they relate?” I asked, cautious. “Okay.” He sighed, raising his hands as if in surrender. “So I’m thinking maybe you deserve a parole forgood behavior. For a teenager, you’re amazingly non-whiney.” My voice and eyebrows shot up. “Seriously? I’m free?” Where was this coming from? I’d been positive I would be under house arrest until I actually moved out,and Edward hadn’t picked up any wavering in Charlie’s thoughts. . . . Charlie held up one finger. “Conditionally.” The enthusiasm vanished. “Fantastic,” I groaned. “Bella, this is more of a request than a demand, okay? You’re free. But I’m hoping you’ll use thatfreedom . . . judiciously.” “What does that mean?” He sighed again. “I know you’re satisfied to spend all of your time with Edward —” “I spend time with Alice, too,” I interjected. Edward’s sister had no hours of visitation; she came andwent as she pleased. Charlie was putty in her capable hands. “That’s true,” he said. “But you have other friends besides the Cullens, Bella. Or youused to.” We stared at each other for a long moment. “When was the last time you spoke to Angela Weber?” he threw at me. “Friday at lunch,” I answered immediately. Before Edward’s return, my school friends had polarized into two groups. I liked to think of thosegroups asgood vs.evil. Us andthem worked, too. The good guys were Angela, her steady boyfriendBen Cheney, and Mike Newton; these three had all very generously forgiven me for going crazy whenEdward left. Lauren Mallory was the evil core of thethem side, and almost everyone else, including myfirst friend in Forks, Jessica Stanley, seemed content to go along with her anti-Bella agenda. With Edward back at school, the dividing line had become even more distinct. Edward’s return had taken its toll on Mike’s friendship, but Angela was unswervingly loyal, and Benfollowed her lead. Despite the natural aversion most humans felt toward the Cullens, Angela sat dutifullybeside Alice every day at lunch. After a few weeks, Angela even looked comfortable there. It wasdifficult not to be charmed by the Cullens — once one gave them the chance to be charming. “Outside of school?” Charlie asked, calling my attention back. “I haven’t seenanyone outside of school, Dad. Grounded, remember? And Angela has a boyfriend, too.She’s always with Ben.If I’m really free,” I added, heavy on the skepticism, “maybe we could double.” “Okay. But then . . .” He hesitated. “You and Jake used to be joined at the hip, and now —” I cut him off. “Can you get to the point, Dad? What’s your condition — exactly?” “I don’t think you should dump all your other friends for your boyfriend, Bella,” he said in a stern voice.“It’s not nice, and I think your life would be better balanced if you kept some other people in it. Whathappened last September . . .” I flinched. “Well,” he said defensively. “If you’d had more of a life outside of Edward Cullen, it might not have beenlike that.” “It would have been exactly like that,” I muttered. “Maybe, maybe not.” “The point?” I reminded him. “Use your new freedom to see your other friends, too. Keep it balanced.” I nodded slowly. “Balance is good. Do I have specific time quotas to fill, though?” He made a face, but shook his head. “I don’t want to make this complicated. Just don’t forget yourfriends . . .” It was a dilemma I was already struggling with. My friends. People who, for their own safety, I wouldnever be able to see again after graduation. So what was the better course of action? Spend time with them while I could? Or start the separationnow to make it more gradual? I quailed at the idea of the second option. “. . . particularly Jacob,” Charlie added before I could think things through more than that. A greater dilemma than the first. It took me a moment to find the right words. “Jacob might be . . .difficult.” “The Blacks are practically family, Bella,” he said, stern and fatherly again. “And Jacob has been a very,very good friend to you.” “I know that.” “Don’t you miss him at all?” Charlie asked, frustrated. My throat suddenly felt swollen; I had to clear it twice before I answered. “Yes, I do miss him,” Iadmitted, still looking down. “I miss him a lot.” “Then why is it difficult?” It wasn’t something I was at liberty to explain. It was against the rules for normal people —humanpeople like me and Charlie — to know about the clandestine world full of myths and monsters thatexisted secretly around us. I knew all about that world — and I was in no small amount of trouble as aresult. I wasn’t about to get Charlie in the same trouble. “With Jacob there is a . . . conflict,” I said slowly. “A conflict about the friendship thing, I mean.Friendship doesn’t always seem to be enough for Jake.” I wound my excuse out of details that were truebut insignificant, hardly crucial compared to the fact that Jacob’s werewolf pack bitterly hated Edward’svampire family — and therefore me, too, as I fully intended to join that family. It just wasn’t something Icould work out with him in a note, and he wouldn’t answer my calls. But my plan to deal with thewerewolf in person had definitely not gone over well with the vampires. “Isn’t Edward up for a little healthy competition?” Charlie’s voice was sarcastic now. I leveled a dark look at him. “There’s no competition.” “You’re hurting Jake’s feelings, avoiding him like this. He’d rather be just friends than nothing.” Oh, nowI was avoidinghim ? “I’m pretty sure Jake doesn’t want to be friends at all.” The words burned in my mouth. “Where’d youget that idea, anyway?” Charlie looked embarrassed now. “The subject might have come up today with Billy. . . .” “You and Billy gossip like old women,” I complained, stabbing my fork viciously into the congealedspaghetti on my plate. “Billy’s worried about Jacob,” Charlie said. “Jake’s having a hard time right now. . . . He’s depressed.” I winced, but kept my eyes on the blob. “And then you were always so happy after spending the day with Jake.” Charlie sighed. “I’m happynow ,” I growled fiercely through my teeth. The contrast between my words and tone broke through the tension. Charlie burst into laughter, and Ihad to join in. “Okay, okay,” I agreed. “Balance.” “And Jacob,” he insisted. “I’ll try.” “Good. Find that balance, Bella. And, oh, yeah, you’ve got some mail,” Charlie said, closing the subjectwith no attempt at subtlety. “It’s by the stove.” I didn’t move, my thoughts twisting into snarls around Jacob’s name. It was most likely junk mail; I’djust gotten a package from my mom yesterday and I wasn’t expecting anything else. Charlie shoved his chair away from the table and stretched as he got to his feet. He took his plate to thesink, but before he turned the water on to rinse it, he paused to toss a thick envelope at me. The letterskidded across the table andthunk ed into my elbow. “Er, thanks,” I muttered, puzzled by his pushiness. Then I saw the return address — the letter was fromthe University of Alaska Southeast. “That was quick. I guess I missed the deadline on that one, too.” Charlie chuckled. I flipped the envelope over and then glared up at him. “It’s open.” “I was curious.” “I’m shocked, Sheriff. That’s a federal crime.” “Oh, just read it.” I pulled out the letter, and a folded schedule of courses. “Congratulations,” he said before I could read anything. “Your first acceptance.” “Thanks, Dad.” “We should talk about tuition. I’ve got some money saved up —” “Hey, hey, none of that. I’m not touching your retirement, Dad. I’ve got my college fund.” What was leftof it — and there hadn’t been much to begin with. Charlie frowned. “Some of these places are pretty pricey, Bells. I want to help. You don’t have to go toall the way to Alaska just because it’s cheaper.” It wasn’t cheaper, not at all. But itwas far away, and Juneau had an average of three hundredtwenty-one overcast days per year. The first was my prerequisite, the second was Edward’s. “I’ve got it covered. Besides, there’s lots of financial aid out there. It’s easy to get loans.” I hoped mybluff wasn’t too obvious. I hadn’t actually done a lot of research on the subject. “So . . . ,” Charlie began, and then he pursed his lips and looked away. “So what?” “Nothing. I was just . . .” He frowned. “Just wondering what . . . Edward’s plans are for next year?” “Oh.” “Well?” Three quick raps on the door saved me. Charlie rolled his eyes and I jumped up. “Coming!” I called while Charlie mumbled something that sounded like, “Go away.” I ignored him andwent to let Edward in. I wrenched the door out of my way — ridiculously eager — and there he was, my personal miracle. Time had not made me immune to the perfection of his face, and I was sure that I would never take anyaspect of him for granted. My eyes traced over his pale white features: the hard square of his jaw, thesofter curve of his full lips — twisted up into a smile now, the straight line of his nose, the sharp angle ofhis cheekbones, the smooth marble span of his forehead — partially obscured by a tangle ofrain-darkened bronze hair. . . . I saved his eyes for last, knowing that when I looked into them I was likely to lose my train of thought.They were wide, warm with liquid gold, and framed by a thick fringe of black lashes. Staring into his eyesalways made me feel extraordinary — sort of like my bones were turning spongy. I was also a littlelightheaded, but that could have been because I’d forgotten to keep breathing. Again. It was a face any male model in the world would trade his soul for. Of course, that might be exactly theasking price: one soul. No. I didn’t believe that. I felt guilty for even thinking it, and was glad — as I was often glad — that Iwas the one person whose thoughts were a mystery to Edward. I reached for his hand, and sighed when his cold fingers found mine. His touch brought with it thestrangest sense of relief — as if I’d been in pain and that pain had suddenly ceased. “Hey.” I smiled a little at my anticlimactic greeting. He raised our interlaced fingers to brush my cheek with the back of his hand. “How was yourafternoon?” “Slow.” “For me, as well.” He pulled my wrist up to his face, our hands still twisted together. His eyes closed as his nose skimmedalong the skin there, and he smiled gently without opening them. Enjoying the bouquet while resisting thewine, as he’d once put it. I knew that the scent of my blood — so much sweeter to him than any other person’s blood, truly likewine beside water to an alcoholic — caused him actual pain from the burning thirst it engendered. But hedidn’t seem to shy away from it as much as he once had. I could only dimly imagine the Herculean effortbehind this simple gesture. It made me sad that he had to try so hard. I comforted myself with the knowledge that I wouldn’t becausing him pain much longer. I heard Charlie approaching then, stamping his feet on the way to express his customary displeasure withour guest. Edward’s eyes snapped open and he let our hands fall, keeping them twined. “Good evening, Charlie.” Edward was always flawlessly polite, though Charlie didn’t deserve it. Charlie grunted at him, and then stood there with his arms crossed over his chest. He was taking the ideaof parental supervision to extremes lately. “I brought another set of applications,” Edward told me then, holding up a stuffed manila envelope. Hewas wearing a roll of stamps like a ring around his littlest finger. I groaned. How were there any colleges left that he hadn’t forced me to apply to already? And how didhe keep finding these loophole openings? It was so late in the year. He smiled as if hecould read my thoughts; they must have been very obvious on my face. “There are still

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