Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница

possible. I grabbed my bathroom bag.

The shower didn't last nearly as long as I hoped it would, though. Even

taking the time to blow-dry my hair, I was soon out of things to do in

the bathroom. Wrapped in a towel, I crossed back to my room. I couldn't

tell if Charlie was still asleep, or if he had already left. I went to

look out my window, and the cruiser was gone. Fishing again.

I dressed slowly in my most comfy sweats and then made my bed — something

I never did. I couldn't put it off any longer Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница. I went to my desk and

switched on my old computer.

I hated using the Internet here. My modem was sadly outdated, my free

service substandard; just dialing up took so long that I decided to go

get myself a bowl of cereal while I waited.

I ate slowly, chewing each bite with care. When I was done, I washed the

bowl and spoon, dried them, and put them away. My feet dragged as I

climbed the stairs. I went to my CD player first, picking it up off the

floor and placing it precisely in the center of the table. I pulled out

the headphones Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница, and put them away in the desk drawer. Then I turned the

same CD on, turning it down to the point where it was background noise.

With another sigh, I turned to my computer. Naturally, the screen was

covered in pop-up ads. I sat in my hard folding chair and began closing

all the little windows. Eventually I made it to my favorite search

engine. I shot down a few more pop-ups and then typed in one word.


It took an infuriatingly long time, of course. When the results came up,

there was a lot to sift through — everything from movies and Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница TV shows to

role-playing games, underground metal, and gothic cosmetic companies.

Then I found a promising site — Vampires A—Z. I waited impatiently for it

to load, quickly clicking closed each ad that flashed across the screen.

Finally the screen was finished — simple white background with black

text, academic-looking. Two quotes greeted me on the home page:

Throughout the vast shadowy world of ghosts and demons there is no figure

so terrible, no figure so dreaded and abhorred, yet dight with such

fearful fascination, as the vampire, who is himself neither ghost nor

demon, but yet who partakes the dark natures and possesses Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница the mysterious

and terrible qualities of both. — Rev. Montague Summers

If there is in this world a well-attested account, it is that of the

vampires. Nothing is lacking: official reports, affidavits of well-known

people, of surgeons, of priests, of magistrates; the judicial proof is

most complete. And with all that, who is there who believes in vampires?

— Rousseau

The rest of the site was an alphabetized listing of all the different

myths of vampires held throughout the world. The first I clicked on, the

Danag, was a Filipino vampire supposedly responsible for planting taro on

the islands long ago. The myth continued that the Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница Danag worked with

humans for many years, but the partnership ended one day when a woman cut

her finger and a Danag sucked her wound, enjoying the taste so much that

it drained her body completely of blood.

I read carefully through the descriptions, looking for anything that

sounded familiar, let alone plausible. It seemed that most vampire myths

centered around beautiful women as demons and children as victims; they

also seemed like constructs created to explain away the high mortality

rates for young children, and to give men an excuse for infidelity. Many

of the stories involved bodiless spirits and warnings against improper

burials. There wasn't Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница much that sounded like the movies I'd seen, and

only a very few, like the Hebrew Estrie and the Polish Upier, who were

even preoccupied with drinking blood.

Only three entries really caught my attention: the Romanian Varacolaci, a

powerful undead being who could appear as a beautiful, pale-skinned

human, the Slovak Nelapsi, a creature so strong and fast it could

massacre an entire village in the single hour after midnight, and one

other, the Stregoni benefici.

About this last there was only one brief sentence.

Stregoni benefici: An Italian vampire, said to be on the side of

goodness, and a mortal enemy of Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница all evil vampires.

It was a relief, that one small entry, the one myth among hundreds that

claimed the existence of good vampires.

Overall, though, there was little that coincided with Jacob's stories or

my own observations. I'd made a little catalogue in my mind as I'd read

and carefully compared it with each myth. Speed, strength, beauty, pale

skin, eyes that shift color; and then Jacob's criteria: blood drinkers,

enemies of the werewolf, cold-skinned, and immortal. There were very few

myths that matched even one factor.

And then another problem, one that I'd remembered from the small number

of Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница scary movies that I'd seen and was backed up by today's reading —

vampires couldn't come out in the daytime, the sun would burn them to a

cinder. They slept in coffins all day and came out only at night.

Aggravated, I snapped off the computer's main power switch, not waiting

to shut things down properly. Through my irritation, I felt overwhelming

embarrassment. It was all so stupid. I was sitting in my room,

researching vampires. What was wrong with me? I decided that most of the

blame belonged on the doorstep of the town of Forks — and the entire

sodden Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница Olympic Peninsula, for that matter.

I had to get out of the house, but there was nowhere I wanted to go that

didn't involve a three-day drive. I pulled on my boots anyway, unclear

where I was headed, and went downstairs. I shrugged into my raincoat

without checking the weather and stomped out the door.

It was overcast, but not raining yet. I ignored my truck and started east

on foot, angling across Charlie's yard toward the ever-encroaching

forest. It didn't take long till I was deep enough for the house and the

road to be invisible, for the Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница only sound to be the squish of the damp

earth under my feet and the sudden cries of the jays.

There was a thin ribbon of a trail that led through the forest here, or I

wouldn't risk wandering on my own like this. My sense of direction was

hopeless; I could get lost in much less helpful surroundings. The trail

wound deeper and deeper into the forest, mostly east as far as I could

tell. It snaked around the Sitka spruces and the hemlocks, the yews and

the maples. I only vaguely knew the names of the trees around me, and all

I knew was Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница due to Charlie pointing them out to me from the cruiser window

in earlier days. There were many I didn't know, and others I couldn't be

sure about because they were so covered in green parasites.

I followed the trail as long as my anger at myself pushed me forward. As

that started to ebb, I slowed. A few drops of moisture trickled down from

the canopy above me, but I couldn't be certain if it was beginning to

rain or if it was simply pools left over from yesterday, held high in the

leaves above me, slowly dripping their way Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница back to the earth. A recently

fallen tree — I knew it was recent because it wasn't entirely carpeted in

moss — rested against the trunk of one of her sisters, creating a

sheltered little bench just a few safe feet off the trail. I stepped over

the ferns and sat carefully, making sure my jacket was between the damp

seat and my clothes wherever they touched, and leaned my hooded head back

against the living tree.

This was the wrong place to have come. I should have known, but where

else was there to go? The forest was deep green and far too much like the

scene Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница in last night's dream to allow for peace of mind. Now that there

was no longer the sound of my soggy footsteps, the silence was piercing.

The birds were quiet, too, the drops increasing in frequency, so it must

be raining above. The ferns stood higher than my head, now that I was

seated, and I knew someone could walk by on the path, three feet away,

and not see me.

Here in the trees it was much easier to believe the absurdities that

embarrassed me indoors. Nothing had changed in this forest for thousands

of years, and all the myths and legends Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница of a hundred different lands

seemed much more likely in this green haze than they had in my clear-cut


I forced myself to focus on the two most vital questions I had to answer,

but I did so unwillingly.

First, I had to decide if it was possible that what Jacob had said about

the Cullens could be true.

Immediately my mind responded with a resounding negative. It was silly

and morbid to entertain such ridiculous notions. But what, then? I asked

myself. There was no rational explanation for how I was alive at this

moment. I listed again in my head the things Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница I'd observed myself: the

impossible speed and strength, the eye color shifting from black to gold

and back again, the inhuman beauty, the pale, frigid skin. And more —

small things that registered slowly — how they never seemed to eat, the

disturbing grace with which they moved. And the way be

sometimes spoke, with unfamiliar cadences and phrases that better fit the

style of a turn-of-the-century novel than that of a twenty-first-century

classroom. He had skipped class the day we'd done blood typing. He hadn't

said no to the beach trip till he heard where we were going. He seemed to

know Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница what everyone around him was thinking… except me. He had told me he

was the villain, dangerous…

Could the Cullens be vampires?

Well, they were something. Something outside the possibility of rational

justification was taking place in front of my incredulous eyes. Whether

it be Jacob's cold ones or my own superhero theory, Edward Cullen was

not… human. He was something more.

So then — maybe. That would have to be my answer for now.

And then the most important question of all. What was I going to do if it

was true?

If Edward was a vampire — I could hardly make myself Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница think the words —

then what should I do? Involving someone else was definitely out. I

couldn't even believe myself; anyone I told would have me committed.

Only two options seemed practical. The first was to take his advice: to

be smart, to avoid him as much as possible. To cancel our plans, to go

back to ignoring him as far as I was able. To pretend there was an

impenetrably thick glass wall between us in the one class where we were

forced together. To tell him to leave me alone — and mean it this time.

I was gripped in a sudden agony Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница of despair as I considered that

alternative. My mind rejected the pain, quickly skipping on to the next


I could do nothing different. After all, if he was something… sinister,

he'd done nothing to hurt me so far. In fact, I would be a dent in

Tyler's fender if he hadn't acted so quickly. So quickly, I argued with

myself, that it might have been sheer reflexes. But if it was a reflex to

save lives, how bad could he be? I retorted. My head spun around in

answerless circles.

There was one thing I was sure of, if I was sure Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница of anything. The dark

Edward in my dream last night was a reflection only of my fear of the

word Jacob had spoken, and not Edward himself. Even so, when I'd screamed

out in terror at the werewolf's lunge, it wasn't fear for the wolf that

brought the cry of "no" to my lips. It was fear that he would be harmed —

even as he called to me with sharp-edged fangs, I feared for him.

And I knew in that I had my answer. I didn't know if there ever was a

choice, really. I was already Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница in too deep. Now that I knew — if I knew —

I could do nothing about my frightening secret. Because when I thought of

him, of his voice, his hypnotic eyes, the magnetic force of his

personality, I wanted nothing more than to be with him right now. Even

if… but I couldn't think it. Not here, alone in the darkening forest. Not

while the rain made it dim as twilight under the canopy and pattered like

footsteps across the matted earthen floor. I shivered and rose quickly

from my place of concealment, worried that somehow the path would have

disappeared with the rain.

But it Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница was there, safe and clear, winding its way out of the dripping

green maze. I followed it hastily, my hood pulled close around my face,

becoming surprised, as I nearly ran through the trees, at how far I had

come. I started to wonder if I was heading out at all, or following the

path farther into the confines of the forest. Before I could get too

panicky, though, I began to glimpse some open spaces through the webbed

branches. And then I could hear a car passing on the street, and I was

free, Charlie's lawn stretched out in front of me, the house Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница beckoning

me, promising warmth and dry socks.

It was just noon when I got back inside. I went upstairs and got dressed

for the day, jeans and a t-shirt, since I was staying indoors. It didn't

take too much effort to concentrate on my task for the day, a paper on

Macbeth that was due Wednesday. I settled into outlining a rough draft

contentedly, more serene than I'd felt since… well, since Thursday

afternoon, if I was being honest.

That had always been my way, though. Making decisions was the painful

part for me, the part I agonized over. But once Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница the decision was made, I

simply followed through — usually with relief that the choice was made.

Sometimes the relief was tainted by despair, like my decision to come to

Forks. But it was still better than wrestling with the alternatives.

This decision was ridiculously easy to live with. Dangerously easy.

And so the day was quiet, productive — I finished my paper before eight.

Charlie came home with a large catch, and I made a mental note to pick up

a book of recipes for fish while I was in Seattle next week. The chills

that flashed up my spine whenever I thought of that Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница trip were no

different than the ones I'd felt before I'd taken my walk with Jacob

Black. They should be different, I thought. I should be afraid — I knew I

should be, but I couldn't feel the right kind of fear.

I slept dreamlessly that night, exhausted from beginning my day so early,

and sleeping so poorly the night before. I woke, for the second time

since arriving in Forks, to the bright yellow light of a sunny day. I

skipped to the window, stunned to see that there was hardly a cloud in

the sky, and those there were just fleecy Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница little white puffs that

couldn't possibly be carrying any rain. I opened the window — surprised

when it opened silently, without sticking, not having opened it in who

knows how many years — and sucked in the relatively dry air. It was

nearly warm and hardly windy at all. My blood was electric in my veins.

Charlie was finishing breakfast when I came downstairs, and he picked up

on my mood immediately.

"Nice day out," he commented.

"Yes," I agreed with a grin.

He smiled back, his brown eyes crinkling around the edges. When Charlie

smiled, it was easier to see why he and my mother Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница had jumped too quickly

into an early marriage. Most of the young romantic he'd been in those

days had faded before I'd known him, as the curly brown hair — the same

color, if not the same texture, as mine — had dwindled, slowly revealing

more and more of the shiny skin of his forehead. But when he smiled I

could see a little of the man who had run away with Renée when she was

just two years older than I was now.

I ate breakfast cheerily, watching the dust moats stirring in the

sunlight that streamed in the back window. Charlie called out a Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница goodbye,

and I heard the cruiser pull away from the house. I hesitated on my way

out the door, hand on my rain jacket. It would be tempting fate to leave

it home. With a sigh, I folded it over my arm and stepped out into the

brightest light I'd seen in months.

By dint of much elbow grease, I was able to get both windows in the truck

almost completely rolled down. I was one of the first ones to school; I

hadn't even checked the clock in my hurry to get outside. I parked and

headed toward the seldom-used Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница picnic benches on the south side of the

cafeteria. The benches were still a little damp, so I sat on my jacket,

glad to have a use for it. My homework was done — the product of a slow

social life — but there were a few Trig problems I wasn't sure I had

right. I took out my book industriously, but halfway through rechecking

the first problem I was daydreaming, watching the sunlight play on the

red-barked trees. I sketched inattentively along the margins of my

homework. After a few minutes, I suddenly realized I'd drawn five pairs

of dark eyes staring out of the page Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница at me. I scrubbed them out with the


"Bella!" I heard someone call, and it sounded like Mike.

I looked around to realize that the school had become populated while I'd

been sitting there, absentminded. Everyone was in t-shirts, some even in

shorts though the temperature couldn't be over sixty. Mike was coming

toward me in khaki shorts and a striped Rugby shirt, waving.

"Hey, Mike," I called, waving back, unable to be halfhearted on a morning

like this.

He came to sit by me, the tidy spikes of his hair shining golden in the

light, his grin stretching Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница across his face. He was so delighted to see

me, I couldn't help but feel gratified.

"I never noticed before — your hair has red in it," he commented,

catching between his fingers a strand that was fluttering in the light


"Only in the sun."

I became just a little uncomfortable as he tucked the lock behind my ear.

"Great day, isn't it?"

"My kind of day," I agreed.

"What did you do yesterday?" His tone was just a bit too proprietary.

"I mostly worked on my essay." I didn't add that I was finished with it —

no need to Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница sound smug.

He hit his forehead with the heel of his hand. "Oh yeah — that's due

Thursday, right?"

"Um, Wednesday, I think."

"Wednesday?" He frowned. "That's not good… What are you writing yours on?"

"Whether Shakespeare's treatment of the female characters is


He stared at me like I'd just spoken in pig Latin.

"I guess I'll have to get to work on that tonight," he said, deflated. "I

was going to ask if you wanted to go out."

"Oh." I was taken off guard. Why couldn't I ever have a pleasant

conversation with Mike anymore Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница without it getting awkward?

"Well, we could go to dinner or something… and I could work on it later."

He smiled at me hopefully.

"Mike…" I hated being put on the spot. "I don't think that would be the

best idea."

His face fell. "Why?" he asked, his eyes guarded. My thoughts flickered

to Edward, wondering if that's where his thoughts were as well.

"I think… and if you ever repeat what I'm saying right now I will

cheerfully beat you to death," I threatened, "but I think that would hurt

Jessica's feelings."

He was bewildered, obviously Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница not thinking in that direction at all.


"Really, Mike, are you blind?"

"Oh," he exhaled — clearly dazed. I took advantage of that to make my


"It's time for class, and I can't be late again." I gathered my books up

and stuffed them in my bag.

We walked in silence to building three, and his expression was

distracted. I hoped whatever thoughts he was immersed in were leading him

in the right direction.

When I saw Jessica in Trig, she was bubbling with enthusiasm. She,

Angela, and Lauren were going to Port Angeles tonight to go dress

shopping for the dance, and she Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница wanted me to come, too, even though I

didn't need one. I was indecisive. It would be nice to get out of town

with some girlfriends, but Lauren would be there. And who knew what I

could be doing tonight… But that was definitely the wrong path to let my

mind wander down. Of course I was happy about the sunlight. But that

wasn't completely responsible for the euphoric mood I was in, not even


So I gave her a maybe, telling her I'd have to talk with Charlie first.

She talked of nothing but the dance on Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница the way to Spanish, continuing as

if without an interruption when class finally ended, five minutes late,

and we were on our way to lunch. I was far too lost in my own frenzy of

anticipation to notice much of what she said. I was painfully eager to

see not just him but all the Cullens — to compare them with the new

suspicions that plagued my mind. As I crossed the threshold of the

cafeteria, I felt the first true tingle of fear slither down my spine and

settle in my stomach. Would they be able to know what I was thinking? And

then a different feeling jolted Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница through me — would Edward be waiting to

sit with me again?

As was my routine, I glanced first toward the Cullens' table. A shiver of

panic trembled in my stomach as I realized it was empty. With dwindling

hope, my eyes scoured the rest of the cafeteria, hoping to find him

alone, waiting for me. The place was nearly filled — Spanish had made us

late — but there was no sign of Edward or any of his family. Desolation

hit me with crippling strength.

I shambled along behind Jessica, not bothering to pretend to listen


We were late enough that everyone was already at Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница our table. I avoided the

empty chair next to Mike in favor of one by Angela. I vaguely noticed

that Mike held the chair out politely for Jessica, and that her face lit

up in response.

Angela asked a few quiet questions about the Macbeth paper, which I

answered as naturally as I could while spiraling downward in misery. She,

too, invited me to go with them tonight, and I agreed now, grasping at

anything to distract myself.

I realized I'd been holding on to a last shred of hope when I entered

Biology, saw his empty seat, and felt a new wave of disappointment.

The rest Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница of the day passed slowly, dismally. In Gym, we had a lecture on

the rules of badminton, the next torture they had lined up for me. But at

least it meant I got to sit and listen instead of stumbling around on the

court. The best part was the coach didn't finish, so I got another day

off tomorrow. Never mind that the day after they would arm me with a

racket before unleashing me on the rest of the class.

I was glad to leave campus, so I would be free to pout and mope before I

went out tonight with Jessica and Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница company. But right after I walked in

the door of Charlie's house, Jessica called to cancel our plans. I tried

to be happy that Mike had asked her out to dinner — I really was relieved

that he finally seemed to be catching on — but my enthusiasm sounded

false in my own ears. She rescheduled our shopping trip for tomorrow


Which left me with little in the way of distractions. I had fish

marinating for dinner, with a salad and bread left over from the night

before, so there was nothing to do there. I spent a focused half hour on

homework, but then I was Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница through with that, too. I checked my e-mail,

reading the backlog of letters from my mother, getting snippier as they

progressed to the present. I sighed and typed a quick response.


Sorry. I've been out. I went to the beach with some friends. And I had to

write a paper.

My excuses were fairly pathetic, so I gave up on that.

It's sunny outside today - I know, I'm shocked, too - so I'm going to go

outside and soak up as much vitamin D as I can. I love you,


I decided to Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница kill an hour with non-school-related reading. I had a small

collection of books that came with me to Forks, the shabbiest volume

being a compilation of the works of Jane Austen. I selected that one and

headed to the backyard, grabbing a ragged old quilt from the linen

cupboard at the top of the stairs on my way down.

Outside in Charlie's small, square yard, I folded the quilt in half and

laid it out of the reach of the trees' shadows on the thick lawn that

would always be slightly wet, no matter how long the sun shone. I lay on

my Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница stomach, crossing my ankles in the air, flipping through the different

novels in the book, trying to decide which would occupy my mind the most

thoroughly. My favorites were Pride and Prejudice and Sense and

Sensibility. I'd read the first most recently, so I started into Sense

and Sensibility, only to remember after I began three that the hero of

the story happened to be named Edward. Angrily, I turned to Mansfield

Park, but the hero of that piece was named Edmund, and that was just too

close. Weren't there any other names available in the late eighteenth

century? I snapped the book shut, annoyed, and Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница rolled over onto my back.

I pushed my sleeves up as high as they would go, and closed my eyes. I

would think of nothing but the warmth on my skin, I told myself severely.

The breeze was still light, but it blew tendrils of my hair around my

face, and that tickled a bit. I pulled all my hair over my head, letting

it fan out on the quilt above me, and focused again on the heat that

touched my eyelids, my cheekbones, my nose, my lips, my forearms, my

neck, soaked through my light shirt…

The next thing I was conscious of was Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница the sound of Charlie's cruiser

turning onto the bricks of the driveway. I sat up in surprise, realizing

the light was gone, behind the trees, and I had fallen asleep. I looked

around, muddled, with the sudden feeling that I wasn't alone.

"Charlie?" I asked. But I could hear his door slamming in front of the


I jumped up, foolishly edgy, gathering the now-damp quilt and my book. I

ran inside to get some oil heating on the stove, realizing that dinner

would be late. Charlie was hanging up his gun belt and stepping out of

his boots when I came in Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница.

"Sorry, Dad, dinner's not ready yet — I fell asleep outside." I stifled a


"Don't worry about it," he said. "I wanted to catch the score on the

game, anyway."

I watched TV with Charlie after dinner, for something to do. There wasn't

anything on I wanted to watch, but he knew I didn't like baseball, so he

turned it to some mindless sitcom that neither of us enjoyed. He seemed

happy, though, to be doing something together. And it felt good, despite

my depression, to make him happy.

"Dad," I said during a commercial, "Jessica and Angela are going Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница to look

at dresses for the dance tomorrow night in Port Angeles, and they wanted

me to help them choose… do you mind if I go with them?"

"Jessica Stanley?" he asked.

"And Angela Weber." I sighed as I gave him the details.

He was confused. "But you're not going to the dance, right?"

"No, Dad, but I'm helping them find dresses — you know, giving them

constructive criticism." I wouldn't have to explain this to a woman.

"Well, okay." He seemed to realize that he was out of his depth with the

girlie stuff. "It's a school night, though Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 8 страница."

"We'll leave right after school, so we can get back early. You'll be okay

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