Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 73)
“What are you thinking?” she asked impatiently after a few minutes.
I lied again. “Just wondering where we’re going.”
“It’s a place I like to go when the weather is nice.” We both glanced out the windows at the thinning clouds.
“Charlie said it would be warm today.”
“And did you tell Charlie what you were up to?” she asked.
“But you probably said something to Jeremy about me driving you to Seattle,” she said thoughtfully.
“No, I didn’t.”
“No one knows you’re with me?” Angrily, now.
“That depends.… I assume you told Archie?”
“That’s very helpful, Beau,” she snapped.
I pretended I didn’t hear that.
“Is it the weather? Seasonal affective disorder? Has Forks made you so depressed you’re actually suicidal?”
“You said it might cause problems for you… us being together publicly,” I explained.
“So you’re worried about the trouble it might cause me—if you don’t come home?” Her voice was a mix of ice and acid.
I nodded, keeping my eyes on the road.
She muttered something under her breath, the words flowing so quickly that I couldn’t understand them.
It was silent for the rest of the drive. I could feel the waves of fury and disapproval rolling off her, and I couldn’t think of the right way to apologize when I wasn’t sorry.
The road ended at a small wooden marker. I could see the thin foot trail stretching away into the forest. I parked on the narrow shoulder and stepped out, not sure what to do because she was angry and I didn’t have driving as an excuse not to look at her anymore.
It was warm now, warmer than it had been in Forks since the day I’d arrived, almost muggy under the thin clouds. I yanked off my sweater and tossed it into the cab, glad I’d worn the t-shirt—especially with five miles of hiking ahead of me.
I heard her door slam, and looked over to see that she’d removed her sweater, too, and twisted her hair into another messy bun. All she had on was a thin tank top. She was facing away from me, staring into the forest, and I could see the delicate shapes of her shoulder blades almost like furled wings under her pale skin. Her arms were so thin; it was hard to believe they contained the strength that I knew was in them.
“This way,” she said, glancing over her shoulder at me, still annoyed. She started walking into the dark forest directly to the east of the truck.
“The trail?” I asked, trying to hide the panic in my voice as I hurried around the front of the truck to catch up to her.
“I said there was a trail at the end of the road, not that we were taking it.”
“No trail? Really?”
“I won’t let you get lost.”
She turned then, with a mocking half-smile, and I couldn’t breathe.
I’d never seen so much of her skin. Her pale arms, her slim shoulders, the fragile-looking twigs of her collarbones, the vulnerable hollows above them, the swanlike column of her neck, the gentle swell of her breasts—don’t stare, don’t stare—and the ribs I could nearly count under the thin cotton. She was too perfect, I realized with a crushing wave of despair. There was no way this goddess could ever belong with me.
She stared at me, shocked by my tortured expression.
“Do you want to go home?” she asked quietly, a different pain than mine saturating her voice.
I walked forward till I was close beside her, anxious not to waste one second of the obviously numbered hours I had with her.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, her voice still soft.
“I’m not a fast hiker,” I answered dully. “You’ll have to be very patient.”
“I can be patient—if I make a great effort.” She smiled, holding my gaze, trying to pull me out of my suddenly glum mood.
I tried to smile back, but I could feel that the smile was less than convincing. She searched my face.
“I’ll take you home,” she promised, but I couldn’t tell if the promise was unconditional, or restricted to an immediate departure. Obviously, she thought it was fear of my impending demise that had upset me, and I was glad that I was the one person whose mind she couldn’t hear.
“If you want me to hack five miles through the jungle before sundown, you’d better start leading the way,” I said bitterly. Her eyebrows pulled down as she tried to understand my tone and expression.
She gave up after a moment and led the way into the forest.
It wasn’t as hard as I’d been afraid it would be. The way was mostly flat, and she seemed content to go at my pace. Twice I tripped over roots, but each time her hand shot out and steadied my elbow before I could fall. When she touched me, my heart thudded and stuttered like usual. I saw her expression the second time that happened, and I was suddenly sure she could hear it.
I tried to keep from looking at her; every time I did, her beauty filled me with the same sadness. Mostly we walked in silence. Occasionally, she would ask a random question that she hadn’t gotten to in the last two days of interrogation. She asked about birthdays, grade school teachers, childhood pets—and I had to admit that after killing three fish in a row, I’d given up on the practice. She laughed at that, louder than usual, the bell-like echoes bouncing back to me from the trees.
The hike took me most of the morning, but she never seemed impatient. The forest spread out around us in a labyrinth of identical trees, and I started to get nervous that we wouldn’t be able to find our way out again. She was perfectly at ease in the green maze, never showing any doubt about our direction.