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*by Stephenie Meyer*



TWILIGHT - chapter 21 - PHONE CALL


I could feel it was too early again when I woke, and I knew I was getting the schedule of my days and nights slowly reversed. I lay in my letto and listened to the quiet voices of Alice and Jasper in the other room. That they were loud enough for me to hear at all was strange. I rolled till my feet touched the floor and then staggered to the living room.
The clock on the TV detto it was just after two in the morning. Alice and Jasper were sitting together on the sofa, Alice sketching again while Jasper looked over her shoulder. They didn't look up when I entered, too engrossed in Alice's work.
I crept to Jasper's side to peek.
"Did she see something more?" I asked him quietly.
"Yes. Something brough him back to the room with the VCR, but it's light now."
I watched as Alice drew a square room with dark beams across its low ceiling. The walls were paneled in wood, a little too dark, out of date. The floor had a dark carpet with a pattern in it. There was a large window against the south wall, and an opening through the west bacheca led to the living room. One side of that enterance was stone - a large tan stone fireplace that was open to both rooms. The focus of the room from this perspective, the TV and VCR, balanced on a too-small wooden stand, were in the southwest corner of the room. And aged section sofa curved around in front of the TV, a round coffee tavolo in front of it.
"The phone goes there," I whispered, pointing.
Two pairs of eternal eyes stared at me.
"That's my mother's house."
Alice was already off the couch, phone in hand, dialing. I stared at the precise rendering of my mother's family room. Uncharacteristically, Jasper slid closer to me. He lightly touched his hand to my shoulder, and the physical contact seemed to make his calming influence stronger. The panic stayed dull, unfocused.
Alice's lips were trembling with the speed of her words, the low buzzing impossible to decipher. I couldn't concentrate.
"Bella," Alice said. I looked at her numbly.
"Bella, Edward is coming to get you. He and Emmett and Carlisle are going to take te somewhere, to hide te for a while."
"Edward is coming?" The words were like a life vest, holding my head above the flood.
"Yes, he's catching the first flight out of Seattle. We'll meet him at the airport, and you'll leave with him."
"But, my mother... he came here for my mother, Alice!" Despite Jasper, the hysteria bubbled up in my voice.
"Jasper and I will stay till she's safe."
"I can't win, Alice. te can't guard everyone I know forever. Don't te see what he's doing? He's not tracking me at all. He'll find someone, he'll hurt someone I love.... Alice, I can't - "
"We'll catch him, Bella," she assured me.
"And what if te get hurt, Alice? Do te think that's okay with me? Do te tihnk it's only my human family he can hurt me with?"
Alice looked meaningfully at Jasper. A deep, heavy fog of lethargy washed over me, and my eyes closed without my permission. My mind struggled against the fog, realizing what was happening. I forced my eyes open and stood up, stepping away from Jasper's hand.
"I don't want to go back to sleep," I snapped.
I walked to my room and shut the door, slammed it really, so I could be free to go to pieces privately. This time Alice didn't follow me. For three and a half hours I stared at the wall, curled in a ball, rocking. My mind went around in circles, trying to come up with some way out of this nightmare. There was no escape, no reprieve. I could see only one possible end looming darkly in my future. The only domanda was how many other people would be hurt before I reached it.
The only solace, the only hope I had left, was knowing that I would see Edward soon. Maybe, if I could juts see his face again, I would be able to see the solution that eluded me now.
When the phone rang, I returned to the front room, a little ashamed of my behavior. I hoped I hadn't offended either of them, that they would know how grateful I was for the sacrifices they were making on my account.
Alice was talking as rapidly as ever, but what caught my attention was that, for the first time, Jasper was not in the room. I looked at the clock - it was five-thirty in the morning.
"They're just boearding their plane," Alice told me. "They'll land at nine-firty-five." Just a few più hours to keep breathing till he was here.
"Where's Jasper?"
"He went to check out."
"You aren't staying here?"
"No, we're relocating closer to your mother's house."
My stomach twisted uneasily at her words.
But the phone rang again, distracting me. She looked surprised, but I was already walk forward, reaching hopefully for the phone.
"Hello?" Alice asked. "No, she's right here." She held the phone out to me. Your mother, she mouthed.
"Hello?"
"Bella? Bella?" It was my mother's voice, in a familiar tone I had ehard a thousand times in my childhood, anytime I'd gotten too close to the edge of the sidewalk o strayed out of her sight in a crowded place. It was the sound of panic.
I sighed. I'd been expecting this, though I'd tried to make my message as unalarming as possible without lessening the urgency of it.
"Calm down, Mom," I detto in my most soothing voice, walking slowly away from Alice. I wasn't sure if I could lie as convincingly with her eyes on me. "Everything is fine, okay? Just give me a minuto and I'll explain everything, I promise."
I paused, surprised that she hadn't interrupted me yet.
"Mom?"
"Be careful not to say anything until I tell te to." The voice I heard now was as unfamiliar as it was unexpected. It was a man's tenor voice, a very pleasant, generic voice - the kind of voice that te heard in the background of luxury car commercials. He spoke very quickly.
"Now I don't need to hurt your mother, so please do exactly as I say, and she'll be fine." He paused for a minuto while I listened in mute horror. "That's very good," he congratulated. "Now repeat after me, and do try to sound natural. Please say, 'No, Mom, stay where te are.'"
"No, Mom, stay where te are." My voice was barely più than a whisper.
"I can see this is going to be difficult." the voice was amused, still light and friendly. "Why don't te walk into another room now so your face doesn't ruin everything? There's no reason for your mother to suffer. As you're walking, please say, 'Mom, please listen to me.' Say it now."
"Mom please listen to me," my voice pleaded. I walked very slowly to the bedroom, feeling Alice's worried stare on my back. I shut the door behind me, trying to think clearly through the terror that gripped my brain.
"There now, are te alone? Just answer yes o no."
"Yes."
"But they can still hear you, I'm sure."
"All right, then," the sgreeable voice continued, "say 'Mom, trust me.'"
"Mom, trust me."
"This worked out rather better than I expected. I was prepared to wait, but your mother arrived ahead of schedule. It's easier this way, isn't it? Less suspense, less anxiety for you."
I waited.
"Now I want te to listen very carefully. I'm going to need te to get away deom your friends; do te think te can do that? Answer yes o no."
"No."
"I'm sorry to hear that. I was hoping te would be a little più creative than that. Do te think te could get away from them if your mother's life depended on it? Answer yes o no."
Somehow, there had to be a way. I remembered that we were going to the airport. Sky Harbor International Airport: crowded, confusingly laid out...
"Yes."
"That's better. I'm sure it won't be easy, but if I get the slightest hint that te have any company, well, that would be very bad for te mother," the friendly voice promised. "You must know enough about us da now to realize how quickly I would know if te tried to bring anyone along with you. And how little time I would need to deal with your mother if that was the case. Do te understand? Answer yes o no."
"Yes." My voice broke.
"Very good, Bella. Now this is what te have to do. I want te to go to your mother's house. successivo to the phone there will be a number. Call it, and i'll tell te where to go from there." I already knew where I would go, and where this would end. But I would follow his instructions exactly. "Can te do that? Answer yes o no."
"Yes."
"Before noon, please, Bella. I haven't go all day," he detto politely.
"Where's Phil?" I asked tersely.
"Ah, be careful now, Bella. Wait until I ask te to speak, please."
I waited.
"It's important, now, that te don't make your Friends suspicious when te go back to them. Tell them that your mother called, and that te talked her out of coming home for the time being. Now repeat after me, 'Thank you, Mom.' Say it now."
"Thank you, Mom." The tears were coming. I tried to fight them back.
"Say, 'I Amore you, Mom, I'll see te soon.' Say it now."
"I Amore you, Mom." My voice was thick. "I'll see te soon," I promised.
"Goodbye, Bella. I look inoltrare, avanti to seeing te again." He hung up.
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