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Edward's Eclipse

Summary:
For True Edward Fans. An in-depth, accurate portrayal of the heart,
mind, and soul of the beloved Edward Cullen as he deals with the complex
themes and events taking place during Eclipse. Canon. Rated T for intimacy. Eddie's and Bellie's Twilight Fiction Award winner for "Canon that's better than Canon", TwiFic Indie Award Nominee for "Best Indie Story by and Established Author We Know and Love".


Notes:
Eclipse: Edward's Story I do not own Twilight, nor do I own any of Twilight's characters. All characters and themes referenced in Eclipse: Edward's Story belong to Stephenie Meyer. Any quotations from Eclipse are purely for reference and are in no way an attempt at any copyright infringement. For me, Edward Cullen is one of the most fascinating fictional characters in postmodern literature. In my imagination, Edward's existence is a constant existential crisis. The elements of conflict, duality, and desperation embodied by his character are all so fascinating. I hope I've done him justice. Feedback is appreciated. I love critics. Enjoy.


3. Theme from Chapter 21 - Trails

Rating 5/5   Word Count 5248   Review this Chapter

I wasn’t strong enough and although this realization unnerved me, it was the truth. The brutal truth. The little encampment felt to small for my troubles. I was suffocating in my own troubled whirlwind of feelings, anxieties, and strange sensations I couldn't name, identify or overcome. My clenched fists expanded and contracted of their own volition.

The strong emotions were too much with me. The strength of the warring compulsions permeated my every thought, nagging me relentlessly, piercing through my rational mind. My head buzzed uncontrollably, jumping from one point of focus to another. It seemed the more that I resisted, the worse it became. Memories, images, thoughts, words, feelings came and went as they pleased. The intensity was beyond distracting.

And, the matter was clear. I didn’t have enough discipline to control these feelings. Perhaps a vampire could only handle so many human emotions, so much anxiety, so much feeling? Had I reached my limit? Yes, perhaps that was it...I've finally reached my maximum level of anxiety. No. That wasn't true. I was going to keep my head clear and my composure intact.

I was not just anxious. It was worse, much worse. The emotions I was trying to ignore weren't just strong, they had a life of their own; bubbling to the surface like some vile plague. They were ugly. Resent…and…jealousy, the twin harbingers of my relentless self-hatred and insecurity. But...despite my feelings, there were other masters at work here. It was instinct that pushed me to rebel. Instinct and the biological need to fight for survival. And, without Bella survival was...impossible.

Jacob Black was a threat to me, to her, to our future together. Every fabric of my being screamed to resist her urges to trust him. Everything I knew and felt eschewed the very idea of placing her in his care, even if it was necessary, even if she was safe, even if he was careful. Nothing was stronger than my instinct to reclaim her from his hold as he’d strode away with her in the clearing, smug and self-assured. It had taken every bit of my control to maintain my careful departure. And, as I'd walked away and even now...the image of the look on his face was a relentless idée fixe.

It was then that I’d understood him. Brave Jacob Black was on a sincere mission. And, there was nothing I could do to stop him. To confront him would be the worst possible course of action. To challenge him was just as terrible. Only one would walk away. And, Bella would never forgive me. Besides, countless reasons demanded that is life be spared. Most important amongst those was the fact that I needed his help and so did she.

Nevertheless, my instincts were right. Beating them back with careful rationalization and cleverly constructed morality was no easy task. In fact, it was nearly impossible. He was planning to talk to Bella about his feelings for her. And, it was probably happening now as I descended into madness, pacing in a camp. I felt desperation and rage equally. Because, deep down, Jacob Black was convinced that she loved him. And, a tiny part of me suspected that he might be right.

The vindictive, spiteful side of me was pleased beyond measure with the very fact that I possessed this knowledge to begin with. I smiled at the thought that he was wholly unaware that I’d caught the thought from the back of his mind as he had consciously attempted to push it away, almost as if he were protecting it. He was becoming quite adept at attempting to control his thoughts; perhaps practicing with the pack had taught him some aspect of control. Yet, he did not slide by me. His attempt was unsuccessful.

What I couldn't understand was why his thought had surprised me. I should have expected his arrogance, his tenacity, his dedication to winning her, stealing her. Honestly, in the course of all of our interactions, he’d made no effort to hide it from either of us, behaving in a most juvenile manner. Had I deceived myself that completely by thinking he was ready to let go of her? I wasn't sure. And, once I'd let both the possibility of my own gross self-deception combined with my uncertainty with the situation truly sink in, I'd nearly driven myself mad. I'd set up the entire camp in a fraction of the time it should have taken me, leaving me with nothing but trivial distractions. Fool.

A thousand possibilities ran through my mind as I searched for clues, hints that I'd previously missed. I'd underestimated his audacity, but I'd not been completely unsuspecting. I'd always been wary of him, and, if I was honest with myself, their relationship. I’d told myself he was dangerous because of the threat to her safety that a young, inexperienced, savage werewolf presented. Now that the pretenses were fading, wariness morphed into fear. Perhaps it was fear all along. I sighed, frustrated with myself. My own inability to focus on controlling my thoughts, my anxiety, and my envy was…unbearable. Was I teetering on the edge of my self-control? Yes, that was it.

And, Bella. Her reaction, her desire, her inclination to him was deplorable. I shuddred with despair. I could not ignore it. She felt the draw. It was on her face, in her body language, in her smile. It was as if they were drawn to one another. Was there more there to her inability to stay away from him? Was he the reason, the true reason, she’d given me back my mother’s ring? I’d hidden my dejection, but surely she must have considered that I would question her motive?

A complex concoction of emotions sprang forth, just as strong as before. I'd hoped with each surge that the complexity, the potent blend of feeling would lessen, or decrease in intensity. I was very wrong. It was worse, despite that I managed to anticipate the intensity. Of course, it didn’t help that a part of me knew my anger was justified. Even a human would be angry! The entire situation was offensive. Who would be satisfied to wait, stationary, and helpless while their romantic rival gallivanted up a mountainside with their love in his arms, plotting to persuade her of their destiny together? It wasn't just me.

There were so many questions, questions that threatened to pull me lose with uncertainty. What would Jacob say to her? Was there something between them that I had missed before? I wondered what she would say to him. A strong western wind broke me from my morbid machinations. The storm Alice had warned us about was rapidly approaching. The temperature of the gust was several degrees cooler than the current temperature. Thankfully, I was well-prepared.

Ah. Preparation, the best method of ensuring success. That felt good, but I was in no mood to focus on the positive. To even allow my hopes and consolations of my sane mind into the same sphere with my despair was unwise. It was as if they would become tainted by my hopelessness. I was functioning in a constant state of separate duality.

And, if I had any hope of being reconciled with myself, I wanted to just sort these emotions out. Analyzing them was the only way to free myself. Besides, what could I truly do in this instance to control any of this besides attempt to restore my sanity? The future was uncertain. I could not control Bella’s heart.

And, what did Bella's heart want? Was that not the central question? I was selfish, but ultimately I wanted nothing but happiness for her. It was an incontrovertible truth that Bella possessed deep feelings for Jacob Black, deep feelings that were ardently reciprocated. Her whispers in her sleep, her tender caresses of his vile fur, her secret phone calls she hoped I didn't hear, her outrage at his betrayal, which had only belied deeper feelings, and her smile. It was similar to the smile she gave me, almost more comfortable, actually…

Ugh. The concoction swirled again, and I was able to identify, in a brief fraction of a second the distinct feeling that was just lying on the surface; miserable agony.

You need a distraction! Pacing was driving me mad, but I could not stop. Running would be ideal, but it would not help me now. Use your mind!

Rationalizing through this situation logically, controlling these emotions with diligence, and focusing on the circumstances with a cool head were the only methods available. At least I had some options. I did not have to give in to this. I could face these feelings of anxiety and insecurity now with the same severity I had faced them in the past.

Moreover, I’d certainly reached the limits of my frustration with Jacob Black before, under much more extreme circumstances than this, and I had succeeded in mastering my emotions then. In comparison, this situation was nothing! I was stronger than these petty emotions, regardless of how involuntary they were. I could not falter now.

I paced. A barking laugh escaped me. It was the laugh of a madman. I could not even control my laughing...or my pacing, an action that is essentially voluntary. I could not remember when the pacing had started. My feet had begun to floating across the little encampment before I'd even registered that they were moving. Had my conscious attempts to control my wild, impulsive emotions actually forced my body to create a release in the form of pacing? The pacing felt good. Perhaps the pacing was a natural compulsion, the physical manifestation of stress...I nodded my head to myself in agreement. Yes, that was it.

You are driving yourself mad…

Scowling with severity, I turned as I stopped pacing, standing still perhaps for the first time since entering the encampment. I noticed the cool temperature emanating from the rock behind me. It looked soothing. The cool wall was firm, reliable. I leaned against it, appreciating its immovable existence. It was comforting to know it could never leave this place. It was an infallible, solid structure…

I was going mad. It was indubitably the case now.

I took another long breath, closing my eyes again. Focusing on the strong points of the situation was essential. There was no need to taint any of the positive with the negative unless I drew them in together. I would focus. Beside, numerating the positive attributes might deal a blow to my anxiety. It was a good plan.

I began ticking off my reasons with my right hand before I stopped. I looked around the encampment, thankful that I was alone. I needed to be myself, and right now that included muttering, laughing, pacing, and counting my carefully catalogued reasons for sanity.

One, the dog only had to travel nine miles and they were not late, and if he showed up now, this early, it would mean he was being reckless.

Secondly, the nine miles he was to travel could be easily covered, although, he was probably taking advantage of every solitary moment with her, relishing the feel of her soft, warm form snuggled next to him.

Nevertheless! He was still doing his job according to the plan. Next…

Third, the newborns could be defeated easily, that was certain. Alice had seen that her scent would lead the newborns to their slaughter, and thanks to Jacob’s plan, his scent would lead them, and Victoria, away from Bella, allowing her to remain with me.

Fourth…well, perhaps it was more than four, but...his help had been essential to his infallible plan, she was alive today because of him, and it was only proper to be grateful for everything he had done and continued to do.

Fifth, and most importantly, Bella had agreed to be my wife. Of course, she was not wearing my ring, but she would.

Alice had seen that too.

I felt reassured. Why had I resisted this method? Idiot. Ungrateful cad. I had plenty to be thankful for. I did not need to let these insecurities push me deeper into my own personal, customized hell of anguished mental wrangling. My jaw was clenched, although I hadn’t noticed that before. Relax...no more clenching of any kind...I took another breath and held it, letting it swell my lungs to their maximum potential. When you release this air, you would stop this torturous nonsense...

I exhaled and it helped a little. Very, very little...

Another swirl of icy wind hit my face. I closed my eyes to embrace the chill. It was delightfully refreshing. I felt stronger, clearer. Positive, yes, positive. The stress washed a way a little. I had to get it together before they arrived and the only way to do this was to force myself to focus on the positive elements of the situation. I ignored the image of Bella wrapped into Jacob Black's arms completely. Resistance was crucial.

So, what was the second worst part of this situation? Truly, the only disaster Alice had foreseen was now rendered obsolete by my decision to remain with Bella. The image from Alice’s mind of Bella, her hair wild, eyes wide with fear, attempting to sacrifice herself for the cause of winning a war that was already being won flashed forcefully before my eyes. I shook my head and pinched the bridge of my nose, trying to push it away. Could you have revived a worse image at this moment?

In a fraction of a second, the image became an almost insurmountable distraction. Before I could push it away it lingered. It was no use fighting, so I tried to focus a little on some of the details, looking for something I might have previously missed. I found nothing. I was completely uncertain as to what circumstances would have inspired her to take such a rash action. This fact only increased my unease. Trading the fun of killing newborns was a worthy exchange. Bella was unpredictable.

I felt a surge of frustration with her. She was brave, but unflinchingly reckless. Did she truly believe I would let her put herself in danger? Actually…yes, she did, and frequently counted on it. She was engaged to a vampire. We were both reckless.

I chuckled at Bella, at myself at Alice. The dark sky framed the sky and it made me feel ridiculous. I felt darkly ridiculous. A few more of Alice's images flew into my mind: the newborns, Jasper flying forward destroying two at a time, Bella here with me safely at the camp. It was true that Alice’s gift, and mine for that matter, were frequently either disruptive curses or blessings. There was rarely an in between, well, at least not for Alice. In her visions, as choices were made, new visions appeared, but previous insights were sometimes still relevant. So, somehow, someway, at some point, Bella could still end up in the clearing, which is one reason that I had chosen to stay behind. In bringing her to this place, it would be incredibly difficult for her to reach the clearing on her own. She would never escape from the clearing, from me.

I smiled to myself as I imagined her trying. That would be entertaining. Edward 1, Bella 0.

Perhaps I was not giving myself enough credit. Last night, for instance, I'd seen the joy in her eyes. Although, very well hidden, there was joy there. Maybe it was more than joy? I recalled the image of Bella standing before me. I focused on the emotion in her eyes as she watched me drop onto one knee, requesting her hand in marriage. Wide-eyed and expectant, she’d even gasped a little at the gesture. She'd said yes to me. Despite her attempts to appear nonchalant, it had moved her. I had moved her. The memory was so strong. Relief arrived in a startling rush. I glanced around conspiratorially for Jasper, but scoffed at my own idiocy.

I felt another smile creep its way onto my face. These are the memories I should be focusing on. Memories of Bella. Bella Swan was going to be my wife. I couldn't say that enough to myself. In the confines of my wildest imagination, I had truly hoped this would be the joy we'd have with one another. I was going to get my chance to earn her trust, her love, her loyalty…Moreover, now that she’d agreed to marry me, I had a duty to love her, to protect her. I nodded my head at my affirmation. I felt the irony and flinched. I imagined Bella snuggled in Jacob’s tight embrace, trailing together up the mountain.

A sigh escaped. I was annoying myself. More ridiculous by the minute...

It would be at least another half hour before they approached and when they did, did I truly want her to see my hateful brooding?

I looked around wondering which direction they would approach. I would probably not smell them as they approached; the western wind was strong and it blew a furious array of scents in my direction. The wind was heavy and wet with moisture. The previously heavy clouds gaining more blackness, this storm would probably be severe.

I took another long look around for them and saw nothing. Perhaps I was a fool for not focusing on my location more. The scenery was incredibly beautiful and it was clear to see that under different circumstances this location would have been an ideal place for a weekend retreat, a time for us to be alone. I closed my eyes again and allowed Bella to fill my thoughts.

Imagination Bella rose from our tent on a cool, beautiful morning, groggy and disoriented from a night of restful sleep. The shine of her hair cast rays of light from the top of her head down her back. Imagination Bella’s hair was a total, complete disaster. An irresistible, glorious, and chaotic mess. I smiled lightly to myself thinking of the time we might have to spend together once this battle was over, once the wedding was over. Once Jacob was over. Jacob…

...

Suddenly, I heard the low hum of his thoughts, his steady, deep breathing, and the heavy pace of his foot; he was running. My eyes shot open. No! He was sprinting up the mountainside. I removed myself from my fixed position to resume my pacing. Damnit, Jacob. Why would he sprint recklessly with her in his arms? She could fall so easily...

Anxiety again ripped through me again. I paced furiously. Could he be so desperate to impress her? She would be frightened, naturally! Running with me was one thing, running with him, and his unstable, albeit altered humanity was another...

Gradually, the low hum became clearer. A gust of wet, cold wind blew violently. Our tent rumbled in response. I could suddenly smell his overpowering, vile scent. I took a deep breath, not to savor his scent, but to allow my finite senses to dissect the particles for traces of hers.

Ah...it hit me in a small rush. I was fairly desensitized now. The scent of her blood was nothing compared to the scent of her. I did not delude myself into thinking I beat it entirely, but it was much easier than I'd ever imagined it would be. I waited for the predictable pool of excess venom to gather and then quickly swallowed twice. Victory. Easy victory.

...If I…leech…don’t even look… thinking of her…just stupid…idiot, bloodsucker…why would he…would have her believe…Jacob thought.

I could not see images, but I could gather his thoughts in spurts, much like a radio not yet in its proper tune. His voice had become much clearer to me in these last few months. I could hear him farther way now, which was not necessarily a positive development. He thought of her constantly. His thoughts ranged from intimate sexual images to tender moments of reminiscence. I tried to focus in an effort to detect any hints as to the nature of their conversation. I silently hoped he'd lost his nerve.

I was still pacing. I wrangled my hands and continued to breathe. I comforted myself with the knowledge that they were closer now. Once she was with me, I would feel complete again and I could relax in the knowledge that she was safe from the battle, from herself, from Victoria, from Jacob…with me.

We’re almost there and he should be prepared by now. This storm won’t pass lightly. I will have to transition. I’ve done most of the freaking hard work around here and haven’t gotten much thanks for it. At least she'll be safe, though...maybe I can think of a way that Bella can thank me...Get…

I blocked him. I didn’t want to hear anything further. His thoughts betrayed nothing to indicate anything other than his current concerns. No rejection, no anxiety, no despair...

I cast a quick glance around the small clearing as a final check. I knew she would be here soon. Anxiety gave way to anticipation. A strong, swift gust of wind blew from the northwest bringing with it the first flurries of snow. I felt the temperature drop a fraction of a degree. She would need to be here...soon.

It was then that I smelled them again; they were very close. His thoughts were peaceful, resigned and concentrated on the task at hand. Thank you, Jacob.

I resumed my pacing. With nothing else to do, I began to stare at the storm. The clouds were swollen and purple, pregnant with weather. I was briefly dumstruck by the incredibly beauty of the storm as it approached. It was the way the light seemed to retreat into the sky, the clouds taking their intended position. Perhaps it was even symbolic, I mused.

Another gust of wind rushed by my face and I noticed the temperature was even cooler. Light snow was attached to the heavy wind. Quickly, another gust of wind rocked around the tent. I immediately took an inventory of the tent. It was sturdy. We would be just fine.

Hmph. Do bloodsuckers bleed…this snow might cast a nice backdrop…Hey, leech! I know you can hear me. We’re close now…Jacob thought.

I saw them then as they approached quickly.

“Bella!” I cried, the worry and strain evident in my voice.

Her face was tucked in Jacob’s chest. As she heard my voice, her head shifted towards the sound. I caught glimpse of a magnificent pink cheek as she shivered from the wind that whirled around her exposed face. Then, all I could see was her small, delicate frame cradled in his arms. I was jealous. I immediately scanned his thoughts, but they were quiet, worried. He was walking too slowly. I tried to be patient, but I could not fight the urge to be near her any longer. I ran to her in a flash. He cringed physically at my speed and scent.

...Ugh...the way you move is beyond unnatural...just watch it, leech…we wouldn’t want any mistakes…

I blocked him. His sentiment was understandable. He didn’t trust me and I didn’t trust him. Bella looked up at me, visibly shaken by the cold and the wind. Blustery and windswept, her cheeks glowed, but it wasn’t the time to marvel at her color. Swiftly, another cold gust passed us and I moved to block her from its blast. She shivered again. I hugged her tightly and closed my eyes for a second, saying a silent prayer to whomever might be listening, thanking someone that she was safe and here with me. Jacob stepped forward smelling the wind.

Drained by my anxiety, my worries, my fears, my torturous thoughts, I suddenly felt beyond grateful. Grateful that she was here, grateful that he must have lost his nerve, grateful she was safe, because of him.

...this storm is going to be nasty...I wonder if…

“Jacob…” I interrupted him.

He turned, meeting my eyes with valid suspicion, but said nothing.

I attempted to hold his eyes, but it made him uncomfortable. His hatred for me went too deep, distrust ingrained into his otherwise open heart. He looked away, back to the sky. His thoughts cleared and I made my best effort to convey the depths of my gratitude.

“Thank you, this was quicker than I expected and I truly appreciate it.”

Despite my intense anxiety for the last half hour, I'd meant every word.

...yeah, yeah…I didn’t do it for you…but, you’re welcome…

Bella turned to him from my side and he shrugged down at her, leaving a half grin on his face. Had something just passed between them? She immediately tucked her head back into my jacket and shivered again. That was odd. I probed his thoughts. I found nothing but concern.

“Get her inside. This is going to be bad – my hair is standing up on my scalp. Is that tent secure?” he asked, not looking anywhere but into the sky.

“I all but welded it to the rock.” I answered.

It was secure, but I had not considered the drastic temperature change. Bella began to shiver again.

“Good,” he mumbled.

I placed my hand on the small of Bella’s back to guide her into the tent. I'd just wanted to touch her, keep her near me. I looked back ag Jacob as he stood at the edge of the encampment. Something was off with him. Was he hiding something? Bella's shiver broke caught my attention. I pushed her forward gently, trying to hurry her human pace just a little.

As we unzipped the entrance, I was thankful that the tent was warmer inside. Of course, as soon as I considered the warmth, the air pressure changed in a swift decline. The temperature dropped another half of a degree.

...I’m changing now...I need to hear the pack...I will be back…Jacob thought.

Take your time. I turned to Bella to keep her informed and as I caught her gaze, I noticed the coloring of her face was no longer a delightful pink. Her cheeks, nose and delicate lips were bright red. I leaned down to touch her face and she shivered at my touch. In the strange glow of the tent, I caught the contrasting color of my white hands against her red skin. If I could have shivered, I would have. As if she sensed something was off with me, she looked away, observing the tent. I couldn’t look away from her though. What was she thinking?

“Jacob is changing now, Bella.” I whispered to her, imploring her with my eyes to meet my gaze.

She looked back at me, frowning. I thought I detected fear in her eyes, fear for Jacob. She looked away again.

“Thanks,” she said. “This is really nice, Edward. Thank you.”

“I fear it will not be enough though, Bella. The temperature is dropping. You will need to get into the sleeping bag.”

This time I averted her gaze, using the search for the sleeping bag as an excuse. Why did she frown? Had they had an exchange I didn't detect? Was he more disciplined with his thoughts than I had originally thought? Had I underestimated him? I carefully reassessed every detail I could remember from our reunion to detect something in their body language. Something was off with Jacob. I felt as if I was missing something.

I approached her with the down sleeping, holding it up to her as if she should be trying it on for size. She grinned at me and a chill ran through her body, again.

“Who’s sleeping bag is this?” she asked, curious. Her little mouth curved slightly in wonder.

“It’s yours, now. We’ve had it for a few years and, naturally, you’re the first to use it,” I added with a grin, “but, do be careful. I have the sinking suspicion that this…” I grabbed a patch of the bag between my fingers and shook it, “will not improve your already dreadful sense of balance.”

I shook the corners of the sleeping bag in an attempt to make it more alluring.

“Oh, hush…” she scolded, feigning insult.

She knew it was true.

I held it steady for her as she took two unsteady steps in. I zipped her in and she giggled. The bag was nearly as long as she was tall; the top swallowed her chin. I was instantly thankful for Alice’s insight, what would I do without her? Perhaps her gift wasn’t too much of a curse…

I couldn’t help but be distracted by Bella as she started to try to wiggle as much as possible to get warm, hopping in small steps. She completed a circle. I chuckled at her.

She scowled at me, but she did not intimidate me. She was radiant.

“Don’t laugh at me, Edward!” she said, her tone clear with false authority, “this is standard operating procedure…”

I tilted my head back towards her with implication, raising one brow.

“Oh yes. You are quite the survival expert. Vampire fiancé’s and werewolf friends…”

As I spoke the word fiancé, I felt a little thrill. It was petty, but it was my appropriate title for now. A variation on a theme.

She glowered from the bag at the use of the word. She was beyond adorable. I smiled widely back at her, attempting to dazzle her. In that moment, as I watched her hop, I marveled at her ability to alter and affect my frequently shifting moods. My morning was torn into agonized pieces, but with her here with me, I felt whole and complete. I felt...happy.

Edward 1, Bella 1...it was a tie...

I chuckled at her again.

She rolled her eyes, turning away from me to resume her hopping. After completing a few successful hops, she turned her head to smirk at me, raising her brow. She was impressed by her own balance. Her teeth chattered in a spurt of quick, sharp noises. I gave her a look of concern. She stuck her tongue out at me. She was enjoying herself. She took two more careful hops towards the makeshift bed I’d set up for her.

She tried to lower herself to lie down on the bed and almost fell sideways. I rolled my eyes. I caught her swiftly and lowered her down on the impromptu bed.

"Bella...seriously..."

"What?" she smiled. "That was pretty good, admit it, Edward!"

I couldn't help but laugh. Her eyes were glowing with an almost childish light in them. I shamelessly admired her. She was completely enveloped in the tunnel of the sleeping bag. I smiled at her, only half-heartedly. She'd never looked more beautiful. She'd never looked so fragile. She let out a breath, resigning to her new, less dangerous position. Instantly, her scent swirled around me. I barely noticed the venom. I barely noticed the burn.

Just then, the loud moan from the forceful wind shook the tent with unprecedented ferocity. She looked back at me with wide eyes. And then, almost in immediate response, the temperature took a steady dip. I looked down at her delicate frame and for the first time felt a little fearful that the storm may be too much for her, perhaps we acted in haste coming this high up, this quickly? Would a lower elevation have been more appropriate for her?

The wind whistled. I broke from her gaze and listened to the force of the wind. There was a change, although it was slight. It would be below forty degrees soon.

“We’ll be okay, Edward…” she said, sensing my concern.

In an effort to look courageous, she beamed at me, thinking thoughts I would never hear.

The wind then blew the most elaborate gust yet, shaking the tent and rattling our provisions in the corner. The temperature dropped again. This time the noise startled her. Her brittle body moved as another uncontrollable shiver shook her.