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The Voice

Set during New Moon. Written from Edward's POV. What would happen if Edward found out Bella was in danger and he came back to Forks, but he didn't let her know he was there?


5. Chapter Five - Speed

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Disclaimer: As I may have mentioned previously, I did not create the plot or characters of Twilight and New Moon. Stephenie Meyer did, and I’m very grateful that she allows us to borrow them. No copyright infringement is intended.

Chapter Five – Speed

Sunday was a torture so exquisite that the Marquis de Sade could have devised it. Bella got into her truck and drove back to La Push, but almost before I had settled in to wait, she was driving out again. And this time she had company: Jacob Black.

Once I saw him, I realized that I had in fact met Jacob before. His father had sent him to the prom last year to warn Bella away from me. Jacob had no idea why, of course, but still the fact did nothing to make me like him better. He had changed a bit since I last saw him. He was several inches taller, and had lost much of his babyish look. He actually looked Bella’s age or a little older, even though he was two years her junior. This also did nothing to endear him to me. I knew I was being petty, but I had to admit I hated this kid.

The one good thing about Jacob traveling with Bella today was that I could glean from his thoughts where they were going, and I was able to beat them there several times. Even unobservant Bella would catch on sooner or later if the same vehicle were constantly behind her. They went to the dump and Jacob dug around for a while in the scrap pile, coming up with several pieces of greasy black metal. They went to auto repair shops and bought a few parts. She really was going to have him fix the motorcycles. I listened to Jacob’s mind, and I could only hope that he was not as good at fixing engines as he thought he was.

Finally they turned back toward Forks. As I listened to their easy banter reflected in Jacob’s thoughts, I was gripped again by fierce jealousy. Jacob was making her smile. Jacob was sitting next to her, enjoying her presence. Worse still, Jacob was constantly thinking about how much he liked Bella, how he would like to hold her hand, to kiss her. He was thanking his lucky stars that I had left and she had remembered him. As a growl rose in the back of my throat, a more rational part of my mind argued that this was what I had wanted. Jacob was a nice guy, funny and easygoing; he was good for Bella. I might even have liked him if I hadn’t had to listen to his every thought about how he wanted to take my place in Bella’s life.

It was almost a relief when they returned to the reserve and drove out of range of my gift. But as the hours ticked by, I began to wonder if reality could truly be any worse than the scenarios my mind was coming up with. It was after dark before Bella’s truck passed me, heading for Forks. She had Charlie with her this time; he must have arrived with someone else. I could not resist listening in on Charlie’s thoughts about the evening, but I regretted it. He was delighted, because Bella had had a wonderful time with Jake. He was hoping Jake would help her “get over that bastard.” I couldn’t blame Charlie for hating me. In his place, I would hate me too.

After the near-disaster of the previous night, I had resolved not to go anywhere near Bella’s window after dark again. I hunted; it was impossible to be too careful. But after that I spent a long and lonely night alone in my car, watching the persistent drizzle drench the world. Even the closed windows were not enough to isolate me from Bella’s screaming when her nightmares began.

* * *

The next week passed quickly, falling into a predictable routine. I followed Bella to school, then to work or to the outskirts of the reserve. I tried to ignore the increasing presence of Jacob Black, but it was difficult. He was with Bella almost constantly when she was not at school or work. And I had to admit, he was not the one who did the pursuing. Bella always sought him out.

On Sunday morning, however, Bella tore out of the house with more than her usual enthusiasm. As I had expected, she was going to La Push, but she and Jacob emerged shortly… with two shiny and apparently functional motorcycles in the back of the truck. It seemed that Jacob had an excellent understanding of his own skill with engines. Apprehension tensed my whole body, making me feel like there were ants crawling over every inch of my skin. This was not going to be pretty.

There was hardly anyone on the road today, making it difficult to stay inconspicuous. Fortunately I was once again able to track Jacob’s thoughts and stay out of sight. I followed the truck along little used side roads until they reached a road that I knew was a dead end. No doubt Bella wanted privacy for this particular outing. If anyone saw her on a motorcycle, they would report it to Charlie in an instant. Anyone, that is, who was not a teenage boy with a hopeless crush on her. Did Jacob Black really have no idea of how clumsy Bella was? I doubted she had the first idea what to do with a motorcycle. I would call Charlie myself if I could think of a way to alert him without giving myself away.

I hid my car and traveled on foot to where I knew they must have been going. There was a small clearing at the end of this road where they would have space to park the truck and unload the bikes. I approached carefully, in case they were actually paying attention, but I need not have bothered. I arrived just in time to see Bella throw her arms around Jacob’s waist and bury her face in his chest.

“Oh, Jake, it’ll be okay!” she declared, her voice somewhat muffled. “If it gets worse you can come live with me and Charlie. Don’t be scared, we’ll think of something!”

I did not know what Jacob was upset about. His mind had gone completely blank in shock when Bella hugged him, but instinct kicked in and he wrapped his arms around her. I had to physically hold onto the vegetation around me to remind myself not to jump on him and tear him apart.

“Thanks, Bella,” he mumbled. She’s touching me! She smells so good, I wonder if she would mind if I… he lifted his hand to Bella’s hair and stroked it gently

“If this is how you’re going to react, I’ll freak out more often,” he continued, laughing gently. I would do almost anything to get you to react like this again.

Just when I thought that I couldn’t stand it anymore, Bella pushed away from him, laughing.

“It’s hard to believe I’m two years older than you. You make me feel like a dwarf.” Her light banter broke the mood. I was delighted.

Jacob Black was definitely not delighted. But to his credit, he followed her lead and they continued teasing each other as Jacob got the motorcycles ready to go. The undergrowth was so dense here that I was no more than ten feet away from them, yet neither of them was aware of my presence.

Finally the bikes were ready. Bella straddled one of the motorcycles, and Jacob proceeded to give her a rundown on how the machine worked. She really had no idea. She was starting to realize that herself. I could see a nervous expression starting to grow on her face. Maybe she would give up this madness after all. The machine wobbled under her, and the look on her face went from nervousness to terror. I sighed when I recognized the determination that was there too. No one could be stubborn like Isabella Swan.

Jacob had finished his instruction and was starting the motorcycle. She was really going to go through with this. I contemplated calling an ambulance right now, so it would be here in time. I even checked my cell phone: no service. It figured.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Jacob was asking. “You look scared.”

Of course she’s scared, you idiot! She’s about to die! I wanted to scream at him. I was so tense that my nerves felt ready to break. I wanted to run to Bella, snatch her off the motorcycle, and whisk her away to where nothing could ever, ever hurt her.

Bella snapped, “I’m fine!” Jacob nodded and took a few steps back from the motorcycle.

“Now, very gently, ease up on the clutch. Just do it little by little.” Jacob was several steps away now. A part of my mind was detached enough to be impressed that Bella had managed to keep the grumbling red monster upright without help. The other parts all wanted to tell Bella exactly how moronic she was behaving.

I decided to chance it. “This is reckless and childish and idiotic, Bella.” I was careful to keep my voice low enough the boy wouldn’t hear.

Bella started, her hand falling off the clutch. Predictably, the bike jerked forward and crashed down on her. She wouldn’t be hurt, but it might teach her a lesson.

“I told you so,” I murmured at her.

Jacob rushed over and yanked the motorcycle off Bella. It was beginning to dawn on him exactly what he had gotten himself into. Man, she really has no clue how to do this. I thought she was just kidding. This might not be such a good idea after all. Charlie will never let me date her if I manage to land her in the ER.

Clearly he was hoping that Bella would give up on this nonsense, but both he and I were disappointed. As soon as she stopped shaking, Bella was back on the motorcycle, ready to try again. She seemed even more enthusiastic, if anything. She was grinning from ear to ear. I scanned the ground where she had fallen for any large rocks I might have missed. Maybe she hurt herself worse than I thought.

“Easy on the clutch,” Jacob reminded her, as he took a couple of steps away.

“Do you want to kill yourself, then? Is that what this is about?” I hissed the words at Bella.

Bella only smiled – smiled! Of all the foolish reactions!

“Go home to Charlie,” I ordered, trying to inject as much authority into my tone as possible. Bella, you promised. Nothing stupid.

“Ease off slowly,” the punk was coaching her at the same time.

“I will,” she replied. For a moment I didn’t know which one of us she was answering.

And then it didn’t matter as she was easing off the clutch and giving the engine some gas. I growled with frustration, more loudly than I should have. The motorcycle provided enough noise to cover my slip.

Suddenly Bella was breezing away down the road. I kept pace with her in the bushes, not worried about the noise I must be making. No one would hear it over the roar of the engine. If I only stayed out of sight, I would be fine. My stomach clenched as I saw the manic look on Bella’s face. She loved this. I felt as though my nerves were being shoved through a paper shredder as I watched, every second expecting her to fall.

I twisted through the thick underbrush, once again getting soaked for my efforts. Bella was doing surprisingly well. In fact, she was looking down as though trying to remember how to shift gears. She wanted more speed. It was then that I saw the curve in the road ahead. A wall of thick green vegetation was rapidly approaching, the graceful tree trunks suddenly appearing as menacing and deadly as a hungry mountain lion.

“No, Bella! Watch what you’re doing!” I told her.

She looked up, and her manic grin changed to horror in an instant as she realized what was about to happen.

“Brakes, brakes,” she mumbled under her breath. The first sensible thing she had said all day! She knew how to use brakes; I had heard the kid explaining to her earlier.

It all happened too fast for me to respond. Bella may have known how to use brakes, but in her panic she went for the wrong ones, plunging down the foot brake. The motorcycle started to fishtail, Bella yanked the handlebars the wrong way, and that was all it took for the shiny red deathtrap to launch into a wild spin, still moving straight toward the deadly trees. The motorcycle hit moss and started to slow down, finally bumping to a stop against a tree, with Bella pinned on her stomach beneath it.

I could smell blood, Bella’s blood, and my ever-present thirst roared to violent life. Snarls and growls of fear and frustration ripped from my throat. I couldn’t go near her like this. I stopped inhaling, to make it a little easier, and then I saw that help was already on the way. Jacob seemed to have seen the impending danger and was already roaring toward Bella on the other motorcycle. He stopped, threw his own motorcycle aside, and pulled the offending machine off Bella’s still form. Once the engines quieted, I could hear her heartbeat and breathing, but I couldn’t tell where she was bleeding.

For a moment she was frighteningly still. Then she rolled over onto her back, her face covered with mud and green bits of dirt, and gasped for air. She was bleeding profusely from a large cut on her forehead, but seemed otherwise unhurt.

“Wow,” she breathed. She sounded excited. Why did she never react the way a normal human should?

“Bella! Bella, are you alive?” Jacob Black was crouching next to her, panicked thoughts running through his mind.

“I’m great!” She exclaimed, flexing her limbs as though to verify her statement. “Let’s do it again.” Again? Oh, dear God, please no.

Jacob seemed to have at least enough sense to agree with me on this one. “I don’t think so. I think I’d better drive you to the hospital first.” She’s really bleeding a lot. Charlie is going to KILL me. And that’s nothing compared to what Dad will do.

* * *

As I sat in the hospital parking lot waiting while Bella got her stitches, I tried very hard not to think about why this was ironic. I watched Jacob support Bella as they went in, reading the concern in his mind, and observing the way she leaned into him gratefully. I had never been able to do that for Bella. I had been too busy resisting the impulse to kill her.

My cell phone rang, interrupting my morbid thoughts. I glanced at the number on the display and sighed. I debated answering, but I had been avoiding her for a few days now and I was going to have to take her call sooner or later. I might as well get it over with. I opened the phone and held it in front of me, well away from my ear.

“You moron! You imbecile! You complete and total numbskull! I can’t believe you have the nerve to do what you’re doing. Haven’t you learned a bloody thing in all these months?” Alice’s tinny voice was loud in the small space. She continued her tirade for a few more minutes, her language getting less and less civil. That was the problem with talking to someone who didn’t need to breathe. You could never get a word in edgewise. Where had she learned to swear like that, anyway?

“Good afternoon, Alice. How are you?” It had been such a good idea to leave this conversation for a telephone call. My self-satisfaction may have made my tone a little cocky.

“Oh, pleased with yourself, are you? You think you’ve managed this just splendidly, I suppose,” her tone was pure acid. I was happy that I was unable to hear her thoughts over the phone. I was sure I wouldn’t enjoy them.

“Yes, I’m doing quite well, thank you. How’s the family?” It was probably best to sit back and let her fury run its course.

“Haven’t you seen a thing while you’ve been there, O Master of Understanding? Don’t you have a clue yet what you’ve been putting Bella through?” Alice knew that was fighting dirty. It broke through my indifference defense.

“Actually, she seems to be doing quite well. She is moving on, Alice, like I told you she would.” I could not quite keep the hurt out of my tone.

“And that has got you just furious, hasn’t it?” she wheedled, getting pleased with herself. “You’re jealous.”

“Of course I am, Alice! I never thought it would be easy to watch her move on. I never planned to be here to see it. But I can’t let her get hurt.” Somewhere along the way, I had lost control of the conversation. I hated how that always happened with Alice. I could read her thoughts and I still never saw it coming.

Her voice softened very slightly. “Just keep in mind that you can’t read Bella’s thoughts. You have no idea what she’s thinking, and her motives might not be what they seem to be. “And please keep in mind that you don’t know the ramifications of your actions there. Some of the things I’ve seen would turn your hair white.” With a click, she was gone.

How very like Alice that was. Just when she was starting to get interesting, she disappeared.

* * *

The seven stitches in Bella’s forehead did nothing to deter her from riding the motorcycle. Charlie didn’t stop her either, so she and Jacob must have done an excellent job of keeping the cause of her injury under wraps. Which all meant that over the next couple of weeks I spent a significant amount of time having my nerves shredded and yelling at Bella while she continued her motorcycle lessons. I was certain by this point that talking to her wasn’t convincing her to stop, but I could not help myself. I was furious with her for abandoning our bargain.

Bella almost invariably ended her sessions with the motorcycle being driven to the emergency room by Jacob Black. I wondered if they had some kind of “After Nine Visits, Get Your Tenth One Free” deal. If so, Bella should definitely have signed up.

One evening, after Bella showed up with a particularly bad blow to the head, Dr. Gerandy called Charlie to warn him to keep on eye on Bella overnight, in case she had a concussion. I had been reading Charlie’s thoughts at the time, and I’m fairly certain that the doctor also let slip that Bella had been in the ER more often than usual. I had taken to parking my car a few streets away, because an older woman three houses over had started getting suspicious, so I was hiding in the woods behind the house when Charlie got off the phone. I could hear his voice through the open window.

“Isabella Marie Swan.” Charlie’s voice was more concerned than angry. He was still handling Bella very carefully, as though he was afraid she might break. “The hospital? Again?”

“It’s nothing, Charlie. Don’t worry.” By the sound of her voice, Bella was in the kitchen making dinner. I could smell the aroma of something garlicky drifting my way. I enjoyed the smell, if not the idea of eating.

“Dr. Gerandy said that this was the third time this week, Bella. Is there something we should be talking about?” Charlie was still keeping his tone neutral, but his thoughts were anything but. Dr. Gerandy said the wounds didn’t look self-inflicted. I thought Bella was getting better since she started spending time with Jake, but maybe… No. surely I would have noticed if she were THAT bad. I couldn’t live with myself if… Wait, there’s no way Jake could be… if he is I’ll KILL HIM.

“No, Charlie, seriously it’s nothing. Earlier this week I slipped and fell in Jake’s garage. You wouldn’t believe how unorganized it is in there, and he keeps moving things.” I could hear chairs being scraped across the floor as Bella and Charlie took their places around the small kitchen table. How I would love to be sitting there, no matter how terrible Charlie’s thoughts would be to listen to.

Charlie didn’t speak for a few moments, thinking over his next words. He would be chewing too, more than likely. By all accounts Bella was an excellent cook. He tried to stay calm, but his voice was suspicious as he suggested, “Maybe you should just stay out of the garage altogether, Bella.”

There was no mistaking the horror in her tone as she answered, too quickly. “This didn’t happen in the garage. We were hiking, and I tripped over a rock.”

I snorted. Bella had become a better liar in the last few months.

“Since when do you hike?” Charlie asked. I just don’t know if I can take Jacob away from her. Sometimes I think he’s the only glue holding her together. And he would never hurt her. It’s probably thanks to him that she’s ONLY been to the emergency room three times this week. Ha! If Charlie only knew.

After extracting a promise from Bella to be careful, Charlie let the topic pass. He worried about it all night, though he didn’t mention it again. If Bella only knew how much her father cared for her, how much time he devoted to worrying about her, she would be astounded.