Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 92)
“It seems like… the respectful thing to do. I don’t want them to think I’m shady.”
She laughed, a long, bell-like peal. I couldn’t help but smile.
“Does that mean I get to meet Charlie, too, then?” she asked eagerly. “He’s already suspicious, and I’d rather not be shady, either.”
“I mean, sure, but what should we tell him? I mean, how do I explain…?”
She shrugged. “I doubt he’ll struggle too hard with the idea of your having a girlfriend. Though it’s a loose interpretation of the word girl, I’ll admit.”
“Girlfriend,” I mumbled. “It sounds… not enough.” Mostly, it sounded transitory. Something that didn’t last.
She stroked one finger down the side of my face. “Well, I don’t know if we need to give him all the gory details, but he will need some explanation for why I’m around here so much. I don’t want Chief Swan putting a restraining order on me.”
“Will you really be here?” I asked, suddenly anxious. It seemed too good to be true, something only a fool would count on.
“As long as you want me.”
“I’ll always want you,” I warned her. “I’m talking about forever here.”
She put her fingers against my lips, and her eyes closed. It was almost like she wished I hadn’t said that.
“Does that make you… sad?” I asked, trying to put a name to the expression on her face. Sad seemed closest.
Her eyes opened slowly. She didn’t answer, she just stared into my eyes for a long time. Finally she sighed.
I glanced at the clock on the microwave automatically. “Isn’t it a little ear—wait, forget I asked that.”
“Is this okay?” I wondered, gesturing to my clothes. Should I dress up more?
“You look…” She suddenly dimpled up. “Delicious.”
“So you’re saying I should change?”
She laughed and shook her head. “Never change, Beau.”
Then she stood and took a step toward me, so that her knees were pressed against mine. She put her hands on either side of my face and leaned down till her face was just an inch from mine.
“Carefully,” she reminded me.
She tilted her head to the side and closed the distance between us. With the lightest pressure, her lips touched mine.
Carefully! I shouted in my head. Just don’t move. My hands balled into fists. I knew she would feel the blood pulsing into my face.
Slowly, her lips moved against mine. As she got more sure of herself, her lips were firmer. I felt them part slightly, and her breath washed cool across my mouth. I didn’t inhale. I knew how her scent made me do stupid things.
Her fingers stroked from my temples to my chin, and then hooked under my jaw and pulled my lips tighter to hers.
Careful! I shouted at myself.
And then, out of nowhere, the dizzy, hollow ringing sound started up in my ears. At first I couldn’t concentrate on anything but her lips, but then I started to fall down the tunnel and her lips were getting farther and farther away.
“Hey,” I tried to say.
“What happened? Are you all right?” The sound of her anxiety helped bring me around. I wasn’t totally gone, so it was fairly easy. I took two deep breaths and opened my eyes.
“I’m fine,” I told her. She was leaning away, but her arms were stretched out to me; one hand was cold on my forehead, the other on the back of my neck. Her face looked paler than usual. “Just… kind of forgot to breathe for a minute there. Sorry.” I took another deep breath.
She eyed me doubtfully. “You forgot to breathe?”
“I was trying to be careful.”
Suddenly she was angry. “What am I supposed to do with you, Beau? Yesterday, I kiss you, and you attack me! Today, you pass out!”
She sighed deeply, then darted in suddenly to kiss my forehead. “It’s a good thing that it’s physically impossible for me to have a heart attack,” she grumbled.
“That is good,” I agreed.
“I can’t take you anywhere like this.”
“No, I’m fine, really. Totally back to normal. Besides, your family is going to think I’m insane anyway, so what’s the difference if I’m a little unsteady?”
She frowned. “You mean more unsteady than usual?”
“Sure. Look, I’m trying not to think about what we’re going to do now, so it would help if we could get going.”
She shook her head but took my hand and pulled me out of the chair.
This time she didn’t even ask, she just headed straight for the driver’s side of my truck. I figured there was no point in arguing after my latest embarrassing episode, and anyway, I had no idea where she lived.
She drove respectfully, without any complaints about what my truck could handle. She took us north out of town, over the bridge at the Calawah River, and continued till we were past all the houses and on to close-packed trees. I was starting to wonder how far we were going when she abruptly steered right onto an unpaved road. The turnoff was unmarked, and almost totally hidden by thick ferns. The trees leaned close on both sides, so you could only see a few yards ahead before the road twisted out of sight.
We drove down this road for a least a few miles, mostly east. I was trying to fit this lane into the vague map I had in my head, not very successfully, when there was suddenly some thinning of the forest. She drove into a meadow… or was it a lawn? It didn’t get much brighter, though. There were six enormous cedars—maybe the biggest trees I’d ever seen—whose branches shaded an entire acre. They pushed right up against the house in the middle of the lawn—hiding it.