Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 27 страница

Edward's arms wound around me as the next song started. It was a little

up-tempo for slow dancing, but that didn't seem to concern him. I leaned

my head against his chest, content.

"Feeling better?" I teased.

"Not really," he said tersely.

"Don't be mad at Billy," I sighed. "He just worries about me for

Charlie's sake. It's nothing personal."

"I'm not mad at Billy," he corrected in a clipped voice. "But his son is

irritating me."

I pulled back to look at him. His face was very serious.

"Why?"

"First of all, he made me Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 27 страница break my promise."

I stared at him in confusion.

He half-smiled. "I promised I wouldn't let go of you tonight," he

explained.

"Oh. Well, I forgive you."

"Thanks. But there's something else." Edward frowned.

I waited patiently.

"He called you pretty," he finally continued, his frown deepening.

"That's practically an insult, the way you look right now. You're much

more than beautiful."

I laughed. "You might be a little biased."

"I don't think that's it. Besides, I have excellent eyesight."

We were twirling again, my feet on his as he held me close.

"So are Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 27 страница you going to explain the reason for all of this?" I wondered.

He looked down at me, confused, and I glared meaningfully at the crepe

paper.

He considered for a moment, and then changed direction, spinning me

through the crowd to the back door of the gym. I caught a glimpse of

Jessica and Mike dancing, staring at me curiously. Jessica waved, and I

smiled back quickly. Angela was there, too, looking blissfully happy in

the arms of little Ben Cheney; she didn't look up from his eyes, a head

lower than hers. Lee and Samantha, Lauren, glaring toward us, with

Conner; I could name every face Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 27 страница that spiraled past me. And then we were

outdoors, in the cool, dim light of a fading sunset.

As soon as we were alone, he swung me up into his arms, and carried me

across the dark grounds till he reached the bench beneath the shadow of

the madrone trees. He sat there, keeping me cradled against his chest.

The moon was already up, visible through the gauzy clouds, and his face

glowed pale in the white light. His mouth was hard, his eyes troubled.

"The point?" I prompted softly.

He ignored me, staring up at the moon.

"Twilight, again," he murmured. "Another Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 27 страница ending. No matter how perfect

the day is, it always has to end."

"Some things don't have to end," I muttered through my teeth, instantly

tense.

He sighed.

"I brought you to the prom," he said slowly, finally answering my

question, "because I don't want you to miss anything. I don't want my

presence to take anything away from you, if I can help it. I want you to

be human. I want your life to continue as it would have if I'd died in

nineteen-eighteen like I should have."

I shuddered at his words, and then shook my head Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 27 страница angrily. "In what

strange parallel dimension would I ever have gone to prom of my own free

will? If you weren't a thousand times stronger than me, I would never

have let you get away with this."

He smiled briefly, but it didn't touch his eyes. "It wasn't so bad, you

said so yourself."

"That's because I was with you."

We were quiet for a minute; he stared at the moon and I stared at him. I

wished there was some way to explain how very uninterested I was in a

normal human life.

"Will you tell me something Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 27 страница?" he asked, glancing down at me with a slight

smile.

"Don't I always?"

"Just promise you'll tell me," he insisted, grinning.

I knew I was going to regret this almost instantly. "Fine."

"You seemed honestly surprised when you figured out that I was taking you

here," he began.

"I was," I interjected.

"Exactly," he agreed. "But you must have had some other theory… I'm

curious — what did you think I was dressing you up for?"

Yes, instant regret. I pursed my lips, hesitating. "I don't want to tell

you."

"You promised," he objected.



"I know."

"What's the problem?"

I Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 27 страница knew he thought it was mere embarrassment holding me back. "I think it

will make you mad — or sad."

His brows pulled together over his eyes as he thought that through. "I

still want to know. Please?"

I sighed. He waited.

"Well… I assumed it was some kind of… occasion. But I didn't think it

would be some trite human thing… prom!" I scoffed.

"Human?" he asked flatly. He'd picked up on the key word.

I looked down at my dress, fidgeting with a stray piece of chiffon. He

waited in silence.

"Okay," I confessed in a rush. "So I Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 27 страница was hoping that you might have

changed your mind… that you were going to change me, after all."

A dozen emotions played across his face. Some I recognized: anger… pain…

and then he seemed to collect himself and his expression became amused.

"You thought that would be a black tie occasion, did you?" he teased,

touching the lapel of his tuxedo jacket.

I scowled to hide my embarrassment. "I don't know how these things work.

To me, at least, it seems more rational than prom does." He was still

grinning. "It's not funny," I said.

"No, you're right Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 27 страница, it's not," he agreed, his smile fading. "I'd rather

treat it like a joke, though, than believe you're serious."

"But I am serious."

He sighed deeply. "I know. And you're really that willing?"

The pain was back in his eyes. I bit my lip and nodded.

"So ready for this to be the end," he murmured, almost to himself, "for

this to be the twilight of your life, though your life has barely

started. You're ready to give up everything."

"It's not the end, it's the beginning," I disagreed under my breath.

"I'm not worth it Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 27 страница," he said sadly.

"Do you remember when you told me that I didn't see myself very clearly?"

I asked, raising my eyebrows. "You obviously have the same blindness."

"I know what I am."

I sighed.

But his mercurial mood shifted on me. He pursed his lips, and his eyes

were probing. He examined my face for a long moment.

"You're ready now, then?" he asked.

"Um." I gulped. "Yes?"

He smiled, and inclined his head slowly until his cold lips brushed

against the skin just under the corner of my jaw.

"Right now?" he whispered, his Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 27 страница breath blowing cool on my neck. I shivered

involuntarily.

"Yes," I whispered, so my voice wouldn't have a chance to break. If he

thought I was bluffing, he was going to be disappointed. I'd already made

this decision, and I was sure. It didn't matter that my body was rigid as

a plank, my hands balled into fists, my breathing erratic…

He chuckled darkly, and leaned away. His face did look disappointed.

"You can't really believe that I would give in so easily," he said with a

sour edge to his mocking tone.

"A girl can dream."

His eyebrows rose Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 27 страница. "Is that what you dream about? Being a monster?"

"Not exactly," I said, frowning at his word choice. Monster, indeed.

"Mostly I dream about being with you forever."

His expression changed, softened and saddened by the subtle ache in my

voice.

"Bella." His fingers lightly traced the shape of my lips. "I will stay

with you — isn't that enough?"

I smiled under his fingertips. "Enough for now."

He frowned at my tenacity. No one was going to surrender tonight. He

exhaled, and the sound was practically a growl.

I touched his face. "Look," I said. "I love you more than everything else

in the Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 27 страница world combined. Isn't that enough?"

"Yes, it is enough," he answered, smiling. "Enough for forever."

And he leaned down to press his cold lips once more to my throat.

===========================================================================

Acknowledgments

A huge thank you to:

my parents, Steve and Candy,

for a lifetime of love and support,S

for reading great books to me when I was young,

and for still holding my hand through the

things that make me nervous;

my husband, Pancho, and my sons, Gabe, Seth, and Eli,

for sharing me so often with my imaginary friends;

my friends at Writers House,

Genevieve Gagne-Hawes, for giving me Text copyright © 2005 by Stephenie Meyer 27 страница that first chance,

and my agent Jodi Reamer, for turning the most

unlikely dreams into realities;

my editor Megan Tingley, for all her help in

making Twilight better than it started out;

my brothers, Paul and Jacob, for their expert advice on all

my automotive questions; and my online family,

the talented staff and writers at fansofrealitytv.com,

particularly Kimberly "Shazzer," and Collin "Mantenna"

for the encouragement, advice,

and inspiration.

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