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Midnight Sun (20. Tracker)

Each vampire strode out of the forest with a wild expression on their face while their brilliant bright red eyes glittered. The three of them came closer together once they saw how many of us there were. The female had long red curly hair and a catlike appearance. The two males were both tall and built. As they came closer to my family I could understand their chaotic thoughts – our family was large for our kind and civilized compared to most other nomads. I knew what these kind of vampires looked like already, so their torn clothes, disheveled hair and bare feet were not something that would take me off guard.

All of their thoughts were thinking in sync with each other. How many vampires are there?

They were all shocked as they made their way towards us. Our numbers were an unpleasant surprise to them. They drifted ever closer to us with extreme caution.

Carlisle, Emmett and Jasper walked toward the approaching vampires to greet them, leaving only a short distance between us. I stationed myself securely in front of Bella. The visitors were cautiously looking around, mentally tabulating their chances of winning if a fight were to ensue. Once they began closing ranks with my family I began to listen carefully to their thoughts, making sure none of them sensed Bella for what she was �C a human.

Their eyes aren't red… but… How weird. The vampire named Laurent thought.

As they descended upon us I had already figured out their names. Each one of them was thinking about the other in turn. The vampire named Victoria was looking anxiously between Laurent and the other male vampire, James. She didn't like the idea that James had to put Laurent in the front �C to seem the leader of their coven but she was also grateful that he did because if there was an attack Laurent would be killed first and not her precious James.

Her eyes darted in our direction. Why are they huddled around that one girl? Victoria thought.

As she continued to look in our direction I concentrated on her thoughts alone. She was unknowingly absorbing the signs of the subtle differences between our kind and Bella's. Bella was the only human in a sea of vampires. The scent had not hit her yet. I began concentrating on the others thoughts also. James was a particularly vicious vampire. He was constantly gloating about how superior he was in his mind.

James had caught sight of the many scars on Jaspers skin. Look at all of those battle scars. I'll keep my eye on him. He is the real danger of this coven. James was thinking strategy.

I just don't understand why so many would gather together like this. Laurent thought.

My family and the visitors finally met. "We thought we heard a game," Laurent said lazily. "I'm Laurent, these are Victoria and James." He gestured toward the others.

Carlisle looked completely at ease as he spoke. "I'm Carlisle," he began in a hollow voice. "This is my family, Emmett and Jasper, Rosalie, Esme and Alice, Edward and Bella." He pointed to each grouping as he spoke.

The new comers still hadn't caught scent of Bella but James was peering around me to her. He was noticing that her cheeks were tinged lightly with a pinkish glow and how her eyes were a dark chocolate brown. He stepped closer, unintentionally, to get a better look.

"Do you have room for a few more players?" Laurent asked cordially.

"Actually, we were just finishing up. But we'd certainly be interested another time. Are you planning to stay in the area for long?" Carlisle said in faux enthusiasm, though Laurent hadn't noticed.

How long do they plan to be in the area? It's doubtful they would be able to stay here for long. Victoria looked at us incredulously.

"We're headed north, in fact, but we were curious to see who was in the neighborhood. We haven't run into any company in a long time." Laurent replied amicably.

There is something about the dark haired girl. James continued to look at her.

His eyes wondered to mine as he continued to think strategically. He doesn't seem like too much for a threat. He thought scathingly.

I didn't let my expression change �C the less he knew about me and my ability, the better. Jasper could feel the extreme hostility emitting from James so he used his gift to calm him down, along with sending waves of calm to the other vampires. James' thoughts returned to the conversation once he heard Carlisle's response.

"No, this region is usually empty except for us and the occasional visitor, like yourselves." Carlisle explained.

Except for them? All three thought simultaneously.

Jasper was truly talented. His continuous calm had changed the atmosphere into a more controllable situation.

"What's your hunting range?" Laurent inquired.

"The Olympic Range here, up and down the Coast Ranges on occasion. We keep a permanent residence nearby. There's another permanent settlement like ours up near Denali." Carlisle explained.

A permanent residence? They all thought together.

They never leave? How is that possible? Laurent thought in astonishment before voicing his question. "Permanent? How do you manage that?" he asked, intrigued.

This could be our opportunity to get Bella away from here. Be ready to move her away from them. Carlisle directed his thoughts to me.

"Why don't you come back to our home with us and we can talk comfortably?" Carlisle invited. "It's a rather long story," he explained.

Home? Victoria and James thought together and then exchanged incredulous looks.

"That sounds very interesting, and welcome." Laurent smiled while choosing his words carefully. "We've been on the hunt all the way down from Ontario, and we haven't had the chance to clean up in a while."

I wonder what it is like to be so clean and dressed so nicely all the time, Laurent wondered.

"Please don't take offense, but we'd appreciate it if you'd refrain from hunting in this immediate area. We have to stay inconspicuous, you understand." Carlisle asked politely.

"Of course," Laurent nodded. "We certainly won't encroach on your territory. We just ate outside of Seattle, anyway," he laughed while picturing his last prey and the kill.

What? You idiot! Why would you agree to that? James roared in apparent displeasure.

I could feel Bella shaking and I tried to hide her obvious human tendencies from the visitors. The constant deluge of thoughts had me struggling trying to keep up with everything. I focused on the threat and Carlisle.

Get ready to get her out of here! Carlisle ordered me.

"We'll show you the way if you'd like to run with us �C Emmett and Alice, you can go with Edward and Bella to get the Jeep," Carlisle said as casually as possible while inconspicuously directing Emmett and Alice of what to do.

I could hear the wind from a mile away before it hit us. Alice looked at me frantically for a fraction of a second as she realized this, too, and her vision of us escaping unscathed shifted abruptly. I saw it flash and in that second I realized what was going to happen. The wind was only a second away and I was prepared.

Suddenly the wind blew Bella's hair off her neck and sent her fragrance soaring towards the other vampires. James turned to face her as many thoughts went running through his head. I was preparing to protect Bella. Her scent had been punctuated by the moisture in the air, just like always. A howling rush of anxious thoughts came flowing out of my families minds as they realized the danger.

Ummm…what a delicious scent, he thought hungrily.

His nostrils flared to bring her scent deeper into his lungs, he crouched down, preparing to spring. His eyes narrowed while coming closer to Bella. I was a step ahead of him and so was my family because they had caught her scent strongly on the wind before he did. He was not going to lay a single finger on Bella. My protective side took over and a ferocious snarl ripped up my throat menacingly towards James. I met his gaze unflinchingly and he was suddenly very still like a dog who's hunting a rabbit, ready to attack.

"What's this?" Laurent exclaimed in surprise.

Why are they protecting her? She is just a human and an exceptionally frail one at that! This is going to be harder than my last hunt. James thought in a sinister way, determined to seize her at the first opportunity.

His thoughts continued on a visual basis as I saw that he would pick victims who were harder to catch and track them down – delighting in the hunt. He continued to dwell on his satisfying memories of his obsession. The harder the kill, the more thrilling he found it. A sickening jolt ran through my stomach as I realized that if we didn't kill him now that he would continue to hunt Bella until she was dead. I shifted simultaneously with each movement he was planning to make.

"She's with us," Carlisle claimed quickly, almost in a threat.

The scent didn't register with Laurent or Victoria for a few seconds longer. When it finally registered with them the scent was obviously not as strong to them as it was to James.

"You brought a snack?" Laurent had a smile spread across his face as he took a step forward, ignoring everyone's protective stance. He was resisting the temptation much easier than James.

A small horrified gasp exited Bella's lips. Another growl ripped up my throat, harsher than before. My teeth were showing and it sent a jolt of unease down Laurent's spine. He stepped back.

"I said she's with us," Carlisle looked tense and protective.

"But she's human," Laurent protested with a quizzical look on his face, slightly taken aback. Maybe this is how they stay inconspicuous…keeping a human as a pet?

"Yes," Emmett replied while stepping towards James.

Laurent knew better than to become aggressive when there were so many vampires protecting Bella. He caught sight of Jasper who had his hands clenched so tightly that his scars shown pearly white. He looked quickly away and towards James while giving him a dark look. What the hell are you doing? Are you trying to get us killed? He thought.

James slowly pulled out of his crouch but his thoughts and eyes were still on Bella. No matter what happened now, he was going to hunt her. Tonight �C she will be mine, James thought excitedly. This should make for a much more interesting sport, he continued and it was obvious that our presence made the hunt considerably more interesting.

I refused to move from my protective stance, remaining forcibly in his way. Jasper's waves of calm were working on the other two vampires but not on James. He seemed completely unaffected, like his body overrode it for the mere thought of a hunt as intriguing as this one would be.

This one should be fun; I bet James is already making plans. Victoria thought while failing extravagantly to hide the excitement of the hunt on her face.

"It appears we have a lot to learn about each other," Laurent spoke smoothly, trying to placate the situation.

"Indeed," Carlisle's voice was relatively calm.

I don't understand the fascination. "But we'd like to accept your invitation." Laurent's eyes darted toward Bella and me and then quickly away.

Good…Good, keep talking. This should help me out, James thought while his face lit up with a feverous fanatical glow.

"And, of course, we will not harm the human girl. We won't hunt in your range, as I said." Laurent added.

James threw him a disgruntled look. Well that doesn't help me out at all, he thought angrily. Or…maybe this will bring them into a false sense of security and they will let their guard down, James continued to plan in his head.

Carlisle studied Laurent's expression for several seconds. He seems to be handling this relatively well. I don't think inviting them over will hurt anything, Carlisle contemplated. "We'll show you the way. Jasper, Rosalie, Esme?" he called.

All three of them moved forward blocking Bella from their view. Alice bounded up next to Bella while Emmett walked backwards to us, never letting James out of his sight, knowing that I could see everything he saw.

I'm coming with you, Edward. I won't let anything happen to Bella, Emmett thought protectively.

We need to leave now, Alice thought urgently.

"Let's go, Bella." I commanded.

Bella didn't move; her eyes were wide in terror and shock. I grabbed her by the elbow and pulled her towards the jeep. Emmett and Alice stayed behind me, protecting both of us from any form of attack they might try to come at us with, all of us working as a seamless team.

We don't have much time, Edward. James will be after Bella shortly. Carlisle won't be able to stall them for long. Alice looked upset.

My impatience of her slow human pace was unbearable so by the time we reached the forest edge I threw Bella on my back as gentle as I could without slowing down and then I ran for it. Emmett and Alice were struggling to keep up with me; I was flying through the forest in a fury trying to get Bella away from the danger. I knew that this whole experience was jarring for Bella but the most important thing right now was for her to be safe. When we arrived next to the jeep I opened the door to the backseat and practically threw her in as the rest of us hurried into the Jeep.

The key was protruding from the ignition already and I turned it quickly while the engine roared to life. "Strap her in," I ordered Emmett who was already in the backseat.

We have to go �C now! Alice shouted from her head. She was already sitting in the passenger's seat looking extremely anxious.

Her thoughts were unnecessary because I was already spinning the Jeep around to face the mountain road.

Hurry, he's close. Alice's eyes were wide with terror for Bella.

I was muttering ferociously while several profanities come through my lips, words that I would never use in front of a lady. Emmett and Alice were on full alert, constantly updating me in their thoughts at what was going on around us.

I can't hear or see anything. Emmett informed me urgently.

He lost Bella's scent once we took off in the Jeep, she explained to me, relaxing slightly.

I watched Bella in the review mirror and through Emmett's eyes. She was bouncing up and down on the seat, her eyes wide. I suddenly wished Jasper had come along with us to keep her calm.

Go south, they will split up but the prospects of them finding us are slim. Oh, she paused in thought, looks like they aren't planning to leave so quickly after everything after all. I wonder what they are going to do, Alice tried to look further in the future but there were too many decisions that hadn't been decided yet.

I turned south on the main road.

"Where are we going?" Bella finally spoke with a squeak.

No one answered her.

Just tell her, Alice commanded.

I shook my head slightly. Emmett realized we were having one of our private conversations and understood what I was answering.

"Dammit, Edward! Where are you taking me?" Bella shouted this time, looking horrified.

I looked in the review mirror at her slightly crest fallen face and it broke my resolve. "We have to get you away from here �C far away �C now." I said hastily.

I pressed the accelerator down harder at my words while the Jeep's speed reached a hundred and five miles an hour.

"Turn around! You have to take me home!" she vehemently exclaimed.

This is exactly why I didn't want to tell her where we were going because I knew that she would demand what I couldn't give her. I looked in the review mirror again to see her face. She was fighting with the harness, tearing at the straps with tears welling up in her eyes.

"Emmett," I called.

Emmett looked down at her while she was angrily grasping at the straps. Jeez, she is in a fury. Emmett thought. He brought his hands to her wrists and held them tightly in his grasp. Bella looked in the review mirror with pure anguish in her eyes.

"No! Edward! No, you can't do this," she cried out.

When she begged and pleaded with me like this it broke my heart. I returned her gaze in the mirror. "I have to, Bella, now please be quiet." I implored.

She was stubborn, as always. "I won't! You have to take me back �C Charlie will call the FBI! They'll be all over your family �C Carlisle and Esme! They'll have to leave, to hide forever!" She shouted with a tragic expression displayed on her face.

Of course Bella was being selfless. It was just in her nature to care about everyone else when her life was in danger. This was nothing to our family – the FBI �C it's happened before with Jasper and Emmett.

"Calm down, Bella." I commanded. "We've been there before," I was almost crying with exasperation.

"Not over me, you don't! You're not ruining everything over me!" she began struggling under Emmett's hold.

Edward, what do you want me to do? I don't want to hurt her but she is going to hurt herself with all of her struggling. Emmett thoughts became worried immediately.

"Edward, pull over," Alice directed. Bella has a good plan if you will just listen to her.

I gave Alice a grave look while pressing the gas down even harder, showing her that I wasn't even going to slow down, let alone pull over.

"Edward, let's just talk this through," she continued. He's not following us; he actually has no idea where we went. Now pull over, she inclined her head toward the roads shoulder.

"You don't understand," I yelled in frustration.

Alice had no idea that James was a tracker – that when he hunted his prey he never gave up and always conquered. I couldn't bring Bella back to Forks, he would find her and she would be in danger again. If she were to die, I would too.

"He's a tracker, Alice, did you see that? He's a tracker!" I shouted.

Crap! Emmett looked grim.

"Pull over, Edward." Do it now! We have to talk about this now! We are in this together and we all have to make the decisions together. That includes Bella! Alice raised her eyebrows like she was daring me to disagree with her.

I looked down at the speedometer as the Jeep had reached one-twenty.

"Do it, Edward," Alice said to me in a bossy disapproving voice while glaring at me.

She needed to understand, I had to explain to her but I didn't want to say this in front of Bella. I didn't want her to be more terrorized than she already was. I looked into the review mirror again as I saw Bella's encouraging eyes telling me to pull over. Her heart was hammering loudly in her chest and her scent was circling all of us in the Jeep, emphasizing her human frailness. I closed my eyes for a fraction of a second, hoping when I opened them again that this would all be over with. I couldn't stop, I must keep going!

"Listen to me, Alice," I gave her a reproachful look. "I saw his mind. Tracking is his passion, his obsession �C and he wants her, Alice �C her, specifically. He begins the hunt tonight."

"He doesn't know where �C" Alice began but I cut her off.

"How long do you think it will take him to cross her scent in town? His plan was already set before the words were out of Laurent's mouth."

I heard a faint gasp come from Bella's lips and I looked quickly in the review mirror to see her lips parted in pure horror. "Charlie! You can't leave him there! You can't leave him!" she shouted and began thrashing against Emmett and the harness with nothing but pure worry in her expression.

"She's right," Alice said while she looked to the future and then she looked at me in horror.

I quickly dived into her mind, her vision was devastating. Bella! She will be so hurt and broken I don't know if we could fix her if Charlie is killed. We have to stop him �C now!

At the thought of what this could do to her I automatically slowed down. I didn't want her to die, but I could protect her from him… but I couldn't protect her from the agony, the grief that she would have to suffer if her father was killed. It would be torture to see her in such pain or worse, if she finally took the blame off herself and realized it was entirely my fault and refused to let me comfort her.

Alice could almost see my brain hard at work. "Let's just look at our options for a minute," she said coaxingly, knowing that I was deep in thought about our options.

The Jeep slowed as I took my foot off the accelerator slowly and the speedometer showed the Jeep slowing down to ninety miles an hour.

In Alice's vision James would give Victoria the first kill �C Charlie. Victoria was his mate and they were extremely vicious together, feeding off of each other's ruthlessness. She would display Charlie's dead body to try and coax us back �C and it would work! I slammed the brakes while pulling into the shoulder. I felt horribly powerless. The car behind me screeched to a halt too and honked their horn. I saw Bella slam back into the seat and I was instantly nervous I had done something to hurt her but she looked unscathed.

I turned to look at Alice. "There are no options," I howled.

To bring her back when that monster was hunting her �C I just couldn't bare it if something were to happen. My brain was in limbo.

"I'm not leaving Charlie!" Bella yelled louder than I had ever heard but I ignored her.

"We have to take her back," Emmett said quietly.

"No," I said with authority.

"He's no match for us, Edward. He won't be able to touch her," Emmett promised.

"He'll wait," I explained.

We'll beat him at his own game then! "I can wait, too." Emmett said while grinning widely.

"You didn't see �C you don't understand. Once he commits to a hunt, he's unshakeable. We'd have to kill him." I shouted.

And this is a problem because? "That's an option," he replied unperturbed.

I was becoming angrier because I knew I was going to lose this argument. "And the female. She's with him. If it turns into a fight, the leader will go with them, too."

Three against seven? Please! "There are enough of us."

"There's another option," Alice replied quietly.

She saw what Bella was planning in her head and the only way she saw this plan was if it was a possibility. This made me angrier than before. "There �C is �C no �C other �C option!" I shouted.

I could see the shock on Bella and Emmett's face in the mirror. I turned to look at Alice. She has a good plan and you know it! Alice barked in her head.

I continued to stare at her with deepest dislike.

If she doesn't convince James that she is no longer in Forks than he will let Victoria kill Charlie. You can't let that happen. What would Carlisle say?

I continued to glare at her and her logic.

"Does anyone want to hear my plan?" Bella asked.

"No," I growled because I already knew her plan and disagreed with it.

I've had enough of this! Alice glared at me so menacingly I almost thought she was going to burn holes through me.

"Listen," Bella pleaded desperately. "You take me back."

"No," I cut in.

I turned to look at her and now she was glaring at me. "You take me back," she continued anyway. "I tell my dad I want to go home to Phoenix. I pack my bags. We wait till this tracker is watching, and then we run. He'll follow us and leave Charlie alone. Charlie won't call the FBI on your family. Then you can take me any damned place you want."

Wow! I like her style. She fights dirty! Emmett looked surprised.

Just let her do this, Edward. Alice continued to glare at me.

"It's not a bad idea, really." Emmett allowed.

"It might work �C and we simply can't leave her father unprotected. You know that," Alice replied in a I told you so tone.

Everyone's eyes were on me. I took in a deep breath. "It's too dangerous �C I don't want him within a hundred miles of her."

"Edward, he's not getting through us," Emmett said confidently.

I wish I were as confident as he was. I looked at Alice because she started flitting through the future again. Ah, yes, the future is getting clearer. I see… "I don't see him attacking. He'll try to wait for us to leave her alone."

"It won't take long for him to realize that's not going to happen," Emmett said.

"I demand that you take me home." Bella said firmly.

My brain was swelling with the onslaught of information �C the past events, the present and the future. Bringing my fingers to my temples and squeezing my eyes shut while trying to dispel all thoughts was useless but I tried anyway.

"Please," Bella whispered a cry.

I knew I had to do what was best for Bella all around, not what was just best for me. I decided a compromise would be the best I could deal with.

"You're leaving tonight, whether the tracker sees or not. You tell Charlie that you can't stand another minute in Forks. Tell him whatever story works. Pack the first things your hands touch, and then get in your truck. I don't care what he says to you. You have fifteen minutes. Do you hear me? Fifteen minutes from the time you cross the doorstep." I conceded.

The engine roared to life as I turned the key. I whipped the truck around while listening to everyone's thoughts.

I knew this was going to happen, Alice thought smugly.

Yes! We get to fight! Hell yes! Emmett rejoiced.

"Emmett?" Bella said. I looked in the mirror and she was looking down at her hands.

"Oh, sorry." Emmett said while letting go of her wrists.

This is the most exciting thing since mine and Jasper's trip to Africa. I hope Edward always keeps Bella around, everything is always so interesting! Emmett continued to think happy thoughts the whole way back to Forks.

While everyone else was silent I was working plans in my head. "This is how it's going to happen," I began to explain our strategy. "When we get to the house, if the tracker is not there, I will walk her to the door. Then she has fifteen minutes." I gave Bella a dark look in the mirror to let her know I wasn't going to change my mind on this point. "Emmett, you take the outside of the house. Alice, you get the truck. I'll be inside as long as she is. After she's out, you two can take the Jeep home and tell Carlisle."

What? No fight! "No way," Emmett interrupted. "I'm with you."

I sighed. "Think it through, Emmett. I don't know how long I'll be gone." I explained.

You aren't going to ruin this for me. "Until we know how far this is going to go, I'm with you," Emmett said with authority.

A growl almost escaped my lips. "If the tracker is there," I frowned, "we keep driving."

No worries! "We're going to make it there before him," Alice said with confidence. Oh no you don't, Edward, I'm staying with her. She thought when I planned to send her home."What are we going to do with the Jeep?" Alice asked to provoke me.

I gritted my teeth as I spoke. "You're driving it home."

No way! "No, I'm not!" she said coolly.

Tonight I just couldn't help myself, a stream of profanities come through my lips, but low enough I was sure Bella couldn't hear them. Would she think of me as a gentleman after this? What a dumb thing to be thinking about in such a crucial moment, I thought to myself.

"We can all fit in my truck," Bella said quietly.

I ignored her, she wasn't helping my cause.

"I think you should let me go alone," Bella said even more quietly, purposely provoking me.

I clenched my teeth and breathed through them slowly. "Bella, please just do this my way, just this once."

"Listen, Charlie's not an imbecile," she continued like she hadn't heard me. "If you're not in town tomorrow, he's going to get suspicious."

Why does she continually worry about me when she should be worried about herself? Beautiful, selfless, warm, trusting human…why do you do this to me? I roared internally. "That's irrelevant. We'll make sure he's safe, and that's all that matters." I told her.

I could see her rebuttal churning in her eyes before she spoke. "Then what about this tracker? He saw the way you acted tonight. He's going to think you're with me, wherever you are."

Where on earth did this creature come from? Emmett wondered. "Edward, listen to her," he urged. "I think she's right," Emmett said, positively delighted.

Hum, she has a point. "Yes, she is," Alice agreed.

They already convinced me to come back to Forks and bring her back to the vampire who hunted her and now they expect me to stay behind! "I can't do that." I barked.

It was true, it was almost physically impossible for me to leave her now.

"Emmett should stay, too. He definitely got an eyeful of Emmett." She continued.

You have got to be kidding me! She's turning on me now! "What?" Emmett's eyes narrowed in her direction.

I'll placate him. Don't worry. "You'll get a better crack at him if you stay," Alice suggested.

The way they were planning was driving me insane. I had to put my foot down at some point. "You think I should let her go alone?" I said incredulously.

Do you think I'm an idiot? "Of course not. Jasper and I will take her." Duh.

I felt like I was being beaten down. They were making sense and I knew it, but I just couldn't stand the pain if something was to happen to her and I wasn't there to protect her. "I can't do that." I repeated.

Bella spoke up, "Hang out here for a week �C" I looked at her in the mirror and she could see my I don't think so expression and amended "- a few days. Let Charlie see you haven't kidnapped me, and lead this James on a wild-goose chase. Make sure he's completely off my trail. Then come and meet me. Take a roundabout route, of course, and then Jasper and Alice can go home."

It will work. Really. Alice thought to me.

"Meet you where?" I conceded, curiosity getting the best of me.

"Phoenix." She said matter-of-factly.

"No. He'll hear that's where you're going," I said impatiently.

Oh! Great plan…Alice thought seeing what Bella would say before she spoke again.

"And you'll make it look like that's a ruse, obviously. He'll know that we'll know that he's listening. He'll never believe I'm actually going where I say I am going."

Interesting, always interesting. "She's diabolical," Emmett began to chuckle and I ignored him.

"And if that doesn't work?" I muttered.

"There are several million people in Phoenix," she informed me like that settled it.

How did our conversation end up like this �C here, in Forks embracing danger? We should be a hundred miles away by now! "It's not that hard to find a phone book," I said grimly.

"I won't go home," she said happily.

This is entertaining, really. Emmett thought with another chuckle in his head.

I wanted to roll my eyes at her or shake some sense into her. Maybe she had lost her mind with the stress of the ordeal. "Oh?" I asked, utterly perplexed.

"I'm quite old enough to get my own place," she smiled at me in the mirror.

It won't come to that. Don't worry. "Edward, we'll be with her," Alice winked at me.

Everyone had lost their minds. A sadistic vampire was hunting Bella and everyone had turned it into a big joke! "What are you going to do in Phoenix?" I rebuked.

If I have time, shop. She thought but pretended that she didn't think that when she looked at me and replied, "Stay indoors."

I threw her a disgruntled look.

With Jasper gone Edward and I can track this James down and kill him! "I kind of like it." Emmett grinned stupidly.

I glared at him. "Shut up, Emmett," I commanded and I meant that for his thoughts too. It didn't stop him.

"Look, if we try to take him down while she's still around, there's a much better chance that someone will get hurt �C she'll get hurt, or you will, trying to protect her. Now, if we get him alone…" we can hack him up into little pieces and burn him! Emmett finished in his thoughts with another wide grin spreading across his face at the thought.

I saw the bright orange streetlights as they grew brighter and larger as Forks loomed into view. We had finally arrived back in town and I was suddenly anxious that our plan won't work. The streets were empty and it felt like it was an ominous sign. Alice could see the grim expression on my face.

She'll be fine, Edward, I've seen it. Alice thought calmy.

"Bella," I began while Alice and Emmett became alert immediately, gazing raptly out the windows. "If you let anything happen to yourself �C anything at all �C I'm holding you personally responsible. Do you understand that?" I said softly.

I heard her loud gulp. "Yes," she whispered.

I looked at Alice who turned back to me. "Can Jasper handle this?"

He cares for Bella, too. "Give him some credit, Edward. He's been doing very, very well, all things considered."

I raised an eyebrow. "Can you handle this?" I asked.

I have fewer problems handling it then you do. I'd never hurt Bella. How dare you. Alice thought while a growl ripped up her throat and she pulled back her lips to show her gleaming teeth.

Coming from Alice, the very tiny Alice, made me smile despite the events of this evening. "But keep your opinions to yourself," I said harshly, knowing that the knowledge of her visions would be too much for Bella to handle.

You mean the one where I think you should change her into a vampire so she can live with us forever? She thought with great smugness.

I grimaced while pulling into Bella's driveway, looking out at the dark grounds surrounding her house. A lump formed in my throat at the thought of what had to happen next.

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