Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 106)
“You don’t mind, then?” I asked, hesitant again. “That I’m… all wrong for her?”
“No,” he said thoughtfully. “You’re what she wants. It will all work out, somehow.” But his forehead creased with worry.
Another peal of thunder began.
Earnest stopped then; apparently, we’d reached the edge of the field. It looked as if they had formed teams. Edythe was far out in left field, Carine stood between the first and second bases, and Archie held the ball, positioned on the spot that must be the pitcher’s mound.
Eleanor was swinging an aluminum bat; it whistled almost untraceably through the air. I waited for her to approach home plate, but then I realized, as she leaned into her stance, that she was already there—farther from the pitcher’s mound than I would have thought possible. Jessamine stood several feet behind her, catching for the other team. Of course, none of them had gloves.
“All right,” Earnest called in a clear voice, which I guessed even Edythe would hear, as far out as she was. “Batter up.”
Archie stood straight, still as a statue. His style seemed to be stealth rather than an intimidating windup. He held the ball in both hands at his waist, and then, like the strike of a cobra, his right hand flicked out and the ball smacked into Jessamine’s hand with a sound like a gunshot.
“Was that a strike?” I whispered to Earnest.
“If they don’t hit it, it’s a strike,” he told me.
Jessamine hurled the ball back to Archie’s waiting hand. He permitted himself a brief grin. And then his hand spun out again.
This time the bat somehow made it around in time to smash into the invisible ball. The crack of impact was shattering, thunderous; it echoed off the mountainside—I immediately understood the need for the storm.
I was barely able to follow the ball, shooting like a meteor above the field, flying deep into the surrounding forest.
“Home run,” I muttered.
“Wait,” Earnest said. He was listening intently, one hand raised. Eleanor was a blur around the bases, Carine shadowing her. I realized Edythe was missing.
“Out!” Earnest cried. I stared in disbelief as Edythe sprang from the fringe of the trees, ball in her upraised hand, her wide grin visible even to me.
“Eleanor hits the hardest,” Earnest explained, “but Edythe runs the fastest.”
It was like watching superheroes play. It was impossible to keep up with the speed at which the ball flew, the rate at which their bodies raced around the field.
I learned the other reason they waited for a thunderstorm to play when Jessamine, trying to avoid Edythe’s infallible fielding, hit a ground ball toward Carine. Carine ran into the ball, and then raced Jessamine to first base. When they collided, the sound was like the crash of two massive falling boulders. I jumped up, afraid someone would be hurt, but they were both totally fine.
“Safe,” Earnest called in a calm voice.
Eleanor’s team was up by one—Royal managed to tear around the bases after tagging up on one of Eleanor’s long flies—when Edythe caught the third out. She sprinted to my side, beaming with excitement.
“What do you think?” she asked.
“One thing’s for sure, I’ll never be able to sit through dull old Major League Baseball again.”
“And it sounds like you did so much of that before,” she laughed.
“I am a little disappointed,” I teased.
“Well, it would be nice if I could find just one thing you didn’t do better than everyone else on the planet.”
She flashed her dimples, leaving me breathless.
“I’m up,” she said, heading for the plate.
She played intelligently, keeping the ball low, out of the reach of Royal’s always-ready hand in the outfield, gaining two bases like lightning before Eleanor could get the ball back in play. Carine knocked one so far out of the field—with a boom that hurt my ears—that she and Edythe both made it in. Archie slapped them high fives.
The score constantly changed as the game continued, and they razzed each other like street ballplayers as they took turns with the lead. Occasionally Earnest would call them to order. The thunder rumbled on, but we stayed dry, as Archie had predicted.
Carine was up to bat, Edythe catching, when Archie suddenly gasped. My eyes were on Edythe, as usual, and I saw her head snap up to look at him. Their eyes met and something flowed between them in half a second. She was at my side before the others could ask Archie what was wrong.
“Archie?” Earnest asked, tense.
“I didn’t see,” Archie whispered. “I couldn’t tell.”
They were all gathered in now.
Carine was calm, authoritative. “What is it, Archie?”
“They were traveling much quicker than I thought. I can see I had the perspective wrong before,” he murmured.
Jessamine put her arm around him, her posture protective. “What changed?” she asked.
“They heard us playing, and it changed their path,” Archie said, contrite, as if he felt responsible for whatever had happened.
Seven pairs of quick eyes flashed to my face and away.
“How soon?” Carine asked.
A look of intense concentration crossed his face.
“Less than five minutes. They’re running—they want to play.” He scowled.
“Can you make it?” Carine asked Edythe, her eyes flicking toward me again.
“No, not carrying—” She cut short. “Besides, the last thing we need is for them to catch the scent and start hunting.”