Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 121)

“But—my mom! She came here for my mom, Archie!” Even with Jessamine touching me, I could feel the panic seizing up my chest.

“Jess and I will stay till she’s safe again.”

“We can’t win, Archie! You can’t guard everyone I know forever. Don’t you see what she’s doing? She’s not even tracking me. She’ll find someone—she’ll hurt someone I love! Archie, I can’t—”

“We’ll catch her, Beau.”

“And what if you get hurt, Archie? Do you think that’s okay with me? Do you think it’s only my human family she can hurt me with?”

Archie raised his eyebrows at Jessamine. A heavy fog of exhaustion washed over me, and my eyes closed without my permission. I struggled against the fog, knowing what was happening. I forced my eyes open and stepped away from Jessamine’s hand.

“I don’t need sleep,” I snapped.

I went back to the bedroom, slamming the door behind me. Archie didn’t follow me, the way I half-expected him to. Maybe he could see what his reception would be.

For almost four hours I sat on the floor and stared at the wall, my hands clenched into fists. My mind went around in circles, trying to come up with some way out of this nightmare. I couldn’t see any escape—just one possible end. The only question was how many other people would get hurt before I reached it.

The only hope I had left was knowing that I would see Edythe soon. Maybe, if I could see her face again, I would be able to see a solution, too. Things were always clearer when we were together.

When the phone rang, I went back to the front room, a little ashamed of my behavior. I hoped I hadn’t offended anyone. I hoped they realized that I was nothing but grateful for the sacrifices they were making for me.

Archie was talking at high speed into the phone again. I looked around, but Jessamine was gone. The clock said it was five-thirty in the morning.

“They’re just boarding their plane,” Archie told me. “They’ll land at nine-forty-five.”

Just a few more hours to keep myself together till she was here.

“Where’s Jessamine?”

“She went to check out.”

“You aren’t staying here?”

“No, we’re relocating closer to your mother’s house.”

I felt like I wanted to throw up, but then the phone rang again. Archie looked at the number, then held it out to me. I yanked it from his hand.

“Mom?”

“Beau? Beau?” It was my mom’s voice—that familiar tone I’d heard a thousand times in my childhood, anytime I’d gotten too close to the edge of the sidewalk or strayed out of her sight in a crowded place. It was the sound of panic.

“Calm down, Mom,” I said in my most soothing voice, walking slowly away from Archie, back to the bedroom. I wasn’t sure if I could lie convincingly with him watching. “Everything is fine, okay? Just give me a minute and I’ll explain everything, I promise.”

I paused, surprised that she hadn’t interrupted me yet.

“Mom?”

“Be very careful not to say anything until I tell you to.” The voice I heard now was as unfamiliar as it was unexpected. It was a woman’s voice, but not my mom’s. It was a soft alto voice, a very pleasant, generic voice—the kind of voice that you heard in the background of luxury car commercials. She spoke quickly.

“Now, I don’t need to hurt your mother, so please do exactly as I say, and she’ll be fine.” She paused for a minute while I listened in mute horror. “That’s very good,” she congratulated. “Now repeat after me, and do try to sound natural. Please say, ‘No, Mom, stay where you are.’”

“No, Mom, stay where you are.” My voice was barely more than a whisper.

“I can see this is going to be difficult.” The voice was amused, still light and friendly. “Why don’t you walk into another room now so your face doesn’t ruin everything? There’s no reason for your mother to suffer. As you’re walking, say, ‘Mom, please listen to me.’ Say it now.”

“Mom, please listen to me,” I pleaded. I walked slowly through the bedroom door, feeling Archie’s worried stare on my back. I shut the door behind me, trying to think clearly through the terror that immobilized my brain.

“There now, are you alone? Just answer yes or no.”

“Yes.”

“But they can still hear you, I’m sure.”

“Yes.”

“All right, then,” the agreeable voice continued, “say, ‘Mom, trust me.’”

“Mom, trust me.”

“This worked out rather better than I expected. I was prepared to wait, but your mother arrived ahead of schedule. It’s easier this way, isn’t it? Less suspense, less anxiety for you.”

I waited.

“Now I want you to listen very carefully. I’m going to need you to get away from your friends; do you think you can do that? Answer yes or no.”

“No.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. I was hoping you would be a little more creative. Do you think you could get away from them if your mother’s life depended on it? Answer yes or no.”

Somehow, there had to be a way.

“Yes,” I said through my teeth.

“Very good, Beau. Now this is what you have to do. I want you to go to your mother’s house. Next to the phone there will be a number. Call it, and I’ll tell you where to go from there.” I already knew where I would go, and where this would end. But I would follow her instructions exactly. “Can you do that? Answer yes or no.”

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