Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 34)

A few minutes after Allen left with the hikers, Julie came over to take his place by my side. She looked fourteen, maybe fifteen, and had long, glossy black hair pulled back with a rubber band at the nape of her neck. Her skin was really beautiful, like coppery silk, her dark eyes were wide-set above her high cheekbones, and her lips were curved like a bow. It was a very pretty face. However, my positive opinion was damaged by the first words out of her mouth.

“You’re Beaufort Swan, aren’t you?”

It was like the first day of school all over again.

“Beau,” I sighed.

“Right,” she said, like she’d already known that. “I’m Julie Black.” She held out her hand. “You bought my mom’s truck.”

“Oh,” I said, relieved, shaking her warm hand. “Bonnie’s your mom. I probably should remember you.”

“No, I’m the youngest of the family—you would remember my older brothers.”

And suddenly I did. “Adam and Aaron.” Charlie and Bonnie and Bonnie’s husband—George, I remembered now; he’d died a few years back, car accident or something, and Charlie had been really sad—had thrown us together a lot during my visits, to keep us busy while they fished. We’d never made much progress as friends. Of course, I’d objected often enough to end the fishing trips by the time I was eleven. “Adam and Aaron and… Jules, wasn’t it?”

She smiled. “You do remember. No one’s called me that since my brothers left.”

“They aren’t here?” I examined the boys at the ocean’s edge, wondering if I would be able to recognize them now.

Jules shook her head. “No, Adam got a scholarship to Washington State, and Aaron married a Samoan surfer—he lives in Hawaii now.”

“Married. Wow.” I was stunned. The twins were only a little over a year older than I was.

“So how do you like the truck?” she asked.

“I love it. It runs great.”

“Yeah, but it’s really slow,” she laughed. “I was so relieved when Charlie bought it. My mom wouldn’t let me work on building another car when we had a perfectly good vehicle right there.”

“It’s not that slow,” I objected.

“Have you tried to go over sixty?”

“No,” I admitted.

“Good. Don’t.” She grinned.

I couldn’t help grinning back. “It does great in a collision,” I offered in my truck’s defense.

“I don’t think a tank could take out that old monster,” she agreed with another laugh.

“So you build cars?” I asked, impressed.

“When I have free time, and parts. You wouldn’t happen to know where I could get my hands on a master cylinder for a 1986 Volkswagen Rabbit?” she added jokingly. She had an interesting voice, warm and kind of throaty.

“Sorry,” I laughed, “I haven’t seen any lately, but I’ll keep my eyes open for you.” As if I knew what that was. She was very easy to talk with.

She flashed a brilliant smile, looking at me in a way I was learning to recognize. I wasn’t the only one who noticed.

“You know Beaufort, Julie?” Logan asked. I should have known someone like Logan would notice how much I disliked my full name.

“Beau and I have sort of known each other since I was born,” Jules said, smiling at me again.

“How nice for you,” Logan said. I hadn’t noticed before how fishy his pale green eyes were.

Jules raised her eyebrows at his tone. “Yes, isn’t it wonderful?”

Her sarcasm seemed to throw Logan off, but he wasn’t done with me yet. “Beau, Taylor and I were just saying that it was too bad none of the Cullens could come out today. Didn’t anyone think to ask them?”

He looked at me like he knew I’d asked Edythe to come, and thought it was hilarious that she’d turned me down. Only, it hadn’t felt like a rejection in the moment—it’d felt like she’d wanted to come with me, but couldn’t. Had I read her wrong?

My worries were interrupted by a strong, clear voice.

“You mean Dr. Carine Cullen’s family?”

It was the older girl who had first introduced the local kids. She was even older than I’d thought, now that I looked at her closer. Not really a girl at all, but a woman. Unlike Julie’s, her hair was cut short as a boy’s. She was standing now, and I saw that she was almost as tall as I was.

Logan glared at her, glared up because he was shorter than she was, irritated because she’d spoken before I could respond. “Yes, do you know them?” he asked in a patronizing tone, only half-turned toward her.

“The Cullens don’t come here,” she said, and in her clear, forceful voice, it sounded less like an observation and more like… a command. She had ignored his question, but clearly the conversation was over.

Taylor, trying to win back Logan’s attention, asked his opinion of the CD she held. He was distracted.

I stared at the woman—she stood with a confident, straight posture, looking away toward the dark forest. She’d said that the Cullens didn’t come here, but her tone had implied something more—that they weren’t allowed to come, that they were prohibited from coming here. Her manner left a strange impression with me that I couldn’t shake.

Jules interrupted my meditation. “So, is Forks driving you insane yet?”

I frowned. Possibly, I was literally insane at this point. “I’d say that’s an understatement.”


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