Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 60)
She laughed. “A joke. It’s really nothing, Beau. Normal sibling issues. An only child couldn’t understand.”
“If you say so.”
I looked at our hands, still folded so very carefully together. It was the first time I’d really held her hand, but wrapped up in the wonder of that was the memory of why she’d offered it to me in the first place.
“Back to what you were thinking,” she said, as if she could read my thoughts.
“Would it help if you knew you weren’t the only one who had been accused of obsession?”
I groaned. “You heard that, too. Great.”
She laughed. “I was entranced from start to finish.”
“Sorry,” I said.
“Why are you apologizing? It makes me feel better to know I’m not the only one.”
I stared at her, skeptical.
“Let me put it this way.” She pursed her lips thoughtfully. “Though you are the one person I can’t be sure about, I’d still be willing to place a very large wager that I spend more time thinking about you than you do about me.”
“Ha,” I laughed, startled. “You would totally lose that bet.”
She raised an eyebrow and then spoke so low that I had to lean in to hear. “Ah, but you’re only conscious for roughly sixteen hours in any given twenty-four-hour period. That gives me quite a lead, don’t you think?”
“You’re not factoring in dreams, though.”
She sighed. “Do nightmares count as dreams?”
Red started creeping up my neck. “When I dream about you… it’s definitely not a nightmare.”
Her mouth opened just a tiny bit in surprise, and her face was suddenly vulnerable. “Really?” she asked.
It was obvious that she was pleased, so I said, “Every single night.”
She closed her eyes for just a minute, but when she opened them, her smile was teasing again.
“REM cycles are the shortest of all the sleep stages. I’m still hours ahead.”
I frowned. It was difficult to process. “You really think about me?”
“Why is that hard for you to believe?”
“Well, look at me,” I said, unnecessarily, as she already was. “I’m absolutely ordinary—well, except for bad things like all the near-death experiences and being so uncoordinated that I can barely walk. And look at you.” I waved my free hand toward her and all her unsettling perfection.
She smiled a slow smile. It started small but ended with the full array of dimples—like the grand finale at the end of a fireworks show on the Fourth of July.
“I can’t argue with you about the bad things.”
“Well, there you go.”
“But you’re the least ordinary person I’ve ever met.”
Our eyes held for a long moment. Mine searched hers, as I tried to believe she could see something important enough to keep her here. It always felt like she was just about to slip away, to disappear like she was only a myth after all.
“But why…” I didn’t know how to phrase it.
She tilted her head, waiting.
“Last night…” I stopped and shook my head.
She frowned. “Do you do that on purpose? The unfinished thought as a way to drive me mad?”
“I don’t know if I can explain it right.”
I took a deep breath. “Okay. You’re claiming I don’t bore you and you aren’t thinking of moving on to Jeremy anytime soon.”
She nodded, fighting a grin.
“But last night… it was like…” She was anxious now. The rest came out in a rush. “Like you were already looking for a way to say goodbye.”
“Perceptive,” she whispered. And there was the anguish again, surfacing as she confirmed my worst fear.
Her fingers ever so gently squeezed mine.
“Those two things are unrelated, however.”
“Which two things?”
“The depth of my feelings for you, and the necessity of leaving. Well, they are related, but inversely.”
The necessity of leaving. My stomach plunged. “I don’t understand.”
She stared into my eyes again, and hers burned, mesmerizing. Her voice was barely audible. “The more I care about you, the more crucial it is that I find a way to… keep you safe. From me. Leaving would be the right thing to do.”
I shook my head. “No.”
She took a deep breath, and her eyes seemed to darken in an odd way. “Well, I wasn’t very good at leaving you alone when I tried. I don’t know how to do it.”
“Will you do me a favor? Stop trying to figure that one out.”
She half-smiled. “I suppose, given the frequency of your near-death experiences, it’s actually safer for me to stay close.”
“True story. You never know when another rogue van might attack.”
“You’re still going to Seattle with me, right? Lots of vans in Seattle. Waiting in ambush around literally every corner.”
“Actually, I have a question for you on that subject. Did you really need to go to Seattle this Saturday, or was that just an excuse to get out of saying a definitive no to your bevy of admirers?”
“That’s what I thought.”
“You know, you actually put me in kind of a difficult position with the whole thing in the parking lot with Taylor.”
“You mean because you’re taking her to prom now?”