Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 61)

My mouth fell open, and then I ground my teeth together.

She was trying not to laugh now. “Oh, Beau.”

I could tell there was more. “What?”

“She already has her dress.”

I had no words for that.

She must have read the panic in my eyes. “It could be worse—she actually bought it before she claimed you for the date. It was secondhand, also, not a large investment. She couldn’t pass up the deal.”

I still couldn’t talk. She squeezed my hand again. “You’ll figure it out.”

“I don’t do dances,” I said sadly.

“If I’d asked you to the spring dance, would you have told me no?”

I looked at her long gold eyes and tried to imagine refusing her anything she wanted. “Probably not, but I would have found a reason to cancel later. I would have broken my leg if I had to.”

She looked mystified. “Why would you do that?”

I shook my head sadly. “You’ve never seen me in Gym, I guess, but I would have thought you would understand.”

“Are you referring to the fact that you can’t walk across a flat, stable surface without finding something to trip over?”

“Got it in one.”

“I’m a very good teacher, Beau.”

“I don’t think coordination is a learnable skill.”

She shook her head. “Back to the question. Must you go to Seattle, or would you mind if we did something different?”

As long as the we part was in, I didn’t care about anything else.

“I’m open to alternatives,” I allowed. “But I do have another favor to ask.”

She looked wary, like she always did when I asked an open-ended question. “What?”

“Can I drive?”

She frowned. “Why?”

“Well, mostly because you’re a terrifying driver. But also because I told Charlie I was going alone, and I don’t want him to get curious.”

She rolled her eyes. “Of all the things about me that could frighten you, you worry about my driving.” She shook her head in disgust, but then her eyes were serious again. “Won’t you want to tell your father that you’re spending the day with me?” There was an undercurrent to her question that I didn’t understand.

“With Charlie, less is always more.” I was definite about that. “Where are we going, anyway?”

“Archie says the weather will be nice, so I’ll be staying out of the public eye… and you can stay with me, if you’d like to.” Again, she was leaving the choice up to me.

“And you’ll show me what you meant, about the sun?” I asked, excited by the idea of solving another of the unknowns.

“Yes.” She smiled, then hesitated. “But if you don’t want to be… alone with me, I’d still rather you didn’t go to Seattle by yourself. I shudder to think of all the vans.”

“As it happens, I don’t mind being alone with you.”

“I know,” she sighed. “You should tell Charlie, though.”

I shook my head at the thought of explaining my personal life to Charlie. “Why on earth would I do that?”

Her eyes were suddenly fierce. “To give me some small incentive to bring you back.”

I waited for her to relax. When she didn’t, I said, “I’ll take my chances.”

She exhaled angrily, and looked away.

“So that’s settled. New topic?”

My attempt to change the subject didn’t help much.

“What do you want to talk about?” she asked through her teeth, still annoyed.

I glanced around us, making sure we were well out of anyone’s hearing. In the back corner, Archie was leaning forward, talking to Jessamine. Eleanor sat beside her, but Royal was gone.

“Why did you go to that Goat Rocks place last weekend… to hunt? Charlie said it wasn’t a good place to hike, because of bears.”

She stared at me as if I was missing something very obvious.

“Bears?” I gasped.

She smirked.

“You know, bears are not in season,” I added sternly, to cover my shock.

“If you read carefully, the laws only cover hunting with weapons,” she informed me.

She watched my face with enjoyment as that slowly sank in.

“Bears?” I repeated with difficulty.

“Grizzly is Eleanor’s favorite.” Her voice was still offhand, but her eyes were scrutinizing my reaction. I tried to pull myself together.

“Hmmm,” I said, taking another bite of pizza as an excuse to look down. I chewed slowly, then swallowed.

“So,” I said after a moment. “What’s your favorite?”

She raised an eyebrow and the corners of her mouth turned down like she didn’t approve of my question. “Mountain lion.”

“Sure, that makes sense.” I nodded, like she’d just said something totally normal.

“Of course”—her tone mirrored mine, nothing out of the ordinary—“we have to be careful not to impact the environment with injudicious hunting. We try to focus on areas with an overpopulation of predators—ranging as far away as we need. There are always plenty of deer and elk here, and they’ll do, but where’s the fun in that?”

She smiled.

“So not fun,” I murmured around another bite of pizza.

“Early spring is El’s favorite bear season—they’re just coming out of hibernation, so they’re more irritable.” She smiled at some remembered joke.


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