Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 80)
She raised her hand to my face, then ran her fingers quickly through my hair.
“Tell me,” I breathed.
“I don’t know if I can. You know, on the one hand, the hunger—the thirst—that, being what I am, I feel for you. And I think you can understand that, to an extent. Though”—and she half-smiled—“as you are not addicted to any illegal substances, you probably can’t empathize completely.
“But…” Her fingers touched my lips lightly, and my heart raced. “There are other things I want, other hungers. Hungers I don’t even understand myself.”
“I might understand that better than you think.”
“I’m not used to feeling so human. Is it always like this?”
“For me?” I paused. “No, never. Never before this.”
She put her hands on both sides of my face. “I don’t know how to be close to you. I don’t know if I can.”
I put my hand over hers, then leaned forward slowly till my forehead was touching hers.
“This is enough,” I sighed, closing my eyes.
We sat like that for a moment, and then her fingers moved into my hair. She angled her face up and pressed her lips to my forehead. The rhythm of my pulse exploded into a jagged sprint.
“You’re a lot better at this than you give yourself credit for,” I said when I could speak again.
She leaned away, taking my hands again. “I was born with human instincts—they may be buried deep, but they exist.”
We stared at each other for another immeasurable moment; I wondered if she was as unwilling to move as I was. But the light was fading, the shadows of the trees almost touching us.
“You have to go.”
“I thought you couldn’t read my mind.”
She smiled. “It’s getting clearer.”
A sudden excitement flared in her eyes. “Can I show you something?”
She grinned. “How about a faster way back to the truck?”
I looked at her warily.
“Don’t you want to see how I travel in the forest?” she pressed. “I promise it’s safe.”
“Will you… turn into a bat?”
She burst into laughter. “Like I haven’t heard that one before!”
“Right, I’m sure you get that all the time.”
She was on her feet in another invisibly fast motion. She offered me her hand, and I jumped up next to her. She whirled around and looked back at me over her shoulder.
“Climb on my back.”
I blinked. “Huh?”
“Don’t be a coward, Beau, I promise this won’t hurt.”
She stood there waiting with her back toward me, totally serious.
“Edythe, I don’t… I mean, how?”
She spun back to me, one eyebrow raised. “Surely you’re familiar with the concept of a piggyback ride?”
I shrugged. “Sure, but…”
“What’s the problem, then?”
“Well… you’re so small.”
She blew out an exasperated breath, then vanished. This time I felt the wind from her passage. A second later, she was back with a boulder in one hand.
An actual boulder. One that she must have ripped out of the ground, because the bottom half was covered in clinging dirt and spidery roots. It would be as high as her waist if she set it down. She tilted her head to one side.
“That’s not what I meant. I’m not saying you’re not strong enough—”
She flipped the boulder lightly over her shoulder, and it sailed well past the edge of the forest and then crashed down to earth with the sound of shattering wood and stone.
“Obviously,” I went on. “But I… How would I fit?” I looked at my too-long legs and then back to her delicate frame.
She turned her back to me again. “Trust me.”
Feeling like the stupidest, most awkward person in all of history, I hesitantly put my arms around her neck.
“Come on,” she said impatiently. She reached back with one hand and grabbed my leg, yanking my knee up past her hip.
But she already had my other leg, and instead of toppling backward, she easily supported my weight. She moved my legs into position around her waist. My face was burning, and I knew I must look like a gorilla on a greyhound.
“Am I hurting you?”
Embarrassed as I was, I was also very aware that my arms and legs were wrapped tightly around her slender body.
Suddenly she grabbed my hand and pressed my palm to her face. She inhaled deeply.
“Easier all the time,” she said.
And then she was running.
For the first time, I felt actual fear for my life. Terror.
She streaked through the forest like a bullet, like a ghost. There was no sound, no evidence that her feet ever touched the ground. Her breathing never changed, never indicated any effort. But the trees flew by at deadly speeds, always missing us by inches.
I was too shocked to close my eyes, though the cool air whipped against my face and burned them. It felt like I was sticking my head out the window of an airplane in flight.
Then it was over. We’d hiked hours this morning to reach Edythe’s meadow, and now, in a matter of minutes—not even minutes, seconds—we were back to the truck.
“Exhilarating, isn’t it?” Her voice was high, excited.
She stood motionless, waiting for me to unwind my legs and step away from her. I did try, but I couldn’t get my muscles to unfreeze. My arms and legs stayed locked while my head spun uncomfortably.