*by Stephenie Meyer*
TWILIGHT - chapter 17 - THE GAME
He threw mw across his back as he had before, and I could see the extra effort ot tok for him to be as gentle as he was. I locked my legs around his waist and secured my arms in a choke hold around his neck.
"Don't forget to close your eyes," he warned severely.
I quickly tucked my face into his shoulder blade, under my own arm, and squeezed my eyes shut.
And I could hardly tell we were moving. I could feel him gliding along beneath me, but he could have been strolling down the sidewalk, the movement was so smooth. I was tempted to peek, just to see if he was really flying through the forest like before, but I resisted. It wasn't worth that awful dizziness. I contented myself with listening to his breath come and go evenly.
I wasn't quite sure we had stopped until he reached back and touched my hair.
"It's over, Bella."
I dared to open my eyes, and, sure enough, we were at a standstill. I stiffly unlocked my stranglehold on his body and slipped to the ground, landing on my backside.
"Oh!" I huffed as I hit the wet ground.
He stared at me incredulously, evidently not sure whether he was still too mad to fing me funny. But my bewildered expression pushed him over the edge, and he broke into a roar of laughter.
I picked myself up, ignoring him as I brushed the mud and bracken off the back of my jacket. That only made him laugh harder. Annoyed, I began to stride off into the forest.
I felt his arm around my waist.
"Where are آپ going, Bella?"
"To watch a baseball game. آپ don't seem to be interested in playing anymore, but I'm sure the others will have fun without you.
"You're going the wrong way."
I turned around without looking at him, and stalked off in the opposite direction. He caught me again.
"Don't be mad, I couldn't help myself. آپ should have seen your face." He chuckled before he could stop himself.
"Oh, you're the only one who's allowed to get mad?" I asked, raising my eyebrows.
"I wasn't mad at you."
"'Bella, you'll be the death of me'?" I quoted sourly.
"That was simply a statement of fact."
I tried to turn away from him again, but he held me fast.
"You were mad," I insisted.
"But آپ just کہا - "
"That I wasn't mad at you. Can't آپ see that, Bella?" He was suddenly intense, all trace of teasing gone. "Don't آپ understand?"
"See what?" I demanded, confused سے طرف کی his sudden mood سوئنگ, جھول as much as his words.
"I'm never angry with آپ - how could I be? Brave, trusting... warm as آپ are."
"Then why?" I whispered, remembering the black moods that pulled him away from me, that I'd always interpreted as well-justified frustration - frustration at my weakness, my slowness, my unruly human reactions....
He put his hands carefully on both sides of my face. "I infuriate myself," he کہا gently. "The way I can't seem to keep from putting آپ in danger. My very existance puts آپ at risk. Sometimes I truly hate myself. I should be stronger, I should be able to - "
I placed my hand over his mouth. "Don't."
He took my hand, moving it from his lips, but holding it to his face.
"I love you," he said. "It's a poor excuse for what I'm doing, but it's still true."
It was the first time he'd کہا he loved me - in so many words. He might not realize it, but I certainly did.
"Now please try to behave yourself," he continued, and he bent softly to brush his lips against mine.
I held properly still. Then I sighed.
"You promised Chief سوان, ہنس that آپ would have me ہوم early, remember? We'd better get going."
He smiled wistfully and released all of me but one hand. He led me a few feet through the tall, wet ferns and draping moss, around a massive hemlock tree, and we were there, on the edge of an enormous open field in the lap of the Olympic peaks. It was twice the size of any baseball stadium.
I could see the others all there: Esme, Emmett, and Rosalie, sitting on a bare outcropping of rock, were the closest to us, maybe a hundred yards away. Much farther out I could see Jasper and Alice, at least a quarter of a mile apart, appearing to throw something back and forth, but I never saw any ball. It looked like Carlisle was marking the bases, but could they really be that far apart?
When we came into view, the three on the rocks rose.Esme started toward us. Emmett followed after a long look at Rosalie's back; Rosalie had risen gracefully and strode off toward the field without a glance in our direction. My stomach quivered uneasily in response.
"Was that آپ we heard, Edward?" Esme asked as she approached.
"It sounded like a برداشت, ریچھ choking," Emmett clarified.
I smiled hesitantly at Esme. "That was him."
"Bella was being unintentionally funny," Edward explained, quickly settling the score.
Alice had left her position and was running, یا dancing, toward us. She hurtled to a fluid stop at our feet. "It's time," she announced.
As soon as she spoke, a deep rumble of thunder shook the forest beyond us, and then crashed westward toward town.
"Eerie, isn't it?" Emmett کہا with easy familiarity, winking at me.
"Let's go." Alice reached for Emmett's hand and they darted toward the oversized field; she ran like a gazelle. He was nearly as graceful and jsut as fast - yet Emmett could never be compared to a gazelle.
"Are آپ ready for some ball?" Edward asked, his eyes eager, bright.
I tried to sound appropriately, enthusiastic. "Go team!"
He snickered and, and mussing my hair, bounded off after the other two. His run was مزید aggressive, a cheetah rather than a gazelle, and he quickly overtook them. The grace and power took my breath away.
"Shall we go down?" Esme asked in her soft, melodic voice, and I realized I was staring openmouthed after him. I quickly reassembled my expression and nodded. Esme kept a few feet between us, and I wondered if she was still being careful not to frighten me. She matched her stride to mine without seeming impatient at the pace.
"You don't play with them?" I asked shyly.
"No, I prefer to referee - I like keeping them honest," she explained.
"Do they like to cheat, then?"
"Oh yes - آپ should hear the arguments they get into! Actually, I hope آپ don't, آپ would think they were raised سے طرف کی a pack of wolves."
"You sound like my mom," I laughed, surprised.
She laughed, too. "Well, I do think of them as my children in most ways. I never could get over my mothering instincts - did Edward tell آپ I had lost a child?"
"No," I murmured, stunned, scrambling to understand what lifetime she was remembering.
"Yes, my first and only baby. He died just a few days after he was born, the poor tiny thing," she sighed. "It broke my دل - that's why I jumped off the cliff, آپ know," she added matter-of-factly.
"Edward just کہا آپ f-fell," I stammered.
"Always the gentleman." She smiled. "Edward was the first of my new sons. I've always thought of him that way, aven though he's older than I am, in one way at least." She smiled at me warmly. "That's why I'm so happy that he's found you, dear." The endearment sounded very natural on her lips. "He's been the odd man out for far too long; it's hurt me to see him alone."
"You don't mind, then?" I asked, hesitant again. "That I'm... all wrong for him?"
"No." She was thoughtful. "You're what he wants. It will work out, somehow," she said, thought her forehead creased with worry. Another peal of thunder began.
Esme stopped then; apparently, we'd reached the edge of the field. It looked as if they had formed teams. Edward was far out in left field, Carlisle stood between the first and سیکنڈ bases, and Alice held the ball, positioned on the spot that must be the pitcher's mound.
Emmett was swinging an aluminum bat; it whistled almost untraceably through the air. I waited for him to approach ہوم plate, but then I realized, as he took his stance, that he was already there - farther from the pitcher's mound than I would have thought possible. Jasper stood several feet behind him, catching for the other team. Of course, none of them had gloves.