Bella’s body, streaming with red, started to twitch, jerking around in Rosalie’s arms like she was being electrocuted. All the while, her face was blank—unconscious. It was the wild thrashing from inside the center of her body that moved her. As she convulsed, sharp snaps and cracks kept time with the spasms.
Rosalie and Edward were frozen for the shortest half second, and then they broke. Rosalie whipped Bella’s body into her arms, and, shouting so fast it was hard to separate the individual words, she and Edward shot up the staircase to the second floor.
I sprinted after them.
“Morphine!” Edward yelled at Rosalie.
“Alice—get Carlisle on the phone!” Rosalie screeched.
The room I followed them to looked like an emergency ward set up in the middle of a library. The lights were brilliant and white. Bella was on a table under the glare, skin ghostly in the spotlight. Her body flopped, a fish on the sand. Rosalie pinned Bella down, yanking and ripping her clothes out of the way, while Edward stabbed a syringe into her arm.
How many times had I imagined her naked? Now I couldn’t look. I was afraid to have these memories in my head.
“What’s happening , Edward?”
“The placenta must have detached!”
Somewhere in this, Bella came around. She responded to their words with a shriek that clawed at my eardrums.
“Get him OUT!” she screamed. “He can’t BREATHE! Do it NOW!”
I saw the red spots pop out when her scream broke the blood vessels in her eyes.
“The morphine—,” Edward growled.
“NO! NOW—!” Another gush of blood choked off what she was shrieking. He held her head up, desperately trying to clear her mouth so that she could breathe again.
Alice darted into the room and clipped a little blue earpiece under Rosalie’s hair. Then Alice backed away, her gold eyes wide and burning, while Rosalie hissed frantically into the phone.
In the bright light, Bella’s skin seemed more purple and black than it was white. Deep red was seeping beneath the skin over the huge, shuddering bulge of her stomach. Rosalie’s hand came up with a scalpel.
“Let the morphine spread!” Edward shouted at her.
“There’s no time,” Rosalie hissed. “He’s dying!”
Her hand came down on Bella’s stomach, and vivid red spouted out from where she pierced the skin. It was like a bucket being turned over, a faucet twisted to full. Bella jerked, but didn’t scream. She was still choking.
And then Rosalie lost her focus. I saw the expression on her face shift, saw her lips pull back from her teeth and her black eyes glint with thirst.
“No, Rose!” Edward roared, but his hands were trapped, trying to prop Bella upright so she could breathe.
I launched myself at Rosalie, jumping across the table without bothering to phase. As I hit her stone body, knocking her toward the door, I felt the scalpel in her hand stab deep into my left arm. My right palm smashed against her face, locking her jaw and blocking her airways.
I used my grip on Rosalie’s face to swing her body out so that I could land a solid kick in her gut; it was like kicking concrete. She flew into the door frame, buckling one side of it. The little speaker in her ear crackled into pieces. Then Alice was there, yanking her by the throat to get her into the hall.
And I had to give it to Blondie—she didn’t put up an ounce of fight. She wanted us to win. She let me trash her like that, to save Bella. Well, to save the thing.
I ripped the blade out of my arm.
“Alice, get her out of here!” Edward shouted. “Take her to Jasper and keep her there! Jacob, I need you!”
I didn’t watch Alice finish the job. I wheeled back to the operating table, where Bella was turning blue, her eyes wide and staring.
“CPR?” Edward growled at me, fast and demanding.
I judged his face swiftly, looking for any sign that he was going to react like Rosalie. There was nothing but single-minded ferocity.
“Get her breathing! I’ve got to get him out before—”
Another shattering crack inside her body, the loudest yet, so loud that we both froze in shock waiting for her answering shriek. Nothing. Her legs, which had been curled up in agony, now went limp, sprawling out in an unnatural way.
“Her spine,” he choked in horror.
“Get it out of her!” I snarled, flinging the scalpel at him. “She won’t feel anything now!”
And then I bent over her head. Her mouth looked clear, so I pressed mine to hers and blew a lungful of air into it. I felt her twitching body expand, so there was nothing blocking her throat.
Her lips tasted like blood.
I could hear her heart, thumping unevenly. Keep it going, I thought fiercely at her, blowing another gust of air into her body. You promised. Keep your heart beating.
I heard the soft, wet sound of the scalpel across her stomach. More blood dripping to the floor.
The next sound jolted through me, unexpected, terrifying. Like metal being shredded apart. The sound brought back the fight in the clearing so many months ago, the tearing sound of the newborns being ripped apart. I glanced over to see Edward’s face pressed against the bulge. Vampire teeth—a surefire way to cut through vampire skin.
I shuddered as I blew more air into Bella.
She coughed back at me, her eyes blinking, rolling blindly.
“You stay with me now, Bella!” I yelled at her. “Do you hear me? Stay! You’re not leaving me. Keep your heart beating!”
Her eyes wheeled, looking for me, or him, but seeing nothing.
I stared into them anyway, keeping my gaze locked there.
And then her body was suddenly still under my hands, though her breathing picked up roughly and her heart continued to thud. I realized the stillness meant that it was over. The internal beating was over. It must be out of her.
Edward whispered, “Renesmee.”
So Bella’d been wrong. It wasn’t the boy she’d imagined. No big surprise there. What hadn’t she been wrong about?
I didn’t look away from her red-spotted eyes, but I felt her hands lift weakly.
“Let me…,” she croaked in a broken whisper. “Give her to me.”
I guess I should have known that he would always give her what she wanted, no matter how stupid her request might be. But I didn’t dream he would listen to her now. So I didn’t think to stop him.
Something warm touched my arm. That right there should have caught my attention. Nothing felt warm to me.
But I couldn’t look away from Bella’s face. She blinked and then stared, finally seeing something. She moaned out a strange, weak croon.
“Renes… mee. So… beautiful.”
And then she gasped—gasped in pain.
By the time I looked, it was too late. Edward had snatched the warm, bloody thing out of her limp arms. My eyes flickered across her skin. It was red with blood—the blood that had flowed from her mouth, the blood smeared all over the creature, and fresh blood welling out of a tiny double-crescent bite mark just over her left breast.
“No, Renesmee,” Edward murmured, like he was teaching the monster manners.
I didn’t look at him or it. I watched only Bella as her eyes rolled back into her head.
With a last dull ga-lump , her heart faltered and went silent.
She missed maybe half of one beat, and then my hands were on her chest, doing compressions. I counted in my head, trying to keep the rhythm steady. One. Two. Three. Four.
Breaking away for a second, I blew another lungful of air into her.
I couldn’t see anymore. My eyes were wet and blurry. But I was hyperaware of the sounds in the room. The unwilling glug-glug of her heart under my demanding hands, the pounding of my own heart, and another—a fluttering beat that was too fast, too light. I couldn’t place it.
I forced more air down Bella’s throat.
“What are you waiting for?” I choked out breathlessly, pumping her heart again. One. Two. Three. Four.
“Take the baby,” Edward said urgently.
“Throw it out the window.” One. Two. Three. Four.
“Give her to me,” a low voice chimed from the doorway.
Edward and I snarled at the same time.
One. Two. Three. Four.
“I’ve got it under control,” Rosalie promised. “Give me the baby, Edward. I’ll take care of her until Bella . . .”
I breathed for Bella again while the exchange took place. The fluttering thumpa-thumpa-thumpa faded away with distance.
“Move your hands, Jacob.”
I looked up from Bella’s white eyes, still pumping her heart for her. Edward had a syringe in his hand—all silver, like it was made from steel.
His stone hand knocked mine out of the way. There was a tiny crunch as his blow broke my little finger. In the same second, he shoved the needle straight into her heart.
“My venom,” he answered as he pushed the plunger down.
I heard the jolt in her heart, like he’d shocked her with paddles.
“Keep it moving,” he ordered. His voice was ice, was dead. Fierce and unthinking. Like he was a machine.
I ignored the healing ache in my finger and started pumping her heart again. It was harder, as if her blood was congealing there—thicker and slower. While I pushed the now-viscous blood through her arteries, I watched what he was doing.
It was like he was kissing her, brushing his lips at her throat, at her wrists, into the crease at the inside of her arm. But I could hear the lush tearing of her skin as his teeth bit through, again and again, forcing venom into her system at as many points as possible. I saw his pale tongue sweep along the bleeding gashes, but before this could make me either sick or angry, I realized what he was doing. Where his tongue washed the venom over her skin, it sealed shut. Holding the poison and the blood inside her body.
I blew more air into her mouth, but there was nothing there. Just the lifeless rise of her chest in response. I kept pumping her heart, counting, while he worked manically over her, trying to put her back together. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men…
But there was nothing there, just me, just him.
Working over a corpse.
Because that’s all that was left of the girl we both loved. This broken, bled-out, mangled corpse. We couldn’t put Bella together again.
I knew it was too late. I knew she was dead. I knew it for sure because the pull was gone. I didn’t feel any reason to be here beside her. She wasn’t here anymore. So this body had no more draw for me. The senseless need to be near her had vanished.
Or maybe moved was the better word. It seemed like I felt the pull from the opposite direction now. From down the stairs, out the door. The longing to get away from here and never, ever come back.
“Go, then,” he snapped, and he hit my hands out of the way again, taking my place this time. Three fingers broken, it felt like.
I straightened them numbly, not minding the throb of pain.
He pushed her dead heart faster than I had.
“She’s not dead,” he growled. “She’s going to be fine.”
I wasn’t sure he was talking to me anymore.
Turning away, leaving him with his dead, I walked slowly to the door. So slowly. I couldn’t make my feet move faster.
This was it, then. The ocean of pain. The other shore so far away across the boiling water that I couldn’t imagine it, much less see it.
I felt empty again, now that I’d lost my purpose. Saving Bella had been my fight for so long now. And she wouldn’t be saved. She’d willingly sacrificed herself to be torn apart by that monster’s young, and so the fight was lost. It was all over.
I shuddered at the sound coming from behind me as I plodded down the stairs—the sound of a dead heart being forced to thud.
I wanted to somehow pour bleach inside my head and let it fry my brain. To burn away the images left from Bella’s final minutes. I’d take the brain damage if I could get rid of that—the screaming, the bleeding, the unbearable crunching and snapping as the newborn monster tore through her from the inside out. . . .
I wanted to sprint away, to take the stairs ten at a time and race out the door, but my feet were heavy as iron and my body was more tired than it had ever been before. I shuffled down the stairs like a crippled old man.
I rested at the bottom step, gathering my strength to get out the door.
Rosalie was on the clean end of the white sofa, her back to me, cooing and murmuring to the blanket-wrapped thing in her arms. She must have heard me pause, but she ignored me, caught up in her moment of stolen motherhood. Maybe she would be happy now. Rosalie had what she wanted, and Bella would never come to take the creature from her. I wondered if that’s what the poisonous blonde had been hoping for all along.
She held something dark in her hands, and there was a greedy sucking sound coming from the tiny murderer she held.
The scent of blood in the air. Human blood. Rosalie was feeding it. Of course it would want blood. What else would you feed the kind of monster that would brutally mutilate its own mother? It might as well have been drinking Bella’s blood. Maybe it was.
My strength came back to me as I listened to the sound of the little executioner feeding.
Strength and hate and heat—red heat washing through my head, burning but erasing nothing. The images in my head were fuel, building up the inferno but refusing to be consumed. I felt the tremors rock me from head to toe, and I did not try to stop them.
Rosalie was totally absorbed in the creature, paying no attention to me at all. She wouldn’t be quick enough to stop me, distracted as she was.
Sam had been right. The thing was an aberration—its existence went against nature. A black, soulless demon. Something that had no right to be.
Something that had to be destroyed.
It seemed like the pull had not been leading to the door after all. I could feel it now, encouraging me, tugging me forward. Pushing me to finish this, to cleanse the world of this abomination.
Rosalie would try to kill me when the creature was dead, and I would fight back. I wasn’t sure if I would have time to finish her before the others came to help. Maybe, maybe not. I didn’t much care either way.
I didn’t care if the wolves, either set, avenged me or called the Cullens’ justice fair. None of that mattered. All I cared about was my own justice. My revenge. The thing that had killed Bella would not live another minute longer.
If Bella’d survived, she would have hated me for this. She would have wanted to kill me personally.
But I didn’t care. She didn’t care what she had done to me—letting herself be slaughtered like an animal. Why should I take her feelings into account?
And then there was Edward. He must be too busy now—too far gone in his insane denial, trying to reanimate a corpse—to listen to my plans.
So I wouldn’t get the chance to keep my promise to him, unless—and it was not a wager I’d put money on—I managed to win the fight against Rosalie, Jasper, and Alice, three on one. But even if I did win, I didn’t think I had it in me to kill Edward.
Because I didn’t have enough compassion for that. Why should I let him get away from what he’d done? Wouldn’t it be more fair—more satisfying—to let him live with nothing, nothing at all?
It made me almost smile, as filled with hate as I was, to imagine it. No Bella. No killer spawn. And also missing as many members of his family as I was able to take down. Of course, he could probably put those back together, since I wouldn’t be around to burn them. Unlike Bella, who would never be whole again.
I wondered if the creature could be put back together. I doubted it. It was part Bella, too—so it must have inherited some of her vulnerability. I could hear that in the tiny, thrumming beat of its heart.
Its heart was beating. Hers wasn’t.
Only a second had passed as I made these easy decisions.
The trembling was getting tighter and faster. I coiled myself, preparing to spring at the blond vampire and rip the murderous thing from her arms with my teeth.
Rosalie cooed at the creature again, setting the empty metal bottle-thing aside and lifting the creature into the air to nuzzle her face against its cheek.
Perfect. The new position was perfect for my strike. I leaned forward and felt the heat begin to change me while the pull toward the killer grew—it was stronger than I’d ever felt it before, so strong it reminded me of an Alpha’s command, like it would crush me if I didn’t obey.
This time I wanted to obey.
The murderer stared past Rosalie’s shoulder at me, its gaze more focused than any newborn creature’s gaze should be.
Warm brown eyes, the color of milk chocolate—the exact same color that Bella’s had been.
My shaking jerked to a stop; heat flooded through me, stronger than before, but it was a new kind of heat—not a burning.
It was a glowing.
Everything inside me came undone as I stared at the tiny porcelain face of the half-vampire, half-human baby. All the lines that held me to my life were sliced apart in swift cuts, like clipping the strings to a bunch of balloons. Everything that made me who I was—my love for the dead girl upstairs, my love for my father, my loyalty to my new pack, the love for my other brothers, my hatred for my enemies, my home, my name, my self —disconnected from me in that second—snip, snip, snip —and floated up into space.
I was not left drifting. A new string held me where I was.
Not one string, but a million. Not strings, but steel cables. A million steel cables all tying me to one thing—to the very center of the universe.
I could see that now—how the universe swirled around this one point. I’d never seen the symmetry of the universe before, but now it was plain.
The gravity of the earth no longer tied me to the place where I stood.
It was the baby girl in the blond vampire’s arms that held me here now.
From upstairs, there was a new sound. The only sound that could touch me in this endless instant.
A frantic pounding, a racing beat…
A changing heart.