3-8 Forks, Washington

Charlie forbade Edward from visiting more than two hours at a time after I brought him and Bella back from Italy. So he was forced to spend more time at home.

One afternoon, I found him sitting in the backyard breaking twigs. They started out feet long, and then snapped in half, and in half, and in half, and in half. Methodically, rhythmically, like another piano concerto, just one played on wood.

When he finally got them small enough, he crushed them between his forefinger and thumb.

I sat down beside him in the grass. He didn’t say anything, just kept breaking the twigs. When he ran out of them, he disappeared into the woods, came back with more, and kept going.

Two hours later, he finished pulverizing one and murmured, “It’s different now.”

“Because of Jacob?” I asked.

He shrugged and snapped a few more.

“What would have happened, Alice?” he whispered at last. “If we’d stayed?”

I shook my head.

“I know you saw it. When I was deciding what to do.”

And he was right, because of course I was watching over him that night. The way he raced to the top of Mt. Olympus, and screamed against the howling wind. The pain that was coming if we left. The joy that would come if we stayed.

But there was joy now, too. There was joy coming. It was just going to be much harder won.

I put my arm over his shoulder.

“Now is what matters, Edward.”

His shoulders trembled a little, but then he coughed and sat up straighter.

“Now isn’t certain.”

I squeezed him, and for once, he didn’t run.

“Now is never certain,” was all I said.


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