What did he mean by that? Should she be scared or outraged?
He could easily grab her and hide her away … make her disappear.
Thoughts of being kept by another vampire froze the marrow of her bones. Memories of having everything, from what she put on her body to what she put in her body, chosen for her sent that flash of cold fury streaking through her veins.
Apparently, she settled on pissed off.
She planted her hands on his chest and shoved.
Thankfully, he decided to go along with it or she’d have hurt herself.
“Hit a nerve, sugar?” Peter combed his fingers through his hair, set his hat back on his head, and raised one eyebrow in question.
“I … you ….” Fuming, she glared at him as she sat up and wrapped her arms around her bent knees. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Okay. I’ll wait.” He leaned back on his elbows and crossed one ankle over the other. “’Nother train after this one. Let’s just watch ‘em for a while.”
She was a little taken aback when he didn’t try to insist that she tell him what was on her mind. Edward would have poked and prodded and cajoled her. If that hadn’t worked, he’d have batted his eyelashes and pouted until she gave in and did what he wanted. Or would have done that dazzling thing he did.
Alice had been no different with her big tear-filled eyes and trembling lower lip.
It wasn’t the first time she compared them both to doted upon toddlers.
Peter was not Edward Cullen, and she had to remember that. Just like all humans weren’t alike, neither were vampires. But her time with the favored Cullen children had taught her to spot a pampered prince and princess a mile away. Somehow, they were all alike, whether they were flesh and blood or pale as marble, and they all used the same little ploys.
Perhaps Peter was using a different tactic—allowing her to live long enough to satisfy his curiosity about her scar before he killed her.
Regardless, there wasn’t much she could do about it.
They lived so long; any new thing they came across had to be fascinating to them. Like the hundred-year-old high school boy, was she just a momentary distraction to Peter?
She hoped she wasn’t. Maybe he was just curious about the girl who survived a vampire attack and would wander off again after he’d heard about it.
There was a part of her that didn’t want him to up and leave after hearing the story.
She didn’t want to die either.
If all he wanted was the details, he could have forced her to tell him. Maybe all he did want was someone to share a quiet evening with.
Following the tail end of the train as it clattered on down the track, she surreptitiously studied the silent vampire lounging in the stubbly grass and weeds. He hadn’t been transformed at the brink of adulthood—he’d been a man when he’d been attacked.
In a way, he reminded her of Carlisle and Jasper. It wasn’t just the blond hair, although his was even lighter than theirs. They had both been young men when they were bitten and changed, but they had been leading adult lives. Esme had been a married woman. Pregnant with her first child when she’d bravely struck out on her own to get away from the abusive husband and try to make a better life for her and her child.
Even Emmett had been working to support his family.
Responsibilities added a certain character and strength to a person’s face she hadn’t been aware of when she was a child of seventeen and first met Edward.
Peter looked more like he was closer to Esme’s age. Maybe older. What kind of life had he been stolen from?
When Alice crossed her mind again, she felt a fleeting pang of guilt, but it didn’t last long. Alice hadn’t been given a chance to really grow up when she had been put in the asylum, though the girl was more than intelligent enough to know what she was doing. She’d had decades to practice her little games. They had worked well on the teenage Bella.
Despite Bella’s flair of resentment, and the unavoidable fact there was a deadly predator not five feet away from her, the distant low whistle of the next train approaching from the west caused her to inhale deeply with quiet expectancy. It was soon in front of them and its rhythmic tickety-tickety lulled her into the familiar, and welcome, state of relaxation.
When Peter turned his head to follow the path of the dark-colored engine, he smiled knowingly at her and raised his eyebrows.
She hadn’t even realized she’d been staring at him. With a resurgence of her ire, she wasn’t embarrassed in the least at being caught. “I don’t need a vampire to keep me. I can take care of myself.”
“I can see that.” He sat up and lifted Bella’s pistol from his far side. He placed it on the ground between them.
That wasn’t what she’d expected him to say. She hadn’t expected to see her gun again either. She carefully took it and slid it back into its holster. “Um, thanks. Is Peter your real name?”
“Yes, ma’am,” he replied with a slight upward tilt of his head.
“Do you have a last name?”
“Several.” He plucked a long stalk of field grass from in front of him and ran his index finger and thumb down its length until he reached the bottle brush-like end. “A lot of times, we vampires don’t remember much of our human lives. I don’t remember what my last name was, so I’ve used a few different ones when I needed ‘em for one reason or another.”
Bella just nodded and scooted back until she came in contact with the tree she’d been leaning against before.
They sat quietly, keeping their thoughts to themselves, while numerous steel box cars headed to the east.
After a third train had gone by, Bella groaned and stood up, stretching out her arms and cracking her back. Neither one of them had said a word for quite a while, but it hadn’t been uncomfortable or awkward. It had actually been nice, though she was unsure of what would happen next. If she made an attempt to get back home, would he let her? “Well, Peter, it’s getting late. Meeting you was the most excitement I’ve had for a while, and I’m kind of tired.” Starting to feel anxious, she pulled her flannel shirt closed and wrapped her arms around her middle. “Are you … can I go home?”
He smiled up at her. “You can do whatever you want, sugar.”
The next moment, he was standing in front of her and taking his hat off with his left hand while he held his right out toward her.
She flinched at the sudden movement. Once again, she was surprised at how fast vampires could move. She studied his hand for a moment and then peered up into his eyes. He was taller than Edward, she noticed, and his actions hadn’t been threatening in any way. He was waiting, an expectant gleam in his eye.
Finally, she realized what he was waiting for. Uncertainly, she reached out. When her fingertips touched his palm, he bowed over her hand and placed a feather-light kiss on her fingers.
“Miss Bella, I had a most pleasant evenin’ in your company. May I escort you home?”
What would happen if she refused? Would he let her go? He could just let her leave because he wouldn’t have any trouble following her. If she somehow managed to lose him along the road, he’d probably be able to find her scent and be at her house before she was.
All she read in his face was … anticipation? Was he truly asking permission?
Bella knew what good liars they could be, but she felt she could trust him not to hurt her.
At least until he got his story.
When she realized several minutes had passed, and she hadn’t answered him and was still holding his hand, she snatched hers away. His skin wasn’t as perfectly smooth as Edward’s. Could vampires get callouses? No. He must have worked hard when he was a human. She ducked her head in embarrassment. She had liked it.
“Y-yes.” Bella gestured down the hill. “My truck is parked down there.”
Replacing his hat on his head, Peter smiled warmly at her and offered his arm.
Fingers resting lightly on his forearm, Bella walked beside him, watching where she put her feet instead of him.
Halfway down the slope, Peter came to an abrupt stop, his eyes wide.
Checking all around them for any sign of danger, Bella didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. There were no cars coming, and she didn’t see any lights heading toward them. There were no sounds except for the little night creatures. “What’s the matter?”
Letting out an exaggerated discouraged sigh, Peter dropped his chin to his chest. “A Toyota?”