Chapter 1

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“Wait, Jake!” I called after him. “Please! Don’t do this!”

He paused, turning back to grin at me, while Quil and Embry headed impatiently for the door. “Don’t be stupid, Bella. This is a much better gift than the one I gave you.” He pointed to the silver bracelet holding the reddish brown wolf he’d carved. It was his graduation gift to me.

I knew the graduation party that Alice had planned was a bad idea and it had just gotten worse. Right in the middle of the party, the Cullen home overflowing with the recently graduated seniors of Forks High, Alice had had a vision of the newborns coming to Forks to find me. We knew they were coming for me. Alice had seen one of the newborns carrying the red blouse that had disappeared from my room.

Jake had just given me the bracelet he had made when he saw the blank look steal over Alice’s face. Right before she raced up the stairs to speak with Edward, Carlisle, and Jasper.

Though I had tried to pull my arm from his grasp, Jake wouldn’t let me go without him. Sighing in exasperation, Jake and I, and his pack brothers Quil and Embry, marched up the stairs to Carlisle’s study. As we entered the room, they were discussing battle plans to intercept and defeat the newborns. Jake, eager for a fight and the chance to rip apart Cold Ones, offered to speak to Alpha Sam of the shape shifting wolf pack about joining with the Cullens to fight the newborns.

Jake smirked as he crossed his arms over his wide chest. “You know, those baby leeches wouldn’t be expecting us, and it’d be great to finally meet up with some vampires I’d be allowed to rip to shreds.”

Despite the insults, Jasper’s eyes gleamed with the idea the advantage that adding more than a dozen horse-sized wolves to the fighting unit would bring.

Edward, seeing the possibilities in Jasper’s military trained mind, broke into a broad smile and clapped him on the shoulder.  “Yes! They won’t be expecting it all. They won’t know about the wolves, and it will be utter chaos.”

Jasper’s smile turned sly. “Alice had seen there were twenty-one newborns. Between the seven of us, and the surprise of the wolves, those newborns will be handled.”

Emmett had joined the war conference and clapped his hands together, his face beaming. “It’ll be a piece of cake!”

I looked from Emmett’s eager face, to Jasper’s calculating one, to Jacob’s thoughtful demeanor, and my heart fell.

No! Not Jacob!

To me, the tiny, intricately detailed wolf on my bracelet symbolized Jake and all of his werewolf brothers and sister. It would be so easy to take it between my fingers and crush it into tiny slivers of wood. The same way that army of newborns would crush Jake and his pack.

“No!” I exclaimed. “You can’t do this! None of you can do this! I can’t have you fighting all those newborns for me. I can’t stand it. I can’t lose you!”

Edward came to me and wrapped me in his strong arms. Leaning into his chest, I breathed in his sweet scent of honey and sunshine, but it had no calming effect that time. Dread, and fear of losing him, losing any of them, gripped my heart with its frozen fingers. It was difficult to even breathe.

“Bella.” Edward kissed the top of my head. “The only thing that can stop a vampire is another vampire. Or the wolves. Jake and his pack were born for this. If we join with them, we can easily beat the newborns.”

Jasper slid into my line of sight. “Bella, if we work together with the wolves, those newborns, and whoever created them, will never know what hit them. We can draw them away and keep them from ever reaching Forks. We can ambush and destroy them.” Jasper’s arms went around Alice’s petite frame, and he drew her into his chest.

“But we don’t know who made them.” I hated how my voice sounded pathetic and weak against Edward’s chest.

Jasper reached to touch my shoulder. “It makes no difference who created them, Bella. A newborn vampire is a newborn vampire. They’re strong, blood thirsty, out of control, and ruled by their instincts. But I controlled armies of them for more than fifty years. I know how they are. If we join forces, the newborns’ natural aversion to, and fear of, the wolves will work in our favor.”

I knew Jasper was trying to calm me with his empathic gift, make me understand what they were trying to say, but I was so frantic with the thought of any of them being in danger, it just wasn’t getting through. I was near panic and it felt as if I couldn’t get enough air. I saw Jasper glance up at Edward and Edward gave him a nod.

Jasper stepped away from Alice and placed his right hand against my face. Skin to skin contact was supposed to make his gift stronger, but I couldn’t feel it.

“Bella, look at me.”

Of their own accord, my tear-filled eyes went to Jasper’s golden ones. Edward unclasped his arms from around me and Jasper slid his other hand across my right cheek.

“Bella.” His voice was low and hypnotic.  “You are nearly panicking. Let me help you.”

With my face caught between his large hands, his grip became more firm against my skin.

“I am confident that this will work. We will prevent the newborns from reaching Forks, and we will destroy them.”

I tried to slow my breathing, but it wasn’t working against my fear. “No Jasper! I can’t let any of you be hurt because of me! Jake and the wolves are just teenagers—just boys. They can’t do this!”

“Bella, stop fighting me.” He glanced up. “Edward, I need to knock her out.”

I yanked my face from between Jasper’s hands and stumbled back into Edward. I hadn’t realized he had moved to stand right behind me. My breath was coming faster. I could feel my panic rising.

“Stop it, Jasper! Don’t you dare knock me out!”

“Bella, I don’t need to touch you to knock you out.”

Edward’s cool arms wrapped around me again. “Bella, love, you’re going to hyperventilate. Let Jasper help calm you. You’re breathing too fast, and your heart is racing.”

I pulled away from Edward. He let me go otherwise I would have never been able to get away from him. I stood between him and Jasper, facing Jake, Quil and Embry.

“Jake you can’t do this. Please don’t do this!” I pleaded.  “I don’t know what I would do if anything happened to you.” My breath was coming even faster, and I could feel myself getting lightheaded, but I couldn’t let Jake and the other wolves get involved.

Jacob’s deep brown eyes hardened as he stared into mine. He glanced to Edward, then to Jasper, and back to me.

“Okay, Bella. You got your wish. Us little boys …” he sneered, “… won’t help your blood suckers with the newborns. We’ll stay home on the Rez. We won’t cross the boundary line. And when those newborns get through with Forks and follow your scent to La Push, then me and my little playmates will finish them off. Good bye, Bella.”

Jake’s large frame spun away from me, and he nodded to Embry and Quil. With their jaws set, their dark eyes narrowed, they nodded in return. They turned as one, and all three of them quickly left the room. A moment later, through the sound of the music in the living room, I thought I heard the front door slam behind them.

Alice gasped, and I quickly turned to her. Her light golden eyes went blank as she was caught in another vision of the future. Her eyes flicked back and forth as she watched the possible new outcomes play out in her mind. Behind me, Edward sucked in a breath as Jasper darted to Alice, gripping her slim shoulders in each of his hands, and peering intently into her eyes.

“Alice, what do you see?”

“Nothing,” she choked out. “I see nothing.”

 

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