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Chapter 6 Scary Stories

Chapter 6 Scary Stories

  As I sat in my room, trying to concentrate on the third act of Macbeth, Iwas really listening for my truck. I would have thought, even over thepounding rain, I could have heard the engine's roar. But when I went topeek out the curtain — again — it was suddenly there.

  I wasn't looking forward to Friday, and it more than lived up to mynon-expectations. Of course there were the fainting comments. Jessicaespecially seemed to get a kick out of that story. Luckily Mike had kepthis mouth shut, and no one seemed to know about Edward's involvement. She did have a lot of questions about lunch, though.

  "So what did Edward Cullen want yesterday?" Jessica asked in Trig.

  "I don't know," I answered truthfully. "He never really got to the point.""You looked kind of mad," she fished.

  "Did I?" I kept my expression blank.

  "You know, I've never seen him sit with anyone but his family before.

  That was weird.""Weird," I agreed. She seemed annoyed; she flipped her dark curlsimpatiently — I guessed she'd been hoping to hear something that wouldmake a good story for her to pass on.

  The worst part about Friday was that, even though I knew he wasn't goingto be there, I still hoped. When I walked into the cafeteria with Jessicaand Mike, I couldn't keep from looking at his table, where Rosalie,Alice, and Jasper sat talking, heads close together. And I couldn't stopthe gloom that engulfed me as I realized I didn't know how long I wouldhave to wait before I saw him again.

  At my usual table, everyone was full of our plans for the next day. Mikewas animated again, putting a great deal of trust in the local weathermanwho promised sun tomorrow. I'd have to see that before I believed it. Butit was warmer today — almost sixty. Maybe the outing wouldn't becompletely miserable.

  I intercepted a few unfriendly glances from Lauren during lunch, which Ididn't understand until we were all walking out of the room together. Iwas right behind her, just a foot from her slick, silver blond hair, andshe was evidently unaware of that.

  "…don't know why Bella" — she sneered my name — "doesn't just sit withthe Cullens from now on."I heard her muttering to Mike. I'd never noticed what an unpleasant,nasal voice she had, and I was surprised by the malice in it. I reallydidn't know her well at all, certainly not well enough for her to dislikeme — or so I'd thought. "She's my friend; she sits with us," Mikewhispered back loyally, but also a bit territorially. I paused to letJess and Angela pass me. I didn't want to hear any more.

  That night at dinner, Charlie seemed enthusiastic about my trip to LaPush in the morning. I think he felt guilty for leaving me home alone onthe weekends, but he'd spent too many years building his habits to breakthem now. Of course he knew the names of all the kids going, and theirparents, and their great-grandparents, too, probably. He seemed toapprove. I wondered if he would approve of my plan to ride to Seattlewith Edward Cullen. Not that I was going to tell him.

  "Dad, do you know a place called Goat Rocks or something like that? Ithink it's south of Mount Rainier," I asked casually.

  "Yeah — why?"I shrugged. "Some kids were talking about camping there.""It's not a very good place for camping." He sounded surprised. "Too manybears. Most people go there during the hunting season.""Oh," I murmured. "Maybe I got the name wrong."I meant to sleep in, but an unusual brightness woke me. I opened my eyesto see a clear yellow light streaming through my window. I couldn'tbelieve it. I hurried to the window to check, and sure enough, there wasthe sun. It was in the wrong place in the sky, too low, and it didn'tseem to be as close as it should be, but it was definitely the sun.

   Clouds ringed the horizon, but a large patch of blue was visible in themiddle. I lingered by the window as long as I could, afraid that if Ileft the blue would disappear again.

  The Newtons' Olympic Outfitters store was just north of town. I'd seenthe store, but I'd never stopped there — not having much need for anysupplies required for being outdoors over an extended period of time. Inthe parking lot I recognized Mike's Suburban and Tyler's Sentra. As Ipulled up next to their vehicles, I could see the group standing aroundin front of the Suburban. Eric was there, along with two other boys I hadclass with; I was fairly sure their names were Ben and Conner. Jess wasthere, flanked by Angela and Lauren. Three other girls stood with them,including one I remembered falling over in Gym on Friday. That one gaveme a dirty look as I got out of the truck, and whispered something toLauren. Lauren shook out her cornsilk hair and eyed me scornfully.

  So it was going to be one of those days.

  At least Mike was happy to see me.

  "You came!" he called, delighted. "And I said it would be sunny today,didn't I?""I told you I was coming," I reminded him.

  "We're just waiting for Lee and Samantha… unless you invited someone,"Mike added.

  "Nope," I lied lightly, hoping I wouldn't get caught in the lie. But alsowishing that a miracle would occur, and Edward would appear.

  Mike looked satisfied.

  "Will you ride in my car? It's that or Lee's mom's minivan.""Sure."He smiled blissfully. It was so easy to make Mike happy.

  "You can have shotgun," he promised. I hid my chagrin. It wasn't assimple to make Mike and Jessica happy at the same time. I could seeJessica glowering at us now.

  The numbers worked out in my favor, though. Lee brought two extra people,and suddenly every seat was necessary. I managed to wedge Jess in betweenMike and me in the front seat of the Suburban. Mike could have been moregraceful about it, but at least Jess seemed appeased.

  It was only fifteen miles to La Push from Forks, with gorgeous, densegreen forests edging the road most of the way and the wide QuillayuteRiver snaking beneath it twice. I was glad I had the window seat. We'drolled the windows down — the Suburban was a bit claustrophobic with ninepeople in it — and I tried to absorb as much sunlight as possible.

  I'd been to the beaches around La Push many times during my Forks summerswith Charlie, so the mile-long crescent of First Beach was familiar tome. It was still breathtaking. The water was dark gray, even in thesunlight, white-capped and heaving to the gray, rocky shore. Islands roseout of the steel harbor waters with sheer cliff sides, reaching to unevensummits, and crowned with austere, soaring firs. The beach had only athin border of actual sand at the water's edge, after which it grew intomillions of large, smooth stones that looked uniformly gray from adistance, but close up were every shade a stone could be: terra-cotta,sea green, lavender, blue gray, dull gold. The tide line was strewn withhuge driftwood trees, bleached bone white in the salt waves, some piledtogether against the edge of the forest fringe, some lying solitary, justout of reach of the waves.

  There was a brisk wind coming off the waves, cool and briny. Pelicansfloated on the swells while seagulls and a lone eagle wheeled above them.

  The clouds still circled the sky, threatening to invade at any moment,but for now the sun shone bravely in its halo of blue sky.

   We picked our way down to the beach, Mike leading the way to a ring ofdriftwood logs that had obviously been used for parties like ours before.

  There was a fire circle already in place, filled with black ashes. Ericand the boy I thought was named Ben gathered broken branches of driftwoodfrom the drier piles against the forest edge, and soon had ateepee-shaped construction built atop the old cinders.

  "Have you ever seen a driftwood fire?" Mike asked me. I was sitting onone of the bone-colored benches; the other girls clustered, gossipingexcitedly, on either side of me. Mike kneeled by the fire, lighting oneof the smaller sticks with a cigarette lighter.

  "No," I said as he placed the blazing twig carefully against the teepee.

  "You'll like this then — watch the colors." He lit another small branchand laid it alongside the first. The flames started to lick quickly upthe dry wood.

  "It's blue," I said in surprise.

  "The salt does it. Pretty, isn't it?" He lit one more piece, placed itwhere the fire hadn't yet caught, and then came to sit by me. Thankfully,Jess was on his other side. She turned to him and claimed his attention.

  I watched the strange blue and green flames crackle toward the sky.

  After a half hour of chatter, some of the boys wanted to hike to thenearby tidal pools. It was a dilemma. On the one hand, I loved the tidepools. They had fascinated me since I was a child; they were one of theonly things I ever looked forward to when I had to come to Forks. On theother hand, I'd also fallen into them a lot. Not a big deal when you'reseven and with your dad. It reminded me of Edward's request — that I notfall into the ocean.

  Lauren was the one who made my decision for me. She didn't want to hike,and she was definitely wearing the wrong shoes for it. Most of the othergirls besides Angela and Jessica decided to stay on the beach as well. Iwaited until Tyler and Eric had committed to remaining with them before Igot up quietly to join the pro-hiking group. Mike gave me a huge smilewhen he saw that I was coming.

  The hike wasn't too long, though I hated to lose the sky in the woods.

  The green light of the forest was strangely at odds with the adolescentlaughter, too murky and ominous to be in harmony with the light banteraround me. I had to watch each step I took very carefully, avoiding rootsbelow and branches above, and I soon fell behind. Eventually I brokethrough the emerald confines of the forest and found the rocky shoreagain. It was low tide, and a tidal river flowed past us on its way tothe sea. Along its pebbled banks, shallow pools that never completelydrained were teeming with life.

  I was very cautious not to lean too far over the little ocean ponds. Theothers were fearless, leaping over the rocks, perching precariously onthe edges. I found a very stable-looking rock on the fringe of one of thelargest pools and sat there cautiously, spellbound by the naturalaquarium below me. The bouquets of brilliant anemones undulatedceaselessly in the invisible current, twisted shells scurried about theedges, obscuring the crabs within them, starfish stuck motionless to therocks and each other, while one small black eel with white racing stripeswove through the bright green weeds, waiting for the sea to return. I wascompletely absorbed, except for one small part of my mind that wonderedwhat Edward was doing now, and trying to imagine what he would be sayingif he were here with me.

  Finally the boys were hungry, and I got up stiffly to follow them back. Itried to keep up better this time through the woods, so naturally I fella few times. I got some shallow scrapes on my palms, and the knees of myjeans were stained green, but it could have been worse.

  When we got back to First Beach, the group we'd left behind hadmultiplied. As we got closer we could see the shining, straight blackhair and copper skin of the newcomers, teenagers from the reservation come to socialize.

  The food was already being passed around, and the boys hurried to claim ashare while Eric introduced us as we each entered the driftwood circle.

  Angela and I were the last to arrive, and, as Eric said our names, Inoticed a younger boy sitting on the stones near the fire glance up at mein interest. I sat down next to Angela, and Mike brought us sandwichesand an array of sodas to choose from, while a boy who looked to be theoldest of the visitors rattled off the names of the seven others withhim. All I caught was that one of the girls was also named Jessica, andthe boy who noticed me was named Jacob.

  It was relaxing to sit with Angela; she was a restful kind of person tobe around — she didn't feel the need to fill every silence with chatter.

  She left me free to think undisturbed while we ate. And I was thinkingabout how disjointedly time seemed to flow in Forks, passing in a blur attimes, with single images standing out more clearly than others. Andthen, at other times, every second was significant, etched in my mind. Iknew exactly what caused the difference, and it disturbed me.

  During lunch the clouds started to advance, slinking across the blue sky,darting in front of the sun momentarily, casting long shadows across thebeach, and blackening the waves. As they finished eating, people startedto drift away in twos and threes. Some walked down to the edge of thewaves, trying to skip rocks across the choppy surface. Others weregathering a second expedition to the tide pools. Mike — with Jessicashadowing him — headed up to the one shop in the village. Some of thelocal kids went with them; others went along on the hike. By the timethey all had scattered, I was sitting alone on my driftwood log, withLauren and Tyler occupying themselves by the CD player someone hadthought to bring, and three teenagers from the reservation perched aroundthe circle, including the boy named Jacob and the oldest boy who hadacted as spokesperson.

  A few minutes after Angela left with the hikers, Jacob sauntered over totake her place by my side. He looked fourteen, maybe fifteen, and hadlong, glossy black hair pulled back with a rubber band at the nape of hisneck. His skin was beautiful, silky and russet-colored; his eyes weredark, set deep above the high planes of his cheekbones. He still had justa hint of childish roundness left around his chin. Altogether, a verypretty face. However, my positive opinion of his looks was damaged by thefirst words out of his mouth.

  "You're Isabella Swan, aren't you?"It was like the first day of school all over again.

  "Bella," I sighed.

  "I'm Jacob Black." He held his hand out in a friendly gesture. "Youbought my dad's truck.""Oh," I said, relieved, shaking his sleek hand. "You're Billy's son. Iprobably should remember you.""No, I'm the youngest of the family — you would remember my oldersisters.""Rachel and Rebecca," I suddenly recalled. Charlie and Billy had thrownus together a lot during my visits, to keep us busy while they fished. Wewere all too shy to make much progress as friends. Of course, I'd kickedup enough tantrums to end the fishing trips by the time I was eleven.

  "Are they here?" I examined the girls at the ocean's edge, wondering if Iwould recognize them now.

  "No." Jacob shook his head. "Rachel got a scholarship to WashingtonState, and Rebecca married a Samoan surfer — she lives in Hawaii now.""Married. Wow." I was stunned. The twins were only a little over a yearolder than I was.

   "So how do you like the truck?" he asked.

  "I love it. It runs great.""Yeah, but it's really slow," he laughed. "I was so relived when Charliebought it. My dad wouldn't let me work on building another car when wehad a perfectly good vehicle right there.""It's not that slow," I objected.

  "Have you tried to go over sixty?""No," I admitted.

  "Good. Don't." He grinned.

  I couldn't help grinning back. "It does great in a collision," I offeredin my truck's defense.

  "I don't think a tank could take out that old monster," he agreed withanother laugh.

  "So you build cars?" I asked, impressed.

  "When I have free time, and parts. You wouldn't happen to know where Icould get my hands on a master cylinder for a 1986 Volkswagen Rabbit?" headded jokingly. He had a pleasant, husky voice.

  "Sorry," I laughed, "I haven't seen any lately, but I'll keep my eyesopen for you." As if I knew what that was. He was very easy to talk with.

  He flashed a brilliant smile, looking at me appreciatively in a way I waslearning to recognize. I wasn't the only one who noticed.

  "You know Bella, Jacob?" Lauren asked — in what I imagined was aninsolent tone — from across the fire.

  "We've sort of known each other since I was born," he laughed, smiling atme again.

  "How nice." She didn't sound like she thought it was nice at all, and herpale, fishy eyes narrowed.

  "Bella," she called again, watching my face carefully, "I was just sayingto Tyler that it was too bad none of the Cullens could come out today.

  Didn't anyone think to invite them?" Her expression of concern wasunconvincing.

  "You mean Dr. Carlisle Cullen's family?" the tall, older boy asked beforeI could respond, much to Lauren's irritation. He was really closer to aman than a boy, and his voice was very deep.

  "Yes, do you know them?" she asked condescendingly, turning halfwaytoward him.

  "The Cullens don't come here," he said in a tone that closed the subject,ignoring her question.

  Tyler, trying to win back her attention, asked Lauren's opinion on a CDhe held. She was distracted.

  I stared at the deep-voiced boy, taken aback, but he was looking awaytoward the dark forest behind us. He'd said that the Cullens didn't comehere, but his tone had implied something more — that they weren'tallowed; they were prohibited. His manner left a strange impression onme, and I tried to ignore it without success.

  Jacob interrupted my meditation. "So is Forks driving you insane yet?""Oh, I'd say that's an understatement." I grimaced. He grinnedunderstandingly.

   I was still turning over the brief comment on the Cullens, and I had asudden inspiration. It was a stupid plan, but I didn't have any betterideas. I hoped that young Jacob was as yet inexperienced around girls, sothat he wouldn't see through my sure-to-be-pitiful attempts at flirting.

  "Do you want to walk down the beach with me?" I asked, trying to imitatethat way Edward had of looking up from underneath his eyelashes. Itcouldn't have nearly the same effect, I was sure, but Jacob jumped upwillingly enough.

  As we walked north across the multihued stones toward the driftwoodseawall, the clouds finally closed ranks across the sky, causing the seato darken and the temperature to drop. I shoved my hands deep into thepockets of my jacket.

  "So you're, what, sixteen?" I asked, trying not to look like an idiot asI fluttered my eyelids the way I'd seen girls do on TV.

  "I just turned fifteen," he confessed, flattered.

  "Really?" My face was full of false surprise. "I would have thought youwere older.""I'm tall for my age," he explained.

  "Do you come up to Forks much?" I asked archly, as if I was hoping for ayes. I sounded idiotic to myself. I was afraid he would turn on me withdisgust and accuse me of my fraud, but he still seemed flattered.

  "Not too much," he admitted with a frown. "But when I get my car finishedI can go up as much as I want — after I get my license," he amended.

  "Who was that other boy Lauren was talking to? He seemed a little old tobe hanging out with us." I purposefully lumped myself in with theyoungsters, trying to make it clear that I preferred Jacob.

  "That's Sam — he's nineteen," he informed me.

  "What was that he was saying about the doctor's family?" I askedinnocently.

  "The Cullens? Oh, they're not supposed to come onto the reservation." Helooked away, out toward James Island, as he confirmed what I'd thoughtI'd heard in Sam's voice.

  "Why not?"He glanced back at me, biting his lip. "Oops. I'm not supposed to sayanything about that.""Oh, I won't tell anyone, I'm just curious." I tried to make my smilealluring, wondering if I was laying it on too thick.

  He smiled back, though, looking allured. Then he lifted one eyebrow andhis voice was even huskier than before.

  "Do you like scary stories?" he asked ominously.

  "I love them," I enthused, making an effort to smolder at him.

  Jacob strolled to a nearby driftwood tree that had its roots sticking outlike the attenuated legs of a huge, pale spider. He perched lightly onone of the twisted roots while I sat beneath him on the body of the tree.

  He stared down at the rocks, a smile hovering around the edges of hisbroad lips. I could see he was going to try to make this good. I focusedon keeping the vital interest I felt out of my eyes.

  "Do you know any of our old stories, about where we came from — theQuileutes, I mean?" he began.

  "Not really," I admitted.

   "Well, there are lots of legends, some of them claiming to date back tothe Flood — supposedly, the ancient Quileutes tied their canoes to thetops of the tallest trees on the mountain to survive like Noah and theark." He smiled, to show me how little stock he put in the histories.

  "Another legend claims that we descended from wolves — and that thewolves are our brothers still. It's against tribal law to kill them.

  "Then there are the stories about the cold ones." His voice dropped alittle lower.

  "The cold ones?" I asked, not faking my intrigue now.

  "Yes. There are stories of the cold ones as old as the wolf legends, andsome much more recent. According to legend, my own great-grandfather knewsome of them. He was the one who made the treaty that kept them off ourland." He rolled his eyes.

  "Your great-grandfather?" I encouraged.

  "He was a tribal elder, like my father. You see, the cold ones are thenatural enemies of the wolf—well, not the wolf, really, but the wolvesthat turn into men, like our ancestors. You would call them werewolves.""Werewolves have enemies?""Only one."I stared at him earnestly, hoping to disguise my impatience as admiration.

  "So you see," Jacob continued, "the cold ones are traditionally ourenemies. But this pack that came to our territory during mygreat-grandfather's time was different. They didn't hunt the way othersof their kind did — they weren't supposed to be dangerous to the tribe.

  So my great-grandfather made a truce with them. If they would promise tostay off our lands, we wouldn't expose them to the pale-faces." He winkedat me.

  "If they weren't dangerous, then why… ?" I tried to understand,struggling not to let him see how seriously I was considering his ghoststory.

  "There's always a risk for humans to be around the cold ones, even ifthey're civilized like this clan was. You never know when they might gettoo hungry to resist." He deliberately worked a thick edge of menace intohis tone.

  "What do you mean, 'civilized'?""They claimed that they didn't hunt humans. They supposedly were somehowable to prey on animals instead."I tried to keep my voice casual. "So how does it fit in with the Cullens?

  Are they like the cold ones your greatgrandfather met?""No." He paused dramatically. "They are the same ones."He must have thought the expression on my face was fear inspired by hisstory. He smiled, pleased, and continued.

  "There are more of them now, a new female and a new male, but the restare the same. In my great-grandfather's time they already knew of theleader, Carlisle. He'd been here and gone before your people had evenarrived." He was fighting a smile.

  "And what are they?" I finally asked. "What are the cold ones?"He smiled darkly.

  "Blood drinkers," he replied in a chilling voice. "Your people call themvampires."I stared out at the rough surf after he answered, not sure what my face was exposing.

  "You have goose bumps," he laughed delightedly.

  "You're a good storyteller," I complimented him, still staring into thewaves.

  "Pretty crazy stuff, though, isn't it? No wonder my dad doesn't want usto talk about it to anyone."I couldn't control my expression enough to look at him yet. "Don't worry,I won't give you away.""I guess I just violated the treaty," he laughed.

  "I'll take it to the grave," I promised, and then I shivered.

  "Seriously, though, don't say anything to Charlie. He was pretty mad atmy dad when he heard that some of us weren't going to the hospital sinceDr. Cullen started working there.""I won't, of course not.""So do you think we're a bunch of superstitious natives or what?" heasked in a playful tone, but with a hint of worry. I still hadn't lookedaway from the ocean.

  I turned and smiled at him as normally as I could.

  "No. I think you're very good at telling scary stories, though. I stillhave goose bumps, see?" I held up my arm.

  "Cool." He smiled.

  And then the sound of the beach rocks clattering against each otherwarned us that someone was approaching. Our heads snapped up at the sametime to see Mike and Jessica about fifty yards away, walking toward us.

  "There you are, Bella," Mike called in relief, waving his arm over hishead.

  "Is that your boyfriend?" Jacob asked, alerted by the jealous edge inMike's voice. I was surprised it was so obvious.

  "No, definitely not," I whispered. I was tremendously grateful to Jacob,and eager to make him as happy as possible. I winked at him, carefullyturning away from Mike to do so. He smiled, elated by my inept flirting.

  "So when I get my license…" he began.

  "You should come see me in Forks. We could hang out sometime." I feltguilty as I said this, knowing that I'd used him. But I really did likeJacob. He was someone I could easily be friends with.

  Mike had reached us now, with Jessica still a few paces back. I could seehis eyes appraising Jacob, and looking satisfied at his obvious youth.

  "Where have you been?" he asked, though the answer was right in front ofhim.

  "Jacob was just telling me some local stories," I volunteered. "It wasreally interesting."I smiled at Jacob warmly, and he grinned back.

  "Well," Mike paused, carefully reassessing the situation as he watchedour camaraderie. "We're packing up — it looks like it's going to rainsoon."We all looked up at the glowering sky. It certainly did look like rain.

  "Okay." I jumped up. "I'm coming." "It was nice to see you again," Jacob said, and I could tell he wastaunting Mike just a bit.

  "It really was. Next time Charlie comes down to see Billy, I'll come,too," I promised.

  His grin stretched across his face. "That would be cool.""And thanks," I added earnestly.

  I pulled up my hood as we tramped across the rocks toward the parkinglot. A few drops were beginning to fall, making black spots on the stoneswhere they landed. When we got to the Suburban the others were alreadyloading everything back in. I crawled into the backseat by Angela andTyler, announcing that I'd already had my turn in the shotgun position.

  Angela just stared out the window at the escalating storm, and Laurentwisted around in the middle seat to occupy Tyler's attention, so I couldsimply lay my head back on the seat and close my eyes and try very hardnot to think.