She wasn't the only one who was breathing more roughly than normal.
Taking a deep breath that burned my throat despite my hunting only last night, I forced myself to laugh gently at her pout, trying not to think of how close she came, each time we kissed, to the possibility of death. My mere existence put her at risk each and every day, much less allowing her to get so close to me, undermining what little self-control I had. I wanted her so badly, but it was not at all possible. I was not a human male, even if Bella made me feel more human than I had ever thought possible....
I reached a finger toward her, smiling down at her as I traced her pouting lips with the barest touch of my index finger. She stopped breathing. Immediately I dropped my hand to my side to find hers; relief flooded through me as she took a deep, steadying breath and gave me a weak smile.
"Shall we return to the dance?" I asked, tucking her hand into the crook of my elbow in the fashion of a century ago.
Bella wrinkled her nose at the thought, then nodded. As we turned to walk back to the gym, I felt Mike's eyes on us and felt his flare of anger. I had not noticed that while my thoughts were consumed with Bella-her lips, her warmth, my waning control-Mike had been watching us over Jessica's shoulder. I had hoped that now that Mike and Jessica were together, he would let go of his obsession with Bella. And he did ... most of the time. But upon occasion-and this was one of them-he betrayed his thoughts all too clearly. I had to admit that I couldn't blame him tonight: Bella looked incredibly beautiful. As I helped to support her as she limped along with her cast, I looked down in admiration at Bella's slender figure wrapped in the gorgeous blue dress-French in design-that Alice had provided for her, her un-casted calf shapely with the height of her stiletto heel. As we walked, she seemed to sense my stare and glanced up at me shyly, my favorite blush coloring her delicate cheekbones a deep rose, almost causing the few freckles across her nose to disappear entirely. Her lips parted slightly as she drew in a deep breath, her eyes searching mine.
"What?" she hissed at me.
I couldn't resist making her blush even more deeply ... even if I had to reign my control in tighter than ever ... not the self-control of physical attraction but the control of the outlandishly provocative scent of her blood.
"You are undoubtedly the most beautiful girl in this room," I told her as I lifted her slightly over the threshold of the gym doorway and we entered the thronging prom crowd. My stare was more than admiring; it was captivated. And she knew it.
She snorted indelicately, and I laughed, swinging her into my arms and lifting her so that her feet were atop mine. Once again, we swirled with the music, and her eyes were alight with enjoyment.
"I told you it was all in the leading," I teased.
Pulling herself closer to me, she laughed softly. "I admit it...you were right." She frowned slightly. "You're always right."
I smiled down at her. "But of course," I whispered. She fisted her small hand and struck at my shoulder in mock anger. "Be careful," I warned her, laughing, "you could break more bones...."
She nodded in agreement. "You're right." She groaned softly. "Again."
I laughed again and whirled her expertly through the crowded dance floor. We didn't speak for a little while. She seemed to be intent on enjoying her prom despite her vociferous objections, and I was thrilled to see her gaining another human experience, another human memory. This prom was a rite of passage for humans, and I wanted her to enjoy her human life. And I was happy to be part of her life, part of every part of her life-despite the unavoidable danger my presence put her in, directly or indirectly.
We twirled past Alice and Jasper who were dancing beautifully together. Bella threw them a smile over my shoulder, but I froze so suddenly that she almost fell. Only my arm flying round her waist to steady her kept her from falling flat.
"What is it?" she asked anxiously, her eyes scanning mine.
"Nothing," I murmured, starting to dance again. But as I turned Bella expertly to the beat of the music, I glared daggers at Jasper, and he knew why. He had caught Bella's scent and had allowed his imagination full rein. It was bad enough, dealing with the often admiring and sometimes impure thoughts the human males directed toward Bella-hardly a boy here had failed to note how unbearably beautiful she was this evening-but thirsting for her blood in the middle of the dance floor? It was too much for anyone to bear without objection.
|Robert Pattinson||as Edward|
|Kristen Stewart||as Bella|
|Ashley Greene||as Alice|
|Jackson Rathbone||as Jasper|
|Billy Burke||as Charlie|
|Kellan Lutz||as Emmett|
|Nikki Reed||as Rosalie|
|Peter Facinelli||as Carlisle|
|Elizabeth Reaser||as Esme|
|Sarah Clarke||as Renee|
|Taylor Lautner||as Jacob|