Chapter Twenty-Four: Nightmare

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Well, since I'm going to be gone all weekend, I'm uploading right before I leave. :) It's not as polished as I like it to be, so please forgive any typos, rough areas, etc.

I'm so thrilled to have made it to 30K reads! You all are so wonderful!!! I'm not a young writer like many of you (my daughter is turning 19 tomorrow), so I don't expect to be as popular, but I really appreciate your love and support of Evening Star! Thank you!!! You all encourage me so much to keep on writing; I think I would have quit long ago if it weren't for you all, cheering me on and demanding more chapters, lol!

Enjoy!!! And please VOTE!!!

--Cassandra

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Chapter Twenty-Four: The Nightmare

As twilight fell over Forks, I remained at my post as I had for the rest of the afternoon and early evening—in the towering fir tree a few hundred yards down the path past Charlie's house, in sight of Bella's window. Although she may not want me here, I had to be near her, near enough to hear her heartbeat, near enough to hear her frequent sighs, near enough to hear her stilted conversations with Charlie.

With annoying persistence, Charlie kept questioning Bella about what was obviously wrong. Her mood must still be morose...or, as I couldn't help hoping, perhaps she missed me half as much as I missed her. She replied to his queries in clipped sentences, repeating over and over that nothing was wrong, but the tone of her voice was way off, and Charlie noticed. I could sense the concern inherent in his thoughts as he wondered how a weekend with Alice could have put Bella in such a foul mood.

Finally the eighth time that Charlie asked her what was wrong, Bella blew up at him, a reaction very uncharacteristic for her, and one that shocked Charlie beyond words. After shouting at him that nothing was wrong and to leave her alone, she stomped up the stairs, slamming her bedroom door so fiercely that a picture slid down the wall, the glass in the frame shattering against the wooden floorboards. I heard a muttered curse escape Bella's lips, another unusual reaction.

The situation may have been funny if I hadn't known at whom her anger was truly directed. I sighed, sending silent prayers to heaven that Bella would forgive me. And soon. Tonight, please, I prayed.

I could not stand being separated from her in this manner, knowing that she was so frustrated and angry with me. Throughout the evening, my chest continued to ache as my eyes unerringly focused on the light streaming from her bedroom window. Bella lay on her bed, her CD player blasting angry rock music, yet another uncharacteristic action on her part. Perhaps she was attempting to drown out her thoughts. Whatever her motivation, she was successful in disguising the sound I was straining to hear: her heartbeat. The pounding bass of the music completely masked the most beautiful sound in my world: Bella's heartbeat. I felt even more bereft with this loss, but I also recognized that I did not deserve the grace of hearing the one sound that brought me a sense of peace.

Although I may not be able to read Bella's mind, her heartbeat conveyed so much of her life and soul to me. Nothing thrilled me more than the quickening of her heart when I touched her, the leap it made when I kissed her, the slow, peaceful melody indicating the depth of her sleep, safe in my arms. I was so attuned to the sound of Bella's heart that I was certain that I could locate it among hundreds of other hearts from miles away. It was the most significant sound I have ever heard. And the most precious.

After ninety minutes of the blaring music, Bella shut off her CD player and moved to the bathroom, apparently readying herself for bed. The bathroom light flipped on, and I heard the rush of water from the shower. I remained in my perch while she returned to her room. I gained a quick glimpse of Bella's damp hair as she leaned on her windowsill, peering out into the summer darkness. The night was clear; perhaps she was looking at the stars?

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