Chapter Forty SixMature

"If there's no getting you out of this, just tell me. Please, just tell me if there's no other way and then you can die. And I'll die too, I promise; I'll die too. Without you, I'm just breathing in sequence, baby; going through the motions of a life I've already left behind. Please, don't leave me behind."

Somewhere in the darkness there was a tiny voice, soft as a whisper and desperate like he'd never heard anyone. In the distant reaches of his awareness, James could feel the buzzing of pain dancing on the edge of his senses. There was a flaring beacon set far ahead of him, burning as white hot as the sun; he could feel its warm rays humming along his skin. And then the voice again, "James!"

The sound of his name, the common syllables of it, rang through his bones, shaking him awake somewhere in the depths of his mind. She was calling to him. It was natural that his body react instantly to her call, fingers twitching and bringing the distant pain closer to his senses. The hot pressure burned through his torso with every twitch and flick of his hand. "James, open your eyes!"

His eyes snapped open and the brightness stunned his retinas for a moment; when they adjusted, James realized it was nearly midnight and the sky was a clouded black that only broke apart in small spaces. The darkness of night was too bright for him.

He looked around quickly, trying to assess the environment, and he realized he couldn't breathe. He made an attempted to suck in air but the hot pressure on his chest exploded into shards of ice-hot needles. The crack of voice tore from his throat and the noise rang in his ears. Then the static started, the constant buzzing hum of the thoughts of those around him; whizzing partial words and half sentences clouded his own thoughts.

Then one clear thought, echoed by a deep, startled voice piercing his eardrums, "he hears you! Feed him again!"

A shift of brown hair in his peripheral vision grabbed his attention, granting him a single blissful second of painless thought; and he only thought one thing.

Bella.

And then he tasted her; the heavy copper and lavender taste of her blood filled his mouth and he whimpered pleadingly somewhere low in his throat. He could feel his lips massaging at flesh, quietly begging for more. He swallowed hungrily, each mouthful easier to devour than the last.

In a sudden realization of who was actually beside him, he shifted his eyes quickly and found himself gazing lazily up into eyes that could incinerate the sun. Her eyes burned white like thousand-Fahrenheit bulbs and he sucked in a breath of air at the startling glow; the realization of his breathing dawning on him merely a fragment of a second later. Suddenly alerted to changes in his physical condition, he searched for the pain that had been consuming his chest not long before. The agony of it was gone; though there was a strange discomfort that wriggled beneath his skin.

His crushed bones were knitting themselves back together, shifting and turning until they were locked back into place. With the flood gates opened on his breathing, he was sucking in air the way a drowning man would; big, fat gulps that entered and exited his body in loud gasps. His back arched beneath him as his spine corrected itself; it felt as if his entire body expanded all at once with a massive swallow of air, filling his veins and pressing against the inside of his skin to stretch him back out to size.

Fresh color flushed back into his vision in a rush, enhancing and enlivening his surroundings; his eyes shot to and from every angle, absorbing the vibrancy. A delicate cry of relief roared through his ears just before the small figure of Bella collapsed onto his healed chest with dry weepings and murmurs of gratitude.

The End

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