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Hot and Cold (Part 1.3)
In the morning, my mom made waffles topped with strawberries. There was tension between Gabby and I, and Mom could sense it.
“Okay,” she said, turning away from cleaning the counter and facing the table were Gabby and I sat, “tell me what happened last night.”
“Nothing happened,” I insisted.
Gabby, sitting on my lap, picked at a strawberry on her plate. I sliced a strawberry on my own plate in half. The red insides made me think of spilled blood. I moved them upside down, so the flat side was down and juice didn’t come out.
“You didn’t…” Mom said hesitantly.
“Oh, Mom!” I said. Why would she think that of all things? “No, we didn’t. we just fell asleep together-- again. End of story.”
“Ms. Call,” Gabby said, “it’s okay. Embry and I aren’t doing anything for a while.”
“Are you going to tell me what happened at the campfire?” Mom asked.
“The same thing we do every time,” I said, getting annoyed. I forked a piece of waffle and ate it. “Billy told the legend, we talked, then went home.” Oh, and my girlfriend might have been condemned to death.
“Something happened last night,” Mom said in her annoying all-knowing-mother voice. “I can tell you two are on edge.”
“Everything’s fine,” Gabby said reassuringly. She sounded convincing, like everything might be fine. My mom bought it, and that was enough for now.
Later I took Gabby home. I was another excruciatingly long car ride. Neither of us touched the radio, like we usually did. It was just the rumble of the car’s engine as we drove through the reservation, across the highway, and through rainy Forks. When we reached Gabby’s house, I cut the engine. Who knew silence could be so loud.
“Embry…” Gabby started, “I…” Sigh. “I don’t know.”
I looked at her sincerely. I took her hand and squeezed it gently. “Let it go for today. We have a party, remember?”
“It’s crazy, though,” Gabby said.
“You’re right.,” I agreed. “A party at a vampire’s house?”
“Have I told you I love you recently?”
“Yes, but I wouldn’t mind hearing it again.”
“I love you. I love you more than I could tell you.”
“I love you more than I could ever tell you. Hey, do you need a ride to the Cullen’s?”
“No, Vonie’s picking me up.”
“’Kay. See you later?”
Gabby got out of the car. I watched her walk up the stairs and go in the house.
All day I just lingered around the house, not knowing what to do. I brought my happiest memories of Gabby from the back of my mind and played them over and over like a broken DVD. Smiling, laughing, happy Gabby, the days when we thought that we could say “I do” and mean it. I thought of her at her happiest, when we went to karaoke Sunday nights at the coffee shop in Forks. That was where I met her. She was up there, singing “Better Days,” and I had never seen anyone more beautiful. She put The Goo Goo Dolls to shame.
I glanced at the clock and saw that it was almost six. I grabbed the keys and drove to the Cullen’s house. Any time the roadside was forested, I thought about the beasts that rested in there, waiting to make a choice.
“This looks a lot like a funeral,” I said, looking around the Cullen’s living room. We were hanging grey and red light strands around the room.
“Well, Seth likes red and grey,” Jacob said. I handed him a piece of tape to secure the strand of red lights.
Carlisle and Esme had come back from Vancouver that morning. We filled them in on the Volutri’s visit and Gabby’s trial.
There was a knocking at the door. Nessie walked over to answer it. Gabby and Vonie were there, and Vonie had a baking pan in her hands.
“Hey,” Nessie said as they stepped in. She inhaled the scent of Vonie’s brownies. “Oh my God they smell so good.”
“Why does this look depressing?” Vonie said, looking around the room.
“See?” I said. “I’m not the only one who thinks so.”
“Seth likes grey and red,” Esme said, walking over to take the pan from Vonie.
Vonie walked into the middle of the room.
“There should be a coffin right here,” she said.
Don’t remind me. I tried not to visualize Gabby lying in a casket with a rosary in her hands in a funeral home.
“Need help?” the live Gabby said, walking over to us.
“I think we got it,” I said, handing Jacob another piece of tape.
“When are we telling Vonie and Alyson?” Gabby whispered.
“I think Nessie wants to when the party is in full swing,” Jacob said.
Gabby nodded. I could tell she was still nervous.
“Don’t worry,” I said, putting my arm around her and kissing her forehead. “If I make a promise to you will you make a promise to me?”
She nodded again.
“I promise not to worry about the Volturi tonight,” I said solemnly. “Can you promise me that too?”
“Promise,” Gabby said.
“I’m going to make sure you keep that promise, even if I have to get Jasper to hover around your all night,” I said.
“Thanks,” Gabby said, a smile finally appearing on her face.
“Hey, Gabby,” Alice said, walking over. “Do you have the CD?”
“Yeah,” Gabby said, and pulled a jewel case out of her bag. She handed it to Alice.
“Thank you so much,” she said.
At about quarter to seven, we were all there. Then at seven, Sam came with Seth.
“Oh my gosh,” Seth said when he walked in.
“Happy birthday,” Alice said, skipping over to him.
Someone turned off the lights and started the music and conversations started. The grey and red lights blinked on and off at different times, making the room look like a strange cave. Gabby and I walked over to the table that had been set up with chips and drinks. We both grabbed one of Vonie’s brownies. They go fast.
“Can you guys come upstairs for a minute?” Carlisle said, tapping my shoulder.
Gabby and I exchanged glances, knowing what this was about. I put my arm around her and we followed Carlisle up to the kitchen. Esme, Jacob, Nessie, Edward, Bella, Alyson, Vonie, Collin, and Brady waited for us.
“What’s wrong?” Alyson asked, looking at our worried faces.
“Gabby,” Carlisle said. “Edward already told Esme and I. Go ahead and tell Vonie and Alyson.”
Gabby was silent. She stared at Edward, probably asking him something in her mind. He nodded.
“Yesterday night, at he campfire,” Edward began “the Volturi came. We’ve told you about the Volturi. Aro read Gabby’s mind and decided that she knows too much about our kind. Are is either going to turn her into a vampire or kill her.”
“What?” Vonie yelled, disbelief and anger washing over her face. “No! Gabby.” She hugged Gabby, crying.
Tears ran down both of their faces like rain down a window.
“But why?” Alyson said, on the verge of angry tears herself. “Vonie and I know just as much as Gabby does.”
“You weren’t there last night,” Jacob said. “The Volturi don’t know you know.”
“It’s not fair,” Nessie said, “but your fate would be hanging on a wire, too, if you were there.”
Brady walked over and rubbed Vonie’s shoulders, trying to comfort her.
“When do we find out?” Alyson asked, clutching Collin’s hand. Her eyes were shining with tears like wet stars.
“Wednesday,” I said, a tightness in my voice.
“I’m coming,” Vonie said. “I’m going to be there for you, Gabby.”
“You can’t,” Gabby said. “If you do, this’ll happen to you too.”
“You can’t do that,” Brady said to Vonie. “I don’t know what I’d do.”
Vonie leaned against Brady and cried. Alyson buried her head in Collin’s shoulder. I took Gabby in my arms and whispered softly to her.
“We should go back down stairs,” Bella said.
“And act like nothing’s wrong?” Alyson said, looking up from Collin’s shoulder.
“Alice will have our heads if we don’t,” Nessie said. Why did she have to talk about beheading people? Wasn’t it bad enough if their necks were bit?
“You guys go back down,” Esme said. “I want to talk to Gabby and Embry.”
“Meet me down there,” Vonie said to Gabby.
Everyone else went down the stairs. Esme and Carlisle turned to face us.
“Gabby,” Esme said, smiling sadly and touching Gabby’s hand, “you know that whatever happens, you’ll be welcome here.”
Gabby nodded, but stayed quiet. We both knew what Esme meant: if/when you become a vampire, we’ll take you in.
“And Embry,” Esme said, turning to me, “I know you two love each other very much, and you don’t deserve to be torn like this.”
“Thanks,” I said.
“Go down and enjoy the party,” Carlisle said.
Gabby and I went back to the living room. We sat on the couch and picked at our brownies, but barely eating them.
“We broke our promises,” Gabby finally said. “We worried about the Volturi.”
“We couldn’t help it,” I reasoned.
“Nessie’s right,” Gabby said. “It’s not fair.”
“Life’s not fair,” I said. “Life sucks. People just die all the time.”
“Sometimes I think that’s all there is,” she said. “But then you look at the big picture. There’s dreams and color and--and that.” She pointed to Paul and Rachel in the corner.
“Paul and Rachel making out?” I said, not getting it.
“No,” Gabby said. “Love. The whole ‘other half’ thing.”
It suddenly struck me how little time we had to be us. We had about a day and a half left, almost no time to be “us.” To be Gabby and Embry. She would never be Mrs. Gabrielle Call.
“Are you crying?” she asked, touching my face.
“Almost,” I said, feeling tears collect in my eyes.
“Please,” Gabby said, trying to sound strong, “don’t. it’s only going to make me cry.”
I did not want to see her tears again. I blinked a few times and only a tear or two fell out. Gabby leaned against me and closed her eyes.
“I wish this would just go away,” she said softly.
“I know,” I said. “I’d go to the ends of the earth to stop this.”
“Don’t get dramatic.”
“I would, though. I would go around the world for you. I’d face the apocalypse.”
“Well, we might not have too long to wait for that.”
“Twenty-twelve. You actually believe that stuff?”
I laughed a little. “Let’s go find Seth.”
We stood up and walked around the room, looking for Seth. We finally found him. He was standing by the stairs, talking to Edward and Bella. By the way their heads were bent toward each other I knew they were talking about something serious.
“Hey,” Gabby said. “Happy birthday, Seth.”
“Thanks,” Seth said, looking at us. “How are you guys? I mean, after yesterday--.”
“We’re fine, Seth,” I cut in.
“You guys won’t get in trouble, will you?” Gabby asked, looking at Edward and Bella.
“Don’t worry,” Edward said. “Aro is friends with Carlisle. I think we have somewhat and advantage.”
“When you think about it,” Seth said, “that advantage cancels out, since Caius hates werewolf guts.”
I slapped Seth’s arm, hard. “Really?”
“Well--” he started.
“Don’t,” I cut him off again. “Just don’t, okay?”
“Sorry,” he said, his eyes looking down.
The night went late, almost to one-thirty or something like that. I slept peacefully for a while when I got home. Then the nightmares kicked in.
I was standing in a dark room. There was a mirror on one wall and Gabby was standing in front of it with her back to me. In the mirror, I could see her hair like a curtain of wheat over her face. Her hands and arms were as white as fresh plaster.
“Gabby?” I whispered, slowly walking over to her. “Gab?”
I place my hand on her shoulder. Her whole body went rigid. She slowly lifted her head, the curtain of hair revealing her face. Her eyes were as red as rubies and empty with wild thirst. Her skin was as pale as her arms.
In a movement like a striking viper, she turned, knocked me down, and lunged for my throat. Then I heard laughing and everything changed. It was not Gabby on top of me anymore; it was Jane. We were in the Cullen’s baseball field. Over Jane’s shoulder, I saw Felix and Demetri holding Gabby. She was trying to get away, but they were too strong. I tried to push Jane off me, but she held me down and laughed.
Another cloaked vampire came and restrained me while Jane strode over to the small group. She stroked Gabby’s hair over her left shoulder. Jane bent her head and Gabby’s screams of terror turned to screams of pain. Felix and Demetri followed Jane’s lead, biting into her wrists.
“NO!” I screamed, trying to get away, trying to phase, trying to save her. I could not get myself liberated from this monster.
Jane, Felix, and Demetri released Gabby. She slumped to the ground, quivering and breathing hard. She was still alive, but barely. Aro, Caius, and Marcus came to take their places. Aro lifted Gabby’s limp, pale body and he and his brothers finished what their minions had started.