"Not hardly. I'm no Alice—you're just predictable," he joked. Among the Quileute pack down at La Push, only Seth was comfortable even mentioning the Cullens by name, let alone joking about things like my nearly omniscient sister-in-law-to-be.
"I know I am." I hesitated for a minute. "How is he?"Seth sighed. "Same as ever. He won't talk, though we know he hears us. He's trying not to think human, you know. Just going with his instincts."
"Do you know where he is now?"
"Somewhere in northern Canada. I can't tell you which province. He doesn't pay much attention to state lines."
"Any hint that he might…"
"He's not coming home, Bella. Sorry."
I swallowed. "S'okay, Seth. I knew before I asked. I just can't help wishing."
"Yeah. We all feel the same way."
"Thanks for putting up with me, Seth. I know the others must give you a hard time."
"They're not your hugest fans," he agreed cheerfully. "Kind of lame, I think. Jacob made his choices, you made yours. Jake doesn't like their attitude about it. 'Course, he isn't super thrilled that you're checking up on him, either."
I gasped. "I thought he wasn't talking to you?"
"He can't hide everything from us, hard as he's trying."
So Jacob knew I was worried. I wasn't sure how I felt about that. Well, at least he knew I hadn't skipped off into the sunset and forgotten him completely. He might have imagined me capable of that.
"I guess I'll see you at the…wedding," I said, forcing the word out through my teeth.
"Yeah, me and my mom will be there. It was cool of you to ask us."
I smiled at the enthusiasm in his voice. Though inviting the Clearwaters had been Edward's idea, I was glad he'd thought of it. Having Seth there would be nice—a link, however tenuous, to my missing best man. "It wouldn't be the same without you."
"Tell Edward I said hi, 'kay?"
I shook my head. The friendship that had sprung up between Edward and Seth was something that still boggled my mind. It was proof, though, that things didn't have to be this way. That werewolves and vampires could get along just fine, thank you very much, if they were of a mind to.
Not everybody liked this idea. "Ah," Seth said, his voice cracking up an octave. "Er, Leah's home."
The phone went dead. I left it on the seat and prepared myself mentally to go inside the house, where Charlie would be waiting.
My poor dad had so much to deal with right now. Jacob-the-runaway was just one of the straws on his overburdened back. He was almost as worried about me, his barely-a-legal-adult daughter who was about to become a Mrs. in just a few days' time.
I walked slowly through the light rain, remembering the night we'd told him….
As the sound of Charlie's cruiser announced his return, the ring suddenly weighed a hundred pounds on my finger. I wanted to shove my left hand in a pocket, or maybe sit on it, but Edward's cool, firm grasp kept it front and center.
"Stop fidgeting, Bella. Please try to remember that you're not confessing to a murder here."
"Easy for you to say."
I listened to the ominous sound of my father's boots clomping up the sidewalk. The key rattled in the already open door. The sound reminded me of that part of the horror movie when the victim realizes she's forgotten to lock her deadbolt….
"Calm down, Bella," Edward whispered, listening to the acceleration of my heart.
The door slammed against the wall, and I flinched like I'd been Tasered.