ANOTHER TWILIGHT EXCERPT

August 5th, 2004

Hello. I have recovered from my weasels (it turns out there IS a cure for the weasels: it's called tubing. That's when you sit on a big rubber raft that's being pulled behind a very fast boat. TOTALLY FUN. It thoroughly destroys all weasels, and you feel kind of rubbery for hours afterwards. I highly recommend it).

Anyway, I am feeling so good I thought I'd post another excerpt from Twilight, Mediator 6 (due in US stores on December 28, 2004) since so many of your are asking for it. Also because I have nothing to blog about, since I'm in such a good, non-weasely mood.

So here goes. Enjoy!

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Except from TWILIGHT, MEDIATOR 6

The handful of pebbles I'd thrown rattled noisily against the heavy leaded glass. I looked around, worried someone might have heard. But better for them to hear tiny rocks hitting a window than me whispering the name of someone who wasn't even supposed to be living there…

…someone who, technically speaking, wasn't living at all.

He appeared almost at once, not at the window, but by my side. That's the thing about the undead. They never have to worry about the stairs. Or walls.

“Susannah.” The moonlight threw Jesse's features into high relief. There were dark pools in the place where his eyes should have been, and the scar in his eyebrow–a dog bite wound from childhood–showed starkly white.

Still, even with the tricks the moon was playing, he was the best looking thing I had ever seen. I don't think it's just the fact that I'm madly in love with him that makes me think so, either. I'd shown the miniature portrait of him I'd accidentally-on-purpose snagged from the Carmel Historical Society to CeeCee, and she'd agreed. Hottie extraordinaire, was how she'd put it, to be exact.

“You don't have to bother with these,” he said, reaching out to brush the remaining pebbles from my hand. “I knew you were here. I heard you calling.”

Except, of course, that I hadn't. Called him. But whatever. He was here now, and that's what mattered.

“What is it, Susannah?” Jesse wanted to know. He'd moved out of the shadows of the rectory, so that I could finally see his eyes. As usual, they were darkly liquid and full of intelligence…intelligence, and something else. Something, I like to think, that's just for me.

“Just stopped by to say hi,” I said, with a shrug. It was chilly enough that when I spoke, I could see my breath fog up in front of me.

This didn't happen when Jesse spoke, however. Because, of course, he has no breath.

“At three in the morning?” The dark eyebrows shot up, but he looked more amused than alarmed. “On a schoolnight?”

He had me there, of course.

“Father D asked me to pick up some catfood,” I said, brandishing a bag. “I didn't want Sister Ernestine to see me smuggling it in. She's not supposed to know about Spike.”

“Catfood,” Jesse said. Now he definitely looked amused. “Is that all?”

It wasn't all, and he knew it. But it also wasn't what he thought. At least, not exactly.

Still, when he pulled me towards him, I didn't exactly object. Especially not considering that there's only one place in the world I feel completely safe anymore, and that's where I was just then…in his arms.
“You're cold, querida,” he whispered, into my hair. “You're shivering.”

I was, but not because I was cold. Well, not only because I was cold. I closed my eyes, melting in his embrace as I always did, reveling in the feel of his strong arms around me, his hard chest beneath my cheek. I wished I could have stayed that way forever–in Jesse's arms, I mean, where nothing could ever hurt me. Because he'd never let it.

I don't know how long we stood like that in the vegetable garden behind the rectory where Father Dom lived. All I know is that eventually Jesse, who'd been stroking my hair, pulled back a little, so that he could look down into my face.

“What is it, Susannah?” he asked me again, his voice sounding strangely rough, considering the tenderness of the moment. “What's wrong?”

“Nothing,” I lied, because I didn't want it to end…the moonlight, his embrace, any of it…all of it.

“Not nothing,” he said, reaching up and pulling a strand of hair from where the wind had blown it, so that it was sticking to my lip gloss. I always seem to have that problem. “I know you, Susannah. I know there's something the matter. Come.”

He took me by the hand and pulled. I went with him, even though I didn't know where we were going. I'd have followed him anywhere, even into the bowels of hell. Only of course he'd never take me there.

Unlike some people.

I did balk a little when I saw where he had led me, though. It wasn't exactly hell, but….

“The car?” I stared at the hood of my mom's Honda Accord.

“You're cold,” Jesse said, firmly, opening the driver's side door for me. “We can talk inside.”

Talking wasn't really what I'd had in mind. Still, I figured we could do what I had had in mind just as easily in the car as in the rectory's vegetable garden. And it would be a lot warmer.

Only Jesse wasn't having any of it. He seized both my hands as I tried to slip them around his neck, and placed them firmly in my lap.

“Tell me,” he said, from the shadows of the passenger seat, and I could tell by his voice that he was in no mood for games.

I sighed and stared out the windshield. As far as romance went, this was not exactly what I'd call a prime make-out spot. Big Sur, maybe. The Winter Formal, definitely. But the rectory parking lot at the Junipero Serra Mission? Not so much.

“What is it, querida?” He reached out to sweep back some of my hair, which had fallen over my face.

When he saw my expression, however, he pulled his hand back.

“Oh. Him,” he said, in an entirely different voice.

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. That he'd known, I mean, without my having said anything. There was just so much I hadn't told Jesse–so much that I'd decided I didn't dare tell him. My agreement with Paul, for instance–that, in return for Paul not removing Jesse to the great beyond, I'd meet with him after school every Wednesday under the auspices of learning more about our unique skill…although truthfully, most of the time it seemed all Paul wanted to do was get his tongue in my mouth, not study mediator lore.

Jesse would not have been particularly enthused had he known of the lessons…less so if he'd had an inkling of what they actually entailed. There was no love lost between Jesse and Paul, whose relationship had been rocky from the start. Paul seemed to think he was superior to Jesse merely because he happened to be alive and Jesse was not, while Jesse disliked Paul because he'd been born with every privilege in the world–including the ability to communicate with the dead–and yet chose to use his gifts for his own selfish purposes.

Of course, their mutual disdain for one another might also have had something to do with me.

Back before Jesse had come into my life, I used to sit around and fantasize about how great it would be to have two guys fighting over me. Now that it was actually happening, though, I realized what a fool I'd been. There was nothing funny about the grounding I'd gotten the last time the two of them had gone at it, destroying half the house in the process.
And that fight hadn't even been my fault. Much.

“It's just,” I said, careful not to meet his gaze, because I knew if I looked into those twin dark pools, I'd be lost, as usual, “Paul's been…worse than usual.”

“Worse?” The glance Jesse shot me was stiletto sharp. “Worse in what way? Susannah, if he's laid a hand on you–”

“Not that,” I interrupted quickly, realizing with a sinking heart that the speech I'd been up half the night rehearsing–the speech that I'd convinced myself was so perfect, I needed to hurry right down to the rectory to say it now, at once, even though it was the middle of the night and I'd have to “borrow” my mom's car to get there–wasn't perfect at all…was, in fact, completely wrong.

“What I mean is, lately, he's been threatening…well, to do something I don't really understand. To you.”

Jesse looked amused. Which was not exactly the reaction I'd been expecting.

“So you came rushing down here,” he said, “in the middle of the night, to warn me? Susannah, I'm touched.”

“Jesse, I'm serious,” I said. “It was something Paul said about you, and what he was going to do you. Not kill you–”

“That,” Jesse interrupted, dryly, “would be difficult, querida, given that I'm already dead.”

I glared at him. “You know what I mean. He said he wasn't going to kill you. He was going to…I think he said he was going to keep you from having died in the first place.”

Even in the darkness of the car's interior, I saw Jesse's eyebrow go up.

“He has a very high opinion of his own abilities, that one,” was all he said, however.

“Jesse,” I said. I couldn't believe he wasn't taking Paul's threat seriously. “He really meant it. He's said it to me a couple of times, now. I seriously think he might be up to something.”

“Slater is always going to be up to something where you're concerned, Susannah,” Jesse said, in a voice that suggested he was more than a little tired of the subject. “He's in love with you. Ignore him, and eventually he'll go away.”

“Jesse,” I said. I couldn't, of course, tell him that I'd have liked nothing better than to turn my back on Paul and his manipulative ways, but that I couldn't, because I'd promised him I wouldn't…in return for Jesse's life. Or at least his continued presence in this dimension. “I really think–”

“Ignore him, Susannah.” Jesse was smiling a little now as he shook his head. “He's only saying these things because he knows they upset you, and then you pay attention to him. 'Oh, Paul! No, don't, Paul.'”

I looked at him in horror. “Was that supposed to be an imitation of me?”

“Don't gratify him by paying attention,” Jesse went on, as if he hadn't heard me, “and he'll grow tired of it and move on.”

“I don't sound anything like that.” I chewed my lower lip uncertainly. “Do I really sound like that?”

“And now, if that's all,” Jesse went on, ignoring me exactly the way he'd told me to ignore Paul, “I think you should be getting home, querida. If your mother should wake and find you gone, you know she'll worry. Besides, don't you have school in a few hours?”

“But–”

“Querida.” Jesse leaned over the gear shift and slipped a hand behind my neck. “You worry too much.”

“Jesse, I–”

But I didn't get to finish what I'd started to say–nor, a second later, could I even recall what I'd meant to tell him. That's because he'd pulled me–gently, but inexorably–towards him, and covered my mouth with his.

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More later.

Much love,

Meg