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Home > The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner (Twilight #3.5)

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner (Twilight #3.5)
Author: Stephenie Meyer

Chapters 1

THE NEWSPAPER HEADLINE GLARED AT ME FROM a little metal vending machine: SEATTLE UNDER SIEGE - DEATH TOLL RISES

AGAIN. I hadn't seen this one yet. Some paperboy must have just restocked the machine. Lucky for him, he was nowhere around now.

Great. Riley was going to blow a gasket. I would make sure I wasn't within reach when he saw this paper. Let him rip somebody else's arm off.

I stood in the shadow behind the corner of a shabby threestory building, trying to be inconspicuous while I waited for someone to make a decision. Not wanting to meet anyone's eyes, I stared at the wal beside me instead. The ground floor of the building housed a record shop that had long since closed; the windows, lost to weather or street violence, were fil ed in with plywood. Over the top were apartments - empty, I guessed, since the normal sounds of sleeping humans were absent. I wasn't surprised - the place looked like it would col apse in a stiff wind. The buildings on the other side of the dark, narrow street were just as wrecked.

The normal scene for a night out on the town.

I didn't want to speak up and draw attention, but I wished somebody would decide something. I was real y thirsty, and I didn't care much whether we went right or left or over the roof. I just wanted to find some unlucky people who wouldn't even have enough time to think wrong place, wrong time. Unfortunately tonight Riley'd sent me out with two of the most useless vampires in existence. Riley never seemed to care who he sent out in hunting groups. Or particularly bugged when sending out the wrong people together meant fewer people coming home. Tonight I was stuck with Kevin and some blond kid whose name I didn't know. They both belonged to Raoul's gang, so it went without saying that they were stupid. And dangerous. But right now, mostly stupid.

Instead of picking a direction for our hunt, suddenly they were in the middle of an argument over whose favorite superhero would be a better hunter. The nameless blond was demonstrating his case for Spider-Man now, skittering up the brick wal of the al ey while humming the cartoon theme song. I sighed in frustration. Were we ever going to hunt?

A little flicker of movement to my left caught my eye. It was the other one Riley had sent out in this hunting group, Diego. I didn't know much about him, just that he was older than most of the others. Riley's right-hand man was the word. That didn't make me like him any more than the other morons. Diego was looking at me. He must have heard the sigh. I looked away.

Keep your head down and your mouth shut - that was the way to stay alive in Riley's crowd.

"Spider-Man is such a whiny loser," Kevin cal ed up to the blond kid. "I'l show you how a real superhero hunts." He grinned wide. His teeth flashed in the glare of a streetlight. Kevin jumped into the middle of the street just as the lights from a car swung around to il uminate the cracked pavement with a blue-white gleam. He flexed his arms back, then pul ed them slowly together like a pro wrestler showing off. The car came on, probably expecting him to get the hel out of the way like a normal person would. Like he should.

"Hulk mad!" Kevin bel owed. "Hulk... SMASH!"

He leaped forward to meet the car before it could brake, grabbed its front bumper, and flipped it over his head so that it struck the pavement upside down with a squeal of bending metal and shattering glass. Inside, a woman started screaming.

"Oh man," Diego said, shaking his head. He was pretty, with dark, dense, curly hair, big, wide eyes, and real y ful lips, but then, who wasn't pretty? Even Kevin and the rest of Raoul's morons were pretty. "Kevin, we're supposed to be laying low. Riley said - "

"Riley said!" Kevin mimicked in a harsh soprano. "Get a spine, Diego. Riley's not here."

Kevin sprang over the upside-down Honda and punched out the driver's side window, which had somehow stayed intact up to that point. He fished through the shattered glass and the deflating air bag for the driver.

I turned my back and held my breath, trying my hardest to hold on to the ability to think.

I couldn't watch Kevin feed. I was too thirsty for that, and I real y didn't want to pick a fight with him. I so did not need to be on Raoul's hit list.

The blond kid didn't have the same issues. He pushed off from the bricks overhead and landed lightly behind me. I heard him and Kevin snarling at each other, and then a wet tearing sound as the woman's screams cut off. Probably them ripping her in half.

I tried not to think about it. But I could feel the heat and hear the dripping behind me, and it made my throat burn so bad even though I wasn't breathing.

"I'm outta here," I heard Diego mutter.

He ducked into a crevice between the dark buildings, and I fol owed right on his heels. If I didn't get away from here fast, I'd be squabbling with Raoul's goons over a body that couldn't have had much blood left in it by now anyway. And then maybe I'd be the one who didn't come home.

Ugh, but my throat burned! I clamped my teeth together to keep from screaming in pain.

Diego darted through a trash-fil ed side al ey, and then - when he hit the dead end - up the wal . I dug my fingers into the crevices between the bricks and hauled myself up after him. On the rooftop, Diego took off, leaping lightly across the other roofs toward the lights shimmering off the sound. I stayed close. I was younger than he was, and therefore stronger - it was a good thing we younger ones were strongest, or we wouldn't have lived through our first week in Riley's house. I could have passed him easy, but I wanted to see where he was going, and I didn't want to have him behind me. Diego didn't stop for miles; we were almost to the industrial docks. I could hear him muttering under his breath.

"Idiots! Like Riley wouldn't give us instructions for a good reason. Self-preservation, for example. Is an ounce of common sense so much to ask for?"

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