You know when you’re watching a movie and it’s near the end and the villain has one or a few (but not all) of the good guys trapped somewhere and instead of doing the rational thing and killing the good guys, the villain decides to go on a long monologue, thus giving the hero a chance to come in and save the day?
This is that chapter. Now that you know what happens, you can stop reading.
Alice, Jasper and Bella go to the Phoenix Airport to meet Edward, whose flight is coming in.
Bella loses them by pulling the oldest trick in the book. She says she’s hungry, then asks that Jasper go with her to look at all the expensive food options instead of Alice because…
I’m not really sure why.
With Alice taken care of. Bella pretends not to be interested in any of the overpriced restaurants, then tells Jasper she has to go to the bathroom. Being the naive, gentlemanly vampire that he is, he doesn’t object, and he doesn’t follow her.
She takes off. Runs, gets on a shuttle to the Hyatt, but which one? Hyatt Place Phoenix-North? Hyatt Regency Phoenix? Hyatt Place Tempe/Phoenix Airport? Probably the last one. I wish Stephenie Meyer was more specific. I spent 10 minutes trying to figure out which Hyatt she was talking about. Don’t worry, this will all make sense in a little bit.
Once the shuttle arrives at Hyatt Place Tempe/Phoenix Airport, Bella jumps off and gets in a taxi. She asks the driver to take her to her mom’s house in Scottsdale. When he questions her, she throws $80 at him and he agrees to take her there.
Now to figure out where Renee lives. The dance studio is at 58th Street and Cactus Road. I looked it up on Google Maps, and it turns out there is a street in Scottsdale called North 58th Street, and it intersects with East Cactus Road. There’s no dance studio there. Only a house and something called Schuller Aerospace Services International. But I’ll let it slide.
In a previous chapter, Bella says that the studio is right around the corner from her mom’s house. In this chapter, she tells the taxi driver that the number is 5821. She doesn’t say the street name, but I don’t need that. As it so happens, there is a 5821 East Cactus Road, right around the corner from the dance studio. Here it is:
I spent one hour on Valentine’s Day to figure all of this out. You should be proud of me.
Anyway, Bella spent $80 on a taxi. That sounded like a lot to me, so I did some research. And what I found was that I think she overpaid. Now, to be fair, the calculations that I did were based on 2016 taxi prices, not 2005, when this book was written.
While on her expensive taxi ride, Bella tries to ignore all the bad stuff that’s going on and think about something more positive: Edward. She imagines what it would’ve been like if she had stayed at the airport and met him. She imagines running into his “marble arms” and giving him a hug. She imagines going to a remote beach with him and watching his skin sparkle. She can almost hear his voice…
The driver interrupts her fantasy by asking her for the address again. When they arrive, he doesn’t ask if she wants her change. This man took advantage of a panicked girl whom he was driving to her death. Not the best of people, if you ask me. Now I am never taking a taxi in Arizona, because they’re all probably just like this guy.
Bella goes up to the house, takes the spare key under the eave and unlocks the door, goes inside, goes to the phone. There’s a number written on the whiteboard next to the phone. She calls it, and Tracker James answers. He’s impressed that she’s arrived so quickly and he tells her to head over to the ballet studio. Her mom is doing OK. So far.
Like a good rule-follower, Bella heads over to the dance place. Here we have some of Meyer’s best writing so far, as she takes us through Bella’s memories:
“I could almost see my mother standing in the shade of the big eucalyptus tree where I’d played as a child. Or kneeling by the little plot of dirt around the mailbox, the cemetery of all the flowers she tried to grow.”
At the ballet studio, Bella hears her mom’s panicked voice. Then she hears her mom laugh. Then she sees Renee at the beach on a TV screen. Then she sees the TV screen go blue. Then she turns around and sees Tracker James. Then she realizes: she’s been tricked!
Tracker James was using recordings of Renee’s voice to make it sound like she was in trouble. That’s a sly move, Tricky Tracker James. Renee is still in Florida. She’s still in danger just because she’s in Florida, but nowhere near the level of danger that Bella thought she was in.
This is where we get our first good look at Tracker James. He’s wearing jeans and a long-sleeved shirt. To Bella, there’s nothing remarkable about his face or body, but to be fair, when you’ve gazed upon the body of Jacob Black, every other man will look unremarkable.
Tracker James says he’s a bit disappointed that this was all so easy, that Edward’s not here to make things a little tougher. But he should have no one to blame but himself for this. He was the one who told Bella that if she brought any backup, if she had any vampires to help her, then her mother was as good as dead. If he truly wanted a challenge, he should’ve told Bella to bring all the vampires she could.
Instead of killing Bella right now and ending the story (and the series [and the film franchise]), Tracker James decides to monologue, as is common among villains, all of whom never seem to learn from previous villains that this is almost never a good idea. They have to realize that gloating is never better than completing the task at hand.
If villains could learn to be a little more humble, there would be much fewer happy endings.
Here we go: Tracker James heard Bella say she was going to Phoenix to visit her mother. He goes to Phoenix on a hunch, that hunch being that humans are predictable and will go somewhere safe and familiar, and because it would “be the perfect ploy, to go to the last place you should be when you’re hiding — the place that you said you’d be.”
Victoria, the female vampire who was with TJ, monitors the Cullens for him and through her, he learns that his hunch was correct. He watches Bella’s old home movies and then uses them to trick her.
And now, he’s going to film himself killing Bella so that Edward can watch it later. That doesn’t seem like a nice thing to do, but what do I know?
Tracker James talks about the one and only time that his prey got away, years ago. He had his eyes on a young girl, but her protector, an old vampire, turned her into a vampire, and Tracker James lost interest. The whole story is confusing because TJ doesn’t tell it well because Meyer doesn’t write it well.
Why is this story significant? Because the young girl was Alice! That’s kind of cool, but Alice was never that interesting of a character, so I didn’t care that she didn’t know how she became a vampire, so this reveal doesn’t do much for me as a reader.
Tracker James does remember one thing about Alice: “She did smell so delicious. I still regret that I never got to taste…She smelled even better than you do. Sorry — I don’t mean to be offensive. You have a very nice smell. Floral, somehow…”
It seems like being creepy isn’t just restricted to Edward — it’s a vampire thing.
Bella tries to run away, but Tracker James is too fast. He knocks her down and breaks her leg. He moves in for the kill. Bella closes her eyes.