Two weeks have passed since the arrival of the Cullens and I felt as though I was doing a masterful job of avoiding them thus far; with the help of a few other vampires of course. The skill to which I was achieving these feats was to the point that I had only caught a glimpse of Alice and Emmett in the halls twice, and Esme had almost caught up to me only three times. Both times I was in the presence of both Heidi and Jane who would quickly adjust our route while Jane would glare at them, daring them to try and follow. I believe that on some level she did want them to follow so she could use her power on them, she had already asked me no less than a hundred times if she could do it just once to the "annoying pixie," or "oversized man child," or "stepford housewife wannabe." My suspicion was she singled out Alice, Emmett, and Esme was because their abandonment had hurt me the most, and that Esme was putting Sulpicia in such an uncomfortable state.
The warning my mate and mother had given me two weeks ago about Sulpicia's instincts had been lacking to say the least. I do not believe more than an hour or two has gone by without Sulpicia coming to check in on me, which would happen without any warning. This has led to Heidi and I being caught in compromising positions numerous times. One would think that Heidi would be able to hear my mother coming, and I still have my suspicions that she does hear her and chooses to ignore her coming, in favor of continuing our….activities. I'm almost certain that everyone in the castle knows when this happens because I can feel the intensity of my blush every single time. One would think the situation would lose some of its ability to embarrass me, but that has not happened yet. Every time it occurs Sulpicia scolds Heidi for her lack of "awareness," while I try to hide my face in my mates back shoulder blade. Thank god we have never gone farther than second base, I cannot imagine Sulpicia walking in on us having sex. Eventually, Sulpicia tells me I have five minutes to become presentable before we go off on some sort of adventure.
So far Sulpicia has managed to take me on a tour of the entire castle, had me help redecorate the females' hideaway (twice), watched many movies, redesigned my suite, and cooked just about every meal I have eaten. While I could feel myself growing annoyed at times, I never really got angry with Sulpicia though because I could tell she was trying, I could tell her instincts were having a hard enough time with the amount of time I spent apart from her already, and it wasn't getting better. But that was the part that confused me, I hadn't spent any time with Esme, so I thought things would get better now that it has been two weeks, but if anything its gotten worse. I was planning on asking my mother about it the next time I saw her when finally, my two week streak had run its course, and I came face to face with Esme Cullen, alone.
All I could think when I realized I was in a deserted hallway and I first got a glimpse of the predatory glare Esme had was that I shouldn't have argued so vehemently with Aro about having a personal guard. I foolishly thought that since two weeks had gone by without incidence that my parents and mate could let up a bit on the 24/7 guard detail. Especially since Edward wasn't here either. I was beginning to go crazy without any alone time whatsoever and decided to plead my case to my parents, mate, and aunts and uncles. It took two hours, yelling, and some tears, but I finally had convinced my parents that I should be allotted an hour a day where I could just think by myself. Unsurprisingly, Sulpicia had put up the biggest fight, and quickly figured out that trying to get more than an hour a day without a guard was going to be an impossibility for the foreseeable future. I did not need Alice to tell me that one.
However, I was still slightly puzzled by their conviction on this matter. I had proven that I wasn't a flight risk, and that I truly had no interest in reconnecting with the Cullens, so I personally did not understand the issue. All of the guard were no threat to me, and I promised to stay far away from the throne room where possible unknown vampires would be. Today was the first time I could do this as both of my parents, mate, and typical guard were in the throne room handling some political situation. My parents realized they needed all of the elite guard and as they didn't trust anyone else with me, they agreed to a trial run of my walking around without a guard for an hour. I was fully prepared for Sulpicia to be counting down the seconds to when one hour exactly was up. She and I sincerely needed to have a discussion.
Now, in this moment, I realized that my parents were never going to let me be without a guard again. And that would only be if Sulpicia ever let me leave her line of sight again. Before I could continue to berate myself for prematurely cancelling my guard Esme had pulled me out of my personal musings by invading my personal space. Esme was standing maybe a foot away from me when I realized she was coming closer I went to take a step back. For every step back I took Esme took one towards me until I felt my back hit the wall behind me. I immediately began panicking, looking for the closest escape route when my eyes fell on Esme's face. She looked hurt, as though she could guess what I was trying to do.
Once she realized she had my attention Esme addressed me. "Bella, I have been trying to talk to you alone for a while now. Bella, I want you to know how sorry I am, how sorry all of us are. We should have never left you, I should have never left you. You mean everything to me, and I miss my daughter. Please, I know you're confused right now, and I know you've been told a lot of things, but, please Bella give us, give me another chance to be your family."
During Esme's little speech I felt my anger increase more and more, and I let it be known as I pushed off of the wall and got into Esme's personal space. "No, you don't get to do this! You don't get to come in here and apologize and just assume everything will go back to being the same. Nothing is the same! I am not in love with Edward, Heidi is my mate. Carlise is not my father, Aro is. You are not my mother, Sulpicia is." By the end of my little tirade I was out of breathe and still angry. Esme, went from looking like a wounded puppy to angry in less than a second.
Esme once again backed me into the wall, this time putting a hand on either side of my head, as to prevent all possible escape routes. "No, Isabella you listen to me. We may have screwed up, and I agree Edward is not your mate, Carlise is not your father, but I am your mother!" She looked down at me with such conviction, that she almost had me feeling sorry for her, almost being the key word.
Staring defiantly right back at her I made my opinion known. "No Esme, you are not. A mother does not abandon her child in the manner you did. A mother does not allow the whims of a whiny 100 year old vampire dictate the decisions of an entire coven. A mother does not have the suspicions you did and then allow her child to suffer, without giving her any type of guidance or protection. You are not my mother Esme Cullen."
I held eye contact with Esme through each and every one of my statements, willing her to see the truth in my words, the logic they held. But today was not a day of logic I guess.
"Isabella Marie Swan, you have been told briefly my side of the story. You're correct a mother does not do all of those things. But mothers are fallible and I made mistakes, however do not think for one second I made any of these choices lightly. Do not think that you were the only one suffering from Edward's selfish and domineering actions. Just ask your siblings, ask how I would not look at Carlisle for days on end, or how our mating bond has all but disappeared under the weight of this situation, or how I begged Carlisle to let us go back and get you, or just check in on you. I love you Bella, at the very least acknowledge that."
I could see the utter desperation in heart eyes, willing me to listen to her. Part of me wanted to, I was never the type to hold grudges, and the other part of me was telling me she left once, she'll do it again. Before I could even formulate a reply though a blur came through and crashed into Esme.
The only things my human eyes could keep up with was a blur of two colors constantly topping over one another and keeping a relatively safe distance from me. Within seconds of the initial impact I felt a pair of arms pull me farther away from the scene and into the embrace of my mate. I could immediately feel it was her and I turned to give her a look of questioning. Understanding where I was coming from she whispered to me "Sulpicia, Aro and I felt your distress in the throne room so Sulpicia and I snuck out the back during the meeting. When Sulpicia saw Esme had you pinned to the wall she let her vampire instincts take control."
At the end of her explanation I saw Sulpicia had Esme pinned to the wall with one hand enclosing her throat and heard the snarls coming from her mouth. Even with my human eyes I could see the spider cracks forming around the grip, indicating how much pressure Sulpicia was applying.
"I swear to all that you hold dear Esme Cullen that if I ever see you pinning my daughter against a wall or anything else for that matter, ever again, I will end you. I will take pleasure in ripping you limb for limb and using them as kindling for a bon fire. Do you understand me?"
I could see the fight still left in Esme's eyes as she took in Sulpicia's words, and then to my surprise she nodded her head in understanding, clearly not being able to speak. It looked as though Sulpicia did not buy her acceptance either yet she put her back on the ground anyways. The two engaged in a stare down, which ended when Sulpicia very possessively pulled me out of Heidi's arms to pull me into her own. She held me tightly to her and whispered in my ear asking me if I was alright. Once she felt me nodding in the affirmative she gently pushed me back so she could see me for myself.
It was at this action that a small growl could be heard from Esme. At this Sulpicia pulled me into her once more, this time with my back pushing into her front and her arms wrapped firmly across my shoulders. She pressed an unnecessary kiss to the top of my head, and I could only imagine the look on her face, it was probably screaming for Esme to challenge her position. At the moment I did not know how far gone into her instincts Sulpicia was, but I could only imagine that if Esme did not back down soon, she would not have an opportunity to back down at all.
Esme must have sensed that the battle was lost, she was outnumbered, as Heidi was present as well and she stopped growling. However, she did engage in some parting words for us. "Bella, I understand you are incredibly hurt by us right now, but when you're ready to talk and hear me out I will be here. Remember, I love you."
Before anyone could react Esme was gone, she must have one into survival mode, because I could feel Sulpicia's hold tightening with every word she spoke. By the time my mind processed her final words I felt Sulpicia's body rumble and I could sense Heidi's uneasiness with the situation. Sulpicia must have felt Heidi approaching because I felt her body go rigid, as if on high alert.
Heidi approached slowly, and in full view of Sulpicia with her hands up. "Sulpicia, you got to her, Isabella is safe. It is me, Heidi, her mate. I am no threat to you or Isabella. You are her mother I am not her to challenge you."
Heidi kept slowly approaching, with each word I felt Sulpicia's hold lessen, though never completely letting me go. Heidi knew better than to try and pull me from her arms though, as she just kept trying to talk Sulpicia down. "Sulpicia, I do not want you to let go of Isabella, but we need to move her closer to Aro and the guards. Can we take her to your room?"
Instead of verbally answering her Sulpicia moved me so she was carrying me bridal style and when my brain was finally able to catch up to the events we were in Sulpicia's suite with her on the couch holding me to her. She supported my head with one arm as my legs went across her lap and onto the couch. Heidi stayed a respectable distance away, opting to sit in one of the unoccupied chairs directly across from us.
It must have been ten minutes of silence before Aro joined us, and seeing his wife in such a state immediately turned his mood into complete seriousness. "What happened?"
As Sulpicia was still lost in her instincts to protect Heidi gave a brief synopsis of what she witnessed. She informed Aro of Esme and Sulpicia's words and actions, as well as the position to which Sulpicia and Heidi had found Esme and I. At this my father turned to me and asked what Esme had done to me. I truthfully answered nothing and told him it was another attempt to receive my forgiveness and try to and sway my favor. I told him that I had stood my ground and informed Esme that Sulpicia was my mother, not her.
This information did little to soothe Aro, as I realized from his subsequent tirade. "This Isabella is exactly why we wanted you to have 24/7 protection. You were not alone for more than twenty minutes before one of the Cullens cornered you! Do you understand that you will never be without a personal guard again?! No, this will not happen again. What if something had happened Isabella? What if Esme lost her temper at your persistent rejections?"
Aro's speech got louder and louder with each rhetorical question and I met my father's stare head on through this entire speech, but it was the only thing I could do. I knew the minute Esme cornered me that this would be the outcome. Since I technically had no defense, at least one that I thought would work I kept silent.
This only seemed to spur Aro on though as he continued his rant, "Actually forget about the guard, your mother probably will not be leaving your side for the foreseeable future! I will be having another discussion with the Cullens and you will not argue about having a personal guard, are we understood?"
I nodded my understanding, taken aback by the firmness in Aro's words. In my time here thus far Aro had never directed his orders at me, and I found that I did not enjoy being on the receiving end of such attention.
Aro must have sensed my discomfort as he strutted across the room and crouched down to be eye level with me. "Isabella, I am sorry for the way this is being done but you need to understand that your safety is my number one priority. I knew I shouldn't have given in when you requested a reduction in your guard. This is how it will be from now on."
Feeling a surge of courage at these final words I finally voiced my own opinion. "I understand the need for the guard, I won't deny that Esme scared the hell out of me back there, but you don't need to take your frustration out on me." I stared into my father's eyes as I said this with conviction.
To my surprise Aro agreed with me. "You're right, I was a bit harsh in my delivery and I apologize for this Isabella. It was my reaction to the fear of losing you and I handled it poorly. I finally got a dose of the emotions your mother has been enduring and they are not pleasant. After this you really should not be surprised if she does not let you out of her sight for the next few days."
"I appreciate the apology father, and honestly the minute I saw Esme I knew that not having a guard was no longer an option. You never gave me much of a chance to agree. I don't want to be put into that position again."
This time Aro nodded, seemingly satisfied with my explanation. I also felt pretty good, I stood up for myself, something I was learning to do here. If the look on Heidi's face was anything to go on I could tell she was proud as well.
We spent the rest of the afternoon coaxing Sulpicia out of her instincts, which took a couple of hours. Once that was complete I could tell there was no exaggeration at all on Aro's part, Sulpicia was not going to let me out of her sight. This would be an interesting test for Heidi and I to try and find some alone time.
A/N: So my computer crashed and I lost all of my files. I tried to get this chapter to flow with the rest of the story but honestly I don't know how well I did. Hope you enjoyed it!