Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or its characters. That honor goes to Stephanie Meyer.

This story just popped into my head and wouldn't leave so I decided to write it all out in hopes that thoughts about it would stop popping up while I was trying to write more of my other story, Blind Love. I am pretty sure this will end up being three insanely long chapters so bear with me, please. Thanks! Hope you enjoy it!

Chapter 1: Volterra

I am an idiot.

That is the only explanation for why I am here now, once again putting my life on the line.

There was a time when I would have rushed right in, no care as to whether or not I would make it out alive. Now, however, all I can think about is how stupid I am for listening to her and getting myself into yet another situation where death is almost a certainty. Even as I push through the crowd of people wearing red cloaks to get to him, I am wishing for a dark private alley and blowtorch to use on his ass.

And then I saw him, at the base of the clock tower just as she, Alice, said he would be. The selfish, suicidal fucker is going to get us all killed.

"Edward!" I screamed, throwing myself at his concrete body. "There you are!" In a lower tone, so only he - and every other vampire in the square, if there are any - could hear. "Get your soon to be sparkling ass back into the shadows Edward!"

"Bella?" Edward said dazedly. "You can't be here. You're dead."

"So dead people have pulses now-days," I rolled my eyes, sarcasm practically dripping from my tone. "Good to know."

"Bella!" Edward wrapped his arms around me - ugh, really! - and pulled into the relative safety of the clock tower. "You're alive! How?!"

"Fucking pixie doesn't know shit," I muttered, struggling to get out of my ex's tightening grip. "And Rosalie is a total bimbo. I was cliff diving you moron!"

"You're alive," Edward murmured, rubbing his cheek against the top of my head, his grasp not relaxing once. "You're alive!"

"Let me go Edward!" I ordered, continuing to struggle. "Fuck!" I swore as his arms tightened again, no doubt bruising my already sore ribs. First CPR from an adolescent werewolf and now this? I seriously don't think my bones can take much more pounding before they crumble...or that's how it feels anyway.

"Feisty for a human," a heavily accented voice said nonchalantly from the shadows. What?! It's dark in here, and it's not like I have vamp-vision or something. Come to think of it, why didn't Edward - or Fuckward, as I have taken to calling him in my head - hear these two coming? So much for superior vampire senses. Humph! "Dibs." Did whoever it is just call dibs on me? Really? I guess I should be flattered but all I feel is pissed.

"Hey, not cool, Dem," said a deep baritone resonated. "I saw her first." Are they toddlers? Why do I feel like these two would get along really well with Jake and the boys? Maybe I'll introduce them, if I don't die that is. Meanwhile, Fuckward, in all his infinite wisdom - note the sarcasm - constricted his clasp on my ribs further, this time I actually hear the bones crack.

"Edward," I choked out. "Let...go."

Suddenly he drops to the floor shrieking, clutching his head. Oops. Did I break him? Hell, his screeching is annoying. I look towards the new comers, taking a few breaths, relishing the feeling of air flowing into my oxygen starved lungs. Given that two of the three vamps are not-so-gentle giants that must have been body-builders in their human lives, you would think I'd feel intimidated or scared but nope, not even a dash of fear. Just morbid curiosity. I look at the third cloaked figure and smile a little, she is a cute little blonde girl, no more than thirteen physically, and she is currently glaring at Fuckward. Guess I wasn't the one to break him...too bad.

"Find something funny human?" The girl hisses, her crimson eyes glaring holes in my chest. The two giants had moved around me at vampire speed and now held a groaning Edward by the arms.

"No," I shook my head sadly. "It is just that you were turned so young...it must be hard on you. And you dropped Fuckward with just a look...that was pretty awesome - been wishing to do that myself for a while."

"Umm...I suppose," the girl blinked, a confused expression forming on her face as she rose from her crouch. "Come, the kings wish to see you."

While the girl and I were talking one or both of the Goliaths wrapped Edward in chains and now the vampire named Dem - probably a short form, but hey, its a name - had the bronze haired bozo lugged over his shoulder. Fuckward was sputtering indignantly, yelling at the giant to put him down. He finally got so irritating that the girl, whose name I learned was Jane, shoved some sort of metallic ball-gag into his mouth, effectively shutting him up. I wonder if I could get one of those...maybe it would work on Jacob? Nah...he'd probably just turn into a wolf and swallow it whole.

When we came to an uncovered duct Jane jumped in first, followed by Dem and Edward who was still reenacting a sack of potatoes.

"Grab on human," the second giant, the one with the baritone that sent shivers up and down my spine, whispered into my ear. "If you do not wish to be treated the same as your...mate."

I did as he said, not bothering to correct him about Fuckward's and my relationship. I winced as the movement pulled on my injured ribs. We landed softly, surprisingly so for such a huge being, and he let go quick, as though I was on fire. I wonder if I smell bad or something...I did just arrive from an 18 hour plane trip so I guess it's possible that I don't smell too fresh.

"Come," Jane nodded to the shiny metal doors I hadn't noticed before. We boarded the elevator and the doors closed, entrapping me with four bloodthirsty vampires; brilliant idea, that. If the vampires don't kill me, the annoying elevator music playing just might.

After what seemed to be hours - I know it was only a few seconds but you can't really blamed me for embellishing...have YOU ever been in trapped in a box with several beings that would love nothing more than to drain you of every drop of your blood? No, I thought not - the doors opened once more and I tumbled into what looked to be a receiving area, the vampires following more leisurely after me.

"I fratelli sono stati in attesa per il vostro arrivo, Mistress Jane," the human receptionist grinned, waving us towards the heavy wood doors. I wonder if I should let them know I speak Italian? Nah. [The brothers have been waiting on your arrival, Mistress Jane.]

"So the Volturi hires human help...huh," I said, trying to wrap my mind around the concept. "You going to change her?"

"Maybe," Dem shrugged, gosling the vampire-burrito on his shoulder.

"Or she'll be dessert," Jane smirked evilly. I think that she was trying to scare me but I just wanted to offer her a lolly-pop. I get that I am screwed in the head but with my life, who wouldn't be? Instead, I copied Dem and shrugged, acting like I didn't care, because, really, I don't. Edward and his family had broken me beyond repair - or that's what Jake said when I left Forks with Alice, turning him down for the umpteenth time.

"M-un-ses!" Edward mumbled around the metallic ball-gag. I really want to know where they got it - seriously, it was totally handy!

"Shut it Fuckward," I said, tucking my thumbs into the pockets of my skinny jeans. "It's your fault we're here in the first place."

The five of us moved into the throne room where I spotted Alice standing off to the side. Dem dumped Edward onto the floor beside me and Alice rushed to his side, ripping at the chains binding his limbs. I watched them, eyes narrowed, hoping that the bindings wouldn't be easy to remove. Unfortunately they were and Edward bounced up, racing to my side, wrapping his arm around my shoulders in a possessive manner.

"Let me go Edward," I growled, attempting to move out of his grasp. What is with this guy?! Leaves me for six months and now he is all clingy? I don't think so!

"Why love?" he blinks, then smiles, the same smile he used to dazzle me back when we were together.

"If I'm right, the reason we're here is because you, in your infinite idiocy, tried to get yourself killed via the vampire kings," I started slowly, not looking at the other vampires in the room. I realize that I am making a spectacle but as I don't expect to make it out of here alive, the least I can do is expose how utterly mindless this cretin is.

"I thought you were dead, love," Edward sad trying to get his hands on me again but I backed away a few steps. "I can't live in a world without you in it."

"Carlisle once told me that Lord Aro had the ability to read every thought you have ever had in a single touch," I continued, glancing at the dais where three male vampires were seated, before returning my eyes Edward and Alice. "Is that true?"

"Yes, it is!" The middle one chirped cheerily. I recognized him as Aro from the painting in Carlisle's study. His long brown hair and widow's peak enhanced the blood-red of his eyes. He was handsome, in a way, but not really my type.

"Let me guess, Edward. You let Lord Aro over there to read you to convince him to kill you, right?"

"He did," the second of the kings, Marcus, said, in a bored tone. Now him, he is hot - slightly rugged with curly black hair and a five o'clock shadow.

"In that case, Edward, you not only exposed yourself as a law breaker but also your family. Do you not care for the other Cullens at all?"

"How do you know about the law?" Edward stammered, ignoring my question. I rolled my eyes in response.

"I'm not stupid, Eddie, that's how." I shrugged and continued, "Plus, if there is one thing every vampire movie in ever made got right, it is the need to keep humans ignorant of your existence. That is, if you don't want to end up in labs or annihilated or something."

"A smart human," one of the vampires grumbled. "Who knew?"

"You didn't answer my question, Edward. Why would you expose Carlisle, Esme, Emmett, Jasper, Rosalie and Alice to the Volturi's censure just to get yourself killed. There are easier ways you know. And how about my family and friends? Did you think about them at all? Or how about the people you were going to expose yourself to hmm?"

"You were dead," Edward muttered. "I just wanted to die."

"No," I examined Fuckward, an idea popping into my head as I gasped, looking between Edward and Alice with horror. "Holy shit."

"What?" A voice carried down from the dais, the member of the Volturi royalty making himself known. I didn't look at the kings, refusing to move my eyes off my ex-boyfriend and so-called best-friend. "Out with it girl."

"Did you two plan it all?" I asked sadly, adrenaline exhausted, the pain in my side rolling off me in waves. "Why? Why would you do all this just to make sure I died? And that the others went down with me?"

"What do you mean Bella?" Alice squeaked. How I ever found her voice pretty was beyond me.

"The baseball field, James, the birthday party from hell, leaving me in the forest, the four month void, the tribe, Alice showing up just in time to get me here without Edward exposing vampire-kind...all of it, planned!" I exclaimed, pacing as my breathing quickened, the pain in my side becoming more extreme. "All of it attempts on my life. Why!"

"Felix, Demetri, seize them," Aro, no longer chipper, barked, pointing at Edward and Alice. The two giant's from earlier jumped to attention, managing to catch the horrible duo off guard, slamming them both into the ground. "We will deal with them later."

I felt myself falling back, overcome by everything that had happened - not to mention the pain. I squeezed my eyes closed, bracing for impact...but it didn't happen. Instead I looked up, right into the beautiful eyes of Caius Volturi, of all people.

"Are you hurt?" He asked, knocking me out of my self-imposed stupor.

"Fuckward's latest attempt on my life I believe," I moved out of the king's arms - how right they felt - and raised my hoodie to examine the damage on my right side. The Volturi brothers and guard gaped at my wounds, but looking at them, they weren't nearly as bad as it felt. "Hmm...cracked, not broken, I think. I should heal in a week or two."

"Every body out! And Felix, Demetri, escort our guests to the dungeon until I call for them again," Aro ordered, causing the remaining vampires to scatter. Once they were gone, he turned back to me. "Piccolo, I would feel better if you had a doctor look at that," Aro directed. It was obviously an order, not a request from his tone. "I am summoning the Cullen family here - we must get to the bottom of this. If you can wait, Carlisle could examine you." [Little one]

"That sounds good," I nodded. "Why would they do this though?"

"Credo di sapere perché," Marcus muttered from his throne. From the actions of Aro and Caius, his talking is something rare - they were utterly captivated. Thank god they haven't realized I can understand them yet. Its good to be devious, once in a while. Marcus held out his hand, "date un'occhiata voi stessi, Aro." [I think I know why][take a look for yourself, Aro]

Aro moved to his brother, clasping Marcus' hand in both of his, ahhh-ing. "Vere anime gemelle! Magnifico!" [True soul-mates! Magnificent!]

"Marcus sees bonds," Caius elaborated for me, his hands placed loosely on my waist from behind. What is it with male vampires and touching? Doesn't matter that I think Caius is the most gorgeous man I have ever seen, including Carlisle, who could pass for Zeus' hotter younger brother; this whole touchy-feely business has got to stop. Definitely moving away now...maybe...oh, who the hell am I kidding? I leant back into Caius' embrace, feeling safer than I have since...well...ever.

"Yes, I know," I replied stoically, hiding my emotions.

"Carlisle again?" Caius intoned, biting back a snare when I nodded in confirmation. "You spent a great deal of time with him then?"

"Some, not a lot." I now had the attention of all three kings...just what I always wanted. Not. "I am clumsy, even for a human. Carlisle spent a good amount of time stitching me up, setting my bones, wrapping sprained limbs, the list goes on and on. It would be more odd if we didn't talk."

"Piccolo, it would appear that you have lived through much," Aro said, walking over to Caius and I, Marcus beside him, and extended his hand. "May I see?"

"Keep in mind you may not get anything," I said sheepishly. "Part of the reason Edward was interested in me is that he can't read my mind." That being said I placed my hand in Aro's upturned one.

After a moment Aro spoke, the words not surprising me in the least. "Silenzio...non ho mai incontrato una cosa sel genere. Mi domando come..." In English he said, "I cannot hear you Isabella, you were right. Instead, can you tell us? Your story, I mean." [Silence... I have never encountered such a thing. I wonder how...]

"Of course," I acquiesced, flinching as Caius' hands accidentally brushed my ribs. "But first, may I have time to freshen up? I am afraid it was a long trip here and while I did sleep most of the way, other amenities were not offered."

"Oh, yes quite right," Aro nodded happily. I think he was just excited to hear me out. "Caius will escort you to a guest chamber..."

"Perhaps not the best idea, Aro," Marcus said, actually interested. "Isabella is human after all."

"Ah!" Aro fist-palmed...a very awkward looking movement for a 2000 year old guy dressed in elaborate robes, let me assure you.

"The tower then?" Aro asked innocently, practically bouncing. Someone get this guy a Valium.

"No!" both Caius and Marcus barked at the same time. A quick discussion at vampire speed later, the three kings nodded and looked down at me. Not my fault the three of them were giants and I barely reach 5'3".

"You will go with Marcus to his rooms to freshen up. Jane will bring you something to wear and will escort you back to us when you are done."

Marcus offered his arm, which I took, and we left the throne room.

"Umm...does walking at human speed bother you Lord Marcus?" I asked five minutes later.

"No, piccolo, it doesn't. And no need to be so formal. Ah, here we are," Marcus stopped in front of an old wood door, pushing it open. "The shower and like are just through there," Marcus pointed at another door on the other side of the room. "This is where you will be staying while you are here...for now at least. My study is through there," he pointed to a door, opposite to the bathroom. "And my bed chamber is on the other side of it."

"I see," no I don't. "Thank you." Marcus nodded and then disappeared, leaving me shaking my head. I hate it when they do that.

A long hot shower later, I was feeling more myself. I had wrapped my body in the terry-cloth bathrobe that was hanging on the bathroom door and moved into the bedroom, waiting for Jane to appear. I must have dozed off because I was awoken by something - or rather someone - jumping on the bed beside me.

"Isabella, Isabella!" Jane jumped up an down, sounding too much like Alice for my piece of mind. "Come on, you need to get dressed!"

Groaning I sat up, cringing as my side twinged. I looked around and spotted the dark green, floor length Grecian styled dress. "It is very pretty Jane. And call me Bella, would you."

"Master Caius picked it," the teeny-bopper shrugged then pulled my robe off before I could blink. "Put on your underwear," Jane pointed to the tiny scrap of pale green lace that I totally missed. "You don't need a bra with this dress...not that you could wear one with those injuries." Mortified, I pulled on the green thong and allowed Jane to help me with the dress. She put a braided leather belt under my breasts, tying it in the back to accentuate my chest, then wrapped a bronze cuff around my upper arm. This was followed by a bronze chain head-wrap, with an emerald drop, which Jane secured to my dry, wavy hair, the stone laying flat on my forehead, just above my eyebrows. After adding a touch of eye liner, mascara, and lip gloss she declared me done.

"Jane, why am I all dressed up?" I asked, following the pipsqueak through the halls. "I thought I was just going to be telling the kings about my past association with the Cullens."

"After that Lord Caius is taking you out to eat," Jane said nonchalantly. "We don't have any human food in the castle and won't be getting any until tomorrow morning. So if you want to eat tonight..."

"Uh, right," I nodded, deciding not to think about it any more. We stopped in front of a room I hadn't seen before and Jane knocked.

"Come in!" Aro's voice carried through the wood, obviously for my benefit. "Ah, Bella, good of you to join us. You look lovely, piccolo."

"Thank you," I blushed, taking the open seat next to Caius. Aro dismissed Jane and retook his own seat beside Marcus, opposite me.

"Umm...what would you like to know?"

"With Alice Cullen being a seer, it would be best if you started right from the beginning of your life. Who knows how long she has been influencing you," Marcus said, resting his hands in front of him on the table.

"Right, well...

My full name, if you don't know it yet, is Isabella Marie Swan, born September 19th, 1989 to Charlie Regalus Swan and Renee Higgenbottom. When I was three my mom took me and ran away, divorcing my father by mail. We ended up in Las Vegas, where she worked as a show-girl until I was six. From there we moved to Arkansas for a year, then to Jackson, Mississippi, and finally to Phoenix, Arizona. My mother is, for lack of a better term, an air head. Renee was born in the wrong era...she would have been a great flower-child. As is, by the time I was five I was taking care of all the house hold chores, especially cooking. Renee could kill a vampire with the shit she made, so cooking was more self-preservation than anything else. By the time I was seven I was balancing the household budget, paying the bills with the pay cheques Renee brought in. I thought things would get a little better in Jackson because Renee managed to get a job as a kindergarten teacher but it didn't. She went through money like it was nothing more than paper. I started doing odd jobs around the neighborhood - mowing grass, dog walking, baby sitting and the like - to pay the bills because Renee had restricted my access to her accounts so I couldn't pay using her money or the child support Charlie sent every month. My only break was the one week I would spend with Charlie in Forks, Washington, during the summer.

Things did get better in Phoenix because Renee met her current husband, Phil Dwyer. I no longer had to support us, Phil did that, and Renee became slightly less flighty. It all went wrong when she married him though.

Phil was...is...a monster, in the truest sense of the word."

The three vampires, who had been growling about my mother's treatment of me, froze. I knew they misunderstood.

"That's what Jasper told me one day after he'd met the Dwyers when they stopped by Forks to see me during the summer. I think he meant Phil's very soul was tainted...and I agree."

"What did this...Phil Dwyer...do to you Bella?" Marcus asked quietly.

"He is the reason I am so clumsy," I blurted, thinking back with a shudder. "He beat me black and blue and Renee never said peep about it. When I was little I danced ballet...I was actually pretty good." I sighed, leaning back in my cushy chair. "One night things got so bad that I packed my bags and left. Phil found me at a gas station on the highway to Washington. I had planned to hitchhike to Forks, to stay with Charlie. Phil beat me so bad that my right ear-drum ruptured and he dislocated my left knee and shoulder. He didn't take me to the hospital so I sustained nerve damage to my knee, restricted movement in my left arm, and a permanent case of vertigo. I learned to manage but I was told I would never dance again. I rarely explain my clumsiness to anyone - only seven people know the actual story behind it and four of them are in this room.

In August of last year, Phil received a call from a baseball coach about try-outs for a position on their team. He decided to go for it, and he wanted Renee and I to go with him. That night Phil came to my room...I was lucky Renee came home early from her weekly meeting with her friends or I don't know what he would have done...that's a lie. I know exactly what he would've done and just like before, no one would've believed me. The next morning I called Charlie and asked if I could live with him. He said yes.

I told Renee that I was going to live with my father for my junior and senior years so she could go with Phil...I left out about the part where I wanted to be no where near him. She made me stay until after my birthday. Thankfully Phil was out training most of the time, getting back into shape for his try-outs, so I spent the time rather peacefully. I left for Forks in October, and enrolled in the high school is where I met the Cullens."

"Pensi che Isabella mi dispiacerebbe terribilmente se ho tirato fuori la madre e il patrigno? Feccia del genere non merita di vivere," Caius muttered, so low that I barely heard it. [Do you think Isabella would mind terribly if I took out her mother and step-father? Scum like that do not deserve to live.]

"Aspettiamo su questo ... forse, se il Maggiore è innocente lo possiamo assumere alla causa," Marcus replied, huffing as he slouched in his chair. [Let us wait on that...perhaps if the Major is innocent we can recruit him to the cause.]

I should definitely tell them I speak Italian, especially as they are plotting Renee's and Phil's demise but I have more important things to worry about at the moment. Like finishing my tale for one.

"Please continue, Isabella," Aro said, shooting darts at Caius and Marcus over their interruption.

"Okay, well...I noticed right from the beginning that there was something strange about the Cullen kids. They were even more pale than me - something rare, even in the sunless town of Forks - all of them had the same golden eyes despite being adopted, all of them were coupled, except Edward, and none of them ate a single bite at lunch. On top of that was the supermodel-esq beauty and designer clothing...basically they stood out like sore thumbs. The other humans didn't notice anything off about the Cullens, just me. I probably would have shrugged it off too but, while their appearance and gestures may have caught my eye, it was Edward that made me stare."

"Found him handsome, did you?" Aro smirked as Caius growled.

"Actually, it was the fact that he looked like he wanted nothing more than to eat me," I deadpanned and Aro winced, likely recalling Edward's memory of the day in question. Right on the money then. "It was merely what little self-preservation I have making itself known.

I saw Edward again right after lunch, in Biology. I ended up as his lab partner - like fate wanted me to be eaten. Actually, that was likely Alice's doing...she probably told Edward not to pair up with someone at the beginning of the term because I was coming, or something like that. Anyway, Edward spent the entire class leaning as far away from me as he could without toppling over. When class was done he bolted. I didn't see him again for two weeks - apparently he went to the Denalis for a while to 'get himself under control.'

When he came back he was a constant contradiction and it drew me in. And then it happened...a run-away van nearly squashed me like a bug and Edward saved me, exposing himself and his family to me at the same time. I was taken to the hospital where I met Carlisle. It was the first time I noticed the Cullen's cold skin, though it really didn't compute because doctors tend to have cool hands - or they do in my experience.

After that Edward dropped vague hints and on a visit to La Push, a beach on the reservation, I flirted with one of the native teens who told me a 'scary story' about those his tribe knew as the Cold Ones. I ran with it and learned about your species from books and the internet. I confronted Edward, he confirmed, and somehow we ended up dating. I think I was fascinated by him and it turned into infatuation and from there, a human type love. Edward, however, became increasingly over-protective and began treating me more like an object than a person. He took away my chance to make friends, other than himself and Alice, and basically ostracized from the entire student population. What he didn't realize was that every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, Emmett, Jasper and I would meet in the forest behind the school and talk."

"You skipped class to meet with men not your suitor?" Aro asked, scandalized.

"They are my family Aro," I defended, then sighed. "Or they were for a while. And I never actually skipped class. Emmett had a spare on Monday and Wednesday, Jasper on Wednesday and Friday and I had either chemistry or math. When I was in Phoenix, I was enrolled in an advanced curriculum so I already knew everything that the teacher was trying to get the Forks students to learn. Think of it as a grade school teacher trying to teach an university student basics they already mastered. After I showed up the chemistry teacher, she basically sent me to the library for self study, as she also taught math...well, I had a lot of free time. I would show up for the beginning of class for attendance then leave to do whatever I wanted...and that usually meant time away with Jazz and Emmy. The three of us grew close - it was part of the reason I was so suspicious of Edward and Alice's intentions once I put two and two together.

A few months of dating later, Edward invited me over to the Cullen's place to 'officially' meet the family. It was the first time I had met Esme and I liked her on sight. Jasper acted stiff, Emmett goofed off, Carlisle pretended we had only met once - by then he had treated me on several different occasions, and we'd talked...more like we asked and answered each others questions. Inquisitive minds and all that - and Rosalie, Alice and Edward acted like their normal, arrogant, spoiled selves. It was obvious to me that Carlisle, Emmett and Jasper didn't want the others to know about our friendships so I played dumb. A storm moved in so we went to a clearing the Cullen's use for baseball and separated into two teams, with Esme as catcher and me as umpire. It was really fun until they showed up.

There was a trio of nomads passing through Forks, staying in one of the caves deep in the forest. They murdered one of my dad's friends, which turned up the heat for all vampires in town - a string of suspicious deaths will do that. It was lucky that Carlisle acted as pathologist for my dad. Any other doctor would have called their deaths for what they were: murder. From there the state or federal police would have been contacted and well, they would have hunted the killers down or at least looked for similar killings; they no doubt would have found matching cases that spanned through decades, in not centuries, there by exposing vampire kind. Carlisle just said it was an animal attack. That was the first time the nomads nearly exposed your kind to the humans with their carelessness. You owe Carlisle a debt for the cover-up."

"You say Carlisle acted as a pathologist for your father, Isabella?" Aro inquired, confused. "Why would your father be concerned?"

"Oh, I forgot to tell you: Charlie is the Chief of Police. And no, he doesn't suspect a thing...Carlisle is very convincing when he wants to be. Anyway, I digress.

The Cullens surrounded me, Edward kept me clasped to his side. Laurent, a dark vampire with long dreads, acted as spokes person for the nomads - he was intrigued by the notion of a permanent residence. Carlisle offered a chance to get cleaned up at their home before leaving. Edward was pulling me away when a breeze lifted my hair, sending my scent to James.

'I see you brought a snack,' James had hissed gleefully. The Cullens all ran in front of me and dropped into crouches, the nomads did the same. Laurent and Carlisle defused the situation and both sets of vampires left the field, in different directions.

James was a tracker and the Cullens reaction, particularly Edward's, had made catching me the ultimate game, with my blood as the prize. I left Forks with Alice and Jasper, driving to Phoenix while the other Cullens used pieces of my clothing to create a fake scent trail. At the time I couldn't figure out how James had figured out my destination - now I suspect Alice or Edward told him - but he called my phone from Renee's home and lured me away from Jasper;James was holding Renee hostage so I had to go. I escaped using the airport bathroom then took a taxi to my old ballet studio where I found James and a video recording from when I was a child with Renee's voice ringing out. I was just glad he didn't have her.

I won't go into the details but James tortured me, recording it on camera. He told me that he wanted Edward to watch it and go after him. I learned that James was tied to Alice's past and egged him on. I figured that if I was going to die anyway, I might as well get my best-friend some closure. James was actually going to sire Alice, back when she was human, but another vampire had done so first, causing James to loose his prey for the first time. Just when I thought James was finally going to end it, Edward crashed through one of the windows and James threw me away. I landed on a piece of glass that nicked the femoral artery in my right leg. James got away from Edward long enough to bite me," I grabbed my left wrist, rubbing my thumb absentmindedly over the mark. "The other Cullens appeared then. Carlisle, Alice and Edward stayed with me, Jasper and Emmett tore James apart. Rosealie and Esme had remained in Forks to keep Charlie safe from the female nomad, Victoria. Carlisle told Edward it would be best if they just let me change but the moron refused. Alice put pressure on my bleeding leg while Carlisle arranged a tourniquet and Edward sucked out James venom. The asshole nearly killed me in his supposed effort to save me," I growled at the memory, the brothers following my lead.

"At least that confirms Carlisle's innocence in all this," Aro sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Obviously he doesn't want you dead if he was will to let you change."

"Agreed," Marcus voiced with a nod.

"Jasper told me later that he personally destroyed the video of my torture so you have no need to worry about exposure from it. The Cullens came up with a cover story which involved me falling out a hotel window to explain my numerous injuries. Charlie bought it because of the number of accidents I'd had since arriving in Forks and previous testimonials of my clumsiness from Renee. And after all that, Alice and Edward still made me go to fucking prom - you would think that a broken leg, a hundred stitches in varying locations and extreme blood loss would have been enough to get me out of it but nope. Alice turned up with this hideous blue mini-dress and six-inch heels. I put on the dress but added black tights to it and wore my converse sneakers," I smirked and chuckled under my breath. "Her face when she saw me at the dance was hilariously priceless.

The summer was fairly tranquil, the only disturbances were caused by Edward. His temper tantrums about me playing video games or talking with Emmett or Jasper. He couldn't really say anything about the time I spent with Carlisle and Esme without sounding like more of an obsessed brat then he was so he kept quiet about that. Alice used me as a living doll - Bella Barbie is what Emmett dubbed it - at least once a week. Rose avoided me like the plague. Basically, the norm.

It all changed on my birthday though.

I begged and pleaded with Edward and Alice not throw me a birthday party - I really dislike extravagance and pomp, which those two adore. They did so anyway. I told the Cullens no gifts but Edward and Alice told them I was just being modest so they bought stuff anyways. Thankfully Alice kept the party small, just the Cullens and I, or it would have been an even worse mess than it was.

I got a paper cut.

That was all it took for every vampire in the room to fill with blood lust, with the possible exception of Carlisle. Everything would have been fine if Edward hadn't pushed me back into a tower of glass plates...I basically ended up bleeding like a stuck pig and that pushed Jasper over the edge. He attacked, Emmett and Rose held him back and pulled him out of there. Everyone but Edward, Carlisle, and I vanished. Carlisle sent Edward away while he stitched me up. I told him that it wasn't Jasper's fault, and I thought Carlisle believed me. Evidently he didn't because the Cullen's left. During the two days following the party Edward acted strange, distant. He took me into the woods and told me that the family was leaving. I asked why not wait until I graduated. He implied that there were seven Cullens, not eight. The others had already left, he just stuck around to clean up the mess. Not to worry because the human mind was like a sieve, I would soon forget they ever existed. I asked about him and the others - vampires have perfect recall after all. He told me they'd find other distractions. He was tired of acting human, I wasn't good enough, he didn't love me. He told me not to do anything stupid, I had Charlie to worry about. He left then and I tried to follow and ended up getting lost.

I nearly died from hypothermia and pneumonia. If one of the Quileute boys, Sam, hadn't found me when he did, I would have.

Months passed without me doing much of anything. People in town called me a zombie; I woke every night screaming from nightmares, waking Charlie every time. I went through the motions, barely eating, rarely sleeping. I went to school, cooked for Charlie, did the chores and sat in my room, staring out the window.

Jacob Black, son of the Quileute chief who was Charlie's best friend, took it upon himself to drag me out of my depression. He became my sun, a beacon of light to my dark void. He helped. I spent most of my time with him and the other Quileutes in his garage, rebuilding a pair of motorcycles I found, on my dime. And then that came crashing down around me as well.

I took to hiking, looking for the meadow Edward once took me to, looking for my haven. I think I was looking for a tranquil place to die. One day I finally found it...and Laurent found me.

What do you know of the Guardian tribes?"

"They are shifters," Caius worded carefully, surprised at my seemingly meaningless jump to a different topic. "They protect their people from danger, most often newborns of our kind. Old ones rarely go near their territory if it had been marked...the area would be too much trouble and far too unpleasant smelling for a single bite to eat."

"Do I have your word that the Volturi will not attack the Guardian tribes unless provoked?" I said, watching the reaction of the brothers. "That you will not approach them for anything more than a peaceful discussion or alliance? And that if they refuse you will leave them in peace? Its not like they are a threat to you unless you feed in their on their grounds or off one of their people."

The brothers looked at each other and nodded, resignedly. "We swear to all of your terms," the three promised, at the same time. I think they realized that they wouldn't get another word out of me until they did.

"The Quileutes are one such tribe; they take the form of a giant wolf," I sighed, seeing the conniving gleam in Aro's eyes. "I will not tell you their secrets no more than I would tell them yours, Aro, so get that thought out of your head right now. I owe them a great deal.

Laurent taunted me, told me that killing me would be a mercy compared to what Victoria had planned. He was about to bite me when the wolves appeared and chased him off. I later learned that they managed to kill him. So, no more worries on that front. Victoria, however, is still a problem.

I soon got tired of Jacob's avoiding me and drove to his home on the reservation. It was there I learned that the Quileutes were the wolves that saved me. Jacob and another of the tribe transformed and began fighting over my presence. Apparently I was known as 'vampire girl' to them and the elders didn't like Jacob associating with me so they banned him from spending time with me."

"When you were muttering about the ways the seer and mind-reader had tried to kill you, you mentioned the tribe, " Marcus said quietly. "How were they a danger to you...it sounds like they avoided you as much as possible until you learned about what they were."

"The wolves are volatile," I answered truthfully, thinking about the scars on Emily's face. "For example, wolves have mates, just as vampires do. The same basic principle apply: pain with distance, never able to hurt their mate, instant affection and need to protect. The wolves call them imprints.

Soon after the alpha had transformed, he imprinted on his fiancees cousin, Emily. The alpha and Emily tried to ignore their bond but it became too hard for them to stay away from each other. The fiancee came home one day to find the alpha and her cousin in bed together. The alpha broke it off with his fiancee then and there. He could not explain to her what happened and why he had left her for Emily. The orders given by the elders of the tribe forbade any but the elders, wolves, and their imprints from knowing the secret.

A while later, Emily received a call from the alphas former-fiancee. The alpha, with his superior hearing, listened as the woman he still loved yelled, cried and cussed at his imprint. His temper rose higher and higher and when he reached to take the phone out of Emily's grasp, he changed. Emily will forever be a cautionary tale about the temper of a wolf-shifter. The scars on her face proof to the younger boys that they must maintain a calm demeanor or the consequences could be beyond words. Other examples of the wolves volatile emotions would be the fiancée's transformation into the first female wolf, ever, because of her undying rage and sadness. Her transformation caused her father, one of the elders, to die of a heart attack...which spurred the female wolf's younger brother to change, making him the youngest wolf ever recorded. He is a little different then the other wolves because he changed not from anger but from love and mourning.

Anyway, I think either Edward or Alice, most likely Edward in this case, knew that Jacob Black would be a wolf, inheriting the gene from his great-grandfather, the former alpha. As Jacob is not only my father's god-son but also has a crush on me, which Edward knows about, the fact that we'd spend time together after his change was nearly inevitable. The evil duo were probably hoping that, just like the alpha, Jacob would be thrown by his wolf's temper and would kill me accidentally.

My being here is their most elaborate plan," I said waving my hands in the air, gesturing to the entirety on Volterra. "Alice shows up at my door saying she saw me die - why am I still alive? She had told Rosalie about her 'vision' of my death and the bimbo falls right into the trap by calling Edward. He was probably in Italy already, waiting for that call. She likely would have told the rest of the family and Carlisle probably called you to prevent Edward's outright death.

Me, being the idiot I am, left Forks without a word to anyone, with Alice, to stop Edward. I couldn't have cared less about Fuckward and Malice, but I do care for the rest of the family, as well as my own friends and loved ones. If I was really dead, would you have hesitated to send a clean-up crew to Forks to kill everyone I cared for, to ensure I hadn't told anyone about vampires before my death?"

"Uhhhh..." Aro twiddled with his thumbs, Marcus stared at the ceiling and Caius avoided looking me in the eye.

"I thought so. And you probably would have slaughtered the wolves at the the same time. I wonder what that would've achieved though? It's the one thing I can't get my head around."

"She was protecting herself," Marcus said, ignoring the hisses from the two other Volturi brothers. "By bringing you to us, she made a last ditch effort to save her mate and hoped that yours would drain you dry before you could get a word out. I don't think Ms. Cullen realized that you no longer cared for Edward, that you would have no problem with our ending his life."

"Wait, her mate? My mate? What are you going on about Marcus, sir. Jasper has nothing to do with this - probably - and my mate has tried to kill me on a number of occasions." Oh I am so confused right now. I mean, what the fuck?!

"You are under the false impression that the Major is the seers mate and the mind-reader is yours," Marcus continued, ignoring his blonde brother who was shaking his head back and forth violently. "That is wrong. The mind-reader and seer are mates, as you are to Caius, princepessa." [princess]

I gap, shocked stupid. "You have got to be kidding me! What could a god-like creature like Caius want with an insignificant human like me? I'm not worth it! I couldn't even keep my own mother's love let alone a vampire king's! And what the hell do you mean by princess!"

"YOU ARE WORTH IT!" Caius roared at the same time Aro yelled: "YOU CAN SPEAK ITALIAN?!"

Oops, looks like the cat is out of the bag on that one. I look at Aro, "alcuni," I replied sheepishly in Italian. [Some.] I turned back to Caius, my mate, who sort of looks like he would love nothing more than to pummel his brothers into the ground. Six feet under, perhaps? I grabbed his hand, taking it between my own, calling his attention back to me.

"I was going to tell you tonight, cara mia," Caius embarrassed, pulling me into his lap where I wrapped my arms around his neck, ignoring the pain in my ribs. "After I took you out for dinner. It was to be, as modern humans say, a date?"

"You know, you are the second person in my entire life to tell me that I am worth it? This feels right...far more so than my relationship with the mind-fucker did. And so, my mate, I would love to go on a date with you," I grinned mischievously, putting my lips to his ear. "But now that I know, maybe we can end the night more pleasantly?"

"Uh-hem," Aro cleared his throat nosily as he snapped his phone closed, drawing Caius and I from out goo-goo eyed stares. I promise that if a look could kill, Aro would be nothing more than a pile of ash. "That was Carlisle. He and the other members of his family will be here by morning. Apparently he was informed that the seer and mind-reader were being kept here for no reason at all."

"What do you want to bet that Alice called him before she came to the castle?" I asked sarcastically, rolling my eyes. Caius nuzzled my neck as he smirked and I could have sworn I heard Marcus chuckle.

"Nothing, none of us would bet against such odds," Aro said, throwing a ball of elastic bands into the air, catching it with his right hand before tossing it up again. Where did he get that thing anyway? Damn vampire speed.

"I suppose that is all for tonight," Marcus said rising, his tone bored once again. "Caius, take the girl out for something to eat. Aro, I imagine Sulpicia would like some company. I will make sure that Athenodora will not be an issue."

"Right!" Aro jumped up, running to the door.

"Umm...Caius," I looked at my mate, marveling at his beautiful ruby eyes. "Who are Sulpicia and Athenodora?"

"That's a...that is...umm...a long story?" Caius stuttered - wow, two vampire rendered into puddles of goo in less than six hours. I am good! I raised an eyebrow in question, causing Caius to sigh. "I'll tell you over dinner."

Two hours and a wonderful authentic Italian dinner later, I was still waiting for an explanation. "Caius, who are Sulpicia and Athenodora?" I asked, lacing my arm through his as we walked through the streets of Volterra, towards the castle that stood majestically in the middle of the city. He placed a finger on his lips and lead me to a small park, gesturing for me to sit to on the bench beside him.

Caius pulled out a box of cigarettes, lighting one up and inhaling deep. "Sulpicia is Aro's wife," he gulped and shut his eyes tightly. "Athenodora is mine."

"YOU'RE MARRIED!" I yelled, jumping to my feet, tears streaming down my cheeks. "I thought...I believed...oh god!" I wrapped my arms around my middle, the hole that had closed a few months ago opening again, this time so wide that I felt it would swallow me hole. "Not again!"

"Isabella, cara mia, please! Please listen," I heard Caius beg, his voice distant to my ears. "You are my mate, the one I have been waiting two millennia for. Athenodora, she was merely a companion while I waited for you to come along. I have never once felt love for her, nor her for me. Marcus is taking care of the paper work now, to make sure I am free of her, for you. And if she doesn't abide by it, she will be executed. Please cara, please do not leave me because of this."

I moved to the weeping vampire, I taking his beautiful face between my hands. Leaning forward I brushed my lips over his, moaning as he pulled me onto his lap, taking control over the kiss. And what a kiss it was.

When he pulled away so I could breathe, Caius enfolded me in his arms, placing his forehead against my shoulder. "You are mine, Isabella," he whispered gently. "Now and forever."

"Now and forever," I agreed. I thought he would change me then but instead Caius stood up, holding me bridal style, and ran back to Volterra. He took me to the room in Marcus' wing and held me all night as I slept. It was a wonderful night.

Right, so what do you think? Please review.

By the way, if I butchered the Italian language, I am really sorry. There is only so much a English to Italian dictionary and Google Translator can do.