BELLA'S POV

As I ran toward the place where Edward was supposed to show himself, Piazza dei Priori, my mind was reeling. The multiple outcomes of this situation were twirling inside my human brain. I knew I should have concentrated on my feet—I was the Queen of Klutzy people, after all—but I couldn't help it.

I should be near the tower, I thought. I took a turn to the left and saw it.

I almost sobbed in relief. Because there, standing under the looming tower, there was Edward, in all his perfect, youthful beauty. I shot toward him, elbowing my way through.

"Guarda dove vai!" a man shouted at me.

What if we got caught by the Volturi? Would we die? Would I die? What if I didn't reach him in time? Once again questions clouded my mind and, as concentrated as I was on them, I didn't see the stone fountain I was walking into. "Ouch!" I shout-whispered, rubbing my scraped knees. I looked down at my knees and saw, though I was not gravely wounded, a tiny drop of blood sliding down my calf.

Fantastic. I was going into the heart of Volterra, the vampire's city, with drops of blood sliding down my legs. Shit.

I quickly regained my composure and got back to running. My lungs burned even after the short reprieve my incident caused, and my panic made it that I didn't pay attention to where I put my feet. I ignored a few people cursing at me in Italian and sped toward the clock tower.

The red mantels surrounding me made me nearly lose my way. All I saw was red. Red as the bad vampires' eyes, red as blood, red as Victoria's hair…

I mentally shook myself. Edward. Concentrate on saving him.

With a gasp I broke free of the mass' hold. A tear of relief escaped me when I saw recognition in Edward's eyes, as they connected with mine. He was just as I remembered him: pale, beautiful, tall and sleek. His eyes were completely black. Hunger or else I didn't know, nor I cared. In what felt like a second, I had found myself running in his open arms and being held in his strong, cold hold. My face was pressed against the stony flesh of his chest.

"Bella" he breathed, "You are here. You are well."

"Yes! I'm alive, see?" I took his face into my hands. "Now we have to go, Edward. Or we will die."

His eyes were suddenly sharp and alert. "Yes. Follow me" he said, and grabbed my hand. He tugged me along and I wordlessly followed. "Where are we going?" I asked whispering. "Alice is waiting for us in a car. She is this way" he answered me, reassuringly squeezing my hand. When I nodded, he smiled, and it was a beautiful thing.

"I'm happy you are here, Bella" he said, in a choked voice, "I thought I had lost you."

My mind lifted an imaginary STOP sign. What the hell? He left me. He said I was a distraction, that I was not good enough. He was the one who left me. "But you left me" I said, voicing my musings, my tone betraying my confusion.

He sighed. "Can we, please, concentrate of leaving this city alive? Then we can talk about anything you want, my love" he reassured me.

"All right" I muttered back, knowing that he could hear me despite my low volume. My mind was screaming at me to demand answers now, but I was too tired to listen. I had not slept well on the way to Italy, nor I had for many months before that. I hadn't slept peacefully since the Cullens left me.

The fear of Victoria had only increased after my… encounter, shall we say, with Laurent, and the dreams often plaguing my sleep kept me from truly resting.

"There she is!" Edward exclaimed, relief evident in his features. He pointed to a beautiful yellow Porsche 911 Turbo, hidden in the shadow of a garage.

"Oh God…" I muttered, "Nothing flashier?" I added sarcastically. Alice came running toward us, holding a long-sleeved, black shirt and a black hat in her hands.

She herself was completely covered in cloth, her hands shielded by leather gloves and her eyes and face occulted by sunglasses and a silk scarf.

"You moron! Next time you do something as mad as this I'll kill you myself!" she hissed, but even I could see the venom tears in her eyes as she offered her brother the clothes.

Edward laughed and hugged the pixie. "Don't worry, Alice. I'm finally back" he gently told her, and she finally hugged him back, shaking lightly because of her sobs. "You better be. Esme will kill you otherwise" she joked, faking a stern look.

He laughed soundly, then put on the shirt and clapped his hands once. "Shall we go home?"

Alice nodded her assertion. Then, she turned to me. "Everyone is waiting for you at home. Esme and Rosalie have already explained your absence to Charlie, justifying it as a reconciliation-journey. This will also clear up any questions as to our return."

"Wait, you are returning to Forks?" I asked, disbelieving. The two vampires both nodded, smiling gently.

I was so happy. I squealed and jumped to hug them. They squeezed me back laughing.

"So, we are safe, not dead, and we are going home?" I asked. I didn't care if I looked like an idiot. I needed confirmation.

"Yes, we are safe, and most certainly not dead, my Bella. At least, not completely, in my case and Alice's. And, to answer your last question, yes. We are going home" Edward answered me. His sister rolled her eyes at the 'dead' remark.

She interrupted me before I could speak again, probably having seen I was about to grill them with more questions. "Well, now that everything's clear, shall we go home?" she repeated Edward's question. My mind was nowhere near clear, but I smiled nonetheless.

"Yes, Alice" I said enthusiastically, "Let's go home."