Remember that this story is part horror.
To me, Rosalie had never seemed like the most patient person. She'd always been too perfect to think much of anything besides herself; I recognized that she could not be free of arrogance. Even Edward, in his own way, knew the extent of his beauty and sometimes used it to his advantage. He was so used to things coming easily to him that he got frustrated when a bit more effort was required—being unable to read my mind, for example. Rosalie struck me as feeling the same way, but where Edward had seemingly endless patience, being an eternal creature didn't seem to afford Rosalie the same trait.
Even the way Rosalie spoke, with overly formal, flowery wording, hinted that she was extremely conscious of herself, constantly focusing on how she was appearing to others. It was somehow not genuine. I knew she had no problem in expressing disapproval for others; she had made it quite clear she disliked me while I was human, and since I'd turned, she had barely spoken a word to me. But I expected her to consistently keep that recently discovered mask of politeness with everyone she disliked, no matter the severity of her disdain.
So when she lost all of her composure and snapped at Kate, telling her to shut up and be serious, I was caught halfway between shock and relief that the bomb had finally exploded.
I didn't understand the reactions of the others. Kate looked at Rosalie, her large eyes narrowing, her full lips pressing together. That wasn't surprising.
But the others, all of the vampires, looked fearful, nervous, before their expressions were abruptly cleared.
Rosalie bowed her head and said, "I am terribly sorry, Katrina. That was absolutely uncalled for." The display of humility confused me, and I looked to Edward for some explanation, but he wasn't looking at me; instead, he was completely absorbed by the exchange.
Katrina reached out to grip her hand, offering her forgiveness, and Rosalie smiled at her gratefully.
It seemed I was the only one who found this odd. I looked at the others, who acted as if nothing had happened. Emmett had resumed his distrustful glaring aimed at Jacob, my father continued to curiously examine the assembled vampires, and Rosalie had sat down in her previous seat on the sofa, smoothing down her shiny blonde hair as if her appearance was the only thing in the world that mattered to her.
"What was that?" I blurted out.
Edward's brow furrowed. "What was what, exactly?" I wordlessly gestured to Kate, and then to him, but he still didn't catch on.
Then it suddenly occurred to me what Tanya had meant when she said that Kate's gift was the highest form of manipulation. Edward had further explained her power, her ability to control people so effectively that they didn't realize they were being controlled, but nothing so far had made it as perfectly clear as this did. This was way beyond the abilities of those hypnotists who could make people believe they were ducks.
When someone defied Kate, she made them passive. This was why the Denali coven still accepted her despite her manipulation. I suddenly felt sick. I was sure impervious vampires weren't affected by nausea, but this was different…I was so abhorrently disgusted that I felt a sickness of the soul.
But the others were as calm as could be, considering they were in close proximity of their enemies—except none of them, werewolf, human, or vampire, actively realized that the danger lie not in each other, but in the honey-blond vampire smiling sweetly at me like she knew exactly what I was thinking.
"We should leave," Jacob said, breaking the short silence that had seemed so long to me. "I think it's best that Charlie remain with us for the time being." I immediately opened my mouth to protest, the threat of Kate momentarily forgotten—Jacob still wasn't entirely convinced that I wouldn't hurt Charlie. But Edward laid a hand on my arm and turned me to face him, shaking his head. Jacob saw Edward's agreement, and with a slight twitch of his temple, continued; "It would be safer. We promise we will allow nothing to happen to him. When you've decided on what you'd like to do, you can send Bella, and Bella alone, to this address. Think of it as an act of faith, just like when I came in here alone."
"But the others are outside, I'm sure," Carlisle stated quietly.
Jacob nodded. "Yes, and we don't mind if you follow her, but we don't want you all to come inside. I'm sure you understand."
Once we were sure the werewolves had left, the others launched into a flurry of quick arguments, so rapid that I could barely keep up.
"They could still mean us harm."
"The real threat is the Volturi."
"We can't let the human live, he's a liability."
"We can turn him."
"No, not Charlie!" I piped up, but no one paid attention to me. I didn't even know who had made the suggestion, and the multiple conversations going in the room made it impossible to keep track of what everyone was saying.
The danger that Alice had foreseen didn't seem to add up—for some unexplainable reason, just like it had in Forks when she hadn't seen Jake pull me from the water, Alice hadn't seen that the werewolves didn't mean us any harm, and we had assumed that they were here to attack us. None of us could figure out why.
And then, suddenly and without warning, the speculations halted. The quiet caught me off guard, and I immediately looked to Edward, wondering what it was that I had missed. Did they sense danger? Was the Volturi near, and had I not noticed because I had been so recently turned?
I was met by that familiar blank expression on every face I looked at, except Kate's.
She tilted her head, analyzing me as I backed up, putting myself in front of Edward as if that would somehow release him from her hold. She laughed quietly. "Well…that's annoying."
I looked around at the others, and jumped when they all stood up as one and filed into the next room.
"Why did are leaving?" I asked her.
"Because I wanted them to." She smiled at me. "I don't want you to be distracted. We need to talk, Bella."
I cautiously lowered myself into a seat. "About what?"
She sighed dramatically. "I can foresee problems arising from this immunity of yours. It's in your best interest to stay out of my way."
She stopped to think for a moment and revised her statement. "Or rather, it would be in Edward's best interest, and Alice's, and Jasper's. I think you know where I'm going here."
Unfortunately. I nodded.
She laughed at my pained expression; "And don't bother bringing this up, because they won't remember it. They remember very few of the things I do to them, only enough to know that they should be afraid."
I gritted my teeth. I was not a violent person; becoming a vampire hadn't changed that, but the notion that anyone could be so evil…it was infuriating. I could barely control myself, but I knew that I had to because I was powerless against her. Even as a human, staring at the Volturi as they decided whether or not to let me live, searching for Edward and hoping I wouldn't be too late to save him, waiting for James to come in for the killing bite—in none of those instances had I ever felt as helpless as I did now, with no choice but to allow Kate's continued control. I spoke through a clenched jaw; "And what will happen when the Volturi comes for Charlie?"
She shrugged. It was ridiculous how child-like she looked, swinging her legs back and forth on the ornate high-backed chair, hands on the seat of the chair and her shoulders hunched forward.
"Will you…help us?" It was so difficult to ask her, but I knew that with her assistance we couldn't lose him.
"I don't know. I've waited a long time to meet the Volturi. I wouldn't want to offend them." Another insane grin flashed across her face, ruining the image of innocence for a moment. "I don't think you have the right to ask me for any more favors. I've done enough for you."
"What do you mean?" I demanded. I gulped; my salivary glands were on overdrive due to my uneasiness. Correction: my venom glands.
She splayed her hand out in front of her, examining her nails. "I'm the only reason you got your Edward back, you know." Her eyes flickered upwards to rest on mine, and the pretense had completely disappeared. Her expression was dark and demanding. "You should thank me."
My stomach gave another disgusted lurch, not sure of what she meant. "Thank you, Kate."
I was relieved when she brightened at this, going on with her explanation now that she knew I was grateful—eager to explain her deeds and receive credit. "I was the only one in the room when Alice had her premonition. She saw you fall into the water, and she saw Jacob pull you out. She told me what happened. I convinced her that she had actually seen you drown. I am, however, pleased to say that she made the decision to go to Forks all on her own. Of course, first I firmly implanted in her mind the belief that she couldn't foresee the actions of werewolves."
I merely sat and listened in a horrified silence. When Alice had come to visit me, Jacob had shown up and she hadn't predicted his arrival. Just because of a notion that Kate had planted in her head. Kate mistook my stunned look for one of awe.
"And Rosalie, as well. She is horrid, but she lacks the bravery to make any significant change in her family dynamic. She's a coward. She never would have called Edward on her own—afraid the others would be mad at her." She scoffed, looking to me as if expecting me to laugh. I could only stare.
"Your actions almost got Edward killed."
"Yes, I know. Oops," Kate giggled. "It all worked out in the end." She looked to the door. "I think it's time I brought the others back in, don't you? They need to decide what they're going to do." She snickered at this, and I knew that she had already decided for them. That was the tragedy of her gift, that, like with the persuasive speech of Mark Antony, she could convince others that they were deciding for themselves.
It was relatively quick and painless. For them. My heart broke to see them sort out the details of the plan, knowing the whole time that this meeting was contrived. Kate could skip this and make them believe that they'd already had this discussion, but she wanted me to see the extent of her power, to see that there was nothing I could do.
"So it's settled then," Carlisle said at last, gaze moving from face to face and pausing only momentarily when he saw my troubled visage.
"I don't like it," Edward said, looking at me with worry. I tried to return his affectionate gaze, but I wasn't sure if it was him or Kate. I couldn't trust anything anymore, and that was the most terrifying part of all. He was the most important thing to me, and she could take him away with no more effort than it took to blink her eyes.
Carlisle tried to reassure him. "Alice can tell us if they're planning anything." He looked to Alice for confirmation, but she shook her head.
"I'm sorry, but for some reason I can't see what they'll do."
Kate snorted. "Yes you can."
Alice nodded complacently. "Yes, I can."
"Good, then we'll wait a bit to look ahead, and then we'll send Bella to the werewolves."
Edward wrapped a comforting arm around my waist, but I could only stare at Kate. She winked at me.
Why haven't I updated in two months? I don't have a good excuse. I don't even have a bad excuse. Sorry; I just didn't have a clue how to continue, but I've got an outline for the ending now so the next update should only take a week or two.
I have pictures of the Denali Coven on my deviantart account. You can find a link in my profile. The only ones I'm really satisfied with are Irina and Tanya, though. The others kind of suck. And the pictures are yellow because I photographed them due to my lack of scanner.
Thanks for the reviews, everybody!