Im a terrible, terrible person for not updating. I know. BUT Im hoping you will forgive me.
also, thank you SO SO SO much to my BETA because she is spectacular and makes my writing like, 4 million times better than normal.
The days passed in tension, much like the time during Bella's transformation
1The days passed in tension, much like the time during Bella's transformation. Everyone was on edge, unsure of what to do with themselves as we waited for something to happen. It wasn't as though there wasn't enough space for the Volturi and my family in our house, but I couldn't be alone with my Bella or my family the way I yearned to.
Bella hunted every few hours initially. She needed to satisfy the burning in her throat with such urgency and so often in those first few days, but as they passed she was able to feed once a day and be sated with it. I was worried that if she had to feed that frequently for very long she would deplete the deer population nearby. However, her thirst soon dulled, certainly not gone, but diminished. She seemed to take to her new form with ease, though she still was at the mercy of her bloodlust, which as a newborn, were frequent.
Between hunting, trying to maintain peace with the Volturi (who still refused to leave), and getting along with my family, Bella and I had not been alone since she woke up. It was driving me mad. Of course there were the occasional pangs of want for her when she would smile a certain way, or kiss me a moment longer than I expected her to, but really, I just wanted to see her, spend time with her, to love her exclusively for just a little while. The tension was wearing on me; everyone's thoughts were exceedingly potent and clear no matter how I tried to shut them out, and the constant reminder was in Jasper's mind as he tried his best to quell the strain and make everyone relax, even if for the briefest moment.
What we were all truly waiting for was the manifestation of Bella's gift. I continuously reminded Aro and the others that it was possible she would not have one - that she had simply been an extraordinary human and her strange immunity had been lost in translation. Aro remained adamant. He repeated to me whenever I suggested this that not one human had ever been able to resist his talent or Jane's, and there was merely no way that a mortal creature as magnificent as Bella would be ordinary as a vampire. It frightened me especially because I had a sinking feeling he was right.
And so he proved to be a little over two weeks after Bella awoke from her strange hibernation.
Emmett, Alice, Bella and I were hunting for small game close to home. We hadn't gotten the chance to go far in the last few weeks, despite the fact that I knew the bigger animals would make it easier for Bella to feel satisfied. Carlisle had warned us to stay close by in case we were needed at a moment's notice, so close by it was. We had already eaten and were circling around to go back to the house, running the long way, skirting slightly closer to town.
We were, of course, far enough from Forks itself that Bella would not get the scent of human blood anywhere near and feel enticed. We were miles away, and I had no fear of temptation as we ran, racing and jumping and playing, getting to feel free for the first time since the Volturi had arrived and made our lives into the shadowed, anxious existence they currently were.
Just as I leapt over a fallen tree and was about to catch Bella and pull her right off of her feet for a kiss, I fell to my knees.
There were so many in my head at a time that I thought it was going to implode. So many thoughts, ideas, images, and words were exploding and surging through my mind, being pushed into it with such enormous force. I had never felt anything like this - the not abnormal, omnipresent pressure of hundreds, even thousands of voices in my head was suddenly deafeningly loud, and I was incapable of drowning any of them out. I couldn't stand it. I felt like I was simply going to die, or my head was going to explode from the pressure of so many painfully loud thoughts all at once.
I groaned in pain and I could feel the close-by pressure of more thoughts, those of Emmett and Alice as they approached me. I had to shut my eyes; having both physical vision in addition to seeing the things that were being forced through my mind at the same time would have overloaded my senses completely.
"Edward?" I heard Bella's melodic voice cut through the rest of the sound in my ears and mind. I couldn't answer her. I couldn't do anything. I was crippled by the influx of thoughts. I tried my hardest to tune them out - I had gotten rather good at doing so for the benefit of my family over the last few decades - but there were plainly just too many. If I pushed away a single voice, another five replaced it. It was almost as horribly painful as having Jane set her power upon me.
I briefly registered the sensation of being lifted and carried. Moments passed in the unbearable agony of my mind being overloaded. And then it began to ease, to slowly peter out. It finally, mercifully stopped and the only voices I heard in my head were Emmett and Alice, and my family and the Volturi at the house, which we were quickly nearing. Compared to what I had just experienced, it was a relief to only have a dozen, quiet voices in my head instead of thousands of riotously loud ones.
My eyes opened cautiously and I saw it was Bella that had lifted me and was carrying me in her arms. She stopped moving as soon as I looked at her.
"Edward?" she asked softly. Her voice was tiny, frightened.
"I'm okay, Bella. You can put me down."
She grinned sheepishly and then set me on my feet once more, muttering something about just wanting to get me to Carlisle. I smiled at her and thanked her.
"What happened to you?" Alice asked. Her mind was frantic, confused, and worried.
"We were running," I said slowly, trying to wrap my head around something so blisteringly uncomfortable that was still so fresh, "And suddenly…I could hear everything, so clearly. All the voices from town were in my head. Everyone. It was just too much, too loud." I shook my head in confusion, unaware of what was really going on. "It hurt to have so many thoughts and ideas in my head all at once. I've never felt anything like it. It overloaded me. But then when we got far enough away…I can't hear them now, just you two, and everyone back at the house."
"I didn't think you could do that," Bella interjected.
"I can't. That's what I don't understand."
I pondered what had just happened while we cautiously proceeded back to the house. Emmett made a point to tell everyone what had just happened as soon as we got there. Everyone was perplexed. Even Aro, who was proud of how very much he knew about our species, was dumbfounded. He had never heard of someone's gift progressing after it initially developed. You could work with your gift early on, try to stretch it, find its limits, but once you knew where they were, it simply wouldn't expand just because you wanted it to. I had tested the boundaries of my own abilities many times over the years, and they had never resulted in such overwhelming power.
Bella quickly and thankfully changed the subject as she could see that the continued conversation about my gift was starting to make me uncomfortable. I already didn't like the way Aro thought of me, like I was an acquisition, let alone if by some miracle my abilities had just expanded into something wholly more intimidating.
Aro, for his part, was always willing to pay attention to Bella when she wished it, and sometimes even when she didn't. He was fascinated by her and she could play on it when it was necessary. He would listen to her talk about the fine arts of origami or doing her laundry for hours if she wished it. She used her knowledge of his obsession with her at that time to divert his attention from me. I reminded myself to thank her later for it.
As she started asking questions about Volterra and what they did there and how they came to be—a subject Aro always loved to discuss, especially if it was Bella who was eager to learn—I snuck off quietly to talk to Carlisle. He hadn't been present when Emmett announced what had happened. He was in his study, looking through some old book of his, for a reason I did not delve into his thoughts to discover.
"Carlisle," I said quietly, shutting the door to his study behind me quickly. He looked up at me, and noting the distress on my face, closed his book and motioned for me to sit down.
I explained to him what had happened and he listened with patience as he always did. My father was silent after I was done talking. He seemed to be pondering several different angles, considering all of the elements and factors of the situation, developing a theory as he usually did for a problem that any one of us encountered.
Have you considered it might be Bella? He inquired through the medium of his thoughts, in case anyone was eavesdropping downstairs. I cocked my head at him, flummoxed.
We have been waiting for her gift to manifest, he began cautiously, and I could simultaneously hear the brilliant gears turning in his head, I know we all prayed, for her safety, that she would not have one, if only to keep her from seeming any more interesting to the Volturi. But perhaps her gift is actually the ability to enhance the talents of those around her. I cringed immediately at the notion of Bella being bestowed such a headily powerful talent, but Carlisle continued. It would make sense for the control she had over her own mind to bloom into the manipulation of other's. The only way to be sure would be for you to go back alone to the place where you heard the voices and see if you have a similar experience. I pray that this is the case, and that Bella's own mind will not be working against her.
"I will do that now," I responded. I could hear Bella and Aro downstairs, still talking like old friends, Bella flashing a flirtatious smile every once in awhile. I knew exactly what she was doing - distracting him so I could do whatever it was I had to do - but I didn't like that she showed that smile to anyone besides me, and I certainly didn't like the image of it in Aro's mind and the thoughts of his that followed it. I shook my head, pushing the words out of my mind, and then with a quick goodbye to my father, jumped gracefully from his window and landed on my feet, breaking into a run before even a second had passed.
I found the spot where I had fallen with greater ease than I expected. I stood yards away from it at first, afraid of what might happen if Carlisle's theory was wrong and I had really just gained an unwanted new strength in my ability. No one was here to pick me up and carry me away from this seemingly invisible barrier between madness and reality. But I braved it, because it was important to know, for both Bella and myself. I took the necessary steps and stood in the exact spot I had been when the mass of voices hit me.
There was no sudden tidal of thoughts, no throng of images and words filling my mind and making me fall over in the sheer force and weight of it. My heart sank with the weight of what this meant for us.
It was Bella.
I sighed. I didn't know which outcome I had been truly hoping for - the one where Bella didn't actually have a gift and I was just going to have to learn to deal with the pain of too many minds in mine whenever I chose to leave the house, or the one where it was Bella, my delicate, wonderful, beautiful Bella that had somehow made my gift into something extraordinary and infinitely painful.
As I ran back to the house, I thought of the repercussions my new discovery would have, and knew the answer without a doubt. I realized that I would have preferred to be considered more gifted than I already was and to suffer a thousand lifetimes of that pain than for Bella to have a gift that might put in her in any form of danger, especially from the Volturi.
When I got back home Carlisle was downstairs with Bella, Alice, Emmett, Jasper, Aro, and his brothers and their ubiquitous entourage. I didn't know where Rose and Esme were, but I didn't blame them for not wanting to be around.
Aro was regaling Bella with some story about some ancient battle between him and some other incredibly powerful vampire. She was gallantly pretending to be immersed in it completely. Perhaps it was only because I knew her that I could see how uninterested she was by his tale. She was bored out of her mind, actually, as far as her expression was communicating. She glanced at me in a cursory way, as though she was only looking at me and realizing I had come inside, so as to not make Aro think she was not as occupied as he clearly believed her to be. We locked eyes for only a fraction of an instant, but it was there, a smile just for me, love just for me.
Has your talent grown? Carlisle's thoughts drifted across my mind as he looked at Aro, as most of the people in the room were, pretending to listen to him. He glanced at me much in the way Bella had, for a second, maybe less. I shook my head minutely, as though I were glancing from one side of the room to another. Carlisle's expression darkened, and I felt mine doing much the same.
So her gift was the ability to strengthen the gifts of those around her. She certainly didn't do it on purpose. It must have been a latent matter, unintentional because she didn't even know she was capable of it. I knew undoubtedly that she wouldn't have hurt me on purpose. I needed to speak with her about it, needed to make her understand what she was capable of so she could try to control it.
If I couldn't get her alone, I didn't know how I was going to tell her without Aro finding out.
He will figure out what has happened on his own. It may take him some time, but do not think he will remain ignorant for long.
I glanced at Carlisle again and of course he was right. Aro would figure it out. Even if certain events occurred where it would become painfully obvious, I was still unsure about just announcing it in front of everyone. I would rather keep this secret from Aro as long as possible, even if it meant it would only be a day or an hour that Bella knew and he did not.
And as fate is a fickle friend, it turned out that I did not, in fact, have to tread the dangerous water of trying to telling her myself before things got wildly out of control.
I should have noticed as we were sitting there the manner in which Jane's thoughts were becoming annoyed, both at the way Aro was favoring Bella so heavily and the way Felix was pestering her about it. He was only pointing out the obvious, telling her he thought it was so strange that Aro suddenly had this new favorite person when really she had been the most useful and his golden child for such a long time now. It was grating upon her nerves, reminding her of what she already knew, making her angry.
I would have told him to stop bothering her if I had been paying attention. But I was solely focused on my Bella, who was still acting, much better than she ever had as a human, and growing worried. I didn't know what she would be able to do with her abilities, how long it would take her to learn to control them and reign them in when it was necessary. It horrified me having so many different, potent talents in our midst while she was still unconsciously, unintentionally magnifying them.
While I was worrying about all of our safety, mostly hers of course, Jane snapped. I heard the thought a moment too late and should have realized things would not be the same after this.
"That's IT!" she shrieked and turned on Felix, focusing her mind on her gift. We all expected him to shrivel to the ground, cringe in pain, and then when she was done, rise with a heaving chest and a memory of being stabbed with a thousand hot knives.
But I stared in horror as what Bella did not even know she could do affected more than just my mind reading.
Felix did crumple, but it was not just to his knees or back on the floor. He hit the ground with a thud and his whole body went rigid, before beginning to seize and spasm uncontrollably. It wasn't what the image of him convulsing violently that was the most disturbing, even though it looked more painful than anything else I had ever seen. It was the sound he made, the scream that filled the air, the most wretched, grating, agonized noise I'd ever had the displeasure of hearing. He wouldn't stop screaming, and Jane looked shocked but pleased.
The thoughts from his head filled mine. I didn't know the torture she inflicted could hurt me second hand, but there was something so potent about the suffering she was inducing that it sank into my own body. It was worse than knives, worse than branding irons, worse than the venomous change even. It was as though my body was being peeled apart layer by layer, scalded with boiling water, burned, seared, pummeled, stabbed, scorched. I felt my mouth open to produce a scream similar to Felix's. The pain was too much.
I saw Bella shriek in horror as she saw me collapse for the second time that day, and she screamed a single word.
And then the pain was gone. I could feel Jane pushing with her mind, fascinated by what she had just done, but it was as though a switch had been flipped and her powers were instantaneously shut off. She couldn't hurt anyone. I could still hear thoughts around me, Felix's in sweet relief as he lay there on the ground still, nursing his aching body that hadn't quite recovered yet. But the pain, the mind melting pain was gone completely from my being.
Jane stared in horror at Bella.
"What did you do to me?" she asked in anger, her expression fierce.
"Edward, are you okay?" she asked, ignoring Jane's question. She crossed the room to me and I felt her hands on mine, pulling me up and wrapping herself around me. It occurred to me that she was just as possessive of me as I was of her. I smiled faintly, trying to shake the memory of the torment from my mind.
"I'm fine," I assured her as I returned the embrace she held me in.
"How did you do that?" Felix asked, aghast, paler than normal, if that was possible, shaking. "You have turned that gift of yours on me before and it was never like that."
Before anyone responded, I heard the thought, the epiphany from Aro's mind, the one I had feared.
"Why, I think I know all the answers to these questions!" he exclaimed, the tenor of his thoughts simultaneously triumphant and fascinated. "I do believe that sweet Bella is the answer we are looking for." I hissed low, underneath my breath, as his mind already began formulating plans to acquire her. "She was with our Edward when the voices in his head overwhelmed him, something he said had never before happened. And here she is now when our dearest Jane inflicted what looked like absolutely unbearable agony upon poor Felix and poor Edward, by mistake of course, more than she is normally capable of." He paused for dramatic effect, before proclaiming, "I think perhaps her gift is to bolster the existing talents of those around her."
"Then how did she shut it off? Does she have two talents?" Jane asked miserably, already seeing this was not going to play out well for her.
"Two?" Aro replied, momentarily hesitating, "No, I don't believe so. Rather two sides of the same coin. She can strengthen an ability, make it what seems exponentially more powerful than it was before, and also mute it, turn it off completely, if she so chooses. It is just a theory of course, but let us test it…"
He glanced at Jane and she at me. Jane smirked. I felt my muscles tighten in preparation for the hell that was about to engulf me.
"Do not even think it," Bella warned. A frightening snarl ripped from her little body, and I couldn't help but feel momentarily, elatedly proud of her. And naturally, Jane did think it. I immediately could feel her trying to get to me, trying to bring me down with what had just proved to be a phenomenal amount of pain, more than she had ever imposed before. Nothing happened. Again. When Jane finally stopped trying, I felt Bella slacken a little. It had apparently taken effort for her to shut Jane down like that, but when she grinned up at me I could tell it was not much.
"I am assuming that, since Edward evidently felt no pain, that you could not do anything, dearest?" Aro inquired. Jane muttered something about this being ridiculous and answered no. Aro grinned widely.
"Just to ease my curiosity, could you try to fortify someone's gift? So far you have been doing it intermittently and without intention, but I am wondering what you could do if you really wanted to make someone's talent that much stronger," Aro mused. I had to admit, I shared his curiosity. She had just proven that with sheer force of will, she could turn off someone's talent completely. I had to question if what she had done to mine or Jane's gifts unconsciously was all she could do with that aspect of her ability, or if with concentration and control, she could make it even more powerful.
"Try with me," I suggested. Bella glanced up at me, concerned.
"I hurt you last time," she said quietly, now understanding that the crippling overload that I had experienced was because of her. I shook my head and smiled lightly, unafraid now that I was home, with her.
"It was an accident, love. You didn't even know you were doing it," I assured her. She still looked unhappy. "Go ahead. Help me," I said.
I closed my eyes and concentrated on thoughts that were further away from me than those in the house. I thought about the ones in the city, the ones that had overloaded me earlier. I inhaled deeply, taking in the scent of Bella so close, similar to how she smelled as human, but distinctly different and almost better now that I wasn't tempted to kill her.
I heard nothing, but I also knew, even without opening my eyes again, that Bella was still hesitant. She didn't like that I had been in pain. It was, in fact, the reason she had found out the opposite end of her gift. But as afraid as she was of hurting me, I needed her to do this for me now.
"I will be okay, my love," I urged, "Go ahead."
"You're sure?" she asked quietly.
"Quite. I'll be fine as long as you're near me."
I could almost hear the smile in her voice as she sighed and then I felt her tense with concentration.
I was blown away again at the force and volume with which the thoughts entered my mind. I was unprepared for the magnitude of them, the sheer loudness and overwhelming strength. When I stiffened next to her, keeping myself upright only because Bella was holding on to me tightly, she stopped. I felt her slacken and so did I.
"Ouch," I said quietly, rubbing my temple gently.
"Sorry," she murmured, removing my hand from my face and replacing it with her lips, placing a healing kiss over my temple.
I turned my face to meet hers and met her lips to kiss her in earnest, to make sure she knew I did not blame her, that any pain was more than bearable and completely forgiven with her arms around me the way they were right then.
"So?" Aro asked, excited. He already knew the answer, but he only wanted to hear me say it.
"Quite the same as before, from an even further distance," I replied, not taking my eyes from Bella's angel face. Aro clapped his hands enthusiastically.
"Splendid," he cheered, "Just splendid."
I grimaced as the possibilities of this new information passed through his thoughts. I didn't want to know about his plans and ploys, his ideas for her future. He was thinking of her much the same way he had thought about me, as something to be obtained, a new toy, a plaything, an asset.
But if there was one thing I was sure of in that moment, it was that he most certainly could not have her.
The dynamic in the house changed after that day. Jane didn't bother trying to inflict her pain upon anyone at all. She knew Bella would shut her down without much effort, and swiftly.
Bella, in turn, was also extremely wary about using her talent. She didn't want to give the Volturi any more of a reason to want her. But hard as she tried, the damage was done. They were each already captivated with her, in their own way, her magnificent powers, her charming demeanor, her brilliant smile, beautiful laugh, or lovely little frame had caught them all in a strange way. It was only my brothers and father who, of the males present in our home, could resist thinking of her.
She was beautiful, beyond that even. I had not the words for what she was. But whatever was inside her that made her so unspeakably striking also drew notice I was not fond of.
While the thoughts began simply at simple admiration, it spanned all the way to something close to stalker-like obsession. While I acknowledged my own obsession with her, I also knew that mine was of a different caliber, and was not completely inappropriate. I did not fantasize about chasing her down and having her in any way I so desired. When I truly became fixated on her it was because I was already in love with her, so much so that there was nothing I could do but focus entirely on her until my skin came into contact with hers once more. The thoughts that exuded from the males in the room made me want to retch. She was not an object to be ogled or craved, nor was she simply a thing used for the satisfaction or entertainment of any creature. She was a woman, the woman I loved. It was quite possessively that I mucked through the thoughts that circled the room about my gorgeous and incredible mate.
Most of the guard were unabashedly and disgustingly explicit and inappropriate. Felix and Demetri were the most egregiously unspeakable, images and words in their minds that I could hardly bear to hear, let alone ever try and remember. Alec was far more calculating and cool; he was detached in a way his fellow guards were not. He admired her for her beauty and also for the strength he could feel in her, but was not as tempted as his comrades. Jane, of course, despised her and wished to be rid of her as soon as possible so she could regain her seat as the favorite.
Caius was trying his hardest not to desire her in any way, but when she smiled or laughed he felt an unholy tug in his body that made him want her so badly he could hardly understand what was happening to him. She was like a siren—a creature right out of myth—calling to him as though he was Odysseus himself.
Marcus was showing a noble amount of restraint when it came to Bella. She was gorgeous, true, powerful and radiant in a way no being should be, if only for the sake of the sanity of the rest of the world. He knew this, acknowledged and accepted the fact that he was drawn to her in a way he shouldn't be. But because of his odd power, he also knew that she loved me, wanted me like she wanted no one else and that I felt the same way about her. This fact was the reason that even in his wildest of fantasies, she would never want him in any way, and his mind never strayed beyond admiration.
I was silently thanking him for this, mentally uttering gratitude for his ability to control his mind in the presence of someone he knew was able to read his thoughts. I remembered the reverence with which he treated her, even as she appeared dead. Of all the Volturi, though I was not overly fond of any of them, he was the most tolerable.
And yet for all the restraint Marcus had, Aro showed none. He seemed almost too happy to think about her, ruminate not only on every aspect of her physical attractiveness, but also that of her potential as a vampire. If there were a way he could have her, use her for his own purposes, he would do whatever it took. There was a sort of sick desperation in the way he focused on her, determined to make her want to join his ranks and become part of the group he had housed in Volterra.
If I had my way, she would not go anywhere near that place. She did not need to be tainted by such malevolent disregard for life. Her purity and innocence were already infected with the disease of vampirism, and there was no reason to make her experience murder and watch as killers took life after life with utter indifference.
Of course, she knew none of this. She was blind to their thoughts, as was everyone else but me, and with Bella's ability to strengthen my mind reading, even though she was attempting to control and dampen it, I could hear them all with perfect clarity, unbrokenly.
I wanted to tell her everything, to explain what was coming, what Aro was going to attempt to do through slow suggestion, but I simply couldn't, not with them around to hear me. We needed to go somewhere private, somewhere we could finally, blessedly be alone like we still hadn't gotten a chance to. I was increasingly concerned with the danger I felt brewing behind the smiles and charm of the Volturi.
Aro, at the very least, was planning something. I could feel it in the way he watched her, but mostly in how guarded he was in his thinking lately. I knew there was something coming, I just didn't know what. I had no doubt that, if they deemed it necessary to take some of us out of the picture in order to attain Bella and pull her into their ranks, they would do it. I feared that almost more than anything; my poor Bella alone, without her family, without anyone who loved her, trapped with the Volturi.
The tension eased only slightly when Caius announced that they were going to be gone for an afternoon.
"We need to feed," he said early one morning, "And I am sure that you would prefer we do not do so near your home. We will return this evening." They intentionally left Felix and Jane behind to keep an eye on things while they were absent, but the presence was muted compared to what it had been before with so many of them in my home. I spent most of the afternoon trying to figure out what my next step should be in such a short window of time, while Bella and Alice were busy having a 'girls only' day pampering each other with useless, ridiculous things like pedicures.
But it was Esme, of all people, who told me what to do when I was unsure of how to proceed and keep Bella safe now that an opportunity had arisen to finally act.
"You know, Edward," she said as she was bustling about the house, straightening things obsessively, as she had been recently. When she was nervous she always cleaned fanatically. "I am sure that Bella is tired of deer. Why don't you take her a little farther out, let her find bigger, more satisfying prey? I think the rest of us can hold things down here for a while. Take a day or two."
I looked at her curiously for a moment.
Go now. I won't tell anyone. Take Bella right now and disappear. They won't notice you've gone until you're already too far away. I will tell them I don't know where you went. I know Bella can shut down Demetri's ability, and he won't be able to find you. Just leave. We will come for you when things are settled down. Alice will know where to look.
"That is a good idea, Esme. I hadn't thought of that. Perhaps we will," I replied, as if to her comment about the hunting, which seemed so insignificant now. I didn't like the idea of running, but what other choice did I have in order to keep Bella out of danger? I had to keep this conversational front to make sure neither Felix nor Jane knew what we were doing, and that no one else in the family would know what was happening and could be punished. I mouthed thank you to Esme, who nodded and smiled at me in her motherly, protective, loving way.
I tried my best to seem normal as I passed Felix going up the stairs. He thought nothing suspicious as I walked by him and I breathed a sigh of relief. I went straight up to Alice's room. When I got there, I had expected Bella to be in a bathrobe, getting her toenails painted while she and Alice talked about nothing important. Alice had told me it would be a good idea to let Bella have a day free of stress, and I couldn't have agreed more. She and been so frazzled for the past few days as things had been steadily becoming stranger and more tense with the knowledge of her gift and the rising obsession with her in the house. I'd told Alice she was free to capture Bella for the day while I did other things. Bella had shot me a glare, knowing she wasn't going to enjoy being painted and made up, but I promised her I would rescue her later.
I hadn't meant it to be so soon though, and I thought for sure when I did, she would need to change and we would have to leave with paint still drying on her toes and maybe even curlers in her hair. But she was dressed in a normal outfit, her hair swept back into a low ponytail against her neck, looking like she was expecting this.
Take her and go, Alice thought as she put several untraceable credit cards, various IDs, and a wad of hundred dollar bills into a wallet, I will find you. Things are…going to be fine. She understands what is happening. And with her little talent I was able to see…further into the future than before. Things are a little more exact. But the Volturi are coming back soon. They cut the hunting trip short. Go north, and then out of the country. Bella can handle Demetri, and I'll stop looking for you once I know you're safely away. I don't know anything definite, and Aro won't be a problem.
"So you think there will be enough prey for Bella and I north? No surprises?" I inquired, trying to make this conversation seem real and communicate the things I needed to at the same time.
Not so far as I can see. Let Bella help you hear things, if you need to…listen for me every once in a while. If anything changes or there is an emergency, I will find a way to contact you. I exchanged wallets with her, so that Alice could throw mine somewhere in the living room, making it seem like we intended to return and thus give us a few extra hours to escape. She gave us both a brief hug, and disappeared through the door.
I looked at Bella, who extended her hand to me. We walked down the stairs slowly, talking about hunting, and how excited she was to try and hunt something that might actually pose a challenge to her.
"Where do you think you are going?" Jane asked. I looked at her casually.
"Bella needs to hunt," I said easily, "She has been subsisting on deer for weeks. She needs something more filling. We wont be gone more than a few hours." I had become an accomplished liar over the many years I had been a vampire, needing to lie almost constantly amidst the human population.
"Aro won't like it," she said sourly, as if just saying his name annoyed her now. I could see it truly did. She didn't like having fallen out of favor with him, and she certainly didn't approve of his obsession with Bella.
"Oh, think for yourself for a moment, will you please, Jane?" Bella drawled, plainly condescending, "He won't even find out. We will beat them home and you can pretend you didn't even know we were gone." Her voice was nothing short of annoyed. Jane glared at her and Bella raised a challenging eyebrow. She pursed her lips in anger, murderous thoughts racing through her mind.
"Fine. Be back before they are," she warned us. If only she knew we meant to not come back at all, to run while there was time. I hoped that disappearing for a while would ebb Aro's fascination with her, make him realize he was satisfied with the abilities that each of his followers had on their own, and understand that his guard was complete. I didn't like to run away; I wasn't one for being a coward, but in this case it wasn't cowardice I was submitting to, it was the knowledge that Bella's safety was more important than my pride.
So, with Jane taken care of, and a flimsy alibi in place, Bella and I went out the front door, hand in hand.
We ran like our lives depended on it.
I prayed they didn't.