This chapter seems unnecessarily long, personally. I kinda shoved two things I wrote together and tried to string them together to make sense. (I hope it isn't that obvious) I might take a break from writing on to swing it with an orginal story I have.

Red Skies Ahead

Chapter 3- Colored Undertones

Perfect oak hair whispered in the gusty winds, beat into a rhythmic dance around her moon-like skin. Deye's butterscotch eyes roamed the green landscape in several interested glances. He remained in close stay to Candice, who lead them confidently through the marsh and underbrush.

"Where are we going?" Edward asked politely.

"Your baseball field," Candice answered with subdued interest.

Bella was surprised by this answer, causing her concentration to waver. She stumbled on a root and was made to fall, but Edward was quick. He caught her with unnecessary concern and took a moment to stabilize her.

"Careful," he murmured in her ear. "Just hold on to me."

She nodded her head fervently, blushing. When she lifted her eyes to Candice, she just caught the look on the pale face before it disappeared in a flowing wave of brunette hair. They were walking again as she processed the emotion behind those carefully professional, darkened eyes of hers, the hint of a remorseful curve to her lips…

"Why?" Edward asked. It didn't look like he was asking out of innocent curiosity. Actually, with the hardened edge to his jaw, it looked like he was daring her to answer.

"Carlisle suggested it. He says it's the widest area available here."

Edward's expression tightened, clearly disappointed. Bella examined the two visiting vampires, and admitted to herself that the way they passed through the forest, although casual in their infrequent sighs and comfortably human pace, contradicted their eyes. The calculations were visible in their irises, how they scrutinized every insignificant detail, every overturned leaf and cluster of gray pebbles, and took diligent mental notes.

They finally passed through the high arch of trees and broke into the vast, green clearing. Edward pulled Bella to the side while Candice flickered a few hundred feet ahead. Deye walked a yard or so in front of the couple as easily as if it were pure coincidence he wanted to remain in eyesight of them.

Bella watched Candice kneel on the earth in what seemed like concentration. Suddenly, Edward's body stiffened and he leaned forward, anxiety riddled on his face.

"What is it?" Bella whispered, tightening her grip on his sleeve. He was as immobile as the stone his skin resembled. She turned to Deye instead, whose eyes were frighteningly intent on Candice. His gaze flickered to Bella for an instant, where a look of shock betrayed him and he took a deep breath to relax.

"You allied with werewolves?" Candice's awed tone didn't match her expression; wild, electrified.

Deye instantly visibly stiffed, his lips twitching back over his teeth. Bella took a dramatic blink, trying to clear her head of the fog that appeared out of nowhere. When she opened them again, Deye was beside Candice, a hand on her arched back rubbing in soothing circles.

Edward's hand twined with Bella's almost roughly. He gave her a reassuring squeeze. "They're more loyal than others," he said quietly, intent on Candice's pronounced form. "They helped when others wouldn't. They can top you in that, at least."

Candice's entire body convulsed at his words. She spit in the grass, causing the grass there to sizzle a little. After that, though, she seemed to regain control of herself, almost. She couldn't quite erase the scowl lingering along the hard edge of her jaw, or the unbridled hate glinting in her hard, flint eyes.

"Bella." She tried to speak calmly. Her eyes never left Edward. "I understand you don't have the faintest idea what's taking place. When I became a vampire, I also acquired the ability to draw 'memories' from a place, or at least significant events that took place. Quite obviously, that would be one of them."

"Oh," she mouthed. What was she supposed to say to that?

Candice took a deep breath, closed her eyes. Then she looked at Bella with utter sincerity. "If you have the right people with you when you're rediscovering yourself, amazing things can happen. There can be sense again, after you learn the rules. And after you're changed, it can be so confusing--."

"The Volturi?" Edward snarled, jerking Bella behind him.

Her gaze hardened again. "They can help."

"I think we're done here. I'm taking Bella to her house now. Don't you dare follow us." The acid in his voice scared her. Bella shrunk into his back, hid her head in his shoulder without a second thought.

But then, they were flying through the wood. Browns and greens blurred past them, and once Bella realized she was on his back, she tightened her arms into a death grip around his stone neck and squeezed her legs around his waist.

"It'll be fine," he assured her, but his voice was still velvety rough. "I promise, I'll never leave your side tonight."

"I know," she whispered, pressing her face to the crook in his neck. "I trust you."

She was up in her room, a notebook in her lap and a textbook to her side. Bella scribbled in it furiously, flipped the page, and began again.

Edward snapped his cell phone shut and exhaled sharply.

"What is it?" she asked, still looking at her notes.

"Carlisle's going to let them stay." He sounded tired, irritated.

She glanced up with worry. He was leaning against the far wall, his golden eyes burning into hers with stubborn frustration. He let out another aggravated sigh, rolling his gaze toward the window, splattered with snakes of rain.

"I suppose it's a smart move. We want to stay on the Volturi's good side while they're so close, and it gives them less reason to involve anyone else."

"Why would that do that?" Bella asked, throwing her books aside.

He answered as he crossed the room. "The Volturi will use any means necessary, which is not limited to hostages or murder." He perched on the edge of the bed and took her hand. "I don't understand why they're being so persistent. It's completely unprecedented, goes opposite to any pattern they've kept up. I hate keeping you in danger. Isn't the stress affecting your health?"

She smiled gently at him, leaned against his shoulder. "I don't have any reason to be stressed with you as my guardian. I know you'll figure it out."

He played with her fingers, and she knew he was scowling. She pulled back, tug her hand free, and framed his perfect face. "Stop stressing yourself out," she demanded, locking onto his eyes with a powerful force, trying to shake the exhausted look there.

"Carlisle's a smart guy. There's gotta be another side, too. If the Volturi are so used to their patterns, there has to be another factor in play. Besides, they weren't coming off as violent. They didn't send Jane- they sent those other two, who, so far, seem pretty ok to me. So stop being so glum, will you?"

Edward shook his head and took her in his arms. "Bella," he whispered, stroking her long hair, "no matter who they sent, they mean you harm. But I will consider your opinion. I'll make sure Jasper gets a background check on these two, like we should have done when they first came."

She pulled back to examine his face with an expression of confusion. "His days in the army come in handy," he explained. "Go to sleep already. I'll keep an eye on you."

"I'm not worried," she grumbled, but slipped under the covers without another word. Edward chuckled and stood up, making to return to his place on the wall, but Bella spoke up.

"Hey, hey," she said, grabbing his shirt. "Where do you think you're going? The only way I can feel safe is if you're right here." She wiggled to the side to make room for him.

Edward sighed, but he was smiling as he sat down again. Bella made sure to lift the cover up high to indicate he was to lie beneath them. He just shook her head, mumbled something like, "you'll get the chills," under his breath, but wrapped her in his arms. Lying there, she definitely felt safe, both for herself and for him.

She didn't put it past Edward to go off in the night and try to solve their little problem without her. But, for the rest of eternity, they were going to do things together. This was the perfect place to start.

She lay listlessly on the couch, her pale face pressed lightly against the window. Waves of warm oak hues spilled over the white fabric, only partly obscuring her skin that caught the filtered sunlight and displayed a muted refraction on the walls. A light sigh lingered on her parted lips, spreading far and thin in the clinging atmosphere.


Deye waited in quiet observation for her to soak up whatever light she could. He knew her desires well.

The light of his black cell phone dappled the pocket of his sweatshirt suddenly, after the silent flurry of his white fingertips had slipped it into its artificially conscious state. It took a millisecond for his tawny eyes to register the digits there, and he waited another short minute.

"Twelve twenty," he replied in a muted tone to the unasked question. "That gives us two hours before we can expect their return."

Her pale lips unwilling twisted up in a smile. Her long-lashed eyes opened in quick flutters, revealing behind them a black onyx retaining small traces of gold. "That's right," she whispered softly. "We should be back when the students come home from school."

He smirked in response, remaining silent.

Candice sat up, arching her back and yawning unnecessarily. "Well, let's get on with it," she said, slipping off the love seat and crossing the room with uneasy grace. He ducked his head slightly and followed, shutting the door behind with a soft click.

Bella moaned loudly, knocking through the door with her arms wrapped tightly around her chest. Edward closed the door quickly from the torrential rainfall, carefully averting his eyes to the staircase. Embarrassment made his voice shake slightly as he said, "I'll be back in a moment."

With that, he was a streak up the staircase. Bella took this chance to rush to the lonely white couch, sitting with her legs curled against her chest and her forehead pressed against her knees.

"Bella, here…"

She raised her head slightly, face burning furiously. "Thanks, Edward," she mumbled, taking his black shirt carefully. He opened his mouth, hesitated, and then turned to face away from her. "Er- you'll get drier quicker this way." He held out his hand.

It took a moment, but she finally understood. "Oh," she breathed, standing awkwardly and shrinking a few feet away. In one jerky movement, she ripped her soaked white shirt off and slid on his cool one. Hand shaking, she gave him the knot of dripping clothing.

He disappeared again. To the drier, she thought. In an attempt to banish the horrid blush, Bella took deep breaths and reclaimed her seat on the couch carefully, only perching on the edge. She immediately stood back up, though, remarking at its wetness.

Edward was beside her, smiling comfortingly. "I'm so sorry," she said, eyes wide. "I didn't realize- I hope it isn't ruined, it must be so expensive-."

"It's fine," he reassured her. "It'll dry out. Are you alright? Would you like a blanket?"

Bella rolled her eyes. "Don't get carried away, it was just raining a little-."

Edward smiled again, revealing a jacket from behind him. Bella sighed, but slid her arms in the slots when he raised it for her. They walked to the kitchen together, his hands lingering on her waist as Bella tucked her arms tightly to her chest.

She took a seat in one of the wrought iron chairs and he walked to the unnecessarily large refrigerator, pulling out a bottle of water.

"Why do you even have that?" she asked, tugging the too-long sleeves back so she could adequately unscrew the top.

"Mostly for when you come over," he answered honestly, pulling his chair close to hers. She opened her mouth to protest, but he was quicker. "You have no idea how pleasing it is to see you wear that," he murmured, looking her over once before glancing up beneath his lashes.

It worked. Bella blinked significantly twice, found no words come to her tongue, and instead took a deep swig of water. He chuckled beside her, wrapping his arms around her waist and resting his chin on her shoulder. She stubbornly set her eyes to the ceiling, brows creasing in thought. Then, she slowly set the bottle to the table and turned to his bemused, beautiful face.

"You're ridiculous," she stated bluntly.

He laughed quietly, but sobered quickly and leaned in. Bella, temporarily forgetting why, exactly, she was talking at all, eagerly met him.

Just then, the door knocked open. Edward jolted up, eyes wide with shock. Bella stood up, too, grabbing his hand anxiously.

"Damn it!" Candice cursed loudly. "Damn it, damn it, damn it!"

"Shush," came Deye's muted voice.

"What the hell were you doing? We almost had the damn fool, then you—ugh!"

Footsteps, very audible for once, pounded towards the kitchen.

"Calm down," Deye tried to soothe her, but heat was rising in his voice. "If you were paying attention, perhaps it wouldn't have been so obvious that you were trying to-."

"Shut up!"

Candice flew around the corner and stopped so abruptly her hair jerked horizontally, then fell in a mess around her shell-shocked expression. Deye shuffled in behind her, apparently noticing they weren't alone.

Edward was clearly dominant as he stepped directly in front of Candice. She glared with such a burning rage at the paneled floor it should have left a scorch mark.

"No use hiding it now," he said smoothly. "I think it's pretty clear you weren't hunting."

She snarled at the floor. After a minute of struggled composure, she met his gaze, though her eyes were far from cleared of their furious haze. "No," she said tersely. "I guess not."

Suddenly, Edward's posture shifted. He stiffened, his lips pulling back ever slightly, and his eyes flattening as they gained understanding. "Why don't we cut straight to truth," he snapped. Candice took a step back, black eyes blazing. "Your visit wasn't just to be a spokesperson. You're after someone."

"That's right," she spat vehemently. "I'm after one of the Blacks."

Bella, stunned to immobility the entire conversation, gasped loudly. Her brown eyes lost focus, she swayed once, and then she fainted. Edward turned to her immediately, easily catching her limp body.

He glared at Candice. "Lie after lie. You've got some explaining to do."

She silently returned it with blazing ferocity, hands balled into impossibly tight fists at her sides. Deye simply sighed and swayed to her side. "We'll be as honest as we can be."