Dylan walked slowly into the kitchen. His hair was still wet but the unruly curls couldn't be forced flat. They were already starting to corkscrew out of control. He was dressed in a long white button down shirt. The tails of the shirt hit below his knees. The neck was so big, it constantly threatened to fall off his shoulder.
Seeing the arms of the shirt flopping against his legs, Rosalie smiled at him.
"You know it fits me the same way," she said, beckoning him over. "Emmett's shirts are huge. Let me get those sleeves for you."
Walking over to her and holding out his arms, he turned his vivid red eyes on her, smiled a disarming toothless grin, flashing his dimples, and said, "Thank you, Rosalie."
"You're...you're welcome," she said, suddenly floundering for words. Rosalie hadn't thought about her friend Vera and Vera's baby boy, Henry, in a long time. Seeing the black curls and dimples brought all the regrets of losing her humanity back to the surface.
Tilting his head and staring at her intently for a minute, he asked, "Who's Henry?"
"How...how did you...how did he..." she looked around the table, meeting six sets of shocked eyes. She shoved her chair back suddenly and hurried out the back door.
Emmett watched her leave. He was torn, he wanted to hear what Dylan had to say but Rose seemed really upset. He finally decided that Rose probably needed a few minutes alone, if he was wrong, he'd deal with it later.
"I'm sorry," he whispered, looking fearfully at Carlisle. "I forgot. I'm not supposed to do that. It was just so loud. I'm sorry." Dylan dropped his head and shuffled his feet uncomfortably.
"Please sit down," Carlisle said, gesturing at Rosalie's vacant seat.
Dylan sat down, he swung his feet slowly, his toes barely touching the floor. He reached into the pocket of the shirt and pulled out a small pair of glasses. After wiping the small round lenses, he put them on and looked up. He was well aware that everyone in the room was watching him intently and it made him very uncomfortable.
Jasper, feeling how uncomfortable the child was, tried to send out a aura of calm. It seemed to work on everyone but the intended recipient.
"Why are you wearing those?" Jasper asked. "You shouldn't need them."
Dylan looked at Jasper with confused eyes and answered, "Because I wear glasses."
"But..." Jasper started to reply but seeing the look on Carlisle's face dropped the subject.
"You're ten?" Carlisle asked.
"How long have you been ten?" Edward asked.
"Edward!" Esme said, glaring at him.
"What?" Dylan asked confused. "I've been ten since Christmas."
"What happened to your teeth?" Carlisle asked.
"He pulled them out when I was...was...sick," he whispered, shivering unconsciously remembering the burning. "He said it would make me look younger and get more people," Dylan said, grimacing at the memory.
Alice gasped, seeing the image in her mind. "How horrible!"
"Who is he?" Carlisle asked, anger tingeing his voice.
Dylan looked out the window, his brow furrowed. "She's very sad now. It's all my fault," he said to himself starting to bite his thumbnail. He pulled his thumb away from his mouth and looked down in confusion. The nail and skin around it were rock hard.
"Emmett? Would you find Rosalie and check on her for us please?" Esme asked, seeing the pain on Dylan's face.
Dylan looked over his shoulder at Emmett. "She's in the garden sitting on a bench. Please tell her I'm sorry."
Emmett quickly left.
After a few moments, Dylan smiled and breathed a sigh of relief. "She's better now," he said, looking around the table. "It makes me feel bad when I do that to people."
"How long have you been able to do it?" Alice asked, leaning towards him.
"Always. It makes Father very angry," he said, looking unconsciously down at his arm. "I try very hard to not do it at all, but sometimes it's so loud I forget,"
"Your father..." Esme said quietly but was interrupted by Carlisle.
"You said you had brothers? How many?" he asked.
"I have six brothers."
"Six! Goodness," Esme said, smiling at Dylan. "Your mother's one busy lady." Looking around the room at her adopted sons, she smiled warmly again and said, "I can't imagine having seven active boys."
"My mum's dead," Dylan said quietly, looking down and picking at a button on his shirt.
Esme and Alice both gasped.
"Oh, Honey, I'm so sorry," Esme said, squeezing his arm.
Dylan shrugged uncomfortably and nodded.
Rosalie and Emmett walked into the kitchen. Emmett picked Rosalie up and sat her on the island beside Jasper and then stood in front of her. Rosalie put her arms around his neck and propped her chin on shoulder.
Carlisle cleared his throat but before he could speak, Dylan looked suddenly at Edward. The stare was so intense that Edward couldn't drop his eyes.
"Because I thought you were Joseph and Mike coming to bring me back," Dylan said answering Edward's unvoiced question.
Carlisle cleared his throat again and took a deep breath. "Dylan, no one's going to hurt you. Your ability is amazing, I'll have to say. Do you know what you are?"
"Yes. I'm a monster," he whispered, looking out the window.
"You don't have to be," Carlisle said. "Can you tell us how you became a vampire?"
"I...I...," Dylan started but dropped his head. He took a deep breath and pulled his knees up, wrapped his thin arms around them and rested his chin his knees. Looking at Carlisle, he continued. "I don't really remember. It was Christmas break. We were all home from school."
"Where did you go?" Rosalie asked.
"Fessenden," he answered, glancing at Rosalie.
"Nice school," she said, nodding. She whispered something in Emmett's ear.
"How much?! For a school?!" he roared.
"So you were home for the holidays," Carlisle prompted, trying to get back to Dylan's story.
"Yes. We had just had dinner with Father. I went back to my room and changed clothes," Dylan said and then pointed at his forehead. "Everything went away. It got quiet. Isaac was in my room, with Joseph and Mike. I remember something hitting me. Here," he said, touching the area behind his right ear. "When I woke up, I was turning into...into... this," he said, pointing at himself.
Dylan took a deep breath and rested his forehead on his knees. His memory raced back to a rainy day months before...
The door to the ice rink whooshed open and Vi Kelsey herded three boys towards the black Suburban now waiting for them at the curb.
"Quit dawdling. Your father will be home from the city in two hours. That's precious little time to get you home, dressed for dinner, and at the dinner table by seven. You know how your father is if there is a hair out of place or your tie isn't perfect. Now let's go," Vi said, trying to get her charges to the waiting car.
Vi found her job as nanny to the seven Massey boys to be both a blessing and a chore. For the most part, she did love the boys, but on days like today, when schedules were running late and there wasn't a moment to spare, she wished they could be more cooperative. She had learned in her ten years in the employ of Mr. Massey, that when he was home for dinner, which wasn't often due to the needs of his job, the rules were strict and there would be no deviations. Suits and ties were to be worn, mouths were to be closed, manners were to be in high supply. And of course, today they were at least 20 minutes behind schedule. It would be a miracle if they were able to pull it off tonight.
"Yeah, Curly," Weston sneered, pointing at Dylan's mop of corkscrewing curls and throwing an elbow at Dylan's head.. "You know how he is about a hair out of place."
"Shut up, Weston," Dylan yelled, shoving his brother. He was well aware of his father's feelings towards him and didn't need to be reminded.
"Weston, Dylan! Stop it! Now where is your brother?" Vi said, looking behind her. She gave an exasperated sigh when she saw him slowly walking behind her while texting on his cell phone.
"He's talkin' to his girlfriend," Dylan said, looking at Weston and laughing. Both Dylan and Weston looked at their nanny and started making kissing noises.
Peyton, realizing he was the butt of his younger brothers' joke, snapped his phone shut and shoved them both from behind.
"Boys! I swear you act like you were raised by a pack of wolves. Behave!" Vi said, embarrassed by their behavior.
Dylan's feet tangled with is gym bag and hockey stick making him trip and fall. A pair of cold white hands quickly lifted him to his feet and started brushing him off.
Dylan looked up, into the face of a man unlike any he'd ever seen before. Dylan gasped and quickly stepped back. The muscular man in front of him was dressed in priest's vestments. He was unnaturally pale, with eyes the color of coal. There was something about him that gave Dylan the creeps.
"I'm sorry, Father," he said, in a high pitched voice.
"Way to go, Stupid. Take out the Father with your hockey stick," Peyton said condescendingly while shaking his head. He ripped the stick out of Dylan's hand and walked on towards the Suburban, laughing with Weston the whole way.
Dylan couldn't move. The priest's eyes seemed to glue him to the sidewalk. A beautiful smile came across the priest's face when Vi hurried over.
"Dylan? Dylan, are you okay? Father? Is everything okay?" Vi asked. She'd seen Dylan have little spells like this before, but didn't know what caused them.
"Yes," the priest said, breaking eye contact with Dylan and looking at Vi. "Everything is fine. Young Dylan here tripped and fell. I was just helping him up. Right, Dylan?"
'It's nice to finally meet you, Dylan Massey' barreled into Dylan's head. He knew he was the only one to hear this.
Dylan nodded without saying a word, acknowledging both the spoken word and the silent communication. He was scared, terrified. He could see this man, surrounded by a group of pale skinned kids in a dark house. He had no idea what it meant. He knew one thing for sure...this man was no Catholic priest.
"I'm Father Isaac Scott, Ma'am. Providence happened to have me here at exactly the right time."
"Thank you, Father," Vi said. She bent down and picked up Dylan's gym bag. She turned to Dylan, suddenly worried and wanting to get away from the priest. "Dylan, Honey, we need to go. We have to get home." She put her arm around the boy's shoulders and hurried him toward the waiting vehicle. Both she and Dylan glanced repeatedly over their shoulders at Father Isaac the whole way to the Suburban, both feeling uneasy in his presence.
Dinner was a tense affair, as usual. The focus of ire for this particular meal was Dylan, the fact that he couldn't wear a jacket due the cast on his left arm was the beginning of a long dinner. They made it through the salad, lobster, and were just about to get to dessert, when Jack Massey's eyes fixed on Dylan again.
"Dylan? Have you even eaten anything besides salad and bread?" Jack snarled at his youngest son.
"Yes, Father," Dylan said quietly. Underneath the table, his hands were twisting his napkin into knots.
"I don't think you have. I've had my eye on you. Come here."
Dylan slowly got up, pushed his chair in and walked to the head of the table.
"I spend thirty five thousand dollars a year to send you boarding school. Can they not even teach you how to tie your tie correctly," Jack asked in his clipped British accent, looking his youngest son up and down critically. "You're excused. When you can do something about that mop on your head and not look like a common street urchin in my presence, you can come back to family dinner. And not before, " Jack finished, turning away from Dylan.
Dylan quickly escaped the room. His brothers had not looked up one time during the speech. They felt bad for Dylan, but knew it could just as easily have been one of them, and still could be, dinner wasn't over yet.
He walked quickly through the house but didn't feel a sense of relief until he was back in the wing of the house that belonged to him and his brothers. Once back inside the safe confines of his bedroom, he relaxed and toed his shoes off. He had just changed into sweats and a Boston Bruins t-shirt and turned his laptop on when Vi walked into his bedroom with a covered plate and a large glass of milk.
"Cook thought you might be hungry," she said, sitting the plate on his desk.
"Yes. Thank you," he said, smiling at her. He took the napkin off the top of the plate and saw two peanut butter and grape jelly sandwiches. Taking a large bite, he chewed with a look of happiness on his face.
"You finish both of those," Vi said pulling him into a fierce hug and kissing his forehead. 'I should've just kept him up here. I knew what he'd do when he couldn't wear the damn jacket,' she thought, tears in her eyes.
"It's okay. It'll be someone else's turn next time. Right?" he asked, acknowledging his nanny's unspoken thoughts.
Vi smiled at Dylan, secretly her favorite of the seven boys. Dylan's ability to pick the thoughts out of her mind could be disarming at times but it was part of him and she loved him. If only what Dylan said were true. Dylan more and more seemed to be the focus of Jack Massey's anger. While she missed him terribly, she was glad that he was finally old enough to go away to boarding school. Jack was never warm with any of his children, but he was downright contemptuous to Dylan.
"I'm going to run back to the kitchen and help Cook finish everything up. You stay up here and stay out of trouble," she said, patting the top of Dylan's head.
"Okay," he answered, ducking out from under her hand and booting up World of Warcraft.
A hour later, Dylan sat up from his hunched over position and reached for the backpack at his feet. His eyes were tired and his head was starting to ache. He dug underneath the book he was supposed to be reading over Christmas Break, his PSP and iPod and finally found the glasses case he was looking for.
Suddenly, he looked around in alarm. Something felt different. He couldn't hear anything. Usually everyone's thoughts were a background noise in his head. Dylan was used to it always being there, the total absence was wrong. A small bump behind him caused him to whirl around. The priest from earlier today was standing beside his bed. How had he gotten there? Dylan froze, unable to move.
"Hello, Dylan," Isaac said in a silky voice. He was no longer dressed as a priest.
"Hi," Dylan said, scared. "What're you doing here?"
"Oh, I've had my eye on you for a long time. You're special. You'll fit in just perfectly with my little family," the man said, continuing to smile, never breaking eye contact with Dylan.
"Special?" Dylan questioned. He knew something was wrong, very wrong and getting worse but he was unable to look away. Why hadn't any of his brothers or Nanny come upstairs. Surely dinner was over.
"Very special. We'll discuss all this later. Right now, I'd like to introduce you to my oldest sons, Joseph and Michael. They're going to help you sleep. It's a long trip to your new home." Isaac turned away and motioned someone toward them.
Dylan shook his head, coming out of a daze. He turned and saw two tall, thin teenagers smiling at him. He felt a blow to the back of his head and then everything went black.
Esme reached over and gently laid her hand on the back of Dylan's head.
Dylan jerked away and gasped, a look of terror in his eyes.
"I'm sorry," Esme said, quickly pulling her hand away.
"No, I'm sorry," Dylan said, smiling tightly at her. "I guess I was dreaming. I'm bad about that. Father says it's a bad habit."
"Why didn't you eat the lobster?" Alice asked. She'd watched the memory as it unfolded in Dylan's head.
"I don't like lobster. It makes my mouth itch. I ate salad and bread, just not the lobster."
A terrible anger smoldered in Alice's eyes. Jasper looked at his wife with alarm. She didn't usually get that mad about anything. He moved behind her, put his hands on her shoulders and started to gently rub the back of her neck with his thumbs, all the while exuding a sense of calm. Alice looked up at him with a soft smile and leaned her head against his stomach.
Everyone looked from Alice to Dylan with confusion. They knew that something bad must have happened for Alice to be that angry.
"On the night Dylan was bitten, he got in trouble for not eating his dinner even though it sounds like he had a shellfish allergy," Alice explained.
The mood in the room quickly turned to one of anger at Dylan's family and sadness for Dylan.
He took a deep breath and looked back at Carlisle, continuing his story where he'd left off, as if Alice hadn't spoken.
"Isaac, Joseph and Mike took me Seattle."
"What did you do while you lived with Isaac? How did you make yourselves look normal?" Jasper asked. "How many were in the group?"
"There were eight of us, and Isaac. We're all orphans and he's Father Isaac."
"How did he have money to look legitimate?" Emmett asked.
"We robbed people," Dylan answered matter-of-factly.
"How did you feed, Dylan?" Carlisle asked quietly.
Dylan dropped his head. Taking a deep breath, he looked at Carlisle from under his bangs. "I was supposed to bump into people or trip and fall or look like I was lost and cry. Kimmy was lookout. Joseph and Davy picked 'em clean. If we did good, Isaac would...," Dylan tried to answer. Shaking his head slightly, he continued. "I usually went out with Joseph, Davy and Kimmy. We were against Mike, Jason, Maria and China. Whoever did the best got to..."
"Modern day Fagin. That's disgusting," Edward replied.
"You're not a brand new newborn are you?" Jasper asked. He could feel the guilt rolling off of Dylan.
Dylan did not reply. He turned his head and looked out the dark window.
"He said he would kill Nanny and the boys," Dylan replied tonelessly.
After a few moments he continued. "I tried not to. I don't like to see blood. But he made me. He would wait til I got tired," Dylan said frowning, wanting a better word but not knowing one, "and then force me to drink. Everyone made fun of me. I didn't want to, but he made me."
"What's your last name, Dylan? Where are you from?" Carlisle asked, his face showing concern for the child's guilt.
Dylan looked at Carlisle with fear and distrust in his eyes and asked, "Why?"
"We're not like Isaac. We mean your family no harm Dylan. We don't hunt humans. Our lifestyle is different than that. We feed on animals. We live here as a family, with Esme and myself the adoptive parents of five teenagers. We would love for you to stay, but we won't force the issue. We want nothing from you other than for you to be at peace. You're free to go whenever you choose. If you do leave, we ask that you not hunt in this area. A murder," Carlisle said, and seeing the pained expression on Dylan's face, tried to soften his words, "an unexplained death, would bring a lot of people to this area. We try to blend in. We don't need a lot of police or investigators here looking around."
Dylan stared intently at Carlisle, his bright ruby eyes seeming to bore into Carlisle's head. Carlisle sat calmly, not moving. After what seemed like an eternity to everyone else in the kitchen, Dylan took a deep breath and looked down. Looking to his right, he saw Esme. She had a warm smile on her face and was nodding reassuringly at him. He stared briefly at everyone else in turn, seeing only acceptance and curiosity.
"My name is Dylan Jacob Massey. I'd like to stay."