I had to leave them once they reached the main road, and then I was alone again, half way to Houston. There was no point in denying my vampire self, I concluded, and began to run at vampire speed towards the city.

I hope you enjoy this chapter, its extra long! I tried to update three days ago but the fanfiction login wasn't working, so at least you have it today!

I reached Houston by mid-afternoon the next day, and spent the last of the overcast daylight hours mapping in pencil on a sheet of paper the road that led to the outskirts of the city. I added the small farm buildings and inns that I could see, and then tucked the sheet of paper into my pocket. Maria had wanted me to map the city, including all the weak points and vampire defences, so that she could attack her enemy with her new army and take the city. That night, I saw nothing that hinted of vampire activity. It was perhaps to be expected: for a vampire to hold a city, he had to be silently in control. Those who flouted their power over the humans were taken down by the Volturi. And yet I was slightly disappointed as I searched out an inn and made my way inside.

It was past midnight, and the front door of the inn was closed. I crept around the back of the building, climbed up a drainpipe, and slipped in through an open window, and then jumped with shock as a young woman rounded the corner and stared at the dazzlingly handsome young man who had just climbed through a second storey window by himself.

She stared with wide brown eyes at me, her mouth slightly open.

"Who are you?" she murmured, and it was plain in her voice that she was trying to decide whether I was human or an angel.

"I would like a bed for the night," I replied. She seemed surprised to hear my low velvet voice; extremely shocked and then immediately soothed. I supposed it helped that I subtly manipulated her emotions towards welcoming me.

"Of course," she said gently, "Right this way."

And then she led me down the corridor, opened one of the rooms with a set of keys hanging off her belt. She handed the key to me and then offered me a hot drink.

"No, thank you ma'am," I replied softly, examining the small but cosy room, "A bed is all I need."

And then I turned and flashed her a smile, which resulted in an emotional swoon that I hadn't intended. I could feel desire beginning to race through her veins, so hot I could almost taste it. I took a deep breath to try and rid myself of it, but was met with a noseful of the scent of her blood, and the hot, wet heat of her heart. I quickly killed the smile, said goodnight, and closed the door. I had fed not long ago, and I didn't want to do it again. I was hungry, not stupid, and this woman would probably be missed. Only an idiot gave himself over to his instinct to hunt in the middle of a houseful of sleeping humans. I could end up killing the lot of them, and that wouldn't be very subtle. I planned on living long enough to get away from here undetected, just as Maria had asked.

I listened until I could hear her get into bed on the floor below, and then turned back to the simple room. The bed was small and cramped, and I could see tiny mites that would be undetectable to a human hidden in the cloth fibres. With a grimace I turned to the small chair and spread my map out over a table. It was barely detailed, with just a large outline estimate of the city's size, and then in the bottom corner, the land I had mapped along the road. That section was criss-crossed with tiny lines, immaculate in its detail, showing a perfect tiny representation of the real-sized land.

I hadn't come to the inn to sleep, because of course for me it was impossible. I had come because I needed a base in which to leave my things while I went scouting in the city. I was going to start tonight, while it was still dark. The absence of distracting humans would prove a blessing as I began to search for vampire habitation and activity. And additionally, the vampires of this city were more likely to come out at night to avoid the blistering sunlight of the daytime, which would reveal our kind for what they were.

I slipped out of my grey trench coat and hung it carefully over the back of the chair, and then rolled the map up but left it on the table. I looked down at my left hand; at the silver ring Maria had given to me, and stared at it for a while before deciding at length to keep it on. I blew out the candle and locked the room behind me, tucking the key into the pocket of my leather pants.

The street was empty apart from a stray cat, which scuttled down an alley when it spotted me walking like a ghost in the shadows. I followed the path of the road, silently memorising the buildings on either side of the street with a photographic memory, all the while listening for any signs of movement around me. My hearing radius was pretty broad (I could hear for several miles around), and so that was why I noticed straight away when the muffled sound of voices broke the late night's stillness. I couldn't make out the words, for they were still miles away, but I could tell by the low, silken tones that they were vampires. My step quickened, and stopped breathing so that they would not detect me. As I got closer, I could tell that there were three of them: two males and a female. The female was silent, and the men were arguing, but I could tell that she was there by her emotional climate (which was told me she was distinctly female and extremely bored).

They were in what appeared to be an abandoned mansion at the end of the street. It was large and grand, made completely of stone and with towering pillars to form a porch, and wrought-iron decorations above the wooden casements. It stood out utterly and completely situated in between the two tiny ramshackle rows of wooden houses that formed the street. I slipped quietly up the path and crouched below the window, listening to their argument in the front room. They were so loud they didn't notice me, and once I was hidden in the dilapidated flowerbed I lay completely still and immobilised like only a vampire could do, my breathing seized and my muscles tensed in case I had to move fast.

The first voice I heard was from one of the males, his voice a low hiss of barely suppressed anger, which his emotions mirrored, "And what the fuck do you think I can do about it? It was your fucking mistake. You deal with it." I could tell from his voice that he was very young, probably relatively newly 'created', and from the north.

The reply came back almost instantly, and the accent of this male vampire was slightly strange. I tried to work out what it was that was off while he growled, "It was my mistake, you are right. But it is not just me who will get punished for it, don't you forget that. When you tell Him the news, he will rip us both apart. Think about that while you feed tonight."

This caused the other man's emotions to explode with fury. "You will drag me into this? It was through no fault of mine you failed to bring the bitch back dead! Don't you fucking dare accuse me of making mistakes. I carried out my part, it was you who failed to."

The other man replied again, and I realized that his accent was similar to one I had heard while human and in the army. He was British! "I couldn't help it! The girl I was told to kill had a much larger army than I had expected; they wiped us out! My whole army, destroyed in one night!"

The female was still silent, but her interest in the conversation was sparked.

"You had thirty newborns," the young male replied, "I find it hard to believe Maria's army destroyed them all."

I froze in shock— Maria's army? This British vampire was told to attack and kill us? So it must have been him that ambushed Maria and I a month ago! I thought we had slaughtered them all, but this man must have got away!

Immediately my desire for revenge on this man warred with my need to keep inconspicuous. He had been attacking our territory in an attempt to kill Maria!

"Yes, it is true that they had fewer newborns than I," the man said in his stiff, distinctly pronounced accent. "But the girl, Maria, had a bodyguard. He was absolutely deadly— no one could get past him, not even Delazear. He had scars all over every inch of his skin. It was truly chilling— he must have killed hundreds... no, thousands, to get that many scars."

I wondered with wry amusement whether they were talking about me.

The female was still silent, yet I could somehow tell that if she were to speak she could eclipse either of them. There was a quiet power about her, an atmosphere of danger. She was listening with marked interest now— something had triggered it.

The young northerner spoke again, but now he was curious instead of angry. "I have heard rumours similar to this. Tell me what this man looked like."

There was a pause as the British man thought, and then replied in a clipped tone. "I don't know, I didn't get a close look. I was too busy fleeing, for god's sake."

There was a rumble of irritation from the newborn. "Well, think harder, then. I need to know what to tell Him, when He finds out you've failed. It may just buy me my life if I have some information for Him."

"I don't care about your life," the other man replied in a curt tone.

There was a second's pause, and then with a wave of anger the newborn growled and leapt forward. There were several thuds, a weak growl of protest, and then the British vampire replied in a strained voice. "Alright, I'll tell you!"

"Go on then," the newborn snarled.

"He had golden blonde hair, he was muscled, tall—"

"Oh, grow some motherfucking balls and stop dribbling over this fucker. I want a name!"

"I don't know anything else!" the British vampire replied. His emotions were spiralling towards panic, and it was affecting me— venom was flooding my mouth along with a fierce desire to run from my hiding place and flee. But I gritted my teeth and battled to keep myself in the same, frozen position. They would realize I was here if I even moved an inch.

A harsh, piercing screeching sound broke through my concentration and then the panic immediately ceased. I wondered why, and then realized it was because the newborn vampire had just ripped the other vampire's head off. Several more grinding noises sounded through the window and then laughter.

"The little snot-nosed fucker was as useless as his name is," the newborn grunted with raucous laughter, "Duke Charles Wellington! That's a type of fucking shoe in that country, isn't it?"

There was no reply from the female, but that didn't deter the other vampire's loud amusement. She was curious, amused... and when she finally spoke, the other vampire fell silent immediately and broke off mid-laugh. His emotions went from hilarity to nervousness, puzzling me. Who was she to scare him in this way?

When she spoke, her voice was soft and dreamlike, gentle and chiming like bells. Worryingly, it soothed me immediately. "Mr. Frazer," she addressed in her satin-like voice, "It may interest you to know that we're being eavesdropped upon."

I should have moved right then, bolted away at vampire speed, ran for my life... but I was immobilised, frozen to the spot. With a grunt I tried to move my limbs, kicking out with a force that should have snapped me upright in an eighteenth of a second, or could have smashed through concrete like it was butter... but an invisible force that made it impossible to even close my eyelids held me down. I was still fully aware as I heard the front door open close to me, and two pairs of footsteps come down the steps and amble over to my flowerbed. I still furiously attempted to lash out, throwing as much force as I could into moving my legs, but it was in vain. I was trapped.

Two pairs of feet came into my line of vision, one pair of scuffed boots and the other dainty silk shoes.

"What do you want me to do with him?" the male vampire grunted as I attempted with all my might to move.

I felt a finger touch my chin and tilt it upwards, and a shiver of disgust ran through me. Now I could see the faces of the two vampires as they looked down on me. I had been right in thinking Mr. Frazer was a newborn— his eyes were a brilliant scarlet and his thin-lipped smile was smug. He had close-cropped, iron-coloured hair, and was thickly muscled. I would have been able to take him easily had I been free to move, because he looked cocky and arrogant and too sure of himself, but if I couldn't move I was completely powerless.

"That marvellous power of yours is useful yet again," he said to the woman with a disgustingly excited grin.

My gaze travelled to the woman (the only thing I could move was my eyes, though I tried constantly to overcome my immobility) and my gaze was captured immediately. She must have been young when turned, because she only looked about the same age in human years as me. She had long, straight, fair hair, the colour of silver. Her scarlet eyes were oddly captivating, strangely large for her face, and her small body was delicate and thin. I wanted so much to fight her fairly, without her power she would have been so easy to take down... it was intensely infuriating to say the least that I was being held by this scrap of a girl. I wondered when they were going to kill me, and tried again furiously to break free. The girl's emotions were bright with enjoyment at my struggles.

She leaned closer to look at me, and her eyes narrowed and then widened the next second when she saw my face. A sinister smile pulled at the edges of her ruby lips as she murmured, "Do you think... possibly... he...?" She turned to her companion. "The scars are there." Her tiny hand buried itself in my hair and I was frozen in revulsion as she pulled gently at the golden strands. Her slow gaze swept lasciviously down my body as she added, "He's tall and muscled, just like the helpful darling Duke Wellington described."

"Why don't you ask him?" Mr. Frazer grunted.

She yanked me backwards by the hair (in a gesture that reminded me not so fondly of Maria) and purred in a low voice, "What is your name?"

Suddenly I felt my mouth able to move, and I gritted my teeth, wanting very much to spit on her or swear. Instead I stared silently up at her with fierce loathing in my eyes.

When she realized I wasn't going to answer, she leapt forward and bit down on my neck, viciously tearing deep into my marble skin. For a second I could move, and my back arched upwards as her venom burned and licked at my skin like acid. The tendons in my neck strained, and yet I managed to stop myself from roaring in pain. It was only a brief second, and then the pain was gone, and I could not move again.

"I can do anything to you," she hissed, "And you can do nothing back. I am only going to ask you once more, what is your name?"

I opened my mouth, and licked my lips slowly with the tip of my tongue. "Why don't you suck my cock," I snarled, my tone like ice. She was certainly not a lady, so I didn't have to be a gentleman. Still, it felt wrong to speak that way to a woman, and guilt racked through me.

She roared in fury and leapt on me, her control smashing like a dam before a flood. Her nails raked against my skin, shredding my shirt, but found no purchase against my marble skin. She bit me everywhere— sometimes a quick sharp bite, other times deep gouges in my skin, and I couldn't do anything to stop her. My eyes rolled in my head, the only bit of me that wasn't paralyzed.

After a while, the male vampire put a restraining hand on the girl's shoulder. "We want some of him left, Katie. We will be highly rewarded for bringing him to the master."

She jumped back off me, and straightened her dress. "Yes, that's right." Then she leaned forward and tapped my ravaged chest, "But don't you ever, ever speak to me that way again."

I couldn't reply, but my defiant gaze said it all.

Authors Notes:

Review and tell me what you think.... if you think it happens too fast, then this is because I wanted to get Alice in quicker and to do that I need to move it along a bit. If you think its fine, then tell me what you thought exactly! It would be lovely to read your thoughts. Thank you guys!