bnthridiot: I apologize for my long wait in updating this. I seem to have lost motivation--which i wierdly discovered tonight. i blame the 5 hour nap i had earlier, which now keeps me awake at midnight. Well, I hope motivation is mine again, and i strangely enough imagined this chapter being longer. her flashback is going to continue for another chapter, im afraid.

Flashback: 1 year previously...

Anya pursed her lips and emitted a whistle that filled the little domed corridor like a presence.

The sound of it sent chills down Bella's spine, a feeling that had been happening a lot since their arrival in Italy. She supposed it was all the ancient arhictecture, or the timeless feeling Italian air seemed to emit. It was a humbling feeling, like you were in the presence of something bigger then yourself.

At the moment, Bella and her travel partner were wandering the ruins of San Galgano Abbey. It was a beautiful place—perhaps it was the light spilling in from the lack of a roof, but Bella didn't feel quite as intimidated by the site as she'd expected. Up until this point, their tour group had only been inside living, updated cathedrals. The cathedrals had been so dark, so formidable even in their beauty. Something about them made you want to huddle in your skin and not even breathe lest you disturb something so sacred.

But this place! Even though it was only a shell of a sanctuary, the ruin had a peaceful presence to it. Like it was slumbering, but didn't mind you walking through as it dozed.

Bella ran her gaze over the arched opening, at the carved flowering along the Corinthian columns. She reached up to run her fingers over the weathered stone, and had to stand on the tips of her boots to manage it.

Bella's travel partner, Anya, looped her arms around one of the pillars holding up what was left of the corridor ambulatory, and let her body swoop around it. "I Am Sooo Bored!" She complained, her straightened blonde hair swinging through the air.

Bella sighed. This was the 6th time Anya had complained since they'd arrived. "I'm sure we'll be leaving soon," Bella assured her partner, pushing back her irritation.

The girl pouted, then beamed when her cell phone vibrated in her pocket. Anya pounced on it in anticipation to entertain herself with whatever text had sent news of what her boyfriend in the USA was doing.

Bella dropped back down on her ankles, and moved away from Anya, who didn't seem to be appreciating the architecture around her. Bella stepped down out of the crumbling corridor and made her way out onto the heart of the abbey itself.

Over time, a grassy meadow had sprung up where once parishioners would assemble for mass and religion. Pausing in the middle, Bella turned toward the back of the abbey's ruins, tilting her chin up to look directly at the round opening in the crumbling brick apse. She could imagine stained glass once filling in the round circle. It was too early for it, but at sunset the sun would fill that little circle, creating a sort of glowing halo.

In the 12th century, the colored glass filling the cathedral with its bright light would have been awe-inspiring. A small smile stretched its way across Bella's face as she imagined it.

A shrilling whistle broke her reverie and plunged her back into the present. "Pheonix Italian Language 101! Back on the bus!" A loud voice rang out.

Bella sighed, taking one last look around her at the ruin, wishing she could stay a little longer, but realizing she'd probably seen just about all of it anyway. And, she had to realize that not everyone was as sorry to leave as herself. Anya practically dragged Bella back onto the bus in her anticipation to return to their hotel.

"Tonight is a free night!" Anya gushed to Bella as the tour bus started pulling back onto the paved road. "The dorm parents said we'd be free for a few hours to explore Volterra on our own, if we have a partner or an adults' supervision."

Bella smiled fleetingly at Anya before looking back out the window at the rolling Italian countryside. "Oh, that sounds fun. Which adult are you going with?"

Arya blinked at her travel partner, wondering how such a science nerd could be so dense. Honestly, Arya didn't know why the fates had forced her to partner with Bella for this trip. At school, she and Bella weren't even on speaking terms. Bella was the science geek, and boring wannabe. While she, Anya Baikov, was the high society of Baeton High School in Pheonix, Arizona.

Anya also didn't understand why she had to be on this trip. It was all her mother's idea—something to do with "I don't want you wasting your summer on a beach bumming around when you could be doing something worthwhile, like studying your culture! You need something other then cheerleading to look good on your college forms!" So, here she was, exploring the few things in Italy she didn't want to see—honestly, who cared about crumbling cathedral buildings—with a club of high school geeks who thought learning a second language was actually doing the world any good.

Well, that night was going to be the first time Anya had a chance to do anything fun since getting on the airplane, and she was going to accomplish it without adults supervision one way or another. "Bella," Anya began, her voice sweet and inviting. "I was actually hoping you and I could hang out together, jaunt around Volterra together, you know…What do you say?"

Bella ran her right hand through the roots of her hair as she contemplated the prospect. She knew Anya didn't give two cents about her as a friend, and knew that Anya must be desperate indeed if she was asking boring ol' Bella to hang out with her. However, Bella wasn't exactly sure she wanted to throw the girl a life line. It wasn't like Anya had ever done anything to deserve her efforts. And she did have a few books she'd been interested in perusing…that afternoon would be the perfect free time to read them…alone and undisturbed…

At that moment, the bus breached the hill they'd been climbing, and Bella looked out the window at the bright day lighting up the little city of Volterra. It was nestled so serenely in the green hills, the old brick and terracotta clay roofs glowing with the heat.

And Bella realized how foolish it would be to miss out on this opportunity to see the city for herself. When would she ever see it again? Perhaps with a google search engine she could review pictures taken by other tourists, but then she knew she'd only regret the decision to skip the streets of Volterra, when she had the chance to do so now.

So, with her mind made up, Bella turned toward her fellow classmate and club member. "You know, Anya, I think I'd like to explore Volterra with you."

"OH!" Anya gushed, pointing enthusiastically across the square, "Look at that vendor! She's selling some cute stuff."

"Hmm," Bella murmured her agreement, her eyes preffering to roam around at the people who were actual natives of the little Italian town.

On the other side of the square, a small band consisting of several instruments serenaded a small café audience. As Bella watched, an older couple left their table, the man leading the woman out into the street. Bella smiled as he pulled the woman tenderly into his arms with a farmiliarity of lovers and the two began to dance to the music.

Bella was charmed to the very root of her soul.

"Which do you think matches my outfit better?" Anya inquired of Bella, turning and holding two different pairs of earring up against her own lobes.

Bella reluctantly looked away from the dancing couple and forced herself to concentrate on Anya. "Ah…I like them both, but I'd personally go with the blue one."

Anya wrinkled her nose, then tossed the blue earrings back onto the vendors table, which earned her a glare from the young woman behind the cart. "On second thought, I'd better get the green then." Anya paid the young woman without looking at her, then scampered off to the next vendor.

Bella apologized in Italian to the young woman, who rolled her eyes and tolled Bella she should find better friends who weren't such "pig-brains." Bella chuckled quietly and then started to walk after her partner, who was already badly needing her help to translate the price of some scarf.

Thankfully, before long even Anya was famished enough to stop her shopping escapade, and the two of them made their way into the small café.

Anya sighed as she ran her finger through the little chalk board that held the hastily written café menu. "What I wouldn't give for a starbucks about now," she moaned, trying to make sense of the menu.

Bella ordered for both of them, and even held the polite conversation with the café owner while he made their drinks. Outside, they sat in the iron worked chairs and people watched as they finished their beverages.

"Italian men are supposed to be so attractive and romantic, you know?" Anya noted, eyeing the men that walked by. "But, so far, I am unimpressed. They hold nothing to American boys."

Bella found it safer to agree outloud, even though she didn't think it was fair to generalize a whole nation of men based on one town. Just then, one young man walking by with curly black hair looked at Bella and locked eyes with her. As Bella blushed slightly in response to the attention, he grinned and nodded his head to her before he disappeared down the street.

No, Bella had to disagree with Anya. Italian men were all they were supposed to be.

She really thought it a shame their bus would be leaving the lovely town to make their way back to Rome in the morning. Bella thought she would have loved to have seen more of it before leaving for the USA.

But, she also realized that she missed her mom, Renee, and the Arizona desert. 3 weeks was a long time to be away from the important things in life.

Across the plaza, the clock tower began to chime. Bella counted each stroke. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. 7'oclock. Bella glanced over at the clock tower, noting the deepening red in the sky and the sun dipping down over the hills behind that.

Twilight was fast approaching. The city would come alive with the night life, she was sure.

Volterra did not disappoint her assumptions. As the stars began to twinkle in the deepening blue sky, Italian people young and old began to come and fill the square. Music started with more abandon, the youth in the crowd eating up the chance to plaster themselves and their peers together in the uncomplicated forms of modern dance. Anya managed to wiggle her way in, the preppy girl in her eating up the energy the crowd gave her.

Bella herself hung back towards the edge of the party, enjoying watching rather then participating. She was never one to involve herself in a group in such a way. Plus, she was worried whether she could get to an American Embassy in time to save her life if she somehow managed to wound someone with her clumsy dancing.

There were other things to do besides dancing too. Vendors seemed to be engaged in selling wares designated more for the allure of night, rather the wares of the day.

One vendor in particular seemed to be getting plenty of attention. Curious, Bella moved her way over to the other side of the plaza. It took her a minute to weave her way through the crowds, but she did get a good view anyway. Bella had to raise her brow when she saw why the vendor was getting so much attention.

The woman running it was nothing more then stunning. Even if she wasn't dressed provocatively, her long mahogoany hair and face would have been enough to have men and women drawn to her beauty and influence. She was busy talking to some other tourists who were asking questions, so Bella grabbed one of the vendor's phamphlets to find out for herself what was offered.

It was some sort of advertisement for a night walk tourist experience of Volterra. Bella read over the phamphlet with a slight tingle of interest running down her spine. A guided tour of the last crumbling underground ruins of Volterra sounded interesting, something she'd prefer over the plaza club dance Anya preffered. She glanced at her watch and saw that the next tour began in 10 minutes, and would last about 30 minutes.

Bella signed up for the tour on the paper attatched to the table, and pushed her way back to the center of the party of find Anya. She found Anya back at the café, in the center of some group of young people. Anya was laughing flirtaciously while nursing a glass of some liquor substance. She looked mildly confused when Bella told her she'd be gone for 30 minutes and not to worry.

"Who's worrying?" Anya slurred, waving Bella away with her free hand.

Bella frowned disapprovingly at the liquor being passed freely around, but left without a word. Afterall, it was Europe. Besides, she wasn't offended by Anya's lack of caring so much as she was happy the girl wouldn't insist on tagging along for this tour.

Bella wanted to enjoy her last look of Volterra without one single complaint.

The tour began promply on the time the phamphlet specified. Bella estimated there were about 35 other participants beside herself. All of them tourists. Bella didn't recodnize a native Italian amongst the little group at all. Which made sense—Bella herself couldn't even admit she'd toured much of Pheonix.

The tour guide, the woman from the vendor earlier, gathered their attention. "Welcome to the beautiful, and mysterious city of Volterra, visitors," She greeted them, her voice serene and strangely seductive in its lisp. Her gaze swept over them, taking in her group. To Bella's observance, she looked apraising.

Bella felt a tell-tale shiver run down her spine, and had to shake off the reaction to the woman's voice.

"My name is Heidi, and I will be your tour guide for this evenings entertainments." She smiled at the end of her sentence, before continuing. "I will be leading you into one of the famous villas just down the street, once the home of the ruling powers here in ancient Volterra. The families power stretched far, and they built numerous tunnels and secret passageways beneath and leading through the city. Countless mysteries and haunted tales exist in these ruins and tunnels." Her grin grew wider. "And tonight, I shall lead you to them."

With her mysterious introduction over, she motioned for them to follow her and began to lead them away from the main plaza and away from the lit up clock tower. Bella took one last glance at the youthful party going on behind her and then followed at the back fringe of the tour group.

Heidi led them through several darkened alleys, then out onto a cobbled main road lit only by a single oil street lamp. It flickered and cast shadows across the tourist group, who were eating up the atmosphere of the mysterious tour.

Bella found herself more reserved on it. It felt too real, somehow. Not like a staged tour at all.

Heidi stopped in front of a set of double iron doors, that were twice as tall and wide as Bella's height. The iron knockers were of brass dragons, their teeth stretching over their lips like daggers. Heidi placed one palm on each side of the doors and merely shoved them. It looked effortless on her part, and Bella had to marvel that perhaps the doors weren't as heavy as they looked. They filed through the doors several at a time, Heidi waiting for the last of them to enter before letting the doors slam shut.

The tourists looked around them in awe. The foyer to the ancient estate was as massive as it was opulent. Everywhere Bella looked there were gold embellishments and statues of pagan Christianity. Bella also noted that it all looked quite kept up and modernized—this was no ruin. It least, not yet.

Heidi swept her way back to the front of the group, her mahogany hair glistening from the glare of the gas lamps lining the walls. "Now that we've entered the estate, I shall lead you to the first of the mysterious rooms. Do keep up, and no dawdling. This estate is still used by the ancient families's heirs, and you will be in most trouble if caught in a corridor you are not supposed to be in." Heidi's voice, once beautiful and seductive, took on a more sinister undertone.

The tourists all voiced their understanding, instinctively pulling closer together and in closer to Hedi. Their tour guide, assured of their cooperation, began to lead them down one of the side hallways.

Bella found herself shocked by the change in scenery almost instantly. The rooms went from opulent master pieces worthy of Italian history to simple white walled hallways befitting her Pheonix school hallways. It went on for what seemed like several blocks, during which the tourists began to murmur on how dull this tour was becoming.

Bella had to agree with them. Not only was the tour so far a waste of time, but the chills running down her spine were becoming uncontrollable. What was wrong with her?

Then, the white corridor opened up into a posh room that Bella instantly recodnized as a modern day reception area. The walls were paneled in dark wood, with green carpet from wall to wall. Furniture was arranged artfully, along with paintings of Volterra and some famous ancient works of art. At the center of the room itself was a receptions desk, manned by one woman who beamed at them as they entered.

"Welcome, Heidi!" the receptionists greeted, standing to bow. "I see you've brought guests to the estate!"

"Gianna," Heidi said simply, with no real feeling in her tone. "Is everything prepared for the tour?"

Gianna nodded her head. "All is waiting for you. I hope the tour will be enjoyable for all!" She smiled at the tourists, then gestured toward the elevator beyond her desk.

It took a couple loads, but finally the entire tour group was taken up to whatever floor was the beginning of the tour. Once again, they made their way down another white hallway, this time shorter then the last.

They came to another set of brass doors, which Heidi instantly pushed open. "And the tour begins!" She called out, her laugh bouncing off the walls.

The room they entered did not disappoint the eyes. It was a gothic as all get out, and as opulently midevil as a tourist could want. The eager guests brought their cameras to their faces and began to snap away.

Bella had not brought a camera, and was hence not distracted from the confusing vision before her.

The room was opulent, yes. But, it was also ominous. It was not like the abbey ruins of San Galgano at all. Bella felt no peace, and no awe. She only felt a dull sense of danger.

It was heightened by the fact that the room was encircled by men and women clothed in red and black robes. Men and Women who were as beautiful as Heidi was, and seemed to be as serene and as appraising of the tourists as she had been.

And their eyes…Bella found hers widening as she found her gaze drawn to them. They were a muted red, all of them, gleaming in the lit torches! And they gazed on the tourists as if hungrily.

Hungrily? Bella thought it an odd choice of adjectives for her mind to assemble. But, never-the-less, something told Bella she didn't like being herded into the midst of this odd assembly of strangely garbed guests.

As quietly as she could, Bella slowed her pace so the rest of the tour group passed her, then she carefully slid herself into the shadows of the pillars along the wall. There were several nitches dug deep into the wall, and Bella squeezed her way into the deepest corner of its shadows. Why was she doing this? She wondered, not sure of her own actions. However, she forced herself to remain hidden and watch.

As the tour group came to a halt in the center of the domed room, one of the robed figures standing on the front dias raised his arms wide. "Welcome, Guests! Welcome to Volterra!" His booming voice filled the room, and his tone bespoke familiarity and bright friendship.

The tourists all instantly relaxed at his friendly tone, turning their gazes to the man speaking with eagerness.

The man lifted his hands—which were frail looking and pale—and let his hood fall back. His face was just as friendly as his voice, and just as frail looking. The skin covering making up his visage was as translucent as white onion skin, framed by hair that was long and jet black.

And his eyes were just as red and as hungry as the rest of the robed people around him.

"Guests, I thank you for endeavoring to visit our estate! And I thank you, Heidi, for your excellent fishing," He gushed, turning his appreciative smile to their tour guide.

Heidi grinned back, and bowed. "It's a pleasure, my lord Aro."

Aro turned his attention back to the tour group. "Alas, I'm afraid the tour has to end before it can truly begin!"

The tourists blinked in confusion, not sure what the pleasant man was hinting at.

Aro let his arms fall, his palms spreading out to the robed people encircling the room. "Begin!" He said simply.

The room blurred in Bella's vision, as if her mind couldn't keep up with the people moving in front of her. However, what she could see shocked her to her core.

The robed figures set upon the huddled tourists like a well rehearsed mob. Each snatched one of the guests for themselves, dragging them in moments to a corner or an empty spot on the floor. The tourists screams of terror seemed to come to slow.

A couple of the robed figures seemed to dislike their victims screaming. Without a seconds hesitation, they snapped their necks.

Bella quit breathing as the sounds of screaming came to a halt. Every tourist lay dead in the arms of a robed figure. In disbelief, she watched the hoods fall back as their mouths descended to their victim's bodies. Some chose the neck, others chose the wrist or arm, or…whatever tasty blood vessel they found most enriching.

Bella couldn't believe what she was seeing. She assessed the situation by the facts she was witnessing—these people dressed like the occult, they'd just killed a rounded up bunch of inconspicuous tourists to murder, and they were drinking their blood in an orgy of ritual.

What else could she be witnessing but human vampirism?!

Bella would have been sick to her stomach if it weren't for the adrendaline of terror pumping through her system. She had no doubt that if she were found now, she'd be killed just as the rest of the tourist group had been dispatched. How was she going to get out of this?!

Their tour guide, Heidi, let her victim slip from her grasp with a sigh of content. She licked her lips of the blood coating them and opened her eyes. They gleamed with a vibrant crimson—her eyes no longer betrayed the hunger they used to. "Finally, contentment!" She purred.

One of the robed figures near the back snorted. "Easy for you to say," he grumbled, looking very angered. "You actually got to dine on one!" The man disappeared in the air, then re-appeared right in front of Heidi. "Did you conveniently forget to bring one for me, Heidi? Or are you really unable to count to 36 anymore?" His tone was acidic.

Heidi's brows pierced in confusion. "What are you talking about Felix? I brought 36 with me tonight."

He growled. "Then why am I still famished?" He spun toward the dias, his tone petulent. "ARO! Heidi didn't bring me sustenance!"

The papery, friendly man who had greeted their victims so sincerely stood gracefully from his drained meal. "Heidi, dear, your fishing was successful, no?"

Heidi began to look peeved. "Of course it was! I counted them as I brought them inside the elevators myself! There were 36 as we entered this floor of the building."

Aro made a noise of contemplation, an amused smile coming over his features. "Then, your dinner must be hiding nearby, Felix. Everyone, shall we listen a moment?"

As a group, the robed figures stood, and became as still as statues.

The room hushed into a deep silence.

Broken only by the sound of Bella's galloping heartbeat.

Before Bella could even think, a cold hand encircled her arm and pulled her from the niche where she'd been cowering. She was tossed through the air like little more then an object one could pick up. Bella landed hard on her side against the marble, a cry of pain escaping her lips. As soon as her vision cleared, she pushed herself to her feet, twisting each way in an instinct to defend as the robed figures encircled her ever closer. She was aware of the deep, sob like gasps her body kept taking in to supply her racing heart with oxygen to fuel her terror.

"Found her," the amused vampire who'd thrown Bella sang, coming over from the niche. She was in her teens, younger then Bella even, with blond hair and a child-like aura to her. "You can eat her now, Felix."

Bella jerked to face the Felix vampire who'd laid claim to her life, heart jumping. He had eyes only for her, and the hunger in them was blaringly sinister. "I find myself not as desperate to feed as I once was, Jane," he drawled, his lips pulling up to reveal gleaming teeth.

Behind Bella, Aro chuckled. "Oh? You're giving her up so another can have seconds? I never knew you to possess such self-reserve."

Felix grinned, wickedly. "Oh, I'm not giving her up to another. I'll drain her dry myself."

Bella blinked, and suddenly he was standing in front of her. She gasped and moved to retreat back, but as she'd learned, she had no chance of moving faster than him. Felix pinched her palm between his two fingers and pulled her arm out to the side.

"For defying me, I want to hear her scream first," he said with eagerness, and pinched down with all his might.

Bella's ears heard the little think snaps of bone before she felt it. The aftershock rippled up her arm and through her mind like a tempest. She jerked in his grasp, her eyes widening to the bursting point. His eyes gleamed as he drunk in the extent of the pain rippling across her face.

Yet, she did not scream.

Bella didn't know how she did it, but she clamped her teeth together to the point of breaking, and channeled all her will into not screaming.

She was going to die. Oh, she grasped that fact now. So, before she was snuffed out, she was determined to win in some small way. She would die with dignity. Screw Felix! She hoped her blood tasted like mouthwash when he drank from her. But she would not scream!

"Seems you've caught a silent one, Felix!" Heidi chuckled, amused.

Felix didn't like having his authority defied in front of his comrades. He pushed Bella hard enough to send her sprawling back down onto the floor. Bella caught her weight on her good hand, not sure if she could manage to hold back a scream if her crippled one were touched again.

"You will scream for me, one way or another!" He growled, and turned toward the one called Jane. "Use your power!" He pointed at Bella's sprawled form. "Now!"

Jane looked at Aro questioningly. From the tender look they shared, it was blatantly obvious the little vampire was enamored with her master Aro, and only existed for his will alone. The kind, benevolent leader Aro nodded his head, his eyes seemingly entertained by the whole situation.

As Jane shifted her angelic gaze over to meet Bella's, Bella lifted her head as high as she could and let her pain be overshadowed by her anger. With determination, she vowed that whatever the little creature was going to do to her would not work. She would prevail in this!

Jane's blazing red gaze held Bella's smoldering chocolate brown ones for a split second.

Then two. Confusion flared in Jane's expression.

When the third second hit, a strange hush had fallen on the room.

Bella swallowed once, daring to look around her. Felix looked between Bella and Jane in disbelief. The other robed figures began to murmur together. Heidi looked disturbed.

"Marvelous!" Aro whispered, lifting a finger to his chin as he gazed down at Bella's hunched form.

Jane meanwhile had gone from angelic to infuriated. With a cry befitting a harpy, she launched herself at Bella.

Bella cringed naturally, but needn't have. Felix wasn't about to give up his meal to Jane just because she'd failed to make Bella scream in agony.

Before Jane could reach her, he gathered Bella up and sprung back, a strange feral growl rumbling in his chest. "She's mine to dispatch! You stay back, witch!" He didn't bother being careful with her fragile body. Bella couldn't stop the little gasps that emitted from her lips as his arm squeezed her ribs tight against his side.

Jane paced closer, her own growls displaying her irritation with Felix's actions. "She should be in agony! I'm channeling everything I have at her! How can she defy me!?!"

"Is this true, dear one?" Aro questioned from on high. "Can you really not touch her with your power?"

"NO!" Jane hissed, eyes gleaming in distaste. "Let me have her! I must fix this! I can make her scream!"

"Not fair!" Felix interjected, tightened his hold on his meal even more. "She's mine by rights!"

"Just a minute, my friends," Aro interrupted, a speculative look in his eye. "You both are failing to grasp the signifigance of this situation."

Both turned questioning glances to their leader.

Aro stared at the trembling girl in Felix's grasp. "I wonder…" He motioned towards Felix. "Bring her here."

With a grumble, Felix took a hold of Bella by the collar of her shirt and marched her towards the dias. Aro descended gracefully, meeting them on the bottom step. Aro extended his hand, reaching for Bella's good wrist. She dug in her heels to try to keep away, but it was futile.

His papery thin fingers took her hand into his grasp, covering her palm completely. He bent his head over her palm, eyes closing.

They stood like that for several seconds, while everyone looked on in speculation.

After those few moments, and nothing happened, Aro lifted his head, surprise and disappointment showing in his red gaze. "How strange…" he murmured. "Absolutely nothing at all to see." But then, an abrupt shift of mood overtook his features. He beamed at Bella. "Yes, this is indeed Marvelous!"

"Marvelous?" A vampire to the left of Heidi inquired, his tone seemingly disinterested.

Aro flashed a grin in his direction. "Why, yes, Marcus! Just think of her ability! She blocks Jane's, and even my own! Just think of what an asset she will be to our little group!"

His remark was met with a shocked silence.

"What?!" Felix exclaimed. "Are you suggesting we make her one of us?!"

Jane looked completely disgusted at the idea. Bella had to agree in this case, it mirrored her own revulsion.

"I am not suggesting, Felix," Aro stated cheerfully. "In fact, I am most insistent. We cannot allow this discovery to go to waste. I wait decades to find talent such as this!"

"But--" Felix began to protest, then pouted. "But, she smells so divine!" He trailed a cold finger down the pulse in her neck. "Better then most humans, better then I've smelt in a long time! Must I waste her?"

Aro cocked his head to the side. "She is indeed unique! The first to have hidden from us, and the first to resist our powers! No, indeed she must not be wasted." Aro folded his arms, smiling comfortingly. "But, as a reward, my friend, you shall be allowed a small taste of her blood. Mind you, only a little. And be sure you leave enough to turn her, Felix." His friendly tone slipped away to reveal the sadistic character he hid beneath his façade. "I will be most displeased if she dies before that."

"And how do you suggest we control her after she is turned, Aro?" Marcus questioned, brining the leader's attention back to himself. "I doubt she'll be endeared to us, and she's demonstrated that any tries to influence her feelings otherwise will be unsuccessful."

Aro frowned in thought. "I'm sure we'll find a successful way to control her within the next few days. Heidi?" he turned his attention to her. "Will you find out all about our new member? I'm sure she registered her name and information about herself at the beginning of the tour."

Heidi nodded. "Yes, my lord. I'll get right on it."

Aro beamed. "Excellent!" He stepped over to Jane, who was still fuming and placed his hand on her shoulder. "Well, shall we depart this room and give Felix the time he needs with his meal?" He smiled at Bella's terrified expression. "I look forward to meeting you in your full glory, my dear."

The robed figures left the room with Aro.

Felix waited until the door had shut itself entirely before placing his hand about Bella's throat. His cold breath ran up and down her trembling skin as he pressed against her from behind.

"I would have liked to have drained you dry," he murmured, lifting her up so her feet dangled inches above the floor. Bella struggled for breath as her weight pressed down more heavily into his marble like arm. He sighed. "But I'll settle for the pleasure of torturing you for eternity."

She didn't see it happen, but she felt it—the tear in her skin as he sank his teeth into her collar bone, and the warmth of a red trickle of blood that slid down her chest and bloomed across her shirt.

He groaned and muttered something unintelligible at the taste, and pressed his lips into her skin with more exuberance. His tongue prodded the ski with lapping swiftness, urging the blood to flow faster. "Just…a little…more," he said between gulps, tightening his hold on her possessively. As if she could run way!

Bella's head began to spin, her vision to blur. He was killing her. She knew it, had already come to terms with it. Where before she hoped she tasted horrible, now she was gladdened that she tasted divine, as he put it. The other vampires wanted her alive for their sadistic reasons. She didn't want Felix to remember what his master had ordered. She wanted him to drain her dry now.

It wasn't so bad, she thought to herself, her eyes beginning to darken as blood became a less available substance. She could think of worse ways to die. It felt kind of like falling into a cold bath—a darkness that held no room for pain or terror.

So, why was her neck suddenly on fire?

It didn't fit the idea of death, this strange burning sensation. The pain of it jolted her to awareness once again, if only for a moment. Her eyes met those of Felix's. He'd stopped drinking, just as ordered, and now looked down at the helpless human with amusement.

"Now, my pet," he practically purred, stroking a cold finger wet with her blood down her cheek, "Now, whether you want to or not, you will writhe in agony for me."

And, as the fire spread to the rest of her body, indeed she did.

bnthridiot: I hope that was satisfactory. Over the last few days I've read several amazing authors who's storytelling rival my own. i only wish i was that creative--i think their loyalty to their stories inspires me to write now more then anything. So, next Bella wakes up a vampire, and as we've heard her state in her previous conversations with Edward, she doesn't make the Voluturi's lives easy. if only she could die...