A/N: Yes, I updated...I love you all who have kept this story under alert or favorite. Seriously…I love you. Finally taking this story off hiatus. There will be two PoV's in this chapter so please take notice of the switch.
I placed the strawberry scented candle on the coffee table in the kitchen and lit it carefully with a lighter. The smell violated my nostrils immediately and I had to stop breathing. Bella was the only one who enjoyed strawberry scented things…The only smell I enjoyed was the one that came from the ground after a rainstorm; everyone else in our family could care less about enjoying scents.
I forced myself to take a deep breath, making sure that the scent over powered all other's in the room. I hoped that it would aid Bella in her battle of the hunger for human blood. At least, I hoped, it would be less tempting to her when her sense of smell was distracted by strawberries.
I went into our refrigerator – a human prop I kept around for the occasional human visit, and took out a bowl of strawberries. I opened the lid of the bowl and could almost see the air change with the dispersing of scents.
I took a breath and regretted it once more so I stopped breathing.
The scent was slightly repulsive to me, but this was for Bella – not me.
Slowly, I went into the top cupboard and got out 3 small blue Chinese porcelain bowls that were given as a gift to Carlisle last year by an Asian patient. I filled the bowls up with strawberries and placed one on the dining room table in the kitchen and walked into the living room and placed the second on the coffee table. Silently, I walked up the marble stairs to the third floor of our large mansion house.
I enjoyed moving at human pace more than anyone else in our family. Emmett was always aggravated at having to pretend to be a human and Rosalie bared it with a locked jaw. Alice, on the other hand, claimed that she slipped up often but was always able to stop herself because of her sweet little gift. My sweet husband, Carlisle, had long perfected his human-vampire interaction and he was the most believable Homo-Saipan out of all of us.
I came up to Bella's door and before I could give a soft knock Alice chirped, "Come in."
I opened the door and watched Alice rearranging Bella's closet at vampire speeds. That explained why the FedEx van was here earlier this morning unloading boxes on top of boxes.
"Must you go so crazy darling. You're making me nervous." I told her as I settled Bella's strawberries on her nightstand.
Bella's room was the simplest room of the whole house; I had done my best to keep it that way during her leave. There was a simple blue coach, covered with a brand new silk spread and a dozen throw pillows, in the middle of the room. Scattered all over it, were random clothes that Alice hadn't gotten to organizing yet.
There were no windows on the walls but instead Bella had knocked out her roof and put in a sunroof so she could watch the skies. I enjoyed walking in on Bella when she would read and the sun would hit her so perfectly that she looked like a shimmering angel.
Her three walls were covered with bookshelves, all filled with Bella's favorites. Bella had published a few books under different aliases but those were in the library room on the left wing of the house. I sometimes believed that Bella was ashamed of her works, which I always found very impressive. I had memorized everything she had ever written to the public and read her books weekly when she was gone.
I missed her so dearly.
Alice turned around to give me a quick smile and rushed towards me. Her vision of Bella's coming last week had lifted her spirits to new heights. "I can see her right now." She whispered softly as her golden eyes stared into mine, but I knew she was looking at another where and when.
I leaned down and placed a kiss on her forehead. "How long?" I whispered.
"Five minutes and twenty-two seconds. Rosalie and her are getting along and I don't see Bella going after any humans. Her hunger seems to be under control."
"Red eyes?" I asked. I knew it was a redundant question, obviously Bella fed on humans in Italy but a part of me wanted to believe she'd come home with yellow eyes.
"Damn that Aro to hell." I muttered under my breath in anger and frustration.
Bella had never harmed a human until she met Aro. She desired them like the rest of us, but she loved them in a way. She loved them so deeply that she wanted to fit in with them. She did not want to be like them, but she wanted to fit in…to be accepted by them, to be liked by them, but something about our appearance begged for humans to stay away.
"Hell is too sweet for that man." Alice replied walking back to the closet at human speed but then suddenly she stopped and gave a soft moan.
"Alice?" I asked, quickly coming to her side.
"That's strange." She muttered.
"What is?" I asked putting my hands on her shoulders, ready to comfort and protect her from anything the best way I could.
She turned her head to face me, confusion was written all over her stone-perfect face. "Edward Swan." She said.
"Who?" I was perplexed.
"I don't know. I just heard his name. The voice sounds so familiar. Edward…Edward…Oh." She closed her eyes for a moment while her vision played out. "I see."
I waited a moment and asked, "What do you see?"
"He's a new kid." Alice stated opening up her eyes and flashed me a reassuring smile that told me not to worry.
My hands fell to my sides as Alice moved back inside the closet and began to fix one of the dresses on a hanger.
"Human?" I asked walking towards the bed and began to fold the clothes that still had tags on them.
"I believe so. I don't know him and it's a bit hard to see…I don't know why I saw him in the first place." She said turning around to me. "But I can almost smell his blood. It's unbearable. It's like he's bleeding right in front of me. Ugh." Alice said rubbing her temples.
"Oh honey." I felt so terrible for my dear daughter sometimes. I often wished there was something I could do but sadly I was not gifted with any special abilities to help others. "I can light some more candles if you'd like. That might drown out the smell."
"It's alright. It's gone." She replied grabbing some shirts I folded and placed them in the drawers inside the closet. "I just didn't expect the vision to be so vivid, is all. Very much annoying but…" Alice added with a shrug.
I folded and she placed them in the drawers till the coach was clean and then Alice let out a sigh as she looked around the room, "Mom?"She asked closing her eyes.
"Yes?" I held my hand out to her.
"Do you think Bella and I will ever find someone? Someone that's like Carlisle to you or Rose to Em."
"Yes, dear. I honestly believe so."
"I keep looking, but I can't see anyone. Instead I get the high school new kid." Alice said pouting as she opened her eyes once more.
"Maybe he's the one." I said grinning.
"Hah! Esme, he's not my type. His hair looks so untamed." Alice replied with a laugh and then faked a shiver of disgust. "Gross!" She squeaked. "92 seconds!" She replied rushing past me so quickly I was surprised by her speed.
Alice was extremely fast when she became giddy.
Quickly, I followed her down the stairs and into the hallway where Carlisle was already waiting with a gentle smile plastered across his face. My husband did not show off his emotions as the rest of our family did, he always kept a calm exterior but even a blind person would see the sorrow he experienced when Bella left. I walked towards him as Alice paced back and forth across the room. She was so excited that she could barely contain herself.
I grabbed Carlisle hand and we exchanged a soft kiss. We weren't much for displaying our affection but I could feel it seeping out of his every pour. He loved me and I loved him. Emmett and Rosalie on the other hand would make love in the middle of Main Street on a Sunday morning in front of a church without a care.
Like a soft whisper, I could hear the car's engine and the soft conversation between Rosalie and Bella.
"30 seconds!" Alice said looking at us with a glimmer in her golden eyes.
Bella was Alice's best friend in so many ways that it was just impossible to describe. Bella and Alice were like two pieces of a puzzle that made a whole picture.
I could smell Bella's distinct freesia like scent and Emmett and Rosalie as well. Their car was only meters away now.
Suddenly Alice jumped up, squealed, and then moments later she ran towards the door opened it and leaped onto Bella. She straddled her across her waist and squeezed her tightly.
Bella looked the same as before. Beautiful like an angel. Her long brown hair and her soft face made her look warm and welcoming. She looked just as sweet as a child. She never lost that air of innocence about her.
Her innocence was something red eyes could never take away.
Alice began to kiss her long lost sister over and over, on the lips, cheeks, nose, forehead…everywhere her lips could touch.
"Alice…Alice." Bella giggled returning a few kisses.
I missed Bella's sweet voice. It reminded me of what I believed a piano would sound like if it could speak words instead of notes.
Alice chuckled as she replied, "Stop. Stop. I know and I won't."
Emmett and Rosalie walked past their sisters and towards the hallway next to Carlisle and I.
"How was the trip?" My husband asked.
"Wonderful. No humans were killed." Emmett smirked playfully.
It was very rotten to joke like that, but that was Emmett.
"We had to stop for gas." Rosalie said grabbing Emmett's hand.
I was about to ask a question but Alice's voice echoed throughout the house and possibly half of Forks as well.
"I MISSED YOU SO DAMN MUCH!" Alice screamed burying her face into the crevasse of Bella's neck. "It's been so damn lonely."
Carlisle and I took a few steps closer to the girls, but only to remind Alice that we, too, wanted to welcome back our Bella.
"I'm here now." Bella replied smiling towards Carlisle and I.
"For good?" Alice asked.
"Do you see me leaving anytime soon?" She asked.
"Nope!" Alice said popping the p. "And you have no right to ever leave again. I don't care if I go blind. I don't need my visions."
It was a lie. Alice desperately needed her visions but it was a sacrifice she would make. We'd all make the biggest sacrifices to keep Bella with us.
"We've missed you dearly." I said softly.
Alice took the hint and jumped off Bella and cleared the way for Carlisle and I to shower her with affection.
I grabbed Bella into a tight embrace and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "Welcome home darling." I said honestly, placing another kiss on her other cheek. I missed my daughter so much. "You were in our thoughts every moment you have been gone."
"I thought of you all, very often." Bella replied sincerely.
"How do you feel Bella?" Carlisle asked as I stepped aside to let Bella hug him.
"I smell humans and they smell good." Bella said bluntly and then added, "But the strawberry smell is helping a lot."
I inhaled and couldn't smell humans, only strawberries, but I wasn't as powerful as the rest of my family.
"They will always smell good." Rosalie said as she leaned her head on Emmett's broad shoulder.
I could tell that Rose broke the ice with Bella, but she still felt uneasy about Bella. Rose did not do well with change and she was still getting used to her new life, but with Emmett holding her hand, I couldn't imagine anything she wouldn't be able to conquer.
My husband smiled sympathetically at Bella and replied, "It's alright. You start classes next week so you have time to get used to the temptations, and if you need more time – all you have to do is ask." I looked at my husband lovingly and from my corner of my eye I caught Alice's eyes twitching from side to side.
She was having a very detailed vision.
"Em!" Alice chirped as her eyes slowly steadied.
"There's going to be a fight between Mike and…and…" She closed her eyes. "Taylor. Taylor just took Jessica to the movies. Mike will find out tomorrow morning and go looking for Taylor. He will find him during second period outside room 8 in building 2. There will be blood and –" Alice stopped and smiled. "Thank you, Em."
I assumed Emmett made the decision to be there to break up the fight.
I raised such good children. Maybe that's the incorrect term, but I do like to think that I have been like a mother to them; always giving advice and comfort and unconditional love.
I glanced at Rosalie frozen expression and tried to offer her comfort with my eyes. The temptation of blood still tortured her soul violently. She had never slipped up since she arrived in Forks but when she experienced a deep desire for human blood she would go into a very depressive isolated state of mind. I could tell that at those times, she wished she had the ability to cry…heaven knows I did.
But we had Carlisle and Emmett to save us from being consumed by self hatred, and now Alice had Bella to protect.
My family was back together and I couldn't be happier.
I went to hug Bella again.
"Thanks mom." She replied returning the embrace.
Every time my children called me mom it made my spirit soar and it was almost enough to make my dead heart beat again.
"Do you want to go hunting?" Emmett asked.
"Not today. I would like to speak to Carlisle though." Bella said sounding slightly ashamed.
Carlisle nodded knowingly. "Shall we take a walk?"
Bella smiled as she turned to Alice, grabbed her hands and gave her a sweet kiss on the lips.
"Want me to come?" Alice whispered so softly that it sounded like the fluttering wings of a butterfly.
"No, but I know everyone will be eavesdropping." Bella replied loudly.
"So true." Emmett agreed and Rosalie swatted him upside the head. "Sorry." Emmett muttered grabbing Rosalie's hips and pulled her closer to him.
"Don't be long." I said to Bella and Carlisle as they headed out the door. "Alice, why don't you help me practice baking cupcakes for the upcoming P.T.A meeting."
"Can I help?" Emmett asked with childish mischief in his voice.
"NO!" Alice, Rose, and I screamed at the same time.
I did not appreciate opening last year's box of goodies and discovering my cake was shaped like a penis. Thankfully, with my super human speed I was able to reshape the cake into the Eifel tower.
"So what am I suppose to do?" Emmett whined.
I really wished that the house wasn't so estrogen ruled sometimes, so Emmett could have some boys to play with. I had long ago, contemplated buying Emmett a puppy but before I could even consider it further, Alice interrupted me and told me Emmett couldn't be gentle all the time and accidents could happen.
"I'll race you." Rosalie said smirking.
"You're on!" Emmett grinned letting go of her hand.
I smiled…both Rosalie and Emmett were so competitive that they would make everything into a game. Even sex. Who could make who orgasm more...I built them a house a few miles away for those games. Vampire's may not need their sleep but a form of undisturbed rest is appreciated.
"Three." Alice said. "Two." I said. "GO!" Alice squeaked and Emmett and Rosalie disappeared running out the door to who knows where.
"Let's bake!" Alice turned and walked towards the kitchen.
I walked out of the house, human pace, with Bella and my mind strayed to places I wish it wouldn't. I didn't know what occurred in Italy, I just knew that Aro swore that Bella was safe each and every time I called.
Aro's definition of safe is something I would love to hear…I'm sure it's similar to the Webster's definition of torture or agony.
Every phone call I made Aro told me Bella came out of her own free will and that if me or any member of my coven were to enter Italy – Bella would be put to death.
I stopped imaging what he put Bella through and cleared my thoughts as best as I could. I could not silence my thoughts but I could bring them to a whisper.
A soft whisper.
Softer than the birds singing 3 miles away.
Soft enough to keep calm.
"Carlisle." Bella spoke and all my senses became alert of her every motion.
"Yes?" I asked calmly as we walked towards our backyard.
I prayed that whatever she would tell me – I would be able to remain calm.
That's what I needed to be. Calm, as when I'm performing surgery.
I suppress my initial desire and perform my duty.
Now I have to suppress my desire to kill the Volturi family with my bare hands for hurting my little girl.
Little girl is still how I think of Bella.
I remember the day she walked into the hospital in Connecticut, carrying a basket full of warm cookies for all the patients. When I asked her if her mother sent her, Bella replied no, that she sent herself. She explained that people were lonely in the hospital and she wanted to keep them company. So that's what she did for seven years after that until the Spanish influenza struck her and her family.
"I missed you." Bella's soft voice broke me from my nostalgic memory.
"We missed you as well. We were all very worried." I told her as I pet her head softly.
She turned her head and her red eyes met mine.
I kept calm, my expression remained cool, I reminded myself of forgiveness, she looked away and I stopped coaching myself.
"I need help." Bella said as we walked towards the lake in our backyard.
"I will do my best."
"I want to explain something, and I want you to try to understand that I can't really explain it well."
"Explain it as best as you can."
Bella nodded and we continued walking at the pace of eighty year old humans as she spoke. "I went to Italy on an exchange. You know that part, since I'm sure Rosalie informed you."
"The second part of the deal was that I was to remain as Aro's…ummm…slave?"
I didn't like that word.
"You were to stay as a member of the Volturi." I corrected her.
"I suppose that works better…yes. Anyway, I was to stay with him until he broke me. I mean, what use would he have if he were able to final break me?" She asked me rhetorically.
"You mean, break you, as in read your mind?"
She continued; "I didn't understand why I couldn't let people harm me with psychic powers or why Aro could never read my mind. I think I have an idea about it but…My thoughts are all over the place and it's hard to articulate correctly." She sighed a useless sigh.
"Say it the best you can."
She nodded and began to speak in our vampire speed, "Jane broke me. I had felt such a jolt of pain in my head. It was like something inside me snapped. It was like a rubber band being stretched too far and giving up and snapping back to its tiny form or maybe even breaking. When she broke me I could not concentrate on anything and I had my eyes closed most of the time. Jane's power is so strong and the pain I felt vibrate through my body last for so long that I lost track of the world around me. But when I was finally able to open my eyes; it was as if I had opened someone else's eyes. Everything was a dozen times brighter…hmmm….maybe not brighter. Here's a metaphor; it's like looking through a window with a net and then looking through the window without the net. My net was gone. I could see things as they really were. Although as I began to heal, I noticed a soft net coming back to me. I tried to control it, and it was very difficult. It looked like a shadow – that net that I controlled. I could cover myself with it and when I covered someone else with it they didn't seem to notice. I think that's like my protective barrier but I was never able to experiment with it."
I nodded taking it all in and immediately asked, "Where is the shadow now?"
"Just around me. I'm scared to place it around my family." She replied defensively.
"Don't worry." I reassured her. "How well can you control your shadow?"
"Pretty well. Like right now it's by the tree over there. I can't stretch it out too far though."
"I understand. Bella, before we go back to this subject I want to ask you, did Aro harm you?"
"It's not Aro's fault at all. It was all my choice. I wanted to go. I asked him to take me in." She said not answering the question.
"Did we push you away?"
"No! NO! Not at all! Please don't think that. Never. Please."
I nodded giving her a gentle smile. "So you're going to stay with your family?" I asked emphasizing the your part in the sentence.
"Yes." She nodded.
"And you understand that you are an important member of this family? You hurt, we hurt."
She hesitated and then nodded the type of nod that told me that what I said were just words to her and they went in one ear and out the other.
Leave it to Bella to feel as though she has to carry the whole world on her shoulders.
"If Alice's visions disappear or if anything happens in school, please know that we act as a family on everything. Bella do not run away from us because it hurts us more than it saves us."
Bella remained silent, so I asked more about her newly discovered information on her power.
"What does it feel like when you stretch your shadow?"
"Like an elastic pull. Remember the hero elastic man and how he could stretch his limbs, I feel like I could do the same but these limbs are invisible."
"Would you be willing to experiment with it?"
"Not on you guys." Bella said sternly as we reached the tip of the lake.
"You said you tried it on vampires in Italy and it didn't harm them." I reassured her.
"But you're my family. What if something goes wrong?" She asked.
"If my theory is correct, you have been using your shadow unknowingly since you turned into a vampire. Through the ages, it became stronger and stronger and expanded further and further which is why Alice became blind. Her power is psychic and you covered her, subconsciously trying to protect her. It could also be that maybe Alice's eyes weren't covered but instead you covered the people of forks and Alice could not see those within the shadow. There are a few other possibilities but we won't know for sure unless you experiment. There is just so much that I'm unsure of when it comes to your ability."
"I can't. Aro broke me; no one else will come after us."
"What about rogue vampires in America? I do not want to scare you but I want you to be prepared. I want us all to be prepared because we are a family and we protect one another."
"Carlisle, do you truly believe that?"
"Yes. Yes I do."
"Alright, then I'll try to believe it too. I don't want to experiment, though."
"Bella, I will never force you to do anything." I said softly staring out into the orange sunset reflection in the lake.
"I heard there's a vampire coven battle in South America." Bella muttered.
We watched the sun set and darkness engulf us.
"Promise to be around when I try to cover someone with my shadow?" Bella asked me coyly.
"Promise." I replied sternly.
"Okay then." She looked out into the water with me.
She was still ten years old.
A girl with a basket full of cookies to feed the world so it doesn't starve.
A/N: Thank you for reading! I hope you liked!
Review and make me happy! I'll try to update once to a few times a week from now on. Thank you again! Love all of my readers to death!