31. Dead

"So I take it I'm going to have to rent a private shuttle?" Alice was suddenly next to Carlisle and I, pod in hand.

"There's no way she could handle a plane full of humans this early." Carlisle said, pulling away and looking over at Ronan, his face all-business once again.

"I think it's time for you to take her to break the news to her family. If we ever want this to work, we must act fast."

Ronan nodded somberly, and suddenly the bone shaking agony returned and over came me. My hands balled into fists and my jaw clenched.

Ronan took my hand. "It's going to be okay, Ava. We'll make it quick and painless."

He made it sound like I was merely ripping off a band-aid. I felt the anger flair my nostrils. "Don't even talk to me right now." I snapped before taking off through the woods.

It wasn't until I'd sprinted through the woods for a good five minutes that I realized I had no idea where I was. Ronan caught up with me and took my hand, spinning me around towards him. My breathing was much too rapid for a being that deemed breathing unnecessary.

"Listen to me, you have to put you're mind in the most precise place right now."

I glared at him. "What the hell are you talking about?"

He sighed, furrowing his eyebrows pensively. Suddenly, his hands were on my shoulders.

"I need you to match my rhythm of breathing. Ready? In… one… two—"

"What? Are you my freaking therapist now?" I sneered.

His eyes were suddenly full of bitter hatred as he growled, "Yes, I'm your freaking therapist now. So breathe with me."

I rolled my eyes and began listening to his voice count my breathing intervals.

In… two… three… out… two… three…

I couldn't fathom how long I kept up the breathing exercise, but before long, stress evaded me, and Ronan's hands grazed my lower back as he rocked me back and fourth.

"You can do this, Little Avs, I believe in you," he was whispering in my ear as I awoke from the closest relaxation to sleep I could experience as a vampire, and I believed him. I would have to do this for my family so they could move forward with their new lives, so my mother could provide for the twins in everyway possible without the mystery of her missing daughter hanging over her like an ugly, black cloud.

"Okay," I breathed, "I think I'm ready."

"That's a girl," he sighed, a loving smile on his face.

I gripped his ripped shirt. "But you have to come with me. You are not allowed to leave my side, because if I slip and something happens…" I couldn't finish my despicable thought.

He gripped my shoulders. "I won't leave you're side, I promise. And you won't slip. You're immensely strong; you just can't let yourself forget that fact."

I nodded and continued his breathing exercise in my head. I made direct eye contact then, taking over his mind. "Let's go, then." He immediately took off for the house, and I followed.

Dawn was soon to break when we arrived at the house, and my already dull human memories resurfaced as my new eyes took in the gorgeous piece of architecture. Distant images of my family entered my head, making me shudder.

"Ronan…" I hesitated, looking up at the window I knew we had to jump into.

He took my hand. "Hold your breath and remember what I told you: you are strong. You can do this."

I closed my eyes, taking one last breath as we backed up to make room for a running start.

He squeezed my hand. "One, two, three." We ran and sprung simultaneously, landing on my mother's bay window sill gracefully, with a thump that was barely audible. I felt like a cat.

I peered inside, listening to my mother's breathing and an anxious voice.

"Ava," it muttered, "Ava, Little Avs, where are you?"

I gaped. "Did… did you just hear her call me Little Avs?"

He smiled. "She has anxiety dreams about your Grandpop from time to time. This is probably one of them."

"Oh," I nodded, putting my pearly-white palm to the glass. The dull memories I had of my mother told me she would never have anxiety about her oldest daughter, only indifference. I smiled at the revelation that she truly cared about me.

Ronan had opened the window at this point and gestured for me to go inside. I hesitantly moved by him and stepped into her spacious room.

I kept holding my breath and stealthily moved around the bed to the side my mother was facing. She continuously twitched, and her face was contorted into a distressed expression, even in sleep. Misery flooded over me as I reached for her face with the back of my hand. I never noticed how much my mother and I looked alike. She had the same heart-shaped face, the same narrow, ski-slope nose. I touched my cold hand to her cheek, and her eyes flew wide open. She shrieked, reaching next to her as fast as she possibly could move, and when her arm whipped back, two red dots reflected off my forehead from the laser-taser she had pointed at my face.

I instinctively backed up, putting my hands up; even though I knew the puny taser could not hurt me.

"What the hell do you want from me!" She sobbed, her hand shaking.

I swallowed hard. "Mom, it's me."

Her eyes were wide with fear. "Who! Who's me! You're no daughter of mine! You're… you're one of those… things. And he!" Her focus was now on Ronan, "So is he!"

She shoved the blankets away from her, swinging her feet to the floor and stalked towards him slowly, gun pointed. "Where is she? Where's Ava! You don't tell me, and I'll shoot! I promise you, I will!"

"Mom! Please, you have to listen to me…" I pleaded, but she didn't look into my eyes. She had her finger on the trigger, ready to shoot Ronan.

"Tell. Me. Where. She. Is." Her voice was fierce, even with the hot tears rolling down her drowsy face.

"Mrs. Jameson, your daughter is right beside me, I assure you," Ronan squeezed my hand.

"The police told me to taser you the second I caught a glimpse of you, but I'm giving you a chance, Ronan. You'll go free if you tell me where she is," She took in a shaky breath, allowing more tears to roll down her face. "I just want to know where my girl is."

Ronan's seriousness resembled Carlisle's. "Mrs. Jameson, I know she may look different, but this is—"

I heard the laser-taser's precise electric current fly through the air and connect with Ronan's marble-like body, which did not affect him whatsoever. He continued to stare at my mother with a worried expression.

She looked at him with awe, and pulled the trigger again and again and again, until she began hyperventilating. She fell back into the bed.

"Mom!" I ran for her at vampire speed, holding her close to my cold body. She flinched, but she didn't try to fight back. "Mom, it's okay. I'm like him now."

She backed up and stared into my eyes, her breathing a little more under control. She furrowed her eyebrows. "Ava?" She asked.

I nodded, still holding my breath. "Yeah."

She touched my face with the tips of her fingers, marveling at the new me. "Bu… but… h-how? Look at your eyes. I mean… what… are… you? Ava, what did you do?" There were tears in her eyes again.

I had to swallow a lump in my throat. "Mom, I'm a vampire. I did this to save you, and Allison and Alicia. There's something coming, Mom, and I can't have them hurt you. I won't allow it." My voice was fierce.

She looked down, shaking her head, her jaw slightly dropped. "Vampire?" She looked at me again. "Vampire!"

"Shh," I tried to quiet her, no need to wake Allison and Alicia. "I'm going to be gone for a little while, Mom."

She shook her head again, her eyes wide in shock. "For how long, Ava? How am I going to do all of this without you? And when you're a…" She started laughing; she couldn't even utter the insanity.

I took her hands. "Mom, you've got Allison and Alicia. They're growing with you, and I'm going to allow you guys to continue living your lives."

She stared down at our hands, shaking her head. "But I need you, Ava. I can't do this myself."

"But you can. You're such a strong woman, Mom, and I love you so much. I'm so glad I had you as a mother."

He head snapped up to meet my eyes. I had her in my trap, and I dreaded what had to come next. "I love you, too, but why do you say that like it's a good-bye?"

"Because it is," I whispered inaudibly.

I focused on her eyes and my part. "The last ten hours you've experienced was an outlandish, crazy dream. All you remember consciously is that your daughter, Ava, died tonight in a car accident. She was driving with her boyfriend, Ronan, who also perished in the crash. You will make sure you and your daughters cope fine with the death of Ava, because she loves you so much." I couldn't continue without risking a sob, but as soon as I finished speaking, she had fallen into a deep sleep, following my instructions.

Ronan had his hand on my shoulder suddenly. "Ava, that was great."

I gritted my teeth, swallowing the dread of what I had to do next. "I have to tell the twins."

Ronan sighed. "Really, Ava? Do you really need to make this harder on yourself?"

I just shook my head and whispered, "This isn't about me."

I walked at human speed down the hallway. The lack of breathing was becoming more and more uncomfortable with every step, but I couldn't will myself to go any faster. Suddenly, light flooded from underneath their bedroom door. I froze.

"We can just leave right now. They will be getting the text. They don't need to see you."

I didn't know what text he was talking about, it was probably part of Carlisle's plan, but there was no reason in his words. They made no sense to me, because, at present, I was floating in the middle of the endless ocean. I'd been treading water for hours and hours, and my eyes were beginning to droop. I wasn't being rescued; there was no going back to the blissful ship of life I was once sailing on once I was overboard. It was time for me to close my eyes and let the dark abyss of death sweep me away.

I reached for the handle and whipped the door open.

Alicia lifted her head from her pod phone, her eyes widening as she laid eyes on me. "Oh my God. Al, wake up."

Alison was a little less calm. Her shriek was piercing when she saw me in the door way. I had my hand over her mouth before it lasted more than a second.

Alicia gasped, and I put a finger over my lips. She stayed silent.

When I took my hand off of Alison's mouth, she stared at me in awe. I looked passed her and caught a glimpse of myself in their well-stocked vanity. One look at my piercing red eyes, porcelain skin and my muddy, tussled dark-red locks, and I could see why; I was beautiful and terrifying.

"What the hell happened to you?" Alicia breathed.

"I turned myself into a vampire." Was my answer.

Alison continued to gape. "What?"

I shook my head. "It doesn't matter. You're not going to remember any of this anyway."

"What the hell are you talki—" She couldn't finish her sentence, I already had her eyes.

"The last ten hours you've experienced was an outlandish, crazy dream…"

"Alison! What are you doing to her!" Alicia asked frantically.

"All you remember consciously is that your sister, Ava, died tonight in a car accident. She was driving with her boyfriend, Ronan, who also perished in the crash."

"ALLISON!" She was shaking her now. Alison's eyes never left mine.

"You will make sure you cope fine with the death of Ava, because she loves you so much."

Alison was fast asleep after I took my focus off of her and locked eyes with Alicia. I gave her the same speech and she was asleep next to Alison on her twin bed. I switched off the light in their room as I exited.

"You're going to have to trash the Porsche." I told Ronan.

He nodded silently and flitted down the stairs. I heard the engine start up and Ava's favorite car zoom down the long driveway.

I began aimlessly wandering around the house then. I walked around the huge atrium of the house that awestruck Sharon into buying the house. I felt the leather on the couch in the cozy living room. I listened as the nearly silent House Cleaner delicately scrub the dishes that soaked in the sink. I took the extra flight to Ava's room, to see if I needed a keepsake, but I left it empty handed.

I found myself in the atrium again, looking up at the lovely winding staircase, the gorgeous piano in the corner. I took it in through vampire eyes for one last time, trying to memorize every increment, every innovation Sharon had slaved over, every memory ever made in the breathtaking, yet haunted place. The place the Cullen's lived and fled one hundred years ago. The place a forbidden couple fell in love. The place three women grew. The place the Jamesons' lost a husband and a father; a daughter and a sister.

I walked out the front door and down the porch steps, not looking back, because I didn't live here, Ava did. And Ava was dead.