I groaned and stretched as I, very slowly, made my way back into consciousness. Sleeping hadn't been the easiest thing to do lately, and the weirdest thing was, I didn't know why. Nothing particularly had changed in the past five months, so why couldn't I sleep? Why did I feel as if something bad was about to happen, like my worst nightmares were going to crawl through my window and stare me right in the eyes?
I sighed. Just what I needed, a headache to start the day. I chuckled, and sat up in my bed. I looked at the clock, and my mouth dropped. The clock read 6:00. PM. Had I really slept for as long as that said? Impossible. Besides, they wouldn't let me sleep that long at all, would they?
I jumped out of bed, and ran out the door, and down the stairs. Typically, I tripped over my own feet on the last three, and almost failed to catch myself on the banister.
I heard two bursts of laughter come from the kitchen.
" Shut up." I told them, coming in. There they were. My babies, my angels. Sitting on the counter, eating a bowl of cereal, was my baby girl. She'd kill me if she knew that I was calling her that (though I was completely surprised that she hadn't noticed). She was 16 now, her long mahogany hair flowing over her shoulders beautifully. She smirked and shook her head, her entire body shaking with concealed laughter.
" Mom, when did you go to sleep?" came a rough yet sweet and protective tone I knew so well. I looked at my son who was sitting at the table with his feet propped up on it, and felt my eyes narrow at the sight. He felt my gaze and, slowly, lowered his feet with a repentant look on his face.
" When did you go to sleep, oh mighty protector?" I countered, only half jokingly. Owen did take it upon himself to protect us, and it worried me. Alice giggled. Yes, I named my daughter Alice. And, if that didn't make me a masochist, her full name was Alice Renee Esme Rose Swan, named after the four most wonderful woman known to the earth.
Owen glared at me. "That's beside the point." he said slowly, through gritted teeth. Owen had inherited both mine and his fathers temper and - " Don't say that!!!" he interrupted my thoughts. I sighed. He hates being compared to him.
Another thing about the twins-that caused more pain than Alice's name-they had a little gift.
People would say that since they are twins and have spent nine months cramped in the same space, they would develop a special bond, an awareness for each other. Like being able to guess the others thoughts.
Not my kids.
No, my kids were….telepathic: able to communicate mentally between themselves and anyone they wished to speak with. Or, they can just go eavesdrop on someone else's thoughts without them knowing. Sound familiar?
The difference is, if I concentrated-and I did this so often I may not even be limited to it anymore-then they could speak with me also. And they always extended the connection to me, so I can speak with them whenever I wanted to.
I guess that glitch in my brain has finally found an exception.
Alice pursed her lips and looked at her bowl, pretending not to have heard everything that had just passed through my mind. Owens glare softened and he stood up and came over to me, putting his arm protectively around me.
They both knew about my past, and they were both sympathetic. Especially when it came to how much they reminded me of my long ago-used to be-almost was family. I sighed as Owen guided me to the table.
" That's why you're not sleeping." he said, sitting me down.
" You walk down memory lane too much." Alice continued, hopping off the counter and started getting me a cup of coffee. I shook my head.
" No need for that. Embry's coming." I sighed as Alice dropped her bowl in the sink and dashed out of the kitchen and up the stairs. Owen chuckled.
" You're never going to get over it are you?" he asked.
" Well, it's a little difficult to think of my daughter eventually marrying a guy I knew when I was only one year older than her." Yes, you guessed it. Embry Call imprinted on my daughter. MY DAUGHTER!!!! There are only two good things about this.
1) When they were little, I didn't have to pay for babysitting. He was happy to volunteer.
2) Everyday he worried about me killing him so he proceeded to bring me my favorite Starbucks coffee to make me happy.
Other than that, it was a disaster.
Owen laughed at that and started emptying and loading the dishwasher. He was quiet, and I sensed that something was wrong.
Honey, anything you want to talk about? I asked him mentally, knowing it would be more comfortable for him that way. He sighed.
Are you okay with me being a…he trailed off and I immediately understood. Owen was a wolf, something he wasn't very proud of. That and he's already imprinted too (ha, rare my ass) on Angela's daughter, Grace. I stood up, walked over to him, and made him look at me. He faced me, but kept his eyes on the bowl in his hands.
Sweetie, I cannot imagine a life where you are not just the way you are. I thought sternly.
There is nothing wrong with being a wolf. Look at Embry, Sam, Paul, Seth, Leah, Jared, Collin, Brady, Quil…
But Mom…he was- I cut him off, I had to. I was not going to let this self-loathing (again, sound familiar) go on any longer.
You are not him……you are Owen, your sister is Alice, and I am Bella-AKA MOM. He laughed at this. This conversation sounded oddly familiar, but I pushed that thought away before he could catch it. We are who we are…who we choose to be, and he chose his path, and now you're choosing yours. But listen to me! I put my finger under his chin and forced him to look at me. Whatever path you choose, you will not end up like him-friendless, loveless, and alone. You'll always have us. Understand? He hesitated. Before nodding.
Thanks Mom. he said. I smiled and pulled him into my arms.
" Love you bunches Owen." I said, using the phrase he and Alice had grown fond of as toddlers. He laughed quietly in my ear and kissed my cheek.
" Love you bunches Mom.' he pulled away and I heard a click as the door opened.
Remind me to change the locks. I told Owen-who nodded his head slightly-as Embry walked through the door. The second he came into the kitchen, I knew something was up. His face was wary, determined, and a little scared? No, Embry doesn't get scared. But what he had in his hands didn't support that thought. Instead of just one cup of coffee, he had three plus a bag of donuts.
" Hey kid, I need to talk to you mom." he said in a careful voice-like he was trying to hide he emotions- to Owen. I just stared at him. His face was drawn with tiredness, like how they always looked after running all night.
" Em, whatever it is, you can in front of me." Owen said, stepping into protective mode. He wrapped his arm around my shoulders, and waited.
" Owen, sweetie," I don't like the look on Embry's face- " maybe I should talk to him-" What could've possibly happened? "alone." I managed to get out, but not louder than a whisper, not taking my eyes off of Embry. Embry nodded, and I could feel Owens, gaze on me, and could feel him trying to hear my thoughts, but I wouldn't let him in. I didn't want him to know how scared Embry's look was making me.
But eventually, I heard him sigh and he left the kitchen. Embry gestured to the table. I walked woodenly to a seat, never moving my eyes from him. He took out the coffees, pushed on to me-I didn't touch it-pulled one to himself, and left the third in the center with the donuts.
" Bella…" he hesitated. I waited, unable to do anything. Was I even breathing? I couldn't tell. " I have some news…" again he stopped.
" Good or bad?" I asked in a barely audible breath. His eyebrows crumpled in thought. The room started spinning in that one second that he was silent, every horrible possibility running through my mind.
" One is definitely bad, and the other could be either…" he said, not noticing my reaction. Again I waited for him to continued. Again, I didn't know whether my lungs were working. Again, the room was spinning. " Breathe, Bella." he commanded in a firm yet soft and understanding tone. I couldn't comply though. I tried to, but I just couldn't find my body.
I couldn't take bad news, there had been to many times in my life where bad news turned out to be horrible news and it involved turning Forks into a war zone. Turning my house into a war zone. Bad news threatened my family, my children, my friends. I didn't really care whether the bad news threatened my life, as long as my family, children, and friends were safe. But all together, bad news was not welcome in my life anymore.
I felt someone hitting my back, forcing me to breathe in shock. I blinked and looked around, seeing Owen right behind me. He sat in the chair beside me, grabbed my hand, and looked at Embry to continue. Embry waited a second, measuring me with his dark eyes, then he sighed and continued.
" Sam was running patrol," he or someone else always does, every night for the past six months, " and he came across a scent." I stopped breathing. All he said was he had come across a scent, but that could mean anything. " A bloodsucker." He meant it as a reassurance, he knew that I would think it was something else.
And he was right, I was reassured, for a second, and then I started hyperventilating. Again, it could mean anything. We've had a few vampires come in and out of Forks for the past eighteen years-that's how Owen changed. But he said bad, what would be bad news to me?
Only one thing, would be bad enough that Embry would want Owen out of the room. One thing would be enough to make Embry buy himself a cup of coffee, and me two cups. One thing.
" He didn't recognize the scent. He called for backup, and started following the trail. Then it branched out, more unrecognizable scents came, mixed and then left in different directions. All of us who came found that the scent we were following suddenly cut off in the middle of the woods." I couldn't open my mouth to speak, so I had Owen do it for me.
" How many scents did you come across?" he asked for me. Embry realized that it was my question, so he directed his answer to me.
Fifteen vampires. That could only mean one thing. A part of me wanted to laugh for being surprised that it's come to this. I wouldn't be surprised if you don't cross their minds for thirty years. I felt my heart rip open at the memory. But he'd been wrong. I wasn't thirty now, I was now thirty six. But that didn't matter now. I could not have fifteen natural vampires in Forks with my friends around, with my child in the pack, with my other child always close by them. I couldn't have them hunting me to my home, and have them in the same house as my children. I couldn't, especially if-
" So you didn't see any of them?" I choked out in a whisper. Embry shook his head. If Aro was here, he couldn't touch my children. If he knew that they were telepathic, and that Owen was a wolf, he'd try and take them from me. In the little time I knew Aro, I knew he would do this: because he was a collector. And his most prized possessions were his living pieces. I took a ragged breath. " What's the other news?" I needed good news now, or else I'd fall apart.
Embry sighed. " We came across, other scents."
That did it. I broke, but not in the way I'd thought.
I started laughing. And laughing hard. Embry and Owen were looking at me like I was crazy, but I didn't care. Hey, maybe I was going crazy, I had every right to. I was laughing so hard, I literally fell out of my chair. I was laughing so hard that I didn't notice the pain of falling onto a linoleum floor. I just kept laughing.
" Mom's finally lost it." Alice said, coming into the kitchen. I could hear from her voice that she was listening, but for once I didn't care. I just nodded my head, answering her question, and struggled to calm down.
I took a few fast breaths, and then was just laying there on the floor gasping for breath.
" Okay. I'm. Better." I said between gasps. They all looked at me like I was insane. " So you're telling me that there are-what twenty-two- vampires in Forks?" I asked Embry. He sighed and nodded his head. I giggled a little. And then tried to get up off the floor. Owen and Alice both had to help me up, and then they were left supporting me as they sat me back in my chair.
" Bella? Are you okay?" Embry asked me. I nodded, still giggling quietly.
" Are you sure? Because if this takes a while, they may have to communicate with the public." Meaning that if this takes a while, then they may have to start going to school and work.
" It won't take long." I said, shaking my head a little. Embry looked at me for a second, and then he sighed.
" Sam wants to call a meeting." he said. I turned to Owen, who looked like he was about to throw up at the thought.
" Embry." I called him, not looking away from my son. " If you find any unrecognizable scents, bring Owen home right away." I said, making Owen look at me. I blocked my mind. " And Owen, don't let anyone know what you and your sister can do." I said. He bit his lip and then nodded.
I knew that this was hard for him, he loved using his powers, he sometimes only talked mentally. Like at school he didn't talk at all, except with Alice and Grace mentally. I turned to Embry, who hadn't answered me, and waited until he nodded his head. I sighed in relief, that was one thing I didn't have to worry about. Owen and Embry stood up, gave both me and Alice a kiss on the cheek, and then they left.
" Be safe." I muttered as the door shut. And then, in the silence that enveloped the kitchen, I broke down again. This time in the way I'd imagined. Alice wrapped her arm around me and guided me away from the table and into the living room, sitting me on the couch and holding me as I sobbed.
I admit that maybe it wasn't the best thing to let my daughter see me like this, but…what else was I supposed to do? She rubbed my shoulders and started murmuring nonsense into my ear, trying to calm me down. But how could I?
Seriously, how could I calm down? I'd just found out that a coven of natural vampires were here, looking for me, possibly killing innocent humans during their stay, and there was nothing I could do about it. And, along with that, my ex family was here for who knows what reason.
A part of my mind screamed the impossibility of the situation. Why were they back now? Last time they left didn't they stay away from Forks for about seventy years? Why are they back after only eighteen? It didn't make any sense. Didn't they realize that Mike and Jessica, Angel and Ben, everyone we knew when we were in high school are still here? They can't go out in public without being recognized. I mean, the people at the hospital were still mourning over the loss of their most talented doctor. What were they thinking?
That was as far as I could get in my fretting before the hole consumed my chest and the sobs became uncontrollable. The last thing I remember before falling asleep was Alice kissing my forehead whispering, " It's going to be alright."