A tear in the membrane
Allows the voices in
They wanna push you off the path
With little frequency wiring
But you can do no wrong
In my eyes
Hearing Damage - Thom Yorke
"Jasper?" Bella asked, frowning."Why would they be coming for you, Jasper?"
"It's a long story, one I don't like to relive. The memories of my actions in those days will always haunt me. To cut a very, very long story short, Maria is my maker,"
Alice growled, the sound deep and guttural. Jasper took hold of her hand and she breathed deeply as she tried to control herself. It was so very rare to see Alice as anything other than happy.
"Where do we come into this?" Sam asked and Jasper turned toward the shapeshifter.
"To put it in simple terms, we need your help. They will go after everyone who has a connection to me and my family, including you and the tribe. No one is safe. Therefore, I think it would be best if we worked together. Maria has no regard for human life and would be content to turn the entire town into newborns."
"Our tribe is different, more skilled now that we have the knowledge of what it is like to fight the newborns. We have the experience to assist you, and the drive to protect the town," Sam said, nodding at Jasper. "Although, this Maria underestimates the numbers we have."
"That is true, and as far as I know, Maria has no knowledge of shapeshifters. Of course there are others around the US, but your kind tends to keep themselves low key. Your tribe's unique knowledge of vampires is something that will give you the upper hand with Maria. She's more than ruthless; she is an egomaniac and the thing that excites her most is power."
Jacob sighed and ran his hand through his hair. It was an action I'd seen Edward do many a time, and I knew he was thinking about what would happen if we lost to Maria. What would happen to us? To our family? To Gabriel? My stomach clenched at the thought of my son getting hurt. I would have sooner died a thousand deaths than let that happen.
"We won't be alone on this. We have extended family in Alaska and in many continents all over the world. We can build an army to rival theirs and we will win," Carlisle said, determination filling his voice. "We have been enemies for far too long. It's time to set aside our differences and start afresh."
"Hear, hear," Billy agreed, reaching to shake Carlisle's hand. "We must meet, all of us, to devise a plan. The training that Jasper taught our tribe is still fresh in their minds. However, we must be prepared for the unexpected."
"You have my word, sir," Jasper said, shaking Billy's hand. "Shall we meet tomorrow, at midday? Alice is unsure of the period of time we have, so I'd like to get started right away."
I took Gabriel from Bella and settled him onto my chest. His soothing, subtle freesia scent calmed me. The thought of anything happening to him made me feel psychically ill. I was man enough to admit that it made my eyes burn with tears I would never be able to shed. This little guy was our world.I knew she would kill for him as much as I would.
The wolf pack left shortly after agreeing to meet tomorrow, but the sinking feeling in my gut just wouldn't go away. I was facing death again, so soon after losing Rose, and after finding myself again with Bella. Life was cruel.
Why couldn't I ever catch a break?
We convened as a family in the living room. Jasper was quiet as Alice and he sat together. I wanted to comfort them, but the hummingbird heartbeat in my arms reminded me that I had someone else to fight for. That strange choking feeling crept upon me as Bella leaned into my side and rested her hand on my leg.
Esme and Carlisle's fingers were intertwined and for the first time, I could see the fear on both their faces.
What if we didn't make it?
"We will," Edward said. "We will make it. There is no sense in thinking that we won't. We have the power to overthrow Maria, and with the wolf pack's help, the odds are in our favor."
"Maria has Aro," Ilene spoke, from her seat near the window. "Aro has Jane and Alec. I can bend Aro's will, but Jane can cut me down in a second. You don't know how many people they have manipulated into taking part in their sick little schemes."
Alice froze, her eyes glazing over. Edward was at her side instantly. "I don't believe it. He never leaves the tower."
"Who?" Carlisle asked. "Who is coming?"
"Marcus," Alice said, her voice distant. Edward was focused on her thoughts. "Marcus knows about Aro's plan, and he's not happy. He's coming here with Felix and Demetri. We have a matter of hours."
"Hours?" Ilene gasped. "Is he even on our side?"
Edward shushed her and encouraged Alice to continue.
"Maria and Aro haven't been discreet. Jane discovered their plans by accident. They want Jasper, and Edward and anyone else with power," Alice said, blinking. "You need to take Gabriel away for the next 12 hours. Marcus is going to arrive before sunset."
"That gives us a mere few hours," Bella mumbled. "Maybe I could take him to see Charlie?"
Alice shook her head. "Marcus needs to see that you've been changed, and we can't risk him seeing Gabriel. We cannot allow him to think we've created an immortal child."
"We can't take him to Alaska. Tanya and her sisters cannot know of his existence until the time is right. The best idea for his safety is to allow Esme and I to take him to the Quileute's. If we explain to Billy, he may allow Gabriel to stay there for a few hours until Marcus takes his leave." Carlisle spoke.
I couldn't help but be reminded of the time we'd sat around last time, plotting, planning. We'd been so convinced that we were going to be fine, that everything was going to work in our favor. Even Edward, distracted as he'd known Bella was just a few miles away, had been certain that victory was ours.
That same sinking feeling that I felt then, was back. I couldn't even begin to fathom what I would do if my world was ripped wide open again. I couldn't imagine the kind of pain I was destined for if my heart, Bella, and my soul, Gabriel, were stolen from me. They were all I'd ever wanted and would ever need in this life. Without them, I had no reason for living.
I knew Rosalie was meant for greater things than I. I knew she was meant to be a mother, so loving and caring, her skin soft and full of life. She was my angel, and I knew she loved me, but she wanted a human life more. She'd been at peace when she was burning, and I knew that regardless of how I'd fought to save her, she'd wanted to go. I finally knew she was happy wherever she was.
My life had taken a drastic turn for the second time. But, I knew it was fate. Rosalie had dreamed of us living a life together, human, with grandchildren on our knees and grey hair. I would have been content with that, to watch Rose blossom with our child growing inside her. Although, the honest truth of it was that I'd never wished to be anything other than what I was. I liked what I had become and I thanked God every day that Carlisle had changed me.
Maybe God was rewarding me for suffering through Rose's death by sending me Bella and our son. Maybe, this time round, I would be victorious. This time, God would side with me.
"Are you worried?" Bella murmured as Gabriel slept on my chest. Her fingers brushed his obsidian curls softly.
"Yes," I said, honestly. "Last time this happened, Rosalie died. I can't even begin to think about how insane I would become if anything happened to you."
Her red eyes were pained as she threaded her fingers through mine. She laid her head on my shoulder and I closed my eyes and just felt her there with me.
"I love you," she whispered and I squeezed her hand.
She would always be my world.
Alice was sitting in a love seat near the front door when a sleek, black Jaguar pulled into our drive way. Gabriel had left with Esme and Carlisle over two hours ago after an upsetting goodbye from Bella. He had cried for me and his mother as Esme had carried him away and into his grandfathers's Mercedes.
Ilene and Edward were stood by the fireplace, foreheads touching. They said nothing as he held her. I'd noticed Bella watching them curiously as Edward held Ilene's all sat around, just waiting for our fate to glide up the drive way. Minutes ticked by so slowly.
"It's time," Alice announced as Demetri exited the car first, Felix following. They stood either side of Marcus as they walked forward toward the door. Alice opened it, and greeted them graciously as they walked into our home.
He smiled at Edward and nodded his head at Ilene, no doubt familiar with her after her stay with the Volturi decades ago. He settled in a chair usually favored by Carlisle. Felix and Demetri stood behind the chair, their stance tense.
"There is no need for the hostility, Demetri," Marcus sighed. "We are amongst friends."
"No disrespect, Marcus, but why are you here?" Ilene asked, bluntly. "We know you know of Aro's plans, so excuse me if I'm a little testy."
Marcus laughed. The sound was wheezy, like an old man's smoker cough. "Always blunt, Ms. Benefice, but you are quite right. Aro does not know I have come here, although I have no doubt he will try to follow where we have come."
"Be careful what you say, sire," Felix said, eyeing Alice warily. "We are in the presence of not only a mind reader, but a psychic too."
"The Cullens seek not to harm me, young Felix. Quite the opposite actually. Tell me, young ones, have you ever heard the story of my wife, Didyme?"
"No," Edward said, respectfully. "Would you care to tell us?"
"Of course," Marcus said. "My wife possessed a gift; not like your coven's talents, although it bore a resemblance to your empath. You see, my Didyme was like a rare ray of sunshine, she was constant in her demeanor and everybody adored her, I more than most, of course. But, her brother, whom most of you know as Aro, did not like my adoration, and he hid it well. He felt like she was his property because he had changed her for his own selfish gains. Didyme and I married and had many happy years together, and were on the cusp of leaving Volterra to discover what treasures Planet Earth held. My wife could charm the birds from the trees and the moon from the stars. Aro was disappointed that she possessed no stronger a gift than happiness. She projected it wherever she went, spreading her joy and love to all who encountered her.
"Back in the days before we became idle and greedy, we hunted for ourselves. We treated human life like it was of no importance, and we gorged ourselves nightly on the citizens of Volterra. I returned one night, no different than the last, to find Aro beside himself with grief. He told me that my Didyme had been torn apart and burned. I, being as headstrong as an ox, refused to believe it until I saw it with my own eyes. Alas, Aro wasn't withholding the truth and Didyme was dead. I believed she had been taken from me for reasons unknown but I never suspected the one person whom I know now I should have. Of course, now, I know the truth. Aro killed my Didyme, his own kin, because he feared the dissolution of the Volturi without me. I am gifted like Aro, like Alice, like you, Edward. My talent is to see bonds between souls."
"You have each of our deepest sympathies. Each of us have known loss," Edward replied. "Emmett himself lost his wife in a vicious battle with a newborn army."
"My condolences," Marcus said, with a bow of his head. "I see you have now found your true soul mate."
I liked this guy. Something about him was honest, and I felt a connection to him. He knew love, grief and loss.
"We must get down to business," Marcus said, finally. "You will have hopefully seen that Aro and Maria are planning an attack on your coven to capture your empath and potentially those of you who possess talents. You have an ally in me, and Jane, surprisingly. Aro uses her as his lapdog and Jane has grown weary of it and where Jane goes, Alec will follow. Caius is tempestuous, and only cares if he and Athendora make it out alive."
Demetri and Felix looked uncomfortable as they listened to their master reveal terrible truths about the Volturi, but part of me believed that they knew a lot more than they were willing to let on about Aro. They were fiercely loyal to their masters, so the idea of betrayal must have seemed world shaking to them.
"I am not returning to Volterra," Marcus spoke as Demetri and Felix voiced their outrage. "I cannot face Aro knowing what he has done to me any longer. I must leave until I am needed here. Aro and Maria planned to ambush you one month from today and you must be prepared. Felix and Demetri must remain here for your safety."
"But are you prepared to fight against Aro?" Jasper asked Felix.
"If we have been betrayed, we must fight to protect those who remain loyal," Felix said. "Aro has betrayed us, so we must."
"Blimey." Demetri blew out an unnecessary breath. "So, we're going to war?"
"We have been set in our ways for far too long because we thought ourselves the best. We are not civilized, no matter how much we think we are. If there is any lesson I have learned from Aro's betrayal is that we have too much power," Marcus stood, and I noticed that he was no longer wearing the Volturi dress robes I'd last seen him in. "Congratulations on your change, Isabella. I dare say we shall see each other very soon, but for now, I shall take my leave. I will be here for the fight and wish you the greatest of luck in your preparation."
Marcus left unaccompanied. Demetri and Felix lingered awkwardly as we all looked at each other, unsure of what to say. Alice was buzzing in her seat, plans forming in her mind. I was still taken aback. We had the support of three of the Volturi's highly prized guards, including one third of the most powerful vampire coven leaders of our race.
The only thing that left me worried now was Gabriel. How were we going to hide his existence with two Volturi guards here? Marcus had left them here to protect us, which I'm sure we all appreciated, but how could we go about our business without alerting them to my son's presence.
"You'll have to tell them," Edward murmured, as he looked at me. "It's the only way."
"May I?" Demetri asked as he motioned to the sofa. Bella nodded and he sat down and sighed, a smile breaking through. Edward got up and flipped open his cell phone, walking out of the room. I could only presume he was calling Carlisle to relay Marcus's information. Felix still stood stoic behind the chair. "Felix, man, sit down. We're not going anywhere,"
Felix moved and sat next to Demetri. "This situation worries me. Aro has been our figurehead for decades, to have him turn on us like this is devastating. My only consolation is that we have Jane onside. This should be an easy fight between the twelve of us, counting your coven leader and his mate."
"We have more than that," I said, grinning. "You don't think we're defenseless do you?"
Demetri rubbed his hands together. "Now this is more like it!"