I stifled a grunt as Demetri shoved me into the streets of Volterra, out of the safety of the shadows. Spinning around, I cast him a spiteful look.
"What do you need, sir?" I demanded bitterly, in a tone sprinkled with mocking worship. Demetri contemplated my question for one tenth of a second, not picking up on my sarcasm.
"Aro has a larger appetite than last time," he replied, as if this answer was adequate. I narrowed my eyes.
"More like a larger appetite for power," I pointed out, brushing dirt off of my red turtleneck. Demetri stiffened immediately, glancing behind him into the basement of the manor. When he turned back to me, his expression was reproachful.
"You must watch what you say, Miss Heidi," he murmured, in a voice too low for human ears. "Until you prove your allegiance, your life is worth no more than a human's. You are easily replaceable, my dear." I grimaced, rolling my shoulders back and pursing my already large lips.
"Aro needs me," I snapped defensively. "My beauty is the reason that you have something to sustain you every evening." Demetri frowned, shaking his head regretfully.
"Beauty is not a special gift, my lady," he reminded me for the umpteenth time. "I'm afraid that we have all been bestowed with alluring appearances. Marcus would have no trouble finding somebody else to attract the humans." I tossed my luscious mahogany hair over my shoulder and widened my hypnotic eyes.
"But Aro wants me," I pointed out, turning on my heels. "And I do it best." I did not give Demetri a chance to respond. With a confidant strut, I immersed myself into the crowded street.
My arrival always had a similar effect to that of a siren. Those closest to me were the first to stare, and then the others caught on. It was their eyes that drove me to keep doing what I do. They were all so vulnerable, so easily attracted. Just one deep gaze into them and that human would do whatever I told them.
I took my routine place at the foot of the statue of St. Marcus and raised my sweater-covered arm into the air.
"Tour of Volterra!" I announced, leaning against the marble statue in a way that no modest woman would. A young couple glanced my way, clearly finding what they were looking for. Glancing at the man, I straightened my torso and pushed my hip slightly to the right.
"Tour of Volterra?" the woman asked warily, as if hoping that I would say no. Her eyes were on her husband as she spoke. Unfortunately for her, so were mine.
"Yes, with access to places that most people never have the opportunity to see," I added, throwing in a wink for serendipity. The man shuddered, dropping his wife's hand impulsively. I laughed, placing my hand on my hip and smirking. The woman frowned, widening her innocent brown eyes.
A small group had formed, creating a semi-circle around me.
"Good afternoon," one balding man offered, holding out his hand. I could practically feel the ecstasy emanating off of his clammy skin. I glanced at his teenage daughter, who rolled her eyes and became extremely captivated by her cuticles.
"Good afternoon," I replied, shaking the man's hand fluidly. "Shall we start with the underground tunnels?" Like always, the majority of the group was in mutual agreement, as if they would do anything as long as I was their guide.
It was severely frustrating to walk so slowly, so I pictured Aro's reaction when I returned with our quarry. One day he would recognize my power… One day he would offer me a higher status, like the one that I knew I deserved.
"Est is tutus?" a small voice shrieked, forcing me to spin around. I found the source of the voice immediately; a petite brunette with basset hound eyes who was clutching the rosary close to her chest. I blinked, taken aback by her question. Is this safe? Wasn't Latin supposed to be a dying language? Play innocent, Heidi, I thought to myself.
"I'm sorry, ma'am," I replied, furrowing my brow. "I don't understand Latin." The woman shook her head ardently, like a dog ridding its ears of water.
"Vos operor agnosco," she hissed, shaking her rosary in my face. I glanced around at the other members of the tour, laughing as if I thought that woman was insane. You do understand.
Shaken by the woman's declaration, I was relieved when I arrived at the entrance to the Volterra Underground.
"You may follow me," I announced, descending the staircase as my mahogany hair flew behind me.
I smelled it immediately. It was strangely floral, with hints of freesia and cherry blossom. I stiffened, stepping aside as the group filed in. In the dim passageway, I could see her. I could see them.
She was pale, but with a human tint to her cheeks. I suppose she may have been somewhat appealing for a human, but she definitely would not have stuck out in my mind. What made her memorable was her position. She was entwined in the boy, completely hidden behind the Cullen boy's lean figure. I could hear Jane whispering with Alec, and I picked up on the situation at once. Ah. Bella.
Demetri was the first to sense my presence. He was in front of me in a second, holding his arms out to welcome me into his embrace.
"Welcome home, Heidi," he declared, grinning widely to reveal his gleaming teeth.
"Demetri," I recited, like every night. Demetri's hug was short and frantic; there were more important matters on his mind.
"Nice fishing," he offered, casting me an impressive smirk. I placed my hand on my hip, glancing back at the quarry. It was nice, wasn't it?
"Thanks," I replied, smiling genuinely. When it came to the cold-hearted Demetri, compliments were far and rare. I playfully placed my hand on the Latin-speaking woman's shoulder, directing her towards the chamber to the left. Demetri hovered several steps behind, peaking my curiosity.
"Aren't you coming?" I inquired, glancing towards a young scholar in the back whose almond and honey smell would certainly appeal to Demetri's mature taste.
"In a minute," Demetri replied, winking, "Save a few for me." The Latin woman writhed from under my guest, staring desperately at the strange human girl in the Cullen boy's arms.
"Succurro mihi!" she cried, tears streaming down her cheeks. I let out a short laugh, shaking my head at Edward. Help me!
"I always do," I muttered, answering both the woman and Demetri's questions. With that, I cast the human girl one bewildered look and slammed the iron door. I barely caught a glimpse of her face as she buried it into Edward's chest, her body trembling violently. That right there was the real reason that I enjoyed humans. They were so… compelling.