"It is over, young one."
I could hear a voice, a pleasant voice. And I heard the words he spoke, but I did not comprehend. What was over? My life? My existence? I felt as if I could not possibly exist anymore.
But somehow, I did.
I moved my hand slowly up to my face, only it wasn't slow. The moment I thought to touch my cheek, my hand was there. I gasped, sucking in a breath of air..and then gasped again. The burn that ran from my throat all the way to the core of my body overtook every thought in my head. It was torturous.
"You must be thirsty. We have meal for you in the next room, if you'd like to join us," the soothing voice said again.
Yes. God, yes. I needed a meal. I opened my eyes to look at the man who was speaking, offering to feed me. When I gazed into his ashy, frail face I had a clouded memory of him. He was Aro. That memory made others begin to fall into place; the Volturi, Italy, Vampires, the Cullens, and Renesmee.
Renesmee. That name drew the most memories from the annoying murky stream that was swimming in my mind. I knew I had done this for her. It angered me that I couldn't recall her face in perfect detail, because I knew it must be beautiful.
"Aren't you thirsty, young Owen?" Aro was speaking to me again, pulling me away from past memories.
"Yes," I croaked. Or at least I thought it should come out like a dry, cracking croak, instead my voice was beautiful and smooth.
In a blinding movement, I was standing next to Aro. I laughed a little at the strange feeling, and he chuckled along with me. I followed him through a small door directly into another room, which opened up into a huge circular chamber. It was ancient and foreboding with its stone walls and high windows, and I hoped this is where the meal would be, the burn in my throat was agonizing.
"That's him...great potential...Aro is thrilled...new guard member...great honor..."
I heard every whisper that was being said around the room, and every one of them confused me. I met a few of the red, probing eyes and wondered why I suddenly felt so ill at ease. But before I could become too uncomfortable, I caught the faint scent of something that overtook my senses completely. It was the most mouthwatering thing I'd ever smelled.
I immediately lowered into a crouch, preparing to spring as soon as the tantalizing thing walking through the door. A hulking figure in a deep gray cloak tried to approach me and I surprised myself my letting a vicious, feral snarl slide through my teeth. He growled back.
"Patience, Felix," Aro scolded the cloaked vampire. "Owen is brand new. Let him be so that we can watch what happens."
I was barely listening to Aro, all I could think of was the tantalizing smell...I listened to the shuffling footsteps, easily calculating how long it would take for them to enter the room.
"Galumph, galumph, galumph," I counted the heartbeats of my approaching dinner. In the back of my mind, I knew it was a human. I knew that I was about to murder a person...someone just as fragile and frightened as I had been a short time ago. I didn't care. My thirst was all consuming and had to satiated.
I didn't even have to think when he walked through the door. I just pounced, snapping his neck and glutting myself on the warm liquid. After I'd drained him and wiped the blood that was running down my face and bare chest, I took a step back and looked at what was left.
The burning in my throat was dull, a background thought compared to what was now taking over my brain. I'd killed the man in front of me and the shame was overwhelming. He wore a wedding ring on his left finger and had grass stains on his jeans...probably from playing a game with his children. Children who no long had a father because of me. I buried my head in my hands.
"What is the matter with him?" I heard one of the other ancients ask.
Aro sighed and turn to answer. "If I had to guess, I would say that the Cullen way of life has turned our young friend off to his true nature."
He was right. I knew there was a reason for the nagging feeling that I'd done something terribly wrong. My Renesmee and her family only drank the blood of animals because they valued human life. What would they think of me now?
"Owen, it is quite alright for you to partake of human blood. It is who you are. The Cullen's are an aberration and you should not feel as if you have to follow their way of life. You are here with us now."
As Aro spoke I could feel some unexplained, underlying feeling loyalty to him and this group of vampires. It did not feel genuine and I didn't care for it. I didn't want to feel loyal to this band of enforcers. I wondered what would become of them if they did not have this worshiping throng of followers who carried out their every wish and whim.
A beautiful female standing on the fringe of group gasped and began to back away.
"Chelsea?" Aro asked. "Will you come here please."
To the surprise of everyone in the room, she shook her head and continued to back away. What was even more surprising was that everyone else had a similar look of shock and discomfort on their faces.
Aro walked slowly to her and gestured for her to hold his hand. To this, she agreed.
"Mmmhum," he mumbled. "As I thought. Chelsea, dear, I would appreciate it if you would refrain from using your particular gift for the time being."
I was distracted and confused by this odd conversation.
"You will stay here with us though, won't you?" He asked her.
"Of course, master! Of course. I'm sorry, I don't know what came over me. It's as if he could..."
Aro cut her off then, looking around to the rest of the gathered vampires, who no longer looked uncomfortable- just confused. "And everyone else wishes to stay as well?"
"Of course, Master," they answered.
The ancient vampire named Caius looked furious. "What was all that about, Aro?"
"It was what we discussed before, brother. Be calm and patient, and it will eventually work in our favor."
He looked neither calm nor patient, but didn't speak again.
Aro addressed me then, "We realize that you have some issues with our lifestyle, Owen, but in time I think you will come to realize that this is the way it should be. You are free to leave at any time...after you are able to control your urges around humans. We cannot have you feeding in our city, you see. In a few months, we will determine if you are prepared to go."
A few months?! I would have to be here for months?!
This was the first inkling I had that something was terribly wrong.
"Please get out of bed, love. Please. It hurts us to see you this way."
I was tired of hearing my father plead with me. I couldn't help how I felt, and I felt like all I wanted to do was lay in bed and not think.
"I'm worried about you, sweetheart."
"Don't be," I mumbled. "Worrying about me is a waste, there are bigger things for you to worry about."
"Nothing is more important than you," Jake said from the the doorway.
I sighed. He would say that.
"Alice doesn't see them coming for almost 4 months, Ness. That's plenty of time to think of a plan."
"He's right... on both counts," my father agreed.
"Please just let me wallow a little. I'm sad for Owen, okay? He's one of them now, and it hurts. Just let me come to terms with that."
"If that's what you need," Dad sighed as he got up to leave. "Stay with her Jake."
Jake closed the door after my father walked out. "Do you want me to stay?"
He smiled and came to curl up next to me, putting his hand on my fluttering heart. "I'll never let anyone hurt this."
I ignored him. "I should have been there. I should have tried to stop him myself...or at least let the Voturi have me since I was the one who told. Then they'd have no reason to harm the rest of you."
I could tell Jake was getting angry. I'd told him all of this many times before, and every time he dismissed my feelings on the matter.
"Let's talk about something else," he said. "We're not getting anywhere new with this conversation."
"Will you be ready to go back to school in a few weeks?" He changed the subject.
I groaned and covered my face with my pillow. "No! I don't see why we have to."
"It's suspicious enough that all of us- Owen included- disappeared after Thanksgiving break. Everyone knows he's gone back overseas, and the Mono excuse can only work for us for so long...Wren and Rory have been calling everyday. Alice thinks we can only draw it out through the end of Christmas break."
"If that's what we have to do I guess." I was feeling sulkier than normal now.
Jake pulled back to look at me. "Do you want to know what I think."
"Not particularly, but I'm sure you'll tell me anyway."
He snorted and did just as I thought he would. "I think that in a week or two you should have the group over. It's long enough that we won't be 'contagious' anymore, and you need to see them. Wren especially. You need some girl time."
He wasn't totally wrong. I was dying to talk with someone outside of the family- especially about the breakup with Owen...and subsequent hookup with Jake. Wren could probably provide some much needed perspective, even if she didn't know the whole story.
"That's not a bad idea. I'll think about it."
He grinned at me, clearly smug that I didn't immediately shoot down his suggestion. I smiled just a little and scooted myself into his chest, pulling his shirt over his head as I did.
"Now?" he teased. "But your parents are home!"
"Behave!" I hissed and then giggled as he started nuzzling and kissing my neck. It amazed me how quickly he was able to lift my spirits. He had almost made me forget about the reason for my melancholy. Almost.
I sighed heavily, slipping back into my funk. Jake stuck out his bottom lip and pouted at me. I ignored him and closed my eyes, I had a lot to think about. So that's what I did as I drifted to sleep.
An immeasurable moment of time later, I woke up with Jake pressing my hand into his face. He was on the verge of sleep, with a silly smile playing around the edges of his full lips.
"What are you thinking about?" I asked him softly.
"You and your dreams." His smile grew until it was a sparkling grin.
"Were they good?"
"Very." He paused to look at me and there was so much love in his eyes that it was nearly overwhelming. "You want to get married."
"WHAT?!" I bolted upright and glared at him incredulously. "That's insane."
"Why? You know we will someday, and we might only have limited time left. Don't you want to experience it before...well...just in case?"
"You really think four months is all we have left." It wasn't a question. I was surprised that he was letting the confident mask slip to tell me this. All I'd heard from him for the last several days was how we'd get out of this scrape, and now he was admitting that he wasn't so sure. It broke my heart.
That did change things. If he was no more confident than me about escaping the Volturi for the second time, could we delay anything? Including...marriage? I didn't have the same issues with matrimony that my mother supposedly had, but I wasn't planning on having to confront the issue for many, many years. But, apparently my subconscious had dredged up the idea in the first place. With all this talking and thinking about the subject, I was shocked that my father wasn't up here giving us his two cents...which I'm sure would go something like 'over my dead body'.
Jake must have seen the conflict that was taking place inside my head, so he held me to him and whispered in my ear, "Don't do anything you aren't ready to do. I'm yours no matter what. But just...give it some thought."
"I will," I promised, and then after a minute added, "Do you want to go hunt?"
"Really? You want to get out of bed?" He asked.
"Yeah...I think I'm ready."
NOTE: I'm back!!! yay! I should be updating this pretty regularly now that summer is here (finally)! Thanks so much for coming back to read this after such a long wait. In other news, I'm part of a blog (there's a link on my profile) and we have a fanfan section which needs some recommendations, so come check it out and send me some comments/suggestions!