Disclaimer: None of the characters are mine. They belong to Stephenie Meyer.
A/N: Sorry for the really long wait, guys! Seeing the midnight showing of Eclipse inspired me, so here is the next chapter. Thank you for your patience! I'm hoping the next chapter will be up soon! Enjoy!
Chapter 19- Family Reunion
My face paled as I looked at my shredded, blood-stained hoodie, and I instantly felt my head beginning to spin. Jasper looked down at me and tightened his hold on my shoulders, gently sitting me down on the bed as Emmett silently climbed in through the window. Once he made sure that I was all right, Jasper turned his attention to my brother and carefully took the remains of my beloved hoodie to inspect it.
"Victoria's scent is definitely on here," he muttered. Then, he quickly sniffed one of the areas that contained the ominous dark substance. "The blood is animal. Bear I believe..."
"Well, no matter what it is, I think it's sending a very clear message," Emmet muttered grimly, his golden eyes moving to me with concern.
Yes, the message was clear all right. That's what Victoria and her army of newborns were planning on doing to me. But if that was the case, then it was still possible that I could save Japer from suffering the fate that I had seen.
Jasper suddenly looked over at me, probably able to sense my conflicting feelings. I looked back up at him, determined not to let him know what I was thinking about. I didn't want him to worry about me doing anything crazy when he was already concerned about my safety.
Before he could say anything, he reached into his pocket and pulled out his small, silver phone. It must have been ringing though I couldn't hear it because he immediately flipped it open and brought it to his ear. "Hello?"
I watched his face closely, and I felt nervous when I saw his gaze falter. "You didn't tell them anything, did you?" he asked quietly. There was a short pause before he sighed with what I assumed was relief. "No, of course not. I was just making sure... Thank you for the information. We'll be careful. You too. Let me know if you see anything else. Bye."
"Who was that?" Emmett wondered as Jasper flipped the small phone closed and put it back in his pocket.
"Heather," Jasper muttered, and I felt a knot begin to form in my stomach.
"A vampire friend of Jazz's in Seattle," I told him before turning back to Jasper. "What did she say?"
BUt Jasper ignored me. "Emmett, where did you find Alice's hoodie?" he asked, holding it up for emphasis.
"We found it this morning," Emmett answered. "It was on the side of the house, shoved between a couple of rose bushes. We assume that the newborns left it there last night."
Jasper sighed. "All right. Even though you found it there, Heather-!"
"What did she say, Jazz?" I interrupted. The fact that he wasn't answering me was making the knot in my stomach get tighter.
After a moment, Jasper slowly turned to look at me. "She told me that two newborns were in her store last night," he said quietly. "She thought they were from Victoria's army because they asked about you." My face paled again as the pesky knot in my stomach started to get painful.
"If Victoria had been with them, they would have gotten you in Seattle last night," Jasper concluded grimly.
Emmett suddenly cursed loudly, and I looked over at him shakily. They had almost found me... it had been so close... "Could they track her here, Jazz?" he asked, and I could clearly see his anger. "Could they come to the house?"
"It's possible," Jasper muttered thoughtfully. "Maybe we should bring her to the house we're staying at for tonight. That would be safer since there's more of us.."
"No!" I suddenly said, and Jasper looked at me with surprise. "I'm not going to leave my grandmother here alone in case some newborns come for me."
Jasper looked torn. "Alice..."
"I'm not leaving her here, Jazz!" My ferocity surprised even me. But I knew I wasn't going to let my grandmother die because of me.
"She's right, Jazz," Emmett said quietly. "Besides, she's my grandmother too. I'll stay here and make sure she's safe. We'll keep in touch through phone. I"ll let you know if anything happens."
Jasper sighed, and I tried to give him an encouraging smile. I felt better knowing that Emmett would be here to watch over our grandmother, but I couldn't possibly imagine what Jasper was going through. He hid his fear and worry very well. I bet that had come from his time in both the Confederate army and Maria's newborn one.
"All right. That would probably be best," Jasper finally muttered. "We'll keep Alice at our house for a couple nights to see if any newborns come here. If not, it should be safe to bring her back."
Emmett grinned. "Don't forget that Al has school tomorrow, Jazz," he told him. "You should probably bring her back in the morning before Grandma wakes up too."
Despite himself, Jasper turned to me with a slight smile. "We're going to be up pretty late," he informed me. "Will you be all right at school tomorrow?"
I smiled back up at him as I got to my feet. "Don't worry about me," I replied. "It wouldn't be the first time I pulled an all-nighter on a school night."
I sat in the passenger seat of Jasper's Volvo silently, watching as he drove far away from the city of Forks. It was an awkward car ride to say the least since we weren't really talking after the incident of their departure and now sudden reappearance, but I felt that I couldn't stay angry with Jasper. Though they had been away, he had often snuck back to see me and make sure I was all right. That combined with my worry for him because of Victoria's plans, I found that anger was pretty low on my list.
Though I didn't realize it, I must have dozed off at some point while he was driving because I was suddenly woken by a cold hand gently touching my cheek. "We're here, Alice," Jasper said quietly, a small smile appearing on his face as I sleepily looked back at him.
FIghting back a yawn, I looked around the area, and I saw that we were in front of a smaller house than the one they had in Forks, but it was still surrounded by dense trees. Since it was so secluded and out of the way, it was perfect for a family of vampires. But I couldn't wait until they moved back into their own house. They would be much closer then.
"Are you ready to go inside?" Jasper asked.
Was I? It had been months since I had last sen any of the Cullens, and now, I was about to be reunited with them all. But after long deliberation, I knew that it was going to be good to see them again.
I slowly nodded, and Jasper immediately climbed out of the car and came to my door and opened it for me. I stepped out, giving him a smile as he wrapped his larger hand around mine and began to lead me up to the house. I was almost holding my breath I was so nervous. It felt like I was meeting his family for the first time in my life.
"Now, I understand that you are probably angry with us for leaving so suddenly, but please try to understand that we were only trying to protect you," Jasper muttered as we walked through the low-hanging branches. "We thought we were working in your best interest, but we were wrong."
"I know, Jazz." That was all I could really say since that was all that was needed. Everything else had already been said.
Jasper sighed as he stood on the porch for a long moment, almost seeming to have an internal debate of whether or not we should go inside. Finally, he reached forward and pushed down on the door handle, allowing the door to slowly swing open. Tightening his hand slightly around mine, Jasper stepped inside, pulling me in after him as the door closed again behind me.
The Cullens, sans Emmett, were all sitting in the small living room, waiting for us. Bella sat on a chair with Edward, both looking at me with regret. Rosalie sat in a chair across from them, not even able to meet my gaze. Esme and Carlisle sat on the couch next to her, Esme looking at me with concern while Carlisle wore no expression on his handsome face, his eyes unusually blank.
This was the family that I had longed to see.
"Hi," I muttered awkwardly as I looked at each of their faces.
Before I could react, I gasped with surprise when a pair of cold arms suddenly wrapped around me. "We're so sorry, Alice," Bella said, regret laced in her tone.
"I know. It's okay," I tried to assure her, wrapping my arms tightly around the girl I considered to be my sister. "I understand." Then, I smiled at Edward as he came up to us and placed his hand on my arm.
"You really are too gracious, Alice," Rosalie muttered as she hugged me too.
"I'm just glad you guys are back," I replied before I was wrapped up in the arms of Esme.
"Well, we're glad that you're okay," Carlisle countered, hugging me quickly before glancing at Jasper. "With these other vampires around..."
"They're after me and Jasper." I was grateful when Jasper's hand tightened around mine.
Carlisle's face darkened. "I know. That's why we're here."
Then, Jasper released my hand as he reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone. "Hello?" There was a long moment of silence as he listened to whoever had called, and though his expression didn't change, his eyes flickered. "Okay, I'll be right there."
"What's going on?" I asked with concern.
Jasper sighed. "Emmett is catching scents of a couple vampires near your house," he answered quietly, and I felt my anxiety spike. "I'm going to check it out." His eyes then moved to the rest of the family. "Stay with Alice."
"Wait!" But I sighed to myself when Jasper turned and hurried out the door.
I knew taking my car would be too risky, so I made my way back to Alice's house by foot. I found Emmett in the backyard, staring into the dense trees intently. "Thanks for calling," I told him quietly as I stopped next to him.
Emmett nodded once. "I'm only picking up two scents, so I could handle them on my own," he replied. "But I thought you should be aware of what's going on."
"I'm glad you told me." My eyes narrowed slightly as a quiet growl escaped from my throat. "You never know what to expect with newborns."
As soon as the words left my mouth, two figures stepped out of the trees and began to walk toward us. Emmett tensed beside me, but I put my hand on his arm in a restraining way as they approached. One was a man with blond hair, the other a younger girl with black hair that fell to her shoulders. But both of their eyes were crimson.
"What do you want?" I asked once they stopped in front of us.
The man looked at me closely, the bloodlust clear in his eyes. "You carry her scent." Before I realized what was happening, he was standing directly in front of me, a dark smirk on his face. "Where is the girl?" Emmett growled threateningly from beside me.
"You're not going to find her," I told him calmly. He was a newborn that was clearly working for Victoria. There was no use losing my temper.
"Oh, won't I?" the man snarled angrily. "Then why don't I start by breaking your neck? It'll be the same thing I do to that pretty little girl-!"
Suddenly, Emmett lunged forward and tackled the other vampire away from me, both of them landing some distance away. "Emmett!" I snapped, watching as they began to fight with each other. "Enough!"
"Riley!" the girl still with me screamed. I sensed that she wanted to go check on her friend, but I reached out and grabbed her neck before she could, forcing her to face me.
"What is your name, girl?" I asked quietly, a slight growl in my tone.
The girl looked up at me with wide, crimson eyes, her panic hitting me in waves. "Bree..." she answered, her voice shaking. "Please, just let me go... Don't kill me... Please..."
My gaze faltered, and I sighed as I slowly removed my hand. "You're looking for someone?" I pressed.
Bree nodded quickly, and I could sense her fear of me, but also a bit of curiosity because my eyes were a different color than hers. She possessed the abilities of a newborn, but something told me that she was hesitant to use them. "Yes... the girl... Alice is her name."
"And you've been tracking her scent?"
"Yes." Bree nodded again, not able to meet my gaze. "Her scent led us here from Seattle..."
My eyes narrowed slightly, knowing that it would only be a matter of time before they found her at our house. "Who created you?" I wondered gently, deciding to try a different tactic.
Bree seemed to be caught off guard by my tone. "Riley," she told me.
"And who created Riley?" I was sure I knew, but I wanted her to confirm it.
But before Bree could answer, I quickly looked up when I heard someone approaching me, but I was too late when Riley grabbed my neck, his momentum slamming me into the nearest tree. He got close to my face again as I tried to struggle out of his grasp, which was a bit difficult since he still possessed newborn strength.
"It will only be a matter of time before we find Alice," he whispered to me. "You can't hide her forever." Then he released me and went back to Bree. "Let's go."
I watched as Riley disappeared back into the trees, but Bree stayed behind and looked back at me for a moment before she too disappeared. I took a deep, unneeded breath as I stepped away from the tree as Emmett hurried over to me.
"Should we go after them?" I asked.
"No. They'll be too far ahead to catch up to now," I muttered, though I would have loved to get my hands on Riley for threatening Alice. "But at least we have their scent. We should get back to the house. Check on Alice. She's probably worried sick."
When Emmett and I opened the door of the house, I expected Alice to run to greet us, asking if we were all right. Instead, I found her asleep on the couch, her expression one of peace.
"She tried waiting up for you," Esme said quietly as she gave me a quick hug. "But the poor girl is just exhausted."
"I'm glad she's getting some sleep." I knelt down next to the couch, carefully running my fingers through her hair.
Then, I looked up when Edward entered the room. "How's Grandma, Emmett?" he asked.
"Fine, Ed," Emmett answered. "But I'm probably gonna' head back to patrol the area, just to make sure. I just wanted to check on Al."
"Bella and I could go," Edward offered as his girlfriend joined him. "Besides, Rosalie wants to go hunting with you."
Emmett raised an eyebrow. "Okay, yeah, you and Bella watch after Grandma," he replied. "I'll uh... I'll go hunting with Rose."
"Have fun," Edward muttered with a smirk, laughing when Emmett gave him the finger as he left the room. I shook my head and smiled as I watched them. At least they could still have some fun.
Edward then stepped outside so he could go back to his old house to keep an eye on his grandmother in case the newborns came back, but Bella stayed behind for a moment. She came over to the couch and wrapped her arms around me in a hug.
"Alice is going to be just fine, Jazz," she assured me in a whisper.
I smiled at her as she let go. "Thanks, Bells," I muttered.
Bella smiled back at me as she squeezed my hand before she got back to her feet. Then, she hurried out the door after Edward. I glanced behind me when I felt a gentle hand on my shoulder, finding myself looking up into the smiling face of Esme.
"Have a good night, Jasper," she said quietly.
"You too." I watched as Esme left the room before sitting on the couch next to Alice's head, staring blankly out the window as I continued to run my fingers through her hair. The newborns were following her trail quickly. It would only be a short time before they came back here...
Then, I looked down at Alice when she moved closer to me. "Jazz..." she murmured in her sleep.
I smiled down at her, lightly kissing her head. "I'm right here, Alice," I told her quietly. "And I always will be."
This seemed to appease her as I watched a small smile appear on her face. I sighed, looking back out the window. Victoria was making her move- it was time to make ours.
A/N: Again, sorry for the long wait! But I hope you liked this chapter! Thanks for reading! Your reviews are much appreciated. Thank you!
Next Chapter: That Wet Dog Smell