Chapter 23

Alec's POV (Really quick because I haven't done him in a while)

I busy myself with mapping out a waylay for our next mission. There seems to be a clan that has prearranged itself just south of Voltura and Aro wants us to take them out as soon as possible. Night hasn't fallen yet, and Isabella has yet to return from whatever it is Master has her doing. Which is…heartbreaking, for me, because I'm really in need of some stress relief if you know where I'm going, which you do so I will not continue.

There are an array of different sounds coming from the mansion and the city housing it. There's been a bank robbery not far away. Shots were fired and the suspect was hit in the right arm. From the sounds of it the robber has gotten away, running off in the direction of the forest. Authorities have lost track of him. Hm. I can also hear what sounds like running water. Heidi watering the garden perhaps.

Honestly, all of these sounds are of lesser importance than the soft knock on the mahogany of my bedroom door. Without even taking the time to think I know it is the little brown haired girl. Marley.

"You may come in." I say over my shoulder from my place on the window sill. The weathered door creaks ever-so-slightly and I take notice of the brush of cotton against wood paneling as the young girl slides into the room. There is a moment before she says a word.

"Will my mommy come back?" The tiny voice tinkers like bells through the stale air of my room. I make note of the fact that even at such a you age, this child is fit for immortality.

"In time, yes, she will." I refrain from saying anything more. It is Isabella's duty to tend to this type of inquiry. I have no clue what to tell the small creature who is now climbing onto the window to perch beside me. It is a dangerous feat, sitting on an open window sill, but the little girl takes it without challenge, swinging one leg then the other over to hang outside like my own. I don't tell her not to or that it's dangerous. Because if she were to lose her balance- which from the looks of it, she will not- I could catch her in an instant.

There is a brief silence as the wind catches her curly brow locks, blowing them west toward the setting sun. It was moments like this that I wish for humanity. The ability to feel the purity of life the way I am sure this child does.

"Alec, if you make me like my mommy then will she come back?" Marley asks, looking up at me with stunning green eyes. I give her an apologetic smile and she lowers her eyes, knowing the answer.

"No, unfortunelty that is against the rules of our society, Marley. I am sorry. But, as I said, in time, little one. You will see your mother again."

Marley nods and it is incredible the wisdom that such a young child can house in her head. The fact that she understands her situation and can ask questions and handle the answers… It says a great deal about her development already. If she does decide, when the time comes, to remain human, I am almost certain Aro will allow it.

"Alec?" Marley is outstretching her tiny white hand, palm up. It has turned to night and she smiles as a lightening bug flies cautiously over and lands in her hand. "Why can Bella see me but not my mommy?"

I stare, fascinated that the young girl had lured a living creature this close to myself. In any case, most animals run screaming when a vampire is within one hundred feet. "It's…It's because your sister has been a vampire for years longer than you mother has. Bella can control herself around you. She won't hurt you. Your mother is brand new. So she needs a little time to get used to things."

By now Marley's hand is full, finger tips to wrist, with glowing bugs. The neon blue illuminates her face and she is smiling, bright eyed and seemingly content.

"Like school." She says, blowing the little bugs away and watching them escape of into the night.

My eyebrows raise. "Pardon?"

Marley grins, comprehension written across her face. "Like school. Like my first day in kindergarten. And all the other kids knew how to count. But I didn't because I was new. But I learned. In time."

It is something truly amazing, the wisdom of a child.

"Yes, it's just like school, Mars." I tell her and we both go back to admiring the constellations.

Renee's POV

It's growing quite close to nightfall as I follow the Cullens deeper into the wooded area that surrounds their home. Bella is close by, next me in fact, and she smiles at me briefly before saying, "Jump."

I watch as she leaps the twenty feet like it's an inch and lads atop the plateau above me.

"I don't know if I can do that, Bells." I holler up to her. She smiles softly and the bigger one, Emmett laughs obnoxiously.

"Oh, come on, Renee. It's a cake walk. More like a cupcake walk. Just bend your knees like so-" Emmett crouches low to the ground. "-and release your muscle like this." And he springs into the air.

I watch him sail upward about fifty feet. I turn to Bella looking for any kind of sign that Emmett was setting me up for some type of failure because, he seems like the type. It is at that moment that the boy with the copper hair. Bell's former lover, Edward speaks, voice dull.

"I don't see the point. If she can't even jump twenty feet there's no use of her being immortal."

A harsh silence falls over the forest that cannot be natural. I'm about to turn my back when I catch the little entrails of orange flames snaking the ground and licking up the side of Edwards pants.

"Crouch and release, mom." Bella says, but she's wearing a dangerous smirk that I can only attribute to Edward's running and screaming and rolling on the ground.

I follow her direction, expecting the old creak of age to come when my knees bent. There was none. Just silky movement and then I was in the air. I lean my body toward the plateau and I go that way without strife. Hey now, where was this when I was parasailing? I bet those hot teenage blondes wouldn't be laughing about the "Old lady" then.

"Renee, that was incredible." The small one, Alice chimes, patting my back lightly. I give her a smile as I follow closely with the group. Edward has gone off somewhere but I still smell his burnt scent somewhere north.

That and another scent. Saccharine, tepid, sharp and so enticing it sends my throat a blaze and my body crouching. A growl grows in my throat and far too many things happen at once.

I hear rustling in the trees a few yards into the forest. Alice is screaming, "I just had a vision. It's Edward. Get Renee out of here, now!" I feel the stretch of Bella pulling me into her shield and my body as it races in the direction of the scent before Bella has the chance to trap me completely.

Edward's POV

I don't know who that bitch thinks she is? Setting me on fire? I was telling the truth! What can we possibly do with a vampire that can't even jump? For, Christ's sake, that's like a dog that can't bark!

I dust the dirt and ash from my clothes as I head north at breakneck pace. Well breakneck for a human. For me it's like drifting.

I make it about a mile north when I smell and hear something approaching from the east. A human. A bleeding human.

I slow down to a slow stroll, timing it just right so that the human would emerge just as I was passing.

"Oh, thank God. You have to help! There, there was a bank robbery in town and…and um, I was shot by the uh...robber! I need to get out of town asap! I think I'm being followed. Um, what's the quickest way to a train station? Please, sir."

I examine the man. Middle aged, graying brown hair, tattered black clothing and he's hold his right arm where the gunshot wound must be. I almost feel sorry for him except for how I don't. It's clear this man is lying and that he is infact the robber.

It's at that moment I get an idea.

"Yeah, of course. Just head south about a mile. You should run right into the station." I lie. He'll run into something but it certainly won't be a train station.

"Oh, thank you so much, man! You're a life saver!" The guy grins and hobbles off in the direction I had told him.

"Yeah, such a life saver." I mutter forebodingly. Now there'll be one less scumbag in the world and I can put a dent in Renee's progress.

Killing two birds with one stone.


Bella's POV

My shield stretches out to slowly and Renee gets away, sprinting in the direction of the human scent. We all exchange anxious glances for less than a millisecond before we're sprinting after her, me leading them all, nothing on my mind but my mother and how I'm so fucking through with Edward bullshit.

Branches whip past me, slapping against my skin like feathers as I bound over fallen trees and boulders in pursuit of my mother.

We reach a clearing and find her closing in on a terrified, blood-soaked man.

"Mom! No!" I shout, running at her, Emmett running with me. Jazz and Carlisle go for the man, taking him far north. Esme, Rose and Alice go off in search of Dickward.

Renee has feral snarls ripping from her chest as she writhes in Emmett's grip. I try and hold her hands at her side but it's impossible.

"Em, we need to get her back to the house. Do you have anything in the basement?" I inquire. Emmett already has Renee thrown haphazardly over his shoulder as he says, "Yeah, we should have some grizzly in the storage freezer."

We run in the direction of the Cullen home and make it there quicker than we would ever before.

Emmett got Renee strapped down in one of Carlisle's gurneys while I went to retrieve and heat the blood.

The Cullen's basement doubles as an enormous freezer system. There are gallons and gallons of blood of different types and from different animals. I grab a pouch or two of grizzly and one human O+ for myself before heading to the kitchen.

I make quick work of the warming and get back to Em and Renee as soon as I can.

My mom is still writhing on the gurney but it's calmed down quite a bit. "Mom, mom, relax, here, I brought you something."

I hand her a thermos full to the brim with grizzly blood. I hand another to Emmett. My own is in the kitchen, locked in a cabinet so as not to tempt Renee. I'll drink it when she's otherwise distracted.

I don't have to tell Renee to drink up; she has the container tipped back before I even register it. This makes Emmett grin. "Your mom has an appetite."

I frown disapprovingly at him. "That isn't funny, Emmett. She almost killed a human. Do you know what that would have done?"

Emmett shrugs. "You kill humans, Bells. I don't see a difference."

I glare at the large brute of a man. "It's different because I have control. Renee doesn't know control yet. Drinking human blood will just elongate the time she'll spend away from Marley." I explain. Marley. She's probably wondering where we are right now.

I look down at Renee who is finishing off the last of the thermos. Emmett nhands her the remains of his own. She takes it with good grace.

"Bella, sweetie, I'm sorry. I don't know what came over me…I-"

"Its fine, mom. Happens to the best of us. But uh," I run a hand through my hair, bones feeling more tired than they've ever felt in my immortal lifetime. "I think I'm going to head back to the castle. Marley is probably worried and knowing Felix and Alec they have no idea how to handle that. Oh god, they probably haven't even fed her. Okay, mom. I gotta go."I lean down to kiss my mother's cheek and she gives me a sad smile.

"Tell her I love her, Bella. Please. And I love you as well."

I feel a prick in my eyes but I smile despite myself. "Will do, mom. I love you too. And thanks, Emmett. I really appreciate this."

"No problem, Bells. You know you'll always be my little sister, no matter what my idiot brother says."

I grin at him before making my way to the door just as the other Cullens enter.

"Oh, Bella, thank god. Is she okay?" Esme asks frantically scanning the room, sighing when she's a very stable Renee on the sofa, gurney pushed aside.

"Yeah, Em and I handled everything. Thanks. What uh, happened to the guy?" I ask cautiously, but mostly glaring at Edward who has made his way inside.

"Took him to the authorities. He's going to be locked for a long time." Carlisle assures me. I nod.

Jasper walks over to me, a hand resting on my shoulder. My body uncoils and I relax enough to clear my head.

"Thanks, Jazz." I say and he smiles softly, patting my shoulder before following Alice and the others into the living room.

I take a final glance at Edward and send a mental message to him, just so he's clear on where we stand.

I fucking hate you, Edward. And so help me, If anything happens to mother, you'll be dead in half an instant.

I'm gone before he can respond.

A/N: Whaaaaaaaa? The end? No? How could I? Yes, I know, short chapter but, meh. I need to get back in the grove. I'm hopping between Bandom and Twilight fiction right now and that is really difficult, so please, review, critique, leave suggestions or just tell me how much you love me. I deserve it.

Love you guys,