We hadn't gone far into the trees when Aro called for us to halt. The look on his face was terrifying. He was going to make someone pay for his loss today.
"I want you to track down the witnesses who stood against us," he seethed. "Demetri and Sophia, you will find Charles and Makenna. Felix and Alyssa you will find Eliza and William. When you have finished call me - and I will tell you who to track next. Rolf will return to Volterra with the wives, as will Andrew and Viktor. Make sure they are safe." He went on to assign each vampire a witness to track.
He looked at each of us. One by one, we nodded.
"What would you like us to do with them when we find them, Master?" Felix asked, a smirk on his face.
"Destroy them! They should never have stood against us." His face split into an evil grin. "Make it look like someone else did it."
Felix chuckled with glee. He was ready to destroy someone.
I was desperate. Demetri and I would be separated. There was no doubt that Aro had purposely divided us. I needed to think of a way to stay with him. He had no idea of what I'd tried to tell Edward, I needed him to know. And, I had no desire to track down Eliza and William. They had been extremely friendly before the battle. They didn't deserve to die.
Aro continued. "Marcus, you may as well return with the wives. And Chelsea can go with you. Caius and I will go to South America. It seems we have an inventive vampire to track down." He assigned three of his large guards to accompany him, as well as Renata.
"Go. Take care of this mess!" he demanded. "Andrew, have some of our human staff return the unused rental vehicles. We will all go back to Volterra in whichever way is most convenient."
I looked for Demetri through the crowd, catching his eyes for just a moment. He simply nodded at me, smiling slightly. He had an idea. A simple movement of his hand caught my eye. He was signaling that I should call him. Our hidden phones would finally be useful.
Felix grabbed my elbow. "Let's go." I could see the fire in Demetri's eyes as he watched Felix pulling me in the direction that Eliza and William had gone. He started to run and I was pulled into the thick forest without time to respond.
When I felt confident that we were out of earshot of the other vampires, I spoke. "Felix, stop please. I need to make a phone call."
His feet stopped moving instantly, his eyes were glazed. "Don't say anything. You will not tell Aro or Caius that I made you stop. You will keep your mouth shut." He nodded.
I reached into my dark grey robe, feeling for the pocket where I had concealed my secret phone. I turned it on and dialed Demetri's number.
He answered instantly. "Alyssa, thank God."
"Demetri, what are we going to do? I don't want to hunt Eliza or William. How can we? And what about Charles and Makenna?"
"Where is Felix?"
"He's here," I said, looking at him. "Sit down and wait for me."
Demetri laughed on the other end. "I love that you can make him behave," he said. Then he got more serious. "Carlos has been waiting where we hid our belongings. He is here to help us. We won't be travelling to find the witnesses. There is nothing I can do for some of them, I can't stop everyone."
"What about Sophia?"
"She knows our plans. She is with us."
I felt a surge of relief that made my knees nearly buckle. "Good," I whispered.
"Stay where you are, we are coming to you."
He hung up and I began to pace, fear still grabbing my unbeating heart. What if Aro and Caius figured out that we weren't fulfilling their orders? Would they send others after us? And, what about Felix? Would we have to destroy him?
Within a minute I could hear the sound of footsteps coming toward us through the forest. The scent that carried on the breeze was purely Demetri. I could feel my body relax with his nearness.
I watched as he approached me. He was glorious. I had never been so happy to see anyone. He approached me quickly, sweeping me up in his arms. He placed me back on my feet and tenderly reached for my face, kissing me with a passion I had never felt before.
"I'm so glad you're safe, that you didn't have to fight for your life."
"But, now we have to find another way to escape the Volturi," I said, sighing.
"I had a backup plan."
I smiled at him. "I don't know why I doubted you."
He kissed me again, and I heard Sophia approaching. She was followed by Carlos.
"So, what are we going to do?"
"First, we need to find out if Felix will work with us, or if we need to deal with him."
I felt sick. I had never thought that our desire to leave the Volturi would entail destroying our friends. Demetri could see the worry on my face.
"Don't worry about Felix. He has a great deal of self-interest. He won't choose to die."
He took my hand and we approached Felix. He still looked slightly dazed.
"Felix, would you consider leaving the Volturi?"
His face twisted into a scowl. "Never!"
"Not even to save your own life?"
"What are you talking about?"
Demetri told Felix the story of our night on the turret. "Aro and Caius were talking about their plan to keep Marcus in the Volturi. They were the ones who killed Didyme! And now, they want to keep me there. They are using Chelsea to bind us to them, but it isn't working as well with me now that I have Alyssa."
"No!" Felix argued. "Aro would not have killed his own sister! They are not using any tricks to keep the guard loyal to them!"
"I'm afraid it's true," I said.
"Prove it!" Felix's eyes were furious. He looked as though he was ready to tear me limb from limb.
I looked at Demetri, he nodded in understanding.
"Demetri, tell Felix what you heard on the turret. Do not lie."
Demetri's face slackened for a moment, his eyes glazed. He re-told our story, just as he had before.
"So, you see, Alyssa and I cannot return to Volterra if we want to live. We are going to leave, find a place where we can be hidden for as long as possible."
Felix just grunted.
"If you'd like to live, you can't return to Volterra either."
"What will I do?"
"Travel around the world. Meet other nomadic vampires. Find a mate, if you can. Just stay away from Volterra."
Felix sat quietly for several minutes, thinking about all that he had heard. His didn't move, other than the occasional 'humph' or head shake. He was reasoning this out, trying to find a way to retain his home, his current lifestyle.
After what seemed like forever, he asked, "Aro will be furious. He won't stop until we are all dead. Do you really want to live like that?"
"What choice do we have?" Demetri asked.
"Don't forget,my friend, I was there the night that Didyme died! I watched her burn in that fire. I helped you destroy the vampire who tore her limb from limb! I loved her, too!" His eyes burned with his words. "If Aro and Caius helped to destroy her, I want to help destroy them!"
"We aren't interested in destroying them. We just want to get away, to live our lives as our own," I said.
Sophia shook her head. "There may be no other way, Alyssa. The Volturi leaders are powerful. They have ways of finding you."
I felt a new kind of desperation. We had to get away from them to live, to be together. I looked at Demetri, panic overwhelming me.
"What can we do?"
"We'll hide. We can run now. Sophia, Carlos and Felix can run. None of us ever needs to return to Volterra, or Italy for that matter."
"They'll find us. Sophia is right. They won't let us run without a punishment."
"We can't fight them, they are too powerful." Demetri was getting angry as he thought of our future, running and hiding for eternity.
"What if I have another plan?" Felix said in a quiet voice.
We all turned to look at him. He was standing tall, fierce resolve in his eyes. His face showed his determination.
"Tell us," Demetri replied, and Carlos and Sophia moved in closer when he started to whisper.
My fingers were flying over the numbers on the phone. I had called nearly every member of the guard who had been sent to destroy the witnesses. With each call, I directed them to cease the hunt and to return to Volterra. They were to remain outside of the city until I called again.
We had tested my ability to persuade them over the phone. Carlos had gone miles away before calling my number. When I answered, I told him to 'yell like Tarzan'. Demetri and Felix nearly doubled over with laughter as they listened to him – over the phone and on the breeze that carried a small amount of the sound to where we stood.
We didn't know if they would be affected by my gift for an extended period of time. They may start their trip to Italy but turn back around, hunting for me. Demetri wasn't sure, but he thought it would work.
Felix's plan seemed like a good idea, but the thought of going back to the lion's den was less than appealing to me. I had prepared myself to stay away from my first real home. Now, I was ready to go back. I was terrified.
It became obvious as we moved east that my calls had not been fast enough. Twice we passed the burning remains of some of the witnesses. I hadn't asked the guard members if they had been able to catch their prey. I was afraid to ask which of my new friends had perished.
We were trying to avoid the other members of the guard. We didn't want to explain why Felix and I were with Demetri and Sophia. And none of us wanted to explain Carlos' presence. They would know instantly that something was brewing, and we didn't want to reveal anything until we were close to Volterra.
We stopped when we reached the campground from the night before. This was where we would stay until early tomorrow morning, then we would head to the airport for a chartered plane. Felix and Demetri started to talk about strategy.
I had one more card to play. Demetri didn't know that I had tried to communicate with Edward Cullen before we left the battlefield. He was unaware of the message I had tried to convey. I didn't know if I should tell him with Felix near.
We talked and developed a strategy for hours, stopping when the sun had finally set.
"I want to hunt," Felix said. "I need to be strong. I'm going to find a small town on the outskirts of Seattle."
Demetri nodded. "Prepare yourself, Felix. But, come back as soon as you are finished."
Carlos and Sophia opted to stay at the campground. They had never spent time together before, and I could see interest in their eyes. They sat around the firepit, Carlos poking the ashes with a stick as they talked.
Demetri and I wandered into the trees, far enough away from the campground to have privacy.
We were on the snowy ground, wrapped around each other, talking about my mental plea to Edward Cullen.
"Is there any chance that they would help us?" I asked him.
"I doubt it. Carlisle is a pacifist. He wouldn't want to destroy anyone, let alone those who took him in when he was looking for the answers to his existence. He was only ready to fight to protect his family."
"Did you know him then?"
"Yes. We talked at length about his aversion to drinking human blood. He tried and tried to get me to taste the animals that he hunted. He would be quite amused at our dining experience on Potere or our choice of menu items here in the forest near Forks."
"It is almost ironic that you would feast on several elk here in the forest near their home. I'm sure that you argued vehemently against his choice."
"You know me well," he said, kissing my nose. "But, I doubt that I could dine on elk again. It was repulsive."
I laughed as I thought about his face when he bit into the large animal's neck. He looked as though he was ready to gag. We considered going to the outskirts of Seattle, as Felix had. But we wanted some time alone, so we opted to feast on animals rather than humans, finding a small clearing where we could spend our night after we were sated.
"Don't tell Felix," he said. "I'd never hear the end of it!"
We heard a laugh coming through the trees. "Too late. I already heard you talking. Busted!"
I moved out of Demetri's arms and hurried to get dressed. I didn't want Felix to see me. Demetri sat up slowly, obviously not caring what Felix did or didn't see. He stood and pulled on his jeans, moving as a rather human pace. He was preparing to put on his shirt when Felix walked into our small clearing. He waggled his eyebrows at me.
"I don't blame you Demetri. I would've dined on animals, too, if I had your sweet woman to look forward to."
Demetri growled. He leapt through the air, smashing into Felix and pinning him to the ground.
"You should know better by now, Felix," he rasped.
"I only say it to upset you," Felix said, laughing.
"She is my mate! You should be more careful, even if you are joking."
Demetri stood and held his hand out to Felix, helping him up.
"Why were you talking about Carlisle helping you?" he asked as he stood.
"Alyssa tried to send a message to Edward as we left the field yesterday. She wondered if they would be willing to help us as we approach the leaders."
Felix laughed. "Do you really want to get in bed with the enemy?" He looked at me, raising his eyebrows in a naughty boy fashion.
Demetri's hand moved so fast, I nearly didn't see it. But, I heard the crack as he struck Felix on his jaw. Felix rubbed his jaw.
"You really didn't need to do that," he grumbled.
"I think we should talk to them. At the very least, they will know what happened in Volterra. They need to know that nobody should trust Aro. If we disappear, they will know what happened to us. Besides, they should warn all of their witnesses. Aro was perfectly happy to destroy our own, I'm sure the Cullen's will be next," I said.
We debated for a few more minutes. Finally, we decided to return to the campsite to tell Sophia and Carlos what we had decided. It took almost no time to return to them and explain the situation. As the sun rose, we were running through the forest toward Forks and the Cullen's home.
We knew we had to be careful in our approach. They wouldn't trust us. On the other hand, with their psychic back, they probably already knew we were coming.
A/N Almost to the end of my tale. I need to find the time to write it! Hope you'll hang in there until I get the next chapter ready!