Disclaimer: S. Meyer owns all things Twilight. Me, not so much.

PROLOGUE: The Spider Before The Fly

This is my tale, the telling of events that fundamentally altered the unalterable existence of Edward Anthony Masen Cullen.

I am a vampire. Throw out your fictional Hollywood notions, if you please. I do not turn into a bat or other creature. I am the creature. Sunlight makes me glow – a subtle, mesmerizing sheen of inexplicable beauty, not burn and blacken and turn into a pile of dust. Garlic and holy water? Not a problem, other than the fact that I cannot digest them or any other human food. Requiring an invitation to enter a dwelling is another ridiculous concept. That is just a myth to give humans a false sense of security in a dangerous world. There is not a lock or a barrier on this earth that could keep me out – or in – if I so determined. I possess strength and speed beyond the comprehension of human understanding. My mental abilities far e exceed anything in human existence in capacity and calculation. I am immortal, like all my kind, and I can also read minds. That is a fascinating and infuriating ability that is particular to me and me alone. My physical attributes are also amazingly superior – my voice, my face, my body, even my smell – all the better to attract my prey. I drink blood, of course. Vampires suck the life force out of insignificant, inferior beings.

I did not always drink the blood of humans, however. For a period of time after I was changed, well over 100 years ago, I lived with my creator and mentor, Dr. Carlisle Cullen. Carlisle found me in his hospital dying of Spanish Influenza. The disease had taken the lives of both of my parents, as well as most of the city of Chicago. He is an amazing creature with strength of purpose and morality such as I have never seen before or since. Carlisle's inherent character had obliged him to discover a way to survive not on the blood of humans, but on the blood of even lesser creatures – animals – and thrive. He refused to let what he was change who he was, the most compassionate and caring individual I have ever come across. He guided me through my first decades in the vampire world in his ever patient, generous manner.

I was the first vampire he had created in the over 300 years of his existence. He did it out of loneliness, attachment, and love. I understood this completely, and it was something for which I was very thankful. It was also something that I could not forgive. That dichotomy was what had driven me from our home and the life he had chosen and into the circumstances in which I found myself now.

It was not the only reason I had left my home and those I loved. In the intervening years, Carlisle had occasion to change his wife and mate, Esme, who became my mother for all intents and purposes. As a human she had thrown herself from a cliff, distraught over the death of her infant child. Carlisle found her as she lay dying from her injuries and changed her. She is a gentle, loving being, and a more fitting partner for him I couldn't imagine. The fair Rosalie came next, a victim of a particularly gruesome violence. A few years later Rosalie was hunting in the wilderness and discovered Emmett bleeding to death from a bear attack. She convinced Carlisle to save him with eternal damnation. It was a few years after that Alice and Jasper found us, Alice having seen our vegetarian lifestyle in one of her visions and knowing they were meant to be a part of our family.

It was living with three very happily mated couples that was the final blow to my mental and emotional stability, although it was something I would never admit to them. They tried so hard to block their thoughts, to keep private those things that should be private. It wasn't their fault. It was mine, the freak among freaks. I couldn't even afford my family, those that I loved above all else, the privacy and intimacy that was their right. So I left.

I found my way to Volterra, a small, ancient town in Italy. It was home to the Volturi, a primeval, royal vampire court that ruled over the world of all legendary beings. Aro, Caius, a, and Marcus were a trio of vampires who acted as sovereigns of the Volturi, maintaining the secrets of mythical creatures and their societies. They governed the one Rule held by all – keeping the existence of such magical races a secret from humans. Their Guard and coven of followers consisted of legendary creatures of every kind, and all possessed special abilities of one type or another, much like my mind reading capabilities. I knew Aro would welcome my talent and intellect, as he had indicated such in the past on numerous occasions. So I donned the dark grey cloak of the Volturi's Elite Guard and tried to find satisfaction in the blur of days, months, a, a nd years that rolled by, ever the same.

Enough of Carlisle's principles had ingrained themselves in my habits that I refused to partake of the particular "meals" brought in for the blood-drinking members of the Volturi and their Guard, innocents rounded up like cattle to the slaughter and brought to the Volturi stronghold for just such a purpose. I consoled my wayward conscience by hunting those humans who were less human than even I – those who raped, killed, robbed, and destroyed others of their kind. It was one use of my ability I found satisfactory. I could listen to the minds of those who planned to do harm, protect the innocent, and slake my thirst all at the same time. I often worked with the Volturi hunter and meal collector, Heidi, to minimize the assault on innocent humans. It helped relieve the ennui.

Aro had decided that my talents and abilities would best be put to use with a small specialized group used to track, evaluate, and if necessary, eliminate threats to our fabled world and continued survival. Demetri was a vampire, the tracker of our group; his ability was to lock on the mental signature of an individual and follow them anywhere in the world. I was the evaluator. Once our prey was found, I used my ability to listen to their mind and determine the truth of their thoughts and actions. If they were, in fact, a threat to our way of existence, Felix, another vampire, was called. He was the eliminator. The three pronged approach of our group was an ingenious balance of talent, personality, a,nd focus. It was simple, and precluded a mistake being made by separating our functions.

The last member of our group was not a vampire but a shapeshifter named Jacob. Jacob was a Quileute warrior and essentially human, but shapeshifted into the form of a giant red wolf. Jacob's duties were twofold: as a human, he had abilities and access we as vampires did not, and as a wolf he was an outstanding bodyguard and protector. The only thing that could harm or destroy a vampire was another vampire – or a werewolf. The shapeshifting warriors, whose transformation took the form of a wolf, assisted the Volturi in removing rogue monsters from existence and keeping our code of silence.

It was my job, a purpose amid purposeless days and nights, end after end. It was something I was very good at and even, on rare and fleeting occasions, actually enjoyed. It provided a brief glimmer of interest in absolutely uninteresting eons of time. Until that one particular day and that one particular job.

Until that one particular girl. The girl. My girl.