ALL RIGHTS BELONG TO STEPHANIE MEYERS
Jacob stood before the couch in his small living room and looked at me. His eyes were rimmed in red "You don't look so good."
"I don't feel so good, either, I guess."
"I'll go get your truck and then take you home – You probably ought to be there when Charlie gets back."
I lay listlessly on the sofa while I waited for him. Billy was silent in the other room. I felt like a peeping tom, peering through the cracks at a private sorrow that wasn't mine.
It didn't take Jake long. The roar of my truck's engine broke the silence before I expected it.
He helped me up from the couch without speaking, keeping his arm around my shoulder when the cold air outside made me shiver. He took the driver's seat without asking, and then pulled me next to his side to keep his arm tight around me. I leaned my head against his chest.
"How will you get home?" I asked.
"I'm not going home. We still haven't caught the blood-sucker, remember?"
My next shudder had nothing to do with the cold.
It was a quiet ride after that. The cold air had woken me up. My mind was alert, and it was working very hard and very fast.
What if? What was the right thing to do?
I couldn't imagine my life without Jacob now – I cringed away from the idea of even trying to imagine that. Somehow, he'd become essential to my survival. But to leave things the way they were … was that cruel, as Mike had accused?
I could stake a claim. I had that much within my power. Would it be so wrong to try to make Jacob happy? Even if the love I was capable of was no more then a weak echo of what I was capable of. I knew he would take me despite it all. He wouldn't even pause to think it through.
Jacob stopped the truck in front of my dark house, cutting the engine so it was suddenly silent. Like so many other times, he seemed to be in tunes with my thoughts now.
Jake pressed his warm cheek against the top of my hair. Could I do this? Could I betray
My absent heart to save my pathetic life?
"Be Happy" Edward's velvet voice whispered in my ear
Jacob felt me stiffen and released me automatically, reaching for the door.
I was locked in place waiting to hear Edward's voice again, but somehow I knew
It wouldn't come again.
I looked up at Jacob. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I would I would tell him everything
And make him see that he was the warm sun in my world, my bright happy place.
I'd have to explain it right so that he'd know I wasn't settling
It was all I had to say. His face lit up like a kid at Christmas and he crushed me to his
Chest. "Tomorrow" He echoed and kissed my forehead.
He parked the truck and gave me one last smile before disappearing into the woods.
I went into the house and stumbled up the stairs intending to take a shower and then go to bed.
I walked into my room and before me stood a small cloaked figure, before I could react the bedroom door shut behind me. I whirled around to find another cloaked figure standing in front of the door. Terror coursed through me robbing me of my voice and rooting me to the spot where I stood. My thoughts ran wild - Victoria had finally come to get me. I had nowhere to go and I was sure Jake was long gone. The small cloaked figure pulled back the hood to reveal a face that would make a Botticelli angel look like a gargoyle - Even allowing for the dull crimson irises.
"Hello Bella, I'm Jane" She said in a high reedy voice.
"And I am Alec." The figure behind me said as I turned. Alec had also removed his hood and
he could be Jane's twin. His hair was darker and his lips were not as full but he was just as
beautiful. Where they here for Victoria?
Before I could ask Jane told me "We're here at the behest of the Volturi, You're to return
to Volterra with us at once."
What could the Volturi possibly want with me? I finally found my voice "Why?"
"That will be explained when you arrive. Let us get going" Jane replied
"No." I told her
The velvet voice had returned, warning me "Bella, Don't fight with them"
Why, I thought. What's the worse they could do to me? Kill me?
I was barely alive, just a shell of what I used to be.
Jane stared at me hard for a moment and then hissed "It's not working!"
"What do you mean it's not working?" Demanded Alec
I turned to find Alec staring at me as intently as Jane had.
"Somehow she is immune." Alec stated through clenched teeth.
In an instant, Jane was behind me and twisted my right arm painfully
behind my back bringing me to my knees. Stars danced along my
vision and I gritted my teeth to keep from crying out."
She leaned down and growled "You will leave even if it's involuntarily."
I knew there was no point in trying to physically overpower her. But
I wouldn't give her the satisfaction of showing fear.
"Go to hell" I growled back.
"Bella, Please. For me." The velvet voice pleaded
Jane twisted my arm harder pushing me down until my face was inches
From the floor and this time I cried out. "That can be arranged."
"Jane, Stop." Alec commanded.
Jane abruptly let go of my arm leaving me kneeling on the floor, panting.
Alec grabbed my hurt arm and yanked me into a standing position.
I cried out as the pain shot through my arm into my shoulder.
He pulled me close against him and his face was just inches from mine.
"You will come with us or Jane will take great pleasure in killing your father
and then you'll come with us."
Jane clapped her hands "Yes! How wonderful!" She exclaimed excitedly.
I slumped in defeat. As much as I didn't care what they did to me, I would
Never put Charlie in danger. I knew without a doubt Jane would enjoy
Alec smiled at the sight of my defeat "Good Girl. Now then we'll be on our way."
I couldn't just leave, Charlie would get worried and Jacob would seriously
Freak out. I didn't even know if I would ever come home but I couldn't just
leave without any type of communication.
"Wait. I need to let Charlie know I'm leaving."
I didn't dare mention Jacob, I had caused enough problems for him and I
Would not put him in any more danger.
Alec looked to Jane who handed me a piece of paper and a pen from my desk.
I leaned over and quickly sprawled a note to Charlie telling him not to worry,
I just need to Get out of town for a few days.
"How sweet." Jane said sarcastically after reading the note.
Alec lead the way downstairs and quickly dropped my note on the
Kitchen table before returning to lead the way outside.
At the curb was a sedan that looked like Carlisle's, Black with
Dark tinted windows. Alec held open the back passenger door
For me and then slid in next to me while Jane got into the front
Passenger seat. The driver was a dark haired man whose crimson
Eyes almost glowed as he leered at me "Dibs." He chimed.
I cringed, Alec chuckled and Jane shrugged. "That's up to Aro." Jane told him.
As we drove away I looked at the dark fringes of the forest wondering
if Jake was out there somewhere.
My mind was in overdrive. I remembered Edward had shown me a picture of the three Volturi brothers. He'd explained they
have been the ruling royalty of the vampire world for thousands of years.
I searched my brain for what reason the Volturi would have for wanting to
see me. A few minutes later a distant memory surfaced and I heard Rosalie's
bitter voice echo in my mind "She knows to much, You've put us all in danger."
It made sense, Edward hadn't loved me enough to change me, I'm a human who
knows to much and the Volturi would not stand for that.
As we sped through the night a howl echoed through the dark forest and tears pooled
in my eyes. The thought of my impending death left me numb, but tomorrow would
never come for Jacob and I. I would never get to tell him how much he meant to me.
It was when I thought of how hurt he would be that the tears spilled over. I could only
hope that one day he would forgive me for all the pain I'd caused him.
The drive was long and silent and upon arriving at the airport we drove to the private
V.I.P. hanger where a small sleek jet sat. The pilot and stewardess, both vampires,
Stood next to the stairs leading into the plane. The driver, whose name I had
Learned was Felix, parked the car and said something quickly in a hushed
Tone to Jane. She got out, opened my door and pulled me out of the car.
"She'll be no problem" she said to Felix as she guided me towards the plane.
Once on board Jane pointed to a sofa along the back right wall and told me
"Sit and buckle up." I did as I was told and watched as her, Alec and Felix
sat in 3 of a group of 4 deep plush seats that were placed around a table.
After take off the stewardess handed me a cup of ice-water. I smiled at her
Gratefully and gulped down the water.
Felix swiveled his chair to look at me. "Tomorrow is the nineteenth" He told me.
I shrugged wondering if that was supposed to mean something.
He smiled "Saint Marcus Day. The city of Volterra holds a celebration every year to
Celebrate the missionary, Marcus, who drove all the vampires out of Volterra fifteen
Hundred years ago."
Marcus, one of the Volturi brothers.. a vampire . . . in the vampire capital of the
World. I shivered.
Felix laughed "Maybe you'll get to see some of the festivities" he said
Before turning around to Alec and Jane who were snickering.
The flight was long and I dozed in And out and woke up at one point to find myself
laying across the couch with A blanket covering me. I watched the sun rise
above the clouds and sunlight Filtered in the small plane window across my face.
I looked over to see Felix Talking quietly on a cell phone and Jane & Alec were
curled up in one chair together talking softly. The windows next to them had the
shades pulled down to block the sunlight which did not surprise me.
When we landed in Italy another dark colored sedan with dark tinted windows
Was parked in the hanger. I watched as the Tuscany and Florence landscapes
Flashed by and despite the nature of the trip I admired their beauty.
We began a steep climb and the road grew narrow and at the top of the hill
We approached a gate where a guard stood. Felix stopped and spoke with
Him for a moment before passing through. The road now was
Cobbled and even more narrow then the one outside the city. The brown
Cinnamon buildings were faded and darkened the street with their shade.
We drove through the heart of the city where I could see people hanging
Red flags and shop owners setting up outside merchandising tables.
As we neared the large castle ahead Felix turned left onto a little path
With stone walls on either side of it. It was a decline that lead us down
Into a garage of some sorts. Felix parked the sedan and announced
Jane lead the way through a thick wooden door and I found myself
Standing in a posh reception area. The walls were paneled in wood, the
Floors carpeted in thick deep green. There were no windows but large
Brightly lit paintings of the Tuscan countryside hung everywhere. Pale
Leather couches were arranged in cozy groupings and the glossy tables
Held crystal vases full of vibrantly colored bouquets. In the middle of
The room was a high, polished mahogany counter. I gawked at the
Woman sitting behind it. She was tall with dark skin and green eyes.
She was also every bit as human as I was and I couldn't comprehend
What this woman was doing here, totally at ease, surrounded by vampires.
"Good Afternoon Jane" She smiled politely
Jane nodded "Gianna"
Jane lead the way down a short hallway behind the reception desk to
A set of elevators. When we exited the elevator Jane steered me down a wide ornate hall, the hall was long and at the end was a set of double doors entirely sheathed in gold. They stopped halfway down the hall and slid back a piece of paneling exposing a plain wooden door. Alec pulled the door open and gestured Jane and I to walk through. On the other side was a bright cavernous room, perfectly round like a huge castle turret, which is probably exactly what it was. Two stories up, long window slits threw thin rectangles of bright sunlight onto the marble floor below. Three quarters of the way across the circle were steps leading to a platform were several massive wood chairs, thrones, sat flush against the curving wall. There were a handful of people milling around but it was the three who sat upon the thrones who caught my attention. I recognized them immediately from the picture in Carlisle's office - The vampire who had been seated in the center throne stood; His features were perfect yet different from any other vampire I had seen. His skin, translucent white, looked papery thin and stood in stark contrast to the long black hair that framed his face. His eyes, though red like the others looked clouded and milky – Aro. It was then that I noticed the other 2; To the left sat a vampire would looked very similar to Aro, but his hair was not quite as long and His eyes were clear - Caius. The vampire to the right had a shock of long snow-white hair that fell down below his shoulders – Marcus. All 3 wore long black robes and hadn't changed In the 300 years since the picture in Carlisle's office had been taken.
Aro walked down the steps just as Jane shoved me forward. I tripped, fell to my knees and slid a few inches across the cold marble floor. I glared up at her and she met my glare with one of her own, her red eyes burning into mine but I refused to look away and show her fear.
"Jane that is no way to treat our guest." I heard a soft voice that sounded more amused then contrite.
I turned away from Jane and looked up - Before me stood Aro
He reached down and took my hand and pulled me into a standing position in front of him.
I flinched and tried to pull away but Aro held my hand firmly in his own. He turned my hand
Over and traced my palm with his fingers before looking me directly in the eye. "Do you know who I am Bella?"
I looked behind him at Marcus and Caius. I turned back to him and raised my
Chin defiantly "You're the Royal family, the Volturi, You're Aro - The vampire on the throne to the left is Caius - the one on the right is Marcus."
Aro laughed "Indeed, The Cullens have taught you well." He looked over at Jane and
Felix "I must confess I found it quite hard to believe that Bella was invincible to your gifts,
Yet here she is and invincible to me as well."
Aro let go of my hand "My gift is similar to your Edwards."
I cringed visibly at the sound of Edward's name, a reaction that did not go unnoticed by Aro.
"With just a touch I can read every thought a person's mind has ever had."
He explained and then chuckled "What a delightful surprise you are Bella."
He moved a few feet back to stand in front of the steps that lead up to the royal platform.
He nodded at Jane before turning back to me
"Do you know why you were brought here Bella?"
I should be feeling fear, apprehension, anxiety… something. Yet I found myself indifferent
And apathetic. I shrugged "I know too much."
Aro nodded before turning to the door. Jane had re-entered, looking quite smug, and was escorting Irina. Irina and her sisters, Kate and Tanya lived in Denali, Alaska.
Edward had told me about them and I recognized her from another picture in Carlisle's office. Irina glared at me for a moment before Aro motioned for her to come join him. As she walked towards Aro I could see she was nervous. Jane came over to stand by me. I was confused because the Cullens considered Irina and her sisters family. Then, It suddenly dawned on me;
I was not here simply because I knew too much. Irina and Laurent were lovers. She was angry that the wolves had killed Laurent and she wanted to avenge her lover. She couldn't just kill me herself and risk starting a fight with the Cullens so she had come to the Volturi and told them about me. Everyone would just assume the Volturi had killed me for Knowing to much and Irina would not only keep her hands clean but would have her vengeance.
Aro smiled at Irina "Do not be afraid" He took her hand and closed his eyes.
I looked around and noticed Caius looked utterly bored and Marcus looked exasperated.
After a moment Aro opened his eyes and looked from Irina to me.
"Irina is under the assumption that her friend Laurent was killed to protect you."
I laughed bitterly. Irina must think the Cullens had killed Laurent.
That could be very easily straightened out and there would be no need to lie to protect the wolves. Aro raised an eyebrow at me.
I looked Irina straight in the eye "The Cullen's left Forks 7 months ago."
"So?" She hissed.
"They left, and I did not." I emphasized "Why would Laurent be killed because of me?"
Marcus stood and walked over to the edge of the stairs and everyone turned toward him.
He seemed even more exasperated and addressed Irina "Do you mean to tell me we're here because of your word against hers? You did not see Laurent get killed?"
Irina bowed her head and whispered "No."
Marcus waved his arm and declared "Aro, this is ridiculous, kill them both and be done with
Irina fell to her knees "Please No!" She gasped
Jane snorted and then looked at me "Well at least you aren't pathetic."
Aro laughed "What a wonderful mystery we have here. I love mysteries."
Marcus sighed and sat back down on his throne, Caius had not moved at all.
Aro motioned forward a tall dark haired man "Demetri, Find Carlisle and bring him and His family to the castle."
"No!" I yelled "Weren't you listening? The Cullen's left 7 months ago. They had nothing to do with what happened to Laurent."
Irina still on her knees, was quivering with terror.
Aro turned to me "How do you know that?"
I bit my lip, fighting back the tears, I could barely get the worlds out "Because Edward told me that I didn't belong in his world and
That I would never see any of the Cullens ever again."
The hole in my chest had ripped wide open, I couldn't breathe and my vision was blurred
From the tears pooling in my eyes. "He doesn't love me, He wouldn't have killed Laurent."
Aro came over and took my arm, looking directly into my eyes "You love him enough that
You are willing to die for him. We will not unnecessarily harm them. But the truth
Must be known. In the meantime you will be our guest here. Jane take her to the guest suite
In the west wing on the 3rd Floor."
He turned back to Irina, took her hand and pulled her into a standing position. "We will
Find out the truth my dear, Alec will take you to one of the guest suites in the East Wing."
Jane lead me back the way we came and it wasn't until we boarded the elevator that
She spoke. "Aro must really like you." She pondered. I shrugged
"You've been brought here to answer to the Volturi, you've shown no fear, and you speak
defiantly to royalty as if you've not a care in the world. You are the first to escape punishment for
such talk" She reflected for a minute before taking my arm, forcing me to look at her.
"You really don't care if you die do you?" She demanded. Before I could answer she let
go of my arm "Of course you don't." She laughed "The only time you've shown any
emotion is when the Cullen's are mentioned. Poor Bella, how proud, dying for the one
She was right of course, but what did this mini she-devil know of selfless love. Her
life apparently revolved around her ability to cause people pain and fear.
The elevator opened up into a small hallway with stone walls and marble floors similar
To the room we had just left. Jane led me to the door at the end of the hallway and
Just as she reached the doorway it opened and there stood a woman whose beauty would
rival Rosalie's. She was tall, with straight silky black hair, almond shaped violet eyes
and full pink lips. Jane pushed me into the room, spoke quickly in a whispered tone
to the beautiful goddess and then left. The woman turned to me and laughed at my shocked expression.
"Contact lenses" She said lightly. I nodded. Of course, blue lenses over her red irises would create the violet color.
"My name is Sasha and I will be your hostess for the duration of your stay with us. Come I'll show you where everything is."
She led the way into the large room. The room was bigger than Charlie's house; the carpeting a plush
blue that your feet sunk into. There was a sitting area to the left with a couch, two chairs
and a flat screen TV. To the right was the biggest bed I've ever seen. It was a sleigh bed with a Cherry wood headboard and footboard. The duvet was a deep red and the mound of pillows were red and blue. Sasha led me over to the far wall where a set of sliding glass doors led out onto a stone balcony. Outside there was a stunning view of the city and the sun setting on the horizon was a sight to behold. The door on the left wall behind the sitting area led into a massive bathroom with a shower, Jacuzzi tub and vanity.
To the right of the sliding glass doors was a small kitchen area with a mini-fridge, cabinets with a brand new microwave as well as a table and chairs to sit and eat.
I turned to Sasha "I don't understand."
She looked puzzled "Understand what?"
"Vampires don't sleep or eat."
She immediately understood. "Sometimes the Volturi entertain humans such as foreign royalty and these are the rooms they are accommodated."
I nodded although I couldn't imagine who would want to visit the Volturi.
"Is there anything specific you'd like for dinner?" she asked.
Food. I was trapped in the vampire capital of the world, I was going to die and she was asking
Me about food. Sasha read my horrified expression and came over and put her hand
On my shoulder "If they wanted to kill you they would have done so already."
She walked over to the door and opened it to leave before turning back to me
"I don't need to lock the door do I?" she asked
I raised an eyebrow at her "I'm in a castle full of vampires, in the vampire capital of the world. I'm sure it's safer in here then it is out there."
She laughed "You're right, I'll be back soon."
After she left I wandered out onto the balcony, there were 2 chairs and I sat in one
and watched as the last sliver of the sun disappeared marking the end of another day.
Apparently it wasn't only Edward's ability that I was immune to and I was greatly relieved
for this. Edward. He would be here sometime in the near future and I didn't want to
think about facing him so I went back inside and wandered around aimlessly looking at
and touching everything. The Volturi had spared no expense on their guest accommodations, everything was new And top of the line.
I found the mini-fridge stocked with water, as well as various juices and soft drinks. I pulled out a bottle of water and was opening it when
Sasha returned with a tray. The smell of roasted chicken and mashed potatoes wafted
Across the room and my stomach grumbled. Sasha laughed lightly and placed the
Tray on the table in the kitchen. "Come eat and I'll put these clothes in the bathroom
Closet for you." I hadn't noticed she had a small bag slung over her shoulder until she Set it down.
Sasha disappeared into the bathroom and I sat down at the kitchen table and stared at what would probably be my last meal.
I ate a few bites before I couldn't bring myself to swallow Anymore. I didn't notice Sasha had returned until she sat down across from me.
"You're very brave." She told me.
I laughed bitterly and shook my head.
She took my hand and her cold marble skin reminded me of Edwards.
"Jane said you have showed no fear, you've argued on behalf of the Cullens and you were defiant to Aro."
Her voice lowered and she said softly "You love Edward very much."
It was a statement, not a question and I nodded.
She was silent for a moment "I've never felt such a strong love as you display for Him." She confessed
I swallowed the lump in my throat and the hole in my chest was tearing,
Squeezing the air out my lungs and my eyes burned. I finally looked her directly
In the eye "He said I don't belong in his world and that I'm not good for him."
"Did you ever consider that he was lying?"
I shook my head "Why would he lie about that?"
Sasha sighed "The Cullens exist very differently than the rest of us. They only feed on
Animals and they think all life is precious. Carlisle once told me that he does not
Wish to introduce someone to this existence unless there is no other choice."
I nodded and she continued "You have a choice therefore they would not want
To change you and I think Edward loved you enough to try to protect you."
"By leaving?" I whispered
She nodded "Exactly." She stood and took the tray of food. "I know you have a lot
On your mind, but you look exhausted. Take a hot bath and try to get some sleep.
The Cullens will be here tomorrow. I'll be back in the morning."
After she had left I wandered into the luxurious bathroom, a hot bath would be
Nice. I turned on the taps and ran my fingers over the silk teddy and robe hanging
by the vanity. Both the teddy and the robe were a deep blue and about thigh length.
Alice would love it I thought with a sigh as I got into the deep tub and tried to relax.
Edward would be here tomorrow – The hole in my chest was ripping wide open,
my heart was racing, I was lightheaded and Gasping for breath.
I knew that Alice would know and would have told him why
They were being summoned and I wondered if he was angry with me. The thought of
Seeing him was bad enough but the thought of bearing the sight of his anger in
Front of the Volturi sent me over the edge. I lay there sobbing uncontrollably.
I cried for Renee and Charlie who loved me, I cried for Jacob who had saved me
When I couldn't save myself but most of all I cried for Edward. I thought that
My life complete until I met him, I was wrong. Edward had completed me and
Had given me the most beautiful treasure to ever be had - him. His love had
Been the stars and the moon, every diamond and flower and when he had left
He had taken this all with him leaving only a dark silence. I lay there remembering
Every word, every touch and every beautiful detail of him long after the water had
Grown cold and my tears had run dry. I finally stumbled out of the bathroom
Wrapped in a towel and climbed into the massive bed and let the darkness