A/N Hey all. Last Chapter. Epilogue next. It will be pretty long and cover many POVs. I am already half way done, and am looking forward to it.
Disclaimer: I do not nor do I claim to own these characters. They are the property of Stephanie Meyers.
While the conversation started about the impending attack from the Volutri, I could do nothing but glance at the faces around me. On the outside I looked calm and cool, taking in the ideas floating around the room. On the inside; I was a volcano about to erupt; my mind running a thousand miles an hour.
I don't want this…just became a vampire…found Keeki… I hate them…Aro bastard…why is Bella looking at Keeki like that…fucking Peter…my daughter is a vampire… I am a vampire… I have a mate…who Bella doesn't seem to like…Carlisle is a leader-not me…why can't she be happy for me… Jasper won't stop staring at me… I would follow this woman anywhere…she is my life now…
I reached over and grabbed Keeki's hand.
why can't Bella like her… I have been nothing but supportive of her…she is mated and I understood… I deserve to be happy… spent years alone… haven't held a woman in years… she knew I was alone… she chose to not come and see me… she chose to stay with her mother…
A sharp zap of resolve jolted me out of my whirlwind and I whipped my head toward Jasper. He looked like he was about to kill me as he jerked his head in Bella's direction. I had stopped looking at her and hadn't noticed the smile that had appeared as she looked at Keeki's hand resting in mine. Jasper was letting me know that she had made peace with my new relationship.
I shot up off the couch and flashed out to the yard. I could feel Jasper calming me, and it was good that he did. When I thought about Bella not supporting my relationship with Keeki, I began getting angrier and angrier at her, and Jasper could feel it. I had never, ever been that way with her. No matter what happened I had never felt that much anger, well not towards her.
I paced the yard just beyond the deck… back and forth. Back and forth.
I had been stewing and pacing for God knows how long when I finally had a visitor.
"Esme was hoping you could maybe not pace the same spot… you have worn a pretty big lane."
I looked down and saw that I had worn a nasty path in the usual velvet grass.
"What do you want, Peter?" I asked with only a hint of agitation.
"It's alright that you are angry. Keeki is your mate and -"
"And Bella is my DAUGHTER!" I yelled. "I should not be having angry thoughts about her. She is my daughter." I shook my head as I said the words. What had I been thinking getting angry with her? She was seeing her bachelor-loner father with a woman, who was not her mother.
I began pacing again.
"Yes, she is. But she is also an adult - a mated vampire. She should be a little more understanding. You and her mother have been separated for years. And maybe if you weren't a vamp, it would be a little more understandable. But she knows what it is like to have a mate… that pull you get. That feeling in your gut…" My hand shot up to my stomach as I thought about that feeling.
"Look Charlie. You are both brand spankin' new vampires. Neither of you should be doing ANY of the things you are. You should be fighting and hunting… you should be doing everything you can to get to a human… not … this." He swept his hand around the yard and towards the house.
"When you are a newborn, your thoughts can take off and running. And before you know it you have worked yourself up so much that you will take your anger or frustration - whatever you are feeling- out on those around you. Especially those closest to you."
He sighed and made his way to my side, resting his hand on my shoulder to stop my movement.
"Don't be too hard on yourself, Chief. You are one awesome vampire. I am very honoured to know you."
I gaped at him and cleared my throat. Had I just heard him right?
"Thank you Peter. And I apologize for my behaviour towards you - oinking and all." I extended my hand and he grabbed it firmly.
He laughed heartily and slapped me on the back. "No worries, Chief. I should've known better than to mess with a newborn, who is also a father."
I nodded and looked up towards the house. Bella and Keeki were standing side by side, listening to everything. Awww crap… I really need to remember that nothing is private in the world of the vampire. I hoped that Bella could feel my remorse - if she had her shield open. Guilty flooded over me as I focused on my daughter. She was having a hard time dealing with everyone's emotions, on top of everything else.
Christ, I am such an ass.
"No, Dad. Don't feel that way." Bella said as she and Keeki joined Peter and I. "I am so sorry how I acted. I just…" She looked to Keeki, who nodded at Bella to continue. "It's so much. I was so angry at you… for a bit. But then I realized that I have no right to be like that. You have found your mate, and a wonderful one at that. I have put you through more than you should ever have had to deal with. And now look at us…" She choked over her last words, and I knew that tears would be falling if they could.
"Come here Bells." I opened my arms and she flew in to them, hugging me with all her worth. "I love you. You are so special to me and we will get through this newborn…ness together."
Jasper came out of the house then, a smile on his face as he took in the scene before him. "I am sorry to interrupt but Carlisle would like everyone inside, he has just received a call from Eleazar." I released Bella and she went directly to Jasper, and he wrapped her in his arms.
Keeki moved away from the door to let Peter, Jasper and Bella go inside. "How are you?" She asked, taking my hand.
"I'm good." I squeezed her hand. "I'm sorry."
"For running out and for you having to hear that. I feel like a monster for getting angry at Bella like that. But… I couldn't stand the idea of her not liking you. I suppose that it how a mate is to act, all protective, but she is my daughter. I should be more understanding."
"Listen Charlie. This is mating thing is new to me too, obviously. I am three hundred years into my vampire life, but I remember what it was like to be a newborn vampire. Things are going to be overwhelming and sometimes confusing for a while. Like you said, you are just a week in to this new life."
On instinct I pulled her into my arms. It felt so right to hold her, touch her and take in her wonderful scent. She pulled away slightly and looked up at me. Her eyes lighting up as she smiled, that little dimple appearing. "I want to help you, Charlie. I want to be the one who is there for you through all of the ups and downs. Its sounds as though you are going to have another fight on your hands, and I want to be there, standing by your side." She stood on her toes and pulled me down to meet her lips. "Why does that Peter fellow think that you are going to be the one to take care of the Volturi?"
I laughed at her question because the answer was so absurd to me. "He has seen me. Peter has… I guess you could call them premonitions. He said that I was going to be the one to bring change to the Vampire world and that I was going to be the leader."
Keeki raised her eyebrows at that. "Wow. Lots of responsibility for a newborn. How do you feel about that?"
I pulled her over to the bench by the door and leaned against the wall of the house, crossing my arms over my chest as she sat beside me.
"Well, I know that the Volturi are bastards that have too much power. From what I have gathered, not many vampires, besides those who live in Volterra, like the way they rule. I know that I would never be that kind of a leader. And truthfully I don't think your…our… kind needs that kind of a ruler…rulers." I started to pace. I had always needed to move as I worked out a problem or idea. Keeki sat patiently on the bench as I mulled the idea over and over in my head.
"There shouldn't be say, a president, or anything. More like a council that is elected, maybe there could be states or counties that have one representative. And that person would be the elected official for that area. There would have to be guard or police force of some kind, because there would have to be a constitution and some laws."
I stopped in front of Keeki and sighed. She had a little smirk and raised one eyebrow.
"Just a thought." I said smugly. I really didn't know how I felt about all of this. But know that I was thinking about it, the ideas just kept coming.
Could I really do this? Do I want to be the leader? Not to toot my own horn, but it is pretty clear that I have a very unique and powerful ability. Maybe it could be something that I could use to do some good. I did believe everything I said to Keeki. There shouldn't be one self appointed ruler. Vampires of the world should have a choice in who their leader is…
"Carlisle is read to talk now." Bella said, waving us in.
"Well, that sounds… great Charlie. I think that many of us would be on board for that. You should talk to Carlisle and find out what he thinks." Keeki opened the door and I stopped her before she could cross the threshold. "That was just so ideas off the top of my head. I don't think that anything will come of this."
"So Chief. You have come to terms with your new status have you?" I glared at Peter where he stood by the fireplace, Charlotte wrapped in his arms.
I looked back to my mate and she smiled lightly.
"I dunno what you are talking about, let's deal with getting rid of the bastards." I pulled Keeki down on my lap in the couch we had sat in earlier. It felt a little strange to have her sitting in my lap in front of everyone, but they didn't seem to take notice. Rose and Emmett were watching some video on Emmett's laptop, while my daughter and Jasper sat in the chair next to us.
"Well, that was a very interesting phone call." Carlisle descended the stairs with Esme at his side. "Apparently, Aro is a little nervous about coming here. He received some information from one of Maria's soldiers who managed to escape. He called Eleazar to find out what he knew about Bella and Charlie."
"What did old Uncle Zar tell him?" Emmett had finally put down the laptop and joined the conversation.
"Nothing. He had nothing to tell. He did however, try to persuade Aro to stop his attack on us. Tried to make Aro remember that I had spent time at Volterra in my younger years and that I would never do what he was accusing us of." Carlisle paused and took Esme's hand. "At one time I considered the three of them my brothers. Now, I can safely say that I am ready to destroy them." Carlisle looked up at us, his eyes no longer golden, but black pits of anger. "I will not allow them to destroy our family. I will protect my mate."
Jasper, Peter and Emmett growled low as they each grabbed their mates. I looked at my newly found mate and my chest also began to rumble.
Moments passed as all the couples in the room held their mates and spoke soothing and loving words. "I know what I said upstairs. But, the thought of you… I can't lose you. I want this now, all of it." I pulled Keeki close and placed my lips on hers…
Some time later there was sounds of people shifting and Carlisle clearing his throat. Keeki moved her hand from gripping my arm to my cheek and gently pulled away from me. The loss of her touch caused a growl to rise up out of my chest.
Keeki smiled gently and placed a soft kiss on my cheek. "Me too. Charlie Swan. Me too."
My chest swelled with love and for the first time ever I wanted to scream from the roof top. I had found my woman. My mate.
Carlisle's phone buzzed on the table by the stairs and everyone in the room stopped what they were doing to glance at it.
"Who could that be?" Wondered Esme as she stood to look at the number. "Oh. Oh my." She grabbed the phone. "It's Aro."
Carlisle's face twisted in anger as he rose from his seat. "Here." He said sticking out his hand and accepting the call.
"Aro." His tone saying everything he was feeling.
"Carlisle! My dear friend. How is everyone there in your little town? Safe I hope."
Carlisle snorted at Aro's boldness. "We are alive and well Aro."
"And pissed off." Snarked Emmett.
"Oh well, isn't that lovely! Listen my friend. The brothers and I were going to come for a visit, but there has been a snag and we must make a trip to Russia. There seems to be an issue with a coven that is not keen on keeping a low profile. Unfortunately we have to deal with them. I hope to see you soon."
And with that Aro the Arrogant Bastard hung up.
"What a fucking coward!" Shouted Peter, slamming his fist in his palm. "Let's go. Let's go to Russia and ambush the fuck out of them."
"I don't think that is a great idea Peter." Carlisle said while placing his phone, not so gently, on the table. "We can't just go and over throw them."
"Why the hell not? My man, the Chief over there is supposed to be our new ruler." He jabbed his finger in my direction. "Let's go and take them the fuck out. I, for one, do not want to sit around for who-the-fuck-knows how long and wait for them to come and get us. I don't want to be looking over my shoulder. I want to have some peace with my mate and family."
"I know Peter. Really I do." Carlisle sighed and ran his hand over his face. "But I do not believe that running off to Russia and confronting them would be the best thing to do. Not if Charlie is to be the new ruler…"
"Yeah. About that." I interrupted as I stood from my place on the couch. "I am not so sure that I am meant to be some all powerful ruler. I don't want to be despised and under the constant threat of being assassinated."
Peter shook his head. "You wouldn't be Charlie. You aren't going to be like them. You would be fair and judicial. Jasper, help me out man."
"Sorry Pete. But I agree with Carlisle. As much as I would love to, we can't just go in guns blazing and take out the Volturi. We need support. Lots and lots of support. And it is going to take months to gather enough allies." Jasper turned to me. "And we should at least give the guy some time to adjust to his new life."
I knew Jasper could feel my appreciation, so I didn't feel the need to answer. I just smiled at my soon to be son-in-law.
"I wouldn't believe what he said." Keeki said. "They were set on coming here. This was another test. I would take what Aro said with a grain of salt. In fact, let me call my coven sister and see if she has heard any more information that could be useful." She gracefully lifted herself from the sofa and made her way to phone by the stairs.
"Thank you Keeki. That is very much appreciated." Carlisle answered as he headed over to a large mahogany cabinet on the far side of the room. "Can I offer anyone a drink?"
Everyone jumped up at the mention of alcohol and after taking a glass made their way out to the deck again. The fire was dying down now and the sky was beginning to clear, it was going to be a beautiful evening. After everyone had left, I pour myself a bourbon and a glass of wine for Keeki and joined her on the bottom step of the staircase.
"Helen… yes, it is Keeki…I am great! Wonderful actually." She smiled at me an took the glass from my hand.
"Listen, I am sorry to bother you , but I need some information. I was wondering if Nevel had heard anymore about the Volturi's visit to America and their plans to eradicate the Cullen Coven?"
The last Helen had heard was that Guard were organizing and still planned to be here on the next full moon. It turns out this Nevel guy was part of the Volturi's back up- sort of like the Army Reserve. They were brought in to Volterra when the entire Guard were on a mission. And from what Helen knew, Nevel was on his way there in four days.
I motioned to Keeki that I was going to join the others on the deck and gave her a quick peck on the cheek.
All eyes were on me as I dropped my ass on the bench by the door. "They are still coming. The next full moon." I said. "I say we take that time to prepare. And take the bastards out."
I wasn't surprised when everyone nodded in solemn agreement. With the exception of Peter, I don't really think anyone was looking forward to another fight. But, it was either take out or be taken out.
"My coven brother Nevel, is heading to Volterra next week. The Brothers and the Guard a definitely leaving the city. Although Helen said he didn't know where." Keeki explained as she exited the house, a bottle of bourbon and wine under her arm. "I will get any information that I can from Nevel once he checks in. And hopefully we can gather enough allies to win this new war." She moved around the group offering top ups of the empty glasses.
"Alright. Thank you very much Keeki." Carlisle stood at the top of the stairs and looked intently around the group. "I know that these next few weeks are going to be strenuous to say the least. But I do believe that we need a break to unwind and reflect on the new path that we are on. There are new additions to our family and we have lost others. I propose that we all take a week, and as Emmett would say 'chill'."
"Where we headed babe?"
"My island is calling our names."
Everyone was laughing and talking a mile a minute. There might be a war headed our way but for the moment, we were relaxed and focus on ourselves and the ones we love. I pulled Keeki down to my side on the bench, wrapping her in my arms. "So Miss Kiana. Where would you like to go for this next week?"
"Just as long as I am with you Chief Swan, I couldn't care less." She smiled as I brushed her hair behind her ear. "But are you sure you don't want to spend time with Bella? This has been a crazy week for the two of you. Or so I've heard."
I glanced over to Bella. She too was wrapped up in her mates arms, looking as happy as I had ever seen her.
"Ahhh, I don't think she wants her old man hanging around. She has a new mate and … God Damn I can't believe I am going to say this… but they could use some time together too."
I shuddered at that thought…
…once a father, always a father.