"Do you know why I have summoned you here?"

I swear Aro must really enjoy scaring the crap out of me, because whoa! His way of speaking is something straight out of a nightmare. I half expected him to go all Wicked Witch of the West on me. I'll get you, my pretty. I had to suppress the involuntary shivers! I was glad that he ordered Alec to stay back in the room that they've been keeping us in for the last week. I was kind of tired of being nervous and scared in front of him all the time. That kid could read me like a book and I didn't particularly like it.


"It's Bella. And Yes, I know why you brought me here… alone."

He smirked and placed his fingers together to form a pyramid with his hands and brought it up to his lips as if pondering how to respond.

"You are a bold one, yes?"

I rolled my eyes. "Yeah, it's not the first time I've heard that. I'm probably borderline out of my mind, but you know, someone's gotta be."

He cocked an amused eyebrow and smirked like a total creep. I half wondered if spraying mace in his face would have the desired effect. I choked back a giggle at the thought of him flailing.

"Is there something you find amusing?" he asked, his face turning stony again. I had to clear my throat to stop from smiling.

"No, but I would like for you to hurry up and get to your point. Either kill me now or ask me what you want to ask me. I'm pretty sure it has something to do with you wanting me to help you create weird vampire versions of Children of the Corn or something. The answer is No, by the way." I crossed my arms and let out an exacerbated sigh.

"I do not know what you mean by Children of the Corn, but I am sure you are aware that Vampires cannot procreate. I sense that you are a newborn, but even as a young one you should be quite aware of our lack of being able to produce offspring."

I folded my arms in front of my chest. "I think it would benefit us both if we didn't lie to each other. I know about your 'magical' stone. I also know that you've been… holding out… for the right girl, vampire, whatever. I also know that as soon as you found out you couldn't read my thoughts I became number one on your list of potential conquests. So let's stop playing stupid manipulative games and get right down to it. I will not be your mate. Not now, not in the future, not ever. Got it?"

"There is something off about you. Where did you say you were from?"

"I didn't." I quipped.

The sound of the heel of his shoes clicked as he slowly walked toward me. I dropped my arms and shifted my weight from one foot to the other. Once I realized what I was doing I forced myself to stand absolutely still, chin up.

When he finally stood mere inches from me I had to suppress the urge to look away. I swear I felt as if he was looking straight into my soul and smelling my spirit. A million awful scenarios ran through my mind. For a millisecond I thought that his pale papery face would be the last thing I would see. I braced myself for the worst. In doing so, all of my human mannerisms came back and I closed my eyes.

One second went by, then two, then three, then ten and twenty. Nothing.

I cracked one eye open wondering why I wasn't dead yet. I was not expecting what was in front of me. I sucked in a deep startled breath and took a huge step back.

Aro was smiling at me… but he wasn't Aro, or he was, but a much, much younger version of him. He was hardly recognizable.

Gone was the papery white skin, dead eyes and grandpa body. In its place was an olive skinned twenty year old man stacked with muscles just barely visible through the fabric of his clothes. He had dark round eyes with just as dark long eyelashes. His unruly boyishly curly black hair wasn't long enough to be pulled back in a queue, but long enough to fall into his eyes. He pushed it back and smiled. It wasn't the creepy Tales From the Crypt smile, but a cute flirty sexy smile adorned with dimples. I blinked and rubbed my eyes expecting to correct my obviously impaired vision. Nope, nothing. He was still there just a foot or so away from me looking like a mix between a Greek God and a teen heartthrob. He was truly breathtaking.

Stupidly, the first thing to come out of my mouth was, "Why are your eyes black?"

He chuckled and looked slightly embarrassed, "It takes much more effort for me to turn back into my true form. I'm… hungry."

"Oh." I breathed. "You sound different." Nice to know that a cute face can make me act so brilliantly.

He took two silent steps and gently took my hands in his. I was screaming at myself on the inside to run, to do whatever I needed to do to get as far away from him as possible. Instead I bridged the final gap and smiled. I smiled! What the heck?

"Bella, I am an old man. Do not forget that, but what you saw before, the person everyone knows me as, that is not me. Not my true self. This is."

"You're evil." I said trying to convince myself that this hottie in front of me was just an illusion conjured for his benefit.

"Yes, I have done evil things and I am known to be a stubborn old fool set in my ways of doing whatever it takes to get what I want, but you too would be slightly more inclined to want things you've never had before if you have lived as long as I have. I'm ancient, Bella. I have seen it all, experienced it all. So when something comes along, something new, something or someone as beautiful as you, as powerful as you, yes, I must have it. I must have you. New experiences thrill me, excite me and make me feel that living this long is worth it. I want to feel alive, Bella." He paused and gripped my hands slightly harder. "Grant me this." He pleaded.

He spoke with both sadness and absolute passion. I hung on to his every word and, surprisingly, I believed him.

"I…I...I don't want to be associated with an evil man." I said the words because I knew that they were the right things to say, but did I truly mean them? No. I tried to summon the picture of the Aro I knew, the old serial killer grandpa version of him, but I couldn't. There was something wrong; I just couldn't place a finger on it. My mind started to get foggy and I couldn't remember why I hated him so much.

"Isabella." He said softly, bringing my attention back to his handsomely chiseled face. Once satisfied that he had my full and undivided attention he smiled again, this time showing his me his Colgate smile. Full on wattage.

"Let's be a family. Let us create one. Let me make you a mother."

And that was it. That's what woke me up from whatever spell I was under.

"I am a mother." I my took my hands away from his and stepped back. "I have a child." I said still stepping further and further away from him.


I froze.

And then attacked.

I ran to him ready to punch him, but he grabbed my wrist easily. I tried to get free, tried to kill him, but he held me firmly by wrapping his free arm around my waist.

"How do you know!?" I yelled, no longer able to move.

"Marcus." Was his only response after an initial hesitation. I understood then. They must have found Natalia's body. Even in her death they must have sensed her unique bond to me.

"What have you done with her!?"

He didn't answer. He held me. I felt the weird sense of attraction to him again. I tried to fight it, but it felt oddly right. Not a normal kind of attraction, but a weird "opposites attract" affection. I stopped resisting and he let me go. I caught my breath and faced him.

I stared at him for a good while before finding my voice.

"I need to get back to Alec."

He placed his arms behind his back and bowed his head slightly.

"As you wish."

"Really? I can just go?" I didn't really want to.


I blinked and in that brief second he was back to the old version of himself. It made my heart drop.

He stumbled slightly backward and I knew. I knew that he had purposely shown me his weakness. He wanted me to know that he was willing to be vulnerable with me. Something I was sure that he had never done with anyone else.

"Go!" He said in his angry creepy voice. I jumped as he startled me making me feel like a scolded little kid. I walked backward until I felt the door. I opened it and slowly crossed the threshold. I took one last glimpse of him before closing the door. His eyes found mine briefly before he walked away to some part of the back of the room that was hidden from where I was. I stood on the other side of it trying to come to terms with what had just transpired.

"You're such an idiot, Bella. Stop feeling sorry for him." I whispered to myself.

The little voice inside me countered: you're heart sure is screwed now.