And Irina went up in flames. The suddenness of it was shocking. None of us made a move or even a peep of noise. With unyielding, cold eyes, Caius turned his gaze on Kate and Tanya, waiting for their reaction.

For a fleeting moment, I allowed myself to believe that Kate wouldn't do anything.

"Stop them!" Edward's voice cried, and he jolted forward, his fingers brushing against Tanya's skin, in a missed grasp. She streaked too quickly and suddenly for him to grab. But it wasn't really Tanya I was concerned about.

Kate let loose an agony-laced, wordless cry of rage, breaking from where she stood. Her lithe body jolted forward, toward the grey cloaked daggers in the epitome of the snow. The blond Cullen, Rosalie, reached out to grab her, but Kate was so angry, so full of emotion, that she shocked the lovely woman without a second thought. The female vampire crumpled to the snow.

Emmett reached out, locking his hand around Kate's wrist, and he managed to knock her to the ground but then his brawny body buckled and he fell to his knees, much in the same shocked pain the way Rosalie had.

"No!" I called out desperately, as Kate rolled back to her feet, with barely a break in movement. She ran, now in a clear path, toward Caius. Knowing it would hurt terribly when I made contact with her, I lunged. This pain had to be more merciful than the pain it would bring if I lost her this way.

Like boulders, the sound rang out when I tackled her. We fell to the snow. I twisted my arms around hers and grabbed her wrists firmly, pinning her to the snow.

The excruciating pain rippled violently through me, but I forced myself to stay—because I knew if I let go of her, or moved an inch, she would attempt to strike again, and I would lose her.

"Zafrina!" Edward called.

It was a blur of her blank, beautiful ochre eyes and the sparkling snow flakes. I couldn't focus or gain control of my shuddering body. Just when I thought that I'd maybe be able to handle the pain for a little while, it stopped.

I wanted to look at Bella in thanks, but I couldn't tear my eyes from Kate's unseeing face. I didn't move, keeping her pinned to the snow as she continued to struggle.

Breathing heavily, I locked my body more firmly against hers.

"If I let you up, will you knock me down again, Katie?" I murmured, panting heavily—shuddering slightly in the aftermath of the shock. I flicked my hair from my eyes.

She snarled, thrashing more heavily against me. Her ambers eyes glinted with pained anger, and I knew she didn't see me.

"Katie," I whispered, in a volume only for her to hear, "Look at me." And she did. Her sight was returned, and her eyes nearly melted with sorrow as she registered my face above hers. There was more going on around us, but I didn't pay it any attention. "Violence is what he wants. That is why he did it. If you reacted like that, if you laid a hand on him, we would all die. Is that what you want, Katie?" I mumbled, freeing one of my hands to stroke her cheekbone.

Finally she stilled, staring up at me.

"Is it?" I pressed.

She shook her head sullenly from side to side, matting her golden hair with snow.

"Can I trust you to get up and not run away from me?" I asked, capturing her angular, perfect face between my hands.

"Yes," she whispered, and her voice was heartbroken.

Carefully, I rose to my feet, only realizing she was clinging to me once we were both on our feet.

I let my hand slide down to hers and took it firmly, vowing silently not to let go until we were literally torn apart.