AN: People…please stop being mad at me for killing the Cullens. The story isn't over yet…anything can happen! Bare with me!

I ended up staying with Cal and the others. I had nothing better to do, anyway. I had it in my head that I had a better chance of surviving if I did stay, but I couldn't decide if I wanted to live in the first place. With my entire family dead, the only thing I had to live for was revenge. When that was out of the way, then what?

That, my friends, was the million dollar question: Then what?

What was I supposed to do? I had no family, no mate, and no true friends. Well, except for Cal and his band of thieves, as I liked to call them. At the end of the day could I actually call them friends, though? We had a mutual goal, and were all using each other to complete our sole mission. Kill. Avenge loved ones.

If I did make it out alive, would I stay with Cal? What if he didn't live? What if he didn't want me to stay with him? Who could I go to?

"She's in deep thought again." I heard Cal say from the door to my small room in the warehouse. We all had our own space, and I had picked a small closet of a room, which appeared to have once been an office.

I smiled, baring my teeth at him in a string-of-pearl smile. I found that I loved being with him, as much as I told myself to fess up to reality. Just because I liked Cal didn't mean it would amount to anything.

"You scare me when you do that." He said easily. He sat on the bed across from me. I folded my legs under me.

"Why?" I asked, amused and flattered. I had only known Cal to be a tough badass, never frightened or scared. None of our group had ever beaten him in a fight.

"I think you could do some real damage when provoked. You and that gift of yours…" He trailed off, letting me think what I may.

"I could say the same about you. Although you never told me what your gift was." I let my sentence trail off, inviting him to fill in the blanks of my mental roster.

He chuckled from deep in his chest. "Why the sudden interest?"

"I want to know who I'm fighting with." I said simply.

"Well, you have no power over me. That's all that matters." The unevenness in his voice suggested I did have power over him. In a different way. "And what would the allure to stay be, if there wasn't mystery involved?" With that, he stood. I followed quickly.

"Why won't you tell me?" I sounded a bit petulant, but didn't care.

He turned and smiled down at me. I fleetingly noticed his scent again before I met his eyes. His scent was so amazing I could get lost in it. I took a deep breath.

And his eyes…As we stared at each other, his smile disappeared. His face was so beautiful I couldn't breathe. I swallowed hard and looked down at my hands. I felt like I had swallowed an entire loaf of bread and it was stuck in my throat. I was suddenly parched.

"Let's go hunt." He said, reading my mind, and changing the subject with one convenient sentence. I nodded and followed him out of the warehouse and down the street.

I trained with Cal week after week, after week. There wasn't much for him to teach me, though. I knew almost everything I needed to know about fighting, I just lacked experience. Everyone in our little group seemed to have amazing fighting skills. Even a few of them had gifts. Victoria knew when to throw in the cards and beat feet. James and Laurent weren't anything special, just two vampires who liked to pick fights. Anna was a serious committer, 100% into anything Cal was up for, such as gathering a group of vigilantes and taking on a few dozen vampires. Bones knew a person's intentions, and Slick was just a damn quick fighter and someone hard to get a hold on.

I dodged yet another blow that would have probably shattered the bones in my face.

"Watch it!" I growled low, pissed off. Slick laughed and threw another series of lightning fast hits that I was becoming better at blocking. Today we were practicing hand to hand combat, and I wasn't supposed to use compulsion. I hadn't yet, but I was thinking about making Slick freeze just to get one minute of free punches to his pretty face.

Cal entered the warehouse and everyone stepped back into their normal stances. I stood slower than the others, always wary of sneak attacks. I was much more vulnerable than my vampire counterparts, and I still didn't trust them. Cal was the only one I trusted. He could control the others better than my compulsion could. I learned quickly that no one disobeyed.

In a hard voice that left no room for question, Cal barked "We fly to Rome tomorrow. Pack up your things. Kait? Come with me." His accented voice softened when he spoke my name. Anna shot a glare my way. I smiled at her, and walked away unaffected when she hissed.

Cal took me to a high priced club not far away from our current dreg in California. After I compelled the bouncer to let me in, we sat at the bar.

"What's going on?" I asked carefully. I put a hand on his arm when he didn't look at me. The music was loud enough to block out normal conversation, but I could hear Cal perfectly when he spoke.

"I want you to feed before we leave tomorrow. When we touch down in Rome I want you as strong as possible. We're meeting some old friends of mine." He met my eyes and ice slid down my spine. When Cal looked worried, everyone should be worried.

"Why is that bad?" I asked.

He met my stare and held my eyes. I couldn't look away from the fiery oasis if I tried.

"My past…it isn't pretty. I know most vampires definitely aren't angels, but these vampires are…ruthless. To an extreme. Remove body parts first, ask questions later; that's pretty much a staple. And I'm worried because of your mortality. You can be disposed of so much quicker than the others."

I pursed my lips and felt a creepy feeling deep in my bones.

"You know damn well I'm not a mortal, so lighten up, Captain." I said bitterly. I turned away and scanned the bar. When I looked back at him he was staring at me oddly.

He smiled slowly, seemingly pleased with my reaction. I scowled and turned my face away again. I didn't want him to know how much I liked that I had pleased him.

"What makes your past so much worse than anyone else's?" I asked boldly. Cal smiled again at my daring question. I had noticed no one else asked questions like I did. Even Anna seemed afraid of the repercussions. I didn't see why everyone was so afraid of him; he was just another vampire to me.

"You'll find out soon enough." He changed the subject. "What do you want to drink?" To the casual observer, they would see a striking young man offer a pretty girl a drink. Only I knew he was talking about murder. A smile tugged at the corners of my lips and I stood. I walked to the dance floor and let my prey come to me. I swayed to the heavy metal slowly, letting my movements relieve my stress.

Strong arms grasped my hips and pulled my body to mold against sculpted marble. I stiffened for an instant before I smelled Cal. I tried to turn but he wouldn't let me.

"We have company." He said low in my ear. He indicated to four people that had just entered the club. They definitely weren't human. Telltale red eyes lit up the faces of three vampire men and a woman. They hadn't noticed our scents yet.

I swayed against Cal in puzzlement, liking the feel of him more than I should. What did they matter?

"Your scent will set them off." He said, reading my mind again.

What did he mean by that? No one had ever mentioned my scent.

"What do you mean?"

"Your blood smells powerful and rich and divine. They would fight me for you, because they would see you as human." He whispered in my ear, causing chills to go down my spine. If only it were cold in the club, Cal wouldn't have noticed it. He chuckled near the back of my neck, sending my mind reeling. I had never been this close to anyone before, never been touched this way before. He moved in synch with me, and it was comical to think of him as a good dancer. Badass Cal knew how to move.

Cal seemed to realize his affect on me because suddenly his fingers were running along the exposed skin between my tank top and low riding jeans. I leaned back into him, seemingly unable to help it. Our dance became intimate in the expanse of two seconds and my mind went fuzzy with want and passion.

Cal's hands roamed my torso in leisurely sweeps of heat, despite the chill of his skin. He ran his fingers over my collar bones and touched my pulse for a split second. His scent clouded my senses, and I didn't notice when he moved us towards the door. Suddenly, he was gone. I caught myself before I fell off of the sidewalk. He came from behind me and nudged me forward.

"Let's hunt somewhere else. They're not following. Yet."

I didn't trust my voice, so I nodded. He walked ahead of me as if nothing had happened. I had felt attraction towards him since the day I met him, and those few moments when no one else was around he seemed to feel the same. But always, he would snap me back into the reality of our situation with startling clarity. He didn't feel the same about me, so I would never get to explore my feelings. He was hard and emotionless, probably annoyed with my martyr mentality.

I followed him down an alley towards the center of town. I was so lost in thought I didn't notice my surroundings until someone grabbed me from behind and I felt cool metal on the side of my head. Cheater. Humans always used guns.I froze, and made a small sound of struggle in my throat. All theatrics of course. Cal turned around slowly with a small glint in his eyes.

"Give me your shit. Now!" A man growled at Cal as he pushed the gun harder to my head. I smiled slowly as Cal pretended to extricate his wallet. I ducked and whipped around faster than my assailant's eyes could follow and twisted his arm until it broke. I knocked him back with a strong kick to the gut and approached him slowly. My movements were smooth and catlike as I circled him. He wailed in pain as I grabbed him by the throat. I looked into his eyes for a split second, saw the recognition of terror on his face, and latched my teeth onto his jugular. I drank in heroin quality blood in gulps, my sweet elixir of power. He struggled until loss of blood made him woozy, but he could never be strong enough to fight me off anyway. When the man was dead, I dropped him. I rode out the power high with deep breathing and tingling skin. I turned to Cal slowly, surprised he was still here. He normally left when I started to feed.

He stood stonily behind me, eyes completely black with rage and lust. I wiped my mouth and stared at him, waiting for him to calm down. I knew he was probably fighting his thirst. He stepped forward and caught my lips in a rough kiss that soon had me pressed against the brick wall of a building, and I was surprised into submitting. I didn't understand why now he would suddenly take an interest in me, but I also didn't care. He was close and wonderful and I put my hands flat on the rippling muscles of his abdomen. A thin t-shirt blocked me from feeling the silk of his skin, something I could easily take care of. His tongue caressed mine for a second before he bit down on my bottom lip. Pleasure and pain emanated from the wound, and ecstasy bloomed when he started to suck. My eyes flew open and shot to his, which were closed. He bit down slightly harder and heat gathered low in my stomach.

I wrapped my hands around his upper arms—all I could reach in his embrace. He took a deep pull that left me dizzy with desire. He moaned against my lips and my knees went weak. He pressed his hips against my stomach to hold me up, and I arched my back to feel more of him. He sucked hard and steady, and I could taste my blood. We stood like this in the dark, for what seemed like forever. I would have been happy to do that, but of course, all good things end.

He let go of my lip suddenly and stared at me in horror.

"Oh no. Kaitlyn, are you okay?" His hands flitted from my swollen lip to my cheek.

Through half lidded eyes I nodded and licked my lips.

"Is it burning?" he asked.

"No. I'm not susceptible."

He let up on the pressure his body was putting on mine, and I loathed the loss of him.

"What do you mean?"

"I don't know, Cal. My brother has bitten me before when we were little and the venom has never bothered me." I wanted him to kiss me again. Now.

"I was scared for a minute. I thought I had hurt you." He went on, shock plain on his face.

"You didn't hurt me." I assured him.

He threw his head back and stared at the stars. "Your blood is so strong and sweet. Better than I had imagined. I can feel it coursing through my body, little that I had." He shuddered. I watched him with a confused bunch of emotions. Lust. Wonder. Need.

"Cal…" I said, my voice filled with unexpressed emotion.

"Hmm?" He kept his head towards the stars.

"What now?" I asked, that famous question again coming up. I knew what I wanted right now, but I was afraid to say anything to him about it.

He looked at me through eyes brighter red than I had ever seen them. I touched his cheek with the back of my hand without thinking. After a moment of standing like that, he stepped away. My eyes flew to the ground.

I heard footsteps coming down the alley, and I wasn't surprised to see the group of vampires blocking us in.

Cal stepped in front of me.

"She's mine. Hunt somewhere else." He growled. I stepped closer to him and stared at the newcomers.

One of the males stepped forward, their leader most likely. He seemed to have been Native American when he was human; he had inky black hair braided down his back.

"You should share what you find. Especially if they smell like her." He cocked his head to the side. The two other males flanked the female, who was a pretty blonde. My heart ached for my Mother, even though this vampire could never hope to be as beautiful.

"I said she was mine." Cal didn't even raise his voice, but I could practically feel the hackles rise.

I stepped around him and felt the vampires' minds slip into my control.

"You never saw us. After you left the club, you couldn't find us. You came down this alley to get to the next street to hunt." Their gazes went unfocused for a second before they walked passed us in a stupor. I actually had to step to the side to get out of the path of one of the males protecting the blonde. It had definitely worked; none of them could see us.

Cal grabbed my chin and stared into my eyes.

"Your pupils dilate until you have no iris left when you do that." He said.

"I know."

He stared for another minute before he let me go. I didn't take my eyes from him. He reached out and pushed a curl out of my face before he stepped back and swallowed.

"We should get back…" he murmured, voice rough and deep. I turned and started back. Cal fell into step behind me as I walked. I tried to dispel urges and images in my head to no avail. I had finally gotten my taste of Cal, and it hadn't solved any problems. Now, I only wanted more.

Neither of us spoke of the kiss. Or of the other vampires. We went back to the warehouse and trained until we left for our plane. When we boarded I found myself wishing I had my mother to tell about all of this. She would know what to do. And Alice would tell me what was going to happen.

I actually slept after the plane took off. Cal let me have the window seat, but I didn't enjoy the views as I once might have. I escaped Earth and took refuge in my long abandoned dream world. There, everything was okay. My family was alive. Clayton was with me, teasing me as always.

When the plane jostled I awoke with my head on Cal's shoulder. He was angled towards me so that my head rested comfortably with his hand in my hair. I sat up and brushed my hair out of my face.

"Sorry." I muttered.

"You sleep?" He had a small smile on his face.

"I can sleep, but I don't need it. It's more like a different state of awareness." I told him.

"You are peculiar, aren't you?"

His eyes danced as he spoke, and I found myself smiling. I heard someone snort behind me and the moment was gone. Damn Anna. I glared at her smiling face over my shoulder. I turned back when her smile faded.

"You could say that." I leaned back in my seat and opened the small blind on my window. We were over land and it was light out, so I figured we were close. I wondered how our group was going to manage moving around in the sunlight.

The plane landed roughly. A cheerful woman's voice announced over the intercom that we had landed, and started to speak of the landmarks in Rome. I zoned out during this time, uninterested in her droning. When we finally got off of the plane, heavy rain battered the concrete. I smiled to myself, memories of shopping with Alice while it rained brightening my mood.

We walked to the car garage off of the airport and Cal made plans. "I want us to go in groups of two or three. Steal a car and meet me at the gas station down the road to follow me to our holdings."

Cal touched my shoulder and crooked a finger, which I took as meaning that I was with him. Anna harrumphed and followed Slick and Bones. We spread out and went to different levels. Cal chose a black Audi on the main level, and with a quick wrench of the handle we were in. He hot-wired it faster than I would have imagined and pulled out quickly as I went through the CD's between the seats. I whispered "yes!" excitedly when I found my favorite Black Sabbath CD and shoved it in the player. I turned it to the right track and leaned my head back as the small guitar intro soaked up the silence in the car.

Cal laughed when Ozzy started singing.

"You like Black Sabbath?" he asked.

"I love them."

"I saw them live at their very first concert in the U.S. We were in New Jersey, October 30th, 1970." He laughed again. "I was in school. Again."

I smiled, and decided to broach the subject. "How old are you Cal?"

His smile disappeared.


"I meant how many years have you been a vampire."

"A bigger number than you can fathom." He said darkly.

"Don't be condescending. Not much surprises me anymore." I crossed my arms over my chest.

"I was born to my mother in 53 B.C. I was changed in 73 B.C." He said quietly, hesitantly.

Needless to say, my jaw dropped. And this did indeed surprise me.

"I was fighting in the Coliseum. You might have heard of Capua?"

"Yes." The main gladiator town back then. I had read about it a lot. That was a subject Carlisle had many books on.

"I was a student of the ludus there."

"So you were chillin' with Julius Caesar back in the day?" I squealed.

"You could say that…"

I turned towards him in my seat, wanting him to continue.

"I was fighting in the pits after the slave rebellion Spartacus led. I was by his side through the whole of it, but a lot of us got captured. Aro found me fighting for my life in the pits, liked how 'brutal and cunning' I was, and changed me."

"Wow. What is your name?"

"It can't be Cal?" He asked.

"Well…it…I just figured…"

"Caladus." He interrupted my rambling.

"You're the Caladus? You were in a book I read. 'Caladus the Thracian makes all the girls sigh." I quoted. How true.

He laughed. "Women were attracted to all of the gladiators."

"Yes." I got lost in my whirling thoughts. Why would Aro pick Cal? What made him special? Why not Spartacus, the one who led the rebellion?

"Aro likes to change people who he thinks will have amazing gifts." Cal told me, reading my mind. Again.

"And was he right? With you, I mean?"

He remained quiet for some time. So long, I figured he wasn't going to answer me. I slumped back down in my seat.

"When I fought in the pits, and in the arena…I always looked at the logical ways to make the kill. I never relied on brawn alone, as some did. Tactics were everything to me. After I was changed, I realized that I knew the quickest way to kill a person. Or a vampire. Most gifts have no effect on me, such as yours. I can also feel a person's weakness, their Achilles Heel, if you will. I was very good as a human and unstoppable as I am now." He said at last. At least now I knew why everyone was so afraid of him.

"Why do you hate Aro?" I wondered aloud.

"He killed my family in front of me and changed me. The only thing that stopped me from killing him when the change was complete was the fact that I knew I couldn't take on the entire guard, and still be intact enough to kill him. Instinct told me to bide my time. Now feels right." He concluded.

"What about me? Am I a tactical choice?"

"You were to begin with."

"And now?"

"Now…we're closer than I've ever been to someone. Now you mean something to me. Most vampires I know have some knowledge of my abilities, but you've never been afraid like them. That's why I was hesitant to tell you. You are also the only person alive I can't feel a way to kill." He looked at me for a second, and reached out to touch my cheek. He withdrew his hand before he touched me and set his eyes back on the road. "But one or both of us could die when we go to Italy." He added quickly. I knew he was avoiding getting closer to me in case I died. I hadn't been smart enough to keep myself detached from him. And it was too late for me to start being neutral now.

"Then why are we doing this?" I asked.

That stumped him. I guess he wasn't as tactical with words as he was with fighting. I nodded to answer myself, and turned to look out the window. We met the others at the gas station and we all filled up our cars. Cal, of course, pulled out first. The others followed him like a convoy deep into Rome.