We had spent the day in leisure, knowing that once the family was home, our time alone would be at a minimum. Currently, we were outside in the garden; Jasper was playing his guitar and I sat next to him. Occasionally I would sing along to whatever tune he played, but mostly just watching the night sky for the meteors I had never been able to see as a human. I loved them.
"I think I'd like to go to grad school. Study the stars."
Jasper paused for a moment in his playing and looked over at me.
"You should. It's been awhile since I've been, but it's the one scholastic experience I've never minded repeating."
He started playing again and I smiled. I loved how he encouraged me.
"What would you study, Jas?"
"I'm not sure, I've never pursued any advanced degrees in science, but I wouldn't mind chemistry or geology. Then again, perhaps I'll work while you study, post graduate work in history or a museum or something."
We lapsed into silence again; I was contemplating what the future would hold once this situation with the Volturi was resolved.
It wasn't long before we heard the sound of a car heading up the drive. I turned to look at Jasper and the corners of his mouth turned up slightly. I returned his smile. I desperately wanted a hug from Emmett but I was already missing the sweet respite of time alone with my mate. Jas stood, his guitar in one hand and the other offered to me. I gladly laced my fingers through his as I stood and we headed toward the front of the house, cutting through the house so Jasper could drop his guitar in our room before we walked out onto the front porch just as the Escalade was coming into view. Emmett was driving and my vision fogged with tears of venom that could never fall. Jasper pulled me close for a moment before we both went down the steps to meet our family.
Emmett was out of the driver's door in less than a second after putting the vehicle into park. I dropped Jas' hand and ran to meet my big brother. He caught me in a giant hug that lifted me off my feet and I returned it with all my strength. He was just setting me back down when Rose embraced me with a hug of her own.
"I love you both, so much," I turned to face Emmett, "Especially you. Thank you."
My words didn't feel adequate, but they were all I had, well that and an empath for a mate. Jasper took what I was feeling and reflected it to Emmett and Rose. I leaned into him, expressing my own gratitude for him.
Of course, Emmett being Emmett, started whistling Love Potion #9 and the whole family started laughing as the joined the four of us in front of the steps. Carlisle came to stand next to Jasper and I and clapping Jas on the shoulder he cleared his throat to catch our attention.
"It's nice to have the family back together, but we have much to discuss. Shall we?"
I frowned; I wasn't looking forward to this meeting at all. I turned to Jasper but he was looking at Alice with his head tilted to the side. He noticed my gaze and turned to me, holding me back while the rest of the family filed into the house. He leaned down to whisper quietly in my ear so only I could hear.
"Alice is very upset about something, a vision would be my guess."
My frown deepened and he squeezed my hand, "I promise darlin', no matter what, I'll take care of you."
I couldn't help but smile at that and we headed into the house. Once again, two open seats had been left between Carlisle and Emmett. I sat next to my big brother. Once we settled into our seats Carlisle began.
"I've already shared with everyone what you told me about Demetri, Jasper, but I think it would be a good idea for everyone to hear directly from you."
Jasper nodded and a moment lapsed before he began, and when he did it was the confident fighter who spoke and he commanded respect without effort, even from those he held most dear.
"Their errand was innocent enough, they were here merely to see that Bella was indeed no longer human. However, Demetri became increasingly agitated throughout our short exchange. As you all know, he is an incredibly skilled tracker. He takes extreme pride in this. Bella has always been invisible to him, but I suspect, due to his behavior, that I am now as well. I've known Demetri for some time and he will not let this rest. He will pursue an explanation for his inability to track me and he is quite close to Caius. I would not be surprised if he tried to convince him that Bella needed to be recruited – by whatever means necessary – simply to satisfy his need to know."
He paused for a moment, taking in the reactions of everyone in the room before he continued. His next words left me no doubt as to his skill as a strategist. He was able to take abstract clues and piece them into coherency, specifically, a question.
"Alice, what decision have the Volturi made?"
There you go dear readers - a heartfelt apology for both the delay and the short length of this chapter (think of it more as a taste for the longer one to come), I hope that you guys haven't given up on me. Unfortunately, I can't promise when the next chapter will be out. I'm in the middle of a hectic span of my life – my research and current world events are coalescing in such a way that I have very little spare time and with the passage of time it's sometimes hard to get back "in" to the story. However, I do promise it will not be abandoned. Thank you again for all your reviews and PMs and tweets. Feel free to stalk me there, same as my pen name.