A.N: I'm updating. Yay for updates! I would love to thank the lovely PTB betas who updated this and fixed my punctuation problems, because I suck at punctuation. Now, without further ado, let's get to number six.

Warning: This chapter has character death and is a little gruesome, just in case such things bother you.

Six. The Girl Who Cut Deals

"Are you going to be okay, little bro?"

I scowled at Emmett, who sat on the porch, watching me purge my system of the alcohol. I wasn't sure how Bella had manage to get so good at that damn cup game, but my plan to get her drunk had backfired.

In fact, many things had backfired, like my attempt to get under Isabella's skin with charm. Rather than simply mesmerizing her like I did most humans, I ended up in that earth-shattering lip lock with her.

Still, I had gotten under her skin.

"What's with that ridiculous grin on your face?" Emmett asked, looking at me with a raised brow.

"Nothing, just thinking about something."

"Something as in a hot make out session with the girl you were supposed to be getting drunk? Yeah, Rose is pissed about that. Don't look so surprised, Edward. Crowley went around telling everyone about it." Emmett put his hands in his pocket and watched me. "Are you sure you're up to this? Getting answers from the Swan girl? Because you seem to be getting a little too involved, Edward. I'd hate to see you end up hurt."

"Emmett, I've been around slightly longer than you," I informed him dryly. "I think I know what I'm doing."

"Age doesn't mean much in this situation, Edward. It's all about experience, and when it comes to creatures like Isabella Swan, we have none."

Morning Star…

The thought came to me in Angela's voice and was the clearest thought I'd ever had from her. I whipped my head around to see her standing at the corner of the house. Emmett and I had been so caught up in our conversation that we had missed her approach.

"Can we help you?" Emmett asked in a pleasant voice, though his eyes were dark with displeasure.

Maybe … black … leave…

The thoughts were back to fragments, and Angela eyed Emmett like a frightened doe.

"I was looking for Bella, but I see she's not here. Maybe she's out back with the other party-goers. I hope you feel better soon, Edward."

Angela made a quick getaway, and I bit out a curse when she disappeared from sight and smacked Emmett on the shoulder.

"What was that for?" he demanded with a yelp, rubbing the limb.

"I was actually getting something from her before you went all dark prince on her," I snarled back.

"I was very pleasant. Besides, how was I supposed to know you were getting a thought? You've gotten nothing from her up until now. What did she think?"

"Morning Star," I murmured, more to myself than to Emmett. It had almost sounded as though she were correcting something.

"Morning Star? You're all pissy because she thought the words Morning Star? Obviously you were getting nothing," Emmett scoffed. "Look, it seems to me that this night is a bust. Isabella's disappeared, and you seem to finally have your-"

Edward, we need you and Emmett to help us, now!

"—maybe we should just go— Hey! What's up?" Emmett yelped as I grabbed his arm without a word and started to drag him into the forest.

"It's Alice. She just said she needed help, and her thoughts were showing Jasper all feral. Something is very, very wrong."

Once Emmett and I entered the forest, we broke into a run. Jasper's thoughts joined those of Alice and Rose in my mind.

So good. I just want to tear. Drain.

I sped up even more, leaving Emmett behind to follow me to our destination. The voices in my mind began to join together, so that I couldn't make out the separate thoughts. Rose faded into Alice who faded into Jasper who faded into … Lauren Mallory? I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach that worsened as the wind blue in my face, bringing with it the scent of human blood.

What I came upon was nothing short of a nightmare. Rose and Alice held a snarling Jasper against a tree while, several feet away, Lauren's torn body lay, bleeding onto the carpet of leaves that covered the forest's floor. She was still alive, but it was only a matter of time before that life came to a halt. I could tell by the garbled sounds of her breaths that Jasper had torn out her throat.

"Get him the hell away from here," I said to Alice, Rosalie, and Emmett, who had finally caught up to me. Emmett moved to help the girls drag Jasper away, but before he reached them, Jasper tore free from their grasp. He snarled at all four of us and shot a look of longing at Lauren's dying body before turning on his heel and running deeper into the forest. Emmett and the girls tore after him; Alice sent me a quick thought as they moved.

Take care of Lauren.

I stared down at Lauren's dying body. She whimpered, looking up at me in pain. The venom was moving through her system, and I knew if I didn't move soon, the burning would soon consume her.

"I'm so sorry, Lauren," I whispered, reaching down to grasp her head in my hands. She looked at me, her expression a mix of confusion and pain as she attempted to garble something at me, but her ruined throat meant the words weren't understandable. I shut my eyes and clenched my teeth, wrenching her head hard. I felt the skin and bones tear, her head coming away from her body. It was the only way I could be sure the venom didn't do its job and turn her. Had I been capable, I would have thrown up, but with all the beer out of my system, I wasn't able. Instead, I dragged Lauren's body further into the forest, purposely making sure that her body was as undistinguishable as possible. By the time I was done, her body looked as if it had been ravaged by an animal. The police would inevitably assume that Lauren had wandered drunkenly into the forest and been attacked by a wolf, or possibly a wild cat of some sort, and dragged through the forest, while the sound of the party kept the attack from being heard. My family would never be looked at twice, and that thought made me feel disgusted. We were monsters, but we would never be judged for it, and an innocent's girl's death would go unavenged.

I finished with Lauren's body and looked around, unsure whether I should go home to set up our cover story, should we need it, or go after the Jasper with the others when I smelled Isabella. It was close, very close, and I could hear her voice along with another's, yet it was only her smell I could distinguish. I moved towards the voices, coming to a halt between two trees on the outside of a clearing. Bella spoke to something that could only be described as a shadow.

"Remember, the rest of the payment will be given when you fulfill your end of the bargain. If you fail, you won't like the consequences." She spoke the threat as if saying such things were completely natural while she surveyed a snowy white bandage that had been tied to her arm.

"Consequences rarely are enjoyable. If you'll excuse me, I have some work to do," the shadow replied before it melted away. If I hadn't heard its voice, a voice that sent more than just a tremor of fear throughout my whole body, I would've thought I had just imagined the creature.

Bella watched the place where the creature had been for a moment before she spun on her heel to walk in my direction. She came to an immediate halt as soon as she saw me; her eyes shuttered and showed me nothing. I stared into her pale, lovely face, a terrible feeling hitting me like a freight train.

I wasn't sure how, but I knew, deep in my gut, that Isabella Swan had somehow been involved with Jasper's attack on Lauren. I stared into her eyes, eyes that could show me everything and nothing at the same time, and felt a wave of regret as I realized that I would have to kill her. She had hurt my family, and they would demand nothing less than blood.

"How did you do it?" I asked softly, jumping right into the heart of everything that was happening. "How could you do it? Does it not bother you that Lauren is dead because of you?"

Isabella watched me through those shuttered eyes, and for a moment, I was certain that she was going to deny her involvement. I was prepared to wring her neck to get answers if necessary. Then she shrugged.

"Lauren, was it? Well, at least it wasn't anyone that will be a great loss to the world. Honestly, if he had managed to get his teeth into Ben Cheney, I think I may have felt a little bit of regret."

I was in front of her in seconds, snarling into her beautiful face.

"Why us? Why did you feel the need to destroy everything we've worked so hard for?"

"Would you believe me if I said because I could? Of course you would; I'd make you believe me." She turned her back to me and walked to a fallen log, where she lounged lazily along its length. "But for some odd reason, I don't wish to lie to you right now, so I'll give you the truth. I was hired to target your family, Edward. By those your patriarch considers his great friends." She surveyed me beneath her long lashes. "Were I you, I wouldn't be asking why I'm targeting you, but rather why the Volturi wish me to."

I felt stunned at her words. Aro, Caius, and Marcus were the equivalent of royalty in the vampire world. They made sure all vampires followed the one law of our world: never be discovered. Carlisle had spent several years with them and considered them friends despite their differences in opinion.

"You work for the Volturi." My lips felt numb as I said the words.

Isabella snorted derisively.

"Hardly. I work for a much higher power than Aro." She surveyed her fingernails, as if bored with our conversation. "You know, the shadow didn't force Jasper to kill Mallory. It just offers up the temptation. Whether or not to accept it was entirely up to Jasper."

"The echo," I murmured. "That was the voice I heard in Jasper's head. It sounded like him, but not quite."

"Really?" Isabella sat up, actually looking interested. "So that's how it works. Well, damn. If I'd known it was as simple as that, I probably could've found someone to do the work cheaper." She sat back, crossing her arms and pouting, and I found myself glaring at her.

"You don't feel the least bit remorseful, do you?" I demanded.

"I don't feel remorse. Just like I don't feel love." She looked at me, her pout turning into a frown. "I'm not capable of it, Edward. I never have been."

I could have sworn there was a note of longing in her voice, but before I could dwell on it, a blur went rushing past me for Isabella's throat.

"You bitch!"

It was Alice, and I realized that I wouldn't be the one to kill Isabella. No, it would be Alice, except…

There was a loud snap as Alice broke the log in half where Isabella had been lounging, rather than the girl herself. Alice looked around angrily, her eyes snapping with more fury than I've ever seen.

"Temper, temper, Miss Cullen," drawled Isabella in a mocking voice. Except there was a guttural sound to it, and it came from above us. Both Alice and I looked up, but there was nothing there. I heard a thud behind me and spun around. There Isabella stood, looking a little ruffled, almost windblown, but none the worse for wear.

"This is your fault. I know it is," Alice snarled, catapulting herself at Isabella once more. This time, I caught her and held her back. Alice fought against me, her thoughts screaming that I was a traitor letting my dick do my thinking. I ignored them.

"I want answers," I said to Isabella. "What was that thing, and what did it mean by payment?"

Isabella ignored me, instead looking at Alice.

"Are you really angry at me, or are you just mad that you weren't enough to keep him from giving into temptation? Yell and scream at me all you want, Mary Alice Brandon, but Jasper is the one who killed the girl. Had he wanted to, he could have resisted temptation. But Jasper knows something that the rest of your family just doesn't seem to get. You. Are. Fucking. Vampires. You kill, you're at the top of the food chain, and you shouldn't expect Jasper to fall into Carlisle's idealistic way of thinking. Not if you love him, and not if you want to survive. Because I'm the least of your problems, Alice." Bella looked at me, and I realized that her eyes once again glowed red. "I've told you all that I'm going to, Edward. Now it's up to you to decide what to do with that knowledge."

She turned to walk away, and Alice begged me to let her go, to let her rip Isabella to shreds, but I found myself refusing. Not just because I wasn't entirely sure that it wouldn't be Isabella doing the ripping, but because something else, a sixth sense perhaps, told me that killing Isabella right now would be a very, very bad idea.

"Why did you tell me?" I asked her retreating back. "About Aro."

She paused and there was silence as she debated whether or not to answer.

"Against my better judgement," she said at last. "I find myself caring about whether you live or die. Your family I could care less about … but you…" She shook her head and began to walk again.

"What does Morning Star mean?" I shouted after her, but this time she didn't even slow down her steps. I watched her figure disappear into the trees.

It wasn't until I was left in a clearing, devoid of anyone but me and Alice, who was dry sobbing in my arms, that I realized she had gone in the opposite direction of the party.

A.N2: So, now we get to the real good stuff. Can anyone guess how Bella got away from Alice? Hint: It was mentioned earlier in the story as an ability Bella didn't have.

On another note, I sent most of the previous chapter's reviewers a message giving them an e-mail and password that would allow them to access a hotmail account where I would be putting spoilers. Here it is for everyone else:

dwtdd_online hotmail . com

password: morningstar

You can also reply and ask questions, although I can't guarantee they'll be answered.

Finally, everyone should check out the Fandom Fights Tsunami. There are several awesome authors contributing, and you'll get a whole long compilation for donating just a little bit to the Japanese Tsunami relief.

http : / fandomfightstsunami . blogspot .com /

Please remember to take the spaces out of all links/email addresses given.