A/N: Yes, I know this has taken a very long time to get updated, but I have a good excuse! Okay, maybe it's not so good, but I went through to edit every single chapter and, wouldn't you know it, my computer has crapped out on me twice. The first time was my fault because I pressed "no" to save it, but just the other day, my computer totally died on me. I'm using my brother's computer for now in the hope that I can stay up to day and get my new one soon. RIP JC's Laptop...
But I do want to thank everyone who's kept this on alert or just randomly found it buried in the pile of abandoned fic. I swear, this is NOT abandoned and it will be updated more often.
I knew that I was coming up on Maria's camp just from the scents I was getting as well as the feeling of chaos. Among the newborn armies, it was strong enough that you didn't need Jasper's ability to feel it. This was the one place I never wanted to return after I had left, but this was the second time I was returning of my free will. This was also the time that I would not be leaving again. At least not without my mate.
As I walked closer towards the base, towards my mate, I couldn't help but think about the discussion that we'd had while waiting for Demetri to show up.
"You'd seen Bella before," Emmett said. "Why didn't you and Alice know about her being Peter's mate when we first saw her?"
My attention was turned to my brother and his family. I had been zoned out for the past few days, trying to come up with plans of how to find my mate and that bitch who took her. It was hard for me not to go massacre the entire town of Forks, but I was able to fight it by reminding myself that this was my mate's home and she would be angry at me if I harmed anyone.
"I didn't ever see her face," Alice spoke up. "I just saw her curled up in a cage at Maria's base. I didn't realize... not until Peter decided to come here."
Jasper glared at Emmett in anger. "If you remember, none of y'all would allow me near her until we had to deal with the nomads," he stated. "If I would have had more than thirty seconds with her, I would have known."
"That's what you meant when you told her that she was worth it," Alice whispered. "In the car on the way to Phoenix. You said that she was worth it."
He nodded in agreement. "I would have died if it meant keeping her safe so she could be with my real brother."
Coming back to myself, I found that I was surrounded by newborns. However, they knew who I was and would not attack. Harming me would displease Maria more than anything and they all knew it too well. However, they were not against making positive that I would not be leaving anytime soon.
"Ah, Captain," Maria's voice reached my ears, causing my lip to curl back in a snarl as I looked to see that she had my mate by the wrist. "It's so wonderful to see you again."
That bitch had better not have harmed my mate.
"Let her go, Maria."
That was when my mate looked up at me. She looked thinner than she had the last time I had seen her and her clothes were caked in dirt and grime. Maria certainly hadn't been the kindest hostess, but I wouldn't expect anything less from her. In my mate's eyes was hope. Hope that I was here to take her away once again, that we would never have to come back to this place again. I was going to disappoint her, but it was the only way.
I am sorry, my mate.
"Peter!" My mate ran into my arms and I could feel her tears running into my shirt. I shushed her, running my fingers through her hair. "Peter..."
"It's alright, Isabella." My face was buried in her hair, taking in her familiar scent as I spoke to her. "I'm here. You're safe now."
"How beautiful," Maria spoke at speed too fast for my mate to catch.
I pushed my mate behind me, growling in warning. Anyone who dared touch my mate would be destroyed on the spot. No one would be stupid enough to come between the two of us, especially if they understood the bond of mates.
"I have a proposition for you, Maria."
"This wouldn't happen to be the same as last time," she said, a smile in her voice. "I don't see or smell the major. You came alone this time."
"No. I know that you will not allow us to leave." I could feel my mate's questioning gaze on me. What she didn't know, though, was that in vampire relationships, it was the male who had the final say in everything. The female didn't even have to be clued in on what was going on. "I will rejoin you, but I want to be the one to bite Isabella. I also do not want any others in your army near her."
I turned to face my mate, staring down into her eyes. I knew that there was pain in both my eyes and my expression. This was not how I had wanted to turn her, though I knew from my ability that I would never have been able to change her how I wanted to. I had wanted to do it in seclusion on a private island where we could be at peace before returning to the Cullens' where she would be the one to ultimately decide our diet.
Brushing my lips against hers, I smiled as she gripped my shirt. "I won't leave you," I promised, kissing the corner of her lips. "It will be alright, Isabella. Trust me."
We can only get through this if we trust each other.
"With my life." Her voice was nothing more than a whisper.
I brushed her tear away before grasping her wrist and bringing it up to my mouth. I licked the scar before stating, "This will be my mark now."
You will only have my mark on you, my mate.
I bit down on her hand, replacing the bite from the nomad with my own. It would forever be my venom running in her veins, no one else's. We would be forced to remain in this army, though she would never see battle if I had any say, which I probably would. I had more experience than any other vampire Maria had working for her. That much I knew.
After biting my mate's neck, I could feel a familiar tingling in my neck which I had never felt before. My mate's touch was pulling that feeling away, which I couldn't understand. I had never heard of anything like this happening before. However, I had never known of a vampire who had changed his own mate into one of our kind.
Suddenly, Isabella was pulled from my arms, causing a snarl to come from my mouth. Before I could stop the vampire who dared take my mate from me, I was consumed by a pain that I had only felt once before and that was when I had originally been turned. The pain was absolutely unbearable, though I could still tell what was going on around me, which I knew was better than how my mate was fairing.
"Take him to the newborns' quarters," Maria's voice stated, causing me to snarl as I was lifted by another one of her army. "Alexander, come. It is time for you to do your job."
For three days, I let the fire consume me. There was only one member of the army who conversed with me. Her name was Scarlet, a vampire who had been turned by Maria over seven months ago. She had the ability to see true mates and had seen that Isabella and I were mates. She explained to me about Alexander's ability and how Maria was planning to make Isabella forget me. She would also sit and care for me while I cried out, feeling my mate's pain as if it were my own.
On the final day, I was able to get up and move around. Unfortunately, that was also the day that Maria had decided to come visit me. One day, I was going to kill that bitch for putting me through years of hell.
"Are you ready to get to work?" I let loose a growl at her. "Remember, Captain, I have your mate. One wrong move and I shall kill her." I bowed my head in submission, knowing that I would do anything to keep my mate safe. "Would you like to see your little mate?"
I nodded and followed my Mistress to her personal quarters where I could sense my mate. The only problem, though, was that I knew that something was off. Whether it was because of my ability or just my connection with my mate, I didn't know. What I did know was that Maria would be killed if there was a single hair missing from my mate's head.
As I walked through the door, I sensed something coming at me, causing me to grab whatever it was on reflex. Looking up, I saw my mate in my arms, but she wasn't mine at the same time. She was a feral newborn just like the others and she was trying to bite me, which I would not allow to happen.
"Isabella, calm," I stated. "It's me."
"You," her voice was a hiss. "You turned me. You made me like this. You took me from my family."
"Oh, it's a wonder what Alexander's ability is capable of," Maria laughed, getting another snarl in response from me. "He is the only one who can reverse his ability. The only problem, though, is that he has used up his usefulness and is now a pile of ash."
I let go of Isabella and dropped to my knees. Maria hadn't forgotten the secret that most vampires didn't know. When a human was in the process of changing, everything weakened before growing stronger. The body, the mind, even the soul if that were at all possible. If a human with a very strong mind - the rare ability my mate and very few others possessed included - was changed, the weakening was included in their mind or ability. There was only a small window to get away with using the weakened state and it was obvious she had done that.
My own mate didn't recognize me; I was just the vampire who took her human life from her. I didn't know how I was going to return to Jasper with her as she was. I was a stranger to her.