"Come now, child. There isn't much time."
My eyes opened warily at the sound of an unfamiliar voice. A tall, dark-haired man was standing by my bed, removing clothes from the steel dresser draws as he spoke to me in a soft voice.
I watched him drape a couple of items over his arms before pulling the blanket off the bed without worrying about jostling me on the foam mattress.
"It's all right, get up. The more time you take the more likely it is we'll have to run. Here, put these on, the detergent should mask your scent a bit." He handed me the pile of clothes then stood back and shook out the blanket.
Too scared to move, I just watched him for a minute. Once the itchy hospital blanket was untangled he stepped back over to me and wordlessly began dressing me in the clothes, over the top of my pajamas. His hands were as cold as Jasper and James' but he wasn't being rough like they'd been.
"Curl into a ball, wrap your arms around your legs," he instructed and picked up the blanket again. I loosened my arms from around my stomach and slipped my knees up into the circle. "Good girl, I'm going to wrap you up and put you in a laundry bag. I'll try not to bump into things but if someone's watching I can't very well worry about 'laundry' so I apologize in advance. Try not a move."
I nodded without a word. Something told me that he was to be trusted, maybe the way he was giving me options – ultimately leading to the same end, but options nonetheless.
He bundled me up in the blanket leaving my head out so I could breathe and then started pulling the laundry sack up around the bottom.
"If I drop you for some reason, count to two hundred without moving at all and then if I still don't come back then get out and run. It doesn't matter where, just run."
Without waiting for a response from me, the man pulled the bag up over my head and cinched the tie shut. I was pulled up smoothly then and could feel it when the bag hit the ground and he started walking with me dragging behind.
The bag was thin and I could see the lights going overhead. I wanted to shut my eyes, thinking in some way that it would help me stay hidden, but I wanted to see as well since if I was caught it would be the last time I would ever leave my room again.
If I survived.
The movement continued for what seemed like a long time. There were several turns and then I felt myself rising when we entered what I could only assume was the elevator. I remembered vaguely from when I'd been brought in that once we came up to the ground floor we would literally walk out into the lobby and have all manner of doctors and nurses swarming around.
I held perfectly still now and stopped breathing entirely.
The noise that hit when the doors open was nearly deafening. After so many years in solitude, hearing what must have been dozens—possibly even hundreds—of people all talking at once was like a roar at a football game or a concert.
It was very rough then as the man had warned me before; he couldn't be careful now with people thinking I was a bag of laundry. The blanket provided some padding, though I still had to clench my teeth and squeeze my eyes shut to keep from screaming in pain when I hit each step on the way out.
For a short second, I was still again, and then upon the next step I felt the cold of the outside air penetrating the bag. Now there weren't as many people watching, the man lifted me off the ground completely and walked faster down a second set of steps outside the hospital.
An unusual sense of hope began to fill me then. I was outside and no one had stopped us. But then the question remained, would the man let me go, or did he have some kind of plans for me like the other two and simply used a more polite bedside manner to get me to come willingly.
The next time I hit the ground I could feel sticks underneath me and the top of the bag was pulled open a moment later.
"This next part is going to be pretty rough. If you're going to throw up I'd appreciate if you told me," the man said, staring down at me like he actually expected a response this time.
I nodded. "Okay."
He didn't close the bag again, this time he simply picked me up like it was no effort at all and then a second later I was pressed back hard into him by the force from the high-speeds we were travelling forward.
When I focused back on the present I found myself looking straight into Edward's eyes, still encased in Rosalie's arms.
And he looked as mortified as I knew I must have.
"What happened?" he asked softly. "What triggered it?"
I shook my head, knowing he'd hear my thoughts and get that I didn't know.
"It just started. I recognized J-Jasper . . ." My voice quickly disappeared again, choking on the words I absolutely did not want to be saying.
"I saw that much in Emmett's head," he replied.
"What is he doing to him?"
Edward's mouth pulled into a tighter line. "I don't know. I left before he really got into it."
"Can you go back and make sure Emmett doesn't kill him?" I asked with the rasp that was that was left of my voice.
"He won't," Edward said with certainty. "He wouldn't let him get out of it that easy from what I saw. What I'm really wondering is if you spent much time with the man after he saved you, and if he was the one that turned you."
"I don't care," I stated, shaking my head. "He's not here now. And if anything he's the reason I'm alive. I'm really wondering if Jasper has ever been sincere, or if this is just some game."
His tension seemed to increase ten-fold then. I could see the blame starting to work its way in.
"I never saw anything. Nothing in his thoughts has ever given me reason to believe that he knew you before he says he did or that he had known James before."
A sense of embarrassment and humiliation filled me slowly as it dawned on me that I had outwardly and openly put all my trust and affections into someone who had planned to kill me. I'd been so blind and trusting of him thanks to my vision of us that I had literally been sleeping with my enemy.
"Oh my god," I muttered under my breath. "How did I not see it?"
Rosalie's arms tightened around me automatically. "We see what we want to see in some cases. It's not your fault, Alice. I didn't see it with Royce. They don't let you see the monster hiding within them. If they want to get to you and they're good enough at hiding it you won't know until it's too late."
I understood now a little bit better why Rose was the way she was with men. Even after almost eighty years with Emmett, I could still see how she kept him ever-so-slightly away from her. He was still within her very small trusted circle, but not close enough that he could hurt her like Royce had without her being able to defend herself.
"What do I do now?"