A/N: This story is sort of a variation from "Eclipse" and "The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner", both by Stephenie Meyer. Reading the Bree Novella by SM is pretty much essential in order to understand this story, as it contains numerous references to the books.
Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight world with all its characters. I receive no benefits (other than my own pleasure) from this story.
"Take care of that, Felix," Jane said indifferently, nodding at me. "I want to go home."
"Don't watch," the redheaded mind reader whispered.
I closed my eyes.
-The Short Second Life Of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer, p.178 –
I waited for the pain, but this time it never came. Not daring to open my eyes, I kept my crouching position, still waiting.
Then I heard the mind reader speak again. His voice was urgent, with a hint of desperation.
"Jane, Felix, wait!"
"This is better be good, my friend," Jane spat. Felix – that seemed to be the name of the monster of a man in the dark cloak – didn't release the hold he had on my shirt, but he did stop doing from whatever he was planning on doing.
"It is! Jane, she has a talent!" Okay, so now I was a little insulted. The redhead clearly said that just to try and save my miserable butt, but still, did he have sound so astonished? I wasn't stupid or completely without skills; I think that the fact I was still alive was proof of it.
"Really, now?" Jane didn't sound impressed in the slightest. "And what, pray tell, might that be?"
I opened my eyes and tried to glance around inconspicuously. Felix was still grabbing my collar, but had turned his enormous head towards Jane and the others. I did the same.
Jane looked bored – that seemed to be the only human expression she was capable of.
"I –I don't know yet," he said quietly. "But it definitely is there – she's still too young to recognize it herself, so I don't know exactly what it is – only that it is a potentially very powerful gift."
Jane looked the same as I felt: dubious. I was certain the redhead was making this up as he went, although I couldn't fathom why he would bother. The thought of me having some kind of magical super-talent was ludicrous – I was sure that had I really possessed something as powerful as mind reading for example, I would have figured out Riley's lies right away and found a way save myself. And Diego.
I felt a painful jolt of longing when I thought about Diego. Had there really been a way to save him? What if I really had some kind of power, but had been too stupid to get a hang on to it before? But what about Freaky Fred? He wasn't much older than I was but had figured out his special ability almost instantly. No. It was impossible.
Nevertheless, if this lie would be the one that saved me from death – the second and the final one, for sure – then I would go with it.
Anyway, it seemed too soon to feel relief yet, as Jane was still looking the mind reader in disbelief.
"Do you think I was turned yesterday?" she asked him with her childish voice. "I don't know why you bother defending that," – she gestured at my direction with her head – "but I really don't have time to stay and find out either." She raised her hand and pointed at me, looking at her companion. "Felix –"
"What about Aro?"
Jane let out an irritated snarl and turned back to the yellow-eyes.
"What if her talent is something he would have been interested about – surely you know how intrigued he is about my ability? Or Alice's."
Jane's expression was positively lethal now. I could tell that she didn't like where this discussion was heading, but couldn't ignore it anymore, either.
"Yes. I know."
"Are you really willing to risk...upsetting him?" I didn't know who this "Aro" was, but judging by the shiver that went through all four with the grey coats, I reckoned he was somebody even more powerful. Maybe I was good not knowing him. I silently cheered for the redhead. He had obviously pulled from the right string.
"Do you honestly suggest that I drag this infant with all its tantrums and uncontrollable impulses back to Italy with me, just so that Aro can have his fun? Assuming that I don't kill it myself before we get there?"
"I suggest that we bring her to Italy when she has passed her newborn phase." That was Carlisle. Only now did I realize that no one else had taken a part in discussion before. I didn't know the yellow-eyes, but based on my observations in this short time there was no hesitation as to which coven I would rather follow. Even with the scary blond guy, Jasper, I felt that first time after Diego I could really trust someone.
"And how do I know that you won't turn her mind against Volturi like you have done with your other children?" Jane spat out the last word with a mocking sneer.
"I have done no such thing," Carlisle replied calmly. "Aro is my oldest friend and the differences in our life styles and opinions in certain matters don't change that fact. What my son – my family – is offering is a favour to the Volturi."
Jane didn't say anything, her face remaining inexpressive, so he continued.
"Jasper here has experience with newly turned vampires – we would return her back to Aro as fully trained, well controlled and useful immortal."
"And no doubt, vegetarian," Jane added sourly, but didn't look like she was planning to kill me anymore. Right now, anyway.
"She would of course have to adjust into our life style while staying with us," the patriarch answered evenly.
Jane seemed to contemplate all that for a short moment. I stole a glance to the mind reader's direction to get a clue about the outcome of this. To my utter astonishment, he winked at me. It was so quick and inconspicuous that I almost missed it. His expression remained the same and his hand continued stroking the girl's lower back. I noticed that the girl was looking straight at me and when she got my eye, she smiled at me shyly. What was wrong with this human? My throat was burning and now the sweetness of her blood hit me again with full force. The distraction was gone and the only thing that kept me in my place was Felix's tight grip on my shirt. I had to bite my tongue to keep myself from snarling. I really didn't want to draw Jane's attention back to myself.
"Fine." Jane spoke again. "You will have one year to train her and to uncover her hidden talent, if there really is such a thing. Bear in mind – if she turns out to be just another mindless newborn, we will dispose of her and punish the one that has led us wrong." She narrowed her eyes at the mind reader. "If you, however, are right, Aro will surely be only too willing to join her to the Guard of Volterra."
I really didn't like the sound of that, but it bought me at least one more year of existence. I could learn how to control my thirst around humans like Carlisle and his clan and I would try and find Fred, see how he was doing.
"Wonderful," Carlisle said and looked pointedly at Jasper. He quickly moved to my other side, putting restraining hand on my shoulder. Felix moved back to Jane's side instantly. The two others joined them and bored expression was back at Jane's face.
"One year," she reminded, before turning her back to us. They exited the clearing majestically but quickly.
When there was no more sign of grey cloaks I let out a breath that I hadn't realize I was holding.
It was a mistake, as it turned out and first of many I was to do on that same day. The human girl's impossibly alluring scent was stronger than ever. I noticed that she was breathing faster, like in gasps, and had buried her head into redhead's chest. Her long hair fanned all around her and I could see sliver of her white neck exposed. Redhead turned his head sharply at me and let out a snarl. It was hard to believe that he had actually winked at me only a few moments ago.
"First rule for your survival," Jasper said coldly from my side. "Learn to control your thirst."
"Jasper," Esme, Carlisle's mate, admonished. "She's young."
"I know that, Esme. That's why she needs to learn."
"Jasper's right." It was the mind-reader. He looked at me as he said: "Bree, if you want to stay with us – and alive – you really need to do as we say and if you as much as much as take a whiff at Bella unsupervised-." He didn't finish his threat, but he really didn't have to. I was pretty sure I got the idea anyway.
Trying to ignore the scorching thirst in my throat I spoke aloud for the first time for what seemed like days.
"I will do anything you say, I promise. Just let me live."
"Good." That was Carlisle again. "The first and the most important rule is this: we don't hunt humans."
A/N: This chapter is short, and although the next ones will be a tad longer, I am purposefully keeping them in moderate lengths in order to keep the story moving.
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