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I froze, the Police were here? I was torn between being happy and petrified. If I was found then I would be back with Bella and my family and my nightmare would be over, but the other part of me wondered how far Aro's reach extended. If he was locked up, would I have to testify against him? If I did, would they be able to guarantee my families safety? These questions would have to wait; I needed to be found first.
Watching as the people gathered around the edge of the pool vanished. The shouts and panic as they left, gave me comfort. I managed to make my way to the wall where I pressed my back against the cold, hard surface. I closed my eyes and waited for my rescue.
My arm was grabbed and my eyes opened, expecting to see a Police officer in front of me, but no, it was Laurent.
"We need to get out of here, now. Come with me," he hissed. I didn't move and he turned to stare at me. "Cullen, you need to move!"
I shook my head slowly, denying his demand. I couldn't find the words. The look on his face said that he wasn't taking in my reaction. Managing to find the strength from somewhere, I uttered, "No."
Instinctively, I moved away from Laurent, but he took a step toward me. I kept moving, but it was no use as I found myself in a corner. He raised his hands to me, showing that he meant me no harm. His mouth opened, but whatever he was going to say was drowned out by a much louder, deeper voice that struck fear into me. It was Felix, "Laurent! What're you fucking around for? You know that we've to get outta here. Master has already gone ahead. We just need to get Cullen outta of here." He paused for a moment, looking between the pair of us, quizzically. In that moment, I realized that any hope I had of getting out of here, were fruitless. "Is there a problem down here?"
Laurent looked directly at me, and I closed my eyes in acknowledgement that I had no choice, so I held my wrists out to be cuffed. Laurent grabbed my left wrist and dragged me toward the steps. Tonight wasn't going to be the night that I saw freedom. Once again…my heart sank.
Once we were out of the pool, Felix indicated that we should follow him, so without question, we did. He led us through corridors and eventually we reached a fire door. He opened it slowly, checking if there was no one waiting for us before he sprinted across to an SUV that was parked, waiting for us. Once he had the engine started, he indicated for us to join him. I was pushed into the back and told to stay down. Laurent jumped into the passenger seat and we sped away.
The journey back to Aro's place was longer than I remembered, but then, I guessed we were taking a different route back to try and avoid any Police interference. Eventually, the car slowed and I heard Felix speaking into an intercom, assuming we were back at Volterra.
However, I was wrong. When the car stopped, the door was opened and I was pulled out of the back and ushered into a building. I was aggressively pushed down a set of stairs and into a basement. There was no lighting, so I had no idea what might've be down there. I sat on the ground and waited.
I could hear raised voices and knew that I wasn't at Volterra. That only made me wonder where they had taken me. So where was I? They obviously weren't worried about me seeing anything there; either that or they were too panicked following the raid.
The door at the top of the stairs opened, flooding the small room with light and hurting my eyes. Instinctively, I backed into a corner, pulling my knees up to my chin and bowing my head. A tall man stood in front of me, and I peered at him before he threw a paper bag on the ground in front of me speaking in a heavily accented voice. "Make the most of that. Right now, you are the least of our concerns." With that, he turned and left.
The thought did cross my mind, and wondered if they remembered I was down here, un-cuffed and not restrained? Whatever was happening up there must be serious.
Voices continued to sound. Nothing that was said was clear enough for me to hear what was being said, but I knew something major had happened. I didn't expect the fights got raided often, but at least they had a plan to get out, which I wished that they didn't. I could be sitting in a warm Police station drinking coffee and waiting to be reunited with my family and Bella. In that case, I wouldn't be sitting in a cold, damp basement wondering what the hell was gonna happen to me next.
The noises from upstairs, continued. Different voices were shouting, and then came minutes of calmness. No noise, nothing at all. That scared me more than anything. The silence couldn't be good.
I eventually plucked up the courage to go to the bottom of the stairs, pausing before I climbed them slowly but surely. Once at the top, there was a door. I expected it to be closed, but when I tried the handle, it turned easily in my hand. Pushing the door slowly ajar, I put my head around it, seeing no one in the hallway, so I stepped out.
I had expected someone, anyone to come along and find me, but no one did. I continued to make my way down the hallway, keeping my back to the wall. My heart was pounding heavily in my chest and my breath was shallow and nervous. Then I heard voices in the room at the end of the hallway. I could hear Aro and Felix talking in raised voices, then footsteps got closer and closer to the door and I froze. Where could I hide here?
Looking around, I saw that the window at the end of the hallway was covered in floor length, heavy velvet curtains, so I made a dash for them, hiding behind one just in time as the door opened. I heard the Aro call out to Felix. "Make sure any loose ends are tied up. Do what you have to. I don't care what it takes."
There was no response from Felix. All I heard was the door closing and his footsteps retreating down the hallway. I needed to get out of here before my absence was discovered. But, could I go back to being his prisoner when this chance had presented itself to me so perfectly? As I stood hidden behind the curtain, I decided that I should at least try.
Peering out, I made sure there was no one in the hallway before I turned to fumble with the window latch. Much to my surprise, it wasn't locked, allowing me to open it fully. I lowered myself, cautiously, to the ground, and once I realized I was out of the house, I crouched down and collected my thoughts, looking around to see where I was.
I was on the edge of a large grassy area, and just beyond that, there were trees that looked like a small forest. That would be where I needed to go. I could hide in the trees as long as they hadn't discovered I was missing until daybreak. Then I would be able to see where I was going.
A final glance around, told me there was nobody near and I ran as fast as possible toward the trees, not pausing for a single second until I was hidden in them. Once I was sure I was far enough away, I slumped against a tree, catching my breath before I would set off again.
Wandering through the trees, it felt like I would never make it through them. They were so dense in places that I couldn't see a way through. Branches scraped and gouged my skin, but I didn't stop. I refused considering I was this close to the freedom that I craved.
Exhaustion pulled at me, wanting me to stop, but I knew that I couldn't. Continuing to make my way through the undergrowth, I saw some lights up ahead. It looked like civilization and my heart began to soar. Finally, I would be free.
The lights that I saw, spurred me on and I ran through the final trees, seeing a small wooden cabin with lights blazing from the windows. Once I was there, I pounded on the door with both my fists until a middle aged man opened it. The look of shock on his face told me I looked a distraught.
All I could mutter before I collapsed on my knees was, "Help me, please?"
The man helped me back to my feet and led me inside where he settled me down on a couch. I began to shake, adrenalin leaving me and shock moving in. I couldn't believe I was free at last. I watched as he left the room, coming back with a bottle of liquor and a glass. Without speaking, he handed me the glass and poured some of the amber liquid into it.
"Drink, it'll warm you up." With that, he left the room. I didn't give it another thought; I downed the liquid and felt the burn as it went down my throat. The room swam in front of me as I tried to stand, but fell back onto the couch. The man appeared in the doorway, and I could hear him speaking to someone. I thought he was on a phone, but I couldn't focus enough to see clearly.
Trying to get my words out was a struggle and somehow, I managed to utter, "What've you done to me?"
He never answered, only turning and walking away from me, leaving me struggling to make the fuzzy feeling leave me as I fought to stay conscious.
I must've passed out because suddenly, I was writhing in pain, but couldn't move my arms and I wondered what was wrong with them. Once the pain subsided, my eyes searched the room that I now recognized as being the basement at the house I had escaped from and my heart sank. I realized the reason that I couldn't move. My arms were outstretched above my head, and bound to one of the ceiling beams. Then a familiar laugh caught my attention, and my eyes snapped to who I was hoping least to see...Felix.
His face carried a grin as I looked at him and then around the room. "Ah, Cullen, you're back with us. Now that you're back where you belong, I can let Master know. He can't wait to see you."
I struggled against my bindings, knowing that it was fruitless, but I needed to try. That caused Felix to laugh deeply. "Struggle all you want, you won't be escaping, again. That was an oversight."
With that, he turned and left the room. I heard sounds behind me and worried about who else was down here with me. Managing to turn around slightly, I saw someone on the floor and they were trying to sit upright.
"Who are you?" I asked, only to be greeted by mumbling. I squinted into the darkness and I gasped as my eyes focused and they turned their head to me. It was the young man from the first fight. He was now down here with me. Was he one of Aro's fighters? Why did I not know this?
He turned toward me, groaning as he did. "Where am I?"
I laughed. "You can't play games with me. You know where you are, don't try to fool me."
He winced as he got to his feet. "I'm not doing anything. Why do you not believe me?" Staggering toward me, I saw just how beaten up he was. Some of the wounds I inflicted, but the others, where had they come from? I knew that not all those bruises and cuts were from my hand.
The door opened and heavy footsteps came down the stairs. There was nothing I could do other than wait to see who it was. Felix was followed by a couple of henchmen, and then he stepped aside, revealing Aro standing behind him. Instinctively, I bowed my head. Strange how quickly this act of respect was ingrained into me. They stood in the center of the space, and I knew I would have some payback for my escape attempt despite the fact that it failed so miserably.
Aro spoke in a low voice. "So, what do we have here? An escapee and someone who has crossed me? Both actions need to be punished."
My head snapped up and I shouted. "I haven't crossed you!" He simply held up his hand, indicating that I should be silent, but I didn't care. "I haven't done anything, I…" The words died in my throat as Felix punched me hard in the gut, winding me. I coughed, trying to catch my breath, and then the familiarity of my normal punishment, flooded through me. My body tensed and relaxed as they stopped the electrical current before starting it again. The only sound that came from me, were the screams of pain.
Aro took a step toward me as I relaxed following the last surge. "Who said that this was all about you, Cullen?" He spat. "Have you not seen your friend here? He's the one who betrayed me. You? Well, you'll be dealt with. I'm more interested in what your little friend here has to say." He was so close to my face that I could feel his breath as he stood in front of me. I closed my eyes, not wanting to see what hatred was held in his. "Take him." He snapped. I braced myself expecting my restraints to be loosened. Instead, I heard the shouts and screams of the man that was with me as he was taken away.
I opened my eyes slowly, and jolted in surprise that Aro was still there in front of me. "You, Cullen, I'll be back for." With that, he turned and left. I took a couple of deep breaths, wondering what they were planning to do with me.
My arms were getting tired as was the rest of me while I waited for them to return. I was surprised when someone came into the basement and let me down from my position; however, any hope I had that I would be allowed to remain unrestrained, were dashed as they ensured that I remained handcuffed. These were attached by a short length of rope through a large metal hoop that hung from the wall. My position was improved, although, I had to remain sitting upright, so I rested back against the wall. Tiredness consumed me and I couldn't remain awake, so I slept.
I was brought out of my slumber by voices coming into the basement. I made myself as small as possible, knowing full well that this would make no difference. If they had come for me, then there would be little that I could do to stop them.
Watching in horror, they threw the lifeless body of the young man onto the floor before turning to leave. He was just out of my reach, so I had to settle for talking to him.
"Hey! Hey!" I called, and there was no response. I could see that he was breathing, although, it seemed shallow. His face was covered in blood and looked a mess. I knew from personal experience that the guards could be brutal, and if he came up against Felix, he would be certainly feeling like he had been hit by a freight train.
I waited for him to show signs of coming around. I eventually allowed myself to rest when it became clear that this would take some time. When I woke, my eyes searched for him, and I was shocked to find that he wasn't there. Panic rushed through me. How had I managed to sleep through that? My thoughts were brought back to my own dilemma as Felix appeared in front of me.
"Cullen, Master wants to see you." He said as my blood turned to ice in my veins. All I could do was wait until he freed my restraints and led me upstairs toward the room that I had heard them in before.
Once we were inside, I saw that Aro was seated, talking on the phone. He seemingly ignored my presence as he continued his conversation. Felix placed one hand on my shoulder and the other was spread at the base of my throat. Whoever Aro was speaking to, was obviously being charmed by him as I listened to his side of the conversation.
"Yes, that sounds fabulous. You really do have a wonderful eye for detail… Perfect!... I will transfer the funds as agreed to secure your services and when could you start?... I appreciate that and I will come along and see you there, shall we say the day after tomorrow?... Bellisimo! Oh, you have made me very happy agreeing to this Mrs. Cullen… Sorry, Esme." At that point, he looked at me, a smile playing on his lips. I opened my mouth to speak, but Felix's hand tightened his hold on my throat, constricting it. Aro waved his index finger at me.
He then laughed into the phone. "I must find a way to thank Bella for introducing you to me, and I look forward to having those awful memories wiped out of my penthouse when you've finished working your magic on it… Goodbye for now, Esme."
He ended the call, his eyes never leaving my face as he watched my look of horror as I realized that he had been talking to my mom, and Bella had made the introduction.
"Ah, Mr. Cullen, how nice of you to join me." With that, Felix pushed me down onto my knees.
"What do you want with my mom?" I hissed.
"I've engaged her services to redecorate my penthouse. You remember how outdated that place was, don't you?" He was goading me, reminding me of my night there with Heidi. "Well, I decided that I should employ an interior designer and Bella quite kindly told me about your mother when I told her of my plans over dinner."
I could feel the rage building inside me. He had been out with Bella, again. She had, unknowingly, brought my mom into this monsters circle. It was hard to keep the emotion from my face.
"Leave her out of this, you sick bastard." I muttered.
Aro's fist made contact with the desk. "No! I will do what I please, Cullen. You have to understand that I can get to anyone I choose. Any member of your family is within my reach. Your brother, Emmett? I might employ him as my bodyguard, although, I have no need for one. Carlisle, your father? I could easily approach insisting I need a new doctor. The old one is no longer able to offer me his services. However, your father is a highly ethical man, so I would need to find a way to… persuade him."
I knew Aro wanted a reaction from me. He wanted to be able to punish me for that, so I couldn't let him win. "You have me. Please leave my family out of this. They haven't done anything to you; it's me that you wish to punish." The words came out almost in a whisper.
"I know I have you, except when you decided to venture outside earlier. Never underestimate my reach. You disobey me again, and I'll not hesitate to kill a member of your family. Their blood will be on your hands."
I was pulled back to my feet by Felix and I struggled against his hold, which was futile, as I was led back to the basement. As we reached the bottom of the stairs, I saw a moment out of the corner of my eye. I was pitched forward as Felix reacted instantly. Taking the person in his grasp, I heard a sickening noise as he snapped the boys neck and he fell to the ground.
Screaming in horror at what I had just seen caused Felix some amusement. He moved to the bottom of the stairs and shouted, "I need a clean-up down here." Turning back to me, he sneered as he finished his sentence. "Just one, for now." With that he left.
I curled up in a corner, and sat rocking as I stared at the lifeless body in front of me. How easily they took a life, and how little regard they had for life. Surprisingly, quickly a couple of men came down and took the body away. Once they were out, more footsteps came toward me; I remained in my huddled position, refusing to make eye contact. I jerked as I felt a hand touch me.
My eyes then darted to the face of Laurent. "Edward, I've come to see if you're okay."
I looked away, tears filling my eyes; this wasn't to deter Laurent. As he spoke, again in a soft voice. "Look, I know that you're probably in shock. Felix shouldn't have done that, especially not in front of you."
My eyes snapped to his and I spat my words out. "You think? Fuck! So if they had taken him out and done it, that would have been okay, then?" The words hung heavily, unanswered so I continued. "He was nothing more than a child. What exactly had he done?"
Laurent sighed. "I can't tell you, but think back to what happened tonight."
My brain raced to think what had occurred earlier. I pieced a possibility together, so I voiced it. "He snitched to the Police?"
Laurent nodded slowly. "That's what's suspected. Luckily, we have contacts within the Police and we were aware that this might happen, so we were prepared."
I nodded slowly. "Where are we?"
He smiled at me. "That I can't tell you either, other than this is a safe place for us until we can return to Volterra. I suggest that you rest. Your escape attempt was bold, and I can't blame you for trying. It was just unfortunate that you chose a house of a person on our payroll. He's being handsomely rewarded for not allowing you to escape." He turned to leave and paused just before he did. "Rest, we'll be returning to Volterra, soon and you're to be punished, once there."
I nodded slowly, knowing that whatever the punishment was, I would need to take it, especially now that my family were being slowly pulled into Aro's reach. I wondered if my message had reached my father. Had Doc been able to deliver it? Then I remembered something that Aro had said about needing a new Doctor. He couldn't be, could he?
"Laurent!" I called, unsure if he would hear me. My thought was answered when he reappeared with a questioning look on his face. "The Doctor? Something was said about him. Is he okay?" The look on his face told me everything that I needed to know.
I mumbled. "What happened to him?"
He looked thoughtful as if choosing his words carefully. "He was attacked as he was going into the hospital. He was fatally stabbed."
I couldn't speak. The words simply wouldn't come. Laurent turned and left me alone with my thoughts.
Doctor Gerandy was dead. There was no doubt in my mind that this was directly linked to the message that he was trying to pass to my father. His blood was on my hands. How could I live with that?
Well this is dedicated to one of my avid readers, Pamela – HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Hope you have had a fab day x
Beta'd as always by Dreamof Rob10, pre-read by Shaz Warner – thanks to both of you.
Hope that you enjoyed this and please do let me know! Steph (DreamofRob10) told me
Great chapter. Aro is a ruthless S.O.B. I knew that cabin had to be a bad idea. He should have kept running, but I guess when you're not able to think straight, anything you do, might be the wrong thing.
Chapter read through and beta'd...check
Loved the chapter...check
File attached...check***** ( I forget to attach files when I send them)
Hitting the send button...check
She made me smile with that! It's a running joke as I forget to attach files when I send her emails and vice versa – we make a great pair!
Until next time!