A/N: I know, it's been almost a year and a half since we've seen each other in this fic. Brief summary here, more info (if you're interested) down below.
Summary: Final story in the From the Wings AU. After setting up a coup (more or less) to overthrow the Volturi (Places, Everyone!), Bella is reunited with Edward and the rest of the Cullens. Her marriage is riddled with trust issues, and every Cullen but Jasper is unhappy with her. She has promised to stay with Edward and not hie off on another personal crusade ever, and is doing her best, but she is having to learn some important truths to repair the damage she wrought in her relationships. MEANWHILE, the destruction of The Three has left a void of authority in the vampire world and Carlisle is one of those seeking to restore order. The Egyptian Coven (Amun, Kebi, Benjamin, Tia) resists this order, for they lived as gods back before Aro & Co. decided to assume authority. They are hunting openly and have claimed all of Egypt as their territory, considering the humans therein to be like cattle. Demetri and Gianna (recently changed) are temporarily joining them, enjoying the freedom of their existence.
Edward and Bella have gone to visit, to determine the magnitude of the Egyptian Coven's danger to humanity as a whole. They greet her like a heroine. Jasper and Alice join them, and the four Cullens are surrounded by the Egyptians while Amun tries to get Bella to embrace the lifestyle of a supposed goddess. He has taken her into the broad light of day and she is called Isis by a local, and given a gift of a bracelet. In front of humans. In the sunshine.
Alice has said, "This will be a problem."
And so we return.
6. Relational Dialectics Theory
Relationships are "organized around the dynamic interplay of opposing tendencies" - L. Baxter and B. Montgomery
Thanks to TiramiSue84 on Twitter!
Bella looked bewildered, her smile not reaching her eyes as she held her arm up to show off her bracelet. The people visiting the ruins gathered, their thoughts filled with my beautiful wife's skin and how she had accepted the bracelet.
"See?" Amun said, his thoughts glittering with plans and notions of adoration that were entirely self-directed. "They would give you anything." His mind turned to feeding and my gut clenched even as venom filled my mouth. His thoughts were strong, the memories they stirred in me, evocative.
"I don't want anything," Bella retorted, still smiling.
Amun beckoned to Kebi, who didn't even bother to disguise her vampire speed. She was at Amun's side in a flare of light, giving rise to a whisper of awed appreciation from the humans. "Of course you do, dear Bella," the woman said, her voice like silk.
The humans turned to Kebi as if she were a magnet and they were iron filings from a school project. "So many!" one of them cried, sounding as if she were in the throes of ecstasy.
"Beautiful children," Amun said, his voice sounding smoother as he reached for one of the humans in the ruins. Sunshine danced all over his features and up and down his mate's bare arms. Bella watched as if she were witnessing a devastating automobile accident. "Come show us."
It happened so quickly. Amun jerked a human female against himself and buried his teeth into her throat. There was no cry, no protest, only a moan as if all the humans were experiencing a peak of sexual satisfaction. With a gritty swirl of sand, the others in the Coven, including Demetri and Gianna, dashed out into the sunlight, hands extended and mouths open in avarice.
Alice gasped and Jasper's thoughts crowded with old memories, dark and bloody.
My wife, horrified, couldn't seem to move from her space on the steps of the most prominent ruin. "Stop!" she shouted, finally finding her voice. "Edward, make them stop!"
The thoughts of all the feeding vampires had held me motionless as well. It still took a considerable act of will to do what I had avoided doing for so many decades. I stepped into the bright light of day at last, though. "Bella!"
Blood. It was everywhere. I could smell its intoxicating fragrance as I plowed my way through the humans. Why were they offering themselves? It was as if they were hypnotized. . .
A thought-pattern, so subtle I didn't recognize it at first, pushed its way into my awareness. The mental voice was Kebi's, but I couldn't distinguish the words. But the images were of blank-faced humans arching their necks in submission. Row upon row of them.
Sickened but curiously fascinated, I caught the thoughts of the humans. No words, but a sound like "Ay-wah."
"Bella!" I called, my voice whispered but reaching her clearly.
She shook herself. "Stop it," she begged, coming to me, but trying to interpose herself between the humans and the vampires.
Gianna, a sloppy drinker, dropped a bled-white human and smiled beatifically. "Oh, Isabella. We don't have to, now. Thank you!"
Her gratitude was sincere and grotesque and Bella looked as if she'd weep. I enfolded my wife in my arms and guided her out of the sun, away from the frenzied vampires.
"I'm so sorry," she whispered over and over. "So sorry."
VV vv VV
Only Alice's vibrating tension kept me in place, in the shade of the ruins. Inside myself, I was reeling. The bloodlust was almost enough to knock me to my knees, but I remained upright. I wanted to run. Run into the melee in front of me and partake of the offered blood, a feast I had long denied myself.
But the shame and horror that hit me square in my midsection blunted my thirst. "I'm so sorry. I only wanted to be free," Bella was whispering to Edward.
Now, understand, I admired my sister in a way I have admired few people in the course of my existence. Her plan had flaws, but it was meant for good and she did quite a fascinating job of evading everyone as she executed it. I was impressed. But, it would have served her—and all of us—better if she had considered the long-term ramifications of accomplishing her goal.
"Jas?" Alice asked.
"Why didn't you say something?" I asked, my jaws practically locked together.
"It was only one possibility," she murmured. "And since there's no law, anymore. . ." A sharp-edged wave of annoyance flared from her. "Carlisle will have to be told."
Edward had guided Bella to us by that time. Unshielded as she was, her desperate shame was spiking unevenly, even coming from Edward. He would always, I surmised, take anything she did on his own shoulders. "But what can he do? Send Felix out to muscle the coven?"
The feelings coming from the dwindling number of breathing humans ranged from blank acceptance to rapture. I rolled my shoulders and tried to shake off the pulling in my midsection that said to join the Egyptians and indulge. There was no fear, there. The humans were offering themselves, as sacrifices...
"Why won't they stop?" Bella said, gasping, her body as curved into Edward's as anatomy allowed. "They don't need to drain so many humans."
"Come, Jasper Whitlock!" Benjamin called. His skin gleamed oddly in the sun, the result of our vampire pallor overlaying his human skin tone. "There are no more repercussions! We can do as we like, now!"
E/N: I know it's short, but the next chapter is already underway. This story is my priority until it finishes up in chapter ten. The Cullens WILL save humanity. :)
In other news, I invite you to check out my bio page for links to my website, where I have information on the books I have written. The ones that have been occupying me most are Éire's Captive Moon and Éire's Viking. The former is available and the latter is with my pre-reader now. I'll be beginning the final book of my trilogy (9th century historical fiction) as soon as I finish this fic.
Thank you all for your patience. ~ LJ