No Longer The Prey

Chapter 23: Cousins

"What is Tanya doing in my room?" Edward asked loudly, nearly growling himself. I was pleased that he seemed as agitated by this as I was.

"I don't know, Edward." Alice gave me a stern look, "I can't see anything." With that she turned on her heel and marched toward the kitchen wearing an exaggerated pout.

Alice had been very upset about not having control over her ability recently. Although sometimes she looked at it as a reprieve, she mostly saw it as a weakness. She believed that her ability helped the family and didn't like not being able to help in that way. Regardless of her annoyance at the situation, I knew she loved me.

"Well, let's go up then. I would like to meet Tanya," I said with a forced smile and a bit more enthusiasm than was needed. I wanted to get this over with. This woman needed to understand that Edward was taken, and get over it.

I pulled a shocked looking Edward behind me as I ascended the stairs.

Tanya knew we were coming up, of course. She was shielding her mind from Edward and primping. Trying to look as appealing as possible. She may have been able to shield her intentions from Edward, but not from me.

She had a plan of attack. She saw Edward as her property. She had been 'working on' him for decades and saw him as an investment in her future happiness. She believed that she had been close to 'breaking' him. Before he ran off to Volterra, anyway. You would think Edward leaving her in his dust would have told her something, but I guess not.

Regardless, I had a point in my favor. Tanya was aware that I was immortal in a sense, that my heart still beat for some reason, but that was it. Apparently she had rushed out to hunt so that she could be back in time to wait for Edward. She thought I was just a normal vampire. She assumed that that was their reason for being here in the first place. To help keep the reigns on a crazed newborn and nothing more. How wrong she was.

I swung open the door to Edward's bedroom to find a beautiful woman with long, strawberry blonde hair waiting for my mate. She was flawless. Any mortal man would melt to his knees for a night with her, I was sure. But her beauty wasn't what held my attention. It was the determination in her eyes.

"Well hello, Edward. Nice to see you again," Tanya said in a sweet voice, but her mind said something different.

"Is this her? She is nothing, Edward. Can't you see that we belong together? Your Bella is still so breakable, I am not. We could have so much fun together."

This girl must have dropped her subtlety long ago because she was going right for the gold.

"I have plenty of fun, Tanya. You are not needed in any way. Please leave my room now, I would like a moment alone with my fiancé." Edward enunciated the last word, trying to drill it into her head that he was taken. Although he did it in a bit of a nicer way than I would have liked.

"Edward, we both know whatever 'this' is, will never last. She is so… common," Tanya said in her mind with a barely contained sneer.

Edward growled under his breath in warning and annoyance.

"You must be Bella," she said, extending her hand to me as if she hadn't just been insulting me in her mind. "I'm Tanya, as I'm sure you could guess." Then the bitch giggled.

I took her proffered hand in mine and squeezed. Hard. Hard enough to bring her to her knees with a yelp. Somewhere I was sure she was used to being.

Tanya was biting her lip and trying her best not to scream, not wanting to appear weak. She may not have been weak, but she was certainly weaker than me. I could feel her bones grinding under my grip. I wanted to make a point.

"Nice to meet you, Tanya. Edward is mine. And, as you can tell, I'm not that breakable." If she could have cried, I was sure I would have seen tears welling up in her eyes.

"Honey, I think she understands." Edward's words entered my mind calmly, but I could feel an undercurrent of humor there. He was enjoying the way I was claiming him as mine. Enjoying my show of superior strength over Tanya. Enjoying that for once he didn't have to defend himself against her advances.

I released Tanya's hand and shooed her out of the room. I was done with the minor catfight. There was nothing very interesting about her mind. Tanya was about as deep as a kiddie pool. She couldn't even think through the pain, just concentrating on the feeling. She was weak, in mind and body.

After Tanya had fled the room, and the house, Edward turned to me. A sly grin on s face.

"You know, I don't think there is anything sexier than watching you defend me," he said before letting out a fierce growl and attacking my mouth.

After a few hours Edward and I decided it was time to go down and join the rest of our family and our guests. Well, I decided. Edward was insatiable. Not that I wasn't, I just knew that there were more pressing matters than our sexual gratification. Unfortunately.

Alice had stocked Edward's closet with clothes for us. I looked through the closet but found only expensive, silky material. I couldn't find anything that I would feel comfortable in. Yes, my style had changed from what I used to wear in high school, but not that much. If anything, I couldn't stand the expensive, stylish crap even more. Instead of continuing to search I grabbed my now well worn shoulder bag that still held some of the clothes I had before meeting up with the Cullens. I pulled out a pair of boot cut jeans and a black tank top. I dressed quickly,. Edward took a little more convincing.

When we finally descended the staircase I was met by a vicious looking female. She had pale blonde hair, almost silver. It was straight and chin length, parted in the middle. She looked murderous and I wondered what I could have possibly done to anger her so. Possibly the confrontation with Tanya, but I doubted it. Somehow, instinctively, I knew that this was Irina, and she was not happy to see me alive. I didn't understand that.

I probed her mind for information that could tell me why her feelings for me were so loathsome. There, I found images of her and Laurent. They had been lovers. She believed that they were mates, but she was wrong.

She blamed me for Laurent's death. Victoria had told them of his fate and that I had been the cause. Neglecting to inform them that she had been the catalyst. Irina had been satisfied when she found out I was dead. She believed that I had gotten what I deserved. This had to be resolved quickly, I needed to contact Jacob.

"Irina, I know that you're angry but-" My words were cut off as Irina's stone hand connected with the side of my face.

"You bitch!" When she went to throw a punch I had had enough. I caught her fist and pushed her backwards. She became unbalanced from the force and nearly fell before steadying herself on the wall behind her. Irina lunged at me with a growl and I caught her by the throat with one hand.

I could feel Tanya and Kate coming to their sisters aide.

"Edward, keep them away. I won't hurt her."

He immediately stopped their advances just as Eleazar stepped in front of them.

"This is Irina's fight. Let her have it," he said firmly.

I continued to hold Irina by the throat as I spoke.

"Irina, listen to me. I know you think I had a hand in Laurent's death, but you are wrong. The pack was defending me. They saved my life. Laurent would have killed me," I said calmly.

"You're lying! Laurent wasn't feeding from humans anymore! They killed him because of what he was! Because of you!" she screamed.

"Laurent had been cheating on his diet. Victoria sent him to check that the Cullen's were gone so that she could come for me, but instead he decided to kill me himself. The wolves arrived just in time."

"I don't believe you!" She didn't, at all. She thought I was lying through my teeth. That there was no way that her Laurent would do what I had said. I had to show her the truth.

I used my empathic ability to calm her and put her body in a sedated state before lowering her to the ground. I knelt down before her and placed my finger tips on her temples.

"Irina, watch. See what happened for yourself."

I willed the memory of that day to the forefront of my mind. She had to see for herself the events that had transpired.

Through my eyes she saw the clearing, felt my heartache for my lost love. She whimpered at the pain. The ache of the gapping hole that had been left in my chest at my loss. The anguish I felt at being too weak to keep Edward with me. It burned my soul. The pain was interminable.

In her mind she compared the heartache I felt over my separation from Edward and her heartache over Laurent's death. She knew then that the love she had felt for Laurent was merely ordinary love. Though she was reluctant to admit it, she knew they were not mated.

She watched in horror as Laurent appeared across the meadow with blood red eyes. She felt my fear. My confusion as he approached.

She heard Laurent's confession. Saw the hunger in his eyes. She even heard Edward's voice in my head, telling me to lie. Telling me Laurent was dangerous. She heard me say goodbye to my love.

I let the memory fade as the wolves emerged from the trees. She didn't need to see the look of fear on Laurent's face as the wolves chased him down.

As I removed my hands from her face I whispered that I was sorry for her loss, I motioned for Tanya and Kate to come see to their sister as she shook with silent sobs on the floor. Tanya gathered Irina in her arms and glared at me.

"What did you do to her?!" she accused

"I showed her the truth. She'll be alright, she just needs her family right now."

At my words Carmen rushed over and took Irina from Tanya, cradling her in her arms as a mother would a heartbroken daughter.

I didn't expect any sort of apology from her. I would have done far worse with much less hesitation if it had been the other way around.

"I'm sorry, I have to go," I said softly to Edward. He knew where I meant.

"I'm going with you."

"No, you're not. You're not allowed on Quileute lands. You know that," I said.

"I don't believe you would be welcome there anymore either, Bella," Edward said with concerned eyes.

"Let them tell me that. I can take care of myself now, Edward. Don't worry about me. I'll talk to Jacob and be back before you know it."

Edward was about to argue when Carlisle interrupted us.

"Bella, I got you a disposable cell phone and programmed the families' new numbers into the speed dial for you. I know it has been awhile since you have seen your friend so do not feel rushed, just be careful," he said with a smile. He then directed a thought to Edward.

"Let her go, son. She will be fine."

I returned his smile and gave him a small hug as a thanks. Edward reluctantly agreed, but I knew he would be waiting impatiently for my return.