Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. Stephenie Meyer created it all. All credit goes to her for the lines utilized from her books.

This one shot was entered into The Canon Tour – Twilight round. A problem occurred with a reviewer that resulted in a difficult situation for me, and I respectfully requested that Solar Eclipses remove it from the competition. I thank her for her understanding and help with the matter.

Warning: This one-shot is an interpretation of James' story, and as such, contains various scenes of violence, cruelty, and reference to rape.

"Champ!" mother cried out, running as fast as she could toward us. Her long dark hair streamed out behind her as she moved across the patchy ground, love and adoration plastered across her face. Joy at the fact we'd returned home radiated from her. She was happy to see me, I thought.

Then reality sank in as she passed right by me, heading for my older brother…the golden child…the clueless one. I was as important to her as the dog crap she narrowly avoided stepping in on her flight to her "baby." Champ's wife followed, her dark eyes gleaming with tears, dark hair flying…almost a perfect replica of our mother.

The human memory was as clear as any from my vampire life.

The prodigal child had, of course, joyfully received his dutiful hero's welcome, sweeping them both up into his arms and swinging them around like the rag dolls the girls had as children. I'd turned away from the tear-filled reunion to lead our horses to the pole barn, knowing Champ and our mother would be babbling for hours. He would pay his mount no mind, so I'd reached for the neglected beast's reins and pulled the lathered animal toward the shelter to rub both it and my horse down.

By the time I'd returned to the house, Champ was already seated at the table, surrounded not only by our mother, but his wife and children. Unable to stomach the misguided praises that would be heaped upon him, I'd grabbed a loaf of bread, a tin of soup, and a mug of fresh milk, retiring to the barn. The loft had been full of fresh hay for me to lay on, and away from all the fuss, my only company the contented beasts I'd taken care of…a perfect refuge for me.

The War of Northern Aggression was coming upon its fourth year then. It would be over several months later and my infamous brother tried and dangled by a rope. The sound of his neck snapping had been a particularly satisfying experience, the grinding of the bones in his neck magical.

Rest in Peace, Champ Ferguson.


History would later accredit him with a propensity for violence and excellent guerilla activities, over fifty murders, and a legend for sadism. It was all smoke and mirrors. He'd been little more than the figurehead of the unit, guided by my directions and suggestions. Our father had taught us the skills of living off the land, and we'd all flourished, but I'd known, as the youngest of the boys in my family, that I had little left to do but learn to take care of myself. I'd thrown myself into the lessons whole-heartedly, and my dedication had paid off, earning my father's approval. Hunting and tracking was an exceedingly well-done art for me, and if I transferred the skills I learned from my backwoods father from animals to humans…who was the wiser?

Certainly not my mother, who acted as if I was a scourge of her life.

I'd long buried the pain of her rejection. The squeals of our enemies and victims as we sliced them had been my particular pleasure, the sounds of agony an antidote to mine. Sheriff James Read had been my favorite, tied to the tree and helpless. He'd had the audacity to claim our father was responsible for a murder...it'd been my kill, but no one would know differently. My father had been imprisoned and died within the cold walls of the local jail before we could free him, and I'd long suspected the Sheriff's duplicity in his death. His torture, at our hands, hadn't been enough; I'd wanted to inflict it on his family, as well. Lawmen made me angry with their self righteous behavior, as if they and their own were better than the "civilians." We left his corpse tied to the tree for all to witness.

I was immensely grateful that the burn of my change hadn't stolen all those human memories.

Of all my human memories, the most cherished remembrance was the day I'd sliced Champ's wife's throat and watched the crimson blood trickle down her pale skin enticingly. Satisfaction had flooded through me, almost orgasmic in its intensity, as I watched Death settle over Martha and drain the life from her…her dark brown eyes slowly losing focus, freezing to take on the death stare.

A vision of my mother's disapproving face flashed through my mind, and I wished that I'd been able to kill her in a similar manner. Champ's capture had stolen that pleasure away from me…she'd had a heart seizure after learning of his detainment. The remaining children had been called to her side, but as she'd done in life…she ignored me. I'd heard her whisper words of prayer when I was around, as if I was some sort of devil. I was denied the pleasure of slicing her open to release her soul, being only able to place the pillow across her face and listen to the slight gurgle and choking sounds as she struggled fruitlessly against me. Afterward, I'd admired the black inkiness of her hair which had been strewn across the pillow from her struggle and her dark eyes only slightly glazed in death. For once, she'd been at peace in my presence.

But Martha's death, it had been the beginning of my deliverance, the impetus to the agreement between me and the darkness within. I smiled at the memory; even then I'd been blood thirsty…drawing my face in close, and then licking inquisitively at her ravaged throat.

Martha was meant to be mine, not Champ's. I'd adored her long dark hair and eyes and tiny, doll-like body, but she'd rather be a wife to the "hero" than to me. In the end, she'd begged for mercy, claiming that she would be my wife, that she'd loved me. I sneered. She'd been lying; I'd known it, and she'd known that I knew it. I'd taken my time with her, listening to how creative she'd become before she'd realized it was futile. Her shrieks, as I sliced her with my bowie knife, were my music – the symphony to accompany me while I created my masterpiece. I sang with her, feeling the pleasure as my knife carved into the white trembling skin below me. When it was done, my quest completed, she'd laid in silence…peace…her body the canvas for my bloody artwork. Then, and only then, I'd taken strands of her hair as a souvenir - like the Indians did with their scalps, as I'd done with my mother, tucking them into my pocket to gloat over later.

The sounds of the human voices brought me back from my cherished recollections as I perched on a cannery roof in the early darkness of the day - the next wave of humans off to their menial jobs of processing the rank seafood unloaded off the docks. The scents of their bodies and the tang of the blood were almost overwhelmed by the stench of fish, shrimp, and clams. Once the smell of the seafood might have been appetizing, but now, the horde of drones with their varieties of scents, making their way toward the factories, was much more appealing to me. I wasn't the only vampire in Biloxi taking advantage of a fertile hunting ground. The influx of humans for labor meant easy satisfaction, and if one of the Bohemians or Cajuns disappeared there was little fuss made. It was a perfect scenario, but utterly boring. I sighed in dissatisfaction.

I felt the need within me growing exponentially each day. A need that blood could only partially diminish. It took the thrill of the hunt now to make the kill sweeter, the struggle of our victim more potent, the screams more satisfying. It had been awhile since my last game, and my unsatisfied desire clawed at me, shredding the tender tissues within, filling my head until I saw everything through a red haze…writhing within me, attempting to rip out of my chest. The voice inside my head mocked me, my futility, telling me to let him take control.

Lookatthem,theyridiculeyouwiththeirexistence, the voice seemed to say.

A young man walked in the dark alleyway below me and his scent was pleasing. It was good enough…for now.


Casting the body into a canal, I shoved it hard enough down into the water that it would mire in the mud and get covered. Being close to one of the more productive canneries, it wasn't surprising that I heard the telltale sound of a horse and buggy coming my way, the traffic a constant in this area. Animals feared my kind, an instinctual reaction, so unwilling to cause a stir; I slunk back into the shadows and watched through the fog as two young men in a two-person dogcart buggy sped past me and away from the area. I heard one of the men's laughter and then delight as he bragged about his jewelry transaction with the manager of one of the canneries. It would seem that he'd sold the man an inferior pearl necklace at great profit.

A scalawag…my type of human.

I was intrigued, which was unusual. It would seem the man had a propensity to cheat, and it made me wonder, while the flashing dark hair and eyes caught my attention. I'd never desired to kill a man, but his features had been intriguing. Without thought, I began following them through the deepening dusk, trailing them carefully through the trees and across the rooftops.

Moving through the city, the buggy turned to a fashionable but reserved neighborhood. It wasn't the richest part of the city, but it was a nice established residential area. The buggy pulled up to a well maintained house, and the two men jumped out of the well sprung ride - the smallest taking the reins and leading the horses to the carriage house in back. The young man that had captured my attention whistled happily as he strolled up and into the house.

"Mother, Uncle will be so excited about my newest adventure," he announced.

I heard further conversation, but truly I didn't care about the idiosyncrasies that humans felt important. Wondering about my attraction to the man, I turned to look around the area and grinned, seeing the obviously neglected cellar door to the side of the house. A dark cool place was a perfect spot for me to return to at dawn and listen to the man who'd intrigued me. If nothing else, I'd feast on him and his mother if they proved unworthy of my interest.


I regretted my rash decision within hours after I entered the cellar. The boy was reckless, a braggart, and perhaps his worst offense…uninteresting. However, I had to remain hidden in the basement until nightfall before I could leave, even though I wanted to strangle him and his mother long before the day was half through. I growled to myself. The smell of human food infiltrated the house, and I heard them speaking about the impending arrival of company. My plans for my own dining experience quickly changed; although I could kill a whole family of humans quickly, it would cause too much of a stir. And, there was no reason to call attention to my activities. I resigned myself to stay hidden until I could inconspicuously remove myself from the cellar.

However, everything changed with the sound of her voice.

Soft tinkling music…like bells.

Instantly fascinated and transfixed, I tried hard to discern which alluring smell was hers amidst the others that wafted through the walls and downward to where I hid in the shadows. As a result of my focus, I found one that intrigued me…it was amazingly delicious, that was the only word I could utilize, and venom filled my mouth. I desired it to belong to the woman; it would be too poetic. The rumble of my growl filled the cellar, but I forced myself to focus on the conversation occurring, only to be amazed at her intelligence. Not much longer and my desire turned into an obsession.

"Cousin, you mustn't go on the journey. I've seen something horrible happening."

The gasps barely covered the snort and words of "crazy" and "witch." I heard an older man's voice hoarsely say, "Alice, enough of your nonsense, girl! Hush your mouth, before you embarrass us before the family with your stories."

Within just a minute, two sets of steps moved toward a less crowded section of the house.

"Alice, you know that talk of your visions upsets your father. Please, allow us to visit my sister a little longer without a scene…for Cynthia."

Alice was the unknown woman's name!

I wanted to see her and was ecstatic when I realized that they were staying past dusk. Slipping out of the cellar, I moved to a grouping of trees where I could clandestinely observe, and was richly rewarded when within a half hour, I saw three women and a man moving out of the house. It took everything I had to cage the beast inside me when I saw the two younger women. The littlest one…the gas lamplight reflected in her long raven black hair and my keen vampire sight caught the inky color of her eyes. Twin needs to possess and kill her raged within me, and I felt the twitch of the fire burn under my skin.

NO!Notnow! I swore internally, fighting him.

I waited with impatience to see if anyone would acknowledge her, wanting the confirmation of my fondest hope. A huge sigh of desire ripped out of me when the man handed the other two women into the buggy, hailing them by other names. The dark haired temptress seemed to remain apart from them, a few feet away from the others, ostracized. I knew…this human girl was My Alice.

Rage filled me as I heard the man pace around with swishes of air inside the house malign her. "Crazy witch." "Useless." "Waste of time." The aunt shushed him, sharply reminding him to remember that she was his cousin. The dark similarities were explained with those words, but my fury grew. He was no better than my mother and brother, forgetting that for humans familial loyalty was the ultimate in adoration.


My damned mother's words echoed through my mind. Even my own mother had forsaken me, all because I'd enjoyed the thrill of the kill a little too much. For living sakes, it'd been a stinking animal. She'd writhed like a stinking animal as I extinguished her miserable life.

I forced my mind back to the present. The man had no right to speak of My Alice in that way. But I did listen to him as she was forced to climb into her family's conveyance unaided and to sit to the side… apart.

"Those visions of hers, they scare me," the man who was apparently her uncle muttered. "She's always predicted the weather, but what happened with that friend of hers and the husband she was saddled with…it is plain otherworldly."

"Demonic," the aunt muttered, but I could care less about her misguided and sanctimonious assessment.

More and more of my plans for Alice's future changed as I heard the derogatory way they spoke. They would pay for their lack of loyalty. It would be my first offering to show my esteem for her. She would be my perfect help mate, her particular "skills" making for an intriguing immortal… if I could just control my instincts and keep from killing her.


Black crepe draped the windows at the Brandon home, signs of mourning for a useless human. I'd drained him slowly, making sure his agony was fitting before snapping his neck. He'd been unworthy of having me release him. Then I'd allowed the horse to trample him to a pulp before setting the frightened animal loose, overturning the landau to stage the accident. It was really a shame that he didn't own one of the new automobiles that were becoming popular; I could have staged a wonderfully gruesome wreck, wrapping the metal around him. But with the sound of the wood splintering under my fingers, I knew Alice had been vindicated. He'd been drunk and driving the buggy recklessly, so his death had been assured, but I couldn't help but want to hasten it, so I'd spooked the beast. If I'd enjoyed his blood in the process…well, I was certain My Alice would forgive me.

From high up in the shadows of the trees, I watched her sitting so still in the rocking chair on the front porch as the humans milled around her. They spoke heresy, claiming she was a witch when they thought they were far enough away from her. Her tiny body jerked from time to time as if assaulted by their verbal harassment, and my hand itched to strangle them, but it also twitched at the thought of releasing her pain.

NO! I screamed at myself – attempting to stifle the rising burn in my throat. Her scent was so enticing to me that it kept threatening to overwhelm me.

Alice wouldn't fall to the monster within me, or at least not that one. In that moment, I realized I needed to hunt; it had been too long since our last release. The pathetic man that I had killed earlier hadn't counted. I snorted to myself. Then I moved from the house, walking at a human pace away from her, knowing I would be back. But, I needed to satisfy the primal urges in me first in order to insure that when I changed her, I didn't fall prey to my darker desires.


I'd gone to New Orleans and played with a Voodoo Mistress. She'd known that something was different about me and fled for her life, which had fueled the ecstasy we felt as I tracked her. Her feeble attempts at black magic and at eluding me had been a first, and the thrill of hunting and tracking her down had made her blood so much sweeter. Then I'd followed an heiress as she met her lover, enjoying his blood before I cut her with his pearl-handled knife. Shortly after, as an added bonus, I'd run into another vampire who might prove to be an interesting travel mate. A French Cajun by the name of Laurent. We'd spent time together on the docks, drinking in our fill of silly, bleating humans. Upon my departure, he'd told me of his favorite haunts in the event I wanted to meet up with him again.

The respite from Alice's siren allure had done wonders. I felt more in control as I made my way back to Biloxi and the Brandon house to check on "my human," having been away for months.

An unpleasant surprise waited me. A new woman, Alice's sister, but no Alice. Suppressing my anger, I waited for several nights outside the home, thinking that perhaps she'd gone on a trip with her mother. The evening her father returned and kissed the strange woman on the steps, I knew something had occurred, and a little later in the night, her sister inadvertently educated me. Alice had been sent to Jackson, to the Mississippi State Insane Hospital after having predicted her mother's death. Cynthia was arguing with her father that she should be allowed to visit, and he adamantly refused. Alice was all but dead to him; and therefore, to the family. A few discreetly asked questions in the city revealed that her father had remarried almost immediately upon her mother's death. I was certain that Alice's father had been the monster there.

I left town immediately and made Jackson before the sun rose.

The wails of the miserable humans was almost deafening as I drew near the hospital, the stench of decaying bodies almost intolerable. The Insane Asylum, as it was still called even though the Governor had attempted to polish it up with a new name, was a beautiful facility on the surface, set on heavily wooded acres. The rich red brick rose out of the ground for several stories, the portico of the central entrance rose above the levels as if portraying the lofty proposition for which it was originally built. But scratch the surface, and you found the true purpose of the facility…to hide the humans that family no longer wanted…the embarrassments…the secrets. It did not escape a part of my mind that I would have felt at home here as a human.

Drinking in the scents surrounding me, it seemed at least one vampire made it his/her home as well.

Seeing the sun rising, I knew that I would need to find shelter before I could begin the search for My Alice. Forcing a window in a derelict part of the building, I stole into the deep basement recesses of the structure to wait. The screams of the torment above my head surrounded me, satisfying the darkness within me in a strange vicarious manner. As a stray beam of early morning light hit my skin, causing a brief shimmer, I leaned against the door that would lead into the room so that no human would find me and let the beast within me have free will. He growled softly in pleasure at the abundant quarry above, reveling in the sounds of torture and moans of pain emanating from the inmates that even other humans felt beneath them…refuse…for in reality, life was all about being on the top of the food chain.


After dumping the body I'd drained into the furnace, I shrugged on the worker's clothing and began making my way through the hallways. It occasionally amazed me that humans would think I was the monster, when I saw the manner in which they treated their own. It was a perfect setting for murder, this asylum. Suddenly, I caught the scent of the vampire I had detected earlier in my initial approach to the area, the smell lacing itself throughout the hallways. I took a deep sniff of the other's scent, and I idly wondered why this one was here, and when I would run into him or her. A good fight was always welcome. Searching the hallways took time as I had to hide several times in a simple game of cat-and-mouse to avoid the humans that mimicked work, largely ignoring the ones that suffered around them. What was important was finding My Alice. Just before the sun rose again, I caught Alice's unmistakably delicious scent on the second floor. The location infuriated me though, as I took a look into the room where the electrical devices used for electro shock therapy were kept next to a long plain wood table with leather headrests. My sight caught a single long raven strand of hair caught amidst the others, and plucking it from the joint of the wooden table, I inhaled the heady fragrance. She'd been here and the low growling from my chest escaped without care. Shock therapy… it could destroy her mind so easily. I growled furiously.

Seeing a file cabinet to the side, I pilfered through the drawers, snatching a file labeled with her name. Moving quickly, I blurred down the stairs to hide in the basement before finding a corner to review what was contained within the record.

Patient: Mary Alice Brandon

Sex: Female

DOB: February 21, 1901

Age: 19 years

DOA: September 5, 1920

I read the latest entry first.

Patient notes:

1920-11-15 Patient administered shock treatment under direct supervision of physician. Patient unresponsive to therapy, experiencing continued hallucinations and sensitivity regarding light sources. Patient continues to insist on seeing "demonic" figures which appear incandescent in nature. Staff indicate that patient displays fear of light and have recommended restraint in controlled setting.

Patient exam: Female patient who appears younger than stated age. Pupils reactive, heart and pulse rate normal. Thin, possibly undernourished. Slight temperature, but staff denies any sign of illness. Patient uncommunicative.

Doctor's orders:

1920-11-15 Continue daily shock therapy, monitor for signs of Typhoid, commence with treatment upon first signs of illness.

Patient notes:

1920-11-14 Patient administered shock treatment under direct supervision of physician…

The daily notes revealed a history of aggressive treatment for psychosis. It was clear though what was really happening…the doctors had been paid to "take care of Alice." It was barbaric to expose her to daily levels of shock. I paged through the reports quickly seeing note after note of the same practices…ECT and seclusion in a darkened cell. Frustratingly, there was no notation as to where she was being housed. I could continue blindly looking, or wait and follow. Deciding to just to bide my time, I walked back to the room after it had quieted for the night, and replaced the file, going next to find cleaning supplies. Sometimes the best place to hide was in plain sight. Grabbing the rag and disinfectant, I began scouring the hallway. I did not detect a fresh scent of the other vampire and wondered where the other immortal was. All I could do was bide my time.

So wait I did, and when a few hours later I heard the sound of a gurney being wheeled toward us, it took everything I had to keep from twisting around to see her. The scent that preceded the sound down the hallway told me everything I needed to know. She never whimpered or moaned or moved as the electrical currents raced through her body. It was as if she was in a prison of her own making, safely tucked away from the reality around her. The doctor's scribble of the pen against the folder was perfunctory, the nurses never saying a word. The gurney, with her immobile body upon it, was placed in the hallway like a pile of unwanted rags while the nurses flirted with the doctor.

The temptation was too great, and I surreptitiously moved to her. Her long black hair streamed over the edge of the device; her eyelids scrunched tightly together as if in pain. I could only imagine, but to have the strength to remain quiet during that torture was astounding. She was far tougher than any of my other victims. Perfect for me…

"Alice, I'm coming for you."

I couldn't resist and reached over to pick up a lock of hair to sniff at it. Mouthwatering. So mouthwatering. Pleasure, need, and rage swirled within, battling each other for dominancy as heart rate picked up at my words. Hmm…she'd heard me. Sensing the nurses beginning to walk my way, my fingers tightened on the hair in my grasp territorially, but I forced myself to release her.

"Tonight, little one. Tonight." I attempted to say the words softly, but they came out wrong, sinister.

I growled as the red, that precipitated the beast's control, hazed my eyes and perception. Alice actually whimpered at the sound. It only encouraged the beast, to know that she would react in fear to us, but not the horrific abuse she'd just endured. The whimper brought on visions of Martha, my mother, and a myriad of other nameless dark haired, dark eyed faces, and the desire to hurt her took over temporarily. Within the moment, I was down the hallway as far as I could get from her.

Waiting at least an hour before I followed her scent through the long corridors, I went down via the lift to the dark and dank basement floor. I knew now where she was, and as I walked past the door to her room that was being locked by one of the attendants, grinned in delight. This night, Mary Alice Brandon would be mine, but first I was off to feed again, in hopes that it would be forever and not as a release or a meal.


Soft moans of terror and pain escaped the locked cells to each side as I stole back in upon my return from getting my fill. The smell of the other vampire was strong here, and I assumed he/she scavenged from these - the most undesirable of human undesirables. It was at that thought that fear and rage took over. Alice was mine, and if the other one threatened what was mine, destruction would occur. The rage turned to something more sinister when I saw that the padlock on her room had been shattered. As I feared, the room was empty. The vampire had stolen My Alice! I growled furiously. The hunt was on.


As I followed the scent, I determined my elusive prey must be male, because there were threads of desire woven within the vampiric smell. Usually when I tracked my prey, it was as if I had a sixth sense about where my quarry was headed in their flight. This vampire was no different, but he was surprisingly crafty, and to my discomfited surprise, succeeded in eluding me for three days. I'd followed them through Mississippi into Arkansas, and then from Arkansas to Oklahoma. When I passed through the Arkansas River into the Fort Smith area, I grinned with glee as I caught their combined scents again. The increase in concentration of him on the limbs and leaves told me he was slowing down. How appropriate that I would catch up to them here…where I'd ended Martha's life. After Champ's death, she'd fled Tennessee with their daughter. I do believe that she'd been intelligent enough to suspect that I had a hand in my mother's death and in Champ's capture, but I'd caught up to her very close to where I was now. How apropos that I would acquire my new companion, my new compatriot, here, where I'd captured the traitorous bitch and embraced that which lived within me.

It would seem that Fate had led us here. Alice, with her dark eyes and hair, would replace the memory of the ones who'd rejected me, found me lacking. She would take away the pain inflicted by the others.

I found them nearing midnight, but all my hopes shattered as I took in the scene in the small clearing and the smell of My Alice wafted over me, along with that of the one who had stolen her. The vampire, who looked to be an old one from the appearance of his skin and his features, had butchered her hair. It stood out in various short lengths around her face; the long locks I'd adored had fallen prey to the fire that burned not far from her. She lay on the ground, eyes staring blindly up at the dark sky, her heartbeat already taking flight signaling the end of the change. The old one crouched over her protectively, running his fingers across her face and whispering soothing words to her.

Roaring out my fury, I ran into the area and knocked the vampire away from where he crouched ferally before her, as if he was protecting her from me. I realized with sharp bitterness that he'd bitten her, and then carried her during the time it had taken to allow the venom to change her, only stopping as she reached the end. He'd destroyed My Beautiful Alice. My face distorted in fury as I faced the other one.

Sharp laughter echoed across the area. "She saw you coming, you know…begged me to cut her hair. Why is that?" he taunted.

I snarled at him as I leapt. He was fast, there was no doubt, but I could tell that he didn't have my expertise at warfare. He would fall to me, and then I would destroy the creature he'd fashioned out of her. The short spiky hair was a sacrilege of the beauty that once had existed. Her black inky eyes, glowing red. Of course, they would have done the same when I turned her, but it would have been my venom, and I would have kept her long and flowing hair to wrap myself in…

"She was afraid, said you would lose control and kill her," he sneered, looking at me as if I was scum, judging me, and my vision started narrowing on him. "She also told me that you were the one that killed her cousin, is that true?"

"His foolish behavior brought on his death, I only expedited it."

"Well, at least you can't hurt her now," he murmured, obviously pleased.

"Really?" my satisfied drawl carried my thought of his ability to stop me. "I'll tear her apart after I burn your pieces."

"You can try," he snarled back, but the lack of fear in his eyes gave me pause. Perhaps I'd underestimated him.

When he lunged at me, I realized that he too used subterfuge. The battle was ferocious, and I reveled in every moment of it. He was a worthy adversary, and we ended up in the river, clawing at each other as the current carried us far downstream. When the force of our bodies shattered a granite rock in the middle of the river, I used his distraction to end his existence. A nice meal of several trappers was a welcome treat to help heal the deep gashes he'd inflicted, and the fire an easy remedy for the twitching parts of the vampire that'd ruined my plans.

Turning back toward the direction of the clearing where Alice lay frozen in the change, I felt the rage simmer. Venom boiled beneath my skin as I thought of My Alice, burned forever away by his interference. I'd had plans for her, for us. But now, she would never be mine in the way I'd planned. Like all the others, she'd been claimed by another man first. My mother hadn't ever been able to see past Champ, neither had Martha. Had she encouraged him, the tart! Or had she been his victim?

What had he meant by the fact she wanted her hair shorn? For shorn it was, and the only thing I could reckon had done it was his teeth.

ThatIwouldhurther? That is what she'd said.

My mind spun and raged. Had she seen me losing control? Maybe by ensuring that her hair was cut short, she'd known that the other need wouldn't burn so brightly? Did that mean she'd done what she had so that we could be together? Maybe Alice had had a vision that it was the only way. Encouraged by the possibility, I began running at full speed back to her.

But it would seem that Fate had really just conspired against me, and I screamed my wrath to the night sky when I got to the clearing.

She was gone!

The scent of her still saturated the air, but where she'd laid frozen in the last vestiges of the change, nothing but a depression in the grass remained. She was a newborn and that did not bode well for being on her own. I followed what I'd missed before, her scent, which led back to the river. She'd tried to follow me…find me…the beast within me purred at the thought. But then fear took hold. My Alice, she wouldn't be able to track me in the water. The Arkansas River was just shy of 1,500 miles long and it dumped into the larger Mississippi. Even for a vampire, it could take months to cover every inch to pick up a scent. And, depending upon how much time she spent in the water, the rain, elements, and wandering humans could wipe away her scent even for a vampire who knew what to do.


I couldn't find her. Even with all my skills and intuition as a tracker, months later, it was as if My Alice never existed. Frustrating. Insidious thoughts crept through my mind. Her visions could have taken over, rendering her useless. She could have been destroyed by another nomadic vampire. She could have been found by the Volturi. But the most dangerous of all… that she was avoiding me, didn't want me, had never looked for me. I refused to consider that last possibility. She'd told the old one of me and my impending visit. Couldn't she see and know that I was looking for her? Wouldn't she be able to pinpoint where she was destined to find her mate? Wouldn't she search tirelessly to find me, no matter how long it took?

When the weeks wore into months, and the months into a year, I grudgingly abandoned the search. She wasn't worth the effort. I concluded that like all the other women in my life, she'd apparently chosen something over me, and if and when I ever ran into her again, I would make her pay. I would take something from her that she valued, as she'd taken the possibility of our happiness with her. The beast in me growled at the thought of vengeance.


"James, shall we venture to Mexico next?" Laurent idly suggested. He reclined on the couch of the house where we'd fed. The bodies of the family we'd devoured were piled in a heap at the back door, waiting for us to dispose of them in the Bayou on our way out of town. I toweled my hair, having taken advantage of the bathroom's shower to clean up. We'd been living in the streets for way too long. A night's respite to take advantage of the human amenities was well appreciated.

We'd grown bored with the nightlife in New Orleans. The 1960's had been an era of free love and even freer feeding. So many children running away from the strict structure of their parents. So naïve and idealistic…they were as much slaves to the drugs they utilized "to free their spirits" as their parents were to their morals. The seventies had evolved from free love to anti-war demonstrations and then into political intrigue. These all provided greater opportunities for us to take our prey with little notice.

Having already pulled on a pair of jeans, I slipped the T-shirt on that I had also obtained from the man's high drawers. I scorned the shoes and socks. "Sure, whatever."

"I've heard that there is a female vampire there that holds some power. She was a major force during the newborn wars. I would enjoy some female companionship," he murmured in that accented French patois voice of his. His eyes glittered at me as he spoke lightly.

It had been awhile, and there was nothing to hold us here, so as soon as the night fell, we took off, carrying the bodies only far enough to dispose of them appropriately. Making Texas within hours, we followed the trails of sweet vampire scents and passed across the border into Mexico quickly. We were met not too much later near Ciudad Juarez by several males - guards. One look at us, and their defensive behavior became an immediate irritant, but I forced myself to appear calm. My patience was rewarded when we followed the guards into a shaded ranch in the northern area of the state of Chihuahua. A multitude of scents hit me as we walked into the area, but the house and barn area was clear except for a small group of vampires. Laurent's low growls of pleasure echoed around us when he spotted several females, but my attention was immediately focused on the woman who stepped out of the home. Petite, her black hair swirled around her, feathering against her waistline enticingly. Her Mexican heritage was evident in the slightly darker hue of her skin, and I could easily imagine flashing dark eyes. My nostrils flared as I searched for her scent, and smiled in delight, licking my lip ever so slightly when the pleasurable smell wafted across me. When her eyes narrowed on me, I refused to back down.


"Laurent left this afternoon," Maria informed me when I came into the home, having just returned from the city. Several of us had gone on a feeding expedition.

"All is well. I assumed he would soon. We'd spoken about it from time to time, and it is our habit to come and go at will."

"You will be leaving as well soon, I think," she said casually.

"Most likely. I'm feeling the need to roam. I don't understand this propensity you have to settle in a permanent location."

The fact that I'd stayed for over a year was unheard of for me, a nomad, and a testament to her "skills." What I didn't tell her was that I'd grown bored of the hunt here. Dark haired, dark eyed petite women were a dime a dozen, and the thrill was beginning to wane, the screams weren't bringing the release for us like before. It was becoming more difficult to obtain the pleasure, as I felt disconnected to myself and existence; as if the control he had over our mind and body during the process was slipping because the experience wasn't vibrant enough. Countless women had died at our hand, the kills becoming more and more blatant and gory, all in an effort to regain the rush. We were becoming desperate, edgy.

"You'll be missed, here, James," Maria murmured coming from behind me, giving me a slight hug, regaining my attention by running her fingers across my chest suggestively.

I'd even lost interest in Maria. My original thought that she might be my help mate had changed quickly; her dominant nature didn't allow her to be what I needed. We were fuck buddies, no more. She was a hellcat in bed, pleasing, but not someone I wanted to spend time with other than occasionally. I infuriated and turned her on in equal measure when I tore the flimsy shirt from her body and pinned her to the floor as a result of her teasing. I would at least enjoy her while I remained, and the dawn broke before we were satisfied with each other. Also, I wasn't interested in her desires for power and territory; neither interested me at all. We only lived to roam and hunt for prey.

"You'll venture back to the States?" she questioned a little too eagerly, and it made me wonder if she was tired of me as well.


She ran her fingers across my chest and followed with her lips before pursing them when she looked up at me. "Would you honor a request from me?" She nipped at my stomach. "There is a family, a highly unusual vampire coven; if you run across them…" her lips traveled downward to a much more pleasurable location "…it would please me if you killed the little witch. She took something valuable from me."

"Little witch?" I hissed as her very talented tongue moved across me, lapping at me.

"She took My Jasper from me, and they have fallen in with a bunch of talented ones. I went to retrieve him, but I was naïve enough to do it alone. I failed, but I believe he would have followed me if SHE hadn't interfered. I would be very grateful if you run across them, if you took care of her."

I was distracted by her talented mouth for another hour before I thought to ask. "Tell me about them?"

"The coven leader is odd; he espouses a diet of animal blood over humans." I laughed believing that she was attempting to be funny, but then I saw her seriousness. "They all attempt it, some with more success than others." I shook my head at the unbelievable tale, but she continued. "My Jasper, he can influence emotions, and the reddish headed one can read minds."

"Read minds?" I barked out incredulously. If true, I thought to myself that would be one formidable opponent should I ever run across him.

"From what I could tell, every thought. It was quite disconcerting." A look of hatred crossed across her face. "But the Bruja!" she spit the last word out. "I would like nothing more than to find out that you destroyed her. I would consider it a personal favor."

Maria was bloodthirsty and possessive, and I could imagine anyone who took something from her would be considered the ultimate in enemies. I was grateful that she'd never considered me more than a passing fancy. I would have hated to have to destroy her…she was a pleasant distraction. For a time.

"Certainly, I'll take care of it for you if I run across them," I chuckled, moving off the bed we'd finally crawled into. Pulling my clothes back on, I realized that I was anxious to get away from here, from her. The twitch of my muscles was beginning to grow strong, the need to hear a human begging for mercy amplifying each day. The women here were all wrong for some reason…too common, too easy. Not worth my time and effort.

"Should I be concerned about her for any reason?" I said as sincerely as I could. I was still a little entertained with her tale of animal loving vampires that could read my mind or make me weep.

"It's probably hopeless to even ask for your intervention, she'll just see your coming," Maria spit out and then followed that announcement with a round of inventive Spanish curses.

I'd frozen at the shiver of electricity that flowed over me…it couldn't be…

"Little Alice is such a know it all," she grumbled as the beast in me roared to life.

My Alice…


I'd known it would most likely be fruitless, but starting in Calgary, where she'd last seen them when I questioned her on her visit, had been my only thought as to where to begin. The house now belonged to humans, and there was nothing left of the Cullens there (or of the humans after I finished with them). It had been almost twenty years, so I wasn't surprised and searched all of Alberta without running across a grouping of vampire scent, before deciding to move into British Columbia. Having come into contact with humans more regularly over the years, I was grateful that I'd taken the time to accustom myself to living in their world as it made my tracking easier. Some vampires were fascinated by our food source; Alice's maker had been one, but I wasn't as intrigued by them, other than when my hungers hit. However, as I mingled amidst the crowds with ease while wearing dark sunglasses that I'd taken off some human after feeding, I chuckled as they subtly moved away from me even with the trappings of humanity I'd assumed.

But as I done decades before, I spent weeks looking only to come up with nothing. I hadn't met these Cullens, so it wasn't as if I could use my sixth sense, and Alice's continued ability to stymie me was a confounding experience. I'd reached the Pacific Ocean, having left the town of Victoria the sole remaining place to visit before I crossed over to the mainland of the United States. It was a college town, and as such, a good place to find a quick and easily obtained meal.

It wasn't long after I reached the University that I found the action. The girl streaked away from the men who chased her, her elaborately teased, blazing-red hair streaming out behind her. She was amazingly brilliant about the strategy she employed to escape them…possibly even talented. Her manners intrigued me as well as I followed her, leaping from rooftop to rooftop. I'd been stalking one of the men for a meal when I realized they were chasing someone. She'd then become my focus. The red hair insured that my darkest need remained buried, but her attitude made me want to laugh…a first. Other women would be sobbing hysterically, but not her. I heard the curse words flowing from her lips as she searched for something. When she rounded the corner to find a bunch of discarded crates and a dead end, I thought I might see the traditional breakdown…she was trapped. Instead, she ran to the pile and quickly pilfered through it, grabbing two broken shards of wood. Turning, she assumed a defensive stance. I shook my head at her foolishness, but realized that she was inordinately impressive in her futile ferocity.

The men turned the corner and began the process of taunting her, but the redhead never moved, holding her stance. Had there been only been one or two, I do believe she would have defeated them and escaped. It'd only been the result of being corralled by a multitude that saw her captured. I decided in that moment that she wasn't going to die this day, at least by their hands.

Leaping over the side of the building, I came to land at her side. She gasped and crouched even closer to the ground attempting to pay attention to both myself and the others. Her dark eyes flashed at me, and I was grateful in that moment that at least something would come to me with this human. I could always have her wear a black wig and remember her human eyes when I needed the play.

"Don't worry, I'll take care of them for you," I said softly before pouncing.

The bodies littered the alleyway before she could blink. So easy to kill. She watched in confusion as I stalked toward her, the only one I'd left living dangling from my arm. I unceremoniously pulled my dinner across the concrete, coming to stand in front of her. I'd worry about getting her something to eat once I had her settled, needing to know where we were going to be before I stockpiled a few humans for her. Pulling the body up, I bit into the human's neck, letting her see what she was to become. As the rich blood flowed down my throat, her eyes twitched in disbelief and perhaps just a small degree of interest. Full, I thought it was now or never.

"This will only hurt a little," I said softly before blurring forward.


At times, I wondered why there was such a fuss made about vampire mating. First, I'd tried with Maria, with no success, and then had come Victoria. Certainly having her around was convenient, and her uncanny ability to retreat from sticky situations was entirely useful for many of my plans, but she was annoying…often. I'd named her after the city I found her in, but had I known her nature, I'd probably called her something less flattering. I didn't know if it was because she constantly used the L word, or whether it was because it was said in that "little girl" voice she had. Pervert, I was not, and the baby like quality was distracting, particularly when we were having sex. Luckily, she was creative enough, our repertoire of sexual games immense enough, to keep my venom flowing.

She had been entertaining, though, for the past twenty years, indulging my every whim and even participating in my hunts. She understood me, catered to my needs, and encouraged me. She'd never questioned me, protected me, and put me first in every manner, unlike all the others in my life. She was ideal, all except for the brash hair that shimmered around her like a flame. But even with that, as I'd hoped, she would don various outfits for me when I desired it. Multiple bite marks adorned the skin below her clothing, further testament to her desire to please me. Her cries of pain from my venom were, while not totally satisfying, at least a temporary panacea when the monster raged. She was my mount, nothing more, but she had value to me in that way at least.

She was perfect for me. So why I didn't feel the "deep bond" with her, I'd never know. I'd come close once to feeling the indescribable connection. It had been when she'd supplied me my most alluring hunt. A dark head, dark eyed female…who was also a werewolf.

We'd been visiting Europe then, tired of the northern United States and needing a break. Or so I'd told Victoria, and she'd blindly followed. In reality, I'd heard of a large coven living in Europe, and I was eternally on the hunt for My Alice. We'd found the vampires in Ireland, but it wasn't the group I was seeking so we left quickly. But we were already there, so there was no need to hurry. We journeyed across Europe and into Russia, and my patience was ultimately rewarded in the ultimate chase across Siberia.

It had been exhilarating, mind tingling, venom producing hunting in the finest form.

The woman, when she'd changed under the influence of the moon, had been almost undetectable to my sixth sense. We'd had to work for her, chasing across the frozen tundra for months. It was our finest hunt to date. The thrill of the twists and turns had made the slicing of her throat exceedingly beautiful, breathtaking actually. Her unpalatable blood had been left to drain down onto the pristine snow. Intriguingly, she'd turned back to human when we'd delivered the fatal blow, and so I'd arranged her across the fluffy white background in a gruesome parody of Snow White.

I'd taken, in the last several decades, to arranging the death scenes of certain of my female kills in various dramatic ways…setting stages to mock those that would find the women. I knew it was against the "rules" to do so, but it was my contribution to this game we played, and it provided the thrill that was slowly waning as the kills had turned just too easy, the victims unworthy of our interest. But hers had been the ultimate thus far, although I doubted anyone would find her in the desolate place where we'd finally run her to the ground. Her black hair fanned out around her face, dark eyes staring up to the starlit heavens, and I crossed her hands in pleasant repose across her naked chest. It would have been perfect except for the stench of the unpalatable crimson liquid that congealed around her.

When I'd wrestled control away from the dark entity within me, I'd taken Victoria with much enthusiasm just beside the quickly cooling body.

The experience had been the supreme high, but I worried that perhaps with the killing of such a talented creature, I'd reached the pinnacle…the utmost experience. Fear clawed at me, for what could be a more challenging hunt than a werewolf? The monster also stirred uncomfortably, worried that his needs wouldn't be met. Unease and uncertainty were not our friends. I needed the ever-constant thrill of the hunt to increase. It was my high.

But as the 20th century gave way to the 21st and the humans around us worried about the end of the world at the hands of the computers they'd created, Victoria and I stole upon a tanker headed back to the United States. We were going to search out Laurent again; it had been awhile since the Frenchman and I had kept company.


"James, why do you indulge in this silly subterfuge? Why does it matter that someone might know you are our leader?" Laurent scoffed. "We've been traveling together again for the past few years, and it has yet to make a difference."

"Because it pleases me and because one day it might make the difference."

Victoria giggled at my rebuke of his question. "James," she purred in her baby voice. "Since we are so close to where you found me, can we travel there next?"

It was as good a destination as any, although why she hadn't thought of that before we left Ontario heading south I'd never know. Seattle was growing boring as well. We'd been here entirely too long. "We can travel around in a loop and travel up the coast," I suggested, much to her delight, as Victoria liked to swim in the ocean.

Our travel was unhurried, no particular destination in mind other than the town in which I'd acquired my helpmate. We moved through the woods leisurely, watching the horizon darken with the impending storm. The feel of electricity in the air foretold a particularly lively one. So when the sounds of thundering crackling through the forests reached us, it took a minute to discern that it wasn't lightning bolts after all.

"Others?" Laurent questioned with an eager glance at us.

"Perhaps," was my only comment, beginning forward while instinctually noting landmarks and possible routes of escape. Victoria did the same.

Upon breaking through the forest line to the large clearing in front of us, my mind froze, the monster roaring into control, taking away all rational thought, and he intelligently forced us behind Laurent.

Before us was a coven of eight, having been playing baseball of all things. But they were ready for us, standing in a loose formation as we came to a halt a short distance from them. As Laurent exchanged pleasantries with them and proposed joining the game, the beast studied them, studied their relationships, their strange golden eyes, and assessed who was with whom, biding his time. The beast's eyes lingered very briefly over the scarred one and the short-haired female to his side, preoccupied with the coven leader. The rational side was only a very thin veneer over the beast. However, his fragile control was shattered when the wind stirred the one female's hair at the side of the red-headed vampire, bringing her scent to me as we inhaled deeply, and she inadvertently looked up. HUMAN! Long dark hair and eyes…

The monster shifted in an attempt to get to her, growling and the lean red-headed male in front followed in a dance of protection. The monster roared silently within, the noiseless sound filling all of my senses, wanting to get to her, to cut her, to heal her pain. For her eyes were tormented. Couldn't they see she needed help, needed to be released from her mortal bonds? Fury abounded when Laurent suggested urgently that we leave her alone, as her need to belong to me cried out, filling my head.

But follow I did, because I'd already decided that it was only a matter of time…


I sensed Victoria speaking to me, but the words were lost in a maelstrom of rage, desire, and overwhelming red haze. I pushed against the part of me that wanted the human beyond anything I'd ever experienced and finally regained control.

"James," she shrieked. "Laurent has left us; I think he headed to them for protection. What do we do?" she questioned, her voice rising.

"You, go track Laurent. Find out where their house is."

She obeyed immediately, as she always had. I ran in the direction they'd taken, knowing beyond all doubt that they would head for the town, for her human family.

As always, our instincts were correct. Even as fast as the Jeep they were driving could go, we caught up to them just before they pulled before the human's house. Fighting hard to keep our thoughts neutral so as not to reveal anything we'd learned, we listened to the conversation that occurred in the home. But when they left, I knew that we could easily trace the scent so we sat in the wood line and waited. As soon as I thought it was safe against the mind reader, I allowed myself to push against his control.

The monster's memories poured richly through me then as I forced myself to review just what had happened, allowing me to see everything in perfect detail.

My Alice…she was here. But, she'd looked at me with a blank stare as if she was unaware of me, who I was to her…as if I was beneath her, I decided. I was right all along; she'd chosen another, the scarred one, Maria's Jasper. This was the coven Maria had spoken of to me some time ago. The reality that my suppositions had been accurate made the rage grow within me - not him - me. I thought to the tiny dark eyed, dark haired human…they'd protected her. The one who read minds had seen our desire for her, and he'd crouched protectively in front of her, like the old one had Alice so many years ago. Keeping me away from what was mine. Visions of the old one and My Alice and the mind reader and His Bella swirled together, their features converging and distorting.

And it wasn't just the one; the young red-headed one that protected her. It had been the entire coven, each one of them thinking that they would thwart my desires and needs. It was the ultimate in challenges to take on not one but seven strong fighters. Even the beast had cackled in glee at that realization, and I was certain that the mind reader had picked up on how that would thrill us beyond all possibility. It was the greatest hunt we would engage in!

What they didn't realize was that her human eyes had sealed the deal. So warm, just a shade lighter than those of the usual victims I'd hunted, but what I'd seen in them was so different than any of my previous victims. She wanted to die, to be born to our life, I guessed. She wanted to have her pain released, to feel the burn of my cuts, and scream. And if that wasn't enough, as I heard the front door to the small house open, I realized just how fickle Fate had brought me around to this. The police chief, her father, stepped out of the house walking swiftly toward his marked police car. He stopped just as he made the side of the car and seemed to reconsider something. My guess was that after their fight, her hateful words, and his pleading, he was going to follow his daughter anyway. For a moment, I considered draining him, but I realized that I needed to meet up with Victoria and follow them to this home they'd discussed. I decided that I'd let this law officer live, at least long enough to dispose of the daughter. Then, I would come back to tell him of what I'd done and why. My father's death at Sheriff's Read's hand would be avenged when I caused this law officer the ultimate pain…the loss of his daughter. An eye for another eye. Perhaps I'd let him live, so that it could taint his life, as my loss had poisoned me. I smiled slightly at the thought.

But, I saw his name tag, and finally had a complete name for my victim. Bella Swan.

Bella Swan, the petite brown-haired brown eyed daughter of a law enforcement officer. Protected by a powerful coven of gifted vampires, beloved of My Alice who had forsaken me, who would grieve Bella's loss, as I had hers. Bella Swan, whose eyes were a window to her soul, a soul that cried to be released. Yes, I'd just been handed my most exciting game ever.

And when I destroyed the human that Edward Cullen desired…he would come after me. For once, I'd be the hunted, by someone that could actually prove a challenge. The role reversal promised a new high. As Charlie Swan softly cried and slowly turned back toward his house, the thrill of the ultimate hunt and its possible consequences swelled within me as I rose and began to move toward the Cullen household.


I'd set the stage perfectly. It would be visually dynamic, the room full of mirrors capturing every angle of her demise. For Bella Swan would die today. I would hurt her first, slowly and painfully, and record it for the mind reader and his family. Hopefully, Alice would view it, and her pain would be immense, her memories of the recording following her for the rest of her existence. I would also make sure that our shared history was revealed in some manner so that she knew that, in fact, she was partially responsible for my selection of Bella.

My conversation with the human girl on the phone had been lighthearted, and the pleasure I'd felt at how nicely my plan was working had been apparent in the tone I'd adopted…pleasant, light, and friendly. The genteel behaviors my parents had beaten into me had risen to the occasion, albeit dusty from misuse. This was a first, where the victim and I participated in discourse; I didn't count the begging and screaming that had been the norm of the others, so I used my best manners. My rotting, unworthy, unfaithful mother would have been proud. My lips twisted slightly at the memory.

Now, with the stage set and the girl on it, watching the dawning understanding wash across her face, I pushed the stop button on the VCR remote and felt magnanimous. "Sorry about that, Bella, but isn't it better that your mother didn't really have to be involved in all this?"

"Yes," she answered, relief apparent on her face.

Amazing. "You don't sound angry that I tricked you."

"I'm not."

"How odd. You really mean it." In a blazing burst of comprehension, I realized I was fascinated by this tiny human. Where others had failed, like My Alice, she intrigued me. She would never know what an honor that was. "I will give your strange coven this much, you humans canbe quite interesting. I guess I can see the draw of observing you. It's amazing – some of you seem to have no sense of your own self-interest at all."

Had any of my other victims had such a lack of self-preservation? My answer was no. See,youwereright,shewantsyourhelp,he told me. Releaseher, he begged, wanting to feel her skin under our fingertips.

"I suppose you're going to tell me that your boyfriend will avenge you?" It was my ultimate hope.

"No, I don't think so. At least, I asked him not to."

She'd conversed with him? It was against our agreement and her lack of proper respect for the rules we'd set out made me suddenly angry. What had been his reaction?

"And what was his reply to that?" I asked in a deceptively soft voice.

"I don't know. I left him a letter."

Ah…a letter. "How romantic, a last letter. And do you think he will honor it?" If she'd followed the rules, been honorable about them, would he exhibit the same decorum? It would ruin everything.

"I hope so."

"Hmmm. Well, our hopes differ then. You see, this was just a little too easy, too quick. To be quite honest, I'm disappointed. I expected a much greater challenge. And, after all, I only needed a little luck." I informed her then how Victoria had helped me track her and just how pathetically simple it'd been.

A letter. I kept coming back to that. She'd been so proper. "Would you mind, very much, if I left a little letter of my own for your Edward?" I turned on the camera I'd stolen from her mother's house and adjusted it. Edward would be unable to resist after this, and I told her so. "I'm sorry, but I just don't think he'll be able to resist hunting me after he watches this. And I wouldn't want him to miss anything. It was all for him, of course…"

It was my most perfect stage, better than even the werewolf. This would be my ultimate triumph…paying back Alice as well. Ah, Alice…time to let her know.

"I would just like to rub it in, just a little bit. The answer was there all along, and I was so afraid Edward would see that and ruin my fun." Let him wonder how I knew he was a mind reader. It would drive him crazy, since he wouldn't know of my affair with Maria. "It happened once, oh, ages ago. The one and only time my prey escaped me."

"You see, the vampire who was so stupidly fond of this little victim made the choice that your Edward was too weak to make. When the old one knew I was after his little friend, he stole her from the asylum where he worked – I never will understand the obsession some vampires seem to form with you humans…" my association was quick and to the point – feed – torture – release our pain "…and as soon as he freed her he made her safe. She didn't even seem to notice the pain, poor little creature. She'd been stuck in that black hole of a cell for so long. A hundred years earlier and she would have been burned at the stake for her visions. In the nineteen-twenties it was the asylum and the shock treatments. When she opened her eyes, strong with her fresh youth, it was like she'd never seen the sun before." I didn't personally know this, because if I'd been around to see her awake, we would not be here now. My Alice would have been mine, and she would remember me…our vampire minds never forgetting a moment from our awakening. "The old vampire made her a strong new vampire, and there was no reason for me to touch her then. I destroyed the old one in vengeance."

"Alice," she breathed out, having deduced exactly who I was speaking about. She was so intelligent; it really was a shame she had to die. I'd grown tired of Victoria. Bella would've made a pleasant playmate for a time.

I smiled in savage humor.

"Yes, your little friend. I was surprised to see her in the clearing. So I guess her coven ought to be able to derive some comfort from this experience. I get you, but they get her. The one victim who escaped me, quite an honor actually." But I was hoping she would burn in agony for her little human friend, so my torture in this instance would just be conveyed in a different form.

I took a step toward her and lifted a lock of her hair up to take a deep breath. Not nearly as mouthwateringly appealing as Alice's human scent, but pleasant in the way I'd told her. I jerked several strands loose, her fear so strong that she didn't even notice, before I patted the hair back in place along her throat. The long lengths would join my other souvenirs.

"No. I don't understand…" I taunted Edward vicariously through the recording "…well, I suppose we should get on with it. And then I can call your friends and tell them where to find you and my little message." I would take the time to arrange her first, naked, so that her vampire would think I'd taken liberties with her as well. He would burn with rage, and I hoped it would insure his immediate pursuit.

I wanted to scare her to see what happened, so I crouched, smiling viciously, and the reaction was immediate. She ran, much to my delight. I leapt in front of her and backhanded her across the chest sending her flying back into the mirrors. I was elated to see the image appearing on my screen, the mirrors capturing the action from the various angles. I told her as much.

"I thought this room would be visually dramatic for my little film. That's why I picked this place to meet you. It's perfect isn't it?"

And it was. As I watched her begin to crawl across the floor and captured it digitally, I realized that I would be acquiring more of these devices. Watching my actions was actually quite stimulating. I'd never raped the women before, but I could see the allure. Just watching Bella move silently away made the monster and I writhe in pleasure.

Time to make her scream, though. Leaping to her again, I insured that my foot came down on her leg. The sound of it snapping was almost as satisfying as the screams that finally erupted from her. I honed in on her face so that Edward could see her features distort in agony, could see her eyes go wide in shock. Panning out, I caught her reaching for her leg gently as if she could stop the pain, wanting his last vision of her to be her pleading for him to rescue or avenge her.

"Would you like to rethink your last request?" I nudged her leg just above the break and all but came from the overwhelming sexual pleasure crashing through me as she screamed. "Wouldn't you rather have Edward try to find me?"

"No!" she strangled out. "No, Edward, don't-"

Rage washed through me as she didn't do what I'd expected. The others had begged for mercy and called upon someone to help them. I slapped her across the face for her audacity to be different. Surprise, that I hadn't crushed her skull, ran through me as she was thrown back into the mirrors again. When blood gushed down from where the sharp glass tore her scalp, the monster wanted her, I wanted her, and it combined in a hunger to take her and kill her at the same time. CouldIdoit, I wondered…hold off the monster's needs for my own. Growling when I saw her eyes begin to close, I moved rapidly to her, beginning to pull at my clothes.

The monster battled against me, but I was determined to have my way at first. So, when she raised her hand as if in protection, I realized she'd supplied my answer. I would bite her, and the burn of the venom would help rouse her for my final torture.

But just as I went to do it, I heard the snarl and a deep wild roar just outside the room…he was here. The damn letter, she'd told him, but I refused to lose this game. Grabbing her hand, I bit into the flesh at her wrist quickly, knowing the venom would spread and that her tortured screams would fill the room as I fought him. I'd leave him in pieces so that he had to watch me despoil her before I burned her part by part and listened to him scream. Then I'd leave and let him find a way to reassemble before he could chase after me. I dropped the video camera on the floor, hoping it would capture it all.

He crashed into me, pushing us away from the girl that lay writhing on the floor. I chuckled in glee as I came to a crouch and the sounds of her whimpers started filling the air around us like a wicked Wagner-like symphony. The look on his face was the one that I hoped to find when we finally did meet…devastation and rage in equal parts; it would make him stupid and reckless.

"Not really," he snarled.

I was confused until I remembered he could read my thoughts and suddenly my defeat of him didn't seem so simple. The smile on his face at my recognition was a little too smug, and visions of the old one's assurance raced through my mind. Lunging at him, I was quickly and succinctly pinned to the floor. I was stunned at the simplicity at which he'd taken me. The growls of rage that ripped through him only increased as she started screaming, and I attempted to throw him off, but he countered me at every step. Then I heard his coven members enter the room, and I was snatched up by Jasper and the big one, both brutally holding my arms tight. Having abandoned me like a forgotten toy, Edward rushed to join Carlisle and Alice as they kneeled over the girl.

Seeing the extent to which I'd damaged her, he cried out, "Oh no, Bella, no!"

His anguish was all it took. The brothers began tearing at me, and I growled deeply at the knowledge it was over…my existence…my hunts…my games. They would all be reduced to a pile of ashes…unrecognized. But a sudden burst of joy raced through me as I realized that at least I'd claimed her in a way that he never would, just like the old one had taken Alice from me, having injected his venom into her. Edward would always have a reminder of me; know that I was her sire. He began begging her as the big one ripped my legs and then head from my body.

From that point, I saw it all through a numb, otherworldly haze, Jasper holding my head as his brother began to build a fire. I was silent now, unable to do anything other than observe, and in a strange moment of reality, I realized that this is what it must have felt like for my victims…helpless and without a voice. As I continued to watch, the coven leader worked over her, checking her injuries and categorizing them. But as I detected the smell of my body roasting and knew that the end was near, the final insult to my life, the final insult of fickle Fate, unfolded in front of my frozen eyes.

The leader instructed Edward to attempt to suck my venom out and the damn mind reader complied. He spit the first mouthfuls out onto the floor, rejecting me as all others before him other than Victoria had, before finally taking a few long drinks as she screamed and thrashed against him. I raged, realizing that his bite would overlay my mark obscuring it.

As Jasper swung me around and tossed my head toward the fire, I received the final and last insult, a testament to my life…to the fact that all had considered me unclean.

"Her blood tastes clean…" Edward murmured in satisfaction.

As the fire licked hungrily at my skin, I opened my mouth to scream from the agony, but nothing would come out. My face froze in the death mask that I'd so often treasured on my victims. I didn't know which pain was worse, the flames hungrily devouring me or the sad realization that nothing of me would be left…

Would love to know what you think?

Many, many thanks to my three betas: Crmcneill, Hopeforastalemate, and Cold One Paul for taking their time out to make this one-shot shine.