Carlisle's POV

You are next, you bitch. You and your murdering mate Edward.

After reading that ominous note, I gazed around me and sniffed with a frown. Coco's scent was heavy in the air, but I could smell Victoria's just as much. It was a little faded, telling me that she had murdered Coco not that long ago. If I were to track her down, it would be easy. However, it was not the time for it. We had to deal with the matter at hand.

I turned to Isabella and my family. "Could someone please give me a dark towel and a box, please? We have to bury Coco," I murmured.

The requested items were handed to me seconds later.

"Thank you." I laid the towel over Coco and wrapped her in it.

Isabella petted the bundle as I placed it in the box. "She was such a beautiful little kitten. Why would Victoria want to kill her? She was barely more than a month old. And she had nothing to do with Edward killing James. She was innocent," she stated tearfully.

With a sigh, I embraced her comfortingly. "Other than the fact that Victoria is a psychopathic lunatic, I have no idea. But she will pay for this, and I will give you another kitten," I whispered.

"No," Bella remarked, stepping back and shaking her head. "Not now. Maybe you can one day, but not now or anytime soon. Coco shouldn't be so easily or so quickly replaced."

The others nodded in agreement.

"All right. Well, let's bury Coco now. We must do so quickly...Victoria may decide to come back."

Jasper took a few shovels out of the garage and handed one to me, Edward, and Emmett. All of us dug a hole in vampire speed while Bella and the others watched. When it was deep enough, we put the box inside before covering it with the upturned mud.

I selected a flat stone and chiseled on it with my fingers:

Here Lies Coco Cullen, Our Beloved Kitten

December 21, 2005-February 9, 2006

Isabella blinked in surprise. "How did you know that she was born on December 21st?" she inquired.

"A saleswoman at the pet store told me that she was," I replied as I propped the stone at the head of Coco's grave.

Once the headstone was situated, I stepped back and wrapped my arm around her waist. Everyone gazed at the headstone quietly. Isabella, Alice, Esme, and Rosalie had tears in their eyes. Edward, Emmett, and Jasper's expressions were as somber as theirs.

After a few moments, I used a water hose to get Coco's blood off of the wall and the grass. Luckily, it was not thick or sticky, so washing it away was easy. When I was finished, we headed inside.

"Family meeting in the living room. Now," I declared.

When we were in the aforesaid location, the others sat down. I remained standing, pacing back and forth as I gathered my thoughts.

A moment later, I nodded to myself and faced the others.

"Now that we know that Victoria is really coming for Isabella, we will undoubtedly have to keep a closer eye on her, Charlie, and our house. Alice, I want you to watch Victoria. If she decides to act, you are to let me know immediately. That way, I get to Isabella and protect her from harm if I am not around her. Edward will also need to be protected. And Isabella, I still want you to call me as often as possible so that I will know that you are all right," I announced.

Isabella and Alice inclined their heads.

"Don't worry. I have it covered," Esme stated.

Edward huffed. "I don't need to be protected. I am strong enough to take care of myself," he remarked.

"That is true, but you may need help to fight her. I will want to help you."

"I know that, baby, but I don't want you to get hurt."

Esme kissed him. "I will be fine. Besides, we will have a greater chance of getting rid of Victoria if we fight her together."

"Yes," Jasper agreed. "And you two will not have to be the only ones trying to stop her. Some of us can help too. Alice and I could help you and Edward, while Emmett and Rosalie helps Carlisle and Bella. Or it could be the other way around. In any case, we must help them."

Rosalie nodded emphatically. "That's right. A family must look out for and take care of each other."

Isabella, Alice, and Emmett did not comment on this, but I knew that they felt the same way as everyone else did.

My heart swelled with love and pride. I was so thankful that this was my family. I did not know what I would do without them.

"So...do we all understand what we have to do?" I questioned.

"Yes, Carlisle," they replied in unison.

I bobbed my head. "Good. Isabella, could you call Charlie and ask if you could spend the weekend here?"

"Yes. He won't mind...I'll just tell him that I'm going to be spending time with Alice and Rosalie," she noted.

Smiling a little, I waved my hand. "All right, the family conference is over. You may leave now," I proclaimed.

Everybody stood up and went their separate ways. Isabella and I headed upstairs to our bedroom.

She wrapped an arm around me. "Do you think that this is going to work? That everything will turn out okay?"

With a deep sigh, I kissed her forehead. "I don't know," I stated earnestly, "but I hope that it will. I couldn't bear it if I lost you or Edward."

She nodded. "I couldn't either."

Alice still wanted to celebrate in spite of everything, but I told her no. Instead, me and my family kept watch as Isabella slept. I stayed at the house with Alice, Jasper, and Emmett. Edward, Esme, Rosalie guarded the police station to keep Charlie safe.

Much to our surprise, Victoria did not come near Forks at all that night. She did not show up at our house or Isabella's. She did not go to the police station either.

"What do you think is holding her up?" I asked Alice.

She narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips. "She is waiting for the opportunity to catch Bella alone. There won't be a chance of that, though, since we're always protecting her and Charlie," she remarked.

I chuckled humorlessly. "Yes, that's true. However, she will grow tired of waiting and choose to confront us. I hope that I will be near Isabella when she does."

"I know what you mean."

The next morning, when I heard Isabella wake up, I went to check on her. She was curled up tightly. Even though her legs were under the blanket, I could see that they were bent so that her knees were close to her chest.

As I approached her, she turned to look at me. Her eyes were bloodshot and watery. Tears were running down her cheeks.

"What is wrong, sweetheart?" I queried in concern as I took her into my arms.

She hiccuped. "I was thinking about Coco and...and...It's my fault that Victoria killed her!" she abruptly declared with a sob.

I kissed her on the lips. "No, it isn't. Victoria's conflict with you and Edward is not your doing. And you had not asked for Coco to be put in the middle of it," I murmured gently.

"That's true," she whispered. "But still...I wish that I had stayed home that day when you guys were playing baseball. None of us would be going through this if I had. And Coco would still be alive."

"I understand why you feel that way, but we cannot rewrite the past. The only thing that we can do is prevent a tragedy like this from happening again, and keep you and Edward safe. You should be worry about your safety now, as well as his."

When she had finally stopped crying, she climbed off of my lap and went to take a shower. I decided to prepare breakfast for her.

"Carlisle?" Isabella mumbled wearily as she ate her sausages.

"Hmm?" I inquired.

"If it's safe to, can I go to buy some flowers to put on Coco's grave?"

"Of course you may, as long as I go with you."

I took her hand. "That won't be a problem."

After she finished washing her dishes, I drove her to a shop in town. She purchased a bouquet of artificial flowers, and then we quickly returned to the mansion.

Once we were there, Isabella headed straight for the backyard. She took the bouquet off of the wrapping and laid it before the headstone.

"I'm sorry that we were unable to protect you from that monster, Coco. What she did to you was so unfair. She should have gone after me instead of deciding to kill you," she whispered.

"Beloved..." I started to say.

She turned and shook her head at me. "No, Carlisle. I know that I am right. What good does it do to hurt a defenseless kitten, just because you are furious with the person who is taking care of it? You and I both know that Coco had nothing to do with this dispute. Not until that bitch murdered her anyway," she added bitterly.

Exhaling deeply, I wrapped my arm around her. "Yes, I do know that. Trust me when I say that you are right about most of what you said. But you know that I do not want Victoria to come after you or harm you in any way," I pointed out.

Isabella did not comment on this.

"Come on. Let's go in the house before you get too cold."

I asked Alice if Victoria had made any decisions to come to Forks while we were away. She said no, but she was still on the lookout for her.

Things were tense for the remainder of the day. Isabella mostly stayed in our room unless she was in the kitchen eating lunch or dinner. She was feeling very depressed and nervous and I did not wonder. Alice, Jasper, and Emmett checked in with us from time to time. Edward, Esme, and Rosalie called me every hour to let me know that everything was all right.

The next day, Sunday, was pretty much the same. None of us could really find much to do. Those of us who were in the mansion were too distracted to pay attention to anything or stay on one task for very long. We were so preoccupied in waiting for the news that Victoria had decided to attack Bella and/or Edward that we were unable to think of doing anything much.

Later that evening, Isabella had to return to her other home. I did not want her to go, but I knew that Charlie would worry if she was not in the house by a certain time. I accompanied her when she drove home.

"I will be guarding the house with Jasper, Esme, and Rose for an hour. Then I will ask Emmett to join them when he returns from hunting. Alice told me that he is on his way back now. Do you think that you will be okay until then, or would you like me to call you to make sure that you are safe?" I queried.

"I think so, but if it will make you feel better to call me, then you can do that. I don't mind," she responded.

"Are you certain?"

She nodded earnestly.

When she parked in her driveway, we embraced and kissed each other for a long moment. I waited until she had entered the house before running to where Esme, Rosalie, and Jasper were in the forest.

Esme was putting her phone in her pocket when I arrived there. "Alice called. She told me that as far as she could see, we are going to be all right, including Bella," she announced.

I grinned a little. "That's wonderful."

Rosalie hugged her knees and leaned her head against the tree she was sitting in front of. "Daddy, I'm tired of doing this. I'm tired of waiting for Victoria to decide to come and try to kill Bella and Edward. I almost wish that she would just come so that we can get rid of her as quickly as possible," she complained with a pout.

I sighed wearily. "I understand exactly how you feel, sweetie. And so am I...tired of having to do this, I mean, and tired of waiting for her."

Everyone else inclined their heads in agreement.

Bella's POV

Coco's death haunted me. Every time I thought about how ruthlessly Victoria had killed her, I could not help but feel that I was solely responsible for what she did. I also hated Victoria even more for doing that to her. I wished that I could have Known that she would plan to do that so that we could have made sure that nothing would happen to Coco.

Whenever I told Carlisle so, he would always try to convince me that it was not my fault. He told me that I had no cause to feel guilty because I did not know that Victoria would murder her. I was not Alice, so therefore, I could not know what would happen in the future.

He then explained that even Alice could not see everything that would happen in the future all of the time. She had not seen what Victoria had planned to do to Coco, but it wasn't her fault. As he said, she could not see everything. She wasn't perfect.

I understood what he was telling me. However, I still believed that I had at least some part in Coco's death.

I did not blame myself for not being there to protect her anymore. I wouldn't have been able to do that anyway. Victoria was much stronger than the both of us combined. She could crush us both in one instant.

Nevertheless, I still thought that Coco wouldn't be dead if I had not let Edward dazzle me into playing baseball with our family. Of course, I knew that it wasn't my fault that James, Victoria, and Laurent had come to the clearing where we were playing. The sounds of them playing made them curious, and they wanted to see what was going on. If I had only convinced Edward to take me home before they had showed up, James probably wouldn't have smelled my scent. Therefore, he would not have wanted to hunt me down and kill me.

I became more depressed than I had been since the day after Coco was murdered. I could barely eat, and it was nearly impossible to acquire any sleep.

Ever since Sunday night, I have had a recurring nightmare. In it, I was forced to watch Victoria mutilating Coco as I stood behind a glass wall. No matter how hard I tried, I could not break the glass to get to them. I could not stop her. I couldn't look away either, even though I wanted to. It was as if an invisible force kept my eyes glued to what was happening before me. But I wished that it didn't. It was horrifying to see Victoria making Coco bleed as she gutted her and slashed her skin open.

I spoke to Carlisle about my nightmare. He stayed with me every night to see if his presence would take them away. He would hold me close as I slept, as if doing so would prevent the bad dreams from coming. And they did, much to my delight and relief. I was happy that I could get the rest that I needed.

However, it was hard for me to concentrate on anything during the day, at school, work, and both of my homes. Coco was all I could really think about. As a result, my grades began to slip. I was warned more than once by my teachers that I needed to pay more attention in class, and to pick my grades back up.

"You are a very good student, Bella," my English teacher Mr. Berty said kindly after class that Wednesday. "I don't want you to start flushing your grades down the toilet. You are better than that. You and I both know that you are. If you are having problems at home or anything, you know that you are free to talk to me. And if not me, anyone else here."

"Thank you, Mr. Berty, but I'm not having problems at home. One of my kittens died last Friday. That's all," I admitted. But that was all I would tell him.

He pursed his lips in genuine sympathy. "I'm very sorry to hear that. Well, I hope that you'll be okay soon."

I smiled morosely. "Yeah."

Charlie was also concerned about and sorry for me. He didn't know the truth behind Coco's death either (like with Mr. Berty, all I told him was that she died), but he could see the affect it had on me. He patted my back and assured me that I would be okay after a while. That everything would get better, and perhaps Carlisle would find me a new kitten. I could only nod.

XXX

As if things couldn't be any worse than they already were, there were three "hiking accidents" near Forks later that week. Two people were killed in the first one, five people second, and one person in the third. Everyone had to be warned to stay out of the forest once more.

"This is really getting out of hand," Charlie stated in a worried voice as we were eating dinner Saturday night. "If that bear isn't found soon, there's no telling how many more people will turn up dead or missing."

The fact that Victoria was attacking people again was ominous to me, Carlisle, and my vampire family. We all knew that it meant that she was planning to finally deal with Edward and I. However, because she was changing her decisions so much, Alice was not sure when she was going to strike. But she knew that she would very soon.

Carlisle advised me to be more careful and watchful than ever. "We will make sure that we will too, so that we can protect you and Edward better. I want you to call me more often as well, and I will do the same," he added.

"Sure. You do realize that my phone bill is going to be high, though, don't you?" I inquired.

"Well, if it is, and you are unable to pay it, I can give you the rest of the money that you may need."

"You don't have to waste your money on me, baby. I can pay for it myself. I have some extra money saved up, so I'll be okay."

He rose an eyebrow. "Are you sure? You know that I don't mind helping you."

I inclined my head. "Of course I am. You know that I like to pay for things myself."

"If you say so, then," he sighed.

All of the craziness and grief stressed me out more than ever. Even if Coco hadn't died, it would have been almost impossible for me to sleep anyway. The racing thoughts in my head kept my up for half of the night.

I was highly nervous and tired all of the time now. My attention span was useless. I ate just about next to nothing. Every time I tried to, I felt nauseous before the food was even in my mouth. Either that or my stomach ached. As a result of this, I grew thinner. Neither Carlisle nor Charlie were very happy about that.

"You have to take better care of yourself, Isabella. You don't want to become ill. I understand that you have been very apprehensive lately. I have too. But you need to watch your health," Carlisle pointed out.

"What's wrong, Bella?" Charlie queried the day after. "You have been pretty edgy since last Thursday. Is it because of the bear attacks again?"

Exhaling deeply, I nodded, but didn't say anything.

He embraced me and rubbed my back. "Don't worry too much about it, honey. We are looking for the bear. And when we find it, hopefully there will be no more attacks."

If only you knew, I thought to myself dejectedly. Then again, it was better that he didn't. If he knew the truth, and the whole story behind all of this, he'd probably have a heart attack.

These were one of the times when I wished that I could tell him who was really behind these "accidents". But I knew that could never do that. Charlie would not believe me, plus he would have thought that I had lost my mind. And then he probably would have suggested to Carlisle that I should be institutionalized.

(Late Friday evening)

I was sitting up in bed, hugging my knees to my chest. I was more anxious and uptight than usual. Charlie was doing another night shift, and Carlisle was working late at the hospital once more, so I was alone.

Edward, Esme, and Alice were guarding my house about 100 feet away, but that did not make me any less nervous. Carlisle would call me every once in a while to let me know that he was all right, and that calmed me down some. Still, I would feel much better when I saw him.

By ten thirty, I had gotten a little sleepy, but I did not want to go to bed yet. I wanted to wait until Carlisle arrived before I did.

I picked up a novel and tried to read it, but I was too distracted. I kept looking up to see if he would appear in the window every two seconds. Finally, I was so bored and jumpy that I gave up. I turned off the lamp and dove under the covers.

The minutes passed by slowly as I attempted to settle my nerves. I wished that Carlisle didn't have to work late again tonight. But Victoria had killed three more people, so he had to stay at the hospital to help out with the bodies.

An hour passed and he still did not show up. Out of irritation, I snatched up my phone to send him a text message.

Just as I was about to, however, there was a noise outside of the window. I turned to see Carlisle entering my room.

"Hello there, Isabella," he greeted with a wan smile. He looked exhausted, if it was possible for a vampire to look that way.

"Hi," I returned.

Carlisle took off his shoes. "I had to shower before I came here," he said as he climbed into bed next to me. He wrapped his arms around me. "You are extremely tense, Beloved."

I shrugged. "I have things to be tense about. If I didn't, I would be able to relax," I mumbled.

"Unfortunately, that is true. Why don't I give you something else to think about for a while, then? You'll like it," he whispered, running his thumb across my nipple.

"Mmm. That would be nice," I said with a moan.

He leaned over and kissed me deeply. My lips moved in sync with his as he placed his hand on my thigh. It slid up to my panties before yanking them off. He sat me up and removed the cami that I was wearing. I pulled his shirt over his head and undid his jeans.

Carlisle threw his boxers aside. Then he gently pushed me onto the bed and hovered over me.

"Ready?" he questioned.

"Yes," I responded.

He kissed me again. At the same time, he drove his cock into my pussy. I groaned into his mouth.

Carlisle eventually moved away so that I could breathe. He hooked his arm under my right knee and pulled my leg up to his chest.

"Are you sure that it is a good idea to...ugh...do this?" I inquired hesitantly as he started off at a steady pace.

Panting with pleasure, he replied, "Yes. We need this time together."

"I don't doubt that. But what about Victoria?"

"We won't worry about her unless we have to. In the meantime, I just want you to enjoy yourself. This...this may be the l-" He stopped moving and did not finish his sentence.

I took his face in my hand. "This may be the last time that we can share moments like this together. Probably the last time that we can spend any kind of time together," I concluded for him, knowing what he meant to say.

He bobbed his head in confirmation.

"You don't have to tell me this, Carlisle. Deep down inside, I know it already. But I...I just hope that it isn't. I want us all to make it through this whole thing alive. Neither of us could bear it if we lost anyone in our family. And I know that I could never live it down if..." Tears welled up in my eyes, and one slipped down my cheek. "...I lost you. And I don't even want to think about what would happen if you lost me." My shoulders began to shake.

Carlisle wrapped his arms around me. "Shhhhhh, shhhhhh. Don't cry, sweetheart. Everything will probably turn out better than we think it will at times. I can't promise that the outcome of this fiasco will, however. But one thing I can promise is this." He gazed at me solemnly and brushed away my tears. "No matter what happens, you and I will be all right, here on Earth or in the afterlife. And we will always be together."

I nodded. "Yes. Those are two things that I know are true, and will always be."

He chuckled gently. "Of course. But we shall think about this later. Let us not spoil our time together. I would like if we can make the best out of it. We owe it to ourselves to."

Smiling, I murmured, "All right."

He grinned back. "All right. Now hold onto me."

When I did what Carlisle told me to do, he hitched my leg over his chest again. He thrusted his dick in and out of me at the same pace as before.

"Fuck," I moaned.

"Yes," he breathed in a fervent voice. He buried his face in my neck.

As the moments passed, Carlisle's movements grew faster and rougher. The bed started to squeak under us, and the headboard slammed into the wall. I wrapped my other leg around him and dug my heel into his ass.

He knew what I craved. He tilted me up so that he could go deeper into my pussy.

"So fucking good," I whimpered as he pounded into me.

It wasn't long before we were both close to the edge. Carlisle's thrusts became even more needful. His mouth was open as he grunted loudly over and over. Pretty soon, his grunts became more feral and animalistic. I could not see his eyes; his head was thrown back. I, too, was unable to keep quiet; his cock was repeatedly hitting my g-spot.

"Cum with me," he ordered in a strained voice.

And just like that, I came harder than I ever had in my life. He followed after me with an almost earsplitting roar that mixed in beautifully with my scream.

He rode us out before collapsing onto his side. He gave me a few minutes to catch my breath, then pulled me into him.

"I'm not finished with you yet. Ride me? Please?" he queried.

"Sure. Anything for you," I remarked.

I climbed on top of him and slid his cock into me. He clutched my ass as I started to move.

"Ohhhhh yes, that feels so good, baby," he hissed, his head falling back onto the pillow.

For a while, I continued to bounce on him. Then I turned around and fucked him in the reverse-cowgirl position. He moaned before rubbing my clit in small circles. I cried out in pleasure.

Pretty soon, my walls clamped around him once more. We both yelled as we flew over the edge a second time.

Carlisle picked me up bridle-style and got off of the bed. "Do a handstand. I'll hold onto your legs."

I did as he told me. He lined his dick up at my entrance, then shoved it into my pussy. He thrust downwards, massaging my swollen nub as he did.

And so it went on. We had sex all night long. When he was done fucking me upside-down, he did me while I sat on my desk. We also had sex standing up. After that, he made me get on all-fours before taking me in the ass.

It was not until five o'clock when I had finally gone back to bed. Carlisle laid beside me as I gradually fell asleep.

Like our first time, it had been a night to remember.

Carlisle's POV

Saturday passed by without the "hunting accidents" or any other mishaps. Thank God for small favors.

Isabella decided to spend the day and all of the next at my house. As always, Charlie did not mind it if she did. Not anymore.

I was quite certain that he knew that she was not always here to spend time with Alice. However, he did not say anything about it if he did. Isabella was eighteen. She was old enough to stay the night with me if she wanted to. Besides, Charlie trusted me more than almost anybody. He knew that I wouldn't hurt her, or put her in any danger.

Neither Isabella nor I did much of anything. She was completely exhausted by the previous night's activities, so I made her rest for a greater part of the day. She went to bed early that night to catch up on some sleep.

As she laid down in our bed, I slid my arm around her hip. "Isabella?" I whispered.

"Hmm?" she grunted.

"Why don't we go for an outing tomorrow? We haven't had one since we found out that Victoria was killing people. I figured that I could take you out for lunch in Seattle. I can have Alice, Jasper, and Rosalie patrolling the outskirts of the city "

For a moment, she did not answer. I thought that perhaps she had fallen asleep until she spoke.

"That doesn't sound too bad, I guess. I wouldn't mind going out as long as I know that we will be safe," she croaked hoarsely. She had lost her voice during our little get-together yesterday. "What time were you thinking of leaving?"

I narrowed my eyes as I mulled this over. "Would 10:30, 11:00 in the morning be all right?"

She nodded. "Mm-hmm. It's perfect."

Leaning forward, I kissed her on the lips. "Good. I will let you sleep now. You need your rest, after all."

Isabella grinned. "Thank you, Carlisle. I love you."

Even though she told me this every day, it always warmed my heart to hear those words come out of her mouth. "I love you too, Isabella. Sleep now."

With another smile, she snuggled into me and obeyed my request.

(Next day)

Victoria did not attack anyone the next morning either Alice told me that she had not planned to. As far as she could see, Victoria was not anywhere near Seattle.

Considering this a good sign, I believed that it was safe for Isabella and I to go on our date.

At 9:15, we both took a shower before looking for casual outfits to wear. After we did, we both got dressed. Isabella put on some lip gloss and eye shadow. She also sprayed herself with a little bit of perfume. I put on a bit of musk cologne.

Isabella and I were ready by 10:30. Alice, Jasper, and Rosalie agreed to look out for us as we headed to Seattle. The others-Emmett, Edward, and Esme-were already guarding Isabella's house. They were merely doing this as a precaution. If Victoria made a split decision to return to Forks, at least Charlie would be well protected.

Once I was certain that everything was situated, we left for the city. I could hear Alice, Jasper, and Rosalie following us as I sped up the highway.

We arrived in Seattle two hours later. I drove to a restaurant in the middle of the downtown section. I got out of the car and went to open the door for Isabella.

"Thank you," she stated.

"You are most welcome, my dear," I returned graciously. She rolled her eyes at my "corniness," which made me laugh.

Not many people were in the diner, so it was not long before we were seated by a hostess. She gave us our menus and left us to ourselves.

Presently, a waiter came up to our table.

"Good afternoon, sir, miss. May I start you off with a glass of water or anything else to drink?" he questioned.

I smiled politely. "A glass of Chianti wine would be nice," I responded.

"May I have Coca-Cola, please?" Isabella asked.

The waiter nodded. "Certainly. Sir, I need to see your ID, please. It is our policy to check someone's identification if they are purchasing any alcoholic beverages."

After he checked it, he gave it back to me with a nod. "All right. That seems to be in order. I will return with your drinks, and if you are ready to, you may order your food then. Unless you are ready to now?"

Since I did not want to eat anything, I just told him that I wasn't hungry. Isabella ordered a cheeseburger with a side of french fries.

I teased her about it when the waiter was gone. "Cheeseburger and fries? I'm disappointed. You are going to be a doctor's wife one day," I joked.

She rolled her eyes at me. "But not soon after I become your wife, I will be a vampire," she whispered so that nobody would be able to hear her. "It won't matter what I eat then, except human blood."

We shared a hearty laugh.

It was not long before the waiter came back to serve Isabella her food. We talked a little while she ate, but not of important things.

Just as she was chewing her last bite, my cell phone rang. I peered at the screen. Alice was calling me.

"Could you give me a moment please, Isabella?" I queried.

"Sure," she replied.

I answered the call. "Yes, Alice? What is it?"

"Carlisle, you need to get out of Seattle right now!" she cried.

The waiter passed by as she said this. I quickly asked him for the bill. He went to get it right away.

"Why? What's wrong? What's the matter?" I asked Alice.

"Victoria is coming for Bella! She is on her way to Seattle now...she knows that Bella is there! You can't let her attack either of you in the city! If you do, somebody will see what is happening, and you know how much trouble we will end up in if they do! You won't have to get back to Forks by your car, so just leave it there. It will be better if you head for the woods."

"All right. We are going to leave now."

As soon as the waiter produced the bill, I paid it after leaving a tip.

"Let's go, Isabella. We need to get out of here," I muttered, taking her hand and practically yanking her out of the restaurant.

"For what? What's going on? What did Alice call you for?" she demanded in confusion and worry.

I headed for a deserted alleyway. "Victoria is coming for you. We have to get to the others immediately."

She gasped. "V-Victoria? Oh, my God. Carlisle, what will we do?!" she questioned in a panicked voice.

"Well first, we are leaving Seattle. I cannot allow Victoria to confront us here. If someone sees us, the secret that we are vampires could be exposed. After we are in the forest, Alice, Jasper, and Rosalie can help me in fighting her off. The others can protect you while we do. Get on my back."

"Aren't you going to take the Mercedes?"

"No. I have to lead her away from the city. If I can, I will come back to get it later. Of course, it will probably be sent to the impound lot soon. But I don't care about that right now. All I'm worried about is your safety."

Isabella jumped onto my back without any more questions and wrapped her legs around me. I climbed up the wall in vampire speed. I made my way out of Seattle by leaping across the rooftops.

Seconds later, I had reached the woods. I bolted through the trees, making my way to where Alice, Jasper, and Rosalie were. I could smell Victoria's scent and hear her footsteps approaching behind us. My children were also running towards us, but they were not as close as she was.

Then, out of the right corner of my eye, I saw distant flashes of Victoria's fiery-red hair about yards away.

Victoria glanced at me the same time I had looked at her. When she noticed that I was carrying Isabella, she paused. I heard her growl loudly, and then she started to head for us.

I stopped and pulled Isabella off of my back. I didn't have time to wait for anybody to help me. Victoria had to be dealt with right now! This entire situation had gone on long enough.

"Sweetheart, run! It doesn't matter where you go, just run! Alice and the others will have no trouble finding you. I'll hold her off!" I declared, taking her face in my hands.

Her jaw dropped. "But Carlisle, I can't just leave you. And you can't fight her all alone. You might get hurt and I don't want that to happen...!" she remarked.

"I understand that, but please do what I ask. I would rather that get hurt trying to protect you than allow you to be harmed. But if something happens to me, I just want you to know one thing."

Leaning forward, I whispered in her ear, "I love you, Isabella, with everything that is in me, and I always will." I kissed her for as long as I could, then let her go. "Now, run! Run!" I said, turning and crouching before her.

Victoria appeared just as Isabella dashed away. I moved to the side so that I was blocking her path.

She knelt down in front of me with her teeth bared. "Get out of my way, Cullen. She is the one I want, not you. So unless you want me to hurt you, move," she snarled.

A growl rolled between my teeth. "No. I will not allow you to harm my soul mate. If you want her, you will have to go through me first," I hissed.

One of her eyebrows rose. "Your soul mate? I thought that she was Edward's mate."

"Well apparently, you thought wrong."

She narrowed her eyes at me. "Hmm. Well, it doesn't matter whether she is or not anyway. She is still the cause of Edward killing my James. Everything is her fault. Once I am finished with her, I will go after Edward and his mate next. By the way, who is his soul mate? I want to know."

"Who his soul mate is is none of your business. You will not go anywhere near him or his mate. I will not let you. I will not allow you to harm them or make them suffer. And I will never allow you to go anywhere near my Isabella."

Chuckling evilly, she crooned, "Well, since you are not going to move, I guess that I will have to kill you too before I deal with your Isabella."

I smirked. "You may try, but I don't know if you will be able to."

"Well, we are going to see if I will right now."

And then Victoria lunged forward. A THUD resounded through the woods when she collided with me.

Bella's POV

I didn't want to listen to Carlisle. I longed to stay with him to make sure that Victoria didn't do anything to him. But I knew that if she somehow managed to hurt me, Carlisle would blame himself for it.

So, with great reluctance, I rushed into the trees. I did not get very far when I heard what sounded like boulders thumping into each other thirty feet away.

With fear coursing through me, I pivoted to find out what the cause of the noise was.

Carlisle and Victoria were holding each other by the arms, trying to push the other away.

A second later, Carlisle swung Victoria face-forward onto the ground. She tried to get up, her wild, hate-filled black eyes centered on me. However, he pushed her back down with his knee. Then he straddled her legs and began to put her in a half nelson.

He was just pinned her right arm onto her back when she managed to elbow him in the face with her left. I let out a cry of outrage and dismay. How dare she hurt him?!

Victoria snatched him up and yanked him off of her. However, when she attempted to runs towards me, Carlisle grabbed her leg. This caused her to tumble over.

Carlisle moved up to take hold of her arms again. Victoria rolled over until his back was on the ground. She turned so that she was above him and spun him around. After that, she straddled him before wrapping an arm around his neck. She used her other hand to pull his head back.

"I suppose that I will have to murder you, then. I would never get to your Isabella if I don't," she growled in his ear.

She was going to kill him! She was going to kill my Carlisle, my soul mate, right in front of me! I had to do something! I couldn't let Victoria take him away from me!

Looking around frantically, I noticed a jagged stone in the mud. I picked it up and bolted over to where they were. When I was ten feet away from them, I stopped. I took the rock and slashed a cut across the palm of my hand. A thin trickle of blood oozed down towards my wrist.

Victoria's head shot up; she had smell the scent of my blood immediately. She let Carlisle go, and I raised my hand towards her, showing her the scar. Another growl rumbled in her chest.

She was distracted long enough for Carlisle to act. He dove on top of her and held her down. He pulled up an arm, and with a great effort, yanked it right out of its socket. Victoria let out an ear-splitting roar of pain.

"That is for brutally slaughtering our kitten." He yanked off her other arm. She yelled loudly again. "That is for trying to go after my son and his mate." Then he turned and tore off her legs. "And that is for even thinking of killing mine and taking her away from me."

And before Victoria could say anything or make another sound, Carlisle ripped off her head. He collected her dismembered body parts and set them on fire with his lighter.

He walked over to me as purplish-black smoke rose into the sky. "May I see your hand, Isabella?" he queried.

I held it out to him. He raised it to his lips and slid his tongue on the cut.

Frowning in bewilderment, I asked, "What are you doing?"

"Using my venom to heal the cut. You would never think that it was there. See for yourself."

When I took my hand out of his, I stared at it in amazement. He was right. My palm looked as good as new!

I grinned at him. "Thank you. And thanks for getting rid of that bitch too."

"You're welcome," he smiled. "And I must thank you for distracting Victoria, although I would never had wanted you to do that, no matter what the circumstances were. If I hadn't jumped on her when I did, she could have killed you. I would had never forgiven myself if she had."

"I understand, Carlisle. But still, I wasn't going to let her kill you either. I couldn't; I would never had forgiven myself if I hadn't tried to help you," I remarked.

"And I'm glad that you did. It looks like we saved each other's lives," he whispered, caressing my face.

"Mm-hmm," I agreed while leaning into his touch.

We embraced each other tightly and kissed for what seemed like a long time. When Carlisle backed away, I saw our family standing near us.

He quirked an eyebrow at them. "What took you so long?" he demanded in a mock-furious voice. "I really could have used some help, you know. Victoria would have been disposed of much faster."

They snickered somewhat ashamedly.

"Yeah, we know. Sorry about that. But by the time we arrived here, you had already taken off her arms and legs. She was already dead, and good riddance. Besides, you had moved fast enough yourself," Jasper pointed out.

"That's true. He and Victoria moved so quickly that they were almost a blur," I stated.

"Well, next time, help me anyway."

"Sure."

Carlisle joined us in our laughter this time. When we had collected ourselves, he slid an arm around my waist.

"Isabella and I must go back to Seattle. I need to see whether my car has been towed or not. I don't want to find out that my car was impounded on top of everything else I went through today. We shall meet you all back at the house."

They nodded, and Carlisle and I left them with a wave.

Carlisle's POV

Everything had gone back to normal for Isabella, my family, and I within a day or so. We were able to settle down and enjoy life now that Victoria wasn't trying to attack us anymore.

Isabella looked as if a giant weight had been lifted off of her shoulders. She was happier. She smiled as she used to before the whole Victoria affair had started. Everybody else did as well, including me.

Now when I came home from work, it was to a lively house. Everyone was having animated talks with each other and/or laughing. They would be watching TV or playing games. Edward may be playing the piano. If Isabella was there, she would either be with them or waiting for me in our bedroom.

Friday night was one of those evenings. Before I even stepped out of my Mercedes-which thankfully had not been towed-I could hear laughter. Somebody was chasing after another. The TV was running. Alice and Esme were speaking to each other about something. I could smell Isabella's strawberry and freesia aroma; she was obviously spending the night again. Charlie must have had a night shift again.

I checked to see where everybody was and found them in the living room. They looked up as I came in.

"Hi Carlisle," they greeted with enthusiasm.

"Hello everyone. How are you?" I returned as Alice and Rosalie came over to hug me. Emmett jabbed my shoulder.

Esme shrugged. "We are fine. No complaints at all. How are you? Was it a busy day at the hospital?"

"Somewhat, but not very. Not since I killed Victoria anyway."

"That's wonderful."

I glanced around the room to see if Isabella was there, but she was not. She was likely in our room.

After embracing Edward and Jasper, I announced, "Well, I am going upstairs now. See you later."

Isabella laying down on the bed when I entered the room. She was reading a novel, but threw it aside when she saw me.

"Oh no. I thought that I flushed my toilet," she groaned in mock irritation with a smirk.

Forcing back a chuckle, I pretended to be upset by her remark. "I would have thought that you would be happy to see me. Damn." I shook my head. "I saved your your life, and you treat me like I am no better than shit. You are ungrateful. You should be jumping into my arms and giving me a big, fat kiss right now. People have no respect for anyone nowadays. No one appreciates anything that someone does for them anymore. The whole world is becoming ungrateful."

She chortled heartily. "Oh, shut up, Carlisle. You know that I was only joking. Go out of the room and come back. I'll give you a proper hello this time."

"You had better," I said as I closed the door. Then I opened it again.

Isabella ran over to me. "Hey baby!" she exclaimed, leaping into my arms. She kissed me passionately on the lips. I gripped her waist gently as I kissed her back.

A moment later, she backed away. "Is that better?"

"Much better," I replied. I sat her down on the bed. "Could you give me a few minutes? I'm going to wash up and change my clothes. After that, we can do whatever you want to do."

She harrumphed. "You were already washed up before you came here," she muttered half to herself.

"Fuck you," I retorted good-naturedly as I headed for the bathroom.

(A/N: PLEASE, PLEASE REVIEW! Oh, and I posted a new picture for the story. It is just a temporary one. It is Carlisle and Bella as Nintendo Wii characters, which I created myself. Let me know how you like it, and sorry for the long update!)