Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. No copyright infringement is intended.
Special thanks to Snarkymuch, Gredelina1, Arrr, Augustmoon. Verseseven and Mary-Alice-Brandon-Cullen for pre-reading this. Also to LJ Summers for her guidance.
The was pre-read by jtmd24 and beta'd by Maxipoo1024 from Sparkly Red Pen. Thank you ladies.
Chapter One — Definitely Leaving
I stood at the back of the room, trying to remain inconspicuous, or as inconspicuous as a vampire could get in a room full of humans. I was being observed both obviously and discreetly. Males were giving me assessing looks, analyzing my unnaturally appealing physique, comparing it to their own. The years passed, but there were some things that never changed. They were doing the mental equivalent of arm wrestling with me and judging themselves the victors. Some of the females were watching me. Their emotions showed the real source of their interest: lust and longing radiated from them.
I felt no pleasure in this. It was just the lure of my kind that attracted them, and I had no interest in pursuing them. It was fine for my cousins to take pleasure in humans. They had mastered their control centuries ago. I was not yet able to risk close contact with humans. My presence here was about the limit of my restraint.
I wouldn't have come at all, but the estate sale was for the property of a deceased silversmith of high reputation, and I was hoping to find a gift for Alice. The anniversary of our first meeting was approaching, and it was my custom to buy her something to mark the occasion. It was the very least I could do. She had saved me from a dark life and had brought me to the family I loved.
I had thought that we were going to be more than companions when we first met. We had traveled together for two years, before locating the Cullens, and had taken comfort in each other both emotionally and physically. My hopes were dashed when we arrived at the Cullen house. We were explaining our arrival to a bemused Carlisle, Esme, and Rosalie when Emmett and Edward arrived home from their hunt.
Edward had initially been on guard when he saw me. The scars that marred my skin showed my threat as an opponent. His wariness disappeared when he saw Alice; he was immediately enthralled. Within a month of our arrival, they were a couple, and I'd become the singleton in a family of mated pairs.
The auctioneer stepped up to his makeshift podium and introduced himself. The door opened and a young woman slipped in. I noted the unnatural grace with which she moved, even as her scent reached me.
And not just any vampire, but one with the golden eyes only achievable through a diet of animal blood.
She showed no surprise at seeing me, not even the usual caution at my visible scars. Instead, she nodded curtly in greeting and took a place at the opposite side of the room.
She seemed completely unaware of my scrutiny, flipping through the catalog of items on sale as the auctioneer started the bidding on a mahogany armoire.
I had no interest in furniture. The piece I wanted was an engraved pendant. I listened to the auctioneer as he skillfully worked the crowd, his rattling speech serving to increase the humans excitement. The emotional tenor of the room was invigorating and combined with the arrival of this unknown vampire, I was almost twitching with eagerness.
The female laughed quietly, watching me as I battled with myself, trying to at least remain calm if not dignified. She had a lovely laugh; it was gentle and soft. She was slim with a subtle curve to the hips and chest. Her mahogany hair was pinned away from her face, accentuating her elegant neck and heart shaped face. Her scent was a blend of jasmine, orchid, and fennel. It combined to make a lovely scent that I wished I could draw deep breaths of.
I shook away these musings. They were so unlike me it was a little unnerving. I was grateful Edward wasn't with me. He would be laughing, fit to burst, if he could hear my thoughts, not to mention what Emmett would say.
The auctioneer started the bidding on a silver Claddagh ring. It was beautiful, but not an appropriate gift for me to buy Alice. Edward had no issues with the bond Alice and I shared, but he may raise an eyebrow if I bought her a ring with this connotation.
The unknown vampire straightened as the bidding began. Her emotions showing just how much she wanted this ring. Whatever the reason, she was determined, and it was affecting me too. I watched as the bids grew higher and higher, until it was just her and a middle aged man. I had a feeling he was less interested in the ring and more intent on impressing her with his bulging wallet; he was failing. Though her expression remained calm, almost disinterested, she was raging against him. I wished for Edward's gift. What I wouldn't give to know what she was thinking.
The bidding climbed until it was at fourteen hundred dollars, and I waited for Mr. Bulging Wallet to make his next bid, but he didn't move. His expression was blank and his emotions vague and unfocussed. He looked a lot like Alice when she was in the grips of a vision. I looked to the vampire; she had abandoned her serene mask and was grinning broadly as the auctioneer brought down the gavel and took her number.
The middle aged man snapped back to attention, looking confused. His hand was half raised to bid when he realized it was over. I considered his behavior. There could be a perfectly reasonable explanation for it, a form of epilepsy, perhaps, but I had an inkling that it was not of natural origin. Judging by the vampire's satisfied look, it was in fact supernatural in origin.
The lot I wanted was coming up next. I hoped the humans had already emptied their pockets; I wasn't in the mood to deal with the macho posturing of these men as the vampire had. I had ample funds, but there was no need to waste it. It was a silver Celtic eternity knot pendant, simple but beautiful. Unlike Rosalie, who tended towards the ostentatious, Alice preferred simple understated jewelry. A stark difference to her choices in all other things, everything from her wardrobe to the way she walked was vibrant and lively.
Judging from the emotional tenor of the room, I was not going to have too much difficulty winning the pendant. It seemed the humans had indeed already spent enough. A spark of interest caught my attention, and I knew even without looking it had come from the vampire. I was not going to back down. I wanted this pendant, and I was going to get it.
The bidding started at one hundred dollars, and grew in increasingly larger increments until the few humans that were vying against me were done, and I was pitted against the curious vampire.
"How bad do you want it?" she asked quietly.
I did not answer her; I was not going to play her games. Whatever she had done to that man made me wary enough to avoid engaging her more than was necessary.
"Not feeling talkative?" she teased. "Hmm that's a pity…"
I glanced at her. She was smiling coyly, her amusement clear.
The bidding was still creeping up until it reached level that I balked at.
"You really want it don't you," she mused. "Well in that case…" The auctioneer looked at her to see if she would counter my bid, and she shook her head. The gavel hammered down, and I was declared the winning bidder.
It was the last lot and people surged towards the desk, ready to pay and collect. I hung back not wishing to be caught in the mosh of humans, but the vampire had no such concerns. She moved forward cutting a path to the front as the males stepped back, eager to impress, letting her through, much to the chagrin of the other females in the crowd.
It was amusing to watch the way she handled them with demure smiles and glances from beneath lowered lashes. I was reminded of the society females of my human life, their behavior contrived to make them look delicate and appealing. She was the least delicate being in the room, besides myself, and even that was in question given her little parlor trick with the other bidder. My gift, though useful, could hardly be classed as offensive. If she had been the one to affect the human, it bore watching.
We each had our self-appointed roles in the family; Edward monitored thoughts, looking for any sign that people were growing suspicious; Alice watched for events that affected us and kept our bank accounts in the black with her ability to read the stock market; and I was the strategist. My previous life meant I was more aware of the risks posed by others to our family.
This new vampire was a prime example of a risk.
I waited until the room had almost cleared and made my way over to pay for the pendant. I handed over my number card and reached for my wallet, pulling out my credit card.
"There is no need for that, sir," the cashier said. "The bill has been settled on your behalf by your sister."
"My sister?" I questioned. Neither Alice or Rosalie would have paid for me. Alice would be avoiding visions of me at the moment as I had asked for privacy so I could surprise her, and Rosalie was… well Rosalie.
"The young lady that was just here. I'm sorry I assumed she was your sister. Is she a friend?"
There was unmistakable longing in his voice. He had been dazzled by her beauty.
"Yes, a friend," I said vaguely, taking the boxed pendant and turning to leave.
"We have another sale in Juneau next week," he called after me. "You should come, bring your friend."
I didn't answer. I was not going to be attending, and even if I had been, I certainly wouldn't be inviting her along. If my suspicions proved correct, the family would be vacating the area very soon anyway. It was not worth the risk to stay in the same place as a threat.
I exited the building and made my way over to the jeep. I heard the roar of an engine and turned to see the vampire straddling a huge motorbike. She winked at me, looking at the package in my hands.
"You didn't need to pay for it. I am more than capable of meeting my debts."
My tone was sharp, and if I was being honest, I knew it was not because I didn't want to be indebted to her. I was not so old fashioned that I thought women should be limited as they were in my youth, but the idea of a woman paying my way offended my male pride.
She chuckled. "It was worth it to enjoy your discomfort when I challenged you, empath."
"It did not make…" I trailed off as her words registered with me. "How do you know I'm an empath?"
"Wouldn't you like to know," she said, pulling on her helmet.
"Who are you? Why are you here?" I demanded, walking swiftly to her side.
"You need to calm down, empath," she warned.
As I moved closer, I could see her eyes that had been shadowed by the visor before. I halted in my tracks. Her eyes, that had been a clear honey gold before, were now a startling, vibrant crimson.
"What the hell?"
With a roar of sound, she gunned the engine and drove away.
We were definitely leaving.
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