Real life Rose here. Apologies for the eternally long wait; I couldn't find the right way to wrap it up. However, I happily present the last chapter of Mind Hunter.

Chapter 19 – The Sounds of Silence

For the next several hours Bella and the other women engaged in a marathon shopping session. Alice had wired the theater projector to act as a computer screen as they browsed several dozen clothing sites. Alice had also taken Bella's measurements and after Bella tried on tons of "sample outfits," Alice video conferenced several designer colleagues to commission more of the "high-end" pieces Alice was intent on getting for Bella. While Tanya and Irina did return from hunting, they did not join the others. Tanya stayed away mostly out of fear while Irina didn't want Tanya to feel left out and stayed with her sister.

I shamefully focused on Alice's thoughts during the lingerie portion of the shopping.

Carlisle, Jasper, Emmett, Eleazar and I made plans for our next move. We need to stay up here for months at best, until Bella is no longer a threat to humans.

Another problem is space. This house has four bedrooms with 13 vampires. Even without the need for sleep it's getting crowded fast and cabin fever with a newborn won't do us any favors. According to the Denali's they have a few furnished cabins with wells, satellite internet, generators and supply tanks spread throughout the reserve. After going back and forth for a while, we finally settle on Eleazar and Carmen in a one-bedroom cabin up north, the sisters in a two-bedroom cabin en-route to the northern house and the remainder of us staying in this house. Carlisle wasn't happy about taking over Eleazar's home until Eleazar told him Carmen would appreciate a break from the crowd.

Everyone agreed Tanya should keep her distance from Bella.

The sun rose around ten 'o'clock as the women filed downstairs. Bella's eyes had darkened and she was swallowing often.

"Alice, if you'll release Bella I think she needs to hunt."

"She's all ready to go, right Bella?" Alice says as triumphant as ever. Bella is wearing 4-inch stiletto heels with jeans, a short jacket and fitted shirt.

"Uh, Alice?" Bella replies. "I'm not holding a sign in a boxing ring; I'm chasing something with claws and teeth. You can keep the heels."

"Its fine Bella, you won't even notice." Alice retorts.

Bella tosses the offending shows at Alice, "I am indestructible, these are not. I'll go barefoot."

"Hmph" Alice says while her pout face comes front and center.

"Let's go Bella." I say into her ear.

We both head out the door and east towards a herd of caribou. After the caribou came dessert.

Arriving back at the house, the Denali's are packing for their relocation. Rather than stay at the two bedroom cabin, Tanya, Kate and Irina elected to spend a few weeks in British Columbia on errands instead. By errands, they meant another round of male conquests.

Before long, the Denali's are packed and ready to depart, leaving my eight-strong family to raise Bella. Everyone waves goodbye from the porch and the brake lights of the two cars fade away, followed closely by their thoughts a few minutes later.

The fading light and emerging stars keep everyone outside while the northern lights energize the sky. Bella smile is so innocent and pure; she always takes joy in the simple things.

"Hey Edward," Emmett says. "Are you and Bella up for some wholesome recreation?"

Rosalie snorts with the memory of my torn shirt. Jasper focuses on Bella, hoping she won't notice.

Bella whispers, "Should I make her pay for it?"

"I've got it covered." I reply.

"Hey Rose, I've got a volatile newborn on my side, what do you have in mind?"

She bites her lip for a moment before Emmett answers, "Nothing you can't handle, Bella on the other hand…"

"Game on!" Bella replies.

Bella, Esme, Carlisle and I were on one team while Jasper, Alice, Emmett and Rosalie were on the other. A coin toss put our team in the outfield while the others took their turn at bat. Esme played catcher while Carlisle was pitcher. Bella wanted to see how fast she could run so we took the outfield. Alice was first to bat, she thought to herself how much she liked getting off eternal pitcher duty now that the teams were even. They scored two runs before Emmett gave them their third out. He took it like a man.

Esme and Carlisle took their turns at bat getting one point and one out. While Rosalie pitched, Jasper played catcher, Emmett and Alice manned the outfield. It was my turn to bat and Rosalie was intending to see if she could hit me with the ball. Jasper thinks to himself, "I wonder if Bella is trying to distract me with sheer lust or is she just that intense?"

I wonder if Jasper is trying to distract me.

"Wish I knew Jasper" I reply. He snorts.

"Hey Jasper" Bella coos.

"No cheating!" Alice yells from the outfield. Bella closes her mouth.

Is that a pout I see on Bella?

Taking my swing, the bat connects on the second pitch but Alice catches it beyond the tree line and Jasper is covering home plate with the ball before I round third base. Bella is up to bat next. I hope Alice taught her how hard to swing because we don't have many baseball bats in the artic.

Bella connects with the third pitch and begins her run to first. Alice and Emmett race for the ball, scooping it up before she hits second. Emmett makes the throw to Jasper, who is waiting for Bella by the time she hits third. He knows she's the third out and the look on Bella's face tells me she knows it too. Half-way between third and home, she screeches to a halt. Jasper is about thirty feet away from her, covering home. Bella is shifting her weight between her legs like a runner does when cooling off. Her eyes are fixated on Jasper.

"What's up your sleeve Bella?" Jasper smiles. "Are you always this mischievous in games?" He bolts forward to tag her, ball in hand. Ten feet away from her she bends to the left, trying to make her way around him but he's ready for her.

Her shift progresses into a twist, facing her away from him. Jasper closes the distance, but before he can touch her, she launches into a back flip over him, extending her arms outward midair. Jasper barely has a chance to register her trick before she lands behind him in a Kenpo stance and kicks his ass to third base. While he's airborne, she bolts for home and scores.

Five jaws are gaping, Alice and Jasper excluded.

Bella walks toward me, beaming. "That was great!"

"Um, wow, Bella" I stammer. "Is there anything you can't do?"

Jasper jogs over to us, "That was against the rules Bella, though nicely done."

"Why?" Bella replies. "The ball never touched me and I've seen baseball players get around the catcher lots of ways, what made that illegal?"

"She has a point Jasper." Carlisle says. Esme beams.

"Hmph." Is all Jasper says before throwing the ball back to Rosalie and trotting back to home plate.

Bella whispers, "I think the question to ask is, what won't I do?"

Cullen baseball just got brought to a whole new level.


After we won the baseball game Bella asked to play the poker game she never got to play her first night with the family. Emmett, Rosalie and Jasper were more than eager to play, figuring they could reclaim their honor after losing earlier. Everyone took a break to change out of our snow and mud caked clothing.

Bella and I took a bit longer.

Bella tries to smooth her hair over as we come down the stairs. Everyone knows what we've been up to but having lived so close to each other for so long, it doesn't faze us anymore. Bella's the only one that appears to be self-conscious.

Alice is seated in the on one side of the table in the dealers' seat while Jasper, Rosalie and Emmett are seated in a row to Alice's right. Carlisle and Esme are seated next to them in the circle, leaving the only open spots to the left of Alice.

We take our seats as Alice begins the deal.

"What are we playing for?" Emmett asks.

"I think the terms Edward welched out on will do fine." Rosalie replies.

"I say double or nothing" Jasper adds.

"All four of us are going to dress like pimps?" I ask.

"No way." Emmett responds. "If any of us win, Bella has to dress like the hooker.

"I have fishnet pantyhose." Alice adds.

Bella's lips purse together for a moment before saying, "Deal. But if any of us win, Emmett and Jasper have to dress like prostitutes while Rosalie and Alice play the pimp.

"I'll order the hooker boots in their shoe sizes." Esme coos.

Bella grins and offers Esme a high-five which she takes.

I didn't know my mom had it in her.

When the sun rises next morning Emmett has been busted out of the game by Carlisle, Esme has broken Carlisle, Rosalie has adopted a hat and sunglasses while I take a shift as dealer. I lost my stack to Bella an hour ago on a lucky straight she caught on the river. Esme has Jasper all in on a huge pot, but she used most of her chips to do it.

When the river card comes up, Jasper triumphantly scoops the stacks of chips toward him saying, "Pleasure doing business with you." Esme silently curses herself for trying to bluff her way out of an all-in and looks at her stack of chips, which is on life-support. Bella huffs and runs her fingers through her hair.

I deal the next hand, pausing long enough for everyone to look at their cards. Bella and Rosalie fold before the flop, leaving Jasper and Esme in another head to head showdown. She has a pair of nines, while Jasper has the queen of hearts and the jack of clubs. The flop is the six of diamonds, nine of hearts, and jack of hearts. Esme has three-of-a-kind while Jasper has top pair. Esme's got the upper hand, but will likely fold if Jasper presses her, which he's planning to do. Bella sucks in a breath but says nothing, she knows something.

Esme pauses a moment before committing a quarter of her chips. Jasper thinks she's trying to bait him and he's correct. He calls her and the turn card is the ten of hearts. Jasper now has a straight draw while Esme still holds the upper hand. Esme puts another small bet in and Jasper makes his move.

"I'll put you all in."

Esme counts her stack to let him know what he needs to put in the pot and Bella wrings her hands. Alice reaches for a pad of paper and writes a note to Jasper quickly, mentally telling me it's not about the game. Bella is now drumming her fingers on her stack, probably hoping Esme pulls through. If Esme loses it will be her against Jasper and Rosalie.

Suddenly Esme's thoughts vanish.

Nobody has moved, but my mother's thoughts are as invisible as Bella's.

Eleazar was right; she's more powerful than we thought.

Bella seems to be staring into space. Jasper's head snaps toward Bella; he's gleaning as much information on her emotional state as he can. From his perspective she's nervous for Esme and has a protective vibe about her.

Alice mentally tells me to deal the last card. It's the five of spades, giving Esme the win. Bella exhales and grabs her chest.

"What just happened to me?" She says while panting.

"I think we found your trigger." Jasper replies.


The poker game stood where we left it. Once Bella realized she could move her blocking ability at will she jumped at the chance to train. Her tenacity and intensity was insatiable in her mortal life, the amplification it received in her conversion matches the increase of her abilities.

Bella is no longer one who 'gets handled'.

"Jasper, I know you don't think this is a good idea, but I promise not to attack you or anyone else if you can help me repeat what I did to Esme." Bella says.

"It's fine Bella, you're not asking me to antagonize you." He replies. "Here's how it's going to work. I got a good read on you earlier, I can recreate that feeling and we'll see if you can do your part."

Carlisle adds, "Focus on Esme like you did before."

Jasper trains his gaze on Bella like he did at the poker table. Bella fidgets in the overstuffed chair while I stand behind Carlisle looking to Esme. Emmett and Rosalie watch in the far corner while Alice stands behind Jasper.

Five minutes pass before Bella freezes. The same trance-like gaze erases her fidgeting and before I can swing my head toward Esme, her thoughts disappear like before.

"That's good Bella, now hold it there." Alice whispers. She snatches the pen and paper from the table while Bella nods and writes a note to Jasper, telling him to gradually reduce his influence. He does so and to my surprise, Esme's thoughts are still missing. Like slowly turning off a faucet, Jasper pulls back until suddenly Bella buckles and Esme's thoughts reappear.

"More." Bella breathes.


It took three more days for Bella to gain control over her shield. If vampires could sweat, Bella would have gone to the hospital for rehydration.

So would Jasper.

From his experience in the newborn wars of the south, Jasper has trained many vampires in combat. While Bella demonstrated obvious physical skills, nobody was prepared for the intensity with which she attacked her mental training. I remember how difficult it was to learn how to live with voices in my head; Bella's tenacity has an almost feral severity to it. None of us have ever seen a newborn that had to be reminded to feed.

Bella wanted to continue training so badly that she asked me to bring her back a bear.

Alice volunteered to help.

While we scout along a ridge of caves, Alice's thoughts draw back to the night Bella was changed. I see her trying to come clean about her plan. She's grabbed by her throat and smashed into a wall, watching her new sister writhe on a couch while smeared in blood.

And my snarling face judging her.

"Alice, I'm sorry for how I've treated you. I had no right to attack you before I had all the facts."

A quiet smile appears, "Thank you Edward. I'm sorry it had to happen the way it did, but you have to believe I had no choice."

"I know Alice. I also know that your choices are never self-centered when it counts. Thank you for protecting me from the Volturi, I would never have left Bella to them and you've given both her and me the best chance possible."

A faint heartbeat appears over the crunch of snow. Alice says, "One more thing. Bella is content here, but not for long. She was never one to stagnate as a human and you're going to have to make plans to manage her ambition sooner rather than later."

I hadn't thought of that, time stopped the day I took Bella and hadn't yet restarted.

"Deal." I reply. "Now as a token of good faith, I'll take the front two legs."


It's not that the bear was heavy, but turning a squirming grizzly into a backpack was rather slow going. It took so long to return to the clearing that the bear was nearly unconscious from fatigue. In its defense though, we did wake it up from hibernation.

Bella vaults out the front door when I call to her, jumping off the porch into the clearing. "I did it!" She exclaims as I drop the bear. You won't believe how I can…

"Bella, eat first, show second." Esme calls.

Bella's shoulders drop for a second before she cocks her head, "Yes Esme."

Jasper is still trying to figure out how she's not darting for the bear.

She finishes off the bear while everyone gathers outside. The noonday sun, such as it is, reflects off the snow, giving everything an angelic hue. As Bella stands up, she wipes the blood off the side of her mouth and licks her lips.

"Ahhhhh, Good stuff."

"Now you have to see what I can do!"

"Go for it love." I reply.

Bella inhales, "Ok, so here's what happened. This shield I have, it's like a one way mirror."

"Ok, this I already know."

"Well, yeah. But what you don't know is that it doesn't feel like a shield to me, it feels like a blanket. Once I figured out how to move it, it felt like taking a sheet wrapped around by body and flipping it out over a bed."

"You mean like a parachute?"

"Yeah, exactly."

"Congratulations my love; you're doing very well." Her eyes sparkle with unblemished animation.

"But, that's not all. There's something else and I need you to try it."

She's so excited; I almost forget what she can make me do by accident.

"Is it safe?"


"Well… ok."

"Great!" She says. She closes her eyes and inhales while extending her arms outward. As she opens them, the thoughts of Jasper, Alice and Rosalie vanish.

"The arm movements help me pinpoint what I want to do; this is the easy part." She says while opening her eyes. "You ready?"

"If I don't come back, I love you."

She chuckles and sways her arms toward me, then rotates her arms around each other.

I can't hear anyone.

Not one person.

Alice starts clapping her hands slowly, "Bella, this is better than I thought it could be."

For the first time in over 100 years, there is peace in my mind. Peace forgotten so long ago I didn't think it existed. "How are you doing this? Bella?"

Her smile doesn't abate, "It worked? I got to thinking, if this shield was really a blanket I could stretch, I wondered if I could flip it over. I'm not covering everyone else; I flipped the blanket right-side down and covered you. Your ability can't reach them anymore than it could reach me."

The sound of silence is deafening. "Wow… just… how long can you do this?"

"We'll find out together now, won't we?" She replies.

Bella, my love.

"What do we do now?"

"Whatever we want."


Hope you had as much fun with these characters in your head as I have. There is an idea rolling around in my head for a sequel, but it's a long way off… Many thanks for taking this journey with me.