Author's Notes:

Disclaimer: All the Twilight stuff belongs to Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended. I'm just borrowing her cup of sugar.

Slightly less wait for this update... I really do hope to get one out a week at a minimum.

"Aliens got your tongue?"

Chapter 37

A tall, blond man with a ponytail down his back looked in my direction, hesitated slightly, and then nodded his head toward me. Two others looked my way, but the other three did not. Their eyes stayed down on the pavement by their feet.

As the group turned to approach, there was no question in my mind that something was very, very off. Even before they were close enough for me to see that the first three – the man with the ponytail, a dark-skinned man with long braids, and a crazy-looking redheaded woman – were each holding bindings attached to the wrists of the three behind them – a thin, tiny woman, a wiry young man with blond hair, and an elegant looking woman with hair the color of caramel, who was a few years older than the rest of the group.

My mind raced.

Bella had informed me that there were others – forty or so couples around the world. All the humans suffered from the same blood disorder that afflicted me, which is how we had all survived. Each of them was to be paired with another from Bella's species – one of the opposite sex to assist in repopulating Earth. So far, the scenario fit – there were three couples approaching me – but why were three of them in bondage?

The tall blond in front smiled, but there was no friendly light within his eyes. The redheaded woman danced to his side, and she made no effort to hide the fact that she yanked the lanky man behind her sharply. He had to step quickly to avoid falling, but didn't make a sound. When I looked a little closer, I could see dark blue and purple marks around his jaw and neck.

I moved my gaze to each of them in turn, trying to figure out what exactly might be going on, when it struck me. There were really only two possibilities – either the humans had somehow captured the aliens, or the aliens had chosen to enslave the humans.

Which one was it?

Ponytail man took a few steps closer, and he seemed to be peering at me intently as he approached. My fingers reflexively gripped the piece of wood I held in my hand. Whatever had happened to shape the dynamics of this group, this man was clearly their leader. They obviously weren't friendly, or they wouldn't be holding anyone captive.

Bella's inside the house.

My eyes flickered to the opening in the privacy fence around the backyard, and then back to Ponytail, whose smile widened.

"Hello there, green-eyes," he said.

I furrowed my brow, trying to understand why he would address me in that way.

"It's good to see another human," the dark-skinned man continued in an accent I couldn't quite identify. "We haven't seen any real people for some time."

I blinked and looked about the group again. The dark man's eyes were dark brown, the man with the ponytail had blue eyes, and the red-headed woman's eyes were a dull hazel. The eyes of their captives were all golden-honey brown.

Exactly like Bella's.

Oh shit.

"What's the matter, baby?" the redhead addressed me. "Aliens got your tongue?"

"Wha-what?" I stammered. Then I realized I hadn't said as much as boo to any of them, which couldn't possibly look right or normal.

Bella's inside, and there's a bunch of alien hunters out here.

I didn't know the whole story. I wasn't even sure if I wanted to know the whole story. What I did know was that there were three people out in front of my house with a group of aliens on leashes. I had a pregnant alien inside the house who absolutely, positively had to be protected at all costs.

I had to play this cool, though I wasn't really sure what that meant.

"I think he's a little in shock," the dark skin man said.

Ponytail looked me up and down.

"You seen anyone else since the event?" he asked.

"The event?"

"Yeah – all the people going bye-bye." He leaned back a bit and raised his eyebrows.

"Oh…um…" Shit. So much for playing things cool. "No…sorry, I haven't."

I really had to get myself together. I shook my head a couple of times, took a deep breath, and then looked Ponytail in the eyes.

"My apologies," I said. "It's just…well, I haven't seen a single person in so long. I'm afraid you've taken me by surprise and I've forgotten my manners."

I let out a bit of a chuckle.

"Actually, I'm finding it difficult to come up with words to say at all. It's been so long since I've had anyone to talk to."

"I'm James," the man with the ponytail said. He nodded toward the woman and the man with the accent. "This is Victoria and Laurent."

"I'm Edward," I said with a nod. I tilted my head a bit to the side and nodded towards the rest of the group. "So…um…and these are…?"

"Invaders," James said succinctly. "Ask them what happened to everyone else, and they won't tell you. They know, though. They know everything, because they caused whatever it was that happened. They killed everyone off of hauled them all into space or something. This one here-"

He pointed to the woman with the rich brown hair and yanked at the nylon cord he held in his hand, causing her to stumble forward.

"This one came to me all whining and crying 'help me, help me!'" He snorted. "It was all a big act, though – wasn't it darling?"

She didn't respond. Her eyes moved off to the side and down to the ground as tears slipped from them and rolled down her cheeks. The small, dark-haired girl looked at me intently. I swallowed hard. There was no doubt in my mind what the girl was trying to convey – save me. Save us.

Inside my soul I knew I should do just that. I should do something to help them. I knew the whole story – I knew what happened to the people and minerals was all an accident. There wasn't anything malicious about Bella or her kind; they were just doing whatever they could to try to repair the damage they had inadvertently caused.

"This one did the same," Laurent added as he pulled the small woman close to him. He placed his hand on her chin and tilted her head up to face him. "Tried to seduce me so they could grow some perverted human-hybrid or something. It was all a lie."

He squeezed her face hard, shook her, and then spat in her face.

My whole body tightened, and my fingers again flexed around the piece of wood in my hands. Every part of me wanted to step forward and tear him away from her, but there was something far more selfish at work inside of me. All morality told me I needed to do something to stop the obvious abuse of the three alien creatures in front of me, but reality told me something else: I was outnumbered. I was outnumbered, and there was something far more important at stake than my scruples.

I had to protect Bella and our baby. Nothing else mattered, not even the suffering of another.

Well, this was a different kind of attitude for me.

Chapter End Notes:

Dun dun dun!

Was it who you thought it would be? How is Edward going to protect Bella from the evil alien hunters? Where's a Predator when you need one?

Otherwise Unharmed comes out December 5th! Watch for the cover reveal this week!