Chapter One: Bella
Of all the stupid damn ideas Edward had to come up with this was one of them? To protect me from Victoria and her army of newborns, he sends me to Voltera? Ok, well escorts me to Voltera, and asks a bunch of bloodthirsty vampire aristocrats to look after me? Well done.
After a whole day of non-stop pleading, yelling and crying, I was on a plane to Italy with Carlisle, Esme, Alice and Edward, Alice had had to persuade Jasper to stay behind.
We landed in Voltera in the middle of the day when it was swelteringly hot and the only thing that I kept me from bolting back to the plane was Edward's cool arm around my waist. "Come on. They're expecting us."
Oh joy. Being expected by vampire royalty.
We wound through the streets of Voltera, through crowds of people talking loudly in Italian, they were all human, and if there were other vampires among them- they remained oblivious to the fact. I looked up at Edward, decided to forgive him for a moment, "Are they?"
He understood and nodded. "Felix and Demetri are flanking us, Jane will be waiting for us when we reach the tunnel."
"I still don't think this is a good idea." I told him.
Edward laughed softly. "Did you ever?"
I decided to go back to being mad at him.
The tunnel, was a short tunnel (duh) that led straight down into the depths of Voltera. Jane guided us through some narrow twisting halls and corridors that I knew I would never be able to remember my way through until we reached a pair of large ornate doors that stretched from the floor to forty feet up, touching the ceiling. They looked like they would need fifty bluff men to open. Jane pushed the doors inwards without any apparent effort. Vampire strength.
The hall was filled with vampires. Well not really filled. There were only twelve or so there, and three seated on thrones at the end of the hall. My heartbeat hammered in my ears. Great. If I could hear it, it obviously meant every other damn vampire in this damn hall could hear it.
We approached the three thrones. One of them, the one sitting on the right had brown hair and while his face was handsome his utterly dead expression ruined it. The one on the left had ruler straight long snow white hair, and while his features were perfect, it was disfigured by a scowl of hatred. The one in the middle, who I remembered as Aro, stood. His face was also perfect, and had an almost maniac expression of glee.
"Carlisle!" Aro exclaimed, standing and ghosting over to us. His walk was so graceful he seemed to float an inch above the ground. "This must be your lovely wife Esme!" He said, bowing to her and kissing her hand. Esme was polite enough to not yank it from his grasp. "I received your letter! I see that young Isabella will be staying with us for a while!"
The whole room fell deathly silent. Even my heart seemed to have stopped beating. It was obvious that they hadn't been informed before of my stay. Only Marcus (still looking bored) and Caius seemed to know, but Caius was still giving me the death glare, so it was obvious he didn't approve either. Aro ignored all this. He reached out to shake Carlisle's hand, reading every thought that Carlisle ever had. Sometimes I didn't think it was fair that vampires got special 'powers' along with all their other enhanced abilities.
"Ah…" Aro let go of Carlisle's hand and gazed around at all of us, his hazy stare resting on me. "I see yet again young Isabella is in trouble… This newborn army, do you need assistance in clearing up this mess?"
I was starting to get annoyed with is constant tying up the word young- to my name. Plus my name was Bella.
Edward stiffened beside me- obviously reading something in Aro's thoughts. Carlisle replied. "No, thank you. We will be fine. We merely thought it best for Bella to be put out of harm's way in the meanwhile."
"Indeed. Then I expect you should be returning to America soon to see that it is dealt with." Aro stated, then adding, "although perhaps it would have been better if you had changed her."
We all tensed. I had a sudden urge to speak up. "The date is set." My voice quivering only a bit, "In a year, when I graduate."
Aro turned to me. "Of course Isabella. I was merely reminding you of our instructions."
I was shaking. "It's Bella." I said, with more bravery than I thought I had. Edward gave my arm a warning squeeze.
Finally Aro turned away from me, and back to Carlisle. "I'm sure you must be eager to return to your family, and the issue at hand. Let us not detain you for any longer." He said, clearly dismissing them. "Sooo nice to see you all again. Carlisle- Esme- Edward- Alice…" I heard the longing in his voice and he said her name. He had always wanted Alice's gift for himself.
Carlisle and Esme embraced me- "We'll be back before you know it." Esme told me. I nodded, trying to look confident. Alice ran up to me too and hugged me so hard I thought my ribs would shatter. "I'll have no-one to go shopping with!" she cried, and then left the hall so suddenly the speed of her passage blew my hair back. Carlisle and Esme gave me small smiles, then left too.
Edward kissed my hair. "Have you got everything?" He asked. I nodded. I had packed a small bag full of the stuff I thought I would need. "I love you." He breathed.
"I love you more." I whispered. "Write to me alright?"
"Always." And then he was gone.
The large ornate doors boomed shut behind them. I turned back to the thrones.
Aro was still staring at me. The whole hall was silent. I shifted my weight from one foot to another, hoisting my bag higher up on my shoulder.
Eventually Aro spoke. "You really do seem to bring out the most extreme of emotions in our kind."
I didn't know what to say, so I merely said a quiet "Um, thanks?"
He gave a light laugh, then turned to one of his hulking guard. "Felix, could you please escort dear Bella to her room and bring her back as soon as she is settled in? I do hope you will stay with us for a long long time."
"Ohkay?" I said weakly, turning to follow Felix.
"Is there something wrong with your heart?" he asked me innocently as he led me out of the room. I realized it was pounding as though I had just run a mile. "No, I'm fine." I replied.
"Indeed. You still smell as lovely as ever."
I didn't know how to take that- as I thought the only thing I smelt of would be sweat- urgh. I hoped the rooms had showers. We took a few turns until we reached a rather low- not very encouraging wooden door. Felix opened it, and gestured for me to step inside. I did. I couldn't hold back a gasp of amazement. The room was beautiful.
There were no windows as we were underground, but there were electric lights stretching across the walls, with a thick carpet on the floor and a magnificent four poster bed in the corner. There was also a desk, closet and bookcase crammed with books and another door on the other side of the room that I assumed to lead to the bathroom.
Felix had heard my gasp and smirked at me. "Come on, drop your bag and we'll get back to the throne room." I didn't call that settling in, but I wasn't going to argue with the huge hulking vampire.
I dropped the bag on the bed and after a final glance at the room, walked back out. "So why did Aro say yes to me staying here?" I asked Felix, struggling to keep up, he walked slightly too quickly for a human.
Felix shrugged. "I guess a favor to Carlisle. He stayed with us a few hundred years back."
It never ceased to amaze me the way vampires treated time so indifferently.
When we reached the hall again, Aro, Caius and Marcus seemed to be in some sort of argument. Or at least Aro and Caius were. Marcus was staring blankly off into the distance.
They both turned around when we re-entered. "Ah forgive me, I did not notice you Bella."
His politeness was annoying me, "It's ok."
He smiled, (again?) "Do join us, you may sit over there, by Jane."
I was horrified, but not about to ignore him, so I walked over to where Jane sat, at the side of the hall and sat down on the very edge of the bench. I knew she hated me.
"So dear ones," Urgh. "Seeing as Miss Swan will be staying with us for a while- I think it is time to discuss her protection. Due to the fact that there are those dreadful newborns running around, and her- fragile state," I winced. This was embarrassing. "I imagine she should be guarded at all times. Does anyone think otherwise?" Aro asked.
No one said a word. I would have been flattered that they all thought so much of my well being but then I realized they were agreeing that I couldn't look after myself. Great.
"So who would like to volunteer for this honor?" he said.
Crap. He called it an honor? Crap. Crap. Crap.
Thankfully no one spoke. Everyone turning away from eye contact with Aro.
"Honestly I really don't need a guard… I don't like being watched." I said eventually, causing the eyes of all the vampires to fall on me. Oh dear.
"Oh but it is your safety at stake here. One cannot deny it is perilous to have a human here amongst so many vampires." I didn't argue, although my mind flashed back to Gianna, the human receptionist from my last trip to Voltera. She hadn't been at the desk when we had entered. Another female human had been there. "And it would be disrespectful of me to ignore your presence here, would it not?" he asked innocently.
I tried mouthing a few words, then merely nodded. It wouldn't be smart to start arguing with him.
I saw Jane shoot me a glare. And I was hoping, not her, not her, not her.
Aro spun in a half circle,
"If Caius would make a fine protector of Bella during her stay."