At midnight I drag myself out of my room and down to the basement bunker where the private meeting will take place. The house is mostly quiet other than a murmur here and there, and when I finally make my way downstairs and through the basement till I get to the secret passageway Alice had shown me once that lead to the bunker, I let myself in.
The bunker was the only place Esme had left un-renovated in the entire house. It was a small twelve by ten room that was pretty much a straight concrete block.
Jacob was already there, sitting around the only piece of furniture in the room, a long dark wood table that had twelve chairs surrounding.
I step in to find the main Culllens- Carlisle, Esme, Edward, Emmett, Jasper, Alice and Rosalie- Jacob, Seth Clearwater, Kate, Eleazar and Sam Ulley all sitting and standing around with tense expressions on their faces. They all seem to breathe a sigh of relief when I bust through the door, thoroughly confusing me until Edward snaps at me to take my seat.
I pay our bossy leader no attention, not letting him get the best of me like he usually does, and sit down beside Jacob who smiles at me when I sit.
"I've called a private meeting among us to discuss the union and the upcoming war." Edward starts of gravely, sitting at the lone chair at the head of the table and looking out at the rest of us. "Me and Carlisle have a general plan laid out, but I would appreciate hearing all of your opinions too."
He's a natural leader, I notice. Carlisle's words from earlier in the night linger in my mind and I wonder if Edwards always been so much of a leader, he's never been taught to be a lover.
"The disruption at the Core put us all in bad terms with the gods," He fidgets with a big bronze ring he has on his finger. "But the Volturi caused the tension in the first place, so may Zeus take his wrath down on them instead."
"If he's not in a bad mood." Emmett mutters gruffly. He's lain back in his chair in a relaxed position, unlike the rest of us who sit straight and hunched over the table with worry. But something's different about his usual carefree self; he's too tense, while his hands are clutched back between his head, they're balled up in fists.
Ever since I was changed I've been baffled by the common acceptance of the Greek gods as our creators, especially among the younger vampires. My family was never extremely religious, we didn't go to church every Sunday, but we all accepted that there was one singular god. And so did many of my classmates. Hearing the vampires talk about them gods was strange. Did they truly believe in them, or did they just accept it because Edward believed? I wasn't sure what I thought.
"I just want peace." Esme sighed, gripping tight onto Carlisle's hand, she looked completely different then how she'd looked earlier tonight. Her face was tired and worn, a somber expression was etched into her bones and she almost looked old.
"We all do, Esme." Edward replied, his eyes meeting his brothers. "So tonight we must discuss the best course of action to take from here."
"And what of the Russians?" Seth calls out, he's a younger wolf with a high voice and a smart mind, despite his young age, he's one of Jacobs two Beta's, the other is the third werewolf sitting beside him; Sam.
"What do you mean?" Edward asks, I notice that he speaks to the young werewolf with more respect than he does the Alpha.
"Will they go along accordingly to whatever plan we make? Or will they follow their own leaders and have their own course of action?"
"Me and Anastasia have discussed it," He messes with his ring again. "The Russians will come to the Forks area and linger around here, and will be under my command. And Anastasia's, and Carlisle's. But what we decide here tonight will be plan we will all follow if Anastasia approves of it."
"But the Russians aren't vegetarians." Jacob growls at the realization and glares at Edward. "What will they eat and where from?"
"We've talked about that too, Jacob." Edward sounds annoyed, "They'll disperse around the areas outside of Forks to hunt their prey, they won't take any humans from the area."
"But humans will still die in a more rapid pace because of the increase in vampires."
I mumble, looking down at the table and thinking of how the death rates in Washington will sky rocket within the next few months.
"Its better than them hunting in Forks, Bella." Edwards voice softens a little, "Your family will be safe."
"And what if Charlie goes fishing down the river and ends up in an area outside of Forks?" I challenge, "What if he's attacked and killed. Or maybe my little brother, or someone we went to school with."
"What am I supposed to do, Bella?" He challenges back, "They will help us win the war, and when it's over, they'll leave."
"But the war could take hundreds of years, Edward." Alice joins the conversation, her eyes fierce. "The amount of humans that could die is enormous."
Edward glares at his sister like she just betrayed him, and she quiets down immediately. "It's out of discussion now, me and Carlisle both decided this was better than nothing."
"You agreed to this?" Esme turns to Carlisle in outrage and untangles herself from his side, her face is shocked and eyes unbelieving. "You of all people?"
"I had no other choice, my love." Carlisle panics at his wife's outburst. "It's the best plan we could think of. We must keep the Russians close enough that if an attack happens, it wont take them long to get here."
"But now we'll have a ton of new vampires here who don't know the area and don't know our ways, and will each hunt at least once every two weeks." Esme argues back with her mate and the rest of the room looks on at them in wonder, I haven't seen Carlisle and Esme ever fight; it doesn't seem like something that happens often.
"Esme we have more to worry about than a bunch of dead humans." Edward growls and stands up, silencing everyone in the room once more with a single action. "We have a war at our hands, and if we loose, we'll have hundreds of dead vampires around the world and the Volturi will take over and rule the human race, then it will be millions of them dead. It's a small price to pay for a big one."
Nobody argues with him, although I have the feeling a lot of people want to. Beneath the table a warm hand grabs mine and I see that its Jacob, his face is a mixture of negative emotions, but I know that even he can't say anything change Edwards mind once its already settled.
"Now." Edward takes a long breath, "As for the actual reason we're here, we need to know how to proceed with the Volturi. Jasper, any ideas?"
Jasper who's been silent the whole time finally speaks; his voice is low and calculating. I remember hearing something earlier this past year about how Jasper used to be a war general, and can't help but stare at all the crescent shaped scars on his body as he begins to talk.
"I think we need to strike them before they can strike us." He looks at Alice and she nods encouragingly. "They'll expect us to stay in Forks and hide like how we have in the past, I say we play the offensive and ambush the city."
Emmett nods from his spot behind Rosalie. "I agree. Volterra is the only thing the Volturi care about more than themselves, and they'll never expect anyone to attack it because its never been done before."
"There's tunnels beneath the city that come from outside the walls," Alice says after exchanging another look with Jasper. "They'll probably have guards, but if we can send in different groups through them and give the Guard a distraction, we might be able to take the castle."
"What kind of distraction though?" Jacob is now in full on Alpha mode, I can practically hear the gears in his mind turning as he joins the discussion.
"We could have vampires outside the city walls trying to break in, or cause a riot among the humans." Seth suggests.
"Or we could send in a group of us who are acting like they want to join the Volturi." I add. "And have the Voltrui think we come in peace while the others are in the tunnels."
"That's dangerous though." Edward says, "What if the Voltrui attacked the group or used them as leverage against us?"
"We can send in a strong group." Jacob perks up at the thought. "And cause a riot with the humans so they're torn in responsibilities."
"Won't it make them curious, though?" Carlisle asks.
"The Volturi think we're human lovers." Jasper answers calmly, but I can tell he's in deep thought somewhere in his mind. "They'd never think we'd cause them to have a riot, it's a perfect plan." He looks over at me with a wide-eyed amber gaze, "Good idea, Bella."
I feel my cheeks rise in a smile. "Thanks."
"I still don't think its safe." Edwards face is grim, his lips pressed together into a tight line. "It's a suicide mission for the group going in."
"But what if we send in someone who Aro thinks isn't fully loyal to us? Or someone new?" Rosalie joins in, and I see her eyes slide to me for a second before looking back at Edward. "Or someone Aro and Onyx want…"
"Like Bella." Alice finishes Rosalie's obvious intention.
"No, absolutely not." Edward glares at Alice once more but this time she stares back evenly.
"Edward, she's a big girl now." Emmett argues for me. "She can defend herself, and she won't be going in alone. We can send in a group of four or five, not too many to make the Volturi wary about their own safety."
"Plus I bet Anastasia will love the idea of a suicide mission." I can't help but add sarcastically. "She's a crazy Russian. Almost like Russian roulette, spin the cylinder, shoot the gun, and hope you survive."
Alice looks at me curiously but doesn't say anything; we all turn to Edward once more.
"It's not something to joke about, Bella." He urges me, "I don't think this plan is good."
"Is it that, or is it because the big, bad Lord doesn't want Edward getting hurt? You've acted like you don't care about her in the past, you can't all of a sudden change your mind." Jacob growls from my side and his grip on my hands tightens. "I'll go in with Bella into Dracula's den if you want, you know I'll defend her and give my life for her."
Edward sighs and runs a hand through his hair tiredly, "Let me think about it. The Russians come next week, and we have a lot of preparing to do before they get here." He looks over at Alice and Esme, "Do you two already have everything planned?"
"Yes." Esme says in the harshest voice I've ever heard come from her. She's still standing away from Carlisle who's looking at her like a lost puppy, if the matters were less serious, I'd laugh.
"Is that all?" Rosalie pipes up, already entwining her body with Emmett's in a way that makes it obvious what they're doing tonight.
"Yes, you're all dismissed." Edward sinks down into his seat and looks at Carlisle and Jasper. "But you two, I need to speak with you both."
Carlisle gives Esme one last somber look and Jasper pecks Alice on the lips and let their wives leave with the rest of us. As soon as I'm standing Jacobs pulling me out of the room fast, his grip is tight and I can tell that he's mad.
Within seconds we're outside the Cullen house and he's leading me into the woods, towards the river. The skies dark, and the moons overshadowed by dark clouds.
Jacob stops me at the sandy bank of the river and walks up to the water shaking, leaving me to wonder if he's about to change until he turns back to me with wild eyes.
"I don't agree with the plan, either."
"You just didn't want to agree with Edward, did you?"
He shrugs. "Maybe. I don't want you getting hurt, Bella. He's right; it's a suicide mission. Even if I'm with you…"
"Aro's curious about me, Jake." I sigh and look at the running river, remembering back to my human days when I'd go swimming in it with Collin. "And Rosalie's right, I'm new, I don't know my true origin, if there's someone in this coven most likely to leave, it's me."
He huffs and sits down on the bank, patting the spot beside me as an invitation to join. We sit quietly for a minute, me looking at the river and him starring at the moon like it's the holy Christ. After a few minutes he speaks again.
"Do you know why wolves howl at the moon?"
"I thought that wasn't real." The questions so ridiculous I almost laugh, "I read it somewhere in a science textbook."
Jacob frowns, looking over at me with a deep scowl on his face. "Science also says everything mythical is false, a legend, a myth. But look at me, and look at you. In the eyes of science, we're not real either."
He has a point, so I urge him on. "Why do ya'll howl at the moon then?"
"Because of Luna." He answers quietly. "Because we howl in her honor, vampires bow to Juno, we bow to Luna."
"And why is that?" I wonder aloud. I know that Lyca, the original werewolf, cared more fro his little sister than anyone ever did, and since has never been the same. But why would that make werewolves howl at the moon?
"Because she saved Lyca," he smiles lightly. "In a legend, Luna saves his life. Lyca's first son, the one no one knows about, was the one from the Greek myth. Lycaon, tried to feed the god Zeus human flesh, and in return Zeus killed all of his sons. But what the myth doesn't say is that Zeus didn't stop there, Zeus wanted revenge on the whole family. So he went to Lyca and took from him his immortality and made him a wolf. Zeus cursed Lyca that unless another immortal who loved Lyca blessed him with immortality and found him among the forests, he would die an animal."
"Luna heard of this, and searched in the woods for her brother for years. Years and years until Lyca became and old wolf on the verge of death, he was old and sickly and about to die when Luna found him lying passed out in the moonlight. She changed him then, thinking the process would make him a vampire again, but it made him something so much more…"
"He became a werewolf." I finish. "That's how the first werewolf came to be?"
"Yes. My kind, what I am, what we all are is from Luna and her giving some of her immortality to her brother. It's what ties us to her and to the moon, why we howl at it in her honor."
"And here I was thinking it was it wasn't real." I nudged him teasingly, earning me a big cheeky smile.
"I'm going in there with you, you know." He looks at me seriously now, "I'm not letting you go in with someone who won't put their life before yours."
"Jake, it won't come down to that." I promise him even though I know I cant. "Trust me, I have a feeling. And we don't even know if this is going to happen, we didn't agree on a solid plan."
"It might. Do you have another hidden power nobody knows about?" He jokes kindly.
I can't help but laugh. "I don't know, possibly. I never seem to know until it happens and everyone looks at me like I'm a freak."
"You've always been kind of a freak though, so you should be used to it now." Jake picks up a stick and starts drawing his name into the sand. "I remember whenever Charlie would visit he'd talk about Bella cooking and Bella making sure he's on time for his appointment. He made you sound forty years old. Not seventeen."
"I'm a proud forty year old woman then," I snatch the stick away from him and start writing my own name beside his. "I made the best roast Charlie has ever had, and he was never late to anything on my watch."
"Well, as long as you're happy." He grins and looks at me happily. I realize that this feels good, sitting here with Jake talking about anything and everything. He reminds me of the humanity I miss and the family I love. He's like a brother, one I'm grateful to have in my life.
I have a strange feeling that we're being watched, but when I look around I don't see eyes peering from the dark woods or a lone shape standing surveying us.
"What is it?" Jacob turns and looks around but doesn't settle on anything before looking back at me curiously.
"I thought we were being watched, but I guess not." I shrug, "There's a lot of people around here these days, it wouldn't shock me if someone was just passing by from the house or the cave or wherever else all the vampires and wolves stay."
"I don't smell anyone nearby, but the smells are so mixed along with the river." He nods at the river like I don't see it five feet infront of us. "Makes everything so jumbled."
"Understandable." I rise and help him up before brushing off my jeans and hoping I didn't ruin them. Tight black jeggings that are designer and expensive and probably the same kind I could find at a cheaper store like American Eagle. But I know if I mess these up Alice will find me and ruin my life with her devilish ways, so I dust the sand off till I don't feel anything left.
"Your butts fine." Jacobs standing a few feet away and starring at my backside with this coy smirk on his face that makes me suspicious about what he's thinking. "You know, I could have helped you get that sand off Bells."
"Go home, Jacob." I roll my eyes at his foolishness. "Goodnight."
He grins at me one more time and winks mischievously. "Night, Bella."
Back at the Cullen house all is quiet, Emmett and Rosalie must of taken their romance elsewhere, because all around I hear low murmurs but nothing more. Alice and Jasper are up in their room not making noise; Carlisle and Esme aren't home, and Edwards…
"Bella." I'm standing right by the staircase when he pops up behind me, scarring the crap out of me.
"Don't scare me like that, Edward." I gasp out a sigh of relief seeing his face.
"So sorry." He rolls his eyes.
"I bet you are." I snort and make my way up the stairs, him hot on my heels.
"Did you and Jacob have a nice talk by the river? Romantic?"
"So you were the peeping Tom?" I turn around and face him when I get to my door, my hand lingers on the doorknob.
His expression turns sour. "I wasn't peeping, I was out and overheard you two. Well I heard his thoughts," he presses his lips together in a line. "So you know why wolves howl at the moon now. Cute."
"I also know that if you overhear, you overhear a lot."
"Its hard minding your own business when you can read minds, Bella." He says in a dry tone that leaves me dumbfounded when I realize I see his point.
I don't agree with is though. "Should of tried harder."
"You two seem to of got closer all of a sudden." He says casually. Leaning his back against the wall across from me.
"I suppose so." I turn and face him, curious about where he was headed. "What about it?"
"I don't know." He shrugged, "I just wonder how Finch will feel about that?"
I raised an eyebrow. "Finch isn't my mate, and Jacob's like a brother to me. Finch won't feel any way about me being close to him."
"Ah, I understand." Smirking he let his eyes fall to the carpet.
"Jacob's been ah-how do young people call it? Friendzoned." His eyes return to me and I swear it looks like he's about to laugh. "And Finch is the same way. You know, going around breaking hearts is a quick way to make enemies."
He's such an idiot. "Do you hear yourself right now? You sound ridiculous. I've known Finch for less than a week and only met him for one day, and Jacob's my friend just like I'm his. You wouldn't know what its like because you've never had a friend."
His smirk lessens slightly. "I have Jasper and Emmett."
I roll my eyes and turn my back on him, "Goodnight, Edward."
Suddenly he's there, blocking the doorway with this strange look in his eyes. "Bella, wait."
He looks like he's struggling with something before his face turns impassive. "I can read minds, and I read Finch's at the Core. He only promised his allegiance to us because of you, and despite what I said about him earlier, I know he's a strong ally."
"Okay, so?" I don't get what he's trying to say.
"Don't mess it up." He leans against the doorframe lazily. "I don't want to loose him because you hurt his feelings."
"Get out of my way Edward." I growl and push him away from the door and back into the hall. "You worry about your precious little union with Anastasia." I spit out her name. "And I'll worry about the legion of boys trying to make me their own." I look back at him one last time to meet his dark eyes. "You can't keep being hot and cold with me Edward, you act like you care about me, then you don't. But get mad whenever someone else shows me attention?"
Something in his eyes fades but he doesn't say anything.
"Decide what you want, because I'm done playing your little games."
I close the door behind me and peel off my clothes once I hear him walk away. Its late night now, and even though vampires don't sweat or get dirty. The want to shower pulls me into the shower stall of my private bathroom where I turn the water boiling hot so it actually feels warm against my cold skin.
Before getting in I cant help but look at myself nude in the mirror, once more shocked by all the changes that being a vampire has brought to my body. Its something I don't think I'll ever be able to get used to.
Gone was the sickly pale girl with messy brown hair, a straight pencil body and doe eyes. The venom from the bite had taken that all away and here I was now, tall like a model with defined hips. My hair looked even darker against my milky white skin, and my eyes were the color of the sunrise. They'd finally changed from blood red to amber a few months ago, and ever since I'd been fascinated by the color.
I knew I was beautiful, all vampires were. But standing here starring at myself, I could almost understand why Edward thought Jacob and Finch wanted me as more than a companion, I wasn't being cocky, it was only right.
The shower was relaxing.
I sat in the middle of the spraying hot water and let it hit my back, creating a hissing sound as boiling hot water met ice-cold skin.
I let myself think, here in my steamy hot sanctuary. I thought about my life as a human, and my life as a vampire. I'd changed so much since I was created; I'd been bitter and revengeful. I'd wanted Edward Cullen's dead corpse burning in my fire pit, and I'd hated all the undead creatures I know called my friends.
Oh how I'd changed.
I could slowly feel a change in my powers too, and I didn't know if it was normal. After practice I could maintain a shield over everyone within a fifty-meter radius, and my memory-seeing ability-whatever you wanted to call it- had changed too, instead of just seeing a memory they were thinking off, I could plunge into memories that lingered in the depths of their minds. It was frightening and different, shocking even Eleazar who said he'd never seen anything like it since Juno's days.
The name still shook me. I didn't know how I was connected to her, but it was obvious by now that I was. The only problem was that I didn't know if I'd ever know how we were related, who she was to me.
I sighed and leaned back till I was laying on the shower floor with my full body exposed to the hot water, drips of it flickering away and landing in my eyes till I squeezed them shut tightly.
And what about Caesar? He'd acted like I was a ghost, saying I looked like his long dead mate. What could that mean? Surely out of everyone he'd know who I was and how I was connected to her, so why did he treat me like he had no clue who I was?
It was all so confusing. In the paranormal romance books I'd always read as a human, immortality was usually peaceful. The protagonist gets changed into a vampire or some other kind of creature by the man she loves, and after some climatic points, leave a long and peaceful life for hundreds of years.
This? This was nothing like those cheesy novels. This life was hectic and always busy, you didn't have the chance to sleep away and escape for a few hours, you had to deal with it every moment of every day. It was stressful.
I stayed like that for the next few hours, till the water turned ice cold then hot again. I mentally chatted myself for racking up the Cullen's water bill, but its not like they couldn't afford it.
Eventually I felt myself drift into a state of bliss that was so close to sleep, I was content with it. My mind lingered here and there but never on anything serious, and it was the most peace I'd ever felt since I'd changed into a vampire.
Wrote this quick. Wanted to get as many chapters out as I could before I have to give my laptop away, which is why this one is longer than the ones I usually write.