So, as we are back onto my the pre-written draft updates should not take too long until I need to start filling in the gaps. I estimate we are about 2/3rds of the way through the story but when I mentioned this to one off you they said something along the lines of 'well, it's you LD, so maybe more like halfway then?'

Whatever proves to be true we are really going to be kicking it up a notch now and I hope you all enjoy the ride!

Lil'D

P.S I posted chapter 21 of The Collar a couple of days ago but I think there was a problem with the alerts so if you didn't get one, go check it out.

xxxxx

Victoria had booked a ticket with cash stolen from a victim and a passport which had been in the package Irina had sent, supposedly filled with only the gadgets the red-head had bartered. It had been a surprise to see it there, all it required was a photograph which could be slipped in and the protective film sealed over it. There had been a note slipped inside which had simply read 'For past times. Take care of them for me.' It had simply been signed 'I. Denali, Alaska'. The gesture had been appreciated, her meetings with Irina had been sporadic over her lifetime but consistent enough to develop their friendship. This gift allowed her to travel legitimately, except for the stolen funds, and not as a stowaway, so it was very much appreciated.

It had been two months since Bella and Rosalie had returned to their coven and Victoria found herself beginning to think of the young couple, and Irina, more and more. She enjoyed her existence, no roots to tie her down, passing through the human world as she pleased, killing indiscriminately, within reason of course she always disposed of her kills properly so there was nothing to mark them as suspicious. But always alone, always moving forward, she was a vampire of the now, not the future or the past so why was she doing this? Why was she boarding a plane under an assumed name so that she could be on the same continent as Irina's coven, had she that much need for her lovers company? That she was actively seeking out others?

All these questions and more had been running through her head since she her chance meeting with Bella and Rosalie and she couldn't ignore the pull any more so there she was, climbing off a plane in Vancouver. Victoria surveyed the mass of humans surrounding her, they stank, she'd had a hard time not slaughtering them all on the journey but as she'd never flown before she thought she'd give it a try. Not an experience she would be repeating if she didn't have to, even booking and paying for the tickets had involved far too much human contact for her comfort. She had no understanding of these computer devices that were now so prevalent so she had sought out an agency to arrange the flight for her.

A sigh as she studied her surroundings, the airport still crowed with scurrying humans.

Once she had passed through the security gates she hefted the small bag she had brought with her and headed for the exit, it was dark, she had timed the flight to arrive at night so when she reached an unpopulated location she could run, Denali her destination and pinpointed on one of her many maps.

It didn't take as long as she'd thought it would until she scented that she was approaching a highly marked territory, several sets of pheromones sent a strong warning to all who approached. It was with some trepidation that Victoria encroached on the territory, it went against all her natural instincts to travel on but somehow she hoped Irina would welcome her.

The nomad approached slowly, jogging through thick forests as she followed the most heavily marked trails back to where she assumed the coven made it's home. Suddenly the forest opened out into a large open space with a small lake, next to which stood a large stone dwelling. Victoria stood in the tree line, unsure of how to proceed, the last thing she wanted was to be attacked as an enemy.

"Irina?" She called out as she stepped into the open, hoping that asking for a coven member by name would prevent an immediate attack. At her words three vampires sped from the house and formed a line in front of her, two females and one male.

"What do you want with Irina?" One of the women stepped forward, strawberry blonde hair framing her beautiful face, she had similar features to Irina, a refined bone structure with high cheekbones. Victoria frowned at the question, she didn't have an answer for that.

"I need to thank her, for her gift."The red-head answered vaguely and this concerned Tanya, she looked to Carmen and Eleazar.

"Who are you?" That question she could answer.

"I am Victoria." At that Tanya relaxed her stance.

"Then you are welcome here," the red-head nodded her acceptance of the invitation, wondering what these vampire's knew of her. "I am Tanya Denali, these are my coven mates Carmen and Eleazar."

"Thank you, I will not trouble you for hospitality, I will speak with Irina and leave," Victoria scanned her surroundings, she sensed no threat but was uncomfortable around so many other vampires. Tanya frowned but from what her sister had told her Victoria was a true nomad so she shouldn't have been surprised with the slightly brusque response.

"She will be returning soon, within the day," Tanya informed their guest who shifted uncomfortably. "I'm afraid that Bella and Rosalie have taken a trip and will be longer." Victoria frowned at that information.

"I am here to see Irina, not the young ones."

"That may be, but they will be pleased to see you. You made quite the impression," Victoria couldn't fathom the soft smile Tanya gave her. "You are welcome into our home to bathe or rest." Tanya offered the coven's hospitality once again and this time Victoria's curiosity got the better of her and as they returned to the building she followed.

Once inside the, red-head took stock of her surroundings, the room was large and welcoming, she detected the scents of all the vampires she had just met plus Rosalie, Bella and Irina's. There was another scent she didn't recognise that was intertwined with the young ones and this unsettled her sightly but she did not know why. The other sister maybe? It seemed that the dark haired ones were mated. Rose and Bella's scent centred on the couch to her right, it was obviously where they spent most of their time in this room.

"You may stay until they return," Victoria was confused at Tanya's words but she didn't question them. "We have a spare room where you may bathe and rest." Victoria considered her host's offer.

"Thank you, I flew here and it was an unpleasant experience," the red-head divulged, surprising Tanya. It was obvious that Victoria was not accustomed to company, her words were clipped and seemed forced and although she was dressed as a modern day human in jeans, jacket and tight fitted shirt there was an air of wildness about her. Her beast walked close to the surface, it's nature hidden only by flawless marble skin and her scent reminded Tanya of a rainstorm. But, the fact that her guest had endured a flight full of humans and not killed showed that she had control and a desire to remain unnoticed. Whenever Irina had returned from a trip that had involved her crossing paths with the red-head she was always rather at a loss to describe her friend and Tanya now saw why.

"If you take the stairs and turn left the room directly on your right is free, there are clothes in the closet if you wish to change, the scent of crowded humans is difficult to get rid of without laundering your clothes so you may keep whatever you select, we are not short of supplies." Tanya explained, wanting her guest to accept the hospitality offered. "But the room has been used by previous guests, not for many months but the scents still linger," she felt she had better mention this in case Victoria would feel threatened in any way by the discovery.

"Thank you. At what hour do you expect your sister to return?" Victoria asked, Tanya noted how formal her speech patterns were and suspected that the red-head had not socialised much with the current generation, Bella and Rose's modern speech patterns had not rubbed off on her.

"Approximately four, so about two hours."

"I will bathe and await her arrival. May I return here?" She enquired politely, not wanting to disrespect her host by trespassing in her home.

"All the public areas are free for you to use, feel free to read or otherwise entertain yourself until Irina returns," at that Victoria was left alone, Tanya not wanting to crowd their guest. The nomad ran up the stairs and selected a clean outfit very similar to the one she was currently wearing before investigating the bathroom, it was spacious and held both a walk in shower and a large bathtub.

xxxxx

Tanya had sent a text message informing Irina that she had a guest and Irina immediately knew who it would be.

"It seems as though we have a visitor," she told her sister with a smile. "Somehow I thought it would take longer, Victoria is not known to enjoy the company of others but something has obviously told her to come."

"I'm looking forward to meeting her, especially if everything you have told us is true," Kate smirked and put her foot down, pushing her Porsche to it's limit on the deserted road, they had been at a movie when the message had come through but they had left early at Irina's behest, she had not wanted to leave their guest alone in unfamiliar surroundings for long.

"Is that her?" Kate queried softly as she scented the air when she climbed out of her car.

"Yes, it's unique," Irina commented on their guest's scent, it was more natural than most vampire's who tended to have thicker, muskier overtones. "I told her it is because she spends so much time in the forest, she smells like a wood nymph," she smiled.

Victoria heard the two sisters approach the house, Irina she would be happy to see but this other was an unknown and it made her uncomfortable, she was obviously close to the young ones and the fact bothered her and set her on edge.

"Victoria!" Irina whirled into the house and greeted her friend with a hug and a kiss on the lips. "I never imagined I would see you so soon."

"Nor did I," the red-head responded before pulling back from he embrace, still aware that there was an unknown vampire in the room. Irina sensed her friend's discomfort and stepped back so she could properly introduce her sister.

"Victoria, this is my sister Katarina."

"Kate." The two vampires surveyed each other, Victoria seeing a petite blonde vampire with the sister's characteristic features but for all appearances dressed as a college student in her casual clothing. Kate took stock of the red-head, she was beautiful with long luxurious waves of hair tumbling own her back. She was relatively tall too, probably the same height as Rose but of a more lithe, less buxom build. Kate sensed that there was a lot going on behind her red eyes, Irina had not mentioned that this vampire was a human drinker but she did not have an issue with it as long as Victoria did not hunt on their turf. But, to be honest she was not at all what the Denali had expected.

"You are welcome, Rose and Bella will be pleased to see you," Victoria frowned at the greeting from the stranger.

"I am not here to see the young ones, I am here to see Irina," she stated and Irina smiled.

"And we extend you our full hospitality," Kate purred, her eyes blatantly roving the red-head's body, the innuendo blunt. Victoria cocked her head at the petite blonde's words, Kate was extremely attractive and could be trusted because she was affiliated with Irina. And, the sisters were well known for their sexual prowess although it could render a vampire almost incapable, Victoria knew this from first hand experience.

"Your generous invitation will be considered," the red-head replied, her husky tones thrilling Kate, she had heard only good things about their guest's bedroom skills from her sister.

"Kate!" Irina reprimanded her, "she is my guest, not some whore for you to bang." Irina glared at her sister.

" 'rina, I would not refuse her, especially if she is as talented as you," Victoria winked at her friend who sighed and shook her head.

"Well, I am sure that everyone's wishes can be accommodated," Irina joined in the flirting just as Tanya wandered in, the topic of conversation attracting her attention.

"Tanya?" The coven leader shrugged.

"If Victoria is amenable I would enjoy your company, sisters." At this Victoria's brows rose, she was only now catching their drift and took a moment to digest the information. One sister was intense, she was wary of the involvement of all three in a sexual act. Not because it involved multiple partners but due to the fact that she knew of the power they possessed. However, they were all beautiful women with three millennia of experience between them. The equation certainly made sense to the red-head.

Kate sense Victoria's interest in her proposition and smiled, especially since both her sisters were on board. They did not come together sexually very often, usually only after periods of absence from the coven, such as Irina's most recent return, but when they did it was always a profound experience. It was also novel that there was a vampire they were willing to share this with but Irina could vouch for Victoria and the red-head was aware of their unique approach to sex, making this arrangement ideal.

"First we will talk," Irina spoke firmly, she knew how fixated Kate could get when it came to sex. "Victoria, would you join me in my study?"

"Of course, ladies," she bowed to the remaining sisters before following her friend out of the living room, leaving two very curious blonde's behind.

xxxxx

It had been quiet since they had arrived home from South America. Rose had spoken at great length with Tanya and even Irina about her reactions to Victoria and had been reassured that it was natural, that is was her mating instinct kicking in. What wasn't so easily explained was Bella's attraction to the nomad.

Bella herself had no explanation. She just re-iterated what she had told Rose when they were away, that she found the red-head both attractive and interesting, and very much like Rose so it confused her a bit. But, it did not mean that she wanted to leave Rose, and despite the blonde's initial insecurities they had worked past it and she was back to her cool, confident self. Which was why she had decided to take her mate shopping, much to Bella's initial disgust.

"It won't be that bad, I promise. You might even enjoy it," Rose took Bella's hand and confidently led her into the boutique before gently pushing her mate down onto an expensive leather couch. They had been driving back from Forks but taking their time and making a couple of stops on the way, this mall being Rose's one request and Bella had been unable to refuse. A talented tongue making her capitulate in seconds.

"It's Ok, wait," Bella nodded and smiled, appreciating the fact that she wasn't expected to participate too much as her blonde browsed the clothes and politely declined any help from the shop assistant. "Here," Rose smiled down at her mate as she presented three carefully selected outfit combinations and two jackets, one leather and one linen.

"These are for you, do you want to try them on or take them home to try later?" Bella smiled, grateful that she was being given the choice, she also liked the outfits. They were understated but classy with muted colours and classic lines. Just her style and not the frilly monstrosities Alice had always tried to foist on her.

"I'll try those now." Bella pointed to the jackets and stood, taking the jeans and tops but leaving the dress to take home. Rose knew she wasn't really a dress person but Bella knew she was completely lacking that element to her wardrobe and was at some point hoping to take Rose on a proper date so would need the appropriate attire.

"Ok," Rose followed her to the changing rooms, a glare from her mate only received a shrug but no inclination to stay behind, the blonde settling on the padded bench, resting back against the wall, knee casually brought up against her chest as she rested her red stiletto on the leather seat. Bella thought she looked like a goddess and found herself fumbling with the fastening on the jeans, her mind too distracted with the sight to control her body. "Here, let me help." Rose was behind her in a second, sure hands quickly closing the fastening and running strong hands over hips to smooth the denim. Or, actually she was just perving as hands came to rest on the newborn's ass and squeezed.

Next the hands were pulling Bella's t-shirt over her head and before she could protest were sliding the silk of the top back in it's place.

"Beautiful," the blonde murmured as her eyes roved the luscious curves of her mate's body via the mirror. Bella bit her lip and ducked her head, still shy at times, especially when she felt she fell way short of her mate's own beauty.

"Now the jacket," Rose urged softly, holding out the leather one, it was collarless but had a few tastefully place buckles and straps that added a touch of bad-ass to the design without being over the top. Bella caught sight of the price tag as she slipped her hands through the arm holes.

"Rose!" She squeaked, "there is no way I can afford this It's a thousand dollars! For a jacket!"

"For a Tom Ford leather jacket," Rose corrected her. "Bella, now that I'm your mate my money is your money and I have more than I know what to do with. Alice may be a seer but my family were bankers and I learned a lot from listening to my father. Alice invests in the stock market but even with her visions there are no guarantees, one small change by one of the many people responsible for the running of the company can change the value of their shares. That's too many variables for me to risk all my money so I have it in many other places too," Rose explained to her mate.

"Alice may be well off but she's also lost a lot over the years. Much more than I ever have. We," she stressed the word, "are extremely wealthy and if I want to dress you well, then I will." Bella frowned at that, she was used to the Cullen's and even Denali's spending money on her but it couldn't continue forever, she didn't want to be kept and dependant on them for the rest of her existence. "Listen," Rose turned Bella to face her, hands resting on the newborn's shoulder, knowing exactly what her reservations were.

"How about when we get home we see about setting up a small investment fund for you. It will be yours and I can teach you how to manage it, that way you'll have your own money and not feel like you're too dependant on me, on us?" She corrected herself to include the entire coven as she knew they would not even hesitate to offer Bella anything she could possibly want, paid for from their own millions. "When you've made some money you can pay me back, if you want."

"You would do that?" Bella frowned as she held golden eyes via the mirror.

"Of course. I love you and will always be there to protect you. But, I am in no way your keeper or have any right to dictate your life," Rose confirmed and Bella was reminded once again of the huge difference in the way Rose treated her compared to the way Edward and his family had treated her. "Plus, you're smart, so I have every confidence that by the time you're thirty you will have a strong portfolio of your own," Rose confirmed with a genuine smile. "Now come." Bella allowed herself to be tugged out of the dressing room;

"Keep them on?" Rose asked and Bella nodded, the clothes felt good, she felt like herself and she knew Rose liked them, their closeness and also the satisfaction emanating from her mate's chi confirmed this to the newborn.

"We'll take these and those," Rose coolly gestured to the clothes the brunette was wearing, the assistant nodded and rang up her order, Rose refusing to let Bella carry the bags. "My treat," she countered when Bella tried to argue.

"I have a couple of things to pick up, if you don't mind?" Rose asked gently as they slowly walked through the throngs of people in the galleria.

"No, I just like spending time with you," Bella turned and flashed her a happy smile and squeezed her hand and it made Rose feel extremely loved. "And thank you, for the clothes and not forcing me into anything I wasn't comfortable wearing," Bella added.

"I know you, my Bella," Rose replied, placing a soft peck on her mate's cheek. "And I love you for who you are, how you dress is a part of that and I wouldn't want to change it. I would never force you into anything unless there was a very good reason for it. Even then," she paused, shooting the newborn a coy look, "I'd probably try bribery first. Speaking of which -."

She directed Bella towards a small store located in a quieter corner of the mall. Bella eyed the window display curiously it was tastefully decorated with a mannequin posing in lingerie.

"Underwear shopping?" The newborn queried with a raised brow. Now that she would be happy to do.

"Not quite," Rose led her inside and at first it seemed Bella had been correct until she looked a little deeper. It was a sex shop. Bella had matured a lot when it came to sex, now that she knew what all the fuss was about. So, instead of getting shy she was curious. "Go, have a look around," Rose gestured, "I'll be over there." She pointed to the counter where an attractive young woman was waiting.

Bella browsed, familiar with most of the items.

"Order for Hale," she heard Rose murmur to the sales woman and that piqued her interest. What the hell was Rose spending five hundred dollars on? In a sex shop? Bella was both intrigued and excited, knowing she was likely to find out when they got home.

"We can do some browsing online sometime, if you want?" Her mate appeared at her shoulder, wrapping her arms around the brunette, whispering in her ear. "It's good to have a look, see what's out there every now and again. Especially now I have someone to share it with," she murmured, suddenly shy. Bella felt this and tuned in her arms.

"That would be great," she pressed her lips to the blonde's and they kissed, it didn't take long for it to get heated and Bella could feel the eyes of the assistant on them but she didn't care, the woman was lucky to be getting such a show, sure enough the scent of the human's arousal was soon detectable. "Let's go," Bella took the initiative and led her mate from the store and towards one she had spotted earlier. She tried to keep her mind off the discreet bag Rose was carrying but it was hard not to imagine what the blonde may have purchased. Now she knew just how sexual Rose was, it was very hard to focus, so she did the next best thing and guided her to their destination.

"Nice!" Rose smiled happily as she eyed the window display. "I like this store."

"Good, my treat," Bella confirmed and Rose didn't argue. If this was what Bella wanted to spend her money on then it was fine by her. "I like these," Bella held out a matching set of bra and panties. They were smoke coloured silk with black lace accents, the panties were more in the short style but cut high on the back. The bra was half silk, half lace, the upper part of the cup being lace and would allow the wearers nipples to be visible when being worn.

"That was quick, but good choice," Rose complimented her mate.

"Ah, I was checking out the catalogue on-line," Bella admitted with a smirk and Rose found her confidence highly arousing.

"Ok, I'll let you buy me those if I can see you try this on?" Rose countered her mate's gift with a request of her own. Bella eyed the extremely sheer set of lingerie before nodding her acceptance.

"Give me," she held out her hand and Rose obligingly handed the hangers over and Bella quickly spotted the dressing rooms and headed over, Rose following.

Bella was impressed by the dressing area, it was luxurious to say the least. Each cubicle was completely closed in, three walls padded with velvet including the back of the door which closed snugly to offer maximum privacy, the fourth wall held a subtly lit mirror. Underfoot was a plush carpet and the whole space was large enough to comfortably house a leather arm chair as well as leave plenty of room for changing.

Bella slipped inside her booth and closed the door, carefully undressed from the new clothes Rose had bought her, the last thing she wanted to do was rip her mate's gifts. Once stripped she slipped the p on the bra quickly followed. She then eyed the underwear dubiously as she worried her lip.

"Hey," Rose was inside the room with her in a second, so fast that a human would not have noticed her switch rooms. The blonde had yet to change but had brought her own selection to try.

"Hi," Bella greeted her mate, her confidence returning as she noticed the darkening of her eyes and slight tip of fang showing over her top lip. Rose growled, too low for human ears but Bella heard it just fine and shivered, that was what she had come to recognise as Rose's 'Bella, mine!' growl and was usually followed by the blonde marking her territory.

It seemed that today was to be no exception and Bella was soon pushed against the glass of the mirror, pinned as Rose held her by the back of her neck so her cheek was against the cool surface.

"Who do you belong to?" Her blonde demand and Bella chuckled, not the submissive response Rose was expecting.

"Oh Rose, you are going to have to try harder than that!" The newborn teased, upping the game as she slid out from under the blonde, reversing their positions.

"Oh, I don't think so," Rose countered.

Xxxxxx

Next on Crimson Bonds

"I'm sorry," Bella whispered after the first hundred miles or so had passed. Rose turned to face her, her eyes flicking to check the road ahead every few seconds.

"Why?" Her mate questioned softly, she didn't sound angry, just resigned.

"For wanting to see Victoria."