She lunged forward at the same time he rushed for me. They met in the middle with an almighty clash that shook the concrete ground below us. Garret swung viciously at the offending female, and Tanya returned his effort with similar vigor. They circled each other, snapping their teeth and snarling like wild beasts. I stood a foot away, frozen in my spot.
Tanya charged him and Garret expertly stepped aside and reached to grab her shoulder before sending her sailing backwards and running towards her crumbled form. She was up before he could reach her and swung back, forcing him to stumble while she pelted his chest and clawed at his throat. She was trying to tear away anything she could reach, and surprisingly she seemed to know much of what she was doing. Garrett may have met his match in a fighting partner. But this was no game. This was truly happening right in front of me.
It wasn't until Tanya managed to land Garrett on his back and straddled him, forcing his neck to an unnatural side as she readied to strike, that I awakened. "Stop it!" I screamed, rushing forward to grab her forearms and haul her off him. She hissed at me, her burning golden eyes looking incredulous as I forced her behind me. Garrett raised a brow in anger as he noted my defensive move. "Why are you protecting her? She was going to attack you!" He shouted.
"Stop this, Garrett! She wasn't going to attack me. In fact, it's quite the opposite. She saved me from a wandering nomad." My voice softened as I tried to calm my increasingly angered friend. Tanya shifted behind me and my body instinctively moved to cover her. I turned to look back at her and watched as a glorious smile lit up her face. She gently touched my hand in a sign of thanks and stepped forward to face Garrett. He however, was staring straight at me. "What happened, Isabella?" His voice was still rough, but I could hear his concern and fear.
I opened my mouth but hesitated a fraction of a second before responding, "I think you should allow Tanya to answer that." Garrett slowly turned his head to face the striking vampire and he nodded stiffly once. "I was hunting in the nearby forest when I heard Bella's cry. Normally I'd let human existence be, who was I to interfere with fate? But it was the sound of growling mixed with quickened, unnatural breathes that drew me in. I knew they were two immortals, and I needed to make sure they wouldn't attack any of the humans―"
"Don't be so hypocritical, blondie." Garrett snorted, his eyes full of his own dark amusement. I stiffened and glanced at the peculiar woman, afraid that she would take offense to his teasing. But she simply smiled and regarded him with a steady gaze. "I wouldn't be so assumptions, nomad. You see, my family and I don't hunt from these humans. We value their lives and respect their nature." The way her words were so calm and careful made me think of a young mother nurturing her newborn. In a way, it made my heart both ache and flutter.
Garrett sharpened his stance as he moved forward to sneer at her. "Well then, whatever humans you do hunt from must really appreciate your concern for their morals." This wasn't going to end right. He shouldn't be finding out this way. His words were full of accusation and taunting, and all I could do was stare helplessly at the two of them. If I had a heart, it would have been beating ten-fold.
"You must have understood me, Garrett. You're right to think that we don't harm the mortals here, however, nor do we harm the mortals from any neighboring towns either. We simply do not hunt from humans at all. Instead, we find strength and nourishment from animal blood."
In a second, it seemed as if the world had stopped spinning. I sucked in a sharp breath as I saw Garrett's face turn from one of taunting to that of a man burning. He looked so completely horrified and stricken that it broke my un-beating heart. Tanya even looked down with pity in her eyes. I walked towards him and wrapped my arms around his chest tightly. He remained unresponsive, the news still shocking him to his core. "All this time..."
I nodded against him and clutched him closer.
"I'm sorry," Tanya whispered behind me, "I didn't know this would cause such distress." No, I thought, it's not your fault. I ran my hands up and down my friends back and gently tugged on his arm as I walked towards Tanya. She looked so guilty and I needed to set things straight before they got too out of hand. "Please don't feel guilty for telling us the truth. We needed to hear it. It is nice to know there are other ways for us to survive...but as you can probably tell, it does come as a bit of a shock when we've been living like this for such a long time now."
Tanya nodded in understanding. "And for that I must condone that even though I respect human lives, my family and I have also suffered from your pains. There was a time when we didn't know of this way of life, and we too drank traditionally."
It did comfort me to know that even she experienced a dark age, a time when she thought there was no going back. It gave me slight hope. But then, her words seemed to unsettle a memory from only moments ago. I sucked in a deep breath and spun to face her, my back pressed against a now alert Garrett.
"Before...before you mentioned the Romanians..."
I couldn't form words; my fears came back too quickly. Behind me, Garrett hissed.
Tanya was quick to shake her head and open her palms in front of her as a sign of peace. "Bella, you mustn't rush to think that I was close to them. My sisters and I were born in Slovakia a very long time ago, long before you were born. We know of the Romanians because they were open knowledge for everyone at the time. Mortals lived in fear and vampires ruled the villages. It wasn't long before the masters had found my sisters and I."
She stopped speaking and looked towards me. I was still in Garrett's death grip as I watched her closely. "This is a long story for another time. But as of now, would you like to return with me? I'm positive my family would love to meet you both." Her lips curved gently and I began to note that although she did have an interaction with the Romanians, she did not speak fondly of them and her voice carried an angered tone just at the mention of them. Maybe she could be what I've been searching for all this time. She could help me. She could help us. She could teach us how to hunt animals, and I could listen to her stories of escaping the Romanians. Tanya and her family just might be that turning point that I so vitally craved for but never confessed to myself.
It wasn't me who answered her though. "We'd be honored," Garrett said gently as his hands left my shoulders and slid down to clutch my fingers. I looked up at him and he glanced back, sending a soft grin. I didn't need to question him to know that he understood what I had just been thinking. Tanya's face lit up and her blinding smile returned. She almost squealed in delight and she rushed forward to take my other hand. "Very well then, come with me!"
We followed her as she took us passed the village and into the woods. Running calmed me; it gave me a sense of freedom and exhilaration. The snowfall danced around my hair and the frozen wind whipped up tiny clouds of cold dust. A grin tugged my lips as I let my senses loose and enjoyed the familiar and soothing feel of the snow. Garrett was right next to me and laughed as he watched my display of affection. Tanya turned and winked, before leaping across the clearing and landing directly over the frozen river that separated her home with the mortal world. We followed behind her, our bare feet crunching the snow beneath us.
The forest brush began to thin out, and I could see the towering cluster of mountains ahead. As we broke through the woods and sprinted behind Tanya, the beautiful glass house appeared in our view. It towered along the mountains and gleamed in the moonlight, looking just as in place with the surrounding forest. The only word that came to my mind was breathtaking.
Tanya noticed my dumbfounded expression and giggled. "You'll get used to it, I promise. Now come on, there's somebody I want you to meet!" Garrett gave me a smirk and I narrowed my eyes at him. The 'your new friend is a bit crazy' look was a bit uncalled for at the moment. He just shook off my glare and chuckled. As Tanya took us up the steps of house, or rather mansion, we couldn't even make it passed the front door when I heard another sound come from Garrett.
Oh, what now? I mentally groaned, hoping he wasn't about to protest something or make a snide joke. Tanya stopped too and we turned as she began to speak, "Oh, there she is! I'd like you to meet my friends, Bella and Garrett." She addressed the tall blonde with long silky hair and fierce eyes. I smiled at her and she returned it. Garrett gasped next to me and I threw him a confused look. "Bella, Garrett this is my sister, Kate."
A/N: Weekly updates seem better than no updates, right? I did promise that they'd meet the Denalis...so here, have some Kate! Haha. More to come in the next chapter : ) Thanks for reading, and please leave me some love! You know they inspire and encourage me to write more. Thanks guys!