Black- Chapter One

"Edward," I said, my voice barely audible. "Edward, someone got hurt."

I'd heard Seth's agony, saw the mask of torture plastered on Edward's face.

"Yes," he whispered.

"Who?" I asked, but, of course, I already knew the answer. The trees started to move slower, and then slower still. It was like we were walking in slow motion.

It felt like an eternity before he uttered a single name. The name I knew would escape his porcelain lips. The name I couldn't bear to hear.

"Jacob," he said.

I was able to nod once. My mind became slightly fuzzy at the edges.

"Of course," I whispered.

And then I slipped off the edge I was clinging to inside my head. Everything went black.

It was like an old-time film reel running in my head. Flashes of images playing along in order. I could see Jacob and Billy coming to visit Charlie and bringing my old clunker of a truck. I could hear Jake's voice telling me his tribe's old legends. I remember walking to prom with Edward, and having Jacob relay his father's warning. Then his smile, lighting the darkness after Edward left. But after all he did for me, I still left with Alice to save the person who hurt me. I can still remember seeing his face fall and hear his voice begging me to stay. Begging me to stay with him and promising that everything would be okay. Jacob. My best friend. I've killed him inside all this time. To wrapped up in Edward to see that Jacob was always here for me. He never left me; never hurt me.

Voices started to swim around in my head. The soft jingling bell tone of vampire's voices and the rougher warm tone of the werewolves. From farther away, Alice's voice. It was a higher, more happy pitch than the others.

"Another five minutes before they arrive. And Bella will open her eyes in thirty-seven seconds. I wouldn't doubt that she can hear us now."

"Bella, honey?" This was Esme's soft, comforting voice. "Can you hear me? You're safe now, dear. Everything is alright now."

Yes, I was safe. Did that really matter? Did anything really matter, knowing Jake was hurt?

Then lips, carved from ice, were at my ear, and Edward was speaking the words that allowed me to escape from the torture that had me caged inside my head.

"He's going to live, Bella. Jacob Black is healing as I speak. He'll be fine."

As the pain and dread eased, I found my way back to my body. My eyelids fluttered like the fragile wings of a butterfly.

"Oh, Bella," Edward sighed in relief, and his lips touched mine.

But this time it felt different. It wasn't the burning sensation I'd felt earlier when I was begging Jacob not to leave. This was cold, hard, and unnatural.

"Edward," I whispered and I pulled away slightly.

"Yes, I'm here."

I could hear the slight puzzlement in his voice. I've never been the one to pull away first before.

I got my lids to open, and I stared into warm gold. Those eyes weren't the ones I needed to see. They weren't the ones I wanted to see.

"Jacob is okay?" I asked, my voice urgent. I had to know if he was alright. I needed that conformation of Edward's earlier statement.

"Yes," he promised.

"I examined him myself," Carlisle said then, interjecting himself into the conversation, like any experienced doctor who was ready to give a report would.

I turned my head to find his face, only a few feet away. Carlisle's expression was serious and calming at the same time. It was impossible to question what he said.

"His life is not in any danger. He was healing at an incredible rate. It was nothing I have seen before; the sight was quite amazing despite the awful situation. Regardless of the miraculous healing speed, his injuries were extensive enough that it will still be a few days before he is back to normal, considering the rate of repair holds steady. As soon as we're done here, I will head to La Push to see what I can do to help him. Sam is trying to get him to phase back to his human form so I can treat him correctly, without having to guess." Carlisle smiled slightly. "I've never been to veterinarian school."

"What happened to him?" I whispered. "What injuries does he have if it'll still be days? Wolf healing is fast right? I mean it shouldn't take that long, should it?" I was babbling with my concern and questions.

Carlisle's face was serious again. "Another wolf was in trouble."

"Leah," I breathed, a slight feeling of irritation at the werewolf.

"Yes. He knocked her out-of-the-way to protect her, but he didn't have time to defend himself. The newborn got his arms around him. Most of the bones on the right half of his body were shattered completely."

I flinched, my body aching as if his injuries somehow affected me too.

"Sam and Paul got there in time. He was already improving when they took him home. He's staying there now. We can't take him to a normal hospital given his healing rate and temperature. I'm sure his blood wouldn't be what the humans would consider 'normal.'"

"He'll be back to normal in a few days?" I asked.

"Yes, Bella. He won't have any permanent damage."

I took a deep breath. The relief consuming me, making me feel lighter as if a weight was crushing me to pieces.

"Three minutes," Alice said quietly, bringing us back to reality.

The Volturri.

I struggled, trying to stand so I didn't look anymore pathetic to the vampire government than I knew I already would.. Edward realized what I was doing and helped me to my feet. It was sweet and polite but awkward given the events that happened earlier.

I stared at the scene in front of me. The Cullens stood in a loose semicircle around the bonfire of dismembered vampires. There weren't flames but in place a thick, choking purple-black smoke rising from the bodies contrasting with the bright green grass of the clearing. It smelled sweet like burning incents. Jasper stood closest to the massive pile of body parts, hidden in its black shadow so that his skin didn't sparkle brilliantly in the sun the way the others did. He was facing away from me, with his shoulders tense, and his arms slightly extended. He was covering something with himself. Something he guarded with a strong caution. I was only slightly shocked when I discovered what it was.

Jasper was guarding a newborn.

It was a young, extremely young, girl curled into a tight ball by her dead accomplices. She was a baby, barely fifteen. My stomach fell with the knowledge that she would die. They would kill her because of something she barely had a part in. They would kill her because she was a part of something illegal against her own wishes. She didn't know any better; she didn't know anything different about this world than the lies she was told when she awoke into her new life.

Edward saw my pained expression.

"She surrendered; Carlisle believes the Volturri might spare her. He said he couldn't kill someone so innocent just because of what she was created into. He'll adopted her if the Volturri approve. Jasper doesn't agree with Carlisle's decision. He says she is still a threat to us because of what she's been told." Edward explained in a hushed tone.

I couldn't tear my gaze away from the scene beside the fire. Jasper was rubbing absently at his left forearm.

"Is Jasper all right?" I whispered. I may have lost my connection with Edward but I still loved my vampire family; even if they won't be mine for long.

"He's fine. The venom stings even us."

"He was bitten?" I asked, horrified.

"He was trying to be everywhere at once. Trying to make sure Alice had nothing to do, actually." Edward shook his head. "Alice doesn't need anyone's help. She may be small but she's as tough as the rest of us. She even has an advantage."

Alice grimaced when she spoke. "Overprotective fool."

The girl jerked her head back and screamed a blood curdling scream. Well blood curdling for me figuring I was the only one who had blood running through my veins.

Jasper growled at her and she cringed back, but her fingers dug into the ground like claws and her head whipped back and forth in anguish. Jasper took a step toward her, slipping deeper into his crouch. Edward moved me behind him to protect me from her. Although he couldn't protect me from the sight of her or the sound. I looked around him to see her thrashing on the ground.

Carlisle was at Jasper's side in an instant, moving so fast he was a blur to my human eyes.. He put a restraining hand on his most recent son's arm.

"Have you changed your mind, young one?" Carlisle asked, calm as ever. "We don't want to destroy you, but we will if you can't control yourself."

"How can you stand it?" the girl cried loudly. "I want her. I can feel the warmth of her and I hear her pulse." Her bright crimson irises focused on Edward, through him, beyond him to me, and her nails ripped through the ground.

"You must stand it," Carlisle told her sadly, with pity in his voice. "You must exercise control. It is possible, and it is the only thing that will save you now. If they see that you can't control your thirst they will kill you. I'm sorry it has to be this way."

The girl clutched her dirt-encrusted hands around her head, weeping quietly.

"Shouldn't we move away from her?" I whispered, tugging on Edward's arm. The girl's lips pulled back over her teeth when she heard my voice, her expression tormented.

"We have to stay here," Edward murmured. "They are coming to the north end of the clearing now."

My heart burst into a sprint as I scanned the clearing, but I couldn't see anything past the thick pall of smoke. I looked back to the girl on the ground. I met her glare for a long moment. Chin-length dark hair framed her pale face, complementing her striking features. It was difficult for me to tell if they were beautiful or terrifying. The feral red eyes were dominant - hard to look away from. She glared at me viciously, shuddering and writhing every few seconds.

I stared at her, wondering , if I had chosen Edward like everyone expected me to, would that be what I had looked like? Would I have looked at humans with horrifying hunger in my gaze? Would I have had to be guarded my some of the strongest of the clan? I shudder, realizing what I had almost allowed myself to become.

Then Carlisle and Jasper began to back toward the rest of us. Emmett, Rosalie, and Esmé all gathered quickly around where Edward stood with Alice and I. A united front, as Edward had said, with me at the heart, in the safest place.

I tore my attention away from the wild girl to search for the approaching monsters. The "government of the vampire world," as Edward once called them when he explained who they were; or, as Jacob calls them, "bloodsucking leaches." I like the later statement better.

I could only see smoke. Plumes of twisting, oily smoke rising from the Earth. It billowed forward, darker in the middle.

"Hmm," a dead voice murmured from the mist. I recognized the apathy at once.

"Welcome, Jane." Edward's tone was cold but polite. He spoke in fear of the small girl walking from the darkness of the forest.