Here is is my lovelies! The first chapter of the short sequel to Insecurities.
Slow updates because I am UBER busy with real life. But I figured you all had waited long enough to see what I have in store for you. Meet me at the bottom!
It was beautiful here in the summertime. Peaceful. We had just finished the construction on Esme's massive greenhouse the month before, and almost everyone was taking some time to themselves and travelling around the world.
Jasper was doing much of the same thing I was: sunning himself shirtless on a rock beside the lake, his rock actually. It was one of our favorite places to be. I could hear Esme fussing over all her new plants in the greenhouse, which now stood beside Carlisle and Esme's house that they shared with Edward. We had built it across the meadow from our house, close but not close enough for us to easily hear the everyday goings on that sometimes intruded on the personal privacy that was so hard to find as a vampire.
It had been a year and a half since the fight with Victoria and Maria and all the newborns they brought with them. Some things had changed, but the one thing that hadn't was the devotion our family shared with each other. Even though we were scattered to the four winds, we all knew where home was. I had finally met Carmen and Eleazar, Irina and Tanya. Irina hated me but she never came to visit anyway. The other three had meshed with our family perfectly. Carmen, in her own way, was just as motherly as Esme, and I found she became something similar to a doting aunt. Eleazar and Carlisle were like pranking boys as they liked to try to test the limits of my shield whenever we were all together. But Eleazar was also very wise and had centuries of knowledge even older than Carlisle. And spending time living with the Volturi had given him the opportunity to learn from vampires visiting from all over the world. Young and old, they all had a story to tell, and with our perfect memories, he remembered them all.
"What'cha thinkin' about so hard over there, Angel?"
My favorite voice in the world washed over me, along with a wave of devotion tinted with curiosity.
'Our family,' I thought to him. I was still insecure about my voice and the damage done to it in my fight with Maria. When it was just the two of us, I generally chose not to speak out loud.
Jasper never once gave me even the slightest hint that it bothered him. I knew he didn't love me any less for my imperfections, just like I didn't love him any less because of his. Yes, he was covered with scars from his time in the newborn armies. That wasn't what defined him. My scars and ragged voice didn't define me either, but the bond Jasper and I shared meant that I knew my voice hurt him. It was the constant reminder of his perceived failure to protect me. I didn't see it that way, but we can't always change how we feel.
The battle had been vicious and horrible. We had been massively outnumbered and there was no way we would be walking away unscathed. I was just grateful we all walked away at all. Well…maybe walking away was a bit of an overstatement. Some of us didn't exactly walk away, but at the end of a very bloody day, we were all still alive. That was what counted.
Jasper rolled his head to look at me, his golden eyes filled with love and curiosity. "What about them? They're all coming back in the fall."
'Just how lucky we are, and that even though they only left a few weeks ago, I still miss them.'
Kate and Garrett had gone to visit the Denalis. Even though they were Kate's family, Garrett still felt more comfortable around us, so they called Ontario home for much of the year. Garrett loved to travel though; his nomad nature still liked to see and experience new things. Now he took Kate with him.
Peter and Charlotte still had various houses around the US, but now they were regular visitors. Uncle Peter didn't like to be away from me for too long and they often spent a month at a time with us before leaving to travel once more. Char had taken full advantage of Isle Esme, basking in the sun and surf for a full four months before Peter begged her to return to Ontario and his favorite niece. I had been excited to see them when they got back. Charlotte's stories of the tropical climate had me itching to see it for myself. One day.
'Have you heard from Alice?' I asked. She and Randall were somewhere in Europe at one fashion house or another. She had told me which one, but I had been silently teasing Edward at the time to tune her out. I hadn't changed so much that I was suddenly interested in all the latest fashions.
Jasper nodded. "They were headed to Milan next. They should be there sometime today."
Alice and Jasper were still best friends. That would never change. They had spent too many years together, both as friends, lovers, and spouses. But they were both entirely devoted to their mates. Randall and I understood completely. Jealousy had never entered into the equation.
"Where's Edward?" Jasper asked absently.
I grinned. 'Hunting for bunnies.'
Annie and Edward had an amazing bond. He was a devoted older brother to her and she was his little piano prodigy, the only one who could call him Eddie. He was the one who most often took her out to play hide and seek in the forest. It was code for taking her hunting. She would forever be frozen in her childlike emotional state due to the frontal lobotomy she had received as a human. Sanitariums in the 40s liked to use lobotomy as a cure for just about every mental disorder there was. It had been hailed as a miracle cure, and the inventor had even received a Nobel Prize. The image of a bright teenaged girl, she was forever a child of about five. Adorable, but completely helpless. Edward doted on her. He said her mind was a beautiful place, and it was easy for him to be around her when he was out of range of my mental shield that now kept him from hearing thoughts twenty-four seven. Their bond made it easy for Randall to feel comfortable leaving her side after so many decades protecting her. Well, that and Annie's attachment to Rosalie and Emmett.
Laughter rang out through the clearing as Rosalie was tackled to the ground in the meadow by our house. They had some free time with Annie out hunting with Edward. It had been an amazing transition to watch. Emmett and Rosalie had become full-time parents to Annie. While the fun loving prankster was still present in Emmett, it was tempered with the responsibility of fatherhood—a role he revelled in. Rose too had been changed, and there was a softness to her that wasn't there before. An aching emptiness, the longing for motherhood, had been filled and would never change. Her devotion to the eternally childlike Annie was a beautiful thing to see. Annie too benefited and she was the one that had started calling them Mommy and Daddy. The first time had brought Rose to her knees. Jasper had needed me to shield him from the tidal wave of emotions in the house. We had all been affected in one way or another.
I rolled over to snuggle into Jasper's side, loving the feeling of his skin on mine where my bikini top didn't cover. His arms wrapped around me as he breathed into my hair, taking in my scent as I was his. After a year and a half we could be apart from each other for short periods of time, but neither one of us felt entirely comfortable with it. We had come too close to losing each other to ever take the other person for granted. Jasper's demon—as he liked to call him—still hovered, but Jasper had him under control once more. The peaceful existence here in Ontario going a long way to soothe the feral instincts that had kept him alive during the southern wars and again during the battle with Maria and the newborns.
A shiver raced through me as his tongue laved the bite he had left on me so long ago. It was his promise to protect me to the end of his existence, our connection to each other and the very core of our vampire instincts tying us together more permanently than any piece of paper or golden ring ever could. The feeling of his breath washing over it, his teeth tracing it, stirred the desire and love I had for him deep within me. My head rolled back exposing more of my neck and succumbing to his ministrations, knowing it would bring us both pleasure. When he started to purr in response to my submission, I clutched at his back as he rolled to place me under him. Safe under the confining weight of his body, there was no other place I wanted to be. He was just kissing his way to my chest when his phone rang in his pocket.
We both froze and my mental, 'Noooo' sounded whiney even in our heads. Jasper reached into his pocket clearly frustrated, but after everything in the past, a ringing phone was not to be ignored.
"Hello," Jasper answered without even looking at the call display. He was still eyeing my barely covered chest like it was his next meal.
"Jasper!" A scream on the other end had us sitting up, all desire vanishing in a human heartbeat. "Randall, never mind we have to run! They're coming!" Alice's attention was clearly divided and her panic was obvious. "Jasper, they're coming for us."
"Who, Alice? Who's coming for you?" Jasper demanded.
"The Volturi. They're coming for all of us!" The wind whipping past the phone made it obvious they were running for their lives. "They think Annie's an immortal child."
"What?" Jasper's eyes were turning black as his instincts were rising.
Fear started to rise within me, and I looked for my family as if they were about to be ripped apart at any moment. I knew Esme, Carlisle, Rose, and Emmett were fairly close, but Edward and Annie were out there somewhere. 'EDWARD! Edward you have to get Annie and come home right now!'
'What's wrong?' The thought floated into my head like a whisper. Edward was at the very edge of my mental distance.
'NOW, EDWARD!' I was too scared to articulate anything beyond the urgency.
"I don't know what happened," Alice was explaining as she and Randall ran. "I had a vision of Aro sending Demitri after us. We've been on the run dodging him for the past few hours. But then I just had another vision. Aro, Caius, and Marcus are in Alaska. They have the Denalis and are planning to take them to Ontario as hostages. They know everything about the battle and our powers."
Her explanation was cut off by another shout. "Mary Alice, duck!"
We heard a scuffle and then the screeching sound of a vampire being torn apart.
"Alice!" Jasper yelled into the phone.
"Randall, we have to run!" Alice shouted. "Demetri isn't far!"
'Rose! Emmett!' I broadcasted, knowing they were the nearest.
As we listened to Alice and Randall running from what was obviously multiple attackers, the phone forgotten in Alice's hand, Rose and Emmett came running.
"What's wrong, Cricket?" Emmett took in our postures as he looked from one to the other as we stared at the phone.
Rose took me in her arms, her mouth open to ask the same thing when Alice spoke again.
"I don't know what to do, Jazz! We can't stop and I can't take the time to search more than a few seconds in the future or they'll catch us." She sounded more scared than I had ever heard her before.
"You two come home. Lead them here. They'll be coming here anyway, and we stand a better chance if we stand together." Jasper growled. "You hear me, Alice? Come home now. Don't stop, don't call anyone else. Just come home as fast as you can."
Alice gasped and the phone crackled. "Are you sure, Major?" Randall's voice came through the speaker. "The family, Annie…"
"The family will protect each other. We've done it before. Come home now." The bite of command was unmistakable.
"Yes, Major," Randall agreed, sounding a bit relieved and the phone cut off.
"What's going on? Where's Annie?" Rose asked hurriedly, clearly worried about her absent daughter.
"I've already called Edward to bring her home," I whispered, my ruined voice unable to manage any more volume than that. "She's safe."
Emmett pulled Rose away from me and into his arms. "Why are Alice and Randall running for their lives?"
Jasper grabbed my hand and looked at me, determination written all over his face and pouring off him in waves. "Esme and Carlisle's house, now."
In seconds we were bursting through the doors, Rose and Emmett on our heels. Carlisle and Esme blurred into the living room, concern coloring their expressions over our panicked entry to their house.
"What's wrong?" Carlisle asked.
"Alice and Randall are under attack," Jasper stated.
I pulled the cell phone from his hand and quickly dialed Peter's number. We would need their help.
"Hello, Major," Peter drawled.
"Uncle Peter," I whispered. "Listen, we're all in trouble."
I finished just as Jasper started to speak again. "They're being tracked by Demetri through Italy. Alice had a vision that Aro knows everything about the fight with the newborns. It's too late to warn the Denalis. The Volturi went there first."
Esme clutched at Carlisle's shirt. "Are they gone?"
Shaking his head Jasper said, "No, they're still alive, but Alice says the Volturi is bringing them here as hostages."
Carlisle's eyes hardened. "He's collecting."
"They think Annie is an immortal child," I whispered. Eleazar had told me the story of immortal children on one of his visits. It was a scary but tragic part of vampire history, but I couldn't see how Annie would fit the description. She knew not to bite humans and had never gone into a feeding frenzy. She had to be tricked into drinking blood for heaven's sake! They couldn't consider sweet Annie to be like the others. They couldn't.
Rose's hands went to her face, and Emmett caught her before she fell to the ground. Her eyes were swimming with venom as she shook her head in denial. "She's not. My baby's not…" Her eyes began to dart around the room looking for a daughter that wasn't there. "Annie! Annie!"
"She's safe. She's with Edward." Emmett tried to calm her, but the fear for his absent daughter was obvious.
Rose wouldn't be calmed, and I mentally reached out. 'Edward, where are you?'
'Two minutes out. What's going on?'
I mentally replayed the conversation as he ran. He was obviously furious by the mental tone of his voice, but he was right when he said, 'If Annie goes in there to see Rose freaking out, she'll be scared. Get Jasper to calm her down a bit.'
I squeezed Jasper's arm as I whispered to Rose. "Rose, you need to calm down. Edward and Annie will be back in a few seconds, and you don't want to scare her do you?" Jasper realized my intentions and began to send soothing waves into the room even though I knew it was difficult for him in his current state of mind.
Rose nodded and tried to pull herself together. Esme went to her side, and Rose took her hand gratefully. She breathed reflexively, the oxygen unnecessary, but the action serving its purpose. Not only was she performing the very human action, but the scents she was drawing in would remind her that there was no immediate danger. The individual essences of the family mingled together to remind each of us that we were surrounded by family, and while danger was approaching, for now we were safe.
I looked down at the phone in my hand to see Peter had disconnected the call. I didn't need to call him back to know that he and Charlotte were making their way to Ontario as fast as possible, either by foot or some other mode of transportation. The only question was, would everyone make it in time?
Once again, my family was under threat and I was scared. Jasper felt my fear and pulled me to him. "You and me, Angel. I won't let anything happen to you."
I buried my face into his chest, praying that once again our family would survive.
A/N: So I hope it is living up to your expectations. For those of you who reread Insecurities so catch up or remind you I hope you notice the MASSIVE improvement in my writing. Good Lord I cringe when I look back on those early chapters and all the mistakes in them. This chapter was lovingly betaed by my partner in crime and co-dependant life partner Maxipoo.
For those of you who would like to get to know me better you can find me on Facebook I have a couple of accounts over there my fanfiction account is the most interactive at facebook dot com slash james dot ramsey dot 5264 Come on over and hang out, participate in the crazy. Feel free to grill me, threaten me and or bribe me for updates.
If any of you are interested in reading more of my writing, I recently published my first book. The summary, teasers, pics and extras for Andromeda Rising can all be found on my website james dash ramsey dot com I had the courage to write it because of the support and encouragement of all the Insecurities fans who urged me to write my own story.
Andromeda Rising was a three year labor of love and I am really really proud of it. An Urban Fantasy, the heroine Jocelyn is a closet witch living in Seattle who seriously underestimates herself and the world around her. While there is violence and the hint of a romance this book in merely the beginning of Joss' journey. Many things are on the horizon and I hope you will check it out.
Patience for the next chapter of Insurrection. The fairies are calling me from the garden and have my laptop all set up and ready to write. Until next time friends, have some cake and ice creme. See you on Facebook!