Chapter 2:

Waiting game

It was early in the morning at Nice International Airport; a flight was departing for Volterra, Italy. Most passengers on board were relaxed, though some reacted skittishly to the wheels bumping along the runway; one panicked woman even tried to get out of her seat, despite a hostess's plea, but it was too late. As the plane began to ascend, a baby was already crying.

Beth sighed. "Great."

Anna watched the steely stretch of runway shrink away beyond her window, a weight beginning to lift off her shoulders. Anticipation stirred in her stomach, like a woodland creature rousing out of hibernation.

Anna's heart sang Aro's name, while blunt knives of guilt make her wince. She had broken her promise and kept him waiting.

Meanwhile, Beth wanted nothing more than to listen to her music and block out the noisy baby. She waited for the plane to get safely into the air, leg jiggling irritably. "See, this is why I don't like travelling by plane."

Anna knew Beth wasn't serious – in fact, Beth enjoyed flying more than any other travel, besides running. "Our journey won't last long," Anna said. "We will be in Volterra soon."

The Volturi would pick Anna and Beth up from the airport, in four hours' time. Beth resisted the urge to scowl. "I can't wait."

Where had the month gone? Their house was safe and hidden from human view, and with all that laborious packing, Beth was almost numbed to it; they'd done it so many times now.

Unfortunately, she'd had to sell Abraham. It cost too much to ship the car over to Italy. He had gone to a good home, but you could say Beth was a little bitter.

A chirpy bell rang from somewhere on the plane, signalling it was safe to move about. "Finally." Beth sighed.

Anna watched on, amused, as Beth whipped out her iPod from under her seat. "Shall I leave you alone?" She asked, wryly.

Beth looked sheepish. "If that's okay with you?"

"Of course," Anna smiled. "I wouldn't want to deprive you of your music."

"Thanks." Grinning, Beth found her travel playlist. Plugging in her earphones, she drowned out the hungry baby in row 8.

As odd as it seemed, it was a relief to have a proper conversation with Anna again. Beth liked that, though. It made their relationship more exclusive, and that was something the Volturi could never take away.

Anna watched the tension in Beth's shoulders melt away into almost-sleep. Meanwhile, she could not rest. Where are you now, Aro?

A threadbare carpet of cloud swept passed her little window. The ground looked tiny and insignificant down below. They would arrive at Galileo Galilei International in three hours and forty minutes.

Anna tried to find solace in the thick novel in her carry-on bag. She didn't usually struggle to immerse herself in a good book, but it was hard to concentrate on the words.

She could see Aro being whisked away in the protective circle of his Guard, in some glamorous vehicle. He might be watching the skies as she was, with his heart aching with hope.

A black limo wound its way into Pisa, snaring the eye of all who passed it. Who was in there? The blacked-out windows created allure, mystery, not to mention a barrier against the glaring sun.

Aro watched the world go by and sighed for the thousandth time. His bodyguard, Renata, squeezed his hand.

Lady Anna will be with you soon, Master.

Looking down at Renata, Aro smiled, slow and sad. His suit was crumpled, and his usually immaculate hair hung limply around his pinched face. As Aro's bodyguard, it was Renata's purpose to protect him, so it pained her to feel so helpless.

She had yet to meet Anna and Elizabeth personally, but she trusted her Masters. Marcus was fascinated by their relationship.

Out of the pair, Anna seemed quiet and gentle, while admirable discipline kept her powers in check. According to Demetri, Elizabeth was a different matter: fierce, and perhaps a little arrogant with golden eyes and invisible glamour.

But a woman with the ability to get under Demetri's skin so quickly was enough to make Renata eager to get to know her better.

"I thought you would," Aro said, chuckling softly. His hand disappeared inside his jacket. "I want to show you a gift Anna made."

Renata was puzzled. "Master?" I know about the scarf. We all do.

Aro smiled. "No, dear Renata. Not that." He brought out a folded piece of paper and opened it carefully.

"Oh!" Renata gasped. "Did Lady Anna draw this?"

Aro nodded, murmuring, "Such eye for detail, hm? Our Queen is full of surprises."

"Indeed, Master…"

Anna had drawn Aro in soft pencil, sitting languidly in one of the seats in his favourite library. Aro's eyes leapt off the page, like ruby cinders burning with purpose.

"Anna misses you," Renata said, but Aro could not reply. His heart would surely burst with love.

Sensing his Master's growing desperation, Felix swiftly drove the limo into the airport car park. It swarmed with humans who hurried out of the way.

Renata saw Aro tense and smiled. "Patience, Master," she whispered, pressing the intercom button. "Felix?"

There was a soft click before Felix replied, "Yes, Renata?"

"Our Master grows impatient. Bring our Queen home, please."

Beth hated going through customs. No matter where she went, it was always hot and moist, full of dead-eyed travellers, and equally dead-eyed security officers. When she decided to travel more, Beth hoped to find an airport that disproved this stereotype.

Anna rigidly waited, carry-on bag clutched in her white-knuckle grip as her eyes darted from the security guard on the other side of the little conveyer belt, to the glass exit. The doors were so close, yet so far away.

Beth considered putting a placating hand on her arm. For the love of God, don't kill the security guy.

Eventually, their bags passed through without any issues, their passports deftly stamped, and Beth quietly rejoiced as Anna relaxed before checking the door once again.

Oh. Anna's heart sank. People were waiting, but they were all human and ordinary.

Beth gave her a gentle nudge. "Come on, hun. We're holding up the line."

It was difficult to walk as Anna's muscles seized in irrational fear. They were on-time, weren't they? Yes. Her watch told her as much.

Beth tried to reassure her. "The traffic must be bad." She could say anything, and it wouldn't soothe Anna in the slightest. "Er, let's sit down, eh?"

"Alright." Anna pulled her battered suitcase towards the seats bolted to the carpet and flaking with red paint. They were about as comfortable as sitting on blunt cheese-graters, and Beth tried not to think how they must look, like lost children waiting for the responsible adults to take them away.

Anna retrieved out her novel again but did not open it. She looked at her watch and sighed. They were early. Guilt sliced through Anna's insides again as she wondered how Aro must feel.

Despite his size, Felix moved with impeccable grace. Beth almost didn't see him, until Anna's hand grasped her arm tightly. "Beth. Beth, look. It's Felix."

Beth frowned, craning her neck. "What, not Aro?"

But Anna already yanked her suitcase away. "Come on!" Beth could only scurry after her.

"Oy, wait!" Beth had not counted on this. Not Felix. He was a part of the Guard, but he hadn't spoken to either of them before. Anger roared steadily through Beth. Where the hell is Aro?

Demetri said that his Master was going insane with waiting for Anna, yet he expected his minions to do everything for him. It was unbelievable!

When Beth caught up with Anna, she found her sister speaking to Felix like he was an old friend. He looked quite menacing in his black suit and opaque sunglasses.

"Where's your Master?" Beth demanded.

Felix blinked. "If you'll follow me, you shall find him."

That was all. Oh. Beth was disappointed, not to mention a little embarrassed.

"Then please, lead the way, Felix." Anna gave Beth a concerned glance, but her sister only shrugged and pulled up her hood.

Felix kindly offered to carry their bags as quickly as if they were empty.

Squinting in the watery sunlight, Beth found the black limo and wondered. It undoubtedly matched the Volturi's style, not that Beth was complaining; she had only been in a limo once before, and that was for her prom. It had been fabulous until one of her friends had come over with an unexpected case of travel-sickness. Beth grimaced at the memory.

"Are you parked very far?" There was a tremor of excitement in Anna's voice.

"No, my Lady. It's just here." Felix was taller than the limo itself.

Beth grinned. "Oh, I could get used to this..."

Felix went to get the passenger door, but it swung open before he could reach the handle.

It was dark inside, shiny with expensive leather and chrome, and a familiar woman with a long face smiled out at them. "Lady Anna. Elizabeth. We were beginning to grow anxious. Come. Do not leave us in further suspense."

Anna couldn't move fast enough. Her limbs felt both heavy and weightless as she stepped shakily inside. "Aro?"

"Is it you?"

Anna barely recognised his voice. "A-Aro?"

Strong arms drew her in, enveloping her in warm peppermint and silk. "Anna…" His mouth pressed against her hair, breathing in her scent greedily.

Anna didn't care that she was in his lap, cradled against his chest like a child; she was dizzy with relief. "I'm here," she whispered. "I'm here."

To be continued...