Tuesday, March 20, 2001 | By: Drotuno

Angel's Embrace Chapter 6

CHAPTER 6
BELLA
"Hey, Rose," I called from the top of the step ladder. "Hand me the star."
"Ok, here," she smiled, handing me the crystal and gold piece of art. "Don't forget, it plugs into the lights."
"Don't fucking talk about the lights!" Alice growled from outside. She had been fighting the gigantic knot for an hour. I covered my mouth, but it was Esme that barked out a laugh. Alice just glared at us through the window.
We were decorating the Christmas tree. The boys had all gone out hunting for Joe again, Demitri in the lead. He was determined as well as everyone else not to let him escape.
"You know…it never matters how we store those lights…they always end up that way," Esme snickered. "Any longer and I guarantee you she runs out for new ones."
"I can't say that I blame her," I sighed, watching my sister through the window. "They're a mess, honestly."
"Fuck it," Alice growled, throwing them down. "And you think you're smart…" She pointed to all of us. "I'm smarter…look." She held up two bags of new lights.
"God, I love her," Rose laughed. Alice wadded up the old ones and tossed them into the garbage, joining us back in the house.
"God, Esme, I know you don't want us to throw shit away…but damn," she frowned, ripping open the new packages.
Esme was beside herself in hysterics. An angry pixie was too funny to take seriously sometimes. "I wasn't going to say anything. Carlisle threw that same tantrum last year."
"Oh yeah!" I laughed. "Emmett ran from him."
"Stupid fool kept tugging on the end…" Rose doubled over with laughter. "All it did was tighten the knot."
Once the lights were on, we decorated the tree with ease. We had the stereo on, but were listening to a CD that Edward had recorded while playing Christmas carols on the piano. It couldn't have been more beautiful.
The sun was setting as we put the last few touches on the rest of the house. We sat down, lit a fire in the fireplace and turned on the lights of the tree. When all was said and done, the place was perfect. Alice was setting a holly ring and candle on Edward's piano when she gasped. "News!" She breathed. "Turn on the news!"
Rose bolted for the stereo and turned it off. Esme grabbed the TV remote, turning to an all news station. The report caused all of our mouths to drop open.
"The walled city of Volterra, Italy went up in flames today. Several tourists and residents were trapped inside. The flames were so hot, firefighters couldn't get inside to save them."
"Call them…call the boys now," Esme breathed.
I stood, pulling my phone out and dialing Edward's number. "Bella?" He asked and I could hear the wind around him. He was running.
"Stop what you're doing…we need all of you home."
"Love, what's wrong…Carlisle…" He called and I could hear them all gather around him.
"Just…get here…we're fine, but there's something you guys need to see…and bring Demitri," I frowned, looking at the TV as my friend's home city burned.
"Ok, baby…" His voice was pure concern and caution. "We'll be home in thirty minutes, ok?"
"Yeah…ok."
They were home in twenty, the five of them flying through the door looking windblown and nervous. "No," Demitri breathed as he caught a glimpse of the news report.
"Jasper," Edward murmured. My brother nodded and sent Demitri a calm wave, but it didn't do any good.
"Carina," his face crumbled. Dry sobs surged from a man that normally stood proud and strong.
I leaned into Esme on the sofa and covered my face, his cries were breaking me. Edward sat beside me, pulling me to him. I gripped his shirt, squeezing my eyes to the pain that was wracking our friend's body.
Carlisle pulled out his phone. "Eleazar," he spoke softly into the phone.
"Carlisle…do you see?"
"Yes, have you heard from anyone you know?"
"No…my friend, what happens if they're all gone?" Eleazar asked.
"I don't know…call me if you hear from anyone," Carlisle said and Eleazar agreed before the call was disconnected.
Alice gasped from her seat in the corner of the room. "Felix…he's alive…" A ripping, snarling growl tore from Demitri and Carlisle tried to comfort him. He knocked his hands away and Jasper sent another calming wave. Nothing was working. Demitri was losing it. His eyes turned black with rage and grief. His whole body shook violently, his fingers stiffened into claws.
"Let me up," I whispered to Edward. He nodded and let me go. Emmett had stepped forward and I shook my head at him. I carefully wrapped my shield around Demitri, pushing him into the chair at the dining room table.
"Bella, stop," he growled, fighting me. His eyes were filled with pain and anger. "Please," he snarled, trying to lunge at me. I couldn't be angry at him. The situation was just plain awful.
"No, relax first, Demitri," I begged. "Wait, Alice isn't done."
"There are people with Felix," Alice said, her eyes glazed over. "They are deciding to go into hiding."
"Demitri," Edward breathed. "She's with him…she's ok…I saw her." He jumped up and knelt beside the arm of the chair. "She's alive…Carina…Alice can't see people who are dead, Demitri…trust me on this."
He stopped fighting my shield and relaxed, a breath whooshing from his body. "Ok?" I asked and he nodded. I released him and he buried his face in his hands.
Edward and I locked eyes over Demitri. Is she really alive, baby? I thought to him. He nodded with a sigh. I let out a breath of relief, looking around at the rest of the family. They were frozen in sadness for him.
"You're so right, Bella," Demitri mumbled. "I shouldn't have left her."
Carlisle took Demitri into his office for several hours to try and calm him. They also tried many times to reach people that Demitri still spoke to in Italy. No answer from any of them.
To take our minds off of Italy, Jasper told us how the hunt for Joe went up until my phone call to Edward.
"It looks like he's heading further and further north," Jasper sighed. I was listening, but was watching Edward's face as he played the piano softly. Something about the incident with Demitri was still bothering him. His brow was furrowed, his jaw tight. His playing was dark and moody.
"Canada?" Rose asked.
"I think so," Jasper nodded. "I'm just wondering if it's worth hunting him. He's a speck on the whole life spectrum."
I snorted and nodded. I couldn't have agreed more. Joe was a waste of human flesh.
"Maybe we should just forget him for now," Emmett mused. "He'll get spotted sooner or later. They've got everyone looking for him."
"For now," Edward growled softly. No one argued. He had been pretty quiet for some time. They had been cautious around him. I had let him stew long enough.
Play something for me, baby, I thought to him. His eyes softened when he looked up at me. He nodded and started with Mozart. I sighed and smiled. He merged into my old lullaby and I couldn't resist getting up to sit next to him. I laid my head on his shoulder, feeling a light kiss to my head. Is something about Demitri bothering you? I asked.
"Yes," he whispered, still playing. "When he thought he lost her…" He sighed, kissing my head again. "All he wanted was death…I could understand…"
Oh, Edward…no. I turned my face into his arm. Please don't ever say that…we've had this discussion…
His hands left the piano abruptly. "I know…" He sighed deeply and started playing Chopin's Nocturnes. I always found them a little morose and macabre. They were fitting his mood.
You've felt that way before…I thought in more of a question than statement. He nodded, frowning. Twice?
"Three times," he grunted. I could hear our siblings carrying on a conversation about Joe, trying to give us a moment. "James…you know that. Victoria…and the time Alice saw you jump from the cliff…"
My eyes stung with unshed venomous tears. I had forgotten that he had checked on me when I had jumped. He must have thought the worst.
"I did," he sighed, hearing my thoughts. "I thought…suicide." He swallowed hard. "I can't…"
Live without me…baby, I know…I understand. His head snapped around to me, his beautiful ochre eyes boring into mine. I get it, really. I couldn't live without you either, Edward. I frowned, watching his hands skim over the keys of the piano. He was just lightly touching them. I could tell he was resisting the urge to just bury them in my hair.
"You know, we all feel that way, Eddie," Emmett sighed from the other side of the room. "It goes with that whole mating for life thing," he smirked. "It's just worse for you…Bells has faced death a few times. But she's a tough one…" My big brother winked at me, his grin completely adorable.
I fought my smile and looked up at Edward. He stared at his brother like he was from another planet. I could feel the tension melt from him a little. "Jasper," Edward huffed a laugh, "you're right…the world is twisted when Emmett starts to make sense."
Jasper laughed, pulling a pillow up to cover his face. Rose chuckled, leaning in to kiss Emmett's head as he shrugged. Alice smirked and nodded.
"Bells, Eddie…look up," Emmett laughed. We did and hanging above us was a sprig of mistletoe.
"Esme," I giggled as Edward's eyes lightened. A smile played on his lips.
"Like she needs to encourage you two," Jasper chuckled.
"True," Edward smirked, leaning towards me. It was a beautiful kiss, sweet and full of love. It seared my lips, my tongue barely touching his.
Easy, I smiled against his lips. He broke from me, kissing my nose. His eyes were a little darker when he pulled back. His gaze flickered to the piano and back to me, his eyebrow raised up sexily. How bad do you want to be home alone right now? I asked, laughing when he rolled his eyes and groaned.
EDWARD
I could hardly explain the feelings I felt when Bella helped Demitri from losing control. She was patient and kind, holding him to the chair. For a split second he hated her for it, his mind in chaos when he thought his Carina was gone.
When I saw his thoughts, the visions of his need for death, my heart ached for him. I was intimate with that feeling. When Alice's mind brought Carina's face into the forefront, relief washed through me. For Demitri. No one should feel the loss of their mate.
I sat by a small creek, waiting for everyone to finish hunting. For some reason, we all went. I think it was because the emotions that were running through the house over the last few days were so very draining. I chuckled as I heard Bella and Emmett laughing and wrestling. He had apparently stolen the bear she was hunting. I heard a large crash and knew she had pinned him. I just shook my head.
"I didn't get to thank you…" Demitri sighed, sitting across from me. "I think I might have destroyed the house…"
"Esme would have hurt you," I chuckled. "You don't have to thank me. My…gift…it's helpful and a curse sometimes. Alice and I have worked in sync for a very long time."
"Felix and I used to be that way," he sighed. His mind flashed to the two of them laughing.
"You were friends?"
"We're enemies now…" he frowned. "We worked side by side for Aro…keeping the laws protected. I would track, Felix would…well, he's all muscle. At least I thought so…but, he's cunning. Aro went through phases where he would favor one follower over others. He liked my skill…used it, honed it. Felix became jealous…"
The fact that Demitri was using past tense with Aro was not lost on me. It was a strange feeling to think that the royal family, the law in vampires was gone.
"When Carina was human, she worked at Volterra…when the time came, I begged to change her. Aro granted me this…" His mind was filled with pride that he didn't drain her. I smiled, thinking I knew that feeling well. "Felix had showed interest in her, but she didn't return it. When Carlisle called a few years ago and needed me, that's when Felix made his move. He bribed Chelsea to manipulate Carina's feelings."
"When I went back for her," he continued, "her eyes had no emotion for me."
He was quiet for a while, thinking about Tanya and how they had talked. There was no intimacy there - just friendship. That actually surprised me. His memories with Carina flooded his mind. Some sad, some pleasant.
Bella's squealing laugh fell over us like a blanket and we both smiled. Emmett strolled up, carrying her upside down. She was writhing in his strong grasp. "Does this belong to you?" He chuckled as she tried kicking him.
"Very much," I laughed as he set her in my arms. "Love, did you anger the giant?"
"He stole my bear," she growled, but her eyes were alight with happiness as she stayed cradled in my arms. "It sucks that I lost my newborn strength," she pouted, sticking her tongue out at Emmett. He sat down across from me and Bella, next to Demitri.
Demitri chuckled, thinking she had to be the favorite in the house. That her personality kept everyone young in mind and heart. "Yes," I smiled over at him. "That's exactly right." He nodded, looking at her with a smile.
"Any word, dude?" Emmett asked, looking at Demitri.
"Not yet," he sighed. Demitri had tried calling everyone. Carlisle tried as well. There was no answer from anyone. Alice's vision showed a few people - besides Felix and Carina - that had survived, but they were in hiding.
Bella leaned her head to my shoulder, picking up my hand and playing with my ring. Her mind was shielded, so I had no idea what she was thinking. I kissed her head, breathing in the scent of her hair.
Alice, Rose and Jasper joined us, followed by Carlisle and Esme. We were all sitting together quietly. Jasper got up and gathered firewood, starting a fire in the center of us all. If we're sitting out here… he thought to me with a smile, we might as well enjoy it.
"Carlisle," Jasper started with a frown, "what happens if the Volturi are completely gone?"
Carlisle's mind went into quick motion. "It could go many ways…you've seen the Southern Wars, Jasper. You know what desire for power can do." He frowned and the images of Caius, Marcus and Aro flashed in his mind. He had known them for centuries prior and there was a sense of loss in his mind. "Or…a new way of thinking could come about…where vampires could live without worrying about which coven is bigger than the other."
"Will they look to you for leadership?" I asked, seeing that he was almost the next in age.
"I don't know, Edward," he sighed. "I worked for them many years ago, but they never could see my way of thinking."
"Aro told stories," Demitri added. "He respected you, Carlisle. He didn't understand the diet, but he respected your conviction to it."
"At one point the three of them were live and let live…" Carlisle sighed, "but the more gifted vampires that came their way, the more power hungry they became. I've seen them kill for no other reason than just to kill and I have seen them save villages from newborn attacks." He paused and looked at me and Bella. "I've seen them kill each other's mates."
"Marcus and Didyme?" Bella asked.
"You know about that?" Demitri asked, looking at us all. "I heard the story from a servant vampire. She was around at the time. You wouldn't even know it…she hardly ever said a word. She said the brothers hated that Marcus was so attached to someone…that it clouded his mind."
"They, of course, didn't do the job themselves," Demitri frowned. "They let newborns do it. Marcus and his mate had a house outside the walled city…"
"Yes," Carlisle nodded, "I heard it that way too. They punished the newborns, making themselves look like heroes. I often assumed Marcus knew."
"Up until the day I left, Marcus would go through fits of rage and then days of listlessness," Demitri sighed. "Aro would post a guard to make sure he didn't do anything like set his room on fire."
I looked down at Bella. Her brow was furrowed as she stared into the fire. Carlisle had mentioned this story before to us. We were trying to figure out why we were in pain when we separated. He had told us that Marcus and Didyme had the same pull and connection that Bella and I had. She sighed and looked up at me, feeling my stare. We locked eyes, not saying anything. I leaned over and kissed her forehead.
"I suspect it's not over," Carlisle frowned. "There will be vampires that will test the fact that there isn't any threat to govern them. That can prove to be quite destructive."
"You mean," Emmett started, his mouth open a little, "that one of us could just go around, revealing ourselves. That's crazy."
"Imagine what that would do," Bella mused. She laughed once, but it wasn't in humor. "Imagine finding out that every story you've ever read is true…vampires…werewolves. I accepted it, but someone like Charlie would have a heart attack."
"You accepted it, because you had no choice," Carlisle smiled, his eyes flicking up to me. "You were meant for this life…I'm totally convinced." The family chuckled with him, all nodding in agreement. My angel shrugged adorably. "But, yes, you're right…humans will question everything at that point. It could very well knock us back to the witch trials. Pitchforks and torches would make a comeback."
"All we need is Frankenstein's monster and we're set," Rose said sarcastically, rolling her eyes.
"Witches," Bella snickered.
"Don't forget Godzilla and King Kong," Jasper snorted.
"Ahhh, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon," Emmett smirked.
"Why can't we have the sweet legends…like unicorns?" Alice laughed, shaking her head at her own silliness.
"Dragons would rock!" Emmett boomed. "I could slay dragons…"
"Emmett," Bella sighed, rolling her eyes. "Dragons breathe fire…fire's bad, ok?"
"Oh yeah…damn," Emmett frowned, his mind sad that his new dream was shot down. I had to laugh and I buried my face into Bella's neck.
"Thank God," Bella sighed, collapsing into the Volvo's car seat. "Christmas break…"
"No kidding," Alice growled from the back seat. Jasper and I nodded as I pulled out of the school towards home. It was a few days before Christmas Eve.
Midterms had been tough with all that had been going on in the house, which was saying something considering we really didn't have to study. We were still looking for Joe. Demitri insisted upon it. I can't blame him. Demitri wasn't seeing what I had in Joe's mind - constant primal and sexual violence against my wife. Joe could think of nothing but taking her from me. I thanked Jasper for stopping me on many occasions from just tearing the boy to shreds. Demitri said the search for the boy gave him something to do. He was still waiting to hear from anyone he knew from Volterra.
Alice was keeping an eye out for any decision that Felix would make. He was the only one she could focus in on. She had seen nothing from Aro, Marcus or Caius. So far, no decision had been made. Carlisle's guess that they were all gone was becoming more and more apparent.
"Is Esme really throwing that Christmas party?" Jasper whined, laying his head in Alice's lap.
"Yes," Alice beamed. She seemed to be the only one looking forward to it.
"Who's coming again?" I asked.
"Kate, Irina and Ghianna…" Bella ticked off on her fingers. "Um…Eleazar and Carmen…Brandon and Catherine…"
"Demitri, of course," Alice added. "And I think he will try to bring Tanya and her human…"
"Fuck me," Bella growled.
"Love!" I laughed. I didn't know if it was in admonition or in agreement that I looked over at her with my mouth open.
"Sorry," she mumbled, looking out the window.
"Bella, feel free to torture her human," Jasper laughed.
"Don't encourage her…she'll get with Catherine or something," I chuckled.
"Ooh, good idea!" My love and Alice beamed. Bella added, "Why is she coming? I mean, didn't Demitri say she wasn't allowed…"
"Well, now that she's mated…" Jasper shrugged. "Besides, I think this is more about Carlisle wanting to get the Denalis all together because of Italy."
"Oh," Bella nodded. "Good, Carlisle can deal with her." I chuckled, picking up her hand and kissing it.
"Actually," I smirked, "if you really want to get back at her…use Jasper."
"Yeah," they all smiled. Every one of them thinking that lust aimed at the poor unsuspecting human would be hysterical.
"Edward, stop at the store," Alice bounced in the back seat. "We need more mistletoe if that's going to work." I saw the plan in her mind and couldn't help, but laugh. It was so wrong on many levels. "Oh," Alice stopped, her eyes glazing. "And we're going dancing?"
"With who?" Bella asked, turning in her seat.
"Ghianna, Kate and Irina," Alice and I said together. Alice added, "They want to hit the clubs in Boston."
"Really…" Bella mused. "Huh…" A smiled played on her lips as I pulled into the store. Her mind opened up to me. Dancing with Ghianna, huh? She raised her perfect eyebrow at me. Didn't you say…her thoughts started.
"Bella," I groaned, "just…forget it…" I was well aware of what I had said. It seemed so wrong to admit the things I wanted lately. Bella was nothing but encouraging. She would give me anything. I knew that. She was right when she told me on Halloween that I was learning to use my hormones again. It was a slow awakening, but they were hitting me full force. She had been human when I returned and all I wanted was to prove to her that she was it - everything. We got married a year later and moved to New Hampshire. Bella took time to heal from all that had happened to her while I was away. As she healed, we threw out the past and the present was a constant want, need.
When I had spoken to Carlisle in private about it, he assured me that it was normal, considering that I had repressed so much for so long. He said that the slow build we were feeling was because we had to take a different road than others - that it was, in fact, normal. Normal or not, I wanted Bella every minute of every day. I couldn't stop wanting her. I would feel disgusted by my ravenous mental state if I didn't know she felt the same way.
"Not a chance," she laughed, getting out of the car with Alice.
As I watched her walk towards the store, I pulled out my phone and texted her quickly.
E: Not Ghianna. Human.
She pulled her phone from her pocket, reading the message and looking back at me. Her eyes were black. I chuckled, shaking my head. The power we had over one another was indescribable.
In the doors she walked, her fingers texting me back.
B: It's yours, love.
I groaned internally, pocketing my phone.
"You two are killing me today," Jasper chuckled, sending me a wave of calm. It was like a bucket of ice water.
"Sorry, Jazz," I snickered.
"I can't complain, bro," he smiled, shaking his head. He thumbed mindlessly through one of Alice's magazines. "She's…Bells is…so good…in all senses of the word. Such a short time…and you'd think she'd always been with us." He was quiet for a moment. "And you…I never have to send cheerfulness anymore," he laughed. "I barely recognize you."
"I could say the same of you," I said, turning in the seat and looking at him.
"I see what you and Ali have now," he nodded. "It's nice to…bond with someone else in the family."
"Yes," I agreed. "Are you still sending her book off?"
"Hells yes!" Jasper laughed. "I'm gonna use Jenks to find an editor and make sure to lose her identity through a paper trail…but yes, it's really good. Have you even skimmed through it?" J. Jenks was the human we hired under the table to acquire all of our identities each time we had to start over. He was completely trustworthy, but only because he was scared to death of Jasper.
I had gone with Jasper once to see what Jenks thought of us. He had strange ideas of our appearance and constant moving, but he was simply not concerned with it. He only wanted payment for a job well done.
"No," I sighed. "I should. I've seen the outlines and rough drafts, but not the finished chapters." I left that one thing for her…alone time to escape from everyone, including me. I could understand. I used music for the very same reason.
"Ask her," he smiled. "She wants you to read it, but she won't force it."
"Ok," I nodded.
BELLA
E: Not Ghianna. Human.
I growled in wonton need as I read the text Edward sent from the car. Alice stared up at me as I slowly turned around to stare at my husband. He had no idea why he would want a human, but I did. I saw it in his face - a slight touch of innocence. I knew him better than he knew himself.
A human would be anonymous. A human would be as close to me again as he could get. A human would be enraptured by our looks. He didn't want the human. He wanted to watch someone want me - touch me in a provocative way. All he wanted was me after the dance.
B: It's yours, love.
I texted him back as Alice pushed me into the store.
"He's really pushing your buttons lately," Alice giggled.
"Do you have any idea?" I laughed in frustration. We turned down the aisle for the Christmas decorations, grabbing a few more sprigs of mistletoe.
"Yes, but it's none of my concern," she smiled. "He really can't make up his mind anyway," she laughed. "Edward's so…shit, there's not a word…all over the place…that works…"
"It's new…"
"Yes, but really new to him," she sighed, looking up at me. "He'll shake some things off…thinking it's disrespectful."
"I know," I smiled, "and I love him for it, but there's nothing like…"
"Don't I know it!" She squealed with a laugh, shaking her head. "We've all gone through it, Edward will catch up eventually."
When Edward parked the car in the garage, he was practically vibrating with need, but there wasn't time. We were all pulled in different directions by Esme. Guests were due to arrive that night from all over. She sent the boys to shovel the snow, hang lights on the outside of the house and clean the fireplace. Alice, Rose and I snickered as we hung more mistletoe in the most random parts of the house.
Catherine and Brandon were the first to arrive. They were still living in Montana. Brandon had become quite good at controlling his gift. He could negate anyone's talent. When he was first changed, Alice, Jasper, Edward and I all stopped being able to do anything. Brandon could turn it off now, allowing us to behave as we normally would.
Catherine was as beautiful as ever, her long auburn locks pulled away from her stunning face. She and Brandon were quite happy together. They were about to move to Maine for the next few years and were upset to learn we were about to move back to the other side of the country the next year.
Emmett went to the airport to pick up Kate, Ghianna and Irina. I had to fight my laugh when all they did was gush about Boston and how much they wanted to go out. Poor Edward had to leave the room for a moment. Apparently, the rave club they heard about was too much for my sweet husband to deal with. The plans were made without him.
"Wow," Jasper chuckled quietly in my ear. "He's out of control these days…poor Eddie. What are you doing to him?"
"Shut it," I growled, but smiled. "Nothing…direct it all towards Tanya…she'll be here in a little while."
"Oh, I will," he chuckled. "As much lust as Edward's spinning out, I have to send it somewhere." I just looked at him, begging for sympathy. Jasper smiled and kissed the top of my head. "Don't worry, little sis. I'll keep him calm."
I felt for Edward. I knew what it was like just to look at him and lose it. His mind must have been a cacophony of erotica.
Carmen and Eleazar followed Emmett from the airport in a rental car. They were going to drive back to Alaska when they left. Eleazar was going to look for some old associates that he knew.
"Bella," Eleazar gushed. "Carlisle's really been working with you. That's quite a shield you're working with these days." He could sense the gifts of a vampire. "No wonder Aro was interested in you." That statement caused the room to go silent. Edward walked up and took my hand. "I meant no disrespect. I just know how…he is…was…damn, Carlisle," Eleazar grimaced. "What the hell are we going to do? There are attacks in the south again."
"No," Jasper growled. My laptop was in the living room and he snatched it up and opened it. "Maria wouldn't…"
As Jasper scanned the news websites, Carlisle sat down in the dining room. Everyone found a place to listen. "I don't know…that's the honest truth. I've always believed that the Volturi was right in maintaining the utmost secrecy. I agreed with the policing newborn activity. I even had no problem with their feeding habits…though I could never find it in myself to participate." He sighed, looking very worried and a little weary. "I've thought of moving sooner…back to the Pacific Northwest earlier than we planned."
"Do your wolf friends know?" Catherine asked, looking at me.
"Yeah," I nodded. "They've expanded their patrols to keep a better lookout. Jake will call if anything starts to change." I had emailed him the article on the fire in Italy. The message I sent him was to stay sharp and watch for attacks. He emailed back a winking emoticon.
"Alice, any more visions concerning Felix?" Carlisle asked, looking over at her. She was sitting by Jasper reading over his shoulder.
"They haven't come out of hiding yet."
"The problem we face with Alice is if they decide to start in Forks," Edward frowned. "She won't see anything if they come in contact with Jake."
"Cool thing is…Jake can deal with it," Emmett nodded, folding his arms across his chest. "He may be a…" I raised my eyebrow at Emmett and he nodded. "He may not be my best friend," he smirked, "but the wolves have the capability to take care of things." Emmett will never forgive Jake for what he had done to me. He tolerated Jake for my benefit only.
"Large," Edward chuckled, "huge, really." His answer was to Eleazar's mental question. "Over seven feet when in wolf form. Jake in human form is six foot seven inches."
"No kidding?" Eleazar chuckled.
"He was at the wedding, Eleazar," Edward smiled.
"All those American Indians?"
"Yes, sir," I laughed. Eleazar looked like Carlisle did when something piqued his interest.
"Damn," he shook his head, a slight smile played on his lips.
"It looks like Maria," Jasper mumbled to himself as Edward and I joined him on the sofa. "I can't say for sure. I would have to contact Peter and Charlotte to find out, but…later," he smiled, looking up at the doorway. Tanya and Demitri had just arrived.
"Yeah, he's human," Rose snorted, walking into the room with us.
The heartbeat was the first thing I caught, the scent was the other. He was sensationally strong. "You know," I looked over at Jasper. "Just for peace of mind…you and I will stay under the shield," I laughed. Edward chuckled, kissing my head.
"I have zero problem with that," Jasper snickered. I shielded us both, completely blocking the scent of the human that was being introduced to Carlisle.
"She's extremely uncomfortable," Edward murmured. He laughed quietly, turning away from her. "She realizes now that the entire room could drain him in less than a second…not that we would…but it's a scary thought to her." He rolled his eyes, his face radiated "Welcome to my world."
I looked over at Mark. He was handsome with dark features. His eyes were hazel, blue edges around green. If he was nervous, he didn't show it. His heart beat never changed. "Does he know?" I asked, biting my lip to keep from laughing.
"Mmhm," Edward nodded with a smirk. "He guessed just like you did."
"Wow, really?" Alice snorted. "Maybe when you mate…the human becomes more aware."
"Interesting," I mused, looking over at her. "I didn't even bother to try to figure anything out until…huh…after we talked…"
"I love you," Edward smiled, kissing my ear.
"Save it," Alice smirked, "she's heading this way in fifteen seconds."
I looked over at Brandon, having forgotten all about him. The sneer that was on his face was menacing. Oh shit, I thought to Edward. I forgot about Brandon. He's pissed. Edward's head snapped around.
"The hatred," Jasper frowned.
Has he not seen her since…his change? I asked Edward and he shook his head no, keeping an eye on the boy as Tanya got closer. And so it begins… Edward turned and winked at me.
It was sad to watch Tanya ignore the boy she used. She walked right by him, stepping in front of me and Edward. I felt all of my siblings tense up. Jasper I felt more than anyone, because he was under my shield. I looked past the couple and saw Demitri, keeping an eye on the situation.
"Hey guys," Tanya beamed, but I could see her nerves. "I want you to meet Mark Pruett…this is Edward, Bella, Jasper, Alice…" She gestured to all of us on the sofa. "And Emmett and Rosalie." She pointed to the loveseat. We all waved and smiled. It wasn't Mark's fault that she was a lunatic.
"You forgot Brandon and Catherine," I smirked, pointing behind her to two chairs. There wasn't a chance I was letting her ignore what she had done. "And it's nice to meet you Mark."
Tanya finally turned to face Brandon, but he wouldn't look at her. "Um, Tanya," Catherine frowned. "Maybe you should step away from him."
"Mischief, Bells?" Jasper chuckled.
Edward looked at me and I opened my mind. I was just wondering what she would do if I flipped the hell out and lunged for her man's throat. Edward caught his laugh before it got out of control.
"You wouldn't," he smirked, but his eyes said he wasn't sure. I just shook my head and smiled.
"Emmett," I smiled. "Let's teach Brandon that new game."
"Sweet," Emmett beamed. "Come on, bud."
It was rude, but it was necessary to get everyone away from Tanya. Brandon was barely holding his temper. We all made our way to the game room, flopping down into different chairs. Edward pulled me to his lap. I turned to him. Anything from her? No dirty pictures…no wishful thinking…
"Nothing, thank God," he laughed, pulling me back to him.
We played video games for some time. Mark even joined us. My brothers took it easy on him, his reflexes were nothing compared to ours.
Tanya and Kate leaned in the doorway to watch us, they were chatting away. Alice whispered in my ear to look up. Edward and I grinned, looking up to the mistletoe above us. "It's time," she said, giggling. "Shield yourselves only." She meant Jasper as well. He needed to feel what we were doing in order to push it out towards Mark and Tanya.
"Ok," I smirked, turning to Edward. Shielding you, handsome. He nodded, his tongue gliding along his bottom lip. Jasper snickered ever so softly to my right.I took my shield and incorporated it around Edward. This is so I can control the lust, not Jasper.
"Just kiss me," he whispered. Never did Edward have to tell me that more than one time. As soon as my lips touched Edward's, I could hear Jasper snort as he pushed everything Edward and I felt out to Mark. I wanted to moan at the contact, but I was all too aware that we were in a room full of people. Edward's finger traced circles on my wrist over and over. With barely a flick of my tongue to his bottom lip, I pulled away.
Mark was writhing in his chair, trying to stay comfortable. His heart rate had tripled. Emmett was really trying not to laugh as his eyes would flick to Mark's movements. But it was Tanya that was funny to watch. Did she just…press her legs together? Edward nodded, not even able to look up. Jasper was focusing only on the TV in front of him. Rose and Alice were in silent hysterics.
"Sweetie?" Tanya's voice cracked. I had to bite my lip painfully in order not to lose it. "Let's…go for a walk."
Edward shook with silent laughter. Jasper's nostrils flared as he still focused on the game, fighting his smile. As soon as they were out the back door, the room cracked wide open.
"No, she didn't!" Rose guffawed.
"Yes, she did," Jasper, Edward and I all laughed.
Brandon chortled. "That rocked! Did you plan that?"
"Yes," Alice smiled with pride.
"Good," he smirked. "Keep doing it…"
"Shameless," Esme smirked from the doorway, her arms folded across her chest.
"Can you blame them, Esme?" Kate snickered. "I love my sister, but she was wrong for a long time." Tanya and Mark didn't return for hours. The party was quite comfortable without them.
I noticed that as vampires, we really have no sense of time. Unless we are in school or have plans or work, time really ceases to mean anything. Where a human party could last well into the early morning hours, a vampire party could last days.
It was early morning as I watched Esme make breakfast for Mark. He had slept at her and Carlisle's house in the guest room. Tanya went with him. For a split second, I wondered if she watched him sleep like Edward used to do with me.
"For while," Edward answered my thoughts. "But she's not as patient as I was." He smiled proudly. "She left him, went hunting and came back."
"You're too cute," I snickered, leaning against him on the sofa.
"I'm more than that," he whined in a whisper. He ran a frustrated hand through his hair. There were too many people and too many ears in the house for us. There were also the constant conversations that arose concerning Italy. I couldn't even imagine the mental assault Edward was feeling.
"I know, love," I sighed. I say we stay in Boston overnight, I thought to him. Just the two of us.
"Done," he growled, getting up from his seat and running upstairs. He was probably booking the hotel room as I sat giggling at him. "I am," he laughed from upstairs.
They all wanted to go dancing tonight. I shielded my thoughts from Edward as I tried to figure out what I should wear. I shook my head with thoughts of being alone. I needed it as much as he did. We hadn't been away since our anniversary. One night would do us good.
"Carlisle said I should talk to you," Mark smiled down at me. He was holding a cup of coffee and a plate of eggs and bacon. I smiled back at him, remembering the many breakfasts Esme had cooked for me.
"Esme's a good cook," I nodded to his plate.
"She is," he laughed, sitting next to me. "It's kind of shocking, actually."
"Oh, she was a mother first…some things don't go away." I watched him sip his coffee and set it on a coaster. "What did you want to talk about?"
"Carlisle told me to ask you about…" He blushed slightly, pausing a moment. "You…when you became a…"
"Vampire," I laughed. "It's ok, you can say it." I heard a few snickers throughout the house. Mark didn't.
"Sorry," he chuckled, taking a bite of bacon. "Look, I know you and Tanya…well, you aren't friends…I know that much."
"No, no we aren't," I frowned, tilting my head at him. "How old are you?" I asked, thinking he looked about twenty two.
"Twenty three," he answered, looking up at me. He was handsome. I could give Tanya that much credit. His dark hair was still slightly damp from his shower. He had long eyelashes and a strong jaw line. She had to be around the same age at the time of her change.
"And you want to know what about me? Specifically," I asked, hearing Edward come down the stairs. He didn't join us. He could hear what we were talking about.
"Carlisle said you were human when you met Edward," he started. "I just wanted to know…did you know…immediately…"
"Did I know he was it? No one else?" I asked and he nodded. "Yes. Human and all. I'm not saying I knew what to do with all of that emotion…but I knew that he was all I would ever need."
"Exactly," he sighed, looking relieved. "And you two wanted the change…"
"Well, Mark…" I shook my head. "This is where the story gets complicated…and there are things I won't talk to you about. If you're asking me if I wanted it, yes. If you're asking me if I regret it, no…not at all. But, you'll have to talk to Edward for his side of that decision. I won't speak for him. Our road wasn't easy."
"I understand…" Mark nodded, sipping more coffee. "I know some of it…but I'm not asking for personal details…just your input. Tanya seems…hesitant."
"No," I sighed, smiling at him. "This is your decision…and Tanya's too. See, she has to live with it as well. You must be in agreement…it's really important." I bit my lip, my brow furrowing in thought. "You need to ask yourself if you are willing to lose it all, Mark. I can't answer that. Do you have family…friends…that you are willing to say goodbye to forever? Because it's hard…ask any of them in there…" I jerked my thumb behind me. "Better yet…ask Brandon…he's just as new as me. We both have family still alive and out there. We can't see them. You don't know how hard it is to restrain that. You can't have both worlds…"
"I have family…I'm not close to them. I see what you're saying…I do. I just can't imagine…"
"Life without her…" I answered for him.
"Yeah," he sighed, setting his plate down. "And the change itself?" He looked up at me.
"It's different for everyone," I sighed. "I was lucky…Brandon was lucky…the rest of them…probably not so much. Brandon and I adapted well…but there can be a time of…mania," I looked at him. "Carlisle has a theory on choosing this life over having it thrust upon you…did he tell you?"
"Yes," Mark nodded. "In detail…was he trying to scare me?"
"Maybe," I chuckled and heard more snickers through the house. "Carlisle has seen it all…trust what he tells you…" I heard murmurs of agreement, again too low for Mark's ears. "Did it hurt? Yes. Was I scared? Considering I was going to die unless Edward changed me, yes. He can no more be left behind than I can. Do I enjoy my life…and I am well aware that's why Carlisle sent you to me to begin with…Absolutely." Again laughs came to me.
"Should I talk to Edward?" He asked, looking nervous.
"You can," I nodded. "He may give you a little insight on what Tanya may be feeling."
He was quiet for a moment, looking at his hands. Emotions played over his face. "Thanks," he smiled, starting to stand. "Oh, one more thing…Carlisle also said you were quite the pool shark…want to prove it?"
"Oh hell yeah!" Emmett's booming laugh came from the kitchen. "Bring it all to the table, Bells!"
"You sure?" I laughed, standing up.
"Yeah, what the hell…" Mark laughed. "What's the worst that could happen?"
"We feed you to Emmett if you lose," I said, looking up at him. Mark's face paled, but Emmett's laugh gave it all away. I smiled as he let out a nervous breath. "Relax, he prefers bears."


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