Friday, July 25, 2014 | By: Drotuno

Masen Manor Chapter 36 – Epilogue & Pics

Chapter 36 – Epilogue
June 1918
Emerging out of the woods, I smiled at the squealing laughter. When I made it to Giselle’s yard, I shook my head. I wasn’t sure who was happier about that living situation: Carlisle, Esme, or me. Having the three gypsy women move back with us a little over seven years prior had been fantastic. They knew what we were – had predicted it, actually – and they needed our help. Carlisle and I had thought about renovating the small cottage at the far northern point of my property for them, but Giselle and Sue insisted they were happy and comfortable where they were. However, we checked on them just about daily.
Everyone was outside, tending Giselle’s small garden. She preferred to grow most of her own vegetables and herbs. Her daughter, Sue, liked growing flowers. But it was the youngest member of the Black family who brought the most joy to all of us.
“Edward!” she squealed, jumping up from the outdoor table where it looked like Esme had been doing school work with her.

Sunday, July 20, 2014 | By: Drotuno

Masen Manor Chapter 35 & Pics

Chapter 35
January 2003
The train pulled out of Penn Station, and my eyes drifted to the window to watch the city fade away. My fingers toyed with my charm bracelet, specifically Leah’s charm. I’d doubted Leah’s claim when she first gave it to me, but after everything, I was glad to have it on my wrist.
Christmas break had been mostly calm, normal, almost too quiet, but I liked it. It had been fun and full of snowy enough days that not only could Edward spend a lot of time at my house, but Carlisle and Esme had visited, as well. There had been duels between Edward and me on the piano using Christmas carols, snuggles in front of his fireplace, and a tall, lean form pulling himself through my window every night.

Thursday, July 17, 2014 | By: Drotuno

Masen Manor Chapter 34 & Pics

Chapter 34
September 2002
My feet touched the fluffy rug in the bathroom, but my legs were still shaky. I couldn’t keep my eyes off Edward. He snatched up two towels, quickly wrapping one around his waist, only to step to me and secure the other one around me. With a soft kiss, he set me atop the vanity.
“I’m gonna run you a bath, okay?” he asked, looking slightly contrite, but sweetly determined all at the same time. When I nodded, he kissed me again, only to turn to the tub.
Steam rose up, fogging the mirror as Edward busied himself with bubbles, and then he left the room for a moment, but I couldn’t help but smile when I heard the stereo come on from the living room, especially when the first song was the one that I’d played so long ago on the piano in one of our lessons. I’d figured out I was completely in love with Edward, and it was a song about being drawn to someone with the inability to stop it.

Masen Manor Chapter 33 & Pics

Chapter 33
September 2002
“Happy birthday, Bella.”
I could barely see her through my tears, but I could feel her arms around me. She felt different. She felt…like Edward. For a brief second or two, I was jealous, but I let it go. After hearing all about Alice’s struggles, I knew I wasn’t ready for that, but still… She could be with her mate without worries, she was indestructible, and she was…squeezing too hard.
“Alice,” I wheezed.
“Oh, fuck,” she hissed, letting me go almost too quickly, and I stumbled back, only to be caught in my favorite set of arms.
“You okay?” Edward asked, worry lacing his velvet voice.
“No, no…I’m okay,” I told him, turning back to Alice, who looked heartbroken. “Alice, really, I’m fine.”

Friday, July 11, 2014 | By: Drotuno

Masen Manor Chapter 32 & Pics

Chapter 32
August 2002
Esme and I found a couple of empty seats toward the middle of the train. Taking my seat, I had to smile at the familiarity that washed over me. It had been with Esme that I’d ridden to Masen Manor the first time. I’d been scared, nervous, and completely silent then. A lot had happened in a year.
Opening my backpack as Esme checked in with Carlisle on her cell phone, I couldn’t help but smile. Right next to the now completely full blue journal Edward and I had written in was a brand new one. I pulled out the pristine red notebook, fighting a laugh and my blush when I saw that Edward had already started it.
Monday, July 7, 2014 | By: Drotuno

Masen Manor Chapter 31 & Pics

Chapter 31
July 2002
“Edward, sweetie,” Chelsea called from the upstairs landing. “I think you’ll find what you need in the garage.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I said with a nod, turning to Carlisle, who was staring at the sixth step with the calculating eye of a surgeon.
“It’s not a heart transplant,” I chortled, shaking my head at his glare before I stepped into the garage.
Along the back wall was a long counter. On top was what looked like Charlie’s old toolbox. I lifted the lid, nodding that he had everything in there that I thought we’d need, including a small pry-bar.

Friday, July 4, 2014 | By: Drotuno

Masen Manor Chapter 30 & Pics

Chapter 30
June 2002
“Love…you do exactly as Alice tells you, and nothing else, no matter what you hear. Bulletproof, remember? It’s almost over…”
I stared up at him for a second, watching as my sweet, cuddly Edward who had been teasing me and kissing me suddenly lost every bit of his humanity. He was rigid and angry and black-eyed. His movements went from graceful and smooth, to calculating and alien. He was all immortal, every inch the vampire he truly was, and he wasn’t hiding any of it from me. Nothing could stop him; I could see it in the clench of his jaw, the flare of his nostrils, and even in the vein that popped out on his forehead. He was a killing machine, and Phil had no idea what was coming.
I nodded at him at the same time I put his phone to my ear. “Alice?”
Alice’s voice was sharp, commanding. “Bella, you’re gonna run to the hallway to the electrical box and shut off the power. Next, you’re gonna kill the alarm. When you’re done, you go straight to your mom’s room and pull down the attic ladder. Go!”

Monday, June 30, 2014 | By: Drotuno

Masen Manor Chapter 29 & Pics

Chapter 29
June 2002
I stared unseeingly at the wall across from my bed. It was a dull off-white color, sterile, just like everything else surrounding me. I could hear the mutterings of other patients in the hallways, the mumbled sound of the TV in the main room, and the squeak of the breakfast cart that was slowly making the rounds.
I rubbed my face, trying to get the dream out of my head. Smirking, I sighed deeply. Edward had to be inside the hospital somewhere, because my nightmares weren’t as extreme as I was expecting. In fact, only the first night in observation had been the worst, which made me assume Edward had returned, if only to give me calm.
Something about that, something about knowing that, gave me peace. Edward had explained to me once that I could have faith in our love, in the fact that we were mated, but it was more than just knowing he’d never cheat, that he’d always love me. It was the comfort of being able to sense when he was near, of feeling completely and utterly protected.
That last thought caused me to shudder, simply because I knew that had he been near when Phil and Alec had drugged me, there would’ve been nothing left of them. He would’ve annihilated them. And as much as I understood it, it would’ve been bad.

Friday, June 27, 2014 | By: Drotuno

Masen Manor Chapter 28 & Pics

Chapter 28
October 1997
“Isabella Marie, you’ll sit back down and eat your breakfast,” Mom huffed, rolling her eyes, but her smile gave away her amusement.
“But Dad—” I started with a mouthful of eggs.
“Charlie won’t leave you, silly girl. Just eat. He was on the phone in the library, anyway, so you have time,” Chelsea added with a laugh. “And chew, Bella!”
Grinning, I took another big bite…and another, practically shoveling my food into my mouth, regardless of my mother’s protestations. I washed it all down with orange juice, staring at my mother until she finally laughed and waved me away.
“Go grab a jacket, Bella,” she called after me as I flew upstairs and into my room.
After pulling on a Boston PD hoodie, I rolled my eyes at the sixth step that creaked under my sneaker. Dad kept promising he’d fix it, but he never got around to it. My mother was convinced that the board was simply loose.

Sunday, June 22, 2014 | By: Drotuno

Masen Manor Chapter 27 & Pics

Chapter 27
June 2002
My eyes drank in Edward as he paced back and forth in the living room of his house. He was tense, I could see that much. It sat on his shoulders heavily, and it was in every grip of his hair, every hissed word into the phone, and every sharp gaze he shot my way. Even the occasional glint off his skin from the sun shining into the room made him look dangerous – beautiful, but deadly all the same.
The month of May was over, but more importantly, my weekend was almost up. It was Saturday, and come Monday morning, I was needed at the downtown police station for questioning. Without Edward sneaking into my room at night, I knew my nightmares would’ve been at an all-time high. As it was, my daydreams were now a problem. More than once had he forced me to look at him, to see him, because I was letting my imagination run away with me.
“You can do this, you know,” Jacob murmured from the other side of the kitchen table. “Tell the detectives what you saw, I mean.”
I nodded, taking a deep breath and letting it out. “I know. I’m just… Something feels off.”

Thursday, June 19, 2014 | By: Drotuno

Masen Manor Chapter 26 & Pics

Chapter 26
May 2002
Glancing out toward the window, I smiled that Alice’s prediction had been spot-on. She’d said that it would rain the first few days we were back in Boston. Bella’s house was quiet. Chelsea was doing laundry down in the basement, along with her usual chores. Her mind was on several topics, a checklist of things to do. Renee was sipping coffee in the kitchen while reading the paper. She’d apparently told her daughter that she could sleep as late as she wished, and she was happy that there had been no nightmares.
Phil was already up and out of the house, though he’d drunk himself almost into a stupor the night before. His thoughts had been blurred with the alcohol, but he’d been almost frantic at the fact that not only was Bella willing to see the detectives working on the cold case, but that she’d looked him straight in the eye with no fear, no hesitation in order to stop him from using the nickname. He was truly an ass. He’d used the name just to spite her, knowing that her father had called her that. Through the fog of whiskey, his panic was palpable. He didn’t know what to do next, or who to call. Though, the Browns were the top of his list, and I now knew what he owed and why.
What I found most interesting was that even though he had no idea why, Phil had felt fear just by walking by Bella’s bedroom door. And he should feel fear…because that man’s days were numbered.

Sunday, June 15, 2014 | By: Drotuno

Masen Manor Chapter 25 & Pics

Chapter 25
April 2002
Frowning, I flipped through the small sketchbook that I’d dragged onto the plane. I’d drawn my Bella’s face more times since we’d taken off than I ever had in one sitting: Bella playing in her recital, her sweet tears of happiness at the first sight of me; the beautiful vision of her sleeping in peace next to me, her gloriously smooth bare shoulders; and finally, the vision of her in my bed while hugging a pillow.
It was that last one that killed me. It was the last sight of her I had. She’d watched me dress, gather my things, and barely let me leave. While it had been the single most sensational weekend of my entire existence, it had torn me to pieces to have to walk away from her. Again. It had taken several kisses, more tears than I could catch, and a plethora of promises to pry myself from her grasp. By the time I’d fallen into Jacob’s car, I’d wanted to vomit with the emotions coursing through me.

Sunday, June 8, 2014 | By: Drotuno

Masen Manor Chapter 24 & Pics

Chapter 24
April 2002
I stepped out of my bathroom fresher, cleaner, though feeling a touch guilty from how I’d basically manhandled Bella against my door. I glanced toward the door, shaking my head at her spilled sheet music and the journal that had been dropped to the rug in surprise.
The scent of Bella still called to me; it was everywhere around me, clinging to my skin, and I smiled at the sight of her petite frame sitting in the middle of my old bed, hugging a pillow.
Crawling up the bed to lie beside her, I sighed when her fingers instantly raked through my hair, pushing it off my forehead. “I’m sorry about before. I shouldn’t have…”
Her giggle was sweet, like a music box. “Do I look – how’d you put it? – mauled to you?”
Grinning, I nodded as I reached up to brush her hair from her face. “Deliciously so, but I—”
She cut me off with a kiss. “Hush, Edward. I wouldn’t change a thing. Didn’t you miss me?”

Thursday, June 5, 2014 | By: Drotuno

Masen Manor Chapter 23 & Pics

Chapter 23
April 2002
I gripped my hair to the point of pain, glaring at the door to my bedroom in Denali. Flashes of lips, tongues, and skin assaulted me from three different couples as I squeezed my eyes closed. It was sensory overload, because the lust I was feeling wasn’t my own. It was invasive and all-consuming, and it was a slap in the face that I was surrounded by three mated couples and my own mate was thousands of miles away.
They were all feeding on Jasper’s talent. He couldn’t control it. It was all new for him, and it only amplified his emotions…all over the house. It had caused Carmen and Eleazar and Kate and Garrett to tumble over the edge with him. It was even affecting Irina and Tanya separately, which was something I really, really didn’t want to witness.
When glimpses of women in situations I should never see infiltrated my mind, I finally caved, forgoing the door and launching myself out the window. I ran hard, fast, and as far as my legs could carry me. Once I was miles away and in the mountains, I finally slowed to a walk, taking a deep breath and letting it out. No minds. None. At least for the moment.

Sunday, June 1, 2014 | By: Drotuno

Masen Manor Chapter 22 & Pics

Chapter 22
March 2002
“Oh my God…Alice!”
As I stared up at her, a part of me was elated. The other part was wary. At this point, she was stronger than all of us. I could smell the venom that was blended with her own blood, but it was the low, feral growl that caught my attention.
Her mind was something I’d never encountered before in all my long years. It was a confusing mix of thoughts, blurry memories, and fast visions. Some were so rapid that I couldn’t make head or tails of them.
But above all of that, I could smell my brother on her. They were completely and totally whole and mated. I could well imagine he’d been unable to resist her.
“Alice,” I finally spoke cautiously. “You’ve got to focus.”
“Where is she?” she snarled, glaring at me with pure, unadulterated hate.

Monday, May 26, 2014 | By: Drotuno

Masen Manor Chapter 21 & Pics

Chapter 21
March 2002
Rain pelted my clothes, the raindrops feeling like dull needles against my skin as I ran, but I pushed forward. Voices of anger and panic boomed in my head, calling out silent instructions, warnings, and advice. Being the fastest, I had the advantage, but I was beginning to think Carlisle was correct in his theory that Victoria had some sort of talent. She could evade like nothing I’d ever seen before.
A blue-gray streak of lightning lit the sky and with it, the flaming red hair of the woman I was chasing. Her thoughts were simple, easy. She thought only about the next step and the next, but she made decisions so quickly, I’d lose a step or two to keep up with her. Her laugh was crazed and evil. I could just barely catch the scent of Alice on her, but it was wearing thin, especially with the rain washing it away.
I’m on your left…your left! Jasper thought to me. Carlisle’s circling around in front. But Edward, we gotta catch her soon. Jake needs a break…food. Soon, he won’t be any good to us.
I growled my answer. I knew he was right. Where Jasper, Carlisle, and I would never tire, Jacob was a different story. He could go longer than humans without food or sleep, but not days. And we were pushing almost thirty-six hours of continuous hunting, which included finding, fighting, and killing James.

Thursday, May 22, 2014 | By: Drotuno

Masen Manor Chapter 20 & Pics

Chapter 20
March 2002
The scent of rain weighed heavily in the air. The storm that was approaching would be harsh and long-lasting. The wind wasn’t too bad, but it stirred up scents from all around us.
Jasper and I skirted along the edge of the woods, keeping our senses completely open. He was a ball of nervous energy, and his thoughts were no better. If anyone understood, it was me. I’d felt the same way when Bella had gone home for Christmas break. I hadn’t been sure what she’d walk into concerning her parents, so I’d been a wreck trying to keep her safe, to keep my eyes on her almost the whole time.
All of this was new to Jasper, though. Now that he’d allowed himself to get close to Alice, there was no going back, and her humanity, while he cherished it, was a nightmare to him. Anything could happen – accidents, car wreck, meteor shower. I glanced over at him over the last one, but hell, the girls could trip and fall down the many staircases at Masen, and there wouldn’t be much we could do about it unless we were glued to their sides at all times.
Thunder rolled overhead, and I stopped us just outside of Hunter’s Lake. I could smell the lake water off to our right, the new spring leaves in the trees, and the foul scent of humans. It met my nose all at once. I grimaced at the smell of grease from the diner, gasoline from the station on the corner, and the sweet aroma of blood in the air. My throat burned, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. I’d been ignoring it for decades. From Jasper’s thoughts, the blood was barely a blip on the radar; he really just wanted to find the first trace of Alice.
The main strip of town was our goal. The students from school kept the small businesses in the black. Hunter’s Lake was rare with its lack of chain restaurants, bookstores, and clothes shops. Everything was privately owned and operated.
“Where would she go?” Jasper asked aloud, his eyes sharp on every face he could see.
I shook my head. “Bella says the bookstore is their favorite place, but Alice also likes the tea shop on the end.”
“We can’t get there,” he grumbled, eying the sunlight that seemed to sporadically shine across the street.
“No, we can wait.” I gazed around us, trying to find a better location. “There. C’mon.”
We moved cautiously but quickly, trying to stay silent. There was a group of kids making their way up the sidewalk toward the diner. Their thoughts were erratic, not one of them focused on Alice, but they were worried about the coming rain and staying dry.
Leaning back against the closest tree, I let my ability to read minds stretch out as far as it could. I flinched at the noise, the chaos that hit me, from the inane to the littlest detail. It was everything from school-boy crushes to orders being filled at the diner. Shaking my head, I gripped my hair. All I wanted was to find Alice, if only for Jasper’s peace of mind.
I glared at the sky, begging for the clouds to finally cover the sun completely; I wanted us to be able to move through the town freely, but it was going to take a few more minutes, despite the fat drops that were starting to fall in the distance.
Finally…I can teach that psycho bitch a lesson…
My head whipped around, my growl breaking the silence around us. Jasper straightened up, completely alert.
I shook my head, stealthily working my way through the trees. “I saw Alice through Jessica Stanley’s mind,” I whispered in reply. “We’re on the wrong side of town. Move!” I ordered, running as quickly as I could to get to the opposite side of Main Street. However, we had to stay to the trees, and it was the longer way.
The wind kicked up as the rain started to come down. It would be safe for us to step out into public, but just as I rounded the U-shaped bend of town, a scent caught my nose.
“Aw, hell no!” Jasper growled, glaring up at me.
I asked the question he wasn’t able. “Follow that immortal scent? Or stick with Alice?”
He shook his head, his breathing heavy, but he finally came to some sort of decision, because he took off on the trail of the vampire we’d been tracking since Jacob had caught his scent just outside my property’s gate. I could understand his reasoning. To chase the vampire who had been hunting upstate New York would keep the bastard away from town…and more importantly, away from Alice.
Following Jasper’s lead, I pulled out my phone, dialing Carlisle.
“Oh, we have a problem, Carlisle,” I muttered low. “We caught that scent again in the woods outside Hunter’s Lake. But I need your help.”
“Talk to me, Edward. I’m already heading into town. One of the kids slipped and fell. Jacob called me, and I’ve got a sprained wrist to attend to.”
“Have you seen Alice?” I asked him.
“No, but Jacob drove the van back with most of the students. I’m with Brady. Jake told me to wait for the few who didn’t show up on time to go back to school.”
“Don’t tell me…”
“Yes, Alice was one of them. I thought she was staying inside the castle with Bella.”
“She was!” Jasper snarled, but it wasn’t out of anger. It was nothing but nerves.
“Okay, when I’m done here, I’ll take a look around town,” he vowed.
“Look for Stanley and Newton. I think they were planning something, and they probably took advantage of Jacob’s distraction with Brady. I only caught a brief glimpse of it before we crossed this scent,” I told him. When he said he would, I ended the call.
Jasper took lead, even though I was faster than he was. It was easier to plan and plot if he were making the calls silently to me. It helped that Jasper had a military mind – meticulous and deadly.
The scent grew stronger the farther north we went, but it wound around, zig-zagging all over the place. It was the same problem we’d had when trying to track it before. We’d learned of the missing man in Woodland, and the same scent saturated the last place he’d been seen. When we’d tried to track it, it went everywhere, and we’d finally given up when we ended up almost in Canada.
Leaving Jasper on the ground, I took to the trees, trying to get a bird’s-eye view of the forest around us. We’d been on the hunt now for a little over an hour. We were completely soaked with the rain that was coming down heavily.
Jasper scaled the tree next to mine, and we took a moment to assess where we were.
When my phone rang in my pocket, I answered it. “Carlisle...”
“Where are you?” he asked.
“About forty miles north of the school, but it feels like we’re winding back toward you. Why?”
“We have a…situation, son,” he hedged, and I knew him well enough to know to wait, rather than press him immediately for answers. “I found the trail you followed. The problem is, there’s two of them, Edward. Two separate scents. And the second one…crossed paths with Alice.”
I closed my eyes at the sound of misery that erupted out of Jasper. He lost complete control over his emotions. I felt it all – worry, anger, love, and fear. The latter was the most difficult to handle coming from him, because he was one of the calmest, most level-headed men I knew.
Jumping across to his tree, I caught him before he could take off. “Stop!” I growled, leveling him with a glare. “Stop, brother. We have to reassess.”
His face was tortured, but he nodded, keeping watch around us as I turned back to my conversation with Carlisle.
“We need…Jacob. We need you. Talk to me…”
“From what we could figure out, Newton and Stanley followed Alice. They were planning to do something to her. It was supposed to be a prank, but it ended up going badly. They cornered her on the high embankment of the lake. Somehow, she slipped down…”
Somehow,” I growled low, my lip curling in hatred. “Those two…I swear to God, Carlisle…”
“Believe me, I know. Esme’s already called not only their parents, but the police.” His voice stalled out for a moment. “Edward…I went down the embankment. I looked for her. I couldn’t smell her, but I thought maybe…she’d gotten hurt, crawled somewhere…” He sighed deeply. “That’s when I caught the scent. It’s another immortal, son. There are two, and it seems they’re working together. I’m trying to track the second one.”
“Where’s Bella?” I asked, unable to stop myself. She was Alice’s best friend, and I knew my girl was probably losing her mind.
“She’s with Esme. She’s perfectly safe.”
I sighed in relief and, shaking my head at him, gripped Jasper again before he could bolt from my sight. “Okay, I need Jacob. I need his help. Please! These two must be stopped, dammit.”
“He should be on his way to you. The second vampire is leading me west. I’ll keep you posted,” he stated and then hung up.
I stared at my phone, seeing I’d missed a call from Bella. I was just about to put it back into my pocket when it rang again. Smacking Jasper, I jumped to the forest floor at the same time I answered the call.
“I know, love.” I frowned at the small whimper that escaped her through the phone. “Just stay with Esme, and we’ll keep you posted.” I hung up the phone quickly, afraid that if I stayed on the phone with her longer, I’d either miss a scent or thought...or turn around and run back to the school and to Bella.
I turned around to see Jasper trying like hell to catch the scent again, but the rain wasn’t helping. Pushing my wet hair back, I listened intently, smiling when I caught thoughts in the distance. They were familiar, yet…not.
“James,” I growled, shaking my head, and I took off in the direction from which the mind came.
Jasper let me lead, though he noted mentally that we were heading back toward Hunter’s Lake. I smiled at the brief glimpse we both caught up ahead. It blurred through the shrubbery, taking to the trees. I followed up into the treetops, but Jasper stayed on the ground below.
The closer we got, the more I could see James’s plan. Carlisle was right; there was someone working with him. I saw a woman with flaming red hair, but I also caught the game he was playing. He was leading us on a wild goose chase…on purpose.
I used my speed to catch up to him, countering his thoughts, which gave me advantages for which he wasn’t prepared. He countered to my right, but I saw his plan, finally able to reach out and tackle him to the rain-soaked ground below. We fell heavily to the forest floor, shaking the trees around us. It would’ve sounded like thunder to human ears.
“James, stop!” I snarled, pinning him to the ground.
His laughter was slightly evil and maniacal. “Oh ho! Eddie-boy! I was wondering how long it would take, my old friend,” he said with a laugh.
I eyed the man that had been my closest friend as a human. We’d grown up together, attended the same church, the same parties...the same grammar school, even. He’d been handsome then, with blond hair and an easy smile, a bad boy that drove the girls crazy. His change into immortality made all of that into something deviant and nasty. He was a killer. He relished being a killer. He loved what he’d become.
Something else came through his change. Jealousy. He hadn’t been able to go to school with me. He’d never attended college. Instead, he’d wined and womanized almost the entire town and some surrounding ones. He’d wasted his life on drink and girls. He’d hated me once we grew up, and I never knew it.
“We’re not friends anymore, James,” I sighed, keeping him pinned to the ground. “Are we?”
“God, Ed…you’re such a pussy,” he snapped, rolling his red eyes and shoving me off him. We were on our feet in an instant, and I could hear Jasper circling us, keeping watch. “You were always so damn soft! No wonder your dad couldn’t stand the sight of you! He’d hate what you’ve done to his house!”
Grinning, I laughed. “I hope so.”
“All those humans… You could be feeding like kings, and you...what? Feed on animals?!” he scoffed, rolling his eyes again, his mind trying to wrap around the absurdity of it.
We circled one another, and I knew he was biding his time. Red hair flashed across his thoughts, along with the hope that she’d gotten away. Try as I might, I couldn’t see the wheres or hows of it all, so I focused back on James. I also couldn’t allow him to know my talent, but I could lead him with questions in order to get him to trip up.
“The immortal with you…you must leave this area, James. You can’t hunt here.”
“I wanted to see you, Eddie,” he chortled, shaking his head. “You can’t blame me for that.”
“Then why not just come to me? Why all these games? I can’t allow you near my home, James. It’ll never happen,” I warned him.
That seemed to anger him even more, and his thoughts filled with memories. I kept my face blank of expression as I saw how he’d woken up from his change alone, scared, and ignorant of what he’d become. He’d been confused and angry, even more than me. The enhancement of our senses had been enough to drive him insane. He didn’t understand any of it, and Maria had left him someplace dark, someplace unknown to him. I saw a cabin surrounded by trees and rocks.
Once he’d awakened, he’d taken off into the night, running as far and as fast as his new immortal legs could carry him. Through his mind, I watched things that made me sick, things that made me ashamed to know him. I saw uncontrollable thirst, deviant behavior, and finally, the face of another vampire, one with dark skin and long dreadlocks. The surge of knowledge, the power, the strength – it was all combined to give James an ego even larger than he’d had when he was human. Once he’d been able to think clearly, he’d come to look for me, but it had been a few years later and Masen Manor was empty.
“How’d you… Who changed you?” he asked, sneering at me as he tried to fight his memories in his mind.
“That bitch!” he snarled, but grinned at the same time.
“Yes, well… She was a busy woman,” I muttered wryly.
“Did you hit that? ’Cause she was…”
“No. She attacked me that same night, James. She bit me, but was destroyed before she could kill me.”
“Good. Devil woman,” he murmured, but he locked his scarlet eyes on me, a smirk gracing his lips. “So, the good doctor, huh?” he asked, but I didn’t answer him. He snorted, nodding a little. “Yeah, I figured that out quickly. While you were able to keep everything,” he said, waving a hand around him with a foul smile, “I lost it all. Ain’t that sweet? You got to keep it all. Hell, you barely lost anything, but I was hiding in the shadows like a rat, scavenging to keep from losing my mind…”
“We looked for you,” I told him, frowning at the jealousy that Jasper was feeling. It was twisted and thick, practically another limb. And from his mind, he’d fed it, nurtured it, turning what used to be a decent friendship into pure, vile hatred…of me.
It was then I saw it – his plan. He’d been close by, and he wanted to see Hunter’s Lake. However, he’d caught the scent of immortals in his old home town. He’d caught the flavor of Bella and Alice. He’d wanted them. He’d seen them as prey…and revenge. Two pretty human girls, both covered in an immortal scent – he’d been unable to resist. It had angered the woman with him, but she’d done as he’d commanded. Bella had never appeared back in town unprotected. Alice, however, had shown up today.
“You have to leave this area, James,” I warned him again, “and take your friend with you.”
“What’s the matter? Afraid for your little human snack?”
I sighed, shaking my head. “She’s not… James, she’s my mate. I can’t allow you anywhere near her.” I shrugged a shoulder. “If I have to kill you right here, then so be it, but you’ll never see her.”
“Mate!” James cackled, his head falling back. “Oh boy, Eddie the romantic… You always were scared of fucking. You wanted a wife, when you could’ve had all the pussy you could handle. You always turned them down, Ed, but me…I took care of that shit. Let me guess... You’re actually letting her stay human?!” When I didn’t answer him, he snorted in derision. He grinned again, leaning back against a tree trunk. “Ah, but that other one…her blood is sweet,” he sang, shaking his head back and forth. “Hard to resist such a call…like a siren.”
It was all Jasper could do to stay in the trees. He wanted to rip James to shreds in order to find Alice. My brow furrowed at what James was saying. Alice’s blood had called to him, sang for him. It made him mad with thirst, no matter how much he’d fed prior to seeing her.
“I couldn’t go anywhere near her, but I had to have her. The scent of her alone was enough to make me wanna drain the whole fucking town,” he said with laughter. “I’ll have her, though…anytime now…”
Shaking my head, I stepped closer. “I can’t let you do this, James. Your…partner, they’re being tracked as we speak. They’ll be stopped just the same as you are.”
James panicked for a moment. He wondered how many there were of us. He wanted to know how we could’ve tracked him and…Victoria at the same time. Finally catching her name in his thoughts was interesting. They weren’t mated, though he let her think they were. It was why he’d changed her. She’d been enamored with him, and he’d been lonely, so he’d done it out of curiosity and cruelty. Together, they’d destroyed the immortal with the dreadlocks simply for fun.
He made me sick. All the times I’d laughed at his ways when we were human suddenly weren’t all that funny. Where I’d thought him brazen and worldly, he really was a monster.
I inhaled deeply, smirking at the scent that put James on alert. He stiffened at the potency of Jacob’s smell. It was worse in the rain. It was heavy, thick, and downright frightening if you weren’t used to it. A fleeting thought through James’s mind told me that the scent of Jake had unnerved him the first time he’d caught it. That was why he’d stayed away, stayed just out of reach this whole time.
Jasper, however, could take no more.
“Where is she?!” he snarled, tackling James and taking down several trees at the same time.
“Long gone,” he grunted back as they wrestled to the ground.
Edward, where you want me? Jacob asked silently.
I shook my head, holding up a finger as I circled the two now wrestling on the forest floor. They were similar in some ways – both tall, both blond, and both very tenacious. The difference came when Jasper’s talent made its appearance. He countered James’s hatred with fear. He turned determination into self-doubt. He was also skilled in fighting our kind, deadly and precise. However...
“Jasper, he won’t tell you,” I finally admitted. “He’ll die before he does.”
That made James fret for a moment, wondering how I knew that. It gave Jasper the advantage, and the sound of a metallic-like ripping echoed through the woods. Jasper stood up, holding James’s arm in his hands. He panted, shaking from head to toe. He needed Alice back. The thought of her with a vampire was about to push him over the edge of his sanity. He radiated guilt and worry.
Jacob stepped heavily into the small clearing the others had just created with their fight. Paws thumped to the ground, squishing through the mud and dead leaves. James’s eyes widened as he held the place where his arm had once been.
“Keep that thing away from me!” he yelled, pushing himself back with his legs.
“Tell me where Victoria took Alice,” I ordered, coming to stand next to Jacob. “Maybe we’ll let you live,” I lied smoothly.
“I don’t know!” he screamed, wincing when Jacob pounced and landed on his legs. I heard one snap under the pressure.
“He’s lying!” Jasper snarled.
“I know,” I murmured, tilting my head at James. “Where’s that cabin you keep thinking of?”
I didn’t have a choice but to reveal my talent. I needed answers, and soon. His reaction was unexpected, but he launched himself at me, and even without one appendage, he pushed me hard. A large pine creaked as he pressed me into it.
“Tell me where she is!” I growled, using every bit of strength I had to push at James as his teeth snapped near my throat.
“No!” he hissed back, his grimace turning into a wicked grin as he shoved off of me and took a step or two back. “She’s mine. Though, I doubt Victoria will be able to resist her much longer.”
There was a rush of voices in my mind as James continued to grin my way. Jasper and Jake were begging silently for instructions and information, but James was calm. He was never going to tell me where Victoria would’ve taken Alice, though he didn’t completely trust the redhead in his thoughts.
It was that thought that made me sag in defeat. It didn’t matter that James was the key to finding Alice; he would never tell us. I pushed away from the now-splintered pine, shaking my head at Jasper. I heard James shift a little in place, heard his plan to attack.
However, Jacob moved in an instant. He was a flash of red fur, white teeth, and a shaking head. His large mouth caught James at just the perfect point: his head. The sound of immortal bone and flesh crushing in his bite was unnerving.
Jacob’s snarl was menacing as he shook his head back and forth.
“Jake, no!” I cried out, hoping to stop him before he ended things, but I flinched when the sound of James’s cry was suddenly cut off.
I locked gazes with Jasper for a moment, but then looked to Jacob, who sat down on his haunches and glared at the remains of the immortal on the forest floor.
He looked disgusted, but his thoughts were apologetic. Sorry, Edward, but he was aiming for your head.
Gripping my hair, I nodded wearily. “I know. Thank you.” I looked down at James, memories of our friendship now tainted and twisted.
“I could’ve gotten the information out of him!” Jasper snarled, shoving at Jacob.
Without removing my eyes from James, I said, “He wasn’t going to tell us.” I sighed. “I’m not really sure he trusts the woman with him.”
With a frustrated and heartbreaking roar, Jasper kicked James’s torso sending it a few feet away.
“I’m glad you’re on our side, Jake,” I murmured, smirking when he snorted, shook himself all over, and held a giant paw out to me. I knocked it away with a grin, but it faded quickly as I looked over to Jasper. “We need to burn what remains,” I stated sadly, but left him to do it. I pulled out my phone, hoping the rain hadn’t ruined it.
“Edward,” Carlisle answered immediately.
“It was James,” I stated with a weary sigh. “He is…no more.”
“That’s most unfortunate,” he countered, and I could hear him running. “I’ve tracked this scent all over the west. It’s a woman.”
“Her name’s Victoria. She was traveling with James. Carlisle, Alice was James’s singer,” I told him. “They planned this; they’d been waiting for the right time.”
“I’d say you’re right. I’ve lost Alice’s scent. This vampire is fast – talented, I think. She evades like nothing I’ve ever seen. And at one point, I lost her. I think she hid the girl somewhere.”
“We’ll come to you,” I stated, taking off into the woods, and Jasper and Jacob followed, leaving the purple smoke billowing behind us. “She can’t evade all of us.”
Esme’s office was chaos. There was no other way to describe it. There was arguing and yelling, police radios constantly squawking, and people in and out of the room. I sat off in the corner as angry, nervous, tense voices reached loud volumes.
Esme had kept me with her, though hardly anyone paid me much attention. My heart, my mind, they were both on Alice and Edward. While my Edward continuously reassured me that he was “human proof,” the thought of him hunting some angry vampire made me nervous. Immortal was a terrible description of what they were. They simply lived forever, never growing old, never getting sick, but they could, in fact, be killed.
My fingers sought out the crystal heart on my charm bracelet as I sent silent prayers to whoever would listen. I needed my own vampire back in one beautiful piece, but I also needed him to find my best friend. It was hard to reconcile in my head. I loved them both.
“I said sit down!” Esme stated forcefully from behind her large desk. Her golden glare darkened as she eyed Jessica and Mike. She turned to the man in uniform. “Sheriff Harland, they’re all yours,” she told him with barely contained disdain.
I gazed around the room, shaking my head. Mike’s mother had arrived, as had Jessica’s father. The latter came with his own team of people. However, they were all relegated to the waiting area. The sheriff had already started the search in Hunter’s Lake, along with a few of the town’s volunteers, men who knew the woods.
They’d found where Alice had fallen down the embankment of the lake. All that was left behind were the scrapes where she’d slipped down the muddy side and a receipt from the bookstore where Alice had ordered a book…on tarot cards and their meanings. I closed my eyes at that. She could’ve asked someone to do it for her. She could’ve said something, but instead, she left the castle after Jasper and I had begged her not to. I couldn’t decide if I was more hurt or angry at her, but I simply wanted the chance to yell at her.
“Tell me again, Miss Stanley… What happened in town?” Sheriff Harland asked. His voice, while calm, was filled with impatience.
“It was just a joke!” Jessica whined, rolling her eyes. “It’s not my fault that psycho lost her shit…”
I huffed, glaring at her.
“What? You got something to say, freak?” Jessica asked, smirking my way. “Oh, right…you can’t.”
The attention turned to me and made me shake with the intense stares.
“Isabella can’t speak,” Esme gently told the sheriff.
His eyes raked down to my scar, and his eyes softened a bit. He gave me a small, wavering smile and a single nod. “Can you write?”
I nodded, taking the paper that Esme was handing me. I quickly wrote all the threats, warnings, and mishaps that had occurred with Mike and Jessica and then handed it over.
When Esme read it, she told the officer that it was true, that she’d seen some of those things. The sheriff read the short paragraph, frowning down at Jessica and Mike. He handed the paper over to Jessica’s father. Once Jessica saw what I’d written, she exploded.
“You little fucking liar!” she snapped, starting to stand up, but the sheriff stepped in her way.
“It would be in your best interest to sit down,” he urged with menace in his voice. “Right now, you’re a suspect in a missing person case, not to mention you’re most likely looking at assault charges. I don’t think you want to add to that list. You are a legal adult, and I will treat you as such. Am I making myself perfectly clear, Miss Stanley?” When she nodded, he smiled. “Good. I’m going to ask you to stay around for a bit.”
“It won’t be inside my school,” Esme stated firmly, holding up her hand when voices rose again. “No, you’re done here. I want you out of this castle within the hour. I’ve made arrangements for all of you at the lodge in Hunter’s Lake. I’ve also taken the liberty to have the cleaning staff pack your things for you. They should be waiting by the front door.”
Sheriff Harland’s mouth twitched with a smile that he quickly hid away when he turned back to the two in question. “Good. That means I’ll know where to find you when I have more questions.”
Mrs. Newton and Mr. Stanley looked completely disgusted, defeated, and furious, and it seemed they didn’t know exactly which direction to aim all of that. They tried to plead their case to Esme, who wouldn’t have it. They started yelling at their children, who finally looked humbled. Mike and Jessica were speechless, with bowed heads, red faces, and lost expressions. For a split second, I saw remorse. Though I doubted it would last long. Talk of still getting them into Yale, despite the “wretched Cullen woman,” started as the two stood up from their chairs. Rose had been right; the two would go on with their lives, doing everything that was expected of them.
The radio crackled on the sheriff’s shoulder as Mike, Jessica, and their parents were led from the room, and he stepped out behind them to answer it. I heard the words “tire tracks” and “no witnesses.” The memory of my own past came back at me like a speeding train. My breathing picked up, something that Esme heard immediately.
“Bella, sweetheart…look at me,” she whispered once everyone was out of earshot, her cool hands cupping my face. She wasn’t Edward, but she was close enough. “You’re okay. Everyone’s doing their best. You’re safe.”
I shook my head. “But Alice…Jasper… Oh, God…Edward.
“Shh,” she soothed softly, kissing my fingers. “My boys…they’re strong and fast and smart. Even Jacob. They can handle themselves just fine. Don’t you worry about them. And I know Carlisle is doing his best to track Alice. Understand?”
Meeting her gaze, I nodded at her. “I’m scared.”
“Me, too, Bella. You and Alice have become very important to me, so I’m scared, too,” she concurred. “But I trust my family, and it’s time you learned to do the same. I’m pretty sure you’re not going anywhere.” She smirked, winking my way, which made me smile a little. “I think Edward’s kind of attached to you, so you can have faith that nothing would keep him from coming back to you. Or doing his absolute best to find Alice…for you and his brother. Okay?”
“Okay,” I whispered.
“Okay,” she sighed in relief. “Now, I need to help with appearances, Bella. I have to go into town with the sheriff to help with the search. The real hunt is happening miles from here, but they can’t know that. Now, I need you to do something for me.”
“I know. Stay inside the castle. Edward already said—”
She chuckled, kissing my forehead. “Yes, there’s that. But I need you to let me know when Alice’s family gets here. Can you call me?”
“Yes,” I said with a nod.
“Good. You and Rosalie can handle this office while I’m out with the search party.” She glanced up to see Rose standing there, ashen-faced and nervous. “And if it gets to be too much, I want you to go to my living quarters and stay there. Promise me.”
“Promise,” I vowed to her.
“Mrs. C, the staff has packed up everything out of Mike’s and Jessica’s rooms. It’s all in the foyer,” Rose stated. Her shaking hands didn’t go unnoticed; neither did the looming, worried presence of Emmett behind her.
“Thank you, Rose,” she said, standing up from her desk chair. “Please stay here and keep a watch out for Alice’s family. They’re on a plane as we speak.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Rose whispered.
“I wanna help, Mrs. C,” Emmett volunteered. “I’m good in the woods. Been huntin’ a few times…”
“No, Emmett,” she said softly, giving Rose a glance. “I think you’d be most effective here. Plus, I need you to make sure everyone stays in their dorms, outside of you three, including the staff. They’ve been instructed to remain inside the castle. I’m trusting you with this, son.”
He nodded, stepping out of her way and smiling when she patted his large shoulder. Once she was gone, he sat down in her desk chair.
“Oh, damn, Bella… What the hell happened?” he asked, and Rose walked to me when tears welled up in my eyes.
I shook my head, sitting down on Esme’s sofa. “Mike and Jessica…played a prank on Alice. Now, no one can find her.”
It was all I could say and the easiest explanation I could give them without revealing the truth. I couldn’t tell them that the missing people on the news were victims of a vampire. I couldn’t tell them that we had just discovered he wasn’t working alone. And I damn sure couldn’t tell them that it was quite possible we’d never see Alice again. I’d seen the fear in Esme’s face. She may have had faith in “her boys,” but she was terrified of what could’ve happened to Alice. The possibilities were only so few – Alice could simply be lost in the woods, something had taken her, or…she was never coming back.
That last thought had me on my feet pacing. I walked restlessly around the room as Emmett offered Rose what comfort he could. My eyes scanned Esme’s bookshelf, not really seeing titles, but I drank in the few pictures she had framed – her and Carlisle, Carlisle and Edward, and Jasper, Jacob, and Edward. They were obviously placed on the shelves for appearances’ sake, and they seemed to be recent, but the smiles, the love, the playfulness shown in them were all genuine. Edward was beautiful as he laughed with his brothers. Arms were slung casually around broad shoulders as they leaned into one another, and I found myself smirking at them, wondering just what was so damn funny. I made a note to myself to ask Edward, and I hoped I got the chance.
My nerves skyrocketed at that, and I ran from Esme’s office, slamming open her apartment door, just barely making it to the bathroom. I lost everything I’d eaten, a harsh, angry sob escaping me. I just wanted it all to go away. I wanted them all back inside the castle. I wanted to punch Jessica and Mike repeatedly for starting it all. I wanted to throttle Alice for going into town without telling me.
Warm hands gathered my hair up, and Rose knelt beside me, offering me a warm, wet cloth. “Take it easy, Bella,” she soothed.
“They need to find her,” I barely said aloud.
“I know. They’re trying.”
She lifted my face, gently cleaning me, and I saw that her pretty blue eyes were red-rimmed. She, like me, knew the dark possibility of the situation. We’d been the only ones sickened by the missing people of upstate New York. Our classmates…not so much. It was barely a blip on their radar. Their innocence and blissful ignorance allowed them to turn a blind eye to the harsh realities around us. But Rose and I were different. We knew ugly.
Once I was cleaned up, she helped me stand on shaky legs. She sat me down on Esme’s sofa, getting a drink from the kitchen.
“I know this is…rough on you. Probably more than me. You wanna just chill in here for a bit? I can let you know when I hear something.” Her voice was rough, but sincere. “I’m sure Mrs. C won’t mind.”
“No, she won’t mind,” I mumbled, sitting back against the cushions.
“You could sleep if you want. I have a feeling this’ll go all night; it’s already getting dark,” she sighed deeply, walking to the door.
We locked eyes at that fact and nodded to each other. She closed the door behind her on her way out, and I pulled out my phone, dialing Edward. Tears started anew when it went straight to his voice mail.
I didn’t leave a message. I also didn’t let go of my phone.
My eyes snapped open at the sound of loud, angry voices just outside the door. A glance at the clock made me groan; it was almost one in the morning. Rubbing my face, I stood up, my legs not exactly steady, but not as shaky as before. I still had a grip on my phone, which had stayed completely silent.
I opened the door to see Esme face to face with a large, sweaty man. Standing with him was a rather mousy-looking woman, a dark-haired girl around thirteen, and an elderly lady in a wheelchair. One look at the latter, and I knew Alice’s family had arrived. Grandma Brandon looked just like her granddaughter. Bright blue-green eyes, short dark hair with gray mixed in, and I could imagine that, had she been standing, she wouldn’t have been much taller.
“How can you lose a kid?!” the large man snapped, rolling his eyes. “My kid, especially!”
“Mr. Brandon, I can assure you, we’re doing everything we can to find her. The sheriff seems to think she got lost in the woods trying to find a way up from the lake. The location where she fell is very slippery and very high. However, the woods around it are dense, dark. It’s easy to get turned around,” Esme explained as calmly as she could. “They’ve brought in a helicopter, and some men have gone in on horseback. We all want to find Alice.”
“I want those two idiots punished,” he sneered, pointing behind him.
“That would be up to the sheriff, sir, but I completely agree with you,” Esme replied.
“You’d think she’d have seen it coming,” the younger girl muttered, flinching when her parents rounded on her. “What? They know!”
My eyebrows flew up at Alice’s sister, Cynthia, who looked a lot like Alice, only with darker eyes. Mr. and Mrs. Brandon looked mortified at that declaration, but Alice’s grandmother seemed proud, and I wondered just how much she knew.
Esme caught sight of me and smiled. “Ah, Bella…come. Meet Alice’s family.”
They all glared my way as I walked closer. Alice’s dad made me uneasy as he loomed tall in the hallway. Esme placed a soothing hand on my shoulder as the whole family examined me from head to toe, and as always, they found my scar across my neck.
“This is Bella Swan, Alice’s roommate and good friend,” she introduced me. “Bella, this is Mr. and Mrs. Brandon, their daughter, Cynthia, and Alice’s grandmother.”
“You can call me Grandma Mary,” the elderly woman said sweetly, moving her wheelchair closer. She held out her hand to me, and I shook it. “I’ve heard all about you, honey. You’re a good friend to my Mary Alice.”
I smiled, liking the old woman instantly.
“It’s nice to meet you, Bella,” Mrs. Brandon said, but worry was etched all over her face when she turned to Esme. “Please, Mrs. Cullen, can we get an update from the sheriff?”
“Yes, of course,” Esme agreed with a nod. “Would you all like to come?”
“No, no,” Grandma Mary hummed, shaking her head. “I’ll stay here. You can let me know what you find out. An old woman in a wheelchair will just slow everyone down.” Her voice wavered on that statement, but Esme smiled a little.
“Well, then… Bella, why don’t you take her to my living quarters. Perhaps you can get Mrs. Brandon something to drink. It’s late, so she can take my guest room.”
I nodded and smiled, gesturing to the hallway.
Before I closed the door, Esme stopped me, whispering, “I heard from Carlisle, sweetheart. He and the boys have…taken care of one threat. They’re tracking the other now. Edward’s phone…it didn’t make it – something about mud and water and a tree. He’s pretty upset that he can’t call you, but he passed on a message through Carlisle.”
My eyes widened, waving her on, which made her grin.
“He said to tell you he loves you, he’s doing his best, and that he won’t be back until he’s caught the other one…or found Alice, but that he will come back to you as soon as he can.” She tilted my head up with her fingers underneath my chin. “He wanted me to make sure I told you those things, but he’s fine, Bella.”
“Thank you,” I mouthed to her, and she smiled, tapping my chin and nodding.
“Show her to my spare room, okay? She’s welcome to rest all she needs,” she instructed just loud enough that Grandma Mary heard her. When I nodded, she gave my shoulder a squeeze. “And I would like you to get more rest. Rose told me what happened earlier. You can take my bedroom if you’d like.”
“No, I’d…” I started nervously, toying with my bracelet, specifically the heart. I didn’t want to offend her, but I wasn’t sure how much sleep I’d get, and I didn’t think I could bear to step into my dorm room, knowing Alice was out there in the rainstorm, possibly hurt or worse. “I want… I’d rather…”
Esme lowered to look me in the eye. “So…the east wing, then?” she asked, smirking when I nodded fervently. “Sounds like the safest place for you, but make sure you eat, and I’ll come find you when I hear something.”
She turned around, guiding the rest of Alice’s family away, and I stepped inside her apartment. Grandma Mary was waiting patiently for me, her eyes watery and her emotions now showing.
“Now, I know you don’t talk…at least to people you don’t know. Alice explained that much to me,” she started, smiling when I shook my head.
She rolled closer to me, taking my hand. Her fingers were crooked, misshapen from what looked to be arthritis, but they trailed gently along the charms on my bracelet. Her eyes closed as she made another pass over each charm, her brow furrowing once or twice. And I suddenly realized that Alice wasn’t the only one in the Brandon family who had an extra sense.
“That’s right. She got her gift of sight from me, though our gifts are not similar. They differ slightly. My Alice can’t see the past, but I can,” Grandma Mary murmured, her eyes opening to meet mine. She glanced down at my bracelet. “You’ve seen…too much, my young friend. Darkness and death and blood at such a young age. You couldn’t have been more than Cindy’s age…”
Frowning, I shook my head. “Thirteen,” I whispered in shock.
“Hmm, I see that.” She fondled the heart, her eyes closing. “But you’ve found…salvation, I see. Hope, too.” Her eyes opened, tears welling up in eyes that had probably seen so much in her long life. “And love. Endless love, I see.”
“What else do you see?” I asked softly, my heart aching to see Edward.
Grandma Mary’s eyes closed again, the tears slipping down her wrinkled cheeks. When they opened again, she sighed wearily and smiled sadly. “I see…what look to be angels,” she said, looking toward the window. “They have our Alice now.”
With that said, my world swirled into blackness, colors blending with the stars behind my eyes, and I knew no more.