Sunday, September 11, 2016 | By: Drotuno

Six - Chapter 10 & Pics

Six – Chapter 10
BELLA
Montana
“What is this place?” Edward asked as we stepped through the window I’d opened.
I looked around, feeling some semblance of peace settle over me. I wasn’t completely relaxed, but I knew that, at least for now, we were safe. “Dad used to take me camping out here when I was young. He loved to fish and camp, and I’d bring a book or two and read while he fished in the river that’s just to the north. Other than jumping in a few times in order to rest without having to look over my shoulder, I haven’t been back since…since he died.”
Edward nodded without saying anything, and we both looked up at the reunions taking place around us.
Carlisle had Esme in his arms, just holding her close. Alice and Jasper were having a whispered conversation over on the other side of the cabin. Even Emmett was wrapped protectively around Rose, who was currently in her human skin.



The cabin wasn’t very big. Two double beds were set end to end on the far wall. The small kitchen area included a counter and sink, although there was no running water. A kerosene camping stove sat on one end of the counter and a few canned goods were stored on a shelf above it, along with a few pots and pans hanging on nails along the wall. Between the kitchen and beds were two old rocking chairs, surprisingly comfortable, given the lack of cushions and fabric covering the wood. The place was dusty but clean. I made sure to keep it in as good a condition as I could because I had such fond memories of the place.
“I…I think we’ll be okay here for a day or two at most,” I said when the conversations around the room died down. “Like I said, it’s still in my dad’s name, so VI knows about it – I came here shortly after escaping, and a couple of them showed up here a few days later. I saw them through the window and jumped out before they saw me.”
Edward reached over and took my hand, squeezing it gently.
“Okay,” Carlisle said, his voice solemn. “Then let’s figure out where we’re going next.” He urged Esme over to one of the chairs and smiled gently. “Everyone find a seat and relax. We’re safe for the moment.”
Jasper guided Alice to one of the beds, and the two of them sat together, holding hands. Edward raised an eyebrow at me, tilting his head toward the other bed, and I nodded, allowing him to lead me in that direction. When I looked back, Rose had taken the form of a beautiful cat – bluish-gray and white with a really fluffy tail – and she was sitting on the kitchen counter staring up at Emmett, who was leaning back against the counter beside her, his massive body dwarfing hers. He was looking down at her with a tender smile that nearly brought tears to my eyes, and I turned away, feeling like I was intruding.
“Before I start, does anyone have any suggestions?” Carlisle asked.
“I say we get out of the country,” Esme said. “Get as far away from them as possible.”
Carlisle nodded slowly. “That’s certainly an option.”
“As much as I want to be halfway around the world from them,” Jasper said, “we can’t run forever.”
“Why not?” Edward shot back. “At least we’d be safe.”
“No, Jasper’s right.”
Everyone turned to look at me, and Edward frowned.
I continued, “I was on the run for a year, and it was awful. Constantly looking over my shoulder, never feeling safe.”
“So…what?” Edward growled softly. “We just give up? Let them find us? Because I’ve seen their minds, and trust me when I tell you…bringing us in alive isn’t a priority. It’s our blood, our brains they need, so…”
The dishes along the wall began to shake, and I squeezed his hand.
“No, of course not,” I said. “I don’t know, but I do know that being on the run all the time is…” I huffed a breath and shrugged, unsure how to explain what I was feeling.
“It’d be different this time,” Edward argued. “We have money and resources you didn’t. We’ll be together, not just one person against them all.”
“And now that VI knows I’m with you, you don’t think they’ll put all their resources into tracking you – us – down? All it takes is someone else like Alice, or luck when someone from VI randomly spots us wherever we settle down. And then what? We’re no better off then than we are now.” I sighed. “I’m so tired of running and hiding,” I said quietly. “I don’t know what the solution is, but if there is something other than that, I’m all for it.”
Carlisle had been nodding throughout my little speech, and when I finished, he said, “We need someplace safe to stay awhile, for a few weeks at least. Look around us. Between Edward’s mind reading and manipulation, Alice’s visions, Jasper’s speed and agility, and Emmett’s strength, not to mention Rose’s shape-changing and Bella’s…teleportation, we – the six of you – have an enormous amount of talent. Other than Edward learning to control his as much as possible, we’ve never truly practiced how to use your talents in defense or offense. Maybe it’s time we did that.”
“What are you thinking, Carlisle?” Esme asked, frowning a little.
“I think we should head to Alaska,” he said in answer.
Edward froze beside me, and he groaned so quietly that I might have been the only one to hear it.
Carlisle continued, “We can stay with Carmen and Eleazar, train with their family, and then…” He sighed. “I don’t want a war, but from what I saw today at the hospital, that may be what’s coming.”
I tuned out the rest of the discussion as I struggled not to have a panic attack. I knew in my head that Carlisle’s suggestion was a good one. But my heart was pounding with the fear I felt at the thought of another confrontation with the men from Volterra. Gripping Edward’s hand tighter, I tried not to scream. I can’t… I don’t know if I can face them again. Every time I see them, I’m scared it’ll be the time they grab me again.
“Shh, pretty girl,” Edward crooned softly. “Whatever happens, we’ll – I’ll – keep you safe. I swear it.”
I nodded, trying to even out my breathing. Even though I’d only known him about a week, I believed him.
“I’m sorry, Bella,” Carlisle said gently. “If there were any other way…”
“I know,” I told him, taking a shuddering breath. “And I know I’m safer with all of you than I am anywhere else right now. It’s just…scary.”
“Well, for now,” Esme said, “let’s just try to relax for a bit. If anyone’s hungry, I brought food – chips, pretzels, crackers, some of that…spray cheese Emmett likes.”
“Rose,” Carlisle said before anyone moved, “I’m sure we’re safe for now, but would you mind changing into something and keeping watch outside for a few hours? Just to make sure VI didn’t have someone close to the cabin in case Bella came back.”
Before our eyes, there was a slight shimmer in the air, and where the pretty cat once was, a gorgeous hawk was now in its place. Her feathers were white and dark-gray or black, her beak and large talons were black, and above her beak, what looked like nostrils were set in a swath of bright yellow. Emmett held out his arm, and the bird that was Rose hopped up, carefully settling in without hurting him. Without a word, he strolled to the door, opened it, and stepped out. Before the door shut behind him, we watched as Rose took flight, soaring up into the sky.
I let out a whoosh of air. “I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to that.”
Edward chuckled. “It is pretty amazing.” He looked over to where Esme was pulling food out of one of the bags she’d brought. “Are you hungry?”
I almost said no, but then my stomach growled at the thought of food. Giggling once, I said, “I guess so.”
He grinned and stood, holding out his hand. “Come on, Bella. Let’s get you something to eat so we can quiet the beast.”
~oOo~
After we’d all had something to eat, talk once again turned to the future – both immediate and distant. Even Edward got in on it, discussing strategies we could use to train and hone our talents, watching Alice’s mind as she envisioned different decisions and scenarios. I’d finally had enough. I simply couldn’t handle any more, and a thought crossed my mind that maybe I should jump somewhere to get away from it all.
“Don’t go, Bella, please,” Edward said suddenly, his lips against my ear. “I know this is overwhelming and scary. If you need a break, you could take Emmett some water and crackers.” He grinned. “He’s grumbling in his head about being hungry enough to eat a bear.”
For some reason, the idea of the super-strong, heavily muscled Emmett tackling a grizzly bear was hysterical to me, and I snorted out a laugh before I could smother it. “Thanks,” I said with a giggle. “I’ll do that.”
He smiled and squeezed my hand before I stood.
After grabbing a sleeve of crackers and a bottle of water, I stepped outside to see Emmett sitting on a fallen log my dad had placed there just for that purpose. He was leaning back against the side of the cabin, his eyes cast up at the sky as he watched Rose circling the sky above us.
“Edward said you were hungry,” I said quietly as I stepped up to him, offering the snack. “Mind if I sit?”
He looked over and smiled as he took the crackers and water. “Thanks, and sure. Have a seat.”
As he ate, I sat and took in the wildflowers surrounding the cabin. It was beautiful here. Small pink and white flowers were everywhere. If I looked behind us, I knew I’d see more flowers and then trees going up the mountain the cabin was nestled in front of. The cabin itself was rustic, straight boards rather than round logs. Ivy grew along one side, up and over the cabin to about halfway down the other side of the roof. Behind the cabin was a small building Dad had built to use as an outhouse since there was no running water or electricity. It was a miniature version of the cabin, minus the windows, so rather than detract from the view, it added to it.
“It’s so calm and peaceful here,” Emmett said softly a few minutes later. “I can see why you and your dad liked coming here.”
I nodded. “Yeah, it is.”
“So why are you out here, not in there with the others?” he asked, looking curiously at me.
Grimacing, I explained about the conversations everyone had fallen into. “I just wanted some peace and quiet for a bit. I spent a year with no one to talk to on a regular basis. Your family is a bit…overwhelming,” I finished with a laugh.
He cracked a smile. “They can be that,” he agreed. “Sometimes I need that too. Rose will change into a cat or whatever, and the two of us will go off and just…sit and people watch or whatever.”
I couldn’t help but smile. Emmett was such a dichotomy. He was a big guy with lots of muscles and handsome but boyish face. If you saw him on the street, you’d think he was loud and boisterous, maybe even to the point of annoyance. But in reality, he was quiet and introspective. I had a feeling there was a lot more to him than I could see on the surface.
In fact, the whole family was like that, including Edward. My heart thumped as I thought of how good-looking he was. There had been good-looking guys in high school and college, of course. But where those guys thought their looks meant they could get away with anything and they acted like it, Edward was different. The way he treated his family – little everyday things that he didn’t seem to think twice about – showed a lot about his character. And from the moment he saw me in the bodega in New York, he’d shown how much he cared about me. He was quick to comfort me, knowing I needed it almost before I knew it. The mind-reading was a blessing for that if nothing else, although I didn’t like how it gave him such horrible headaches. And I could tell he hated it when he lost control of his talent like he had at the apartment and again at the hospital. Maybe one good thing to come out of the upcoming trip to Alaska would be that Edward could learn to control it better. For his sake, I hoped so.
I let my mind drift then, to happier times, when my dad was still alive, my mom was clean and sober, and we were a family not unlike the Cullens in how we lived and loved.
~oOo~
Montana – Nine years ago
We pulled up beside the cabin, and my mom was already gushing about the flowers.
“Oh, it’s so pretty! Just like you described, Bella!”
I laughed. “Mom, you’ve seen the pictures.”
“I know, I know,” she said with a laugh. “But it isn’t the same as seeing it in person.”
“Aren’t you glad you came with us this time, Nee?” my dad asked, looking over and smiling at her.
She nodded and then leaned in and kissed him.
I pretended to gag and then opened my door. “I’ll be inside when you guys come up for air!”
I was twelve! I didn’t want to see my parents kissing! Gross…
Just as I made it up to the door of the cabin with my bag, their car doors opened and closed. My mom stepped up and unlocked the door with the key Dad must have given her.
“Give me the tour?” she asked, stepping aside to let me go in first.
Grinning, I said, “Okay. Well, here’s the kitchen.” We took a few more steps into the cabin, and I pointed at the rocking chairs. “And here is the living room. Oh, and here’s the bedroom.” I shrugged. “Tour complete.”
“It’s tiny but adorable.” Then she scrunched up her face. “I really have to use a bathroom outside?”
“Uh-huh,” I answered. “At least there’s an outhouse. Dad said otherwise we’d just have to go behind a tree…”
She laughed again. “Easy enough for him. Not so much for us, huh, baby girl?”
“What are my girls giggling about now?” my dad asked as he stepped into the cabin with the rest of the bags.
“Nothing,” my mom and I sang at the same time, making us both break out into a fit of giggles again.
Dad rolled his eyes, but he smiled as he moved over to us to set the bags down on the beds. “Mmhmm,” he said, shaking his head. “Welp, who wants to go fishing?”
~oOo~
Montana – Present day
I was pulled out of the memory when Emmett awkwardly patted my knee. He didn’t say anything as I wiped the tears that were silently falling down my cheeks.
Between us on the log, I watched a ladybug trying to crawl over a piece of the wood that was sticking out. It kept falling back and then turning over, only to try again. When Emmett reached down, I thought he was going to smash it or flick it away, but he surprised me instead.
“These little things are supposed to mean good luck,” he said, and with fingers more gentle than a man of his size and strength should have, he carefully picked the ladybug up between his thumb and forefinger, setting it up above where the bug had been trying to crawl. Just hours ago, those same hands had been around Felix’s throat, holding him up against the wall.
Definitely a dichotomy.
We watched as it made its way closer to the other side of the log and disappeared into a crevice in the wood.
“Wanna talk about whatever made those tears fall?” Emmett asked quietly.
“Remembering the first trip here to Montana that my mom made with us. It was a happy time.”
He nodded. “Rose and I – all of us, really – have those moments too, where we remember our families and friends, both good and bad. Anytime you need to cry, you go ahead and cry. None of us will think any less of you for it.”
“Thanks,” I murmured, turning when I heard the cabin door open.
Edward was the first out, and he made his way to my side, slipping a warm hand under my hair to cup the back of my neck. “You okay?”
I nodded. “Good memories.”
He smiled softly. “I saw.”
Rolling my eyes playfully, I gave an exaggerated sigh. “Of course you did,” I teased. Then I looked around. “Did something happen?”
He must have read the unasked question in my head, because he said, “No, everything’s fine. Alice thought we could all use some fun for a bit.”
“Oh?”
Alice smiled as Jasper helped her to move over nearer to us. “Yep.” She raised an eyebrow. “Wanna see something cool?”
“Suuure,” I said, elongating the word to show my hesitant curiosity.
All of a sudden, I felt a breeze, and then I realized Jasper wasn’t beside her anymore. I barely caught a glance of him – or what I assumed was him – as he raced around and around the cabin. Damn, he was fast…
“Whoa…” I breathed, much to Alice’s delight.
She giggled. “Yeah, he’s fast. He can climb, too.” She said Jasper’s name once, and he came skidding to a stop beside her, leaving a groove in the ground where he’d planted his feet. Smiling, she said, “Show Bella the rest.”
Edward offered me his hand. “C’mon, pretty girl. The view will be best out there.”
The group of us, including Alice with her hand on Emmett’s upper arm, moved about fifteen feet from the cabin.
Jasper jogged around to the side and then began to…climb the cabin’s wall. Not like I would have, by finding handholds and footholds, using the window ledge or notches in the wood, but just flat out used his hands like they were suction cups and scaled the side of the building before I could blink. He didn’t stop there. He crept across the roof and to the other side, where he reached down, seemed to anchor himself with his hands, and then turned his body so he was climbing down the wall feet first.
“It’s a lot better if I don’t have shoes on,” he said, meeting us when we all moved closer to the cabin.
“Pretty cool,” I said. I wondered if his hands were smooth or if there were really suction cups that you could feel on them.
“You can’t tell unless he changes them,” Edward said.
“Wanna feel?” Jasper asked, holding his hands out.
Tentatively, I reached out, and at first, they were smooth, just like Edward’s had been. Then without warning, something shifted under my touch and the skin suddenly felt…different. Not sticky, and not exactly a suction cup like I’d imagined. Just not quite right. Looking at them, I couldn’t really tell much of a difference, aside from a bit of a ridge or bump on the pads of his fingers.
“Cooool,” I repeated, intrigued.
Carlisle looked at his watch and then put his fingers to his lips and whistled loudly.
That must have been a signal that it was safe, because suddenly the hawk that was Rose landed beside Emmett, and between one breath and the next, Rose herself stood there, dressed in the same clothes she’d had on before.
“Oooh, I wondered,” I said. “Handy.”
She laughed. “The clothes? Yeah, definitely better than shifting back naked!”
“What about things in your pockets and stuff?”
“All still there.”
I wanted badly to ask to see her transform into other things, but I didn’t want to seem forward, so I kept my mouth shut.
“Go ahead,” Edward urged, his hand on my lower back. “We’ve all asked her. She won’t mind.”
“You wanna see other forms?” Rose asked, grinning. “He’s right. When we first met them, it seemed everyone wanted to see something different. It doesn’t hurt or anything. I get hungry doing it too many times in a short period, but we have food, so…”
“Then…yeah,” I said with a nod. “Marilyn Monroe.” Rose was a blonde bombshell in her own right. I could totally picture her as Marilyn.
With a shimmer, Rose disappeared, leaving Marilyn standing there.
“So cool!” I pursed my lips. “President Obama.”
The rest of the family cracked up, while Rose/Marilyn just grinned. After a moment, the taller, darker form of the president stood in front of me, wearing a suit I seemed to remember him being in the last time I’d seen him on television. But when he opened his mouth to speak, it was Rose’s voice.
“Where’s my Emmy bear?” he/she said, turning, only to grin when Emmett backed away with a snort.
“Creepy…” he said, shaking his head.
I laughed so hard my cheeks hurt. When I had myself under control, I said, “A little girl.”
“Too easy,” Rose/Obama said, and then suddenly she was three feet shorter, with curly blonde hair and big blue eyes, freckles dotting her cheeks and across her nose. She batted her eyelashes and stuck her thumb in her mouth as the fingers of her other hand played with the ruffled hem of her little yellow sundress.
“Oh damn… If you didn’t know any better… You look just like a two-year-old!”
She laughed and nodded.
“Okay, so…animals,” I mused. “The white German shepherd…”
Rose made for one gorgeous dog, and I told her so before saying, “The mouse?”
She looked at Edward, who snickered.
“No, we won’t let a real hawk come swoop you up,” he promised, making us all laugh.
Rose gave a huffing bark and then shifted into a small gray mouse, nearly covered by the tall wildflowers. She ran up Emmett’s pants leg and up to his shoulder, where he scooped her up gently and ran his hand over the top of her head.
“Okay, okay,” I said, thinking how seriously cool and useful her talent was. “Last one, I promise.”
When Emmett set her down on the ground again, I said, “Can you do a big cat? I’ve never seen one up close, and I’d love to see it without worrying it’ll eat me…”
Almost before I could blink, the mouse disappeared and a large snow leopard stood in its place. I took an involuntary step back, but Edward’s hand on my lower back kept me from moving too far.
“It’s still Rose,” he murmured.
I nodded and then reached out tentatively.
Rose the leopard lowered her head and bumped my hand, huffing out a breath that tickled my skin.
Slowly, I moved my hand to the top of her head and then stroked down her fur across her shoulders and down her back. The white and gray fur was softer than I’d imagined, and as I dug my fingers in a bit, the undercoat was even softer. She had a beautiful pattern of charcoal-gray spots, and her tail was as fluffy as the smaller cat form I’d seen her take before.
She was beautiful.
I could have stayed there petting her for hours, marveling at how big her paws were and touching the soft-looking fur on her nose, but after another moment, I stepped back with a sigh.
“Thank you,” I told her, feeling like I’d seen and touched something truly awesome.
When Rose shifted back into her human form, her cheeks were pink. “Anytime,” she said with a smile. “Everyone has their favorite form. Mine is the small cat. Mom’s is the dog.” She shrugged. “They can all be useful.”
“What about you, Bella?” Esme asked. “We’ve obviously seen what you can do, but what are your limitations? Can you go anywhere?”
“Why don’t we go in and let Rose get something to eat while Bella answers all our questions?” Carlisle suggested.
We made our way back into the cabin, and once we were all settled into spots around the room and Emmett had brought Rose over some crackers and water, I began to explain what I’d learned about my power over the years.
“Places I’ve been are easy, obviously,” I began. “When I first got to New York, I went everywhere I possibly could and found hidden or private spots that I could then jump into or out of later, like one of the bathrooms at the museums and library near Central Park. I don’t have to have a wall in order to throw up a window, but for some reason, it’s easier. Maybe that’s just a mental thing. It feels…odd to have a window by itself. Like a portal to another dimension or something out of Stargate.”
Everyone chuckled, and then Carlisle asked, “What about places you haven’t been to physically?”
“Those are harder but usually doable,” I answered. “Famous places – Eiffel Tower, Golden Gate Bridge, Mt. Rushmore, Big Ben, and the like – big places that I’ve seen on TV or in the movies many, many times and seen details of in pictures, I can probably do. Going somewhere from a picture or TV, somewhere unknown or that I don’t have a lot of details about, would be a lot harder.
“The problem is,” I continued, “with either the famous or non-famous unknown places, is the lack of knowing where a private place to jump into would be. With the Eiffel Tower, for example, I’ve seen enough pictures that I could probably jump into the upper platform. So I could probably jump there. But what about witnesses? I don’t know enough to know if there’s a hidden corner that is most likely going to be empty or whatever, so the risk is huge and why I haven’t tried it.”
“That makes sense,” Carlisle agreed. “For right now, it’s not worth your safety to try. If someone saw you, that could open up a whole host of problems.”
“Exactly,” I said with a frown. “Though at some point, it may be necessary.”
~oOo~
A few hours later, we were all sitting around the cabin, having just finished dinner – Yummy… Canned beans and weenies. Edward laughed softly from beside me as he caught my thoughts. – when Carlisle spoke.
“So is everyone agreed that the next step is to go to Alaska?”
Having no good opinion on the matter, I didn’t say anything. Edward was also quiet as the rest of them nodded and verbalized their agreement.
I couldn’t tell what was going on with Edward. Carlisle had mentioned Carmen and El…something earlier when he’d brought up Alaska. But something about going there was bothering him.
You don’t want to go to Alaska? I thought to him.
He looked at me and grimaced a little before leaning in and whispering one word against my ear. “Tanya.”
I blinked in surprise. Tanya’s a…sixxer?
He nodded.
Oh. Gotcha.
My mind went wild with speculation about what her talent was. Invisibility? That would be cool. Astral projection? Levitation? Aura reading? The ability to see spirits? A famous movie scene popped into my head.
“‘I see dead people’?” Edward asked with a quiet laugh. He leaned in to my ear again. “Her talent pulls people in…makes them focus on her.”
Really? What does—
I was interrupted by Carlisle speaking again.
“I’ll explain more later,” Edward promised quietly, taking my hand and giving it a squeeze.
Smiling, I nodded and turned my attention back to the others.
“Edward… Son, I know you aren’t happy about Alaska,” Carlisle said, “but I think it’s best that—”
“I know,” Edward said, shaking his head. “It’ll be fine.”
Carlisle looked at him closely for a moment and then nodded once. “Okay, then.” He pulled one of the bags closer to him and unzipped it. “Everyone get out your phones. I think it’s best if we leave them so we can’t be tracked.” He looked at me. “Bella, can you open a window back to the apartment so we can leave them there, rather than here?”
I nodded, digging out the phone Edward had given me. “Whenever you’re ready.”
As soon as everyone had passed their phones to Edward, Carlisle gave me a nod. I opened a window into the living room of the penthouse and gasped.
Everything I could see was trashed. The living room had been ransacked. Books had been pulled off the shelves. The cushions were off the couch and loveseat and looked like they’d been cut open, with stuffing spilling out everywhere. Jasper groaned and whimpered something about the huge TV that was dangling from the wall mount, its screen clearly cracked.
“Toss them,” Carlisle ordered sharply to Edward. “It doesn’t look like they’re still there, but I don’t want to risk it.”
Edward nodded and threw the phones into the apartment. I tossed mine in with them and then allowed the window to disappear.
“I’m sorry,” I said quietly. “Your house is wrecked because they were looking for me.”
“Hey, pretty girl,” Edward said, gripping my hand in one of his and turning my head with the other. “None of us blame you. You’re simply looking to survive, same as us. Those bastards at Volterra are the only ones responsible.”
“He’s right, Bella,” Carlisle said firmly, and I turned to look at him. “If it wasn’t you, it would be one of the others – or even me.” He reached into the open duffel bag and pulled out a cell phone. “In fact, it was something I was even prepared for. Everyone gets one of these. I programmed in all the numbers before we left the apartment when I got them from the safe. Keep them with you, but don’t give out the numbers to anyone – not even the Rios family for the time being.”
He handed the phones out to everyone and then looked to me with a smile. “Now, how to get us out of here…”





2 comments:

trbuie said...

still so scary the thought of being hunted....

Kristi said...

Rose has an amazing gift as do all the others.
Will VI go back to the apartment complex and find the bag with the phones?
Can Tanya take over your thoughts or just draw you in?

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