Sunday, January 8, 2017 | By: Drotuno

Six - Chapter 22

Chapter 22
Olympic National Forest, Washington
The building was a beehive of activity when I took a deep breath, let it out slowly, and looked around as I waited for the next sixxer to have a seat across from me. We’d finished the fight a few hours ago, and because we couldn’t stay in the high school gym for long, as they’d woken up, we’d sent the sixxers through a window back to the big building in the middle of the forest. Many had been scared enough to want to leave right then, but we’d been able to calm them and promise their safety if they let us help get them home or wherever else they’d rather go. Once everyone had been moved over, we’d introduced ourselves to the group and explained our abilities, telling them they were safe and asking them to be patient while we worked to get them home. Now, as the others in our group cleaned up, Edward, Alice, and I were speaking to everyone individually.
“Oh, this should be helpful,” Edward said, his voice low, as another person moved toward us. I raised an eyebrow, but he merely grinned as Alice let out a hum and nodded.

The man who sat down in the seat across from me was in his twenties, dark-skinned, with dark hair and eyes. He was wearing a pair of jeans and a white wife-beater shirt, which showed off some impressive muscles. He was quiet as he gave us a nod in greeting. “What do you need from me?”
“As we told you all,” Edward started, “Aro escaped, along with two of his main enforcers – one, Demetri, is a sixxer; Felix is a norm who is just very strong and mean. He also has a teleporter with him, and we don’t know yet about his other two enforcers – both sixxers.”
“We’d like to get your information – name, sixxer ability, how you came to be under Aro’s thumb; that type of thing – give you one of these burner phones in case you need to get in touch with us, and then help you make your way home or wherever else you’d like to go,” I explained.
“Sam Uley,” the man said quietly. “I was with my fiancĂ©e, Emily”—he motioned to a pretty young woman with the same coloring, who was sitting on one of the chairs across the room, looking anxious—“in Seattle a few months ago.”
“Wait,” I interrupted gently. “Do you want Emily over here too? We can talk to both of you at once.”
They couldn’t take their eyes off one another, and I knew if it were Edward and me, I wouldn’t want to be apart. When he nodded, I motioned to Emily to come over. She smiled nervously and headed our way immediately.
Once she was seated, we greeted her and then told Sam to go on.
“We’d signed up to take part in a paid survey about the possibility of supernatural abilities and talents. We didn’t have a lot of extra money, and we needed it for the wedding, so when it said it would pay a hundred dollars for each participant, we decided to make a day of it.”
“Let me guess,” I deadpanned. “No survey?”
Sam frowned. “No, there was a survey. We showed up at the address they’d sent us to. There were around…what, Em? Fifteen or so of us?” She nodded, so he continued. “Two men came in to pass out the surveys. They spoke with everyone, just to say hello, ask our names and where we were from, but explained the survey itself would be anonymous. Then we all sat around these round tables and filled out a two-page questionnaire.”
Emily finally spoke then. “It was…weird.”
“In what way?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.
“There were only like ten questions. Do you believe in supernatural abilities, have you ever seen anyone you think had a talent you’d never seen before…” She trailed off. “It didn’t seem to be worth the money they’d offered. I guess I know now why,” she stated wryly.
“What happened then?” Alice asked gently, even though I was sure she and Edward had already seen it in their minds and Alice’s visions.
“They gathered up the surveys and asked us to wait while they went to get the money,” Sam said, taking over the story once more. “After a few minutes, a woman brought in envelopes and handed one out to everyone but Emily and me. She explained to us that they had a second part to the survey that they’d like us to fill out, as our answers had been particularly well-received, and if we agreed to stay, we’d get double the amount of pay.”
“We agreed,” Emily said, looking down at her hands. “The money seemed too good to pass up.”
Sam reached for her hand and held it between his as he spoke again. “As soon as the others had left the room, the woman said she’d return in a moment with the survey, and then suddenly I started feeling sleepy. I could tell something was wrong, but I couldn’t seem to move or speak. My body wasn’t cooperating with my mind. I watched Emily slump back in her chair, and then the next thing I knew, I was waking up in the high school gym a couple of hours ago.”
Edward nodded. “Knockout gas,” he said. “Probably piped in through the vent.”
“That’s my guess as well,” Sam agreed. He shook his head angrily. “I don’t know how they knew, but I put Emily in that position…”
“It might have been that one of the men who spoke with you had the ability to sense sixxers, or maybe there was a mind reader who saw it in your thoughts,” I said gently. “It wasn’t your fault.”
“I should have looked,” Emily said to Sam, her brow furrowed. “If I’d looked, I might have seen what they were doing.”
“Baby, you didn’t know. There was no reason to be that suspicious,” Sam said.
“Looked?” I asked.
Emily nodded. “I can see through walls – and doors and other solid objects.”
“Like x-ray vision?”
She laughed softly. “Yes, sort of. I can’t see through your clothes to your body, for example, but I could see through your body to the room behind you or through the table to your feet.”
“Sweet,” I said with a grin. Then I looked at Sam. “What about you?”
“Memory manipulation,” he said, but then he quickly added, “but I try not to use it because I hate messing with people’s minds. It makes me feel…well, like I’m playing God.”
I nodded, understanding what he meant. Then I looked at Edward. Your dad and Benjamin are trying to figure out what to do about all the guards, nurses, scientists, and whoever else is left after the fight and Aro left, right?
He nodded slowly. Yeah… There’s no way to arrest the ones who were involved with anything illegal, and some of the guards didn’t know what was going on inside, so Benjamin isn’t sure what to do. Huh. I wonder if Sam would do it.
Can’t hurt to find out… You wanna take this one?
He nodded again and then turned back to Sam and Emily and explained the issue they were facing. “Ideally, what we’d need is for them to have altered memory, not erased, as we don’t want a group of people to suddenly show up and have no idea where they’ve been for the previous months or years.”
When Sam hesitated, I couldn’t help but speak up.
“We understand you don’t want to use your talent normally. If there were another way, they would take it. But with the position Aro and Volterra put us in, we’re out of options. If we don’t find a way to privately deal with the handful of men and women in the other room, things could get ugly for all of us. Please, just consider it, okay?”
“Sam, please,” Emily said quietly. “We can’t have this get out. If this goes public, we could all be in danger. Think of Claire.”
Edward pushed a thought into my head then. Claire is Sam’s ten-year-old sister. Enhanced dexterity is what Emily called it. Like being double-jointed on steroids.
Sam looked pained but then nodded. “Okay. I’ll do what I can to help, but then I want to take Emily and go home.”
Nodding, Edward smiled, and then his eyebrows rose. “You guys are from this area?”
Emily laughed. “Just a few miles from here, actually. The Quileute Indian Reservation in La Push.”
Edward raised an eyebrow and looked at me. Isn’t that where…
I nodded, wrinkling my nose. Yeah, it is.
Emily looked curious, like she wanted to ask, but she didn’t say anything.
“My, uh, ex, lives there,” I explained. “Jacob Black?”
Sam snorted. “Jake doesn’t look kindly at those of us with abilities. We’ve had a few run-ins.”
“Mmm,” I agreed. “Doesn’t surprise me.” Shaking my head, I said, “Anyway, once we’re done here, I can open a window directly into La Push.”
“Actually,” Emily said, “if you can open a window in Forks, that would be good. Then we’ll call someone to come pick us up.”
“Sure,” I agreed easily. “Just let me know when you’re ready.”
Alice held out two burner phones. “We got one of these for everyone.”
Sam and Emily took them but looked confused.
Edward handed them one of Carlisle’s business cards. On it, we’d written my phone number and Edward’s as well. “You can put these in or just keep them to use later. We just want everyone to have the option of being able to reach us if needed, and we want to be able to get in contact with you later if something comes up with Aro.”
They nodded, smiling, and tucked the phones and the card in their pockets.
“Thanks for everything,” Emily said and then frowned. “If you guys hadn’t gotten us out…”
“No worries, believe me,” I said. “Been there, done that. Don’t want the T-shirt.”
Edward stood and said, “Come with me. I’ll take you to see my dad and Benjamin, who can talk to you more about the witnesses.”
“Thank you,” Sam said solemnly, and then he guided Emily to follow behind Edward.
She rested her cheek against my head and nodded. “Right? It’s scary to hear what lengths Aro and his goons went to in order to get to people.”
“Yeah…” I sighed and tried to remember that we were safe and Aro wasn’t a problem any longer. He would be found eventually, and until then, I was surrounded by people who would move heaven and earth to protect those they loved.
I was still worried about Jane and Alec. Jane’s power terrified me. She’d hurt Edward so badly before. Thank goodness Maggie had been able to help him. Unfortunately, we still didn’t know if they’d escaped or been killed during the fight. No one had found their bodies, and Rose had even taken to the air as a hawk to see if she could see anything in the forest, but she hadn’t seen any trace of them. Maybe they’d escaped with Aro. Maybe they’d been buried by Benjamin’s talent during the fight or burned beyond recognition and then buried later. Hopefully without Aro’s support, even if they were still alive, they wouldn’t be an issue for us.
Edward sat back down beside me a few minutes later. “They’re all set up. Sam, Benjamin, and Rae are going to concoct the story for Sam to use while my dad and Eleazar continue searching through all the papers in the office.”
Alice and I nodded, and then we waved to the next person in line to see us.
A young woman about my age slid into the seat across from Alice and smiled tentatively at us. She was pretty, with olive skin, long dark hair, and dark eyes. “Hi,” she murmured, biting her lip before continuing. “Thanks for the rescue.”
Giving her a warm smile, I shrugged. “You heard my story, so you know I couldn’t just leave you at their mercy.” Pointing to Edward and Alice, I shook my head and added, “And believe me, neither of these two or their family would have thought twice about it either.”
“Yes, we’re siblings, but no, we’re adopted,” Edward spoke when the young woman hesitated.
She looked momentarily shocked but then chuckled. “Right. The mind reader.” When Edward nodded, she smiled and then got down to business. “Angela Weber. I’m… Well…here.” Smiling a little, she turned her head, reached up, and moved her hair back away from her ear so we could see just behind it and down her neck a couple of inches. Between one blink and the next, her smooth skin rippled and then split, revealing a set of gills, like those of a fish. Just as quickly, they disappeared and her skin was unblemished. She turned back to us and said, “I can breathe underwater.”
I marveled at how cool that must be but simply mouthed, “Wow!” and then nodded for her to continue.
“I was taken from the parking lot of my apartment building in Santa Monica in May, so a few months ago, I guess? I need to get in touch with my parents and boyfriend.” She frowned, her eyes tearing up. “They must either think I’m dead or ran off. Either one of those would kill them.”
Alice froze, staring her sightless eyes off into the distance, and the vision played through Edward’s mind moments after he read it from hers. Since he had his mind open to me, I got it all.
Angela calling her parents and all of them sobbing on the phone as she told them she was okay.
Her reunion with a man who looked utterly wrecked but overjoyed to have her in his arms.
All of them sitting down together, Angela sandwiched between her mother and the young man, as she began to tell her story.
“What?” Angela asked, sounding worried.
I realized we all must have stopped moving when Alice’s vision hit. Relaxing, I smiled and explained about Alice’s vision. “So let’s finish this and make that come true, yeah?”
She nodded quickly.
Edward held out the burner phone to her, along with Carlisle’s business card and an explanation for the phone.
“Feel free to contact us if you ever need anything, okay?” I said gently.
“I will,” Angela agreed, holding the phone in one hand and the card in the other. “Thank you. All of you.” Glancing down at the T-shirt and shorts she was wearing, she said, “Please thank them – whoever it was – who got me these, too. I did not want to stay in the hospital gown I was in when I woke up.”
I laughed. “Yeah, I totally get that.” Looking at Edward, who nodded, I said, “Okay, give me a bit, and I’ll try to get a window open for you to Santa Monica.”
Angela nodded quickly. “Thanks. Can I um…” She looked at the phone we’d given her. “Can I call my parents?”
Alice answered before Edward or I could. “Of course, sweetie. If you want, there’s a room just over that way” – she pointed to her left – “that you can use for privacy. By the time you get back in here, we’ll have you ready to go.”
Edward had his phone out by the time Angela left her seat, and I was scrolling through pictures of the beach, the famous Santa Monica pier, and what looked like downtown.
“I think my best bet is the pier,” I said, tapping a finger. “I can try to open a window below it, just before it gets to the water. That way it’s private, so it shouldn’t be spotted, but it isn’t like she’ll come waltzing out of the water.”
Edward nodded. “Go for it, pretty girl.”
I flipped through a few more pictures of the pier itself, concentrating on the part where I wanted to send Angela, and then waited for her to return from the other room. When I saw her coming just a couple of minutes later, I closed my eyes, pushed my power out, and then smiled when the scent of warm ocean air hit my nose.
When I opened my eyes, a window had opened a few feet from the table, and I could see through to the dark sand under the pier, just what I’d been hoping to see.
Angela squeaked and smiled so wide I thought her face would literally break in two. “Thank you! All of you.”
“You’re welcome,” we echoed, laughing.
“Now go on,” I said, indicating the window. “Just step through. I’ll close it right after so no one sees. Give it a minute before you climb out from under the pier, just to be sure no one sees anything off.”
Before she stepped through, Alice said, “If you ever need us, just call, and Bella can open a window just like this to get you to us or us to you, okay?”
“Thanks.” Angela gave us all another smile, looking relieved and excited and grateful all at once, and then stepped through the window into the sand.
As soon as she was through, I gave a little wave and then closed the window with a sigh. “Another one down, only twenty-three more to go. Gonna be a long day.”
Edward slid his hand under my hair to massage the back of my neck. “We can take a break if you need one, Bella. Just say the word.”
I looked around at the people scattered around the building. Esme, Carmen, and Irina had gone to Florida via a window as soon as the fighting was over and we had a good count on the number of rescued sixxers. They’d brought back folding chairs, a few small folding tables, drinks, food, clothes, and the phones for everyone. So those who were left from Aro’s captivity were sprawled around the room, talking, eating, and trying to relax, but I could tell there was still a lot of tension and worry.
Alice, Edward, and I had already spoken to eleven people, but there were still many who needed to get home. A break would have to wait.
“I’m good,” I said, relaxing for a moment against the warm pressure of the massage. “Who’s next?”
I looked to Alice and sighed. “Fuck, I’m tired.” I scrubbed a hand over my face, trying to rub away some of the exhaustion I felt. It had been a damn long day, starting so early that morning with the raid on the building and Alice’s recovery, not to mention the rescue of over thirty other sixxers. I’d opened more windows than I could count, and that was just really taxing on my brain, not to mention the stress it put my body under. I was tense every time, trying to get it to work on places I’d never been nor seen before. Thankfully, all I had left to do was send the people back to Seattle and then open windows to Alaska, Florida, and New York, all of which should be easy.
“Not much longer,” Edward said in a soothing voice, coming up behind me. “Benjamin and Sam are ready to go. They just need you to open a window to the warehouse in Seattle. Then I’ll go with them and the group we’re leaving there to make sure Sam’s memory manipulation works, and then we’ll come back here and go home, okay?”
Nodding, I smiled and stood. “It’ll be good to be back in New York.” I missed the Cullens’ apartment. It was the first place I’d truly felt safe since getting taken by VI.
Edward and Alice both agreed, and then Alice smiled as a rush of air hit us at the same time Jasper skidded to a stop beside her.
“They don’t need me,” he said, sliding into the seat beside her and kissing her temple. “I’m officially done.”
“Well, I’m not,” I sighed, taking Edward’s hand when he held it out to me. “So we’ll be back.”
A few minutes later, I stepped through the window into the big room that had held the sixxers in the warehouse in Seattle. It was creepy – dark aside from the light coming in from my window, cool, and completely empty. Once the window popped closed behind me, it went completely dark until Carlisle was able to find the light switch on the wall and flip it up, bathing the room in bright white.
Edward, Benjamin, Eleazar, and a sweet little sixxer named Kebi were standing with the group of guards, nurses, scientists, and other VI personnel. Most of them looked nervous. A few of the bigger men – guards who’d been here in Seattle and then in Washington – were clearly angry, defiant. I assumed they didn’t like being zip-tied with their mouths forced shut.
Kebi had been one of the later sixxers we’d spoken with in Washington. In her mid-twenties, she was gorgeous, with olive skin, long dark hair, and dark eyes. She also had a wicked power – the ability to manipulate not only her skin and body but also that of others as well. So when the guards had begun giving them trouble and Carlisle and Benjamin had tried to figure out how to gag them to shut them up, she’d stepped up and offered a quicker, easier solution. She had basically glued their lips together. She’d shown us on herself and then Carlisle that it didn’t hurt, and once she’d done it to the loud-mouthed guards, we hadn’t heard another peep out of them.
As the Volterra people were moved into one of the side rooms, Edward spoke quietly to both Kebi and me, explaining the story they’d come up with.
“When Sam is finished with them, they’ll believe they were let go when Volterra Industries closed suddenly. Caius has been charged with the kidnapping of James Volterra. James’s parents – Marcus and Didi – were being threatened with James’s death if they told anyone. Aro is also being charged with the kidnapping, and they’ll both be charged with…something to do with the medical experiments they were doing on James and his neurological disorder. Obviously that’s not what they were doing, but that’s the best Benjamin, Rae, and my dad could come up with. When the FBI showed up, Aro somehow got wind and ran, and since Caius is under arrest, that put Marcus in charge. He is closing Volterra and has let everyone here go.”
Kebi and I nodded, watching in fascination as one by one, the Volterra people were brought out to the big room and let loose from their bindings. Then it was up to Sam to do his thing. He didn’t speak. Instead, somehow his mind connected to theirs.
Edward was quiet beside me, his eyes wide. “Fascinating,” he murmured softly so as not to disturb Sam.
I couldn’t help but ask, curiosity getting the better of me. “How’s it work?”
He shook his head. “I can’t explain it. I can hear his mind, and I can hear the other person’s, but I can’t see how what Sam is thinking is actually working. I can just tell it is by what the other person begins to remember and think.”
As soon as Sam was finished with one, Eleazar would walk them out of the building before Carlisle brought out the next into the big room. On and on it went until the final guard had been sent home.
Sam shook his head, looking as tired as I felt. “I know that needed done, but I’m glad that’s it.”
Carlisle patted his shoulder gently. “Let’s get you back to Emily and then on your way home, son. Thank you.”
Nodding, Sam chose to say nothing, but he looked to me anxiously.
I smiled and popped open a window to the building outside Forks, waving him through.
Once we got Sam and Emily back to Forks, the only ones left in the area were the Cullen family, Rios family, Rae, Benjamin, Kebi, Liam, Maggie, Makenna, the youngest sixxer we’d freed – Bree – and me. While Edward, Alice, and I had been working to get all the sixxers home, all the paperwork had been gathered, and between Benjamin’s talent and Paul’s, all the bodies had been buried or burned and their ashes buried. We’d hated to do that, hated that the families wouldn’t know what happened to their loved ones, but there wasn’t anything else we could’ve done.
And apparently while we’d been in Seattle, those here had gathered everything we’d brought, because the big room was completely empty and void of any sign that anyone had ever been there.
“Garrett’s going to have a ball with this building, isn’t he?” I said with a snicker, thinking of everything he could do with this amount of metal.
The others grinned and agreed as we stepped outside to greet the rest of our group.
The chairs had all been set up, and people lounged in those and around on the ground. On the outside of the group, nearest the edge of the forest, Maggie, Makenna, and little Bree sat in a semicircle, playing with a few of the forest animals that were still around. I could see a few rabbits, squirrels, and even a couple of small little gopher-looking things. The girls were petting them and talking to them through Makenna – Bree and Maggie speaking to the animals, the animals chattering back, with Makenna translating it all.
When Bree looked up and saw Rae, she jumped up and ran over, throwing her arms around the older woman. “You’re back!” Just as quickly, she dropped her arms and stepped back, biting her lower lip.
“Hey, hey,” Rae scolded gently. “What did I tell you? Don’t be afraid to touch me or any one of us here. None of us will be upset by it.”
As Bree nodded, I couldn’t help but think back to when we’d first met her that morning. The little girl and I had a lot in common, and my heart simply ached for her.
I stood at the front of the room with Edward, Carlisle, Benjamin, and Rae, watching the group of sixxers we’d freed. They were all sitting in the chairs or standing around nervously, watching and listening as Carlisle introduced himself, the rest of us with them, and then the others from our group, who were standing off to the side in the large room. He was explaining that we were going to speak to everyone and help get them wherever they wanted to go, but I stopped listening when Edward stiffened beside me.
Edward? What’s wrong?
He tilted his head and pushed his thoughts into my head. See the little redheaded girl in the back? When I nodded once, he continued. She was just thinking that she had nowhere to go, since her parents gave her to Mr. Aro.
Oh no…
He frowned and was quiet as Carlisle finished speaking.
“So please, be patient. We’ll get to all of you, I promise. If you have any urgent questions, just find any one of us. Otherwise, Alice, Edward, and Bella can help with whatever you need,” Carlisle told the group, and then he turned to us with a sad smile. “I see her, Edward. We’ll meet you over at the table if you want to go get her so we don’t all overwhelm her at first.”
Edward nodded, and then he and I headed for the little girl as Carlisle guided Alice over to the table and chairs we’d set up for the purpose of talking with each of the sixxers. Rae and Benjamin followed them over, and Eleazar joined them from the back of the group when Benjamin motioned to him.
“Hi, sweetie,” I said gently as we reached her. “I’m Bella. What’s your name?”
“Bree,” she said shyly.
“Can you come with us over there to talk to us? We’d really like to help if we can.”
She nodded, but when I held out my hand, her eyes widened and she quickly put her hands behind her back.
Pulling my hand back, I smiled. “It’s okay. You don’t have to touch me.”
Is she like Gianna?
Edward gave a subtle shake of his head. I don’t think so… More like Rae, maybe?
I raised an eyebrow but walked without speaking over to the table with Bree beside me.
Before Edward spoke, he went around and had a private word with Benjamin. Then he came back to sit beside me and introduced everyone around the table again, even though Carlisle had done the same earlier with the big group. “Did you hear what I can do?”
She nodded. “You can read minds,” she answered hesitantly. “Can you read mine?”
He nodded. “You’re worried because of your talent, but I can promise you, no one here is going to judge. Has anyone ever told you what your talent is called?”
When she spoke, it was in a whisper, and her green eyes looked haunted. “Mommy and Daddy called it the Devil’s work.”
No one spoke for a minute. Everyone seemed to be in a state of shock. Tears welled in my eyes, and with a quick glance around the table, I saw that I wasn’t the only one.
Then Rae scooted away from the table, went around to her, and bent her knees so she was looking into Bree’s eyes.
“Your mommy and daddy were wrong, sweetheart. No matter what your talent is, it isn’t the work of the Devil. It makes you special. Unique.”
“Rae,” Eleazar said softly, “She’s a bit like you. A shield.”
Rae’s eyebrows rose. “Really?” The word came out long and drawn-out, as if she were surprised. When Eleazar and Edward nodded, she turned back to Bree. “Sweetie, can you hold my hand? I promise, whatever happens is going to be okay.”
Bree tentatively reached out, paused to look around at all of us, and then slipped her hand into Rae’s.
Edward grunted, nodding. “The moment she touched Rae, I couldn’t hear Rae’s mind at all.”
“But you can read Bree’s?” Carlisle asked.
Shrugging, Edward answered, “Sometimes. Other times, it’s blank.”
Once Bree let go of Rae’s hand, Rae explained more about her own talent, comparing it to Bree’s. “Our shields are very similar but also very different. I don’t have to touch someone to include them in my shield. You do. But my shield can only stop mental powers – like the boy who was able to see where those of us with talents were. When you touch someone, it’s like you put a hand over their ears and minds. They can’t hear anything outside the little bubble you create around the two of you, and no one outside that little bubble can hear them. Edward couldn’t read my mind when you touched my hand. Neither of our talents are a bad thing, sweetie, and I promise, it’s something we can work on so you can learn to control it, okay?”
By the time she finished, Bree looked a little more relaxed, a little less frightened, and she nodded.
Then Benjamin spoke. “Bree, can you tell us about your parents and Mr. Aro?”
Bree bit her lip and looked at Rae, who nodded.
“Go ahead, baby. It’s okay.”
“Mommy and Daddy were scared of me. One day after school, Mr. Aro came to our house, and they said I was going to go with him, that he was going to cure me.”
Edward cursed in his head, and I squeezed his hand, feeling the same anger and frustration he was obviously feeling.
“He gave them some papers, and then he made me go with him. I cried and cried and told Mommy and Daddy that I’d be good, that I wouldn’t touch anyone ever again. They said I could come home when Mr. Aro had gotten the Devil out of me.” She began to cry softly. “When Mr. Aro brought me to that place, I tried to stop them, but a mean lady gave me a shot and I got really tired and fell asleep.”
“Do you know when that was?” Rae asked gently.
Bree shook her head. “I missed my birthday. I was going to have a party, but then Mr. Aro took me instead.”
Rae frowned. “When’s your birthday?”
When Bree answered, we all gasped.
“Seven months,” I said dumbly. “Unbelievable…”
As I watched Bree with Rae, I could see a change even just since that first talk. She had attached herself to Rae after that, and Rae seemed more than happy to let it happen. Maybe because they were both shields. Whatever the reason, it seemed that little Bree would be going back to Florida with Rae since there was no way any of us were taking her back to her parents. Benjamin had muttered something about forcing her parents to sign over their rights to the little girl. I knew no matter what happened, Bree would be happy and healthy with Rae – and Kebi, who’d apparently decided to check out Florida. She had been living on the street in Seattle when Demetri had lured her in with promises of a safe place to stay.
Maggie and Makenna arguing with Liam brought me out of my thoughts.
“Please, Daddy!” Maggie begged. “They’re so cute!”
His response made me giggle. “No, girls, you can’t bring them home with you. This is their home. They wouldn’t be happy having to live in a cage. Maybe when we get settled, we can get a pet…”
Maggie and Makenna cheered, but then Makenna frowned and spoke to the remaining animals around them. “It’s time to go home. Thank you for coming to play with us.”
There was some chittering and chattering, and then the animals scattered, melting into the darkness of the forest.
“Before we go,” Benjamin stated, looking at Garrett, “can you wad up what’s left of that building? Get it as small as you can.”
Garrett grinned. “Challenge accepted.”
We all backed up as the building suddenly rose a few inches, and between one blink and the next, it began folding in on itself until it was a ball of metal smaller than a car.
Benjamin nodded with a smirk. “That works. Keep it there…”
When Garrett nodded, Benjamin waved his hand and the earth split, like Moses parting the Red Sea. Dirt rose up on either side of a huge hole, and when Benjamin motioned at Garrett with his head, Garrett dropped the ball of metal. The hole was deep enough that when Benjamin moved the earth back into place, there was no hill, nothing to show that a building’s worth of metal was underneath. All the broken glass and remaining mess from the building’s interior had been buried with it, leaving a large, bare patch of land that would eventually be covered like the rest of the forest floor.
“Nice teamwork,” Garrett said, giving Benjamin a thumbs-up.
“Exactly,” Benjamin agreed. “Now we can go home.”
When everyone looked at me, I smiled. “Florida first?”
The next few minutes were full of hugs and promises to visit. I noticed Benjamin and Irina hugging off to the side, and then he leaned in and pressed a kiss to her cheek before passing her a slip of paper – a business card, possibly. I grinned when her cheeks pinked up and she nodded.
I opened the window into Rae’s living room, and then Benjamin, Rae, Bree, Liam, Maggie, Makenna, and Kebi stepped through. We all waved, and then I closed the window.
Alaska was up next. When I opened the window into Carmen and Eleazar’s house, we all noticed the destruction. It was obvious Volterra had been there and wreaked havoc, much like they’d done to the Cullens’ apartment in New York.
Carmen sighed. “I suppose I’d hoped they’d left it alone. I guess we can be thankful it’s still standing.” She smiled then and looked at me before stepping through. “Thank you, Bella.”
“My pleasure,” I said, smiling and waving to the family as they all made their way through the window.
That left the Cullens and me.
“Ready to go home?” Carlisle asked the rest of us, wrapping an arm around Esme.
“Yes,” Rose said with a sigh, and a yawn escaped Emmett as he nodded his agreement.
I opened a window to the penthouse apartment. Carlisle stepped through first, and when he nodded that it was safe, the rest of us followed.
Letting the window close behind me, I sighed. There were our phones, and it seemed nothing else had been disturbed other than what we’d seen before. Thank goodness.
“It’s good to be home,” Esme said.
“My thoughts exactly,” Edward agreed, smiling down at me.


Moltz said...

Will there be any sort of aftermath from the disappearance of the buildings and all the people that now need to find other forms of a normal work life?
Is Around hiding somewhere that he can still keep track of Sixxers?

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