“And then the fiery tangle of hair was no longer connected to the rest of her body. The shivering orange waves fell to the ground, and bounced once before rolling toward the trees. I forced my eyes – frozen wide open with shock- to move so that I could not examine too closely the oval object wrapped in tendrils of shivering, fiery hair.
Edward was in motion again. Swift and coolly businesslike, he dismembered the headless corpse.”
If I were still a human, looking at the vicious, red-haired vampire crouched before me, I would have believed she was Victoria. She was identical. Almost. My vision is sharp now that I’m a vampire, and I could easily see the very slight differences.
For one, the vampire standing in front of us was alive . . . as alive as a vampire could be. Victoria is dead. Being turned did not take my memory of Edward disassembling her body away—unfortunately. In fact, it’s one of my more prominent human memories. Again, unfortunately.
I stretched my shield over Edward and almost got to Charlie, but before I could, something entirely unexpected happened. Charlie turned toward me, his lips pulled up from his teeth, his piercing red eyes now vicious. He wanted to attack me, that much I could tell.
“Charlie, don’t. She has used her power on you. You don’t want to hurt Bella. This vampire has the ability to turn anyone she wants against whoever she chooses.” Edwards voice was steady, calm. He didn’t want to startle Charlie while he was in such a malevolent state, under the control of this vampire’s power.
The red-haired Victoria lookalike fastened her eyes on Edward as she spoke. “You know me quite well. I assume you can read minds. I guess I don’t have to explain to you why I’m here then.” She smirked and crouched even lower, ready to attack.
“I don’t read minds,” I hissed, shifting my eyes between her and Charlie. “What do you want with us? Are you related to Victoria?” It sound more like a demand than a question.
I could hear the pouncing of wolf paws growing louder and closer. She would be cornered, with no way out, which is why I couldn’t understand how she could still be crouched there, not running. So . . . brave.
The entire time I was struggling to blanket Charlie with my shield. For some reason I became extremely mentally drained trying to get it over him, but eventually I did. He snapped out of it and was no longer under her control. No longer trying to kill me.
“Actually, yes. I was related to Victoria. That is until your partner, Edward, killed her and her lover, James, trying to protect you.” She put heavy emphasis on the ‘you’ and snarled at me in complete disgust, then continued. “Victoria was my twin. We were turned together but went our separate ways overtime. I just got the news of her destruction, and you could say I’m not happy about it. Regardless of where we were in life, or what we were, we always had a connection. Now she is gone, forever, because of you.”
She lunged forward and placed both of her hands tightly around my neck, her teeth exposed, glistening. In a blur Edward yanked her off and had her pinned on the ground within seconds. Charlie and I crouched above her as the wolves came sliding in, creating a fog from the dirt and gravel being stirred up.
“It’s funny,” she hissed, “you’re giving me exactly what I want. I’m coming to you to be destroyed. Being alive, or whatever this is, gets old after a while. I’m tired of living, and now that I’m aware of Victoria’s destruction, I believe my time is up, too. My original plan was to kill Bella, to ensure her lover here”—she shot her red eyes at Edward—”would come after me and give me what I want. So go for it. Finish me off. After all, I did turn your friend Mike into a meal. He has lovely tasting blood, by the way.” Her eyes flickered between Edward and I, swimming with hatred.
I began to wonder if this was some kind of reverse psychology thing. I knew Edward could read her mind, though, and if she were bluffing, he would be the first to know.
“Maybe we should get more acquainted before we agree to follow through with your request to be destroyed,” Edward hissed. “First of all, what is your name?” His eyes narrowed, and he had a glint of empathy in his expression. I could tell he was thinking back to a time when he wanted to be destroyed because he felt like he had nothing to live for.
“It’s Lorena!” she spat. “Now that you know my name, will you please get this over with? I promise I won’t put up a fight. If you don’t do it, I’m sure these wolves would be more than happy to tear me apart.” She was getting more submissive with each passing second.
The wolves paced around Lorena’s body, which was still pinned to the ground by Edward. He didn’t need to use force, she really was giving up, but he did anyway, just to be safe. For a few seconds no one said anything, it was almost too quiet, but I knew we were all thinking the same thing.
Charlie broke the silence. “Well, should we deliberate or something? Come to some sort of decision?”
“You do not have an option, really,” Lorena began. “You see, you either destroy me now, or I will come after the child that these two have together.” She waved her hand between Edward and I. “Not before attacking Bella first, which would cause you all to protect her, and destroy me anyway. Do we really need to do this the hard way? I know an eternity is a long time to live, but are you so bored that you would rather battle over this?” She rolled her bright red eyes, then closed them tightly.
She would never open them again.
With one abrupt movement, Edward twisted Lorena’s head, removed it from her body just like he did with her twin, Victoria. His lips were pulled over his teeth and his eyes flooded over with an anger that I had never seen before. The wolves started to bite at the corpse, tearing her apart, piece by piece. Charlie helped, too. I didn’t join in . . . yet.
Everything seemed to be going in slow motion, despite their fast, seamless, movements. My sharp vision began to blur and my head started to overflow with flashbacks of when Edward dismantled Victoria. It was like watching it all over again. This time my father, Charlie, was helping.
Lorena‘s words echoed in my head, over and over: “You see, you either destroy me now, or I will come after the child that these two have together.” I closed my eyes and took in one, deep—but unnecessary, of course—breath. I exposed my teeth instinctively, and with one powerful spring, I leapt forward and landed smoothly on the grass right beside what was left of Victoria’s twin sister.
I pulled her torso apart so fast that it would look like nothing more than a blur to a human’s feeble eyes. When she was entirely dismantled, Charlie ran into our cabin and grabbed a pack of matches.
We lit a fire.
The smoke was thick, sweet-smelling. Edward kept his hand tightly around the small of my back as we watched the fire come to a radiant blaze, then eventually burn out as rain began to wash over us. That’s right: I almost forgot, it’s always raining in Forks. I miss it.
The smell of the rain was intoxicating and brought back so many memories that will forever be etched into my mind. The smell of the dirt turning into a squishy mud reminded me of the early morning, before school, when I was human. It was usually the first thing I spelled when I opened up the door in the morning and headed into my barely-running truck, and off to school to see the beautiful pale-faced boy with the golden eyes. The boy I thought hated me.
I snapped out of it when Edward kissed my cheek, keeping his lips pressed against me longer than normal. The wolves were still there, too, watching the blaze go out. The last flame flickered, then died out, and the sweet-smelling smoke cleared almost instantly after.
“Jake, we’re going to be heading back to New Hampshire tonight,” Edward began. “Charlie, Bella and I are going to head up to the house to get Rosalie, Emmett, Alice, and Jasper. Are you coming back with us?” Edward’s golden eyes focused on Jacob as he read his mind. He nodded. “Good, we’ll meet you at the house in an hour.” I assumed that was a ‘yes’ from Jacob. It didn’t take a mind reader to know that Jake missed Renesmee.
When we got back to the house in Forks, the big white house the Cullens used to live in, Edward briefly went over everything that happened. Alice saw it all coming, of course, but she also saw that we were in no danger. It happened too fast, within seconds, for her to have made it to us, to warn us. Not that we needed their help.
“Lets just hope they weren’t triplets,” Alice joked, her voice excited and musical. I half laughed, knowing that in my world, anything is possible.
Seth didn’t stay long. In fact, none of us did. We’re all in Forks right now—except for Carlisle, Esme, and Renesmee. They’re still in New Hampshire. We’ve been here for a while. I was more than excited about Seth’s visit. We all were, but we weren’t overly-enthused about the news he brought with him.
Seth can’t fake that huge, happy grin. I knew almost immediately that he was hiding something. He was worried. His eyes gave it away. They were obscure and overshadowed the innocent smile he was trying to fake. I saw the same dark concern clouding Jake’s eyes, too. His usual sunny face was becoming more of a dark, ebony sky. I was worried, but didn’t want to cross-examine them as soon as they arrived.
I waited for Edward to come home. I figured he would just listen in on Seth and Jacob’s thoughts and tell me what was bothering them if they didn’t speak up themselves. Edward and Jasper returned from hunting about twenty minutes after Seth and Jacob got to New Hampshire, to our over-sized house, fit for a family of thirty. Edward and Jasper were testing out a brand new hunting spot they found, about a twenty minute run north of our usual spot. Apparently it’s more discrete: no trails, and has an ample supply of deer.
Immediately after welcoming Jacob and Seth, Edward’s eyes grew cold, his eyebrows knitting together. I was anticipating this. For once, I was one step ahead of Edward. Now, I just had to wait. Being immortal doesn’t mean I don’t ever get impatient. Believe me, I do. The twenty minutes I had been waiting for Edward seemed . . . well, longer than twenty minutes. I get anxious when I’m worried, uncertain.
“I can’t stay long, unfortunately. I have to get back to La Push. There is something I need to tell all of you, though.” Seth’s eyes lingered on me longer than anyone else. He took in a full breath before continuing. “After you all left Forks, we stopped transforming pretty much right away. Recently, however, we’ve gotten ourselves a little visitor. We haven’t seen the vampire yet, but we’ve caught their scent and have been shape-shifting again. There have been three reported deaths due to ‘animal attacks’ in the past week.” His tone edged towards anger.
‘Animal attacks.’ Those two words brought back vague, yet haunting memories from my human life. When I was like all the others, believing that there really were vicious animals in Forks. That it was animals who killed Charlie’s friend, Waylon Forge. Whoever it is doesn’t seem concerned about the Volturi. If anyone else is killed, the town will become increasingly suspicious of these so-called animal attacks.
Jake kept his eyes fixated on Renesmee. He didn’t want to be apart from her, that much I knew. I didn’t know that he had something to tell me, though—until Edward gave it away. “Jake, are you going to tell her, or should I?” Edward spoke grimly.
“I’d prefer if you told her. I’m not good at this kind of thing. You have more experience than I do.” Jacob’s expression was submissive.
My eyes flickered nervously between Edward and Jacob, my patience tapering off with each passing second. “Will someone just tell me. I can handle it. Whatever it is couldn’t surprise me anymore than everything else I’ve witnessed in my short lifetime.” My lips involuntarily pulled down into a frown as I anticipated the worst.
“Mike Newton was one of the humans who was attacked in Forks, Bella. I’m sorry. I know he was a friend of yours since you moved to Forks. He was home for the Christmas holidays and picked up a few shifts at his family’s store.” Edward lowered his voice with each sentence. “He was closing the store alone, and—”
“He never made it back home.” I finished Edward’s sentence. It took me a few minutes to take everything in. My mind flickered to the memories I still had of Mike, tucked away in the back of my head. His smile. His innocent baby face. His many attempts to get me to date him. I thought about Jessica, too. This won’t be easy for her. Me, well . . . I’m going to have to get used to this type of thing now. This is the life I’ve chosen.
Now that I am different, cold, immortal, death will have to become something routine for me. Something I will deal with constantly. I knew that before I was turned. It’s not like I woke up one day and thought I think I’ll get Edward to turn me into a vampire for the fun of it. I knew the reality of it. The bad parts, and the good. I didn’t react to what Edward just told me, and I could see the confusion dominating everyone’s expressions. The truth is, I didn’t know exactly how to outlet my feelings. As a human, you just cry. It’s easy. Now, I just feel angry when I’m upset. Confused.
“Well, we aren’t going to let you go back alone. If there is a vampire in Forks, I think Charlie and I would be of use. We’re both still very strong. I want to help.” I bit my lower lip, catching Nessie’s worried expression out of the corner of my eye. She just heard Edward say that Mike was killed by this vampire, and here I was offering myself up on a silver platter. I don’t even know what we are facing. It could be an army of vampires. Newborns. Strong, vicious newborns. I reconsidered. Not out of fear for myself, but for Renesmee. If Jacob is gone to La Push, it’s just not fair for me to leave too.
Turns out, I didn’t have a choice. I had to go. Jacob had more to tell me, but he couldn’t say it in front of Nessie. He casually asked me to follow him up the winding staircase, keeping a fake smile plastered on his face so Renesmee wouldn’t sense anything. Edward followed, his porcelain hand brushing the small of my back as we quickly ran up the stairs. Edward already knew what Jacob was going to tell me, of course.
Without wasting even a second, Jake closed the door to Carlisle’s office and began. “This vampire is after you for some reason, Bella. We’re almost certain there’s only one. We found footsteps in the snow all around your cabin in Forks. The window was left open, too. They’ve been inside. At this point, we believe the only way to lure whoever it is out of hiding, is if you were in Forks.” Jake’s voice was filled with certainty.
I wasn’t afraid. I had no choice. If whoever was after me came at me blindsided I would stand less of a chance, so I might as well face this head on, and destroy them. I couldn’t figure out why someone would be out to get me, though. I hadn’t broken any rules—well, nothing I haven’t already suffered for. Edward was just as confused as me, and he refused to let me go back to Forks without him.
“Esme, Rosalie, Carlisle . . . I’m sure someone can stay back and watch Renesmee. She is safe here in New Hampshire. I can’t let you go alone, Bella. I won’t. I’ll be able to read their mind and we’ll be at a great advantage. Alice needs to come, too. She can help us figure out what path the attacker is on.” Edward was already half way back down the stairs before he finished his sentence. He was right, he needed to be there. We needed to be able to read the attackers mind and figure out what they were really after, and why.
Carlisle and Esme stayed back in New Hampshire with Renesmee. I hated leaving her, but I couldn’t let whoever was after me trace my scent to New Hampshire, putting Nessie in direct danger. I had to go to them.
As soon as we got back to Forks, Edward, Charlie and I went directly to our cabin, while Seth and Jacob headed back to La Push to check in with Leah to see if she had seen anything new. Rosalie, Emmett, Alice & Jasper went back to the big white Cullen house to see if anyone had been there.
Jake was right. The attacker was after me. The clothes that were left in my closet were now flung all over the floor, while Edward’s remained perfectly untouched. I dragged in a deep breath—a habit from my time as a human. I knew this vampire wasn’t afraid. I couldn’t perfectly decipher my emotions, but I knew I wasn’t afraid, either. More anxious. Curious, maybe. But I’m a predator now. I no longer feel fear the same way I used to.
I heard the crackle of sticks outside of the cabin and figured Jake, Paul, and Leah were coming by to make sure everything was okay. Edward crouched low, as if he were ready to spring, and his upper lip pulled over his teeth as he let out a loud growl. Instinctively, I went into the same position. I could see that there was no time for Edward to elaborate on what he had heard, and I sprung through the door after him, Charlie following right after me.
She stood there, cat-like, with her brilliant red hair blowing in the cold winter wind. Her teeth were exposed and she was in a crouch. She was barefoot. My eyes darted down at her shirt. It was my shirt. She was wearing my clothing and this angered me even more. Her eyes were bright red and I couldn’t help but think of the life draining from Mike’s innocent face between her deadly grip. I let out a loud growl that echoed through the forest. I could hear the wolves running, their paws racing toward us.
It wasn’t her, though . . . that I knew.