The familiar downward slanting alley gave me vague flashbacks of a time when I was more fragile, human. Edward kept himself one pace ahead of me, protectively, holding my hand the entire time. He’s still just as protective of me as he was when I was a fragile, weak human. Some things truly never change.
Feeling his hand sewn into mine was about the only thing at this point that was keeping me from plowing down the two cloaked men ahead of us and running to find Renesmee, destroying everyone in my path. I couldn’t do anything to put her fragile life in jeopardy, though.
We came to the hole at the end of the alley, and slid down it one by one while Felix and Demetri watched, their penetrating eyes mostly on Charlie, who was hesitant about ducking into the small, black hole that looked like a drain. He knew we didn’t have a choice, though, and ducked into the drain-like opening right before me.
After walking deeper into the ground and following Felix, who assumed the position of leader while Demetri walked behind all of us, we got to the brightly lit room. I remembered this part. Not so much the room, but the feeling of being reunited with Edward. I remembered feeling his protective embrace, being afraid that it would be the last time we saw each other after only being reunited for what seemed like a minute. I was so confused then. So scared. I wasn’t afraid this time, though. Not even after I saw Jane waiting for us in the elevator, looking at Edward – grinning her pain inducing grin. I had my shield stretched over my family, of course.
Edward froze just as Alice lifted two fingers to her temple. She was seeing something, and Edward was reading her thoughts. They couldn’t say anything, though, so they continued on as if nothing was happening. Edward could feel how frustrated I was becoming because I couldn’t see what him and Alice could, so he mumbled a quick explanation in a low, soft voice which was almost drowned out by all of our footsteps.
“Nessie is with Aro. They don’t want to hurt her. Alice can only see Aro, but she said he’s decided not to hurt Nessie. He simply wants to try to get some of our family to join their coven.”
He wanted to say more, but Demetri was just a couple of steps behind us, eying our overly conspicuous facial expressions. My shoulders relaxed slightly, and a small portion of the anger that was burning through me was extinguished with Edward’s words. I wondered, momentarily, if it was Jasper creating a more calm atmosphere.
Once we stepped out of the elevator, we were in what looked like a reception area. Behind the mahogany counter was the tall, dark-skinned, greened-eyed girl named Gianna. She nodded and smiled at each of us individually, paying the most attention to Edward, her eyes lingering on his face just a little longer than the rest of us. I could tell she remembered me. Her big, green eyes grew and she half smiled as she realized I was different this time. She looked the same, from what I can remember.
Eventually we were met by Alec, who joined us as we were led through the door to the large, bright, cavernous room. Alec and Jane almost intuitively grabbed each others hands, smiling, their innocent faces so similar. Alec’s voice was animated, clashing with the mood I was in, which agitated me even more. I don’t think I even so much as looked at him when he greeted me.
My body stiffened up when I saw the chalky-looking, milky-eyed man before me. Aro welcomed each of us with a soft nod, keeping a close eye on Charlie. I scanned the room over and over, looking for my angel. I didn’t see her anywhere.
Aro began to speak, and it was relieving to hear his voice, oddly. He sounded pleasant, not angry enough to cause any harm to our little girl. “I don’t believe I was given a proper introduction to your father, Bella.” He moved his translucent finger slowly in Charlie’s direction, glancing at him for a fraction of a second, then back at me. “If you don’t mind, I would love to meet the new member of your family.”
Charlie wasn’t up for the small talk. He was almost snappy in his response to Aro. “I don’t think that’s important right now. We’ll have a proper meeting once my granddaughter is returned, safe. And I’m not a new member, I’ve always been Bells’ father.” Charlie’s eyes, still a piercing red, didn’t leave Aro’s now shocked face.
“Well, then, I would like to welcome you regardless, Charlie,” Aro replied with his feathery voice. A few unfamiliar vampires almost rushed to Aro’s side, unsure of Charlie’s motives. It was clear to them that Charlie was a newborn, too. His eyes beamed brighter than theirs, oddly. They didn’t know whether or not Charlie had a gift and I could tell this made the Volturi members extremely uneasy. I didn’t mind, though.
I heard whispers and graceful footsteps coming in through the door behind us, but was too focused on Aro to turn to see who it was. I heard Alice softly call Carlisle’s name under her breath, then I turned to see Esme, Emmett, Rosalie and Carlisle being guided in by Caius. I brought my stare back to Aro, who was welcoming them all with a genuine-looking smile. I was more than thankful to see them.
I thought my heart was going to start beating again, somehow, when I saw Renesmee being carried into the room by a woman bodyguard. I wanted to run over to her and grab her, but I controlled myself, knowing that one wrong move could be fatal. We all instinctively balled our hands into fists and moved into a slight crouch, Edward and Rosalie letting out low growls.
Nessie reached out her little hand and called Jacob’s name. I smiled at her, hoping to relieve any fear she might have had, then mouthed the words “I love you” to her. She looked at all of us and said, “I love you, too.”
Rosalie reached her graceful hand out in Nessie’s direction and promised her that as soon as they were back home, she would teach her how to fix a car. Nessie smiled, then in her soft, innocent voice told us that she misses all of us. Edward promised her that she would be back home with us, soon.
Aro assured us of what we already knew. “We won’t hurt the precious little girl. That was never our intention. We were just hoping, that perhaps, instead of sacrificing the little girl, that you would be willing to sacrifice one of your most gifted family members.” His face seemed more serious than normal.
Edward’s voice was brash and toneless, making his response sound factual. “Actually, we won’t be sacrificing anyone. What you’ve done, and what you’re doing is wrong. You are here to keep the peace, and we do not want any trouble with you – but if you do not leave my family alone, we will do whatever it takes to make sure we won’t have to deal with you again.” Edward’s expression never changed, looked chiseled from stone.
The number of guards began to grow and were starting to build a half circle around Aro. They moved in closer once it became evident that we were becoming more and more impatient. I knew this wasn’t going in a good direction, and when Aro asked the guard to take Nessie away, I felt my jaw snap shut and my upper lip lift, exposing my top teeth. I only got to see her for what seemed like half a second, and watching her being taken away, by strangers, was unbearable.
Aro began again, speaking with confidence, knowing he found our one weakness. “I can see you are not willing to reason. We will keep the little girl hidden away, then. Perhaps you can return when you change your mind. Felix and Demetri will escort you back out. I am truly sorry for our last few meetings, they surely haven’t been on good terms. Let’s hope the next meeting will be.” He nodded at Carlise, then motioned for Felix and Demetri to take us away.
We weren’t leaving without Nessie, though. I didn’t have any other option. Rage burned up inside me; I felt like I had the strength to tear every vampire in that room to shreds. I shot one quick warning glance at Edward, then at Charlie and lunged at Felix’s neck, twisting his head audaciously while tearing chunks out of other parts of his body. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Edward tossing Demetri into the stone ground. I heard hisses and growls and thunder – like bangs, but didn’t have time to stop to look around me.
Hey everyone! I just wanted to let you all know that I have written and will be releasing two books (well, one is a novella). The novel-length one is titled ‘Willow: Coveted,’ and the novella is titled ‘My Darrling.’ For more information about my books, and to listen to playlists and see quotes, click here.
Thank you all so very much for always being here and for always being so encouraging. I hope I can continue to write stuff you want to read.