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Burn Beautiful

Summary:
Spoiler warning. Continuation of New Moon. Being a vampire comes with it's own problems: newfound bloodlust, untried strength, neverending fights between natural vampire will and human conscience. Edward and Bella's relationship takes a completely new turn as challenges fly their way. Namely, a pack of furious werewolves and a certain vampire named Victoria, who's still set on vengeance and, this time, gains some powerful followers determined to end Bella, vampire or not, and do as much damage to Forks as possible.


Notes:
I just finished New Moon and I know I SHOULD wait until Eclipse comes out, but I had to do something to pass the time! Especially since I had about a million ideas running through my head, mainly around how much could happen once Bella IS a vampire. What happens with Victoria, werewolves, Volturi? What's her special ability, if she has one at all? How does she go about realizing her ability? How does she deal with vampire instincts? What about her parents? AHH, idea overflow! I've outlined this entire story and it's turning up to be pretty much novel long, which is exciting. I'm not new to writing, I've just never done this particular "fandom" before and I hope I do it justice.


17. Chapter 17

Rating 3.6/5   Word Count 3170   Review this Chapter

Ch. 17: Ultimatums

Grey clouds swirled into an ominous black as the wind whistled, spreading the scorching fire as rain turned into hail. An electrifying streak of light tore across the sky, illuminating the barren land and rapidly decaying forest surrounding us. Everything flickered black, blue, orange, and red.

"Dorian."

Carlisle's voice was a terrible whisper and the hoarse sound echoed over and over again. Dorian, Dorian, Dorian, Dorian.

The eight of us stood together in rigid alert, each of us facing a different direction. My hair whipped across my face and fanned out in a heavy gust of wind. The thin, black shirt I was wearing was already soaked and plastered against my skin.

There was an explosion and another pit of fire formed several yards away from us.

A voice fluttered by my ear. "It's not real."

From the corner of my eye, I saw Rosalie next to me. The sinews of her neck were pulled taught and the dangerous look on her face was marred by fear. Her hair was blowing in the wind, too, stringy and clinging everywhere. She caught me looking and shot her hand out to grasp mine.

Her bone-crushingly strong grip was reassuring and I squeezed her hand just as tightly.

Another flash of lightening shot from a dark cloud and hit a tall tree. The gunshot noise of bark cracking as the tree tumbled to the floor filled the air, accompanied with the sudden flare of fire that shot up from its leaves.

From somewhere off to the side, I heard Carlisle. His voice was loud and demanding; something I'd never heard from him before.

"Dorian!" he thundered. I twisted my head and saw Carlisle's head pointed to the sky as he shouted. His blonde hair was soaked across his forehead and for a brief moment, I wondered if I'd ever seen him in a movie before. He was beautiful in his evident anger.

A gust of wind knocked down several more trees in response to his cry. There was a soft cackle that permeated the storm in surround sound; it came from everywhere and nowhere.

My teeth clenched and I felt a shiver roll down my spine.

Carlisle's lips rolled up and he let out the most powerful growl I've ever heard in my life. The sound of it overtook the wind's howling and the storm's incessant pounding.

A whispered voice answered him this time: "Not quite the reception I was expecting from you, Carl."

It was a lovely, silky voice with traces of a British accent hidden within its depths. It was a terrifying, saccharine voice that carried the undertones of a threat. It made my teeth freeze over.

"Show yourself, Dorian," Carlisle demanded. The satin voice chuckled.

"As you wish," it agreed.

Then there was blackness.

Pitch black.

There were rapid, sharp intakes of breath.

A candle in the distance flickered on for an instant then blew out again, leaving us in darkness.

"Edward?" I whispered and heard my voice echo in the abyss. I reached out blindly in his direction.

Rosalie's fingers tightened their hold on my opposite hand.

"Edward?"

There was a shuffling sound, then a familiar cold hand caught hold of my arm.

"I'm here."

His voice was hushed and I could see faint traces of white mist flutter from his mouth as he whispered.

"Oh, thank god," I gasped silently, clutching to him desperately. "What's happening?"

"Dorian's playing games," was the soft-spoken response. I heard Carlisle clear his throat impatiently somewhere a few yards away from where I stood.

"I don’t have time for this, Dorian," he spoke evenly with forced calmness. "We need to talk."

When the voice laughed, I nearly jumped. Whoever it was sounded like he was right behind me. Goosebumps rose from the back of my neck.

"So talk," the voice said cheerfully. "I'm all ears."

"I'd prefer to talk to a face."

Another laugh.

"As you wish."

There was a simmering noise and very faintly, I saw the outline of a translucent head start to solidify as the total darkness lifted into slight shadows here and there.

The hair was dark - a jet black - and set in short spikes pointing all directions. It was offset by the paper-whiteness of his flawless skin; skin that shimmered at first before settling to an opaque white. His forehead was defined, his eyes a piercing red, and his cheekbones so angular they created dark hollows in his cheeks. His lips were curved up into a sardonic smirk that seemed so familiar to him that I suspected it was an expression he wore quite often.

There was no doubt that he was one of the most attractive men I've ever come across. The most attractive vampire I've ever come across.

And that was saying something.

"Is this more to your liking?" he asked pleasantly, his glowing head floating closer to Carlisle, casting a warm, hazy light over his features.

Carlisle didn't answer and in the dim sparkle, I could see that his mouth was set in a straight line.

"Ah," Dorian's smirk grew. "You want all of me, correct?"

"Not so much you as I want to see the others you are with," Carlisle responded.

"You ask so much of me, mate," Dorian purred, oozing charm as the rest of his body started to appear. "But since I'm feeling generous today - "

Behind him, four other bodies popped up. I recognized Felix and Victoria instantly. They were standing slightly behind two unfamiliar vampires and the second my eyes slid to Victoria's face, she turned and locked her glare on me.

"More to your liking?" Dorian asked, his white teeth glittering.

Carlisle nodded as Victoria snarled and leapt towards me. Felix grabbed her and held her back, whispering something incomprehensible into her ear.

The other two vampires - a male and a female - looked at her reaction with something close to disdain. The male had chocolate brown hair that he wore tied in a loose ponytail near his neck and a prominent brow that hovered over inset eyes. His nose was straight and his mouth was unsmiling. All emotions were wiped from his face entirely.

The female, on the other hand, had golden-blonde hair that cascaded to her waist in a waterfall of waves. Everything about her spoke class, including the condescending sneer spread across her features.

Adrien and Iris, I noted to myself.

Dorian, the best-looking and no-doubtedly their leader, surveyed all eight of us slowly. There was a lazy smile curled on his lips and by the way he leaned back in his heels, I got the distinct feeling that he was enjoying himself immensely.

"So tell me, love," he spoke smoothly, eyeing Rosalie up and down. Her hand grasped mine tighter still, threatening to pop my knuckles, as a low growl rumbled from Emmett's throat. His smile widened. "Can I call you 'love'?"

"No," Emmett snarled in response. Dorian laughed and gave him a dismissive glance, not caring that Emmett towered over him.

"So, love, tell me. Why do you live the way you do?"

Rosalie didn't answer him at first and he took a little step closer to her.

"What do you mean?" she asked, her voice shaking. I bit my tongue, hating how Dorian could make such a strong person like Rosalie shiver in her boots.

He laughed. "I mean," he paused, sweeping his eyes over her figure again, "Why such a beautiful girl such as yourself would choose to live off… dirty animals. Tell me, pet, because I've tried so hard to understand and I just don't know!"

His voice was light and lilting, his smooth accent more audible.

"Because it's wrong to hurt innocent humans," she hissed, straightening her back.

"Oh, I agree with you absolutely," he nodded, eyes twinkling. "That's why I only eat murderers and thieves, myself."

Carlisle cut in. "It isn't our place to hurt humans. Any humans. Even if somebody breaks the law, that's why we have the American justice system."

"Oh, it's a bloody shit system is what it is," Dorian said conversationally, rocking from his heels to the balls of his feet and back. "I take it upon myself to … help them out a bit. I see it as my civic duty to the government and the world."

"That isn't right," Carlisle shook his head.

"And why the hell not?"

"Humans should not get hurt because of us. It's wrong and you know that."

Dorian shrugged. "Maybe so, but I never understood why. They're not better than us, they're just weaker. Fact is, most of them deserve to get eaten. The lot of them are nothing but a waste of space."

"That doesn't make it right."

"Should I care?" Dorian raised both eyebrows. "I lost my sense of right and wrong a good while ago, mate. It's high time you get off that high horse of yours and embrace who you are."

"I'll never be a murderer," Carlisle shot back, growling slightly.

Dorian paused, cocking his head to the side. "Let me tell you what I know about humans," he smirked. "They're a bunch of backstabbing, lying, thieving bitches, and that's not even the all of it. The way I see it, the less of 'em, the better off the sodding world is."

There was a frustrated sigh coming from Victoria as Carlisle opened his mouth to respond.

"Can we get on with it?" she snapped impatiently. Iris spun around and hissed at the red-headed vampire, baring her teeth. Victoria reluctantly backed down.

Carlisle laughed humorlessly. "You're wrong," he told Dorian as he chuckled. "You're so wrong."

"Am I?" Dorian shrugged, cool as ice. "Maybe. Maybe not. I stopped caring about all that rot by the time the bloody depression rolled about. Right, wrong, its all the same in the end, yeah? The weaker ones will end up six feet under and the stronger ones will prevail. Its the way of the world, really. Who am I to challenge that?"

He straightened and grinned widely. "But enough of that sentimental bullshit. Lets stop dilly-dallying and cut to the chase, shall we?"

Carlisle lifted his head slightly but didn't say anything.

"Look, you people seem like a decent lot," Dorian said, glancing at the rest of us. "So I'll strike you a deal. Stay out of our way and we'll let you live."

Edward, Jasper, and Emmett snarled in response as Carlisle calmly answered, "That sounds tempting but unfortunately, its out of the question."

A shrill voice joined in with a resounding: "We will not let them live, Dorian!"

Dorian whipped his head around to send a ferocious roar in Victoria's direction as she leapt up furiously.

"Iris," he snapped.

Iris, who was looking quite bored up until that point, lifted her head and a slow smirk slid across her face. Just as Victoria was about to make her way to Dorian, Iris threw the most brutal and inhuman glare at her.

Victoria froze. Literally.

I gasped, surprised at the stony expression on her face.

"Hey, there's no need for - " Felix's protests died frozen on his lips as Iris glared at him, too.

"That was fun," Iris giggled happily at her handiwork before smiling at Dorian. "Carry on."

"Thanks, love. You're a doll," he blew her a kiss. A faint frown appeared on Adrien's mouth, but he did nothing to claim his rightful place next to Iris.

Dorian turned back to Carlisle. "Now, what did you say about my proposal?"

"You heard me," Carlisle returned steadily. "It's out of the question."

"Ah, that's what I thought you said," Dorian nodded. He lifted a hand and from the far distance, a small flash of lightening danced down from the sky. "And why is that? You have nothing to do with the people of this town."

"Quite the contrary," Carlisle said. "We have everything to do with the people of this town."

"Is that so?"

"It is."

Dorian rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "And here I was, thinking you only had to do with one particular person in this town." There was a slight pause before he continued. "But I suppose that person is not quite human anymore, is she?"

"What do you want with Bella," Edward growled from beside me. I tugged on his arm, trying to pull him back as he pushed his way to Carlisle's side. He shook me free and settled himself in front of me.

"Ah, Bella," Dorian's eyes lit up. "That was the name. I kept forgetting. Now, where is this Bella that Vicky here can't shut up about?"

He turned slightly to regard the frozen Victoria standing a yard or so behind him. She kept staring that stony stare of hers and he chuckled.

Edward tensed up as Dorian skillfully sidestepped him and came to a stop right next to me.

His blood-red eyes glued to mine and I felt my lungs collapse on me. The force of his gaze was strong and I nearly fell over by the intensity of it.

"I - " I swallowed and closed my eyes. "I'm Bella."

There was a long pause and I could feel his eyes raking down my form even with my eyelids blocking my vision.

"I see," he murmured quietly. My eyes fluttered open as his eyes were making their downward travel, lingering at a few choice body parts. "Pretty little creature, too."

Edward's growl grew to epic proportions and Dorian just laughed.

"Down boy," he said, rolling his eyes in Edward's direction. "I'm not interested. I tend to go for … tall blonds." He cast a hungry at Rosalie and it was Emmett's turn to growl.

"My, my," Dorian laughed dryly. "Do I sense hostility?"

"Get the hell out of our town," Emmett snarled, pushing Rosalie behind him. Her hand fell from my grasp. "Or we'll make you get out."

Dorian kept laughing. "Tough talk, mate. Pity I can have you incapacitated in a second flat. You people are such fun to talk to. I would hate to have you all dead."

Edward stared at him.

"You're bluffing," he said flatly.

"Are you sure of that?" Dorian raised a skeptical eyebrow. A condescending smirk appeared on Edward's lips.

"Yes, actually," he shrugged. "Your exact thoughts were 'not sure how exactly I would kill them, but they don't have to know that, do they?'"

Dorian seemed at a loss for words and for a second, my heart flared for Edward, triumphant.

Before I could smile, Dorian whistled.

"Impressive," he clapped. Edward's smirk faltered slightly and I recognized the dawning apprehension on his face before Dorian spoke his next words. "But how's this? We freeze your ass before you take a fucking step. Am I bluffing now, Eddie?"

Iris stepped forward with an excited look on her face, but Dorian stopped her with a lift of the hand.

Edward didn't say anything.

For a drawn out moment, there was complete silence from both parties. I took that time to look at Victoria. Her eyes seemed to be fixed on me and Dorian at the same time, but everything about her was stiff. Unmoving.

I shuddered. She resembled a statue - beautiful, stately, angry in all her glory.

It was haunting, the way her glazed-over eyes could contain so much hate.

Snap out of it, I thought absently as I turned back to Dorian, who had started talking again.

"Tell you what. You seem like good people. I like you all, I really do. So I'm willing to give you a few … well, options."

Carlisle seemed skeptical. "Go on."

"Option A: you give me the girl and we'll leave peacefully," he proposed, smiling winningly at all of us. "It makes no difference to me. There are plenty of other towns to terrorize besides good old Forks."

"No," Edward hissed.

"Option B: refuse to give us Bella and we'll paint this town red," Dorian shrugged nonchalantly. "And we'll get the girl anyway."

Edward was silent. I reached out to place my hand on his back and realized his entire body was shaking. My fingers clutched to the back of his shirt and I moved closer to him.

Dorian wasn't done. "And of course, there's a Option C. You see, me, Adrien, and Iris love a good game. We'll challenge you to a duel. Even teams, even people. You win, we leave. We win, well…"

His voice trailed off.

Felix and Victoria - who had somehow fallen out of their trance and were huddled next to each other - looked upset.

Edward opened his mouth, but Alice beat him to it.

"How about choice D," she said perkily, smiling from ear to ear. Her eyes, on the other hand, were dark and narrowed. "None of the above?"

Dorian took a moment to look her over and shook his head.

"Why don't you sleep on it, yeah?" he suggested. "We'll come back next week. Same place, same time."

Before any of us could get another word in, he snapped his fingers and suddenly, the entire world disappeared and we were back in the living room.

Things had somehow gotten so much worse.

Author's Note: Good news and bad news.

Good news: I got accepted to Columbia University! My first choice! (screams, yells, dances, etc) I'm so happy!

Bad news: The financial aid package I received was close to nothing and Columbia doesn't offer much merit-based scholarships, so right now, I'm going to be incredibly busy with applying to as many outside scholarships as I can find. And … that means that I'll have even less time to write. I understand that people really want to see this story finished - believe me, I do, too - but I ask that everyone understand that my real life comes before my writing.

I've received great reviews from everybody and I'm incredibly grateful. Reviews are very addictive and many times extremely helpful. But at the same time, I've received reviews that really pressure me. Now, I really don't mind the "Update soon!" or "UPDATE! I wanna see what happens next!" reviews because its all in good fun and sometimes, the little push helps me move along. But then, I get reviews and messages bordering on insulting.

I really don't take these seriously, but here's a general answer to all of those reviewers: I have a life. A real, bona fide life that can at one moment be amazing and at another moment throw curveballs at me. I have to worry about graduation, getting money for school, maintaining my grades - and personally, my life comes before my fanfiction.

That's all.

Hopefully, the next chapter'll be up… within a month. I'm sorry, but that's all I'm promising.

And thanks for the great reviews and I hope you guys keep reviewing!

And yay! I got into Columbia!! (I still check my acceptance letter every so often to make sure it still says "congratulations" and I didn't just dream it up. Haha)