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NM Alternate Ending

Summary:
It's page 449 of the hard-back version of New Moon. Bella is running across the plaza in Italy. She has to get to Edward before the clock chimes. Before the Volturi do. His life depends on it. This time Bella stumbles and doesn't get there in time. What will happen to Edward now? Will Alice make it out of Volterra and keep her promise to Jasper? Will Bella be able to survive, thinking she's failed... alone in Volterra?


Notes:
So, you remember of course, in New Moon, Bella is running for her (and his) life toward the place where Alice saw Edward would be. It’s a race against time and she’s fighting the crowd…


6. Chapter 6

Rating 5/5   Word Count 1580   Review this Chapter

I followed Lazzaro into his living room and when he sat in his scruffy chair, I took a seat on the sofa. I wondered what sort of story I would hear. From his demeanor I suspected that it would be a round-about way of explaining his suspicions about the impossible creatures in his city. He obviously knew his knowledge was dangerous. I wondered how he knew, and had a feeling I was about to find out.

Turning in his chair he stared silently out of each of the windows through the thin window coverings, as if listening for an intruder. After a moment he turned back to me and smiled.

“My family has lived in Volterra for almost three hundred and fifty years. It’s said to be the safest city in the world.”

He paused, as if waiting for me to say something before he continued, to contradict him. I didn’t say anything.

He reached over to his book-case and pulled out the copy I had handled earlier. The bookmarked copy of Dracula.

“Have you read this book?” He fingered the pages carefully as he flipped slowly through them. He didn’t seem to see the words, his mind was far away.

“Not the whole thing.” I answered. Before I met the Cullens, I’d had no particular interest in vampires. After I met them, knowing that the book, like most vampire stories, was almost completly inaccurate, it held no interest for me.

“Mmmm.” Lazzaro closed the book and put it back. “I’ve read it many times, my uncle gave it to me.”

I just nodded, still wondering where this conversation was going.

“My uncle was very dear to me, he owned the book store and taught me how to run it. Did I tell you I own a book store?”

I shook my head. It seemed a fitting profession for him.

“Yes, it has been in the De Luca family since we first came to live in this city. Anyway, my uncle inherited it from my grandfather, and having no sons of his own, he taught me how to run it.

“There are many myths and stories about this city. My grandfather took a particular interest in the ones about,” again Lazzaro’s eyes darted to the windows and he swallowed. Lowering his voice to a whisper, he finally said the dreaded word, “vampires.”

I was very aware of my face. I tried to hold on to the politely interested expression I had been wearing. I tried not to let anything else show.

His voice returned to the regular volume and he continued, “My uncle and I used to laugh at his superstitions. My uncle would say, “Vecchio matto. Crazy old man.” Lazzaro was smiling at the memory, his smile slowly faded as he returned to the story.

“My grandfather died when I was 12, and my uncle and my mother were very, very sad. They went through his things and my uncle found a journal that belonged to my grandfather’s grandfather. He seemed to be even crazier than my own grandfather. In several entries he talked about “the people of stone” who were cold and hard and lived forever. He claimed that our city was their home, but they lived all over the world. We never, at least I never, found out where he got these ideas, but he passed them on through our family and that must have been where my grandfather’s superstitions came from.

“My uncle took a particular interest in the journal, and once in a while he would do research to try to discover where these stories originated. He had a theory that the myths about my great-great-grandfather’s ‘people of stone’ and the world’s myths about vampires shared the same foundation. Though, he could never seem to prove it. There were many great differences. My grandfather’s grandfather claimed that the ’people of stone’ did not sleep during the day, though they could not be seen in the sun. My uncle became so obsessed toward the end that I took to calling him the same names he had teasingly called my grandfather.

“When I was 15, my uncle mysteriously disappeared. The same day that he had been planning a tour of the castle here in Volterra. He thought the answers he sought could be found inside the walls of the castle, in the places that the public were not allowed to go.

“When he didn’t come back to the bookshop that day, I went to his house and found it empty. My mother reported him missing the next day, but after a six month investigation by the authorities, the case was closed.

“I continued an investigation of my own using my uncles notes and research. I decided that my best chance of finding answers would be to go on the same tour that my uncle had planned to go on. I had a feeling that he had disappeared inside the walls of Volterra.

“Even though I lived here my whole life, I had never been inside the castle. I took it for granted and it held no interest for me until my uncle’s disappearance. They give daily tours, of only the ground floor. It is mostly an art exhibit, and a gift-shop. I knew my uncle had planned to see the towers and the rest of the castle, he planned to separate himself from the rest of the tour to explore more thoroughly. I would have to do the same thing. “

Lazzaro seemed to be shivering now in his chair. Goose-bumps were rising on my own arms.

“I found my uncle.” He stated abruptly after a short pause. “I separated myself from my tour and climbed a staircase into a narrow hall with wood-paneling. I never made it very far into the castle. My uncle came through a doorway and came quickly toward me. I- I will never forget how he looked.” Lazzaro took a shaky breath and most of the color in his face had faded away.

“He was so beautiful. His skin was pale and his face, though still recognizable, was altered so that he looked more like a sculpture than a man… But his eyes…” His own were closed as though he were trying to block out the memory. He couldn’t seem to finish his description of his uncles eyes. He took a moment to recover and then he opened his eyes and looked at me. “I have never seen such terrible beauty.”

“H-how did you get out?” I spoke for the first time since he had began his story.

“If it had been anyone other than my uncle, I don’t think I would have. He didn’t come toward me, and he didn’t seem to be breathing. ‘Run Lazzaro!’ even his voice carried the beauty, ‘Get out of this place, go back to your mother and never come back here.’ I was afraid of him, but I wanted to run to him. He was the closest thing to a father that I had ever had.

“’But, Uncle,’ I took a step towards him and he leaned away from me, ’what happened to you? We thought you were dead.’

“He turned around as he spoke and went back through the door he’d come out of. But as he left he said, ’I am.’”

Lazzaro’s eyes had been focused on the wall above my head but now they lowered to observe my face. Again I tried to keep my emotions beneath the surface.

“You are not bothered by this tale?”

“It is very strange.” I answered quietly.

“Yes.” Lazzaro agreed. “I left the castle and went home. I didn’t tell my mother what I’d seen, there were parts of me that refused to believe it. That was the last time I saw my uncle.

“But about three years ago, I found this in my shop.” He reached for the book again and opened it. He folded back the plastic cover and showed me what was written on the inside cover-

“To my dear nephew on his 28th birthday.”

It was written very small in masculine cursive handwriting.

“My uncle wrote this.” Lazzaro stated while watching my face. “I would know this writing anywhere. We sell used books too, you see, so it could have been anyone’s, except that I know this writing. I believe he was telling me that he had become…one. Since the last time I saw him I have not pursued the knowledge that he sought, I am afraid of meeting the same end.”

“That is very wise.” I spoke carefully and emphasized each word. I didn’t want him to ask me about my own associations with vampires.

Lazzaro simply nodded, and set the book back on the shelf. “I think that book is mostly myth.” He concluded after a moment.

“Almost completely.” I agreed.

Lazzaro looked at me then and smiled. “Well, that is my scary story, how did you like it?”

“It was very interesting.” I stated.

“Have you heard a story like that before?” It was his roundabout way of asking if my story was similar.

“Not exactly like that.” I replied carefully.

“But perhaps some of the characters are similar?” He pressed.

“Perhaps.” I didn’t go into the details he was after.

He seemed satisfied with my answer, and realized I wouldn’t go any further. His eyes roamed to the clock on the wall. “Shall we call your father now?”

I felt my heart quicken, I didn’t understand how it was still beating, and my eyes were suddenly hot. I fought back the emotions that were trying to escape and I clung desperately to my calm façade. It took me a moment to find and control my voice.

“Yes.”