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The More things Change

Summary:
The Cullen family undergoes many changes--some people leave, some people arrive. Marriages, babies, and imprints confuse the issue even more.


Notes:
This is a sequel to "Home"...you don't have to read that to totally understand this, but it would probably help alot! Yeah, I know I sound like I'm begging for reads, but I'm just trying to be helpful! So go read "Home" if you get confused...


2. Chapter 2: She Ain't Shirley Temple!

Rating 5/5   Word Count 2022   Review this Chapter

I hate going through customs...which probably explains another reason why I travel as little as possible. In fact, this trip to Italy was my first outside the US in decades. I’d been too busy with the Agency to really go overseas, and frankly I had no desire to even if I’d had the time. I mean, my mother would have liked to see me more often, but then she never traveled either. It was like pulling teeth to get her to leave Killarney. We talked on the phone a lot, though.

Ironically, here I was—1700 years old, and had been to Italy only once before...and that was back in 800 AD for Charlagmene’s coronation as Holy Roman Emperor. And I’d never been to Tuscany. Now, as Edward zipped along the Italian roads, I wondered why I’d never come here, as I marveled at how beautiful it was (well, I marveled when I wasn’t wincing at the speed we were moving...to this day, I don’t know why vampires feel the need to drive so fast!). If any of you haven’t been to Italy, and Tuscany in particular—go! It truly is beautiful! I suddenly had the desire to try some wine.

On the drive up, Edward and Jasper explained the plan that the Cullens had hastily thrown together. Actually, it wasn’t too bad. Certainly not the action packed, hit-and-run tactics I (and Emmett, frankly) had been hoping for. Edward and Jasper were to return Felix to the Volturi, while I waited with Emmett and Rosalie, and monitored the situation from a distance through Edward’s thoughts. The Cullens figured (and Alice’s vision confirmed) that Aro wouldn’t really let anything happen to Edward and Jasper, because of his friendship with Carlisle.

I, however, wasn’t too sure about that. But I didn’t bother saying so—the Cullens could be very...inflexible, once they’d made up their collective minds. Which was admirable, to a point. However, inflexibility could be a bad thing, too—I’d seen millions of acres of farmland flooded because the Army Corps of Engineers didn’t release enough water from dams because of their inflexible "Flood plans". Oh yeah—"flood" was the perfect description for what they caused with their "inflexibility".

Anyway, we finally arrived at Volterra. I’m not much on medieval architecture, but even the city itself was something to see. Unfortunately, it was raining, which was either good or bad, depending on how you looked at it. Bad, because I hated rain, and it would make sightseeing harder. Good, because the Cullens didn’t need to cover up. Bad, because that meant the Volturi Guards didn’t have to cover up either. Good, because it would hide our scents better. Personally, I think vampires rely on their noses too much. I prefer to use my eyes and ears, But to each their own, I guess.

Edward and Jasper went on ahead with Felix. They told us where to find the entrance to the Volturi headquarters. I figured that after so long, the Volturi must have several entrances to their lair. But this was the one that Edward was familiar with, that he and Bella and Alice had used when they were here last.

We were to wait ten minutes, then go to the Square near the alley that lead to the entrance. Edward, Jasper, and Felix disappeared around a corner. Emmett and Rosalie were murmuring quietly, and smiling. Rosalie giggled.. Good lord, did they never stop fawning over each other? Yech! They were worse than Edward and Bella! I shook my head. Well, who was I to look down on them?

I noticed a sidewalk cafe and wine shop across the street from us, and decided to go indulge my wine-tasting desire. I told the lovebirds where I was going, and headed over. It had indoor seating as well, which was a good thing because of the rain. The room was rather full and noisy, and filled with smoke, making the interior rather dim and murky. I sat at a table near the door, and ordered a glass of wine. The waiter looked at me a little funny, then handed me a wine menu and walked off. When he returned, I gave him my order, which he brought promptly. It was delicious! I quickly drained my glass, and was glad the waiter had decided to leave the bottle.

As I poured myself a second glass, I noticed a slight commotion. Most of the patrons were staring at the doorway. At first, I had an irrational fear that they were staring at me. But then I realized they were looking at someone or something behind me. Most of the men were smiling rather stupidly, while the women looked jealous or angry. I glanced back and immediately understood the differing reactions.

A woman stood just inside the cafe, a little to the left of the door. She swept the room with a gorgeous, yet somehow bored, smile on her beautiful face. Her pale skin seemed to glow ever so slightly in the dim lights of the room. She had long, reddish-brown hair, and her eyes reminded me of Maria’s--sort of violet. But the color didn’t look quite right. She was dressed in such a manner that I would be inclined to describe with a rude word...let’s just say I could understand why all the men in the room were practically drooling, and say that her outfit didn’t leave much of her breathtaking figure to the imagination.

She stared at me, her bored, almost phony smile not faltering, but I detected a slightly puzzled look in her eyes. Edward had filled me in on some of the Volturi guard during the flight, what they looked like, their names, special powers some of them had, specific duties of some. So, from his information, I figured this must be the one called Heidi, the one they sent out for food. It struck me as odd—kind of like saying, "Heidi dear, would you run down to the deli and pick up some sandwiches for us?" Odd, and deeply disturbing. And her name seemed incongruous, considering that she was a vampire. "Heidi" was a nice family movie, after all, and this creature standing in the doorway seemed to mock the wholesomeness of it. And she certainly was no Shirley Temple, either.

I sighed, shook my head, and turned back to my drink. I think it must have rattled her that a man was actually shrugging off her beauty, because the next thing I knew, she was sitting down across from me. I sighed again. She flashed her gorgeous smile at me. I smiled back—actually, it was more of a wince, because I was annoyed. Why couldn’t I just enjoy a nice bottle of wine in peace? No, I had to be face to face with a stinking, albeit totally hot, vampire! Gah...

"Hello," she breathed, in a smooth, velvety voice as she leaned closer to me. I cringed. Did she somehow know what we were up to? Had Edward and Jasper been intercepted or something? Then I relaxed as she continued talking.

"Welcome to Volterra. You don’t look like a typical tourist, but if you’d like, I could show you around a little."

Smiling, I said, "You don’t sound Italian."

She smiled back. "No, but I’ve lived here for several years."

"So, what do you do here in Volterra, then?" I couldn’t resist asking.

Her eyes faltered for a split second, quickly recovering her confidence. "I work in procurement," she replied smoothly. I had to stifle a laugh at that—procurement...what a nice way of saying, "I round up people for my Masters and friends and I to eat." Try putting that on a resume!

"So what brings you here?" she asked. Now it was my turn to come up with a nice sounding reason for being here. "I’m a corporate courier, and I’m just returning a package to a company here in town. I’ll only be around for a few hours."

She pouted. "That’s too bad! I was hoping I’d be able to take you on a little tour of the city. Volterra is a lovely old town, full of unexpected surprises." Yeah, you can say that again! Then I wondered if I was to be a part of one of those big groups Edward had told me about, or if I was just a dinner for her? Not that it mattered. We had a job to do, and we all wanted to get back—Edward so he could marry Bella, Jasper to start his new life, me to see Alice again, Emmett and Rosalie to—well, to do whatever it is they do...besides being all loveydovey. I guess Emmett likes video games, and Rosalie likes to work on cars (which is something no one suspects when they first meet her, I assure you!).

I glanced at my watch. Time to go. "I don’t mean to be rude—especially to a woman as beautiful as yourself—but I really must go. I have to be somewhere in a few minutes." We both stood. She smiled again. "Well, that is too bad. But perhaps we will meet again before you have to leave the city?" She moved away from the table, and further into the room. As she passed, I said, "Oh, you can count on it...Heidi."

I saw her back stiffen, and she spun towards me, shock marring her gorgeous features. "What...? How did—who are...?" She sputtered. I grinned as she strode back in my direction, an angry frown on her face now. "Who are you?" she hissed quietly, our faces inches apart. Still grinning, I whispered, "You’ll find out soon enough, dear girl. Now—you’d better not keep those old men of yours waiting...they’re probably starved by now!’ And with that, I turned and went outside. I heard her following me, as I’d hoped she would. The rain was letting up, and it looked like the sun was starting to break through the clouds.

I turned back to her. Her smile was gone, and had been replaced by a look which was a mixture of anger and fear. Fear not so much of me as it was fear at my knowing who she was and whom she worked for. "Now, now—let’s not make a scene! I mean, wouldn’t that break your Masters’ precious rules?

She stood near me again. "It’s also against their rules to let a human live who knows about us," she hissed again, a smirk on her face. I shook my head. "What is it with you people? Do I look that much like a human to you?"

She leaned closer and sniffed. "You—you don’t smell like one of us. I smell blood, I hear your heart beating." The she gave me a puzzled look. "And yet, you don’t smell totally human, either." I grinned. Suddenly, she inhaled, and her eyes grew wide. I think it had just dawned on her. Vampires hate Damphirs. Well, at least the feeling was mutual in this case. "I should just tear you to pieces here and now!" she whispered.

"Um, those rules, remember? Don’t worry—you’ll get your chance soon enough! Now go back and tell those old men to be expecting a visitor! And I’ll see you later!’’ She snarled, and hurried off down the street. I watched her go. Now I’d done it. They’d be watching for me, and it would be harder for me to get inside their lair now. But, so be it—more of a challenge that way.

Emmett crossed over to me. He and Rosalie had seen (and heard, of course) all of my exchange with Heidi. Emmett frowned as he watched her hurry off, then turned his frown to me. "What are you doing? This isn’t how the plan was made! We were supposed to wait outside while Edward and Jasper took care of returning Felix!"

"Don’t worry about it," I told him. "You two keep to the plan, and wait here. With any luck, I can make it there before her." Which I knew was a long shot—luck and I didn’t get along well with each other. But I didn’t tell him that. "If Edward and Jasper aren’t back in about 15 minutes, come on the double." I turned and headed in same the direction that Heidi had gone.