Edward loves three things in life: His wife, his family, and his music. When the last of the three is in question, Bella cannot imagine a more superior being to exist. But when the master among pianists appears at their doorstep, Bella can only observe in awe as Edward is tutored by this grandiose, though slightly eccentric vampire. Music has never seemed so complicated before. Yet: Are musical notes really all this man weaves together, or is there something more involved? Something... Romanian?
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13. The Struggle
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The fineness was of advantage now, however. Gerasymenko could soon discern a small hut sitting among dead branches and leaves. As he drew closer, the first sounds reached his ears.
They were the sounds of struggle.
The minute Nessie did it she realized it may have been a bad idea.
As she'd stood there, a few short footfalls away from her former prison, alone and without any sort of orientation, Nessie had grasped that she was actually worse off than before. In the hut she'd at least had a roof above her head and a source of information. Here she was really alone.
And then there were her parents and – she dare not think of it – her fiancé, Jacob. As far as she knew they could be anywhere out there, fighting for her while she wandered around in the forest, completely lost. What would they think if they learned that the person they'd been trying to save had ran away from her captor like a coward instead of taking him face on?
Her mother had always been a hero to Nessie. She had some big shoes to fill. She might as well start now, she thought.
So instead of running of into the woods, Nessie turned around and stalked back into the hut.
She found her captor by the window. First she was afraid that he'd already seen her and that she'd lost the element of surprise, but as she drifted closer she noticed that he had his eyes pressed tightly shut. In a moment of frightening déjà-vu Nessie recognized the vampire's expression immediately. He'd looked just like that when he'd first pushed her onto that awful couch.
When she'd asked him about it later, he'd confessed that he had been creating an illusion.
The sudden horrifying illumination brought Nessie to a halt. Of course he'd created an illusion again. An illusion of her.
So that had been his plan! He had told her to get lost so he could concentrate on that damn illusion. He'd known that she wouldn't find her way through the woods and would get herself lost in no time. And once he was done, he intended to come after Nessie and take her down like all those sick serial killers in horror movies. And all this would happen without her parents finding out because they thought she was already safe and sound—thanks to the illusion.
It probably aroused him to know that she was as helpless as a wild animal before him.
Nessie felt adrenaline flood her limbs. She no longer felt afraid – only angry. She was angry that she'd been thrown around like a rag doll, that she'd been too weak to defend herself. It suddenly angered her to realize just how dependent she was on her friends and family.
But she was Bella's daughter, damn it! Her mother's blood flowed in her veins. If Bella had been a hero when she was only human, why couldn't she? Nessie was half vampire. She'd prove she was more than a wild animal by saving herself.
So Nessie looked around the room for a weapon – any weapon – and spotted an old, rusty pipe in one corner. It had been yanked off by someone a long time ago, as the cobwebs ascertained, but looked strong enough to at least give someone a hard blow on the head. It would only serve as a distraction… the rest would be up to her teeth.
She lifted the pipe silently, not even daring to blow the spiders away, and crept closer to the illusionist who was still positioned in front of the window and oblivious to all that was happening in the room.
She crept closer and closer until only two feet separated her from him. She stopped breathing.
Carefully, Nessie raised the weapon over her head and counted to three.
Putting all her force into the swing, Nessie brought the pipe down. It connected with the illusionist's head with a loud clonk.
The illusionist twirled around, shock and disbelief plain across his face. "Wha – you!" he cried, his eyes suddenly blazing. "You idiot! I'm doing this for you, dimwit… unthankful bitch!"
And somewhere miles away, the black car that Gerasymenko was apparently driving disappeared into thin air, a Romanian noticed and called out to his friend, and a group of vampires was left puzzled in a locked car.
The instant the Romanians left us alone in the car, I let my frustration and fear take over everything.
"It's just a car, for heaven's sake!" I screamed at Edward, who was struggling with the handle of the locked door. "Punch your way through it!"
Edward stopped his scuffling and looked at the metal with a miserable look on his face. "But… but this is a limited edition Fire-Flier Brabus Smart! They're so rare that even I couldn't acquire one… not even illegally! This is the first real one that I've seen…"
I could not believe my ears.
"It's a car!" I screamed and made a dive for the door. With one loud ripping sound it fell to the ground, leaving an inviting hole in its place. I leaped out angrily. "Come with me if you want to. Of course, you can also stay here and try to fix the car… providing you don't mind me ignoring you for the next couple of centuries."
Thankfully, Edward didn't hesitate. He was by my side before I could finish my warning. "Don't be silly," he said, quickly overtaking me. "I don't care about the car."
"Wait!" Alice shouted from behind us, straining to match her pace to ours. Her voice was panicked, even scared. It made me slow down enough to let her catch up.
Her face was no more promising than her tone. "We… Nessie... I-I can…"
I couldn't make out anything from her stammering, but Edward paled immediately. His horrorstruck expression made my heart sink to my knees. I could hardly hold back my scream.
"What," I spoke through my teeth, emphasizing each word, "is it?"
Edward had slowed down for a second, but now he was far ahead, sprinting across the road towards the forest. I could not see his face, but his shoulders were squared and his thigh muscles tight—he was afraid…
Alice grabbed my wrist, suddenly running faster than I would ever have thought possible of her small legs. Even I would have had a hard time catching up—if it weren't for that gripping fear that powered my legs more efficiently than adrenaline.
She spoke as she ran. "I've been trying to search for Nessie all day. Mostly I could just see her sitting in some hut with another vampire. There was no way to tell where exactly she was being held. So I just kept looking, hoping he would make a mistake… and he did." My hands rolled into fists. "Things have been blurred for the last half an hour. The visions changed so quickly that I had no hope of unraveling them. But now someone finally made a clear decision."
Alice had to pause for a moment as she dodged a branch. My legs automatically sped up; even the moist forest floor could not slow them down. Edward's back suddenly didn't seem so far away. "What decision?" I whispered, knowing she could still hear me. "Tell me, Alice. Now."
She gulped. "Nessie… she chose to attack her captor. They're fighting right now."
To Gerasymenko there were always only two possible outcomes: Either he would succeed and take the pot, or someone else—not he— would mess up and ruin everything. The latter alternative was happening right now.
He cursed as he darted over the small lawn to the doorway. The struggle sounded deadly, especially for the furniture—the unmistakable sound of a chair being ripped apart reached his ears (he'd had experience with furniture-breaking not too many centuries ago, thanks to a not-too-gentle former lady friend who'd felt betrayed for one reason or the other). Once he got to the doorway, other sensations came over him: the smells of two different vampires, one more appetizing than the other.
Gerasymenko stepped inside. The view before him almost made him sigh.
Renesmee was lying on her back, a rusty, old pipe in her right hand. She had landed on a wooden chair, which had ripped in half at impact. Her face was shocked and wild. On the other side of the room, the illusionist stood with his arms raised, his knees bent, and his teeth bared. Both were growling.
People were impossible. The pianist was tired of them.
"You can stop now, Alfons. And please, don't expect to receive your salary." He strode to the middle of the room. His presence was only then first acknowledged.
"Pan Gerasymenko?" Alfons quickly dropped his arms and straightened his back. "I thought we were supposed to meet somewhere else."
"Consider this a trial," Gerasymenko answered coldly, "which you failed. Did I give you orders to attack her, Alfons?"
A shadow fell over Alfons' eyes and he looked enraged yet again. "I didn't attack her," he hissed, gesturing towards the helpless girl on the floor. "She attacked me. I had to defend myself."
Gerasymenko huffed. "In that case you were careless." He turned his back to Alfons and offered a hand to the young girl.
Renesmee looked at it like it had been infested by the swine flu.
"Oh please, dear girl, don't be unreasonable," Gerasymenko scoffed, but drew his arm back. "I arrange you to be freed—you return to attack my assistant. I offer you a hand—you reject me. I see you do not want my assistance at all."
But before he could step away, a hard hand caught his shoulder. With a loud snarl it was twisted back.
Gerasymenko fell back with a bewildered cry and caught a glimpse of his assaulter—Edward Cullen, his eyes dark like the fires of Hell.
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