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Written before the publication of Breaking Dawn...MY ENDING TO THE TWILIGHT SAGA ----- "Edward, what's going on?" He didn't respond. His golden eyes were far away, like he wasn't seeing me. But then something flashed across his face. An expression of anger... "Matt...ew..." Edward managed to get out through clenched teeth, as if he were fighting something internally. "Or maybe he just takes control of your body. That might be it." Jacob had guessed. "Edward!" I reached out a hand to touch his cold skin, but I stopped--my hand hovering in the air between us. The cold distant look had consumed his face. He then spoke in a voice that had pain and fear shooting through me. "Goodbye, Bella," he hissed as he advanced towards me.
18. Chapter 17 - Shadows
Word Count 1879
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CHAPTER 17: Shadows
“I’m so sorry,” I moaned again, my head in my hands. We were in the Mercedes, driving always too fast southerly on the Alaskan highway.
“Bella, calm down,” Edward soothed from the black leather seat beside me. Tessa sat in the seat in front of me, and turned around so she could look at me.
“We chose to leave, Bella,” she assured me. “Don’t get all bent out of shape about it.” She smiled at me.
“I can’t believe she kissed you, Edward. That’s low,” Erin spoke from the seat beside Tessa who nodded in agreement. Edward didn’t respond, only looked out the window.
“Where are we going now, Carlisle?” Emmett asked from the seat behinds us, leaning between the headrests to speak. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw Carlisle’s golden eyes tighten.
“Perhaps we could go stay with Peter and Charlotte?” Jasper suggested. Carlisle shook his head.
“I don’t want to involve anyone else.”
“So are we going to find some place to hide then?” Esme asked quietly.
“Are we still picking flight?” Rosalie inquired, an edge in her voice.
“Until we’re forced into the fight response,” Edward’s voice was almost inaudible. He was still not looking away from the window.
“They why are we running?” Emmett demanded. “Why prolong the inevitable.”
“To prepare,” Carlisle replied coolly, not taking his eyes off the road.
“What more can we do?” Alice stuck her face between the headrests as well. Her angelic face was crumpled into an expression of frustration and hopelessness. “With Anthony in the guard, we have no idea what their next move will be. We have no clue what to prepare for!”
“Do you think they’ll send the entire guard?” Edward’s voice was still quiet—his face unreadable. Even as the next voice chimed in, I didn’t look away from his face. He had seemed different lately…but what was going on.
If only I could see what was inside his head for once…
“If they really do think we’re going to try and overthrow them,” Carlisle replied. The entire guard?
“Five that make up the family. That doesn’t include their guard…there were nine embers of the guard that were permanent, the last time we heard.” Alice had said, “Others are more…transitory. It changes. And many of them are gifted as well—with formidable gifts, gifts that make what I can do look like a parlor trick.” I shuddered at the thought.
“Tanya never told us much about the Volturi,” Erin’s voice interrupted my waking nightmares. “Or their guard for that matter.” In the rear-view mirror I saw Carlisle glance at Esme.
“Well, I suppose you are both Cullens now.” There was a slight pause before he began. “I was traveling in Italy when I first met them. Aro, Marcus, and Caius. They are now the head of the government that rules our kind. I tried to change their way of living and vise versa. Eventually, I left them in hopes of finding other who desired to live the same as me. But that story you have already heard.” He gestured at the rest of the Cullens sitting in the car. “Decades after I left them, those two joined them. Jane and Heidi.
“I don’t know the story of where those two came from—I haven’t had a chance to speak with Aro about it. We only saw each other once more after I left. But that’s beside the point. Shortly after Jane and Heidi joined them, they became what is today known as the Volturi. They gathered a guard of impossibly strong fighters.”
“Can you tell us about the fighters,” Tessa requested. “We want to know what we’re up against.” I held my breath, almost scared to find out the dark mysteries of the Volturi guard. Edward’s arm tensed instinctively around me. He no longer stared out the window, but his gaze was focused intensely on Carlisle.
“The one called Jane is in charge. She creates the illusion of intense pain. Then there is Alec. He possesses a similar power to hers, but of a smaller magnitude. Gabriel is one of their most treasured fighters. He has the ability to create fire.” My eyes widened.
“Fire?” I gasped.
“He can produce it and control it,” Edward explained in an emotionless tone.
So much power.
No wonder the entire immortal population were afraid of this guard.
“Who else is there?”
“There was one named Michael.”
“Was?” Alice was the one who answered.
“He disagreed with Jane.” She said no more on the subject, although the silence was a manifestation of the horrible images I could guess were flickering through everyone’s mind—myself included. “Aaron also was a guard. Same thing happened to him.”
“But Alice,” I said, “You told me there were nine permanent guards.”
“Oh, they were replaced,” she told me. I swiveled my head to look at her. In contrast to her surprisingly up-beat tone, her face was hard, eyebrows pulled down, hands clenching the seat’s shoulder rests, eyes staring straight ahead out the windshield.
“Matthew and Anthony,” I realized.
“Precisely,” Edward said through his teeth. There was a moment of silence before my personal angel spoke again. “You’d better tell them about the rest.” Carlisle nodded.
“I suppose I should.” He glanced at the two Alaskan vampires through the mirror. “Have you both heard of the Russian princess Anastasia?”
“Yes,” Erin complied. Tessa nodded. Carlisle paused and I gasped.
“Princess Anastasia is a vampire?!” My voice shot up an octave.
“And a guard of the Volturi.” Jasper’s voice had a subtle tone of an emotion I couldn’t identify.
“She has the ability to become invisible at will.”
“But-but…she lived so long ago. There’s a Disney movie about her!” I was vaguely aware that my jaw was hanging open. I felt a cold finger under my chin push it up. Edward chuckled grimly at my reaction.
“One of the few famous persons who have been turned.” Alice informed, “Actually, Vlad the Impaler was a real person…well, that is, until he was turned.”
“He was a real vampire. He had the ability to shape shift. The bat happened to be his favorite form…that’s where that particular myth came from,” she explained.
I didn’t know if my mind could take much more of this.
“Back on topic,” Carlisle called from the front seat and continued. “Eli is one of their more recent additions. He has power over animals and can make them do his bidding. There is also Elizabeth. Her power is not so miraculous as it is practical. She has the power to tell whether or not someone is lying. And she is always, always right. I’ve seen it in action.
“Stephen—one who has been with them almost as long as Alec—has incredible speed. Amazingly fast, even for our kind.” It was hard to wrap my mind around that concept. I could barely see when my new family moved at their normal pace. What would incredibly fast mean to them?
“That makes eight. With Felix and Demitri, that would have made the total number permanent guard ten.”
“Felix and Demitri haven’t been replaced yet,” Emmett assumed in a low voice from the seat behind us.
“It seems not.”
“So let me get this straight,” I mused, “We’ve got two torture devices, a blow torch, Mr. Soundproof, Invisi-girl, a puppeteer, Dr. Doolittle, Lightning in the flesh, and a lie detector?” Edward shook his head in amazement.
“You just came up with that?”
“It took a minute,” I admitted and he laughed.
“Bella, Jacob, are you two getting hungry?” Esme, always the mother, called to us.
“I’m getting a little hungry,” I admitted. I tried to remember all the way back to the Pop-Tart I’d had in Tanya’s kitchen while listening to Tessa’s story this morning.
Had that been only this morning?
“We’ll take the next exit then,” Carlisle announced. “Besides, we need to pick up a few supplies. We don’t know when it will no longer be safe to use the car.”
True to his word, Carlisle turned the car off the highway and we rolled into a small gas station off the main part of the truck-stop town.
“I’ll fill up the car. Edward, Alice, and Jasper, you go with Bella and Jacob to buy food,” Carlisle ordered. “I’d appreciate it if the rest of you would stay in the car. We want to attract as little attention as possible.”
We climbed out of the car and out onto the pavement. Well, the three Cullens almost flowed out in their gracefulness. Jacob was the only one doing the climbing. I sort of fell out.
We strode into the gas station.
“Alice and Jasper: spread out. Keep watch, all right?” The two departed with nothing more than a nod.
“Since when do I need someone to watch me?” Jacob complained, an indignant look played across his face as he crossed his arms over his chest. “Why can’t I go keep watch too? Think I can’t do as good a job as your bloodsucker siblings?”
“First of all, you need someone to watch you since last time I checked, you were still mortal.” The chill from the soda refrigerators made me shiver. I looked around, anxious to see if anyone was listening in on our conversation. But there was no one—the station was mostly deserted except for the clerk, who was an old woman who looked like she couldn’t have heard all the way to where we were standing if she wanted to. “And second because you still need to eat. So go pick out a sandwich or something so we can go.”
I sighed, turning my back on both of them to go to the sandwich refrigerators myself.
Quarters of pre-made submarine sandwiches tightly bundled in saran wrap were visible through the glass. I spotted a tag that read: “Turkey and Swiss”, opened the door and pulled one out. As I opened the door of the refrigerator, the frigid air blew out, mixing with the largely warmer air of the gas station and forming mist.
I was surprised at how thick the mist was.
I shut the door, and felt cold hand on my shoulder.
“I’m fine, Edward; I don’t need to be within three feet of you at all times.” I told him without turning around, although I was smiling to myself.
“Hello, again, Bella,” a high female voice that certainly did not belong to my husband said. Every muscle in my body locked into place.
I was frozen.
The hand on my shoulder stayed where it was, although another plucked a lock of my hair from behind my ear and lifted it, letting the strands fall individually back onto my shoulder.
“It’s so nice to see you again. Now, if I were you, I would do exactly as I say. That is, if you ever wish to see your beloved Edward again.”