Leah used the key to open the front door. She hadn’t been home in over a month, so it was very strange to be back. Her only purpose here was to get Kiralee.
“Kira,” she sang, closing the door behind her. “We gotta go! C’mon…get up!”
She didn’t hear anything.
Ascending the stairs, she yelled again, “Kiralee!”
She pounded on the door. Getting frustrated.
Listening in, she heard the ruffling of sheets and the opening and closing of clothing drawers.
“I’m coming, I’m coming,” Kiralee mumbled, flitting around like a confused bird. “I’m going to take a quick shower.”
“You better hurry! The Cullens are here—there in the meadow near their old house with Sam and the pack. Everyone’s waiting on you.”
“I know, I know,” Kira mumbled again, struggling to keep her eyes open. She undressed and fast as she could—which, all things considered, wasn’t fast at all—and stepped into the steaming shower. The water droplets splashed on her russet skin and wavy hair. She’d straightened it usually, but it went back to the wave when it got wet. Her center bangs soaked against her forehead.
“Kira!” she heard Leah’s voice call, muffled through the two closed doors. “Get a move on!”
“Coming!” she called back, more alert now, thanks to the heat. She turned off the water.
Drying her hair and sliding into a pair of ripped jeans and a yellow polo, she finished getting dressed and followed Leah outside, where she proceeded to climb on Leah’s already phased back and held her clothes for her. From there, they scampered out through the forest to the meadow.
When they reached the meadow, Kiralee saw—and heard—the group, consisting of the Cullens and the pack. She examined the flawless faces of the all the Cullens—a breath-taking blonde girl, a tall and very muscular guy, a petite black-haired girl, and more. They all had the same features—the pale skin, the golden eyes. Just as Old Quil had explained.
Kiralee jumped off Leah’s back as they walked towards the others. Another Cullen started to walk forward towards her, wearing a warm smile. He was somewhat tall and had blonde hair, and was flanked by the human Sam to his left and a bronze colored hair boy to his right, who she assumed to be Edward.
He walked towards her with exaggerated slowness—probably trying his best not to scare her, but she didn’t need the time to adjust. She walked with a normal pace towards him.
He held out his hand. “Kiralee Clearwater? I’m Carlisle Cullen, and this is my family.” He said, gesturing with his other hand to the vampires behind him. Kiralee shook it.
“Kiralee,” she repeated, even though he’d just said it. She’d always liked to introduce herself with her first name. “It’s nice to meet you, Carlisle.”
Edward—or, the boy she assumed to be Edward, stepped in. “Kiralee,” he said, smiling, holding out his hand as well. “Edward Cullen. Nice to meet you in person.”
“Same to you, Edward.”
She faced the rest of his family, and Sam stood behind her, placing one hand supportively on her shoulder.
“Kiralee,” Carlisle said, “this is my wife, Esme. This is Rosalie”—he gestured to the blonde—“this is Emmett”—he gestured to the muscular one—“this is Alice”—the black-haired one—“and Jasper. You’ve probably already heard of Bella Swan.”
Kiralee cringed internally at the name. Daring to look at her face—she’d never seen her before—she tried her best to put on a ‘don’t-worry-I-don’t-hate-you-fully’ face, even though she didn’t mean it. She turned her head slowly to look at this Bella Swan.
When she looked though, it wasn’t anything like she thought.
She didn’t have a mean expression, a dead-set angry look to her face. No. In fact, she had a warming smile that spread right when Kiralee made eye contact. She couldn’t help but smile timidly back.
Bella stepped forward. “Hi, Kiralee. I’m Bella.”
“Hi, Bella,” was all Kiralee could manage.
Sam released Kiralee from his grip. She turned to face him.
“Have you seen Jacob recently?” he asked quietly, almost a whisper. She shook her head sadly.
“No,” she mouthed.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Bella wince. Even Edward noticed, but he looked away, trying to pretend he didn’t. Apparently he knew about the whole situation with her and Jacob. Then again, how could he not
“We need to assess the situation carefully,” Carlisle said, his voice serious. “We can’t scare Ginger away, nor can we hurt Jacob. We need to see this from every angle.”
Kiralee nodded. “Precisely. And, honestly, I think we all know that there is no way to do this without hurting Jake. It’s inevitable. That’s why we need to find a way to do it that will hurt him in the least.”
Edward nodded. Since when did he stand up for Jacob? She thought that he wouldn’t be very friendly towards him. Maybe it was a façade. She wasn’t sure.
“Yes,” he said. “Does anyone have any ideas?”
Kiralee shifted her weight onto her other foot. “Um…Edward? Well, everyone, for that matter,” she said, looking at the faces of each of the Cullens. “I think we should really be discussing how to deal with the Volturi before we go discussing how to deal with Jacob. Don’t you?”
Carlisle looked over to her. “Don’t worry about that, Kiralee. We’ve pretty much already assured your safety when it comes to the Volturi. You weren’t here when we were telling Sam about this.”
“What do you mean, ‘assured your safety
Carlisle smiled smugly and began into his story.
“I, personally, have lived in Volterra with the Volturi family. While I was there, observing the life of my kind, I became acquainted with one of the newest members of their guard, a young girl named Gwendolyn Calisto. We’ve been friends for a long time, but have since drifted from each other’s contact. I haven’t seen her in over four hundred years.
“Anyway, after I’d left Volterra, I’d heard she’d retired from the guard. I contacted her the other day to find that she’d relocated to Florida, somewhere near Tallahassee. She told me that she would help us endure the Volturi and that she had some key information for us to use against them. She should be here any minute to share that information.”
Everyone but Kiralee had already noticed that a new person had entered the group. The girl was shorter, but with a lean, framed body. Her eyes were the usual golden, but with thick, smoky eyeliner, and her eyebrows were dark. Her hair, which was on the reddish brown side, was styled short. She had bangs dominating the left side of her face when you looked at her, while on the right side it was shorter. It was almost like a flippy bob. Kiralee couldn’t stop staring.
“Carlisle,” the woman said, holding out her arms for a hug. Her voice was dripping with an English accent, her lips coated with salmon-colored lipstick. The wind blew her long, flowing skirt decorated with florals. A small backpack slung across her chest and over her tight lavender shirt.
“Gwendolyn,” Carlisle said, and they embraced for a moment, before he let go to introduce his family. Esme stepped forward first, smiling.
“You must be Esme,” Gwendolyn assumed, hugging her, too. “I’ve heard so many astounding things about you.”
“Very nice to finally meet you, Gwendolyn. Carlisle’s told me many stories about you, too.”
After all the introductions, Gwendolyn stepped towards Kiralee wonderingly. Her face was a mix of worry and curiosity.
“You,” she whispered. “You—you’re the one.”
“The Clearwater girl.” Gwendolyn whispered again, lightly stroking Kiralee’s cheek, as if she was making sure she was real. She continued to examine her in wonder.
“Ye—yes, I’m Kiralee Clearwater.” She stammered. She couldn’t focus with this Gwen girl hovering over her like some kind of lost toy.
“Carlisle, you weren’t kidding,” she murmured.
“Of course I wasn’t,” he answered simply, shrugging. “I told you she was something else.”
Kiralee hadn’t a clue as to what they were talking about. She stood there, glancing at Sam’s face—who was equally confused—and then at Edward’s face, who was looking back at her, smiling slightly, as if amused at her discomfort.
“Gwendolyn’s gift is to see auras,” he explained. “Apparently yours is something she’s never experienced.”
“An aura?” Kiralee asked idiotically.
“Darling, yours is a mix—a mix of violet, indigo, and…” Gwendolyn hesitated. “Crimson.”
“How do you know?”
Gwen looked back at her face. “I can see it. It reflects around you.”
“Well, what does violet, indigo and crimson mean? And why are they mixed?”
“Violet means that you have a loving, caring sensation about you. Indigo means that you’re determined and headstrong. But, but crimson…” she shook her head in pure disbelief. “Crimson means that you have fire running through your veins, a fire that is never extinguished. That is the strange part. Crimson and violet, they never mix. Ever. They aren’t compatible. Which is strange, because I see crimson in everyone here that is with you,” she said, gesturing to the pack. She glanced at Leah, and her eyes widened a bit. “And there it is again. You, dear, have it as well. Violet and crimson.” Gwendolyn looked back at Carlisle, while Leah's face was shocked.
“Never in all my years…” she exhaled, smiling and shaking her head, her eyes still wide with amazement.
Carlisle smiled, glancing from her to Kiralee. “I told you, Gwen. She’s not like any other human I’ve met.”
“Amen to that
.” She grinned at Kiralee.
Kiralee had had enough with the games. It was time to get down to business.
“Carlisle mentioned you had some information,” Kiralee said to her. “We don’t have a lot of time. Please, tell us.”
Gwendolyn nodded, and everyone stepped closer.
“The Volturi,” she began, “are a very powerful family. We all know that. But, back some odd millennia ago, the Romanian covens led a rebellion against them. Of course, Aro was shocked, he was too high up on his own throne to even think about the possibility of a rebellion,” she chuckled in spite of his oblivion. “But, my point is, the Romanians rebelled because they hated that the Volturi was trying to control them, when really they should’ve just been keeping them in check.” She said. “The other reason is because they wanted to put an end to the Volturi making up their own laws when they went to convict someone of a certain crime. It happened all the time—all they were worried about was making their mark in the vampire world. So they made up laws, erased some, added some without warning…the whole lot. And the Romanians—well, the whole vampire world—were tired of it.
"After the Romanians rebelled and were defeated, the Volturi family decided that in order to prevent another rebellion from taking place, they would make the Vampira Codex,
or the Vampire’s Code.
"Now, in the Code are the written laws of the vampiric world and the regulations of the Volturi family. Of course, to gain even more advantage over the ‘law-breakers,’ if you will, they hid the Code and kept it in absolute secrecy. The only people who know about it are the actual family, and the guards. And,” she smiled ruefully in spite of herself, “I
was a guard.”
“The guards were informed that the penalty for sharing the existence to the Code was kept, believe it or not, in the Code itself. They never told us exactly what the penalty was, but no one really wanted to find out. So we all kept it a secret—we had to, if we really felt loyal to the family.
"I, obviously, didn’t. Everyone there is there by choice, and my choice was to leave. So, I retired. I gave up my servitude to the Volturi.
"And here we are today, my fellow comrades. That was the information you needed to hear.”
Everyone stared at her like she was insane. Suddenly, Kiralee, Carlisle, Sam and Edward all asked a question at once. When all the simultaneous questions slurred out, no one could understand any of them. They all stared at each other, politely waiting for the other to voice his concern. Kiralee didn’t have the patience to wait.
“What does the Code have to do with us?” she asked, frustrated.
Sam nodded at her in approval. Apparently, he was asking the same thing.
Gwendolyn smiled calmly at her as if she were expecting this question. How could she not?
“You see, young one, the Code has regulations for the Volturi, like I said. They’re like guidelines for them. One of the regulations is as follows.”
She reached into her backpack and pulled out a folded and crumpled piece of paper. Kiralee took it.
In her own handwriting, it read:
As Brethren to the Volturi, thou shall not perish upon to those not associated with thy society.
Kiralee read it aloud. She could feel the smile forming on her face.
“Which, translated, means…that they can’t do anything to hurt us?” she asked cheerily.
“They can’t even touch
you without going against the Code. And, trust me, they won’t
go against the Code,” Gwen grinned ruefully again. “I would know. It’s a whole honor thing with them.”
For some reason in which Kiralee couldn’t explain after she’d done it, she shook hands firmly with Gwen.
“Thank you, Gwendolyn Calisto,” she said passionately. “You just did something the Volturi would never do. You saved eighteen people’s lives in ten minutes.”
She saw Gwen chuckle.