"Aro?" The gravelly voice called to him from the shadows and he paused as he walked down the hallway. Turning to face Aza, he smiled widely at her.
"Yes, my child?"
"They know of your desires." He hated the woman's voice; it always sounded like a warning from the gods.
"Well that's splendid, we can go speak with them immediately! There's no need to wait on Caius, now."
"She will reject you, Aro. She will reject you and you will lose your power."
"Don't be so outrageous, child!" He yelled, suddenly furious at the thought of losing his empire. He glowered at the girl and marched off, debating if he had been correct in his assessment of her powers. He'd known she wasn't as good as Alice, nor half as reliable, but he would take what he could get. However, this little "vision" was simply preposterous.
Who refused the Volturi?
He slammed the door to his own quarters and sighed. There was a way to ensure he got what he wanted.
We bumped and collided our way down the narrow isle to our seats, getting shoved from one side to the other as we went. Finally plopping down beside the window, I let out a frustrated sigh.
"People sure are crabby."
Edward chuckled and tried to stretch out his long legs comfortably while being crammed in the small area.
It had been the deal; I'd allow him to pay for the tickets if he went coach. He had stared at me for a full minute as if I was asking him to remove his own head.
As soon as he'd settled into a mostly comfortable-looking position, his cell phone started buzzing in his pocket. "Good Christ, already," he muttered and unfolded his lanky frame from the fought-for comfort. Snapping it open without looking at the ID, Edward grumbled a greeting into the receiver.
I heard Alice's voice, "Edward they have new members of the guard."
"I don't know; I can't see enough. I barely recognize the two new guards, otherwise I may not have noticed." She sounded panicked.
"Calm down, Alice; why are you so worried?" Edward's voice was soothing, sweet as candy.
"I… Edward you need to come home."
"Please!" I could hear desperation and I began to worry.
"Edward, listen to me. You have to come home, you're in danger."
"You know why I'm going, Alice. I'm not worried."
"But I am worried, Edward! I've seen it!" I had to restrain myself from reaching out to snatch the phone and demand she tell me why Edward was in danger.
"When, Alice? When did you see it?" Edward leaned into the phone, lowering his voice so humans wouldn't be able to hear him.
"Ask her what she saw, Edward!" For fu*ks sake. Was I the only one who saw importance in that?
There was a long silence on the other line and I began to wonder if she had hung up after hearing Bella's voice.
"A few months ago."
"What?!" She had to be fu*king with me. Months ago? She'd seen a vision regarding me and she'd waited MONTHS to tell me?
"I'm sorry, Edward! They told me it wouldn't happen!"
"When did you talk to them?" I got the feeling this was going to be a long, hard trip.
"Right after the vision. I went to them; I had seen people that weren't even in the room when I went. Chelsea sat with me and she was talking and I told her I'd had a vision that the Volturi had intentions to kill you and –"
"You saw them kill me?"
"In the vision, yes."
I swallowed a nasty growl. "Then what?"
"Well, nothing. They all told me they had absolutely nothing against you; they said they had no intentions."
"So what's changed?"
"She's here." Alice's voice was like acid, burning through the speaker against my ear.
I opened my mouth to snap something at her when I heard her phone drop to the ground. I called her name a few times, the panic beginning to well up in my throat as the seconds passed. Where was Jasper trying to console her during a vision? I heard a pained scream tear from Alice's lungs and then the scrambling noises of her searching for the phone.
"Edward, they took Jasper!"
The long, poorly lit hallways were the most familiar. I hated where the Volturi lived. It was hardly pleasant, even for a vampire. The air felt damp and I grimaced; it was disgusting.
Edward and I darted through the hallways one at a time, rushing over any sections that were lit and ducking down into corners to wait for the other. Edward led the way, having been to the main chambers of the Volturi before, and we stood in front of the enormous ancient wooden doors.
Edward and I glanced at each other and we seemed to be thinking the same thing; don't do anything stupid. I leaned against the wall, pressing my spine as flat as possible.
In a fluid movement of arms, Edward slammed his palms against the doors and they flew open with an ear-splitting bang. He stomped into the room, his footsteps denting the stone beneath his feet and spraying small pebbles over the floor.
"Where is he, Aro?" I growled, coming to a halt and standing a few feet in front of him.
"My, Edward; you do look intimidating." Aro lifted his eerie red eyes from the book he had opened in his lap to scan me over. "What is it you are here for, again?"
I felt my body tense, every sinewy muscle becoming rigid. "Give me Jasper."
Aro cocked his head to the side and looked at me as if he were confused. "Such demands, Edward. What ever happened to asking?"
"Return him to me!" I roared violently, the air in the damp chamber practically buzzing with the noise for nearly a full minute after. I was good at being angry.
Aro's long fingers bent and closed the book in his lap before he twined them together. He made a soft "tsk, tsk, tsk" noise as he shook his head. "I am disappointed to see that all of your manners have deserted you. It is such shames to watch the younger generations lose all sense of respect and formality." He lifted a finger and waved in one of the women against the wall toward the center of the room with him. The woman stepped forward, the shadows falling from her face to reveal a long, angular jaw and deep-set black eyes.
I wondered how long it had been since she was allowed to eat.
I took a step back in surprise when I realized that the stone floor we were all standing on began to shift and re-arrange to meet her steps. The earth literally moved beneath her. I fought the urge to cast a quick, warning glance at Bella. They were not to be alerted to her presence, and I would do well to remember that.
"Edward, this is Delia." She stopped walking two feet in front of me and looked up at me with her starving eyes. I felt my stomach twist. I was not going to like the way this played out. I shifted my gaze to Aro, desperate to see something besides the raw hunger in her eyes, and frowned at him.
"I want Jasper, Aro; I don't know what you're getting at with this."
"I will return Jasper to you."
I didn't need to be a telepath to know what wasn't said.
"I will not trade Bella for him, Aro." I crossed my arms over my chest and glowered at the leader of the Volturi. I was begging for an ass-kicking the way I was disrespecting him.
"Delia, please escort our guest to some quarters until he changes his mind." I widened my eyes and stepped back, away from Delia and turned to face her.
"I'm not staying here."
Aro said nothing.
Up, she thought.
I met her eyes and the ground beneath my feet began to quake, the stone separating and crumbling to make room for the thick roots that sprouted. I lunged for her and sent us tumbling for the floor. We landed with a soft thump on a hammock that appeared to be woven from live vines and oak leaves. I rolled onto my back and felt the speed with which we were tearing upwards to the ceiling. We stopped a few yards shy. I peered down from the hammock and searched for Aro's thoughts.
"Chelsea." He spoke it the same second he thought her name.
I leaned my back against the outside wall of the chambers. I held my breath to keep myself from panting in panic. Edward had just been swept up into a hammock with some famished woman and Aro seemed to want Chelsea to do something. I frowned harshly to myself, searching through my memories to remember what Chelsea was capable of.
My eyes snapped open and I nearly let out a gasp. Chelsea could manipulate relationship ties. Now I was panicking. If she managed to manipulate Edward into falling for Delia, or worse, into hating me… I couldn't think about it.
Alice. Oh, Christ. Hadn't Alice said she'd been with Chelsea when she asked about their plans?
That could easily explain Alice's sudden disposition towards me.
Goddammit; why did things have to be so fu*king difficult all the time?
I sank down to the floor and put my head in my hands. Now was the time to think, not go rushing in there to start a fight I couldn't win. I had to talk to Edward; we had to re-develop our plan. I had to protect him.
God, Edward, I wish you could hear me.
I froze my hand halfway through my hair; the clarity of his voice was eerie. Had I memorized the way he said my name that well?
Bella, I can hear you.
That's impossible, I grumbled to myself inwardly, you're not telepathic, Bella.
But I am.
Of course, but that doesn't mean I should hear you. I shook my head at myself. Now I'm responding to the hallucination.
Bella, Delia is licking my neck.
Was I insane? I'd never heard Bella before, why was I hearing her now? Delia had lifted my arm and was nestling against me. I let her, for lack of a better idea.
'Of course, but that doesn't mean I should hear you.' She paused. 'Now I'm responding to the hallucination.'
I sighed to myself; this didn't feel like a hallucination.
Delia adjusted against my chest and I felt her warm breath cascading over my Adams apple. She slid her wet tongue along my neck.
Bella, Delia is licking my neck.
Delia moved up, shifting her torso and turning my face opposite of her so she could run her tongue along my jaw. I felt the sudden compulsion to smash my mouth against hers and before I realized what I was doing, Delia's lips were parting from the pressure of mine. I drove my tongue into her mouth, twisting our bodies so I could feel more of her. She was taller than Bella, heavier but in a pleasant way. She locked our legs together and knotted her fingers into my hair.
I pulled back from Delia's mouth abruptly, gasping for air and dragging my long digits through the mess of my hair. Fu*k, Bella. They're screwing with me. I need to get out of here before things get worse.
'I don't know how to do that, Edward.'
There has to be a way to nullify Chelsea. I don't know who else could be doing this.
'You think she's manipulating a relationship between you and Delia?'
It's the only possibility I can think of.
'Yeah, I thought so too. How am I supposed to bypass it? If she's creating a relationship, that's pretty hard to get around.'
I thought about her point. My eyes rose to Delia's face and, unconsciously, my body leaned toward her. She smiled sweetly up at me and I tucked some stray black strands of hair behind her ear. My vision narrowed as my eyes closed, my lips a mere inch from hers. The longing to lie with her, to roll around in this hammock for days, was unbearable. I imagined the way her skin would feel as my lips fell unto hers.
I could hear the subconscious imaginings in his head, slurred by the titillating sexual energy that was burning up his body. I bit back a growl as I fidgeted with my fingers. I thought his name repeatedly but I wasn't getting an answer this time. I had to believe I wasn't hallucinating; I had to believe that the unbelievable occurrence happening between us right now was real. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith. I shut my eyes miserably. If this was all real, then Edward was in there rolling around in bed with another woman.
I wasn't sure what to make of the situation, but the creature that had replaced some part of me began to pace inside of my chest. Jealousy erupted from somewhere in my mind, gushing a cancerous black rage that seeped into my muscles and buried itself in my bones. Fantasies of violence began coveting my attention, darting from one brutal image to another. I had to do something before I began roaring my way into the room.
I couldn't reveal myself, not yet; not knowing that they had new blood in their guard. I needed to know more about the newcomers before I exposed myself and my power. I felt the plethora of flavored emotions rising within me, each climbing and bubbling desperately to be noticed first.
It was reckless, it would hurt him, but there was the chance it would get him out of there.
I spun my head around to look at the door, my hair whipping me in the face as I did so, and pushed out all of the desperate need I had in my body. I knew he was in there, the dire need to get to him filled me with such despair that I nearly collapsed. The will to get to him was so urgent, so dangerous, that I was certain nothing would stop me.
I would walk through anything to get to him, to feel his body in my arms. Nothing would stand in my way.
All of that savage possession, the violent territoriality I felt towards him, caught fire in my veins. I was wild with fury, foolhardy and rash, but the sizzling vehemence surged through my veins and made me feel alive.
She was in there claiming what was mine. I was unwilling to allow that.
Desperate people do desperate things.
I was relying on the hope that Edward could handle what I was feeding him.
My mouth moved with Delia's, swiftly and hungrily, and I ran my hands along her stomach. I began lifting her shirt slowly, inch by inch, and I lowered my mouth to the exposed flesh. There was something hot and succulent about her body that kept me lingering, the need to have my mouth all over her outweighing any other responsibility.
I felt a hard tug in my chest, nearly enough to rip me away from the plains of silky flesh I clung to. I turned to face behind me, intending to find and destroy the distraction. I could see Bella's eyes meeting mine around one of the doors. I caught my breath.
I was mesmerized by the glow of her eyes. Even from this distance they appeared to be sucking me in, the pupils of her eyes a dark, endless black pit framed by sun-heated sand.
There she was, so close and so far away. I had to be near her, I had to get to her. Every molecule in my body demanded it. Delia lifted herself up and tried to tug me back to her but I shoved her off of me. I stood in the hammock, my excellent balance compensating for the swinging, and leapt from it. I landed with a thundering crunch on the stone and felt it give beneath me. I stood and began walking towards the door. There she was, I couldn't see her eyes anymore but I could feel her there like the first whispers of rain on a cloudy day.
Crippling pain seared through my body and I collapsed.
'Get up, Edward.' It was her. My body moved without my command; my arms pushed my torso up from the floor, my knees bent until I was on all fours. My right leg shifted, planting my foot flat on the ground and my left arm shoved me up, the momentum sending me to my feet. I staggered, my arms flailing out to attempt to catch my balance, and I righted myself. I shook my head as if brushing off a small shock and began walking again.
"Edward, you are not leaving, my friend." Aro's voice was silk.
I fixed my gaze on where I felt Bella to be. I stepped forward.
"Jane," Aro said. The pain was back, scorching through my skull and threatening to throw me to my knees.
'Come to me, Edward.' There was venom in her voice, fury barely contained. My legs moved at her command.
"Jane!" Aro's voice was booming, he was maddened by the absurdity of her disobedience. It hadn't occurred to him that her power just wasn't enough.
There was agony ripping through my brain tissue. They were attacking me where it would hurt the most.
And by God, did it hurt.
There was a smarting throb that started at the base of my skull and split across the rest. My vision was gone; I saw nothing except blinding white pain. I would have sworn someone was hammering a cleaver into my head repeatedly.
I spun on my heels and lunged for Jane, slamming her into the stone floor and growling in her face. Her small hands wrapped around my neck in an attempt to force me off of her but I grabbed her wrists and pulled her hands from me. I felt the long drag of her fingernails embedding into my skin. Astonished, she pummeled me with her illusions of pain but I slammed her head down on the floor with a wet blast. I stood, the fiery ache in my head vanishing with Jane's consciousness. I scowled at Aro, the lacerations on my neck from Jane burning like fire.
Come to me.
I listened breathlessly to the silence in the chamber. I waited for Aro to give another order; I waited for Edward's footsteps. There was nothing. I counted the seconds, my mind reeling frantically to figure out what could be going on. Finally, I heard the whisper of rustling jeans and I could feel Edward walking to the door. I nearly leapt for joy. He stepped out, blood dripping from his nose and his ears, his eyes vigilant and his muscles rigid with anticipation. His hands reached behind him and shut the doors. He turned to look at me and I threw myself into his open arms. I was choking back dry sobs when I slid down the length of his torso and onto my feet. I grabbed his hand and tugged him forward. We had to get out. Now.