It must've been five hours at the least. Everyone was getting antsy, including me. Alice didn't understand it. She had seen them coming hours ago to a snow white clearing in the forest. But then again, there were hundreds of acres of snowy forests around here, it was easy to get them confused with each other. I understood. But Edward was furious, as usual these days.
"Alice, can you not get anything right?" He growled in her face. She gasped an growled right back.
"Well why don't you try juggling a thousand different things in your mind at the same time, and then we'll see who can do it better, Edward?"
"I already do!" He shouted back.
"Edward!" I snapped, taking a step in between the two of them and pushing their faces away. I swiveled to face my husband.
"How dare you insult her like that. You of all people know what she is going through. Can't you give her a tiny dose of slack?"
"I can't," he muttered. "I'm too busy picking up everyone else's slack." My mouth gaped. Did he truly have the gall to think that was true?
"How can you-" I began to say before he cut me off.
"Including yours!" I heard Alice roar behind me and jumped around in time to see Jasper holding her around her stomach, trying to retain her. Her gleaming teeth were bared and ferocious snarls ripped from her throat.
"See what you've done now!" I yelled at Edward, and his eyes softened as he stared at his wild sister. But he said nothing in reply, no apology or sign of remorse.
I now noticed that deeper snarls of my own were mixing with hers. I uncontrollably lowered into a crouching position. This action, however, caught Edward off guard and he took a step back. I felt strong hands on my shoulders and became aware of Emmett bravely standing at my back. I instantly stood upright, recognizing what was happening. I brushed off my jeans and looked at Edward's horrified face. I listened as the feral sounds coming from behind me softened and altogether ceased. I couldn't speak, I was so ashamed.
Edward slowly took a step back towards me and pulled me into a hug, crushing me against his chest. I sniffed in his delicious scent, almost beginning to feel woozy.
"I'm so sorry," he breathed into my hair, kissing it.
"Me too," I gasped into his shoulder. I didn't let go of him, and he made no effort to pull me away.
"I apologize, Alice," he said over my head. "My behavior was unacceptable." I didn't hear her reply, but by the way Edward's body relaxed the next moment I knew there had been forgiveness. I pulled on his tan sweater, holding him tighter. I didn't care if everyone was watching us, it didn't matter. But Edward didn't respond. Instead, he stiffened and his hands tightened on my arms.
"What?" I murmured into his shirt. I head Charlie gasp from the other end of the scene.
"They're here." Suddenly, there was a lot of movement and Edward peeled me off of him, but took my hand and led me to the front line.
"Ness, get behind us." I felt warmer as she and Jake took their places behind us. I heard the distant padding of giant wolf feet as the ascended to their line. I'm not sure who was the first to see them, but Edward moved to be in front of me as soon as I saw them. They came slowly from the edge of the forest in a choreographed formation, much like the last time.
At first, I only saw a black blur above the white. Then they became more defined as they got closer to the clearing. Suddenly, I heard a gasp from the second line.
"Ness!" Jacob cried. I threw myself around to see my daughter crumpled in a ball on the snow. I knelt next to her, feeling her for some kind of wound, but found none. As soon as I touched her, though, she uncurled.
"Nessie?" I gasped. Her head moved up and down shakily and she reached up to grab Jacob's shoulder. He pulled her up onto his lap. I heard another thud to the left of me on the front line and saw Alice falling backwards. Jasper was behind her in a second, but her eyes were closed, her mouth in a frown.
"Bella!" Shouted Carlisle. I looked at his panicked face and understood. But I couldn't believe it. Jane.
I let go of my shield and it flew out around us before snapping back into place. I then heard a tortured howl from the wolves and threw part of the shield back to hit whoever was first in the line. I looked over to Edward, and he nodded his head, still looking forward. I now felt the sharp stabs of Jane's power making contact with my shield. But I froze in shock. The power was different. Stronger. More like a stinging than a stabbing. And there were multiple attacks happening at once, flying out all around us, out of control.
I hadn't realized it, but the Volturi had stopped their descent. They were a good hundred yards away. But it still wasn't enough for me. The darkest cloak in the middle, darker than a coal color, removed its hood and outstretched its hand. Aro was revealed, in all his "glory". He looked exactly the same as he did years ago, which was not a surprise. His whispery voice ran a chill up my spine as he addressed Carlisle.
"My dear friend, Carlisle. How are you doing?" Carlisle returned bitterly.
"My family and myself were getting along just fine before we received your letter, thank you very much Aro." The stings kept spearing my shield, and I flinched at one directed towards me. Edward noticed and looked down at me. His eyes widened as he realized what was happening. His mouth twitched as he whispered to me, "How did they find her? Jane was destroyed!" I shook my head, not knowing the answer. Aro was shaking his head too while his arm retracted.
"I am sad to hear of your hatred towards me, Carlisle. Unfortunately, I suppose that is something that cannot be helped." He looked around. "Is this all that will be joining us today? I expected many more visitors."
"Yes, this is it. We weren't expecting you to come so soon. You caught us off guard," Carlisle played cautiously. "Bu then again, I am not expecting to need a large group today, as there will surely not be any violence. This meeting is uncalled for, Aro." Carlisle's face was angry, and Aro's now mirrored it.
"You may believe that. But my brothers and I have a different opinion on the subject." Aro gestured with his hand for his brothers, Marcus and Caius, to move forward with him.
When they removed their hoods, so did everyone else in their line. That is when I saw her, the second darkest cloak in the army, my attacker, the small angelic child that was not Jane. I didn't recognize her face, though it was similar to Jane's terrifying, yet childish beauty. I stared at her, trying to find a trace of Jane in her. Yet I saw none. Her dark brown hair was long and wavy, way past her shoulders. Her skin was pale, almost like Aro's, but not as papery. Her eyes were black. Darker than her cloak. They stood out among her white skin, white dark purple circles underneath.
"May I introduce my new family?" Aro asked, his voice saturated with pride.