My fingers were threaded so tightly into the black fur I thought I might cause Daniel pain, but his purrs of delight told me otherwise. It felt so soft and familiar between my fingers, caressing the flat palm of my hand. “I can’t believe you’re back,” I stammered.
His response was his large panther head lying in the crook of my neck.
“Where have you been for so long, Daniel?” I demanded, pulling away to look him straight in those animal eyes. They gleamed with unshed tears – tears he had obviously held back for so long, longing and isolation hid underneath that expressionless mask.
He shoves his paws away as if distance will make the pain less profound. The space between us acts as a barrier and I can almost hear the way his heart drops at the look on my face – sadness and abandonment. I turn away from the sight that twists my stomach, pulling myself back up onto the bed. Pain radiates through my body – my beatings taking a hellish toll on my body, everywhere throbbing with a dull reflection of the agony I had once been in.
Sleeping had eased it, at least. The mattress gives into my weight straight away like it’s used to me being there – it moulding into the shape of every curve and crevice of my body. I sigh in deep relief, feeling so light; it’s so different from being chained down for so long.
The temperature of the room shudders for a moment and I feel goosebumps rise on the skin of my arms. From the corner of my eye, I find Daniel standing up quickly and pulling a shirt around his arms – I could see the muscles moving underneath the taut skin of his back, rippling even as his shoulder blades seem to grind together. Once dressed, the reflection of the boy I once knew disappeared and was replaced with a hard, blank replica. Even his eyes were a void of emptiness and that scared me.
“You saved me that night, yet you can’t say a word,” I say peevishly. “What happened to the happy, cheerful young boy my family adopted?”
“He vanished,” Daniel answers coolly.
I couldn’t believe how this boy I grew up with for a few years had changed so much, and yet after disappearing from the face of the earth he refuses to acknowledge how upset and shocked I was. He wouldn’t even answer my questions without an acidic stare being shot my way.
The bed is weighed down considerably with the anger that builds inside of me like a torrent. I can feel myself sink until I can touch the floor. “I want him back,” I told my adopted brother bluntly. “And I want him to answer my questions.”
“I answered your question; you just refused to accept it.” His hands grip the sides of the arm-chair, fingernails digging into the wood.
“Why did you save me that night?” I question again, sharpening the words until they were bittersweet. The memory was lodged in the back my throat, an unwanted image I couldn’t swallow down.
A muscle spasms in Daniel’s jaw; his teeth clenched tightly like he was stopping them from chattering from a cold swept wind. “They would have killed you, Mary-Lynette. I wouldn’t leave you to them as bait for my plan. You weren’t even meant to be there.”
“You could have come back,” I can feel my eyelashes flutter just underneath my eyes as I stare at him through a narrowed glance. It’s a sweeping, soft gesture and it seems to wipe away the tears that threaten to further spill over.
“I couldn’t have, trust me,” he laments. “Even if I came close enough to see you, Mary-Lynette, they would have returned and killed you all. It seems they even succeeded in that without me.”
I feel like standing up, running over and wrapping my arms around his neck; cooing that it wasn’t his fault over and over. Yet, another part told me that it was his fault that my family were dead – a jumble of dried bones in a house of ash, broken glass and debris. But I stay on the bed; frightened that if I get up an unseen anger will arise, causing damage that I didn’t want on my hands.
The whole story sounds suitable enough for a ballad or sad song. I could almost imagine someone singing of Daniel’s sorrow – his horror, affection, isolation thick on their tongue. “But you left me in the woods, Daniel?”
“I ran off to draw their attention away. Did you want to die then?” Anger flashes in his eyes, his iris’s rings of flame. “What were you even doing in the woods? Didn’t I tell you they were dangerous!”
“I was looking for you,” I retort back sourly.
The tension in the room is so heavy I feel it may snap at any moment. Both of us are panting in agitation, fists gripped – my fingernails leaving crescents in my skin – and I’m shivering.
He had no idea what I had suffered. The guilt that tore at me every time I thought of that small boy running away from me – a body of black fur leaping into the undergrowth of the forest. My father had snapped at me, Daniel leaping in to defend: he’d gotten the bulk of the scolding, myself so stunned into silence I wept without tears.
“I looked for you every night in those woods! I would sneak out with my torch and scream your name until my throat was dry, to see if I could find you. Call it my fault if you will, but I wanted you back – I wanted my brother back.”
The words stung; I could tell by the way he licked his parched lips nervously, the colour draining from his face and his hand no longer gripping the muscle of his stomach. “I never knew,” he whispers.
“Of course you didn’t. You left us.”
His eyes break through his fallen length of hair, drilling into mine. “I never left you, I was always there. You just never knew,” a ghost of a smile lingers on his lips.
“You disguised yourself as my friend. Then you showed up in Forks giving me information on Carlisle Cullen, basically telling me about vampires again. Nice way to say “hello” to your adopted sister,” I smirked. He no-longer looks uneasy, but rather comfortable in his natural skin – cocky and protective.
“Typical of me, I suppose,” he chuckles. “I always did love disguises.”
Laughter bursts from between my lips, so suddenly that I have to clutch my chest were a few broken ribs jab me painfully. Daniel raises an eyebrow at me quizzically. “Can you remember when I dressed you up as a girl for a joke – makeup and all?”
Heat spreads up his neck and onto his cheeks. “I do. You called me Danielle for the whole day.”
The hilarity of the memories is just so easy for us that we can laugh without strain, or without the rigidity of knowing that Daniel left me, and my family, to the Vampires – unconditionally of course.
After a while, Daniel joins me on the bed and we sit and share our lives. “So she’s called Leah, and you left her just like that?” I hold his hand tight within mine, the heat of his palm against mine a secure feeling.
“I did, but,” his voice is sombre, almost mournful. “I regret doing it. I feel like I’ve lost so much without knowing, but it is what it is, right?”
“It’s water under the bridge, but you imprinted on this girl?” It hangs in the air like a statement, heavy but there. Daniel flinches at the word, his elbow scrapping against the wall.
He nods, but his head doesn’t reach up from the ground. “I’m completely and irrecoverably tied to this girl, and I can’t do anything about it.”
I look around the room, surveying its dim appearance – the dusk light filtering through the window giving the bare walls an eerie gloom, shadows lengthening across the floor and the light breeze coming through the ajar window chilly enough to raise the hairs at the nape of my neck. My finger’s stroke the exposed skin of Daniel’s wrist comfortingly, “It’s like how I’m apparently tied to these Sisters’ people keep talking of.”
“Mary-Lynette,” Daniel looks at me with a stern glare now; his pupil’s enlarged at the mere mention of the Sister’s. “You must tell the Mother everything you know of Carlisle Cullen, and his clan.”
My knees become weak and I rip my hands away from Daniel’s to grip at the skin of my legs. It’s as if I could rub away all of my annoyance into this soothing action. Could I betray Carlisle Cullen after he bestowed me with his undying trust? Could I up-root that just to save my own skin? The way my skin crawled told me I couldn’t. “If I didn’t tell Miranda and Greg, I’m not telling her a thing.”
“You don’t understand; keeping these dangerous secrets will get you killed. All you need to do is tell her, and then you’ll be released,” he was pleading now, a crease forming on his brow.
“And I don’t think you understand,” I reply strongly. “I’m not betraying Carlisle to these monsters.”
The bed sounds as if it would snap in half as Daniel throws himself on two legs, myself following – almost falling, so I grip the sides of a cabinet with my fingers and leaning against the draws. Pain jolts into the heels of my feet, feeling old wounds re-opening. “Monsters? What do you know of them? Miranda and Greg will be punished, but they are not monsters.”
“What about the Vampire’s in that room? What are they there for, Daniel? I recognised them!” I shout; my wavering stance not as half as imposing as I hoped it would be.
Just as Daniel is about to retort a bitter reply, someone raps against the door with a rapid knock. I walk toward it, my hand outstretched toward the door knob, but I’m pinned against the wood with a thump. My chest constricts with sudden pain and I can feel my breath stick to the roof of my mouth – I lick at my damp lips, trying to suck in some air. Daniel had pinned my hands to the door harshly, fingertips grazing my wrist – the angles of his body pressing me against the wooden door, heat flushing my skin at his immediate contact.
“What are you doing?” I hiss from behind clenched teeth, blocking the pained whimpers from escaping.
His mouth is next to my ear, his breath curling in my hair. “Be quiet,” he whispers. “Now listen.”
The silence from the other side of the door terrifies me. What was it to make Daniel stop me from opening the door, and reduced to whispers? The thoughts made the blood freeze in my veins. “Daniel,” I breathe; my voice barely audible amidst the pounding in my ears.
“You must keep quiet, Mary-Lynette,” he continues. He quickly looks toward the window, waiting to see if he senses a presence, before turning back to survey me with worried eyes. “There is no doubt in my mind that this person waiting for you, will take you to the Mother –”
“The Mother? What will she do to me?” The questions explode from me in frenzied panic and Daniel puts a hand to my mouth. I can taste pine needles, sweat and skin.
I flex my fingers against the door, stretching my fingertips until they graze the door handle. I could open it if Daniel got out of hand? Yet, he was my adopted brother – why would he hurt me? Too many questions crowded within my mind, and thinking of them only made more appear. “The Mother will ask you about the Vampires and Carlisle Cullen: I advise telling them, but if you are still stubborn I hope you have a smart-tongue. She does not take lightly not being told what she wishes to know.”
“What happens to me if I don’t?” There is another knock on the door behind me. We ignore it.
“She will kill you, Mary-Lynette,” he says pointedly. A glint of sadness is seen in the way his cheeks fall from being so perfectly poised. “I hope to God you don’t die, I only just found you.”
My toes curl at being told so frank that I will die if I keep secrets. I think back to what my mother told me of secrets, yet it did nothing but to reinforce my opposition to telling the Mother of Carlisle Cullen. “She will have a hard job,” I say, Daniel’s brows knitted together tightly as he fully understands my choice.
He pulls away reluctantly, his arms loose to his sides and brushing his waistline. “So that’s your choice? To die because of some stupid secret,” he roars.
“It’s not stupid, someone trusts me and I’m taking that chance,” I growl. How did we go from being so close enough again to at each other’s throats? Had Daniel’s change not been that obvious – was he struck with anger at his past actions, or was he struggling to cope with it alone? Is that why he lashed out so eagerly?
“Mary-Lynette,” fists pound against the door. “I have been sent to escort you to the Mother. Open the door,” the command rings sharp and dangerous.
I don’t answer it just yet, adrenaline live in my veins. “I’m not going to betray someone else’s secrets to save myself, Daniel. It’s not moral.” My voice is a thin whisper, struggling to rise above the average tempo.
“Fine,” he falter’s, his whole body rigid and his muscles like cables of steel underneath his taut skin. He radiates ferocity in intense waves that hit me clean in the chest, the pulsation of my heart momentarily stumbling at the impact.
I’m leaning against the door and before I can move away, I feel the wood bending and convulsing at the impacts of the pounding punches as if they’d break through at any moment. It dug into the skin of my back, it was so painful it made my spine curl but I resisted the urge to scream – I could feel the closing whip wounds on my back rip open once more.
“Don’t complain to me when you’re on death sentence,” Daniel finished acidly, before striding toward me and opening the door with once violent gesture. From behind it, a man with bruised knuckles and gold-rimmed glasses stares at me curiously. Daniel eyes me once with brief, tender eyes before leaving – his figure dissipating into the dark corridor.
I collapse to the floor in agony before the small man is ushered inside, his glasses already hanging half-way down his nose. Something pounds behind my eyes lids and then I black out.
The servant finishes wrapping the bandages around my back and I pull my T-shirt back down to cover my exposed stomach. My cheeks are flushed from embarrassment and pain. The small man with glasses, who had been pounding at the door, just stood in the corner and kept his eyes on a spot on the wall. They never strayed, and it got to the point where it started to creep me out.
His attention slipped and he paused to watch me as I heaved up myself up onto my elbows. “Mind helping me?” I asked with concern.
“My apologies, Princess.” Stepping close, he held out his hand and I took it.
I gritted my teeth at the annoyance of being called “Princess” again, and the stinging pain that rippled up my spine. Once I was standing on two legs, I brushed at my wrinkled clothes and ran my fingers through my hair – it was the first time I noticed how much it needed grooming. The man started to tap his foot impatiently and my own patience snapped. “Ready to go?” I said a little too coarsely for his liking.
“Of course,” he replied. “Please hurry. Our Mother won’t be pleased by your lateness.”
I rolled my eyes: like it was my fault I passed out. As if reading my thoughts he ducked his head and shook it in disapproval. I cursed under my breath at my own stupidity – why had I come to Forks, to the middle of trouble, when I could have stayed at home in Minnesota where everything was calm, and nothing was trying to kill me?
The corridors became so twisted and misshapen that I gave up trying to memorise the route back to my room, but rather concentrated on the numbers of doors on each leg of the route. In the first corridor there were six, the next four, then three and then one – was it some kind of code, or way to remember the passageways? – Before we emerged into a large open space.
“Morgan, dear, you have finally decided to join us.” The voice was youthful with a tint of iciness. Morgan stepped forward, leaving myself to stare in awe at the room.
It was a circular room with bookcases reaching the ceiling all curved around the walls: I had never seen so many books in my life; some with broken spines, other’s perfectly new while others were spilling pages into another books open cover’s. The floor was a plush white carpet with a gilded border, I felt my feet sink into it in pleasure and my shoulders relax and drop. In the middle of the room was an ebony work desk: everything neatly piled and organised, not a single detail out of place.
“I’m sorry Mistress, the girl had a mishap and it could not be helped,” Morgan utters, something about his words sending shivers up my spine.
“No matter Morgan, thank you. Now where is she? I am most eager to meet her, I bet she is just like her mother,” I hadn’t been paying attention to the voice, but I caught her string of words and turned toward the Mother.
“What do you know of my mother?” I demanded. Then I instantly regretted my harsh tone, a breath held in my throat.
I had imagined her to old, with wisdom showing from her age but she had a standard lack of grey hair and wrinkles. Instead, she stood proud with her fingers laced together proudly. Her face portrayed that of an angel: corn-silk hair swept tightly to the nape of her neck, soft blue eyes and rose-bud lips- yet there was something sinister in the way she smiled, a hostile and icy motion.
She brushes a pale hand at her pearl white suit, sweeping away the creases that usurp her image of perfection. “Child, alter your vulgar mannerisms before you speak to me. You shall conduct yourself with etiquette.”
“Yes, miss,” I reply politely, feeling as if I should be standing straight, feet crossed at the ankles and hands by my sides.
“That’s better, child. Now do come along and sit,” she gestures me over with a wave of her hand and pats a chair next to her desk. I moved over silently, her presence making my knee’s knock together. “I believe you have some information for me,” she says, moving toward her own chair and sitting down with such poise it made my head hurt. “Tea, child?”
I shook my head. Watching her hands move methodically over the ingredients for her tea, I kept my lips pressed tightly together. My tongue was dry, yet I was knowledgeable enough not to accept something from the Mother. “Now Mary-Lynette,” the use of my name coming from her lips didn’t sound right, almost terrifying. “I must warn you that I am not to be trifled with. If you do not tell me what I wish to know there will be consequences, I promise.”
“How does everyone know my name?” She looked at me sternly. “Miss,” I added curtly.
“Why, dear, everyone knows who you are. Your name is quite well-known actually – far well-known that I have found myself interested in you, and that is quite rare as my I don’t extend my favour to many.” Her laughter was like chimes, loud and peeling – yet it sounded so childish and flimsy for one so mature.
“What do you want with me, Miss?” I asked; keeping my eyes averted from her cold ones. They drilled into mine, and when they did it felt like a white hot pressure at the back of my skull.
She sips at her tea, slim fingers curling around the teacup. “I find you may be an asset to my Coven, Mary-Lynette, and I’m simply offering you a place amongst your kin. After all, your mother would be proud.”
Memories of my mother come flooding back: good and the bad. I toss them to one side, deciding to play with my strengths. If this so called “Mother” was trying to get my angry, I wasn’t playing along. Although my curiosity was flaring at the mere mention of my mother – I had known she was part of a cult, but nothing as monstrous as this!
“In return for answering your questions, I suppose,” I replied, placing my hands in my lap to distract me.
“Of course,” she answers, placing her tea back on the desk. “I believe you met a certain vampire in Forks, Washington – Carlisle Cullen, was his name?” She gives me an open question – a chance to decline to answer.
“I made a brief encounter with him at the Forks Hospital. He was as sweet as any gentleman, I believe,” I countered. “He treated me for some severe asthma and then I was gone.”
A muscle in her cheekbone twitches, a sly smile pulling at her lips. “Did you notice anything unnatural about him?”
I swallowed down the lump in my throat. “I did not.”
She picks up her teacup again, this time she runs her fingertip around the golden rim of it hypnotically. I have to look away. “I also heard your family was attacked? They were killed, were they not?”
“They were as you say, Miss.” I have to reign in the sorrow that taints my voice when I speak of my family – the foul images still pollute my brain from that unfaithful day.
“Who would have done that?” She questions doubtfully.
A part of my mind knows she’s trying to play friendly, hiding her cruel streak behind a mask until she gets the answers she wants, but another part lulls me to tell her everything. To pour out my heart – but can the Mother do that? Have a power that makes you want to do everything she says? Compulsion, is it? I can even tell that my lack of useful answers is driving her to bite back the malevolence from her commands.
I sat up straight against the chair, wincing as the hard-back presses against the newly open wounds. “The police believe it was an arsonist attack on my home – we were in the wrong place, at the wrong time.”
“And yet you survive?” She gestures to me and I shudder.
I felt myself want to shrink inside my shell and hide – something about her tall, imposing appearance and I was small, and insecure. “Luckily I was away from the house at the time, yet my parents weren’t as lucky. They were killed by the impact.”
“Where were you, Mary-Lynette?” Impatience is lacing her tone now, rigid and strict.
“I was in the woods.” Some of the starkness in her eyes melts, as if she thinks she’s gotten to me but it vanishes once my monologue continues. “I was looking for a dear friend, which I did every night.” – It was partly the truth; I just twisted it so it sounded correct, yet not dishonest enough to be noticed so instantly.
The Mother’s face became flushed with anger, the teacup placed gently on the desk and she stood. Her heels clicked across the floor menacingly, it vibrating in my ears, obscuring any other sound. She came to stand by my chair, her curved hip leaning against the desk. “Do you know who I am, Mary-Lynette?” she asked coolly.
I have to look up through my eyelashes to see her – a proficient, established figure, but with a fierceness to her, I wish I possessed. “You’re the Mother, Miss.”
“Insolent girl! If you don’t give me the information I require, the consequences will be severe,” she replied, the sharpness of her fingernails evident in the lamp light of the room. Her hands are like talons gripping the desk.
“I’m sorry,” I stand as well, facing her. Her sharp angles are dangerous and deadly compared to my soft curves which were so easily beaten, broken and bruised. “But I will not betray my secrets, Miss. I will bear the consequences willingly.”
My voice was shaky, but strong enough that she raised her eyebrow in astonishment. “You will regret this, Mary-Lynette. Your mother will be disappointed in you. I was wrong, you are nothing like her.”
Before I have a chance to ask, Morgan is behind me, locking my wrists together between his hands and dragging me away. I don’t kick, or try to scream, but rather let him drag me away. The Mother’s dark, cruel face is the last thing I see before the doors close.
The passageways continue, as does the pattern of doorways, but none of it is registering in my mind. I just feel the cold, metallic chill of the dark creep across my skin as I’m shoved not back into my room, but a damp cell. I fall to the floor, my hands catching the impact.
Morgan pulls the bars back into place, the grating sound making blood pound in my ears. He hitches the glasses once again onto his nose, “God help us all.”
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Confusion circles my thoughts as I try to understand everything that has occurred. I didn’t understand how I ended up being so lowly treated? Didn’t I belong to these people? Why were they pumping me for information?
I remember how my mother used to tell me how keeping secrets gets you into dangerous situations. She said they were blasphemous details, always cloaked in the shadows in the distance, always catching up with you. Her words had sunken in ever more when I saw them in action: accusations of cheating, of being unfaithful. But, that was long ago and those skeletons in the closet were long ago uncovered – as were my parent’s bodies in the fire.
Swallowing down the guilt, it dragged down my throat. After that moment I fully understood the seriousness of undisclosed information, yet I refused to acknowledge my folly: now I felt it choking me up as I pondered the idea. How could I have been so foolish as to withhold precious facts?
Now is the moment I stop believing in secrets. There was truth and deception, but I didn’t understand why there was also concealment?
Stretching my arms in front of me, the chains rattle. It echoes through the empty room loudly, ricocheting from the bare walls. I don’t feel the sting of the tight metal on my wrists; instead I feel the hollow misery and resentment curdling in my stomach. It was like a brewing stew with various ingredients: a tad of annoyance, detestation, longing to be free and distress.
In the barely lit room I can see the snaking chains tied to the old, battered throne sitting in the corner of the room, the yellowing pillars criss-crossing the room like mismatched jail bars, lichen growing on their stained surfaces and the hard stone floor. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought it used to be an old throne room – it looked suitable enough, minus the manacles chained to a girl.
My fingernails were crusted with dried blood as I tried to grapple with the chains, wrenching at them before they cut into my wrists. I could even taste blood in my mouth – it was everywhere. It felt as if my whole body were inverted and the blood ran outside.
“Dammit,” I cursed, biting back tears.
With the chains not allowing me much leverage, I crawled back toward the throne and sat on it – it was far too ironic for my tastes: “The Princess has finally returned and been put on her throne,” they kept mocking me with. I rip another flimsy strip of material from my T-shirt and wrap it clumsily around my wrist, wincing as it tightened.
Just as I returned to trying to pick the lock of the chains with a hairpin unsuccessfully, voices were heard from behind the double wooden doors. “Princess won’t talk,” one sneered. “You would think she’d give them up instantly, knowing she belongs to us.”
“You’re getting your hopes up. The leeches have brain-washed her before we could find Princess,” she huffs.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if she let them bite her! Those bloodsucking parasites,” the man half-screams. I could imagine him clenching his fists tightly, a muscle twitching in his jaw.
This was the man and woman which chained me up and have visited me every day since, the two Venetian masks they constantly wear haunting my few dreams – it’s hard to sleep while chained tightly in a sitting position as a torture method. They stop outside the door and my fingertips press into my skin hard, ready for this familiar routine.
“Get in there,” one growls, pushing something large against the door.
A wedge of light reflects against the floor as a small woman walks inside, a team of servants behind her. With their eyes cast down, all dressed similarly – in white linen robes and brown sandals – they walk toward me. The only one that repeats this visit everyday looks at me with brief sad eyes before I tense up, waiting for the tipping of a bucket of freezing cold water over my head. The chains rattle as I struggle to hug in any immediate warmth, but I don’t need to. Hot water scolds my skin until it’s painfully red, but it’s good pain. I’ve never felt so relieved in my life – its warmth seeping into my bones like oil lubricating weathered mechanical gears.
“Sorry miss,” she replies to my choked tears in a thin whisper.
They work around my chains, washing and scrubbing away the dirt from my body, feeding me a watery porridge – I’m so used to its vile taste now that I just swallow it down – and holding a small bowl of water to my parched lips.
After finishing, they scamper away and out the door leaving me with the two masked figures. Through the open eye sockets in the masks I could see stern, bloodshot eyes – muscles in their jaws twitching nonchalantly.
Something paralyzes the fear that races across my skin as my hours of torture come toward me dressed as angels with obscuring masks. It holds out its hand to stroke my cheek, lips pulled back in a sweet grimace as if their suffering from my lack of screaming. Its breath washes over my face in a cool fog, the smell sticks to my skin until I feel sickly. He leans close and whispers in my ear, “Time to see the light, Princess,” he purrs.
“You’re a bad liar,” I croak, trying to swallow down the lump of hope that crowds the open space in my throat. It’s so bad that I can hardly breathe, my lungs screaming for air.
“Underestimating us, Princess?” The female asks coolly, the pale lips visible through the mask a tight line of egotism.
The water still clinging to my skin drips to the floor, each one falling with a light musical chime. It echo’s off the hollow walls that encase my blood-curdling screams and plea’s of surrender. “Don’t I have reason to,” I ask coldly. “You kidnapped me.”
“You should be thanking us,” he grasps my cheeks tightly between his thumb and forefinger until it feels like he’s grasping the bone underneath. “We saved you.”
Pain flourishes in my jaw-line until it feels like it’s going to split in half under the pressure. However not before his vice-like grip is released, a hiss dissipating into the air as his cold fingers leave my flamed skin. I have to bite my tongue to make sure my scream is locked tightly behind my teeth.
“Teach her a lesson, Greg,” she sneers, taking a black leather glove off her hand slowly revealing long, spindly fingers. It looked like they were dripping blood from the fingertips. “Princess here should know what she’s been dealing with.”
“Good idea, Minerva. Help me.”
It was a change from always being so cold – the chill of the abandoned throne room, the way my blood used to freeze over like ice and the frosty temperature that swarmed my masked capturers – yet now the warmth I felt iced over, feeling like icicles were protruding from my skin. The chains tightened around me, my breath whooshing out my lungs as I felt it digging into my chest, stabbing into my ribcage like a branding iron. Blood flooded my entire body as if it had broken throughout its constricted pathways of veins. My heart sang in sync to the pounding in my ears – throbbing enough that it masked the chaste heat that spread from my fingertips and toes. Then it was gone. I was nothingness.
Was I dead? If I was, it wasn’t anything that I had imagined. Rather, my body felt light as if I was drifting to the ground like a feather, my heart slowly following behind me. The impact hit my back first, my spine curling at the pain – it was red-hot and searing, almost like a whip across my skin. Cries of agony weighed me to the floor as I struggled to rise. Red was all I saw, the bright white of death retreating. I mourned for it: if torture was all I was to live for, I’d rather slip away quickly. The Fates planned otherwise.
My body jerked awake and my back arched off the floor like I was having been pulled up forcefully from being submerged in water. Blood poured from between my lips as I struggled to cough it up. I was caught in middle of choking and retching up.
“Get up, Princess. It’s time to visit your subjects,” Minerva giggles, it’s as humorless as the depth in her eyes. The tip of her boot connects with my stomach, fracturing a rib and I grasp it with trembling fingers. If only I could clench the skin in my fists and not the fabric of my T-shirt, then the pain would dull. “Stand up,” she screams, breaking through my haze of pain. Through slitted eyes I can see the lethal whip curling around her fingers, blood leaking against the pale skin of her arm – it made my stomach turn in disgust.
I shuffle to the throne, grasping the chains to pull me up. The unused bones in my legs grind together like gnarled roots so I’m swaying violently. I dig my fingers into the concrete in-between the bricks to steady me, feeling it scrap away the skin leaving raw flesh.
“Come along.” Greg pulls me along by the wrist, Minerva joining in. Without balance I fall, the balls of my feet scrapping across the floor – stones and sharp objects cutting into my heel.
As the winding lit passageways are dragged away from me, we descend into the depth of the darkness in the labyrinth of stonewalls. Cool-to-the-touch white walls give to others with shrouded shadows latching to its surface like a muddy puddle, flame torches hanging on the wall.
Greg reaches for it and it detaches from the wall, a grinding noise of metal against brick: I try unsuccessfully to jam my fists into my ears. The pain in my back was just a white-hot ache, the rushing blood loss causing me to lose consciousness a few times. I could even feel the blood spilling over my skin, seeping into my T-shirt like a poorly wrapped band-aid and dripping down to my ankles.
I watched through narrowed eyes – tears building behind my lids and threatening to spill over – as we passed through door, after door. I clench the pain behind my gritted teeth and my muscles are tensed tightly as white hot pain jolts through my lucid limbs once again.
Finally, I was pulled through a door – the wood shuddering violently and the metal bolt drawn with quick fingers – and we climb into the towering shadows of stacks of old barrels of malting wine. The thick syrupy taste sticks to the roof of my mouth, causing me to lick my lips in desperation for more water.
“You see,” Greg drawls on, the story brewing between his lips. Miranda twitches expectantly. “This place is a wine cellar and it hasn’t been touched for centuries. The only time it was used was during the Great War’s, but that’s another story. Just like the one where you were sitting was the once great throne of the traitor King.”
Greg continues to recite the story of the wine cellar, myself paying very little attention to his words. It slips in one ear, and out the other. I didn’t have the strength to process the information. It wasn’t until the pressure on my elbows subsided and I found we had stopped that my mind became once again active.
“And this,” Miranda gestures to a small doorway. “Is where we stop.”
I don’t have time to question their command as the door is thrown open, myself thrusted inside so sharply my shoulder blade catches on the door frame. My hair sticks to the back of my neck as something hot trickles down my spine. Inside there is only a ladder up to a trap door – an escape route? Miranda pokes my back with something sharp and I yelp. “Up you go, Princess,” she coos.
“What is up there?” I ask. “You wouldn’t let me go.”
“Get up there!” Greg stabs the pointy object until it jabs into my skin, drawing blood and without waiting to be prodded any further, I climb the ladders on shaky legs. I even manage to slip a few times and I feel their dagger glares at the base of my skull.
Managing to unbolt the trap door with trembling fingers and push it open, I thrust myself into the open space quickly avoiding the sharp jabs of the metal poker. The sounds hit me first: the terrible moans of hunger, the scraping of flesh away from fingertips against the chain-link fence and my own screams of horror.
The small space was lit by only a few torches but I could see their faces clearly – their black, hungry eyes, hair lying limp against their scalp and hands and mouths eagerly reaching for any inch of my skin; wanting to rip, cut and bite with their teeth. Raw, undeniable thirst radiated in the air like some sort of pollution.
I was separated from them only by a small square of metal chain-link fence. I was standing so close to them, without falling back down the trap door, that I could feel their fingertips grazing through my lank hair.
Yet the terror didn’t only just come from seeing these Vampires’s grappling to peal the flesh off my bones like free meat, but their faces were so familiar, yet distant – I could see them through a haze; so human and innocent in life and then before me seeing them in death. It made horror choke in my throat and the tears spilled down my cheeks, leaving silvery trails.
As fast as possible, I tried to climb down the ladders once more but I met the hot, stinging pain of the poker against my foot. I screamed and batted my fists against the floor for them to let me out, but they just kept laughing at me. It was manic and frightening.
“Let me out! Please…” I begged. Were they just going to leave me here? Let them eventually bite me, transform me into a monster?
I huddled up into a tight ball, rocking back and forth to the rhythmic laughter of Greg and Miranda at my terror. I had trusted Carlisle; yet he was still one of these blood-sucking parasites – the people I feel I must have once knew: in another lifetime perhaps? How could he have lied, especially when something pulled beneath my surface when he told me his story and I knew it to be the truth? The repulsion and disgust crawled over my skin, opening old wounds I never knew I owned as I just gave into the blood-curdling moans. Letting them take over me.
“Miranda! Greg! What are you doing, you fools? Release her!” The voice was sharp, commanding and distinctly male. It rang in my ears, temporarily releasing me from the perpetual cries of thirst.
“We were only showing Princess our home,” Miranda whimpered. I could imagine her pouting her bottom lip in emphasis and I struggled to hold back my weak laughter.
“You could have killed her!”
All I am aware of is strong arms pulling me down into the dark hole, dragging me down the ladders. I felt warmth press against my chest and I huddle toward it – trying to stifle my trembling with the stable heat source before it disappeared. To the side of my head, I am aware of Miranda and Greg being herded away by another male and then a small woman standing with her head down, hands clasped – it’s the maid that visits me every day, and she’s smiling at me!
“Girl, go get Mother and tell her what you told me.” She bows so low to the ground I fear she may fall, but before I can protest she scuttles away. Then the voice washes over me, “Don’t worry Mary-Lynette, you’ll be safe soon, I promise.” Then I was carried away and I felt myself drift off to sleep.
It felt like hours before my heavy lids were capable of lifting. Pain jabbed in every inch of my body but I pushed it away: I was in a small, light room with white washed walls and next to me was a glass of water. Instantly I reached over and drained its contents – although stale, it released my throat from its parched stronghold for a while. Scanning the room with curious eyes, I found someone asleep on a chair in the corner. Brown hair was swooped over his closed eyes, his breathing deep and regular. Something simmered underneath my skin – familiarity was it? This time I knew I had seen him from somewhere. When I was younger? The youthfulness in me told myself that my acquaintance with him was only brief?
“Awake, are we?” he asked sleepily, as if responding to my drifting thoughts. I looked toward the glass of empty water, a deep blush crossing my bruised cheeks as I think of this boy watching me sleep. He follows my gaze, “Do you want another drink, Mary-Lynette?”
Opening the door quietly, he calls someone – a servant – who comes back with a pitcher of ice-cold water. My lips suddenly feel dry and cracked as he pours it into the glass, which I instantly throw down.
“Thank you,” I croak. “But how do you know my name?”
“Everyone knows your name, Princess,” he laughs. The sound of the nickname my parents gave me on his tongue sends shivers down my spine.
“How exactly?” I question, determination lacing my voice.
He moves as quickly as a cobra and sits on the corner of my bed. A muscle twitches in his jaw, “They have been waiting for you to come home.”
I grip my fists, my bruised knuckles crusted in dried blood. Even my nails have blood in them. The idea of it makes me sick to the stomach – the Vampire’s I had saw, they wanted this. The blood. I shake the thought away. “They kidnapped me.”
The boy is silent and my heart flutters at the fear of everything being so quiet.
“Who is the Mother you spoke of when you saved me?” I asked; my brave voice leveled to a thin whisper as blood pounds in my ears as I shift to a more comfortable position on the bed.
“The Mother controls the Coven. She is the only one who can control Greg and Miranda, so their punishment is in her favor,” he responds, rubbing the flat of his hand over where my leg is under the covers.
It makes the hair stand up on my arms, feeling his contact even through the bed-covers. “Where is she? I want her to demand I leave,” I start to get up but his forceful hand pushes me back down. I bite back a scream of frustration and one of immediate pain.
“Don’t be foolish, Princess,” he grinds his teeth tightly together. “She would only demand the same information off you that Greg and Miranda were trying to get.”
“I won’t tell her,” I reply stubbornly, crossing my arms over my chest.
He chuckles – it’s light-hearted, sparking that familiarity again. The idea of me knowing him is driving me wild with desire to know. “You radiate stubbornness, even in the way your chin is set.”
My curiosity gave in before I knew it. “Do I know you from anywhere?”
The boy tenses everywhere – even the way he sits becomes rigid. The soothing motion of hand over my leg stills and a cold sweat drips down my back. His eyes are deep, yet filled with so much conflicting emotion they are almost unreadable. He curses under his breath: “Darn you people; why couldn’t you have not remembered me?”
“Remember what?” Anger boils underneath my skin like searing hot lava. The silence continues, lengthening like the shadows that creep across the floor as the sun sets – had I really slept that long? “Tell me!” I shout at this motionless figure.
A deep mournful sigh escapes his lips and his eyes never reach up from the tiled flooring. “Do you remember your family very much? Since the fire, of course.” The last sentence hung in the air like an unanswered question.
I was going to ask how he knew about that, but my patience was already pulled as taut as a wire. “Of course I can, why would you ask such a thing?”
“Can you remember a boy they adopted, but he ran away after an accident?”
The memory tugs at the back of my mind, being dragged forward. Then I suddenly remember: a young boy with tanned skin, dark brown hair and the most sincere eyes she had ever seen. Her parents had adopted him into the family when she was rather young, but she still remembered everything. But before she could react a low, predatory growl echoed in the room.
It bounced off the walls.
There on the floor sat a jet-black panther, its jewel green eyes set on me – I scream so loud my throat aches. I fist the bed sheets into my hands, pulling them up around me as if it could protect me from the panther. But the animal only looks at me with sad eyes and then the screams just cut off.
Tears spill over without thinking. “Daniel? Is that really you?”
To be continued.
1. What will Mary-Lynette think of having Daniel back?
2. What is Daniel doing there?
3. Who is the “Mother” and why does she want Mary-Lynette?
4. Why are the Vampire’s being held in the room?
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- Leah, Clearwater
“What do you hope to find?”
Julian had been silent most of the way towards the coroner’s office. The tight purse of his lips made me think he was keeping something from me, something other than his caring feelings towards me. I brushed it off.
“Just to see if I can find a file.” I was singing the lie that was half-way mine. I did want to find my father’s file, but I also wanted to find out if his death was the truth. If something as final as a death was so falsely faked. Was there even a possibility he was still alive? Yet that thought seemed like mere child’s play, of course he wouldn’t be alive.
I could see Julian going to ask the next question, but in the distance I could see the dark, looming structure of the coroner’s office. It is only a small building, yet the way the shadows clung to the brick-work like paint was eerily frightening. Quickening my pace to distance myself from Julian – and the way his eyes never left me – I ran towards the porch, but that didn’t stop me from looking back.
The moon was full; wisps of pale light cast across Julian’s face from a distance. He looked angelic, almost ethereal if it weren’t for that tinge of red beyond those counterfeit green eyes. He sped toward me as if gliding on wheels and stopped before my face, every crease and line of his skin visible in this defining light.
For a moment, the way he looked at me sent shiver’s rippling down my spine. Was this new and raw forthcoming presence a mockery of what I had briefly seen in Daniel? His long, slim fingers slipped from his torn pockets, reached out and grasped my wrists until it felt like he was gripping the bone underneath: the pain did not occur, just the pulsing of my heart beating between the space of our skin, like the open beat of the ocean against the shoreline in an everlasting embrace.
I felt a breath escape his lips and it brushed my face lightly, like caressing silk. As we stood in complete silence, not even the trees shivering in the bitter breeze, I came to understand that this prophecy of his wasn’t going to relinquish its grasp on me: I was forever to be bound to two boys, one of a varied kind of my own, another my cold-blooded enemy, yet there was something about them both that made my heart leap into my throat.
I was doing a Bella Swan!
At that thought I went to tear myself away, but Julian held on. His grasp did not become tighter however, he just held me. Was this caring sensation I felt for him like an embodiment of a leech? Julian just clung on and fed from my heart, were I went on without notice? And when I did, would he be satiated enough that he would never have to return?
I shook my head wildly, trying to rid myself of these obtuse thoughts. I was here for my father, not to internally debate over feelings I’m not sure I even hold. Just gratitude. Julian lifts a hand and grips me by the elbow, his eyes never leaving my face.
“We will find out what happened to your father.” He strokes the exposed skin of my arm, the blood rushing to the surface. He didn’t seem to care. “I promise, Leah.”
His grip releases and he stepped back, as if I were a walking hazard: but then again I am, aren’t I? A walking bag of blood he would want to snatch up and consume into the depths of his hell-bound soul. He releases his hold, gesturing to the decrypt building that was the coroner’s office. “Shall we?”
I walk closer, every empty sound seeming to ricochet off the trees and the empty building. Every sound vibrating underneath my feet and back up through my being.
Julian was as lithe as a feline behind me.
Not a sound.
This unnerved me, but I continued, grasping my fists at my sides. As we advanced, I found the building did not look as old as it did from a distance: the wooden frame of the porch had been recently painted, a swinging chair rocking back and forth in a brittle breeze – the rusty hinges screeching – and a few potted plants.
It still confuses me as to why the coroner’s office was apart from the hospital – the examinations of the bodies having taken place there – but the information was stored in the open, so easily cracked open by a passer-by: in this case, myself and Julian.
I looked towards Julian through a hooded gaze. “It looks like an abandoned forest shack more than anything else?”
“I’m sure it does, but surprises are held within, Leah.”
I reel back lightly at the surprise of his words as he shrugs and continues up the steps. There were two things that he could be therefore relating to: his heart holding precious secrets, or the office not being as it seems. I feel like knocking some sense into myself as I followed him to the door.
“Pretty sure it will only open from the inside without a key,” I point out casually, but then I wish I could take it back. It sounded impractical to indicate something he already knew, or did I sound flirtatious. I blushed heavily.
“Just wait and see,” he chuckles. With his head bowed, his facial expressions are darkened and I cannot make them out. Drawing a set of lock-picks from his pocket he slots them into the lock and get’s to work. Finally the lock clicks and the door swings open. He holds out a hand for me to go first, “Ladies first.”
I walk inside, holding back a light laugh. “Anything else you have in them pockets I should know about? Perhaps a crowbar?”
“You underestimate the size of my pockets,” he muses. “But no, Leah, I do not carry a crowbar around with me.”
“I was hoping otherwise, but now I’m worried about what you do with those locks-picks of yours?”
Julian slots them back into his pockets, keeping his hands there, then walks ahead. “Just to unlock hospital windows so I can slip into rooms unnoticed,” he winks.
I stop, shocked and yet not shocked by this statement. I playfully punch him in the shoulder once more. “As long as you’re not thinking of cracking open my bedroom window once in a while.”
But there is no room for a response as the room we’d walked into had taken my breath away. Never did I imagine something so scientific and methodical would be found in the middle of no-where. At that moment, I decided it must be some sort of secondary storage unit.
The walls, instead of being wood panelled, were white tiles – there was so much white that it blinded me once we turned on the light, bringing tears to my eyes. The mahogany desk was standing in the middle of the room, a disarray of papers scattered across its table-top. Behind it was row after row of filing cabinets, and then in the corner one massive cupboard. Julian moved in that direction.
I didn’t know where to start; the room was just too big. “The room looks tiny from outside, how come?”
“Feng Shui, obviously. It must have been used to amplify the size of the room on the inside. Typical design though,” Julian seemed lost in his explanation of the room’s size.
“How do you know this sort of stuff?” I inquired as I opened one filing cabinet and started searching for my father’s file.
Julian was wiping away the dust on the surface of the cupboard, looking at his fingers as if he were inspecting his nails. He looked deeply conflicted. Moving his head to the side, so I could see the hollow look in his eyes, I felt my heart clench into a painful fist. “I learned about architecture back in the day. I wanted to be an architect.” His voice is somber, as if missing something.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude,” I replied, shutting a filing cabinet a little more violently then intended then shuffling over to the next one.
Then there was a long and eerie silence between us, the slamming of filing cabinets and the unlocking of the cupboard Julian was inspecting were the only sounds.
From the corner of my eye I watched as he shoved open the cupboard. Lined inside was what looked like tapes and recordings, squinting in the light I even saw a few were missing. Before I could ask, my fingers finally closed around my father’s file. I pulled it out, the eager beatings of my heart vibrating in my ears.
“Got it!” Julian went to say something but I hushed him immediately, thoughts racing through my mind as I read through the words.
My leg’s felt like candle-wax. I couldn’t move, frozen to the spot. Everything stopped: breathing, the violent thump of our heartbeats, the adrenaline in my veins…and time.
The words on the page leapt out at me, smothering everything. They were the only things I could see. I didn’t even feel the rush of cool wind as I fell to the floor and Julian caught me, wrapping his strong arms around my waist.
“Leah? Are you alright?” His voice was frantic but distant, as if I am traveling through a tunnel backward. He was brushing strands of my hair away from my face, trying to coax me back.
He lifts me off my feet and I feel like I am flying – suspended in air in a temporal deferral of gravity. Then everything settles around me: Julian’s worried face, the darkness surrounding us, the chirp of the crickets and the way Julian was touched my tears with his lips, swiping them away. I was cradled to his chest outside on the swinging seat. In that moment, I didn’t care that he was a vampire, my mortal enemy. He was my comfort. I felt my head fall into the dip of his collarbone as I surfaced from his dark nightmare.
Stroking my hair, his soft voice roused me after sitting for an hour in the desperate quiet. “Leah, are you alright?”
“I don’t know; how it is possible?” My voice is cracked and dry from all of the tears.
“How is what possible?”
My throat clenches at the thought of that one word. “My father. It wasn’t a heart-attack.”
His hands tighten around me, a muscle in his jaw twitching. “What did you find?”
It was the only way I could say it. That infected word. I couldn’t combine it with the idea of my father, it polluted his image. Contaminating everything I thought I knew about him. Why didn’t he tell us? Tell me? We were so close – weren’t we?
“Leah,” Julian was still cradling me, but I turned my head so I was facing him. He looks distressed. “I found something.”
“What?” I blinked wildly, hoping it was some proof against what I had found.
His eyes gave it all away – it wasn’t. “When I searched the cupboard, your father’s autopsy recording wasn’t there, it’s missing. Just gone.”
I didn’t have time to process the vital information as the phone buzzed wildly in my pocket. I jumped up from Julian’s grasp, leaving his arms as empty as his gaze then grabbed a hold of my mobile – not taking time to look at the number – and held it to my ear. “Hello. Leah Clearwater here.”
“Hello, Miss Clearwater. It’s Dr. Snow.” My heart leapt. “I’m sorry to call you at this late hour but I have news.”
“I do not mind, Dr Snow. What is it?” My voice was fervent. I was going wild with desire to know the news, anything to clear away the misery that was welling up inside of me.
The doctor cleared his throat over the phone. “Your mother has woken. She’s asking for you.”
After that there was muttered gratitude and I snapped the phone shut and shoved it roughly into my pocket. I didn’t even look at Julian; I just stormed off the porch and was ready to change when he grabbed a hold of my wrist, pulling me back harshly.
“Get off me, Julian. I mean it!”
“Leah,” he hissed and pulled me forcefully against his chest. I pounded my fists against him relentlessly. He let me do it. “You can’t tell your mother about your father!”
I push myself away from him, tears streaming from my eyes. “And why not?” I demanded hotly.
Julian kicks a stone across the grass. “She may not know, and telling her would be silly. It would devastate her.”
“She knows,” I bellowed, pointing towards the trees trying to emphasize my point. “I know, she knows.”
“What if she doesn’t?” He looked at me with a soft expression, and for the first time ever I watch as he chews on his bottom lip. “What will it do to her then?”
My fists are bunched, my heart hammering against my rib-cage. I can’t control the tears; they just keep streaming and leaving silvery tracks down my cheeks as I try to rub them away. “My father had cancer, Julian. She has to have known.”
He reaches out for me but I flinch away. “I know you’re upset–”
“–Trust me, you don’t.” My tone is harsh and I can see him flinch at the vehemence and strain in my voice. “Don’t follow me, Julian. I’m going.”
But I’m already gone, bounding through the trees in my wolf form to get to my mother. She has to have known, I reason with myself. She had to have known about father. Then the reality of everything hits me: My father died of cancer.
1. Will Leah tell her mother about her father?
2. How come Harry’s autopsy tape was missing?
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- Character Unknown
Anger was slowly dripping away inside of me, like a medical drip that worked towards curing you. This wasn’t curing, though. It was only fueling me, like stirring coal inside of a furnace. I gripped my fists until I could feel my nails cutting into the skin.
“Calm, brother,” her voice was still and cool, like gliding over a sheet of ice. She rarely had any patience for agitation. She leaned against the tip of the table with her hip. “There is little reason for such trivial anger over your loss. It was a tactical plan, yet with folly.”
Spinning around on my heels, I pointed a long finger at her. “You think you could have done better, little sister?” I demanded.
She gave a deliberate sigh, wiping her hands against the knees of her jeans. “Point your pianist fingers elsewhere,” she said and swatted them away. I thrust them deeply into my pockets. I hated when she did that. “And for your information, I told you of a better idea but you rejected it,” she stated, flicking a length of her hair behind her shoulder.
“Don’t be so naive,” I said peevishly. “We would have no chance.”
“You think our current plan isn’t making it worse. They’re getting the wrong idea,” she explained.
Even though my sister was always so calm, I knew that icy edge to her personality wasn’t always so good. Her actions could be volatile and her known skills were enough to uproot concrete and made it shatter like glass. Lithe and deadly, but as fragile as a china doll.
I knew she was right, but how weak would I look to give in to my sister’s witty attention to detail. “We need to capture their attention.”
Standing up, her arms crossed tightly as she strode towards the small rectangular window of the train cabin. It gave out to the abandoned train tracks, the black void of the platform and the empty concession stands – scraps of old newspapers scattered across the ground like dried bones. “Their attention, yes,” she stressed. “Not their guard-dogs.”
“So what were we meant to do?” I asked calmly now. I knew she would soon be in that state where her mind drifted, and time would pass where she said not a word, so I better get as much out of her as possible right now. “Leave messages in their mail box, give them a phone call or just knock on their door and introduce ourselves.”
“I did not say that,” she looked at me pointedly.
I walked over towards the sink, turned on the tap and started scrubbing away the blood that covered my skin up to my wrists. There was such a stark contrast between the bright red and the ashen whiteness of my skin – the spider web of scars a pattern of jagged lines like tattoo ink printed onto my arm.
Thinking back to when I received the scars, a sudden tremble shuddered up my spine like electricity searing through an electric cable. It could have been worse. Yet it felt like my wretchedness over it had been surpassed, tearing at me as I looked at my sister. She had taken the impact. The whole right side of her body a map of disfigurements, like a string of filament wire embedded underneath her skin. “You didn’t have to sound so threatening to them when we met them? Now they’re going to think us enemies,” she said breaking me from my reverie.
“I was testing out my old improv’ skills,” I mused. Memories flitted across my mind like a flickering candle but I swiped them away.
“I’m sure they were terribly impressed, but it isn’t helping our situation,” she groaned, pinching the bridge of her nose. “We need their help, not their hatred, brother.”
Walking towards her, I placed my hands on her shoulders. “We will get their help. Then everything will be sorted.”
Pulling away, she faced the window once more. “Will it,” she sighed and paused her breathing to force back the willing emotions. It came over her like the tides: she pushed; it pulled – the unwanted feelings careening her subconscious before retreating and leaving her with a horrible taste in her mouth. She never wanted any of this. I knew she wished she had died that night.
My heart was a painful fist as I approached the door to the next cabin, the water dripping from my fingers and plinking onto the floor. For a moment, I imagined it to be blood – the thick liquid running down my arm and pooling below as the open wounds wept, my body violently shaking from the concentrating fervour of heat burning me away. If I had only known, then she wouldn’t be like this.
Her face turned towards me, her halo of strawberry curls framing her face. “I have to do it,” she declared clenching and unclenching the hilt of the dagger in her belt. “He’s my problem.”
“Fair do’s.” I unlocked the door and she stormed inside like a tropical storm on legs. At least she was putting on a brave face. The heels of her boots clicked against the flooring, but I knew it wasn’t the heels – it was the needle-sized daggers lodged inside, like a spiked heel.
The wedge of light peeking through the open door illuminated the room; it almost looked like liquid gold had been spilt across the floor. I kept a hold of my own dagger: just in case of trouble, in case she couldn’t end it on her own.
As I entered, I saw the chained dog before I heard him rattling his chains like they were his leash, and wanted to break off and run faster than his master propitiated. I smiled menacingly, and he returned an equal grim stare with blank eyes. His dark brown skin was just as grim, it now having gained a pale pallor.
His eyes rolled in their sockets. “Let me go,” he groaned, his throat dry and because his muscles must have been tense. Being chained up and un-able to move was undoubtfully painful. “I won’t tell them, I promise,” he slurred.
“Don’t be a fool, we would have to kill you,” I murmured, reaching for the small bowl on the floor with some stripes of the T-shirt he wore when we caught him. I touched the skin on his arm, he winced. “Your wounds aren’t festering, that’s good.”
“Why are you helping me?” he asked in a thin whisper.
I undid the bandages, washed the wound with the water and tied a stripe of the T-shirt around it tightly. He whimpered sharply when it was made taut around the wound. “We can’t let you die down-here, you’re our leverage. Plus, it teaches you not to jump through glass windows.”
He laughed – a deep, dry and cracked chuckle. Sweat trickled down his brow, dripping off his nose. “Being chained up seems like too harsh of a punishment for jumping out of windows. It’s like a childish dream.”
“Here,” I pinched his arm, hard. He yelped loudly. Loud enough to rouse my sister from the corner, before turning her head back.
“What was that for?” he demanded – however, his voice was to low and cracked to sound like a demand – before spitting at my feet.
I drew my dagger from its sheath, pressing it against throat – although, I had enough control to stop me, I couldn’t help it. It dredged up the past. “Don’t you dare do that,” I hissed. “Show some respect.”
“Peace, brother,” my sister cooed, having drawn the blade from my own hand and holding it before my own eyes, her arm leaning on my shoulder. She tugged me away by the elbow. “Sheath your weapon,” when I didn’t her voice became stern and formidable, “Now.”
I did as I was told. The blade slid back into its sheath the same way a water droplet would seep through clothing. Right as rain. She withdrew from behind me, her back towards the chained dog.
Her voice, however, wasn’t as silent as her posture: “Don’t test our patience, boy. We are older and wiser, and I swear on my father’s grave that I will slit your throat if you don’t behave.” Her voice was frightingly calm and as cold as ice, hands clenched. “Do as you’re told, and we will release you in good time, understand?” Her voice was softer now, weighed less with a bubbling grief. The boy, Embry, nodded.
Before joining my sister, I looked down the wall and saw a few other wolf-boys chained up. They seemed to be a deep slumber, however their crooked posture gave it away – two other’s chained on the wall and one chained to the floor: he was the newest inmate to their basement, and at that moment he looked at me with eyes full of revenge and hatred. His eyes burned with it. The same russet skin and cropped black hair they all shared, but his eyes had not yet faded to hopelessness, like an empty void. He whispered one word, “Renesmee.”
I turned away sharply and stepped into the corner with my sister. It was only lit by a single candle, its flame like a star amongst the night of the room. “Sister,” I rested the pads of my fingertips on her wrist comfortingly. “Are you ready?”
“I will, brother. I must.” Her eyes were deep and drilling into mine. I could see she was seeing the past replaced before them like film reels. “I told myself sevenfold would take hold of anyone that hurt me, and it will.”
I took a deep breath, “It’s your call.”
“You disgust me. You’re scum.” The voice was cruel and anger-filled. My sister flinched but her shoulders remained straight, her spine stiff. “You’re the foolhardy children of a failure.”
She slapped him around the face, so hard the sound vibrated in my eyes. He cackled and it sounded like blood curdling in his throat. “Don’t you dare insult my father, you basterd.”
“Ah,” his voice was like slithering snakes. It crawled across my skin. “You are so fragile; it’s why he picked you. You took it all – you knew, didn’t you: watching him disappearing every night and return high on the blood he took and the infection he spread.”
Fury spread through my body, filling up every free space within me. “You have a right to talk,” I mocked. “You were deceived by him as well.”
He turned his head to the side – the dirty length of his hair covering his eyes, those eyes that still glowed yellow/golden along with ours. He shuffled in his chains. “What would you do if you knew you were going to die?”
My sister’s eyes widened by the shock of the question, clenching the unsheathed dagger tight in her fist. “You lie. He wasn’t going to kill you.”
We were unaware of his moving his hand towards another displaced blade close to him. “You know very little of his plan, missy? Maybe, that’s why he kept you out of them. To weak.”
“You don’t know me anymore. I trusted you, now I just wish you dead.” Her face was pinched, deep wrinkles appearing on her brow. I knew the chained wolf-boys behind us would be watching, but my sister needed this relief. To help at least stop some of her past from haunting her.
“Do you really?” His hand closed around the dagger, pulling it towards him. “I didn’t know you could tell the future.”
“She can’t…” I went to finish my sentence but then I saw it.
He pulled up the dagger so it shone in the partial light, “To bad. But you were right about my death.”
He went to plunge the dagger into his heart – to stop my sister from having her sevenfold on the people that hurt her – she screamed and lunged forward. I joined in, grappling with the dagger, pulling it away. The basement was a mass of thunderous roars, screams, shouts of anger and then silence.
The small blade dropped to the floor. Blood soaked her arm. Dripping to the floor. Her eyes were blank, her other hand clutching her chest. Her breathing was irregular, her chest rising and falling in an uneven beat. I caught her as she fell into my arms: “I did it.”
I looked towards the empty shell of a man who had sold all of his values. He was ended. Good and gone. The blade protruded from his heart in a grotesque manner. Blood stained his chest like red paint and pooled on the floor around us.
“You did, sister. But we still have work to do. We need will still need their help,” I said soothingly, while stroking her fine hair.
“I know,” she turned onto her side, so I could watch her face. Her lips were pursed in a tight line. “And I will help.”
In the background, the chained boys watched in horror. The newest sitting in the corner never raised his head, but I knew he had seen.
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- Edward, Cullen
My legs were still numb and sluggish as we broke through the undergrowth. I could feel the shift of tensed muscle and the pounding rush of venom to my legs, triggering the fluctuating bursts of speed.
I could hear the solitary branches grasping at my clothes, the knees of my worn jeans rubbing together, our lithe steps caressing the layer of decomposing litter on the ground and the pop as our arms sliced through gathering shrubbery.
I knew Bella was in front of me, the ends of her hair tickling the tips of my fingers, her breath an extension of my own. Although her figure was wrapped within the camouflage suit, the painted colors weren’t hard to make out.
There was the thudding of paws not too far behind us, the depth of those amber eyes embedded into the skin of our backs. A snap of jaws – a flash of white – and a strip of material from my shirt was caught between its teeth. I felt Bella grab a hold of my wrist, her fingers digging through the skin and it almost felt like she was clutching the bone, pulling me fiercely to the right. The shape darted past.
“Edward,” she panted, winded from all of the restless running. “Are you hurt? Did it get you?”
Still weakened from the attack, Bella turned my stiff body, ignoring my protests and probed the attacked area. The skin was taut and rigid, but no damage, her knowing fingers loosening the apprehension knotted underneath. She gave a huff and fiercely pressed her lips against mine, grinding herself against me as if this were our last moment.
My response was just as deep, yet not so unyielding that I thought it was our last. I chuckled against her bittersweet lips, nipping her bottom lip in playfulness. Even though beautiful, strong and immortal, Bella still had that lingering mortal worry over situations. She thought everything was our end, that there would be no preceding act and that the curtains would drop. Still youthful in her abiding life, she would have yet to determine our finale and when everyone would fall like toy soldiers.
“You fret over nothing, love,” I breathed. The scent of Bella, soil, the cool night air with a tang of wild flowers stuck to the bridge of my mouth, my lips dry with the taste. “Although my shirt is injured enough for Alice to throw a fit.”
“I hope she doesn’t mind that it’s going to be coming back home in less pieces than it’s already in,” she teased. She was already pushing me against the trunk of a tree, the angle of her body pressed into mine.
My hand slid a painfully slow line from her ankle, up her leg, over the kneecap and over her thigh. Even through the rough fabric of the clothes, I could feel the shivers circling her skin were my fingers had touched. “You pick the worst places in which to seduce me, Mrs Cullen.”
“Perhaps,” her lips ghosted over mine. “But, that will have to wait till later.”
We began running once again.
Confusion wisped around me for a brief moment: this was not like Bella; normally we became so concentrated in our love that it never dilutes until we show each other how profound it is, but this time she had refrained. Did she also smell the raw danger in the air?
Cool, clear skies rose above us within the deep depths of the crowd of autumn trees. A crescent moon hung in the sky, its light having filtering the rays through the half bare trees, it casting a silvery glow against the ground.
The breeze whistling through the labyrinth of trunks made the shadows a constant circle of dancers: lengthening or shrinking, making it almost impossible for us to avoid the morphing darkness. We were running for our lives, myself checking over my shoulder every few seconds. For once in my everlasting life, I knew that if we were caught alone we could die.
If we were caught, we would die by the hands of this monster.
I didn’t want our lives to end. Not tonight, not when I still had so much to say and give to Bella, to watch our daughter, Renesmee, grow up and be happy with the man of her dreams. Not in this cool autumn night when we should be at our cottage, declaring our love to each other.
My heavy breath echoed in my mind, vibrating in my ears, making everything sound unclear and blurred, so I pushed myself to match my pace with Bella’s so we could find the others. Panic consumed me at this moment, filling every part of me. Never in my life had I imagined myself to do something as torturous as this – to have my life so nearly ripped away from me, and still running from it. How had we ended up running away from a monster?
The thud of paws inched closer to us again, the sound spurring my fear of being pulled away into hell nipping at my heels. This was no ordinary wolf – the Quileute’s were supernatural, but still somewhat normal – this was something I had never experienced in my life: A predator, the hunter and a natural born enemy.
Tree’s loomed over us taller and taller as we veered farther to the left, Bella’s nails embedded into my skin as she pulled me along. Our conjoined dread and terror worked in sync with our swift steps. Breathe, in and out. Paranoia. Fear, in and out. There was no difference between the heavy emotions weighing down my mind and the heaving breaths in my chest.
The thudding continued, louder than ever as if it was ricocheting through the tree’s and echoing through the ground. “Edward!” Bella shouted, releasing my hand and pointing through a clearing.
Through the break in the trees, salvation loomed tall and proud. The sight filled my now weak night-vision; it couldn’t have been presented better even if it was a beach during summer, the sea and sand embracing. The large dead tree was like heaven incarnated into a physical object and nothing could have made us exhale in relief any more than we did, butterflies now flaring in my chest.
Crouching down low, we forced ourselves into the crack in the dead tree’s trunk, us now encompassed by its rotten bark as we huddled tightly inside of the tree. The footsteps had stopped and I strained my hearing to listen for them: the thick thud of paws.
Pressed together in the shadows, our survival instincts melted together until we were both breathing heavily, knots tied tightly in both of our chests as shadows engulfed us. The silence was inevitable. We were speechless.
Seconds seemed to melt into minutes, the minutes becoming what felt like hours in the stillness of the tree trunk, as we held our breath.
All a sudden, there was a pained howl in the distance and Bella instantly stiffened against me. I could see her bottom lip quivering as she mouthed the words I was dreading, “The wolves.”
In a flurry, we forced ourselves out of the tree trunk and into the night. It felt too constricted, too thick like we were walking through soup. My body registered the sound before I heard it: the stealthy and quiet footsteps of a swift on-comer, and human.
I pushed Bella out of the way instantly, knocking her to the ground. I was hit head first; the impact so startling that it knocked a breath out of me. For a human, they were incredibly strong! Grappling with their arms, which were trying to wrap around my neck, I held them out of reach. He struggled, locking his knees tight around my legs so he was fixed in place.
“Edward,” Bella screamed. From the corner of my eye I could see her getting up, and within a second he snapped his eyes towards her and she crumpled onto her knees, two fists pressed against her head.
Venom raced around my body, flowing onto my parched tongue. “You shouldn’t have done that,” I hissed manically.
“I’m sure I should have,” he replied silkily. The moon came from behind a cloud and his face was illuminated: coppery skin, a scar running down from his right eyebrow before disappearing underneath his T-shirt, a skin-head haircut, those piercing amber eyes – the pupil enlarging in the moonlight – and a five-star pendant around his neck. At that moment, he unsheathed an angular knife from his belt and thrust it towards me.
I grabbed his arm, twisting it until I heard the crack, then he dropped down in inexorable pain cradling his arm to his chest. I jumped up, looming over him until my lengthened shadow played over his face. “That’s why you shouldn’t have done that.”
“You have no idea who you’re dealing with,” he spluttered, coughing up a few splatters of blood.
“Oh, I do,” I growled.
Turning away, I raced towards Bella who was hunched over on the ground. I shook her violently, trying to break her free from the pain, so I could absorb it all into my body and take it away. “I can’t breathe, E-Edward,” she sputtered, clutching at her throat. “The shield – it’s, can’t…EDWARD!”
He was back on his feet, the knife tightly grasped in his other hand and before I could react, he slashed it across my chest leaving a gaping wound stretched from my shoulder and across my abdomen. I seized the knife and tackled him, throwing us both down to the ground and both holding on.
As we wrestled on the ground, his concentration on Bella had vanished and she slumped onto her back, gasping for breath even though it was involuntary – we didn’t need to breathe. She watched as we started battle on two feet – the unknown stranger’s fingernails having been sharpened to points so there were like knives, myself dodging but taking a few hits – a row of small pointed wounds implanted into my arm, temporarily weakening it.
With a tactical advantage, the stranger grabbed a hold of me and twisted his arm around my neck, ready to snap it off. So this is what it felt like to be so weak and helpless, to not be-able to affect your last moment. As if almost possessed by a demon, Bella raced for the knife and threw it with such an impressive aim that it buried deep into the stranger’s shoulder blade, crippling him.
“Are you alright?” she questioned straight away, helping me to my feet.
I stroked her cheek, wiping away the dirt. “I’m fine, darling. Are you?”
Bella rolled her shoulders, hearing them crack. She gave that human flinch at the sound before smiling, “Just peachy.”
“This isn’t the end, Cullen,” he spit as he stood up, hobbling for a second before regaining balance. Grasping the blade in his shoulder blade, he ripped it away with a muffled groan of intense pain, bent down and wiped the blood against the grass. “I’ll be back, and then I will win.” With that he dashed away into the wood.
“Shouldn’t we go after him,” Bella pressed, grasping my shirt tightly while inspecting the wounds on my arms and chest.
I moaned as her fingers ghosted over the damage, clutching my chest. The pain was actually agony, yet how come he ran away when he had suffered so much. My vision became blurry with an aching burning spreading everywhere. “No,” I sighed. “We’ve seen and tested his abilities, for now we must check on the wolves.”
“Agreed,” Bella nodded, wrapped my arm around her shoulder and we sped off into the forest tracing the scent of wolf.
We found them rather quicker than I had hoped. At that moment, all I wanted was the wind against my burning body as we ran. It cooled and soothed me.
Once we were in the clearing, Bella sat me down and I leaned against an outcrop of rock so I wouldn’t fall. The wolves seemed to be in count, but I could see that minor damage had been dealt. Sam was the worst: I could tell by his thoughts that his pride had been wounded deeply.
“Are you’s alright?” Bella asked the wolves eagerly, expanding her shield around us knowing that we were no longer safe here in the forest.
Jared came out from the bushes, having just changed, a make-shift bandage wrapped around his leg. He grinned wildly, “Were fine, just a few scrapes and bruises. Our pride was hurt badly though.”
“What happened here?” I demanded from them, although my voice was less commanding than intended, just rather weak. Sam gave a side-ways glance at me, his thoughts heavy with what happened. I got the story before I could blink.
Bella stamped her foot, “Can someone tell me? Were not all mind-readers here and it seems we’ve both been attacked.”
“When you left, Bella, to see if you can find Edward here, we found a different scent and tracked it. For a while everything was quiet but then we caught your scent.”
“And?” she pressed determined.
Quill was sitting cross-legged by the fire, roasting what looked like marshmallows. He was unusually not damaged. He looked perfectly fine, as a matter of fact. “Before we could reach you,” he continued the story. “We were ambushed by a girl.”
“Yeh, a pretty little girl with frills. Sam’s pride has been seriously injured that we lost, right?” Paul boosted, his laughter echoing loud in the thickets of the trees.
Sam growled, still in his immediate wolf form. His jet black fur symbolized his darkening mood. I heard him in his mind shout: shut up Paul.
“Anyways, we under-estimated her and got our asses kicked by a girl. She was pretty strong, although those glowing amber eyes of her’s were darn creepy.”
I sat up suddenly, my spine iron-stiff. “Amber eyes, did you say?”
“That’s what our ambusher had? Do you think it’s a common familiarity between them,” Bella questioned, taking over for me. Currently, I felt like going into a deep sleep – that’s if only I could have. The fight had weakened me considerably, yet we didn’t know how.
Jared shrugged, “It’s possible.”
There was a shrouded silence before Quill interrupted again but this time his voice was hoarse. “I think it’s time we should tell them.”
Sam bounded through the under-growth and quicker than a flash he was back, grinding his teeth. “We’ve had a hard enough of a job keeping this from Seth, what makes you think we should tell Leah. It’s going to make things a lot worse! There was even a leech outside the hospital when we went to visit her mom, yet she didn’t move! Vancouver has changed her, she won’t care!”
“You what?!” I shouted, standing up until I had to fall back down. Bella was at side instantly, soothing me. “A vampire was with Leah?”
“Not with her, but I knew she could smell it to. The thing was near and she didn’t even care,” his voice was strained, fists bunched.
Jared picked off Quill’s marshmallow from the roasting stick, Quill slapping him across the head playfully before he muttered a curse. “Quill has a point; they need to know, Sam.” The words were hard to make out as his teeth were stuck together.
“They do not!”
“Sam,” Bella chimed her voice low and calm. “Do you think it would be better if Seth and Leah knew the situation? We know Leah is snooping anyways, wouldn’t it make matters worse if she found out on her own. Plus, Emb–”
He strode towards Bella and for a moment he was thinking of raising a hand to her and I hissed through clenched teeth. He backed down. “Don’t you bring that up here. I know what happened!”
“We should go home, process what happened, heal” – she looked at me – “see our families, then we’ll regroup and think through this together,” she suggested.
“And tell Leah and Seth?” Paul added in.
Sam nodded, his head bowed. “So it’s all sorted,” I replied soberly.
Bella stroked my shoulder, putting very little weight on it. “We must tell Leah and Seth about how the pack is disappearing, how Embry disappeared a day ago and about the creatures lurking in the forest. She’ll understand. Maybe she’ll even know something.”
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- How will Leah react to being told?
- Who do you think is kidnapping the wolves?
- What and who are the people that attacked the pack and Edward & Bella?
- Edward, Cullen
My skin sparkled in an inconstant pulse, one minute I was glowing as the tiny shards of mirrors slotted under my granite skin reflected down the parted sun-rays, and the other I’d be just another lengthening and twisting shadow during the sunset.
The colours setting against the sky sent my skin aglow in varied colours – they deepened as the bleached-out sun was compressed beneath the horizon by the over-casting of bleak clouding.
A part of me mourned the loss of my partner shadow, the curved feminine figure of it running beside me. I missed the long flow of black ink against the ground latching onto my dark silhouette and following.
I smiled thinking of her curving around my own path, jumping and skimming through the trees in her camouflage outfit – her arms reaching out and grasping the branch, swinging around it and landing gracefully on the balls of her feet, her eyes scanning the proximity for our company. The company we had been following for the past three days, ever since our prom reminiscence, and to no avail.
The thick consistent thudding of paws caught my ears. I steered myself towards the sounds. The jet black wolf and its smaller counter-part were ripping through the under-growth, their glowing eyes staring into the distant with blank and incoherent thoughts. I tried to read them with struggling effort, but their lack of consistency only made my head feel as if it was a stirring black hole; sucking all the stability of people’s internal judgment away without remorse. I resisted the urge to scream out loud.
Also, Sam’s operational exertion was taking a toll on the group exceedingly; somehow his attitude was more violent and vehement than usual. I watched him carefully as I matched his pace and slowed, so that I was running at his forceful speed. I caught snaps of a diverging dispute in his thoughts, but not long before I discovered his thoughtful discord, he sped ahead and away from my immediate distance.
My own inner accordance supposed it was due to the missing members of his pack, yet his distaste left a bitter irritation behind. I swallowed it back, the angry emotions circling my head.
With the others running ahead, the wolves with their noses to the ground – the smells of this unknown territory misleading them – I turned swiftly left and swerved off onto another course, using my arms to slice the thorny branches as if they were garden sheers carving a hedgerow in the garden, severing wooden limbs to gain the shape I desired. I could feel the thorns raking over my skin, tearing my shirt, but the after effect was only parallel striations of blemished skin.
“I shouldn’t be doing this,” I chuckled darkly to myself, my voice a mere buzz in the lazy melody of the forest life at sunset. I knew Bella wasn’t going to be happy knowing I had driven off her designated course for me – it was true, she plotted every route I made, even if in life …or just a simple task.
She was my compass and I followed her directions, knowing my heart would always in the end lead me to her. I always had thought of my heart as a bird, its wings beating hysterically as if to take off and find its true match and as the distance grew between us, the more painful it became. Bella kept me grounded, which was the way I liked it.
Slowly my pace suddenly, so my feet dug into the ground.
There was that eccentric and alien tang to the air again – it was thick and soup-like, as if my legs were once again human and trying to cut through water faster than average mundane speed. I raised my head to the air and sniffed. It was my most outlandish reaction – I retched up air and fell to my knees.
“What is happening?” I moaned in a guttural tone, clutching my head in agony.
It was the natural born terror, fear and instant pain that I reacted to. My head felt like it was an inflated balloon, blood welling inside in a throbbing headache that echoed like thousands of assembling screams. I pushed my arms to my ears trying to tune everyone out, to block out these senseless shrieks of accusation and pleading sobs for survival.
I sank into an isolated hollow of my mind; trying to avoid the gut-wrenching pain, watching sinister walls collapse around me as I retreated into my safety hole until the screams broke the barrier and consumed me.
I didn’t know what was happening.
What threatening and obscured menace was forcing me to retreat, to recoil from its murderous plot? How long my withdrawal would last before this overriding torture would conquer my haven, and it would burn up leaving me in internal anguish.
I couldn’t go back to that, to the dark. Without Bella. I had experienced the dreary lifestyle based around the sweet delicacy of bloodlust, the desperation in my victim’s eyes as they begged to see the bitter sight of sunlight once more before death …and the flowing fury and parasitic lust encompassed in those ruby red eyes.
Hidden away from the pungent and acidic suffering, I didn’t know if I had fallen onto the ground in submission or relinquished my faith that Bella would find me – her pale angelic face answering my prays as I retained a suppressed conviction that she would arrive to save me, to pull me away from this unholy, dejected and vacant void.
I didn’t even know how long I was there, I was just aware that I was slowly slipping away – the screams creeping closer, the pain neither drawing away but gaining a raw and burning dominance over my resigning body and that soon I would be pulled away from everything I loved.
Two last logical thoughts dragged through my mind: this was not natural and whatever was happening was being forced upon me, as Bella’s mental shield is too far away to protect me; and whatever we had been following was stalking us and therefore we are the victims. They were the hunters, and we were the prey.
“Edward?” the voice was dim and sinking further away. If I had the strength in my throat to shout back I would have. The assembling screams were penetrating what isolated silence that I could muster and slowly slipping away, taking my conscious with it. “Edward, where are you?”
I could remember sitting frozen on Isle Esme when Bella had told me of her pregnancy, everything washing over me as I sat paralyzed. This was like that, but worse. I was losing control – the creatures we were once pursuing closing in on me.
One of them must have some sort of talent – and I’d left the protective radius of Bella’s shield. She had been protecting me from this gift until I escaped its barrier. This was my fault. Now I was sinking into my own personal purgatory because of my doubtful mistake.
“Edward Cullen you come out right now! If you’re hiding –” There was that sweet voice again, pulling away my concentration from strengthening the mind barrier to ward off the pain. If I wasn’t hiding inside of my mind, trying to cower away from the shrieking internal voices, I would have laughed and stalked the beautiful woman. Climbing through the tree’s and dropping behind her, ambush and then capture her in my arms – and to end it all, kiss her and let everything melt away besides us two.
My heart ached to be released.
Suddenly, I felt everything collapse inside. I still wasn’t even aware of what was happening; it was as if this talented creature could torture me through my own skill of reading minds, letting the begging and screams of all the people I killed in my early years wash over me, causing me to retreat inside.
A sharp stab of realization came to me, that is what was happening! I was hearing them, listening into their pleading last thoughts before I had killed them. From the murderer’s, to the rapists, to the innocent lives I had taken by accident when I was a newborn. The venom curdled in my stomach.
Now I was aware of being on the ground, of having the sharp rocks jabbing me in the face. I could feel them scrapping against the skin of my cheek, and I couldn’t move. I was aware of the hunched and painful position of my body, the muscles in my arms and legs protesting. I was shutting down, the voices overwhelming me and I could feel myself slowly slipping away. My skin was burning as if on fire.
So this would be how it would end.
Footsteps echoed behind me. “This is the end,” I said in the thinnest whisper, feeling pain encapsulate my body. They were everywhere – the pleading voices suddenly becoming angry, angry at me for killing them, and now they were getting their revenge.
Then they vanished. In a rapid jolt they were hurdled back. The painful and threatening voices receding, a weak-kneed feeling returning. I coughed up air, clutching my chest. Then, more footsteps. A blocked mind.
The figure burst through the thick undergrowth, a flurry of green’s and hair that looked like it had been nested in. Twigs and leaves were weaved into it in complicated knots. “Edward,” she breathed in relief, dropping to the ground immediately.
“Bella,” I replied somewhat breathlessly.
She grabbed my face and kissed me fiercely without warning. I could feel the strength seeping back into my bones as her shield wrapped around me. Hugging every part of my weakened body. When she pulled away, Bella grabbed my shoulders and shook me. “Don’t you ever do that to me again!” she cried, slumping against me.
“It’s my fault, Bella. I shouldn’t have left your course, and then I left your shield and I was attacked.” She gaped at me, her eyes strolling up and down my body examining for damage. I grabbed her hands and entwined our fingers. “It was a mental attack, darling. Physically, I’m fine. Mentally however, I’m drained.”
“Explain this to me, Edward,” she demanded.
I exhaled a long heavy breath. “I believe our little guest has a talent – I think it’s to manipulate our own gifts and turn them against us. My reading minds ability was reversed, instead of hearing others, they came back to haunt me. Voices of past people,” my voice dragged off. I despised talking about my past, dredging up all old things I had done.
“What you did in the past is not relevant now, Edward. Don’t think about it,” Bella reassured.
“Bella,” I whispered my throat still tight. “What I did, it’s always going to be there. If this creature tries a–”
Bella rolled her eyes, “You will be under the protection of my shield,” she grumbled, crossing her arms around her chest. “I would never let an–”
I held up a hand to silence her. “Quiet for a second, can you hear that?”
Everything was silent. Even the quiet hum of the leaves whistling in the wind. Beyond that there was the sound that made me clamp my arms around Bella and haul her to her feet. It was a low growling – it wasn’t the same as the wolves, but deeper and more threatening, even malicious. I had forgotten that I could have lain on the ground for hours and now the sun had vanished, the light replaced by the dark. The moon hung high in the sky.
“Edward, I think we should join the others,” Bella reasoned. She held out a hand to pull me up. Once on my feet, I wrapped a protective arm around her waist.
There was that muffled and malevolent growl again; we turned around and instead of seeing the black silhouettes of the bushes we saw something that made us want to run – a pair of angular, deep yellow eyes coming towards us and another snarl ripping through it’s lips.
(A few hours earlier)
Mary-Lynette dropped the salt shaker and looked up at her company, who now sat across from her. He had his hood pulled up – this was abnormal behavior for him, but she didn’t care. He needed to speak to her, that’s all that mattered. “Sure, sure. I’m sorry,” he muttered.
“So how are you doing? Been getting on alright?” he questioned.
He was watching his hands and looking around the small cafe, as if someone might instantly recognize him. “Cut to the chase, why did you want to meet up? I was going to go back to the hospital for a check-up, this asthma ain’t getting any better, you know,” she shrugged. “You said you knew something that might interest me,” Mary-Lynette added, leaning on her folded arms on the table.
“You might not want to do that after you’ve seen this,” he said as he reached inside his pocket and pulled something out. Mary-Lynette went to take whatever it was from his hand, but he snatched it back. “This is some serious stuff.”
“Are you going to give me a look, or what?” she demanded. She wasn’t getting any more patient, in fact she was getting irritated. The guy hadn’t even called her in weeks, just a few text messages to ask if she was alright. Going through things he had said. It’s not like we’re dating, just friends, but his behavior is real strange, she said to herself.
He took one last fleeting sweep around the room with his eyes, double checking the door for any new customers, then leaned over the table and beckoned Mary-Lynette closer with his finger. “You know how I’ve got access to loads of records,” he stated in a low voice.
“Of course I do,” Mary-Lynette chuckled. You mention it practically all the time. If you ever need some information on someone, just call me,” she did a small imitation of his voice. If anyone looked over, they’d think they were a couple of love-birds (not!)
He smiled. “My voice isn’t that high-pitched,” he mused. “Right, anyways I found some dirt on this guy you were going on about. I was in there searching for someone I knew here anyways, and since you mentioned he lived nearby I was curious.”
“You did what?” she replied aspirated. Mary-Lynette thudded her fist against the table, it was loud enough to attract the attention of a waiter. He sauntered over and asked for their order – nervous beads of sweat were rolling down his face. “I’ll have a black coffee, please.”
He looked at her company easily – most likely thinking he’s some kind of terrorist the way he was dressed. “Same as the lady,” he responded. The waiter shuffled away. “Now don’t be mad at me Mary-Lynette. You made it sound as if the guy had some sort of problem. I had to check up on him.”
“Oh right,” she rolled her eyes compulsively. “So what did you find?”
“I found an old article dated back maybe forty years ago, it was an award ceremony for something – I don’t know – take a look yourself.” He unfurled what now looked like a photograph that had been clenched against his palm and pushed it across the table towards Mary-Lynette.
The black-and-white photograph showed a large man with a receding hairline and bulbous cheeks, he was shaking hands with another. He was taller than him with platinum blonde hair and what looked like, light butterscotch colored eyes. He was completely unchanged! And this was taken, what? Forty years ago? How was this possible? Carlisle Cullen was still the same. “This has to be a fake or an ancestor at least? It can’t be real, no-one can live that long and look the exact same!”
“Young people are so naive and unaware these days, but I’m surprised at you.” He was slapping the table with the palm of his hand. “But then again, I suppose it’s for your own good.”
Mary-Lynette folded the picture and stored it in the pocket of her red vest jacket. “What are you talking about? Tell me.”
Picking up the pepper, he sprinkled some on the table and started shifting it with his finger distractingly. “If I tell you, will you promise me that you won’t freak out and run away? This is crucial. What I’m about to tell you is pretty bizarre and somewhat crazy, but it’s the truth. Okay?”
She nodded in response, “I understand perfectly.”
“Did your mother use to tell you about the ghouls that were hidden away under your bed? Well this is sort of something like that.”
Mary-Lynette raised an eyebrow. She was starting to become somewhat worried about her visitor – secondly, she had no idea where this conversation was about to go.
He continued. “Did she ever tell you about vampires?”
Her ribs tightened in her chest, her breaths coming out as heavy pants. “I have heard things, but there all twisted fantasies of vamp-lovers and internet geeks.” She knew it was a lie, she had heard things, but not in that way. The “Sister’s” had told her, but when they had said something about some of the vampires being on vegetarian diets, she gave up believing. It was ridiculous and crude lies!
“I know that you know about them, Mary-Lynette. You would have been told these things. Yet, you don’t believe them. But, vampires are real –” he moved away when the waiter came back, two steaming cups of black coffee in his hands. Mary-Lynette paid him quickly and he pushed off.
“This is crazy talk, but continue,” Mary-Lynette gestured, as she sipped at her coffee.
He pushed his coffee away, his nose wrinkling in disgust. “They live in small clans around the world, some feed on humans, and others don’t.”
Mary-Lynette snorted, how was it possible that they didn’t feed on humans, they were blood-sucking vampires?
“They never age, never eat or drink, and another thing. Their skin is always ice cold.”
Mary-Lynette remembered Carlisle Cullen’s cold skin against hers. A shiver rippled down her spine. Carlisle Cullen, a vampire? That was an insane idea! “You really are crazy, aren’t you?” she asked. “This can’t be real.”
“I must go, Mary-Lynette. But believe me, it is the truth. Search through the facts and you will know.” With that, her company stood up, leaving his black coffee, pulled his hood tighter around his face and left the shop.
Mary-Lynette was left sitting by herself, all alone, and confused. How was it possible that vampires existed? Or even the kind doctor being one. Carlisle had been sweet and gentle-man like – but there is evidence towards his theory of vampires, isn’t there? Her mind told her.
It was true. His icy-cold and deathly pale skin, the flecks of hungry black she thought she had imagined within his eyes, how graceful and fast he was when he had caught her arm in the hallway, only two seconds after she had gotten up. And last but not least, the way his eyes had lingered at her throat.
All of a sudden, she knew what she was doing before her heart reacted. Clambering outside of the cafe and into her old battered car, she drove towards the hospital. She was going to confront Carlisle Cullen, and then end his ever-lasting life.
Julian was pacing back and forth in the forest a few miles away from Leah’s home; he hadn’t wanted to make her feel uncomfortable knowing he was standing outside. Actually, he was glad for the privacy.
The full moon spared little light to the forest floor, so Julian was pacing in the dark – not that he needed the light, he could see perfectly, although the green contacts didn’t help too much. Many had asked why he wore them, but he always answered the same: it helped him blend in. Yet he knew better. It was to do with feeling human again, to not have people cowering away from his blood-red eyes – hopefully they weren’t to red anymore.
Since arriving in La Push to protect Leah, while avoiding her – as painful as that seemed to be – he had kept to a diet of animal blood. He knew feasting on the nearby humans would only upset her and that was the last thing he wanted to do.
The lustful monster inside him however, begged him otherwise. It cried out for a diet of the sweet pungent flavour of human blood. It was hard to resist. Yet he did. And it was all for her, for Leah.
Everything he did right about now was for the shifter girl. It was a strange feeling he had in the pit of his stomach – almost as if it wasn’t empty anymore. Like she filled a missing part of him. Could it be?
Finally the mobile vibrated in his pocket. Giving an irritated sigh of relief, Julian fumbled for it and raised it to his ear, “Hello?”
“Sir, we have bad news.” The voice over the phone was trembling, as if ready to be punished for lack of tolerance.
“What is it?” he demanded, Julian’s fists clenched at his sides. He knew he would have had to leave his team behind when he came after Leah, but it also worrying to know that they wouldn’t be-able to perform their tasks correctly without his orders. He growled over the line, “Enough of your silence, tell me,” he barked.
There was a small whimper. “We have lost him, sir. We can’t find him.”
Julian was silent as he ran his fingers through his hair. He bit back his anger, it circling his head. Walking over towards a tree, he punched it squarely into its trunk, a small dent left were his fist had came into contact with it. “I told you to keep an eye on him. What happened?”
“We were, we were watching everywhere he went, but all of a sudden we lost sight of him. He can’t still be in North Vancouver, we have checked all over the place.”
“Where was the last place you saw the shifter?” Julian challenged as the mobile was shaking in his fist.
The cold nipped at his skin, the silence being penetrated by the leaves crackling underneath his boots. “He entered the university campus, sir. After that we lost track of him.”
“I told you to keep an eye on the shifter, Daniel, while I’m away and you can’t even do that. You’re a pack of imbeciles,” Julian shouted across the phone, his eyes scanning the perimeter of the woods. He sensed a presence coming towards him. “Find the boy, otherwise I will,” he demanded then snapped shut the phone.
Leaning against a tree, a hand pressed against his forehead in annoyance, he waited until the slim figure of Leah broke through the darkness and she could see him. Something stirred inside of Julian; it was a deep feeling of longing.
“You came,” he stated. “I was starting to think your human life might entice you more than coming out with me.”
Leah snorted, trampling over twigs and logs to walk towards him. “My life would be so much duller if it wasn’t for all this secret stuff.”
“Does that include me?” he chuckled, helping her over a large fallen log, moss coating its rotten trunk.
“No,”Leah answered. Julian’s face fell, but then he realized that she hadn’t pulled her hand from his – was she frightened of him anymore? “You’re no secret, just some sort of strange coincidence,” she added. “Thanks for helping me as well; I owe you one for this.”
Leah smiled and he felt a grin spread across his own.
Julian glanced over at Leah.“Would you come back to North Vancouver if I asked?”
“No I wouldn’t,” she said, looking to the ground. That was when she pulled away, but still didn’t flinch. Their shoulders were brushing past each other. “I couldn’t abandon my family in a time of need. And that would be now.”
“Do you really?” she asked, now looking at him with wide, warm eyes.
Julian stopped walking, his throat tight as he tried to reason with himself. For once in his life he felt like disclosing this secret, a secret he had been harboring for years. “I do,” he stated, clicking his tongue. “After I changed, my family was in crisis. I stayed with them, even though I couldn’t be with them, until it was over. I stayed with them until they passed away – something I should have done as well.”
He watched Leah’s reaction – but, it was calm, as if she was appreciating what he was saying to her. Like it was confirmation that he wasn’t all monster. He was trying for her. “That was very sweet of you,” but then she burst out into a peal of laughter.
“What are you laughing at?” Julian inquired.
“I was just thinking; if you were really dead, what I’m about to do would be kind of gross.”
Julian was about to ask, but he was then silenced as Leah leaned over and kissed him softly on the cheek. It was at that moment he was about to tell her about the disappearance of Daniel – her imprint, Julian ground his teeth together at the thought – but he didn’t want to break the preciousness of the moment. Her lips were soft on his skin, it caused him to close his eyes and enjoy the tingling it left there.
Leah blushed deeply, “Just to say thank you and then there is this,” she punched him playfully on the shoulder.
“And that was for?” he asked as they started to walk through the forest again, the trees were less compacted together now so the moon shone down on them. Her skin was glistening in the white light.
“For making me blush like an idiot,” Leah responded.
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- Leah, Clearwater
Who would have ever thought I would have confided in Carlisle Cullen? He was one of the creatures I despised enough. His undead kin were responsible for my father’s death. I couldn’t show them any mercy or even sympathy; yet his calm and collected face had melted most of my worries, and I had confided in him the dream that had sent my turbulent fear spiraling out of control.
When I had told him the story of the fanatical dream, Carlisle sat and listened with open ears and comforted me as reassuringly as possible, the icy chill of his skin a false relief, but somewhat appreciated.
There had been no malice in his eyes that could have forced me into a false sense of security. The doctor hadn’t even launched into a colourful story about how delusional and mistaken I could possibly be. He was simply sitting there and refused to deny his judgement of my predicament – I sworn I had seen the compassion and condolence in his eyes.
Now that I had thought about it in depth, my rational side told me that it was more than a mere projection of my imagination, but a reinforcement of the man’s words who had been in my bedroom. They would hurt my family if I didn’t oblige to his commands.
My throat clenched as I replayed his instructions over and over.
“Ouch, darn it,” I cried, pulling my scolded hand away from the crackling pan and cradling it to my chest, the ambush of spitting hot oil dangerously close to my arm. I had been dreading the demonstration of my culinary skills all day; never once had Seth touched the food I had prepared. Now, however, he was compellingly silent and willing.
Carefully, I flipped the egg over with the used spatula. Seth had a bad habit of eating eggs raw and tasteless without trying new ways to eat them; this would be the first time. I was hopeful that he would enjoy the tasteful – yet effortless – recipe of “Eggs over Easy.”
“Is that safe to eat?” Seth asked. The rumbles of his empty and yearning stomach were loud enough for me to hear and to acknowledge that he was hungry.
I chuckled lightly, masking my inconsistent thoughts. “Do you want to be the first to check if it’s poisoned, or me?” I mused.
Seth looked at me through a hooded gaze, a thin smile on this lips, and then went back to picking at a lose thread on his overly-washed gray sweater. The hood was pulled forward over his head – a messy tuft of dark hair – and his mind was lingering elsewhere.
Seth’s attention was hanging on to Mom; whatever conversation I tried to establish – such as the pack, Sam now picking up Emily’s mom since our family was in crisis mode… and Jacob’s strange behaviour – it always strayed back like an lost pet to that un-needed topic, which churned my stomach until I felt like retching up air.
Back at the hospital, once I had slept away my ultimate fears and suppressed desires, I finally managed to grasp a connection on my mobile. Seth was first in my list of people to call, and to my oblivious temperament I discovered he was punching out his sorrow, betrayal, worried and hurt feeling on tree’s.
A neighbor had called and told him, unnecessarily, that he would do anything to help us in these forlorn times. And then there was the Cullen’s. I had to tell them something, so I asked if they could keep a watch out. I received their apologies and then they were gone – it was as if they’re keeping something suspicious from me.
Seth was adamant in his endless demands to go and see mom at the hospital, the look in his eyes carrying a burden of stress and anxiety. However, I had used my artificial authoritative tone to keep him here.
“Dinner’s served,” I said, sliding the “Eggs over Easy” onto a large plate and pushing it towards Seth and his pouting face. He stared at me with wide eyes at first, apprehensive about the first taste; but it wasn’t long until the freshly-cooked smell enticed him to eat; his movements however were still strained.
“Do you think Mom will be alright?” he questioned, swallowing his food and asking in a small trembling voice, as if pleading for the release of his coiling worry. The cutlery was shaking in his hands. I knew this was about our father just as much as Sue.
I took a deep breath; this was what I had been waiting for. “She’ll be fine–”
“–How do you know that though?” he bellowed loudly, thudding his fist against the table, so it rocked on its heels, the glass of orange juice like a hurricane inside of a cup as it shook violently against the tables convulsions.
“Seth!” I replied, biting my bottom lip to hold back the coming of the stinging hot tears in my eyes. “Don’t say such trivial things.”
Pushing his hood back, revealing the stained tracks of dried tears on his cheeks, Seth threaded his fingers in his cropped hair nervously. “I wouldn’t, if you’d just let me see her,” he sobbed somberly, resting his head on my shoulder.
I grabbed his other fisted hand and held it tightly against my own palm; I could feel his thudding pulse through his fingers against my own repetitive heartbeats. They were then swallowed up in my own deceitful guilt. The pain that was visible in his face was heart-wrenching and the kindling warmth that had spread to my fingers and toes receded, bringing an arctic chill to my skin.
“Seth,” I soothed, pulling my arms around him to comfort – and console – him like a sister such be. Seth looked up at me with tearing eyes; this was the first time I’d seen him cry since our father’s death. It made my heart clench tighter as if squeezed. “Mom has faced tougher challenges than this; we can’t let our worries deepen our fears anymore than what they are,” I said, holding back the battering force in my throat to spill everything I knew.
Seth shifted from my shoulder, wiping away the tearing sobs from his eyes. “Dad would have wanted us to keep our cool,” he added, leaning back towards the table where he gulped down the fresh orange.
“We can’t lose what we never had, Seth,” I added, rumbling chuckles from both of us, before it returned to an eerie silence.
I licked my own lips, my throat parched and rubbed dry like sandpaper with my tearless mopping. Stepping towards the sink, I grabbed the nearest cup and filled it with misty water, throwing it down in one whole gulp. The pain of this whole ordeal weighed heavier than the load of my pride, my selfish arrogance keeping me to tell anyone the whole story.
Looking through the murky panes of the window, I noted a family carrying a picnic basket and heading towards the small and dilapidated park. The father was tall and carried a sense of loyalty in his countenance; on his shoulders was a young girl, a fist-full of his hair in her bundled little fists. On his left was the mother, a length of black hair down to her waist, she was holding hands with a little boy with dark hair, who was clutching a toy-train in his hand.
“Carlisle said mom would be fine,” I assured Seth, turning around to face him. Has was busy finishing off his “Eggs over Easy” – success! He likes them! That’s a first. But my words had startled Seth and he was watching me closely.
Seth wiped his greasy hands on his jeans. “You saw Carlisle?” He questioned, half-way between traumatized and stunned – Seth knew I disliked the Cullen’s strongly and his reaction was very much expected. “Talked to him?”
I smiled warmly. “I did. He was very ki–”
“Leah Clearwater, were you about to say Carlisle was kind?” Seth chuckled, clutching his own chest in laughter, unaware of the absurdity of it. But it was true; I was actually going to say he was kind, even considerate, towards our problems.
“I – Alright you caught me,” I surrendered, holding up my hands. Seth watched, as if his eyes were recording this moment so he could put it on playback later. Oh yes, he would be enjoying this. Perhaps it was the illogicality and silliness of the events in North Vancouver that had changed my mind – although, the image of Julian still sent stern shivers down my spine. “Carlisle was sweet and caring, I have to admit I was wrong about him, but–” I affirmed, seeing Seth about to say ‘I told you so’ and declare himself victorious in his war to change my mind. “–he is still a vampire.”
Seth’s face didn’t even fall by the tag I added on the end, he just kept staring at me in mock-horror. “Who are you and what have you done with my sister? Are you a clone? A swamp monster?”
I burst out laughing, feeling everything leak away and replaced with a genuine and substantial delight. “You wish, squirt. Now eat up. Emily’s mom is staying over, remember, so I need your help cleaning.”
Emily’s mom, Tallulah, was a lady of organization.
If mom was around she would have made us scrub the entire house up and down before Tallulah arrives, which we did, but mom’d give us a break occasionally. We would have triangle–shaped sandwiches with coffee to regenerate the use of our arms, but this time we worked non–stop, the image of mom lying still and unmovable in the hospital bed pushing me forwards, despite the plea’s and squealing protests from my aching body.
When we had finished the whole house and it looked as if we had just bought it, furniture included of course, and polished everything with whitener. The kitchen floor even reflected our faces back almost like a mirror.
After the taxi had dropped off Tallulah, we warmly greeted her and showed her around, including the guest room, which would be hers for a while. Sam lingered behind, he was sewn to my shadow, following me wherever I went. Seth lagged behind. He knew I was going to see mom after this. I was half-expecting him to grab onto my ankle and plead to come, however he remained calm, or at least he hid his uneasy anxiety and growing angst.
“Are you alright,” Sam asked, placing a hand on mine as the taxi pulled into the hospital parking lot. “Do you want me to come in with you?”
My hand felt uncomfortable under his, it was as if our contact was now poisoned and each touch sent unease spreading through my body like a wild-fire. I removed my hand and looked into his earnest eyes. “I’ll be fine, Sam. I won’t be alone,” I stated.
“Oh right,” he replied gravely, sitting back into the seat. “The doctor vamp is keeping an eye on you.”
“Carlisle is, yes. I asked the Cullen’s to help,” I answered. Sam eyed my curiously as the taxi stopped. He was right on one part; Carlisle would be watching, but even if he wasn’t around, someone else was.
I knew it was because I was always alert to their presence – the same musty scent amongst others; the edgy feeling I got when they were watching my every move, and the prickle on the nape of my neck when they vanished. “I better go,” I opened the door and slipped out. Goosebumps rose on my arms – my stalker is here, oh joys!
Sam pulled himself out as well, caught up and grabbed me by the elbow. I looked back suddenly alarmed. “What is up with you, Leah? You’re acting different. You never used to like these leeches.”
I shuddered violently, that word having a profound effect on me.
Sam’s teeth were clenched. “I want the old Lee-Lee back.”
My heart stopped beating and the blood was constricted at my wrists, my fingers frozen into fists at my sides. Sam had used the old nick-name he gave me when we were together, and happy, and now it sliced open old scars, letting long gone memories spill out and enrage me even more.
My legs were like half-melted wax, I couldn’t move. “Sam, I can’t – let go,” I instructed him, since my body wasn’t registering to any of my screaming mental commands.
His grip tightened for a moment, and then I knew why. There was a flurry of wind around us; like someone had just run past us and the sweet smell gave it all away. Darn you! Sam started to pull me away.
“Let go, Sam. I’m going to see my mom,” I demanded, pulling away before stepping back towards the sweet smell that – for an odd reason – didn’t seem so unbearable right then.
“Leah, are you crazy?” he shouted, gesturing towards the taxi. “Get in, you know that smell anywhere. You hate it!”
“Sam!” I put my hands on my hips. “I can fend for myself. Go home to Emily; I’m going to see my mom before it gets dark.” I spun around to leave.
“I’m coming with you,” he said and ran up to me then stood by my side.
Can’t you just see I want to be alone? “Sam,” I half-shouted, as I tried to contain my temper. “Go home, please,” I pleaded.
His face fell, and I mean literally fell. It was as if on that point, at that very moment, he lost all respect for me and who I had become. Did he really prefer the moodier, vamp–hating me, or the new happier Leah? I couldn’t tell, but one thing I knew was that I wasn’t going to allow Sam to get in my way ever again; not in the way of being happy, or in the way of my relationships. That part had ruined me and now I was finally healed.
Sam backed off. “I’m sorry,” he mumbled, his head bowed, then he climbed into the taxi and it shot off, as if an arrow being twanged from a bow.
I felt my heart sigh with relief, and then cold, hard eyes staring at me. “Was that really necessary?”
“You tell me, Leah. Did you want the ruffian gone, or not? I can get him to come back,” his voice was low and seductive, like a cat purring. He flicked his black hair from his face, his green eyes shining underneath like the color of stained glass.
“Can’t you listen to a girl for once? You may have loads of girls begging you to bite them, and you accept, but understand this: When I told you to stay away from me, I meant it, Julian,” I retorted acidly, my expression bitter.
Julian gave a light laugh. “I understood perfectly, Leah. But do you not comprehend that I vowed to protect you, and here I am. Be grateful,” he mused, clicking his tongue.
I pushed past him and walked onwards, his presence however irritated me and I turned back. “You can leave now, Sam’s gone, not that he was a threat,” I said sharply, jabbing a finger at him pointedly.
“Dear one, that young wolf-cub was not your threat, this threat is much bigger. You must come back home, to North Vancouver. It is safe there,” he replied, holding out his hand. “With me,” he added a bit too quietly for my liking.
Was Julian actually referring to my safety? I was with him, a vampire, and he calls this safety? “How do you know this? And when will this threat begin?” I demanded.
“It was in the prophecy, you are not protected here,” Julian fretted, a sullen fear even brewing behind his green contacts. I repeated my second question again, but more abruptly. “You will know: there will be blood, fire, death and in the background a five-pointed star.”
My insides froze: the five-pointed star! I remembered it clearly – hung around the intruder’s neck and glistening from the light of the full-moon. “I have to go see my mother,” I stammered, turning my back towards him and walking towards the entrance, my mind simmering in turmoil.
“Leah,” Julian shouted. There was a whisk of wind, then his hand against my cheek. For once the coldness felt good against my fever-hot skin. I didn’t flinch away.
Julian’s touch was smooth, and for a moment, I even felt dazed.
“Your mother will live, heart-attacks do not run in your family so she will survive,” he revealed, and then vanished before I could blink. I touched my cheek and stood there for minutes on end, as I waited for the cold edge to leave my skin, and to once again be replaced by the taunting heat.
Her breathing was just as before, paced and almost sleep-like, as if she was in a long-term nap. She even acted out the part well; occasionally mumbling or talking in her sleep. So far it was only quite incoherent rambles. It was somewhat comforting to hear her voice, even if she wasn’t awake.
I had pulled the chair up by the side of her bed and sat there for nearly an hour holding her hand, praying for the release of this ever-lasting sleep and for her to wake up.
My mind whirled: Could it be one of those Disney Princess things where only her true love could wake the princess from her eternal sleep? Charlie could try, I guess, but my dad was her only true love.
And he was gone.
I ran my fingers over her knuckles soothingly.
Carlisle had even been in to check up on myself and Sue, but even he couldn’t do anything to help bring her back to us. There had to be something….something Julian had said that I hadn’t caught.
Julian had mentioned my father and his heart-attack, but what does that have to do with anything? My mother had the same and if I didn’t find a cure, I’d never be-able to tell her how sorry I was, or ask her to call me every name relating to a bad daughter as possible.
For once, I wished the walls in the omnipresent room would cave in and collapse around me. First this, and now Julian’s prediction of La Push chaos:
Blood…fire…death….and a five-pointed star!
Who thought coming back to La Push for my father’s remembrance, and other reasons, would be so confusing and problematic.
“Test results.” The voice was faint but I knew it from anywhere. I threw my head up and watched my mother mouth words, some of them forming on her tongue, others being lost. I stood up, tears already welling up in my eyes.
“Mom,” I sobbed, jerking her wrist slightly to see if she’d wake up.
She didn’t stir, just silent words pouring from her cracked, dry lips.
“Harry…results…fake..accident…report.” Those were just a few that came out, as my heart twisted.
The rest was senseless babble about house chores, bills to pay, myself and Seth, Charlie and a name I hadn’t recognised before, but my attention was elsewhere. Julian’s words stirred in my head.
“Your mother will live, heart-attacks do not run in your family so she will survive.”
Questions burst through my mind and in a flash everything came together. My heart was racing at new incredible speeds.
If what I was thinking was truly possible, I’d need evidence. To get the proof I required; I’d need someone to help me; someone without body-heat and a stealthy personality. There was only one man, or creature, for the job.
“Julian,” I breathed.
I knew within an instant of saying his name that he would come. It was like a telepathic connection.
Climbing onto the hospital bed with my mom, I curled up against her and shut my eyes, just wishing everything would disappear.
“Leah, wake up,” a soft voice called in my ear, a string of hair being pulled off my face. My eyes flashed wide open, my body alert. Julian’s face was inches away from mine, his cheek almost pressed against my own. Warmth against cold. “Are you awake?”
I helped myself up and rubbed the sleep away from my eyes. “I’m fine. What time is it?”
“Quarter to ten at night,” he replied looking at his watch. I muffled my slight giggle at the thought of a vampire wearing a watch; I was then silenced by my instant silly reaction.
“Seth and Tallulah are by themselves, I have to go home,” I whispered. Julian helped me to my feet; I felt unsteady and gripped the support rail of the bed to keep me upright.
Julian was watching me intently, a shiver ran down my spine, but I pushed it firmly back. Had I forgotten about Daniel? My chest twisted at the thought of him. “You can go home if you wish. Now what did you call me here for?”
“Call yo–” I went to start, but I quietened myself. He wasn’t going to help if I insulted him too much. “I need your help.”
“Tomorrow, you want to go home. I’ll order transport for you,” he stated, rather gentleman–like.
Was it me or had his attitude changed dramatically since I saw him in North Vancouver? “That doesn’t matter, I’ll go home and then I’ll sneak out. They’ll never know, Seth especially.”
He nodded cordially and drew a finger over his lips and tossed the key. “Fine, so what is on the agenda for tonight?”
“We’re going to break into the coroner’s office,” I stated plainly, my voice determined.
- Why is Sam acting out-of-character?
- Will Julian’s predictions come true? And what will happen?
- What does “Fire, blood, death and the five-pointed star” symbolize?
- Who’s was the other name Sue muttered in her sleep?
- Why are Leah and Julian breaking into the coroner’s office? And what does Leah need evidence for?
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- Carlisle, Cullen
The stale smell of the lingering disinfectant temporarily silenced the afflicting scuffle of my disorganized thoughts and peaceful resolve as I walked quietly down the hospital halls, the clipboard seized between my hands.
Children tired to pull their parents arms away like parting the tide as they were clasped tightly against their chests, their cries of indignation piercingly shrill. Elderly sat as still as statues, their heartbeats feeble with age. And then there was the girl with the olive eyes, hidden under the crown of short-cut blonde hair.
Her hands were tightly clasped together, fingers running nervously over her knuckles. “Hyde, Mary-Lynette,” I called.
The girl’s head snapped up, her fair brows drawn together. “Here,” she responded, pulling her tall and lean figure from the chair.
Mary-Lynette stood at my shoulder height; she was wearing a pair of black jeans and a “Guns N Roses” T-shirt with a pair of worn shoes. Either she liked to walk a lot or her funds were scarce. I pulled the curtain along and gestured for her to enter into the small hospital space.
“If you would just like to sit down, Miss Hyde,” I said, motioning, pulling my chair from under the desk as I flipped through her medical records mutely.
This girl was a peculiar and rare sight: my patients were friendly in a platonic way, but were somewhat always reserved and their countenance was not always courteous. This girl, on the other hand, was refined and genteel for this modern generation; her language and posture neither coarse or pinched – but sociable and open.
“Call me Mary-Lynette please.” She looked at my name tag warily, “Doctor Cullen.”
I half-smiled warmly. “Your records are quite clean, Mary-Lynette. Have you ever experienced this degree of pain before?” I asked, blocking out the omnipresent buzz from the nearest surgery room, the clang of sterile metal and the newly formed guttural screams from a new-born child.
“I have not; rather it started a week ago when I was visiting in Minnesota,” she answered and her ears pricked up when she caught the sounds of light footsteps behind the curtain.
I clicked my pen and started to write; the words of no interest to me but rather the person they came from. “You have relatives there?” I guessed.
“I do.” Her head bowed, obscuring the angelic features of her face in the shroud of her spun golden hair.
I looked away to spare her from my conflicted gaze. “Can you tell me some of your symptoms, Mary-Lynette?” I intruded a few moments later, cutting her silence in half by the supple and inhuman presence of my voice. My eyes then caught something glistening; it was no jewel or precious metal, silver wasn’t that rare, but something that sparked a memory of the distant past I couldn’t reach.
The years flicked back like tossing the pages of a calendar until it rested on around the 1640’s – it was absurd to know that my reminiscence of the foremost dates in my life were as dim as a lantern with a dully flickering flame. I could see the depiction of mobs with pitchforks and blazing torches chasing a woman who was carrying a baby in a shambolic bundle of sheets as she sped away on her heels printed behind my eyelids.
My hand gripped the side of the chair tightly, the plastic crumbling in my viper grasp. The reel of images rolled on like the tide of the Thames River in London, the smooth and fairly discolored turbulent waves swelling against its banks as it slid down the stream.
I saw my father, an Anglican Pastor, stand in front of the congregation of people in his black robe and white neck tie while gesturing to the woman – who was grasping her child tight against her chest to silence its wails – tied to the pole and ready to burst up into flames for her hypothetical leisure pursuit of witch craft. I had closed my eyes tightly. Another innocent life wasted for our cruel and dim-witted experimentation.
I hadn’t heard her shrieks as the flames licked at her body like tongues of spitting fire, but my father’s words rung through my ears as I hid behind the crowd, the reflection of fear in the woman’s eyes as she ran imprinted forever in my mind. I pushed myself away from this unsightly and threatening remembrance firmly and sat staring at the cross – the handles of the chair snapped in half.
“I better get out of here,” she asserted suddenly, seizing my attention away from the hollow at the base of her throat – the small silver necklace in the shape of an Anglican cross hung there, nestled against her collarbone as if it belonged there. She sprang up and retreated towards the curtain, away from my stretching fingers, like an arrow twanged from a bow. Pulling it aside she paced out into the corridor with a gentle gait, an arm held over her eyes to hide them away from me.
I heaved myself up quickly and moved through the curtains with a spur-of-the-moment alacrity. I grabbed her free arm and pulled her back. “Mary-Lynette, wait,” I burst out.
“I can’t be here,” she sobbed mournfully, struggling to gain a grip at her words. “I’m sorry, Dr Cullen. I shouldn’t have come; it’s too soon for me.”
I put a finger under her chin and lifted it so I could see her face; a tear hung underneath her thick dark lashes like a crystal tear drop. With a light touch I swiped it away from her face. “Call me Carlisle.”
The creases faded from her brow, color flooded her cheeks the shade of an amaranth rose.
William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 strode through my mind, like a stiff wind sending the autumns leaves marching through the air:
“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.”
Shakespeare’s sonnet was wrong in terms of her mesmerizing appearance, but it detailed all the thoughts that scuttled through my mind in the moment her tear was clasped within my fist and my eyes roamed across her delicate, yet strong-minded, facial features – eyes the color of green dyed blown-glass and satin; skin tainted with a layer of an ivory complexion, lips as red as the crimson elixir that ran through the threads of veins in her body like a sweet wine waiting to be sampled, and hair as pale as sunlight.
I was utterly fascinated with this girl. I adored her in new complicated ways, it wasn’t love – Esme was everything I needed and wanted. I was Esme’s satellite and I worshiped the ground she walked gracefully upon, like a majestic swan gliding over water – but, this teenager, Mary-Lynette, she sent my mind spiraling out of control. And she held a piece of my hazy history around her neck.
“Carlisle,” she mumbled, her voice still dry and throaty after spilling her tears. I watched her with caution. I couldn’t get too attached to this girl; the thought of hurting her twisted my chest in new anguished patterns.
“What’s wrong?” I questioned, my eyes drilling into hers and the thrill of her using my name shivering down my spine.
Mary-Lynette looked down at the floor. “This is going to look strange if another doctor walks by,” she raised her face and nodded towards her arm.
I stepped back, aware of the situation. “My apologies, I didn’t mean to. A simple mistake of mine.”
“Don’t worry about it,” she rubbed her arm, before going back to grasping a fist of her T-shirt in her fingers. “I’m going to go. It was nice meeting you, Carlisle.”
I looked at her through worried eyes, my regular custom of habitual breathing ceased to exist for a moment before I brought myself to breathe in to make myself look somehow more human than a vampire. “You came to the doctor’s, Mary-Lynette, for a diagnosis – not to leave. Come inside and I’ll sort you out with some medication.” I gestured inside, holding my hand out to her.
“I–” she stammered, looking unsurely at me. Then she walked back to the crowd in the waiting room. The moment when she went to take a step towards me, was too slow for my liking. Truth be told, I was being engulfed in a perpetual nightmare with each uncertain look that drew on her face. “I’ll be fine, Doctor Cullen. I won’t keep you any longer, there’s a lot of people out there that need your help,” she answered sternly, before turning and walking away.
The rapid rat-a-tat-tat of her heart echoed in my ears, and briefly I let myself be diverted from reality as I listened to her pounding heartbeat until it left the building.
I was sitting opposite my next patient, my legs crossed at the ankles and my shoulders straight. I was gazing at her intensely, but I didn’t see her at all. Every image I saw throughout the rest of the morning was polluted with a resembling silhouette of Mary-Lynette Hyde – her figure watching me in return with wide and puzzled eyes, her lips moving but no sound escaped.
I couldn’t comprehend what was happening, the illusion became stronger and all of a sudden the room felt too constricted, my rib-cage tightening with a lack of oxygen.
“Did you hear what I just said; I mentioned that after having my appendix removed I’ve been feeling much better. Will I have to make some diet changes to accompany the healing process?” she questioned, a subtle fury brewing behind her strangled words. “Since you’re back from your not-breathing exercise and dazing into space, maybe you can listen now.”
I kept calm, deepening my breathing. “My sincerest apologies, Ms. Cope. Do you mind if I briefly excuse myself? I wish to check your records to see if I can gain an answer to your question?”
She nodded and I swiftly left the room, wincing at the thought of almost exposing my family because of a foolish hallucination. It’s only because she may be able to relieve you off some of your lost memories, my mind added.
“You look as pale as ghost,” Doctor Snow began tentatively as I was piecing together Ms. Cope’s report from the large filing cabinet. “I suspect you’ve already met her out-of-character temper this morning?”
“I have observed it directly, and it can only cause me distress to think of the reason behind it,” I said, closing the drawer and opening the next.
Dr. Snow shrugged. “No-one knows. She snapped at Dr. Gerard earlier when she went for her X-ray – probably because she had to wait a while before gaining his attention.”
“How can you be sure, Harold?” I asked, flicking through her folder to find her track-record.
“I gained insight to the situation first-hand, from the source itself. He was surprised by the woman’s sudden attacking temper,” he responded, biting his bottom lip.
I frowned for a long moment – my forehead creased with concentration as I skimmed a pen across the words on her record.
“According to my schedule, a woman has just been checked in after having a heart-attack,” Harold Snow said earnestly.
I smiled back. “May I request their name?”
“Sue Clearwater,” he replied, moving away and pacing.
My sudden concern triggered an alien response in my mind that I was unable to fathom. I inhaled a little too quickly and slammed the drawer shut a little more violently than usual.
My lips were pursed tightly together – what had happened to Sue Clearwater? Was she to have the same fate as Harry? “I will take care of Ms. Cope,” he stated. “Don’t dwell too much on the fact that her husband died of a heart–attack,” he said with a confident smile. “I have seen her and she is recovering fine. I believe she has faced tougher challenges.”
The recognition of what I had been thinking of caused my voice to shake in determination and resolve. “Thank you for your understanding.”
After handing over my patient to Dr Snow, I headed towards the ward Sue was residing in. I knocked on the door feebly with the rap of my hand; Leah Clearwater opened it, her face streaked with dry tears. “Don’t think you can come here and say you feel sorry for me,” she said in a trembling whisper.
I took a step further, pushing the door open and entering. The small rectangular room was bathed in a dim golden light from a lamp, a discolored armchair in the furthest corner of the room with an old blanket half on the floor.
I watched her crawl back onto the seat and curl up into a ball; I closed the distance between us daringly attempting to seek some sort of explanation. “I am not here to say I am sorry, although I feel a deep sorrow for the matter,” I explained thoughtfully. Leah scowled at my words. “What happened?”
Leah froze and stared past my shoulder towards the unconscious figure of her Mother for a long moment; she was shaking fiercely as she grasped the blanket closer around her body. The silence felt like it continued for hours, but I kept my patience, pulling a nearby chair closer and perching upon it tolerantly.
She swallowed down a lump in her throat. “I did it.”
I shook my head and slipped my hand into my pocket and retrieved a white handkerchief and handed it to her hastily. “I believe your good-nature would not allow you to hurt your mother, Leah. I know you would do anything to avoid hurting anyone.”
“I – I don’t understand anything,” she whimpered in a strangled, hollow tone.
“I can’t help you if you don’t give me an explanation of what is going on,” I said, placing my cold hand upon her heated skin. She didn’t flinch, but rather gazed at me in a rational manner.
Blinking the tears away from her eyes, she heaved a heavy sigh and in a quiet agonized mumble she responded, “I have nothing to lose.”
I pulled my hand away from hers and watched Sue’s breathing, the rise and fall of her chest humming in my ears. I ignored the wild desire that burst through my veins – I might have been almost immune to human blood, but I could still smell the bouquet of intoxicating smells that leapt from the skin of humans. “No more secrets,” I stated after moments of stillness.
“I had a feeling something was going to happen,” she answered in a tight, choked, voice. “My dream was so realistic, yet I was blind and took no attention to the warning I was given. It was awful; the more I struggled to gain passage out of the nightmare it made it worse.”
I laced my fingers tightly together, watching her carefully as she stiffened against the chair.
“Do not torment yourself with these thoughts, Leah. You have done no wrong.”
“I was walking over the crushed bones of the people I loved. I could see their scarred faces staring up at me with blank eyes, hands stretching out and grabbing at my heels,dragging me down into the depth. I saw the destruction of your family as well,” she added, closing her eyes sketchily.
Her heartbeat was unsteady with a pungent fear; it was like a coiling serpent in my stomach, spreading the dread – the alarming panic of my family’s safety a growing ache.
“Continue,” I said, narrowing my eyes.
Leah wrinkled her nose for a split second – my sweet smell obviously wasn’t helping the situation. “I walked onwards, holding my head as high as I could – seeing their faces would have only made me collapse on the spot – and then I saw it,” she stopped hesitantly and then retched up air.
A flood of tears started to spill over her lashes and she leaned firmly against the chair, as if it was the only support she could use to keep her from falling further.
I leaned in closer and rested my palm on her shoulder consolingly.“You’ve done great, Leah. But you must remember this is only a dream. You cannot account it as a reason for your mother’s heart-attack.”
“But it is my fault!” she confessed, leaping up and shouting as spurts of tears rolled down her cheeks and pooled on the floor. Too many tears, first Mary-Lynette and now Leah Clearwater. “I shouted at her every obscenity that would ever hurt or injure her, and it did! Don’t you get it? I said that Harry wasn’t my Dad and that she didn’t love me. It’s entirely my fault,” she spluttered, falling to the ground against the wall, her face buried in her arms.
“Now I cannot condone and account for your insolent behavior towards your mother, Leah, but I can tell you something.” I bent down and whispered in her ear slowly. “Your mother will never back down, and even your words would never cause her that much harm. Suffice to say, her heart-attack was caused by something else.”
She looked up at me with sad eyes, her fingers knotted in her hair in frustration. “I’d never thought I could talk to a leec-vampire before and that he’d make me feel better,” she disclosed.
“I must be a first then,” I chuckled, helping her up with my hand.
With her settled back into the chair – the blanket pulled up to her neck, her breathing slow and steady as she was ready to drift off into hopefully a dreamless sleep – I opened the door and went to slip out.
“Carlisle?” she gulped.
“At the end of the dream, I saw my mother and brother lying on a huge memorial of twined sticks and branches as it was set alight. Around it were the corpses of the wolves and then two others that I love dearly,” she uttered quietly, her eyes closing. “How can one’s dream be so cruel?”
I spared a glance at Sue as she was in trance-like state across the bed, her eyes tightly shut and the thrum of the blood in her body constant. A shiver ran down my spine. “I don’t know, Leah. Maybe one day we will figure it out.”
1. Will Carlisle ever seen Mary-Lynette again?
2. Is she tied with his past?
3. Do you think Sue will recover? Will she remember anything before her heart-attack?
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Quick Author’s Note:
Sorry for my apparent absence lately; but college was too demanding and my education is far too important. However, now since Winter Break has officially started I now have free reign over my postings. I hope you enjoyed the new entry. One thing before I go: I don’t intend to replace Esme with Mary-Lynette if you are wondering; she is simply going to be a character within Carlisle’s plot-line with whom he will have a friendly, and protective, relationship with.
- Leah, Clearwater
I awoke in a fit of sobbing tears, sweat trickling down my brow and my breathing was strenuous and labored – my chest rising and falling at an uneven pace. My fingers clutched at the bed sheet tightly, my knuckles white. I tried to blink the glassy tears away, but they stung my eyes painfully; the images of death and decay from my dreams branded behind my eye lids.
I climbed out of bed, unlocked my door and clambered towards the bathroom. I assumed Seth and mom were still in a deep sleep, unaware of last night’s events. I turned the nozzle, and lukewarm water sprayed vigorously from the shower head. I stepped away to let it heat up and noticed steam covering the glass like sheets of mist.
“I look and feel like hell,” I said to myself, my voice hoarse and somewhat croaky, my throat tight with the twisted images.
Stealing a gaze at the mirror, my reflection was painted in front of my eyes. My face was streaked with dried bands of soft tears, my eyes dim and flat with exhaustion, eyelashes clumped together and dark crescents were visible below my eyes; a symbol of my sleepless night. My lips were cracked and dry. I threw myself away and quickly stripped before stepping into the hot shower, trying to avoid the nipping morning chill dancing over my skin.
I stood still under the jet of scolding hot water for five minutes just to praise the feeling of the knotted muscles in my back relaxing, my shoulders slumping. I grabbed the strawberry shampoo and lathered it in my hair, the smell reminding me of my apartment back in North Vancouver, back to Daniel and his sweet smelling skin. I shook the image from my head promptly.
Walking downstairs after my shower, I ran my fingers through my saturated hair; taking in the smell of bacon and eggs drifting from the kitchen. My stomach growled at my lack of attention towards its needs. “Morning,” I yawned, stretching my arms.
“Morning Leah,” mom said with a sleepy smile. “You just missed Seth. He’s off to meet with the pack at that meadow.” She cocked an eyebrow, before returning her awareness to the spluttering and crackling oil in the pan. My stomach gurgled with vicious hunger again; I clutched my hands around my chest trying to muffle the sound of near starvation. “I thought you would be hungry. Do you want some?” She asked, motioning towards the food.
“Yes please,” I admitted, my gaze never leaving the splattering pan. I bit ravenously into the bacon and felt it hit my stomach; the taste was delightful and more satisfying than the load of pop-noodles I had crammed during intervals between lessons back at college.
“How did you sleep?” mom questioned lightly, watching the chaotic tangle of school children through the kitchen window as they pushed past each other to claim a good seat on the bus to the La Push School.
I choked back my ultimate fear. “It was fine,” I replied. “It’s nice to be back home, I missed this place.” My lie was feeble. To be completely honest with myself, I had left a part of me in La Push, but I had been, and still was happier in North Vancouver. How could I tell my mom that? It would crush her.
“I’m glad you’re back, honey. You cannot imagine how uptight I’ve become from worrying about you up in North Vancouver. Seth being out with the pack most of time and…” her words came to an abrupt silence. My heart plummeted into over-drive.
“Mom, tell me. What’s wrong?” My thoughts were congested with the utmost suspicion.
She gave me a skeptical look, her smile warming like she had pulled off the worried mask. Now a worried and tensed expression played on my face, frown marks appearing on my brow. “It’s nothing bad, I promise,” she said softly, then placed a condoling hand upon mine. “I will tell you and Seth soon.”
“Is there any reason why we can’t know now? You told me about Sam and Emily’s wedding when you shouldn’t have,” I protested, pushing my empty plate away and sipping at the fresh orange juice. “You and Charlie haven’t been arguing?”
My mom and Charlie Swan had been dating for a while, and even I thought it was becoming more than a fling – developing into something more serious and practical perhaps. I’d rather know that they were genuine in their romantic feelings for each other than to walk around hearing everyone’s criticisms about them. It sent my blood boiling to even contemplate the things people had said about my mom.
“Of course not,” she answered, a cold edge tainting her voice. She was quiet for a minute before regaining her natural composure. “Now, the wedding wasn’t that top secret though, darling,” she cooed, trying to coax me from objecting even more. “On another note; Emily’s mother is flying in tomorrow actually, I have to get the spare room ready for her. She’s staying for your father’s remembrance as well. According to Sam, they knew each other for a while.”
I snorted in annoyance; another person that could get killed because of me, oh joy, I thought to myself. “Why does she have to stay here?” I complained, my voice sounding whiny and more like a five year old.
“She had nowhere else to go, Leah,” my mom answered strictly. “Their home only has one bedroom so I offered her ours until after Friday.”
“Friday?” I said exasperated, catching my breath.
Sue’s face swiftly became pained, she touched her throat lightly where a thin chain held her’s and my father’s wedding rings. “We have set the date for the remembrance. I didn’t think you’d mind,” she mumbled.
An arctic rage coiled within my chest, tightening the knots that had already formed there earlier that night. Each word sliced through me deeper, the wounds bleeding outwards in the way that my face portrayed my deepest horror and dismay.
If I had known the pain and torturing anguish my mother would be in afterwards, if I wasn’t blinded by a red haze of concentrated rage, I would have stopped instantly in my actions. However, my fueling infuriating feelings encased everything and for a moment I even forgot myself. I was rage. I was antagonism. I was the painful reason that would cause my mom so much sorrow.
“How in the world did you think I would react to this?” I half-screamed, using my hands to force myself up from the table. My veins a tangle of red and blue underneath my burning skin, blemishes of fervent skin like a chessboard covering both my arms. This never happened before. Whenever I got angry I never used to get this hot, or even get heat rashes across my skin? What’s wrong with me? I said to myself before continuing.
“Did you just think I would accept the fact that you didn’t include me in discussing the date for my father’s remembrance? Or did you forget he was my father and just thought about yourself,” I ranted, getting hotter and hotter.
“Leah,” she cried, tears strolling down her weathered cheekbones groggily. “How can you say such a thing? Of course he was your father! You need to calm down, please,” she pleaded.
“How can I calm down?” I shouted, gripping my fists and pacing the room. “I am just so angry.” I pronounced each word heavily and on its own, emphasizing my anger.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Leah. Please just stop, I can’t take it. Not anymore,” she begged. “I loved your father. Yes! Your father. Calm your rage and listen to me. I should have asked you first but you must understand we are under immense pressure to get everything ready. Do you understand?”
The image of my mother hanging onto the threads of her relationship with me as she begged me to cool my rage was terrifying. And frightening. Have I just said and done that? The red haze lifted and the temperature dropped sullenly, glassy tears coated my eyes, my emotions were in a disconcerting turmoil.
As I tried to tirelessly to resurface through the waves of tumult, the shell of a pale face and a tuft of dark hair materialized in the pane of the window. My heart raced, the bones of my ribcage re-positioning to the sight of the facial features that my body was jerking immediate responses to. Was I hallucinating? I shook my head and the image was vanquished, but my turbulent emotions still stirred.
I looked at the deathly pale image of my mother, bile rising in my throat when I remembered what I had said. My voice faltered, “I have to go.”
Rushing out of the room on my heels, I forced open the door and stepped into the cool wind and strode straight out onto the streets, a destination already in mind. I had a job to do here in La Push, and I wasn’t going to back down after making my decision.
My concentrating levels were excessively low as I stumbled into the small cafe’, although that was probably due to the mornings baffling events and last night’s terror. Entering, I noticed the familiar figure of Quil sitting by the window with Claire, whose eyes beamed with joy at the sight of me.
I took a deep breath and walked over. Quil’s lips curved into the same impish grin as always when I sat on the opposite side of him. “Hey Leah,” he greeted.
“Hi,” I echoed his greeting. It was actually surreal that I was talking to Quil, we never used to talk. My character’s changed so much since North Vancouver. I wonder who’s fault that is. Is it because Daniel left me? Because I found that wherever I go the supernatural will follow? Therefore I was now adapted to it?
“What’s up? You usually never used to talk to me?” he laughed, trying to hide away his confusion.
Someone walked towards the table and placed a cup of orange juice and one coffee down. Quil thanked the man. “Would you like to order something?” the waiter asked politely.
“Yes, if you don’t mind.”
“What would you like?” The waiter asked with a smile. His voice was like bell chimes and his face seemed somewhat familiar to me, but I rubbed it off.
I hesitated for a brief moment, “A decaf please.”
He walked away with his notepad in hand. Quil eyed me wearily. “You drink decaf now, rather than the normal coffee?”
I laughed. It felt good to laugh. After what had just happened it was nice to try to at least forget it, and throw it to the back of my mind, for the meantime. “Being a student sometimes is stressful. Caffeine is needed occasionally, but I stick to decaf when I don’t have to study.”
“Green tea works wonders for stress,” he chuckled, watching Claire carefully as she was close to spilling her cup of juice.
“I’m sure it does,” I agreed with a single nod. Great I’m getting the best wolf-girl health tips from someone that doesn’t know the meaning of health. Quil could eat a hundred chocolate bars and never get fat, I thought.
The waiter came back with my decaf before wandering off. I placed it to my lips and sipped at it cautiously, biting my tongue when it was too hot. I didn’t know how to ask. “Okay…well I need to ask you a favor Quil.” I jumped right in.
He rolled his eyes compulsively. “That’s a first. Alright, I’m all ears.”
I nodded and gave a quick stare around the cafe’, no one seemed to be taking attention to our conversation. I breathed a sigh of relief. “I was going to ask about your grandfather actually?”
“Yeh, what about him?” he questioned casually.
“I was wondering, how he is?”
“He’s fine, Leah. Why?”
This is going no-where. I’m going to be here forever. “I just wanted to ask, that’s all.”
His face became creased and he pinched the bridge of his nose. I could see the veins under the skin of his hand. “If you want something, Leah, you have to ask. You’re being far too cryptic,” he stated plainly.
“Fine,” I admitted, my cheeks burning. “I was going to ask if I could see him one day this week. Obviously not Friday, because of my father’s—” my voice trailed off. He would already know of course.
“I could ask, but he hasn’t been well lately. So I don’t know. Why do you ask?”
“I just want to ask him something about our shape-shifting abilities. While I was in North Vancouver I discovered a few new things. I wanted to make sure they were real by asking him.” So maybe I exaggerated the truth a little, but it was simply needed.
Quill’s face glowed with anticipation and he shot up in his seat. “What new things?”
“I will tell you after I have asked him, if I could?” I asked sheepishly, clutching the decaf tighter as my hope became too much to bare. I needed to speak with him.
My eyes scanned the room again for anyone that might be watching us. No one so far. “Well in that case, hell yes. Of course you can see him. Do you mind if I tell you tomorrow.”
My heart leapt into my throat from exciteent, my heartstrings being tugged on perpetually. I was almost crying, well maybe. “Thank you so much Quill.”
I had sat with Quill for a little longer than expected, telling him about my time in North Vancouver, my new friends – Ben included, but he seemed to cringe when I told him Ben was gay. He was fascinated that by making such a small change, lots could come of it.
“I’m seriously considering following in your footsteps now,” he said with a half-laugh.
I eyed Claire as she tried to lick the remaining droplets from her plastic cup. “What about Claire?”
That had silenced him. Of course Quill couldn’t leave La Push. He had Claire here now. Like I could have had Daniel in North Vancouver.
After saying goodbye to Quil and leaving the cafe, I rounded the corner of my street. The sky had darkened considerably. Something was flashing outside of my house. As I approached I saw flashing lights. Ambulance lights! I felt lightheaded as I picked up my pace and bolted towards the house. I felt like dropping to the ground faintly but somehow I was driven to run faster, and faster.
There was a plump police officer by the front door and I rushed towards him. I must have looked mad with the way my hair was sticking to my face. “You can’t be here, young lady,” he asserted.
“What happened?” I panted, putting my hands on my knees to help regain my lost breaths.
“A woman collapsed in her home, that’s all. Nothing to see now, so run along and play with your friends.”
Everything become black and my heart thudded painfully. What had happened to my mother? Was she alright?
Just at that moment a long white stretcher was being pulled from the front door. I looked hurriedly for the face that I longed to see – to find she was alright and not in a critical condition. Her eyes were shut and her breathing was labored, a mask pulled over her lips to help her breath.
“Leah,” she breathed softly.
“Mom, I’m so sorry,” I wept, choking back my sobbing tears.
1. What was Leah’s dream about?
2. What is Sue’s secret that she is keeping from Leah and Seth?
3. Why does Leah want to speak with Quill’s grandfather?
4. Do you think Leah knew the waiter, or was it a coincidence?
5. Was Sue’s collapse not natural, but rather happened due to a surprise visit from someone?
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- Leah, Clearwater
I was careful to duck under the spearing branches to ensure that no crinkle of crushed leaves would betray my presence. There was a tug at my throat and I looked back warningly. The hem of my jacket was caught. I eased it free and gave a sigh of exasperation.
The outline of the five boys was visible through the lattice of green leaves and twigs. The shine of their tanned skin and cropped black hair all too familiar. I shivered with delight. Why had I been away for so long?
One of the figures was particularly pleasing to see; I took three more large strides and emerged from my hiding place. “Afternoon,” I greeted.
“Leah,” Seth said through smiling lips, frantic with happiness. He ran to me and pulled his arms around my chest and hugged me fiercely, his grip never loosening. “You’re finally back, mom’s been so worried, I didn’t–”
“Seth, I can’t bre-a-t-h-e,” I panted, interrupting him before he stepped away, circles of blush painted on his cheeks. “Calm down and cool it, mom’s alright. I was there ten minutes ago. And you didn’t know I was coming because I didn’t tell anyone,” I continued, running my fingers through my hair.
He smiled nervously. “Why didn’t you tell us? I could have taken the day off patrols,” he replied, then looked back at Sam with the wide puppy-dogs eyes I had missed.
Sam looked at me and grinned warmly, as if he had somewhat missed me in the way my old body had mourned for him relentlessly – like magnetic opposites where no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t pull myself close enough to him. “Of course you can have the day off, Seth. Welcome back Leah. How was Vancouver?”
“Great,” I answered, the back of my throat tightening as I thought of Daniel and Julian. “I really enjoy it. College is, well – educating. I have an apartment, new friends, a job, things are looking up.” I noticed their faces swelled with a subtle jealously. “I do miss la Push however, the ocean air here is such a luxury. So fresh.”
“Were glad you’re back,” Embry called, brushing mud from his knees. “It’s been kinda lonely without a female wolf around. Plus, I think Jacob here has missed racing with you; he’s been practicing since you left.”
Jacob’s back stiffened and he finally raised his eyes from the ground. “Shut up Embry.”
“Chill Jake, I was only joking. Jeez, you can be such a sour-puss sometimes.”
I looked at my old pack-leader, Jake. It was true he had grown again – a lot – but it wasn’t only his height that had grown, but also a strong tolerance towards me, and I didn’t know why. His eyes were dark and fathomless when he looked at me, his lip curling and his voice strained. I waved feebly. “Hey Jake. How’s Renesmee?” I tried to ask politely.
“She’s fine,” he snapped, before stalking away into the bushes and changing. The last I saw was a shred of clothes floating in the air quietly like a cloud of burning cinders and his russet brown fur darting in the direction farthest away from me.
My heart lurched painfully. “What’s wrong with him?”
“It’s that time when he gets at the full height of his drama-king attitude,” Jared joked, coming forward to hug me warmly.
Quil was in the background, his burly figure noticeable in the clearing. I gave him a quick hug. By the end I was flushed with excitement – the thought of being home for a while, even if it was the anniversary of my father’s death – was a sort of blessing. Quil had a faint shimmer to his lips. I raised an eyebrow before asking, “Has Claire been busy with your face again?”
“Dammit, is that stupid lippy-stuff still on me?” He questioned, trying to rub it off fiercely with his arm. “I look like such a girl.”
“A very good-looking girl,” Seth joked, stepping beside me and taking my hand in his. I had missed Seth so much.
I looked around the small gathering of the wolves, pulling a strand of my now long hair behind my ear – it was curled in soft coils and for once I thought I even detected a hint of flattery in their thoughts. “Are you heading towards Emily’s? I need to see her. I’ve missed her cooking,” I said, rubbing one hand over my stomach.
Seth turned to pull me away before Sam called after me. I turned around pulling my grasp from Seth’s wrist and walked towards my old sweetheart. The spark that used to flare underneath my skin like explosions of fireworks in the sky was no longer present, but a dull thrumming of forgiveness took it’s place. “I wanted to say how great it is to see you. You erm…look wonderful,” he said, then pinched the bridge of his nose awkwardly.
“Thanks,” I blurted out, my eyes stinging listlessly. “It’s great to see you too; I’ve missed seeing you guys.” If I was correct, I thought I distinguished a hint of edge in the way his jaw was clenched – as if there was something hidden underneath that was being dug up with my every word.
“Now who’s coming for some of Emily’s cooking,” Jared howled, already running ahead through the forest of clawing branches, beckoning us to follow hurriedly.
Everyone chased after him, barking a laugh as Jared tripped over a jagged rock outcrop and landed on his chest before hauling himself up and racing after the others in a speedy pursuit. I walked slowly behind with Sam at my left, his eyes looking beyond the tree’s, searching for Emily with a new found fortitude in the way he held his gaze.
I was now comfortably numb around Sam; but the sudden brush of warm skin and the jerk of his arm away was painful. I noticed the thick chord of veins pulsing briefly in his neck. “If you want to run ahead with the others, you can. I just want to walk for a while to savor this feeling,” I said with a soft smile.
“What feeling?” He eyed me curiously.
Our steps were closely matched and I felt like slowing behind him to hide away in the shadows. “Just being home. I’ve missed La Push so much, even after adapting to my new life.”
“What have you missed most?” He turned his head to look at me with a sober expression.
“To feel loved once again, to have the people I care about the most around,” I admitted, as we stopped walking and we stood still, our figures so close together I could hear his labored breathing. The silence between us was somehow penetrating.
He bit his lip. “You weren’t loved in North Vancouver?”
“I–Well, I-” I stammered, my voice seeking to hide in my throat as my foot slid across the ground nervously. Should I tell him? It’s not like he’s going to care regardless? “I didn’t mean it like that, it’s just things have ha–”
“Guys, over here!” Emily yelled as she came running towards us waving frantically, and the long scar that trailed down the side of face glittered like a silver wire. I shuddered off my uneasiness and smiled ecstatically. When she got to us, Emily embraced Sam tightly as he spun her effortlessly in the air and they kissed passionately – my own chest tightening as Daniel and Julian’s images slotted themselves next to each other in my mind.
“Leah, how are you?” Emily cried, coming towards me with her arms outstretched after her lips had parted from Sam’s. But the love was suffocating as it smothered the air.
“I’m great,” I responded. “How are you doing? I heard you are busy planning the wedding?” The words came out laced with exhilaration as I pulled my arms away from my friend, my cheeks burning.
Emily seemed to bounce on the spot with excitement. “Has Sue been spilling the beans already? I asked her to keep it a secret.”
“She told me, yes,” I answered, starting to walk towards the house slowly, keeping my eyes to the ground. “But, what has my mom got to do with your wedding?”
Sam chuckled darkly. “Sue is helping us plan the wedding with Emily’s mom, who is due to fly in any day now. They have been talking over the phone constantly trying to agree on the arrangements.”
“Oh,” I heaved a sigh. “I never knew. Oh well, I thought the Cullen Pixie would be doing everything?”
“You mean Alice?” Emily chirped.
I nodded stiffly, an abrupt and hasty chill sending shivers up my spine. Sam even noticed my sudden change in expression. “Alice is helping, but we’ve given her strict rules as to what she can do,” Sam answered, taking swift glances behind us as we moved towards the house that was now visible. There was something the wolves weren’t telling me? Jacob, and now Sam?
When we reached the house the smell of rosemary, daises and buttercups reached my nose – the flower boxes filled with delicately colored flowers side-by-side like brothers and sister’s joining hands. Emily and Sam disappeared inside as they were tangled together, and I lingered at the fringe of the forest – my heart beating rapidly.
“I will beat this,” I murmured to myself quietly.
I headed towards the house, my soft footsteps defying my hanging conflicted mood; coming back to La Push and all of this in one day was so much to cope with on to top of everything I had suffered from in the past weeks. Before I stepped inside, I felt my stomach coil as a pair of eyes watched my disappearing figure from the protection of the green giants.
The sky was as midnight black as Julian’s hair, and the stars winked at me like shards of glitter. The moon was a crescent and the craters resembled small hollows in the moon’s face as if it had been weathered by old age. I padded up the steps to my mother’s house, the light in the kitchen bright and it made my eyes water as I came closer towards it.
“I hope she can warm up my dinner,” Seth yawned, stretching his arms after wiping away the sleep from his weary eyes.
“Didn’t you just eat a whole pan of home-made soup at Emily’s,” I snorted, my limbs exhausted. “You can such a pig.”
Seth rapped on the door before opening it, then trudged inside. “We’re home,” he shouted.
“I’m in here,” Sue called from the kitchen, her voice coarse and rough as if she had a bad throat. “Your dinner is still warm, Seth, and Leah, there’s a sandwich in the fridge if you want it.”
I smiled back with appreciation and grabbed the snack and bit into it hungrily. Seeing the wolves eat so much had made my stomach grumble from my lack of attention towards its needs. “What are you doing?” I asked between bites, shuffling towards my mother, noticing official papers fanned out across the table.
Sue heaved them up and stood up, her eyes heavy with lack of sleep, “Nothing really. Now don’t you kid’s be up too late, you need your sleep.”
“Goodnight mom,” Seth spluttered, particles of his half-eaten dinner falling to the floor. I rolled my eyes.
When Seth was finished, he cleaned his plate and we started up the stairs, our footsteps quiet as the faint sound of our mothers snoring sauntered to our ears. “Seth,” I questioned, holding onto the banister to keep me from falling from my tired legs. “What’s up with the pack?”
“What do you mean? Nothing’s wrong. They’re all just busy preparing for the wedding and for dad’s remembrance.”
I shivered, goosebumps rising on my skin at the mere mention of why I was supposed to be there, but I was now there for a completely different reason and I was going to put it to good use.
My breathing was heavier and it sounded deep and almost like an intruder’s, my heart beat never raced like that. “What about Jacob? What’s up with him? He never used to act like that. Is he still, you know, pissed that I left?”
Seth stumbled up a step. “No. He’s happy you have a better life now.”
“Then why?” I demanded. “Everyone’s acting so secretive; it’s getting old and annoying. I just want the truth.”
We reached Seth’s room and he pushed the door open. “There’s no secret, Leah. Goodnight, we can talk this over in the morning. I’m too tired,” he said through a yawn and then retreated towards his bed where he fell into a deep sleep almost instantly.
So everyone was asleep in the house besides myself, and somehow it felt strangely alien, as if I’d never seen this place before. But rather it was the fact that I needed to familiarize myself with my surroundings. The rough feel of the wallpaper, the faint flicker of car lights through the windows, the soft carpet between my toes and the eerie silence that crept through the house like a sinuous snake.
I tiptoed into my room quietly, pushed the door shut and locked it until it was secure. It smelled strongly of detergent and even in the strange glow, the room still looked unfamiliar and suddenly I felt alienated.
With trembling fingers I went to push the light on by the switch but I was pinned to the wall by a pair of rough shadowed hands. The voice was detached and as cold as a sharpened blade. “Be quiet,” he hissed.
“Who are you?” I demanded though clenched teeth, my chest tight with fear.
“You’ll know in time,” he answered. “Now listen to me, and listen well.” He tightened his grip and I felt the blood being restricted from my fingers. I whimpered softly. “You are not, I repeat not, going to acknowledge your friends strange behavior but are rather going to pass it off. You can’t trust them.”
I heard my mother and Seth shuffle in their beds and my heart leapt into my throat. “My mother and brother? You’re not going to hurt them?”
“My friends will smoother them in their sleep if you try to escape, so don’t even think about it butter-cup. Promise me you won’t look into the recent La Push matters and I will be on my way.”
He cursed under his breath and pushed a hand over my mouth. I didn’t struggle with him out of fear for my families lives, even though I knew it was against my nature to be so passive. “Don’t even think about asking that question again. Now do you promise?”
From the corner of my eye I could see the faint glisten on a necklace around the intruder’s neck – it was a five pointed star. “I-I promise,” I staggered, my voice uneven.
“Good,” he responded, stepping away from me. I could feel his acidic stare boring into my eyes. He must have good night vision. “We will go now, but if you back down on your word, I swear we will be back,” he sneered and then I heard the window shut and he was gone.
I clambered from my position and on unsteady feet I ran to my mother’s and Seth’s room. They were fast asleep, their eyes closed peacefully with no sign of an intruder.
Taking a surprised turn back to my room, I climbed onto my bed and sunk underneath the sheets, trying to sleep, but throughout the night my eyes continued to imagine the federal figure of the man standing in the corner of the room – his malicious yellow eyes glowing like a cats.
1. Why is Jacob angry with Leah?
2. Why is Sam acting strange around Leah?
3. Who was watching Leah from the tree’s when she went into Emily’s?
4. Is Sue hiding something from her children?
5. What is Leah’s reason for coming to La Push besides her father’s remembrance?
6. Who was in Leah’s room?
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