It was nearing the first anniversary of when Bella had gotten her fondest wishes. That being forever with Edward, the birth of their daughter Renesmee, and successfully surviving the confrontation with the Volturi.
The men were all on an extended hunting trip in Alberta Canada in the Jasper National Forest. There was a bear infestation there and then they were personally going to invite their extended family to Forks for Nessie and Bella's first birthday party. Edward was slowly trying to wean Jake away from his constant need to be Nessie's shadow, so the women had the run of the house.
Well, mostly, as Jake refused to be that faraway from Nessie for any long length of time. He'd ditched the others as soon as they had reached their destination, a good three hundred or so miles away, and not even massive tranquilizers had any affect, so the experiment was a wash.
Edward wasn't any better being away from Bella and had volunteered to go drag him back. The bets were high that he'd just give in and head back home too. He and Bella had been inseparable and even Emmett could see that what the two of them shared wasn't even close to him and Rose or any of them for that matter.
They were just conservative as lovers went so there was very little destruction, unless one counted bedroom furniture, after all they had Ness sleeping downstairs and then there was Jake.
They'd all built him his own, 'Dog house' as Rose fondly called it. But it was more like a 'Den' clubhouse with all the bells and whistles that a teenager could want for him and his pack.
Leah was a matter altogether, one look at Nahuel and it had been imprint central. The two of them were down in South America preparing his sisters for their move up to the States. Sel and Pandora were more civilized than any of them had imagined and were only too happy to learn there was another way instead of feeding on humans.
That and Carlisle had made a breakthrough on his 'anti-venom' vaccine making the wolves almost immune and protected from any hostile visitors that might arrive in the future. The only symptoms would be an uncomfortable rash that would vanish in a minute or two. Carlisle was taking nothing to chance with their extended family.
Jake's bond with Ness was stronger than anyone ever imagined. Ness confided everything to Jake, including her nightmares, and what he had seen had him determined to keep watch over her always.
Bella and Edward were both puzzled about what was up with them, because Jake and Ness had both mastered blocking him out of things they didn't want Edward or Bella to know.
Ness was in all essence six in appearance and clearly one of the most intelligent minds on the planet. Her current hobby was studying veterinary medicine from books with her Daddy. She, Edward, and Carlisle were fascinated by the family 'spirit warriors'.
Edward had given in after Bella and Ness had refused to as much as step foot in the cottage if he didn't build Jake a room of his own. He could deny his girls nothing, so Ness's room was their old bedroom. Jake had his own den, they'd added a guest suite, kitchen, library/music room, and their 'Master Suite' consisted of the entire top floor. Ness had already conferred with her Nana Esme and it had taken no less than a week for the entire renovation to be completed.
None of them were even the slightest bit aware that Caius was not going to just let his defeat go by without sending the Cullens a defeat of their own. He was going to make Bella pay by taking away the one woman in her life that meant more than the world to her. Her mother.
It had been all carefully plotted down to the last detail.
All but one.
Unbeknownst to the Volturi the other nomads and covens loyal to the Cullens and many who Aro had gathered to 'witness' on their behalf that past winter, had plans of their own. Their blatant abuse of power all in the name of 'Vampire kind,' in an effort to thin out the Cullen Coven, and in turn acquire some of the strongest of them into their fold had been a game changer. All of them had been keeping a close watch on the activities of the Volturi in case of any attempts at retaliation by any of the brothers or their guard.
When word spread by Makeena and Charles, that Felix and Demetri had recently traveled to the United States with Jane and Alec with no clear reasons they'd traveled so faraway from home. Particularly, when there were no 'blatant outbreaks' damning enough to call for their presence…
The States were peaceful at least for the time being, even in the more volatile South. It sounded a quiet but swift alarm when their target was northern Florida, near Jacksonville.
Peter and Charlotte wasted no time journeying there to investigate and watch over Renee and Phil, as Maria was also living in Northern Florida this was beyond alarming news. Renee's home had been vacant, no sign of either of them, but there was signs of Maria. Also a very bad sign. They had followed the trail to a warehouse.
The sun had broken through the gloomy storm clouds so the two of them had to take shelter in an empty nearby warehouse. Near enough that they could see a black Mercedes sedan arrive and drive into the now open warehouse doors.
Their surveillance was interrupted several hours later by the former occupants of the warehouse, drug runners, but that had been easily taken care of. It took only a few minutes and as luck would have it Hurricane Isabella was just starting to come onshore so it was clear for them to continue and search the warehouse. Too late to see what the Volturi were up to, but in enough time to catch the scent of Renee and Phil outside in the darkened alley. The warehouse was in flames and the scent was pungent, they had cleaned up after themselves leaving no witnesses.
Peter, seeing the sprinkler system of the old warehouse had been activated, followed the scent of fresh blood, but there was no scent that any human had died in the fire. Their only clue was the strong scent still blowing in the wind. Felix and Jane. Fortunately for Peter and Charlotte one of the rare weaknesses of Felix was that he loathed being cooped up inside human cars and had chosen to leave his window down leaving them an easy trail to follow.
It ended at the Florida Everglades National Park and that is where the two of them began their search for what they feared were the bodies of Bella's mother and Stepfather. Peter received word that Jane and Felix had caught a plane West, barely ahead of the oncoming storm.
Alec and Demetri had not been among them.
Makeena had also sent word to Benjamin and Tia, who were on the way to join Carlisle's family. The two of them had made a side trip and had also followed the trail to the Everglades and had joined with Peter and Charlotte in their relentless search for any sign of Renee or Phil. Benjamin was able to tame the storm enough around them.
Charlotte, fearing the worst, made the call to Alice and Jasper. Unfortunately the storm was making communication impossible and none of them wished to delay the search long enough to go find an electronics specialty store and acquire a satellite phone. After hours of searching the men decided to send their mates off for one anyway, the storm was making finding any scents almost impossible. They needed reinforcements and time was running out.
They needed Alice.
Charlie had just received a mysterious letter. Sealed with an ancient wax seal used ions ago during a time when there had been nothing close to something as convenient as mail or even e-mail. It was addressed simply to Bella in distinct bold blood red script. What had spooked him the most was that it had been left in the front seat of his locked patrol car.
He wasn't an idiot. He knew what the 'need to know' meant, but then again his town was the safest small town in the continental US. He'd gotten accommodations and everything, so it did have its positive benefits even if deep down he thought he hadn't deserved it.
"Hey, Mark!" Charlie shouted for him to come outside.
"Yeah, Chief." Mark rushed outside to see what was up. "What's up?"
"Did you see anyone hanging around outside the office today?" Charlie had the letter safely tucked inside his leather jacket.
Mark's brow furrowed as if in deep thought, "Well, there was this young kid asking for directions to Longview of all places, really pale kid too probably from up North." He scrubbed at the back of his head with his hand.
Charlie's eyes widened as he listened intently to what Mark was saying.
"You know, the norm for this time of year, but man was his parents car a beauty. It was just like Doc Cullen's…And his eyes were deep purple like nothing I've seen...He must've been really into that Goth craze because he was wearing all black, even had a dark grey cloak."
The hair on the back of Charlie's neck stood straight up and his blood ran cold. Black cloaks, white skin, strange eyes, young, expensive car, dark windows… "Uh, thanks, Mark. I'm going to call it a day…" He cleared his throat trying to keep his tone neutral not giving away the turmoil that was raging inside his head.
Nessie had been having nightmares the last few times that he had watched her. Like mother like daughter she talked in her sleep. What was going on? Nessie tended to talk in detail in her sleep and Mark had just described one of the star players…she called them the Volturi.
"Sure, Chief, I'll watch the fort…" Mark frowned at him in concern. "Man, Charlie, you okay? You look like your head is gonna explode or something."
"Yeah, Mark. My head's been killing me for the last hour…that fender bender last weekend is turning into one hell of a migraine…I just got through with dealing with the fallout…"
"Well, why don't ya go take Ness to the park or something with Sue? That might cure it." Mark suggested.
"Uh, yeah, I might do that. Alice wants my take on what Bells will tolerate when it comes to planning a surprise party for her." Charlie managed a weak grin.
"I don't envy you on that assignment." Mark rolled his eyes.
"Yeah, I know. Well, see you tomorrow. Call if anything major happens, I've got my cell…Can't believe I finally broke down and got one and a laptop too…that reminds me I have to ask Bells if she's heard form Renee or not. It's been too long since she's checked in…" Charlie muttered to himself.
It'd been a week since the last e-mail asking when Bells was going to be recovered enough to come see her in Florida or if she'll be able to attend Dartmouth this fall or not. Phil and her were planning on coming up to Forks to see her…something was off about her. She didn't know what and a year was her limit. Plus she wanted to meet her mysterious 'granddaughter of sorts'. That was gonna be dicey. One look at Ness and Renee was gonna go tilt.
First it was Hurricane Edward that had ravaged the East Coast causing extensive damage and now it was Hurricane Isabella a Category four of all things thrashing them now. It was no wonder Renee wanted a break at least here our worst case was wild winds or a fierce thunderstorm. Nothing like two hundred mile plus winds sitting on top of your ass for hours on end. It was just grazing Jacksonville, but it was still gonna be a bitch of a clean up afterward.
"No, I'm just really on edge today. It's probably nothing…Most likely Phil and her are both holed up in a shelter riding out the storm." Charlie shrugged.
"I'll see if I can find out which shelter they went to. My Uncle Carl is used to me checking in on them anyway. It shouldn't be a problem having him send one of his deputies over to their place or the designated shelter. It'll make Bells fell a little better knowing that her and Phil are ok." Mark headed back inside.
Charlie pulled out the foreboding letter and scowled down at it. Had their peaceful existence just been shattered? He couldn't shake the feeling that nothing would ever be the same again.
He unlocked his car door and slid warily into the seat. "Now do I call Alice first to get her take on things or…" His mutterings were cut abruptly off by a familiar trilling voice.
"Or what?" Alice popped up from where she had been hiding in the backseat of his police cruiser.
Poor Charlie jumped a foot, hitting his head hard on the ceiling. "Geez, Alice!" He gasped clutching his chest, his eyes wide with surprise. "How? I mean, it was locked…twice in one day…" He rubbed at his aching temples.
She'd been holding her breath because his panicked cry had interrupted her hunting with the others. She hadn't caught the all too familiar stench of Alec and Demetri and it was fresh, not even an hour old. Her eyes widened and her guard was immediately up. Alec and Demetri this close to Charlie!
"Alice, honey, are you all right?" Charlie eyed her warily.
She swiftly got out of the car and opened the drivers side door. "You're a mess, Charlie. I'll drive you home."
"Alice? You, you, can't drive my cruiser…" His eyes widened as big as saucers. Alice was glowering at him with eyes the color of coal and her mouth had formed into a thin determined line.
"I'm family." She growled. "Now scoot over please and buckle-up."
Charlie wisely did as he was asked. Buckling his safety belt with trembling fingers, he took a deep shaky breath as she pulled swiftly out of the parking lot sending gravel flying in the car's wake. "Uh...Look, Alice honey…" He gasped as he was thrown back into his seat as soon as she was clear of the station, because she had pressed the gas pedal to the floor. "Alice!"
"It's fine, Charlie. Promise." She glanced over at him as she took a curve at nearly eighty miles per hour. "Now tell me about your visitor."
He'd never seen such driving skills. Her reflexes were amazing. He silently wondered if all of them, including his daughter, were able to handle a car as well as this. "Uh, Mark dealt with him. Young kid, pale, dark brown hair, strange purple eyes, wearing all black and a dark gray cloak. Mark assumed he was just a kid asking for directions to Longview and that his father was driving the Mercedes S class…"
It hadn't been even three minutes and they were now speeding down the long winding drive that lead to the her house.
"No." She narrowed her eyes turning to shoot him a piercing glare. "There's more. You panicked enough to alert me. Why if you weren't the one who dealt with him?" They screeched to a halt two feet from the front steps.
"Yeah, he left this on the front seat of my locked police cruiser." He quickly pulled out the letter and handed it to her. "It's addressed only with Bella's name."
Alice took a deep breath, closed her eyes, but got nothing. "Dammit all, Jacob! Not now!" She seethed, her teeth grinding in frustration. The mutt had escaped the others and it couldn't have been worse timing.
As if on cue Jake opened the front door and bounded down the front steps with a lazy grin. "Geez, Charlie. You never let me drive the cruiser…" He teased grinning down at him through the passenger door window. "You okay there, Charlie?" His took in his ashen complexion, his grin turning into a frown.
"Migraine from hell. Alice stopped by and offered to drive me home…" He croaked hoarsely, still shaking from the look that Alice had given him. "Bells home?"
"Nah, they all took off on a nature hike with Nessie." He shrugged also eyeing Alice with wary eyes. "I just got back early from my field trip of sorts."
"Jacob, take Charlie over to Sue's please. She'll have a remedy for his migraine. Edward will be here in less than ten minutes…" She growled at him through gritted teeth as she slammed out of the car and then jetted into the house with the letter still clutched in her hand.
"What's up with her?" Jake whistled low under his breath as he rounded the car, opened the drivers side door, reaching down to adjust the seat before sliding behind the wheel.
"I had a visitor today, of the 'need to know' variety, leave Bella a message in my car. My locked car. Renee has yet to return any e-mails and it's been a week. Phil and Renee's voicemail is full and has been for days." Charlie laid his head back on the headrest and closed his eyes. "Nessie talks in her sleep…who are the Volturi, Jake?" He opened one eye to glare at him.
"'Need to know', Charlie," He kept his tone neutral, his eyes on the road. "Trust me you don't wanna know."
"Yeah, I thought as much." He grumbled under his breath. "Ya, pissed off someone during that crazy month this past winter and they aren't taking it lying down are they?"
"Look, Charlie, there are good and evil forces in the 'Need to know'," Jake said quietly between his teeth, breathing evenly to keep himself in check. "This past winter power changed sides. We won. They lost. They're sore losers and don't play by the rules. They wanted to take out all of us over Nessie's existence because she's special. They don't like anything new, to them the unknown is the biggest threat to keeping their anonymity. We handled it and we will handle it again. We're the power now, not them…"
"Enough, kid." Charlie cut him off. "Do they know about Renee and Phil or not?"
"Unfortunately, yeah, they do. But as long as she's left out of the know…they can't touch them. The less you know the safer you are." Jake pulled into Sue's driveway.
"Do they monitor our messages? Our lives?" Charlie felt his blood run cold and was gripping the handle of his door in a death grip.
"Huh? No. They're all old school as far as I know. Why?" Jake frowned.
"Renee's patience is up. She knows that something is off with Bells. One year is her limit, since Bells has been seriously ill and all that. Phil and her are planning on visiting real soon. Like say her birthday soon."
"We'll have to leave for a while then. Renee can't handle this. She'll go postal. Bells eyes aren't freaky looking anymore, but still she'll lose it." Jake slammed out of the car, clearly disturbed by this new set of events.
"Leave! Where?" Charlie stalked after him. "It won't come to that. I'll head her off."
"Charlie, it's not a done deal. We'll still come back for yours and Sue's wedding. I've gotta go find Sam." He raced off into the forest.
"Charlie?" Sue stepped outside onto her porch.
"We've got trouble, Sue. Enough that it's got Jake and Alice beyond worried." He looked defeated, his eyes pained.
"Come inside, Charlie." She put her arm around his waist and lead him back inside. "I've got just the thing for your headache. And don't worry, our family is strong. Together we can face anything."
The Cullen house
Edward stalked into the house, instantly sensing that Jake wasn't there. "Fine. He has to come home sometime and then he and I are going to get some things settled." He growled, looking around for the others, finally spying Alice.
She was sitting on the bottom landing biting her lip. Trembling. She looked up at him, her eyes wide with horror.
Edward took in everything that she had seen and hissed in fury under his breath. "Are you sure that Caius sent them after Renee and Phil and that they used Maria…?"
"Alec left this in Charlie's police cruiser! Demetri was with him…" She handed him the brief note with trembling hands.
The note read:
I couldn't let yours and your daughter's first year go by without giving you something to remember it by. I was very impressed with your ability to shield those that you love. I wonder does that include your mother and her husband, so far from your protective fold. It does bear some investigating.
Edward scanned it then let out an ear piercing growl of rage.
"I've been focused on Aro! How could I have been so careless! Renee…Phil…Maria and her coven are no big loss, but this is going to devastate Bella and Charlie!" Alice got up to pace the front room.
"I can still feel them. They're not clear, but if Jane or Felix thought for a second that Maria was being watched. If Peter and Charlotte's scent was strong enough for them to notice. Maybe, just maybe, Jane and Felix got careless in their haste to cover their tracks. Maria bit them that much is clear…" Her eyes got cloudy once more.
"Hurricane Isabella's grounded all travel in the better part of that region. Is that a swamp that Peter, Charlotte, Benjamin, and Tia are searching?" He raced over to the computer.
"The Everglades. They tracked them to the park, but then the trail went cold so they're searching there first. Peter searched what was left of Maria's warehouse and found no sign that anyone had died. There was no death stench anywhere, only that of Maria and her coven. He thinks that they dumped Renee and Phil's bodies there before heading to Miami to get the last available flight out before the storm hit." She flitted anxiously to his side.
"How long?" Edward already knew the answer.
"Two days at least, since they were bitten. They looked…" Alice shivered. "Maria wasn't kind."
"They targeted our weakest link and left no witnesses to implicate them. Caius isn't as clear minded as Aro. He lets his emotions guide his actions. We humiliated him…Bella did…so he retaliated in kind by serving her with a devastating blow!" He felt like tearing the living room apart.
"I can still see them, if anything we will be able to watch over them when they're found." Her fingers raced across the keyboard, searching the weather site for an update on the storm.
Edward called up a satellite image of the Everglades National Park, which he wirelessly sent to the flat screen in the living room. "Focus on that while I call Carlisle."
"I did that as soon as I sent Jacob off with Charlie to Sue's. I sent Carlisle and Jasper that way. Emmett should be home in twenty minutes. They were already on the way back." She narrowed her eyes at the screen, her eyes unfocused once more. "They're in a shallow inlet, the Broad river is near there. They're trying to put out the inferno raging inside them by rolling in the muck. It's nearly over now though, so the curious alligators and crocodiles won't get their snack. The wind is so loud that it would be nearly impossible for even one of our kind to hear their agonizing cries."
"Benjamin's calming the storm around the entire area…" His phone rang, he flipped it open, not recognizing the number. "Edward Cullen…Tia, is that you? The reception is terrible…Yes, we know. Alec and Demetri left us a calling card. Alice sees them in a shallow inlet not far from the Broad River up on the Northwestern side of the park near the Gulf…Yes, it's almost over." His eyes hardened.
"As soon as the storm…Peter has experience with newborns, but Jasper and Carlisle are both en route. Alice has them both up to speed. I don't know, it's possible. She is Bella's mother, it could be genetic. Phil's strongest trait is his patience and determination…Whatever happens you can't let them feed on a human…Yes, instinct will make them hunt, but as they are in a park teeming with wildlife they'll most likely focus on the nearest gator or deer…Tia? Damn this blasted storm! It even cut off communication with a satellite phone!" He resisted the urge to crush his phone in his fist.
"Solar Flares…Really rotten timing too…" Alice rolled her eyes and then her face mirrored the panic from moments before. "Oh, no! She didn't! This day is just getting worse and worse!" She cried out in alarm then raced out the back door.
"Alice!" Edward chased after her, only to find himself with his daughter leaping into his arms. "Nessie? Sweetie?" She was clinging to him in fear, tears streaming down her flushed cheeks.
"Daddy! I didn't mean too!" She whimpered, burying her face in his shoulder, tears drenching his shirt.
He placed his hand gently against her cheek. "What is it? What happened, baby?" Nothing flew through his mind. She was blocking him out, just like Bella.
"I was dreaming…" She hiccupped. "Momma was holding me. I saw something terrible, Daddy. It was so real. Grandma Renee and Grandpa Phil. This evil woman hurting them really badly…then…then…the dark cloaked ones arrived…upset…burned everyone…took them somewhere far…put them in the trunk…" She stammered shakily squeezing her eyes shut. "They were in so much pain…like Momma was…then I saw more of them here by Grandpa Charlie's car…Just two, but the really bad ones that Momma doesn't like. I couldn't block her out, it was all so real!" She burrowed closer, her tiny fists clinging to his shirt.
"Shhh…you did nothing wrong, angel. Now, I need you to calm your mind for me so I can see…" His jaw locked, eyes darkened black with fury.
"Daddy?" Nessie's big brown eyes stared up at her father's face. "You're frightening me…" She placed her trembling hand on his face, replaying everything for him. Her eyes wide with fear.
Edward felt as if she had stabbed him through his silent heart. Could this day get any worse? He took several deep calming breaths forcing himself to place all the turmoil and rage inside him in check.
"I'm sorry, Nessie. Daddy's just having a lousy day. I'm not mad at you. Just those who are hurting our family." He crooned against her hair, rocking her in his arms.
Seth raced into the house, holding his arms out to take Nessie. "I've got Nessie. You have to get moving, Edward. They've caught Alec, Jane, Demetri, and Felix's scents. Jake, Sam, Paul, Embry, Jared, and Quil are backing up Esme, Alice, Rose, and man is Bella pissed! They can't keep up!"
Edward was torn, he couldn't just leave Ness not when she was this distraught, but then they were going to need him and fast. Bella was clearly not of her right mind enough to go after Aro's favorite four on her own. "All four?"
"Daddy. Momma's scary mad. I'll stay with Uncle Seth. You have to hurry! She's mad at my Jacob too!" She launched herself into Seth's arms.
"Don't worry, sweetie. Your Momma adores Jacob and is a force that's even a match for the Volturi elite. No one can or will be able to touch her…" He was focused now.
"Emmett might just get his chance at Felix…he's already on their scent. Seth, if Carlisle calls fill him in, tell him to focus on Florida. We'll handle our end here. Caius overstepped his bounds. Retribution is to be expected. They have to learn the old ways are no more. Our message will cement that…Love you, baby. Mind Seth. We'll be back as soon as it's done." He quickly brushed a kiss on top of her head and then in a blink of an eye he was gone out the back doors.
"What's going on, Ness?" Seth kissed the top of her head.
She showed him. Her eyes still pooled with tears. "Momma's in so much pain…"
"Shhh…It's gonna be all right, Nessie." He forced himself to smile reassuringly at her. "How about some ice-cream with the works?" He knew her weakness for sweets, particularly Chocolate.
"Sure, Uncle Seth, but with lots of Chocolate." She sniffled, rubbing her eyes with her tiny fists.
"You know the rules, kiddo. I have to add good stuff too." He chuckled.
"Fine. Strawberries, but that's it. No banana." She stuck her bottom lip out in a pout.
"Strawberries it is and then we'll play a game on the Wii or one of the other systems." He set her up onto his shoulders.
"I'll let you win this time."
"Thanks," He grinned, playfully reaching up to tug on her long waist length ponytail.
Bella pushed her body to go further than she'd ever had before. Faster! I need to go faster! They aren't going to be allowed to just leave for their fortress in Italy! No! They were gonna pay for everything! Renee and Phil were innocents! They had no right!
She was seeing everything through a red haze. Her senses on high alert. Her shield covering herself and her family, who were all trying like hell to keep pace with her.
Were they still in Washington or were they in Oregon now? Not that it mattered. The weather was on her side, a powerful storm was grounding all flights on the West Coast and the Ocean was no option either. The scent grew stronger like her quarry were now on foot, so they'd ditched the car.
Hunting were they, well, now they were the ones that were being hunted. Her nostrils flared. Not just Alec and Demetri, but Jane and Felix as well, perfect. She bared her teeth in anticipation.
:Bella! Dammit, wait for us!: Jake snarled in her head.
She'd mastered lowering her shield with Edward and Jake, so much so she could communicate with either of them no matter the distance. Not only that, but her shield was tangible now, easily able to physically protect herself and those around her from harm. It had been with Jasper's guidance that she'd learned to hone her abilities to the limit, which had included intensive combat training as well. She wasn't in the mood to chat, but include both packs in her protective fold as well.
:Bells, Edward will be beyond pissed. The weather's a bitch. They're stuck, so slow down!: Jake was now beside her.
:You've been lying to me, Jacob!: Her dark eyes shot him a furious glare.
:Bella…: He glanced over at her, his big black eyes widened in alarm.
:How long has she been having these dreams? Visions! Months! Weeks! I had a right to know, Jacob! She's mine! We could have prevented this! Been ready for them! Renee and Phil are gone! She saw it all! Every second of the horror! My baby saw everything!: Bella's tone was laced with agonizing pain and loss.
:No. Not gone, my love. Forever changed, yes. But not gone. Please slow down. We will face this together.: Edward pleaded with her. He had covered over a hundred miles in a matter of twenty minutes. Emmett was trailing him now.
:No! They didn't do anything wrong! No rules were broken! Why? Nessie saw Maria and then Jane and Felix…they looked dead! Abandoned in the swamp like trash! It's not right! It wasn't their choice…they won't…We have to help them!: Her eyes widened in agony.
:And we will. I promise you that. Now please stop. You can't fight if you aren't focused. Emmett and I are almost there.: Edward tried to reason with her.
She fell to her knees, the impact causing deep gouges on the soft mossy soil of the forest, and buried her face in her hands wishing desperately that she could cry. "NO! NO! NO! MOM!" She wailed in agony.
Jake skidded to a halt several feet in front of her then padded over to lie protectively beside her. :Bells, it's gonna be okay. Promise.: He whined, her pain was like his own.
She threw her arms around him, burying her face against the russet fur of his neck. "Charlie will blame me…" She sobbed her heart out. "Charlie…Mark…they could have…my fault…"
"No, sweetheart, it's not." Esme crooned, kneeling next to her, stroking her hair.
"The Volturi are sneaky vindictive bastards," Rose growled as she soothingly rubbed her back.
"I was the one who was careless. I was watching Aro, not Caius. I'm so sorry, Bella." Alice knelt in front of her.
Sam and the rest of the wolves formed a circle of protection around them.
"I can't let them get away with this! It's not right!" Bella looked up into Alice's miserable face. "All of us underestimated Caius. It's no ones fault. Is Charlie…?" She croaked hoarsely.
:He's fine, Bells. I drove him to Sue's myself. The rest of the packs are all on red alert. Seth's watching Nessie.: Jake answered before Alice could.
"Charlie's fine. I drove him to our place in his police cruiser. He was a mess. Alec left you Caius' calling card on his front seat. I felt his distress, because I was thinking about Charlie…" Alice took both of Bella's hands in her own. "He's tough, Bella. He wasn't mad at you. Worried, yes. Angry, no. Renee was planning a surprise trip, so he was focused on that."
:Leah and Nahuel are in Northern California with his sisters in tow. All of them have no problem with the 'vegetarian' lifestyle. All but one, she stayed back in South America with Huilen. The two of them have joined up with Zafrina's Coven. Man, we're close to Portland...we must be in Mt. Hood National Park. Edward's gonna be here any minute now. Geez, what was he doing mach five? Poor Emmett. The big guy doesn't even rate. He's barely keeping him in sight.: Jake gave Bella an update.
"We wait for Edward and Emmett." Bella pulled herself together. "Then we send Caius a message of our own. Jane, Alec, Felix, and Demetri crossed the line and will pay dearly for it.
Chapter Two- An eye for an eye