"You shouldn't worry so much," Alice intones from her position next to her.
They're at Seattle's private international terminal, awaiting their express flight to Florence, and Bella has wrapped in on herself in the seat closest to the counter. She has her eyes trained on the attendant working their gate's desk, waiting for her to come ask them to board. Alice had revealed to her on the car ride over that Carlisle owns a private jet residing in Seattle, purchased for Esme on one of their many anniversaries. Apparently she had grown tired of it quickly enough, and it had mostly been used by Emmett and Rosalie for joyrides when the two grew bored of Forks.
"Why not?" Bella turns to Alice, her fingers shaking. "The love of my life is halfway across the world, plotting his own demise. He thinks I'm dead, and the fastest way to get word to him that I'm not is by taking a twelve-hour flight and hoping that by some miracle, we get to him on time." Even as she speaks, her anger gives way to anxiety. "I mean, do you really think this will work?"
Alice holds her gaze for a long moment, and Bella studies the bright flecks of shining gold in the topaz of her eyes before she dips her head. "I don't know. It all depends on Edward's decision; we haven't intervened yet." In a moment of what seems like weakness, but feels like strength, Alice reaches over, and Bella feels the cool sensation of her palm against hers. Her grip is firm, comforting, but not overpowering, and Bella melts into it easily.
"He'll die without me," Bella confesses—it's more a whisper than anything, ghosting across her lips. "I know it."
Alice tightens her grip, and Bella feels her free hand lifting her chin up, letting their gazes meet again. "But you're here, Bella. You're alive. It's up to us to show him that." When Bella looks uncertain, Alice traces the edge of her finger against her jaw, a movement that sends shivers down Bella's spine. "I can't see what will happen on this one yet. But us Cullens have been looking out for each other for decades; this won't be the first time we've rescued one from danger.”
"First time for me, though," Bella mumbles, but she's still comforted by Alice's words, and it shows. "Thank you, Alice. Truly."
"You don't have to thank me." The moment has passed, but Alice's hand is still heavy on hers. "You're family now. This is what we do."
"I guess I've never really been part of one before." Bella muses absently. "Charlie is family enough, and my mom was, too, but..."
"It's different with siblings." Alice smiles, a sight that still takes Bella's breath away. It's crooked, sly, but somehow still genuine, somehow perfect. "I was an only child, too, before I was changed. Having a family like this..." Alice breaks their mutual gaze, her eyes suddenly fixed on a spot on the airport carpet below them. "I can't describe it, the bond we all have. That's why I'm here, trying my best to keep us all together." Her eyes settle back on Bella, and that familiar charm creeps back into her expression. "And keep you with us, too."
Bella traces her thumb across Alice's open palm absently, memorizing the smooth dips and rises of the muscles there, the cold skin that covers it. "You're the best of them, Alice."
Alice tsks, as if the notion is too ridiculous to comprehend, but Bella insists. "It's true. You're the best of him, too," she continues brazenly, and they both know who she's talking about.
"Edward is perfect for you, and you for him." She has that same dazzling smile, comforting and alluring all at once, but her voice falters. "You have no idea how long he's waited for someone like you."
I want him, Bella wants to say, but for some reason, the words die on her tongue.
Before she can think of something else to say, the attendant approaches with assurances that the jet is prepared and ready. Something twists in her stomach.
"Let's go," Alice insists, pulling Bella to her feet with a quick tug at her hand.
Bella knows nothing about planes, only that she took a 737 to Forks when she moved there, but she knows this one must be the most expensive one money can buy. It's sleek, completely black save a silver racing stripe down the body, and big enough on the inside to host a dozen vampires comfortably. On the tarmac, an attendant steps forward to load their luggage into the storage compartment, but Alice shoos him away. "We'll be just fine on our own from here, thank you very much."
True to her word, she picks up the luggage with ease and throws it into the open compartment. After a quick glance to make sure no one is looking, she hops some twenty feet into the air to pop the door shut; as she descends back to the ground, Bella could almost swear she floats. Like a fairy.
The jet's interior is spacious, with buttery tan leather covering all eighteen seats, and plush blankets draped over half of them. The mini bar is fully stocked and already open, but Bella bypasses it for a seat, her nerves not completely quelled from her previous conversation with Alice. She's about to ask the other girl where the pilot is, when they can get going, when Alice glides behind her and heads for the cockpit.
"You're flying us?" Bella asks incredulously.
Alice looks over her shoulder on the threshold, flashing Bella a smile. "No one will get us there faster." When she senses Bella's apprehension, she lets out a pealing giggle. "What, do you want to see my license?"
Bella shakes her head quickly, suddenly embarrassed. "I trust you." The words have more weight to them than she initially realizes.
After another moment of stillness between them, Alice flicks her fingers towards her. "Well, come on. I need a co-pilot."
The thought nearly makes Bella laugh. "Alice, I'll get us both killed if—"
"You're forgetting I can't die."
A beat of silence.
"I guess that's fair," Bella finally admits.
Bella climbs into the cockpit after Alice, taking the only other empty seat. An array of blinking screens and buttons is laid out before them in a manner Bella can’t make sense of. Still, Alice leans forward and reaches for a joystick, pushing it gently forward, and the jet responds in kind, slowly lurching forward.
Bella’s never been afraid of flying, per se, but her stomach still tightens as Alice maneuvers the jet towards the runway, aligning the plane's wheels with white markers on the pavement. Through the glass, Bella can see a few planes taking off on the opposite terminal, and the blinking lights of the runway around her.
"Ready?" she hears, and turns to see Alice smirking at her, hands firmly on the controls.
Bella nods, swallowing. "Ready.”
After a harrowing fifteen minutes of takeoff, wherein she bore silent witness to Alice’s harebrained but effective piloting skills, Bella excuses herself from the cockpit to freshen up in the bathroom. She has half a mind to empty the scare contents of her stomach; the mechanics of a vampire flying a private jet had been a little more thrill-seeking than she had originally thought, and that came from a girl who had spent the better part of the last semester putting herself in danger as much as possible just to catch glimpses of the man she loves. And here she was, going after him, she thinks to herself as she rinses her hands under warm water.
Departing back to the main cabin, Bella finds her thoughts glued to that idea as she takes up a seat, spreading a soft blanket the color of wine across her lap. Her eyes go to the reclining mechanism of the seat, and she bites her lip. She doubts she’ll get much sleep during the flight, but it won’t hurt to at least get comfortable.
Minutes later, as she curls herself into the blanket and snuggles against the soft leather seat that achingly reminds her of Edward’s Volvo, the idea sticks with her. The thrill-seeking, the adrenaline, just for a few moments of remembering him. The man who had left her, told her she wasn’t good for him. Just so she could cling to the memory of him, when he had told her it would be like he had never existed. Thinking on it, reflecting on it, makes her stomach clench, and as much as she wants to dismiss the thoughts away, she can’t.
And then there’s Alice. Somewhere along the way, between the car crash and the birthday party, she had become Bella’s closest friend. Her surprise appearance last night in Forks only solidified that in Bella’s mind. Even when Bella was alone, in those desolate months without Edward, it had been Alice she had attempted contact with, sending e-mail after e-mail to a closed inbox. And when every other Cullen chose to sit back, let the cards fall where they may, Alice came to her. Had to make sure she was okay after her vision. To listen to her, take her to Volterra, to help her keep safe something that mattered to her, that mattered to them both.
Something in the back of her mind told her that even Edward wouldn’t—couldn’t—go that far.
But again, she shoves it away. She can’t think like that right now. Not when she’s on her way to save his life.
As if on cue, the door to the cockpit slides open, and Alice saunters out, depositing her pair of leather gloves on a nearby ledge.
“The jet’s on autopilot until our descent, in about twelve hours or so,” she explains before Bella can ask who’s flying. She speaks like it’s the most natural thing in the world, she notes to herself. And then, a moment later, she’s immortal, a vampire. Nothing phases her.
Alice must catch her staring, because she flashes Bella a dazzling grin. “What, are you astounded by my stellar piloting skills?” She pulls away her headscarf in one fluid motion and flops down on the seat next to Bella. “Carlisle’s not the only one who benefits from the steady hands of immortality.”
“I’m astounded by you,” Bella says without thinking, and a moment later the words catch up to her—catch up to them both.
A moment of absolute silence passes.
She has half a mind to take them back, laugh and chalk it up to her own fatigue. But a bigger, stronger part of herself lets the words ruminate between them, lets Alice think on them. The part of herself that doesn’t regret saying them.
“I’m astounded by you, too,” Alice finally confesses, what feels like eternities later. “I have been since the moment I laid eyes on you.” Her hand snakes below the blanket and wraps around Bella’s own. It’s still cold, hard and beautiful as marble, but Bella still finds her touch comforting, warming her insides even as she shivers. “You were meant to be in my life, my existence.”
“I think I was, too,” she replies shakily, suddenly afraid of every word that comes next, the bridge she’s crossing to Alice. “I think I was meant to make my way to you all.” She pauses, swallows. “I think I was meant to make my way to you.”
Alice smiles, just the smallest turn up of her lips. “I can see the future. And I think so, too.”
“Did you see me coming?”
“From a million miles away.” Alice runs her thumb softly back and forth against the skin of Bella’s wrist. “You were too bright and burning not to see.”
She might regret it. She might want to turn back time, take back the thing she’s about to do. It could ruin everything—everything. But she does it anyways.
Pushing up the leather armrest separating them, Bella leans forward and presses her lips to Alice’s.
It’s a serene, endless moment of unadulterated bliss. Bella feels a flower blooming in her chest, a bud long left dormant, unripened by the love she desired all along. But the flower still blooms. Bella feels her heart surge in her chest, beating in double time as Alice dances her hand up to Bella’s neck, pulling her closer and closer. She could live in this moment forever, could wax and wane under the careful attention of a cold, delicate kiss. The marble fingers on her neck move to tighten in her hair, catching long brown strands and tangling them about. Bella’s hands grip on Alice’s shoulders, her forearms, around her waist, as if trying to memorize every inch of her that she can before the illusion breaks.
It could have been moments or hours later, but slowly Alice removes her lips from Bella’s, reaching up to swipe away a spare strand of hair from Bella’s eyes. Her other hand reaches around to cradle her cheek, the pad of her thumb tracing over the skin behind Bella’s ear. Bella studies her eyes, two jet-black irises floating in brilliant pools of molten gold. She can sense a question there, in Alice’s eyes, begging to be spoken but for some reason held back.
“I’m not afraid of you,” Bella murmurs before Alice can say the words. “And I’m not afraid of this.”
“Don’t be,” Alice murmurs in kind, shaking her head slightly. Her smile returns, small but daring, and when Bella pulls at her, she responds in kind, reconnecting their lips as she moves to straddle her.
Despite her vampirism, Alice’s form is petite, lithe, and she fits atop Bella perfectly. Her hands sneak under Bella’s sweater, fingers dancing along her naked torso. When her palm lands on Bella’s breast, Bella shivers under the frigid bite of it, but it’s a good shiver, one that permeates all the way down to the core between her legs. Alice must feel it, feel Bella’s skin rising in gooseflesh under her gentle touch, because she grins against Bella’s lips, and moves her kisses down Bella’s jaw, across her neck and down to the dips in her collarbone. When her mouth closes around Bella’s breast, tongue laving across a firm nipple, Bella stifles a scream until it’s a groan eking through her teeth, and her fingers curl through Alice’s hair, holding her there as her ecstasy mounts.
“Take it off,” she pants, motioning to her sweater, and Alice obeys, swiping it over her head and throwing it across the cabin. She’s completely naked underneath, bare for Alice to take, and only seconds later does she kick off the blanket too, leaving nothing but Bella’s sweatpants that Alice is all too eager to reach under the band of. In turn, Alice twists herself out of her blouse, all but ripping it away, and now there’s no barrier between Bella’s hand and her ice-cold skin, hard to the touch, but relenting under the other woman’s fingers.
Alice’s tongue ventures down, tracing wet, sweeping circles between Bella’s breasts and across the flat planes of her stomach. Bella’s spine arches under her touch, but the moment she disconnects from Alice, their touch broken for even a moment, she feels her heart skip a beat in blind terror. When she opens her eyes, Alice is still atop her, working her way down again, and Bella feels herself physically relax under her touch, the spike of fear long gone, but replaced by something else waxing inside her.
I thought she was gone, for a split second. Gone all over again. Leaving for the last time.
She swallows a sob, working her fingers back into Alice’s hair, but Alice must notice her change in disposition, because she lifts her lips from Bella’s stomach and comes back to eye level with her. “Hey,” she says, planting a quick kiss on Bella’s nose, moving down to bite on her lip. “You okay?”
Bella nods with fervor, her brow creasing. “Just don’t stop.”
She has a feeling Alice has already figured out what’s bothering her, but she doesn’t mention it, just slows long enough to press another kiss to Bella’s lips, holding her face in her hands as Bella snakes hers down to Alice’s thighs. “I’ll never leave you, Bella. Never again.” Another kiss interrupts her; crossing her arms around Bella, she buries her face in the nape of Bella’s neck and turns her lips to her ears. “And I’ll never stop.”
At that moment, too fast for Bella to see, Alice pulls an arm away and, with devastating stillness, inches her hand past Bella’s waist, beneath the sweatpants and the underwear, and massages the pads of her fingers against the swollen apex of Bella’s clit.
Bella can only gasp, adjusting herself to Alice’s touch, squirming with pleasure underneath her. Alice slowly rehooks her arm around the back of Bella’s neck and lowers herself to the seat, her head just inches away from Bella’s as their bodies move in sync. Bella can feel the cold of her seeping into her skin, raising another round of gooseflesh, but she merely brings a hand around to rest on the small, loping curve of Alice’s hips. As Alice works at her clit, gaining a careful, deliberate speed, Bella traces small, tight circles against the skin there, just under Alice’s pants that are regretfully still on her person, to try and keep herself under control. It only works for a time though, and as Alice’s hands dive deeper, her fingers exploring the lips of Bella’s cunt, she comes undone at the seams, muttering incoherencies and biting out the occasional scream.
“It’s so good,” Bella sighs as she mouths at the spot beneath Alice’s ear that has her humming. “Fuck, you’re so good.” You’re so good for me. She’s too close to the edge to eke it out, but in that moment she wishes Alice could hear her thoughts, could hear how good she’s making Bella feel, how much she loves this, loves—
Alice hits that spot then, just right, and Bella screams against her neck, shuddering as her climax takes over, leaving her unresponsive long enough for Alice to lean over and plant a kiss on her temple.
“God, that was—” Bella can’t form the word, can only raise her eyebrows in disbelief as her thoughts comb over the events of the last few minutes. Alice pulls her closer, pressing her head to her chest, cradling her there.
“Amazing?” she whispers after a moment, her lips curling to one side wryly, and Bella cracks a smile.
“I never want you to stop doing that to me.”
A moment of silence passes as Bella’s words fill the cabin. The connotation of them, the full extent of what that might mean, passes soon after.
Alice takes a breath, shifts to look Bella in the eyes. “Are you sure that’s what you want?”
The name doesn’t have to be spoken for them to both understand.
Bella swallows. “Yes.” She knows it has to happen, this conversation, and what comes after.
Alice sits up. “We’re still going to Italy.”
“No, I know, he’s family.” Bella runs a hand through her hair. “I still love Edward, Alice. But…” She pauses, reaches out to intertwine Alice’s fingers with her own. “I think you can love more than one person at the same time.”
Alice smiles, cautious but still warm, still Alice. “I think so, too.” She lies back down next to Bella, ghosts her fingers up her neck, through the soft tangles of her hair.
“Will he find out?” Bella can’t help but let the nervousness creep into her voice. “You know, read your mind?”
Alice smile, her hand resting on the nape of her neck, holding Bella lightly to her chest again. “I’ve become an expert at shielding my mind from Edward over the past few decades. My thoughts are safe from him. But... there’s no harm in letting him know. He’ll understand.”
Bella huffs. “Are you only saying that because you can see it happen?”
“It’s not destiny, but it’s in his nature. He wants you to be happy, Bella; something like this won’t stop him from being a part of your happiness, if you’ll still have him.”
She was right. The more Bella thinks about it, the more she doesn’t mind if Edward knew. And Alice had known him longer than Bella had known either of them; if anyone was going to predict his true nature, it wasn’t her.
“But let’s just focus on saving him first,” Alice finishes, placing a delicate kiss on Bella’s temple before sliding away from her and out of the seat. Bella only lets their hands separate when Alice stands, reaching for Bella’s sweatshirt and pulling it over her naked form. “I have to check the cockpit, make sure everything’s all right.” Before she turns, Alice bends down and picks up the blanket Bella had so quickly discarded earlier, and drapes it over her lying form. “Try and get some rest. You’ll need it when we land.”
Bella is happy to oblige, but something has been nagging her since they’d finished. “You didn’t even let me… you know…” She feels so childish, not being able to say the words.
Alice giggles, giving her one of those sly grins. “What, you want to make me come?” When Bella turns red, that giggle turns into a laugh. “Don’t worry about me, Bella; we’ll have plenty of time for that.” She walks back to the front of the cabin, where the door to the cockpit lay. “Besides, I plan to teach you a few more things before that.”
Bella can only stare at her, haphazardly dressed and waltzing back to the controls, before exhaling, her eyes drifting up to the ceiling.
Alice was right; she should sleep, and she will. But when she dreams, it will be of a woman she knows she loves.