Bella watched as the deer nibbled on the soft dewy grass, its ears perked up, high on alert for any predators. She remained unmoving, unnatural to the human eye, but it worked by causing her prey to let its guard down. No doubt when it sensed her, it would bolt away. Not that it would save the deer, but it had a desire to live as most creatures and its flight reflex would be in high gear.
She remained still for several moments before she darted forward. The deer as she predicted, bolted, but she had it within her grasp in mere seconds. It wiggled and squirmed, but it ended when she snapped its neck and sank her teeth into its flesh. She quickly drained the deer before deposing the carcass.
Bella found a rock and sat on it with a soft sigh of frustration. It had been twelve years since her disastrous 18th birthday party and it had only been eight years since she had been changed into a vampire.
Edward had left her along with the rest of the Cullens three days after her party. He had made it more than clear that she wasn't good enough for him and that he didn't want her. She had sunk into a deep depression for months, so frightening that Charlie had wanted to send her to her mother, but she had refused and decided to focus on trying to get better. When she did, things actually began to improve, and she had realized that she had allowed herself to become a shell of the person she was all because of some boy. She should have mourned and moved on, not become a wreck for months, scaring her father and shutting herself off from her human friends. She had promised herself that it would never again be like that and as far as she was concerned, Edward wasn't good enough for her.
Bella had apologized to her father and threw herself back into life with a renewed vigor. Caring for her mother had made Bella gain some maturity compared to her classmates, but she realized she still didn't know everything, and she had been missing out on life. Bella allowed herself to relax somewhat, and she found a quiet and steady confidence. She graduated from Forks High before going off to college in Florida where she double majored in English Literature and Business with a minor in Culinary Arts. She had a whole life ahead of her and she had planned to live it to the fullest.
However, one night, after a night out with some girlfriends in Forks during Spring Break, Bella had been surprised to run into Laurent himself. He had joined the Denali up north in Alaska, but she knew by his eyes that he had been cheating the diet. He told her he was scouting the area as a favor to Victoria, a fact that had dismayed Bella. She had thought that with the death of her mate James, that Victoria had slunk off defeated, but never to return. Laurent had corrected her naive beliefs. Victoria had simply been biding her time and had decided to settle upon a mate for a mate. However, Laurent was thirsty and decided that Bella was more suited to be his next meal than the victim of Victoria's revenge.
He had attacked her and left, thinking she was dead, but after an agonizing three days, Bella had woken up as a vampire. She was stronger, faster, and more agile. Her features were enhanced. Her hair, which at the time she had straightened, had reverted to its natural state of soft corkscrew curls that were glossy and black as the night that reached the middle of her back. Her light brown skin was flawless, her lips full and lovely and instead of chocolate brown eyes, her eyes were a deep crimson color, though after her steady vegetarian diet, they changed into liquid gold.
Afterwards, Bella had run into Laurent again, and with her newborn strength and speed, she had tackled him and severed his arms and legs in a brutality that surprised her. Bella had asked him several times where Victoria was, but he was unwilling to help and so she had ended his life. Bella had remembered how Jasper and Emmett had dismembered James and thrown his parts into the fire and she did the same to Laurent.
Bella then took to traveling the world, making sure to avoid the sunlight and suspicion. She kept to the animal diet that the Cullens had followed as she had no desire to feed on humans. During her travels, she had made several friends and would visit them from time to time. She always checked in on Charlie and her hare-brained mother from time to time even though they were both under the belief that she was dead. And every now and then she would try and see if she could hunt down Victoria, but every time it ended in frustrating failure as she didn't have the slightest clue as to how to track a vampire. And now she was in Alaska, trying to enjoy the view and feeing on the wildlife.
At the present, she headed northwest towards Alaska, the biggest state in the country, with plenty of nature and wildlife and with less humans and thus more suitable for a vampire.
The sound of footsteps and the scent of another vampire caused Bella to shoot to her feet on high alert when a woman stepped into view and came to a stop. She was strikingly beautiful with pale skin and curly strawberry blonde hair that reached the middle of her back. She looked to be just an inch taller than Bella, so she was around 5"5. What was most noticeable was that she had gold eyes as well. Another vegetarian? She then recalled that the Denali coven that lived in Alaska and were "cousins" to the Cullen's.
"Who are you?" The woman asked, in slight accent that sounded somewhere from Eastern Europe or maybe Russia?
"Bella, I'm just passing through the area," she answered, still cautious.
"Bella, as in Bella Swan?" The woman asked, her eyes wide.
The woman took a step forward and Bella let out a slight warning growl. She held up her hands in a placating gesture.
"I mean you no harm," The woman stated calmly. "My name is Tanya and I'm the head of the coven that lives nearby."
"Tanya Denali?" She remembered the name. The lovely vampire that was leader of another vegetarian coven and she had once felt jealousy towards.
"Yes." Tanya smiled. "Everyone has thought you dead these past years."
"Dead?" Bella repeated with a frown. "Did Alice see something?"
"She saw Laurent attack and drain you," Tanya admitted, and Bella nodded with a grimace.
"Well, yes, that did happen," she said with a sigh. "But I lived and went through a very slow change."
"They will be glad to hear that you are alive and a vampire. Edward loved you like no other."
"I doubt that," Bella said slightly amused. He had left her, and had made it abundantly clear that he didn't want her. It was his prerogative, but she no longer ached over him. And she didn't love him.
"Would you like to come back to my home?" Tanya offered. "And meet the rest of my coven?"
"I would love to," Bella said and the woman smiled, and she motioned for her to follow. They dashed through the forest until they came into a snowy white clearing with a road leading up a hill where a cozy looking yet large two-story house rested at the top. It was a built mostly in brick and some stone lined with wood, with sloping roofs and several windows. There was a great circular driveway that went underneath a great roof covered arch. She saw a beige Tahoe and a black Jeep parked out front.
As they approached the house, she could see five other vampires awaiting them. Bella hesitated, and Tanya gave her a reassuring smile.
"Don't worry, they are just curious, and they mean no harm."
"Tanya?" A woman with long corn silk colored hair and the same accent spoke. "Who is this?"
"Kate, this is the infamous Bella Swan," Tanya introduced and Bella gave everyone a small yet warm smile.
"Edward's Bella?" Another woman spoke in the same accent, she was very petite, and with chin length pale blonde hair.
"Just Bella, he broke up with me," Bella said mildly.
"Bella, these are my sisters, Kate and Irina," Tanya said before motioning to a couple. The man was about 5"11 with olive skin and dark brown hair. He looked to be in his late twenties. The woman next to him, looked to be about Tanya's height with long waist length dark brown hair, and an olive complexion. "This is Carmen and Eleazar. They are both mates."
And then she motioned to a tall, lanky looking man with sandy blonde hair. "This is Garrett, Kate's mate and the newest addition to our coven."
"Nice to meet you all," Bella said politely taking them in.
"It's nice to put a face to you, though I am surprised you are alive," Kate said, as she walked over to Garrett.
"So, I heard."
"And Laurent, that bastard," Irina seethed with a shake of her head. "To not only cheat his diet, but then to attack you and flee?"
"Oh well, I killed him," Bella said somewhat awkwardly. She hoped that wouldn't cause any problems, because she didn't regret it not one bit. He deserved to die, and she hoped that she made his last few moments on earth, agonizing.
"You killed him?" Kate asked, her eyes wide with shock.
"I was a newborn then. I tore him to pieces trying to get him to tell me more about where Victoria was," Bella informed them. "When he refused, I ended him."
"Impressive!" Carmen exclaimed, her voice filled with awe. "He was almost four hundred years old." Bella gave her a smug smile. He was that old? She hoped he found that aspect humiliating as he died.
"I know I am no fighter, nor do I have experience, but I figured my newborn strength would give me an edge and it did." There was laughter around the room.
She noticed Eleazar staring at her. "What?"
"You are a shield," he stated, amazed.
Bella looked at him in pure confusion. "Excuse me?"
"A shield," he repeated, in a Spanish accented voice. "I have the ability to sense the type of gift a vampire has and its strength. And you are a very powerful mental shield."
Bella was stunned for several moments. "I see, so this must be why when I was human, Edward could not read my mind."
"Holy shit," Kate muttered.
"Yes," Eleazar confirmed. "Your gift is so powerful that it appeared, though muted, when you were a human,"
"I think you all are overwhelming her," Carmen said, giving her a sympathetic look. "Let's go inside and we can talk a bit more there when Bella is more adjusted."
"Um, do you mind if I change clothes somewhere?" Bella asked. Tanya smiled and showed her a guest room that had a shower. She brought her a few towels. Bella kicked off her shoes and clothes and stepped into the shower. She also washed her hair and put conditioner on it, before stepping out and drying off. She slipped on a pair of black skinny jeans a black long-sleeved body armor shirt and a short sleeved purple striped plaid shirt that she only buttoned the bottom three buttons on. She ran a wide comb through hair until it was presentable before she went downstairs to join the rest of the Denali.
"So, I'm a mental shield, and a pretty powerful one at that," she mused and Eleazar nodded.
"You would have to work on it, but I'm pretty sure that if you did, you could learn to project it and protect others as well."
"Really? That's awesome!" Bella found her excitement steadily growing.
There was laughter from the rest of the group at her words. "How long have you been a vampire?" Tanya asked.
"It will be ten years next year."
"And by yourself the whole time?" Eleazar asked as he exchanged surprised looked with his coven mates.
"Hmm, what you would call a nomad basically," Bella said with a grin. "Haven't had any human blood either," For all the problems that she had, she was very good as a vampire.
"Your self control is amazing," Kate said and Bella beamed at her.
"Do any of the rest of you have powers?" She asked, her curiosity piqued.
"I do," Kate said with a sly grin. "It's mental, but it's a very effective power."
"What is it?"
"She can send electric shocks from hell through your body," Garrett muttered and Kate playfully smacked his arm.
"But yes, Bella, I can control how high or low the voltage is, and I can cover my entire body with it as sort of a shield," Her grin became bigger and Bella's eyes widened.
"Impressive," she complimented, wondering why Edward had never told her that. Then she dismissed the thought immediately. It's because he was overbearing and thought she couldn't handle the truth like some nitwit. He had done her a favor in breaking up with her, that at least she could see now.
She then addressed Kate. "Can you help me?"
Kate looked at her sisters before nodding. "Of course, it would be my pleasure."
"Oh, thank you!" Bella said, truly grateful.
"There is one more thing that you should know, Bella," Tanya began, her voice softening slightly.
"What is it?" She was ready for anything as long as she developed her shield.
"The Cullens will be here at the end of the week."
Bella had not taken the news too well and had stormed off in a rare display of temper. Why? Why? She wanted to leave, but then she would miss her opportunity to work on her shield, and Bella refused to pass it up just because of the Cullens. And apparently, they were coming in two separate groups. The Cullens were dropping by first, before Jasper and his friends arrived. Apparently there had been a huge falling out between Jasper and the rest of the family, which worried Bella, but when she pressed for more details later, she had been rebuffed.
She had returned and after apologizing got down to work. The first few days were discouraging to say the least as Bella hadn't been able to move her shield at all.
"Are you even sure I can project it?" Bella asked, frustrated after another failed attempt.
"Do you doubt Eleazar's gift now?" Kate asked, raising an eyebrow.
"No," she huffed. "It's just so damn hard."
"It's never easy in the beginning Bella," Kate said. "It will just take practice and practice." Bella scowled, but tried focusing again. She could feel the elastic band of her mental shield, but it was hard to pull it out to shield others. She felt it expand a bit and snap back into her.
"Give me a few minutes!" She said, completely exasperated. She was mentally exhausted.
"Okay, we will take ten," Kate said, and Bella sat down on a boulder in relief. After ten minutes, she was feeling better and ready to try again.
"Okay, Bella," Kate said with a wide grin on her lovely face. "Try and shield Garrett." Garrett had volunteered to be the test dummy, which made her feel awful. She concentrated and felt the elastic band of her shield once more and tried to push it out.
Kate watched her for a few moments and then touched Garrett, who immediately winced.
"Sorry!" Bella said, horrified and with a great mental heave she pushed her mental shield out. "Okay, Kate," she said through gritted teeth. Kate touched Garrett who gave a sigh of relief and Bella grinned as she saw her shield was working. It didn't last for long when it snapped back, and Garrett let out a yelp and collapsed to the ground.
"It's okay, Bella," Garrett growled as he rose to his feet. "I'm sure you are progressing faster than most vampires with gifts, right Kate?"
Kate pursed her lips and frowned. "She has great potential Garrett, she can do more than what she is doing now."
Bella bit back a snarl at her words and looked down at the snow-covered ground angrily.
The next day, produced better results. Bella was able to shield Garrett longer, but she could not expand her shield further out.
"Tell me, how does my mental shield feel like an elastic band, but it is so difficult to move?"
"Practice makes perfect, when you have the control, it will move as you will," Kate assured her and Bella nodded. By the end of the week, she had not expanded her shield much, but she could keep Garrett shielded for a good fifteen minutes, before it snapped back to her.
"Bella, you are doing amazing!" Irina had cheered her on and Bella let out a light laugh, despite the circumstances.
"Alright, everyone," Tanya announced as she entered the main living room. "The Cullens should be here within the hour."
Bella had changed into another pair of black skinny jeans and a dark grey sweater. She wore her hair freely with the exception of a grey piece of silk that she wrapped around the front to act as a headband/hold for her hair. She sat stoically on one of the chairs, her arms folded and ready for anything.
She could sense several other vampires on the other side of the door and grimaced. Tanya made her way to the door and answered it. Bella watched as the Cullens filed into the main room, led by Carlisle and Esme, followed by Rosalie and Emmett, Alice, and finally, Edward. They took her in with matching expressions of shock.
"Bella?" Carlisle breathed. The Cullen patriarch was clearly at a loss for what to say. He looked as movie star handsome as ever with his neatly combed blonde hair, chiseled face, and warm amber eyes.
Bella said nothing when Edward came rushing forward, his face a mixture of shock and joy. This surprised her, but it changed nothing as far as she was concerned.
"Edward," Bella greeted coolly.
"Love, I," he trailed off a bit at her coldness. "We thought you were dead."
"No, Laurent thought I was dead and left, but I wasn't," she said shortly.
Edward rushed in front of her, going onto his knees, his face filled with anguish. "I am so sorry, Bella!" He dry sobbed, burying his face in his hands.
Bella leaned back and sighed. "Edward, I got over you a long time ago. Save your apologies."
"No, love, you don't understand!" Edward shook his head. "I never meant what I said to you in the forest, I knew you wouldn't let me go so I had to break you."
Bella felt her fury rise at his words. "Break me?" She repeated with a snarl. "You bastard! As if that is how you treat someone that you claim to love!"
"I am so sorry love," Edward repeated, his face twisted in agony.
"I don't want to hear it, Edward," Bella snapped. "We are over. We have been over. End of story." She turned her gaze to the rest of the Cullens. Alice stepped forward, clearly nervous and wringing her hands.
"Bella, we thought you were dead," she said, her voice choking at the end. "I have missed you so much!"
"You left without saying goodbye on the whims of your brother," Bella pointed out her voice softer. "And remind me again, who is the head of the Cullen family?"
"I am," Carlisle stated, as he stepped forward. "Bella, I owe you a sincere apology for what happened. We should have never left you, no matter what happened between you and Edward."
Bella eyed him but nodded. "No, you shouldn't have, and I am still angry about it."
"How are you alive?" Alice exclaimed. "I saw Laurent bite and drain you!"
"I didn't die that's how," Bella snapped. "And aren't your visions subjective, Alice?" Really, she should have known better. "And why were you getting visions of me when you left as well?"
"Bella, I, we.." Alice was at a loss for words and she sighed.
"Perhaps you should be careful as to not overwhelm her," Kate advised, her tone light but there was a warning in it.
"Trust me Kate, I'm not overwhelmed," Bella assured her with a gentle smile. "I can handle myself now." Here she looked down at Edward, who was dry sobbing.
"Oh Edward, come now, you broke up with me," she pointed out harshly. "And yes, I get that you lied, but these are the consequences you wrought on yourself."
"Bella," Emmett approached her cautiously, nervous and distressed. He had been like a big, goofy, brother to her. But he had left all the same.
Bella turned her gaze upon him. No one would deny her this. They deserved the lecture she was about to give them.
She raised an eyebrow at him. "You left me too, Emmett. Clearly you had your priorities, but you cannot approach me, expecting for things to be the same." His face fell at her words and it pulled at her heartstrings somewhat, but she was not moving, not in this.
Rosalie growled at her and Bella slowly turned her heads toward the beautiful blonde goddess. There was nothing about her that intimidated Bella anymore. She was over Rosalie and whatever reason she had for disliking her.
"You made it clear you disliked me from the beginning," she began softly. "There is nothing to hold against you because you do not matter to me." Rosalie's eyes widened in outrage before Bella gave her a dismissive look before turning away.
"Perhaps it would be best if everyone took a break for a while," Irina interjected, looking around the tense room.
"Why didn't you tell us that Bella was alive?" Edward asked angrily.
"Because, we had just found out, and it wasn't our place to tell when clearly Bella had issues with the way you left her," Tanya snapped, staring him down.
"A break sounds like a good idea for several people to come to terms with what is going on," Bella stated, before rising to her feet and striding off to her room and shutting the door. She let out an irritated huff before sitting on the bed. She grabbed a bag and pulled out her laptop and began to browse the internet. Hours passed when she heard the sound of a car approaching and she perked up. It must be Jasper and his friends.
Curious, and wondering what the hell had happened between him and the Cullens, she walked around the corner and stopped at the top of the stairs when she saw the Denali were chatting with Jasper and his two friends. Bella paused on the stairs, willing herself to be still as she took in the trio of vampires. Besides Jasper, there was another man, this one with pale blond hair, and a height of six feet and two inches. He had a lean but fitting build and crimson eyes. There was a woman as well and she was surprisingly short, but not as short as Alice. Her hair was wavy and pale blonde as well and fell to just below her shoulders.
She then turned her focus onto Jasper who was now looking straight at her. She felt her breath hitch as she took him in. How had she missed it? When she was young and with Edward, she had thought him an Adonis with whom no one could compare to, but Jasper was a god. He had honey blonde hair that fell to just below his chin, golden eyes, and a medium build. He towered at six feet, taller than everyone else with the exception of Emmett. He was wearing a fitted long sleeves black shirt and black jeans with boots. She could see vaguely the scars that lined his hands, but they did nothing to distract from how handsome he was or the fact that she felt a pull at her heart.
Bella shook herself from her thoughts and called down to Tanya. "Did the Cullens leave?" She asked, drawing everyone's attention to her. It did nothing to help the fact that she already had butterflies fluttering around in her stomach.
"They went hunting," Tanya informed her. "Get down here!"
Bella tried to calm herself and walked down the stairs to where they had gathered. "Hi," she said quietly, not daring to look Jasper in the face. What the hell was wrong with her?
"Hey Bella," Jasper said, his voice warm and deep, and he spoke with a southern accent that sent chills down her spine, though she still didn't look at him.
"Bella, you know Jasper, this is Peter and Charlotte Whitlock," Tanya said introducing her to the couple besides Jasper.
"Hey suga," Charlotte said warmly and Bella smiled.
"Hey there," Peter said with a smirk before elbowing Jasper. "I told you, didn't I?"
"Uh, oh," Kate said with a mischievous smile. "I know that look! Someone has found their mate!"
"Oh, well, congratulations Jasper," Bella said, trying to stomp down the surge of jealously she just felt. "I'm gonna go upstairs and do...some things," Before she could even leave, Edward had come crashing through the door, his eyes wide and frantic.
"No!" He yelled, when Jasper turned to him and let out a terrifying growl. "Fuck off," he snarled.
"Back up Eddie boy," Peter warned. "Don't do anything stupid."
"She's mine!" Edward yelled when Bella rushed towards him, her temper flaring.
"I am not!" She yelled, when he grabbed her and flipped her over his shoulders onto her feet behind him, blocking her from view of everyone.
Something about Jasper had changed and it sent a shudder down her spine when she saw his back straighten, his eyes darken, and became cold and terrifying.
"Everybody get back!" Peter warned as him and Charlotte with the rest of the Denali backed up.
Bella shook her head at this. "You guys had better not fight in here," she growled, glaring at the two of them. She tried to move around Edward, but he held his hand out, effectively blocking her from going forward.
Bella simply turned and darted out the front door. Of course, Edward followed her and caught her quickly, but Jasper came charging out and he sunk into a crouch. His gaze was terrible, and his lips had curled back into a frightening snarl.
She could sense the other Cullen's approaching as Edward lunged forward towards Jasper. Jasper sprung and caught him, slamming him by the neck into the ground.
Bella heard Alice scream and dart forward, when Charlotte intercepted her and grabbed her by the neck.
"Not so fast pixie," she growled and Bella had to admit, she was impressed.
"Don't interfere," Peter warned the rest of the group. "This is between the Major and Edward." The Major? Bella was keeping up, but she was still confused as to what was going on.
Jasper or "The Major" tore both of Edward's arms off leaving Edward howling in agony. Esme let out a cry and Carlisle and Emmett made to intervene when Peter stood right in front of them.
"Let's see," he pretended to muse. "One seasoned warrior with about half a century under his belt, trained by the God of War himself, versus two vegetarian vampires who lead a calm life." Both Emmett and Carlisle heeded his warning though and backed down though it was with great reluctance.
Bella turned her attention back to Edward and the Major. He grabbed Edward's head and pulled up. She could hear the cracks and knew Edward would be decapitated if she didn't intervene. "No, please, please!" She screamed, and the Major's head snapped towards her, and he paused in his actions. She felt a wave of displeasure wash over her, but surprisingly it didn't affect her mood. That's when she realized that instead of attempting to control how she felt, he had sent her that emotion to show her how he felt. And he was not happy with her.
"Don't kill him," Bella pleaded, approaching him with caution. He was so different from the Jasper she knew. The one that had said that she was "worth it".
"You can kill me, but don't kill him," she said, cursing herself inwardly for saying so. Bella was trying to divert his attention, but if what Peter said was true, then the man before her was dangerous. She wasn't going to have anyone dying on her part. Even if it was trifling Edward. She just hoped she didn't actually end up dying. Especially for that idiot, Edward.
There were gasps all around her at her words and the Major dropped Edward and slammed his boot into his back before turning towards her.
"Oh Bella, honey," Charlotte said, her voice sympathetic.
"You had better not ever say such a thing to me again, suga," he growled, stepping towards her.
"Bella," Edward rasped from where he was at on the ground. "Run," he choked out. "He was a confederate soldier in the civil war. I read his mind! No one has ever beaten him in a fight and lived to tell about it!"
Stunned silence filled the area and Bella looked up at Jasper with wide frightened eyes. She was the deer this time, and he was the apex predator.
"Bella, he's not gonna hurt you," Peter said softly.
Bella shook her head wildly, before taking a step back. Could she outrun him? His legs were much longer than hers, and he was over six feet, while she was only a measly five feet and four inches.
"Is that why you lunged at me on my birthday party?" She asked Jasper, taking another step back. "I thought it was because you felt the bloodlust of everyone around you, including Edward's who had the worst of it since I was his singer, but maybe it wasn't that? Maybe it was my race and you don't like me?"
"No," he said firmly, eyeing her warily. He sent her his sincerity, but she brushed it off.
"Bella, if he gets you, you'll be his slave!" Edward shouted.
"Edward, you lying sack of shit!" Emmett asked, clearly outraged.
The Major gave Edward a look that had him cowering on the ground, but Bella wasn't too concerned as something wasn't right.
"Wait a minute," she began, her eyes narrowed, turning to her ex and making a step towards him. "When did you find that out Edward?"
"Oh, do tell her Edward," Rosalie snapped, her face twisted in fury.
"Since I first met him and Alice," Edward rasped. "I made an error in judgement..." She cut him off with a snarl.
"Are you using the racism against my people in this country to manipulate me?" She screamed out, her body shaking with rage. That selfish asshole!
"Bella, love," She cut him off, holding her hands to her ears in frustration. "No! I don't want to hear it!" And with that, she bolted like the deer she had hunted, her legs pushing her as fast as she could.