Everyone in the room was silent. Esme and Carlisle just looked at each other, trying to decide what to say. Jasper still stared at Bella, and she knew that he was as in the dark as she, was about the whereabouts of Edward.
The silence was broken when Alice skipped back into the room. She must have felt the tension, because she looked at everyone's faces with a curious gaze.
"Robert's making you something now." She sat down right away and gave a funny look to Carlisle. "What did I miss?"
"I was wondering where Edward was," Bella said. She bit her lip at the hard edge that she heard in her voice. She didn't mean to be cruel to Alice.
"Where is he?" Jasper finally spoke up. "I thought he was with her." He was speaking to Carlisle and Esme, and Bella could see his annoyance at not being included in what ever had happened.
Esme took a deep breath and looked at Bella, her gaze far away and she had the glimmer of tears in her eyes. Bella immediately sat down worried.
"He went back to the house," she said flatly and Bella saw her grab Carlisle's hand.
"He did what?" Jasper stood up, hitting the table, and spilling a glass of water everywhere. "Didn't you tell him?"
"I tried," Esme wasn't stopping the tears. "I tried to tell him that he had to stay to see this through, but he wouldn't listen."
Robert stepped into the dining room then. He had a plate of steaming chicken and vegetables. He placed it in front of Bella and quickly exited, he eyes darting nervously as if he was afraid to be too close to her.
"Esme, we have to get him back." Jasper had sat back down, but the tension in him was still obvious.
"Edward, doesn't believe any of it, and her blood is making him…," Esme said turning her head slightly towards Bella to indicate that she was talking about her. "He can't do this alone."
"Well, we'll just take her to him then," Jasper said resolutely.
"It won't work," Carlisle finally spoke. "He'll feel her and bolt again."
Bella had heard enough to know that she was sick of being talked about like she wasn't sitting there. Her head was spinning and, suddenly, all the emotions that had been dormant since the kidnapping rushed forward. Pushing her untouched plate out of the way she stood up and glared at all of them.
"I am right here," she said with annoyance. "Would somebody, please, tell me what the hell is going on?"
Esme got up and came over by her. Putting her around her, she eased her back into the chair.
"Eat Bella," she said softly. "And I will explain it to you."
"No!" she said jerking herself away from Esme. "Fuck that! I've been kidnapped, my family doesn't know who the hell I am anymore, I watched a kid that I went to school with try to suck the blood out of my sister and then be decapitated in front of me, and I played blood host to some sort of parasite, and you want me to sit and eat while you to talk circles around me? No!"
Bella looked toward the food and she wasn't hungry anymore. Instead, she was shaking and her eyes burned with tears that didn't fall.
"Bella," Esme tried again. "I understand. This has been a lot for you."
Carlisle and Jasper moved in their chairs to face them, but Alice just remained as she was. Bella glared at all of them.
"A lot for me?" Bella said with a mocking tone. "That's an understatement."
"You're not thinking clearly," Carlisle jumped in. "You need to relax and eat."
"The hell I need to relax," she said through clench teeth.
Esme placed her arms around her again and Bella felt her muscles relax. She placed her elbows on the table and her head in her hands. For the first time, Bella wanted her mother. She wanted to go back and curl into her mom's arms like a small child and forget all of this. She wanted to forget that Edward had taken her, everything that she had been told, and she wanted to forget the feelings of her blood being pulled out of her.
She didn't want to relax though. She needed to scream, yell, and throw a fit worthy of a small, spoiled child. For the second time, she squired out from Esme's caring hold.
"No," she said. Bella had wanted to sound angry and tough but instead, she sounded tired.
"Bella," Alice finally spoke up. "Let Esme calm you. Really it will help."
"What?" Bella had no idea what Alice was talking about.
"Esme has a talent that allows her to soothe and calm those around her," Carlisle supplied flatly. It sounded like he didn't want to tell her this but the question loomed heavily in her mind.
With a deep breathe of resolve, Bella pushed all of her grief, sorrow and anger to a location deep inside her heart. A twinge of foreboding entered her heart when she did this, telling her that she would come to regret hiding all of these emotions, but Esme's presence wouldn't let her dwell on it. She now understood why she had felt safe and secure around her. It was Esme's gift.
"Esme, tell her about Caius," Alice said softly and Esme turned her head to look at her.
"Alice, you don't have to stay," Esme said to her understandingly.
"No, I'm fine," she said. Her voice was unusually quiet. "Go on, explain it."
Esme nodded and turned her attention back to Bella. Patting her on the shoulder, she sat down in the chair next to her.
"My brother's name was Caius. He was quite a bit older than me and had lived through the time when Amaranthines and mortals still worked together. By the time I was born, that had ended and hybrids were a constant worry. Several years after I was born, our parents were killed by the hybrids and Caius had to take me in."
"Caius had already been known for his visions and was sought by many Amaranthines for guidance. This was difficult for him because the visions caused him great pain. After some time, he stopped seeing anyone, and him and I retreated into a solitary existence."
"His visions didn't stop though and I saw how difficult each one was for him. It was even more difficult for him to keep them to himself, so after awhile he began to confide in me."
"But that's not what you need to know about right now. You need to know about your part in all of this."
Bella nodded and reached for a piece of chicken. Esme was right, she didn't have the patience for a history lesson right now.
"You noticed your eyes, I take it?"
Again, Bella nodded and forced herself to swallow the bite of chicken that was in her mouth. She had forgotten about her eyes for awhile and a new wave of panic set in.
"You see Edward's not a danger to us, but he is to you. You haven't made the transition yet, and your body is still reacting as a mortal who has fed a hybrid."
Bella eyes widened. She didn't need Esme to say it to understand what was happening. She was going to turn into a vampire.
"No," Carlisle said quickly, reading her thoughts. "Let her finish."
Bell had forgotten that her thoughts weren't safe around him, and she cleared her mind and nodded for Esme to continue.
"You are at a crossroads right now, Bella. According to Caius, you have to choose to make the transition now or…" her voice trailed off.
Jasper jumped in. "Or we will be forever lost to the hybrids."
She could feel her stomach turn. Bella couldn't believe what she was hearing. She either had to make the transition, or all of them would eventually be killed off. She wasn't sure that she liked her options.
Forcing herself to breathe calmly, she took a quick drink of water and squared her shoulders in determination.
"Then I make the transition."
"Um," Esme started. "It's not that easy."
"Why?" Bella asked impatiently. "Carlisle said that once I made the choice, he would help me through it."
"I can't," Carlisle answered. "Edwards has to do it."
"What?" Bella was shocked. "Why Edward?"
She had had enough of Edward. She had let him drink her blood, which had put her in danger of becoming a parasite, and he had just taken off, reveling in his triumph. Bella didn't want him around for her transition.
"That is part of the vision," Esme told her softly and grabbed her hand. "Caius said that there had to be an exchange. In order for you to complete your transition, you would have to imbibe the half life of the one who is both. Meaning Edward."
"Imbibe?" Bella asked raising her eyebrow.
"That was the way that Caius said it," Esme said shrugging her shoulders. "I thought it was a strange choice of word, but that was the way that it came to him."
"What's supposed to happen to Edward then?" Bella was suddenly concerned. The way Esme told her, he may not come out of this whole.
"I don't know," she said sadly. "Caius had visions of Edward, but they were all before you. He always said that there were things that nobody, not even him, was meant to know. We'll just have to trust that you'll both come through this."
"What happens if I don't transition?" Bella spoke softly. She had to know the options.
"You'll complete the hybrid transition," Jasper was the one that spoke. "And you will have an entirely different fate, destroying us."
Well, so much for her options, she thought to herself. She quickly dismissed that. There was a bigger problem. Edward was gone. He had left her and, without him, she was going to turn into a vampire.
"Edward left," Bella said softly, more to herself than to everyone else.
"How could he leave?" Jasper asked looking at Esme. "Doesn't he understand what is on the line right now. His choice affects all of us."
Esme just shrugged and looked tired. "I told him, but he doesn't believe in Caius's visions anymore."
"Why?" Jasper sounded impatient and annoyed.
"Because her blood didn't cure him. He still felt it in him. But, I don't know, something is telling me that her transition will be his salvation. It's just a feeling that I have."
"He didn't want to hear it, did he?" Alice spoke and everyone looked to her. "He told me, that giving in to her, drinking her like that, it took away the last bit of hope that he had for himself."
"Oh Edward," Esme sobbed. She turned in to Carlisle and rested her head against his chest. Carlisle wrapped his arms around her and comforted her.
"So," Jasper said trying to sound practical. "How do we get her to him?"
"Can't we just go?," Bella supplied sounding annoyed. "I can make him stay."
"That would work to get us all in the same place, but it won't help with the transition," Carlisle said thoughtfully. "That he has to do willingly."
"We'll just explain everything to him." It bothered her that everyone was so concerned about what Edward was going through when a big part of her was glad he was suffering. She thought he deserved it.
Bella noticed Carlisle smirk at her and immediately blushed at her thoughts.
"Bella, don't you think that I tried?" Esme said.
"Bella might be able to get through to him." Alice's voice was quiet and reflective. "He's bonded to her like no one else. Even me."
Bella looked at her and wondered what she meant. She had noticed that Edward and Alice were close, but up until now, she never really questioned their relationship. The way she spoke made her think that Alice's feelings for Edward were much more than she thought.
Carlisle looked at Bella intensely, picking at her thoughts and then staring thoughtfully at Alice. Bella ignored him.
"How long do we have?" she asked trying to sound casual. "Before I, you know, vamp out?"
Jasper snorted and a huge smile came over Carlisle's face.
"Vamp out?" he asked.
"Well, yeah," Bella responded smiling facetiously back at him.
Shaking his head, he said sounding serious, "Judging from your eyes, Edward didn't hold out on you. Which is a little unusual. Hybrids normally have much more control. But I'd say that we have about four days."
Bella blushed at the reference to Edward not holding out on her. She fleetingly thought about the feelings that she had felt when he was drinking her and how it felt to have his body tight against her.
"Then we better go then shouldn't we?" she said. "It doesn't look like I have a choice in much anymore."