I approached the throne room. My parents sat at their extravagant thrones in the middle of the room. My father sat tall, smiling handsomely, the sunlight glinting on his pale blonde hair from the skylight above.

King Carlisle Cullen, of the Kingdom of Volterra.

My mother was the picture of grace, caramel curls pinned to the top of her head, her kind face full of happiness as she laughed.

Queen Esme Cullen.

You wouldn't have thought that they were what they were from a first glance. But then you caught the tell tale signs.

The pale skin.

The inhuman beauty.

The rigid posture.

The lack of the need to even breathe.

The dark shadows under the golden, butterscotch eyes.


Just like myself, obviously. .

"Good morning, Son." My father greeted me. My mother smiled at me, excitement in her eyes, no doubt for what would be sure to unfold tonight. I nodded tersely.

"Good morning, mother and father. I came to speak with you." I told them. They already knew, of course, what I wanted to speak with them about. It had been a constant, never ending argument over the last few months. My father sighed heavily and ran a hand through his blonde coils of hair.

"Edward. We've been over this. The Sire Ball is not optional. You simply must go through with it, despite your reservations." Carlisle told me.

I don't understand your aversion to the idea. Don't you want to find someone? My mother asked me in her thoughts.

"I understand the idea. And it is not my aversion to find someone, Mother. But these girls are innocent humans. They deserve better than to be damned to this, simply because I felt something that they may not even reciprocate. It is unjust to subject them this way. Besides, how do we even know that I will find someone at all?" I asked in frustration. I did not regret for a second being adopted into my family as a child, or being turned into what I was, but that hardly meant that I'd subject a young, innocent human girl to this life. A survival that relied on blood for sustenance. I'd been begging for this damned ball to be called off for months. But this was the one thing on which my parents would not budge. Before they could respond, my sister danced into the room, my brother at her side.

"Because I've seen it, Edward. We've been over this." Alice sang out. Alice was a tiny little thing with waves of ink black hair flowing just past her shoulders. Jasper stood next to her, a slight grin on his face as Alice reached out and tucked one of his blonde curls behind his ear. I sighed and rolled my eyes at their antics. He had chosen Alice as his mate 3 years ago, when he would have turned 19 years old. When it came to the royal vampire family, only sons could be 'adopted' into the family.

Once the queen was changed as my mother had been, she had the right to choose three human males, young in age, to be raised here at the Volterra Palace as her sons. They would grow up learning about this world, and about what they would become as my brothers and I had. At the age of 17, they would be changed. They were given five years after their change to choose a human girl as their mate. This was how the royal family acquired daughters. However, since I was the "eldest", and to become king one day, I had to endure the great Sire Ball. 25 human girls were chosen from the 12 rich human provinces to attend the ball. Supposedly, I was to Sire one of them by the end of the night and make her my Queen. I had great doubt in the idea that I might find a mate among the 25 girls, but my family was adamant with their belief in the institution.

"Edward's much too thick headed to listen." Emmett's boisterous laughter filled the room as he entered with Rosalie by his side. Emmett had short dark hair, while Rosalie had waves of golden silk cascading down her back. She was the newest addition to the royal family. Emmett had chosen her barely two years ago. I remembered the experience vividly. My brothers and I had been traveling through the provinces on our way to hunt, when we heard a girl's frantic screams. We found her being raped and abused by a group of vile, despicable men. Emmett in his fury, killed every last one of them and brought Rosalie to the palace, quite a feat considering her extensive wounds. She was covered in blood when he picked her up. But he was immediately taken by her shining blue eyes, awake and alert through the entire trip back. When we returned, Emmett proclaimed that he had chosen the injured human girl as his mate. There had been quite a haste to prepare the changing ceremony for the new Princess fast enough to make sure she stayed alive. I shook myself out of the memory to glare at Alice.

She had been immediately accepted into the family when Jasper chose her. Her entrance to the family had been somewhat less difficult. She had been brought to the palace as a human by a Tracker named James. He had been hired by the insane asylum where Alice had been an inmate to track her after her escape. He had then brought her to us, insisting that she deserved punishment when he felt he did not receive proper compensation from the asylum. But the moment Jasper saw her, none of that had mattered. She was changed and James left the palace ashamed and embarrassed at bringing up significant charges towards the future Princess. Her visions of the future were the reason for her imprisonment, but had proved quite an asset to the Royal Court in her four years as Princess. Unfortunately for me, she had long since learned of ways to block my mind reading abilities. She was hiding what she had seen, so I couldn't know if she was right about my finding a suitable mate at the ball.

"If you've seen it, then why won't you show me?" I asked through gritted teeth. Alice rolled her eyes as she gracefully swept up onto her throne with Jasper by her side. Emmett and Rose quickly followed.

"You know how my visions work. The future is a result of our decisions. Showing you the future now would change it later. " Alice recited patiently. She had an evil glint in her golden eyes. She loved having the upper hand. I grumbled as I made my way over to my own throne. The preparations for tonight were being set into place and soon enough I would see if Alice was right. Of course, she had never been wrong before and I'd learned not to doubt her. Esme looked over at me with a sympathetic smile on her face.

Trust us, Son. It will all work out in the end, I promise.

The direction for everything is still being decided, I am just now getting back to something I started years ago. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Bella's POV is next.

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