"How is it possible that you let them escape?" Aro demanded as soon as he was out of my bubble.

Jane and Alec looked emotionless and innocent, until Jane's lips lifted ever so slightly into a smirk.

"I thought it might be more fun to chase them." She said softly. "There is so little that amuses us, I thought this might be fun."

Alec nodded. "They were standing there like sacrificial lambs. It was boring. We decided to let them run so we might have a little hunting expedition."

Aro sighed deeply, rubbing his temples in a human gesture of annoyance. "Didn't anyone think to stop them from escaping? Am I surrounded by idiocy?"

"You can't mean that you wished us to stop those two miscreants from running? Isn't that what we have the twins for, or indeed the new member of the guard?" Caius looked very put out at the thought, while Marcus appeared disinterested. I'd often thought that Marcus was half petrified, like he'd just existed for too long and couldn't be bothered any longer.

"I'm not entirely unhappy with this turn of events. I would like Chelsea to accompany you on the hunt. I want her to try and bind them to us." Aro said matter of factly.

"What! You still want to keep them?" Jane was aghast.

"Yes, I wish to try and spare their abilities for they will only strengthen our ranks. No one would be able to defeat us then."

I was aghast, my sacrifice, all for nothing!

"I became immortal so that you wouldn't need them!" I exclaimed.

"Ah, but I've decided we should at least try to save them - now that they've escaped." Aro looked speculative. "My dear Isabella, you becoming an immortal was already written in stone the day you fell in love with a vampire." He shrugged. "It was inevitable."

"Always plotting, Aro." Jasper said at last, sarcastically with a smirk on his sensual lips. "It won't work this time however, Alice and Edward will be jealous and I will not put Bella in danger."

Aros' eyes narrowed. "I wasn't asking your permission, brother. If Alice remains jealous we will keep her away from you and your mate, or you could just take another into your bed. It's not unheard of to have two mates. As for Edward, I'm sure we can provide enough distraction even for him."

Jasper smirked at Aro while my belly rolled around in pure jealousy. Share Jasper with Alice? Never! Be condemned to an eternity of Edward's pained expression? Insufferable!

Never fear, presa, I would never do that to you. If we ever did bring a third to our union, it would be of both our choosing and it definitely wouldn't be Alice. As for Edward - I'd kill him. It wouldn't last.

I calmed somewhat as Jasper's voice soothed my mind.

"For me - no one can compare to my mate and I have no wish to revisit that particular garden." Jasper's lips twitched and even Aro smirked.

"It's up to you, brother. It was merely a suggestion." Aro replied.

"Edward and Alice will be nothing more than a liability and they will betray us. When that day comes I will kill them." Jasper's tone booked no argument.

I took Jasper's hand when he held it out to me. His large hands engulfed mine and I felt safe in a way I'd only ever experienced with him.

Snip, snip, snip, all the ties from my old life were falling away as I watched my coven gather the pieces of my former family and piled them for burning.

Acid smoke filled my nostrils, strangely sweet, cloying.

I stood there mesmerised.

Jasper was there, lifting my face to his. His large hands cradled my face with a tenderness which moved my heart. His strength grounded me, I knew I was safe and despite my own power this was comforting.

I leaned into him, my lips on his, his tongue swept the cobwebs from my brain. I realised that the numbness I was feeling might be shock. Could vampires go into shock?

Yes, we can, if the trauma is great enough.

Jasper told me while he kissed me deeply, until my legs grew weak with desire and heat encased every nerve.

So this is it - I'm not so strong after all. I replied.

Anyone would be in shock after watching someone they know die. Someone they once loved.

Jasper pulled back slowly. Stroking my cheeks with his thumbs.

You're the bravest person I know. He said, pride in every inflection.

To outsiders our interaction would appear strange, we simply stood there gazing at each other while having an entirely mental conversation.

"Will you come with us?" Jane asked me.

I shook my head, but before I could reply Aro interrupted.

"Go with Jane, my dear, support their efforts and retrieve Edward and Alice." He turned to my mate. "Jasper, you will lead the party."




It didn't take long to find them. The trail was far from cold and we had every skill at our disposal.

Chelsea has been working on tethering their loyalty to us long before we confronted them. She said it was working.

When we finally came face to face with them it was obvious that they had been affected.

"Surrender or die." Jasper told them quietly, his tone calm while his words were not.

Edward glanced at me, his face twisting into misery at the sight of me. I was crouched above them on a tree branch fifty feet up, my cloak rippling around me in the icy night air.

"It seems we don't have a choice." Alice said softly, her gaze fixed on Jasper's face.

"I was in favour of making you both suffer before burning you. But I've been told to make you welcome." Jane said quietly. She looked at me. "Sister, come, let us go home."

I nodded and dropped to the ground beside her. I was happy for these two to witness my new family dynamics, it gave me a certain malicious pleasure.

Alec nodded to me and we fell into formation around the two Cullens, with Jasper at my side.

"She doesn't speak much." Edward commented after a few minutes. He was speaking to Jasper about me.

Jasper's lips twitched in amusement. "She speaks when she needs to. I find her rather chatty."

"I still can't hear her mind." Edward sounded pained. "I can only hear what you say to her and I must deduce the rest."

It was my turn to smile.

"Be careful, you will not like all that you hear."

I ignored the heavy silence all the way back to our rendezvous with our coven.




"We are returning to Volterra." Aro announced soon after our arrival. He'd been fawning over the Cullen trio ever since.

I was taken aback. Go to Volterra? The Volturi stronghold still held disturbing connotations for me. Human perceptions of fear and death lingered strangely.

Don't worry, presa, it's our home, you will love it there.

I smiled at my lover. If Jasper were there, I was sure that hell itself would be agreeable. This was the new chapter in my existence and I was eager to begin with it.